The Clueless Canidae Caper
Written by Cimar
Edited by BeecroftA
Artwork by StarWisherMidnight
Knock, knock, knock
"Judy, are you alright in there?"
"I'm..." *huuurk* "...fine, but thanks for asking."
"Uh, that didn't sound fine. Sounded more like last night's veggie loaf."
Nick winced. "And the carrot cake..." He looked at the door...the locked door to their bathroom. "Are you sure you're okay, darling?"
The sound of their toilet flushing reached his ears.
"I'm alright, Nick. Just get some breakfast ready while I take a short, warm shower. I think that will help more than anything."
"Alright, you're the boss!" the fox replied. Worry still tinged his words though as he walked towards the kitchen to prepare their normal breakfast. Then he heard the sound of the door he had just left his vigil over opening, and arched his head around to see Judy glancing out at him.
"Do you think you could add some raisins to my oatmeal?" she asked.
Nick smiled. "As you wish," came his reply. Judy rolled her eyes at the sappy response, as he had been quoting that singular line ever since they had watched the movie "The Princess Bride" nearly two weeks ago. Judy ducked back into the bathroom with a 'thank you' as she disappeared.
Again Nick shook his head. He didn't know what was going on with Judy, but her behavior had been different the past week or so since the heat wave had happened.
"Oh, Nick? Could you add some diced cucumbers to it as well?"
Nick didn't even get to turn around before the door once again shut, leaving him with one eyebrow raised. "Cucumbers...in oatmeal? With raisins?" He was left staring at the closed door, half wondering at the next addition to their normal breakfast would be. "What is happening to you, Carrots?" Nick asked no one but himself as he made his way to the kitchen, the sound of the shower in the bathroom turning on causing his ears to twitch in that direction.
He leaned against their kitchen counter, drumming his claws against the marble surface, the repetitive 'click, click, click, click' soothing his rampaging mind. His beautiful bunny had been increasingly moody the past few days, and the oddities of what she was ordering during their meal breaks was quickly ramping up. On Monday it had been fairly normal for her, asking if Nick could spare some of his shrimp from his curry for her veggie wrap while on lunch.
Tuesday had seen her ordering a side of curly fries with a cheddar biscuit, which in itself wasn't too odd...if it weren't for the horseradish she asked to have slathered all over both of them.
I still think that is somehow offensive to horses...Nick thought as he remembered how she had devoured the food, then looked at him, then at his plate of an untouched salad and cricket burger, then back to him.
"Are you going to eat that?" she had asked. Nick had nodded slowly, then grabbed the burger before sliding the salad towards his hungry wife.
She had devoured said salad before he'd even taken a bite.
Wednesday had seen a cucumber and spinach wrap, covered with ketchup and figs.
Thursday was a pumpkin soup with sliced radishes and pickle slices.
And today? Oatmeal with raisins and cucumbers...
"Am I being hustled?" Nick wondered idly as he stopped drumming his claws and began preparing the instant oatmeal. He scoffed lightly at the Qwacker Oats duck on the label; the white wool wig and tricorn hat always making him wonder who thought up that mascot for the brand. He tossed a pot onto the stove, filling it with milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and the oatmeal before letting it simmer for a while.
Then he got an idea. A wonderful idea. One that would ensure that by the end of the day, whatever hustle that Judy was pulling on him would be a secret no longer. A grin so large that it should have been declared its own zip code formed on his muzzle. Quickly making sure that the oatmeal wouldn't burn, as well as that the shower was still on, Nick dashed towards his and Judy's bedroom. Ducking under the bed, he brought out a large box and grinned.
"My dear Judy…" he said to himself as he flipped open the lid, "…You are in for an elementary lesson in hustling."
Judy hummed to herself as the fur dryer warmed her fur, body and mind. She had woken up and run to the bathroom, barely making it before hurling the remnants of the delicious dinner that both her and Nick had slaved over the night before. Well, more like made between bouts of flinging carrot cake batter at each other then licking and kissing it off. She smiled at the memories as the dryer turned off, leaving a rather fluffed up bunny.
She couldn't help but giggle at the sight of her fur sticking straight out as she attempted to smooth it down with her brush, though not after picking out a few stray red hairs from the device. A gurgling from her stomach halted her brushing mid-stroke down her right side.
I hope Nick has breakfast ready...she thought as she hurried through the rest of her brushing, then quickly donned her police uniform. Rubbing her badge for good luck and to give it that luster and shine she loved so much, she darted from the bathroom.
"Nick," she began. "I hope you have breakfast ready because I am starv – ing..."
Judy paused mid-step at the sight before her. She glanced around the kitchen and living room area, noticing the dimmed lights and rather obviously missing husband.
"Nick? Are you here?"
A brief flash of red and black fur caught her eye, and she saw Nick's paw waving her over from over the top of one of their loveseats in the living room. What was even more curious was that the TV was on, but instead of the news like their normal morning ritual proscribed, it showed a glowing hearth, a fire crackling merrily on the screen.
Judy rolled her eyes and groaned. "Nick, as much as I enjoy when you're romantic, right before work isn't the best time..."
As she rounded the seat, ready to give her husband a verbal tongue lashing, the oddest of sights greeted her. Nick was sitting crossed legged in their lounger, a pipe to his mouth as he stared at the fireplace on the screen. He wore a green and black striped cap, his ears splayed out to the side. Even though the temperatures were projected to be in the high 70's for the week, he was wearing a grey scarf and a heavy wool coat that matched the patterns of his hat.
"Nick, what are you wearing?" Judy asked, eyeing the red and black striped kerchief that jutted out slightly from under the scarf, and the velvety red silken vest beneath the jacket. "Bogo is going to give us parking duty over this, you know that right?"
Nick glanced at her, a grin on his muzzle as he set the pipe down next to him. "I would believe to the contrary, my dear Mrs. WildeHopps. The Chief will have been well acquainted with this askancing of the rules over the deducement that needs to take place forthwith."
Judy's jaw dropped slightly. "What?"
Nick smiled and held up a bowl of steaming oatmeal. "Breakfast is served, milady. Questions and answers will be revealed later after you have sustained the requisite nourishment that your adoring husband has proscribed."
Judy's shoulders dropped as she folded her arms across her chest, the look she was giving Nick growing more annoyed by the millisecond as her foot began to thump the carpet, creating a 'woomp woomp woomp' with each beat. "Nick, drop the act. And explain why you're dressed as Sherlock Hounds, and even more so how you even came across such an outfit without me knowing about it."
"Ah!" Nick said as he raised his paw, poking Judy's nose, making it twitch slightly. She batted the offending paw away as he continued. "Food first, riddles and questions later. And I can assure you that our dearest Chief will have no qualms with my attire today."
Judy glared at him a moment longer, before finally sighing and grabbing the bowl. "Fine. But you will be explaining yourself, Mister Wilde."
"Indubitably, my dearest Mrs. WildeHopps. In due time." Nick went back to leaning in the chair, giving off an air of contentment as he placed the pipe back into his lips and blew into it.
Judy's spoon dropped into her now empty bowl, though she wasn't sure if it was from how quickly she had consumed breakfast, or at the latest sight before her eyes.
"Nick, where on earth did you find a bubble pipe?"
The ride to the precinct had been a long one for Judy. Her expression was tired as she leaned forward, her arms hanging limp over her knees while Nick exuded an air of authority and dignity, leaning back into his seat while all the mammals on the train stared at him in wonder.
"Nick...you're causing a scene," Judy huffed.
"Nonsense," the fox decried. "The scene at which is being deduced is that I am simply dressed differently from said mammals, who share no familiarity with the..."
"Alright, enough Shakespaw," Judy groaned. "And you still haven't explained why you are wearing...this."
"Why, that is elementary my dear WildeHopps," Nick cackled with glee. "As there is a mystery apaw, and I intend to solve it through deduction."
Deciding to humor him, as he was clearly doing whatever he was doing to annoy her for some reason only he could understand, she replied, "And what would that mystery be?"
The sly grin Nick shot her caused a slight shiver to shoot down her spin. "Why you, of course."
Judy blinked. "Me?"
"Why yes, you," Nick replied calmly. "There has seemed to me to be a slight variation in how you have acted these prior days, and Nicholas P. Wilde will be finding out what those issues are. Now..." He leaned towards her, "I have noticed a slight modification in your dietary supplementation this prior week. And I would argue that such deviations are unnatural for a bunny such as yourself, no?"
"Uh..." Judy stammered nervously. "I haven't noticed anything different. I mean, it's not like anything isn't normal."
"And horseradish on a biscuit is, normal, to you, Officer WildeHopps?"
"Hey," a nearby male grizzly replied, who was chewing on a biscuit himself. "Don't knock it 'til you try it."
Nick's attention turned back to Judy. "So are you saying you're part bear now? Interesting..."
Judy groaned...this is going to be a long day...
A few hours into their shift at the precinct, things only became worse for Judy: Nick had begun to narrate.
"The fox watched the grey doe with a serious expression. He couldn't understand what were causing the symptoms of her malignment, but he was certain he'd find out. She was a wily one, a bunny that even a vixen couldn't claim to be an equal to in cunning and the art of distraction. As she turned those amethyst orbs towards the handsome tod, she spoke those magical words that Nicholas Wilde loved to hear..."
"'Yes', the fox exclaimed."
"Quiet or this cunning doe will have you for sparring practice for the rest of the shift."
Nick nodded, then grinned. "The tod understood the threat. Even the thickest of dolts knew and understand what the bunny dame could do in a New Yak minute. Just last week Nicholas had been on scene to-"
"Nicholas Piberius Wilde!" Judy shouted as she slammed her paws on the desk. "You are not helping!"
Nick sighed, his shoulder slumping. "Alright, Carrots," he mumbled before looking back at his computer screen. He had been correct in knowing that Bogo wouldn't have too much of an issue with his attire that morning, seeing as he had secretly called ahead and informed the Chief of Judy's illness and his wardrobe being an attempt to help her out. After a short chewing out, the buffalo had promised them desk duty so that Nick could observe his partner and wife, to make sure she was okay.
"Anything I can get for you darling?"
"That is the fifth time you've asked me that this morning, Nick," Judy groaned. Nick grew concerned when he heard her sniffling. "*Sniff*, why do you think something is wrong with me?"
"Uh..." he mumbled, suddenly sent off balance mentally by Judy's rapid change in mood. "Maybe because you're suddenly crying?"
"I'm not crying!" Judy shouted, tears streaming down her cheeks. Knowing that the glare she was shooting at him was inherently dangerous all by itself, he let the issue drop as he focused back on his computer.
Mood swings are becoming increasing frequent and increasing in magnitude...he typed onto a document on screen as Judy wiped at her eyes and nose, blowing loudly into a tissue. He paused his typing, enough to look over at his wife with concern before adding ...Seems to not be aware of her situation. Perhaps a call to Mrs. Hopps is in order...
Judy's singular word broke Nick's reverie. "Hmm?"
"Well," Judy continued. "Could you possibly stop by Wallaby's to get a Furosty and some fries for lunch?"
"Of course!" Nick rose from his seat, donning his cap that he had removed and placed atop his computer. "That is elementary my dear Mrs. WildeHopps. Now, is there anything else that you would wish for me to get you?"
Judy looked rather nervous as she began biting at the blunt claws on one of her paws. "Well...I...have a slight craving for peanut butter and..."
Nick rolled his paw several times in the air. "And..."
Judy finally looked at him, her sheepish smile lighting his heart with worry. "...pickles?"
Nick's paw fell still. "Peanut butter...and pickles..." he spoke dryly. Judy nodded. "Well," Nick began, bowing deeply and with a flourish of his paw, filling the air with laughter as Judy giggled at the overly dramatic gesture. "I would gladly get the moon and the stars for you if you so ask. I'd give you my heart, but you've had it since we've met."
Judy placed a paw over her heart, sniffling already started as she wiped her eyes with the other paw. With a swish of his tail, and a light kiss placed between Judy's ears, Nick left the room and quickly jogged down to the one mammal he felt would be able to help him.
The chubby cheetah froze, a half eaten donut falling from his mouth as he stared at the empty area in front of his desk. He jumped back as a green and red blur hopped onto his desk.
"Clawhauser, my good mammal," Nick began as he brought a pipe out of his pocket and placed it in his mouth. "I have a quandary that I am in need of assistance of."
Clawhauser let out a long gasp. "The great Sherlock Hounds is asking me to help him on a case! Awwwwww!"
Nick frowned. "Clawhauser..."
"I can't believe that Sherlock Hounds is here!"
"...I mean, I have to tell Bogo that the greatest..."
"...detective in the entire world is at..."
"...my desk and needs my help with a..."
The cheetah stopped rambling as he looked at the fox, who took off the hat and glared at him in annoyance. "As much as I enjoy being compared to a great literary hero, it's me, Nick."
The feline deflated. "Why didn't you just tell me that, haha. I mean, you do make for a really good Sherlock Hounds though."
"Thank you," Nick replied. "Now, about the help that I need..."
"Oh, yes, yes, yes...that, right! What's going on?"
Nick took a deep breath in. "I need you to research something odd that Judy ordered for our lunch break. Can you do that for me?"
Clawhauser nodded and brought out his phone, typing away at it already. Nick sighed.
"Without telling Judy?"
Clawhauser stopped typing immediately..."Oh...okay." His bright smile came back nearly instantly as his tail swished behind him. "So, what is that cute little bunny wanting today?"
Nick ignored the comment, as both Judy and he had learned that there was no getting Clawhauser to stop using that word. "Peanut butter and pickles..."
Nick was left to wonder if time stopped, as everything about Clawhauser froze at that moment. After several seconds passed, Nick knocked on Clawhauser's forehead. "Uh, you there big guy?" It took only three knocks for the portly cheetah to tip backwards, his chair sliding away from him as he dropped to the floor like a brick, a look of complete and utter contentment on his face.
"That could have gone better..." Nick grumbled.
Nick froze, his fur standing on end as he turned around, facing an irate Bogo stomping towards him. "What have you done to our receptionist this time?"
"Nothing!" Nick stated, pointing at the passed out feline. "All I asked him was if it was normal that Judy was wanting peanut butter and pickles for lunch today."
Bogo paused, his hoof already pointing at the fox and a glare set on his face. His hoof dropped as he gave Nick an incredulous look. "Officer Wilde...?" he stated in a creepily smooth voice.
"Uh, yes, Chief?"
"Are you really that dense?"
"My sarcasm can be at times," the fox replied.
Bogo snorted. "If you can't figure that out by yourself, then you really are a dumb fox." Bogo reached over and banged his hoof against the reception desk, startling the cheetah back awake. Then he gave Nick the hardest glare he could. "Now Officer Wilde, from yours and Hopps' record, I would assume you would be smart enough to put the pieces together on your own..."
"Thank you for your faith in me, Chief. I always-"
"However," Bogo interrupted. "I have also learned to never underestimate you. In this case, however, if you are looking for answers, then there is only one mammal you should be asking to find the answers you're seeking."
Nick stood there flummoxed as Bogo turned and stomped off, glaring at nearby officers who scattered back to doing their tasks. Nick raised his arms before dropping them at his side. Guess I'll just have to ask Bonnie then...
Bonnie didn't help him either, basically telling him the same thing as Bogo, and Nick was getting annoyed at the mysticism surrounding Judy's sudden cravings. The rest of the day went by in relative silence, partly as Nick feared doing anything around Judy as she had become quite agitated with him in how long it had taken to get her a cricket burger and tacos made from lettuce, mayonnaise and ice cream.
Nick had learned quickly it was a bad idea to let her know that wasn't what she had ordered, and had swiftly fled their office, a Furosty flying just above his head as he ducked while speeding out of the room, an angry bunny hot on his heels.
The train ride home had been just as quiet, with Nick unsure of what to do anymore. It wasn't until he was home with the door shut that he went to speak.
"Judy...oof!" Nick was pushed back into the door as Judy glomped onto him, tearing up into his chest.
"I'm sorry about today, Nick!" she wailed, sniffling loudly. "I know you've been trying to be so good to me, and I've been such a...a..."
"An emotional bunny?" Nick provided. "Ow!" He rubbed his shoulder where she had hit him. Nick sighed heavily as he rubbed her back gently, calming the rabbit doe down until her sobs were reduced to quiet mewlings, and then to silence as he massaged her.
Nick broke the reverent silence between them. "Judy, I'm worried about you. I don't know why you're having these cravings and mood swings like you've been having for a week. I thought that I could maybe figure it out by myself, but..." Nick removed the cap and jacket, looking forlornly at them. "Can I ask you a question?"
Judy nodded tepidly, her eyes brightening as a happy smile came to her muzzle. "Of course you can, Nick."
The fox nodded, took in a deep breath. "Are you..."
Judy could barely contain her excitement as her ears shot up. She would finally be able to tell him what the good news was. She had been holding it in for hours after calling her mother while he was getting lunch. The older doe knew exactly what was happening, and what Judy had been thinking was indeed the answer. Now, she would no longer have to keep him waiting. She could finally tell Nick that she was...
"...going to see a doctor tomorrow so we can know what is happening?" the fox finished, a hopeful smile on his face.
Judy's ears wilted and smile faltered just a smidge before turning into a deep frown. "Nick, really? That's your question?"
The fox nodded. "Absolutely. I want to know what is wrong with you that is causing this errant behavior in my favorite bunny."
Judy glared at him, then after a sufficiently long time of making him nervously fidget, his tail swishing behind him, she sighed. "I'll go see a doctor tomorrow then."
"Good," Nick exclaimed, letting out a held breath of air. "Now, how about I cook up something for us. Maybe practice for the bake sale coming up in a few days, hmm?"
Judy moved to the side as Nick swept past her towards the kitchen, then, slowly, painfully, started thumping her head against the wall, muttering low enough that only she could hear herself say the same phrase over and over again.
AN: Hmm...anyone guess what might be happening to Judy to cause these symptoms, that are favorite casual clueless canine can't construe through considerable case studies and categorical evidence?