If it wasn’t so worrying, mortifying, tiring, difficult, at times annoying and even angering every now and then, Nick might have found a convalescing Sean endearing.
It was one thing when it was the nurses taking care of him and Nick was only allowed in during visiting hours; afterwards, he’d been allowed constant company, but a mix of antibiotics and painkillers kept him under a kind of contented fog. The first couple of days back at the fancy apartment went smoothly, with Nick mother-henning the captain, and the captain soaking up the attention like a needy sponge.
But that was where the cute ended and reality started. Sean was used to being a big, strong, independent and healthy royal half-zauberbiest. Which meant that he made a terrible patient: he would stubbornly try to do things by himself, failing and worsening his injuries in the process. Failure only meant his ego got bruises similar to those sustained by his body, which translated into general grumpiness, colored here and there by bouts of downright nasty mood.
“Are you seriously gonna make me beg you to take your meds, like a five year old?” Nick demanded, with more bite than he’d intended.
“It doesn’t matter if you beg or not, Nick. I’m not taking the second pill.”
“It’s pain medication. It’s meant to help manage the pain, which means it’s useless if you don’t take a full dose and don’t let it do its job.”
“I need to focus. The drugs make it impossible to concentrate.”
“What do you need to focus on? Sean, in case you haven’t heard, you’re off on medical leave until further notice,” and he couldn’t help the sarcasm in his words.
Sean gave him a look that could’ve curdled the freshest milk.
“There’s more going on in the world than the criminal activity in this tiny city,” Sean said. Then added, “in case you haven’t ever heard about the world outside this country.”
It was the tone, more than the words, which made Nick decide enough was enough.
“You know what? Screw you, Renard. Do whatever the hell your royal highness bastard prince of whatever the fuck wants,” with that, he turned around, ignored Sean calling after him, and exited the fancy building without so much as looking back.
He had barely reached the underground parking lot when he started regretting the dramatic exit, but if there was something he and Sean were matched on, it was their stubbornness. So he inhaled deeply, shook himself, and climbed on his car.
He headed for the trailer, because it was the farthest place he could think of where he actually had a reason to go. Once there, he picked up one of the ancient tomes and started leafing through it, but he couldn’t focus enough to actually read it. Sean could be very irritating… but a part of his mind reminded him of all the times Juliette had said the same thing about him, jokingly telling him that men were all wussies who seemed to be dying when they even caught a cold. She had never walked out on him while he was feeling less than well, even if he was needy and grumpy and a general pain in the butt. She had lightly slapped him, called him a big baby, rolled her eyes at him… but she’d never walked out on him. Hell, she’d been there the whole time, making sure he took his meds on time, cooking chicken soup for him, trying to cheer him up with small silly jokes… and those times, he hadn’t gotten himself injured or sick protecting her.
Suddenly, he felt like a cockroach. What if Sean was being a bit of a dick about things? It couldn’t be easy for someone like him to resign himself to just lie there as an extra-large pillow while his flesh knitted back together. The flesh he’d gotten ripped open while protecting Nick, no less. And he’d repaid him by storming off, confirming once more to him that he couldn’t depend on anyone even when he was injured and hurting… as if life hadn’t done the exact same thing to him a hundred times via a family that hated his guts, traitors, and a loving but less than warm mother.
The Grimm wanted to kick himself. But seeing as that was a physical impossibility and unpractical even if he could manage it, Nick got his butt off the cot, shrugged on his jacket, and mentally traced a plan.
Less than two hours later, he was back at Sean’s building, trying not to feel too much like his metaphorical tail was between his legs as he used his key to get inside. At least he hadn’t been terrible enough to leave the door unlocked on his way out.
He left a few bags on the kitchen table and went into the bedroom carrying just the paper bag.
“Sean?” he called softly as he stepped into the bedroom.
The zauberbiest was lying face down, diagonally across the huge bed, with the covers all rumpled and the pillows under his body and his head, in a way that suggested he’d spent a considerable while trying to make himself comfortable. Or as comfortable as was possible with the skin scrapped off a quarter of his ample back and a few slashed muscles. Yaguarete were mean, dangerous wesen.
The prince didn’t turn his head towards the Grimm, or even moved to acknowledge his presence, but he took a deep breath, enough to let him know he knew he was there.
“Sean…” he started, sitting on the edge of the bed, close enough to touch, but not doing so. “I’m sorry about earlier.”
Another deep breath and, a few long seconds later, a non-committal sound that could mean anything.
“I shouldn’t have snapped at you like I did…” he looked at his hands, marveling at how his pride wasn’t protesting the whole thing. Maybe it was learning not to be too stupid all the time. “Especially since it was my fault you got hurt in the first place.”
Sean still didn’t turn towards him, or even say a word, but he reached a hand in Nick’s general direction. The Grimm took it.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated, giving the offered hand a light squeeze to emphasize his words. “I went to the spice shop. I brought this… thing,” he said, unable to find a better word, “that Rosalee says helps to heal wounds faster. Especially big wounds. And that it should work wonders on you, because of you being a zauberbiest. I also brought the mixed white jasmine, chrysanthemum, green tea… and-other-things tea that Rosalee says you like,” and hadn’t that been like salt over a wound, finding that Rosalee seemed to know some things about Sean better than he did? “And I stopped by that Japanese place downtown, brought some karaage, curry rice and… those vegetables that no one can pronounce unless they’re Japanese.”
“You don’t have to apologize so much,” Sean finally said, and the simple sound of his voice told Nick he had finally given up and taken the pills.
“I think I do. You must be regretting following me the other night when…”
“No,” he made a long pause, fingers stroking a slow, random path on the side of Nick’s hand. “Maybe it’s not… ideal. But I don’t regret it.”
“You must be the only one, because I do,” encouraged by the contact and the conversation, sluggish as it was, Nick leaned closer to caress Sean’s uninjured shoulder.
“You’re alright. It was worth it,” the Prince said.
Nick smiled, though it turned out more like a grimace.
“Then I’m sorry for leaving you earlier.”
“You’re back,” Sean countered.
“I am,” he caressed Sean’s strong arm, wondering if the warmth of his body was only due to him lying in bed for so long, or if the temperature was high enough to be considered a fever, even if a light one, considering Sean’s body sometimes ran warmer than the average human due to his wesen blood. He was about to ask him if he felt other fever symptoms, but he was interrupted by the zauberbiest.
“I love you, Nick.”
The Grimm froze. He knew that as a fact, because even if Sean had never put it into words before, he’d amply demonstrated it in many ways. The latest one being his almost getting killed by yaguarete drug dealers after Nick’s hot-bloodedness had landed him in the world’s most obvious trap.
“I know,” he said, because he liked that Han Solo quote a bit too much… and because he wanted to reassure his lover that he understood him, even if sometimes it didn’t seem like it. “I love you, too.”
Sean inhaled deeply again, and Nick couldn’t help but think on how much Sean hated the sluggishness that came with the strong pain medication. But he’d rather see him lethargic than in pain.
“I’ll say it again later, without so many drugs in me, so you’ll believe me.”
“I believe you,” the Grimm said, caressing his shoulder and his neck. “Why don’t you let me put this thing Rosalee gave me on you?”
It took a few seconds, but Sean let out an assenting noise.
Nick almost flipped when Sean rose on the bed, pulling his legs beneath him and making an obvious effort not to jostle his wounded shoulder as he did so. Green-golden, slightly unfocused eyes fixed on Nick’s blue ones.
“I love you,” he repeated.
“I love you, too,” Nick answered again, leaning forward to kiss his lips. He didn’t like that they felt rather dry, and promised to himself that he’d take care of that later. “So… Rosalee’s medicine?” he suggested, showing him the small jar containing the grayish purple thing.
“Yeah,” Sean said, sounding tired, and then all but crawled onto Nick’s lap, resting his head and upper torso on the Grimm’s thighs, face pressed up to Nick’s hip bone and right arm around his body.
There was nothing sexual about it, and the circumstances were less than happy, with Sean injured like that, but Nick liked the close contact anyway. If everything felt warmer than usual as Sean’s words resounded in his ears, no one could blame him.
Nick opened the jar, sniffed the sweet, herbal scent of the paste, and proceeded to apply it carefully to Sean’s wound after removing the dressing.
“I love you, Sean,” he said, just because.
“I love you, too, Nick,” and later, the prince would marvel at how easy it was to say it again, knowing exactly where he stood with his lover.