juniperberry: Cordelia (queen c)
[personal profile] juniperberry
I seem to take this fic in scenes of four. Also, am loving writing Nicolai, he really is a little shit. Now it's time to start writing Nick, who is not really much of a little shit.



Burkhardt and his fiance separated in winter, at the tail end when spring teased everyone with the promise of more rain and warmer days, and the sun flirted with the idea of appearing from behind the clouds for longer than a moment. At the height of summer, after several dates--men and women, which did not make Sean assured at all--Burkhardt appeared at his door, in a light overshirt and jeans, and requested a transfer.

Sean sat back in his chair, and kept his face a mask of indifference. "May I ask why?" he said quietly. Burkhardt closed the door behind him.

"Yes," he said. "I feel it would be unprofessional if I stayed under your command, sir."

"Pardon? Why would remaining under my command be unprofessional?"

Burkhardt fisted his hands into his jacket, and Sean's heart twisted. He knew Burkhardt had, in some metaphysical way, once been Nicolai No-Name; but now Nicolai was gone, grown into this person that Sean barely recognized sometimes. Burkhardt was not the teasing, occasionally flighty Grimm that Nicolai had been; he was older, and he had lost more, to Sean's way of thinking. But he recognized the subdued look of anger on his face.

"It would be unprofessional to remain in a department where a superior has--feelings--for an underling," Burkhardt ground out. "And it would be unprofessional to remain when said superior will do things outside the law to cover for or avenge said underling because of those feelings."

Sean closed his eyes. The Durbinhower case. Burkhardt was observant, damn him, and Sean had forgotten that fact in the wave of distraction that had occured when Burkhardt had come into his inheritance. He would have picked up on Sean's actions and feelings, even as well-hidden and tamped down as they were, because he could read people like books when he wasn't caught in a storm of confusion and fear and paradigm shifting.

And, as always, someone could have talked; just because a creature resided in Sean's territory did not make it loyal to him.

"Please, have a seat," he said, and Burkhardt did so. He was watching Sean intently; as though he expected to see a snout grow, whiskers spring from his face, fangs appear, or perhaps some sort of change in his eyes. Sean had entirely too much control to allow any such hint, but it confirmed his guess that someone or something had told Burkhardt things they should not have.

"Explain," he said, at last. Burkhardt's entire face darkened, and his voice was harsh.

"I think you should be the one explaining things, sir," he said. "With all due respect."

Sean sighed inwardly. Burkhardt--like Nicolai--could be a stubborn bastard when he wanted to be. "I won't know what you want to know unless I know what it is you think I've done," he said. "I can already tell you think my motives are purely personal. I'll give you a hint: they're not. Inasmuch as I can, I try to keep my personal feelings out of that kind of work."

"The Grimm work," Burkhardt guessed. Sean almost smiled; did Burkhardt think he wouldn't recognize when he was being interrogated?

"The work I do with creatures, yes," Sean said. "I take it you think my actions had to do with how I feel and nothing else?"

"I wasn't sure," Burkhardt said, and at last he began to lose his angry edge. "A--a witness told me that you'd threatened Durbinhower over me. Apparently you were rather intimidating."

"I did," Sean said. No point in denying it now; Burkhardt had to find out sometime. "But the reasons are political when I step in, not personal."

Burkhardt sighed, and his shoulders slumped. "You do feel something for me, though," he said, and Sean winced inwardly at the despondancy in his voice.

"Something, yes," Sean said, slowly. "However, it will not infringe on our professional relationship, though I will understand if you still want the transfer to another department." Admitting that hurt, but what else was he to do? Burkhardt was not like Nicolai, wasn't Sean's the way Nicolai had been, wouldn't ever be Sean's, not with the things Burkhardt was apparently still ignorant of. And Sean could admit to himself that he wasn't a nice man, that if he could keep the fact that he had ordered the murder of Burkhardt's sick aunt buried for all time, he would, especially if it meant Burkhardt would be his again.

Things like that had a habit of coming to light, though, and whatever Burkhardt felt for him now--respect, betrayal, uncertainty--it would fly away into ashes in the face of that fact.

"No," Burkhardt said, and Sean met his eyes. Burkhardt was still wary, and still, in some ways, wounded that Sean hadn't shared knowledge or feelings or something, but there was resolution shining in his eyes.

"If we can set aside any unprofessional feelings during work hours, I don't see why I should leave," he said, and Sean nodded, slowly.

"I think that should work, Detective," he said, and Burkhardt sighed.

"I want to talk about the creatures," he said. Sean shrugged.

"There's not much to tell. I'm not a Grimm, if that's what you're wondering."

Burkhardt slumped in truth at that. "I'd sort of hoped," he said. "This whole thing is so...." He stopped, at a loss, and Sean looked away. He couldn't sooth this hurt, and he had lost the right to try.

"If that will be all, Detective, we should both get back to work," he said, as gently as he could, and Burkhardt nodded as he rose to leave.

"Yes, sir," he said, and Sean closed the door after him. The last thing he wanted right now was the buzz of the bullpen, the clacking of computer keys and the dull roar of talk.

~~~

Nicolai's flat was small and smelled very faintly of mildew, but that was not an asperation on him--he was a tidy Grimm--but more on the location. It was a poor neighborhood, populated mostly with immigrants, with whom Nicolai blended with, with his scruffy clothing and shaggy hair and indistinct accent. He was multilingual and likely had been for most of his life; Sean could hear no difference in his voice when he spoke to the old housewife in German, to the little girl in Polish, snarked at a teenage boy in Czech, and snarled a brief hail of insults with another young man in rapid Russian. It was no wonder he could never pin down Nicolai's accent; the young man had probably moved all over Eastern Europe with his family, chasing creatures and learning new languages all the time.

Now they were eating Indian take-away, from a small shop that had seemed to house no one who wasn't from the Indian sub-continent or some country near-by. Nicolai had delighted in introducing Sean to the searing, spicy food, but Sean would get his own back. There were thousands of creatures in the world, and he doubted Nicolai had ever tasted the sort of food that some creatures had developed.

"Nah, Sean," Nicolai said, as his little radio played a slightly screechy version of "Norweigan Wood." "Do you believe in reincarnation?"

Sean speared a piece of orange cauliflower with his fork, from the plate balanced precariously in his lap. "I don't know," he said. "I've never seen evidence of it, if that's what you mean."

"Mmm," Nicolai mumbled through his lamb-chickpea-and-spinach curry. "No, I mean, do you believe it's possible."

"All things are possible in our world, Nicolai," Sean said, and spared one arm from his dinner to drape over Nicolai's shoulders. The young man's flat had a weird collection of furniture--mostly pillows made of Indian prints, lots of rugs, a mattress in the corner covered with at least three layers of patchwork quilts and one knitted blanket. He had hung most of his weapons on the wall; Sean admired the artistry and functionality of the wall hangings.

"No, I mean--" Nicolai paused to sip from a bottle of pop, "I mean, if I were to die, do you think I'd come back in another body? Or would I have sinned too much, helping kill creatures that never hurt anyone?"

Sean's fingers tightened hard on Nicolai's shoulder. "I don't know what you mean," he said, and ate a piece of curried lamb.

Nicolai snorted. "Now you're being stupid," he said. "I did kill the harmless ones, you know, while I traveled with my family. If I hadn't I would have gotten it from Aunt Vanya at least. Uncle Sigmund would have blown--what is it the kids say--would have blown a gasket, had I refused. And I always felt bad, so I wonder if that would keep me from coming back to you."

"You're not leaving me," Sean said, and this time even Nicolai picked up on the dark, ugly thread in his voice. He reached up and stroked the side of Sean's face.

"Not voluntarily," he said, softly. "Never voluntarily. I want to stay with you. It's why you need to get your own throne, your own territory, then no one will tell you off if you have a male lover." He bared his throat a little, to show off a bruise at the base of his throat. "I carry your mark on me all the time now, don't think that doesn't make trouble! But I like it."

"You're a fool," Sean said, but he relaxed his grip and began eating again. "You're not going to die."

Nicolai shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not," he said, though his voice wasn't as flippant as his words. "My job is very dangerous, you know this. And you have family functions, jobs that you must do for your brother. You cannot be with me all the time."

Sean stabbed an inoffensive spear of broccoli, and didn't say anything in return. Nicolai shifted against him and tucked into his curry, and for a moment there was only the sound of the radio, which had finished "Norweigan Wood" and had begun playing something by an American band. Nicolai hummed to the tune inbetween bites.

"Reinhart is what brought this on," Sean said at last. Nicolai shrugged. The old man had been in the service of Sean's brother for the last ten years; it was inevitable that he would fall in the line of duty, as it were, and he was old and growing sick. Nicolai had only ever tried to like him as professional courtesy, but some things transcended the petty things like mutual antipathy.

"It's just, it's dangerous, hunting things like blutbaden and ziegevolk and the like. I've only been free of reapers because of you."

Sean knew. He focused on his food to avoid Nicolai's bright, knowing eyes.

~~~

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