Chapter 1: So You're A Talking Book
“Oh great, another newbie.”
Nick turns quickly towards the voice, pointing his flashlight hopefully into the eyes of the man in his Aunt’s trailer. No one is there. A series of schizophrenic people he’s had to take into custody flash before his eyes and he wonders if soon he’s going to be another one of them.
“Oh good, this one can talk. At least I have that to not look forward to.”
There is no one here but someone is talking. How can there be no one in this trailer when he clearly hears someone talking right in front of the desk. A trick compartment? It wouldn’t be the first time he’s seen a trailer modified for smuggling. Usually this far north it’s drugs not people but still the possibility is there.
There’s a sound much like a harrumph and the book on the desk twitched a little like a breeze rolled over it.
“Doesn’t even know my name yet and he’s already demanding things,” the mystery man grumbled. Nick would be amused if it weren’t for the fact that he still sees no one there.
“Look, I can’t come to you so you’ll have to come to me. Come on, already. It’s not like I can hurt you or anything.” Nick raises an eyebrow at the dubiousness of such a statement in a dark trailer full of weapons in the middle of the night but steps closer to the desk anyway.
Because he’s just had that kind of night.
He still sees no one. With his free hand he runs his fingers under the lip of the desk, expecting some sort of catch or keyhole that would open the desk up and reveal the man to him.
“Are you trapped?”
“Why is it all Grimms have this perverse need to state the obvious every chance they get? Of course I’m trapped. Do you think I volunteered to get stuck in here?”
Nick just grunts and ignores the man for the moment, preferring to find a way to open the desk seeing as the guy obviously isn’t all that distressed. The voice seems to be coming from under this book open on the table. It’s a heavy, leather bound book that makes him think of the word tome. He flips it closed and wraps his hand around the spine just as the book began shaking. He drops it and the thing rattles on the table angrily, the voice he had heard so clear before muffled and sounding very very upset.
He steps back from the desk and trains his flashlight on it. The book jerks angrily and flies open.
“What the hell’d you do that for, man? Talk about rude just closing me like that in the middle of a conversation! And is that anyway to handle an antique? I’m at least a century old and THAT’S how you’re going to treat me?”
“You better be…”
Tonight would be that kind of night where he'd be threatened by a book.
“So you’re a talking book,” Nick says and takes a sadistic sort of pleasure in listening to the book sigh in annoyance.
“I’m a Grimm.” If the book had eyes he would have rolled them, Nick’s short acquaintance with him had taught him that much.
“And there are creatures out there like those in fairy tales.”
“Are we done with the stating of the obvious yet or is there going to be yet another round?”
“You’re really old, aren’t you?” Nick smirked as the pages seemed to puff up momentarily then flatten out with a gust across the desk.
“I’m not going to like you, am I?” Nick just laughed a little under his breath.
“This is a bad idea.”
“No, it’s not.”
“What if you drop me in the mud? I’m made of paper not plastic!”
“When they were making you,”
“Oh, God, please no.”
“They asked ‘paper or plastic?’ and,” Nick snickered briefly.
“If you finish that I will give you the worst paper cuts ever.”
“You said ‘paper.’”
Nick laughed and held Monroe away from him, watching his pages flick in what Monroe thought was a menacing way.
“I don’t know what to do, Monroe. She’s just a little girl.” Nick had his cheek pressed against the desk next to Monroe, looking up sideways at the edge of his pages, his fingers idly flicking the opposite corner of Monroe’s pages. Monroe curled up the edges of his pages closest to Nick’s face and let them flip down, blowing a gentle breeze across Nick’s face, shuffling Nick’s bangs back off his face.
“There’s nothing else I can do from here, man. Just… trust in yourself.”
Nick grunted and slid Monroe shut.
Monroe let out two muffled syllables and thumped his cover against himself. Nick turned off the light in the trailer and went back upstairs to bed.
“I can’t believe I did that.” Nick’s voice is still full of amazement and maybe a little sleep deprivation.
“It was just so… intense. I tracked him, Monroe, tracked him!”
“I told you you could do it.” Monroe’s pages flutter in a congratulatory motion and Nick grinned a bit dopily down at him.
“Thank you, Monroe. You really helped me out.”
Monroe’s pages stilled, one corner curling self-consciously.
“I really didn’t do much. Can’t really from here.”
Nick laid his hand gently on top of Monroe’s open page, his index finger rubbing against the illustration of a blutbad’s changed face.
“I would have been lost without you, Monroe.” Nick smile turned soft and maybe a little more tired than it had been before. Monroe’s pages flutter nervously for a second.
“Yeah, you would have been. You totally owe me for that one.”
Nick chuffed a laugh and slid his hand off the page.
“I’ll bring you a gift basket next time I’m in.”
“You are one cruel Grimm, you know.”
Monroe flicks a page at Nick, an empty threat. Nick stands and stretches slowly, letting out a tired groan.
Monroe’s pages slowly slide over each other as Monroe shuts himself.
“See you, Grimm.”
Nick quietly shuts the trailer door and walks away still smiling.
Chapter 2: I Dream Of Bees And Goats
“You mean like this?”
“Yes! Yeah! That’s it!”
Nick taps Monroe’s page excitedly and Monroe curves his page away.
“Hey there! Watch the ink.”
Nick sits back down and sets his hands on either side of Monroe.
“It’s for roh-hatz- Jagerbar use them in coming of age ceremonies. Very rough, lots of wailing –who wails anymore by the way? I mean, come on, wailing?”
Monroe’s pages shrug in the air and flick. Nick smiles and taps at the edge of Monroe’s cover.
“The roh-hatz, Monroe?”
“Uh, yeah. They tap into the animalistic side of everyone and I mean everyone. Be careful with jagerbars, Nick, they’re territory is sacrosanct and I know how much you like trodding over boundaries.”
Monroe’s open page swirls with ink as Monroe illustrates the wooden bear claw, a forest, a man running through it, jagerbars chasing him, and a dark nest of spikes.
Nick stands and flashes Monroe a grateful look as he pulls his coat back on.
“I’ve got to go now but I’ll be back, ok?”
“Yeah, yeah…” Monroe grumbles and shuts himself, grumbling with muffled words under his own closed cover.
“I just don’t understand why they would do that.”
Nick isn’t looking at Monroe but he can hear his pages flex. The noise is a bit comforting at this point, as if Monroe is searching his own leaves for something that might help Nick through this.
“Who would go through all of that and do something so cruel all for the sake of, of, of tradition?”
He runs his fingers through his hair and sighs wearily. Part of him is happy the case is over, and another part of him is just depressed at the strange things people do for family.
“I just don’t get it,” he says at last, pressing his lips together into one line of discontent.
“No, you wouldn’t understand, would you?”
Nick sits up quickly and stares down at Monroe (on his new stand he sits a little higher but it’s still lower than Nick’s head even when Nick is seated).
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Monroe’s pages jerk a nervous staccato before settling.
“It’s just that you really weren’t raised with a strong family center. I mean, that’s pretty normal for Grimms. You people aren’t really all that into tradition or much of anything that isn’t killing so it makes sense.”
“I think you’ve got not caring confused with being dead.”
Nick slams Monroe shut and storms out of the trailer.
He can hear Monroe shouting behind him but he’s just too angry to care right now.
A few hours later he’ll return to turn off the desk lamp, remembering that Monroe prefers the natural light through the windows and hates the false yellow light of the old gooseneck. He ignores Monroe’s softly spoken apology and barely spares him a glance.
When he does Monroe has shut himself, his cover’s illustration of a man standing next to a wolf glinting red, green, and yellow in the sparse light from the window.
“Giant bee people.”
“Do you just like insulting every species you come across or is it just when I’m around?”
Nick smirked and looked down at Monroe on the desk. He leaned back and set his boot on the desk next to Monroe. His pages fluttered in agitation.
“Watch it! I’m not easy to clean, you know.”
“Oh I know.”
“Which is why I told you to be careful.”
“I was careful.”
“You were laughing and throwing me! How is that careful?!”
“Did I drop you?”
“You got berries on my cover!”
“Did I drop you?”
“No! You ran into a freaking bush!”
“And I never once let go.”
“And if I were some fair maiden that would be impressive but I’m not. I’m a book and you nearly tore my title page!”
“I’ve never seen your title page.”
Nick dropped his feet, letting the chair hit the ground.
“Show me your title page.”
Monroe grumbled and flipped through his pages, coming to rest at the beginning of the book.
“’Blutbad Grimm.’ That’s not very exciting.”
“Excuse me for having a boring title.”
“Nice coat of arms, though.”
Nick ran his hand over the wolf in the center of the shield, placed between the two words of the title. Monroe’s pages seemed to shiver briefly before settling more still than Nick had ever seen them.
“And this is the living room.”
“You have a very nice house, Nick. Now tell me why you felt it necessary to go dragging me about all over it?”
“Because it’s now your new home as well.”
Nick walked back into the living room and set down one of the two beers in his hands on the coffee table in front of where he’d propped Monroe up on the couch.
“Thought you might be thirsty.”
“One day you’re going to walk away from me with a paper cut so big you’ll need stitches.”
Nick just smirked and propped his feet up on the table and turned his attention back to the hockey game on TV.
“Why do you have a bright pink apron?”
Nick just grinned and twirled, the lazy edges of his apron swayed.
“You like it? I think it makes me look dashing. Juliet used to say it made my lips look pinker. Though I never really thought my lips were all that pink to begin with.”
The smile slid off Nick’s face and he looked stricken for a moment. Then he licked his lips and said through a tense jaw “Someone I used to know.”
Monroe didn’t ask more about it and Nick was thankful for that.
“So show me how to make this thing again.”
Monroe sighed and flicked his pages to the one he’d kept the recipe on.
“Don’t you dare come near me with any eggs or flour…”
Nick just smiled and mixed the dry ingredients together a little closer to Monroe.
The TV blared on about some miracle storage container. The yellow and blue lights from it cast out across the living room. On the couch, Nick had fallen asleep hours ago, sliding sideways and curling around the nest of pillows Monroe sat on.
Nick frowned and turned a little in his sleep, unsettling the pillows Monroe was on.
He slid off landed with his covers bracketing Nick’s sleeping face. Nick murmured fretfully and twitched again. Monroe lightly ran one of his pages against Nick’s jaw.
Nick hummed in his sleep and pressed closer, his arms reaching out and grabbing the pillow behind Monroe and hugging it to his chest.
On Monroe’s open page, the face of a man looked down at Nick’s sleeping face and sighed. The ink swirled until the man’s face was angled parallel to Nick’s.
Monroe sighed and Nick grumbled something about bees running away with goats in his sleep.
Chapter 3: It's Red
“Why are teenagers so cruel to each other?”
“Hey, don’t ask me. When I was a teenager we didn’t pick on the weaker kids, we just ate them.”
“Just saying. It could be worse than getting kicked out of school.”
“Worse than ruining his chances at a good future just because he’s poor and more talented than them?”
“It does suck. I’m just saying… at least he’s not cat food.”
Nick sighed and set his carton of chow mien down.
“I just know what it’s like, ok? There had been times I wished I was cat food instead when I was a teen.”
Monroe’s pages flick quickly in a manner that Nick has learnt meant that Monroe didn’t know what to say. Nick pats Monroe’s cover lightly, careful not to knock him over (again).
The room is dark and the only light is from the streetlamp outside. Nick breathes in deep and curls his arms tighter around his pillow. The blankets are twisted around his legs and his white shirt has ridden up. He dreams of walking through a forest with a wolf by his side. It’s peaceful.
Downstairs the pages of an old book flutter quickly followed by a thump. Then more thumps. A man lays sprawled on the dining room floor, breathing heavily. Shakily he gets to his feet.
It takes him a while but between stumbling, leaning against everything nearby and crawling he makes it upstairs.
His bare feet take him to the side of the bed where he stands silently, breathing heavily. A shaky hand reaches down and brushes Nick’s hair out of his face. Nick mumbles in his sleep and squirms a little.
“Hey! Go back.”
“To the Golden Girls?”
“Yes, to the Golden Girls.”
“You watch the Golden Girls.”
“Well, excuse me for getting into the show. It’s not like I can change the channel while you’re away.”
Nick sighs and switches the channel back.
Ten minutes later he's groaning and covering his face, trying to hide from the embarrassment of Sophia's story. Monroe is laughing at him so Nick yells at him to shut up and blindly smacks his open pages, smiling underneath the hand he still has up to cover his face.
“What’s my favorite color?”
“Well, what is it?”
“Why’re you asking?”
“We never talk about anything that isn’t in some way Grimm related.”
“Ok. What’s your favorite color?”
“You don’t really care.”
“No, I do, tell me.”
Nick sets his fork down and leans over to peer intently at Monroe’s open page, watching the ink shift about and form different things. A dark red wine color bleeds onto the page, twists and swirls with a more vermillion color.
Nick smiles at Monroe and picks up his fork again.
“Alright, what’s your favorite type of music?”
“What’s your favorite composer?”
“What’s your favorite show?”
“…. Being Human.”
Nick refrains from making the joke his mind comes up with, refrains from laughing. His smile softens.
“That’s a good show.”
“Yeah, it is.”
"So... that was Juliet."
"Yeah, that was Juliet."
"Yeah, she is. Very pretty."
"I'm just saying... They take up like one third of her face."
"You're a rude book, you know that?"
"I'm a man, Nick, not a book."
"That kid has some serious talent!"
"I told you."
"He has real talent."
Nick sits down on the couch next to Monroe, letting his head flop back against the back of the couch.
"Are you good at anything, Monroe?"
Nick laughed half-heartedly.
"No really. When you were a man were you talented at anything?"
It's silent for a long time. Nick is nodding off, his eyes fluttering between open and closed. He's mostly forgotten his question at this point.
"I was a clockmaker."
"I bet you made beautiful clocks."
"They were all destroyed when I was turned."
"So was I."
"Haven't you heard of this new invention called a shirt?"
"I'm in my own home. I don't have to wear a shirt."
"Yeah, when you're alone but I'm still here, you know."
"What? Do I look so hideous that I need to be covered?"
"Besides, it's just you and me. Why should I put on a shirt for the guy who lives with me?"
Monroe just shuts himself and doesn't move for the rest of the evening. Nick just shrugs it off, a small voice in the back of his head tells him that Monroe has been acting strange lately.
Nick laughs for no reason, a giggle causing him to rock back and forth and ok maybe if he were being honest he'd admit that they were drunk giggles. He lays his head down on Monroe's open page.
"You know, I love you, Monroe. You're such a cool guy. I wish you were a real man. I think I'd fall in love with you then..."
Nick giggles again, rubs his head against Monroe's pages and passes out.
No images, words, or floods of ink go across Monroe's page. He had no idea what to say or make of any of this. All he knew was that he ached.
"So what was that book before it was you?"
"I have no idea. Probably blank or something."
Chapter 4: Poison & Paralysis
This is where it looks like there's Nick/OC.
Also the start of where this story gets its M rating. So yeah....
"So it's a swan man?"
"Do you still do this just to annoy me or are you really that thick?"
"I'll show you how thick I am..."
"Is everything a penis joke to you?"
"Hey! Penises are not jokes! Or is it penii? Penises? You know, I don't have much call to use the plural of penis."
"It's not something that happens often, no."
"Least not since college. Now THAT was a lot of penises."
Nick is pretty sure that if Monroe had eyes he'd be staring at him.
"So I was a bit- ok, a lot of a cock slut in college. There's nothing wrong with that."
"Never said there was."
"Then stop looking at me with your judgy pages!"
"I'm- what? I don't even know what you're talking about."
"Yes you do! That's the same position you take when I do something you don't like."
"That's the exact same position you take when I go around shirtless or flirt with the pizza girl."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"What are you doing?"
"Just, uh, surfing the internet."
"You've been looking at the same page for half an hour."
Nick's cheeks fill with color and he angles himself so that his laptop blocks his face from Monroe. Soon after the doorbell rang and Nick sprang up to get the pizza, accidentally leaving his laptop angled so that Monroe could see the web page. It looked like some sort of profile. Jonathan Edecker (Call me "Eddie") from Portland, OR. Hobbies include hiking, reading, volunteering at the animal shelter... Age: 36 Height: 6'4". The picture shows a tall, fit man kneeling next to a large dog. His grin is scruffy with auburn whiskers and his hair shines healthily. His jeans and flannel shirt fit him nicely.
Nick is half paying attention to the hockey game. He's got one arm thrown over the back of the couch above where Monroe sits propped up and the other sits over his phone on his thigh. His phone vibrates every few minutes and Nick reads the message with a smile on his face. He rolls his bottom lip between his teeth while he replies and then sets his phone back down again.
Idle conversation passes between Nick and Monroe, it sounds like shorthand with neither of them having to say much for the other to get what they are saying.
Sometimes Nick laughs and swats at Monroe, idly plays with the edges of his pages, nudges him a little, and threatens to swing him around when the team he's rooting for makes a goal.
As the night progresses Nick stops smiling at the messages he gets. His lips part when he reads them, a light pink blush overtaking his cheeks every once in a while, and sucks on his bottom lip when he replies.
He stops laughing at Monroe's comments but still manages a smile and sometimes a little chuckle. He goes to bed right after the game and Monroe can hear his feet as he walks across his bedroom above him.
The house is quiet enough that Monroe hears the water run when Nick brushes his teeth, hears the dresser open when Nick pulls out his pajamas, hears the bed shift when he plops down on it.
Monroe almost wishes the house were louder when he can hear Nick's groans and almost wishes the house were quieter when he can't make out the words that Nick says.
"You are awful at this."
"Still better than you."
"I don't have thumbs!"
"Excuses. Escuses. Man up, Monroe! It's just a game."
"Says the man who danced and yelled 'who the man' when he got first place."
"Hey, Princess Peach is cut throat. It took a lot to pass her."
"And it took you how many retries of that level to get past the princess in the pink dress?"
"At least I wasn't still on the first lap."
"I DON'T HAVE THUMBS."
"Yeah, and I don't have a vagina. Doesn't mean I'm bad at- Fuck! Did you see what that asshole just did?!"
"Wait... You're playing Luigi. You bastard! How'd you get that far ahead?"
"What can I say? My pages are pretty damn dextrous."
"Me dick, you asshole."
It was silent for all of three seconds before Nick burst into peels of laughter that had him fall off the couch.
"What are you wearing?"
"... A shirt?"
"I didn't know men's clothes came in that color."
Nick smoothed down his light pink dress shirt with one hand and checked himself in the mirror one last time.
"Pink is a very manly color."
"Sure, it is."
"Besides it looks nice on me."
"Yes, it does."
"Anyway, I should be home later. Do you want me to leave the TV on for you?"
"No. Just leave the curtains up."
"Ok. Well, wish me luck."
"Luck for what?"
Nick grinned, winked at Monroe, and left the house.
In the empty house Monroe spoke to no one, his voice quiet.
"What if I don't want to wish you luck with him?"
It's been dark for hours by the time Monroe hears the back door open. There's quiet talking and Monroe doesn't recognize one of the voices. The door shuts softly and it's briefly silent. Monroe hears the fridge open and close, the cap of two bottles popped off. The clink of glass. More quiet talking. The voice Monroe doesn't recognize is deep and confident with a distinct flirty edge. Nick's usually light and playful voice is deeper than normal. The playfulness is still there but it's taken on an edge that Monroe doesn't recognize.
Monroe hears the bottles set down on the counter and it's quiet again, the only sounds the shuffle of clothes and feet. He hears a grunt and then heavy breathing. Someone gasps and then Nick is laughing, dark and reveling. The laugh is cut off into a groan and it is now that Nick talks loud enough for Monroe to hear.
"Ohfuck, yes. Please, yes. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Ohyesfuckplease."
If Monroe were still a real man he would be leaving right now. He wouldn't be stuck sitting on a table listening to Nick get hot and heavy, as they say. But he isn't a real man anymore and he has no choice but to sit there and listen to Nick pant and groan in time to the rough sound of clothes against clothes and wet mouths doing a million possible things, each of which Monroe pictures in too perfect detail.
Nick gasps again, his voice impossibly higher and lower at the same time. He moans and the other man laughs in a low tone.
"Upstairs. Ohhhfuck. Upstairs now please."
The other man says something but his voice is too low pitched to carry all the way to Monroe. It's quiet again, Nick's breathing has calmed and Monroe can hear one set of feet make their way out of the kitchen. He wonders about that briefly but then they've walked into sight and it makes sense.
Nick has his legs wrapped around the man's waist (and even in the dark Monroe can tell it's Jonathan "Call Me Eddie" Edecker). Nick has two fistfuls of that shiny auburn hair in his hands and his pink mouth is busy doing something against Eddie's that makes tiny obscene wet noises. Eddie has his (huge fucking) hands on Nick's ass and he's walking them steadily towards the stairs. From his position, Monroe can see Eddie's fingers dig into that dip of flesh where ass meets thigh and, distantly, he marvels at the way Nick seems to convulse against Eddie.
Eddie groans and pushes Nick against the wall, his hips jerk forward and Nick's head falls back with a thump against the wall.
Eddie attaches his mouth to Nick's throat and Nick lets out a quiet, almost reverent "fuck" while gripping at whatever he can reach.
It seems to Monroe that it takes them ages to get up the stairs and out of his line of sight.
It's unfortunate that they never get out of hearing range.
Monroe wishes there was another way he could have learned that Nick was a screamer.
In the morning Nick shuffles down the stairs looking dopily smug. He has a hickey in that corner where prominent neck tendon meets collarbone and a slightly stiff walk. He smiles sleepily at Monroe as he picks him up.
It's an automatic action when Nick wakes up; find Monroe and carry him around until he's fully awake. There have been mornings where Nick has fallen back asleep on Monroe and didn't wake up until Monroe woke him. Usually he'd slap him or ruffle all of his pages quickly while yelling. This morning, Monroe is silent. Nick is too preoccupied with a review of the night before to notice.
Silently, Nick makes himself coffee and stands in front of the kitchen window, watching the morning unfold while he drinks. Monroe is about to speak when the thumps of someone walking down the stairs interrupt him.
"Morning." Eddie strides into the kitchen, confident and easy in his gait. Monroe hates him.
"Mmm. Morning." Nick smiles up at him, drifting away from the window to unabashedly check Eddie out in the morning light. Monroe hates this guy so much.
"What did you just say?"
"I thaid shud ub."
"Would you right that down? I'm still not quite making it out."
Nick sniffles angrily and half heartedly throws his tissue at Monroe.
"You're a louthy frien-dah-" Nick sneezes, looking dazed for a couple of seconds before sniffling and grabbing another tissue.
"I'm a fantastic friend. It's not my fault you're a walking biohazard."
Nick buries himself further under his mountain of blankets until only his red and puffy eyes are showing. He glares at Monroe. A muffled sniffle makes its way out of the blankets and Nick shivers.
Monroe's pages are over-flowing with cold and flu remedies. He can't help it for some reason but he stops himself from turning to the chapter devoted to what his mother used to do when he was sick.
Nick pushes one hand out of his blanket fort and grabs the remote control. He clicks the channel over to the Golden Girls. Nick falls asleep slowly, his head nodding underneath all of his blankets and his eyes fighting to stay open.
In his sleep, Nick turns on the couch, burrowing against the couch back. One of his many blankets falls off and he shivers, mouth open and lips chapped. He's sweating and feeble.
Nick shivers harder and Monroe shivers too. His pages shuffle quickly, his whole binding seems to shake. Next thing he knows he's kneeling down next to the couch, pulling Nick's blanket back onto him and touching his hand to Nick's hot forehead. Nick mumbles discontentedly in his sleep and pushes his head against Monroe's hand.
Monroe pets Nick's hair back from his face, murmuring softly an old lullaby he learned when he was young.
Nick shivers and curls up tighter.
"The Notebook? Really, Monroe?"
"You're the one who left it on Lifetime."
Nick plops down next to him and sighs. They watch together, Nick unable to hold in his comments about the stupidity of the leading couple. He sits through and watches the whole thing with Monroe anyway.
Later they go into the kitchen and Nick props Monroe up on his stand and turns to make himself dinner. While he waits for the water to boil, he chops up zucchini, humming a song he can't get out of his head. He doesn't know where it came from. He hardly notices Monroe humming along. It just seems natural to him.
Nick doesn't go out for his birthday. He doesn't tell Monroe it's his birthday. They have dinner as usual and watch TV together until it's late. Nick closes Monroe and carries him upstairs instead of leaving Monroe on the dinning room table like normal.
Monroe is confused but goes along, sort of used to being dragged all over the place by now.
When Nick asks him to sing Happy Birthday, Monroe complies. Nick curls up around Monroe and falls asleep with his hand resting on Monroe.
The alarm clock flickers when it turns to one o'clock. Monroe shivers again, groaning.
He wraps his shaking arms around a sleeping Nick and kisses the top of his head. He runs his hands up and down Nick's back as Nick presses closer, practically curling up on top of Monroe.
"Happy Birthday, Nick."
Chapter 5: Monroe Sits Forgotten On The Couch
Nick stands in the shower with his head thrown back and his eyes closed, letting the water beat against his neck. He hears the shower curtain open behind him. Large hands steer him around and he lets out a contented grunt when his head hits a firm chest. Eddie's hands run up and down his back.
They kiss under the spray of water and Nick finds this to be an excellent way to circumvent morning breath.
Eddie's hand wraps around Nick's dick and Nick's breath catches. Eddie kisses him harder. Nick brings his hands up, intent on running his hands on as much skin as he can. Eddie pulls back and shakes his head.
"No. Just... just stand there."
"I think I can do that."
Eddie grins, large and brilliant. Maybe it's the twist of his wrist or his smile but whatever the reason Nick's breath catches again. Eddie steps close again and slowly kisses Nick.
Nick stands there, shivering under the hot spray of water, pouring all he can into what little contact he has. It feels like he's floating with nothing to ground him but the rub of whiskers against his mouth and the pull of a roughly calloused hand against his cock.
Monroe has never seen Nick this chipper in the morning ever. Alert, yes. But bouncing down the stairs with this stupid grin on his face? No. Nick picks up Monroe and carries him into the kitchen.
Eddie is close behind. It is automatically a bad morning. Adorably smiling Nick be damned.
The two make breakfast together and it is sickening.
Nick bumps into Eddie on his way to set the orange juice on the table and the smile at each other and it's shy and sweet and a little tentative and damn it all Monroe hates everything.
Nick is moping. He knows he is. He really wishes he could help it but he can't. It's stupid, too, he knows. It's his day off so instead of shaving and putting on jeans he puts on his comfiest pair of flannel pajama pants and pulls on a black thermal shirt that Eddie left on Nick's bed post a week ago.
A week ago being the last day he saw him.
Nick hates the Smoky Mountains and Tennessee and stupid camping trips and Eddie's family's tradition of going there every year.
He touches his neck where the faintest traces of a hickey still reside.
"What would happen if I wrote in you?"
"Why would you do that?"
"I dunno. Just curious. Has anyone ever written in you before?"
"No. I don't think they saw much point."
"We should try it."
"I'd rather not."
"Why? Come on, it'll be fun."
"You have a screwed up definition of fun."
"How is that screwed up?"
"You want to possible mar your friend permanently with a substance that you have no idea what it may do to them."
"Don't be so dramatic."
"What if it won't come off?"
"That would be weird."
"I don't want 'Nick was here' written across me."
"I could just draw a heard with 'Nick + Monroe 4Ever' if that'll make you happier."
"What are you thirteen?"
"If I were my thirteen year old self I'd probably have just set you on fire."
"What is wrong with you?"
Nick just grinned at Monroe.
Nick stills at the sound of a car pulling into the driveway. He looks out the window. It's a muddy green Jeep.
He leaps over the back of the couch and runs out the front door. Eddie has just made it around his car when Nick stops in the open door.
They grin at each other.
Nick's grin turns a little mischievous and Eddie's grin grows. Eddie strides across the lawn and Nick is flying down the steps and across the grass, barefoot, to meet him.
Nick jumps and laughs, wrapping his legs around Eddie who caught him near perfectly. They kiss like that.
"That was quite a welcoming."
"Oh, I haven't given you a welcoming yet."
Eddie walks them easily back into the house. Inwardly, Nick thrills over how strong Eddie is. Nick wraps his arms tight around Eddie's neck and buries his face in his neck, feeling Eddie's soft hair graze against his face. Eddie kicks the door closed and then spins them.
Nick laughs and throws his head back.
They kiss again, pausing only to let out knowing grins and short laughs. And yes, Nick wants more, so much more. He wants them to be upstairs, already naked and breathing hard. He can feel that Eddie wants the same but it's so nice to just be near him again that he's happy like this.
Eddie walks them to the stairs but doesn't climb them. Instead he sits down. Nick rearranges himself so that he's sitting in Eddie's lap.
They stay like that for a while, talking in between kisses, their hands roaming over clothes and skin idly.
Monroe sits forgotten on the couch.
"So do I ever get to meet your mystery friend or am I to be left in the not-worthy-of-friends category for all of eternity?"
"Well, I've met your partner, Hank, and the guys from your work but I've never met your friend."
"You mean Monroe?"
"Yeah, him. Do I get to meet him?"
"He's... He's kind of... I don't know."
"What is he like your secret boyfriend who you're cheating on with me?"
Nick rolled on top of Eddie and began kissing along his neck.
"Are you trying to distract me?"
"I don't know." Nick nibbled on Eddie's ear. "Is it working?"
Eddie groaned. "Yes, it is."
"It's kind of funny."
"That you have a friend named Monroe."
"Well, my name's Monroe."
"I thought your name was Jonathan."
"Nah, it's Monroe. Jonathan is my middle name."
"Monroe Jonathan Edecker?"
"You sound so confused."
Eddie kissed Nick's forehead and pulled him closer.
"My parents call me Jonathan so I go by that and everybody else calls me Eddie."
"And how did Eddie come about?"
"It's a stupid story."
"Doesn't matter. You've caught my interest."
"You won't let this go now, will you?"
Nick sat up. "Nope and you know how I am about mysteries."
Eddie sighed and sat up.
"On my first day of high school I sat by this girl and somehow she read my name wrong and thought I was Eddie. I hated it for a long time but then it grew on me. Happy?"
"You know, as pretty as I am, my greatness goes deeper than just my face."
Eddie sat up and overtly checked Nick out.
"Oh, I know it does."
Nick smiled and playfully pushed Eddie.
"Now look who's trying to distract who."
Eddie crawled over Nick, crowding him back against the headboard. His mouth hovered close to but not quite touching Nick's. When he spoke, his voice and eyes are full of thrillingly dark things.
"Is it working?"
Nick's eyes crinkled in a smile and he tilted his chin up. Eddie kissed Nick lightly once.
"How about we make porn and not chit-chat."
Eddie pressed his lips hard and quick to Nick's.
"Mmm, as much as I love the thought... I have to say no."
Eddie sat back on his heels and sighed heavily.
"Is it really that important? It's just a nick-name."
"It's just a story, Eddie. One I want to hear. What's wrong with sharing?"
"It's just a friend of yours, Nick. One I want to meet. What's wrong with that?"
"Fine, you want to know about Monroe? He's a recluse. He only recently became my friend after my last surviving relative died. He lived with her for a long time. He doesn't like other people. Now you go."
Eddie glared at him half heartedly and sighed.
"The girl who mis-read my name?"
"She was my high school sweetheart. Her name was Angelina and she called me Eddie. That's where it comes from."
"...... So you've had me calling you by the name your ex-girlfriend gave you."
"This is why I didn't share it."
"Because you thought I'd get weirded out that I've been calling out her nick-name for you during sex?"
Nick tried to frown, he really did. Eddie looked so flustered and defensive. Sort of like a pouting puppy. Then he couldn't help it and he started laughing.
Nick didn't reply, to busy crying with laughter.
"What's so funny?"
"Oh darling baby, what do you think all of my lover's have called me?"
Eddie blinked, silent.
"They've all called me Nick. Guess what my first name is?"
"Nicholas. Why would I get upset at you over something that common?"
"You wouldn't be the first..."
Eddie smiled and crawled back up the bed.
Chapter 6: In Dreams
"You ever have weird dreams?"
"Yeah. Doesn't everyone?"
"I mean like really weird dreams."
"One time I dreamed my aunt stabbed me in the hand. Why?"
"I've had the same dream my whole life."
"The same exact one?"
"No... More like it's one dream that I fall back into every night."
"What happens in the dream?"
"Promise not to think I'm crazy?"
"You just licked my butthole. I think we're past that."
Eddie generously ignored Nick's crass statement.
"I dream I'm a book."
Eddie punched Nick in the arm.
"Shut up! It's not. I'm a magical book."
Nick looked down at Eddie where he rested against Nick's chest.
"A magical book."
"I can talk and move myself but not a lot. Like I can't walk around or anything but I can turn my own pages and make stuff appear on them. It's neat but... in my dreams I'm always miserable."
Nick was silent as he listened to Eddie, dragging his fingers across Eddie's back absently.
"Like I hate being a book but I don't have any control over when I become a man. And I've never dreamed about anybody I knew before recently."
"Yeah? Who've you been dreaming about? Is it that sexy antiquer in Monterey you've told me about?"
"I didn't say he was sexy! I said he was interesting."
"Uh huh. I know what that means."
"He's nearly eighty years old and if you must know I'm far more interested in this other guy."
"Do I know him?"
"You might. See, he works at the police station."
"It's Hank isn't it? I knew you two were too cosy together."
"No, not Hank."
Eddie pushed up from where he lay and kissed Nick's chest.
"Well, you might know him. He's got dark hair, a very nice body, and he's a detective."
"It's Hank! That bitch stole my man!"
Eddie laughed and kissed Nick.
"He's a very handsome detective."
"I'm going to have to speak to Hank about this."
"He's a bit on the short side, though."
Eddie kissed that spot below Nick's ear that always made him breath in a slow gasp.
"Lately, I've been having these dreams about him."
Nick smiled and rolled them over.
"You've been dreaming about me?"
"Doing the most ridiculous things."
Nick grinned brightly and kissed Eddie.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I don't do ridiculous things."
"Keep telling yourself that, dear."
"FATALITY! HA! CRAM THAT INTO YOUR BOOKMARK AND SMOKE IT!"
"You are far too excited about this."
"Oh, you're just being a booky downer because you lost."
"I am not."
"You are too."
"Then what about that time you beat me on the Rainbow Road level? You were still gloating about that two weeks later."
"It was quite an accomplishment."
"I was drunk! It wasn't that hard to beat me, all I kept trying to do was ram Princess Peachfuzz off the road."
"I have no thumbs!"
"That's your excuse for everything."
"Did you die your hair?"
"What? No. Why do you ask."
"It's just... less red than it used to be."
"Weird. I didn't do anything to it."
"It doesn't even look a little bit auburn anymore."
"Is that a problem?"
"No... it just means an end to my streak of red-headed lovers."
"How'd you get here? I swear I left you in the dining room."
"Yes, because in the middle of the night I got up off the table, walked upstairs, and climbed into your bed."
"Must have been why I had that dream."
"It was just a stupid dream. Doesn't matter."
"Oh, come on, tell me."
"Nah, it's embarrassing."
"Dude. You dirt deviled me yesterday. How more embarrassing could it get?"
"I had a dream that you had a body and climbed into my bed and we cuddled, ok?"
Monroe snickered awkwardly.
"Because the first thing I'd do when I had a body is come here to keep a sleeping Grimm company."
"It was just a dream."
"So, what do you do in your dreams?"
"I don't know. Talk mostly, I guess. There's really not much a book can do."
"Well, what happens in your dreams?"
"I used to sit in this awful trailer and give information to this woman. Before that it was this couple. I didn't like any of them and they all hated me."
"What about now?"
"Remember that promise about not thinking me crazy?"
"I made no such thing. I just implied it was too late for that."
"Do you want to have sex tonight?"
Nick just flashed him a playful smile and winked. Eddie sighed.
"You're lucky I'm so fond of you."
"You looooove me."
"I wouldn't go that far."
"You want to have my baaaaabies."
"That's not scientifically possible."
"You want to kiiiiiiiiiiiss me."
"Not right now I don't."
"You want to fuuuuck me until I scream."
Eddie opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, and shook his head, smiling. Nick waggled his eyebrows and bolted off the couch. Eddie gave pursuit instinctively, following the enticing sound of Nick's laugh up the stairs.
"Do you dream?"
"I don't sleep."
"Then what do you do all night?"
"I don't know. Sometimes I just sort of... drift. I guess you could call it dreaming."
"What do you dream about?"
"Why do you ask?"
"I dream I'm a man."
"Like memories from when you were a man?"
"No... uh... more like I dream I'm a man now."
"What do you do?"
"I don't know. Stuff."
"No, really, Monroe. Tell me."
"Same things I do when I'm awake except with a body, I guess."
"So you sit on my kitchen counter and tell me I'm a terrible cook?"
"If you must know I dream I work in an antique shop."
"You have boring dreams."
"Says the man who dreams he cuddles with strange men."
"You're not strange."
One of Monroe's pages perk. Nick has learned that that's Monroe's disbelieving eyebrow raise gesture.
"One time I saw a pop-up book about poop. Now that was a strange book."
"So what do you and I do in your crazy book dreams?"
"Normal stuff, I guess."
"Oh right. The same stuff every man and talking magical book duo do."
"Like they-call-me-Eddie stupid?"
"I help you solve supernatural crimes and sometimes we play video games together."
"You're a book that plays video games?"
"Yes, I'm a book who plays video games."
"Like what games?"
"Just regular games. Mario Kart, Mortal Combat... Why?"
"So, what exactly does your curse entail?"
"Me being trapped inside a book."
"Is that it? Like no way to get out or any sort of loophole?"
"Curses aren't legal contracts."
"I don't know, they sound pretty much the same."
"I'm to be trapped inside a book until absolution gained."
"So I can forgive you and you can go free."
"The only one who can forgive me is someone who loves me truly."
"Well, I love you, Monroe."
Monroe sighed. "Not like that. Besides, there's more to it. Even if you did love me truly you'd still have to find my chimera, get it to love you and love it back and then after that you'd have to facilitate our amalgamation."
"Amalgamation. Our uniting."
"That sounds awfully convoluted."
"Which is why I'm forever trapped inside a book."
"Because I could never love you?"
"Well, I love you."
"I really do."
Monroe sighed again.
"Truly as in being my one true love. I'm talking soulmates, Nick. Not bromantic love."
"So I can't be your true love? What? Is it because I'm a Grimm?"
"A blutbad and a Grimm fall in love. Sounds like the beginning to a bad joke."
"Fuck. Oh, oh, Monroe!"
Eddie stopped, sighed, and sat up. Nick propped himself up on his elbows.
"What? Why'd you stop? I was really liking that thing with your tongue..."
"The first time I ignored it. I figured you know he's probably just testing out my first name but at this point I just have to ask."
Nick sat up slowly, frowning.
"Are you calling out my name or are you screaming some other man's name durring sex?"
Nick blushed, his eyes sliding sideways. Eddie sighed and ran a hand through his hair.
"I can't believe this."
"I'm saying your name. I'm not... I'm not into Monroe like that."
"You don't even sound like you believe yourself."
"It's not like that. Trust me."
"How can I when I haven't even met the guy you claim to be just friends with."
"Are you implying that I'm a cheat?"
"Maybe! I don't know. It just seems weird. You hang out with him all the time, you talk about him constantly. It's always 'Monroe said this' or 'Monroe said that.' I've texted you at two o'clock in the fucking morning and you were 'just hanging with Monroe.' It's pretty weird how he seems to be such a big part of your life and you don't want us to meet."
Nick climbed off the bed and grabbed his jeans.
"Fine! You want to meet him then let's go. I'll introduce the two of you together."
"What? Now? It's eleven o'clock at night."
Nick threw Eddie's shirt at him.
"He'll be up. Come on. I probably should have done this weeks ago anyway."
Chapter 7: Blutbad Meat
The door slams open, rattling the glass in it.
"Nick? What're you doing home? Thought you were staying at Eddie's tonight."
"I was. He's here. Thought it was time you two met."
Monroe's pages fluttered.
"Is that really a good idea?"
Nick stood in the middle of the dining room, staring at an empty chair. There was no one else in the room but Eddie and Nick. Eddie was confused and.... not confused at the same time. Which confused him more.
Nick grabbed Eddie's arm and pulled him in front of the table.
"Monroe, Eddie. Eddie, Monroe."
"This is a bad idea, Nick."
"Where are you?"
"He's right in front of you, Eddie. Right there on the table."
"What? There isn't anyone on the table."
"Well, as far as first meetings go you're still ahead of Nick on the not being as insulting as possible end."
The pages of the book fluttered strangely and when it hit Eddie he felt like his stomach dropped out and was filled up with something strange but fitting.
"So you're trapped in a book."
"And fairy tale monsters exist."
"Along with other things."
"I think I need a drink."
Monroe laughed and it sounded as bitter as it probably was.
"I can't believe I was worried that Nick was cheating on me with you."
Monroe laughed again, weakly. Eddie felt a sense of longing suffuse his body like he had given up on something he wanted more than breathing.
Nick sets a beer in front of Monroe's spot on the couch.
"Must you do that?"
"Taunt him like that?"
"I always set a beer out for Monroe."
"You ever think it might be cruel?"
"How is it cruel? He's my friend. I'm providing my friend with a beverage."
"You mean you're reminding him he's just a book and can't actually enjoy it."
"You and him both get your panties all twisted up about the weirdest things."
"Nick, you're being an asshole."
"Ugh. Whatever. Take my turn, Monroe. I'm going to check on the food."
"You don't have to do that, you know."
"He was being a dick. Why're you mad at me?"
"Because I like that he brings me a drink."
"Why? It just seems like he's rubbing it in that you're a book."
"Because I like that he forgets sometimes that I can't drink or eat."
The room is silent, save for the rustle of Monroe's pages and in the background the sound of Nick grumbling as he banged quietly about in the kitchen.
"What do you mean what?"
"Don't give me that! Both of you are looking at me with your 'Nick's an idiot' expressions."
"I don't know what you mean"
"I don't know what you mean"
"You guys said that at the same time."
"You two are creepy."
"You're just full of compliments tonight."
"You're just full of compliments tonight."
"Argh!" Nick fled with the box of pizza into the kitchen.
"Oh, Doctor. You're so handsome. Yes, I am. Thank you."
"Oh, Doctor. You're so handsome. Yes, I am. Thank you."
They both laugh at the same time with the same tempo and pitch.
"Wow, this is actually kind of creepy."
"Wow, this is actually kind of creepy."
"But still cool."
"But still cool."
Eddie clears his throat and gets off the couch to go retrieve Nick and the pizza.
"Ok. So. Next add the dry ingredients together in the mixer."
"Woah! How many times have I told you to be careful about the flour?"
"Ha, sorry, man. Forgot where I put you."
"It's really hard to get out..."
Nick pauses in mixing together the dry ingredients.
"But, no. I have to be careful of flour around Monroe."
"Have you been hit on the head? I am Monroe."
"No, you're Eddie. Monroe is on the couch watching Golden Girls."
"Argh. Some of my pages are sticking."
"Wasn't me. I haven't been near you with anything sticky in days."
"No. I mean the words won't move on some of them anymore."
"Yeah? What do they say?"
"Just stuff about Wessen."
"And they won't move?"
"What do you think sticking means?"
"Dude. Dude! Turn off your flashlight!"
"Witch. Witch. Witch. Ahhhhh witch."
"Fuck, run! Runrunrunrun"
"Ahhh hahahahahahaha. Fuck! Jockey's got me! Help!"
"Ugh. Why do they always go after you?"
"It's my animal appeal. They can't help but want a little bit of blutbad meat."
Chapter 8: Judgy Pages
Bracketed text [Is text messages]
"Hey, Monroe, do you know how to fry tofu?"
"Ah! What? Jeeze, Nick. You didn't have to shout."
"You weren't responding to me."
"Sorry. I was, uh, I was dreaming."
"What were you dreaming about?"
"On the list of things I believe your last sentence does not appear."
"I dreamt I was inspecting a new clock for my collection."
[You know I get suspicious now whenever you send me one word greetings.]
[Nice to hear from you, too. ;-p]
[If you're having another "situation" in your pants you'll have to wait.]
[:-( I'm at work anyway. So much paperwork.]
[So this would be a bad time to tell you about my new boxer briefs?]
[Are they plaid?]
[No, they're sort of a charcoal color.]
[I bet they look really nice on you. :)]
[They're a little short, though. Keep bunching up under my ass.]
[I could help you with that... ;-)]
[So I took them off an hour ago.]
[You keep replacement underwear at work?]
[You're not wearing any underwear.]
[Just me in my jeans.]
[You're just saying that to tease me.]
A few minutes later Nick's phone vibrates and he glances at it briefly in the middle of reading a report, pauses, and snatches his phone off the desk where he set it.
His face flash floods with a blood as he stares at the screen.
Vaguely, he's aware of Hank asking him if he's alright but all he can hear is the blood rushing so quickly in his head that he sways a little bit.
[Did you send me a picture of your junk while you're at work?]
[I believe I just sent you evidence, Detective Burkhardt. Now tell me what your keen police eye sees in this photo.]
[All I can see is your cock. Your fucking lovely cock nestled so nicely in your slacks.]
[Notice the lack of boxer briefs?]
[Fuck, I just want your cock so much.]
[Is that any way for a respected police detective to talk?]
[Would you still respect me if I were on my knees begging you to fuck me?]
[I'd respect the hell out of you.]
"Will you at least lift your feet?"
There's a grunt from under the pile of couch pillows on the other end. Eddie sighs.
Another grunt emits from the pillows.
A muffled word accompanied by a kicking foot which is followed immediately by a pained noise. Eddie kneels next to the couch.
"I really am sorry, baby."
Nick flails out his hand and blindly swats at Eddie. Eddie captures his hand and kisses it.
"Would giving you a back rub make it better?"
"That's how this whole thing started!"
"No it didn't."
One of Nick's eyes glares heartily at him from under the pillow fort.
"Unless massaging you from the inside with my dick counts as a back rub this is not how it started."
Nick just continues to glare. Eddie feels entirely at fault.
"I said I'm sorry... Many times! Here, let me just rub it better..."
A few moments later, Nick melts a little and moans.
A little more than a few more moments later, Eddie has shoved the coffee table aside, Nick has his knees over Eddies shoulders, and Eddie's fingers are working him open.
"So, how did you hurt your back, Mister... Burkhardt?"
"Uh... I was doing.. heavy lifting?"
"Well, tell Heavy Lifting to go easy on you for a while. No strenuous activity for a month. Especially nothing that contorts your body into uncomfortable positions. Use a heating pad every evening and whenever your back starts to hurt...."
Hank snickers again from his side of the desk.
Nick just groans and wonders how hard it would be to brain himself to death with his own desk.
"How does this feel?"
"Weird and warm."
"What I meant was how's your back."
"I thought the doctor said you couldn't."
"But it's sore...."
Eddie sighs. Nick hums happily.
"You know this massage oil kind of smells like pie the hotter it gets."
"Like what kind-- oh fuck. Jesus! Eddiiieee. Ohhhh ah!"
"Tastes kind of like pie too."
Nick pants into the crook of his arm and twitches.
"Argh! Ah ah ah ah."
"Shit fuck, you ok?"
"Yeah, I, uh, think we may need to slow down a bit."
"What? Not the college cock slut you used to be?"
"How'd you know that?"
"What? You told me. Remember? You said I was looking at you with my judgy pages."
"Judgy pages... With your judgy pages?"
"Face. I meant face."
Chapter 9: Two Against One
It's an awkward silence waiting for Nick.
"So... what, uh, what happened to your neck?"
Eddie palms the welt streaking down from the back of his neck.
"Nick and I were, uh... and there was this tree and-"
"That is definitely enough information!"
The awkward silence returns with a vengeance.
"You love him, don't you?"
"Of course I love him. He's a good friend."
"You know I don't mean like that, Monroe."
"I... yeah. I do."
"Why don't you tell him?"
"Because I'm just a book and he's sort of, you know, taken."
"I wouldn't mind, you know."
"You're just saying that because I'm a book."
"Maybe, yeah. It wouldn't be the first poly relationship I've been in. Though usually I'm just a third sex wheel so not sure how much that counts to poly so much as open but... yeah."
"Why would you say this?"
"Because with you it doesn't feel like another man wants to steal my guy. It feels like, I don't know, right. I've never felt this strongly for anyone before but before I was introduced to you it was like there was this chunk missing from us."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
They both know he's lying.
"So... let me get this straight cause I don't want you two to murder me if I get it wrong. You want to date me and you... my boyfriend are not only ok with this but convinced him to ask me?"
"Can I, uh, can I have some time to think about this?"
The door clicks shut behing Nick.
"He's not going to go for this."
"Have faith in him, Monroe."
Monroe sighs. They both know it's not Nick that Monroe doesn't believe in, it's just easier to say it.
"So where does one take a book on a date?"
Nick ruffles his fingers through the bottom corner of Monroe's pages. Monroe generously ignores Nick's question.
"A library? That's where you books go to socialize, right?"
Monroe has found that he becomes a lot more generous when Nick sets him on his lap and fidgets with his pages, petting him, turning pages at random, scratching at invisible dirt...
"Come on, Nick, it's time to get up."
Nick pulls Monroe closer and nuzzles his face into Monroe's binding.
"You're not speaking English, you know."
Monroe sighs in a way that indicates he'd probably be smiling if he had a mouth and runs one of his pages across the arm wrapped around him.
"You really do need to get up."
"Listen to Eddie. He's got some words of wisdom."
Eddie chews lightly on Nick's shoulder.
"You'll be late for work..."
"Grrrr nnnoo warm. Comfy. No such thing work."
"Monroe! Progress! We've graduated to real words."
"Maybe one day he'll speak in coherent sentences."
"If we're lucky."
"Yes, we know. You do it quite a lot."
"I AM NOT A WEAPON!"
"Can you believe he did that?"
"No, I cannot! He just bludgeoned you!"
"With you! How ludicrous!"
Nick rolls off onto the floor and drags himself to the bathroom.
Chapter 10: Rough Patch
"I still can't believe you're OK with this."
Eddie laced his fingers with Nick's and kissed the back of his hand.
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"I don't know... cause I'm dating another person and we never really talked about uh..."
"Well, I didn't want to scare you off."
"You thought polyamory was what was going to scare me off?"
"That or my raging sex drive and short temper."
"I just don't get what you get out of me dating someone else."
"Oh you're just full of it. You're waiting for the perfect opportunity to tell me about some twink you have on the side, aren't you?"
"Haha. No. I don't have anyone but you."
"You haven't even looked at anyone else?"
"Here I was falling in love with another man while you've been faithful to me. I feel like such a creep."
"You're not a creep. Love is love is love is love. Though if it makes you feel better I have had a crush on someone else."
"What a beautiful sunset."
"Who was it?"
"Don't you love how the sun peaks through the trees there?"
Nick gently pushes Eddie against a tree, smiling up at him.
"Come on, tell me. It's not like I can get that upset over it. I'm dating a book, remember?"
"I just don't want you to get all suspicious and jealous and stuff."
Nick raises an imperious eyebrow.
"Ok. That's not a very valid concern with you but I've had it before!"
Nick trails kisses down Eddie's neck.
Nick's mouth makes obscene noises as Eddie's adam's apple.
The noises stopped. Eddie pants, closing his eyes.
"Sebastien as in.... the Sebastien?"
"Yes! Ok. I have a huge crush on the eighty year old antiquer from Monterey."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I don't know. Maybe because I spend several days sleeping in his house every month?"
"So... did you two ever....?"
"No. I didn't figure it out until we started dating."
"Can we change the subject now?"
"I don't care. Just anything else."
"You ever wonder why dogs lick pee? Like it doesn't taste that good."
"I really don't want to know how you know what dog pee tastes like."
Nick just grins and swings their arms as they start walking down the trail again.
"Do you two ever do anything but flirt?"
"Yeah. We do lots of things that aren't flirting."
"Sex counts as flirting."
Monroe flicks a page out in an irritated gesture.
"I flirt with you, too, Monroe."
"That doesn't count."
"... why not?"
"It's not like it's serious. I don't actually have handsome pages."
"You have the handsomest pages of any book I've ever seen."
Monroe puffs his pages up and flattens them quickly- his version of a disgusted face.
"Eddie, will you give us a moment?"
"Yeah. Uh... I'll just... take my computer and go into the office. Got some work I should be doing anyway."
It's silent for several long moments as Eddie gathers his computer, kisses Nick's head, and shuffles quickly out of the room.
"I do think you're handsome, Monroe."
"Dude. I'm a book. It's OK not to think I'm handsome."
Nick gently runs his thumb over Monroe's corner.
"But I do. I love you and I think you're handsome and I want you in my life."
"Yeah, right. Next you'll be telling me you want me to."
"Like you wouldn't fucking believe."
"On the list of things I'll believe that isn't there."
"Oh, Monroe. I do. Very much. But how would we...?"
Monroe slams his own cover shut and refuses to open for the rest of the day.
"It's ok, you know."
Nick kisses Eddie's cheek.
"I really don't mind. In fact, I encourage it."
"I don't even- we were talking about danishes. Where did you hop to from danishes?"
"Honestly, if you want to it's fine. Just, you know, talk to me first?"
"We've talked about this, honey. You have to alert me when you change the topic. Otherwise everything gets all weird."
"I mean, that is, if you still have a crush on him then... you know. It's OK."
"Are you... how did you get to Sebastien from danishes?"
Nick opens his mouth.
"No!" Eddie covers his mouth. "Don't answer that. I don't think I'm brave enough for that."
Nick licks Eddie's palm.
Nick raises an eyebrow.
"Well, it was weird feeling."
Nick raises the other eyebrow.
"Fine. See if I ever lick you again..."
"You and I both know you won't be able to hold up that threat."
"I might. I can control myself, you know."
Eddie simply raises his hand and lightly traces his thumb over Nick's mouth while cupping his jaw.
"Are you saying that if I asked you to open your mouth and stick out your tongue for my cock you wouldn't?"
Nick's lips part and his breath rattles out.
"You are terrible."
"Simply beastly, aint I?"
"Now s-squeeze the- uh... yeah, there and slide your finger..."
"Ohh yes yesyes."
"Are you opened up?"
"N-not all the way."
"My... you look so beautiful like this. Now pinch your nipple and, and put in another finger."
"Fuck. Yes. Oh Monroe."
"Harder. Jesus, you look so gorgeous right now with your fingers in your ass. So pliant. I could do the most terrible things to you."
"Yes, yes, please. Yes, yesyesyes fuck please."
"Another finger. Suck off your free hand- I want you filled at both ends."
"Ohhh fuck. Yes. Oh please."
"Don't you mean 'Please fuck me like the little cock slut I am, Monroe.'?"
Nick gives an open mouth moan around his fingers.
"Please, please fuck me like the little cock slut I am, Monroe."
Monroe growls. Nick shudders and pulls his hand out of his mouth to grab himself.
"Hi, hooney! How's Monterey?"
"Great. I found this beauty of a colonial era dresser. Very good condition."
"I got a deal on those twin tea sets that I told you about."
"I found a motif grandfather clock at an auction that I think I could add to my collection."
"Alright! I told Sebastien about my crush. He was very flattered."
"But he isn't interested in me."
"Oh baby. I'm so sorry."
"It's ok. Really. I- It wasn't that big of a deal anyway."
"Don't lie to me, Eddie. You don't have to."
"So I'm devastated. It's ridiculous. I shouldn't feel this bad about it."
"You liked him. It's O.K. to be devastated."
"I just feel like the biggest, gawky loser on Earth."
"You're not, sweetie."
"I just really liked him, Nick."
"I know... how about I make you a surprise conciliatory prize for when you get back?"
"Yeah? Like what?"
"It's a surprise."
"Can I have a hint?"
"Do you like sundaes?"
"My favorite kind of sundaes are the ones with that magic shell chocolate on it."
Eddie is silent.
"You know, the stuff that hardens after you pour it on top. I always want to suck the chocolate off of the bananas..."
"But I think I've figured out that if I use some of that new throat numbing spray that I'd be able to get it off- no problem."
"THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND."
"Oh, please no."
"TRAVELLED DOWN THE ROAD AND BACK AGAIN."
"Is there any way to get him to stop?"
"YOUR HEART IS TRUE. YOU'RE A PAL AND A CONFIDENT."
"Let's just... go upstairs, shall we?"
"Let's just... go upstairs, shall we?"
"I'M NOT ASHAMED TO SAY."
Eddie picks up Monroe, edging carefully around Nick.
"I HOPE IT WILL ALWAYS STAY THIS WAY."
"This is all your fault."
"Mine? How is it my fault?"
"MY HAT IS OFF. WON'T YOU STAND UP AND TAKE A BOW?"
"You're the one brought home the beer."
"AND IF YOU THREW A PARTY."
"You're the one who mentioned the Golden Girls."
"INVITED EVERYONE YOU KNEW. YOU'D SEE THE BIGGEST GIFT WOULD BE FROM ME."
"Like I expected him to burst into song."
"AND THE CARD ATTACHED WOULD SAY."
"I just wanted him to relax."
"THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND."
"He has had a hard week."
"THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND."
Eddie sets Monroe on the pillow designated his.
"THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND."
"His singing isn't that bad."
"IF IT'S A CAR YOU LACK."
There's a rustling sound from the bed.
"I'D SURELY BUY YOU A CADILAC."
Monroe's pages flutter fervently.
"Oh, not here, please not now."
"WHATEVER YOU NEED. ANYTIME OF THE DAY OR NIGHT."
"Really, Monroe. His singing is just fine."
"I'M NOT ASHAMED TO SAY."
"I HOPE IT WILL ALWAYS STAY THIS WAY."
Eddie yells. Nick thuds off the couch. Monroe grabs at the blankets to cover himself.
Eddie yells again. Nick crashes through the door. Monroe shouts.
"So... you sometimes have a body?"
"And you didn't think this was pertinent information?"
"Well, it's not- it's never permanent. Sometimes I just... change back for the night."
"...Those dreams I had?"
Monroe looks down at his hands.
"He looks like me."
"I can't believe you didn't tell me."
"Why does he look like me. He looks just like me, Nick. Why does Monroe look just like me?"
"Of course he looks like you, Eddie."
"Except for the scars. I have way more scars than you."
"WHY ARE YOU TWO ACTING LIKE IT ISN'T UNBELIEVABLY STRANGE THAT A CURSED BOOK LOOKS JUST LIKE ME."
"You seriously haven't figured it out? I thought everyone figured it out already."
"I'm not a book. I'm a man who was cursed into book shape."
"I would have told you if I thought you didn't know."
"You thought I knew what, Nick?"
"What did I know?"
"You two are- I mean. When I told you about Monroe's curse I thought for sure you would figure it out."
"Figure out what?"
"I totally thought it was obvious after you two started saying things at the same time..."
"PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TELL ME ALREADY."
"You two are- You're-"
"You're me, Eddie and... and I'm you. We're the same person."
"We're the same person."
Nick shivers at the matching tones and timing of Eddie and Monroe saying that last sentence.
"No. I can't. I'm me! I'm Eddie! I'm not- I'm just Eddie..."
"NO! Get away from me. I just- I can't-"
Eddie turns and rushes out of the house.
"That went well."
Monroe stands, his legs shaky, and walks around the bed to Nick.
"I thought he knew..."
Nick steps into Monroe's open arms for the first time and feels as if something settles a little closer to right in his chest.
Monroe kisses the top of Nick's head for the first time and feels heavy and euphoric.
He squeezes his arms around Nick because he can and because he wants to comfort Nick as best he can.
"I thought he knew..."
"I know, my love. I know."
"Should we go after him?"
"No, I don't think that'd be- wise."
Nick nods, his cheek rubbing against Monroe's large chest.
"... maybe you should put some pants on."
Monroe gasps, his eyes sliding shut.
"Oh. That. I, uh, I don't have any pants."
"I don't know how long I'll stay like this."
"I just want-"
"I've never- not since before the curse, that is..."
"You look beautiful."
"I... No, I don't but you... You feel amazing."
"I can't believe this. You're just so- big."
"I mean I'm used to you being small enough to carry not- I'm not talking about your-- Not that it isn't quite nicely sized but-"
"You're smile is amazing."
Monroe's arms flex around Nick and he sways a little.
"Can you what?"
"I've wanted to kiss you for so long, Nick."
"Oh. Of course you can."
With that, and the Golden Girl's theme song stuck in my head, I'm heading to bed. See y'all later.
Chapter 12: Did I Say I'm Just A Boy?
Title taken from Just A Boy by Angus and Julia Stone.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"I don't want to just disappear."
"I mean something, Nick. I'm- I'm real."
"You are, Eddie. You're so very real."
"But if this goes on I'll... I'll die, won't I?"
"I don't know."
"What do you know? Because I- I really need to know things here, Nick. This is my life."
"I don't know what will happen to you. To either of you. I just-"
"I just know that I don't want to live without either of you. I love you, Eddie. And... I love him."
"But is that enough? I could lose everything to this. My life- my memories. I can feel them now, Nick. I can feel them like they're this foreign thing inside my head but it isn't my head. I feel like I'm an intruder in my own body- in my own life."
"I don't know what else I can tell you. I've told you everything I know and everything Monroe knows but there isn't much."
"So I'm just supposed to trust that at the end of this I get to retain my individuality? Will I even get to keep my body? What about my family? My job? My friends? Will they still be mine?"
"I don't know. I hope so. I don't want to lose you."
"If keeping me meant never being held in Monroe's arms would you still want to keep me?"
The silence stretches.
"How could you even ask that?"
"How could I think you wouldn't want me if you didn't get Monroe, too or how could I think to deny Monroe his body?"
"I wish you had a body right now."
"It's not bodies on demand. I can't just make it happen."
"Have you tried?"
"No. I've sat here for decades and didn't even think to try to get a body."
Nick just rubbed his fingers against Monroe's pages and inhaled the musky scent of old book.
"I miss him."
"I don't want to lose him."
"I know, I know."
"I don't want to have to lose either of you."
"Shhh, I know. It's O.K. I'm not going anywhere."
"Is what you've done to me reversible?"
"I didn't do anything."
"Just tell me. Is it?"
"No, I don't know."
"I want this to stop."
"I never wanted this!"
"Shut up! You wished for this! Don't lie to me, we both know that won't work. You wished for this to happen!"
"Yeah, but I-"
"No 'but's, damnit. You wished for this and now when I fall asleep I open my eyes to Nick's cheek pressed against my pages or me sitting on a cold desk or on a stand with him looking at me like- like..."
"And when I open my eyes I'm sitting in an antique store, I'm walking through a book store I've never been into before but that I remember perfectly, I'm t-touching his skin like I've done it hundreds of times before but I've never done that! I've never gripped him in my hands like you have or brushed his hair when he's upset or felt his legs wrap around me or felt the brush of his teeth as he smiles against my neck but you have. You- you've-"
Tense silence fills the interim.
"He's never looked at me like he does you- Like I'm this precious thing, fragile and intractable and ever-endearing- he's never looked at me like that."
"No, he wouldn't treat you like you could break."
"I don't want to lose my identity to lopsided love."
"Damnit, Nick! This is one of those things you have to talk to people about!"
Eddie slams his fist on his dining room table. Nick flinches.
"I'm sorry. I- I thought you two had... talked about it."
"We had... do you even hear yourself? Do you even realize how thin of an excuse that is?"
"I screwed up, O.K? I thought- I was."
"You were what?"
"Because you're the one with something to be afraid of."
"I know what you did now."
"I don't think this can be stopped, can it?"
"No, I don't think so."
"I have to suffer and die because of what you did."
"I know, I'm sorry."
"Don't pretend with me, Monroe. We both know you're not sorry."
"And we both know that won't stop you from killing again."
"I won't- I can't. I-"
"Loving Nick won't stop you from being as blood thirsty as you once were."
"I'm a different man now."
"Keep telling yourself that. Maybe you'll trick yourself into it being true."
"Yes. Yesyesyesyesyes. Oohhhh fuck yes."
Eddie grunts. A vase skitters off the table as Nick's body crashes into it.
Nick moans. Eddie bites Nick's neck hard. Nick whines.
"I want you."
"I want you."
"Eddie. I want you, Eddie." Nick gasps. "Ohh yes. I want you, Eddie."
Eddie bites his lip and flips Nick, pushing his face into the table. He mouths along Nick's spine.
"Then you better start begging."
Nick huffs out a breath, scrabbles against the table, whines.
"Please... please, Eddie."
"Please, Eddie, fuck me, please. Oh fuck, please fuck me. Take me. Please."
"However you want. I don't care. Just fuck me, Eddie. Please, please, pleasepleaseplease."
"If that's what you want."
Eddie bites at Nick's neck all over. Nick groans and clutches at the table.
Eddie sucks livid marks into his neck too high for a shirt collar to hide.
Eddie grabs Nick harder than he thinks; his strength now more than he's used to.
"I don't want to be a murderer."
"I don't want you to be one either."
"I don't want to think people meat tastes good."
"I don't want you to either."
"But... part of me does."
"We're not fit for humanity any longer."
"I don't think I ever was."
"I hurt Nick."
"He... he just let me do it. Why did he let me do it?"
"Because he loves us."
"That's not good enough."
"We're not good enough."
"I was good enough. I used to be good enough."
"You ruined me."
"Will... will it get easier if I just let it finish?"
"I don't know. Maybe."
"I don't want to hurt him again."
"It might... it might give you my control."
"Might. What if it gives me your blood lust instead?"
"Then I'm sorry."
"Will I... Will I become... what you are?"
"I don't know."
Do you believe that there's treasures in the ocean?
Did I say I'm just a boy?
One kiss from you and I'm drunk up on your potion
That big old smile is all you wore
Girl, you make me want to feel
The things I've never felt before
Girl, you make me want to feel
Did I say I'm just a boy?
Did I say I'm just a boy?
You hold me to that