Hey all, DLW here with the Memorial Day fic that I promised. Disclaimer: Zootopia and its characters are copyright, Disney. (I own none of the characters in the story aside from the O/C's.).
A huge thank you goes out to JKnight97 for editing the final copy of the chapter and his overall inspiration to the story, and TheWinterBunny for the art that was commissioned and inspired me.
Special thank you goes to: Sergeant Sargent II, Senestran, Spinster 4 hire, Starwisher Midnight, Froststudios45, and Drummer Max for allowing me to either use their characters or sharing a story in honour of Memorial Day.
And JKnight97 has a few words for you all:
To the men and women who serve and protect their country, not just the members of the Armed Forces, but the members of the Police, Fire and First Responders organizations as well. We salute your bravery, courage and for risking your lives every day to make ours safer.
A still, silent breath left the bunny as she craned her head towards the sky. The bright glimmer of afternoon sun shone magnificently and morosely upon the iron gate she had been staring at silently for the past minute or so.
Barely blinking at the lettering and trying her best not to move forward out of both fear of the unknown and a heavy heart, Judy sighed yet again. Why here? she wondered, idly playing with the tip of her ear that fell to her shoulder.
They hadn't stood up in days, much like how she felt: down, and not finding their strength for any real reason.
It even showed in her work ethic, which was usually above and beyond. But now - from the slower response times to the pile of paperwork that seemed to be only gaining height and dust by the second - she was on the decline. For the doe was tired, and her life had been changed in an instant.
Her eyelids felt heavy as she trailed over the letters again, and again. She couldn't tell how many times she had mentally mulled over the iron sign reading "Meadowlands Memorial Park - South Gate", but with every letter, she felt the weight of it press down on her badge, and in her heart.
Footpads feeling like concrete on the pathway that welcomed her, Judy couldn't fathom the idea of moving forward, but she surely couldn't turn back. Having taken a Zuber to get here (that had already left for another destination) and being told to come here on her day off, she didn't know what to truly do.
So she idly picked at a loose piece of fabric on her dress blues; she thought it appropriate to wear them here. Though, it bothered her to no end that there were frayed spots despite how tidy she was. And truthfully she needed the distraction more than anything else, so she was at least satisfied with trying (and failing) to get that one little string to cooperate.
While busying herself in picking at the wretched fabric, her ears picked up heavy footfalls; though they themselves never rose from her shoulders.
"Hopps." called a gruff voice, as deep as it was commanding. In a matter of seconds, her small form was enveloped in deep shade.
Immediately, Judy stopped herself from her distracted task and looked up into the stern visage of her superior. She gave a hasty (albeit messy) salute.
"Chief!" She snapped to attention, voice squeaking and feeling her paw quiver at her forehead. Judy knew that the moment may come where she was told everything that she feared, but didn't want it to be this soon.
Her heart skipped a few beats and she had to swallow from the dry spots forming in her throat. Whatever the outcome may be for her in the situation, she hoped it would be over quickly.
However, upon seeing Bogo calmly stare at her - completely different from his general stonecold, dismissive demeanor - she didn't know what exactly to think.
For one, he wasn't in uniform... well, not the uniform that she had seen him in on duty. In the midday sun, she could clearly see the deep shade of black on his shirt and dark blue of his pants. It was a uniform that completely contrasted his dress blues he had worn for so long.
His police badge was now accompanied by smaller badges, pins, and medals of varying degrees; many of which she had never seen. And most peculiar was a logo with the Animalia flag on either shoulder.
This was an outfit that she had known very well: a military uniform.
Frozen in place and raising a brow, she watched as Bogo sighed and gave her a salute that didn't fail in its precision.
"At ease, Judy." he said, surprisingly informally.
Only nodding and lowering her paw, she felt as though something was missing. Did... did the chief serve? she wondered, but never got a chance to ask then as he spoke before her, "You're not on duty, but you're here for a good reason."
His form and stature remained unchanged as he addressed her. It wasn't until he ended his salute and lowered his hoof that he relaxed his posture; it put Judy's current form of welcome to shame.
Taking a deep breath, the doe closed her eyes and looked anywhere but at him. "I know." she deadpanned, feeling a bitter chill course down her spine as she stood in his looming shadow.
It was an odd feeling for her. This... sense of brokenness. She didn't need to fear the chief for any reason, but she knew that she had let him down; let them down.
"Do you?" Was his sharp reply.
She flinched a little at his words and - though only two - tensed at their implication like she was to enter a thicket of thorns.
Taking a moment to nod without looking at him, Judy hugged herself, her paws clasping at her shoulders. Had it not been for a single tear that obscured her vision, she would have tried to look up.
Bogo looked down at her, folded his arms behind him and nodded. "Then you understand why I asked you to come here today. Correct?"
A beat of silence before she nodded. "Memorial Day, sir." Her voice trailing off, she recalled many instances of the stories of the day. There were countless stories that Pop-pop told her about the times in his day: the heroism, the strife, the glories and sorrows. But she never once thought she'd be here to experience them.
The buffalo grunted, "And?"
She didn't know when, but her short claws had begun to make small holes in the sleeve of her uniform. "Because I-" she choked. "b-because... he-"
Wrenching her eyes shut, every synapse in her mind fired off; the scene playing over and over in her head. If I could've just-
Her eyes shot open the moment she heard her name being called from the familiar voice. With a single tear streaming down her cheek, she looked around the towering buffalo and saw a blue clad orange furred figure carefully pad his way over.
She wiped her eyes with the back of her sleeve. "Nick?" she questioned, completely stunned by his appearance at the park. "Wha...what are you doing here?"
The fox wordlessly walked over, his tail gently brushing against the ground. Much like Judy his work ethic had changed over the past few days, and his fur looked a bit disheveled.
Surprisingly in his uniform and displaying his badge neatly, the fox walked beside her and offered a weak smile. She could tell by the way his eyes drooped that he either hadn't slept much or was tired from the shift; it could've been both.
Nodding back to him, she curiously raised a brow at the stalwart buffalo. He sighed and pointed at her.
"Though I only told you to come here, Offi-" Stopping midway to look over his other subordinate, Bogo flicked his hoof in the fox's direction. "Nick insisted that he join as well." he added, fully aware that they were technically off duty and wanted to relax as much as he could given the place they were.
Judy's glossy eyes trailed over her partner who stood by her side. She was glad to have him still with her after all of this happened; and, for a time, she was sure that he would have left the ZPD.
The two small officers reunited, Chief Bogo repeated himself. "Again, Judy. Do you know why you're here?"
Judy was afraid that this would come: the blame, the regret, all of it all over again.
Deeply, she drew in a breath of warm, spring air and tried to form her words appropriately.
"Because we..." Was it because of them? she asked herself, drawing her eyes away from Nick's form entirely. She couldn't bear to have him to blame for her mistakes. "I-i didn't-"
Unexpectedly, she felt the ground under her tremble slightly; the shadow looming over her shrank to a mere sliver of itself. She looked up to see that Bogo had knelt to be closer to her height, his eyes filled with concern that he didn't often show.
"That wasn't your fault, Judy." he stated, voice calm and soothing despite his gruff undertone.
She felt her throat seize as he said that. How could he not blame her?
Immediately, her arms unclasped themselves as she began to gesticulate. "But I froze!" she said with a wave of her paw, nearly hitting her partner in the process. "I was supposed to act! I-i could've-"
Before she got another word in, a heavy weight fell upon her shoulders. It took a moment for her to realize that the chief had placed his hoof there.
His deep, honey-brown eyes gave her only the slightest feeling of comfort amidst the turmoil she was experiencing. "You did the best that you could in the situation, Hopps." he soothed, looking at Nick as well. "You both did."
Her paw twitching involuntarily, she tried to speak up. "But I-"
Not hearing it, Bogo took his hoof from her shoulder and waved it dismissively in front of her. "And," She fell silent. "Had you gone any further, I would have likely had to have buried two or three officers."
Nervously, she craned her towards Nick. She could see the fox's tail jerk in one direction before it stopped moving altogether.
The sting of his words continued as he rose. "It's unwise for you or anyone to attempt to stop a moving vehicle in just your dress blues, Judy."
"Hopps, listen," Her protest fell with the point of the chief's hoof. "I brought you, both of you, out here today to gain a better perspective."
While the doe tried to find her voice, her fox spoke up. "Perspective, sir?" Nick had been curious as well as to exactly what Bogo wanted him out here for. Not that he didn't already know or pretend not to know, but he questioned why he had reservations about coming here.
Since Judy was off that day with him working only the first part of the early shift to finish paperwork, the chief had allowed him to take the rest of the day to assist his partner; he couldn't say no.
Bogo nodded and waved his hoof at them. "About your service," He then turned, walking through the gate as if he were ushering them to the world that they never knew; he didn't look back. "And about theirs."
Theirs? Judy wondered, watching the buffalo walk down the pathway. Did he mean-
Her eyes trailed over the large park. She had never been there before, but she could only assume who 'they' were to some degree. Her head hung low as one of them was there now because of her hesitation.
She was about to wrap her arms around herself again, but a warmth encompassed her; as familiar as it was inviting. A soft curtain of reddish-orange had found its way around her smaller form, Nick had her in his arms.
Stunned at his display, Judy shook lightly. His emerald green eyes seemed duller than usual, and his arms felt slightly heavier than just a few days ago.
Quietly she whispered a 'thank you' for both his presence and comfort that it brought. Yet a bellowing "Come along," from the chief made her act accordingly.
Sighing deeply and shuffling her steps as slowly as her rabbit feet would allow, Judy made her way inside. She mulled and mused over what she'd see and experience when she realized that Nick was doing the same: scraping his foot-claws on the ground and his posture anything but straight.
He was exhausted, she could tell.
As the two followed their superior down the path that lead into the main park, the doe couldn't help but take in the scenery. None of it was like anything she expected from a memorial park, but that was something that had always surprised her about Zootopia: the sheer amount of care and concern for detail the city planners had.
The path was lined with shrubbery of all kinds and every now and again there was a well-maintained bench or two. And from the foliage, growing up in a family where plant husbandry was their thing, she was impressed. They were meticulously trimmed and vibrantly green. Not a single branch stuck out or was seen without a keen eye.
Just ahead of them stood a flagpole on a slightly elevated hill covered in numerous flowers. And being just past noon, its flag (bearing Animalia's logo) was still at half mast. It was Memorial Day, after all.
It wasn't until she looked up that Judy realized that the chief had stopped just ahead of them. His hoof was at brow level, giving a curt salute to three other mammals that stood just in front of him: a timber wolf, a pig, and a polar bear.
Though they were a short distance away and in uniforms that bore a resemblance to Bogo's, Judy immediately recognized them all. Needless to say, she was shocked.
"M-mayor Luproc?" she began, addressing the wolf with a book in one paw. He had become the acting mayor since Dawn's scandal had come to an end. The wolf had since made significant changes to the city, and tried to promote unity for all species equally. A feat that wasn't perfectly achievable, but the mammal beside him made it a bit easier.
It was the pig that stood by his side in the election. "Assistant Mayor Swinton?" Judy could have never guessed that the pig was in any form of service outlet, it seemed so surreal. Yet there she stood by the wolf with a smile and slightly different colours from the rest of them; her sleeves in a white trim and bearing a gleaming hat with a winged symbol.
As surprised as she was to see the two, the third mammal she had only surmised had served in some way. "Major Friedkin?" she added, looking deep into the eyes of her former drill instructor. The bear's uniform had anchors on the sleeves and one of the badges she wore had the symbol of a seal on it. She had often wondered about Friedkin, and why she was called the 'Ursa Major' from time to time. So it was not a big step for her to see the bear here.
As she and Nick now stood in front of them they all smiled and saluted them; the rookie cops returned the gesture.
"At ease." instructed their chief.
In doing so, the duo cops got a good look at them all: servants of the city on multiple occasions, and having served in the field as well.
Judy swallowed, "You all served?"
There were raised brows all around, but Friedkin was the first to roll her eyes. "Yes, Hopps. We all served."
Hearing the cities finest acknowledge their involvement in going above and beyond the call, Judy's heart rose a little.
"You caught us at a good time too," The bear went on and waved a paw at the wolf who stared daggers at her. "We were just sharin' some old stories about 'Luprick' over here."
The lupine mayor heaved a heavy sigh while his assistant chuckled at him. "I've told you not to call me-"
Friedkin ignored him. "When we were still in training, this joker tried to hotwire the sarge's car and take us to a bar." She gesticulated, waving her paws to both the wolf and the buffalo as if they'd been friends since time began.
Judy heard a deep toned laugh and didn't recognize it at first. But when she looked up, it was Bogo. He pointed at the tired timber wolf who had his ears pinned to his head. "The fool fried himself and then had to do laps for an hour. All of us had to join him and one of us kept saying that if she caught up to him he was dead."
How could they laugh at a time like this? Judy thought, wondering what was going on. Don't they know that-
Swinton, having scoffed at the short story, finally chimed in. "You're telling me. He almost got me kicked off the base on a bet with a low-flying biplane!"
Her scowl towards him made him shuffle a few steps back and shrug nonchalantly. "Y'know... If you need help the next time you flub a mission and need rescue, you're gonna have to get another 'big bad wolf'." he shot back.
"Your aim was bad enough..." The sow flicked her left ear to show a small hole near its base. A clear indication of some wound long since made.
Luproc huffed, "That was one time!"
Shaking her head at the exchange, Swinton nodded towards Judy and Nick. "Anyways," She shot a glare at the wolf "I'm off to see the grave and pay our respects." She gave a small wave and walked off onto the path before she called out, "Chao, mutt. Have fun with the 'Shout A Lot' couple."
Taken aback by her unusual tone and demeanor, Judy glanced over to what she thought was the aforementioned couple: Bogo and Friedkin. They coughed into their respective appendages and looked away from one another.
Judy's mouth hung a little low when she saw this spectacle, and Nick went into a coughing fit.
While her superiors composed themselves, the wolf mayor simply sighed and started to walk off to the park entrance. "I'll leave you two alone then," he stated, smiling at the book in his paws, his tail wagging slightly.
Curious, Judy inquired, "Where are you going?"
The mayor stopped and looked at her, his icy blue eyes trailing between the two partners. "Me? Since I don't want to be near that every year," he gestured with a smile, shifting from the buddy cops to the grimacing buffalo and bear. "I usually take some time to read with the rest of my squad."
His squad? Judy mused, seeing nobody else around but them.
The canid's paw brushed over the little book with reverence, he held it up for them to see. "Yeah, it was something me and my squad did when we were on tours: pick a book and read it now and then." His beaming smile broke a little; his lip curled downward. "We, uh... we each took a few bookmarks and placed it on the last page we all read whenever one of us was gone."
Just then he showed the top of the book, revealing several tags placed within. Judy's heart fell, and Nick's eyes tore away.
The air around them stagnant, the wolf sniffled a little. "I've never finished the book, but it's always good to see my old pack again."
Tucking the book under his arm and looking around, the mayor smiled at a little bench just a bit away. "I'll catch yall later," he said with a bit of enthusiasm in his tone before he walked off.
The two partners stood in sheer awe at their mayor and his ways. Though they hadn't known him in person for long, they were glad that he at least tried and was as sentimental as he had shown during his time in the city council.
Before either could speak to one another, their names "Wilde, Hopps," came from their instructors. Which one said it, or if it was both, was completely oblivious to them.
"Chief? Major?" They replied in unison, snapping to attention.
The buffalo and bear sighed and nodded towards one another, the two cops were still learning.
Bogo lifted a hoof and pointed down the trail that Swinton had gone earlier. "Follow her," he said sternly. "She'll show you around."
The bunny gazed down the long stretch of the pathway and clearly recalled the pig's words: grave and respects.
Now feeling the heaviness catch up to her from being here, the doe swallowed as she knew she couldn't refuse. And not wanting to keep the chief waiting, Judy nodded and began to pad her way there.
So it was upon her first footstep that sudden brush of fur swept at her side. Nick matched his pace to hers on the long journey, and she was glad to have it that way.
For Judy couldn't fathom the site of a grave that she felt responsible for alone.
Hey all, I hope you're enjoying the story so far.
This is something I wanted to do for a while in honour of the family and friends that I know are serving in various sections of the armed forces. They're very close to me and I'm happy to support them in any way that I can because the unexpected can happen at any moment to any of 's great is that a few authors and artists shared some insight with me about things that I had never
What's great about this fic is that a few authors and artists shared some insight with me about things that I had never known or stories that I'd never heard of.
That being said, there are three more chapters and I hope to leave behind a little something for all of you ^_^
Take time to thank someone that served and honour those that stood in to serve in your place. I've got a few calls to make soon.
This story can be seen here as well:
Happy Memorial Day