A/N: Hi folks! I've contributed to other works before, Zootopia or otherwise, but this is my first official story! And as all first-time writers say, reviews are always appreciated. There are more great writers who have inspired me on this site than I can keep track of, but there are three who (whom?) I'd especially like to thank: Aninat131, Cimar of Turalis-WildeHopps, and Lupineleigh.
"I want a coffee."
Judy rolled her eyes. "Come on Nick, we've only got one hour of patrol left, and you've already had one coffee tonight! You know you won't be able to sleep a wink if you have another!"
The fox and rabbit team had recently taken on the case of a series of carjackings in the poorer part of Savannah Central, which meant that for the past three nights in a row the pair had been on night patrol, scouting for the thief in an unmarked car and regularly checking on the bait cars placed in the area. So far there had been no bites, and both were becoming increasingly edgy as the constant monotony and feelings of isolation began to sink in.
"Carrots, I'm bored. And when I get bored, I get sleepy. Such is the way of foxes."
"And last I checked, Officer Wilde, foxes are also nocturnal, which made me think you of all mammals would be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while handling this assignment."
"That we are, but after months of handling your 6AM wakeup calls I've fallen out of practice," Nick grumbled irritably. The pair drove on in silence for another minute, before Nick's ears perked up as he noticed a sign:
"Look, there's a Tim Howlton's on the corner there, and I happen to know they're open all night. Can we please just make a stop, Fluff? I'll get you one of those herbal teas you like…"
Judy sighed, knowing from experience that nothing could deter Nick when he craved caffeine. "Okay, fine, there's a parking spot over there-WAIT NICK!"
Before Judy had fully stopped the car or even put on her turn-signal Nick undid his seat belt, pulled out his wallet, opened the door and jumped out of the car for the donut shop all in one quick movement. Judy quickly parked the car and growled in frustration. She hated it when Nick did that, and he did it all too often. One time he had almost stepped on a mouse couple out on the curb, and another time he almost got run over by a giraffe on a bicycle which he only avoided by ducking and rolling. Normally she would suck it up and say nothing or give Nick a reprimand which he would naturally ignore, but her otherwise-intact boredom made her decide that something dramatic was in order… chuckling to herself she started fingering through her tool belt.
A minute later the door to Timmy's eased open, and Nick backed out carrying a hot paper cup in each hand. He turned around and walked back to the car, but Judy wasn't in there. Suddenly he heard a distinct chinking noise coming from somewhere right to the left of him. He tried to turn around but his arm was suddenly stuck in place, causing him to slosh a little of the coffee he was carrying.
Nick looked down: there was Judy, cheerily giggling, and she now had her right paw pawcuffed to his left one.
"Alright dumb fox, Here's how it's going to be! From now on whenever we go on patrol I am cuffing you to me so that you can't get out of the car until I have actually stopped it and put it in park! Now what do you think of that?"
"I think this is false arrest and blatant misuse of police equipment, Officer Bunny," said Nick, grinning for the first time all night. The two looked at each other fondly for a moment, the tension of the evening forgotten, before they simultaneously remembered that they were still on patrol and a pair of handcuffed officers was bound to raise a few eyebrows. "Okay, Carrots, now would you please unlock me? My paws are kind of full here and these drinks are hot…"
"Oh yeah, sorry!" Judy produced her pawcuff key. "Okay, hold still… it's kind of hard to do this left-handed, especially with your paw way up there. Hehe, stop fidgeting-OW!"
As Judy had tugged on Nick's paw trying to get the key in the lock she caused him to accidentally spill his coffee on her own paw, making her reflexively grab it with her other one. The tiny pawcuff key slipped between her fingers, and the pair didn't notice this until they heard three distinct sounds:
The pawcuff key had bounced off the curb and fallen down a sewer grate.
For a moment, Nick and Judy did nothing but stare blankly at the spot where the key fallen, and then their gazes shifted to their respective paws which were still firmly cuffed together, before Judy timidly spoke up:
"Errr… you've got your key to these, right Nick?"
"My key? Oh yeah, hold on." Nick set the drinks down on the ground and started going through his own tool belt: "Weird, it should be in here…" Nick looked in one pouch on his belt, then another, then another, and then another, finding an assortment of small weapons and paraphernalia and even an old pawpsicle stick, but no pawcuff key. Once he had checked all his pouches he began patting down his pants pockets with one paw, then his shirt pockets, and even in the little pocket on the inside of his tie. Coming up clearly emptyhanded he looked down at Judy with an unusually guilty look on his face:
"I think I left it in my other pair of pants."
"WHAT? How could you… Errgh, never mind, let's just go over to your apartment and look through your other pants..."
"I sent them to the dry cleaners."
Cowering under the incredibly withering look Judy gave him Nick held up his uncuffed paw in self-defence:
"Hey, they'll be open Monday morning, and I'll have you know that the pandas who run the place are really good about returning stuff left in pockets!"
"Yes, but this is Friday night, Nick! You expect us to go around like this until then!?"
"Oh yeah… I forgot what day it was. Well, maybe we can go down to the precinct or call one of the other officers on patrol, borrow one of their keys."
"No, Nick, these are our custom-cuffs, made specially-smaller so we can carry them around! We're the only ones on the force with keys to these!"
She glanced up at Nick hopefully: "I don't suppose you know how to pick a lock, do you?"
"Carrots, I was a hustler, not a thief. I have many talents, but lock-picking is not one of them."
"Oh…" Judy's ears drooped in defeat, but then quickly sprung up again as her eyes brightened. "Oh, of course! What a pair of jugheads we are!"
"What are you talking about, Carrots?"
"Well there is such a thing as a locksmith."
"Of course, a locksmith!" Nick quickly dug out his phone with his free paw and started Zoogling locksmiths in Zootopia.
"Okay, here's one two blocks from where we are," the fox called the number and put the phone to his ear: "Yello? Hey, do you think you could help a fox and a rabbit escape from a pair of handcuffs? …No, we… hello? Hello? Huh, he hung up on me. Apparently he thought we escaped from jail."
"Give me that phone! Okay, here's another one… Hello? Good evening, this is ZPD Officer Judy Hopps, I was wondering if you could free my partner and I from a pair of pawcuffs… Yes, this is the real Judy Hopps… NO, we did not escape from jail!"
Nick just smirked.
After talking to two more locksmiths who thought they had escaped from jail, three that were not in, one who only answered calls in Tundratown and one who claimed to have locked himself out of his house, Judy was forced to conclude that there was no locksmith in Zootopia that would help them that night. By the time she was done talking to the last smith she was so mad she nearly threw the phone to the ground before Nick reminded her it was his.
"Alright, my Siamese bunny-twin, what do we do now?"
Judy shot the fox a dirty look. "Nick, I am so embarrassed right now, I would vastly appreciate it if you would just refrain from speaking for the next few minutes."
"Well so-rry, I'd gladly give you some space but that's clearly not an option right now." Nick retorted, holding up their cuffed paws for emphasis.
"I really don't need your snark right now, Nick!"
"Hey, you're the one who got us into this situation in the first place! If anyone has the right to be snarky around here, it's me!" Nick shot back.
"I'm the one? Listen, if you had just waited until I had parked the car…" but Judy stopped. Nick was right. She was the one who had let her boredom get to her, and she was the one who had stooped to using her police equipment as part of a childish joke. She let out a heavy sigh, her ears drooping again.
She started to walk back to their car, Nick in tow. She instinctively walked to her side of it before remembering Nick couldn't get in on his, so she let him crawl in first and then followed him, slumping in her seat and thumping her head on the steering wheel. Nick shuffled into his seat, and then a look of realization dawned on his face, and he started to speak up:
"Alright Nick, it looks like we're stuck together for the night, so I guess we'll just have to cut our patrol short, retire to my place, and then go to the nearest locksmith shop and get these off in the morning."
If Judy had been looking directly at Nick while she said that she would have noticed an unusually large twitch in his ears.
"Err… your place, Carrots?"
"Well, I know my apartment isn't exactly nicer than yours, but at least my roof doesn't leak and I've got Wi-Fi. Besides, I'm the one who got us into this mess, so it's the least I can do to be the hostess."
"Well that's true…"
"And, I've got an actual bed. It may be rickety, but it's sure better than that army cot you've got. I'd hate to sleep on that old thing all night."
"Yeah, I guess that is our best option." Nick replied in agreement. Judy nodded her head, and started the car motor.
"Wait, were you about to say something before, Nick?"
"Err… I left our drinks back on the sidewalk." Nick replied sheepishly. Judy groaned and rolled her eyes, but quietly consented to shuffle out of the car, retrieve their drinks and then get back in before instinctively reaching for the gear shift only to find her paw locked into place by Nick's, which was now holding a cup of cold herbal tea.
Nick quickly transferred the cup of tea to the cup holder and lightly grabbed hold of Judy's wrist, prepared to move his paw in sync with hers. Accepting it, she shifted gears, pulled out of the spot, and started driving down Bagheera Boulevard towards her building. Once they were safely coasting along, Nick eagerly started guzzling the cup of coffee in his right paw that had caused them so much trouble.
"Nick, our patrol is over, there's really no point in drinking that now."
"Hey, I've never wasted a cup of coffee in my life and I'm not about to start now!"