Nick stretched and yawned in his office chair, as the last of his paperwork was printed. He took overtime to finish up his job. Wrapping up the busy day, he took the printed papers, stacked them neatly and brought them with him. He shut the computer down, adjusted his monitor and left for the chief’s office. He took one last look before shutting off the lights and closed the door to the bullpen.
Years ago, when he was nine, Nick felt the full force of reality. The world decided to lift him up and threw him back down, and did it more than once.
That night Nick cried in his mother’s embrace. “It is okay,” she consoled. “Just be a good mammal, and don’t become what they think of you.” She was sad that it happened, and sang a lullaby until Nick fell asleep in her lap.
It was the one place he wouldn’t forget, where he was reinvented from inside out. Since that day onward, something changed. Deep inside him, a piece of his soul died. Others were completely oblivious to what was happening to him, but he learned a life lesson that he would never forget.
A boy he was, young and naive, forcefully stripped of freedom, forcefully expelled from an organisation, to be told he was ‘untrustworthy’. A fox he was, so he blamed himself, along with the city he came from.
“To hell with Zootopia, with all its false claims and terrible lies.”
Junior Ranger Scout.
It was a place to be forgotten, a uniform wasted, a memory buried.
He walked down the hallway to the chief’s office and knocked on the door. “Come in!” the chief said. Nick responded and got into the office, handing him the stack of papers. “Report for today’s armed robbery.”
The buffalo looked up briefly and there was a tense silence. He then proceeded to grab the papers and put it aside. Nick saw there was nothing else and decided to bow and leave, when Bogo suddenly called him back. “Wait.”
Nick turned around. There was a smile - a genuine one - on Bogo’s face. “Take a rest tomorrow; you’ve done a good job today,” he went back to his work. “Have a great night, Officer Wilde.”
Nick grinned. He saluted his boss. “Good night to you too sir!” With that, he then turned towards the door.
When he grew up, right around when he was in his mid-twenties, he was living with Finnick. Nick followed wherever Finnick went, sleeping in his truck, eating in his truck, and doing his hustles for a living.
Every once in awhile, he took his alone time and wandered around the bridge. It once was a place of shelter, when he was terrified of going home and no one would take him in.
The first day he arrived at the bridge, he had just done some pickpocketing. When he got back home with grocery, his mother was sitting at the dining table, staring at the blank wall, and her arm neatly folded on the table.
At the doorsteps, Nick sensed something wrong, but didn’t heed his instincts. The moment he stepped in the door, his mother turned her head towards him and asked.
“Where have you been?” her face was impassive.
“Oh, I just went and do some shopping,” Nick blurted.
“Shopping?” Nick’s mother tone went sad.
She breathed in deep, then asked again with a more serious tone. “Shopping?”
“Yes, shopping, mum. What happened?”
“Shopping! You call it shopping!” Marian cried. “Someone on the streets called me, told me that you stole their stuff!”
“Why, Nicholas Piberius Wilde? I taught you better than to steal and lie, and you come back to me saying that you went fucking shopping?” her nose blared and there was fire in her eyes. Nick was stunned, as he had never heard his mum swear.
“I… I…” Nick shuttered.
“I will call the police now, and you will tell them what you did,” she headed towards the landline phone. “I’d rather you spend some time in jail now than for you to repeat your damn mistake, son!”
Nick pushed the phone back onto the holder when she reached for it.
“Then fucking leave, I don’t want a criminal son!”
Nick was shocked yet again, then as the fire of fury and hatred burnt in his heart, he shouted.
“FINE! Then I will leave, Marian Wilde! God forbid that you see me again.”
He then left through the main door and slammed it behind him.
He walked non-stop, looking for a temporary shelter on the street. He was angry and furious. Why would a mother send her son to jail?
On the way, he bought some beer to bring with him. When he found the bridge, he sat and drank for hours and hours while the rain poured. He was never one to drink, hated the bitterness, he said, yet he needed it now the most, as he hoped that bitterness would cover the bitterness of life.
The second day, when he was finally sober enough, he went and called Finnick using the last of his money. “I need help,” he said on the phone. “I don’t have a place now.”
The other side of the phone was silent for a while. Nick gripped the phone tighter. “Fine, I’ll come to you, but you ain’t getting a living for free.” and Finnick hung up.
Finnick took him in, let him live in his van, and recommended him to meet Mr. Big for some ‘low-risk tasks’. Years flew past and after six years he was living the stereotype he has been assigned with.
Recently, he visited the place again. Nick sat under the bridge when the twilight approaches and saw that the stars twinkled. He wondered what lies ahead of him, and whether it will stay this way until he died, on street or by old age.
The rain was drumming on the huge glass panes of the Precinct, the sound of it echoed throughout the building. It had been raining for a few hours non-stop. The sky occasionally roared with thunder and flashed with random lightning.
When Nick got to the ground floor and was about to leave, he saw Clawhauser by the reception desk, fumbling with some donuts. He approached him.
“Oh hey, Nick, aren’t you going home? It’s ten now,” Clawhauser said with a mouthful of donuts.
“Just done my work. Going back now. Adios Benjamin. Enjoy your stay,” Nick smirked.
“Take an umbrella! It’s ferocious out there.” Clawhauser pointed to the basket containing a couple of umbrellas. “You can take mine, I have two.”
“Nah it’s okay,” he reached into his pockets, took out a mini umbrella and waved it around. “I have this.”
“Ah alright then,” Clawhauser’s eyes returned to his phone. “Bye Nick, see you tomorrow.”
“Won’t be around tomorrow, but sure, see you soon,” Nick said and walked out of the ZPD.
It was mid-April two years ago when Nick was doing the pawpsicle hustle. The elephant was not particularly friendly, granted, but this little meter maid came in and saved the day. That was great, right?
Later, when he sold the pawpsicles, brought the sticks to the construction site and paid off Finnick, the meter maid appeared again, enraged and accusative as if she was betrayed.
Ah, the typical stereotyper , he thought.
Later, when he finally got rid of the bunny, there was a ping of guilt. He felt as though he was too harsh towards her, but then he remembered her words.
“...some jerk who never had the guts to try to be anything more than a popsicle hustler!”
The guilt in his heart disappeared without a trace.
Yet little did he know, the hand of fate was now poised over him.
He proceeded to open his umbrella and walked towards the central station. The umbrella was coated with carrot prints, a gift from the bunny. He walked down the street while the downpour hammered on the umbrella, drowning out the surroundings.
It was a serene night with no mammals around and the street was silent except for the melody of rain. Nick walked on, entered the terminal, bought a ticket and waited for his train.
The inside of the central station was brightly lit, and it was massive, even more so at this time of night where there are few mammals hanging around. He sat alone on the bench, while the train roared in and stopped in front of him. The door opened, and a few mammals strolled out.
He checked the schedule again and stepped into the train. He went to the observation deck and sat down, pondering his past.
He was back at the bridge again, tired and somber. He helped close the largest case in Zootopia, the missing mammal case, yet was betrayed by the very mammal he helped.
Enraged by the bunny’s speech, he left the ZPD and ran and ran. He didn’t know where he’d end up, he just knew he needed to leave.
It felt harsh, as if life had just thrown another curveball at him. By the time he stopped to catch a breath, he was about six blocks away. Devoid of emotion, save for a few painful echoes, his heart ached and his mind was dull. There was no sadness or angriness anymore, he was incapable of feeling them.
He arrived at the bridge again.
He went under it, under the shadows of the arch, out and away from the bright blue sky and bright sun. There, he sat for a moment, staring blankly at the wall, and then he cried, for how long he didn’t know. He just knew that he cried and cried until he fell asleep, and when he woke up, he cried again and fell asleep again.
After three days of torment, he finally decided it was enough and went to find Finnick. Life had moved on, and he would not die, not because of a dumb, stupid bunny.
“Are you sure? You look horrible.” Finnick asked.
“Yeah, whatever, just bring me back into the game. I’m starving,” Nick replied with haste, his eyes bloodshot and tired.
Finnick looked at him cautiously, then he spoke. “Boy, whatever caught up your mind, you have to let it go. Nick, I haven’t seen you like this ever before.”
Nick shot him a look and turned away. He knew Finnick was right; he had grown fond of the bunny over the course of those forty-eight hours, but now it seemed like a stupid thing to do. All of a sudden, he was exhausted, as if something sucked the energy out of him.
“Aye, come on, let’s get you some food. You’re more than starving here,” Finnick said.
Nick didn’t reply but proceeded to the front seat and hopped in. Finnick’s eyes followed his footsteps, then decided he should get on with it and hopped onto the cab too.
The train moved westwards towards the harbour. After he had become a member of the ZPD, Nick settled in around Harbour Street. He rented a small apartment. It was an extra fee to pay, but now his income was stable he could afford the place.
He tried to invite Finnick, but Finnick refused. Preferred the van for mobility, he said.
The place wasn’t anything special, it had a living room, a bedroom, a kitchen, some basic facilities and that’s it. At least , he thought, better than what Judy had lived in . It was a nice place too, near the bay. He could always take a walk if he wanted. He loved the sea; to him, it represented freedom and inner peace. For times when his thought was cluttered, he would just listen to the song of the sea, and the clouds in his mind would clear up.
The train soared through the city at an amazing pace. By then the rain had slowed to a drizzle, and the lights of the city that never sleeps were shining brightly. He watched the scenery fly by and smiled with contentment.
It was amazing how far he had come through, and now he was moments away from being a real police officer. That’s basically his childhood dream coming true.
The last nine months had been relentless and difficult. Being a fox at the academy wasn’t easy, but since he made a huge roar for cracking the nighthowler case, everyone treated him easily and there was little to no trouble between him and the rest of the cadets.
Now he stood before the podium, the bunny giving a speech about the city, but none of it mattered, for he trained his eyes on her. He liked her confidence and personality. It was mesmerizing to think that this bunny had changed his life forever. No longer did he have to live a criminal life, but now he was going to contribute to society.
His name was called and he went up the stage and there was a standing ovation. He saluted the bunny and she pinned the badge on his chest. Right at the corner of his eyes, he saw his mother wiping tears away. He invited his mother to the ceremony, and was glad he had done so. Hopefully, it marked the beginning of a new understanding between them.
Nick smiled, for the first time in his life, genuinely.
The train made a stop at Harbour Street. Nick got out of the terminal and was greeted by the drizzle. He looked up towards the sky, and began to walk the three blocks to his house.
The street is now slightly lively again. A few mammals can be seen walking down the streets and a few cars whizzed by. Nearby there was a cinema and a few places to eat, so having mammals out and about at this time wasn't rare, given that the rain had almost stopped.
He strolled under the bright orange road lamps and took a few turns towards his apartment.
When he finally arrived at the block, he went in through the blue door and shook the water out of his fur. He stepped into the elevator, pressed for the fourth floor, and the elevator door closed.
All he knew at that moment was pain, excruciating pain that rippled throughout his body. He tried to speak, but no words came out. He opened his eyes and what he saw is in a blur. He saw blue and red lights blinking, and felt that he was being lifted before darkness engulfed him.
When he woke up again later, he was confused. As the smell of disinfectant flooded his nose, he realised then that he was in a hospital, and that his abdomen was encircled by bandages.
He tried to recount what happened earlier.
“And Finnick bit the fox’s paw!”
“Hahaha! He deserved it, Nick! Haha!”
“Yeah and… wait.”
“Yeah, why? Oh wait, why is he wearing such a heavy coat on a hot humid day?”
“And he looks suspicious, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, I’ll go check it-”
“No, Carrots, I’ll go. Stay here and call for backup if anything happens.”
Nick hopped out of the patrol car and entered the diner, he was looking at the tiger then turned his head around for a sweep.
“GUN!” And there was a lot of commotion.
His eyes shot back to the tiger and he saw a pistol in his left paws. He felt his heart beat like hell at that moment and tried to dodge when the tiger fired.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
He felt two stings in his abdomen, then the world slowed around him and he fell to the ground.
His head was pounding, and he decided not to think about it for the moment. Just then, he felt a movement on his right arm. He grinned when he saw a ball of grey fur around his arm. That sneaky bunny must have come in when he was unconscious. He proceeded to bring his other arm around to embrace the bunny, but his whole body screamed in agony when he tried to do so.
He held back his scream but the mammal beside him was disturbed. She woke up and dreamy, sleepy amethyst eyes stared into his. He gulped. She is so beautiful.
“Did I disturb you?” Nick asked silently. The bunny shook her head and proceeded to hug him. His abdomen screamed with pain again, causing a whine to slip from his muzzle.
Judy quickly moved away, “Oh my god, did it hurt? I’m so sorry!” she was about to cry. “I thought I was going to lose you, Nick, I thought…” she sobbed with tears as no words came out from her mouth.
Nick saw his favourite bunny in pain and he felt a sting in his heart. If he had been more careful, then none of this would have happened. He brought his paws up to her face and wiped the tears away. “Dumb bunny. Don’t cry, I’m still here.”
“You gave us all a scare. You were out for three days! Three days! Nick, I had no one I could truly talk to and it was painful!”
Nick made no reply, for a moment there was a terse silence and a thought in his mind churned. He gave in to it and blurted, “Judy,” - he paused - “I love you.”
The bunny did not seem to be shocked. Instead, she cried out louder. Nick panicked.
“Oh, no no, Carrots! I can’t handle a crying doe. Don’t be upset….” he pleaded.
Judy buried her head into his chest. He felt warmth surge through his body. “I wasn’t upset, you dingus. I was relieved.”
“I was afraid. I was terrified, Nick. The doctors were not giving us any hope. If you were gone, what would I do? How could I live without you?”
Nick was suddenly speechless. Emotion surged through him, tears gathering in his eyes. He leaned forward and held Judy’s paw. He realised he had chosen not to acknowledge his feelings for her for a long time. Internally, he cursed himself.
Just then, Judy called on him.
Nick looked towards Judy and she suddenly closed in on him and brought a paw behind his neck. She pressed her snout onto his, and stayed there for a few seconds. Nick was shocked by the sudden move, but he gave in and returned the kiss.
When they finally separated, it felt like an eternity had passed. A spark has ignited the fire in them, and fire was burning ever so vigorously. They looked into each other lovingly, and dived for another kiss.
For a few moments, they just kissed and kissed, giving no care about the looks that the doctors and nurses gave them. For them, nothing mattered anymore, so long as they were together, and they loved each other. In the end, Judy stopped and just laid her head on his chest, enjoying the sensation of his orange fur.
“I love you too.”
The elevator dinged and stopped at the fourth floor. Nick got out and headed towards the right corridor. He got to door eleven and fumbled with the keys, getting into his apartment.
Inside, he put his umbrella aside and flicked on the light switch. The living room was clean and tidy. He put his jacket away and went to the washroom. He looked at the mirror after flushing his face with water and wiping it away.
In the mirror he saw a fox who is confident and bright, with a characteristic smirk on his face. It was much different from when he was younger, when he was at the lowest point of his life.
He smiled again, and walked out of the washroom. He switched off the lights, took off his shirt and trousers and headed to the bedroom.
He was on top of a hill at the Hopp’s family farm, staring into the sky. The stars seemed to twinkle in harmony. He laid back on the fresh green grass and looked up at the mesmerizing night sky.
He heard footsteps approaching him. The mammal sat down beside him and grabbed his paws.
“What a night...” Nick said.
“Yeah, what a night,” Judy replied.
They stayed like that for a moment longer with content. They felt as though the world was beneath them, and they were on top of the world.
Nick tightened his grip on Judy and pulled herself towards him. She fell onto his chest with a giggle and sighed with content.
“I hope this moment never ends,” Judy said.
Nick remained silent. He embraced the bunny with his right arm.
A moment later, he asked. “Come stay with me, Carrots.”
Judy pushed herself up and blinked. “Are you sure, Nick? I can’t afford to just let you pay all the rent.”
Nick smirked. “Then you pay for the utilities. Simple.”
Judy punched him in the shoulder playfully. “You sly fox, then isn’t it that I have to pay if you decide to turn on the heater all night long?”
“Oh no, I don’t need a heater anymore.”
Judy tilted her head, which he found cute. “Why is that?”
“If you’re there, you are as good a heater as I need. The heat of our love.”
Judy felt strong warmth radiating off the tips of her ears as they flushed with her embarrassment.
“What, you still thinking?”
Judy playfully hummed aloud.
He got into the bedroom and came close to the bed. There he saw a figure sleeping soundly. He approached carefully and caressed her cheeks.
“How are you? Feeling better?” he asked gently.
She murmured something indistinguishable, turned over and resumed her slumber. He touched her ears and figured that her fever has gone down. She was still murmuring and her face was crunched with discomfort.
“Oh, I know what it is.” He got into the bed and hugged her. She smiled, then turned and embraced Nick, burying her head into his chest.
“What is it with bunnies and their head-burying practice?” he said tenderly, planting a sweet kiss between her ears.
He stared at the ceiling while the bunny clung onto him. It was amazing what a journey he had been through. On the wall opposite the bed was a picture of their marriage. They said it was a miracle, that prey and predator turned from hunting each other to finding love in their counterparts.
He couldn’t agree more, and he smiled contentedly. Slowly, drowsiness began to set in and he fell asleep. In his dream, Judy and he were running through the golden fields, under the gentle caress of the winds towards the amber sun of dusk. Their laughter filled the air around them.
There was nothing more to ask for. This was as perfect as life could get.