CLASSIFIED: DO NOT READ
Operations Clock: +6.75 hours
Petty officer reaches across the life raft and pats the captain's shoulder.
"Sir, it had to be done."
"But my ship!"
"We had no choice sir!'
"But my Ship!"
"Sir, we couldn't figure out how to stop that Nuke and that Beeping Beeping Beeping! Always getting closer and closer together like it might happen but not quite happening even though it should have happened and you're ripping your hair out because even if it's the FLUFFING End you just want it to GO AHEAD AND FREAKING HAPPEN ALREADY! Um… sorry sir, I was losing it a bit again, but that beeping from them bomb was driving everyone nuts. Half the crew went savage. We shouldn't have ever tried stealing all those ideas for it from Disney in the first place. It was bound to go horribly chaotically wrong especially with he who shall not be named… may he rest in pieces that evil little coffee addicted bastered with his Beep… Beep… Beep.. -"
"But. My. SHIP! *Sob*"
"Sir we couldn't risk it, not after the grinch got loose again. We had to scuttle the ship and the bomb."
"Don't worry sir another one of our ships will be along shortly to pick us up and then we can go along with plan J."
"It's alright sir, I know that this has been a long wait but see, there's our ride right there."
"But it's not my ship."
"Well sir, maybe that captain will let you hold the wheel for a bit, just for old times sake."
*rope ladder splashes down near them and they climb up onto the new ship*
"Looks like you all had a hard time, why don't you all come over and have some coffee and tell us what went wrong. We need to get this operation back on track before the conspiracy is blown. We only have one more chance after this."
"Right Captain, *sob* Thank you."
"Seaman. Seaman! Hurry up and bring that coffee over to these survivors"
*Seaman hustles over with tray of coffee*
" *sob* You have no idea how good it is to see coffee again, We were without any for weeks, even before the disaster all because of… of…"
*old captain stares at the seaman with the coffee tray, who instead of serving it is drinking it.*
"YOU! YOU GRINCHY BASTARD! HOW DID YOU-"
*Grinch Smirks Evilly*
"How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure."
*pulls out a remote and clicks a button*
Beep… … Beep….
Chapter 14 In Page Art!
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Chapter 14 – The Great Escape
( A Few Minutes Previously… )
Don't freak out, Don't freak out, just keep grinning and talking, Nick thought to himself frantically as he totally freaked out. Well, freaked out internally at least; on the outside he managed to maintain his normal calm collected, 'still in control of the hustle' expression. Mostly. It was maybe a little less 'in control' than he'd wished and more of the 'plan's gone to hell in a handbasket so smile and talk fast or Mr. Big is going to turn your butt into a rug' expression.
In that case, though, he'd only been in danger of getting iced. Right now, he was afraid that the stupid gossip stories the news was spouting might damage his friendship with the most important mammal in his life, and that seemed sooo much worse.
Luckily though, Judy seemed to be taking to the plan he'd proposed with gusto, and Nick thanked his quick wit and silver tongue for that little bit of on the fly hustling. For a few moments, Judy had looked like she'd been about to freak out too as she'd stared, open-mouthed, at the TV news broadcasters. But she'd been as resilient as always, snapping out of it and jumping fully on board the plan. Maybe more on board with it than he'd really wished.
"Because really, us, a bunny and a fox?" Judy said with a small shaky smile, seemingly to try and lighten the tension that had suddenly appeared between them. But the words knifed through Nick, hot and painful and his grin froze on his face. It was the very idea at the base of the plan he'd proposed, but it was also the source of his deepest darkest fears he'd been fighting with for the last year.
Because really, us, a bunny and a fox... the words seemed to repeat in his mind, and it felt like his heart was being crushed. He loved Judy, had fallen for her in a way that he knew would never happen with anyone else; but he was a fox, a stupid fox in love with a bunny… it was a doomed love, a love that he'd tried to keep subdued because it hurt, hurt to fully accept, hurt because really, a bunny and a fox?
As good of friends as they were, he wasn't sure if she'd ever come to love him as anything more than a friend… because simply put, he was a fox and she was a bunny. The dark thoughts of his fears seemed to almost consume Nick as he stood there, a rictus holding his grin on his face as Judy continued,
"What are the chances of that?" she said with a forced laugh, waving her paw, her voice gaining a note of alarm and uncertainty, "It would be like… like…" Judy trailed off as she looked over to the side where she'd been gesticulating and Nick followed her gaze to see Nadine and Wolford. "...like…" Judy's voice cracked as if the sight of the wolf and the tiger amidst their very public relationship crises had just demolished her argument with a wrecking ball. She turned back looking a little wide eyed, and for the briefest moment her eyes caught his.
Nick's breath had already stopped a moment earlier but his heart, clouded by an onslaught of painful thoughts and fears, came to a screeching halt, tripping head over heal in an ungainly stumble. For that brief moment in time, behind her lavender eyes, behind the look of panic he thought he saw a look of almost anguished… longing?
Then Judy quickly looked away and he caught just a hint of a blush on her cheeks right as the food court went silent for a moment. Silent except for the ZNN interview with Nadine's neighbors, and the calm was broken by Fangmeyer's screeching roar.
Okay, now might be a good time to freak out, Nick thought and took the moment to gasp in a few breaths as his heart started pounding at a hundred miles an hour. His thoughts seemed to be imploding while his emotions tried to explode.
Did she just… look at me… does she actually… maybe there's a chance…
Have to be imagining things… seeing what you want to see… impossible…
She blushed! she blushed!
Blushed because we've got front row seats to Ralph and Nadine's live soap opera!
You don't think that!
Think that?! I don't know what to think! Why should I think anything because she glanced at me!
She didn't just glance at you, she looked at you!
And now she's looking away from me!
And now she's looking back at you.
Nick, nearly hyperventilating, froze as Judy glanced over at him again.
"Nick, I ah…" she started to say before her blush deepened and she glanced back toward where Wolford was trying to stop Fangmeyer, with little success, as she started angrily storming out of the food court. "Do you think we should help?" She finally asked, sounding rather desperate to change the conversation.
"Uhhh…." Nick managed to say, his voice high, "help who?" he tried desperately to refocus his thoughts.
Oh right, tiger and wolf making a scene…
"Help Nadine track down the ZNN interviewees or help Ralph stop her?" Nick asked, his voice almost back to its normal nonchalance, though his thoughts were still a mess.
Conversation shift. That was a major conversation shift. Hustling 101, shift conversation when things get too close to the mark.
Judy's not a hustler, she's shifting the conversation because she's a good hearted mammal that has an ingrained need to help others! You know that! That's part of why You like her.
The exasperated, "Niccckkkk!" he got in response to is flippant half thought question was so purely Judy, that it had him grinning for real, even as distracted as he was by his thoughts.
Not a hustler?! Not a hustler?! Do you remember how you got dragged into the Nighthowler case when you met her? The Tax Forms?! She's hustled you before, she'll hustle you again, she's already hustling you into loving her without even trying! How is that bunny Not a hustler?
But… but… That doesn't mean that was a sign that she's interested in me!
"Personally," Nick added to Judy, his mouth still running mostly on autopilot as he leaned over and whispered to her behind his paw, "I'm kind of in favor of helping Nadine if her revenge against her friends involves getting at whoever is behind this news report, too." He glanced at the TV and winced as he saw that the broadcast was still going, though, thank the gods, everyone's attention including Judy's was quite firmly on Ralph and Nadine. The news report unfortunately, only made his thoughts shift back to that look from before.
But it could be. It might be. You should make another move, stay close to her and given her another sign you like her. Maybe brush against her with your tail again.
Are you crazy?! After this news report everyone is going to be watching us! I thought the plan was not to act like we're courting each other!
Sure, but if there's even a chance she might like you, you need to show her your interested! You do want her to ask you out, right? RIGHT?
"Nick!" This time, Judy's exasperation was accompanied by a whack to his arm, and she gave him a 'be serious for a minute' stare, before pointing over to where two park security guards were approaching the commotion on segways. "We might want to do something before we all get in trouble and spend the concert in the park's lockup!"
"Oh, ah, right. That would be bad." Nick said, his mind finally starting to focus again. Well, most of it…
Quickly, she's right next to you, just ease your tail around her legs, nice and subtle…
"Judy! Nick!" Ralph shouted over to them, sounding a bit desperate as he clung onto Nadine while the tigress inexorably plowed forward toward the street like a vengeful titan. "A little help here?! Tell her I'm right!"
"Oh good Idea!" Nadine said, looking at them with a truly malevolent grin. "Judy, your friends with Fru Fru, right? Does she need a new rug? Because I'm Going To Shave Her Tail When I'm Done With Her Whiskers!" Nadine roared before continuing, Ralph still futilely trying to hold her back.
"Right, well," Nick said quietly before he swallowed hard, and only then noticing that his tail had protectively curled around Judy. "You, ah, want first crack at calming the really ticked off tiger?"
Judy didn't seem nearly as intimidated by the much larger and very angry predator, and spoke up, "Nadine, I… ah, think Ralph's right." She started off slowly in a reasonable, helpful sort of tone. "Doing that won't help."
The withering glare Nadine shot toward her would have impressed even Bogo. But Judy weathered it well and looked like she was about to try again when Nick had a delightfully evil little idea about how to stop the tiger and shouted back toward Wolford.
"Ralph! Just kiss her again!"
That actually stopped Nadine for a full second as she turned the full weight of her very impressive Die Right Now glare on him while he smirked.
"You stay out of this 'WILDEHOPPS'!" Nadine snarled, emphasizing that last bit, and Nick's smirk quite literally shattered as his whole body bristled in panic. Judy for her part, only made a startled choked squeaking sound accompanied by an audible snap as her ears shot up in alarm.
"I- we aren't- that's not!" Nick started to say as all the mammals watching, turned to look at them and the words seemed to stick in his throat. He glanced down at Judy as Wolford thankfully took his advice and distracted Nadine before she could make things worse, though he wasn't sure how that might be possible,
Wildehopps?! Wildehopps?! They have a freaking nickname for us?!
Panicking, Nick looked down at Judy just as she looked up at him and he became acutely aware of just how close they were. She was right up against his side, so close that his tail had wrapped all the way around her legs, its tip settling on her toes. Judy seemed to realize it at the same moment because her eyes got even larger than they already were and she quickly looked away, blushing badly now as Nick took a hasty step back as his tail puffed in alarm and worry.
"Nick?! I thought you were supposed to be good at smooth talking." Judy squeaked at him, sounding exceedingly embarrassed even before she looked around at their audience. She let out a short terrified 'meep!' before backing up to him and sounding distinctly nervous now too. "N-Nick, you have a plan for this right?"
"I- um-," Nick stuttered before coughing and glancing around, only to cringe at the sight of the other mammals split between watching them and Ralph who was trying his suggestion to stop the rampaging Nadine.
Smooth talking, smooth talking, we had a plan for this right? Play it off like it doesn't matter, right?
"Right." Nick said, coughing once more before he plastered his best hustler grin on and stepped close to Judy. She squeaked again but didn't move away as he put his arm around her in a casually 'best friends' sort of way and gestured to those still watching them.
"Are we 'WildeHopps'?" he asked like this was just some ZPD interview, "No, no we are not," he added in a somber voice and shook his head in an exaggerated manner. "I am Wilde, and she is Hopps," he gestured to himself and then her. "Wilde and Hopps, not WildeHopps, There's a space in there, well actually two spaces and an 'and'. Completely different." He finished, confidently raising a finger like a school teacher making a point. Judy groaned at his performance and he could feel her head thump his side.
"Play along if you don't want this to be all over the news tomorrow." He hissed quietly at her, still trying to hold his smarmy 'you really want to buy what I'm selling' grin toward the crowd.
"Nick, we're already on the news!" Judy groaned again, then added with a slight note of irritation, "And I have seniority over you, shouldn't it be Hopps and Wilde?"
"Pfftt- let's be serious here for a second, Fluff." Nick said, an actual smile almost returning for a second as he flicked her ear with the arm he had over her shoulder, "Wilde and Hopps just sounds so much better than Hopps and Wilde."
"Does not!" Judy huffed, her face still in his side even as she elbowing him in the ribs in return for his ear flick. "And if we're going to be known by some stupid nickname, it's not going to be-"
She was cut off as a horrendously savage ROAR reverberated through the food court; the sound so purely primal and overpowering and terrifying that it hit Nick's ears, bypassed his brain, and reached down to his base instincts, setting off ever natural survival instinct he had along the way. Every hair on Nick stood on end as that thunderous roar passed through him and before it had even fully registered, Nick had moved, tackling Judy and rolling them under the nearest bit of cover.
Judy blinked, ears still ringing from the roar and her vision a whitish blur from the sudden tumble as she tried to figure out what had happened.
She opened her mouth, intending to ask Nick, but all that came out was a muffled, "mmmph-mammphhht?"
It took her a second to realize she couldn't speak because her muzzle and face were covered. More like buried actually; buried in a soft cream colored fur… fur that had a delightfully familiar foxy musk.
The thought seemed to fill her mind and she couldn't help but nuzzle against the fur for a second before the rest of her brain managed to catch up to what had happened.
She'd been peeking past Nick at the crowd and had seen Ralph still trying to stop Nadine behind him… had been watching right as the wolf booped the tiger's nose.
There had been a look of such utter shock and surprise on Nadine's face that it had almost been comical, and for a moment she'd thought that Ralph had succeeded in getting through to her… right until she roared…
What happened after that?
The next thing Judy had known, her world had been spinning, tumbling; a whirl of russet and cream fur as two arms had grabbed her. Two arms that were still holding her tightly, she realized.
With a start, she realized the fur she was nuzzling was Nick's ruff, right where it puffed out from the unbuttoned top of his shirt. Her nose was pressed against it, buried past the slightly coarser outer layer of his winter coat and nuzzling against his fine downy undercoat.
The thought consumed her for a moment. She wanted to nuzzle against that oh so downy fur, wanted to continue nuzzling up to his neck, wanted too…
There was a desperate cry from Ralph before he gasped and a nearly feral snarling purr that snapped Judy out of her daydream and back to reality. It also made her ears snap up, and one of then whacked Nick soundly across his nose making him yelp.
Startled, Judy looked up to see Nick, now with one paw off her back and over his nose while his eye's watered, and... she panicked.
She burst out in a confused, embarrassed worried avalanche of questions, blushing violently from the way his other arm was still clutching tightly to her, while simultaneously trying to see if his nose was alright, assure him that she had not meant to do that, and had not just been nuzzling him, and why had he grabbed her and what the heck was that purring sound?
"ow-owww! Stop poking it!" Nick managed to get through her barrage of question, grabbing her paw that was probing at his nose to stop it, "I'm all right, it just smarts! And sorry for grabbing you, but Fangmeyer lost it and I… I…" he trailed off, but Judy was so close to him that she thought she could see the russet fur on his cheeks darken slight as he looked at her, then quickly away.
Is… is Nick blushing?!
"Oh deerie, he was just worried about you!" said a kindly voice next to them and Judy jumped, looking over to see the wolf couple that had asked about 'them' and the news story, hunched down behind the overturned table Nick had dived behind.
"Why, my mate was all overprotective like that too when we were courting and newlywed, still is sometimes during winter." She added giving Judy a wink that had her cheeks burning and Nick stuttering.
"And with good reason, too!" The male wolf next to her said gruffly, before shaking his head as he peeked over the edge of the overturned table. "What if we had gotten tangled up in that?!" There was a desperate call from Ralph that was cut off by an almost ferally possessive PURRRRRRR. The male wolf muttered something about 'stupid young idiot wolves always chasing after any pretty tail without a thought in there head', which got an eye roll from his mate. Then he followed that up with a comment about 'uncivilized cats, always ready to go savage during mating season', which received a rebuking ear flick.
"Ow!" The wolf yelped and turned to his mate. "What was that for?!"
"Don't you go blaming that on her being a cat!" The she-wolf said sternly, waving a finger at him as his ears lowered. "With the way you males act sometimes, it could drive any girl to go savage like that poor tiger. The gods know I've felt that way a few times before!"
There was a sullenly contrite. "Yes dear… I- I shouldn't have blamed that on her being a cat…" and after a moment in which the she-wolf looked like she was debating whether to accept the apology, she leaned over to give him a peck on the check and a quick scratch behind the ear she'd flicked.
Then she turned back to Judy with a pleased expression, "See, as crazy as our mates might make us, there's still hope for them." She grinned wickedly, glancing back at her mate whose ears had popped back up after her kiss and was looking at her with a goofy sort of rapt attention.
The she-wolf leaned over to Judy and stage whispered, "My suggestion is to find your mate's weak points and use that whenever he's about to drive you to savagery. A fox isn't a wolf, but he's still a canid so I'd try scratching behind the ears or base of the tail. That's never failed to turn my mate into a pile of tail wagging goo."
Oh gods, the boat ride… when I was petting Nick's tail… mate's weak points… The thoughts zipped through Judy's mind and collided with some of what Skye had been telling her about foxes and personal space in a spectacular explosion. Some part of Judy that was watching her own mental pileup decided that she'd need to come back to that later; there were some thoughts and speculations amidst that spectacular explosion that seemed rather important. Maybe later though, like when she wasn't too busy blushing herself to death and stammering like a broken typewriter.
"I- Ma'am- we're not- his tail- I couldn't- misunderstanding-"
Judy looked at Nick amidst her panicked stuttering, and at any other time would have probably enjoyed the reaction the she-wolf's comments had gotten from him. Finnick had laughed uproariously when she'd hustled him with his tax forms, but his expression now was so far beyond having 'gotten him good', that Judy doubted she'd ever be able to top it.
"-mates- he's not- I wouldn't- his tail?-"
Nick's eyes connected with hers as she stuttered and his expression morphed from blow away shock to that of utter panic.
"Not the tail!" He yelped, his voice cracking and both paws going behind to clutch the frizzed out appendage protectively as a visible blush traveled up the insides of his ears.
Judy's jaw dropped at his reaction, and there was a snicker from the she-wolf.
"And there you go dear, that's your secret weapon. Why, if your tiger friend had some trick like that to use on him," she gestured past the table toward what sounded like a horror movie mauling sound track for Purred to Death, "she might not have gone savage on her mate."
Judy, still gaping, didn't have a clue as to how to respond to that, not even enough of a thought to start stammering again. The she-wolf's words seemed to be repeating through her mind over and over again before her thoughts focused on one particular part of it
she might not have gone savage on him…
Judy's thoughts replayed that segment again, and she wondered why that seemed important for a moment before her mind, struggling to deal with the current situation, flipped back over into Judy on Duty cop mode out of sheer self-preservation.
"Oh gods, Nick! Nadine's gone savage?!" Judy shot to her feet, looking over the table (and gaped again at what she saw) before starting to charge around toward the commotion, her paws scrambling for her badge and tranq pistol.
"Judy! What do you think you're doing?!"
Her head long charge was brought up short as Nick, nearly tackling her, managed to grab hold and bring her to a stop. She looked back at him, more confused than anything, and gestured at Nadine and Ralph like it should have been obvious.
"Savage mammal! We've got to stop her!"
"Oh no we don't!" Nick replied rather frantically.
"Nick," Judy said disbelievingly, "we're cops! This kind of thing is our job!"
"No," Nick said vehemently shaking his head, "our job is to protect mammals, not go charging headlong into danger unnecessarily and unprepared! How do you even plan on stopping her?" Judy raised her tranq pistol and Nick blinked, before muttering, "Of course she'd have her gear on her even when she's off duty…"
Nick sighed before pulling her back behind the table and pointing over it.
"Judy, look. Nadine isn't harming anyone, well anyone but Ralph possibly... And she won't unless anyone is crazy enough to get in her way!" Nick waved around the food court where, now that she took a moment to look, Judy noticed that every mammal in the vicinity had apparently scrambled out of the tiger's way. There was a noticeable gap around them of overturned tables and chairs, while their former occupants now watched with fascination from a safe distance.
"Anyway," Nick added, "Ralph's a cop, too, and I think he can handle this situation just fine without us complicating it for him."
There was a particularly savage PURRRRRRRR just as Judy heard two howls echoing across the park, and Ralph let out a howl that was the most heart wrenching sound she'd ever heard.
"See?" Nick shouted over Ralph's anguished howl just as the two wolves next to them got dragged into it as well, pointing their noses skyward and howling too.
"He's totally on top of it!"
"Well," Greg said with a grin as Ralph's howl was almost drowned out among the rising Howl that started spreading throughout the park, "I didn't actually think it would be that easy."
Cassandra harrumphed. "See, didn't even take seven howls." Though he could see her relax now that they had a solid lead and a bit of her usual fire return as she looked back at him, a grin matching his own, "Ready to go get our pups?"
"HEY! Did you two start that?!" Shouted an elephant security guard that was trying (ineffectually) to shield his massive ears from the cacophony as another wolf couple near them succumbed to the urge to join the howl. "Starting a howl is against Park Rules! If you did that on purpose I'll have to-"
"Oh no!" Greg said, suddenly grabbing his ears as a look of exaggerated confliction spreading across his face. "Cassy, stop me-I can't… can't resist! AWwwoo-" he howled as loudly as he could. Seeing the elephant stop as he winced, Cassy grinned and joined in.
Then before the Elephant could recover, Cassy had his paw in hers and they were running down the street toward where they'd heard their son howl.
"That was mean! It's that kind of thing that gives wolves a bad reputation!" Cassy said as she led him, though he could tell by the excitement in her tail as it waved in the wind as they ran that her rebuke was halfhearted at best.
"I-," he panted for a second as he ran, "-thought that it was our big bad teeth that gave us a bad rep!"
"Oh my goodness?! Are you ever going to grow up! How is it that we're Alphas when you still act like a silly puppy most of the time?!" Cassy hurrumphed as she ran, and he snickered.
"Well, that's your fault you know. Being around you makes it impossible for me not to be happy and silly!" He half shouted as they rounded a corner, and grinned wickedly as she tried swatting his nose with her tail.
"Gregory Wolford!-" she shouted back, though he could tell by her tone that she was blushing and trying to hide it.
"Anyway," he cut in gleefully, "I wasn't being mean, I was just following instructions. The soothsayer did say we needed to howl seven times! Wouldn't want to jinx ourselves now would we?"
"Unbelievable! Just Unbelievable!," Cassy muttered in exasperation, "I'm married to a perpetual superstitious teenager!"
"No," he replied without a pause, "You're married to a perpetual superstitious teenager who's never gotten over being ears over paws in love with you."
That got the loudest harrumph yet, though he could easily tell how she really thought by the subtle shifts in her scent, and his tail wagged in turn as he beamed.
There was nothing that was as much fun as playfully poking at Cassy while she tried to maintain a proper, dignified business appearance to the world and hide her emotions and how much he was getting to her. She was quite good at it, and most mammals might not be able to see through the façade, though it was pointless with other wolves, what with their sharp noses and all. The other wolves just never mentioned it because it was very rude to mention secretes gleaned by scent that way, and probably more importantly, because it would be a very stupid thing to do. Greg grinned. Cassy was an alpha for a reason.
The young boar security guard had come to a stop next to his partner in front of the food court and was watching the scene before them with wide eyes. It was his first day on the job, and it was supposed to be a fairly easy job, just ride around on segways, make sure mammals didn't litter, maybe stop a fight or two… but… but…
It's not like I was expecting to deal with freaking savage mammals! Not on my first freaking day at least!
The wolf being attacked looked like he might have gotten away for a second before the tiger pounced on him with a thunderous PURRRR and that had him howling again.
The boar looked over from his segway to his partner's with more than a little apprehension and confusion, and hoped the older more experience park security guard, an 'I'm not quite middle aged yet' Siberian tiger, would know what to do, "Some, um… do you think we should go in there and try to stop them… her… I mean it is a 10-91 right?"
His partner, who'd dropped his radio in shock when they'd spotted the disturbance, turned to him with an absolutely panicked expression.
"Are you freaking Nuts?! Because I for one don't want to die! And that's exactly what will happen if we try messing with that tigress right now! Hell kid, didn't your mother ever teach you not to mess with angry females?! I'd rather take on a savage heard of elephants or pride of lions! Or both!" The older guard stopped, took a breath and seemed to regain some of his 'just follow me kid, and I'll show you the ropes' appearance he'd had earlier. "Anyway, it's not like she's a public danger right now, well, so long as nobody goes near her."
The boar looked back the food court uncertainly, thinking that over and then asked. "What about the wolf?"
"What about him?" The older guard replied and crossed his arms. "Is he asking for help or look like he's in life threatening danger?"
"Umm…" He thought about that for a second, still watching the scene in shock. "Umm… death by snu snu would sort of be life threatening, right? It looks like she's getting ready to drag him off and well you know…"
"Well… ah," the older tiger looked stumped for a second before he answered. "First, the news was saying he's a cop, right?" He gestured to the TV in the food court showing the broadcast they'd been listening to on the radio. "I think if it came down to us dying by tiger mauling and him dying by snu snu, he'd take that bullet for us, right?" Then muttered for a second, "I mean, I sure would in his place, *cough* ah… patriotic duty to protect others and everything, right...?" He coughed again before continuing, "And second, she's only purring."
The young boar's eyes almost popped out of his head as another round of howling from the wolves in the food court, as well as more than a few whistles from others, erupted again.
"Okay, purring and rubbing against him," the security tiger said, rather embarrassed now, "but that's not technically indecent exposure… I think… I mean, their clothes are on and their paws aren't doing anything."
"There is no way in hell that's PG…" The boar mumbled. He didn't think he was predo, like 100% sure he wasn't, but this was still making some of the stuff he'd seen online with even the hottest sows look… a bit mild by comparison.
"Well, today's the parks Valentine's day special event…" The tiger mumbled, eyes glued forward, "Teens and up only in the park today… and it still isn't technically against-"
"What about that?!" The boar asked, voice a little high, his eyes glued forward, too.
By the three little pigs! I, ah… might need to check back on that no-predo inclinations thing because, right now, if I'd been one of those three little pigs and she'd come huffing, puffing and purring to my door…
"Ah…." His partner said a bit distractedly, "Wow… I mean, holy… gods, I wish my girlfriend would do that…"
"Uh Sarge? Not what I was asking…" He said, a bit distracted himself. "But ya, I sooo need to get a girlfriend if it's anything close to that…"
"Still not technically doing anything against the rules…. I think… HOLY-
It took the boar a moment to get his mouth to work, "Umm… Sarge… is that a call for help?"
"Do I look like I speak wolf?" The other guard said, just staring.
"RRRrrrralph WOLFORD!" Came a shout as two timber wolves shot past them toward the food court.
"W-what? *pant* " Came a confused reply from the wolf trying not to get purred to death by the tiger, before he squeaked, "Oh Shit!" in a far higher pitched tone.
*PURRR- The tigress' purr stopped dead at the distressed sound of the wolf pinned to the wall of a food stand, and her head snapped around to the two approaching wolves that had apparently frightened him.
Feral eyes narrowed for a second and the boar's partner suddenly looking white faced, well more white faced than normal for the Siberian tiger anyway, and snapped, "Oh crap, oh crap, Cover Your Ears!"
The noise seemed to go on forever, and when it finally stopped, every mammal around had stopped dead.
"Okay kid, the shit just hit the fan." The other guard said quickly, a noticeable shake in his voice as the tigress looked ready to shift from a purring frenzy to a killing frenzy as she glared death at the other two wolves… particularly the female. "Lets just try to keep everyone away from the tiger and alive since I don't think our tasers are going to do more than piss her off."
"I thought these were rated for large sized mammals?!" The boar asked, franticly fumbling for his taser on his belt.
"Ya, but do you want to be next to a twitching ball of furious teeth and claws that's going to shred the ever-living hell out of you once the charge is used up, which, might I remind you, goes a lot faster on the large sized mammals setting! Oh crap, let's move!" He said, leaning forward on the segway hard, even getting the wheel to spin for a second…. and then pulled back in a hard stop at a different thundering bellow.
"POLICE, Make WAY! What is going- Fangmeyer?!" That last part was more of a confused WTF tone and both guards looked over to see a huge cape buffalo come to a skidding stop at the edge of the food court with his arm outstretched, holding back a female buffalo that was trying to look past him like there was some celebrity event going on.
"Isn't that the chief of police?" The boar whispered in astonishment, recognizing the grimacing face he was sure he's seen on tv interviews.
"Oh thank Destiny," the other guard said backing his segway up. "They'll handle this, no need for us to get involved, we'd just get in their way."
The tigress had looked ready to charge before, but had stopped and turned to face the large bull. Now, though, while she was still snarling, she seemed more wary of attacking the larger mammal.
"Shit, shit, shit! Sir, I can explain!" The wolf still pinned by the tiger shouted, sounding panicked and desperate and like he had absolutely no clue how he was going to explain what was going on.
At the sound of the wolf's panicked voice though, the tigers ears flattened all the way and she turned about fully, hunching back on all fours preparing to leap at the bull.
"Bess, get back!" The bull bellowed, reaching for what the boar was really hoping was a tranq pistol since they didn't have any.
"Nadine! NO!" Shouted the wolf at the same time, and leapt on the tigers back just as she startled to lunge forward, and then to seemingly everyone's surprise, stopped.
The big orange and black striped cat let out a confused mewing sound looking back at the wolf hanging halfway on her back.
The wolf quickly scrambled forward to her head nd nuzzled her cheek for a second, murmuring calmly, "Nadine, it's alright. It's alright…" And slowly, the savage tiger visibly relaxed and even let out a low purr again.
"Right, and do you still want to claim you two are just starting to date, Ralph Wolford?" Said the female of the two timber wolves that had come running up, the name she'd called out whip-craking in that 'You're in serious trouble this time' tone of a scolding mother.
"I… ah, but we weren't…" The wolf on the tigress all but whined, and the tigress' low purr shifted back to a growl as she tried to gently shake him off her back and face the she-wolf.
"WAIT!" Bellowed the police chief, hoof out in a stop gesture as he moved to interpose himself between the two new timber wolves and the tigress. "Mrs. Wolford, hold off please until we have the situation under control. This is a savage mammal situation, mating season triggered or not, and the tigers not a pack member so all you're going to do is aggravate her."
"She isn't yet…" Mumbled the female wolf angrily, and crossed her arms before glaring at the younger wolf with the tiger. "This is one of the reasons why we have set courting procedures, Ralph!"
The younger wolf seemed to wilt under the glare, and shrank down behind the tiger he was still holding onto with both paws. The tiger, on the other paw, snarled viciously at the she-wolf now partially blocked by the bull.
"Dude!" The boar said in a low voice to his partner, now far more relaxed since the police were handling the savage tiger and they were effectively sidelined. "This is like watching the COPS and the Bachelor all in one! All they need is a filming crew."
"Pretty sure they already have that." His partner said, motioning over towards where one of the ZZN film crews that had been filming report segments around the park throughout the day had come racing up to the scene. The video crew was already busy filing away while the reporter was on a cellphone speaking quickly and hurriedly like they'd just struck gold.
"Mrs. Wolford," the chief of police said, with a familiar exasperation, like this wasn't the first time he'd had to deal with that particular she-wolf, "you can reprimand him all you want once this situation is resolved, and I get done reprimanding him, just like any other time you've had to come to pick up one of your wayward strays." The she-wolf harrumphed, but seemed to accept that, and The Chief of Police looked back toward the tiger where she'd backed the wolf up to a corner between two food stands amid a conspicuous gap in the seating where mammals had moved out of the way. "Now, what the hell happened here?" He asked, nearly grinding his teeth, though his voice was surprisingly calm and non threatening. Even still, the tiger shifted, looking back and forth between the bull and the she-wolf, a low pervasive snarl emanating from her.
There was a short, cut off snicker, and the bull's head snapped over to a hare with odd fur stripes and an arctic vixen that were casually watching the whole scene and eating peanuts like they were in a drive in theater.
"Savage, Damnit!" The bull snapped, glaring. "Can you not go on a single miss-" He stopped and coughed before continuing, "*ehem* trip to the park without it turning into a complete disaster?!"
"I do have a reputation to upkeep, you know." The hare replied nonchalantly, then made a small odd hop like someone had stepped on his toes and the vixen next to him spoke up.
"Sorry about that Bogo, but it is winter, after all. Piling a ton of stress onto someone at the peak of winter courtship, plus whatever Wolford did," there was an indignant 'Hey!' from the wolf, "-was about as good of a way as I can think to make her go savage… well, unless you attacked her cubs…" The vixen shrugged and popped a few of the peanuts into her mouth before continuing. "All we really need to do is just leave her alone for a minute or two and not irritate her," she added with emphasis and a sharp look, "… and she should snap out of it. Simple as that."
The Bull followed the vixen's look over to another odd vulpine/lapin couple peeking over an overturned table, one of which had a tranq pistol out and looked about ready charge into the fray.
"Wait, aren't those two the cops from the nighthowler incident?" The boar whispered behind his hoof to the other security guard, who was also staring at them. "The ones that the news was saying are also a secret couple?" There was a twitch in the bunny's ear and what might have been a blush, and he wondered if maybe he hadn't said that as quietly as he thought he had.
"Hopps! Wilde! Stand down!" The Bull snapped, just as the wolf hanging onto the agitated savage tiger shouted at the vixen.
"And what do you mean 'plus whatever Wolford did'?" He asked accusingly. "I didn't do anything but try to calm her down!" The tiger's head followed his voice to the vixen and growled at her.
"Well," the vixen replied, seeming unconcerned by the savage mammal growling in her direction, "she was only really pissed before you booped her nose. That's what set her off."
"Ya, and so what?" The wolf replied indignantly, taking a firmer grip on the tiger's neck as her growl increased to a snarl. "When I did that before it stopped her in her tracks! It's like Nadine's reset button."
"Oh you've got to be kidding me!"
The sudden outburst quieted everyone and the boar looked over at his partner who'd facepalmed as he'd spoken. Then looking up and realizing that everyone's attention was on him, he spluttered for an embarrassed second. "I, ah… well, if he's been dating her, he should know what that means!" The security guard said, waving his paw towards the wolf who was staring at him with utter confusion. The tigress, on the other paw, looked at the guard and bristled before bearing all her very impressive teeth at him.
The siberian tiger's eyes got a little wide as a very low hostile growl started emanating from the tigress, and he lifted both paws in a surrendering gesture, before leaning back on his segway, zipping a few feet backwards.
"Woah! Hey! I want nothing to do with this! Not interested! He wins, all yours!"
The tigress made a chuffing sound before turning and rubbing her head and neck against the still confused looking wolf's chest.
"And just what exactly should I know about what that means?! Offt! Hey Nadine?! Stop!" The wolf said, confusion clearly evident in his voice as he was nearly knocked off his feet by a particularly vigorous rub on his chest from the tigress's head as she started purring again. "Um, Hey, Nadine… ah, you know your, ah…" he started blushing as the tiger continued, now rubbing her whole chin and neck along his front, pushing hard enough to back him up against the food stands behind them.
"How have you been dating a tigress and not know about that?" The security guard replied incredulously, still from the spot he'd zipped back to. "Booping isn't like a reset button, it's like the launch button, the Huston we have lift off button. Hell, there are memes about it! Haven't you ever seen one of those 'careful pushing that big pink button' memes? The ones over a picture of a tiger's nose? Or one of those pictures of a mushroom cloud and 'Boop!'?!"
"Noo! No I haven't!" The wolf said, his voice gaining an edge of panic as his ears splayed back in alarm while he blushed furiously. "Nadine! My parents are watching! Can't this wait?! –oohf!" He was knocked back against a shaved ice drink stand as the tigress jumped up, paws on his shoulders, and gave his muzzle a lick. And then bopped him soundly with her nose, purring loudly. That got a startled noise that almost sounded like a Meep! from the wolf, followed by a alarmed yelp as he lost his footing and balance under the weight of the tigress' paws on his shoulders, slipped, grabbed for the counter of the stand behind him, and managed to bring the counter cloth and all its contents down with him as he and tiger hit the ground in a clatter.
Most of the bottles of flavoring narrowly missed hitting them and bounced off, but the big elephant sized container of shaved ice at the end of the stand was yanked forward as the cloth was pulled out from under it.
It teetered for a second in the middle of the now bare counter top, then flopped over on its side where, upon its lid popped off, and a small avalanche of the snow-like ice dumped on top of the two.
Bogo glanced from Fangmeyer in a full-on savage state as she pinned Wolford against a shaved ice food stall, to Wolford's mother, who looked about ready to wade in and try cuffing both of them like they we're naughty puppies; to Wilde and Hopps peaking over an overturned table and, to him at least, looking like two kids that had caused a mess and were hoping their parents didn't spot them; and finally, to Savage and Skye, who were watching the whole scene with apparent amusement, like two terrible babysitters that were watching gleefully as the kits tore down the house, and groaned to himself.
I should have known better than to call in that favor from Savage. Bogo mentally fumed. There was some irony in there somewhere that Savage seemed to be wreaking his plans to play reluctant cupid on Valentine's day via savage tiger, but Bogo dismissed that. He had bigger concerns.
He'd been in all sorts of crazy situations throughout his police career, but he had to admit that this one ranked damned near the top for its sheer bizarreness and liability to turn into a full on disaster at any moment.
And the fact that Fangmeyer of all mammals had gone winter savage?! Well, honestly, it wasn't too unexpected that it had happened to one of his officers; it was winter, after all. Winter induced frenzies happened, that was just part of life, especially in the big city with so many mammals, but Fangmeyer? She'd been one of the last he would have expected it from; Wilde was at the top of his watch list for signs of losing it though he'd been holding it together… mostly, and Wolford wasn't that far down it either, though he'd been remarkably stable through the last few winters. But Fangmeyer?
And it couldn't even be at home or in the office away from the public where this kind of thing usually happens. Oh no. Couldn't even be just a little bit of winter peak either, but a full on savage episode! Gah! Why does life seem to hate me?!
There was a guffawing laugh in Bogo's mind that reminded him far too much of Wilde followed by a brooding voice saying, Serves you right for turning to the Wilde side!
And if that wasn't enough, those two voices were joined by a third going, DOOMED! DOOMED! with a bleating cackle.
Bogo quashed those irritating thoughts. Now wasn't the time to be creatively introspective, (he preferred that explanation to the idea of voices in his head). One of his best teams was half savage at the moment, and the other one was looking flustered and nearly ready to snap as well.
Bogo mentally shuddered at that. The thought of those two little hellions losing it was terrifying. A savage tiger was bad enough, but for what Wilde and Hopps lacked in size they seemed to make up for in pure chaos.
Wait… can a bunny even go savage?
There was the briefest pause as he contemplated that, contemplated not just any bunny going savage, but Hopps going savage… and a shiver ran up his back. He Did NOT want to find out. If any bunny could, it would be her. Hell, if someone said she couldn't go savage, she probably would just to prove them wrong.
Bogo refocused, ignoring that ominous hair-raising thought that had sidetracked him. Right at the moment, things were non-violent, and he wanted to keep them that way. Wolford was possibly in danger by getting rubbed to death, but Bogo was sure he'd had a hand in making this mess and felt quite willing to throw him to the wolves- well tiger first in this case, if it kept it that way. The Savages were staying out of the way, along with most of the onlookers, which was probably for the best considering what their 'help' had resulted in so far.
Though I'm going to ring that Hare's neck when I get the chance, 'handle the situation' my right horn he did!
And if he could keep Hopps and Wilde from doing something WildeHopps-ish to aggravate Fangmeyer, like, oh, say… shooting her, then they might get away without anyone having to go to the hospital. (Tranqs took a few seconds to take effect and what that tiger might accomplish in those few seconds worried Bogo… a lot. There were too many mammals close by and this was Fangmeyer, after all.)
Bogo's attention snapped back over to the tigress as she booped Wolford and started purring, only for Mrs. Wolford to shoot them disapproving looks.
And if things weren't bad enough, I'm going to have to deal with the Savannah Central pack alphas… again…
Bogo could feel another headache coming on, Fangmeyer wasn't one of her pack, but Wolford sure as hell was, and he didn't even want to start thinking about how that was going to mess with the convoluted and obscure rules of pack law. 'Pack law' only held limited actual authority in regards to real laws, but he was sure he was going to get his ear talked off by her ad hawk lawyering.
Gods, and by the time all of that is done, Bess and I are going to have missed the concert!
Bogo almost felt like weeping at that thought.
Then there was a crash and clatter as Fangmeyer and Wolford hit the ground with most of the contents from the food stand behind them and a small avalanche of ice too.
Bogo's shoulders slummed in resignation as everything seemed determined to go to hell and he prepared himself to intervene.
There was a yelp and an even louder yowl from under the small mountain of ice shavings followed by a high pitched screech of, "COLD! COLD! COLD! AGHHH!"
Fangmeyer nearly came flying out from the pile, shaking herself furiously. "GAHH! Good GODS that's COLD!"
Bogo, just about to charge in, barely managing to stop himself as he looked on in surprise.
Fangmeyer continued to jump around and grabbed the back of her shirt, flopping it back and forth as clumps of ice shavings fell out from under it. Her whole body shivered violently before she finally stopped and turned back to the wolf stuck in the snow drift, looking at her in mild shock.
"Ralph!? What the Hell?! Did you do that?! Because that's NOT Funny!" She reached over and plucked him out of the pile before backing away from it like it might attack her… again, "Don't we have enough to worry about with Megan and my neighbors running their big… mouths… off…" She trailed off as she looked around and noticed that everyone was staring at her.
Huh… well… I sure wasn't expecting that to snap her out of it… Was about all Bogo could think for the moment, though the thought was followed shortly afterwards by an almost giddy, Maybe we will make it to the Gazelle concert *Squee!*
"What?" Fangmeyer asked, a bit unnerved before spotting him staring at her and went from looking unnerved to looking down right terrified. She glanced quickly between herself and the Wolford and finally back at him, her eyes going wide.
"Ummm… sir, I can explain! We weren't interfering in the… uh, anything… I mean we were, just… just here for some fun, just friends out enjoying the festival!" She managed to squeak.
Ah-huh… that sure explains why they're here today at least… guess Clawhauser's attempt to look like nothing was going on probably had them worried. Bogo wanted to sigh. He used to think that having officers that didn't care enough was the worst problem he might ever face, but sometimes now a days he wished that maybe they didn't care quiet so much. Well… no, that wasn't true, that was part of what he thought was so promising about these youngsters, but if they could just add a bit of common sense to their good intentions and initiative, it would make his life so much easier.
Bogo thought about how he wanted to respond to her panicked statement and ended up just raising an eyebrow.
Might as well give her some more rope and see what else she confesses to.
The sudden silence in the food court lengthened and Fangmeyer gulped.
"Oh were you now?" Bogo finally asked in a voice so calm that most criminals found it terrifying (it was one of his favorites and he'd worked on it for years. He was rather proud of that voice.)
There was another gulp from the tiger and Bogo couldn't hold back a snort as he watched her. He pointedly looked at Wolford and repeated what she'd said in that same, oh so calm voice, though there might have been the faintest hint of sarcasm in it this time, "Just friends out to enjoy the festival?"
The tigress glanced down, following his gaze to her paw where she'd been brushing the ice off Wolford only to see the big heart shaped sticker with 'You're Purrrfect!' that was clearly visible due to her efforts. Her face seemed to try to blush and drain of color at the same time to a rather interesting effect on her orange, black and white fur. Wolford's gaze followed hers and he grinned goofily, his tail starting to wag… only for it to stop when he glanced at Bogo.
"Ummmm…" Wolford seemed to freeze up while Fangmeyer hurriedly tried to explain their situation,
"I, ah, sir, um, not what it, uh, looks like, I mean ah, sir, we were planning… ah, I mean planning on ah…" She glanced back at him, meeting his still upraised eyebrow, and her face seemed to decide on its choice as the blood drained from it and she hurriedly finished in one fast statement, "Sir-I-swear-we-weren't-hiding-our-relationship,I-mean-we-only-just-started,are-going-to-start-dating-and-we-were-absolutely-going-to-tell-you-Monday."
Bogo sighed and put his hoof up to his temple and rubbed at it.
Gods, was I ever that young and idiotic and in love? He saw Bess out of the corner of his eye as she watched the two young officers with gleeful delight, and he grunted.
Had to ask a stupid question…
"Tomorrow. Noon. My office." He said sternly, looking back at the two officers before him, both of whom now looked exceedingly worried, "And you'd better have the Department's Internal Relationship Declaration forms already completed, and scheduled yourselves up with the Mammal Recourses for their 'Proper Workplace Conduct' training sessions for those in workplace relationships, if you want there to be a chance of convincing me that you two can still work as a team and I should sign the waiver to let you two stay together as partners instead of breaking you up and transfer you to different precincts."
Just because he'd been a young in love idiot once upon a time too, didn't mean that he'd let them off easy. Anyway, a good old-fashioned Chief chewing over would make sure that they thought twice before goofing off or making out while on the clock.
Bogo managed not to snort as he watched the built up tension in his two officers ease. He was about to order them to clean up the mess they'd made and call his work here done. He had his plan for WildeHopps to get back on track and darnit, he had a concert to get to with Bess, after all!
"They won't be making that meeting tomorrow, Chief Bogo." Interrupted the authoritative voice of the female Alpha of the Savanna Central pack and Bogo, grimaced.
Damnit, forgot about them.
"And why not?" He replied, trying to keep his voice civil. The concert would be starting in just a few minutes, and he did not want to have to deal with this headache right now.
"Because they are going to be getting married tomorrow at noon." The she-wolf said, crossing her arms with a look that just dared him to try and challenge her on that.
Bogo grimaced again before flinching at the ear piercing, "wwwhhhaAAATTT?!"
"wwwhhhaAAATTT?!" Nadine felt like she'd just had another mountain of ice dumped on her as she stared open jawed at Ralph's mother. The last few minutes had seemed like a nightmare, the TV interview, WolfEyer, getting dunked in freaking ICE. It was all like one long nightmarish blur and she just wanted to run away and hide from it all. She hadn't run away from anything (well, anything but Ralph's confession) since she was a little cub hiding from thunderstorms under her blankets in bed, but that was looking like an increasingly good option, (especially if there was a certain wolf also under those blankets to snuggle with while he told her it was just a bad dream.)
Ralph's mother -and what by Rajah's striped tail was she doing here?!- shifted her gaze off of the chief and narrowed it on her.
"Oh, don't you even try to argue, young women! Not after flouting all our traditions and sneaking around with my son!-"
Nightmare, had to be a nightmare. The craziest, weirdest, oddest nightmare she'd ever had.
Nadine swore to herself that once she woke up she was going to find Ralph and ask him out formally and make sure that nothing like this nightmare ever happened for real. Now if she could only wake up.
"-I won't have anyone trying to run him out of our pack in disgrace because of what you two have been sneaking around doing. You marked him so you're By The Gods Going to Marry Him!"
"I… WHAT?" Dream or not, that caught her by surprise, "I, but, I DID NOT!" She said adamantly, and turned to Ralph so he could back her up.
Ralph only blushed, looking conflictingly embarrassed, happy and terrified all at the same time, his tail apparently unsure if it wanted to wag or curl under him, tried to do both.
"Ralph?" Nadine asked quietly, a pleading note in her voice.
"Don't even try to deny it. You marked him so much during that little savage outburst that a skunk blinded mole could smell it." Ralph's mother said accusingly.
Ralph, for his part, didn't help as he looked at his feet, shuffling them hesitantly for a second, before cautiously looking back up at her and visibly blushing. Then, just when she didn't think her current nightmare couldn't get any worse, it did and some bits of the past few blurry minutes of this nightmare started coming into full focus.
She hadn't. "I didn't!" Savage? Her? "No, not possible," She was staring at Ralph, Ralph who wasn't denying any of it, wasn't telling her it wasn't true, Why wasn't he telling her it wasn't true?! "Ralph, tell me that's not true!" Nadine only just realized that she'd been more speaking her panicked thoughts out loud than just thinking them, when Ralph responded.
"Nadine, you, ah, kind of did go full 'Winter' there… thought that, ah, might have been my fault…" He said as he looked down, mumbling. "You were kind of freaked out and I, um, tried to calm you down… by, ah…," he winced slightly, giving her an apologetic look, "booping your nose…"
Ralph had booped her. Booped her right after he'd found out what her bite this morning meant to felines.
He'd booped her.
Don't freak out, Don't freak out, Don't Freak Out!
"Okay, Fine! I might have gone a little Winter Crazy there, but I did not mark you yet!" Nadine practically shouted, then winced as that last word came out, she hadn't meant to say that bit out loud either.
"I haven't…" Her words die as she took in Ralph's expression. She knew that expression, it was his 'how do I tell Nadine she's dead wrong?' expression.
Nadine grabbed both his shoulders and started sniffing him.
Ears. No. Head. No. Muzzle. No. Chest. Oh Crap.
Traces of her scent were all over him from spending the day running around the park, but his chest, the whole damn front of him didn't just have traces of her scent; it reeked of her scent. That scent. It smelled stronger of her than she did. It was like he'd washed his shirt in her scent.
An idea clicked into Nadine's mind. A crazy absurd idea, but it was that or snatching Ralph and running for it.
"Ha!" She said loudly turning back to his mother, a slightly crazed triumphant smile on her face, "I didn't mark him, I only marked his shirt!" She gestured, emphasizing, "My Shirt!"
Ralph's mother gave a dismissive snort, but Mr. Wolford actually broke out into an amused laugh.
"I like her, Cassy. She's got spunk like you."
"Not Helping!" Mrs. Wolford hissed back at him, though it looked like for a second she might have actually smiled.
"Okay, how about this then." Mr. Wolford said with a grin, giving his wife a peck the cheek before he turned to look back at Nadine and Ralph with an almost amused air. "So Nadine, or should I call you Naddy? Your parents said that's what they liked to call you. Anyway Naddy, care to explain why you marking his shirt while he's wearing it, means your only claiming the shirt and not him, too? Hummm?" He added, grinning like a teacher waiting for a student to try answering a trick question.
"I, ah…" Nadine's ears pinned back, "uh…" Crap. Ralph's mother was smirking at her now, too. "Uh…" That smirk made another idea click, and Nadine pointed an accusing claw at the she-wolf. "Because you've been trying to set up my boyfriend with other dates! That shirt ought to make it damned clear that I have first pick on him!"
"So, you admit you two have been dating then." His mother said, smirk widening like she'd just won.
Nadine tried not to snarl back at her. "We're dating as of right bloody now!"
"Uh-huh," her smirk was the epitome of wolfish, "and how do you want to explain his mark on you?"
This time, it didn't feel like she'd been dunked in ice; it felt like her very blood had turned to ice.
She can't know that! Ralph doesn't even know that and I've been hanging out with him all day!
"I, I h-have n-no idea what you mean!" She barely got out just as Ralph bristled, saying, "I haven't! I wouldn't, not without asking her first! I… Nadine?"
Damnit! I should have just kept my mouth shut! Ralph was looking at her with a confused expression, clearly having caught the odd tone in her voice.
"Son," his father spoke up, still seeming to enjoy all of this, "did you forget how to use your nose, or have you just been thinking about other things all day? It's faint, but I can smell it from here."
Ralph's nose started twitching, sniffing, and Nadine felt a flare of panic rise within her again.
Don't freak out, Don't Freak Out! He must have just guessed! The deodorants covered it up all day, he wouldn't be able to smell it through all…
Ralph's nostrils flared and his nose angled toward her, sniffing more rapidly as he took a step closer.
freak out, Don't Freak Out! Nadine could feel her attempts to hold it together failing as Ralph's nose came closer and he stood on his toes, bringing his muzzle nearer to hers.
Sniff, sniff, sniff, pause… sniff...
"Ralph, come on, you know you haven't…" Nadine said a bit shakily. His eyes had closed and when he reopened them momentarly, they seemed glassy and a bit distant.
"The deodorant's gone…" He mumbled before his muzzle touched the spot he'd marked this morning, and he took one more long sniff.
Gone?! GONE?! How could it be gone?! It's not like I've… showered…
The boat flipping…
It must have washed away most of the deodorant…
Okay, time to Panic yet?
No, hold it together, just hold it together...
Ralph's sniff ended and his eyes popped back open, a look of near savage intensity behind those pure gold eyes that froze her. She couldn't breath, she couldn't think, she couldn't look away…
"Nadine? When? I- when? I don't remember… this morning? All that deodorant… But… but, why didn't you…"
She already knew the question that was coming. He was going to ask her why she hadn't just rejected him if she didn't want the mark. Why she'd hidden it instead of telling him no. Which had a simple answer, one she just hadn't wanted to admit yet, not even to herself, because she knew she wouldn't have been able to tell him no. Ralph was looking at her, looking right at her, a nearly primal longing and fear in his eyes, a look that broke her heart into a thousand little tiny pieces...
Okay time to panic! Time to panic!
Nadine grabbed Ralph's muzzle with both paws preventing him from saying anything further and then tried to figure out what to do next.
She couldn't take that look, she just couldn't, and his parents were right there and they were in the middle of the freaking park, and the Chief was staring stone faced, and Judy was looking on wide eyed, and… and…
"Ralph," Nadine whined in a terrified whisper, "everybody is watching us here! I'll answer as soon as we get away from them all and I can explain, just, just… shush about that until then, okay? Please?" That last part was a full on whine and she hoped he understood what she was trying to say with her eyes.
Ralph didn't say anything for a moment, but then that half wild panicky look in his eyes faded a bit and he nodded slightly.
Nadine sighed, and then just because she couldn't resist with how utterly relieved she was, kissed his nose quickly.
"Well, now that you two have that sorted out, why don't you come along with us." Mr. Wolford said pleasantly, clapping his paws like her whispered exchange with Ralph had settled the issue. "Naddy dear, your parents are coming in by train in a bit and I'm sure they'd like to see you as soon as they arrive."
Annnd Nadine's relief vanished, her tail spiking like it had been yanked.
"Oh, nooo, no, no!" She said turning back around and unconsciously using Ralph as a shield, "That is not going to be happening! I'm sure they're ready to see me, but I am in no way ready to see them!"
I don't think I could survive another one of their 'talks' today, that phone call was bad enough!
"You don't mean that." Mr. Wolford said cajolingly. "They want to have some time to talk to both of you before the ceremony tomorrow, and there's some other details that need to be finalized first, too."
"Ceremony?!" Nadine's voice was going high again.
Mrs. Wolford rolled her eyes. "Yes, the wedding ceremony. Now, hurry up, because we still need you to try on the dress to make sure it will fit and-"
"DRESS?! WEDDING?!" Rajah save her, how had she forgotten that from just a minute ago?
"Um, look Mrs. Wolford," Nadine tried saying calmly, though she sounded anything but calm, hell she felt anything but calm, "I appreciate all your support and everything but this is all going a bit fast," Nadine grabbed Ralph's paw and took a step backwards, "and Ralph and I need to discuss some things." The she-wolf's eyes narrowed on her, and Nadine took another step back, pulling Ralph along with her, "And there will be No marriages tomorrow! Now if you don't mind-"
"Oh, there's going to be a wedding," the wolf said and reached over, pulling a piece of paper out of her mate's pocket and snapping it open at them to display some legal looking document. "And you two are going to be there." Nadine tried to take another step back, but Ralph had gone stiff at the sight of that piece of paper. "We have a signed court order saying so, and if you two try to run, I'll have him," she pointed over to the Chief, "cuff you and drag you along."
"You can't do that!" Nadine said, her jaw dropping and she turned to Ralph gesticulating wildly. "She can't do that! Can She?! … Ralph?"
Ralph gulped and looked back at her his ears and tail down and limp, "Actually Nadine… she might…"
"Because he's one of our pack, little miss kitty. You probably should have read all the fine print before starting to date a wolf, and certainly before you took my son as your mate." Mrs. Wolford said with a victorious little smile.
Nadine looked over at the chief who was grimacing in annoyance, which was a very bad sign, and then around in a panic as if someone might be able to help her.
Stupid wolves and their stupid back woods lawyering.
Bogo's teeth started grinding again in irritation. Just when he seemed to get one problem solved another got in his way.
What else is going to go wrong? He thought darkly for a moment as Fangmeyer started glancing around desperately, like she was looking for any way to avoid being dragged off to the gallows. The air of panic the tiger was giving off had a bit of worry shooting through the more disciplined part of Bogo's mind. Fangmeyer snapping again from the stress would certainly not be good. Not good at all. If he could only…
Bogo's phone rang disturbing his irritated and worry thoughts.
"WHAT?!" Bogo bellowed, nearly breaking the cellphone as he yanked it out of his pocket, and inadvertently silencing everyone in the vicinity. Everyone except the mammal on the other end of the line.
"Chief!" came an insufferably gleeful and upbeat voice amid a cacophonously noisy background of cheering mammals, "Where is everyone? The concert is about to start! *Squeal* OMG OMG There she is! *Squeal!* Chief I thought 'The Plan' was to already have them here? Where is everyone?" Clawhauser's voice was momentarily cut off by a booming 'Helloooo Zootopia!' of his personal idol and something small and innocent deep inside Bogo seemed to break and cry as he realized that the concert wasn't about to start but was starting right that moment.
And don't forget the plan, that disciplined part of his mind tried calling over his internal weeping, Missing the concert is just a life ending tragedy, missing the concert and having the plan fail would be a world ending disaster!
There was a cracking sound in his hoof before a small popping noise and Bogo looked down with dismay to look at the crushed remains of his phone.
"Well, as fun as this all has been I think my work here is done and it seems that we're late," piped up a confident voice as Jack reached over and took Skye's paw.
"Congratulations!… I guess? on your wedding tomorrow," Skye added with a small jaunty wave as she starting to walk off with Jack, then added with a wink, "Though if you do want to see the concert first I'm pretty sure that you actually need to be served the court order before you have to listen to it."
There was a silent pregnant pause.
"oh, right!" Hopps sad suddenly, her ears snapping up, her voice in 'here's the law' cop mode, "They actually have to hand them the order before it takes effect!"
The bunny stopped and looked up, as if the implications of what had just been said sunk into everyone.
Bogo had a moment of terrible foreboding as his mind shouted, No, no, no, Wait!
But it was already too late. The food court erupted in chaos.
Fangmeyer grabbed Wolford as his mother dashed forward, order in hand, and the tiger leaped aside just in time to avoid her, bowling over tables and chairs as she rolled.
Hopps and Wilde as all the other mammals in the area, went scrambling out of their way as tables and chairs went flying.
"GREG, GET THEM!" the she-wolf shouted amid the bedlam and Bogo hit the ground as a flipped table sent someone's dessert plate flying past where his head had been a moment before.
Bogo looked back up just as Jack and Skye ran past, still holding paws as the hare grinned broadly and shouted, "See you at the concert Mason!"
He could feel a vein pulse angrily in his forehead as he ineffectual bellowed after them to get back here and help.
"Cassy! I got her! I gotttahhhhhh!" Bogo looked up just in time to see Wolford's father, who'd been getting dragged along clinging to Fangmeyer's tail, get sent flying as she whipped in a tight turn, only for the wolf to collide with his wife who'd been about to jump on the tiger as she carried Wolford in both paws like he was some stolen prize.
Fangmeyer, with a nearly feral look of panicked in her eye, threw Wolford over her shoulder and dropped, sprinting away on three paws as she held him, only for Wolford's parents to untangle themselves and cut off her escape.
"Fangmeyer!" Bogo starting to yell as she turned again, only to go wide eyed himself and duck as the terrified looking tigress vaulted over him, using his back like a spring board and the Wolfords, just a few steps behind her, crashed into his front toppling him backwards.
Not Good, Not Good… was about the only thought that made its way through his mind as he tried untangling himself from the wolves and watched as Fangmeyer, ears completely flat against her skull, sprinting pell-mell for the street.
"Hopps, Wilde!" Bogo shouted out of desperation, pointing after the tiger, "Make sure she doesn't relapse!"
There was military crisp, "Yes Sir!" from Hopps and she took off like shot out of a gun, Wilde on her heels and Bogo cringed, almost immediately regretting his order as the do or die amount of determination in Hopps voice sent another wave of ominous foreboding through him.
"Hah, Told you I had seniority!" Judy yelled sprinting toward the park security guards that Nadine had just bolted past.
"Still doesn't sound as good!" Nick shouted, just behind her, "But what's the plan because we're never going to catch Fangmeyer in a foot chase!" Judy for her part just smirked as she fished her police badge out of her pocket.
"I know! That's why we're not going on foot!" Judy shouted back before jumping up onto the front control panel of the tiger security guard's segway, sending it bobbing back and forth, "Police Emergency! We need to borrow this!" she shouted waving her badge with one paw as the startled guard practically fell off his vehicle in surprise.
"Whoah!" Judy said, the sudden absence of the tigers weight sending her and the controls dipping forward and the segway zipping ahead right at Nick.
The fox yelped, leaping right before he got run over and clutched at the vertical post of the segway as it rocketed forward, Judy dangling from the controls.
"JUDY!" Nick hollered his voice rising with concern as he looking toward where the segway was headed.
"On It!" she said and swung her body to the side tilting the controls. The segway spun in a tight turn nearly clipping the Chief as he disentangled himself from the wolves that had run into him and heading generally back in the direction Nadine had gone.
"Carrot sticks!" Judy cursed as she over corrected and tried flinging her body back in the other direction like a gymnast on parallel bars, "These didn't look that hard to control!" she said irritatedly, over corrected again and just barely missed hitting the guard from whom they'd borrowed the segway as he dived out of the way.
"Maybe because this one is just a little big for us beginners?" Nick yelled from below and Judy scoffed indignantly though she was grinning widely. She thought she was getting the hang of this. Swinging her body to the side again, Judy managed to dodge a bystander and get them going mostly in the right direction before she felt a paw grab her swinging foot and then something solid underneath it.
Judy glanced down seeing that Nick had gotten himself fully onto the segway and was standing under her, one paw with a white knuckled grip on the segways vertical shaft and the other holding her hindpaw on his shoulder. Grinning fully now, she settled her other foot on his other shoulder and stood on tiptoes, now just barely able to actually see over the control panel.
"Oh this is much better!" Judy shouted with glee as she deftly zigzagged their way through a news crew that had been setting up, sending mammals scurrying out of her way but not so much as brushing the cameras as she shot by.
"Ready Nick?" Judy asked, the adrenalin and excitement flaring in her, all the uncertainty and confusion of her whipsawing emotions and thoughts from the last few minutes vanishing before the simple straightforward orders from Bogo.
"NO!" Nick shouted in response though she could feel him setting his feet in a firmer stance. Nearly giggling with excitement Judy pointed forward and shouting like some salty sea captain, hollered "Full Speed Ahead!"
Nick grumbled something about 'Crazy' but the rest of what he said was lost as he leaned forward, and her ears started flapping in the wind as the segway accelerated even more.
"There getting away!" The she-wolf on Bogo yelped, scrambling back to her feet and stepping right on his snout in the process, "Come on Greg or we'll lose them again!" She was about to go sprinting off after them when Bogo saw Bess's hoof shoot forward, grabbing the wolf and yanking her back onto Bogo… just before there was a blur of squealing tires that flashed by just inches in front where Bogo's face was. Bogo gulped involuntarily as he thought he felt the segway barely clip his horns.
"Careful there Cassandra!" Bess said chidingly, as the wolf regained her balance and shot her a quick smile before taking off after Fangmeyer again.
"I owe you one Bess!" she called back, her husband shooting Bogo a smile and quick grinning 'Sorry Mason!' as he followed her.
"Then make sure you save us seats at the wedding tomorrow!" Bess shouted after them as she reached down and helped Bogo to his feet.
He only groaned.
The sound wasn't because he was hurt at all but because he was pretty sure he knew what he'd be stuck doing tomorrow and it would involve sitting through a gods awful long ceremony in his dress uniform.
"Bess, whose side are you on?" Bogo asked grumpily as he brushed off the dust on his clothes.
There was a shout from behind him of "Official Business! We need to borrow that!" and he turned just in time to see the other park security segway nearly burn rubber as it took off after the first one, leaving both security guards looking after their vehicles in bewilderment.
"Oh, just the side of happily ever after," Bess replied smoothly and leaned in to peck his cheek, "And since I am, I think we need to go after them and make sure that the other cute little couple of yours gets their happily ever after too don't you think? It would be a shame if your plan falls apart after all the work you've put into it."
"And how would we even catch up to them?" Bogo asked morosely, his thoughts thinking of how his plan seemed to be falling apart piece by piece. Well that and how Fangmeyer seemed on the verge of going savage again, and most importantly of all, how they were missing the concert right at that moment.
Bess only hummed thoughtfully her gaze traveling over his shoulder. He followed her eyes to see an elephant security guard pulled up on another segway and looking at the disaster scene of the food court with open trunked disbelief.
Bess gave him one of her smiling looks, full to the brim with giddy unrestrained excitement and Bogo groaned again even louder.
"Skye, why that was just down right evil!" Jack laughed as they ran paw in paw, skye just ahead of him. Well, Skye was more skipping than running, but he was trying to ignore that. Not that he had anything against skipping (except what secret agent ever skipped through an assignment?), no he was trying to ignore it because Skye was using every skip to swish her tail in his face.
It was annoying… and highly arousing... frankly it was annoying him because of just how aroused it was making him…
The tip of her tail just caught the tip of his nose and he could hear the foxy smugness in her voice
"Oh that was just fun, you haven't seen evil yet Mr. Savage! Giggle."
Jack wanted to disagree, he was pretty sure that 'evil' was a gorgeous arctic vixen that had him by his peanuts.
Well… maybe more wicked than evil… But I might have to investigate that further… Jack mussed, as Skye skipped again, the motion showing off the rear quite nicely even as her tail swooshed across his nose interrupting his view.
Yes, Jack thought seriously, looking at the possibly evil, possibly wicked vixen in front of him, I must investigate further, for the safety of Zootopia of course.
Jack's ear flipped up and back at the squealing sound, and, as Skye took her next skip, raising up on one foot, he pulled on her arm, spinning her around like a top and out of the way of the barely in control segway that shot past them.
There was another giggle from Skye as she shifted in the spin only to fall draped on his other shoulder, one paw still in his and the other around his Neck
"Jack! Tut-tut," Skye said demurely, even batting her eyelashes vapidly, though she was grinning the whole time, "We can't start dancing here! That's for the concert, silly!" She tapped him on his nose, then leaned in to kiss him. Only to stop a hare's breath away from his lips and giggle teasingly.
Jack managed to resist… for a about a second, then closed the distance to kiss her. Only for Skye to step back with another giggle and pull him forward.
He stumbled at the unexpected move, flopping forward just as another commandeered segway to shot past where he'd just been. His faceplanting fall though was broken by something, two somethings in fact that were quite soft.
"Why Jack! That's terribly forward of you!" Skye said scandalized, still in that dainty voice, "I- I mean, in public *gasp* I thought you were a gentlewabbit!" Jack looked up as her chest vibrated under his chin with a giggle that she was barely keeping contained.
"Skye," Jack said in firm voice, face still nested between her breast, and she giggled out loud this time smiling down at him.
"If you call me a 'wabbit', one. more. time. you can forget about the concert because we'll be going straight home so I can show you exactly what the difference between a rabbit and a hare is!"
Jack felt Skye's tail wrap around his legs as she leaned down close to him and breathed huskily into his ear.
"Ohh… That is such a tempting offer my… wwwrabbit." she smirked and nipped his ear, before sprinting off dragging him along by the paw, giggling furiously, "But I want to Dance before we get to that!"
Skye's giggles were cut off though as yet another segway, this time an elephant sized one went zipping by them, only for Bess to lean out behind Bogo and wave as it shot past.
"Toodles! We'll see you at the concert!" she called back at them gleefully as they disappeared down the road.
Skye came to a stop staring, before she crossed her arms and huffed.
"Why does everyone but us have segways!" She turned to him looking like someone had just stolen her lollypop, "Jack, if you can get us to the concert before them, I'll take back everything I said about you being reckless."
"Throw in a kiss and you've got yourself a deal-mmphhhh." Jack's ears snapped up in surprise as Skye grabbed him, giving him a whopper of a kiss.
It wasn't a gentle or a sweet kiss, though it tasted delightfully of cherries. And, Jack thought as Skye pulled away, it wasn't nearly long enough either.
"Now how about you get us to that concert, so we can continue that?" Skye asked, a rumbly purr in her voice.
"Reckless was it?" he asked looking around, before his eyes stopped on an unlikely possibility, though…
His ears were already up so he turned them, feeling which direction the late afternoon breeze was going in, then grinned more.
Maybe not so unlikely… and it's not like it would be the most reckless thing we've done either…
"Come on," Jack said to Skye, leading her across the street, adding, "segway's are just silly, I'll get you there in style."
"Well," said one of the park salesmammal's, an elephant holding a huge stack of cotton candy cones in one hand and a small mountain of balloon's in the other, as Jack pulled Skye to a stop in front of him, "I think I know just what you're looking for." And using his trunk, pulled a heart shaped balloon off the cluster and handed it to Jack.
"That'll be a buck unless you two want some cotton candy as well." The elephant asked holding down the stack of cones for him.
"Why that might be perfect," Jack said selecting one of the cones and handing it to Skye before pulling out his wallet and glancing up at the balloon, looking rather dubious.
"You know though… I don't think just one balloon is enough to express how I feel for Skye," Jack said shooting her smirk and pulling out a rather large bill, "how many will this get me?"
"So umm… Nadine?" Ralph asked tentatively, over the sound of her huffing breaths as he was bounced around on her shoulder, "Does this mean we're eloping?"
There was almost a growling sound from Nadine as she sucked in air, still sprinting for all she was worth, before snapped between breaths, "That depends!"
"Umm… Depends on what exactly?" Ralph asked his tail starting to wag. There was another louder growling sound from Nadine, this one more far more possessive while the last had been more vexed, and with a silly grin Ralph tried desperately to rein in his tail that was flapping in her face.
"Depends on whether we escape!" Nadine snapped out, her breaths a bit short as she gulped in air, "any ideas. On where we can. Can escape to?" she asked the strain of carrying him while sprinting all out starting to show.
"Umm…" Ralph thought furiously for a second. It was going to be damned hard to throw his parents with the fresh scent trail they'd be able to follow now, and to make things worse, while Nadine was faster in a sprint, she didn't have the sheer endurance he and other wolves did. His parents would run them to ground before too long, especially with Nadine already flagging.
Ralph turned his head around to see where they were going, then grinned.
"Nadine hold up for a second!"
She stopped, one paw going to her knee as she panted hard, and he scrambled down off her shoulder before grabbing that paw with his, "Quickly this way, before they catch up!" Ralph shouted and ran over where a line of different sized carriages were lined up, all festooned with Valentines day hearts and streamers. Ralph ran up to one of the larger ones, a rickshaw with two Zebra pullers who looked at them curiously as they ran up.
"You two sure look like you're in a hurry," the first said zebra said with a snort, "What, did you forget what time the concert started?"
The second zebra reached over and cuffed the first behind the head, hissing sharply, "Be polite to the customers!" before turning to them and clearing his throat, "Ehem, sorry about that, Where would you two like to go this Valentines day, fares are-"
"Concert!" Ralph barked, nearly shoving Nadine into the seat and climbing up behind her. Ralph turned to them as the first zebra laughed, the second now looking slightly irritated and pulled out his wallet grabbing all his remaining cash without even bothering to count it and shoving it into the Zebra's hoof with a, "and Hurry!"
The Zebra stared at his hoof for a second before saying, "Right away Sir!" now looking anything but irritated as he pocketed the wad of cash and grabbed the pull bar, "High ho Silver!" he whinnied to his partner, "You heard our fine customers, to the concert! Fast as we can!"
The cart jerked hard, sending Ralph stumbling backwards as it was lifted and both Zebra's threw their weight into the pull bars. Nadine's paws hooked him, pulling him into her lap before he could fall and Ralph tilted his head back, looking up at Nadine upside down and grinning goofily.
She looked down at him, still panting and after a few moments as the cart picked up speed, her brows furrowed.
"What?" she asked and his grin got even goofier.
"You." he almost sing-songed, his smile almost to the point of bursting, "like me!
The blush that crossed over Nadine's face was the prettiest thing he had ever seen and made his tail thump wildly against her.
"Not, just 'like' like," he continued, "but 'like' me! You, Nadine, LIKE Me! Nadine Fangmeyer *LIKES* Me!" " Ralph nearly howled jubilantly.
"Shut-Up!" Nadine squeaked in a high pitched voice, blushing even more as he leaned his head back against her and crowed, "She LIKES Me! She LIKES Me! She LIKES Me! ME! Nadine LIKES-" Nadine snarled and kissed him.
"She's Crazy! She's-" Nick muttered as the segway accelerated to speeds he wouldn't have thought possible and his heart rate picked up its pace to match out of sheer fright.
Such silly looking vehicle shouldn't be capable of reaching such speeds, he thought. It wasn't right, there had to be some rule or law against such terrifying ridiculousness, he didn't care if it was bigger than him, it was still a silly vehicle! And as such, it should have been restricted to silly vehicle speeds, like Judy's Meter Maid Joke Mobile.
"-Crazy, absolutely crazy! Crazier than the craziest vixen! I'm in love with a crazy daredevil vixen-bunny!" Nick continued to mutter under his breath as he shifted his balance, following Judy's lead as she maneuvered through the crowds on the street.
"Whoo-hoo!" Judy hollered above him in excitement as they zipped along after the tiger in the distance and Nick made the mistake of looking up at her. His fearless little bunny, full of excitement from the chase was smiling broadly in a way he found terrifying and beautiful, her ears and shirt flapping in the wind (and giving him teasing peaks of snow white belly fur) as she hooted and pumped her fist. The sight scent a pang of heartache through him, though that was only a problem for a second because his vision whited out as his upturned nose, right below the level of Judy's belly got a full blast of excited bunny.
The scent rolled through him, causing some primal part to howl in his mind like Wolford had earlier and he was lost for a few moments, his mind only able to focus on his bunny, how she smelled, how close she was, how he needed her.
Judy's foot snapped him out of it, as she shifted sideways, one foot still on his shoulder and the other now stepped right onto the top of his head, as she posed pointing forward and gleefully shouting "Onward, Onward!"
Nick leaned forward again following Judy's command without even thinking about it while he tried to recover from that momentary loss of control that had him sinking his claws into the plastic of the segway and breathing raggedly. He tried to take in a full breath but found that he seemed to be having trouble breathing.
"I see them Nick!" Judy shouted, pointing forward to where the two were scrambling into a carriage, "We're catching up!"
"Not before we do!" shouted another voice as Wolford's parents on another segway roll up beside them.
"Hey!" Nick said, to surprised and out of breath to say something witty, but then managed to gasp out a, "CopyCats!"
"Be careful who you're calling a cat!" Wolford's mother snapped, shooting him an alpha glare that had his tail instinctively curling up under him.
"What the Hell?! That was uncalled for!" Nick snapped back at her, and muttered darkly about abuse of the canine codes, though he didn't meet her eyes directly.
"Sorry foxy, but Mama Wolf's worried about her pups and on the warpath! So I'd say out her way!" Mr. Wolford called from behind the she-wolf, an arm wrapped around her waist as she drove. "Now if you don't mind…" he said jovially and waved at them while Mrs. Wolford leaned forward like some manic motorcycle racer and started to pass them.
"Hey, stop!" Judy shouted angrily, seeming more vexed than anything else by the wolf's maniacal segway driving skills that were as good or better than her own.
She leaned forward, Nick following suit, pushing their vehicle faster and catching up.
"You can't do that!" Judy shouted over, as they came up alongside the other segway, "They need to sort out their feelings for each other without you making them go crazy!"
The she-wolf huffed like that was the stupidest idea she'd ever heard.
"Oh yes I can!" she shouted waving the court order at them again, "And they've already made their feelings for each other abundantly clear." she said just as they all clearly heard a howling shout of 'She Likes Me!' from the carriage they were chasing and Mrs. Wolford gave an exasperated eyeroll, pointing forward, "Their just being two love sick idiots now! This is the best thing for them! Them and the Pack!"
"But!... But!" Judy stammered, seeming unsure of what to say for a second, "You're still making them go crazy! And parents shouldn't interfere with their kids love lives!"
"Oh and I suppose your family wouldn't get involved in your love life?" the wolf said with a laughing bark, and Nick could feel Judy shiver at the thought.
"N-No! They wouldn't!" Judy said defensively, shifting on Nick's shoulder and head uncertainly, as the wolf snorted disbelievingly.
"Fine! So they might! … A lot…" Judy snapped, before leveling a figure at the wolf, "But that doesn't make it right! I wouldn't ever do that to my kits!"
"Oh?" The she wolf turned her head giving Judy a penetrating glance, "Are you so sure you wouldn't want what's best for your kits? Humm…" her sharp glance shifted to Nick and he gulped hard, suddenly terrified of this she-wolf.
She knows! Some instinctual part of him screamed in alarm at the wolf's piercing look, She knows! She Knows I'm in love with Judy, She knows I want to start a family with her. I'm screwed! Screwed! She knows!
Nick barely heard Judy's nearly incoherent stammering as his ears flattened themselves to his skull.
"I'll tell you what Ms. Hopps," the wolf said with a smile that turned Nick's blood cold with fear as she looked back at Judy, "Why don't you help me catch Ralph and Nadine and I'll see if I can't help you with a few of your… relationship *ehem* frustrations…" she tapped her nose slyly, smiling wickedly at Judy, though her eyes glance ever so briefly at him, at a point right over his heart on his shirt, as she added, "I bet I know 'somebunny' that loves you."
Nick's hackles stood on end just as Judy squeak-screeched, her legs going stiff and pushing down hard on his and sending their segway slewing for a second.
"Don't listen to the Evil She-Wolf!" Nick shouted in panic looking up at Judy again as she corrected the segway, "She's out to get Nadine and You and…"
Your cute little tail, his mind added as the world's cutest little tail bobbed right in front of his eyes suddenly and thoroughly entrancing him just as her scent sledge hammered him again, even stronger than it was before.
Nick was literally knocked out of his stunned state as the two segways collided, their wheel rims squealing against each other.
"You Can't call a Bunny Cute!" Judy nearly screamed, her voice almost vibrating like some angry embarrassed hornet.
"What? I'm just repeating what he said!" Snickered a wolf's voice, "Now, help or get out of the way before that 'cute little tail' of yours gets hurt!"
Nick froze as there was an unintelligible sound of pure embarrassment that might have been Judy or might have been him, just before the two segway's collided again.
Nadine had kissed Ralph to shut him up, but his jubilance and joy bled over into the kiss and before she new it she was being kissed, and then kissing him back. Her heart hammering, nearly beating out of her chest as the kiss went on and on, her paws holding her wolf close to her, unwilling to let go.
"Dude!" one of the zebras muttered, "Seriously?! Why does everyone have to make out during carriage rides?!"
"Because, Dufus," the other answered, "it's Valentine's day, and for the amount they're paying us for this ride, they can snog all they want, now Pull!"
Nadine blushed at the commentary and broke off the kiss before trying to hide by disappearing into the seat of the rickshaw. Her efforts though were foiled by Ralph.
"You like me." He mumbled between breaths as he laid back against her.
Nadine grumbled noncommittally, lowering her head to rest on his shoulder. He didn't say it again, but she could feel the word, that real L-word he was tip toeing around, in the way his smile pulled at his muzzle as he turned and nuzzled her.
"Fine," she grumbled into his neck quietly, arms still holding him close, "I 'like' you." His tail thumped even harder against her leg and Nadine could feel herself starting to blush furiously so she asked him a question to distract herself.
"Why are we heading to the concert?"
"Because," Ralph nuzzled her again, the motion making warm tingling feelings spark and flutter inside of her, "first, it's a Valentine's day concert by Gazelle and I'm taking the girl that I like and that likes me to it." She grumbled again nuzzling her nose deeper into the crook of his neck, "Second, if you remember what Clawhauser said to the Chief right before we ran, whatever is going down with Judy and Nick's mission will be going on at the concert and we should still be there to back them up. And third," he nuzzled her again and Nadine might have made a sound, just a small surprised sound, certainly not happy little mewing sigh, "because it will be packed and we should be able to lose my parents in the crowd,"
The mention of his parents made Nadine shiver and clutched him tighter.
"I am not ready for that," Nadine groaned into Ralph's neck and she could feel him nodding.
"Ya, I agree. We need to have that 'talk' you promised first. Preferably before our parents drag us off to get married."
One of the Zebras snickered under his breath as he pulled, nickering, "still afraid of their parents *snicker* now that's funny…"
"Hey!" Ralph snapped his ears going back, "It's not funny! You try having an alpha as your mother and see how funny it is!"
"Pfftttt!" The zebra snorted, before shaking his head, "No thanks! I'll leave you wolves with your pack silliness and just sit back and laugh at you all! All reasonable mammal's know herds are the way to go anyway!"
There was a metal on metal screeching sound that silenced the Zebra's snickering, followed by shouts and Nadine cringed while Ralph went ridged. One of those voices had sounded an awful lot like Ralph's mother's.
Almost unwillingly, Nadine looked around the side of the carriage to were both zebras were glancing back to and then wished she hadn't.
"Well, that's my boyfriend's mother," Nadine managed to say, and was surprised at how calm her voice sounded, "and if you don't want to find out just how 'not funny' she is then I'd suggest you pull Faster!"
The old goat cracked his back before sitting down on the bench, only for his wife to laugh and poke him.
"I told you, you should have brought that cane Russell got you for your birthday," she said with a smile as he grumbled.
"I'm not so old yet that I need a walking cane to get around Ellie!" he said indignantly turning up his chin and adjusting his square glasses, "Especially not after Dug put tennis balls on the bottom of it!"
"I thought it made that cane look athletic." The nannygoat chuckled and he huffed, trying not to smile.
"The next thing you know, instead of us helping those young whippersnappers out with their Ranger scout group, they'll all be trying to help us cross the street!"
"Well, who said streets can't be dangerous adventures all on their own," the Nanny goat said teasingly, "who knows when us old adventures might need some help from younger ones to cross those treacherous expanses!"
"You're not old Ellie!" he huffed standing up determinedly, "and there's no street to 'dangerous' that us young hearted adventures couldn't handle!" he said striking a confident pose… only to wince as his hip to let out a crack of protest.
There was a squeal of tires, and the old goat rubbing at the joint looked down the street only for his eyes to widen at the sight of one of the parks valentine's day rickshaws come skidding around the corner.
He let out a startled bleat, and only barely managing to hobble/jump out of the way as the two Zebra's thundered past, the carriage clattering along in their wake, someone shouting, "FASTER, FASTER! Or they'll catch UP!"
The goat shook his head for a second to clear it as he started sitting up, then blinked in astonishment, pointed to the sky.
"Balloons! See that Ellie!" he shouted excitedly, pointing emphatically at the cluster of balloons with two mammals clinging to them and, apparently, eating cotton candy as it started lazily passing across the street "I told you that fortuneteller said balloons not lagoons!"
"One adventure at a time Carl! Watch the street!" She shouted worriedly just as there was more squealing sounds and shouts from the direction the carriage had come from.
"That wedding is going to happen! *Growl* Now get out of my way CUTIE-TAIL!" CLANG- SQUEAL
"AGHHH! NO! You Evil Matchmaking Fiend! AND STOP CALLING ME THAT! You don't know what's best for them!"
"I- oh Carrot Sticks! NICK, Take the Controls!"
The goat looked up just in time to see two segways bearing down on him, only for the bunny on one of the large vehicles to swing over to the second flipping like a acrobat, and grabbing the control bar, twisting it, before she lost her grip and went spinning off; the segway the bunny had jumped from started going out of control while the fox riding on it scrambled up the central post.
The goat cringed as the segways veered off in opposite directions, both barely missing him, followed by skidding and crashing sounds as well as a 'Uffffft!' loud enough he heard it clearly without his stupid hearing aid. Turning around, he saw the two segways skidding to a stop along the road, two wolves sticking tail first out of a large pile of stuffed animal prizes they'd knocked over from one game stand while the fox was spread eagled against the pot belly of a big brown bear running another stand on the other side of the street.
The bear looked down at the fox with a confused expression as the fox slid off the bear's belly and hit the ground with a groan.
Grumbling about the hooligans these days, the old goat started getting up only for the little bunny to come running up to him.
"Sir! Sir? Are you alright? Here let me help you." and before he knew it or could complain the little bunny was ushering him across the street.
"Wait! I don't need any help!-" He started saying only to find himself back at the bench next to his grinning wife, the bunny already running off in the direction of the segways that the wolves scrambling out of the pile of prizes were aiming for.
He stared after her and almost wishing that he had the silly cane with him just so he could shake it at all of them.
His wife patted his leg comfortingly, her voice full of amusement as she asked, "Now, what was that about not needing help across the street?"
"You okay?" the bear looking down at Nick asked.
Nick replied with a noncommittal groan, then raising a shaky paw and gave the bear a thumbs up.
"Ya… I think so…"
His head was still spinning a bit. He'd managed to grab the controls of the segway and veering it away from the goat they'd almost hit, only to completely lose control as he'd dangled from the handles and the segway toppled, spinning out and sending him flying.
"Thanks for breaking my fall…" Nick muttered, sitting up and looked around only to see Judy chasing after the wolves as they ran toward the down segways.
"NICK!" Judy hollered, "Their trying to take both! Stop Them!"
"What am I supposed to do?!" Nick shouted back, though he quickly started getting up to futilely chase after them. The wolves and Judy were too far ahead for him to get there in time, and it wasn't like he had his tranq pistol or anything… Nick stopped and looked back at the sign over the game stall the bear was manning.
'3 shots for a $1, Hit the target to Win!'
Judy was running as hard as she could, but Mr. Wolford had already reached the first segway and was righting it while Mrs. Wolford raced for the other.
"NICKKK!" Judy yelled again right before there was a POP and a cork bounced off Mr. Wolford's head sending him toppling forward.
"Whoot! Got it on the first shot!" Nick yelled and Judy glanced at him just long enough to see him reloading the cork gun at one of the game stalls and take aim at the she-wolf who was growling as she picked up the other segway.
The wolf ducked and the cork bounced of the handle bars. There was a curse from Nick but the she wolf was already leaning forward, the segway starting to pick up speed.
Judy leap in a flat dive, just as there was another POP and managed to grab onto the wolf's tail flapping out behind her, only to yelp as the cork buzzed her own tail and ricocheted off her back.
"NICK!" she shouted indignantly only to get a fading "Sorry!" as she and Mrs. Wolford sped away.
"Opps!" Nick muttered as the cork bounced off the heart shaped sticker on Judy's back and clipped the wolf's ear.
Nick cupped his paw around his muzzle hollering, "Sorry!" as Judy's indignant shout drowned out the wolves annoyed growl.
"Well, that's not quite how the games supposed to be played…" the bear said scratching his head before reaching over and grabbing one of the myriad prizes along the wall, "But you got two out of three, and maybe this will help you make it up to your 'Foxy Lady'." He said handing Nick a stuffed smiling carrot almost as big as he was.
"Thanks." Nick said, slapping down a dollar and taking the stuffed carrot before running toward where the Mr. Wolford was getting up off the ground and shaking his head.
"Hey! No stealing our segway!" Nick shouted running at the wolf, gripping the stuffed carrot in both paws, "We only burrowed that!", he swung the carrot just like Finnick had taught him with all those hours at the batting cages, grip tight but not too tight, swing carrying through with the shoulders and hips not just the arms.
The larger end of the stuffed carrot toy smacked into the wolf's muzzle and he yelped, sitting back on his hunches in surprise as Nick jumped onto the segway… and realized he was too short to drive it.
"Did wu just wack me wid a twoay cawwot?!" the wolf on his haunches asked, holding his nose though he sounded more surprised than hurt.
Nick turned back to the wolf, lifting The Carrot threateningly.
"Yes, Yes I did, now you're going to drive this segway so I can catch up to my partner or I'll whack you with it again!"
"Get Off My TAIL!"
"Get Off My SEGWAY" Judy shouted back and clung on tighter, only to yelp as Mrs. Wolford reached back and grabbed her tail, trying to yank her off.
"Hey! OWW! Tug on my tail again and I'll bite yours!" Judy threatened showing her large nashers to the wolf. The tugging immediately stopped though she didn't let go.
"You bite my tail and I'll make sure your fox doesn't find your little tuft so cute anymore!" She snarled back threateningly.
"Hey! Leave Nick out of this!" Judy shouted back blushing hard, and trying to figure how to get herself out of this standoff… biteoff? and she couldn't believe Nick had said that about her tail! "And stop. Saying. THAT. WORD!"
"Why? You didn't seem to have an issue when your fox said it!" The she-wolf said pointedly, still clutching Judy with one paw even as she whipped the segway onto another street in the park, trying to catch up to the carriage.
"He said it in jest! And only Nick is allowed to joke with me like that!" Judy snapped trying to fight her raging blush and hold back her temper at the same time.
"Joke?!" The Wolf laughed, and continued like she scented wounded prey, "Girl, that was no joke! By Balto's beard! Have you been taking dating lessons from my son because you're being almost as idiotic as he is!"
"I- Want!? NO! Its Not LIKE That! Nick Always jokes like that!" Judy nearly screamed, her frustration seeming to boil over and she reached back and with a precise punch to the nerve cluster in the wolfs paw managed to get her to let go.
"OWW! Hey!" The Mrs. Wolford shook her hand, then tried to grab her again, while Judy still clinging to her tail with one paw tried to stop her.
The fight, if it could be called that, quickly devolved into a odd one pawed slap fest as Judy tried to fend off the Wolf's paw without losing her grip on her tail and falling off.
"Stop being an Idiot and get off so I can go stop my son from being an idiot!"
"I'm not an Idiot! And neither is Ralph! You're messing things up between him and Nadine!"
"Oh yes you are! You're just another lovesick idiot like those two that needs someone to straighten you out!
"I. Am. NOT!" Judy hollered, slapping the wolf's paw away again.
Judy was holding her own physically but her emotions and temper were frayed and she felt like she was losing ground on the verbal battlefield, just like she was losing control of her blush. The she-wolf's voice was just so vexingly know it all-ish and every word she said seemed to jab at her, wearing at her that much more.
"Girl you don't think I can't smell how much of a love sick idiot you are?! All that sexual arousal and frustration and worry, hum?"
"WHAT?! I, You, – WHAT?!" Judy's voice was more of a screech and distracted as she was, she failed to stop the wolf from getting a grip on her and yanking her off her tail.
The wolf laughed again holding Judy up in front of her, "I almost feel sorry for you! You and that fox! He smelled like he was in even worse shape than you! Why he's probably been following you around all winter, scent drunk on your smell and too idiotic to tell you how he feels."
"I- WHAT?! NO!" Judy exploded, She wasn't sure if it was the fact that the wolf had gotten the best of her and was now holding her nearly helplessly by the scruff of the neck, or that her jibes were like hammer blows to her heart, or if it was that she wanted to believe that what the wolf was saying was more than just an attempt to infuriate her (which was totally succeeding) and make her screw up like she had. She could feel hot tears, a mix of rage and heartbreak as she flailed and shouted uselessly for a second. "You Don't KNOW ANYTHING! I might like HIM but HE Likes SOME STUPID FOXY LADY! HE's told me so!"
The she wolf rolled her eyes in an infuriatingly patronizing way and Judy tried kicking that look right off her face, and nearly managed it. Nearly.
Mrs. Wolford pull her muzzle back just in the nick of time, sending the segway careening for a second before she recovered. Judy For her part only had the satisfaction of a single moment of seeing the surprised look on the she-wolf's face before the force of her kick and the careening segway sent her flipping back and forth as she hung in the wolf's grip.
The she-wolf's face came back into view as her motion dampened out, and the look of stunned shock on the wolf's face felt vindictively pleasing in her maddened state… right until the wolf laughed uproariously.
"Foxy! Lady?!" She barely managed to get out between laughs, as Judy looked at her stunned, "Oh you are hopeless! You poor little bunny!" Mrs. Wolford laughed again and turned her head, whipping a few tears of mirth off and her shoulder before looking back at the street and then to Judy.
"You think I'm some sort of fiendish matchmaker sticking my nose where it doesn't belong? Well I'll tell you what, since you're a friend of Ralph's, if you help me nab my runaway pups, I'll help you get that fox you're so obviously in love with. I can Guarantee it. No stupid 'Foxy Lady' is a match for this 'Matchmaker'!" She said with a nearly feral grin and laugh.
Judy just gaped at the wolf for a second as she hung there by her scruff. The she-wolf had been rubbing her the wrong way since she'd meet her, what with her excruciatingly irritating with a self-righteous manner, but she also seemed so carrot be damned confident in her assertion.
What if what she says is right? What if she could get me Nick? Judy thought, her heart seeming to stop for a second.
That would be like stealing him! Part of Judy's mind object to the thought of pulling Nick's affection away from his stupid foxy lady, though another part of her mind couldn't help screaming MY FOX! Feed that foxy lady to this she-wolf! and it was a part of her mind that she was having more and more trouble controlling, no matter how wrong she felt it was to try stealing him away.
That little voice in her mind telling her not to be selfish, was being buried under her longing, her want, her need… She'd wanted today to be a special day just for Nick and her, a day she could look back on and remember when she finally, inevitably lost him to that vixen. But every moment together here today had been making it that much harder to let him go. From that frightful moment in the coffee shop holding him, to all the fun she'd had with him on the rollercoasters and the pictures, to that moment on the love boat, where he'd held her, comforted her, then nearly drove her mad with his teasing and his 'you know you love me,' until she'd finally broken and wanted to wallop and kiss him.
All of it, from his voice, to the way his fur felt every time she'd snuck the chance to touch him, it all bore down on her, against that part of her trying to be a good upright non-love-stealing bunny.
And what if the Mrs. Wolford's right and he does have some feelings for you too… it's not really stealing if he likes you too…
That's more the definition of stealing!
It's only stealing if he and that vixen were already together… the thought was wicked and seductive, and Judy couldn't help thinking back on how Nick had said she wasn't interested, how that still enraged her; A vixen like that didn't deserve his love…
But Nick does Love her, he's even admitted it! Nick the 'never admit anything' actually admitted it! How is that not stealing his love?
Ahhh… but would he admit it if he had feelings for you too? Feelings more than just platonic love? It's possible, you were even going to ask him tomorrow because you don't know for sure. (that, and Nadine will rip you a new one if you keep assuming…) The thoughts seemed to slowly eat away at all the reasons, all the logic that was telling her it was a bad idea. She new they were ideas based on her deepest darkest secret wishes but she couldn't help how much she wanted them. You don't know… and there was the way he blushed too, back at the food court when he was trying to protect you… you don't know and it's possible... the thoughts seemed to whisper at her, digging into her mind, … all you need is for that to be possible…
Even if he does have some small feelings for me, he loves that stupid vixen! It would still be stealing!
No… That's just competing for his love… that's different than stealing
"How?" Judy asked before she even realized she'd responded to Mrs. Wolford.
The she-wolf grinned. A terrifyingly wolfish grin.
"Well, I would start by having you and your fox be the bridesmaid and groomsman at the wedding. 'Matchmaker' that I am, getting the bridal bouquet to land in your paws will be a cinch and that's only the start. I'll have him dumping this idiotic 'Foxy Lady' for you before the reception is even over."
"Are you sure there isn't a way we could work this out like reasonable mammals?" Mr. Wolford asked as he drove the segway, a note of what might just possibly be amusement in his voice.
"Quiet you! I've got a carrot and I know how to use it!" Nick said from behind him, holding the carrot like a big fluffy orange rifle and jabbed the wolf in the back with the pointy end… which deflated slightly as it nudged the wolf forward.
"Anyway, Bogo ordered us to watch over Nadine and you and Mrs. Wolford seem to be the prime reason at the moment that she might lose it again, so no. I don't see how we can work this out."
"We do have a court order, requiring their attendance at the wedding." Mr. Wolford said calmlly as he turned onto another street and Nick spotted the other segway up ahead.
"An order which hasn't been served yet," Nick countered, giving the wolf another poke with the carrot just incase he thought he could get uppity with him.
"Sure… but you all are cops, right? Isn't it your duty to help us serve that court order?" he asked and Nick mulled that over for a second.
"I'm pretty sure public safety takes precedence over helping you serve that court order." He replied after a second, then frowned. Judy looked like she might be in trouble considering how the she-wolf seemed to have hold of her. Nick poked Mr. Wolford again, this time a bit harder.
"Hurry up, that doesn't look good." He said a bit of hardness edging his voice as he saw that Judy was being held by the scruff of the neck with her ears down and arms crossed in a not happy at all rabbit sort of way. Mr. Wolford leaned forward on the segway speeding up.
"Okay, but what if Naddy had a bit of time to calm down? She and Ralph have been together long enough that she should understand how the pack works, well generally at least. This wedding has to happen, and it has to happen tomorrow. I'm sure you understand why."
"Foxes don't do packs," Nick said flatly, eyes glued on Judy. His hackles finally lowered as they got close enough for him to read her expression. She was mad, visibly so, but more like a cross between someone beat me in the ring and Bogo just assigned us Parking Duty. Judy opened her mouth saying something to the Mrs. Wolford and Nick could feel his whole body relaxed a bit as it became apparent the two were not on the verge of brawling on the moving segway again. "but yes," he added, "I have an idea why it might be important."
Nick shrugged before continuing, "I think you should just leave them be for the rest of the day… and night, certainly don't mess with them tonight I expect they'll be busy. Just corner them, *ehem* talk to them in the morning." Nick thought for a second before adding, "and if you really want to get on Nadine's good side, bring them breakfast."
"That… might not be the best idea…" Mr. Wolford winced, "It could be taken the wrong way, new wolf couple and all, um, tiger-wolf couple? You know…"
Nick rolled his eyes, "Right, you wolves have that funny thing about food. Well bring them coffee in the morning at least. Nadine can be a bit snarly when she doesn't gets her morning joe at the precinct. Coffee isn't food, and if you really need to be pedantic about it, then call it a deliver and have them pay for it."
Mr. Wolford glanced back at Nick giving him an appraising look, "You sure foxes don't do packs? You seem like you'd be awfully good at it."
"Have to know them to be able to hustle them," Nick shrugged, "I'm sure you've heard from Ralph about my past."
"Uh-huh, and what are you trying to hustle out of me right now, Mr. Wilde?" the wolf asked acutely, then followed his gaze to where he was looking.
"Oh, oh! Well, I'm sure I can get my wife to release her," Mr. Wolford said with a laugh that had Nick's ears snapping back and his chest vibrating with a warning growl. The wolf, still grinning, raised one paw in a surrender motion. "Now now, no need for that. I'm sure you could trade my safe return for her. Cassy wouldn't want me getting carroted after all!" The wolf snickered as Nick jabbed the carrot into his back again before looked over his shoulder the smaller fox, his expression turning more discerning.
"You know… you really should just tell her…"
"That, is none of your business!" Nick snapped and the wolf shrugged.
"Right, right. Forgot, you foxes have that funny thing about courting. Well best of luck with that, though if it helps, I'm pretty sure she does like you." he said and tapped his nose.
Nick hadn't thought it was possible to blush and growl at the same time, but he sure as hell managed it.
"And there off to the rails again!" Skye said in an announcer's voice using the cotton candy cone as a mock microphone as they floated along above and watched the chaos unfold below them.
"Little Miss Bunny and Mama Wolf Jockeying for control, Wolfeyer now with a comfortable 20 lengths lead, Papa Wolf's back on his feet after an his stumbling the restart, but here comes Wilde Times and oOHH! Papa Wolf's down again, Wilde Times passing him! Wolfeyer still in the lead, taking the final turn and entering the straight away to the gates, but it looks like they're zebra's are flagging! Papa Wolf, what a turn! Now being herder by WIlde Times! Mama Wolf and Little Miss Bunny starting to make up ground, fighting hard! What a Tail fight! Mama Wolf takes the lead! No, Little Miss Bunny, No! Mama Wolf! Its Neck and Neck as the round the final turn!"
Jack was trying not to snicker to loudly at Skye's commentary. She turned her head back for a second looking behind them.
"Buffalo Bess and Chief Bull still in the backfield but gaining ground, oh and it looks like we have some new contestants!" Skye said with glee and Jack saw some of the other park security guards, some of which were gaping open mouthed at them as they floated along under his multicolored bundle of heart shaped balloons, others who were gesticulating wildly and taking off after them.
"Thank goodness we can classify Bogo's little help request as a mission," Jack snickered, pulling out his phone with his free paw and typing off a message, "It is for the safety of Zootopia of course, but I can't wait to see how our boss explains this to the park security." He clicked the send button and started counting.
He made it to 6 before his phone pinged with an incoming message.
'You did What?'
'You two better have a damned good reason this time. Hold on, I'll get in contact with them and explain… something.'
"Well that should take care of any hissy fits from the park security at least." Jack said just as his phone pinged again.
He read the message then turned to Skye.
"Agent U kindly asks that you, ehem, Make sure that rash reckless problem causing partner of yours doesn't cause anymore 'incidents' for at least the rest of the day."
Their was a snicker from Skye as she took a bite of the cotton candy and offered it to him.
"Why I do believe that our demure little boss might have some plans for tonight!" she said gleefully as Jack tried to take a bite of the cotton candy and she pulled it away teasingly before feeding him a bite, then whispered sotto voce, "Best we better not interrupt that, did you hear the rumors of what she did to that assassin that interrupted her last date night? I mean, how is it even possible to stuff a wallaby into their own pouch?!"
"Yaa… we might want to avoid that, us being pouchless and all, and speaking of avoiding things, we might want to start getting ready to land if we want to avoid flying right over the concert hall."
"Right you are, we've got some dancing to do!" Skye said with a terrifying amount of enthusiasm. And then looked up at the balloons above them.
"Blue is a ridiculous color for a heart shaped balloon anyway," she said and reached out, using her claw to sever one of the balloon lines tied to his belt. "why would anyone want to be blue on valentine's day? And that shade of pink is just too gaudy!" she cut another line and Jack felt them starting to descend.
"Return the Bunny and nobody gets hurt!" Nick shouted as they pulled up alongside the other segway and brandished his stuffed carrot threateningly.
"What this cute little thing?" Mrs. Wolford said holding Judy, who had a rather sour look on her face.
"Don't Call her CUTE!" Nick shouted his hackles rising defensively, "You can't call bunnies cute!"
The she-wolf laughed before, smirking back at Judy, who surprisingly, had stayed quiet.
"Well bunny girl, do we have a deal?" she asked, her grin showing of quite a few teeth.
Judy's eyes narrowed slightly and she bit out, "I'm still not going to let you mess with Nadine and Ralph right now. You have her too worked up."
The she wolf huffed and rolled her eyes, "Well, if I get to them first, it doesn't matter."
She turned back to Nick and shouted, "Here, you want her, you take her!" and she dropped Judy on the control bars and leapt across to their segway shouting back, "See you tomorrow bunny girl!"
"JUDY!" Nick yelled as the segway she was on started to go out of control. He swung his stuffed carrot at the she-wolf but she caught the toy. Nick though, just scrambling up it like it was a rope, before jumping onto the control panel of the segway in front of Mr. Wolford, and taking just a moment to set himself, and snag the vehicle's key, jumped over to Judy's segway as she tried to regain control of it.
Nick wobbled for a second on his landing but recovered and grabbed for Judy's feet, helping her steady herself.
"GO, GO, GO!" Nick shouted just as there was a shout from the the wolves as it started falling behind, their vehicle only coasting now.
"What did you do Nick?" Judy asked perplexed as she glanced back at the now not so smug she-wolf angrily shaking the stuffed carrot at them as they made their escape.
"Oh nothing much, just made a bit of a trade," He said spinning the key around on his claw for a second, before looking back a bit morosely at the fading segway behind them, "Sorry though Carrots, I was going to give that to you that stuffed carrot to apologize for that last shot," he held up the key to Judy, "Will this do instead?"
Judy took the key, staring at it for a second before laughing.
"You sly hustling fox!" she said and laughed again, the sound doing wonders for the worry and concern that had been eating at him for the last few minutes he'd been apart from Judy.
"Okay slick, let's catch up Nadine and Ralph and make sure they're alright. We might even still have time to make it to the concert after all of this!" She said jubilantly and Nick smiled at the quick return of her exuberance. He hadn't liked the expression Judy's had when she'd been talking to Mrs. Wolford. His bunny was supposed to be bright and happy, and seeing her any other way just felt… wrong.
"Right-o Fluff," he said, then grinned, "but if we're still going to the concert, I want you to try out my dance moves instead of your hip-hop nonsense."
The rickshaw squealed to a stop in front of the gates to the stadium where the roar from the crowd and the concert could easily be heard and the two zebra's nearly collapsed.
"Can't believe. Chased. By wolves. Ridiculous." One of them panted as Nadine scurried out of the carriage pulling Ralph behind her.
"I think we lost them." Nadine said looking around, her heart finally starting to settle down. Only to jump straight up in the air with a startled yowl as a segway pulled to a stop next to them.
"Gahhh!- Judy?!" Nadine poked her head up from behind Ralph were she'd tried to hide, then frowned. Not because of Judy but because of why she was hiding behind Ralph and the absurdity of it. She was bigger than him and she didn't hide from anything! … except her parents… and now that she considered it, Ralph's parents too.
Might want to find a better hiding spot before his parents show up again. Nadine caught Ralph glancing at her, his eyes an intense bright gold that didn't seem like they wanted to look anywhere else while his tail still wagged in a giddy fashion. For that matter she notice that he still had her paw in his and seemed absolutely unwilling to let it go.
"Judy, Nick!" Ralph said looking over at them and giving them a cheery wave as he moved closer to her side. "Good to see you survived meeting my parents too." The press of Ralph against her and the way he glanced back at her, eyes still that wolfishly bright gold made her heart pick up again, and Nadine realized that she'd only just escaped one fire to run right into another.
He's going to want an answer, she thought with a stomach dropping, heart wrenching fright that was worse than the rollercoasters, He's going to want that explanation about the mark and I'm not going to be able to stall much longer…
Nadine's thoughts were interrupted as jack and Skye came casually floating down to land a few feet away, before Jack pulled some sort of knot at his belt and all the balloons above them went lazily floating away.
"Hey everyone!" Skye beamed, waving a cotton candy cone and taking a bite from it as she walked past with Jack grinning fit to burst, "Better hurry up and get out of here, we saw Bogo and your parents not too far back."
Nadine yelped again, looking back down the road. She was stuck between a rock and a hard place but she knew which she feared more.
"Wait up!" Nadine shouted, and still holding Ralph's paw chased after the two into the concert.
"Well, looks like we'll get to see most of the concert after all," Nick said to Judy as he watched the wide eyed Nadine turn and hurry into the stadium dragging Ralph behind her.
Judy gave him a half hearted smile as she turned to follow, and the little bit of worry in Nick from before came back again. With the adrenalin of the chase fading it was becoming more apparent that something was bugging her, and he didn't know what. Well more exactly he didn't know what of a dozen different things from the past half hour might be bugging her.
She could still be upset over the tail thing on the boat, or that gods be damned news broadcast, or… Nick started mentally ticking off possibilities, trying to figure out what was the source of his bunnies droopy ears while he fell into step besides her, or that Wildehopps thing, or how I called her tail cute, he cringed a bit at that slip up. He liked to tease her with that word but teasing had to be done right and that had just been him blurting it out.
Then again maybe it was that Mrs. Wolford, Nick thought hopefully thinking of how she'd gotten the better of Judy in their scuffle. If there was one thing Judy hated, it was to lose. And while the idea that it was Mrs. Woldord that had put judy into this despondent mood made him bristle protectively, Nick couldn't help hoping, just a bit, that she had been the cause, because then it's not because of something I did…
Thinking back on it as they made their way through the security check at the concert and into the packed stadium, Nick remembered that wolfish smirk Mrs. Wolford had on and what she'd asked Judy.
Skye and Jack had broken off and were headed in there own direction and Judy was following after Nadine and Ralph, probably he thought, so that she could keep an eye on Nadine like Bogo had ordered. But even as they made their way through the cheering crowd as Gazelle finished one song and the band began setting up for another, she still didn't look a fraction as cheerful as she should have been, especially at a live Gazelle concert. His bunny should have practically been bouncing of the walls with excitement.
Nick's mouth narrowed a bit as he watched and became more concerned. He mulled over his thoughts of why again and finally decided that it was best to just go ahead and ask her. Judy was always better at handling things front on, she just needed some help getting started sometimes.
Making sure he didn't seem to be looking at her (while watching her minutely) Nick bumped her hip.
"Hey Fluff, what's the matter?"
Judy looked up at him and put on a smile that he could easily tell was forced.
"Nothing, why do you think something's the matter?" she said too brightly and he stopped turning to her and raising his eyebrow.
"Because we're at a Gazelle concert and your ears aren't trying to fly of your head."
She reached back, self consciously, to feel her ears still hanging down behind her and then looked chagrined.
"oh…" she looked back and him and Nick raised his other eyebrow as well, "It's really nothing Nick," she said looking down and away, "Mrs. Wolford just… just…"
Judy had a look of such confliction on her face that he wanted to reach out and hug her. He almost did, but then decided to bump her hip again, and grinned at her.
"She's a willy old dog isn't she? Quite the alpha bitch eh?" he said waggling his eyebrows as Judy looked up with a shocked, "Nick!"
She looked around, before hissing at him, "You shouldn't call wolves that!"
"Well, she stole my Carrots so I think it's fair." Nick said crossing his arms and turning his nose up, though he was grinning just a bit now.
"I thought you said you used your traded your carrot for their keys," Judy said back with a light smack, and Nick had the slightest momentary bit of panic before he recovered.
"Right, so I did. Traded that carrot for their keys, quite a nice little hustle of a deal if I do say so myself," he nodded as if patting himself on the back, and Judy let out a small but real laugh.
"Stop congratulating yourself for that Slick, now come on we need to keep a close eye on Nadine right now," she grabbed his paw and pulled him along, her ears a bit more perky than they were before.
"and Nick," Judy looked back at him for the briefest moment, before continuing in an almost shy voice, "Thanks for always being there to cheer me up."
"Always Carrots." Nick said smiling and then squeezed her paw just as the next song started up and Judy hopped in place fist bumping the air.
"This is one of my Favorites!" She pulled Nick into a open gap where she could see the stage and Nadine, who'd pulled Ralph over to the side in a quieter spot.
"You say that about ever Gazelle song," Nick commented blandly before smiling.
"Well they all are!" Judy said before cheering with the crowd,and giving him a smile, "And I'm not going to let that big bad wolf can keep me from enjoying this concert!"
"Apparently not," Nick smirked seeing Judy ramp back up to the over the top enthusiastic bunny he'd come to love, then shook his head in amusement, "Not even the biggest baddest wolf of them all, though, I have to admit I'm curious as to what that deal she was talking about was. She looked mighty confident about it." Judy froze mid hop at his musings, her ears looking like they might actually manage to go flying off.
Surprised, Nick reacted more on reflex and his arm shot out grabbing Judy as she landed off balance, inadvertently pulling her against him as he tried to stop her fall.
Judy looked up from within the circle of his arms and into his concerned face, a bit wide eyed and muttered, "Deal?! I d-didn't take any deal!"
One more Chapter to go. Check back for:
Chapter 15 - IT'S A TRAP!
Operations Clock: 7 hours
Secret Squirrel Division Report:
StarFang's Secrets - The squirrels were going to raid her for ideas but she was so nice that she offered to help them. Seriously HUGE Thanks to Starfang for tons of editing help! The squirrels owe you one star!
Squirrels heard that there were free peanuts at a viewing of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and may have brought back ideas from this - something about the 'Chariot Chase scene'
Cimar of Wildehopps Turalis - Squirrels gave him a couple of beers then secretly studied him to figure out how to write slurred speech, then stole his 'twoay cawwot'
MinscLovesBoo- the squirrels tried raiding him again but he was apparently prepared this time and just handed the ideas over with a sigh and told them to get out.
Squirrels also stopped by 'UP' to take pictures with Carl and Ellie
Who can say if we shall ever see the Fox and Bunny Kiss?
Well all mammal wisdom is contained in these two words, 'Wait and Hope.'
-'Jack' Alexandre Dumas, The Savage Count of Monte Cristo
(Why that quote you ask my dear foolish friends whom I delight in tormenting with my Grinchy ways?
Because even if it takes 21 years to tunnel out of a prison and meet a bunch of pirates to hatch a conspiratorial plan to make it happen, I will get my way!
THE BUNNY AND FOX MUST KISS)