Peeta always enjoyed the days he picked up is children from school. The walk home was always pleasant, and the kids usually seemed extra cheery right after school. Never before had Peeta arrived at the school to find one of his children sitting in front of the building with tears running down his face.
Peeta was crouching down in front of his son before he even realized the other boy's presence. Colby, Nickel's best friend, was watching Nickel with a worried look on his own face.
"What happened?" Peeta directed the question at both boys.
When Colby realized that Nickel had no intention of answering, he spoke up. "Some boys were bothering him. They said stuff about you and Mrs. Mellark being famous and how Nickel could never live up to you guys. They said he was a loser."
Peeta gritted his teeth and reminded himself that going after these boys wouldn't solve anything. His son was more important right now. "Nickel, none of that is true." Peeta didn't really expect those words to have much of an effect, but there wasn't much else to say.
"I know that," Nickel quietly remarked. "But it still felt bad."
Peeta sighed, "The hurt will go away as long as you remember it's not true." He glanced around the schoolyard. "Where's your sister?"
"She went after the boys when I told her what happened."
Peeta knew that couldn't be good. "Stay here for a minute," he told Nickel. "I'll go find her."
It didn't take long for Peeta to find Dani standing in front of three very terrified young boys who quickly scurried away when Peeta distracted Dani. Instead of scolding her as Dani was obviously expecting, Peeta just led her back over to her brother before they headed home.