Spoilers through season 2 episode 12, “Season of the Hexenbiest”, AU after that.
Monroe knew it would be bad. How could it not? How often did a guy have to tell his bestie that his girl was cheating on him with Mr. Tall Dark and Broody? Who, apparently, Nick knew… and well, if the betrayed look beneath the rage in his teary eyes meant anything, which Monroe knew it did. So when he showed Nick Mr. Broody and Nick took off like there was a fire under his ass, Monroe knew where he was going and took off after him.
Or at least, he thought he knew. Turns out when he got to Marie Kessler’s Trailer of Grimmness, it wasn’t Nick he found.
It was Broody.
Who was tearing the place apart looking for something.
Maybe he could help?
Renard was having no luck whatsoever searching the hovel – library – rat’s nest Kessler used to hole up in. Any other time he would have been fascinated by the journals, delving into them to see if they were anything like the Grimm journals he’d read in his Father’s library. Knowing the Kessler family, they would be rich reading. Not at the moment.
Now, he was dancing to the family’s tune, his mind going several directions at once, trying to find a way to thwart his brother, avoid a death sentence, silence a hexenbiest, find a secret key to gain an advantage over his enemies, fight off a love curse, and keep Burkhardt from finding out his identity, both as a Royal and as the man poaching his girlfriend.
If the curse wasn’t giving him a migraine, the rest of his life would.
A throat clearing in the doorway brought him closer to spontaneously exposing himself than anything in several years. He looked over to find a scruffy skinny man staring at him, wide eyed. He took a surreptitious sniff.
Blutbad. Familiar, at that. Not only from the apothecary; that odd sense of familiarity had been bothering him for days. No, he’d caught that scent on his Grimm in the past. He narrowed his eyes.
The blutbad shuddered, like a mouse caught in a snake’s gaze, before taking a deep breath.
“So, I take it you’re looking for a cure here, huh?”
For a split second, Renard considering shooting him. He didn’t have time for this. Then he reconsidered. It would appear the blutbad knew more than herbs and tonics; it would be wise to discover the depths of his intimacy with Renard’s Grimm.
He could always shoot him later.
Nick hit the station like a tornado. Hank was in the hospital, Adalind was trying to seduce him from a jail cell, the shadowy Verat was after his Aunt’s key, and his boss was after his girlfriend.
He was not in a good mood.
Of course, sleep deprivation from not-sleeping on that stupid couch wasn’t helping. A tiny voice in the back of his mind bitched that Monroe could have dumped this crap on him after he’d had a good night’s sleep, then maybe Wu wouldn’t be looking at him like a rogue Yeti – okay, a short rogue Yeti – and that bed in Monroe’s guest room had looked really comfy, but he didn’t have time for that right now. He had a key to protect, and a boss to find and beat to death, and probably more Hundjäger to kill, and Adalind’s neck to wring, and he really needed some coffee.
Glancing down at his shaking hand, an inch from the grip of his gun as he stared at Captain Renard’s empty office, he figured maybe caffeine might not be the best idea.
Okay, so if he didn’t want to actually shoot his boss the minute he saw him, he should probably… calm down.
Or get a different weapon.
Thinking about weapons lead him back to his truck, and from there, back to Aunt Marie’s trailer. Monroe’s bug was parked outside, and Nick bit back a groan. He loved the guy, really, but in the last couple days Monroe had been the one to tell him about Juliette kissing another man, then who that other man was, and right then, Nick didn’t know whether he wanted to avoid Monroe or curl up against his shoulder and cry.
Nick stopped, staring blankly at an expensive silver SUV parked next to Monroe’s beat-up bug, and told himself to man up. There would be no crying on his best friend’s shoulder. No curling up. Just searching and smacking around a guy who was about ten inches taller than him and no slouch in the muscle department, like any decent Neanderthal.
Um, guy who’d been cheated on.
God, he had a headache.
It didn’t get any better when he opened the door and found his boss the bastard and his best friend hunched over a book, reading so intently it looked like their eyes were going to burn through the paper.
He was across the room, into the cabinet, had a mahogany truncheon in his fist and was diving for Renard before anyone could blink.
Happily, Burkhardt morals were just barely strong enough to hold back Grimm reflexes, and Renard could duck really fast, so Monroe’s words registered before he broke his Captain’s head open.
“IT’S A SPELL! WE FOUND A WAY TO BREAK IT! PLEASE DON’T KILL THE VICTIM! Well, the other victim, really, ‘cause he’s not the only one, of course, but it wasn’t his fault, he had only the best intentions. And it wasn’t Juliette’s fault, of course, since she was in a coma and everything. Not your fault either, Nick, since that blasted hexenbiest would do what a witch would do, and it was her cat, after all…”
Nick dropped the truncheon, staring into Renard’s wide eyes as his captain crouched halfway behind the desk, and grumbled, “Intentions?”
With barely a breath, Monroe launched into an explanation. The important points in the babble came down to Adalind putting some kind of crap on her cat’s claws to curse Juliette, then Renard finding out somehow and trying to bring her out of the spell before she forgot Nick completely.
Yeah. That worked.
Nick spared Monroe a glance before returning his glare to Renard, who had slowly straightened up during the monolog and slid back into his chair. Ignoring the questions he had about how his boss knew about magic, for the moment, he got to the heart of the matter.
“Why didn’t he tell me? I would have kissed her.” Happily.
“Transference, man. This wasn’t a straightforward Sleeping Beauty Curse, then true love’s kiss would have broken the spell – don’t look at me like that, Nick, there was a lot of truth about magic in those tales your ancestors wrote down, why do you think they did it? Instruction manual, man, think about it. Anyway, Adalind did some funky stuff to it, woman scorned stuff that twisted things up. Something about purity-“
Renard flinched, minutely, but Nick caught it. His glare sharpened.
“- and keying it so your touch didn’t break the spell lock. That’s what the big guy here was doing in the apothecary, Nick, he was looking for a cure! Or at least some explanation for why all the sudden out of the blue he was lusting after another guy’s girl, because I have to tell you, that’s not something that usually happens when a guy barely knows a girl, okay, maybe it does, yeah, of course it does, but not often when the guy whose girl he’s lusting after is a Grimm and could split a man in two with a dull spoon before you even know he’s coming… though he probably didn’t know that, but he’s, well, your boss, and he wouldn’t do that to you unless he was forced to. Not to mention, Juliette! She’s not a cheater, man, you know that.”
Renard looked like he had a headache. Nick knew he had one himself. He rubbed his forehead and looked back at Monroe.
“Juliette doesn’t know me from Adam. It’s not cheating if you don’t know the guy you’re cheating on.” For the guy who did, though… he swung back to glare at Renard. “Is this why you called me into your office? To talk?”
The last question was more growl than words, and Renard winced again. As he gathered himself to speak, Nick softened his glare and actually looked at the man.
He looked like hell.
Almost as bad as Nick felt.
Before Renard could say anything, Nick sighed. “You said you’d found a cure?” He didn’t want to talk anymore. He wanted this over with, so life could go back to whatever could be called normal now.
Renard looked a little relieved, kind of hard to tell when he had his poker face on, and Monroe started babbling again. Nick did his best to listen, but he was so damned tired, and running low on both tolerance and hope. He could feel himself shutting down, but he didn’t have time for that, either. Not if he was going to salvage anything of the wreck that was his life.
Maybe he’d just go back to the cell and strangle Adalind. He’d end up in a cell, himself, but it would make him feel better.
“…have to come in to it with the best of intentions. The big guy wanted to heal Juliette, and he wanted to save the memory of Nick, as it were, so he wanted to help you, too…”
God, more babble. If there were any pertinent details, they were getting drowned out in the white noise. Nick cleared his throat and Monroe hit the pause button, staring up at him with those big brown puppy dog eyes.
Yeah. He was officially dopy to the point of insanity. He shook his head and asked, not sure if he really wanted to know the answer, but knowing he needed to, “What do I have to do?” He enunciated it clearly and slowly, to get his point across.
The rueful expression on Monroe’s face told him he succeeded.
“You have to take on the curse, man.”
Renard stared at Nick, his hands fisted on the desk, carefully not crumpling the dusty vellum pages beneath them. Nick blinked slowly at Monroe. From the look of it, his detective needed to sleep for a while before his brain would be back up to speed. Too bad they didn’t have time for a nap.
He needed that key.
He needed this curse to end.
“So all I have to do is kiss Juliette?”
He needed to kiss Nick.
“Not quite. You see, when the big guy kissed Juliette-”
Monroe swallowed as Nick softly snarled, then hurried on, “he transferred her affection, the love, the memory of a shared life-”
The snarl got louder, and Monroe talked faster.
“Along with the curse. So in order to transfer those things back, yeah, I think you do have to kiss Juliette, but first you have to kiss the big guy.”
Okay, so he needed to have Nick kiss him. From the incredulous look Nick was giving Monroe, Renard wasn’t sure that would ever happen. Then the incredulity was replaced with consideration, and Renard took a moment to marvel, as he often had, at how expressive his Grimm’s face was. Every thought he had was written there. It made him an empathetic detective, if a little too easily wounded. Consideration turned to determination, and Nick headed around the desk.
Renard swallowed drily. He couldn’t tell if Nick was going to kiss him or kill him.
“Wait up a minute!” Monroe yelped. “You can’t just kiss him when you’re all pissed off at him!”
Nick stopped and looked over at Monroe. “But I am pissed off at him.”
“No, no, no,” Monroe shook his head. “The curse is a negative/positive balance, man. Adalind’s intentions were negative,” he ignored Renard’s almost imperceptible snort and Nick’s muttered curse, “while the big guy’s intentions were positive.”
Nick’s expression bordered on rebellious, and the blutbad rolled his eyes. Renard didn’t think he’d ever met such a, well, goofy blutbad before, but then, the European blutbads were hounds for the Regnants. Goofy ones were probably drowned as cubs. He came back to the conversation to hear Monroe earnestly explaining to Nick why having his boss kiss his girlfriend was a pure act of friendship. It had, in fact, been an attempt to keep his Grimm from self-destructing, so friendship could be one way of looking at it.
“So you’re telling me I have to feel… grateful… when I’m kissing him.” The growl was nearly stronger than the words.
“Maybe not grateful, but yeah, you have to understand that his intentions were pure – to heal Juliette – not impure – to steal your girlfriend. And Nick, he’s been trying to break the curse ever since he figured out what was going on.”
“It was not my intention to transfer Juliette’s affections, Nick,” Renard finally spoke. “I am aware of magic, and knew of the Sleeping Beauty Curse. I saw you kiss Juliette to no effect. Further study indicated that a comrade of the lover could break the curse on behalf of the afflicted, so I tried. The curse broke, but it was too late. The memories were already altered.”
He looked earnestly up at Nick, who still glared at him, but with less intensity. Perhaps enough to cause wood to catch fire, not quite enough to melt glass. It was a start.
“I had no intent to harm your relationship, and made every attempt at fighting the compulsion. Please. Help me break this and put things right.”
“Nothing’s right, right now,” Nick muttered, but his shoulders slumped. Renard knew that posture. Nick was finally thinking with his forebrain instead of his hindbrain. That was an improvement.
“There’s just one more thing,” Monroe said hesitantly.
Nick and Renard groaned in unison.
“What now?” Nick groused.
“Well, the longer a curse is in effect, the stronger the countermeasures have to be to break it.” Monroe sounded like he was forcing the words out. He stared intently at the book in front of him, refusing to look at either Nick or Renard.
“Okay,” Nick drawled the word out. “What does that mean, exactly? A long kiss? With tongue?”
Renard’s mind blanked out. Nick’s mouth. He hadn’t thought this through. Nick’s tongue. A surge of blood through his veins and a sudden heat behind his eyes told him that his Wesen side at least was all for the idea. What was it with hexenbiests and grimms? A stirring in his lap told him the human reactions he’d trained into himself were rather in favor of the idea as well.
This could get awkward.
“Yeah, tongues, and maybe more than that, since it’s been going on awhile.”
Renard jumped a little in his chair. Nick looked like he was figuring out a case, not discussing fellatio with his boss.
“You’re not freaked out by this?” Monroe’s voice climbed half an octave in four syllables.
“Not like it’d be the first time,” Nick mumbled, and shrugged his shoulders as Renard and Monroe both stared at him. “I fooled around in school a little, didn’t everybody?”
Renard was too busy entertaining thoughts of naked Nick, fooling around, to unknot his tongue and respond. Monroe made a strangled noise that might charitably be called a ‘no?’ or perhaps ‘maybe?’
“Hey,” Nick continued, a little defensively, “I was a skinny little art geek with big eyes and no muscles as a teenager.”
Well, he’d certainly grown up.
“Thanks. I think.” Nick was looking at him strangely.
Oh. He’d spoken aloud. His control really was shaky. Speaking without thinking whilst growing up would have had him beheaded. He sighed.
“How far do you think we’ll need to go?” he asked the blutbad.
Monroe shrugged his shoulders. “Won’t know until you try.”
“Oh god,” Nick ground out. “Okay, when and where?”
“Now and here,” Renard responded automatically. Hm. It appeared his body had made up his mind. He was also intent on releasing… breaking the curse, of course. The fact that the thought of Nick naked was quite appealing was a perk, really.
He’d get the key afterward. This shouldn’t take that long.
He’d fallen into some twisted fairy tale a couple years ago, and this was just another weird twist, Nick thought, staring at his boss. So he’d do what he always did: whatever it took to get the job done.
This job was just personal.
“Stand up, I guess. I’m not going to kiss you in that chair.”
Renard looked startled for a moment. Nick wondered what he’d been thinking about that had him so distracted, before deciding he didn’t care. Renard walked around the desk to the clear spot on the rug in front, and stood there, hands hanging down at his side, looking as concerned as he had that day in his office when he’d asked if everything was okay with Juliette.
No, he couldn’t think that way. Had to keep good vibes going for this to work. Had to find something good about all this.
Sheesh, Renard was ridiculously tall.
“Could you sit down on the desk or something? I’m not going up on tiptoe.” He ignored the muffled noises Monroe was making. His best friend had his hands over his face like he was about to see a car wreck or something.
Nick wished he could do the same. Still, it was hard to kiss anybody with your head in your hands.
By now Renard had settled on the edge of the desk, long legs crossed in front of him, hands clenched on the wood to either side of his hips. His knuckles were white.
That was something. His captain was known for keeping his cool. This… whole mess… had knocked him off balance. For the first time, Nick truly considered the possibility that Renard didn’t want this.
Didn’t want Juliette.
The thought was foreign to him. How could anyone not want Juliette? She was amazing. Kind and intelligent and sexy and temperamental and short tempered and not in the least interested in him.
Okay, he hadn’t realized he had quite so much resentment built up. Weeks of worry over the love of his life who not only kicked him out of their bed, but out of his house… his, not hers. But he was the one sleeping on that damned couch, and now in Monroe’s attic, nice as it was, and she was the one who cheated on him… though he had meant it when he said she didn’t know him, so she couldn’t cheat on him.
She didn’t know him.
Didn’t know if she’d get the memories back. Thought he was a liar and over-protective and had conveniently forgotten that she had proof of supernatural beings from her own research and that she’d had to fight off a Hässlich with a pan of boiling water in their own kitchen. Had rolled over and gone back to sleep while he was packing to leave his own house.
Right. He’d think about that later. Because she was amazing, and she’d fought off a dämonfeuer, too, and if he explained it to her right and didn’t get all hyper about the weapons, and if she didn’t scream and run away when Monroe wolfed out for her, and maybe if she remembered him, then she would love him again.
And maybe eventually he could forgive her.
The thought knocked him off balance. Strong hands wrapped around his arms, keeping him upright. Bright, concerned eyes stared over at him. With Renard leaning like that, they were about the same height.
Nick leaned forward and kissed him.
It should have been awkward.
Renard shifted, spreading his legs so he could pull Nick close to him, barely restraining the urge to wrap his legs around Nick’s hips and trap him there.
Sometimes instincts were a pain in the ass.
Instead, he reined himself in, and gently cupped Nick’s face, tipping it slightly to improve the angle of the kiss. Nick’s hands were fisted in Renard’s shirt, tightly enough to rip anything but the finest silk. Thankfully Renard’s taste ensured the safety of his clothing.
For the moment, at least.
There was a stirring when their lips met. Nick was warm, all along his length, and he found himself drawn into that warmth. His fingers traced into the thick hair, and he opened his mouth slightly.
Nick took his invitation.
Renard had never allowed liberties, even from lovers. He was guarded, decidedly and rightfully so. Practically from the moment of his birth, there were those who would be rid of the royal bastard, and he’d grown up surrounded by kin who were at best allies, and usually enemies. Given that environment, lovers were all too often weapons, brought to bear upon him by his family. Even if affairs did not begin that way, that was how they ended.
He’d been kissed with calculation, with intent, with revenge and advancement and espionage in mind.
He’d never been kissed with desperation.
Nick kissed like he fought, instinctively and fiercely. His lips were soft and his tongue forceful. And everywhere, everywhere, there was the heat.
This was more than the curse.
This was something he’d heard only whispered, hiding behind draperies whilst the elders traded gossip and favors. Alchemy, infusion, the conflagration that erupted when a Royal forgot who they were, and indulged in carnal relations with their Grimm.
It wasn’t like copulation with other Wesen. Most wesen were the equivalent of animals to the Royals, beneath notice except as a tool or a plaything. But Grimms were special. Grimms were warriors, the sword wielded by the crown, and sometimes, seldom but sometimes, Grimm and Regnant were shield brothers.
It hadn’t happened in a long time. It was foolish. Insane. Dangerous.
Never one to submit, Renard joined the kiss, devouring in turn as he was devoured. Silk finally gave way to determined fists and was shredded. Irrelevant material littered the floor as Renard cleared the desk with one sweeping arm; the other was occupied keeping Nick as close as possible. Somewhere in the back of his mind he heard sounds – alarmed yelps, the rustle of parchment, the thud of books. He categorized them as Monroe and ignored them as harmless.
He was busy.
He shed his clothing as a dragon does scales, interspersed with extracting Nick from the layers of denim and leather keeping their bare skin from meeting. Nick was subvocalizing a constant stream of breathy growls, every exhale, counterpoint to the purr rumbling in his own chest. Their mouths would break apart, only to find the tendon standing out on a neck, to follow a bead of moisture trailing down a chest. Hands were equally busy, mapping out one another’s bodies like blind men, senses memorizing one another.
Shoes thumped on the floor of the trailer, followed by cloth, leather and silk and cotton and denim. A yelp formed the words, “I’ll just wait outside then, okay? Okay!” and the part of his brain that never stopped scanning his surroundings for threats felt the unwanted third presence leave. The last of whatever inhibitions he had fled with the blutbad.
He wasn’t sure how they got from the desk to the bed, but it was just as well. Neither of them were lightweights, and he wasn’t sure the wood, sturdy as it was, would survive them. Nick was over him, as glorious as he’d expected even when he hadn’t known he had such expectations. They moved together as if they’d known one another forever. All was heat, and strength, and straining, until the world went white.
When his senses came back to him, Nick was sprawled atop him, head tucked into the side of Renard’s neck. There came a sense of pulling, as if something were being extracted from his very essence, and in the sudden rush of exhaustion, he nearly passed out. After it passed, he forced away the vertigo and looked down at Nick.
A moment passed, then Nick slowly drew away and returned his gaze.
His Grimm had never been unfathomable. Until now.
That wasn’t a car wreck. Nick tried to catch his breath and found himself snuggling his boss.
No, that was a train wreck. Or at least it felt like he’d been hit by a train.
He had no idea what to do next. Still, that hadn’t stopped him in the past, so he did what he always did. Squared his shoulders – as much as he could with Renard’s arms wrapped around them – and put his head up – ignoring how hard it was to pull his face away from Renard’s shoulder – and met his fate like a man.
An inarticulate man, but then, he was who he was. Talking wasn’t really his strong suit.
And was Renard actually… purring?
Distracted by the interesting sound coming from the naked man he was lying on, he missed the fracas outside the door.
“I really don’t think that’s a good idea!” Monroe’s voice was really high and really fast.
“I’m tired of people trying to protect me!” Was that Juliette?
“Oh my god!” Yes. That was Juliette.
Renard was rigid beneath him, looking a lot like a deer caught in headlights. Nick gulped then turned his head to look over his – bare – shoulder at his ex? girlfriend.
“I can explain,” Monroe and Renard said at the same time.
Juliette looked like she was in shock. She didn’t run away screaming. That was a good sign, right?
Although she did look oddly intent. Like she was memorizing the scene, or something. There was an odd feeling in the air, like static electricity, that crackled for an instant between the three of them.
Then she smiled.
He knew that smile.
It was going to be a very long night.
The deadline passed. Adalind absently kicked her heel on the cot, wondering when she would be able to leave the safety of the cell. Suddenly, she felt a tiny snap, as the bond to the last spell she successfully cast dissolved from her soul.
Well. Wasn’t that interesting. She grinned.
Sean was in trouble up to his neck, the key was nowhere to be found, and for the first time in centuries, the Family was facing the threat of a Regnant paired to a Grimm.
This… would be fun.