“What about the others?”
The blue-eyed detective blinks in surprise, looking down at his fiancée. “What about them, Nat?”
“You know what I mean, Mal. They’re going to find out about our engagement sooner or later. And they probably won’t be happy if they find out we’ve been engaged for almost a month and we haven’t told them yet. We need to tell them before they do” the raven-haired woman murmurs softly, looking up into her fiancé’s sapphire-blue eyes as she rests her head on his chest.
The detective smiles softly at the younger woman, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead. “I know that, Nat. Believe me, I know we have to tell them. But right now I just want to relax and bask in the fact that we’re actually engaged. Is that so selfish of me?”
Natara smiles back, raising herself slightly. Of course, she understands what he means. If she really thinks about it, she has no desire to let anyone else into the ‘secret’ of the change in their relationship status at all. Ever since Mal proposed to her on the balcony of their hotel in Paris that night, it is as if they’ve been in their own private bubble of happiness. And she knows it is silly to think it, but she can’t help feeling that if they do tell the others their news, the bubble will burst. And at that point, she’s really too content for that to happen. “No, Mal, I don’t think that’s selfish of you at all. If I’m entirely honest with you, I don’t want to tell them either. But like I said, they are going to find out one way or another, and we should probably tell them before they find out in a way that we’d prefer they didn’t” she replies gently.
Her fiancé chuckles, a deep, rich, sound that causes his chest to vibrate under her cheek. “That is a very good point indeed, Nat. Alright, how about we invite them out for lunch today? We can tell them then”.
She pauses, considering Mal’s suggestion, then smiles slightly. “Alternatively, why don’t we get them to meet us at the Drunk Tank tonight? We could use the extra time this afternoon to relax and watch a movie together. Or we could read, listen to music, or maybe even enjoy our engagement properly” she offers.
Mal smiles at her, knowing exactly what she’s thinking. In one fluid move, he reaches up and pulls his phone out of the charger, quickly composing a group message to be sent to all of their friends. After approximately ten seconds, he pauses, turning the device so that the black-haired woman can see the screen. “How’s this?”
‘Drunk Tank at 6:30 tonight. Nat and I have some big news for all of you. See you all there. – Mal. P.S First round’s on me.’ Nat’s grey eyes flicker back and forth as she scans the body of the group text that he’s about to send, and she nods. “Send it”.
Giving her a nod of agreement, Mal taps the Send button. A couple of seconds later, his phone beeps quietly, alerting him that the message has been sent, and he puts his phone into sleep mode, putting it back on the table behind him. His fiancée wriggles slightly closer to him, his arms automatically wrapping protectively around her waist. “I love you, Natara Williams”.
She lifts her head sleepily, pressing a soft kiss to his lips in response, before returning to her earlier position. “I love you too, Mal Fallon”.
He’s heard the six words hundreds of times before, naturally, but the sound of them escaping from the lips of the beautiful raven-haired woman currently cuddled up to him never fails to amaze him. Smiling, he closes his eyes, and lets the soft breathing of his fiancée lull him to sleep.
~6:30 that night~
There’s a murmur of activity inside the bar as Mal and Natara step through the doors, activity that seems to stop altogether as the couple approach the table around which their friends are sitting. “Thanks for coming, everyone. You have no idea how much we appreciate it” Mal comments cheerfully as they sit down next to each other.
Amy smiles in response. “No problem! So, you said you guys had big news for us, what is it?”
“We’ll tell you once we get our drinks” Mal says quietly.
Their friends nod, and, once their drinks have been ordered and brought over to them, Jeremy coughs quietly. “So, are you going to tell us what this big news is or not?”
Mal and Natara glance momentarily at each other, smiling slightly, and Nat places her hands on the table in front of her. The diamond on top of the engagement ring on her left hand sparkles gently in the dimly-lit bar, and Mal notes the second that it registers with Amy exactly what has changed, the moment that the analyst’s eyes widen in disbelief. “Oh my god. Seriously?”
A smile flickers across Natara’s face, and she nods, her eyes sparkling happily. Amy flings herself to her feet immediately, reaching across the wooden table, pulling the older woman into a tight hug, almost knocking over her drink in the process. “Wait… what?”
Mal meets the confused eyes of the rest of their group of friends, grinning. “Seriously? Most of you are top-notch crime-solvers, and former members of the SCT, and yet you can’t figure this out?” he queries, more amused by their confusion than he is willing to admit.
Natara nudges him playfully. “Oh, let’s just tell them already, Mal. It is why we asked them to meet us here in the first place. Besides, Amy’s already figured it out, so really it’s only fair they get to know too” she says quietly.
Mal gives his fiancée a gentle nod of acknowledgement, pressing a soft kiss to her cheek, before turning his attention back to the others. “The reason Natara and I have asked all of you to meet us here tonight… Well, as you may have guessed from the text message I send earlier, we do indeed have some big news. As I hope that most of you remember, Natara and I have spent much of the last three weeks on vacation in Paris. Well, four nights into our vacation, I decided to do something I had been planning for almost a month before we left. I asked Nat to marry me”.
Natara smiles, eyes still sparkling. She lifts her hand slightly, revealing the ring. “As you can see… I said yes. Mal and I are engaged!”
As their friends congratulate them wholeheartedly, Mal turns to his fiancée, smiling softly at her. “Well, that’s one thing down”.
The raven-haired woman nods, grinning. “Yup. And so many more to go”.
Her hand finds his, squeezing reassuringly. “We’ll do amazing. We always do” he promises.
And she believes him. Though neither of them are exactly sure what lies ahead of them, they know that they’ll always have each other’s back. And in that moment, that’s really all that matters to them.