"In five miles, take exit two forty-nine 'b' on the right." The feminine electronic voice of the GPS announced. It was a pleasant break in the long silence. The last thing the fox wanted to do was succumb to highway hypnosis, or worse, dozing off while he was behind the wheel. Normally he would have the radio on to have some sort of noise in the car, whether it be news, sports, or music, to keep his mind occupied with something and not wander into oblivion. Though he eventually gave up seeking for a radio station hours ago, and despite entering another urban area, he did not feel like searching for stations once more. He also did not have a certain rabbit in the seat next to him to have an idle conversation with.
Being late at night, there was not much to look at, except the road, the few vehicles on it, and whatever else his headlights illuminated. The interior of his car was dark only lit up by the dim glow of the dashboard lights. On the passenger seat was the fast food bag that he ate dinner out of after stopping at the last drive-thru; Now serving as a garbage bag. In the center console cup holders sat a pair of stacked empty paper cups stuffed with napkins, beside that was a travel mug, all of which contained coffee at some point in on his trip. In his door is an already consumed red bottle of drink designed to give the consumer several hours worth of energy.
Despite consuming all the energy-rich liquid, he was beginning to feel drowsy. He looked over at his dashboard clock to compare it to his navigation device's estimated arrival time. Good, he thought, only about ten minutes until I reach the Howliday Inn. A grin appeared on his face as he felt pleasure from knowing he was about to complete the longest leg of his trip, which included over seven hundred miles of traveling since he checked out of his last hotel.
As the sedan crested the hill, a city skyline appeared in the night sky. Only visible because of the scattered illuminated spots made out to be windows. Enough were lit that one could mentally construct the outlines of the buildings. The glowing red beacons on top also aided in determining the height of the buildings. It was similar to Zootopia. A great handful of skyscrapers massed at the center, then the buildings tapered out in size and melted into the sea of soft street lights that sprawled across the horizon. However, unlike Zootopia it had no climate based districts. Animals just had to make do with the region's natural climate. It also had outlying skyscrapers dotted around the area as a result of the city's lax zoning code and city planning.
Coming down the hill, he got a good look at the highway ahead of him as it disappeared into the impressive city. It spread twelve lanes across and was characteristically empty for a Sunday night.
"In two miles, use the right two lanes to take exit two forty-nine 'b', then keep to the left." He then proceeded to follow the instructions and two miles down the road he exited the freeway and began to decelerate down the ramp. White noise created by the rolling of the tires had gone unnoticed until now as it began to disappear and made way for the low hum of the idling engine as the car slowed down to a halt at a stop sign down below. "Turn left onto Cherry Wood Avenue, then your destination will be on the right."
Automatic doors whooshed open as the fox walked into the lobby with his suitcase in tow and was greeted by a receptionist. "Good evening sir, welcome to the Howliday Inn of San Antleronio."
"I have a reservation under Wilde," Nick replied after he approached the receptionist's desk.
The receptionist then looked at her computer as she searched the reservations. "You have a room with a single queen size bed for three nights?" The fox nodded. "Alright, here is your key. Your room is two seventeen on the second floor, and breakfast is from six till nine. You have a great night."
"Thank you, you too," Nick said before he made his way to his room.
He slid his key into the door which then reacted with a green light and the audible click of the lock disengaging. He was greeted by a cold dark room and an air conditioner that had been to set to full blast. There was nothing special about the room by any means. The bathroom was next to the entrance as he walked in. The bed was situated in the center of the room on the same wall as the bathroom. Across from that was a dresser with a television. On the same wall in the corner near the window was a desk and chair, and between the two pieces of furniture was a microwave stacked on top of a small refrigerator. On the desk was the all important coffee pot. It was an auto drip pot with a carafe just big enough to make one cup of coffee. In the other corner was a floor lamp, and between that and the bed was a nightstand.
The fox wanted to settle in and rest for the day ahead of him, but there was one task he still needed to carry out before he went to bed. He made himself comfortable on the bed, reclining against the backboard and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He scrolled down his contact list until he reached the contact labeled "Carrots." He tapped the muzzle time button and waited for her to pick up.
She did not take long to pick up the phone and he was greeted with her beautiful amethyst eyes. "Hey Carrots, I'm checked into my hotel."
"Good, I was beginning to worry about when you would get there." She said with a sleepy smile.
"Yeah, I had a long drive today. Luckily it's the last stop for this crazy 'PR' tour." Nick let out an exhausted sigh.
For the past month and a half, Nick, along with several other officers from other cities have been speaking at public relations events in all the participating cities. The goal of the event is to help mend relationships between citizens and their local law enforcement, as well as act as a recruitment tool to show that anybody could become a police officer. Ideally, chief Bogo wanted to send both Nick and Judy, but with the family, they have to take care of, he could only send one, and opted to send Nick. Unfortunately for Nick, the tour started in Zootopia, which means he would have to go the entire duration of it without spending time with the bunny he loved.
"You know, the least Chief could have done was lobbied for a tour bus so we wouldn't have to drive ourselves across the whole damn country," Nick spoke with a hint of frustration in his voice. He then decided to change the topic to get that frustration off his mind, "Chief is getting up there in age. I wouldn't be surprised if he retired in the next few years. Maybe you could try and get yourself appointed to that position. I think you'd make a really good chief."
"We'll see about that." She said with a smile and an eye roll. "It would be nice to climb up the ranks some. Pay would be a lot better, and it would be easier to pay off the mortgage."
"Is that dad?" Nick heard a small voice shouting in the background.
"Yes, sweetheart, come talk to him," Judy said as she turned her head to look at her son.
Being in an inter-species relationship has a few drawbacks. The major one being the inability to procreate with the one you are in said relationship with. Both Nick and Judy understood this with Nick proposed to her. That really only meant they had two options when it came to starting a family.
The first option being adoption. Not too long before their third anniversary, Judy had won a battle with cancer. Not long after it, she decided that she wanted to raise some children before something like that ever happened again. So they adopted their son, a fox who was two at the time. He had hazel eyes and a burgundy pelt that was a few shades darker than Nick's.
"Hey buddy, aren't you supposed to be in bed?" Nick asked with a smile.
"Mom said I could stay up 'til you called." He said as he looked back to his mother for confirmation, who only held in a small giggle.
Nick focused his attention on Judy, "Well, mom, keep spoiling him like that and I won't be his favorite anymore." He smirked. All Judy did in return is roll her eyes.
"When you comin' home dad?" His son asked.
"Well," Nick began, "whenever you start missing me when I'm away for a while, just remember to take a look around, I'll be the sunshine in your hair, the shadow on the ground, and your imaginary friend. Then, when you say your prayers, whether it's before bed, or at church or before dinner, just keep me in them and you won't miss me; because I'm already there."
His son just stared at him for a moment before asking his question again. "Okay, but when you comin' home?"
Nick chuckled to himself. He knows that only being eight years old, his son's not going to read between the lines very much. Maybe one day when he's older he will understand; if he remembers that is. Maybe Nick will just have to drill it into his head so he will remember.
"Well kiddo, I'll see you when you go to visit your grandparents. I won't be gone for much longer. Now go get some rest so you will have a lot of energy when you see them."
His son's face lit up. "Alright, goodnight dad."
"Good night buddy."
With that, he handed the phone back to his mother. "Go get in bed honey, I'll be in there in a moment to tuck you in and say our prayers." And with that, he left the room.
"Hey is Ashleigh still up?" Nick asked.
"No, I put her in her crib about an hour ago. She's fast asleep."
The second option for children would be to go to a fertility clinic. About three years ago, the couple came across a vixen who offered to be a surrogate to bear their daughter. While they couldn't have a child that was related to both of them, they could have a child that was related to at least one of them and they took the chance when it presented itself. Especially since Nick came from a small family and was an only child himself. He desired to have someone to carry on his genes while Judy was not as concerned for her genes since many of her brothers and sisters already have children. There is no chance of the family line ending anytime soon.
Despite having the two children, being a bunny, she still desired to bear her own child. To have a bunny to raise in her family that was almost entirely made up of foxes. They chose a fox for their first child because foxes are hard to find homes for, and there are still plenty out there that need one. It is almost impossible to find a bunny in a shelter since they always have some sort of family to take care of them.
"You know maybe we could talk about raising a third child sometime after we get back from your parents," Nick suggested.
"Yeah, maybe," Judy said. "You know, this might sound selfish of me, but I'd like to have a bunny. Not adopt one, but one I gave birth to." Her phone was now propped up on the table while she tucked her legs under her arms in the chair she sat.
"And that's perfectly understandable," Nick reassured her. "I think your mother would be thrilled by the idea. You know how much she wanted grandchildren from you."
"Yeah," she responded looking off to the side before moving on. "I really miss you, darling. I can't wait to wrap my arms around you again, and to feel you beside me in bed. I really miss the way your lips taste on mine."
"Just remember hun," Nick started, "like I told Caleb, I'm already there. I'm the beat in your heart, and I'm the moonlight shining down, and as long as you can feel the love that we share, I'll always be there. Whether I'm right next to you in bed, or we're a thousand miles apart."
"But when you comin' home?" Judy giggled.
"Har, har," Nick chuckled, "way to ruin a heartfelt moment." The beamed at each other. "I'll do everything in my power to make it home for our anniversary. Ten years is a milestone, and I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"I know you wouldn't, baby," She said.
"And maybe I can put this leftover per diem towards something special. I've been watching what I spend so I could." Nick said. "You know, your parent's house is only nine hundred miles away from here. If I rest well and drink lots of coffee, I could make it in one trip and spend an extra day with your parents."
"No Nick, drive both days. I want to know you are driving home safe and well rested."
"Okay," Nick complied, "Well on that note, I should let you go. I have a long day of 'PRing' and you have a long day of breaking in the new minivan. I'll call you in the morning." He said as he started to lose his battle with sleep.
She rolled her eyes. "We'll see about that Slick, we're two hours ahead of you. I'll let you know when we're at my parent's house. Good night, be safe."
"Good night, you stay safe as well."
"I love you, Nick."
"I love you too, Judy," Nick said as he reluctantly ended the call. Now he was too tired and too comfortable to change out of his clothes he has been wearing all day. He had a heart warming smile on his face as he let the slow embrace of sleep take hold.
If you enjoyed this story, please take a moment to glance at my other Zootopia stories. They are all in the same respective timeline, but they can all be read as stand-alone, and they are all based on one country song or another.