Decision

Now that Liliana had found a way to prevent Monroe's death in the lowen games, she set herself to preventing the other deaths she had seen. Nick's, Sean Renard's, Officer Wu's, and Detective Hank's.

It seemed like she rarely looked into anyone's future lately without seeing them die horribly. But at least, with her success in saving the gentle wolf, she felt optimistic about the others.

She already spent a fair amount of time each week training with the Grimm and his wolf. Nick was the one who needed the training now, so that he could defeat the two reapers that would eventually come for him. But Monroe enjoyed working out with them, and helping Nick hone his skill. The better Monroe got at fighting, the more Nick had to improve to beat him. So, she trained them both.

Nick's death became more and more flickery and uncertain each day that they practiced. Those two reapers, when they arrived, were not going to find a raw, green, untrained Grimm. Nick's natural ability meant that his fighting skills improved at an incredible pace. The next enemy that squared off against Portland's Grimm, would be in for a nasty surprise.

Since Detective Hank never took anything Liliana said seriously, her warnings to him went unheeded. Saving him would have to be done through other avenues. Liliana was looking into that.

That left Officer Wu and the dark prince, Sean Renard. Both would die on the same night, killed by the same Japanese man with a Norse tattoo on his face. Liliana liked Wu. She would save him.

Saving both the prince and Wu would require that Liliana be there in person, not just give them advice. She could save Wu simply by distracting the killer at the right moment, but to save the prince, she would have to defend him with her own life.

The real question wasn't, "Could she save the prince?" It was, "Should she?" And just as essential a question, "Did she want to save Sean Renard badly enough to fight for him?"

She spent some time looking at the intersection between her favorite Grimm and the dark prince. Many of their interactions had been unknown to Nick. He was still unaware that his police captain was anything other than a police captain.

Some of the prince's actions on Nick's behalf had been very positive. Liliana had seen the prince shoot a man with a shotgun a fraction of a second before he would have shot and possibly killed Nick. She had seen the prince emphatically order away a reaper that had come to kill Nick, and command that no other reapers come to his city. That order had almost certainly saved Nick's life, as it kept the reapers away long enough for Nick to find his way in the dangerous world of a Grimm.

Liliana had already established that the reapers that were coming for Nick in a couple of months were not sent at the prince's order. The prince had been angry when Liliana told him about reapers coming for Nick. Even though the prince desperately wanted something from Nick, a key, and he had a great deal of pressure from others, he refused to allow Nick to be hurt to get it.

But, she had also seen that the attempts on the life of Nick's second mother, his Aunt Marie, had been ordered by the prince himself, or at least done with his knowledge and approval. She also knew that the dark prince was behind the danger to Hank's life.

Prince Sean Renard protected Nick with one hand and threatened people Nick loved with the other.

Beyond his relationship with her favorite Grimm, the prince appeared to be ruthless as a leader, but fair. He kept his word once it was given. He stood as a strong force for justice and order in Portland. If he died, there would be a power vacuum. Who or what would step into that vacuum was another unknown. Without a strong leader, the local wesen community could quickly turn to violence and chaos. If someone like Leo Taymor, who until recently might have been a contender, stepped into the prince's shoes, it could be disastrous.

Liliana had tried looking into the possible paths of the future to see if the prince's death would, in the long run, be a good thing or a bad thing, but after a certain point, the future became nothing but fuzzy uncertainty. Each day, each action, each moment shaped the paths of the future. Those paths were always shifting. Normally, most things flowed predictably enough that the future was stable further out.

Right now, the future of Portland hung in a state of flux. Many things were changing. Lives hung in the balance.

Her fourth eyes could not tell her if saving the prince was the right thing to do or not.

She would need to spend more time with this prince, to determine if he was someone she would be willing to fight for.

Her first meeting with the prince had been by chance, and there had been very little time to speak with him. She would have to choose a good time and place where she could speak with the prince at greater length, without being interrupted.

Liliana would rather have her teeth drilled than walk into the police station again. So, it would have to be somewhere else. Her first social call in many years had been at Monroe's house, and that had gone quite smoothly.

She decided it was time for another one.

The prince would be at home this evening, and did not appear to be particularly busy. She saw him leave the police station to exercise at an exclusive gym. Then she saw him sipping coffee and reading over some reports from work, but not with the intensity that would indicate that they were urgent. He wore sweats and a thin white t-shirt, and had that freshly showered, relaxed look that men often had after a good workout.

It seemed like a good time to drop in.

The cab dropped Liliana off in front of the prince's apartment building. It was pretty and modern with lighted glass staircases and shiny metal walls.

The building had tight security. A man waited behind a desk to take her name, and let Sean Renard know she was there. Then the security man would have to push a button to unlock the door that led to the elevators. He would also give her a special code that she had to punch in so that she could use the elevator.

It seemed like an awful lot of bother for her to go through for no reason. She had no intention of harming the prince. And the security would be useless against the man who did actually intend to harm him.

Liliana used her fourth eyes to find a good time to go in. She timed walking in the building to a moment when the man at the desk was busy with something else. She walked past him and through the locked door just as someone else walked out. She got in the elevator and punched in the code which she had seen the man hand to someone else before she arrived. Simple.

She knocked on the prince's door. With her fourth eyes, she watched him set down the report he had been reading, pick up a pistol, and go to the door to look out through the peephole. Liliana quickly closed all of her eyes but her human ones. The prince did not like her looking into his mind with her third eyes. So, she would have to get to know him without that advantage.

He opened the door, gun hidden behind it, brows furrowed in puzzlement. "Liliana." He looked up and down the corridor to verify that she was alone. "What are you doing here?"

"I need to know whether or not I should save your life."

His lips quirked on the edge and the expression in his eyes lightened. "Still trying to make up your mind?"

"Yes."

"Well, come in then. Can I offer you anything?" The prince opened the door and stepped aside, but he kept the gun in his hand.

Liliana walked in and looked around. "You don't have any tea."

He chuckled. "No, I'm afraid I don't."

"That's okay. I'm not thirsty." Liliana looked around at his place, trying to think of something complimentary to say. His place was spotlessly clean and furnished like a magazine. There were very few clues to the personality of the man who lived here, aside from the insistence on order. "I like your balcony." It was good to have an alternative exit in any home in case, say, a Grimm walked in one door and accused you of murder. You could escape out the other one.

Renard looked at the sliding glass doors with the curtains closed across them. "The view is pretty amazing actually. Would you like to see it?"

Liliana opened her fourth eyes and looked through the curtains. "You're right. The view is very pretty. The city lights look like Christmas decorations from here."

Renard chuckled again. "I meant, would you like to walk out on the balcony and see the view with me?"

"Oh." Liliana tilted her head to one side for a moment. "Okay."

The prince opened the curtains, then slid the glass door open. The evening was a little chili, but it wasn't raining and Liliana still had her favorite wrap on, a double-thick quilted teal blue velvet cape that Phoebe Wurstner had made for her. It kept her warm, was wonderfully soft, and it didn't restrict her arm blades.

She walked out onto the balcony, the prince at her back, with the gun still in his hand. "Are you afraid of me?" she asked him.

"Should I be?" He walked up beside her at the balcony railing, the light breeze ruffling his short dark hair.

The same breeze tossed Liliana's long thick black hair behind her, away from her face. That made her feel a little exposed. She was used to having it hang around her face, hiding her from people. "I told you before. The danger to your life isn't from me."

"What makes you think I'm afraid then?" He sounded a little insulted. He stood unusually close, so that she found herself staring at his chest. He had a rather nice chest, with broad shoulders at about the level of the top of her head, and pronounced lines of muscle clearly visible through the thin t-shirt. She had watched him at the gym. She knew what lay under that t-shirt. It was just as magnificent as the thin cloth hinted at. It took her a moment to remember that he had asked her a question.

Maybe Liliana had misinterpreted his actions. She tilted her head and considered for a moment. No, the gun didn't make sense unless he was scared of her. "You don't talk to everyone who comes to visit you while holding a gun, do you?"

He looked down at the gun in his hand. He had been holding it low and a little behind his leg. He probably thought she hadn't noticed it. "Let's just say I'm a little cautious. I've heard some things about spinnesehen that make it seem prudent."

Liliana thought about that, then nodded. "If it makes you more comfortable, I understand."

He chuckled again. "Very generous of you."

Liliana shrugged. "I could kill you, or take your hand off at the wrist before you could shoot me in any case."

The prince's body tensed and his weight shifted more forward to the balls of his feet. His knees bent slightly and hands came subtly more forward. "Are you sure of that?"

It was a good defensive position, without appearing aggressive and the prince outweighed her by a hundred pounds of muscle. Liliana smiled and admitted, "Not entirely sure." She liked that she wasn't sure she could beat him in a fight. She wasn't afraid of him, but neither was she comfortable with him. His presence was a little like the cold wind in her hair. Exhilarating.

Here was a man who had been properly trained to fight, and who kept his body strong despite fighting most of his battles behind a desk. Her father would have respected this prince. He might have named the man enemy and killed him, but he would have respected him. "There is no advantage for you to gain in trying to kill me, so …" she shrugged. "It doesn't really matter."

"No advantage in it?" Renard asked. "Do you think advantage is the only reason to kill someone?"

"Advantage, hate or fear," Liliana said. "Those are the reasons that sane people kill. You threatened me in the car because you were afraid. Now, you tell me that you are not afraid, and I tell you that there is no advantage to be gained." She shrugged again. "You have no reason to hate me, so, the gun must be there to make you feel more in control. I can accept that."

The amused quirk at the edge of his lips broadened, his body relaxed a little, and his weight shifted back to the center of his feet, which she just noticed were bare. "So, since I have your approval to keep my gun, maybe you could tell me what you came here to ask me?"

Now that she was there, how was she supposed to decide whether he was a man worth fighting for? "I'm not really sure," Liliana said. "Usually other people ask me questions."

He nodded. "Well, I'm used to asking the questions, so that works. Maybe you could start by telling me what sort of danger I'm supposed to be in?"

Liliana nodded. "We should go back inside, though. Your feet will get cold." She walked back into the prince's living room and sat down on his pristine white sectional couch.

He followed her, after shutting the glass door.

Liliana paid close attention to the door. There was a latch on it, but the prince didn't use it. He hadn't unlocked it to open it earlier either. He kept his balcony door unlocked. That might be how the killer got in.

"You should lock your door. You are going to be murdered in your home in a few months," she told the prince.

"Is there any way I can avoid it?" He sat down on the couch right next to her, holding the gun negligently in one hand.

"You ask very good questions," Liliana told him. "Most people don't, you know." She looked into the future to see if simply locking his door would prevent his murder, but saw no change. Either he ignored her advice, or locking the door didn't keep the murderer out. Lilliana sighed. It had been worth a try.

Renard waved a hand slightly in front of her face to get her attention, which had wandered. "I would particularly like that question answered."

"No."

Renard's eyebrows went up, and his grip on the gun became less relaxed. "You're not going to answer me?"

"No, that's the answer. As far as I can tell, without having a high probability of making matters worse, there is no way for you to avoid the series of events that will lead to your death."

"What could be worse than me dying?"

"You dying in a more horrible way, you dying in a way that I could not stop, several other people dying, this entire building burning to the ground with you and several other people locked inside it." Those were all possibilities that Liliana had seen briefly flicker into being while she considered ways to try to save the prince without having to directly involve herself.

"Okay, I get what you mean, but if my murder is unavoidable, then what can you do about it?"

"I can fight your murderer to protect you."

"If you could fight off this attacker, then why couldn't I?"

"He is a very skilled wesen fighter. He will catch you by surprise from behind. I can probably defeat him because he cannot surprise me, but I would have to risk my life to save yours."

"Why would you do that?" Renard leaned toward her, focused on her face. Her answer to that question interested him greatly.

"I don't really have any reason to," Liliana told him. "That's why I'm here."

"Then it seems that I'm doomed." The prince showed teeth in a smile that was handsome, charming, and never reached his eyes. "Unless I give you a reason to defend me." He pushed her hair back from her face and tucked it behind her ear. He leaned in and whispered the next words in her ear. "Shall I give you a reason?"

His warm breath on her neck sent a shiver up her spine. She didn't know why he was whispering. There was no one else there to hear. She turned to look at him and tilted her head confused. "Yes, please. A reason to save you is what I'm looking for."

He kissed her.

He was very good at it. He fisted a hand in her hair at the base of her neck, and kissed her very thoroughly.

Liliana wasn't used to kissing people with her third eyes closed, but the prince had threatened to shoot her when she looked at him with her third eyes. His eyes were closed, so he wouldn't know, and she had not technically given him her word that she wouldn't look. She opened her third eyes and looked at him.

He liked kissing her, but it was a surface enjoyment. There was a jumble of different motivations underneath. He didn't entirely believe her about his life being in danger, but kissing her was a calculated move to gain her as an ally, just in case. She amused him and intrigued him. She was pretty, and he hadn't gotten laid in a while. She could be a powerful ally to have, if half the crazy rumors he'd heard about spinnesehen were true. If he could convince her to have sex with him regularly, he might live for hundreds of years if that rumor were true. That was worth sleeping with her all by itself, even if she was unattractive, which she wasn't.

Liliana closed her third eyes and pulled away from him. He was quite exceptional at kissing, but she did not like his reasons for kissing her.

He raised an eyebrow at her in question as she pulled away.

"You're still holding the gun," she pointed out.

He straightened up and looked down at the gun in his hand as if he had forgotten it was there.

Liliana stood up abruptly and walked to the glass doors. The view was still beautiful but she barely noticed it. "I saw you kill the king of lions."

She looked down at her hands and stroked the soft fabric of her cape. If she intended to stay a while, she should have taken it off. She didn't think she would stay.

He followed her, but stood a little behind her, not quite so close. She opened her second eyes, the ones on her temples that gave her a 360 degree view, so she could watch him without turning around.

"You're wrong. I didn't kill the lowan king," the prince told her.

"I misspoke," Lilliana corrected herself. "Leo Taymor broke his word to you and refused to obey, so you arranged for him to be killed. This is what I saw."

"Who do you intend to tell about that?" His gun no longer pointed at the floor, it was aimed at her back.

Liliana sighed, exasperated, and shook her head.

"What?" he asked.

She turned to face him. "You keep pointing guns at me. It's making it very hard for me to find a good reason to like you."

His lips quirked again and his eyes lightened. Liliana realized something. That tiny twitch of lips and lightening of eyes was a genuine smile of amusement. The broad smile he gave her just before he kissed her was for show, a politician's charm. But that tiny twitch of a smile, the one her comments kept putting on his face, was real.

As that smile touched his face, the tip of the gun barrel dipped half an inch. "I suppose that would make it difficult," he said, with amusement in his voice.

He would not shoot her. In that moment, she didn't need her third eyes to be certain of that.

"You actually like me," Liliana said, in surprise.

"I did kiss you," Renard pointed out.

"You kissed me because you calculated that it was to your advantage."

"And because I like you."

"Why?"

"You say exactly what you mean. Everything you say is the absolute unvarnished truth. I'm not used to that. It's very … refreshing."

"I like you, too."

"Why?" he said, lips quirked in amusement as he turned the tables on her.

"My father was a lowan. He would have cheered to see Leo Taymor get his throat ripped out. I wanted to cheer a little, too." She considered, head tilted. There was more to it than that. She wasn't certain when her opinion of the prince had shifted. The kiss certainly hadn't hurt. "I was raised to respect men of honor. You understand the importance of keeping your word. You fight to bring order to a world that has known only chaos for centuries. You protect my friend the Grimm, even though he doesn't know it. And you look good with your shirt off."

Renard barked a startled laugh.

Liliana thought about what she had said that might be funny. "I shouldn't have said that last part out loud."

"I'm not offended, Liliana." The way he said her name was like a caress. He set the gun down on the table and stepped closer to her. He used neither the name that her friends used, not the name that her customers used. He had made his own unique category for himself. He pushed her hair back from her face with both hands, put a fingertip under her chin and lifted her face so it tilted up to him.

Liliana looked at him with just her human eyes. He was very nice to look at. His eyes were not pure shining blue like her favorite Grimm. They were a light hazel mix of green and blue with dashes of light brown and gray, complex eyes that could change with the light or the time of day, or the mood of the man behind them. "You put the gun down."

"You made your decision."

Liliana considered. "Yes. I will fight for you when you need me."

He bent down toward her.

"I have already decided. You don't have to kiss me again to convince me."

"Maybe I want to kiss you."

"If you kiss me, I will look into you again," she warned him. "I always look when kissing."

He stopped, bent down to reach her much shorter stature. The smile disappeared. "I told you to stay out of my head." His touch on her face was no longer gentle.

"I apologize for not asking permission first, but I did not expect you to kiss me."

"Accepted. You won't do it again." His hard voice made it an order.

"I give you my word that I will never look into your mind without your permission, except when we are kissing."

His jaws tightened. "Then I think you're done here."

Lilliana nodded. "I will go home now." His reaction to her warning was exactly what she expected. Still, she felt disappointed. She had wanted him to kiss her again. She had just wanted him to do it for the right reasons.

She sighed and left.

Her decision was made. That was what she came for, wasn't it?