She’s got something to tell him. It’s the first thing Nick picks up on when he opens the door to his apartment. Her left ear twitches every so often, and she’s got this look, like someone’s going to spill the beans before she gets to.
But he won’t push. If it’s a secret, it’s hers to tell.
After a while, and some incredibly forced small talk that is ridiculously out of place given their, oh, what, fourteen month relationship – she spills it.
“My parents…really want to meet you.”
Nick pauses over the container of ice cream he was totally not planning on eating out of directly with a spoon. “Okay.”
“Like, next weekend. Or this weekend. Whichever works.”
Nick nods, mostly because the only other reaction he can think of is running, and moving some part of his body keeps him from bolting. “Which one works for you?”
“…Either,” she says. “But maybe…maybe next weekend. We can tell them that and then if you’re not ready, we can cancel.”
“Or if you’re not ready.”
Judy opens her mouth to argue, then stops. “Yes,” she admits. “I…might not be ready.”
“Kind of a big deal, bringing a fox home to the ‘rents.”
“It isn’t about that,” she snaps.
“It is, and it’s okay that it is, Carrots.” He gives up on bowls and scooping and drops the carton of Chunky Monkey on the table right in front of her. “Eat your feelings.”
“I love you,” she says, and digs in.
Truthfully, Nick sort of has met Judy’s parents. Sometimes he’s at her apartment when they call, and she’ll say something like “Nick says hello,” or he’ll wave from the background if they’re videoing that day. They know what he looks like – taller than their daughter, roguishly handsome, out of Judy’s league but in the opposite way. Finn only says every other week that she’s too good for him. Nick knows – and Nick’s okay with that.
The week before their planned trip turns out to be a lot busier than either intended, and it’s Friday afternoon before they can both sit down and figure out if they’re ready.
“I’m ready,” she says.
Nick…thinks he’s ready. It’s not something they can put off forever, and if he wants Judy the way he thinks he wants Judy, then parents are sort of a fundamental part of that.
“Then so am I,” he decides to say, instead of, I’m actually terrified and I don’t know why.
Judy nods. “Okay. I got you a few things, then.”
“You got me a present? Carrots, you devil.” He watches her set the bags on the table and frowns. “Are these…clothes?”
“I just…you told me six months ago that you didn’t want to meet my parents until you’d acquired the perfect meet Judy’s parents outfit. So I…got you one. Or a few.” Nick pulls out the shirts and slacks, turning them over in his hands. They’re exactly what he might have bought, if he hadn’t been trying to make up stupid excuses not to do something she really wanted him to.
“They’re good colors for you, don’t you think?”
Nick swallows. He isn’t going to cry, he doesn’t want to cry, it would be really stupid if he cried –
He embraces her, and feels a soft, satisfied little huff of air as she relaxes against him.
“I love it, Carrots. I really do.” He kisses the top of her head. “And I really love you.”
“Don’t be nervous,” he says, putting his paw over hers. Her left foot hasn’t stopped tapping since they left, and there’s still an hour of the ride to go. Nick offers her his right headphone, and it only takes ten minutes of Clawhauser’s “smooth naptime playlist” to get her to doze off for a good forty minutes. Nick puts his arm around her, and neither opens their eyes until the train pulls in at the station.
Judy stands stiffly, reaching overhead for their bags. “Peas and carrots,” she mutters. “You shouldn’t have let me sleep.”
“You were nervous, and we needed naps.”
“You think everyone needs naps.”
Nick nods sagely. “Everyone does, Hopps.” He stops her from barreling down the aisle. “Hey.”
“I love you,” he says. “And I’m happy to be here. Remember that.”
“I love you,” she repeats. “And I’m happy to be here.”
“You know, it would be more comforting if you didn’t sound like I had a gun pointed at you.”
She snorts and pulls him down by the collar of his shirt. “This weekend is ours, okay?”
“Dunno. I see a lot of rabbits outside.”
“It’s Bunnyburrow, Nick. We aren’t the only rabbit family in town.” She holds her suitcase in two hands, now, puffing herself up and looking right at him. “Okay. Here goes.” Judy leads the way off the train and onto the platform.
It takes a moment for the crowd to clear, but Nick spots them right away – Bonnie and Stu Hopps, looking exactly as they always do, waving madly at the both of them.
“Oh you made it.” Bonnie embraces her daughter, kissing her cheek and gripping her chin in her hand. “We were just so anxious to see you both.” She looks up at Nick and smiles. It falters, for only a second, the way he thought it might. Nick figures he’ll just get back on the train, go back home, and Carrots can tell him how it went later, if his five second impression was enough to last a lifetime—
“Judy.” Her mother frowns. “You didn’t tell me he was so skinny.”
Nick swallows a panicked laugh.
“Oh, you’ll sort that out in no time, hon.” Stu claps him on the back. “She fixed me up just fine herself, if you catch my meaning.”
Nick tries nodding, but he’s being tugged toward the exit now, Judy in tow.
“We’ve got everyone at home waiting,” Bonnie says. “They’re just clamoring to meet you, Nick.” She looks at him. “You’ve been looking forward to it?”
Ah, he thinks. Now he knows where Carrots gets her endless optimism.
But Nick smiles, because he has, frankly, and he wants to be here.
“Haven’t stopped talking about it,” he says.
He catches Judy’s eye as they get into the truck, and pretends he doesn’t see her scrub a paw over her cheek.
“Right, so there’s Addy, Andy, Abel, Arthur, Amy, Bobby, Becky, Ben, Billy, Buddy, Chester, Charlie, Catie, Carla, Danny, David, Esther, Eva, Francis, Freddie, Garret, Harry, Heather, Holly, Ilsa, Jake, Jakob, Kyle, Lilly, Lila, Lola, Lucy, Maddie, Maple, Margie, Nance, Opal, Patty, Peter, Paul, Quintin, Quincy, Robert, Richie, Ryan, Sammy, Susie, Sally, Tyler, Timmy, Taylor, Tommy, Ursula, Vicky, Vivi, Wesley, Xavier, Yvonne, and Zachary.” Judy pauses. “Where’s Brian?”
“Cottonswap,” Bonnie says.
Nick laughs, but it comes out manic and a little choked.
“I can’t just call them all Judy Junior,” he asks, once her parents get out of the parked truck. “Can I?”
Judy pinches his shoulder and follows after them.
Nick huffs. “That’s a no, then.”
Not all of her two hundred and seventy-five siblings are currently present. Judy isn’t the oldest, and she’s got plenty of elder siblings with jobs and warrens of their own, scattered around the Triburrows. Nick had thought this was going to be a hard enough weekend trying to make himself look presentable to Judy’s parents – impressing upon her dozens of siblings that he was not there to rob and eat them seemed to be a completely different feat entirely.
Approximately eleven small children all scream, in unison, “Fox!”, when Nick crosses the threshold, and bolt in the opposite direction.
Their mother isn’t pleased. “Holly! Susie! Tommy—” She names off a good eight other kids and Nick swears he’s going to actually lose his mind. “You all get back here and apologize to your sister’s boyfriend.” Bonnie puts a hand on his elbow. “I’m so sorry Nicky, they—” She pauses. “Oh! Nicky! Stu, honey, that’s the name we missed, remember? We just couldn’t figure out which one we’d skipped, but that was it.” She smiles. “For a good reason, though.” She gives his cheek a little pat and goes into the kitchen to check on the slowcooker.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” Stu adjusts his suspenders. “Two hundred kids and not a single Nick or Nicky in the bunch. Like we were just waitin’ for you.”
“Dad. Please stop making him uncomfortable.” Judy arrives, blessedly, and pulls him away from her father. Her father in question isn’t bothered by any of this – he shrugs, pulls his jeans up, and follows his wife into the kitchen. “Nick, I’m so sorry.” She pats him down, gently, like all this attention’s left a layer of dust on his new button up.
Nick shakes his head. “No, it’s…nice,” he says. “To be included.”
Judy blinks. “Of course,” she murmurs, reaching up to cup his cheek.
“You are…so lucky, Carrots.”
“I am,” she agrees. “Lucky to have someone as patient as you, too. If it’s too much, say the word and we can disappear. I have a few places…”
“Are they make-out spots? Is this where you detail your torrid love affairs to me? In your living room, between your mother’s impeccably handmade doilies and a picture of you from the third grade?”
“Sweet jam and butter, mom, why are these on the wall?” Nick chuckles and pulls her in, kissing her quick and a little filthy. “Nick.”
“I love you, and I think your family is amazing.”
Judy catches her breath.
He kisses her before she can say something sweet enough to give him toothaches.
“Lola, Lucy, Ryan, you put those crescent rolls down it is not time to eat yet.” Bonnie settles at her spot on one end of the long, long table. “Your father’s going to make a toast.”
Stu clears his throat. “Right. Well, we’re all just pleased as punch that we could make it to where we are today. I mean, you just think about how floored we’d have been just a handful of years ago, if our Judy’d gone to Zootopia and brought home a fox—”
“Missing the point, Stu.”
“Oh, right.” He clears his throat. “Anyhow, we’re just real happy you could come meet us, Nicky. Judy’s just been talking nonstop about you for darn near four months now, every time we call her. So, a toast.” He raises his glass. “To our newest member.”
“To Nick,” Bonnie says.
“To Nick,” sixty some-odd voices say, in perfect unison.
The table settles and bowls are passed.
Nick leans over. “Nonstop, huh?”
Judy doesn’t look up from her plate. “How about you never bring that up again, and I’ll iron your shirts for a week.”
“Done deal, Hopps.”
The meal continues without too many hiccups. One of the girls asks Nick to pass the salt, and he does a little magic trick with it – something from the old days that has little ones laughing. Judy’s paw rests carefully on his leg approvingly, and he reaches to give it a reassuring little squeeze. After everything, dessert is an incredible berry pie that Nick can’t get enough of. Bonnie notices.
“Judy said you loved those berries.”
“Sure do, ma’am.”
“Ol’ Gideon Grey made this pie,” Stu says, shoving a forkful in his mouth.
One of the little ones, an M name, Nick thinks, says: “Are Nick and Gideon related?”
Judy chokes are her juice. “Maple!”
Nailed it, Nick thinks.
“No, sweetheart.” Bonnie pats the little one’s hand. “They’re just both foxes.”
Nick blinks. “A fox lives in Bunnyburrow?”
“Sure,” Stu says. “He and Judy are the same age. Went to school together. Had something of a rivalry when they were growing up. Scratched the devil out of her face—”
Nick turns, sharp, and looks at her. “He scratched you?”
“We were kids, dad.” Judy continues shoveling food in her mouth, and says thickly, “Let it go.”
“It’s all fine now,” Bonnie says soothingly. “Gid’s our partner. We sell him some of the produce he uses to make his pastries. He’s grown up since then.”
“He apologized,” Judy says. “It’s in the past.”
The pie goes unfinished.
Supposedly tradition dictates Nick sleeps in one of the boys’ rooms, but he and Judy take the pullout couch in the living room.
“They’ve lightened up over the years,” Judy muses, setting a glass of water by her side of the bed. “Are you alright? You’ve been weird since the fox thing.”
“Someone hurt you. A fox hurt you.”
“It was a long time ago. A kid I went to school with hurt me, and then we both grew up. I’ve let it go. You should, too.”
“He’s a good guy then.”
“Gid’s very sweet,” she says. Nick lays back, feeling her settle into the crook of her arm and stretch. “Not as sweet as you.”
“You’re just saying that.”
“S’true,” she mumbles, and finally dozes off.
Nick wakes, and a bunny face that isn’t his bunny’s face is staring at him.
He starts, makes a noise, and four little things scream.
In unison, because there’s precedent now.
“What is happening?” Judy sits up in bed, ears crooked and eyes narrowed. “Quincy!”
Quincy is the only one with glasses, and he sticks out. “You were snuggling.”
“If you don’t get out of this room, I’m going to burn your graphic novels.”
Quincy points, little paw quivering in mock anger. “You wouldn’t dare.”
Judy folds her arms over her chest. “Tell Nick here what happened to The Giraffe Calls At Noon.”
Nick shakes his head. “What is that? What did you do?”
Quincy bounds out of the room. “Mom, Judy’s threatening me and spooning her boyfriend!”
“Quincy Harper Hopps, get into this kitchen and finish your breakfast and leave your sister alone!”
Nick realizes now that this house is loud, loud in a way his home never was. He looks at Judy.
“You burnt his stuff?”
“Just once,” she says, rolling out of bed. “He spilled beet juice on my prom dress.”
“That’s cold, Carrots.”
“That’s being the big sister.” She kisses his cheek. “Get out of bed before we scandalize anyone else.” She moves to pick up some of her things to shower and change. Nick pulls on jeans and a clean shirt and wanders into the kitchen in search of coffee.
He is not expecting Gideon Grey.
“Well I’ll be derned.” The fox laughs, something rich and infectious, and grabs Nick by the hand. “You sure were right, Mr. Hopps.”
“I told you. Judy brought home a nice fella.”
“I’m Gideon,” he says. “Real pleased to meet ya.”
“Nick Wilde. Are you—”
“I came by to get some blueberries for some turnovers I’m workin’ on. The farmer’s market’s tomorrow morning. Pastries sell good right after sun-up.” He looks to Nick, who’s been carefully opening cupboards, looking for mugs. “Oh here.” He gets one out. “You take anything?”
“Good man.” Gideon passes over the coffee, brows lifting as someone pads into the kitchen. “Judy! You’re finally up.”
“Hey, Gid.” She embraces him, giving his arm a squeeze. “You met Nick.”
“Sure did. I kept wondering why Opal said I looked like your new friend. Didn’t know he was a fox. There a lot of foxes in Zootopia?”
“Not really,” Nick says, feeling a little like he’s in a haze. The coffee helps. Sort of. He lets Judy guide him to the table, and sit down, fingers laced together as Gideon and Stu join them on the other side. “So you and Judy went to school together.”
Gideon looks sheepish. “Yeah. Bet she told you all ‘bout how much of a jerk I was.”
Didn’t mention it, Nick wants to spit, but there’s really nothing wrong with the fox sat across the table from him. He seems alright, and Carrots trusts him. That’s…what this is about, right?
This whole being with someone else, living for someone else? You trust the people they trust, you roll the dice, and you see how it goes.
“—think that’s a good idea, Nick?”
He blinks. “Sure.”
“Buttered muffins,” Gideon says, grinning ear to ear. “You’ll have a real good time. Be nice for folks to meet foxes outside the burrow.”
“That’s really awesome,” Judy says. “He’ll have a blast, won’t you?” She squeezes Nick’s paw and he nods.
“The best blast. Definitely.”
Gideon sets his coffee down and says, “Well I best be off, Mr. Hopps. Judy, good to see you again. Nick, great to meet you. I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow.”
Stu gets up with him. “I’ll walk you out, Gid.”
“Bye!” Judy calls. The second they’re out of earshot, she turns, eyes narrowed. “You weren’t even listening!”
“I was thinking about something important!”
“More important than forging a decent relationship with my family, Nick?”
“Uh, Gideon Grey is not a member of your family. He’s a fox friend I didn’t know you had.”
Judy groans, tugging on her ears and getting up from the table. “I knew you were going to make a bigger deal out of this than you needed to. I knew it!”
“Oh, come on, Carrots. You think it wouldn’t matter to me? After how we met? After everything we’ve had to go through? I show up here and suddenly there’s this other fox, who hurt you, that no one in your family trusted until you left for the city?”
“You’re blowing this out of proportion.”
“Yeah?” Nick stands. “Well I think you’re blowing this entire weekend out of proportion. New shirts and new pants, all this babbling about how everything’s changed, and everyone’s different—”
Nick stops. His voice is getting loud, and there are sixteen pairs of eyes looking in on them at the kitchen door.
One pair happens to be Bonnie’s.
She puts a hand on the door frame. “…Is everything alright?”
“It’s fine.” Judy unclenches her fists. “It’s just…a meeting of the minds.”
“Did you eat?”
“I’m not hungry. I’m going into town with dad and the boys. I’ll…be back.” She throws one last look in Nick’s direction, before leaving him there with her mother and the words he’s said.
“How ‘bout a sandwich, Nicky?”
He sighs, staring into the melting ice of his tea and says, “Sure.”
“A good meal always cheers me up. Cheers just about anyone up, really.” She sets about getting some bread and radishes from the crisper drawer. “What does your mother make when you’ve got the blues, hmm?”
Nick looks up. “I…” Judy hadn’t told them. That…surprises him, just a bit. “My mother…” He swallows. “She passed,” he finally says.
Bonnie stops. “Oh. Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry. Can I ask when?”
“Ten years ago, maybe eleven.” The kitchen is silent. Bonnie’d run the little ones out well before this, and they’d been sitting in companionable enough silence for some time now. “It’s alright,” he starts to say, but her arms suddenly come around him in the chair, and he’s wrapped up in the tightest hug he’s been one half of in a while.
Like Judy’s, he thinks.
“You were all alone, weren’t you?”
“It’s alright, Mrs. Hopps. I’m alright.”
“That just isn’t fair. Not fair at all.” She pulls back and sniffs, scrubbing a hand over her cheek. “You’ll like this one. It’s Judy’s favorite.” Nick angles himself to watch her stack the bread high with roots and greens, covering it in a green mayo.
“My mom always made me oatmeal,” he says quietly. “And pancakes for dinner, if I was down.”
Bonnie turns, setting the plate in front of him. “She did a good job while she could. Our Judy thinks the world of you.”
Nick nods. “I…think the world of your Judy,” he says carefully, and takes a bite out of the sandwich.
“Uh, amazing, Mrs. H. Absolutely amazing.”
He finds her ripping apart a truck engine in the barn.
“Your resume doesn’t say mechanic, Hopps. I think you’ve been holding out on me.”
She looks up, oil smudging her cheeks and neck, and smiles. “Hey, you.”
“I would like to formally apologize for being an ass. And not listening. I was thinking about something sort of vague and metaphorical and the Gideon thing just caught me by surprise. I love you and trust you and appreciate you.”
Judy sighs, wiping her brow and closing the distance between them. “Did my mom make you a sandwich?”
“The Judy Special.”
“It isn’t called that.”
“It is now. We brain stormed.” He takes her hands, running a thumb over the pads of her paws. “You didn’t tell her about my mom.”
“It wasn’t my story to tell.”
He nods. “It’s alright. We…it caught me by surprise, is all.”
“My mom gives good hugs, doesn’t she?”
“Really good ones.” He kisses the top of her head. “So do you destress by fixing cars? Because Finn’s van seriously needs some work.”
She laughs, shaking her head. “No, I just know how to tear an engine apart. Dad wants to sell the pieces.” She turns back to him. “You do know what you agreed to at breakfast, don’t you?”
Nick sighs. “I can surmise, I suppose.”
“Gideon gets to the market at five AM, slick.”
“Not six? Seven? Noon-ish?”
“Five in the morning, Wilde. Maybe we ought to put you to bed now, hmm?”
“Sly bunny,” he mumbles, and joins her under the hood to tear out the rest of the engine.
Nick is not sleeping behind his sunglasses – he promised Judy he’d behave for this endeavor, and she promised she’d rescue him for a late breakfast when her family showed up.
But Gideon’s truck rumbles just so, and it’s enough to almost lull him into a nap right around five-oh-seven.
“Up and at ‘em, Nicky! We got a tent to put together.”
Nick groans and drops down from the passenger’s seat. “You are dedicated, my friend.”
“This is what’s called channeling your emotions,” Gideon says, the words coming out as precisely as he can manage them. “It’s somethin’ fancy my therapist said.” Nick nods. He can respect that. “I’m real glad you decided to do this with me. I mean, I really love livin’ in the burrow and all, but there ain’t a lot of foxes around these parts.”
“There’s a den community about a hundred miles east of the city,” Nick says. Some of his mother’s extended family lived there. They only went once. “I don’t recommend it.”
“Nah, I’m glad to just be here. I’ve done as well as I can.” Gideon grunts and unfolds a large table. “Judy’s folks told me about you a while ago, but I didn’t really, you know. Get it. Not ‘til I met you, anyhow.” He shrugs. “She seems happy. Her family’s real special. I hope you understand that, and I hope your folks appreciate it, too.”
Nick closes his eyes. He never has to explain his family back in the city. His friends knew who he was, the other officers didn’t care, and Bogo knew everything there was to know about Nick.
Out here, though. It’s different.
“Judy’s…she’s the only family I’ve really got, actually.” He tries to busy himself with the folding chairs, but one is rusted and gets stuck, so it screeches over Gideon’s words. They meet each other’s gaze.
“I said that’s a real shame. Not the part about Judy, of course. But not having anyone else.”
“It is what it is.”
Gideon nods. He’s not so thick that he doesn’t pick up on the signs – that Nick doesn’t want to talk about this, that Nick is uncomfortable with this, that Nick is suddenly thinking of Bonnie’s hug and remembering his mother and trying not to lose the little bit of breakfast Judy made him swallow down before Gideon’s truck rolled up the drive –
The other fox puts a sturdy hand on Nick’s shoulder. “Let’s talk about somethin’ else,” he says, “and have some pie.”
They have two more days left of their vacation. Nick’s finally starting to sort out names – he gets Sammy, Sally, and Susie all mixed up still, but apparently so does everyone else. It just figures that more than twenty more show up that morning.
The elder Hopps. All just about Judy’s age or older, and almost all with their own little warrens in tow.
“So there’s Alex, Aubrey, Ainsley, Brian, Buster, Carl, Doris, Dana, Eli, Ethel, Fiona, Franky, Georgia, Harlow, Hannah, Ike, Jasper, Johnny, Kevin, Lacey, Laura, Martha, Missy, Mindy, Nolan, Oscar, Pamela, Quigley, Rita, Ronda, Steven, Sydney, Tony, Tammy, Violet, Winston, Xena, and Zelda.”
They’re softer around the edges than the smaller kids, but a little more weary of Nick than their parents. After dinner, Brian, Car, Eli and Oscar create a little rabbit wall between Nick and the family and grill him on his intentions with their sister. Judy drags him away and proceeds to verbally assault her brothers until they apologize. Nick wants to tell her that he sort of likes the third degree, that he’s pretty used to it and, frankly, does well under pressure.
But Judy wants him to feel welcomed and loved, and really – he’s a lot hungrier for that.
The night before they’re set to leave on the train for home, Nick tucks himself around her, his tail closing off the circle of them both as his paws stroke her shoulders.
“What do you think about moving in together?” he asks. She’s pretending to sleep – he knows this because her heart is beating too fast against him, and her little head shoots straight up.
“Are you serious?”
“I wouldn’t joke, Carrots.”
“You joke all the time,” she insists, sitting up and folding her arms over her chest. “You can’t joke about this.”
“I wouldn’t,” he defends. “Honestly, Hopps, how long have we been making this work? And you question my – mmph!” She tackles him, kisses him stupid, and pulls back. “So that’s a…”
“Don’t make me answer that,” she says, breathless as they both dive in for more.
“Oh!” Bonnie grips them both tight. “You could stay, couldn’t you?”
“I wish,” Judy says, kissing her mother’s cheek. “But duty calls.”
“Those phones don’t answer themselves and ow. That hurt.”
“We do not just answer phones, Nicholas.”
“No, Judith, we do not.” He sighs. “See what I deal with?”
Stu chuckles. “She’s a handful. But she’s got you covered, too, son. We both know that.”
Nick nods. “That we do, sir.” He reaches out to shake Stu’s hand, caught off guard when he finds himself wrapped in a bone-crushing, extremely paternal hug.
“Stu, honey, you’re choking him.”
“I just already miss you both so much,” he says, sniffling. “You won’t take so long to make it back, Jude, will you?”
Judy gets her own hug, and pulls back, rubbing her chest. “We’ll get back as soon as we can.”
The train whistles behind them, announces the final boarding call. Nick lifts both their suitcases.
“Thank you,” he says, and he hopes it sounds as genuine as he intends it to be. “For letting me be a part of your family for the weekend.”
Bonnie waves a hand. “Oh, it’s official now, sweetheart. You just keep on being good to our girl, and you’re in the clear.”
Judy puts an arm around his waist. “He’s always good,” she says, almost like an admission.
Nick fights the urge to swell, just a bit, but she sounds proud enough for the both, so he opts to look down at her instead, and smile.
“Right, you two get on back, and let us know when you’re safe and sound, alright?”
They reassure them both, again, trade one last round of hugs, and finally board. Together, the two stand at the window, watching as the station begins to slide away, and Judy’s parents become little grey specks in the background, until the entire burrow disappears altogether.
“That went way better than I’d even hoped,” Judy says, watching as Nick stashes their luggage overhead. “I can’t believe it went by so fast.”
“I can’t believe you remember everyone’s names.”
She huffs. “They’re my siblings, Nick.”
“I’m trying to pay you a compliment, Carrots. Take it and get over here.” He extends his arm and Judy sighs, curling up against him. “I’m glad we went,” he admits. “It’s…different. To feel like family, again.”
Judy looks up. “You deserve it.”
“And you deserve my best.”
“I already get it,” she says. “Besides, you’ll know when I’m not happy.”
“I’ve been with you when you’re not happy, Hopps. Trust me, I know.” Beside him, her eyes begin to droop. “Rest up,” he murmurs, and kisses the top of her head. “Dream of handsome foxes.”
“Just the one fox,” she mumbles.
“And just the one bunny,” he murmurs, closing his eyes as the train speeds toward home – the tracks of everything he knows and hopes they can be stretch out before them, in endless loop after loop after loop.
It reminds Nick that everything is going to be just fine, even when it feels like it’s not, or there’s just no way it can be.
It reminds him that he is lucky, and he is blessed – and he’s got no chance of forgetting any of that any time soon.