Hank and Nick climbed out of Hank's pulled up in front of a quaint little restaurant, searching the crowd for their friends. Monroe had called Nick at the precinct and let him know that he and Rosalee were taking their new friend to eatery just around the corner from their crime scene - the Rose and Stone - and suggested he get Juliet to meet them there. "Any sign of them?" Nick asked.
"Not that I can see" Hank replied, locking his vehicle behind them. "What did Juliet say when you called her? She curious about meeting your look-alike?"
"I didn't tell her about Nico" Nick admitted sheepishly. "Wanted it to be a surprise."
"Oh it will be" Hank responded, shaking with mirth. "Do you suppose there is a duplicate Juliet where he's from?"
"Dealing with two of ME is about all I can handle right now" Nick laughed. "Dealing with two of her would be a nightmare. Look, there are Monroe and Rosalee. They must have called ahead for a reservation." He slid between a group of people gathering at the door of the restaurant with Hank at his back, joining his Wesen friends at their table.
Hank blinked as he looked around, noticing they were one short. "Where's Nico?"
Monroe shrugged. "Said he had to check into his hotel and would catch up with us. I got the feeling he was wanting to spend some quality time with a hot shower and some cleaner clothes. He was beginning to look - and smell - a little scruffy when we left."
Rosalee smiled up at their friends. "He said something about the journey being a little dustier than usual. I suspect he more wanted to make sure some of those jars of herbs we identified were hidden someplace those kids wouldn't think to look for them - like wherever he's staying." She glanced at the menu for a moment then laid it down beside her plate. "I also got the impression that he thought those kids wouldn't go out of their way to look for him even if they knew he was here."
"Why?" Hank asked.
"He really never said anything specific - more of an impression than actual words." Monroe laid his menu down as well. "In a strange sort of way I suspect he's a lot like Nick. Those kids maybe looking at Nico like most Wesen look at the Grimm - not someone they want to mess with."
"Where is he staying?" Nick asked, curious. He wondered if Nico were more like Kelly than himself - a predator hiding under that calm surface. For a moment he wondered what his mother would have thought about his doppelganger, then thought better of it. Kelly was more a hunter than her son and finding herself looking into the eyes of her son's double might have prodded her into actions that couldn't be rectified.
"He didn't say - just said it wouldn't take him long to meet up with us. I'm assuming his hotel is close by." Monroe glanced out the restaurant window, noticing the growing crowd in front of the door. "Wonder what that's all about?"
A waiter, bringing menus for the newcomers, looked in the direction of the door and shrugged. "Birthday party" he groused. "Some guy's turning legal age and his parents are holding a celebration for him here."
"You don't sound enthused" Hand commented, checking out the menu.
"I'm not" the waiter admitted. "The restaurant is small and parties get loud. Our regulars don't like the noise so they go elsewhere. And big parties are really bad tippers." The young man shrugged. "Not anything we can do about that. So - Can I start you all off with something to drink?"
"Seltzer for me" a familiar voice called out. Nico appeared at the table, his longish hair still damp from his shower. "Sorry - don't drink. At least - not on duty."
"No problem" Nick said, ordering a beer for himself. Hank and Monroe followed Nick's lead while Rosalee requested wine. "So where are you staying?"
"Hotel down the block" Nico responded, pulling his chair around where he could see the door. "Nice place."
"If it's the one I'm thinking of it's also very expensive" Rosalee said, glancing at her friends.
"Probably is" Nico said with a grin. "But I'm not the one paying the bill. My boss is."
"And you decided to stick her with an tab she's not likely to forget?" Nick laughed. "Man, I'd give real money to try that on Renard."
"I don't get the feeling your lieutenant would be as accommodating as my Queen" Nico responded smugly.
"Nick?" Juliet's voice called over the noise of the gathering party.
"Over here" Nick waved his girlfriend over, standing so that she wouldn't immediately see Nico seated at the table.
"Nice place" Juliet said, approvingly. "You're lucky I hadn't taken anything out of the fridge for dinner when I got your call. What's the occasion?"
"No occasion" Nick replied smugly. "Just wanted you to meet someone." He stepped aside and gestured to his double. 'Juliet, I'd like you to meet Nico. Nico - this is my girlfriend Juliet."
Juliet's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open in surprise. "I... hello?"
Nico grinned. "Let me guess - he didn't warn you about me." Nico rose and held out his hand, gently taking hers in a firm grasp. "Let me pull you up a chair and we can go over the basic questions everyone seems to ask." He gestured to a passing waiter and as soon as Juliet was seated returned to his own seat. "First - no I'm not related to Nick. At least, not that I know. Just one of those weird coincidences Fate likes to throw out there. Second - Yes - I'm a cop like he is. Just arrived on assignment, which is how he and I met. Third - let's forget any other questions and just enjoy our dinner." He flashed a boyish grin, reminiscent of Nick's, and grabbed up his own menu.
Across town - at the Spice Shop
A puff of smoke and a few sparks were the only signs that someone was breeching the shop's front door. The two teenagers who had approached Rosalee before stepped over the threshold warily, eyes darting towards any dark corner where someone could be lurking. "I told you they had left" the girl muttered, flexing her fingers to end the small spell she had created.
"If Warlock is here then others from Cadre Macbeth maybe as well. Maybe even the Queen's guard he's bedding - the assassin Artemisia." The boy, Thomas Bell, inched carefully around the store, trying to read the names on the glass containers without touching them.
The girl - his sister Lilly Bell - rolled her eyes in annoyance. "You are too easily cowed by their association with the Throne. Away from their Masters neither of them would be a match for our God." She poked at a few of the jars, moving them carefully to one side, noticing empty spaces where jars had once stood. "The shopkeeper must have found the ingredients on our list. See - there were jars here when last we entered the store that are not here now."
"Warlock must have identified them for her" Thomas replied, his voice quivering with fear. "One of the traders who frequented my father's store said he was a resident of the Dragon Temple where many of the King's apothecaries study."
"Which means they have probably tried to hide the jars or move them to a different location" Lilly huffed. She glanced up at the clock on the wall and shrugged. "No point in searching now. We need to return to the others if we are to be there for the event."
"Does the priestess really think this will work?" Thomas replied skeptically. "The potion has never been used in this way before."
"She thinks that the herbs she's introduced as a substitute for those we could not bring with us will make it better as an aerosol than as a potion. I am not inclined to doubt her wisdom." Lilly glanced around one last time, catching sight of the basement door. "I'll bet they moved some of these missing jars into the cellar. When the event is over we can start our search there." She glided out the door, her brother following close behind. Neither saw the cellar door open or the tall figure who stepped out.