Feb. 24th, 8:30am, Portland
Nick doesn't think much of it when the call first comes in. He and Hank have just picked up their morning coffees while on their way to the station, they hadn't even gotten back to the car yet. The details he gets from dispatch, a possible homicide or missing persons, don't stick out more than usual until he starts to take note of the address. "I'm sorry, cou-could you repeat the address again?"
His hands start to shake and he nearly drops his notepad and pen.
"Nick?" Hank asks but his voice sounds far away. He grabs the grimm by the shoulder and pins him with a searching look. "What's wrong man? You look like you're gonna pass out."
"It's… It's Harry." Nick forces out with a gulping breath. "The call, it's at Harry's place." His heart beats like a jackhammer in his chest.
Hank blows out a shocked breath but keeps his cool. He braces Nick with a hand on each shoulder. "Look, we don't know anything other than something happened at his place. Harry's a tough son of bitch, he can handle himself." He pats Nick's shoulder before letting go then quickly circles back to get in his car.
Nick only nods, he feels dizzy and has to brace himself on the car before getting into the passenger side. He squeezes his eyes shut to force his emotions down once he's sat down. Hank doesn't say anything else, instead he peels away from the curb after slamming their emergency lights on top of the hood.
The ride up is tense and quiet. Nick spends the entire time repeating to himself that Harry will be alive when he gets there.
Nick steps out of Hank's car as soon as it stops at the edge of Harry's driveway. Yellow tape has already been set-up and he can see a single evidence flag at the edge of the walkway, he frowns with a dry swallow when he realizes that it's a severed hand.
A hand comes to rest on his shoulder and startles him. "Just breathe man. It'll be alright." Hank's attempt at reassurance doesn't quite land since it's obvious that he's just as rattled. The older man leads them under the tape and towards the uniformed officers milling around the front door. "Hey Wu!" He calls out with a wave of his hand.
The sergeant looks up in surprise. "Wow, you guys sure made good time. Forensics got lost on the way here, so they aren't here yet. Obviously." Wu stops and tilts his head towards Nick. "You alright?"
Nick clears his throat and forces himself to look around at the scene before answering his coworker. "We know the owner." His voice is flat and cold.
Wu's eyes widen briefly. "Oh ummm." He scratches his head, unsure of what he should say.
"Just walk us from the beginning alright, Wu?" Hank answers in a quiet tone.
"Yeah sure." He bobs his head towards the severed hand Nick can't keep his eyes from drifting to. "Mailman showed up to find the door open, there's no signs of forced entry or any struggle inside by the way. He was on the phone with dispatch when he noticed the hand, we don't know if it belongs to the owner…" He trails off with a grimace. "We did a parameter search but so far nothing, no body or anything."
"It's not Harry's hand." Nick states firmly as he gets closer. It had taken him a few moments to work up the courage to really look at it. With each step, he lets go of a long breath and the knot in his stomach loosens slightly.
"How can you tell?" Wu asks curiously. The whole department knows that Nick has a way of seeing things others don't but even this seems to push the sergeant's belief in the detective's abilities.
"Too hairy." Nick blurts out then turns around to see twin looks of confusion. "Harry's hands don't have hairy knuckles, his fingers are longer, finer, and the skin tone is all wrong." He stops with a blush.
"Okay…" Wu nods and promptly walks away.
"What?" Nick asks defensively.
Hank raises his hands. "Didn't say a word." He takes a few steps closer so he can whisper. "If that's not Harry's hand though, then whose is it and where's Harry?"
Nick looks up for a moment to consider all the factors. "I dunno but I think we need to call Monroe." At the very least they can combine their skills with the blutbad's to search the area.
"Yeah, that's probably a good idea." Hank nods. "I'll go talk to Wu and take a look inside." He walks away after giving Nick one last look to make sure he's ok.
Monroe's phone rings a few times before the blutbad answers sounding a bit harried. "Hey Nick, what's up?"
"Is Harry with you?" He should feel bad for not even saying hello first but it's like he can't help himself.
"Ummm ok, no he's not but I'm gonna go off on a limb and say something bad is happening…" There's a warry note in the man's voice.
A dark chuckle escapes Nick and he wipes his hand over his eyes. "Yeah, you can definitely say that..."
"Shit! Listen, Harry was supposed to meet me for coffee this morning but he never showed. I've been trying to reach him but he's not picking up his phone either. I keep telling him to charge the damn thing. I'm on my way to his place right now." Monroe's hurried statement makes Nick's stomach roil.
"I'm already there Monroe, Harry's missing." Nick forces the last two words out and the blutbad swears colourfully on the other end.
"I'll be there in less than ten minutes." Monroe hangs up after the grimm answers with a quiet affirmation.
Nick hangs up and shoves his phone back into his jacket brusquely. He needs to use this time alone to get his head on straight, he begins to pace up and down the muddy walkway. Every time he thinks he's finally done it, another wave of anxiety threatens to overwhelm him.
His pacing is interrupted by the sound of screeching tires. Nick spins around expecting Monroe but it's not the yellow vw bug that peels around the corner stopping just shy of Hank's bumper. He scowls when his captain scrambles out the black SUV. The man isn't even wearing his usual suit jacket and the worry is clear on his face as he marches up the driveway in long strides.
"Captain?" Nick asks, his confusion momentarily distracts him from his spiralling thoughts. He remembers in that moment that the older man had appeared to know Harry when he'd first introduced them.
"Where's Harry?" Sean's tone is hard and his agitation serves to further confuse Nick.
"He's missing sir." He answers a bit taken aback. Though he doesn't get to say more as another car pulls into the driveway, this time it is Monroe. Nick blows out a relieved breath before looking back at his captain.
The man is staring at him intently then takes a quick glance back at the sound of Monroe slamming his door shut. Sean seems to nod to himself before he turns back to Nick with a determined look. "Are you sure he's just missing?"
Nick looks up and sees some of his own fears reflected there. He frowns, just how well do the captain and Harry know each other? "Wu's cleared the scene but forensics hasn't gotten here yet. I'm one hundred percent sure that's not Harry's hand sir." It's the one clear piece of evidence he can reassure himself with. "Um sir how-" He tries to fish for information but he's rudely stopped by a raised hand.
"Wait here." He's summarily ordered to stay put while the taller man marches passed him and up to the house. "Alright! Everybody out!" Sean's shout is unexpected, a few of the officers grumble and question but all their captain will say is that the case has diplomatic ties. Though he does stop Hank at the door with a motion to wait there before he makes his way back to Nick. "I know you have a lot of questions and I'll answer them inside Harry's house once everyone's cleared the scene." He pauses, "Oh, and bring your blutbad along."
The grimm opens his mouth though he finds no words and watches his captain walk back to the house without a second look. He turns to join Monroe who's waiting by the yellow tape looking just as baffled as Nick. "Did you hear that?"
"Dude!" Monroe whispers with wide eyes. "Who is that guy?"
"That's my captain…" Nick scowls. Had the man known about wesen this whole time? Did he know about Nick being a grimm? How did this all tie back to Harry?
He huffs. He can't keep the other man out of his mind, it's not just right now either. It's nearly all the time; at work, at home, no matter if he's asleep or awake, alone or with Juliette even. Harry is a near constant presence in the grimm's mind. Until now, this thing between them had been relatively easy for him to ignore as a passing crush. The strange and handsome wesen is captivating and new, Nick had been sure that in time the attraction would pass… it wouldn't be the first time, now though.
Now that his palms are sweating and waves of nausea threaten to overwhelm him every time Nick even starts to think that Harry might be dead. Well, it's pretty damn obvious that there's more going on here than a small crush. And it's definitely more than the worry expected from a friend.
He takes another deep breath, he'll get his answers from the captain one way or another. "C'mon, let's see what's going on." Nick lets Monroe under the police tape then leads the way up to Harry's open door.
Nick sits at Harry's dining room table with Hank on his left and Monroe on his right. The captain is sitting across from him with his hands tightly laced together on the tabletop.
The atmosphere is thick and uncomfortable; it probably has something to do with the way Sean had ordered them to sit down while he paced in agitation. It took a long and awkward minute until he finally settled himself down enough to join them.
"You know about wesen." Nick starts the opening volley with the only fact he can be certain of.
The man looks uncomfortable, though it's brief and quickly replaced by a steel gaze. "I do. There are a lot of different reasons why I didn't speak up but now isn't the time for that conversation."
"You're related to Harry." Monroe's offhand statement startles everyone.
Sean gives the blutbad an appraising side glance. "He's my nephew."
"Oh boy…" Monroe whistles though he seems to think of something else and his posture stiffens. "Awe shit…"
"By all means, enlighten us!" Nick growls out. His anger is only dampened by his shock at the news that Sean and Harry are family.
The captain sighs. "How much do you know about Harry?"
"I know that he's an ursprünglich wesen." Nick answers tightly. The answer seems to both surprise and please the captain.
Monroe clears his throat. "First, let me say that I found out by accident and Harry was totally working up to talking to you guys about it." The blutbad gives Nick an apologetic look before going on and addressing the captain. "I know Harry's an Earl and his dad is a Duke but um, he didn't tell me he had an uncle."
Hank whistles. "So you weren't kidding about diplomacy issues." The man leans back in his seat and then manages to put words to what Nick is still trying to process. "Wait minute, captain. Does that mean?"
"Ah." Sean presses his lips together. He looks at Nick like he's waiting from him to add something to Hank's question but all he gets is a cold stare from the grimm. "That's a bit of a complicated situation."
Nick snorts loudly. "What the hell isn't nowadays." He pushes himself back from the table in frustration. He remains in his seat, his leg bouncing with anxious energy.
"Harry's mother was my sister though we don't share the same father." Sean puts his hand up when Monroe takes a deep breath to interrupt. "I need you all to swear that what I'm about to say will not leave this room." He waits to get nods from the three of them, it doesn't take long. "As I said, there are many reasons Harry and I keep the secrets we do. Most important of those is that it keeps the people around us, the people we care about, safe from harm. Unlike my brother-in-law and nephew however, I don't hold any British titles."
"But that doesn't mean you don't have one from somewhere else." Nick rushes the statement out now that he's starting to get over the shock.
The captain nods with a ghost of a smile. "My father is Frederick Renard of House Kronenberg. Currently, King of Austria."
"Oh! My! God!" Monroe exclaims loudly. Sean appears to have expected the reaction but Nick doesn't understand until the blutbad shares his epiphany. "You're him! The Royal in Portland! I thought that was just a rumour." He lets out a nervous chuckle once he realizes what he's just said.
"You're a prince?" Nick can't help the doubt from coating his words. It's a baffling thought when he starts to piece everything together.
"Bastard prince, actually. Hence why I don't make a habit of advertising it." Sean states plainly. "The fact that my mother is a hexenbiest, and not the queen, doesn't really put me at high esteem in my father's circles."
"No shit." Monroe snorts. "Sorry." He apologises with a grimace.
"Can you do magic like Harry? Can you find him?" Nick blurts his questions out with intensity. Why hadn't he considered that sooner? Though his moment of hope is crushed just as suddenly as it had appeared when Sean shakes his head.
"I'm afraid that's not something I can do." He sighs and his hands tighten into fists on the table. "I don't even know of anyone who could get the upper hand on him… If we want to find Harry, we'll have to do more than use regular police channels."
"I assume you already have a plan then?" Nick asks eagerly. While he's technically got a million more questions for his captain, the only thing the grimm truly cares about right now is getting Harry back.
"I do, though I'll admit I'm not looking forward to it." Sean sighs and digs his phone out from his pant pocket. "I have to call Harry's father."
Harry is trying to wake up, he really is but the effort it takes for him to pry his eyes open make him groan incoherently. When he does manage a few sandpaper blinks, everything around him is pitch black. He feels like he's been run over by the knight bus, his head feels fuzzy, almost like he's had too much to drink. There's a radiating pain in his shoulder that pulses every time he moves. When he reaches up to inspect the issue there's a sharp tug at his wrists, the jangle of chains cause a sound of confusion to burble from his throat.
Without warning the darkness vanishes and is replaced with blinding brightness. "Ah, ah." An unknown voice tuts. All that Harry can tell about it is that it's a man's voice, deep and raspy. "If you don't stop wiggling, you'll ruin all the work I put into that shoulder of yours. Skalenzahne bites need more than a few spells to deal with."
A few jumbled noises is all Harry manages at first. He's starting to remember some things. There's a flash of him sitting in his living room having a late dinner, he groans in an effort to remember more. The mention of a skalenzahne supplies him with an image of fighting for his life in his muddy driveway.
"Now, now. Settle down." There's a tap and Harry looks up to see a blurry face and the outline of bars. "I'm sure you've noticed already but we had to drug you quite a bit to deal with the shoulder."
Harry's heart begins to beat like a hammer in his chest. While he's still having difficulty keeping his focus, it's clear that he's in trouble.
"Magic won't do you any good either kid." The gravelly voice speaks as though the man had known exactly what Harry was thinking. "You've got no wand and those manacles you're sporting aren't just to keep you from doing something stupid." The man chuckles with a dry rasp. "Don't you worry though, we'll have you in fighting shape for tonight." He reaches up for the sheet that's half draped on the side and begins to cover the cage over again.
"No!" It's the first word Harry manages and he puts all his energy into it to force his restraints off. Suddenly the iron bracers around his wrists begin to glow, a burning sensation builds up until all he can do his howl in pain and frustration.
"Told you kid, no getting out of those." Harry's captor taps the top with a patronizing huff. "Now, time for your next dose." The sheet falls the rest of the way to bathe him in darkness again. There's a short pause along with the sounds of footsteps that leave and come back. The sheet is raised up slightly off the floor and what looks like the end of a hose slips underneath. "Just take a deep breath and everything will be better."
Smoke slowly drifts out from the tube. Harry holds his breath and tries to shuffle as far away as he can, he barely makes a half foot before his chains tug him back. He closes his eyes shut tightly, desperately trying to keep himself from gasping out despite the burning in his lungs.
Eventually though, Harry's body gives him no choice, he pulls in a large breath of smoke with tears stinging his eyes. He coughs harshly at the acrid smoke filling his lungs.
A new sensation hits him instantly, his head wobbles and he sighs at the complete loss of pain. His skin tingles pleasantly despite feeling like his head has been packed with cotton wool. He giggles and sinks down against the bars. What had he been worried about again.
later at the station-
Nick is sitting at his desk scrolling through images of horse tack with growing aggravation. They had searched the woods around Harry's house in an attempt to find more evidence while the captain had been on the phone with his brother-in-law. Some suspicious horse tracks as well as an odd looking piece of leather near the edge of the tree line had been all they could find.
His phone rings and he almost doesn't hear it, when he looks at the caller ID he hesitates to answer. He doubts he's in the right frame of mind for this but he presses the green button anyway. "Hey Juliette." Nick tries to keep the anxiety out of his voice. "I'm in the middle of a big case, is it important?" It's not often that she calls him at work so he hopes it's not. He doesn't think he can handle anything else going wrong today.
"I'm about to go to the store, just wanted to check if you had any thoughts for our anniversary dinner tomorrow night?" She talks quickly, and while it's obvious that she'd been hoping to chat, Nick is glad Juliette doesn't pry further. "But I could also just surprise you since now's not a good time."
Nick blows out a quiet breath of relief then glances up in silent gratitude. "Yeah sure, a surprise sounds great!" He winces. That had come out sounding a tad terse. He forces himself to smile. "Thanks Juliette, love you."
"Don't worry about it, you go serve and protect. I hope your case turns out alright." Juliette offers gently. "I love you too, I'll see you tonight."
"I hope so too." He croaks out before saying goodbye.
Hank arrives with a brown folder in hand just after Nick hangs up. "We got a hit on the prints forensics got from the hand." He slides the folder over to his partner. "Name is Dimitri Skontos. Three priors for misdemeanor possession, served one year off a cocaine rap, released on probation last month."
Nick studies the file with a frown. "Nothing more violent than possession?" It makes no sense to him, why had this man's hand been left on Harry's driveway.
"Drugs can turn into a slippery slope, you know that." Hank shrugs and his chair squeaks a bit when he leans far back into it.
"Doesn't explain why Harry is missing and all we found was this guy's hand." Nick looks up when the captain leaves his office and makes his way towards them at a leisure pace.
"What do you have so far?" Sean asks quietly but his tone has an edge to it that Nick recognises as worry. Not like he can blame the man since he feels about the same way.
"Mostly just a name, Dimitri Skontos. Minor wrap sheet but nothing that fits the case..." Hank explains with a shrug while Nick hands over the folder.
"I was just about to put out an APB on his car." The grimm states when he spots Wu coming their way at top speed.
"Ummmm Captain!" The sergeant stops once he's reached their desks, he looks uncharacteristically nervous. He clears his throat. "There's some people here to see you sir. About the missing person's case. The one we're not supposed to talk to anyone about?" He looks around to make sure no one has heard him.
Nick looks up to see the captain give a wary glance towards the doorway. It's not an expression he's used to seeing on the older man and he begins to feel anxious again. He's sure at least one of the people wanting to see the captain is Harry's father but they hadn't expected anyone else.
"Alright, show them up. I'll be waiting in my office." He waits for Wu to be out of earshot. "I've got a good idea of who Sirius could have brought with him but we'll have to wait and see. I'll be having a word in private with him first though." He straightens his suit jacket then makes his way back to his office with a sure stride.
Nick shares a concerned look with Hank and they both turn their gazes towards the door. It doesn't take long for Wu to appear again, this time of course he's not alone. There are three people following the officer. He makes an arrested sound of understanding as he recognises two of the people there from pictures Harry had shown him.
"Aren't those?" Hank whispers hastily back over his shoulder.
He nods while keeping his focus on the group. The very tall redhead walking with an expression torn between fascination and worry must be Harry's best friend Ron. He doesn't know why but he's a little taken aback by the man's height and build, probably because most of the eisbibers he'd met so far had all been short and on the meek side. Next to Ron is a short petite woman with rich brown curls, no doubt Hermione . She walks with singular purpose and unlike her friend is unphased by the sight of police officers running about their day. Which only leaves Harry's father walking ahead of them and next to Wu.
From where he sits, Nick can see the resemblance between father and son. For a man who's meant to be in his 50's, he could have easily passed for being a decade younger. Though his hair is longer than Harry's and only lightly touched with gray. The jaw line, shoulders and even their cadence have similarities. It's the eyes that truly set them apart, Sirius' eyes appear storm grey while Harry's are the most brilliant shade of emerald green. Though the grim expression on the man's face reminds Nick that this is probably the worst way of meeting Harry's closest friends and family.
The three of them only give a passing glance towards Hank and Nick as they're led past. Wu knocks on the door to the captain's office and only Sirius is led in after a few quietly spoken words. Nick signals for his partner to join him and moves towards the two left chatting with the sergeant as soon as the blinds are shut.
"Excuse me?" Nick clears his throat and stops just shy of the group who turn to look at him curiously. "Hi, you must Ron and Hermione?" He extends his hand in greeting. "I'm detective Nick Burkhart, I'm -"
"Oh!" The redhead exclaims, he takes the offered hand after a brief moment of starring. "We've heard all about you, detective." There's a slightly unpleasant squeeze of Nick's hand before Ron lets go.
"Ron!" The much shorter woman, with long curly brown hair tied in a messy bun elbows her friend sharply. She reaches out for Nick's hand and for some reason there's an almost comforting quality to the way she gently pats his hand. "It's wonderful to finally meet you," she frowns sadly, "I was supposed to be visiting next week." She blinks a few times and looks up and over Nick's shoulder.
Nick checks to see Hank is standing there awkwardly quiet for a moment. He extends a hand out to Hermione first. "Hi, detective Hank Griffin. I work with Nick but umm, I've worked with Harry as well." He says the last part with a halted stutter. Obviously he'd been about to say something else but had realized Wu was still standing there.
"Pleasure, Hermione Granger." She smiles for a moment before taking her hand back then smacks the ginger on the stomach. The man must be used to it because he just bats her hand away with a light scowl, much like one would do with a toddler.
"Ron Weasley." He shakes Hank's hand with an appraising look. "Is there somewhere we can talk about what's happened to Harry? Sirius didn't say much…"
"Yeah, of course. Hey Wu?" Nick turns to the sergeant who'd just been about to leave.
"Oh, you need something?" He's clearly miffed about not being included in the round of introductions.
Nick bristles at first but since he does feel guilty about keeping secrets from Wu, whom he considers a friend, he pretends not to notice the attitude. "If the captain comes looking for us could you please tell him we'll be in interview room 4?" He asks as diplomatically as possible.
Wu's face softens after a moment. "Sure. You guys want coffee or something?"
Hermione's face lights up. "I would love some real coffee please, mister?"
"Sergeant Wu miss." He says with a pleased expression. "Though I'd call it more of a close approximation to coffee, at least when it comes to what we get here at the station." He shares a chuckle with Hank and Nick.
Ron scrunches up his face in disgust. "I'll pass mate, thanks."
Nick steps over to the side with his arm pointing towards the interview rooms. "Thanks Wu. Right down this way, please." He knows he sounds formal and stiff but it's what he knows best. If he can keep his head on straight and focus on the case, then everything would be fine. It had to be.
Sean closes the door behind him and rests back on it for a moment. He draws in a long slow breath with his eyes closed. Everything is moving too fast and not fast enough.
When Harry's case had come across his desk along with the pile of other cases for that morning, he had been convinced that Adalind had been behind it. A few inquiries while he rushed out of the station and drove out to his nephew's house had proved otherwise. Adalind wouldn't have been able to resist holding it over him if she'd been involved anyway.
Now he's about to face Sirius Black and admit that he'd not only failed in his promise to keep the man's son safe but they'd made next to no progress on the case. He was completely stumped.
He rubs his hands over his face in frustration.
The knock at his back comes too soon. He's no coward though and Sirius will be able to find Harry faster than anyone else. Sean opens the door with a small greeting nod to Ron and Hermione before letting Sirius in. He's glad it's those two who've come to help and not some of the other options he'd considered.
Sirius is oddly quiet while Sean goes about closing the blinds around his office.
"You couldn't find him?" He jumps right to the obvious despite the dreadful pit in his stomach. Sirius had planned on using every tracking spell he knew as soon as he'd floo'd in from the Ministry to the MACUSA Seattle office.
"Nothing." Sirius whispers softly then blows out a stuttered breath.
Sean looks at the man he's known for over a decade. Sirius had changed a lot, matured would probably be the right word. He'd never gone back to auror work, instead dedicating himself to his various ventures and, of course, Harry. Still, he'd expected fire and brimstone not this quiet shell in front of him. "I-"
Sirius holds a hand up. "If you apologise one more time Sean, I might actually hit you." He looks up with cold grey eyes. "Is your brother behind this?"
"No. Adalind hasn't even told him that Harry is here yet. She's still trying to figure if Harry is really related to me before she risks angering Eric." A smug smile pulls at the corner of his lips. The smirk turns into a frown quickly though. "The only solid evidence we have is the ID from the hand found in Harry's driveway…"
"We searched the surrounding woods as far as Monroe could pick up a scent but it rained early this morning so we didn't get very far." Nick finishes and reaches for his coffee. It had been harder than he'd expected to go over the details of Harry's case with these people. Though they had listened attentively the whole time without interrupting. "We were just going over the results from the hand when you all arrived."
"And it's not Harry's for sure?" Ron asks with a hind of doubt and worry.
"Positive." Hank answers firmly. "It belongs to a man named Dimitri Skontos but we haven't had a chance to pursue that lead yet. Does that name sound familiar to either of you?"
They get twin frowns and headshakes.
Nick leans a bit into the table. "Can you find Harry your way?" He whispers cautiously. He holds his breath waiting for an answer.
Ron and Hermione share a crestfallen look. The witch shakes her head no. "We tried as soon as we arrived in Seattle." She sighs heavily then bites her lip. "And a few times on the way here as well but nothing… I'm sure he's alive but something must be hiding him from us."
Hank coughs uncomfortably. "Is there any chance that Harry is willingly keeping himself hidden?"
Nick's head spins to look at his partner so fast, he's surprised he doesn't pull a muscle. Harry would never do something like that, he just knows it. He opens his mouth to interject but Ron beats him to it.
"Look mate, I know you have to ask questions like that but if you knew Harry like we do." His face turns a light shade of red for an instant before he woges and looks at Nick. He startles and pushes himself back in his chair, "Merlin! It's true, you're really a grimm."
"It's alright, I swear I won't hurt you." Nick's hasty reassurance comes out automatically, he hates the reaction wesen have whenever they recognise what he is.
Ron shakes off his woge with an abrupt blink. He gives Nick an odd look that borders on affronted. "No offence, but you're still muggle…"
"Ronald!" Hermione scolds the taller man with a mortified look towards Nick and Hank.
"What? I mean, yeah, don't get me wrong. You startled me but- Ouch!" He winces as another sharp elbow digs into his side. "Fine! Geez, the point is. No, Harry wouldn't hide from anyone. And if he had something to do with that severed hand, I'm sure he had a good reason." Ron rubs his side while eyeing the brunette warily.
A quick knock stops the eisbiber from continuing what he'd been about to say and the door opens without pause. The captain walks in with a nod to everyone sitting at the interview table. "Ron, Hermione. Thank you for coming." He shakes their hands as he greets them with obvious familiarity. "Nick, Hank. I'd like you to meet Harry's father, Sirius Black." Sean introduces the man who had walked in behind him. "Sirius, these are detectives Burkhart and Griffin."
Sirius shakes Hank's hand first, his voice is softer than Nick had expected as he thanks the man for his help. Though when he turns his gaze towards Nick, the grimm feels like a bug in a jar… There's something unsettling about the long appraising stare he's subjected to before a hand finally reaches across the table. Nick scrambles up to meet the greeting halfway.
"So, you're the grimm my son speaks so highly of." There's a hint of mischief in Sirius' eyes while he lightly squeezes Nick's hand. "I wish our meeting could be under better circumstances." There's a slight wobble at the end of that statement.
"Me too sir." He answers honestly. "I guess the captain already filled you in?"
The man gives a bit of snort at the sir but nods. He looks over to Ron and Hermione. "Have you told them yet?"
"We were just talking about the problem." Hermione answers while she straightens her posture and chair. "There aren't many spells that could prevent us from locating him. Is there anything about this Dimitri that could lead us to him?"
"Actually, we're late for a meeting with his parole officer." Hank states after glancing at his watch.
Sean's head shoots up with a scowl. "What's his name?"
Hank reaches for the file in front of him, he flips it open to look for the name he can't seem to remember. "There it is, Leo Taymor." He looks about with a pleased grin.
Nick, and everyone else in the room, startle when Sean lets out a low growl and woges. The grimm looks up at the man he's known for five years with wide eyes. Every instinct in his body tells him he should be afraid of the half rotten appearance of the otherwise handsome man. It's similar to Harry's woge though it looks to be only partial and uneven.
"That son-of-bitch!" Sean growls out in outrage.
There's a few minutes of chaos after that. Sirius is the one to approach the captain with practiced calm. "Sean." He speaks firmly, his tone oddly commanding.
A few deep breaths later and the captain settles down to explain that Leo Taymor is currently running something called the Lowen Games. Judging by the low growl and shocked gasps from Harry's father and friends, it's not a good thing.
"The Lowen Games?" Nick asks with a frown, though at this point, he's had a frown on his face for the last several minutes.
"I can't believe you would allow something so barbaric to take place!" Hermione raises from her seat and scolds the older man.
Sean looks at her for a moment, Nick thinks he's about to bite back but instead the captain deflates. "It's not that simple, I don't truly get to allow anything, the lowens have been doing this for centuries. At least this way, I was controlling who was participating."
The witch crosses her arms, chin held high. "And what about your tribute?"
"Hermione." Sirius gets up to rest a hand on her shoulder. "You know Sean and Harry have to thread a careful line." He looks up to Sean but Nick still hasn't been able to get a good read on the man. While he appears calmer than a few minutes ago, overly so since given the situation, there's a distinct impression that it's only the calm before the storm. "As the Royal representative in this canton, Sean does have certain expectations on his affiliations." He turns to Nick and a roguish grin spreads on the man's face. "I, of course, have no such restraints. As a chair member of the Wesen Council, I petition the grimm to a joint operation to address the Lowen situation."
Nick frowns at the formal language. "I'm planning on going after whatever leads will help me find Harry. But that still doesn't explain what these games are and why that request sounds like it's a big deal…"
"That's because it is a big deal." Sean answers, he looks tired and worn down. "Grimms haven't worked with the Council, or the Royals, for several generations. It's usually been the other way around. If you agree to help in an official capacity, it will signal to the wesen community here that a grimm has aligned himself with the Council."
"Damn Nick." Hank says with a bit of awe.
"The Lowen Games are what's left of the Roman Gladiators; illegal fighting rings that pit wesen against wesen in a fight to the death." Ron, who'd been quietly scowling explains. To Nick's ears, it sounds like he's giving a report by rote, it's then that he remembers the eisbiber sitting across from him used to be an auror, just like Harry.
"All for the entertainment of others." Hermione supplies once she's sat down though she still shoots the occasional sour look towards the captain. "It's also very lucrative."
"Are you saying that Harry got kidnapped so they could force him to fight to the death?" Nick feels like the air has been punched out of him.
"You sure you're gonna be ok?" Hank's question breaks Nick's concentration while they're waiting in the parole office's lobby.
He scowls. "Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" His eyebrows crinkle when Hank gives him an incredulous look.
The man steps into his space to whisper. "Look, if you don't wanna talk about it, I won't push. But." Hank pauses when someone walks by.
Nick's posture stiffens a bit in suspicion.
"But you gotta admit, you're acting a bit…" Hanks hesitates. "Intense about this whole Harry thing."
Nick's spine goes rigid. "He's my friend." He spits out in affront.
Hank's eyebrows shoot up. "Really man? Cause I'd expect this sorta attitude if it was Juliette. You get what I'm saying, Nick?"
"That's. I." Nick snaps his mouth shut at the look he gets from his work partner of three years. "It's complicated." He winces, he's beginning to hate that word a lot.
A hand grips his arm in a firm squeeze. Hank sighs. "We'll find him." He looks up and his expression turns neutral. "There he is, show time."
Leo Taymor looks just about the same as he did in the file picture Sean had shown them before leaving the station. He'd be handsome; with light blue eyes and medium dirty blonde curls, but the fact that Nick knows how much of a piece of shit this guy is pretty much negates any effect that pearly white smile would have had. Instead Nick has to use every ounce of self control he has to not launch himself at the lowen and rip off his head. It's such a strong reaction that it takes him by surprise and he misses the introductions.
"Detective?" Taymor asks with his hand still held out.
Nick blinks a few times then numbly shakes the hand. "Right, sorry. Long day." He takes his hand back hastily while resisting the urge to wipe it on his pants.
The lowen snorts, "Yeah, tell me about it."
Hank jumps in before Nick can open his mouth and say something he'll regret later. "Actually, we're here about Dimitri Skontos? He's one of yours right?"
"Let's talk about this in my office." He turns his back after giving them a benign smile. They walk in awkward silence for a few minutes before they reach Taymor's dingy office. "So, what'd he do?" The crooked parole officer sits down like he doesn't have a care in the world.
"We've placed him at the scene of a kidnapping." Nick manages to keep his tone professional.
Taymor's act is passable, if Nick didn't already know what was going on he might have bought it. "Oh hell, I didn't expect that." He leans back into his office chair. "Can you share any details?"
"Private property in the mountains, evidence of a struggle and the owner is missing." Hank answers with their agreed upon story. "We've got Dimitri's prints at the scene…"
Taymor lies again with ease. "That doesn't sound like Dimitri but then again, prison can change a man…" He grimaces. "He wasn't exactly having the best time adjusting to life on the outside."
"When was the last time he checked in?" Nick pushes casually.
"Oh um. Well, actually, he was no show last week but I wanted to cut him some slack," Taymor looks up with an embarrassed frown, "guess maybe that wasn't such a good idea."
Nick snorts despite himself. Talk about throwing someone under the bus…
"Do you know where he hangs out, a job maybe?" Hank shifts in his chair to give Nick a subtle look to keep it together.
Taymor rummages around for a folder and searches inside. "Yeah, he works for his uncle at a boxing gym on eighth."
Hank nods. "I know the place." He gets up and Nick joins him as fast as he can without being suspicious.
They exchange hasty goodbyes, leaving Taymor while he's yammering about Dimitri being the next Sugar Ray. Once out of the parole office, Nick and Hank make their way around the building to the parking garage. Somewhere inside, the captain, along with Harry's father and friends, are waiting for the lowen to take the bait so that they can corner him. After that, all Sirius will have to do is dig around Taymor's mind for Harry's location.
Nick hides behind a concrete pillar with Hank to watch Leo Taymor come out of the stairway leading into the underground garage. They signal the captain that it's time to move.
Taymore looks agitated, angry even, while he talks on his phone. They're too far away to hear the conversation until he seems to lose his patience then yells out. "I don't give two shits about your fucking honour! I rule this pride and you will do everything I say!" The last bit sounds more like a roar, it resonates in Nick's ears almost painfully. The lowen hangs up brusquely and woges.
There's a screech of tires from around the corner, a familiar SUV aims right for the parole officer and stops with only a few feet away from pining Taymor to the wall.
Nick creeps forward as quickly as he dares, he stops once he can at least overhear what's being said.
Sean steps out first, looking both full of righteous anger and unsettlingly calm. He scoffs at Taymor's indignant question. "You're my problem! Your little blood sport has gotten out of hand." He hisses as he towers over the lowen.
"So we had one escapee. We took care of it." Taymor shrugs casually, like it's not a big deal.
"You screwed up, I've got a missing person now. We had an agreement!" There's a violent edge to Sean's body that makes Nick wonder if he can hold it long enough to go through with the plan they had come up with. "There was a list, a list you were not permitted to deviate from. Dimitri Scontos wasn't on that list and Harry Black certainly wasn't either!"
Taymor looks up with an arrogant scowl. "You have no list." He scoffs in disgust. "Meth addicts and gangbangers don't make good fighters. Dimitri was exceptional! The pot was going to be huge for his final fight. Just one more fight with the new fighter and you'll have the biggest tribute you've ever gotten."
Sean loses his temper, he grabs Taymor by the throat. "I don't give a shit about the money! You're going to shut it down and tell me where Harry is!"
"That's not your call anymore, your highness. Royalty isn't what it used to be." Taymor weases out and chuckles darkly. "If anything happens to me, I've made sure you'll be going down too."
"In the old days I could have you drawn and quartered." Venom drips from Sean's tone and he squeezes Taymor's throat again before letting go.
Taymor coughs to clear his throat with a glare. "Times are changing, you should be more careful how you talk to me." He straightens his posture in challenge.
The door to the SUV's passenger opens, Sirius steps out gracefully. "The old days aren't as lost as you imagine mister Taymor." His cultured accent and dark blue pressed velvet suit jacket cause a frown to replace the lowens earlier confidence.
"Really, you think you can try to intimidate me?" Taymor cocks a mocking eyebrow.
"Oh, you have no idea who I am do you?" There's a sadistic tone in Sirius' question as he stops on Sean's right, just out of Nick's direct line of sight. Judging by Taymor's startle though, and the raspy edge to the Lord's next words, the wesen has woged. "Sirius Black, Head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, Duke of Newcastle." With every word from Sirius, Taymor's bravery crumbles. "Now, you're going to tell me where my son is, you son of bitch!"
Nick and Hank jump at the same time as Taymor does when Sirius lunges out with both hands and grabs onto the lowens mane.
Hermione and Ron jump out of the back of the SUV, "Incarcerous!", the eisbiber makes a fast motion and ropes shoot out of nowhere to warp themselves tightly around Taymor.
"That's handy!" Hank snorts out from beside the grimm while they creep up closer, he sounds rather envious.
Hermione stops them with a motion of her hand. "Keep a lookout, we'll deal with the noise."
Nick stops in his tracks with a scowl. "What?" Her meaning becomes clear when the lowen lets out a gurgled scream. The witch reacts instantly, her arm arching in the air with her wand emitting a shimmering net, all sounds from inside that net are abruptly cut off. He turns to Hank with a huff. "I guess that's handy too…"
Hank doesn't respond though, instead he's staring slack jawed at the scene unfolding near them. He's especially focused on Sirius woge form now in full view.
"You can see it?" Nick whispers with a light frown creasing his forehead.
Hank gives him an incredulous stare. "That is not even close to night of the living dead, this is more like Hellraiser!" The older hisses out.
"Really?" Nick deadpans. "That's what you're getting stuck on here." He shakes his head.
"Detectives!" Hermione's call comes unexpectedly soon.
"You know where Harry is?" Nick asks as he runs up to meet her by the captain's car. He looks around to see Taymor is still bound by the ropes Ron had used and is now he's gaged as well. Sean and Sirius are exchanging quick words in what sounds like French. "What's going on?"
Hermione twists her fingers together. "Sirius got what he needs but there's a problem."
"Of course there is." The grimm growls out in frustration. He combs a shaky hand through his hair.
"Taymor's given a kill order." Sirius walks past Sean quickly, making a bee line for Nick. "The lowens are getting rid of all the evidence right now. You and I are going there, Sean knows where to meet us. There's no time to explain more." He extends his hand towards the grimm.
When Nick reaches back with a questioning frown the other clasps onto his forearm tightly. "What?"
A flicker of amusement flashes across Sirius's face. "I recommend closing your eyes and holding your breath." He winks then pulls the grimm in close with startling ease. "Whatever you do, don't let go."
Nick doesn't have time to say a word. An odd tingling in his arm is all the warning he gets and he gulps a breath down quickly. The world starts to shift just when he squeezes his eyes shut. What happens next is without a doubt the most disorienting, distressing, and nauseating experience of his life. Suddenly all of his center of gravity shifts to his navel and he feels as though his entire being is being sucked and compressed from that point.
Harry startles awake to the sound of shouting and running foot falls. He feels… weird… like his skin isn't on quite right. "Urgh." He lets out a disgusted noise when he tries to lick his dry mouth and lips. Everything tastes like aluminum.
It's when he reaches up to wipe his eyes clear and his hands are stopped short that fragmented memories float through his mental fog. Unfortunately with that awareness also comes the painful reminder from his torn shoulder.
More shouting catches his attention, he shakes his head in an attempt to clear his thoughts. There's still a fine fog in his cage, Harry wonders what it is they're drugging him with, he knows if he could focus for more than a few moments at a time he would be able to figure it out.
"C'mon old man! For fucks sake the cops are probably already on the way, just fucking shoot him and move on!" A man's voice yells from somewhere not too far.
The gunshot comes shortly after. It's so loud and so close that Harry jumps and bangs his head on the bars behind him. His heart is hammering so loud in his ears and chest that when another shot comes, this time a little closer, Harry thinks it's going to burst through his rib cage.
The panic and fear flood him with adrenaline and strangely enough, Harry's mind sharpens. He glances down at the manacles and finally recognises the designs engraved around them. He doesn't have to think about it, this is the only chance he's got and it's going to hurt like bitch.
The manacles keeping him captive, funnel whatever magic he tries to use to power the burning runes etched into them. Historically, there's no evidence that anyone had been able to escape them without either burning their hands off or draining the core to the point of being a near squib.
Harry presses his lips together as the burning intensifies, another shot rings out. This one sounded much to close. He grunts, his breath is coming in short quick bursts making his lungs burn as well from the smoke still left around him. Tears roll down his cheeks and through his blurred vision he can see the iron glowing bright red.
Black spots start to form in the corners of Harry's vision.
The sheet covering his cage is ripped away. "Sorry kid- What the?"
Harry recognises the old man, and bares clenched teeth up in defiance. He lets his rage take over when he sees the barrel pointing at his head. It's the final push he needs, the flesh under the cuffs is sizzling. Just when he thinks he's got no more magic left to give, a sound, like the clapping of thunder rings out.
A shock wave ripples out from the shattered irons sending shrapnel out with it.
Harry pants in exhaustion, he's sure he's been hit by some for the flying shards. He looks up, searching for the shot that never came and spots a lowen bracing himself against a nearby wall. The wesen coughs, blood trickles down his chin as he sinks to the ground. Little blotches of red begin to stain the man's shirt.
He laughs from inside his cage, it's a dark chuckle. His mouth tastes of blood and Harry spits it out towards his dying captor. Perhaps he'll die here after all but at least the son of bitch was going down with him.
"BOMBADA!" A familiar voice sounds from a distance and the door Harry hadn't noticed until now explodes in a shower of splinters and dust. "HARRY!" Sirius' desperate call seems too good to be true.
What Harry hears next though is even more like something out of a dream. Nick comes running into the room right behind his father. "Harry!" The grimm yells out while waving away the dust obscuring their view of the room.
"Here!" He croaks out suddenly feeling weak and sleepy. "I'm here!" Harry passes an arm through the bars, the glimpse he catches of his wrist makes him nauseous.
When Sirius and Nick make it to his bars, Harry can't keep his eyes open anymore. He smiles wetly and everything fades to black. It's nice to be saved instead of doing the saving.
Hello lovely readers, I'd like to apologies for the long wait on this one... I'm sorry to say it's been finished for some time and posted on my ao3 account and I'd completely forgotten to post here. Terribly embarrassing, and again so sorry :( I hope this chapter makes up for the long wait, the next chapter should take a month realistically as I have 2 other fics in the works and RL is a thing lol thank you all for reading!