Author's Note- Sorry about this being late. I would like to thank DORKDOG, Dmale, The Chimp Pit and Gol273 for the editing help!
Disclaimer- I do not own Disney, Zootopia, or a lot of things. Please do not sue me.
Judy's midnight black cruiser roared into the garage under Precinct One. As Judy pulled the cruiser into the pair's assigned parking spot, Nick let loose a deep sigh of relief. "Carrots. Let's never do that again."
Judy felt a smile slowly spread across her face. "Why not? I thought you loved driving around the Fourth for hours on end."
Nick chuckled quietly as he unlatched his seatbelt. "Oh yes. I love being a glorified taxi driver. " The two shared a small laugh. Nick exited the cruiser first, his paws landing on the cool concrete below. Judy hopped out, quickly striding to Nick's side. Despite the enormity of the garage, the small clicks of Nick's nails hitting against the concrete echoed around the complex.
The fox yawned loudly, the aviators hanging from his chest pocket as they reached the staircase leading into the main office complex. "I can't wait to just get home and collapse."
Judy cracked her back in response. "That sounds really nice. But, I can't. I know, it's depressing."
Nick raised an eyebrow, the pair entering the hallways that led to their small office. "You going somewhere after this?" Nick leaned in closer, a mocking smile appearing on his face. "Is it clubbing? You seem like a club bunny."
"Clubbing? Honey, do you know me?" A sarcastic laugh escaped her lips. The mental image of Judy raving drew a small chuckle from the fox. The pair had arrived at the small office they occupied. The door opened with a small creak, exposing the pairs quaint desks.
Nick moved towards his impeccably organized red oak desk, collapsing into a plush office chair. Pulling out his phone, he turned towards Judy. His tail lazily swung from side to side behind him. "What are you doing then? Grocery shopping? Rabbit things?"
Judy removed her tactical belt with a small click, hanging it next to her kevlar vest as she settled into her own chair. "Not rabbit things….Monday night is parent's night."
Nick put down his phone and made eye contact with the bunny. "Parents night? What is that?"
Judy felt a slight blush bloom under her gray fur. "My parents are worry warts. They've always been like that. Part of the deal I 'agreed' to when I joined the ZPD is that I had to call them every week. And if I don't, they call until I pick up." Judy paused for a second as she noticed Nick's muzzle twitch in a peculiar way. Meh, probably allergies. He has been taking those allergy pills a lot recently. Must be all the pollen in the air.
Nick's trademark grin flooded his face. "That's absolutely adorable. Do they tell you a bedtime story too?"
The blush became far more noticeable, an annoyed grin flashed on her face. "Shut it fox." The pair exchanged a small laugh together. "What's your plans for tonight? Have any sneaky fox stuff planned?"
"Sneaky fox time is Friday night. Monday is normal fox night." A shocked expression filled Judy's face. Nick simply shook his head in amusement. "I know. Astonishing.." Silence filled the room as both officers filled out the necessary paperwork that was required every day. Since nothing occurred today, the process would only take several minutes. But few things in life are that simple.
Despite the calm mask that dominated Nick's face, his mind was a swirling mess of memories, thoughts, and stress. His heartbeat slowly sped up in his chest, like an unstoppable train.
Not now. He took a quiet, but deep breath. His brilliant emerald eyes closed, along with his hidden right-hand clenching shut. Not in front of her.
Parents. That was the one word Nick purposefully avoided like the plague. Memories of guilt, stress and pain forced themselves to the surface of his mind. Memories that needed to stay locked away. Releasing his right hand, he reached into his desk and pulled out a small unmarked white bottle of allergy pills. Grabbing a single cyan pill, he quickly glanced towards his partner. Judy was still glued to her paperwork, and failed to notice Nick swallow the cyan pill with a practiced concealment.
The allergy pills would take several minutes to take effect, but a lot could happen in several minutes. That he knew from experience. One single minute could transform someone's life.
As the bunny checked boxes, signed on dotted lines, and completed the general bureaucratic nightmare that was ZPD paperwork, she found herself thinking back to the conversation she and Nick had shared at lunch.
The conversation may have only lasted a minute, but in that gray cruiser, she had seen an every-so-slight glimpse of the real Nicholas Wilde. Not the Officer, or the con-fox, but the actual fox that hid beneath this sly and confident mask.
A fox that Judy desperately wanted to meet. Ever since that fateful midnight ride aboard the gondola, she had been dying to meet the soft side of Nick. The side that desperately wanted someone, anyone to latch onto.
But that side of Nick was locked behind that mask. From what she had gathered from the few friends of Nick she had been able to talk to, the fox had acted in his sly attitude since he was a teenager. No doubt the incident with the Junior Ranger Scouts had been the tipping point, but the life of discrimination that came afterward must have cemented that mask. And the kithood that formed that mask in the first place. And that's what she wanted to know more about.
But why me? Why did he let me see past it?
Within her mind, her own voice answered back. Because he trusts you. And you trust him.
But was it trust she felt? Or was it something more. A feeling that had been eating at her for months. A feeling that had started on that fateful gondola ride.
Nick had something about him that Judy found… charming. The boring hours of patrols seemed to fly by when the fox was lounging in the passenger's seat next to her. The nonstop stream of jokes, stories and tall tales that emerged from his orange muzzle never failed to bring a smile to her face.
Nick's voice interrupted her mental monologue. "Carrots. Could I ask you something?"
Judy's head peeked up from the paperwork with a smile. "Yeah? If you're asking me to fill out your paperwork, that's a no. You are on your own there."
A dry laugh escaped his muzzle. A sinking feeling appeared in her stomach as she inspected Nick's face. Under the cheap fluorescent light, a sheen of sweat had formed on his features. Judy could see the gears turning in his head. " I-I just wanted to know if you were doing something tomorrow night."
Judy felt her gut completely drop out of her chest. Few thing surprised her anymore, but this did. This came completely out of left field. Her small heart began to jackhammer in her chest. Was he about to say...No way. "Uh… no. Why-why do you ask?"
Nick's claws twitched nervously. His confident and sly mannerisms slipping away by the second. "Well…. I-I was wondering if you wanted to… " His tail thumped against the office chair; an erratic beat that fit perfectly with the feel of the room.
Say it you dumb fox! Just say it!
"Carro- Judy, do you maybe want to go out to eat tomorrow night…. with me." He practically whispered the last part. The nervous beat vanished, leaving only deafening silence in its wake.
An icy cold rushed through Judy's veins, almost as if the Universe itself was watching the events unfold. Anything resembling a coherent thought vanished from her mind. Her foot thumped against the air. Did he just say that? Did he really just say that?!
The logical voice answered her once again.Yes, he just said that. Calm down Judy. You're panicking. No reason to panic.
He just asked me out! That's kinda've a cause for panic!
Why? He's your best friend. Best friends do things like this.
Best friend. Your handsome, wise-cracking fox best friend. The best friend that always puts a spring in your step.
Come on Judy. Stop dancing around the question and accept it. He's not just a friend to you. And you're not just a friend to him.
In that instant, something clicked in Judy's mind. The voice in her head was right. He wasn't just her friend, and she wasn't just his. Oh no. Oh nonononono. This- This isn't supposed to happen!
Well, it did. You can't just stare into space. Answer the damn question!
Nick's voice was just above a whisper. His ears were bent back, his green eyes dilated in clear distress. "If you don't want to go, it's fine-"
Judy jumped out of the chair and ran towards Nick, her arms waving back and forth. "N-No! I mean, yes!"
Nick's ears shot up, his body recoiling in obvious shock. It took every available muscle in his body to prevent him from falling onto the floor below. His jaw had fallen open, revealing rows of narrow teeth. His tail remained motionless, his mind trying to process just what exactly had happened. "Really? You do!?"
Judy's foot thumped against the carpeted floor, a stupidly large grin filling her face. "Yeah! I'd love too!"
The fox stared at her with a look of utter confusion; his eyes rapidly widening. Had it been this simple all along? His jaw slowly closed as the realization of what had transpired occurred to him, matching the wagging of his tail. A feeling of utter euphoria filled his entire body.
The pair stared at each other for a moment, savoring each other. Judy responded first, her heart still hammering within her chest. "What time do you have in mind?"
A beaming grin had formed on the fox's muzzle. "What time works for you? I don't want to-"
"Any!" She interjected, unable to contain her growing excitement. Then awkwardly pausing as her ears twitched in a sporadic fashion. "I mean, seven sounds pretty good. Yeah, seven. Tomorrow." She paused again. "Tomorrow at seven!"
Nick nodded his head. His mind had recovered from the shock, and was now rapidly scanning for several restaurants that would work. The fox hadn't even considered that yes was an option, let alone the clear excitement she was feeling. "Seven, got it. I was thinking the Midnight Ride. Cheap, and open to predators and prey!"
"That sounds perfect!"
"Great! Tomorrow at seven at the Midnight Ride."
The pair had recovered from the high, and now they found themselves staring at each other. Judy's foot was still thundering against the carpet below, almost matching tempos with Nick's own twitching tail. The enormity of what had just transpired crashed against them with the force of a train. Judy's face turned a deep crimson, even managing to show through her gray fur, which mixed perfectly with the haunted expression dominating Nick's face.
Nick nervously scratched his arm, his eyes scanning the room until they landed onto a clock. "I-I should probably get home. Fox stuff and all."
"Me too! I mean, not fox stuff, but perfectly normal bunny things."
Nick slowly stood up from his chair, and shuffled towards the door. Fumbling with his glasses, he turned back towards his partner. His haunted expression had been overtaken with a timid smile. "See ya tomorrow I guess."
"Yeah. See ya tomorrow!" The door closed behind Nick with a sharp click, leaving Judy alone in the small office. Collapsing into her chair, she sat for a moment in complete silence.
That, whatever that was, had just happened. She was going on a date. A date with a fox; a handsome fox.
Clawhauser's tail thumped against the side of his office chair. The cheetah had just finished his first dinner, and was now moving onto a small feast of various candies. His shift was almost over, but despite his predications of a busy day, nothing of interest had occurred. The majority of Officers had already returned from their shifts, no doubt filling out the respective paperwork before leaving for the day. His replacement, a no-nonsense Moose simply known as Mack, would be taking his place in an hour for the night shift.
His feet tapped against the metal ring that surrounded the bottom of his stool to the beat of Gazelles newest hit.
A quiet tweet emerged from his phone and Clawhauser immediately grabbed desperately for it. Displayed against his background was a cyan bar, telling the cheetah that Gazelle had just posted a new photo.
Squealing with delight, Clawhauser opened the app with a practiced speed. The photo in question was a selfie of Gazelle and a young brown bear. Both had smiles that reached from ear to ear. The caption beneath read:
A big Zootopia welcome to Greg! #Zootopia #WelcometotheZoo
Clawhauser squealed in delight, his tail hammering against the chair. As the cheetah quickly retweeted the picture, the gentle sounds of someone walking came to his attention. Turning to his left, his eyes fell on the cleaned up form of Nick Wilde.
The fox was slowly walking towards the exit, but the detail that caught Clawhauser's attention was the stunned or expression dominating his face. His emerald eyes were glazed over, and his jaw hung open slightly. His paws were tucked into his pockets, and the unusual twitching of his tail gave him a possessed like appearance. The records room was known to have several… odd tales associated with it.
Clawhauser put down his phone, turning his attention towards the possibly possessed fox. "You going home Nick?"
Nick paused in front of the reception desk. "I… Yeah, I am Spots. Yourself?"
Clawhauser shrugged nonchalantly, pointing a claw towards the ticking clock above him. "I got an hour left." His attention turned towards Nick, who seemed to be staring into space and time itself. "You okay? Did you see a ghost or something?"
Nick slowly turned towards Clawhauser. A small grin had formed on his face, like he had just figured out a complex mathematical equation. "I think I just made a life changing decision."
Clawhauser eyes widened at Nick's odd choice of words. A knot had begun to form in his stomach, and it definitely wasn't his dinner. "You did what now?"
Nick's muzzle broke into a wide grin, the fox winking at Clawhauser before turning and walking towards the exit. A noticeable spring had appeared in his step, and his tail swished from side to side in obvious joy.
"Officer Clawhauser!" A baritone voice suddenly boomed out.
Turning around, Clawhauser noticed the massive form of Bogo walking towards him. "Yes Chief?"
"Did you finish those TPS reports?"
"I'm a dispatcher Sir. I have no idea what that is."
Bogo paused for a second, trying to find some kind of loophole in Clawhausers logic. Unfortunately there wasn't one. "Meh. How's everything looking down there?"
"Peachy! It's been quiet for the most part. Oh! I think it happened!" He ecstatically yelled out, nearly squealing with delight at the prospect of it.
"It? Clawhauser, what have I told you about pronouns?!"
"Sorry Chief. I think Anderson just won the bet!"
"The bet? What bet?"
"No, I don't know. Spit it out!"
"I think Wilde just asked Hopps out."
"Do you have any proof?"
"Then I don't care." After stomping off he added over his shoulder, "And do something productive!"
As he went back to whatever he was doing, he had to constantly remind himself that he did, in fact, not care. He wouldn't get involved with the shenanigans that nearly everyone else was now. A couple of giant betting pools on the two stars of Precinct One and when, or whether or not they'd end up professing their love for each other.
It didn't take long after Nick was assigned as Judy's partner that everybody started to notice some serious Chemistry going on between the two. And inevitably, people couldn't resist having some fun with such a prospect. The tricky part was keeping it hidden from the two ingenious detectives.
The odor emanating from the ZTA station was infamous among the citizens of Zootopia. The combination of oil, machinery, heat and sweating bodies combined to form a stench known to the residents as "The Smell."
Despite this, Judy showed no signs of noticing the smell as she boarded a fully loaded Animalia Loop tram. The ride home would only take fifteen minutes at the max, but time wasn't a problem for her right now. Neither was the smell, or the crowded tram, or the complete lack of seating.
Nothing could take away the feeling of utter happiness filling every inch of her body. The only other time in her life she had felt anything close to this was her graduation from the academy.
As she squeezed between a young doe, whilst avoiding the large hooves of a well dressed moose, the music that played through her headphones matched her ecstatic mood. The song was an upbeat EDM soundtrack, and she found herself thumping along to the addictive beat as the tram rumbled into life.
Exactly fifteen minutes later, the tram pulled into the Pack Street station. The usual chaos of unloading mammals prevented her from a speedy exit off the tram, but she soon found herself walking down the rusted green stairs that led to Pack Street.
Row after row of identical apartment blocks lined the busy street. Several minutes of walking later, she arrived at Grand Pangolin Apartments. The dull gray exterior of the multi floored building added a certain big city charm. Walking up the aged wooden staircase that led to her small apartment, she ran the last couple of steps until she was face to face with the ancient door to her dwelling.
Fumbling with the keys, the door creaked open, revealing her quaint home. Throwing her various items onto the chair, she jumped onto her bed and let out a sigh of content.
That dumb, handsome fox had done it. Grabbing one of the aged pillows lying beside her, she squeezed it with every ounce of strength she could manage. A fitting squee escaped her smiling lips. Her eyes stared at the patchwork ceiling. Her chest felt like a gentle fire was raging within, casting a warm heat throughout her body.
That just happened. That really just happened!
Calm down Judy. He just asked you to dinner. Maybe he's just trying to pay you back?
Oh shut up. You saw the look on his face.
Judy felt herself facepalm. Look, as part of yourself, I'm telling you not to take this too far. Don't go all crazy bunny on him.
I'm not going to go crazy bunny on him.
You're having a debate with yourself. Crazy is very much an option right now.
Her stomach growled in a clear 'feed me' tone, breaking the intense mental debate with a thunderous roar. Releasing the pillow from her vice like grip, she rolled off the bed.
Approaching her fridge, she reached inside, inspecting the various carrot themed items. Frozen carrots, carrot juice, roasted carrots, pickled carrots, carrot fries, carrot souffles, and plain carrots.
Selecting a cheap microwavable carrot meal, she popped the cardboard creation into her microwave. As the meal slowly rotated within the glass prison, she found herself staring out her dusty window. The dull gray buildings around her unfortunately blocked a view of the crystal clear waters of Harmony Bay.
The beeping of her microwave brought her attention back towards her waiting food. Glancing up at the clock hanging above her bed, she noticed what time it was.
It's seven thirty already? They should be calling in…
As if on cue, her charging cell phone began to ring. A video call was coming in, and she knew exactly who it was from. Lounging into her uncomfortable desk chair, she answered the incoming call.
Her parents smiling form appeared on the small screen. A grin slowly emerged on Judy's face.
"Hey Mom, hey dad! " She waved at the small device.
Stu answered first, his usual cheery tone echoing from the compact speaker. "Hey Jude the Dude! What's happening!"
"Just got back from work." A slight blush started to spread across her face. "Had quite the interesting day, full of... 'things'..."
Things. That was a stupidly simple yet fitting way to describe the day that had just occurred.
"Things? Did something happen? Did you get shot?!"
"Stu, relax." Bonnie chided. "What kinds of things dear? You look… well, you're practically glowing."
"Oh, you know..." Thoughts floated around her head like tiny bugs. A sheepish smile replaced her grin. "Just...making Zootopia a better place!"
"Oh, that's great hun." A grin formed on Stu's face.
"Yeah we always knew you would. You did save the city after all! " Bonnie added with a chuckle. "So what happened though? We want details; surely it wasn't another meter maid day was it?"
"No, no, not at all. Just a completely normal patrol! Caught a bad guy or two, did some paperwork with Nick." Her smile doubled in size. "Completely normal shift!"
"Jude, you're red as a tomato." Stu assumed a serious expression. "What're you not telling us?"
"I... I'm…" The grin that had dominated her face slowly morphed into a nervous smile.
A concerned expression appeared on their faces. "You're…?"
Knowing that there was no way out of the situation, a sigh escaped her lips. Better to just get this over with. "I got asked out to dinner."
"Dinner? That's great honey! Who asked you out?"
Stu narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "A… male friend?"
"Just a friend." She stated with stubborn finality.
Bonnie's smile filled her gray face as she tapped Stu on the back. "Oooh, how great! Jude's first real night out in the big bad city!"
Her first real night out. Despite her living in Zootopia for over a year, she had barely explored the area outside her apartment. Her path rarely strayed from the way to the train, to the precinct, grocery store and back. She had been invited, along with Nick, to several after-case celebrations, but usually ended up declining them. Contrary to her outgoing personality, relaxing in her quaint apartment was a guilty pleasure, and she still wasn't that comfortable with all of her co-workers to just chill out with after work. Besides Nick of course.
"Thanks Mom." Stu continued his look of suspicion, but a quick glance from Bonnie softened the expression.
" I know you'll have fun! When are you going?"
"Tomorrow night." Judy felt the blush on her face come back. "It was kinda of a spur of a moment deal."
The sound of something crashing in the background turned her parents attention away from the blushing bunny. Her mother facepalmed as Stu groaned in annoyance. "I got this one Bonnie. Have a good night Jude!" Stu stood up, walking out of the view of the camera. "Garrett, what have I told you about messing with the blender?!"
The sound of something metal crashing into wood drew a chuckle from Judy. "I'm going to go help your father."
"Alright Mom. Good talking to you!"
"You too dear! And Judy." Bonnie leaned in close towards the camera.
A maniacal grin appeared on her mother's face. "Enjoy your date."