Beta: Ever_Obsessed (LJ)

Characters + Pairing: Monroe/Nick

Rating: PG-13 (No vulgar language, but some plain nudity.)

Prompt: I'd love to seen an AU where Nick and Monroe first meet when Monroe is still bad, preferably if Nick could be in the woods camping to clear his head and Monroe stumbles upon him while in wolf form. Maybe Monroe is hurt, though, and Nick tries to patch him up? Monroe could be confused with what to do with a human who shows him kindness.

And of course, as a general warning: Please, people, don't try to bump into real wolves. If they're hungry or threatened, they will go for your neck. (Not that I think any of you would even think about it.)

Also, triggers: someone throws up. It's not detailed, just briefly mentioned.

It was a particular morning. The chill of the night still loomed in the air. The sun rose lazily, blocked from illuminating the land by a handful of wispy clouds. Not far from Portland, at a local campground, a young black-haired man unzipped the front panel of his blue and black tent. He wore a red shirt, dirty light jeans, and brown and black hiking boots. Nick's hair was straight but short, cutting off midway between his brows and his hairline. He sat on a log he'd cleaned the day prior, igniting a weak fire for a meal. After stoking the fire for several minutes, he reached into his cooler. After cutting open a pack of bacon, he reached into his bag and retrieved a spatula.

The man blinked a few times. Something stole his eggs, damn it. He stabbed at a curled, brown slice of bacon. After the pack was heated, he shoved the contents onto a small plate and began horking down whole slices. He mumbled that if something stole the eggs, it better have been hungry.

The quick snapping of branches in the distance alerted him. The young man placed the plate on top of the cooler. He reached into his pack, grabbing a hunting knife. He'd camped before and had run-ins with angry deer and a near run-in with a bear. He figured it'd just be a skunk. A really loud, fast skunk.

A peculiar dark figure shot out of the tree line. An odd black wolf stopped few feet away. Growling, it ducked, preparing to attack. The jet-haired student examined the creature. Wolves were rare here. This one was injured, with blood and dirt caked to its fur, along its back. It was missing a patch of hair on its rightmost hind leg. Oddly, it held a shredded piece of fabric in its jaw.

The young man backed up, nearly bumping his tent. The wolf approached every same bit. He realized the wolf was challenging him, and he had no idea what he was doing. 'The dumb thing might have rabies,' he thought, picturing himself snapping wildly at people. The wolf continued growling, occasionally letting out a snappy bark.

"Look, wolf, fire," the man weakly stated, pleading with the wolf to just leave him alone. He looked away for a moment, eying the still hot bacon.

After grabbing the plate, the man tossed a handful to the wolf, who dropped the fabric and quickly devoured the slices. After resuming its aggressive stance, the plate was emptied into the dirt and grass with a single motion. After having consumed the rest, the injured wolf stopped its aggression. Letting out a whine, it walked reservedly toward the man.

Stumped, the man eased the empty, greasy plate on the ground and backed away. The wolf noted the plate with a stare, but continued to walk toward the chef.

Stopped by the trunk of a large tree, the man lost the ability to retreat. A foot away from the man, the wolf carefully lay down on its side, letting out a weak yawn of sorts.

"You are a really weird wolf."

The wolf continued watching the brunette.

"Do you want my help? I can make you better." The youth whispered under his breath, "If you don't rip my neck open." He swore the animal made a defiant nod, so he asked again in disbelief. After the wolf nodded a second time, the man's eyes grew wide.

"I'm talking. To a wolf."

Responding, the wolf whined.

The man thought for a moment, then slowly stated, "I'm wearing a blue shirt."

The wolf let out a growl.

When he repeated the sentence, changing the color to red, the wolf again nodded.

The man's eyes teared up. "Oh my god, I'm insane."

After several minutes of nearly fetal-positioned whining (to himself), the man decided that the creature must have been a pet or in some kind of captivity. It understood at least some of what he said. He decided that he'd give his first aid kit a its first shot.

"Wolf. My name is Nick," he stated, over-emphasizing his name. He stood, walking away to get his red container of healthiness. Upon returning, the wolf had closed its eyes. "Hey, don't sleep."

The wolf's eyes opened.

"This," Nick said, pointing to the box, "will make you better. Understand? Do not go for my throat."

After a nod, Nick began patching up the injured wolf. After being bandaged well, the wolf stood, picked up the fabric sheet, and returned to nuzzle the man's hand before trotting off.

Nick began packing up his gear. He thought he imagined it all from the stress of his first college exams approaching within the next month.

The criminal studies pupil heard some odd noise not too far away. Again picking up his hunting knife, he prepared to investigate the noise. He validated his fear when he swore he heard odd, gross, non-human gagging that soon sounded like very human coughing. Nick ran in the direction of the strange sounds, preparing for the worst.

He stopped in his tracks, having discovered an older, mostly nude man, lying face down in the leaves. "Hey!"

The man weakly lifted himself, extending his forearms. He seemed disoriented and bizarrely familiar.

"Are you okay, man?" Nick grabbed the man's shoulders, turning him over. The college student shook violently.

"Is this a joke?" He pressed, angrily.

The stubbled man hazily gazed at the younger man. "Oh hey, it's you. Nick," he slurred.

Realizing the man was truly injured, Nick scooped him up and carried him back to the camp. He was heavy and smelled rancid, but the camp wasn't too far. After placing the man down, he poured water from his canteen onto the fabric sheet the wolf-thing had carried. The student dabbed the man's forehead for a minute, almost waiting for a cue. "How do you know my name and why are you naked?"

"Dude," the man stressed, "You just told me an hour ago."

"That's not funny," Nick shot back.

"It wasn't meant to be."

Nick stayed baffled. Not sure if he was being insulted, he began cutting off the over-tightened bandages from the man's wrist. He realized, yes, that was his own wrapping. And the bullet graze on the leg matched. In his mind, he check-marked 'certifiably nuts' next to his own name.

"Niiiiiick," the ill man whined. "Why are you helping me?"

The younger man didn't have an answer.

"I'm a wanted man, Nick."

The aspiring law student stared quizzically at the strange man. He almost dared make a comment about the man's nudity and how no one would want that, but he decided it was too mean.

"Haven't you heard of Eddie Monroe, robber and eel-edged murderer?"

"Eddie, alleged murderer?" Nick asked, going back to dabbing water across the man's forehead.

"Yeah, murderer. That bother you?" Monroe smirked, unable to focus a vaguely aggressive stare into Nick's being.

"It does. A little more than..." He trailed off. "Trying to get me to believe you're some kind of werewolf. I'm not crazy. Or gullible."

"Not a werewolf. Blutbad."

"Blud-bat. What the hell is that?"

"Me," stated Monroe, smiling proudly. Following a hefty groan, he attempted to prop himself up by his elbows. "We're wolves. And people. Sometimes."

Nick waited for the punch line, but the injured man continued explaining for some time.

"And since you still haven't left, you believe me."

"I think you're crazy and that this is some elaborate hoax you're playing on me."

"And I think I need pants."

Nick looked head to toe of this strange man. "Why are you naked?"

"Clothes don't fit me when I'm wolfing out."

The younger man looked left, then right. "Okay," he declared. "I'm going to get you some pants."

He carefully drug the man to his open tent. He knew getting into the legal system would introduce him to some very, very unusual people and things, but he didn't think it would happen until he really got out there. At least until his first patrol.

Monroe, picking dirt off his leg, spat out, "Oh, and Nick..."

Nick stopped, back turned to the nude.

"I wear thirty-four waist, thirty-eight inseam. Sometimes it's thirty-six forty if the company can't measure for shit."

The future detective nodded, taking note. A brisk walk through the forest lead Nick to his beaten up hatchback. He returned to the forest a little over an hour later. Trudging back to the camp site with a pair of acid-washed jeans, cheap sandals, and a stained purple plaid shirt, Nick discovered the strange man sleeping. He spoke loudly, kicking one of the supports. "Wake up."

Monroe darted awake, weakly rolling over. "Buddy!"

"Oh, wow, you really did bring me something."

"Feeling better?" Nick passed the garments to the man. "Thrift store. You didn't tell me your shoe size, so I got a size larger than me."

Monroe placed the clothes on the floor of the tent. He spoke up, "No boxers?"

"You're already naked. What difference does it make?"

Smiling mischievously, he connected with Nick. "I'm going to need some help."

"I guess your fever broke."

After Nick assisted Monroe with his clothes, they sat around the extinguished fire.

The Blutbad broke the silence. "So, Nick. You know about me. What about you?"

The aspiring law student watched his acquaintance's body language. He shrugged.

"Okay, you're the mysterious nice guy that camps in the middle of the woods and cooks bacon."


"So what do you do, Nick?"

Monroe waited for a response for several minutes. Finally, Nick opened up. "I'm a law student."

Excitedly, Monroe interjected, "Lawyer, I hope."

"No, cop."

Monroe snapped his fingers. "Family?"

"An aunt."

"What about your parents?"

"They, uh, died a long time ago. Car accident."

"That's terrible."

The silence continued for several minutes. It was approaching sunset.

"Hey, Nick? You should think about becoming a lawyer."

"Why would I do that?"

"Thinking about turning myself in. Serving time. Maybe you can defend me."

"I wouldn't dream it."

"Could you think about it? You're the most pleasant person I've ever met. I can't figure out why, but you make me want to do these... nice, good things. Like not chasing pets away and mugging people. And not terrifying old people so they end up in the hospital."

"Wow, you are a terrible person."

"I know, right?"

Nick tapped the man gently on the shoulder. "So if you stop being a criminal, what would you do?"

Monroe scratched at his stubble. "Maybe... do something with clocks. Fix 'em. And read books... Not get abandoned by my partner-in-crime."

Nick affirmed with a soft, "Sounds good."

"So where do you live, anyway?"

"I dorm."

"But can I stay the night?"

"I don't think so. Let's just stay here for tonight and tomorrow, we'll see."

The next day, the student turned over in his bedroll. His eyes just opening, he spotted a cloudy black canine shape. He rubbed his eyes. The wolf lay there, tucked into a couple articles of clothing. Nick placed his hand on its shoulder and gave the wolf a light shake. The canid rolled onto its feet. Nick had already opened the panel and begun gathering his things when Monroe emerged, groggy.

"What_ is_ up_." He expressed.

"I'm going back to the dorm, Eddie. You can tag along if you want to."

"You know I will. And next week, I'll turn my life around starting with hard time."

They packed the camp site up quickly, chatting very little as they progressed. The ebony-haired youth lead the way to his vehicle.

The scraggly man inquired, "So how long do you think I'll serve for robbery?"

Nick thought little, stating, "Five to ten, give or take. Depends what kind of robbery you were involved in. Didn't you say you're also accused of murder?"

"Yeah, but that wasn't me. That was Angelina."

"Well, you might still be charged as an accomplice."

Silence for a minute.

"Do you know an attorney?"

"No, Eddie, I don't think I do." Supplies had been shoved in the back of the hatchback.

Monroe grimaced. "Nick, do you think you can just call me Monroe? I just don't like when people use my first name. It's a thing."

"Sure thing, Monroe."

Smiling, the Blutbad spat, "Can you visit me in prison every now and then?"

"Maybe. Yeah, I can try if you promise to do all the positive stuff you said."

Driving into town, Monroe tapped Nick's arm. "Can you come with me to the police station?"

Nick glanced over at the smiling man. "Uh, I guess?"

After a brief drive, the car stopped on a busy street. Monroe bounded out of the vehicle, slamming the door. He waited as Nick locked the doors. The future detective trailed behind him a foot. Inside, Monroe approached the first desk he saw.