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just us kids letting go

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"Are these things even legal?"

"…ball pits in the mall?"

Grant nodded, “They can’t be sanitary,” he frowned, crossing his arms at the sight in front of him.

Struggling to sit up straighter in the food court style chair- having a basketball for a stomach didn’t make that maneuver easy- Skye gave her husband a long stare, as if to determine whether or not he was joking.

Oh god, he was serious.

Quickly she tried to think of something to quell his fears, but all that came to mind was that time she dove to the bottom of one of those pits- and yes, there is a bottom- and found a dirty diaper. She definitely was not telling him that.

"And what if a kid got lost down there?" Grant continued, "How long do you think the oxygen at the bottom of that pit would last-"

"Woah, woah, hold up," Skye made a time-out gesture, "Let’s not hop on that train of thought."

Well, trains certainly weren’t any better when it came to painful memories, but the expression came out before Skye could censor it. Quickly she tried to change the subject.

"Grant, he’ll be fine. Seriously. No reason to worry."

Ward simply frowned harder, and visually scanned the indoor playground for any sign of the couple’s four year old son, who had been running around yelling his head off with several other children just moments earlier, but who had since disappeared somewhere in the foam and net maze. Skye let him brood for a few more seconds as she scrolled through something on her phone before asking-

"Come on; don’t you remember how fun these things were? Didn’t you ever make up adventures with the other kids, like, commandeering a pirate ship or- or going to the moon or something?"

"…No."

There was no emotion in Ward’s voice, no anger or sadness or resentment, but those two letters spoke volumes, and Skye was again reminded that no matter how crappy her childhood had been, at least she had had one.

They went silent for a minute or so, until Ward gave a half chuckle/half sigh of relief and muttered, “There he is.”

Skye strained to see into the pit without getting out of her seat, and managed to catch a glimpse of floppy black hair and a Darth Vader hoodie- a present from Aunt Bobbi, of course. The small child was currently in the middle of the ball pit, trying to swim his way towards the edge. She could tell that he was getting aggravated by the way that he smacked the multicolored balls away from him as he struggled to move. She bit her lip and sat up straighter.

"Why don’t you go help him?" She phrased the words as a suggestion, but her tone was that of a command. Grant shook his head.

“He’ll get out on his own,” he reassured her, more relaxed now that he at least had a visual on his son, and called out, “Isn’t that right, kiddo?”

The aforementioned kiddo let out a small cry of frustration.

"Grant. Go get him."

Ward turned to look at his wife, a hint of a smile on his face, which quickly dissipated when he saw that she was serious. He opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, and then turned and walked to the edge of the pit. He glanced self consciously around him, noting that the area around the ball pit had cleared out in the last few minutes, although there were still several mothers sitting nearby who had raised their eyebrows at him. He stared down into the kaleidoscope of plastic for a few seconds, and then looked back at Skye.

"W- What so do I just slide in or jump in or…?"

Skye simply stared at him.

Closing his eyes, Grant muttered something under his breath before taking his first plunge into kid wonderland.

end.