Chapter 1: The Story Begins...


"Grandpa! Grandpa!"

"Tell us a story Grandpa!

The pitter patter of dozens of softly padded feet swarmed into his ears and into an enormous room filled with all sorts of furniture, both old and new. The tiny mammals flooded quickly around one of those pieces, an old red recliner, worn with age. They stared up at the figure of an elderly fox, whose grey fur betrayed his advanced years.

"Are you awake Grandpa? Your eyes make you look like you are sleeping..."

"Do you think he's dead? He looks dead...should we poke him?"

The aging fox wanted to chuckle, but held it in, wanting to have a little fun with the gaggle of young kits at his feet. Nearly every day this same routine would occur. And nearly every day he would leave them waiting until their patience could take no more. He imagined all their eyes staring up at him, practically imploring him to show he was awake. All the little bunnies, their long ears lowered across their backs, noses twitching anxiously. The fox pups, ears pointed forward, awaiting their grandpa to wake from his slumber.

I think I'll give them another minute or two...he thought drowsily. Jostling in his recliner, he pulled at his blanket as he rolled over onto his side, letting loose a short snore. Even with his back now turned to all the young kits at the foot of his chair, he could feel their expectant eyes still focused on him. Whenever they came in to have him tell one of his stories, this was always the most fun part of the whole affair. The vulpine could only imagine what his grandkits were doing now.

"I think he's dead...we should tell Mom to go bury him...Ow! What did I do Olivia!"

"He isn't dead, Alvin, he's just pretending to be sleeping again. He only moves when he is awake, duh." Olivia replied. "Besides, Grandpa is too old to be dead. You can tell by how much silver he has in his fur."

The elderly fox mentally laughed. His two oldest grand-kits were at it again. Olivia and Alvin, and most rambunctious youngsters he had ever seen in his whole life. Olivia was a creme colored bunny, a slight brown patch covering her nose and mouth while Alvin was a young fox pup, nearly identical in his markings to his grandfather. He absolutely adored them, but of course, being seven, they could sometimes be quite the obstacle to his mid-day napping sessions. In that regard, they were amazingly similar to his kids when they were this age. Though honestly, considering how many foxes and bunny's now lived in the expansive residence, he was surprised he got any time to nap at all. The other issue was now remembering all their names. He was sure it wasn't that he was getting older, just that there were so many of them now! At least with how old he was getting, it sure made a great excuse when he did forget their names.

He began to smile, but quickly shifted it into a loud snore to hide the movement. He couldn't risk giving himself away so soon, that would ruin the fun of the prank.

"Oh..." replied Alvin. "So he's like a zombie fox then?"

Now that is an interesting thought...the old fox mused.

"I guess," Olivia replied. He heard a soft thumping on the carpet. It was a telltale sign that Olivia was about to cause some mischief when she started tapping her paw. He could practically see the slight smile on her face as she would slowly half close her eyelids, her hip jutting out just ever so slightly as she would introduce whatever scheming plot she had devised.

"That just means you're safe around him, since zombie foxes only eat brains and you don't have any."

"Hey! I have brains!" came the shouted reply. "Mom tells me that all the time! Mom! Olivia is being mean again!"

"Olivia, Alvin, keep it down in there and leave your grandfather alone," a female voice echoed from the kitchen. "He needs his beauty sleep!"

"But mom..." Olivia sputtered. "He's been asleep for the whole day!"

"Just imagine what he'd look like if he didn't have the whole day!" came the jovial reply.

The old fox snorted, it was time for the big reveal after a comment like that. "Then I would be a zombie-fox eating all your brains." He rolled over with surprising agility to face his grand-kits, nabbing both Olivia and Alvin by their overalls as were looking towards their mother in the kitchen. Squeals of delight and fear filled the room as the many young rabbits and foxes began scampering everywhere, while Olivia and Alvin tried frantically to get out of their grandfather's grip.

"You do know that zombie-foxes require at least two small grand-kit brains a day," he laughed, holding the pair up near his face while flashing his teeth. "I haven't had any yet and you too look brainy." Olivia covered her eyes with one paw while pointing to Alvin with the other.

"Then eat his, mine isn't at tasty and his tastes like old prunes. You'd like them more!"

"Prunes? Who says I eat prunes? I'm a zombie fox remember, I only eat brains." He leaned forward, making a biting motion towards his granddaughter.

"Papa, put them down please. I won't have you eating my children this early in the afternoon." A middle-aged bunny walked gracefully out of the kitchen, smoothing out her dress as she did. Her eyes sparkling in the sunlight pouring through the large living room windows, giving her and the entire room an earthy glow. The grey furred bunny let out a hearty laugh.

"Alright, alright. You win this time, Ella," he laughed, lowering the rabbit and fox onto the carpet where they quickly scampered behind their mother. "I won't eat them...this time." He winked over at his daughter who laughed softly, shaking her head. Alvin looked out from behind his mother's leg and stuck his tongue out at his grandpa. As if she instinctively knew what little Alvin was doing, she lightly tapped him on his snout.

"Behave Alvin, or you won't get any dessert after dinner."

The fox pup went rigid, his tongue disappearing into his mouth quickly.

"Grawpa?" He felt a soft tug on the leg of his khaki pants. He looked over the edge of his laz-e-sheep recliner, past the large group of young foxes and rabbits that were starting to gather back around him, and noticed a tiny grey bunny sitting near his paws. He felt a slight tug at his heart.

Oh, little Melissa. Her ears, tinged with black fur which slowly receded until reaching a light grey around her eyes. Little tuffs of charcoal colored fur scattered along the edge of her cheeks but what got him the most however, were her eyes. Giant pools of amethyst, which always seemed to be staring longingly up at her 'Grawpa'. The small rabbit lifted up her hands, and he dutifully reached down to scoop her up and set her on his lap.

"What is it, Melissa?" he cooed, stroking her long ears playfully, a move which caused the tiny bunny to giggle and squirm in his arms. His eyes began to moisten, while she swiped at his paw playfully. Melissa always had this affect on him.

"Can Grawpa tell us a story?"

He beamed at the young rabbit in his lap, her eyes pleading with him, practically begging for him to grant her request. Nearly every day she did this to him. He could never decline her either. This little rabbit owned his heart, even if he had to share it with his other 597 grandkits.

"Well, if it is alright with your mother," came the rote reply as the older fox looked up at his eldest daughter standing in the door frame to the kitchen. "Is that alright with you Ella?" She smiled back at him and he watched as dozens of young, wide, eyes quickly turned to his daughter.

She put a paw to her chin, as if deep in thought. "I...think we have time. There are still a few hours until dinner and I'm sure that, 'Grawpa', could finish in time for that, couldn't he?"

Those same dozens of eyes quickly turned back to him, excitement building in each of them. He chuckled as several of his grand-kits began thumping the carpet with their hind paws, or in the case of the fox kits, their bushy tails swishing quickly back and forth.

"Well, if your mother says it is alright with her, then it is alright with me." The old fox pushed himself up in his chair, pulling the back of his seat upright so he could better view the surrounding kits while gingerly holding Melissa safely in his lap. Leaning forward, he smiled at his posterity sprawled out on the aqua carpet before him. "So," he began. "Which story would you like to hear this time?"

Dozens of tiny paws flew into the air as many voices flooded the room.

"Oh! Tell us a story about Nick and Judy!"

The room hushed for a moment, before all the young kits surrounding him started screaming at once.

"Oo! Ooo! Tell us the pawpiscles story again! I love them in that one!" cried one of his many grand-rabbits.

"Tell us about how Nick and Judy first met!" shouted another, whose appearance was that of a fox, excepting the longer ears and slightly shorter, upturned tail.

"The one where Nick went savage and ripped up a fake deer!" barked Alvin. The old fox chuckled, that was one that Alvin always asked him to tell each and every day.

"Oh! What about their first kiss!" Olivia shouted. She began to blush as she held her paws in her lap. "That one's my favorite."

"Eww, nobody wants to hear that one," Alvin shouted. "That's just gross"

"No it isn't!"

"Yes it is!"

"No it isn't!"

"Uh huh!"

"Nu huh!"

The old vulpine chuckled as the two bickered back and forth, before their mother ruffled both of their ears, silencing them as they now began glaring at each other. Sticking their tongues out sporadically for good measure.

Again, he felt a soft tug, this time on his faded blue polo. He looked back down at the rabbit in his lap.

"Yes, what is it Melissa?"

"Can you tell us about the time they fell in love?" He felt the lump in his throat rise a little. You are too much like her...he thought. His mind was already at that moment, reflecting on what he had been able to witness that day as those two so long ago finally admitted their love to each other. He knew them so well, and had been hoping for that day for many long weeks by that point.

Especially when it came to Judy.

The old fox chuckled, remembering how many times he had seen Judy talking with the other officers at the precinct, hushing her voice as she asked them about what Nick might have told them that day about her. The few times he had seen Nick in the changing rooms of the ZPD, talking himself up in the mirror as he built up the courage to finally ask his his friend to be more than that. He had chuckled the first few times he witnessed it, but after a few times, the fox had ignored the laughter.

Though the story had it's sadder moments, that he had committed to memory all too well. Tears threatened to fall as he remembered seeing how they looked in the hospital so many times. The casts, the pain, and finally...

Wiping at his tears beginning to trickle down his eyes as he looked around, he began noticing that all of the eyes in the room were on him. Even Olivia and Alvin had stopped their bickering and were watching him with rapt attention. His daughter stood leaning in the doorframe, her eyes telling him he didn't have to relive those experiences again.

He wasn't sure himself if he could tell that story again. It was his most treasured memory of Nick and Judy he had. But the eyes on his lap were pleading with him. The elderly fox smiled as he looked down at the rabbit in his lap.

Her eyes...

He couldn't say no to her.

He could make it through telling this story again.

For them.

His favorite Sly Bunny and Dumb Fox.

Making up his mind, the old fox nodded somberly, "If that is the story you want, then that is the one you will hear." Dozens of tiny voices cheered as he cleared his throat. He rubbed his paws over his ears out of habit, the silver fur dancing in the sunlight. "I will tell you this story in remembrance of the heroes of Zootopia, who we in this family owe all of our happiness to."

"The story of them falling in love, began on a beautiful, summer's day. A long, long, time ago..."