NOTES: To Guest Livia who wanted:
I would love to read a one shot of the Jagerbar talking about Nick with
other people or to himself. I would also love to hear about what was going on
Well I got half of it in there anyway.
WARNINGS: Rampant OCism but in the best possible way. Not much other than that.
() () ()
Nick glanced up as the bell jingled and the door was filled with six plus feet of jagerbar. Aaron Gebhard paused for a look around and Nick gave a little wave to catch his eye even though there was only one other person in the diner at this time of day when they staff was cleaning up from lunch and getting ready for dinner.
The big man spotted him and headed his way. “Afternoon,” he said sliding into the opposite seat, making the little booth feel even smaller.
Nick raised his water glass in greeting. “Thank you for coming.” Nick hadn’t been sure he would.
“Invitation from a Grimm,” Aaron said sardonically. “Couldn’t refuse that.”
He’d come from work, still in uniform and still wearing his service weapon under his jacket.
“Most wesen would refuse.”
Aaron shrugged and nodded towards Nick’s Portland Timbers cap. “If I’d known you would be wearing that I might have.”
Nick grinned and sipped his water. He wasn’t a big soccer fan but Sergeant Wu, Officer Scott, surprisingly Captain Renard were. The Captain had muttered something about it being as close as he could get to real football when Hank had expressed surprise, and more often than not Renard ended up giving his season tickets to one of the other two when he couldn’t make the games.
Wu was a rabid Timbers fan to the point there had been a picture of him and Scott stripped down and painted green in the 2010 Christmas party slide show. Nick and Hank had been the lucky recipients of many a diatribe on the evils of the Timber’s arch nemesis the Seattle Sounders.
The hats had been gifts from the team PR guys for the whole department and Nick hardly ever wore his, but he kept it in his emergency bag which was what Juliette had grabbed on her way out the door.
The waitress appeared with his order of eggs over easy, white toast, and orange juice and a second glass of water she placed in front of Aaron. “And what can I get you?” she asked him.
“What do you have in a milkshake?”
“Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, blackberry, Oreo, huckleberry, and moon pie.”
“As tempted as I am by the moon pie,” Aaron said, making a face at Nick to show his complete lack of temptation, “I’m gonna go with blackberry.”
“Excellent choice,” the waitress commended. She scribbled on her notepad and headed towards the back.
“Extremely late breakfast?” Aaron asked, motioning towards Nick’s plate.
Nick shook his head and swallowed a mouthful of egg. “I can’t seem to eat enough.”
Aaron nodded. “Not surprising considering you lived on two protein shakes for the better part of three days. It should pass. Just don’t overdo it and keep away from the heavy sugars and fats and you’ll be fine.”
Swabbing a toast corner through the runny egg yolk Nick said, “Between Juliette and Monroe this is the least healthy thing I’ve managed.”
“I was looking for a group when I came in. Did they actually let you go off alone?”
Nick shook his head and swallowed a mouthful. “I’m not supposed to know but Hank lo-jacked my phone and Monroe is following from a distance.” He nodded towards the big picture window. “He’s hiding in that doorway across the street.” It was part of the reason he’d chosen the booth by the window because as annoying as the mother hen routine was getting, he could appreciate that they were doing it out of love and figured he’d drop Monroe’s blood pressure a few points by being clearly visible.
“He’s not particularly stealthy for a blutbad.” Aaron shifted in his seat.
He was nervous, Nick could see it in the tense set of his shoulders and the way he kept checking the exits. But he wasn’t freaking out sitting across from a Grimm and that was far more of a relief than Nick had expected it to be.
“I think he’s out of practice,” Nick said with a grin. He’d seen Monroe in the woods, the man could be stealthy. In the city he stuck out like a sore, plaid covered thumb.
The waitress returned with the milkshake and the bottle of hot sauce Nick had forgotten he’d asked for.
“Not a chance.” Aaron snatched the bottle away before Nick’s hand even made contact. “He’s on a very strict diet for a stomach condition,” he said to the waitress, giving her a megawatt smile as he handed the bottle back.
Nick sighed at the unfairness of it, but admitted that the hot sauce might have to wait until he was more than two days out of the hospital. He gave the woman a rueful smile and she took the bottle away with her.
Aaron tried a spoonful of milkshake. Then another. “Don’t be too hard on Monroe. I get the feeling he’s out of practice with a lot of things when it comes to having a pack.”
“That’s one big reason I needed to talk to you,” Nick said. “Monroe tried to explain the whole pack thing.”
The laugh lines around Aaron’s mouth and eyes crinkled. “I’ll bet that was enlightening.”
“Not so much no.” It had been a long twenty-three minutes of Monroe babbling awkwardly and making air quotes around every third word. Entertaining yes, enlightening no. “My books have a lot of information about blutbad, but most of it pertains to maiming, incapacitating, or otherwise killing them. Not much information on what to do when you’ve apparently been adopted by one.”
Aaron grimaced. “Sounds like real bedtime readers.”
“Most of them are pretty awful,” Nick agreed.
“I’m not sure how much help I’m going to be. Jagerbar and blutbaden don’t exactly run in the same social circles.”
“I gather that your people are…traditional.” Traditionally murderous according to his Aunt’s books but he was willing to take that with a grain of salt.
Aaron laughed loudly. “That’s a polite way of saying they’re dinosaurs who can’t change so much as a dentist appointment without a meeting and a vote.”
“Sounds like Congress.” Nick shifted his empty plate over so it sat in a spot where the sun was mercilessly reflecting off the polished tabletop, threatening to bring back his headache again.
“You’d be surprised how many of us are in politics.”
Nick thought about it for a second, considering what little he knew about jagerbars. “No, I don’t think I would. But you’re not a politician. You save people.”
Aaron pulled out another grimace, this one resigned. “My father is a judge in the Washington State Supreme Court. Mom is planning her mayoral run in a few years.” He twisted a ring on his right hand, red and silver, Washington State University colors, and smiled blandly. “I was expected to follow in the family business.”
“Law school?” Nick guessed.
“Top of my class.” Aaron folded large hands around his milkshake, engulfing all but the top inch of the extra tall cup. “I was writing my salutatorian speech when I realized that spending the rest of my life wearing a suit and tie was an absolutely horrifying thought. Joined up the next day. Not entirely sure why I thought a uniform would be better than a suit but….” He shrugged and smiled. “Turned out okay.”
“Navy?” Seattle was a Navy town through and through.
“Marines. Then Seattle PD. That settled the old man down for a while. Having a future police chief in the family gave him something to brag about.”
“Until you joined the FBI,” Nick filled in. That was undoubtedly a calculated move to derail his parent’s carefully outlined twenty year plan.
Aaron shrugged. “I actually liked the PD better. A couple of the guys in my precinct were wesen too and we got on alright. But Dad kept calling in favors, trying to get me promoted faster.” He smirked. “He has a harder time with the FBI.”
“Well I for one am glad you decided on the career change,” Nick told him. “You have no idea how happy I was to see a uniform coming through the trees.” He’d noticed the uniform first then realized that the closer man-shaped blur was a held over Christmas sweater attached to one pissed off blutbad. He didn’t think he’d ever seen a more reassuring sight.
Aaron stared at him, incredulous. “I tried to shoot you.”
“But you didn’t.”
“Your friend Monroe seemed pretty sure of you.” Aaron gave him a long, considering look. “His kind don’t trust outside their own species. Actually I don’t think they trust inside their own species unless it’s family. And they sure as hell don’t trust a Grimm to stand at their back.”
Geez, he owed Monroe a really nice dinner or something. “He’s a good guy.”
“He told me how you two met,” Aaron said, grinning in a way that made Nick wonder exactly what version of the story Monroe had reeled out.
He rolled his eyes. “Don’t believe a word he says. The man is a compulsive liar.”
Aaron laughed and spent a moment gazing out the window, eating his milkshake contemplatively.
Monroe had shifted doorways. Moving a little closer. He was trying to look inconspicuous and Nick firmly resisted the childish impulse to wave at him.
“Was that really the first time you’ve—” Aaron made a throat slitting gesture with his spoon then had to reach for a napkin to clean up a spatter of ice cream.
“First and I’m really hoping the last.”
“Hmmmm,” Aaron murmured around a mouthful of milkshake. “How’re you doing with that?” he added and Nick was grateful it was the FBI agent asking the cop and not the jagerbar asking the Grimm.
“I thought….” He gazed out the window, squinting into the sun. Despite what he’d said to Monroe he hadn’t wanted to kill Capra, especially not like that. It was all a confused blur of cold and running and then the fear, fear, fear of knowing they were going to catch him and take him back to the dark and the slow slide of the needle and the dizzying feeling of whatever the hell they’d given him burning coldly up his arm. He folded his hands together to hide a sudden tremor. “I thought I would feel worse about it.” He should feel worse about it.
Aaron leaned forward, fiddling with his spoon. “How do you feel about it?”
Guilty, scared that it would happen again, angry that it had happened at all, worried for Juliette, worried for anyone in his life that could be used as leverage but ahead of all of that emotional mess he just felt, “Relieved.”
Aaron nodded. “Can’t say that I blame you. The guy was trying to sell you off like a head of cabbage.”
“I think I prefer Hank’s a T-bone steak analogy.” Cabbage was just not flattering.
“Not the best comparison to make in front of a blutbad,” Aaron pointed out.
“Monroe’s a vegetarian,” Nick said. “Or a vegan. I get the two confused. I know he eats a ton of rice and vegetables.”
“That explains a lot,” Aaron said slowly, nodding to himself as if he’d just confirmed something.
The waitress came by to see if they wanted anything else.
“Nothing for me,” Aaron said. “I have to get back to work.”
Nick ordered a large decaf chai tea in a to-go cup and asked her to put everything on one check. They’d eaten here yesterday and Monroe had particularly liked the tea. He figured the other man could use it after standing out in the wind for an hour.
“Thanks for the shake,” Aaron said as they headed out the door. “Are you guys headed home today?”
Nick tucked his wallet back into his pocket. “Sunday afternoon. We’re going to the car museum in Tacoma as soon as I get back.” Old cars were one of his passions and even Juliette had said the brochure looked interesting. He thought she was humoring him because of the whole kidnapping thing but if it got him to a car museum he was willing to take shameless advantage of it.
Nick handed over a business card with his personal cell number on it. If Aaron was looking for another PD job, Portland was hiring for at least two positions that he knew of.
“Thanks.” Aaron ducked his head briefly, flicking the edge of the card with a finger. “I love my team, but being able to work with someone who knows what I am again…. I’ll think about it.”
“Three someones,” Nick said. “Hank knows and apparently my Captain is wesen.” Cue yet another awkward talk with Monroe with the added bonus of what promised to be an equally awkward talk with Renard sometime in the near future. “And I’m sure there are plenty more that I don’t know of yet.”
Hank was convinced their Sergeant was one but Nick hadn’t spotted so much as a whisker and he’d seen Wu get pretty worked up a time or two. “Portland seems to have a disproportionate amount.” He couldn’t walk down the street without seeing a wesen in Portland. Two days in Seattle and he’d only spotted one harried mother hurrying her brood of children down the sidewalk.
Aaron looked up and smiled brilliantly. “And it would really piss my family off.”
“Bonus family annoyance. It’s a win-win.”
“It would make the next reunion a lot more interesting.” Aaron jabbed the crosswalk button and they waited for the light to change. “Hey, don’t worry too much about this pack thing,” he said as they stepped out in the street. “Just be patient and realize that some of the stuff he’s going to do is….”
“A little weird?”
“Weird to a human,” Aaron corrected.
Like the sniffing and occasional licking. Not odd behavior for a blutbad.
“He’s going to be the overprotective big brother you never wanted.”
The first time Juliette had taken him home to meet her parents he’d ended up cornered by her brothers and subjected to an interrogation that made him wonder if they’d ever been instructors for the R portion of military SERE training. He’d survived; a little shell shocked and a lot homesick for something he told himself he shouldn’t miss because he’d never had it to begin with.
“The big brother part I can handle,” he said with a smile at the thought of being the little brother. The overprotective part they’d work on.
They crossed the street and stopped just down from the doorway where Monroe stood frozen in an attempt to appear invisible. It was rather like the neighborhood cat hunkering down in the middle of the sidewalk. You knew it was there but you pretended you didn’t because the cat was so earnestly confident you couldn’t see it if it just stayed absolutely still.
“You’ll do fine,” Aaron said, giving the business card one more flip with his finger before tucking it into a pocket. Throwing out a goodbye wave he started back down the sidewalk towards a dark SUV. “I’ll give you a call.”
Nick watched until he got into the vehicle then took the six extra steps that brought him even with Monroe’s doorway. “You ready to go?” He held out the tea.
Monroe looked shifty for all of three seconds before he deflated and took the cup. “Dude, I was being sneaky.”
“Yeaaaaah, not so much.”
Monroe huffed and opened his mouth and Nick poked him in the side to derail the objection before it started. “Come on. The museum closes at six. I will not be cheated out of quality car ogling time.”
“God forbid,” Monroe muttered then grudgingly added, “Thanks for the tea.”
“You’re welcome.” He nudged Monroe with his elbow to get his undivided attention. “Thanks for…well everything.”
Monroe looked at him in surprise. “No problem.” He gave Nick a toothy grin. “It’s nothing I wouldn’t do for any Grimm that showed up at my door then had a panic attack in my bathroom.”
“Awwww, and here I thought I was unique.”
“Ha. Unique is the word for it,” Monroe snarked but the corners of his mouth wouldn’t stay down.
Nick slipped on his sunglasses, smiling broadly. This little brother stuff was going to be fun.
() () ()
On his first day back at the station he walked in to find a lumpy manila envelope in the middle of his desk blotter.
“Hey, Nick,” Wu said, appearing next to his desk. “Welcome back.”
“Thanks. It’s good to be back.” Good to have the medical leave and mandatory counseling sessions behind him. He picked up the envelope. “When did this get here?”
“Yesterday’s mail. What is it?”
“Not a clue.” He turned it over and looked at the return address. “It’s from the FBI field office in Seattle. Must be paperwork.”
“Mighty lumpy paperwork.” Wu eyed the package. “Well, open it already!”
“Alright, alright.” He pulled out his pocket knife and sat down to get a better angle to cut the flap open. It had been sealed with half a dozen strips of packing tape and four staples. “Whatever it is, they didn’t want it getting out.” Successfully slitting open one end he dumped the contents onto his desk.
“Ooooh, a hat,” Wu said, grabbing it up.
And a Post-It note that had probably been stuck to the hat at one point. Picking it up, Nick read the single sentence.
So you don’t get mauled next time you’re in town.
“Gah!” Wu exclaimed and dropped the hat on the desk. “Blasphemy.”
Nick picked it up, turning it to see the logo. Seattle Sounders arch rivals of the Portland Timbers. He grinned as Wu hurried to grab the bottle of antibacterial goo off Hank’s desk, liberally soaking his hands. “I’m surprised it didn’t burst into flames when you touched it.”
“Who sent it?” Wu demanded, ready to march off to war.
“One of the guys on the team that pulled me out of that Capra mess. He works in the Seattle FBI field office.”
“Oh, damn. I suppose that means I can’t kill him.”
“Well that and a little thing called the law,” Hank said, coming up behind him. He whistled when he saw the hat. “However this does call for revenge.”
“Damn straight!” Wu agreed. “We’re going to that sports paraphernalia shop downtown. They do custom work.”
“Right now?” Hank asked.
“Right now!” Wu confirmed heading for Renard’s office. “This insult will not go unanswered!”
“You going to tell Wu that Gebhard got the RRT position he put in for?” Hank asked. He set a napkin with a donut on Nick’s desk. It had sprinkles.
Nick grinned. The welcome back donut tradition continued. Taking a bite, he watched Wu gesticulate wildly towards him and when Renard glanced his way he obligingly held up the hat so the Captain could see the logo. Renard shook his head, looking both amused and resigned, but agreed to whatever Wu was trying to talk him into.
“Nah,” he said, “I think we should let it be a surprise.”