Nick held his head in his hands, trying to block out everything.
It was a blessing when the hallucinations stopped.
It was really almost cruel. It was one thing to know he had killed his best friend. It was an entirely new thing to have to be haunted by it daily, watching as Judy came to forgive him, or yell at him, or pretended to get him out. Well... actually, that had been the first time Judy had actually said anything.
"I'm getting you out, you dumb fox!"
Nick took a deep breath, drained. The look on her face- it was the most terrible illusion yet. She had been completely distraught, she had even cried. Nick wished she hadn't looked so surprised. God, Nick wished that he knew what was going on.
His face burned from Jac's sharp claws. Blood was slowly dripping down it, matting his once-bright orange fur and coloring it a crimson-brown. He didn't even bother wiping excess blood out of his eyes.
But his bleeding face was nothing compared to the dull ache of absolute agony in his arm. It was still turned backwards, and looking at it made Nick retch. His arm looked downright wrong, twisted like it was. Grotesque.
Nick glanced back out the glass.
Judy's illusion was gone.
He sank to the floor, resignation taking over his features. He didn't care anymore. What was the point? Judy was long gone, happy up in whatever form of Rabbit-Heaven existed, and Nick was getting his punishment for murdering someone. Not just someone. Judy Hopps, His mind said in frustration.
Letting gravity do it's work, the fox blinked up at the darkened ceiling blankly. Large white tiles lined the ceiling, each placed perfectly in line and each shining in the dim light. Nick started counting them, still numb with grief and pain.
One. Two. Three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Ironically, Nick stopped on the thirteenth tile. It was in the corner of the room, tucked by the back wall and the wall where Jac usually sat when he wasn't tormenting Nick.
The tile had scuffle marks around the edges, and a small hole on the side, probably leading to the air duct vents going around the building.
Nick sighed and continued counting, not thinking much about the thirteenth tile, except for bitterly wondering when was the last time they had a safety check on the building. Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen...
In the end, Nick had found out that the entire ceiling had forty tiles. Five wide, eight lengthwise. Each about one-by-one foot. It was a good-sized room for a prison, although the cold air and the freezing metal floor and walls made it a bit more uncomfortable, despite the size.
"I'm going mad," He muttered to himself. This was crazy. He had gotten to the point where he was talking about his cell as if he was advertising it. "I'm going absolutely insane and I'm going to die here."
It had been at least three hours since Judy's latest hallucination had vanished, and Nick couldn't help but wonder where Jac had gone. The last time Nick had seen the tiger had been after Marco left.
Nick shuddered at the memory. He slowly put a paw on the scratches- gashes, really- that lined his face. He yelped in pain as the pad of his paw touched the raw, pink, sensitive skin. As he winced, his arm shook and Nick let out a howl as he felt the bone jumble around. Unwanted, unwarranted tears pricked at his eyes again and streamed down his face, picking up dried blood and causing bloody tears to splat across the floor.
"Dammit," Was all Nick could choke out.
The glass door slid open with a light beep, and Nick looked up, expecting to see an enraged Jac barreling towards him.
Instead it was a huge, brawny bull. It was Marco.
Who was quietly walking in with a small plastic briefcase, a roll of what looked to be white tape, a roll of duct tape, and two long heavy-plastic bars.
Nick frowned, still lying limply on the floor like a rag-doll.
"Y-you...?" He rasped out, trying his best to sit up. Marco looked grim, but sat down beside the fox nonetheless, still saying nothing.
Nick tried again. "What're you doing here?"
The bull began opening the briefcase and unrolling the white tape, which Nick now recognized as gauze. "You remember me, yes?" Marco's voice was deep and had subtle traces of a Russian accent. He slowly put the two plastic bars up to Nick's broken arm.
"Um, y-yeah. Marco, right?"
"That is my name," Marco said quietly.
Nick looked down as Marco carefully took out tool and began cutting the plastic bars with heavy-duty scissors. Wait... is he...?
"What are you doing?"
"Making a splint."
"Why?" Nick asked incredulously, waving his good arm around, gesturing to his position. "I'm a prisoner here. Why h-help me?"
At the question Marco paused for a brief moment before carefully placing the plastic bars on the floor and tearing off two pieces of the duct-tape. "You are injured, and I know that you have done nothing wrong. You aren't even a Savage anymore, Mr. Wilde."
Nick had no idea how to respond to that. "'Have done nothing wrong'? I k-killed my b-b-best friend! Don't you watch the news?!"
The fox let out a scream of white-hot pain and then realized that Marco had pushed his arm back into it's normal position. He panted in misery, letting a sheen of sweat linger on his forehead. He fell back, sinking into the ground once again, slightly convulsing into a spasm as the salty sweat trickled into the gashes on his face.
"Fuck," Nick cursed quietly, before adding a quick, "Thanks."
The giant bull frowned. He started splinting Nick's arm, putting the plastic against two sides and using the duct-tape to wrap around it and keep it in place. Nick let out a bark of pain as the bone was squeezed back into position. Marco muttered something like, "Don't worry, it's not broken. It's just a fracture. A spiral fracture, but with the splint in place it should be fine."
Nick nodded in gratitude, biting his tongue to stop himself from making any other noises. Marco seemed to understand.
When Marco turned away from the now-set arm and turned back to his medi-kit, Nick finally pushed himself back to a sitting position, leaning against his good arm and turning to the huge bull.
"So you help animals here who aren't Savage?" Nick guessed, raising an eyebrow. It didn't quite seem fair, but it was understandable.
Marco grunted softly. "I try to help many prisoners here, even the Savages. However those who have been turned back usually are easier to help. Those who continue to prowl around as mindless beasts... I try to help them, but they do not understand."
The bull dipped a cloth into some sort of liquid before swabbing it over Nick's face wounds. He let out a low growl in irritation, straining his throat to stop making the pained noises. "Antiseptic," Was all Marco said in explanation.
However Marco had just given him some sort of key information.
"Turned back? I was turned back?"
Marco looked down, almost abashed. "Yes... well, Bellwether has a head ram in charge of the Night Howler serum. His name is Doug. He's actually the assassin, usually, but he has a team that works on the darts, the serum, and the cure. Doug's team tested the cure on many patients here. It works."
"Why make a cure to a virus if you created the virus?"
"In case one of us guards got hit. In case someone they needed to use got hit... such as you." Marco fidgeted with the ointment cream he was dabbing on Nick's other minor injuries. Nick blinked.
"Why do they need me?"
Marco shrugged. "I'm not sure why. To be honest, I thought they would just kill you after the entire news incident. However they did use the cure on you, so you must be worth something to them."
There was a long pause and Nick felt his mind whirring again. Were they just being cruel, keeping him alive? Was it revenge for something? Why keep him alive- he had already taken out a threat. The biggest threat Bellwether would ever face- a rabbit. A famous rabbit with a heart of gold and determination like steel. Stubborn, smart, and loyal. Judy Hopps really was the most perfect one Nick had ever met.
"Why do you say 'them' instead of 'we'? If you disagree with 'their' methods, why help them?"
"I have a brother. He was shot with the serum and now he is in this hospital. They do not treat him right, and sometimes they don't feed him. I stay a guard to make sure he is alive and well, and to help other innocent citizens heal correctly, like you."
Nick was slightly taken aback at how noble Marco was. "You're a hero?"
Marco burst into laughter. "I do not think so, but I would be honored if you thought of me as one. I do not think I am heroic just because I am not torturing people... I think that if I were a real hero, I would actually be saving these prisoners, not just making their stay better. But thank you, Mr. Wilde."
Neither one of them said much more. There wasn't much to say. When Marco was finished patching Nick back up, he slowly started putting his medical supplies away. He took out a small bag and gave it to Nick.
"I'm sorry, it's not much, but it's all I could grab during my break."
Nick looked into the bag and his mouth immediately filled with saliva at the sight of Blueberries. Tears pricked at his eyes as he was reminded of Judy, but he quickly pushed them back and started eating the berries as fast as he could. "God, thank you." He managed to say in between bites. There was only a handful, but it seemed to rise Nick's spirits somewhat. Marco smiled sadly.
"Jac should be back soon. He left during his break to go drink- sometimes he does that. I can tell you've already seen that damn tiger when he is drunk."
Shuddering, Nick put down the empty bag before nodding. Marco continued. "I will stay to put him out for the night, but after that I have to get going before things get suspicious."
"Put him out for the night?"
Marco grinned widely. "You'll see."
Jac did indeed return.
Reeking of alcohol and stumbling in with an expression that could be seen as a mixture of rage, exhaustion, and... although Nick hated to say it... lust.
Marco and Nick both saw it, and Nick found his heart hammering in his chest as Jac muttered a slurred, "Heyy, pr'tty foxy!" In a hazed growl.
Marco narrowed his eyes and slowly stood up, still carrying his supplies, before slamming a huge fist against Jac's temple and watching him slip to the floor.
"Watch out for him, he seems to like you, and that's never a good thing."
Nick could only agree. Jac wasn't just a threat... he was also extremely creepy, and it disturbed the fox like nothing else.
Marco pulled the unconscious tiger back up and put him in the chair by the medi-bed. "Don't worry about him for tonight, just get some rest, Mr. Wilde. He'll be so hungover tomorrow that I doubt he will notice I'm the one who gave him a headache. He won't remember anything by morning."
Before the stoic bull could leave the room, Nick managed to scramble to his feet and reach out, his good paw just brushing Marco's uniform.
Marco gave him an odd look before softly resting a hoof on Nick's shoulder. "Don't thank me. Just don't give up, Mr. Wilde."
Before Nick could even give a response, Marco had left the cell, taking any evidence of his visit with him, and once again, Nick was alone.
Nick slept peacefully that night.