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Vanity bits and bobs
"Have fun, love," Vanessa says, bending to press a kiss to Johnny's head as he flings his jacket off and thrusts it into her hands. "Be good and Auntie Tracy will pick you up later, okay?"
"Okay," Johnny says, already on his way into his designated room at nursery. "Bye babe!"
Vanessa frowns, unsure she's heard him correctly. She shakes her head and resolves to get a hearing test done.
She gets home from work a little later than planned, grateful for the text she received from Charity earlier telling her that she'd picked Johnny up from Tracy and had given him his dinner. At first Charity had been hesitant about spending time around Johnny. Her insecurities surrounding her skills as a mother, coupled with neither of them really being sure where the relationship was going meant that she was reluctant to get too deeply involved with him. That had all become irrelevant when Johnny decided Charity was the best thing in the whole wide world. Now the two of them are almost inseparable and it's lucky that Johnny's bedtime is well before Charity leaves to go home, on the nights that she doesn't stay over at least. Otherwise there'd be tears and tantrums.
She pushes open the door and rolls her eyes as she hears a familiar theme tune ringing out. Sure enough, Charity and Johnny are on the couch, watching Paw Patrol. Johnny seems to be explaining something to Charity in quite a bit of detail. Charity nods and makes wide eyes at him before turning to look at Vanessa, giving her a wink and holding a finger up to her lips.
"-and then Rubble saved the chicken and the pups went back home and it was all okay."
"Well, thank goodness for that, eh?"
"Uh huh. Rubble is the best."
"I like Zuma," Charity tells him.
Johnny nods his head, weighing this opinion up. "I like Zuma's car," he decides. "But Rubble is the best."
"Fair enough," Charity tells him. "Not sure I'd want a puppy to be operating heavy machinery around me, mind you. Although, Chase is definitely better at catching folk than the cops around here, that's for sure."
Vanessa laughs, alerting Johnny to her presence. He turns and beams at her. "Hiya babe!"
Charity lets out an undignified cackle, which she tries, unsuccessfully, to turn into a cough. Vanessa manages to keep a straight face as she moves around the sofa and crouches down in front of Johnny.
"Johnny-" she begins. "I'm your Mummy. You call me Mummy, yeah?"
"But-" His little brow creases in confusion. "Charity calls you babe."
Charity's eyes are now watering from trying to hold back her mirth and Vanessa glares at her. She ruffles Johnny's hair before standing up. "I-uh I'll go and put the kettle on b- Vanessa." And she slinks off to the kitchen. Vanessa sighs and turns back to Johnny.
"I know, darling," she says, with a smile. "But you don't call me Vanessa, like Auntie Tracy and Rhona do, do you?"
He giggles, as if this thought is hilarious to him. "No," he shakes his head, vehemently.
"No, because I'm your Mummy. So you call me Mummy, okay?" It suddenly hits her that there'll come a time when he won't call her mummy anymore. She'll be 'mum'. She presses that down, she'll deal with that another time.
"Okay Mummy," Johnny says with a smile.
"Good boy," she leans up and kisses his forehead before pushing to her feet and heading to the kitchen. Charity's leaning against the worktop, her hand covering her mouth.
"I thought I was going to wet myself when he came out with that," she mumbles from behind it.
Vanessa rolls her eyes. "He said it earlier today as well," she tells her. "I just wrote it off as me hearing him wrong." She advances on Charity, pinning her to the counter. "But no, it's just him copying his favourite person."
Charity's hand falls away from her face, her smile slowly fading. She looks down between them, her hands coming to rest lightly on Vanessa's hips. "Well, that's a habit we really want to get him out of before he's much older."
Vanessa tilts her head in question. "What is?"
"Copying me." Charity meets her eyes again. "The last thing you want is him turning out like me."
Vanessa sighs. She lifts a hand to Charity's face, tracing fingertips over her cheek before taking her chin between a firm thumb and forefinger. "Charity Dingle," she begins, her voice stern. "You know I hate it when you talk yourself down like that." She leans in and presses a kiss to pliant lips. "I wish you could see what he sees when he looks at you."
Charity rolls her eyes, but the edges of her mouth twitch in a smile. "And what is it you think he sees?"
Vanessa smiles. "Someone who has deep and meaningful conversations with him about Paw Patrol." That earns half a smile. "Someone who makes him laugh and reads him stories and cuddles him when he's upset. Someone who's there for him when he needs her. Someone he loves."
Charity's shaking her head as Vanessa speaks and it breaks her heart that Charity thinks so lowly of her skills in this area. "He shouldn't- that's not-"
"That's what he sees, because that's what you've shown him."
Charity's eyes flick to the couch where Johnny is happily watching the telly, her lips turning up into a smile at the sight of him. She looks back at Vanessa. "And what is it you see when you look at me?" she whispers.
Smiling, Vanessa leans closer, lowering her voice. "Pretty much the same as Johnny, to be honest." Charity's arms tighten around her back.
"Well, now you come to mention it, I had been meaning to talk to you about Paw Patrol." Vanessa laughs, pressing a kiss to Charity's cheek as she continues to speak, face completely serious. "I mean, who's paying for all these gadgets and rescue equipment for a bunch of puppies to blunder about with, instead of funding proper emergency services in Adventure Bay?
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