„Do you have Rose's teddy?“
„It's in my backpack.“
„Got it. Hey, don't worry.“
John puts a comforting hand on her shoulder for a few seconds. She's always worrying when they go on trips, always thinking they forgot something. Especially with a toddler who will cry if you've forgotten her favourite stuffed animal.
They've started taking the train to Auckland when they visit their parents. With John's fear of flying and a restless Rose to consider, it was the best option they had. It's expensive but Hero loves it. She loves sitting with her husband and her daughter in a traincar, watching the scenery rush by. Loves reading while Rose draws pictures with the crayons her godmother got her.
„We see Bee?“, Rose asks when they get on the train. Her mother's still carrying her in a baby sling, even though she's already two years old. The stroller has proven to be impractical for train journeys, so they just stopped using it altogether.
„Yes Rose, we're going to see Bea“, Hero replies with a smile.
„And Ben“, Rose states.
„And Ben too“, Hero confirms and tries taking off her backpack when they've found a free alcove seat.
„Here, let me help you.“ John takes off her backpack and stores it away in the overhead racks. Alongside his own.
„Baby in Bee's belly!“, Rose exclaims. Her parents can't help but laugh at that. John takes her out of the baby sling and sits her down in the window seat.
„Do you want Hero or me sitting next to you, Rose?“, he asks her.
„Mine.“ She lies down on the double seat, folding her hands under her cheeks as if to sleep.
„Guess I'll sit with you“, John says, looking at Hero who's already sat down in the window seat on the opposite side of the table that's in the middle of the alcove.
„I'm sure I wouldn't mind“, Hero replies with a smile and a kiss on the lips when he sits down next to her. Rose sits up across from them.
„See baby in Bee's belly?“, she asks.
„The baby's not out of Bea's belly yet“, Hero tries to explain. „But maybe it will be soon.“
They are driving home for Christmas to see their parents and siblings and cousins and their respective husbands. All Rose can talk about though is her godmother's highly-anticipated baby. It's probably because Bea and Ben visited a few months ago for her birthday and that's still recent in her mind. She's drawing pictures of Ben and Bea, Bea with a very large and circular belly. Ben looks more or less like a stick-figure, but in all honestly, he's 90% limbs anyway so it's actually quite accurate.
Hero has taken a book out of her backpack to read while John is drawing (with kind permission from his daughter) pictures of the scenery outside in crayon. They're quite beautiful, different from the pieces he shows in his gallery and sells for reasonable prices. Rose examines them critically before returning to her own drawings.
John puts the crayons he's used back into the metal box before putting his arm around Hero, pulling her against him. She smiles and rests her head on his shoulder.
„Love you“, she whispers. He presses a kiss to the crown of her head. „Love you too.“