Prompt #4

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               Prompt: Griffin and Hal hanging out when they were younger pls

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               "Where are you going?" Nick Waymire asked.

               "On an adventure," Hal said, pulling his shoes on. "Right, Griffin?"

               "Uh-huh," Griffin said.

               "It's raining out," Nick pointed out.

               "So?" Hal said.

               "Alright, but when you're coughing your fuckin' lungs out because you got sick, don't go blaming me," Nick said.

               "NICHOLAS WAYMIRE STOP SWEARING IN FRONT OF THE BOYS."

               Nick winced and lowered his voice. "And when your mom rips my fuckin' lungs out for swearing front of you again, that'll be my own fault."

               Hal snickered and held a hand out to help Griffin up off the floor. "We're just going to play on the playground."

               "Alright, but here," Nick said, digging around and finding rain jackets for the boys. "Wear these. And if you're not back in an hour, I'm coming to get you. Don't go anywhere besides the playground."

               They pulled on the rain jackets and left the house. Hal led the way to the nearby playground, through a narrow path between the fenced in backyards and the line of trees bordering the playground.

               It was abandoned, of course. The rain was starting to come down harder, but the two young boys jogged to the playset.

               "Bet you can't do the monkey bars," Hal taunted.

               "I can do them!" Griffin said. He climbed the little ladder to them and gripped the slick bars. He swing his body off and made it only two bars before his wet hands lost their grip and he fell to the ground with a surprised yelp.

               Hal barked a laugh but came over to help him up. "Now you're all muddy. Mom's gonna kick your ass if you get mud on the floor."

               "It's your fault!" Griffin said. "You try. And if you fall, I'm going to laugh at you."

               "Nah, I won't fall," Hal said, climbing up and grabbing the monkey bars. He frowned at how slippery they were. "Shit. Maybe I will fall."

               "Not as easy as it looks," Griffin said.

               "It's just an added challenge," Hal said, swinging himself across.

               He made it five bars before falling. He looked at the mud on himself as Griffin helped him up.

               "Still made it farther than you," Hal said, sticking his tongue out.

               Griffin pushed him with a muddy hand. "Shut up."

               Hal slung an arm around Griffin's shoulder. "Let's try running up the slide! Whoever makes it to the top first wins. We can take turns. Me first."

               "It's wet. We won't be able to climb it," Griffin said with a frown as they approached the slide.

               "Don't be a quitter," Hal said, taking a step back before dashing at the slide. His sneakers slipped as he made his way up, gripping desperately at the sides. He tumbled back down, splashing in the mud with a laugh. "Shit. Your turn!"

               They took turns dashing up the slide and falling back down it. Neither reached the top, but both were covered in mud and shaking with laughter within ten minutes.

               "I quit," Griffin said, flopping in the mud.

               He jumped in terror as a sudden boom erupted across the sky, a flash of lightning chasing the sound. Griffin clapped his hands over his ears.

               Hal tugged his hands away. "Hey, come on, it's just thunder. It's okay."

               "I want to go back inside. I don't like storms," Griffin said, trembling.

               "Yea, okay, let's go," Hal said, standing up. He took Griffin's hand in his and led him along. "It'll be fine! You don't have to be scared."

               The wind picked up, whipping the cold rain against them. Griffin huddled closer to Hal, whimpering as another crash of thunder and lightning struck. Hal tightened his grip on Griffin's hand.

               "We're going home," he said. "And when we get home, I bet mom will put our favorite blanket in the drier while we change so it's nice and warm when we get under it. And we can have hot chocolate and watch a movie with popcorn with extra butter! We can even pull the curtains shut so you can't see the lightning."

               "Can we build a blanket fort?" Griffin asked, wanting something to hide under.

               "Duh," Hal said. "The best damn blanket fort. It'll keep all the storms out."

               He guided Griffin back down the path to his house. Griffin stopped to tremble in fear with every new wave of thunder and lightning, and Hal would stand and patiently coax him along again.

               When they reached the yard, Nick was already outside heading their way. "I was just coming to get you guys. Oh, Christ, you're muddy. Alright, well, can't be helped. Let's get you inside, get our asses kicked for the mess, and get you two warm."

               He put a hand on both their shoulders and guided them into the house. He left them waiting in the hallway while he fetched a towel.

               Hal leaned closer to Griffin, and Griffin took comfort in his presence, their hands still clasped. When Nick returned, Hal looked up at him.

               "Dad, call Griffin's grandpa and tell him that Griffin is sleeping over," Hal said.

               "Sure," Nick said, cleaning the boys off as best he could.

               "Thanks, Hal," Griffin mumbled.

               Hal squeezed his hand. "I get to shower first. You can wait your turn."

               Griffin pouted. "It was your ideas that got us all muddy."

               "I'm still showering first," Hal said smugly.

               "Fine, but I get the last grape soda!" Griffin said.

               "What? No way!" Hal said.

               Griffin laughed at his expression. "Fine, we can share it."

               "We better share it, you selfish bastard," Hal said, bumping Griffin with his shoulder. "Let's go get clean so we can watch a movie already."

               So they cleaned up, and Hal's mom got a blanket nice and warm in the dryer for them to curl up under. They had popcorn and shared the last grape soda, curled up together with the blind closed to hide the storm.

               And Griffin felt safe and warm with Hal beside him. Hal smiled at him and pulled the blanket tighter around the two of them as they settled in for the night together.

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