Disclaimer: I don't own Disney, Zootopia, or anything else in this fic. Please don't sue me.
Nervousness wasn't an emotion Nick was used to feeling. The fox couldn't stop his tail from twitching back and forth as he paced, emerald eyes constantly glancing towards the clock. The worn hands seemed to slow down on purpose whenever he glanced at them, as if time had taken a keen interest in making his life a nervous wreck.
That had been happening more and more over the last two weeks, ever since that unforgettable night at the Ride. Universal forces, which had no business meddling in the affairs of a lone predator, had seemingly joined forces to harass Nick and unbeknownst to him Judy.
It was as though Nick was standing in the middle of a cloud. He knew something was happening, but outside of his clouded vision, whatever that something was remained a mystery.
As Nick checked his muzzle for loose hairs in the kitchen mirror for the umteenth time, a voice (rapidly becoming a normal part of his mind) spoke.
You look fine, so stop worrying. Seriously, it's embarrassing.
Embarrassing to whom? The cabinets?
Hey, oak is a sensitive wood.
You and I both know this isn't oak.
As Nick groaned and flopped onto his couch, a feather escaped from the cushions. Saturdays were supposed to be his chill day, a time when he could relax and unwind from whatever stress life had thrown at him throughout the week. Usually that involved wandering around Zootopia for hours on end with no planned destination, just as he had for decades.
The voice spoke again. Nick, you need to chill out.
I know I need to chill out. That's what I'm trying to do!
By what? Pacing around the room and talking to cabinets? Oh yes, very relaxing.
I don't need your sass.
I'm you. You know damn well that' calm is not happening at the moment. Nick could practically see the voice smirking. Honestly, just relax. You look good and smell as good as always and best off, you're you. Chill the hell out and enjoy whatever has planned.
The voice was right of course. As stupidly simple as it seemed, Nick needed to relax. Judy, despite her lack Zootopian knowledge, wasn't going to drag him to some dirty joint in one of the slums.
If he had to guess (from the various and vague hints Judy had dropped over the week) the place was probably some upscale boutique or restaurant. There was nothing wrong with those, but Nick had always been a back alley type of mammal. The fox preferred the places known for their reputation instead of their marketing.
Still, the nervousness had apparently been replaced by an ear flicking excitement that rode his body like a rollercoaster. The mystery unknown location of the date was addictive.
That was the thing about being a predator that most prey just didn't get; underneath the fangs and claws, there was an unquenchable thirst for curiosity. Predators, especially foxes, loved a mystery. It came naturally.
He glanced over at the clock, a faint smile spreading across his face. Judy had told him she would arrive at his place around noon and less than ten minutes remained until then.
Today was going to be great. He was going to make sure of it.
Crown Heights wasn't what Judy expected. At all.
She disembarked from the dirty ZTA train and was herded towards the direction of the stairs by a large group of prey animals. This station, unlike the one found blocks away from her apartment, was ancient. Judy could see the rust peeling off the worn support pillars as she made her way down the stairs.
The station began to shake as the train left the station with a deafening roar and those same rusted pillars shook violently in response. Never had the bunny wanted to get out of a building more in her entire life. The station was a disaster waiting to happen.
Stepping outside and onto the concrete sidewalk, she gazed at the district her partner called home: Crown Heights.
The buildings were short in comparison to the skyscrapers looming in the horizon, rarely reaching over five stories. Each building was a boring, molted brown. It was if someone had dumped gallon upon gallon of paint onto each building, smothering anything that may have resembled a primary color.
Despite the bright sunlight raining down on her, the area seemed to be in a permanent shadow. Adding to the Heights dreary aesthetic were the mammals themselves. Judy couldn't help but stare.
Everyone, from the largest moose to the smallest weasel, was lacking something crucial for a mammal: A smile.
The majority of passers-by looked poor. Simple, monochrome outfits in varying shades of gray seemed to be the norm. This wasn't the Zootopia she was familiar with. An unnerving sensation slithered up her spine; her gut was telling her to get out of here, but she couldn't.
She had a date which she had been planning (and obsessing over) for the past week.
Glancing down at her phone, the navigation app pointed her due south. Nick's apartment complex, which didn't even have a name, was less than two blocks away. She burst into a quick walk, amethyst eyes scanning for any potential threats.
As she turned left down a side street, one single thought dominated her mind, a question that needed to be answered.
Why would Nick live here?
Everything about Crown Heights was the opposite of her predator partners personality. Nick's entire wardrobe consisted of brilliant colors and vibrant prints. Nick loved to grin, not stare blankly into an unknown void. A cheerful fox in an obnoxious outfit would stick out like a sore thumb here. Another mystery of Nicholas Wilde.
Her phone buzzed lightly in her palm, informing Judy she had reached her destination. Closing the app with a flick of her paw, she gazed up at the apartment complex Nick called home. There wasn't anything different about this building than the dozens she had passed before. It had the same dismal exterior and overcast facade.
Nick had told her to buzz for apartment 23B. Reaching for the door, she pulled it open with a large amount of force. She stepped inside the decaying lobby, her nose sniffing uncomfortably as an unknown odor registered in her brain. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't particularly nice either. An unhappy medium so to speak.
Exhilaration had begun to build up in her chest. She wasn't anywhere close to the same nervous feeling of two weeks ago. All she wanted to do was grab her fox and enjoy the hell out of the extravaganza she had meticulously planned for them.
Ignoring her thumping foot, she turned on the forward facing camera on her phone to perform a last minute check up. Her ears were standing erect and her fur was practically gleaming in the sunlight drifting in through the lobby doors. Her outfit was simple: a pair of high-quality navy blue jeans and a pink blouse made for the perfect second date outfit. At least, that was what Sharpe had told her.
Not bad Judes. Not bad at all.
Dropping the phone back into her pocket, Judy scanned the wall of identical black buttons. In the left-hand corner, two rows down was a small deteriorated plaque reading 23B. The button wasn't nearly as worn in comparison to some of its brethren. Taking a deep breath, Judy pushed the button down.
The small speaker burst into life, static emerging as the intercom dialed into Nick's apartment. Seconds later, a familiar voice answered back in a cocky tone. "Hello?"
"Carrots? I'll be down in a moment. Don't get lost now." Even through the static, Judy could practically see the smirk on his face. The speaker disconnected, leaving her thumping foot as the only source of a sound.
Knowing that she was probably smiling like an idiot, Judy mentally recited her plan: acquire fox, take fox on date, take fox on another date, walk with fox, come back with fox. It was deceptively simple.
Her plan had been set in motion; Nick was walking down the stairs right now and it would only be minutes before he was standing in front of her in some perfectly fitting outfit.
Am I dressed too casually? What if he decided to wear something fancy? I told him it was casual right?
The voice answered back, emerging from whatever dark corner of her mind it called home. You're going all crazy bunny again. You told him it was casual and don't deny the fact that Nick is going to look good in whatever he wears.
Judy didn't respond, instead making sure her phone was set to vibrate. The last thing she wanted was for her silly ringtone to interrupt at the wrong time. A minute passed, with no sign of the fox.
Her ears swiveled towards the hallway on the right side of the lobby. Someone was coming down the stairs, and judging by the sharp sound of nails hitting tile, she knew who. Her heart, which had been unusually calm, burst into a rapid tempo, adding a soundtrack to the upcoming encounter.
The ticking and tacking gradually grew closer, an exhilarating tension building in Judy's chest and in what seemed like slow motion, the body of a fox appeared. The voice was wrong about one thing. Nick didn't look good; Nick looked fine.
His tail swished gently from side to side behind a pair of long, tan khakis. But the article of clothing capturing her attention was the navy blue dress shirt covering his chest. It seemed to shimmer in the sunlight, like a pond on a cloudless day. It was untucked of course, with the sleeves rolled up to expose the foxes vivid, orange forearms.
Nick spoke in his usual cocky tone, emerald eyes meeting her own amethyst. A grin spread across his face. "Sup Carrots?"
Grinning, Judy moved towards the fox. "Sup Wilde Side"
Nick's face froze in disbelief, his grin disappearing. "Wilde side?" Before Judy had a chance to speak, the fox burst into genuine laughter. Trying, and failing to catch his breath, the laughter continued for roughly half a minute. Wiping a tear from his eye, Nick turned towards his bunny partner. "Did you really just say that?"
Snickering, Judy put on an expression of mock seriousness. "What? You have annoying nicknames for me."
Nick rolled his eyes in response. "Yeah, but mine are funny. That's just…."
"It's amazing, and you know it."
"Yeah, amazingly bad," Nick quietly muttered. Judy attempted to tap him lightly on the arm, only for Nick to move nimbly out of the way. "Too slow Carrots. You wanna get moving?"
Judy nodded in agreement. "Yeah. No offense Nick, but your lobby kinda smells."
Laughing lightly, Nick opened the door for Judy and motioned her out. "You get used to it after a couple of years." As the pair walked onto the sidewalk, Nick stopped in front of the building. "Anyway, what's the plan? What magical journey are you taking me on Carrots?"
Wagging a finger in front of Nick, a crafty smile spread across her face. "That's for you to figure out."
Nick groaned loudly again. "Oh come on. I've waited a week, at least give me a hint."
"Please?" The fox leaned in even closer, his face inches away from her own. His tone dropped to something barely above a whisper. "Do I need to make the sad fox eyes?" Nick batted his eyes heavily, drawing a giggle from Judy.
"Not happening, now come on!"
Grabbing Nick's arm, Judy gently guided the fox through the bleak landscape of buildings. Unlike most times she snagged the fox, Nick wasn't trying to break away. He almost enjoyed the contact. She made a mental note of the oddity as the pair continued to walk towards the station, two specks of joyous color in a sea of gray.
As they reached the station, Nick turned towards Judy, "Did you have a hard time finding the Heights?"
Shaking her head, Judy motioned towards her pocket, "Not really. I just plugged it into the app and poof, I'm here."
"You youth and your magical apps." The pair continued to walk in silence before Nick interrupted once again and pointed towards the buildings around him, speaking in a sarcastic tone, "Like the view?"
"It's a lovely shade of gray," Judy joked with a faint smile. A quiet chuckle escaped Nick's muzzle and the fox turned his attention back towards her.
"Not as lovely as my favorite shade," Nick said quietly, the whisper accompanied by a quick look over towards the bunny.
Judy felt herself blush crimson as she stroked her ear. Whether Nick meant for her to hear it or not didn't matter. Turning away from the fox, she felt an uncontrollable smile fill her face. A small bounce appeared in her step as she felt butterflies flutter in her stomach.
Nick turned to her, his trademark grin spread across his muzzle. "You ok there Carrots? You're kinda bouncing all over the place."
"Am I ok?" If her racing mind was telling her one thing, being just OK was definitely the understatement of the century. Turning back towards the fox, she gripped his arm harder. "Yes, yes I am."
Smiling at her odd antics, Nick chuckled softly."You bunnies, so emotional."
Author's Note: Sorry this took so long, sushi happens. Part 2 (I think) will be out soon. Enjoy!