"You'll be sorry. Just wait!"

Monroe just grinned and waved at the obnoxious little punk as he scurried away, tail between his legs – metaphorically speaking. The threat was the weak snarl of a retreating kitten, spitting and hissing at a larger creature it recognized to be a much greater threat than itself. The only acknowledgement of which it was worthy was Monroe's mocking smirk and a shake of his head as he turned and went back into his house.

Monroe soon forgot the encounter as the afternoon wore on, and the neighborhood children made their way to his door in a constant procession of princesses, monsters, and whatever cartoon characters the commercial overlords had been pushing most heavily in the past few weeks. Monroe had practically bought out the candy supply at his local grocer's, and still realized about an hour before the trick or treaters would all be in for the night that he was running low.

When the latest group left his porch, Monroe ran into the kitchen and began foraging through his cupboards for things he could use to supplement his dwindling supply. A package of expensive organic crisped rice treats, an expensive package of salt water taffy he'd been saving for his own personal use, and a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies – also organic, and also expensive – hastily parceled out in plastic wrap, were all he found. Still, it might help him get through an extra couple of dozen trick or treaters or so. He finished loading the added stash into his candy bowl, just as the doorbell rang again.

"Happy Halloween," he said cheerfully as he opened the door, smiling and holding out the bowl of treats.

The bowl was unceremoniously knocked from his hand, candy and cookies scattering everywhere across his living room, as a very large, very clearly irate man pushed his way past Monroe into his home, slamming the front door shut and then pointedly locking it with his free hand. Monroe's eyes were drawn instinctively toward the man's other hand, watching for further attack – and his stomach dropped when he saw that the guy had taken Nick's mace from the porch and was now holding it in a tightly clenched fist as he advanced on Monroe.

"Wait a second, dude," Monroe advised, holding up both hands in a conciliatory gesture. "You really don't want to do this, okay? You don't know what you're getting into..."

"Oh, I really think I do," the man snarled, shoving Monroe again so that he stumbled and fell back against the wall. "You're the guy who thinks it's cool to pick on a little kid because he doesn't like how he's playing in his yard! My little kid!"

"Your little – what…?" Monroe shook his head, frowning with confusion – then his eyes widened with slowly dawning realization. "Oh… that was your kid…"

"Yeah, it was," the man sneered, holding up the mace menacingly as he moved in closer, not allowing any room for escape – not that escape was high on Monroe's list of priorities at the moment.

This guy was clearly irate, yeah, and thought he had a good reason to be, but he had no idea how far out of his league he really was. He was challenging a blutbad in his own territory, backing him into a corner and threatening him and just pushing and pushing until Monroe felt the edges of his control fraying, his frustration mounting with the overwhelming desire to push back, to answer the challenge in no uncertain terms.

Priority number one at the moment was pretty much just not tearing this asshole apart.

"Yeah, well, your kid didn't look so little to me," Monroe pointed out, "definitely not compared to the little girl he was pushing around in my front yard, and stealing candy from! So if you want to hand out anti-bullying lessons, maybe you ought to start at home!"

"I don't care what he was doing, you put your hands on my kid!" the guy yelled, shoving Monroe again, hard. "Who do you think you are?"

Monroe closed his eyes for a moment, fighting against age old instincts screaming out in indignation that he had tolerated this insult even this far. His voice was low, warning, when he replied in slow, measured words, "I think I'm the last guy you need to be messing with right now."

When he opened his eyes to look up at the larger man, he knew they were glowing red, and hoped that it might be enough to scare the guy away before things got any worse, before he did anything he'd regret. It was Halloween, and that might prove to be in his favor, might make the guy wonder later, in the safety of his own home, whether or not he'd simply imagined the whole thing…

"What, because you're a blutbad?" the man sneered, and Monroe's train of thought abruptly derailed. He blinked, startled, as the man smiled nastily, revealing too many teeth, that as Monroe watched elongated into razor sharp fangs, as the man's eyes narrowed into a cat-like almond shape, his face covered in silky dark hair. "Guess who's not afraid of the big, bad wolf?"

Monroe watched with wary eyes as the man – a jygerkatze, he could now see, and it should have been obvious, shouldn't it? he thought, the way the boy had toyed with the little girl, teasing and tormenting her – lifted the mace in his hand with a derisive hiss.

"I don't even need this," he declared with a nasty smirk. "Since we're being so honest with each other."

He stepped back just enough to hurl the heavy weapon from his hand, with enough strength to send it hurtling through Monroe's front window – then moved in close again before Monroe could move, a predatory gleam in eyes that glowed emerald green, as he held up his hand close to Monroe's face, revealing razor sharp claws.

"These should do just fine…"

When Nick's cell phone rang, he was grateful for the distraction from the weird, confusing, and frankly creepy kidnapping case he was working on – not that he thought a single personal call would get him off the hook. He frowned when he saw a familiar number on the screen, stifling an impatient sigh as he took the call.

"What's up, Bud?" he asked, trying not to sound as tense and frustrated as he felt. "And I'm sorry, but keep it quick, okay? I'm working."

"Yeah, of course, Nick. Quick is no problem. This'll only take a minute. I'm kinda busy, too, sorting candy with the kids, you know. They just got in from trick or treating, and you never can be too careful, can you? With the weirdos out there who poison candy and stick razor blades in apples and all that kind of crazy stuff, so you know, I'm gonna be busy too for a while. So I'll keep this quick…"

"Please." Nick closed his eyes for a moment before meeting Hank's amused, questioning expression and rolling them instead, unable to suppress a smile despite his mood.

"Sure, of course," Bud continued, seemingly oblivious to Nick's tone. "It's just that my boy just came in from trick or treating, and he told me he saw something I figured you should know about. He was going by Mr. Monroe's house – you know, the blutbad? He's your friend, right? At least rumor has it you guys are friends. At least. Not that I listen to gossip, but you know, word gets around, and…"

"Wait… at least?" Nick echoed. "Who's saying – I mean, why do they think…" He stopped himself, shaking his head. "No, never mind. Just… tell me what happened. What did he see?"

"Well, it was the last stop on the pre-set trick or treating route I gave him. It's a little out of the way, but he insisted because you know Mr. Monroe, he always has the best candy and his house is all decked out for the holiday and he's really not so bad, you know? For a blutbad. He's always nice to the kids, and my kid wouldn't hear of the idea of not stopping there…"


"Well, it might be nothing. I hope it's nothing, but… just as he was going up the walk, something crashed through the front window and hit the grass, and… and he says there was a lot of yelling and growling and it sounded like a fight was going on, and… I know he's a blutbad and he can handle himself, but he's not exactly the most popular guy in the Wesen community these days, and I'm not sure whether this is a cop thing or a Grimm thing, but I'm pretty sure it's one or the other… or both, and you know, either way… I figured you'd wanna know…"

Nick frowned, his stomach tightening into an unpleasant knot as he visualized the situation Bud had described. As vague as that description was, Nick couldn't imagine a possible scenario which could be a good thing, and still fit with the few details Bud had given him.

"Nick?" Bud's voice on the line, breaking the silence, was anxious and uncertain.

"You thought right," Nick assured him. "Thanks for calling me. I'll let you know what I find out."

When Nick arrived at Monroe's house, the first thing he noticed was that all the outdoor lights were off. He frowned, troubled; that wasn't exactly a good sign. It was getting late, but not so late that the random trick or treater wouldn't still show up, and judging by his earlier gleeful state over the holiday, Nick was pretty sure Monroe was the type to leave the lights on and welcome trick or treaters as late as possibly could.

When he reached to knock on the door, only to have it fall open under the slight pressure of his hand, Nick's stomach clenched uneasily, and he swallowed hard, his free hand automatically reaching back to hover over his service weapon.

He turned off all the lights and shut down for the night, and yet left the door standing open? No, I don't think so… something's very wrong here…

"Monroe?" he called out as he entered the house, instinctively keeping his voice low, and closing the door carefully behind him. "It's Nick… I'm coming in, okay? Monroe?"

The distinct lack of any answer only served to intensify his fears, and Nick took out his weapon, holding it warily in front of him as he advanced further into the house.

"Monroe? Is everything okay? I got a call…"

His voice trailed off as he stepped into the living room and stopped short, eyes widening as he took in the scene of destruction before him. Pictures had been torn from the walls and thrown to the floor where they lay in shattered piles; the lovely antique wooden hutch was lying over on its face, the various knick knacks it had held scattered around the floor, some broken, others mercifully unscathed.

Monroe was crouched on the floor over the wreckage of what had once been one of his favorite clocks, but had now been reduced to splintered pieces of wood and wire. He was focused, intent on carefully gathering the pieces, though Nick couldn't imagine why; even his untrained eye could see that the thing was definitely beyond repair.

But Nick wasn't worried about the clock at the moment; there was blood on the floor near the doorway, and more small drops of it trailing across the floor, to the place where Monroe was struggling to pick up a tiny coil of wire from the carpet, cursing under his breath as his hands shook too hard to get a grip, and he dropped it for what clearly wasn't the first time.

As Nick drew closer, he could see the source of at least some of the blood – a spot near Monroe's temple where he'd apparently taken a blow to the head.

Nick had to wonder if said blow was possibly affecting his friend's behavior.

"Monroe?" He spoke cautiously as he closed the rest of the distance between them. "Hey, Monroe, look at me…"

Monroe did not respond, and Nick continued until he reached him, stretching out a careful hand to touch his shoulder.

Monroe's reaction was instantaneous.

He spun around with a fierce snarl, eyes glowing red and fangs extended – but the snarl broke off into a whimper as Monroe winced, his arm dropping to clutch across his stomach as his features faded back into their human form, contorted into a pained grimace.

"Whoa, whoa, it's just me," Nick soothed him, unafraid, crouching down and reaching out to Monroe again despite his rather discouraging initial response. "It's just me… it's okay…"

Monroe looked up at him, clearly surprised to see him there. "Nick? When did you… I mean… what are you doing here?"

"I got a call," Nick explained simply. "Said there might be trouble here. I didn't mean to startle you, I… I called out when I came in…"

Monroe shook his head, raising a hand to press against his ear and answering in a strangely halting, shaky voice. "I… I didn't hear you. My head is – it won't stop ringing, and… I thought maybe he… came back…" Monroe's gaze dropped, and he seemed to notice the broken pieces of the clock again, reaching down for them hastily. "I've got to… to clean up this mess, to…"

"No, no, you don't," Nick insisted gently, reaching out to catch and stop Monroe's trembling hands in his, waiting until Monroe looked at him again, a little dazed and bewildered, before going on. "Don't worry about the mess. I'm worried about you, right now, okay? Come away from this and talk to me for a minute, all right? Come on…"

Monroe was unusually quiet and pliant as Nick helped him get to his feet, troubled by the slight right-sided limp that made the movement more difficult than usual for his friend. Carefully, Nick got him to the couch and sat down with him, holding onto his hand as he flipped open his phone and made a quick call to Hank, asking him to send paramedics to Monroe's house.

"Can you tell me what happened?" Nick asked, even as he spoke reaching up to turn Monroe's head a little and get a better look at the injury on his head, which now, in the better light, didn't seem very deep at all, and had already stopped bleeding. "Who did this?"

"I – there was this kid, and…"

"A kid did this?" Nick was incredulous.

"No, his dad." The trace of impatience in Monroe's voice was actually immensely reassuring to Nick, as was the dismissive wave and roll of his eyes. "I – I guess I pissed him off, and…"

"The dad or the kid?" Nick frowned, confused.

"The kid… or… both, actually. The kid was being a little jerk, picking on this little girl, and I made him leave, embarrassed him I guess, so… he went home and told his dad, and…" Monroe shrugged a little sheepishly – then winced with pain. "Ow."

"Where else are you hurt?" Nick asked, running his hands briskly down Monroe's arms and then I pissed him off, and…"

"The dad or the kid?" Nick frowned, confused.

"The kid… or… both, actually. The kid was being a little jerk, picking on this little girl, and I made him leave, embarrassed him I guess, so… he went home and told his dad, and…" Monroe shrugged a little sheepishly – then winced with pain. "Ow."

"Where else are you hurt?" Nick asked, raising Monroe's arms a little so he could look him over more closely.

He froze, alarmed when he saw a spot on Monroe's side where his shirt had been literally shredded, four long gashes separating the fabric into strips. Once he had carefully removed the destroyed garment, Nick cringed at the sight of the matching four long gashes in Monroe's flesh, though they didn't seem to be very deep, and were crusted over with dried blood.

"Must have been some fight," Nick observed.

Monroe let out a little scoffing sound, tinged with painful self-directed disgust. "Fight isn't really the word. The fight was over in like… two seconds. After that, he was just…" Monroe stopped for a moment, a slow swallow visible in his throat as he closed his eyes as if trying to shut out the memory. "… playing. Took his time, like… making his point. He had me down, and he knew it, and he… he wanted to prove it, I guess."

The mental image that evoked was horrifying; Nick could just picture his friend, already beaten and pinned and completely no longer a threat, with some monster just toying with him, cutting slowly into him and relishing his pain and fear, taking pleasure in it…

"What was he?" Nick asked, his voice low and dark.

"A jygerkatze." Monroe shook his head, his arms falling to cover his torso in uncharacteristic self-consciousness. "I should have known, the way the kid was with that little girl today. Just… tormenting her, for kicks. Cruel." He shuddered a little, looking away, and though he was trying to sound casual, his voice shook a little as he concluded, "Typical."

Nick was relieved that Monroe seemed to be hearing him more easily now, and was also becoming clearer and more coherent. That was a good sign. But the bruises that were beginning to bloom on his face and torso, the way he was still shaking, the haunted, fearful look in his dark eyes… those were not so good. Nick felt anger rising up within him, mingling with his relief and concern.

"So… he's some kind of cat Wesen, then?"

Monroe gave him a warning, wary look. "Think less housecat and more black panther," he clarified. "You don't want to tangle with this guy, Nick. He's a real predator. He's dangerous."

"Yeah, well, so am I," Nick muttered. "When some creep messes with someone I care about… especially you…"

Monroe closed his eyes, lowering his head wearily, and Nick instinctively shifted closer, putting his arms around him carefully and pulling his head down onto his shoulder. His heart twisted painfully when he felt the shaky flutter of Monroe's still-trembling hands rising to rest on his back, then clenching almost desperately in his shirt.

"It's okay," Nick said softly. "It's all right now."

Monroe nodded against his shoulder, but didn't raise his head, and Nick allowed him to hide his face there as long as he wanted, aware that it was certainly difficult for him to come to terms with such a violent, overwhelming defeat, and in the sanctuary of his own home as well. Nick knew that the wolf in Monroe was by nature territorial, and accustomed to being the dominant Wesen in any given room; this had to be traumatic and humiliating and frightening in ways that Monroe wasn't used to dealing with, and Nick couldn't begin to understand.

Not nearly soon enough, and all too soon, Nick heard the sound of sirens on Monroe's street, and saw brightly colored lights flashing outside the window. Reluctantly, he drew back, with one last tender touch against Monroe's cheek, before standing up and straightening his shirt, putting back on his professional mask.

No one, not even Hank, knew that he and Monroe were anything more than good friends.

No one aside from the Wesen rumor mill, apparently, anyway.

"I'm going to give my statement to the police," Nick assured Monroe in a quiet, private tone as a knock on the door was heard. "And then I'm going to go find this guy." He paused, a cold smile forming on his lips as he concluded, "And I'm going to show him what a real predator can do."