The first time he fucks Johanna Mason, she laughs and calls them both damaged goods and bites him, hard, where his broad shoulders meet his neck.
Gale supposes it’s true. He walks the streets of District 2, eyes wide, like he’s seeing ghosts on every street corner. And they stare at him and whisper. Maybe because they’ve seen him on the tv. Or maybe because they know a murderer when they see one.
Johanna doesn’t mind. She drinks like a fish and screams in her sleep. Sometimes she runs long, dangerous fingers through his hair and licks his teeth and calls him Killer. She’s a sadistic bitch.
They make quite a pair.
But she makes him happy. In a weird way. And it’s not about the sex. Not entirely. Although it doesn’t hurt.
She gave it up on the first date, which wasn’t even a date, just a few drinks at a back alley bar and fucking in a bathroom stall. He’s not proud of it. But unconventional works for them.
She’s seen a lot and if he looks close enough, Gale can see the scars behind her eyes. They talk about it when they feel like it and don’t when they don’t.
Sometimes Johanna looks at him and he can see the Hunger Games Victor in her eyes. Ruthless. She looks at him sideways and asks how the Kitty Cat is doing. It hurts and she knows it, but she likes to see him squirm. In response he’ll ask her if the head doctor still considers her incurably insane and she’ll crawl into his lap and kiss him till they both see stars.
They’re good for each other. It may not seem like it, but they are.
She breaks down now and then. Not often, but enough. And he holds her, whispering her name, his name, where they are, who they are, against her temple. He tells her that he loves her. Which is stupid, of course, but true.
Gale’s not sure how it came to be. From fucking in a bathroom stall to this. Anchoring each other to this world, to this new reality, for better or worse. Without each other they’d just be a couple of empty bodies floating in a sea of blood and rotting corpses.
It sounds romantic when you think of it like that. Romantic but disgusting.
Johanna makes sure Gale eats. That he doesn’t drink too much, even if she can’t help it herself. When he goes on tv, she irons his shirts. But no one’s supposed to know that. Johanna Mason has a reputation to uphold.
She keeps her hair short now. Buzzed all the way down to the scalp. She does it herself over the sink in the bathroom. Conversely, Gale lets his hair grow. Almost to his shoulders. The exact opposite of how the military cut his hair the day they initiated him. Johanna scoffs and tells him he looks revolting. That he revolts her. But what she means is that she loves him. And always will. Gale understands loving someone so much. Too much. So that you can’t even say the words because it’s like hot knives against your wrists. Gale understands that too.
They make do. And sometimes they laugh. And it’s jubilant and beautiful. They stumble through life like this, together. And for once, it’s enough.