I should stop making promises about when I'm going to post the new chapter, right? -.- Sorry for the long wait. I rewrote this whole thing twice, I don't know why, I just felt like changing it. I hope those who follow the story still enjoy it with the gaps between chapters.
Thanks for the amazing feedback!
The next couple hours until lunch were not the most fun for either. The booth lacked customers, and Judy ended up reading the newspaper, which didn't have interesting stories for that day. Meanwhile Nick was helping with building a shed. It was almost ready when they got back with Charlie, but he still got the chance to hammer a few nails in their place on the wooden planks fixed on the sides of the small building. They also asked for his help with applying a protective coat on the taller parts of it, after which, it was finished. Then came the part where they would put everything back where it belonged and clean up. The bunnies wanted to make it quick, so they left the easiest job for Nick; organizing the nails in a case. Sure, he didn't know where any of the appliances belonged, and didn't want to get again as dirty as he saw some rabbits get, but putting small nails in small boxes was the most boring job out of all.
On the bright side, Judy's brothers, cousins, and brother-in-laws were mostly good to hang around. Even on their way back to the home, they talked a lot with Nick, and he didn't mind. They shared some ridiculous working experiences, and of course, Nick's were standing ahead of each. Annoying customers and fake phone calls were nothing new to him, and those couldn't compare to the terrible cover stories and weird cases he had at work. And the rabbits were all keen on hearing the dirty little secrets of the ZPD officers.
"Wait, that's the same Chief Bogo who almost fired Judy on her first week?"
"Yup," Nick smirked, "The one and only."
"That guy draws Gazelle art?" One of Judy's cousins asked. "I saw a picture, he didn't look like the type…"
"He likes to keep it a secret," Nick commented, "Like the fact that he never misses a concert."
"Oh yeah, Judy said something about running into her boss last year," someone laughed.
"Now, that was fun," Nick raised a finger and continued, "I got premium on my first week at work just not to tell anyone about his dance moves."
And the stories came after another, until they reached the burrow, where some bunnies were sitting at the benches. Nick quickly saw Judy, who sat at the edge of the nearest spot and was eagerly showing something to the others on her mobile.
"We should have a beer sometime," a bunny winked at Nick as they parted ways.
Nick blinked and shrugged, "Alright, sure." Then he walked to the door like everyone else did and looked back to check for Judy. She slowly approached with the group she was talking with a moment ago.
"Had fun?" she greeted.
"Eh, it wasn't that bad," Nick looked down and answered her.
"Did you make friends?" Judy moved closer.
"You sound like my mom on the first day of school," Nick grinned.
"I saw you guys laughing, I thought you might got along after all."
"Yeah, they're fine," Nick assured. "You were right, I survived. Just don't make me do this again tomorrow."
Judy rolled her eyes to drive her gaze away from Nick's smug expression. "Are you tired?"
"No, not really," he said, "But I could eat."
"What do you want to do after that?" Judy asked again, like she was trying to imply something.
"I don't know," he shrugged, "I don't know what to do here."
"Well," she cleared her throat, "If you don't mind, I thought we could check out the fair."
"Okay," Nick agreed, "I need to win that pie eating contest anyway."
"That's tomorrow," Judy corrected him. They were slowly arriving to the dining hall's floor. "And you're not gonna win it."
"Then who will? You?" he asked with as much cynicism as he could manage.
"I already told you. I'm a champion in pie eating," she shook her ears, not caring about Nick's comment.
"You're half my size."
"And?" he huffed, "You may eat like a horse, but there's no way a bunny can eat more than a fox in one sitting," he explained.
"Just wait and see," Judy shrugged it off and looked for empty seats. "Oh, do you have your food?"
"I'll go get it." Then Nick took a turn in the kitchen's direction, where he stacked up the food he and Judy bought the previous day. It was mostly pre-made canned food, with the exception of grasshopper chips and some candy bars. He grabbed the large package of mini pizza rolls and put them in the microwave.
Rabbits ran in and out, taking and leaving drinks and napkins, but most of them just threw a 'Hi' at Nick, so he didn't have to take part in long conversations. He impatiently looked at the clock on his phone for the second time when an unfamiliar voice hit his ears. It made him jump as he turned.
"Oh, you must be Nick, our predator friend," the short rabbit exclaimed loudly, "It is truly fascinating to meet you."
"Ugh, hello…" he was cut off when the stranger grabbed his paw with both of his and started violently shaking it. Nick was too surprised to react anything else.
"Judy told me I'd find you here. We can discuss all your favorite meals. Please, simply call me Carl," he introduced himself in a hurry.
So this must be the chef bunny. Nick awkwardly looked at him. Once again, he seemed way too friendly. The rabbit was roughly the age of Judy's parents, his fur was a darker brown, and despite working with food, he looked strangely skinny.
"Nick," he gave a small wave.
"What are you making there?," Carl pointed at the microwave oven.
"It's just…pizza rolls."
"Oh my sweet toque blanche," he clapped his paws, "It's worse than what I was prepared for. Worry not, I'll cook something quickly."
"Oh, no, thanks but…I'm fine. I actually like this," he pointed at the now ready pizzas as he reached for the open button.
"But how?" the bunny asked in agony. "With the absolute culinary variety nature offered to predators, why would you choose to eat like this?"
"Ugh, it's delicious," Nick shrugged and stepped toward a tower of plates.
"Oh please," Carl shook his head. "After you've tasted my cooking, you'll never look back to these tasteless frozen nightmares. Now tell me, what is your favorite?" His eyes shone as he was already thinking about predator meals to prepare.
"Seriously, you don't have to cook for me, I'm fine like this," Nick tried to remain as polite as he could get. "Judy made me buy some salmon, maybe some other day you-"
"Oh salmon! That is a mighty good choice," his ears shot in the air in joy, "I can make an excellent rice of it, or pastries, maybe a grill plate. Oh, the sauces I can serve with it! And it goes perfect with ants, I bet you didn't know that. Most mammals don't like ants, but with salmon…hmmm, it's a great combination."
"That sounds interesting," Nick nodded at Carl's loud thinking.
"I need to go buy the best spices. Tell me, do you like sweet chili sauce?"
"I'm…not sure," Nick shrugged and placed his pizza rolls on a plate, eyes fixed on Carl whose ears were strangely twitching.
The bunny held up a finger and started searching in his jacket pockets. Finally he picked out a small bottle and held it high.
"This is my famous sweet chili sauce," he pointed up, "You can buy it in my restaurant, but I want you to have a taste." With that, he shoved the bottle in Nick's paws and smiled widely. "Be careful. It's strong. But you can roll your tiny rolls in it," he gave the heated pizza rolls a disgusted look after he finished talking.
"Thank you," Nick mumbled, staring at the energetic rabbit.
"I believe it's time to hurry back. It was a pleasure, meeting you. I can't wait to cook your special order!" Carl hopped out before Nick could've said anything. He just mouthed a 'Wow' to himself.
Plate in one paw and chili sauce in the other, he found Judy at a large table near the wall. There were another six bunnies, some of them seemed familiar, but he didn't remember names. Judy saved a spot for him next to her.
"I met the guy you sent after me," Nick blinked at her as he sat down.
Judy swallowed her food and looked at him. "Uncle Carl?"
"Yeah. He scared the hell out of me…"
"Don't worry. He's harmless, just obsessed with predators," a younger boy flicked his wrist and continued eating.
"I can see that," Nick mumbled and turned the chili bottle to read what's on the back.
"Why, what did he do?" Judy asked, almost worried.
"Nothing, he's just…" Nick twitched his nose, "weird."
"You really can't blame him." Everyone's eyes turned to a girl with bright white spots on her fur. "He's a chef, and predators are much more interesting from that perspective."
"Why is that?" Nick asked her.
"Well, you know, more types of food. And he seldom gets to cook them," she shrugged. "I'm Stephanie, by the way."
"Nick," he nodded. He reached for a fork and a knife and pushed around his pizza rolls on the white plate.
"Did you tell him what to cook for you?" Judy asked.
"Erg, not really," he grinned. "He wanted to cook something now, so I just stopped him with that, but after that…he just decided what he'll make, I guess, and ran off."
"He's a great cook, I'm sure you'll like it," she smiled at him.
"Oh, and I'm sure you will too," Nick shook his head at Judy. He finally started eating too, stuffing a roll in the sauce Carl gave him. "Oh my God…"
"What is it?"
"This sauce is incredible," Nick said, still chewing on the pizza roll.
"That's Uncle Carl's chili sauce?" Judy asked.
"Yeah, he gave it to me."
"Give me some," she pushed her plate full of small carrots and rice closer. "How did you get that?"
"He just gave it to me from his jacket."
Judy grabbed the tiny bottle and carefully poured some next to her food, then passed it back.
"You're already his favorite," a bunny chucked.
"He doesn't make too much of this," Judy pointed at the bottle. "No one knows why, but sometimes he just hands out small jugs."
"So he really is that excited about getting to cook for me?" Nick stared down to his right.
"Of course," Judy hummed, "Is that hard to believe? It just like when you get excited about a drug bust," she laughed.
"That's because I get to carry one of those cool guns," he pointed out and took another pizza roll. He let out another groan as he tasted the home made sauce once again. Judy rarely heard that from him, and mostly just when they were eating desserts. "I'm never buying tubed chili sauce ever again, Carrots. This is-"
Judy cut him off with a cough.
"Wha- Oh right," he pulled his mouth. "How much does this cost?"
"Around 20 dollars," Judy shrugged and chewed on a big cauliflower.
"What, for this small thing?" He tried to stuff the bottle between two of his fingers, and he failed to do so by only an inch.
"Don't worry. He'll give you a family discount!" A boy with strangely shaped glasses nudged Nick on the side with a laugh. The fox gasped and stared at his other side.
"Maybe a family friend discount," he rocked his torso uncomfortably.
"No. No," Judy shook her head and looked back and forth between Nick and her brother. "Come on, you're family to me," she whispered almost inaudibly.
"Don't you think that's a little early to…include me as family?" he asked Judy, who noticed his paw signals below the table.
"But, you are…ugh…," she tried remembering what the signs meant. A few months ago Nick tried explaining them to her. She actually remembered his signs for 'He has a gun' and 'All clear', but the rest being way too complicated and seemingly unnecessary, she forgot them in a week's time. "I'm gonna go see if there's any ice cream left." Judy moved her head and eyes to indicate the direction for Nick.
"Me too," Nick added in a questioning tone, and after the bunny nodded he stood up in sync with her.
They walked over to the dessert table, then Judy took a turn to the kitchen, where she quickly opened a door and jumped in. The room was long and narrow, with a few light bulbs hanging from the ceiling.
"Carrots? Why are we in a pantry?" Nick looked around.
"Because I don't understand those stupid paw signals and you need to tell me what you wanted to say," Judy whispered.
"Okay, so," Nick popped his lips and semi-frowned, "I'm not family. Don't make anyone think that."
"Why? I mean," she groaned, "You are part of my family. And they think we're dating on top of that!"
"How am I part of your family?" he asked in genuine confusion.
"Well, you're my best friend!" Judy didn't understand how that wasn't obvious for him.
"Right. Friend." Nick already opened his mouth to finish the sentence, before realizing that Judy must've really took family loosely. She always said the ZPD's like a big, dysfunctional family, but he never considered she was truly serious. "But you know…if you tell them I'm family, and they think we're dating, they'll probably think we're secretly engaged or something."
"And does that bother you so much?" Judy folded her arms. "It's just this week, nothing major would happen in this time."
"Judy, think!" Nick clapped his paws together. "If you let them believe that and we 'break up' after we leave, they'll think I broke your heart or something and hate me. That's bad for you too." Judy hissed. Nick was just paranoid, but he had a point.
"They won't hate you. If it comes up, I'll them it didn't work out and we're still good friends." She huffed and studied Nick's expression, trying to read him. "You know, it's nice to see that you care."
"Huh, about what?"
"About them liking you," she smiled.
"I don't care if they like me." He scoffed and tried to hide a smirk. "But just so you know, I think some of them do."
"Oh, the ones that were 'fine'?" Judy folded her arms.
"They invited me to have a drink with them," he said. She lightly hit his arm.
"So you did make friends!"
"Friends? I don't think so…" Nick gritted his teeth. "Brothers usually just want to punch me. Drinking actually sounds fun, for a change."
"Just don't get drunk!" Judy reminded him. "Before I forget, we'll need to revisit our list."
"I did great. I didn't even complain," he pulled his ears up, "You should give me bonus points for that, by the way."
"I don't have a point system," she laughed. "I just wanted to talk about it. And some other stuff. Later."
Nick hummed. When Judy wanted to discuss something, it usually took a turn after the 20 minute mark, and she ended up talking about a hundred different topics. "What other stuff?"
"Well," she began, "Don't you think we should make a plan? We never really talked about how we should execute this whole thing, and I'm a little anxious about some guys getting a clue."
"That's a good idea, actually. I have a list of problems with you."
"What?!" She jumped.
"Actually it's just one thing, but your face is funny when you get offended," he smirked and leaned onto a box.
"I'm listening…" She didn't expect Nick to actually come up with things she did too bad.
"Given that this is your family, you need to take the lead, because you're the one who knows them."
"What do you even mean by that?"
"I want to help you, but you have to tell me what will help," he explained. "I can only guess what's okay and what's not, and even though it worked so far, you need to pay a little more attention. Just try to do what you did with any other guy you brought home, and I can join in from there. Then the cover won't be blown."
The bunny pressed her lips together. She really needed to focus more. Judy would have hated to admit it, but she wasn't at all too experienced with introducing boys to her family. She figured it would be fine. She met plenty of boyfriends and girlfriends while she lived at home.
"Okay," she sighed, "I'm leading. Anything else?"
"It's weird for me too, but you actually seem less affectionate since we arrived here," Nick pointed out.
"You think so?" She noticed that too. Couldn't explain it, but definitely noticed it. And it bothered her a lot.
"Yeah," he nodded. "Where are the chokings you call welcome hugs?" He asked and bumped a fist into the air.
"I…it just…feels strange?" she guessed from herself.
"Let me tell you, it feels a lot more than just strange."
"No, it's," she was heavily thinking, "It's strange for me because you're my best friend, and it's hard to look at you any differently."
"Yeah, well here's what I do with that," he swallowed, "Remember that team building training we had last fall?"
"There was that improv stage-"
"Where we never acted out anything like this," she leaned forward with a finger raised, her other arm put behind her back. It was true.
"Point is, we could have." Nick pushed down her finger. Judy was looking blandly at him to say something else. "Oh, or think about going undercover on a case. That could happen any time! We need to be convincing for the bad guys."
"Right. How about we continue this later, and now get some ice cream?" Judy chuckled.
"Fine by me," Nick opened the door next to them. "Just hold my paw or something."
"Alright-y." She clapped her paw into Nick's.
They exited the pantry, slowly and carefully looking around. No one was nearby, so they quickly stepped back into the hall and walked to the tables with ice cream on them. As Judy expected, there was a line, or more like a crowd of children waiting.
"You know what else you could think of?" Nick snickered. "Were you a theater kid? You must have been, with the performance on that talent show."
"Joke's on you, I was for two years," Judy flicked her ears and looked up at him. "Thanks for all the tips, but I can do this my own way."
Nick raised his paws as if defending himself. "Not gonna stop you."
When they finally got through the small bunnies jumping around the ice cream bowls, Judy quickly started scooping from each, filling a big plate with ice cream and chocolate sprinkles. Nick, knowing he still had some food left back at the table, only took a few scoops and turned back to search for the place where they sat. Looking away, he held out his right paw for Judy but she didn't even look. She already began eating her dessert.
"Judy, come on," Nick looked down and shook his wrist in the air.
"This is delicious! Did you get chocolate?" She smiled with puffy cheeks.
Nick lifted the cup he took and looked at it. "Yeah, I did. Could we go back?"
"Of course," she nodded, stuffed her spoon between the mountains of ice cream, and took Nick's paw.
Judy wished holding paws was enough shown affection, because she was really comfortable with that. She spied the hall for couples sitting next to each other. Her sister, Stephanie was at their table with her husband, but they didn't do anything special. Sometimes Nate would touch her belly, but that would be weird if she wasn't pregnant. Then she spotted some guys leaning very close to each other, others hugging at the table, some kissing. Looked cute, for sure, but Judy just found eating with your arms around each other highly impractical. She decided she'd give it a try anyway.
The bunnies at the table were all talking with each other, so Nick and Judy just sat down and listened to them. Neither was eager to join in the conversations. Judy looked around, stretched her ears a bit, and leaned on Nick's arm – what she thought looked more natural than it actually did. With wide eyes and a small sigh Nick pulled his arm and put it over her back, trying to help the situation, but remaining about as tense as Judy was. For the next few minutes they both moved around, trying to find a position that wasn't agonizingly uncomfortable. Fortunately, no one seemed to notice the short struggle.
"Are you guys all walking to the field or can someone give me a ride?" a girl asked from across the table.
"We're taking Cassie too, you can hop in," Steph smiled at her sister. "Anyone else? Judy?"
She twisted her head to look at Nick, then back again. "We're fine walking," she shrugged.
"Okay then," Nate nodded and helped Stephanie to stand up. "See you there." The three bunnies leaving waved to the table and walked away.
"You finished?" Judy asked Nick.
"Yeah, we can go too."
She pushed herself to a straight sitting position and jumped from her seat. Nick stood up with a turn and followed Judy, who pulled him in a fast pace.
"I want to change first," she told him.
He stared down at the stains and tear on his shirt. "I guess I should do that too." He studied Judy's blouse and jeans. They seemed clean to him, and curiosity took over. "Why are you changing?"
"Oh, I…felt a little underdressed yesterday," she explained. "I'll go in a dress."
"How can you be underdressed on a farm?"
"Not the farm," she scoffed, "The barn party at night."
"Barn party doesn't sound like a place that has a dress code." Nick scrolled through his messages and occasionally looked at Judy, who led the way.
"There isn't any. I'd just feel more comfortable."
"I guess I should dress up too?" he asked with an unenthusiastic sigh.
"Not too much. Just if you want to," Judy assured. "I'm taking that as you're staying tonight."
"Of course. I'll give it a try." It was obvious for him that it wouldn't compare to a real club in Zootopia, but it was his best choice, and it actually didn't sound that bad.
"Will you dance with me?" Judy asked, melodizing her voice in a way that was unusual coming from her.
"Are you trying to flirt with me?" he raised an eyebrow.
"No," she smirked, "I just like dancing together."
"That will most likely never happen if I don't get to drink first."
"Stop it, you love dancing," Judy grunted.
"I don't," Nick huffed back, "Why'd you accuse me with that?"
"You dance all the time!"
"If you mean arrest victory dance-"
"That's exactly what I mean," she agreed.
"First off, that's not even a real dance," Nick held up a finger, "It's my badass cop walk. You need to imagine the punch and all in slow-mo. Second, I only do it if I knew the guy and I want to piss him off – that shouldn't be considered 'all the time'," he added.
"You dance at parties too, even when you're sober!" Judy quickly pointed out.
"I wouldn't think of that as dancing," he rolled his eyes.
"It's good enough," she shrugged, "Most of the boys here just nod and raise their paws at times."
"Right. I was just worried you'd want to reenact the Dirty Dancing finale or something like that."
"That would be great," Judy gasped as her ears shot as high as they could. Looks like she got an idea just as bright as she got last Halloween.
"Don't you dare."
"I do your paperwork for 3 days if you lift me up like that once," she said.
"Make it a week," Nick joined the bargain.
"Then it's two lifts," Judy held up to fingers and grinned, "And you pay me a drink."
"Oh so you can drink?"
"I hold my liquor better than you. And I didn't say you couldn't drink, I just don't want you to tell anyone about…you know," she whispered the last part, even though there was nothing to hear.
"Both lies," Nick said.
"No, they're not." Judy clicked her tongue. They were slowly arriving to the elevator. "One tequila shot and you tell all kinds of secrets to mammals."
"That's not true," he whined.
"Then explain Clawhauser's birthday."
"I hadn't eaten all day and I had way more than just one shot. Besides, telling him what everyone bought for him is not an important secret."
Judy bit on her tongue as they entered the cabin. "We get a small shot roulette together and you're paying?"
"Deal," Nick nodded. "But I hope you'll get all the non-alcoholic ones."
They arrived to the right floor in a matter of seconds.
"I'm ready in 5 minutes," Judy jumped into her room.
She put her mobile from her jeans pocket to a shelf, and opened her wardrobe. She didn't bring that many clothes, but she did pick a dress she bought for her cousin's anniversary party. It was blue and white, and had a thin layer of lace around the skirt part. After neatly folding her clothes, she jumped into the dress. To neaten up her image she put a bit of mascara on. After not finding a way to fit her phone, she grabbed a small purse and squeezed it next to her money. Judy was satisfied with herself, so she stepped out to the hallway.
Nick was waiting and pressing his phone. Apparently he only changed his shirt to a darker one and brushed over his fur, in what there were still a few sticky knots.
"Where's that nice jacket?" Judy asked.
"It's too hot out there," Nick looked up. "New dress?"
"Nope," she shook her head. "But it'll do."
They walked on the corridor paw in paw, with occasional stops from Judy to say hello to some relatives. Once they were outside, she realized just how hot it was. All she could think of was getting a cold lemonade at the Carrot Days and finding an activity in a tent. Nick's phone buzzed in his pocket. He lifted it out, and with the very same movement, he put it back.
"You can answer that," Judy encouraged. She thought maybe he took her request on not overusing his mobile too seriously. She didn't realize on the spot how unlikely that was.
"Just a notification," Nick shook his head.
"Did you talk with Finnick last night?" He said he would.
"I did," Nick answered. "Now that you remind me, I should probably call him if he's alright."
"What did he do this time?" Judy rarely met Finnick. She heard a lot about him, or at least some. She knew he was a little disappointed when Nick left for the academy, but she also knew that wasn't enough reason to vanish from his life. They still met up a lot, and Nick got themselves out of a lot of trouble – that he almost always told Judy about.
"He hanged up on me and said something about the cops coming," he shrugged like it was only casual. "Lucky bastard got a VIP ticket to the Globe."
"The Globe," he repeated.
"Is that like a club?" she asked nonchalantly.
"You've been living there for, what, two years now, and you haven't heard of the Globe?" Nick let out a giggling sigh. Sure, Judy didn't know as many places as he did, especially when it came to clubs and bars. When he realized that the bunny was not going to answer, he continued, "It's near the harbor. The place itself is not that big of a deal, but the VIP floors are amazing."
"That means?" Judy was more interested in this club now.
"Huge globe with glass walls. Full panorama on the city, and good shows," he explained.
"That sounds cool. We should go there sometime." She's only ever been to some of the cheaper places, and she never got what was so great about them. Now, this place sounded nice. Judy recalled she saw it once, but she didn't know it was a nightspot.
"It's not that easy, Cottontail," Nick chuckled. "You need to have the right friends to get a ticket there."
"Well, I know Finnick," she shrugged. They weren't exactly friends, but she knew enough about him to make him get her a ticket. At least she thought so.
"Good luck with that."
Judy pulled her nose, for she didn't know how to take what she heard. Nick continued looking around with a smirk on his face. "Oh no, he didn't!"
"Finnick forged a ticket?" It sounded almost like a statement.
"No, he didn't." He stopped at that and said no more.
"Nick, it's illegal."
"He didn't make it. He got it from a guy."
"Owning a fake ticket is illegal too," Judy stomped.
"I know that," Nick scoffed. "We went to the same academy, in case you forgot."
Judy rolled her eyes. "Please tell me you don't do things like that anymore."
"Of course I don't," he said. "I don't want to get fired."
Judy only half-believed that. Nick had a special tactic to find loopholes in every law. Most of the petty things he did occasionally were considered perfectly legal in his eyes. And no one said anything about it.
"Doesn't it feel weird around Fin?"
"It's not like a want to arrest him," he snickered. "Besides, he's not a criminal mastermind. Buying fake tickets is probably the worst he'll do on his own."
"Good to hear. I wouldn't want to arrest him either." She lightly shivered at the thought of angry Finnick. "But I wanted to ask…you really don't miss it?" This question crossed her mind a couple of times, when Nick acted out, and she actually asked similar things before.
"What? Being a conman?" Nick hummed when Judy gave a small nod. He needed to think on that question. "Nah, not really."
"You go out with Finnick a lot," she pointed out, more matter-of-factly than offended.
"He's my friend too, you know," he said.
"You know what I mean," Judy pushed him. "If he's still hustling without you, don't you feel…tempted?"
"We did a bunch of other stuff together. We still do," he added. "Hustling wasn't the most fun of them all."
Judy knew from the look on his face that she shouldn't ask him about those. She just nodded and hummed. "Pie?" she asked as they approached the entrance, and Gideon Grey's stand as well.
"Hmm, maybe later."
Nick looked around the field. It didn't look like the day before. One side was filled with small stands, much like the pie cart. At the other end, he spotted games and tents that might as well had similar activities inside. There were two big barns. One, where they watched the show last afternoon, and another, a bit further away, where Judy visited last night.
"So, what do you want to check out first?" Judy looked around excitedly as well. Before Nick got to say something, she answered her own question. "Oh, let's win a prize at the shooting range!"
"Alright," Nick snorted. He was looking forward to try that.
The line seemed awfully long, but Judy managed to entertain both of them by telling Nick about the more notorious folks around the Burrows, at least those who she spotted. He was surprised how mammals around there weren't as boring as he imagined. It started with Judy's siblings, but the townspeople were the icing on the cake, from the ram with the truck-sized distillation tank in his cellar, to the old donkey who relived his youth with extreme sports.
The ones who tried hitting the target before them were more or less successful, at which Nick gained even more confidence than he already had. He came in right below Judy, who was surprisingly one of the best shooters at the station. The small airsoft pistols here couldn't weight as much and be so accurate as the guns they practiced with at the police, but judging the distance and size of the bullseyes there was nothing to worry about.
The bunny operating the game was one of Judy's old schoolmates. Of course he was, Nick thought. They quickly chatted about how long it's been, isn't the weather nice, and oh, yes that's her partner.
The objective was to hit three of the moving targets to win a prize, 2 dollars for three shots. Judy went first. She finished quickly, perfect score on the first try, and picked a mug with the Carrot Days logo on it.
"What?" She answered to Nick's questioning expression. "You can never have enough mugs!"
He mumbled something and gave two dollars to the operator. He aimed at the first target. Hit. The second one swung to the sides a little faster. Slightly off, still a hit. Third one. Miss.
"You got to be kidding me," he huffed and let his arm fall.
"Try again, mate?" The bunny asked.
Seeing Judy's small nod, Nick reached into his pocket and pulled out another bill from his wallet. He hit the first target easily, then hesitated a bit at the second. Or maybe more.
"No need to hurry," Judy giggled.
"Shut up," he said, looking away from the aiming. Looking back, he followed the target and shot, than with a quick pull, he hit the last one too.
"Nice," Judy hummed.
"Nice?" Nick put the airsoft down and stepped aside. "Did you not see how fast those last two were?"
"Very impressive," she said.
Very impressive just wasn't enough. After picking up a carrot pen from along the prizes – just for the sake of having matching things, as Nick explained –, they ended up agreeing that maybe they are both brilliant shots.
The next stop was lemonade, right behind the stand they just left.
"I can't believe I'm spending all my money here," Nick murmured and stirred the drink in the plastic cup.
Judy slurped silently and read a flier with the programs listed on it.
"I want to try the maze," she pointed at the paper with the cup still in her paw, "and the wall climbing, the race, this dance show sounds cool…"
"I hoped you'd go with apple bobbing," Nick pointed to a different bracket.
"Then what do you want to do?" Judy sighed and held the paper closer to him.
Nick looked at it for a while, read it over thoroughly. "Yeah, the ones you said are probably the best options."
"See?" she huffed. "If it stays so hot all week we could go down to the lake." She fanned herself with the folded flier.
"Now that's a good idea," Nick agreed. "I didn't bring swimming pants though."
"We can borrow you some."
One of Judy's virtues was that she could find very practical solutions for simple problems, and one of Nick's vices was turning them down for small dumb reasons.
"Unused bunny shorts are still bunny shorts," he argued with Judy's idea of taking pants from the family's room full of 'never worn and forgotten' clothes.
"It's better than nothing."
"I've never been skinny dipping before," he smirked. "And judging by your face, I won't be trying it here."
Judy's other option was buying a pair for him at the store, which seemed reasonable, but he was waiting for better offers.
Coming to the sad realization that she changed into a dress, Judy left the sport-activity side of the field alone. The maze was good. However, they didn't take it too seriously at the beginning and kept talking about other things, so they got out almost an hour later. It was indeed much bigger than it seemed, and filled with so called traps that didn't allow them to turn back and they had to choose another way. Judy got annoyed at a point and tried jumping over the walls, then onto Nick's shoulders to see where they were. They found the good direction that way.
Walking around after they exited, they stumbled upon a small gallery of artworks by local artists. Just like before, Judy told small anecdotes about everyone she knew from the exhibitors, and Nick struggled to try remembering at least some parts of it. Then, when they got to the really abstract pictures, they just quietly laughed at their own ways of guessing what's on it.
Time passed. Judy was still excited to try some of the games, and she ended up winning a stuffed carrot with huge eyes, which was later carried home by an unlucky relative who she ran into.
It was somewhat bright, but the sun slowly moved down. They opened the barn where the disco was about to begin, and Nick and Judy mingled with the crowd. Music was playing softly. Some were already dancing in the lit up barn. It didn't seem like much from the outside, but once they got in Nick's jaw dropped. He expected a country band and maybe some hay stacks and canned beers, but no. This place looked like a real club. Sure smaller, and the decorations were not as harsh, but it was quite modern, with a long bar and tall rounded tables at the walls. All around the place, tiny lampions and lights were hanged, but of course the real light came from huge reflectors at the top.
"I like this song," Judy started nodding her head as they walked further inside and heard the music better.
"Don't you like all?" Nick didn't dodge the elbow he saw coming his way. He was looking up and discovering the place. The atmosphere was just like in a house-party. Not bad. Not bad at all. "Drinks?"
Judy's ears leaning to the right was enough of a reply. Lots of drinks were listed, which was surprising, given that the menu didn't contain fancy ones.
"One beer, please," Nick ordered when they got to the bar, "And apple cider for the lady."
Judy looked at him with a smirk that unwillingly turned into a smile. "Ordering for me? How romantic," she joked.
"You're paying for it." He moved his arms from behind his back to lean against the counter.
"Now who's bossy?"
"Oh please, you always order beer, and whine because you don't like it," he rolled his eyes and reached for their drinks.
Judy raised a finger, "I'm trying to get to like it."
"Look who's here." She turned from Nick to her sister approaching. "Nice dress."
"Susie!" Judy hugged her. "Susie, this is Nick."
"Oh hello!" The shorter bunny waved at him. "You guys wanna join us? I'm just here for a straw."
"Sure," Nick reacted to Judy's questioning look.
Susie clicked her tongue and smiled. "Anxious, I suppose. Most guys are, when they want to propose," she whispered.
"Sweet cheese and crackers!" Judy almost jumped.
"Now?" Nick really didn't want to be there at some strangers' proposal. It would be awkward.
"I found the ring in his bag."
"Oh, were you searching for it?" Judy asked teasingly.
"He's not too good at hiding stuff," Susie laughed. Nick tried to ignore the subtle wink she gave him.
She led them to a small circle next to a pillar that stood around the middle of the barn. Nick already knew some of the bunnies there, which was a good sign.
"Hey-," Judy greeted loudly before she was hushed.
"Whoa, stop right there," Tessa held out her paw to indicate them to do so. She kept looking above them.
"What?" Judy huffed.
"I guess she wanted to say," a boy pointed at the decoration hanging above Judy.
She looked up and rolled her eyes. "You're so childish."
"Would you just stomp on old traditions for that reason?" Tessa gasped.
"We just got here," Judy shook her head smiling. Nick still had no idea what was going on, although he had a bad feeling about it.
"Fine, let's speed it up," Tessa grabbed Nick's free arm. "Judy's here everyone, and this is Nick. Say hello please," she looked back and forth between the two sides of the semi-circle. The rabbits waved and obliged, Judy face palmed, Nick mumbled 'hello', then Tessa continued. "They're gonna kiss now."
Nick's eyes widened, he looked around fast then turned to Judy, "How did that escalate?"
"It's…" Judy sighed and pointed up, "It's carrot greens, you have to kiss under it."
"No, that's with mistletoe," he said slowly.
"Not on Carrot Days," she looked down. "Okay, know what?" She waited for no answer, she hopped lightly and kissed Nick's cheek.
"Hurr hurr, not good enough."
"Tess, they don't feel like kissing, no biggie," another new face frowned.
"Oh no, she's right," the boy who spoke before said again. "It's rules first." Most of the group seemed to agree, judging by the nods and murmurs.
This can't be happening to me, Judy sighed.
Never too late to walk away, Nick thought.
"Come on, kiss!" Jackie, the bunny he met yesterday practically yelled at them with a smile.
This led to the others quietly chanting. Judy shivered. She looked at Nick.
They won't drop it, will they?
I don't even know these mammals.
Gosh, are others staring?
We could ignore them…
I can't believe this.
Nah, that wouldn't work.
But this is…
Just a small one.
Maybe if we-
Judy pulled Nick closer, and with eyes pressed close, she kissed him.
Thanks for reading! and sorry again:)