“Dude, it’s like four thirty in the morning. You better have a damn good reason for being here.”
“Umm…you’re my friend and I wanted to see you…”
As I went to shut the door, Nick threw out his hand, catching the door before it closed. He pushed back and forced his way in.
I growled. “You really don’t have any respect for personal boundaries, do you?”
“Not in the slightest.”
“What do you want, man? You know, normal people are sleeping right now.”
“Good thing you’re so weird.”
I growled again, but ultimately chose to ignore the remark – it was too early for this.
“Can’t a guy just drop by to see his friend?” He took a seat at the kitchen table.
“Sure, when it’s not such an unholy hour.”
He started to pout.
I sighed. “You want a beer? Coffee? Three-course meal?”
“Coffee would be great, thanks.”
I put on the coffee and sat down at the table across from him. When I got a better look at Nick, I realized that something was plaguing him – it was written all over his face. For a second I debated whether or not I should ask. I should – Nick was my best friend – but I didn’t want to – it was three in the freaking morning. I didn’t have to decide because Nick just started rambling.
“She left. She just left. I got home and all her stuff was missing. At first I thought we’d been robbed…but there was a letter on the bed. She said she didn’t want to marry me; I’m already married to my job. She was tired of the lies and the secrets. She even thought I was fucking around. What did I do? I should have just told her.” Nick’s voice was pained.
“She wouldn’t have understood, you know that, and even if you would have told her, she probably would’ve thought you were crazy and left anyway. Didn’t your aunt tell you to break things off? I doubt she said that out of ill-will.”
Nick just nodded.
“Listen, man, I’m sorry for giving you a hard time when you when you got here. I should try to, uh, be more…pleasant. I am here for you, though. Relationships aren’t really my forte, but I’m pretty good at listening.” I got up and fixed us both a cup of coffee. I sat back down and slid one of the mugs across the table. “I have some Kahlua you can add if you want.”
Nick smiled. “Nah, I’m ok.”
We sat there, drinking our coffee, idle chatter filling the room. I made Nick an omelet and toast – insisting he eat before work. I even offered dinner if he wanted to come back over later; his favorite, too: homemade pizza with peppers and onions. Nick agreed, thanking me in advance.
I shut the door behind him as he descended the porch steps. I watched his taillights fade down the street before pulling out the Pilates machine. I stopped for a minute and a thought crossed my mind: Am I getting used to this grimm in my life? I sighed and started my normal routine – though, there really wasn’t anything normal about it anymore. But I had accepted that a while ago; I actually, maybe, sort of, kinda liked having Nick around.
He came through the door around 6, reeking of dried blood and skalengeck. I looked him up and down when he walked into the living room. There was a low growl rumbling deep in my chest. I jumped up from the sofa and started poking at him, making sure he wasn’t too broken.
“Monroe, I’m fine.” He pushed my hands away.
“You’re covered in dirt and dried blood. You reek of skalengeck. You’re favoring your right leg, and your clothes are torn. You are not fine.” I sighed. “Go take a shower; you still have extra clothes in the guest room. I’ll get you all patched up. I just bought more gauze and a new jar of that really good salve. Dinner will be done shortly.” I shooed him off up the stairs.
“Hey, Monroe, can you come here?” I heard him call down the stairs.
I walked upstairs and into the bathroom. He was standing there, bare from the waist up. I winced seeing his pale skin covered in different shades of blue and purple. There were a few really nasty cuts running down the back of his shoulder. I got the jar of salved from the closet and started smoothing some over the cuts. I felt him shiver under my touch; I tried to be gentler. I massaged some into his shoulders and heard him sigh.
“Yeah.” He nodded.
“Dinner should, uh, be just about ready.” I walked back down stairs just in time to hear the stove timer go off. I pulled out the pizza and set it on the table – which was already set with plates. I could hear Nick walk in the room behind me. “There’s beer in the fridge.”
We sat down at the table and it wasn’t long before we demolished the pizza. He helped with dishes, just as he always did when he ate here. He told me about the skalengeck he’d been chasing earlier. It was under the influence of some kind of drugs but they caught him. He was definitely really starting the get the hang of the whole grimm thing. I was actually kind of proud.
We plopped on the sofa and I flipped through channels looking for something good to watch. I stopped when Raiders of the Lost Ark came on – I knew it was one of his favorites. I really liked it, too. I’d studied history in college hoping to be a cool history professor like Indiana Jones – obviously that didn’t pan out. By the time it was over, there was a mess of empty bottles sitting on the coffee table. Nick had moved a lot closer and was leaning against my side.
“Dude…” I poked his arm.
“My arm’s asleep.”
He got up and turned to face me, our faces only a few inches apart. His hands were on my thigh; he was leaning on his arms. He just kept staring at me. One of his hands slid up my leg. I was all nerves; I couldn’t move. He bit his bottom lip as his hand moved to my dick.
“Nick…” He leaned in to kiss me, but I turned my head. “We can’t. You and Juliette just broke up and you’re drunk.”
He was persistent. He wiggled closer, not quite in my lap. He pressed a soft kiss to my jaw and nuzzled my beard. I could feel my breath getting shaky. I tried to push him off, but he just kept grabbing at me.
“Nick, come on. Not now.” I pushed him off me.
“But I want you…so bad.” That husky voice went right to my pants.
“Not like this. You're drunk and...I just…” I growled. “...I can’t.” The wolf was yelling at me: how dare you turn him down! Right now he was easy and, sure, that was what the wolf wanted, but I couldn’t let it happen like this.
“M-Monroe...” He tried to pull me close.
“No, Nick!” I pushed him away and got up from the couch.
“Why? What would be so bad?” Nick was starting to sound desperate. His voice was becoming more like a whine. I didn't like seeing him like this.
“Because you'll be slammed up against the wall or bent over the counter or...pressed face-first down on my bed. It won't be sweet. It won't be gentle. It will be a MESS…and I could hurt you.”
Nick was silent.
“And that's not what I want.” I was practically pleading with him. If it was anyone else we would already be done, sweaty and panting. But this was Nick. It should be special and perfect. It hurt telling him no, pushing him away, when all I wanted to do was pull him close, make love to him. I’d wanted him for so long, and now I had my chance…but I couldn’t take it.
“You don't want to fuck me?” There was so much bite in those six words.
“That's not what I said. You know that.” There was another growl rumbling in my chest. “Of course I want you...just not like this: drunk, hurt, desperate.” I took a deep breath.
The look on Nick’s face was a mix of anger, desperation, bitterness, hurt, and maybe a little disgust.
“I want to woo you, date you. I want to take you out and show you off. I want to go out to eat and make you try vegan food. I want to surprise you with fancy homemade dinners and great wine. I want to snuggle on the couch and watch movies with you. I want a relationship with you. I don’t want some one-time thing. I want to send you cute 'good morning' texts and bring you a homemade lunch at work. Nick, the way I feel about you...I've never felt like this about anyone.”
Nick just sat there nodding. I wasn't entirely convinced that he was listening to me. I sighed.
“Ok.” He finally said. He struggled to get up, gripping the sofa for dear life.
I scooped him up, carried him down the hall, and put him in the guest bed. “You can sleep here.” I left him there, lying in bed, staring up at me with those wide grey eyes. I walked down the hall and locked myself in my room. I flopped on the bed, not even bothering to get undressed. I sighed into the pillow.
Why did I have to be a good guy?
I tossed and turned all night and didn’t leave my room until it was time for Pilates. He was still in the guest room, passed out, when I walked down the hall. I managed to get in an extra hour of Pilates; I felt better. I poured a glass of water, gathered a couple aspirin, and set it on the nightstand for whenever Nick woke up.
I took a long, hot shower. The water soothed my tense muscles. I got out, dried myself off, and threw on some clean clothes. I heard Nick groan from the guest room – must be up. I walked down the hall and leaned against the door frame.
“How are you feeling?”
“Terrible.” He was sitting up in bed, leaning against the headboard. “Oh god, Monroe.” He flopped over, hiding his head in a pillow. “I am so sorry. You must hate me.”
I went over and sat on the edge of the bed. “I could never hate you, Nick.”
He picked his head up and gave me a sad kind of smile.
“Shit, I should be flattered. Nick Burkhardt wanted to get all up on this.”
He shook his head then flopped back into the pillow.
“Don’t worry – I won’t hold your drunken shenanigans against you.”
I heard him sigh.
“Here’s the thing.” He sat up and looked at me. “Last night wasn’t some drunken shenanigan. Monroe, I do want you… a lot. Unfortunately it took a little inebriation to get me to act on it.”
“Oh.” I nodded, collecting my thoughts. “I meant what I said last night, too.”
He smiled and it went right to my chest. He had a smile that could light up even the darkest of rooms. We sat there in silence for a bit before I finally stood back up.
“The shower’s free. There’re fresh towels. Uh, if you want I can whip you up something for breakfast – something to get rid of that hangover.”
I went downstairs and into the kitchen to fix him some breakfast. I set the frying pan on the stove and cracked a couple eggs. I chopped up some peppers and onions to toss in, along with a diced tomato, and a few finely-chopped pieces of burdock root. I let it cook for a bit before folding it into an omelet to finish cooking. I put on the kettle and got two mugs ready for tea. I heard the shower turn off and lowered the heat on the stove. I warmed myself some oatmeal and sliced a banana on top. Nick walked in just as I poured hot water in the mugs.
He plopped down at the table and I slide the omelet in front of him along with one of the mugs. He smiled and thanked me. I sat down across from him with my bowl of oatmeal and my own mug.
“Oatmeal? I get an omelet and you’re eating mush?”
“Excuse me, but I like oatmeal.”
“So, uh, about last night…” He shoved a bite in his mouth, no doubt trying to make me finish his sentence.
“You want to maybe go out sometime?” A blush worked its way across his cheeks and I stifled a laugh.
“Yeah, I’d like that.”