black_sluggard: (Default)
Title: Grimm Reflections
Series: Grimm Reflections
Fandoms: Castle, Grimm
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Fantasy, Angst, Romance, Humor
Details: Slash, crossover, AU, genre!crack, fairytales, mythical creatures, unbetad.
Characters/Pairings: Castle―Javier Esposito/Kevin Ryan, Richard Castle, Jenny O'Malley. Grimm―Nick Burkhardt, Hank Griffin, Monroe, Drew Wu.
Wordcount: 1,888
Summary: A close call on the job exposes Kevin Ryan to a hidden world that has always existed just out of sight―and leaves him viewing the people closest to him in a whole new light...
Notes: Follows Until Lambs Become Lions.


Chapter Four: The Huntsman

As Kevin looked down at the drawing in the book being slid his way, it was impossible for him to hold back a shudder.

When Detective Burkhardt rejoined them in Kevin's hotel room, he had brought what looked like half of a very old—and very musty—library along with him. These books, it was explained, were journals kept by Nick's ancestors. Grimms like himself—including Jacob and Wilhelm, the well-known Brothers Grimm, whose family had become the namesake of those like them—they had been documenting their encounters with the creatures known as wesen for generations.

And Kevin himself was somehow a part of all this.

He was still trying—steadfastly trying—to wrap his head around all the things Nick and his partner had told him. Not surprisingly, it wasn't an easy task.

"Is this one of the ones you saw?" Nick asked, having clearly seen his reaction.

Kevin nodded slowly, giving a quick glance at the writing filling the page beside the illustration. It wasn't in a language he could read, however, so he ignored it, staring silently at the image on the page.

"Skalengeck," Nick supplied helpfully. "They're generally opportunistic offenders—not particularly ambitious or predatory, but reckless enough to make them dangerous when they find something they do want."

"Right," Kevin managed calmly—or at least he hoped.

Taking a deep breath Kevin tried to focus on the pages in front of him. The picture was an alarmingly good likeness of the thing William Dane had become, and he recognized the word Javier had used for it. Flipping through the pages, each one rewarded him with an image just as awful—and in many cases, much worse—and Kevin was hard pressed to hold reign on the galloping panic he felt beginning to mount at the knowledge that every one of them was real.

At least until the sight of another beast—strange-eyed, and oddly delicate-looking—caught his attention.

"This one," Kevin managed after a long moment's silence, still too breathless to properly make it a question.

Nick moved to stand behind him, looking over his shoulder at the opened page.

"That one's a seelengut," he said. "They're usually harmless on their own, but I'd be careful about underestimating them. And they can be difficult to reason with in a herd–"

Remembering Jenny's family during preparations for the wedding—her mother and aunts, siblings, cousins, second cousins, and other extended relations he never had gotten the chance to classify, and their overwhelmingly clear, strong opinions about exactly how things were going to happen—Kevin couldn't help the faint, almost hysterical laugh that escaped him.

"Laugh when you've seen a man who was trampled to death by a group of kindly church-goers," Hank said, uneasily. "If I hadn't already seen much worse by then, I'd probably have nightmares."

Of course, thinking back further over his various experiences with the Duffy-O'Malley clan, Kevin didn't think that sounded very far out of character either.

Though any hard-won amusement he may or may not have entertained at the thought evaporated quickly a few pages later. It was actually the human figure in the illustration that first caught his eye—the iconic crested helmet of a gladiator easily recognizable to anyone passingly familiar with cheesy old Hollywood movies. His confusion at the detail distracted him momentarily, and it was a few seconds more before he managed to take in the image—the coliseum and in particular the man's opponents, so obviously inhuman—in its entirety. Once his brain successfully fumbled for understanding he quickly flipped back to the beginning of the entry and the familiar, frightening face that greeted him.

"And this?" Kevin asked, distantly proud of himself for the steadiness of his voice.

"Löwen, right?" Hank asked as he leaned forward to look at the page.

Nick confirmed his partner's words with a nod—and what Kevin thought was an unhappy noise.

"Now those are usually bad news."

"Are they...evil?" Kevin found himself asking—somewhat startled that he even had, and already dreading the answer.

But to his relief the other detective—the other Grimm—shook his head.

"I don't know if I'd call any kind of wesen evil, exactly," Nick said. "But many of them have drives that can make it difficult to integrate into human society to varying degrees. Löwen are...aggressive, and competitive, and the ones we've met seem to lean toward dominating others. They can be violent, but I've known...a few who managed to fit in."

Though from the tone of his voice it was clear he had met a larger number that hadn't.

Still, in spite of Nick's rather damning assessment, Kevin found himself letting out a sudden snort, shaking his head.

"God," he said, though it was hardly more than a disarmed mutter, "that actually does kind of sound like Javi..."

And it really did, and even more so the longer Kevin thought about it. For while those weren't all traits that his partner was particularly proud of, Javier's measured efforts at keeping them under control didn't change the fact that they were there.

Of course Kevin wasn't able to think about it for very long. As his thoughtful silence stretched out he noticed—albeit somewhat belatedly—that both Nick and Hank were looking at him. And though neither of them seemed about to push for details, their expressions still betrayed curiosity—and not a small amount of concern.

"My partner," Kevin offered quietly, by way of explanation. "Back in New York. He's..."

He couldn't quite finish, but he managed a somewhat helpless gesture toward the page, his meaning plain.

Silence hung for a moment—not quite an awkward one, but one that was odd-shaped that neither man seemed quite sure how to fill. It was Nick who eventually broke it with a soft snort.

"Having a wesen partner..." he mused, almost wistfully as he took his seat, joining Kevin and Hank at the table. "Now that might have been convenient."

"No offense," Nick added, offering Hank a smile.

"Oh, none taken, believe me," Hank said quickly, picking up on his partner's sudden good humor. "Monroe is a lot of things, but convenient isn't one of them."

Nick's response was a faint laugh. Kevin's confusion was pretty much a given at this point, but at least he had managed to avoid just staring blankly.

"Monroe is a friend," Nick said finally, offering some context to the subject. "And he's probably the only reason I survived this whole thing, to be completely honest."

And if Nick hadn't already had Kevin's undivided attention, that statement certainly would have gotten it.

"When I first started seeing them..." Nick began, trailing off slightly. "Well, I was a bit more informed than you were, but not by much. My Aunt Marie had told me what I was—what they were—just before landing in a coma, but otherwise the books were all I had to go by."

"Well..." he added with a faint smile, flipping the pages of the volume opened on the table, "the ones I could read, anyway."

That smile didn't last very long.

"I hate to imagine how things might have turned out if I hadn't met Monroe," Nick said, quietly, soberly and with a soft frown. "How I might have turned out if I only had the books to guide me—what that would have made me."

"What do you mean?" Kevin asked.

"The books paint a very detailed picture of wesen," Nick explained uneasily, "but it's not a very balanced picture. Some of the accounts I've read..."

He trailed off, shaking his head.

"Grimms have a reputation in the wesen world," Nick said, finally, "and it's not hard to see how they got it. Once upon a time, it was their duty to protect people from the dangers they couldn't see, but some were as bad or worse than the creatures they hunted. Those books are full of beheadings, and burnings, and torture—sometimes of innocent victims—and all of it justified by the fact that the persons involved were wesen."

"That's barbaric," Kevin said, horrified.

"It is," Nick agreed with a nod. "And it's what every wesen you're likely to meet is going to have in mind when they meet you."

And now it was all starting to make sense—Jenny's terror leading up to their divorce. And Castle's. And Javier's. The realization left Kevin feeling shaken, and just a little bit ill.

"There isn't any way to make this stop, then," Kevin managed at last once he found his voice, small and washed-out and weary. "I'm going to be seeing them for the rest of my life."

Once he returned to New York there would be no escaping it at all...he would have to face Javier.

"You do get used to it, believe it or not," Nick said, offering Kevin a sympathetic smile. "It's like... Well, you're a detective as well—I'm sure when you meet anyone you can't help but file away the details that stand out. Hair color, eyes, height, identifying marks... This...it's really just another set of details."

Kevin nodded quietly, though those reassurances didn't quite manage to put him at ease—and fortunately, when Nick's phone rang, he wasn't required to fake it any further. Nick excused himself with an apologetic smile and took it outside, leaving Kevin alone with Hank—and with his remaining uncertainties—in the silence that was left behind.

"What am I supposed to do when I get back home?" Kevin found himself asking quietly—of himself more than Hank.

Because it wasn't the sort of question anyone else could answer. But by now much of his earlier panic and confusion had been extinguished, and without those things driving him—guiding him—more than anything else Kevin just felt lost.

"There's more to it than just the wesen thing, isn't there?" Hank said, after a time.

And it wasn't until he had that Kevin realized that, in the absence of any other focus, his eyes had fallen on the pictures in the book once again.

Kevin didn't answer—couldn't answer—right away.

"Javier..." Kevin managed finally, quietly, weakly. "He's not just my partner. We...we're close. Real close. Best friends, even. Or at least that was what I believed. Only now... Now there's all this stuff all of a sudden, and I just don't know–"

The still unvoiced question caused Kevin to falter in his explanation, and his momentum was lost. Fortunately, Hank managed to fill in the blanks on his own.

"You don't know if you can still trust him," Hank guessed.

Looking at his expression Kevin saw, more than mere sympathy, understanding, and only just managed to confirm the assessment with a weak nod.

"It's hard finding out someone you trust has been keeping secrets from you," Hank said quietly, frowning. "Especially when it's the man you've got to count on to have your back every day."

And there was nothing at all pointed about the statement, though even without asking Hank's meaning was obvious.

"I've been there," Hank said, slowly, "but I've also been dealing with this long enough that I've had to learn what it's like being forced to keep these secrets—to break that trust—and I can tell you, that's not an easy position to be in either. And I might not know your partner, but I think once you've really had a chance to see all this from the inside..."

Hank fell quiet a moment, shaking his head...thinking, Kevin was certain, about his own experiences with secrets and betrayal, concessions and regret.

"If the trust between you was ever really deserved," Hank said finally, with conviction, "then I'm sure you'll find a way to forgive him, and learn how to trust him again."

And Kevin was so focused on his words that he nearly jumped when the door was opened suddenly.

"I'll be right there," Nick was saying into his phone, his tone urgent and somewhat tense. "Try to be...hospitable."

He hung up the phone, shaking his head with an expression of disbelief.

"That was Monroe," Nick explained quickly, "I need to get back to my house. Preferably fast."

"Why?" Hank asked. "What's going on?"

In answer, Nick turned to look at Kevin.

"I think your partner's come looking for you."


Chapter Five: The Wolf

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