Gale asked to be dropped off in 12 with me, but he didn't force the issue when I refused his company. He understands I don't want anyone with me today. Not even him. Some walks you have to take alone. (1.9)
Even the greatest, best friends can't be there for you <em>all</em> the time. As close as Katniss and Gale are, he can't stand by her in this moment; she needs to do it by herself. At the same time, she distinguishes between him and the other people she's with in 13. Of all the people there she "do[esn't] want anyone," "not even" Gale. If she would want anyone by her side, though, it sounds like it would be him.
This is one of the few good things about 13. Getting Gale back. With the pressure of the Capitol's arranged marriage between Peeta and me gone, we've managed to regain our friendship. He doesn't push it any further—try to kiss me or talk about love. Either I've been too sick, or he's willing to give me space, or he knows it's just too cruel with Peeta in the hands of the Capitol. Whatever the case, I've got someone to tell my secrets to again. (2.77)
Friends or lovers? That's the question Katniss returns to again and again when thinking about both Peeta and Gale. Here, it seems like if circumstances had been different, Gale might have been the frontrunner for Katniss's heart. Yet, because of everything they've all gone through and Katniss's complicated relationship with Peeta, Gale doesn't even make a romantic move – although Katniss seems to think he'd like to.
There's no District 12 to escape from now, no Peacekeepers to trick, no hungry mouths to feed. The Capitol took away all of that, and I'm on the verge of losing Gale as well. The glue of mutual need that bonded us so tightly together for all those years is melting away. Dark patches, not light, show in the spaces between us. How can it be that today, in the face of 12's horrible demise, we are too angry to even speak to each other? (8.57)
Here, Katniss is questioning the very foundation of her friendship with Gale. Before, in hard times when they were allies, they were the best of friends. Now that their situation has totally changed, though, does that mean their friendship is changing as well? Katniss can't tell whether their friendship has the strength to make it through this latest development – or whether it even should.
Johanna grins, and I feel a slight but significant shift in our relationship. I don't know that we're actually friends, but possibly the word <em>allies</em> would be accurate. That's good. I'm going to need an ally. (17.21)
Sometimes a friend isn't as necessary as an ally, particularly in a time of war. Here, it seems like Johanna and Katniss are almost in between the two: somewhat allied, somewhat friendly. Either way, they're closer than they were before, and Katniss can finally feel less alone.
I don't know if it's the pods, or the fear, or watching Boggs die, but I feel the arena all around me. It's as if I've never left, really. Once again I'm battling not only for my own survival but for Peeta's as well. How satisfying, how entertaining it would be for Snow to have me kill him. To have Peeta's death on my conscience for whatever is left of my life. (21.14)
Throughout all the terrible things that Katniss and Peeta have endured, they've worked to protect each other. They've continually put their own lives at risk to save one another. Even now that Peeta's been hijacked it's no different. They've got too great a history together and been through too much together to desert each other now.
Why can't I just let him go? Slip him a pill, pull the trigger? Is it because I care too much about Peeta or too much about letting Snow win? Have I turned him into a piece in my private Games? (21.51)
Katniss can't define her feelings for Peeta, or rationally explain why she cannot "let him go." She just knows she can't. But the reasoning for why she can't is escaping her. We'd like to think it's because of her love for and long-standing friendship with Peeta, but here it also sounds it may be because he contributes to her plan for revenge.
They both laugh. It's so strange to hear them talking like this. Almost like friends. Which they're not. Never have been. Although they're not exactly enemies. (23.82)
Funny enough, the one thing that brings Peeta and Gale closer together is also what will always keep them apart: their shared love for Katniss. They both love her and don't know if she loves them back, or at least whom she loves the most. She's the one who holds the power – she's the center of their love triangle.
Heart pounding, adrenaline burning through me, everyone is my enemy. Except Gale. My hunting partner, the one person who has my back. There's nothing to do but move forward, killing whoever comes into our path. (24.60)
In the Games, Katniss didn't have Gale at her "back" – she didn't have him to rely on, to be a team with. Instead, she had Peeta, whose skills complemented hers, but who – let's face it – was never a fighter. Gale can protect her and work with her in ways that Peeta just can't.
I wrap my arms around his neck, feel his arms hesitate before they embrace me. Not as steady as they once were, but still warm and strong. A thousand moments surge through me. All the times these arms were my only refuge from the world. Perhaps not fully appreciated then, but so sweet in my memory and now gone forever. (24.42)
Katniss turns to Peeta for comfort one last time, just as she turned to him for comfort so many times – "a thousand" – during the Games and the victory tour. Has anything of their friendship remained? Will she ever see him again? This might be the last time they'll ever embrace – the last time she will ever see or get to hold on to her friend.
I badly need help working this out, only everyone I trust is dead. Cinna. Boggs. Finnick. Prim. There's Peeta, but he couldn't do more than speculate, and who knows what state his mind's in, anyway. And that leaves only Gale. He's far away, but even if he were beside me, could I confide in him? (26.9)
Katniss has lost almost every friend she's had through this war – mostly to death. But some, like Peeta and Gale, seem to be taken from her by the combat itself. The war has stripped Katniss of her friends, allies, and confidantes. The people who've made it through now seem almost alien to her. In a moment when she needs an friendly ear more than ever, it's nowhere to be found.