Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of this work of fiction. They belong to their owners. I am making no profit, monetary or other, through the writing of this.
A/N: Written for csi_sanders1129, to fulfill her request for the hc_bingo square - cuddling for warmth.
"Hey, Nick," Monroe says, jostling the Grimm in an attempt to keep him awake. He fears what will happen if he lets the man fall asleep.
"Wha...?" Nick turns his head to look at him, and his eyes flutter closed, opening much too slowly for Monroe's liking.
"Nick, you gotta try to stay awake," Monroe says, tapping his friend's cheek.
"So tired," Nick says around a yawn and he slumps against Monroe, his head lolling onto the Blutbad's chest.
"Yeah, I know buddy," Monroe mutters, "but you can't sleep just now."
Nick's eyes roll beneath his eyelids as he makes a valiant effort to comply with Monroe's wishes, but they don't open. He alternates between feeling hot and cold - from feeling like he's on fire to pins and needles pain. His teeth are chattering, and, try as he might, he can't seem to hold onto the feeling of warmth. His thoughts are equally scattered as well.
"Hey, Nick," Monroe says, and he doesn't know what else to do, so he slaps the Grimm's cheek. It isn't overly hard, but he winces, hoping that he didn't cause the man too much pain. "Can you open your eyes for me?" he asks, wishing that he could transport them back in time and stop the events which had led to this.
"Mmm," Nick groans and it's almost a word, at least Monroe thinks that it is.
Too bad I don't speak injured Grimm, he thinks.
The cold hasn't gotten to him, but then again, he's a Blutbad, his blood runs hot. That, and his head hasn't been bashed into the metallic handle of the refrigerated boxcar, like Nick's has. The very boxcar that they happen to have been stuffed into by some run-of-the-mill, teenage, idiotic, wannabe criminals. And, though he's grateful that the refrigerated boxcar isn't airtight, so that they can breathe freely, he isn't particularly thrilled to be travelling to Canada in this fashion.
The punks had handcuffed Nick's right hand to a rung on the side of the car, and his left hand to Nick's right. And they'd used Nick's handcuffs to do it. Why the Grimm carried more than one pair of handcuffs on him was a mystery to Monroe.
Though, for idiotic, wannabe criminals, they have managed to get away with quite a bit, Monroe concedes.
And, unless Nick regains consciousness soon, Monroe muses, they'll get away with sending a seasoned detective and his secret, or maybe not so secret, snitch, up to Canada on a frickin' refrigerated boxcar of all things.
"Frosty the Snowman and Karen we ain't," Monroe says aloud, rubbing his hands along Nick's arms in the hopes that it will somehow help, though he's read somewhere that rubbing the skin of people suffering from hypothermia wasn't a good idea, or had that been the opposite? He can't remember right now, and it's not like Nick has hypothermia, at least not yet.
The sizable lump just to the side of Nick's left temple is more than just a little worrisome, but there's not much Monroe can do about it other than what he's already done, which was sop up the blood with the sleeve of his flannel shirt. Even so, Nick looks like the victim of some deranged, axe-wielding serial killer. The whole left half of his face is coated in dried blood, and Monroe's sleeve is stiff with it.
Knowing that head wounds bleed a lot and seeing them in action were two vastly different things, which was something that Monroe could have lived his whole life without having witnessed firsthand. Sure, he'd seen plenty of blood in his time, had relished in the spilling of it, but seeing it coming from what would otherwise be considered a small wound, and pouring copiously from his friend, was hard for him to stomach. He'd thought Nick was going to bleed to death, that the blood would keep coming and coming, but it had finally stopped, like Nick, when he'd been conscious, had assured him it would.
Nick groans and shivers, and Monroe looks around for the first time since their abductors had managed to subdue them. The boxcar they're locked in contains boxes of what appear to be...icecream cakes of all things.
He shakes his head, there's nothing even remotely helpful on the icy boxcar, and the teens who'd locked them on it were no doubt reveling in what they'd done. They were toasty warm, and free. Punks, Monroe thinks, and he knows that even if, when, Nick wakes up, they've still got to figure out how to get off the boxcar without further injury and then how to get back to Portland.
"How long have we been northbound anyway?" Monroe asks a still very much unconscious and shivering Nick.
"Yeah, I have no idea either," he continues the conversation as though Nick has spoken.
Ideally, he'd use either his or Nick's cell phones to contact the police, but the, and it's turning out that perhaps they aren't so idiotic after all, teenagers, had taken their phones. Nick's gun too. That, and his numerous zipties, and his detective badge. Nick was not going to be living this down anytime soon.
But, it hadn't really been Nick's fault. They'd both been bamboozled by the teens who'd seemed genuinely in need of their help.
"Mn'ro," Nick mumbles and Monroe watches as the man tries to open his eyes.
"Yeah buddy?" Monroe asks, leaning in close to Nick's mouth so that he is sure he'll be able to hear him no matter how softly he speaks.
"C'ld," Nick says and Monroe pats his hand.
"I know, Nick," he says, "we're on a refrigerated boxcar, and while that might be okay for snowmen and furry coated rabbits..." he stops quoting from, "Frosty the Snowman," as he isn't sure that Nick would understand the reference even if he was one hundred percent conscious.
"W'hppn'd?" Nick manages to prise an eye open, and Monroe doesn't like how the Grimm can't seem to make that one eye focus, or the fact that he appears to have forgotten what happened to them.
"We were duped by some fast-talking teens, and locked up on a train headed for Canada," Monroe says.
"H'd?" Nick's eyes screw up in pain as he asks the question, and Monroe realizes that he's beginning to learn injured-Grimm speak, which is not necessarily a good thing. Though, if their relationship continues on the way it has been going, he knows that it will come in handy in the future.
"You hit your head, well, technically, one of the teens bashed your head against the handle of the boxcar we're currently trapped in," Monroe explains, losing Nick halfway through the explanation.
"You?" Nick's eyes are still closed, but he raises a hand to touch Monroe's face, his brow puckering in puzzlement when the movement is cut short by the handcuff.
"I'm fine," Monroe says, tucking Nick's hand against his side in the hopes that the Grimm's icy appendage will garner some warmth from him. "You're the one we need to worry about."
"Pr'mise?" Nick's eyes open to a slit and Monroe can see the man's pain reflected in his gray eyes.
"Yeah, I promise," Monroe says, "I'm super duper, well aside from the fact that I'm trapped, here, with you, on a train bound for another country, that is."
Nick's eyes scrunch up in confusion and Monroe pats him on the cheek, not liking how cold the Grimm's skin feels to the touch.
"Wh're?" and the one syllable question takes way too much effort.
"We're on a train," Monroe repeats, trying hard not to shout, because as much as he hates having to repeat all of this, none of it is Nick's fault, and shouting at the man won't help him remember what he's said any better.
"Why?" Nick's eyes close and his face grows taut with pain.
"Because," Monroe says, and he knows that no matter what he says, Nick won't remember it. The head injury is much worse than either of them had originally thought it was. Short-term memory loss is a sure sign of a concussion, as is Nick's inability to focus and to remain alert.
"'Kay," Nick says, and then he settles beside Monroe, the back of his head resting against the Blutbad's chest, their hands entwined because the only other alternative is for Nick to grasp the cold handle of the boxcar and that isn't a viable option if Nick doesn't want to lose his hand.
It's awkward and uncomfortable, and Monroe wants to rip the heads off of those teenagers even though he's sure that they hadn't meant for things to go as badly as they had. They had only acted in fear, not knowing that Nick would have listened to their side of the story about what had happened. Whatever the hell it was that had happened which had led them to taking out a cop and his trusty informant, sidekick, best pal, confidante...
Monroe knows that there's something more he should be doing, but he isn't sure what it is. Common sense tells him that he should get Nick off the floor of the boxcar, but there isn't anything he can place underneath the man once he's up. Cakes and whatever else is being stored with them, aren't going to work. Even if he were to remove the contents of some of the cardboard boxes, he knows that the cardboard is too cold, and that it will only make the Grimm colder.
There's also the matter of the handcuffs, which, well, he can possibly break through using his supernatural strength - one of the pluses of being a fairytale type creature - but he doesn't want to risk hurting Nick in the process. Transforming on the boxcar might not be the best thing for him to do, what with the tight spaces and his close proximity to Nick.
Nick shivers, and it isn't like the small tremors that have been plaguing him almost since the onset of their forced trip. It is a violent shudder that escalates for what feels like a short eternity and Monroe fears that Nick's having a seizure, but then the Grimm utters the word, "C'ld," and Monroe is momentarily relieved.
"I know buddy," Monroe says, wishing that he could do more for his friend, or that he had something else to say. "I'm sorry."
Another violent shudder from Nick has Monroe reconsidering his resolve to not give into his true nature and break out of the handcuffs. It might be a matter of life and death for the Grimm, and he hasn't yet felt the cold himself.
It's the blue hue to Nick's lips, the way the Grimm's breath wheezes in and out of his mouth, and the constant shiver that finally settles the matter for Monroe, and he shifts.
It isn't a gentle, quiet shift, not some television version of man turns into wolf. Bones grind against each other, sinews stretch and pop, muscles expand and it hurts as his body twists and turns. The metal walls of their temporary prison magnify the sound and the noise is a reverberating cacophony of what sounds like breaking bones.
For Monroe, with his heightened sense of hearing, the sound is overwhelming, and he hunches in on himself, crushing Nick against his chest, in an attempt to shelter both of them from the disorienting clamour. When the shift is over and the echoes die down, it takes a moment for Monroe to come to himself, to realize that the human, the Grimm, in his arms is the reason for his shift.
There is no red precipitating the shift, just the blood coating Nick's face, his neck. And it's dried orange-brown, looks almost like copper in the dim light which seeps through the seams of the boxcar.
Monroe sniffs the air, the man shivering in his arms, and he growls, grimacing at how loud it sounds in the close confines of the train car. His voice bounces back to him and he is momentarily lost, looking around him for another Blutbad. But, it's just him and the far too fragile, sickly cold human.
The word, 'enemy,' pops into his head, and he snarls, but when the man shivers and moans, "M'nroe," he scents the air. He's puzzled, wondering why his enemy smells like friend, pack, family. And then it comes to him, Nick. This is Nick and he's hurt and cold, too cold, and if he doesn't do something soon, he might lose the man. Nick could die. And, for some strange reason, he doesn't want the Grimm to die.
"Nick," Monroe grunts, and, for good measure, he sniffs him again, just to make sure that he hasn't been tricked.
The Grimm's heartbeat is much too quick, and he reeks of old blood. Monroe's nose wrinkles in disgust and he turns his face away from the Grimm.
"C'ld," Nick slurs, and Monroe's chest rumbles as he takes in the state of the Grimm.
Memory comes with some difficulty, but when it does, Monroe is enraged. Vengeance screams in his veins and with every beat of his heart, but first, he has to take care of Nick. He needs to get the Grimm warm, and to do that, he has to get them out of this metal contraption.
He notices the silver bracelets wrapped around his and the Grimm's wrists and the indignity of how they've been caged up like animals hits him hard in the belly. He wants out of those bracelets which cut into his wrist, and which make Nick's skin look so white by comparison.
They aren't difficult to break. It's just a matter of a flick of the wrist to loosen his, and then a quick snap to break the one that is securing Nick to the wall.
"Not an animal," Monroe growls as he tosses the abominations away from them, sending them to the far side of the car where they hit the wall with a resounding clang and then fall to the floor.
"Hmm?" Nick says, and he nuzzles his face into Monroe's chest, burrowing for warmth.
"Too cold," the Blutbad says, and he does what is borne of instinct, what has been passed down from one generation to the next.
He shucks of his now torn flannel shirt, and quickly divests Nick of the tee-shirt that he's wearing. It is much too thin for this kind of cold and the Blutbad doesn't understand what compelled the Grimm to dress so scantily, but he has more pressing concerns on his mind.
"Come," Monroe says, and he shifts Nick so that the Grimm is no longer lying on the cold floor, but so that he's sitting on the Blutbad's lap. Monroe cradles him in his arms, making sure the smaller man's chest is pressed tight against his own, his head resting in the crook of Monroe's neck.
Nick's still shivering, and his skin feels like ice against Monroe's fur-covered chest, but, while the Blutbad balks at having the frigid skin touching him, he wraps his still warm flannel around Nick's back, tucking it in around the both of them. It isn't big enough to completely cover him, but it does what he wants it to do - captures and holds the warmth between the two of them.
Monroe yips and whimpers. Nudging with his nose, he encourages Nick to cuddle. He huffs and pants, sends hot breath coursing over the top of the Grimm's head in an effort to warm him. This is survival, caring for the weak - the wounded. It is innate, something he was born knowing how to do.
"M'nroe?" the Grimm questions, squirming.
Monroe grunts in response, barking softly in a manner which is meant to comfort the young and the hurt. Nick settles, sighs and then relaxes into Monroe, entwining his fingers in the Blutbad's hairy chest. He stiffens momentarily, Monroe feels the man's face knot in confusion, but then, with another soft sigh, he stills.
Monroe pats and strokes Nick's back, his arms, his hair. He lies back against the cold floor, arranging Nick atop him so that no part of the Grimm is touching cold. The man's smaller than him, fits easily into the crooks and curves of the planes of his body. It feels right, good, except for Nick's shivering - minute tremors that wrack his slender, yet compact body.
Monroe continues his ministrations, alternately petting the Grimm's hair and massaging the man's limbs, generating warmth and engendering comfort through deliberate and constant touch. Blutbads have no aversion to touch. Contrary to popular belief, it is in their nature to seek it out. Comfort, love, home - are found in and through physical contact, whether it be a gentle nudge or a seemingly offhanded brush of knuckles or fingers against flesh.
In a manner of time - seconds, minutes, countless hours - Nick warms, the shivers abate, and Monroe's somehow curled around the Grimm, like a cat. Nick sleeps. He's heavy on top of man's warmed breath stirs ripples along Monroe's skin and wakes up a longing for companionship within him that he'd thought had died when he'd rebuffed Angelina's advances.
For a time, he'd thought of pursuing something with with Rosalee, but, she's a Fuchsbau, and he's a Blutbad. Their kind don't mix so well. He feels a kinship for her, but this, with Nick, this is different. He knows that the man, once he's healed, can hold his own with him. Rosalee, for all her bravery, is still timid and easily cowed. Monroe, when he's true to his nature, needs someone capable of standing up to and taming the beast. Nick has proven capable of doing that time and again, and not just because he's a Grimm.
The weight of the Grimm grounds him, pulls him from sleep when the man shifts and stirs. Dry lips inadvertently brush against his skin, and the Blutbad tilts his head back and whines, wanting more.
"M'nr'e?" Nick's lips move against his chest, muffling the word. His tongue accidentally grazes the top of Monroe's right nipple, and Monroe bites down on his lip, whimpering and panting, wriggling beneath the Grimm.
Warm and alert, Nick pushes against Monroe, raises up on his elbows and peers down at the Blutbad. He frowns in confusion, and his eyes are still having trouble focusing. He blinks down at Monroe, his lips form the one word question, "Monroe?" though no sound comes out. Nick's heart skips a beat, and then speeds up, his eyes dilate in fear.
"Nick," the Blutbad grunts, pulling the Grimm down, flush against his chest, "stay," he commands.
Nick's struggles to sit up are weak and ineffectual, and all the while Monroe pets and lightly caresses the Grimm's back, his arms, the nape of his neck, until Nick once again calms and settles.
"Okay," he says, and his heart rate slows, "okay," he repeats, and some of his tension bleeds away. "I can do that. I can stay. But, can I get Monroe back?"
Monroe growls, the sound emanating from the back of his throat.
"Okay," Nick says, his voice placating, "can I get my Monroe back, not that you aren't, um, that is, I don't...I'm sorry, I don't know what to say."
Nick's breath is hot against Monroe's skin, and his fingers curl into the hair that covers his chest as he readjusts his position. His knee accidentally brushes Monroe's groin and the Blutbad arches, panting and whimpering at the unintentional touch.
Nick stills and stiffens, and Monroe can sense his fear in the way his breath stops and starts and the way his heart rate quickens. Nick's fingers pull at his chest hair, and Monroe takes a couple of deep breaths, centering himself. He uses the techniques he's learned through years of practicing yoga, to get himself under control and return to the Monroe Nick is used to, the Monroe that Nick wants, needs, is asking for.
The transformation is far less dramatic this time around. Though his bones pop and grind against one another, the sinews twist and snap into place, and his muscles contract and shrink, it is far less painful returning to himself.
"Monroe?" Nick questions, and his voice is wary.
"Yeah, buddy, it's me," Monroe says, his voice soft and subdued. He rubs a hand along Nick's back, the need for touch not at all stymied by being in this more human manifestation of himself.
"Um..." Nick says, and Monroe can tell, even without looking, that the man's blushing, his pale skin turning a rosy shade.
"Your lips were starting to turn blue, and I think you've got a concussion," Monroe says, leaving Nick to draw conclusions as to what has happened.
When the seconds drag on and it seems like Nick isn't going to draw the conclusions that Monroe assumed he was capable of, he wonders if Nick's head injury has caused some brain damage, or if the Grimm is currently incapable of making inferences due to his concussion. He doesn't want to spell everything out, is feeling more than a little embarrassed as to what images his mind, fuzzy as it is after the transformation, is supplying for him. Had he really fondled his friend and let his fingers skim along the outer edge of his thighs?
"Thank you," Nick murmurs, just as Monroe's about to apologize, and he shifts, peering up at him through gray eyes which hold too much emotion for a Grimm.
Monroe feels himself blush, and he averts his eyes. He shrugs, but can't help the smile that plasters itself across his face.
"Anytime," he says, and inwardly slaps himself. Just what Nick needs, a friend who, for all intents and purposes, 'wolfs out,' gropes him, and then wants to jump his bones when he's injured or endangered, he thinks.
"I mean," Monroe starts to say, stilling when Nick places a hand on the side of his face.
When he looks at the Grimm, he sees nothing but gratitude, and, well, of course the effects of a pretty severe concussion. Uneven pupils, inability to focus, and pain.
Nick smiles, though, and then, before Monroe can react, the Grimm inches forward, grasps the back of Monroe's neck with one hand and places his lips, dry, yet warm, over Monroe's. The kiss is chaste and not overly long.
When it's over, in a matter of seconds, there are no fireworks. No butterflies in the pit of his stomach frantically fluttering to get out. It lacks the passion that he shared with Angelina, the fervor he imagined kissing Rosalee would arouse, and the fiery intensity he'd felt when he'd been using his heightened body heat to warm Nick.
"Thank you," Nick repeats and smiles, his gray eyes holding Monroe's.
And this time, when their lips meet, Nick's fingers are twined in his chest hair and the hair at the base of his neck. Monroe's cupping Nick's ass with his hands, gently squeezing. Their lips part, tongues meet, teeth clack, and something hard and frozen loosens in his belly.
There are no sparks. There's no electric impulse. And still, no fireworks to ignite a fierce, passionate frenzy.
Instead, there's a calculated laziness to the kiss, as though they've got all the time in the world. As though they are not hundreds of miles away from where they need to be, and Nick isn't half-covered in blood from a head injury which could've killed him. As if, just minutes ago, Monroe hadn't been a fairytale beast and Nick the proverbial, albeit bastardized, damsel in distress. As if time has all but ceased to exist and they really are the only two people alive on the planet.
It is not a kiss borne of a passion short-lived, snuffed out like a flickering candle. Nor one accompanied by Hollywood-style romantic fanfare - here today, gone tomorrow in a puff of dramatic smoke. There's nothing fleeting about this kiss, it is a kiss meant to last a lifetime, but they both need to breathe, and Nick's not quite operating at a hundred percent.
The kiss tapers off, leaving Nick panting against Monroe's neck, his breath hot and moist, and Monroe hard as a rock. A whine builds from deep within his gut, and it comes out as a whimper of need. Nick's spent though, and Monroe resumes the petting and massaging long after the Grimm has fallen into a peaceful sleep.
Hours later, the train stops, and finally, they're free of the damnable refrigerated boxcar. Canadian officials shake their heads at the story - told in part by Nick, with Monroe filling in the gaping holes - and okay, it does sound far-fetched, but still, Monroe doesn't like the way they narrow their eyes at Nick and question him. In the end, a call to Captain Renard leads to laughter and relief, and to Nick finally getting his head injury tended to.
In the end, Monroe doesn't hunt the teenagers down and rend them limb from limb, but it is a near thing. Turns out, they went to the police themselves. Had their consciences pricked by some wayfaring gypsy whom Monroe believes to be a witch, but Nick believes was just a kind-hearted old woman who encouraged the teens to, 'do the right thing.'
It isn't until weeks after they've returned to Portland and Nick has been released from the hospital that the Grimm seeks him out. And, Monroe isn't one to wear his heart on his sleeve, much. He isn't one to kiss and tell, or to pine after unreciprocated love. Particularly when the non-reciprocation is due in part to his having taken advantage of his very concussed and not completely 'with it' friend who probably thought that he was kissing his once upon a time fiance at the time. No, no embarrassment there.
He is surprised, however, when Nick shows up on his doorstep, flowers hidden behind his back, a bottle of Merlot in hand, and a self-conscious smile gracing his lips. The Grimm is nervous, not afraid, and Monroe tries not to get ahead of himself as he ushers Nick into his home. It's a warm summer evening, there's a gentle breeze in the air, and they've got all the time in the world.
Please leave a review, thanks.