"They're here," Monroe said, and their little group mounted the next rise, and looked down - and saw Bud and several Eisbibers held captive alongside Juliette. 'Captive' in the sense of being held in place by Mr. Rabe, who still had a gun trained on him by the woman Nick recognized as the woman who claimed to be his mother.
"Sorry I'm late," Captain Renard said, coming up from behind Nick and Monroe, joining them. Looking at Rabe, "Always good hired muscle. Or under-threat muscle."
"There are better, Renard," Vera said, coming up, leading a line of earthshakers - a line of them so long that they encircled the lower ground where the Eisbibers et al were captive. "You just can't afford them. But then, neither can the Verrat." The earthshakers were both classic Ogres and something slenderer, slightly taller, and one-eyed.
"Where did you get Arimaspeans from?" Monroe asked. Under his breath to Nick, "They're the cyclopses."
"They and the Ogres are, with rare rogue exceptions, are loyalists we keep close to us," Vera said. "They rarely wander."
"Some do," Nick said.
"Rogues. Every species has them. Even Blutbaden, as you've encountered."
Monroe said something under his breath. "Yeah," he said.
Vera said to Monroe, "Stop concerning yourself with your home - it is fine. It was repaired by she who is Hexenbiest once more." Into the vale, Vera shouted, "Surrender now, Grimm. Or the penalties accrue more painfully for you."
"That would cost you the mis-minded young lady you tried fobbing off on my son," the hostage-taker called back. "Send down my son, and I may give the Eisbibers a release from their troubles."
"I'm going," Nick said. "Anyone tries to stop me, and I think you know by now what I'll do."
"I'm going with you," Renard said. "This isn't about playing the hero - it's about keeping her from having the playing field she wants."
"Tell you what, if anything happens to me, you can have her," Nick said and he made his way down the little slope and across the ground to where the Eisbibers were. "I'm here," Nick said. "Can Mr. Rabe take my friends to safety now?"
"Go," his mother said. Rabe was almost up the slope faster than Bud was. "Are you here to defeat me, or to convince me to join you?"
"Is that standard Grimm protocol?" Nick asked.
"No. Standard protocol is to exterminate any Wesen suspected of activity outside the society norms of the time and place. But I've also been gathering reports as to your unconventional M.O., Nick."
"Should I be flattered?"
"You may be. But you should also be aware by now of our sister organizations in the Wesen ranks."
"The Verrat and the Reapers," Nick said. "Yeah, I've had run-ins with them."
"The Reapers in the Old World are more the do-the-biddings of the Verrat these days. Around here, the Reapers have greater autonomy. But one thing does not change.
"In all of history, there is only one thing on which we Grimms are in agreement with the Reapers and the Verrat."
"Really? I might have thought two things, in all that time," Nick said. "What's the one?"
"That the Nock - the Nixen as your Blutbaden say - cannot be trusted. That's why they aren't in charge any more and never will be again."
"I trust Juliette," Nick said.
"She is one of them," his mother said. "In spirit and morals, certainly. In sympathies, definately."
"I don't care. I love her."
"And what will that change?"
"I don't know and don't care what it changes - I won't abandon Juliette to you or to anyone else."
"I suppose you're going to say I have to go through you if I want her dead."
"Except for one thing, Nicholas," his mother said to him, gripping him by the front of his shirt. "I am a Grimm," and hurled him through the air to one side.
Juliette locked her eyes on Nick's body, and she kicked away, moving as fast as she could through the wood and underbrush, ignoring the pains from thorns and splintery sticks -- and she leaped, rolling over in mid-air and clutching Nick.
And they landed, Juliette taking the brunt of the impact.
While Renard and Monroe were starting to make his way down the slope, each with one eye on the proceedings, Juliette was talking: "Go," she asked Nick. "Do...what you think is best."
"Hey, I'm not -" Nick started to say.
Juliette considered staring him down, or trying to scare him, or giving him an order; ultimately she knew that none of them would work. "Please," she asked him.
Nick nodded, kissed her hands, then her lips. "I'll be back. I promise." He stood up beside her, and turned to face his mother. "That wasn't smart," he told her.
"A noble dying gesture doesn't make me reconsider," his mother said. "It just takes her from you. Now the question is how much pain you're willing to see her go through."
"I'm still not going to let you kill her."
"What about you?"
"You'd kill me?" Nick asked.
"I would prefer not to. But will you put her out of her misery, end her suffering, et al all the expressions trotted out for this, Nick?"
"While you run away? Escape once more?"
His mother held up her arms. "Where would I go, Nick? Your friends have this surrounded. My advantage is that not only am I a jurisdictional nightmare, I am also a political hot potato."
"Well in that case," Nick said, and spoke louder: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say..." giving the full Miranda while Monroe and Renard and Vera came down, with one Ogre to hold each of the Mother's arms.
"We got her," Vera said.
"I'll ask about the jurisdiction and hot potato comments later," Nick said, returning to Juliette's side, kneeling beside her. To Juliette, Nick said, "I'm back."
"You did promise," Juliette smiled. And she closed her eyes.
Juliette opened her eyes and found herself back in the hospital. A different room, this time.
Nick was at her side, holding her hand. "Hey," he said.
"You're here," Juliette said.
"A lot of us are in the waiting room, actually."
"We're glad you're okay, Juliette," Sean Renard said, standing alongside the door.
"Thank you," she said.
Nick said, "The doctors are saying that you'll have bruises and pained walking for a while, but there isn't any damage to the spine."
"That's a relief. I'd feel very awkward at the family reunions if I couldn't swim."
Sean and Nick smiled at that.
"So," Juliette asked, "I suppose this means the two of you have finally talked?"
"About jurisdiction?" Nick asked. "Your sister wasn't very forthcoming about that. She just looked at the Captain, and said she'd send the paperwork along."
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine...relatively." She sighed. "You know I used to date Sean, Nick?"
Nick nodded. Before you met me. "I know."
With a weak smile, "Since then, you've both been promoted."
"Nick became a Grimm," Sean said.
"And you became a Captain," Nick said.
"And head of the canton."
"Bigger than a city, smaller than a state."
To Nick, Juliette said, "When shall we schedule the wedding, Nick?"
"You mean you still -"
She nodded. "Just promise me one thing."
"When you need to explain something, begin in the shallows and work to deeper water."
Yeah, the Verrat and Hitler probably weren't the best way to explain Grimms for the first time. "Absolutely. And -"
"I'll abide by it as well," Juliette said.
"I'll let everyone know you're both fine," Renard said, leaving. "Do try not to scandalize the nurses."
SIX MONTHS LATER:
Shopping was progressing moderately well. But there was enough of a line for the seafood that memory was permitted to intrude.
Vera had considered unleashing the restored Adalind Schade on Captain Renard. But one thing held her back: Juliette.
Juliette had never been blood related, but there were other bonds that held ones together as well or better. Trust, tutorship, sisterhood… Vera considered a promise to Juliette as binding as a promise to any other of their Family.
And Juliette had never withdrawn her declaration that Sean Renard was under her protection. An attack on Sean would therefore be an attack on Juliette. And an attack on Juliette would bring the Family and their loyalists down to break the attackers. And now it will bring at least one Grimm to bear.
Looking at the items on the shelves, Vera said, "The only question is, what to get them for a wedding present?"