Chapter 4: Childhood
The process of making dinner has gotten easier over the years for Monroe and Nick. They learnt the other's movements, favorite foods, and their favorite way to have it prepared. Nick knew when Monroe was going to turn. He'd get out of his way so they don't bump together. Monroe knew what Nick needed before Nick even knew what he needed. He'd find the Blutbad holding it out to him when he looked up. It was a practiced routine after five years together. They weren't married. That wasn't allowed in Portland. However Nick would always classify Monroe as his husband. There was no other word for it. It was natural to claim they were married. After all they live together, have joint bank accounts, and raising their own flesh and blood together.
Nick looked up from the spaghetti he was currently draining of water. He peered at the kitchen entry way. Surprisingly it was void of life. He blinked. Slowly he tore his eyes away from the entryway to look at Monroe. The Blutbad was happily stirring the spaghetti sauce. Nick placed the strainer down. He wiped his hands on a dish towel.
"Monroe," he called. The Blutbad looked up.
"Yeah?" He answered.
"Don't you think it's a bit… quiet?" Nick furrowed his eyebrows. Monroe looked towards the entryway. His eyebrows knitted together in a perfect imitation of Nick's.
"Now that you mentioned it…" Monroe placed the wooden spoon down in the counter and, with Nick, ventured into the living room. Alex wasn't there. Nick backed out of the room to go check upstairs. However he stopped in his tracks. A cold wind blew past the back of his neck, giving him the shivers. He turned around and his eyes widened. The front door was opened. A throw pillow lay abandoned on the welcome mat. Panic and fear surged through Nick's nerves as he charged for the door without thinking.
"Alex!" He cried. Monroe was hot on his heels, not having to ask what was wrong. He knew what was wrong. Barefooted Nick dashed out into the biting cold of a winter's night. His face was panic ridden as he looked left and right for Alex. The street was deserted. Cars sat silently waiting for the morning to come. Nick rushed down the walkway.
"Alex!" He shouted once more. Monroe ran into his back when he stopped suddenly at the curb of the sidewalk. The Blutbad grabbed onto his shoulders but Nick shrugged him off. The Grimm turned around. Tears were running down his cheeks as he grabbed the Blutbad by the arms harshly.
"Where's my baby? Monroe, where is my baby!?" He shouted desperately. The Blutbad, much calmer then he should be, took hold of Nick's shoulders once more. Nick struggled against him but he lifted the Grimm up and placed him aside. It didn't show but Monroe was furious. His anger wasn't directed at Alex though. Alex probably had nothing to do with this disappearing act. The little boy couldn't even bear to use the mall's restroom without one of his parents standing outside the stall. Someone had taken his pup; someone who was going to pay heavily when he found him. With anger as his guide, Monroe shifted. He shook his head a bit to get rid of the tingly sensation before focusing in on Alex's scent. It wasn't strong. The scent was fading. Alex had been gone quite a long time. Monroe growled.
His pup had been abducted and he didn't even realize it till now. Nick sniffled behind him as he tried to silence his crying. The Grimm detached himself from Monroe as the Blutbad stepped forward to sniff at the curb. There was a car there previously. It wasn't that long ago, about half an hour or so. That was about how long Alex's scent's been on the sidewalk. The two were connected. Monroe took a deep breath. His mind sorted out the various scents as he brought them all in. There was the pee of the dog three doors down. Several of his neighbors who walk by his house on a daily basis were there too. Then there was the smell of cosmetics. It interwove with Alex's smell. Monroe sniffed at it again. He knew that smell. He'd always know that smell.
"Mother…" He muttered.
"What?" Nick appeared before him immediately. A glare was settled upon his face already. "Your mother, your mother took Alex?!" He shouted.
Monroe settled red eyes on Nick. The Grimm didn't even flinch at the furiousness that projected from the Blutbad's eyes. He only stepped closer, grasped Monroe's shirt collar, and shook his vigorously.
"Where is she?! Where the fuck is she?!" He shouted. Monroe growled. It was supposed to be warning. Nick was breaching the boundaries that his instincts had set up. Despite being his mate, Monroe felt the urge to discipline Nick. Nick was the child bearer, the one who bore Alex. In the eyes of his instincts that made Nick the submissive, the woman, and a submissive was obedient to the dominant. Nick was not being obedient. He was being demanding and overstepping Monroe's boundaries. The Blutbad pulled away instantly. Nick looked hurt but realization flashed before his eyes as he took in Monroe's shaking form and his clenched fists. Monroe crouched over and growled with a possessive glint in his eyes. Nick, being the Grimm and his mated, stepped back instantly and bared his neck. A wave of pleasure flooded through Monroe.
"Please, Monroe… where is your mother? Where is our child?" Nick whispered. Tears were slipping down his cheeks once more. Monroe straightened up. He moved towards Nick and wrapped him in a hug before lifting his head to sniff out his mother's scent once more. Once he caught it he turned his head around to try and catch a stronger trail. His eyes landed on the far corner of their street. His mother had driven here and back. Their street was a one way.
"Mother drove here. Her scent is heading towards town." Monroe whispered. Nick detached from him immediately. The Blutbad turned around to watch his mate race into the house and then reappear with his sneakers and jacket on. One hand held Monroe's car keys and the other held his boots. Nick hurriedly unlocked the door to his Volkswagen.
"Come on, Monroe, hurry up. Alex needs us." Nick shouted once he had the car started but Monroe was still on the sidewalk. As if slapped awake, Monroe rushed into the car. Nick pulled out of the driveway before Monroe even had the door closed. The Blutbad held on tight to the handle above the door and gripped his seat as Nick abused his car. With Nick's horrendous and hazardous driving they reached town in a record of five minutes, half the time it took them originally. By the time Nick drove through town Monroe had the window down and his head sticking out. He sniffed diligently at the air. There were so many scents, so many people, and his mind was going into overdrive to sort them out. He felt the smallest sign of a headache before he caught onto his mother's smell. He inhaled it without abandon.
"What the…" Monroe muttered when he not only caught his mother's scent but three others. They were familiar. He growled.
"What?" Nick asked as he stopped at a stop light. He didn't want to. He just didn't know which way to head towards. Monroe pulled his head back in.
"Let me drive. I know where they are." He said it as a suggestion however Nick heard the command hidden underneath. Monroe's eyes were glowing red and his fangs were poking out. Nick swore he could see the hair on Monroe's skin stand. He figured it wouldn't be a good time to say no. Quietly and hurriedly they switched seats. Monroe placed the car in drive then swerved down a tight alley to his right. He turned down several suspicious looking alleyways. Nick refrained from asking. He was still panicking over the disappearance of his son. His fingers tapped impatiently on his thighs as he looked out the window. He imagined seeing Alex standing on one of the sidewalks, tired, crying, and wailing for his daddies. It would have been a better sight then what Nick figured was probably true.
Monroe's mother was someone he wanted to get along with. He wanted someone from Monroe's family to like him. They were family after all. It's natural to want family to like you. However if Audrey did kidnap Alex then Nick's going to have to take it as a breach in their peace. It hasn't been more than a day and Audrey is already giving Nick every chance he can get to prove her theory right instead of his own. He knew the chances of him acting rationally with Alex on the line. Most likely he'd act irrationally.
An abandoned warehouse came into view after Monroe maneuvered the Volkswagen out from the alleys. Nick stared at the cut chain as they ventured past the gates that were hanging open. Monroe parked the car as close to the door as possible and he got out. Immediately Monroe morphed. He growled and inhaled the air. Nick got out and headed for the trunk without question. He knew that stance. He's worked with Monroe enough years to know there was a creature inside the warehouse, most likely his mother. The trunk was transformed into Nick's portable weapon holder. They made a false bottom to store Nick's weapons out of sight. The Grimm pulled up the hard board to reveal his variety of weapons. Audrey was a Blutbad. Automatically his hands went for the battle mace. (I don't remember if it was a battle mace that Nick swung during that episode where he and Monroe were practicing in the woods… if not then we'll pretend it is.)
It was heavy on his hands. The morning star hung loosely and swung as he slammed the trunk shut and joined Monroe on his walk into the warehouse. The Blutbad walked first. He snarled at sudden noises. He shielded Nick as they ventured further into the warehouse. It was really quiet. The quietness persisted even as they reached the second floor of the warehouse. Nick's arm was falling asleep with the mace hanging off his wrist. It was heavier than he remembered. Monroe straightened his back but never relaxed.
"They're here. They're just toying with us." Monroe cut him off much to his displeasure. Nick let it go though. He looked around the empty cobweb infested room they stood in. It looked like a sewing room. Perhaps the warehouse was a clothing factory several years back when it was running. Nick shrugged it off. It was too dark to see much. He knew that Monroe had no trouble seeing but he couldn't see that well. The most he saw was bright colors and slightly distinctive shapes and objects. He sighed but never relaxed. Audrey was not a wielder Blutbad like Monroe. She will attack without abandon.
Nick raised the mace. It felt weird in his hands. He was so used to a shotgun or a simple police issued handgun. There was no trigger for him to play with. His hands weren't clutching a plastic. His hands were wrapped around wood and aged elastic tape that was wrapped around the end of the mace. His other hand gripped the morning star that hung on the thin chain. It jingled as he walked.
"Shouldn't they have attacked us by now?" Nick whispered. Monroe shook his head.
"They wouldn't attack with me by your side. I'm still family even if they don't want to." Monroe whispered back. Nick nodded then he did a double take.
"Did you just say they?" He asked with surprise. Monroe turned to him.
"Yeah I said—"Out of nowhere Monroe was tackled to the floor and Nick was pushed back. He sailed through the air and collided with a wooden bench chair. His grip on the mace loosened and it rolled away. Hurriedly Nick got back onto his feet. Immediately there were growls echoing one another. Four Blutbaden surrounded Nick and Monroe. Monroe growled back. He swiped at them and bared his teeth. Nick eyed the mace. It was out of reach. One of the Blutbaden was in the way.
"They're the ones I saw this morning." Nick announced once he got a good look at them. Monroe spared him a split second glance. He shifted back and stood straighter. The others did the same except their face held disgust.
"Aren't you going to introduce us, Eddie?" The only female said. Her long flowing brown hair bobbed as she cocked her head. She stood almost as tall as Nick but her posture was more menacing. The disturbing scent of blood lust flooded out of her. Nick tried hard not to scrunch up his nose.
"… Nick… Meet my cousins Abby, Ronnie, and Boris. You know my mother Audrey." Monroe introduced each one of them. "Family… Nick Burkhardt Monroe." Monroe emphasized his last name as a warning. A warning for what, Nick didn't know.
"Pleasure to meet you, Grimm," Abby mocked a bow with a snicker. Ronnie and Boris laughed. Nick turned to Boris. Out of them all he looked different. They all had chocolate brown hair and brown eyes. Boris had light sandy blond hair with green eyes. Not to mention his name was Boris.
"Boris, huh? What are you, Russian?" Nick asked. He didn't know why he said that. It was the worst thing to say during a hostile and possibly murderous family meeting. Boris growled.
"Yes I am." He said in a very obvious Russian accent. Nick held back his next question. He could already feel the murderous intent flooding out of Boris. Audrey stepped up.
"His background is not your concern, Grimm." She hissed.
"How is it not my concern?" Nick asked. Monroe tugged at his sleeve but Nick shook him off. He stepped forward. Abby took another step forward as well. "Monroe is my mate. He's my husband. We have a child together, who, by the way, I'd like back." Nick glared.
They may be predator by nature but Nick wasn't going to lie down and bare his neck. He was a predator by nature as well.
"I won't give Alex back to you. You're not fit to raise him." Audrey stated with confidence. Nick narrowed his eyes. He glanced at the mace, still out of reach.
"He's my child. I get to decide whether or not I'm fit to raise him, not you. Give Alex back." He demanded. Audrey matched the intensity of Nick's glare.
"No, I will not allow a Grimm to raise a Blutbad. It is proven that Alex is my grandson. In his veins runs the blood of a Blutbad. I will not let a Grimm tarnish his heritage. You will not turn him against us!"
"…" Nick really wanted to face palm the woman. This was turning from a kidnapping to some kind of cult or conspiracy. He was beginning to feel ridiculous just standing near Audrey. Her passion could rival a real conspirator's passion. The situation just turned from murderous to awkwardly stupid. Nick eyed the mace again. He needed Abby or Ronnie to move out of the way. However he knew simply asking was out of the question. They'd rather rip him to shreds then let him pass them.
Monroe stepped forward.
"Mother, I explained this last night. Nick is not that type of Grimm. He's about justice and equality." His words sounded like a politic stunt. "Nick won't turn Alex against you or anyone. We are raising him together."
"That doesn't mean anything. He has you wrapped around his disgusting murderous finger! My poor baby bewitched by that murderer!" Audrey spat angrily. Awkwardly Nick raised his hand to look at it. It didn't look murderous to him. He was a cop for God's sake. Sure, he killed several Wesen in his life but they were out of control. They were unwilling to take his offering of peace. He had no choice. It doesn't mean he's a definite murderer who murders without seeing. Audrey was bending his personality to fit what she thought a Grimm is supposed to be.
"Mother, Nick is not like that!" Monroe shouted. "I love him. Nick loves me. He would never do something like turn Alex into a murderer who can't distinguish between good and evil. Nick knows that not all Wesen are bad. He's willing to give you a chance. Why won't you give him one?" Monroe asked. Abby laughed suddenly. Everyone turned to her.
"Oh, Eddie, dear, when auntie told me about you I didn't think I'd believe it." She sighed with dark humor. "I guess there are things you have to see with your own eyes to believe it. Here I thought you'd gone crazy with the whole wielder thing. Turns out, you can get crazier than becoming wielder." A nasty smirk that was meant to degrade Monroe spread across her face. Monroe growled at her. Nick grabbed his arm. It was a warning; don't do anything rash.
"Audrey, I understand that you don't want to see me as different. However I assure you that we are teaching Alex the way of Blutbaden." Nick looked Audrey straight in the eye. "Where is my son?"
"… I won't give him to you." Audrey said. Her voice was a whisper but there was finality in it. Nick sighed.
"Audrey, by law you are family. I think of you like family. Give me back my son and I will forget this all happened." Nick offered her a peace treaty. He wasn't willing to forget this all happened. She did kidnap his son after all. However for the good of the family he was willing to swallow his pride and do what's best for all. Abby growled.
"Don't listen to him, auntie. He's just trying to fool you!" She shouted. Audrey turned to her. Conflict was reflecting on her face. Nick cocked his head. There was something not right here. The hair had shifted once again. Audrey was the dominant one a couple minutes ago but it seems dominance has been shifted over to Abby.
"… Audrey," Nick called for her attention. She turned back to him. Her eyes were wide and confusion was becoming more evident. Nick took a deep breath.
I hope I'm right. He said a silent prayer.
"This wasn't your idea was it?" He asked. Slowly he took small baby steps forward. Her eyes grew wider and she backed away. Abby's growls grew louder. She shifted and dashed to stand between Nick and Audrey. Nick smirked.
"So it was your idea." He confirmed.
"I don't know what you're talking about." She denied immediately.
"Of course you do." Nick's smirk transformed into a serious glare. "What do you have against Monroe and me? What is it that has you so hateful that you have to kidnap an innocent child? I know this is not Audrey's idea. She accepted me last night. She was sincere. However she did a complete 180 today… why?"
Abby crouched down and prepared to attack. Monroe was in front of Nick within a second. He too was shifted. Nick pushed him aside without thinking. Monroe wouldn't attack him for challenging his alpha status. They were both alphas. Monroe simple shifted his stance to stand by Nick's side; shoulder-to-shoulder. The Blutbad's eyes were trained hard onto Abby's red orbs. They challenged one another but neither moved to attack.
Nick shifted his gaze to Audrey. Her confusion was evident and she was sweating.
"Did she fill your head with ideas that a Grimm will always be a Grimm? Did she also convince you that I can't raise Alex without prejudice against Blutbaden and Wesen?" He asked. Audrey looked at Abby.
"Don't look at her. Answer for yourself." Nick commanded her. She looked back at him. "Your Abby's alpha. You're her elder. She should be obeying you not the other way around. Say it loud and clear, what you really think. Don't let her influence your judgment." Nick was completely out of line if they were talking about Blutbaden standards and status. However Nick didn't care. He was going to break this spell or illusion Abby has managed to capture Audrey in. There was definitely some kind of hatred swirling around that young girl's mind. Audrey sighed. She bowed her head then looked up. She sighed once more.
"I'm getting old." She whispered and then chuckled tiredly. "I don't have anything against you. Abby reminded me of the stories we hear about Grimms while growing up. She pointed out the negatives of you raising a Blutbad child. I connected the dots myself and decided that you weren't fit." She smiled small. Nick offered one of his small ones back.
"I'm sorry," she sighed.
"It's ok. Where is Alex?" Nick asked. Audrey pushed Abby aside. She jammed her foot into the floor to stop Audrey from pushing her but the elder growled and she shrunk back. Audrey stood before Nick.
"I'll take you to him." She said.
"Alright," Nick nodded. She turned. Robbie and Boris moved out of her way as she passed them. Nick and Monroe followed her through a loose hanging door and down a dark corridor. Near the end of the corridor was a room that had light spilling out of it. The light wobbled and danced. It was candlelight. Nick peered into the room and he smiled when he saw Alex sitting at a table with a coloring book. The boy was immersed in coloring a lion blue.
"Alex," Nick called for his son. Alex looked up. A wide smile spread across his chubby cheeks.
"Daddy," he cheered as he scrambled down from the chair and race towards Nick. Nick wrapped him in a tight hug and lifted him up. Monroe crowded them against the door and wrapped his arms around them both. Alex giggled.
"Group hug!" He shouted happily.
"Are you ok?" Nick asked him as he checked his arms and legs.
"I fine, daddy." Alex said. "Grandma gives me coloring book!" He pointed at the forgotten book.
"That's nice." Nick nodded. He turned to Audrey. She looked defeated and embarrassed. Nick handed Alex over to Monroe. The Blutbad took him without question and walked towards the table where the coloring book lay. He crouched down to peer at Alex's work. Alex was already busy in explaining what he did and why he chose that color. Monroe listened intently.
Nick approached Audrey. She looked at him with shame in her eyes. He stuck out a hand.
"Truce?" He asked. She looked shock.
"I kidnapped your child." She said.
"You did what you thought was right. You thought I was unfit to raise Alex so you took action. You wanted what was best for Alex. I respect that. It means you're maternal. Besides you raised Monroe. You can't be all that bad." Nick grinned. She laughed a little.
"Truce?" He asked again and wiggled his fingers emphasizing they should shake on it. She looked at the hand. A smile spread across her lips.
"Truce and I'm terribly sorry." She said.
"It's definitely ok. I can't wait for you to visit again." Nick replied. Her smile widened.
"You'd really have me over again?" She asked in disbelief.
"Of course, you're Monroe's mother and Alex's grandmother and my mother-in-law. You're family, why wouldn't you be welcomed to visit? I'd be hurt if you didn't." Nick chuckled.
"See mother, he's different." Monroe came up to them. Alex's coloring book was rolled up and stuffed in his jeans' pocket. Alex was balanced atop his shoulders. The toddler clutched tightly onto Monroe's hair as if he was riding a pony. The Blutbad didn't appear to mind as he bent over to exit the room.
"Let's go home. I'm tired." He said simply. Audrey and Nick laughed.
"You're always tired." Nick commented.
"Not really," Monroe muttered but didn't emphasize on the matter. The three walked back towards the exit. They bumped into Abby, Ronnie, and Boris at the door. The three had it blocked. Nick eyed them. Audrey may have accepted him but he wasn't sure about those three. They seem a lot more traditional. It was a little backwards. The older Blutbad was flexible whereas the younger ones were traditional. It was definitely weird. Abby growled. She extended her claws and moved to approach them but Ronnie and Boris grabbed her. She turned her glare towards them.
"Give it up, Abby," Ronnie said. His voice was calm and leveled.
"What!? No, I won't let a Grimm raise a Blutbad!" She hissed.
"Abby, Monroe and Audrey are already siding with him. Just give it up. It's not your fight." Boris said. She growled. Nick stepped forward. He stared her in the eyes.
"I don't know what I did or what happened but I'd like to say I'm sorry and please forgive me." He said. She spat at him.
"I'll never forgive a Grimm. All Grimms are the same. They don't deserve what you've been given." Abby didn't move to attack him. Instead she huffed, kicked a rusted empty barrel across the room, and then stormed out the door. Ronnie and Boris followed after her.
"Abby's parents were murdered viciously by a Grimm." Audrey said suddenly. "She's been holding a grudge ever since."
"I don't blame her." Nick said after a while. "I would too if I were her." He stared at her retreating back. She jerked open the door to her car and then slammed it shut with all her might. The car shook as they drove off. Nick sighed. It appears Monroe's family has a lot of drama.
A/N: Whew, I'm done! Don't fret; this isn't the end of the story. I still got a lot more to write.
The next chapter I was thinking of writing about Alex going to school for the first time. Yup, you guessed it, KINDERGARTEN! Remember your first time? ;D