"She loves you, you know," says Peeta. "She as good as told me after they whipped you."
"Don’t believe it," Gale answers. "The way she kissed you in the Quarter Quell…well, she never kissed me like that."
"It was just part of the show," Peeta tells him, although there’s an edge of doubt in his voice.
"No, you won her over. Gave up everything for her. Maybe that’s the only way to convince her you love her." There’s a long pause. "I should have volunteered to take your place in the first Games. Protected her then."
"You couldn’t," says Peeta. "She’d never have forgiven you. You had to take care of her family. They matter more to her than her life."
"Well, it won’t be an issue much longer. I think it’s unlikely all three of us will be alive at the end of the war. And if we are, I guess it’s Katniss’s problem. Who to choose." Gale yawns. "We should get some sleep."
“Yeah.” I hear Peeta’s handcuffs slide down the support as he settles in. "I wonder how she’ll make up her mind."
"Oh, that I do know." I can just catch Gale’s last words through the layer of fur. "Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can’t survive without."
A chill runs through me. Am I really that cold and calculating? Gale didn’t say, “Katniss will pick whoever it will break her heart to give up,” or even “whoever she can’t live without.” Those would have implied I was motivated by a kind of passion. But my best friend predicts I will choose the person who I think I “can’t survive without.” There’s not the least indication that love, or desire, or even compatibility will sway me. I’ll just conduct an unfeeling assessment of what my potential mates can offer me. As if in the end, it will be the question of whether a baker or a hunter will extend my longevity the most. It’s a horrible thing for Gale to say, for Peeta not to refute. Especially when every emotion I have has been taken and exploited by the Capitol or the rebels.
At the moment, the choice would be simple. I can survive just fine without either of them.