Spoilers: 2.21, The Waking Dead (a bit)
Synopsis: After learning the truth about Nick's world, Juliette goes to Hank for advice, the only other person she knows who is aware of the Wesen world without being a part of it.
A/N - I know I shouldn't say this, but I'm honestly not sure about this one. It started out as one thing, turned into another half way through writing it, and I feel like I was rushing to get it done before the new episode aired (rendering it, presumably, AU). I almost didn't post it, but having spent so long writing and rewriting it, it seemed a waste not to. As always, comments and criticism is very welcome.
Disclaimer - I don't own Grimm
Juliette hesitated at the door to Hank Griffin's home, wondering whether she was doing the right thing. After all, she didn't know him that well. They had met several times, he and Nick were friends as well as partners. There had been various police functions, dinners out and meals at their house, once or twice he had come over to watch a football game. He was far from a stranger, but he wasn't the first person she would normally go to for advice.
However, the first person she would go to normally would have been Nick, and since this was kind of about him, that wouldn't work. More recently, she might have gone to Monroe, but that definitely wouldn't work in this situation either. Nor would any of her other friends, work colleagues and random acquaintances; most of them would assume she had gone insane, the few that didn't would believe her because they already knew what was going on, and that again made them not the right people to talk to.
Hank Griffin was the only other person she knew who might have an inkling of what she was going through. And if he did, for the time being at least, that made him her best friend.
She raised her hand slowly and knocked on the door, then she placed both hands into the pockets of her jacket and waited. Maybe he wouldn't answer. She was reasonably sure he was home, she recognized his car outside and the lights were on, but he may not have heard her knocking.
In her head, she began to count slowly, promising herself that if the door was still closed when she reached ten, she would leave. That way it was all down to fate.
Five...six... she sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and began to chew on it gently. Seven...eight... there was no sign of movement inside the house. Nine... she turned away and began to walk back down the step. Ten. Behind her, she heard a creak of the door handle as the door opened.
She turned slowly, until she was looking at him. Puzzlement in his expression turned to concern and he stepped outside, he was wearing nothing but socks on his feet.
“I thought that was you. Are you okay?”
“I...” she stopped, not sure how to answer, her voice stopped dead as her throat closed up.
Hank came fully outside and down the steps toward her. “Come inside,” he said. “It's freezing out here. You're shaking.”
Juliette allowed him to pull her gently toward the house and close the door behind them.
“This is really good.” Juliette almost whispered as she sipped the mug of tea warming herself by holding it tightly in both hands.
They were sitting at the kitchen counter, The air still smelled of the remnants of Hank's dinner.
“It's Rosalee's recipe,” he told her. “It's supposed to be calming, though it never seemed to work for me. I thought it might be worth a try, you looked a little bit on edge.”
Juliette almost smiled at that.
“You want me to call Nick? Or I could take you home myself?”
She shook her head. “I drove here. I just needed to talk to you,” she said.
He frowned, obviously puzzled. “Okay.”
“Monroe, Rosalee and... this other guy, they showed me something,” she said.
Hank nodded, confusion turned to clarity as he realized where the conversation was heading. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “I was there when they called Nick and told him.”
“So you do know, about... everything?”
He nodded again. “Yeah I do. Have done for a while now.”
Juliette took another long sip of her tea. “Nick told me you knew, but... You're not one of them, are you? Or another Grimm?”
“Nope, just a regular human being, same as you.”
“You have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say that.”
Hank shrugged. “Actually, I think I might do.”
“But how do you cope, never knowing who is and isn't one of these things? I mean, anyone could be one, your neighbors, people you work with...”
They had moved into the lounge, Juliette sat in an armchair while Hank took one end of the couch. He thought carefully before he answered. He knew from personal experience that this was difficult information to cope with, and was acutely aware that saying the wrong thing at this moment could be very bad.
“Wouldn't you be better talking with Nick about this?” he tried.
She shook her head. “I did, a bit. But it's different for him. He can see them, I can't. I need to know how you manage to stay sane, never knowing if the people around you are even really people.”
“Look,” Hank took a deep breath. “Okay, I'll admit it was strange at first. Hell, it still is strange, probably always will be, but the truth is, most Wesen are actually normal folk like you and me. They worry about paying their bills, getting their kids to school on time. They're just people, despite the fur and the...”
“Fangs?” Juliette offered. “Red, glowing eyes?”
“Yeah, he takes a bit of getting used to, but he's a good guy. One of the best, if I'm honest.”
“I know. I know. He's never been anything but kind to me. But there are... Wesen... out there that aren't so good. How do I know?”
Hank sighed. There was no point lying to her. “Bottom line? You don't. Same as humans, some of them aren't nice, and they don't wear flashing signs around their necks either. They've been around your whole life, you might even be friends with one or two of them. Knowing they exist doesn't make them any more dangerous.” He paused. “Well...”
“Nothing. If anything, you're better off knowing. I mean, hanging around with a Grimm maybe isn't the safest thing to do sometimes, but if you're going to do it, it's better to understand what's going on. I've been on both sides, and knowing is definitely better.” In fact, he wasn't entirely sure he believed that. Sometimes ignorance really was bliss. But all things considered he thought he'd rather know than not.
The silence in the room stretched out just that little bit too long, and Hank started to feel uncomfortable.
Juliette blew gently on her second cup of tea, then took a sip. Her eyes had taken on a thoughtful expression.
“Juliette?” Hank said.
She looked up from her drink and met his gaze. “You're right,” she said. She seemed to have a look of clarity about her, as though she had reached some kind of epiphany.
Hank tried to keep his grin to himself, but gave himself a mental pat on the back for talking her round. Nick owed him a beer for this one.
“All the danger, everything bad that's happened to me in the past couple of years, it's all been because of Nick.”
“What? No. No, that's not what I said!”
“Oh. Well that's...” Juliette covered her mouth with a hand as she yawned. “That's what I heard. Hanging around a Grimm isn't safe. You know, I think this tea's working a little too well.” She reached over and placed the almost empty mug on the table in front of her. Her eyes flickered closed for a few seconds before she forced them open. “I think I should go home before I fall asleep,” she said.
Hank sprung to his feet, desperate to undo whatever damage he might have done. “You can't drive if you're that tired,” he told her. He fished in his pocket for his keys. “Let me take you home, you can come and pick your car up tomorrow, or I can drop it off at yours when I get off work, whichever's best for you.”
Juliette smiled her agreement and her eyes drifted closed once again.
“Come on,” he said, helping her to her feet. “Lets get you home. Hopefully you'll feel better after a good night's sleep.”
She murmured something that Hank didn't quite catch, and allowed him to lead her through the house and to the front door, grabbing her jacket on the way. By the time they were outside in the cold night air, Juliette looked almost awake again. Hank let her climb into the passenger side of his car and waited for her to fasten her seat belt before he started the engine.
“It's not Nick's fault, you know,” he said as he maneuvered the car out of his parking spot and onto the empty street. “All that stuff that happens around him. It's not like he has a choice in the matter.”
“I know,” Juliette assured him, “but that doesn't make it any safer to be be there for it.”
Hank paced his kitchen, one side to the other. Eight steps one way, turn, eight steps back. Stop, think, repeat. He needed to talk to Nick, needed to let him know what had happened. His cellphone was burning a hole in his pocket, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He could fix it. Of if not, he could at least have the decency to speak to his partner face to face in the morning.
Outside, he could see Juliette's car parked on the street. With any luck, she would be back to pick it up in the morning before he needed to leave for work. He was on a later shift, she had probably gotten an early night thanks to Rosalee's tea.
He glanced at his watch. It was long past his bedtime. That second cup of coffee after he dropped Juliette at home might not have been the great idea it had seemed at the time.
Juliette woke up feeling wonderful. The sun shone through a gap in the curtains and illuminated her bedroom. Outside, she could hear birds singing loudly She stretched luxuriously, reaching over subconsciously, as she did from time to time, to the other side of the bed. Finding it empty, her eyes opened and the memories of the previous days flooded back. Fuchsbau, Blutbad, fur and fangs. The last part of the secret Nick had been keeping from her finally revealed.
Suddenly, the nights sleep counted for nothing and she felt exhausted again.
She glanced at the clock on the dressing table, wandering vaguely why it hadn't woken her with its usual alarm. The display read 9.30. Panicked, she shot out of bed like a bullet, straight into the bathroom and turned on the shower. It was only as she stood under the hot water that she remembered it was a Saturday and that she in fact hadn't been expected at work an hour ago.
Relieved, she stepped out of the shower, dried off and dressed herself in jeans and a sweater, tied her hair back and fixed a quick breakfast of oatmeal and banana. Finally, ready for the day, she slipped on a pair of sneakers and set off on foot to Hank's house to retrieve her car.
As she walked, her thoughts drifted to Nick. Her memory was almost completely intact now, she remembered slowly falling in love with him, she remembered them moving in together, starting to build a life together, but she also remembered everything else that had happened since his Aunt Marie had visited unexpectedly. Everything that had happened to her personally. And now she knew the reason why.
Before she realized it, she was at Hank's house. She fished in her purse to retrieve the car keys, pressed the button to unlock the car, then paused. She glanced at the house. He probably wasn't home, but if he was, she should say something.
She walked up to the door and knocked again, for the second time in two days.
The door opened, Hank was dressed for work, holding a slice of toast in one hand. On a later shift, obviously. He smiled at her.
“Hey,” she said, holding her keys aloft, “I just wanted to thank you for last night. And apologize for almost falling asleep on your couch.”
“You're welcome, and don't worry about it. I guess that tea was stronger than I realized,” he said, opening the door wider. “I just brewed a pot of coffee, if you're looking to counteract the effects.”
Juliette hesitated for a moment, then stepped inside.
For the second time in less than 24 hours, Juliette was sitting at his kitchen counter drinking a hot drink. He watched her inhale the scent of the coffee before she took a sip. “It's good,” she said.
Hank nodded a thank you. “Look, Juliette,” he started. “About what you said last night...”
“So,” she said, suddenly and unexpectedly, interrupting him. “Think you'll see any Wesen today?”
“Um...” That had been a deliberate and not too subtle attempt to change the subject. He shrugged, “Unless Nick points them out to me, I wouldn't know anyway. Well, unless Monroe or someone turns up, then yeah.”
Juilette frowned, “Wait, so he doesn't always tell you?”
“I don't know. He tells me sometimes. Could be the ones he mentions are the only ones he sees, could be the others just aren't important. It'd hardly be appropriate to start pointing fingers and going 'Look, Hank, a Blutbad.' Might attract the wrong kind of attention.”
She nodded. “That makes sense, I suppose.”
“And of course, there's the captain,” Hank added. “I'll probably see him,”
Juliette looked at him, frowning. “You mean he knows about the Wesen?” He could almost see the thought processes going on behind her eyes as she sorted through her knowledge of Renard. Her eyes widened. “You're not saying he's...”
“You didn't know,” Hank doesn't phrase it as a question. It was obvious from her shocked expression that she had no idea. He could have kicked himself, literally.
“They're everywhere,” she said.
“If it makes you feel any better, I don't think even Nick knew about him til pretty recently.”
“What is he?”
Hank thought deeply, trying to bring the right word into his mind. “He's a like a Hexenbiest, you know like Adalind Schade? Only the name for males is something different. I don't remember it.”
Juliette drained her coffee. “I feel like I'm going insane,” she said quietly.
“You're not,” he promised her. “You're just filtering through a bunch of new information.” He sighed, glancing at his watch. He had five minutes before he had to be out the door, but there was something important he needed to say first. “What you said last night about Nick,” he said, “you didn't mean it, did you? Because if I'm in any way responsible for you having doubts about him, I just want you to know that's not what I meant.”
Juliette shook her head. “Don't worry, you're off the hook,” she told him. She hesitated, running a forefinger around the rim of her coffee cup, “I love Nick,” she told him. “I just don't know how to reconcile the way I feel about him with the danger being with him has put me in. He proposed to me once, did he tell you? I told him I couldn't because of the secrets he was keeping. Now I know the secret and it makes things worse.”
“Look, Juliette, I really don't think I'm the one you should be talking to about this,” Hank said.
“I know.” She placed her cup on the counter and looked at him. “I'm sorry, it's not fair to unload all this on you, it's just I don't have anyone else that I can talk to about it.”
Hank sighed. She was right, it would be difficult to talk to anyone else without giving something away. “I know the feeling.” He told her. “Look, I'm really sorry, but I have to go to work. Let me give you my number, if you want to talk more later. But please, I can't talk about Nick with you.”
Juliette placed it in her purse with a nod of thanks. “One last thing before I go,” she said. “Are there any more that I might know?”
“More Wesen?” Hank shook his head. “No, I think that's about it.”
“Are you going to tell Nick I was here?”
Hank shrugged. “I'm not into keeping secrets from my partner,” he told her.
“It's not a secret,” she assured him. “I'm just trying to sort a few things out in my head right now, I'd prefer to keep him out of it. Please?”
Hank nodded, sighing to himself. “For now,” he told her. “But...”
“Thanks, Hank. Really.” She stood up. “And thanks for the coffee,” she added.
She got up and Hank saw her to the door. An uneasy feeling that he couldn't quite identify had begun to take root at the base of his stomach.
Three days and one Wesen related incident later, Hank was heating his dinner when his cellphone rang. The display showed an unrecognized number. He stepped away from the buzzing of the microwave and answered.
“Hank?” a woman's voice on the other end asked. “It's Juliette.”
Hank sighed quietly to himself and leaned his back against the wall. It wasn't that he minded her calling as such, but since her request to keep it between them, it had begun to feel wrong. Nick had seemed happier recently, and Hank had begun to hope that things between them had settled down. The tone of her voice told a different story.
“Hey, Juliette, what can I do for you?” he asked.
There was a pause at the other end that went on just long enough for him to beginning to wonder whether she was still there, then, “I need to talk to someone. Can I come round?”
“How about we meet somewhere?” he countered. “There's a coffee place at the end of my block, they make the best pie you have ever tasted, guaranteed.”
On second thoughts, the cafe might not have been the best choice. At this time of night, it was almost deserted and although the acoustic guitar CD playing on a loop would drown out most of their conversation, there was no table there where they could guarantee not being overheard. Ordinarily that wouldn't be a problem, but there was a high chance the conversation would turn to things that the general population of Portland shouldn't be overhearing.
Juliette picked at her apple pie nervously as her coffee cooled on the table.
“So,” Hank began. “How are things?”
She shrugged. “They're...moving forward,” she said. “Slowly.”
“Well,” Hank said, “that's good.”
“I know you said you don't want to talk about Nick,” she said, “and that's fine, I respect that, but can I ask you something?”
He nodded reluctantly.
“How does he seem? Is he, you know, okay?”
Hank frowned. “Yeah, he seems pretty great actually. I kinda figured you had something to do with that.” His partner had been a unusually close-mouthed on the subject, and Hank had decided not to push, but there had been a definite improvement in his mood recently.
Juliette shrugged. “We had dinner the other night,” she said. “We talked.”
“Sounds promising,” Hank told her. They were discussing Nick again. He cleared his throat. “So what did you want to talk to me about?”
She paused with her coffee partway to her lips, then lowered the cup back to the table. She looked away, chewing gently on her bottom lip as she fingers of one hand tapped on the tabletop. “I don't know,” she said. “I'm sorry, really. I'm sorry to keep showing up and bothering you, I just don't know where else to go.”
Her eyes glistened with genuine tears, and she blinked them away. Hank groaned inwardly, if there was one thing he couldn't stand it was the sight of a woman crying. He reached out and placed a hand on hers, stopping the drumming fingers. She looked up and met his gaze. “Hey, it's okay,” he told her. “Look, whatever it is, I'm sure it'll be fine. You just need time to get used to knowing about this stuff. It took me a while too.” True, part of his process hadn't been crying in public. Or in private for that matter, but everyone was different.
“I think I have to leave him,” she said.
Juliette's eyes widened in horror as she realized what she had said and who she had said it too. Looking across the table, she saw the same expression mirrored in the face of her companion. “I shouldn't have said that!” she exclaimed in horror.
“No,” Hank told her. “You shouldn't.”
“It's just, I don't feel safe anymore. I know Nick can protect me, but being around him makes things so much more dangerous – don't tell me it's not true, because I know it is. I know all these Wesen aren't bad, most of them are probably good people like Monroe and Rosalee and the refrigerator repair guy, but there are bad ones out there, and if they want to get to Nick, I'm an easy target. I've been used that way before. I didn't realize it at the time, but I have...”
Hank seemed to have an air of panic about him that only fed her need to keep talking, give voice to the thoughts that had been trapped inside her head for days with no outlet.
“I wanted to marry him,” she continued. “I wanted us to have kids someday. How could we do that knowing they'd be another target. Nick says this Grimm thing runs in the family, so they'd inherit it. It wouldn't be fair to them.” She placed her head in her hands. “Nothing about this thing is fair.”
Hank glanced around the coffee shop. Juliette knew better than to raise her voice, but the woman behind the counter was looking in their direction curiously, as though trying to catch what was being said.
“No, it's not fair,” Hank agreed. “And you need to make the decision that's right for you, but Juliette, please, don't decide yet. You have to give yourself time to think things through. You wouldn't believe the crazy shit that went through my head when I found out about all this stuff.”
“Like what?” she asked, genuinely curious.
He shook his head, “It's not important anymore. What is important is that you think before you make any decisions you're going to regret. And that I'm going to regret, for that matter.”
Juliette got to her feet. “Thanks,” she said. “You're right. And I'm really sorry, I won't bother you again.”
Hank looked for a moment like he was going to tell her it was okay, but then his jaw clamped closed and he nodded instead.
“Can I ask you one last favor?” she asked.
“Don't worry,” Hank told her, “I'm not going to say anything to Nick. I'm not going to be the one who opens that can of worms.”
Juliette smiled at him, grabbed her purse and walked quickly out of the door.
Juliette placed the last few items of clothing into her bag and fastened the zipper closed.
It wasn't forever, she told herself. Just a vacation. A week away, maybe two. She needed time to collect her thoughts. Her cousin had issued her with an open invitation to visit her in California years ago, it was time she cashed it in.
She lifted the bag as the stairs creaked with the sound of someone walking up.
There was a knock on the bedroom door, and Nick peeked around. “All packed?” he asked. He looked at the bag hanging by its strap over her shoulder. “Want me to help you with that?” he asked.
It wasn't heavy, she could manage it easily, but she handed it over.
“Just a week?” Nick said.
He shook his head, feeling at the weight of the bag. “You've only packed for one,” he told her.
She shrugged. “Let's call it one and a half,” she said.
Nick nodded in agreement. “That sounds fair,” he said. He turned and carried the bag out of the room and down the stairs. Juliette followed him.
He placed it next to the door and peered outside, looking for the taxi.
“You're welcome to use the house while I'm gone,” she told him. “It's yours as much as mine, and I know I've kind of been hogging it the past few months.”
Nick shook his head. “Thanks. I might stop by now and then if Monroe needs his place to himself, but moving all my stuff back here doesn't seem worth it for a week and a half.”
Juliette nodded, to her surprise she felt a twinge of disappointment in with the relief that she wouldn't have to ask him to leave again. “When I get back, we'll talk,” she promised him.
Nick smiled. It looked a little forced.
Outside, a car horn sounded twice.
“Taxi's here,” Nick said. “You know, I would have been happy to take you,”
“I know, but I'd already booked it.” Besides, having Nick drop her at the airport would have meant awkward conversation and an even more awkward goodbye. It was easier this way.
Nick picked up her bag, carried it outside and placed it in the open trunk. “Let me know when you get there,” he told her.
Juliette nodded and climbed into the back seat of the car. “I will.”
“I'll see you in a week and a half,” he told her.
“Maybe two weeks,” she said. The taxi began to pull away. She turned around to see Nick raise an arm to wave her off. “Or maybe just one,” she added to herself.
She had some tough decisions to make, and as she watched Nick disappear around the corner, she realized something that was going to make them even tougher. She missed him already.