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Interlude

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The lights in their room are long out but Katniss has spent too long in dark places for that to be a challenge. Johanna’s body is bared to the night air and something is humming in her hands.

Katniss could feign sleep. That’s probably what a normal person would do. Then, the two of them passed normal a long while back.

Johanna laughs, rough. “Scandalised yet?”

This gives Katniss permission to roll over on her side and look up. “Should I be?”

Johanna’s wrist is still moving lazily between her legs. She says, “I picked up a few bad habits in the Capitol. Our hosts would be horrified.”

“I don’t-.”

“Not at that. At the waste. Using the power to run something like this.”

“Where did you even-?”

Johanna’s smile is wicked. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” She hums. “Maybe not. You probably wouldn’t know what to do with one.”

Johanna means it to be a joke, if not a nice one, but it’s not so far from the truth. That kind of toy wasn’t something you could get hold of in District Twelve. Katniss climbs onto Johanna’s bed – it’s not as though there’s any false modesty between them now. She covers Johanna’s hand with hers, around the smooth plastic grip. The thing shifts, where it is pressed between the folds of Johanna’s opening.

Johanna curses, grabbing Katniss’s arm and pressing tight with her nails. She leaves marks. “What the hell are you…?”

Katniss unpeels Johanna’s fingers and takes a firmer hold on the gadget. “I thought I was the one who didn’t know?”

“I never said you- fuck.”

Katniss leans forward, kneeling between Johanna’s legs. Her hair gets in the way so she pushes it over one shoulder. Johanna is still thinner than she should be, but her breast rolls warm and heavy in Katniss’s hand. Blood thrums underneath her skin and her ribs rise and fall with her quickening breath. She is right there, present, behind her eyes, and tonight Katniss could use that certainty.

Johanna jerks up, digging her heels into the small of Katniss’s back. There’s no pretence between the two them: she pulls Katniss closer and widens her legs. “C’mon, c’mon. I’ll trade you.” She threads her arm under Katniss’s, reaching into her sleep-pants and spreading her open. That is something Katniss does know – the little finger presses against her sex, exploring herself in the night, trying not to wake Prim.

Johanna is already awake. She catches Katniss’s gasp in her palm, laughing again. “You’re louder than I would have thought.”

Katniss flushes hot but only for a moment. She rocks her hand and Johanna cries out, louder again than her. Johanna is unashamed, and Katniss copies her in that. Of all the awful things the two of them have done, all the guilt they hold inside and turn to anger, this is nothing to regret. They are broken – both – and if theirs is an unconventional friendship, it is friendship even then. No one has the right to begrudge them a night without dreaming.

Johanna tugs the end of Katniss’s hair. “You’re thinking too much.”

“Another thing you wouldn’t know about,” Katniss shoots back, but she does let the thoughts go. She lets this be about Johanna’s fingers rough and warm and demanding even as they drive Katniss into pleasure. Johanna’s muscles clench around her and around the weakening vibration of the plastic. Katniss feels the increased presses as Johanna pushes insistently up against her. They are both selfish in their small pleasures: eyes closed to the world and crying out at the ceiling. Katniss tangles her fingers where Johanna’s have stilled.

Johanna grins and mutters. “Give me a sec. I’ll be right back with you.” Her hand starts moving again, quicker, and she rocks her hips up against Katniss. Johanna’s other hand ends up in Katniss’s hair, pulling just to the edge of pain. They know each other too well.

Katniss grips Johanna’s shoulder and holds on tight. There may be bruises there tomorrow, but they’ll get lost amongst the others. The humming goes through her and then the world is quiet. When Katniss falls, Johanna curses her again and rolls them both sideways. Katniss wipes the sweat off Johanna’s forehead, stroking the short hair that’s growing back in. Johanna’s forehead wrinkles. “What?”

“I think the battery in this thing is dying.”

“Capitol piece of crap. They throw things like this away, you know.”

“I’ll pick you up a new one when we go in.” Katniss taps Johanna’s arm.

“You better.” Johanna laughs. “Otherwise I'll have to rely on you to keep me amused.”

“Wouldn’t want that,” Katniss says. She curls onto her side and, when Johanna seems in no hurry to kick her out of the bed, falls back to sleep. They have training in the morning.