Click. Malcolm knew that sound.
“Edrisa!” he yelled, before leaping over the desk and pushing Edrisa to the side, instinctively pressing down on the circular object that had been hidden underneath the body. “Land mine!” he called out glancing down at it, recognising the object, and putting his other hand on top of it. “It's a black widow.”
As soon as the words came out of his mouth, the movement in the room stopped.
“We got a bomb,” called out JT. “Get me ESU, the bomb squad and the level-one mobilization.”
“All non-essentials clear the area. Everyone, evacuate now.” Gil ordered. The people in the room snapped out of their shock and began moving out. “Edrisa, get your people out of here,” He instructed the medical examiner.
“Get the body, let's move. Let's move!” “Let's go. Come on.” Edrisa said exiting the room followed by the two men.
“What the hell is a black widow?” Dani asked, looking at JT in panic.
“A Russian anti-personnel mine. Been around since the '50s. Taliban love these things.” He replied not taking his eyes of the explosive. Seeing another cop approach Malcolm with a Kevlar vest, he approached him. “Keep that thing steady, bro,” he added, slipping the vest onto Malcolm, and fastening it. “The only thing keeping this place from blowing is a weak creep spring on the pressure plate.”
“Oh, good thing I don't have a hand tremor,” the profiler said lightly, quickly glancing up at JT, only to focus on the explosive once again a second later.
“You're making jokes?” Gil asked him incredulously.
Malcolm ignored the comment. “There's no reason for you to stay here,” he said looking up at his three friends. “I can handle this until the bomb squad gets here.”
“We're not leaving you…” Dani commented, as if the thought of doing so was unthinkable.
“It's fine. I—" he began but was interrupted by a sudden click coming from the mine, which was followed a ticking noise.
“That's the spring,” said JT. “It's activated.”
“Okay, turn of events” Malcom said, his voice changing to a slight panicked tone. “This mine is definitely not stable. Uh, which means I need to speak quickly. Uh, JT, auction houses will have records of the gun's sale. Gil, the killer identifies as the Count, which means that the victim would have deemed him inferior or unworthy in some way. And Dani?” He then whirled his head to face her. “I don’t have a possible physical description, but you look beautiful and I’m pretty sure I’m falling in love with you.”
The room froze again.
Malcolm seemed to realise what he had just said and paled even further. “Shit.”
“Have to say I did not see that one coming,” JT mumbled.
“Bright what—" Dani started but trailed off, still in complete shock trying to process what had just happened.
“Never mind that, it slipped out,” Malcom stated, shaking his head, and looking back down before popping his head back up. “I have a plan. Go!” he told the group, with a sense of finality.
“Come on,” Gil said gently, grabbing Dani’s arm and pulling her out the room, the woman’s eyes never leaving Malcolm, but allowing herself be pulled out.
When the room finally emptied, Malcolm let out a breath of relief. At least his team was out. “All right,” he said to himself out loud. “What's the plan?”
As if on cue, his phone began ringing. Carefully but quickly, he removed one of his hands from the bomb, grabbed his phone from his back pocket, and looked at the caller ID. Of course, it was his father. “Might as well go out with a bang,” he said, before accepting the call. “I only have a second.”
“My boy, it's your father. I'm back,” came his father’s voice.
“Great. I'm, uh...” Malcolm trailed off.
“A little busy? I bet.”
“Yeah, just... stabilizing a triggered land mine that a Count of Monte Cristo-inspired killer planted in his victim's office. Oh, and just told a friend that I possibly love her.”
“What have we done?” Dani whispered as Gil escorted her out the building, still in a slightly shocked state. “We just… We just left him.”
“He’ll be fine,” Gil stated somewhat unconvincingly.
“Kid sure as hell picked a great time to confess though,” JT commented as they went onto the street, trying to put some distance between them and the building.
“JT, not the time,” Gil scolded as Dani’s breathing quickened. “Dani, he’s going to be fine. He always is”
As if on cue, a shot rang out, followed by the sound of breaking glass. Less than a second later, a white clothed figure came out of a window, quickly followed by a cloud of smoke and fire from the landmine explosion. The world seemed to go in slow motion as gravity took over and Malcolm landed straight on the roof of Gil’s Le Mans.
The three detectives rushed to the car, but stopped suddenly, just as Malcolm lifted his head slightly. “I think I’m gonna miss my flight,” he stated before dropping his head, much to the relief of the onlookers.
“Can we get a medic over here?” Gil called out to the first responders in the area.
“No need,” came Malcolm’s voice from the now bent roof of the car. “I’m fine.”
“Kid, you just jumped through breaking glass to escape an exploding landmine, fell two and landed on...” Gil gulped and briefly closed his eyes, “landed on my Le Mans. You are everything but fine.”
“I would know if I had broken any bones and,” Malcolm said, sitting up but still winced, “I didn’t hit my head so no concussion…”
“Read my lips, Bright. You are getting checked out,” Gil enunciated. “Powell, stay with him. I need to… make arrangements,” he said looking at his car with a sad gaze.
JT clapped Gil’s back. “C’mon boss, let’s go,” he told the older man, leading him away, while Dani walked to where Malcolm was laying with clasped hands, right as two medics also arrived by his side.
“You’re an idiot,” were the first words out of her mouth as the medics helped him off the roof and onto the trunk of the now destroyed car.
He grimaced as one of the paramedics gently unfastened and removed his vest, pushed back what remained of his white covered jacket and began unbuttoning his shirt. “I don’t think anyone will argue with you on that.”
The pair of them stood silently as the medics examined Malcolm’s chest and head, only speaking to answer any questions, until the paramedics decreed that the only thing that came out of the fall was some serious bruising. The medics left them by the ruined car, with instructions for Malcolm to put some ice on his ribs when he could. Malcolm just sighed and began buttoning up his shirt.
Dani looked down at her hands. “Did you mean it?” she asked, causing him to stop mid-buttoning and turn his head to face her.
“Mean what?” he asked her back softly, not moving an inch.
“You’re really going to make me say it, huh?” Dani said, somewhat shyly, still not looking up. “That you thought I was pretty and that…”
Malcolm sighed, and looked down himself, putting his now trembling hands on his thighs. “We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to. We can just pretend it never happened…”
“Well, what if I don’t want to do that?” Dani blurted out, causing Malcolm’s head to shoot up, looking at her, mouth slightly open. She walked over to stand in front of him and looked him in the eyes. “I want to know the truth: did you mean it?”
“Yes,” Malcolm replied without hesitation, although his hands still trembled. “I meant every word of it.”
“Good,” Dani said simply, not breaking eye contact.
“Good?” Malcolm asked, slightly confused. “Dani, what do you...”
Without wasting another second, Dani stepped forward, grabbed his hands, and kissed him. She pulled away a couple seconds later, not even letting him respond.
Malcolm just stared at her, mouth slightly open and gaze flitting between her face and their still joined hands, but not saying a word.
“Cat got your tongue?” Dani asked smirking, although her tone of voice came out as a bit unsure and hesitant.
“I-um… I…” Malcolm stuttered nervously.
“Bright, you gotta give me something to work with here,” Dani stated, her expression slowly dropping. She began pulling her hands from his when suddenly he tightened his grip on them.
“No… sorry,” he chuckled awkwardly. “You… literally left me speechless.”
“Well, that’s a first,” Dani commented, the signs of an actual smile starting to form.
“Not really. You’ve rendered me wordless plenty of times before. Just not when you were paying attention,” Malcolm smiled, having regained his composure. “I just needed a minute to process.”
“What was there to process?” Dani asked, stepping in closer. Suddenly, Malcolm let go of her hands, only to then grab her waist and spread his own legs at the same time and pulled her towards him.
“That the most wonderful woman I know just came over and kissed me,” he replied, wrapping his arms around her waist as she put hers on his chest. “And for the record, I don’t think you’re just pretty. You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and I’ve known that since day one.”
Dani blushed, but before she could reply she was interrupted.
"Ey, lovebirds! If you're done over there, we need to get back to the precinct!" JT called. "There's still a murder to solve."
"Right." Dani mumbled, relunctantly pulling away. "But we're talking about the whole staying-behind-alone-with-an-active-landmine and jumping-out-a-window business later. Among other things." She held out her hand to help him stand up.
"Yes ma'am" Bright answered with a huge grin, taking her hand and pulling himself up. "Although... I may need some help walking..." he said, trying to seem as innocent as possible.
Dani rolled her eyes at the obvious lie but allowed him to sling his arm around her shoulders while wrapping hers around his waist. "Come on Mr. Dramatic. You still have to tell us how the Count of Montecristo fits in with this murder. And go on your vacation."
In the end, Gil allowed Dani to take some last minute time off for a trip. After all, she and Bright had a lot to talk about.