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A/N: there's going to be a pic of Mal added, I just need to get to the comp that actually HAS the pic!


When Alice finally blinked into consciousness, she found herself cocooned into a pile of pillows and blankets on a very low matress bed. She could smell lingering traces of animals and tobacco and knew she was still in Salali's home. On the other side of the door she could hear Mal being angry at someone. The words were too muffled to make out, but his tone of voice was pissed off with a dash of determination. She couldn't remember being woken every 45 minutes since they came from the hospital, but her body felt the lack of continuous sleep and every injury she'd suffered at Stuart's hands. Malcolm slammed the phone down outside and Alice jumped a little, astonished to have found his temper. He'd always seemed so.... professional before. Now though, whatever had pissed him off was making him pace, and even with a door between them, Alice could feel the agitation radiate off of him. She shuffled out of the bed and cracked open the door to see his shoulders knotted with tension, hands balled into fists and his eyes closed as he tried to take deep breaths to calm down.

She waited for him to calm down, taking the opportunity to just look at him properly. His normally smiling face was harsh with anger and Ace was getting the inkling that this was the part of Mal that had found running with a street gang as a youth attractive. Even though he seemed like such a bloody boy scout at times, that was his way of controlling that beastly aspect within himself. Seeing how his chest heaved with his efforts to calm himself down, Alice realized that he'd been suppressing the darker aspects of his behaviour for a while now, and it was taking its toll on him. Finally Mal opened his eyes, surprised to see Alice standind in the door way, watching him.

"Looks like you need this." Alice stated cryptically and then suddenly hugged him. He stiffened up for a second, then relaxed and wrapped his arms around her as she hugged him. "Every now and then, a hug helps." she stated into his shoulder and he chuckled.

"Getting a hug from a pretty lady, Yeah I can see how that'd be effective." Malcolm admitted as he laughed.

Alice grinned up at him, for a moment forgetting her injuries. "Easy there lover boy, keep talking like that and I may get the wrong idea." she joked, while a small part of her brain yammered away about how she already had the wrong idea.

"If I keep getting hugs, I don't think I mind." Mal teased.

"Can I ask what got you so worked up?" Alice asked, not wanting to kill the relaxed mood, but needing to know. She figured it had to involve her somehow.

Malcolm's smile slipped and he sighed out a breath. "I phoned your foster family. Told them that I was a co-worker and that you'd crashed at the boss' place last night. Kept them from reporting you as a run away again. They seemed....less than pleased and demanded that I bring you home. So I told them how we'd had to bring you to the hospital..." he trailed off.

"Which is when they started to get angry." Alice filled in, already knowing that she would just catch hell for this later. She didn't want to resent Malcolm's help, but it was a little frustrating to know that his good intentions would end up with bruises on her body later.

"After that phone call, Mal here called the SSA on your behalf and demanded to speak to a Supervisor. That nurse yesterday had already called in about Agent... what was her name? Anyways, she called in about that idiot Agent yesterday and listed a complaint. Malcolm's call today just added to that. Tell her." Salali instructed from the kitchen. Alice blinked at the disembodied voice wafting their way and tried not to drool at the smell of something cooking.

She looked up at Mal and was a little stunned to realize that he was still holding her in a loose hug. She pushed the urge to blush away and stepped back, reluctantly pulling her arms from around his waist. This was getting ridiculous, she really did have an idiot school girl crush on him! "So what exactly did you do?" Alice demanded, trying not to sound suspicious.

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