Disclaimer- I do not own Zootopia, nor do I own any of the characters. Please don't sue me.
(Note, this chapter will be updated once edited)
You having fun over there? Nick grinned as he read Judy's text. The subway car was busy, but not too busy. The type of busy where you may not find a seat, but you're also not pushed so close together you can smell which mammals showered or not.
While Judy had been forced to stand near the exit, Nick had been fortunate enough to find a seat between a very muscular Jaguar and an older female antelope. As squashed as he may have been the seat felt all the more comfortable, considering Judy didn't have one. Nick lived for the little things in life, like annoying his partner.
The bunny was annoyed at first, but her happy-go-lucky attitude remained as she smiled at the fox, trying to get a reaction out of him via text.
A grin spread across his face. Nick texted back, Absolutely. You're just jealous you couldn't find a seat. Me and my new friends are having a blast.
Judy's phone buzzed, and the bunny's eyes scanned the text. Holding back a laugh, her fingers flew across the tiny screen. Really? Hold still I'm taking a picture.
You're taking creepshots? I thought you were above that carrots.
Nick could see Judy roll her eyes at him, the exact reaction he was hoping for. It's not a creep shot.
As Judy raised the phone, Nick turned towards her, grinning as she snapped the picture. He wasn't trying to look good, not by a long shot. Course it is. Just get my good side. Oh, maybe a nice filter too.
Failing to hold back a giggle, she texted back. You're hopeless!
No, I'm charming. Silly bunny.
Judy shook her head, giggling at the awkward expression Nick had made during the photo. You look ridiculous btw.
No, I look good. Pausing to see her reaction, which was her usual eye roll, he texted back. I'm gonna need to see that picture.
No. Bad fox, my creeper shot.
Haha! So you admit it!
Nick didn't like to be surprised.
In his former line of work, surprises weren't a good thing. Surprises meant whatever plan he had wasn't going accordingly and that meant something bad was happening. The other party had backed out of the deal, someone decided to be a hero, the car was on fire; usual hustler things.
But the establishment Nick was looking at was the very rare exception to his once golden rule. A genuinely pleasant surprise, where the only string attached was the bunny clinging to his arm.
Next to him, Judy's smile went from ear to ear, which was no small feat. "You look surprised."
Looking down at his partner, he returned her smile with one of his own. "Getting off at the Fourth Ward was a surprise." Nick motioned towards the building in front of them, "This is something else.
The building standing in front of them was the same cafe the pair had stopped to eat across from weeks ago. The same worn down cafe where Nick had seen the lovestruck lynx couple. And now, in an ironic twist of fate, he and Judy would be enjoying the same gushy romantic tension those two must have felt.
"That's good, right?" Judy said.
"Good?" Nick snickered, "Hopps, this is brilliant."
Judy stroked her ear again. Her amethyst eyes met his and the roller coaster of excitement took another plunge within his gut. She was almost always his polar opposite, but they fit together so well.
Nick pointed towards the cafe. "Wanna go in? I'm sure it tastes just as good as it smells."
Nodding her head, Judy motioned towards the crosswalk. "Lead the way."
"You sure? Isn't there some rule about ladies first?"
As the pair crossed the painted white lines, Judy laughed, the type of laugh that you could hear for a lifetime and it would never grow old. "I'm a lady? Oh Nick, we both know that's a lie."
"You're selling yourself short Carrots. " Grinning, he turned towards the bunny. "I can totally picture you prancing around in some dress."
The comment started another wave of laughter. "Dress?" Judy managed to breathe out.
As they reached the other side of the street, Judy was doubled over in laughter. Nick had to admit, the thought of his tough-as-nails partner dancing around in a flowered dress was an amazing picture.
Grinning like the mad-mammal he was, Nick continued, his arms painting the picture in front of him. "Oh, I can totally picture it, a nice country bunny like you prancing about in the grass." This only made her laugh harder, attracting odd glances from the various mammals around them.
As the pair reached the entrance to the coffee house, Judy had finally recovered from her ordeal. Wiping a tear from her eye, she jabbed the fox lightly on his arm. "In your dreams Wilde."
Nick rolled his eyes, before pointing towards the small courtyard outside the cafe. "Want to sit outside or in?"
A dozen tables were spread around the fenced off area. Despite it being late September, it was still quite warm with only a small chance of rain in the afternoon. "Outside. It's too nice out," Judy replied.
"Agreed," Nick responded, moving towards the ornate wooden doors guarding the entrance. Pushing them open, the robust aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans crashed into his nose like a runaway train.
Taking a whiff of the scent, Nick felt the fur on his back stand up, a shiver running down his spine. "Wow," he exclaimed.
Turning towards his partner, his eyes noticed Judy was having a similar experience. Her triangular shaped nose was twitching, eyes wide open. "Wow indeed," she whispered.
The inside of the cafe was a comforting mix of mellow greens and earthy browns. Classical music flowed from speakers hidden in the ceiling, providing a peaceful background for the patrons. The roar of various machines completed the melody of the cafe.
For a Saturday, the cafe was busy. Mammals relaxed in the tranquil environment. A group of well-dressed deer chatted about a business proposal in a booth while a lone otter stared through a window.
Joining the queue in front of the bustling counter, Nick looked down at his partner. "I'm sure they have bunny sized cups. Don't want you to get a caffeine overload."
Judy rolled her eyes at Nick. "I can handle my caffeine fine," she said, her nose twitching in annoyance.
"Mind over matter eh?" Nick joked, tapping Judy lightly on her head. Her ears flopped back in what he assumed was acceptance.
"If you're a nice fox, I'll buy you a cookie," Judy said with a poke to Nick's side.
"A cookie? Gonna tell me a whittle bedtime story too?"
"Only if you behave yourself," Judy tapped Nick on his muzzle.
"Now where's the fun in that?"
Nick fit his frame into one of the fox-sized tables outside, sliding into the cast iron chair with ease. Judy was sitting across from him, taking sips from her bunny sized latte. A plate of various fruits between the two, brought to them by a female wolf who's name escaped Nick.
The weather was perfect: sunny, warm, with tufts of puffy white clouds floating in the sky. Beyond their table, the citizens of the Fourth Ward went on with their lives, paying no attention towards the pair.
Nick still felt unusually warm beneath his dress shirt. A type of warmth that doesn't come from the weather, but from your heart. As his emerald eyes met Judy's own amythest, a slow, gentle smile bloomed on his muzzle, and the warmth grew into an inferno. Judy responded with a sly smile of her own, her nose twitching to an unknown beat. Nick felt his ears relax, flattening against his head.
Neither spoke, instead the pair started at each other. No words may have been said, but what each of them was communicating was crystal clear.
I really like you.
Seconds, or perhaps minutes passed before the fire calmed within Nick. Across from him, Judy set down her latte, once again stroking her right ear, still staring at him. A sort of awkward, but enjoyable tension fell between the pair.
His claw's drummed against the table. "So... like the coffee?" Nick blurted out, pulling at his collar.
"I do," Judy replied, pausing for a second. A sheepish smile formed on her face, fitting. "...Do you?"
"Gimme a second," Nick said, raising a claw in front of him. Reaching for his coffee, black of course, he sniffed the drink as if it was some priceless wine. Swirling around the drink, Nick took a tiny sip, before putting the mug back onto the table.
"I taste hints of… coffee, with accents of caffeine," he said in a pompous tone, drawing a giggle from her. "Yeah, I'd say it's pretty good."
"What was all that?" Judy said, trying to hold back a laugh, but failing.
"What? That's how I drink my coffee," Nick replied, the sarcasm dripping from his voice. Judy rolled her eyes at him, taking a sip from her own drink.
"Are all foxes this-"
"Amazing?" Nick interrupted.
"I was going to say weird, but let's go with amazing."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
Nick reached for a rather large strawberry, stuffing the red fruit into his mouth. Swallowing, he reached for another. "Fruits not that bad."
"Better be good. I paid like, $10 for it," Judy said as she reached for one of the smaller raspberries.
"Still getting hustled huh?" Nick said in a joking tone.
"You wish," she replied.
"Speaking of wishes, what's the plan for today?" He said in between bites, wiping his mouth with a napkin. While the banter was enjoyable, his curiosity couldn't be held in check anymore. "Coffee and... ?"
"I was thinking that after this, we could just… walk around a bit," Judy said with a slight stutter, her eyes staring at her latte. Her eyes wandered towards Nick, who replied with a grin, non-verbally telling her to continue.
"There are some shops I've been wanting to visit, and just see how the day goes from there," Judy paused again, waiting for some kind of reaction from him. "Sound fun?"
Judging from the smile on his face, Nick liked the idea. "Sounds like a blast." The smile on Judy's face doubled in size, her foot thumping in excitement. Must have been stressing herself out with this, Nick thought to himself as he bit into another berry. "You want to leave now or...?"
"Hold on a second," Judy interjected. "If I'm going to be hustled for fruit, I'm going to sit down and enjoy them." Her eyes widened as she realized just how much of the fruit plate Nick had already consumed. "That is if there's any left."
Nick reached for another berry, only for Judy to bat his hand away. "What? You weren't eating them."
"That doesn't mean you get to eat everything!" She said with a laugh, grabbing a strawberry for herself.
Nick, eyes locked on Judy's own, grabbed two more of the crimson fruits. "Then speed up the pace Carrots. You bunnies are supposed to be fast!"
"You dumb fox," Judy whispered as she took another sip of her latte.
"You slow bunny," Nick replied, taking an overly dramatic bite of a berry.
Minutes passed, and the pair continued to fight over the overpriced fruit dish. As the fruits dwindled in number, both became increasingly desperate to get that last, prized fruit. A focused tension fell between the pair, but the victor emerged soon enough.
Speed did have its advantages.
"Ha. Beat ya Wilde," Judy said, her grin spread across her entire face as she tossed the pink berry into her gullet, chewing slowly to annoy him even more.
"I didn't know we were in a competition," Nick replied as he took a gulp of his coffee.
"Sure you didn't…" The bunny paused, an emotion Nick couldn't describe flashed across her face. One of her ears bent down as she leaned in closer. Unlike the happiness Nick had been savoring for the past hour, an uneasy sensation slowly slithered up his spine. His conscience, refined to near perfection from twenty years of hustling and conning, was warning him. Not an emergency, but a simple, clear message.
And like most things in life, his conscience was right.
"I was meaning to ask you something," she said, her tone just above a whisper. Her foot tapped against the air, matching the beat of her nose. Nick's conscience, that sinking feeling within his gut began to strengthen.
His body shifted uncomfortably in the chair. "What's up?"
"Well…. I wanted to ask you something… personal.," she said in a cautious tone.
Nick felt the hair on his neck rise, accompanied by the slow twitching of his tail. "Personal?"
"Since we're on a date and all, I figured now would be the best time."
"Ok, shoot," he replied, taking a deep gulp of coffee. His heart began to beat faster in his chest, but not from the caffeine. His grin had shrunk into a pale smile "What's on your mind?"
"Nick, what's your…story?"
"Your story. Like, how you became you."
"How I became I? You're going to need to explain that Carrots."
She didn't need to explain anything. Nick knew exactly what she was asking. He had been expecting the bunny to ask something personal, but his 'story' wasn't part of that plan. And for good reason.
Nick didn't want to tell his story. His story; the experiences that shaped the fox into the mammal he now was wasn't a story he wanted to reread. His story was locked for a reason. The Junior Ranger's was just one dark page in a book filled with black ink.
While Nick's brain was working overtime, Judy trying to explain herself. "It's like this. You managed to guess my life, my story as soon as we met. I never said anything, but you managed to nail it. But whenever I try and figure out your past, it's like I'm hitting a wall. I don't know your story, and well… I want to know you. "
She wanted to know him. Most of the time, Nick would just change the conversation, or spin some crafty lie. But, today wasn't that easy. Judy, his date, the mammal who had changed his life, was asking and he couldn't lie to her. He had to tell her something.
"You alright Nick?" Judy interrupted his inner monologue. Glancing away from his coffee and towards the bunny, his heart skipped a beat. The look on her face was an expression a mammal may only see a few times in their life.
Complete and utter compassion. From the droop of her ears, to the gentle smile on her face told the fox that she wasn't going to judge him, nor was she going to tell a single soul about the conversation they were about to have. "If you don't want to talk-," she continued, only to be cut off by the fox.
"I'm fine," he interjected harshly. "Sorry, I've just never been asked about my 'story' before."
"I can tell. If you're not comfortable with it-"
"I'm fine," Nick repeated, raising his paw to drive home his point. Leaning into the chair, he took another sip of his coffee. "So, you want to hear about little old me?"
"Yeah, I do," Judy said, the sheepish smile making a return.
Taking a deep breath, Nick set his cup down. "I'm honored. Where do I start…"
"Well...," Judy paused before her ears rose in a 'eureka' moment. "...where were you born?"
"I grew up in the second ward," Nick started, taking another sip of coffee. "Family wasn't rich, so it was the only place we could afford to live in. You gotta remember, this was thirty years ago. The city wasn't as kind to predators as they are today, which is saying something."
"You grew up in the second?" Nick nodded his head in confirmation. "Jeez, that would explain… a lot actually."
"Don't let the name scare you, the second isn't nearly as bad as some mammals try and make it out to be. Besides, I learned a lot from those streets."
The voice, which had been quiet for most of the morning, decided to make an appearance. You learned a lot? Holding back credit eh Nick? Nick could hear the smugness of his own mind.
Not the time, he told himself. Surprisingly, the voice listened.
"Like how to hustle?" Judy asked, dragging Nick back towards reality.
"Exactly, among other stuff. Went to highschool, graduated, and started making more money than I knew what to do with. Did a couple of odd jobs for mammals I'd rather not name, and then…"
Judy leaned in, a concerned expression appearing on her face. "You...?"
"Well… I met you," Nick whispered, breaking eye contact with her. His tail twitched behind him as he pulled at his collar once more.
"You did meet me. All over a Jumbo-Pop," she said with a wink.
"Yeah, all over that stupidly large popsicle," Nick chuckled, returning the wink with his own. Judy laughed, and that warm feeling returned to his chest. That same sort of awkward, but enjoyable tension fell between the pair again.
"You said you did odd jobs for some mammals?" Judy said, breaking the silence. "That sounds exciting."
"They were exciting." Exciting was an understatement. Some of those 'jobs' had almost resulted in the premature end of Nick Wilde. And most of them weren't exactly comfortable to say in the middle of a cafe. " But... I'd rather not say out loud in public, just because I kinda can't confirm the 'legality' of some of them."
"I mean, you became a cop, so you couldn't have done anything that bad," Judy joked, trying to make light of the situation.
"No, nothing bad," Nick said with a laugh. "Just a couple of stupid things I did when I was young,"
"We all do stupid things when we were young," she said nonchalantly.
"Hopps, you're still young," Nick grinned.
"Doesn't mean I didn't do stupid things either Nick," she responded.
"What, steal a cookie from the cookie jar? No way you weren't anything but a little angel," Nick said.
"Little angel?" Judy laughed again, louder than usual. "Oh that's rich. I was the rebel of my family," she said, taking another sip of her latte.
"You were the rebel? No way, " Nick said as he leaned in closer.
"Oh yeah," she said, a devilish smile plastered across her face. "Probably the reason I became a cop."
"You know, I was meaning to ask you that."
Judy paused, setting the cup down onto the table. Her ears were sticking straight up in what Nick guessed was surprised. "Why I became a cop?"
"Yeah. You don't just decide to become a cop Carrots," Nick said.
It was a fair point. Most mammals, well most sane mammals, didn't decide to become ZPD officers for no reason. The pay wasn't that good, the hours were long, and dealing with the public for hours on end was maddening. Why Judy, a bunny from the country, would decide to deal with all of that was a mystery. A mystery Nick needed an answer too.
Judy took her time trying to decide, the gears visibly turning in her head. "I mean… this is going to sound stupid, but it just kinda… called to me," Judy said as she shrugged her shoulders.
"Like, on a phone?"
Judy rolled her eyes, attempting to kick his leg underneath the table. "Come on Nick, you can do better than that."
"Normally I could, but you're looking extra beautiful today that it's throwing me off my game." He said with a wink. She appeared shocked for a moment, before a smile broke out on her face.
"Such a charmer," she said offhandedly as she stroked her ear again. "No wonder you made such a good hustler," she added with a wink.
"I meant what I said," Nick repeated. "So being a cop just called to you?"
"Yeah," Judy continued, her voice noticeably happier. "I never really thought about being something else. Worked my tail off for it, and well... Here we are! First rabbit cop in ZPD history!"
"And a damn fine one too," he said.
"You're damn fine yourself Nick," Judy said, drawing a toothy smile from the fox.
"So we agree we're both fine and officers."
"Agreed. But I'm slightly finer than you," Judy teased.
"Just slightly," Nick said, drawing another laugh from the bunny. Neither spoke, instead they found themselves staring at each other yet again. Around them, the mammals of Zootopia went on with their lives. The whirr of passing cars, conversations of others, and the occasional horn from an angry motorist. Within the chaos that was Zootopia, two unlikely mammals had seemingly found peace.
"You want to get going?" Nick said, breaking the silence. "All this coffee is making me jumpy."
"I was thinking the same thing. Let me run to the bathroom and then we'll go." Judy said as she hopped out of the chair, disappearing into the lobby of the cafe.
Resisting the urge to check his phone, Nick glanced at the small watch adorning his right arm. 1:30? Jeez, that was almost an hour, he thought.
A feminine voice spoke out behind him. "Yall finished?" Turning around, Nick was greeted with the smiling face of their waiter. The waiter, a gray wolf wearing a loose fitting green shirt, was pointing towards the empty fruit plate.
"Yeah, we are," Nick said. "I mean, I am." The wolf flashed a smile as she grabbed the plate. "Those were pretty good," he complimented.
"Glad ya enjoyed," the wolf said. Instead of walking away, she stopped and leaned in towards Nick. "I don't mean to intrude, but y'all are a cute couple."
"This is just our second date," Nick said, pulling at his collar nervously. Had they really been that obvious?
"That don't matter," she whispered. An uneasy feeling had crept into his spine. Something about her tone felt off. "I hope you're plannin' on marryin' her," she said as she in leaned closer to the fox, her tone barely above a whisper.
Alarm bells began blaring in Nick's mind. Where in the hell did marriage come from? There were some comments than even he didn't know how to respond to.
"Marrying her?" Nick managed to stutter out.
"You owe her that," she said. Nick could see the sneer plastered across her face as she walked towards the door. "Cause ain't no one gonna want to be with her after she's been with a fox."
Authors note- Yeah, this took way to long to write. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the chapter! Chapter nine will be (maybe, actually, probably not) up by sometime next week. Enjoy the fluff, cause... yeah just enjoy it. (Note, this chapter will be updated once edited)