For those of you just joining the story , Guardian Blue: Season 1 is already available in its entirety to read and I recommend reading that before you read any of this fic, as it might be a little confusing otherwise! Also, if you have not read “Thanks for the Fox” that is also important background to the story. Those who have been patiently awaiting the release of Season 2 after having read season 1, welcome back! Let’s get fluffy.
As always, I do not own the characters, the concept, the world, the names, blah blah blah, I write this for fun, mine and yours, so let’s all enjoy!
Guardian Blue: Season Two
Episode 1: Perspective
All that I am…
Judy widened her eyes as he began to talk. She recognized that. Where did she recognize that from?
All that I was…
All that I ever shall be…
Judy’s eyes widened even more, ears pinning back as her heart nearly seized up. It felt like time itself nearly stopped. This was the vow Nick had explained to her when she was medicated and on the mend from being hit by the bus. What was he doing?! Judy glanced just slightly to the side at her smiling and oblivious parents, but Nick’s mother was more or less behind her where she was standing.
I give unto thee.
Judy began to breath faster. She didn’t know what she was supposed to even say back, wasn’t there supposed to be a question asked first, then arrangements and planning? No, Nick said it was usually just the parents, and he made a point that he had to be looking into her eyes. She thought to look away, but that thought seemed… terrible. This moment was important to Nick, wasn’t it? She couldn’t just ruin it. Judy hadn’t dated much before, sure, but she was positive this wasn’t how it all worked.
To love and protect…
Judy’s breath hitched. Her entire mind focused onto a single word. Love. She loved him. She wasn’t able to deny that anymore, and the thought that he said that word to her, looking into her eyes, caused her to lock up. She couldn’t speak, staring intently into his green eyes, not sure she was even breathing at that point.
To honor and to aid…
If she didn’t say the words back was she ruining this? She felt a surge of panic running through her, her little nose beginning to wiggle. She couldn’t ruin this.
Unconditional and unwavering in this life and the next…
This promise was for more than the span of his life. She remembered that. This wasn’t a joke. This was not a situation where he’d pull out the coin and roll it around on his fingers with a smirk on his face. He’d never violate this tradition in front of his own mother like that. This was serious. This was actually happening.
… may Fate never bear us apart.
And the moment he said those words he leaned up and pulled Judy forward a little to where he was sitting on the couch, embracing her. She stood there, too stunned to speak, unable to move even to put her arms around the fox who just… what did he do? She didn’t say anything back. Was that okay? Was it required? She didn’t know enough to understand what just happened.
Nick leaned back again, wincing a little, seeming in pain since he’d not taken his medicine. Judy understood completely at that moment why. He wanted to be completely lucid for that. It was not a spur of the moment decision. He had thought about it. Judy realized suddenly she’d been crying, she didn’t know when that started, so she wiped her cheeks.
Stu was the first to speak. “Well that sure was beautiful Nick. That’s a right nice and proper show of gratitude and support. I think you two are gonna be just fine.” Judy looked over to her parents. Her dad seemed happy, but her mom seemed a bit surprised. She would be a lot more surprised if she knew what more about it, Judy considered. She looked down, realizing she was still holding Nick’s hand in hers. She turned a bit to look at Vivienne. She saw the lady fox dabbing her eyes gently with her long and elegant sleeve. She was smiling at least, so it didn’t seem that Nick had done something that his mom thought was wrong, but it was still obviously important.
Bonnie and Stu hugged their daughter tightly but carefully for a moment, letting her know they would be in town another full day if they were needed and to not end up back in a hospital the moment they got back to Bunnyburrow. Judy could barely crack a smile at the jest because her mind was completely consumed by what just happened. Was it a proposal? Was it binding to her somehow, or just Nick? Did she want it to be? It was alarming and confusing and her heart was racing from it. She needed to talk to him alone.
Fortunately, Vivienne stated that she wanted to get back so as not to keep her friend waiting for too long and she brought Nick his medicine from the cabinet in the bathroom and gave him some water so he could take the pills. Nick did so gratefully and hugged his mom again. Viv then gave a careful hug to the injured bunny even gentler than her parents had given, reminding her to take her medicine as needed as well. Vivienne touched her nose to Judy’s jaw with a little push that made her think of a familial sort of kiss and she supposed that’s what that gesture was intended.
Before Vivienne headed out, she looked to her son and said warmly, “I will let Skye know that we’ve all headed out so she knows to check up on you. I gave her my spare key like you asked. Just bring it back with you next time you visit.” Judy lifted her ears at that, having not realized that Vivienne had her own key, but it made sense. Judy was given her own key when Nick went to the academy after all. Finally the door swung shut, and the soft footfalls in the hall receded away, leaving the two in the apartment alone.
“T-minus 18 minutes until I am a rug.” Nick said with a smile. He was referring of course to the medication he had taken. He would be asleep soon. Judy snapped her attention to Nick and pulled one ear down tightly, teeth gritted, eyes wide.
“Nick what did you do?!” Judy was actually breathing heavily at that point, not even sure what she should ask first about what just happened. Nick actually seemed confused about what Judy meant at first which frustrated the bunny as she stood before her partner, actually heavily breathing, nearly panting with panic. She didn’t say anything back. If he had at least told her what she was going to do she would not have just stood there like an idiot in front of everyone for such an important… what ceremony? Confession? She didn’t even know!
Finally, Nick seemed to clue in to what Judy was exasperated about. He smiled calmly and spoke. “Ah, the vow. I just made a promise I fully intend to keep. Do you want a snack before bed? Your mom brought little powdered donuts.” Judy blinked at that. How could he be so casual after that? Was she completely mistaken about what it meant? She remembered that whole conversation so clearly.
“Nick, that was a muh…” Judy took a deep breath. “Those were marriage vows! In front of our parents. Looking me in the eyes!” She pointed at her eyes, as if maybe he didn’t know what those were.
Nick looked blankly at Judy a moment, still seated on the couch, tilting his head a little. He then straightened up, looking more alert suddenly. “What? Oh! No, Fluff…” His ears perked high and a wide grin spread over his long vulpine muzzle. “Carrots, those vows are used during a wedding, yes, but that’s not the only way they can be used. You were not really interested in knowing much else about fox weddings when I told them to you before. You just wanted to know about the vows. There’s certainly more to a fox wedding, and you definitely would have still gotten a choice in the matter before hand!” he laughed. Judy exhaled heavily, suddenly feeling silly. She had pestered him to get right to the words and not really let him explain everything. That was on her.
Judy spoke curiously, “Okay, but then… it’s still significant, right? What does it mean for you to say the vow to me like that?” Judy was calming down a little, but she was still very shaken by it. “The words still suggest… So much.” Judy considered in her reeling mind the word love. He had said it, but the vow simply said he gave himself to her to love and protect. He wasn’t specifically saying he loved her. He gave himself to her and she could love and protect him. She did not want to foolishly read more into the moment than she should. Nick looked quietly at Judy a moment and then patted the couch beside where he was sitting. Judy sat down and Nick carefully turned a bit to face her, mindful with his leg.
His tone was less relaxed and more serious as she looked up at him. “It’s very significant, Carrots. I already promised you before, when you seemed worried about how I might react to how other people mammals felt about me, and how close we are as friends. I‘m not gonna leave. This promise tonight is more formal. This is to you, to everyone. I won’t leave you. No matter what happens, no matter what you do, what you say, who you associate with, where you go... you can count on me to be there with you through it all.” Judy found herself breathing a little harder. To use that vow to make such a promise was intense and he made it in front of both their families. She could hardly get her head around what it took for a fox with trust issues to do that.
She spoke finally, her voice cracking a little. “In this life and the next?” She had almost lost him. What he said about him leaving made her remember very vividly. She had almost lost him outright. “Are you sure I’m the one who deserved to hear that promise, Nick? I know I am right to assume it’s kind of a big deal, it’s really okay to use it on me?” she asked. She worried that he might regret it if he ever got closer to someone else, and she could not deny that it would hurt her knowing that it caused him any trouble later. Nick gazed at the bunny for a few moments quietly, seeming to try to gauge her mood by how intently his eyes focused on her. She found herself looking back into them, trapped in them as she had before. When had she ever looked into a buck’s eyes like this?
The fox leaned to the side a little eventually and hugged Judy carefully to him. He spoke in a near whisper. “Judy… I won’t lie. That promise is important for a fox. I am only allowed to use it one time so we don’t just toss it around.” Judy gasped and straightened up, prepared to interrupt Nick, but he held up a finger and shushed her. “… And before you scold me for giving it to you… I will have you know I thought a very long time about this.” Judy lifted her ears, focused on Nick entirely. How could he just give such an important gift to her as that? She felt guilty for having it, but at the same time, her body tingled with joy that it was given.
“Nick, I…” Judy tried to interject, at least to tell the fox that she understood how important it was. Nick interrupted her, not wanting to let her say anything just yet, it seemed.
“You risked everything to find me when you thought I was already gone. Do you have any idea how unthinkable that is to me, with how I saw myself for almost my entire life? For what I thought anyone else saw of a fox in the city of Zootopia? Carrots, you didn’t just save me from dying. If you had not come into my life a year ago it barely would have mattered that I had ever lived at all.” Judy sucked in a breath at that, suddenly worried about what Nick’s opinion of himself had actually been back then. He seemed happy and energetic enough when they first met, but had he really been so unhappy? Had he seen his life as meaningless? He continued in that soft rumbling tone, “Judy, I didn’t make that promise because you saved my life. You keep doing these crazy things that make me wish I had some way to repay you for how much better you’ve made my life, and continue to make it every single chance you get without ever asking a thing in return.” Judy looked up, seeing a serious but kind expression on Nick’s face.
“Nick, you’ve never had to give me anything or even say anything. We’re friends! I know you would do everything you could for me.” She tried to be very genuine and firm with this, but her knees were shaking. The things Nick was saying were playing to her newly recognized affection with nuclear intensity. He could not possibly have any idea what this was doing to her.
The fox inhaled deeply, seeming to take a moment to carefully think about what he was saying. There was the chance that the medication was hitting him by now also, which likely made it harder for him to think at all.
Finally, he spoke again. “Judy… when you showed up down there in that … place… risking what you did when you thought I was actually already dead… I realized that I wasn’t just some fox, or just your partner or even only your friend. You cared enough about me to die looking for me. As I looked at the bag you brought with you, knowing that you were afraid, injured, and maybe even trapped down there like I was…”
Nick trembled a little, his eyes closed tight, seeming to suffer through the memory. Judy stifled a squeak of emotion, squeezing Nick’s hand. That shook him out of it enough that he was able to continue, his eyes fluttering open and his voice lifting a bit. “I had been thinking so hard how to repay you all this time for all the things you’ve done. My new life… my happiness, my mother’s return… but thought I had nothing of real value that compared. Until that moment, Fluff. I knew then that had something this whole time you were willing to die for. It was not a hard choice to give it to you.” He smiled at Judy and she whimpered a little, speechless. She dropped her head against Nick’s chest and he put his hand behind it, stroking down her long velvety ears over her back as she softly cried.
She was so confused. Was this just an overwhelming act of friendship? Did he have any idea how she felt? Did he have the slightest clue how much kindling he’d just dumped into that fire? Nick carefully got up, despite Judy’s protests and made his way with his crutches over to the kitchen.
He said sunnily, “I do not mean to make the mood so… somburrrr. Not while there’s donuts.” He wavered a bit. Judy realized the medicine was hitting him, and she carefully got up as well. She wanted to be there to help him to his room, as she knew he was not going to last much longer. He ignored her concern for the moment and pushed a hand into the little white bag with the tiny powdered donuts that he was so set on before. She sighed softly. She had thought about it before and considered it again. It didn’t have to change. Their life together did not need to be derailed because of everything. These were very hard days and there was a lot of emotion behind them, but things would go back to normal, right? Everything would feel the same as it did once they got back on duty and were focused on helping the city. That was normal, and it would be normal again.
She spoke up, laughing a little at her earlier silliness and wanting to help shake the mood a little. “So, to be clear, the vow is a promise, that you will never leave. I’m not expected to change my last name or anything?” She grinned at the fox.
“Nope! You don’t even gotta change your Snootbook relationship status! It’s a big and formal and pretty way to say ‘save a fox, win a prize!’” He sounded exactly like a carnival worker in the way that he said it. She laughed at that, keeping close to make sure Nick didn’t fall over. The bunny smirked to her partner, already feeling a little less shaken by the moment. His humor had a way of putting her at ease.
“Oh? And what do I win?” she asked. Nick held his arms out in a flaring gesture.
“A fox!” He had a little donut in each hand which only made him look sillier. Judy laughed at that even harder. “we’re a real pain actually. You gotta feed us. We like these little white powdery donut thingamabobs. So tasty.” Into his muzzle they went. Nick’s voice was a little raspy, and Judy figured it was probably because he was talking louder and faster. She would have to help him get into bed. A good, long night’s sleep would be exactly what was needed after a day like this. She looked forward to getting back to a casual routine.
“You okay to stand there without falling over for a moment while I take my medicine? Then it’s bed time. You aren’t long for this bag of donuts, Nick.” She grinned at the sleepy-looking fox. He waved her out.
“I’m fine, take care of yourself, Fluff.” He grinned at her as his tail swished side to side. He looked so happy. She turned and headed to the bathroom quickly as she could, really not wanting to leave Nick standing medicated like that but she worried that she might forget to take her medicine as tired as she was otherwise. She took the pill, washed it down and looked at herself in the mirror. The inside of her ears were so noticeably pink. She smiled with a sigh at herself. You have it so bad you dumb bunny, what are you gonna do? She sighed at herself and turned and headed back to help Nick to his room.
Judy turned back around and headed into the kitchen to see Nick with his muzzle turned up, the contents of a bottle of milk disappearing with his long pink tongue curled and pushed into the bottle to act as a funnel. Judy didn’t think anything at first then her ears fell back. She moved into the kitchen.
“Nick, please say that was just regular milk.” She took the bottle and looked at the blue bow her sister had put on it. Why?
“Nope. Sweet. Definitely grade-A bunneh!” Her partner gave a dopey thumbs up. Judy looked with some distress at the empty bottle. Nick was feeling happy and silly about this now but he’d be pretty embarrassed about that in the morning. How shameful. Bunny milk down the hatch again. She sighed softly.
“You know that’s not for foxes, right? Why would you drink that?” She shook her head, trying not to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. She would so hold this one over his head for a while.
“Did you ever drink it?” he asked bluntly, his eyes looking heavy. Judy helped Nick move toward the bedroom. The sooner he was on his back and not likely to fall the more comfortable she would be.
Judy answered, “Yeah, of course. First couple years of my life, like most kits. But I’m a bunny. I’m supposed to.” She grunted a little as she had to be careful not to let him lean on her bad shoulder as he lowered himself to the bed. She helped him very carefully get his bad leg up onto the bed and pulled the covers over him, feeling almost motherly about it. Her poor, busted up fox. She was happy to take care of him.
Nick grunted as he got comfortable, wriggling a little to a position he liked. He spoke with a grin, “Yeah, well, you drank it for two years…” Nick laid back fully and looked up at Judy, “… and you carried a mammal twice your weight more’n a mile upward through the guts of the city with your shoulder out of joint and then kicked a freaking crater in the road in front of Palm Market just to drag me back into the light…” He blinked slowly, reflecting on that, seeming to have almost lost his train of thought before saying softly, “…so yeah - Imma drink the milk. I’ll suck down every drop of it that gets handed to me. I figure I’ll be able to fly if I drink enough.” He looked up sleepily with a grin and Judy shook her head, chuckling at that. What an incorrigible thing he was when he was medicated. Was she that bad? Judy looked down as his eyes began to drift, rolling back as they closed. He murmured softly, “Judy?…” She perked her ears and looked down at him, but he was gone. Sleep claimed him before he could say another word.
The bunny quietly made her way back to the couch, getting her blanket and pillow from the linen closet and sighing as she settled down. Even as the medication made her feel a little sleepier, it was hard to quiet her mind. She intended to tell Nick. She wasn’t going to hide it from him forever, but she was suddenly uncertain of his feelings about her. To make that kind of promise, one that even included the word she wanted to say… he loved her too, right? He had to. But was it the same? She turned a bit, lying on her good side which kept her bad shoulder safe. She’d learned to sleep like that already because it seemed like her whole time on this couch she’d been injured. She took in the lingering scent of the fox as she closed her eyes and tried to close her thoughts.
No matter what came next, there was the promise. The vow. She smiled and sighed softly. The only thing that she feared when it came to telling the fox how she felt… was the thing he just gave an unbreakable vow never to do. No matter how he felt, he was not going to leave her. She would tell him eventually. Still, what more could she even want than that promise?
Judy pushed a little closer into the back of the couch and let sleep take her.
Emptiness. Pain. Loss. Grief. He was gone. Of course he was gone, how could she be so naïve as to think anyone just came back? What kind of fantasies had she been taught as a little kit to think there was any happy ending to a loss as great as that? Did she really think it was possible to pull some stupid fairy tale ending from the void with her wits and her determination? This was the real world and a bunny didn’t just get an impossible second chance like that. As Judy opened her eyes she realized that she was crying. She was consumed by despair and rolled onto her back, wincing a little as she pulled in a deep breath, shuddering with pain that had no real physical component.
It had been a dream, it had to have been a dream. It was too perfect. It was damn near everything she could wish for served up with a big pretty bow. She then sat up quickly, head turning as she gazed across the darkened room to the dining room. It was real. It had been too real. A bow. There had been a bow, she remembered. She stumbled a little, still very much under the physical influence of pain-killers.
She grunted a bit as she moved to the dining room and stood in the door. An empty bottle of milk sat on the table where it had been left. Judy choked out a sob and clung with her one good arm against the door jam. When she woke she had been so sure it was all a dream and that she was alone and hopeless in that dark and quiet apartment. She had been so sure. Just like when she first lost him, she woke a few times and thought the tragedy itself had been a dream, unable to believe something so bad could really happen to her. She shook her head and dried her face. Judy looked at the clock on the microwave. It was 2:17 in the morning. She consoled herself for a little bit, looking at the bottle, looking at the bag of little donuts, looking at the signed paperwork sitting on the counter in the kitchen from the hospital and the now blank marker board sitting near it. Sleeping safely in a room not a hundred feet from her was her fox. He was okay. She got him back. The darkness retreated from her heart quickly.
Judy finally exited the kitchen and went to the bathroom. Having tended to that she got up and headed back down the hall toward the living room to get back on her couch. She felt better. As she left the hallway though, her ears perked at a sound. She turned her head and listened a bit longer. Her heart dropped. It was a soft, whimpering but indiscernible cry from Nick’s room. Judy carefully opened the door. Nick was wrapped around a pillow on his left side, writhing softly, his face buried in it. As she got closer, she could hear what the cry was.
“I’m here. I’m here! I’m here.” He repeated it again and again. Judy gasped slightly, knowing exactly what was wrong. She moved quickly onto the bed, careful for his leg as she wrapped herself against his back.
“Wake up Nick – it’s okay. It’s alright, wake up!” She used a soft voice, not wanting to startle him, but she eventually had to use something a little closer to her regular speaking voice before he jerked a little and brought his face out of the pillow, gasping and waking slowly, shivering noticeably. He turned rather suddenly and pulled Judy somewhat carelessly against his front. Judy guarded her shoulder as best she could so she wasn’t hurt by that. She tucked herself in against his front, finding at some point he’d abandoned his shirt.
The dream she had the morning everything went wrong flooded back into her mind. Held close, bare cream-toned chest, it was hard not to remember that. She gazed ahead at it, seeing his chest rising and falling a lot faster than it had in her dream, the fox quietly recovering from his near-panic. Judy reached forward, unable to resist the draw. Her little grey paw splayed into his lighter-toned fur. It was just as unforgivably soft as it had been in her dream. His heart was racing. He had been so upset.
Nick finally spoke with a shaky voice, “Sorry Carrots… I d-didn’t mean to wake you. I had an ugly dream.” He sighed. “I think the pills mess with my head. I was… I was back in the place.” He wrapped himself around Judy a little more tightly, a quiver running through his body. “It felt so real. I felt the mud on me, weighing me down, I smelled the smell, and I heard the sounds. I thought it was all a dream.” Judy grimaced as he said that, realizing that Nick’s suffering was not over yet. It was more than just their bones that had to heal from it all.
“It’s okay, I wasn’t sleeping, Nick, you didn’t wake me. I haven’t… I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that bringing you home wasn’t real. I… I don’t see you and I forget I found you. It hurt so much when you were… I mean… It’s hard to not feel it right now. It’s gonna take time. For both of us.” She wanted him to know that there was nothing wrong with him. It was expected that there would be some difficulty after what they both went through.
“Carrots I… Can you stay? Just for tonight?” he asked, still seeming a bit breathless. Judy sighed softly with gratitude at not being forced to ask the same thing herself. She would sleep better if she knew that he was okay and right there with her. Besides that, the few times she had slept close to him she had enjoyed it immensely so there didn’t even need to be an excuse as far as she was concerned. It was nice to be near him.
“I was honestly about to ask you the same thing,” she admitted. Nick moved his hand up to the back of Judy’s head, finding her ears pressed back. His hand drew down slowly, caressing them. Judy gave a full body quiver, relishing his gentle touch. She tucked in closer, nose pushed to his upper chest, nearly to his neck. Her mom would blow a fuse if she saw this. Judy just closed her eyes and felt herself already relaxing. This was everything she needed right then.
“I can… I can put a shirt on if you need me to, so you don’t have to lay there smelling fox all night.” He continued to stroke her long velvety ears. Judy felt so sleepy and content.
She murmured softly, “I actually like how you smell, it’s alright. This is fine. I’m comfy now, so I’m not moving.” She had rested facing away from him that time on the couch but there was no way to do that this time. Her left side was injured, his right leg was injured. They had to lay facing one another. Judy put her right paw against Nick’s chest again and stroked down slowly to his tummy and back up again, relishing the softness. Then she felt a soft caress up her entire back as Nick’s tail drew in around her.
It wasn’t just contentment and security this time, it was pure euphoria. She tucked her head in closer and sighed. If she had been even the slightest bit unsure when she made the realization while talking with her sister before, there was no doubt now. She was completely lost in him. At least he didn’t seem to mind being close. She would enjoy however much of this she could have. Judy felt like she could have fallen asleep as fast as Nick had when he took his medicine, but she actually struggled to stay awake just to feel that soft fur between her fingers. With her hand pressed where it was to his chest, she could feel his heart beating, as always just a little slower than hers because he was larger. His hand remained on the back of her neck while she rested there. At first Judy was sure that her partner had quickly fallen back to sleep, but his voice gently broke the silence after a few moments.
“Carrots?” he asked softly.
“Mmh?” Judy barely answered. She felt so relaxed. Actually speaking felt strangely difficult.
“Did you really think I was just marrying you on the spot in front of our parents earlier?” Judy looked up, having to crane her neck a little with the position they were in. He was looking straight forward into the darkened room, but it was too dark for her to really see what his expression was. His tone sounded light and playful so she pouted. He wasn’t going to wreck such a perfect snuggly moment teasing her about her ignorance of fox culture was he?
“Yes, I really did think that could be what you were doing. I mean, I didn’t know, and all we talked about before was how those words were used as vows, so it’s an understandable thing for me to have thought, right?” She caressed that cream fur again, having to force herself to stop. It was so easy to do and made her feel calm and happy.
“Wow. That had to be scary.” He sounded at least a little apologetic.
“Well, no… Not scary, really. I was mostly confused and knew I had to be misunderstanding.” Judy did not want him to think he’d upset her. He hadn’t.
“Carrots?” he asked again after a little bit of time had passed. His voice was very soft, nearly a whisper.
“Yeah, Nick?” she answered just as softly.
Nick spoke after a moment, “I was curious…” Judy tucked in a little tighter, bracing herself for more fox curiosity and listening to him.
“Yes?” she asked. Nick pulled himself just a little bit tighter around the bunny, moving his hand over her back, putting his chin over the top of her head protectively. His voice was a mere whisper when he finally responded, but she could hear within it the expression of critical-level smugness that his muzzle surely held.
“It’s just… I mean… If that’s what you thought…” He paused for a moment before softly asking, “How come you didn’t try to stop me?”
Sweet cheese and crackers.