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Safe Haven

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“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 tigress 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!”