A/N: It's been about a week, but here's the next chapter finally! It's finals week, and I go home on Thursday, so I'm going to say the next one will be up sometime next week. I'm definitely not putting another one up during finals.
Just so everyone knows before reading, Gale and Johanna are married in this story, and you meet their oldest child in this one. The rest of the family will make appearances later.
Dani stopped abruptly after spotting someone familiar in the distance. "Dad," she called. Her father stopped and put a hand on her brother's shoulder to stop him as well. Peeta turned to Dani with a questioning look. "Is that Alder Hawthorne?" She pointed to the tall, dark young man who seemed to have just left the market.
"I think it is." Peeta seemed just as curious at the boy's presence as his daughter. He began leading the way towards the nineteen-year-old. "Alder," he called to get the young adult's attention.
The young man spun around. "Mr. Mellark," he remarked. Alder seemed slightly surprised to find the three of them there, but he smiled slightly at the look of surprise on all of their faces. "It's nice to see you guys. I was going to come and visit soon."
"If you don't mind my asking," Peeta began slowly. "Just what are you doing here in District 12? Gale and Johanna haven't said anything about visiting recently."
"Oh, Mom and Dad aren't here." Alder began walking again and motioned for them to follow him. "I'm living in District 12 now. Just arrived yesterday. Grandma found me a place before I even got here and had it waiting for me."
Nickel was hanging on Alder's every word, having long immulated him. "Why would you want to move to District 12?" Nickel asked. "It's so far away from your family."
Alder smiled down at the young boy and ruffled his hair. "I got a job here," Alder explained. "I've loved District 12 ever since I was little. It's always been more appealing to me than District 2. Mom and Dad didn't seem to mind my moving. I think Mom's a bit disappointed I chose Twelve instead of Seven though. She'd love an excuse to move back there, but I'd much rather be here. We only visited Seven once, and I wasn't a fan of the weather. Too much rain up there. Twelve's nicer when it comes to climate, and I have plenty of family around if I ever get lonely."
"I can't imagine," Dani breathed as she looked at Alder in awe.
"You two are young," said Alder. "Of course being away from you parents, let alone your home district would sound scary. Wait until you're older. You'll be dying to get away." His chuckling ended as he stopped outside of a small house just on the outskirts of town. "This is it," he brandished his hand in front of the house.
"You'll be living right down the street from Posey then," observed Peeta.
Dani noticed Alder roll his eyes slightly. "Yeah, I think Mom and Dad have ordered her to keep tabs on me actually. She keeps popping up at odd times with different excuses. It's driving me mad. No matter how many times I tell her I can take care of myself, she always comes back."
"She'll calm down soon," Peeta assured him. "Especially if the famous Mason hostility shows itself."
Alder's face contorted, no doubt thinking of how scary his mother could be when provoked.
Peeta clapped a hand on Alder's shoulder. "We'd best be going. I told Katniss we wouldn't be long, and we still need to get a few things. I'm sure she'll be thrilled to learn that you're here. Why don't you come by for dinner tomorrow. You remember where the house is right?"
"Of course," Alder smiled. "I'll be there."
Alder waved farewell as Peeta guided his children back towards the town. Dani and Nickel were still in awe of Alder's significant move. "Can you imagine leaving home forever?" Dani asked her little brother, who vehemently shook his head no.
"Someday you will though." Dani thought she detected sadness in her father's voice. He looked down at them softly. "When you're older you'll leave home too. I hope you stay in District 12, but you'll still be away from your mother and me."
Dani had never really thought about it before, and neither, it seemed, had Nickel. Neither of them said anything as they continued to walk side-by-side with their father. Dani could only hope that the day she left home would be a long, long time from now. She couldn't bear the thought of leaving her parents, especially if it caused her father any pain.