Thanks a million, guys, for all the wonderful reviews! I'm really glad you're enjoying it. We're coming to the middle of things now, so from the next chapter onwards, I'll be using my Denny pic instead of my Jan pic :D all and any opinions on whether he looked vaguely like your mental picture would be welcome, lol, in PM or in review.
I do not own Grimm, the characters, or the skittles they eat in the middle of the night.
X x X
Hank spent an astonishingly boring half hour cross referencing the despatch call numbers with the list of cases taken up by his colleagues out in the city and narrowed all of them down as 'owned' except one: a crackly message through which could barely be heard ten-two, ten- and then it cut off. And the signal was so short they couldn't trace it back to a number. Not much he could do about that one. He straightened up, stretched, and went to get coffee. Wu and the little kid were playing shopping: or rather, the kid was playing 'hyperinflation'. Hank grinned as Wu's voice – "EIGHT BUCKS FOR A POTATO?" floated through the door of the Captain's room. Renard was at Burkhardt's desk, looking troubled. Hank was about to take advantage of the quiet moment to ask who the little guy actually was when the despatch radio went off properly, live this time, asking someone to go down to 202 Freeland to see a cabbie who'd witnessed a serious assault: three guys ganging up on another really big guy.
Hank picked up the handset. "Griffin, Portland. Why haven't they come here to report?"
The female controller's voice sounded bored. "He said weird stuff's going on. He'd rather keep an eye on stuff as a witness."
Hank blinked. "How good of him."
"Not really – one of the first things he did was tell me about how some other cabbie drove off while this assault was happening, and was kind enough to give me the plate number. I suspect he's holding his pitching spot, more than anything else."
"Ok, I'm on it." Hank clicked off and waved at Renard to show he was going out. Renard gave him a distant curt nod as he tried a few times to get a number to connect.
X x X
Renard tried Vergeer's number again, and wasn't even vaguely surprised when he got voicemail – again. He instantly recognised the voice on the message: very bass, very professional, very Dutch. They'd never crossed paths professionally, but Vergeer had a good rep: a strong team player, a strong disciplinarian (a hard combination, Renard found) and an absolute bastard to get past on the Gresham softball team, back in the day. He left a very simple message of his own: "Code blue, THV safe, Renard." And hung up.
Ok, so now he needed to call Wilson – get the lay of the land. Coffee, first. It would delay the call till just after midnight, but she always snapped at him whatever time he called, so he may as well get a little coffee inside himself first. Just the tone of her voice was enough to remind him that he was only Royalty to a select group of people. He filled his cup and watched Theo keeping Wu busy in his office. They appeared to have moved from 'shopping', to 'over-priced', to 'out of stock': Renard chuckled as Wu handed over an imaginary credit card, which Theo swiped, and then announced he was closing early, putting the card in the till.
"Dude! I need that for later!"
"You can collect it in the morning."
Renard stepped out of view before he got sucked into the game. He wasn't sure he could take Theo's innocent antagonism as gracefully as Wu.
He now slouched at Hank's desk – his chair was more comfortable – and dialled Wilson's number. She picked up on the third ring, sounding harassed."
"Captain Wilson speaking."
"It's Renard. I've got a code blue. Are you alone?"
She groaned. "Oh, shit. Alone, yeah, but let me turn on the scrambler. Hang on…"
Renard winced at the brief, shrill scream as their privacy device kicked in, then she was back on the line.
"Ok, I have five envelopes in front of me. Which am I opening?"
Renard stared. "Five? That's a lot of endangered cops in one precinct. I don't envy you."
"Well, this is where the narcotics centre is, so, hardly surprising. Who are we talking about?"
"Lieutenant Vergeer. His kid pitched up at Portland with the card."
"Oh I was so hoping you wouldn't pick his name out of the hat. The state he's in… he was a humanitarian transfer from the Utrecht Interpol office. Commander van Maarten called me a couple of weeks ago. Asked me for the whole covert-transfer shebang."
"I'm not familiar with that particular… shebang."
Wilson sighed. "A covert transfer is one where the person being moved is unaware that the receiving department is familiar with their particular situation… whatever that is. Sometimes undercover gone wrong, sometimes domestic. The idea is that they get the benefit of having the feeling of starting somewhere new."
That sounded like a shitty idea to Renard. "Wouldn't it help more to know that the receiving department has their back?"
"Well I quite agree, Sean. But that's what's written in the 'management psychology' textbook that's currently levelling the height of my office table legs. Long story short, Jan went into work, someone bumped into him in the lift and he passed out. On examination in van Maarten's office, he'd clearly been worked over, so he had a pretty frank conversation with his Commander about the urgent need to get him and his son out of the country. Hence the transfer here. But as far as he knows, I've swallowed the story of him getting mugged a couple of days before due to fly." She took a deep breath. "I saw his reflection for a split second while I was passing the men's room on the day he came into report. He was not 'mugged'."
Renard winced. "Sounds severe. How did he get on a plane in that state? Particularly if he had a kid with him?"
"That's part of the whole humanitarian transfer deal: discreet contact with border staff at Schipol airport, Jan being told that he can only fly if he consents to being picked up by EMT and Police at Portland International, you get the idea."
"And that was… how long ago?"
"He checked in… eight days ago."
"How come he's working already?"
"Light duties only, Sean. Surveillance. He has to feed his kid on something."
Renard nearly barked with laughter at the idea of the enormous Dutchman being on surveillance. "Vergeer's about seven feet tall! How can a perp fail to spot him?"
"He is amazingly good at stalking. I don't know how. But I had to throw him a bone, 'cause his attendance record came through pretty quickly and he was off work nearly two months earlier in the year after a pretty bad fall down some stairs. You know how the sickness absence policy works. It's a blunt instrument and coshes the good cops as well as the bad ones. Anyway – will you hang on, Sean? There's envelopes inside envelopes, here."
Renard grunted understanding. Burkhardt had been laid up in the ED more than a few times in circumstances completely beyond his control, and was coming damn close to breaching his own trigger point for a disciplinary warning. He absolutely dreaded dragging one of his favourite officers through the red-tape nightmare of written warnings, but it would have to be done to keep Nick's secret safe from his colleagues and give some impression of parity of treatment. There were only so many times he could waive the spoken warning on the grounds of exemplary conduct in duty. Unfortunately there was no 'Grimm injury' allowance in the Oregon State PD sickness policy.
Wilson came back on the line. "Uh… more about that 'accident' on the stairs. Let me just skim….. ok. So, it became apparent earlier in the year that Jan was related by marriage to key suspects in an organisation thought to be shipping 'suspect chemical combinations'."
J, Renard thought immediately.
"He wasn't even working the case, but rules are rules: Commander van Maarten suspended him temporarily, pending investigation, but they had a good tip-off from another source and there was a successful bust in Delft with a lot of the substance reclaimed, although no suspects were taken. Jan was internally cleared and reinstated, but he didn't show up for duties. Maarten made some calls, and located Jan in the trauma unit at Utrecht South. He'd been found out cold at the bottom of the rear steps at Utrecht Centraal and…. Eee, this isn't nice. A four-day coma and multiple fractures.
Renard felt there was something wrong with this picture. Out cold for four days, broke several things and back at work two months later? No one worried about their sick leave that much. He scoured his mind for all known wesen with conspicuous powers of recovery.
"Unfortunately, while Van Maarten was convinced that the Hildegaard brothers were involved in some kind of revenge attack, assuming Jan to be the 'source', Jan couldn't remember anything and there was no CCTV proof. Oh, hang on, there's a forensic examiner's report in here."
Renard waited while she rustled.
"Oh Lord!" There were muffled sounds, the urgent slurp of drink. "Sorry, that actually made me feel sick. Yeah, the forensic report adds to the picture in a really unpleasant way. Jan did go down the stairs, but he had significant defensive wounds, and marks round his wrists 'inconsistent with an accidental fall'. Sean, he went down the stairs with his hands cuffed behind his back. Ok, so he's tough, but how does anyone actually survive that?"
Mentally, Renard had narrowed down the field of wesen to four: Siegbarste; Jagerbar; Koninglowen or Grimm. "I have no idea. So we're talking about attempted murder, if his assailants are ever found. But you said they were… family? How could he stay there and take that shit?"
"I don't know. Maybe he was trying to escape 'that shit' when they caught up with him. He probably wasn't strong enough to try again for a while, and he would've wanted to be around to protect his son. Dutch law is really hot on family, Sean. If you're in a high-risk profession, you cannot have sole custody of a child unless you have a really strong, local support network – and I'm talking 'granny-lives-next-door', here. I'm guessing Jan didn't have that."
Koninglowen, then, Renard thought. It was all very well having the strength and the comparative invulnerability of a Pride King, but that only came into effect if you actually had a pride. Domestic violence isolates you, whether it's from your partner or your partner's family. He cleared the mental image of Vergeer crashing helplessly down the stairs from his head and got back to practicalities. "Could you call van Maarten in the morning? I want to know more about the Hildegaards. Would they have the resources to follow him here that quickly?"
"Well I can answer that for you – yes. They're a massive network. They probably had people over here ready to take Jan down as soon as he arrived. Oh fuck, I've just thought—"
"Southlands raid?" Renard cleared his throat. "That occurred to me too. I hope they're not suspecting him of being the informant to set up the stakeout. He might turn up d—"
"Don't you dare finish that sentence, Sean Renard," she barked, back to usual. "I'll call van Maarten in the morning anyway. Give me a ring back if you need info or resources."
Renard thanked her and rung off. First thing he did was recall a few uniforms to the precinct as back-up for Wu, then got onto the business of tracking Vergeer's last calls, if any, into the despatch service. It might give some idea of where he was last. Renard looked wistfully at Jan's mini-me, still playing with Wu, but looking a little less certain of himself now. At some point, they'd have to find the little guy somewhere to sleep.
X x X
Monroe prised himself out of his folded chair and went to get another bottle of water from the oddly-stocked cupboard. Denny had promised progressive 'shite' feelings and, whatever they were, he was pretty sure he was developing them. The heat pack worked nicely on the welt on his lower back – it was no longer throbbing so wildly – but he felt… poisoned. Overly warm. Nauseous.
Things had gone quiet for a little bit, everyone avoiding the great big elephant in the room called 'what the hell happened to Jan?' Nick had tried again with raising the subject, asking how he stuck that kind of violence for so long, but Jan had simply said 'Nick, no' in a quiet voice that brooked no argument. It gave Monroe an indication of how formidable he probably was when things were going better for him. Jan had laid back on the floor, propped up with one of the bags of polystyrene peanuts, and poking absently at a couple of Denny's potplants from the window. They had a strange smell, even from where Monroe was standing. It was familiar, but he couldn't place it. Still, whatever worked: every time Jan sniffed one, he looked vaguely calmer. Maybe he was just green-fingered. Denny had lit another damn cigarette, but apart from a weird exchange with Jan: "Would you like to cuddle all my pot plants?" "Yes please, it's soothing", he'd busied himself trying to reverse the engine on the extractor fan to get some air into the room. Eventually he pushed a badly-mortared brick out into the street, reached the side-switch and got some breeze coming in. He swore quietly as he retrieved grazed knuckles from the hole.
Monroe felt that it would be a good time to have 'that' conversation with Nick. He'd simply explain that he was still the same old Monroe (he'd get that); that he'd only ever half-shifted because to do the full thing after his first semi-woge had scared the crap out of Nick seemed a bit… awkward; and that it wasn't the easiest thing to drop into the conversation after the first few months had gone by. But really, it was no more nefarious in intention than that awkward conversation with someone you've gotten to know well to chat to, but never quite caught their name. It was just difficult to ask someone's name after a year. In the same way, it was just difficult to find the right moment to say: 'Hey, Nick, while you're being all trusting, you do know that I am, deep-down, a Bavarian Alpha blutbad and therefore a barely-constrained psychopath, don't you?' Denny was right – wieder Alphas were unheard of. For good reason. His control was slipping: getting enraged by melancholy bison taking up his space at home; getting drunk, getting enraged, letting the full wolf out… hell, great, now he was scaring himself out of talking to Nick.
"Uh Nick, there's been something I've been meaning to talk to you about…. Nick?"
His friend's eyes were closed, he was pale, and his head had dropped over the back of the triangular squashy thing that was holding him mostly on a slope.
"Nick! You ok?"
Monroe grabbed a spare bag of polystyrene peanuts, chucked it behind the wedge, and lifted Nick's head onto it to at least give his neck some support. "Nick?"
Denny was next to him, suddenly, peering closely at Nick's flickering eyes. "Oi mate, c'mon." He gave Nick's cheek a 'light' pat that reminded Monroe of Hilde's nursing skills.
Nick grabbed his face. "OW! Crap! What did I do to deserve that?"
"We thought you'd passed out!"
"I was snoozing."
"No you weren't," Jan muttered from behind. "You don't snooze."
Monroe nodded. "He's right. You're either AWAKE! Like now, or out like a log soaked in laudanum. There's no snoozing with you. The only time you're drowsy, is when you've been put out."
Denny grunted agreement. "And given you've had a colossal kick in the head and probably have a significant concussion, we'd rather no more 'snoozing', ok?"
Monroe was suddenly intrigued: he'd assumed that Nick's cataleptic sleep patterns were a 'Grimm' thing rather than a Nick thing. He turned back to Jan. "So he's always been like this?"
"Hello! I'm down here! I can hear some of what you're saying!"
Jan chuckled distantly. "When he was a rookie, he once fell asleep at his desk and would not be roused. I was despairing into my forearms and just wondering whether I should call 911, or see what happened if I fired him out of a cannon. When I looked up, he was sitting there….typing."
Denny went over to his desk and rummaged through a drawer. He found a small box and popped a couple of tablets out for Nick. "Naproxen. Should help with the headache."
Denny then looked at Monroe, then Jan and popped out four more with a big sigh. "You're flaming clearing me out, you lot."
They passed round water, took their painkillers.
"How're you feeling?" Denny eventually asked Nick.
"Not…Herculean." He struggled to keep his eyes open, which Monroe found disturbing. "I don't get it – I hardly had any of the anti-strength gunge so I should be strong, but…. Why do I feel like I've been hit by a truck?"
"Your ear drum's gone, mate. It's going to play merry kinds of havoc with your balance, for starters."
"Even so…" Nick tried and failed to sit up. "I'm supposed to have a high pain threshold."
"You do," Monroe assured, "or, believe me, it'd be puke city round here. I had a perforated eardrum after an infection when I was a teenager and man it was dire! It almost competed with the time I nearly lost my nuts."
Denny frowned. "Let's not have that story, eh? Look, transitioning or not, Nick, you're strong, but not immortal. Maybe there's something of 'The Hulk' about you."
Nick opened one bleary eye. "I only burst out of my clothes between Christmas and New Year."
Monroe grinned. "I think he's talking about the fight-flight element of the Hulk. He only goes green and unreasonable when he's hurt, angry or stressed. Maybe… that's sort of what happens to you. Like your Dad said. You save your temper for when you really need it."
"Thing is… I'm not actually aware of losing my temper – well, only occasionally. I definitely lost my rag when that little shit punched Jan in the back, but otherwise things carry on pretty much as normal, I carry on doing whatever I'm doing in the moment, and then I get this great second wind and things just get…. Easier. And sometimes the voice even kicks in."
Jan coughed, groaned, cleared his throat. "The voice?"
"Nick's 'Grimm' voice is breaking."
"Sounds as fun as Siegbarste puberty. Should we now be expecting growth spurts, acne and wet dreams?"
Nick sighed. "You were doing so well on the 'nice' front until then."
"Siegbarste, remember? I'm not trying to be nice."
"I remember you saying you weren't a complete ogre…"
"Turn of phrase. Figure of speech. That's all."
Monroe could've sworn he saw Denny flush. "I've been wondering about that, you know. I mean, clearly you're mostly Siegbarste. You're strong, you're…abrasive, you keep about 200 sticks of deodorant in your cupboard – for which we're all profoundly grateful, by the way. On the other hand, you're…. smart, you're self-conscious enough to buy 200 sticks of deodorant, and you keep painkillers in your draw. So what gives?"
"Fine. I'm half human, alright?" Denny folded his arms and glowered at them, making Jan chuckle from the back wall.
"Why are you so defensive about this?"
"I have… a history with the verrat. Being Gemischt – mixed – wesen is NOT something I disclose easily. I don't appreciate being an endangered, rare species. But since it's you lot and we're in a closed room…." Denny sighed. "Look, I'm a simple creature. I like knowing what I am. This half-and-half business… it's a bugger."
Monroe found himself slightly warming to the human in Denny. Growing up as a bookworm teenager in a family physically designed to be murderous had been no picnic either. He was like the black sheep of the Bavarian Monroes – the terrors of the Bundesrepublik – scattering Maushertzen in the street, taking it in turns to bury the bodies, roaring at the moon at midnight, even when the rain was being thrown down in buckets. All he'd ever wanted to do was play violin, pass his Baccalaureate, and go live somewhere a bit more peaceful.
Nick smiled at Denny. "So which parent was human?"
"My mum was a professor at King's College, Cambridge University. That's Ivy-League to you lot. My dad was the navvy helping to extend her study room and move all her special work equipment in, her readers, braille scanners, tape machines and so on. She was lonely and friendly, he was probably horny, and the rest, as they say, is history."
"Are they still around?" Jan asked.
"I'm only 37. They haven't passed away from ancientness, no. They're even still together, in between Dad's various spells in Her Majesty's Prisons." He cleared his throat. "Can I just ask… what was it, exactly, that gave me away as a not-quite Siegbarste? Clearly it's something I've got to work on."
"The way you talk!" replied Monroe, Jan and Nick – pretty much at the same time with fractional underlapping, and Denny managed a reluctant smile.
"Sod it. Never could keep my gob shut."
"If it helps," Jan said, "We have a word in Dutch for you. Schlaubaast."
Denny unexpectedly burst out laughing and mimed a clip upside Jan's head: Jan good-naturedly faked a 'duck'. Monroe and Nick shared a 'what'? look: Nick provided the "what?"
"Schlaubaast – clever bastard. I think I'll actually adopt that. Thank you. Ok, so we're quite the federation of rare species here, aren't we? We have a friendly Grimm, a Schlaubaast, a gay lion king—"
"What? I'm not g—"
A hammering at the door cut him off: he shrank against the wall as the pounding continued. Denny strode over and hunkered down next to him. Then they heard Gerard's voice: Monroe snarled. Nick hadn't thrown the piece of crap into the wall quite hard enough. His moral compass was still quite finely tuned, it seemed. Nick was slowly getting to his feet, clinging onto the wall, but looking furious.
"YOU WILL GIVE US VERGEER!"
Monroe was unimpressed. "Where's he from? The Steven Seagal school of baddies?"
"There's a lot of us, and four of you. We will get through this door. Give us Vergeer now, and the rest of you will be fine."
"FUCK OFF!" Denny yelled back conversationally, then turned to Jan, hands on shoulders. "Look, I've got a plan, but it involves getting you close to the door. Do you trust me?"
There was only the briefest of pauses. "Yes."
"I'll need you all on your feet," Denny said quietly. "Whatever I do, just roll with it. Ok?" Monroe noted that he particularly appeared to be meeting Nick's eyes now, like he was looking for permission to get them through the next few minutes.
Nick grinned at him. "Hey, you're temporary Grimm, aren't you?"
"Right mates, once more unto the breach, and all that…." Denny shifted, roared, and the 'Federation' got to their feet.