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Crown of Love

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“You’re a monster,” I growl, looking up into the mirror.

I’m in a staring match with myself; red eyes are staring back at me. They’re dark, angry. They aren’t mine. They belong to someone else, a stranger, a monster. I open my mouth, checking my teeth; still sharp, still taste of blood. I growl.

You should feel remorse – you just killed a man, just ripped his throat right out. He got exactly what he deserved. You should’ve made it slower, more painful. She deserved to be avenged. You loved her…once upon a time. That means something. But what will he think? You don’t have to tell him. He probably already knows. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t called. He will, though. He always does.

I peel off my clothes; they’re soaked with blood. I hold onto my flannel, thumb rubbing over the bloody handprint she left. You should have saved her. I toss it in the trash along with my other tattered clothes. I look over myself in the mirror; my skin is marred, bruised. I’ve barely gotten my color back. Apparently I’d turned white as a sheet before she resuscitated me.

The water in the shower is too hot, almost burning. It doesn’t matter. I just need it off: all the blood, the dirt, the filth. I scrub until it hurts. It doesn’t matter how much soap I use or how hard I scrub, I don’t feel clean. Eventually I get out, dry off, tend to the cuts. I rub salve wherever I can reach and pull on some pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. No sooner do I walk into the kitchen, is there a knock on the door. It’s like he knows.

He knocks again. “Monroe, I know you’re home,” he calls through the door.

I grumble, giving in and opening the door. “What?”

“I…I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

“I’m fine.” I go to shut the door but he throws out his arm and stops it.

I let him push his way in, not really putting up much of a fight. There’s no use. You’re stuck with him. Could be worse, I guess.

“I’m really sorry, Monroe.”

“You didn’t even like her.”

“Doesn’t matter. You do…did…and I care about you.” He steps closer and puts his hand on my shoulder. “I may not have liked her or the things she’s done, but she died saving someone I care about. “

Damn it. I lean into his touch and his arms wrap around my middle.

“Monroe, talk to me.” His voice is a quiet whisper.

I pull back, stepping away. He looks up at me with wide eyes and I turn away.

“I know…what you did.”

I don’t say anything; I wait to see where he’s going.

“Monroe.” He sighs. “Monroe, would you just look at me?”

Reluctantly I turn around. I avoid eye contact until he steps towards me, forcing me to look at him.

“All I have to say is that if I were in your shoes, and you’d been in hers, I’d have done far worse to that bastard. I’ll see you later, okay? Call me if you need anything.”

What?

Before I can say anything, he’s turning and walking towards the door. I know I should go after him – I want to go after him – but my body is frozen. He knows what I did…and doesn’t care. He’d have done worse? Nick…

“Nick...” I finally move, trying to catch him, but he’s already out the door. Go after him. I grab my coat and head out the door. Hopping in my little car I drive after him. What did he mean by that? I pull up in front of his house and knock on the door.

He eyes me with what looks like surprise; he probably hadn’t expected me to follow him.

“Uh, hey.” He steps aside, letting me in. He doesn’t seem very sure of himself. He’s probably too used to this being the other way around.

“I just…you left kind of abruptly.”

“Yeah. Sorry about that.” He looks down at the floor, his cheeks a little red.

“I never got a chance to ask you what you meant when you said you’ve have done worse.”

He furrows his brows. “What? You want a play-by-play of what I’d do? Monroe, I can’t even fathom what I’d do to someone if they…” I already know what he won’t say: If they killed you.

“That’s not what I meant. I guess what I really want to know is why. I mean, I know we’re friends and all, but I don’t really think I’m worth killing someone over.”

He shrugs and walks away. Am I missing something?

I follow him into the kitchen; he’s grabbing a beer from the fridge. He tosses the cap aside and leans against the counter. He doesn’t look at me, just at his beer and the floor.

“Would you just talk to me, please? Did I say something?”                                       

“There’s nothing to talk about.” He pushes away from the counter and tries to step past me.

I throw up my arm, hand firmly against the wall. “Yeah there is.”

“Come on, man.” He tries to push past again.

“No,” I growl. I grab the beer from his hand, pushing him back and setting the bottle on the table. “Tonight I lost someone that I cared about, someone I loved. You know, there was a time I thought I was going to marry her. She died protecting me. I’m sorry, but whatever’s bothering you, I think I had a far shittier night. Now would you just tell me what the fuck is going on in that thick head of yours?”

He sits at the table but doesn’t say anything. I sit across from him and just wait.

“Monroe…” His voice is so soft and I can hear the hurt. “I guess tonight just got me thinking about what I would do if I lost you.”

“Well, you would ask Rosalee about Grimm stuff. I don’t think she speaks German, but that’s what google is for. I’m sure you’d find someone else to intrude upon during dinner and pilates.”

He looks up at me, face contorted in something close to disgust, and shakes his head. “I knew you wouldn’t get it.”

“Then explain it to me.”

“I don’t think you get just how much you mean to me, Monroe.” He covers his face with his hands. “I said I’d do worse to someone if they killed you…I meant it. If someone…I-I’d…” He balls his hands into fists and slams them on the table. “Fuck! Monroe, if someone killed you, I’d rip them apart. I’d absolutely obliterate them. None of the tools in the trailer would be enough to show that fucker just how angry I would be. There’d be absolutely nothing left of the body to identify.” His face is red, jaw is clenched, and he’s almost panting.

“Nick.” I reach out and try to touch him, comfort him.

He jumps up, knocking the chair back, and storms off.

I’m quick to follow him. I find him in his room, laying on his bed, head hidden under a pillow. Looking around, I realize that his room seems empty of personal touches. When I think about it more, his whole house is missing any kind of personal, cozy touches. Did she leave? I sit down next to him, laying my hand on his shoulder. “Nick, please.”

“I told her to leave, you know,” he mumbles from underneath the pillow.

“What?”

He sits up and rubs his face. “I told Juliette to leave if she wanted. We just weren’t clicking like we did in the beginning. Figured it was about time we call it a loss and move on. Thought it’d be good for me – one less person to hide Grimm stuff from.” He fiddles with the bed sheet. “And, uh, thought it would give me an opportunity to pursue…other interests.” He looks up at me and bites his bottom lip. “But I guess that was a waste of time.”

I reach out to him, grabbing his hand. I pull him closer, he moves without protest. He leans into me, his head resting on my chest. I wrap my arms around him and hold him close; we stay like that for quite a while.

“It’s not a waste,” I finally whisper.

When he looks up I lean down and kiss him. He kisses back with surprising fervor. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about kissing him before – how much I wanted it, what it would be like. I thought it would be a bit awkward, figured we’d be fumbling around. But it’s nothing like that. It feels natural. He moves to straddle my lap in a smooth motion and my hands wander down to rest on his thighs.

Eventually he starts to urge me backwards with light nudges to my shoulders. I lean back, pulling him with me. His hands are pressed to the mattress on either side my head. We part to catch our breath but Nick’s lips are quick to introduce themselves to my neck, causing a moan to fall from my lips. I already know my eyes are tinged red and I’m trying my damnedest not to let my teeth or nails sharpen.

He pulls away, those big grey eyes of his looking down at me, and runs a hand through my hair. “Monroe.”

“Hmm?” I lightly run my hands up and down his thighs.

“I am sorry about all that happened tonight.”

“Thanks.”

“D-do you really want this…er…me?” I’ve never really heard Nick sound so unsure of himself.

“Yeah, I do.” I lean up, one hand sliding up to cup his jaw, and kiss him.

And in that moment, the things that happened earlier didn’t matter anymore – well, at least for right now. Any lingering feelings I had for a past lover were put to rest when Nick’s lips met mine. We kiss for what feels like forever and oh it’s perfect. His lips are softer than I’d imagined. And briefly I wonder what took so long for this moment to come.