They called it Burn on the streets. It sold like crazy and it killed people faster than any drug when taken at the wrong dosage. One gram was already fatal in a healthy adult. What it did to other drug-addicts who were trying a new high was kill them.
What it did to a homicide detective who had been investigating a murder committed by Burn was put him in the hospital, on a respirator, fighting for his life.
Eddie Monroe wasn’t a fan of hospitals, but he had been to them before without throwing up at the intense smells of blood, human waste and death. He had spent some hours watching a deadly Grimm and then actually getting into trouble. Why he hadn’t left back then, let the assassins kill Marie Kessler, was still beyond him.
Liar, liar, liar!
Those eyes had done him in. Huge, gray, innocent, with a core of steel that shone through when the Grimm came forth. Well, not just the Grimm; the cop as well. Nick Burckhardt was more than met the eyes, and while he was still fresh to the job, he was good. Damn good.
And then there had been the words. “I trust you.”
Who said that to a blutbad?! Who in his right mind trusted a violent creature like the beast he truly was?!
Answer: Nick Burckhardt. Fresh Grimm of Portland.
Eddie had been too stunned by the words to tell him that he shouldn’t trust him to his face. He had stayed like a good boy and defended Aunt Marie.
And now he sat next to the unconscious man in a hospital, waiting.
Holding Nick’s hand and waiting.
Monroe hadn’t even been aware that he had taken the lax hand until much later when a nurse had walked in. It had been almost embarrassing.
Now he was still here, still holding Nick’s hand. His thumb caressed over the soft skin. Pale skin. Dry. Limp. Eddie let his gaze rest on the hand, ran a finger over the slender digits, feeling the easy to break bones underneath. As a predator he could assess just how much it would take to inflict damage. A blutbad was a lot stronger than a human and it would be so very easy.
Not that he ever would.
He interlaced their fingers, curling his own to hold the unresponsive hand.
Nick had been caught off guard by the suspect and the man had doused him liberally in Burn. While his partner had been there to tear the stained clothes off, dump water on the drugged Grimm, he hadn’t been able to prevent the dangerous substance from getting into Nick’s system.
It had been pure luck that he had survived. He shouldn’t have, Eddie knew. The dosage had been very high.
Maybe it was a Grimm thing.
He kept his thumb moving over the skin, enjoying the feeling, the softness, and he lingered on the inside of the wrist. Soft. Wonderfully soft. He wanted to taste the skin, wanted to taste Nick, wanted it so badly it was scary.
It was also something he had suppressed for a while now. Nick was a friend; and he was a Grimm, which was scary as hell sometimes. He had grown into this and he was learning fast.
Monroe looked up from his study of the hand, aware he was being watched. It was the night nurse.
Her eyes were wide, almost shocked, and when he looked at her he realized what she was.
His brows lowered, a clear warning in his eyes. Elfen weren’t what the storybooks had made of them. Humans called them elves or fairies, made them such noble or playful creatures, but like humans there were the good, the bad and the really ugly. Eddie had heard stories of the encounters, of humans mauled and killed by elfin, about those feeding off human blood and bones. Not that blutbaden were any better; elfin just didn’t have the vicious beast inside them. For some it was pure fun. Sick, sick fun.
“Blutbad,” she whispered, sounding scared.
Okay, not an ugly one. Probably not a bad one either. Elfen rarely worked with humans and if they did, they were the good ones who had caretaker jobs. The darker ones wouldn’t be able to keep themselves under control. Like the night nurse.
The elfin still stared at him and Eddie kept looking back.
No one said a word.
“Why are you here?” she finally asked, her voice soft.
“He is my friend.”
“He’s a Grimm.”
Eddie almost laughed. “I know.”
“You’re… friends? With a Grimm?”
“Yes.” Make something of it! he challenged her silently.
She still remained where she was. Her eyes fell on their joined hands. Monroe felt the wolf growl, but he refused to give in to his true nature. The nurse moved carefully closer, radiating wariness, maybe even fear.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” Eddie told her. “I’m a wieder-blutbad.”
She didn’t relax.
“And he is my friend.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
He shrugged, never ceasing his caress.
She checked the machines, made quick notes, then hung up a new IV.
“Is he going to be okay?” Monroe asked.
She was silent, then finally nodded.
“Did you help him?”
“If you did, thank you.”
Her façade shifted, showing her true self more than what Eddie had been able to see. Her features appeared more fragile, the hair no longer like hair, and her skin color was more brownish.
“You care about him,” the elfin said.
Her dark gaze rested on their joined hands. Finally she stepped back to the bed and placed a hand on Nick’s chest. Eddie tensed for a moment, then blinked as he saw the tinkle of what humans called fairy dust. It was far from any kind of dust, it didn’t make you fly like Peter Pan, but it was produced by the elfen kind.
“He will be okay,” she simply said.
Eddie nodded. “Thanks,” he said quietly. “Really. I mean it.”
“I know. Take care of him.”
And then she left.
Eddie remained behind, holding the lax hand, looking into the pale face of the unconscious Grimm.
He didn’t leave until the very early morning hours when the elfin came back and told him the doctors would come by in half an hour. It would be best if he was gone by then.
Nick recovered quickly, much to everyone’s surprise, and it was attested to his youth, health, and the fact that Hank had washed off the Burn as much as possible.
He was released two days later and Eddie lingered around the house, waiting for Griffin to leave, for everyone to just go away. Even then, when Nick was alone, he just stared at the large house; hesitating.
When he finally knocked, he didn’t expect Nick to actually open and smile at him with such openness and welcome, it took his breath away.
“Hey. Come on in.”
And he did, carefully taking a scent. The Grimm smelled of hospital and antiseptic. He looked at the other, seeing nothing wrong, smelling only the foreign scent that wasn’t Nick Burckhardt, and maybe it was the relief shining through or whatever else Nick saw, but the expression changed it was… intense.
“Beer?” the Grimm offered.
Eddie took it gratefully, noting how Nick stuck to bottled water.
“You could have come in sooner,” he said, sounding almost casual. “Hank doesn’t bite.”
“Maybe I do,” Monroe muttered.
Nick smiled. “No more than usual.”
He quickly took a swallow from the beer.
“How would you have explained a former suspect in a murder visiting the cop who accused him of kidnapping a girl?”
Nick shrugged. “The truth.”
The blutbad nearly choked and Nick chuckled.
“Mostly the truth anyway. We became friends after I apologized for suspecting you?”
“Still waiting for the gift basket.”
The grin was almost too much. Eddie knew he was vulnerable right now, the near-loss still a shock to his system. He had thought the infatuation with Nick Burckhardt would remain just that: an unhealthy crush. But since that incident the wolf in him was pining even more.
Nick looked at him, like he was waiting for something only he knew what it was, then he put down the bottle and closed the distance.
The smile was calm, gentle, soft… so knowing!
Nick pushed the bottle out of the way and pressed a small kiss against his suddenly so dry lips. His whole mouth was dry. He felt close to a panic attack. But he didn’t push the Grimm away.
Instead the inner wolf wagged its tail so hard, Eddie nearly gave in completely. He slid an arm around the other man’s waist, holding him, feeling the wonderful hardness of muscles and sinews and coiled strength.
He opened his lips.
It was, for a first true kiss, not bad.
Elfen is the German word for elves.
Elfin is used for a female; Elf is male.