There was heavy knocking on Monroe’s door. He grumbled all the way down the stairs – it was too damn early for this.
“Good lord, Monroe, open the damn door!”
He yanked open the door and growled at the man standing on his porch. Nick pushed his way in as usual, except this time he practically shoved Monroe out of the way. With glowing red eyes, Monroe grabbed his friend by the arm and slammed him against the wall, snarling mere inches from his face.
“What the hell is your problem?”
“I don’t fucking know!” Nick yelled at him. “One minute I’m chasing this witch down an alley, the next I’m just so fucking angry!” He jerked out of the other man’s grip and stomped into the living room. “I came here because I figured you could help.” He was still yelling.
“Can you just bring the tone down a little?” With a shake of the head, Monroe retracted back to his human façade. He plopped down on the sofa next to Nick. “Did you drink or eat anything you shouldn’t have? Did she throw something at you? Anything out of the ordinary?”
“Are you sure?”
“Don’t you think I would know? Jesus! I need help! Fucking help me, Monroe!”
Nick was so angry and worked-up he was practically panting. His hands were balled into fists and if he clenched his jaw any harder his teeth would shatter. He started pacing the room and Monroe just sat there watching. Every so often, Nick shot an angry look towards the sofa. His nerves were about to explode; his body shook. Monroe left the room to grab a few beers and handed one to Nick when he returned.
“Why do you buy this fucking microbrew? It’s great and all, but it’s so expensive. Clocks can’t rake in that much dough.”
Monroe sighed. Patience, he thought, Nick isn’t himself. “You just said yourself that it’s great.”
“How fucking long am I gonna be like this man? I can’t go back to work like this! You need to do something!”
“You can’t go home like that either.” Monroe sighed. He doubted anything would be in Nick’s grimm books. He thought about who he could ask, but he couldn’t come up with a name.
“She’s gone, Monroe! It doesn’t matter what I go home like – there’s no one there to see me!”
Monroe sat there in shock, he hadn’t known.
“Yeah, she’s gone.” There was more disgust than anger in his voice. “She just packed her shit and left. She left me. Do you know what that feels like? I feel like shit! I chased away the only women that I ever…that’s ever loved me!” Nick hurled the bottle to the floor, shards of glass hit his legs. “You know what – good for her! She deserves better than me!”
Monroe furrowed his brow; he watched the angry tears flow down his friend’s cheeks. “I-I know what’s wrong with you.”
Nick turned his head so fast he practically gave himself whiplash. “What? You know? Tell me!”
“She – the witch – put a truth spell on you. Except…instead of just making you truthful, she made you mean. Which is weird…I don’t know why she would do it.”
“Does it fucking matter why? How do we fix it?”
“You have to let it run its course. Could be a day, could be a week.”
“Jesus Christ, Monroe! I can’t live like this! Going around yelling at people what I really think!”
Monroe walked out of the room without saying anything. He returned holding a broom and dustpan. He went to sweep up the shattered bottle, but Nick smacked the broom from his hand.
“Dude, come on.”
“No! You’re gonna stand there and listen to me! You keep saying how we’re not really friends, that we don’t know anything about each other. Well, shut up and listen! I was born in Rhinebeck, New York. My parents died in a car accident when I was twelve, which I just learned totally wasn’t an accident. My mother was a grimm and apparently had the coins of Zakynthos in her possession. Marie came and took care of me until I was 18. She pretty much disappeared after that. I was a criminal justice major. After graduating from the academy, I moved to Portland. I’ve been here since, obviously working as a cop. And to be fucking honest I’m not sure I like being a grimm!”
“You have to get something out of it.”
“Yeah, I got you.”
Monroe frowned at him, not entirely sure if that was a compliment or not.
“That was a fucking compliment man! Am I just that much of an asshole? You can’t even tell when I’m trying to be nice?”
“It’s kind of hard when you’re yelling at me!” His voice rose with the last three words.
Nick was holding his second beer, but not for long – he threw it down on the floor with his last bottle.
“Knock it the fuck off, Nick! I get it, you’re under some angry truth spell, but you don’t have to come over here and wreck my shit!”
“There we go! The big bad wolf has come out to play! Mr. Control has left the building.”
Monroe snarled at him, eyes glowing red, nails sharpened to claws. He knew this wasn’t Nick, but damn it, it was infuriating! He turned his head; right now he couldn’t bear to look at his friend. He really was starting to lose his cool – he just had the rug steam cleaned.
“What’s wrong, Monroe? You finally gonna freak out, do exactly to me what you’ve been waiting for. What a normal blutbad would do? Do it! Put me out of my fucking misery.” Nick was yelling at the top of his lungs – it was a wonder none of the neighbors had called the cops. “Please, Monroe.” He grabbed the blutbad’s hand and put it to his throat. “Do it.” His voice was low and harsh, with a hint of desperation. “Because I have nothing. My girlfriend left me. I’m in love with someone I can’t have. Not to mention, those reapers are never going to stop coming for me!” Nicks fingers were wrapped tightly around Monroe’s wrist.
Monroe looks into his friend’s eyes. He had no idea what Nick had been going through. He felt bad, really bad. “Do you want to talk about it?” He spoke softly, reclaiming his hand, human features coming back.
“I am talking – well, yelling – about it.” He leaned forward, covering his face with his hands. He stood back up, slamming his fists to the wall. “Why do you help me, man? I’m a total dick! I’m always dragging you into dangerous situations. Shit, man! You’ve almost died because of me. How can you even stand to be in the same room with me?”
“Believe it or not…” His voice was oddly calm. “…you’re my friend. That was my own dumbass fault for going out there alone. You told me not to, but I didn’t listen. Besides, I like helping – gives me something to do. If it weren’t for you, I’d be sitting in here, all alone, working the clocks. Somehow you’ve managed to become kind of an integral part of my life.”
“You know what, Monroe? Fuck you! You walk around her wearing those stupid sweaters – that actually look really good on you – and giving me advice. You’re always there for help when I need you. And here you are now, still being nice to me when I’m yelling at you, cussing like a fucking sailor!” Nick was starting to feel panicky. “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with me? Why don’t you love me back?” His voice cracked.
Nick fell to the floor, tears pouring from his eyes. His breathing was heavy from being so worked-up and yelling everything. He was exhausted. Just like that, the spell wore off. Unfortunately, that was the only thing that was gone. The tears, the feelings, the broken glass – it all still remained. He held his head in his hands and just sobbed. He rocked back and forth, shaking. Monroe sat down on the floor next to him, wrapping his arms around his slender frame and pulling him close. For a second he tried to fight it, tried to push him away, but he gave in. Nick sobbed into Monroe’s sweater, fisted his hands in it. Seeing his best friend come undone like that made Monroe lose it – tears rolled down his cheeks.
“There’s nothing wrong with you.” He spoke softly, barely audible over Nick’s sobbing. “And I do love you.”
Monroe had figured it out. Nick had run into a kupplerin – a matchmaker of sorts. They were notorious for hitting people with love spells and truth spells and making it all kinds of terrible. Case in point: yelling, swearing, crazy-man Nick Burkhardt.
Monroe just held onto Nick as tightly as he could. They sat on the floor until Nick calmed down a little. He wasn’t sobbing as much, just softly crying. Monroe stood and pulled Nick up with him. He led his friend down the hall to the bedroom. Monroe tugged off Nick’s jacket and boots. He pulled his friend to the bed and curled his body around Nick’s slender frame. Nick held on to Monroe’s hand all night, gripping harder every so often just to feel the touch.
The sun was peeking through the blinds when they woke up. Monroe was up first; he listened to the steady pace of Nick’s breaths. Nick woke up with a huff and tried to pull Monroe closer. Monroe practically blanketed his body over the other man. Nick was still shook up from the previous night; his trembling body was proof.
“M-Monroe…” Nick’s voice was soft, just a hair louder than a whisper. He turned so they were chest-to-chest.
“Hmm…?” Monroe re-laced his fingers with Nick’s.
There was a low whine in Nick’s throat.
“What’s wrong, Nick?” Monroe’s voice was heavy with worry.
He spoke softly – throat sore for the previous night’s yelling. “About last night…I’m sor–”
“Shh. Stop. You don’t have to apologize. That wasn’t you last night.”
Nick nodded, nuzzling his face on Monroe’s sweater. “Everything I said…was true.”
“I know.” He ran a hand through the other man’s dark hair, staring into his grey eyes.
“That’s not how I wanted to tell you.”
“I know.” He nodded.
“How much do you hate me right now?”
Monroe leaned forward, pressing his lips to Nick’s. He brought his hand up to cup Nick’s cheek. Nick still clung to Monroe, holding on for dear life.
“I could never hate you. Ever.” Monroe kissed him again. “I love you.”