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Mercy Profound

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In the end, it’s her voice that snaps him out of it.

Mostly because it’s so unfamiliar to his ears. None of her bright enthusiasm or her soft kindness. Instead it’s just terror –unbridled terror – that assaults his ears and pulls him out of his chemical-induced rage.

The worst part is that she’s shrieking her throat raw in terror of him.

Nick pulls his jaws away from her neck, the taste of metal sticking to the roof of his mouth. On the ground, Judy sucks in a strangled breath and when she exhales, blood gurgles out of her lips.

Nick swallows. It proves to be a bad choice because he feels her blood run down his throat. It makes his stomach churn.

“Carrots?” he croaks, taking two steps backwards to see what he’s really done.

Judy’s pink flannel is stained red from her neck down to her chest. She has one paw pressing hard on her throat to stop the bleeding and her other arm is feebly attempting to push herself backwards, away from him. She doesn’t move an inch, of course. Her eyes are wide, pupils blown from fear that he can barely see the purple of her irises, as she stares up the ceiling.

“Carrots – Judy,” his voice cracks at the last syllable and he carefully takes one step forward as Judy stops trying to get away from him. Her eyes’ frantic blinking is slowing down as the blood loss pulls her into unconsciousness.

“Shit,” Nick curses, moving beside her, “Shit – Carrots. Judy, don’t – don’t fall asleep. Don’t…”

She doesn’t respond. Her eyes are going glassy and her vision is still fixed at the ceiling. Which is good. He doesn’t know how he’s going to react if she looked at him instead. (Possibly with the sting of betrayal in her eyes, because she trusted him. She trusted him and he was too late to switch the bullets and he’s Nicholas P. Wilde, promise to be brave, loyal, helpful, trustworthy, and he’s none of those things when he’s just nearly killed the one person on Earth who thought he was worth saving.)

He slowly gathers her up in his arms and sets her on his lap as he sits down. “Hang in there, Carrots, hang in there,” he says. She looks like a limp ragdoll as her weight tips on one side, making her face bury itself into his stomach. Nick still doesn’t hear anything from her other than her heavy breathing.

He takes off his stupid tie and his shirt, folding it up to press it against Judy’s neck. Her paw obediently falls away as he pushes it to get better access to her neck. He doesn’t want to think about what that implies for her coherent state.

Above them, Bellwether is too caught up in her victory, laughing like the sadistic bitch that she is. He thinks he can hear the sound of sirens off in the distance and if he has to climb out of here by his bare claws to make sure she gets caught, he will. He will make sure she’s going to rot in a cell for the rest of her life and then he’s going to laugh at her.

Judy’s breathing against his midriff is getting shallow.

“Hey. Hey, Carrots.” He bends his body so that he’s face to face with Judy, “Stay awake, okay? Hold on. You’ve always been a stubborn one, right? Don’t start being compliant now.” He presses the now blood-stained shirt harder on her wounds and his free hand pulls her closer to him.

“Listen, bunny, I was planning on turning in my application again, you know? I mean, I’m crafty and stuff so maybe – maybe the ZPD can use my smarts and all.” He stops. Sniffs. When he speaks, he feels like nose getting stuffy. “But who’s supposed to boss me around if you’re leaving me, huh? So – so don’t…” He grits his teeth and growls, “Don’t you dare die on me, Hopps. Don’t you dare fucking die on me before I get to apologize.”

Bellwether is still above them, yelling, but he can’t hear her words with his blood rushing in his ears, and all the better.

Savage or not, he’s going to tear that little lamb apart.

But Judy’s still hurt, and whether he likes it or not, it is his fault. So he keeps as still as he can, one arm wrapped tightly around her and the other trying to keep her from bleeding to death.

That’s how they find them, after Bogo’s seen the gun in Bellwether’s hands and arrests her – Nick cradling his friend’s body close to him like it’s the most precious thing he has in the world.

And maybe it is.


 

It’s a good thing she kept her carrot pen with her and recorded Bellwether’s little speech, otherwise he would have been put in the slammer faster than he could blink. Chief Bogo is…strangely patient with how Nick relays his story and presents the evidence. He thinks it has something to do with the way he refused to let Judy go when the paramedics came, and how he had tried to barrel into the ER chasing after her. He would have, if it weren’t for Clawhauser and the others pulling him back. The cheetah had arrived in the hospital the moment he had heard that Judy was down and had calmed Nick.

He definitely owes the guy a box of donuts.

The antidote is made two days after Bellwether’s arrest, and even though Nick doesn’t show any signs of being savage anymore, he still gets a shot. He doesn’t mind as much as he thought he would.

Judy still hasn’t woken up. The doctors say that this is normal because of the amount of blood she had lost (if they hadn’t brought her on time, she wouldn’t have made it, they say) but Nick still looks at the clock impatiently, still wakes up in the middle of the night to check up on her, still stares at her heart monitor like it’s going to tell him when she’ll be up and laughing with him again.

Assuming she doesn’t completely hate him.

He hasn’t left her side since she was admitted, save for when he was given the antidote shot. The hospital staff, too exasperated with his worry-induced stubbornness, has allowed him to stay with her. Chief Bogo has already contacted her parents, and they were going to be arriving in Zootopia anytime now. He’s not sure they’d be as open to the thought of a fox staying in the same room as their daughter as the rest of the people in the building. Not to mention said fox was the one who hurt her.

Still. Nick’s barely eaten and has been sleeping at her bedside for two nights. The doctors say she’s going to be fine, but he keeps on looking at her bandaged neck and thinks What if she’s not going to be?

He doesn’t say it out loud, but he thinks everyone can hear him by the pitying looks they shoot his way.


 

Judy wakes up in the middle of the night, while Nick’s almost drooling on her bed from the fatigue of the last few days. The paw nearest to his face twitches and the soft noise is picked up by his ears. Coupled with his high-strung brain running on concern, it’s all it takes for him to be sitting up straight and searching her face for anything.

“Carrots?” he whispers. It comes out half-choked. “Judy?”

Judy blinks up at the ceiling first, before her head slightly turns towards him and her eyes meet his. He expects her to flinch, to scream, to try and get away from him.

Instead, her lips weakly quirk up in a smile.

Nick feels his heart squeeze.

She doesn’t say anything. Instead, her paw finds his and gives it a soft pat before she’s out like a light again.

Nick doesn’t sleep for the rest of the night, instead watching the rise and fall of her chest as she breathes, making sure she’s still there.


 

As he expected, her parents are wary of him. And as much as it pains him, he leaves the room a few minutes after they enter, making sure his movements are slow and unthreatening. It isn’t that hard, considering his body is drained from the on-and-off sleep he’s had. Judy doesn’t see him leave the room. She’s asleep.

He drags himself across town and down to the bridge where he sleeps under. There’s a familiar van there, and he’s never been more thankful to see Finnick’s long-suffering face when the smaller fox opens the door and huffs, “Get in.”

They both spend the night under the bridge. Finnick doesn’t say anything other than a few jabs at how horrible Nick looks. He doesn’t ask about Judy and he doesn’t ask about why Nick’s come back under the bridge again. Nick thinks that he might have been waiting under the bridge for a while since Nick called him about Judy.

He stays there for a few days. Finnick goes out sometimes, and Nick stays in the van, catching up on some well-needed sleep and eating whatever Finnick manages to force him to. There’s nothing on the news about him attacking Judy, just about Bellwether’s arrest, or at least that’s what Finnick says. For all of a hardass Chief Bogo seems, Nick thinks he’s the one pulling all of the strings in the background. And he’s thankful. Maybe he’ll be less of a sarcastic ass the next time he meets the bull.

One day, when Finnick comes back from wherever he’s come from, he tells Nick to get dressed. Nick gives the smaller fox a raised eyebrow, of course, but Finnick says nothing and instead hops on the driver seat and starts the car up. When Nick just stares at him, confused, he grabs one of his bigger shirts and tosses it at Nick.

It’s a tight fit, but Nick puts it on anyway, just so he doesn’t aggravate Finnick any further.

They pull up in front of the hospital.

“What?” Nick dumbly breathes out, staring up at the huge, silver and white building. Beside him, Finnick draws his jacket closer and grunts. He walks towards the front doors with a gruff, “Come on.”

It takes Nick a few minutes and one glare before he follows.

Finnick leads them both to Judy’s room. Nick can see her parents sitting beside her bed and to his relief, she’s awake and talking to them. Her mother is patting her paw and she stops when she catches sight of Nick and Finnick outside the window. Her husband follows suit, and after a few seconds, so does Judy.

Her eyes land on Finnick first and then to Nick. She smiles and beckons him to come inside. He can see her parents frown, but they don’t say anything.

Finnick nudges him again, before grabbing hold of the hem of his shirt and dragging him into the room instead, muttering, “Why do I have to do everything around here?”

They don’t stop until he’s right beside Judy’s bed, just across her parents. Too close for him to feel their glares starting to burn holes through his head, but Finnick’s not done yet, as he pushes Nick until he nearly falls over Judy’s bed. Afterwards, he leaves the room with his hands stuffed in his pockets and grumbling under his breath.

Nick manages to right himself and stands there for a few seconds, breath matching the beeping of Judy’s heart monitor as their eyes meet. She doesn’t say anything (and for a horrible moment, he doesn’t think she can because he might have destroyed her throat) and Nick swallows, feeling the phantom taste of her blood down his throat again.

But then Judy smiles as best as she can at him again, and then turns to her parents. She puts a paw on his arm and says, “Mom, dad…” Her voice is raspy and guilt squeezes Nick’s heart again. “This is Nick…he saved my life.”

And just like that, the air is knocked right out of his chest.

He blinks and alternates looking between her and her parents. She explains how they were caught by Bellwether, and that she shot at them, and how Nick saved her from bleeding out.

She doesn’t mention about how Bellwether shot Night Howlers and that Nick was the one who made her bleed out in the first place.

Her mother’s face softens, although the wariness is still present. She gives Nick a respectful nod and he can barely find the coherency to nod back. Her father still looks at him with distrust, but he figures he can’t please everyone. He grabs a nearby chair and sits down beside her bed, listening as the conversation turns from him and back to her parents.

When her parents go out for lunch (and they give him one last glance before they leave), he turns back to Judy and asks, “Why did you tell them that?”

Judy smiles at him again, that fond smile that he just can’t understand, and says, “Because you did save my life.”

“No, I –” he pauses, eyes darting around the room for a moment, and then, “Why did you lie for me?”

Judy looks down for a moment and then exhales slowly, breath misting on her oxygen mask. “I didn’t,” she says, “Whatever you did, that wasn’t you. That was the Night Howlers. That was Bellwether.”

He opens his mouth, but she shakes her head. “I don’t blame you, Nick,” she says, “I don’t.”

He clamps his jaw shut and swallows again. His stomach churns. Prey was supposed to taste good for them, right? Why does the memory of her blood in his mouth make him want to hurl?

He doesn’t say anything until her parents come back.


 

She gets released from the hospital about a month later, and she doesn’t go back to Bunnyburrow.

According to her, the Chief says that whenever she was ready, she could come back to work anytime, because despite how the Chief acts like, he knows that Judy’s the best cop on the force.

She goes back to her dingy little apartment, chauffeured by Finnick, Nick and her parents (with Finnick once again complaining why he was roped into all of this). Her parents look a little horrified at the state of her apartment, as well as the loudness of her neighbors, but she insists on staying. Nick does a very good job of staying outside the room for the entire time they’re there.

When her parents finally leave after a hug and a kiss, he still stays outside, watching them disappear down the stairs and hearing her father’s “I’m telling you Bonnie, it can’t be safe with that fox there…” and he snorts. He rolls his shoulders and leans back on the wall just across her open door. Of course they’d never trust him, not even when their daughter lies to their face and says he’s the one who saved her, and he doesn’t blame them. Because he wouldn’t trust himself around Judy Hopps.

“You actually can come inside, you know.”

His ears twitch as he looks into her room. She’s sitting on her bed, hands on her knees and staring at him. His eyes trail down to the bandages around her neck.

“No thanks, Carrots.”

Nick.

He almost finds himself stepping away from the wall and past her door, but he just tilts his head from side to side, working the kinks out of his neck. He pulls his hands out from his pockets and crosses his arms.

“I think I’ll pass.” He glances around her room. “I think you might actually catch something in there.”

She snorts and rolls her eyes. “What, is the great Nick Wilde scared of a few creaky floorboards?”

“Better safe than sorry, Carrots.” He closes his eyes and shrugs.

When he opens them, Judy’s expression has morphed to a slight frown. “Nick,” she starts; bites  her lower lip. “What happened really wasn’t your fault, you know.”

Nick’s shoulders tense and he stares at her for a solid minute before he pushes himself off of the wall and brushes imaginary dirt from his shirt.

Judy starts to stand, “Nick –”

But he holds up a paw and shakes his head. “I’ll be alright…Judy,” he says, and sees her go stiff in shock from the unfamiliarity of her name rolling off his tongue. That gives him enough time to walk away as fast as he can, going into a full sprint once he’s out of the building. It’s cruel, he knows, because he can hear Judy try to come after him once he’s on the floor below hers.

He really doesn’t want to explain to her that it does feel like everything was his fault.


 

“You know, you’re not going anywhere with this,” Finnick says as they sit by one of the fountains at the park. It’s about seven in the evening and he is lucky enough that Finnick is entertaining him right now. It’s a little pathetic, the way everybody’s pulling things here and there out of pity for him, but he can’t care less.

He grunts and huffs. “Going anywhere with what?”

“With throwing yourself a ridiculous pity party,” Finnick says, nearly ripping off the pop tab of the can he’s holding. He throws his head back and takes two huge gulps of his soda. “She doesn’t blame you so I don’t know why you think it’s necessary to blame yourself,” he says, “She was the one who nearly bled to death, Nick. Pretty sure she calls the shots on forgiveness here.”

“Yeah,” Nick says, absent-mindedly. He turns the can in his hands over and over. Finnick drinks down the rest of his and crushes it. Then throws the crumpled metal at Nick’s arm.

“Ow!”

“Listen to me when I’m talking to you, you idiot,” Finnick growls, ears flattening on his head. “This? This is ridiculous. You would have starved to death a few weeks ago if I hadn’t been forcing the food down your throat and now you keep beating yourself up over nothing.”

“I nearly killed her, Finn.” Nick’s shoulders sag and his paw stops turning the can over. He looks down and sighs, “You – you weren’t there. I…I was going to kill her.” His eyes drift from his own car to Finnick’s crumpled one on the ground. “She trusted me, Finn. And I nearly killed her.”

Finnick is silent for a moment, ears going up again, staring at him. Then he grabs the soda in Nick’s hands and pops it open – it fizzles a bit, a small amount of bubbles escaping up the surface – and then he drinks that down too, not stopping until he’s finished. He lets out a breath once he’s done and crumples the can up like the previous one. He smacks his lips. “But you didn’t kill her, did you?”

Nick frowns and turns to him.

“You could’ave,” he says, “But you didn’t.” He hops off his seat on the bench, picks up his previous crumpled can and then tosses both towards the nearby trash can. Both of them land inside the bin, making two successful plunks as they hit the bottom. “That’s what matters to her. That should be what matters to you too.”

Nick blinks. Once. Twice.  And then his mouth pulls up in a grin. Not one that reaches his eyes, but it’s not a forced one either.

“What did she do to you when I was staying in your van, Finn?”

Finnick’s ears flatten again and he looks away. “Wouldn’t stop callin’ me though she was hoarse. Asked for you.”

Nick’s grin widens. Finnick starts telling him to shut up, but instead he throws his head back and laughs. The image of Judy calling Finnick 24/7 makes his heart clench in guilt again, but it’s better to laugh at his friend’s expense than throw himself a pity party again. Like Finnick said, he’s going nowhere with this.


 

Her smile is wide, buck teeth showing, when he’s at her doorstep the next day. She’s still got a few broken bones from the Night Howler case and while he knows she’d love to be up and about the precinct, she also knows that her parents would throw a fit, and so would he.

At the back of his mind, the thought of her being tired of the entire incident prods at him.

“Just came to check up on you,” he says. Judy is still smiling anyway, excitedly beckoning him inside. He chokes down his worry and doesn’t tell her to be careful before she rips her stitches. He does come inside.

From behind the wall just beside her bed, there’s a loud shouting match that has Nick’s ears up and his eyebrows knitted in confusion. Judy waves him off. “They’re always like that, but you get used to them.”

“Always?”

“Always.”

“How do you get any sleep around here?” he asks, and then sees the dark shapes under her eyes and regrets doing so. Of course it’s not all sunshine and forgiveness, even if that’s what Judy tries to show him. He wants to backpedal as fast as he can and run again, never mind Finnick  yelling at him all over again.

Judy shrugs. “You just get used to it.”

They sit on her bed for a few minutes, staring at whatever they can but each other. Nick, on purpose, and Judy because she looks like she’s exhausted herself with her brief burst of excitement earlier.

“Are you sure you don’t need to catch up on some sleep?” Nick turns to her, and she sluggishly turns to him in return, eyes taking a second to focus. “You…don’t look too hot, Carrots.”

“I’m fine,” she says, waving a paw, “I’m fine. I just – I’m fine.”

Nick looks at her droopy ears and tired eyes, and listens to the guilt in his gut. “You need to sleep.”

“No!” Judy says, then winces and puts her paws to the bandages on her neck. Nick reaches out too, and he doesn’t miss the small flinch she does and it halts him. Judy looks away. “I am a little tired.”

Nick nods. “It’s okay, I’ll just go – ”

“No, I – ” Judy turns back to him again. That look of guilt should not be on her face. Nick really wants to be sick. “I just – stay, yeah? I…I’ve got a laptop here somewhere. My parents brought it. Do you maybe want to watch a movie?”

No, he wants to say, No I don’t want to watch a goddamn movie stop looking so guilty it’s my fault not yours what is wrong with you why are you tripping all over yourself painting yourself with guilt that doesn’t belong to you –

He looks at her tired eyes, the paws on her neck, and the bandages, and he says yes.

They watch the movie on her bed, backs pressed to the wall, computer rested on half of each of their laps, sharing the earbuds of Judy’s headset. Halfway through the film (that Nick can’t remember what about, when his vision is going glassy and his brain goes back to the taste of Judy’s blood sticking to his tongue), Judy succumbs to sleep and her head falls on Nick’s shoulder. It jolts him to reality and he spends a few seconds just staring at her, so calmly and stupidly falling asleep on someone who’s nearly killed her, but he can’t really blame her because she’s so fatigued.

He pauses the movie and removes the earbuds from their ears, then maneuvers Judy to lie down on her bed before he closes her laptop and sets it on her desk. Miraculously, her neighbors are quiet now, and he stares at the wall for a minute, waiting for them to start up again, but they don’t.

He turns to her door, briefly contemplating leaving, but something gnaws at him – it’s his fault she’s in this state, and what, friends of all friends, he’s going to be rude and just leave her when she’s fallen asleep in the middle of a movie because she’s getting nightmares from being eaten alive by her friend?

He grabs the chair by her desk instead and leans it against the window. He stays there until he falls asleep too.


 

Nick’s ears immediately perk up when he hears the rustle of sheets – adrenaline shooting through his veins, his eyes dilate in the dim light, taking in his surroundings and re-introducing him to earlier proceedings. He came to check up on Judy, they watched a movie, she fell asleep, he let her have the bed, he stayed –

He turns to aforementioned bed, where Judy is sitting up, one paw pressed to her chest as she stares wide-eyed at nothing. She’s breathing hard.

Nick stays very, very still.

He watches as Judy gathers her breath, eyes slowly focusing. She registers the blanket draped over her and lifts her head. She turns to her desk – the laptop is there – and then she frowns slightly. Then she notices him sitting by the window, with the sunset as his backdrop, making his fur even redder than it was before. (It should be like blood, he thinks, and then tries not to hysterically cackle.)

“Nick?”

“I’m here,” he says, softly, unthreateningly. Finnick says he shouldn’t blame himself but it’s hard with guilt staring at him in the face.

Judy sighs. Out of relief or something else, Nick doesn’t know.

“Nightmare?” he asks. She flinches. After a few seconds she nods.

He crosses his arms and nods too, stiff. “I’m sorry,” he asks.

“It’s not your fault, I’ve told you before.”

“It is.”

“It’s not.”

“It is.”

Judy stares at him, tired, and looking like she’s going to cry, but she balls her paws up into fists and says, “It’s not.”

Judy Hopps is never a quitter and Nick Wilde loves her for it. But maybe not right now. Maybe now, Nick just wants to accept what he’s done and wants her to know that sometimes she’s wrong.

I was the one who – ”

“It was Bellwether who shot you.”

“Even if that’s the case, I didn’t switch the bullets fast enough – ”

“Forget that! Everyone messes up every once and a while, and you still pulled through and saved me even though you were compromised!” She hisses as she presses a paw to her neck again. Nick hopes they’re not bleeding. He scoots forward and reaches out, then aborts the motion when he remembers how she reacted earlier.

“Judy.”

“I’m fine,” she says. “Just – just tired.”

Nick’s fingers curl in towards his palm, resigned and tired, and he drops the limb altogether. “Okay,” he says. “I should probably get going.”

She doesn’t stop him as he gets up and slowly pads over to her door. He flicks on the light for her since it was getting dark.

“Nick,” she calls out just as he gets the door open. She doesn’t say anything until he turns back to her. “I do forgive you, you know.”

His chest feels like someone just ran a knife through it. He forces his lips to turn up, walks out and closes the door behind him.


 

“I don’t know what else to say to you other than that you’re an idiot,” Finnick says.

Nick groans and rolls over so that he’s lying on his back and facing the open doors of the van. “Good morning to you too, sunshine.”

“She called again, asshole,” Finnick says, “And honestly, if you two can’t get it together, I will kick you out.”

Nick sits up. “Finn.”

Finnick pulls the van doors close hard enough to make the entire vehicle jostle. Nick winces.

“Listen here, Wilde,” Finn says, then sits himself down across Nick, frowning furiously. It’s a little funny on him, considering he’s so small. “I know about you wanting to be a cop. I know about you being best friends with a cop. And you know, I let that slide, because you always were a goody-goody.”

“Hey – ”

Finnick pulls on one of his ears. He hisses.

“Don’t interrupt me,” Finnick says, “But I am getting sick, and fast, of you wanting to crush yourself under the guilt of almost biting your bunny’s head off because you were drugged. Your bunny’s got brains enough to acknowledge that. You have to as well.”

Nick sighs. “Finnick, you don’t understand. She’s my best friend, and as you said, I almost bit her head off.”

“You didn’t.”

“I could have.”

“You were drugged. And – shut up before I hit you – as much as feeling guilty over something like this is completely normal, refusing to be forgiven and refusing to start over even when you’re given a chance is fucking stupid, Wilde.” Finnick crosses his arms. “You’re guilty. You fucked up. I get it. Hopps gets it. She says she doesn’t blame you and wants to move on anyway. And you keep on wanting to hold onto your blame. And what’s more? I’m not your fucking therapist.”

Nick watches as Finnick’s ears flatten. “I know you feel shitty, but at least try to work it out with Hopps before I punch you in the face.”

Then the smaller fox stands and marches over to the boxes of pies they’ve got in the corner of the van.

Nick blinks. “Good pep talk,” he mutters.

“Shut up, Wilde.”

A few minutes later, Finnick throws a pie (thankfully still in a box) and a phone at him. Nick rubs his forehead and lets out another hiss before picking up the pie and phone, not bothering to ask Finnick what warranted the violence. He gets out of the van in the interest of not being brained with more objects.

He tucks the phone in his pocket and keeps the pie under his elbow, not really hungry. The city is dark as he wanders it, and he watches as buildings turn on their lights. A few people give him suspicious looks, especially with the pie under his arm, but he ignores them and instead runs Finnick’s speech through his head.

He walks and walks and walks. He sees two kids in ragged clothes ducking into an alleyway. One of them, a little goat, pauses when he finds Nick looking at them. The kid steps in front of his companion, a young sheep, protective.

Nick looks at them for a moment before looking down at the pie he’s got. He hands it over to them.

The kid flinches when he moves, but looks at the pie in surprise.

“Take it,” Nick says.

He’s given a suspicious look before the kid snatches it out of his paw, lightning fast.

Nick stuffs his paws in his pockets and watches as the children give the pie a reverent look. The kid glances at him again, suspicion less blatant, but the sheep looks at him with wide eyes and says, “Thank you.”

Nick inclines his head down. “You’re welcome.”

He feels their gazes on the back of his neck as he continues to walk. It’s half past nine when he finally feels tired and sits himself on a bench. It takes less than two minutes for him to think about Judy again. He sighs.

Maybe Finnick is right. Judy had forgiven him, but – it still doesn’t sit well with him. He almost killed her. She shouldn’t…shouldn’t…

Out of everyone Nicholas Wilde has met, Judy Hopps is the one person who is most in tune with herself. She doesn’t hide under an act of confidence like Nick; she doesn’t hide under a veil of anger like Finnick.

Nick has no right to dictate what she decides.

He chuckles. He really is an idiot.

The phone in his pocket rings and he pulls it out, wondering if Finnick is calling. The number isn’t registered, so he doesn’t know who it is, but it takes him a few seconds to realize that this Is Finnick’s phone that he’s holding.

He presses the answer button and holds it up to his ear. “Hello?”

There’s a pause on the other end. “…Nick?”

Nick almost drops the phone. “Judy,” he says. This is probably why Finnick threw the thing at him in the first place, knowing Judy would call.

“Hey, um – I was going to call Finnick to ask how you were. Uh…are you okay? I mean, you didn’t look too well when you left…”

Nick turns his options over in his head. He could end the call, just end it here with no goodbyes and give it back to Finnick. Maybe he could tell Judy they got disconnected when they meet next time. If they meet next time. He frowns at the thought.

He really doesn’t want to avoid Judy. Even if he does still feel guilty over what happened.

That, or he could just…talk. It’s easier when he doesn’t have to see her, and even though that makes him feel a little horrible, he really does want to talk to her. Apologize. Maybe get her to yell at him and get mad at him. The only situation he sees her getting mad at him for this is if he refuses to talk to her, so.

He sighs.

It’s either cut off all contact with her or talk.

He thinks about Finnick punching him in the face. It’s not that much of a threat over the thought of losing Judy’s friendship.

“…Nick, you there?”

He takes in a deep breath and says, “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m here.”