They slid inside Burlington more than stepping inside, skidding through the security plinths. Abseil stumbled and fell into a pile of coats. Laughing, laughing, even though there were people with guns somewhere behind them, Abseil managed to right herself. She gathered up a LIv’s hand and looked at her face – Olly. She looked around — she didn’t remember there being that many people with them, but there were suddenly a lot more people here than she’d thought she had.
“Shop.” She gestured around. “I’ll cover it, just go look for a shirt or pants or anything you want.” She looked again. “Did we get a Kevin somehow? Hi, Kevin.”
“Hi.” He ducked his head. “She’s not all that good at – you’re not all that good at – anyway, I picked the locks.”
Something about that made Abseil blush and look away. This was not – that was not how her crush on him – well on someone like him- had gone. Well, before.
When she glanced back at him, he was blushing too. She cleared her throat. “Okay, yeah. Go on, shop. Even you. Everyone, do some shopping. I’m… I’m going to look for…” She thought about it. She’d been doing a lot of shopping lately, hanging out in this mall. “Oh! Shoes. I need some more new shoes.”
“Good running shoes?” Kevin joked.
“…Good idea. I wonder if they sell Kevlar here.” She looked out the entrance. There was nobody there.
There was nobody there, and the fountain was turning clockwise. Abseil held her breath.
“Please enjoy the comfort of the Burlington Coat Factory while we engage in a little renovation. Please excuse our dust,” the intercom voice told them in a cheerful sing-song. “There may be a little unfortunate noise. Please enjoy the shopping, and soon a RelaxationCenter and a food center will be right near to the Burlington Factory for your enjoyment. Thank you!”
Abseil thought about Kevin’s comment and headed for the shoe department. “Liv? Olly, ‘Via?”
“We’ve been shopping so much,” ‘Via muttered quietly. “I’m down to almost wanting to buy that pink kitten backpack, because it’s been staring me in the face for so long.”
“I know,” Liv whispered. “I’m not sure I can—”
Somewhere outside the store, a quick scream was followed by a short staccato of gunfire. Abseil grabbed the nearest hand — when had she dropped their hands? When had it stopped being habit to have the three of them always in touching distance? — reached for another hand, caught two at once, and then checked to be sure they were the right hands.
Liv, ‘Via — Kevin. “Olly!”
A hand slid in her back pocket. “Here.” That was Olly’s voice — but she checked anyway. Olly’s face, the outfit Olly was wearing when they’d started today, but— Abseil frowned.
“Satyr,” Olly murmured very quietly. “The fountain there.”
Abseil relaxed. “Let’s, ah, shop for something, say, back in the baby section? I think Winny is due any day now?”
“Wow, Winny.” ‘Via squeezed Abseil’s hand and shifted so she was holding Kevin’s hand with her free one, leaving Abby only holding on to her Livs. She didn’t know why Kevin was tagging along, but if he wanted to, she wasn’t going to stop him. “I haven’t thought about her in — forever.”
“I try not to,” Kevin admitted. “I mean—”
Another scream cut off whatever he might have meant. They seemed to be getting closer, somehow.Want more?