A/N: To start, I just want to say that I'm sorry for disappearing on you guys like that. I'm working at an amusement park, and let's just say my free time hours haven't been too kind as in nonexistent almost. It didn't help that this chapter frustrated me to no end. I've restarted it so many times...but here it is. I do hope it's enjoyable. I believe what really stumped me on this chapter was the plot, but I know where I'm officially going with it. I doubt it'll take that long for me to update again. That was a pretty bad time there. x.x
Judy sucked in a deep breath as she rapped her paw against the mahogany wooden door that stood before her, which belonged to one Ms. Taylor Molehill, the only victim to not be continually admitted in the hospital with sure signs of being poisoned. She then proceeded to step back until she stood directly beside Nick, whose green eyes were firmly glued to his cell phone, the frown he had been sporting since the better part of last night still locked in place.
Her best friend's demeanor made her jittery for more reasons than one, but mostly because she knew it meant he had yet to hear from his mother. She hoped with every fiber of her being that Valeri was okay. She usually tried to remain the optimistic one, but with the day nearing noon, she would have expected Nick to have gotten some sort of word from Valeri by now.
Still, the fact remained they had to get cracking on their current case, no matter how their emotions made them feel. They were ZPD officers first and foremost. It sucked, but they needed a lead. The longer a trail remained untouched, the easier it would be to lose out on traces of evidence. If they wanted to be successful, they couldn't allow any leads to grow cold, and Ms. Molehill was as solid a lead as any other they could have followed. Heck, she was the only one who strayed off of what seemed to be a straight and true path to a certain hospital in question.
Judy just hoped the lack of their usual dynamic wouldn't burn the both of them in the keister.
The door opened slightly, and an eye peeped out at them. Judy gave one of her best smiles and waved slightly. "Hello, there."
The door opened wider and the familiar face that stood before them stunned both partners. "Judy, what are you doing here?"
"Dave?" Judy asked, furrowing a brow. "Wow, um, I could ask the same of you. You're the last I would have expected to run into here. I thought you lived at the Burrows?"
He chuckled. "No, no you misunderstand. I don't live here. I'm checking up on one of my patients."
Nick nodded as if this all made sense. "So that is your car then. I thought so." Judy turned back and realized Nick was right, the very car she had been in during her date with Dave sat idle at the curb. How had she missed that?
"Oh, I see you're here too," Dave said, looking Nick up and down. "I keep forgetting you're a cop. I guess they hire any ol' body over there nowadays."
Nick narrowed his eyes at Dave, but before he got the chance to reply, Judy spoke on his behalf, paws on her hips and eyes narrowing. "Dave, Nick is an amazing cop. One of the best I know. Heck, without him supporting me from the very beginning of my career, I probably wouldn't even be a cop today. Please don't say things about someone without understanding the situation."
Nick's eyes widened as he stared at her in slight surprise. Then his eyes went back to being half-lidded as a soft smile crossed his features.
"Sorry, Judy," Dave said, looking sheepish. "I really shouldn't have said that. I apologize Nick. My judgment on your character may have been too rash if what she says is true."
"Don't worry about it," Nick said, shrugging, much to Judy's complete shock. "This is the residence of Taylor Molehill? Can we see her please?"
"You know, I am curious about that," Dave said, looking thoughtful. "What are you two doing here exactly?"
"We're currently working on a case that involves her," Judy said simply. Nick was surprised she didn't share more with her dashing date. Did she not trust Dave? Or did she have another reason? "So is she home?"
"Well, she is, but why would she be involved with the cops?" Dave asked confused.
"Are you going to let us in or not?" Nick asked, as he became slightly impatient. "Because we can do this the easy way or the hard way. Either way we will meet Ms. Molehill."
"Fine, fine," Dave said with a sigh, as he stepped aside to allow them room for entry. "You both may come in."
The house was spacious, an almost empty den with halls that appeared to lead underground. All of the furniture they saw along the way was mostly adorned with patterns that consisted of flowers. It was quaint and it brought a smile to Judy's face as they followed Dave through the house to what appeared to be Ms. Molehill's room.
The mole in question lay in bed, her eyes shut and her nose twitching as she caught a whiff of their smell. She clutched her orange flower printed blanket closer to her chest with her long claws. She looked so weak and frail Judy just wanted to run over and wrap her arms around the little critter. She refrained as they all continued to move closer to Taylor's side.
"Dr. Bunson is that you?" Taylor asked rather meekly. Her nose continued to twitch as she stared in their general direction.
"Yes. It is," he hesitated as he turned back to shoot a quick glance at Judy. "I also have a few visitors who wish to see you."
"Is that so?" She asked, a smile forming as she cocked her head slightly. "Where are they? Did you invite them in?"
Nick let out a half chuckle garbled mess as he quickly covered his mouth with a paw. Judy shot him a mock glare, and Nick shrugged as he took notice. "What?" He asked in a whisper. "It's just that it's so obvious she's as blind as a bat. She didn't even notice we were right here."
Judy frowned. "That's not funny. The poor thing is going through a rough patch right now."
The smile quickly dropped from Nick's face. "Crap, you're right. That was pretty inconsiderate of me."
Dave gave both of them a glare as he stood beside Taylor's bed. "They're standing right here beside me. Both of them work with the ZPD. I believe they just wish to ask you a few questions. Of course, that's only if you wouldn't mind."
She shook her head as she smiled. "Not at all. It's been a while since I had any company."
Judy moved closer at the invitation and cleared her throat. "Um, Ms. Molehill? Hi, my name is Officer Hopps, and I would like to ask you a few questions on behalf of the ZPD. I hate to get straight to the point like this, but were you really, well, poisoned?"
Dave stared in confusion at the duo. "Why do you two know...?"
Ms. Molehill frowned, her mouth turning into a grim line. "That is true. It was a really hard time for me to get through. It's mostly the pain that gets to me and the fact that I always feel so cold. The nausea and vomiting isn't pleasurable either. I hate to say that the bad times are still yet to be fully behind me."
Nick stepped forward. "So what you're saying is that you're still not exactly cured?"
Dave sat on the stool beside Ms. Molehill's bed and grabbed one of her long clawed paws between his own. "No, she isn't. I'm afraid I lack what I need to make a true cure for it. I can only quell the symptoms to give a few hours of relief."
Ms. Molehill nodded. "He's done so much for me. Way more than anybody at the hospital could have. What a bunch of incompetent fools."
Nick and Judy connected eyes with that statement. Judy spoke up. "I take it you're not exactly a fan of the hospital then?"
"Not at all. I don't feel very…comfortable whenever I go. I much prefer it this way. Stay at home care has been a blessing for me."
"I see. You do seem to be in good hands." Judy said, causing Dave to blush.
"Yes I am. I…believe in Dr. Bunson. I'm positive he'll find me a sure cure soon."
"I'm doing everything I can for you, believe me. It would help me out a lot more if I knew exactly what the components of the poison were. I would be better able to find a way to completely counteract it."
"So you have no idea what's going on then either?" Judy asked Dave.
"Not even a little bit, but it doesn't make any sense. Why would anyone want to poison Ms. Molehill? What do they hope to gain from doing so?" He rubbed his chin.
"That's exactly what we plan to find out." Judy turned back to Ms. Molehill. "One more question. Do you know how you may have gotten infected?"
Ms. Molehill hesitated for a second before answering. "I...don't really recall. Some of my memory is...fuzzy."
Dave nodded. "That too is an effect of the poison. Bouts of memory loss."
"Oh, I see," Judy said, her ears falling back on what she thought could have been a huge lead to this puzzling case. "Well, if you remember anything else at all, please don't hesitate to contact us. We want to do all we can to help you. Even the smallest detail might lead us to the ones who did this to you."
"Thank you. Thank you all so much. I can't tell you how much I really appreciate it."
As Ms. Molehill laid down for her afternoon nap, Nick and Judy left. "Well, that was...awkward," Judy said with a sigh as she pondered over what they learned. It hadn't been much and she let out a soft groan from frustration as her foot thumped on the pavement.
"Do you mean the fact that you were completely twitterpated by Dannyboy in there?"
"Hey! I wasn't twitterpated! That's only something that effects unevolved animals."
"If that's what you wish to believe," Nick said, shrugging. "I saw you hanging on to his every word."
Judy rolled her eyes unable to believe her best friend right now. He was acting so weird these days and she wasn't sure why. Sure there was his mother to think about, but she was positive last night had nothing to do with Valeri and now there was this. Did he even hear himself? "He's a doctor, Nick! What else was I supposed to do? In case you forgot, we came here to get more information on what's going on here, and yes that happened to mean I was listening to Dave. It's not a crime, nor is it a sign of being…twitterpated."
Nick held up his paws. "Okay, Carrots. You win."
Judy rubbed her forehead and sighed, hating that most of her frustrations of the case had came out as an attack on Nick. She wasn't ready to apologize though. "Please just get in the cruiser. We have next to no answers and a herd bunch more questions that need 'em."
"Fine," Nick said, doing as he was told and walking around to his side to get in. "But if that's the case where are we heading to now?"
Judy gave him a slight smile amid the stress that was beginning to hit home. "To check on your mother," she said, as she backed the cruiser out of the driveway. "What else?"