An alarm clock buzzes in a darkened room in the Grand Pangolin Arms boarding house. And buzzes. And buzzes.
"Rabbit!" yells Bucky through the wall. "Wake up!"
The room is still. The alarm drones on.
"Fox!" yells the kudu. "Fox, wake up the rabbit!"
Something stirs under the covers.
A vulpine paw reaches out and hits the snooze button. Nick rubs his snout against the ears of the greatest bunny in the world. "Bucky says to get up."
Judy stretches under the covers and pries her eyes open. "We shouldn't have stayed up so late."
"We had to make peace." Nick kisses her neck. "What time is it, Carrots?"
"Too early!" yells Pronk.
Judy crawls out of bed and slips on a sweatshirt and sweatpants. "My turn to get coffee."
"Is it really?" Nick flips over and hugs the pillow. "I swear you got it yesterday."
"Hey, I'm not complaining!"
She grabs her keys and wallet and leaves the room. Nick sits up and rubs his face. Ever since their coffee maker broke, they've taken turns running across the street to Snarlbucks. It's a bit expensive, but when your married life plays out at the Grand Pangolin Arms, you've got to grant yourself a few luxuries.
Judy taps on the door with her foot. Nick yawns and lets her in. "Thanks, room service. There's a penny on the table."
"How generous of you."
She sets the two coffee cups on the desk as Nick massages her shoulders.
"Say, which one's mine?"
"The one with 'Nick' written on it."
"That's a shocker." He picks it up… the paper sleeve isn't warm. Hmmm. Nick pops the lid and holds his paw over the coffee. Yep. It's tepid.
"Are you serious?"
"This is a cold calfucino! Why didn't you send it back?"
"I didn't notice!" She gives him that look of phony innocence Nick's come to recognize.
"Okay. I appreciate a well-conceived, well-executed prank, but this is just lame. The cup tipped me off before the drink ever came close to my mouth."
"I don't know what you're talking about!" She takes the cup from his hand and sips. "Delicious and warm!"
Nick rolls his eyes. "Now you're trying too hard. A good prank has to…" His ears perk up. "Oh! I am so on to you, dumb bunny! Despite our extensive making up session, you're still angry and you thought you'd get back at me for yesterday. Well, Carrots, it's not going to work. I can't be gotten! Especially by lukewarm coffee."
Judy furrows her brow and huffs. "You bet I'm still mad! Logging into my laptop and messing around with my presentation slides was not funny! It was invasive and humiliating and honestly, it was quite mean!"
"If it wasn't funny, why were the students laughing so hard that the principal had to end the assembly early?"
She shakes her head. "Why did we ever hustle each other into getting married?"
"Apparently to provide you with a sense of humor."
Judy pulls off her sweatshirt and changes into her uniform top. "I'm not speaking to you, Nick."
"Alright. Your attempt to prank me was a good effort. I'll give you that. But you're up against a master confox. As adorable as I find your cute little jokes and schemes, you'll never be able to top a hustler who's had on the job experience for decades."
"I said I'm not speaking to you!"
"You just did!" He points. "Got you."
Judy crosses her limbs and sits on the bed, facing away from him.
"I'm not speaking to you either." He grabs a towel and throws on his robe. "Because I'll be down the hall in the shower."
When he returns, Judy is fully dressed, sipping her coffee with a grin.
Uh oh. That isn't a good grin.
"Carrots?" Nick pulls on his pants. "What are you thinking about?"
She rubs her chin on his chest. "I'm thinking about how I married the slickest, slyest fox in the world."
"No you're not. You're up to something. And I'm pretty sure I'm your mark."
She blinks. "I haven't the faintest clue what you're talking about."
Chief Bogo stands at the podium in the bullpen. "Assignments are the same as yesterday. One additional item: Dr. Ebbingmaus from the University of Zootopia Hospital will be conducting your annual psych evals today and tomorrow."
"Oh, I know him!" Judy whispers to Nick.
"Was he the one who sent you to the funny farm?"
"Ha. He did a talk at the Academy about managing stress in a police career. Really smart guy. I had a chance to chat with him afterwards... "
"Shut it!" Bogo yells.
"Yessir!" Judy yells back with a salute.
"I've posted your meeting times with Dr. Ebbingmaus on the board. Questions? Comments?" He looks at Nick. "You always have something to add, Wilde."
"No concerns, Chief. I'll let any shrink pick my brain. What do I have to worry about?"
Judy cups her paw inside of his. There's only two times she does that— when she's showing him her complete trust, or when she's sarcastically telling him that he's a jerk.
She's up to something for sure. But even though Judy is an accomplished hustler in her own right, she isn't nearly as practiced or skilled as her fox. Whatever she's got coming for him, he'll be able to see right through it.
After an uneventful morning shift of highway patrol, Judy and Nick return to Headquarters for lunch in the cafeteria. The food is miserable at best, but the cafeteria is the ideal place to catch up on the precinct gossip.
"Which do you recommend?" Nick asks the leopard server. "The flavorless boiled cabbage, the flavorless boiled potatoes, or the flavorless boiled lasagna?"
"Stop joking around and choose something!" Judy pokes him with her tray.
"The more I joke, the more appetite I'll build up and the more tolerable this crap will be."
The leopard slops a pile of cabbage on his plate. "Here. Take it."
"Ah, yes. 'Take it'. What all great chefs say when they serve their finest creations."
Nick scans the room for a table. Judy catches up from behind with a plate of boiled carrots. "I can't wait to hear you gloat over it with the other cops."
"Gloat over what?"
"Your so-called prank!"
"I never gloat, Carrots! I revel in my own foxy gloriousness."
"What's the difference?"
"Hey Nick!" Wolford waves his paw, seated by himself. "Over here! We got plenty of chairs!"
Nick and Judy face each other at the table, although Judy stares at her plate as if she were by herself. Wolford slaps Nick on the back. "So I heard about what went down at that school. It must have been freaking hilarious!"
Nick waves the idea away with his paw. "Aww, it was nothing. I've done better."
"Can I sit here?" Francine points to a chair with her hoof.
"Sure you can, if the chair holds up," says Nick. Wolford laughs, and Judy kicks Nick under the table.
"That was so rude!"
"Really? Carter found it funny!"
"Oh! Judy!" Francine lifts her trunk. "I heard all about yesterday! I wish somebody had brought their camera!"
"Actually…" Nick pulls out his phone.
"NO!" Judy tries to snatch it out of his paws, but Nick tosses it to Francine, who catches it with her trunk.
"It's the latest video on there."
Judy grabs her head. "Nick! Don't! Why would you do this!"
Francine calls up the video and lowers the phone so Wolford can watch. Nick gets up from his seat and squeezes between them.
"You have to skip ahead a bit. It starts right around the two minute mark..."
They watch Judy pace in front of a classroom of fourth-graders, describing the different ways police officers help the community.
"Here's the first time it happens. It jumps to the 'Time for Questions' slide. Watch her face."
In the video, Judy presses the presentation clicker. The screen behind her advances to the wrong slide and she continues talking with a smile, unaware. Then she turns around and startles.
"Look at that little bunny hop!" says Wolford.
"She's adorkable!" says Francine.
Judy plops her face on the table.
"How's it going, gang!" Clawhauser forces his way into the group. "Ooh, somebody told me about that! Was it your idea, Nick?"
"HA! I love it!"
McHorn presses himself next to Francine. "Dang! I thought nobody would dare prank Hopps!"
"Apparently, somebody dared." Nick sends a smug grin Judy's way. She clenches her paws.
"Wow. You ought to get a promotion or something."
"Seriously," says Wolford.
"Amen," says Francine.
"Let's hear it for Nick!" shouts Clawhauser. "You are one fearless fox!"
"What is this!" bellows Bogo. The officers scramble to sit down. "Standing around gossiping over a video! I ought to send you all reprimands!"
He takes a seat at the head of the table. The other officers stare at their trays with solemn faces. Judy sits up straight. "Thank you, Chief."
"But I won't. Because Wilde already showed me the video and it made my day." He barely manages to suppress a smile.
The officers exhale in relief. Clawhauser giggles and high fives Nick.
"That does it!" Judy pushes herself up onto the table and assumes a fighting stance. The officers lean back in surprise.
"Hopps! Get down!" says Bogo. "You're standing in Woolford's pecan pie!"
"Fox, honey?" She shoots Nick a mischievous look. "What time is it?"
Francine slides him his phone. He checks it and stares up at her with apprehension. "12:14."
Judy looks the officers in the eye one by one, finishing with Nick. "In twenty-four hours, I will have successfully pranked each and every cop at this table. No exceptions."
A moment of silence. And then the table bursts into laughter.
"How are you gonna prank a rhino?"
"Or an elephant?"
"I sit and face the public all day!" says Clawhauser. "How are you supposed to prank me?"
"You wouldn't prank your own boss now, Hopps?" Bogo wipes his face with a napkin. "That wouldn't look too good on your record."
Judy chuckles to herself. "I know you don't believe me. But I will. If I can write two hundred parking tickets before noon, surely I can prank six cops in twenty-four hours. That averages out to be one prank every four hours! Easy peezy."
No one laughs.
She jumps off the table and takes her seat. "Bunnies are also good at dividing." She smiles at Nick.
"Well put. Very dramatic. But you forgot something." He leans his head on his paw. "You can't get me. It's impossible. I grew up on the streets. I know every hustle in the industry, and I'm pretty darn good at watching my back."
"Oh, you will be gotten." She takes a bite of boiled carrots. "Just like everyone else here."
"Right. You simply cannot get me, bunny. If that happened, the universe would implode and we'd all die in a contraction of the space-time continuum."
"He's actually right," says Francine. "Nick's got great vision, great smell, and pretty good hearing. You can't sneak anything past him."
"Thanks! So we're in agreement here."
"Yeah." Wolford scratches his neck. "Like, what happens if you don't prank everyone? Six of us in one day? That's a pretty bold claim you're making, Judy."
"There has to be some sort of penalty," says McHorn.
"We could make her do the tiger dance from the 'Try Anything' video!" says Clawhauser.
"And wear glitter." Nick sits back and folds his limbs.
The table groans. "That's going too far, bro!" says Woolford. "Glitter never gets out of your fur."
"It doesn't matter." Judy grins. "All six of you will be gotten, so I'll never have a chance to do the tiger dance to begin with."
"So much certitude from such a cute little bunny." Nick puts his paws on the table and gets in Judy's face. "Carrots, you're going to fail. Hard."
"You sound pretty certain yourself, Slick." She presses the tip of his nose. "What if you have do the tiger dance after I get you?"
"That'll never, ever happen."
Judy offers him her paw. "Then those are the terms!"
"Okay." He shakes. "But the only officer with glitter on at 12:14 tomorrow will be Officer Judy Hopps!"
"I doubt it." She hops out of her chair. "By the way, the twenty-four hours just started. You've been warned." She picks up her tray, returns it to the kitchen, and struts out of the cafeteria.
The table watches her disappear down the hall. "I wonder where she's going," says Clawhauser.
"Wherever it is," says McHorn, "it isn't good."