Chapter Eight: Pure Imagination
Come with me, then you'll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you'll see
Into your imagination
-'Pure Imagination' by Gene Wilder
They say that bunnies have a lot of energy and that they generally tended to be light sleepers. Well, if that were true, then Judy had even more energy and slept even less than most bunnies who fit the stereotype did. There was something about sleeping that she wasn't a fan of. It always felt like wasting time somehow. Yes, she knew it was necessary and she never exactly deprived her body of sleep or anything, but she had this irrational fear that she might miss out on something amazing.
So, she decided to put this energy to good use and take a walk, maybe pick up breakfast for her and Nick in the meantime. It had been too hot to wear the jumper or the pants she wore yesterday, so she settled on borrowing one of Nick's shirts. Even the smallest one still looked like a dress on her, but she didn't mind much, especially when hardly any mammals came out so early in this district. The Nocturnal District didn't have a 'daytime' per se, but thanks to technology (courtesy of Animalia), they're able to mimic dawn and dusk at the very least. They tended to avoid the harsh light of afternoons or bright mornings, for the sake of the more sensitive mammals out here. Not everyone decided to accommodate their eyesight like Nick did.
Speaking of which, she wondered if Nick's dad had the same problem. Well, he probably did, but it occurred to Judy that even though she's spent a night hearing a lot about Felix Reynard, she didn't know him, and the bothered her a lot more than it should. Well, he is an important part of her best friend's life. It's only natural to want to know these things, right? Especially when Nick already seems to hold him in such a high esteem.
...A little too high, now that she thought about it.
Now that all the fun and excitement has left her brain, Judy was able to think of this from a more objective point of view and she realized that while Nick could only seem to talk about how great his father was, he never explained why his father had left in the first place. She guessed that it had to have been a good reason since Nick forgave him.
But was that reason one that Wendy Wilde knew? Sure, Mrs. Wilde wasn't in the best state of mind, but even before, she avoided talking to Nick about Felix. There must have been a reason. Wendy Wilde was one of the sweetest mammals ever, always talking about how much she loved roses and how proud she was of her son. If Felix's reason to leave really was forgivable, why not tell his wife? Why bother making his son hate him?
But that's what unnerved her so much. As much as she wanted Nick to be happy and yes, she knew that the whole thing was her idea in the first place, well...she didn't want him to get hurt. Not that his father will do that...or maybe he might, she didn't know. She just wished that he'd be careful. It was good for him to be optimistic but she still needed him to be reasonable and keep his feet on the ground.
Especially now with the recent cases...it was so easy to forget the sudden surge in Night Howler-involved cases when they were in Bunnyburrow. With her family, everyone excited to see them, the worst thing that could happen to anyone in that little town was if someone stole some sweets from the local bakery. It was nice, but Judy knew she would have gone insane if she stayed a bit longer. Eventually, her mind always went back to the Night Howler resurgence and as of now, Ronno Doe's kidnapping.
Something about it just didn't feel right. Clawhauser kept her updated and told her that several of her fellow officers were sent to Barker Street from time to time to monitor the family, but nothing unusual ever happened, so they were all slowly beginning to dismiss Ronno Doe's attempted kidnapping as a one-time thing. But Judy wasn't so convinced.
Why on earth would anyone kidnap a child in daytime when they're with their parents? That would suggest that they were desperate to get the child. But why let Ronno go? Surely, they knew the cops would have gotten involved. Maybe they didn't anticipate Nick and Judy to be so close to the crime scene? But still, why take the chance? What makes this fawn so important yet so expendable at the same time?
With all these thoughts jumbling her mind, Judy took a deep breath through her nose and released it, savoring the cool autumn air. She knew she shouldn't think so much about it, but she couldn't help it. The Night Howler resurgence and Ronno Doe were both very odd cases that she had to deal with. Granted, she knew Chief Bogo now wanted her attention on those Night Howlers more than the Doe case, especially since they've heard nothing odd coming out of that recently. But she wouldn't let her guard down. Not with the Howlers or with the Doe's.
And besides, after two years of being in the ZPD, Judy has learned to always expect both the best and the worst, to prepare herself. While she always silently rooted for the best, she now knew that sometimes, things might not work out the way you want them to and life just might throw you a curveball. So now, she took special care in taking precautions she once never did. She liked to think now that she was older, she was a little wiser and a little less reckless. Oh, that isn't to say she isn't completely reckless or that she wasn't completely naive, but it was an improvement.
The Night Howler resurgence initially caused fear at first, but now everyone's dismissed it as some sort of drug addiction plant. Even though the vaccination was created, Judy could never forget what those things did to good mammals. What it almost did to Nick. What it almost did to Zootopia. It was so easy not to think of what might have been: Bellweather stays in power, her plan succeeds, predators are repressed and as hated as they were during the time of Judy's parents and grandparents...What would that have meant for Nick and Judy? Would Judy have stayed as a carrot farmer, standing idly by as mammals she knew to be good suffered? And Nick...would he have even been alive had Bellweather stayed in power?
A cold shiver slid down her spine and she felt the need to hug herself, terrified of the very thought of what probably happened in another universe. Her life was so idyllic now that the thought of it being anything else was a nightmare.
As for why the Doe case effected her so much, well...she didn't know. She's always believed that everyone should be allowed to do what makes them happy as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. This included loving who you wanted to love. She can't imagine the hurdles Jane Doe and John Kingsley had to go through to be where they are now, but she respected them. Not only because Jane Doe was, after all, a survivor of an abusive relationship, but because they knew the risks yet they stood by each other's side the whole time. Call it the 'romantic' in Judy, but that was exactly the kind of relationship she wanted: teamwork, always having each other's backs, a sense of 'us against the world but we'll win because we've got each other'. It was beautiful and adventurous and everything Judy considered romantic.
But there was another part of it that did effect her more than she cared to admit...the whole interspecies relationship thing just reminded her that while some may not be against it, some may not want to go for it themselves.
Nick, for instance. While he brought it up initially, she had the feeling that he thought that John Kingsley was in the right for wanting to leave. While Judy understood John's position, she also didn't understand who wouldn't fight for something they wanted so deeply.
And that only reminded her of a more positive thing to think about: Nick apparently liked someone. The thought somehow managed to both delight her yet caused her discomfort. She wasn't sure yet if she was a vixen or not, but from the sound of their conversation, it seemed like she wasn't a vixen and Nick wasn't sure if the trouble was worth it.
Well, that's at least one problem she can solve right away: if Nick really cares about this girl, then Judy might be able to convince him that she's worth it. But that only made her think of what this could mean: Nick would be less available. Sure, Judy had other friends, but that didn't mean she wouldn't miss him.
It did make her think, though. If Nick was so busy with his love life, maybe Judy should start hers again. She was never the type of bunny who pulled a pillowcase over her head and pretended to be a bride, or the kind who thought of marriage and kids straight out of high school. Did she have urges?...Well, of course, she did, she's a bunny. She's never actually had the time to act on them.
Once, she thought that there was something wrong with her. She hasn't had a crush on someone who wasn't a fictional character from a book, show or movie, unless you counted that childhood crush she had on Bobby Cat from the first to the sixth grade, but now that she thinks about it, maybe she just liked the idea of having someone to 'save', to be her 'damsel-in-distress', so to speak. Even her few dates had been more out of obligation than a genuine desire for the other person.
She always thought: focus on her dreams, family and friends instead. Love will come eventually and if it didn't, well, that was fine by her. She had the love of her friends and family and that was just fine for her. But she never really did give this 'dating thing' a fair shot. She's had a few offers for dates and she knew she wasn't unattractive, but to say she just wasn't interested was an understatement: she just never really thought about it, period.
'Hmm...Judy Hopps dating. Now that's new.' Judy mused and chuckled lightly. So many new things were happening to many mammals these days: Benjamin's got a secret boyfriend (who she still hasn't met, by the way), Finnick's got a job at the Palm as a saxophone player for the jazz band (and wow, was he talented), Fru Fru recently moved with her husband and child to one of the upper class areas in Little Rodentia and now, Nick's reuniting with his father and might get a potential new girlfriend.
Well, she might as well try something new, as well.
The crisp leaves below Judy's feet always made pleasant crunching sounds that relaxed her. Her walk took her to the woods behind Nick's apartment, where the ground was painted by orange, yellow and red leaves and the trees were tall and colored like snow. She loved how peaceful and beautiful autumn could be. She silently reveled in her new resolution, finding it funny that for the first time, she was thinking about sorting her love life out. Fru Fru and Benjamin will have a field day with this. But still, she swore to herself that this wouldn't get in the way of her job whatever the cost. Which, speaking of, she might pop by the ZPD today and check in on the hyena they caught and maybe send Jane Doe an e-mail.
But her plans were quickly interrupted when her sharp ears heard a rustle in the leaves that had not been her own, nor could it have been birds since the Nocturnal District didn't have any birds.
She sprung into action, swiftly following the sound and trying not to make too much noise with her feet, which was nearly impossible, but she was confident her speed would be able to catch whatever made the noise before it fled.
To her surprise, the noise suddenly stopped. Not one sound. Still, she kept her defensive position. She had no weapons on her, but she had her own strength and wiliness. She bent her knees and tightened her fists, keeping her breath shallow and her eyes peeled.
"Look out!" a voice screamed from above, causing Judy to move away and whoever the voice belonged to ended up falling into a generous and lucky pile of leaves.
Judy couldn't help but cringe as she saw the small body fall. It wouldn't cause any damage, but it was still a nasty fall. The body had been hidden amongst the leaves, leaving a large lump at the trunk of a tree.
Cautiously, Judy stepped forward, with every intention of moving the leaves and seeing who it was and what were they doing here. But instead, a pare of white paws peaked out of the pile and pushed the leaves away, doing the job for her..
The curtain of leaves lifted up to reveal a...hare. A snow white hare with blue eyes and black stripes on his cheeks like a tiger's. Upside down. His ears sprawled on the ground and his legs leaning on the trunk of the tree.
"Well. I'll not be doing that again." the hare claimed to no one in particular. She couldn't help but notice the fancy accent, guessing he was from the Animal Kingdom or something like that. What was he doing in Zootopia? No, what was he doing here in general?
She quietly observed him as he slowly picked off the leaves from his fur. Well, he's not a threat, as far as she can tell. He had no weapons in his possession, not any that he could hide anyway. She can't imagine where he would hide weapons in those trousers, white collared shirt and black coat with a red lining on the inside, one that looked like it belonged more to a magician than a...well, she didn't even know what he was. Was he some kind of magician who got lost?
With a grace and agility of someone who had years of experience, he gracefully kicked his feet from the tree, lifted his upper body up with his paws and landed on his feet. Before she could say anything, it seemed like he had just noticed her presence and he quickly gave her an excited smile, "Oh! Hello there!..If it makes me look any better, I can assure you this sort of thing does not happen very often."
Okay, so he didn't have weapons. That still didn't mean he wasn't a threat. But eventually, Judy's more caring instincts kicked in, "Sir, are you okay?"
"Never felt better, actually!" he chirped, as if he didn't fall from the sky. Her eyes briefly trailed up to see that the tree was climbable, but indeed very high, making her wonder just how far he had gone up and...well, why was he climbing so early. And in such a suit. She doubted that he was out for a jog.
"Any reason you were out here climbing, er...trees?" Judy asked, using a gentler voice and careful not to scare the hare just in case he was drunk or fidgety. Oh, who was she kidding? He wasn't drunk. No drunk could preform acrobatics-style jumps and talk so articulately. But he did seem to have a lot of energy and also seemed to be a flight risk.
"That's classified. Sorry." he gave a shrug, then he burst out laughing when he saw the bunny's impatient expression.
"I suppose you wouldn't believe me if I told you that I was watching the beautiful sky?" he grinned. She didn't know what it was about this guy, but his friendliness was contagious. It made Judy think that he was just some guy she bumped into on the streets one day instead of...well, a guy that fell from the sky.
"In a suit?" Judy asked.
"Hey, that's not fair, I wear suits everywhere. Dates, sports, work, even home, sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly dashing. Which I often do." he winked.
Judy assessed how high that tree was in her mind. If he was high enough, he could have been trying to find or watch someone, especially since you could see the buildings close by.
"Sir, are you some kind of peeping tom because if you are-" Judy began, in her authoritative voice, which she knew was a little less impressive when she wasn't wearing a uniform or had any visible weapons on her. Still, she kept her head high and her back straight, hands on her hips and ears stretching to the sky as if to compete with the jackrabbit's obviously taller ears.
"Peeping Tom? Excuse me, Madam, I'll have you know that my mother raised me to be a perfect gentlerabbit! Well, she would have if I had one anyway." he insisted so quickly and happily that Judy barely had the time to feel sad him, but it was certainly something she'd remember, "Besides, who are you to judge? I'm not the one walking around in my walk-of-shame shirt!"
Then the little bunny turned into a furious shade of red that caused the hare himself to laugh, "This is not a walk-of-shame shirt! This is my friend's shirt!"
The hare gave a knowing smile, "Ah, the old 'just a friend' trope. Been there, done that, know how it ends."
"What, so guys and girls can't be friends?" Judy asked, slightly annoyed at the repeated answer she gave to that repeated question.
"Sure they can. I just doubt you are. You don't smell enough like a normal bunny." he reasoned.
Judy was about to respond, but then she realized that he was playing on her emotions to distract her. She immediately shook her head and went back to the topic. "You still didn't answer my question: What are you doing here?"
He shrugged, but even that he managed to do so elegantly that Judy found herself questioning how was that possible when the hare just had an embarrassing fall. "Could be the same as you. Lost in my thoughts. Loving nature. It's not my fault you're suddenly seeking action."
"Oh, please." he interrupted her, but not unkindly. He gave a gentle smile, like the kind a parent would give to a child after he knew that the child was lying. "Your first reaction to see an injured hare was to observe me, carefully looking at what I was wearing to ensure I'm not hiding anything and even then, you keep your defensive position, your ears upright and your paws still in a fist or sometimes they ghost towards your hip, which I'm assuming is where you normally keep a weapon of some sort, probably a gun given how you curl your paw that way. And I don't know if you realize it, but you even started sniffing the air, like you were expecting to smell something. You were waiting for danger. You still are."
Speechless, Judy just stared at him with surprised eyes, causing the jackrabbit to laugh. He was so used to other mammals being surprised at him that it became a joke overtime. Truthfully, he expected her next words to be nothing but stammers and angry accusations or even denial, anything to discredit him or make herself seem tougher. What she said next was the opposite.
"And what about you?" Judy interrogated. Not angrily, not even in a way that might scare someone. Truth is...she was just curious. "You're too observant, energetic and conscious to be just another drunk who got stuck in a tree. You're too open to be a criminal, especially since you should have been afraid the moment you realized that I was used to holding guns and paw-to-paw fighting, but you're confident enough to not perceive me as a threat. Your fancy clothes suggest that you're too wealthy to be a homeless mammal, but judging from the dirt on that suit and the leaves in your uncombed fur, you've been out here all night. So you're obviously here for a reason and it's not for a nature walk."
Well, now, it was the jackrabbit's turn to be speechless. He expected her to be some kind of typical bunny who tried too hard to be tough and would be all brawn and no brains, but what do you know? The little bunny was more than just a pretty face.
"Pretty and smart. Are you sure that's not a walk-of-shame shirt?" he laughed.
"Oh, enough with the shirt!" Judy exasperated.
"And now you're both irritated and amused. You bunnies really do live up to that reputation of being emotional." he mused, "Well, alright. I suppose you've put up with me long enough to know: if you must know, I was searching for something."
"Okay...?" Judy asked, "Could you be more specific?"
"I was told that the soil in the Nocturnal Districts' woods could make a particular plant grow. I was curious to see who would want to make them grow. That's all." he finished with an innocent, child-like smile.
This was how the hare knew he wasn't just dealing with anyone: a normal person would assume that a good-looking hare like him in his suit looking for plants in the forest is probably a romantic looking for flowers. Or perhaps he's looking for a medicinal herb. Or a particular plant that gives out spices he could use to cook.
Either way, they would not immediately jump to the conclusion that the bunny before him did.
"Are you...talking about Night Howlers?" she asked.
The jackrabbit's innocent smile fell. For the first time since she met him, he suddenly looked serious. His eyebrows furrowed and he stared at her with an almost frightening intensity, had Judy not seen the very same eyes gleam like a child only two seconds ago.
"What do you know about the midnicampum holicithias?" he asked. No, demanded, more like.
"That's classified. Sorry." she answered cheekily. She just couldn't resist giving him a taste of his own medicine.
But this suddenly became very interesting. Looking for Night Howlers here, huh? He looked too well-kept to be one of the dealers. She doubted that he was the kingpin, as whoever he was probably wouldn't go trudging around in a forest looking for them. He said earlier he was looking for the ones who would want to grow Night Howlers. Perhaps he was looking to steal the Howlers and give the current kingpin a run for his money.
Unexpectedly, which she ironically came to expect out of him, the hare's lips merely quirked into a cheeky smile, "Oh, I see what you did there...Well, if we're both on classified missions, then I guess there's no harm in us looking together, now is there?"
Judy hesitated at first, but then she realized that whoever this guy was, he was after Night Howlers. Whatever his reasons, it was safer to keep him close.
"Sure, why not." she smiled, making a mental note to unclench her fists so he would trust her a little bit more.
"Well, then! No time to lose!" he clapped his hands together, offering Judy a quirky grin, "Oh, by the way, the name's Jack. Jack Savage."
"That can't be your real name..." Judy insisted, "It sounds like something a kid picks out of a comic book."
"A name's just a name, cutie, it can be whatever you want it to be." Jack replied.
"Don't call me cute!" Judy protested.
"Why not? You can call me cute, if you want." Jack asked, confused at how offended she seemed but still making a note not to do it again, "Anyways, I guess you can tag along if you want. Do everything I tell you, don't ask stupid questions and don't wander off."
"Excuse me?" Judy exclaimed, but the rabbit had already began to stroll away, ignoring her. "Hey! Get back here!"
Jack took a look at her and gave a delighted laugh, "Ah! I knew you were looking for action!"
This may be the oddest rabbit she'd ever met. He was just so amusing and odd to her that she would rather talk to him and be his friend than to question him about what he knew. He seemed so childish and odd and moved and talked like he never felt fear or worry in his life, yet she knew he was smart. Or at the very least, perceptive. So what would a hare like him be doing in a place like this looking for Night Howlers?
Questions, questions, and not one of their answers is the one you're looking for.
"What's your name, by the way?" he asked.
"Judy Hopps." she said. She waited to see if the name had a reaction on him. While Judy's name was linked with the Night Howler case, in other countries, she was only named as 'the first bunny cop'. If he were from Zootopia or had been in Zootopia the time of the Howler crisis, he would surely recognize the name and would put two and two together. If he were there to find and take Howlers, then he would instantly know he was with a cop and panic.
But he did no such thing. Instead, his eyes wandered off to the less-dark sky in a way that Judy could describe as dreamy or utterly mad or both. "Oh, that's a brilliant name. Judy Hopps...like a name in a fairytale."
"And Jack Savage is like the name of a made-up comic book." Judy joked, "But I still get the feeling that you're more of a princess than I am."
"Ha! It's alright, though, I get the feeling that you're probably more of an action hero than I am anyway. Honestly, I don't get why nobody wants to be the princess. You laze around, someone does all the work for you and you still get your happy ending, don't you?" Jack shrugged.
"Well, some mammals want to earn their happy endings." Judy offered, "Besides, isn't it more interesting for the princess and the hero to earn their happy ending together? You know, make it a little less cliché than 'I'm only dating you because I saved you'? Give them time to grow and form a bond and fall in love?"
"Fair enough...you know, you remind me of someone." Jack said out loud again, thinking of her eyes. He rarely looked at her when he talk. In fact, he always seemed to have his head in the clouds. Almost like he didn't want to acknowledge the bunny beside him, or like it was difficult for him to look at her. "I knew there had to be a reason I liked you. Question, though, Judy Hopps, why are you scared?"
He spoke quickly. Whether it was intentional or not, it was quick enough to almost give Judy some kind of mental whiplash. Bunnies never tended to babble as much as Judy did. She wasn't so sure about the 'talkativeness' of hares, but she was sure that even for a hare, this Jack Savage seemed to talk quickly. It wasn't unwelcomed, though. Some said that Judy had too much energy and talked too fast or too much. It was nice to know she probably wouldn't have that problem with this mammal.
"I'm not scared." the way the little bunny said it, Jack had a feeling that this was a phrase she had tell to herself and to many other mammals very often.
"Of course you're not." Jack agreed. To Judy's surprise, she didn't detect any hint of sarcasm or condescension. "You're not scare of anything! You see a random hare that falls from the sky, watching him ramble on like a madmammal and look at you, calm and even acting a little friendly. So you wanna know what I think?"
"I think whatever does scare you must be absolutely terrifying." Jack simply answered, "So again, Judy Hopps, why are you scared?"
"I told you: I'm not scared." she protested.
"Yes, you are. Maybe not of me, but of something." Jack insisted, "Or otherwise, you wouldn't have thought of the Night Howlers. Or looked for traces of them on me."
"Well, maybe we should be more afraid of the Night Howlers. I feel like we forget what damage they could have done." Judy said.
"Wise words, indeed." Jack agreed solemnly. She raised her eyebrow at this. She's known him for five minutes and already she feels like the words 'Jack' and 'solemnly' didn't fit in together.
"So are you going to keep pestering me about my feelings or are you going to do what you came here to do?" Judy asked.
"How do you know that's not what I came here to do?" Jack offered.
"Is it?" Judy challenged but the joke held behind her tone.
Well, if Jack only liked her before, he sure as hell loved her now. "Of course not, do you hear yourself? But hey, save the world, save a girl, can be the same thing sometimes. Anyway, I just realized, you're more than just scared, you're a little sad about something. You're concentrating awfully hard to keep your ears up. May I ask what?"
"I..." Judy began, fully intended on telling him she wasn't sad at all. In fact, she'd just spent one of the funnest nights she's had in weeks. She wanted to tell him that she had no reason to be sad or scared.
But then the thoughts from this morning came rushing back to her. The Howlers, the Doe's, Nick's predicament...So much wrong could come out of this and she had a bad feeling about it all. But she couldn't confront anyone on this just because she was being emotional or had suspicions.
There was something so sad in her that she had buried it far down. It almost made Jack himself sad and he was never, ever sad. One day, he decided to be happy, and so he was always happy. Anything less would be too risky. Then Jack put himself in Judy's position, thought of what it would be like to be interrogated about his sadness. He felt ashamed of himself.
"Actually, you don't have to tell me." Jack decided, "Because you're right, I'm not here to talk about your feelings, but I just thought maybe you should at least consider them. Feelings are terribly confusing and terrifying things, really. They're the same things that can make you create beautiful art or make you wipe out civilizations. That, Judy Hopps, alone is reason enough to make sure you know what you're dealing with."
Judy looked at the odd rabbit beside her and she realized that he spoke like he knew exactly what he was talking about. Her ears fell in realization. They were wise words, indeed, but Judy has come to understand that wisdom never came without experience. She didn't know this hare. One thing was for sure: whoever he was, she felt a sudden urge to help him. Benjamin once said that this was a weakness of Judy's: she would go above and beyond for her friends but maybe sometimes she went a bit too far. That one day, she'd want to help someone and they might not want her help. But for all of his liveliness, the quick, subtle phrases Jack uttered like throw-away lines gave her hints that the hare was not all he seemed to be.
Just as she was about to ask what he meant, but then an odd scent hit her. Hit them both, actually. It was sweet, yet bitter and was so...floral. They both gave one brief look at each other before immediately running towards the source.
"I knew it!" Jack smiled, "Come along, Hopps! This should be interesting!"
Jack and Judy ran quickly, leaving a trail of leaves in the air behind them. As the scent grew stronger, so did the fear in Judy's stomach. Who knows what they'd find? Or who they would find?
Finally, they reached an area where the scent overpowered the air and they both stopped. Judy looked around and realized she hadn't been to this part of the woods before. There laid a small pond, almost covered with fallen leaves. Just beside the pond was a fallen tree used as some kind of bench, which Judy found to be charming in a way.
She gave one powerful sniff and confirmed that the flowers were close to the pond, "It's over there..." she said.
But Jack cringed, "Water. Why did it have to be close to water?"
"What's wrong with water?" Judy pondered.
"What isn't wrong with it?" Jack snorted. Judy would have questioned it more but then he tiptoed closer to the pond carefully. She followed his league, following the scent as it got stronger close to the outer corners of the pond. The smell emitted from something under those leaves. Jack looked at Judy and they both nodded in unison. With his paws, he counted down to three...
He quickly swiped the leaves off with his feet, expecting to see the purple petals of the midnicampum holicithias. Instead, there was nothing but a bunch of bell-shaped, snow-white flowers. Nothing unordinary. Common flowers around the Nocturnal District's woods.
Jack looked at it, confused, "Flowers?"
"Aw, these aren't Night Howlers." Judy pouted, a bit disappointed, treading closer to the flowers, leaning down and taking a closer look until Jack was behind her, "These are just ordinary forest flowers. Not an expert, though they don't grow on the surface. But they're nothing, they're just-"
Judy turned to see Jack, but to her surprise, he had just...disappeared.
"Mr. Savage? Mr. Savage!" Judy called out, "Jack?"
But he never showed up. He just left her hanging. The only thing that proved that he was with her were the pawprints he left as he ran away.
"Hey!" Judy protested, immediately running after the pawprints. But before she knew it, she was running out of the woods and the pawprints disappeared. She was surrounded by buildings again and she could even spot Nick's apartment.
"I...What just happened?!" Judy asked to no one in particular.
Again. So not helping with the 'crazy' rumors.
Nick woke up after a dreamless sleep. He wasn't usually a morning person, always feeling groggy and half-asleep until after that first cup of coffee. Today, however, he found himself stretching his arms with a smile on his face and energy that never seemed to leave after last night's events. In a temporary moment of panic, he realized that Judy wasn't beside him, but he figured she just went for her usual morning walk, since she did have a tendency of waking up in an ungodly hour.
For a while, he wondered if yesterday had just been a dream, a very cruel one. But then the wonderful realization came along that it wasn't. Everything was real. He was Officer Nick Wilde. He had friends, family, somebody to love and now a father. No matter how many times he told it to himself, a part of him just couldn't believe it.
He heard keys opening his locked door, so he got a move on and burst out of his bed without a single problem. He didn't seem tired at all.
The first thing he saw when he peered into the living room was Judy in his shirt, one that was too small for him now, holding two pairs of smoothies with one paw and holding her keys in another.
"Hey! You're up! This is early for you." Judy said, putting the keys down and handing him the blueberry smoothie while she kept her carrot strawberry smoothie.
"Did I ever tell you how much I love you?" Nick asked as he slurped down that cold, icy drink that quickly soothed his dry mouth.
"Not nearly enough." Judy answered cheekily, "You know, I just had the strangest morning..."
Nick raised his eyebrow, curious to hear the story. He and Judy both sat on his couch and he listened as Judy told an almost fantastic tale about some jackrabbit who apparently was a magician, maybe, appearing and disappearing out of nowhere. She talked about how lively and animated he was, yet how he obviously wasn't just a dumb rabbit. Still, the way she talked about it, in the woods at dawn, a mysterious hare that falls from the sky and the sudden disappearing act, if he didn't know any better, he'd think that she was telling him a fairytale.
"Hmm...Carrots, what ice cream flavor did you take last night?" Nick asked, then laughed when he saw Judy's annoyed expression.
"I knew you wouldn't believe me!" she pouted, crossing her arms and scrunching her nose.
"Oh, I'm just kidding, you know I believe you." Nick said, "Maybe we should still keep an eye on him...Looking for Night Howlers in the middle of the night is pretty suspicious."
"Yeah, but I doubt he's a criminal, but I also doubt he's just an ordinary civillian.. He was looking for Night Howlers, though. I still think we should check his file out. Or check if he has Muzzlebook or something." Judy said.
"Why? So you can friend him?" Nick teased.
"Well, yeah, and see if he's not some nutjob." Judy reasoned.
"Hmm. Makes sense. It's weird, though. I know everybody who's anybody in Zootopia. Never heard of a Jack Savage, though." Nick admitted.
"You're slipping, Slick." Judy shook her head in mocked disappointment.
"Excuse me, I am not slipping, I have just been a little busy. Besides, as long as this guy didn't hurt you or anything, I think he's harmless. Maybe he's just a wannabe cop." Nick offered.
"I don't think so...any wannabe cop would recognize my name especially if he was looking for Night Howlers, but he didn't. But he didn't seem to want to hurt me in any way. In fact, he was weirdly curious about...Never mind. You know what? That reminds me. I need to talk to you about something." she said, her ears drooping a bit as she remembered the conversation topic.
"Sounds serious. What's up?" Nick asked.
"Well...Okay, I don't know how to say this so I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: I know you're happy and excited and you have no idea how glad I am to see you this way." she began.
Nick nodded slowly, anticipating more, "But...?"
"But I'm kind of worried that you're so happy that you may not see the big picture..." Judy finally said. Then when she looked at Nick's surprised eyes, she panicked and thought he was going to be mad at her or worst: realize that she's right and go on the other extreme and be sad about it. So, she began to babble. "I' mean, not that you're so dumb you wouldn't be able to see it, it's just-you know, it's like-do you remember when Finnick dragged us to that Batmammal vs Supermammal movie and he was all excited because he's been reading the comics since he was a kit, so when we went to watch it, we hated it but Finnick's been looking forward to it for so long and so much that he refused to admit that it was flawed in any way? It's kinda like that, except I'm not saying your dad is as bad as the movie, I'm just saying that maybe-"
Nick put his paws on her shoulders and quickly stared into her eyes, "Judy, hey, slow down...deep breaths, it's fine. I'm not mad or anything, I swear."
Judy took a deep breath as requested and all panic left her and she found her words making more sense in her brain again. "It's not you being mad I'm worried about...I don't want you to lose hope. It's great that you're having fun and that everything's going well, but I just don't want you to put your dad on a pedestal so high that it'll hurt twice as much if he ever falls. Remember, he's a mammal who will make mistakes. You never even told me why he left in the first place."
That much was true, he didn't. Well, he supposed that Judy thinking this way was fair given how he just focused on the positives yesterday night. But if he told her the story, maybe she would understand why he thought he was a little harsh on Felix.
"It's not like he had a choice then, Carrots..." Nick started before telling her the whole story: from the Lemming Brothers crash to the desperate mammals making bad choices to the end, when those bad choices eventually became their downfall. All the while, Judy had listened, thinking of how horrible it must have been. She had studied the Lemming Brothers crash and she knew how good mammals were forced to do bad things. It didn't effect her family, as far as she knew, but to know that it cost her best friend his dad was just heart-breaking.
"Poor Felix..." Judy breathed. She didn't think she would be capable of making such a sacrifice. Then again, how could she ever know she could have been capable of? She was not a fox living in hard times. She suddenly felt guilty for suspecting Felix or even judging him.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know..."
"It's okay. I thought the same, too." Nick explained, "But look, Judy, I know you're just looking out for me, but really, I'm fine. Come on, I'm a big, bad fox, I can take care of myself."
Judy smiled at his stupid attempt to show-off and look bad, but she appreciated it because she knew it was also to make her feel a little better. "You're about as bad as a box of kittens, Officer Wilde."
"Don't joke, some of those kittens are ruthless with those claws." Nick said. "But seriously, I swear, I'll be fine. My dad's a nice guy who just happened to have had some bad stuff happen to him. It's okay. I'm okay."
Maybe so, but Judy still had her doubts. Maybe Nick thought he was still being reasonable, but something about the starstruck eyes he wore yesterday made her doubt it a little. She didn't doubt Nick would try to be more objective, but at the end of the day, sometimes, even the most logical person can fall victim to their emotions. She was just so afraid that this could destroy Nick.
But then, she thought about how it would destroy him even more if she didn't support him. So, Judy decided to believe him and give Felix Reynard the benefit of the doubt. His story was undoubtedly heartbreaking, yet something about all this just didn't seem right. It all seemed too perfect, too la la land. Like something out of a drama movie. All that was left is Nick and Felix laughing together during a cheesy montage of their bonding activities. Still, it wouldn't do any good to argue about this. Not now. A close eye on Felix is what she'll need to do.
Besides, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, right? Nick was wonderful on his own, so how bad could his father really be?
"Well...I suppose if he is your dad, he might not be that bad." Judy reasoned.
Nick smiled. In all honesty, it touched him deeply that Judy was so concerned for him. That little bunny would do anything for him, even if it hurt her. Not that he would let her, anyway. But the fact that she cared so much reminded Nick that regardless of anything, he was loved at the very least. When it comes down to it, that's all that really mattered. "Tell you what: if he does hurt me, I'll let you do that scary bunny thing you did to me and Finnick back at Budapets."
Judy laughed at the memory, "Deal!"
And with that, Judy decided that it was probably time to get home in time for her parents' almost daily lunchtime call. She hopped off the couch and made her way to Nick's room. As Nick stared at her wearing his shirt, he couldn't resist teasing her just a little bit.
"So, about that walk-of-shame shirt..." Nick smirked, right before a pillow was thrown at his face.
AN: I am not gonna lie, that Jack Savage part was really fun to write! I mean, originally I made him out like the typical James Bond!Jack which, don't get me wrong, can also be fun. But I always thought that if a third party HAD to be added in the Wildehopps team, I wanted it to be a dynamic that reminded me of the Eleventh Doctor and the Ponds from Doctor Who. Even Jack's clothes were inspired by the appearance of the Twelfth Doctor. And I did need Jack in the story for a reason, so the solution? Give Jack Savage a completely different personality! Technically, even James Bond!Jack isn't canon (at least as of September 2016), so I figure why not? So no, sadly there won't be any love triangle because I am actually horrendous at writing those. Of course, there's going to be jealousy on Nick's part, because, well, he's Nick.
OK, so originally, this was supposed to include the Animalia chapter, but it was running a little long, so I decided to make it into a two-parter. The next chapter should be up pretty soon and this'll focus on Animalia which I'm very excited to write about so keep on reading and let me know what you think of Jack!