At first, Nick thought that the breath was knocked out of him by the attacker. There was a burning inside his lungs and pain flooding his chest after Stark threw him across the room once again, leaving Nick half dazed on the floor. But none of that explained the sudden inability to breathe when he spotted Juliette coming to his rescue. Time stood still for Nick as their eyes met and for that one second he thought they were both going to die. Pain stabbed through his body and he took in a shuddering breath.
“Run... Run!” He shouted and Juliette shook off her own shock. She spun and ran, but not to the door and out of harm’s way. No, Juliette ran to the kitchen looking for a knife and Nick wanted to scream, to yell at her to just leave him and run, to save her own life. He wanted to shout, to stop Stark from following her, but there was no air in his lungs, his throat and chest clenched tight with panic. He watched in a daze as the monster bulldozed after his girl and there was nothing he could do about it.
Tears of frustration and pain leaped to his eyes, and he tried to get up, to do something, anything to stop the attack, but he could barely breathe and his limbs weren't cooperating and there was no fucking time, because Juliette was about to be ripped to shreds by a crazy monster. The world lost focus and Nick almost sobbed, but then things changed. He heard an animal howl and saw Juliette holding the now empty pan and Stark blinded by pain, clawing at his face. Nick blinked and he finally saw the gun laying only inches from his hand. Summoning all his strength, he lunged out and grabbed at the cold metal. Stark gave an angry shout and turned toward Juliette. There was no time to hesitate. Nick barely aimed, pulling the trigger and shooting wildly. The sound of the bullets was enough to change Stark's path. Already hurt and taken by surprise over discovering his victim was a Grimm, the monster leaped through the kitchen door.
Nick didn't care. Juliette was next to him, alive and unhurt. That was the only thing that mattered. Nick choked out a plea at warning his partner, and then let his head rest over Juliette's shoulder, trying to convince his heart to slow down and his lungs to start working. The danger was gone, he could breathe now. Juliette was alright.
Nick knew the dreams wouldn’t be good, though he counted on the drugs to knock him out enough to push them into the background of his consciousness. He didn't think they would be so real, and it would be so hard to wake up. While he wished for oblivion, Monroe's presence brought him out of the nightmare and he was thankful for that. His chest was already on fire from his labored breathing and he had to take a few seconds to calm down. Monroe was patient. He watched Nick struggling to compose himself. While there was concern apparent in his eyes, there was no pity. There was wonder, upon learning that Nick had survived an encounter with an ogre, and admiration when Nick relayed Juliette's role in his rescue. Nick should've been resting, but he knew Hank was in danger and there was no way he or Juliette could feel safe until the Ogre was gone. He didn't know what to do, until Monroe mentioned the Siekbarst gift and suddenly, Nick had a plan. All he needed was the gun.
It was funny how he didn't even hesitate to give the key trailer’s key to the Blutbad. Aunt Marie would've thought him crazy, and Monroe looked just as hesitant. A Grimm trusting the big bad wolf. But Nick found out pretty early that he couldn't handle the Grimm business without help and Monroe proved himself time and time again, saving Nick without hesitation. If the Blutbad could trust the Grimm, Nick thought it ought to go both ways. So he gave Monroe the key and directions, and hoped he did the right thing.
The night went by in a haze, Nick in desperate need of sleep, yet fighting it every way. The nightmares were worse each time he closed his eyes and he knew they wouldn’t stop, not until the ogre was gone and Juliette and his partner were safe. It didn't help when Hank appeared, telling Nick about his plan, leaving Nick behind, unable to stop him. The call to Monroe was a last resort, and the hour Nick spent waiting for a word from either of them was pure agony. Wondering over whether he sent the blutbad into harm’s way. Maybe he could've just called the captain and warned him about Hank's plan to do it by himself. But the choice was made and Nick had to wait.
When Nick's cell started ringing he startled, letting out a grunt as the sudden movement jarred his bruised ribs. Clenching his teeth against the pain, he fumbled the phone out from under the blankets and looked at the caller's ID. It was Monroe. Nick took the call, the hand holding the cell trembling. He didn't realize he was holding his breath until he heard Monroe say the ogre was dead and Hank was okay. Only then did he let it out in one loud sigh.
“What about you?” Nick asked and heard Monroe chuckle.
“Me? I'll live.”
“Good. Monroe?” Nick wasn't sure what to say. He wanted to know what happened, but as the relief flooded his system he was suddenly too tired to think. “Thanks man.”
“Yeah. See ya later,” Monroe said and hung up and Nick let his eyes shut close.
He thought the nightmare was over, that he could breathe freely now. Everyone was alright. Things were gonna return to normal, at least what passed for normal for a detective slash Grimm.
But things weren't back to normal, the nightmares didn't end. Nick realized it the moment he was released from the hospital and Juliette drove him home. The front window was already repaired, the new glass shining in the sun. The yellow tape screaming crime scene lay ripped on the ground beneath the window. Nick would've picked it up, but he was happy to make it to the front door without face planting on the porch, no sense in risking bending down. The tape would have to wait. Once inside he made his way to the couch as Juliette fussed over him momentarily.
The living room was clean. While there were no signs of the fight, Nick noticed the missing lamps and the chair that used to be upstairs. Never mind, things could be repaired. People were harder to fix. Juliette was trying to act normal, but Nick noticed the momentary stiffening of her shoulders when she entered the kitchen area and put on water to make tea. Her hands holding the cups started shaking and Nick saw her putting them down and leaning on the counter to try and bring herself together. He wanted to say something, to walk up to her and embrace her and tell her everything was fine, that nothing like that would happen ever again. But he couldn't, could he?
While the Ogre's attack against him didn't stem from his Grimm status but the fact he was working with Hank, it didn't mean the next creature wouldn’t come after him too. Nick could handle people, the risk of being a detective. Julia was aware of those risks too. But how could he protect her from things she didn't even see? Anyone could come up to his door, and Juliette wouldn’t know if it was a human or some beast. His aunt's words started haunting him and Nick once again found himself unable to breathe. Should he really split up with Juliette? Was he endangering her not only by being a cop but a Grimm too? Or should he tell her the truth and let her decide? He didn't want to lose her.
“Nick? You okay?” She was there, gazing at him with concern, one hand touching his face while the other held a cup of hot tea.
“Y-yeah, fine. Just tired.” Nick gave her a smile and she smiled back, though he could see the doubt in her eyes. But she didn't press, she just handed him the tea and huddled up next to him, resting her head against his shoulder. Nick swallowed and put his arm around her. He put a kiss on her head and took in the smell of her shampoo, closing his eyes. How could he tell her he was destined to hunt monsters from fairy tales?
Bringing it up with Monroe maybe wasn't the best idea. Not that Nick didn't value his input, he did. And that was the problem. The blutbad agreed with the fact he needed to tell Juliette or break up with her. He was a realist after all. Nick didn't want to hear that though. Somewhere inside he hoped Monroe would tell him to suck it up, to forget it and go on with life as if nothing happened. He wanted to hear that there wouldn’t be another ogre jumping through his front window, trying to kill his girlfriend. He wanted to hear that there wouldn’t be people coming into his house to repair his fridge, only to run away screaming with fear because he was a Grimm. Monroe couldn't tell him that though, and Nick was now scrambling up the courage to tell Juliette. If she wanted to break up with him, he could handle that. But he needed her to know the truth, so she could decide. It was the only fair thing to do.
It was also the hardest thing to do. Every time Nick made up the courage and opened his mouth, his throat just clenched and he couldn't breathe. He wondered if he was having a panic attack, because it was ridiculous how many times he tried only to stop, unable to continue. She was starting to notice too and for a while Nick stopped trying. Maybe he could convince Monroe to show up at their door and change into a big bad wolf or whatever it was normal people saw when the blutbad emerged. But Monroe did not relent and Nick didn't push, deciding it could wait, and that maybe something would change, that maybe everything would just work out. Until they caught another brutal case, which drove the point home, loud and clear.
Nick couldn't wait any longer.
Juliette needed to be told, so she could be aware of the dangers. Coming home, Nick sat Juliette down and poured both of them a glass of something strong. Juliette watched him with concern, sensing something was wrong. When he sat down and just looked at her, she gently touched his cheek.
“Nick? Honey, breathe,” she said with an encouraging smile and surprisingly, he found he could. So he took a breath and told her.