Whoo! Final chapter! Thank you all so much for the awesome reviews! I'm so happy you guys liked it! :D
Monroe wakes up with a crick in his neck and a sore back from sleeping on the floor. He looks around in confusion for a second, trying to remember where he is. He has no idea what time it is or when he changed back into his human form but he knows it was sometime during the night. Grey light is filtering through the curtained windows and he knows that if it isn't morning already, it's close.
He looks down, realizing for the first time that he's laying practically on top of Nick. That had been the last thing the wolf had been doing so it only made sense that Eddie was still in its place. Still, he hadn't realized he was literally on top of the detective until just now.
Nick's face is still pale but its nowhere near the waxy, grey color it had been the day before. His breathing is soft and shallow but he looks relaxed and Eddie is relieved that he can't smell sulfur on him anymore. What he does smell, however, is infection, salty and sickly sweet, emanating from the wound. It doesn't surprise him that the wound is infected, he'd actually be surprised if it wasn't, but it doesn't bother him as much as the poison. Infection he can deal with, venom is something else entirely.
Nick stirs beneath him, moving by his own will for the first time in hours, and Monroe is instantly hovering over him. "Nick?"
The detective opens his eyes slowly, blinking shakily for a few seconds. His eyes are dark and glassy from fever but he manages to focus on Monroe for a second, smiling weakly. "Hey."
"Hey yourself," Monroe mumbled back and its only through sheer force of will that he's able to keep his voice from cracking with relief. The seizures had scared him senseless and he'd been worried about the ramifications they may have had on Nick's mental state when he regained consciousness. He seemed to be at least semi-lucid for the time being though and that's all Monroe could ask for. He brings his hands up, cupping Nick's cheek gently and feeling the feverish warmth rolling off of him. "How do you feel?"
Nick leans into his hand and his eyes begin to close again and Monroe is almost convinced he's lapsed back into unconsciousness when he answers him. "Tired…" The word comes out as more of a breath than an answer but Monroe isn't picky. "And sore…"
The blutbad nods even though he knows Nick can't see him. "Yeah well, blood loss and poison tend to have that affect so I've been told."
Nick makes a soft "hmm" sound in the back of his throat and goes silent again and Monroe knows he's unconscious once more. Monroe watches him for a few seconds, stroking his face gently and listening to him breathe. He knows he needs to get him to a hospital and get those wounds taken care of but he also knows the trip back is going to be hard on Nick. It's a good five miles back to the car and then another seven back into town. Nick was sleeping peacefully now but the minute they moved he was going to be jarred awake by pain and fever once more. He tries to avoid the inevitable for another five minutes before he figures the faster they get back, the faster Nick can get better.
He finds a heavy black cloak hanging on the back of a chair in the kitchen and wraps it around Nick, tucking the edges under in an attempt to keep him warm. The detective's shirt is ruined and his jacket is covered in dried blood so a makeshift covering is the best Monroe can do for now. Nick moans softly when Monroe picks him up, slinging the arm from his uninjured side across his shoulder and keeping him pressed tightly to his side. Nick's head is hanging down and he's more unconscious than awake but Monroe will take what he can get at this point. He takes one last look at the witch's cabin, making a silent promise to burn it to the ground the minute Nick is better, and takes off into the trees.
Nick is able to stumble along for about a mile before what little strength he has gives out and he's limp and heavy in Monroe's arms. The blutbad gives him credit for the distance though, he was surprised Nick had lasted as long as he had. When he finally does sink to his knees, Monroe catches him easily and carefully hoists him onto one shoulder, mindful of his injuries. Nick is heavy and boneless on his shoulder like a sack of flour but Monroe just focuses on getting them back to the road.
The forest is getting lighter but Monroe can't see the sun behind the heavy layers of clouds overhead. The light filtering through the trees is a water-washed grey, not actually sunlight but the kind of light that comes from burning through thick layers of cloud and ozone. It makes the forest seem ethereal and that much older and Monroe can feel the magic humming through them. He decides when Nick is well enough, he'll bring him back out here and give him a lesson over herbology but he needs to get him better first.
The trees give way to the road after another mile and Monroe can see the domed curve of his yellow station wagon from the path they're on. He tightens his hold on Nick and makes the last few feet in a matter of seconds, coming to a stop next to the passenger door and fishing the keys out of his pocket. He unlocks the door and drops Nick into the front seat gently, wrestling the seatbelt over him and managing to get him buckled in enough to be satisfied. He walks around to the driver's side and slides in behind the steering wheel, cranking the engine and feeling a wash of relief come over him when it roars to life. Glancing over at Nick, he shifts the car into drive and takes off back in the direction of town.
Nick opens his eyes to the smell of antiseptic and rubbing alcohol. There's an unfamiliar ceiling above him, white and dotted with man-made imperfections in the plaster. A dim, florescent light is glowing above his head and there's a whoosh and whir of monitors to his left. He's in the hospital, that much is certain, but he has a hard time remembering what led him there.
Case gone bad? No, he hadn't been at work for the past couple of days. Car accident? He moves his arms and legs fractionally and decides that, while sore, the injuries aren't related to flipping a car. His side throbs suddenly and he nearly gasps, one hand moving to brush over the thick layers of gauze wrapping around his waist. He concentrates for a second, trying to remember what happened, when the memories of the witch come flooding to the surface.
He didn't remember a lot of it, more pain than anything else, but he remembered being stuck in the mineshaft with Monroe. He frowns, thinking back to the blutbad in question and trying to discern what had become of him. A twitch to his right is answer enough.
Monroe is leaning against his bed, arms pillowed beneath his chin and his eyes are closed lightly. He looks like he's asleep and Nick vaguely wonders how long he'd been holding a bedside vigil before exhaustion won out. He reaches out carefully, wincing a bit as his muscles complain against the movement, and touches Monroe's arm.
The blutbad is awake instantly, eyes glowing red and scanning the room for any sign of a threat. He looks up at the monitors and then to the door, slightly confused about what woke him up in the first place. Then he looks down at Nick, eyes fading back to their natural color as he sighs. "Hey," he breathes, sinking back into the chair next to the bed and looking at him carefully.
"Hey yourself." Nick smiles when Monroe rolls his eyes. "How long have you been here?"
The blutbad shrugs out the kinks in his shoulders and looks up at the clock. "As long as you have."
"How long is that?"
"About two days."
Nick frowns, his eyebrows knitting together. "Two days? I've been in the hospital for two days?"
Monroe just shrugs like its not a conversation worth having. "They had to get the infection under control and you needed a transfusion. A pretty big one I might add." Something flashes through Monroe's eyes that Nick can't determine but it's gone before he can question it. "How do you feel?"
Nick thinks about that for a second and comes to the conclusion that more than anything he's just tired. He feels like he's been hit by a truck and forced to run a marathon. "Tired," he admits and he has a feeling they've had this conversation before.
Monroe nods and adjusts his chair, bringing it closer to the bed and resting his chin in one hand. "That's understandable. The doctors said you'd have to be laid up for a couple days to let your body recover but they said you should be back on your feet in about a week."
"When are they going to release me from the hospital?"
"Tomorrow?" Nick doesn't mean it to come out as whine but it does and he feels stupidly childish as he lays in the hospital bed.
Monroe shrugs again and holds his hands up in surrender. "Hey man, it's not my call. You're being treated for blood loss and infection on top of getting over eighty stitches in your side."
"Over eighty?" Nick asks incredulously, one hand unconsciously drifting to his side beneath the flimsy hospital blanket.
"Yeah," Monroe asserts with a nod, glancing to the door conspiratorially. "I had to made up some story about you being attacked by a bear when we were out hiking. I'm not sure they bought it." He smiles a little but it looks tired and Nick is beginning to wonder how much Monroe did for him while they were in the woods. "I'm pretty sure the nurses are ready for me to leave though, they don't seem very comfortable around me when they come in to check on you."
Nick almost laughs and looks at him. "Why's that?"
"Well, I growled at a couple of them."
The does get a laugh and Nick almost immediately regrets it as his side begins to sear with white hot pain. He grimaces and he can hear the monitors next to his bed beeping shrilling and Monroe is above him, smoothing his hair with one hand and gripping his arm with the other.
A petite blond nurse rushes in after a second and feeds something into the IV drip in Nick's arm and almost instantly the pain begins to lessen. Nick's eyes are still squeezed shut tightly but he can hear her bustling around with the machines and writing something down on the chart at the foot of his bed. There's a low, rumbling growl off to his right followed by a startled squeak from the nurse and he reaches out blindly, grasping Monroe's hand tightly in his own. Almost immediately, the growling stops and Monroe is back at his side, cupping his face gently with one large hand.
Nick opens his eyes finally and sees Monroe staring down at him. He tries for a smile but it turns out as more of a wince and he figures that's the best he can do at the moment. Monroe releases a heavy sigh and sinks back down next to him, keeping Nick's hand clutched in his own. "God, you're going to be the death of me one day, I swear."
Nick does manage to smile this time and its apologetic as he squeezes the blutbad's hand lightly. "I'm sorry for all the trouble I put you through."
"You better be," Monroe mutters but there's no heat in his voice and his hand is gentle as he cards his fingers through Nick's hair. Nick is beginning to feel drowsy and weightless and has no doubt that whatever the nurse had given him in the cause. Monroe seems to sense this and he scoots closer, resting one hand on Nick's cheek and keeping the other entwined with Nick's. "Go back to sleep," he mumbles softly and Nick is already half-way there. "I'll be here when you wake up."
Nick smiles tiredly and leans into Monroe's hand, feeling the blutbad stroke his cheek gently with the pad of his thumb. He closes his eyes slowly and lets himself drift back into sleep, feeling safe and secure with Monroe by his side.
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