Engulfed by the warm wind gushing from the wall vents, Nick shed his jacket and stuffed it into his bag. As they left Tundratown Gate behind them, he resisted the temptation to hold Judy's paw. He wiped beads of sweat from his paw pads.
"Yeesh, the Mystic Spring naturists have the right idea," he muttered.
The breeze swept through the train station and ruffled sun-bleached posters like feathers. Nick squinted to read one and scoffed.
"'Meet the heat in Sahara Square,' huh? Why, hello again, heat," he muttered. "As I recall, I only like you if I'm drunk, naked and can't see you."
Judy let out a loud snort and then covered her muzzle with both paws.
Nick smirked. "Judy, did you just oink at me? Ow! Not the tail, let go! I give!" They dissolved into laughter, weaving their way through the morning rush.
The paved stone was already warm under Nick's feet. "Hey Carrots, since we're here, why don't we get us some Högen-Dazs and hit the beach?"
Judy's chuckles ebbed. "I have to go to work, slacker."
"Pfft, what's one more sick day?" Nick said. "Weren't you injured in the line of duty and all?"
Judy shook her head. "I've used up more leave than I would have liked as it is. That red tape won't fix itself," she said.
"Sounds thrilling," Nick yawned. "So, what time do you start?"
"Eleven-thirty, but I'd like to go home and wash off this makeup first," Judy replied, her nose twitching in the new climate. "We can take the Zootopia loop if we can make it to the train station in-" she looked at her wristband, "-five minutes?"
Nick grinned, picking up the pace. "You know the train schedule? Bet you planned this all out to the last second, didn't you? You adorable little nerd, you!"
"Jerk," Judy pouted for a second before a goofy grin crept over her features.
"Thanks again for the ride this morning," Nick pointed a thumb behind them. Puffs of snow plumed from over the towering wall.
Judy beamed. "You're welcome!"
Nick couldn't help but return the smile. He looked ahead, putting a paw up to shield his eyes from the intense sunlight. "Looks like this is our train," he pointed to the mammals cramming themselves through the doors. "C'mon!"
His lungs protested the effort as they ran. He made it to the doors as the warning bell sounded but lost sight of Judy. "Carrots?" he wheezed. "Woah!" A strong tug on his tie pulled him into the passenger car. He ducked to avoid a giant hoof from crushing him.
'Doors closing…' the automated voice droned.
Nick scrunched his eyes shut and tried to catch his breath, his pulse pounding through his ears. The scents of hundreds of mammals jam-packed into such a small space flooded his nostrils. 'At least it's morning and the mammals smell clean,' he mused.
"Sorry I yanked your tie again," Judy said. He opened his eyes to see that she was at eye level with him, nose-to-nose.
He shifted against the crush of animals pinning him and Judy together.
"Hey there," he chuckled. "Now you're the perfect height!"
"But my feet aren't touching the floor!" Judy said, wriggling against him. They were so close he could feel the buttons of her shirt making imprints in his fur.
Nick had to make a conscious effort not to pant.
'Not just the Sahara weather to blame, here,' he thought. He grimaced as he tried to maintain his balance on the moving train.
Judy's eyes darted away from his, her ears turning a deeper shade of pink.
He felt his own face grow hotter and averted his eyes as well.
A nearby horse stumbled.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Judy whispered after her cheek brushed against his.
"No problem," Nick said, trying to ignore how good her breath felt in his ear.
…and the electricity tingling in his face where they touched.
…and her scent wrapping his mind in a clouded stupor.
He remembered the lacy underwear she was wearing.
He swallowed the lump in his throat when his addled brain provided him with a visual replay of that morning.
'This is bad!' He shut his eyes again and willed himself to calm down.
An image of Finnick dancing in a bikini elicited the appropriate response.
'That'll work', Nick thought with a shudder.
"Geez, good thing we didn't just start dating recently. This would be super awkward otherwise," he quipped, scratching his arm.
Judy gave a nervous laugh. "Heh, yeah… Um, Nick? Your elbow, it's-"
"Oh, my bad, here, I'll uh-" his temperature soared when he saw his elbow digging into her chest. His arm threatened to cramp as he fumbled to unfurl it.
Their noses touched again.
Nick knew that look in her eyes as her ears fell and she licked her lips.
He cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" he asked.
"No, I'm okay," she said, turning her face to the side.
'Next stop: Delta Road' the automated voice announced.
"We should be able to get a seat soon," Judy breathed.
Nick grimaced when she squirmed. "Here's hoping," he replied, his voice hoarse.
Any longer and he would give in to the urge to rest his muzzle against her neck and revel in her scent.
In public, no less.
He gripped his bag tighter.
'Arriving at Delta Road. Next stop…' They both sighed with relief as mammals moved off the train and Judy landed on her feet.
Nick straightened his tie and offered Judy the one spare seat. "All yours," he smiled, stretching out the cramp in his arm.
Judy shook her head. "Oh no, you've been sick, you should take it."
"What about your leg? Let me be a gentle-mammal," he said, gesturing with an impatient paw.
"My leg's fine. Why can't I be a gentle-mammal?" she arched an eyebrow.
"Fine, before someone else takes it," he said and sat down, defeated.
Judy stood in front of him and held the grab handle.
He took a surreptitious glance at her.
Her fur still shone, but some of her remaining makeup from last night had smudged around her eyes.
"Did you get enough sleep last night?" Nick asked.
Judy's ears fell but she smiled with it, looking touched. "Well enough, thanks!"
Nick frowned but a new influx of passengers swarmed in before he could comment. Judy almost overbalanced into his lap.
He glared at a zebra who had shoved an armadillo with a walking stick out of their way. "Hey, you'll get to your cubicle farms soon enough," Nick said with a raised voice.
He stood. "Here, take my seat," Nick said to the armadillo. "You'd be doing us a favor, it saves us from arguing over chivalry," he winked at Judy.
The armadillo nodded and sat down with a grateful sigh.
Nick took one of the grab handles, the other paw holding the bag with his clothes from last night.
"You okay?" he asked as Judy shifted back as much as the crowd would allow.
When their eyes met, it was as though the other mammals had evaporated.
She gave him a gentle smile. "You will make a pretty good cop. It's like your dad wrote in that letter. You're going to make the world a better place," she said.
Nick felt his chest tighten.
'How can she still have so much faith in me?'
All at once, the mammals re-emerged in his vision.
Somehow, the train felt even more crowded than before.
His stomach clenched.
"Nick? Are you okay?" Judy asked.
He simply nodded, too wrapped up in himself to joke it off.
"Oh, this is our stop," Judy said, ears perked up.
"Thank god!" Nick sighed.
He nearly kicked a hamster clean out of his way in his haste to leave the train.
By the time Judy had caught up with him, he had steadied his breathing.
They walked home together, their silence as uncomfortable as the train ride.
The rusted gate to the cottage made a welcome sight.
Judy unlocked the front door and they both stepped through.
"Are you okay?" Judy asked again.
Nick's tail twitched. "Yeah, I'm fine, Carrots," he said.
He could hear the bathroom tap dripping from where he stood.
"I wish you wouldn't lie to me, Nick. I'm… I'm going to go take a shower," she said. "I won't be long." Her footfalls grew softer as she walked up the hall to the bathroom.
Nick winced. 'She sees right through me,' he thought.
The thought caused as much relief as it did fear.
Judy turned the water onto cool.
She shivered, the frigid water falling like icy needles onto her fur. She hugged her arms around herself.
'I need to regain some self-control,' she thought as she reached for the shampoo.
"Judy, you got a second?" Nick's voice echoed from the other side of the door.
"N-now?" Judy's teeth chattered.
"You want me to be honest?" he asked.
Judy's brow knotted in concern and she turned the faucet off. "Always. What is it, Nick?" she took her towel and wrapped it around herself.
"This is really difficult, asking this," he began.
"Asking… what?" she asked, walking to the door and putting her paw on the handle.
"Don't open the door," he called out. "I… I don't think I can say this to your face just yet. I don't know why," he said, his words running into one another.
Judy dropped her paw, nonplussed.
"Judy, I… um, I wanna shower with you! That's me being honest," he finished.
She could almost feel him cringing through the door. She turned the door handle and opened it a crack.
"So… erm, thoughts on that?" he blundered.
She smiled. "I'd like that very much, Nick."
He let out a long-held breath. "Can I uh, come in?"
"Yeah, come on in," Judy said, smiling.
Nick walked in with one paw over his eyes. "You're the boss," he said. "If you don't want me to look, then I can turn the other way. Well, I guess it's too late for that because of the drugs you were on for your leg. I mean uh!"
"Oh, that's right," Judy blushed, thinking back to the infamous carrot cake Finnick made back at the hospital. "You've already seen me, uh…"
"Yeah. I mean, not like I was ogling!"
"Unlike this morning?" she teased.
"This morning, and right now, you're… my girlfriend, so… yeah, I ogled. So sue me," he said.
Judy chuckled. "You can look. I'm still in a towel, if that helps."
Nick peeked between his fingers.
"You asked me, 'how far is too far' with physical stuff," he said, his voice not much more than a whisper. "I'm tense because I… want to start finding out."
Judy's heart raced when she saw his dilated pupils. She shivered.
Nick offered a knowing smile. "Cold shower, huh? I'm very familiar with those," he said, walking towards her and unbuttoning his shirt. "I think a warm shower would be better…?"
She nodded and dropped her towel. She turned the water back on, stepping into the warmth. "I've… never seen you naked," she said.
Nick let his slacks fall to the floor. "I'm not an exhibitionist," he joked, stepping into the shower still wearing his boxers.
"I only have an hour before I need to leave for work," she said, her voice soft. She reached out and stroked the fur on his stomach.
Nick shivered. "Then I'm uh, gonna go point in the corner," he mumbled, facing away from her.
Judy blinked for a few seconds before the penny dropped. "We don't have to rush anything," she said. "What are you comfortable with?"
"'Comfort' is a foreign concept right now," Nick said, examining the label on the shampoo bottle.
He looked over his shoulder at her, water clinging to his fur. "I… just want to be here, with you," he said, a tentative smile playing about his mouth.
Judy moved towards him and wrapped her arms around his middle, leaning her head against his back.
"I'm here," she whispered, her voice mixing into the sound of the water hitting their bodies.
He leaned back against her. 'So warm,' she thought.
She could feel the tension in his muscles melting away the longer she held him.
"Judy," Nick murmured. He closed his eyes. "Thank you."
Some hours later at the ZPD precinct, Judy stared bleary-eyed at the words on the screen. Lines of dry text blurred into abstract art. The sound of the computer humming felt like tinnitus.
Judy contemplated going downstairs for another coffee. She thought better of it when she noticed her restless paw tapping on the mouse pad.
Her mind kept drifting back to the shower earlier…
"Hopps. How's clerical duty?"
She jumped a little to see Bogo leaning against her desk partition. "Fine, sir. Only ten more pages. What can I do for you?" she asked.
Bogo crossed his arms. "With Remus Wolfgang as mayor, he's decided to do a complete overhaul of the ZPD." His nostrils flared. "One of his doctors is doing examinations in room 2C. Your turn at fifteen-hundred. Look alive," he said and stood.
"Yes sir," Judy replied, rubbing her eyes.
Three o'clock finally came and went. The doctor drew some of Judy's blood for testing and examined the scar on her leg. Noting the bags under her eyes, he lectured her about getting enough sleep. He signed her off, pending the blood test results, satisfied enough.
Judy had almost finished typing the last page when Bogo knocked on her desk partition once more. "Got the doctor's preliminary report. Glad to see you're getting better. Blood test results should be in by tomorrow afternoon. If all's well, I'll consider shortening your clerical duty. Make sure to sleep, got it? You can go."
"Thank you, chief," Judy said, sliding down from her chair.
She met Clawhauser dragging his feet in the corridor. "How did your doctor's exam go?" Judy asked.
The cheetah sighed. "He ordered me to work on my fitness," he said, fishing around in his shirt pocket until he pulled out a squashed donut. "And my diet, but it's so hard!"
Judy did her best to keep her composure. "Don't worry," she said, letting her face relax into a smile. "Nick and I need to get fit, we can all work out together, huh?"
Clawhauser returned her smile as he chewed. "Comrades in misery, eh? Let's do that sometime, then. I'll bring the snacks!" He walked back downstairs.
Judy bit her tongue and took out her phone.
Warmth tingled through her as she dialed Nick's cell.
"Hi, you," Nick answered.
Her ears felt aflame at the shy tone of his voice.
"U-um food! Yes, food um. What do you want?" she cringed as the words tumbled out of her mouth.
"…Can I have you for dessert?"
"Nick, don't! I'm still at work!" Judy hissed as she made her way down the stairs to the foyer.
"Well then, who's a dumb bunny for calling me?"
Judy stifled a smile despite herself. "Dinner. I can pick us up something?" She waved goodbye to Clawhauser at the desk as she walked through the revolving doors.
Nick sighed. "I promised my body under duress that I would feed it vegetables. I'd better hold up my end so it doesn't go on strike again," he joked.
Judy giggled. "Got it. I'll get us something healthy," she said. "I'll be home soon."
"Can't wait," Nick replied.
"Same here," she said, her tail wiggling.
Judy didn't even care when two kids pointed at her as she skipped a little through the park.
Holly fiddled with a curl of her wool and shared a nervous glance with Urbeth. As one, their gaze drifted from the other girls at the dining table to the fennec fox in the kitchen.
Finnick stood on a stool at the counter, ears tense against his skull, as he cooked dinner. He hopped down to grab bowls from the cupboard. Balancing a stack in each paw, he scrambled back up on the stool.
Holly wondered how they had any plates left after such acrobatics. She blinked when Finnick appeared beside her.
"Grubs up," he grunted. He plonked a steaming bowl in front of Holly. "And for, well…" he put another bowl next to hers and gestured to the ceiling towards Vivienne's room.
"She's still not talking to you?" Holly asked. "It's already been more than a day."
"She's the one who don't wanna talk," Finnick replied and turned back to the kitchen for more bowls for the other girls.
Holly sighed and started on her salad. She frowned and held up a forkful to examine. "Finn, is this…?"
Finnick looked back over his shoulder and a canine tooth appeared in a crooked smile. "Quinoa? Yup."
Urbeth snorted. "I thought Ms Vivienne hated- oh."
Finnick touched a finger to his nose let out a chortle. "She wants to complain, she'll have to come down and talk, amirite?"
Holly rolled her eyes. "You guys do know that you're adults, right?"
"Does anyone in this house act their age though, for real?" quipped a squirrel as she took her bowl from Finnick.
Urbeth snorted. "I do," she said, standing taller. Being a polar bear, this wasn't wise and she bumped her head on the ceiling.
"Pfft, when you're not full of vodka," a ferret chuckled.
Holly pushed her seat away from the table and stood, taking Vivienne's dinner bowl. "This won't end well," she said under her breath as she ascended the stairs to Vivienne's room.
She knocked on the door a few times, but there was no response.
Holly left the bowl by the door and went down to finish her meal with the others.
They ate in silence until-
"What in Robin Hood's foxhole is this?!"
The girls smothered their giggles at the sound of angry paws stomping down the old wooden stairs.
The comical squeaks accompanying each step made it far less fear-inducing.
Vivienne rounded the corner of the dining room, her fur sticking at wild angles from head to toe.
Somehow, she managed to look both furious and half-asleep.
Seeing Finnick, Vivienne opened and shut her mouth. She placed the untouched bowl back on the table.
Finnick turned around. "Finally got you outta that room," he said, wiping his paws on a towel and stepping down from the stool.
Vivienne glowered at him.
Any remaining humor fell from Finnick's face. "I'm sick of this shit, Viv. We need to talk about what happened," he said.
"I would rather eat that," Vivienne said, pointing at the cooling bowl of quinoa before turning on her heel.
The girls stopped eating. The tension in the air encouraged no appetite. Holly looked back at Urbeth. "Time for the plan," she said, her voice firm.
Urbeth nodded and rose from her chair. She picked Finnick up in one massive paw and a wriggling Vivienne in the other.
"Urbeth?! What the hell are you doing?!" Vivienne shouted.
"You act like children, you get time out," Urbeth replied as she made her way to the back door. "Holly, if you would? Paws are full."
Holly walked over and opened the door to the courtyard. "We're locking you two out until you fix this mess like grown mammals," she said.
Vivienne and Finnick were speechless.
Urbeth walked out into the night. She dropped them and they landed in an undignified heap of fur on the asphalt.
The foxes looked back at the door, dumbfounded and resentful in equal measure.
They glared at each other as though that would teleport them back inside.
Holly simply shut the door after Urbeth returned and locked it.
Nick stirred from his nap on the couch when he heard keys twist in the lock.
"I'm home, finally," Judy called out, shutting the evening chill behind her. "Surviving rush hour on a train twice in one day should count as a workout, right?"
Nick chuckled. "I'll say!" He got up and saluted her. "So, how was the...?" he air-typed with his fingers while fake-snoring.
"Har har, exactly. So boring!" Judy smoothed her paws over her ears and shut her eyes. "But we did get medical assessments today. They plan to renovate the old gym to get the force in shape, too," she put the bag of takeout on the counter. "Clawhauser is not thrilled," she chuckled. "I said he could train with us, is that okay?"
Nick's nose twitched as inhaled the aromas wafting from their dinner. "Ooh, soup and a veggie salad! Nice work, Hopps!" he grinned. "As for Clawhauser? Well, I'm dismayed, to be honest."
Judy's ears fell. "Oh."
"I mean, he has my idea of a dream bod and all," Nick sniggered at her expression.
"Oh, shush and eat your dinner," she replied with an eye roll, handing him a fork.
They curled up together on the couch to eat. "So, did the doc give you the all clear?" Nick said between mouthfuls.
Judy nodded and swallowed. "Pretty much, the blood test results come in tomorrow. I need to get some more sleep, is all. I can't wait to feel more like myself again," she said.
"'Yourself?' To whom have I been talking to this whole time?!" Nick shifted away from her on the couch in mock wariness.
Judy gave him a playful slap on the leg. "You know, strong? Not drugged, in pain or sleep deprived," she said. She inspected her salad for the carrots she could pick out first. "Chief Bogo says things are going to get super hectic at work, so I need to be at my best."
Nick nodded, blowing the steam from a spoonful of soup. "You wanna do like this dinner and veg out? How about some TV?"
Judy wriggled her toes. "Yes please!"
Nick grabbed the remote. "Anything you wanna watch?"
"So long as I can zone out, I don't mind," she replied.
"Big Bull Theory it is, then," Nick chuckled and lifted his arm.
Judy smiled and snuggled in against him. "Staying in Tundratown was amazing, but it's good to be home," she said.
"Welcome home, bun bun," Nick said, giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze.
A few hours later, Nick had almost drifted back to sleep. Then the walls shook from a loud pounding at the door.
Judy leaped to her feet. "I'll get it, it's kinda late so," she winked at Nick, "I'll protect you!"
"My hero," Nick said, clasping his paws together and mimicking a swoon. He followed her to the front door.
"Who is it?" Judy called, paw on the doorknob. "Zander and Maggie!" Zander replied. "We uh, we have your friend here…"
Something or someone fell to the ground. "It's me," drawled a deep voice. "Finnick!"
Nick quirked an eyebrow. "Finn?" He shared a dubious look with Judy as she opened the door.
"Heeey nudey Judy sweet spot!" Finnick bowled her over with a hug.
"Uh, hi?" she replied, disentangling herself from his grasp.
Nick looked up at the wolf and the hyena. "Maggie, Zander, didn't know you knew Finn," he smiled.
"We didn't, until tonight," Zander replied. He shared a nervous glance with Maggie.
"You guys seem pretty calm about …this," Maggie said.
Nick shrugged. "Unless he killed a guy with his baseball bat, why not be calm, right?" He froze. "He… didn't kill anyone, did he?!"
"No, no! It's uh, we thought you'd be more upset? Given he's broken his sobriety and all," Zander said. He looked down to see Finnick leaning against his leg to stay upright.
Nick blinked. "'Sobriety?'"
Finnick fumbled around under his t-shirt. "That's right, I can't wear this no more," he pulled the cord around his neck up over his face. "My head's too fuckin' big! BWHAHAHA!"
Maggie leaned down and untied the knot in the cord and handed it to Nick.
He looked at the medallion in his hand.
'No, not a medallion,' he realized. 'A ten-year AA sobriety chip.'
His ears fell."I… didn't know," Nick whispered.
"No one did, 'cept yo MAMA!" Finnick burst into laughter again. "An' sheez the one who made me wanna drink in the first place! But s'all good coz nothin' matters now."
Maggie sighed. "We didn't know either. He came into The Den as we were closing, looking lonesome. Zander and I were having drinks so we invited him to join us. We're so sorry," she said, looking up at her husband.
Zander nodded. "We never would've known if he hadn't shown us the medallion after he'd had… well, a lot to drink. We thought we were being good company for him." The guilt shone in both canine's eyes.
Nick shook his head. "You weren't to know. I mean, geez, I've known him all my life and I had no idea."
Judy took Finnick by the elbow. "Come on Finnick, let's get you to the couch. Maggie, Zander, thank you for bringing him here. We'll take care of him. And please, don't feel bad, 'kay?" She led Finnick to the couch.
Nick nodded. "What she said, you guys did the right thing bringing him here."
Zander shrugged. "He says he's locked out of his apartment and the keys to his van were inside, so he asked us to drop him here. Small world, huh?"
"Yeah, thanks for dropping him off. You guys wanna come in?" Nick opened the door wider.
They shook their heads in unison. "We've caused enough trouble. Sorry again," Zander said. He took his wife's paw in his and they left.
Nick shut the door and locked it for the night. In his other paw, he clutched the sobriety chip.
'All this time…'
"Surpriiiiise!" Finnick shouted from the couch. He put a finger to his lips. "But don't tell no one, it's a big secret!"
Judy padded back from the hall with a spare blanket and pillow. "Let's get you comfortable," she said to Finnick, draping the blanket over him. "Lift your head," she said.
"It's too heavy! I got a damn football head!" Finnick groaned.
"I'll grab your ears and pull you, then." Judy deadpanned.
"Fiiiine, sheesh hot fuzz, you a grumpeh bunneh!" He lifted his head and Judy placed the pillow beneath it.
Nick realized he'd been standing there while Judy handled everything. He shook himself out of his reverie and went into the kitchen. He managed to find some aspirin. He poured Finnick a glass of water and placed it on the coffee table. "You'll be needing this," he said to Finnick.
Judy picked up their empty takeout containers and put them in the trash.
"Well, well, ain't you two domesti…catered!" Finnick drawled.
Nick flicked off the kitchen light. "Get some sleep, Finn. We'll talk in the morning." He turned to Judy. "You're working again tomorrow, right?"
"Yeah, so I think I should get an early night," she replied.
"Nighty night, hot fuzz pants!" Finnick hollered.
Nick bit his tongue to stop from laughing. 'This is too weird.'
"'Night, Finnick," Judy replied. "Good night, Nick." She took Nick's paw and squeezed it. "Everything will be okay."
Nick nodded. "I'm gonna call Ma," he whispered. "Let her know what happened."
"Ears like satellites, yo! Don't you call Viv!" Finnick said.
"Vetoed," Nick replied, phone already in his paw and his mother's number dialed. Judy let go of his paw and went into her room.
Nick's tail flicked from side to side as he waited.
When it rang out, he dialed Digitalis' number. "Hello, this is Holly speaking?"
"It's Nick. Is Ma there?" Nick asked.
"Uh, not exactly," Holly began. "We locked her and Finn outside so they could deal with their shit."
Nick blinked. "Well, Finn showed up drunk at my place flinging a ten-year sobriety chip around."
"Did you know he was … that he had issues with it?" Nick asked, unable to keep the terseness out of his voice.
"N-no, I had no idea, I swear!" Holly said. "I never would have… oh shit!"
"Yeah," Nick replied. "So, where's Ma?"
"I-I thought she was with Finnick? They hadn't spoken to each other and we were getting sick of it so we... intervened," Holly said in a small voice.
"So, you locked them out and thought that was a great idea?" Nick cringed as soon the words left his mouth.
"I'm so sorry Nick, I didn't, I didn't think! I thought we were helping them out!"
'A lot of 'helpful' people around here lately,' he mused.
He took a deep breath. "It's okay, Holly. I have a feeling I know where she'll be. I'll go and find her. Here's my number in case she comes home first, I want you to call me if she does."
He gave her his cell number and wound up the call.
Finnick sat up, his head lolling to one side. "Sorry," he slurred.
Nick saw two shining orbs get shinier. "It's okay Finnick. Do me a favor and stay here, can you do that for me?"
Finnick nodded. "Yeah, arrite."
Nick nodded and walked to Judy's room. As he lifted his knuckles to knock, the door opened.
"Ears like satellites over here too," Judy said with a rueful smile. I'll stay up with Finnick until he gets to sleep. Stay safe, okay?"
Nick nodded and grabbed the keys from the counter. "Thanks, Judy. I'll be back as soon as I can."
A/N: I made it longer than usual in an attempt to compensate for the absolutely ridiculous delay. ...better late than never, right? (^/^)'
I'm sorry for keeping you waiting. I'd love to hear what you guys think of this chapter.