He came back to his apartment later than he had planned and he found Nick already there. He had given his mate the key code for the door.
"Hey there. I thought you were supposed to take it easy?" Nick teased.
"In a way."
"Do I want to know?"
Renard wrapped an arm around the smaller man's waist, kissing him softly, enjoying the feel of the Grimm against him. Their kisses continued, deep and loving and quite hot, but aside from a little caressing and stroking, neither initiated the next step.
It was like a low-key thrill, something to have and to hold and to enjoy, something no one else but him could ever feel this way. Nothing could ever compare to this amazing feeling of belonging, of having his mate, his Grimm.
He didn't want the coins any more. He felt no need, no lust, no hunger for them. He had told the other regnant the truth.
Nick balanced him.
"So, what was it about?" Nick asked, smiling slyly.
Renard chuckled. "Tenacious."
"You knew that before we went this far."
"Hm, yes." He brushed his lips over his mate's.
Nick wriggled his hands under the dress shirt, easily accessing warm skin to stroke and caress. Renard closed his eyes and enjoyed the intimacies.
"There is a lot to tell," he finally murmured, nibbling at one ear.
"And you will tell me."
No. Never. He would try to cushion Nick's fall into the world of creature politics and schemes, but the regnant knew that he couldn't hide everything for long. Nick was truly tenacious, like a dog with a bone, and he would dig until he saw the truth.
"No lies," he echoed.
Buttons popped open and Nick trailed teasing fingers over his tattoos. He dragged blunt nails over Renard's side and the expression in the green eyes grew more… feral.
The shirt fell away.
Nick mirrored the hungry, feral smile. It made Renard shiver. Those gray eyes held an untamed fire, one that spoke of who and what this man was. And what he could still grow into.
The next thing he knew, Nick had pushed him against the wall and his mouth was thoroughly ravaged by the Grimm. Renard curled his fingers into the waistband of his mate's pants, drawing him closer, his tongue battling against Nick's for dominance while in the same breath submitting to him.
They separated, breathing hard, eyes wild and dilated. Renard's eyes glowed golden. A flush covered Nick's paler skin and his hair looked unruly. He had never looked more desirable and a longing rose, a longing so primal it shut out everything else. Something seemed to fizz through him, sizzle along his nerves, settling way down south.
Renard drew Nick into another kiss that grew more demanding with every second. He was acutely aware of Nick's body against his, so perfect, so familiar, but still very new and exciting. His desire rose several notches, thoughts colliding with each other, tumbling around in his head.
He had no idea how they made it to the bedroom. He only knew they were suddenly there, in the perfectly clean and stylish private rooms of his apartment. The bed was just behind him.
Renard let his hands slide down the stomach to the waistband and made quick work of the zipper. Nick watched him with darkening eyes. His fingers wove into Sean's hair as the regnant sank lower, freeing the straining erection and Nick gasped loudly as warm lips and a moist mouth took him in. Renard paid very keen attention to each sound the Grimm made and his fingers dug into the firm buttocks and hips, holding him in place whenever he twitched.
"Sean..." Nick whispered, touching his head, raking his fingers through the dark hair. "So good..."
His hips moved again and Renard steadied him. He repeated his ministrations, sometimes adding a new little twist. He teased Nick with a gentle scratch of claws, drawing a shiver of arousal and brief fear. He gazed up, never stopping the suction, the caresses, the scraping of blunt teeth over the hard length.
Nick's expression was one of total trust and hunger.
He came not much later with a hoarse groan and Renard caught his mate as Nick slid down to the floor, wrapping his arms around him, resting his head against Sean's shoulder.. The only sound was harsh breathing.
"That was amazing," the Grimm murmured.
"Isn't over yet," Renard promised.
The gray eyes shone with passion, love and desire, the heat in their depth making Renard shiver.
"I certainly hope not, Sean."
He cupped Renard's cheek with one hand and leaned forward to kiss him gently. It turned from gentle and soft into hard and demanding.
Part of Renard was stunned by the incredible power behind each touch, the flaming desire that was burning across his very soul. Another part just wanted to throw his mate across the bed and get on with it.
That part won.
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
Going back to work had been a little awkward. Not exactly for Nick but for Renard, who clearly remembered his captivating speech, as well as his jubilant audience. It looked like the coins had been able to transfer the charisma and radiance and influence onto the listeners.
Of course Renard wanted stability and order for his protectorate. It was what he was always working at, what had him manipulate who he needed. He didn't need an influential office; he worked behind the scenes. He didn't need power; only those under his control that were in power.
Nick had learned a lot about his mate in the last few days, watching the unflappable and stern captain as he guided his officers, as he talked to politicians, as he steered matters to his favor, and he was impressed. So many things made sense now and so many more left him with burning questions.
But one thing at a time.
He didn't let the new relationship interfere with work and Captain Sean Renard wasn't the man to go all soft and give him longing looks throughout the day. He had perfected the cool distance and nothing even hinted that the two men had slept together, let alone had a relationship that went beyond a one night stand.
Even when Nick and Hank went to their captain's office to update him on the latest homicide they were working – Jane Doe found behind a dumpster – there was nothing. Nick played it as before and Renard treated him just the same.
Outside work they spent as much time together as Nick's job as a Grimm allowed, and since he logged a lot of night hours on that, sleeping in the same bed was a rarity. But Nick made sure to come to Renard's place to catch a few hours of sleep. He had a key and Sean had a key to his place. There had been no talk about moving in together, simply because a change of address would go through Personnel and sharing an address with his captain was a no-go. There was also the fact that Renard wasn't likely to give up his sleek condo and Nick didn't really want to sell the house. It was too big for him alone, but it was his retreat.
No, thinking about all of that within the first two weeks of becoming more than simply colleagues was too fast and too soon.
x x x x x
Renard leaned against the window frame, one shoulder firmly lodged against it, and gazed out of the window. He hadn't opened the doors to the balcony. It was too cold to enjoy the morning, though he wasn't easily discomforted. He simply enjoyed the closed-off environment that kept the sound outside.
Four o'clock on a Sunday had a threat of snow hanging in the air, the sun not yet up and the night filled with silence. There was hardly anyone out and about this time and the few cars creeping down the street were either cabs, delivery trucks or people returning home from a party with their designated and very much sober driver kicking them out where they lived.
He sipped from his mug of hot coffee, savoring the taste. The strong aroma woke him a little more and he glanced at the bedroom. Renard had woken early and he had watched the sleeping Grimm in his bed for a while, then got up and showered, made coffee, and looked out the window, enjoying the peace.
He turned back to his silent vigil over the city he had chosen as his protectorate.
He didn't miss the coins. Somehow, looking back, it was all a nightmare he wanted nothing to do with any more. Sean Renard had fallen under the influence and he had been saved. He didn't need the enhancements. He didn't need the coins. He was powerful all on his own.
Soft steps announced the presence of his mate and he smiled when a hand slid over his back, along his waist, and Nick placed a kiss against one shoulder.
"You're up early for a Sunday."
"I could say the same. I knew last night was... eventful."
Nick grimaced, nails scratching lightly over the tattoo. "Kinda. But I got it. Nothing serious."
Their lips met without him even consciously thinking of it and the ensuing kiss was intimate and gentle and slightly hotter than probably intended. Renard wrapped his free arm around the other man, pulled him close. Nick was still sleepy, probably because he had come home just an hour ago and still hadn't been able to sleep.
"You have today off. Go and catch up on sleep," he murmured.
"I didn't go out hunting elusive wesen until the wee hours of the morning with my blutbad sidekick."
Nick snorted. "Don't let Monroe hear that." He yawned a little, still brushing his fingers over Renard's back. "Tell me about the tattoos."
There was a moment of silence, then the gray eyes captured him again, held him in their depth. Renard knew he had handed over power to Nick a long time ago. There was nothing he wouldn't do for him. The whole truth would one day be between them and he feared that day, the pain it would bring, the possible rejection.
"They don't look inked," Nick prodded softly when he didn't answer, tracing the whirly shapes.
"They aren't." He didn't want to lose this. Ever. Nick so close, in his embrace, the quiet grace and strength, the sharp tang and the smooth darkness of the hunter who had claimed part of his soul.
"In a way." He caught the wandering hands and trapped them against the cool glass, enjoying the shiver running through Nick, enjoying the look of want in the gray eyes. "You saw the wings."
"I saw shapes." Nick's brow furrowed.
"We don't have them right away. Wings are part of the maturing process. The tattoos appear when we're 'of age', so to speak."
It got Renard a smile. "Hence the slight curving from your back?"
The graceful swirls arched from his sides to the middle of his back, but they didn't touch anywhere close to his spine, almost petering off. If one looked closely, they saw a last, dwindling line that seemed to sink into his skin.
Nick looked thoughtfully at him, still trapped between the glass and Renard's half-naked form. "Show me?" he finally requested.
Give up control. Again. Hand it over to Nick. Let him guide him. The coins had forced the regnant out from behind the shields when his logical thinking had succumbed to their power; he had acted, he had begged, he had emotions override everything.
Now there was nothing of that. There was only Nick.
Like folding out of his side and back, too big to be real, too big to be really hidden anywhere on his body but still truly there, the dark wings whispered as skin unfolded. Bony structures, almost like a bat's but still so different, able to lift him if he truly wanted to. Nick's eyes were wide with wonder and Renard let go of the trapped hands as Nick wanted to touch.
"Wow," the Grimm whispered, fascinated.
He curved one wing into the tender caress. Nick's touch was electrifying and while his wings weren't that sensitive, right now they seemed to be.
Catching the hand again, threading their fingers together, Sean pushed Nick once again against the glass, claiming his mouth in a tender kiss, deepening it, tasting his mate. He curled both wings forward, hiding Nick in a cocoon of warmth, feeling that burst of affection and love once more.
How could he have not had this? For years, just looking from afar? And it had taken the Coins of Zakynthos to give him his mate completely? It was beyond crazy.
Nick seemed to sink a little against him, his body more and more relaxed, and when Sean looked at him again, he saw the exhaustion of the late night creature chase. He gathered him close.
"Sleep, Nick. You're exhausted."
It got him a glare and a mutter. But Nick didn't fight him that much when he maneuvered him into the bedroom and onto their tossed bed. Renard had already let the wings blend back into his body, the appendages hindering his day-to-day life anyway. For regnants they were a tool for posturing and threatening others. Or to excite his mate, he mused with a sly smile.
But not right now.
Nick needed this Sunday to sleep, to catch up on the hours he had missed, and Renard would make sure of it that he got that rest.
He closed the blinds, shutting out the rising dawn, and Nick slid under the covers with a sleepy sigh. He was almost asleep when Renard settled next to him on the mattress, though not enough that he didn't seek closer contact. Nick threw an arm over Renard's thighs and buried his face against the silky pajama bottoms.
Then he was dead to the world, his breathing deepening.
Renard just sat there, watching his mate, content and warm and completely at peace with the world.