When morning roll was over and Chief Bogo had dismissed the room, it was an unexpected and unpleasant surprise to hear him amend his dismissal with a, “Not you, Wilde. My office, now.”
He and Judy traded concerned glances, though hers was also laced with a bit of annoyance, silently railing, What did you do now?
Nick could only offer a helpless shrug and head-shake in response as he uprooted his feet, the additional, “Anytime today, Wilde,” from the hallway urging him to hurry up and comply. He could feel his partner’s eyes boring holes in his back as the door to the bullpen closed behind him.
This was about the video, he just knew it. Okay, so maybe the email burst with the upload of Bogo from the Gazelle concert wasn’t in the best taste, but it got Higgins to crack a smile so it wasn’t exactly all bad. Wasn’t worth a reprimand. Or worse. Was it?
The elevator ride up to the third floor was spent in complete silence, and Nick couldn’t discern from his many sideways glances at the Chief’s face exactly what was going on behind it. The fox thought he had a pretty solid poker face but the mask of mild irritation Bogo had assumed was both impressive and vaguely terrifying.
Nick’s feelings of unease intensified when they finally reached the Chief’s office to find it wasn’t empty. Sitting primly in one of the chairs in front of the Chief’s desk was a female pig sporting a well-fitted gray suit, the white hair between her ears coiffed to perfection. Mayor Gertrude Swinton.
The fox officer put his paws up. “Whatever you think I did I’d like to take this opportunity to say I’m sure you’re mistaken and also it was 100% Hopps’ fault.”
Swinton just stared at the fox with a look of mild perplexity on her face, raising a brow before she turned to the Chief. “So… this is the officer you’re going with?”
Bogo sighed and took his seat. “Despite first impressions, I am confident that Officer Wilde is more than capable of what this assignment entails.”
Nick looked back and forth between them a couple of times and then donned his very best signature smirk. “Absolutely right there, Chief. I’m your mammal, consider the job as good as done.” He took the other chair beside Swinton and added, “Now, ah… what’s the assignment again?”
Bogo rubbed his forehead and gestured vaguely to his computer. “Yesterday evening I received an email containing a death threat.”
Nick’s ears flagged. “Oh.”
Bogo settled back in his chair. “I do not believe the threat to be credible, personally.”
“But our office is not willing to take that chance,” Mayor Swinton said with an almost scolding look across at the Chief. “As such we are following up on this incident currently and must insist that Chief Bogo follow the standard protocols until the matter has been resolved.”
The fox’s ears popped up again in interest at the turn the conversation was taking. “Protocols, liiiiiiiiiiiiike…”
“Like assigning an officer to be his security detail.” Swinton fluffed her hair. “Chief Bogo has chosen you for this assignment.”
Nick’s eyes lit up with only a hint of the mischievous glee welling up inside as all the wondrous opportunities flashed through his mind. “And just so I’m entirely clear, what exactly would acting as his security detail involve?”
“For the duration of the assignment, you will be in control of the Chief’s movements and have the authority to make any decisions that you believe will best serve his safety,” Swinton explained. “Where he goes, when, how he gets there. All yours to coordinate until we’re sure the threat has been nullified.”
Out of the corner of Nick’s eye, he couldn’t help but notice the cape buffalo’s annoyed grimace deepen even further as the mayor continued to speak. The fox endeavored not to tip his hand too much and put his paw up in a crisp salute. “You can count on me, Mayor.”
“And one last thing, Wilde.” Nick looked up at the Chief as he leaned over his desk, throwing a looming shadow over both him and Swinton. “I expect your absolute discretion regarding this. Again, I do not believe for one second my life is in any danger, but I don’t want the team to lose their focus worrying over it. Keep this to yourself until it’s all over.”
Nick quirked an eyebrow. Well, that was disappointing. Couldn’t even let Judy know about this delightful turn of events? Take all the fun out of it, why didn’t he?
But he could negotiate that later if necessary. For now, best foot forward.
“Understood, Chief.” He fired off another, slightly more half-assed salute. “My lips are sealed.”
“Good.” Bogo added gruffly, “It would be ideal if they would stay that way.”
“Right then.” The mayor rose up from her chair and brushed herself off. “With that, I’ll be taking my leave. Herds and Grazing have been riding my tail for three days now about the new budget and I can’t delay meeting with them any longer. Chief, the ZBI will contact you no later than tomorrow morning with any updates.”
She promptly walked out the door, the clickety clack of her hooves against the floor echoing until the door slammed shut.
Judy paced the length of the entire office area. She’d already sent two text messages to Nick without receiving a response, and it had been over an hour since he was called into Bogo’s office. She sure didn’t want to meddle, but the longer she had to try and imagine what was going on in there, the more she itched to stick her nose into it.
“I bet it was that Gazelle concert upload he emailed out,” Wolford offered helpfully, mouth full of some kind of egg and chicken breakfast sandwich.
Judy turned on him. “Come on, really? I mean… I thought Chief would have gotten over that by now, no?”
“I don’t know about that,” Fangmeyer added from the copier. Her striped tail flitted back and forth. “Bogo’s got grudges that are decades old. It wouldn’t surprise me if he decided to exact some delayed retribution.”
“No kidding,” Higgins grumbled between sips from his coffee mug. “Ten years on now and he still won’t shut up about that lousy duck…”
The other officers nodded in agreement, murmuring, “Oh, the duck,” or some variation thereof.
“Oh, oh, oh!” Wolford added, gesturing widely. “Or! Remember what happened with that hare-brain intern in records way back when? Jack Whatshisname?”
“Nah, his name was, like, Francis or something,” Fangmeyer said, waving her paw dismissively. “He just liked those Jack Savage movies so much, he kept acting like he was a spy. Even wanted to change his name.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” Wolford chuckled. “He painted on the stripes and everything.”
She nodded. “He reordered the case files so badly we couldn’t find anything for months. But yeah, never saw Bogo can someone so fast before him… or since.”
Judy stared at them, nose twitching, when at last she received the cheerful ding! alert from her phone. She pulled it out so quickly she almost dropped it, and stared at the simple text message from Nick.
<No worries, Carrots. Not fired. Everything’s A-OK.>
She heaved a sigh of relief and texted back, <Good. What was the big deal then?>
A long pause followed. She was about to follow up when his response popped back. <Special assignment. Can’t go into details about it. Only something a talented fox like me can handle. ;)>
Judy stared and stared. Out loud she said, “What?”
“What ‘what’?” Wolford asked.
“He says Bogo gave him a special assignment.” She shook her head. “Not that Nick’s, you know… not a good cop or anything, but… again, what?”
“Maybe it’s a very special assignment,” Fangmeyer suggested. “Like, redoing all his case paperwork.”
The others snickered, but Judy didn’t reciprocate the levity.
“Come on, guys, this isn’t funny.”
“Oh, I know it’s not. You’ve seen his paperwork, Hopps. Yeesh! Just a glance will give you a full-on migraine.”
Judy’s frown turned to a scowl. His paperwork was perfect, and she would know, because she always spruced it up before turning their case files in. The others could chuckle it up, but the more she stood there and thought it over, the more it seemed like Bogo was setting Nick up for a fall. Maybe it was some kind of delayed retribution for Nick’s harmless little prank. The two had butted heads a few times already, she really couldn’t put it past the Chief to be a bit petty in retaliation.
Well, not if Judy Hopps had anything to do with it.
Judy picked up her notepad and made a beeline for the door. “I’m going to go check out the—” She stopped as she noticed the others still sniggering at the thought of Nick stuck in the purgatory that was endless paperwork. “Never mind, you guys aren’t listening,” she mumbled to herself as she continued out the door.
No way would she let Nick get set up for failure. As his partner, it was her duty to make sure he was given every opportunity to be successful. Whatever this supposed “special assignment” was, she’d make sure Nick came out on the other side of it with flying colors.
No matter what.
Chief Bogo’s eye had officially started twitching. In the hour since Mayor Swinton had left his office, Officer Wilde had “checked the perimeter” of his office no less than four times and was now directing all of his attention to staring over his shoulder and commentating on every mouse click he made.
“Careful, Chief!” Nick all but shouted, nearly making Bogo spill his coffee cup. “That looks suspicious, mark it a possible phishing threat, I’ll have the boys in IT look it over to be safe.”
“For God’s sake, Wilde! Do you really need to keep track of every single damn button I press?”
“Hey, I’m just doing my due diligence,” Nick smugly replied. “Computer’s a whole treasure trove of security liabilities. Trojans, keyloggers, spyware, pop-up ads, one wrong click and bam! Your stalker’s got all your info, they know where you work—”
“I’m the Chief of Police,” Bogo said through gritted teeth. “I’m pretty sure no one needs to hack my computer to know where I work. This isn’t necessary.”
“Well, as your appointed security detail—who has complete authority over deciding what is and isn’t necessary for your protection, by the way—I respectfully disagree.”
Thunk Thunk Thunk.
A knock at the door made Nick’s ears raise. He sprung from his perch behind the Chief’s desk to zip over to the door. He pressed himself against the wall, made an exaggerated serious face as he drew his stun gun, and motioned with his paws to the Chief.
Bogo sighed and rubbed his temple. “Enter.”
The door swung inward, hiding Nick behind it as Officer Clawhauser walked in with a small stack of folders in his paws and a bounce in his step.
“Good morning, Chief!” he said brightly as he strode toward the Chief’s desk. Bogo watched in mild irritation as Nick shadowed behind him with stun gun still at the ready. “Here are those archived case files you asked for, and two incident reports from the night shift.”
“Thank you, Clawhauser,” Bogo said, tearing his eyes away from the fox now slinking back behind the desk and accepting the files from the cheetah dispatcher.
“Anything else I can help you with this morning?”
Granting me a swift and merciful release from this fox’s torment. “Not at the moment. You’re dismissed.”
The chubby cheetah gave a chipper salute. He turned on the balls of his feet and pulled the door lightly behind him as he left.
The fox rushed over to the door, sticking his head out and looking in both directions. Seemingly satisfied, he ducked his head back inside and let the door close all the way. “Whew, looks like he’s gone and the office is secure. Talk about a close one.” Nick resumed his seat at the window sill behind the Chief’s desk. He held his paws out. “Now, lemme have a look at—”
Bogo held the files further out of Nick’s reach. “Do you honestly think for one second I have anything to worry about from old archives I specifically asked for delivered to me by my direct subordinate?”
“What better way to get to you than through the mammal you least suspect? How do you know Clawhauser hasn’t been playing the long game all this time? As your appointed security detail, these are the sorts of questions I need to be asking.”
Bogo groaned and got up from his chair. He strode with clear purpose toward the door, and Nick abandoned focusing on the paperwork to intercept him.
“Whoa whoa whoa! Now where do you think you’re going?”
Bogo scowled. “To hit the head? Do you need to know every bodily function I make too?”
“What? No, eww, of course not.” Nick cringed in disgust. “But I do have to come with you. Mammals are at their most vulnerable in the bathroom. You’d be literally caught with your pants down.”
The Chief gave him a molten hot glare. “If you seriously think I’m going to let you follow me into—”
“Outside, Chief, sheesh.” The fox stuck his tongue out and made a light gagging noise before indicating the door. “Now, let me check that the coast is clear.”
Bogo rolled his eyes, stepped back, and motioned for Nick to go ahead. Which he did, with gusto.
“Okay, just gonna do a quick hallway sweep here aaaaaaaaaand we’re clear!” He waved at Bogo dramatically. “Go go go!”
The Chief let out an irritated huff as he squeezed through the open door and strode down the hallway as Nick tailed close behind and threw in the occasional action roll for good measure.
Judy checked the breakroom, the garage, the forensics lab, and the evidence locker without success. Nick hadn’t responded to any additional text messages she sent to his cell phone, and she was about at her wit’s end when she finally caught sight of him… outside the male restrooms.
“Nick!” she called out, rushing towards him.
“Carrots?” the fox looked up in mild surprise.
“Where have you been? I’ve been trying to text you all morning.”
“I’ve been busy,” Nick answered with a shrug.
“Busy…” Judy pointed at the door to his side. “Standing around outside the restroom?”
“Well…” Nick glanced at the door and then back at her. “Not just the restroom.”
She tapped her foot impatiently. “Well, what did Bogo want, then? Was there something wrong with our case files? Or an evidence record? Or…” She dropped her voice. “Did you get a formal reprimand? You can tell me if you did, it’s totally okay, I won’t tell anyone and we can just review proper protocol again for next time…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, put the brakes on the mental machinery before you burn it out. I’m not—” he stopped and glanced briefly at the door again. “I’m not being reprimanded and there’s nothing wrong with our files… probably. It wasn’t why he called me in, anyways.”
“Then what was it? Why did he call you into—?” She noticed him trying to sneak in another glance at the door. “Jeez, Nick, if you need to go then just go. I can wait, you know.”
“Right, yeah, I’m sorry, Fluff.” Nick held up a paw. “Could you just… give me a second?”
Judy rolled her eyes and waved at the door. “Take your time.”
He shoved the door open and hurried inside. Judy crossed her arms and leaned against the wall, tapping her foot lightly. She swore, sometimes her partner acted like such a…
Her ears stood straight up and then flagged again. Did he actually not make it or…?
The door burst open again and Nick jetted out. She took a step back from him as he frantically looked up and down the hallway. “Yikes, what happened? Did you catch your zipper on your…?”
He didn’t even look her way once. “Damn he’s quiet when he wants to be,” she heard him mutter before he took off away from her without so much as a goodbye. She immediately bolted after him.
“Nick, wait up! What’s going on?” she called as he ran headlong away from her. He didn’t respond, and before long she lost him in the back of the precinct halls where the forensics labs and the cruiser garage was located.
Judy slowed to a stop, frustration building in her blood. She slammed her paw into the nearby wall to vent and immediately regretted it when it exploded in pain.
“Son of a biscuit! Sweet cream of wheat, ow!” she muttered as she grasped at her now throbbing paw, rubbing it until the pain finally began to subside.
Just peachy, she lost her partner, messed up her paw, and now she had to begin her search all over again. Well, none of that was going to stop her, no sir. She was gonna get to the bottom of this even if it was the only thing she accomplished today!
Chief Bogo strode up to his squad car, every so often casting his eyes around the garage and down each row of parked cruisers. He was fairly confident he was in the clear right up until the moment he stuck the key into the door handle.
“HEY CHIEF WHERE YOU HEADED.”
“GRAH!” Bogo reeled back from the almost manic fox face that had popped up in the driver’s side window. His surprise was short lived and shifted to thinly veiled irritation a moment later.
“How the hell did you even get in there?”
“A magician never reveals his secrets.”
The Chief felt a spike of pain as a particularly nasty migraine washed over him. “Were you the one who wrote the threats, Wilde? Because right now, it seems like you’re trying to make me die of an aneurysm.”
“Rest assured that if I ever make a legitimate attempt on your life, I would aim for something far more spectacular than trying to annoy you to death,” Nick replied, placing a paw over his heart. “As an ex-hustler, my professional pride would demand it.”
Bogo glared at him and yanked the door open. “Get out.”
Nick shook his head. “No can do, sir. As your security detail—”
“Do you know why I chose you for this assignment?” Bogo interrupted.
“Because I’m your most diligent officer and I have an impeccable work ethic?”
“Because you’re a slacker who loves to goof off. I thought for sure that you would put in the bare minimum effort required for this and let me get some actual work done today.”
“Well, I’m happy to disappoint you then, Chief. Death threats should be taken very seriously and I intend to give this one the level of attention it deserves.”
They stared each other down for a few seconds. It was beginning to get a little ridiculous when Nick’s cell phone dinged a text alert. Their ears swiveled at the chime.
Nick pointed. “Mind if I…?”
The Chief continued to glare at him, merely responding with an irritated snort.
“I’ll take that as a no, then.” He looked down at the phone and saw that it was another message from Judy, and a rather irritated looking one at that.
<What the heck is going on? Why did you take off like that? Where are you?>
Nick turned the cell phone screen off and stowed it away again with a shrug up at the Chief. “So, okay, listen. You want to get work done, I don’t want to get in hot water with the Mayor if something—as unlikely as it may seem—should happen to you. My mom just texted me, some kind of computer issue. Let’s just head over to her place and you can work in peace while I figure out whatever it is she needs help with. It’s really close-by. Good compromise?”
Bogo’s intense expression remained steadfast, but only for another few seconds before he finally relented. “Fine. Move over.”
Nick hopped over to sit shotgun and buckled his seatbelt with a thumbs up. “You won’t regret this, Chief.”
He slipped into the driver’s seat and put his files up on the dash. “Oh, I already do.”
Judy slammed through the doors of the garage just in time to see the Chief’s cruiser pull out into the street. In the passenger seat, looking very pleased with himself, was the object of her irritation.
What the hay is going on here?? she silently railed as she sprinted after them. It didn’t take long to realize that she would never be able to keep up with the car on foot, and she was too far away from her own to tail them now. If she was going to get to the bottom of this, she’d have to get creative. She cast her eyes around, hoping for inspiration… and then found some in the form of a very familiar clown car.
Ugh, I hate this stupid buggy… Judy glowered at the joke-mobile as she climbed in, slapping on the meter-maid hat and traffic vest. But it’s less obvious than a cruiser, and I should be able to catch up on the sidewalks and between red lights.
Out on the avenue, she brought the little cart up to its top speed as fast as she could, and zoomed out into the midday traffic. At first, it didn’t seem like she’d be able to get close to them, but a couple of well timed red-lights and a small detour around a hydrant flush put her only two cars behind the Chief’s cruiser. She was watching for opportunities to close the gap so intently, it wasn’t until she was on their bumper that she took notice of where they were now.
What the flip are we doing in Hyenahurst?
Judy realized they must have been getting close to their destination as the Chief’s cruiser started to slow down and pull to the side. It was then she realized the flaw in her plan.
Sugar! They’ll see me as soon as they get out!
She zipped between two parked cars quickly and turned off the ignition. Careful not to let them see her as they hopped down out of the cruiser, Judy sprinted to a nearby pile of empty packing boxes outside of a green grocer. She flipped one over on top of herself and oriented it until she could glimpse them through one of the handle slots. Once she was certain they wouldn’t notice her, she slowly crept after them, box and all.
Don’t mind me, just a regular box. Nothing to see here. She silently willed them to not look back at her. The sight of a box slowly shuffling towards them would probably be a rather suspect one. She nearly felt her heart stop as she saw Nick’s ears flick and he started to turn around. Diving to the ground, Judy lay motionless as her partner looked around, just in time to see a nondescript box sitting on the side of the street.
Don’t see me, don’t see me, don’t see me…
For a moment, she thought the jig was up when Nick narrowed his eyes and seemed to look directly at her.
“Wilde, quit wasting time and let’s go already,” the Chief growled. That grabbed Nick’s attention back to whatever task they had at hand. He turned around and kept going.
“Phew,” Judy quietly sighed in relief. That was a close one, but she hadn’t come this far to blow her lead now. She just needed to keep on them a little bit longer. Then maybe she’d finally get to the bottom of what Nick and Bogo were up to—
Her thoughts were cut short as she felt a set of paws grab the box and lift it up. The sides crumpled around her ever so slightly as her feet left the ground, and she braced herself with her arms and feet to keep from falling out. She gave the tiniest squeak but willed herself not to make any further noise. If she made a scene now, then her cover would literally be blown. She just hoped that whoever was moving her cover put it down quickly so she could resume her reconnaissance.
She should have been more careful about what she wished for. She felt the box suddenly go soaring through the air, the visage of a dumpster filled to the brim with unspeakable filth rapidly racing towards her. She didn’t even have time to close her eyes as she landed face first into the muck, all manner of slimy sensations and horrible smells assaulting her senses. She wanted to think it was a bad dream, but no, that definitely happened. She had just gotten tossed in the trash.
Why? Why? Why? Sweet cheese and crackers, why?!
Judy waited only as long as her nostrils could take before throwing off the soggy remains of the cardboard box and wading through the refuse to the edge of the dumpster. She pulled herself bodily out from the sucking goop and landed on the ground again with a wet-sounding splorch. By the time she made it back to the sidewalk, her targets were nowhere in sight, so the attention that she was now drawing from the lunchtime crowd was officially the least of her worries.
The apartment Bogo followed Nick to was on the fifth floor of an elevatorless building, so by the time he was in front of the door he was looking forward to sitting down. The fox jumped up and unlocked the door, letting it swing wide as he motioned the cape buffalo inside. Bogo obliged with a snort and Nick closed the door behind them.
Bogo gave a cursory glance around. The living room was sparsely, if neatly, furnished, with a threadbare couch in the middle of the living room area and a small kitchenette directly attached toward the back. A sizable table and two chairs were there, as well as a standing torch lamp that looked like it came from Itreea.
Nick spread his paws wide as Bogo walked further into the room. “Welcome to Madame Wilde’s humble abode, Chief. Pull up a chair, make yourself comfortable.”
He nodded absently and ran his hoof along the back of the couch in the middle of the living room. “Already more comfortable than I was anticipating. I admit I’m surprised that everything seems upsized for--”
His words trailed off as the remaining details of the room filtered in one by one. The lack of mail, the stock picture frames on the walls, a refrigerator completely devoid of reminders or photographs.
“Wait a minute.” Bogo turned with an incensed glare back at Nick. “This isn’t your mother’s apartment.”
“Sorry, did I say Madame Wilde’s humble abode? I meant to say Nick Wilde’s Safe House Extravaganza!”
The annoyance turned up multiple levels to outright fury. “That’s it, this is the last straw. I’m leaving.”
“Ah ah ah, Chief.” Nick zipped in front of the door Bogo was storming toward and put out his arms. “Afraid I can’t let you do that.”
Bogo rolled his eyes and reached for the knob. “I can’t imagine how you could possibly stop me.”
Nick leapt up from the floor and wrapped himself around the hoof that had just grabbed the knob. Bogo immediately attempted to shake him off, but in the next second Nick slapped a cuff around his wrist.
“Sorry, sir!” The fox threw the key to the cuffs over Bogo’s shoulder, and the bull watched in horror as it landed with a ching! right on the climate control vent in the floor. It clattered through the slits into the ductwork somewhere below them.
If Bogo was angry before, now he was livid. He gave a guttural snarl of frustration and shook his arm so hard that Nick lost his grip on the sleeve. He dangled by the cuff a good two feet from the floor with the distance growing as Bogo held him up in front of his enraged face.
He looked at his situation and gulped. “It seems I did not think this through.”
“Have you lost your mind, Wilde?” Bogo roared furiously and threw the folders on the floor in frustration. “What could possibly have possessed you to do something so mind-bogglingly idiotic?”
“Well… you see… here’s the thing…” Nick tried to explain. “I figured you’d try and ditch me given the whole ‘slipping out via the restroom’ thing earlier, so I wanted to make sure you couldn’t try that again, and…” He looked at the cuff around his paw and then at the floor so far below him. He attempted a shrug, which was a mistake given it felt like his arm was about to pop out of its socket. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
The Chief let out an irritated sigh and rubbed his temple. “Well, this has been a massive waste of time. We’re going back to the precinct to get these cuffs removed.”
As Bogo moved to pick up the folders off the floor, Nick couldn’t help but notice that they consisted of old case files. Case files that all had the same badge number. The badge number engraved on the gold shield he had just been hanging in front of a few seconds ago.
“Hold on just a second…” Nick snatched the file from Bogo’s hoof and dipped, ducked, and dodged away from multiple attempts the Chief made to grab it back with his other hoof. “What reason could you possibly have to be looking over your old case files?”
“Give that back!” Bogo grabbed again and missed again. “That’s none of your business!”
“It is if it pertains to that ‘fake’ threat you received,” Nick countered. “But I’m guessing it’s not really fake, is it?”
Bogo clenched his jaw so hard Nick heard it creak, and he had all the answer he needed. He purposely let the case file drop, and when the bull was distracted grabbing for it he clawed his way under Bogo’s arm and around his back, dragging the cuffed wrist with him. He didn’t stop until he’d latched himself onto Bogo’s other shoulder and he pulled up with all his might.
He wished he could have gotten his cell phone out of his pocket, because that was a mighty interesting noise the Chief made.
“What are you doing?!” he shouted, and Nick could feel the muscles tense beneath him. “Stop it, you lunatic!”
“Admit it! Admit the threat is real!” Nick tried not to think about his odds of getting assigned parking duty for life over this. There was a pause of nothing but pained grunting and he decided, Ah, screw it. In for a penny, in for a pound. A little more leverage and the pitch of the grunting raised half an octave.
“Arrrrggghhh, okay, fine!” Bogo yelled. “Yes, it is real, alright?! Now let go before you dislocate my shoulder!”
“Yesss! I knew it!” Nick released his hold on Bogo’s arm and dropped down. “I knew the threat was--wait a sec.” He awkwardly spun around and pulled himself up on the couch arm to face the Chief. “The threat is real? You liar! Why would you keep this from everyone?”
The Chief rubbed his arm and rolled his shoulders. “Because the team should not have to answer for the mistakes I made during my younger, more reckless years on the force.”
Nick crossed his arms. “Sir, that’s some grade-A bullhonkey. We’re supposed to look out for each other. That’s what a team does. What kind of message does it send to the rest of the precinct if you try to run off and solve your problems on your own?”
“Didn’t you and Hopps do exactly that during the Night Howler case?”
“That doesn’t count, neither of us were even in the ZPD at the time.”
Bogo snorted hard and massaged his temple. “Be that as it may, it’s the decision I thought would result in the least collateral damage to my officers and possible backlash while figuring out who’s behind this.”
“So your one head is better than the dozen others who are available and beyond willing to help figure this thing out?”
For a moment, Bogo’s expression almost turned chagrined, which took Nick aback. His shoulders slumped a little and he sighed. “The fewer mammals I have to talk through these cases with, the better, as far as I’m concerned. If I could get by discussing them with no one, that would have been ideal.”
“Even if you got offed?” Bogo didn’t respond and Nick attempted to move toward a more constructive line of conversation. “Your priorities need a serious adjustment, Chief. But, since we’re off the grid and I’m still assigned to keep you safe, let’s use the time here to work through which of your old perps might be behind these threats. If we leave now, it’ll just be unnecessary exposure. We can bring it back to the precinct once we’ve got a lead. That good enough for you?”
Bogo grunted, gave a look down at the many files still strewn at his feet, and finally nodded. “Alright, Wilde, we’ll do it your way. Better than giving you a chance to pull off another one of your idiotic stunts.”
“Excuse you, my strategically timed initiatives are nothing short of brilliant.”
“Literally none of your peers think that.”
“Ouch.” Nick put a paw to his chest in faux offense. “Well, if that’s true then I’ll be more than thrilled to prove them wrong about that. Now let's get to it. Once I’ve cracked this case and caught the bad guy for you, I expect to be awarded a medal.”
“How about I just don’t assign you parking duty for the rest of your life instead?”
The stench wafting off of Judy announced her return to the precinct long before she entered the office area. Wolford held his snout and retched as she walked toward her desk.
“Jeez, Hopps, you couldn’t hit the showers first?” he asked, and waved his paw in front of his face. “You smell worse than Fangmeyer the time she chased that jewel thief through the septic plant.” His nose crinkled at the memory of that particular scent. “Pretty sure those jewels never made it back to the display after that mess.”
She scowled at him. “I was following Nick and the Chief down in Hyenahurst. Nick’s been acting weird all day since he got that assignment and I wanted to find out why. There were some… complications involving a dumpster. Suffice to say, I lost them somewhere down on Cackler Street.”
“Cackler Street?” Delgato leaned out from behind his desk. “There’s a safehouse two blocks from there. You think that’s where they might’ve been heading?”
“What for though?” Higgins asked. “I know for a fact we don’t have anyone holed up in there. The rest of the area is dodgy low-end shops and tenement housing.”
Judy went to sit down in her chair, thought better of it, and just thumped her foot instead. “Something strange is going on here. Why’s Nick on a case with Bogo anyhow? What was he doing carrying all those files out of the precinct into an area like that? And why all the secrecy?”
“Very shady,” Fangmeyer agreed. “If this is all stemming from that whole closed door meeting Bogo had with Wilde this morning, how could we even figure out what it was about?”
Wolford tapped his chin. “Think he blocked it off on his electronic appointment calendar? Maybe Clawhauser would know something about it if he did.”
“Well then, let’s go ask him,” Judy suggested, making her way towards the doorway.
“Uhh… are you sure you want to go out there?” Wolford’s nose crinkled as he pointed out her less than immaculate appearance. “Like… that?”
Judy stopped to take a sniff and immediately regretted it, fighting to keep her breakfast from coming back up. She’d been so focused on figuring out what Nick and the Chief were up to, she’d forgotten how bad she looked and smelled right now.
“Right…” She headed back to her desk and hit the com button on her phone. “Hey Clawhauser, can you come in here for a minute?”
“Hey Judy,” the cheetah cheerfully responded. “Sorry, but it’s really busy out here. Any chance this can wait ‘til later?”
“Really? Alright, that’s fine,” Wolford responded, leaning down towards the phone. “I guess we’ll just have to enjoy these donuts on our own.”
“Donuts!? What donuts?!” To Judy’s immeasurable shock, the voice wasn’t coming from the speaker, but from behind her. Turning around, she leaped in surprise to find the portly cheetah officer standing right there.
“Sweet buttered broccoli!” she squeaked in shock. “How the heck did you do that?”
“Donuts, Hopps,” Wolflord answered with a smirk. “Nothing is impossible for Clawhauser when donuts are involved.”
“Yeah, right, donuts. You said donuts. Where are the donuts?” Clawhauser’s eyes were flying around the room before settling on Judy and going wide in shock. “Oh my gosh, what happened to you? You look terrible! Did you fall into a dumpster or something?”
Judy ground her teeth together. “Nevermind that! Listen, we’re trying to figure out a little inter-precinct mystery going on today, and we think you might be able to help us.”
“Oh, that’s a special kind of exciting!” His tail flitted about enthusiastically, a big smile on his face. He reined it in just as quickly and gave the most professional sleuthing expression he was capable of. “Okay, shoot. What do we have so far?”
“Wilde and Bogo have been acting… well, weird.” Higgins waved his hoof vaguely. “Weirder than usual, that is.”
“Bogo singled Nick out after roll this morning for some closed door meeting and next thing we know the two of them are down in Hyenahurst right on the same block as one of our safehouses with a big stack of what looked like case files.” Judy tugged at her ear and immediately regretted it as her paw all but stuck to some kind of residue. She pulled more than a few hairs out detaching it again.
“Hmm, yes, I see.” Clawhauser stroked his chin in contemplation.
“Anyways, we were wondering if he’d scheduled something for this morning or mentioned something to you,” Judy continued. “Really, anything that might give us a better idea of what’s going on.”
He scrunched up his nose as though wracking his brain. “Well, there was a bit of a hoohah this morning after I picked up his morning coffee.”
Judy’s ears perked. “What was it?”
“A venti caramel mocha with steamed almond milk and a triple shot of—”
“NOT THE DRINK, THE HOOHAH.”
“Oh!” Clawhauser gave a sheepish grin. “Right, of course. Well, when he picked up his drink at the desk he asked me to set up a meeting with Mayor Swinton right away.”
“He had a meeting with the Mayor this morning?” Higgins asked.
Clawhauser nodded. “Yeah, she came right over.”
“Did he say anything about why he wanted the meeting?” Judy asked, bouncing up on the balls of her feet eagerly.
He shook his head. “No, he just went straight to roll call after that.”
She stomped her foot. “Ugh, that’s just a big dead end. It could have been about anything.”
“Well, hold on,” Fangmeyer said and held up her paw. “If Wilde was with them in that meeting then it couldn’t be about anything. It would have to be something very particular to involve one of us… and especially him.”
Judy felt her gut twist once, but then immediately settled. “But… I mean, Nick’s been acting strange all morning but he said he wasn’t in any trouble. I asked. And if he was, then why would Bogo tolerate him hanging around with him?”
Wolford tilted his head. “Maybe it’s some kind of important case? You said Bogo was carrying case files with him, right?”
“Case files?” Clawhauser’s ears perked up. “The only files I brought the Chief today were from a bunch of his old cases back when he was a detective. Asked for them right after his meeting with Swinton.”
Judy looked up hopefully. “Do you remember which ones??”
Clawhauser shook his head. “No, he listed them all off by case numbers.” When her ears wilted, he added quickly, “But I wrote them down!”
“On a…” His face fell. “Oh, on a napkin. At my desk. That I threw in the trash bin on my way to give them to him.”
“Hold on, Hopps, hope might not be lost yet,” Fangmeyer spoke up. “Trash usually doesn’t get emptied until the end of the day. It might still be there.”
“Yeah, I’ll show you where I tossed it,” Clawhauser said with a little extra chipperness in his voice. He turned on his heels and waved over his shoulder. “Come on, this way.”
A few minutes later the portly cheetah had led the rest of the squad to the big trash can outside of the breakroom. They had the lid off in short order and were just staring down into the half-filled black abyss.
“Alright, who’s doing this?” Higgins asked, looking around. Wolford immediately put a finger to his nose and said, “Not it,” as did Delgato. Higgins rolled his eyes and looked at Judy. “You’ve got the most experience so far today. Got another dive in you?”
Judy balked. “No chance!”
“Somebody has to do it.” Wolford pointed out. “Draw straws?”
“Oh for the love of…” Fangmeyer groaned. “Fine, I’ll do it. Better than sitting around waiting for the rest of you to grow the stones for it.” The tiger hovered her paw over the trash for a moment before jamming it in and rooting around.
“That’s it, Fangmeyer,” Judy encouraged her. “It might seem dirty, but that’s the job sometimes. Just stay focused and it’ll be over before you—”
Judy’s eye twitched. “You what?”
“I got it.” Fangmeyer pulled her arm out of the trash can and revealed the napkin in her paw, a series of case file numbers penned onto it. “And you wimps made it sound like it’d be hard.”
“That’s… great.” The sea of filth Judy had spent what felt like an eternity stuck in flashed through her mind. She started shuffling off in the direction of the locker rooms. “I’m gonna go take a shower now.”
“Yeah, you do that, Hopps,” Higgins said, and took the napkin from the tigress. “We’ll look these up and meet you back at the desks. Then we’ll be able to figure out what else stinks around here.”
Once Nick and Bogo had the folders all collected and returned all the papers where they belonged in each, they set themselves up at the small kitchen table to start going through them.
“At least it’s not that many cases to go through,” Nick commented as he pulled his chair closer to Bogo’s so his arm wouldn’t stretch too far from the cuffs. “You’re such a workaholic, I’d think there would be more.”
Bogo snorted. “I spent half the night paring down the hundreds of cases I’ve closed in my tenure to filter out small-time offenses, probation-only arrests, and non-violent offenders.”
“And ended up with eleven whole perps? Gasp.”
“You vastly underestimate the number of very dangerous individuals I’ve pissed off in my life, Wilde.”
“Can’t possibly be more than me.”
Despite the macabre subject, Bogo managed a short laugh. “Don’t flatter yourself. I’ve been ticking mammals off for longer than you’ve been alive.”
Nick tossed a sidelong smirk at him. “I’ll have you know there are plenty of mammals out there who would just LOVE to see me kick the bucket.”
“Everyone who’s ever talked to you for more than five minutes, I imagine.” Bogo opened one of the folders and picked up the report between his hooves. “I actually ended up with two hundred possibilities. After weeding out those criminals who were no longer alive, that brought the number down to around one fifty. These were the perps who had specifically made threatening comments either to me directly or were recorded making similar commentary while in lock-up.”
Nick glanced over the Chief’s arm at the open file, then opened a couple of the others in front of him. He gave a low whistle.
"Mam, you’ve got a real Who’s Who of deranged lunatics there. I mean, I've had the occasional druggie tell me he was going to rip my tail off, but I never had anybody as awesome as the Bingo Butcher threaten to kill me. Impressive."
“That’s better.” Bogo sighed and flipped the page of his report. “These mammals were hardened criminals I put away on the worst of terms. Humiliated, or goaded, or insulted to their faces. Should have known that maverick attitude would come back and bite me one day.”
“I’m having a real hard time imagining you of all mammals ever having been a maverick, Chief.”
Bogo scowled. “I wasn’t always Chief, you know. Had to prove myself just like any other officer, and when I did nail a perp I got cocky about it. Hadn’t quite figured out yet how to keep things professional.”
Nick cleared his throat and held up the report he was scanning dramatically. “Well, lucky for you ‘professional’ is my middle name.”
“I thought the P stood for Piberi—”
“Op bup bup, let’s not quibble over semantics,” Nick said and waved his paw dismissively. “Now, this guy, the Canopy Strangler… what was the threat that he made when he was convicted? Let’s compare it against the email you got and see if there are any similarities.”
Bogo leaned over. “Oh, he was a real piece of work. When I finally caught up to him he rattled off a list of creative ways he’d make me pay, like…”
Judy felt nominally better after a shower and a change of uniform. By the time she returned to the office area, the others had already looked up the case numbers that Clawhauser had provided and were in the middle of a critically divisive discussion about them.
“Hey hey, whoa, cool it!” she said, waving her paws over her head and leaping into the middle of the fray of bickering. “What’s going on now?”
“Nothing pertinent to our current investigation,” Delgato said peevishly, and glared daggers around at the other officers. “We’ve got all the electronic records pulled up for these cases—”
“The Crooked Dozen,” Wolford muttered under his breath, only to be immediately whacked upside the head by Fangmeyer.
"We told you already, we're not calling them that."
"But it sounds so cool!"
“There aren’t even a dozen cases, there’s eleven, it sounds dumb, shut up and stop talking now.”
Delgato and Higgins nodded their agreement and Wolford tucked his head between his shoulders with a mild whimper. Judy rubbed her temple.
“Can we focus back on these files, please?” she asked, her voice razor thin from annoyance. “Are there any correlations between them? Aside from the fact that they’re all Bogo’s, are there any other trends?”
“Well, the perps have all got some pretty impressive rap sheets, for starters,” Higgins said. The hippo turned back to the computer they were standing around and started clicking through the multiple open tabs. “I mean, look at some of these cases. We’ve got the Burrow Brothers, the Canopy Strangler, that boar that kitnapped Patty Harest, even the Bingo Butcher of all mammals.”
“Mam, I wish I could catch a perp as cool as the Bingo Butcher,” Wolford muttered to himself, earning another whack over the head from Fangmeyer for his troubles.
“No talky means no talky, now zip it or be in a world of hurt.”
Wolford clapped his muzzle shut and tucked his tail with another tiny whine.
“So they’re all real nasty pieces of work that Bogo put away,” Judy said, tapping her foot in thought. “What does that tell us about what he’s up to now?”
An awkward silence followed as the officers collectively drew a blank.
“Maybe…” Delgato murmured and then shook his head. “No, that wouldn’t make sense.”
“I think maybe—” Wolford started.
“Okay, that’s it,” Fangmeyer growled as she lifted her paw again threateningly.
“Woah, wait, hold on!” he yelped, covering his head with his paws. “I have an actual idea, just hear me out!”
The tigress stayed her paw, glaring at the wolf as she considered whether or not to follow through. Finally, she relented and lowered it. “Fine, but I’m gonna smack you again if it’s dumb.”
“Alright, just listen.” Wolford sat up and pointed at the screen. “So, we know they’re all heavy hitters Bogo put away, right? Nasty rap sheets and all. But what else have they got in common?”
“Get to the point, Wolford, we don’t have time for Twenty Questions,” Higgins said impatiently.
“Fine, take a look here… and here… and here...” He took the mouse and started clicking through. “All of them have documented threats against Bogo either during the actual arrest, or at some point after they were convicted.”
“So what? You’re saying one of these guys is out to get the Chief?”
“Think about it. If one of us got some kind of credible threat against us or our family, what does Chief do? He assigns an officer to security detail, and we lay low until it gets investigated and resolved. Standard procedure. He assigns it, because he’s our boss. Who’s his boss?”
Judy’s eyes widened. “The Mayor.”
“Bingo.” Wolford snapped a finger at her. “Chief gets a threat, brings it to the Mayor as is protocol, and then he has to get a security detail. And who was it that got called away to that meeting?” he asked rhetorically.
She palmed her face. “Oh my God, Nick’s head must be enormous right now.”
“And I’d say he’s milking this whole security detail thing for all it’s worth to drag Bogo out to the safehouse in Hyenahurst.”
“Yeah, but with good reason, right?” Fangmeyer chimed in. “If these are the suspects Chief thinks might be responsible for whatever the threat was, he could be in actual real danger.”
Judy’s face hardened into an expression of pure resolve. “Then we need to help them. If one of these guys is looking to hurt the Chief, then he and Nick can’t deal with this on their own.”
“Yeah, no kidding.” Wolford clicked through the tabs. “You should see some of the things these guys said they’d do to him. Like there’s this one from the Bingo Butcher: ‘When I get out of here, it’s going to be Bingo for Bogo’”. He stroked his chin in thought. “Wait… what does that even mean? Like… wouldn’t Bogo want to get Bingo? Isn’t that the whole point? Or is it the Butcher that gets Bing-Ow!”
He yelped as Fangmeyer smacked him over the head.
“You went and got dumb again, I warned you.”
Judy rolled her eyes. “Okay, I’m gonna call Nick. I don’t know why they didn’t just tell us what was going on to begin with, but it’s high-time we all put our heads together and get this thing figured out before whoever it is makes his move.”
Higgins closed up the computer station and turned on his heels. “Call on the way to the parking garage. Everyone, with me. I’m driving.”
“So... was he the one who'd get Bingo? Or was it more like—”
Bogo groaned. “I have no idea, Wilde. Is there an actual point to even asking that?”
Nick opened his mouth to respond and seemed to think better of it, instead directing his attention back to the open case files. “So how about the Burrow Brothers? What kind of semantically questionable threats did they pitch at you when you brought them down?”
Bogo sighed and looked like he was about to go off on his diminutive officer when Nick’s cell phone started ringing in his pocket. He fished it out with his non-cuffed paw and held it up, showing Judy’s silly contact photo.
“Might be about that time, eh Chief?” he said, and waggled his phone between his fingers. “Can we please bring the team in on this now? If I blow her off one more time I don’t know what impulsive thing she might end up doing. We could probably use the help, given the progress we’ve been making.”
Bogo was about to object when he stopped to think it over. This had been his mess to clean up, he had been determined to do it on his own, but Wilde had already torpedoed that whole plan by himself, and Hopps was even more determined than the fox was. Who knew what shenanigans might further unfold if he stayed the path that already landed him in this fine predicament?
“Fine,” he finally said with an irritated huff. “Best bring her and the rest of the team in before she pulls off an even bigger stunt than the nonsense you’ve managed so far.”
Nick nodded and donned a smile as he picked up. “Heeeeeeeey Hopps, how’s it going?”
<It’s going,> came her curt reply, and Nick’s ears flagged at her clearly peeved tone of voice.
“Okay, so listen, I know I was acting pretty weird this morning, but I can assure you there was a perfectly reasonable explanation.”
<Like someone’s threatening the Chief, you’re watching out for him, and you’re both holed up in the safehouse in Hyenahurst right now?>
Nick’s jaw dropped. “Wait… how did you even figure that out?”
<I had help.> The background noise shifted sharply, followed by the sound of a door slamming. <Help you should have had this morning, and we’re all on our way to your location now. We’ll talk more about how reckless and irresponsible you both were when we get there.>
Nick winced and then immediately converted it to a chipper smirk when he saw Bogo watching him. “Yeah, the safehouse on Ross Street in Hyenahurst. Fifth floor, room 531. See you soon.”
He hung up immediately, cutting off the incoming reminder that she just said she knew exactly where he was already. He put his phone away and crossed his arms, which made Bogo’s hoof drag off the table.
“Well, you’ll be happy to know what you didn’t want to happen happened anyway. The team put their detective skills to good use and worked out what’s been going on. They’re already on their way here.”
Bogo palmed his face with his hoof. “Am I losing my edge? Or is the team just that good and I’ve been too stupid to see it?”
“Don’t answer that.”
“I mean, you basically gave a bunch of cops a mystery; I don’t know why you’re surprised they decided to solve it.”
Knock knock knock.
They both turned toward the door just in time to see the knob turn and it started to crack open.
“You drag me all the way to a safehouse and don’t even bother to lock the door?” Bogo hiss-whispered at Nick.
“I totally locked it! It’s probably the team, they would have the key to this place, wouldn’t they??” Nick growled back.
They both stood as the door swung inward, Bogo with his feet on the floor and Nick with his feet planted on the chair he had been sitting on. He expected to field a Judy Hopps running tackle hug at least, but that’s not what he got.
"Don't mind me,” an unfamiliar voice said as a hare in janitor scrubs entered the room. “Just your regular average janitor doing the completely normal daily safehouse cleaning."
"Uhh, what?” Nick stared in confusion as he started sweeping the carpeted floor. “How do you know this is a safehouse?” He got even more confused when he noticed what was on the hare’s face. “And why are you wearing a moustache?"
“Wait a minute.” Bogo narrowed his eyes as he looked over the hare. "I know you, don't I?"
“Nope.” The hare shook his head, the moustache shifting slightly as he did. “Never met you before, Chief Bogo.”
“Wait…Harebut?” The Chief’s eyes went wide with realization. “Francis Harebut?”
“Fran...cis?” The hare’s eye twitched as he muttered each syllable with disdain. “My name is not Francis! It’s Jack!” he roared, the broom flying from his paws and the moustache popping off his face as he slammed the door shut. “Jack Savage!”
“Whoa, pal, take it easy,” Nick said, paw hovering over his tranq gun. “Let’s not do anything—”
The hare reached behind and pulled out a pistol.
As Nick fired a tranq at the disturbed hare, he felt himself being yanked to the side and crashing face first into Bogo’s side. His shot flew wide of its mark as it slipped from his paws. He heard the weapon and something else clatter to the ground.
“What the hell, Chief?”
“I was going for my weapon,” Bogo growled in irritation. Once he managed to right himself again, Nick saw not one, but two tranq guns on the floor right in front of the irate hare. He realized what the other clattering sound was.
“Why would you go for it with your cuffed hoof?” he asked incredulously.
“I was acting on instinct, Wilde!” Bogo practically shouted at him. “This wouldn’t have been a problem if you hadn’t cuffed us in the first place.”
“Well excuse me for having to take some extra precautions after catching you trying to ditch your security detail.”
“Uhh… guys?” the hare tried to interject, but neither of the officers were focused on him at the moment.
“Some security detail you’ve been. All you’ve done is use it as an excuse to mess around and look where it’s got us: cuffed together and held at gunpoint. I figured you’d just half-ass this whole thing, not actively go out of your way to get us both killed.”
“Seriously, stop it now…”
“Really? You’re going to try to pin this whole mess on me?” Nick snapped back. “This all happened because you were desperate to relive the glory days and nab the perp yourself instead of sitting in lockdown and letting the rest of the precinct do their actual job. Mr. Paints-On-Stripes over here probably would never have made it this far if you had just told us all the truth from the sta—”
“SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!” Francis jumped up and down as he screamed at them, and they finally did pay him the attention that an unhinged mammal holding a gun probably deserved. “God, get your arms up and stop freaking talking now or I’ll blow your stupid heads off.”
He cocked the gun in warning. Both Nick and Bogo clapped their mouths shut and did as he asked, to the extent they were able. Because of the cuffs, Bogo’s hooves could only raise to about chest level, while Nick’s paws reached high over his head.
“All the way up,” Francis ordered.
Bogo let out a resigned huff and raised his hooves above his head, lifting Nick up and leaving him dangling awkwardly at the Chief’s side.
“Soooo… found our guy,” Nick said from the corner of his mouth.
“I’d say that’s a fair assessment.”
“Former friend of yours?”
Bogo snorted. “Ex-intern. Made a mess of the records room with some cockamamie organization plan no one could understand. Took three months to undo the mess he made after I sacked him.”
“And doomed all of mammalkind as a result!” Francis started to rant. “I was going to join the ZBI. Work my way into NAMO from there. Get into the HUNTR program.”
“That’s not a thing.”
“Shut up, you’re wrong, yes it is, no interrupting.” His eyes were wild and he started to pace restlessly, waving the loaded gun about as he continued. “I was going to be top of the class, the best agent they ever had. I’d stop all the bad guys, shut down all the world-ending weapons. I would save everyone!” He turned and pointed his gun at Bogo. “But you put an end to all that. The next time some malcontent plots to blow up Zootopia with a laser from a doomsday satellite or blow up a nuke, I won’t be there to stop them, because I never got to be a secret agent. Countless mammals will die, because of you! And now you’re going to pay for that.”
"Dude, you were an intern,” Nick said, unable to keep the snark out of his voice. “Not exactly what you'd call a stepping stone to becoming a super spy, Francis."
“No, not Francis,” Francis growled. “It’s Jack. Jack Savage”
“Uhh… no.” Nick shook his head. “Jack Savage is a spy flick character.” He pointed at the hare with his free paw. “You are Francis Harebut.”
“Stop. Calling. Me. That.” Francis bit out each word. “Or am I going to have to show you what sort of things I do to my—”
“Your stripes are running, by the way.” Nick pointed at the black paint running down the side of Francis’ head.
“I… You…” A look of insane fury was gleaming in the hare’s eye as it started twitching rapidly.
“You know, that stuff is super bad for your skin, Francis.”
“ARGH, IT’S NOT FRANCIS!” he screamed, stomping his feet and jumping up and down in a complete tantrum until he was directly in front of them. “MY NAME IS JACK! IT’S JACK! JACK FREAKING SAVA—”
One moment Nick was dangling at Bogo’s side, the next he felt himself being flung overhead. He smashed right into Francis, who was sent careening through the air until he crashed into the wall behind the door. He stuck there for a couple of seconds before he slid down to the ground and faceplanted onto the floor.
Bogo took a few deep breaths to quell the spike of adrenaline, then set the dazed fox he just used as a bludgeon on the arm of the couch.
“Oh, yeah... never better.” That was a lie, considering that sitting up straight seemed an insurmountable task for him at the moment, but he still gave a thumbs up. “All according to plan.”
The Chief snorted but couldn’t help cracking a hint of a smirk at his absolute audacity. “You can’t possibly expect me to believe you had any kind of plan at all.”
“Mammals tend to do stupid things when they’re pissed off, I find,” Nick said with a weak grin. “Wasn’t expecting to be the weapon though. Is there a reason you couldn’t have just used your other hoof?”
Bogo shrugged. “You had better reach.”
It seemed they would have to rescind the victory good feels as Nick and Bogo swung their attention around at the sound of building fury coming from the door. They watched in mild horror as the lunatic hare rose to his knees and reached for the gun.
“Please tell me you still have a trick or two up your sleeve, Wilde.”
“I gotta be honest, I’m kinda tapped out. Hard to think when the room doesn’t have the decency to stop spinning.”
Francis rose up on wobbly legs, and took a single staggering step away from the wall. “You think you’re so clever, but by the time I’m through with you you’re both going to wish you’d never been—”
The front door of the safehouse slammed open as Judy and the rest of the P1 officers piled through the doorway. They ended up in a heap just within the threshold from their haste, and Judy squeezed herself out from between Wolford and Fangmeyer’s tangled limbs.
“Sorry about that, we got here as fast as we could. So many stairs.” Judy looked up at Bogo and Nick sheepishly. “Figures we’d trip at the finish, right? We’re here now, though. Don’t worry, Chief, we’re definitely gonna get this guy.”
“Yeah, about that.” Bogo cleared his throat and pointed to the door. “You all just flattened the ‘guy’ when you burst in here.”
The other officers managed to unscramble themselves from the knot they’d become and pulled back the door to find Francis a disturbing and twisted up mass behind it. Delgato snatched the gun away from the twitching paw and cleared the chamber as the hare began muttering to himself.
“The micro... microfilm... gotta find it… check his… pants..."
“Aww mam, it's Harebut?” Wolford said as Higgins picked the hare up by the collar and put cuffs on him. “I was hoping it'd be the Bingo Butcher! OW!"
Fangmeyer whacked him upside the head. “Being dumb again. Shut it.”
“Ah.” Judy blinked a few times and turned back to the Chief and her partner. “Well, that’s… fortunate timing.” She just seemed to notice that they were still attached at the wrists and asked, “Why the hay are you two cuffed together?”
“That’s… a long story.” Nick said, and exchanged a side-eye glance with Bogo. “Let’s head back to the station and we’ll tell you all about it.”
Next morning’s roll call had an undercurrent of jubilance running through the officers as they grunted and hooted their greetings at the Chief’s entrance.
“Alright, that’s enough,” he said as he took his normal position at the podium. “Enough, I said. SHUT IT.”
The ruckus finally silenced. They all took their seats as Bogo set his glasses on his snout to get down to the day’s agenda.
“Before I begin with assignments, I’d like to address some old business, namely the incident that occurred yesterday afternoon which resulted in the arrest of an unstable and dangerous individual.”
“More like an inept disgruntled ex-employee with delusions of grandeur,” Nick stage whispered at Judy, who backpawed him in the arm as Bogo’s glare swung their way.
“Yes, well… be that as it may.” Bogo shuffled a few of the folders between his hooves, a rare gesture of uneasiness. “The outcome was the most favorable one that we could have asked for, no thanks to my own stubborn bullheadedness. I was so set on handling the whole thing on my own that I forgot the most important resources I have available to me.” He leveled a sincere look around the room. “My team. And it is because of my team that I have the privilege of bossing you all around today.” A round of snickers swept through the room, though the laughter was abbreviated. “Thank you all for having my back. I’ll remember that.”
There was an awkward silence for a few beats.
“You gonna need a tissue, Chief?” Nick asked with a simpering smirk. “I’ve got a hanky here somewhere…”
“Stow it, Wilde.” Bogo shuffled his folders again and stared down the fox. “Why don’t we begin the assignments today with yours? The mammal responsible for ensuring I returned to work today as opposed to filling a body bag. For fulfilling your duties as my assigned security, I think it only right to repay you for your diligent service.”
Nick’s ears perked and he sat a little straighter, beaming.
“As your reward for antagonizing me all day yesterday and yet still executing your duties as required, I'm only giving you parking duty for the rest of the week instead of the rest of your life.”
The entire bullpen erupted in guffaws and laughter at Nick’s unsurprising turn of fortune. The fox’s ears went flat against his head as warmth rose up under his collar.
“No good deed goes unpunished, I guess,” he said with an awkward shrug.
“Not as long as I’m Chief, it doesn’t,” Bogo replied, a small smile briefly creeping onto his face before he returned to his usual stoic demeanor. “Moving on, next assignment.”