Title: A Grimm in the Snow
Warnings: Fantasy violence; explicit sexuality; coarse language. Spoilers for Juliette and Captain Renard's storylines in S2.
Pairings/Characters: Nick/Monroe; Juliette; Captain Renard; Hank; Bud Wurstner.
Summary: Sequel to A Wolf By the Hand, but can stand alone. Nick and Monroe are struggling to find a new balance in their relationship, when people start vanishing at a mountain resort. Nick is sent to investigate, under cover as a guest of the resort. Suspecting that wesen may be involved, he brings Monroe along.
Note: Done for the Trope Bingo prompt, "snowed in." Thanks go to darksquirrel, whose comment on A Wolf By the Handdirectly influenced some of the scenes in this sequel, and to meridian_rose for turning me on to the pairing and betaing. Also, I couldn't find a name for Bud Wurstner's wife anywhere, so I named her Shirley. This is the non-explicit version of the story.
Part I: Leave It to the Beavers
Monroe woke up with the dawn, and indulged in a luxurious stretch. It was always nice when he managed to get a full night's rest, so that he wasn't half asleep during his morning exercises. Late nights had become a frequent occurrence ever since a certain Grimm walked into his life.
Though in these quiet moments at the beginning of the day, he could admit that, before Nick, he'd been pretty lonely. The gentler wesendidn't want much to do with a blutbad, reformed or not, and he couldn't face the temptation of running with a pack…
But he had a pack now. A pack that wouldn't expect him to hunt and kill the innocent.
He'd never forget the sight of Nick storming into Rosalie's spice shop and declaring that Monroe was his. Sure, Nick hadn't known that he was claiming Monroe as a mate for life in the eyes of the wesen community, but he'd still cared enough to come in with guns blazing.
Monroe hadn't had a pack leader that would fight for him like that since he was a kid. And if it wasn't how he'd always imagined his mating ceremony would be, well it was a small price to pay in order to avoid being press ganged into a pack of violent blutbaden.
Getting to his feet, Monroe quickly made his bed and then padded to the living room, still in his flannel pajamas. He was headed to the door to get the morning paper when he caught the lingering scent of eisbiber, combined with a heady aroma of spices.
He thought about getting Nick, but then shrugged. Eisbiber weren't normally violent, and certainly weren't a match for a blutbad unless there were about fifty of them out there, and Monroe could only smell the one.
He opened the door, and looked down.
Sitting next to his morning paper was a foil-covered casserole dish, and what seemed to be a greeting card envelope. Monroe picked the envelope up first, and opened it.
CONGRATULATIONS, was scrawled across the front of the card in brightly colored children's handwriting. Underneath was a picture of a disproportionate wolf holding hands with a police officer, done in crayon.
Bemused, Monroe opened the card. The handwriting on the inside was an elegant cursive, written in blue pen.
Dear Mr. Monroe and Mr. Nick,
Bud just told me the good news! He heard at work that you two are mated, and we are just thrilled for you, especially after that human woman threw you over, Mr. Nick.
I'm going to have Bud drop this off at your house when he starts his rounds tomorrow, along with something to keep you two boys fed. I know how newlyweds are! I imagine you won't want to be sparing time to cook for quite a while. Don't worry, Mr. Monroe, I know you don't eat meat, so it's a vegetarian lasagna.
We know that your bonding ceremony was a bit short notice, thanks to those no good blutbaden ruffians (no offense, Mr. Monroe), so we'd like to have a little party for you this weekend. Everybody wants to celebrate you two, with how much you've both done for our community. And Mr. Monroe, I understand you enjoy history, so I've plans to introduce you some of the members of the Portland Wesen Historical Society. I'm sure they'd be happy to have you join them.
Now don't you worry about bringing anything to the party but yourselves. Everyone else is going to bring a dish, so it's no hardship. Just one thing: Everyone's been asking me, are you registered anywhere? You really should, dears, it would put people at ease to know what kind of mating gifts you'd like.
Have a lovely day! Bud will be by again tomorrow to collect the lasagna dish, and find out where you're registered. But don't you let him impose on you two! You know what a chatter box he can be.
Monroe let out a short laugh and bent to retrieve the lasagna and the newspaper, a spring in his step and a lightness in his heart. Who would have thought that getting close to a Grimm would be the thing that put the wesen community at ease about the vegetarian blutbad? This was the first overture of friendship he'd ever had from any of them, aside from Rosalee.
Contentment shining from his face, he put the lasagna in the kitchen and went to do his pilates.
Nick wallowed in his nice soft bed with the sheets that smelled like summer. Monroe said most laundry detergents bothered his blutbad nose, so he made his own with herbs and stuff, tinkering away in the kitchen to find the perfect blend of scents.
Yeah, I'm totally the guy in this psudeo-marriage, Nick thought sleepily, burrowing deeper into his covers. Mmhmm, smells nice.
It was probably time he got up… But he really didn't want to. He had a day off for once, and the bed in Monroe's guest room – Nick's room, now – was pure heaven after months of sleeping on the couch in his old living room. If he ever saw that couch again, he might just empty the clip of his pistol into it.
Nick'd just decided he deserved another five minutes under the squishy comforter, when a new smell drifted into his nose. Coffee. Monroe's coffee.
Monroe made such good coffee.
Heavenly bed, really good coffee, heavenly bed, really good coffee…
With a groan, Nick acknowledged that he'd never be able to fall back to sleep now that he'd smelled the coffee, so he pulled himself up and shuffled toward the door.
After he'd zombie-walked his way to the bathroom, he felt marginally more awake, and was able to greet Monroe with more than a grunt when he made it to the kitchen. He poured himself a cup of that wonderful Monroe-coffee, and then cast hopeful eyes around for breakfast.
He was getting spoiled, and used to Monroe feeding him, he knew.
Spotting the dish on the kitchen island, Nick raised a brow. "Lasagna for breakfast?"
Monroe smiled at him. "That's from Shirley Wurstner. I take it she's a friend of yours?"
Nick blinked and sipped his coffee. "Sure, she's Bud Wurstner's wife. Remember those wesen who kept leaving gifts at my house because they were – "
"Afraid you were going to cut all their heads off?" Monroe finished. "Yeah, I remember that." Monroe took a bite of lasagna. "Well, whatever her reasons, Shirley Wurstner is a great cook." He gestured toward the fridge with his fork. "There's a card too. I'm guessing their kids drew the picture on the front."
Nick looked to see that Monroe had stuck the card to the fridge with a magnet. Examining the picture, he couldn't help but grin. "Think that's supposed to be us?"
"Probably," Monroe grinned back.
Nick took the card off the fridge and read it.
His grin faded.
A party? Like some kind of actual wedding? Just the thought of it left him cold. It would make this thing, this farce into something real.
It had been a week since Nick had unwittingly married Monroe under wesen law, and neither of them had mentioned it since that first night. The only thing that had changed at all was that Monroe and Nick 'patrolled' their newly claimed pack territory every few nights and well… peed on things to establish the boundary. Nick was just waiting for another cop to spot them at it. That's all he needed – Detective Burkhardt hauled in for urinating in public.
But Monroe said it had to be done. Their scents had to stay strong around their territory boundaries so that the wesen would know they were still actively maintaining it. So that any who came near would know that this was Nick and Monroe's side of town, they were in charge, and they would be very unhappy if anyone trespassed.
But this party… this would scuttle Nick's plans of just treating the whole pack-married-mated to Monroe thing as a sort of supernatural aspect of their friendship. Being mated to Monroe was supposed to be a Grimm thing, not a Nick thing. They were supposed to carry on exactly as they had before, just with the added detail of having an official relationship to each other in the wesen community. A Don't-Mess-With-Monroe-His-Mate-Is-A-Grimm-And-Will-Cut-Off-Your-Head kind of official. Not a Party-Having, Gift-Receiving, People-Saying-What-A-Cute-Couple-They-Made kind of official.
Nick felt the need to sit down.
"So what do you think about this party they want to throw us?" he asked Monroe once he'd settled himself at the table. He'd been about to go directly into brainstorming ways to get the party canceled when he realized that because they hadn't talked about it, Nick had no idea how Monroe felt about any of this.
And worse, Shirley Wurstner's card had brought something home for Nick. Something that he hadn't even considered. The very reasons that Nick thought he could ignore this whole thing – that it wasn't a human ceremony, that there was no human record of them being anything but roommates and friends, that only wesen would acknowledge the relationship at all – might be reasons for Monroe to take it very seriously.
Monroe was wesen. These were his traditions. Unbelievably, sometimes Nick forgot that. He'd gotten so comfortable with Monroe that it was impossible to think of him as 'Other.' So, at times, Nick found himself disregarding completely the fact that Monroe was a different species. Was anything but Nick's dorky best friend with super strength.
"I think it'll be great," Monroe said in response to Nick's question. "I've never really gotten to know the less violent wesen, you know? They're not exactly laid back about blutbaden, even wider like me. This could be a great chance for me to make some friends, and for both of us to show everyone we're not bad guys. And hey, it's your day off, so we could go out later and register at a few places. Maybe I'll get those wineglasses I want, and I know you want those arrows with the barbed tips. I see you look at them every time we pass the sporting goods store."
So Monroe was excited about the party. Ok then. They would have a party. Nick still had no clue what Monroe thought about their marriage… mating… mate-iage, but the party he could do, if it would keep that happy look on his friend's face. "I can register for arrows?" he heard himself ask.
"Dude, you're a Grimm, and your lebenspartner is a blutbad. I'm pretty sure we could register for a broadsword and someone would get it for us."
Monroe blushed. "Life mate," he translated, suddenly finding his plate very interesting.
An awkward silence stretched between them, and Nick felt like he had to do something – anything – to make things right again. But he just had no idea what it was he should do. Should he be Monroe's buddy, and punch him in the shoulder, make some sarcastic remark? Should he wrap his arms around Monroe and hold him, like he would have with Juliette, back when things had been good and he'd wanted to marry her?
Did he want that with Monroe?
I already have that with Monroe, he forced himself to admit. Everything… the shared dinners, the full knowledge of what it meant to be a Grimm and a cop, the late night talks, the hours he spent openly reading one of his Grimm books in the living room while Monroe played his cello, working in Monroe's garden together… All of those things were what he'd hoped for in his relationship with Juliette.
But then he'd become a Grimm, and he'd hidden it, and then he'd stopped hiding it, and she thought he was crazy, and then she was in a coma, and it just all fell apart.
He'd never considered Monroe as a potential partner before. Nick didn't usually do more than look at other guys, and he hadn't even thought of looking for someone new after the mess with Juliette… but now that he'd been forced to acknowledge the possibility he found he had surprisingly few objections.
Ok, so he'd never had sex with another man. And the thought of kissing another man, of holding Monroe like he would a woman, made his nerves jangle. But it was a nervous jangling, not an I-Don't-Want-To jangling. More of an I've-Never-Done-This-Before jangling.
But everybody had to do it for the first time once, right?
After all, if Monroe were a woman, Nick wouldn't be hesitating at all. And did it really matter that his partner had a different set of genitalia than he was used to? It was supposed to be all about the person inside. Wasn't that what all the romantic songs, and books, and whatever the hell else said?
He might not know what he was doing with this whole gay thing (or was he bisexual? He was pretty sure he still liked boobs…), but he did know how he felt whenever Monroe was in danger. Or even just when Monroe was busy and couldn't spend the evening with Nick.
Nick really, really cared about the person inside the wolf man. The only thing that kept life with Monroe from being the marriage Nick had always assumed he'd have was the lack of physical intimacy and Monroe's distinct inability to have two point five children with Nick.
But it was Portland. They could adopt. In fact, they'd be ideal candidates for taking in an orphaned wesen, and a wesen child would be so much safer with them than a human baby who may or may not one day manifest as a Grimm…
Forcibly shaking himself from his thoughts, and feeling like he was about to jump off a cliff rather than take a few steps across a kitchen, Nick strode to Monroe and laid his hand on the blutbad's shoulder.
"Monroe, I – "
"Nick, it's ok," Monroe interrupted. "We're both still getting used to… you know."
"It's not because you're wesen," Nick blurted, suddenly worried that Monroe would think Nick was afraid of him or something.
Monroe's eyes widened. "I didn't think it was. It's because we're both guys, right?"
The relief Nick felt at finally talking about this was so immense that he vowed he'd never avoid talking about his feelings with Monroe again. Of course, he'd probably break that vow by next week, but he'd try.
"Look, Nick," Monroe went on, turning in his seat so that he could look up at Nick. "This is pretty weird for me too, you know? I mean, my summer camp confessions aside, it's not like I have a whole lot of experience being with other men. Not in a relationship kind of way, anyway. And we weren't even dating, and now you're my lebenspartner, and that's a pretty big deal. And you're a Grimm, and I'm not even really sure what all of that is going to mean for us. Some people aren't going to like it."
"That we're both men?" Nick questioned, his mind already whirring with plans to crack down on gay bashing in the Portland area.
Monroe snorted and gave Nick a look that implied he was a huge idiot. "No. Wesen have been over that for centuries. We've all got radically different mating practices, so throwing in different sexualities doesn't really rate a reaction. What some people won't like is that a wesen is mated to a Grimm. Nick, don't you get it? This has never happened before."
Nick paled, his stomach dropping into his toes. He'd thought their mated status would protect Monroe, not put him in more danger than ever. His gun hand twitched.
He'd hesitated before, but now he wrapped his arms around Monroe, holding him in an awkward embrace. Monroe was twisted in his chair, his face pressed into Nick's chest. He stiffened in Nick's arms, and Nick almost pulled away, an apology on his lips, but then Monroe relaxed and slid one arm around Nick, and Nick relaxed too.
This isn't so bad, he thought, daring to run his fingers through Monroe's hair. Monroe hadn't combed it yet, and sleep had left his dark brown locks sticking out at odd angles. Nick smoothed the cow licks down, and then smiled when they sprung up again.
Not bad at all.
In fact, it was pretty nice. Monroe was warm, and he smelled good – like beeswax and old books, and something musky. And there were vague stirrings below Nick's waist that approved of another body being pressed against his. This both relieved Nick and made him mildly panicky, because it was good to know that Monroe could inspire that kind of reaction, but now was probably not the time and what if Monroe noticed?
He'd been hard around Monroe before, of course. They spent too much time together for it to just never happen. But this time was different. This time, Nick was acknowledging that Monroe was the cause, and in fact had probably been the cause a few times in the past. Nick just hadn't wanted to face it then.
He rubbed the back of Monroe's neck, tangling his fingers in the downy hairs there, and nearly choked on the feeling of bloodthirsty protectiveness that rose up within him.
"I won't let anyone hurt you. Not again," Nick promised, his voice dark with deadly intent.
"I know," Monroe answered.
He held Nick tighter.
"Look," Monroe started again, his voice muffled against Nick's chest. "I don't want you to feel like you have to force yourself to… you know, because you don't. If you just want to be friends who live together, and be free to date other people, then you should do that."
Nick's guts leapt into his throat and started dancing the rumba.
"Do you want to date other people? Rosalee, maybe?" Nick asked in the steadiest voice he could muster.
He was unprepared for Monroe's reaction.
The blutbad flung himself out of Nick's arms, making Nick stagger with the sudden shift in weight. The chair flipped over, and they wound up facing each other from across the room, Monroe's eyes red-rimmed as he did the deep breathing routine that helped him control his woge.
"Sorry, sorry," Monroe muttered in between breaths. "Damn. Sorry. Just. It's a blutbad thing. See, we only ever take one lebenspartner. Wecan only take one. It doesn't matter if you die tomorrow, or move out and get back with… get with someone else. You're it for me, Nick. And what you just suggested… well it just sort of woke up the beast within, so to speak."
Nick was utterly floored.
"And… and you knew that when we did the ceremony. When we took the vows."
"Oh god. Oh god, you tried to tell me no, and I didn't listen."
There was a ringing in Nick's ears.
"I was there too, Nick." Monroe's voice was rough with the edge of a growl, yet Nick didn't feel threatened. "You can't take all the blame for this. You didn't listen, yeah, but I could have tried harder to stop you. Or said I'd go with those other blutbaden."
"No!" Nick took a step toward Monroe, then stopped, not sure if Monroe would ever want to touch him again, not with what Nick had forced him into. "I couldn't leave you with them. I told you that night, even if I'd known, if you'd had the time to explain, I'd have done it anyway. I'd have claimed you to save you from them."
Somehow, that seemed to calm Monroe down. His eyes were turning a more usual brown, and his stance was relaxing. Seeking to dissipate the tension that had suddenly sprung up between them, voice cracking with emotions he didn't want to name, Nick joked, "So you're stuck with me now, huh?"
"Yeah," Monroe confirmed, his wolf completely under control once more. "I called Rosalee and told her the next day. It wouldn't be fair to anyone for me to date someone else, not when my baser instincts will always see you as my mate." He looked down. "But I still mean what I said. Just because of… I don't want you to feel pressured or trapped or whatever…" He trailed off, eyes filled with desperation looking everywhere but at Nick. "How is this going, by the way? I really can't tell."
Monroe was worried about Nick feeling trapped?
Still laughing, he closed the distance between them, so he could sling a friendly arm around Monroe's shoulders, tears of mirth streaming down his face.
Monroe leaned into the contact, and it gave Nick hope.
"I can't promise anything, because I'm just… not sure about a lot of things. But I do know that I care about you. A lot," Nick told Monroe. For once, he was the one who was blushing. "So, I'd like to try. If that's ok?"
He'd been going for honest sincerity, and was worried that he'd just come off as sarcastically demanding. But Monroe's gently voiced response showed that he understood, he got it, because Monroe always got Nick.
"Yeah." Monroe's smile was back. "That would be pretty ok."
There was an awkward moment where neither of them seemed sure if they should turn their buddy hug into something more, or back away. Nick finally solved the problem by announcing that he was going to go get dressed so that they could go register for gifts wherever it was Monroe wanted to do that.