There had always been something odd about Dani's soulmate. She'd gotten so tired her mom thought she was about to pass out one time when she was little.
She got a blinding headache when the whole family was watching the news about Martin Whitley a few days later, like someone was smashing her head against a wall. Dani stayed in bed for a few days until suddenly she was alright. By her teens there were permanent marks around her wrists as if from restraints. Sometimes she thought her soulmate must be crazy if all the marks and bruises were any indication. It happened, just look at couples like the Whitly's. That was part of the reason she went into the police force. Maybe she would find them, and maybe she wouldn’t.
And then the pain started again, kicks to her side, fighting injuries. Dani began looking around. Something about the pains seemed like they were from someone in the force. They almost matched the ones she gained from training and later the ones from in the field. Gil began to get tired of her constant asking about matching injuries so she gave up.
Of course, that was right when Gil brought him in. Cocky and arrogant, Malcolm was absolutely insufferable. He practically got babied by Gil, especially if he got hurt. Dani really wasn’t a very big fan. At least not until he broke down in the station, screaming about a girl in a box. His father, Dani realized, must have had something to do with it. He clung to her, face tucked into her shoulder, as she yelled at the other officers to put their weapons down and tried her hardest to calm Malcolm down. His cries pulled at her heartstrings every single time he had another breakdown.
That’s what she had told him, right? She’d told him that just before they went into that building to chase after their killer. She lost sight of Malcolm for a second. Then she heard Gil yell something, then a shot echoed through the warehouse.
JT broke out into a dead sprint. “Shit. Gil, what happened?” The radio crackled. No response. They rounded the corner and Dani’s heart sunk. Gil was thankfully alright, standing in the middle of the aisle. Their suspect held his gun out in front of him with a finger on the trigger. Gil’s eyes flickered back behind the killer. Dani looked just as JT swore again. Just behind their killer, creeping towards him with that stupid look she knew meant he was about to do something self-sacrificial, Malcolm grinned over at them.
Malcolm had just opened his arms, probably to grab the suspect, when the man noticed the other three looking behind him and whipped around. Gil barely had time to reach for his gun before another gunshot echoed through the room. The suspect fell to the ground, already dead from the three shots in his chest.
“Oh. Huh, that can’t be good,” he murmured, looked up at Dani, and collapsed.
She started to run towards him as Gil reached him. For a moment she was convinced she had been shot, the pain starting in her chest and spreading outwards. JT looked over, then down at where her hands were pressed to her chest, then over to Malcolm and the spreading red stain in almost the same spot. They reached the same conclusion at nearly the same second.
“We’ll deal with that later,” JT muttered. Dani fell to her knees once she reached Malcolm. Her heart stopped.
He had never looked so young before, young and scared. Malcolm’s eyes were blown impossibly wide as his hands scrambled to press on his wound. She heard fabric tear, JT shoving a piece of something at her. Gil calling an ambulance in the background barely registered. She grabbed Malcolm’s hand and held them still and hoped he couldn’t see the terror on her face.
“S-Sorry, thought he couldn’t see me,” Malcolm managed to whisper out. Even bleeding out in an abandoned warehouse he was still trying to make her feel better. She didn’t know whether to hit him or kiss him. Thinking about it was better than thinking about the blood beginning to seep through to her hands.
JT pushed her over to press another piece of fabric onto the wound. “Keep him awake, Dani. Gil’s saying we’ve got a couple minutes until an ambulance gets here. You better stay awake, Bright, or I’ll bring your ass back to life just to smack you. Don’t you dare fall asleep on us. Not until you two have a fucking talk.”
“Seriously?” she hissed. JT shrugged.
Malcolm looked up at herm though it took a moment for him to focus. “Mother’ll be pissed. She wants-” He winced, glancing down at the blood. “She wanted me to have a soulmate with connections . Not like I’ll have to see her reaction.” His eyes closed, a rare smile on his face all of a sudden.
Dani shook her head as she grabbed Malcolm’s face, if only to keep him looking at her . “Don’t you dare close your eyes, Bright. I refuse to make her pick you up from the fucking morgue . You’d make Edrisa mad too. C’mon, Malcolm,” she begins to whisper, “Think of us, if that’ll keep you awake, or your sister, or your damn bird if it works. Gil’s right over there and you know you can’t do this to him. He’d never forgive himself. I’d never forgive myself.”
The wailing of the ambulance siren started in the distance. JT breathed in relief and shouted into his radio to hurry up, dammit . Malcolm forced his eyes open, raising his hand to rest it on Dani’s, and forced another smile. The two of them sat there, on the floor of a warehouse, and just watched. Every rise and fall of Malcolm’s chest was a relief. The matching pain in Dani’s chest was just now starting to come back, a dull ache. It wasn’t as bad as what he felt, she knew that. It never was. Only bad enough to tell you that your soulmate was in danger, but nothing more. They’d want to check her out at the hospital still but not before Malcolm. She wouldn’t let them lay a single goddamn finger on her until she knew he was alright. Not a second before.
“Hey,” JT broke in, smiling tiredly. “They’re here. Hang on just a bit longer, Bright. You might just survive this.”
Malcolm nodded, then winced from the pain, and shakily grabbed one of Dani’s hands to pull it over and press a kiss to it with a grin. “Been waiting to do that. Be fancy, like Mother always yelled at me to be. S’nice, anyways. Your hands are still too cold.”
Dani stared at him for a moment, then laughed. A paramedic crouched down across from her, looking over every so often like he couldn’t figure out why she was laughing in such a situation. She held onto his hands until the paramedics lifted Malcolm up onto a gurney and strapped him onto it. Gil gestured to the open ambulance door, somehow conveying in just one look to follow and exactly how much he understood. His calm acceptance took a weight off her shoulders that she hadn’t realised was even there.
JT walked up, wiping his hands on his pants. “Go with him, Dani. We’ll follow in Gil’s car. Let us know how he’s doing, okay?”
“Is someone coming with him?”
Dani nodded, gaze connecting with Malcolm’s, and jumped into the ambulance. “I am. The rest of our team is following.” She grabbed his free hand the second she sat down. Malcolm let them put an oxygen mask on, though not without a few complaints, though it took a pointed squeeze of his hand. They didn’t dare suggest that she let go of his hand. Dani didn’t give them so much as a chance to.
One of the paramedics opened the door and turned to her, looking nervous. “Detective, they’ll be taking him back the second he’s out of this ambulance. You’ll have to speak with the hospital about his condition.”
“I don’t…” She growled. “Alright, fine. Malcolm, is there anyone I should call? I’ll be here waiting for you, I promise, but I might as well let someone know what’s happened.”
He shook his head, paused, then replied, “Ainsley.”
Dani followed the gurney until it reached the doors where a doctor waited. She stopped by his side, leaned down, held Malcolm’s face, and smiled. He managed to pull the oxygen mask off, despite the effort it took.
“You better stay alive, Malcolm,” she whispered. “I’ve got my soulmate now, I’m not letting him go unless someone wants to fight me and the whole fucking team, okay?”
He raised a shaking hand to the back of her neck and tugged her down with a force that seemed like it came out of nowhere. Dani would never admit that she squeaked in surprise when Malcolm Bright kissed her after he’d been shot, but she did. It was certainly not the way she had imagined she had imagined her first kiss with her soulmate to go but she wouldn’t have traded it for the world. He kissed her with as much force as he could muster, which admittedly wasn’t much at all, and then fell back onto the gurney with a sigh and a smirk.
“Understood, detective,” he quipped before they wheeled him away. Dani stood there, hand on her lips, until he was out of sight. She stumbled to the waiting area and fell into a chair, grinning.
“Where the hell is my brother?”
Dani looked up to see a woman standing above her, tapping her foot. “Ainsley, I assume?”
Ainsley looked her up and down. “Yes,” she retorted. “And you are?”
“Detective Dani Powell,” she replied, standing and holding her hand out with a smirk. “And your brother’s soulmate, as it turns out. Wish I’d known before he got shot. That hurt like hell, can’t imagine how bad it was for him.”
“Oh.” Ainsley paused, then laughed. “Our mother won’t like this. It’s nice to meet you, Miss Powell. Have you heard anything about him?”
Dani looked through the door as if Malcolm would come trotting through it any second. “No. Not a word yet.” Ainsley seemed to deflate then with a sigh, sitting down beside her. They waited there, together, staring at the door. Gil and JT arrived not long later complaining about traffic. The four of them waited for what felt like hours.
They all sprang up the second a doctor walked up to them. “I suppose you’re all here for Mr Bright?” Dani nodded, her heart feeling like it was stuck in her throat. “I won’t bore you with the details. He’s out of surgery, came out about ten minutes ago. You can see him but he should be asleep for awhile. I don’t expect him to be back at work for quite some time, not unless he wants to aggravate the injury, but he’ll be back within a few weeks.”
Dani and Ainsley began running once the doctor finished speaking, Gil and JT racing close behind. A nurse pointed them to the right room after she jumped aside. Dani burst in and didn’t stop until she reached the bed.
Malcolm was asleep, looking more peaceful than ever. She could see the wrappings on his torso under the thin blanket. She ignored the machines beeping away. They told her he was alive, she wanted nothing else to do with them.
“You idiot,” Ainsley murmured fondly. “You have to stop getting yourself into situations like this, Mal. Maybe we can spend some time together one day where you aren’t hurt.”
Gil chuckled and Dani smiled. She moved to sit in the chair beside his bed, resting her hand on his, and sighed. “Get some sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up, okay? I’ll always be here to save your ass from whatever shit you get into next time, and every time after that. You’ll need us to pick up the pieces anyways, but I’ll be here.”