Chapter One

Nick Wilde despised his cheap, plastic alarm clock.

Normally, the fox didn't pass judgment on electronics, but he held a deep hatred for the molted green clock. The unholy sound that originated from the small speaker drove into his head with the force of a jackhammer. His paw slammed on the top, silencing the racket.

His green eyes squinted open, locating the alarm perched atop the wooden nightstand to his left. The dim display told him, much to his displeasure, that six AM had arrived. With a yawn, he flopped out of bed, staring sleepily at the dark gray walls of his apartment.

With a machine like motion to his body, he shuffled towards the tiny bathroom within his equally tiny apartment. His paw found the aged light switch. With an audible click, light flooded the bathroom, his emerald eyes squinting from the sudden burst. A few seconds passed, and Nick slowly opened his eyes. Looking into the mirror, his reflection blinked back at him.

His vibrant red fur seemed to have lost some of its trademark sheen, and a dark line was starting to form under his emerald eyes. The long hours of the ZPD had begun to show on Nick's features. Grumbling to himself, he hobbled into the shower, his tail hitting the edge of the white tub. Cold water flooded his senses, his ears raising in instinct to the change in temperature. Nick's body assumed his usual relaxed posture, his paw reaching for the body wash next to him. Any mammal that laid eyes on the fox could see how much care was put into keeping that ruby red coat looking pristine. Nick may have been cheap in some aspects of his life, but body care was definitely not one.

Twenty minutes later, the bathroom door opened with a fitting groan, revealing the much improved Nicholas Wilde. His trademark sheen had returned to his coat, and he looked far more alive than the fox of twenty minutes ago. Cracking his back, he approached the bedroom. The worn out wooden floor creaked beneath his feet.

Reaching into his dull brown closet, his eyes lingered on the green Hawaiian shirt that had dominated his look since he was a teenager. Memories flashed through his mind. For a moment, he reached for the shirt, before flinching back. A cold sweat had formed on his body, his paw clenched in a tight fist.

"No," Nick whispered to himself. "That's from another time, and another Nick." Reaching to his left, he pulled a crisp, newly dry cleaned ZPD uniform. The lynx dry cleaners he sent his uniforms to never delivered anything less than perfection. Slipping into the uniform, Nick found himself staring at his reflection. A smile formed on his muzzle.

"Look at me." Nick grabbed the golden badge, rubbing his claw against the shining surface. "Officer Nick Wilde. Not popsicle salesmen Nick Wilde, or rug salesmen Nick Wilde, but officer Nick Wilde." A laugh escaped his muzzle, his head shaking in amusement. "I'm a freaking cop." Inspecting his groomed fur, a grin formed. "And a damn fine one too, "he whispered to himself, puffing out his chest in confidence.

Strutting into the equally tiny kitchen, he grabbed the coffee container from a small shelf above his sink, a fine layer of dust covering the area behind the container. Opening the lid, he stuffed his muzzle into the plastic jar, inhaling deeply.

"Ohhhh. That is the stuff." Dropping spoonfuls into his veteran coffee maker, he shut the lid with a satisfying click. "Coffee, my dear, how could I ever live without you?"

Grabbing an energy bar from a small box perched upon an equally veteran refrigerator, Nick lounged into his favorite chair. Surveying his apartment, nostalgia washed over him, his grin turning into a dull smirk. He hated the tiny, worn down apartment that he had called home for the past twelve years. The leaky sink, the uneven cabinets, the slight incline of the floors, the unwanted free entertainment by various neighbors. The average animal would have fled long ago, but Nick found the place to have a particular charm.

The apartment, no matter the condition, was his. He owned his apartment and took immense pride in that fact. The worn down look of the apartment always brought a feeling of comfort to a life that used to be filled with uncertainty. It was his anchor. He chuckled to himself, taking a large bite of his cricket bar as he reminisced memories from long ago. The soothing sounds of coffee dripping into the glass container flooded Nick with a sense of calm. Sighing, he retreated further into the chair, his eyes closing. Since joining the ZPD, moments like this had all but disappeared from his now hectic life.

Buzz

Opening one eye, he located his phone, still charging on the worn table across from him. The unmistakable tone of an incoming text and the blinking blue notification pushed him out of the coffee induced slumber. Grumbling, he reached towards shining silver rectangle.

Flicking the screen open, Nick quickly loaded the text module of his phone, wondering who had texted him so early in the morning. A small, but noticeable tinge of excitement filled his body. Ever since joining the ZPD, many of his more 'suspicious' colleagues had slowly fallen out of the foxes already limited social circle. Apart from Judy, Fennick, and a couple colleagues from work, the fox mostly kept to himself.

The text was from an unusual number, with an area code he recognized as belonging to Tundratown. Maybe it was a long lost contact trying to get in touch? Opening the text with a satisfying buzz from the phone, he read the message with childlike glee.

"Attention Mr. Nicholas P. Wilde. Your order of "Rock's Great Hits" has been sent out to delivery!" Embed within the text was a link the seller's website. His ears, which has been perched in excitement, fell back against his head.

Who sends a shipping notice by text? Besides, I ordered that CD weeks ago! Muttering under his breath, his perky mood dented slightly, he rose from the chair. His elixir of life was finished brewing, and the smell emanating from the ragged machine beckoned to him. Grabbing his trademark Snarlbucks travel mug from the sink, his tail moved from side to side in eager as the midnight black liquid filled the mug.

Grabbing his lunch from an antique refrigerator, his emerald eyes peeked at the clock hanging above his worn out couch.

6:45 already? Urgh, time to get moving. Strolling back to the bathroom, Nick inspected himself in the mirror. Even as a kit, Nick had always been slim for his age. The months of ZPD workouts had added a tinge of visible muscle to his lean frame, and he snugly fit his uniform. Satisfied with the results, he attached a tactical belt to his waist with a satisfying click. Grabbing a glass bottle from the shelf, Nick spritzed himself with Thousand Spices, a timeless fragrance that matched his sly motif perfectly.

Fennick had always mocked Nick for his exquisite taste in style, but good looks and good smells had saved his tail more times than he could count. No matter what stereotypes other animals attached to foxes, finding a fox without a keen sense of style was unheard of. Grabbing his navy blue ZPD issued hat, and donning his infamous silver aviators, his rogue cop persona was finished. Picking up his keys with a satisfying clink, he carefully slid his phone into a deep pants pocket.

The door to his apartment opened silently. Outside, the worn down hallways were quiet. Sounds of various animals emerging from their evening sleep echoed around the aged building. Locking the door behind him, Nick walked towards the stairs two doors down from him. The first rays of the morning sun shot through a dusty window at the end of the hall. Outside, the machine that was Zootopia started another day, and Nicholas Wilde began his.


Tap Tap Tap

Judy Hopps foot tapped against the white tile floor beneath her. The annoyance in her usually vibrant face was evident, her fellow officers giving her a wide berth as they entered the bullpen. Looking down at the digital watch attached to her slim gray wrist, a loud groan escaped her.

"Where is he?!" She practically yelled, her voice carrying throughout the beautiful entrance hall of the infamous Precinct One. Above her shoulder, Clawhauser calmly backed away from the enraged bunny, confusion evident on his chubby face.

"Judy, is there something wrong? You seem... well, angry describes it best." The cheetah moved towards her, his soft voice displaying a gentle tone. "Did you get assigned parking duty again?"

She whipped around, the anger evident on her small frame. "I wouldn't know because my partner is fifteen minutes late and counting." She practically shoved the watch into his whiskered face, before angrily withdrawing it.

"Well excuse me." The cheetah withdrew, a shocked expression adorning his face. Realizing how she had been acting, Judy waved her arms in front of Clawhauser, the anger leaving her just as quickly as it had arrived.

"Sorry! I didn't mean to bark at you like that. Nick's late, like forty-five minutes late. And he's never late." She did have a point here. Despite Nick's confident, sly attitude, the fox had become known for his impeccable dependability. Since his first day on the force six months ago, Nick had never arrived later than 7:30.

"Shouldn't you be in the bullpen right now?" Clawhauser replied, his chubby paw pointing towards the clock above him. Chief Bogo was infamously known for hating delays of any type, among a long list of other annoyances.

"Yes! But, it's kinda hard to assign duties when my partner is missing." She had begun to pace back and forth. "I've tried texting him. Nothing but static. And calling him just got me his dumb disco ringtone five times!"

"Maybe he got stuck in traffic?"

"He takes the ZTA," she stated plainly. Before Clawhauser could make one of his infamous remarks, a booming voice emerged from her chest mounted radio.

"Officer Hopps." Panic crossed her face, her paws fumbling for her radio. Clawhauser, recognizing the anger in the chief's voice slowly backed away, paying particular attention to his breakfast.

"Chief Bogo," Judy said, voice filled with clearly panic. "What a lovely surprise. Are you having a great day?"

"Stop the act." Judy's ears slowly lowered behind her. "I've given you fifteen extra minutes. I can't spare another one. Report to the bullpen, with or without your partner. Bogo out." The radio disconnected with a loud click off, an uneasy silence filling the main entrance of Precinct One.

"When you see him. No, if you see him, please direct him to the bullpen," she whispered, the anger evident on her face.

"Can do. Ciao, 9:00AMJudy," Clawhauser replied in his bubbly tone, turning towards his smartphone.

As Judy walked away, heading towards the bullpen, the cheetah made a mental note of the odd way she had handled the tardiness. Situations like this morning had slowly, but noticeably increased between the pair. The duo practically spent their entire shift together. Clawhauser personally had no idea what exactly had changed between the two, but something substantial had changed. That he was sure of. Only time would tell, and time was an element Clawhauser had in spades.

As the clock high above his head ticked away, the second hand casting a repetitive beat, the cheetah settled in for another long shift. The first of the month falling on a Monday guaranteed the cheetah a steady stream of visitors until the end of his shift. Ten long hours of radio dispatch. Thankfully, the ZPD was very lenient on the use of personal electronics. Clawhauser dived into his phone, his claws browsing various entertainment websites, catching up on all the newest Zootopian gossip. The new issues would be posted online at ex9:00 AM, which meant the cheetah had exactly forty-five minutes to kill.

Exactly ten minutes later, the ding of the lobby's main door notified Clawhauser of an arriving guest. Tearing his eyes away from the phone, he adopted his usual cheery smile. That smile quickly vanished as the identity of the guest became apparent.

Nick strutted into the hall, and Clawhauser could almost see the aura of utter annoyance emitting from the fox. Despite being several yards away from Nick, Clawhauser had a slight idea of what may have caused the aura. His Snarlbucks mug was nowhere in sight, but the drink was still with him in a sense. Stretching from the base of his collar to his tactical belt was a deep stain. His left sleeve was ripped from the elbow to the base of his wrist, his red fur peeking out from within. The puffy red-tail that emerged from the base of his spine was disheveled, the fur matted together in parts. His silver aviators had something brown caked onto the side. He raised his arm to Clawhauser in a symbolic 'hello', but kept on his straight path. His cocky grin appeared unfazed, but anyone could sense it was just a mask.

Clawhauser felt his jaw drop but quickly adopted a forced smile when Nick turned his head towards him. "Uh... Morning Nick?"

"Good morning," he said in a monotone voice. Approaching Clawhauser, he lifted his aviators, revealing his emerald eyes. "Has the meeting started?"

"About ten minutes ago. Judy managed to delay it for you." He pointed a pen towards the ruined uniform. "Should I even ask?"

"Train," he stated bluntly. Without waiting for Clawhauser to respond, he turned and strutted towards the bullpen, ignoring anyone in his path. Clawhauser waited for Nick to vanish from sight, before bursting into nervous laughter.

Oh. This is not going to end well.