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Pretend a Little

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“You're kidding,” Nick said.

Looking him straight in the eyes, the Captain shook his head.

Letting out a breath, Nick his hand over his face. “Okay,” he said. “Okay. So, not kidding.” He frowned.

“I know this is a lot to take in,” Renard said, spreading his hands and leaning forward over the desk. “But unfortunately, recent circumstances are forcing our hand.”

“Which means we have to date.”

“To give the appearance of dating, yes.”

Nick laughed. “This is insane.”

“Nick.” Stepping around his desk, Renard approached his detective. “I wouldn't ask this of you if I didn't think it important. Members of my family will most likely arrive in Portland today -”

“Today!” Nick exclaimed. “And you didn't think to warn me earlier?”

“I had hoped that it would not be necessary.”

“And now it is?”

“Yes -” The Captain paused as a knock came on his door. Turning to face it, a frown crossed over his face. “Yeah?” he called.

The door opened and Wu poked his head inside. “Sorry to interrupt,” he said, “but I've got a, ah,” he glanced down at his notepad, “Prince Viktor Albert Wilhelm George Beckendorf; and His Royal Highness, King Frederick Renard, here to see you.” Wu paused, glancing up at the Captain. “I don't think either of them are in any mood to wait at the moment.”

“Send them in,” Renard replied.

Shooting the Captain another curious look, Wu ducked back out of the room.

“Today?” Nick hissed, taking a step forward so that he was fully in Renard's space, glaring up at him. “I think this is a little more than 'arriving in Portland today'!”

“As much as I would like to be in control of everything,” Renard hissed back, “I'm not. I only received confirmation of their arrival this morning. Would you have preferred I woke you at 3am in order to -”

“Maybe you should have -”

“If I -”

The sound of the door opening behind them had Nick leaning forward. He was already standing toe-to-toe with the Captain, eyes locked as they argued, so it didn't take much for him to lean in, hands fisting in Renard's suit lapels and dragging the taller man down into a kiss.

It was harsh and hard and abrupt. But at least it gave the appearance that they were standing close together because they liked each other, and not because they had been in the middle of what had been working towards being a rather heated argument. Automatically, the Captain's hands came to rest on Nick's hips, drawing him closer.

Someone cleared their throat behind them.

Slowly stepping back, Nick felt his lips cling to Renard's for a moment, before releasing. His eyes were blown wide, and he unconsciously flicked out his tongue to catch the lingering taste on his lips. Swallowing, the Captain stepped further back, putting space between them and forcing their hands to drop from each other.

Smoothing down his jacket, the Captain turned his attention to the newcomers. “Father, Viktor,” he said.

Tugging his own shirt straight, Nick turned around to face the reason for the impromptu kiss. He just hoped that Renard's explanation – when he got it – was reason enough for this whole fake dating thing.

“Sean,” the King said. His eyes swept over his son, before moving on to take in the Grimm. Nick Burkhardt wasn't particularly large or muscled. While appearing fit, there was nothing to make him stand out. But that didn't mean the Grimm wasn't dangerous. Just because the King couldn't see it in him – well, perhaps that made him all the more dangerous. And King Frederick had heard some of the stories, including one about the heads of two Reapers sent home in a box.

The Captain motioned to Nick. “This is Detective Nick Burkhardt,” he said. “Nick, this is -”

“Oh, I think we all know he's a bit more than that,” the King cut him off.

Squaring his jaw, Nick stared the King down. He didn't care if the man was technically royalty, or that he hardly knew anything about him. What he did know was enough to firm his resolve. This was the man who had fathered Eric – who had tried to kidnap Nick and steal him away from Portland. He was also the man who had never tried to be a father to the Captain.

Shifting slightly, as though simply getting more comfortable, Nick took a step closer to his Captain, while baring his teeth in a threatening smile.

“And yet,” he said, “that hardly seems relevant.” Turning, he glanced at the Captain, a question in his eyes. Renard tilted his head in a barely there nod. “Well,” said Nick, glancing back over at their royal guests. “If you'll excuse me, I have a number of leads to follow up on.”

“Oh, you mustn't go yet,” King Frederick replied, “we've barely met.”

“Duty calls,” Nick replied.

“Then you must join us for dinner,” Viktor cut in, his eyes darting between Nick and Renard. “After all, it's been such a long time since we've seen Sean. It would be simply delightful to sit down to dinner together, catch up, and get to know you.”

“Well,” Nick said, “we'll see how work pans out.” Then, with a nod to Renard, he stepped out of the Captain's office, closing the door behind him.

Glancing up, he saw Hank and Wu staring fixedly at him.

“What?” he asked, pushing away from the door and moving to join them at the desks.

Smirking, Wu let his eyes rake over the detective. “Thank you, good sir,” he said, “for ensuring that I win the pot. As usual.” He grinned.

Nick frowned. “What pot?”

Wu let his eyes dart towards the Captain's office. “Let's just say that that was an interesting moment I observed earlier.”

Nick's jaw dropped as he gaped at them. “What?” he asked. “You can't!”

“You couldn't have waited two more days?” Hank asked.

“Of course not,” Wu replied, “the man knows when it's best to make a move. Or revelation. Step out of the wooden prison cell.”

Nick was shaking his head. “You can't be serious,” he said.

“Well,” Wu said, “admittedly, it's not like you were ever really in the closet, in the closet. But this whole relationship,” he waved one hand around to somehow indicate between Nick and the Captain, “that was kept kinda close.” He smirked. “But not quite close enough, for those of us who know how to detect.”

“You can't have won a pot!” Nick said. “What pot? How come I didn't -”

“You know the rules,” Wu replied with a roll of his eyes. “You can't bet in a pot when it's about you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some spending of my winnings to plan.”

Watching him leave, Nick had the insane urge to thump his head down on his desk.

“Relax,” Hank said, “Wu's not going to say anything, just record the date for when it's safe to say something and collect his winnings.” He paused, frowning at Nick. “You okay?” he asked. “You look kind of stunned. You know Wu's always one to get in on the betting around here.”

“You don't know the half of it,” Nick replied, shaking his head.

*

They ended up at a furniture warehouse less than an hour later, staring down at the dead body of the Packing Manager. Blood spread out from a head wound – most likely the cause of death. Around them, the anxious workers shifted, muttering together and collectively exhibiting signs of shock.

Glancing up, Nick sighed, sharing a glance with Hank before they moved over to begin questioning the workers.

Reaching a smaller, twitchy man, Nick frowned. Mr Brown, as he stammeringly introduced himself, was making that part of Nick that he tended to simply label his 'Grimm senses' tingle. From one moment to the next, the man woged. A mauzhertz. Immediately, the man stumbled backwards, hands coming up before him.

Closing his eyes, partly in frustration at the characteristic reaction of a wesen to finding out he was a Grimm, and partly simply because he was getting kind of tired of said reaction, Nick held his own hands out to the side.

“No, no, no, no,” the mauzhertz moaned, stumbling back into a stack of wooden coffee tables.

“Relax,” Nick said, trying to project as much calm as he could. “I'm not here to hurt you. I'm a cop. I just need to ask you a few questions. Nothing more.”

Tripping, the mauzhertz tumbled to the ground, entire body shaking. A quick glance showed that they were beginning to gain an audience of the other workers and the uniforms. Wu was frowning in their direction.

“Look,” Nick said, squatting down before Brown and keeping his hands spread out to either side, open to show that he wasn't holding any weapons. “I'm not here to hurt you. I just want to help.” Slowly, he reached out, grasping hold of Brown's arm to help pull him to his feet. As he did so, Brown froze, first in terror and then in something else, nose twitching and face rippling in shock, before he suddenly went limp and relaxed.

Nick blinked, not entirely sure what had happened, before pulling them both up to their feet.

“Are you all right?” he asked, steadying Brown as he swayed.

“Yeah – yes. Yes,” the mauzhertz replied, giving himself a shake. He stared at Nick in a kind of awe. “My apologies. It's just, well, a little much to take in, if you understand me.”

Nick gave a slight smile. “Right,” he said.

*

Their investigation led them through a part of town that Nick generally tried to ignore. Not because he didn't like the area, or the people there, but rather because it tended to be a wesen-heavy area and he had no desire to start a mass panic.

Stopping at a cafe they had been informed their suspect frequented, they were confronted with a lowen barista, who immediately woged and snarled at Nick, leaning across the counter to glare at him.

“You!” the lowen began, before drawing in a deep breath and freezing. His eyes widened and he took a step back. “My apologies,” he said, dipping his head slightly. “I was not aware of your new status.”

*

There was a background hum as they walked down the street from the cafe, which Nick tried hard to ignore. Around them, various wesen shot curious and furtive glances their way, woging between their human and wesen forms as they did so.

“Okay,” Hank said, turning to Nick. “What's going on?”

“What?”

“You have that look. You pretty much haven't lost it all day. What's up?”

Sighing, Nick shook his head. “I don't know,” he said, “they've never reacted to me like this before.”

*

Their suspect, who turned out to be human, was captured by three in the afternoon, along with enough evidence that they could easily book him and hand him over to the DA.

“Glad that's over,” Hank said, shaking his head.

“Just paperwork left,” Nick replied with a smile.

“Tell you what,” Hank said, “you head off. I'll take care of it.”

“Not that I'm not grateful, but what's brought this on?”

Hank gave him a look as though he was being stupid. “Go,” he said, “before I change my mind.” At the same time, Wu walked past, humming the wedding march under his breath.

Rolling his eyes, Nick held his hands up in surrender. “Whatever,” he said. Turning, he headed towards the Captain's office.

“Have a good night!” Hank called after him. Spinning, Nick shot his partner a glare before turning back and knocking on the Captain's door.

“Yeah,” Renard called. Opening the door, Nick poked his head inside.

“You got a minute?” he asked.

“Of course.” Motioning Nick in, Renard pushed his paperwork away from him. “What can I do for you?”

“Now that's a loaded question if ever I heard one.” Both Nick and Renard's heads shot around to stare at Wu. Holding his hands up, the Sergeant motioned towards the papers held in one hand. “Sorry,” he said, “but you wanted this ASAP,” he told Renard, handing it over. “And now, I'm going,” he added, backing away from their glares.

With a groan, Nick shut the door behind him. “Great,” he said.

“Actually,” Renard replied, “it is. The fact that Hank and Wu believe us makes it far more likely that others will as well. But I doubt you came in here to talk about them.”

“No.” Pushing himself away from the wall, Nick approached the Captain's desk, dropping down into the chair in front of it. “I thought I better check in with you about our plans for this evening?”

“Viktor and my father expect us to join them for dinner at El Gaucho. However, it is likely that they will take the opportunity to investigate my living situation under the guise of giving us a lift to the restaurant.”

“So I should make sure to be at yours.”

“It would be helpful.”

“What time?”

Renard glanced over at his computer. “Better make it six,” he said, “they shouldn't be there that early, but, just in case.”

“Of course.” Pushing himself to his feet, Nick gave a soft laugh, shaking his head.

“What?”

“It's just – not exactly how I was planning to spend my evening.”

“Oh?”

He shrugged. “Hey, my original plans involved a lot more feeling sorry for myself and moping around the place.”

Renard frowned. “How are you doing?” he asked.

Nick shrugged. “I'm okay,” he said. “I mean, sometimes I do get a bit mopey, but, it was for the best. Besides, Juliette and I still talk. I think we're actually closer now that we're just friends.”

“I'm glad.”

Nick glanced at the door. “I'd better go before Wu comes up with any other jokes,” he said.

“Go on,” Renard agreed, watching his best detective leave with a smile.

*

Standing in front of his wardrobe, doors flung wide, Nick stared. Closing his eyes, he shook his head. “Get a grip,” he muttered to himself. “It's just a fake date. With his family – who don't know it's fake.”

Groaning, he pulled out his phone, calling Monroe on automatic.

“Nick,” Monroe said, “you will not believe the rumours that I have heard floating around today. I mean, I kinda woged in shock when I first heard them, if you know what I mean, and scared a poor reinigen half to death.”

“Monroe,” Nick interrupted him, “I need some advice.”

“Uh yeah, okay. I mean, you usually call 'cos there's something you want to ask. What is it this time? Do I need to start heading for the trailer?”

“No, no. Nothing like that. This is... more personal.”

“Okay...” there was a suspicious hesitation in Monroe's voice that had Nick's instincts standing up. Ignoring it, he pressed on.

“The Captain's family are in Portland,” he said.

“His royal family?”

“Yeah. And they want to go to dinner with us.”

“Us, as in?”

“Me and the Captain. At El Gaucho. What do I wear?”

There was silence on the other end of the line.

“Monroe?”

“Right, okay. So, should have seen that one coming,” Monroe muttered.

“I mean, I don't want them to think I'm dressing up for them – if I had my way, we'd be giving them a rather permanent incentive to leave Portland. But it's El Gaucho, so I also can't not make any effort at all. And it's sort of meant to be a kind of date, I guess, so... I should probably wear a suit, shouldn't I?” he continued, without really waiting for Monroe to reply. “A suit is definitely needed for El Gaucho. Something formal – but not too over the top. I have the suit I use for any official work functions.”

“That could work,” Monroe managed to get in.

“But then do I go tie? Bowtie?”

“You have bowties?”

“No. I don't think so. Maybe one. Somewhere. Juliette made me wear it once, when we went to one of her cousin's weddings. I felt like it was choking me the entire time.”

“Probably not the best idea to wear that, then,” Monroe said. “Although really, with their history, in many ways a bowtie is considered to be more formal than a tie, and with links to old world fashion and elegance -”

“Definitely not the bowtie, then,” Nick decided. He frowned. “Do I need a pocket handkerchief?”

“Do you actually have any?”

“Ah, no. I'm sure I could buy one, though. But that would be putting too much effort in, wouldn't it? Definitely. Or should I put in a little effort? No, I don't want them to think -”

“Look, Nick, just, pick a tie that you like, is clean, and without any weird brightly coloured patterns, and you should be fine.”

“Do different coloured ties have different meanings?” Nick asked, staring at his assortment of the ties were they hung. “Not that I have that many colours, but -”

Monroe laughed.

“What?”

“Remember when you went to that fair with Rosalee and I,” the Blutbad explained, “and you bought that grey-green tie that we laughed at you about?”

“Ye-ah,” Nick said. It was something he remembered quite well, actually, but he supposed that was what happened when two of your friends laughed over you purchasing a tie and refused to tell you the reason for their laughter. He frowned. “You still haven't explained your amusement over that.”

“I'm sure you'll soon understand,” Monroe replied. “When do you have to be there?”

“Six.”

“Huh. Well, it's currently four-thirty. Why don't you let me give you a quick lesson in royal etiquette and politics before you have to leave?”

“Yeah, sure. That'd be great.”

They spent the next little while covering various things such as forms of address, what Nick could expect from the royals, and what they shouldn't do if trying to be polite.

“Hey,” Monroe said, suddenly cutting himself off mid-sentence. “Uh, just so you know, it's five-thirty.”

Cursing, Nick hung up the phone, hearing Monroe laughing as he did so.

*

Pulling up in front of the Captain's apartment building, Nick breathed in deeply, trying to settle his nerves. He glanced in the rear-view mirror, shifting until he could see himself in it.

“Just think of it as an undercover op,” he told himself. “It's no big deal. You can do this.” His palms were slightly sweaty, and he'd spent the entire time driving there wondering if he'd made the right clothing choice. Which was ridiculous. He certainly didn't care about making a good impression on the Captain's family.

Getting out of the car, Nick headed inside.

He'd been to the Captain's place a few times before. Not often, but enough that he knew where he was going. The building guard glanced up as he entered, giving Nick a smile.

“Detective Burkhardt,” he said, “go right ahead.”

Blinking, Nick nodded back to the guard, heading towards the elevators. Every time he had been there previously, he had had to announce himself and wait for the guard to call up to Renard first.

*

Renard opened the door to see Nick, dressed formally, and shifting from foot to foot. He smiled in relief. “Nick,” he said, “come in.” Stepping back, he motioned Nick forward and into the apartment.

“Hey,” Nick replied. “I hope this is okay?” he gestured at himself.

“Perfect,” Renard replied. “Would you like a drink?”

Nick laughed. “I'd love one,” he said, “but it's probably best if I don't start drinking just yet.” Renard let a small smirk cross his face as he caught the detective's eye.

“Fair enough,” he said. “Coffee?”

“Please.”

Leaning against the island counter, Nick watched his boss move easily around the kitchen. A rather fancy coffee machine soon produced a thick, dark liquid that had him groaning in appreciation just from the smell of it.

“One of the few true pleasures in life,” Renard said, handing him a mug.

Closing his eyes as he took a sip, Nick felt himself begin to relax. “If you had this at the precinct,” he said, “I don't think anyone would ever head home.” They shared a grin.

“Thank you,” said Renard. “For all of this.”

Nick shrugged. “You said it was important.”

“Yes,” the older man replied with a small smile. “It is. And it means a lot to me that you would agree without fully understanding it all. Your trust is important to me.”

Nick glanced down at his coffee, feeling his cheeks warm in a way he hoped the Captain wouldn't notice. “You're trusting me, too,” he said. Giving himself a small shake, he glanced up at Renard. “It looks like your 'family' aren't here yet. Is there anything else I need to know about this?”

“Yeah.” Motioning Nick forward into the living room, Renard followed him, taking a seat beside Nick on the couch. “The recent, upheaval, in regards to the royal families has caused quite a stir,” he said. “Eric's death has not been taken lightly. My presence in Portland has long gone ignored or scorned, but that is changing. The presence of an active Grimm in the city lends it a certain – prestige – which was previously lacking.” He glanced up from where he had been staring into his coffee. “Added to this, is my father and Viktor's presence in Portland.”

Nick frowned. “They want me,” he said.

Renard nodded. “Yes. The power that comes from being able to claim a Grimm would sway many of those who are unsure as yet as to whether they want to support the Royals or the Laufer.”

“Surely they don't think that I would help them?”

“I don't think they much care what you want. Only what they can force you to do.” Sighing, Renard leant back on the couch, though there was a rigidity in his posture, and formality in his speech, that suggested he was slipping into the more courtly manners of his youth. “However, as of yet, there has been no indication that they intend to take you by force. Instead, they are ostensibly visiting in order to see how I am doing. It also gives them an opportunity to meet you and try and convince you to work for them.”

Nick shook his head. “That's not going to happen,” he said.

“Of course not.”

“And so we're dating?”

“There are certain rules that, though they frequently and without remorse break them, the Royals are bound to uphold a semblance of adhering to. One of which is not stealing a Grimm against their consent – not when they've allied themself with another Royal.”

“So if I wasn't allied to anyone, I'd be fair game.”

Renard nodded.

“And the fact that we work together, and you're basically my boss doesn't count as allied?”

“It does,” Renard agreed. “But not nearly so much as an alliance of a more personal nature. It could be claimed, should they wish, that I am merely your boss in the human world. And in the matters of a Grimm, you are still free.”

“We can't just tell them I've allied myself with you?”

“The royal families are old-world. Marriage is often seen as the only truly unbreakable alliance.”

Nick choked on his drink. “We need to get married?” he asked.

The Captain shook his head. “No. They are aware enough of current times that a presumed romantic attachment between us should be enough to dissuade any overt actions on their end. At the very least, they will need to leave Portland with you here, and come up with any further plans after that. The knowledge of our relationship would also spread to the other royal families, giving us a measure of protection from their interference as well. But there is another reason for this.”

“Good,” Nick replied, “'cos right now all I'm really wanting to do is show your family just why it isn't wise to mess with a Grimm.”

A slight smirk crossed Renard's face. “While I can't say I would be disappointed should you do so, I believe that trying it my way first will go a long way to creating a sense of stability and safety in the area that will gain us strong support from the wesen community in Portland.

“It has long been known that you are not like other Grimms. The 'catch and release' Grimm I believe they have started to call you.” Nick shrugged. Renard smiled at him. “But years of fear aren't that easily erased. Those you have met are eager to sing your praises, but those you haven't are still wary.”

“And dating will fix that?”

“Yes.” The Captain smirked. “It will. Recent events have forced my protection of the city to become more visible. The wesen community is aware of who I am. And they also understand the alliance of marriage. If we are seen to be... together, then it will become known that we are allies. No-one will doubt whether you are merely keeping up an appearance of following my orders, or biding your time.

“Your involvement with me will make you a known, and safe, variable. The role of the Royals was always to govern the people – human and wesen alike. To enforce law and order, and to protect them.” Renard leant forward as he spoke, and Nick could see the passion in his eyes. “The Laufer exists because the Royals haven't been doing their jobs. The wesen, and people, are scared, unprotected, and rebelling.

“Now that my status – bastard that I am – is known, I have been informed that the wesen of Portland are beginning to see me as their Royal. Which means protection. If they see you allied with me, then they will see you as an extension of the protection they expect from me.”

“And instead of begging me not to kill them, they'll expect me to help them out?”

Renard shrugged. “In some ways. They also expect me to lay down the law – so your work as a Grimm would continue. But, though you already do so, they would see you as more of an officer of the law than the monster who comes to kill them all.”

Nick grimaced. “Yeah,” he said. “I figure my ancestors have a lot to answer for.” Sighing, he ran his hand through his hair. “Let me get this straight. You're saying that, in order to keep up a veneer of civility with your family, and to reassure the wesen that I am not the kind of Grimm who simply kills indiscriminately, we're pretending to date.”

Renard nodded. “Wesen who feel safe and secure will also lend their support behind us. With their support, it would be very hard for my family to attempt any plots against you in Portland.”

Shaking his head, Nick stared at his Captain, hardly believing the conversation they had just had. “You think this is for the best?” he asked.

“I do.”

“Well, that's all I really need to know.”

Staring back at Nick, the Captain felt a warmth burn brightly in his chest. No-one had ever trusted him so much before.

Nick smiled. “You know,” he said, “I think your explanation might give some reasons for the incredibly weird day I've had.”

“Oh?” Renard asked, unconsciously leaning closer to him.

Smiling, Nick began to talk about his day – from mauzhertz to lowen to gossiping wesen.

*

The call from the Building Guard interrupted one of Nick's stories of things he'd done as a Grimm – before he came to know about Renard and began sharing more of what he was doing with the older man.

“Sir, Prince Viktor and King Frederick are here to see you,” the Guard informed them.

“Send them up,” Renard replied, glancing at the clock with a grimace as he pushed himself to his feet. Nick followed his gaze, startled to realise that they had been speaking for a bit over an hour. During their talk, both men had slumped back against the couch, getting comfortable.

Tugging on his suit jacket to straighten it, and to try to erase any wrinkles, Nick looked up to see Renard smiling at him.

“What?” he asked.

Shaking his head, the Captain stepped forward, reaching out to pass his hands over the front of Nick's suit. Renard's own suit appeared to be made of some never-wrinkle fabric that Nick envied greatly in that moment (he ignored the small voice in his head that suggested he would have liked a reason to touch the Captain as well).

Firm hands swept down Nick's chest, burning through the layers of fabric between them. His throat went dry and his breath caught.

There was a knock on the door, followed immediately by the sound of it opening.

“Sean!” King Frederick called. Glancing over his Captain's shoulder, Nick watched the two royals enter the apartment. Renard's hands were on his sides, smoothing the fabric there, before moving easily to straighten his tie. Nick swallowed. Renard shot him a grin.

Turning to his family members, Renard took them in with a glance. “Father, Viktor,” he said. “So glad you could join us this evening. I thought we were meeting you at the restaurant?”

“Oh, no need for that,” Frederick replied. “After all, this gives us a bit more time to catch up.” His eyes moved between the two men, taking in the way they stood close together, not quite touching, but almost doing so. There was an ease in their body language that spoke of complete confidence and trust in the other. It was intriguing to see. Especially considering that his son was half-zauberbiest, and the other man was a Grimm.

“Very well,” said Renard. “Just give us a moment, and we'll be ready to leave.”

Frederick nodded, watching as both men turned, heading further into the apartment. He wanted to follow after them, to see what they were doing, but knew not to push his luck. They needed to tread carefully.

Following Renard through the apartment, Nick's eyes widened as he realised they were entering the other man's room. He paused in the doorway, hanging back as he watched Renard enter, grabbing a phone from the bedside table, along with his watch, a few papers, and a small vial.

Nick's brows furrowed. He was sure he had seen something like that vial before – although he couldn't quite place it.

“Ready?” Renard asked, glancing up at him.

For a moment, Nick felt the sudden panic of pretending to be dating his boss wash over him once more, before he deliberately pushed it away. Really, it couldn't be that hard, could it?

“Ready,” he agreed.

*

The car ride to the restaurant passed in small talk. Discussion of the weather. The royal's flight to Portland from Europe. Renard's latest award as a Police Captain. Nick was thankful that the conversation stayed mainly away from him. They rode in a limo, stretch, Nick sitting close enough to Renard that their sides brushed against each other each time they went around a corner. He thought perhaps it should have been strange or awkward, but it wasn't. In fact, it felt like he had hardly moved closer to the Captain than usual – and he wondered whether they had always stood or sat that close (or almost that close), and he simply hadn't realised as he wasn't watching for it.

Stopping out the front of El Gaucho, they quickly left the limo, heading inside to where they were shown to a small, private table, tucked into a corner out of the way with windows looking out over the city providing them with a magnificent view. The dim, warm lighting and elegant table settings reminded Nick that, in some ways, this was a date.

As they approached the table, Renard stepped forward, pulling out a chair for Nick. He glanced at his Captain, but said nothing, realising that presenting a united front was far more important than quibbling over being treated like the 'girl' in the relationship (fake though it was). The small quirk to Renard's lips suggested he was well aware of Nick's thoughts, which caused the detective to shoot him a quick grin in return.

Once seated, the small talk continued, Nick content to mainly listen. They ordered their food – Renard adding a side to Nick's dish without asking, while Nick retaliated by suggesting the wine (one he new the Captain particularly liked).

“So, Nick,” Viktor began once their food was served, shaking out his napkin as he did so. “You don't mind if I call you Nick, do you?”

“As long as I can call you Viktor,” he replied, smiling across at the Prince. Viktor tilted his head in acknowledgement.

“I must say, I was rather surprised to hear that you had taken up with my cousin. He isn't exactly the sort of person your family normally associates with.”

Spearing a carrot with his fork, Nick kept his face relaxed as he replied. “Sometimes,” he said, “I think that people can break sufficiently away from their families that they can be seen as their own person. Strong, unique, and worth judging on their own merit.”

Lifting his wine glass to take a sip, Renard hid his grin behind it.

“It does you credit,” Viktor replied. “Though I can't say I entirely disagree with your family's teachings.”

“I wasn't talking about myself.”

There was a pause, food lifted to mouths in silence.

“It has been rather sudden, though, hasn't it?” Frederick asked. “Your relationship? One moment I'm wondering about the new Grimm and the next I hear that he's in a relationship with my son.”

Nick made a mental note to ask Renard later just when the royals had been informed of their relationship, but figured it was likely once they were confirmed to be on their way to Portland. Or perhaps when they landed.

“You have to admit that we haven't really kept up our relationship over the years,” Renard said smoothly, “so it is hardly surprising that you haven't been privy to all the details of my life.”

“Still, it has to be a fairly new relationship, doesn't it?” Frederick asked. “Surely not more than a day or so old? It certainly appeared to be news to your colleagues.” There was a suspicious spark in his eyes that Nick didn't like.

Nick let out a groan, remembering Hank and Wu's reactions. “You noticed that, huh?” he asked, shaking his head. “Look, I'm sure you realise that, as Sean is my boss, we've had to be rather careful about letting anyone become aware of our relationship. While it is really only a concern in the human world, it could cause significant challenges for us at work should our relationship become known.” He shrugged.

“And yet some of your colleagues now know,” Viktor interjected.

“They do,” Renard agreed, before turning to Nick. “Which reminds me.” He dug into his jacket pocket, pulling out the papers he had picked up from beside his bed and passing them over to Nick, along with a pen. “Sign here,” he said, indicating a signature line.

Taking the pen, Nick glanced down at the papers, scrawling his name across the line without reading them. “What's this?” he asked.

The slight start Viktor gave suggested Nick's trust in the Captain was a surprise to him.

Renard smiled. “I promised I would take care of our work situation and I have,” he said. “Officially, you are now transferred to being under Captain Benson. Practically, you'll continue to work just as you have been. However, as we are no longer technically in the same chain of command, any relationship between us would be beyond reproach.”

Nick blinked, taking it in. “Wow,” he said. Then he groaned. “This means Wu's going to be able to claim the pot, doesn't it?” he asked.

“I'm afraid so,” Renard replied, tone conciliatory, but eyes dancing with laughter as he reached out to cover Nick's hand with his own.

“The pot?” Viktor asked.

Nick sighed. “Wu's the guy to see if you want to place a bet,” he explained. “About anything. I found out today, due to our – indiscretion – that there has been a pot going concerned Sean's and my relationship.”

Viktor blinked, taking that in. “Then perhaps you weren't as circumspect as you thought,” he said.

Renard laughed. “We work with some of the best detectives in the world,” he said, “I'm not surprised we couldn't entirely pull one over on them.”

Their conversation drifted back towards small talk, and Nick felt like they'd won a victory. The way Renard's hand dropped down below the table for a moment, squeezing his thigh in thanks, confirmed those thoughts.

Excusing himself to use the bathroom before dessert, Nick was heading back towards their table when he bumped into Viktor. The Prince stepped into his path, causing Nick to come to a halt.

“Viktor,” he said.

“Grimm,” the Prince replied. Nick quirked one eyebrow, waiting. Viktor's eyes swept over Nick, from head to toe and then back up again. There was a hunger in them that made Nick tense. “You can do much, much better than my half-cousin, you know,” Viktor said. “A bastard royal who is half-beast and will always be overshadowed by the real members of the family.” He reached out, intending to place his hand on Nick's shoulder, but Nick moved, neatly stepping out of the way. A flash of annoyance crossed Viktor's face, before he smoothed it out into a somewhat charming smile once more. “There is much I can offer you,” he said, “why settle for the bastard throwaway of the family when you could have someone so much better?”

Face tight with tension, Nick drew a deep breath, silently reciting the main information Monroe had imparted to him that afternoon. He wanted to cut off Viktor's head – which he thought was really saying something considering that, as a Grimm, he was expected to go around chopping off wesen heads, but which he'd never really felt the desire to do before.

“I'm afraid you seem to have been misinformed,” he said. “Sean Renard is no way, shape, or form, inferior to anyone in this restaurant – or outside it.” He let his eyes drag over Viktor, inserting a degree of contempt into them. “I would even go so far as to say that he surpasses everyone here in every way. You have insulted myself and my lover,” he finished, using the formal words. “I take my leave of you.”

Smartly side-stepping Viktor, Nick strode back over to the table, where he came to a halt beside Renard. The older man glanced up at him, sensing his tension. “Nick?” he asked.

“I have been insulted,” Nick replied. “I would take our leave.”

Renard blinked, taking in his words, before swiftly rising to his feet with a nod. “Of course,” he said. “If that is your wish.”

“It is.”

“Excuse me, father,” Renard said smoothly, placing his napkin by his plate on the table. “We take our leave of you.” Turning, he ushered Nick before him with a hand on the small of his back, guiding them quickly through the restaurant and into the cool night air outside.

Glancing around, the Captain saw their limo from earlier parked nearby, raising a hand to motion it towards them. “Nicely done,” he told Nick in an undertone. “I didn't realise you knew enough about court etiquette to navigate it so well.”

Nick let out a short laugh. “Oh, I don't,” he said. “Or rather, I didn't. I got a crash course in it this afternoon from Monroe. I think my head's still spinning.”

The limo pulled up beside them and Renard reached out, smoothly opening the door for Nick, before climbing in after him. Despite being the only ones in the back of the limo, and having no-one watching them, they still sat close.

“Well, I'll have to thank Monroe, then,” Renard told him with a chuckle. “Because you performed perfectly.” He frowned. “What did Viktor say to insult you?”

“He suggested I should leave you for him,” Nick replied bluntly. “I let him know he had nothing at all I was tempted by, and then informed him he had insulted us and I was talking my leave.”

Renard laughed. “I would have liked to have seen that,” he said. Nick didn't reply, but silently thought that he was glad the Captain hadn't seen, or heard, it. The things Viktor had said had not been nice.

*

They returned to Renard's apartment, Nick pulling at his tie to loosen it as they entered. It seemed to be stuck and he tugged hard at it in frustration. Turning back from placing down his keys, Renard smirked at him.

“Here, let me,” he said, motioning Nick forward. Dropping his hands from his tie, Nick stepped forward, tilting his head back to bare his throat and the knot he'd managed to make of his tie.

Carefully loosening the knot, Renard shook his head. “However did you manage this?” he asked.

Nick laughed, his adam's apple scraping against Renard's fingers as he did so. “Everyone has their own particular talent,” he said.

Renard let out something that, had it come from anyone else, Nick would have called a snort. “This isn't exactly what I would have called your particular talent,” he said.

“Oh?” Nick asked, “and what would you call it?” Renard's hands dropped from his tie as the knot finally came loose, and Nick lowered his chin so that he could look Renard in the eyes.

The older man opened his mouth to reply when Nick frowned, holding up a hand to halt him. Eyes narrowing, Renard watched as Nick titled his head, listening, before moving swiftly over to a painting on the wall. Reaching up, he ran his fingers along the edge, tugging at something. Turning, he held his hand out to Renard, showing him the small listening device nestled in his palm.

Closing his eyes for a moment, Renard took a deep breath, frustration, betrayal and anger washing over him. Giving him a tight smile, Nick moved passed Renard, sweeping through the other rooms of the apartment. By the time he finished, they had a pile of roughly half-a-dozen bugs littered on the island bench in the kitchen.

Turning to Renard, Nick lifted his eyebrows in silent query. Rubbing at his forehead, Renard waved one hand towards Nick, and then the bugs.

“Okay,” Nick replied. The first thing either had said since Nick found the first bug. Moving over to one of the kitchen drawers, Nick pulled it out, grabbing a mallet from the drawer and moving back over towards the bench. “You know,” he said, “I've got a Kanabo that would work even better.”

Renard let out a soft laugh. “Yes, I know,” he replied, shaking his head.

Grinning back at him, Nick lifted the mallet, before slammed it down against the bugs. Bits of plastic and circuitry groaned, cracked and scattered across the bench. Whacking it all a few more times for good measure, Nick frowned down at the broken pieces, listening.

“Well,” he said, glancing over at Renard. The Captain raised an eyebrow, questioning. Nick shook his head.

Frowning, Renard glanced around them, a slight unease in his eyes that Nick could only see because of how well he knew the man.

“Hey,” he said, reaching out to touch Renard's arm. “Why don't we head back to the house?” He left off the 'my', just in case he was wrong and had missed a bug somewhere. No need to say anything that would give the royals any ammunition against them.

Breathing in, Renard nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, that'd be good.” He shot Nick a grateful glance that the detective nodded in response to.

*

It didn't take Renard long to gather a few clothes and toiletries. They walked down to Nick's car in silence, both climbing in, before Nick drove them back to his place. At first, he thought it would be weird, sitting in silence with his boss, but there was an ease and comfort to the silence.

Parking in front of his house, Nick breathed out a sigh of relief to see a lack of baked goods waiting for him on the porch. Considering the day he'd had, he'd wouldn't have been too surprised if that was what he had come back to.

Renard short him a curious glance, but Nick just grinned in reply, shaking his head.

He paused before entering the house, and then again once inside, listening carefully for anything that would indicate that his house, also, had been compromised. There was nothing.

Without speaking, they headed upstairs, Nick quickly changing into some sleep pants, while Renard slipped into the bathroom, stealing one of the spare toothbrushes in order to clean his teeth. Nick left off his pyjama top, the night being fairly balmly (he ignored the small voice that suggested it was because Renard was there).

Moving past Renard into the bathroom, he quickly cleaned his own teeth, as the Captain stepped back into the bedroom to change. Before long, they were both ready for bed.

Flopping down onto the bed, Nick let out a heavy sigh.

“You'll sleep better under the covers,” Renard told him. Glancing up, Nick forced a small grin onto his face (it wasn't nearly as hard as he had thought it would be – then again, Renard had also forgone wearing a pyjama top, and the view was rather nice).

Wriggling over, Nick let Renard pull the covers out from under him, before tossing them back over the detective. Shoving the material off his face, Nick shot Renard a glare, but the other man simply grinned, slipping into the other side of the bed.

For a moment, Nick wondered whether he should question their sleeping arrangement. There was no-one there to see them, after all. And, while someone may try to surprise them with a visit, the likelihood of that, especially after they had taken their leave, was slim to none.

“They'll be able to smell it on us,” Renard murmured, as though hearing Nick's thoughts.

Rolling onto his side, Nick stared across at him.

“It's likely what they were scenting on you today,” Renard continued. “Me.” There was a hint of pride in his voice as he spoke.

Nick blinked. “Just from one kiss?” he asked.

Renard chuckled. “One kiss, and some full-body contact,” he replied. Nick rolled his eyes, but couldn't disagree – they had been basically pressed up against each other. His heart skipped a beat in memory of it.

Shifting to stare up at the ceiling, Nick felt his eyes begin to flutter closed. FH wriggled closer to Renard. “I guess we'd better make sure to have some more contact, then,” he muttered.

“Mmm,” Renard agreed, reaching out and drawing Nick towards him. There was an awkward moment where they both flailed a little, trying to get into a comfortable position, and then suddenly everything just seemed to fall into place.

Nick felt his entire body relaxing, as though trying to sink into Renard beneath him. His head was on Renard's shoulder, one arm flung over the sculpted chest, his corresponding leg slipped between two powerful thighs.

A strong arm wrapped around Nick's waist, holding him close, the other hand wrapped firmly around Nick's wrist where it rested on Renard's chest, and he could feel Renard's breath brushing through his hair.

“Sleep,” Renard murmured. “It's been a long day.”

Nick wanted to snort a laugh in response, perhaps say something along the lines of that being an understatement, but between one breath and the next, he dropped off.