"Can I keep the light on tonight?" Nickel asked his father as he pulled the blanket up to his chin.
Peeta, who had been about to flick the light switch off, stopped and turned toward his son. "Why?"
Peeta walked over to sit beside Nickel as the boy sat up in bed to share his fears with his father. "I think there's a monster under my bed," the seven-year-old whispered in his father's ear. "He makes noises when it's dark, but I think he's scared of the light. If I keep it on, he won't hurt me."
"Really?" Peeta was almost amused. He could somewhat relate to his son's fears. After all, he and Katniss had been trying to get away from their own nightmares for over twenty-five years. Luckily, Nickel's nightmares seemed a lot easier to vanguish, and Peeta hoped they would always stay that way. "Are you sure the monster's really there? Have you gotten a good look at him?"
Nickel shook his head back and forth quickly. "No! If I look at him he could jump out and get me!"
Peeta pretended to think for a minute. "I've got an idea. How about I look for him under the bed, and if he tries to get me, you can save me. Okay?"
"Okay!" Nickel agreed somewhat hesitantly. He clambered to the edge of the bed, ready to pull his father from the monster's grasp if needed. Peeta made a show of getting down on the ground and hesitating before lifting the bed skirt in one quick flash.
Peeta's eyes swept across the space underneath Nickel's bed before he looked up and announced, "Nothing there."
Peeta got up and sat down on the bed again, facing Nickel. "Still think there's a monster?"
Nickel thought about it for a moment before replying, "Maybe not?"
"I don't think there is," Peeta assured his son. "I bet you just heard something else and thought it was a monster."
"Maybe," Nickel agreed.
Peeta stood up and made his way to the door. Stopping next to the light switch he asked, "Still want the light on?"
It took Nickel a few moments of consideration. "Yes, please. Just in case. There's probably not a monster, but I want to be prepared."
Peeta smiled warmly at his son. "Of course. If a monster does show himself, just yell for me and Mommy, okay? We'll come get him."
"I know," Nickel replied as he laid down and tucked the blanket up to his chin again. "Good night, Daddy."
"Good night, son."