Lulu: Thanks for the review!

Peachy65: Thanks for reviewing! This chapter is going to have a lot of Mallory in it. I don't want to give too much away, but yeah it's interesting lol

Vaughnloveralwaysandforev: I'm glad you liked it! Yeah Mallory got the shit end of the stick, but she has more stuff she's getting involved in. And I'm glad you liked the Jim and Elizabeth. They have some moments in this chapter as well!

Jen: Thanks for your honest review. I actually completely agree with you. While writing I felt like I was going in circles at some points. Trust me when I tell you that I have a master plan for this whole story. I'm the mad scientist! Nothing is randomly put in. Everything will make sense eventually. And you'll be finding out a lot more about Mallory's character by the end of this chapter, and Elizabeth and Jim will be having future drama as well. I hope I don't lose you as a reader! Thanks for the review!

ashaloo155: Thanks for the review! I have a plan for Mallory, but I loved reading your prediction. And I love "The Chain"! It's honestly one of my favorite songs and it describes Mallory so well.

AN: Hello my lovely readers! Sorry for the long wait, this semester had been a little more grueling than I had anticipated. I finally decided that I need to write this chapter up this past Sunday when I spent 13 hours in the library. It was miserable and I came to the conclusion that I need some me time doing something I love, which is writing this story. Anyways, here it is. I feel like everything I've written so far has built up to this chapter and I won't lie; I actually got a bit emotional writing it. I've never cried while writing before so that was definitely a first. But enough talking, I really hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 39

"Mallory played her music too loud today," Rizzo joked, "Like always."

"I thought she was packing all day today. I didn't think she had that much stuff," Silk said.

"Yeah that's because instead of packing Mal, me and a few other girls on the floor had a two- hour dance party before they left," Elizabeth laughed, "So she still has a long way to go."

It was a few days before Christmas and the guys were at a party hosted at Doc's house. It was a nice way to get everyone together before the holidays. They had a few days off and weren't going to arrive back in Minnesota until New Years. All the guys were going home tonight, with the exception of Mark because he couldn't get a flight until the next day.

A lot of changes were going to happen by the time New Years hit. Mallory had just graduated and was no longer the RA for the hall. A new RA would be moving in when they got back. She told the guys that she was moving back home, about half an hour away, and applying to jobs. She already applied to a few places, but the economy was in shambles so she wasn't expecting much.

"Where is Mallory anyways?" OC asked, looking around and noticing the blonde wasn't there.

"She's moving some of her stuff out," Mac to his teammate, "I think her brother came to pick up some of her boxes. She probably still has more stuff to pack though."

"Oh," OC nodded as he sipped his beer.

"It's going to be weird not having Mallory as our RA," Bah thought aloud.

"Yeah, the hall's going to be different now," Pav agreed.

"You guys better watch out, I hear the new RA is supposed to be a really hot guy. All the girls on the floor are going to be falling for him," Elizabeth chuckled and teased the guys as she leaned back and rested her back against Jim's legs.

"How do you know?" Jim kidded as he looked down at his girlfriend and raised his eyebrow.

"That's what Mallory said. She met him. Apparently he's blonde and very handsome," Elizabeth explained.

"Fuck blondes," Silk sighed, before looking up at some of his teammates, "Sorry Verchota, Baker."

"Whatever," Elizabeth sighed, "I really hope Mallory comes back for some visits. She told us today during the dance party that she would."

The guys kept talking as Elizabeth took a deep breath and a sip of her beer, thinking about the blonde RA. The two definitely got off on the wrong foot, but so much has changed since then. Elizabeth wasn't an adult by any means, but she was a lot more mature now than she was a few months ago. Elizabeth thanked Jim for that, but part of her would always thank Mallory too. The blonde taught her what it was like to be tough and to stand up for herself. Elizabeth didn't really to have someone to look up to while living in Minnesota. Her strained relationship with her coach was complicated, but the brunette thought of Mallory when she thought of a role model. At that moment she realized how much she would actually miss not seeing her everyday.

The ice skater felt a tap on her shoulder and looked up at her boyfriend, who had noticed she was frowning and no longer interested in the conversation. Jim was going to change that. He looked down and smiled at her. Jim then took her hand and she stood up. He pulled her down onto his lap and she laughed. She felt like a little kid and she was literally sitting on Santa's lap. She smiled and kissed his cheek. The couple was wrapped up in each other's arms, giving each other light kisses without anyone else from the team noticing.

The pair got back into the conversation when the team decided it was time to open presents. They had a secret Santa gift thing set up. The guys all got up one by one to deliver their gifts to each other. When all the guys were done, Herb opened his present and gave his little thank you speech. It sounded kind of strained to Elizabeth. Herb then left and the guys all announced that they were getting ready to play football. Suddenly a familiar blonde came bursting in. It was Mallory

"Hi! Sorry I'm late," the RA looked frazzled, "I saw some guy in plaid leaving. Is it over? Did I miss everything?"

She stood at the center of the room, trying to catch her breath. She just had a whirlwind of events happen to her. The blonde was overwhelmed but she didn't want to miss this party. She was no longer their RA, technically, but it was still a nice gesture. Mac told her that he knew what today was. It was the anniversary of her mom's death and he didn't want his friend to be alone.

"Nah, Mal," Buzz laughed, "Did you get lost or something?"

"No," Mallory chuckled and shook her head, "My brother was late picking stuff up. I still have more stuff to pack. I have to return to the dorms after the party. And I was on the phone and stuff…"

Mallory eyed some standing room near Mac and walked towards her friend. They both had talked since they got high together. They both just understood each other. Mac nodded as she approached and Mallory gave him a small smile.

"Hey nice sweater, Mal," Verchota laughed as she walked by him.

"Nice face, Verchota," the blonde rolled her eyes, sounding un-amused but still gave him a small smile, she knew he was teasing.

Even if he wasn't kidding, Mallory didn't care what the guys said about her sweater. It was pink. It wasn't anything special, but her mom knitted it for her in her last few months. It meant a lot to her, especially on this day. The guys didn't know that though. She didn't remember telling any of them that her mom made it for her.

"So, who were you on the phone with?" Mac quickly tried to change subjects.

"I got a call…from my employer," Mallory grinned, "I just got a job offer!"

The team clapped and some cheered to her by raising their glasses. It was almost impossible to find a job nowadays, she should consider herself lucky. Mallory was a business major, so she had the best chance of getting a job than a lot of other people. But they were still in a recession, it was hard out there.

"Who are you working for?" Mark asked.

"Price Waterhouse," Mallory answered.

"That's awesome; at least you get to stay close. You can live at home," Jim nodded before taking another sip of his beer.

"Actually," Mallory took a deep breath, "I'm working for the one in New York City. I'm moving to New York after New Years."

No one on the team reacted for a moment. She was moving away? Elizabeth's jaw dropped a bit. This was all happening too fast. Mallory looked a little frazzled but she was eager, ready and excited.

"Congrats, Mal," OC was the first one to speak up.

A few of the guys followed in their congratulations after OC. Mac turned to his friend and told her quietly, "I told you that you could do it." She told him about the New York job when they got high together. She didn't have faith in herself that she would get the job, but he believed in her.

Elizabeth was still trying to take it all in. She was going to miss seeing her everyday, but she still promised to visit a lot. Now with the move, they couldn't see each other at all. In Elizabeth's eyes, Mallory really leveled her off. She was more balanced and a little less immature than before. She needed the RA in her life. For the first time in Elizabeth's life she had no idea about what she was doing or where she was going, because her Olympic dreams were over. Mallory made her feel like that was okay.

"Have you told the other girls yet? Are you gonna call them and like wish them good bye?" Elizabeth asked with a slight frown. She bit the bottom of her lip, waiting for a response.

"No," Mallory shook her head and chuckled, "I just found out myself, I'm a little overwhelmed….and it's better if I don't say anything. I'm not very good at goodbyes."

Mallory saw Elizabeth frown at her reply. She wasn't angry, she looked upset and hurt. Mallory knew that she had reached out to Elizabeth over the past few months and they had become closer. Elizabeth wasn't always the best to express feelings to other people, hell neither did Mallory, but the blonde knew that the ice skater was very fond of her.

"I'm going to try to make it out to Lake Placid," the blonde nodded with hesitance in her voice. She knew that Elizabeth wasn't going to compete, but assumed that she would go to the games to support her boyfriend.

OC stood up and began walking towards the door, "That's great, Mal. Really. But let's play football!"

Before Mallory came in that's what they were planning on doing. They wanted to get a quick game in before some of the guys had to leave for their red eyes or wanted to drive home. This was the last that they'd see each other until New Years. The team stood up and when a few of them passed by Mallory again, they gave her congratulations.

As the guys played football outside, Mallory and Elizabeth helped Doc's wife clean the dishes. They didn't talk about New York or anything else. Elizabeth didn't really talk at all, much to Mallory's surprise. When the guys were finished with their game, they were getting ready to go. Mallory gave hugs to all the guys on her floor, promising them that she would try to make it out to Lake Placid for a few days. She didn't know how work was going to be but Lake Placid was in the same state as New York. She could take a bus or something.

"You're going to rock in New York, Mal," Mac whispered in her ear when they hugged.

"If you want to talk or anything, just call," Jim told her during their hug.

"I'm mad we never banged," Phil teased during his goodbye, which was reciprocated with a playful slap to the shoulder.

The last person that Mallory hugged was Elizabeth. She didn't really know what the ice skater would say or do. They had an odd relationship. They used to despise each other, but after Elizabeth almost got assaulted they saw each other's true colors. They grew to respect each other. All that Elizabeth really wanted was acceptance and Mallory gave her that.

The RA was surprised when Elizabeth gave her a big hug. She seemed a little upset with her when they were doing dishes, but for this moment all those bad feelings went away. Elizabeth squeezed tight and Mallory hugged back.

"I'm really going to miss you, Mallory," the brunette said honestly.

"I'll miss you too," Mallory told her, "You've come a long way from 'You're So Vain'"

"Because of you," Elizabeth told her.

The hug lasted a few more moments until Elizabeth let go. She then left with Jim so she could drive to the airport with him and the rest of the Boston guys. They were all taking the same redeye to Boston and she was flying out to San Francisco, spending Christmas with her family. It was the way it was supposed to be, Mallory was the one that told her that family was the most important thing.

After that, Mallory had no one else to hug. The only guy she didn't hug was Mark. He was spending the night in the dorms because he couldn't get a flight up to Madison until the next day. Mallory was a little relieved about that. She didn't want it to be a quick goodbye with him. Mark was one of her favorite guys on the team. Even her goodbyes to Mac and Jim seemed a little rushed for her.

"Now I got you all to myself," Mallory joked as they made their way out of the house and to her car.

"I don't mind…" Mark replied back shyly and in a low tone that Mallory didn't even hear.

…..

Mallory was sitting on the ground, putting her last few boxes together. Her room was mostly empty now. She was planning on finishing packing up tonight and heading home. This was the first time that she had been alone all day, it was her little time to reflect. She still couldn't believe that it was a year ago today. It was the anniversary of her mother's death. It was a sad day, but it was also a milestone. It had been a year, the proper amount of time to grieve. It was now time to move on and Mallory's move to New York was the perfect new start.

The music-loving RA still had her record player playing. That would be the last thing she packed. To her, music was everything. It was the soundtrack of life. Right now she was playing 'Bookends' by Simon and Garfunkel. It described everything going on in her life. She had just graduated college. It was the end of a chapter in her life. Now she was beginning adulthood, a thought that both excited and scared the shit out of her.

Mallory's thoughts were interrupted when she heard a small knock on her already slightly ajar door. Then she saw Mark walk in with sweats and a tee-shirt on. He must've been in bed. She frowned, assuming she woke him up with her music.

"I'm really sorry!" she said sincerely, "Did I wake you up?"

"No," Mark gave her a look that she had never seen before, "I couldn't sleep."

"I'm surprised," Mallory chuckled, "No one else is on the floor but us. I don't think the hall's ever been this quiet!"

"Yeah," Mark nodded, "I just got a lot on my mind."

Mallory smiled and nodded at her friend. Mark looked over to the record player and bit the bottom of his lip, hiding his smile.

"'Bookends'?" Mark already knew the answer to that, "You really do pick music that describes your mood."

The blonde nodded. She was happy that Mark knew the song. She could talk about music for hours and anyone who talked about it to was a good person in her book. When the short song came to an end, the blonde sprang up. She grinned at the hockey player and walked over to the record player, saying she was going to play another song that described her mood. She took out Simon and Garfunkel and picked up another forty-five that was on the ground. She put it in the record player and started it up. Mallory turned to Mark and laughed. It was 'At Last' by Etta James.

"At last, I'm done with school!" she exclaimed as she walked back to her boxes and Mark.

While she was walking she began singing, not very well, to the song. She sang confidently to any song, no matter how bad a singer she was. That was the first thing that Mark ever noticed about her. She radiated confidence.

Mark finally let out a big smile when he saw her. He was always so serious, but Mallory had something about her. She would always make him smile, no matter what.

"Do you want to dance?" Mark offered her his hand.

Mallory's face lit up. She needed a little packing break and Mark was nice to offer to dance. She figured he only did it because they were the only two on the floor and none of the other guys were there. If they saw him dance with Mallory they would surely make fun of him in the locker room.

"Sure," she took his hand, "So fancy, Mark!"

Mallory and Mark held hands. Mallory placed her other hand on his shoulder and he put his on the small of her back. They began dancing to the music, without a care in the world.

"Hey, you're pretty good at this," Mallory chuckled as she danced with Mark.

"Yeah, I remember when I was a kid and after dinner at night when my mom would do the dishes, my dad would sometimes come and just dance with her like this," Mark reminisced and gave a small smile, realizing he had never told this story to anyone, "To this song actually."

"That sounds really nice," she gave him a genuine smile back.

Mark looked down for a moment and blushed as he tried to hide a smile. He then took a deep breath and looked at her in the eye as the two kept dancing. It's now or never, Mark, he told himself.

"Despite what the other guys said, I like your sweater," he told her with a small smile, "And it means something to you. You're mom knitted it."

Mallory raised her eyebrows and smiled. She was taken aback that he knew that, "How did you…"

Before Mallory could finish, Mark spoke up, "You told me. It was sometime last month, like right before Thanksgiving. And some of the guys were teasing you and you told me that you didn't care what they said because you're mom made it for you and it was you're favorite sweater."

The blonde gave him a stunned and pleasantly surprised look. She didn't even remember that, "How did you remember that?"

Mark paused for a moment, before leaning in and whispering in her ear, "I remember everything."

The blonde looked away for a moment. No one had ever said anything like that to her before. She was speechless. Mark was never so candid and bold like that before, at least not that she's seen. Mallory kept dancing with him, trying to find the words to say but Mark once again spoke up.

"Mallory, don't go to New York," he said seriously, looking at her right in the eye.

Mallory looked back at his eyes and studied them. His normally soft blue eyes looked colder. He didn't sound or look mad, just somber and serious. Mallory had never seen him like this or hear the normally quiet and laid back Mark talk like this.

"What? Why?" she raised her eyebrow and gave him a confused look.

"Because I'm in love with you," he didn't even blink. He said it with a straight face and Mallory could tell he wasn't lying.

The blonde stopped dancing with the hockey player and stood in place. Her jaw dropped for a second and she began mumbling, trying to collect her thoughts together. Was he serious? She didn't know what to do or say.

"Mark?" she was a little breathless. They were always friends and she really liked talking to him. Mallory kept staring in his deep blue eyes; those were what attracted her into getting to know Mark. She loved his eyes. The first thing that Mallory noticed about anybody was their eyes and when she first saw Mark she could tell he was kind.

"Mal," he put a finger on his lips, signaling that he wanted to speak. Mallory had never seen him like this before. Mark was normally so quiet. But now he was so confident and sure about what he was saying, it was refreshing, "I'm not just saying this because you're leaving. The truth is that I've always been in love with you, from the first day I met you. I remember when you played 'Hello, It's Me' from your room and you opened the door and sang to your brother. You looked so beautiful and confident; I just had to know you. That was the moment I knew. And then you started going out with OC and I thought I missed my chance. But when it didn't work out, I wanted to give you some time but that's when Silky came. And I know you guys are over but I still wanted to give you time. I don't want to give you time anymore. I'm totally in love with you, Mal, and I don't want to lose you."

Mallory had her hands covering her mouth the whole time. She was in shock. Was this real life? Was this really happening? The blonde didn't know what to say or what to think. She couldn't pinpoint any emotion right now. Mallory had never heard him speak like this before. To Mark, when he found out Mallory was leaving something inside him snapped. He decided he wasn't going to stand back anymore. He was going to fight for her. Before she could speak up, Mark continued talking.

"Mal, I've never told anybody this. When all the guys would ask me if I liked anyone or if I was seeing anybody, I would always tell them no. I lied to them because I didn't want them to think anything negative about it. I really care about you, Mallory. You're like the most amazing, strongest person on the planet. Remember when you asked me to go to Mount Rushmore with you? You're parents ashes are there…I know that that meant something for you and it killed me to say no to you. Mallory….please say something."

The blonde couldn't take her eyes off of Mark's. They were so kind, sweet and sincere. Mallory didn't say anything though. Instead she put her hands on his face and pulled him close to her. She kissed him as hard as she could. Mark seemed surprised at first, but after a second he began kissing right back. He wrapped his strong arms around her waist and held her close.

The two made out for a couple of minutes before Mallory began walking backwards, still kissing, to lead him towards the bed. Mark stopped her for a moment and looked down at her with a big smile on his face. He couldn't believe this was happening. He kissed her forehead and brushed some lose strands of hair from her face.

"Let's go to my bed," he looked at her bare mattress, "It has sheets and stuff. I just want you to be comfortable."

Mallory nodded and began kissing him ferociously again. Mark kissed her back. The two kept kissing and slowly left Mallory's room and walked the two steps to the room that Mark shared with Mac. They were the only two people on the floor tonight; no one was there to see them. Mark opened his door and held Mallory's hips as he led her inside. He closed the door and the two made their way to Mark's bed, not stopping for a single breath.

Mark woke up the next morning to the sound of his alarm clock. He had a pretty late night last night, but it was worth it. For a split second, he thought it was all a dream. Mallory was the girl of his dreams and he finally admitted to her how he felt. Then they had sex, but there was something more there. Mark felt it. He had never felt that way before when he had sex with other girls. This was special. He hoped Mallory felt the same. She spent the night with him. When Mark fell asleep, he held her in his arms. The hockey player didn't know what last night meant, and if he had convinced her to stay. He hoped he had, he was going to ask her about it.

Mark took a deep breath and turned off the alarm clock. He stretched for a moment before he looked at the other side of the bed at the corner of his eye. Mallory's side of the small twin was empty. He felt her side. It was cold, which meant it was empty for a while. Mark knew it wasn't a dream. It felt real, and besides that he was naked and he never slept naked. The two had fallen asleep wrapped in each other's arms.

The hockey player stumbled out of bed and saw his boxers that were tossed on the floor last night. He quickly put them on and walked out the door, stepping on one of Mallory's socks in the process. No one else was in the hall; he didn't need to get dressed. He saw her door across from him was slightly ajar and walked swiftly towards it.

"Mallory!" he exclaimed as he opened the door.

Mark's jaw dropped. The room was completely empty. The blonde RA had a few boxes left to pack when they started dancing and suddenly stopped everything. Mark shook his head and cursed to himself. He had always been the heaviest sleeper. Mark looked around her empty room and put his hands on his head, thinking of things Mallory had said in the past.

"I'm not very good at goodbyes."

"I just wanted to get away. I don't want to be here."

"I'm not a very good person."

It was like she was warning him about this all along. There was no note, no goodbye, nothing. Mallory was gone and she wasn't coming back.