Title: A Wolf By the Hand
Warnings: Implied fantasy violence; implied sexuality. Spoilers for Juliette's storyline in S2.
Wordcount: Appx. 3,500
Summary: After Nick moves in with Monroe, they establish a routine. But then one night, Nick comes home to find Monroe isn't there. A few phone calls reveal a pack of blutbaden who plan to take Monroe away with them, unless Nick claims Monroe as his own. What's a Grimm to do?
Note: Done for the Trope Bingo prompt, "accidental marriage." Also, I blame meridian_rose for this totally, for making me love Nick/Monroe and introducing me to Trope Bingo.
A Wolf By the Hand
Nick returned to Monroe's house after a long day chasing leads that led nowhere. He supposed he was going home… Monroe had gone out of his way to make Nick feel like the house was his too, and dropped a comment in almost every conversation about how Nick could stay for as long as he wanted. But even after three weeks of living with Monroe, Nick still thought of the house he'd shared with Juliette as 'home.'
But that isn't home anymore, he told himself. And it probably never will be again.
Spelled or not (and he wasn't sure if Monroe was right about that), Nick wasn't sure if he could forgive Juliette for having an affair with Captain Renard of all people. And being away from Nick made her safe. Aunt Marie'd told him to leave her, after all. Maybe if he had, back when he first found out about being a Grimm, Juliette would have never been hurt.
And Nick wouldn't be spending as much time as he could outside of the station, forcing Hank to act as a go between for him and the Captain, because Nick wasn't sure he'd be able to stop himself from punching the man square in the jaw.
Nick sighed and slotted his key into the deadbolt on the front door, idly looking at the stained glass inset. In many ways, and he hated himself for thinking this, living with Monroe was an improvement over living with Juliette. Especially lately, since she'd lost her memories of him.
He didn't have to sleep on a couch that was hell on his back. He didn't have to hide being a Grimm. He didn't have to worry as much about his house mate, because while Monroe wasn't a warrior by any means, he was a blutbad and strong, and could take care of himself.
And he was also an excellent cook. Nick arrived home most evenings to find dinner laid on the table and Monroe pressing a beer into his hand, asking how his day was. And Nick was actually able to discuss it with him, while they ate whatever vegetarian concoction Monroe had come up with. Whatever it was, it was good eight times out of ten.
Nick vaguely missed having meat in the house, but it was easy enough to grab a burger or a steak when he was out with Hank, and he understood why Monroe needed to stick to his diet. Really, it was impressive. Monroe had to be one of the most strong-willed, really just plain strong people that Nick knew.
Nick pushed the front door open, and frowned to find the house dark. He looked at his watch. Seven thirty. Monroe usually closed the shop at five, unless he had a special client coming in. Then he tinkered with his clocks or practiced his cello until about six. And then he made Nick's dinner. It was their routine, and Nick hadn't realized how much he relied on the stability of it until it was disrupted.
Nick turned on a lamp and then pulled out his cell phone, scrolling to Monroe's number. He was about to press 'send' when he stopped himself, muttering, "I'm not his girlfriend."
He put his phone back in his pocket. Then he shrugged off his coat and tossed it on the back of the couch, only to backtrack and hang it on one of the coat hooks by the front door. Monroe liked everything neat and in its place, and just because he wasn't here tonight to nag Nick about hanging up his coat didn't mean Nick should just leave it anywhere.
He stood awkwardly in the middle of the living room for a minute or so before he realized that this was the first evening he'd spent alone since moving in with Monroe, and he didn't really know what to do with himself.
With a snort, he took himself off to his room to divest himself of gun and shoes. Then he went to the kitchen and grabbed a beer, and started peering into the cupboards to see what he could make for dinner.
Maybe it would be nice to be the one to have everything ready when Monroe got home for a change?
That thought in mind, he poked through the pantry and Monroe's little rolodex of recipe cards before deciding he could probably manage vegetarian stir fry.
When the stir fry had been on the table long enough to go cold and semi-gelatinous, Nick started to worry.
Not wasting any time on clearing away the dishes, he pulled out his phone and dialed Monroe's cell.
I'm sorry, the number you have dialed is currently out of service. Please hang up, and try your call again later, came a tinny, computerized voice.
Nick broke out in a cold sweat, and hit the 'end' button, before rapidly dialing the shop phone from memory.
"Come on, pick up, pick up, pick up," he repeated like a prayer, his imagination running rampant with all of the things that could have befallen Monroe.
He'd never forget the time his friend had been beaten, just for the crime of treating Nick with kindness.
At last, after the ringing had gone on for eternity, Monroe answered the phone.
"Hello?" The familiar voice was music to Nick's ears.
"Nick! Oh man, am I glad to hear from you –"
There was the sound of movement, maybe a scuffle, and several growling voices, and then he heard Monroe yelp.
"Monroe! Monroe!" he called into the phone, already dashing to his room for his gun, shoes, and keys.
"Who's this?" a man whose voice Nick couldn't recognize asked.
"This is Detective Nick Burkhardt. Let me speak to Monroe. What have you done to him?"
Laughter. "You think a human will save you?" a background voice mocked. "You really do need a pack!"
"He's not just a human!" That was Monroe. "He's a Grimm!"
Everything was silent on the line for a few seconds, and Nick blessed Monroe's quick thinking. By telling whoever had him that Nick was a Grimm loud enough for the phone to pick up, he was also warning Nick that he would be dealing with an unknown number of wesen when he reached the shop.
Detouring to the trunk in the living room that Monroe had cleaned out for Nick's less conventional weapons, he snagged a crossbow and a silver blade. Most things could be hurt, if not killed, by either wood or silver.
By the time he was kitted out and in his car, Monroe's assailants were back on the phone.
"What does a Grimm want with a blutbad?" the growly voice demanded.
"What do you want with him?" Nick countered as he peeled out of the drive.
Hesitation, then a grudging, "A blutbad of Monroe's bloodlines can't be allowed to turn his back on what we are. He must join a pack."
"He already has a pack," Nick said at once. "I'm his pack."
He could tell that Monroe didn't want to have anything to do with these guys, whoever they were. A blutbad pack, presumably.
"…You claim this blutbad?"
"I do," Nick confirmed, tires squealing as he took a sharp corner at high speed.
"Then why haven't you performed the bonding ceremony?"
"I've been waiting for the right time."
Nick lurched to a stop at a red light, wishing he dared turn on his siren. But he didn't want to alert the wesen that he was coming too soon, and he wasn't sure if he'd be able to explain this as police business besides…
He drummed his fingers against the wheel, every second he had to wait feeling like Monroe was slipping further away from him.
Just as Juliette had.
"You will come to us and perform the bonding ceremony before witnesses. If we are satisfied in your claim, we will leave Monroe with you."
Nick let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding.
"I'm on my way."
When he arrived at the shop, two blutbaden were flanking the door. Nick hid his crossbow under his coat and slid his silver blade up a sleeve before getting out of his car.
"You the Grimm?"
"This way. Tom is expecting you."
Nick was shown into the back room of the familiar shop, where he saw Monroe sitting in a chair, surrounded by his fellow wesen. He looked alright, except for a scrape on his cheek.
"Nick!" Monroe started to stand, only to be shoved into his chair again by the blutbad to his left.
"You keep your hands off of him!" Nick spat, doing a pretty fair imitation of a growl.
The blutbaden looked nervous.
One of the blutbaden – Tom, Nick guessed – stepped forward. He was small, lean and wiry, but there was an air of command about him that marked him as the leader of the pack.
"I will perform the bonding ceremony. If you really intend on claiming Monroe as pack, go take his hand."
Nick nodded, and muscled his way past the circle of toughs around Monroe. Then he gripped the back of Monroe's chair, dragging it (and the seated wesen) back toward a corner, so that Nick would only have to worry about being attacked from two sides.
Tom appeared to engage in some sort of silent communication with the rest of the pack. Finally, he said, "You are a good pack leader, for not being a blutbad. Maybe it's not so bad, to lose Monroe to you."
"Just get on with the bonding ceremony," Nick ordered, his fingers twitching toward his gun. He wouldn't feel easy until he and Monroe were back home.
Had he been thinking that Monroe's house wasn't his home just a few hours ago? It clearly was now. A sanctuary where he and his friend – his best friend, the one person who knew him totally, inside and out – could be safe. And together.
He wondered what had changed.
"Nick," Monroe whispered. "The bonding ceremony, you don't understand, it's not just – "
One of the blutbaden stepped toward them and Nick drew his crossbow, leveling it at the wesen. "You stay where you are." Lower, to Monroe, he answered, "We can talk about it later, alright? Right now I just want to claim you and get us both out of here alive."
Monroe flushed a bright red, but Nick didn't notice. He was too busy keeping track of all the blutbaden that threatened them.
Tom snorted. "Eager, are you?" he said with a definite leer.
Nick blinked. "Just perform the ceremony. Then I want you out of here. Off my pack's territory," he added with sudden inspiration, remembering a few late night discussions with Monroe about the culture of blutbaden. Nick was claiming Monroe as his pack, so why not also claim the rights of a pack leader? If Tom was as into tradition as it looked like he was, he would have to respect the boundaries of whatever territory Nick claimed for his pack of two, or it would be war.
A plain human could never hold a territory, but Nick was a Grimm.
He smiled a deadly smile.
Tom's eyes narrowed, and one of the other blutbaden fidgeted, looking on the verge of running.
"Very well. Take Monroe's hand."
Nick kept his crossbow raised, but transferred it to his right hand so that he could lower his left for Monroe to take.
"Nick, I have to tell you – "
"Monroe," Nick said, doing his best to sound like an alpha wolf. "Later."
Monroe sighed, and took Nick's hand. "Just don't say I didn't try to warn you. I am not responsible for this."
Tom smiled, and it wasn't a nice smile. "If you don't want to be claimed by the Grimm, Monroe, you could still come with us."
Monroe blanched, and then immediately reddened again, making his complexion look like clotted cream. "I want Nick to claim me," he hastened to assure Tom, his voice slightly breathless.
Nick squeezed Monroe's hand, thinking the other man must be frightened for some reason. He'd get Monroe to explain everything that was going on, once they were at home.
Monroe turned surprised eyes up at Nick, but squeezed back.
They wouldn't mention the hand squeezing when they talked later. It was part of being buddies. So long as neither buddy brought up any touchy feely moments, they could pretend it hadn't happened.
Tom raised his hands in a non-threatening manner, and took a half step forward. "You must let your blood mingle for the ceremony to work," he instructed.
Nick cut his eyes at Monroe, signaling that he should take care of that. With another put upon sigh, Monroe wolfed out and pricked both of their palms with a claw, and then took Nick's hand again.
Tom nodded in satisfaction.
"Do you, Nick, of the Clan of Grimms, take this blutbad into your pack, to trade loyalty for loyalty and blood for blood, until one of you is slain?"
"Yes," Nick answered without hesitation.
Tom turned to Monroe. "Do you, Monroe, of the Clan of Wider, accept this Grimm as your pack leader, to trade loyalty for loyalty, blood for blood, and command for obedience, until one of you is slain?"
There was a pregnant pause.
Nick squeezed Monroe's hand.
"Yes." The word gusted from Monroe's lips in a rush.
The instant he said it, Nick felt a spark, a shock, a static charge in the air that seemed to leap between them, a crackle of invisible lightning. Some kind of magic? Was this ceremony more than just a vow?
Was this what Monroe had been trying to tell him?
Nick's heart gave a series of shuddering thumps, and then he could feel his blood rushing in his ears. The next thing he knew, he had his arms full of Monroe, and there were lips against his, and the scratch of a beard against his face.
Shocked, he pulled back to look into red eyes. Monroe was in wolf face.
"Yours," Monroe growled, a wildness in his voice that Nick rarely heard.
Confused beyond belief, but unable to do anything else with the other blutbaden looking on, Nick wound one arm around Monroe's waist and said the first thing that came into his mind.
"What?" Nick repeated for the third time.
They were home again, having left the shop after Nick took a moment to outline his territory for Tom on a map of the city. They'd been home for an hour and a half, give or take, and Nick still couldn't grasp what Monroe had just explained to him.
"I tried to tell you, Nick!" Monroe paced back and forth in front of the couch, fiddling with his hands the way he did when he was worried about something. Nick watched, wanting to pull Monroe down next to him on the couch and make him be still, but knowing that Monroe needed to pace or he'd start spontaneously wolfing out.
"Ok, let me get this straight. I'm not blutbaden, so the only way for me to claim one as pack is to… marry them?" Nick heard his own voice as if from far away. He sounded so calm.
"Yes." Monroe raked a hand through his hair.
"And the ceremony Tom performed, those were blutbaden wedding vows?"
"Yes." Monroe twisted one of the buttons on his sweater vest.
"We're married under wesen law."
Monroe hung his head. "Yes."
Monroe's shoulders hunched. "Yes."
"Are you mad? I mean, I did try to tell you, but then you said to be quiet, and there were all those guys, and it was actually pretty cool how you out-alpha-ed the alpha, but I'd understand if you were mad because you didn't know… I need a beer."
Monroe abruptly turned on his heel and disappeared into the kitchen. In seconds, he was back, two beers in hand and a surprised look on his face.
He passed a beer to Nick, and then said, "You made dinner."
It took Nick's brain several seconds to catch up and realize that Monroe had seen the by now congealed stir fry still sitting on the dining table. He shrugged and sipped his beer. "Thought it would be nice for you, if I made dinner for a change."
Monroe hid behind his beer bottle.
Nick sighed, and Monroe twitched, actually shimmering into his wolf form in Nick's Sight.
"Monroe," Nick patted a spot on the couch next to him. "I'm not mad. I don't blame you. You're right. You tried to tell me. And… I might have still done it, if it was the only way to save you from those guys. Even I'm not sure about my chances of taking on a whole pack of blutbaden at once."
Monroe shifted back to his human form and sat down.
Something suddenly occurring to Nick, he turned to look at Monroe full on. "Are you mad? I didn't give you much choice about this…"
"No! No," Monroe hastened to assure him. "I wanted you to claim me." He blushed. "I mean, given a choice between you and Tom… not that I mean I wouldn't have been interested, because you're a handsome guy even if I've never really thought about guys that way before, well except for that one time at sleep away camp when I was fifteen, but what happens at Camp Okitoba stays at Camp Okitoba and…I'm going to stop talking now."
Nick stared in wide eyed silence.
He thought about maybe admitting that he'd peeked at other boys in the locker room in gym class when he was a teenager out of a sort of curiosity, and it wasn't like he found the idea of being with another man disgusting or anything like that. It had just always seemed easier to stick with girls when he didn't really have a preference. But eventually he decided Monroe might take that as some kind of suggestion they get physical, and Nick wasn't sure if he wanted to go there yet.
He meant he wasn't sure if he wanted to go there ever.
They sat there for a long time, just sipping their beer, each of them working silently through the implications of what had happened that night.
"You know I'm the guy, right?" Nick's voice pierced the stillness, trying to find the humor in the situation.
"What?" Monroe blinked, a slow grin curling his lips.
"I'm a cop, and a Grimm. I wear a gun, and eat meat, and chase criminals. I'm the guy."
Monroe laughed. "Dude, I could tear your arms off, if I wanted to. If we're basing this on physical strength, then I'm the guy."
Nick gestured with his beer as he spoke, his spirits lifting. "It's not about strength, it's the whole package. You're stronger, but you also make me dinner – while wearing an apron – and fix clocks and wear sweater vests. I'm the guy."
Monroe narrowed his eyes. "I have a beard."
"I could grow one."
They mock glared for all of a few seconds, and then they were both laughing and clapping each other on the back.
They were going to be alright. They would figure this out. It's not like their relationship really had to change. They were only married under wesen law, after all. This might even be a good thing. It could give Monroe more protection, now that Nick was a recognized pack leader and Monroe was apparently his… mate?
"You know," Monroe was saying as Nick followed him into the kitchen. "This news is going to spread pretty fast through the wesen community. We should register somewhere. There's this set of wineglasses I've had my eye on…"