It wasn't the leaves that bothered him.

They had been falling for a while now, dappling the streets in colours faded from vibrant green to russet hues. Nor was it that soft bite in the air, creeping up through the nose as a promise of the chill to come. It wasn't even his dense fur growing in, like a long forgotten itch, taking its damn time too, as always. No, it was none of that.

Nick sighed, and turned up his collar against the cool autumn breeze. A ways further down the street, his partner was writing up yet another rodent chauffeur. The little guy was yelling something he couldn't really make out against the wind, but he had a hunch it would involve the words 'unfair treatment' and 'discrimination'. Judy just gave the yammering rat a raised eyebrow, before pointedly looking at his sports car, all but buried under the leaves that caused the accident in the first place. Autumn was though for the more vertically challenged species of Zootopia, but until the flying car was invented, the seasonal lockdown law and the accompanying free public transportation was the one and only way to go.

Ticket handed out, the rat stomped off muttering darkly, the effect slightly ruined by an oncoming leaf blowing straight into his face. His rabbit turned to look at him as he sauntered over, shooting him an exasperated grin. Focus now. He returned the smile, handing over her coffee.

"Want to bet I'll have to write him up again before the first snow?" She accepted gratefully, taking a careful sip.

He gave a non-committal hum, falling in next to her in their steady copper gait. It had been a slow season thus far, and they had drawn patrol duty, again. He didn't mind. Not that, at least. They worked the beat in comfortable silence, eyes and ears open to the city around them. So far it had been a slow day. Paperwork should be easy, for once. The wind picked up slightly, chasing yellow and red leaves alongside their path, some of them brushing his tail.

"Want to cross here? We can cut through the park and see if we need to call in any potential rodent blocks." His bunny was looking at him for confirmation. Stop it. He pinched his eyes shut in a silent growl, grateful for the sunglasses. Carrots. Ju-Hopps. Fluff, if you don't mind getting punched in the arm.

He looked down at her with an easy smile. "Sure Carrots."

She crossed the street in three easy hops and he lagged behind, giving him the two seconds needed to shake his head real quick, taking a deep breath for good measure. The chill in the air did help, at least. She waited for him to catch up, shooting him that happy smile he'd come to know so well. "Don't you just love autumn?"

"It has its moments." They turned towards the park as the wind picked up again, ruffling her fur. She was moulting quite fast now, he noticed. Almost completely switched out between the ears and down her neck, towards her back. He snapped his eyes forward as soon as he realised he was staring. Oh, it has its moments alright. Too many of them. He grimaced behind his sunglasses again, looking up at the already dipping sun. "Personally, I can't wait for spring to start."

She turned to him in complete surprise. "Really? Autumn is barely halfway! We still have winter to look forward to as well."

"Don't remind me", he said flatly.

She shook her head in mild befuddlement. "Never knew you minded the cold so much." She smiled slyly. "Don't tell me you're not looking forward to tossing a few snowballs at your favourite partner, at least."

He shrugged. "If I wanted snow, I'd visit Tundratown. I like my city centre warm, thank you."

"As if that thick new fur of yours isn't going to keep you nice and insolated." She gave him a playful punch. "Don't worry partner, I'll find ways to keep you warm. How do morning jogs sound?"

"I wouldn't know. But feel free to share the intel once I get to work at a more normal time, morning freak." Just for that, she punched him again.

He sighed a breath of relief once he was inside. After the hustle and bustle of the ZPD, his apartment was deliciously silent. He made quick work of his clothes, pausing in the kitchen only for a drink of water, before burying himself in the cold blankets of his bed. He knew he should eat, but he just wasn't hungry. Not for food, anyway.

When he closed his eyes she was already there, wearing a warm smile and absolutely nothing else. He groaned, body tensing as he realized her smell was still all over him from their workday. He should have showered. In his mind, she gave him one of those slow, sly smiles. Or not. He imagined pulling her close and nuzzling her neck, concentrating on that lingering smell, on the way her fur was changing these days, wondering how it would feel under his paws as he traced her just so, starting at the base of her ears and over her neck, dipping down and down… would she smile? Shudder, even?


He whined, deep in his throat, smothering the sound in his covers, hidden from the world.

It was going to be a long, long season…