The next day, Mallory arrived at the hospital at 7:30 sharp. During the night, she rattled her brain with the best possible way to find information on Peter and Steg in order for them to get here. She decided that the only solution was to pretend to be a nurse and catch up with someone in the hospital and casually through around questions.

Since Mallory had been in The Kingdom everyday for the past 3 weeks, she knew where the orderlies and nurses hid everything. After checking in with Jackie, who still had made not one iota of progress, Mallory made her way down the hall to the maintenance closet. Once in there she found herself surrounded by mops, brooms, tissues, surgical supplies wrapped in plastic blue paper, and what she had been looking for, scrubs. She changed into a blue pair and swung her hair over her shoulders where her name tag should have been.

She entered the cafeteria, hoping to catch the night shift eating a late dinner and the day shift eating breakfast. There were a few doctors, but most looked like they'd been here long enough to know who belonged here and who didn't. Just when she thought that she was out of luck, she spotted one of the nurses that regularly checked Jackie : Carrie von Trier.

Mallory quickly but discreetly made her way over to the empty table.

"Hi." Mallory said, flashing her brightest smile.
"Hello." Carrie returned the smile.
"I, uh. I'm new here." Mallory lied.
"Are you an intern?"
"Mmyeah."
"Oh, I didn't know we–. " Carrie began and shook her head, "welcome to Kingdom Hospital."
"I'm M-Melinda, but I go by Lindy." Mallory said quickly.
"It's nice to meet you."
"So, this is the infamous Kingdom Hospital."
"That it is."
"Y-you know, I've been hearing a lot of ... odd things about the hospital ever since I was admitted."
"Admitted?"
"I mean, you know, since I started working here." Mallory hesitated.
"Yeah, we're pretty well known."
"I'll bet. Ever since that artist, Peter Rickman-"
"Oh yeah, he was the most . . . . . amazing patient ever admitted."
"His status really boosted the reputation, huh?"
"No. Well, I guess that helped and all, but it was that he came here totally incoherent and left not even three months later, he walked out with his wife."
"Wow. I never heard about that." It took all of Mallory's brain power to listen to the story of Peter Rickman's miraculous recovery for the umpteenth time.
"Yeah, he said he'd come back and visit us but he hasn't yet."
"Maybe he will someday." Mallory said, the wheels in her brain turning.
"I hope so."
'One down, one to go.' Mallory thought."Have there ever been any famous doctors here?"
"What do you mean?"
"Like, anyone who was well known and well respected?"
"Not really."
"Oh," Mallory said, then after a minute of 'thinking' added, "what about that guy ... what was his name? ... Dr. ... Stegmen? I've heard a lot of people talking about him."
"What for? He was only the lousiest doctor that ever walked the face of the earth."
"You mean he didn't do anything good at all?"
"Psh, no. He had it in his mind that Dr. Hook and pretty much everyone in this hospital was against him and wanted him out. I know Hook wasn't a fan of him but, Hook's too sweet to hate anyone." Carrie said, blushing.

That was all the information that Mallory needed. She quickly excused herself and returned the blue scrubs to their closest. After slipping into Jackie's room once again, she dialed Peter Rickman's phone number. By the fifth rang, she was ready to give up when a woman, who sounded out of breath, answered the phone.

"Hello?"
"Hello. This is Melinda Carter from Kingdom Hospital calling for Peter Rickman. Is he available?"
"Sure hold on." the woman said, with a distinct mutter of 'that goddamned hospital wants you again, Peter.'
"Hello?"
"Mr. Rickman, hi. My name is Melinda Carter. I'm calling on behalf of Kingdom Hospital. I was hoping I could talk to you abou-"
"Look, I've already done all the publicity I can. I held the art show you wanted, I spoke for Dr. Hook and Draper about the New England Journal Article, what more do you want?"
"Oh no. It's nothing like that. We were hoping that you could stop by and talk to the children here. Tell them about your story and give them something to ... believe in, for lack of better word."
"Oh ... well, I suppose there's no harm in that."
"Great."
"What time are we talking?"
"Is tomorrow night at around seven thirty too short of notice?"
"Um ..., tomorrow at seven thirty?" he said back to her, Natalie Rickman still muttering swears over Peter, "Sure, that sounds fine."
"Thank you so much."
"No problem."

Mallory said goodbye and hung up the phone. She had some idea of how to get Stegmen back in the Kingdom, but she didn't know if he'd buy it. Then, for some odd reason, the term 'Hook's minions' ran though her mind. She shook it off.

"Hello?"
"Hello. Is this Dr. Stegmen?"
"It's Mr. Stegmen."
"This is Kingdom Hos–"
"You know, I've had just about enough of these crank calls to last me a lifetime–""Sir, this isn't a joke. I'm calling on behalf of Dr. Hook."
"Hook, huh? What's he want?"
"He wanted me to ask you if you could stop by the hospital tomorrow night. He wants to apologize for everything that he's put you though."
"Apologize?"
"Yes," Mallory said, "he's dreadfully sorry that he cost you your job and your credibility and everything that you had."
"Well, good. I hope he's had a nice guilt trip. W-what time are we talking?"
"7:30 sharp."
"I'll see what I can do."
"We appreciate it."
"Yeah, oh, what was your name, by the way, sweetheart?"
"Carter. Melinda Jane Carter."
"Thank you, Melinda."

Mallory hung up and sat down on the bed opposing Jackie's. She had done the hard part. Or what was the hard part so far. She almost dozed off when she was startled.

"Good work, Mal. But I have one question."
"What?" Mallory sat up straight.
"You need the doctors in that sleep lab too."
"I know that."
"So? What's your plan?"
"Otto goes out to 'dinner,' which is really code for live strip entertainment during dinner, at 7:10. Bobby Druse watches the security. I dress in scrubs and tell him his mother is waiting for him, but prior to that, I tell Sally that I'm ready to talk but it has to be in the sleep lab. After the Sally and Boddy are sqaured away, I page all of the doctors to the sleep lab."
"Jackie needs to be down in there with us."
"I'll just get some nurse to wheel her down there for scans, Dr. Hook's orders."
"Perfect." he said approvingly.

But there was something Mallory hadn't told Paul. After he left last night, she composed a letter.

Flashback

Mallory knew that there was a good chance Paul was watching her every move, just in case she wanted to pull a fast one. So she lied out loud. She told Jackie that she was going to write a letter to her parents, finally trying to make mends and all of that bologna. She wrote a letter alright, but not to her parents.

Mrs. Druse,

I can't talk to you in person. Dr. Gottreich, or the ghost of him, has a plan to kill everyone involved in putting Mary to rest and kicking Stegmen out of the hospital. Paul needs my help in order to do this. I can't back out now, I'm too involved. I need your help. He'll kill Jackie if I screw up. I'm only telling you this because I need your help. I can't talk anymore until tomorrow. Please think of something.

Mallory

Mallory slipped out of Jackie's room and down to Mrs. Druse. Luckily, a nurse had just walked by the door. Mallory bumped into the nurse and threw herself at Sally's door, quickly knocking as she did so.

"Are you okay?" the nurse asked.
"Oh, yes, I'm fine." Mallory said as Mrs. Druse emerged.
"Is everything alright out here?" Sally asked.
"Yes, I just lost my footing, but thank you." Mallory gripped Sally's hand, making sure that Sally was aware of the note she was passing, and gave a look of desperation.
"Just be a little more careful, dear." the nurse said.

Mallory nodded and walked away.

End Flashback

Mallory pushed the thought far, far away from her mind so that Paul had no inkling that something was going on.

"What exactly is going to happen tomorrow night?"
"I'm not really supposed to tell you." Paul said.
"And I'm not supposed to drink, or have sex , or talk to dead guys under the age of 21, but I do. So what gives?" Mallory put her hands on her hips.
"You really wanna know?"
"No, I'm asking because for my health." she said, then considering her surroundings, she added, "just tell me."
"Honestly? I don't know what Gottreich has planned. I didn't bother to ask. You did what you were supposed to. Lemme take care of the rest."

Paul looked at Mallory. She was nervous as hell about the next 48 hours. Here she was, in a strange town that probably looked as familiar to her as Mars, and her best friend's life was at the mercy of a dead doctor she had never spoken to.

"So I guess my work really is done?"
"No. That's where you're dead wrong."
"Pun intended?" she smiled.
"No." he didn't smile back.
"I thought you just said that I was finished and you're taking care of everything else."
"Whatever happens ... you need to wait it out. I need you with me when this ends, okay?"
"Whatever." she sighed, having nothing else to say.

Paul stood facing Mallory, his posture pin straight.

"I wanted to apologize." he said, suddenly, making her jump at the sound of his voice.
"For what?"
"For being such an asshole."
"If you hadn't of been," she smiled, "then I wouldn't be talking to you right now.""Treating you like shit wasn't the best way to gain ... whatever I've gained from you."
"It worked didn't it?"
"I'm trying to say that I'm sorry."
"Why?"
"God, can't you just say 'thanks' like everyone else?"
"I could, but I won't. Why are you all of a sudden being nice to me?"
"Can't a guy just feel bad about something for once?"
"Not a dead one. Not without an explanation."
"I just gave you one."
"That's not good enough." she stood.
"I don't have to explain anything to anyone. Especially you." he said, walking away.
"No," she grabbed his arm, " I've had enough of your mood swings, Paul. You may be able to pull that shit with Gottreich, Hook and everyone else in this hospital. But we're of the same breed, and I'm not buying it. You let me in on your secrets, you made me trust you, and then you spit in my face. Now you want to apologize? That's not how it works. Now would you please tell me why you let me get so close and why you presume to push me away?"
"What? When did we ever have anything together?"
"You've gotta be kidding. That night," Mallory shook her head, "that night in the old hospital. When I was ... and you ... that meant nothing to you? At all?"
"No. Of course not. Why?"
"Well .. I thought ... I-I thought that ..."
"Oh come on, Mallory. Do you buy into everything you see on tv? Did you really think that we'd ride off into the sunset together? This isn't some fairy tale."
"You don't have to be so–"
"Be so what? Honest?! Listen to me, Mallory. I'm only tolerating you because I have to. If I don't do everything Gottreich wants–"
"He'll what? Kill you?" Mallory crossed her arms.
"I don't know. But I'm not going to blow it with you."
"What if I told you that I'm not going to help you anymore?" Mallory said suddenly.
"Then you kiss Jackie goodbye."
"You already told me that I'm needed here. I could just postpone all this, right? I mean, I can agree to help and all, but not right away."
"You already made all of the calls and if you make me do it, I'll screw up her brain so bad that when she does wake up, she won't remember you."
"No you wouldn't."
"You wanna try me?" he said as she glared at him with fury.

He stood inches from her face in the heated argument. He tried to read her mind. If it was working, she was doing her best not to think of anything at all. What did it matter if she decided not to help him right away? She couldn't stay here forever. Getting everyone here wasn't really a problem. He could explain it all to Gottreich easily. He would have to appease her. If she was upset, she was no use to them. No, Mallory was quite wrong. Paul had the power here. He could make the selfish brat do anything he wanted.

He looked her up and down. Did she really thing that they had a chance of anything? 'She's so stupid ... who would want anything to do with me?' he thought. Paul had no feeling at all for Mallory. She wasn't ugly, but she wasn't his type. He didn't even have a type. But if he did, she wasn't it. They are complete opposites. Well, they were very much alike. Same sense of humor, ideas, etc. But being the same made them different, right? Whatever it meant, it made him mad. 'Who does she think she is? ... she can't pull one over on me .. It's just not done. She may be human, but she's a dumb as they come. ... Mallory Jane Merdock ... I hate her, I really do.'

Suddenly, Paul grabbed Mallory by the wrist and kissed her.


And all I see
It could never make me happy
All my sand castles spend their time collapsing
Let me know that you hear me
Let me know your touch
Let me know that you love me
And let that be enough

Sally Druse read Mallory's note over and over until she had it memorized. Once again, Sally was needed to put Kingdom Hospital back together. There were many people who she knew that would be willing to help her. Dr. Hook and Draper, of course. Bobby would have to at some point, no doubt. But even with all the willing participants, there was really only one person who she could count on 100. Sally took out her pendulum.

"Mary, it's Sally. I know that you can hear me. If you can–"
"Sally?" Mary suddenly appeared.
"Oh! Mary! It's so good to see you!" Sally exclaimed. "How are you?"
"I'm fine."
"This is so –– oh wait. Mary, how can you be here? I mean, I knew you'd be here in spirit, but, this way ... how is it possible?"
"If I'm needed, I'm granted permission to be here."
"That's wonderful!" Sally smiled, her head spinning with questions to ask Mary about the afterlife, "Oh, wait, Mary. I can;t waste any time. Do you know what's happened?"
"Yes."
"Please, tell me. A young girl needs my help and I've got to be there for her."
"Do you know her name?"
"Um .. yes ... it's something Merdock ... M-Mallory Merdock. She gave me a note. Something about Paul and needing my help."
"Mallory is in grave danger. If you don't help her, she'll turn into Paul."
"Turn into Paul? A-are you sure?"
"Yes. Paul is tricking her. He's offering her to Gottreich in his place. He'll be free to go wherever he wants to. You need to find her. Paul is brain washing her, as we speak."
"Where is she Mary?" Sally said, urgency in her voice. "Take me to her."


Mallory body felt frozen in Paul's embrace. She felt like she would never move again; a feeling that she had grown accustomed to. But instinctively, she wrapped her arms around Paul's neck.

Paul, once again, had no idea what he was doing. He hated this girl; but he was also falling in love with her. His mind raced. He didn't know what to do. So he pushed her away.

"WHAT?!" Mallory screamed. "What did I do now?!"
"I can't — I just want — Idon'tknow. I don't know what I want!"

Mallory looked at him, as if she could see into his mind.

"Then just tell me what you're thinking."
"I," Paul sighed, "I don't know. I need you ... for this project. Mallory, it's not that I don't want to get close to you; it's that I can't."
"It's a little late to tell me that."
"No, no," he shook his head, "I don't know what I'm feeling for you. I've never been in ... love. I don't know what that feels like."

For the first time, Mallory was understanding him. He was confused and angry about wanting to protect someone when he'd only be worrying about himself for years. He was scared. The intimidating, forceful son of a bitch was scared.

"This," she took his hand and placed it over her heart, "is love."

With every fiber of her being, Mallory wanted more than anything, for Paul to love her. But she didn't know what to make of him most days. When he wasn't insulting her, he was kissing her.

"I'm dead, Mallory," he took his hand away, "even I wanted this, I couldn't — we couldn't have it."
"We have until tomorrow night." she said and kissed him.


Sally ran down the hall to Jackie's room in pursuit of saving Mallory from herself. Her bare feet pounded the ground so hard her feet stung. 'I'm her only chance' she thought. When she reached the door, something told her to stop. She slowly walked up to the door and peered in through the window. On the opposite hospital bed from a comatose Jackie, she saw Mallory Merdock and Paul Morlock tangled in a web of passion, too sour for their own good.

Here I go scream my lungs out
And try to get to you
You are my only one
I let go
There's just no one
That gets me like you do
You are my only
My only one

Mallory could feel Paul's cold breath on the back of her neck. His hands entwined her her as he whispered in her ear words she never would have imagined coming out of his angry mouth. Her hair was a mountain of tangles and her makeup was smeared left and right over her face. For once, she was loved. When she took short breaths she could see steams of air evolving before her. How she could be sweating and shivering at the same time, she didn't know. But she was happy.

Paul's mind raced as his eyes locked with Mallory's gaze. Never would he have thought this possible. Surely she could feel his heart racing against hers; a fast paced rhythm that could not be slowed. He felt her arms wrap around his back and realized that this was love. This mad, passionate embrace was what he'd been waiting for. As he collapsed in her arms, she whispered to him, "I love you." He, without even thinking replied, "I love you, too."

What would happen tomorrow night seems eons away. What mattered right now what them together, and that was it.


Let That Be Enough - Switchfoot
Only One - Yellowcard