They share a beer, and make plans for the next time the Reapers show up, and try to pretend like they're both okay with what happened tonight – like it doesn't matter, it's nothing, it's over now. All's well that ends well and no damage done and all that – except that there is damage done, and Nick can't help seeing it every time he looks at Monroe's bruised face.
Brave, bold words and weak jokes pass between them, and Monroe laughs as he reaches for his second beer, raising it to his lips – but his hand is trembling a little, and he winces as the alcohol touches his split lip. He lowers the bottle back to the table, his smile fading away, and Nick hesitates just a moment before getting up and coming around the table, crouching down beside him. He doesn't think Monroe would appreciate anyone hovering just behind him right now, even if it is just Nick.
He reaches out to place a supportive hand on Monroe's shoulder, and the blutbad flinches away – then rolls his eyes at his own reaction, letting out a harsh, mirthless little laugh.
"Sorry," he whispers, shaking his head. "Sorry…"
"Hey." Nick's voice is soft, soothing. "This isn't your fault. I – I brought this on you, and – and I'm the one who should be sorry."
"It's no big deal," Monroe insists, visibly uncomfortable with Nick's sudden focus, and he rises from his chair, running an anxious hand through his hair as he puts some distance between them, turns his back. "It's not like it's the first time I've gotten the bad end of a fight…"
"But this wasn't a fight," Nick argues, following him and reaching out – then withdrawing swiftly when Monroe spins around with an instinctive snarl, eyes momentarily flashing red before they return to their normal dark brown. Nick watches him closely for a moment, understanding in his voice when he finally continues. "This was… an ambush. They took you by surprise." His voice softens with sympathy as he adds, "That's why you just about took my head off just now."
"I'm sorry," Monroe repeats, shaking his head, his arms crossed defensively over his chest. "I just… I'm a little shaken up, man, okay?" he admits at last. "I keep thinking… what if they aren't convinced they got their message across? What if they… decide to come back and finish the job?" He sinks back down into his chair with a weary sigh – and then winces with pain.
Nick frowns. "Where else are you hurt?" he asks, careful not to move behind Monroe as he comes to crouch beside his chair again.
Monroe laughs bitterly. "Where else aren't I hurt, dude?" he retorts.
"Let me see," Nick persists, reaching a hand toward Monroe's back, which seems to be the source of his discomfort.
"Don't!" Monroe snaps, jerking sideways in his chair – and then biting back a cry of pain.
"Okay, you are gonna have to just suck it up and let me see what's going on with your back," Nick says firmly, standing up. "Because it's clearly worse than you're letting on, and you obviously can't reach it. Not with your ribs all banged up like you said before."
Monroe hesitates, glaring at Nick in a resentful way that tells him he's all too close to actually winning this battle of wills.
"Come on. Take off your shirt." Nick grins up at Monroe cheekily. "I promise not to take advantage of your state of undress."
Monroe's sullen glare shifts into a grudging smile, and he rolls his eyes at Nick's unabashed cheesiness. Then his smile fades into a grimace and he replies, "Uh… that might be a problem. This… shirt taking off business. You know. Busted ribs and all." He looks away, eyes downcast with embarrassment.
"Well, then let me help you," Nick insists gently. "Though, if I'm actually undressing you, it may be a little harder to keep that promise."
He's joking, keeping the mood light – or at least he thinks he is, until he's sliding the soft flannel carefully back off of Monroe's shoulders, gathering the fabric and putting it aside. Monroe leans forward, hiding his face in his folded arms on the table, and Nick suspects that it's not just to give Nick a better view. Suddenly, all laughter has fled from his thoughts, when he sees the dark bruising at the base of Monroe's spine – layers upon layers of bruises, from multiple blows, as if his attackers deliberately focused on exactly that spot.
Nick reaches out a cautious hand, and Monroe hisses and pulls away with a sharp intake of breath.
"I didn't even touch you yet!" Nick protests. "Baby."
"You don't get it, dude," Monroe argues, voice muffled from behind his folded arms. "That's like…" He looks up, eyes narrowed on Nick for a moment before he shakes his head and lowers his head again. "Never mind."
"What?" Nick persists. "Come on, what? Tell me?"
Monroe raises his head again, sighing heavily. "I can't believe I'm telling this to a Grimm. My mom would say I deserve to lose my head. If you don't know, I'm the last person that should be telling you…"
"Telling me what?" Nick's growing a little impatient.
"That spot's like… an Achilles heel for blutbaden. It's… really sensitive, and…" Monroe looks away, swallowing hard, something dark and almost haunted in his eyes. "… it was the best way to make sure I… was down for the count. You know. Not gonna… fight back."
Nick's the one seeing red now, fist clenched at his side as his mind is filled with unbidden images of what Monroe must have gone through earlier that day. He closes his eyes, trying to shut them out, and when he opens them, Monroe is staring at him warily. His voice is guarded and a little worried.
Nick shakes his head, shakes himself out of it. The last thing the badly rattled blutbad needs right now is a Grimm getting mightily pissed off and in attack mode in the middle of his living room. He forces his surprisingly protective instincts back, putting on as much of a smile as he can muster.
"I'm sorry," he says. "I just – I wanna get these guys. Track them down. I will get them, after… after I make sure you're okay."
Monroe nods, relief and gratitude in his voice when he replies, "That would be great. I know I'll sleep a lot better once you do."
Nick nods firmly. "Okay. Now, I don't know a lot about blutbaden and medicine and stuff, but you're all into that natural healing crap, right?"
Monroe raises an eyebrow at him, vaguely offended. "Yes?" His voice is guarded, skeptical.
"So you must have something around here that's good for a bruise like that. Painkillers, ointments…"
Monroe nods toward the cabinet to Nick's left. "Right up there. Should be a light blue tube, and a bottle of pills."
Nick heads toward the cabinet. "Bandages?"
"Upstairs bathroom." Monroe watches him. "You don't have to do all this."
"Yes, I do." Nick is calm, resolved. "And you have to go to your bedroom, now, and get comfortable on the bed. On your stomach. I'm going to take care of you."
Monroe grumbles, "I don't need to be taken care of…"
"Monroe." Nick's voice is a little sharper, but still affectionate. "Go."
When he goes upstairs a few minutes later, Monroe is lying on the bed as instructed, though he's still grumbling about it, apparently less than thrilled.
"This is silly," he insists. "Nick, you should just go home. I'll be fine. All I need is a good night's rest and…"
Nick's voice is warm and affectionate. "Shut up."
Monroe sighs, apparently accepting that this is happening whether he wants it to or not, and Nick sits down carefully on the side of the bed. Monroe flinches slightly, drawing in a hiss at the first cool contact of the ointment on his bare skin – but then, slowly, begins to relax as Nick's hands run firmly over his back, rubbing in the ointment with gentle patience, taking his time to avoid further aggravating the injuries. When he's finished, he helps Monroe to sit up, and applies the same ointment to the bruised areas on his torso, over his damaged ribs, before wrapping them tightly with bandages.
He hands Monroe a couple of pills from the bottle in the kitchen, and a glass of water from the nightstand, and Monroe silently, gratefully takes them, before looking up at Nick again, speculatively. He laughs a little, wincing as the action jars his ribs, but shakes his head, smiling.
"My mom wouldn't believe this if I told her. A Grimm, in my house… patching me up instead of… you know… finishing me off."
"I guess I'm not a very good Grimm," Nick concedes with a rueful grin.
"I'd say you're the best Grimm," Monroe argues. "A… new kind of Grimm. No one would believe it – you and me, working together. Helping each other. You – actually caring." He pauses before speculating, "Who knows? This might be the beginning of something – amazing."
Nick finds his eyes focusing, unbidden, on Monroe's mouth as he speaks, his dark eyes as they flash with the hope and idealism that Nick finds so intriguing and refreshing.
"Yeah," he says softly. "Yeah… maybe it is."