Nick stared hard at the little girl clutching her frantic father's hand.
"You're sure you're not making this up?" he said, his stern police tone designed to make sure she was holding nothing back.
She stared back, unwavering but also unspeaking until her father shook her wrist gently.
"Tell the cop," he said. "Tell him what happened."
"My doll," she began, then stopped, her eyes filling with tears.
"Its eyes changed," the father broke in. "I saw them too. That's why..."
"Sir," said Nick. "we will get to your story. For now we need Stacey's before she forgets, or embroiders, or simply gives up."
"My doll's eyes," Stacey began again. "Her eyes started to cry. Real tears. And she isn't a crying, weeing, baby doll and we weren't in the rain and I didn't bath her." She glared, defying the adults to contradict her.
"I think," said Hank, "we should call Monroe in on this. He might have more experience than us, or his friend might, the one with the herbs and stuff."
"You mean..." - the father again - "you believe us? You're not just going to accuse us of wasting police time? Because I told Stacey, if it's true, she should be reporting it, and then she showed me and I was all, 'let's go to the authorities,' but..."
"...on the way here," Nick filled in, "you had second thoughts and wondered if we'd buy the story."
"Well, yes." The man looked shamefaced.
"The thing is," said Hank, "have you brought the doll with you?"
It turned out they hadn't; they'd locked it in a shed at the bottom of the garden, got in the car and headed to the police station.
The officers bundled them (sans doll) into a cop car and went to Monroe's, phoning ahead to make sure he was in and waiting for them. Hank hadn't had time to talk to Nick alone but he had seen the infinitesimal widening of his partner's eyes. The girl, at least, was Wesen.
Monroe was in. He was lovingly repairing one of two old cuckoo clocks brought to him for restoration.
"It had better be important," he said.
"Hello, Monroe. Nice to see you, too," said Nick. He ushered Stacey and her father in, introducing them as they entered the house.
Instant chaos as Stacey recognised the Blutbad as a predator and screamed, causing her father to change, showing the sharp teeth but terrified face of a Maulwerfe. his eyes shrinking as the others watched.
Monroe sighed. "I won't hurt you," he promised. "I'm a reformed Blutbad. Tell you what," he went on, as Stacey shivered and clung to her dad's knee, "let's play a game, to calm us all down."
Somehow they sat together, Stacey still shaking, either side of the table.
"What are we gonna play?" Stacey asked.
"How about 'what time is it Mr Wolf'?" muttered her distraught parent, then added, bravely, "There are enough clocks."
"Not tiddlywinks - we haven't got any," said Hank.
'Animal, vegetable or mineral' was all Nick could think of and it didn't seem either relevant or appropriate.
"How about 'truth or dare'?" said Monroe, whipping a spinner out from behind one of the clocks. He got some odd looks from the grown-ups but Stacey grabbed the thing and was instantly spinning it. It stopped, pointing at Nick.
"Truth or dare?" asked Stacey.
"Truth," he said, promptly.
"Is it true he's reformed?"
"Yes,and he won't hurt you. We're here so he can help."
Stacey gave a tiny sob and the spinner was off again. It found Hank this time and he too opted for truth.
"Is it true you can see us?" the child asked. "You know..."
"No," said Hank. "Nick and Monroe can see you. I just trust them."
The third time, the spinner pointed to Monroe and Stacey dared look straight at him.
"Dare," he said, probably to break the pattern.
"I dare you," she began, then stopped to think. "I dare you to kiss the person you love best in this room." A child's dare.
"Easy," said Monroe, ignoring her tiny, appealing, Maulwerfe eyes, and moved round the table to Nick's side.
"Hey," said Hank, minutes later, "I think you met the dare. You can stop now."
Nick and Monroe emerged from the kiss breathless and blushing.
"I think," said Stacey, "that's enough of the game. You kissed the nice man so you can't be all that bad and he said maybe you'd know why my doll cried real tears. Do you know?"
"Unfortunately," said Monroe, "I do." The curse of the crying dolls, he told them, was something created by the Rotaugen. They would enchant something that resembled a living thing. " 'Enchant' is the correct word" he added, in parentheses they could almost see. It might be a puppet, a mommet, a doll. They would give it a kind of half life. It could then be used to spy on whichever family was unfortunate enough to possess it and report to its makers. If it disliked the report it was giving or the results it suspected might ensue, it would cry.
Further discussion narrowed down the possible Rotauge - Stacey's father's boss. He wanted an excuse to fire Sean.
"And so the doll told him something about me and regretted it?" said Sean. "But what?"
"Perhaps that you weren't really sick when you stayed at home to look after me last week," said Stacey and explained there had been a fallen roof at school and an unexpected day off for the children.
"So I might get fired." Sean shrugged. "Or I might fight him at a tribunal and win. At least now we know. And that doll of yours can stay in the shed. We don't want a spy in the house and we don't want it to go to anyone else. Where did you get it, anyway?"
"At the Christmas party at your office," said Stacey. "It was on Santa's sleigh with my name on the card."
They left with thanks, relief written all over them, to wait by the cop car.
"I wish they were all that easy," said Hank, "though I've no idea how we're going to write the report."
"Boss puts spy cam in child's doll to entrap employee. Plan foiled by breakdown of mechanism which made doll appear dangerous so they reported it to us," said Nick promptly.
Hank's eyebrows rose but he nodded and rose to go. Nick followed but hung back at the door.
"I just want a word with Monroe," he said. "I'll make my own way back."
When they were alone he looked at Monroe.
"O.K." he said. "You love me best in the room. Not a surprise really, but I expected a peck on the cheek."
Munroe was buried in the parts of a clock and did not reply.
"Monroe," said Nick, softly, "I'm still playing, here, and the spinner still points at you."
Monroe allowed one eye to peer round a pile of clockwork mechanisms." "Doesn't really matter what I choose," he said. "You'll either tell me to tell you the truth or you'll dare me to."
"Well," said Nick, "I was hoping you'd choose 'dare' and I'd dare you to carry on where you left off, but I don't much care which you choose as long as you choose me."
And then, a long time later, "What about her?"
"Her?" said Monroe. "Stacey?"
"No, at the shop. Rosalie."
"Oh, well, she's my friend, my very good friend, but she knows my preferences. And what about Juliette for that matter?"
"And those preferences are?" asked Nick, shrugging at the mention of Juliette.
"Those," said Monroe, "must be obvious by now, even to a cop. Or a Grimm. But just in case, I'd better make them even more obvious all over again." And he did.
Sex with a Blutbad, Nick decided, was exciting in ways he'd never imagined. Seeing his lover's face change and change back, feeling the strength of the other waxing and waning, hearing the growls that accompanied his orgasm and the howl that was part of Monroe's own - these were all terrifying, exhilarating and somehow deeply satisfying.
He looked at the arms that were still clutching him, noticing the slight furriness over the taut muscles, and felt both safe and wildly daring. Monroe held him tighter, cock already stiff again, and murmured, "I don't think your researches have really gone into Wesen sex much, have they? It will all be there somewhere in the trailer, but..."
"... I don't think Aunt Marie would have thought it a top priority for me," agreed Nick.
"The thing is," said Monroe, "we don't... well, we don't take long before we're ready again. And I don’t want to wear you out."
"Monroe," said Nick, "you can wear me out any time you like. but I'm going back to work now. I'll be round again later, though. Count on it."
He disentangled his legs from Monroe's, found his pants somewhere behind the couch and got ready to go.
"What?" he asked. He felt Monroe's eyes on him as he reached the door.
"Nothing - just admiring the view," said Monroe. "Did you know your ass is delicious, clothed or otherwise?"
"I hope you don't mean that quite how it sounded," said Nick. "You're a reformed character, remember?"
"Well," said Monroe, "if I said I could eat you I wouldn't mean it literally or at least not in the Blutbad sense. But I'd love to have the chance to show you exactly what I do mean. So hurry back, my Grimm."
"Your Grimm," said Nick. "That has quite a nice ring to it. I think I might like being your Grimm."
"Yes," said Monroe. "My very own fairy tale come true." And he laughed. "We could go through all kinds of images, you know. Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood and so on. But as long as you keep returning you'll be my Grimm."
Nick blew him a kiss as he opened the door. "Off to save Portland from the forces of evil," he said lightly. "But don't worry. I'll be back."