Disclamer: I dont own Zootopia or Firewatch. Please support the official release.
Nick pulled his rusted pick up into a small dirt parking spot near a weathered wooden fence. As he put the orange truck into park he looked ahead at a small wooden information board. The fox let out a sigh as he weighed is the current situation. Nick had an odd demeanor about him. He seemed distant and it wouldn't take a behavioral expert to see he was depressed. His normally bright green eyes seemed dull. His vivid russet fur seemed matted and unkempt. This was a beaten fox, a mammal who obviously had experienced hardships.
As Nick stepped out of the pickup truck that had brought him here he took a deep breath, filling his lungs with mountain air. It was refreshing, brisk, sweet, and he hated it. This was a fox that had spent his whole life in the middle of a bustling metropolis filled with sounds, smells, and energy. Now though he found himself surrounded by an almost silent calm and nature. Even though long ago foxes would thrive in this environment Nick felt like he had made a huge mistake. The fox took a few minutes as he weighed his options. He still had a chance to call this off. Just head back and give the Park's Department a call and advise them he couldn't do the job they had asked for.
Nick slowly pulled out his cellphone and unlocked the screen. Instantly he wished he hadn't. A couple's smiling faces stared up at him and it made him wince. He looked at the reception indicator and noticed he had barely one bar. If he wanted to make a call now would be the time. He had a feeling that by the time he reached his assigned destination he would lose all reception completely.
Nick mulled over his options once more and looked back at the cellphone's screen. It was the smiling vixen that drew most of his attention. She was beautiful. Her bright smile, the way her light blue eyes seemed to hold a flare of hope and passion. Even her fur gave off an energy. Nick let out a low growl and flipped through the phone's settings. It took a minute or two to navigate the menu but it was all worthwhile when he finally flipped back to the main screen. The wallpaper had been replaced with a default one that came with a phone. Nick had chosen a sunrise over a lake for the new screen. He felt it was fitting with where he was.
He let out a light chuckle at the sudden realization that he would probably see a similar scene while working in the forest for the next few weeks.
Nick walked around to the open trunk of his truck and grabbed a large backpack that was loaded with supplies and clothing. He then grabbed a duffle and a canteen and slung them over his shoulders. After ensuring his truck was as secure as he could make it the fox slowly took a few steps towards the information board.
There were a few fliers. Some about watching out for hazards on the path. Others about keeping your campsite clean so others could enjoy a debris-free park. There was one that stuck out to Nick. It was actually the reason he was here. It was a bright orange flier with a warning about forest fires. There were some tips about what to do to ensure campfires didn't get out of control. Along with a phone number and radio frequency to call in case, one saw the start of a forest fire. There was also a tip that involved Nick.
"If you need any assistance please feel free to visit one of the local fire watchtowers. They will be happy to give you directions or assistance"
Nick chuckled at the thought of him giving directions. Had this been Zootopia he could tell a mammal how to get anywhere. Here in the woods though he was just as lost.
"Oh yeah, the lake? Take a left at the old stump and then go about a block, can't miss it." He thought as he began to head down a small dirt path that would lead him deeper into the forest and to his post.
Nick had been in a bit of a slump recently and needed to get away from his life in the big city. A friend of his had recommended he get a temporary job somewhere to clear his mind. The very next day Nick had seen a posting from the Fairfax Parks Department. They had needed volunteers for the summer. There were many different jobs. Some were counselor jobs for a local camp, others were park maintenance jobs, and even lifeguards were needed for the lakes.
All of them were good jobs but Nick just didn't feel any of them stuck. The final posting though seemed right up his alley. It was for a firewatcher. To him, the job seemed simple.
Sit in a tower. Look for fires. Call if you see smoke.
The most important part was it would be in the middle of nowhere away from anyone else. After what he had been through recently he felt this was the perfect job for him.
As Nick strolled down the path he allowed his mind to wander to what he may experience over the next few weeks and what he hoped to experience. It turned out to be a short list:
To get some sleep
To be left the hell alone
To forget about her...
The last one caused him to pause for a moment. He looked around the deserted path to make sure no one was around.
He felt a tear roll down his cheek as a few memories began to cross his mind. Nick shook his head and let out a low growl. No, now wasn't the time for this. He had taken this job to forget about certain mammals, not constantly brood over them.
Nick banished any further thoughts from his mind and continued to hike down the dirt path. He had a long walk ahead of him and needed to keep his wits about him.
After a few hours of walking, the sun was beginning to set on the horizon. Nick had planned for this and had brought some supplies to keep him safe throughout the evening. It didn't take him long to set up a small campsite just off the main path. He didn't bother setting up a tent since the weather was already warm and the bugs left him alone for the most part. He lit a small gas powered lantern and set it in the middle of his campsite. It was the dry season after all and campfires were somewhat frowned upon and only to be used in extreme circumstances.
Nick spent the majority of the evening looking up at the stars. It wasn't before he was about to go to sleep that he checked his phone. The signal was going in and out. He knew by the time he reached his firewatch post he would have no reception. The urge to call a certain someone was starting to overwhelm him. His phone took the hint however and suddenly a message popped up: "No Service. Out of Coverage range"
Nick let out a sigh and cursed his own weakness. He had almost done something very stupid. The fox closed his eyes as he felt tears begin to form. Nick took in a deep breath and slowly willed himself into a restless sleep.
"Geeze how far out does this damn place have to be?" Nick groaned as he continued his hike as the mid-day sun beat down on him.
It had been somewhat of an uneventful day. He hadn't seen another mammal yet, which was a good thing. He had however heard the occasional bird call out in the distance and had been tempted to investigate. The thought of spending another night on the lumpy ground wasn't exactly very appealing though so he continued on.
It took the majority of the day but he finally reached the valley in which he would be assigned to Two Forks.
Nick had to admit as far as sights went this place would be hard to beat. He could make out a giant lake, several rivers, and a lot of trails for hiking. He even managed to spot an occupied campsite or two. The fox was somewhat relieved to know there were other mammals nearby but also apprehensive. He wasn't exactly in the mood to make small talk with strangers at the moment. Not even for a quick hustle or two. The fox chuckled to himself wondering if he could even hustle anyone out of anything here in the middle of the woods.
"Maybe sell them a premium pine cone or something?" Nick thought as he scanned his view.
Nick's eyes fell upon a tall blue tower in the distance.
"That must be the new home!" He thought with excitement.
He was so close now! He couldn't wait to just get to the top of that tower and kick his feet up.
Nick squinted as he noticed another tower far off in the distance. He guessed that was the tower watching the valley just beyond Two Forks. He remembered what the lady at the Parks Department had mentioned. His supervisor would be in that particular tower and would be his primary contact with the outside world.
"Well hopefully they are friendly," Nick muttered as he began down the path towards his firewatch tower.
It took a few more hours but Nick had finally made it to the Two Forks Firewatch tower. He was drenched in sweat and heaving at this point as he dragged his tired and aching body up the wooden steps.
Even though it only took a few minutes to scale the tower Nick felt like he had been walking for ages to the top. When he finally reached the last step he let out a small cheer.
"King of the world ma!" He chanted weakly as he fumbled for a set of keys that would allow him access to his new home.
Once inside the tower, Nick flipped the light switch on and scanned the room. It was actually larger than he had thought. There was a small desk with an ancient looking computer covered in a layer of dust. A counter of sorts ran across one length of the room. It was filled with supplies and a few small boxes. The next wall was dedicated to a makeshift kitchen and cabinets. The center of the room was taken up by what looked like an odd map device, a manual was placed haphazardly on top. Nick made a mental note to read up on this object later. Finally, there was a bed in the far corner. It didn't look like much but after the long day, Nick had it looked like a bed that would be in the finest resorts back in Zootopia. Nick threw his gear in a far corner and began to prepare for what would most likely be a deep sleep when he heard a small voice fill the room.
"Gooooooooood evening Two Forks. About time you showed up." The voice was obviously female, bubbly, happy, and full of joy.
Yep, Nick hated it.
"Uh, hello?" Nick responded as he scanned the room. There was no answer so Nick tried again, "Hello?"
"You are totally talking to yourself right now aren't you?" The voice shot back. "As much fun as it would be making you think this is the ghost of a firewatcher before you I am gonna get super bored if I don't have someone to talk to soon. There is a small orange walkie-talkie on the desk by that fossil of a computer you got, pick it up and press the black button."
Nick followed the voice's directions and picked up the small orange device and keyed the microphone, "Um hello, testing, can you read me...or whatever? Over?"
"Oh sounds like we got a cute one." The voice responded back playfully, "First off, we aren't the cops, so that over and out junk, yeah lose it. Secondly, I can hear you loud and clear."
"Oh great, this is gonna be fun," Nick mumbled before keying up the radio once more, "Got it, lose the cop talk. Any other requests?"
"Yeah, got any funny accents? I sometimes like to switch things up and go for something more western." The voice came back with so much happiness that Nick felt like he may vomit.
"Sorry, but all out of accents right now, that's what happens when you are super tired," Nick said, trying his best to lay on a heavy hint.
"If only there was some way to fix that." The voice shot back, either oblivious to the hint or choosing to ignore it, "I won't keep you. Just wanted to introduce myself. My name is Judy Hopps. I am the firewatch supervisor and your neighbor over at Thorofare lookout."
"Nice to meet you, Judy," Nick said, doing his best to sound polite even though he wanted this conversation to end. "My name is Nick Wilde, just call me Nick."
"I intended to, sweetheart just didn't seem appropriate yet." Judy shot back over the radio. Nick had to chuckle at this one, maybe she wasn't all bad.
"Yeah, but hottie is perfectly professional," Nick teased as he took a seat at his desk. There was a moment of silence before he keyed up again, "I am gonna regret saying that aren't I?"
"Sorry there Hottie I didn't quite get that," Judy replied over the radio, it sounded like she was still recovering from laughing.
"How long is that name gonna stick?" Nick asked as he put a paw to his forehead.
"How long are you gonna be here?" Judy replied.
"Oh come on," Nick pleaded as he looked out the window. He could see a small light in the distance and began to associate it with the voice on the radio. As if he were actually talking to the tower itself.
"Yeah no…sorry there Hottie but when you say something like that. You just gotta deal with the consequences," Judy teased.
Nick let out a weak laugh, "So what do I call you then?"
"Oh well since I haven't said anything embarrassing yet I guess you will just have to call me Judy," the voice replied playfully.
"Well, what are you?" Nick asked, he knew it was a bit forward but since Judy wasn't in front of him he couldn't exactly tell what species she was.
"What am I? Smooth Hottie, super smooth," Judy replied.
"Sorry, just trying to put a face with the name. I mean I am a fox and you are…."Nick said as he tried to extend an olive branch in a vain hope Judy would reveal her identity.
"I am giggling so much harder now Hot Fox," Judy said as the radio filled with laughter.
"Okay I am just gonna give up and go to bed," Nick grumbled as he looked from the tower in the distance to the inviting bed in the corner of his room.
"Awww, but I am having so much fun listening to you dig that hole deeper," Judy replied with a giggle.
"Yeah, well all this digging can wear a guy out, I promise I will be just as awkward in the morning," Nick mumbled as he stood up and looked back towards the tower.
"I gotcha, well it was nice meeting you Nick, I will talk to you in the morning, we have lots to go over and nothing but time."
"Alright, well I am going to sleep now," Nick said as he placed the radio back in its charging station and then took a few steps towards the bed before collapsing on the mattress.
"Good night Nick, sweet dreams," Judy said over the radio in a way that surprised Nick. It sounded almost real as if this total stranger wanted him to have sweet dreams. Nick couldn't help but let out a small smile at the thought. He didn't want to admit it, but he was glad to have made a new friend tonight. Maybe this was exactly what he needed. With that final thought, Nick drifted into a deep sleep.
So you ever just get that urge to write something else for a change. Well, I did. I already have a big story I am working on which is taking a lot of time to create and what not. However, I just had an urge to make this story. No idea why. Sometimes you just got to go with it though right? I am not sure how often I will be able to update this one though since the other story needs a lot of attention.
I hope you all enjoy this story! If you need something more then check out my other work. Otherwise, we will see ya next time!
We have a new cover for this story. Starfangsecrets did an absolutely amazing job at creating the cover. If you get a chance check out her work on Deviantart.
I am also in the process of editing this story as a whole. So if you are in for a reread now is a good time as I will do my best to get rid of all the many grammar mistakes. ;P