Word spread quickly, it seemed, about the message Nick and Monroe sent to the Reapers.
Or maybe it wasn’t that, maybe it was just that their first attack didn’t discourage Monroe from helping. Maybe they were just bored.
Monroe hadn’t let him track down the Wesen who’d done it last time. Because he wouldn’t have been able to, Monroe said, and he had a point, but Nick still hadn’t even been able to try.
Nick didn’t have to try to track them down this time. He walked in on them in the middle of the act.
Apparently they hadn’t known Monroe was out in the woods to meet him. Seemed kind of stupid, to follow Monroe enough to track him out here, and not realize he was meeting the Grimm. Maybe they hadn’t been following him, maybe they’d just run into him out there and decided now would be a good time, when Monroe was alone and there was no one around to see them do it.
Except they miscalculated. Nick was around to see them do it, and he was the last person anyone would want around when trying to beat up Monroe. There were four of them, a Schakal, two Klaustreichs, and one that Nick didn’t recognize, wearing a green sweatshirt, with bloody knuckles and hands fisted in Monroe’s coat. Monroe, who was lying on the ground, bloody and bruised and unconscious.
Nick’s gun was out before he even realized he’d drawn it, and he shouted, “Hey! Police, back the hell away!” at the four of them, trying to draw their attention away from Monroe.
It worked. One of the Klaustreichs turned immediately and ran, but the other three looked at Nick. All three snarled, and the Schakal and the other Klaustreich started towards Nick, while the other Wesen turned back to Monroe, letting go of his coat with one hand and cocking back a fist, ready to punch him.
Nick shot him in the shoulder, and the Wesen howled, dropping Monroe and charging towards Nick. The Schakal and the Klaustreich had made it there first, though, while Nick was distracted shooting the other Wesen, and Nick had to all but throw himself to the ground in order to avoid their blows. He rolled as he went down, but didn’t manage to completely miss getting hit, as one of them landed a well placed kick to his shoulder, and another sent his gun flying.
He grit his teeth against the pain, and yanked the duffel bag he was carrying off his other shoulder, reaching in to grab out his crossbow. Nick pointed it up and fired just as the Schakal lunged in, sinking the first bolt in his chest. The Schakal screeched and fell back, leaving an opening for the Klaustreich to swoop in, mouth open to bite him. Nick fired off the second bolt, shooting it straight into the back of his throat. The Klaustreich’s eyes widened, and he made a horrible choking noise as he collapsed, half over Nick’s legs.
Nick kicked, struggling to get the Klaustreich off of him, but didn’t quite manage it before the other Wesen was on him, hands grabbing at his shoulders and yanking him up. Nick slammed the hilt of the crossbow into the side of the Wesen’s temple, and he snarled in pain, but didn’t falter in his grip. And then suddenly he threw back his head and shrieked, features twisted in agony.
Startled, Nick looked down, and saw Monroe crouched on the ground, Blutbaded out, claws buried into the Wesen’s calf. Monroe growled, eyes red and narrowed, and then he twisted his hand, yanking it back like he was trying to pull the Wesen off of his feet.
He didn’t manage it, but he did rip a large chunk of flesh from the Wesen’s leg. The Wesen shrieked again, and didn’t manage to shrug this off as he had Nick’s blow. He fell to his knees, releasing his hold on Nick, and Nick took the opportunity to kick out and up, landing a heavy blow just under the Wesen’s chin. Another slam to the side of the temple with the hilt of the crossbow, and the Wesen was down for the count.
Nick stood and looked around, taking stock of the situation. The Schakal was out, but he was breathing, which was more than Nick could say for the Klaustreich. He was entirely human, eyes wide open and staring at nothing. The other Wesen was still breathing as well, but he was bleeding pretty heavily from the giant hole in his leg. Nick couldn’t bring himself to care, not when Monroe looked worse.
Pulling out his cell phone, Nick called it in, explaining that he and Monroe had been attacked in terse sentences and requesting an ambulance immediately. He hung up without saying anything further. Nick knew he’d have to come up with a better explanation, but he didn’t care. Right then, all he cared about was Monroe.
Right then, he was seriously considering making sure the two who were still breathing were permanently out of commission, so that they never had the opportunity to put a hand on Monroe again.
Especially the one in the green sweatshirt, knuckles red with Monroe’s blood.
But he didn’t, because Nick didn’t kill unconscious people, Wesen or not, people who beat up Monroe or not, and because it was more important for him to move back to Monroe, who’d fallen down on his back a few feet away.
Monroe was growling, claws tipped with blood, but he quieted when Nick crouched by his side, didn’t say a word as Nick started tending to his injuries as best as he could, stripping out of his shirt and ripping it up to stop the blood flow of the most worrying ones. He was going to put a first aid kit in the duffel bag, he decided, a vital part of his Grimm kit, and thought about that, thought about methodically making sure he kept Monroe stable until the ambulance got there, didn’t think about what could have happened if he hadn’t been there tonight, if he’d gotten there a little later. If this happened again.
When this happened again, it seemed, because apparently they could never escape this, never, they’d just keep coming, and Nick could feel his teeth grinding together. He forced himself to keep calm, though. Getting angry wouldn’t help right now. He had to focus, just focus on Monroe.
Monroe who stirred under his touch, twitched, trying to move.
“Hey,” Nick said quietly. “Just lie still, okay?”
“Need to get out of here,” Monroe muttered.
“We need to get you to a hospital,” Nick replied. “I called an ambulance.”
“No,” Monroe said, too quickly, trying to sit up.
Nick put a hand on his shoulder, the one not soaked with blood, gently pushing him back down. “Yes. You’re hurt really bad, Monroe, I can’t-”
“Can’t,” Monroe agreed, cutting him off. “Can’t change back. Can’t.”
Oh. That was slightly problematic. Nick lifted his hand from Monroe’s shoulder, slid it gently through Monroe’s hair, careful not to touch the large gash on his forehead. “Yes, you can. It’s okay, Monroe. They’re gone, or – otherwise incapacitated. It’s okay. You’re safe.”
Monroe’s hand raised, landed on his knee, claws clutching weakly at the denim. “Stay.”
Nick put his other hand over Monroe’s, fingers curling around Monroe’s claws. “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Monroe’s eyes closed, breathing slowing. His features began to slowly return to human, and Nick, suddenly remembering the last time he saw a Wesen’s features return to human like this, tightened his grip on Monroe’s hand.
“Stay with me, Monroe,” he said, trying not to panic.
Monroe cracked open his good eye, somehow managing to glare at him. “Changing back. Like you said.”
“Oh,” Nick said, feeling sheepish, and loosened his grip on Monroe’s hand. “Sorry.”
Monroe squeezed a little bit, claw tipped fingers digging into Nick’s jeans. “S’fine. Keeps me grounded.”
Nick strengthened his grip again, holding tightly onto Monroe’s hand as it shifted completely back to human again.
“Thanks,” Monroe said quietly.
“Don’t thank me,” Nick replied, carefully brushing Monroe’s hair off his forehead, and out of the blood. “It’s my fault you’re out here in the first place.”
“Idiot,” Monroe muttered.
Nick frowned. “Hey.”
“Don’t,” Monroe told him. “Blame yourself. S’stupid.”
“Not stupid when it’s my fault,” Nick protested.
Monroe snorted, eyes closing. “Wasn’t what I meant.”
Nick’s brows furrowed. “What?”
“Not what I was thanking you for. That too, though. Thanks.” Monroe’s voice dropped on the last words, barely above a whisper.
“Then what was it for?” Nick asked.
“This,” Monroe replied, extremely unhelpfully.
“That’s not exactly an answer, Monroe,” Nick said.
Monroe stayed silent, and Nick’s heart rate jumped.
“Monroe? Come on, man, don’t pass out on me.” Nick squeezed Monroe’s hand again.
No response still, but Monroe was breathing steadily, and Nick could hear the sound of sirens approaching, so he fought down the panic. Instead he got up, leaving Monroe’s side only for a moment, to grab the crossbow and shove it back into the duffel bag, to pull the bolts from the Schakal and the Klaustreich, to run a little bit away and get the duffel bag up in a tree, hidden from view, marking it to come back to later. Nick’d prefer to get it in his car, but he couldn’t make it that far before the EMTs arrived, and he didn’t want to leave Monroe alone for that long.
So he went back to Monroe’s side, kneeling down next to him, doing whatever he could until the paramedics got there.
It was kind of a blur after that, people moving around and Nick doing his best to stay right next to Monroe without getting in anyone’s way. He sent a text to Rosalee and Bud, telling them where he’d left the duffel bag and asking one of them to pick it up for him, when they could, after the police’d left the scene. Nick wouldn’t be able to do it himself tonight. He wasn’t planning on leaving Monroe.
They let him ride in the ambulance with Monroe, maybe because he looked like he might kill someone if they tried to separate him from Monroe. Or maybe because he had a few bruises himself, probably seemed like he was in shock, and they wanted to keep an eye on him. Or maybe they were just being nice and sympathetic, and Nick should stop assigning people ulterior motives, but he wasn’t feeling very generous right then, not with his shirt in shreds, wrapped around Monroe and soaked in his blood.
He wasn’t allowed in while they took care of Monroe, but he probably would have been kept back even if he had, to explain what’d happened. That didn’t make him any less restless, any less eager to get to Monroe’s side. Nick told himself that no one was going to attack him in the hospital – but that didn’t help much, considering his aunt’s too short stay here. He knew, rationally, that it was different, but knowing it didn’t change the fact that he wanted nothing more than to be with Monroe.
Or at the very least, not sitting in the waiting room staring at the paper cup of coffee in his hands, dully reciting the story he’d come up with to the captain and Hank. Monroe and Nick were hiking in the woods. They ran into four guys, and the men attacked them. Nick and Monroe defended themselves. The fourth guy had some weapon that he tried to shoot at Nick and Monroe, but hit his friends in the chaos. He ran off while Monroe was down and Nick was fighting the third guy. No, Nick didn’t know who they were. No, he’d never seen them before. Lies sprinkled with just enough truth to be believable, and right then, Nick was just so tired of it.
He didn’t want to be here. He wanted to be home, at Monroe’s house, sitting on his couch and drinking a beer, watching TV and wondering if tonight was the night he kicked himself into gear, found the courage to move over a few inches, close the distance between them and lean against Monroe’s side. It never was, but Nick could change that. He would change that, if he could just be there now.
“Can you think of any reason why they’d want to attack you?” Renard asked, voice almost gentle, but firm.
Nick’s head snapped up, and he looked directly into the captain’s eyes. “I don’t think they liked what Monroe and I are to each other, sir.”
There was a moment of silence. For the first time in this conversation, Nick told the absolute truth, although granted, not exactly the way he knew Renard and Hank would take it. Still, it felt good.
“I see,” Renard said.
“I suggest we add intimidation in the first degree to the multitude of charges those thugs are gonna face when they wake up, sir,” Hank said, thinly contained anger in his eyes.
Nick resisted the urge to snort. Intimidation in the first degree, otherwise known as Oregon’s hate crime law. Yeah, he supposed a Schakal, two Klaustreichs, and whatever the hell that other Wesen had been attacking a Blutbad and a Grimm for working together fit the definition of a hate crime.
“And when we catch him,” Renard corrected. “Do you remember what he looked like?”
“Yeah,” Nick replied. “Yeah. I’ll draw up a sketch.”
“Good,” Renard said. “Give it to Hank, and take tomorrow off.”
“But-” Nick started.
“Take tomorrow off,” Renard said firmly. “Spend it where you’re needed.”
Nick suspected the captain didn’t want him rushing headlong into finding the fourth guy, didn’t want him to do something he’d regret. Which, granted, was a legitimate concern, with the way Nick felt when he thought of one of the men who’d done this to Monroe, out there, free and unharmed. But he didn’t protest further, because the captain was right. He should be with Monroe; he wanted to be with Monroe.
“All right,” Nick agreed.
Renard nodded, satisfied, and went off, barking orders to a uniform to get Nick a pencil and a sketchpad. Hank stayed with him, a quiet but comforting presence while Nick worked on his sketch, interrupted only briefly when a doctor stopped by to inform them that the other Wesen, the one Monroe had ripped a chunk out of, had died without regaining consciousness. Neither Hank nor Nick displayed much regret.
Finally, a doctor came in to the waiting room to update them on Monroe’s status. Concussion, cracked ribs, sprained wrist, several wounds that’d needed stitches, and he’d lost enough blood to need a transfusion, but he was stable and would make a full recovery. Probably wouldn’t even need to stay in the hospital long, and Nick could go into Monroe’s room now, if he wanted. Nick was up and heading there as soon as he heard which one it was.
Monroe was unconscious, bruised and bandaged, but Nick couldn’t resist touching him, reassuring himself that Monroe was okay. He rested one hand on Monroe’s chest, carefully, feeling his heart beat, the rise and fall of his chest, then gently brushed Monroe’s hair back.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured quietly, despite that Monroe couldn’t hear him. Maybe because Monroe couldn’t hear him.
Then he parked himself in one of the chairs and finished up his sketch, handing it wordlessly to Hank when he entered the room.
“So you and the clock guy,” Hank commented, taking the sketch and leaning against the wall next to Nick’s chair.
“Yeah.” Nick knew exactly what Hank was getting at, but he wasn’t going to make it easy for him.
“How long’s that been going on?” Hank asked.
“Officially? Not long,” Nick said. Which, again, was kind of the truth, though not the way Hank would see it. But hell, it was as good of a cover as anything. And Nick was kind of hoping that it wouldn’t just be a cover for much longer.
“Hmmm,” Hank muttered noncommittally.
Nick waited, watching Hank’s expression. It stayed neutral for a long moment, unreadable, the face Nick knew Hank made when he was thinking, was examining someone else for clues. Nick shook his head, smiling slightly.
“You’re not supposed to use your detective face on your own partner,” Nick informed him.
Hank snorted. “You do it all the time.”
“Lies and slander,” Nick replied.
“You keep on denying it, Burkhardt, but we all know the truth.” Hank shook his head, then shrugged one shoulder. “Hey, when he wakes up, tell him thanks for helping out with the watch.”
Nick raised an eyebrow. “You could tell him yourself.”
“That’d require me sitting on my ass here, waiting for him to wake up. I figure you’ll do enough of that for the both of us, and he’ll be a lot happier waking up to just you. I’m heading out of here,” Hank told him.
Nick was silent for a moment. Then he said quietly, “Thanks.”
He didn’t mean just for giving them some alone time, and he trusted Hank to know that. Hank clapped him on the shoulder, gave it a gentle squeeze, then pulled his hand back.
“It’s for my own sense of self preservation, man, you think I want to be around here for whatever ‘thank god you’re alive’ shit you two are going to get up to?” Hank shuddered, then pushed himself off the wall. “Take care of yourself. I’ll call you tomorrow, let you know how things are going.”
“Thanks,” Nick said again, lifting his hand in a vague wave as Hank walked out.
Then he pulled the chair as close to Monroe’s bed as he could get it, and picked up Monroe’s hand, threading their fingers together and trying not to picture the last time his hand had been over Monroe’s, when Monroe’s grip had been getting steadily weaker and there was blood everywhere.
He wasn’t very successful.
Nick didn’t know how long he’d been there, how long he’d been waiting, when Monroe’s hand shifted under his. It probably should have been his cue to let Monroe’s hand go, but Nick couldn’t bring himself to. If anything, his grip tightened slightly as he asked, “Monroe?”
“’M in the damn hospital, aren’t I,” Monroe muttered, without opening his eyes.
Nick smiled, a chuckle that was more relieved than anything else escaping. “Want me to lie to you?”
“That’d be awesome. While you’re at it, lie me up a scenario where I’m at home, playing my cello and completely ignoring your calls?” Monroe grumbled.
Nick’s smile faded. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “You – you should. Ignore my calls.”
He tried to pull his hand away from Monroe’s, untangling their fingers, but Monroe kept his grip on Nick’s hand firm.
“Quit that. I told you, you ask me for help whenever you want. Never took my complaining seriously before,” Monroe said.
Nick slowly curled his fingers back around Monroe’s. “You never said them from a hospital bed before.”
“M’not hurt that much worse than last time. It’ll heal.”
“Right. The last time that was my fault, too.”
Monroe opened his eyes, fixing Nick with a glare. “You ever going to get over this guilty martyr thing you have going on?”
“What-” Nick started, then stopped, calming himself down. “Martyr means someone who suffers persecution or death over refusing to renounce or accept a belief. Think you’ve got the wrong term, there.”
“You know what I meant.”
“I’m not allowed to feel guilty for things that are my fault, now?” Nick asked.
“Stop taking credit for everything. I’m a big Blutbad, Nick, I can make my own decisions. We already did this. I’m too tired to do it again,” Monroe replied, and although his voice was gruff, there was still a slight gentle-ness to it.
“I’m not trying to talk you out of it,” Nick said, ignoring the fact that he’d told Monroe he should ignore his phone calls at the start of this. He’d only been agreeing with Monroe, there. “Just apologizing for getting you into this.”
“Apology not accepted,” Monroe told him. “But if you’re still feeling in a particularly apologetic mood when I get out of here, I accept apologies in the form of food or alcohol.”
Nick smiled slightly. “You’re just angling for another ’78 Bordeaux.”
“You saw through my clever scheme. Curse you and your Grimm powers,” Monroe said dryly. “So what’s the official story?”
Nick blinked. “What?”
“The cover story you came up with, for what happened. Come on, we both know how great I am at hiding stuff, so the longer I have to practice it, the better,” Monroe said.
Nick snorted, then shook his head. “Like you said, the best lies are mostly the truth. We were hiking in the woods, when those four guys attacked us and we defended ourselves.”
“True enough. How’d you explain the Dopplearmbrust?” Monroe asked.
“Didn’t,” Nick said. “The fourth guy, the one that got away, had some weird weapon that he shot at us, but missed and hit his two friends.”
Monroe snorted. “Blame it all on the one that got away.”
Nick squeezed Monroe’s hand. “He won’t be the one that got away for long. If you won’t let me feel guilty for this, I’m at least going to make them pay.”
Something flickered briefly in Monroe’s eyes, but it was gone before Nick could recognize it. “Someone’s getting his Grimm on. Three of them are already dead, Nick, you can’t make them pay any more.”
Nick shook his head. “Only two. The Schakal I shot first is still alive. But he’s going to jail, and so’s the other Klaustreich, as soon as we find him.”
Monroe closed his eyes, tilting his head back. “Mmm. How much jail time are they looking at?”
“A lot. We’re sticking them with assault in the first degree, assaulting a public safety officer, intimidation in the first degree.” And part of Nick still wanted to take care of this himself, because it was a Grimm thing, not a cop thing, but Nick wasn’t listening to that part. He was still a cop, that made everything a cop thing.
Monroe frowned, opening his eyes a little. “Intimidation in the first degree?”
“Hate crime,” Nick clarified.
Monroe snorted. “How’d you manage that one? Tell them they didn’t like a Blutbaden hanging around a Grimm?”
Nick shrugged. “I told them the truth. That they didn’t like what we are to each other.”
Monroe stilled, his gaze flicking briefly down to their still joined hands, and then back up to Nick’s face. “Those, uh. Were your exact words?”
“Pretty much,” Nick said, trying to read Monroe’s expression, and thought he saw something like hope there.
“That our new cover now?” Monroe asked.
Nick swallowed, debated, and then went for it. “I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t be a cover, actually.”
Monroe’s brow furrowed, smoothed, then furrowed again, like he thought he knew what Nick meant, but couldn’t quite get a handle on it. So Nick leaned forward, careful not to put any weight on Monroe, and pressed his lips against Monroe’s, a soft, almost chaste kiss.
Then he pulled back, looking at Monroe’s face again.
Monroe swallowed. “Yeah, okay, I’m, uh, really good with it not being a cover. The opposite of a cover, actually, so far from a cover that-”
Nick kissed him again, less chaste this time, longer, giving Monroe a chance to kiss him back. Which he did, eager and demanding, right up until he gave a hiss of pain, and Nick immediately jerked away.
“Sorry,” Nick said, grimacing at himself.
“It’s fine,” Monroe said. “Told you to stop apologizing. Unless it’s for your horrible timing.”
But it wasn’t, and the reminder of Monroe’s injuries made something twist in Nick’s stomach.
“Maybe we shouldn’t.” Nick’s voice was reluctant, because he couldn’t actually believe he was saying this, but he needed to. “If they come after you like this just for helping a Grimm, what will they do if you’re dating one?”
Monroe snorted. “They’re going to come after us anyway, Nick, because you’re a Grimm and because I’m helping you, and even because I’m Weider. Might as well be getting some awesome sex out of it.”
Nick chuckled before he could help himself. “Awesome sex, huh?”
“You’re a Grimm. I’m expecting awesome,” Monroe informed him.
“I’ll try not to disappoint,” Nick replied.
“You could never disappoint,” Monroe said, abruptly serious.
Nick ducked his head, staying quiet for a moment. Then he said softly, “They almost killed you. If I’d been-”
“Nick,” Monroe cut him off. “If, for some unknown reason that probably just proves you’re a little crazy, you actually want this, then there is nothing that’s going to keep me from it. From you.”
Nick frowned. “Wanting you isn’t crazy.”
Monroe rolled his eyes. “Right, the ex-man-eating, anal retentive social recluse with anger management issues who isn’t even the same species as you, I’m a total catch.”
There was something about the way Monroe said that he wasn’t even the same species as Nick that gave him pause. “Monroe, I don’t care that you’re a Blutbad.”
“I know you don’t,” Monroe said, and there was affection in his voice, but there was also a tone that Nick recognized, that said ‘I know you think you don’t, but that’s just because you haven’t seen enough yet, give it time.’
Nick didn’t know how to reply to that, though, so he just filed it away for later, a little piece of information about Monroe to work on slowly. Instead he looked down at their hands, gently stroking his thumb over the back of Monroe’s hand, and then frowned, remembering the last time he’d held Monroe’s hand, – tried not to focus on the blood and fear and anger – remembered the way Monroe had thanked him, but he still didn’t know what for.
“Monroe,” he said, looking back up at him.
Monroe’s eyes were closed again, and he didn’t open them, just asked, “Hmm?”
“When we were out in the woods, you thanked me, but said it wasn’t for arriving when I did. What was it for?” Nick asked.
“This,” Monroe said, still not opening his eyes.
Nick let out a huff of air, half amused, half exasperated. “Yeah, that’s exactly what you said then. Funny how it’s not any more informative now.”
Monroe squeezed his hand. “This. You did this. Back there. Even though I wasn’t exactly in a form people’re dying to hold hands with.” He gave a soft, weak sound of amusement. “Bad choice of words. People are dying to.”
Nick’s brows furrowed, not quite sure he was actually getting that right. “…you were thanking me for holding your hand while you were Blutbaded out?”
“Come on, Nick. You’re human. Grimm-” he corrected himself before Nick could, “-whatever. Still not a Wesen, still didn’t grow up with this. I know it freaks you out, it has to. So, you know, thanks, for doing it anyway.”
For a long moment, Nick just stared at him, a little shocked, and with no idea how to reply to that. Right, okay, apparently that wasn’t information to file away for later, apparently that was information he needed to get right on, before Monroe got too set in the idea that Nick was dating him despite his Blutbad self, that Nick was horrified or freaked out by it, that Nick would rather him be human.
“It doesn’t freak me out, Monroe. It hasn’t for a long time, not since that first day,” Nick said.
“Mm-hmm,” Monroe agreed.
Nick eyed him suspiciously. “You didn’t actually hear anything I just said, did you.”
“Mm-hmm,” Monroe murmured again.
Nick sighed, squeezed Monroe’s hand, and leaned forward to press a kiss to the corner of his mouth, to brush his hand through Monroe’s hair. “Go to sleep, Monroe.”
Monroe tilted his head slightly into his touch, but it was an unconscious move, because Nick could tell he was asleep. Still, Nick kept his hand there, leaning forward until his back starting complaining at the position and longer, until he fell asleep like that.
Nick stayed with him through the night, and the next day, not even going home to shower, though Hank earned more of his undying gratitude when he swung by with a change of clothes for Nick. Monroe didn’t mention the conversation they’d had the night before, and Nick suspected the only reason he’d actually answered Nick’s question was because he was on some pretty good drugs. Nick let it go, but only because they were still in the hospital, and what he was planning on doing in response to it was better done in private.
They let Monroe out of the hospital late that day, releasing him as long as he promised to take it easy, and Nick assured them that Monroe had someone to stay with.
“You don’t have to, man,” Monroe said, as Nick held the door to Monroe’s house open for him. “I’ll be fine. We heal fast, you don’t ne-”
Nick cut him off by kissing him, kicking the door closed behind them.
“Or you could stay,” Monroe amended. “Yeah, actually, I think that’s the best idea.”
“Thought you might see it my way,” Nick said with a grin. “Besides, when are you going to get another opportunity to have a Grimm waiting on you?”
“There’s a few other things I’d rather have a Grimm doing to me,” Monroe replied, raising one eyebrow at him.
Nick shook his head, smirking slightly. “Talk to me in a few days, when you can open both eyes all the way. And don’t try that right now.”
Monroe, who had definitely been about to try to force his bad eye to open more, glared at him. “Changed my mind. Get out of my house, Grimm.”
Nick debated pretending like he’d go, if that was what Monroe really wanted, but they both knew it wasn’t, so Nick just grinned at him. “Nope, sorry. You already invited me to stay, now you’re stuck with me.”
Monroe grumbled under his breath, but he was almost smiling, so Nick didn’t take him seriously.
“How about you go get changed and I’ll make dinner as a peace offering?” Nick suggested.
Monroe eyed him for a moment. “Don’t burn my kitchen down,” he said finally, then slowly made his way upstairs.
Nick watched him, fighting down the urge to follow him up there. Monroe wasn’t hurt badly enough that he couldn’t dress himself. He was a Blutbad, like he said, they healed faster than humans, Nick didn’t need to go up there and make sure he was okay. Monroe was fine.
That didn’t stop Nick from staying where he was until Monroe made it safely up the stairs, though. Just in case. Then he headed into the kitchen to throw together a quick dinner, just boiling some cheese tortellini that Monroe already had and making a simple tomato basil sauce.
He had it simmering when he heard Monroe’s footsteps on the stairs, and he moved quickly to be at the foot of them, to watch Monroe’s descent.
“Are you gonna follow me around the entire time you’re here?” Monroe grumbled.
“I didn’t follow you upstairs, did I?” Nick pointed out.
Monroe snorted. “You say that like it’s a good thing. Oh, no, why would I want you to follow me upstairs, to my bedroom. Where my bed is.”
“All right, fine, next time I’ll follow you upstairs, and to your bedroom, and the bathroom, and everywhere else you go,” Nick said.
Monroe rolled his eyes. “You my boyfriend or my nanny?”
Nick had absolutely been ready to continue with their usual back and forth, he really had, but then his train of thought was basically derailed by that, and pretty much all he could do was smile. “Boyfriend. Definitely.”
Monroe looked kind of startled, like he hadn’t realized he’d actually said that, and so Nick was forced to pull him down for a kiss.
“Go lay down on the couch,” Nick told him. “I’ll bring you dinner.”
“Yes, dear,” Monroe muttered sarcastically, but he headed into the living room anyway.
Nick knew there was still a smile on his face as he went in to fix a plate of the pasta, grab a glass of water and Monroe’s pills, and went back into the living room. “Here,” he said, offering Monroe the plate, and setting the water and bottles down on the coffee table.
Monroe took the plate. “No wine?”
“Not for you,” Nick said. “You’re not supposed to have alcohol with your painkillers.”
“I’ll take the wine, thanks,” Monroe replied.
“Nice try,” Nick commented. “You can live being wine free for a few days.”
He went back into the kitchen for his own plate, and got himself a glass of water as well, instead of his usual beer or wine. Monroe’s eyes flicked to the glass in Nick’s hand as he sat down on the chair in the living room, but he didn’t say anything.
They ate in relative silence, and then, after Nick made sure Monroe took all the pills prescribed for him, he gathered up their dishes, loaded up the dishwasher, put away the leftovers, and cleaned up the kitchen. By the time he came out with another glass of water for Monroe, Monroe was stretched out on the couch, watching some movie on TV.
“I could get used to this,” Monroe commented, accepting the glass of water.
“Good,” Nick said. “You better, because I’m going to be here for the next few days, hovering over you.”
Monroe snorted. “If it means you cleaning up in the kitchen? I’ll take it.”
Nick moved to sit back down in the chair, but Monroe made a noise of protest.
Nick frowned. “You need something else? Heating pad? Blankets?”
“No,” Monroe said. “Just, there’s room on the couch. I’d rather you be over here.”
There wasn’t room on the couch, not with Monroe sprawled over it like that, but Nick would rather be over there with him, too, so he didn’t point that out. Instead, he went over to the couch, helping Monroe sit back up, and then eased himself in behind Monroe, one leg on either side of Monroe’s, and rested against the pillow propped up by the armrest while Monroe leaned back against his chest.
“You sure this is comfortable?” Nick asked.
“Better than being without you,” Monroe replied. “And since I don’t think my ribs can handle you being on top of me right now, this is the way we’re going.”
“That’s not what I asked,” Nick said.
Monroe tilted his head back, resting it on top of Nick’s shoulder, and pressed a kiss to Nick’s neck. “Yes, Nick, it’s comfortable. I’m injured, not made of glass.”
Nick carefully wrapped his arms around Monroe, hands settling flat on his stomach. “Forgive me for wanting to take care of you.”
“You’re taking very good care of me. You’re a very attentive boyfriend, now shut up so I can watch the movie.”
Nick smiled, smoothing his hand over Monroe’s stomach in an absent, circular motion. “Shutting up, but I can’t promise how long it’s going to last.”
It didn’t last long. But they’d both quieted down by the time the movie ended and a second one started, and about twenty minutes into it, Nick realized that he hadn’t heard Monroe say anything since before the resolution of the first movie.
“Monroe,” Nick said, mostly to see if Monroe was sleeping.
Monroe shifted in his arms. “Hmm?”
“Are you too tired to go Blutbad?” Nick asked, the words out of his mouth before he even really thought about it.
“No,” Monroe said. “It’s not really a tired thing. I mean, I can, you know, Blutbad out pretty much whenever, it’s going further or turning back that can be difficult.” He paused, and then, sounding more awake, and more suspicious, added, “…why?”
Nick considered dropping it, but figured he was already in this far, he might as well keep going. He doubted Monroe would let him drop it, anyway, would let him just say ‘no reason’ and go back to watching the TV. “Will you do it now?”
“What?” Monroe asked, sounding startled. “No. Why? No.”
“Just for a minute,” Nick said.
“No,” Monroe said again. “What the hell? No.”
“It’s not like I haven’t seen it before,” Nick pointed out, then added softly, “Please.”
Monroe sighed. “Fine.” He pulled away from Nick, sitting up and sliding a few inches more towards the end of the couch.
Nick started to protest, that he hadn’t meant Monroe had to move away to do it, but then Monroe took a deep breath and shook his head, Blutbading out.
“There,” he said, his voice a deep growl, slightly odd sounding because of the fangs. “Happy?”
Nick sat up, leaning into Monroe’s personal space, and Monroe sat perfectly still, watching him suspiciously, and with something not quite fear in his eyes. Nick cupped his cheek, then ran his fingertips over his forehead, skipping around the stitched up gash, across his shifted eyebrow, the one not half-hidden by a purple bruise, over pointed ears and through hair that felt more like fur, finally settling in his hair, just behind his ear, thumb resting on his jaw. And then Nick tilted his head up to kiss him.
“Yeah,” Nick said, when he pulled back. “Really happy, actually.”
Monroe frowned at him, an expression that looked more like a glare in his Blutbad form. “Did you make me change just so you could do that?”
Nick shrugged. “You thanked me just for holding your hand while you were changed. Seemed kind of important to let you know that’s not something I need to be thanked for.”
Monroe looked away. “Yeah, well, I’d lost a lot of blood. And I was drugged. Two situations you’re really not supposed to take me seriously in.”
Nick raised an eyebrow, even if Monroe couldn’t see him. “We also started dating, while you were drugged. Should I be worried about that?”
“No!” Monroe said, too quickly, turning back to Nick, and then grimaced. “No. That’s different.”
“So you weren’t at all worried, you didn’t for one second think that I’d be freaked out by you like this,” Nick said.
Monroe glanced away again, then sighed and looked back. “Of course I thought that, Nick. I’m a Blutbad. You’re a Grimm.”
“A Grimm who doesn’t care,” Nick told him.
“I know you don’t,” Monroe said, again, but it was a little more hesitant than the time he’d said it at the hospital, a little more like he might actually believe it.
Nick stroked his thumb along Monroe’s jaw. “I love you,” he said quietly. “All of you. And I asked you to change so the first time I told you that, it would be like this. To you like this.”
Monroe swallowed. “Nick…”
Nick waited for him to finish, but he didn’t seem inclined to, so Nick kept talking. “You’re not just a Blutbad to me, Monroe. You’re just – you. When I look at you, all I see is you.”
Monroe still wasn’t saying anything, just looking at him. Nick didn’t have enough experience with Monroe in his Blutbad form to be able to read him as well as he could when he was human, so he really wasn’t sure what Monroe was thinking.
Suddenly uncertain, Nick shifted his weight slightly. What if Monroe hadn’t wanted things to be that serious between them? What if he only wanted something casual? Maybe this was too soon, maybe-
“You don’t have to feel it back. It’s okay,” Nick said, before he could come up with too many more maybes.
“No!” Monroe said, then made a face at himself again. “No. This just – wasn’t anything I was expecting. Especially not like this, for you – I love you, too.”
Nick felt the tension in his shoulders drain. “Good, because I was pretty much lying about it being okay.”
Monroe smiled slightly. “You were going to start our relationship on a foundation of lies?”
“Only if you didn’t love me,” Nick replied, leaning in to kiss him again. “You should lie back down. You’re not supposed to be exerting yourself too much.”
“You’re the one that made me change,” Monroe said, but he didn’t even sound like he was trying to be cranky.
“I didn’t mean you had to get up to do it,” Nick told him, leaning back and gently pulling Monroe with him, lacing his fingers with Monroe’s claws.
Monroe settled back against him, still Blutbaded out for a few more minutes, though he eventually de-woged. Nick kept holding his hand, thumb stroking over fur turning into skin.
“We should get you upstairs,” Nick murmured.
“Not yet,” Monroe replied. “It’s almost time for the next dose of painkillers, and I want to wait until they kick in before trying to go upstairs.”
“Kay,” Nick agreed, eying the time. Another ten minutes before Monroe could have more of some of the pills. That was close enough.
There was a pause. Then, “You’re coming with me, right?” Monroe asked.
“Yeah,” Nick said, squeezing Monroe’s hand. “If you want me to.”
Monroe snorted. “Right, because what I really want is to sleep alone, with you on the couch, when I could have you in my bed.”
“Oh.” Nick pressed a kiss to the spot just behind Monroe’s ear. “In that case, I’ll stay down here. Be gentleman like.”
“I don’t like gentlemen,” Monroe replied, a bit of a growl in his voice.
“Probably for the best,” Nick said, smirking just a little bit. “I doubt I could manage it. Besides, I told you, I’m hovering. Following you everywhere, and that includes your bed, until you’re better.”
Monroe turned his head to look at him. “Just until then?”
“For as long as you’ll let me,” Nick told him, aiming for joking, but missing the mark a little.
Monroe gave a satisfied rumble. “Better get used to staying here, then.”
Nick smiled, closed his eyes, tilted his head down to kiss Monroe’s neck. “I can manage that.”