This is the final chapter of It Has Begun. I hope no one's too disappointed in how things turn out! Thanks for reading and especially for reviewing!
Monroe lifted his nose into the air, sniffing twice. Renard was forcibly reminded of a bloodhound catching a scent. Sean tensed, moving a hand to his holster. If the Blutbad sensed a threat, he wanted to be ready to deal with it. The Blutbad smiled broadly, though not at Renard, at whatever his nose had identified. No threat then. Renard resumed his relaxed pose. The wesen's gaze refocused on Renard and the grin dimmed a bit.
"Nick's just down the hall, he'll be here in just a few seconds." They waited in silences, both pairs of eyes glued to the door. After about ten heartbeats Nick burst in carried a brown paper bag.
"Alright buddy, have I got a surprise for-" Nick spotted Sean, and the good humor immediately left his face. Monroe eagerly leaned forward then winced at the pain the movement cost him.
"Surprise? Please, I could smell Juliette's cooking wafting in my direction from a mile away. Please tell her how much I appreciate it." Nick's smile returned as he walked past Renard, and began unloading the contents of the bag on the Blutbad's lap. Juliette appeared to have prepared Fillet Minion with a side of buttered asparagus.
"Tell her yourself, she's dropping by to visit you tomorrow." Nick passed Monroe a cloth napkin and silver knife and fork, which Renard found slightly ironic, given the commonly held human misconception that wolf-men have an adverse reaction to the metal.
"She doesn't have to do that."
"She knows doesn't have to, she wants to. You're her hero remember?" Nick had introduced Juliette and Monroe? Renard was surprised that Nick had confided in Juliette about his Grimm work. Perhaps they were lying to her about the details of their association.
"Well, after saving me from the untold horror of hospital food, she is definitely mine. I'm sure you two have things to discuss. Why don't you go sort things out while I enjoy my delicious present?" Renard knew a dismissal when he heard it, though he was more used to issuing them then taking them. Still, he had wanted to speak with Nick privately.
"Did everything go as planned?" Nick didn't speak until he had closed Monroe's hosipal room door. Only then did he look at Renard.
"Yes. Eric is on his way back to Europe where he'll face a tribunal. He'll confirm I am in possession of the key, in exchange for my waving my right to his head. The families might make some noise about my turning over the key, but they won't press the matter until the remaining keys have been acquired." Renard specifically refrained from mentioning that only two other keys were still beyond the Families grasp.
"What happen when and if they do find the others?" The answer to that question depended largely on how quickly Sean was able to establish his power base.
"Hopefully my plans will have come to fruition before we reach that juncture. In any case the Families will no later be targeting you, or those closest to you. That was the point of our agreement, wasn't it?" Nick's gaze drifted to the door, behind which a ravenous Blutbad was no doubt ripping through a well-cooked steak.
"Yes." Nick continued to stare straight ahead at the solid metal, his mind clearly elsewhere.
"I've contained the situation at the station. The official story is that Monroe was abducted from Rosalee's shop during a robbery. The perpetrators roughed him up before releasing him and you've been taking some personal time to watch over him." Details of their joint deception seemed to awaken Nick from his minor trance.
"What about the warehouse and the bodies?" Nick was fortunate that Sean had experience dealing with these matters.
"All six guards are in pine boxes on my brother's plane. The warehouse has been sterilized. No one will ever know we were there." Eric had chosen his warehouse well. Sean had been able to get a disposal crew in and out without being witnessed by prying eyes.
"And the key?"
"Tomorrow I'll choose a bank far away from Portland, and rent a safety deposit box under a false name. There will be no paper trail." For now the key Nick had turned over was secured in a vault in his apartment. Sean had many plans concerning the exquisite object.
"Don't worry, Eric was completely fooled. The craftsmanship was extraordinary. Monroe is quite the artist." Nick's eyelids, which had been slightly drooping from exhaustion shot wide open. Sean smiled thinly, his suspicions having been proven correct. "Don't looked so shocked Nick. At after I've been at this game a lot longer than you have." Nick's ability to deceive, though better than what Renard would have expected from a soul as honest as Nick's, could yet use some refining.
"When did you know?" The truth was Renard hadn't known for certain until Nick himself confirmed the accusation. He decided Nick didn't need to know that. Once the Grimm finally consented to pledge his fidelity, Sean would be more than happy to tutor him in the art of the bluff. For now he would confine himself to explaining when he'd first experienced doubt regarding the key's authenticity.
"When you turned over the key to me. I know you well enough to know you'd only relinquish that key to someone you completely trusted. I have to hand it to you, having a forgery made showed foresight." Renard had almost dismissed his suspicions as paranoia due to the quality of the fake. He'd questioned how a police detective could have possibly manufacture such a convincing creation. Then he'd remembered Monroe was an antique clock repairman. A craftsman like that would have access to the materials and tools for delicate metal work. It was conceivable that he could have fashioned a fake key, given enough time and access to the original.
"I figured someone had already tried to coerce me to surrender it once. It stood to reason they'd try again someday."
"Smart. It appears you have more of an instinct for politics than I realized." Sean would have to be vigilant in his future dealing with Nick. He wouldn't make the same mistakes as his brother.
"You call the kidnapping and near murder of my friend 'politics'?" Nick's voice was so filled with ire, one would think that it was he who had been deceived by Renard, not the other way around.
"I merely paying you a compliment, there's no need for you to be hostile."
"Isn't there?" Renard sighed. It appeared that nothing he did would be enough to appease Nick.
"So we're back to this again are we?"
"Sorry, but I tend to hold grudges against people who come after my friends and family. You tried to kill my aunt." 'Tried' being the operative word.
"And failed. Marie Kessler died of her disease, not at my hand."
"And Hank-" Again he his action had no lasting damage. If Hank had died, that would have been one thing, but he had recovered. Also there was the fact that Renard had been forced into his course of action because he'd been trying to protect Nick. He could have easily handed the Grimm over to his cousin and spared himself a lot of trouble. Instead he'd been forced to commit double homicide and put himself on even shakier ground with the Families.
"Was in fine health the last time I saw him, as are Monroe and Juliette, both because of me, or are you choosing to overlook that?" Renard had helped Nick as much, if not more than he had hurt him, yet the transgressions appeared to be all the Grimm could see.
"Good deeds don't cancel out the bad." Renard regarded Nick for a moment. The stubborn detective arms were folded across his chest in a firm barrier between himself and the captain. His current tact was clearly getting him nowhere. It was time to try another.
"What?" Renard hid a smile as the dumbfounded detective unconsciously uncrossed his arm.
"I said you're right about me. Winston Churchill once said 'Good and great are seldom found in the same man.' I am not a good man, but I AM a great prince. " Nick's perception of the world was completely different from Renard's. If Sean could just explain his perspective, then perhaps an alliance between them wouldn't be so impossible.
"Sorry, I'm afraid I don't buy into the whole 'royalty' thing." Renard could understand Nick's instinctive resistance to Sean's title. It went against everything the citizens of this country had been taught to believe in.
"That's not surprising, given your American upbringing, but consider everything you've seen in the past year. Do you really think the Wesen are best left to their own devices? That the human justice system is enough to keep them under control? I want to establish a supplemental system of law and order for the Wesen community." Renard had his birthright, just as Nick did and they both had predetermined roles to play.
"I thought that was what Grimms were for." This was exactly Sean's point. A Grimm was the prefect vassal to enforce the laws of his canton.
"Yes, and that is why I'd like your help. Nothing would change, except that you'd be keeping me in the loop, and in return I would protect you from the Families. I'm not looking for an answer right away, just consider what I said." Renard began to retreat down the hall. He'd made a few good points and now was the time to withdraw and let them sink in.
"You're not going ask me for the real key?" Sean wouldn't waste his breathe on a question he knew would never be answered.
"No. We bought ourselves some time today, and with such a convincing replica on hand it could be years before I'd need the actual key. By then I'm hoping to have earned back your trust enough that you will give it to me of your own free will." Pushing Nick would be a mistake. Nick was a smart if stubborn man. Eventually he would see that joining Renard would help him more than hurt him. Now that he no longer needed the key so urgently, he could afford to give the Grimm the space he needed to come to the right decision.
"I won't hold my breath on that." Despite Nick's bravado, his single shoulder shrug revealed just the slightest bit of uncertainty. Sean allowed himself a crooked half smile.
"Time will tell. See you tomorrow, Nick."
As Renard strolled out to his car he considered the outcome of the past 24 hours. He hadn't achieved everything he'd set out to. His greatest failure was that he hadn't secured the actual key. His greatest success was that he had sent his brother running back to Europe where he would face serious reprimand. He had also gained political leverage, false though it may be. Finally while Nick might not yet be ready to swear an oath, Sean had made some small strides in the right direction. Sean was a patient man, and knew nothing worthwhile was acquired without effort. Tomorrow he'd worry about his next steps, but tonight he would celebrate. It had begun.