Engine Trouble

By: Discord

A/N: Who knew an aging, clunker of a car could bring a predator and prey together? Nick is a mechanic who meets a customer desperately trying to get one more year out of her rabbit-sized vehicle. A tale told mostly in drabbles (chapters less than 1,000 words). If short scenes aren't your thing, or you don't think a true tale can be told in snippets, leave now. Objections to the length of my chapters are not needed nor welcome.

If you're staying, hello darling! You're in for a bit of AU-Fluff that's (hopefully) fun and diverting. This is such a silly, trite idea, but I wanted to see this pair in something besides ZPD uniforms. It's been awhile since I've watched the movie, so forgive any mistakes.

Chapter One – No Appointment

A car pulled into the repair shop's driveway, shuddering as steam hissed from its battered hood.

A small bunny prayed at its steering wheel, gripping tightly as her ears drooped low. "Please…," she begged. "Please make it," wide eyes, shining with hope, spotted the garage's open door. "You're almost there. Come on, you can do it," she urged.

The car gave an unenthusiastic wheeze and coasted up to the building, stopping with a sputtered rattle.

"Good girl," Judy leaned over and kissed the dash before trying her driver side door. It stuck – as always – and she scrambled to the unrolled window, hopping out.

The smell of oil and gasoline bombarded her, and she scrunched up her sensitive nose, searching for a customer entrance.

"Looks like you waited a bit long with this," came a voice from inside one of the shadowed bays. A fox stepped into view, red fur dirty and grease smeared, wearing a mechanic's jumpsuit. He wiped his paws on an even dirtier rag and approached with a raised eyebrow. "Is he here to be scrapped?"

Judy drew back. She hadn't been in Zootopia long – six months had seen her gain a new job and new apartment, if not any new friends – but some habits were too old for a city full of diversity to change. She straightened and lifted her ears, trying to seem taller – a trick Dad had taught her if she met any foxes out at night. "He's a she," she said, backing up further. "And no," she bumped into the car door, flattening her round tail against its many dents. "She just needs a tune up."

A second eyebrow joined the first, and the fox whistled, "Whoo, boy."

Judy squinted to see his nametag through the dark smudges across his chest; he seemed more grime than actual mammal.

He caught her stare and stepped forward, crossing the distance. "It's Nick," he said, extending his arm. "Nick Wilde."

She hesitated for a moment, staring at the clawed fingers hanging in the air, and then shook the proffered hand. "Judy Hopps."

The fox ducked, hiding back a grin. "Hopps?"

She didn't find it funny. "It's a big name in Bunnyburrow."

"I bet."

Judy huffed, crossing arms over her chest. "Do you have any openings today?" The car made a mysterious ticking sound beside her, and she ignored it, trying to keep the desperation from her face.

The mechanic cast a glance to the tendrils of smoke escaping from the front of the grill. "For this? I'd need an open week."

Her arms fell. "R-Really?" Her ears followed, crestfallen.

Nick saw the sheen of frustrated tears well and tucked the rag in his back pocket, holding out a hand. "Well now, don't worry. We can squeeze you in."

The bunny blinked, quickly wiping her eyes.

"I have a few minutes to spare, but I can't make any promises."

New panic rose in Judy's throat. He was going to look under the hood? He was a-a… fox! What if he broke something on purpose to hike up her bill?! She looked around, hoping to spot the owner. "I-Is there anyone else… who might know… m-more about… compact models?"

The softness left his face. "They're my specialty," he said flatly.

"O-Oh," Judy nodded. "Okay."

Nick motioned behind him to a side door. "You can sit in the waiting room if you want. We have magazines and—."

She shook her head. "No thank you," hiking her chin high, she managed to make her words crisp. "I'll be fine out here."

He frowned. "Suit yourself Carrots."