Here we go with a new story! I hope to update fairly frequently, or at least be reasonably consistent about things. The tone of this one will sober a little later on (want to cover an important topic close to my heart!) but I hope it provides fun and continuity for those of you who followed 'Inheritance'. I try to write so that stories can be stand-alone, so some of the initial stuff you may find a little repetitive if you've read the last one. It's just that I don't want to expect people to go read a different story before this one makes sense. Hope that's ok. And that you enjoy. Introducing a couple of OCs in this one that I'd like to take forward if they prove popular.

X x X

Nick made to lunge after the suave French asshole but his friends hauled him back into line and turned him forcibly towards the front of the club queue. Hank's iron grip suppressed one shoulder. Monroe's the other. Slightly embarrassing that he was so easily suppressed at the moment. They kept him in the pincer movement a few moments longer until they appeared to agree by mutual consent that he wasn't going to break free and brain Juliette's date. Monroe took a deep breath, the kind of breath that Nick just knew was the build-up to one of his gentle lectures.

"Remember the rules for this evening? No fighting, no badges, no guns, or running off. No… complicated women."

"And no woge-ing" Hank added, lest this be forgotten.

Nick's jaw twitched. What did the French shit say? That he was 'expecting someone taller'? If it hadn't been for Juliette's silent apologetic look, he'd have…. Well. Done something Grimm to the snarky Ziegvolk. Did she even know she was dating a Ziegvolk? He cleared his throat and tried to keep his voice level. "I wasn't going to fight him. I was just going to spread him across the wall."

"Oddly, I think that still counts as…fighting. Not that I dislike this new, feisty Nick, but remember Rosalee's sage counsel on this point? If you even want to rebuild so much as a friendship with Juliette…?"

Nick sighed heavily, recited from the book of Rosie. "I must remain a stable, reliable and comfortable constant in the background of her life."

"Good Nick. Sunglasses back on. We're in the queue proper now."

He resented being a stable, reliable and comfortable constant when all he wanted to do was grab Juliette and remind her why they'd been together in the first place. A little out of the question, but he remembered what she was like to kiss. What it was like to have to fight his way out of her hair in a high breeze. And it kept him awake. Of course he agreed with Rosie's strategy in principle, but he couldn't get near Juliette's life to become anything of significance in the background of it. And then she had to trot by the club with that utter fuckwit – Luc, was it? - with his slicked-back hair, limitless sideburns, unsubtle insults and his stupid chin tuft. Nick bristled. God's sake. If you're going to have facial hair, commit to it. He couldn't help glancing back down the street to torture himself with the view of the slimeball's arm round her waist, but was instead fractionally bolstered by Juliette turning back to him under the glare of a street light and mouthing 'sorry' before they dipped back into shadow.

"He was a suave ass," Hank muttered. "That was an evil snark he gave you, buddy. Gotta say, I'd have cocked him cold for that."

"Could you not encourage him, please? Okay, so he was smarmy, but to say that he was 'expecting someone taller' isn't the worst possible insult he could've— Nick, no."

"I'm fine," Nick said. "I'm just putting my fists through the motions. See how it feels to stick an imaginary Luc upside down in the gutter. I'd love to see him remain suave with two condoms and six smoke butts in his hair."

Hank snorted but Monroe eyed him doubtfully. "You sure you took all your meds today? You seem a little…combative."

"It's the Juliette effect. But yeah, I took them all."

"List them."

"Do I have to?"

"Yes!"

Nick felt like a kid proving he'd properly packed his school bag for mom. Monroe had been like this since he'd started going through his second 'puberty – the male 'Grimm change' – determined to keep the 'Nick' inside the strengthening Grimm and help him keep on top of the worst of the second-puberty symptoms. He counted his various disgusting dosages off on his fingers. "Mood stabilising goo: 7am and 1pm. Beat-blocking smoothie: again, 7 and 1. Anti-pheromone pills, yay, 7, 12 and 5 – all before food. Happy?"

Hank chuckled. "I'm a witness to him taking the smoothie…. Well, most of it, anyway. There was a quick diversion to the men's room, wasn't there, Nick?"

Nick blushed. He wasn't quite sure how much of the biceps-of-doom preventative smoothie he'd actually kept down. He wished Hank would shut up – Monroe didn't need to know this.

"Anyway, at least three of the guys at the precinct questioned the wisdom of mixing charcoal with raspberry." He glanced pitifully at Monroe. "Your girlfriend has to come up with more palatable forms of drug, I'm telling you."

Monroe's eyes widened with alarm. "Your colleagues tried his smoothie?"

"Man, I had work to do! I didn't get there in time to stop them!"

"How do you know it was at least three?"

"Burgundy moustaches. Cops don't sip neat."

Nick saw Monroe's wince and didn't like the sound of this either. "What will it do to them?"

"Ah… I've no idea. But if it's meant to reduce muscular testosterone in a Grimm…. Well, I hope they're ok."

Hank now looked alarmed. "Any symptoms I should watch out for?"

"I'd better call Rosalee." Monroe did, but got voicemail. Again. He looked stressed, even for Monroe, and left a message asking her to call him back pronto. "This is just a guess, but it may make your colleagues a little… tired. Or just – not able to do stuff they can usually do, like jack the car up."

"Or wrestle a perp?"

"Probably not."

"Oh… man. I'm on call. If those guys go down sick, that's my night over."

Monroe, social secretary, looked outraged. "You said you had the night off!"

"It's been slow since the Southland drug-bust got compromised! While the narcs are starting from scratch and re-laying all their moles, I thought it would be safe to come out on an on-call night. There's nothing going down at the moment. Besides, I'll be drinking Bitburger. It's not like I'm getting pissed – I'm here for the babes."

"No complicated women!"

"Nothing complicated about a one-night stand." Hank shrugged. Then clapped a consolatory hand on Nick's shoulder. "I'm sorry about the Jules meet-up, man. That's harsh. Particularly as you're wearing that shirt."

Monroe eyed Hank, then Nick suspiciously. "You are taking the anti-pheromones, aren't you?"

Nick rolled his eyes. "I think Juliette's total lack of pouncing, even with 'this shirt', proves that I'm taking the anti-pheromones."

"And Monroe – don't go reading anything into that remark. It was a purely sartorial comment. No Bromance here. Anyway – if I have any suspicion at all that he's getting an inordinate amount of sexual attention – I have a back-up plan." Hank pulled his jacket open discreetly to reveal the butt of what looked like a Glock. Even Nick stared. Hardly service issue.

"What happened to no guns?"

"This isn't a gun. No, my friends, this is a 1995 retractable, self-loading spraying device, capable of holding up to two cups of water in the magazine and the chamber." Hank winked at Nick. "If there's so much of a hint of people throwing themselves at you, you're getting sprayed, buddy."

Monroe still stared: eventually snapped out of it. "Where can I get one?"

Nick smiled thinly and let them get on with discussing his chances of pulling without the pheromones. He faded out of the conversation: it was hardly flattering. That shirt was part of his 30th birthday present from Juliette, bought optimistically in an 'L'. It was a really smart dark-grey shot-colour number with silver threads blended throughout. His previous, less solid outline probably didn't do the shape much justice. Now it sat on his shoulders quite neatly and tucked into his trousers trimly, and he no longer looked like a little sardine lost.

Not that his improved appearance in 'that shirt' had made any impression on Jules whatsoever. He didn't think anything was going to make an impression on her. In the few days of him emitting Grimm pheromones in every direction (before Rosie had come up with the dose that would prevent him from getting sexually assaulted by nonagenarians as he was leaving the house in the morning) he'd suffered a moment of blind need to see Juliette and took a six mile detour on his run that would 'accidentally' take him past her yard. She was actually taking the milk out as he passed and he couldn't believe his luck, stopping to chat with her, his heart bursting with joy with every extra sentence of friendly normality she uttered. But she remained normal: no throwing herself at him; no silent observation on his tiny shorts; no inviting him in to help her unpack the milk. Totally, totally immune to him, his rampant hormones, and his clingy teeshirt. She'd simply seemed pleasantly surprised to see him, happy for a quick chat, and equally happy to send him on his way so he could beat his 'best time'.

Fucking Adalind and her thoroughness. He let his breath out. Time to move on.

He tuned back in to hear Monroe intoning their evening's crimes, albeit quietly so as not to alarm others in the queue. "…Okay, so we have guns, badges, one complicated woman – no offence, Nick – any other rules anyone wants to break before we go in?"

"There will be no wogeing. That's a non-negotiable."

Nick flinched. Hank was doing well with the whole acclimatisation business – this evening was all about getting him used to 'seeing' the things in a non-threatening environment – but he still had the habit of seeing wesen as alien species who'd mostly murder him if he gave them the chance. Maybe this evening wasn't such a good idea. He leant over and murmured.

"Hank, it's Tennant's Bar. A wesen club. They have a woge-on-the-door policy. I did tell you about this."

"I don't mind any other ass doing their thing: I'm just not ready for Monroe to go all American-Werewolf-in-London on me. Still getting used to this, alright? Baby steps. That's what I need."

"Dude – it's fine. Incidentally, it's pronounced vog-ing

"Seriously?" Hank chuckled. "As in…?" he performed some surprisingly expert choreography.

"No, not vogue-ing. Vog-ing, with a 'k' in the middle of that 'g'. If the only thing Nick had to worry about was people performing a Madonna whenever he looked at them too closely, he'd be a less stressed guy. Speaking of which, and being 'Mom' again, wear your shades."

"I feel a berk in them."

"Put them on!" Monroe hissed. "We're in a huge queue of international wesen who don't know you're nice and cuddly, and you are a G-r-i-m-m.

"It's dark!"

Hank folded his arms warningly. "On, Nick."

Nick stuffed them on his face. "Are you guys going to gang up on me all night?"

"Yes," they said as one, and he sulked out of the conversation for a few minutes, feeling a complete ass – a nearly blind ass – trying to adjust to what little light there was coming through his shades while they chatted about the spice shop, the ridiculousness of 'Keeping up with the Kardashians'… - "keep up with them? They wear six inch heels! A turtle could overtake!" -

The shades were an absolute godsend, allowing him to just look around without catching anyone's eye – particularly in this queue – and think to himself without causing an unnecessary scene. Genius idea of Monroe's. And so simple. He chuckled absently to himself. As well as their various strictures (such as the list memoranda shoved in his wallet called 'unwise places to stretch shirtlessly before taking morning pills') and the absolutely disgusting bank of medicines they'd prepared for his fridge, Eddie and Rosalie had been the king and queen of support through this whole physical transition. There were a couple of things he couldn't quite master, however.

His gaze appeared to have become more intense: he'd dropped by Frank Rabe's office to drop off his and his mom's copies of the document contesting Aunt Marie's will, which somewhat savagely threatened to withhold financial inheritance from him until he was 35 and a 'proper Grimm'. It was good to have his mom's support on that. Eventually. And he was in a good mood when welcomed into Rabe's office. He'd gone over to shake the Jagerbar's hand and give him a crate of Merlot by way of thanks, but as soon as he took the shades off, the guy stared at him for ten impossibly long seconds, then his eyes rolled to the whites and he hit the carpet. One minute upright – next minute keeping the draughts out. Awkward to explain to his secretary.

And he could do nothing about his Grimm voice 'breaking', and the terrible moments it chose to become dense and menacing, even when he did nothing to change the pitch, volume or tone of his voice. If he were feeling particularly tired or low, it would even affect his colleagues. Though he essentially sounded the same, he could feel the change in his ears and the very pit of his throat: it was like he was issuing thundering commands from an echoey cloud rather than saying 'please pass the evidence', and the sudden crack of his Grimm voice had even startled the Captain off the side of his desk, where he'd been leaning so masterfully. And he had no control over it to prevent it or use it. He could feel a tickle coming and would try to apply it actively in the peace of his own home, Monroe observing and reviewing, but it would get away from him and he'd be back to being cop Nick. Which wasn't a bad thing, but… it would be nice to have his own equivalent of the Jedi wave to employ when he needed it.

"…So that's about the size of it," Hank muttered. "Whole Southlands deal gone bust. All the cops in the stakeout got pounded – particularly the Gresham PD guys – some of them won't be leaving hospital this month. The J got moved, and in few days, when the dust has settled, it'll start finding its way into dealers' pockets again. It sucks."

Nick winced. Hank worked the Narcotics desk before moving over to grand felony and homicide. "Must be hard for the guys in Narc to work this one. How are they staking out a stack of 'drugs' which are technically not illegal?"

"They can prove that they're harmful, and seize them. When there's been chemical testing, it can get a legal classification. But the only thing those guys care about is getting the stuff back before it finds its way onto playgrounds in little clear baggies."

Monroe hummed thoughtfully. "Well, just so your Narc boys know – Rosie is happy to help them identify this stuff when it rises."

"Appreciate that man, thanks. How is your complicated woman, anyway?"

"Ok, I guess."

Nick glanced at Monroe, concerned. He looked a little dazed and disoriented. Usually he'd be outraged at anyone daring to class Rosalee in the group of 'complicated' women. "Everything ok with you guys?"

"Oh, yeah, sure. She's just been… acting a little weird lately. She's out tonight, but she's had this tummy bug so she's been so tired and… and… nesty."

Nick frowned. "Nesty?"

"Filling the place with soft furnishings. God knows why. And she's been ripping bin bags, which she only does when she's really stressed."

Hank leant back behind Monroe and mouthed: Pregnant! echoing Nick's immediate thought almost precisely.

"It's the weepy that gets me," Monroe went on. "We'll be watching something fairly mentally unchallenging like Auction Kings, and then she'll go into floods because some old lady can visit her grandson in Sydney with the proceeds from her carriage clock. I mean it's nice, but something you don't sob over, surely?"

Pregnant! Nick held the word back tightly. "Uh.. maybe you should just take her to the doctor to get her blood sugar tested, or something? It could be something really simple."

"Yeah. Blood sugar, or iron. Just get Rosie to do a bunch of tests that involve peeing on a stick—"

Nick chuckled into his hand as Monroe tore Hank a new one for even thinking about his Rosie peeing on sticks, but it was efficiently done, if not smoothly: they'd at least put the germ of an idea of a test into his head without blowing the conversation open awkwardly. He had to thank Hank for that, especially as he was taking the earbashing silently and valiantly and almost with a straight face. But then, Hank probably had his own version of the Pack Rules and clearly his own equivalent of rule #6: "When your buddy's in a good relationship and his girl is pregnant, he has the right to feel that he is the first to know."

As his friends continued to bicker, resuming normal argumentative service, they moved closer and closer to the front of the queue where a massive doorman – about 6-6 with quite Icelandic features (Lowen?) – appeared to be sifting out humans on their dress code. He was polite but insistent in his strong English accent, adding 'have a good evening' after blasting various trouser combinations and sending people away in small miserable pockets to re-start their evening elsewhere. Nick brought the selection process to his friends' attention in case it meant that Hank couldn't get in. A party of girls two groups in front of them got turned away for 'unduly plungy tops'.

Monroe peered over the top of the group ahead, standing on tippy toes, tilting an ear to their wogeing conversation. He lowered himself back down, satisfied. "No, he's only doing that if there are no wesen in the group. Hank's with us. It'll be fine."

Tennant's Bar was absolutely massive. It was a Bavarian-themed place, so Nick had expected all the timber-cladding and the real ale and a kind of cosy, winter atmosphere, but no – this was a serious club. Strobe lights flickered down the stairs and lit up the hallway, it was pitch black inside save for the disco searchlights, and the heavy bass of Air's 'Sexy Boy' grated through the courtyard in front of the entrance and scraped through the pavement beneath their feet. The only concession to anything even vaguely Bavarian that Nick could see was the copper plaque to the left of the huge doorman, which Nick – having studied a little - translated back as:

No sporting colours

No sneakers

No Seigbarste's

The management reserve the right to eject unsuitable persons.

The guys in front – Danish Lausenschlangen – were admitted after a quick group hissy fit, and then it was their turn. The doorman started with Hank. He stared, but obviously nothing happened.

"You with these gentlemen, sir?"

"Yep."

"Fine. Be careful."

"Will do." And in Hank went. Easy. He trotted halfway up the stairs to wait.

Monroe stepped up and did his shift, growling softly. The doorman didn't reciprocate but nodded abruptly. Monroe was about to push through when halted by a hand on his chest.

"Hang about, son. Your chain."

Nick smiled. His voice was unmistakeably London. Ray Winstone London, not Hugh Grant London.

"My chain?" Monroe looked bemused. "It's holding my wallet onto my trousers."

"Let's have it please, sir."

"What?"

"Could be classed as an offensive weapon."

"W-What do you think I'm going to do? Hit someone with my overdraft?"

"Off. You can have it back later. I'll put it in the office."

Monroe handed it over grumpily and stomped up the stairs with Hank. Nick watched them disappear, hoping they were on their way to at least order three drinks. He went to follow them when a massive hand landed in the middle of his chest.

"No shades."

"What?"

The doorman sighed. "Apart from the utter prat factor, it's dark in there. If you want to take your nads out on a table corner, do it in your own time. I'm not calling any ambulances. Pop 'em away."

Reluctantly, Nick tucked them into the v of his shirt and tried again to follow without making eye-contact, but was predictably hauled back.

"Not so fast, sunshine, let's have a look at you. Oo, nice shirt. Ok – face up, and – FUCK!" The doorman woged involuntarily from human to Seigbarste and back again. Nick felt a vice-like grip round his bicep and found himself being hauled into the darkest corner of the courtyard by the uncompromising giant, who pinned him against the wall, calling back to the other doorman, a troll, to keep things moving. Nick found himself breathing too fast. Something about Seigbarstes gave him a fear of being hurled through multiple coffee tables. He tried to free his arm, but even with only the quarter dose of beat-blocker he'd managed to down at lunch time, he couldn't muster any power to peel those steely fingers from around his upper arm. His tricep was screaming.

In the darkened corner, the Seigbarste released his arm and muttered in his ear. "Are you completely barking? This is a wesen bar. NO GRIMMS."

"Doesn't say anything about that on your house rules," Nick muttered back, feeling like he was following completely the wrong line of argument.

"I'll add it. Thanks for spotting the oversight. Now piss off."

"You've just let my friends in!"

"They're not Grimms."

There was no arguing with that. Nick calmed right down and tried persuasion. "Look, I'm just here to chill. I'm pretty well known around here, and lots of people here would tell you th—"

"Don't try the old 'do you know who I am' act with me, mate. As it happens, no, I don't. I don't know you from Adam because this is my first week in the job, and over half the wesen in there and in the queue won't know you're here for a few beers, either. Look – you've got a nasty rep. I wouldn't let a reaper in. I'm not letting you in either. End of."

Could this be happening? Nick gaped, fighting for a way back into the debate and pointed at the houserules sign in desperation. There was clearly no fighting the guy, he didn't succumb to charm, Nick didn't trust his voice to break at the appropriate moment…. He resorted to species empathy.

"Does anything about that sign bother you?"

The Seigbarste turned and looked. "The apostrophe's a bit distressing. Oh, and 'persons'. That's just a prick's plural. And of course it's apparently missing 'No Grimms', which you'd have thought would be screamingly obvious to the tiniest intelligence. Other than that – spot on."

Was this guy really a Seigbarste? He had better grammar than half the guys he worked with. Nick tried again. "So it doesn't bother you that you're employed to keep your own people out of the club?"

"Who are you? The Seigbarstes' bloody union rep? It takes a Seigbarste to stop a Seigbarste. And for a bag of sand a week—"

"They pay you in sand?"

"A grand! You know – thousand quid? For a bag of sand a week, I can cope with the unlovely slur upon my people." The big guy stopped and pinched the bridge of his nose for composure. "Look, like I said, this is my first week in the job. Some total cock has double-booked a Lowen Wedding reception with the 100th Anniversary of the Portland Eis Lodge and I'm stressed enough trying to keep them in separate rooms. What I don't need is you swanning in there and causing a riot. So, no."

Nick deflated. The big guy regarded him warily in the dimness.

"Look, I'm not a complete ogre. You've got five minutes to call, text your mates or whatever, get them out here and have a nice time somewhere else. But if you're still hanging around after that, I'm going to pound you. Have a nice evening."

The Seigbarste returned to his post as Nick wandered back into the lit part of the courtyard and sat on the edge of the sidewalk round the corner from the club. He felt vaguely stunned and was about to thumb out an SOS to Monroe when a text from the devil came into his phone, interrupted continuously by a 'LOW BATTERY' warning.

M: Where are you?

N: Barred by arsehole Seigbarste doorman. No Grimm policy. Go somewhere else?

LOW BATTERY! LOW BATTERY!

There was a short pause.

M: Seriously?

LOW BATTERY!

M: Lolololol!

H: LMFAO!

Nick steamed quietly and tried to thumb out his last text before his mobile died altogether.

You coming out or what?

M: Dude! Shirt on. See you in 5. Lol.

It kind of burned that he'd never really seen Monroe laugh out loud: smirk, chortle, chuckle, yeah. Belly laugh? Not yet. And there he was, having one at his expense and he wasn't even around to see it. It also burned slightly that Hank joined in. And to think he'd worried about them not bonding this evening. He turned off the dying phone and stuck it in his back pocket, hoping they wouldn't take too long.

Then a shadow fell over him and he heard a familiar voice – soft, precise, playful.

"You been causing trouble again?"

Juliette. And she was alone.

I'd like to thank one lovely reviewer for putting the idea of a fainting bear in my head… hee hee.