AN: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far-oh, wait. Wrong fandom. Remember this story? (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Oh, wait. Wrong fandom). Yes, I am still alive (barely)! I am also back from vacation. And we're back with some more story!
She manages to smile and not give into the urge to roll her eyes when Nick shows up late from work, sporting an injury to his arm, naturally. In their prior life, she was fairly used to him coming home bruised and beat up from time to time. He's alive, and the injury isn't serious as far as she can tell, and she'll take what breaks she can get. Still, the nagging doubt she has about if this new life experiment is destined for failure intensifies, because many of the same things from their old life keep happening, Nick and wesen getting into it, number one.
He tries to be dismissive of her worry, but she can tell he's concerned, too, especially when he relays that his altercation resulted in the revelation he was a Grimm, and they spend an hour dissecting their options on how to handle the situation.
"It's not good, Nick," she says quietly. "You know how rare Grimms are. For someone to have seen one—it's like sighting Big Foot, or the Loch ness monster, or something. All we know we've heard about from stories and books. The rumor of your existence will spread like wildfire in the wesen community," she says worriedly.
"I suppose it's too much to hope that it will stay a rumor," he says with a sigh.
"Doubtful," Adalind replies. "I mean, likely a lot of people won't believe it, especially since he lived to tell about it. However, the fact he's in the hospital will probably give some weight to the story, and people will wonder. Everyone's guard will be up, looking for signs the enemy's among their midst."
"I know," he says with another sigh, and he looks around the cabin, as though taking inventory. She glances around, too, noting all her hard work in turning the place into something livable, a home for them, and wonders if she's going to have to give it all up to start all over again. This barren and ugly place was just starting to feel like their own. So many milestones achieved here. She thinks of Kelly taking his first steps, his first words, Diana coming to accept Nick, and Nick confessing his love for her. Them starting to feel like a real family.
Will they always be running? She wonders. Will it always be a part of her that can never really settle, never let her guard down completely so long as they're here, or anywhere else. She's forced to admit that they likely will be, if they never want to be discovered. She knew how difficult it would be, to assume this new life, given who and what they both are.
"What are we going to do?" she asks, looking back at Nick. "Are we running? Will we pack up everything up and move again? Where?" It's taken months to amass what little they have. The thought of starting again with nothing but the clothes on their backs and whatever little they can carry and take with them… And that's assuming Nick won't just ditch it all and completely start fresh. Except this time they barely have any money in reserves to help fund another life on the run.
Nick meets her eyes, looking deep in thought.
"There's other alternatives," he says hesitantly.
"Making sure he never regains consciousness," Nick says. "Hard to say anything when you're dead."
She stares at him in consternation, trying to will herself not to react.
He's come a long way from the earnest and forthright detective Burkhardt she met all those years ago. She doesn't know why it still takes her by surprise when he suggests something like he's hinting at now. She knows a lot has happened since that day all those years ago, that he's grown into his role as a Grimm, and the expectations that come with it, and the reality they live with in a world inhabited with wesen. The unpleasantness and the violence doled out.
Still, she finds it kind of galling to have him lay it out so bare.
And it is a testament to how far she's come, too, that she would find herself hesitating to agree. She would be lying to say that a part of her would never consider it. Fleetingly it entered her mind, as Nick was explaining what happened, before dismissing it as something unlikely to attempt anyway. It's behavior she avoids reverting back to since discovering a better side of herself. Still she's as protective as he is over what they have, and it's still so fragile, she thinks. The right amount of pressure, applied to the right point and it can all come crumbling down, and she doesn't want to risk it, risk Nick, and her children, and the family they've become. So she understands the desperation and temptation to make those kinds of measures to protect what they have.
Now, though, where she would have been hasty, she's cautious, her mind analyzing the long-term effects of such an action, and whether it would outweigh the risks. She's grown a lot in the last few years. So much has changed in such a short amount of time, though that person she was when she first met Nick seems ages ago.
"We can't risk being exposed," Nick continues. "I'm sure there's still a BOLO out for me, you, and Diana."
And since they're trying to live their life as nobody remotely interesting, certainly not a Grimm shacking up with a Hexenbiest and the children they have as a result, having all eyes on them, or looking for a Grimm in their midst, would certainly put some unwelcome scrutiny on the area.
"Can we risk another dead body?" she points out. "I mean, we're taking a lot of chances to live 'normal,' whatever that is," she says.
"We just don't need to draw attention to ourselves," Nick replies. "If we don't get ahead of this now, this could get ugly real quick."
"Lying low and keeping to ourselves is proving to be a bigger chore than I think either of us anticipated," she remarks. He flicks a critical eye her way and she sighs. "Sorry," she says. There's many reasons for that, not the least of which is her own daughter.
In the end, they agree something has to be done—he's right they can't risk word getting out about a Grimm in their midst, particularly since Nick reveals his coworker Ted is wesen.
"Klaustreich," he says when Adalind asks him what kind.
"That figures," she mutters, twisting her lips. Nick nods slightly. "You're going to have to be very careful," Adalind reminds him.
"Careful is my middle name," Nick replies flippantly, trying for some levity now that their decision has been made, and she gives him a look.
"Well, it's Dave's middle name," he amends and she rolls her eyes. She gestures to his arm.
"Are you sure about that?"
She accompanies him to the hospital, though she waits in the jeep, rather than risk being seen wandering the halls, and especially near the room where the injured jagerbar is. It's always his first thought, to protect those he loves, even though she has far more experience with this sort of thing. He doesn't comment on the subtle allusion to how they first met, when she stabbed him with a needle in his aunt's hospital room after he recognized her. He just runs over the steps one more time before handing her the keys to the jeep with an all too brief kiss, and then walking away. He strides briskly along the parking lot, steps intent with purpose, pulling his jacket tightly around him, head ducked low, as much to avoid any one taking note of him as to avoid the frigid wind that whips through, rocking the vehicle occasionally.
He'll be fine, she tells herself. He's more than capable of handling anything that comes his way, though this idea of theirs only works if he's able to sneak in without drawing anyone's attention. He's got strict instructions on how to administer the potion, and she bites her lip, wondering if what they're doing is wise.
It shouldn't be this hard, she thinks. Should it?
They both knew it wasn't going to be easy, to leave everything they know and begin again as somebody else. She notes with surprise that they're nearly a year into this experiment, and she doesn't know whether to call that a mark of success. They've been on the run now for a long time. So much has happened in what feels like a short span of time, but in reality accounts for hundreds of days. They've been Dave and Addy Johnson for over half of it, and have managed to slowly carve out a new existence. She's back to being a stay-at-home mom, at least for the time being, but her family is whole, she has both her children living under one roof, and she's with the man she loves.
The sacrifices are worth it, she tells herself. She can't imagine being without Diana, Nick, and Kelly now, and there's no way she would ever go back to anything that kept her from any of them. This is a bump in the road, and they knew the road to a new life together would be full of them.
Still, she thinks over the last year, still marveling at everything that happened to them since they left Portland. She wonders what changes her friends have seen in that time? How Rosalee is doing, even Hank and Wu and Trubel and all the others. Are they devastated over the loss of Adalind (not likely, she thinks) and Nick? Have they moved on and resumed living their own lives, as Nick hopes and believes.
Does Nick think about them as much as she does?
He hardly ever mentions their friends, and she thinks it as much a technique to remain confident in what they're doing, as it is to remain as much in the characters they've established.
She wonders if he's filled with misgivings as she is, over what they're doing, and how they left things, if he debates over making contact, however brief or risky, just dropping a note to let them know they're alive and okay.
She can't be the only one that still thinks of them, and he gave up far more in the way of friends and support and familiarity when he left Portland with her than she did, though she'd grown comfortable in their life together, and had started to think of his friends as her friends, whether the feeling was mutual or not. She thinks his friends had at least come to accept her in his life, and their lives, and Rosalee had certainly become a friend. Trubel, too, a weird, unspoken understanding lying between them, that she understood Adalind's feelings for Nick were genuine and that it was okay, she was okay, and they were okay.
So long as Nick can convince himself that his friends were okay without him, he's fully committed to what they are doing, but Adalind isn't so sure that things are so easy for their friends, given the simmering unrest they fled, and she can't help the guilt she feels at deserting them without so much as a word.
Doesn't he feel guilty? Worried? Concerned? Doesn't he wonder, really wonder, if they're okay?
She asks him when he returns, taking him by surprise as he climbs back into the jeep, the dome light highlighting the pensive and grim expression on his face, before bathing them in darkness when he shuts the door.
"What?" he says after a moment, likely still thinking about the Jagerbar and the potion he just injected. Perhaps he was expecting her to ask how it went, except she figures it went as planned since he wasn't sprinting back out to the parking lot, a mob of doctors and security hot on his heels.
"Do you ever think about the others?" she says again and he stares at her for a moment, a quiet sigh escaping his mouth as he leans against the seat back, staring at the steering wheel, before looking at her. "You know, Monroe and Rosalee. Hank and Wu. Trubel. Bud and Eve, and the guys you worked with on the force."
"Where's this coming from?" he asks. They spent the entire drive here discussing their strategy for getting in and out to the Jagerbar undetected, not reminiscing about their lives, past and present.
"I realized, while I was waiting for you to come back, that we've been doing this for almost a year. Don't you miss them?"
He stares at her for another long moment.
"Of course, but they're doing better off without us."
"Do you really believe that?" she says quietly. He nods after a moment.
"I don't think they're lives are easy, but they have to be easier than when I was still with them. Being a Grimm, it was taking its toll on everyone…especially me."
"I was thinking how much things have changed with us in the last year, and I was wondering what's changed for them in Portland. Have you heard anything?"
He shakes his head.
"No, I haven't had any contact with them since before we left," he replies, "but I have to believe they're okay and they can take care of themselves."
It would certainly make the decision to desert them easier, she thinks, if she could just make herself believe it.
"They might need you."
"Their lives are better off without all the danger I bring to them with my being a Grimm," he says.
"Yeah, but they were okay with that," she points out.
"Were they?" he argues. "Most of them had no idea what kind of shit storm I'd bring into their lives just by knowing me," he says, with a touch of bitterness. "They've all had to deal with added hardships because they're friends with me. Monroe, especially, but Rosalee, too. Constantly disrupting her life, and her business and her marriage to Monroe. Hank—his life has been more difficult because of what I am, and Wu—look what he's dealing with now, his entire life has been turned upside down—all because they're friends with a Grimm, and Eve-" he bites off the rest of his comment, pulling up short.
"I don't think you can say Eve's...Eve, because of you. That was more because of me," Adalind says quietly.
He looks at her for a beat.
"The reason those things happened was because of what I am," he says. "At least with me gone, they have the chance to live their lives in peace, too."
"With an uprising?" she snorts skeptically. "I've seen the newspapers. Wesen are acting up all over Portland. It's your job to keep the Wesen in check—you said your aunt told you, you have to hunt down the bad ones."
"It was Nick Burkhardt's job," Nick replies. "David Johnson only has to worry about putting food on the table and taking care of his family, and he's got plenty of concerns to occupy him there."
"Really? Than what are we doing here, Dave?" she asks bitingly. "If that's all he has to worry about?"
He heaves a sigh and tilts his head away, staring out the window.
"I'm trying to keep you and Kelly and Diana safe. I just want to live our life quietly."
"I know you are," she says seriously. "And I don't want to fight. But surely the last few weeks, if not the last twelve months have demonstrated how hard that is, and how hard it's going to be," she says. "Look at what we've had to deal with already."
"Regretting your decision to run away with me?" He says deprecatingly, glancing back at her.
"Are you?" she counters.
"No," he replies. "I love you. I love Kelly and Diana. Protecting them, and you, are all that matters."
"Wouldn't you agree that we'd have better protection in Portland, with all our friends around us?" She ventures.
"They've sacrificed enough," Nick replies. "And so have I," he adds quietly, looking away. She's silent for a moment, studying his profile, the regretful but resigned look of his face. His thick, dark hair, and the bushy beard that has taken up residence on his cheeks and chin. He's scruffy but as handsome as ever, intense and passionate and determined.
"Is it so wrong to want something for myself," he says in the darkness and the dense quiet that has settled between them. "To want you, and a life with you," and her heart feels a jolt, a quiet thrill at the admission to be wanted by him, "to be happy?"
"No," she whispers hoarsely. She wants those things, too. There's a selfish part of her, warring mightily with the practical part that keeps whispering that this venture is doomed, that these latest episodes with Nick prove that they can't hide what they are. That it's only a matter of time before everything they've built in this last year comes crashing down around them. That selfish part that wants the idyllic life she's dreamed of with Nick—things she never thought she wanted, until she had them: security and love and respect and family and commitment.
"Do you really think we can do this?" she asks and he looks at her as his hand reaches for her face. She leans into the warmth of his palm as his thumb brushes lightly over her cheek.
"Yes," Nick says. "It will calm down. This was an anomaly. We've had a few hiccups here and there, but already we're starting to settle in. Things are quieting down, we just have to be careful. My aunt and mother hid what our family was for decades. Your ancestors have hidden what they were for centuries. We can do this. It's possible to have the life we want, the life we deserve together."
She doesn't point out that all those examples he cited met grisly ends. Instead, she nods, wanting to believe him, before pulling away with a quiet sigh. Nick lets his hand drop in his lap, and rests the other elbow on the window sill of the car door.
"Have you been following what's going on in Portland?" she asks.
He shakes his head again, and looks out the driver side window.
"Bits and pieces," he replies vaguely. "I try not to be too obvious about looking into our old life, but I've been keeping my ears tuned at work."
She's been quietly checking around herself, the newspapers, the internet, whenever she and the kids go to the library or the store.
"There's some strange things in the papers," she says, "You have to really read between the lines, but there's not nearly as much as what I'd thought there'd be," and he nods, turning back to her.
"I'm not sure the rest of the world knows what to make of what's going on," he agrees. "Though it's only a matter of time, I suppose."
Most of the national news seems to be attributing much of the chaos in the northwest to political infighting and mismanagement, but there's also been a few stories that have made the rounds about violent crimes committed, heinous acts, strange claims of otherworldly creatures living among the population. Some of the more sensational rags have latched onto the stories, but due to their long-standing lack of credibility most of it is dismissed as fiction.
She's not sure what's keeping the story of parahuman beings living amongst ordinary people from making headlines, other than some discerning wesen running the papers, who understand the pandemonium they could incite by publishing proof of such stories.
"Did everything go okay?" she asks Nick, getting back to why they're here. He nods again.
"Went off like clockwork," he replies, flashing a grim smile. She thinks of Monroe; wonders if he does too when he turns away from her quickly to stare out the window. He starts the car.
"Come on, it's time to go home."
She pushes thoughts of their old life and their friends out of her mind.
She spends the night wrapped in Nick's arms, making love with him, assuaging all her fears and doubts about whether this will work. He's so attentive when he's with her, gentle yet passionate, the sense that he's giving all of himself to her. She loves him so completely. She returns his fervor, leaving them both breathless and sated when they're done.
Nick's certainly lived up to her expectation that he gives as good as he gets in every capacity.
He must have noticed her smiling in the darkness.
"Nothing," she says.
"Doesn't look like nothing," he replies. "Definitely looks like something." She shrugs a little and grins.
"I was just thinking about you," she replies and he smiles. "How you never cease to amaze."
"You're welcome," Nick says smugly.
"I wasn't referring to that," she replies. "Or just that," she amends at his look. He raises his eyebrow in polite disbelief.
"Fine, it was mostly that, but you amaze me in other ways."
He looks up at the ceiling. She can just make out the line of his mouth, the hint of fullness in his cheeks that indicate he's still smiling.
"There's too many to count," she says.
"Just name a few then," he replies, smirking as he rolls over on his side to face her.
"Your ego," she retorts. "I always thought you were a little humbler. Turns out you're as cocky and conceited as the rest of them after a night in the sack."
"Hey, when you do a good job," he says. "It's nice to be appreciated. And you were very appreciative. I really appreciate it," he adds and she rolls her eyes good-naturedly.
"I didn't know you were this playful," she adds, and he reaches a hand out and tickles her, fingers roaming intimately over her body, finding the places that make her squirm, as she swats his hand away. He tucks it back under his pillow and grins. "You always seemed too intense and serious. It's nice to see," she says. The lighter side of Nick is a rare one, and she can only imagine how the last few years have weighed more and more heavily on him. He smiles again and leans over her, body pressing against hers as he covers her mouth with his own and kisses her deeply. She cards her fingers through his hair, enjoying him, before he pulls away.
"Passionate. Considerate. Generous," she says and the smile increases. "Stop it. I'm not just referring to sex," she says, laughing slightly.
"But mostly, right?" he says.
"No. Maybe. Some of the time."
He smirks again, sliding fingers through her own hair.
"I was referring to other aspects. You're a wonderful father," she continues. "Not that I didn't expect it, I guess, I mean, I always figured you take to something like that, but I enjoy seeing how much you delight in Kelly."
"It's nice to get a chance to be a father, and spend some time with him," Nick replies.
"You're so good with Diana, too."
"She's a lot like you," Nick replies.
"Not sure if that's a good thing."
"I think it is," Nick counters. "You're a pretty amazing person yourself."
"Oh yeah?" she says. "Perhaps you should name some things."
"There are too many to count," Nick replies.
"Just name a few then," she returns with a grin and he smiles again.
"I think we were talking about me," he says. "How wonderful I am."
"Right," she says dryly.
"We should probably wrap up that conversation before we start on you. Mine will take longer," he says, eyes glittering in the darkness. She stares at them, imagining the pale green of his irises, the flecks of blue near the pupils.
"You're a wonderful husband," she whispers, daring to say it. It's not real, she reminds herself. They're not really married. She has no idea if Nick's ever thought of her in the capacity of a wife, prior to this insane idea of assuming new identities and a new life. That he would ever consider marrying her, settling down with her in that capacity, after everything they've been through and done to one another.
"Not that I didn't expect you would be, either," she adds.
"I like having a wife," he says. "I enjoy keeping my wife happy. Satisfied."
She rolls her eyes again, but finds herself drawn into his eyes.
"It's not that surprising, except maybe it's surprising that it isn't surprising, I guess. You get me," he says. "Despite everything, all our history, it feels natural to think of you as such and refer to you that way. Like it's a logical step for us. We have a baby. A family. I mean, we totally went about it in a completely, insane, disorganized way, but it works and I wouldn't trade what we have for the world. Maybe we should consider doing that for real. I mean, if David and Addy don't work out. Nick and Adalind definitely should think about it."
"Seriously?" she says, heart beating wildly in her chest. He shrugs, trying for nonchalant, but there's a jerkiness to the motion, an underlying emotion underneath.
"Yeah," he says. She stares at him, willing herself not to react, trying to affect his cool. "Of course, if it was real, you wouldn't be wearing that thing," Nick says, fingers brushing against the ring Bonaparte bestowed on her. "I'd make sure it was something as beautiful as you are."
She glances down at her hand, heart still pounding in her chest. She's never hated that ring more than what she does right now. She wants to rip it off, fling it across the room, but she can't, can't risk what it might do to her or her children, and it weighs like a two-ton stone on her finger.
"You really think the stick will work on it?" she asks Nick.
He shrugs again.
"I don't know," he admits. "Hexes and spells are really more your area of expertise. I don't know enough about them, or the stick and what it can do, to say one way or the other. I'm scared to try. I don't want anything to happen to you, or our children, but I don't want to be burdened for the rest of our lives with that thing, either."
Our children. It's always so incredible to hear him say that, the ease with which he says it, that he includes Diana so readily in it.
"We need to find out more," she says with a sigh, rolling on her back for her turn to stare at the ceiling. The cool air of the night hits the damp, exposed skin, and she shivers slightly and wiggles further under the covers. A second later she feels one of Nick's fingers brush delicately against her arm. "I wish I had some of my mother's spell books with me. There might be something there."
"About the stick?" Nick says in surprise, finger brushing lightly against the inside of her elbow. There's a latent intent about the gesture, a hint of what he means to do, and she shivers again, this time in anticipation.
"About the spell Bonaparte used."
"Hm," Nick says, finger sweeping against her skin, and goosebumps pop out all over her arm. She stares up at him, eyes inviting, her body pliant, waiting for what he means to do. She knows what he means to do. She can feel warmth pool in her abdomen as he regards her. "I suppose we can worry about that a little later. Right now, I believe it's my turn to wax poetic about all your beauty and charms, unless you have more to add."
"I confess I'm curious as to what you're going to say," she says, voice slightly breathless. He smiles slowly, and more warmth gathers below. God, she needs him to touch her. She shifts restlessly, impatient, and the slow smile widens lasciviously, as he looks her over, considering the possibilities as she waits for him to take her. "Nick," she breathes, and the look in his eyes deepens, a hint of the love he feels for her shining through, as a hand moves up to slide through her hair, cupping the side of her face.
"You can't believe how much I love you," he says quietly, body shifting slightly, preparing to move, to cover hers.
"Try me," she whispers.
He smiles again softly, eyes trailing over her face, her body, before glancing back to meet her gaze, a wicked glint in his eyes.
"You know, it might be better If I show you."