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Zootopia Dabbles

Chapter Text

While Judy had learned to drive from a very young age – and was surprisingly good at it, she had to inevitably consider her limitations as a small sized creature.
And today, she was dealing with one of them.

As she skillfully drove the cruiser through a difficult road, Nick sat on the passenger’s seat with a loaded sub machinegun in his paws. It was designed for smaller species, but even for him it looked way to big and a bit too heavy.

That kind of gun could not be built to be any smaller without losing its deadliness.

And today, their target was way too dangerous for them to dance into his territory with simple tranq-guns or pistols.

Still… the menacing looking weapon in Nick’s arms made her nervous. And not exactly because of its lethalness.

“Try not to shoot that in the car.” She muttered, never taking her eyes form the road, paws clutching the steering wheel.

Nick looked at his partner, seeing her ears flop down her back, tense. She unconsciously adjusted herself so her ears were tucked between her back and the backrest of the seat. Her nose was twitching a bit.

The fox looked down at the daunting black sub machinegun sitting on his lap, his paws holding it firmly, the barrel aimed somewhere safe to the ceiling of the car.
Judy would never admit that to her colleagues, but Nick knew she was nervous around gunpowder-powered guns.

“You mean not to deafen you?” He offered a smirk, which never failed to intrigue her with this odd ability of his to pull it off in such tense situations.

Nonetheless, he understood what she meant. “Exactly.”

They rode in silence for a couple more minutes, until…

- Shots fired!!! Shots fired!!! Suspect is hostile and heavily armed!!!
- Report your status, Wolford! Are you okay?
- I’m fine, but it’s freaking insane out here! Hopps, Wilde! Proceed with caution!

Nick tightened his grasp on the gun. Judy, the steering wheel.

The cruiser roared as she pushed it to accelerate, and it complied without protest, inertia pushing both officers back into their seats.

Soon, the location came into view: an apparently abandoned barn with rusty old machines at the front. From where they were they caught a glimpse of their colleagues in trouble, Wolford and McHorn, taking cover behind the machines from someone shooting at them, hidden in the shadows of the barn.

Nick reached for the radio as Judy pushed the cruiser faster.

“I’ve got visual of Wolford and McHorn. Proceeding to engage.”

- Understood, Wilde. Be careful.

Apparently, their suspect caught sight of backup coming in. He came out into the open riding a quad, balancing an even more menacing sub machinegun on the handlebar. It was a wildebeest.
He drove past the machines where Wolford and McHorn were, gunshots whistling past him. He aimed the quad, and his gun, at their cruiser, and pushed forwards.

“Judy, look out!” Nick warned, her name slipping in place of her usual nickname when danger settled.

“I’ve got him! I’ve got him!” She said confidently, squaring her shoulders.

Amethyst locked into brown, challenging one another. Daring one another.
And it started raining bullets.

The cruiser’s front became a sieve within seconds. Judy winced and sank behind the wheel when a bullet whistled through the windshield, past the point where her ear would be had it been standing.

Growling deeply, Nick took aim and started shooting straight through the windshield, which pulverized on the spot at the hail of bullets.
The fox never heard Judy’s screams, and would have been astounded at her tenacity, keeping the cruiser moving straight ahead while her eardrums felt like they were being pierced by needles.
It happened in a matter of seconds.

The wildebeest fell off the quad, rolling across the ground. The handlebar turned to the side under the weight of the sub machinegun, driving the quad into the bushes. Judy hit the brakes, stopping the punctured cruiser in a bootleg turn.

Nick opened the door and jumped off, propping the gun against his shoulder as he aimed at the fallen suspect. Wolford and McHorn ran towards them, also aiming their own weapons at the wildebeest.

“Are you guys okay?” McHorn asked, still taking aim.

“Yeah.” Nick said tersely.

“NO!” Judy snarled, actually bunny snarled, jumping from the cruiser and stomping towards them, glaring daggers at her partner as she pulled, seemingly painfully, at her own ears. “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND???” The stunned look on the fox’s face only seemed to madden her further. “You blew out my eardrum!”

McHorn held back a wince at that while Wolford kneeled down to check on the mammal’s pulse. Judy and Nick kept fighting, him still training his aim on the suspect and her pulling at her ears, which made McHorn keep wincing.

“What did you want me to do? He was coming right at us!” The fox growled at her, but she remained unfazed.

The bunny’s foot started to thump the ground rapidly. “I told you I had him!”

Wolford, ignoring their squabble, looked up at them and shook his head. McHorn and Nick lowered their guns, tension leaving their shoulders.

“He was shooting at us, Judy.” The fox breathed out in exasperation, but his voice had softened greatly.
But it was the sound of her name instead of her nickname that gave away the fact that he was still shaken.

Judy’s anger dimmed. A little. “You could’ve given me a heads-up.”

“A loaded MP5 and a lunatic shooting at us wasn’t enough?” The vulpine looked at her in frustration. “Come on.”

Neither wolf or rhino dared to interrupt, but it seemed the disagreement was over with.

Judy walked away, shaking her head to the sides, her ears firmly pressed to her back but still flapping around at the movement. The flesh on the insides was flushed an almost crimson red from her abuse puling on them.

Nick remained where he was, breathing slightly erratic as he frowned down at their dead guy.

It had been a difficult case, and although it was over, the ending wasn’t what he was hoping for.
And now, to top it off, Judy was mad at him.

He looked up at his colleagues. McHorn was strolling away, sending a report to the station from his radio about their current situation. Wolford was still kneeling by the dead wildebeest, looking at him as if in waiting.

“What do you think?” The vulpine asked, knowing that Wolford was just waiting his sign to give his opinion. Nick learned that the wolf, usually quiet and introverted, actually had good advices to give to those who needed it.

“Let her cool down.” The canine rose to his feet, dusting himself off. “Then buy her some dinner as an apology. We all know she has a very good reason to not like guns.”

Nick didn’t need Wolford pointing to his own ears to know what he meant. The shot of any gunpowder-powered weapon could be a torture on the average unsuspecting ear nearby, but a bunny’s ear was nearly a sentence of death.

Nick would consider Wolford’s opinion very carefully.
Maybe he’d need to buy her dinner, lunch AND breakfast to get back in Judy’s good favors.
For a month.

Chapter Text

"Mayor Dawn Bellwether, you are under arrest."

The voice was gruff and grumpy, spine chilling even, reverberating throughout the great hall of the museum with its power. However, it brought only a sense of relief and happiness to both bunny and fox.

Any sound of protest from the sheep or her henchmen, or even the practiced pronouncing of her rights by another officer was entirely ignored. Nick noticed Judy wilt and melt against his side, releasing a sigh of exhaustion and relief that it was all over and they were both safe and sound.

"You okay, Carrots?" The fox asked, tightening his grip around her waist and bringing a paw to her own around his shoulder.

"Yeah." She smiled up at him. "Just glad that everything's okay."

But Nick saw that it wasn't all. He could see how tired she was. Not that he could blame her. "Lean on me."

She didn't question him, and tightened her hold on his shoulder.

Nick helped the wounded bunny to a fake rock and supported her so she could sit down and rest. The fake rock had texture made out of plaster, and probably had a plastic mold underneath, being hollow inside. Still, it was strong enough to easily support the lithe rabbit's weight.

Judy winced when she accidently moved her leg when she sat, but sighed in relief once settled. Nick kneeled next to her to check on the improvised bandage, grimacing at realizing that she had bled through the red fabric and the crimson liquid was slowly rolling down her leg, coating the fabric of her jeans as well.

With all their ruckus, it wasn't really a surprise that it didn't stop bleeding. Fortunately though, his messy bandage did its work and the bleeding was minimal.

His ears swirled forward at the sudden sound of Judy's giggles. He looked up in confusion, seeing her bending forward, her arms squared at her sides for support, slightly shaking in her mysterious amusement.

"What's so funny, Carrots?" He arched an eyebrow at her, a customary smirk pulling the corner of his lips.

Judy righted herself to look at him, her face covered in contentment. She raised a gray and white paw at him.

"Sly bunny and sly fox 1, dumb sheep 0." She announced. The fox laughed and high fived her. Her giggle evolved into a full and rich laughter at his outburst and both friends laughed aloud in glee.

"That was some great hustle right there, Carrots." He praised her after he recovered his breath. "You make me proud."

Her smile turned sly at his comment. "Why thank you, oh master hustler. I learned with the best."

When Nick's chest puffed out in pride at her compliment, the bunny rolled her eyes and playfully punched his arm, to which he halfheartedly yelped.

"Whoa there! Police brutality! Someone save me! This bunny is a savage!" He dramatically fell back on his rear, clutching his arm. The doe started to laugh again, widening Nick's smile. Hearing her laugh so carefree and happy elated the fox.

"What a goof." She shook her head as she murmured under her breath when she recovered.

Before they could continue to banter with one another, a thick rope was thrown over the edge of the pit, pooling by the wall next to them.

Putting aside their playfulness, the two mammals looked up to where the rope appeared, and saw Bogo start to climb down the pit. It wasn't a long descend for an animal of his size, but it would be rather difficult for him to get out of there without the rope.

The large cape buffalo turned towards them with what could only be described as a frown. It was unnerving, and immediately made the two mammals stay silent and recoil.

The buffalo then smiled and extended a hoof.

"Well done, officer Hopps."

Surprised at both the compliment, the smile and being addressed as a cop, Judy exchanged surprised glances with Nick. She extended her arm and took the much larger hoof, and Bogo gently shook her much smaller paw.

"Let's get you out of here now. The paramedics are ready to take care of you." He said, giving a quick glance to her wrapped up leg. "Hold on."

He leaned down and she braced herself. Not out of fear, but to ready herself for the sure juggle that would come. He scooped her up in his meaty arms, trying not to move her wounded limb too much. She still cringed.

"Fangmeyer!" He bellowed before reaching her up. A large tigeress quickly kneeled by the edge to reach her with both paws. She felt awkward being handled like a child from one set of paws - *cough* hooves – to another, but choose to ignore it. It's not like she could get out of there any other way.

As Fangmeyer carried her to the exit, she caught a glimpse of Nick being lifted out of the pit with the help of Officer Higgins - the hippo. He was guided away from the scene afterwards, and Bogo climbed out of the pit on his own, shouting orders to the other officers.

"Delgato, Higgins! Regular procedures on key witness testimony." He motioned to Nick. "Francine, McHorn, Wolford! Secure the subway station!" He pointed to the general direction to the subway entrance. "The rest secure the museum for investigation!"

It didn't go unnoticed by Judy the fact that Bogo was finally taking Nick seriously as a key witness, while he had disregarded the potential and strength of his testimony back in the Rainforest District.

She wasn't really sure what had triggered the change, but she sure wasn't about to question it, and the rabbit could only hope that Nick wouldn't try to get a little fun out of it either. Who knows what was the kind of nature of her boss' sense of humor. She was pretty sure it wasn't very smart to figure that out while he was on duty. Especially now of all times.

As Judy thought about it, a blur of large mammals clad in blue rushed back and forth to follow their orders all around. Bogo quickly caught up to Fangmeyer, and they both escorted her – carried in Fangmeyer's case -, through the mess and out of the museum.

The sun was starting to make its climb down to the horizon, but it was still high in the skies. She saw dozens of official vehicles surrounding the building to block the curious crowd of mammals and reporters converging there. She heard a helicopter or two out in the distance.

Any legal, and even illegal, parking space was taken by vehicles from all sorts of news broadcasting channels, spilling out reporters, interviewers and cameramammals. White flashes of cameras started to come from nearly everywhere as soon as they left the building. A thousand voices shouting out questions was starting to give her a headache.

An ambulance made its way through the blockage, where an officer removed a car for that purpose. It parked close to the stairs leading to the entrance, before a deer and a doe jumped from it and ran towards them carrying a stretcher.

The two paramedics stopped in front of Fangmeyer and looked at her in a moment of confusion.

"Hopps wasn't really attacked by a savage fox. It was a hustle." Bogo explained gruffly. "She's still injured though."

The two preys nodded in understanding. They set the stretcher down and helped her onto it. All the while she thought it would be easier if they just let the tiger carry her the rest of the way to the ambulance.

'Protocols…' The bunny figured in slight annoyance. At least once settled her leg would not be moved until they got to the hospital. Hopefully.

Once she was moved onto the back of the ambulance, the deer and the doe immediately started to check her leg. So much for leaving it alone…

Away from her line of sight, Bogo gave a few orders to Fangmeyer, who briskly walked back into the museum to do as whatever she was told to. She had a spot of red in her paw from her blood.

Judy looked down to see the doe checking the improvised bandage. She noticed she had a pair of scissors in her hooves, but put them away after deciding that it wasn't safe to remove the bandage just yet.

"We'll remove this at the hospital." She explained. "It seems to be barely holding the hemorrhagic. We wouldn't want to make it worse removing it while we are not ready to stop the bleeding, would we?"

Judy nodded quietly. The doe started to check on her vitals as the other paramedic started to check her leg for fractures. She winced at the slight moves, but she didn't think her leg was broken.

"Can you tell us what happened, Ms. Hopps?" The deer asked as he continued with the procedures. "What caused this wound?"

"I tripped on… I think it was a tusk." Judy explained. "We were being chased. I was worried about our pursuers and didn't see it on the ground."

The deer nodded in understanding.

"That museum must be a mess from all the reformations." The doe commented with a friendly smile as she adjusted a small blood pressure monitor to her arm. "It started just a few days ago, and I'm sure it's far from over."

"We'll administer an antitetanus as soon as possible at the hospital, officer. Just to be safe." The other paramedic said, continuing to clean the wound. He started to secure her leg in a splint, which was set on a strange looking box of sorts made out of some kind of foam. "Your leg doesn't seem to be broken, Ms. Hopps, but we'll need an x-ray to be sure. We'll also keep it slightly elevated to reduce the bleeding."

Judy nodded silently, her eyes fixed to the white ceiling of the ambulance. She could feel her wound pulsating, hot and stinging. It felt like her blood was rebelliously moving into the limb, pushing against the bandages, but at least the pain seemed to be lessening.

Bogo, who had been silently watching and listening, straightened himself up. "Your part is done here, Hopps. We'll discuss the details at another proper time. You need your rest for now." He reached a hoof. "The pen."

She glanced up at him, and remembering of the strongest evidence against Bellwether, she quickly retrieved the object from her pocket. The pen was dwarfed in the large buffalo's hooves, but he held it like a treasure. With a satisfied smirk and a curt nod, he turned away from her, muttering something like: "Don't expect it to be returned."

The two dumbstruck paramedics looked from one large prey mammal to the much smaller one. Judy shrugged at them, joining her paws on top of her stomach.

"That's chief Bogo for you. He's rude, but he cares. In his own way."

The deer and doe exchanged another look. Together they had at least 20 years of experience on this line of duty, but they were pretty sure they could add 20 years more, and they'd still not really understood cops.

The female paramedic injected a small dose of analgesic in her arm so she could feel better and rest.

Staring at the bright ceiling of the ambulance, Judy let her mind wander.

It had been quite two eventful and exhausting days. After a tearful reunion with her best friend, a dangerous skirmish in the subways, an exposure of a major conspiracy, a game of pred-and-prey and a possible fracture to her leg – including all the near-death encounters along the way, Judy decided that she was thoroughly done for the day.

The analgesics administered directly to her bloodstream were starting to take effect, and just adding to her drowsiness.

She didn't care if it was her tiny apartment or the hospital, she just wanted a bed and a proper night of sleep.

"Now I have to admit" Her eyes shot open and ears shot up at the voice that suddenly came into the ambulance. Turning her head, she noticed Nick being helped by Higgins onto a second stretcher. Since they were smaller animals, so were the stretchers, and the ambulance accommodated both quite easily with space to spare. "It's been a while since I had such a crazy day like this."

She couldn't help a tired smile. "You don't say? You don't sound like the kind of fox who enjoys being hunted down by a bunch of psychopath sheep, so I'm not surprised."

"Ha! You don't know me, fluff." Nick wore his best smirk, until the doe started to prod at his side, and his smirk gave way to a painful wince. "Ouch. Gonna feel that into next mouth, I guess."

The doe looked up with a knowing glance. "You bet."

Judy's eyebrows narrowed in concern. "You ok?"

"Apart from my sore pride and ribs, yeah I'm fine." He looked down at her leg, cringing at the blood he could see plastering the leg of her jeans all the way down to her foot. "Your leg?"

She looked down at it, but didn't dare move it. "Not broken. But they want to see an x-ray to be sure. I think it's fractured though. Not sure."

She saw his hackles raise at the notion. She guessed he never had a broken bone before. She knew the pain quite well, having had an unfortunate but honestly expected childhood experience involving a soccer team of brothers and sisters of nearly the same age playing on a rather rainy day. The sound of her clavicle snapping against the goal still made her shudder to these days.

She averted her eyes when the doe asked Nick to open his shirt for her to better check his ribs. And of course he would tease her for it.

"You don't need to be so shy, Carrots. Though you should feel lucky to be in the presence of someone so handsome as me being striped before you." He whispered as he unbuttoned his shirt, his tone low enough that the two other prey there didn't hear it, but loud enough that Judy's superb hearing did.

He snickered when the rabbit made to punch his arm, her ears straight up and reddening on the inside. The rabbit only held back because she knew he was injured, she wasn't strong enough at the moment, and the paramedics were staring oddly at her.

"Fortunately your ribs aren't broken or fractured either, Mr. Wilde." The doe reported her findings. "But there might be some deep bruising and soreness. Nothing some aspirin can't fix for a few days. Just apply a warm compress today and cold compresses for the rest of the week."

The fox nodded, shouldering his shirt back on.

"By the way, you have something white on your muzzle, Mr. Wilde." She added.

Judy looked back at him when the doe mentioned it. She saw Nick wipe at his mouth, finding white foam still coming out on the back of his paw. Judy started to giggle, and he frowned at her.

"You owe me for this one, Carrots."

"Me?" The bunny clasped her paws to her chest in a fake gesture of offense. "You decided to bite the dickens out of that stuffed animal figurine, not me."

The fox playfully rolled his eyes. "I was adding some drama to your little plan, Carrots. Real drama, unlike your little act back there. If it wasn't for me, that plan would have never worked."

"Well, excuse me." She clasped a paw to her chest in defense, where her badge would have been. "There's a reason why I turned out to be a cop, not an actress."

"True." He smirked at the glare he received. "What? You said it, no me."

"You don't have to agree!"

The two paramedics shook their head at their playful banter, and decided to leave them at it. They were just blowing off steam now, so they let them as they took to the front of the ambulance to drive to the hospital, a pair of cops opening way for them.

Nick cleaned the blue juices of blueberry staining his neck with a finger and licked it clean.

"Ewww! That's so gross Nick!"

"What? It's just blueberry! You should try some."

"No, keep your paws away from me!"

"Come on Carrots, just a bit. You baby bun!"

Chapter Text

They had been separated when they gave entry to the hospital. Nick was taken to a room where non-emergency patients were treated, while Judy was taken further into the hospital, probably to get an x-ray.

She looked over her shoulder and waved at him with a smile, mouthing a ‘see you later, slick’. He waved back with his trademark smirk, mouthing ‘see you later, fluff’, just as she went through the double door that flapped back into place and he could no longer see her.

“The doctor will be with you soon, Mr. Wilde. Try to relax and rest.” A kind female lynx nurse said after she took his vitals. She closed the curtains around his bed and moved on to the next patient.

Nick ignored her questions to whatever animal she was seeing on the other side of the curtain and tried to relax in the stiff bed of the hospital. The throbbing of his ribs was hard to ignore, but he wasn’t too concerned. Right now he could only think of a few choice snacks to get rid of the bitter taste of stuffing in his mouth. He remembered seeing a vending machine just outside of the ER.

It didn’t take long for a doctor to enter his private space. It was a porcupine clad in the customary white coat, a stethoscope around his neck and a pair of glasses a bit too small for him perched at the very edge of his nose.

“Good evening, Mr. Wilde.” The porcupine sounded tired, a bit bored at best. “I’m doctor Quilltone, and I’m here to check on your ribs.”

The direct and short treatment didn’t surprise Nick in the slightest. But at least, after some more painful prodding and poking, and confirming that he would be feeling his very bruised but not broken ribs into next month, he was given a prescription for stronger painkillers and advices on how to treat and heal his wound faster.

And he was free to go. The doctor said a tired goodbye and moved on muttering in relief about the last two patients of his shift for the night. While a bit rude in his tiredness, the doctor turned out to be rather nice, especially considering he was a prey and Nick was a predator, a fox nonetheless.

Nick pocketed the prescription and carefully climbed down the stretcher. He limped slightly, but tried to maintain a good figure as he emerged into the waiting room.

It was already night outside.

He left the ER in search of the vending machine.

‘It has coffee too. Good.’ He smiled in victory, fishing for his wallet. He bought a coffee and a snack in the vending machine and returned inside the ER, sitting on a chair in the waiting room to… well, wait.

He looked down at the cereal and dry bug bar and sighed, whishing he had blueberries instead. Especially from the Hopps Family. They were the tastiest he had ever tried, and he’d need to think of a good hustle to get some more from Judy.

‘Though I think she might just give me some if I asked.’ He smiled, taking another bite from his cereal and bug bar and a sip from the steaming coffee. Hustling mammals was a habit that was hard to kill after so many years, but since meeting Judy, he was trying his best.

At this hour of the night, there wasn’t that many animals in the hospital’s waiting room, even though it was the main hospital in Savanna Central and it was Friday.

An old couple of bears was sitting by the corner, the male having coughing fits from time to time and the female patting him in the back in an attempt to make it stop.

There was a coyote pup and an antelope fawn accompanied by their mothers, one looking paler and more nauseous than the other.

A middle-aged manned wolf with a footpaw in a cast was dozing off a few chairs to his left, trying to hold on to a pair of crutches so they wouldn’t tumble to the floor.

Any other mammal who was in the room was sitting behind Nick’s back, quietly talking among themselves, but he wasn’t interested enough to check them.

He pulled out his phone – which had surprisingly survived intact from the craziness of the entire day, and checked his statuses on several social websites he had an account on.

He updated some of them, reading and re-reading the posts carefully to not reveal too much information before letting them into the internet. The ZPD didn’t want too much information going around until they sorted it all out, and the two officers who questioned him advised him as much. The city was facing a delicate crisis, and misinformation spilling too soon could be disastrous. It was nearly impossible considering how news like that spread like wild fire, but he wasn’t gonna be the first one to spill the beans.

He did notice his accounts were being bombarded more than normal though. He blamed the reporters at the entrance of the museum, but he didn’t mind the little fame.

He took a selfie or two, but upon looking at them he decided to leave it alone. He looked like a wreck anyway.

Settling back on the chair and watching the hospital usual routine, Nick allowed himself to relax and his mind started to wander, thinking of all the craziness of the last two days, and what a roller coaster of emotions the last three months had been.

‘The last three months...’ The fox pondered with a sigh. ‘It’s strange really, how it took me three months to recover from something that happened in a single morning.’ A single moment really.

To be fair, it was a hard hit. Of course, he was over it now and had forgiven Judy, but at the time it had hurt. Bad. After all, that stubborn bunny had head-butted against his defenses until she gained his trust, and all the while the greatest hypocrisy in their relationship was strapped to her hip in the form of a brightly red canister.

He had seen it, ignored it, worried over it, and denied it until that very morning in the press conference. Surely she had a strong motive to carry fox repellent around with her? It wasn’t because she was afraid of him, right? It clearly stated FOX repellent, but it could be a self-defense mechanism against any possible aggressor, no matter the species.

He denied it.

But it was in vain, for as soon as he tested the theory, she had reached for it. She was afraid of him. She thought of foxes the same way as any other mammal in this blasted city. He should have known. It was there, right under his nose all the time, but he ignored it. He foolishly denied it, and allowed her closer. He had been angry. He had shoved the application back in her paws, ripped the sticker from his shirt and threw it unceremoniously to the ground and marched out of the police station.

He had been angry for several days more after that. Angry at Judy, angry at the city, angry at prey animals, angry at predator animals, angry at himself. Each target had a reason, some of them reasonable, some of them insane.

Some small amount of reason only started to kick in two weeks afterwards, when he saw a scene that made him reflect about the incident.

He couldn’t quite remember where he was, but a gray moving blur had attracted his attention. He instantaneously remembered Judy and held back a scowl. But when he glanced towards it, he realized it was just a chinchilla kit. A young boy, around 6 or 7 years old, his fur a shade of gray that startlingly reminded him of Judy.

The young kit run around with a colorful ball in his tiny paws, a joyful and carefree expression plastered on his face. He must have gotten it as a gift recently, and was still enamored with it. He proudly showed it to his fellow prey friends, until he caught sight of a new potential playmate: a shy hyena pup, who seemed too afraid to make a move and find a new friend.

Nick had watched the chinchilla skip on his feet towards the predator pup, not a glimpse of fear or hesitancy in his determined and joyful face. The fox half expected the chinchilla to show off his toy, make fun of the hyena, or in the very least gain his trust only to shove a muzzle into his snout and laugh.

But instead, the rodent happily invited the predator to play with him and his new ball. When the predator politely refused, the prey persisted, until minutes later, the two were chasing after the ball like there was nothing more important in the world to do.

Nick had watched them play for a good 5 minutes, a tiny smile wanting to quirk his lips. The fox was proud of his ability to read people, and cubs were the easiest to read. He found nothing but innocence and happiness in them. There was no bias or prejudice there.

Until the chinchilla was suddenly snatched form the ground by an adult female, who glared angrily at the hyena.

“Stay away from my son, you bloody monster!” The angry mother had shouted, scaring the poor hyena pup away. The predator run away in tears, while the chinchilla stared wide eyed at his mother angrily scolding him. Hateful words spilled from the mother’s muzzle, and the kit’s eyes widened more with fear and anger.

And right there, Nick saw the seed of prejudice being planted. That kit would come to hate and fear predators for the rest of his life, and would continue this legacy of prejudice to the next generation, despite the happy 5 minutes of happiness he had spent with the shy hyena.

Nick had stood from wherever he was sitting and didn’t stop walking until his feet decided on their own to stop. He had realized that maybe, just maybe, this entire mess wasn’t completely Judy’s fault. Maybe she had been friends with predators back when she was a kit herself, and her fearful parents had planted the seed of fear in her, out of fear themselves. What could a child do but to trust them?

Maybe snarling at her was a bad idea. Maybe he should have stopped short of showing her his fangs. He should have proven a point, not proven her right!

From that moment on, Nick had bargained with himself. He decided that it was all a misunderstanding, and they were both at fault there. She had scratched raw an old scar of his past, and who knows if maybe he hadn’t done the same on her?

‘Let’s forget and move on.’ It had been the basis of his inner speech when he sought her out at the police station. After all, if they both were at fault, they could just forgive one another, forget the whole incident, and move on with their lives, strengthened by a lesson learned. Maybe he could ask her if she still wanted a partner. He kind of liked solving the case by her side. It had been an opportunity to live up to his promise as a ranger scout: to be loyal, brave, helpful and trustworthy. It was a chance to prove that foxes were so much more.

But he had been too late. His partner had resigned, possibly out of shame for what she had done. It had been a mistake. And he hadn’t given her a chance to redeem herself.

Judy was gone from his life. Possibly for good.

Nick had entered the department in a state of bargain, and left in a state of depression. Which had followed him to that very moment under the bridge.

‘It doesn’t matter now.’ Nick decided as he opened his eyes, a content smile lifting his lips. ‘In the end, everything is fine.’

Denial.
Anger.
Bargain.
Depression.
Acceptance.

The five stages of grief.

‘Acceptance.’ The fox thought again, contently. ‘We’ll be alright, Carrots.’

Everything had been alright from the moment he had pulled her small body against his own in forgiveness. All those three months seemed to have vanished the moment they had entered the old truck, and they were back exactly where they had left off: playfully bantering and mocking one another like best friends who had never had a fight.

" Judith Laverne Hopps?”

The fox’s ears and head shot up at the name. He spotted a painted dog¹ clad in a white coat and holding a clipboard, standing by the entrance to the innermost areas of the hospital, looking around for a reaction. Nick stood and walked towards him.

(Note 1: It’s a Wild African Dog.)

The tall dog spotted him and offered his paw and a friendly smile. “Good night, sir. I’m doctor Dogson. I looked after your friend, Judith Hopps.”

“Nick Wilde.” The fox shock the fellow canine’s paw. “Is she alright, doctor?”

"Ready to take on the whole world if you let her.” Dogson said humorously. “She’s an energetic little thing. She looked at me as if I had diagnosed her with a serious illness when I recommended she use a pair of crutches for a couple of days.”

“That’s Judy for you.” The fox chuckled, relieved that she was okay. “And her leg?”

“She’s got what we usually call a greenstick fracture. It means that her bone cracked, but didn’t break completely.” The dog looked down at his clipboard to confirm his diagnosis. “Since she’s a young and healthy rabbit, we decided to use a simple splinter rather than get her leg in a cast. She’d only stress herself if we did that. With plenty of rest for the weekend, she’ll be good to go back to work on Monday if she’s feeling up to it. Desk duty of course.”

Nick would have argued against that. He wanted her to rest, but knew that Judy was too much of a workaholic to accept a medical leave. But then again, she had resigned from being a police officer, so it would probably take a while before she was reinstated. Long enough for her leg to heal.

Nick nodded quietly to the dog. “Thank you, doctor.”

“Don’t mention it, Mr. Wilde. I’m glad to help.” The two canines shook paws again before he left to return to his work.

‘I like this guy.' Nick thought to himself as he returned to sit and wait. It wasn’t every day he found someone who was actually nice to a fox, even a predator.

Nick waited patiently exactly where he was left standing. Soon enough, a male prairie dog nurse appeared pushing Judy on a wheel chair, one of her legs bandaged in bright red elastic bandage, resting on the pawrest of the wheelchair. She looked slightly groggy from medication, holding a pair of crutches on her lap. Her jeans were rolled up to her thighs.

“Thank you.” She said to the prairie dog before she turned to Nick, who was approaching her with a lazy smirk. She braced her paws on the wheelchair to get up, crutches nearly tumbling to the floor as she ignored them. “Look, I can walk-…”

“Sit.” He said with a motion of his clawed finger. She sighed and sat back, as if she was tired of hearing that order and gave up on protesting long ago. The fox walked behind the wheelchair and started pushing her gently towards the exit. “I like pushing you around.” He joked.

She shook her head with a sigh, but a smile curved her lips.

The fox looked down at her, noticing that she held a transparent plastic bag on her lap just underneath the crutches, and inside, he recognized the cloth he used to help her back in the museum, still coated in blood.

He smiled, but focused his gaze on her bandaged leg. “Does it hurt?”

“I’m so high on painkillers…” She yawned. “…you could chop it off and I wouldn’t feel a thing.”

“Hearing that sort of thing from you, you are high alright.” He chuckled. “Careful there, officer Hopps. It wouldn’t be good for your reputation to be using drugs.”

“Shut up, slick.” She admonished half-heartedly. “Just get me out of here. I don’t like hospitals.”

The fox decided to leave her alone for now. He noticed that her head was starting to drop in weariness, but decided against teasing her. He couldn’t blame her for being so exhausted.

Nick pushed Judy’s wheelchair to the front of the hospital, where the busy nightlife of Savanna Central met them.

“I’ll call Finnick. He can give us a ride.” He said to her before pulling out his phone. She nodded and tried to relax, watching the activities in the streets, the sound of his voice lowering in her ears as he strolled back and forth as he talked to his friend.

Judy leaned her head back against the backrest of the wheelchair – it was meant for animals slightly bigger than a bunny, like a fox or badger, and so she could rest her head back almost comfortably. She looked up at the skies, but was disappointed – even though she expected it – that it was pitch black and without a single trace of stars. The moon was the sole and lonely sovereign in the night sky.

It made her reminisce on the times of her youth, when she and siblings close to her age would sneak out in the middle of the night to play under the stars. They even chose to do so in nights of full moon, so that their poor night vision wouldn’t be a bother. It didn’t mean they could avoid tripping on unsuspecting rocks and roots, and they had to be creative to explain sheets turned brown with dirt in the morning.

Until one night, she decided to take a flashlight and lead her dirty siblings to the shallow river near their farm, where they’d wash up and get rid of the dirt in their fur and pajamas. Wet beds was easier to explain rather than sheets dirty with soil, although it got too embarrassing as they aged. The good thing was that they were old enough by then to be allowed outside at night.

Judy smiled when she remembered the day the siblings of the three first litters decided to reveal to their parents why they still ‘wetted their beds’ at the age of 11 after so long. The whole ordeal had resulted in laughter for hours, and the reveal of more stories about kits rebelling in ingenious ways.

‘It’s a good story to tell Nick sometime.’ She thought amusedly. ‘The adventures of a bunch of rednecks bunnies having fun. City fox won’t believe any of them.’

“Carrots, wake up.”

Judy opened her eyes with a start, realizing that she had dozed off. Nick’s smirk stretched impossibly far across his muzzle as he leaned down next to her.

“Not a single word, fox.” She threatened in annoyance.

The fox leaned back and raised his paws in defense, but the smirk was still there, unwavering.

And across the street, she spotted Finnick’s van parked and waiting for them.

She must have dozed off for a while, and judging Nick’s wide grin, he knew.

“I know you were getting comfortable in it, Fluff, but we need to leave the wheelchair here.” The red fox teased her. Of course he did.

Judy sighed and braced her paws on the sides of the wheelchair, but before she did anything else, Nick was already lifting her in his arms with ease. She instinctively reached a paw across his shoulders and sent a half-hearted glare at him, which he laughed at. “I didn’t say you had to walk. I was just warning you.”

“What about those?” She pointed to the crutches, which he had slung on his shoulder by looping his arm through the middle. “What are they for, dumb fox?”

“Those are for tomorrow only. The doctor said you need plenty of rest, so the next thing you’ll do is eat something and crash. Dumb bunny.”

The bunny knew it was a lost battle. Nick wasn’t going to change his mind about that line of plan. “Okay, mama.” So she slumped against his arms in defeat. “Geez, you’re even worse than my parents.”

The fox laughed. “That’s my bunny girl.” He would have petted her between the ears if he could. “You know Carrots, between you and Finnick as my children, I would have made a thousand bucks a day. If only you looked more childlike like Finnick does. Cause you already got ‘cute’ covered up.”

Judy snorted and playfully pushed his muzzle. “Don’t call me cute, fox.”

“Adorable?” He offered with an odd smirk, as Judy’s paw still pushed against his maws.

She pushed him further away. “Never!”

The two continued laughing as Nick made his way to the van.

“You can nap in my arms now if you want, sleepyhead.” He chuckled, reaching the handle of the door while supporting Judy’s leg with his forearm and opening the door without much difficulty. “Speaking of your parents, you should probably call them too. The news are spreading like wild fire, and it seems the entire Zootopia knows that you’re injured. When it gets to your parents, they’ll freak out.”

“You’re right.” The bunny sighed. “Not looking forward to it though.”

“Why? Overprotective much?” The fox questioned as he climbed on the passage side and gently settled her down in the middle, between him and Finnick.

“You have no idea.” She shook her head from the conversation as she looked at Finnick, while Nick tried to buckle her up. “Hey Finnick.”

“Hey there, officer Toot-Toot.” The fennec fox greeted her with a playful smile. “Havin’ a good time hustling that stupid ol’ fox over there?” A grin spread across the smaller canine’s mouth as he nodded at the frowning red fox who was buckling himself up next to her.

“Oh, I got him wrapped around my finger.” She said right back, earning a chuckle from the deep-voiced little fox. She reached up and patted Nick on the head between his ears. “You’d think he’s a big tough fox, but he’s just a big bowl of mush.”

Finnick wheezed as he kept laughing, to which Nick’s frown only deepened. “Rabbit, you’re creating a monster.” He grumped, moving his head away from her paw.

“So dramatic…” She smirked, relaxing on the seat.

Still laughing, the fennec fox pulled the van into the road. It took about three blocks before he stopped laughing and was able to ask Judy where he was supposed to be driving. “So Fluff, where’s your den? Where do ya’ live?”

“First of all, we call it warren or burrow, not a den.” Judy corrected him. “Second, any cheap hotel will do. I had to vacate my apartment since I wasn’t sure I’d return to Zootopia after… you know.”

“Cheap hotel?” Nick looked at her with an exaggerated indignant façade. “No way, Carrots. I ain’t letting my partner crash in a dump. Finnick, my place.”

Judy looked up at him in surprise as Finnick grumbled under his breath, maneuvering the truck for a turn around. “What do you mean?”

“You’re staying at my place until we find you a new apartment.” His tone was of finality. Again, there was no room for discussion. “It might not be the most deluxe place in Zootopia, but I guarantee you it’s way better than your cheap hotel room, Carrots.”

Finnick muttered under his breath again. “You wish…”

“Shut up, Finnick!”

Judy ignored their quarrel. “If… it’s not too much trouble, Nick…”

“None at all, Carrots.” He smiled. “We could even order some pizza and watch a movie if you’d like?” He looked up at his fellow fox. “Finnick, wanna join?”

“Nah.” He rested his arm out the window. “I’d rather not be a third wheel in your little date.”

Judy felt the insides of her ears heating up. She flattened them down her back in an attempt to hide the evidence of her embarrassment, and by the corner of her eyes, she noticed that the lighter fur on Nick’s neck had turned a slightly darker shade.

“S-shut up, Finnick!”

Once again, the ride became silent and awkward, only interrupted by Finnick’s snickering. He seemed to be having fun making the situation awkward between the two of them.

A mortified Nick turned his attention to the passing buildings on the window.

As a means to distract herself as well, Judy pulled out her phone to check if her parents had called or left any messages. She knew it wouldn’t take long for them to call, what with every news broadcasting channel overtaken with the growing fame of the ‘Savage Case’, to which she was pretty much a part of.

Still, she wanted to be in a more private place before being bombarded by their overprotective antics.

A few minutes later, the van parked in front of an old and large apartment complex. The brick building was old and no more than five stores high, but apart from some graffiti on the walls, it looked well preserved.

Nick jumped out of the van before he started to help Judy out as well, quickly handling her the crutches. She fixed them under her armpits, frowning at how odd it was to use them, but reluctantly admitting that they helped her keep weight off her wounded leg.

“You good?” He asked, his paws tentatively raised and ready to catch her if she fell.

“Yeah, yeah I’m good.” She turned around to face him. “Not sure I want to get the hang of it though.”

Nick smirked as he turned to close the door of the van. “You’re too feisty for your own good, Carrots.”

She shook her head, maneuvering herself to start walking towards the building. Until she noticed the fox wasn’t following and didn’t even close the van’s door yet. “Nick?”

“You know, Carrots, I just remembered something.” He looked at her with an uneasy smile. “We totally forgot your truck back in Banyan Street.”

Chapter Text

‘10-14 in progress! Report on scene, officer!’

‘Danger! Run!’

‘Danger! Fight!’

Judy woke up to an agitated mind. Primal instincts and police instincts clashed in her mind over a dangerous situation she presumed was from a dream. A nightmare.

Opening her eyes, it took her a while to recognize that she was in Nick’s apartment, more specifically in his living room, on his couch.

The kitchen living room was dimly illuminated by the bathroom light, which Nick had left on before he retired to his room, joking that he didn’t want her stumbling on his furniture around and face planting the walls.

His joking was, of course, just a mask for his caring towards her. He knew she had poor night vision, and he wanted to be sure she could find her way around if she needed anything.

Judy ran a mental check on herself: bladder wasn’t demanding her to go to the bathroom, she wasn’t thirsty and she could still feel her stomach full of pizza.

What truly woke her up were her conflicted mind, her ears agitatedly rotating on top of her head and her nose twitching like there was no tomorrow.

‘I don’t remember having a nightmare.’ The bunny thought to herself as she sat up on the couch, patting the end table for her phone. It was 3 AM. ‘Great…’

Her mind was too agitated for her to go back to sleep. She took her crouches, praying that she could make it to the kitchen without waking up Nick, and carefully started to make her way there for a drink of water.

A far away noise made her stop in the middle of the small living room. A door closing, probably a few floors down. ‘But at this hour? Well… could be someone back from a busy night on a Friday night. Pretty normal, right? Stop being paranoiac, Judy.’

The rabbit shook her head and continued to the kitchen. As she reached for the fridge, she heard the sound again, this time of a door opening. She blamed her uneasiness on the dream she could not really remember.

But by the time she drank her water, refilled the bottle and returned to the couch, she heard the same sound several times. Until it got closer, to the next floor up.

‘Okay, something is definitely wrong.’ The bunny decided as she made her way, as silently as she could manage, to the door. She fished the keys on the table next to it, unlocked and opened the door, and went to the corridor outside.

The light stayed on all night long and the corridor was a lot more illuminated than inside the apartment. She limped to the stairs and looked down the space between the stairs that went all the way down to the ground floor.

She kept watching, hearing the sound of doors opening and closing, realizing that there was excessive care in making as less noise as possible. But what really got her nervous was that someone was breaking in apartments one by one in the middle of the night.

All of a sudden, she saw whoever was breaking in the complex climbing the stairs from the first floor to the second.

‘Doug!’ Judy paled. He had a gun in his hoof and his face wasn’t happy. ‘He must be looking for us! Nick!’

Her mind was racing as she limped back into the apartment as fast and quietly as she could. She locked the door, but knew it was useless: he would pick the lock like he was doing to the other apartments.

She raced to Nick’s bedroom, not bothering on knocking. “Nick! Wake up! We got problems!”

The fox jerked on the bed, the little light coming from outside revealing that he was shirtless. Bright green eyes reflecting the light from outside looked surprised at her. “Carrots? What the-?”

“Doug is here.” The bunny reached a paw and gripped his arm. The ignored crutch fell against the bed. “He’s armed and after us.”

“Doug? Us? W-what are you talking about-…?” Nick stuttered as he was yanked from the bed and dragged to the living room. “Carrots, wait! Wait!” He yanked his arm from her paws with a huff. “Care to explain to me what’s going on?!”

Judy sighed in frustration before grabbing his arm again, with both paws, and dragging him out of the apartment and into the corridor. Her second stretcher fell forgotten against the couch.

She pulled him to a stop by the stairs and shushed him at his protests, pointing to the pit between the stairs. Soon enough, he paled at the sight of the murderous sheep climbing to the third floor.

“W-what do we do?” The fox whispered in a panic.

Judy pulled him back to his apartment, her mind racing. If it wasn’t for her injury, she would be able to pull a surprise attack, knock him out and get the ZPD to take care of the rest. But in her condition, she didn’t stand a chance.

Nick watched helplessly, terrified, as Judy paced the apartment, her wounded leg limping slightly, apparently forgotten. He would have stopped her from injuring herself further if he wasn’t having a near panic attack right now.

Then all of a sudden, Judy stopped with a look of hope. She looked at him with a determined gaze. “I need to get to the truck. Where’s the fire stairs?”

He shakenly pointed to a glass sliding door across the living room. It was covered by a curtain, but Judy could see the shadows of a fence around a veranda.

She marched up to the curtains and pulled them open, relieved to see the fire stairs leading down to the parking lot of the complex. The blinking lights of the parking lot revealed her family’s truck underneath it.

‘I’ve got to be quick.’ The rabbit looked down at her leg. It was pulsating and very hot, but adrenaline numbed the pain for the moment. She could do it.

Nick watched as she turned and limbed back to him. “Judy, what are you thinking? What are you gonna do?”

Her heart clenched at the desperate way he called her real name. He was terrified.

“Nick, listen to me. There’s a gun in the glove compartment of the truck. I need to go get it if we have any chance of escaping Doug.”

“We could just get the hell out of here!” He protested.

“I wouldn’t get far with this leg. He’ll catch up.” Her grip tightened. “You stay hidden, and I’ll get that gun. I promise I’ll come back for you!”

“No.” He shook her paws from his shoulders. “I’ll get it. I can get there faster. Your leg will only get worse if you climb down those stairs.”

“Nick…”

“Do you trust me, Judy?”

She looked up at his green eyes full of fear, hurt and worry. She felt like staring at him when he asked her if she was afraid of him, so long ago, after that press conference.

She turned around and his heart felt like being pierced for the second time by the same mammal. “Judy…”

He flinched before catching the keys she flung at him.

“Go. Don’t make a sound.” Her amethyst eyes bore into him. “Get the gun, the box of ammunition and the taser. Don’t think too much. Just do it. I’ll explain everything later.”

His face was of shock, mouth slightly agape. Hers was of trust, lips upwards in an unwavering smile.

He marched up to her and pulled her in his arms in a strong embrace.

“I won’t let you down, Carrots. I promise!” He whispered in her ear. She barely had time to return the hug before he dashed to the sliding door. He vanished down the stairs without a sound.

“I’m counting on you, Nick.” She smiled before limping to the door to keep watch. She was in a very vulnerable position, and her life was in a fox’s paws. She could only hope he was fast enough.

She heard Doug climbing his way to the fourth floor.

Chapter Text

Nick was grateful that the old blue truck didn’t have an alarm to alert Doug, but it made unlocking it quite frustratingly slow. The key caught in the lock a few times before finally turning.

He threw the driver’s door open and scampered inside. He searched the second key in the key buddle, thankful that there weren’t too many. On the second attempt, the glove compartment opened with a loud squeak of protest.

The blinking lamp light of the parking lot reflected something black at the very back of the compartment. He threw his paw in there and grasped it in a death grip. Pulling it out, he almost shivered.

It was a fully black 9mm sized for a bunny, but it felt heavy in his paws. The sight of it gave him a strange feeling. While he had seen a gun before, he had never been this close to one, much less held one in his own paws.

‘Don’t think too much.’ Judy’s voice sounded in his mind, reminding and scolding him.

He reached his other paw in the compartment and grabbed a black box. It was 9mm ammunition. There was a stun gun on the other corner and he grabbed that as well. He caught a glimpse of the brand: Pred-Away. He pushed aside any thoughts on the matter and pocketed it along with the ammunition. He didn’t trust the gun so much, and carried it in his paws.

‘Who would have thought that a family of bunnies would be so armed?’ He entertained the thought for a second in a moment of amusement as he ran up the stairs as quietly as he could, skipping three steps at a time. He ignored the burning in his lungs from the effort. ‘I need to work out more.’

Getting back to his apartment felt like an eternity. He found Judy prying through an open slit at the front door.

“Carrots!” He scream-whispered in victory. She dashed to his side and he quickly pushed the weapons in her paws. “Now what?”

Without answering him, she grabbed the fox’s arm and pulled him towards the kitchen. She forced him on his knees behind the counter before knelling next to him.

“Carrots, what are you doing?” He scream-whispered at her in bewilderment.

She opened the ammunition box and set it on the floor. With fascinating expertise, the rabbit pulled the top of the gun back, revealing silver coloring along the revealed parts. She picked a magazine from the box and inserted it in the hollow bottom of the handle. It made a familiar sound that Nick had only heard in movies. The top part of the weapon slid back into place with a satisfying click.

Nick watched it all in fascination at how skillfully she managed the gun.

“Listen to me, Nick.” Judy said as she placed the gun under the hem of her pants. She picked the stun gun she left on the floor and pushed it into his paws. “If anything comes through that door, wait for them to get close enough and zap the living lights out of them. Discharge the entire thing.”

“Judy, I-I don’t-?” He looked from her to the taser, his paws starting to tremble. She was gonna leave him here alone? Armed with something he had never used before?

“Don’t move from this corner until I get back, okay?” Her paw gripped his shoulder. “No matter what, don’t let go of this taser until I get back, you hear me?” She moved her paw to hold his around the taser, only big enough to clutch his knuckles.

He mutely nodded, and Judy stood with her 9mm clutched in both paws, moving in sure steps as she kept her aim at the door. She was barely limping now. If Nick didn’t know any better, he’d never guess she had a sizeable wound and a minor fracture on her leg. And had they not been in grave danger, he’d be fascinated at her bravery.

She moved smoothly and silently to the door, and she leaned against the wall next to it. She looked towards where she left her fox friend. From here, she could only see his eyes peeking at her from around the counter separating the kitchen from the living room. He had a good advantage point from there.

Judy nodded slowly at him, her piercing purple eyes resolute. ‘I won’t let anything hurt you, partner.’

She reached a paw and opened the door, before stealthily moving into the corridor and disappearing around the edge of the door, her weapon raised and aimed. Nick rested his head against the counter, starting to hyperventilate again. He was scared out of his mind for Judy.

‘Her leg is fractured! I know she’s a good cop, but will she be al-…’

All of a sudden, a hail of gunshots roared throughout the complex, nearly deafening to his ears.

“JUDY!!!” He howled out in terror, images filling his mind.

“STAY THERE!!!” Her order was shoot back in strain. She didn’t sound hurt, which wasn’t really enough to calm him. He clutched the taser to his chest and prayed.

In the corridor, next to the staircase, Judy had thrown herself to the floor to avoid the rounds of bullets that were shot at her from the stairs. She caught Doug making his way to their floor, and he had to recede back to not be struck by her own bullets.

Her ears, pinned against her back, still caught the sound of his hooves making a hasty escape back down the stairs, and she jumped to her own feet to give chase. Searing pain shot thought her leg, but she ignored it the best she could.

Rounding the landing of the stairs, she caught sight of the sheep, his gun pointed at her. She leaped back, just as two other shots were fired, piercing the wall next to her. Judy’s ears flexed at the soft ding of his gun running out of ammo, and she stepped forward to shot, but the sheep was descending the next flight of stairs and out of her aim. She heard him reloading.

Chasing Doug down the stairs, more gunshots were exchanged, rising the complex dwellers and spreading panic in the neighborhood, but none of them struck the intended mark. Fortunately, the corridors were also deserted.

By the time the ground floor was reached, Judy’s leg gave out. She made it to the front door before being forced to grab at the walls for support, piercing pain making white flash behind her eyes. She raised her gun, but Doug was already running out of sight around the corner across the street. It was also deserted, thankfully.

She lowered back her weapon and let out a heavy breath, frustrated that the blasted sheep had escaped, but relieved that there were no victims apart from the walls and a fire extinguisher tonight. And the entire neighborhood sleep.

She had a feeling Doug would not return tonight. Not when he now knew she was armed and ready for him now. She’d put a bullet in his head before he dared get close to her and Nick again.

Searing white pain shot up through her leg, reminding her of how much she abused it tonight. Wincing, she stuck the gun back into her pocket and fished for her phone, only to remember that she left it up in Nick’s apartment.

Fortunately, there was a phone on the desk that was meant for a gatekeeper who wasn’t there. She limped towards it and dialed 911.

“Zootopia Police Department, what’s your emergency?” The collected voice of the operator requested.

“It’s Offic-… It’s Judy Hopps. There’s been gunshots fired at 1955 Cypress Grove Lane. Shooter has run away.”

“Was anybody hit, Mrs. Hopps? Are you injured?” The voice wavered to a tone of acknowledgement. Judy had a feeling the operator recognized her as the resigned Officer Hopps.

“Negative.”

“Can you describe the shooter, Mrs. Hopps?”

“White sheep, male, no horns. He’s wearing jeans and a black t-shirt.”

“Backup is on its way, Officer Hopps. Standby.”

Judy couldn’t help a small smile. Her sharp ears picked up a small, barely restrained excitement in the voice. The operator recognized her as resigned Officer Hopps alright.

She looked back at the stairs, thinking of Nick still cowering in his kitchen.

“I need to check on a friend.” She stated.

The phone was halfway to the base when the operator answered. “10-4.”

Judy limped towards the stairs, wincing all the way. The pain was intense, searing, but she knew it wasn’t the pain of a broken leg. She might have snapped a few stitches though.

As the bunny grabbed the handrails in a death grip and used it to pull herself up the stairs, she could only think that she wasn’t looking forward to going back to the hospital. She hoped she didn’t have to.

‘I hate hospitals.’

Getting to the fifth floor, tired and in pain, Judy leaned her weight against the guardrail to recover her breath. She could the sirens of police cruisers approaching fast. Several of them.

“J-Judy?”

She looked up, seeing Nick peeking from his door at the corridor, taser firmly in his paws and fur bristled from the back of his neck to the very tip of his tail. His ears were flat against his skull and his eyes were fully dilated.

Despite it all, Judy offered him a calming smile.

“It’s okay, Nick. He’s gone.”

In the blink of an eye, Nick had let go of the taser and rushed to her side, checking her over for injuries. “Are you okay? He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

The doe was a bit surprised at the fox’s reaction. “No, I’m fine. He didn’t expect me to be armed, so he ran away.”

Nick sighed in relief, and pulled her against his chest, holding her close. “Thank goodness.”

The bunny returned his hug, listening his heartbeat slow down from the adrenaline. Despite the pain, she felt only relief that she managed to protect him.

Chapter Text

One particular evening, while Judy and a few other colleagues decided to relax for a while in the coffee room in between shifts, an easy conversation started. It was one of those easy chitchats that started at random and was simply let sail to whatever topics appeared.

It was a good way to know your colleagues. Judy had really got to know her fellow officers through quick conversations like these. While Nick was away, training to become an officer himself, she had made several new friends in the ZPD. Something that Clawhauser told her would one day save her life.

In this line of work, you could only count on those who had your back to survive, and having a friend by your side could be the difference between cracking a case or die trying.

So knowing the ones who could potentially save your life was very important, and it was Clawhauser’s self-given assignment to make sure moments like these actually happened.

“So you really don’t like water?” Fangmeyer questioned with an awestruck façade. The others watched on the exchange like a match of tennis.

“It’s not like I don’t bath, Fang!” Johnson retorted indignantly. “I just don’t like what it does to my mane. You’d care if you had a mane too.”

“Now I understand why you’re so grumpy when it rains.” Delgato laughed as he took a sip of his latte, which was the only thing that saved him from an elbow to the ribs from a very unamused lion.

“In your defense, Johnson, I’m not very fond of water either.” Revealed Grizzoli, the polar bear, as he fished for a donut in the box Clawhauser had brought. “I almost drowned as a cub when I was still learning how to swim. Had to have a few sessions of therapy, to be honest.”

The ambient grew slightly more serious, but not for long.

“Good thing it was just water, eh Grizzoli?” The attention in the room diverted towards Nick, who strolled into the small room with two cups of coffee in his paws. Some of the officers rolled their eyes at the sunglasses that Nick wore, even indoors. “Remember what Officer Hopps made me do when we were still working on that Missing Mammals case?”

Judy dropped her ears so she could pull them to hide her face as the other officers started to either laugh or cringe, or both, as they looked between the two smaller mammals in the room.

“Flushed to safety.” Snickered Delgato. “Ingenious plan of escape, but still disgusting.”

“Come on. We stunk, but at least we were still in one piece.” Judy protested from behind her ears when she felt Nick’s tail brush her ankles. She pushed them up and away from her eyes, and they perked again while she took the cup of coffee Nick held up for her. “But that definitely goes to my list.”

“List?” The plump cheetah looked down in confusion at the bunny sitting by his side.

She looked up at Clawhauser and articulated with her paws. “Of things I’ll never do again.”

“You have a list?” The cheetah questioned on confusion.

“You don’t?” Johnson commented, playfully pulling Nick’s aviators up his forehead when he sat on the couch across from Judy and Clawhauser, next to Fangmeyer. The fox gave a fake annoying growl and pushed the lion’s paw away before readjusting his sunglasses over his eyes again.

“So what were we talking about again? Mundane fears?” Nick said as he stirred his coffee before taking a sip.

“Yup.” Fangmeyer nodded, leaning over to take a donut from the box on the coffee table. “We already know that Wilde doesn’t like muzzles.”

Nick held a clawed finger up. “And I quote ‘don’t like’. Doesn’t make me afraid of them.”

“Says you.” The tigress shrugged, not really caring for the interruption, as she leaned back against the back of the couch. “But what about you, Hopps?”

“Hum?” Caught while sipping from her drink, Judy spied the tiger from over the lip of her cup.

“Oh, that’s right!” Nick’s eyes lighted up in remembrance. “I remember when I was waiting for you at the hospital after the Savage case. You told me you’re afraid of hospitals.”

“I said I didn’t like hospitals, not that I feared them.”

“Says you.” Both Fangmeyer and Nick quipped at the same time. They smirked at one another and bumped fists.

“So, your fear…” Delgato asked, leaning against the wall nearby. “You say it’s of hospitals. How come?”

The bunny looked up at her colleagues, noticing that they were all looking at her, waiting for her answer. She became somber all of a sudden. The change was quickly noticed by her fellow officers.

“I, hum… I used to volunteer to cheer up patients in a small hospital around Outback Islands as a teenager.” She started, stirring her coffee as a way to gather her thoughts. “Sometimes I stayed there at night to keep company to the elders who had trouble sleeping. Keep them distracted with light conversation, tuck them in when they got bored, turn off the lights… you know, just the typical drill.”

She looked up at her audience, each still relaxed in their own way, but still listening to her story. “Everything seemed fine. All the patients were asleep. Yeah, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Until… I noticed that there was some blood on the hallway floor.”

Any sounds of slurping or chewing stopped. Any sound coming from out of the room also seemed to mute as all 5 officers focused on her story, suddenly very concentrated on the bunny.

Judy looked down at the black coffee inside her cup with a pondering gaze. “So I… I followed the blood trail down the hall to the hospital director's office. He was a nice old bunny who used to sleep on his couch after his shifts instead of going home.” She smiled slightly in remembrance.

“So I walked up to his couch, and... he was just lying there, under his covers” She looked up at all sets of focused eyes. “dead. Someone stabbed him and amputated his legs. Some stupid old myth about bunny feet giving you luck.”

There was collective intake of breath in the room as the officers looked at one another, bothered.

“I ran out of there so fast, out the door, down the hall. I can just remember that… it was really dark.

“Once I got to the reception, I found a nurse; I guess she heard me scream.”

The room was still engulfed in complete silence. Steam swirled from forgotten cups left around an equally forgotten box of donuts on the coffee table. Fangmeyer held a half-eaten donut in the air, halfway to her mouth, while Clawhauser stopped in the middle process of chewing one.

“They caught the secretary on his way to Zootopia. I guess he still had the knife and the director’s feet on him.” Judy concluded, leaning back against the backrest of the couch. “Anyway, I guess that's probably when I decided I didn't like hospitals.”

As Judy brought the coffee up to her lips for a sip, the silent officers looked at one another with haunted eyes. Clawhauser looked a little pale, and Delgato’s jaw was slightly open.

Nick looked up at his partner, cringing at what an awful experience his bunny friend went though at such a young age. Expect… was that a…grin?

“You serious?” He questioned, dubious.

Judy lowered her cup with a straight face. She seemed to dare him to doubt her.

At her silence, the other officers looked on as well.

Then her mask fell and a grin split her face. “No.”

Clawhauser’s jaw unhinged. Johnson exchanged bewildered looks with Delgato, as did Fangmeyer and Grizzoli. Nick fell back and started to laugh hysterically.

“Dear lord!” The cheetah muttered, running his paws over the bristled fur on his arms.

“You gotta be kidding~…” Johnson walked off to the coffee machine, waving his paws dramatically in the air. “That’s it. After that, I’ll get myself some more coffee.”

“Me too! Bring some for me!” Fangmeyer exclaimed, starting to laugh herself.

Judy was sniggering. “Come on people, you believed all of that? I don’t know why I’m afraid of hospitals. I just… I am. Why is Clawhauser still afraid of the dark?”

“I gotta say, Judy, that was pretty good!” Delgato gave her a double thumbs up. “You got all of us! Even this dummy. Come on Nick, compose yourself!”

But the fox couldn’t help it. It took a while for him to stop laughing.

He’d have to congratulate the bunny later for hustling the best on the ZPD.

And himself.

Chapter Text

Nick wasn’t one to be reckless. To stop, evaluate a situation and come up with a plan had always been his style, learned in his childhood, perfected during his years as a conmammal, and fully applied now as an officer of the law. It had saved his tail, and Judy’s, on more occasions than he cared to count.

But when it came to his partner, for some reason or another, that very important lesson was simply thrown out the window and he started acting pretty much like her: head on and recklessly.

Right now was one of those moments. After nearly a month away from her, not hearing her voice or getting a sniff of her scent, his instincts demanded that he go visit her.

The problem about that? She was on an undercover mission in the middle of the most dangerous parts of Zootopia.

And to make it worse? He had been spotted.

Strangers were not welcomed to these parts. At least he had been sensible enough to avoid using his duty blues, because cops were also not very appreciated around here.

After nearly an hour moving in and out of shadows to avoid the ones in pursuit of him, he finally found himself in an old and falling apart building, in front of the apartment Judy was supposed to be living during the mission. The prospect of finally seeing her again even eliminated the guilt of hustling poor Clawhauser into telling him her location.

He knocks at her door, and it doesn’t take long for him to be answered.

“Nick?!” The bunny gasps at the sight of her fox partner. “What the hell are you doing here?” She hisses, looking down the hallway, both ways, to see if anybody was there.

Nick ignored her use of curse words and pushed her back into the apartment, shutting and locking the door behind him. He surprised then her, and himself, when his arms pulled her roughly against his chest. “I’m here to see you! What else, you dumb bunny?”

“I’m undercover, Nick!” Judy hissed against his chest, trying to pull away from his strong hold. All in vain.

“I don’t care.” He growled near her ears, resting his muzzle on top of her head. “I missed my partner. I had to see you, Judy!”

The bunny stops struggling, surprised at the resolve in his voice as he said her name. With a defeated sigh, Judy gave up the struggle and let her arms find their way around his slim torso to hug him back, her paws grasping at his shirt strongly. His stiff tail started to lazily wag behind him.

“You dumb fox.” Her voice was soft now, a smile raising the corners of her lips. She nuzzled at his chest, his musk reminding her how much she missed his scent, his quips, his voice. “I missed you too.”

The fox allowed a contented growl to escape his throat, rubbing his muzzle over the top of Judy’s head, not even registering that he left there a subtle scent mark.

Was he a possessive fox towards his bunny? Yes, yes he was.

Did he became a reckless fox whenever his bunny was involved? Yes, one hundred percent.

But their little moment was all interrupted by the reality of their situation when a rough bang to the door awoke them from their little world.

“Open up, Lavander!” A gruff voice said angrily from the other side.

Judy jumped back with a start, shoving Nick away with her paws against his chest. “Did they see you?” Her voice was a whisper, her eyes glaring narrowly at him.

“They might or might not have caught a glimpse of me slipping by.” The fox said sheepishly. His grin widened. “Lavander.

Judy scowled at him. “Find some place to hide before I turn you into a rug!”

“Come on, Lavander! I ain’t got all day!” The impatient voice behind the door banged at the wood once again.

“Just a minute, Gary!” She said to the door before turning impatiently to Nick, who was checking underneath the bed. “Come on, Nick! Hurry!”

“There’s a million stuff under the bed!” He complained, raising from the floor. “Who keeps this place anyway? Nuns? There ain’t a place for a lover to hide.”

Judy felt the insides of her ears heat up while the fox went to check the bathroom. ‘What did he mean by that?!’

“You better open right now, Lavander! Don’t make break in!”

“No!” Judy turned to the door in fright, her brain scampering to find excuses to gain them time. “I-I’m naked here!”

Nick scurried out the bathroom with a wide expression. “Now they’ll break in!”

Time was running short. Nick stopped in the middle of the room, pulling at his ears and willing his brain to think faster while Judy was nearly having a heart attack. All of a sudden, his eyes lit up.

Judy watched in bewilderment when Nick stripped off his jacket and undershirt, throwing them under the bed before climbing on it and under the covers.

“The hell are you doing?!” She mouthed.

“Improvising!” He mouthed back, sitting up against the headboard. “Go! Open up!”

“What?! Are you insane?!” The bunny threw her paws skywards.

“Trust me, Carrots!” He begged, paws joined in front of him. “I know what I’m doing! Open the door!”

With an exasperated scowl, she turned and yanked the door open, giving Nick barely any time to make himself look angry.

The rabbit opened the door to a short ferret, seemingly rather young and a bit unexperienced. Nick thanked all gods he knew for that. “A suspicious stranger was spotted sniffing around the neighborhood, Lavander. Have you seen anything?”

Before Judy could answer the ferret, Nick straightened up, a growl rippling from his chest.

“I’m fed up with you! Alright! Up here!” He roughly motioned to his forehead. His voice was deep with anger and distaste, and even Judy was nearly convinced. “Why don’t you serve that tail on a tray to make it easier on the next predator?”

‘What?’ She turned towards him with an arched eyebrow. Did he forget she could pummel him into dust without even trying?

The ferret looked at the half naked fox he just then noticed was in the apartment, than spared a terse crooked look at Judy. Uncomfortably, he entered the apartment. “Don’t mind me. I need to look for any possible intruder.”

‘Hustled.’ Nick smirked internally, but his scowl was firmly in place as he waved a paw at Judy. “Is that the kind of clothes a dating bunny is supposed to wear?! Is that all for me?! So I’ll be the happy, stupid, cheated on fox?”

Judy fixed an angry frown, and Nick thought she’d beat him up black and blue. “No! That’s to make you the angry, stupid cheated on fox! Like always!”

Internally, Nick grinned proud. ‘That’s my bunny girl!’ Outwards, the fox jumped from the bed, throwing the covers to the ground. “Repeat that! Repeat that to my face, rabbit!”

“I’m sick of this! It’s always the same!” She stepped forward in challenge, throwing her arms angrily in the air.

“It’s always the same because you’re the same ol’ whore as always!” Nick cringed inside. ‘Don’t kill me for that, Carrots.’

The ferret, who was standing near the wardrobe to distractedly watch the fight, shook himself awake to his duty here. “Uhm… I’ll just, keep looking over here. Excuse me.”

The smaller predator walked to the bathroom to search some more. Judy discreetly steeped closer to the door, hoping to make her voice sound louder and angrier. “Whore is your vixen mother, you bastard!” With no one but Nick to see, her face momentarily broke her angry mask to reveal an apologetic expression as she mouthed: “Sorry.”

Good naturedly, Nick allowed her to see an easy grin. He quickly fixed his angry snarl when the ferret came out of the bathroom. “And the one who winks? And the one who flirts? Is that just to humiliate me? Just to throw at my face that your damn father has all the goddamn money? As if you were the only one providing in the house?”

Judy also had her angry scowl readily in place and in time. “Is that my fault that you’re such just a useless idiot?”

“Oh, I am useful! Useful for you to step on! To humiliate and cheat on!” He waved his arms in exasperation for good measure. The face of the ferret face was priceless.

“Hm… excuse me, have you seen anybody strange and acting odd walking aro-…”

Nick gave him no breach. “Why date me then? To have me as a doormat? To step one me and… and… and step on me again?”

Judy was quick to follow his lead. Don’t give the ferret time to think. “No! Because I feel sorry for you!”

“That’s what people will feel once they see the pancake I’ll turn your face into, you slut!”

The ferret surged forward in distress. “W-w-wait. T-that’s not really necessary, right friend?”

“Don’t worry, that’s the way that she’ll be taught to… come here, you little-…!!” Nick tried to ‘attack’ Judy, but the ferret held him back. The bunny defiantly stood her ground with crossed arms, playfully looking on with a challenging glare.

“Calm down, okay friend? I’m sure you two can sort it out without violence, okay?” The ferret suggested. “But down to business, someone suspect was seen sniffing around the neighborhood. They say he’s a red fox, wearing a black jacket and a green shirt and-…”

Nick noticed Judy’s frantic gesture over the ferret’s shoulder. She was pointing to the ground near the bed, and he discretely took a look there. He saw his black jacket and green shirt peeking out from underneath the covers, and he gulped down.

The fox quickly thought up a way to distract and get rid of the ferret before he noticed the clothes. Good thing the little predator was young and unexperienced.

“No, no, no. I haven’t see anything. I… I’m pretty sure of it.” Nick looked up at Judy with a resolute frown. “But that’s okay. I deserve that, right? I’m just some lousy fox, after all. But it’ll end today.” He reached down to his waist, where he kept a holstered gun. He thought it would be prudent to take it with him, and he was glad now that he did. He took the gun and offered it to the wide-eyed ferret. “Can you please-…?”

“No!” The younger predator jumped back, nearly bumping into Judy. “Are you insane?!”

“Please! Release me of this torment!” Nick cried out, clutching at his chest with his free paw. Out of sight of the ferret, Judy rolled her eyes with a smirk at his drama.

“I can’t! No!” The ferret turned tail and fled from the apartment, Nick hushing after him, ‘begging’ to be freed of a loveless life. He kept the drama until he was able to shut and lock the door once again.

With the click of the lock, all pretense was dropped as Nick doubled over in laughter, Judy falling back on her bed trying to breathe through her mirth.

“Hook, line and sinker, sucker!” Nick cackled, holstering the gun again. “What a joke!”

Judy tried to add her own comment, but she was laughing so hard she could barely breath.

Nick threw himself on the bed next to her and joined her in laughter.