I've amended a typing fault in the summary of this story… obviously there's no such thing as "canon slash" (oops) and there was probably no need for a warning for a one-paragraph OC/Nick 'warm moment', for the previous chapter, which only exists in the mind of my OC anyway…. Oh never, mind. We live and learn.
Anyway, usual disclaimers in place, I don't own Grimm, the characters or their rabbit hutches… onwards and upwards…
X x X
"Godverdomme!" Jan staggered back and away, fluctuating in and out of Lowen.
A full Lowen, Nick realised: not just lion-esque features, but increased breadth, full mane, hands which were more animal than human. He couldn't help staring back: not just a Lowen, but a Pride King. He collected himself, realising that it must seem that he was staring his old friend down.
"It's still me, Jan. Just the same as it's still you – Lowen or not."
His steady tone worked: Jan reverted to full human and eyed him steadily. "Can you… see what I'm thinking, when you… 'see' me?"
"No. I can't." Nick felt a little weary all of a sudden, wondering if he'd ever get used to this horrified reaction. It struck him that he now had a clearer idea of how Hank felt to discover that Jarold and Carly were Coyotl: it was all very well him saying 'they're still the same people' but there was no underestimating the shock factor. He just stood for a little while, letting Jan get his head around it. Letting him get his head around Jan's secret.
His old partner gazed at him for a long time, then finally pulled his hands down his face, slightly recovered, laughing nervously. "I'm sorry. Of course it's still you. It was a shock, and I'm…jumpy."
Nick smiled. "I'm with you on the shock."
"How long have you been, um, a Gri―"
"Gentlemen," the doorman suddenly intoned, leading them away to a quieter spot with forceful arms, "If you could be kind enough not to use the G-word in public, I'd be much obliged. And goodness me, son, you still appear to be here! Even though there's an ample supply of not-here to be found over there!" He pointed firmly to the darkness beyond the club courtyard.
"I've told you – I'm not going without my friend!"
"So you're just going to stick around like a bad cold, even though he might be inside, pulling?"
Jan chuckled. "That's not very gracious. You called for help with the fainting girl, he came and helped. Maybe a little patience? You could stretch that to 'thanks', even?"
"Incidentally," Nick added, "'fainting girl' is his girlfriend, so I know he's not in there pulling."
"Her? Really? Going out with Mr I-can't-keep-my-wallet-in-my-pocket-without-a-chain? Wow." The doorman whistled. "He's really punching above his weight. Do you think he knows she's p―"
Nick stamped on the doorman's boot as Monroe finally came staggering out of the club and while the stamp might not have hurt him, he resented the pressure, making vague threats to find Nick a nice cosy hearse to go home in if he didn't actually finally piss off. The Siegbarste stomped off back to his door, pausing only to thrust Monroe's chain into his hand on the way.
Nick felt pensive about bringing up Rosie's faint with Monroe, particularly given her little revelation – to which he was sworn to secrecy. There were pack rules, which were important, and then just as importantly, the need to be honest with his friend about Rosie's weird behaviour in shooting off before he got outside. It was like being caught in a moral pincer movement.
Monroe lurched over, hiccupping. "Did you see Hank on his way out? He said to apologise, but the guys at the precinct have gone a little…"
"Floppy," Nick finished for him. "Yeah, he explained. Where the hell have you been?"
"The men's room! I swear, they designed that place for camels or some other beast with no need to pee because there were, like, three cubicles for about a thousand people, about 50 people in the queue, and most of them Lowen with wedding bladders. They took forever! I did text. Repeatedly."
Of course he would've done. Nick sighed. "My phone died."
"Again? Do we have to keep that thing alive for you? If it were a pet, the ASPCA would've been onto you a long time ago." Monroe swayed slightly and pointed vaguely upwards at Jan, who was chuckling softly to himself. "Who is the… really enormous dude? Seriously, what did you eat growing up? Concentrated cheese?"
"And steak. And bread. A weightloss dietician's nightmare." Jan offered his hand. "I'm Jan Vergeer. Nick's first partner."
"Ah – the infamous Dutchman! Oh, hang on, let's walk. I think the door guy's about to go apoplectic."
Jan grinned at Nick. "I'm infamous?"
"For being seven-foot, yes."
"Don't be daft! I'm not seven-foot. I'm 6-10."
Weirdly, Nick resented Jan contradicting his own legend. "I measured you!"
"You didn't measure me, Nick, you ambushed me with a pencil-marking exercise. At seven in the morning, while I still had biker boots on and helmet hair. And your chair was wobbling. And we both know how that nearly ended up."
"Vergeer?" Monroe scratched his head. "It's ringing a bell. Of the Zuid-Holland Vergeers?"
"That's right!" Jan looked delighted, and Nick was pleased to see some colour back in his cheeks. "And you say it with exactly the right amount of K in the―"
"Shall I leave you two to enunciate at each other?"
Monroe rolled his eyes. "I thought he might come with us, if we were being moved on."
Jan shook his head. "That would be great, and I'd love to, but I've got to get back home to my kid. This is where I leave you guys – I'll get my own cab. Good to meet you, uh…"
"Look after him, Nick. I'll be in touch."
"You'd better! No more five-year silences, ok?" Nick shook hands with Jan and steered Monroe slowly down the sidewalk towards a burger bar where he could soak up some of the alcohol. "How much did you have to drink? You were only in there half an hour – most of it queueing, by the sounds of it."
"Uh… four beers. No, three really. Hank's was an alcohol-free. Doesn't count."
Nick blinked. "Christ. No wonder you needed to pee. Um… why?"
"The round cost sixteen bucks! You got barred, Hank had to go, so I kinda… threw them down my throat, then helped myself to some asshole's beer when he was mean to his girlfriend. Right – where are we bad boys going now? We're fresh out of wesen-only options, unless you count Dan's Blutbad hangout, but we can always go be annoying somewhere normal."
Nick wanted somewhere quiet. "Let's get something to eat and just… play it by ear."
"Sounds a bit dull, but ok."
"I, uh… saw Rosalee this evening, outside the club. Hank actually took her home."
"Oh yeah, I saw her briefly – not to speak to, we just waved – she was talking to people and I was third in the queue by then, so not desperate to relinquish my position. Did she decide to make a shorter night of it?"
Nick felt a massive wave of relief as anxiety number one was swept out of the way: he just had this lurking feeling that she'd been out 'in secret'. "Yeah, she wasn't feeling too hot."
"I did hope she'd make it out with the girls. She was still dithering about whether she had enough energy for Serena's birthday when I left for work this morning. It was either gonna be 'to hell with the tummy bugs, let's shake that foxy butt,' or a night weeping at America's Biggest Loser makeover compilations. Oh, hang on… text… Serena. Wants to let me know that Rosie's gone missing. Bear with me…."
Nick came to a halt so Monroe could focus on swearing and texting to let Rosie's friend know that she was ok. Monroe at least managed to press send before he lost his drunken grip on the ancient brick and dropped it on the floor.
"Oh – hic- crap. Is it dead?"
Nick tucked it patiently into Monroe's back pocket. "For now, pretty dead, yes. It's a bit weird they ended up in the same place as us."
"Not weird at all, Nick. There's only one branch of Tennants in the whole of Oregon. Washington's a bit far for a night out, and those girls… like to let their hair down and do the bunny boogie."
"The bunny boogie? Who are they?"
Monroe grinned. "They're a bit shady, but they're great fun. Pretty raucous, actually, and I think it does Rosie some good. On the face of things, they've formed a Wine, Cheese and Book club and they take that side of things reasonably seriously."
"Don't tell me that Rosie's into it for the books?"
"Hell, no. she makes me summarise plots for her and underline all the 'ironic bits' so she can make out that she's keeping up. Anyway, behind their mild book-reading exterior, they're… kind of an underground birth control movement for their males, slipping pills in beers to make them less appealing during the mating season. They helped Rosie get your anti-pheromone tablet supply together."
Nick didn't like the sound of this. "What…kind of wesen are they, exactly?"
Monroe clapped him proudly on the back. "Someone's been studying!"
"I've been taking pills that stop….bunnies…multiplying?
"What are you complaining about? They've worked, haven't they? And they do have the selling point of coming in tablet form."
"Nick, they were good enough for your father…"
"True. It's just a bit… undignified." Understatement. "Hey," Nick nodded at Officer Sands as she trotted past them from behind, on her mobile and out of her beat clothes. She nodded briefly back at him. Nick decided to go half-and-half with the truth about Rosie's departure, but he wanted to get the difficult conversation over with. If Rosie confessed to Monroe later that she'd taken so unwell, Monroe would be upset that he hadn't told him. "Look, you know I said she wasn't feeling too hot? Well… she was in a pretty bad spot outside."
That sobered him. "How bad?"
"She threw up, then fainted."
"What? Did she hurt herself?"
Nick shook his head. "No. The doorman caught her, then I took over."
"Dude, thanks. I'll text Hank later too, thank him for dropping her off."
He broached the difficult bit. "She seemed… in a bit of a hurry to get away. I told her you'd be right out but―"
"Ah, that's probably exactly why she legged it." Monroe raked his hand down his face. "It's kinda my fault. I've been going on about this boys' night out for two weeks like Christmas is coming, or something. She probably thought – and is completely correct – that I'd instantly duck out if I knew she was sick. And I will. Sorry Nick, but…"
"That's fine. Just take her to the doctor, ok? You want to get a cab?"
"No, let's walk to the bus station. I need a little air – she won't thank me for being the loving boyfriend with serious beer-breath."
They strolled quietly for a few minutes, Monroe's gait getting a little steadier, and Nick enjoying the breeze on his face and the weight off his shoulders. Eventually, Monroe stopped hiccupping.
"How did the doorguy cope with the fainting thing? cause… he didn't really strike me as a people person."
Nick laughed: what the Siegbarste lacked in bedside manner, fair play, he made up for in thoroughness. "He did try. I mean, he'd memorised every question on the 'sudden faint' page in the first aid manual. He drove her a bit nuts. He asked if she'd eaten today, if she was aware of any illnesses, if she'd kissed a Lausenschlange lately―"
"Dude, that is not in the first aid manual." Monroe snickered. "What did she do when he asked if she was pregnant?"
Oh…landmine. "She glared at him." Nick held back the part where Rosie had then nodded, and threatened him with death if he let it slip before she told Monroe herself. "And then he skipped straight to the cardiac arrest questions and asked her if she was experiencing a sense of impending doom."
Monroe burst out laughing. "Way to go with 'calming and reassuring'! What did she say?"
"She offered him a sense of impending doom of his own."
"That's my gi―"
Monroe cut off and they froze as a man as a roar rended the air and shook the pavement. Monroe blinked. "What the hell was that? That was a serious lion—"
"Jan!" In the distance, he could see a giant form battling with three smaller ones and he sprinted, leaving Monroe in his dust but hopefully not too far behind, despite Monroe's drink levels. He pounded at the pavement, pulling away at the distance between him and his already-wounded former partner.
Two hundred yards…
They'd slammed Jan, bent double, against the side of a taxi and he damn near got caught under the wheels as the cab driver beat it with a screech of wheels. Even from this distance, Nick could see Jan could no longer hold his wesen form as he was pulled forward onto the sidewalk, crashed down on hands and knees, then kicked savagely in the side.
A hundred yards…
Nick accelerated, his chest bursting, and was hugely relieved to see reinforcements appear from the courtyard in the form of the Siegbarste, who crushed one of the assailants with a single punch. Nick tackled a second just in time to save Jan a further kick, trapping the slender thug between his weight and the ground. Klaustreich. Great. The Siegbarste had the third thug caught in a shoulder grip, but a flailing kick caught Nick on the corner of his jaw and he felt something crunch just before sliding sideways onto the concrete in a sea of white. 'His' thug took the opportunity to wriggle free and stick a boot in his gut, winding him, but before he could do any more damage, he was sent flying by ten feet by Monroe, who took the guy out with a single, wild back-hander.
With all three Klaustreich out cold and the Siegbarste tending to Jan, Nick pushed himself slowly upright – God, vertigo – and waited for his vision to re-engage. It was really blurred because Monroe… appeared to have shot up to 6-5 from his usual 6-2. And his face was full wolf: totally haired over with two-inch canines in a protruding snout. Not just a Blutbad… or maybe it was the crack on the head, because suddenly the wolf was Monroe again, gripping his shoulder with one hand and making him follow his finger with his eyes. He couldn't. It hurt.
Door guy stared up at him from where he was trying to ease Jan upright. "Christ on a bike, how are you even standing?"
"Dunno", Nick said thickly, and helped him to settle Jan so he was at least sitting up straight, on his knees so he could breathe properly, even if he had to lean on the Siegbarste to do so. "Who the hell are those guys?"
"Don't shout at him!" Wow. Door guy had become quite the guard dog, all of a sudden, even picking up bits of Jan's shattered phone and pocketing them. But Nick didn't think he had shouted. And he hadn't done 'the voice' either. "Let's save the questions till he's actually conscious shall we?"
Nick nodded and backed off, wishing his brain would start working. He was just furious at himself for leaving Jan when there was clearly something… going on. He turned his mobile back on and just enough of a sliver of battery to call despatch. He dialled, put the phone to his ear, but could barely hear the tone. Weird. He passed the phone to Monroe. "When you hear someone, just say '10-2, Tennant's Bar, send EMT and immediate backup.'"
Monroe got as far as 'Ten' and swore as the 'low battery' warning swallowed the last little bit of power left.
Nick ground his teeth in frustration, but the important stuff had gone through: his mobile number; officer needs assistance; and Hank knew where they were. He turned to the Siegbarste, who was getting Jan to his feet with an unexpected degree of care. "Thanks for your help. We'll need you as an assault witness. Your name is…?"
"Denny Miller," he muttered, and turned back to Jan. "Right, stop trying to talk and take one step – ok, no. This is a crap idea. I'm putting you down, then I'll bring the car to you. You need hospital. Now. Be right back with the keys. Just got to tell Willem where I'm going."
Jan sank back down rather than sat and Nick propped him up on his left side, realising he was trying to say something important. Monroe silently took his weight from the right.
"You've got.. to move Theo. Please."
"Where is he?"
"My wallet… get Stefan's card. He's staying with Stefan but they're not….safe…" Jan squeezed his eyes shut and breathed through a bolt of rib-pain, then fixed Nick with a red-rimmed gaze. "It's too long a story, but I had to leave my wife, urgently, and I took Theo with me. Stefan's been hiding him while we settled back in Gresham. These guys are Annalise's brothers. Well, three of them, at least. I'm in the shit, let's say. Her family wants Theo back home. He can't go. Her family are psychos, Nick."
Nick nodded, remembering his battle in the barn trying to get the force-feeder turned off before that poor Seltenvogel choked. "Is Annalise Klaustreich?"
"Half Klaus, half Lowen. It's done something to her brain chemistry. She's completely unbalanc―"
"Hey Vergeer, I notice you're leaving your part out of this happy family tale." A thin, bedraggled, walking crap of a Klaustreich emerged from the shadows and stood over Jan, who groaned quietly, like he could see this coming.
"Another brother, I presume?" Monroe asked. Jan just nodded distantly, his face buried in his hands.
Nick stood up and made himself a block between the brother and Jan. "Step off."
"No need to get in my face, man, I've just come to pass Jan a message. Before you guys get all cosy and you're ready to make a saint out of him, I thought I'd point out that being left while 38 weeks pregnant is enough to 'unbalance' anyone. You've got a baby girl, Jan: daughter's doing well, mother's in a state. Congratulations. I hope you're pleased with yourself."
It will lighten up again, folks!