Notes: Starts off several weeks after Change of Atmosphere ended. If you haven't read that one…this will probably confused you.
I was halfway through the first chapter when Leave It to Beavers came on (yes, that tells you how slow a writer I am) and I was giggling uncontrollably because they were having dinner! Together! With Juliette. I decided not to change this chapter anyway since this meal is in no way as awkward as that one and sets up some very important things for later chapters.
Once I AU'd how Nick and Monroe met I figured I'd just AU it all. And I'm trying to work in a couple episodes to give it some sort of timeline. And I just can't stop the Nick whump.
Warnings: Eventual violence, sarcasm, swearing, Nick whump. No slash.
It took four rings for him to find and retrieve his phone off the kitchen counter where he'd left it that morning after a long talk with a potential new client. "Monroe."
"Do you like football?"
"Hello to you too, Nick. How have you been?"
"Fooootbaaaall," Nick drawled. "American game. Comes on TV from time to time."
"I know what it is," Monroe snapped peevishly then sighed and gave in. In the weeks he'd known Nick he'd learned that he might as well go along with the crazy and save himself the headache. "Why do you ask?"
"Juliette and I are inviting you over for dinner. If you come over on Sunday we can watch the game too." He paused and Monroe could hear Hank's voice in the background talking to someone else about the likelihood of getting a fingerprint ID back in less than a week. "So, back my question. Do. You. Like. Football."
Monroe admitted, "I've been known to watch it."
"Good. Sunday at three. Game starts at three-thirty."
"I love how you assume I have nothing else planned."
Nick huffed a laugh. "Do you have something else planned?"
"I could," he said defensively. Did actually, but it would be over by noon.
"See you on Sunday, Monroe," Nick said brightly.
"Wait, wait, wait. Tell me what happened with the case."
"I'm sorry, sir," Nick began in a serious tone, "it's against regulations to reveal details of an ongoing investigation—"
Oh my God, the man was evil. "Would you just tell me already!"
Nick paused dramatically. "It wasn't the Geiger kid."
"Of course it wasn't!" Monroe said gleefully. "I knew it all along."
"You were blinded by his talent," Nick disagreed. "You think that anyone who plays beautiful music can't be a killer."
"Ha. Totally not true. Good musicians are full of emotion. You need passion to play well and angst. Two things that lead to murder all the time. And by murder I mean spontaneous crimes of passion; not pre-meditated death by rat. Yech."
"Pretty much," Nick agreed wholeheartedly. "I'll see you Sunday."
By Thursday Monroe was wishing he had said no. No, no, very busy, thanks anyway. By Friday he'd talked himself into calling Nick to beg off.
"Oh hey I'm glad you called," Nick said before he could get a word out. "Juliette wanted to talk to you about the menu. Here she is."
"What? No, I—"
"Hello," Juliette said. "I've never made an all vegetarian meal so I wanted to run some recipes by you. Are you a red meat vegi or all meats? Can you get pictures on your phone?"
"Okay, I'm sending the recipes to you right…now."
On Saturday he made sure he picked up a bottle of wine that would go well with the recipes he and Juliette had chosen and a six pack of his favorite microbrew because he was determined to get Nick off that stuff the other cops had gotten him hooked on. Also, he thought he might need the alcohol to make it through this.
After some introspection he decided that it might be going back to the Grimm's house. Home territory as it were. He'd helped Nick out on one current case and three old ones his boss had dug up to keep him busy while his partner was taking a couple weeks off for family business, but he'd never gone back to Nick's house. Mostly it had amounted to Nick coming by with sketches of whatever he'd seen for Monroe to identify or just listening while Monroe tried to describe various wesen and their habits.
It wasn't the most ideal system but they were making it work.
By Sunday he was certain dinner at the Burkhardt/Silverton household was the worst idea in the history of worst ideas. A blutbad, a Grimm, and whatever Juliette was in this equation. Normal, maybe. Whatever, it added up to…the beginning of a really bad knock-knock joke. He should just call and cancel.
At 2:55pm he rang the bell, chilled wine and beer tucked in his largest insulated tote.
Nick opened the door. His hair was very tidy today, had been since Juliette had come back from her mothers, but he'd forgotten his shoes. "Hey, you made it. Come on in." He shifted aside to let Monroe in. "Are those for me?" he asked with a grin.
"No. This is for you." He handed over the tote. "The flowers are for your girlfriend."
"Fiancé," Nick corrected automatically and out came that proud little smile he got every time he said it. "Speaking of…."
"Hey, I thought I heard the door."
Wow, redhead. Was not expecting that.
"Juliette, this is Monroe. Monroe, Juliette"
"Hi," Monroe stuttered. "Hello. Um, here." He sort of thrust the flowers at her.
"Ohhhh, they're lovely. Thank you. It's nice to finally meet you in person."
She held out her hand and he shook it. She had very small hands. He was terrified he was going to break her.
"Monroe brought me flowers," she teased Nick as they made their way to the kitchen.
"He brought me beer," Nick countered, peering into the tote. He pulled out a bottle. "Very fancy beer in very fancy bottles."
"I belong to a co-op," Monroe told him. "And they're for everyone. I'm not promoting a drunk…uh, cop."
Nick grinned, tactfully ignored the near slip. "There are beer co-ops?" He set the wine in the fridge and offered the beer around before putting away the rest. "How have I not heard about this?"
"Oh yeah, I remember reading something about them. It was in the newspaper." Juliette pulled a vase down, standing on her toes to reach into the back of the cupboard.
"I used to have time to read the newspaper," Nick said, faux-mournful, "back when I thought I was insane and didn't have a job. You need any help before I abandon you?" he asked Juliette, hand coming up to touch the small of her back.
"I'm just about done." She pulled a veggie tray out of the fridge, handing it to Nick. "Go entertain your guest. I'll be there in a minute."
"Come on, Monroe." He put the veggies on the coffee table next to a selection of chips and dips. The TV was already on, volume low as the announcers went through their usual spiel. "You want a tour? Pre-game is going to be another half hour at least."
"Sure. I see you finally got the wall painted."
"Two coats of primer. You would not believe how hard it is to cover black Sharpie."
Barefoot, Nick lost a few more inches, his head coming up to Monroe's chin. The slashes and scrapes from that night at the mailman's cabin were nothing more than faint scars now but Monroe still wanted to check him over every time he saw him. It didn't help that Nick had a habit of accumulating bumps and bruises and paper cuts in his every day job. Rarely did he come by Monroe's house without some new injury.
"I can proudly say that I've never had to paint over Sharpie on my walls. What's with all the stuff?" The big dining table was covered in boxes and papers, photo albums and a shoe box full of baby clothes. "You're not solving crime without me, are you?" he asked suspiciously.
"I've been going through boxes." Nick leaned on a chair, gazing over the various stacks. "Things from my parent's house. When they died my social worker had it all packed up and put in storage. I haven't been through most of it since I turned eighteen."
"How much is there?"
Nick sighed. "About twenty boxes. A lot of it is clothes and household stuff. I think the only thing they didn't save was the furniture."
"Wow, that's really cool."
"It is," Nick said with a fond smile. "There's a lot of things in there I'd forgotten about." He pulled a softball-sized glass fishing float out of an open box. "We moved here when I was twelve. I was so pissed about leaving my friends and my school my parents took me to the coast as a shameless bribe for household peace and harmony," he grinned and turned the float over, "and it worked. Dad took us to one of those glass blowing classes you see signs for everywhere. Mom and I failed completely but Dad made this one. Every summer after that we would go a couple times, different town each time, all up and down the coast, and we would come home with one of these for each trip."
"Oh, wow, you have a red one." Monroe reached for it but pulled back before he actually touched. "Red and cranberry are the rarest."
"Mom found that one on the beach when I was fifteen," Nick said. "You can pick it up if you want."
Oh, he wanted to. Gently he lifted it out of the packing peanuts and bubble wrap. "Green is the most common color because so many were made in Japan from old nihonshu bottles. That's sake to you and me. Reds are highly prized because they were often colored with real gold." He turned the float over with the utmost care. "And see the FF here. The stylized letters mean it's one of the later versions but this mark is one of the most sought after by collectors. You should get those appraised and add them to your homeowner's insurance."
"You know a lot about fishing floats," Nick said.
Monroe recognized that bright look in his eyes. Damned Grimm was laughing at him. "We live two hours from the coast. How do you not know this?"
Nick shrugged and put down the float he was holding. "I can tell you a lot of things about guns and sports and cars. Antique fishing floats, not so much."
"You should put these out, they're beautiful." Monroe gently, gently replaced the float.
"Maybe," Nick said softly. He ran a hand over the curve of red glass.
"I thought Monroe was getting a tour," Juliette said, poking her head in the room. "Hey, are you going to put those out? You should set them up in the bedroom. They'll be safer up there."
"You don't mind?" Nick asked.
"Of course not. Put out anything you want." She started to withdraw into the kitchen then paused. "Except that chartreuse shag bathroom rug I saw in there," she added. "That thing is just hideous."
Nick laughed. "Hey, that rug could hold beloved memories for me."
"Then we wouldn't want our dirty feet on it would we." She shot Nick a saucy look and disappeared.
"I like her. She's spunky."
Nick gave him a stern look. "No licking the fiancé."
Monroe pointed an offended finger. "Hey, the licking was a one-time stress response to a traumatic event because I was worried about your health."
"You did it twice."
"I can't believe you're bringing that up. Not cool, dude."
"Whatever. I got over it and so can you. Come on I'll show you the upstairs." Nick picked up the box and led the way. "And who says spunky anymore?"
He knew Nick didn't have a clue what kinds of things it did to a blutbad to be invited into a potential predator's territory and then invited to explore. He saw the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the backyard, and gradually the knot that had gripped his gut since Thursday eased under the gentle patter of small talk. Nick was good at conversation, made it easy.
"It's big for just the two of us," Nick said as they headed back down the stairs. "But we got an amazing deal and who knows someday we may need the room."
Juliette was on the couch when they got back, beer in hand, feet tucked up. "Get the grand tour?"
"You have a great house," Monroe told her. "It's got character."
"Too much sometimes," Nick said with a smile. "We've had to redo half the wiring. Luckily Juliette's brother does construction. He gives us the family discount." He dropped onto the couch next to Juliette, reaching for a chip.
By half time Monroe had relaxed enough he was looking forward to the veggie lasagna he'd been smelling for the last forty minutes. It helped that Nick and Juliette were trying a little too hard to make him feel welcome. He liked knowing he wasn't the only one who was nervous.
"It's an experiment," Nick warned, retrieving the pan from the oven, sliding it onto a trivet in the middle of the kitchen table. "We've never tried this recipe before." He tugged off the matching set of monkey potholders making a face when Monroe gave him an amused look because, really, monkeys.
"They were a gift," Nick said defensively, tucking the potholders into a drawer.
"Aw, don't let him pick on you, hon." Juliette kissed his cheek as she walked by with a bag of croutons. "I love your monkeys."
"That," Nick pointed a finger at Monroe, "is not a euphemism."
Monroe held up both hands. "I was just thinking that it must have been your keen fashion sense that first attracted Juliette."
"The lasagna smells great," Monroe changed the subject and Juliette smiled at him behind Nick's back. It felt weird sitting while the two of them fussed over drinks and napkins and the green salad. Weird, but nice.
He was halfway through a plate of what turned out to be very good lasagna when Juliette delicately wiped her mouth with her napkin and said, "So Nick told me that you're a…blutbad? Am I saying that right?"
Monroe swallowed hard. "Um, yes, blutbad." He glared at Nick who was forking up lasagna with a butter wouldn't melt in my mouth look. A little warning would have been nice.
"It's my fault," Juliette said. "I forced it out of him."
"It's true," Nick said earnestly. "The city ought to hire her to interrogate suspects."
"I just know which buttons to push," Juliette said with a sly smile.
Nick protested, "I was on pain medication. Heavy duty narcotics. For terrible, debilitating injuries received while rescuing small children. "
Juliette patted his hand consolingly. "Sure you were, honey."
"Hey, Monroe was there. He can vouch for my debilitating injuries."
Monroe put down his wine glass. "Well, I wouldn't say debilitating. It was just your head."
"If I'd known you two were going to gang up on me I wouldn't have introduced you," Nick complained but he was trying really hard not to smile when he said it.
Monroe shook his head, grinning and ready to reply when he was distracted by the heavy squeal of truck brakes outside and the thump of boots on the sidewalk. "Someone's at your door," he said just as the doorbell rang.
Juliette popped up out of her chair before Nick could do more than put down his fork. "I've got it."
"I'm glad you were able to come," Nick said when they were alone. "Juliette despairs for me having nothing but cops for friends." Pushing his chair back he went to the window, twitching aside the curtain to peer out.
Monroe could hear Juliette's shoes clicking down the hall, the door opening, voices. "I don't know if I'm really an improvement on that," he said watching Nick. "What's wrong?"
Nick glanced back at him, jaw and shoulders tense. "Nothing. It's nothing." But he didn't move until the door closed and Juliette's shoes announced an unhurried return. Then he scooted back to his chair. "Someone's been watching the house," he said just as Juliette walked back into the room.
"Nick, the delivery guy needs to see your ID and have you sign for the package."
"They're delivering on Sunday?"
"Apparently." Juliette sat back down, replacing her napkin on her lap.
"Huh. Okay. Be right back."
Monroe listened to his footsteps thunder up the stairs to the bedroom and back down. After a minute he came back into the kitchen carrying a cardboard FedEx envelope. "Do we know anyone in White Sulphur Springs Montana?"
"I don't think we know anyone in Montana period," Juliette said. "Who's it from?"
"Al's Multi-Storage and More. Huh. Maybe it's something for work." He tossed the envelope on the counter.
Monroe waited until he was back in his chair then burst out. "Getting back to someone watching your house? You can't just drop that into the conversation and not finish the story."
Juliette glanced at Nick. "I came home early last week and there was a pickup parked across the street. They were taking pictures of the house. When I went outside they took off."
"Did you get a look at them?" Monroe asked. "Wait, you went outside?"
Nick looked at her, validation all over his face.
"I wanted to see what they were doing," Juliette defended stoutly but a little sheepishly. Obviously she realized what she'd done wasn't wise but Nick must have been giving her a hard time about it so she wasn't going to admit to it. "I got their license plate number."
"And…?" Monroe prompted.
"It's registered to an address on Lovejoy off the 403," Nick said, clearly reluctant.
Monroe stared at him. "Annnnnd…?"
"And nothing." Nick shrugged. "They checked out clean. No priors. Guy has a wife and two kids. No record except for two parking tickets over three years."
"I don't think they were professionals," Juliette added. "They were driving this really old truck in the most memorable color you could find and they had a plain digital camera like you'd get at Wal-Mart for sixty dollars."
Monroe could tell Nick wanted to drop it, he figured they had been arguing about it from the looks shooting back and forth between the two, so he let it go. For now. He made a mental note to pin Nick down someday soon and have a long conversation about why most Grimm's were loners and drifters. And home security, pfffaw. They didn't even have an alarm system.
"Who wants dessert?" Nick said, getting up before he finished the last word. "Half time is almost over."
The second half of the game was a wash. They were making fun of the commercials more than they were watching the game which was fun but Monroe was bored, bored, bored.
"You look bored," Nick said stretching out a leg to poke him in the thigh with his bare toes.
Juliette had abandoned them half an hour ago, claiming female prerogative to avoid all televised sporting events.
Monroe finished his third glass of wine and shook his head because he was good guest who remembered at least some of the social niceties his mother had drilled into him.
"Yeah me too," Nick said as if he'd agreed. Rolling his head in Monroe's direction he added, "Want to dig through some more case files?"
Yes, yes, YES! "Sure, okay. If you're not into the game."
Nick rolled his eyes and heaved himself up from the couch. "Come on then."
"So what exactly are you looking for in all this?" he asked as they pushed aside boxes of clothes and kitchen wares to make room on the dining table.
"Papers, letters, photos, official documents." Nick had switched to ice water after his last beer and he paused to take a sip. "You said that Grimmness is inherited and I didn't inherit mine until a few months ago. Which means it didn't come from my parents. I must have had at least one family member I didn't know about. There could be more." Wiping a condensation-wet hand on his thigh, he grabbed a stack of folders from the sideboard. "Maybe one of them knows what this is all about."
"I don't think Grimmness is actually a word."
"It's totally a word."
Monroe scowled at him. "Find it in the dictionary."
"I'll bet you're a barrel of laughs at Scrabble," Nick said, glancing up with a smirk to show he was teasing.
"You may borrow my official, leather-bound Scrabble dictionary any time," Monroe said loftily. "If you treat it nicely."
Nick looked at him solemnly. "It's engraved isn't it?"
"No," Monroe denied.
He so was. "It was a gift. Like you're creepy monkey potholders only not creepy."
"The monkeys are adorable."
"Adorkable you mean."
"Now that," Nick said, pointing at him with a pencil, "is not a word." He spread a file out in front Monroe and pulled another chair over close. "This one…is a double homicide from late last year. Bodies found in a park on the edge of the city. Cause of death was asphyxiation. Coroner noted severe bruising of the ribs and additional crushing injuries as if the victims had been squeezed by something large."
"She notes similar bruising has been documented on small animals attacked by constrictor snakes." Nick made a face. "Is that even possible?"
"Oh my neophyte Grimm," Monroe drawled in his best menacing voice. "The things I must teach you."
Three files later Juliette came to the doorway, leaning against the frame. "Hey, you two. I'm heating up leftover lasagna for dinner."
Monroe looked at the window surprised to see it had gotten dark. He remembered Nick getting up to turn on the light at some point but it hadn't seemed that long ago. "Wow, I should go."
"Nah, you should stay for dinner," Nick said. So he did.
It was after eight when he got home. He puttered around the house, did the dishes and a load of laundry, cleaned up a little. Leaning against the counter while he waited for water to heat for a cup of tea before bed, he realized that his cheeks were sore from smiling and he'd had a really good time.
The phone woke him in the middle of the night. The display was too bright and he squinted at it until he could read the name on the caller ID and time. Burkhardt. 1:58am.
His heart thudded a little too hard. Nobody called at two in the morning for a happy reason. "Nick? What's wong?"
"It's Juliette." There was a lot of background noise, people talking, her voice echoed through the phone. She sounded like she'd been crying or trying really hard not to cry. "Someone broke into the house."
"What? Are you alright?" Sitting up, he turned on the lamp.
"I'm fine but Nick—" She sucked in a shaky breath. "I'm at the hospital."
"I'm on my way. Which hospital?"
More Notes: I know, I know, evil cliffhanger. Bad squirrel. I'll just say, the person who broke in…. It's not who you think.