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H&H2 - Of Help and Hauntings

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The Zootopia Police Department Internal Affairs division has completed its investigation of Case CR 18-74447-ZTP, known in the media as "the Phantasm incident". Panel interviews were conducted with all relevant parties, including Officers Nicholas Wilde and Judith Hopps, separately and together.

The Board is confident that had events proceeded as normal, Officer Wilde would have been cleared of the charges of murdering Dawn Bellwether and William Afton. However, the Director would like to personally acknowledge the problematic nature of the case. Given the severity of the allegations, and the difficulties in fully disproving them, the Board accepts that Wilde's reputation as both an officer and a private citizen would have no doubt been impacted.

The Board agrees that Officer Wilde was the victim of psychological warfare. The tactics used against him by Miss Penelope Earhart were cruel and unusual. In such circumstances, fleeing ZPD custody is understandable, but not justifiable. Proper protocol was not followed, and had Wilde and Hopps left of their own volition, this Board would be forced to pursue at least some avenue of official reprimand.

However, the decision was not undertaken by Wilde or Hopps. Mister Slytunkhamen "Sly" Cooper, infamous thief, has fully confessed to abducting both officers. In an interview with this panel, he made clear he considered Wilde and Hopps useful in his own rivalry with Earhart, while also acknowledging a major factor in his motivation was, direct quote, "funsies". Cooper is willing to take full responsibility for the incident, and this Board is willing to grant it to him.

Thus, in light of Cooper's confession, the complexities of the case, and the outstanding service records of both officers, this Board hereby finds Officer Nicholas P. Wilde and Officer Judith L. Hopps innocent of misconduct. Both are free to resume their assignments at Zootopia Police Department Precinct One at earliest convenience.

We look forward to seeing what you do next.

Undersigned,
Director Raymond Colt, ZPD Internal Affairs


Things had evened out at Precinct One.

The morning sun shone on Nick and Judy as they approached the entrance. She glanced around. "Wow, look at this. It seems so quiet here now."

"Yeah. Quieter than usual, even."

Nick scratched his back, a reflex that was slowly waning. A minor surgery, as quick and painless as surgeries got, had removed the tiny subdermal tracer. As it happened, it contained no explosives. But he was glad they had erred on the side of caution.

They weren't in uniform. Not yet, at least. Judy was wearing a warm purple sweater that matched her eyes and kept out the autumn breeze. Nick was back to his usual green shirt. It felt good.

She smirked up at him. "Think they're gonna make a big deal of us?"

"What? Why would they?" He returned the look as they came to the door. "We're just two coworkers stopping in on our day off. Background noise. Nothing special."

"Uh huh."

They stepped inside and immediately stopped.

"Okay," murmured Nick, "maybe not."

There was a cheer, punctuated by the applause of paws of all sizes. It seemed like all of Precinct One – the detectives, the patrol officers, the civilian employees, even lab technicians – had filled the lobby. Three banners hung from the ceiling. The first read Welcome back, Nick & Judy!, with the second declaring YOU WEREN'T NUTS!

The third was really more of a mural.

"Oh my god!" Nick clapped his hands together, laughing with open joy. "Who – who drew Carrots kicking a ghost?!"

"That was me!" Clawhauser waved them over, and all three looked up to his work.

As a cartoon Nick watched on, his amazement evident from his :O facial expression, a stylized Judy struck her foe. The ghost was round and black and had innocent white eyes.

"I didn't know what it looked like," Clawhauser said sheepishly, "and you guys were super busy so I didn't want to bother you with dumb questions. Did it look scarier? I bet it looked way scarier. Sorry. Dumb idea."

"Oh, Ben, it's perfect. I want it framed." Judy hugged him as tightly as she could. To Clawhauser's surprise and delight, Nick did too.

"We're... sorry," murmured Nick. "For scaring you like that."

"And letting Sly push you around," added Judy, frowning at the memory. "That was so hard to watch. You didn't deserve that at all."

"Guys, guys. I'm okay. I'm a cop, I can handle a criminal trying to hurt my feelings." He beamed down at them. "I'm just glad you're back home."

Nick pulled back. "Well, not quite yet. Carrots and I are taking some time off before getting back to work."

He turned to address the lobby.

"As you know, we've been on administrative leave while Internal Affairs sniffed around. Wasn't as dreary as it sounds, though. Since we had time to kill at home, we recentred our emotional cores by catching up on critically-acclaimed animated movies." He smirked. "Not to brag or anything, but I totally cried."

"He shed like, three tears, total," translated Judy. "But that's progress! We're working our way up to a sob."

"We're just stopping in to do something real quick. This isn't our grand return yet," said Nick. "But I..."

He trailed off for a moment. Judy came up beside him, laying a paw on his arm.

Do you want me to say it?

No, said his smile. I can do this.

He took a breath and went slowly, finding the words as they came.

"All my life," he said, "I've been alone. Kinda by choice, but kinda... not. I tried joining a club with uniforms once before, and..." He chuckled. "Some of you know how that went."

Judy's paw squeezed his arm. He glanced back at her.

"So I was kinda dubious when Carrots, uh, happened. To me. And even when I got used to her, I wondered – was it really a good idea to follow her here? I got the concept. I knew I could use my skills to make the world a better place. But would it work? Would her colleagues ever accept a con-man fox as one of their own? ...Could they?"

He looked around. Took in all the faces watching him.

"Well, after this... After the Phantasm, after how hard you all worked, after so many of you took the time to tell us you were worried or relieved or always knew I was innocent, which," he added with a grin, "I'm choosing to take at face value, not just that you're all saying that now that I'm back..."

A ripple of laughter went through the crowd. He savoured it for a moment.

"After all that... I guess you can. Accept me, I mean. So speaking as a fox, as a hustler, as a murder suspect: thank you. All of you. For the first time in my life, I feel like I'm part of a team." He trailed off, scratching his neck. "Uh. That's it."

There was another cheer, but this one was gentler. Accepting. Judy pressed up against his side as he took in the room, the sea of smiles around him.

"Oh my god," said Wolford, clutching Fangmeyer's arm. "I'm gonna cry."

"You are too cute, Maxie," snorted Sasha, pulling him closer.

The cheer quieted as one figure moved up from the crowd. He loomed over them, and for a moment the room was silent.

Bogo, for once, seemed unsure of what to say.

"I..." He coughed. "It's good the process went smoothly. Colt over in IA is sensible, he tends to always, uh..."

He paused. After a moment, he found the four words he needed.

"You are," he said, "good cops."

Judy smiled. "Thank you, sir."

Nick did too. "Yeah. And if you don't mind me saying, you're a good Chief of Police."

Bogo smiled thinly. "Heh. Don't lie for my sake, Wilde."

The tension broke. Many officers visibly relaxed. The last barrier to Nick and Judy's return was gone.

Bogo folded his arms, but his expression stayed light. "So. Aside from wasting valuable police time, why are you here?"

"I'm sorry, Chief. That's on me."

Carmelita pushed through the crowd, joining the partners. She gave Judy a smile, and then – to his surprise – pulled Nick into a quick hug.

"Nice speech," she murmured.

"Thanks."

She stepped back, speaking at a louder volume. Half to him, half to the room. "I let slip you'd be coming in today... I think some wires must have gotten crossed. I'm sorry if this is all mis-timed."

"Not at all!" Nick grinned. "You guys can just do it all again next time. Oh! Can me and Carrots get this welcome every morning?"

"Show of hands," called Bogo. "Who else is regretting Wilde coming back?"

"You know you love me, Chief!"

Another ripple of laughter, this one dispersing the lobby. As they went to leave, Bogo caught Carmelita's eye. "Inspector."

"Chief?"

"You've been doing exemplary work here. My officers and I would be happy to pick up the slack if you felt it appropriate to take a few days off." His smile was quiet. "Hopps and Wilde still have some vacation left. I'm sure they'd be eager to show you the city."

Judy practically spun on her heel, looking up at Carmelita with bright eyes. Carmelita suppressed a chuckle, glancing from her to Bogo. "I... think I will."

"Good."

They made very, very slow progress out of the lobby. Nick took time to savour everything. Clawhauser beaming up at Bogo. The sound of Max and Sasha laughing. People he had barely seen before shouting welcomes and encouragement and jokes as he passed.

Part of him was embarrassed they were making such a fuss. Most of him loved it.

But this wasn't why they had come in. Soon, Carmelita was leading them to one of the few quiet corners of the building.

"So..." Nick grinned nervously. "Are we–?"

Carmelita sighed, but with a smile. "Yes, Nick. For the fifth and hopefully final time, we are cool. You and Judy and I, we are all cool."

"It's just – when we heard about what happened, we–"

"'Felt terrible, and we should've told you! But without disabling Penelope's explosives first the ZPD would have no evidence, etcetera etcetera...'" Carmelita broke her stride, turning to him. "I know, Nick. Heck, I've been there. Clearing your own name is a delicate science."

She laid a hand on his shoulder. Her eyes were warm.

"But one I knew you two could handle. I told you I had faith in you. And I was right."

Carmelita squeezed his shoulder, and he returned her smile. After a quick wink to Judy, she continued leading them down the corridor.

"Now, Sly, on the other hand..." She shook her head. "I told you I trusted him, Nick, and I suppose on some level I always did. I always will. But when he showed up without you, acting weird... I assumed the worst. And I let out some things I'd been, um. Bottling up."

She smiled to herself as they reached their destination. The interrogation room.

"But I got a hold of myself. And now..."

She opened the door. Sitting at the desk, waiting patiently, was Sly Cooper.

The partners had rarely seen Carmelita so relaxed. "I'm pleased to say he's making a full recovery."

"Hi, guys!" Sly waved. His hands were cuffed to the desk, but the cuffs were light and the chain was long. Nothing like Wolf's pair. Nick assumed he could easily break out if he chose. "Great to see you!"

"You too!" Judy ducked inside, giving Sly a hug. He laughed, returning it.

Nick tried to make his concern seem nonchalant. "Ha ha, kinda weird behaviour for a recent kidnapping victim, Hopps...!"

"Don't worry," said Carmelita. "No-one's going to see or hear this except the four of us." Carmelita was at ease, arms folded, smiling. But she was still Inspector Fox. "You're safe, Nick. I guarantee you."

"Thanks..."

Judy finally pulled back, her eyes shining. "I'm so glad you're okay, Sly."

"Same. I mean – I'm glad you're okay. And myself too. Obviously." Sly coughed. "Let's start over. I'm Sly?"

Judy laughed. "Sorry we didn't visit sooner. This is the earliest we could make it." She nodded to her partner. "Nick's been dying to talk to you."

Nick hesitated in the doorway. Carmelita gave him a playful shove as Judy went to leave.

"I'll leave you to it. But don't worry, Sly. I'll visit too!"

"Glad to hear it. I missed you."

Judy returned to the hall, still smiling. Carmelita looked to Sly. Her face was warm, her voice quiet. "I'll be out here."

He was the same. "I know."

With a nod, she shut the door. Sly gave Nick a smile.

"Great thing about getting arrested – me and Carmelita hang out all the time!" He sighed. "Nothing like a near-death experience to remind me how much I love that woman."

Nick eased into his chair with a wince. "Uh, right. And... are you okay?"

"Sure, sure." Sly was at ease. "I gotta move slow, but the wound on my back is healing nicely. Like I said, I bounce back quick. Funny story! They actually ran out of raccoon blood when they were stitching me back together. Had to switch to tanuki to top me up. It's cool. Rioichi Cooper married a tanuki way back in the day, so I already had some tanuki blood. But now it's not metaphorical."

Nick did his absolute best to return Sly's grin. He could not.

Sly coughed. "So yeah. That's cool."

"I'm, um, glad to hear it." Nick let out a breath. "And... you and Carmelita? I heard about that fight you had."

"Yeah," frowned Sly. "That was... something. I never had to stand my ground and fight her before. It was weird. And bad."

"I'm really sorry."

"You're fine," said Sly. "It's not your fault. Or hers. After everything I did, including disappearing on her for a year... She was gonna run out of patience eventually. She trusts me, but not blindly. Which is how it should be, I guess."

He smirked.

"On the other hand, I was starting to wonder if there's anything that could drive Judy away from you. She's quite a partner, huh?"

"Yeah." Nick's voice was quiet. "Although... don't misunderstand."

"Hmm?"

"You're implying she does have blind faith in me. But that's not it." He met Sly's gaze. "She knows I can hurt her, just like she could hurt me. And she's willing to take that risk. She calculates the danger to herself, and weighs it against the potential good she could do. That's why she stayed with me. No matter how bad things got, she still saw a chance to save me. She's not stupid enough to trust anyone unconditionally, even me. She's a different kind of stupid."

Sly raised his eyebrows. "You know she might be listening, right?"

"Oh, I'm quoting her on that. That's how she put it when we were hashing this out. 'I'm a different kind of stupid, Nick'. Exact words!"

"Huh!" Sly chuckled. "Well... I won't argue."

For a moment, they were quiet. Sly watched Nick with those gleaming hazel eyes. After all that had happened, that spark of humour was as bright as ever.

"So. I could gladly chat all day about the wonderful women in our lives, but I'm curious. What's this about?"

"I, uh... I just wanted to see you. Partly to thank you, of course. I'm not sure I could ever thank you enough. But also to ask..."

Nick looked up. He couldn't match Sly's easy smile.

"Why did you do it?"

"Crime tab," said Sly simply. "The plan was good, but there was no guarantee the ZPD would take you back. I've already racked up a couple life sentences. Adding another to make sure you and Judy are safe just makes sense."

"No, I get that. But... why?"

Nick swallowed. There was a lot he wanted to say, and he had to move slowly to keep it from all spilling out at once.

"I don't know if you've heard any of the media coverage, but – it's bad. People love me and Carrots, so now they hate you. The heartless criminal who kidnapped us as a joke, to use us like pawns in a game. I know how much your reputation means to you, that you're better than other criminals, but now the public thinks you're one of the worst–"

He fidgeted in his chair, his words steadily speeding up.

"And that's not getting into how you're going to jail, and I guess staying there at least for a while? If you disappeared too fast the suspicion would be back on us – and you got stabbed, you got really, really badly hurt, you legitimately could've died, and all this time I've done nothing but insult you and push you away and–" He paused for breath, his voice uneven. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Sly."

"It's okay, really. You don't have to apologize."

Nick took a slow breath, regaining control of his nerves. He met Sly's gaze, searching. "I just... I don't understand. Why would you throw away everything like this?"

"Nick. You do understand."

Sly leaned forward. His smile didn't fade.

"Correct me if I'm wrong. You'd know more about this than me. But that's the thing about being the good guy, right? Sometimes you do something even though you don't want to. It's not fun. It doesn't benefit you. But you do it anyway. There's no reward except protecting other people. The people you need to protect." His expression darkened for a moment. "If Judy was in trouble, what would you sacrifice to save her?"

Nick didn't hesitate. "Anything. Everything."

"There you go, then."

Nick blinked. "But – that just shifts the question. Me and Hopps are as close as two people can get. But you're..."

"What, a thief? A nuisance? Just some guy?" Sly smirked. "I don't know how much clearer I can make this, Nick. I like you. Both of you. And I'm the kind of person who goes all-in on a relationship."

"Even for a fox who can't stand you?"

"Nick, you've met Carmelita."

Nick found himself laughing, caught off guard. Sly chuckled too. They savoured the moment.

Nick wished he could end it there. Crack some conclusive quip, shoot Sly a wink, and leave. But slowly, his smile faded.

"Still. I'm grateful. And sad, too. This must be a lot for you."

"Easy, Slick. Trust me. Nothing's more important to me than the safety of my friends."

Sly reached across the table. His hand found Nick's wrist.

"Nick, take a minute to realize what happened here." His eyes were serious. "Penelope and Bellwether, two of the most dangerous people I could name, teamed up. They put together this plan meant to kill all of us. And now it's over, and none of us died. I'm calling that a win."

Nick didn't pull away from his touch. "As simple as that, huh?"

"Yeah. The Penelopes and Bellwethers of the world – they know we look out for each other, but they don't understand why. And that means it's never a real weakness."

Nick went quiet, processing Sly's words. Sly leaned back, giving him a few moments before speaking again.

"I'm glad you're here. No point doing all this unless I can see you're okay with my own eyes, right? Plus... I wanted to thank you, too."

Nick looked up "You did?"

"Vengeance blackens the soul, Nick."

Sly's smile had faded. Nick felt the grim certainty of his words.

"After so many years, dealing with some of the worst people out there... it can get real tempting to punish them yourself. Give them everything they deserve, then more. Make them suffer." He sighed, eyes closed. "But that's a dangerous game. You're better off remembering what makes life worthwhile in the first place. And you did. As much as I hate Penelope... I'm glad you're the one who stopped her. Everything she put you through, and you still stuck to your principles."

Sly brightened again. Nick had never seen him look quite as warm.

"You're a good man. One of the best I've ever met. Don't forget that, okay?"

Nick wasn't sure what to say. After a moment, he pushed past the hesitation, matching Sly's warmth. "Hey. Don't kill. Don't be killed. That's how the saying goes, right?"

"Yeah. Or it should be."

They held each other's gaze for a moment. Comfortable.

But even now, with all the danger past, Nick's brain had a habit of ruining nice moments.

"But... what about your Gang?"

Sly cringed. "Yeah, that's one thing I really can't pat myself on the back for. They didn't want this. And I went and did it anyway."

"You think they're upset?"

"It's... not the first time I've left them without warning," said Sly. "I don't know if that makes it better or worse. Either way, I feel terrible about it. I really hope they'll forgive me."

"I'd think so," shrugged Nick. "Especially since you never meant to hurt them. The official search for them is still ongoing..." He smirked. "I'll pass on your apology when I'm thanking Specs and Pecs."

"Yeah, I'd appre-" Sly almost started. "Nicknames! You gave them nicknames!"

"Of course. We couldn't have done this without their help. It's the least I can do."

"Really good ones, too! 'Specs' sounds like 'spectacles' or, like, computer specs, and Murray would love that they rhyme..." Sly's eyes lit up. "Wait, wait, what's mine? It was Stripes, right?"

"It was Stripes," said Nick, "but I dunno. That didn't quite stick. Too basic, maybe." He leaned a little closer. "I think Carmelita has the right idea. I'm tempted to borrow 'Ringtail'. If that's alright with you?"

"Nick," said Sly, "you can borrow Ringtail any time."

Nick returned his smile. Something occurred to him, something he once would have resisted tooth and claw. It still had risks. But Carmelita had guaranteed their privacy, and he trusted that.

Sly watched Nick stand, leaving his chair. He assumed their interview was coming to a close.

Instead, before he could change his mind, Nick swooped down and pulled Sly into a hug.

Sly's ears shot up. "Oh my god. Oh my god! You're hugging me!"

"Yeah. I've... gotten better about hugging people. Recently."

Sly eagerly returned it. His grin was massive. "I lied. I actually did do this for a reward, and it's this. All worth it."

"Glad to hear it." Nick pulled back, letting Sly see his smirk. "Save my life a couple more times, and maybe you'll get that kiss."

"We're not counting the one right after you stopped me drowning, right? I thought you were Carmelita, so, do-over."

"Do-over."

Nick stood. It felt like a good place to end. If nothing else, he needed to check if Judy wanted a turn.

"Well, um... thanks. Again."

"You're welcome." Sly's smirk was soft. "And those aren't empty words. I'm really glad you're okay."

Nick lingered at the door. Unsure of what to say, he went with what felt natural. "I'll be seeing you, Ringtail."

"Yeah." He smiled. "Catch you later, Slick."

The door clicked shut. Sly sat quietly, letting out a small sigh of satisfaction.

"...Ha ha, I'm going to jail."


For a city like Zootopia, even villainous inventors came and went. In the weeks after the murder investigation, life continued.

The media buzzed with the 'Phantasm Incident'. Pundits sang the praises of Nick and Judy, and denigrated Penelope and Sly in almost equal measure. Both were imprisoned, put under heavy guard before their trials. If she were still alive, Dawn Bellwether would have been unspeakably insulted by how often the media treated her actual, genuine murder as a vague footnote.

Carmelita's temporary office at Precinct One turned out not to be so temporary. She soon settled into a natural rhythm; working alongside Clawhauser, Fangmeyer and Wolford by day, laughing with Nick and Judy by night, and keeping a very close eye on her favourite prisoner at all times. Carmelita never settled in one place for too long. But she found herself definitely getting used to Zootopia.

The ZPD de-escalated back to its usual operations. Its officers were safe and the culprits were detained; the main ones, anyway. The other two members of the Cooper Gang had never surfaced. Weeks passed without any incidents on the ZPD's perimeter of the city, and most officers assumed the elusive thieves had somehow slipped by them. Carmelita said nothing.

After hearing of Sly's arrest, Honey assumed she wasn't getting the payment she'd been promised. But, days afterward, she received a large amount of cash, in unmarked bills, via a dead drop; exactly as all monetary transactions should take place. This money funded her new podcast, 'The Wools Among Us', chronicling her attempts to awaken the populace to the ovine conspiracy encircling them. She also gave her thoughts on movie trailers.

True to form, Ruby was more flattered than upset that Nick and Judy had chosen to break into her bar. True to form, they still felt they owed her. They agreed that henceforth, Red Like Roses could brand itself as THE SECRET HIDING PLACE OF NICK WILDE AND JUDY HOPPS! This satisfied Ruby, because it was a cool tagline and great advertising, and it satisfied her long-suffering landlady, because loudly declaring that would ensure Nick and Judy could never secretly hide there again.

Mayor Toriel returned from her conference to find her city in disarray, her living room window shattered, and her family very badly trying to cover up the specifics. One firm conversation later, she established three things. Asriel's safety was always paramount; the Mayor's family was absolutely not supposed to abet criminals; and she was proud of them for doing the right thing.

Asriel, wise beyond his years, suggested omitting the part about the loaded gun. Asgore, fearing armed mercenaries far less than his wife, agreed.

Scar's small, sad cabal of followers soon joined him in prison. When asked for his thoughts on Zira's arrest, Mufasa Kifalme gave no official comment. However, less rigorous publications claimed his initial reaction was to murmur "Who?"

No-one mourned William Afton.

For neither the first nor last time, Wolf O'Donnell disappeared into the night. All the ZPD could establish was that he was no longer in Zootopia, leaving for parts unknown.

Gary and Larry continued to make every day a treasure.

Nick had survived. In fact, he did more than that; he reclaimed his life and then some. His job, his reputation, his nights of well-earned sleep all returned to him. His colleagues presented him with a brand new phone as part of welcoming him back, a sturdy model with impenetrable security. He enjoyed showing it off to his mother at the weekly meal they shared.

Everything taken from him was returned. His partner had never left.

Judy suggested to him that it might be time to see a therapist – not just for the Phantasm, but for everything before it. Everything after. Nick's instinct, as ever, was to avoid help. But he had come to realize that instinct belonged in the past. And so, when Judy's voice was joined by Carmelita's, then his mother's, and then even Bogo's – just with the simple statement that the department could cover the expenses – Nick went. To disclose what Nick discussed in those sessions would be a violation of patient confidentiality. But he would be the first to tell you that his recovery was going well.

Despite everything, he was still Nick Wilde.


H&H2: Of Help and Hauntings

Starring:

Jason Hateman as Nick Wilde
Mevin Killer as Sly Cooper
Ginnifer Badwin as Judy Hopps
Grey Gryphyn as Carmelita Montoya Fox

Talented and wonderful artists:

Main headshots – RadicalRobo
Nick and Judy image – TrashasaurusRex
wasn't even commissioned or nothing and went ahead and drew rad art anyway - SecretMellowBlog

With Apologies To:

Lin-Manuel "The Tomcat" Miranda
Andy "Mandopony" Stein
Jeff "Faunus Rights" Williams
toby fox [hey, that works by itself!]
With lyrics via Man on the Internet [that one doesn't]
Joss "Lion King 2 Writing Credit" Whedon
uh... Savlonic.
Phil "Brother Bear" Collins

and most especially
Neil "Ghost in the Form of a Mongoose" Cicierega


Well, here we are. April 9th. Exactly three years after the first chapter of  'Of Heists and Hustles'  hit the internet.

Don't you love it when things sync up?

I spent most of those three years dreaming up this story – yes, including the time I should have been spending actually writing the first one. I have a chronic habit of thinking of sequel concepts. And yet this is the first sequel I've ever actually produced.

I gotta say, I'm really happy with it. And I'm definitely very, very happy that people have enjoyed it. Every single review I've gotten on this story has been super affirming. I was worried there wouldn't be much of an audience for this fic – by which I mean there wouldn't be an audience, period – but I've been happily proven wrong. I can't thank you all enough. You've made this story more than worth the effort.

If you're wondering why I just listed a bunch of musicians, they're the sources for my chapter titles! In particular, I'd like to give a big shout out to Neil Cicierega's 2016 album Spirit Phone. It's a fun, spooky time that's a huge source of inspiration for me, both for this story and in general. I definitely recommend it.

It's my custom to take a break from long fics after finishing one, so don't expect much from me in the next few months. But before you ask: yes, I have plans for a third instalment. If you're anxious to see where things go from here, more is on the way! Slowly.

Can you imagine? Can you picture someone chucking Sly into a remote, depressing location for dramatic effect, and then ending the story, and then never producing a follow-up? Can you envision that? Can you believe that's a possible timeline on which we could exist? A nightmare. Not worth thinking about.

Well, that's enough rambling from me. In conclusion, thank you for your lovely support, and I hope you enjoyed this 100,000 word episode of Scooby Doo.

Happy April.


The bars slammed shut behind him. Sly surveyed his new home.

There wasn't much to comment on. It was a cell. The walls were dark grey. The bars were a different dark grey. The bed, if something so ugly could be called a 'bed', was a third dark grey.

He sat on it, instantly confirming it was as uncomfortable as it looked. He tallied the positives. The guards had seemed receptive to his offer to watch Penelope, judging by how politely they had told him to shut up. Lionheart had welcomed him with open arms, so he already had a seat at the cool kids' table. (Prison was just adult school, right?) And this orange jumpsuit was only mostly terrible!

All he had to do now was wait.

He sat there. He tried and failed to look out the tiny, tiny window. He sat there. He rattled the bars, just for fun. He sat there again. He sat there.

He sat there.

Sly smiled into the darkness. "...I've made a huge mistake."