"Quick, get him up," Buffy instructed tersely, snatching the key card from Nick's hand and crossing the room to swiftly open the door. "You get him out of here and up the ladder. I'll hold them off to give you a head start."
"You'll…?" Nick shook his head, frowning, even as he leaned down and tried to pull Monroe up again, something in his chest twisting painfully at the pleading whimper that escaped his friend's lips at his touch – more wounded, terrified puppy than fierce blutbad at the moment. "You don't even know how many of them there're going to be. How can you…?"
"Of the two of us in this room not currently too traumatized to move under their own power, which of us has actual superpowers?" Buffy stared him down from across the room, a single eyebrow raised in challenge. When Nick found himself without an answer, Buffy stepped out into the hallway, facing away from the exit in a long-perfected fighting stance. "Exactly. So get him out of here!" she snapped. "Now!"
"Monroe…" Nick turned his attention to his friend, crouching down beside him and pulling his arms down off the back of his head. He winced when he saw the condition of Monroe's left hand; it looked as if it'd been crushed and never set right, blood crusted around an open wound which was livid with infection. But Nick couldn't focus on that right now. Once they got Monroe to a safe place, there would be time to deal with his injuries. "Buddy, we've gotta move, okay? We need to get out of here…"
Monroe was disturbingly pliant under Nick's touch, obediently lowering his arms and rising up onto his knees when Nick tugged him up as gently as possible. "I c-can't," he whispered, a flinch following the words, as if he expected to be struck for his refusal. "Please, I… I can't walk…" His dark eyes were wide and almost panicked as they rolled toward the hallway with clear dread. "I-I'm sorry…"
"It's okay, it's not your fault," Nick assured him gently, his own voice trembling a little, despite his best efforts to control it. "Come on, I'll help you. Just… let me do the work, okay?"
Monroe frowned a little in confusion, but nodded; so Nick put one arm around Monroe's shoulders, and the other at the backs of his knees, sweeping him up into his arms, and bracing himself for the struggle to get to his feet. It was alarmingly easy, Monroe's weight far less of a burden than Nick had expected, and Nick wondered how long it had been since he'd had a decent meal. Monroe let out a frightened, stifled little cry at the unexpected loss of his footing, his good arm rising to wrap around Nick's neck and cling to him tightly. Nick could feel the trembling of Monroe's body against him, heard the hitch in his shallow, shaky breathing against his ear, and tears rose to his own eyes, though he blinked them away as swiftly as possible.
Have to get him home… can't think about it now, nothing else matters until he's safe…
"Shhh, it's okay… I've got you…" Nick soothed him softly as he hurried out the glass door of the cell, glancing past Buffy to see that two men in dark blue uniforms had just rounded the corner, and were both reaching for their weapons.
"Go!" Buffy yelled. As she spoke, she rushed the two men, kicking the gun from one's hand before spinning around to take the other down with a swift kick to the backs of his knees. "Get out of here!"
Nick didn't have time to admire her obvious skill at the moment, though he had to admit he felt a little better about leaving the fight to her, under the circumstances. He had no desire to wait around for more men with guns to show up, while he was helpless to fight back, or even to move quickly enough to get out of the way. He hurried to the end of the hall, and to the darkened alcove that held the ladder they'd descended upon their arrival.
It was there that he wondered just what in the hell he was supposed to do next.
Monroe clearly couldn't climb the ladder, and Nick couldn't climb it either with Monroe in his arms. It wasn't a very long ladder, but it was just a little taller than he was, and even as light as Monroe was at the moment, Nick wasn't strong enough to lift him all the way over his head. Just when he thought he would have to leave Monroe there for the moment and run to find Hank to help, Buffy came running up to him, and then past him, climbing the ladder in just a few swift strides.
Nick's stomach dropped as she disappeared at the top of the ladder, his heart racing with a sudden panic.
She wouldn't just leave us here, would she? Or maybe she would. How would you know? It's not like you know her…
"Come on!" Buffy's face suddenly popped back into view at the top of the ladder, as she reached down, beckoning for Nick to hurry. "Pass him up to me, quick!"
Nick pulled Monroe up as far as he could, using the ladder to help brace him, until he was high up enough that Buffy could get a hold of his arms and pull him up the rest of the way. Then Nick hurried up the ladder himself, taking a moment to catch his breath on the ground at the top.
"How'd you stop them?" he gasped out as he got to his feet. "Surely they sent more than just those two…"
"Only six more." Buffy shrugged.
"Only six?" Nick echoed, incredulous.
"Oh, there'll be more," Buffy stated darkly, glancing back down the ladder. "Let's get out of here."
With Monroe's weight carried between them, one of his arms slung across each of their shoulders, it was much quicker progress across the cemetery and to the entrance. Hank's car was parked just outside the front gate, and he got out and opened the back door when he saw them coming.
"Oh, my God," he breathed out, eyes wide, when they got close enough for him to see who was with them – and the condition he was in. "Monroe?"
"Help me get him in," Nick instructed breathlessly, and Hank moved around the car to open the other door, climbing inside to help get Monroe in and pull him across the seat. Once he was safely inside, Nick got in after him, slamming the door shut, as Buffy rushed around the car and got in on Monroe's other side, and Hank got back into the driver's seat.
"Monroe?" Nick said quietly, touching his friend's face and gently tilting his head up. "Hey, buddy, you with me? Monroe."
But Monroe kept his eyes closed, lowering his head against Nick's shoulder. Nick's heart ached at the gesture, and he tried to reach up to put his arm around his friend. When he found the motion impeded, he looked down with a little frown, and realized that Monroe's hand was clenched tightly in the soft fabric of Nick's jacket, fingers white-knuckled and trembling. Nick placed a gentle hand over Monroe's, shifting his other arm instead to wrap around his friend and hold him close.
"It's all right," he said in a soft, hushed voice. "It's okay, you're safe now…"
"N-no," Monroe whispered, shaking his head. "No, I'm not… we're not…"
"He's right," Buffy stated flatly, meeting Nick's indignant glare with a rueful grimace. "He most likely has a tracking chip somewhere under his skin. They'll find us in no time – unless we keep them from finding us. Will?"
"Done," Willow declared with a slightly smug smile. "I put a spell on Nick's house to interfere with any kind of remote electronic signals they might try to send. On the car, too. As long as he's in either place, any tracking chips, or… or other chips… won't work."
Nick frowned. "Other chips? What other kind would there be?"
Beside him, Monroe flinched, and an uneasy feeling began to settle in the pit of Nick's stomach. The look on Buffy's face certainly wasn't helping. She wouldn't quite meet his eyes, just shook her head, her voice hushed and tense.
"I'll fill you in later, okay? We don't want to talk about it right now."
Nick started to protest, but then glanced down at Monroe, who was shaking his head slightly, his trembling increased, and thought better of it.
"There'll just be like, a two-second window when we move him from the car to the house when we'll have to be really quick," Willow continued, glancing uneasily between Nick and Buffy for a moment, "but once the signal goes back online it'll take them two or three minutes to trace it, so we should be fine, as long as he's inside the house before that."
Nick was a little apprehensive about how easily Willow's magic seemed to work – but at least it did seem to work, if the spell she'd sent with them on their mission was any indication, so he supposed he'd worry about that when there actually seemed to be a reason to do so. As for now, he had more important concerns.
"Nick, man… what the hell happened to him?" Hank asked, glancing at Monroe before meeting Nick's eyes for a moment in the rearview mirror. "Has he been here in Portland all this time?"
"I don't know," Nick said softly, eyes focused on Monroe, who was desperately silent, clinging to Nick as if afraid he might disappear if he let go. "I guess so."
"He can't walk," Hank observed. "Y'all had to carry him. How bad is he hurt?"
"I don't know," Nick repeated. "But we need to find out."
Hank sighed, shaking his head as he focused his attention back onto the road. "I'm guessing a hospital's out of the question, if we're dealing with tracking chips and paramilitary organizations."
"No hospital," Buffy agreed. "They'd find him in two seconds."
"Well…" Willow amended with a little shrug.
"Two minutes. Whatever."
"Do we know a good… Wesen doctor?" Willow suggested uncertainly.
Once again, Nick's and Hank's eyes met in the rearview mirror with sudden realization.
"Oh, God," Nick whispered, then bit his lip; he didn't want to say Rosalee's name aloud, didn't want to risk upsetting Monroe any further when he was already so clearly unstable.
"We'll call her when we get to the house," Hank assured him, and the knowing look in his eyes told Nick that he was thinking very much the same thing. "She'll… need to know about this, but… she's not exactly a doctor, is she?"
"No," Nick conceded, shaking his head. "But she'll probably know some things we can do that'll help, and… with this Initiative group running around Portland snatching up Wesen and… and treating them like this… I can't think of anyone else I'd trust to keep their mouth shut if they were caught, or…" He hesitated, a new idea suddenly dawning on him. "Wait a second…"
"What?" Hank asked, frowning. "What are you thinking, Nick?"
Nick didn't respond, just maneuvered as best he could with Monroe plastered against his side until he managed to get his cell phone into his hand. He pressed the first speed dial on his keypad, wincing a little as he did so, because it wasn't exactly on speed dial because of how frequently he used it – not anymore.
The number was only still on Nick's speed dial because he hadn't had the heart to remove it yet.
Halfway through the third ring, a hesitant female voice answered. "H-hello?"
"Juliette? It's me."
She still sounded uncertain, and Nick didn't wonder why. They had finally reached the place where if they happened to run into each other in the grocery store or on the street, they could smile and say hello without it feeling too terribly awkward. Every now and then, one of them might suggest getting together for coffee and just to "catch up", but they both knew they never actually would. Juliette had not regained her memories of Nick, but he still missed her terribly; it was just too uncomfortable for them to pursue any kind of real friendship at this point.
Late night calls like this one between them were completely out of the question.
"I-I'm sorry to call like this," Nick said, sincerely apologetic. "I know it's late, and I hate to bother you, but… it's kind of… life or death. And – I really need your help."