"Oh, Nick!" He was on his way home after some follow-up work on an ongoing investigation when Clawhauser got his attention. "Chief wants to see you in his office, uhm… something about that case you're working on."
His sigh put into action what his mouth didn't want to put into words. He was exhausted, and he really didn't want to be in this building anymore. He groaned as he turned around to make his way back from whence he just came.
"You wanted to see me chief?" He was pouring over a messy pile of paperwork on his desk, and without a word he snapped his fingers and pointed down at the chair in front of it.
Nick begrudgingly made his way to it and sat down. "Please would be nice."
He took off his glasses and set them down. "About an hour ago, we apprehended a male lion who claims to know where your suspect is hiding out."
Nick's ears perked up and he leaned forward in his seat. "You think he's good for it?"
"We don't know." Bogo laced his hands together on top of his disheveled pile of paperwork. "He wants a pardon, even if we don't catch him… so it's risky. How confident are you?"
"If he's good for it, we can get him."
Bogo's office chair creaked as he leaned back in it. He unlaced his hands and crossed his arms, considering all the possible outcomes. After a moment of rhythmic creaking to his rocking back and forth he stopped. "Go get Hopps… and come right back here, we'll need to act fast."
"Aw chief," he wasn't pleased. "C'mon… it can't wait till tomorrow?"
"Remind me, Wilde," Bogo offered a bitter scowl. "Which side of this desk am I on?"
Nick scratched his scalp with an annoyed moan. Then without another word he hopped off the chair and sulked out the door. Once he was clear of the lobby he was at full speed to get Judy and wrap up this case…
- The other side of town-
He jumped the steps two at a time, he tried three and almost fell on his face. So, he stuck with two at a time until he reached Judy's floor. Once her little bunny shaped welcome sign came into view he gradually slowed his pace to a leisurely stroll. He tapped out the tune of "she's a lady" on the door and checked his phone as he waited. After he'd scrolled through everything he hadn't already seen on Facebook, he started to wonder what was taking so long.
He didn't think much about it as he tried the knob. It offered no resistance, so he helped himself in…
"Hey, carrots, we got a hot lead on that runner but we gotta go right now…" he was still looking at his phone as he swung through that door and didn't look up till he heard a small whimper.
What he saw was, for him, impossible to process. There were two bodies on her bed, covered up to their collarbones in sheets, meaning they were naked. That wasn't the biggest issue here, though. The one thing he couldn't process… was that it wasn't a man in there with her…
"Nick, get out!" she'd come out of her state of shock, and she was livid.
Nick stood there in that doorway with no brain function left to respond with. His jaw hung open, and his eyes were just short of falling out of his head.
"Nick!" With her free arm, she pointed aggressively at the door, the other was holding up the sheets. Nick's jaw slowly crept back up, but the pace was far too slow for Judy's liking. Her eyes darted around until she found something solid enough to throw, a plastic snow globe.
Once it was flying towards his head he finally snapped out of it and ducked outside slamming the door shut behind him. He flinched as he heard it bounce off the door and held his breath. After a moment, he heard the door lock behind him…
After several minutes, Judy angrily emerged into the hall fully dressed. She quickly turned to lock the door behind her. "We'll talk about this on Monday, for now, let's just-…" but when she turned around the hall was empty. She didn't call out to see if he was there, instead, she unlocked her door and stepped back inside. Before she shut it behind her, she peeked back out into the hall, with a concerned look on her face.
- Monday morning; ZPD concord-
As she pushed open the door she had a bad feeling. It was quickly reaffirmed as she felt everyone glancing at her as she walked. She went straight up to the front desk, Clawhauser seemed absorbed in a little pink box. "Clawhauser."
"Mmmm?" He swiveled in his office chair, and once he saw who it was he stopped chewing. He looked terrified for some reason. "Oh… heeeey what's-… what's up Judy?"
Judy's bad feeling was starting to fester. She got the feeling that Nick just might be the type to let what he saw slip, unintentionally or not. She was leaning towards unintentionally, she'd like to think he wasn't the type to do it on purpose. "What'd he tell you Clawhauser?"
Clawhauser was an open book. He didn't really have dishonest reactions to things, so when he looked completely confused by her question she could assume he honestly didn't know. "Nothing, don't worry about it. Have you seen Nick today?"
Judy was thrown off again, once she mentioned Nick Clawhauser went back to looking terrified… So, something happened with Nick but it wasn't related to the other night? He gulped and pointed towards the bullpen. She gave him a questioning look, to which he visibly started to sweat. She didn't really have time to brood over this, she had an ass to kick…
Nick wasn't in his typical seat, she had to look around for him a bit. Eventually, she spotted him in the back left corner. As she marched up to him, prepared to really let him have it, she noticed he looked a little off. He didn't even seem to notice her coming and stared at the floor under the desk. He didn't look scared, or mad, or sad, he just looked off.
"Hmm-mm!" She cleared her throat once she was next to him. It took him a moment to look up. "…Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
Her muscles braced, preparing to dish out some punishment when he either started laughing or gave her some corny insult. When he responded, she knew immediately that something was very off about Nick, it wasn't just a feeling.
"Yea," he didn't look at her. "I'm sorry, and it'll never happen again."
Her brain screamed "What!?" and all of that righteous fury she'd saved up dissipated into thin air. There was no way this was some kind of diversion tactic. She'd been around him long enough to know when he was acting, and this wasn't it. She could think of only one thing to say to get more information out of him.
"Nick, I'm g-"
"I'm well aware of that carrots. I'm not a bigot so let's just move on with our lives." She wasn't able to get much information, but she saw a little glimpse of emotion behind it, which she hadn't seen all morning out of him.
She watched him with stern conviction. He eventually noticed this, and after a brief sigh, he gave her a comforting grin. It was sincere, and it was all she need to see. She perked back up and hopped into the seat beside him. "So, we're sitting in the back today? What's up with that?"
For a second he looked annoyed, but he didn't say anything about it. He shrugged, "guess I just felt like mixing it up once in awhile."
"Hmm, ok." She didn't lose any of her pep in the face of his stoic and pessimistic vibes. "Her name's Mary by the way."
He smirked and crossed his arms. "Judy and Mary? That's so tacky."
She playfully shoved him and swung her dangling feet as they waited for the morning meeting. It eventually went by without incident, that is until it was time for their assignments.
"Hopps, you're on the smuggler case." Bogo was pacing back and forth behind his podium, tracing down his clipboard of assignments with his finger. "Wilde I'm putting you on something else for today, you've got tundra town swat."
Judy was surprised but didn't panic. "Heh, good luck with that one slick."
"Mmm," he gave a sarcastic hum of a chuckled and hopped out of his seat. As he walked away, Judy couldn't help but think that he looked off again…
- Two weeks later-
"Hey, Nick!" He was making his way home after clocking out when she caught him on his way out. "You wanna' go get some coffee or something?" She was trying to be pleasant, and she had a big welcoming smile on.
"Naw carrots, I'm good." He didn't even turn to look at her, he just kept walking. "I'll see you on Monday."
It had been two weeks of this. She couldn't get him to talk to her for more than a minute, and he was going out of his way to avoid her whenever he could. She hadn't brought up that incident at her apartment since then because it was him who said "let's just move on with our lives," not her.
She wanted to say that she was just pissed off that he was being such an unbelievable ass, but that wouldn't be true. She was lonely without him. She was happy with her life the way it was before this, and she wanted that back. This new life where everything was on the table seemed like it would be better on paper, but she didn't know Nick would act like this.
She very quickly decided that it was going to change today…
She'd caught him only a few blocks away. He cringed at the shrill noise, knowing that he couldn't casually avoid her in this case. He took a deep breath and turned around.
"What carrots, whaddya' need?" It clearly came off like he didn't want to deal with this, and he wasn't really trying to hide that.
"Don't 'whaddya' need' me you jerk!" She must've been fed up with this. "You're avoiding me… why?"
"I'm not avoiding you."
"You liar!" It looked, to him, like she was deeply offended by a simple lie. "You got a problem with me having a girlfriend Nick?"
"I already told you," he heaved a heavily annoyed sigh. "I don't care if you're gay, that's fine by me."
"Then what is it, Nick? Cuz' obviously it's something!" She crossed her arms and stomped her foot. Her ears went flush against the back of her head, and her next words were said in as serious of a tone as she could possibly muster. "I'm not leaving here… until you tell me what's wrong with you…"
He returned her serious glare. When she didn't falter he had to look away, and when he returned his gaze to her he sighed again. "Fine…"
It looked like she was preparing herself as he took a deep breath. He ran a hand through his scalp to calm his nerves, and once he was ready, he came right out with it.
"I had feelings for you."
Her angry scowl vanished and was replaced with shock and disbelief. Her eyes combed the ground while she tried to digest it, then she looked back up. "…Had?"
"Still do." He felt there was no point in hiding it. Now neither of them had secrets to keep. "You're my perfect mate, and I can't take it back now."
"Perfect-… what!?" She must've had no idea what he was talking about, and he couldn't blame her for it.
"It's a fox thing, primal, savage… I guess." He felt stupid using that word to describe himself in the twentieth century, but as ridiculous as it sounded it was no less true. "Foxes find one mate in their lifetime, and if anything happens to that mate they'll never find another one."
This new information was a hard pill for her to swallow, and she stood there, with nothing to say for several minutes. Nick decided to wrap this up and be on his way, the sooner the better.
"So, I don't have a problem with your sexual preference." He waited until she came out of her distraction, what he had to say next was the most important of all. "I just- … I need time to mourn."
He waited for a second, but she still didn't say anything. She opened her mouth like she was going to, but no words came out. That was his opportunity to make his exit. He walked away and didn't look back.