Katniss sets out to find Peeta, reasoning that she would hate any tribute from her district who didn't try to find his or her partner. She decides, too, that she needs to maintain the facade of "star-crossed lovers" to keep the audience rooting for them. It has worked for them so far, she thinks, so it's important to keep the audience invested in their survival. She takes stock of the other remaining tributes, recognizing Thresh, Cato, and the girl from District 2 as her biggest threats, particularly Cato and the girl from District 2 since they also benefit from the two-tribute survival rule. She decides that Foxface won't come after her, but will, instead, hope that someone else kills Katniss while she hides.
Katniss heads toward the stream to find Peeta and discovers a boulder streaked with blood. She calls his name, but only a mockingjay answers. Katniss begins to move on, and then she hears Peeta's voice. It's coming from right underneath her and she can't see him. Then, he opens his eyes. He has camouflaged himself in mud, leaves, and vines.
He jokes with her, whispering that it's okay to kiss him since they're madly in love, but once Katniss begins to clean him in the stream, she can see how weak he is. She treats his burns and stings, but then doesn't know what to do about the gash in his left leg. It's to the bone, filled with pus, and smells of decay. Peeta burns with fever, too, and Katniss knows she doesn't have the tools to treat him. Her mother and Prim are much better suited to this.
She helps Peeta to a cave where they'll hide until he gets stronger. Peeta thanks Katniss for finding him and she says that he would have done the same. He talks about what Katniss should do if he doesn't make it back. She's worried that he might die, and to keep him from speaking of such things, she kisses him. It's her first kiss. She steps outside and a gift falls from the sky, a pot of broth. She understands the message Haymitch is sending her: kisses and romance will earn them gifts. Back inside, she kisses Peeta again and he smiles at her. She can't help but think how good he is at this fake love stuff.
Katniss' discovery of Peeta is both uplifting and daunting. She's glad to see that he has survived, but also knows that in order to save him, she's going to need stronger medicines. It's also comforting for her to have a hunting partner, but, at the moment, Peeta is more of a liability than a partner. Should they be attacked by another tribute, Katniss would not only have to defend herself, but she'd also have to protect Peeta.
The mockingjay appears again in this chapter, and, just as it serves as a warning call for the hovercraft, it also alerts Katniss to Peeta's presence. When she calls his name, it answers in song, just before Peeta calls out for her. Again, the mockingjay serves as one of Katniss' accomplices.
Katniss tells herself that the only reason she's searching for Peeta is because it's the right thing for a tribute to do for her fellow district member under these circumstances. She also states that she's going because their survival depends upon them maintaining this false romance. Katniss is hiding behind such reasoning, though it's plain to the reader that she has true feelings for Peeta. For instance, she's uncomfortable thinking about Peeta naked, hinting that she does see him as something than more than just a body, that there are romantic feelings there for him that make her uncomfortable in such a situation. She also finds herself suddenly overcome with fear that he might die, and this is the emotion that prompts her to kiss him.
Katniss continues to pretend that their love is an act, commenting on how good Peeta is at playing lover boy, when, in fact, it's very probable that Peeta isn't pretending at all. Katniss chooses not to recognize this, and she also chooses not to recognize the affection she has toward him. Instead, she amounts any exchange of romance between them to Hunger Games strategy and nothing more.