Chapter 45 Finally!
AN: Fox Joe won the random number generator and chose the idea of what Nick and Judy's final day at work would be like before they retire. Last chapter for "Always My Sly Bunny, Always My Dumb Fox". Are you ready for it?
Both rabbit and fox watched the seconds hand of the wall clock above them. It ticked slowly, each second seeming to take longer and longer as it loomed closer and closer to their goal. Their grins broadened as it made its way slowly...surely...
"Want a countdown?" Nick asked.
"Nah," Judy replied.
"Are you sure? We'll only do this once."
A few more seconds passed until the clock struck 5pm exactly
"And...we're finished!" Nick exclaimed, sharing a celebratory fist-bump with Judy. "I'm surprised that you agreed to not work our final minute of our jobs so we could just stare at a clock."
Judy chuckled, rolling her eyes. "You know, I could always just work an extra minute now to make up for it." The bunny, who held flecks of white splattered throughout her grey fur, rolled her shoulders, satisfied at the pops it gave.
"Sounds like you've been ready for this for a while, Carrots." Nick, with his now light amber coat speckled with much more grey than Judy's white, stood and went to grab their jackets from the coat rack. "Thirty years...can you believe it?" he stated, pausing to look around their shared office. "Hard to think it really flew by that quickly."
Judy nodded as she slid off her chair and took one last look around as well. Her eyes focused on the name plates on the two desks in the room. A smile lit her face as she read them quietly.
Police Commissioner Judy Wilde-Hopps and Police Chief Nick Wilde-Hopps.
It had been a massive battle in city hall ten years earlier when their names had come up as potential replacements when Commissioner Bogo and the Chief of Precinct One resigned the same day. Nick and her had several long talks into the night about how coincidental it all was, especially with how Nick had remembered seeing Bogo talking fervently with Police Chief Wolford, the two having quite the animated conversation until Nick had entered the room.
"Been a long road until this day," Nick stated. "Was nice that we were able to do all this together though."
"It was," Judy replied. "I'm glad that I didn't accept that first promotion until you were able to be promoted with me. Wouldn't have felt right without you around, Slick."
"Is that how you got us this shared office?" the aged fox replied. "And here I thought it was because you just wanted something nice to look at all day or a way to order me around more often."
Judy laughed. "Could it have been both?" she replied, nudging Nick in his side as he passed along her coat. "Now come on, I have the distinct impression that Ella and Ridley have a surprise retirement party planned for us."
"So," Nick said with a smirk. "Does this 'surprise party' come with a blueberry frosted carrot cake like I saw listed on an expense report that crossed my desk yesterday?"
Both of them laughed aloud as they opened their office door, Nick waving for Judy to go first. "Clawhauser still can't seem to figure out how to hide those expenses after all these years. He could have just listed it as 'donuts' and I wouldn't have been the wiser to it."
The two made small talk as they made their way to the elevator. It had been five years since they had used the stairs, much to Judy's chagrin. A cheetah nearly blew out Judy's knee in a tussle during a riot several years before, the feline managing to toss Judy hard into a street curb, smashing her knee against it. Nick had quickly dispatched the cheetah with a taser round to the chin before helping his wife, though as the cheetah was being carried away he made sure the officers knew what to do with 'Taserface' before hauling him to jail.
At first the injury had discouraged her. No longer able to really take part in the 'exciting' part of police work, she was saddened to put herself on the sidelines. Nick reminded her that there were several positives to the injury, the first being that she might be able to tell the weather due to 'feelings in her bones' now, and second, that she could spend more time with her favorite foxy police chief.
The first had earned an annoyed punch to his arm, while the second earned him a kiss on the cheek.
The elevator chimed, its doors opening allowing the two mammals to enter quietly. Both were quite lost in their thoughts. Over 30 years earlier to the day they had become partners on the force. Precinct One had become like a second home to them over the years with how much time they spent there.
"I'm going to miss this place," Judy finally, quietly said.
"I would have been worried if you wouldn't," Nick replied. "I won't miss it though."
Judy looked up at Nick, startled by his pronouncement. "What? Why?"
He shrugged, looking forward as the elevator dinged. "The only thing I'd miss about this place is by my side and has always been there. So why should I miss some cement and plaster when I have my favorite bunny besides me."
If it wasn't for the doors opening, Judy would have been sure to have planted a quick kiss upon his cheek for such a sappy, yet endearing, comment. "Romantic fox."
As the doors opened, both fox and bunny nodded at several wolves making their way into the elevator. They recognized the tiger walking in after them.
"How's your mom and dad doing Wolfmeyer?"
The tiger, short for his species and with a slight grey to his black stripes grinned. "They're doing well. Not as active as you two anymore but they still are keeping the pack awake most nights."
Judy groaned while Nick chuckled. "Too much information."
"What," the tiger replied. "You should hear their arguments over scrabble. It's like they can't agree that any word is actually a word. They were arguing for nearly an hour about whether or not 'quibble' was a word."
"Quite ironic," Judy said with a grin. Nick laughed all the harder as he waved to the tiger, the elevator doors closing on him.
"Don't say it," Judy warned, noticing the smirk on Nick's face.
"You mean don't say anything about how your mind went to the gutter so quickly? My, my, Carrots. Oh how I've corrupted you with my foxy ways."
"Foxy ways, now?" Judy retorted. "I didn't know there was anything foxy about you considering you smell more like rabbit than fox after all these years." Pretending to take a deep sniff of his uniform, Judy grinned. "That and carrots."
"Oh really? And whose fault would that be?" Nick replied.
The two bantered back and forth as they walked down the hall towards the car-lot of the ZPD, swapping good natured barbs until Nick hit the key fob for their vehicle. The usual 'woop woop' sound though was eerily vacant. Both mammals turned, only for a mutual frown to cross both their faces.
"Where's our cruiser?" both said in tandem. Every spot in the lot was filled...except for one.
"Probably took it in for maintenance," Judy wondered. "We did put in that report about the radio cutting out."
"They fixed that two days ago when you were holding the press conference," Nick replied as they walked towards their empty spot. Nick hit the fob again, pointing it in random directions around the lot in case it had been moved. He let out a 'hmm', scratching his head as Judy's foot began to thump in earnest.
"Let's go in and see if Fangston knows where our cruiser might be."
Judy nodded, agreeing with Nick's assumption. The two headed back inside the precinct, heading towards the reception desk to ask Clawhauser about their car. Judy's ears flickered, then the bunny let out a groan as they drew nearer to the front lobby of the ZPD building. Nick caught the flicker of a feline head duck back behind a pillar. Sniffing the air, he 'hmmed' in delight, his eyes closing as he sighed.
"Well, I think I know why and who took our cruiser," Judy said with a groan. "Why couldn't they have let us go without a party."
"Why Carrots," Nick exclaimed. "You're everyone's favorite bunny. How could they not want to throw you a retirement party?"
"Us, Slick," Judy replied. "Can't forget about the best partner in the world now."
"Former partner," Nick chimed in, gaining a surprised look from Judy. The fox looked down at the time on his phone. "Since as of six minutes and four seconds ago we've both been retired."
Rolling her eyes, Judy grabbed his tie and pulled him forward. "Come on, let's get this over with. "
Walking forward, her gait slowed slightly by a barely noticeable limp, Judy found herself walking only a few steps before a russet toned paw picked her up.
"Hey! Put me down!"
Nick shook his head as Judy glared at him, crossing her arms across her chest. "Why Commissioner Fluff, I thought you would have wanted to make this 'surprise' party a little more fun. I mean, it is our last day on the job so we might as well go out with a flourish, right?"
Judy's frown slowly turned into a small smirk. "What do you have in mind?"
"Guys, they're coming! Quick, places! Places!"
Clawhauser waved everyone into hiding throughout the lobby. A task much easier said than done. With the reception desk being in the exact center of the massive area, it left very little room for the officers to hide, let alone hide the rather large carrot cake with blueberry frosting that had been placed near the podium where all the press conferences took place.
Yet the dozens of officers managed to hide with relative ease, all eyes focused on the hallway leading from the parking lot behind the building.
"Are they close? You said they were close, right Growley?" Clawhauser asked. The mentioned lion, who himself was hiding behind a polar bear, elephant and moose, nodded. "Positive. They were heading straight towards us. Judy looked a bit annoyed though. Are you sure this was a good idea Sergeant Clawhauser?"
The hefty cheetah, though quite a few pounds lighter thanks to a strict diet, nodded. "They are going to love this. When we threw Bogo's farewell party, he was so happy that he only broke one table in half when he shouted at us for wasting time on decorations."
The lion's nervousness easily showed on his face. "You know that Judy is even more strict about those things, right?"
"What kind of things, Officer Growley?" a voice chirped up behind the group of huddled officers. Every police-mammal jumped at the sound of Judy's voice, none more than Clawhauser who nearly tipped over the side of his desk with how he had been leaning over it to peer around the corner.
The lion slowly turned around. "Oh, um..." His gaze suddenly caught that of a small grey bunny's eyes. "We were...uh, just...waiting."
"Waiting for what?" Judy pressed, her foot lightly tapping the floor as she placed her paws against her hips. "I believe that wasting taxpayer time like all of you are doing would look poorly on your records, wouldn't it, dear?"
"Dear?" Growley asked. The other officers looked at the bunny in confusion, before the rabbit's smirk hit them like an oncoming freight train.
A loud, blaring, train whistle sounded throughout the lobby, causing nearly every officer to jump in fright. Growley jumped into the arms of the moose, who himself had leapt into the arms of the elephant. Said elephant, tumbled backwards by the sudden weight, causing all the mentioned mammals to topple on top of him, forming a massive pile-up of mammals in front of the reception desk.
Nobody noticed the red fox jumping up onto the receptionist desk, grabbing the microphone there, or flicking the switch to the precincts loudspeakers on.
"Clean up at the reception desk. We have a multi-mammal pile-up in the inbound lane. Including a feline just lion around."
"That's enough, Nick," Judy scolded, laughing all the while. Nick hopped off the desk, giving Judy a quick fist bump before they sauntered over to the officers pulling themselves up from the floor.
"So, great surprise party guys, you almost got us." Nick offered a paw to an otter who worked in archives, helping the mammal to his feet.
"Worth a shot," one of the officers grumbled.
"Still have one surprise left," another grumbled.
Judy and Nick raised their eyebrows. "Another surprise?"
"Yeah, this one!" a friendly voiced quipped from behind them. Both fox and bunny turned just in time to be plastered in the face with small individual cakes, one blueberry, one carrot. The kangaroo smiling down at the now cake-covered mammals grinned as he licked a bit of frosting from one of his paws. "I think I got 'em guys."
The entire lobby had gone deathly still.
"What?" the kangaroo officer said. "I thought it was funny."
"Ramic, what did you do..." Clawhauser whined.
The kangaroo scratched at his head. "I thought you told me to hit them in the face with a cake?"
"No," the cheetah groaned. "I said buy a cake with their faces on it."
The marsupial blinked. "Oh..." Now nervously laughing, he hopped back a step as the rabbit and fox wiped their eyes clear of the sugary confectionary delight. "I'll just be heading down to the archives if you need me."
Nick looked down at Judy. Judy looked up at Nick. Lavender eyes met smooth green ones as they both nodded.
"Ready for one last chase, Carrots?" Judy looked up at Nick with a grin.
AN: And that's a wrap! Thank you for sticking around with this story for as long as you all did. It was amazingly fun to write this, especially with all the amazing people who helped me along the way with editing, ideas, advice and everything in between. So to all of you, especially lately with AngloFalcon and Eng050599, thank you for your support. And to all the readers out there, thank you for sticking with this story. This was my first big story in a long time. I know it has quite a few flaws in it, but it was so much fun to craft this and hear all your thoughts about it.
As of writing this AN, the story stands at 1,462 reviews, 999 favorites and 1,236 follows. This absolutely blows my mind. I never thought this story would take off like it has, so thank you. Thank you for your support and sticking with me through all the cliffhangers, bad puns, angst, and massive amounts of fluff.
I hope you'll stayed tuned, as I still have "The Masked Fox" Series I'll be working on, as well as the upcoming "What If...?" mega-AU starting up on July 1st. Already have roughly ten authors working with me on this project and I think you'll enjoy it greatly. So see you all in a bit and I hope you'll stick around!
~Cimar of Turalis/WildeHopps