When Nick found out Juliette had feelings for someone else – and had acted on those feelings – he finally left. He only had one place in mind to run away to and that was Monroe’s house. Monroe, being the fantastic friend that he is, welcomed Nick with open arms. Nick was there for an entire month before he and Juliette officially broke up. Nick knew it was Adalind’s spell that had made Juliette and Renard so obsessed with each other and it was that spell that made the two act on their forced passion. Even so, Nick couldn’t move past it, couldn’t look at either of them the same way. So he stayed with Monroe. And the good thing was, Monroe liked it. He liked having Nick around; he was there most of the time anyway.
They seemed to get closer as the days went on. Monroe had already considered Nick his best friend and Nick felt the same way about Monroe. Now they moved around each other effortlessly. Each of them had completely integrated the other into their daily routines. Monroe had started to teach Nick how to cook. Nick started doing beginners yoga. Monroe even bought him a mat. They go running together and eat together. They hang out on Nick’s days off. Nick’s taken an interest in clocks and even bought Monroe a new watch – which Monroe practically drooled over – for his birthday. Nick has keys to the house and Monroe has a key to the trailer. Slowly but surely, Monroe’s house became filled with not only his things, but Nick’s things too. And somehow it all seemed to work.
It’s a rainy day in Portland and Nick’s off chasing bad guys all over town while Monroe sits at home, fiddling with a clock. Vaguely Monroe thinks about dinner and eventually decides he’ll text Nick and ask him to pick something up on his way home. Home. Monroe loves that Nick calls this house his home. And for some reason it also makes Monroe happy that he considers the place their home. He waved Nick off the first time he offered a check to help pay for expenses. Eventually Nick persuaded him to accept the money.
Monroe’s meticulous fingers move over clock gears as he wonders if Nick took his rain jacket to work. He sets down his tools for a break and heads into the kitchen. Out of the corner of his eye he sees an empty hook; Nick did grab his jacket. Good. Monroe fixes himself a sandwich and no sooner does he sit down, does someone knock on the door.
He glares at the door. Really? With a sigh, he gets up from his spot on the sofa and goes to the door. “Hello?” He says as he opens the door. He’s greeted by a half-smile and red hair. “Oh, hey, Juliette.” You could cut the tension with a knife.
“Uh, hi, Monroe.” She pauses and looks down at her feet. “I just brought this box by. Can you give it to Nick? I found some of his things while I was packing.”
“Yeah, I’m selling the house. I’m going to move up-town. It’s too big for me over there.”
“Up-town, hmm?” Briefly he wonders where Renard lived. He takes the box from her. “Thanks. I’m sure Nick will appreciate it. Uh, I was just about to eat a quick lunch. Lots of clocks to fix today, so if you don’t mind…”
“Oh, yeah, of course. Sorry. Um…bye, Monroe.”
“Bye.” He shuts the door, leaning back against it. That was so weird. He climbs the stairs up to Nick’s room and sets the box next to the door. Returning to the sofa, he flips through the channels until he finds something that doesn’t look like it’ll kill his brain cells and then goes back to eating his sandwich. He keeps staring over at his workbench, thinking about the four clocks he has to get done today. He balls up his fists then stretches out his fingers. His hands have been more overworked than normal lately with all the clocks that seem to keep lining up at his door. With another sigh he gets up and sets his dishes in the sink – they can wait for now – and heads back to his workbench.
Before he knows it, he’s setting aside the third finished clock and starting on the fourth and last. Finally. He checks the clock; it’s almost five. He sends Nick a quick text asking him to pick up dinner then gets back to his clock. His eyes start to get that heavy feeling and the next thing he knows, someone’s shaking his shoulder.
“Huh?” His head pops up. He rubs his eyes and focuses on the figure standing over him. It’s Nick.
“I texted you back asking what you wanted me to pick up. You didn’t answer so I figured you were busy. I brought home some burritos from that vegan-friendly place you like.”
“Oh, uh, thanks.” Monroe yawns, standing up and stretching.
“You feel okay? It’s not like you to fall asleep on a clock.” Nick lingers around, standing next to Monroe.
“Just tired. Think I’ve taken on a few too many clocks.”
“You should take a break. I’ve got some vacation time piling up. We could go somewhere for a long weekend…or just stay home and be lazy.”
“Ya know, that sounds really good.” Monroe heads toward the kitchen, Nick following close behind.
“Hank and I solved our case today.”
“Really? That’s good. I know you guys were starting to get really overwhelmed.”
“Yeah, we finally got a confession.” He sighs and arranges his burritos and tortilla chips on his plate. “You know what that means?”
“Next couple days are paperwork days. Well, as long as we don’t get some huge case. Means I get the weekend off.”
“I really hope the criminals of Portland give you guys a break. You and Hank are both running yourselves ragged.” Monroe shakes his head. “We should have Hank over for dinner this weekend. Rosalee, too.”
“That’d be nice. Maybe I can help cook dinner. Oh and Hank makes some awesome macaroni and cheese.”
“Rosalee’s chocolate cake is to die for!”
Nick smiles, feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Somehow he and Monroe had fallen into a nice, easy routine. It felt like they were their own little family…or pack. Nick liked that. He liked having someone to come home to.
When they finish eating, Nick’s quick to gather the plates from the table. “I’ll wash them, you relax.” He smiles over his shoulder at Monroe then goes to work washing a plate.
Monroe’s glad to just plop down on the sofa and relax a little. He leans against the arm of the sofa and rests his feet on the coffee table. He decides the last clock can wait until after pilates in the morning since it’s practically done already. Soon Nick joins him, handing him a glass of wine and sitting down next to him.
Nicks ends up falling asleep on the sofa. After Monroe tends to their empty glasses, he scoops Nick up and carries him to bed. Usually he would let Nick sleep on the sofa, but after the case Nick just finished, Monroe knew he was in dire need of a good night’s sleep in his bed. As Monroe’s setting him down, Nick’s eyes blink open. He apologizes, but Monroe just shakes his head, telling him it’s no big deal and to sleep well.
Monroe makes his way to his own bedroom. He shuts the door behind him and strips off his clothes. He tosses them in the hamper – or at least close enough for now – and pulls on a pair of pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. Before he crawls into bed, he peeks out the window, checking his territory one last time. When he finally lays down, he pulls up the covers and curls up, tightly wrapped in his favorite quilt.
Monroe is woken up by the sound of footsteps in the hall. His ears perk up as he listens closely. The steps stop outside his bedroom door. The door slowly starts to open, but with a sniff of the air his tension fades; it’s Nick. Nick pokes his head in, checking on Monroe, not knowing he is awake.
“What’re you doing, man?” Monroe asks, voice soft.
“Son of a bitch!” Nick jumps a little. “Dude!”
“Sorry.” Monroe sits up and yawns. “But seriously, what are you doing?”
“Uh…I was checking on you.”
Monroe’s not quite sure what to think. “Why?” He asks, not demanding, just curious.
“I, um, had a bad dream.” Nick looks down at the floor.
“Come here.” Monroe folds down the blanket on the other side of the bed.
Nick’s slow to enter the room. He feels like he shouldn’t be there, feels like he shouldn’t want to be there. He sits down next to Monroe and plays with the hem of the quilt.
“You want to talk about it?”
Nick sighs. “It felt so real.” He shakes his head. “The reapers…they came here…in the middle of the night. They got to you before I even knew they were here. They grabbed me and dragged me in here. Oh, Monroe, you looked…” He swallows, hard. “They made me watch as they…”
Monroe reaches over and rubs Nick’s shoulder. Nick leans into his friend’s touch, needing it.
“It gets worse.”
Monroe shifts a bit closer.
“The reaper who…well, they had a hood on and I couldn’t see their face at first. When they took it off…it was Juliette. She was the one who…you know…you…” Nick couldn’t bear to say it.
Monroe’s body tenses as Nick speaks. He lets out a long, ragged breath and pulls Nick closer. Nick leans against him, head falling on his shoulder. A few tears roll down his cheeks. The dream had felt so real to him. He thought he'd lost Monroe. He had felt the despair deep in his bones. He'd been eyeing up the scythe in the hand of the reaper -- Juliette. He was ready to throw himself at the blade.
Nick's body shakes and a faint whimper slips passed his lips. Monroe tightens his grip and Nick leans into the touch, hands fisting in Monroe's shirt, holding on for dear life. He's getting ready to open his mouth when Monroe breaks the silence.
"Why don't you sleep here tonight? That way I'll be right here with you."
Nick attempts a small smile and nods. He had just been about to ask Monroe if he could stay. It was like Monroe had read his mind. As Monroe slides back down, laying on his side, Nick stays close, curling up against Monroe's chest.
Nick's voice is soft, almost broken, "thanks.”
It takes Nick a while to fall asleep; he’s afraid of having another nightmare. But Monroe hasn’t let go of him and when Nick’s absolutely sure he isn’t going to, he finally lets himself fall asleep. Monroe stays awake most of the night, making sure Nick is sleeping well. When Nick’s brows start to furrow, Monroe runs his fingers through his hair. Nick’s face softens. It’s oddly intimate and briefly Monroe feels bad, like it’s wrong. But then Nick rolls closer to him and snakes an arm around his waist. Monroe finally lets himself feel all the feelings he’s been trying to push away, deny.
Monroe pushes the hair from Nick’s forehead and settles in close, letting himself fall asleep just before the sun starts to rise. He doesn’t dream about anything, or if he did, he doesn’t remember when he wakes up. When he opens his eyes, he’s met with a set of big grey eyes staring at him.
“You snore,” Nick says.
“It’s okay. Reminded me you were still here.”
Monroe just kind of nods. Nick leans forward, wrapping his arm more tightly around Monroe’s waist in what’s supposed to be a hug. He holds on for a while, probably a bit too long, but he doesn’t care. Monroe doesn’t seem to mind so Nick just keeps holding on. Then Monroe hugs him back, holding on just as tightly. When they finally part Monroe just sort of stares at Nick. This all seems so surreal to him, that they’re in bed together, laying close, hugging, snuggling. Part of him is surprised that Nick’s here, that he hasn’t left yet; everyone always seems to leave sooner or later.
“What’s my favorite color?”
Nick furrows his brows. “Red. Why?”
“Rear Window. Monroe, wha –”
“Favorite kind of cookie?”
“How’d I get the scar on my left knee?”
“You feel on a rock when you were like 12. You were wrestling with Hap and he bit you and caught you off guard.” When Monroe doesn’t ask anything else, Nick speaks again. “Are you really giving me a pop quiz right now?”
Monroe shakes his head slowly. His voice is low, soft. “Your middle name is Reed, after your dad. Your favorite color is green, even though you almost never wear it. Your favorite season is summer because you love to hike and swim and be outside. You hated little league as a kid, but did it because your dad liked it. When you were a kid you wanted to draw comics.”
“Yeah…” Nick’s slightly confused. “Monroe, what’s going on with you? You’re asking me questions that you know I know the answers to. You’re telling me things about myself. Two of those things only you know.” He thinks a little harder. “And now that I think about it, you’ve gotten almost…clingy. You don’t like to let me out of your sight. You’ve been buying all the snack foods I like. You let me pick what shows we watch. You haven’t had your usual snark. Come on, man, talk to me.”
Monroe just looks at him, lips bending into a frown. Tears start to build up and sting his eyes. “I just don’t want to forget you…and I don’t want you to forget me either.”
“Monroe, why would I forget you?”
“I just get scared…ever since the thing with…you know.” He takes a deep breath. “Part of me is really scared that if she wanted to come after you again, maybe she’d make me forget you.” He clenches his jaw, concentrating on not letting the tears roll down his cheeks.
“Oh,” Nick’s voice is soft, barely audible.
“I just want you in my life for the rest of my life. I don’t want to go back to the way things were, before I met you…I can’t lose you, Nick.”
“Monroe, if I lost you…I’d be devastated…hell, I’d be inconsolable.”
Before either of them has time to think too much about it, their lips are meeting. Monroe kisses with a desperation to keep Nick close, safe. Nick kisses to feel alive again. They kiss with hunger, want, need, and with a passion that’s been pent up for far too long. They kiss for every beer, every lingering look, every late night phone call, and early morning pilates interruptions. They kiss like there’s no tomorrow, until they can’t breathe. When they finally part, only to catch their breath, they really look at each other. Nick watches Monroe’s chest heave, watches him bite his lip. When he looks into Monroe’s eyes he sees familiarity, safety, home. He sees a future. Monroe reaches up, cupping Nick’s jaw; Nick leans into the touch. His hand falls to Nick’s side, pulling him back down. He nuzzles the crook of Nick’s neck, breathing deep. He wanted, needed, that scent. That damn scent that was everywhere now, that had slowly worked its way all over Monroe’s house in the past year.
“Please don’t ever forget me,” Nick whispers.
“I won’t, I promise.”