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A Reason to Dance with You

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Nick’s ears flipped back, as his eyes focused on the small spray can of Fox Away. And, the seemingly terrified rabbit that was holding it. If Nick had to guess, she’d never used the repellant before. There was about a 50-50 odds that she hadn’t turned off the locking mechanism.

But then, he also wasn’t sure if that model had one. . . He didn’t like any of those odds. But, as he looked into the female rabbit’s eyes, he felt less terror and more confusion as he saw her fear. Nick didn’t understand it. Why was she so scared?

Sure, he knew what it looked like. He knew it looked somewhat weird, a mammal walking around an apartment. holding a DVD player. But. . .

Did he truly look that. . . dangerous? That ‘criminal’? That they had to point that thing at him? He didn’t even know what the male rabbit was going for in his overalls, as he glared at the fox with one paw in one of his pockets. Maybe he had something? Maybe he didn’t? Either way, the angry look did little to hide the fact that the rabbit was terrified of the fox.

He winced, as he remembered the last rabbit who went for repellant. . . But, he didn’t want to relive that today, as he quickly racked his brain on how to de-escalate the situation. Before he ended up sprayed.

“Lets. . . Stay calm now. . . I’m going to put the DVD player down, okay?” He murmured, as he leaned down and carefully set the DVD player on the ground. He watched them carefully as he did, but that did nothing for their hostility as he again lifted his paws in surrender. In his own house, but, that was grief for another time.

“Oh, you’re not getting out of this, criminal. Call the cops, Stu!” The rabbit he assumed was Mrs. Hopps called to the other, who suddenly sprang into action, and pulled a phone out of his pocket. Oh boy. . .

Nick slowly shook his head. “Um. . . You probably don’t want to do that. . . Mrs. Hopps, right?” He asked, as one ear flicked forward. The two rabbits seemed to pause, their mouths slightly agape as they looked at the fox. As expected, they seemed pretty surprised that the fox happened to know their last name. “And, you must be Mr. Hopps, right? You’re Judy’s parents?”

The male rabbit, dubbed ‘Stu’ by his wife, slowly lowered the phone. Thankfully, because having to explain this to his compatriots at the ZPD would be fairly embarrassing for everyone involved. Especially for them, since Nick was on the lease for the apartment, and owned the property in question.

“How do you know Judy? What’re you doing in her apartment?” The male rabbit asked, voice laden with uncertainty. But, the wife still had that Fox Away trained right at him. For some reason, considering her expression had changed to surprise. He decided it was best to keep his paws in the air, lest she get a little trigger happy.

Nick nodded slowly. “My name’s Nick Wilde, and I live here with Judy. I’m her roommate.” He responded calmly, as he watched the two rabbits exchange looks.

“Wait. . . You’re Nick?” The female rabbit chimed in, one brow raising in surprise. “Judy told us you might be here, but we never would’ve thought you were a fox.” She responded, sighing in relief as she lowered the offensive cylinder, and moved a paw to her chest as she took in a few deep breaths. “Oh, sweet cheese, that’s a relief.”

Still. Regardless of the bunny’s actions, Nick kept his paws up, as he looked between the two rabbits calming themselves down. He was glad they were calmer, but he still didn’t trust them. Also, he was trying to keep himself from frowning.

Yeah, sure. What a great relief for them. The ones who didn’t have a potentially dangerous chemical weapon pointed at them. Sure, great. He was so glad for the two of them. . . But, their comment also brought up a better question.

How the fuck did they get in? “So. . . . Did Judy give you a key, or. . . . ?” He questioned, as the two rabbits focused their attention back on the fox. Nick had to resist the urge to snort, as he watched their demeanour change before his eyes. Somehow, their faces had transformed into happy ones, as they smiled at him like they didn’t just threaten the fox.

“Oh, we met her at the train station! She said she had a few more errands to do, but, she gave us the key so we could come in and relax. Sorry about that, by the way. My name’s Stu, and this is my wife, Bonnie.” Stu responded gesturing to his wife.

Nick nodded slowly. “Nice to meet you, Stu and Bonnie Hopps.” He muttered, his paws still held above his head as they slowly made their way further into the apartment. So, Judy had met her parents, knew they were coming, and decided not to warn him?

Okay, that was unfair, his phone was still charging in his room. . . For all he knew, she’d done her best to warn him. It might have been his fault.

“Oh, put your paws down, it’s okay! Hey, are you the same fox that she worked with on that big case?” Stu said as the two rabbits began to look around the new apartment, like tourists. Nick slowly lowered his paws, as he nodded towards the two of them.

Nick had only heard tales about Judy’s parents, and their history with foxes. But, he now believed what Judy said about them. And, he saw where Judy had gotten it from. . . “Yes. . . I’m also her partner with the ZPD. . . I’m going to pick up my thing again, so you know.” He spoke quietly, as he slowly lowered himself down to pick up the DVD player.

He still watched the two rabbits, as Stu wandered into the kitchen, and the mother walked into the living room. But, at the mention of the ZPD, they both turned to face the fox again. “Really? That’s pretty. . . Nifty? How long has that been going on?” Stu responded curiously, as Nick slowly walked towards the kitchen and the rabbit, clutching the player carefully.

Nick shrugged as he approached Stu. “Officially, we started last week. . . You can relax on the couch if you want. I’ll have the TV set up again soon.” He offered, hoping to distract the rabbits as he side-stepped Stu into the kitchen. began looking in the drawers for a set of pliers.

“Oh, no worries! We just wanna look around first, check out Judy’s new apartment.” Stu responded, as he quickly thumped his way out of the kitchen and into the living room. Nick, on the other hand, quickly found the pliers and started carefully pulling the broken piece out of the socket.

If he was a good host, he’d show them around. But at the moment, Nick would much rather stand to the side and watch the two rabbits from a distance. They went from threatening him to being nice fairly quickly, which amazed him. Without apologizing, he did note.

He needed a bit of time to calm himself, or he might be snappy with them about that. Therefore, he was going to fix this damned DVD player, like he planned to. And right now, that was taking most of his focus.

He needed to be careful, not to bend or break the connection part of the player. He leaned down, getting his vision right on the target, and slowly began to wiggle it out. At first, it didn’t want to move, as expected considering its corrosion.

But, little by little, it slowly made its way out. As it finally slid free, Nick grinned happily and tossed the broken bit into the nearby trashcan. And that’s when he heard the two rabbits opening a door, and he felt his ear twitch. They weren’t looking in his room, were they?

He turned around and saw Judy’s parents standing in front of Judy’s room, luckily, as they let the door swing open. They turned to Nick, smiling at him as his brows furrowed slightly. “Is this Judy’s room?” Bonnie asked, pointing to the open door in front of them. Yeah, that may have been a question to ask before opening doors. . . Nick frowned and picked up the DVD player.

He walked to the door of his room and nodded to the two rabbits. “Yeah, that’s her room. This room’s mine, and the door at the end there is the bathroom.” He responded, more upbeat than he felt. But, Nick was nothing if not a good actor.

If they were going to be here anyway, he was probably better off not being too standoffish, or rude. Besides, being friendly towards Judy’s parents could be beneficial. “I’m just grabbing some things to finish putting the living room together. Then, when you're done looking around, we could chat, or watch something in the living room if you like?” He responded as he opened the door to his room. Anything to discourage their further inspection of his home.

They nodded in response, as he smiled at them. Nick was a sly fox. . . He’d be able to convince them that he wasn’t bad, right? It wasn’t the first Hopps he’d converted, after all. “Sure! That sounds fun! You can tell us how you met Judy, n’ all that stuff.” Stu responded as he looked at his wife with a nod and a smile.

Did they mean that. . . Although, did it really matter? It was up to Nick to make them like him by the end of the day, and he was sure he was up to the task. Maybe even before Judy got back. . .

How fun it would be to have her parents on his side?

 

Nick quickly found a replacement cable for the DVD player in his room. Power cables were the kind of thing that he always kept handy. You never knew when one might crap out, or if you might find a new-to-you electronic that was missing cords.

And, since he was there, Nick did check his phone charging on his nightstand. Four missed calls, one voicemail, and three texts, all from Carrots. As she said in her final text, ‘Don’t say I didn’t try and let you know’. She did do her best, it was just too bad that Nick didn’t have his phone on him.

When Nick re-entered the living room -after closing his bedroom door securely-, the two rabbits were still in Judy’s room, taking a look around and enjoying the view from the large floor-length windows that their daughter enjoyed.

It was quite a view, he had to admit. Just one he didn’t want to see early in the morning.

But, the fox immediately busied himself with finishing up the entertainment system. He plugged the DVD player back in and routed all of the cords behind the stand all neat and tidy-like. While he finished up with that, the two rabbits finally emerged and checked out the rest of the apartment.

Luckily, they decided not to try and take a look in Nick’s room. At least they seemed to pick up on that social cue and left his door closed.

There wasn’t anything interesting, or incriminating (that was visible) in his room. He wasn’t that type of guy. But still, that was his private place. It was where Nick could do whatever he wanted. Walk around naked if he wanted to. Scratch and itch yourself, with front or back paws.

He spent a lot of time living on his own, he sometimes missed the ability to declare clothes entirely optional for a day. But, then again, Judy’s company was something he was willing to give that up for. . . Besides, his room here was almost as big as his entire apartment before, anyway. Walking around naked in there was good enough for him.

Either way, he was getting distracted, as he plugged the DVD player into the surge protector behind the tv-stand. With that, everything should have been put back together. Hopefully, that meant that he would never have to take this thing apart again. As he hit the on button on the DVD player and the TV, he could hear the two rabbits chatting in the kitchen about how small it was compared to theirs, but very ergonomic.

It was small to those two, technically. This apartment wasn’t designed to feed hundreds of people. The DVD player lit up, and the TV screen switched to the brand’s title page as everything slowly whirred to life.

Nick smiled, as he looked at the now-organized stand. He’d even managed to put all of his and her videos away in the drawers on the side, making the entire living room look good. . . Okay, maybe he should have done this sooner. And, Judy was right. But Judy was always right, wasn’t she?

His ears flicked to the side, as he heard the two rabbits approaching. He scooted over on the ground, turning to face them and get out of the way of the TV. “Well, it’s all back together now. . . Is there something that you wanted to watch?” He asked, smiling at them.

“Oh, nothing really, dear. . . But, I am curious about how you and Judy met if you don’t mind me asking.” Bonnie spoke sweetly, as she plopped down on the couch with her husband. Well. . . He should’ve expected they would have questions about him.

“Yeah! How did you meet our little Jude? That must be some tale, huh?” The boisterous Stu added as he gave his wife a nudge with his elbow, smiling. And then, the two rabbits levelled their gaze at the fox, smiling at him.

He smiled back warmly, as he nodded slightly. But inside, he was panicking.

Why couldn’t they just watch a movie, and chat idly? Their story. . . Didn’t exactly begin very positively. And considering they already thought he was a criminal only a few minutes ago. . . “Well. . . I don’t know what Judy might have told you, but, I met her well before I joined the ZPD. I was a. . . street vendor at the time, and. . . She was seeking my help in finding one of my customers, who’d gone missing. I was one of the last people to see him, on the day he disappeared.” Nick spoke, spinning the truth slightly.

He didn’t need to tell them about the legal or illegal aspects. . . Right? “Oh? What were you selling?” Stu asked, grinning widely.

Nick nodded. “Pawpsicles. A hot ticket item, in Sahara Square. Yeah, we sold a lot back then. . .”

 

The fox did his best to regale them with the tale of his and Judy rather curious first partnership, choosing to leave out some of the more ‘questionable’ bits of the tale.

They didn’t need to know about the time that he swindled her out of $20. How he was a lying, cheating fox. Or. . . How he called her entire town a bunch of carrot farmers. How he said she was going to fail. And how she’d never be a real cop. . . . But ‘at least she was a cute meter maid’. . . He was a shitty fox back then. Come to think of it, he owed her an apology for that.

Instead, he talked about how he helped her find out where he’d gone, and how he’d used his ‘connections’ to find the person who last saw Emmett Otterton, Mr. Manchas the Limo driver. He left out his antagonistic attitudes towards her the entire time, though. He hated himself enough for that. But, he did make it clear that the rabbit’s wiles were what convinced him to help, as much as he could.

He made it quite clear that their daughter was an incredibly good officer, and got his cooperation even when he wasn’t sure about helping the ZPD at first. Then, he focused on the good points of his time with her. When he stood up for her job, despite the oppressive attitude of Chief Bogo.

That seemed to enthrall the rabbits. The idea of a fox, standing up for their daughter, was something that they seemed not to expect. And that’s just what he leaned into, as he talked about how he was the one who realized that traffic cameras might have the answer, and how with her connections at city hall they were able to access those cameras.

Then, their daring journey to the old asylum, and how they snuck into it and uncovered the Mayor’s cover-up operation. The exciting part, about how they triumphed, and Judy managed to beat all expectations and solve a crime that the rest of the ZPD couldn’t.

And then, he walked right into the biggest issue with this tale, as the two eager parents asked. “What did you do next?” They were practically sitting on the edge of their seat listening to this epic tale.

The press conference. . . And Nick didn’t know how to spin that. . . Very well. . . Especially on Judy’s behalf. Oh well, one more lie. “Well, she did the press conference, and after that, the ZPD started treating her as an officer, so. . . she went to her job for a while, and things happened in that, I guess, because she left the force. But then, one day, this very familiar rabbit showed up, and asked for my help again.” He muttered, before he shrugged with a grin. “And, we found out who was really behind it all, and took down our second mayor. . . Kind of bad stats for mayors in Zootopia, really.”

They nodded. “Yeah, but, what happened between you two after the press conference, and before that? Our Judy’s not one to drop her friends like that. . . You two were friends, weren’t you?” Bonnie asked, nodding with a grin. “I’m sure you two must’ve hung out at least a few times before she came home to us?”

Judy’s parents were not going to let this go, were they? Sure, Nick did see Judy a few times after the press conference. . . He ‘saw’ her, as in saw her and ducked into the nearest alleyway or alcove. As far as he knew, she’d never seen him.

“We. . . weren’t that close at the time. It wasn’t until after she came back to Zootopia and apolo-“ He paused, as he realized the mistake held made. The two rabbits were looking at him, ears drooping as they looked at him with sad, and concerned expressions. Did they. . . Oh no.

“Judy told us she hurt a good friend when she came home. . . That was you, wasn’t it?” Bonnie spoke, nodding slightly towards the fox. Instinctively, his ears fell, as he tried to think of a way to salvage his lie. But, there wasn’t going to be one.

. . . Did she really think he was a ‘good friend’, then? Maybe she meant Ben? No, Nick knew better than that.

He nodded. “Yeah. . . That might have been me.” He looked down at his crossed hind paws and poked at the carpet a bit. “But, she apologized, and we solved the case, so, it all worked out I guess.” He continued, although it was clear that the formerly ‘happy storytime’ vibe had turned.

For about a minute, there was just silence between them. Stu looked at his wife for a bit, with a sad look, before he cleared his throat to speak. “Well, I’m sure that Judy meant it when she apologized. She was pretty destitute over what happened when she came back home. . . . Nick, I want to apologize for how we’ve treated you, too.”

Stu began, as his wife nodded along. “Yes, we both do. . . Judging you like that was wrong, and speciesist.”

Nick lifted his head, as he looked between the rabbits. They looked. . . Pretty sincere. Late was better than never, he guessed. “Its. .” He began before Stu Hopps raised a paw.

“Oh no, it is not okey-doky, we ought to know better than that. Whether Judy didn’t tell us you were a fox or not, we came into your home. We should have asked at minimum. Sweet cheese and crackers, Bon, we threatened him! In his own home. . .” Stu shook his head. “I ain’t got no excuse, we ain't got no excuse for that.”

Bonnie nodded for a moment, before shaking her head. Then, she grabbed her purse and opened it as Nick leaned back cautiously. “This thing belongs in the trash. I’m so sorry Nick. Do you. . Have a trashcan or something handy?” She asked, as she pulled the spray out again and held it gingerly before her. As if she hadn't just wielded it against him.

Nick raised his paws. While he was glad for the gesture. . . He didn’t like the dangling. “Just. . . Put it on the table, I’ll throw it in the trash later. . . Thanks, for apologizing-”

Stu shook his head. “Now, don’t even think of forgiving us right now, we gotta earn that. Ever since Judy talked to us, we’ve been tryin’ to do better. But. . We got a lot of years of stupidity to work through, and that’s our burden, not yours.” Bonnie dropped the cylinder on the table, disgusted.

“I’m so sorry for the way we barged into your home, too,” Bonnie added, as she shook her head. Stu nodded along. “Bunnies are very open about our own homes, but, we should’ve asked you before we stomped around like that. It wasn’t fair to you at all.”

Nick nodded along, agreeing with the sentiment. At least they were acknowledging what they did, earnestly. He guessed he could understand their mistake, considering their upbringing. Foxes were way less social and open than rabbits were, in his experience. Normally, Nick never trusted apologies immediately, especially over something like this.

But. . . The distress in their voice, the way they looked and talked about what happened. . . The earnest rejection of their attitudes. It reminded him of another Hopps’ apology. And, he had a feeling it wasn’t just them covering their ass. Most would be begging for forgiveness, and for people to move on.

“Thank you for your apologies.” He began, as the rabbits raised their fingers. Yeah, he understood what they were going for. “Don’t worry, I won’t forgive you yet. . . But, I still accept your apologies nonetheless.”

“Still, we’ve got to prove ourselves before we deserve forgiveness. And I want you to be a part of that if you’re willing. If we ever do anything that upsets you or is offensive, I want you to catch us and point it out. I want everyone to feel comfortable policing our words if it’ll help us be better bunnies. Better mammals. . . We need to be better.” Stu reiterated as he looked at his wife. They brought their hands together and nodded to one another.

“Thanks.” Nick murmured, not sure what else he was supposed to say at that point. Should he try to change the subject? Maybe? For a moment, he let the silence hang, as the two rabbits looked at one another with. . . Strange expressions. Then, the two rabbits turned back to him with somewhat eery smiles.

“And. . .” Stu began, his voice filled with earnest. “I want you and Judy to know that you can be open with us about your relationship. We support it, all the way.”

Nick nodded instinctively. “Thanks. . .” And then, his brain caught up with the words. “What?”

“We think you’re a really nice mammal. . . and if Judy’s happy, we’re happy.”

 

Judy arrived back home a little later than she had wanted, as she walked up to the apartment door. But, Nick would have been able to survive, right? With her hands occupied with bags, she balanced on a foot paw and twisted the door handle open with the other as she wondered what might be beyond the door.

It wasn’t like she didn’t try and get a hold of Nick, after all. When she gave her parents her keys to the building, she had immediately done her best to try and contact him. But, for whatever reason, he never answered.

He was probably busy and didn’t look at his phone. But, that was to his detriment, this time. He was supposed to keep his phone on his person at all times as a police officer, just in case the ZPD needed to call in additional officers for something.. And now, he was suffering the consequences of her parents, who she was sure had a lot of questions for the fox.

The door swung open, and she walked through with her hands full of groceries. Immediately to her left, she saw her parents seated on the couch, chatting as a show played on the television. And there, sitting off to the side on the floor, was a fox with a very. . . concerned expression? He looked like he was being tortured, or something, as his green, wide eyes instantly locked with hers.

Well, she did try and warn him. Her parents were pretty chatty. “Hello everyone.” She called out happily, as she put her bags down by the door. “Are we getting along?” She added as she carried the grocery bags into the kitchen. She needed to put away the perishable stuff, especially since they were going to need to cook a little extra tonight.

If Nick survived an hour with them, he’d be able to survive beside them for the next few minutes, right? “Oh, I think we’re getting to know each other well, don’t you agree, Nick?” Bonnie asked, as she turned and looked at Nick while Judy began to put away the groceries.

“It started weird, but apparently that’s just a Hopps thing. . . I’d say it’s gone well since then.” Nick answered with a quick nod. What did he mean about it starting weird? Well, then again, she imagined it might’ve been pretty awkward to not know your roommate’s parents were visiting. . . Again, she did try her best.

“That’s good to hear, bud. And, we’re sorry about that, again. . . I’m glad you’ve put up with us, askin’ you all these questions about the city ‘n all that.” Her father responded happily. That ‘sorry’ made Judy a little concerned. . . But, calling Nick ‘bud’? They must have been getting along. That pleased Judy, as she finished putting away the last of the perishable groceries. The rest of them could wait until after their parents went off to their hotel they booked.
Despite their earnest attempt, Judy was not going to allow them to sleep on their couch. For a whole lot of good reasons, including that it would have to be Nick’s decision as well.

And she was pretty sure that Nick didn’t want to have to deal with his roommate’s parents in the morning. Getting them dropped on him in the middle of the day was probably enough. Judy had told them when her days off were, but somehow she didn’t expect they were asking so that they could show up on their doorstep.

If she had known, before they texted her from the train station, she would’ve warned Nick well in advance. She put the rest of the stuff on the counter and walked towards the living room, smiling. Her parents were still chatting with Nick, who still seemed pretty unsettled for some reason.

As she approached the couch, intending to take a seat with her parents, she spotted out of the corner of her eye a familiar pink object. Whatever it was, it wasn’t there this morning, what could it be? She paused in front of the couch and turned to look at the small cylinder sitting out in the open on the table.

Fuck. Instantly, she felt the anger build to a boiling point as she reached down and snatched the Fox Away off the table, and turned to her parents with a growl. “Seriously!? What are you two doing!? Have you been threatening my roommate?! I can’t believe you two!” She shouted, as she turned towards the kitchen, and angrily chucking the cursed cylinder across the room and into the trash can.

Somewhat anticlimactically, she missed, and it clattered between the trash can and the fridge. But, the point was made as she turned back to face her parents. The two rabbits were holding their paws out towards her, as they frantically tried to calm her anger. “W-wait, Jude, before you go off-“ But, it was too late for that.

She took in a deep, anger-fueled breath, as the two elder rabbit’s ears flopped down. Judy wasn’t going to scream. . . But, they weren’t going to mistake her for being happy anytime soon. “How could you? Were you leaving that on the table as a threat? What has Nick ever done to you?” She asked, as calm as she could manage at the moment with her paws on her hips. They never even met Nick before, how could they do something like that?

That was the reason that Nick looked so terrified when she came in, wasn’t it? Did they just plop it on the table, as some kind of warning to her friend? ‘Don’t try anything’, or something like that. Her father stuttered for a few seconds, trying to come up with an answer for the angry rabbit. Judy had already decided that no excuse was going to be good enough for her. No, her parents were-

“Hold on there, Carrots,” Nick called from her left, her head snapping to face the fox. He was leaning towards her on his knees, hands out between her parents and her, with a concerned expression. “They were throwing it out, fluff. It’s all just a misunderstanding. That’s why it was on the table. . . .After we talked for a bit, they felt bad for having it, and. . . wanted to throw it out.” The fox murmured, as he locked his eyes with her and slowly nodded.

She glanced back to her parents, who were nodding along with what the fox said. . . That story seemed pretty cobbled together to her. Judy looked back to Nick, one ear cocking out to the side slightly. “Is that everything that happened, Nick?” She asked, with a slight nod.

If he’d already lied once. . . Would Nick tell her the truth if she asked? Either way, she would be able to get the truth out of him later, at least. “Yeah, it is. . . When they first came in it was a little tense; they didn’t expect a fox was your roommate, naturally. But, after we cleared that up, we bonded for a bit. They wanted to throw it out of their own accord, and they put it on the counter. . . That’s the truth.” He responded, turning to smile at her parents with a small nod.

He didn’t seem to be lying. . . Although that was probably a pretty big half-truth. But, at least it was a story coming from Nick. She sighed and shook her head as she turned to face her concerned parents. “Alright, but, still. . . It shouldn’t have mattered what species my roommate was. . . I’m very disappointed in you two.”

Her parents nodded. “We know, honey, and we know better and should have done better. . . We’re so sorry, to both you and Nick.” Her mother murmured, as her father nodded along. Well. . . At least they seemed genuinely sorry to her. But, Judy wasn’t the person that they needed to apologize to.

She turned on her heels, to face the fox who was still sitting on the floor. “It’s Nick that your apology is important to. . . Well? Do you think they have done enough to forgive them, Nick? What else should they do to make it up to you?” She asked as she pouted towards the fox. Judy knew how her parents could be. Whatever the other side of that truth was could be anything from slight comments to slurs. “Not that you have to forgive them, of course.”

Nick nodded slowly. “They seem to sincerely want to do better, so, there’s that. . . I’m accepting their apology. I know how hard it is to quit bad habits.” He responded as he frowned at Judy. “I. . . Made some generalizations myself in the past, which I deeply regret. I’m still working on making up for that myself.” The fox murmured, as he looked at the three rabbits. Her parents nodded in return, relieved.

“Thank you, Nick. I promise, we’ll do better, and we’ll prove it to you. And, to everyone.” Her mother spoke, as her father grunted in agreement.

“Yeah. We might still be dumb bunnies, but, we’re going to do our best to be better.” Her father chimed in, as they looked back at their daughter.

Judy had moved her paws from her hips, crossing them in front of her as she listened to them talk. Well, if Nick was accepting the apology. . . She could always ask him after they left, to see what really happened. Then she’d decided if she was going to forgive her parents or not.

But. . . For now, there wasn’t much she could do. She took in a deep breath and sighed heavily. “Alright. . . Well, I’ve got your promise to do better now, at least. And you guys had better get rid of all of your speciesist ‘protection’ garbage at home, too.” She asserted as they nodded in response, smiling.

“Definitely Jude, it’s all going in the bin when we get home,” Stu added. “We owe it to every fox and predator.”

Speaking of, Judy needed to remember to toss that spray out later. . . But, she should probably take this opportunity to change the subject. Otherwise, the entire night would be fairly tense. “So. . . What have you guys been chatting about? Has Nick bribed you into trying his amazing carrot cake yet?” She asked, looking towards Nick with a grin.

He tried to frown at her, although she could see the hints of a grin in the corners. As much as Nick probably didn’t like being outed, he also loved cooking for people. She made an urgent trip to the grocery store after her parents showed up f

“Ooo, carrot cake?” Her mother chimed in, looking between her daughter and Nick with a big smile.

Nick sighed, shaking his head as he stood up slowly. “I’ll get the pans out. . .”

 

“Thanks for letting us come by Judy, it was really great to see you. And, it was great to meet you, Nick!” Her mother spoke, as her parents stood at the threshold of their open apartment door. They had an early train in the morning, so they weren’t going to be able to meet up tomorrow. But, at least they’d had several hours and a good meal before they left.

Judy held the door open, as Nick stood by the kitchen and waved to them with a grin. “Oh, and thanks for the carrot cake, Nick. That was some damn good cake, sweet cheese and crackers.” Her dad chimed in, as he double-checked his pockets.

“Why, thank you so much. . . . I’m sure your family is going to enjoy that recipe.” He responded cheerfully. Judy shook her head, as her parents slowly made their way through the doorway. She suspected her mother would pester him for the recipe, and she was right.

But, Nick was very willing to give, making amusing comments about how all the rabbits wanted to know his cake recipe. He was such a juvenile fox, it was amazing to think he was older than her. “See you soon.” She murmured, as she slowly closed the door behind her parents.

But, right before it could close fully, a paw landed on the other side, and her father stuck his head back through. He looked slightly. . . worried. “Uh, hey, Jude, before we go. . .” He murmured, her sensitive ears flicking forward at the sound.

Was he trying to say something without Nick hearing it? Judy’s brows narrowed, cocking her head to the side as she leaned in towards her father. “What’s up?” She asked as she looked at her father with a curious expression.

“Is. . . he your boyfriend?” Her father asked quietly, a slight nervous sound in his voice.

Wait. What? Judy shook her head. “No?” She murmured, surprised. Why did her father think that?

“C-cause, if he is, I just wanted you to know we’re okay with it. You don’t need to worry ‘bout hiding it from us, we support you. We asked him, but, he didn’t say nothin’.” Her father continued in his hushed voice, as Judy frowned.

“Thanks, Dad, that’s nice and supportive of you. . . But, we’re not dating. He’s just a friend.”

Her father’s eyes narrowed for a second before he nodded again and looked away. “Okay then. . . Well, see ya, Jude.” He finished, ducking out as she slowly closed the door behind him.

“See you later. . .” She murmured, shaking her head with a light snort. Did her parents think that she’d try and keep that big of a secret from them?

As she turned around, to see a smirking fox, she giggled quietly. Was that why he looked so. . . Concerned when she came in? That would make a lot of sense, wouldn’t it? Her parents could be so loud about such things. She could imagine the poor fox, being riddled with questions about whether or not they were dating.

And, knowing her parents, they never really believed the thought that someone might not be attracted to their daughter. It was flattering, in a lot of ways. If a little overbearing for whatever poor soul they cornered.

Judy wanted to know what they’d chatted about, and how Nick dealt with that. But, as her smile faded a bit, she had a more important question hanging in her mind. “So. . . What happened when they got here, Nick?” She asked gently, as she walked up to the fox.

His smile faded a bit, as he crossed his arms. Yeah, that confirmed he was only telling her a part of the story. . . “It was a little tense. . . That is the truth. But, I’m guessing that answer isn’t going to satisfy you, is it?” He spoke, raising a brow at the rabbit.

She shook her head, as she looked up at the fox. He was right, she wouldn’t accept that. She wanted to know what really happened.

“They kind of. . . thought I was a thief when they came in. Your mother pulled the fox repellent out, and they were about to call the cops when I explained everything to them. . . It’s not-“ He started, as she sighed angrily, abruptly turned and thumped angrily over to the couch.

She fell into it with another frustrated sigh, as she shook her head. “I can’t believe it. I’m so sorry, Nick. . . I never thought they’d do that. .” She grumbled, sadly very unsurprised with what her parents had done. They did try and give her a fox taser less than a year ago.

But this time, it wasn’t just her parent’s mistake. Judy was the one who let them come there. She gave them the key. Why didn’t she go with them? Or, maybe had them join her while she shopped? But then, would that have fixed the problem? Or just hidden it.

Judy’s ears turned towards the sound of the fox, as he slowly padded his way behind her, and leaned over the couch cushions to her right. She turned and looked at the fox, who had crossed his arms and was resting his head upon them.

“Hey, it’s not your fault, Judy. . . Everything turned out okay, right? I didn’t get ‘repelled’, your parents ate my cake, everything’s fine.” Nick spoke cheerfully, as he smiled at her.

Judy sighed, as she rolled her eyes at Nick. “I’m sorry, Nick.” She murmured with a sigh. The fox snorted and vaulted over the back of the couch.

He landed on the cushion deftly, shaking his head as he settled into the couch properly. “Their actions are not your fault, Carrots. I know I might be a little more lackadaisical about this than you, but, that’s because you didn’t get to see their passionate speech, their disgusted rejection of their actions, and your mother dangling that spray like a rotten carrot.” He spoke whimsically, obviously attempting to cheer her up. “I’m serious, I’m okay, fluff.” He spoke whimsically, as he smiled at her.

A single laugh escaped at the image of her mother revolted at the spray. Given that she was all for it before, that was quite a switch. But, the problem wasn’t that Nick was ‘okay’, it was the fact that he went through it at all. . . But, she slowly nodded, as she decided it was best to follow his desire to drop the subject. “. . . So. . . What was with that look you gave men when I came in, then?” She asked as she smiled at him.

She had her suspicions. . . He smirked, rolling his eyes. “Just about the same thing your dad asked you at the door.” He teased, eyebrows waving up and down. It didn’t surprise her that her father underestimated those adorable dark brown ears.

Judy chuckled, shaking her head. “Yeah, I’m sorry about that. . . My parents can be pretty overbearing about that. If I spend more than a few days with a person, they jump onto the whole ‘date’ train pretty quickly. How long did it take you to convince them we weren’t in a relationship?” She asked, imagining the poor fox trying to explain himself to her parents.

They worked together, they were friends, and they lived together. It wasn’t hard for people to imagine that there was something more afoot here. Her parents would’ve jumped on that line of thinking in a second.

However, they were wrong. Nick snorted. “Well, I thought I’d managed to get through to them shortly before you got here. But, judging by what your father said at the door. . .” Nick murmured, as he frowned. Her father underestimated a fox’s ears. “. . . I’d say I failed miserably.”

Judy nodded. “I’m sure you tried your best, Nick. They can be pretty persistent about that.”

Nick chuckled, shaking his head. “You’re telling me. . . . After the first hour, they almost started to convince me that we were in a relationship. It was kind of trippy, I gotta say.”

“Ha, yeah. It’s as if they were taught the ‘Reed Method’ of interviewing, eh?”

The fox shrugged, as he picked up the TV remote. “Yeah. . . They had a very compelling argument, you know. . .” He teased, as he popped open the Netflocks app. As extensive as his movie cabinet was, it had its limits. And, they were paying for the good internet for a reason.

“Har-Har, slick. You’re so funny. . . What’s new on Netflocks?” Judy rolled her eyes, as Nick clicked his way through the menus.

“I saw an interesting trailer for a whacky anime. . . If, you’re up for that?”

“Oh, definitely! I love foreign animation.”

 

It was the middle of the night, and Nick Wilde was washing his hands in the bathroom, absentmindedly. The lights were still off, and his eyes were barely open as the hiss of the water sprayed onto his fingers.

His night addled brain told him it was only about a minute since he’d slid out of bed, and thumped his way to the bathroom. He told himself it was just going to be a quick run in, out, and back to bed.

Truth was, Nick had been plagued with a run of bad sleep tonight anyway, and by now, was barely operating on autopilot. Nick wasn’t sure, but it felt like past midnight. Possibly. He didn’t want to know, honestly.

Maybe it was something he ate. Maybe he was getting sick. Or, maybe it was because of everything that happened today. Between getting fox repellant pulled on him, and then being ‘nicely’ interrogated by her parents, it was certainly an exhausting afternoon. Then they sat up for a few hours and went to bed, and now he was here.

But, maybe after his little bathroom break, he would be able to get some sleep. He stared at the sleepy-looking fox in the mirror, as he turned the taps of the sink off with a sigh. He didn’t work tomorrow. He could sleep in, and get up past noon.

Unless that rabbit woke him up sooner, of course. . . She loved her early morning exercise. But, that was a problem for the morning. Right now, he needed to do his best to salvage the night.

He turned to the door, and lazily thumped his way to it. He swung it open and began to quickly walk his way back to his room, his eyes sealed shut.

At this time of night, the moon streamed into the house from the living room window. And, on a full moon like tonight, it was way brighter than Nick wanted to deal with. It didn’t matter though, Nick knew the route to his room like the back of his-

Thud.

He felt his lower half run into a soft unidentified object, and he immediately stopped in confusion. He slowly blinked his eyes in the intense moonlight, trying to make out the object in front of him. There wasn’t any furniture between his room and the bathroom. . . . At least not on his way here.

He looked down, his eyes adjusting slowly to the light contrast as they recognized the small object in front of him.

He blinked a few times more, as the picture sharpened. Was that . . . . It's just Judy. He thought dismissively, as he shook his head slightly. “Sorry, fluff” He mumbled sleepily, as he watched the rabbit carefully. She must’ve needed to use the washroom, too. . . That was pretty random.

However, the rabbit’s purple eyes were staring down. . . At his legs? And, she looked somewhat. . . Surprised. Nick looked down, eyes fluttering as he tried to see what she was staring at.

And then, the two emerald eyes shot open, as he realized what had happened.

As was his custom, Nick was buck-ass nude when he rolled out of bed. He didn’t see the need for clothes in the middle of the night, usually. In his bachelor suite, he never needed to worry about getting dressed for bathroom trips, but. . . Oh, Fuck.

He swiftly moved his paws, tail flying between his legs as he tried to cover himself up. Judy’s gaze finally turned upward, as she looked up at the fox with sleep-filled eyes. “S-sorry, Carrots. I-“

He began, but the rabbit swiftly turned and walked around him. She reached out a paw, and softly patted his stomach as she went past towards the bathroom he’d just left.

“I have over a hundred brothers. . . I’ve seen a lot worse, slick. . . . Goodnight.” Her soft, tired voice called out in a yawn as she walked into the bathroom. Nick watched her go from his shoulder, eyes wide in horror as his brain slowly worked through what he had done.

But, the rabbit merely closed the bathroom door and swiftly turned the lock. For a moment, the fox just stood there, trying to figure out what had just happened. She’d seen. . . Well, just about everything. He didn’t know how much lighting rabbits needed to see in the dark, but it was probably less light than the moon was beaming in.

And. . . She patted his stomach, and pretended like it hadn’t happened. . . Was that the best way to react to this. But, he suddenly realized that he couldn’t just stand there trying to figure it out, or she was going to come out again. And, see him again.

He quickly padded his way into his room, and quietly closed the door behind him. As the lock slid into place, he turned to look at his waiting bed. But, with his racing heart, he doubted that he had much chance to sleep now.

That was. . . Weird, right? She should have yelled at him at least, right? Wait, when she ran into him. . . It was definitely weird. . . . Or, maybe she was just being realistic and adult about it.

Yeah, Judy was a mature rabbit. She was just being mature, and attempting to brush it off was the best way. He thumped his way over and flopped onto the bed.

He needed to get his mind off of what just happened. . . What Judy had just stared at. And ran into, he reminded himself. He was naked, there wasn’t much in between them when he dully ran into her like a fool.

That was it, he was never leaving the room without shorts, just to be safe. Why the hell wasn’t he doing that before?

He sighed, as he stared at the white ceiling. . . Was he ever going to fall asleep tonight?

 

In another room, however, a rabbit was dealing with her own conundrum. Judy was sitting on the toilet, blinking slowly with her head in her paws, as she thought about what had happened.

Judy grew up in a household with several immature males. Males that weren’t exceptionally smart. She needed more paws to count the times that she’d accidentally walked in on them doing all sorts of things, in bathrooms and sometimes just in random rooms in the house.

Some mammals didn’t understand how to work a lock, she swore. . . Or, that maybe there was a better place for some things.

She’d walked in on several of her brothers naked, masturbating, and sometimes even worse. . . Having sex with your girlfriend in the communal laundry room was a dumb idea she never understood.

But, that was just it. She’d seen way worse. And, it was way worse with her family, since she was forced to see her relatives naked, right? Seeing Nick naked, at least there wasn’t that level of. . . Awkwardness, right? Sure, she didn’t really. . . want to see that, at the moment. She wasn't denying that Nick was an attractive fox, of course, but, she had never gone so far to start imagining him without clothing before. He was sexy enough in a uniform, honestly. But still, it wasn’t that bad that it happened, right?

Sure, it was a tad awkward because they were roommates, but. . . It was just an accident. No, it would be fine. If she didn't make a big deal of it, Nick wouldn't.

. . . She did have one question, though. Why in the hell did she pat his stomach?

“That wasn’t. . . . too weird. . . was it?” She murmured to herself.

”Your roommate washed his hands for two minutes straight! Whatever he did in there, it was probably pretty weird!” She heard Pronk shout through the wall, clearly not aware of anything that’d just happened. Luckily. . .

She shook her head with a soft, slightly annoyed snort. “Thanks, Pronk.”

 

Nick glanced at the clock, before staring back up at the ceiling. It had been fifteen minutes. He wasn’t going to get any sleep like. . . this. He sighed, shaking his head as he rolled over, and dug his paw underneath the bed.

That damned magazine was under there somewhere. . . It would be weird and creepy to think about your roommate while trying to deal with your urges. But. . . If any bun would do, then that was perfectly okay, right?

Right?


Sergeant Wolfard had been waiting for today for a long time. Or rather, just hoping that it would happen. Hoping to be taken off the trainee track, and return to regular policing. And. . . To be partnered with Fangmeyer again. Now, as he saw the tiger walk through the doors to the nightshift bullpen, he didn’t have to hope any longer.

They walked over, and took the seat right next to the wolf, as he nodded to them. “Good evening, Officer Fangmeyer. How are you?”

They smiled as they settled into the chair with their coffee. “I’m good, sergeant Wolfard. I leave you for a little while, and you start collecting ranks, hmmm?” They responded as the wolf heard that telltale purring chuckle.

“Yeah, it’s been a while. . . I’m looking forward to being your partner, though. I hope I live up to your standards.” He spoke respectfully and nodded to the tiger.

The tiger snorted and shook their head. “If you remember what I taught you, I have no doubt you’ll do more than impress me.”