Some part of his mind wonders how they did it – how they managed to get his unlisted number, to somehow hack into his internet account and bring up this vile video, unbidden, onto his screen, at their own will, through no actions of his own.

Mostly, he knows it doesn't matter – not when he's seeing this horror show play out before his eyes – this very real, moment-by-moment horror show starring his best friend and lover, taking place as he watches, helplessly, unable to stop it, or even to know where it's happening. Nick watches, frustrated, helpless panic rising up in him as the faceless, hooded figure on the screen lashes out, striking a brutal blow with the butt of his gun across the face of the figure in the chair.

Monroe… no, this can't be… just stop it!

He wants to scream at the figure tormenting the bound blutbad, his head bowed, his breath ragged and audible with exhausted agony, but he knows they can't hear him. Can't see him. No, that privilege is his and his alone. All he can do is watch as the nameless, masked tormentor continues to viciously abuse Monroe, who looks as if he's already taken a hell of a beating, and then some. His face, his bare chest, are streaked with blood, darkly bruised in places.

His captor abruptly presses the gun to his temple, the loud click of the chamber making Nick's stomach drop, his hands clenching around his phone so tightly that he's afraid he'll break it. Maybe he wants to break it. He definitely doesn't want to just watch while this happens.

"Go ahead," the harsh, distorted voice on the video says, taunting as he presses the gun harder to Monroe's head, and Monroe flinches a little, biting back a cry of pain. "Say goodbye. Your lover is listening."

Monroe stares up at the camera, and Nick can see the horror dawning in his eyes, realizes he didn't know that until just now. He shakes his head a little, looking away with shame that shouldn't be there on his face. Nick's heart breaks just a little more, because why should Monroe shoulder any of the blame for this? This is his fault. He's the one they're after, the one they want to hurt.

Turns out, they knew just the perfect way to do it.

"Come on," the masked figure persists with undisguised disgust in his voice, striking Monroe in the head with the gun again. "Tell the Grimm how much you love him. Voice your unnatural, perverted affection for him one last time before we take pity on you and end your wretched existence."

Monroe doesn't respond, though he's visibly trembling. Nick wonders briefly why he doesn't woge, why he doesn't rage and fight. His stomach clenches when he realizes… that must have come earlier.

Monroe seems to have no fight left.

"Or, you can die, without telling him. Your choice. This small mercy won't be extended for long."

Monroe looks up, tears in his dark eyes, mouth trembling as he struggles to form words. "Nick, I… I'm sorry," he whispers, words breaking as his shoulders shake. "I – I should have… been more careful, but… this isn't your fault, man, okay? I – I could have stopped anytime. We both… kn-know that. I… I love you…"

His voice drops off, and he lowers his head, trying and failing to maintain some semblance of control. The masked man pressed the gun harder against his head, cold and vicious as he snarls, "Say goodbye."

Monroe shakes his head, unwilling, but the man hits him again with the weapon, raising his voice and demanding, "Goodbye! Say it!"

Nick stares helplessly, tears streaking his face, as Monroe struggles to obey, the required word visible on his lips, but not audible at all.

"G-goodbye…"

"No!" Nick cries out as the screen goes abruptly black, a loud crack of gunfire accompanying the suddenly blank screen.

He stands there in shock, the phone falling to the floor, his legs trembling as he struggles to make his way to the door. He has to get busy, has to do the work before him, because he has to do anything but think about what's just happened. There wasn't time to save Monroe, wasn't time to find him, even.

But he'll find them now… and he'll make them pay.

He arms himself and opens the door to leave… and nearly trips over the still bundle lying on his porch. He turns the light on, looks down to see what it is – and freezes, heart racing with mingled horror and hope at the sight of Monroe. He's battered, bloodied, still and silent, on Nick's front porch – but there's no gunshot wound where it should have been, if – if what he'd seen on that video feed… or… or hadn't seen...

Nick crouches down swiftly, holding two fingers to Monroe's throat… and sobbing with relief when he feels a pulse, rapid and weak, but there. He's about to put his arms around his blutbad, to bring him into the house where it's warm and bright and safe, when he notices a crumpled piece of paper tucked into the pocket of his blood-stained, torn flannel shirt. Nick takes it out with shaking hands, reading it swiftly… and feeling his blood run cold.

It reads simply, Next time, we do this for real.