A/N: Thanks to Irual,JuGgUlAtOr413, Wolf Guard Miestwin, Bandblade, Matri, bagnome, GunBuilder, ktrk5, Acestin, octopod, .2015, Jpezcandy, Danny-171984, Zootopian Fulf, Cimar of Turalis WildeHopps, zenith88, Makokam, snoopykid, Cosmic Bond, Ngrasta, Wonderful, Pyrophoricity, sky the muffin man, PullTogether, Vaultbo111, pretty-ok, Saurichiban1, Starfang's Secrets, Thanash, Overcast, Redmanjc, Ugh, rewind gone nuts, phantomreader42, boomballing56, Thomas Linquist, and various guests who read and left reviews! Responses coming soon!
Do me a huge favor and before you read this chapter, go check out King In Yellow's fic, Who Do You Trust? and leave a review!
It is a wonderful story with great prose, spot on characters, and a delightfully clever slow burn romance. You won't regret it!
Now, as usual, apologies for spelling and grammar. I really need a beta I think. Also, this chapter was delayed because I actually work creative in film and video and had a particularly busy month or so and all my creative juices went to pay the bills. The next couple months look much more normal so I don't think there are more delays upcoming. Also! I'll be rolling a new story soon! It's big and sweeping and epic and I can't wait to share it! But don't worry, I'll be finishing this story first. Enjoy!
Rules Were Meant to Be Broken
Chapter 11 – Nick & Judy Do Some Police Work
by Ultimate Naco Topping
The case file didn't lend a clue as to why the Kitt Katt Klub had been vandalized or point to who did it. The club sat in the heart of a slowly gentrifying neighborhood in Savana Central. There was much blight in the area but signs of turnaround were nervously emerging. Hornster-style coffee/vinyl record shops seemed to be growing like weeds. There was a back-to-basics brewery. Vintage goods stores were replacing the area's thrift shops but one would be hard pressed to notice a difference in the merchandise.
Young artists of several different species had taken over many of the multi-unit homes—each seemingly a collective of creativity and youthful-malaise. The long time residents of the area were frequently off-put by the newer generation that had been moving in along side them. They dressed like they had bought their clothes at a thrift... er, vintage clothing store. They wore glasses they didn't need and had their phones surgically glued to their paws or hooves. The older folks lamented that their favorite local establishments with reliable service from mammals they'd known all their lives were being replaced by boutiques with questionable chances at profitability and run by children who acted like they needed just five minutes of attention from their parents.
Such was the neighborhood of Acacia in modern Zootopia. One of it's oldest neighborhoods was experiencing its third of fourth major transition. Acacia was the original suburb to the mighty city of mammals long before the extended Burrows took up the mantel. The enclave was a preferred place for upper class mammals to move to at the start of the previous century. Away from the hustle and bustle of the rapidly growing Zootopia, Acacia was where the well-to-do came to raise their families. Many of the buildings still had their original look but far too many wonderful buildings had been razed or modified over the years.
After the Second World War, the middle class had begun to fill the homes and businesses of the suburb. These new mammals were reaching for the dream of being well-off and comfortable. Their predecessors had moved off even further to mansions with gates and private security. For the second wave though, life couldn't be better. They'd made it. Their Acacia address proved it.
By the late 70's, however, the once proud neighborhood had been hit as hard by economic and social upheaval as much of the rest of Zootopia and the country. Mammals were moving out of the classic homes but nobody was moving in because who could afford them? The area businesses didn't last long and suddenly the neighborhood every mammal wanted to live in became one of the places you didn't go at night. The Savana Central district had, by this time, engulfed Acacia. Without a growing tax base, the enclave was annexed and officially added to Zootopia proper.
Those difficult times eventually brought with them a new class of mammal—down on their luck predators seeking escape from the pressures the great city had burdened them with. Crime and economic stagnation had to be blamed on someone and many prey, after years of rather peaceful cohabitation with their sharper toothed fellow citizens, quietly began blaming predators.
Tensions rose as an obvious consequence.
It became far too easy for the old ZPD to sweep through Acacia and round up predators (and a few prey) to pad arrest statistics and show they were doing their part to answer the rising crime stats. Despite the uptick in arrest numbers, things worsened—or perhaps they worsened because of the increase in arrests. Tensions were bubbling over in the city to the point were the idea of TAME collars were openly discussed without the morally required disgust.
A proposal was getting more signatures than decent mammals thought possible to put the idea to a city referendum. That was until a scandal embroiled City Hall, the ZPD, and several all-too-cozy defense and weapons companies. An anonymous source that clearly was a Zootopia police officer leaked documents and memos to a brash but idealistic journalist. The determined hedgehog rammed the story down her editor's throat (who was ironically a ram) and began to expose a small cabal of politicians, business owners, and ZPD brass attempting to aide efforts to get the TAME initiative on the ballot and more importantly passed.
The increase in predator arrests was deliberate along with the narrative that options were becoming scarce within the current social framework. Once documents showed that no-bid contracts were already on the table for TAME collars by a pair of businesses run by friends of the Zootopian political class, heads finally began to roll.
No historian would suggest that tensions eased as the last of the guilty parties were removed from office or ZPD command. They were simply buried under the surface. Predators always keeping a wary eye on their prey counter-parts. Prey didn't really want to acknowledge how close they'd come to voting for a flagrant violation of mammal rights.
The Zootopian dream wasn't dead, but it was limping along repaired with little more than duct tape and quiet shame.
By the dawn of the new century, Acacia had stabilized at best as a run-down neighborhood. Predators were still in abundance, but low-income prey had also moved in. The story behind many of the buildings and the street names were known to no one—the fading facades taking those details with them. The once proud enclave was certain to blend in with the rest of Zootopia until the new century's first economic downturn forced young mammals to get creative with their lifestyle and employment prospects. Young mammals were flocking to Acacia to start their lives where the rent was cheap both for housing and for storefronts.
And so Acacia was being reborn—perhaps not with the dignity that its history had earned it, but a revival was a revival.
Through it all, though, was one institution that never seemed to go away. Forgotten and neglected now and then, but never gone. The Kitt Katt Klub, like so many of its Prohibition Era counterparts, started off as an illegal booze and gambling operation. At its height, the club was every bit the place to go as Wilde Times. Once liquor became legal again, the ownership opted for making the place a simple bar and dance club.
The building was a beautiful sleek Art Deco design. A slight off-white exterior with an aluminum awning curving off the front. Glass blocks were used in place of windows. Inside, the club featured deep reds and ornate golds and a massive bar capable of servicing every type of animal in the city. A sunken pit attached to a stage was obviously the main dance floor for the largest animals. Three other ever smaller dance floors terraced out into the main dance floor accommodating the other sized animals of Zootopia. In theory, an elephant would be able to share a dance with a mouse.
The club had changed many paws over the years including paws connected with the mafia. The club followed the ups and downs of the city but at a slower pace. There always seemed to be enough of a spark—enough of a memory—to draw animals in to enjoy a night out or forget about life for a time within its walls.
Client regimes followed ownership changes. Prey and predator swapping dominance over the establishment a dozen times in the now century old establishment. The current state of the club was nowhere near its original condition, but nostalgia covered most of its bumps and bruises and wrinkles. The clubs current clientele were actually one of its most stable in its history—nearly twenty years of patronage.
Officer Nick Wilde knew exactly who those clients were from the spray paint angrily scrawled across the front face of the building.
The case file neglected to mention the specifics. Rather, what he read aloud to Judy only mentioned vandalism and threatening graffiti. Also, were a list of incidences and arrests spanning the last five years. An odd inclusion, thought both the rabbit and fox officers. There was a noticeable uptick in minor drug offenses, drunk-and-disorderlies, thefts, and simple assaults in the last six months.
Nick arrived at the front of the cruiser at the same time as Judy. She was taking it in for the first time, fully alert and nose twitching. Nick had a decent idea of what had happened and had seen this before so, he opted for watching the rabbit's reaction instead.
"Stripe with stripe," she read the graffiti aloud with just a bit of confusion. "Spot with spot?"
The rabbit looked to the fox and met his eyes. There were times when her inner 'farm girl' showed that he found it completely adorable, but there were rare times when it wasn't. This was one of those times. Nick hated being the one to shatter any part of her innocence. Part of it was guilt from their late-afternoon conversation the first day they met, but most of it was because he took comfort in her optimistic outlook on everything.
"Whoever did this doesn't like mammals like us," he winced as he said it.
"Like us?" Judy asked still not following.
Nick broke a little on the inside as he watched her face shift from confusion to disbelief to something bordering grief. He remained anchored in place as she looked to the ground. Slowly, she balled her paws into fists and brought her look back to him. This time, her jaw was set and her eyes were bordering on fury. She abruptly turned towards the club and began to march towards the entrance. The fox fell in a couple paces behind.
The front doors to the club had been knocked off their hinges and laid to either side of the entrance. Both officers took note of the additional graffiti that lined entryway.
'Sickos', 'Freaks', 'Perverts', and 'Pred/Prey Chasers' were among the 'highlights'.
Nick continued to pay more attention to Judy than the damage. His outer mask was firmly in place but on the inside, every scowl he saw from his mate pounded him. His ire was reserved for the mammals that did this and he didn't really care that he was taking this personally.
"Looks like a stampede went through here," Judy observed as they made it to the main floor.
She wasn't far off. Most of the tables and chairs along the main corridor were smashed or tossed aside. The smell of alcohol was overwhelming. One look at the bar indicated why. What should have been shelf after shelf of bottled libations were nearly empty. A few broken bottles remained but the rest were on the floor behind the bar with their contents spilled.
"I think that's exactly what happened," the fox said flatly.
A few employees were setting about cleaning up the destruction. A couple others were taking pictures. They all had a certain air of disbelief. An older elk noticed the fox and the rabbit and made her was over to the pair.
"Officer Hopps..," Judy began introducing herself out of pure habit. She paused as her eyes darted to Nick. She was technically still Officer Hopps but didn't know what he'd think that she'd already forgotten the unofficial name change. She caught him smirking and decided to press forward. "...and this is Officer Wilde. We're here to investigate. We're very sorry this happened. This looks bad."
The elk extended her hoof and shook both their paws.
"Just glad they didn't burn the place down. I was hoping they'd send you two," she tried to smile through the statement but it was tired and lacked any relief. "I'm Candice Cervine. I'm the owner."
Judy had already fished out her notebook and new carrot pen—which brought a very brief smile to her face despite the situation.
"Are you the one who called us?" Nick asked.
"Yes," Candice replied. "Can I get you two officers anything? Water?"
"No, thank you," Judy answered for them. "What can you tell us about what happened?"
The elk sighed and waved her arm weakly at the mess.
"I came in early around seven this morning to do inventory and found the place trashed."
"So, there isn't an alarm installed?" the rabbit asked.
"There is, but when I got here, it was deactivated."
The two officers shared a glance at each other.
"Was it not set last night?" Nick asked.
"I talked to our head bartender, Marty, this morning. He was the last one out and he swears he set it."
"How many mammals have the code?"
"Besides myself and Marty? Three."
"We'll need to talk to each of them later," Judy said without looking up from her note taking. "Any former disgruntled employees who might have the code?"
"No one I'm aware of. We change the code if someone who knows it leaves and it's been a couple years since that happened. We have a very loyal staff."
Apparently not, the fox thought.
"Have there been any threats against the club, staff, or guests?" Judy asked shifting gears.
"None more than the usual if you're referring to us being an interspecies establishment."
"We'd still like a summary of those if you can get them to us. Just in case," the rabbit added. "Our case file included recent increases in drug related activity. Were there any issues..."
"We run a clean club. No tolerance for users. The thing is, our clients don't buy what the sellers offer. The drug dealers seemed to use our parking lot because we hardly ever see any police presence. We asked the ZPD to add a patrol or two but never got a real response. We had to hire additional private security but it only made a small dent."
Nick stifled a growl. Sending a patrol through a couple times a night would be more than enough to ward off most drug dealers. It was simple and cost effective. There would be no logical reason to fail to do it. Especially if officers would have to respond to later incidents involving the club because the dealers had been allowed to operate freely.
He noticed Judy's brow had furrowed at the owner's statement. Undoubtedly, she was troubled by this as well.
"What about security cameras?" Judy asked.
"Have them," Candice groaned. "But they got to the security office and smashed everything."
"We're in traffic cam dead zone to boot," Nick griped.
"So, they knew the alarm code, allegedly, and they knew where the security camera footage was," the rabbit said tapping her pen to her notebook.
"Inside job?" Nick asked rhetorically.
"No, I can't think of anyone on staff that would...," the elk answered anyway before trailing off.
"You said you didn't have anyone leave recently. Any new hires?" Nick asked.
"A couple and I mean literally," the general manager began. "A polar bear and an impala. Hired them about a month ago both as cocktails staff."
Nick's eyebrow shot up. Typically, interspecies couples remained fairly close in relative size and historical geography. Polar bears and impalas were neither of those things.
"How many employees do you have? We may have to talk with all of them," Judy continued.
"About twenty. I'll get you a list with all their information before you go, but...," the elk trailed off again.
"Something wrong?" the rabbit asked sensing a bit of hesitation from their witness.
"I don't know what good solving this whole thing will do. I've... I've got a very generous offer to sell. They seemed to know they were offering much more than the place is worth."
Judy and Nick instantly shared a look.
"About how long ago was that...?" Nick asked trying not to sound like he was too suspicious. He decided to tack on, "If you don't mind me asking."
"Not at all," the elk began a bit of the stressful situation starting to lift from her. As if, in this moment, she was starting to let go of the club in consideration of the offer and the officers interviewing her became the proverbial wall to bounce the idea off of. "About a month ago, a lawyer walked in, well, rolled in, on one of those two-wheeled Mouse Movers..."
"Let me guess," Nick interrupted. "He was a mouse."
Judy stopped herself from punching her partner. She rolled her eyes though.
"Yes, she was," Candice added with a hint of feminist freedom in her voice. "Didn't take more than thirty seconds. Just told me her client was interested in purchasing and if I ever was interested in selling, call her back. She handed me a folder with the offer sheet and didn't wait for me to ask any questions."
There was silence between the trio as Judy hammered away at her notepad.
"You don't think that it's relevant, do you?" the elk asked.
"Everything is relevant at this stage," the fox stated matter-of-factly.
"But if I decide to sell, you won't have to keep investigating, though, right?"
Nick opened his mouth but Judy beat him to the punch.
"Actually, this qualifies as a hate crime and one of our detectives is working a few similar cases, so we'll be conducting a thorough investigation regardless if your case is connected to others or not. After Bellweather, there is a point of emphasis from City Hall."
Nick eyed his partner and immediately saw the warning signs. Unless you knew her, she looked and sounded professional. But he knew her. And the crime scene and the targets were getting to her. He knew the instant the warmth left her voice.
"Well, I suppose you two would know best on that front," the elk smiled for real for the first time in the conversation.
"Thank you for your time, Ms. Cervine," Judy stated offering her paw to shake. The combination paw and hoof shakes commenced between the three animals. "We'll document the damage and we'd like to talk to the staff that is here already. If you could provide us with the list of others, we'd appreciate it."
"Thank you, officers. I will."
Candice excused herself and the rabbit and fox set about cataloging the extensive damage. Each spray-painted slur and each swath of destruction were photographed for the report. Talking with the three mammal employees who had turned up yielded no further clues.
The club owner returned with the list of other employees and a copy of the offer sheet if she was inclined to sell. Nick noticed the offer was from MultiCorp Real Estate Holding, LLC. He smirked to himself as he'd had dealings with them before. Specifically, they were the previous owners of his warehouse apartment. He decided to tell Judy of the coincidence later and added the papers to the case file.
It was approaching lunchtime when the rabbit and the fox hopped into their cruiser.
Normally, banter would commence after most crime scenes unless they responded to something tragic or violent. Nick sensed his mate had taken a mood similar to those types of calls and opted for a bit of silence as Judy pulled the cruiser away from the club. Instead, he fished out the small lunch cooler she had prepared for them and went about dispensing their lunch. They had an errand to run in lieu of their lunch break and, ever the preparer, the rabbit had packed them quick lunch.
They ate quietly and if anyone they knew had been there, they would have been gravely concerned. Nick and Judy were never ever quiet around each other. Of course, they were, but mainly in more private moments such as this.
They were half-way back to the station when they finished lunch and Nick was tired of not talking.
"Want to talk about it?" he offered.
He watched her set her jaw and grip the steering wheel tighter.
"I want to hit all the mammals who did that in the face."
Yes. She definitely needs to talk about it.
"So, I think I'll handle the arrests if it gets that far," Nick deadpanned.
"Why is there still so much... hate?!" the rabbit asked knowing there was no answer that could be satisfactory.
He reached a paw out to her shoulder and as soon as he touched her, she spoke.
"And don't tell me 'never let them see...'," she blurted.
For his part, Nick didn't remove his paw but shifted to give her an honestly open look.
"You have every right to be upset," he began cautiously. "I wish I could tell you how to feel about it, but I can't."
"I'm angry. Why aren't you angry?" Judy snapped a little harder than she wanted.
To his credit, the fox knew she wasn't upset with him. He just shrugged it off.
"I'm upset that you're upset, but I've been on the receiving end for most of my life so it doesn't get to me."
"So, you don't care that there are mammals who hate the fact that you're in love with a bunny?"
"Did you care that there were mammals that thought a bunny couldn't be a cop?"
The bunny in question paused before drawing a breath to speak but she didn't get the chance.
"And if you think it's different, it's not. Animals fear the unknown. Sometimes they reject the idea like what would happen if a bunny did become a cop. And sometimes they lash out at what would happen if a zebra loved a lion. At the end of the day, they're all covering their own tails trying to shield themselves from the implications for their own lives. If a bunny is brave enough to make it through basic training and be a cop, then they might have to look at themselves and answer why they haven't dared to try for their dreams.
"Or if a zebra can love a lion, then maybe they could love a mammal that wasn't their species. Point is, mammals don't like things that make them confront their own shortcomings, especially if that means breaking from the herd or the pack..."
"Or the burrow..."
"Or the burrow," he repeated. "Look, at the end of the day, it sucks. You know I know that. And the old me would have just ignored it as always. But then I met that bunny cop that was all over the news. She's a total cutey, by the way, and now look at me: traversing the unknowns of being the first fox cop and trying to make the world a better place."
His partner was shooting him a sideways look of irritation at the 'cutey' line, but as usual, she couldn't condemn him because he was being so damn sincere.
"So, in a round about why, I guess I'm still saying 'never let them see that they get to you' but in a completely different way. We're still going to meet mammals who don't like that you're a rabbit cop or that I'm a fox for the sake of being fox or that we're together as mates. But getting angry with them won't prove them wrong. You can't beat them—and I mean literally like you were suggesting. You only win by not letting them bring you down."
Judy began parking the cruiser as they had arrived back at the station. She killed the engine and turned to her softly smiling partner. She had to soften her face because he had a point.
"I understand what you're saying. I just wish we didn't have to deal with it."
"Dealing with it is sort of our job, in case you've forgotten," the fox added with a smirk.
The rabbit's shoulder's lost the tension she was holding as the fox next to her reminded her of that fact that had temporarily eluded her. She returned his smirk with smile that did far more to say 'thanks' than actually saying thanks.
"Then, let's get the case file updated and dropped off to Capshaw and hit the courthouse on break," she finally said.
Every time Judy entered detective squad offices she got a tingling sensation. She loved being a patrol officer. She loved walking or driving her beat. And that's what she really always wanted. Until she and Nick cracked the Nighthowler case and the thrill of solving the puzzle made her realize that she really wanted to be a detective.
Before Nick made it out of the Academy, she had made an effort to get to know the detectives on a first name basis. She kept tabs on retirement or promotion rumors. And she made it known she was always willing to help out with a case—with the Chief's approval, of course. The squad threw her the occasional bone when they needed something where her smaller size was an asset.
Otherwise, her interactions with the detective squad were limited to securing a crime scene before one of the detective pairs arrived to investigate or doing a preliminary workup like they had just completed.
Detective Louis Capshaw was a brown bear and even though it wasn't even approaching winter, one would have been mistaken if they thought he was in a state of pre-hybernation. His eyes were glazed over as he watched a EweTube video of football highlights while he spooned pistachio-flavored pudding into his mouth. Of all the detectives on the squad, Capshaw was Judy's least favorite. Not because he was mean or rude, but because he was, for lack of a better word, apathetic.
So, it was no surprise when the bear simply held out his paw to take the case file from Judy after she greeted him. He didn't even look away from the video as he flopped their morning's work on top of another pile of case files. The rabbit was miffed but undeterred. She rattled off the details they had gotten but the detective just grunted when it seemed appropriate.
This wasn't going to fly with the rabbit cop. Her ire was leaking into her voice as she tried to get the bear to show an once of care. This was an important case and not just because it bordered on being personal.
Realizing that they weren't going to get anywhere other than Judy angry for the third time in half a day, Nick cut the one-sided exchange short and hurried the rabbit out the door. To her credit, she knew there was little she could do. She just wished they had the case to themselves. Maybe she could... If she phrased things very delicately, approach Bogo, but it wasn't going to be today.
Right then, they had a lunch date at the courthouse to attend to and suddenly, the rabbit officer's stomach was filled with butterflies.
She was crossing the plaza outside the precinct with her partner and best friend, Nicholas Wilde, for the express purpose of legally acknowledging their status as mates.
When the realization hit her, she stopped in her tracks. The step they were about to take was a formality. Scent marking and mating was a little old-fashioned for many of the modern day mammals of Zootopia. The old ways were being replaced by the idea of dating—lots of dating and really getting to know a mammal before getting married complete with ceremony. But for many other mammals, such as her species, a date or two was all that was needed before life-mates. Most species had their own courting rituals that went back eons. If it wasn't broke, why fix it?
But of course, things weren't that simple. For all practical purposes, Judy and Nick were already legally married. Scent marking and mating was the traditional way to go about what modern animals would consider 'getting married'. The method went all the way back to primitive tribal times. The act was enshrined as law almost as soon as laws became a thing. In the absence of a parental arrangement, mammals who did so would report to their parents or elders or chief and the union would become permanent. But beyond official sanction, most mammals had good enough senses of smell to recognize when a couple had become mates and that would often suffice.
It was never advisable to mark (or depending on the species, extend/accept a courtship offer or win a mating battle), mate, and then deny your new mate or change one's mind. Shame would come to the scorned mate's honor and the mammal that went back on their word could face penalty, humiliation, or banishment. There were even several species who called for the mammal to have to face a family member of the wounded party in combat to assuage their honor. These sentiments carried far into modern times and explained the health education videos Judy was treated to in grade school.
Though, as mammals had lessened their sexual hang-ups allowing for sex before marriage or even allowing casual encounters, the stigmas of more open relationships where fading so long as there wasn't scent marking involved. This process was accelerating as the idea of dating over months and years before marriage was replacing marking and mating.
In a way, the rabbit realized that they had somehow split the difference. The whole idea behind dating was to get to know a mammal better before you committed your life to them. She and Nick had done just that, unintentionally. They had gotten to know each other over the course of a year well beyond any pair of rabbits she'd ever met. They simply hadn't been overtly romantic when they spent time together.
So, when the catalysts of last week interacted with their relationship forcing them to confront their feelings for each other, it was as if the decision had already been made. There was no need for an extended dating and courtship followed by an engagement and ceremony.
For the rabbit and the fox, putting their relationship on file with the city court just made life easier. It would certainly help when it came to combining their finances or, given their line of work, having access to the other should they end up in the hospital.
But for some reason, Judy was overwhelmed at the moment. Formality or not, she was suddenly struck with just how much had changed in the last seventy-two hours. Sure, it was almost completely for the better. But she realized that since their first heart-to-heart on the roof of their apartment, she hadn't had a moment to herself to catch her breath.
One afternoon they were best friends and partners. The next afternoon they were mates. The circumstances were so unexpected that she had to wonder if they'd really happened.
She wondered if Nick was struggling with this at all and she vowed to talk to him about it.
She wasn't having second thoughts in the least, though she was briefly concerned that these sudden realizations were the onset of the cold feet. No, she was in this one-hundred percent. The rabbit just needed a minute to catch up to the entire bizarre thing.
Judy stared at her partner as he continued on ahead not realizing she had stopped. The plaza was starting to bustle as mammals of all walks of life were starting their lunch breaks and if she wasn't careful, she'd loose sight of him. He managed to put some distance between them before he noticed.
He spun to find her looking around with confusion before calling out, "Carrots?"
Judy didn't know why, but it made her laugh. Which is why, when he spotted her laughing at him, his head cocked to the side with one ear up and one ear down in a classic canine look of confusion. This only made the rabbit laugh harder, her mate to become concerned, and a few passing mammals to try to figure out what the heck this laughing bunny was doing in their way.
The rabbit officer started walking towards her partner again as her laughter subsided. In that moment, it dawned on her just how funny the whole situation had been; that story that led to them becoming mates was pretty damn hysterical when she thought about it. Not that it made it any more amazing and wonderful or changed the fact that she had found the mammal she was going to spend the rest of her life with. But it did help put her at ease.
"Mind clueing me in on what's so funny?" Nick asked as she caught back up to him.
"I'll tell you later, Slick," she said still smiling. Judy hooked her arm into one of his and dragged him forward towards the courthouse.
"Uh, Carrots? No PDA's, remember?" he reminded her but without breaking contact.
For her part, Judy put a little more resolve on her face and looked up at him.
"Rules were made to be broken," she said confidently. "Let's get hitched."
The fox struggled to find a witty retort, but realized he'd be undermining his very long history when it came to respect for the rules. Instead, he returned his mates smiled and walked with her step-for-step.