WingedKatt here. Here's the song being played during the Ugly Bug Ball: 'The Ugly Bug Ball' sung by Burl Ives in Disney's movie 'Summer Magic,' 'The Spectrum Song' by Paul Frees, 'One Last Hope' from Hercules, the Hercules/Moana mashup, 'How Far I'll Go the Distance' as sung by Scott and Ryceejo on their YouTube channel, 'We Know the Way' from Moana, 'Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride' from Lilo & Stitch, 'In Summer' and 'Let it Go' from Frozen, and 'Some Things Never Change' from Frozen II, 'Touch the Sky' and 'Into the Open Air' from Brave, 'Colors of the Wind' from Pocahontas, 'When Can I See You Again?' and 'Fireflies' by Owl City, 'Walk Through Life' by Pinkzebra, and 'That's When I Love You' by Highway Bros.

As Nick made his way across the lawn and around the large gathering of small bunnies sitting on the grass, along with the adults sitting among them or standing behind them, he waved to them as he made his way to the stage, where Cotton and Sable were practically vibrating in their excitement for him to reach them. Nick grinned at them, showing the tips of his front canines, even as he noticed another young bunny doe standing behind them. She was a white bunny with light blue-gray eyes and pale gray ears, muzzle, and paws, and Nick wondered who she was (besides being one of the twins' cousins).

Watching their Uncle Nick walking towards them, Cotton and Sable were struggling to remain standing in one place. Although they hadn't known the fox long, he had made such a huge impression on them that they already saw him as the important male figure in their life, to take the roll of the father they'd lost three years ago.

Like their own father, Uncle Nick listened to them and spoke to them as an equal, while indulging their wild imagination. But more than that, he gave them guidance and cared enough to tell them what they were doing wrong, and expressed his faith in them that they could and would do the right thing. It had been a long time since anyone had done that for them. Mostly people just got mad or irritated with them, making them feel like they were doing something wrong just by existing.

But not Uncle Nick. He wanted to spend time with them and didn't find their antics annoying or irritating. And now they got to sing on stage with him! No one ever gave them such a big and important roll like this before. And now that Uncle Nick had arrived, they could get started! Not waiting for him to reach them, Cotton and Sable launched themselves off the stage.

Nick half expected the twins to do something like this, so he was prepared as the girls vaulted towards him. Catching them in his arms, he rubbed his cheeks against theirs briefly in greeting, saying, "Well, hello to you two, too." He was feeling really warm and fuzzy inside at the girls' love and affection, and Nick knew this was one of the things that had been missing in his life. Realizing this, Nick was even more determined to adopt the girls than he was before.

"Hello, Uncle Nick," the twins replied back while rubbing their soft, black and white cheeks against his. It had been a long time since they had missed anyone so much, but they were glad to be with their Uncle Nick again. Being with him just made everything better.

Once the greetings were over, Nick helped them climb up on his shoulders and get comfortable before he turned his attention to the white and pale-gray bunny who had been standing behind the twins. Leaning over and resting his paws on his knees, with his tail swishing gently behind him, Nick asked, "So who do we have here?"

"This is our cousin Brittany," Cotton said, followed by Sable saying, "She wants to ask you a question."

Cocking his head, Nick asked, "So what question do you have for me?"

Brittany was standing there nibbling on her lip as she fought with her instincts to run from the large predator, but seeing Cotton and Sable sitting on his shoulders so nonchalantly, as if they belonged there, gave her the courage to ask her question. Squaring her shoulders, Brittany looked the fox square in the eyes (his deep green eyes were surprisingly bright and full of warmth), and asked, "Can…can I sing on stage with…with you and the twins?" Biting her lip again, she waited for the fox's answer.

Nick studied the small bunny whose instincts were obviously telling her to run (her nose was twitching furiously and she was clutching her paws together), but she was stubbornly ignoring them and even forced herself to meet his predatory gaze.

"Well, you have guts, I'll give you that," he murmured to her. As her eyes brightened in hope, Nick reached over and lightly rubbed her head (though he was careful not to touch her with his claws), and said, "Since you're such a brave little bunny, how would you like to play Merida from the Brave movie when we sing 'Touch the Sky'?"

With a clap of her paws, Brittany cried, "Yes! I love that song!" The movie itself was a little too scary for her, what with the huge, cursed bear that was trying to kill everyone, but she loved the music from the movie.

Smiling brightly, Nick gave her a nod. "So, let's get this party started."

Cotton and Sable threw their arms up in the air and cried, "Party time!" All the little bunnies sitting on the lawn behind them all clamored excitedly for the party to start, too.

Standing up, Nick walked further up on stage while waving to his fellow band members. As he reached the center stage, he pulled his guitar around from his back so he was holding it while spinning around to face his audience. Looking out over the little buns dressed in their bug costumes, Nick waved to them saying, "To kick off this Ugly Bug Ball, let's hear it from our lovely ugly bugs out there in the audience!"

All the little bunnies in the kerfluffle jumped up and started waving their little paws around, with quite a few hopping up and down. With a smile at their excited response, Nick asked, "How many caterpillars do we have out here?" As several of the young bunnies raised their paws, he then asked, "And how many beetles do we have?" There weren't any paws raised until Nick pointed out that ladybugs were a type of friendly, little beetle (Nick had to catch himself from calling them cute). Quite a few paws went up, including Sables, after he pointed out this fact.

Next, Nick asked how many spiders and dragonflies were here. Several other bunnies, all bucks wearing black costumes, raised their paws excitedly. The spider costumes had the extra 'legs' strung together and attached to the top arm (or spider leg), which was the bunny's own paw, so every time the bunny buck lifted an arm, the other 'legs' were raised, too. There were only a couple of dragonflies, two green ones, and a blue one.

Since the song started out with a conversation between a caterpillar, a beetle, a dragonfly, and a spider, Nick pulled three of the kits out of the audience who were wearing the respective costumes to come sit on the edge of the stage. He then went through and welcomed the few worms in the audience. Since worms were beneficial to crops and this was a farming family, there were several kits dressed up as worms (it helped that worms burrowed through the dirt like rabbits). He then welcomed the butterflies and bumble bees, with even a couple of bucks dressed up as ants.

With the introductions made, Nick walked behind his spider and caterpillar and strummed his guitar. With a wide grin and swish of his bushy tail, he sang, "Once a lonely caterpillar sat and cried to a sympathetic beetle by his side, 'I got nobody to hug, I'm just an ugly bug…" Nick pointed to the caterpillar and beetle (ladybug) sitting on the stage, and then the spider and dragonfly sitting beside them who invited the caterpillar to the Annual Ugly Bug Ball to find someone to hug. As the song talked about crawling to the ball, Nick pointed to the audience (while the other band members still sang), and said, "Let's see you bugs crawl!"

The kerfluffle started dancing around as the song continued. When the song mentioned a particular bug, like worms or ants, Nick would have the kits dressed as them wiggle and squirm much to the kits' delight at being called upon. And by the time the song ended, everyone was having a 'happy time' here at the Ugly Bug Ball.

With this first song finished, Nick and the band began singing and playing the 'Spectrum Song' and Nick did his best impression of Professor Ludwig von Drake. The kits enjoyed the song about color to no end and laughed at Nick as his impersonation of the quacky duck professor was spot on. After singing this color song while pretending to be Von Drake, Nick moved on to the other songs they'd chosen, starting with 'One Last Hope' from Hercules.

Swishing his tail, Nick sang, "So you want to be a hero, kit? Well, whoop-de-do. I have been around the block with blockheads just like you…" He nudged Cotton and Sable's belly with his nose as he pretended to be annoyed and depressed, then perked up and started tapping his foot as he began singing, "I'd given up hope that someone would come along…" When Nick got to the part about Phil singing that he had one last hope and he hoped it was Hercules, Nick pointed to the kits singing and dancing in the audience.

The next song was the Hercules/Moana mashup, 'How Far I'll Go the Distance' as sung by Scott and Ryceejo on their EweTube channel. Cotton, Sable, and Brittany were especially into the song as they belted out Moana's parts in the song while singing on stage, with Cotton and Sable leaning into Nick's cheeks as they sang along with him when 'Hercules' and 'Moana' sang together in the song.

This Mashup song lead into the next song, 'We Know the Way' from the Moana movie. The kits were all clapping and hopping back and forth in place to the beat of the music as the song sparked their imagination in exploring new lands and places, with many of them imagining themselves sailing out on the open ocean.

Next song was another catchy Pawaiian tune, 'Pawaiian Rollercoaster Ride' from Lilo & Stitch. The song had a good beat that the kits could sway and clap to. The next song was Olaf's song from Floatzen, 'In Summer.' This song, of course, led into Cotton's song, 'Let It Go.' And for good measure, they sang the song, 'Some Things Never Change' from Floatzen 2, with Marty's brother, Eric, singing Kristoff's part about wanting to propose to Anna as he was working up the courage to propose to his girlfriend, Teresa, who was a rare Rex rabbit with short, dense grey fur that felt like velvet.

Brittany stood in the spotlight for the next song as they sang 'Touch the Sky' from the movie Brave. One of her aunts even found a curly, red wig for her to wear so she could look more like Princess Merida as she sang. Brittany had an absolute blast playing Merida and singing on stage with everyone watching her. She really got into the rhythm of the song, too, as she danced, hopped, and twirled across the stage as she sang.

And then, the second time Brittany sang, '…chase the wind and touch the sky,' her Aunt Judy came up on stage and picked her up and held her above her head so Brittany could feel like she was really flying and could reach up and touch the sky. Judy held her high as she danced around the stage singing along with Brittany, the twins, and the other singers as Nick and the band played the music.

Seeing Aunt Judy holding Brittany up, both Cotton and Sable whispered in Nick's ears that they wanted to 'touch the sky,' too, and so Nick held them up in one paw each, with their bellies resting on his palms. With his fingers curled around their sides to prevent the little buns from falling, Nick let them experience 'chasing the wind' while they reached up to 'touch the sky' as he spun around while the girls sang. Cotton and Sable had the biggest smiles on their faces, with their tails twitching furiously in their happiness as they stretched their little arms up to grab a pawful of the sky.

Stu and Bonnie, on the other paw, glanced at each other in worry. Not about Brittany singing, per say, or the fact Brittany or the twins were being held in the air as they sang. No, they worried about the fact that an alarming number of songs Nick had chosen were songs about leaving the home and discovering new places while experiencing new things—which was a very un-bunny-like way of thinking. They feared the songs would put too many big ideas in their kits' heads and more would try dangerous things when they grew up, just as Judy had. They couldn't even count the many times they lay awake worrying about her safety and wellbeing.

The next song that was sung was 'Into the Open Air' from Brave, and Brittany's mom even stood up to sing with her as the song in the movie was sung while Merida and her mom were adjusting to the queen turning into a huge, savage black bear. Brittany was surprised to see her mom stand up on stage with her, but it made her feel even better, especially as she got to sing about her love for her mom.

As the song ended, Judy whispered a song request to the band and then to Nick as she gave him a warm smile. Nick immediately returned the smile even as he strummed the first chords of the song she requested. With the music filling the air, Judy began singing 'Colors of the Wind' from the movie Pocahontas. Nick's smile turned to a wide grin as he listened to his angel sing, for he realized why she picked the song, and he had to agree with her choice. This was the perfect song to get her family to stop seeing him as a 'scary predator' and to see him as a fellow mammal who could enrich their lives by adding more 'color' to their tapestry of life.

Judy had begun the song as a solo, but as she sang to her family, Nick walked up beside her as he played his guitar and began singing with her. His deeper voice blended beautifully and made a nice contrast to her lighter pitched voice. Smiling brightly up at her lover, husband, and mate, Judy immediately hooked her arm through Nick's as she turned her attention back to the kits sitting on the lawn, as well as to her siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents sitting or standing beyond them.

Those open to the idea of having a fox in the burrow were smiling as they swayed to the music, with many of the girls singing along. Those who didn't think a fox belonged in a rabbit burrow, especially those who didn't think a fox and a rabbit should be friends (let alone something much more), all had a sour look on their faces, especially after Shaylee and Marty hopped up on stage to sing alongside Judy and Nick.

Cotton and Sable, of course, were singing, too, and thought their Aunty Judy had picked a marvelous song to bring Nick into the family. Brittany was even singing along, and as she sang, she kept glancing at the fox her Aunt Judy had befriended. While thinking of the words to the song, '…we are all connected to each other…,' Brittany wondered what she'd learn if she followed the fox's footsteps for a day or two?

When the song ended, Nick flashed Judy a warm smile, then nodded to Shaylee and Marty before turning to Sable and asking if she was ready for the spotlight. At her excited squeal, Nick picked the small black bun up and put her back on her shoulder so she could play Penelope while they sang 'When Can I See You Again.'

Sable really put her heart into the song as she wanted to know when she'd see Uncle Nick again. She knew Uncle Nick was leaving with Aunt Judy tonight and wouldn't be back until next week, so she was already missing him. Her only consolation was that Uncle Nick promised to read their bedtime story tonight, and then she and Cotton could ask him and Aunty Judy to adopt them.

Although they hadn't known the fox long, the first impression they had of him was glowingly positive, and since he had already won their Aunty Judy's trust and love, they didn't have any doubts that he was to be their new daddy. Now if she and Cotton could just convince Aunty Judy and Uncle Nick to adopt them, everything would fantastic!

After the song finished, Nick turned to the audience and pointed out that the sun was setting, and they could even see a few fireflies that had come out to play. So, to end the Ugly Bug Ball, they were going to sing the song, 'Fireflies' by Owl City. Strumming the first chords on his guitar, Nick said, "Most of you little buns probably won't recognize the song, but I think you'll like it." Finishing with the intro, Nick started singing, "You would not believe your eyes, if 10 million fireflies, lit up the world as I fell asleep…"

The song had a much softer tempo than the previous songs, and sang about sleeping and dreaming, which helped put the kerfluffle into a sleepy mood. As he continued singing, Nick noticed some of the youngest buns starting to nod off. With a soft smile on his face, he finished the song, then waved to the little rabbits, saying, "This concludes our Ugly Bug Ball and now it's time for little bunnies to climb into bed so you can dream your own dreams."

Some of the little rabbits clapped now that the ball was over, while quite a few others whined about going to bed as they wanted the ball to continue. The adults ignored the whiners as they started herding the kerfluffle back into the burrow and to the various bathrooms so they could get through their nightly routine before climbing in bed.

Cotton and Sable, who were sitting on Nick's shoulders, reminded him that he and Aunty Judy were supposed to read them their bedtime story. Nick told them to get ready for bed and then he and Judy would meet them down in their room. The girls nodded and then kissed Nick on either cheek. Nick grinned as he set them down so they could scurry off to get ready for bed. The more time he spent with the two small bunnies, the deeper they burrowed into his heart.

After watching the two little white and black bunnies disappear into the crowd, Nick glanced over at Judy and tried to keep a straight face. He wasn't sure he succeeded 'cause he was super happy to see Judy again, even more so for standing up on stage and singing with him. Resisting the urge to reach out and touch her when she flashed him a blinding, buck-toothed smile, he then turned to Shaylee and Marty and nodded a thanks to them, as well.

Turning back to the older rabbits that were still milling about in front of the stage after the kerfluffle left, Nick waved to them and said, "Before I leave tonight, the band and I wanted to sing a song or two for all you wonderful rabbits out there who get to stay up late."

There were several hoots and hollers for this as the teens and adults moved up towards the stage to fill in the spot left by the exodus of the kerfluffle. With a bright smile, Nick glanced back at the band and gave them a nod. The drummer started first, followed by Nick and the others playing instruments. With his foot tapping and his tail tip flicking to the beat, Nick and the other singers (joined by Judy, Shaylee, and Marty) began singing the song they'd agreed on before: 'Walk Through Life' by Pinkzebra.

With Judy and Shaylee clapping on either side of him, and Marty thumping his foot to the beat of the music, they began singing, "Walk through life, every day is a new beginning…" Most of the rabbits in the audience who recognized the song began singing along as they hopped back and forth while clapping their paws.

The song was a huge hit, and everyone wanted another song played. Several songs were tossed out, most of which were country songs that Nick was unfamiliar with, but then Aaron hopped up on stage, saying, "I have a request." After giving the band his request and getting their agreement, he then turned around and looked at his girlfriend, who was standing in the audience. "I'd like to dedicate this song to Sascha, the girl of my dreams."

Taking the mike, Aaron met Sascha's shy gaze and smiled warmly at her, even as Judy, Shaylee, and Marty hopped off the stage to stand beside the slightly smaller pika. Then Nick and the band started playing the music for 'That's When I Love You' by Highway Bros. Taking a deep breath, Aaron started singing the words that were in his heart. Since Sascha's family was trying to convince her that he wasn't serious about her, he didn't want any doubts left in her mind about how fully and completely he'd fallen for her.

Nick was singing along with Aaron as he played, but he had eyes only for Judy…though he tried to remember to periodically glance over the audience or down at his guitar as he played so as not to make it too obvious that he was thinking of Judy as he sang. It helped that Aaron was the one who requested the song, so not too many rabbits paid him any mind during the song.

A few of the more perceptive bunnies in the audience, along with those who knew Judy liked Nick and so were looking to see how he felt about her in return, caught on to the fox's staring. Noticing the fox's repeated glances at Judy made the perceptive bunnies wonder if something more was up between the two, while those who already knew about Judy's feelings started grumbling under their breaths about how wrong it was for a rabbit and a fox to be chasing each other.

No matter how much they hated the idea, though, they knew it was too late to keep Judy and the city fox apart. Now that Judy knew the fox was here, and the fact he was traveling to the mountains with her, their plan to drive the fox from town just went up in a great ball of black smoke. Several of them, Daryl, Roger, and Jerry being three of them, left the party in a disgusted huff. Their sister was crazy and so was the fox she'd unnaturally fallen for.

One of the more perceptive bunnies, on the other paw, was Stu. Bonnie had followed the kerfluffle into the burrow to make sure no scuffles broke out among the young kits as they got ready for bed, while Stu stayed outside to keep an eye on the party. Seeing Nick's warm glances at Judy, and her equally warm gazes back, solidified in Stu's mind that there was something more going on between his little bun-bun and her foxy friend from the city.

But even knowing there was something up between them, Stu didn't think it was the right time to pry. Judy and Nick had just gotten back together today, so the two needed time to work through whatever was going on between them, and the feelings they had for each other, before others started poking their noses into their business. Stu figured this trip to the mountains would be the perfect chance for them to figure out what they wanted for the future as well as what they wanted from their relationship.

When the song finished, Nick thanked everyone for their support, said the band would love to play any other requests, but he had things to do and places to be, and so he bowed to everyone before jumping down from the stage and making a beeline for Judy. Then together, they made their way through the crowd and into the burrow so they could read the twins their bedtime stories.

Most of the bunnies in the audience wondered about Nick and Judy disappearing together, and some speculated about their relationship, but then the band started playing again and their attention was grabbed by the music.

WingedKatt here again. Sorry this is late. But it's here now. Next time, we'll see how Aaron's meetup with his girlfriend went and what brought them both to the ball. We'll also see how Camellia and Jaxon's secret little rendezvous went.

I can't say when Chapter 42 will post. With homeschooling my son, it's taking a lot more time and mental energy than I was expecting, and then I go to work after getting through school with him so I don't have a whole lot of time to write. Getting my mind into the story to write is also a struggle. I'm not giving up on the story but I can't give a definite date for the next chapter.

I hope you have a great weekend. If you have any thoughts or questions, let me know.

PS. For those waiting for the next chapter of Z:AtB, I might not get it posted till next Sunday instead of Friday. We'll see. I haven't started the chapter yet, so if it's a little later, it's because I haven't finished writing it yet. 😐