Technically speaking, this drabble is a request from Zimbles. But it's also one we already had planned for this point, so let's call it more of an honorable mention. One fringe benefit of this timeskip is allowing for many more drabbles to be told in between.
Drabble 17: 30 Days of Cheese
It hadn't occurred to Nick at the time that getting Carla's permission to stay in her old room might have actually been the easy part.
The first matter was deciding what to bring, and that was less of a decision and more of an expedition, since about 99% of his already-limited possessions were now resting beneath several pounds of wood and regret, if not destroyed outright. Nick, being Nick, wasn't used to having friends to call on for help with something like this. Given the current state of those closest to him, he still didn't. Judy was in the hospital, Carla was jailed, all of the other officers were busy actually being officers, and Jimmy, despite his enthusiasm, was even worse than himself in the heavy lifting department.
So he dug through the remains of his old home all by his lonesome, managing to save some of his clothes, including his once-uniform and a few spare ties, an old backpack that he'd never once used for school, a piggy bank that thankfully protected what was left of his savings, a slightly charred toothbrush, and most importantly, a familiar picture of him and his parents that had once been placed on his nightstand. It had survived in miraculously good condition, albeit with his father's face now cracked beyond recognition.
Nick considered this an improvement.
Sadly, everything he could salvage fit comfortably into the backpack, but he was used to traveling light anyway. As Nick took one last look at the old, burnt cabin, he found himself not as despondent about it as he'd expected to be. He had outgrown the place, and isolation in general. The very fact that he even had friends to stay with now, and multiple options to choose from at that, was astounding to him.
Okay, so he didn't actually know the Rodentriguez's. Like, at all. But if he had managed to befriend Carla, then how hard could it be?
"So you're Nick Wilde."
"So you're Carla's squeeze."
"Are you calling me a chew toy?!"
Nick winced. It was about 9 in the morning when he made it to Carla's home address and the wheelchair-bound rat who greeted him at the front door was, despite her size, just as volatile as the hyena herself. And just as appreciative of his sense of humor. The fox stood up straight, adjusting his backpack, and held out a note. "This is for you."
It took him a second to realize that she couldn't very well grab the note and, not wanting to offend her further, decided against bending down to her level to give it. So he just dropped it instead...and watched it slowly...slowly float down...until she finally caught it and opened it up.
Give this dumbass fox my room.
"You have got to be-"
"Priscilla, who is it?" Elizabeth asked, mercifully coming to his rescue. "Ah, you must be Señor Wilde! We've heard quite a lot about you, some of it good!"
"That sounds about right," he chuckled. "Listen, I know it's early for you, and extraordinarily late for me, but I needed to let you guys know that Carla isn't going to be back for a while. She gave me that." He gestured to the note, which Priscilla begrudgingly handed over.
Elizabeth took a quick peek at it and laughed. "Si, this is from her alright. I'm glad you two seem to be getting along better. I was worried her propensity to hold onto grudges was going to keep getting her into trouble. Of course you can stay."
"And what happened to your house?" Priscilla asked, having apparently picked up that propensity herself for reasons he couldn't fathom. "Did it get burned to the ground or something?"
At least we're both bad at this.
Elizabeth snapped her out of it with a thwack of her ladle. "Don't be rude to our guest! Señor Wilde came all this way for our hospitality!"
"Right you are, ma'am," Nick said cheerfully. "And while I would hate to impose any further, I should point out that I haven't gotten any sleep since yesterday morning and have pretty much carried myself here on nothing but two dozen cups of coffee. This is relevant because I believe the resulting boost is rapidly wearing off and I'm now about to crash.I will likely not be conscious again until at least the following morning. I thank you for your understanding and kindly request that you move a few feet backwards."
They did, and Nick proceeded to pass out on their doorstep.
"Oh dear…" Elizabeth said. "Just like Carla after her quinceañera. Alright, let's gather everyone and help him to his new room. Just watch out in case he throws up."
"I think I'm gonna throw up," Priscilla grumbled, following after her regardless.
As Nick predicted, he did not awaken until the following morning. Or it could have been the morning after, but he felt like an optimist today.
Looking around, it became quickly apparent that he was indeed in Carla's room, exercise equipment and lucha merchandise as far as the eye could see. He himself had been thrown onto the bed, with his bag sitting beside him. Both he and it were left unopened.
Nick sniffed. The place sure smelled like Carla too, thankfully without the recent skunky overtones. Still, he decided it was probably best not to sniff too closely with what he knew must have gone on in here.
He sat up and yawned, admitting that he didn't smell the best himself after all he'd been through the past two days, his extended time underwater only making it worse for a canine. He looked towards the bathroom. Might as well get used to the amenities.
One gratuitous shower scene later, Nick stepped out and put on a change of clothes completely identical to his old set except with a few scorch marks here and there. It actually seemed kind of appropriate.
There was a knock on the door. "Señor Wilde? Are you awake? I heard the shower running," Elizabeth's voice called.
"Yeah, I'm up. And not as dead to the world as usual. Thanks for the lift yesterday."
"It was nothing. We've had practice from when Carla pushes herself too hard. Would you like to come to lunch?"
Oof. Not morning at all it seems. But food was food. "Sure, I'll be right down."
Nick soon found himself sitting cross-legged around the Rodentriguez's dining room table, chowing down on a plentiful serving of rice and beans, plentiful even for him. "It might sound strange, but I was really starting to miss cooking so much," Elizabeth said, flipping a tortilla onto his plate as well. "And I was very impressed that you managed to get down here while only stepping on one of my children."
"Me too," said the rat in question, weakly raising his hand.
"I used to work with rodents a lot," Nick replied, choosing not to mention how exactly he had worked with them. He bit into the tortilla. "Mmm, this is good corn bread."
"That's not cornbread," Priscilla corrected, still glaring at him from down the table.
"Corn bread. WIth a space in the middle. Corn that is bread."
Priscilla just grunted and went back to her own meal.
But while she was still obviously not a fan of his, Nick soon found others that apparently were. "So what's it like being a cop?" another rat asked, a young girl wearing a little orange dress with glasses. "Is it like the movies, with big car chases, huge explosions, and epic shootouts?"
"...Surprisingly, yes." No need to point out that he technically wasn't a cop right now. "I mean, not so much the shootouts, as guns haven't really been as practical as expected, but otherwise, yeah."
"Excellente!" cheered another rat, obviously her twin brother. This one wore red shorts, a yellow t-shirt, and a baseball cap. "I told you that wasn't just exaggerated by Woollywood, Dea!"
"Dea?" He turned back to the first rat. "That's an unusual name, no offense. Wait." He turned to the second, looking skeptical. "What's your name?"
"Ah. That explains it."
"Can you tell us some of your cop stories?" Dea asked eagerly.
He chuckled. "Sure, I'll give you more of a fill than this delicious meal." Elizabeth smiled in appreciation; Priscilla glowered. "Here's a good one. It starts with me and Carrots on patrol when-"
"Yeah, that's fascinating," Priscilla interrupted. "Any idea how long you're planning on staying here?"
"Until I can find a new place of my own, I guess" he answered with a shrug, ignoring the twins blowing raspberries at their older sister. "Maybe in an apartment building. I kinda feel like I was always meant to live in one."
"Seems right up your alley," Priscilla said. "Or maybe an actual alley instead. I hear those have good real-estate. Especially the ones in Nocturnal."
Elizabeth was in the kitchen, but her ladle flew out like a boomerang, thwacked Priscilla over the noggin, then returned to sender.
"There needs to be a permit for that thing," Nick said, staring in awe.
"That's nothing!" Dea laughed. "You should see what she does over MuzzleTime."
As if nothing happened, Elizabeth soon walked back out, serving a helping of soup and salads. "There is no need for you to rush out of here, Señor Wilde. We enjoy your company." She gave a pointed smile to Priscilla, as if daring her to contradict that. She did not.
"I'll keep that in mind," Nick replied, trying not to look too smug as he brought soup to his lips.
"So to summarize, your family's doing pretty well and it's been cozy so far, outside of adding way too much dairy to my diet and the fact that your mate still doesn't like me."
"That's strange," Carla said, leaning back against her cell wall. "Not liking you is pretty much the default reaction to spending any time in your presence, but it's been five days now. There's gotta be something more to it than that."
"That's why I came to you," Nick replied, shrugging helplessly. "Any ideas? I'm used to scorn, but usually I at least know why."
"Hmm. Well, you are staying in my room now. That could be it," the hyena suggested. "I've been gone from it for so long already and now you just swoop in and take over? Maybe she thinks you're not 'worthy' enough to replace me."
"Could be, but I don't think Chief Bogo is looking for a new place, so I'm not sure what to do about that."
"There's only one way I can think of," she said firmly. "You need to prove your worthiness to Priscilla."
"What, like wrestle her?"
"You want me to wrestle a paraplegic rodent?"
"Yeah, I know, she'll totally kick your cula, but maybe she'll be impressed by your bravery or something," Carla insisted. "That's all I've got, I'm afraid. Most of our marital problems have been solved by some kind of mutual physical activity and trust me, this is the safer one."
Resigned, Nick stood up and stretched out. "So be it. Not the first time I've had to take a few lumps to earn some respect. Worst case scenario, maybe I can visit Carrots in the hospital full-time. Then I'll have a place to stay and free food too."
Carla looked away. "Hey, speaking of which, next time could you bring some duros over? Elizabeth packages them in these snug little-"
She heard the cell door close, Nick having already left.
"...Priscilla, don't hospitalize the guy, but please hurt him."
Nick's chance came sooner than expected, while he was just sitting on the living room couch and watching Maria la del Burro with the rats, a few climbing up onto the couch with him and some huddled around his feet. He was settling into his new way of life here pretty quickly and they, for the most part, had accepted him, cheesy soap operas and all.
"Seriously, Maria, take a hint! He's not right for you!" The rats nodded in agreement.
Then came the commotion from a table in the corner. "Uno, dos, tres! I win!"
Nick didn't want to look, but when every other tiny head turned, it was hard to resist following suit.
On top of the table was another, much smaller table, on which Priscilla had just successfully pinned the arm of one of her much beefier brothers. "Alright, who's next?" she challenged as her opponent skulked away.
Nick tried to ignore her, a task that grew more difficult as no one else stepped up. Sure, it's not the kind of wrestling I had in mind, but maybe it's better this way. She might break my arm, but at least it'll only be my arm. Or maybe she'll pull a swerve in true wrestling tradition and break everything but my arm. Oh, fox it. "I'll give it a shot."
The chorus of gasps made him regret his decision immediately. Priscilla looked more suspicious than anything. "You want to arm wrestle? That scrawny thing looks like it'll snap like a twig."
Probably accurate. "And is that going to be an issue?"
She smirked. "Not for me it isn't. Step right up."
"Do you think he's going to die?" Casey whispered.
"Not quickly," Dea answered.
Nick made peace with his fox god and sat down at the larger table, facing the smaller one. All the rats in the room started crowding them already, curious, or perhaps just cutting off his escape route. Nick put his elbow to the table and quickly realized the problem with this setup. "So how do you expect us to do this exactly? You're the expert."
"Damn right I am, and I've wrestled bigger than you," she bragged. "Just tilt your arm down a bit until I can grab it. It might seem like less distance that I have to drag you to the ground, but from my end, it evens out."
Nick did so, already in pain before the match even started. "And from my end, this is really uncomfortable."
"Not my problem." Priscilla grabbed tightly onto his nearest finger. Nick knew it would not be freed until he won, lost, or it got torn off. "Ready?"
"Well-ack!" She didn't wait for an answer before she started trying to put his arm to the table. And so far, she was doing a pretty efficient job at it. "How are you this strong?!"
"You should've seen me leg press Carla back in the day!" the rat roared, pulling his arm slowly but surely downward.
"You can do it, Nick!" Dea yelled.
The other onlookers also began to cheer Nick on encouragingly, which wasn't as comforting when he remembered that the audience often rooted for the underdog.
But he couldn't just give in. If he lost this easily, he'd never earn the "right" to Carla's room. So Nick put as much effort as he could into fighting her back, which was really just delaying the inevitable in the hopes that maybe holding out longer would make him more worthy. "That's pretty impressive," he strained. "What else did you do? Arm curls with mousetraps?"
That got a snicker out of the crowd, and a glare out of Priscilla. "Shut up."
But Nick was incapable of shutting up, especially when scared for his life. "What did you use for dumbbells? Cheese wheels? Or were those for running on when doing your ellipticals?"
The crowd laughed. Priscilla did not. "I said shut up!"
"I'm just trying to lighten the mood. I guess that's something you and Carla both need, Miss Testosterodent."
"What did you just call me?!"
"Sorry, that was improper. I shouldn't have said that," Nick apologized. "I meant to say Mrs. Testosterodent."
The crowd lost it, laughing uproariously while Priscilla seethed with rage. "Why you-!"
The laughter ended abruptly. Priscilla stared down in shock at her arm now pinned to the small table. She was so caught off-guard that Nick capitalized on the moment. It wasn't like this was ever going to happen again. "Uno, dos, tres, I win?" He grinned nervously.
The table collapsed beneath Priscilla's arm. She didn't even flinch.
"Have I proven myself yet?"
Silently, Priscilla released Nick's finger and rolled herself away. Reaching the end of the large table, she grabbed her chair and leapt all the way to the floor, then left the room completely. A moment later, a door slammed hard enough to shake the foundations of the house.
"I'll take that as a 'no' then."
It had been almost two weeks now since he'd moved in here, longer than the entirety of the Crime Lord Killings case, which was odd to think about. His relationships with the familia were continuing to improve.
The sole exception, Nick pondered as he locked and barricaded his bedroom door, continued to be Priscilla. Ever since the arm wrestling incident, she had barely spoken a word to him or acknowledged his presence at all. If he didn't know better, he might think that an improvement over constant verbal abuse, but at least that was predictable. All of his experience as a fox on the streets told him that cold silence was far more dangerous.
As Nick tested the boards over his windows for sturdiness, he couldn't help but wonder if he was starting to take a page out of Narwhalter's book. Obviously, staking a claim to this room in such overt fashion wasn't going to make things any better between him and Priscilla, but Carla's advice had clearly backfired anyway, so he wasn't sure it really mattered. Maybe he shouldn't have taken the first housing offer given to him, but it had come from Carla of all mammals. What was he supposed to do? Turn down the single nicest thing she'd likely ever do for him?
Nick moved on to thoroughly checking the walls and floors for hidden passages large enough for a rodent with a grudge to enter through, thinking about what other options he even had. He knew Judy's apartment was cramped as it is, and the fact that she wasn't even staying in it right now didn't make it better. If he didn't get kicked out immediately under suspicion of vulpine shenanigans, staying in his best friend's place by himself in unfamiliar surroundings didn't make him terribly comfortable.
He knew Jimmy would be cool with having him over, perhaps too cool. Only problem was that the updates he was giving him led Nick to believe that he no longer had a spare room. He hadn't gotten much details out of him yet, but apparently he was already having other guests over on a frequent basis and Nick didn't want to intrude on that. He supposed Mom was an option too, and she'd probably be thrilled, but was he really going to take the path of the high school dropout and resort to living with his mother to support himself?
"Hmm?" During his check of the floor, Nick found a loose board and fiddled with it. "Well, this could be a hidden passage, or it could be a bunch of other things. Am I willing to potentially invade Carla's privacy to better protect myself?" He slid his claws under the panel. "Yes, yes I am."
But when he pulled it up, he didn't find anything he was expecting to, including just an empty space. "Wow. Never letting her live this down." He didn't think there even existed this many pictures of Jack Savage on the Internet. In fact, some of them looked suspiciously like fanart that may or may not have been drawn by an adolescent, hormonal hyena. Nick casually snapped a picture on his phone, then closed the panel back up again.
Of course, actually trying to blackmail her with this would probably end with him in witness protection, if he was lucky, but that didn't make him any less likely to try it anyway.
Nick completed his check of the room, satisfied that nothing else was going to surprise him, and readied himself for bed. After grabbing a baseball bat out of the closet and setting it by his nightstand, an idea he had picked up from Finnick, he squeezed in under the covers and took way too long to keep his eyes shut.
How much longer is this going to go on?
"I'm guessing my idea didn't work out?" Carla asked, seeing the visibly sleep-deprived fox in her cell again.
Nick yawned. "Well, I won."
"I don't believe you."
"Yeah, it was kind of a fluke. I think I just irritated her enough to make her lose focus."
"Now that I believe."
"But it didn't make her respect me more. In fact, now I've started locking down the room every night so she doesn't sneak in and kill me in my sleep."
"Like that would save you," she snorted. "But don't worry, she'd never do that."
"Really?" he asked doubtfully.
"Really. It's too cowardly. If Priscilla was going to kill you, she'd bust down the wall and make sure you're awake so you can die on your feet like a mammal."
"Thanks for that," he said dryly, "but I was kind of hoping for more of a 'Plan B' sort of thing?"
She shook her head. "Nope. It was Plan A or Plan F'ed. Thought I made that clear."
"Okay...but I know she's been coming out to visit you too. Didn't she tell you anything that could help me out here?" he asked, almost desperately.
"Priscilla and I talk about a lot of things, but you are not one of them." She paused, a claw tapping idly on her cot. "Although...if you're looking for a hint, I know where you could find one."
"The next time Priscilla goes out to visit me, sneak into her room and try to get at her diary. That should tell you what her beef is. You'll have to squeeze in a bit to get through the door, but-"
"NOPE!" Nick cut her off. "Nopenopenopenopenope, that's not happening. I'm starting to think you're just trying to get me killed, is that it?"
"Of course not!" she assured. "I'm the same way as Priscilla. On your feet-"
"-like a mammal," he finished. "Yeah, I got it. I'll figure something out. As much as your mate scares me, I doubt she'd really do anything that bad."
Nick was surrounded, small ropes thrown over most of his body and nailed down to the floor. Only his head and tail had any freedom of movement, and the rats were currently working on the latter. They were all armed with various small weapons. "Hey...guys? Can we talk about this?"
"NEVAH!" Dea yelled, waving around a tiny stick like it was a sacrificial dagger.
"Hermana!" Casey gently took the stick away, though he himself was wielding a much more threatening baseball bat that was still basically a toothpick to the fox. "Si, we can talk about this, Nick. How did we do?"
He appreciated them dropping the "Señor Wilde" after a while. "You did great! Really got me good! Now you know you'll have no problems taking down foes bigger than yourselves."
"No offense, but you weren't exactly the hardest target," Dea teased. "Now that elephant guy we brought down, he was one tough hombre! But the experience is welcome regardless."
Nick didn't even want to know when these guys had taken down an elephant, but it would've been nice to know before he suggested they needed practice. "Glad I could be of service."
"What is going on here?!"
And of course, as soon as Nick was starting to enjoy himself here again, in came the handicapped horror to ruin it. "Just playing a little game," he said, trying to pass it off.
"We're combat training!" Casey yelled instead.
And here I thought you were going to be the voice of reason. "Just helping these guys out in case they need to defend themselves from...another elephant apparently."
Priscilla looked over his current predicament, unimpressed. "I think your partner would've been better for that."
"Probably, but she's just as immobile as me right now. I only wanted to help."
"We don't need your help!" she hissed, rolling up his leg and onto his chest until she was right on top of him. Nick waited patiently. "As you can see, we rescued Carla just fine without you!"
"Rescued from wha-nevermind. You need to chill out, lady. What did I ever do to you?"
"You want to know what you did? I'll show you what you did!" She raised her tiny fist in front of his face. Nick wished he was still ignorant of how much damage this rat could do so he could be less terrified right now.
She swung her fist, and with a loud snap, one of the ropes broke apart. Instantly, the entire network of ropes pinning Nick down came undone. "You should've told them to focus on quality over quantity. This is the shabbiest tiedown I've ever seen." She then rolled off of Nick and once again headed out of the room.
Still in his prone position, Nick called after her. "Hey, I don't know if it's just me, but that kind of didn't answer anything! Just left me with more questions really! Which is kind of a microcosm of my whole life right now! But I don't think you're coming back! In fact, I'm all but certain that you're not coming back! Okay, nice talking to you!"
Nick sighed, consoled by many just-as-confused rat siblings.
Nick woke up with a rat on top of him and screamed.
Elizabeth quickly slapped a hand over his mouth. "Shhh! It's okay! It's just me. Are you alright?"
He needed a second to ponder that, but eventually nodded and she removed her hand. "How did you get in here?"
She laughed. "Please, you don't think I've ever had to get into Carla's room when she didn't want me there? What kind of parent would I be if I didn't know how to properly encroach on my childrens' privacy?"
"I'm guessing not the kind who would dodge me asking how they got in here."
"Probably not. Anyway, I came to help you with your Priscilla problems."
"You…" Nick sighed. "Yeah, I could use some help actually. It's been three weeks now and I still have no idea what she's got against me."
"I think I have an idea. Apologies for the delay. I didn't want to get involved, but this has gone on far too long. So I snuck into Priscilla's room and stole-"
"¡Cielos, no! I'm not that invasive! I didn't even touch those weird boots she smuggled in. No, I took this."
She moved down the bed and came back with a large photo album. "This used to be in this room, but Priscilla took it out that first day while you were unconscious. I imagine she didn't want you seeing what was inside."
"Why? Are there embarrassing baby pictures?" Nick sat up curiously. "Because I'm not going to turn down more blackmail material."
"Oh, you mean the Savage Stash? Everyone knows about that," she said dismissively, opening the photo album. "But given that we adopted her, sadly no."
Nick snapped his fingers in disappointment.
He watched as she started to go through the pages of Carla's life with Priscilla. Adolescent pup, angsty teen phase, dual-tux wedding, etc. It was kind of interesting to see, and not just as blackmail, but he wasn't entirely sure what the point was until Elizabeth spoke up again. "Priscilla isn't as strong as she looks."
Nick looked down at one of the photos, the rat putting a wolf into a headlock during an exhibition match. "I think you have that backwards."
"No, I don't," she insisted. "You know, you weren't the first member of this household she gave a hard time." She pointed to another photo, one of a young Carla wrestling with a young Priscilla, and not in the friendly way. "She didn't care much for Carla at first either."
"Because she was an interloper?" Nick guessed. "Like me?"
"Not quite. Take a good look at Priscilla. Tell me what you see."
Is this a test? Do I get ladled if I fail it? "I see a small, temperamental rodent with way more upper-body strength than she has any right to."
"All true," Elizabeth said with a laugh, "but 'small' and 'rodent' were the answers I was looking for. And Carla?"
If this was a test of pattern recognition, Nick could handle that much. "Gonna guess 'large' and...whatever Carla is? Hyena biology confuses and disturbs me."
"Feliformia, and si. These two are not your typical couple."
"It's a miracle it even happened at all with how they were at first, but they had a lot in common." She looked down at their wedding picture, gently running her fingers over the image. "That includes insecurities. For a long time, Priscilla's strength made her unique, the hero and protector to her younger siblings. Then Carla came in, matching her strength while being much more physically imposing."
"So she was jealous?"
"More like...afraid. Though she'd never admit to it, something else they have in common. Behind that bold exterior, Priscilla was terrified that Carla was going to steal the role she had made for herself."
"A mask." Nick looked down at the young rat's image again, now seeing quite a bit more. "I understand that alright."
"Then she and Carla bonded and got married. Now she's afraid of something else."
"Children?" She shook her head. "Me?"
"Not you specifically," she clarified, "just anything that threatens to take Carla away from her. I believe Priscilla's biggest fear...is that Carla is just going to "wake up" someday. That she'll suddenly realize how much bigger she is than her and how incompatible they are biologically, and she'll leave Priscilla behind to find someone else more worthy."
So Carla's advice was not only limited, but the worst possible advice she could have given me.
"Then Priscilla was crippled and Carla did leave, to join the ZPD. Then she left to join Reynard. Then she went missing. Then she went to jail." She sighed deeply, closing the photo album. "Needless to say, Priscilla hasn't been taking this well. She's grown far more violent and irritable than usual."
"I don't really have a point of comparison, so I guess I'll take your word on that," Nick said. "Honestly, I'm still stuck on the part where I'm considered a potential romantic rival for Carla."
"Well, you are a good size for her," Elizabeth teased. "And you have a certain chemistry as former rivals that is fun to see turn into affection. You can even make hybrids. Now what would we call those? Foxena? Hyenox?"
"You can call it a fantasy because it's not happening!" Nick said vehemently. "Eesh, you're as bad as my mom."
"I'll take that as a compliment." Elizabeth winked. "I just hope I was able to help."
Nick fell back into the bed, staring up at a ceiling of luchadore emblems. "As a matter of fact, I believe I am forming some semblance of a plan. Better than Plan F'ed at least. Thanks."
When he got no reply, he sat back up. Both Elizabeth and the photo album were gone.
Nick took a quick look around the room and crossed his arms, grumbling to himself.
"Annnnnnd I don't know how she left either."
The hardest part of his plan was getting Priscilla alone. Between the constant scurrying of rats underfoot and her seeming desire to give him the perpetual cold shoulder, it required some further assistance from Elizabeth to finally get the ball rolling. "Priscilla, dear, could you please fetch me some more sauce from the kitchen?"
It was a fortunate side-effect that Priscilla had gotten so used to blocking out Nick's existence that she completely failed to notice the giant fox wasn't at the dinner table with them. She only noticed when she wheeled herself into the kitchen and found him standing there, holding the tiny saucepot with tiny oven mitts on his fingers. "Looking for something?"
She didn't even look surprised. "You will surrender the sauce or it won't be the only thing I spill."
"Touchy. All you had to do was ask." Nick leaned down and placed the pot in her small hands. If she was bothered by the hot metal, she didn't show it. Nor did she bother thanking him as she turned around and headed away.
"But at least you're not as bad as Carla."
Her wheels came to a screeching halt. "What was that?!"
Nick continued on casually, standing back up and facing away as if he didn't even know she was still there. "I mean, come on, that whole angry Spatish lady thing has been done to death. And butch too? At least you've got the whole rodent thing going for you, that's sorta unique, but her? Talk about a raging stereotype, emphasis on raging."
Priscilla gnashed her teeth, raging pretty visibly herself. "Wilde…!"
"Well, I guess she goes both ways with the Savage Stash and all, unless she's just Savagesexual. But it's probably for the best that she stayed so open. Who but you would want to put up with a partner who blows her top if you so much as look at her funny? Not that she knows anything about comedy. I was almost impressed when I found out about her wrestling persona, but her puns are even worse than mine! She's not even that attractive, what with those dumb spots, the freaky red eyes, those ridiculous earrings-"
As Nick watched the little furry nuclear missile fly out of her chair and towards his face, her raised claws and bared fangs moving almost in slow-motion, he just watched it play out and smiled calmly.
This is gonna hurt.
Amazingly, the resulting beatdown only put Nick to bed for three days and not another week. At first, he assumed he just hadn't pissed her off well enough, which would've rendered all of this pain pointless. That was until he finally stepped outside and found two interesting sights waiting for him.
A cheesecake, large enough that it almost qualified as an appetizer for him.
And Priscilla, frozen in the middle of raising a hand to knock on his door, her face like someone who'd just been caught in the cookie jar. "...Buenos días."
"Likewise." Nick glanced down at the confectionary as if he'd only just noticed it. "Now what do we have here? Is this for me?"
"It's just a leftover," she muttered. "Didn't want you to be too hungry when you woke up, is all."
As far as Nick was concerned, the fact that she didn't outright deny her involvement and/or the cake was already great progress. "No worries. I'm already in Carla's room, so I might as well adapt to being a scavenger."
She glared. "Don't push it. I still don't like you."
"I'll do my best not to expect anything more."
"Hmph." Priscilla turned and wheeled herself down the hall. A short visit, but that brief span of time confirmed to Nick that not only had his plan worked, but Priscilla herself seemed to have figured it out somewhere along the line. Maybe even while she was beating the shit out of him. That would explain the quick recovery.
He picked the small cheesecake up off the ground, intending to take it into his room and savor it. The planets would align and do an interpretive dance before he got another treat like this from her. For now, it seemed their relationship had upgraded to the same level he had with Carla.
His range of vision was just good enough that he could clearly see Priscilla flip him off as she turned the corner.
Exactly the same level.
Nick watched, expressionless, as Carla laughed so hysterically that she had to lean against her cell wall for support. "I will never get used to this."
"I can't believe hahaha that Priscilla actually thought gahahaha you were going to, dios mio haha, steal me from her!"
"Yes, yes, it's very humorous."
"Seriously…" Carla finally slowed down, wiping a tear from her eye. "Who'd ever want to run off with you?"
"Okay, I don't think that's really nec-"
"That stupid shirt that went out of style a decade ago, your obnoxious jokes that you somehow still think make you charming, being such a weakling that I'm pretty sure Jimmy Frost has a better combat record! This whole thing is supposed to be about you, but have you ever actually won a fight in the entire time we've known each other?"
"...I beat Reynard."
"Ah yes, the older and more pathetic version of you. Who is still out there and more dangerous than ever, so how'd that work out?"
Nick pinched his brow and groaned. "Priscilla already told you everything, didn't she?"
"Every. Hilarious. Detail." Carla chuckled, reaching over and ruffling his headfur like he was just another of her siblings. "Sorry I gave you some bad advice. There are some things about my mate even I didn't know. Thanks for helping her out."
"Don't mention it." Nick gently shoved her paw away. "Especially around her."
"No promises. You getting along better then?"
"Ehh, well enough. Carrots just got out of the hospital, so I'm inviting her and Jimbo over for lunch. After I swing by my mom's anyway. I promised her a visit."
"Look at you, making all these connections." She wasn't saying it condescendingly either. "You were such a mess when we first met. Now you're...less so."
He nudged her in the side. "I could say the same about you, Chuckles."
"You could," she admitted. "Sitting here in this cell, I've really come to miss having all that. So you take good care of your friends and family, and mine, no matter how much abuse they put you through."
"Don't need to tell me twice. Speaking of…" He reached into his pocket and pulled out a plastic bag filled with a familiar, pinwheel-shaped snack food. "Guess who brought durooooos."
Carla's eyes lit up. "Oh hell yes!" She practically snatched it out of his paws and tossed a few in her mouth at once, then remembered he was there too and offered him the bag. Nick smiled and took one, just one, to nibble on. This was her treat, after all, and he let her enjoy it in silence.
The things I do for companionship.
I hope no one was expecting to actually cover all 30 days. This was fun, but it wasn't THAT fun. We could only drag this plot out for so long.
Casey and Dea belong to me, mainly existing for the point of finally giving names to more of the Rodentriguez family. Even if they're not terribly clever names.
To give you a hint of what's in store, expect the next drabble to be released on Mother's Day. ;)