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This, Now

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Nick lay very still, eyes closed, his senses straining. He wasn't sure what had woken him. It was quiet in the house, no voices or movements that he could discern. Stretching slowly under his blanket, he winced as sharp pain stabbed through the healing wound in his calf. The rest of his injuries were doing better, bruises and scrapes at most, but that one had gone deep, the Schnabelfrau's long, pointed beak stabbing into his flesh. It had been her last effort at resistance after he'd knocked her down, which was why it had only hit his leg.

There: a minuscule movement now, outside in the kitchen/living space, like a person shifting on a chair. No one but a Grimm - or a Wesen with similarly acute senses - could have made it out. Was someone waiting for him? A friend? An ambush? Even without a current crisis, it wasn't as if Nick hadn't accumulated enough enemies over the years, so that was always a possibility.

Well, if so, whoever it was had underestimated him drastically.

As silently as he could, Nick pushed the blanket aside and crept out of bed, wincing as he put weight on his right leg. His muscles obeyed him, if not without complaint.

Nick briefly considered, then dismissed the window. Whoever was waiting wasn't an assassin, or they wouldn't have stopped outside the bedroom; escape wasn't a priority. Instead, he moved toward the door on bare feet, taking care not to stumble over his clothes. He'd just dropped them to the floor the night before, too exhausted to care.

The bedroom door wasn't fully closed, which made things easier. Nothing visible through the crack. Nick's hand closed around the handle of the double-sided axe he'd left propped against the wall.

A quick push, a few steps into the room, the axe ready -

The man sitting in shirtsleeves at the kitchen table lifted his head from one of Nick's Grimm diaries, which lay open before him. Sean Renard.

"You," Nick said flatly, letting the axe sink.

Renard's eyes were cool, his expression distant as he scrutinized Nick, took in his t-shirt, his boxers, the bandage on his leg. "I got a phone call."

Nick made a face and came up to the table, leaning the axe handle against the edge. "Rosalee." Rosalee, who'd patched up his injuries the night before. He sank into a chair, unsuccessfully suppressing a wince.

Renard took him in with hooded eyes, then nodded. "Rosalee, yes. She was rather concerned."

Nice of her. Nice of all of them, Nick thought petulantly. He didn't need a minder. "It's just a flesh wound."

A brief smile quirked the corner of Renard's mouth. "So Rosalee said. You were lucky; Schnabelfrauen are dangerous when disturbed during their dormancy."

That was what Rosalee's books had told him, yes. Schnabelfrauen went into dormancy during the early stages of their pregnancies, and reacted badly if woken. Nick's Grimm diaries had only described them as mindlessly violent - it seemed his ancestors had never encountered one of them outside such a situation, or hadn't bothered to record it if they had. This one had been accidentally stirred up and had been wandering around since, disoriented and aggressive. It had taken Nick some time to chase her down.

He'd probably have killed her if he'd been going solely on Grimm information. The habitual discomfort with the knowledge sat at the back of his mind, a constant irritant he could do nothing about.

"I knocked her out, put her back in her nest and fixed the fence," Nick said. For some reason, his shoulders wanted to hunch under Renard's regard. He refused. "She probably won't even remember."

"Very likely not," Renard agreed, his intent gaze not straying from Nick for a moment.

Nick sighed. "I don't need a babysitter." But he couldn't seem to make himself look away either.

Renard's eyebrows drew together briefly. "Is that why you think I'm here." It wasn't a question, not really; his voice was low, like a breath exhaled in frustration.

The air between them seemed to be humming with tension all of a sudden, vibrating against Nick' skin, echoing in his bones. Nick's throat went tight. He swallowed, a hand clenching around the edge of his chair.

Not just yet, he thought helplessly. He wasn't ready. They'd been gearing up to this for months now. Years. Perhaps since that first conversation all the way back after Juliette had left, still recovering from her curse-induced amnesia.

Nick wanted to get up and pace. He didn't. He breathed in, out. "I know why you're here."

Renard nodded, his expression taking on a calculating cast, emotions locked down tight. "Would you rather I left?"

Well, not now, not with this at stake. Not when what Renard was pushing, asking for was a decision rather than a postponement.

Why now? Nick wanted to ask, desperately. He didn't. It was time, wasn't it? High time.

Everything had narrowed down to this, the connection between them, the moment they had been approaching and avoiding for so long. Culmination. Consummation. Nick felt himself flush, heat prickling over his cheeks, his ears.

He swallowed again. "No," he managed, hoarsely. "Don't leave."

Renard nodded again, the decision acknowledged, accepted. He didn't move, didn't speak, merely kept looking at Nick with that intent gaze that made him shiver. God, Renard -

He caught himself. Renard? That was a bit silly, wasn't it? Especially now, with this.

Nick had thought of him as Renard for so long, and their closeness had crept up on them so gradually, there had never seemed to be a big enough shift in their relationship, no moment when it would have felt natural to make the transition. But they were past time now, weren't they?

"Sean," Nick said quietly, trying it out. It sounded right, felt right. Yes. Now.

Opposite him, Renard - Sean - stilled for a moment. Then he breathed out a sigh, the corners of his lips curling up, the skin around his eyes crinkling. It was a good look on him.

"Nick," he returned, almost gravely.

For a long moment they simply sat suspended, looking at each other. Awareness coursed through Nick's body. This is happening. This is happening now.

"You should go back to bed," Sean said suddenly.

Nick bristled. "I'm fine."

Green eyes swept him up and down. "I can see that. Nevertheless."

Nick fought down a visible a double-take. The flush on his face heated up, like stepping too close to a fire. It crept down his neck and onto his chest, tingling over his skin. Gooseflesh grew on his arms. His mouth turned dry. "Maybe I should."

Sean flashed him a quick smirk that made something in Nick's gut twist with pleasure, with need. Not for the first time, either - but for the first time promising fulfillment. It wasn't stopping here, not today. They were going through with it, today.

Nick stood abruptly, the chair legs grating loudly on the floor. He ignored the stab of pain in his calf; it seemed very distant now, very unimportant. Sean's smirk widened into a grin as he - slowly, deliberately, the bastard - pushed his own chair back and rose.

"Yeah, yeah," Nick muttered, trying to sound grumpy and failing. His mouth insisted on grinning in return.

Sean stepped around the table, and Nick met him half-way until they stood chest to chest, Nick's head tilted up and Sean's down, their faces inches from each other. Nick's flush seemed to be pulsing waves of heat from his skin. Sean's eyes burned into Nick's, his lips parted as if ready to devour him.

God, yes.

Nick wasn't sure who moved first - perhaps both - but it was like a string being cut, like falling, tumbling into something inevitable. Mouth crushed against mouth, lips and teeth and tongues plundering, ravaging, desperately taking as much as they could, trying to have everything at once, and Nick's hips surged forward in inescapable need. Sean groaned into his mouth, and then his hands were on Nick's ass, pulling him in, pressing them closer as they thrust against each other.

When they came apart, gasping for air, only minutes could have passed, but the world had shifted. This, now: it had happened; they'd stepped over the line; there was only forward now.

Forward, which was exactly where Nick wanted to go.

They stumbled into the bedroom, and Nick spared a brief thought for the mess on the floor, but couldn't bring himself to care. Neither, apparently, could Sean. He didn't even seem to notice, all his focus narrowed down on Nick. That was heady, all the more so because it was mutual.

"Lie down," Sean murmured.

Nick did; Sean remained standing, looking down at him. "Come on," Nick urged, impatiently.

"Mm." Sean sat down at the foot of the bed. Large hands lifted Nick's leg, swept over his calf, brushing over the skin around the bandage, then massaging the undamaged muscles. The ache of it - part of it pain, yes, but mingling with something else, with oversensitized skin and an inescapable awareness - went straight to Nick's crotch. His balls tightened, and his cock strained up inside his boxers. His hips surged off the mattress as Nick let his eyes fall shut and his head twist on the pillows, groaning.

Sean chuckled, lowering Nick's leg back onto the sheets. The mattress shifted as he moved up from the bottom of the bed, leaning over Nick. His hands pushed under Nick's t-shirt, and Nick let him pull it off. Sean's long fingers traced the bruises on Nick's right shoulder and chest, the healing beak scrape on his upper arm. Nick had torn the bandage off of that in the middle of the night; he hadn't needed it any more by then.

"Stop that," Nick complained, closing his hands over Sean's shoulders, pulling him down on top of him. They moaned together as their bodies aligned.

But Sean was still fully clothed, damn it, though he'd apparently kicked off his shoes somewhere in between.

"Take that off," Nick demanded, tugging at the back of Sean's shirt but holding him close with his other arm, not letting go.

"Mm." Sean's mouth closed over Nick's neck where it met his unbruised shoulder, half sucking, half biting. Nick hissed in pleasure, and their hips rocked together again, cock against cock through too many layers of fabric. He hooked his uninjured leg over Sean's hip, pressing them closer together.

God, yes. This.

Sean lifted himself up a little, bracing himself on his forearms above Nick, looking down at him, eyes dark with intent and need. He thrust down once, twice, and then he was rutting against him in earnest, determined and fierce and relentless.

Nick lost himself in the rhythm, his breath catching in his throat, coming in stuttering gasps, until -

Above him, Nick felt Sean's body seize and still with the force of his orgasm, then collapse on top of him, his mouth closing over the hickey he'd sucked earlier. He bit down on Nick's neck as aftershocks shivered through him - not hard enough to draw blood, but in this moment, Nick wouldn't have cared. A strangled groan broke free from Nick's throat, and his hips surged up against Sean's one last time as he found his own release.


They didn't move for the longest time. The weight of Sean's body on top of his, pushing him into the mattress, was a comfort and a thrill Nick wasn't willing to give up just yet. Sean must have felt the same way. The wet stickiness in Nick's boxers grew colder, and drier, and itchier, and still he couldn't bring himself to move.

Why didn't we do this earlier? The thought flitted through Nick's mind and was dismissed immediately. No; it was this, now, not any other time - just the right moment. With everything that had happened between them, everything that had stood between them at the start, quicker would not have been better. Nick couldn't bring himself to regret a single day of the long slow slide into this, into now.

"Let's do that again without the clothes," Nick said eventually.

Sean huffed a laugh into his shoulder. "Mm," he agreed, wordlessly, but didn't move.

On second thought ...

Nick wrapped his arm more firmly around Sean's back. "Later," he murmured, and let himself sink back into now.


It wasn't until the evening, eating a light dinner Nick had let Sean fix for them, when Nick saw the Grimm diary still lying open on the table, that he thought to take a look at what Sean had been reading in the morning.

It was, of course, the entry on the Wesen Nick had fought the night before, archaic handwriting under an eerie drawing of a Schnabelfrau with her long, sharp beak and her hollow, bony eyesockets, wisps of tattered feathers on her head. Under the additions Nick himself had made, recording the information he'd gotten from Rosalee, another modern hand had added a line at the bottom.

Sean's hand, of course. He'd written, "Do not engage alone."