Chapter 1: Honeymoon
I'll never forget the night a lone fox wandered into the Olvido Bay Hotel bar. We never saw many there, and they were always really twitchy. But not this guy. He casually glanced around the empty bar as he walked towards me, calm and collected while he gave the place a quick once-over. Which wasn't difficult, since it's just your typical small open air establishment next to the hotel's outdoor pool.
He sat at the end of the bar and ordered a Mai Tai. And then he started fiddling with the wedding band on his left paw while he waited for me to make his drink, so I knew something was eating at him. I figured it probably had to do with the rabbit I saw him arguing with earlier. I've tended bar for awhile, and it's my duty to play therapist sometimes. At least that's what I tell myself, so I don't feel bad when I dig into the private lives of patrons.
Sal placed the drink on a coaster in front of the fox and nodded at his paw. "Who's the lucky lady?"
The fox smiled and plucked the umbrella out of his drink. "Her name's Judy."
"Mine's Sal, by the way."
He reached out and shook Sal's paw. "Nick. Nick Wilde."
I could tell he wanted to talk, and yet he didn't. Got quite a few like that in the bar, actually. You'd be surprised how stressful vacations can be, when you're stuck somewhere having fun with the mammals you love.
Sal asked, "You two have your first fight?"
Nick laughed and exhaled, like he'd been holding his breath. "Yeah, at least the first one as a married couple. We're on our honeymoon."
"Congrats. On the marriage, not the fighting. Wanna talk about it?"
"Thanks." Sal waited for him to say more, but instead Nick asked, "You married?"
Sal laughed. "Oh hell no."
Nick's tone had an unexpected edge when he replied, "Then what does an old bachelor beaver know about relationships?"
That did it. We muskrats hate when mammals mistake us for beavers.
Sal blurted out, "I'm no rodent, fox. You can come back here and take a look at my tail, if you don't believe-"
Nick chuckled, a sly smirk on his face as he interrupted Sal. "I'll pass." He took a long sip of his drink.
Damn, he was just messing with me, the sly devil. Then he told me he knew I wasn't a beaver, because he saw me earlier when he was arguing with Judy.
I pretended to grumble and wipe down the bar, but I had to admit it was a clever way to shift the conversation. Still, I never was one to give up easily.
After a moment Sal asked, "What was the fight about?"
Nick sighed. "Nothing really… it was just dumb, to be honest."
Sal nodded sagely and continued cleaning, until he finally gave up waiting for Nick to say more and asked, "So, how did a fox and a rabbit get together?" Nick raised an eyebrow, and Sal added, "I'll comp you a second drink if you tell me."
Nick rolled his eyes. "Fine. Something a tad less fruity this time, please."
Nobody can resist a free drink.
Nick wasn't looking forward to the annual ZPD holiday party. He'd been working there long enough to learn what happened when you mixed his fellow officers with alcohol. Besides, he didn't have a date, a fact which he'd tried to use as an excuse while talking to Clawhauser.
"Don't worry Nick, I can set you up."
Nick wasn't sure he'd heard the cheetah right. "I'm sorry?"
"With a date. I can set you up with a blind date."
Before the tod could come up with a snarky reply, Judy bounced through the front door of ZPD headquarters. "Hey Nick, hey Clawhauser!"
The cheetah replied, "Hey Judy! Still coming to the party?"
"You bet! I can't wait," she said enthusiastically over her shoulder as she hurried towards the bullpen.
Clawhauser grinned. "See, even Judy is going."
Nick told himself he'd only accepted the cheetah's offer so he could keep an eye on his cute bunny partner going to her first ZPD party. He texted Clawhauser that he was on his way, before he put on a black turtleneck sweater and his cleanest slacks. Nick showed up fashionably late, but when he stepped through the door of Clawhauser's apartment, he realized he'd left his phone on the counter at home. Now if things went south, he'd have to think of something besides pretending his Aunt Gertie was calling from her deathbed if he needed to escape.
He paused in front of the open hallway closet and tried to figure out how he'd hang his jacket, since he couldn't reach any of the hangers. He moved to catch the attention of a taller mammal when he saw a familiar pair of long gray ears swivel in his direction. Judy walked over and he couldn't help but notice the form fitting teal dress she had on, unlike anything he'd seen her wear before.
He finally tore his gaze away from her outfit when she said, "Hey Nick. Clawhauser just told me my date's supposed to be here any minute." He noticed she ever so subtly bounced up and down as she spoke.
Slow realization dawned on Nick. "Wait… he set you up on a blind date too?"
He looked down the hallway towards the living room, where several single officers were mingling together. Then he realized how they were all paired off and laughed. "Why that sly cheetah…" He subtly pointed with his muzzle and Judy glanced over her shoulder. "Wolfard is hanging out with that gal from accounting, and Delgato is hanging out with that lioness from narcotics… what's her name-"
Judy gave him a puzzled look. "So?"
"Don't you get it, Carrots? I don't see a single mammal here who doesn't work at the ZPD. Clawhauser set us up with each other." Nick sighed and shook his head. "I knew this was a terrible idea-"
Judy was about to reply when an inebriated polar bear stumbled down the hallway towards them. He staggered closer, nearly stepping on Nick and Judy, who both dived out of his way and into the closet. The bear leaned on the open door, which slammed shut before he collapsed in a heap against it.
In the now suddenly dark closet, Judy made an irritated noise. "I can't reach the doorknob."
"I could give you a boost so you can reach it."
"I don't want you to look up my dress!"
"Oh come on, Fluff. It's dark in here."
"I know you can see in the dark!"
"I promise I won't look. Scouts honor. In fact, I'll just kneel and you can climb up on my shoulders." He crouched down and faced the door. "Ok, ready."
Judy crawled up on his back and turned the knob, but even both of them pushing together couldn't make the door budge an inch.
Nick said, "It sounded like Grizzoli fell down out there after he nearly stomped on us."
Judy put her ear against the door and sighed. "Yeah, I can hear him snoring."
The music got louder, so loud that the door actually vibrated from the crashing beat. Judy hopped down and Nick pounded on the door. "Hey, let us out of here!"
"There's no way they can hear us, Nick." Judy's voice rose angrily. "I swear, when I get out of here…"
Nick said, "I forgot my phone, Fluff. Maybe try calling someone?"
"I didn't feel like bringing a purse, and there's nowhere to keep a phone in this dress."
Nick replied, "I'm afraid to ask where your keys are then."
Judy giggled and Nick couldn't help but chuckle too. There was an awkward silence before he said, "You know, you look really nice tonight, Judy."
He could practically hear the blush in her voice. "Thanks. You look pretty sharp too, Slick." They both fidgeted nervously for a few moments before she spoke again. "I don't feel so good. Whatever was in that drink Clawhauser gave me earlier doesn't seem to be agreeing with me."
Nick sniffed around for a moment, before he pulled Judy closer to one of the articles of clothing hanging in the closet. "Well if you're gonna hurl, make sure you don't miss Clawhauser's jacket."
Sal leaned on the bar as Nick finished his story. "We just sat there in the dark all evening talking, until someone finally opened the closet. Since we were both leaning on the door, we spilled out on the ground in front of everyone, which of course made things even more embarrassing. Luckily I was able to convince Judy to go home instead of tearing into everyone right then and there."
Nick finished his drink. "The hilarious thing is, we'd both somehow managed to let it slip to Clawhauser that we were attracted to each other, so bless his donut loving heart he decided to help things along in his own bumbling way. It wasn't until the next week that I told her about my feelings." He looked morosely at the empty glass in his paws and added, "Of course if you ask Judy, she'll say she was the one who confessed her feelings for me first."
Nick stood and tossed a few bills on the bar. "Thanks, Sal. Keep the change. We've both had enough time to cool off, so I better go apologize to her and try to salvage the rest of this vacation."
Sal simply nodded and said, "Good luck."
Yep, Nick Wilde always had a story to tell, but if there's one thing I learned over the years: when it comes to his stories, it's never easy separating the lies from the truth.