"I don't want to fight with you, Monroe."

Nick sighed wearily as he walked through his front door, tossing down his keys on the table by the door and making his way toward the kitchen. Monroe followed him inside, closing the door with quite a bit more force than was strictly necessary – an unspoken message that he, apparently, did feel like fighting. Nick made his way to the kitchen, putting the bloodied mace he'd used not even an hour earlier down in the kitchen sink, with enough of a clatter to match Monroe's wordless gesture.

They were already fighting, whether he liked it or not.

"Yeah, well, it's a little late for that, man," Monroe retorted darkly, echoing Nick's thoughts. "I don't see why you can't see where I'm coming from with this…"

"I just think you should have told me, that's all," Nick insisted. "You knew about that connection for, what? Three days? And just kept it to yourself that whole time?" Nick's tone was carefully even as he rinsed the blood off his weapon, his back turned to his friend.

"I'm not obligated to tell you everything I know, every time, Nick." Monroe's voice rose, challenging and defensive. "I'm not obligated to help you at all…"

The pointed words triggered Nick's irritation again, and he slammed the now-clean mace down into the sink again, spinning around to face Monroe, glaring, unable to keep the accusation from his voice.

"A woman is dead who was alive a day and a half ago!" he snapped. "And maybe she'd still be alive if you'd just come to me…"

"And maybe Rosalee'd be dead!" Monroe shot back, voice trembling and so furious that Nick was actually surprised he didn't woge as he spoke. "In case you've forgotten, helping you doesn't always work out so well for us. You'll have to forgive me if I'd rather keep her out of this – this freak show as much as possible!"

"Freak show? Really?" Nick crossed his arms over his chest, a cool, tight smile masking the sting he felt at Monroe's words. "That's how you see this?"

"Dude." Monroe's voice softened, suddenly weary and sad. "It's not me. That's how everyone sees this – Wesen and Grimm alike. Your own mom tried to kill me before she'd even met me, and – and you've seen for yourself how the Wesen community feels about me taking your side." He was quiet for a moment, shaking his head slowly, before looking up to meet Nick's eyes again, solemn but unapologetic. "Yeah, I could have told you your suspect was Rosalee's cousin. But then what happens when you decide to bring her in for questioning, and then suddenly she's a target, too?"

"As if I'd let that happen to her," Nick protested, indignant. "I know how to be discreet, Monroe. I'd have been careful with her safety…"

"Yeah, well, my two previously cracked ribs that can now tell when a bad storm is coming, and the nightmares I still have of being locked in a cage and electrocuted tell a different story," Monroe retorted. "I'm taking a chance every day by helping you. And that's fine."He held up a silencing hand to halt Nick's protest. "I happen to believe it's worth it, and it's my life to risk, if I want to." He was quiet for a moment, slowly lowering his hand and adding softly, "But don't ask me to risk hers, too. Because I never, ever will."

Nick sighed, running a hand through his hair and letting it rest at the back of his neck, closing his eyes for a moment before meeting Monroe's gaze again. "I have never asked you to place yourself in danger. In fact, I'm the one who's always telling you to be careful. I suggested that you back off and stop helping me, and you said…"

"I get that, Nick," Monroe interrupted, frustration evident in his voice. "I have a choice, I know. But – so does she. And I'm not going to make it for her."

"She was never in any danger from anyone," Nick insisted.

"Well, I guess we'll never know, will we?" Monroe countered, quiet and resolute. "Because I kept her out of it."

"We're gonna just have to agree to disagree on this one," Nick decided at last, turning toward the fridge and taking out a couple of bottles of beer, then turning back toward his friend, extending one like a half-hearted peace offering.

Monroe eyed it dubiously for a moment, before shaking his head and waving a dismissive hand. "You know, I'm not really very thirsty. In fact, I'm feeling kind of nauseous." He turned and headed toward the door.

"Monroe – wait" Nick protested with a sigh of frustration, setting down both bottles and following Monroe down the hall. "Come on, don't be like that…"

Nick reached his front door just in time for it to slam in his face.

Frustrated and exhausted, Nick returned to the kitchen, where he morosely consumed both beers, before taking the mace from the sink and going upstairs to put it away in the spare bedroom that had become a sort of makeshift storage room for his most commonly used Grimm supplies. It was one slight convenience that had come from Juliette's moving out a couple of months earlier, the pressure of trying to recreate with him a life of which she had no memory simply becoming too much for her.

The slight convenience was by no means a fair exchange for the loneliness and loss.

Nick took out his cell phone, staring down at it and wondering if he'd given Monroe long enough to cool down yet.

Thirty minutes… probably not…

He was too tired to wait up, and too tired to maintain his defenses, so Nick took a hot shower and climbed into his big, empty bed. By the time he switched off the light, he had just about decided that Monroe had a reasonable point. Yeah, it would have helped things if he'd known about Rosalee's connection with the fuchsbau he'd ended up killing that night – a fuchsbau who'd contracted a Wesen illness much like rabies, and gone on a mindless killing spree, taking out four innocent people before all was said and done. If he'd known about the connection, he might have been able to solve the crime sooner, and might have been able to save at least one of the victims.

And as Monroe had pointed out, if the suspect had had any clue that the police – the Grimm – had questioned his cousin, then in his rage and paranoia, he very well might have gone after her.

The more he thought about it, the less Nick could blame Monroe for being unwilling to take such a risk with Rosalee's safety.

It just would be nice to think he trusted me to keep her safe – to keep them safe…

Yeah. Might be a little easier for him to do that if he didn't have so many scars already, just from being my friend in the first place.

Nick closed his eyes, trying to sleep, and reassuring himself that he would go by Monroe's house the following morning – after pilates – with his alcoholic peace offering in hand. Maybe he'd even stop by that little corner coffee shop Monroe seemed to like so much and pick up a pound of his favorite coffee. It was obscenely expensive, but Monroe knew that – that was why he rarely actually had any on hand – and that fact would only serve to make the gesture mean that much more.

Give him the night to cool down, Nick reasoned. Maybe go by and see Rosalee, reassure himself that she's okay and nothing bad actually happened… give him his space to deal with this on his own terms… then tomorrow, we'll work it out. We've been friends too long for this to put an end to it. He's upset, but we'll work it out in the morning.

Reassured, Nick finally fell asleep.

But when he went by Monroe's house the following morning, the blutbad wasn't home.

And he didn't come home.

It would be nearly a year before Nick saw his friend again – and when he did, both their lives would be irrevocably changed.