Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of this work of fiction. No goods were exchanged for the writing of this.
Warnings: Spoiler for most of season one, in particular episode 1.10, "Organ Grinder," when Nick asks Monroe what his favorite color is. This story got a bit out of hand.
A/N: This would not have been written without an immense amount of encouragement and support from animegirl1129.
"What big eyes you have,
The kind of eyes that drive wolves mad.
So just to see that you don't get chased
I think I ought to walk with you for a ways."
From "LI'L RED RIDING HOOD" by Ronald Blackwell
Monroe's favorite color has always been red. Strange, possibly even ironic as that is, it suits him. He likes red, inasmuch as it incites him to passionate anger, and makes him lose himself to his baser instincts; it also brings out a heady vibrancy to life. It gives life color, and, at times, meaning.
Take Picasso's, Gypsy in Front of Musca. The red of the material on the gypsy woman's blue apron draws the eye, like honey draws a bear to the hive. It is sensual, even startling, like fire to provoke men to act indecently.
And then there's Salvador Dali's, The Meditative Rose. The red of the rose blossoms like blood on the canvas. A single droplet spills forth from the voluptuous petals and into the brackish liquid below. It is provocative. Eye-catching. Mesmerizing. Beautiful.
Not that he's spent all that much time analyzing why he likes the color red. Who does that kind of thing anyway? It's just that, now that he's said it to Nick, he's been kind of thinking on it. He'd said it, in a way, to rile the younger man. It hadn't worked.
Of course the mention of human testicles acting as a sort of Viagra for the erectile-impaired beasties of the world had done the job, but he hadn't said that to rile Nick, he'd said it as a matter of course. Something that he thought the young Grimm would find fascinating. He'd miscalculated. It had ruined the police detective's appetite and that had, in turn, ruined the meal.
He often seemed to miscalculate with Nick. Granted, the man wasn't an ordinary man, he was a Grimm. It was hard to figure out what made him tick. He was a thing of childhood tales and the occasional nightmare. Not that Monroe would admit to the latter.
There was no telling how Nick would take that. He'd probably tease him about it. Or, he could just as easily get that look in his eyes, the one that made Monroe's heart go out to him, and tell him that he was sorry. Neither was an option that Monroe particularly liked.
Red. Red. Red. Little girls dressed in red, lips rouged, cheeks flushed to blushing, their hearts beating, pumping blood – that crimson commodity of life to be supped upon by those of his kin who had not divorced themselves from their very nature.
Nick had taken it at face value. Not questioned him when he'd said that red was his favorite color. Hadn't offered up his own favorite color, and now Monroe wonders what it is. Does Nick favor blue, or perhaps green? Or is he partial to some manly version of violet? Or maybe Nick likes red too.
"Nah, you don't like red, do you?" Monroe asks the still figure, nudging the Grimm with his foot. "I bet your favorite color is something happy and bright, like yellow, or maybe orange."
Nick doesn't answer, but Monroe isn't expecting him to. It's been two hours. Two hours of silence and being surrounded by a wretched red color that makes him sick to his stomach. He's willing to concede that maybe red isn't his favorite color after all. At least not red the color of the coppery scented liquid that is coursing sluggishly down Nick's forehead, seeping into the rock littered dirt of the cave floor they are both situated on.
Monroe's hands are bound behind his back with thick, coarse rope that bites into his wrists whenever he moves. His legs are bound at the thighs, just below the knees, and, for good measure, slightly above the ankles. Not even his Blutbaden strength had enabled him to break free of the ropes without weakening them a bit first. Their captor, crazy and addlepated as he is, certainly knows how to secure a prisoner.
Nick, however, isn't bound at all. His hands, unmoving, are free, and likewise his legs. Free, and yet as useless as Monroe's bound ones.
Their attacker, strangely enough a human, will be back. He's promised as much. There's no doubt in Monroe's mind that he will make good on his promise.
He's some crazy old coot who believes the government is after him, and that Nick has been sent to take some metal chip from his brain. A chip filled with information that will, '…bring an end to the world as we know it.' Zombie apocalypse mixed with alien invasion. Real crazy shit.
The man's schizophrenic delusions are what led him to kill two other men, FBI agents (aliens), before waylaying him and Nick. The man had taken great pleasure in sharing what he'd done to them, and Monroe wonders if there were others. Their bones are strewn throughout the floor of the cave. Monroe can feel one digging into his backside and it gives him the willies even as he tries not to think of it. It feels like a metacarpal, or maybe it's a fragment of a tibia.
"I'm guessing blue is your favorite color," Monroe says as he shifts in the dirt. He really doesn't want some dead man's bony finger up his ass.
"I mean, it goes good with your eyes, which, well, I know are grayish blue and all, but…" he trails off, grasping the bit of bone with his fingers which are now well and dead to use and uncooperative. "Well, they seem to change from blue to gray depending on your mood."
The rope had long since cut off the circulation to his fingers. His ass, knees and feet feel the same tingly sensation Monroe has come to associate with the loss of proper blood flow through his limbs. Even if he does manage to cut through the thick rope with the bit of bone he's managed to procure, he knows that he won't be able to do more than stumble around the cave like a drunk on a week-long binge, except, for him, it'll be much more painful.
"Damn it Nick, you need to wake up," Monroe growls, his human façade morphing into that of the Blutbaden as anger, the color red trickling from the small, circular wound in Nick's belly, rouses the beast within.
He knows that Nick's alive by the movement of the man's chest as he breathes in and out. Even, shallow breaths that Monroe subconsciously counts, demarcating time in sync with the exchange of airflow. It isn't nearly enough of a sign of life for Monroe, though. He'd rather have the man up and about, drinking his coffee and talking. Or maybe dining by candlelight, or, well, anything other than this pale, silent version of the normally vibrant man.
Monroe's aware of their captor's looming presence long before he nears the cave, his supernatural hearing on high alert. As the unstable man's footsteps crash through the brush at least a half mile away, Monroe has made up his mind and is loosening the ropes bound 'round his wrists with the bit of bone. The jagged piece of bone slips from his fingers and he curses, but fumbles around for it, crowing triumphantly when he regains what he prays will be the means of his, and Nick's, escape.
The bone is sharp, which is a good thing, but it bites into his fingers, and although they are numb from lack of proper circulation, they still sting from the paper-thin cuts. He can picture what the hodgepodge of crisscrossed cuts on his fingers must look like and tries not to imagine losing the use of his fingers. It would be hard to work on timepieces and clocks if the bone bit too far and damaged the nerves.
"Brown," Monroe says, biting on his bottom lip as he concentrates, picturing the ropes as nothing more than the innards of a very intricate clock. "Your favorite color is brown," he says it confidently, glancing at Nick, and sucking in a breath as the bone slips, not through a layer of rope, but his wrist.
The wound isn't deep, and it probably won't scar, but, he realizes that if he continues on in this way, he won't get very far before their crazed captor is back. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
"Concentrate Monroe," he says, "just slice through one layer at a time. You can do this. You've worked on far more intricate material before, blindfolded. Granted that was a bet that you should never have taken, but…" he feels the bone slice through a layer of rope, and then another layer.
All he needs to do is weaken the rope enough to allow him room to move and then he will be able to call upon his Blutbaden nature, much as he is loath to do, and break through the ropes. Easy peasy, he thinks and then shakes his head. His shoulders ache and his butt feels dead to the world.
A groan startles him and he almost drops the bone, but manages to maintain a precarious hold on it, slicing through another layer of the tightly twined rope. Nick's coming to; his eyes appear dark gray in the dim lighting of the cave as he blinks.
"Easy there," Monroe says, wishing that his hands were free. He doesn't want Nick to move, and, with his arms secured behind him, he will be unable to keep Nick in place should the stubborn Grimm attempt to sit up or do some other equally stupid thing like try to free Monroe of his ropes.
"Wha…" Nick says incoherently, turning his head in Monroe's direction.
His fingers are scrabbling at the dirt, finding purchase in nothing. Nick's unfocused gaze causes Monroe to feel uneasy; the Grimm's pupils are blown and uneven – the right one bigger than the left. That blow he took to the head had done him no favors. Crazy and human or not, that madman is going to pay, Monroe vows as he remembers the way Nick crumpled to the ground when the butt of the man's rifle slammed into his forehead.
"Nick," Monroe says as he frantically saws at the ropes bound about his wrists, "Nick stay still, don't try to move, okay?"
"M'nroe?" Nick's voice is weak, his speech slurred and his unfocused eyes keep opening and closing in something slower than a blink. "Wh'hap'ned?"
"Don't worry about that now," Monroe says, "just stay still and let me get us out of this, okay?"
"Head hurts," Nick says, lifting his right hand as though to raise it to his head, only it doesn't make it that far.
It flops, like a dying fish, by his side and no amount of effort that Nick makes causes it to rise more than a centimeter off the ground. It pains Monroe to watch this, so he inches over, sidling up next to the semi-coherent Grimm, bringing his legs to rest alongside Nick's. It is the only bit of comfort that he can manage to give the man at the moment, until he can free his hands.
"I know it does, buddy," Monroe says, "it took quite a hit, but you've got a thick skull, right?"
There's just a little more work to be done on the rope with the bone and then he can manage the rest with his inhuman strength. It's too bad that their crazy captor was able to easily subdue him earlier (a hit to the lower back would do that to a Blutbad), but, Monroe supposed it was a blessing (in disguise) that the man hadn't seen him (weaponless) as a threat and had only tied him up.
"Uh huh," Nick agrees, sighing. His eyes close and he smiles as if drunk. "Stomach hurts," he says, the smile falters as his brows crease in concern or pain, Monroe isn't sure which.
"Just stay still Nick," Monroe says, and he takes a deep breath, twisting his wrists. Feeling the ropes give way, he lets the bone fragment clatter to the cave floor and sends up a silent prayer of thanks to the soul of the bone's owner, whoever or whatever it had been before this.
"I'll get us out of here," he says, and his heart stills when the sound of faltering steps nears the entrance of the cave. "Crap," he says; his voice little louder than a whisper.
Now or never, he thinks, steeling himself as the footsteps stop just a few yards short of the cave. There is little room for him to 'wolf out' in the cave and little time for Monroe to secure his freedom so that he can protect Nick from the man who has already hurt him.
He's counting on adrenaline to give him the strength and endurance that he'll need, and their captor's paranoid schizophrenia to enable him to see Monroe for what he truly is. There are a select few who can see a Blutbad's true nature, and unfortunately, crazies are foremost in those who have that unique 'gifting'.
"Wha's 'a mat'er?" Nick asks, attempting, but failing to open his eyes.
"Nothing," Monroe says quickly, not wanting to alarm Nick.
"Doesn't sound like nothing," Nick says a little more coherently.
"Honestly man, don't you trust me at all?" Monroe asks as he takes in the red pool that is now gathered on Nick's abdomen. It looks garish, almost black in the dimly lit cave, but Monroe can see the red of the blood, like tiny jewels, glinting in the waning light of the setting sun.
"I trust you," Nick says, and damn it if his voice doesn't sound hurt. His head rolls to the side and Nick's nose brushes against Monroe's hip.
The smile's back and Monroe can't help but smile in return.
"'Bout time," Monroe growls, the red of Nick's blood urging the Blutbad side of him to the fore, giving him the strength he needs to break through what remains of the ropes.
He's free now, the tingling in his fingers all but ceases as he makes quick work of the ropes binding his legs. He was right, adrenaline, the threat of crazy hovering somewhere outside of the cave, gives him the incentive that he needs to move quickly. The small cuts that adorn his fingers hardly register pain to him as he works.
Before he's even fully cognizant of what he's doing, he's crouching, placing himself between Nick and the entrance of the cave. His eyes, glowing red, search the growing darkness for sign of their psycho waylayer. His nose twitches as he sniffs the night air, sifting through the various scents of the forest – moss, lichen, mushrooms, and, the foreign element he is searching for – human sweat and motor oil.
His lips curl in disgust and he growls low, a sound that emanates from somewhere deep within his gut and reverberates in his chest. He's identified the threat to Nick, divorcing himself almost entirely of the side of himself that he's been cultivating for decades now as he draws upon the fullness of his ancestry in order to keep someone that he's sworn to protect safe. It doesn't matter that the threat is a mere human. That just makes him that much easier to take out.
He glances back at Nick. The man's pale, the movement of his chest is too quick and the pool of blood on his stomach, though small is still much too alarming, too tempting, too red.
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