“You’re pouting,” Buffy accuses.
“I’m not,” Sean denies.
Buffy quirks an eyebrow.
“It’s not pouting,” he reiterates, “it’s… contemplation.”
Buffy plants herself right in front of him, ass on his desk. “Contemplating what?”
“Don’t you have somewhere to be other than my office?”
He rests his hands on either side of her hips. “My officers are starting talk about you, you know.”
Buffy snorts. “Let them. Now tell me what’s giving you grump-face.”
Sean sighs, rests his head against her knees. “Eric is in town.”
Buffy puts the heel of her hand against his forehead and pushes up. “Eric as in your brother Eric?”
“Do you know another?”
Buffy shrugs. “Probably. It’s a pretty common name.”
Sean glares at her.
She grins back unrepentantly. “What does he want?”
“He wants to have dinner.”
“Want me to come?”
Sean visibly hesitates. “Buffy, that… we’ve discussed this. Playing our hand like that…”
Buffy nods. “Has to be calculated, I know… We don’t have to tell him what I am.”
“An unprecedented goodwill gesture like suddenly introducing my wife will make him very suspicious.”
Buffy shrugs. “It’ll throw him off his game.”
Sean nods slowly. “Possibly make him rethink whatever he’s planning here.”
“And even if it doesn’t… well, not to be conceited, but I’m a hell of a secret weapon.”
“I need to check you both for weapons,” is the first thing out of Eric’s guard’s mouth.
Buffy feels Sean’s muscles tense where her hand is tucked into his arm.
“What you need and what you’re gonna get,” Sean grinds out, “are two separate things.”
The guard crosses his hands in front of him. “I don’t search ya, you don’t go in.”
“Fine,” Sean shrugs and turns back toward the door, dragging Buffy with him. “Send him my regrets.”
“Sean,” Eric comes around the corner, “he’s only doing his job.” He comes toward them. “Let him keep his guns, their knives, whatever little weapons he wants. What a shame - my own brother doesn’t feel safe with me. Come on, bro,” he tilts his head and walks away, “bring your guest.”
“I didn’t think you’d mind,” Sean replies, following Eric into the next room.
“I don’t,” Eric assures, closing the door behind them. “How long has it been since we’ve been breathing the same air?”
“Well, let me see,” Sean paces, opposite of Eric, “I believe I was 13 when my mother pulled me out of French Literature class in Geneva and whisked us out of the country to keep us from being murdered by your mother.”
Sean almost winces at how hard Buffy squeezes his arm to reign in her temper when Eric actually chuckles.
Eric glances down briefly. “Yes. That was an exciting day, wasn’t it?”
“Well, not so much for me,” Sean deadpans.
“It’s true that mom was never very fond of your Hexenbiest whore of a mother who stole our father’s heart. Her words, not mine. That’s all a lot of blood under the bridge,” Eric waves vaguely between them. “You and I need to establish a proper working relationship. You have proven yourself very talented, in many ways,” he takes a seat at the table. “Wouldn’t you rather be welcomed back into the family than cast further adrift?”
Buffy finally lets go of Sean’s arm and perches on the arm of the sofa.
Sean strolls toward the table. “Why are you here?”
“Oh, please, sit down,” Eric gestures to the chair across from him. He stands and pours wine as Sean sits. “If you’re worried about the squab killing you, I’ll gladly trade plates. And order another, for your lady friend, of course.”
Sean sets his plate aside entirely. “Why don’t we just get down to business?”
“How very American.”
“I don’t have the Key, if that’s what you came for,” Sean states, straightforward.
Buffy barely reigns in her automatic flinch. Fortunately, neither men in the room seems to notice her knee jerk reaction.
Eric finally offers Buffy more than a cursory glance. “You’re certain you want to discuss family business in mixed company?”
“Anne is my wife.”
Eric actually looks surprised.
Buffy fights to keep a smug expression off her face.
Eric clears his throat. “My apologies. I didn’t… I hadn’t heard you’d married. You realize this could affect your standing with the family. Is she well-connected? ”
Sean shrugs. “The Key.”
Eric visibly forces his composure back into place. “Very well. No, you don’t have the Key. But we both know who does. Tell me, what’s it like working so closely with a Grimm?”
“Different from what I imagined,” Sean answers honestly.
“I understand he’s not exactly traditional.”
“Well, neither am I.”
“From what I’ve heard, he’s proven tremendously effective. Taking out two Reapers and sending their head back made a hell of an impression. He also took out a Mauvais Dentes and a Nuckelavee.”
“Both gifts from the family, I assume?” Sean straightens in his seat.
“Yes, he’s proven rather more worthy than we anticipated. Which brings us back to the Key. Adalind says you need yet more time to get it.”
“And how is Adalind?”
“Lovely as ever. I don’t think she really misses you.”
“Well, you don’t know her like I do… not that she ever had me to miss.”
“A shame about her losing her powers like that. I believes she carries a grudge.”
“Well, she’s lucky to be alive.”
“Aren’t we all? Look, Sean, it’s been agreed for the good of the family to give you a bit more time with this Key business.”
Sean leans forward. “And if I don’t get the Key, then you tell the Grimm all about me, is that how it works?”
“We want you back in the family, Sean. Historic things are happening, and there’s an important place for you.”
“Really?” Sean chuckles mirthlessly. “For a bastard?”
“Nowadays that doesn’t matter. Some even consider it a badge of honor.”
“What about you?”
“What I’m trying to say is, dear brother, it’s time to come home.”
“I’ll think about it,” he stands.
“Going so soon?”
“Not that the squab doesn’t look great,” Buffy stands and interjects herself into the conversation, “but I was promised a cheeseburger,” she turns to Sean, “and I’m adding a milkshake to my list of demands.”
Sean raises an eyebrow at her. “Oh?”
“Yup. Your brother’s an ass. I deserve a milkshake.”
“I am standing right here,” Eric says.
Buffy tilts her head at him. “I know.”
They leave without another word, and make a plan over cheeseburgers and milkshakes in a shitty diner near Sean’s precinct.
“Find out everything about that woman,” Eric snaps at his guard the moment Sean and ‘Anne’ are out the door.
As soon as the plane takes off and Sean makes it back to the privacy of his office, he makes the call. “Eric’s forced our hand. It’s time my dear brother was dealt with.”
Sebastien’s tone is hesitant. “How do you mean?”
“Give it to Meisner.”
“Are you serious?”
“He took the Grimm,” and my wife, Sean adds silently.
“You realize the ramifications this will have?”
“Well, Eric should’ve thought of that before he did what he did. Now deal with it.”
“What about me?”
“Stay close to the family and, uh… don’t forget to look shocked.”
The plane crashing was not part of their plan.
Buffy stowed away in a closet in the back room of the plane while Baron Tophat was distracted by the cops. It took a lot of willpower to stay hidden when the obvious sounds of a fight filtered through, but she managed, hoped vindictively that Nick wass kicking Voodoo Man’s ass. She regretted the decision as soon the plane started going down.
If the crash doesn’t kill her, Sean might.
She survives the crash. She seems to have that kind of luck. She claws her way out of the wreckage in time to see Nick stumble away through the woods and forces herself to shove to her feet and follow. She catches up when he enters the bar.
Okay, yeah, the asshole is drunk, but he’s also a jerk and Buffy is sorely tempted to let Nick beat the crap out of him, but with the altered state of mind he’s in, Buffy’s not sure he would stop, so she throws herself between them, blocks the punch, and shoves Nick back out the door.
“I need to call the cops?” The bartender calls.
“Nope,” Buffy flashes a bloody grin over her shoulder.
Nick bursts back through the door. Buffy spins out of his path and lets him run his face into her open palm when he rounds on her again. Buffy manages to flip Nick onto his stomach and pin his arms to his back. Nick tries to buck up under her and she grabs a handful of his hair and uses it to slam his head against the ground hard enough for him to slump into unconsciousness. She winces in sympathy, even as she’s shimmying out of her belt to secure his hands.
She doesn’t move from Nick’s side, but does stand. “Anyone got a phone?”
A wide-eyed bar patron hands one over.
Buffy smiles, already dialing Sean’s number. “Thanks.”
“Whoever this is, I don’t have time right now,” Sean snaps in lieu of greeting.
“Good to hear your voice too, sweetie.”
“Buffy!” The relief is clear in his voice. “Where are you? Are you okay? Is Nick with you? What the hell happened?”
Buffy actually relaxes at the worried tension in his voice. “Plane crashed.”
“I know, I’m staring at the remains.”
She winces. “Oh. Sorry. Uh, there’s a bar. A few miles through the woods. Not sure by road… uh, hey buddy, what’s this place’s address?”
The bartender rattles it off as if on autopilot.
Buffy repeats it to Sean. “We’re both here. Nick’s out right now, but I don’t know how long he’ll stay that way.”
“We’re on our way.”
Sean, Hank, and Monroe come bursting in a few minutes later.
Monroe immediately bends to check on Nick and Sean makes a beeline to where Buffy is seated on the nearest barstool, hands immediately brushing over every available surface.
Buffy bats him away. “I’m fine.” She jerks a thumb over her shoulder. “Give this poor bartender a nice tip and let’s get the hell out of here. We need to get Nick to R- to a doctor and see if we can get this shit out of his system.”
Sean rolls his eyes, but tosses two hundred-dollar bill on the counter, exchanges a few low words with the bartender, and then scoops Buffy up in his arms and turns toward the door.
She squeals in protest. “Hey! I can walk.”
“Humor me,” he grinds out tightly, hugging her closer to him and leans his head to whisper closer to her ear, “Don’t think I didn’t notice that ankle.”
Buffy huffs in irritation, but settles against his chest and lets him carry her to the car. She shakes her head when he moves to open the front passenger door. “Put me in the back with Nick.”
“Buffy, you’re already hurt,” he protests.
“I’m still the only one strong enough to contain him if he wakes up before we make it back to Spice Shop.”
Sean grudgingly settles her in the back with Nick, and Buffy graciously ignores his constant glances in the rearview all the way back into the city. Nick stays blessedly unconscious, and by the time they reach the Spice Shop, the adrenaline is wearing off, the pain is setting in, and Buffy doesn’t protest when Sean carries her inside.
He quirks an eyebrow at her.
She sneers up at him half-heartedly. “Don’t make me admit it hurts, jerk.”
Sean smirks and dops a kiss to her forehead. “I wish you would just let me take you home.”
“Not until we know Nick’s okay.” She’s vaguely aware of Rosalee saying something about Nick being affected differently since he’s a Grimm and frowns. “Sean, give me your phone.”
He hands it over with a questioning look.
“Mine is somewhere in the wreckage of the plane and, and I want to have Will come out and check on him too, just in case.”
“Hey, Will. Can you come down to the Spice Shop? Yeah, I mean, I was, but… no. Yeah. Okay, see ya.”
“On her way?”
Buffy nods and lets her eyes drift close.
Sean pulls her up straight. “Nope. No sleeping until you let Rosalee check you out.”
Buffy grumbles at Sean, but submits to Rosalee’s examination with good grace, and actually sighs in relief when the other woman rubs a thick salve into to bruised skin around her ankle.
Willow spends a couple hours fussing over Nick, frowning and casting spells and forcing potions on him before she’s satisfied enough to sit back and wait for him to wake up.
“I gotta get back to the precinct, deal with what’s happened,” Sean says reluctantly.
“I’m staying,” Hank tells him.
Sean nods. “Probably best that you do. Buffy?”
She waves vaguely toward the door. “Fine here.”
“If his brother was my brother,” Monroe exhales sharply. “Well.. I probably shouldn’t go there.”
“Oh yeah, you should go there,” Hank argues. “I’d go there with you.”
All the conscious people in the room, save Willow, who’s likely thinking the same thing Buffy is, look at her sharply.
She’s too tired to be embarrassed about the snorting laugh that escapes. “If I know my husband at all, he called someone to take care of his brother the moment the plane took off.”
Nick wakes up, disoriented and missing a few hours of memory.
Everyone talks over each other trying to explain and then falls silent.
Buffy rolls her eyes and takes advantage of all of them glancing awkwardly at each other. “You got whammied by the puffer fish in the top hat, got kidnapped by Sean’s brother, crashed the plane we were both in, then I kicked your ass and we brought you back here.”
Buffy dozes on and off and almost punches Sean on reflex when he rouses her.
He catches her fist easily. “Just me.”
Buffy groans and drops her forehead against his stomach. “Home?”
She feels more than hears his chuckle. “I wanted to bundle you off to bed hours ago.”
She leaves her head where it rests and lifts her hands above her head like a petulant child.
Sean picks her up obligingly, one large hand in either side of her tiny waist. She tucks her head into the crook of her neck and wraps her arms around his shoulders and her legs around his waist.
“There are easier ways to carry you, you know,” he jostles her gently, settling her higher.
“Comfy,” she mumbles into his neck.
“Bed will be comfier.”
Buffy mumbles into his neck unintelligibly.
Sean rolls his eyes and looks up at the other occupants of the room. “Willow?”
The redhead smiles tiredly at him. “Ready when you are, Cap.”
Buffy is very, very grumpy the next morning. “If you haven’t already, I’m going to kill your brother,” she informs Sean over her coffee cup.
Sean smirks. “You’d have to beat Meisner to Vienna. And since Meisner is already in Vienna…”
Buffy blinks owlishly at him. “You really put a hit out on your brother?”
“He crossed a line,” Sean shrugs. “He took my Grimm and almost killed my wife.”
“He didn’t know he had me.”
“Beside the point.”
Buffy sighs. “Whatever. For once, I really don’t care. Will they be able to connect it to you?”
Eric shakes his head. “No.”
Buffy is quiet for a long moment before she tilting her head curiously at her husband. “How do you feel about a trip to Vienna?”
Eric shrugs. “I’ll likely be expected for the funeral.” As if on cue, Sean’s phone rings. “Hello.”
Buffy shoots to her feet when Sean sways on his. “Sean?”
Sean’s so startled, even his iron control slips into a woge. “Father.”
Buffy’s eyes go wide and she grabs Sean’s arm to steer him into the nearest chair.
“No, sir. Yes, sir. Of course.” The phone drops to the table.
Buffy glances at the screen long enough to make sure the call is disconnected before turning her whole attention to her husband. She cups his cheeks. “Sean, look here. Focus on me.”
He blinks slowly a few times before shaking off the woge and smiling humorlessly. “Told you I’d be expected.”
“Think he was being cruel or kind by calling himself?”
Sean leans his face against her palm and closes his eyes. “I don’t have the first clue.”