Disclaimer: See initial chapter.
A/N: Thank you to those who've left reviews. I shall reply soon, please forgive me for being slow to respond. Reviews are greatly coveted for this chapter as well.
The sound of fighting breaks through the bald fear that has Monroe entombed in its cruel clutches, and he pries his eyelids open. The effort it takes him to do this leaves him gasping for air, and Monroe blinks sluggishly to clear his vision.
His senses and reactions are off; the battle sounds miles away rather than a few feet from where he lies, sprawled out at the foot of a great redwood tree – roots digging into his stomach and limbs.
The Hexenbiest doesn't sound familiar to Monroe, and he strives to keep his eyes open and to focus them on the fight that is happening almost on top of him. It's like he's a member of a macabre audience to a strange, violent play. Blows, which would be fatal to mere mortals, are exchanged in an odd, dancelike fashion.
He can't tell who's winning, and he isn't sure who he wants to win, though his heart tells him that it should be Nick. That, if Nick wins, Monroe will be saved, enemy or not.
"Tell me who sent you," Nick grunts even as he parries a blow.
Monroe wonders where the Grimm had stashed the medium-sized dagger that he's wielding at the unknown Hexenbiest even as his eyes slide shut and he fights to open them once again. In the split second that his eyes were closed, the battle's moved to somewhere outside of his immediate vision, and Monroe strains to hear the exchange.
"No one sent me," the Hexenbiest hisses, "you and this Blutbad here are an abomination to the entire Wesen community, taking up like liebenden."
"Sorry." The word comes out like a huff of air as the breath is knocked out of the Grimm, but Monroe knows the man is far from sorry. "I don't speak German. You're going to have to translate."
"An abomination, blamage," the Hexenbiest shrieks, and then Nick falls, directly in front of Monroe, and his eyes struggle to refocus so that he can see more than just a blur of browns, greens and grays.
The witch has the Grimm pinned, his own weapon is being pressed against Nick's throat, and Monroe thinks that he can see a thin line of blood trickling from a superficial wound. Then the scent of it hits him seconds later, and Monroe cannot contain the growl that rumbles up from deep within him. It isn't a growl of protest, but one of longing. The blood smells succulent – more potent than the blood of other Wesen or animals that he's supped on in his youth.
Monroe can almost feel it, warm and smooth on his tongue – like a decent wine. He can almost taste it – spiced and briny, and soothing, like Nick. He's never wanted something more, and his eyesight grows sharper. The burning in his veins lessens, and he can feel sensation returning to his fingers and his toes.
He lifts his head, not even an inch, and it makes his vision swim. A wave of dizziness threatens to render him unconscious, but Monroe breathes through it. The scent of Nick – cinnamon, coffee and sandalwood – grounds him.
The Grimm's hair brushes against Monroe's forehead as Nick fights the witch. It's soft and Monroe longs to run his fingers through it, maybe rip a few of the silky locks out and keep them hidden somewhere on his person so that he can feel Nick with him even when the Grimm is absent, or rub the strands through his fingers and carry Nick's scent with him everywhere he goes.
It's a confusing mixture of lust and hatred that Monroe feels for Nick as the man continues to fight against a foe that has him pinioned on his back, like a helpless turtle who hasn't the presence of mind to retreat into the safety of his shell. Pride and disgust war for dominance inside of Monroe as Nick manages to wrest the blade from the Hexenbiest and reverse their positions.
The Hexenbiest is revealed in all her hideous beauty, letting her human façade fall in the midst of combat. She's a living, breathing nightmare. Her face is twisted in malice and she claws at Nick with misshapen nails, sharper than the talons of any cat, domestic or wild.
Red flashes in Monroe's peripheral vision; Nick clutches at his thigh, but he doesn't loosen his grip on the witch who screeches in frustration. Her voice sounds like glass shattering in an explosion, and it makes Monroe's insides cringe. Nick shakes his head as the ear-splitting scream disorients him.
Nick grits his teeth and clamps his bloodied hand over the witch's mouth. He bears down on her throat with his dagger, letting it cut into her neck. The pressure is not enough to kill the Hexenbiest, but it's enough to cause blood to bead along the wound.
Monroe wonders why the Grimm doesn't kill her outright. It's what the man should do. It's what he, were their roles reversed, would do. Monroe's eyelids grow heavy and he can no longer hold his head upright. He lets it fall, his chin rams into an upturned root. The adrenaline rush that he felt during Nick's fight with the Hexenbiest – as though the two of them were somehow twinned; their hearts and wills combined – crashes and all he can feel now is liquid sulfur running through his veins as the poison continues to spread.
He knows that there's an answer somewhere, it's niggling at the back of his mind, remaining just out of cognitive reach. He's read about it in a book, some olden lore that had made him laugh aloud at the time. He can even picture the book – bound in worn leather, wrapped up in a brown paper bag – knows which shelf he left it on at Rosalee's shop. The words, written in spindly, black ink, spin and whirl as he's just about to picture them. His mind is failing him, and Monroe can no longer hold onto what little control he has over his true nature.
It's with red, beastly eyes that he regards Nick. If only he could move, then he could wrench the Grimm off the Hexenbiest, free the Wesen from their mutual enemy's control. They could then revel in the spilling of the Grimm's blood.
"Tell me how to help him," the Grimm's words are harshly spoken.
"You'll just kill me," the Hexenbiest says.
"I'll kill you if you don't tell me how to save Monroe." The Grimm presses the knife deeper into the witch's neck, and her blood flows freely.
The witch laughs, a high-pitched, and half-mad cackle. "You won't do it if I tell you."
"Try me," the Grimm's voice is dry, and he lets up a little on the knife.
"The only way to save your precious Blutbad is to give him some of your own blood," the witch says, "and by this time, he's so far gone, that he's no longer the man you've come to know and trust."
Monroe can see the change in the Grimm. His green eyes don't grow dim in defeat, instead they darken in determination and his jaw locks in place.
"How?" the Grimm asks.
"How do I need to give him my blood?" The tip of the dagger digs deeper into the witch's flesh and she flinches.
"You must let a few drops spill from each of your wrists into the wounds in the Blutbad's neck and back, and then you must let the beast taste of your blood. At least a cupful," the Hexenbiest explains, and there is malicious laughter in her voice.
"Provided that he doesn't take more, you should survive. By now your edel Blutbad is so far gone that he might just kill you, and then, with any luck, once he comes to his senses, the bastard will end his own life in a fit of remorse. I'll have killed two birds with one stone." There is no doubting the pride in her tone.
Much to his surprise, Nick ends the Hexenbiest's life quickly, slicing cleanly through her throat and then rolling her body to the side. He wipes the blade on his jeans, cleansing the witch's poisoned blood from it.
The last thing that Monroe sees before he passes out, is Nick leaning over him, and he thinks that this is it, his life is about to end at the hands of the Grimm. The Hexenbiest was right, Monroe has lost control, all save for a little slice of conscience that he's been able to hold onto throughout this insane nightmare.
Nick would be crazy to give him a taste of his blood, because Monroe isn't certain that, once he samples the Grimm's blood, he'll be able to stop himself. Control is elusive at best.
Monroe doesn't feel the removal of the poisoned arrows from his back and neck, nor is he aware of Nick's blood dripping into the wounds from the Grimm's sliced wrists. The next thing he is aware of, however, fills him with terror, because his lips are wrapped around one of Nick's slit wrists and his teeth are latched to the wrist, right down to the bone.
Blood – the likes of which he's never had before – is coursing down his throat in syrupy rivulets. It's hot and powerful, and Nick's heart is beating rapidly, pumping the blood even more quickly through his veins and into Monroe's waiting mouth. It's only a matter of time before that heart will slow its steady beat, and the blood will cease to come hot and swift.
Monroe is torn. On the one hand, he's never wanted anything more than this, and the lust for blood is calling to him. On the other hand, this is Nick, and there's a small part of him which is aware of what the Grimm has done for him, the sacrifice of himself to save Monroe's life.
"Go ahead," Nick's voice is rough and weak, and he raises his other hand from the ground, places it against Monroe's cheek, "take as much as you need."
There's a smile on the man's face, but he winces when Monroe's teeth lengthen just a little as the wolf inside of him takes the Grimm at his word, and he sucks and laps at the freely offered blood. It is invigorating and life-affirming, and Monroe doesn't want to stop drinking, but Nick's smile is fading, and the man's face is paling at an alarming rate.
The Grimm's hand falls from Monroe's face, landing silently on the leaf-littered ground. Monroe can see that the self-inflicted wound on the inside of Nick's wrist. A wound which Nick had given to himself to save Monroe's life. A Grimm willing to sacrifice his own life to save that of a Wesen is unheard of, and Monroe's teeth shrink and he pulls away from Nick's wrist as though burnt.
Monroe can sense his ancestors surrounding him and Nick. He can feel his grandparents' eyes boring into the two of them, even as he removes his sweater vest and wraps it around Nick's torn and bloody wrist in an effort to stop the flow of blood.
"Nick," Monroe gently slaps the Grimm's cheek, "Nick, stay with me."
"M'nroe," Nick's voice is no more than a whisper.
The smile that graces Nick's face holds unadulterated relief, and something that looks an awful lot like love. At least it looks a little like the love that Monroe witnessed between his grandparents and his parents.
Segnung, the word hangs in the air between them, and Monroe can feel his grandfather's gnarled hand on his shoulder. The approval of his ancestors is unexpected and almost too much for Monroe to receive all at once.
The words of the book, one purported to be of a prophetic nature, come back to him, and he looks at Nick with new eyes.
There will come a time when a Grimm shall gift his life's blood to a Wesen of his
choosing, and the two shalt be forever bound by heart and blood. The chosen Wesen
and the Grimm shalt lie down and sleep together in peace and love for all of eternity.
Mates by choice of blood freely given and equally freely taken, they shalt, side-by-side,
fight against evil until the end of time.
(Gottschalk, verses 152, 153)
"What?" Nick's brows furrow in confusion and he hoists himself up on his elbows.
"You saved my life," Monroe says.
Nick's mouth twists in a look of self-deprecation, and he runs the hand not bound in Monroe's sweater vest through his hair, making it stick up on end.
"Yeah, about that, sorry that it took me so long. I'm afraid that I don't have quite your depth of expertise where poison is concerned. I just hope that this," he gestures between them, "doesn't have any long-lasting or deadly repercussions."
"Depends upon what you think of as a repercussion," Monroe says, and then he leans in, sniffs at Nick's neck, and then brushes his lips against the Grimm's.
Nick shivers and his breath hitches in his throat.
"Oh," he says, and when Monroe settles his weight over the Grimm's hips, careful not to press against the shallow wound on the outside of Nick's thigh that has long since stopped bleeding, Nick repeats the exclamation, "Oh."
Nick smiles, his lips parting and moving along with Monroe's. Monroe isn't even aware that he's still in his Blutbad form until Nick's free hand brushes against the bristles along his cheek. Monroe concentrates; willing himself to change, but Nick shakes his head.
"Please don't," he says. "I kind of like the rugged look." The smile on the Grimm's face lets Monroe know that, though he's teasing, he means what he says.
"Aren't you afraid?"
Nick shakes his head. "You could have killed me just now, but you didn't. I trust you, whether you're in your true form or not. And, if this," he nips at Monroe's chin with dull, human teeth, eliciting a shiver in the Blutbad, "is a long-lasting repercussion," the Grimm shrugs, "I'm okay with that."
What do you think? Good? Bad? If it's bad...not so sure I want to know. Unless you say it in a constructive fashion. Thanks for reading.