Nick had been raised by Marie Kessler, once he’d slipped her name into a conversation with a Wesen that wasn’t Elly just to see if they were all aware of his aunt, the man – a Lausenschlange – had lost control of his human face and ended up hissing at Nick before running away more like the Mauzhertz he hunted than the snake he shared features with.
Nick’s own mother, who for the most part is now just a collection of flashes from his childhood without any of the little things that made his memories of Marie more clear, had been tough, he could remember that she was the one who would come in a check under his bed when he told her he was scared of the frankly terrifying shadows that had been cast by the old tree outside their house. Looking back he wondered if maybe there had been more to it than just shadows but that didn’t change the fact he had known his mum was tough, knew she had been even tougher now. She’d been a Grimm, she’d been the guardian of some frankly terrifying coins and she’d died way too young.
Then there was Marie, he’d never known what she could do but he’d always known she was strong. He remembered when he’d been in high school and another kid freaked out when he’d seen Marie picking him up one day. The kid had just lost it and it had always seemed really strange but he got it now, he saw it all the time in Wesen who didn’t know that he wasn’t going to kill them as soon as look at them.
More than just people showing Marie respect he had always known she was physically tough, he’d thought she was a private investigator and it was never that strange when she’d have bruises and cuts. He’d learned basic first aid patching her up and it never seemed at all odd that she was wounded on a semi regular basis it was just a part of who she was. He’d seen her come home limping on an ankle that later turned out to be broken and he’d seen her get into a fight once with a ‘skip’ who it now turned out was just a Wesen that crossed her path. She’d been amazing in the fight, the guy who had easily been twice her size was no match for her speed or the way she used his body against him, Nick had thought about going in a helping her but before he’d even had a chance to make a decision she’d taken the guy out, unconscious and cuffed to a staircase. They’d left and now Nick was fairly certain she’d gone back later and killed the creature but at the time he’d just been in awe of his aunt who had already been small enough to tuck under his arm comfortably but who was capable of being so much more.
So basically Nick knew better than any of the guys he’d ever known that woman were more than capable of being tough and could take care of themselves. He knew that you didn’t step in unless they asked. But that all flew out the window with a Blutbad who was taller than him and could probably slice him open with ease if she wanted to. Nick constantly felt like he should be protecting her, he wondered sometimes if it was because he was the reason that she was so often in danger or if it was just her. He’d wanted to protect Juliette but it was never the same, he’d wanted to protect her from the cop things that made it hard to sleep some nights and he’d wanted to protect her from the creatures that were able to do things she wouldn’t understand. When she’d been kidnapped he’d wanted to get her out and keep her safe but it was different to the way he wanted to protect Elly because he would still send Monroe into places he knows are dangerous but only when he can back her up.
Elly Monroe was probably the last woman, behind his aunt, who he’d even be able to protect or who would ever need him to. She was taller than him, almost a head, she had broad shoulders, strong legs and arms which she hid behind jeans, plain t-shirts and singlets and a wide assortment of sweaters and checkered shirts but she was soft everywhere. Juliette and his aunt had always been firm no excess fat anywhere but Elly was soft, something he’d noticed that first day when she’d tackled him. It was deceptive someone might look at her and not realise that she was fit, could run for miles and fight like she wanted to rip someone’s throat out…which Nick knew she sometimes did think about even if she was a reformed Blutbad…but there was something about her that could encourage people to think about snuggling down with her soft and warm under a blanket, not that Nick had ever thought about her like that. Honestly Elly looked like good farm bred women everywhere who knew how to do hard work and had probably had older brothers she’d needed to fight for her right to date who she wanted and do what she wanted to do. Maybe if Nick didn’t know she was a Blutbad who used to hunt and kill animals, and possibly other creatures or humans but Nick didn’t want to ask the question because he wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer, he wouldn’t think anything beyond that. But Nick did know, he knew she was fierce and strong, he knew she didn’t need him to worry about her or look after her and yet none of that changed the fact he did worry even when he was sending her off to do things that could be dangerous. The constant voice in the back of his mind that worried about Monroe was nothing to the fear singing through his veins now.
Elly was laying on the grass which was stained red around her body, she was having trouble breathing and Nick couldn’t do a thing, he’d called for backup, he’d already thought of a cover story but he couldn’t do anything about the fact she was getting paler, the fact she hadn’t opened her eyes in a three long minutes and that her breathing had started to rattle. Nick knew this was bad, had unfortunately seen too much death in his life to think this was going anywhere good. The Jägerbar who’d attacked them was dead, shot through the forehead by Nick but not fast enough, the woman had been hunting in this park for a week, had killed three joggers in that time and this was nothing to do with an ancient ritual she had just discovered that she loved the taste of fresh blood and Elly might be her fourth victim.
Nick heard the sirens and he pressed down harder on his shirt against her ribs and his jumper against her hip but there was still bleeding from her arm and leg and a steady trickle from her hairline matting her long brown curls to her head. The ambulance officers pulled at his shoulders but Nick couldn’t let go; finally someone grabbed his shoulders so roughly he was yanked back away from Elly, he was about to turn and punch when he saw the arm holding him across the chest, it could only be Hank. Nick stopped and relaxed. Hank finally let him go and he stood and watched the ambulance officers work; they checked her wounds and attached a couple of IVs before loading her onto a gurney and heading for the ambulance. Hank had held him in place when he tried to follow and Nick had turned to him eyebrows raised.
“Nick, there is a dead woman over there we have to sort out.”
Nick followed the tilt of Hank’s head and nodded he was right that was his duty as a police officer to stay and sort out the crime that had just been solved and the life he had just taken but he didn’t care about any of that because he needed to be in the ambulance and he needed to be with Elly because even if Juliette had been wrong months ago when she dumped him the fact was Elly was his best friend, the only person in his entire life who knew everything there was to know about him and spent time with him anyway and her life was in danger.
“I need to go with Monroe.”
“You know you need to stay here Nick, you cannot do anything at the hospital she’s going to be in surgery for a while,” Hank said as the doors slammed shut on the ambulance and the sirens blared as it drove away.
“Fine,” Nick turned back to the woman lying on the other side of the clearing and stepped over, Wu was already there but no one was touching the body until the forensics people arrived. “I shot her.”
“Okay,” Wu said. “I’ll call the captain.”
Hank looked at the body, her mouth was red with blood as were her fingers with her human nails long and sharpened to points which really were nowhere near as terrifying as the claws she’d had out when she was trying to slice Elly open. Hank turned back to Nick and it seemed to be the first time the other man noticed that Nick was covered in blood, his chest was red with it, his shirt and jumper were still lying on the grass in the middle of Elly’s blood and his jeans were caked with it as well.
“Are you injured?” Hank asked. “I thought it was all her blood but are you injured?”
Nick stopped for a second to look down at his body and think about it, he knew the Jägerbar had attacked him for a while but she’d only been killing women and had spent more time worried about Elly than Nick. “I hit my head at one point…actually I think it was slammed into a tree but I’m not sure if any of this is my blood.”
“The captain’s on his way,” Wu said coming back and standing with them as his partner started taping off the clearing.
“Do we need to take you to the hospital?” Hank asked.
Nick wanted desperately to say yes but he knew he wouldn’t be allowed to see Elly and he’d have to wait for a doctor and that would be even more annoying than being here and sorting this mess out. “No, I’ll go when we have sorted this out, worst it will be is a concussion, I don’t think I have any bad injuries.”
A short while later, long enough that Nick was sure Monroe was in surgery the captain arrived moments after forensics. “Detective, what is going on?”
“I shot the woman who has been killing joggers,” Nick said stretching his arms out for one of the forensics team to start collecting evidence from his body while another worked on the Jägerbar’s body and another bagged his clothes and worked on the area where Elly had been bleeding out.
“Why were you in the park Nick?” Renard asked watching everything that was going on around the clearing.
“A girl down the street couldn’t find her cat,” Nick said. The truth was Elly had got the scent of Jägerbar off some evidence from one of the scenes Nick had brought by, the bear only killed women, so they decided to go for a run see if they could get lucky. “I told her not to go looking for him in the park because of the murders; she was really worried since he’s just a kitten so I went out, my friend Elly wouldn’t let me go alone so we came over to see if we could find the kitten and the woman attacked us.” Truthfully Monroe had caught the scent of Jägerbar, the same one and they’d followed it, tracking her down, she’d been waiting for them; at some point they must have been up wind and she knew a Grimm and a Blutbad were following her, she was half turned when they came to the clearing. “She knocked me out and when I was coming to she and Elly were fighting,” both had been half transformed their human faces hidden and they’d been tossing each other around like they were on the WWE but the woman, Nick didn’t even know her name, had been clawing at Elly, ripping into her and Elly had already been bleeding so much. “I warned her, she wouldn’t stop so I fired my weapon and hit her in the leg. She came at me, I don’t even know how she was able to walk with the wound let alone advance on me like that,” the first part was true but Nick knew exactly how that woman had managed to advance on him and why he’d had to fire again - one bullet right in the middle of her forehead. “I asked her to stop again but she didn’t and I shot at her she went down then,” Nick had aimed carefully but he was okay with making it sound like he hadn’t, the fight had gone on too long and he’d been able to see Elly off to the side of his vision still and covered in blood.
“I’ll need the rest of your clothes,” the forensics officer in front of him said. “But other than that I’m done with you.”
“Thanks,” Nick said.
“We’ll get them when he goes to the hospital,” Hank said to her and she nodded and walked away carrying all sorts of evidence in her little bags along with his revolver.
“You are very lucky detective,” the captain said looking over at the woman.
“Not really,” Nick said. “Elly’s badly injured.”
“Yes,” Renard said. “Lucky she is a good fighter then isn’t it.”
Nick nodded. “I don’t know her name. I don’t remember her saying anything.”
The captain nodded. “Hank, get him to the hospital and get the clothing. Come by the station tomorrow if you are out of the hospital Nick but you have the rest of the week off.”
“Yes captain,” both men said in unison before walking off leaving the captain to handle the case at least until Internal Affairs got there to take it off his hands.
They walked to the car silently Hank grabbed a rubbish bag from the boot and sliced it expertly to lay over his seat before Nick got in the car, one of the many necessities they carried around like normal people had blankets and torches in their boots.
They had been driving for about five minutes when Hank put his indicator on and pulled over. Nick turned to him questioningly he would really like to get to the hospital now so he could flash his badge and get a progress report on Monroe.
“What is the deal between you and Monroe?” Hank asked finally.
“She’s a friend,” Nick said, he felt like he repeated himself too damned much about who Elly was and what she was to him but no one seemed to get it.
“Just a friend?” Hank asked. “If she’s more I won’t judge, she obviously wasn’t our murderer back then and she has helped out on some cases and honestly she’s good for you.”
“She’s…she’s my best friend. Even before Juliette left me she was there for me, I can talk about anything with her, even the cop stuff I could never tell Juliette,” Nick admitted quietly.
Hank was quiet for a long moment and then nodded pulling the car back out onto the road. They got to the hospital and talked to the triage nurse, it was a slow afternoon luckily so they were sent back and a nurse found Nick some scrubs and directed him to a shower so they would be able to see the actual wounds. Hank took the clothes and bagged them taking them out to his car while Nick showered.
Nick stood under the hot water his eyes glued to the red water swirling down the drain, he grabbed the hard antibacterial soap that was in the holder and started scrubbing, he started with his hair and scrubbed at every part of his body he could reach passing over scraps and cuts, a few bruises and one long gash he hadn’t realised ran the length of his side but he ignored the pain and worked the soap into a lather rubbing until his skin was rosy and there were no traces of blood left. He made sure the water was clear before he turned the spray off and stepped out of the shower, he towelled himself off and pulled the scrubs that were just a little too big in the pants and a little too tight across his chest on before stepping out of the little staff bathroom. He went back to the emergency section and a nurse directed him to a bed, he settled there and waited for Hank who would be back well before a doctor or nurse was able to come and see him, his brain was starting to get fuzzier, definitely a concussion but he was slowly getting used to it and he’d been able to focus for longer, Elly said it was part of his Grimm DNA he was going to be able to withstand more than a normal human but he could feel it catching up to him now that he’d stopped. He needed to go and ask the nurses about Elly again; surely there would be some news by now.
Moments later Hank stepped into his little curtain room and sat down on the chair beside him. “Nurse said that Elly is still in surgery, she had a collapsed lung and some internal bleeding, they are working on her and will let us know if anything changes.”
“Thanks Hank,” Nick said relaxing into the bed a little more knowing she was still okay, she had to be okay.
“You look like shit Nick, did you scrub yourself with a brush or something?”
“I had to get the blood off,” Nick said with a shrug, he felt sluggish now the adrenaline gone.
“You look pale,” Hank said just as the nurse pulled the curtain open and stepped inside.
“Detective Burkhardt I would like to see less of you in my ER.”
“Hello Kelly, I’d like to see less of me here too.”
“What happened this time?” Nurse Kelly Samuels asked coming in to do a quick exam.
Nick pulled his shirt off, there wasn’t anything wrong below his waist but some bruises. “I got into a fight with the woman who’d been killing those joggers.”
“I read about that,” Kelly said poking at the skin on his side. “This will need stitches, so will the cut on your forehead. Did you scrub yourself with the shower soap?”
“Yeah, I was covered in blood.”
“I saw, that stuff is terrible even if it is effective, I’d suggest using some moisturiser when you’re out of this place.” Kelly said with a smile.
“Okay,” Nick said. “I’m starting to feel groggy.”
Kelly felt around his hair until she hit a spot that made him hiss. “Your partner looks okay how’d you end up with the worst of it?”
“Hank wasn’t with me, a friend was, she is up in surgery.”
“The woman who always comes in to check on you when you’re here?”
“No, Juliette and I broke up.”
“No, not her the other one. Really tall dresses like a country girl always comes to see you at night when visiting hours are over.”
Nick looked at her shocked for a moment. “She comes to see me at night?”
“You didn’t know?”
Nick shook his head. “No, she doesn’t like the hospital she tries to avoid it though she generally does come to visit me when I am kept here.”
“Which I am telling you now you will be, I would say concussion and stitches but it’s up to the doctor of course, he should be back to see you soon. I’ll keep an ear out on your friend what’s her name?”
Kelly smiled and left closing the curtain behind her.
Hank and Nick were silent for a long while.
“You really didn’t know she came to see you at night?”
“No, I always pass out at night here all the drugs they give me.”
“Nick,” Hank started but they were interrupted by the doctor.
He looked over Nick quickly but thoroughly. “The nurse was right, concussion and you’ll be needing stitches for your head wound and the one on your side. We’ll be keeping you overnight. Someone will be back in a couple of moments to stitch you up.”
“Thanks,” Nick said when the doctor was gone. “You were saying?”
“Nothing,” Hank said. “Isn’t important. I’ll just going to go and call the captain.”
Nick smiled and rested back against the bed while Hank went outside to make the call. When he returned a doctor was stitching Nick’s side up having already finished with his head.
“Wu is going to swing past your place and grab you some clothes, your spare key still hidden in the same place?”
Nick nodded. “Can you call him back and tell him that the top drawer in my spare room has some of Elly’s clothes and get him to bring something for her as well?”
Hank stared at him for a few long moments and then nodded and went back outside. Nick knew Elly wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while but she hated the hospital and all the conflicting and downright tempting smells here but hopefully something of hers, something that smelled of her, would be able to help her with her control until she could go home. Nick would be able to grab more and from her place when he was released but until then he wanted something to give her when he was allowed to see her.
A couple of hours later when he’d been moved up to a room for the night Kelly came to see him.
“I’m just finishing my shift but so I said I’d come up and tell you. Elly is out of surgery, everything looks good and they think they caught all the bleeding she is in the ICU now.”
“When can I see her?” Nick said sitting up and disrupting the game of fish laid out on his table.
Kelly smiled. “Well I would say tomorrow but as you are listed as her emergency contact you can go down to see her now. I brought a wheelchair up and everything.”
“You are getting a fruit basket,” Nick told Kelly with a smile pushing the covers back.
“You are her emergency contact?” Hank asked.
“Apparently,” Nick said, he wondered if he really was or if Kelly was just being kind and found he did not care either way he was going to see her and know for himself that she was okay. If he really was - if she had told them at some point in time that he was the one to call that was huge and honestly Nick knew that in the reversed situation she was the one he would want called if something happened to him. He knew that this wasn’t something frivolous that she might have done she had given a Grimm knowledge of when she was injured and vulnerable. Nick allowed himself to wallow in the happy feelings that the thought brought him before he squashed them down in the elevator and reminded himself that it was possible Kelly was only giving him a chance to go and see her.
Kelly left them just outside of the ICU and Hank wheeled Nick into Elly’s room before stepping out and leaving him alone. Nick stood up his legs a little weak beneath him and walked over to the bed, Elly was hooked up to machines, there was a tube coming out of her side and she had an oxygen tube pressed to her nose but she was breathing, he watched her chest rise and fall counting out the beats of her breath before he reached out for her hand. She was cool which in itself was strange; Elly was normally so warm even when it was cold she was a furnace to stand beside but her skin was cool. Her fingers twitched in his hand not really moving but it still made Nick relax even more. He stood beside her looking down at her reassuring himself she was okay until a nurse popped her head in and said it was time for him to return to his room.
Nick squeezed her hand one last time and walked back over to the wheelchair knowing the rules he was not allowed to walk around the hospital until at least tomorrow morning. Hank wheeled him back up to his room and they finished their game of fish, played a couple rounds of gin and then Nick sent Hank away so he could sleep. Nick laid down but couldn’t find sleep even as his eyelids were heavy and his body felt sluggish. He dozed on and off all night and when he was released in the morning he wasn’t any more rested than he’d been the night before. He made his way back to Elly’s room and sat beside her.
The sunlight streaming in through window let Nick see the black eye, the cut on her bottom lip, the bruise over her cheekbone, the cut along her hairline they’ve stitched, the fact she was even paler than normal. He can see the bulk of bandages under her hospital gown and the tubes and monitors are still hooked up to her. Nick pulled the chair over to her bed and sunk down into the uncomfortable chair.
He was going to have to do a better job of protecting Elly, he was going to have to stop relying on her so much, he would just have to work harder - definitely take those German courses he’d been researching and read the books, he might do some work to his basement and increase security so he could keep some of the books there. He needed to read them all; learn everything he could so he could be a proper Grimm and work alone so Elly didn’t have to come with him and risk herself for his ‘destiny’. Before he did any of that he’d need to help her get better she was still too pale, she looked fragile and Nick knew that was one thing she wasn’t so he’d have to do what he could to ensure she didn’t end up here again looking like this.
Nick rested back in the chair and watched her sleep not even realising when he eyes closed and his drifted off to the sounds of her heart monitor and her steady breathing.