Notes: One shot snippet that I wrote when I should have been writing Change of Atmosphere. Takes place about a year after Change of Atmosphere part 2.
Warnings: Violence, OC death, swearing, snark, out of season cookie baking, total crack-fic. No seriously completely pointless crack-fic. But Wu’s in it so that makes it alright.
() () ()
The thing with the kitten happened like this—
Weeeell, it wasn’t so much a kitten as a battle-scarred, black as sin, blind in one eye, half-feral, street cat of indeterminate age, adopted by one Paulette Maxwell, 1880 Bellwood Drive, deceased.
So the thing with the cat happened like this.
“B&E gone wrong,” Wu said, carefully skirting the growling feline crouched next to the body. “Mrs. Maxwell came in the back door and interrupted our perp in the process of helping himself to her collection of antique silver spoons.” He waved at the wall where a half emptied wooden rack was sandwiched between two oil paintings of foxes. A pillowcase lay on the floor among a scattering of spoons. “She tried to defend herself but unfortunately she brought a cane to a gun fight. Two shots. Died instantly.”
“I saw the guy in the ambulance,” Hank exclaimed incredulously. “That was not caused by a cane.”
“No,” Wu said, “that would be the cat. Mr. Fluffy, according to the personalized food bowl, trapped the perp in the bathroom. We got here just in time to catch him trying to squeeze out the window.” Wu gave them a sardonic look. “He’d used up all his bullets,” he paused to point to several apparently random bullet holes in the walls and ceiling, “and wouldn’t go back in the same room as the cat. Apparently,” he added mockingly, “it beat him up.”
The cat hissed and bared sharp white fangs and everyone took a collective step backwards.
“Also Officer’s Martinelli and Xabine and the Animal Control guy.”
“Wow, that’s one pissed off cat,” Nick commented, undecided as to whether he wanted to move past Hank for a better look or use his partner as a human shield in case the beast decided to charge.
Hank snorted. “I’d be pissed too if my name was Mr. Fluffy.”
“Animal Control wants to shoot it,” Wu said. “Just as soon as he’s done being stitched up.”
Hank frowned. “That hardly seems fair. He was just protecting his house.”
The cat hissed again, momentarily interrupting the steady rumbling growl.
“We could just open the door,” Nick suggested. “It might just run right out.”
Wu squashed that thought. “No can do. That’s evidence on those claws and teeth.” He elbowed Nick in the ribs. “Hey, call your girlfriend and ask her how we catch a cat.”
“Ow, it’s fiancé, and she’s just going to laugh at me.” But he was already digging for his phone.
“Why don’t you just open the door and let the cat out?” Juliette asked after he’d explained the circumstances. He knew the look she’d have on her face, the one that meant she was trying not to laugh but found the whole situation hilarious.
Nick turned away from the interested onlookers. “Evidence,” he muttered. “He, uh, attacked the burglar.” He wasn’t sure Wu was pulling his leg with that one, the blood and skin on the cat’s claws could have come from a number of people at this point. They had the gun which would match the bullets when they were removed and they had the guy crawling out the window of the house. But it was moot since he sure as hell wasn’t going to go home and tell Juliette he’d let them shoot the poor thing.
“Alright, I’ll help you out.” Oh yeah, she was definitely laughing at him. “But you have to promise to bring the cat here so I can check him out. He could be injured and he’ll need to be tested.”
“Yeah.” He gave Hank and Wu a thumbs-up. “I can do that.”
“Okay.” At this point she wasn’t even bothering to hide the laughter. “Here’s what you do.”
Ten minutes later Nick sat in the back of the ambulance watching two uniforms escort the suspect to their patrol car. Turns out they had a recorded confession to go with the evidence not needing to be scraped off a cat’s claw. Wu and his partner had refused to let the man out the bathroom window until he’d fessed up. Faced with jail or the cat, he’d chosen jail. Nick couldn’t really blame him.
“Just a couple stitches, Detective,” the paramedic told him, putting on the last piece of tape. “You know the drill. Any redness, swelling, or heat in the wounds you get them checked out immediately. And get the cat tested.”
“My next stop,” Nick assured him. He leaned down to pat the carrier sitting at his feet and got a growl in response.
Hank came over, circling the cage warily. “You set?”
Nick looked up at the medic questioningly.
“You’re done.” The woman grinned at him. “Try to avoid angry cats in the future. I’ve used up all my sutures on you lot.”
Hank volunteered to stay behind and take care of the scene while Nick drove the cat over to Juliette’s office. “Morning, Denise,” he said to the woman at the desk.
“Hey, Nick. Is that the infamous Mr. Fluffy?”
“That it is.”
Denise smiled at him and refrained from commenting on the bandages. “Go on back to room three. I’ll let the Doctor know you’re here.”
He lugged the carrier to the room with a plastic dog bone with the number 3 on the door and set it up on the table, peering in at the cat inside. “Juliette will take good care of you, buddy. She’s the best in the business. Although I might be a little biased.”
“I should hope so,” Juliette said, coming in the door. “I like to think I’ve ruined you for all other vets.” She closed the door and joined him at the table. “So this is the cat.”
“This is theeeee cat.”
“He doesn’t look all that tough.”
Mr. Fluffy was currently tucked into a loaf at the back of the cage, glaring with narrowed yellow eyes.
“Don’t let him fool you,” Nick cautioned. “He had the burglar trapped in the bathroom.”
“And he took a piece out of you too,” Juliette said, taking hold of his hands for a closer look. “Oh, hon, I told you to use a blanket.”
“We did use a blanket,” Nick protested. “This was with the blanket.”
“My poor honey. Beat up by the vicious, vicious kitty.” She kissed one of the bandaids then kissed him on the mouth. “Let me get a tranquilizer.”
“Hey, I’m not that bad off.”
“For the cat,” Juliette called back over her shoulder.
It wasn’t often Nick got to see her work aside from the occasional emergency brought over by anxious neighbors (and that one time with the baby squirrel that Nick had ended up bottle feeding at three am for a week and a half) and even more rare he was able to help in any meaningful way. Calm and capable Juliette was fascinating to watch. And more than a little hot in that white coat.
“Well, he looks very healthy. A few bruises, but there don’t seem to be any broken bones. We’ll get an x-ray and run a few tests to make sure but I don’t expect you or Hank will need shots.”
“Oh, Hank didn’t get a scratch on him,” Nick complained. “‘I’ll be right behind you,’ he said. The big liar.”
Juliette giggled. “Abandoned you, did he?” She kissed his cheek then gathered the groggy cat into her arms. “I’ll make him tofu burgers next time he comes to dinner. Come on, Mr. Fluffy, I have a lovely quarantine cage set up for you. Grab his blanket would you?”
Nick grinned at her, picking up the decorative red and white throw he’d gotten out of Mrs. Maxwell’s bedroom to throw over the cat. The borders had Celtic style knots that closer examination had revealed to be chains of running foxes. "Revenge through tofu. Have I told you lately how awesome you are?”
“Yes, but you can say it again.”
“You are so awesome.” He opened the door for her and followed her into the back. “I’m thinking of making Hank do all the paperwork on this so I can get off early. You want stir fry for dinner.”
“Heck yeah. Hey, give Denise the name of the owner on your way out and we’ll see if we can find records for Fluffy here. She probably took him to a vet at some point.” She stopped in front of a cage in the back corner, well away from any the other animals, and Nick opened the door and spread the blanket.
Juliette lowered the cat in, making him comfortable. Mr. Fluffy gave a disgruntled and heavily drugged mew.
“I think that’s a thank you,” Nick said.
“He’ll be a lot more thankful when he wakes up.” Stripping off her gloves, she tossed them into the disposal then wrapped her arms around his neck. “And what about you, Detective.”
“Oh, I’m very thankful.” He glanced around the room full of cats all watching them with varying levels of fascination. “But not in front of the kids.”
Juliette followed his gaze. “Could scar them for life,” she agreed solemnly and gave him a peck on the cheek. “I’ll see you at home.”
“I’ll be waiting.” He pinched her behind making her jump and slap him on the arm in mock outrage. “And bring the coat.”
() () ()
“We found her next of kin,” Nick told Juliette over breakfast three days later. “The daughter is willing to pay the vet bill out of the estate but none of them want the cat. Apparently they did not get along.”
“He’s a total sweetheart,” Juliette objected. “A little love and catnip and Denise had him eating out of her hand. Literally.”
“Maybe Denise could take him.”
“Her boyfriend put his foot down. Five cats are enough.” She got the juice of out the fridge. “I hate to send him to the pound. Cats his age rarely get adopted. The scars and the wonky eye aren’t going to help matters.”
“Wonky eye,” Nick repeated. “Is that a technical term.”
“I wrote it in his chart so it is now,” she shot back. “There are a number of ways it could have happened but given the amount of scarring I imagine he got hooked in the eye in a fight. The claw pulls the pupil to the side like this,” she demonstrated with her finger. “Eventually the eye will probably have to be removed but it doesn’t seem to bother him now.”
So far as Nick could tell it hadn’t slowed the cat down a jot, but it was…it was a little off-putting when Mr. Fluffy tilted his head like an upset owl and glared with the crooked pupil of his left eye.
“We could take him,” Nick offered tentatively. The last thing they needed right now was a pet to worry about, but he wasn’t going to send the old boy off to die. Fluffy was a fighter. A survivor. Given his own life the past year, Nick thought he should make the cat his personal hero. Besides Juliette’s smile was worth all the messes and potential issues.
“I love you,” she said seriously. “But we’re never home. We already have several highly territorial neighborhood cats.”
No kidding. The fights had woken them up at least once a week last summer. Until he’d borrowed the neighbor kid’s Super-Soaker 3000 and finally persuaded them to fight on someone else’s lawn.
“And there are a lot of dogs.”
Who liked to bark at the cat fights.
“And the raccoons.”
Argh, the raccoons. He was going to call animal control and borrow some traps. They owed him one anyway after the Mr. Fluffy debacle. He still had Band-Aids on about half the worst scratches.
He neatly divided the scrambled eggs and ham between two plates. Wait a second. “I think I know a place that is practically cat free.” Monroe swore it was because they smelled a blutbad and avoided the area. “And someone who is home most of the day.”
“No way. You think Monroe would take him?”
He put the plates on the table. “He did tell me once that he’d always wanted a kitten.”
“Huh.” Juliette added the toast and jelly and they sat down to eat. “I guess you can ask.”
“Actually I was thinking less with the asking, more showing up with the cat and running away. When is he going to be out of quarantine?”
() () ()
So the thing with the cat went like this.
Mrs. Maxwell’s daughter happily passed on the cat carrier, litter box, two unused bags of litter, personalized food and water bowls shaped like goldfish, a bag of dry food, and a plethora of tinned food, treats, and cat toys.
Timing was essential. He picked up Mr. Fluffy, who was so well fed and fawned over the standard growl and glare with his good eye were entirely unconvincing, and headed over to Monroe’s, arriving at precisely 10:03am.
Morning exercise happened between seven thirty and eight. Shower by eight thirty. Breakfast before nine. Ten o’clock gave him time to clean up and get settled, have a second cup of coffee, but not get so deeply into whatever project he had lined up for the day that Nick was an annoyance rather than just an interruption.
The table in front of the big window was empty but Monroe’s car was in the drive. He knocked and heard a yell for him to come in.
“In the kitchen,” Monroe called as he closed the door behind him.
Setting the cat carrier down next to the stairs, he went down the hall, walking headlong into a wave of gingerbread and spice. “You do know it’s February, right?” Monroe had only recently packed up the last box of Christmas ornaments, clinging to his holiday cheer with staggering determination. Nick’s own house had gained far more decoration this year than he had ever bothered with even after moving in with Juliette.
“I had an extra batch of dough in the freezer.” Monroe turned to face him, oven mitt on one hand, spatula in the other. “Does that mean you don’t want one?”
“I didn’t say that.” He slipped a still-warm gingerbread possum off the closest tray. Given the number of cookie trays laid out waiting to be baked it was more than one extra batch. “Why do you have a possum cookie cutter?” And a giraffe, buffalo, manta ray, bear, hippopotamus, and a dozen other random animals.
“I refuse to be constrained by the traditional cookie shapes,” Monroe said. “Why do you smell like cat?”
“Funny thing,” he started and saw Monroe’s eyes narrow. “You remember that cat I told you about. The one who beat up the burglar.”
“Yeeeeeees,” Monroe said slowly.
“The thing is none of the next of kin want him and Juliette and I are afraid the raccoons will eat him if we take him, but if they send him to the shelter no one will want him because he’s not a kitten and sort of partially blind and hideous and he’ll end up being put down.”
Monroe stared at him.
Nick tried to look cute and hopeful. It worked on Juliette. And Hank. And, more often than not, Renard.
Monroe opened his mouth. Closed it. And stared at him some more. The timer dinged and he turned automatically to retrieve a cookie sheet from the oven.
Nick stole a yak off the cooling rack while his back was turned.
Monroe spoke, “Let me get this straight. Because I told you once, like, a year ago, that I wanted a kitten as a child, you want me—leaving aside the whole blutbad/feline dynamic for the moment—to take in a cat that has attacked five people that we know of.”
He held up a finger as Nick started to talk.
“A defective cat that no one else wants.”
Nick tried again and Monroe pinched his fingers together in a close-your-mouth gesture.
“A cat whose name is Mr. Fluffy.”
Nick waited but he seemed to be done. “A cat that attacked only in defense of his owner. And from the amount of fox paraphernalia in her house I’m guessing his fuchsbau owner.”
Monroe paused. “Really? Cats generally don’t like them either.”
“You don’t have to call him Mr. Fluffy,” Nick offered. Although it would be frickin’ hilarious. “Just give it a test run,” he urged. “Two weeks.”
Monroe gave him a slant eyed look but Nick knew he was winning.
“Two weeks,” he said again. “In the meantime I’ll keep looking for someone else who can take him.”
Monroe frowned but he was giving in, Nick could see it.
“Consider it a stay of execution,” he pressed.
“You,” Monroe said, pointing at him with the spatula, “are a sneaky, manipulative, Grimm-y bastard.”
Nick grinned. “So you’ll take him.”
Monroe sighed. “Two weeks,” he insisted. “And you’d better be looking for someone else to take him so when this doesn’t work out he doesn’t go to the shelter.”
“So pessimistic,” Nick chided.
“Just bracing myself for the inevitable.” Tugging off the oven mitt, he put down the spatula and nodded towards the living room. “Alright, let’s go see this cat.”
() () ()
Nick and Hank spent most of the next day cooling their heels in court. During lunch break Nick checked his messages while they waited in line at the taco truck outside the courthouse. They were all from Monroe.
“I’m going to kill you. No, no, I’m going to send Mr. Freakin’ Fluffy to kill you! You won’t even see him coming until it’s too late. Also, you owe me a new chair.”
“None of my messages were that exciting,” Hank said watching his partner crack up with mild amusement.
“Oh, you have got to listen to this.”
() () ()
“Congratulations, Burkhardt, you’ve made me a believer in true evil. This cat? Evil! I see why the burglar chose to go to jail. He ate my drapes. Literally. Ate my drapes.”
() () ()
“He’s on top of my clock, Grimm! On. Top. Of. My. Grand. Father. Clock. The clock that was literally owned by my grandfather! Don’t you ever answer your phone?!”
() () ()
“I think it’s actually a klaustreich in true-form. Did you look at it with your Grimm-vision? Really look at it? Oh my God, it’s—get OFF—”
The message cut off abruptly.
“Do you think we should send a unit by to see if he’s still alive?” Nick asked Hank.
“We could see if Wu’s available,” Hank suggested.
Nick laughed. “That’s just mean.”
“Yeah,” Hank agreed. “Hey you got any more of those gingerbread cookies?”
() () ()
There were four more messages by the time the judge wrapped things up for the day, all vowing revenge and adding to a growing list of irreplaceable items that Nick was going to replace even if ‘you have to fly to Tibet and shear the damn sheep yourself to replace my heirloom, hand-woven rug’.
Nick was actually feeling a little bad at that point so he picked up take-out from Monroe’s favorite restaurant and a respectable bottle of wine and headed over. Monroe’s car was parked in the driveway but no one answered the door. Starting to get worried he tried the knob. Locked. Walking around the back he peered in the glass of the back door and tried knocking again without success.
Luckily he had an extra key for exactly this sort of emergency. Despite tales of escalating violence detailed in numerous voicemails and texts, the house was tidy and quiet. No signs of mayhem, no scent of blood or death. No nibbling noises of a blutbad eating cat entrails. Or visa versa. Leaving the food on the kitchen counter he walked down the hall.
Then he heard it. A soft breathy rumble from the living room.
Peeking around the wall he saw Monroe stretched out on the couch, headphones on, snoring softly. Curled up on his stomach, half covered by one large hand, was Mr. Fluffy. Nick listened for a moment, hearing the faintest strains of violins from the headphones, the heavy breathing from Monroe, and the tiny, whistling snore of the cat.
The flash of the cell phone camera woke Monroe, who startled a little, took in a deep breath, then relaxed back into the couch. Lifting his free hand he slid the headphones back and cracked an eye open in Nick’s direction.
“Hey,” Nick said quietly.
“You alright?” The other eye opened too, both narrowing as they scanned Nick for injuries. There was subtle sniffing too. “You didn’t answer your phone.”
“Stuck in court all day. Had to turn it off.” He walked over to the couch, crouching down so he wasn’t looming. “I brought dinner. You want me to put it in the fridge.”
“Oh, thanks. Yeah, that would be great.”
Nick nodded towards the cat. “Sorry he was so much trouble. I think I’ve got a line on someone who might be able to take him as a barn cat. Should hear more tomorrow.”
Monroe frowned. “Barn cat.”
“Yeah, they got a place out in the country.”
“But there are coyotes and hawks and owls out there.” Monroe’s long fingers twitched in the cat’s fur drawing a sleepy stretch and grumble from Fluffy. “He’s a city cat.”
“Unfortunately his reputation has preceded him.” All over the precinct, the courthouse, and possibly every government building in the city.
“He’s not so bad,” Monroe said sleepily, giving the cat another scritch. “He’s just used to being tough.”
Not so bad. There were plenty of messages on Nick’s phone calling that a lie but he let it go. Arguing about it would only make Monroe defensive, and delay the dissemination of the most adorable picture in the world.
“I’ll let you get back to sleep,” he said instead.
Nick knew he didn’t get all the nuances of wesen behavior, territorial instincts, and whatnot but he got that Monroe letting him walk up on him like this was huge. Nick patted him on the arm and, greatly daring, gave the cat a quick scratch on the head.
“I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Mmmmhmmm.” Monroe snuffled and turned his head into the couch.
Nick put Monroe’s dinner and the wine in the fridge, re-locked the door, and headed home with the rest of the takeout. He could have emailed the photo straight to Juliette’s phone but this was definitely something that should be shared in person.