There it is, the long awaited update and next chapter! Sorry to all readers that had to wait for so long. I had some kind of a writer's block, as the story had a rather dark theme for the last chapters. But I wasn't inactive the whole time, as I'm contributing a few stories to the "What if…"-Project by Cimar WildeHopps. The first one is already published and I will cross-publish it in a few days also on my accounts. As there was quite some positive response to it, I will add a few more chapters to that story, too. So if you like some fluffy and a bit comedic stories, you may want to take a look at those.
In the meantime, there is also quite some artwork available for this story! Besides two complete comics to chapters 3x01 and 3x06, there are also a few other drawings like the wedding-picture of the double-wedding with Nick/Judy and Sven/Evelin! Also, a picture showing Evelin and Sven with their newborn kits, sitting in the hospital, is available for this chapter. You can find all artwork on my account on DeviantArt under the nickname "Anheledir"! I'm also posting the status and some snippets from upcoming chapters there, so take a look if you like.
For the future of this story, I have decided, that it is time to slowly come to an end: There will be a few more chapters to finish that big story-arc that actually started way back in episode 1x07, and there will probably be a sequel to this story. But this one is already going on for so long. As it was also my first fanfiction, I'm carrying quite some legacy with bad writing and grammar with me in the early chapters. I will rework those, once I finished the story. And the introduced OCs and Nick and Judy's relationship will be part of most upcoming stories, making this one some kind of an (hopefully interesting) introduction. But now let's start with the actual chapter, I know you want to read more about little baby bunnies ;-)
"Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more." -Agatha Christie
Both Sven and Judy were widening their eyes when they saw those four tiny, furless kits, cuddling in Eve's lap with closed eyes.
"Oh my goodness, Eve!" Judy squeaked with pleasure, holding her paws over her mouth.
Sven couldn't say a word and had tears of joy in his eyes, carefully reaching out for his little kits and finally pet them carefully.
"They just didn't want to wait any longer" Evelin sniffled with a happy smile. "I thought about naming the two boys 'Nicky' and 'Pips,' adapted from Nick's name. They wouldn't be alive without him".
"That's an excellent idea, hon" Sven smiled happily, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "What do you think, Nick?"
All three rabbits turned their head to the red fox on the stretcher, but Nick had his eyes closed with a soft smile on his snout and didn't react. Judy's happy smile disappeared at once, and with a concerned look, she turned her ears in his direction, carefully putting her paw on his cheek.
"Nick… are you okay? Say something, dumb fox…" Judy whispered, but the slight twinge of panic in her voice didn't slip neither Sven's nor Evelin's attention. The worried doe tried to feel his pulse on his neck, but Judy's paw was just trembling too much. She couldn't even concentrate enough to listen to his heartbeat, her own whooshing blood and her heart that was palpitating with fear were all she could hear right now. "Nick! Wake up! Please…" she started to sob and fell down on her knees.
Sven leaped up from the bench, searching for the medic who left them just a few moments ago. Evelin bundled up her kits again, then stroked with her paw over Judy's head and ears.
"Calm down, sis. He is only sleeping, I can still hear his heartbeat. It's a little bit slow, but consistent" Eve smiled somewhat.
"A-Are y-you sure?" Judy sobbed and wiped some tears away with the back of her paw.
"Yes, you are just too psyched to hear it" Evelin smiled exhausted to Judy and padded on the bench. "Come here, sit down, Juju. Don't worry about Nick, the medic gave him a sedative just before you and Sven arrived and it's probably taking effect now. He really deserves a break", Eve reached out to cover Nick with his blanket.
"Sweet cheese and crackers, what happened to your wrists?" Judy gasped, only now realizing that her sister had sore streaks at her wrists and ankles.
"It's where the manacles were. Could be worse, actually." Evelin put one arm around Judy's shoulders and leaned her head against hers – suddenly starting to sob quietly.
Judy turned around and held her sister tight, stroking her head and ears. "I'm so sorry, Eve! That's all my fault. But you are safe now, I promise."
Evelin was still sobbing quietly when Sven finally came back together with the emergency doctor. The white cougar looked questioning to the two rabbits, but the younger sister made a small gesture with her paw, then wiping some tears away. "I'm okay, but my sister is worried about her husband here…" she sniffled without disengaging from Judy's hug.
"He was talking when we arrived, but now isn't reacting anymore. How bad are his injuries? Will he be okay?" Judy asked worried, still tickling Evelin's head and shoulders.
The white cougar looked a bit skeptical. "I cannot provide any medical information to anyone other than immediate family. Sorry to ask this, but is he really your husband, Ma'am?"
Judy sighed and rolled her eyes, nodding slowly. "Yes, we are actually married. My name is Judy Hopps-Wilde. Furthermore, we are both officers with the ZPD and partners. So would you please tell me what's up with him, or do I really have to call some colleagues to confirm this first, Doctor…?"
The cougar slowly shook his head, "Jacob Marcotte, Ma'am. And I didn't want to judge you, it's just my job to ask". Jacob put on his stethoscope and listened to Nick's heartbeat and other breath sounds. Afterward, he took the blood pressure cuff from a rack and checked his blood pressure, closely monitored by a worried looking Judy. After he had finished his quick examination, he turned to the rabbit and smiled softly.
"For the moment he is okay, I gave him a sedative. His blood pressure is a bit weak, but because of that, he's getting a transfusion with haemapure. The biggest risks were his hypothermia and a pleural effusion caused by trauma, probably two broken ribs on his left side. I inserted a thoracic catheter to remove the blood from the chest cavity, but we still have to take an X-ray of his chest to see how things look in there. Also, he seems to have suffered some trauma to his face, and his cheek bone is more than likely fractured. That's a minor issue in the grand scheme of things. Fortunately, the broken fingers on his right paw should heal without further complications. The burns will probably result in some scarring, though, and…"
"Please… stop, enough already" Judy blubbered out, her whole body trembling. "Will he recover?"
"I cannot promise anything, there are always possible complications. But if I venture a prognosis, it looks quite promising, and your husband will make a full recovery." The emergency doctor said with a soft smile. "Now excuse me please, I will organize your transportation to the hospital." The white Cougar nodded to Sven and Evelin, then left the ambulance again.
Sven had sat down on the bench beside Evelin again, stroking her back softly. "And you are really okay, whiskers?" he sounded a bit worried, looking at her wrists.
"I'm okay, hon, it's not as bad as it looks like, just a bit sore and a headache. A snatch of sleep in a warm and cozy bed and I'm okay again, I promise." Evelin gave her husband a soft kiss on his cheek and smiled tiredly.
"What has happened to you both?" Judy tried to stop sobbing, helplessly staring at her unconscious fox.
Evelin sighed and traded looks with Sven – she noticed his sad and grief-stricken glance immediately. It was evident that he knew more than he had told Judy, but how much did he really know? At least Judy seemed to be clueless, and for the moment this was probably the best thing.
"Hey, Ju Ju…" Evelin said quietly while she put her paw around one of her little kits. "Do you want to hold little Kathryn for a while? She was the first little one your hero in red fur helped to deliver…"
Judy wiped her tears away with the back of her paw and looked down to the baby rabbit. She carefully put both her arms around her, holding the little bunny warm and tight. The kit had, of course, no fur, yet, but her skin was already rather dark. Judy could feel how the little heart was beating within her paws and she instinctively started to smile.
"Hello, Kathryn" she whispered to the little bunny that was already cuddling with Judy's warm and soft fur. She gave him a gentle kiss: "Welcome into our world, sweetie."
It was half-past six when the ambulance finally arrived at the hospital, and Nick was immediately carried away for some further examinations. Judy followed them, keeping her eyes glued to her fox, while Sven and Evelin were conducted into a hospital room.
"You can just lay down on the bed, Misses Brooks. The doctor on duty will be here in a few moments" the nurse said with a smile. Another nurse was wheeling in a baby crib, covered with a lot of small pillows and blankets. Sven was holding two of his kits in his paw, crawling their tiny heads with a dreamy smile, while Evelin licked the tummies of the other two kits.
"Is it okay to just hold them a little longer?" he asked with a rather thin voice.
"Yes, of course. If you need anything, just press the call button" the nurse smiled and left the room, closing the door behind.
Sven and Evelin were just sitting side by side for a while, leaning their heads together and watching their first litter sleeping in peace. It was the male rabbit who suspended the silence first:
"I am sorry, Evelin."
"For what, darling?" she smiled softly. "There is nothing I'm holding against you."
"I wasn't there for you when you needed me the most" he quietly said, having tears in his eyes. "I was afraid to never see you again, and the fact that I let you down was the only thing I could think of."
"You didn't let me down, hun" Evelin sighed and gave him an endearing kiss. "There was absolutely nothing you could do to prevent all of this. And most importantly, we are finally back together, and our kits are all healthy".
"And they are as beautiful as their mother" Sven smiled, replying with a kiss when someone knocked on the door, and a hare in a white coat entered their room, accompanied by a sheep.
"Good morning!" he greeted them somewhat tired but with a friendly smile. "My name is Doctor Haywood, how are you Mrs. Hopps-Brooks?" Evelin and Sven greeted him with a handshake, and while the nurse was preparing some tincture and bandages, the hare examined the doe's ankles and wrists carefully.
Judy could barely keep her eyes open, sitting on the edge of the hospital bed and holding Nick's paw for the last hour. She had a headache, and her chest was hurting again, but still, she wasn't willing to let Nick alone for even a single minute.
"He will be asleep for the rest of the day, maybe you should go home and take some rest, too," the nurse said to Judy while checking Nick's vital signs. When the bunny didn't react, the nurse sighed and left the room. After a few minutes, she returned and put her paw on Judy's shoulder. "Here… this will be more comfortable" the young lioness smiled friendly when the overtired rabbit slowly turned her head and gave her a pillow. "Formally you aren't allowed to sleep here, but practically…" she shrugged.
"Thank you," Judy said quietly with a grateful smile and took the pillow. When the nurse switched off the light and left the room again, the gray rabbit put her pillow beside Nick's and slowly crawled under his blanket. With her legs and arms carefully embracing his body, she buried her nose in his fur, and after less than a minute she was already deeply asleep.
Nobody noticed how the door handle was carefully pulled or when the door was opened just a small gap. Seeing both, the fox and the rabbit, being asleep, some mammal entered the room quietly, closing the door behind him again. His eyes were coal black, and his face mirrored the restrained hate. In his right paw, he had a scalpel. No more mind games, he would only cut both their throats while they were asleep. Playing games was beside talking too much one of the biggest weaknesses of most villains. Even his boss wanted to demonstrate how clever he was: Fooling around with the IT guys of the ZPD, physical torture for the Fox and mental one for the rabbit before eventually killing them, all while their friends and colleagues had to helplessly watch. He had no exact idea why his boss had planned all of this. But the room-intruder had some personal reasons to eliminate those cops – more than once he was humbled by them and they even thwarted his own plans several times. But this would end today. Just three more steps… two… one…
The room was abruptly lightened when the door was opened by a tigress, wearing some uniform of the Special Forces that already raided the warehouse a few hours ago. Within a fraction of a second, the first mammal let the scalpel vanish inside his shirt sleeve, silently cursing.
The tigress had not expected to discover some visitor in this hospital room, doing just her regular rounds like ordered by Fangmeyer. When she noticed the other mammal in the room, bending over the hospital bed, she reached for her weapon and said in a commanding voice: "Who are you, what are you doing in here? In this part of the hospital are no visitors allowed! I need your ID card and have to report you to…" – The other mammal was slowly turning around, smiling softly. The lioness immediately stands at attention, securing her gun. "Sir! I'm sorry, I didn't recognize you! We secured the in-patient department on this floor and were instructed that nobody is allowed to visit the victims without explicit permission of the Chief or Detective Fangmeyer. I assume you already talked to them?"
"Sorry, it was a hard night. No, I didn't talk to the Chief yet, I just wanted to make sure that Hopps and Wilde are both safe and sound" the other mammal said with a calm and quiet voice.
"Of course, sir! We can just go to the shift supervisor, he will make sure you are probably registered as a visitor and get your permission from Chief Bogo. We have to comply with formalities, Sir, but of course, you are already aware of this". The tigress suggested a small smile and hold the door open for the other mammal.
"That's all right, but as those two are still asleep, I will postpone my visit and getting that clearance from the Chief in the meantime. As you were!" he nodded slowly and walked down the corridor, acutely aware that the tigress was still watching him alerted after closing the door to the hospital room again. "Damn it" he muttered after leaving the hospital through the main entrance, throwing the scalpel into the next trash bin.
"It won't get easier, you know that, right?" Sven smiled somewhat amused and put his smartphone down again. The last sunbeams of Twilight were twinkling through the window of their hospital room. The young rabbit family had slept the whole day – as the father of the newborn kits he got his own bed in their single hospital room, but as both beds were big enough for mammals like bears or tigers he slept together with his wife in the same one.
After the nurse had brought them some sandwiches and hot tea for supper, he wanted to recall Evelin's siblings who tried to call them several times during the day while they were still asleep. Judy and Sven had decided to inform nobody in Bunnyburrow without having more information. But it seemed that Clara and Ralph had nonetheless quickly noticed that her little sister and her husband didn't arrive in Bunnyburrow as planned. At least there was no unanswered call from Evelin's parents – or even worse, his own relatives – yet.
"I know, hun. But the moment we tell them that I already gave birth to four cute and healthy bunnies, they want to visit us immediately with all our siblings. And that's the moment we would have to explain that we are not in the Bunnyburrow-Hospital, but still in Zootopia. At the latest when they arrive here they will notice my injuries, and after all, what happened to Judy a few weeks ago, they would totally go nuts now, prohibiting everyone to ever revisit the city…" Evelin eventually sighed, rolled her eyes and shrugged.
Sven snickered, sat down on the edge of her bed and gave her a soft kiss while putting his arm around her shoulders. "I'm sure it would not get as worse as you are suggesting. You are alive and healthy, and our kits are all saved and healthy, too. That's the main thing, whiskers. But when we are not calling your siblings back shortly, they will get really nervous and eventually inform our parents before we get a chance to intervene" he winked.
"At least let us talk with Juju first. They surely tried to call her, too, and we should synchronize what we are going to tell them" Evelin smiled, returning his kiss. Then she hesitated for a moment and looked worried again. "That brings us to the question, what we are going to tell Judy. She seems to have no idea, but I could read off your reaction while we were in the ambulance, that you are anything but clueless. How much do you already know?" her voice was rather quiet now, having a slightly scared look in her eyes.
The black rabbit sighed and dropped his gaze, watching their four little baby bunnies sleeping peacefully in their crib. "I don't know a lot, whiskers. But I heard… things… from a video through a wall. And eventually, Bogo told me somewhat more in confidence so I would agree that he asks Judy … for help". He tried to answer as vaguely and cagey as possible, feeling uneasy to be reminded of these events.
"What did you hear from this video?" Evelin asked with a calm but still worried voice, caressing softly over his cheek with her paw. When he hesitated to answer, she sighed. "We need to talk about it, darling. Just don't forget, that whatever you overheard, there was a happy end and I'm here with you again". She hugged him tenderly, fondling with his drooping ears.
When Sven finally started to talk, his mouth was dry and his voice a bit shaky. "At first I could only hear someone whistling some kind of melody. But after a few seconds, there were some stifled screams of pain… and… some…" he paused, closing his eyes and holding Evelin's paw even tighter. "There was also some muffled … desperate crying… from someone with an apparently higher pitched voice…" – Sven had some tears in his eyes, his wife holding him tight with a sad look on her face. "I didn't know what happened, but could only imagine the worst. And when the Chief later told me, that Nick had tried to overpower their kidnapper, but eventually failed … I was sure that I had lost you and that you were dying in that very moment alone and being in mortal fear".
"Good God! Sven… I don't know what to say…" she sobbed quietly, kissing and hugging her sniveling husband affectionately. "I wish you hadn't witnessed anything of that."
After sitting on the bed and consoling each other for several minutes, Evelin finally asked him with a quiet voice: "And how much of this does Judy know?"
"I didn't tell her what I overheard from that video. And after the Chief said about Nick's failed attempt to overpower your kidnapper, we decided to not tell her either. Not without knowing what happened exactly".
"You actually left her in the dark about the possibility that… that we… what… happened?" Evelin was glaring at him in disbelief. "Sweet cheese and crackers! That explains her mortally scared facial expression when she saw Nick in that ambulance. How dare you? She is a police officer, not some dumb country-bunny! She …"
"Whiskers, please… it was no easy decision, really! But Ju was in an exceptional state that evening. She passed out several times, we had to call her family doctor. Actually, she concealed the fact that she had quite some pain in her lower abdomen for nearly two days. She was also enfeebled the whole day and the message of you being kidnapped made her finally collapse. And when Nick vanished without telling anybody what he was up to, she was just a nervous wreck, and her doctor told me in confidence that she has to settle down by all means to prevent a sudden termination of her pregnancy. I really couldn't tell her anything – for her own good! Even if it was difficult and I felt more than uneasy with it".
During Sven's narrative, Evelin gasped a few times, holding her paws in front of her mouth. When he finished, she just shook her head slowly. "I'm sorry that I blamed you, I didn't know the half of it!"
Sven smiled softly, caressing her cheeks. "Don't mention it, whiskers." But he quickly got serious again, eventually asking quietly: "Do you want to tell me what happened in that basement?"
Evelin's face grows dark, her eyes staring blankly on her paws and the bandaged wrists.
"Sorry, just forget my question…" Sven said quickly, putting his arms around his shivering wife and holding her tight.
But the gray bunny slowly shook her head. "It's hard to talk about it, and I don't want to frighten and falsely alarm you retrospectively."
"Just be assured that I'll be there for you, whenever you are ready to talk about it."
They cuddled for awhile, but finally, Evelin started to climb out of her bed, wearing a hospital gown instead of her ruined dress. Sven watched her while she walked to the washbasin, dousing first her paws and then her face and ears with some cold water. When she turned around, Sven was still watching her with a slight grin.
"What?" Eve asked curiously.
"Those hospital gowns are open on the backside…" he winked.
Evelin poked her tongue at him and replied his grin. "Something you'd better understand: Juju will ask me a lot of questions about last night. And you know that she is a living lie detector! Even if Nick hasn't told her anything yet, I don't think that I will be able to fool her. And to be honest, I don't want to lie to her. She is my best friend, and there was never ever any secret between us".
Sven nodded slowly, "I know, whiskers."
She sat down on his lap and smiled softly. "I would suggest, we are going to search Nick's room. For one I really want to know how he's doing – at least I owe him my life and that of our kits" she smiled with a side glance to the crib. On the other hand, I bet that we will find Juju, too, if we find Nick" she winked knowingly.
"And our phone call to your siblings?"
"Well, send them a message that everything is okay and that we are currently busy, but will call them later. That should silence them for a while without crying havoc to our parents" she smiled. "After talking with Judy, we discuss how much we should tell everybody."
Sven nodded and tied up some laces at the back of Evelin's gown with a light smile. He was somewhat afraid to face Nick or Judy. The black rabbit secretly reproached his sister-in-law that his lovely wife was confused with her while staying alone in the apartment due to Nick and Judy enjoying a dumb baseball game. And he blamed himself for Nick's condition because the fox saved Evelin when he couldn't do it himself. Sven felt really sheep for his thoughts, knowing they were nonsense. As he didn't want to bother his brave bunny with them, he just stood up from the edge of the bed, typing a quick message with his phone and walked over to his stout bunny who was carefully taking their kits on her arm.
Nick was stroking Judy's head and ears now for a while with his good paw. His little rabbit was cuddling with his tail, burying her own muzzle into his warm and soft fur. They were both awake for quite a while, but neither of them had said a word until now, just enjoying the darkness and silence around them. They could only sense each other, and no words could have better expressed the bonding both were feeling thereby.
The silence was cut off when someone knocked gently at their door. Nick didn't react, but Judy's ears twitched instinctively. After maybe ten seconds it tapped again, this time a bit steadier. The Fox sighed quietly, giving Judy a soft kiss between her ears and closed his eyes, knowing that their silence would be finally interrupted every second now. When the door was finally opened, she blinked a few times due to the bright light from the corridor that directly beamed onto their bed.
"Told you she is awake, hun" Evelin smiled and nudged her husband into his side, entering the room slowly. "Hey, Juju…" she smiled even wider, quickly walking towards the only bed.
Judy slowly sat up on the bed, opened her arms wide and when Evelin was finally near enough she hugged her as tight as she could. "Eve…" she sobbed quietly, and her little sister patted cradling her back. "I'm so sorry…"
"Psshh… It's okay, Judy. You don't have to be sorry for anything; it wasn't your fault, sis" Evelin whispered soothingly into her ear. Sven had already told her, that her older sister was blaming herself for Evelin being kidnapped in the first place – as Judy was apparently the planned victim. But that was of course nonsense, at least in Evelin's eyes.
While Judy was still sobbing and firmly holding her sister, Nick slowly turned around and elevated the head of his bed with a remote control until he was sitting upright. He also switched on some dim ceiling lighting with the same remote control as he knew, that the rabbits could barely see anything in the nearly dark room. When Evelin looked in his direction, she gasped startled, and even Sven winced a bit at his sight. The once red-brownish fur of the fox was now shot through with countless dark spots. His left eye was completely shut, and the fur around it suffused with blood. The fingers on his right paw were splinted, and there was a full bandage around his chest.
"Frozen harvest!" Evelin whispered in consternation.
"Well, gladly I was just a bit chilly, not literally frozen" Nick tried his usual sly smile, but it looked more horrifying than relaxing.
"I dread to ask how you are, Nick. You must have horrible pains!" Sven said quietly.
"Nah! They gave me some morphine, it's just like a light headache" he wryly smiled but was apparently downplaying it. "Hope you are feeling better, too?" Nick looked to Eve who was slowly breaking loose from Judy's hug. "At least you're looking marvelous again, Evelin."
"Oh, shut your trap, you dumb fox…" Judy's little sister blubbered out and hugged the fox carefully. Nick returned her hugging, trying to soothe the sobbing doe in his arms. His eyes met Judy's who smiled sadly. She hadn't shed a single tear the whole time while they were cuddling, but now her beautiful purple eyes were glazing over, and she was on the verge of starting to cry, too. Nick wasn't sure if he would be able to bear this now…
"How are your little kits, are they okay?" the Fox said decidedly easygoing, trying to deflect everyone's attention to something more enjoyable. It actually worked, and Judy started to smile in Sven's direction, who were carrying the four baby bunnies in his arms. When the black rabbit made a few steps in their direction, Evelin broke loose from Nick, wiping away some tears with the back of her paw and also started to smile. The two male baby rabbits were all black with just a few light gray spots on their ears and muzzle. One of the female baby rabbits was black with gray spots all over her body, and the other one was mostly light gray with two black spots on her ears. They were sleeping peacefully, and all of them were tiny enough so they would easily fit together on a single paw of the Fox.
"They are really adorable, I'm so happy for you two!" Judy smiled moony, carefully petting the little kits with her finger.
Evelin reached out and carefully cupped one of the black bunnies. She turned to Nick and with a smile, she put the little kit down on an unwounded spot of Nick's upper-body. "May I introduce… Foxy-Nicky, this is Bunny-Nicky… Bunny-Nicky, this is your godfather and life saver Foxy-Nicky".
Nick was taken aback with three rabbits smiling brightly at him. When he recovered himself again, he looked questioning to Evelin, suggesting a small gesture with his paw: "May I…?" – When the young mother nodded with a light giggle, he was carefully reaching out with a single finger of his good paw. The little baby bunny had snuggled up into his warm fur and was still asleep. When Nick finally touched it, his paw was shaking slightly, but Bunny-Nicky was still sleeping peacefully and eventually, the Fox had the courage to stroke tenderly over the tiny body. In the meanwhile, Evelin had reached out for the second black baby rabbit and put it now also onto Nick's chest beside his brother.
"And this is Pips…" she smiled brightly, then leaned forward and whispered to the little kit: "This is your godfather and life saver Piberius, little Pips…"
Nick started to snicker quietly, and it was the first time it didn't sound forced at all. "Oh, come on. Have some mercy on this little sweetie pie. He deserves some better name than this. Piberius is already bad enough, but Pips?"
They all were dissolving into giggles, and Nick stroked carefully also the second bunny's head with his finger. Pips started to yawn – looking absolutely adorable in doing so – and eventually nibbled on Nick's fur while falling asleep again.
"Awww…!" Evelin panted in a rapture, putting her paws in front of her mouth.
Nick continued to carefully stroke the two little bunnies, and when he looked up, he saw Judy again with tears in her eyes. But this time she was really touched, smiling happily. And when Sven handed her the two little baby girls, her beaming face let everyone forget last night's events for a short while.
It was nearly 21 o'clock and all seven rabbits – plus Nick – were in a small guest lounge at the end of the corridor. Judy, Evelin, and Sven were sitting on a beige-colored couch, surrounded by some dieffenbachia, balsamina, and philodendron. Judy was sitting near the window, facing Nick and holding the four little kits on her arm, dangling them softly. Evelin was sitting beside her, legs crossed on the seat and leaning against Sven's shoulder while he was cuddling her. Nick sat – against his protests – in a wheelchair, wearing now the same hospital gown like Evelin. Despite having slept the whole day, everyone felt still somewhat exhausted but also enjoyed sitting together for now. They were actually hardly speaking for the whole time, just looking surreptitiously at each other now and then. Eventually, it was Sven's ringing smartphone that made everyone cringe at once. Evelin managed to sneak a peek on the display before her husband could reject the call with an "I'm currently busy but will call you back soon!" auto-responder message. It was Valentina, one of Evelin's litter sisters who tried to call them this time. With an anxious glance, she looked to Sven. None of them wanted to bring up the obvious subject – but if they wouldn't recall their siblings rather soon, it could get even worse. There was no other choice…
"We… have still to discuss this whole… situation" Sven said slowly and breathed deeply.
"Mom?" Judy asked quietly, but Evelin shook her head.
"No. Not yet. But Ralph and Clara called already a few times. And now also Valentina".
"And that's just our phone. I guess you left yours deliberately at home?" Sven asked.
Judy slowly shook her head with a sigh and tapped on her pants pocket. "It's turned off, though."
"Well, Mom will already flip it when she gets to know that she missed the birth of Kathryn, Nicky, Annie and Pips" Evelin smiled blandly. "I would even consider keeping the attendant circumstances in private. But even when I manage to hide my ankles, I'm unsure how to conceal my injured wrists, too. And those will raise questions for sure".
"Maybe some excessive bondage games?" Nick muttered with a lukewarm smile.
Sven glared at him but Evelin smiled meekly, knowing he just wanted to lighten the mood with his usual ease – and it actually implicated a shred of truth. The only one showing absolutely no reaction to Nick's saying was Judy. She was sitting detached in her corner of the couch, still dandling the little kits, raising both Evelin's and Nick's suspicion. When the bunny cop realized, that their worried looks were lingering on her, she slowly lifted her head, talking back to them.
"What?! I seem to be the only one not knowing what was going on, so just continue to ignore me!"
Judy's sad and angry look gave Evelin a chill and Nick gave a wince of pain at her harsh tone as if she had stabbed him with a knife right into his chest. The older sister had immediate regrets about her outburst when she noticed their reactions, started to sob and turned around handing the baby bunnies with shaking paws back to Evelin.
"I'm sorry..." Judy leaped from the couch and began to cry, running stumbling out of the lounge. Nick wanted to spring to his feet, but he actually was too weak and just managed to catch himself before falling to the ground. By the same token, Evelin wanted to get up from the couch, but Sven holds her back with his paw on her arm.
"I'll take a look at her, whiskers…" he smiled reassuringly at her. "You two need a one-on-one anyway" The black rabbit gave his wife a soft kiss, got off the couch and followed Judy with quick steps.
Sven stood somewhat uneasy in front of a closed door. He could distinctly hear how Judy was weeping bitterly on the other side of it but still hesitated. Why of all rooms did she choose the ladies' cloakroom? Putting his paw onto the doorknob, he breathed deeply and finally opened the door.
The crying doe was sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall. With a quick and nervous look, the male rabbit made sure that there were no other mammals in here, then walked over to his sister-in-law and kneeled beside her. When he finally put his arms around her, she leaned still crying on his shoulder. Sven tried to comfort her, carefully stroking her back and rocking slowly back and forth.
It took quite a while before Judy simmered down again, eventually only sniveling quietly. "I'm so sorry, Sven" she babbled dimly.
"Shhh…. there is no need to, you didn't do anything wrong," he said quietly, but Judy nearly started to cry again.
"I detected your reproachful looks, and you are so right!" she stammered after a while.
Sven sighed with a feeling of guilt – "Ju…"
"No, you don't have to deny it! I'm so humiliated and just have to own up to it. If it hadn't been for me, Evelin would have never been kidnapped!"
"Judy…" Sven tried to interrupt her flow, but the doe just shook her head desperately.
"I was nearly responsible for the death of your kits!"
"Judy…!" he was now speaking firmly, holding her at her shoulders.
"You nearly lost your wife, just because she was randomly in my apartment!"
"Judith!" Sven was now almost shouting, trying to get through to her.
But Judy went into hysterics instead, yelling desperately. "Evelin didn't deserve this! Neither of you does! Nick is going to hate me for this as well as you and Evelin are! I will lose everyone I love, being all alone, I cannot endure anymo…"
Judy's last yelled words were reverberating with the tiled walls. Sven's face was ashen pale under his black fur and his paw trembling heavily. He only slapped her face very lightly, just enough to bring her back into reality – but her thunderstruck look and the sudden silence now was sending cold shivers up and down his spine.
"S-sorry… I just… I didn't mean to…" he stammered terrified.
"Thank you" Judy whispered calmly and wiped some tears away with the back of her shaking paw.
"Are you… okay?" Sven asked still somewhat scared and worried.
"Not in the slightest," she said with a crooked smile. "But I'm feeling better now." She slowly got up from the floor, accepting Sven's paw when he offered to help her.
"Judy…" he gently put his paw on her cheek, making her flinch involuntarily. When he realized his faux pas, he pulled his arm back with a start. "Sorry!"
"It's okay, never mind" she put her arms around Sven's neck and hugged him reassuring.
Sven sighed and patted her back. "Nothing that happened is your fault, Ju. And none of us could have prevented it. They are all alive, and we are back together, that's the most important thing right now." Then he looked around somewhat nervously. "Do you… uh… think… we could get maybe… eh… leave the ladies' room?"
Judy nodded exhausted with a soft smile, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and turned around to the wash basins to splatter her face with some cold water. After drying her fur again with a paper towel, she linked arms with Sven. "Let's go back to Eve and Nick…"
When the two rabbits arrived back in the visitor's lounge, Nick was sitting on the couch with Evelin leaning against his shoulder, the four little kits still sleeping in her lap. Also attending was Chief Bogo, Detective Fangmeyer, and a big black bear wearing a suit instead of a uniform Judy didn't recognize.
"Good evening, Chief. Fang." Judy greeted them and walked up to the black bear. "Hello, my name is Officer Judy Wilde." She didn't even hesitate when using Nick's last name, getting straight that she and her fox would hang together no matter what.
Sven sat down on the other side of the couch, and his wife changed her position to make some room for her sister and also cuddle with her worried looking husband. The black bear handed Judy his big paw. "Blackide, Internal Affairs Department." His voice was little more than a hoarse whispering, trying to give it some sinister undertone.
However, the little rabbit's nose didn't even twitch while returning his looks and shaking his paw. After sitting down between Nick and Evelin, she put her paw on top of her husbands, their fingers interlacing.
"We were recording the witness reports for the past events," Fangmeyer explained in a calm voice. "Blackide is present, as one of his cases is also affected."
"And to judge Officer Nicholas Wilde's unauthorized actions in this case," the bear added speaking low.
"Excuse me?" Judy's ears shoot up, but Nick gently pressed her paw as a signal to bite back any comment.
"Routine process, Hopps" Bogo muttered. "Can we continue now?"
Nick and Evelin shared a quick look. While Sven ran after Judy to comfort her, the two had discussed how much they wanted to reveal of the past events to their partners. Nick wasn't eager to burden Judy with a detailed description of what they had to suffer, but Evelin also didn't want to lie neither to her nor to Sven. It was during that discussion that Bogo, Fangmeyer, and Blackide appeared. Until Sven and Judy came back, Evelin had reported how she was surprised and stunned in the apartment, only to wake up in the basement. So, continuing the witness report now would also imply, that Judy and Sven would get to know a very detailed narration of the following events. On the pro-side, they would only have to tell it once and not over and over again.
Now it was Judy's time to press Nick's paw reassuring; and also Sven was holding his wife somewhat tighter in his arm. Evelin gave him a soft kiss, then nodded to Nick with a small smile. She knew it would be hard for her to go through everything again now, but the mammals that were most significant to her were here with her. And it would be way worse for Nick, all the more because Judy was still more or less clueless. Nick sighed and took a deep breath, returned Judy's soft pressing of his paw and turned back to his three colleagues. Bogo nodded and pressed the record button on the Dictaphone.
"As I already said," Nick started to narrate slowly and with a quiet voice, "we left the apartment the moment we noticed, that it is a crime scene. While I called our emergency dispatcher, Sven called our family doctor as Judy had fainted due to some medical conditions regarding her pregnancy that aren't relevant here."
Nick's description was detailed and businesslike, complemented by Evelin for those events he couldn't remember due to being unconscious. They had to suspend the recording two times, though, as Judy nearly broke down sobbing and needed to be calmed by Nick and Evelin again. Fangmeyer used those interruptions to get them all something to drink. Blackide listened the whole time keeping a straight face, making some notes from time to time. Bogo didn't say anything, but he watched his only fox officer with some sympathies.
Several hours later, the Chief put the dictaphone back into his pocket. While Blackide was still making some notes on a notepad, the Buffalo asked him to have a short one-to-one outside the room, and both mammals left the lounge. Nick was holding his trembling and quietly sobbing rabbit in his arms, giving her a soft kiss between the ears.
"It's okay, carrots. I'm here with you now and will not leave you ever again. No need to be afraid anymore, my sweet little cottontail." He whispered into her ear while crawling with his paw over her cheek. Judy snuggled with her nose into his fur, leaning her ears on top of his chest. His rather calm and regular heartbeat was soothing to her.
"I was obligated by every single colleague of precinct one to assure you of any help or anything else you could need. Just give Clawhauser or me a call, and we will be there for you." Fangmeyer said with a little smile. "And needless to say, the same applies to you, Mr. and Mrs. Hopps-Brooks." The tiger said, now speaking to the other two rabbits. Sven nodded and continued to crawl his wife, holding her tight in his arms.
"Could you already figure out who is behind all that?" Judy's voice sounded weary. "Who is interrogating this Ram and Ferret? If you need any help with it, I…"
"No way, Judy," Nick interrupted her at once. "I won't allow you to go even near those … those…" he couldn't find a fitting word before Fangmeyer interrupted him.
"No need to worry about that," the tiger said with suppressed anger, his muzzle was twitching lightly. He turned his head to the entrance, but Bogo and Blackide were still talking together on the outside. "This information is confidential, so don't ask any further questions about it. But Ferris was killed by a sniper while we were conveying him to federal prison. Two of my squad members are severely wounded but will probably survive."
"You must be joking!" Judy gasped, her muzzle twitching furiously. "But aren't the routes of those transports confidential?"
Fangmeyer nodded, then sighed while rubbing his nose bridge. "Also, Ramstad was killed with some sort of contact poison while being on his way into custody."
"But…" Judy was bewildered. "But how!?"
"I guess, that explains the presence of Blackide. Only another ZPD officer would have access to the transportation route or get access to a prisoner." Nick said with his head bowed. "Presumably someone high-ranking."
Fangmeyer didn't respond but nodded as confirmation. "My team has secured this whole hospital wing right now, only audited personnel is currently allowed here and visitors only with authorization by Chief Bogo or me. We are also arranging witness protection for all of you after your discharge. Internal Affairs are currently auditing colleagues from another precinct for it."
"Wait, what does that mean?" Sven spoke up for the first time since he and Judy returned.
"That means," Chief Bogo said with some drained facial expression while entering the room again, now without the black bear, "that we will lodge you all at a classified location, guarded 24-7 until we know for sure what is going on here and can be certain you are out of danger."
"But I have to work!" Sven protested.
"That's impossible, both our families want to see our little kits and …" Evelin chimed in.
"As long as Nick has to stay in the hospital I'm going nowhere! Also, I don't need any overseer, I'm perfectly capable of …" Judy exclaimed at the same time – Nick was the only one who didn't really react to that news, appearing abstractedly.
"Cut it out!" Bogo snapped at them after everyone started to talk at the same time. He had not slept for two nights, and after losing two suspects and having to deal with internal affairs, he wasn't capable of any more arguments for now. "Someone is after you and your family, Hopps, and apparently, they do stop for nothing! I will try to arrange a visit with your close family in a few days, but no further contact during your witness protection! And Wilde is perfectly safe here, some officers will guard his room 24/7! We try to resolve that case as fast as possible, but …"
"And instead of us, they could just come after one of our few hundred siblings!" Evelin cut him off, causing Bogo nearly to fume.
"She is right, Chief." Judy chimed in. "You cannot protect our whole family, and they would be all in danger, just to decoy us out of coverage. As Evelin's kidnapping just proved! And you are damn right with Nick being guarded because I will protect my husband and partner as long as he has to stay here!
"Hopps, you cannot…" Bogo started impatiently but was interrupted, this time by Sven.
"I would never risk that someone harms our families instead of us!"
"Neither of us would!" Evelin added.
Bogo was on the verge of fulminating when Fangmeyer intervened and lifted his paws. "We should stop arguing about that now. We are all exhausted and need some sleep. Chief Bogo and I will discuss our options tomorrow. We understand that this whole situation is causing some vexations, but you should all be happy to have survived the attempted assassination – for now!"
"I also talked with Blackide, there will be no further investigation against Officer Wilde regarding his actions in this case." Bogo was a lot calmer now, being exhausted and he finally wanted to get out of this uniform he was wearing now for days to take a hot shower. "He also told me, that he ordered two foreign officers from other precincts who will not leave your side from now on: Officer Grizzmund from precinct 5 and maybe you remember Officer Fanghanel from precinct 9."
Judy sighed with a slight smile, "Eliot Fanghanel is nobody who is quickly forgotten, but we are also friends with him and his wife since our last common case with those kidnapped mammals. But I don't think we have met Officer Grizzmund, yet. Or do you know him, Ni…" Judy turned to Nick, but shrieked out of a sudden, giving a jerk to all others as her fox had distorted eyes, his mouth slightly opened and leaned unconsciously on the couch.
It was the next morning when Nick woke up and slowly opened his eyes again, laying in his hospital bed. For a moment he thought that he had double vision, as he was looking into four gorgeous purple eyes and two soft smiling muzzles were looking at him.
"Hey, carrots…" he whispered and blinked a few times, his vision getting better. One of the two faces leaned forward and gave him a kiss and Nick purred involuntary, closing his eyes.
Evelin giggled silently, "I didn't know that a fox can purr like a feline!" Even Sven was chuckling in the background. When Nick opened his eyes again, it was only Judy he could see and smell, and he took a deep breath.
"Hey, my snuggly bunny…" he whispered in her ear, which made her smile.
"You really scared us earlier." Judy stroked his cheek carefully. "The doctor said it was just a syncopal attack due to exhaustion. And that you should stay in that bed for this week!"
Nick sighed but also noticed now something laying on his chest. When he lifted his head, he saw four little bunnies snuggling into his fur and sleeping peacefully. "I hope those are still Evelin's and I wasn't unconscious that long!" he winked, and Judy laughed lightly.
"Don't worry," she took his healthy paw and put it on her own belly. "The doctor said, you have to wait six or seven weeks more for ours to be actually born. Even if I fear, I will just go bust until then." She sighed with a wink. "I already look as fat as aunt Audrey and not even half the time has passed."
"You look fantastic, Judy," Nick said with a dreamy smile that made his wife all emotional. "And it was the memories of you that made me persevere all that suffering. I knew that you were safe, and as long as I could face it, Evelin would be safe, too, giving you enough time to find us. I'm sorry that you had to endure the suspense. But I had to do it."
"I know, my dumb fox. But remember, that you are not alone anymore and that you have a loving family that needs you, too." She softly kissed his paw and wiped some tears away. "We are a second to none team, but only together. Don't forget that, okay?"
Nick nodded slowly and smiled. "I promise, Carrots." Another rabbit was sniveling silently, and a short moment later Evelin was hugging him from the other side of the bed, scrubbing with her nose over his cheek.
"Whatever they would have done to me couldn't have been worse than witnessing what they did to you. I don't know how I should ever pay that debt."
"Oh, come on, stop it, Evelin." Nick turned his head around, making Evelin bopping against his snout accidentally which makes her giggle again – and the red fox blushing somewhat. She gave him a quick kiss on his nose and winked.
"You earned that, my hero in red fur." She yawned with a smile. "And also many many thanks from Mom, Dad, and probably a few hundred other siblings. They don't know how to thank you, and everyone hopes you are getting well again quickly."
"So, I guess you had talked to them by now," Nick said with a slightly worried look. "How much do they know?"
"Only the PG-13 version of it. That I got kidnapped and that you were injured during your attempt of rescuing me. And of course, that I owe you my life and that of our little kits." She smiled thankfully with a warm smile.
"There was no need to mention that," Nick said somewhat awkward. "I did just what everyone else would have done in that situation, that was nothing special."
"Since when are you that humble?" Judy said, and all rabbits snickered.
"It was really remarkable what you did, Nick," Evelin said eventually. "And I want everyone to know that because I never was as proud of being able to call someone my brother as I am with you." She smiled, trying to get not as emotional as Judy normally got. Sven put his arms around her from behind and hold her tight.
"You two should have some rest," Judy said smiling to Sven and her little sister. "We will have an eye for your little ones in the meanwhile. Not that there is much to worry about as they are sleeping the whole time." The gray doe winked.
Evelin turned her head to Sven who nodded smiling. "I think a few hours of sleep will do us good. We will come over for lunch again, though." He took his wife's paw and gave her a soft kiss on her cheek.
After Judy's sister and her husband left the room, Nick turned to his wife again. The rabbit was holding his paw, nuzzling it slowly. He could still see how much his witness report of the events had upset and wrecked her, but now trying to be that tough ZPD rabbit again – with modest success.
"So," he said after a while, determined to distract the gray doe somewhat. "As it seems, we are already babysitting our godchildren. Do you think that ours will be as good and sleepy, too? Being parents will be a cakewalk in that case!" he winked at Judy and made her snicker.
"Oh, they are only that sleepy for the first one to two weeks, my dear. But after that, they are full of go. Be glad that we only have two for now, any more and I would fear for your sanity."
Nick raised his eyebrows, "For now? Someone has big plans, huh?"
"Don't worry, more than maybe a dozen would be too much for our apartment, we have to look for something bigger first."
"Eh…" Nick gulped, and Judy grinned at him roguishly. He then grabbed with his paw her head and draw her near to his face, giving her a kiss. "For you, I would even handle a whole burrow with a few hundred rabbits, as long as it is that what you really want."
"I already have everything I really want, dumb fox. And those two…" she nodded to her belly, "will just make things perfect."
Haemapure is a blood substitute that can be used on a broad range of species. While not as good as whole blood, it is a viable option when the compatible blood of the correct species isn't available. It is mentioned by eng050599 in his story "Lost causes and broken dreams" based on a real product – although currently not available on the market. He also helped me with the medical aspects in this chapter, so big thanks to him!
I also switched my editor with this chapter, as my previous one has not enough time anymore. You now have to thank JudithWildeHopps for hunting down all those nasty little grammar and spelling errors I left behind. Needless to say, I just wanted to test her and added those all on purpose…
The next chapter will hopefully not take as long as this one. But I will also post and update some other little stories in the meantime, with a lot more fluff and comedy as we saw here lately. So keep an eye on my accounts if you are interested in reading those, too.
The audio drama will also continue in a few weeks, starting with chapter 3x01. There will be some surprise regarding the voice acting, so keep an eye on Sean's YouTube-Channel. ;-)