Written to lilfluff‘s prompt: “Kids at the mall stumble on the secret wing with the stores not listed on the mall’s map.”
“And then Kevin said – what?” Abigail stopped mid-story to frown at Liv, who had gone silent and tense in the middle of Rue 21. “…oh. Come on, this way.” She took Liv’s hand and pulled her past the menswear. “Vic Carter, I swear,” she muttered as she pulled. “Bullies should not be allowed in the places normal people go.”
Liv had no problem being pulled – she never did – and kept her head down and her voice low. It wasn’t like they hadn’t done this before. “We’re normal now?” she muttered.
“Well, compared to that pile of unkind sentiment and bile?” Abigal got them out of Rue 21 and looked both ways. It was clear towards Hot Topic…
“You’ve been reading Austen again or something, haven’t you? – shit.”
“Oh, look who they let out of their cages!” Vic Carter’s snotty voice came at them like a weapon. “Didn’t I tell you two worms to stay away from me?”
“This way.” Abigail tugged Liv around the corner and behind a stack of potted plants. There was a door there; she grabbed the handle and pushed it open. It said Staff Access Only. Abigail didn’t care. “Hurry!” The way the potted plants were set up, if they were lucky, Vic hadn’t seen where they were going, and if they weren’t lucky, they could run.
They did, too, jogging down the bare concrete floor. Left, left got them towards Hot Topic.
The door at the far end creaked open. “You idiots in here?”
The hallway was way too open. They were gonna get caught, and there was nobody down here to see if Vic beat them into a pulp. Abigail turned in a circle. There! She’d missed it before but there was a narrow door just beyond the pipes.
She pulled it open and shoved Liv through, following as fast as she could after her friend.
She almost ran into the back of Liv, and when she managed to move the taller girl aside, she could see why. Everything was bright and colorful back here, the shop fronts having little awnings like a street front, the floor made of swirling mosaics, even the glass ceiling seeming to reflect all the light in rainbows.
“I’ve-” Live cleared her throat. “I’ve-”
“We’ve never seen this part of the mall,” Abigail finished. “Or, wow, any of these stores. Come on. I want to check out the Tome Home.” And besides, even if Vic Carter managed to figure out where they’d gone, she was unlikely to find them in a book store. Abigail wasn’t certain she could read.
“Wait. Young misses.” An old, short woman reached out to them from under a rainbow-colored awning, the store name in no script Abigail recognized. “You’re going to need this. Free of charge, for this first trip.”
Part II: https://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1325082.html
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