Only one figure stays huddled against the wall. “Peeta,” I say. There’s no response. Has he blacked out? I crouch in front of him, pulling his cuffed hands from his face. “Peeta?” His eyes are like black pools, the pupils dilated so that the blue irises have all but vanished. The muscles in his wrists are hard as metal.
“Leave me,” he whispers. “I can’t hang on.”
“Yes. You can!” I tell him.
Peeta shakes his head. “I’m losing it. I’ll go mad. Like them.”
Like the mutts. Like a rabid beast bent on ripping my throat out. And here, finally here in this place, in these circumstances, I will really have to kill him. And Snow will win. Hot, bitter hatred courses through me. Snow has won too much already today.
It’s a long shot, it’s suicide maybe, but I do the only thing I can think of. I lean in and kiss Peeta full on the mouth. His whole body starts shuddering, but I keep my lips pressed to his until I have to come up for air. My hands slide up his wrists to clasp his. “Don’t let him take you from me.”
Peeta’s panting hard as he fights the nightmares raging in his head. “No. I don’t want to…”
I clench his hands to the point of pain. “Stay with me.”
His pupils contract to pinpoints, dilate again rapidly, and then return to something resembling normality. “Always,” he murmurs.