Chapter 1

Ready for business


Nick Wilde lay on his stomach under his bed, the lower half of his body sticking out from underneath. His elbows supported him in the cramped space while he stared at his phone. Videos. Zoogle photos. Artwork. So this was what cleaning a room was like? It wasn't half bad.

In all honestly, he had started out with good intentions. The apartment was new and had quickly descended into an atrocious state, despite firm resolutions on his part. He couldn't let Judy see it like this. He knew she disliked sloppiness and he didn't enjoy being on the receiving end of her criticism. It wasn't that he was weak-willed, it was just that every time he resolved to get his paws dirty with hard work something far more interesting and pressing presented itself. A good TV show. Sunny weather. That rabbit couldn't expect him to miss those, could she?

He chuckled to himself, swiping through an album of images from Finnick's thirty second birthday. Blast from the past. That had been some night...

The past week and a bit had been intense. After helping in cracking the night howler case, Nick had finally made the decision to do something valuable with his life. Actually, he had made the decision for the second time in the last four months. He had originally resolved to join the ZPD before his friendship with Judy had gone far south after that fateful interview. That was behind them. Now they had solved the case which had baffled the finest minds in Precinct 1, they were ready to pick up from where they left off.

She had turned his life around. If he admitted it to himself, he was making the decision to join mainly out of a desire to be with her. She had said she wanted a partner. He wouldn't let her down. For the first time in his life, he knew someone really believed in him.

His phone chimed – a new message from Finnick. 60 bucks in 12 minutes. Beat that, princess.

That stung. Nick thought about a response, sticking his tongue out of the corner of his mouth, tapping away at the iCarrot. It was nice in this secluded spot. Warm. Dark. He had even found a tie which he had lost the day he moved in. A grin spread across his handsome features. His attention was fully absorbed by the phone.

Nick yelped, feeling himself dragged by the tail out from under the bed. The dust from his floor smeared his green shirt and his limbs flailed in confusion.

"Nicholas P. Wilde!"

Here we go. The sly grin reestablished itself as he turned over onto his back, staring up at the only rabbit he had ever called a friend, her face illuminated by the late-afternoon light. "Carrots!" he beamed.

"What do you think you're doing, Mr. Wilde?" she folded her arms. "Why are you hiding under that bed?"

"I'm…cleaning my room." The grin faltered. He knew what was coming.

"Cleaning your room?! You told me you finished that three days ago! What did we talk about on Wednesday? What did you tell me?"

He blinked.

"Hmm?" she leaned forward, narrowing her eyes.

"That I had finished..."

"That you had finished what?"

"That I had finished cleaning my room."

She looked down on him with a superior expression. "And have you, Nick? Have you finished cleaning your room?"

He faked shame, ears folding. He was secretly enjoying their banter. "No."

"So what will you be doing before you even think about taking another look at that phone?"

He raised the iCarrot, white light flashing as he snapped a shot of her stern expression. The shock on her face proved she hadn't been expecting that. He kissed the phone's screen, smiling widely. "I love this dear phone. You hear me? We shall never be parted."

She shook her head, fighting back her giggles. "Nick, did you hear me? Put the phone away."

"Make me."

She put a foot on his stomach, rubbing around in a circular motion, the tickling sending him into spasms of laughter.

"Carrots! Stop!" he giggled uncontrollably.

"Hand me the phone, Wilde." She held out her paw.

He shook his head vigorously, trying to hold the phone out of her reach with one paw while the other felt around his stomach, attempting to move her foot and give him some relief.

"The phone!"

It was too much. Eyes streaming, he held the phone out to her. She grabbed it and lifted her foot off his stomach, stepping back and slipping the iCarrot into her own pocket. Clapping her paws together, she fixed him with her eyes again while he clambered to his feet, steadying himself against the bed-frame.

She raised an eyebrow. "Now, Slick Nick, you will clean every section of this room to my full satisfaction or you will never receive another message from (she glanced at the phone) Finnick."

"Okay, deal," he said hurriedly.

"Just a minute! What are you saying to Finnick? About me?!" she began scrolling up through his exchanges.

"NO! Judy don't! Please!" he raced across the room, snatching at the phone, wrestling for control.

She nimbly jerked out of his reach and slipped to the side, standing as tall as she could, ears perked up elegantly. "Very well." She clicked the button on the side of the phone. "I will begin reading these messages only if you overshoot the time limit I set you. One message for each minute you go over. Do we have a deal?"

He exhaled, defeated. "How long do I have?"

A sly grin spread across her features. Someone had been a bad influence on her, Nick thought ruefully. "48 minutes. Better make a start, Nick."

It was an exhausted and dusty fox who flopped onto his only chair. He had tidied, dusted, brushed and polished every surface in his apartment to perfection. He checked his watch. 47 minutes and 29 seconds. "Phone," he demanded.

She eyed the room, moving to look in every corner and behind each piece of furniture torturously slowly. Finally, she nodded with approval. "Well done. You've certainly cleaned it."

Uneasiness crept down his spine. "Give me the phone, Carrots."

"Did I say I would give you the phone?"

"Yes you did! You said-"

"That I wouldn't read your messages if you cleaned the room within 48 minutes. That's not the same thing. No, you'll get your phone back when you iron that horrible shirt of yours. I want you to appear pristine and neat for your big day tomorrow."

"My shirt is fine!" he protested.

She shook her head. "It looks like something a shifty conman would wear. You wouldn't want the ZPD to think they are recruiting a shifty conman, would you?"

"Madam, this shirt reflects both the harmony of nature and the tasteful artistry of the urban elite. It is a combination of beauty and finesse. It-"

"When was it last washed?" she demanded.

Checkmate.

"I'll iron a new one," he muttered,

Sometimes he loved to hate that rabbit.


"There!"

Judy looked at the blue and purple v-neck t-shirt Nick had slapped onto the work-surface beside her. It was clean, free of creases, ghastly and utterly inappropriate for the situation. It was a losing battle. Nick was Nick. No other explanation was possible.

"Well done", she said, "You've made me proud. While you've been messing around with clothes, I threw together some food for you."

He grinned, eyeing the simmering pan of pasta sauce. The scent of tomatoes, garlic and onions teased his nostrils, making his stomach feel even emptier than it really was.

"Hey, there's only enough for one in there." He looked at her in confusion.

She laughed, stirring the sauce. "Oh, I don't have time to spend my whole day supervising a ZPD hopeful. I've got a very busy schedule. Reports to write. Villains to stop."

"Cars to ticket."

She squared her shoulders. "That was uncalled for."

He leaned over and took the wooden spoon from her, testing the sauce with satisfaction. "Well, I'll have my own share of high-flying, crime-stomping life in six months' time."

Judy crossed her arms, raising an eyebrow. "Actually, you'll be a rookie. You probably won't even be allowed to drive the patrol car," she winked.

"Can't wait." He was disappointed. He wanted to spend more time with her on the last afternoon before he left. Maybe enjoy a meal together. She made him feel trusted. Liked.

"How's your study been going?" she said.

"Nick?"

He dipped a thumb into the pan, then raised it to his mouth, testing the sauce again. "Hmm. Now I know there's sauce, but this is tomato sauce. Undeniably." he closed his eyes, relishing the taste.

She took a step back and faced him. "Nick, what prep have you done for the Academy?"

"Prep?"

"Prep! As in preparation. It's what you do before you start something important."

"Well, I've thought a lot about how you drive your 'joke mobile'. That's sort of like studying a police officer in their natural environment," he shrugged.

The rabbit moved her head forward, eyes wide, mouth gaping.

"What preparation did you have in mind?" he asked coyly.

"What preparation?! Well, let me see. Physical training. Familiarity with our laws. Assertiveness techniques. Memory tests. Mathematical practice runs. Spatial awareness assessment."

"Nope," he interjected after each suggestion.

"Nick! This is important! How can you be so laid back? I trained for years before I was selected." She was incredulous.

He turned to face her. "Fluff, it's an academy. How bad can it be?"

"It's not an academy. It's the Academy! You poor, simple fox," she shook her head in despair, "you're going to be eaten alive…"

"Look, it's nothing, Carrots. They'll pick me up tomorrow and I'll head off. What's the point of filling my head with stuff they're going to fill it with anyway?"

"Sweet onions, Nick! You are the dumbest fox I've ever-"

He bent forward and stared into her eyes, closer than she found comfortable.

"Did you just call me dumb?"

She locked eyes with him. "And what if I did, Slick Nick?" He was mistaken if he thought she would back down that easily. She glared into those green orbs for what felt like minutes. Finally, Nick burst out laughing and returned to the sauce.

"You know," he chuckled, "you're pretty cute when you're angry. For a bunny, that is."

"Ugh!" she stomped away to the far side of his apartment, shaking her head, ears swaying with the movement. "Please at least tell me you've read the welcome pack they sent you. You filled in all the preliminary paperwork, right?"

He stirred the pot diligently, whistling Gazelle's latest tune.

"You are unbelievable!" Judy said, pacing. "I've had it. I need to get back to the office. There's only so much a rabbit can take from you in one day."

"So, you aren't happy I'm joining? Because you will see a lot of me if I become your partner," he teased.

"What? No, no!" she shook her head quickly, "It's fantastic that you're joining the force. No. It's just I can only take so much of your fooling around."

"Speaking of taking from me, can I have my phone back?" his ears perked up hopefully.

She squared her chin, slipping back into her previous sternness. "No. You will read up on your duties. You will sign those documents and look through your welcome pack. You will refresh that mind of yours before you go browsing the internet or talking to friends who are a bad influence on you." She marched to the door. "I will pick you up at 07:30 Nick. We'll go straight to the station so you can catch your train on time. Be ready. Be well-dressed, well-groomed and most importantly, be well-read."

"No bye-bye kiss for Nicky?" he teased. She probably didn't mean to let him see the smile tugging at her face as she walked out the door. The door closed behind her and footsteps announced her departure down the corridor.

Nick looked back at the sauce, excitement filling his chest when he thought about tomorrow. Tomorrow would be easy. He wasn't worried. Refreshing his mind? No internet? He didn't need his phone. He raised Judy's phone in his paw, unlocking it with the passcode he had watched her use countless times. It would be a while before she realised it was missing from her pocket. Slight of paw was a handy trick he had learned on the streets. He wasn't an officer yet.


Thanks for reading!

PLEASE REVIEW! I would really appreciate that. This fic is partly to celebrate Zootopia's home release. There will be more to come. If you're enjoying this, make sure to check out my other stories! If you are a follower of my other work, chances are you may recongise this. XD

All the best!

-AF

Disclaimer (boring stuff): Zootopia and all related intellectual property is copyright of Disney. I make no money from this and pursue it simply for enjoyment. Any images used are copyrighted to the artist who created them. If I do not mention an artist, it is simply because I haven't been able to track down where the picture originated. If you do know or are the artist themselves, please contact me and I will add your details without question or remove the image if so desired. The text of this work is copyrighted to myself. Do not reproduce the material without permission or try to pass it off as your own. Cheers. :)