Title: Why Sanity Isn't Overrated
Fandom: Grimm
Rating: R
Pairing: Nick/Monroe
Summary: While on a case, Nick accidentally inhales a Wesen drug, leaving Monroe to deal with the wacky consequences and some rather unexpected advances.
Word Count: 11,316
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my own words.


Ah. The refreshing scent of Guatemalan roast brewing in the pot. Monroe didn’t usually drink a second cup of coffee mid-morning, but Nick had kept him up until 2:30am last night translating and helping him seek a mysterious bracelet hidden somewhere in his museum vault of a trailer. That place was incredible. They would have found the recalcitrant piece of jewelry sooner if there weren’t so many awesome things overflowing everywhere. Literally everywhere. Every little cranny was filled with some or other wondrous object that urged Monroe to break off his search and scrutinize each fascinating detail while regaling Nick with back-story and other important minutiae. Not that Nick appreciated Monroe’s freely given wisdom. Every time Monroe looked up, either Nick’s eyes were glazed over or he was flat out not looking at Monroe at all, his face buried in drawers and dusty corners. Granted, Nick had recruited him to find a bracelet, not explain the history of Western Europe, and he was tired, probably eager to get to bed, just like Monroe, and if it weren’t for all of Monroe’s tangents, they would have finished much earlier. He just couldn’t help himself sometimes.

His phone buzzing interrupted his excited reminiscing. Unknown number. Huh. Maybe it was a gig.

“Monroe,” he answered.

“This is Renard.”

Monroe’s pleasant buzz froze up, shrieked, and dove three feet into the ground. He set down his coffee on the kitchen counter, spine automatically jerking to attention. He’d only met Nick’s boss and discovered that he was Portland’s king a few weeks ago. Portland had a king. Who knew? He’d heard the rumors and a few more than rumors, but royalty had become a bit passé since the last century. Many were little more than mob bosses now. Not that that this didn’t make them worthy of the utmost consideration. Any of them could have Monroe murdered just for looking at them funny or not paying them the proper respect, like King Renard here, which is why he winced more than a little every time Nick referred to him simply as “the captain”. Even after he told Nick what Renard was, Nick still refused to call him anything royalty-related, saying that it felt silly to do so and that, technically, Renard was not his king, so he wasn’t obligated to do anything of the sort and would Monroe please stop cringing. I already checked your house for bugs. My boss is not spying on you.

Monroe didn’t buy it. Not for a second.

“Your Highness,” he replied to the captain. King Renard! Ah, hell, he’d been the captain or simply Renard in his mind for so long now thanks to oblivious Nick. Fuck it. As long as he didn’t slip in His Majesty’s face it wasn’t too atrocious, though of course, he couldn’t call him “Your Highness” in front of humans. That would create confusion and infuriate the king, and, although so far, Renard appeared to be a benevolent king, relatively speaking (he actually supported Nick in his Grimmhood, check that out), he was still very, very intimidating. Best not piss him off, ey?

“What can I do for you?” Monroe continued.

“Nick got into a bit of trouble with his latest case. I’m sure you’re aware of it. He’s not injured, but he was drugged by this powder on the scene. I need you to you pick him up and take care of him.”

“Drugged how, sir?”

Suddenly, Nick’s muffled voice popped up in the background.

“Hey, is that Monroe? Monroe!” Nick crooned into the phone. “You should be here. This room is awesome. It’s so... so… Glittery.”

Glittery?

“Nick, please sit back on the chair,” Renard said. “Detective, sit.” To Monroe, he said, “He’s high, as you probably noticed by now.”

“Yes, sir.” Oh, Nick, what fresh hell did you get into now? “I’ll leave right away, sir.”

As soon as he arrived at the residential area Renard sent him to, he called him so Renard could meet him outside. Renard emerged a few moments later, Nick held firmly under his arm while he escorted him to Monroe’s car, which was parked half a block south of the house that constituted the crime scene (murder within the family, very tragic), per Renard’s instructions. The knot in Monroe’s stomach tightened as he watched them walk toward him, for Nick kept trying to wriggle out from under Renard’s arm. He tried an odd sidestep, then crouched down reminiscent of John Cleese’s silly walks, leaving Renard’s arm hanging in midair for a second before the man yanked Nick back up with both hands, gripping him tightly even when Nick saw Monroe, his smile widening with childish glee.

“Monroe!” he cried so loudly that the whole street probably wondered what the hell was that bleating.

“Detective,” Renard hissed at him. “Keep it down.”

“But look, captain. It’s Monroe. He never visits me at work.”

When they were a few feet away, Renard let him go and Nick practically flew into Monroe’s arms, encasing him in a giant hug that blew the breath out of him, for Nick seemed determined to fuse their bodies together until they became a single, bizarre creature.

“It’s so good to see you,” Nick said, crooning as if he hadn’t seen Monroe in half a century.

“It’s good to see you, too,” Monroe said, reaching behind him to remove Nick’s death grip from his back. If it weren’t for his superior strength, he wasn’t sure he would have managed it.

“He’s been like that for the last forty minutes,” Renard said once Monroe managed to loosen Nick’s hold on him, though his friend insisted on leaning against him as if Monroe were a warm cushion. Not that Monroe minded that much now that he had renewed access to oxygen. Nick felt quite good against him. Very good, in fact. It was so rare to get to feel this much of Nick at once. Usually he just got Nick’s hand on his shoulder or arm, maybe a little more body contact to push each other out of harm’s way in the midst of a particularly violent case, but what fun was that? It wasn’t anything like the way that Nick was reclining against his chest now, body comfortably limp, his face resting just beneath Monroe’s neck, his soft hair brushing Monroe’s chin so pleasantly. Truth be told, if Renard weren’t right freaking there shaking his head at Nick’s over-enthusiastic display, Monroe might have let Nick indulge for an extra second or two.

But he was, damn it all, and Monroe couldn’t risk giving himself away, although, if Renard did in fact bug his house or his car or both, he probably knew already. And surely the king wouldn’t object? Would he? Why would he object? His and Nick’s lives were none of his business, not that royalty ever cared to stay out of their subjects private affairs, although this was a very informal kingdom Renard had set up.

“Have I ever told you,” Nick mumbled into Monroe’s shirt, “that you are like a giant teddy bear?”

“Okay,” Monroe said, unwrapping Nick’s arms from around him. “Time to get off.”

He straightened out Nick, taking a step way back, but as soon as he let go, his friend dove toward him again, so Monroe grabbed his wrists and held them fixed in front of him, his own arms fully extended.

“Which is weird,” Nick continued. Why was he still talking? “Because you’re a wolf, not a bear. You’re a teddy wolf.”

He giggled at his own horrible joke, his head dropping forward, shoulders shaking with laughter. Monroe glanced at Renard, who was watching them with an amused expression that made Monroe want to duck his head, crawl into a tiny burrow, and die of embarrassment.

“Please tell me there’s a way to fix this,” Monroe said. “Um, sir.”

“I’ve called a friend of mine,” Renard said, pulling a slip of paper from his pocket. “Her name is Sara Vigoreaux. She will know how to rectify this situation. This is her address.”

He handed the paper to Monroe, who, unfortunately, had to release one of Nick’s hands to take it. Nick, of course, took advantage of this by rushing toward Monroe again and reclaiming his chest as a pillow. Why did he keep doing that? Monroe couldn’t be that comfortable.

“I also have the powder Burkhardt inhaled,” Renard continued, giving Monroe a quarter size Ziploc bag of blue-black powder. It was double bagged, the interior bag rolled up as if to ensure that the contents wouldn’t be spilled accidentally. Monroe held it gingerly in his hand, hoping for Nick’s sake that it wasn’t toxic beyond the obvious loopy effects.

“Be careful with that,” Renard said. “Apparently, it was lying open on a shelf and Nick sneezed while standing too close to it, getting some of it up his nose.”

Nick got this bad just from that little? What sort of evil drug was this?

“Call me when you know what this thing is,” Renard continued.

“Yes, sir.”

Renard returned to the crime scene, leaving Monroe with the task of stuffing Nick into the car all by himself, but Monroe felt weird about asking His Majesty to help out. However, getting Nick into the car turned out to be easy. As soon as Monroe opened the passenger door, Nick dove inside like an excited child rushing into his favorite ride at the amusement park.

“I love this car!” he practically shouted, opening the glove compartment. Monroe closed it, only for Nick to open it up again and start taking things out.

“Nick, would you please leave those in there?” Monroe asked, trying to pry his car license and insurance card out of Nick’s hands.

“But it’s your stuff. I like your stuff. Hey, it’s a map of the US.” He dropped the documents to grab the map. Monroe snatched them up and slipped them into his pocket. “I only have maps of Oregon and Washington State in my car. But we could drive across the whole country with this one. Yeah, I know. It’s a little crazy. But let’s do crazy. Crazy can be good sometimes. Crazy is how I met you while looking for little red riding hood. Now that is crazy. I got to be the huntsman. Isn’t that cool?”

“Uh huh. You can hold on to that map there. Just let me put your seatbelt on ‘cause I know you’re not going to do it.”

Monroe felt like he was coddling a child as he pushed Nick back on his seat to slip the seatbelt across his chest, tugging his arms out of the way in the process. This friend of Renard’s better have a solution for this, for if Nick was stuck in this ludicrous state forever or if the powder was poisonous…

Monroe’s chest clenched, a sudden fist clutching every muscle in his torso, stealing his breath. Best not think in those terms. Vigoreaux was going to fix Nick. She had to. If she was friends with Renard, she had to be the best, right?

Nick kept rambling as Monroe looked up her address on his iPhone.

“And I met the Pied Piper. Well, he’s not a piper. He’s a violinist and he doesn’t wear pied clothing. Yes, I did look up the definition of ‘pied’ all by myself. I do actually do some of my own research.”

“That’s great. Good job.”

Vigoreaux lived across town. Not so great. As he pulled into the street, Monroe prayed that whatever has messed up Nick wasn’t time sensitive.

“That was sarcastic, wasn’t it? I can do some things on my own, you know? And I started learning German. Had I told you that? I don’t know if I’d told you that.”

“Yes, you did. Last week.”

“Oh, I did. Awesome. That doesn’t mean I’m going to fire you from your translating duties. This language is so complicated. It’s unbelievable. So I’m still going to need you to do that You know how much I appreciate that, right? You are the most wonderful friend in the whole world. I really don’t know why you put up with me sometimes. I’ve put you in danger so many times. I almost got you killed.”

Halfway through that ramble, Nick’s tone had started to wilt. The map book clattered to the floor as Nick slumped into his seat, dropping his head on the headrest, former bliss fading into sadness on his face.

“But I’m okay,” Monroe said, quick to reassure Nick with a comforting smile. “I wouldn’t take any of it back, Nick. I helped you out of my own free will. It’s not like you held a gun to my head. Well, that first time with the missing girl you kinda did. I mean, I didn’t know what you would do to me if I said ‘no’. And you kept barging into my house. But we’re friends now!” Monroe added, his voice lightening to an almost manic level when Nick covered his face with his hands, shoulders slopping forward. “I wouldn’t let you not let me help even if you tried.” That sentence could have gone better. “Consider now, for example. You enter a Wesen’s house without me for backup and look what happens to you.”

“You know I love you, right?”

Monroe’s foot jerked down on the accelerator, bumping his speed up by eight miles per hour before his brain quit short-circuiting long enough for him to release it. His hands, however, appeared to have fused to the wheel.

“What?” Monroe asked, his voice sounding like a strangled chicken.

“I love you, man,” Nick hugged Monroe, burying his face into Monroe’s shoulder. “You are the best friend anyone could ever have.”

Oh. That kind of love. Right. Not that Monroe had been hoping for any love other than… that..

“Thanks,” Monroe said, beating down the painful lump that had heart had squelched into. He steered with his left hand, using his right to pat Nick on the head. “I love you, too, buddy.”

And that was the last time he would probably ever speak those words to Nick, who was too befuddled to understand what Monroe truly meant by them.

“Um,” Monroe said after a while during which Nick had yet to let go. “Nick? Could you get back in your seat, please? Well, you are in your seat, but could you also not be trying to get into mine? It’s a little tricky to drive with you glued to my side.”

“But you’re so comfy.”

Okay. Monroe wasn’t certain what to make of that.

“I’ve also almost hit you with my elbow twice shifting gears. Your head is in the way of my arm.”

Nick just snuggled closer, the little imp.

“Nick, I’m sorry, but you really have to move. Maneuvering is kind of an important element of driving, in case the drug fried your driving skills from your brain. Not that you should be doing any driving at present or even be thinking about it in case you get any ideas. How about you just slide back into your seat, huh?”

Monroe reached up to pat Nick’s head, but wound up smacking him with his elbow when a jackass in front of him decided that breaking at the last minute to make a turn, without even announcing his intention to make said turn, was a good idea, forcing Monroe to shift into neutral.

“Ow!” Nick exclaimed.

“Sorry! But I did warn you just now.”

“Alright, I’ll move,” Nick grumbled, unwrapping himself from Monroe, which didn’t prove to be as welcome as Monroe expected, for his side now felt cold and bereft and strangely lonely.

“Where are we going?” Nick asked, grabbing the map book again. “Boston? San Francisco? Death Valley? Ooh, I hear that a museum in Chicago has a skeleton of a T-Rex named Sue. Wouldn’t it be cool to climb on top of it and roar from T-Rex’s head?”

Oh, crap. Nick was giddy again.

“They’d cart you off to jail before you got as far as its knees,” Monroe said, cringing in horror at the very notion of desecrating such a valuable paleontological treasure. “Which would be terribly embarrassing. You’re a cop. You can’t get arrested. None of your coworkers would ever let you live it down.”

“Alright, I won’t try to climb it,” Nick said, surly. My God, he really did sound exactly like a seven year old child. What kind of evil drug was this?

“So where are we going? Are we going to your house? Because there is some really fun stuff we could do at your house.”

Like what? Well, Monroe always found fun stuff to do, but Nick seemed to have different opinions about stamp collecting and being hunched over a telescope waiting for the right star to show up.

“Or we could go to the woods,” Nick continued. “I haven’t been to the woods with you since that one time with Holly. Now that would be something.”

What the hell was Nick going on about? However, as much as Monroe wanted to know, he knew better than to ask.

“We’re going to visit someone who will make you feel better.”

“But I feel great. I haven’t felt this good since… Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever felt like this. Have I ever felt like this? No, I don’t think so. Is it me or am I talking really fast? I am talking really fast. Have you ever heard me talking this fast? I should have tried this sooner. This is fun.”

This exasperating insanity continued for the remaining twenty minutes it took to drive to Vigoreaux’s house. By the time Monroe finally pulled up into her driveway, the dormant desire to run wild and destroy was pushing at the forefront of his consciousness. The house’s location didn’t help. They were out in the sticks where the houses were far apart from each other and bordered by woodland at the rear, woods that would be filled with deer and hares, all yummy and squishy and so very easy to rip into and—

Stop!

No no no, he could not be having thoughts like this. He had been reformed for eight years and had not given in to temptation save for that one time with Angelina, and he was not going to relapse again just because he wanted to murder the man he loved for being an insufferable twit for the last half hour. Stepping outside of the car to escape Nick’s blathering, he sucked in a deep, cleaning breath. When that didn’t help, he tried another.

And another.

By the time he finally managed to re-bury his homicidal tendencies, Vigoreaux had noticed their arrival and went up to the car to greet them. She looked to be in her early thirties, had dark, brown hair hanging down to her waist around her shoulders, and wore a green long-sleeved shirt with a curling flower pattern at the bottom that wouldn’t be amiss for a night out.

“Hello,” she said, smiling, tone pleasant. “Monroe, I take it?”

“Yes,” Monroe said, rushing to the other side of the car to control Nick, who had just discovered the locking mechanism and was scurrying out of it as quickly as a cat.

“Hi,” Nick said, grinning at Vigoreaux and holding out his hand. “I’m Nick. It’s super nice to meet you.”

Vigoreaux took this exuberance in stride and shook Nick’s hand, which shook on for far too long in a cheap imitation of a comedy routine.

“Hi,” she said, allowing this abuse. “I’m Sara.”

She pronounced her name with a Spanish language stress.

“Was he this cheery on the ride over?” she asked Monroe, who almost broke down into hysterical laughter at the mention of that nightmarish drive.

“You have no idea,” Monroe said. “This looks mild by comparison. Though he did get serious for a moment. That was weird. Nick, you can let go of her hand now. You can’t take it home with you.”

Did that come out weird? It sounded weird. Well, he was having a trying day. That excused him, right, even if he had just met Vigoreaux—Sara—who didn’t know him or his quirks? At least Nick finally let go of Sara’s hand, a sheepish smile on his face.

“Sorry,” he said, ducking his head for a second. Dear God, that was adorable. Oh, no. Nick was not going to soften him up by being adorable. Stop thinking about how adorable Nick is!

“No worries,” Sara said, holding her hand out to Monroe. “I know we’re already acquainted with each other’s names, but…”

“We’re still missing the handshake,” Monroe said, taking her hand for the polite amount of time while Nick bounced on his toes beside him. “I don’t usually beg so soon after meeting someone, but please tell me you have a way to fix him. I have the powder that did this in the car. Just give me a sec.”

“Fix who?” Nick asked. “You’re not talking about me, are you? Because I feel fantastic.”

“I’m sure you do.”

After taking the bag out, he handed it to Sara, whose eyes flashed with recognition as soon as she saw it.

“When he had his serious moment,” she asked, “did he seem more drunk than drugged?”

“Yes. That was exactly it. He had the whole ‘tortured soul’ thing going. I thought he might have crashed, but then he pepped up again as if nothing happened.”

“Tortured soul?” Nick asked, frowning at Monroe.”I didn’t sound like that. Wait. What are you talking about?”

“I’ll tell you later, okay?”

“Hey, this is really out in the woods. Could we go for a run?”

No man’s mouth should be allowed to look so devilishly sexy when they grinned. And Nick didn’t even know that a run in the woods was the Blutbad equivalent of dinner and a movie.

“Not now, Nick. We need to talk to Sara first.”

“Right. Sorry.”

“Why don’t we sit down on the porch?” Sara asked.

“That would be great,” Monroe said. “Thank you.”

It was a lovely porch, the same type that Monroe had at home, only without the trees for concealment and actually set up with comfortable rocking chairs that faced the tree-lined street. Monroe tried to seat Nick in one of them, but he wouldn’t stay down for more than a second, his legs fidgety and aching to move. He preferred to pace around the porch instead, gawking at the flowers hanging beside the windows. Monroe gave up and sank into a chair, but he couldn’t get comfortable with the stress of watching Nick tensing his spine, so he leaned forward, his elbows on his thighs.

“Normally,” Sara said, “I’d be offering you drinks now, but I’ll put it off for now since I figure you would want to know what this is first.”

“How horrible is it? It’s not poisonous, right? I mean, other than turning people into babbling madmen.”

“No, it’s not poisonous.”

Thank God.

“It’s not addictive, either, so you don’t have to worry about him hunting down this bag and snorting it all. Nor are there any other repercussions except for the crash. That, though, does get pretty ugly.”

“That doesn’t sound as good. How ugly are we talking about?”

“Basically, it’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had.”

Oh, yay. Why did Nick have to sneeze at the worst possible time?

“Expect him,” Sara continued, “to be curled up in bed all day tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? It’s not going to die down today?”

“Well, there’s no telling exactly when it will fade, but since it’s already 2 in the afternoon and he inhaled it about an hour ago, the deadline won’t be any earlier than 10pm. Maybe.”

“Ten? I’m going to have to deal with this craziness until then? Isn’t there anything you can give him to make it go away faster?”

“Faster?” Nick asked. He plopped down on a chair and started rocking maniacally. “No, don’t take it away faster. I don’t want this to ever go away. I feel fantastic. Except for that second before I hugged you in the car. But that was a fluke. Hey, this rocking chair is fun. Why don’t you get a chair like this? This would be right up your alley. Not that I’m saying you have old man tastes. Or you, Sara. Crap, this thing is interfering with my thought processes a bit.”

“A bit?” Monroe asked.

“Okay, a lot, but no more than being drunk. Which is a lot. Okay. But it’s drunk with energy. And I have the day off. It’s not like I need to write up paper work or hunt down a Spinnetod. It’s like a mental vacation.”

If you were utilizing the word “mental” in the British sense of “total batshit insane”.

“Oh, you were saying something, weren’t you?” Nick asked, frowning between Monroe and Sara, who was squeezing her lips together to suppress laughter as if this were all somehow hilarious. Alright, maybe it was to an outsider who didn’t have to suffer through Nick’s repetitious ramblings for the next eight hours.

“Sorry for interrupting,” Nick said. “Carry on. I mean, you don’t need my permission to carry on. I don’t mean to sound like a judge instructing the counsel to—“

“We get it,” Monroe cut him off before he could say “mean” one more time.

“Well,” Sara said, smiling at Nick with all the patience of Mother Theresa. “The good news for you,” she turned toward Monroe, her smile slipping into chagrined apology, “and the bad news for you is that there isn’t anything that can quicken the process. Just like any other drug, it needs to work its way out of Nick’s system on its own.”

Oh God no. Monroe slumped into the chair, rocking back a full foot, awash in misery. He resisted the urge to bury his face in his hands and weep, although not doing so meant that he had to suffer watching Nick jerking back and forth on that damn rocking chair like a demented bunny. Nick was lucky Monroe loved him so much, because else Monroe might be inclined to throw all his hard-earned Wieder training off a cliff and maul him to death.

“Can we go for a run now?” Nick asked.

“This is private property, Nick,” Monroe said, shutting his eyes when he started getting dizzy.

“Oh. Forest Park, then? Or Mt. Hood? We’re close to Mt. Hood, aren’t we? Come on, my legs need to move.”

The chair smacked against the porch railing as Nick jumped to his feet.

“Sorry,” he said, chagrined, stabilizing the chair with a shaky hand before rushing down the stairs and pacing around the front yard.

Sara leaned in close to Monroe, speaking in a low voice so Nick wouldn’t hear.

“I’m not necessarily advocating the forest run,” she said. “But he does need to burn off some of that energy.”

Of course he did.

Monroe was so screwed.

||||

“Alright,” Monroe said to Nick once he finally stuffed his jittery self back into the car. “We can go to Forest Park.”

“But Mt. Hood is right h—“

“Forest Park is smaller, so if you run off on me, it will be easier for me to find you.”

“I’m not going to get lost. I’m not ten years old.”

“Really? Then you’re doing a pretty impressive job at acting like one. The similarity is uncanny.”

“Ha ha. You’re hilarious. I just have a lot of energy. Haven’t you drunk too many cups of coffee and ended up bouncing all over the place? That’s how it is. Kind of.”

Hardly. Monroe didn’t recall any of his coffee being laced with cocaine.

“You can run around in Forest Park just as well as you can in Mt. Hood.”

“Then why can’t we go to Mt. Hood? It’s right there. Look. There’s a sign for it just up the road. Look. It’s right in front of you. Just turn right. You missed it!”

“Nick, what did I just say?”

“What?”

“We are going to Forest Park, not Mt. Hood. You just want more room to get lost in.”

“I’m not going to get lost.”

“Nick, didn’t you say earlier that this drug you inadvertently consumed, through no fault of your own, of course, despite the likelihood that sticking your face too close to strange substances is a bad idea, I’m not blaming you, I’m just saying. Anyway, didn’t you say that it’s interfering with your thought processes?”

“A little. I haven’t turned into an idiot despite what you’re implying.”

“But you did say that you’re basically as coherent as a drunk person.”

“So?”

“So maybe we should trust the judgment of the person who isn’t mentally impaired right now.”

“I didn’t say I was mentally impaired.”

“Right. And I bet you’ve never pulled over someone for a DUI, either.”

“Of course I have.”

“And why was that, exactly?”

“What does any of this have to do with going to Forest Park instead of Mt. Hood?”

“I’ve told you why twice. Why don’t you want to go to Forest Park?”

“It’s boring.”

“How is it boring?”

“It just is.”

Uh huh. Nope. Not acting like a child at all.

They went to Forest Park. Nick did not cease complaining about this until they parked by one of the entrances, then he ripped off his seatbelt to run out like a wild man from those wacky medieval stories. Monroe took off after him, calling out for Nick to wait, but Nick just kept on running, a 5’11’’ child who didn’t even care to stay on the trail.

See?! This is precisely what Monroe had spent the whole drive warning him not to do. But of course Nick wasn’t going to listen. Oh no. Why be sensible and stay on the wide, smooth trail when you could dive right into the trees with their roots tripping you up and their branches smacking you if you didn’t spot them until the last second and the thick scent of pine, fir, and oak mixed with the aroma of freshly fallen rain, mud splashing on his shoes as he ran through the undergrowth, his quarry before him, zipping through the trees, sneaking a glance behind him to see how far behind lagged Monroe, his heightened heartbeat and panting breath the headiest, exhilarating sound, singing in Monroe’s blood, urging his legs to run faster, curling his lips back in a fanged smile—

Oh no no no. Hell no. He was not going there.

Monroe stumbled against a tree, tripping his feet up on a fallen branch, and fell flat on his face. Ow. He-d broken the fall with his left arm and had landed on a soft patch of grass, so at least he didn’t have any lasting injuries to complain about, but he could still hear the universe laughing uproariously at his expense.

“Nick!” he called out, not expecting a response, and, guess what? He didn’t receive one.

This sucked. There was no point finding a more intelligent way to put it. It was pure sucky suckiness. He sat up beside the tree, slumping against the trunk, eyes shutting with a cleansing sigh that did little to serve its purpose. If he weren’t certain that Nick wasn’t interested in him and was too crazy right now to enact any seductive schemes, Monroe would swear that he was baiting him. The forest. The chase. It hit too damn close to home. Then again, did Nick know about this particular Blutbad behavior? Had any of his ancestors marked it down in one of the books? Monroe didn’t recall seeing it in the Blutbaden volume (a rather thick one, too, not that he was surprised with everyone’s obsession with the Big Bad Wolf) and he certainly had not explained it to Nick. Nick didn’t know exactly what Monroe and Angelina did in that park other than eating a rabbit and that was more than fine with him.

Speaking of, where did Nick go, anyway? Shit. Monroe was supposed to keep tabs on him. This is why they didn’t go to Mt. Hood. This right here. Nick would run into Washington State before Monroe noticed. Okay, so that might be a bit further than Nick could run. He couldn’t have gone too far now. Then again, Nick has as much energy in him as a demented bunny, so he really could be on the other side of the park by now, especially since Monroe couldn’t smell him. Oh, joy.

Monroe pushed himself to his feet on knees that had no right to ache this much. There was an intermittent breeze blowing from the northeast. Maybe Nick was downwind and that was why Monroe couldn’t catch his scent. But that direction was perpendicular to the one Nick had last been running in. Monroe decided to try the latter direction first, just in case.

Nothing.

Two humans walking a dog.

More nothing.

Wait! Human and a hint of something more. Yes! It was Nick! He had kept on running straight. Monroe ran toward him and found him ambling about on shaky legs, panting hard, skin flushed with sweat and eyes glazed with exhaustion.

“Well, look who’s tired himself out,” Monroe said when he caught up with him.

“Hey,” Nick said, face brightening with a huge grin. “Monroe. What happened to you? You were supposed to catch me.”

“I wasn’t aware we were playing tag. And don’t you dare say you were thinking of fetch.”

“Not even if I’m the stick?”

Uh…

“Then I’ll have to catch you,” Nick said, and ran straight into Monroe, knocking him to the ground, the grass not quite as cushiony this time. Oh, come on! His body was not built for this kind of abuse any more. Although having Nick on top of him felt very nice. Not abuse-like at all. Especially not with the way that Nick was pressing himself along Monroe’s front, thighs to thighs, chest to chest, face only a few tantalizing inches away, his breath warm on Monroe’s neck as Nick slid down, still grinning. and Monroe had only a second feel Nick’s hardness on his hip before Nick kissed him, hard and breathless and sweet and wonderful, everything Monroe had ever wanted.

And drugged and out of his mind.

“Stop!” Monroe cried out, pushing Nick away. “Stop. We can’t do this.”

“Why not?” Nick whined, pawing at Monroe’s chest, eager fingers tugging at his shirt buttons.

“You’re drugged. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

“Of course I do. I’ve wanted to do this for months.”

Months? Nick had wanted him for months? How had Monroe not noticed this?!

“You liked it,” Nick continued. “You kissed me back.”

“Because you caught me off guard. Which I know was part of your nefarious plan to se-seduce me.”

Nick had actually been trying to seduce him? Why the hell didn’t he let Monroe know when he wasn’t high on Wesen crack?

“Nefarious?” Nick frowned, looking hurt. Oh, crap.

“I didn’t mean it like that. You snuck up on me, that’s a—“

Nick kissed him again. The little sneak had sweet talked him into loosening his hold on his shoulders. Goddamnit!

“Nick!” Monroe said, pushing him off again. “Stop.”

“But why can’t we—“

“Because I would be taking advantage of you.”

“No, you wouldn’t.”

“Yes, I would.”

“Just because I’m high doesn’t mean I don’t know what I want. I’m not a kid.”

It appeared that Nick had moved on to the teenaged stage. At least he was maturing.

“No one said you were a kid. Look, Nick, you are not thinking clearly right now. And speaking of, you’re the one who first admitted that fact. Why do I have to keep reminding you of it? So can you please let me up so that we can talk about this? Please?”

It was the second “please”, along with the begging tone that accompanied it, that convinced Nick to slide to the side. Usually, Monroe would be above pleading in such a piteous fashion, but Nick was straddling him, his erection jutting into Monroe’s stomach, making Monroe’s own body perk up in an equally enthusiastic “hello”. Nick’s beautiful face was mere inches away, telling him he wanted him, and Monroe couldn’t do a damn thing about it. This was too unbearable! Why did the universe hate him so much?

“Alright,” Nick said as he climbed off of Monroe, dejected, eight years old again. The comparison should have helped diminish Monroe’s own erection, but because his body was a sadistic bastard that didn’t care that his mind knew best, it chose to not be disturbed by Nick’s infantile behavior. God, this was disturbing.

He thought about icky things. Spiders and cockroaches and cleaning the bathroom. But the exhilaration from the run was still clasped in his skin, the phantom memory of Nick’s weight grafted onto his body, the heat of his breath wafting on his lips before that enthralling kiss.

Monroe shoved himself onto his feet, an early autumn leaf crackling under his left shoe. He pushed his hand through his hair, tangling his fingers through the locks, squeezing until his scalp stung. Air hissed through his nose way too fast, and never mind his heart rate. Now who felt drunk? He stumbled away from Nick, who stood up, picking at a leaf that had gotten stuck to the front of his left thigh. Such a lovely thigh.

Oh God.

He needed time to process this. High as a kite Nick couldn’t just jump on him and scramble all his preconceptions when Monroe couldn’t do a damn thing about them. It wasn’t fair, damn it.

“Okay,” Monroe said, aware that too many “okay”s had been spoken in the past hour. “I’m not giving you the brush off at all, I swear. I do like this. Love this. The part where you like me.”

What was wrong with his brain? It had turned into soup. Lousy soup with rubber bands mixed in with the noodles.

“But since you’re drugged,” he continued. “And again, you’re the one who first pointed this out. Can we please postpone discussing this until tomorrow when you regain all your cognitive functions? Please? I truly think that would be the best thing to do. Just so we’re both not going crazy the whole day. For the whole day. Just… Don’t look at me like that. You look like my neighbor’s German Shepherd when they yelled at him for killing those squirrels. I’m just saying… At least some part of you has to recognize that it would be much better to have this conversation when both parties are sober.”

Nick shuffled his feet, arms hugging his chest to emphasize his pouting, his face adorably yet horribly downtrodden. Good God. Was Nick trying to guilt him to death?

“Fine,” Nick said, sounding quite displeased. “I’m not going to force you to do anything, even though I’m not going to feel any differently tomorrow, but fine. But tomorrow. Yes? You better not bail tomorrow.”

Nick jabbed at the air with a raised finger for extra emphasis, the sternness of his face diminished by his bangs flopping into his eyes.

“Yes,” Monroe said. “I mean no. Yes on the talking tomorrow.”

“Good. Though I really don’t see why we can’t now. I’m not going to feel any differently tomorrow, but if you don’t want to, I’m not going to push you. I’m starting to ramble. Shit. Hey, I’m going to go for another run, then we can get food afterward. I think I’m starting to get hungry, but I’m not sure. I just need to run this off. Out. Something. Okay, maybe you’re right. I’m a little off right now. There’s reception here, right?”

Nick pulled his phone out of his pocket. Monroe checked his own. He opened his mouth to say “yes”, but Nick ran that thought over with his own.

“Yes! Good. So you don’t need to come with me. Unless you want to. But you look tired. I guess I should be tired, but I’m really not. Are you going to stay here? Or we can meet by the car. Though I don’t know when. Hey, we can get pizza. If we order it now, we can just beat the delivery guy.”

“Nick—“

“Okay, I’m going.”

Nick ran off, ignoring Monroe’s calls. Monroe started running after him, but he gave up after a couple of strides. Oh, what was the point? Nick would just get away from him again, for if Monroe had not been in form before, hell no was he in form now.

Dear God, what had just happened? He needed a long night of drinking and a tear-inducing hangover to process the last ten minutes. A night of sex with Nick would do just as well, except that he couldn’t now for the reasons that Monroe had clearly delineated to Nick. He would have cursed the universe for its sadistic timing if he weren’t terrified that it would dump another pail of ice cold water on his head. And really, this was wonderful news. Brilliant. Beyond excellent. If he didn’t have a severe case of blue balls, he would be over the moon. Whooping, pumping his fists in the air, grinning from ear to ear. But nooo.

Come on, he could last one more day. It was 3 o’clock now, so he only had nine more hours to go before Nick collapsed, unless the drug decided to torture them both for longer. Then Nick would be hung over for all of tomorrow, which didn’t promise much coherence. But then it would be over! And they could get on with… things.

After a long bout of sitting against a tree trying to collect his jittery thoughts, Monroe called Nick. No answer. Of course not. The man either hopped out of the coverage area or thought that the ring tone was a bird chirping. Why had Monroe let him go off on his own? He might have crossed the park and be roaming the streets by now.

Nick didn’t reply until Monroe had already been searching for him for ten minutes, answering with a long, loopy “hellooo.”

“Where are you?” Monroe asked.

“Somewhere. I’m not sure. I’m on a trail. It’s not as much fun, but I thought I’d give it a whirl.”

“That doesn’t tell me anything.”

“Can’t you track me? You know, hunt me down?”

Sultriness snuck into his voice and Monroe groaned, pulling the phone away from his mouth so Nick wouldn’t hear. Why was he torturing him again? Why?

“It’s not exactly like you leave your scent around everywhere,” Monroe said, ignoring Nick’s innuendo. “This isn’t as easily as it looks.”

“Would scent marking help?”

“Don’t! Whatever you’re doing or are about to do, stop.”

“But you complained that you couldn’t perceive my scent.”

“I didn’t tell to start pissing on things. Don’t put words in my mouth. And under no circumstances urinate in public. I will not bail you out of prison.”

Actually, he would, but Nick did not need the encouragement. Really, Monroe was saving him from a lifetime of mockery if he did get caught.

It took him another twenty minutes to finally find Nick, who had mercifully stayed on the trail and not appropriated this piece of woodland for himself with bodily fluids. Nick hugged him for half a minute, then skipped around (skipped, no joke) for another five. By the time they made it back to the car, Monroe wanted to close his eye and sleep right there in his seat for a month, for every single bone in his body was drained of all energy, sucked dry by the grown child bouncing next to him, whining that he was hungry. Monroe’s stomach rumbled in sympathy, making matters worse, for then Nick started comparing the sound to Monroe’s growls, accompanying his expose with loud demonstrations.

Monroe may have broken a few speed limits in his haste to drive them to the nearest fast food place just to get Nick to shut up already, except that Nick was not in the mood for Burger King. He wanted a Frosty from Wendy’s. And curly fries from Arby’s. And a huge mushroom and pineapple pizza from that pizza place all the way across town from where Monroe lived. Well, he would just have to live with Monroe’s usual pizza place and no curly fries because Monroe was not making half a dozen stops just to get him fed. The fries at Wendy’s were fine. He got a large order of fries for himself because he needed the fatty comfort food, but of course, Nick stole half his fries despite having his own portion, gulping them down as if he were knee deep in an eating contest.

But did he continue eating placidly until they got home? Nooooo.

Because two minutes after he got his precious fries (or rather, Monroe’s fries, the little thief), they passed by a children’s park and Nick gripped Monroe’s upper arm so hard that it cut off his circulation, shouting “Swings!” at the top of his lungs. Monroe was glad that at least Nick wasn’t shaking him, but dear God. Before Nick started throwing a tantrum (Monroe prayed that the drug wouldn’t infantilize him that much, but he was taking no chances right now), Monroe pulled over by the park. It wasn’t every day one saw a thirty year old man playing on the swings, grinning with glee. At least Nick’s childish behavior killed his sexual allure. Seriously, any other time for Nick to reveal this would have been perfect.

“Come join me,” Nick called at Monroe, who sat on a sensible, grownup bench a few yards away where mothers and nannies usually sat to watch their kids.

“I’m fine, thanks,” Monroe said, eating the few fries that hadn’t been decimated. He was starving. And wasn’t Nick supposed to be so hungry that it felt like his stomach was folding into itself? That’s what he’d said. Since Nick was so occupied with his swings, Monroe may have eaten his Frosty. It was going to melt, anyway. Someone should get the chance to enjoy it. Meanwhile, Renard called since Monroe had completely blanketed out about updating their situation. Fortunately, Vigoreaux had already informed him about Nick’s condition, but Monroe apologized no fewer times for his lapse, resisting the urge to shift the blame to Nick, although it was 80% his fault. But Monroe wasn’t going to involve someone else in their quarrels, especially not Renard.

Since it was well into the afternoon, there were plenty of people at the park, and none of them kept from staring. Some were subtle about it, but inevitably turned their heads as they passed by, slowing their pace to stare at Nick, those who weren’t alone commenting on it to their companion. Monroe wanted to shrink into his seat and pretend that he was only sitting there to enjoy the day and take in some fresh air, having nothing to do with the crazy man swinging away. This fiction was shattered when a dad showed up with his children and frowned at Nick while the kids pointed at “the funny man” and asked “why don’t you do that, dad?”

Time to go. With a combination of whispered cajoling and naked pleading, Monroe coaxed Nick off the swings and back into the car. Another stop by Wendy’s was required to get Nick a new Frosty, but then they went straight home. Monroe didn’t care if an Oliphant covered with pink polka dots danced the rumba across the street. He would admit no more interruptions between them and the blessed sanity of his four walls. Not that they would remain sane for long with Nick around.

In earlier occasions, they had never required more than a large pizza to get full, but now Monroe ordered two, for he suspected that Nick was going to raid that the same way he had their fries, his new Frosty, and the order of chicken tenders he had shouted at the drive-thru window when the cashier asked if that was all. And voilà! Nick ate half his pizza before Monroe finished his second slice. By the time Monroe ate said slice, Nick’s box was covered in nothing more than stuck cheese, tomato sauce, and oil residue, and Nick slumped against the couch as if someone had thrown him there, belly sticking up, head sunken into the cushions, eyes drooping. Thank God. Monroe finally found a way to knock out the Energizer bunny. He settled in on his side of the couch to finish eating his pizza in blissful peace, actually hearing what the actors were saying on Battlestar Gallactica without Nick’s rambling commentary to smother it all.

After consuming three slices of pizza, Monroe slouched back on the couch and closed his eyes, letting the space battle on the TV screen broil on, exhaustion claiming his limbs as he finally got a chance to rest.

He dozed off. While at first this might have seemed wonderful, it turned out to be quite the opposite, for when he awoke, he found Nick curled up on his left side, head lying on Monroe’s shoulder, arm wrapped around Monroe’s chest, and his legs folded on his lap. After Monroe’s initial shock and No, get off me! We can’t do this now! Get off! Get off!, he noticed that Nick wasn’t doing anything other than sit there as if Monroe were a giant pillow. Well, he guessed this wasn’t so bad. It felt quite nice. Nick was such a lovely, warm weight. His nose pressed against Monroe’s clavicle, his breath drifting on his skin, rustling the collar of his shirt, hair brushing against Monroe’s cheek. He felt so peaceful, so content, so secure.

As long as Nick didn’t try anything, maybe this would be okay. What if Monroe had never woken up? He could go with that. Just two friends cuddling on the couch. That wasn’t taking advantage, was it, especially since it had been Nick who waited for Monroe to fall asleep before making his move. Technically, Nick was taking advantage of him. Except that now Monroe was awake and he knew that Nick wasn’t in his right mind, so was it really okay if Monroe needed to do so many mental cartwheels to justify this?

Oh, crap.

Gently, he grabbed Nick’s left wrist, but the instant his fingers touched Nick’s skin, Nick curled around him even tighter, clutching Monroe’s side.

“Nick, I have to get up.”

“Why?” Nick whined, kissing Monroe’s neck.

“Nick, we talked about this.”

“Please stay a little longer.”

Each of Nick’s words thrummed on Monroe’s shoulder, his breath ghosting up his neck, so warm and soft.

No. This was not happening. Monroe yanked Nick’s arm off and wiggled out from under his legs to jump across the room, smacking into his desk. Nick stared at him from the couch, frowning, looking startled and so very bereft. Oh come on. He hated sounding like a fifteen year old, but this was not fair.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Monroe said, fleeing.

The bathroom door safely locked behind him, he slumped against it, dropping his head into his hands and yanking at his hair. He resisted the nearly overwhelming urge to knock his head against the door, because Nick would hear it and it would hurt in the long run. One mentally impaired person was enough, thank you. Six more hours. There were Six more hours left until Nick maybe went to sleep. Maybe. How was he supposed to survive six hours of attempted seduction when all he wanted to do was—

No! Don’t even go there.

He would just have to find something else to entertain Nick. Like… Um… Cleaning the house. Or running in the park across the street (without arousing Monroe’s instincts). Or rearranging the furniture.

Or maybe Monroe should just hide out here until tomorrow and take a marathon of ice-cold showers.

Unfortunately, a narrow 5’x10’ bathroom was hardly riveting enough surroundings for six hours of self-incarceration. After twenty minutes of sitting on the floor listening to Nick shuffling around the house, Monroe dragged himself upright, resigning himself to the fact that he better get out there before Nick burned down the house. It wasn’t the likeliest scenario, but Monroe wouldn’t put it past him in his condition.

Facing the door, he grabbed the doorknob, steeling himself for whatever new bewitching madness Nick had schemed up. He sucked in a deep, cleansing breath. Then another.

Right. Time to go out.

As the door swung open, smacking the wall when he let it go, it occurred to him that it might have been a good idea to ascertain where exactly Nick was before doing so. If he’d remembered the latest creaking of his feet on the wooden floorboards, he would have known that Nick was standing four feet outside the bathroom door. However, even if Monroe had engaged in this basic tracking exercise, he still wouldn’t have been able to predict the condition he would find Nick in, which was the reason Monroe’s grip on the door gave out at the last second.

Nick wore Monroe’s red plaid long-sleeved shirt open at the front. And nothing else.

Good God almighty.

“Hi,” Nick said, flashing his megawatt smile, flirtation written all over his face. “I was wondering if you were going to come out of there.”

Oh.

Monroe may have mumbled the word. He wasn’t sure. His brain had shorted out during the last few seconds.

So. Right. Time to recap. Nick was naked. While wearing a red shirt. Monroe’s red shirt. So his scent was on it. His scent was now on Nick.

A very naked, very… interested Nick.

And now Monroe was interested, too. His jeans were getting tighter by the second, every blood cell in his body going straight for his crotch.

Oh shit.

“You…” Monroe said. “You’re naked.”

Wow. Really? Brilliant observation, Sherlock. Of course Nick knew that he was naked. He hardly needed Monroe to point out that little factoid, did he?

“You like?” Nick asked, raising his arms and doing a small twirl to show off every inch of his glorious body.

Monroe stumbled back against the doorframe, gasping as his erection strained inside his pants. It was growing a little painful now. He shouldn’t be looking, should be averting his eyes or covering them up, or, better yet, running back into the bathroom in confined celibacy. He should most definitely not be ogling Nick head to beautiful toe (seriously, even his toes were pretty) or salivation over his erection or the gorgeous splash of red draped over his shoulders. That shirt had never looked this fine before. Monroe was never going to be able to look at it again without picturing this delicious sight.

Shit! Why was he still looking?! Look away!

“Nick, can you please put some clothes on?”

“Why? Don’t you like me like this?”

Nick’s face fell as swiftly as his arms. The guy looked crushed. Ah, hell.

“I do,” Monroe said, joining his palms together in front of his chest in a conciliatory gesture. “I really do.” So very much. “But we can’t do this now.”

“Why not? You want me. You’re hard. I can see it.”

Nick started stepping forward. Monroe rushed back, bumping his right heel painfully against the door frame as he scurried down the corridor.

“That’s a reflex,” Monroe said, then scrunched his eyes shut, realizing how dismissive that sounded. “I mean, I do want to, but not now.”

“Why not?”

Nick chased after him into the living room, then past the kitchen and the study, running Monroe in a panicked circle around the ground floor.

“I told you why,” Monroe said. “You’re drugged. You would hate me if I took advantage of that.”

“No, I wouldn’t. I’ve been so terrified to tell you how I feel, but now I’m not afraid anymore. This drug is the best thing that has happened to me all year. How could I ever hate you? I’ll be thanking you.”

“You say that now, but you don’t mean it.”

Monroe ran into the living room (again) before realizing that Nick had stopped chasing him. Hesitantly, he retraced his steps and found Nick gaping at him from beside the stairs, expression more affronted than a betrayed character in a Latin American soap.

“I don’t mean it?” Nick asked, hurt stinging his voice. “What? You think I’m making this up? That it’s just a 24 hour infatuation?”

Fuuck. Why could Monroe never get it right?

“No. I didn’t mean that you’re not sincere about wanting me. I believe that. Truly. And I really want you, too. But you’re… Right now… You know when you’re drunk how you don’t analyze consequences before taking a jump and you end up regretting something you did?”

“I’m not going to regret this.”

“I know. I know you’re certain of that. Now. But you might—Might! Everything’s possible, right?” He waited for Nick to nod before continuing. “You might no longer be so okay with me not waiting for you to return to your usual self. And I don’t want to risk that. I don’t want to potentially tarnish our relationship by taking a misstep. You’re too important to me. You’re the most important person in my life. Except my family, obviously.”

Wow. How had he managed to produce so many heartfelt words with half his blood supply in his pants? But he meant every single one of them. And hopefully, Nick would finally understand that, for he didn’t know what else he could say to convince an irrational Nick that he was truly not giving him the brush off.

Nick stared at him for a disconcertingly long while, his shoulders slumping, ducking his head to look at his feet.

“I guess you’re probably right,” Nick said.

Oh, thank God.

“I’m not thinking clearly,” Nick continued. “I should put my pants on.”

He climbed halfway up the stairs to pick up his jeans. Oh, that’s where they were. No wonder Monroe hadn’t seen them anywhere. Nick’s shirt lied on the sofa arm, but there were still a couple of items missing. With any rotten luck, Nick’s underwear would be lying atop Monroe’s bed.

“Well, first I need to,” Nick said, looking down at his erection, which hadn’t flagged a bit. “Are you sure you don’t want to watch me?”

Oh lord. Mental picture! Nick with his hand tight around his cock, arching back on Monroe’s bed, mouth open in a deep moan crooning Monroe’s name. Nick better be exuberantly grateful to Monroe tomorrow for his iron self control, because this amount of torture should constitute a breach in the Geneva Convention.

“Nick,” Monroe said, naked pleading in his voice.

“Alright,” Nick said, disappointed, yet he still tossed Monroe a saucy, little smile as he strolled to the bathroom, urging Monroe’s eyes to follow the sashaying of that perfect ass of his.

Monroe squeezed his eyes shut and turned away from the evil seductor. If Monroe’s sense of smell weren’t so keen, he would have sworn that Nick was part Ziegevolk.

When he went upstairs to his room, he revisited this theory. You know, he had been kidding when he speculated that Nick might have left his underwear on his bed. Really. Pure, masochistic, for the sake of exaggeration kidding.

Yet right in the middle of his comforter, on the spot where Nick’s hips would be were he lying splayed on Monroe’s bed, sat a pair of navy blue boxers, and they weren’t Monroe’s. Moreover, they still smelled like Nick. He didn’t even need to sniff hard at the air to perceive Nick’s glorious scent. Groaning, Monroe shut and locked the bedroom door, turned away from the boxers, and performed the most desperate jacking off ever known to Wesenkind.

A ridiculous amount of time elapsed before Monroe regained the energy or the will to return downstairs and face Nick again. Fortunately, Nick stood by his word to not accost him again. Although, now that he thought about it, Nick hadn’t actually promised anything any more than he had at the park. However, instead of sidling up to Monroe and trying to get into his pants again, they spent an afternoon filled with all sorts of fun, high-energy activities that had nothing to do with sex, like cleaning the kitchen down to the last refrigerator shelf, vacuuming the floors three times because Nick claimed that invisible dust wasn’t still lurking in the corners, checking the walls for mice because Nick swore that he heard one scratching under the floorboards when it was just the house settling and mice wouldn’t dare invade a Blutbad’s territory (but he’d given up trying to strangle Nick into reason hours ago), and yet another run in the park, but only because Monroe was two seconds away from grabbing Nick and throwing him out of the house. Letting Nick skip around unsupervised could have turned out catastrophically bad, and he did overhear a couple of leisure walkers worrying about the crazy man wandering the woods as he sat back on his front porch enjoying the blessed stillness, but as long as Nick didn’t hurt himself, he did not care anymore. 3pm Monroe would have cared. Even 5pm Monroe, as much as he fantasized about injecting Nick with a sedative. But by 6:30, all he wanted was for the sun to go away so Nick would fall asleep. Because then Monroe could go to sleep and the drug’s reign of terror would be over!

Nick finally zonked out around 11 after pretending to play Wii to the tennis game on the TV (while badgering Monroe about his lack of a Wii console). He collapsed on the bed since Monroe’s TV was in his room, but Monroe didn’t care what other ironies the world threw his way, and retreated downstairs to sleep on the couch.

He awoke the next morning to his grandfather clock chiming 10am. Groaning, he tossed his blanket over his head to muffle the overbearing sunlight, and fled into unconsciousness until the clock hammered inside his skull again. Burying his head between the pillow and the back of the sofa didn’t help this time. His body decided that it was done and that it was time for Monroe to greet the day with open arms and a smile on his face.

Screw the smile. And the day could stand with its own arms open all it wanted. Monroe was not going to run cheerfully into them. He’d slept 12 hours, yet felt like he’d only slept six.

Shit, Nick! The drug should be out of his system by now. And Vigoreaux said that that he would wake up with the worst hangover of his life. Not good. Monroe forgot about the comfy sofa as he rushed upstairs, careful not to make too much noise in case Nick was still asleep.

He wasn’t. As soon as Monroe tiptoed to the open bedroom door, he heard Nick flop over on the bed, an injured whine dragging from his throat.

“Nick?” Monroe murmured

“Please tell me you have painkillers,” Nick moaned, voice muffled under the comforter.

“Of course. Hang on. I’ll be right back.”

Monroe rushed back with the painkillers and a glass of water, but when he returned to the room, Nick jerked upright, supporting himself on his left arm, and said,

“I feel sick.”

Monroe set the glass and pill bottle on the floor and grabbed the trash can, running to Nick’s side in case he threw up before he had time to reach the bathroom. Nick waved it away, starting to shake his head, but he instantly grew still, scrunching his eyes shut.

“No,” he said. “I don’t feel like throwing up.” He collapsed on the mattress, then rushed back up. “Oh God, that’s worse. I have this nausea stuck in my throat and head, but it’s not going to come out.”

“You sure? Maybe you should try. It might help you feel better.”

“No. I never throw up when I’m drunk. My body hates itself.”

Monroe set the can on the floor beside the bed in case Nick was wrong and picked up the water and pain killers. Nick took them gratefully, downing the whole glass while he grimaced, his skin so wan, dark circles raised under his eyes. Monroe regarded him carefully, worried at the sorry figure Nick cut leaning against the wall, his left arm huddled between it and his body, looking like a battered road sign that had been rammed into by a car. Did he remember what happened yesterday or did he really think this was just another typical hangover after a drinking binge? And what if his attraction to Monroe had been a pipe dream? Was if Nick didn’t feel any more than friendly feelings for him anymore? Monroe’s palms started to sweat, fear quickening his heart beat.

Stop it! he told himself. Nick is hurt. That’s more important. And a drug didn’t invent feelings that hadn’t existed in the first place. Rather, it amplified them, right? Right?!

He didn’t have much time to wonder, though, for soon Nick dropped his head into his hands, hunching over like a flu stricken armadillo.

“God, I’m so sorry,” he said, just as if he had butchered Monroe’s beloved pet in front of him and made shoes with its hide. Yup. Memory had been restored (with a side of shame, by the sound of it).

“It’s okay,” Monroe said, shifting on the bed beside Nick before abruptly stopping himself, realizing that shifting just made this appear even more awkward.

“No, it’s not. I accosted you. I… I k-kissed you when you didn’t want me to. Shit, I chased you around the house naked. I’m a horrible person.”

“You’re not.” Monroe rubbed Nick’s left shoulder. “Well, you certainly could have handled propositioning me better, but you were drugged. You weren’t rational at the time. It’s not your fault.”

“It is. You don’t have to say that to make me feel better. I never wanted you to find out that way. If you ever found out. I didn’t want to ruin our friendship.”

Monroe’s heart did a merry thump thump. Yes!

“You didn’t,” Monroe said, grinning like a maniac who had just been accepted into super-villain school. “I mean, I liked it. I like you.”

Nick raised his head, peering at Monroe with wide eyes, one of his adorable perplexed frowns scrunching his brow so prettily.

“You mean that?” he asked, hope wavering his voice. “You weren’t just saying that to pacify me?”

“No. I was trying to pacify you, but I really did mean it. I’ve liked you for a long time, too. Honestly, I had no idea you liked me back. I was keeping a close watch for signs, too. At least, I thought I was.”

Nick slid his hand behind Monroe’s neck.

“I’m rambling,” Monroe said, gaze slipping down to Nick’s grinning lips. “Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

This time, their kiss was just the right tone of warm and blissful, and Monroe felt no shame in enjoying his fill of what was willingly given.

Only one thing kept it from being the most perfect kiss he’d ever had. A detail, really. A few seconds in, Nick pushed him away, scurried to the edge of the bed to grab the trash can, and threw up every drop of fluid in his stomach. Monroe rubbed his back until he was done, too happy to even consider being offended by Nick’s timing.

“Sorry,” Nick mumbled once he could breathe again.

“Don’t worry about it.”
.

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