He may be a homicide detective but Nick could count on one hand the number of times he's had someone knocking on his door in the middle of the night. It's never ended well. In his experience there are only three reasons for it. Either someone is dead, someone is going to jail, or someone is drunk and has the wrong house.
It's none of the above. The narrow, hunched shadow outside his door turns out to be Monroe. Nick has a moment to be surprised, because two in the morning is exactly the sort of time he starts wondering if he really does have a bad habit of pushing himself into other people's lives without asking. But he figures he owes the guy at least one free pass, no questions asked, he's the one who made them friends after all. So he pushes the door open.
Monroe trails cold night air into his house, looking around without making it obvious, and Nick has to wonder how much of his house Monroe can see in the dark. He waits, because even though he's just about awake enough to start this conversation, he feels like it's the job of the guy showing up at two in the morning to go first. Monroe doesn't seem to be up to it though. In fact, now he's inside, he looks like he doesn't have a clue why he's here.
"Something's wrong?" Nick guesses. Hovering somewhere between the door and the stairs. He's unsure whether this will involve shoes, and a jacket, and somewhere an hour from now, blood.
"No - yes." Monroe shakes his head. He looks annoyed at his inability to make sense, hands pushed so hard into his pockets that his shoulders are sharp curves. Nick can see every line of his face in the dark.
"I know I'm going to need coffee for this," Nick decides, and heads for the kitchen, he's cop enough to be able to do that without light. "And you look like you could use some too. It's not fancy though, it's cheap, and it comes in a jar."
Monroe wrinkles his nose at the suggestion.
"You make sacrifices on a budget." Nick thinks that comes out sounding more like an apology than an explanation.
"Coffee should never be a sacrifice." Monroe doesn't offer anything else. He stands behind him, while Nick runs water, and he thinks he can hear the sound of stitches popping under the press of knuckles.
"So, I'm not going to pretend I'm not surprised to see you here? I figured me barging into your house at least once a week wasn't exactly a highlight for you."
Monroe grunts. "I was wandering, and you'd be surprised what sort of things you end up following when you're distracted. Couldn't stop once I realised where I was going." There's a flicker of...something, but it's gone just as quickly.
"You were wandering," Nick prods. "At two in the morning?"
Monroe glares at him like that was an accusation, then seems to realise it wasn't and turns his head away.
"It hasn't been a good couple of days," he admits, stiffly. Nick's heard the same words before, but coming from Monroe they're almost guilty - no they're definitely guilty.
Nick stops moving, leans back against the counter and doesn't say anything.
Monroe's shoulders rise and then fall, something like a shrug. "It's been a while since I went one on one with anything, and helping you - it's like sense memories, right on the edge, too recent to shake off and everything starts looking -" Monroe bites off whatever word he wants to use and struggles for a better one instead. "Breakable, I don't know. Everything smells alive, everything's a temptation. It's hard when you want to follow something and keep away from it at the same time. Your brain just ends up walking in circles, and then it's no good to you. You don't know whether to wear it out or to keep yourself focused. I've been - I haven't been doing so good at that." His eyes lift, meet Nick's, and then slide away.
"You haven't...done anything?" Nick asks. He tries to keep the words calm, but he wants - he needs the answer to be no.
Monroe looks at him for a long, quiet minute, then finally shakes his head. It's hard not to try and read him, to try and turn all the twitches and tension into evidence. But Nick trusts him, he really does, and he can already feel himself relaxing, breathing out.
"I'd imagine an empty house isn't a good environment for it," he says.
Monroe's eyebrows draw down. "Stop doing that - just stop."
"Acting like everything's fine. It's not fine. I shouldn't even be here. I don't know why I came." There's a snarl under the words, rising and falling like a wave.
Nick watches him tense and relax, restless, like he wants to pace but he's resisting.
"You could have come over earlier. I wouldn't have minded."
Monroe shakes his head. "Not a good idea, it was never a good idea."
Nick can't see how it matters. They've been spending enough time together lately that the lines are kind of blurred already. Monroe's never said no, not outright, and a couple of times he's followed Nick without them even talking about it. It's not like it's a secret where he lives. Though Nick gets the impression that's another thing he doesn't have in common with all the other Grimms. He doesn't have to be told you wouldn't find any of them in the phone book.
"But you still came," he points out. Monroe presses his teeth together, and says nothing.
Nick can hear the pot clicking behind him and he turns around.
There's a low growl from the dark side of the kitchen, a shift of boots on the floor.
"I'm pretty sure you didn't come here to eat me," Nick says, hand hovering, not sure whether to keep moving, or to stay still.
"Maybe I did." Monroe's significantly closer than he was before, voice just over Nick's left shoulder.
There's a squeak of rubber, and a hand around his throat, turning him and pressing him back. Nick gets his own hand up and round Monroe's wrist, but it only takes him one ineffective tug to realise there's no way he's pulling it free.
"You have no idea what I want to do to you right now." Monroe leans right into his personal space, heavy and far too warm for having been outside for an hour or more, nails too sharp, voice gravel-low. Nick's crowded so tight into the counter he can feel the hard jut of it into his back, chest tight, and they're pressed together hard enough that Nick's pretty sure he gets a few of the general themes. There's tension in Monroe's hand, it starts off loose, but gradually tightens, drawing Nick's neck up and back. There's a rough noise, low and interested, as if the gesture had been for show and now it's something very real. Fingers refusing to uncurl.
"Will that help?" Nick asks, honestly curious, fighting to keep his voice steady. "Will that make you feel better, or worse?"
Monroe's mouth is a thin line, eyes gone narrow, and dark, and Nick gets the impression he's thinking about it.
"I might even say yes, but I'm pretty sure this is just an excuse to push. You want to scare me, because it's a rush, isn't it? You miss that."
There's the faintest squeeze, and Nick swallows.
"I could be wrong though." Nick stares at him, at the way his eyes keep tracking back to his mouth, barely human any more. Nick has no idea what he smells like right now, whether it's helping or not, but he keeps his expression as calm as he can make it. "The bed's probably still warm."
"Shut up." Monroe's nails dig into the back of his neck.
"All you have to do is -"
"Shut up." It comes out hard, but there's nothing after it, there's just breathing.
"You want that coffee now?" Nick offers quietly.
There's a huff of air, and the hand at his throat relaxes completely, and slips away.
"You're insane," Monroe says seriously, from very close, words slow and surprised, as if he's finally realised it's actually true. Nick's not sure if that's a compliment, or some final diagnosis that means he's beyond help. He's holding onto a laugh, which feels like relief more than anything else, and his hands are fisted in the material under Monroe's coat. He's not sure how they got there. If he leans in they'll pretty much be hugging.
"I feel the weirdest urge to say thank you, but I think that's just going to annoy you."
Monroe still looks conflicted, but it's something softer and more complicated than before. Nick pushes at him, gently, and Monroe moves back immediately, farther than he needs to. Nick turns his back on him again - which gets him an annoyed huff - and fishes two mugs out of the cupboard.
"The first time I met you I shoved you against a wall and threatened you, I figured it was only fair."
"You were an idiot, following the only evidence you had," Monroe grumbles, fiddling with something in his pocket, like he hadn't just been a second away from losing control. "I don't have any excuse."
"I think you're good at this," Nick says, looking back at him for long enough to see the sharp press of mouth, before dragging the milk out of the fridge. "You've been doing it for too long not to be. You'd probably be surprised how far you can push yourself."
"You're the only one stupid enough to bet your life on that. You can't just expect the best of everyone you know. It's going to get you eaten." Monroe makes it sound like he actually cares. Though his expression says he's not happy about it, and also that he has no idea when it happened.
Nick shakes his head, because that's ridiculous. He doesn't know where people get this idea about him. "I don't expect the best out of everyone. I'm a cop, believe me, I know exactly how nasty people can be. Maybe I hope for the best sometimes, but I know what people can do when they decide to just not care any more. They just switch off that part of themselves and give in to whatever else is pushing them. I think you still care, whether you like it or not. You know you're responsible for everything you do."
Nick holds the mug out, and it steams in mid-air before Monroe rolls his eyes and takes it.
"You're not listening, I'm trying to tell you that the idea of us being friends is crazy."
"I don't know, I'm kind of enjoying it," Nick admits, and it's the honest truth.
Monroe's eyebrows do something hilarious, and Nick knows he didn't expect that. It seems to knock all the angry tension out of him. He stares at his coffee, as if he doesn’t have a clue what to do with it, before eventually giving up and drinking it.
"This is awful," he says immediately.
"I know," Nick admits. "Why do you think I always come to your house."
Monroe glares at him. Nick smiles, because he's kind of getting attached to the way Monroe can go from confused and exasperated to annoyed without any facial expression in-between.
"I have whipped cream," he offers as an apology.
Monroe shakes his head at him. "What sort of a monster puts whipped cream in coffee?"
"It's two in the morning, if I'm up drinking coffee I can put whatever I want in it." Nick gives up on leaning against the counter, because it's hard, and cold and he's not the one wearing a jacket.
He reaches a hand up and catches Monroe's arm, tugs.
"I need to sit down if we're going to talk about this, the floor's freezing."
Monroe resists, just a little. "We don't need to talk about it."
"Then we'll just sit on the couch and drink awful coffee in silence, at two in the morning, which won't be weird at all." Nick pushes, and Monroe is forced to either walk or let Nick fall on him. He chooses to walk, and he navigates Nick's house perfectly well in the dark, which answers one question at least.
Monroe takes one end of the couch, legs awkward, elbow balanced on the side, which leaves his coffee sort of in mid-air. He looks uncomfortable and confused, and Nick's still kind of fascinated how he can do that, how he can be so many things all at the same time. Nick settles back against the arm, and fills the space between them with his legs, just because it's there.
"I know I haven't really given you much choice, I've been kind of throwing stuff at you, because quite frankly it was either that or just blunder around aimlessly in the dark until I hit something." Nick scrubs a hand through his hair. "But you never said no, and I kind of took advantage of that, a bit...a lot. I do really appreciate having you around, and not just as some sort of source of helpful facts. But if you can't do it without -"
"I can do it," Monroe fixes him with a sharp look. "I can do it. It's just different, unpredictable. It's more complicated." There's a drum of fingers against ceramic, Nick thinks there's more there, that he's not willing to share. "And it's probably not a good idea to call me for any gruesome crime scenes, for a while. Until I get my head straight."
"Believe me, hoping for no gruesome crime scenes is something I do every day." Nick pulls a face. "Though probably for different reasons."
Monroe doesn't answer that, because - well Nick's pretty sure he knows the reasons and they're probably both happier not sharing them.
"You can call me, for other stuff, if you want." There's a heavy dose of reluctance to the sentence, but Nick's going to take him at his word.
"Like where to buy my coffee?" Nick guesses, because Monroe's doing more staring into his mug than drinking.
Monroe nods. "Definitely that, seriously, you could polish silver with this."
"Or if I just want some company at two in the morning because I feel like I'm going out of my mind?"
Nick's watching for it, so he sees the tendons in Monroe's jaw flex. But then he very carefully relaxes, settles his face into something that's either annoyed, or faking it so well it makes no difference. Then he nods.
"As long as you're not drunk, or singing, or drunk and singing."