"You really love her, don’t you?"
Gale’s eyes dart to Peeta’s blue ones, searching them for any sign of refusal. There. It’s all out on the table now. The million dollar question has finally been asked.
"Yes, I do," Peeta’s blonde head nods and Gale can’t help the wave of anger washing over his chest, coating the very insides of his heart.
"You don’t know her," Gale accuses, stepping closer to the blonde baker. "You don’t know her at all. You couldn’t even tell that the whole "I love Peeta" spiel in the arena was just an act."
Peeta’s eyes narrow at Gale, who takes it as a sign to ball his fists. If the pampered baker’s son was itching for a fight, he was gonna give him one. “I know her more than you think, Gale,” Peeta’s mouth suddenly morphs into an easy smile, and he uncrosses his arms, letting them swing loosely at his side. “I know more about her than you ever will.”
The waves of heat coming out of the bakery’s ovens and washing over the boys was nothing compared to the waves of rage coming off of Gale. “Oh yeah?” he sneers at Peeta “Tell me what you know.”
"I know a lot of things. I know what it’s like to hold her while she’s sleeping in my bed. I know what it’s like to hold her while she’s sleeping in her bed. I know what it’s like to kiss her, and I know what it’s like to slip a ring on her finger in front of an entire nation. I know what it’s like to see her cry about the ring I put on her, and I know what it’s like to see regret in her eyes every time she sees my face, kisses, or hugs me.”
Peeta takes a step closer to Gale, who backs up into a counter loaded down with fresh bread. “And I know what it’s like to go with her through hell and back, and yet still hear her whisper another man’s name while she’s sleeping in your arms.” Peeta let’s his gaze drops to his shoes, and abruptly moves away from Gale and to the opposite wall. “And I know what it’s like to hear that she’s going back to the hell we escaped from last year, and I know what it’s like to pledge my life towards saving hers once again.”
Gale’s grey eyes widen at Peeta, who avoids his gaze. “S-she’s going back?” He stumbles, disbelief heavy in his voice. “How?”
"There was an announcement on tv this afternoon. From the Capitol. This year is the Quarter Quell, and all of the Victors are getting reaped again." Peeta’s voice may be laced with bitterness, but the pain is palpable.
"I was in the woods…" Gale whispers, shaking his head. "I thought the announcement was just going to be her wedding dresses…" He stares at the wooden floor in shock, letting his vision go blurry. This can’t be happening…
Peeta snorts and shoves a loaf of bread in Gale’s unresponsive hands. “For your sister. I heard she’s sick again.” He makes for the door, but Gale grabs the younger boy by the arm.
"I can’t accept this," he says quietly, still partly in shock. "I’ll have to pay you, and I don’t have anything with me right now."
Peeta just sighs and shakes his head. “You want to pay me? Do me a favor. When I’m gone and Katniss is here, give her a good life. She deserves that.” He strides out the door but is back a second later, his broad jaw clenched. “She is my everything,” he whispers heatedly, grabbing Gale by the shoulders. “So don’t you ever say I don’t fucking know her.”
And with that he turns on his heel and leaves, leaving Gale alone in the bakery with a loaf of Marble bread, wondering what the hell just happened.