Snake rolled the stroller up the side walk. The twins were nestled in the back of the double stroller and Mason was firmly strapped in the front. Cassie was there with them holding on to his arm as he approached the building in Sioux Falls. He had the kids for the day and decided the Journey Museum might be a place to try. They had to have kids stuff there and he wanted to go back. The last time he'd seen it was when he was Cassie's age.
Once inside he was glad to see that most of the exhibits still had the same touchable artifacts and all the activities. He rolled the stroller up to the main desk and smiled.
"One adult, one child, three under two." Snake was rather cheerful today and the woman behind the counter gave him an odd look when he declared the children. She focused for a long moment on the patch. Her eyes roved over the black leather trench coat, pants and the dark shirt before glancing farther down at the children. Cassie slipped between her father and the stroller while they waited.
"You have to check the stroller."
Snake took his ticket stubs after handing over cash. His eye was firmly on the three in the stroller. He hadn't planned on this but he could make it work. The woman was pointing over to a desk around the side. Sighing he dutifully pushed the stroller over to the side. Rummaging in his very masculine diaper bag he pulled out the sling, wrapped it and knelt down again. The woman behind this counter was staring like he'd kidnapped the children. Snake just rolled his eye.
Next he pulled the baby pack on and buckled it. "Cassie, sweetie, will you get Mason for me?"
She happily went and came back struggling a little with the heavy toddler. "Put him up in the pack."
Snake sat Indian style on the floor so Cassie could help him. Both of the women were staring now. The one out front was out for behind the counter to look. Ignoring them Snake buckled Mason in then positioned both twins in the sling. The diaper bag over his shoulder and Cassie's hand in his he pushed the stroller to the window.
"Got to check my stroller."
The woman just stared. Mason was leaning in balancing his bottle on the side of Plissken's head. Snake didn't even notice and cleared his throat. The woman sprang into motion and presented him with a red ticket. The other end wrapped on the handle of the stroller that she took into a side room. Snake wasn't sure he was happy with the staff. Not that he was often happy with many people.
Snake smiled and glanced down at Cassie when they got to the map. "Where should we go first?"
She milled it over while Snake committed the map to memory.
"Here" She pointed to the botanical gardens.
Plissken smiled. "Can we stop here first?" Snake pointed out the geology and fossil hall. With a nod they were on their way.
Snake wanted to see the whole museum but this wing was a start and on the way to the gardens. Cassie was interested in everything. Snake read signs with her and they talked as much as she wanted about the exhibits. Mason had passed out on his back and the twins were quiet so it was more or less the two of them. At the end there was a place where kids could dig for bones.
As soon as Cassie got excited Snake shrugged and sat to pull off his boots. The sand pit was filled with bones, gems and other things for the children to find. Shoes off Snake waited with Cassie to be let in. Another woman showed up with a little girl, younger than Cassie. Snake was in the sand, pulled along by his daughter who handed him a shovel. Snake laughed and helped her dig up a bone she'd seen in the sand.
The woman joined them at the other end of the pit. For the first time since he arrived someone looked at him like he wasn't a freak or a criminal. It was a nice feeling.
"It looks like you have you hands full."
Snake chuckled as he sat back letting Cassie rummage through the sand and pile the things up in his lap. "I manage."
"I can see that." She smiled and sat back with him on the bench. "She's adorable."
"So is yours." Snake nodded over at the dark haired girl trying to pull up a leg bone from the sand.
They sat for a long time watching the girls before the woman beside him broke the silence. "You wife's a lucky woman. I don't know many men who would take on these four."
Plissken was feeding Steven when he looked up and grinned. "My wife always says I'm just another kid causing trouble in the house."
She laughed and shook her head. "I can see it."
"She your only?" Snake asked just keeping up the friendly conversation.
"For now. She'll have a sibling in a few months."
Snake glanced down where her hand was on her stomach. There was barely a bump but enough to make him smile. "We were thinking of a few more."
"Four is more than I could handle."
"I have five." Snake patted Mason's hand where he was slumped on Snake's shoulder. "This one is my grandson."
The woman looked surprised. "You don't look that old."
"Thanks for the compliment." By this time Cassie was coming over and ready to leave. "Looks like I'm back on the road."
"Seems that way." She smiled at Cassie who shied away a little.
"You too." Snake got out and sat to put on his shoes.
"She's pretty." Cassie commented innocently.
Snake wasn't sure how to handle the question. "Yeah but not as pretty as your mothers."
Plissken was up and waiting for Cassie when she slid off the bench. It was a little bit of a walk to the Botanical Gardens that were part of the museum. Cassie was getting tired. Before they made it through the prairie exhibit she wanted carried. Snake obliged working her in on his hip on Mia's side. There was room since she was smaller. He walked through the rainforest but by the time they reached the cacti Cassie stopped responding. She was asleep.
Snake turned and left the gardens. He took his time walking through the Native American and Sioux displays carrying all four along the way. It was a workout that made him laugh when he thought about all the military backpacking training. They always said that all the skills would apply some way to life. This was the last place we would have imagined.
Even Plissken started getting tired. The women back at the counter stared the whole time he went to retrieve the stroller from the little window in the back. If he wasn't so tired he would have told them off. Snake maneuvered out to the Humvee and strapped the four into their seats. Mia with a bottle and Cassie was squirming.
"What is it sweetie?" Snake was looking in the rearview mirror as he strapped on his seatbelt.
"I liked the museum." She yawned and he could tell she was about to go back to sleep.
"I'm glad. We'll have to go to more of them together." Snake grinned and started the drive home. He was barely out of the lot before they were all back asleep. IT would be a quiet drive home today.