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Ugh, Emotions. Who Needs 'Em?

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"I am familiar with the angel with horns, Gazelle, yes," the young fox said, removing her sunglasses and hooking them into the neckline of her black tee-shirt. She casually leaned on the desk in front of Officer Clawhauser, resting her chin on her left hand.

"Have you heard the latest gossip about her?" the fox asked, leaning forward conspiratorially.

"You mean about her getting out of her modeling contract with Preyda?" Clawhauser asked, raising his eyebrow at her.

"Well, why she was able to get out of the contract," the fox said in a hushed voice.

The next few minutes were spent with the fox telling Clawhauser in a varying degree of animation the latest gossip about Gazelle and that up-and-coming elk photographer. Clawhauser was in heaven.

Eventually, the fox cleared her throat.

"I'm actually looking for Officer Nicholas Wilde," she said, straightening up and smiling winningly at Clawhauser. "Can you point me in the right direction?"

"Nick? Nick is patrolling his beat right now… are you a friend? I can tell him you stopped by..."

The smile flickered on the fox's face for a moment. She almost imperceptibly stiffened.

“Can't I just wait for him here?" she asked.

Benjamin Clawhauser, despite all of the donuts and the gabbing about celebrity gossip, was actually a very good cop. He was very, very good at reading people. He noticed, but didn’t acknowledge, how uncomfortable the fox suddenly looked.

"Oh my," he said, sighing. "Are you here to report a crime? And you're only comfortable talking to a fellow fox, right?"

The fox blinked.

"Yep," she said after a moment.

"Oh, I can understand that. Once when I was a cub my mother was mugged and she was too scared to come here!" Clawhauser said, standing up and leading the fox towards the back of the main building. "This was before they hired all those jungle cats in the 90’s as part of that Feline initiative, you know... It can be so difficult to be from an underrepresented species...."

The fox made a noncommittal murmur of agreement as Clawhauser led her down a brightly lit hallway and situated her in a small room with a table and three chairs.

"So just wait here," Clawhauser said, once he had sat the fox down at the table. "I'll go page Nick. He's a good cop, very fair, don’t worry. What is your name?"

Another hesitation from the fox, Clawhauser mentally noticed.
"Victoria. Vicki," she said hesitatingly.

"Vicki.....?" Clawhauser pressed. The fox audibly sighed.

"Vulpecula," she said grudgingly.

"All right," Clawhauser said in a forced sing-song voice, "I'll page him and his partner Judy right now. You'll like her too, she's good with people," and then shut the door.

Clawhauser hesitated on the other side of the door. He really should use the police intercom - it was procedure, after all. But the girl had looked so worried... It's possible, he told himself, she's mixed up in something and doesn't want a record... A lot of female foxes, he knew, made money by what they called being escorts... Sighing, and looking around to make sure no one saw him, he pulled his cell phone from his pocket.

(Also, where had he heard the word Vulpecula before? That was bothering him, too. He could have sworn it was someone’s security question in the force, all of which Clawhauser manually entered in an ancient and not particularly safe system. Maybe it was the surname of someone’s first girlfriend. Or mother’s maiden name. Or elementary school. Something…)

---

"Nick, your personal cell phone is really supposed to be on vibrate or silent when we're in the cruiser," Judy Hopps said disparagingly as the dulcet tones of Gazelle streamed from Nick's pocket.

"But this is my special ring for Clawhauser," Nick protested, as he pulled the cell phone out of his pocket. "So it probably is about work."

"Why wouldn't he use the radio?" Judy asked suspiciously. "He knows we're in the car..."

Nick shrugged at her.

"Who knows? Maybe it's secret. Maybe Gazelle is in the station or someone stole his doughnuts and he wants us to take the case because he suspects Bogo.”

Nick answered his phone and leaned back lazily in the passenger seat of the police cruiser as Judy rolled her eyes.

”Clawhauser, my friend," Nick said expansively into the phone. "How is my favorite cheetah doing on this fine morning?"

Judy saw Nick frown slightly as he listened to Clawhauser.

"A fox?" he asked blankly. Judy noticed a slight crease appear on his forehead above his sunglasses. "Uh-huh... Female, young... Yeah..."

Judy, for reasons she did not totally understand, felt herself tense up slightly.

"Is she... I don't know, wearing like... uh... I mean does she look like a..."

Judy felt herself tense up even more.

“Her name is Vulpecula?" Nick said, sounding surprised. "Really? Huh. What? No, there aren't any elementary schools called Vulpecula in the city… maybe you’re thinking of the Vole Academy…All right. We'll... We'll be right there."

He hung up the phone, staring at the cover of it for a moment before placing it slowly in his pocket.

"What was that about?" Judy asked, frowning.

"I'm not sure," Nick said hesitatingly. "But turn around, will you? I told Clawhauser we would head back to the station…”

"Why?" Judy asked patiently, looking over her left shoulder on the deserted street before turning into the left-hand turn lane.

"Most people don't always check their blind spots if they know the street is empty you know,” Nick said, smiling slightly.

“Nick! Why are we going to the station?”

Nick sighed.

"A fox wandered into the station wanting to see me today," he said. "Didn't want to talk to anyone else. Clawhauser thinks maybe she is, a, you know. A street walker."

"Why?" Judy asked, glancing at him sideways.

"A lot of vixens are," Nick said shrugging. "And they are frightened of cops but often see crimes. I think he thinks that is why she only wanted to see me. A fellow fox, you know."

Judy nodded, frowning slightly. How terrible would it be to witness a crime and not feel able to tell anyone. She shuddered slightly.

"Why did the name Vulpecula surprise you?” she asked after a moment, “it sounds like an unusual name...Pretty, though"

Nick shook his head. "No, it's a last name. This one is Vicki, apparently. It's a fairly common fox last name."

Nick felt Judy's unasked question. "I've known a few people with that last name," he said hesitatingly.

"But no Vicki’s..." Judy prompted, turning into the ZPD parking lot.

"Don't think so..."

"I thought you knew everybody," Judy said.

"What's with the interrogation, Carrots," Nick said, suddenly sounding irritated.

"Hey, I'm not the one constantly saying they know everyone," Judy snapped. As soon as the words left her mouth she winced slightly. She hadn't meant to sound so... bothered by this situation.

Pulling into a parking spot, she glanced over at Nick, who was staring out the window, quietly drumming his fingers On the windowsill of the car. He was wearing those sunglasses, of course. Judy shook her head slightly, wishing she had sunglasses to wear and cover her own eyes. Sometimes she felt so... exposed.

Chapter Text

"Oh, hi guys," Clawhauser said, looking up from showing a confused-looking weasel couple an animated picture of Gazelle on his phone. "Why do you two look so cranky?" Clawhauser continued, sounded exasperated. "This is a sensitive issue,"

"We're not cranky," Judy snapped.

Clawhauser rolled his eyes and sighed.

"Whatever. Just be nice to that adorable fox in there. I like her. She told me the juiciest Gazelle gossip."

"Excuse me," said one of the weasels, adjusting the small piece-nez on his nose. "Who do we talk to report a mugging?"

"Oh right, sorry, sorry," Clawhauser said, turning back to the weasels. He gestured behind him, glancing at Nick and Judy. "She's in room C. And smile! Smile! Be nice!"

 

---

Judy took a breath before entering the room. Clawhauser was right. She shouldn't let her confusing, mysterious irritation with Nick stop her from doing a good job.

The vixen had been staring out of one of the windows, her hand on her stomach. She whirled around when she heard them come in.

"Hello," Judy said promptly, extending her hand to the fox. "I'm Officer Judy Hopps, and this is Officer Nick Wilde.”

The fox stared at Judy’s hand for a few moments before gingerly taking it.

"Vicki Vulpecula," she said hesitatingly. She looked for a long moment at Nick. There was a weird look in her eye, like she was searching all over his face.

She was young, maybe about 20, and well, attractive. Very attractive, Judy realized with a sinking heart. She looked a lot like Nick, as a matter of fact. Not that Judy found Nick all that attractive, of course, I mean he was certainly objectively good-looking, but —

"I hear you want to report a crime," Nick said, sitting down at the table and gesturing towards a chair on the opposite side of the table for Vicki to sit down. Judy, jostled from her thoughts on Nick’s attractiveness, sat down beside him.

"Well..." She said, hesitatingly. "I... The cheetah sort of assumed that. I really just need to speak to you, Nick.”

"Why?" Judy asked.

"Well, it's pretty boring to be honest, I'm not sure it's really worth your time,” Vicki said, smiling at Judy.

"Anything you want to say to me you can say in front of Officer Hopps," Nick said, frowning and looking suspicious.

Judy felt her chest expand slightly.

Vicki raised an eyebrow at Nick, then silently reached into her purse and extracted a worn envelope. She slid it over to Nick.

Nick frowned and slipped the letter out of the envelope. At first, Judy was sure he was going to let her look at the letter as well, but as soon as he read the first few lines Judy saw his eyes widen and he jerked the letter close towards him.

Judy stared at him as he read the letter. It looked like he read it twice; the first time quickly, the second time more carefully.

Eventually he raised his eyes to look at Vicki.

"This is a hustle," he said flatly.

Vicki leaned back in her chair.

"Well define ‘hustle,'" she said. "Do I want money from you? Yes. Yes, I do." Judy stared. That sounded exactly like Nick. Did she know him from somewhere?

Vicki nodded at the letter in Nick's hand. "But is that letter real? Yes. Yes, it is."

“No. No, it's not," Nick said flatly.

Vicki smiled a tight lipped smile at him, and extracted three more items from her purse and gave them to Nick. Judy tried to get a look at them before Nick snatched them away: one looked like a photograph, the other a certificate, and the third another letter.

Nick rolled his eyes at what Judy thought was a certificate, but spent a long time looking at the photograph. When he finally opened the second letter, he exhaled deeply. He dropped in on the table. Judy, trying to look like she wasn’t trying to hard to look at the letter could make out the header: THE FREE HOSPITAL, OB/GYN DEPARTMENT.

"You're pregnant," he said flatly.

Judy felt her stomach drop to what felt like her knees.

"Yep," Vicki said. "But I still primarily want money."

"I don't have a lot of money," Nick began. "Cops don't make a lot, you know."

“I’ve been living under a bridge.” Vicki said after a moment's pause, sitting up slightly straighter and glancing at Judy out of the corner of her eye. "I don't have a place to stay. It’s not good for… you know, the cub,” she patted her stomach, “to live outside. Let me live with you.”

Judy went cold.

"No," Nick said. "Absolutely not."

"Then I want — please, I need — some money."

Vicki sighed and looked down at her hands. "Please."

Nick stared at her for a long moment, then looked down at the photograph in his hand. Judy stole a glance. A female fox, looking sad, was holding what looked like a baby fox. The baby was holding a small stuffed.... was that a salmon?

Nick turned to Judy.

"Can you please leave us alone for a moment?" he said, and Judy could tell he was trying very hard not to snap at her.

"Sure." Judy said, quickly getting up, "of course."

Judy left the room slowly and turned to stare at the closed door. She felt her ears dropping down her back. Everything seemed heavy. She hesitated for a second, thinking about listening at the door, but couldn't bear to see Nick's face if he found her.

Still, though. She couldn't help if she was naturally good at hearing, could she? She glanced around, and then screwed up her face in concentration, straining her ears as much as possible.

"I've never been much for family togetherness," Nick was saying.

“Yeah, well, you haven't had much of a family," Vicki said. Judy heard Nick sigh.

"Come on," Vicki said. "Please. I was staying with someone, but he kicked me out. He found someone else," she said, sounding bitter. "I just need a place to stay until I find a job and save up some money."

"I thought you said you wanted somewhere to stay until the cub was born."

"I was kind of hoping the rabbit would be really sympathetic to the pregnant angle," Vicki said after a pause. "Rabbits love kids, right?"

"Don't call her the rabbit," Nick said sharply.

"Do it for Marsha," Vicki wheedled.

"Oh, don't call her Marsha," Nick snapped.

Judy's nose prickled a bit. Who was Marsha?

"I'll call her whatever I want. She addressed that letter to me as Marsha,” Vicki said sharply. "Listen, you are a cop. What are you frightened I'll do? Rob you? Cramp your style? Just, I don't know, kick me out for a few hours if you have a lady coming over..."

Judy swallowed again.

She realized she actually didn't know much about Nick. What did he get up to when he wasn’t at work or hanging around with Judy?

Judy looked down at the linoleum tile beneath her feet.

“Let’s just say I believe you,” Nick said after another long pause. “And you are who you say you are. I just have a studio.” Judy felt colder, and then hot. Was he really going to let her live with him? She was going to move in? Was she… was that baby… her’s and… she gulped… Nick’s?

"I can sleep on the floor," Vicki said quickly. "All I need is a blanket, and I brought one.”

Well, that was comforting, at least, Judy thought. The idea of the two of them curled up in Nick's small bed... Judy felt a bit of bile rising in her throat.

“Read the letter again.” Vicki said, her voice becoming more pleading. “Please. Please. Marsha says to come to you if I’m ever in trouble —“

At that moment, Francine walked by. She chatted with Judy a bit -- Judy liked Francine, she was one of the kindest police officers on the force. So, she felt compelled to answer Francine's greeting and even make some noncommittal small talk with her. As she did so, she wished she could still hear what was going on in the room.

"You look upset about something," Francine said, frowning slightly. "Is everything okay?"

"Oh, yeah, just a headache..." Judy said as the door swung open and Nick stepped out, leading Vicki out of the room. Judy noticed that Nick's hand was on the small of her back.

"Ah," Francine, then glanced over at Nick. "Hi, Nick." She said. She paused. "Ah," she said, glancing at the vixen, and turning back to Judy and pulling a sympathetic smile.

Judy frowned at her. “It’s just a headache," she repeated. Francine nodded sadly and walked away. All of this infuriated Judy.
"Headache, Carrots?" Nick said. “Maybe you should take the rest of the day off. I’m going to ask Bogo if I can do that, too. Vicki is... Well... I think she is going to stay with me for a while. Although you probably heard everything," Nick said, smiling slightly at Judy.

Judy blushed.

"Well, most of it," she admitted softly.

"Yeah," Nick said, sighing expansively. "Well, you know what they say, family first. Proud of me, are you?”

Judy stiffened. She saw Vicki looking confusedly at her for a moment.

Oh, go to hell, Judy thought, and then felt instantly sad. She should be wishing Nick would go to hell. He is the one who apparently... apparently... slept with a... what are they called? Working girls?

"I'll call you," Nick said over his shoulder as he led Vicki away.

Judy rolled her eyes. As she felt cold tendrils of rage around her stomach, she stuck out a tongue at Nick's departing back. That made her feel a little better actually, although more than a little childish.

Chapter Text

"Judy.. Er... Officer Hopps lives a few floors up," Nick said, showing Vicki the small apartment. “ She got me the apartment and… well, it’s basically the same. Cops don't need a lot of space. Sorry it’s so small…”

"This is great!" Vicki said, a little overly brightly. "I mean, it beats living under a bridge, anyway."

"That's true," Nick agreed, and he watched Vicki pull out a threadbare blanket from her large purse and lay it carefully on the floor between Nick's small bed and desk.

"You should probably have the bed," Nick said after a moment. "You are pregnant.”

"I don't mind," Vicki said quickly. "I wasn't lying about the bridge. It’s where I spent the last week…”

Nick sighed.

"I'll go buy some pillows and things and we can work it out later. Do you... Need anything else? Clothes?" he asked, eyeing her large purse. It was large, but it was just a purse, after all.

"No, I have enough," she said, glancing up at him.

She hesitated for a moment, and looked up at him.

"How long was... Marsha away from you?" Vicki asked finally.

"Um," Nick said. “About half a year. I was 12."

"Yeah, it says that in the letter," Vicki said, nodding to her purse where the letter was safely tucked inside. "Where were you when she was gone?"

“Oh, pretending she was still around," Nick said after a moment. "I dropped out of school, started selling stuff on the corner to survive. Make rent. Paid the landlord in cash, told him Mom had cancer and couldn't get out of bed. That sort of thing. I didn’t want anyone to know she was gone, or else they would… you know…”

“Take you away,” Vicki said, nodding. “Yeah.”

“She was a good mother,” Nick said, after a moment. “Despite everything.”

“Despite leaving her twelve-year-old son totally alone for six months while she had another child with some unknown man? That child which she then left in a literal pile of garbage? Oh, and that letter says Mr. Fishy was yours. So, she also stole that from you to give it to me, but because we both ended up in the garbage… it’s pretty much like she threw away your Mr. Fishy. We both were going to be squished by the garbage truck! Your poor fishy, just being squished — ”

“That’s not fair,” Nick snapped. “She obviously wanted you to be found,” Nick said. “She stayed with you for a few months. She just… realized… Look, if she had wanted you to die, she wouldn’t have left that letter otherwise.” He paused. “Or… Mr. Fishy.”

Vicki sighed, looking down at the floor. She drummed her fingers on the ground and then smiled up at him.

“I know she had, you know. Mental issues. They told me that, when I turned 18. That’s when they gave me the letter and my real birth certificate. I know she’s dead. It’s good you loved her. Love her. She says in the letter you were a good son. That’s why… you know… she wanted me to come to you if I ever was in trouble.”

Nick turned away slightly, and Vicki saw him blinking rapidly.

“They also…” Vicki hesitated. “Well, they also gave me Mr. Fishy…”

Nick looked at her, looking stunned.

“You still have Mr. Fishy?”

“Yep,” Vicki said, smiling slightly. “It still has the tag on it where you wrote your name, too.” She reached into the bag and pulled out the very worn stuffed salmon. She tossed it to Nick, who caught it and stared at it for a long moment.

“You can have it,” she said. “You know. It’s being reunited with it’s owner.”

Nick looked up at her.

“No,” he said, after a moment, handing it back to her. “I think you should have it. Mom gave it to you.”

“Thanks, half-bro,” Vicki said, sliding on her sunglasses and lying down on the blanket on the ground. “Don’t let me keep you. Go… arrest some criminals or something. Buy those pillows you were talking about. I brought some books to read.”

“This getting too emotional for you?” Nick said, a slow smile spreading over his face.

“Ugh, emotions. Who needs ‘em?” Vicki said, stretching on the blanket. “By the way, I think that cute bunny might be a little confused about us.”

“Carrots?” Nick said, picking up his wallet and shoving it into his pocket and heading towards the door. “Nah, she has the best hearing. I’m sure she heard all about how much of a wonderful son I was, and how you were supposed to come to me if you were ever in any trouble. You certainly hammed it up in there. Besides, what else would she think?”

Behind her sunglasses, Vicki rolled her eyes.

Chapter Text

NUMBER: 29496

RECORD OF LIVE BIRTH

DATE FILED: November 10, 1996 at 4:12am
FILED BY: Lilac Hooves (Notary Public)
FILED AT: Tundratown Jewish Hospital

CHILD
When born: November 10, 1996 at 3:34am
Where born: Tundratown Jewish Hospital, Zootopia, Zoo York
Name, Last: VULPECULA
Name, First, Middle: VICTORIA, NICHOLAS
Species: FOX
Sex: FEMALE

MOTHER
Name, Last: WILDE
Name, First, Middle: MARSHA, GRACE
Name, Maiden: VULPECULA
Species: FOX
Birthplace: Rainforest District, Zootopia, Zoo York

FATHER
Name, Last: UNKNOWN
Name, First, Middle: UNKNOWN
Profession: UNKNOWN
Species: FOX
Birthplace: UNKNOWN

Witnesses:
Rokhel Fozstein (M.D.)
Michael O’Hoggerton (R.N.)

Registrar:
Lilac Hooves (Notary Public)

---

NUMBER 3,405,604

RECORD OF LIVE BIRTH

DATE FILED: June 20, 1992 at 9:13am
FILED BY: Gertrude Grey (Notary Public)
FILED AT: Bunnyburrow Towne Hall, Bunnyburrow, Zoo Jersey

CHILD
When born: June 16, 1992 at 3:45pm
Where born: 143 Blueberry Lane, Bunnyburrow, Zoo Jersey
Name, First, Middle: JUDY
Name, Last: HOPPS
Species: RABBIT
Sex: FEMALE

MOTHER
Name, Last: HOPPS
Name, First, Middle: BONNIE, PEACH
Name, Maiden: WHISKERTON
Species: RABBIT
Birthplace: Bunnyburrow, Zoo Jersey

FATHER
Name, Last: HOPPS
Name, First, Middle: STEWART
Profession: FARMER
Species: RABBIT
Birthplace: Rabbitton Estates, Zoo Jersey

Witnesses:
Megan Longears (Certified Midwife)
Cheryl Hopps (Older sibling over the age of 18)

Registrar:
Gertrude Grey (Notary Public)

---

CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE

KNOW THAT, ON THIS DAY March 27th, 1984, WE THE UNDERSIGNED, Nikolai Wilde AND HIS WIFE, Marsha Grace Wilde, BEFORE HER MARRIAGE TO HIM, Marsha Grace Vulpecula DO HEREBY MUTUALLY PROMISE, COVENANT, AND AGREE TO DISSOLVE ALL THE RELATIONS WHICH HAVE HITHERTO EXISTED BETWEEN US AS Husband and Wife AND TO KEEP OURSELVES SEPARATE AND APART FROM EACH OTHER, FROM THIS TIME FORWARD.

We have hereunder signed this at Towne Hall, Foxville, Zoo York on this the 27th of March, in the year of 1984.

Signatures:
Nikolai Wilde
Marsha Grace Wilde

Signed in the presence of
Fr. Iosif Alexfoxyev
R. Fozstein

---

NUMBER 10928

RECORD OF LIVE BIRTH

DATE FILED: March 23, 1984, 9:09am
FILED BY: Michael Strong (Notary Public)
FILED AT: Canine Birthing Centre, Foxville, Zoo York

CHILD
When born: March 23, 1984, 2:09am
Where born: Canine Birthing Centre, Foxville, Zoo York
Name, First, Middle: NICHOLAS, PIBERIUS
Name, Last: WILDE
Species: FOX
Sex: MALE

MOTHER
Name, Last: WILDE
Name, First, Middle: MARSHA, GRACE
Name, Maiden: VULPECULA
Species: FOX
Birthplace: Rainforest District, Zootopia, Zoo York

FATHER
Name, Last: WILDE
Name, First, Middle: NIKOLAI
Profession: ACTOR
Species: FOX
Birthplace: Mowscar, Roosia

 

Witnesses:
Rokhel Fozstein (M.D.)
Pete Simmons (R.N.)

Registrar:
Michael Strong (Notary Public)

---

CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE

Date of Marriage: JANUARY 1, 1984
Place of Marriage: ROOSIAN ORTHODOX CHUCH OF FOXVILLE, FOXVILLE, ZOO YORK

 

Husband
Name: NIKOLAI WILDE
Age: 45
Birthplace: MOWSCAR, ROOSIA
Country of Citizenship (only record if not UMSA): ROOSIA
Residence: FOXVILLE
Species: FOX
Sex: MALE
Parents: ANDREI and IRINA WILDE (ROOSIAN)
Occupation: ACTOR

 

Wife
Name: MARSHA GRACE VULPECULA
Age: 20
Birthplace: RAINFOREST DISTRICT, ZOOTOPIA
Residence: FOXVILLE
Species: FOX
Parents: ANN VULPECULA (NO FATHER LISTED)

Ceremony Performed By: FATHER IOSIF ALEXFOXYEV
Reported By: K. Catskills, Foxville Circuit Court, Zoo York
Date Record filed: January 4, 1984

Reported by: Shira Shyarm, Foxville Circuit Court, Zoo York

 

---

CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE

Date of Marriage: APRIL 12, 1973
Place of Marriage: FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, BUNNYBURROW, ZOO JERSEY

Husband
Name: STEWART HOPPS
Age: 17
Birthplace: Rabbitton Estates, Zoo Jersey
Residence: Bunnyburrow, Zoo Jersey
Species: RABBIT
Parents: JACK and JANE HOPPS
Occupation: FARMER

Wife
Name: BONNIE PEACH WHISKERTON
Age: 17
Birthplace: BUNNYBURROW, ZOO JERSEY
Residence: BUNNYBURROW, ZOO JERSEY
Species: RABBIT
Parents: CARROTER and PEARL WHISKERTON

Ceremony Performed By: FATHER JOHN EARS
Reported By: Sally Strongleg, Bunnyburrow Circuit Court, Zoo Jersey

Chapter Text

Francine waited patiently for Clawhauser to finish gossiping with that new cheetah recruit. When Clawhauser finally turned to her, she smiled slightly.

"Do you... you know... like him?" Francine asked, nodding toward the retreating back of the cheetah. "What's his name again?

"Leonard Styx," Clawhauser said, looking longingly at the door Leonard just walked thought. He sighed. "He is all right, I suppose. I mean, he's no Chief Bogo."

Francine giggled at Clawhauser's mention of his not-serious-but-at-the-same-time-not-not-serious crush on the impassive chief. Seeing an elephant giggle is one of the most pleasurable sights in the world, and Clawhauser smiled happily.

"So what's up with you?" Clawhauser asked, still smiling up at Francine.

"I think we should take Judy out tonight. It's Friday. We can probably pressure her into going."

"Out? Judy? Out where?" Clawhauser asked doubtfully. "She doesn't go out much. Would we invite Nick too?"

"No," Francine said, sighing a little. "I think she is a little upset about Nick, to be honest."

Francine then told Clawhauser about Judy's face when Nick and the vixen left the interrogation room in the back, and that Nick had mentioned that the fox would stay with him for a while.

"Really?" Clawhauser exclaimed. "She's staying with Nick? I thought she was a street-walker who wanted to report a crime off-the-books to a fox!"

"Well... I guess she could be," Francine said, doubtfully. "But Nick was acting like he knew her."

"Huh," Clawhauser said. He paused for a moment. "And Judy looked..."

"Devastated," Francine supplemented.

"Hmmm..." Clawhauser said, grabbing another donut and thoughtfully popping it into his mouth. "She ever say anything about interspecies relationships?"

"No," Francine said. "I have no idea. I mean, they seem very fond of each other, but half the time they act like brother and sister, and the other half of the time Judy seems so... well..."

"Yeah, old-fashioned," Clawhauser said. "I thought she wasn't going to make it here at all."

"So I thought somewhere light and fun to take Judy's mind off of things. Maybe we could try to throw some makeup on her so she feels pretty."

"Hmmm..." Clawhauser said. "Why don't we take her to the Spotted Elk?"

Francine groaned.

"Somewhere light and fun, I said!" she exclaimed. "How would going to a dance club full of interspecies and gay couples help her--"

"No, it's perfect," Clawhauser interrupted her. "A., she almost certainly won't see anyone she knows. B., it will almost definitely take her mind off of whatever is going on with Nick, and C., it will sort of... you know... remind her that animals do sometimes date outside of the species. In case she is feeling confused about Nick.”

“Items B and C seem to be directly opposed to one another," Francine remarked dryly.

"No, I don't think so," Clawhauser said, standing up suddenly. He looked excited. "We don't even know if Judy likes Nick like that. It's hard to tell with her. But she'll get so interested in politics of interspecies couples and the hardships they face… you know, she’ll probably talk a lot about “togetherness” and “harmony” such relationships could bring to Zootopia that all this business with Nick will just slip away. Plus it's by far the most fun club in the city. And she does like the kind of music they play there. So poppy."

Francine nodded.

"Okay. But only because it is a fun place. And they are the only place in Zootopia that can make an elephant-sized Peanut Tequila Sunrise properly. If she starts to feel weird about you know..." Francine glanced behind her and noticed a group of other officers were charging into the room, a handcuffed criminal in tow, "the N situation seems to be stressing her out too much, I'm taking her somewhere else."

"OK, go tell her," Clawhauser said, getting ready to talk to the group of cops barreling towards him. "And tell her I'm sad or something or she probably won't go. Bunnies. Always thinking of others."

--

Francine knocked on the side of Judy's cubicle. Judy, her ears drooping, glanced over at her.

"Hi, Francine," Judy said, silently wishing that Francine would not bring up the scene between Nick and... And... That fox Vicki from this morning. "What's up?"

"Well, Clawhauser is... feeling really depressed," Francine said, somewhat lamely. She was not a talented liar.

"Really?" Judy asked, frowning slightly. "Why?"

"Oh... He had a really bad date last night...." Francine said,

"Oh." Judy wrinkled her nose. "That's too bad."

"And he wanted to go out with you and me tonight to cheer himself up. You know. We can dance to some terrible pop music. Wear some sparkly shirts and drink cocktails.

"Sparkly?" Judy asked. "I don't have anything like that."

"Yeah, I suspected that," Francine said dryly. The few times that Francine had seen Judy out of her uniform she had either been wearing workout clothes or what Clawhauser lovingly referred to as gingham-grandma-chic. "I asked Gina if she had anything you could borrow and she immediately left to go home and grab what she described as 'literally anything that is not gingham.' Then she thanked me in advance for quote 'not inviting me to an evening which will probably end in Clawhauser crying into fro-yo' end quote."

"What even is her job here?" Judy asked, frowning. “I’ve been here almost a year and I still don’t know. Is she some kind of secretary?"

Francine rolled her eyes.

"She's technically the "civilian liaison" but she seems to spend most of her time tweeting. For some reason, Bogo likes her."

"Huh," Judy said, as Gina, a smaller-than-average raccoon, quickly scurried up behind Francine.

"Hiiiiiii," she said, eagerly displaying a very large suitcase with a dancing wolf emblazoned on it. "I am like, unbelievably psyched to help usher Judy into the world of clothing not intended for babies and grandmothers."

"Hey!" Judy said, her cheeks getting warmer as she scowled at Gina. "My clothes are fine."

"Yeah," Gina said. "I was at that christening where you became a godmother to that rodent. I saw what you wore."

"That was a church-appropriate dress!" Judy exclaimed.

"It was a long-sleeved sundress with carrots embroidered on it. I literally don't know why long-sleeved sundresses are even a thing."

"You're bigger than me," Judy continued, ignoring the last remark. "Nothing will fit."

"God invented pins for a reason," Gina said. "I've helped tons of my tinier, fashion-behind friends get out of their comfort zone. Come on."

"It'll be fun," Francine urged. "I'm dressing up, and Clawhauser will probably wear something so over-the-top no one will take much notice of you."

"But they will notice if you wore some gingham garment intended for a post-menopausal rabbit,” Gina interjected, anticipating Judy's response that if no one would notice her, certainly it wouldn't matter what she wore.

Clawhauser was summoned, and the three mammals sat on the floor of the one unisex bathroom in the station, judging each one of Judy's potential outfits.

"This is literally the seventh outfit," Judy said, sounding exasperated as she opened the bathroom stall door and stepped out. "I've pretty much reached my limit."

"THAT'S IT!" Gina yelled. "Look at you! You don't look like there's anything wrong with you, which is definitely a plus."

Judy glared at her.

"Actually, that does look really nice, Judy," Francine said, indicating that Judy should hop up onto the counter and take a look at herself in the mirror.

"I still liked that one with the multicolored feathers..." Clawhauser sighed wistfully.

"No, Clawhauser," Judy said irritably, straightening up on the counter. She blinked at her reflection.

She was wearing a black dress with small straps encrusted with fake (at least Judy hoped they were fake) diamonds.

"It's too big," Judy said, pulling on a fistful of extra fabric around her waist. "It's huge on me."

"God, always bragging about how svelte you are," Gina said, clambering up after her and holding several pins as well as a thin silver belt in her mouth. "Hold your arms out to your sides and don't move or I'll stick you with a pin." Gina worked quickly, gathering some fabric here and there, pinning it, and eventually pulling the belt tight around her waist.

"...Huh," Judy said, staring at herself in the mirror. She felt... older. "This looks... okay, right?"

"Okay?" Clawhauser exclaimed, "you look amazing! Oh, I can't wait to go home and get ready too! Francine and Judy, you guys have to come over and help me. We can even...." Clawhauser gasped, "do shots!"

"Wow," Gina said, hopping down from the counter and rolling her eyes. She gathered up the rest of her clothes which were scattered around the bathroom floor. "I've never been happier to go on a mandatory date with some asshole raccoon. That way you can’t invite me to go with you and face the embarrassment of my refusal.”

“A mandatory date?” Judy asked.

"My mom set me up with him..." Gina said, hooking her suitcase in her elbow and reaching into her pocket for phone. "Smile, Judy!"

"Huh?" Judy asked, as she heard the click of the camera app. Gina's fingers flew across her phone.

"What are you doing?" Judy asked suspiciously.

"Hmm? Oh, I'm texting this picture to foxy foxy Nick with the caption "Francine, Clawhauser, and Judy are going to a club tonight and I just lent Judy a dress. You can use this photo to blackmail her. You owe me one, Foxxxy." Oh and I spelled the last "foxy" with three x'es so he knows I'm serious. Sent."

Judy felt herself go pale. Francine and Clawhauser gave each other a look.

Gina frowned slightly and began texting furiously again.

"What are you texting now!?" Judy squeaked.

Gina looked up. "Oh, I just texted how weird it is that I don't know Francine's last name or Clawhauser's first name, and also how little I care about ever finding out.” Gina then pocketed her cell phone. "See you later, losers," she called out while exiting the bathroom.

"What a nice, well-balanced girl," Francine said dryly as the door swung shut behind her.

Judy felt her cell phone buzz. She paled visibly.

"What did he say?" Clawhauser asked her, helping her down from the counter and laughing.

Judy gulped and glanced at the cell phone screen. "Nice dress. I assume you are going to embroider some carrots on it before going out tonight though, right?"

Clawhauser started to giggle but stopped as soon as he saw Judy's ears droop.

Judy wondered if Nick and that... Vicki character were both somewhere, cuddling together and laughing at her. She suddenly felt slightly sick.

"Gina and Nick can both be a lot," Francine said, after a moment. "They both just joke around a lot, you look wonderful. And I know Gina really wishes she could go out with us because earlier today she looked really sad about it."

"Yeah," Judy said grudgingly. "When I first started working here, I took everything Gina said literally." She paused for a minute. “That means I literally thought she was the star a reality show called 'Rockin' Raccoon Gina' but just worked here when she wasn’t shooting for what she described as 'the ambiance.'"

Francine laughed. "Come on, let's grab my clothes from my place and go to Clawhauser's. We can grab a pizza before going out."

Judy perked up a bit. She was feeling hungry and she liked pizza.

Chapter Text

Vicki waited a few minutes after Nick left, just staring at the ceiling and humming quietly to herself.

Eventually convinced that Nick was really gone, she hopped up from the blanket and creaked the door open to the hallway and glanced up and down it. Empty. Closing the door, and still humming to herself, she wandered over to the window.

She hoisted the window open and leaned out, looking up and down. The window was on the back side of the apartment complex, overlooking an empty alleyway. Popping back into the apartment, she grabbed a role of masking tape from her bag. She closed the window halfway, and then carefully placed a long piece of masking tape on window.

That done, she nodded slightly to herself and laid back on her blanket, pulled out a paperback book, and began to read.

About ten minutes later, a flying squirrel flew in through the window.

The squirrel tried to land neatly on the windowsill, tripped, and tumbled onto Vicki's head.

"Sam," she said, moving out of the way of the furry projectile. "For God's sakes...."

"Sorry," Sam grunted. "New apartment, still trying to get the angle of entry right..."

"Nobody saw you, did they?" Vicki asked anxiously. "I need to get kicked out of here like I need a hole in my head."

"Yeah, I was kind of wondering why you want to continue this when staying with the cop," Sam said taking off a red backpack and unzipping it. "This is maybe not your smartest idea ever."

"It doesn't matter as long as nobody saw you," Vicki said pointedly.

"Nobody saw me."

Sam pulled out a ziplock bag full of pills.

"Here you are, my dear," he said, giving them to her. "Fifty bucks."

"Can you take an IOU?" Vicki asked. Sam rolled his eyes. "C'mon," Vicki pleaded. "I get paid in about a month. I've got a steady contract lined up... nice, stable work."

"Writing porn? I assume no one is paying you to write those little sad vignettes about growing up in the orphanage..."

"Exotic Animalia Publishers prefer the work to be referred to as bodice-ripping paperback romance novels, instead of porn, thank you very much," Vicki said smiling slightly as she grabbed the bag of pills.

"Bodices?"

"Mysteriously, they require about half of all contracted novels to take place in the Victorian age. I can only assume people like to imagine they are wearing bodices. And every eighth book has to contain at least one pirate."

"Would it count if you wrote one about someone who pirates software?" Sam asked.

Vicki laughed.

"Maybe I'll try that..."

Sam looked at her fondly for a moment, then sighed.

"If you give me twenty-five now, we'll call it even."

"Thanks, Sam," Vicki said, reaching into her purse and extracting a small green wallet. She gave him the money and he nodded slightly.

"It's a good cause, after all," he said nodding towards her. "All right, well I've got things to do and people to see," he said, hopping back onto the windowsill via the radiator and waving good-bye to her. "See ya, kid," he said, before disappearing through the window.

After he was gone, Vicki carefully removed the masking tape from the window, and, making sure no one was in the alleyway, closed and locked the window. Marching over the door to the apartment, she locked that too. Hearing Nick open the door with a key would give her enough time to hide the stash.

She then dumped the pills out onto the desk. They were unlabeled again. She sighed slightly. Unlabeled pills were always a risk -- but Sam was pretty reliable. Reaching into her large purse, she extracted a small mortar and pestle, a small notebook and pencil, and a container of Country-Time Blueberry Drink Mix.

She set the drink mix, notebook, and pencil onto the desk. She carefully dumped three pills into the mortar and began to crush them up. When they were sufficiently powdery, she dumped the powder into the juice mix, carefully making a note in the notebook. She did this carefully and quickly, until all the pills had been turned into powder and mixed in with the drink mix.

She then screwed the top of the drink mix carefully back on, threw away the ziplock bag, and carefully dusted off the desk. She then placed the drink mix and the mortar and pestle back into her purse and carefully zipped it back up.

She then laid down on her blanket and picked up her book and began to read.

About half an hour later, she heard the key in the lock. Nick came in, holding several large bags from Bison, Bath, and Beyond.

"Hey," she said, sitting up.

"I got a couple pillows for whoever is sleeping on the floor," Nick said, setting down the bags. "Um," he said after a moment.

"What?" Vicki said, trying not to look worried. Please don't kick me out, she prayed silently. It’s only been like two hours…

"Well... I saw this at the store, and couldn't resist," Nick said, smiling slightly and extracting a small plush bunny from the bag. The bunny had large, green eyes, and was wearing a shirt that said "Baby's First Friend" in green lettering. Vicki blinked for a moment, and her mind flashed back to that rabbit Nick worked with. Huh.

"...Thanks," Vicki said after a moment, carefully setting it by her purse.

"You had better really be pregnant," Nick said, now pulling the pillows out of the bag. "If you're not, I'm going to make you return that yourself to the nice check-out lady who thought I was just the cutest for buying it for my pregnant sister. She even gave me the employee discount." He looked up at her, grinning. "And you will have to tell her you lied to me about being pregnant for sympathy points as part of an elaborate hustle."

Vicki barked out a short laugh.

"No, no, I really am. Due in three weeks."

"That's pretty soon," Nick said, looking up startled. "You don't look..."

"This shirt is like three sizes too big," Vicki said dryly. Nick nodded after a moment's pause.

"I actually have a job lined up," Vicki said, hesitatingly as Nick passed her the pillows. "But it doesn't pay until a month. I could get something else in the meantime -- waitressing, or something -- but I don't know, it's harder for me to be on my feet all day…"

"Oh yeah?" Nick said, sounding surprised. "What's the job?"

"Oh..." Vicki said, pausing for a moment. Maybe she shouldn't tell him. Cops were supposed to be old-fashioned and prejudiced, weren't they? She thought again about how fond he seemed to be of that rabbit. He was probably going to find out anyway...

"Well, you know those dirty books about interspecies romances that you can either buy at those shady street-corner kiosks or get them mailed to your door in discreetly labeled boxes?"

Nick grinned at her. "You sell those? To sad housewives looking to spice up their marriages with thoughts of strong lions and cheetahs bursting through bedroom doors and tearing off their bodices?"

Vicki felt a rush of relief. He wasn't horrified yet, so that was a good start.

"No," Vicki said, after a pause. "Pretty good summary of our clientele, though. I'm one the lead writers for the biggest publisher in the industry. Exotic Animalia Publishers."

Nick's eyebrows raised at her.

"Really?" He said, sounding more than a little disbelieving of this story. "Why are you so poor then?"

"I squandered away all my money from my last contract on my ex-boyfriend," Vicki said, rolling her eyes. "I made some bad decisions. Also, you might be shocked to find out that writing interspecies erotica is not the cash cow you would imagine it to be."

She pulled out her cell phone and brought up an e-mail. She handed the phone to Nick. "You see, here’s the email of them renewing my contract."

"You write under the name of Verity Voleman?" Nick asked after reading the email, sounding amused.

"Yep," Vicki said, smiling at him.

"Your ex? The one you gave all your money too? He's the dad of the kit?" Nick asked, nodding towards Vicki's stomach.

"Thanks for the pillows," Vicki said, laying back. "I refuse to take your bed."

Chapter Text

The pizza was pretty tasty, Judy had to admit. She had never had pizza with pineapple on it before, but she was now on her third slice. And her first cocktail.

"Have you ever been to this club before, Francine? The Spotted Elk?" Judy asked, sipping the Tequila Sunrise carefully. She wasn't particularly used to the taste of alcohol, no matter how much fruit juice the drink also contained.

"Yep," Francine said, holding a mascara wand with her trunk. She carefully applied mascara onto her eyelashes, her mouth hanging open slightly. "It's really fun. They play the newest music and you're never overdressed."

Judy glanced down at herself in her black dress.

"That's good," she agreed.

"And it's a place where people can really be themselves," Clawhauser said pointedly, slurping up the last of his Long Island Iced Tea.

"What do you mean?" Judy asked doubtfully. Right now, she wasn't sure that she felt like herself.

"Well," Francine said, shooting Clawhauser a look. "It's a place where a lot of people looking for different kinds of relationships go to."

"Like gay people?" Judy said, taking another dainty bite of her pizza. “Twenty-five of my brothers and sisters are gay. And I think another two or three might eventually come out," she swallowed, and then took another sip of her drink.

She glanced up at Francine and Clawhauser, who were both staring at her.

"What?" she asked defensively.

"How many siblings do you have?" Francine asked.

"I never thought you would have known so many gay people!" Clawhauser exclaimed.

“Two-hundred-seventy-five brothers and sisters," Judy said, looking up at the two shocked faces. "I am a bunny, after all. We have a lot of kids.”

“Your poor mother…” Clawhauser whispered, looking shocked.

“She didn’t mind being pregnant that much —“ Judy started defensively...

“Two-hundred-seventy-five children and only twenty-eight gay children?” Clawhauser finished dryly.

Francine spit out a bit of her drink and choked back giggles.

Judy laughed.

“OK, well, I’ve met gay people, they don’t shock me,” Judy said. “I went to a gay bar in Bunnyburrow with my brother Clyde once. It was really fun.”

“Well…” Francine said. Judy looked at her. “A lot of these couples, gay or straight, also date outside their species.”

This time, Judy did look somewhat shocked, but was obviously trying very hard not to show it.

“Cool,” she said casually, taking a too-large-gulp of her drink and dribbling some of it onto her dress. “Oops,” she said, staring at the stain, feeling stupid.

“It’s a black dress, no one will notice,” Francine said soothingly. “Don’t worry.”

“Did any of your brothers or sisters date outside the species?” Clawhauser asked inquisitively. Judy felt her face go red.

“Well…” she said, hesitatingly, “I feel pretty ashamed to admit this…”

Francine and Clawhauser imperceptibly leaned forward.

“Well… my parents aren’t really all that accepting on that issue…” Judy continued, suddenly looking sad. “I do have an older sister, Beverly, who is married to a squirrel. His name is Squires. But… my mom and dad wouldn’t even go to their wedding.” Judy looked down at her hands. “I was too little to go myself. But now at least they come around sometimes for family reunions, and Mom and Dad will even talk to Squires but… well… everyone still treats them like they're weird. I try to help her, but I know that Beverly hates coming home.”

“That’s too bad,” Francine said, patting Judy on the head with one large hand. She hesitated for a moment, and glanced quickly at Clawhauser. “Will going to this place be too painful for you? You know…” Francine paused, “will it remind you of your sister too much?”

Judy thought for a minute, and then smiled.

“No, it’s good,” she said definitively. “I should probably get more used to being around interspecies relationships. It might even help my relationship with Beverly. And I wouldn’t want to feel awkward in front of an interspecies couple if they came into the station reporting a crime, would I?”

She looked expectantly at Francine and Clawhauser. Francine looked slightly stunned, but Clawhauser nodded encouragingly.

“Yes, you’re right,” he said happily. “Well, we should probably get going soon, right?”

“OK. Let me just use the bathroom before we go!” Judy said, hopping off of the tall chair she had been sitting on.

“My God,” Francine said, staring unbelievably at Clawhauser. “Talking about interspecies relationships does cause her to go… all… do-goody and how-to-be-a-better-cop. She didn’t seem to think about Nick at all!”

“I knew she would,” Clawhauser said, nodding happily. “She always thinks about other people instead of herself.”

“Hmm…” Francine said thoughtfully. “Or she doesn’t really like Nick like that…”

In the bathroom, Judy washed her hands slowly and looked anxiously at her face in the mirror. An interspecies bar. Hmmm.

She hadn’t told Francine and Clawhauser this, but she loved Beverly and Squires’s relationship. Ever since she was young enough to understand what was going on, she had stared intently at the two of them, wondering if she would ever be in a relationship like that. It was the way Squires and Beverly held hands. So fiercely. She once saw the two of them talking to each other before going into her family’s house. They hadn’t seen her peeking at them from the entryway window.

“Are you sure you want to come in?” Beverly had been asking Squires.

“Of course,” Squires said, but he had looked uncomfortable all the same.

“OK,” Beverly said, exhaling slowly and nodding. “Well, let’s decide on a secret signal. If one of us scratches our noses, that means it is time to leave - no questions asked.”

A secret signal! Judy, an eleven-year-old, had been entranced. Imagine loving someone so much that you decided on secret signals before going into parties! Loving someone so much that you would face being jeered at, mocked… even disappointing your parents for them. That kind of love, Judy had thought as an eleven-year-old, must be pretty hard to come by.

Later in her life, she had heard some of her other brothers and sisters making dismissive comments that Beverly had married outside the species just because she “had wanted attention.” When Judy heard those comments, she always felt a lump in her throat. She remembered how Squires had looked at Beverly when she had told him about the secret signal. He had looked so… so scared, and so… well, so brave. And he had looked at Beverly so... tenderly. He looked like he loved her so, so much.

And then there’s me, Judy thought sadly to herself, drying her hands on the hand-towel. I’ve never loved someone that much… and certainly no one has ever loved me that much….

Her phone buzzed again. She pulled it out of her pocket, staring at the screen blankly. It was Nick. A text.

Hey, Carrots. You never responded to my last text. Was it too mean? I know you don’t embroider carrots on everything…. You look very nice, though. I’m sure you’ll knock all the rabbits dead tonight. 

Judy laughed quietly, shaking her head. She had forgotten all about Nick's previous text.

Doubtful they’ll be rabbits, she texted, we're going to an interspecies bar tonight, I guess. the spotted elk

She had expected Nick to respond right away - he usually did - and she waited a few moments for him to text back. No answer. She wondered, feeling tight in her chest, if he was busy with… with Vicky. Ugh. A part of her brain knew that Vicki was probably a very nice person and just down-on-her-luck, but a larger part of her brain thought she was probably a demonic hell-witch.

Sighing, and feeling quite a bit sadder than before, Judy walked out of the bathroom and got ready to leave Clawhauser’s apartment.

In all the bustle of getting ready to go, she missed the signal that she had received another text.

You never cease to amaze me, Judy...  

A few seconds later, Judy missed another text.

You might run into Finnick there, he's gone on a few dates with some ocelot. tell him hi for me if you see him. also tell him he owes me 30 bucks.

Chapter Text

CWL (Child Welfare and the Law) 467: Legal Issues in Social Work and Their Ramifications

Essay #2:

Marsha Vs. The State: The Limits of the Non-Interventionist Approach?

Review the case Marsha Vs. The State. A discussion of this case can be found on pages 56-60 in your textbook, Mixed-Species Orphanages and Their Legal Struggles. As a reminder, the prominent facts of the case are as follows:

- Marsha abandoned her child, who was at that time between the ages of 8-13, to have another child. She lived with her new infant for a period of several months, never contacting her first child during that time. Eventually she abandoned the second child with some personal items including a document which (1) identified herself as the mother of the infant, (2) stated her desire that the child be raised in an orphanage, and (3) admitted her guilt for leaving her first child unattended for at least three months. She left the infant and these materials in a trash can. However, this trash can was directly in front of a mixed-species orphanage, and the infant was quickly discovered.

- Under law XXVII of the Zootopia Child Welfare Act/The Act To Prevent Infanticide, no parent can be persecuted for abandoning an infant with the intent of placing the child in an orphanage.

- Under law CXI section (2) part (a) item (iii) it is illegal and a case of severe child endangerment to leave a child under the age of 16 unsupervised without a caretaker for more than two consecutive days.

- By the time the State realized the first child had been a victim of severe physical and emotional neglect, Marsha had returned to the first child. Marsha then entered treatment for severe bipolar disorder and was medicated. Marsha responded very well to medication.

- The first child, in an interview with a State-Appointed Psychologist (SAP) appeared to be in good physical and mental health, although the child had dropped out of school.

The main LEGAL QUESTIONS of the case were as follows:

1. Did Marsha commit a crime by leaving her second child in the trash near the orphanage, or could this placement be considered a legitimate good-faith attempt to place the child in an orphanage?

2. Marsha undoubtedly committed a crime by abandoning her first child for several months. However, should the State now intervene and separate Marsha’s first child from her? Should the first child be placed alongside his or her sibling in the orphanage? (Consider the State’s extreme reticence to separate parents with their children when the child is not under immediate mental or physical danger. Was the first child in immediate danger?) How does or does not Marsha’s disability (severe bipolar disorder) affect her ability to parent?

3. Who owns the materials left with the infant? Marsha, the infant, the orphanage, or the State?

The case ended with a non-interventionist approach, wherein Marsha was neither tried nor separated from her first child. The second child was raised in the orphanage, and the letters and items left with the infant were deemed to be the infant’s property, but could not be owned by him or her until he or she turned eighteen.

Do you agree or disagree with the State’s ruling? Why or why not? What does this case demonstrate about the limitations of the non-interventionist approach when dealing with child, infant, and family law? Do you think the orphanage’s status as a mixed-species orphanage had any bearing on the case, as these orphanages are generally considered to be less able to successfully socialize older children (see pages 3-4 in Mixed-Species Orphanages and Their Legal Struggles)?

The paper is due two weeks from today. Papers should be 3-5 pages, double spaced. Papers must be uploaded to tapiritin.com. All discussion of the case must be cited PROPERLY.

Chapter Text

A text exchange between Nick and Gina while Judy is heading out to the club...

 

GINA: wassup foxxxy

NICK: nothing

GINA: i heard a vixen moved in with you wtf

NICK: yah, she’s my sister.

GINA: you told me you didn’t have siblings, liar

GINA: how can i ever trust you again

NICK: it’s a bit complicated. aren’t you supposed to be out with that raccoon banker?

GINA: i am, he sucks. he keeps talking about finance

NICK: you must be a great date, texting away

GINA: I’m the best date he’ll ever have

GINA: why didn't u go to the club w judy and them

NICK: i wasn’t invited

GINA: wtf

GINA: they must hate you

GINA: u must be so pissed, judy looked so hot

NICK: *typing bubbles*

*pause*

NICK: *typing bubbles*

*pause*

NICK: i dunno what your talking about

GINA: lol, right

GINA: do u wanna crash their party i know where they are going.

NICK: i kno where they are going too, judy told me

GINA: i miss seein you out of uniform

GINA: those stupid short sleeved button ups

NICK: aren’t you on a date?

GINA: yah, i’m totally on a date, i’m eating spaghetti. i can bail tho

GINA: bring ur sis

GINA: oh she’s preggers

GINA: can a pregger person go 2 a club

NICK: HOW DID YOU KNOW SHE WAS PREGNANT

GINA: dude, news gets around

GINA: ask her if she took folic acid today

NICK: is that a drug?

GINA: jesus, nick. it’s a vitamin the fetus eats

NICK: ok ill ask

*pause*

NICK: she says she forgot to eat dinner let alone folic acid

NICK: she also says the fetus doesn't eat it and asks where you practice medicine

GINA: she sounds pretty dope

GINA: u 2 should come here and eat spaghetti with me

NICK: nah

GINA: dude yaaasss we can pretend we just ran into each other and then i can say oh you should join us and then u can sit with me

NICK: won’t your date be annoyed?

GINA: i dont care

NICK: i think judy might be mad at me, i sent her some texts and she didn’t respond

GINA: jesus christ, nick. you have to get your life together

GINA: this rich raccoon will pay if you guys sit with us i bet

NICK: we’ll be right there. what restaurant

GINA: luigis

NICK: k

Chapter Text

Judy was having fun, she had to admit. She had tried three different types of cocktails, and even finished two of them. Males kept… well… looking at her. She could feel it. It made her feel… lighter, somehow. Powerful.

And the music was ridiculously poppy, and there were pink and purple lights streaming all over the dance floor. The lights bounced off the shiny material Clawhauser’s ridiculous pink pants were made of. Francine had even talked intently to a hippo for a while.

She was happy.

“Judy,” Francine called, “come to the bathroom with me!”

“OK!” Judy yelled back. Going to the bathroom in with friends seemed to be a thing females did in clubs, she thought to herself as the two entered the bathroom. It was packed with women, and no one actually seemed to be using the bathroom. A group of rodents were — were they smoking? — laughing together on the countertop next to a sink, a tiger was chatting with a giraffe, and it sounded like… oh. It sounded like two women were um… having some private time in a bathroom stall.

“I just really needed a breather,” Francine said, leading Judy to a sink on the far side of the bathroom (and far away from the sounds of the couple, Judy was happy to notice). She splashed some water on her face. “It is really warm out there.”

“It is,” Judy said, giving the rodents a sideways glance. "They really shouldn’t be smoking in here, should they?”

“Oh, Judy,” Francine sighed. “Try not to be such a… such a… cop, will you?”

Judy sighed.

“I’ve always been a goody-two-shoes,” she mumbled. “I can’t help it.” She hopped up onto the countertop.

Francine smiled down at her.

“I wouldn’t say that,” she said, carefully examining her makeup. “Just… well… good. A good person.”

“Is it true that Vicki moved in with a cop?” The voice rang out as the bathroom door burst open, and a youngish female jaguar wandered in, accompanied by a moose with a ferret on her shoulder, happily swaying to the sound of the music blaring in from the club.

Judy froze. She gave Francine a sideways glance. Had Francine heard?

Francine paused for a minute, and then gave Judy a look and slowly pulled out her cell phone.

“Let me show you this funny text, Judy…” Francine said quietly - quietly enough so they could both hear the voices of the rambunctious trio - and quickly typed on her phone “how close do you have to be to hear them?”

Judy pulled out her phone as well, and typed “I can hear them fine,” sending the text to Francine.

“Me too,” Francine texted back. “We might have to move a little closer if they realize how loud they are being.”

“I haven’t seen Vicki in a long time,” the ferret said. “She’s pregnant, right?”

“Really?!” exclaimed the moose. “God, I am always the last to know everything.”

“Yeah,” the jaguar said. “She is. And then that sleaze ball kicked her out of his house. She stayed with me for a bit but then my goddamn roommate kicked her out when she found out what she does for a living.”

Judy tried to look nonchalant but her heart was beating very, very fast.

“What?” The moose asked. “She’s a writer, isn’t she?”

Judy frowned. A writer? She hadn’t looked like a writer. She had looked like a demon-witch from hell.

“Well, yeah,” the jaguar said, rolling her eyes. “But she writes dirty romance novels. And my roommate is this really right-wing, traditional Christian and basically acted as though she was a prostitute or something. I have got to find a new roommate.”

“Why did she move in with a cop?” the moose said, her brow furrowing.

The ferret suddenly gasped.

“It’s not… not… Nicholas, is it?” The ferret looked horrified. “She wouldn’t really just move in with him, would she?”

Still pretending to be texting and not eavesdropping, Judy felt a sudden, and bizarre, rush of anger towards the ferret. What was wrong with Nick?

“Apparently, yes,” the jaguar said, sounding heavy. "She was hoping he would give her money, but suddenly she's staying with him for a few nights."

“What if he murders her!” the ferret cried. “What if he is unstable! What if he freaks out!”

Now Judy felt really confused. Nick was… odd, sometimes, sure, but he wasn’t violent.

“I should probably text her to make sure she’s okay,” the jaguar said, after a moment's pause.

Judy glanced down at her phone. Francine had texted her.

“This is weird,” Francine had written. Judy nodded.

The bathroom stall with the love-makers swung open and a wolf and a vixen - for a crazy moment, Judy wondered if it was Vicki before getting ahold of herself. It wasn't Vicki - this fox was shorter than Vicki, and her shoulders were broader.

“Sheila!” the vixen cried, sidling over to the jaguar and washing her hands. She gave the jaguar -- Sheila, apparently -- a quick peck on the cheek. “How are you?”

The wolf, after washing her hands, winked at the vixen and sauntered out of the bathroom.

Judy blushed.

“Oh, hi, Stephanie. We’re good,” Sheila said. “We’re talking about how Vicki moved in with some cop.”

“Really? That’s a weird choice. New boyfriend?”

Judy felt her phone buzz, and looked down at it.

“WHAT IS GOING ON. THEY ARE JUST NONCHALANTLY CHATTING WITH SOMEONE WHO WAS BLEEPING SOMEONE IN THE BATHROOM LIKE IT IS TOTALLY NORMAL,” Francine had texted to her.

“Yeah, these people are weird. I have no idea what is going on,” Judy texted back, frowning.

“It’s not just any cop,” Sheila said, sighing. “It’s hard to explain.” She perked up. “Oh, I guess it’s not. You’re a social worker.”

“Yep,” Stephanie said.

Judy raised her eyebrows. A social worker?

“I wouldn’t have thought a social worker would have sex in a public bathroom,” she texted to Francine, who choked down a giggle and shrugged at her.

“So you know about the infamous Marsha case,” Sheila continued.

Judy frowned. Marsha again.

“Oh yeah,” Stephanie said, rolling her eyes. “The files were unlocked for educational purposes only a year ago and the social work world was completely abuzz with it. It got exhausting after a while, to be honest. I wish they hadn't released them. Everyone is kind of panicking about it and blaming the whole thing on single mothers, which is idiotic.”

“What’s the Marsha case?” the moose asked.

“Oh, it’s this controversial case that happened about - oh - twenty or thirty years ago, now.” Stephanie said, shrugging her red shoulders. “This woman named Marsha, emotionally unstable, abandoned a child to go have another child. She was gone for a few months. She then abandoned the new baby near an orphanage and returned to the first one. She left a letter ‘explaining’”— Stephanie used air quotes here — “everything, so when the new baby was found, the state found out that she had abandoned this first kid.”

“OK,” the moose said, looking confused.

“But by the time they checked up on her, she had gotten treatment for an emotional disorder and was living with the first child again. So the State didn’t know whether to remove that first child from her, or what. It was a really bad situation all around.”

“What did they do?” the moose asked.

“Not a thing,” Stephanie said, shaking her head. “They didn’t even do much for the first kid, who was, of course, criminally neglected. They interviewed the kid once, said 'huh, this person seems fine, they dropped out of school but they probably would have anyway,' and just left it at that.” She hesitated. “They were supposedly very poor. The mother, the first kid, and obviously the baby in the orphanage was left with nothing. And there’s this whispered assumption they were from an underrepresented species. People say it never would have happened to a richer family. Or, you know, a sheep family.”

Sheila nodded.

“What does this have to do with Vicki?” Stephanie asked, suddenly looking worried. “Is this Nick person afraid Vicki’s going to abandon her baby or something? I know there is more surveillance of unwed mothers because of people becoming more aware of this case, which is a horrible.”

“No…” Sheila said, pausing. “Do you remember a part about the case involving some… well, documents? And who they belonged to?”

“Yeah,” Stephanie said. “That was, in my opinion, one of the grossest parts of the case. More time was given to who owned these letters and things than what was going to take care of these... these poor children. The orphanage wanted them destroyed, the State wanted to keep them in case this Marsha woman broke any other laws so that they could trot out all this evidence that she had a criminal past, obviously they were intended for the infant but, honestly, no one seemed to give a baboon's backside for that infant involved… Eventually, I think the State kept them and agreed to give them to the baby on its 18th birthday.”

There was a pause, and Sheila gave Stephanie a look.

“Haven’t you heard the story about how Vicki freaked out - I mean really, really freaked out - at the orphanage on her 18th birthday? When she had that visitor? How she smashed all those potted plants and threatened to kill anyone who came near her?"

Stephanie looked confused for a second, and then realization dawned. She gasped.

“No,” she said, her voice hushed. “Marsha of the Marsha case is her… her mother? She was the baby?”

The jaguar nodded.

“And that is this Nicholas person is her half-brother, apparently,” Sheila said, picking up her phone. “We suspect he is probably at least a bit unstable—“

“Yeah, Vicki can be pretty weird and she had constant adult supervision all her life,” the ferret said. “This guy was abandoned and nobody seemed to really care that much.”

Judy suddenly felt very hot, and then very cold. She glanced at Francine, who also looked horrified.

“OK, let me text her to see if she is okay,” Sheila said, tapping quickly on her phone.

“Wait, did this Nick person know she even existed?” Stephanie cried. “Why did she think it was a good idea to suddenly move in with this person? I mean, I guess he’s technically family, but who knows anything about him?”

Oh my god, Judy suddenly realized, in her icy stomach, family first. That’s what Nick told me when he left that room with Vicki. They must have talked about being siblings when I was talking to Francine and I couldn't hear...

“You know Vicki,” the ferret said, rolling her eyes and standing up on the moose’s shoulders and checking herself over in the mirror. “I talked to her a few days ago and she told me, ‘Through my amazing investigative skills I have determined he is a cop now so I’ll just go down to the station and demonstrate my existence and then maybe he can give me some money or something.’”

That photograph... Judy thought dully, that was probably Nick's mother with Vicki... that's why he stared at it for such a long time...

Sheila snorted, suddenly looking at her phone.

“I got a reply from Vicki,” Sheila said, looking relieved and amused at the same time. “She just sent me this selfie of her and this is Nick, I guess, eating spaghetti at what looks like a fancy restaurant. Jesus, they look alike. The caption says ‘Nick seems pretty cool although maybe a little clingy. He already bought the unborn baby a stuffed animal and now that he knows what folic acid is, he wants me to start taking it.’ Hah. Well, he doesn’t seem like a murderer at the very least.”

“Wait a minute,” the ferret said, looking at the phone in surprise. “Isn’t he that weird popsicle salesman? That guy? I know him! That’s the infamous Nick?”

Why didn't Nick ever tell me? Judy thought, her stomach churning. Why didn't he... trust me enough with this? Did he think I would... respond badly? Think he is crazy?

Judy felt Francine touch her gently on the head. Judy realized she had been shaking.

Oh my God, Judy thought, now feeling slightly hysterical. She also felt like vomiting. I thought she was a demon-witch from hell! This girl, abandoned, pregnant, trying to find her only family.... oh, God, oh, God, oh God, and I bet she is really nice, too...

Judy looked up at Francine wordlessly.

“Judy, let’s go find Clawhauser and talk somewhere,” Francine whispered to her. “You look like you’ve had a bit of a shock.”

Judy looked at herself in the mirror. She looked unbelievably pale. One of the straps of her dress was creeping down her shoulder. She pushed it up hastily.

She then nodded wordlessly, then softly jumped off of the counter.

Chapter Text

"So what are you going to name it?" Gina said, taking a bite of a breadstick and leaning back in her chair.

"Name what?" the financier raccoon asked, looking bewildered. Gina rolled her eyes.

"She's pregnant, Harold. That's why she's drinking fruit juice out a wine glass."

"Thanks for that, by the way. I've never seen someone demand fruit juice served in a wine glass before," Vicki said, smiling at Gina.

"Only the best for Nick's family," Gina said expansively. Nick rolled his eyes.

"I haven't decided on a name yet," Vicki admitted, after a minute.

"Do you know the gender?" Harold the financier asked, adjusting his glasses and looking desperate to find a way into the conversation.

"No," Vicki said, "I'm waiting."

"You should name it Gina," Gina said, taking another bite of her spaghetti. "Regardless of its gender."

"Now, Gina," Harold said disapprovingly. "That doesn't make sense."

"Yes, because I was completely serious, Harold," Gina said, irritably.

"How do you two lovebirds know each other again?" Nick asked brightly.

"We grew up together," Harold said. "We were best friends when we were six."

Nick looked thrilled.

"Really?!" Nick cried, looking cheerfully at Gina, who looked irritated. "Tell me all about that! What was she like?”

Gina rolled her eyes.

Harold the financier then launched into a series of largely very boring stories about Gina and his childhood. The high point of the exchange was one very funny story of Gina vomiting on a Santa Claus at the mall.

"Who was your best friend when you were six, Nick?" Gina asked. “I’ll get some stories off of him, don’t worry.”

"Oh, I was kind of always a loner," Nick said casually. "I don't know. I guess my next-door neighbor, Henry. But I wasn't even all that close to him."

"Really?" Vicki said, looking surprised. "I'm still close to my best friend from childhood."

“Oh yeah?" Nick said, looking astonished. He smiled slightly. "Why did you need to move in with me, then?"

"Hah-hah," Vicki said dryly. “She's in bit of a tough spot at the moment herself. Her name is Sheila."

"A kangaroo?" Harold asked.

"That is an incredibly speciest remark, Harold," Gina said, rolling her eyes. "Not all Sheilas are kangaroos. She could also be a wombat. Or a koala.”

"She's a jaguar," Vicki laughed.

"Huh," Nick said, looking surprised and smiling. "Wouldn't have guessed that."

At that moment, a young female fox wearing a large amount of diamonds rammed into a waiter behind their table. The waiter had been carrying a serving tray covered in full wine glasses, and the vixen looked horrified. Horrified, soaked, and very purple.

“Oh no,” the waiter panicked, looking like he was afraid he was about to lose his job. “I’m so sorry, what can I do to make this better —“

The vixen looked blankly at her dress, and then looked up. She looked horrified and shocked. She grasped Vicki’s shoulder, her hand shaking slightly.

“Do you mind helping out a fellow vixen? Come to the bathroom with me and help me clean off a bit,” the fox said, looking close to tears.

“Oh…” Vicki said, looking concerned. “Of course. You poor thing.”

The two went off to the bathroom together, while the manager - an angry looking possum - came over and angrily jerked the terrified looking waiter away.

“Subtle,” Vicki said dryly, as the door swung behind the two of them. She tried to lean down and check to make sure there was no one in the stalls. She struggled with this, one hand on her belly, awkwardly and slowly leaning down.

“Oh, for God’s sake, I’ll check,” the wine-stained fox said and quickly zipped under each other stalls. “No one is here. And I kept trying to catch your eye, but you were too busy making eyes at that popsicle salesman. I don't even know what you are doing here, this place is way over your price-point...”

“How do you know him? And I wasn’t making eyes at him, Jessica,” Vicki said, irritably, crossing her arms.

“You were. And everyone knows him.”

“He’s my brother.” Vicki said flatly.

Jessica raised an eyebrow at her as she grabbed a couple of paper towels and began dabbing under her chin where beads of wine were starting to drip down her neck.

“Oho, the long-lost older brother? You can stare adoringly at people in a non-sexual way, you know. I should know.”

“Are you even going to get paid tonight after this little charade?” Vicki asked, sighing.

“I don’t see why not. I’ll still sleep with him after dinner.”

“He’ll get stained - you're covered in wine…”

“Listen, does the Blueberry Drink you sell work if you are already pregnant?” Jessica asked urgently.

“Nope,” Vicki said, drumming her fingers on the countertop.

“What if I take, like, three times the dosage?”

Vicki sighed.

“No,” Vicki said flatly.

“What about like five times…” Jessica said desperately.

“Listen, you’ll just get a bad stomachache. And possibly some nasty mood swings. The pill in the blueberry drink just stops you from getting pregnant after you’ve had, you know, an unprotected encounter.”

“Jesus, what is the point of it, then?” Jessica snapped angrily.

“Because you can pregnant for like three days after an encounter,” Vicki said patiently. “I’m sorry. I could sell it to you if you want, but it definitely will not work the way you want it to.”

Three whole days?” Jessica asked, looking aghast. “Really?”

“If you are already pregnant you need a different pill entirely. But it only will work if you’re less than four weeks along…”

“I am,” Jessica said eagerly. “It’s been like two weeks. Can you get it for me?”

“Yes…” Vicki said after a moment. “But it will be expensive. More expensive than going to the doctor.”

“What?” Jessica exclaimed, sounding outraged. “Why? You sell the drink for five dollars, and I know for a fact emergency contraception costs about thirty-five at the pharmacy. If you can sell that at a discount, you can sell this at a discount.”

“I can’t,” Vicki said, shaking her head. “It’s hazard pay. My supplier takes a bigger risk getting the pill you need. He sets the price, not me.”

“How? How could it be more dangerous? They come from the same Planned Matehood, don’t they?” Jessica hissed, suddenly sounding furious.

“Listen,” Vicki said, quietly, “emergency contraception is over-the-counter. The risk is pretty low for my supplier. He honestly thinks if he gets caught he would just be fired after being screamed at for a while. But the abortion pill?” Vicki shook her head. “You need a prescription for that, and if he were caught stealing something like that, he’d spend like ten years in jail.”

“Well, fine, how much would it be?”

“$600,” Vicki said, hesitatingly. “He won’t go lower. That’s without me making a profit.”

Jesus,” Jessica said, looking down at the ground. “Maybe I should just jump down a flight of stairs and try to land on my stomach…”

Vicki sighed and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. “Listen, I know you are all scared of it, but it would be cheaper, and safer, to go to a clinic. The pill would probably be only like $300-$400… Dr. Fozstein is very discreet, it’s safe there—”

“Absolutely not,” Jessica interjected. “It is not safe there anymore, Vicki! Lacy - you know, the arctic fox with the tattoos on her arms? She went there for a termination and two weeks later Vice busted her. She’s locked up now. When they got her, she was with a client she had seen for years. And I don’t think they locked up the client, either.”

“Oh no…” Vicki said, looking stunned. “Where is she?”

Jessica shrugged. “Not sure. I think in one of the prisons in Zootopia. Probably Tundratown.”

“God dammit,” Vicki said, angrily. “They couldn’t have found her any other way? You’re all sure it was via Fozstein’s office?”

“We can’t be sure, Vicki, you know that. But by all accounts she had a very normal couple of weeks after the procedure. Went to the same places, saw all old clients…”

Dammit,” Vicki said again. “Fozstein's was the last office in this entire damn city we thought we didn’t have to worry about these goddamn cops spying on you all…”

“I don’t think it’s the doctor,” Jessica said, sighing. “I saw her once before, remember? She was nice. But word on the street is these assholes get jobs in reception or as a janitor or something and they tip off Vice whenever someone comes in they think might be a working girl.”

“How could they even do that?” Vicki said, frowning. “Didn’t she use a fake I.D.? How could they track her so well?”

Jessica sighed, exasperatedly.

“Of course she used a fake I.D., Vicki! She's not an idiot. We think they physically implant something inside of us when we are there,” Jessica said, leaning forward conspiratorially.

“What?” Vicki asked doubtfully. “That can’t be right… it sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel… also, why would they just target working girls?”

“You are not always the quickest, you know,” Jessica said dryly. “They think we are more likely to have another abortion later. They want to prevent another abortion at all cost, and think we are less likely to have one in jail. To be perfectly honest, they are probably right. I think we are more likely to have abortions. It’s a risk of the job.”

“Assholes…” Vicki grumbled.

“Well, I won’t argue with you there,” Jessica said, as she finally began washing her face and mopping up some of the wine from her dress.

The bathroom door swung open and a preppy looking sheep wearing pearls gave the two of them a dirty look before huffily entering a stall.

“I can maybe — maybe— get it for you for $500, but no promises,” Vicki whispered to Jessica.

“Thanks, Vicki,” Jessica said, kissing her briefly on the cheek. “You’re a good person, you know that?”

Jessica then, still looking wine-stained, but slightly more put-together and with a determined look on her face, exited the bathroom.

Vicki hesitated for a few minutes, looking at herself in the mirror. She placed her hand on her belly and sighed. She was going to have a baby. She really was.

“I really think I must be a psychic,” Gina was saying when Vicki awkwardly maneuvered back into her chair. God, she hated sitting down and standing up in these ever-so-tasteful-yet-hard-as-a-rock chairs.

“Why is that?” Vicki said, taking a sip of her fruit punch. She noticed Nick was studying her face carefully. She hoped he hadn’t seen through Jessica’s little stunt…

“Some people from work went out to a club tonight, and I definitely called that the whole evening would end with tears over fro-yo,” Gina was saying, tapping excitedly at her phone.

“They’re crying?” Nick asked, sounding surprised. “Why?”

“Oh, God, who knows,” Gina said rolling her eyes. “With the three of them, it could be anything. To be fair, I really only thought it would end with Clawhauser in tears, but Francine just told me even she is crying a little bit…”

“Clawhauser?” Vicki said, perking up. “The Gazelle fan? I met him…”

“Very good,” Gina said, tapping away. “And Judy, Nick’s bestie —“

“The rabbit…” Vicki said, glancing over at Nick who nodded.

“And Francine, an elephant…” Gina finished, trailing off.

“I wonder what an elephant’s tears look like,” Nick mused. “Big puddles?”

“I’m trying to see if we can come join them, and—“

“For fro-yo?” Harold asked hopefully. Gina gave him a look.

“Harold, these are friends of ours. And they’re crying. I really don’t think this is an appropriate time for you to tag along,” she said severely.

“Well, she can,” Harold protested, gesturing towards Vicki.

“She has already met two of them, and she’s Nick’s sister, and most importantly she does not work in finance!”

“Fine.” Harold said, pouting slightly, as their waitress tentatively came over and slipped down the bill. Harold slapped down a black card on top of it. “Oh, just run it,” he snapped.

Nick gave Vicki a look. Free food! he mouthed at her. Vicki smiled.

“Francine is now asking Judy if we can come…” Gina said, still transfixed by her screen. “For some reason, Judy’s feelings about Nick’s presence seems very crucial at this moment. We are forbidden to come consume fro-yo if Judy doesn’t want us to. My God, this is so dramatic.”

“Why wouldn’t she want me to go?” Nick exclaimed, looking hurt.

“I dunno,” Gina said, tapping away again. “Maybe because she is hyper-emotional. Maybe she hooked up with a fox at the club and seeing you would bring up weird memories.”

Nick froze slightly, looking anxious.

Oh my God, Vicki thought glumly. I’m surrounded by children.

“I’m telling her that Vicki should definitely come because pregnant people like to eat ice cream,” Gina muttered.

Harold signed the check and stood up.

“Good-bye, Gina,” he said. Gina sighed, and looked up.

“Good-bye, Harold,” she said grudgingly. “Thank you for dinner.”

“This was a terrible experience.” Harold said flatly.

“Yes!” Gina exclaimed, suddenly sounding angry. “Yes, yes, it was. It always is! Stop telling my mother you will go out with me! You will not have a good time!”

Harold shook his head and stalked away.

“My God, he is so immature,” Gina said. “OK, I just texted Francine that she was being a nerd and she finally texted back saying that Judy now really wants us all to go eat frozen yogurt with them and now we all have to go, whether we want to or not.”

Vicki looked over at Nick, who shrugged at her.

Gina re-read the text on her phone.

“Oh, I guess she doesn’t care if I come or not. But you two have to. That’s nice. What a nice rabbit.”

Chapter Text

Frozen yogurt had been a disaster. Judy knew this deep inside of her. She had cried, a lot, and Nick had looked confused.

They had explained the main elements of the story - how they had overheard some of Vicki's friends talking about Nick and Vicki's childhood - and how sad they were for the two of them. Nick seemed appalled that people would cry over this, particularly because he had apparently thought it was obvious that Vicki was his sister, or at least closely related to him because "just look at her! We look almost exactly the same! Are you saying that all foxes look alike, Carrots?" And then, "you thought it was my child? What exactly do you think I do on the weekends, Carrots?"

He had then, finally, looking exasperated and had said, "I thought you knew I had a rough childhood, Carrots, even though I maybe didn't always spell it out for you." That had stung more than she would have liked to admit.

After that, Clawhauser and Francine made forced conversation, and Gina had ignored all of them and completely monopolized Vicki. Vicki, Judy had noticed in between tears, had been staring at her intently.

Finally, she had suggested that they break off and that Vicki, Nick, and herself head back to their apartment building.

Gina had not wanted Vicki to come and had sighed loudly and asked if the two of them could go back to the Spotted Elk.

"Nah, it's late," Vicki had said, patting her stomach. "You know. Preggers."

"You're nocturnal," Gina had protested.

"No, Gina..." Vicki had snapped suddenly. Gina looked stunned, and then hurt. After a period of awkward silence, during which Vicki stared unblinkingly at the ceiling; Francine, Clawhauser, and Gina left them to walk back to their apartment by themselves.

Judy thought he was confused and maybe getting a little irritated by her constant tears. That wasn't good.

She felt so confused.

She felt frightened of Nick.

Really frightened.

She was frightened that she didn't know a lot about him, or his past, but she also felt frightened of all that she did know.

She kept avoiding his gaze, she kept trying to leave a lot of space in between the two of them, and preferably positioned herself so that Vicki was between them at all times.

She was frightened of how he might look at her, she was frightened of how she might look at him, she was frightened he would treat her like a child, she was frightened he wouldn't treat her like a child...she felt sick. She felt like she was steeling herself, preparing herself, for some horrible, yet necessary test. Like she was standing on the edge of a cliff and that she had to, had to, jump off.

They had walked up to Nick's apartment, and had sat in silence for a few minutes while Judy had sniffled a bit. Vicki lay down on a filthy rug and some pillows, and took out a magazine and began to read. Nick looked at her. Judy felt his eyes on her, and she could feel herself start to panic.

There was a pause.

"I'm...going to go to the corner store to buy some things for breakfast," he had said at last, standing up. "Do you want to come, Carrots?"

Judy felt her stomach tighten.

"Actually, I was wondering if Judy could help me with something here," Vicki interjected. Judy glanced at her gratefully. "It's you know -- women's issues."

"Oh," Nick said, looking confused. "Um. OK. Is it...pregnancy related? Do you need...what is is pregnant people like, pickles?"

Vicki forced out a laugh, and then nodded slowly. "Sure," she said. "Actually, that sounds nice."

Nick glanced at the two of them, and then thrust his wallet into his pants pocket and headed out the door.

Judy winced slightly when she heard the door swing shut - just a little louder than necessary - behind him.

"I think he is probably confused about why you are acting so...well, emotional, and it is manifesting itself in irritation," Vicki said, her eyes back on the magazine.

"Um," Judy said, after a moment. "Do you...need...help?"

"Not really, I just thought you wanted a break from him," Vicki said, peering at Judy over her magazine.

"He's my best friend," Judy said after a moment.

"Let me tell you about something that happened to my friend Stephanie once," Vicki said after a moment. "You said you saw her in the bathroom of the Spotted Elk. The social worker."

"Yes..." Judy said, feeling herself blush a bit, remembering Stephanie's behavior in that bathroom.

"Stephanie was once in love with a friend of hers named Mary. She grew up in the orphanage with us. They were really close, and had been for a while. Best friends, even. Stephanie was still working out her feelings towards Mary, and wondering if she should ask her out when Mary, quite dramatically and quickly, found herself a boyfriend. This was extremely shocking at the time because we were sixteen years old and because Mary had been extraordinarily uninterested in boys up until that point."

"Was Stephanie upset?" Judy asked, playing with one of her drooping ears.

"Yes," Vicki said, still reading the magazine. "A lot. She felt so jealous, and hurt and...well, she realized that she probably had pretty serious feelings for Mary. But she wasn't sure what to do about those feelings - she wasn't sure if she was ready for a relationship, to change her friendship with Mary, whatever. A few weeks later, Mary broke it off with the guy - I don't even remember his name - and that night, that very same night, Stephanie went to Mary and confessed her feelings."

Judy looked down at her hands, her heart pounding in her chest so loudly it was almost hard to hear anything else.

"But it didn't end well, not at all," Vicki continued, turning a page of her magazine. "Stephanie wasn't really ready to start a relationship with Mary, she still wasn't sure how she felt about the whole situation. She told me later that she felt like she suddenly had to confront Mary now that she was unattached. She hadn't even really wanted to, she was actually dreading it, but she thought she had to as a matter of course. She was mad Mary wasn't single, and now that she was, she felt like she had to take some kind of action."

Judy looked up, in surprise.

"But that was kind of dumb," Vicki continued. "I mean, it was pretty unlikely that Mary would have gone out and found a new boyfriend or girlfriend immediately, and even if that did happen, Stephanie could have still told her how she felt later. She didn't need to rush it. She could have thought more about what she wanted in a relationship, how she really felt about Mary, how she felt about herself... In the end, they only dated for about two weeks, and the horrible thing was they were a pretty cute couple. I think if they had waited a bit longer before dating, things might have been easier for them. They might not have gotten together, but they might have. And if they had, it would have started a bit more organically than Stephanie feeling sick and feeling like this was her one and only chance to be with Mary, even though she wasn't even all that sure she wanted Mary."

Judy stared at Vicki.

Vicki finally looked up at her.

"I don't know why I thought that would help you," she said dryly, "but I don't know. Maybe I just felt like sharing."

"But--" Judy said, hesitatingly. "Wouldn't you say that Mary getting a boyfriend was, you know, kind of a sign that she was...you know, supposed to tell her how she felt?"

Vicki paused again.

"I guess you could," she said slowly. "But then again," she continued pointedly, "you could just as easily say that me telling you this story is another God-given sign from above."

Judy looked at her, and smiled slightly. She felt her ears begin to perk up a bit. She could still be Nick's friend, she thought, starting to feel happy. She didn't have to tell him how...how jealous she had felt earlier, and how lonely. She didn't have to...rush into anything. Nick sometimes made her feel so...so...young. And she wasn't sure she always liked it.

"You-you won't tell anyone about this, will you?" Judy asked, hesitatingly.

"Tell anyone about what?" Vicki asked innocently, rolling up her magazine and setting it next to her purse. She crossed her arms behind her head and laid on them.

Judy smiled at her.

The door swung open and Nick came in, looking apprehensive and carrying a bag from the twenty-four hour Seal-Eleven on their street corner. He smiled slightly when he saw Judy's tearless and smiling face.

"You look happier," he said, setting down the bag and unloading some groceries into the fridge. He hesitated after a moment, his hand on something in the bag. "I bought some beers," he said, hesitatingly. "I don't know if you want one, Carrots, but I thought maybe it would help you...you know...stop crying."

"Yeah, about that," Vicki said, gesturing that Nick should pass her the newly-purchased pickles, "I think we sorted some of it out."

Judy stiffened.

"A common reaction female mammals have when near a pregnant female after not being near one for a while -- heightened emotions. It's because of the pheromones. It's similar to, you know, PMS. Like 50% of all young females get them."

"Oh," Nick said, looking embarrassed.

"Yeah, some of my friends got it too at first," Vicki continued, now opening up the jar, "but people adjust after about an hour or so of being near them..."

Vicki popped a pickle into her mouth. Judy stared at her, and then at Nick.

"Sure, I'll have a beer," she said, sitting down on Nick's bed. He handed her one and sat down beside her.

"It was so shocking to hear something so personal about you from...well, from these strangers in that club," Judy said, giving Nick a look.

"Yeah," Nick said, looking down at his drink. "I guess if they weren't there at the right time you would still think that me and Vicki were..."

"Well, you almost certainly would have run into someone that knew me there," Vicki said, smiling slightly. "I used to go there a lot to, you know, observe inter-species couples to help the writing. And then the first Friday of the month is Mixed-Species Orphanage Alumni night at the Spotted Elk. I came up with the idea. Get it? Mixed-species orphanage alumni and inter-species relationships? Because people fear both because they think it leads to species-mixing and the horrifying 'production' of new species?"

"So all those people in the bathroom with us..."

"All the predators you described sound like people from the Tundratown Mixed-Species Orphanage I grew up in, yeah," Vicki said. "The moose, no. I think she's just dating Scarlett, the ferret."

"Ah." Judy said.

"Pretty big size difference," Nick said skeptically. "How do you think they--"

"Nick!" Judy cried, her cheeks reddening slightly. "I'm sure they are very...happy together."

"Well, I'm going to bed," Vicki said, abruptly, curling up on one of the pillows.

"Oh," Judy said, taken aback. "I should go."

"You don't have to," Vicki said, yawning. "I can sleep anywhere, with any amount of noise in the background, it doesn't bother me."

"No, I should..." Judy said, handing the half-empty beer to Nick, who looked a little disappointed.

Judy's phone buzzed. She sighed.

"If that is yet another text from Gina, I swear..." Judy muttered as she heard Nick's phone buzz a second later. She looked at him, surprised, and then glanced down at the phone.

CHIEF BOGO: Hopps and Wilde, you're needed tomorrow. Come at 10am. Before you ask, yes, you'll get overtime pay, Wilde.

"Going in on a Saturday?" Nick sighed. "And I had such an exciting day lined up."

Judy chuckled. "Well, I'll see you later, then..."

She nodded at the two of them, and then slipped out of the room.

She exhaled deeply when she was in the hallway. Relief seeped through her whole body as a small smile broke out on her face. She didn't have to tell Nick anything yet, she reminded herself. She was allowed to take time and think. A small voice in the inside of her head screamed if you don't tell him tonight, he might find someone else tomorrow and then you'll be sorry but she pushed it down. She wasn't even sure she wanted anything but friendship from Nick. Well, yes. A small, tiny, very minute part of her psyche was aware that she sometimes wanted something very specific from Nick. Even that tiny voice, though, knew that these desires were theoretical. She didn't know if she would like it, well, in practice.

She reached the stairwell and quickly bounded up the stairs. Work tomorrow, too! She was actually happy to be called in tomorrow - hopefully it would get her and Nick back into a normal, partner-ly rhythm. Plus, it could be an interesting or important case for Bogo to text them so last-minute about it.

When she reached the door to her floor, she stopped cold. Rolls of yellow tape covered the door screaming "caution" and a crudely, hand-written sign said: EMERGENSY DELOUSING TODAY FLOOR THREE, DO NOT ENTER.

"Oh no," she sighed. What was she going to do now?

Grumbling slightly, she turned around and headed back to Nick's room. She hesitated for a moment. She really wasn't sure crashing there tonight was a good idea given...given everything, but maybe he would have an idea of where she could stay. Plus, Vicki would be there, so nothing could really happen.

She reached Nick's door and knocked tentatively. After a few moments, Nick answered it, looking surprised.

Judy felt herself blush. He was wearing striped pajama pants and a tee-shirt, and while this was neither particularly interesting nor revealing clothing, it was still so decidedly not-daytime-apparel that Judy felt that seeing him in it was somehow...intimate.

"They're, um...there is an emergency de-lousing on the third floor..." Judy said, trailing off. Vicki was sleeping soundly on her pillow.

"Do you want to stay here?" Nick asked, glancing around. "Not a lot of room, Carrots. Well," he said, after a moment's pause, "maybe you can share the bed with Vicki. That is, if her crazy-pregnancy-pheromones won't make you cry all night long and keep me up."

"Nah," Judy said easily, hoping she felt more confident than she felt. "I'm over it, remember?"

Nick jostled Vicki's shoulder and she blearily opened an eye.

"Vicki," Nick said, "Judy's apartment is being fumigated. You and her should share the bed tonight, OK? I'll sleep on the floor..."

Immediately, Vicki was standing bolt upright and looking furious.

"Excuse me?" Vicki demanded angrily. "What?"

"Um," Nick said, taken aback. "You and Judy should share the bed, and I can--"

"I am not sleeping in that bed, and I am certainly not sharing it with another person," Vicki snapped, all of the hair all over her on end. "That was not part of this arrangement. I'd rather sleep under the bridge again."

Oh, Judy thought heavily, watching how Vicki's breathing increased steadily and how...how panicked she looked, like a caged animal.

"You don't have to sleep in the bed," Judy said soothingly. Vicki turned on her.

"Good, because I will not," Vicki snapped, her fists jammed into small balls of fury.

Judy nodded understandingly at her.

"That's OK. I will go to a hotel. You can sleep on these pillows. It's OK."

Nick looked slightly mystified again as Vicki visibly became less agitated. Her breathing slowed slightly, she unclenched her paws, and she slowly sat down on the pillow.

"Are you OK?" Nick asked slowly, looking at her.

"Yes," Vicki said shortly. "I just...just don't like sleeping in beds, that's all." She curled up into a small ball on top of her pillow and stared at the two of them for a second. "I don't mind leaving if one of you takes the bed and the other the floor," she said, after a moment. "I can sleep outside tonight. No big."

"No," Judy shook her head. "I'll go find a motel or something --"

"Or you could play hot water bottles," Vicki said, still looking at Judy.

"I have understood so little about this evening," Nick said, sounding exasperated. "What is playing hot water bottles?"

Vicki smiled a bit, and then sat up.

"I grew up in the Tundratown Mixed-Species Orphanage, right? Well, it wasn't particularly well-funded, and so we didn't have any heating besides fireplaces. So we always shared beds, for warmth. Which was fine until we started, you know, growing up." She smiled. "And then some of the girls got a little too interested in the other girls, so the caretakers made this rule that whenever we shared a bed with someone else, we had to be the other side of the sheet."

Vicki gestured to the sheet. "One person on top and one person underneath it, you know? That way your bodies don't touch. For us they would pull the sheet so tight it was even hard to roll over in it, let alone...you know, cuddle. But they called it "playing hot water bottles" because that is what we were supposed to pretend the other person was a hot water bottle."

Judy stared at her, thought for a moment, thought what a pain in the butt it would be to find an-even-half-way-reputable-yet-affordable-hotel with a vacancy at this time of night and then shrugged.

"That's pretty clever," she said after a moment. "I guess that would be fine with me if you don't mind, Nick."

"It'd be my pleasure to be your hot-water-bottle this evening, Carrots," Nick said seriously. Judy smiled.

Vicki threw a shirt at her.

"You can use this to sleep in," she said, as the black shirt enveloped Judy's small frame. "It will be really long on you, like a nightdress."

"All right," Judy said, smiling slightly. "This will be a bit like a slumber party," she said, giggling a bit. "It's been a while since I've been to one of those..."

Judy then left the room to head down the hall towards the bathroom to change when she heard Nick behind her.

"Carrots!" He hissed, gesturing towards her.

"What?" Judy asked, frowning slightly.

"What do you mean, what? Why do you think Vicki has such a strong aversion to beds? Do you think a bed once beat her up? Stole her lunch money? Do you think she's frightened of you? That seems unlikely, you're pretty small..."

Judy forced a smile at the attempt at a joke. She hesitated, and then looked up at Nick.

"My mother used to say that women are only slightly safer in their bedrooms than they are walking along darkened streets at night," Judy said eventually.

Nick's smile faded. He suddenly looked stricken.

"Bad things happen to people sometimes," Judy said, sighing. "Let's not push her on it right now."

She turned away and walked into the small bathroom.

Changing into her shirt-turned-nightdress, she glanced at herself in the mirror. She was going to sleep in the same bed as Nick tonight. Hmm. But, as friends. Or as hot-water-bottles. That felt...well, maybe a little exciting, but mostly comfortable. Right now, they were...friends.

---

Vicki stared at the ceiling as Nick walked back in the room.

"Did the girls in the orphanage still kiss each other from the other side of the sheet? This seems, as a whole, as pretty ineffective means of birth control." He asked, climbing into the bed, on top of the sheet. "I'm being a gentleman and leaving the sheet for Judy to sleep under."

"That's nice of you," Vicki said, stretching slightly. "And yes, the more effective means of birth-control was that it was an all-girls orphanage."

Chapter Text

Nick woke up to find Judy's sleeping head was on his chest.

He froze, panicked, wondered if he was dreaming, panicked some more, felt oddly proud of himself, considered pinching himself, and then felt the scratchy blanket on his skin. He wasn't underneath his sheet...that, oddly enough, was what reminded him of last night. He, trying not to move too much glanced over at the floor next to his desk.

And there was Vicki, sleeping on a pillow, one fist balled up looking ready to punch anyone who woke her up, the other fist...dear God, was she sucking her thumb? Weird, he thought, now blinking at the ceiling.

He looked down at Judy's face. She looked pretty adorable, sleeping like that. He could feel half of her body splayed out on top of his through the sheet. Huh. That felt...hmm.

He inched away from her slightly, hoping both to not wake her but to give himself a little bit more breathing room.

He wondered if he could very gently slide her off of him without waking her. That would involve touching her though. Well, only her shoulders. That didn't seem too dangerous. They did look cute in that oversized black tee-shirt though. Huh. But they were just shoulders...

While Nick was pondering Judy's shoulders and slowly, incrementally, sliding away from her, Judy woke up. He froze.

"Uh..." Judy said, rubbing on of her eyes with her paw. "I think I might have a hangover," she whispered hoarsely.

"Did you have more than half a drink?" Nick whispered back. "Then yes, you probably do."

"Oh, stop," Judy said, and then seemed to realize that she was half-embracing Nick. After a second's thought, she half plopped herself, half rolled herself off of him, ending up slightly tangled in the sheet and laying next to him.

"Graceful," Nick said. Judy giggled.

"Sorry about that," she whispered.

"It's okay," Nick whispered back.

Judy gave him a look and giggled again.

"The fur on top of your head is sticking up," she said, "you look ridiculous."

"You hurt my feelings, Carrots," Nick said, making a mock-hurt expression and patting the top of his head where his hair was splayed out all over.

"I think we should share secrets," Judy whispered. Nick froze.

"What?" He asked, trying to sound casual.

"I think we should tell each other secrets about ourselves," Judy continued. "I was so upset last night because I realized I didn't actually know much about you...and you actually don't know that much about me, either." She shifted slightly, until she was staring up at the ceiling. "I mean, what do you really know about me before I came to Zootopia?"

"Well...I always assumed there was a lot of carrot farming involved," Nick said, after a moment's hesitation. Judy grinned.

"Exactly, you don't know a lot," she said. "OK. I'll go first. What kind of secret do you want to know about?"

Nick shrugged. "Um. I don't know. What kind of secret did you have in mind?"

Judy looked at him, shrugging.

"I don't know. I could tell you something I'm embarrassed about, something I'm ashamed of, something sad from my childhood...that way, you won't have to feel weird that I know more about your childhood than you know about mine..."

Oh, Nick thought, feeling a rush of tenderness towards Judy. She was so...well, so nice. So kind. She really worried that it was unfair that she knew more about his lie than he knew about his. God, she was so...wonderful.

He carefully scooted several more inches away from her.

"Sorry, I'm crowding you," Judy said, also inching towards the edge of the bed.

"Oh..." Nick said, coughing a little, "OK. Tell me something about your childhood. Something you've never told anyone else."

Judy thought for a minute, and then suddenly grinned.

"Well, you have to promise to not think differently of me," she said, giggling slightly. "I've never told anyone about this, no one in the world..."

"OK..." Nick said, smiling at her.

"I once..." Judy laughed again, "when I was like fifteen, or maybe sixteen, I can't remember, I let this boy from my class French kiss me for ten dollars. And then I used the money to buy a book about the laws and ordinances of Zootopia."

Nick stared at her, and then laughed.

"And you're ashamed of this little brush with prostitution?" He asked, laughing. "You bought a book about the laws and ordinances of Zootopia?"

"Yes," Judy said, now giggling so hard small tears fell from her eyes. "Wasn't I such a weird little kid?"

"You're still weird, Carrots," Nick said, sighing happily. This was nice.

He heard a rustling from the floor beside him. Judy looked over at the floor.

"Oh, good morning, Vicki," Judy said brightly. "Oh...you look pretty green, is it...morning sickness?"

Nick lifted up from the bed slightly, only to see Vicki scrambling for the trash can, leaning over it and -- Nick shut his eyes just as he heard the dulcet sounds of retching and vomiting.

"Oh, you poor thing," Judy said, leaping out of the bed and rushing over to Vicki. "Let's get you cleaned up..."

Nick looked up at his cracked ceiling. Maybe today would be a good day, he thought. Vomit and all, maybe it will be better than yesterday.

Chapter Text

Date: 12/24/2010
Name of Resident(s) Involved: VICTORIA VULPECULA, SHEILA CORTEZ
Age of Resident(s) Involved: 14, 14
Recorded by: Ms. Lemurstein
Infraction committed:

APPARENTLY VICTORIA AND SHEILA REPEATEDLY BROKE INTO THE THRID GRADE CHOIR REHEARSALS AND TAUGHT THEM NEW LYRICS TO “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS TWO FRONT TEETH” TO “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A BETTER FUNDED ORPHANAGE.” THIRD GRADERS THEN PERFORMED THIS VERSION AT A CONCERT FOR VARIOUS COMMUNITY LEADERS.

Suggested punishment:

BATHROOM MAINTENANCE DUTY, TWO WEEKS PLUS WRITTEN APOLOGY TO ALL COMMUNITY LEADERS AND THIRD GRADE CHOIR MEMBERS.

Date: 1/06/2011
Name of Resident(s) Involved: SHEILA CORTEZ, SCARLETT BRITON, VICTORIA VULPECULA
Age of Resident(s) Involved: 14, 14, 14
Recorded by: Mr. Shepyard
Infraction committed:

RESIDENTS KEEP THROWING CHALK AT MY BACK WHILE I AM WRITING MATH PROBLEMS ON THE CHALKBOARD. WHEN I CATCH THEM AT IT THEY ACCUSE ME OF BEING SPECIESIST. I KNOW THEY ARE DOING THIS BECAUSE IN A LECTURE LAST WEEK I NOTED THAT PREY ARE MORE SUITED FOR MATHEMATICAL THINKING. THIS IS WELL-DOCUMENTED. THESE STUDENTS REFUSE TO BELIEVE IT. I DON'T KNOW WHY, THEY ARE ALL FAILING MY CLASS.

 

Suggested punishment:

WRITING LINES, I WILL NOT THROW CHALK AT MR. SHEPYARD’S BACK, 300 TIMES EACH

Date: 1/25/2011
Name of Resident(s) Involved: SHEILA CORTEZ, VICTORIA VULPECULA, STEPHANIE ANGLER
Age of Resident(s) Involved: 14, 14, 15
Recorded by: Ms. Lemurstein
Infraction committed:

RESIDENTS KEEP SNEAKING OUT DURING THE NIGHT TO, IN THEIR OWN WORDS, “ATTEND PARTIES AT A MOBSTER’S HOUSE.” WHEN THEN THEY WERE TOLD THEY WERE SEEN HANGING OUT WITH AN ARCTIC SHREW ON A STREET CORNER THEY SAY “ARE YOU SAYING ARCTIC SHREWS CANNOT BE MOBSTERS” AND “WELL WE THOUGHT IT WAS A PARTY, IT WAS PRETTY FUN EVEN IF IT WAS JUST ON A STREET CORNER.”

 

Suggested punishment:

NO LEAVING THE ORPHANAGE DURING WEEKENDS FOR TWO MONTHS. ADDITIONALLY, WE MUST LOOK INTO GETTING BETTER LOCKS FOR THE DORMITORY WINDOWS.

Date: 1/28/2011
Name of Resident(s) Involved: SHEILA CORTEZ, SCARLETT BRITON, VICTORIA VULPECULA
Age of Resident(s) Involved: 14, 14, 14
Recorded by: Mr. Shepyard
Infraction committed:

RESIDENTS KEEP THROWING CHALK AT MY BACKSIDE WHEN I AM TRYING TO WRITE MATH PROBLEMS ON THE BOARD. WHEN I CAUGHT THEM AT IT, THEY SAID “OH, WE THOUGHT IT WAS ONLY A PROBLEM IF WE THREW THE CHALK AT YOUR BACK. WE ARE PRETTY DUMB, YOU KNOW, BEING PREDATORS. WE NEED MORE INSTRUCTIONS” WHILE THE REST OF THE CLASS TITTERED.

 

Suggested punishment:

IN CHARGE OF CLEANING THE MATH ROOM FOR THE REST OF THE TERM.

Date: 1/30/2011
Name of Resident(s) Involved: VICTORIA VULPECULA
Age of Resident(s) Involved: 14
Recorded by: Ms. Lemurstein
Infraction committed:

AFTER WE EXPLAINED TO THE OLDER RESIDENTS THAT THEY WOULD HAVE TO SLEEP ON EITHER SIDE OF THE TOP SHEET OF THEIR BEDS (BECAUSE OF THE SHEILA CORTEZ-SCARLETT BRITON EPISODE), VICTORIA APPARENTLY WROTE “THIS IS AN INEFFECTIVE MEANS OF SEX EDUCATION” AND “SEX EDUCATION NOW, PLS” ON ALL BEDSHEETS, CAUSING MUCH DAMAGE

Suggested punishment:

VICTORIA VULPECULA WILL ASSIST ME IN PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTING SEX EDUCATION FOR ALL OTHER RESIDENTS, AND WILL BE IN CHARGE OF ALL LAUNDRY FOR HER DORMITORY FOR A MONTH

Date: 2/14/2011
Name of Resident(s) Involved: SHEILA CORTEZ, SCARLETT BRITON, VICTORIA VULPECULA
Age of Resident(s) Involved: 14, 14, 14
Recorded by: Mr. Shepyard
Infraction committed:

RESIDENTS GAVE ME A VASE OF FLOWERS AND TOLD ME IT WAS FROM MS. LEMURSTEIN, CAUSING ME MUCH PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL EMBARRASSMENT.

 

Suggested punishment:

CAN’T YOU KICK THEM OUT OF THE ORPHANAGE BY NOW?

Date: 2/25/2011
Name of Resident(s) Involved: SHEILA CORTEZ, VICTORIA VULPECULA
Age of Resident(s) Involves: 14, 14
Recorded by: Mr. Shepyard
Infraction committed:

SOMEHOW THESE TWO CHANGED QUESTION TWO ON MY EXAM, “If one train leaves Station A at 10:30am and travels 25 mph northbound and another train leaves Station B at 11:00am and travels 40 mph southbound, at what time will the trains meet? Assume stations A and B are 200 miles away from each other” TO “If Train A is raised in Savanah Square Herd-Animal Orphanage and travels to college at a speed of 25mph and Train B is raised in the Tundratown Mixed Species Orphanage and travels to poverty at a speed of 40 mph, at what point will Train B get put in jail?”

RESIDENTS CLAIM THEY WERE TRYING TO MAKE A POINT ABOUT THE DEPLETED COLLEGE FUND FOR TUNDRATOWN MIXED-SPECIES ORPHANAGE GRADUATES, BUT I KNOW THEY ARE NOT SMART ENOUGH TO DO SO. THEIR MATH GRADES PROVE IT.

ADDITIONALLY, MY TEACHER’S AIDE, STEPHAN LYNXER, APPARENTLY THOUGHT THIS DEFACEMENT OF LEARNING MATERIALS WAS HILARIOUS AND LAUGHED FOR TEN MINUTES ABOUT IT DURING CLASS. TEARS WERE COMING DOWN HIS FACE. THIS IS THE SECOND TIME THIS MONTH WHERE HIS LIBERAL POLITICS HAVE INTERFERED WITH MY TEACHING.

Suggested punishment:

REMOVE STEPHAN LYNXER FROM MY CLASSROOM. EXTRA MATH HOMEWORK AND BATHROOM CLEANING DUTIES FOR SHEILA CORTEZ AND VICTORIA VULPECULA FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR, IF YOU MAINTAIN THIS FALLACY THAT IT IS UNETHICAL TO KICK THEM OUT OF THE ORPHANAGE

Chapter Text

Vicki sat over the toilet in the small bathroom down the hall from Nick's room. She sighed. She shouldn't have snapped at Judy - she was just trying to help her.... Also, from a more pragmatic angle, Vicki had a sneaking suspicion that Judy disliking her would be a sure-fire way for to get on Nick's bad side.

She was just so...so...sick of asking for help. That is all she did these days, it seemed: listened to very nice mammals who wanted nothing more to help her and her unborn child. And it got - it was - absolutely exhausting. Ugh, that reminded her. She was supposed to get breakfast with her goddamn mentor from the PCNS program. There would probably be about twelve angry voicemails from her. That's good, she thought, leaning up on the door. Exactly what I need.

Rinsing out her mouth and rubbing her eyes, she squared her shoulders and decided to try to turn the day around. She could apologize to Judy, call the-dreaded-mentor-Moira and apologize to her, and then she had a full day of doctors prodding at her stomach. Oh, and she had texted Sheila and Stephanie last night about visiting Lacy in the Tundratown prison, and Stephanie definitely wanted to go. Stephanie. Such a good social worker. So maybe she should do that, too.

She took a deep breath, held her head up high, and sauntered out of the bathroom.

---

"Look, Judy..." Vicki said, entering Nick's room, where Nick was wearing a police uniform and Judy the dress from the night before.

"Is that what you are wearing to work?" Vicki asked, momentarily surprised. Judy sighed.

"Oh, please don't make fun of me, Vicki," she said. "I have another uniform at the station. I feel uncomfortable enough as it is."

"I'm sorry, Judy," Vicki said heavily. Apologizing was not something that came easily for her. "I'm sorry I snapped at you in there... I just...I just get so sick of everyone trying to help me all the time. It's overwhelming. That's why...well...I probably could have found somewhere to crash last week, but just sleeping outside seemed so much simpler..."

"Oh, Vicki," Judy sighed, looking surprised and sad. "It's okay. But asking for help doesn't make you a bad person...or you know, weak."

"I know," Vicki mumbled, trying not to sound too irritable.

"Are you in the PCNS program?" Nick asked suddenly.

Vicki froze. Oh no, oh no, oh no, she thought. How could he know? How? Was there something about the way she looked? Had he guessed?

"Why do you ask that?" She asked, trying to sound casual.

"Well, I know it can be a really overwhelming program," Nick said after a small pause. "I had a friend in it once, and for a good two months he would bite my head off if I ever tried to do him a favor. He said if one more do-gooder tried to help him he would go crazy."

Vicki glanced at him slowly.

"Also," Nick continued, taking Vicki's phone out of his pocket, "your phone rang about six times when you were in the bathroom with Judy. The display name was 'PCNS Mentor From Hell.'"

"Ah," Vicki said, sighing and mentally kicking herself. Putting that in as Moira's name had seemed so funny at the time. "Moira. I was supposed to have breakfast with her today, but she was just going to yell at me about all the things I haven't done..." Vicki looked at Nick for a long moment, who smiled at her and handed her the phone.

"You don't mind?" she asked hesitatingly.

"Nah," Nick said, smiling at her. "I've heard the medical care through them is good..."

"Yes." Vicki said. "And free."

"But the friend I mentioned before? Finnick. Now he's a mentor with them too and he remembers how overwhelming it was so he just makes fun of all the doctors with his mentees when he buys them breakfast. You should try to switch to him."

"Well, that sounds a hell of a lot better than Moira..." Vicki said, barking out a short laugh.

"We're going to have to go soon if we want to have time to get coffee and make it to the station in time," Judy said quietly. Vicki jumped. In her terror that Nick would call her disgusting and kick her out, she had forgotten that Judy had been there.

"Right you are, Carrots," Nick said. He gave Vicki a spare key, told her to help herself to anything in the fridge, and then the two of them left.

Vicki glanced down at the key in her hand after the door had shut behind them. Wow. She was staying with someone. Someone who not only knew what the PCNS program was, but didn't think it was an abomination. She hadn't told anyone she was in the program - not even Sheila or Stephanie. Stephanie, she had to admit, would probably be thrilled and would turn into one of those aggravating do-gooders. And Sheila...well, she hated to admit this, but she really wasn't sure how Sheila would react. And now she had someone in her life who didn't seem to care. Finnick. Finnick. Hmm. She thought that was the little fennec fox who worked with some of the other dads...maybe she could get the organizers to switch her mentor...

Sighing, she called Moira back.

---

"What's the PCNS program?" Judy asked, glancing behind her slightly to make sure that no one in line with them at the Stagbucks could hear them. "I've never heard of it before."

The line moved forward before Nick had a chance to answer. He ordered for them - a black coffee with three sugars for him, a mocha for her. He paid. Judy thought she saw the barista smirking at the two of them and felt her cheeks grow warm.

"Why was he smirking like that?" Judy hissed as they moved over to the bar to wait for Judy's mocha.

"I think it's because of how you're dressed," Nick whispered to her, looking like he was trying not to laugh.

"Because I'm wearing a dress?"

Nick looked down at her, grinning.

"Well, a dress you clearly wore last night. Ever hear of the term 'walk of shame'?"

Judy gasped, blushed, and then gaped at Nick.

"I am a police officer!" she hissed at him. "Don't I look like a police officer?"

"In that dress?" Nick asked, picking up Judy's mocha and handing to her. "You don't even look like a meter maid in that dress, honey."

Judy sulked slightly as they walked out of the Stagbucks and headed towards the station.

"So what is the PCNS program? You never answered me in there..."

Nick glanced at her, looking slightly apprehensive.

"Well, it's for people who are going to have a mixed-species baby," he said at last. "It stands for the Potential Creation of New Species. It's only for mixed-species that haven't been documented in the last twenty years, you know, mixes that the medical establishment doesn't know too much about."

Judy looked horrified.

"What do you mean mixed-species babies?" Judy exclaimed. Judy saw Nick stiffen slightly, and suddenly felt foolish.

"Do you have a problem with it?" Nick asked lightly, but Judy could tell he was annoyed at her.

"Well..." Judy said after a moment. "I didn't even think it was possible. At school we learned it was...you know, an urban legend. How can two different species have a child?"

Nick stopped dead in his tracks and looked at her, stunned.

"Are you serious, Carrots?" He asked, disbelievingly. "They taught you it was impossible? How do you think different types of species happen in the first place?"

Judy blinked.

"Um," she said, "Well, I'm pretty sure we learned that God had something to do with it..."

Nick stared at her, and then giggled.

"Jesus, Carrots," he said, "Christ. Where did you come from?"

Judy ignored that.

"So you're telling me any mammal can have a baby with any other mammal? You and I could have a half-fox, half-bunny?"

Nick stopped mid-snort and looked at her strangely.

"No, of course not," he said slowly. "We're too far apart. The partner has to be pretty close on the mammal family tree. Finnick has a baby with a red fox. Like me and Vicki, you know? Not too far apart, but he's so much smaller than red foxes, the program still took an interest in his---"

"Finnick has a child?" Judy asked, the pieces finally jingling together in her mind.

"Stay up, Carrots," Nick said, gently patting her on the back and starting to walk again. "Yep. He's not with the mother anymore, of course, but still sees the kid a few times a week. It's cute kid. Anthony."

"Huh." Judy said slowly, thinking about Finnick with a child. It was hard to imagine.

"But the PCNS program is completely free, and it is very, very good medical care." Nick continued. "But the appointments are long, medical students observe all of them, and they make you complete all these courses about what they project the new baby will need, like what kind of diet, if there are any projected medical issues or diseases, you know, that sort of thing. It used to drive Finnick crazy, I know. He used to say the baby needs damn food when it's hungry and it needs to sleep when it's tired. Then he would swear a bit."

"So what species do you think the father of Vicki's baby is?" Judy asked after a moment. Nick shrugged.

"I don't really care," he said eventually. He paused after a moment. "Although I think it probably must be a vulpe - some kind of fox, you know. Maybe a canine. If it's half a timber wolf, do you think it will howl instead of cry?"

Judy smiled slightly, then frowned. She was deep in thought.

"So interspecies couples who are far apart just know they can never have children?" Judy asked, after a moment. She thought of all the couples she saw at the Spotted Elk. Some of them had looked so happy together. She thought of Beverly and Squires. She wondered if they were too far apart to have a child...

Nick looked at her strangely again.

"They can adopt, if they want. PCNS organizes that, too," he said eventually. "Often a mixed-species child. They get abandoned a lot. Because people think they are, you know--"

"Aberrations," Judy finished dully. "That's what we called the idea of species-mixing. An aberration."

"Yep," Nick said. "I visited Finnick after his baby momma gave birth. The PCNS program wing at the Free Hospital has all these large pictures of mixed species families with adopted kids all over the wall. It's pretty cute, I guess, but it seems so unrealistic."

"Why is that?" Judy asked, frowning slightly.

"Smiling family after smiling family? Most of the kids in the pictures were toddlers. I don't know about you, but whenever I see a couple with a toddler, there seems to be a lot of yelling and not too much smiling involved."

Judy smiled slightly.

"Are you saying they should have pictures of the children fighting with one another and the parents pulling them away from one another?"

"Oh yeah. Much more realistic. In, you know, a sea of overturned toys and dirty nappies."

Judy giggled.

"I can't believe you just said 'nappies,' Nick."

"Oh, well, I'm surprising kind of guy," Nick said easily, and smiled down at her. "Here we are. Let's see what is so important for us to get called in on a Saturday..."

Chapter Text

Gina rolled her eyes, looking out of the window that overlooked the front entrance. Judy was still wearing the same dress as last night. Jesus, those two. Obvious much?

She excitedly scurried back to her desk and pulled open a desk drawer, taking out a thin manila envelope. It was labeled "HOPPS / WILDE" and she had doodled a million hearts on the front of it.

Chief Bogo walked over and looked at her.

"Why do you have that thing, Gina," he asked her warily, pointing at the folder.

"Well, Judy is wearing the same dress that she wore last night," Gina said airily, opening up the file and pulling out a document. She reviewed it. "And the two of them look really happy and a little embarrassed...OK, that is all signed... OK, that seems to be in order." She slid the document back into the folder and beamed at Bogo.

Chief Bogo shut his eyes.

"Good God, I hope it doesn't come to that," he muttered.

"Why do you hate love so much..."

"I want the two of them to work this case together, that's why," Bogo grumbled as he stomped away towards his office. "If they sign that thing, they can't work a case together by themselves anymore. You know that. I don't even know why you made me sign that thing before they said anything... it was only Wilde's second day here..."

"It was in anticipation of the inevitable," Gina called out at his retreating back. "Also, it'll look so kick-ass when the two of them come to you, so nervous, and announce they're dating and bam! You already have all the forms totally filled out for them to sign. They'll feel so stupid. That'll show 'em to flirt so much in the office."

"Hah hah," Bogo said dryly, shutting the door to his office.

"Ohmygosh, I wish Clawhauser was here," Gina moaned, picking up her cell phone and unlocking it and composing a text.

GINA: Clawsy, Bogo looks really cute and annoyed today.

CLAWHAUSER: Awwwww too bad I don't work on Saturdays

GINA: how r u feeling

CLAWHAUSER: I'm fine - why?

GINA: bc u cried so much last nite

GINA: like a baby

GINA: a baby cheetah

CLAWHAUSER: Hah! God, you're hilarious. Have you heard from Judy or Nick?

GINA: they r comin into today to work a quote sensitive case unquote. Judy is wearin the same dress as last night

CLAWHAUSER: wait, what?

GINA: yeah, don't worry, i totally have their file at the ready also I'll try to get a picture of them when they tell Bogo. Then i plan to post it online

Gina sighed at her phone, which was now urgently ringing, Clawhauser's face (an extremely bad photo Gina took while Clawhauser was eating a donut) on the screen. Gina answered it.

"Clawhauser, I'm a millennial. I don't like to talk on the phone..."

"She's wearing the same dress?" Clawhauser asked. Gina thought she could hear chewing in the background.

"Yeah. Look, they'll probably be here in any minute. Judy's probably changing into her uniform in the locker room downstairs..."

"They live in the same apartment building," Clawhauser protested.

"So? Doesn't that make it more likely that they would hook up?"

"What? Well, sure, probably, but there's no reason Judy wouldn't come to work in in her uniform, she could just run upstairs and change. I bet she was locked out last night or her apartment was getting fumigated or something."

"Nah," Gina said after a moment. "They totally banged."

"Oh my goodness, I have the best idea," Clawhauser squealed. "Let's bet on it! Fifty bucks."

"Fine, loser," Gina said, rolling her eyes and hanging up on him.

The door swung open and Nick wandered in, followed by Judy who was trying very hard to look professional.

"Judy - were you wearing the same dress as you were last night?" Gina asked her, standing up when the two arrived and shoving the HOPPS / WILDE file under some papers.

"You work on Saturdays?" Nick asked her, sounding bewildered. "You?"

"Yeah," Gina said rolling her eyes, "It's the only time I can get any work done without you losers getting in my way."

Nick stared at her.

"My apartment was getting fumigated last night," Judy said shortly. "So I had to change here."

"God, that is so disappointing," Gina said, slumping down in her chair and holding her head in her hand. Nick raised an eyebrow at her.

"Yes, it was...inconvenient," Judy said, looking at Gina strangely as she walked into Bogo's office. Nick smiled and followed her.

Once they were safely inside Bogo's office with the door shut, Gina sadly uncovered the heart-encrusted-Manila-folder from the pile of papers she had hastily thrown in under.

"Don't worry, my love," she whispered to the folder. "Someday will be your day in the sun... Someday you'll get to make Nick and Judy feel stupid... Someday..."

Her phone buzzed.

CLAWHAUSER: Was I right?

GINA: o shut up. R we gonna have to lock them in a room with some champagne? What is taking them so long? they're such nerds

CLAWHAUSER: I'm going to buy Gazelle's new perfume with that fifty bucks

GINA: that's made for women

CLAWHAUSER: ...and I'm going to love it.

Chapter Text

Nick stared down at the small device laid out on Chief Bogo’s desk.

“What is it, some kind of mechanical tick?” he asked, staring at it blankly.

Judy had gotten off her chair and was now standing on tiptoe, her twitching level with the desk. She narrowed her eyes slightly as she studied the object. She was cute when she twitched her nose like that.

“I think it’s a GPS tracker,” she said after a moment. “The smallest GPS tracker I’ve ever seen.”

“Very good, Hopps,” Bogo said, sitting down in his desk chair. He picked up a file and passed it over to the two of them.

Nick opened it while Judy sat beside him on the oversized chair. Positioning the file so that both of them could see it, Nick gave it a once-over.

A picture of a young, pretty sand fox smiled up at him. Very pretty. Really, astonishingly pretty. He frowned slightly. She was so pretty he thought that there was probably some cosmetic surgery in her past. That, or she was gifted with truly magnificent, and unbelievable, genes.

Her name was Chastity Smixen. What a name, Nick thought. Sounds like a stripper name. He glanced down lower on the file. Occupation: Dancer. Huh, Nick thought. Well, that makes sense.

“Wilde, pay attention,” Bogo snapped. Nick jumped slightly in his seat and looked up to see Judy giving him a reproachful look. He bit down the smile creeping up on his face. Judy was cute when she gave him reproachful looks. About one third of his jokes were made specifically for that little look of reproach Judy might give him. The other two thirds was because he was hilarious.

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

“So this…this thing was found on her,” Bogo said, picking it up gingerly and looking at it for a moment before setting it down. “And she found it and panicked - thinking that maybe a crazed fan had somehow put it on her and was monitoring her movements.”

Nick nodded.

“I know that happens to strippers sometimes,” he volunteered.

He saw Bogo’s look of amazement at him and felt Judy’s stunned and annoyed stare boring into the side of his face.

“What?” he asked. “It does. That’s why they have bodyguards at strip clubs.”

“As fascinating as your knowledge of strip clubs is, Wilde” Bogo said, rolling his eyes, “Chastity Smixen is the prima ballerina for the Zootopia Ballet.”

“She’s incredibly famous,” Judy said unbelievingly. “You haven’t heard of her? She was on the cover of Savannah Second last month."

“Well maybe I prefer more serious reading than the Savannah Second—“ Nick began.

“Stop it, you two.” Bogo snapped, cutting Nick off. “You two and your inside jokes. This isn’t time for that…”

Nick opened his mouth. He was about to protest that this wasn’t really an inside joke, this was banter but the steely look in Bogo’s eye silenced him.

“Let. It. Go. Nick. Be serious for once in your career.” Bogo snapped. Nick shut his mouth.

“She’s a celebrity and this case requires a large degree of tact. Which is, of course, why I was so annoyed to have to put you on this, Wilde.”

Hah-hah, though Nick dryly, while Judy looked ashamed.

Bogo sighed and pulled out another file. Judy pushed it open.

“Lacy Predatorssohn,” she read, showing Nick the picture of a tough-looking arctic fox with a snarl and many tattoos on her arms.

“This is the odd thing,” Bogo said, drumming his fingers on the desk. “Another one of these devices was found on this woman when she was in her intake processing at the Tundratown Prison a week ago. Locked up for prostitution, which was apparently her only, and long-standing, career.”

“Another fox,” Nick said, after a moment’s silence.

“Another fox,” Bogo agreed heavily. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, looking exhausted. “HQ is terrified that this is similar to the Bellwether incident last year. Another person, or another group, going around and tagging foxes. Or predators, or underrepresented species in general. It could turn into a huge mess.”

“So that’s why we’re doing this?” Nick asked. “Because I’m a fox?” He tried to keep his voice neutral, but he still felt Judy looking worriedly at him.

“Well, yes, that’s part of it, Wilde,” Bogo said, leaning back in his chair. “It might…offend you, I suppose, but it looks better to have a fox officer dealing with this case. Also, people are more likely to talk to a member of their species of origin, you know that.”

Nick nodded, but didn’t say anything. He wondered uneasily if that meant that he would only be assigned cases involving foxes…what if they eventually split up him and Judy, thinking that predators should be paired with predators and prey with prey? That didn’t sound very good, and the possibility of being separated from Judy made him feel…uneasy. Although they lived so close to one another, they still primarily saw each other at work. What would it be like to not see Judy almost every day?

“You also,” Bogo continued, tapping on the desk and awakening Nick from his moody internal reverie, “have experience with the Bellwether case. And,” he added as an afterthought, “you two have a reputation of being some of the nicest officers in the force.”

“I take offense to that,” Nick said, sounding outraged as Judy beamed. She always looks so happy when she gets a work compliment, Nick thought, a smile creeping over his face. She really lights up and looks so...wholesome. So innocent.

“Chastity—God, what a name. Part of me doesn’t blame you for assuming she was that kind of dancer, Wilde—Chastity Smixon will be in interview room B in ten minutes. Go talk to her about her movements over the past week or so, who she was with, etc. Use tact, use discretion. Maybe let Judy do most of the talking. Then,” Bogo hesitated, “go interview Lacy Pretadorssohn. She is extremely reluctant to talk to the cops, from what I hear. Maybe Nick should do most of the talking there…”

“Why am I always the bad cop?” Nick grumbled as they exited the room, Judy carrying the files neatly under her arm.

“Oh, Nick,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Come on. Let’s go figure out our strategy for talking to Chastity.”

Oho, it’s the return of Judy’s determined-face, Nick thought, smiling again. Cute.

Chapter Text

“Do you remember Stephan Lynxer?”

“Mmm?” Vicki said, sleepily opening one eye. She must have fallen asleep on these chairs, which was pretty remarkable, even for her. Chairs in prison waiting rooms are not, as a rule, comfortable.

“Do you remember Stephan Lynxer?” Stephanie repeated, leaning over to Vicki and carefully removing a piece of lint from her shoulder. Vicki signed internally. “You should remember him,” Stephanie continued, smiling now. “That prank you and Sheila pulled got him fired. The fake math question.”

“Oh, the teacher’s aide,” Vicki said, shaking herself awake. “Math. I liked him. He was nice to us.”

“He’s dating one of the head honchos in the police, apparently,” Stephanie said, handing over her cell phone to Vicki. “Have you met this guy? Cape buffalo, it looks like.”

Vicki looked at the picture on the phone.

“I wouldn’t have thought Lynxer would like prey,” Vicki mused. “This guy is a cop? He’s wearing a Gazelle tee-shirt…heh, look at those tiny glasses…”

“I assume he doesn’t wear the Gazelle shirt to work…”

“I’ve only met like…well…I guess four cops recently. And someone who works at the ZPD but isn’t a cop. It’s not like I know everyone there…” Vicki said, sighing slightly. She could feel a lecture coming on.

“Did you know that police officers are eight percent more likely to engage in domestic violence than non-police officers?”

“Oh, Stephanie,” Vicki groaned. “I know you think I’m a class traitor for moving in with a cop—“

“I don’t—“

“You do. But you’re the real class traitor. You and your university education.”

“Hah hah. I just worry about you, that’s all.”

“I bet if they did a selective sample on any occupation the data would skew higher for domestic violence…” Vicki mumbled.

“Yeah, you were always pretty shitty at math,” Stephanie said pointedly.

“I guess that’s true. Nick seems nice. His partner seems…oddly ethical and oddly…good for a cop,” Vicki said, closing her eyes and wishing Stephanie would change the subject. “Besides, Lynxer is apparently dating a cop bigwig, go lecture him…”

“It’s like fraternizing with the cops has become an epidemic,” Stephanie said dryly.

“You kept in touch with Lynxer after all this time?”

“No, he just randomly decided to send me a selfie of him and his new boyfriend,” Stephanie said sarcastically.

“I get it, that buffalo is pretty attractive,” Vicki said, deadpan. Stephanie rolled her eyes.

“Tundratown Orphanage girls,” a rhino behind a pane of plastic called to them. “You can go in now.”

“We’re not girls,” Stephanie snapped at the rhino, who glared at her, as she signed in. “We’re women.”

“That was a woman, you know,” Vicki said mildly, as they walked down a hallway, escorted by a polar bear officer.

“And that gives her a pass?”

Vicki suddenly stopped in the hallway and glared at Stephanie for a moment.

“Stephanie.”

Stephanie stopped turned to look at her in surprise. The polar bear stopped and leaned against the wall, rolling his eyes.

“You can’t take too long with the drama, women” he said nastily at Stephanie. Vicki saw the flash of anger in Stephanie’s eyes.

“My unborn child is half-coyote,” Vicki said flatly. Vicki saw the polar bear’s face turn to a mixture of disgust and horror out of the corner of her eye.

Stephanie gaped at her.

“What?” she whispered. “It’s not…Peter’s?”

“No,” Vicki said shortly. “I don’t want to talk about that. But it’s a mutt. And Nick knows! He knows, Stephanie, and he doesn’t mind!”

“You’re kidding,” Stephanie said, sounding disbelieving. "Really?"

“He doesn't care,” Vicki hissed. “And for the first time in my life I might have some family who cares about me, and might give half-a-damn about this soon-to-be-mutt and I do not need you ruining it for me!”

“I care about you,” Stephanie said, sounding hurt. “And the baby. You could have stayed with me. You could still move in with me...I have the room...”

“I know,” Vicki grumbled. “But…I mean…he’s actually…my, you know, my brother…”

Stephanie sighed and looked at Vicki sadly.

“OK, women, time to take this little soap opera inside the visitation room,” the polar bear said dryly, “as salacious as some of this gossip is.”

Vicki and Stephanie both glared at him this time as they sauntered into the visitation room.

“Jesus, what they say about mixed-species orphanages is true,” the polar bear muttered to the rhino when he got back up to the front desk. “That pregnant one in there is carrying a…mutt.”

“No,” the rhino said in surprise. “Really?”

“I don’t know you two at all,” Lacy Predatorssohn said, giving the two of them a blank stare. “And I sure as hell didn’t put you on my visitation list. How did you get it?”

Stephanie pulled out a letter from her pocket.

“We’re with the Tundratown Mixed Species Orphanage Alumni Aide Association For the Impoverished and Incarcerated—”

“Also conveniently known as the TMSOAAAFTIAI,” Vicki cut in.

“Oh, stop it, Vicki,” Stephanie grumbled. “But you ticked the box that said you would be open to receive visitors from aide and alumni associations you’re a member of.”

“I’m not in that…TMSOA-thing-“ Lacy began.

“Oh, do you mean the TMSOAAAFTIAI?” Vicki said brightly.

Stephanie shut her eyes for a moment. This was revenge for the comments she made about cops or, well, Nick out in the waiting room. Vicki could be annoying the way a concert violinist could play a scale. It was like an art.

“You aged-out of the Tundratown Mixed-Species Orphanage though, right?” Stephanie prompted.

Lacy paused.

“Yeah - but I was only in there for about a year when my mom got locked up—“

“It’s for anyone who aged-out, regardless of how long they were in there,” Stephanie said, smiling.

“So what do you two want?” Lacy said, still looking suspicious.

“Reminisce about the old times?” Vicki said brightly. “When you were there, did they make you wear those stupid hats and do jumping jacks in the snow? Because we sure had to—“

“We mostly wanted to check in on you and make sure you weren’t being mistreated,” Stephanie said, shooting Vicki an annoyed look. “We put some money in your canteen account.”

“Oh,” Lacy said, looking taken-aback. “Thanks.”

“We can also bring some books or magazines you might like next time?” Stephanie asked, smiling.

Lacy grinned. “I do like those interspecies romance novels,” she said. “Roberta Rhiorden is the best, I think, but Verity Voleman is pretty good, too.”

Vicki stared hard at the wall behind Lacy. God, she thought. How shameful to be someone’s second-favorite trashy romance novel author. Stephanie, immediately recognizing Vicki’s pen name, tried to cover up a smirk.

Vicki sighed, and leaned forward. “Do you think they found you via Fozstein’s office?”

Lacy blinked at her.

“I know Jessica - red fox, lots of diamonds—“

“Oh, and upscale clientele? Yeah, her. Never liked her. But she told you, huh?” Lacy said thoughtfully. “Yeah. I think so. They found some kind of tracking device on me when I came in here.”

“What?” Stephanie asked sharply. “What do you mean a tracking device?”

Lacy shrugged.

“It looked like a tick,” she said. “I don’t know what it was. But I think that’s how Vice found me…”

“What?” Stephanie cried again, leaping up. “That’s not legal! They can’t do that!”

“They’re cops,” Lacy said, rolling her eyes. “When have they ever played by the rules?”

Stephanie sat back down and drummed her fingers on the table. She then looked up at Vicki.

“You said you thought Nick’s partner was almost too ethical and moral to be a cop?” she asked eventually.

Chapter Text

"It was an entirely normal week," Chastity Smixen said, anxiously agitating a small silver charm of a ballet slipper on a thin chain around her throat. "Nothing unusual happened. Who could have placed that thing on me?"

"I know it's disturbing," Judy said soothingly, reaching over and giving Chastity a small squeeze of understanding on the fox's tan paw. Chastity looked at her uncomfortably.

"Do you mind giving us an outline of your movements over the past week?" Nick said, clicking his blue ballpoint pen and looking expectantly at Chastity.

"Well...it's hard to remember everything" Chastity began, shrugging her petite shoulders.

"We're very discreet," Nick said, smiling at her slightly. "This doesn't need to leave this office. But it will help us catch the...the dastardly person who did this..."

Chastity smiled.

"You know what it's like to be a person with secrets," she said approvingly to Nick.

Judy felt hurt.

"OK," Chastity said after a moment. Reaching down into her bag and pulling out a small day-planner. "Here we go."

And go they did. Chastity wrote down all of her rehearsal times, practices, and, well, euphamisms. "Picking up laundry" was code seeing Charlie Shyhan, a (presumably married) doctor in Savannah Square, "Going to Zumba" was code for seeing Gregory Gentlehide, an alderman in Tundratown, and (somewhat humorously, Judy had to admit through her blushes) "shopping with the girls" code for seeing Janet Furrington, heir of the Preyda clothing empire.

Nick, of course, seemed totally unfazed. He wrote down the names, tapping his pen on the folder when he was done.

"So, really, there are a lot of people who might want to track your movements," Nick said after a moment.

Chastity belted out a short laugh.

"Yes, most of all my fiancée, Omar Sandh," she said dryly. "To be honest, that is who I am most worried about..."

Yeah, Judy thought dryly, I would be worried about that too.

"Well, apart from these...meetings...and your normal rehearsal times, did anything else happen outside or the ordinary?" Judy asked finally.

"Hmmm," Chastity said, leaning back slightly and smiling at Nick. She's responding to Nick, not me, even though I asked her the question, Judy thought irritably. "Not really. Let's see. Oh, I got a massage on Tuesday at the Spa-ider Monkey... I had a doctor's appointment on Friday... Other than that, nothing unusual."

"Who was the massuese? And the doctor? Were you sick?" Judy asked, writing furiously.

"Oh, I always see the same monkey there. Morgania. And the doctor is Dr. Fozstein out of the Tundratown Jewish Hospital. Just a check-up."

"Pretty far to travel for a check-up," Judy said, sounding surprised. Tundratown wasn't exactly close to downtown, where Chastity lived.

"It's close to Gregory's place," Chastity said idly. "Also she's the only female fox doctor in the city who deals with...you know, women's issues. Lots of vixens see her."

"I see," Judy said, writing that down.

"I can't really see how that's relevant, though," Chastity said dryly. "I'm not having an affair with her."

Clearly one of the few mammals in the city who isn't, Judy thought dryly. She then felt a little guilty. Chastity had been the victim of a crime, she reminded herself severely. It doesn't matter what legal activities she gets up to in her free time, no one had the right to bug her without her consent.

"Well, thank you," Nick said, closing the file in front of him.

"No problem, Officer Wilde," Chastity said, smiling at him and picking up her bag. "I'm sure you will solve this quickly." She paused for a minute, looking at him up and down. "You single, Officer Wilde?" She asked after a moment.

"What?" Nick asked, his generally cool exterior breaking for a moment. He dropped the pen he was holding. Judy internally rolled her eyes. Chastity smiled at him.

"What? No. No, I'm not. I mean yes. Yep. I am."

"Complicated situation, huh?" Chastity laughed. "I understand that. Maybe we should go to dinner sometime. You have my number."

With that, she left the interrogation room.

--

The silence between Judy and Nick in the police cruiser was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Nick, behind his sunglasses, looked out at the landscape rushing by them. The tallest towers of Zootopia became smaller and squatter, the sun seemed to almost disappear behind a sudden cloud, and snow creeped up the sidewalks as they made their way deep into Tundratown.

"I don't get it," Judy eventually said.

"Yeah," Nick agreed after a moment, glad they were apparently on speaking terms again. "If the bug on Chastity was personal, why would this Lacy Predatorssohn be bugged too? Maybe she has one of Chastity's friends as her client too?"

A long pause followed that statement. Nick stole a glance at Judy, who looked embarrassed.

"What?" He asked her.

"Well, that's true of course, but what I really meant was I don't get how you couldn't decide if you were single or not!" Judy said eventually, keeping her eyes steadfastly on the road in front of her.

"What?" Nick asked, feeling himself getting embarrassed and anxious. He could feel the hair on the back of his neck starting to rise. "I think...I think I panicked," he finished somewhat lamely.

"Panicked," Judy said dryly.

"Yes, panicked," Nick replied, feeling suddenly ashamed at what had happened in his head when Chastity had asked about his romantic availability.

"Because?" Judy prompted.

"Because I wasn't sure if I should go out with her or not," Nick embellished after a moment. "You know, for the case."

"Oh," Judy said quietly. "That makes sense."

Another long paused stretched out between the two of them as they drove into the back parking lot of the Tundratown Prison.

"So are you single?" Judy finally asked, sounding a little...shy.

"Yeah," Nick said, a little too fast. "Of course."

Judy shot him a slightly suspicious look, pulled into a parking spot, sighed, and unbuckled her seatbelt.

"All right, partner, let's go question this fox," she said heavily.

Partner, Nick though sourly as he also unbuckled his seat-belt and slid out of the car. Because that is what he had thought of immediately when asked if he was single. Judy. Was he single? No, of course not, he immediately thought. I have Judy. We're a team. Partners.

But of course, that didn't mean he wasn't single. He and Judy weren't dating. He was, hypothetically available to go on a date with anyone he liked. Which meant, he had realized with a quiet desperation while staring at Chastity's beautiful blue eyes, Judy was single too. She could go on dates with anyone. She could have been dating people this whole time. She could be dating someone right now!

He thought of the two of them as a pair, as an item, as a unit. He talked to her everyday, texted her almost every night...

But that doesn't mean anything, you idiot, he told himself sadly. He texted with Gina almost as much and he certainly didn't feel the sort of...connection he felt with Judy that he felt with Gina. He didn't feel the kind of connection he felt with Judy with anyone else, really.

And thinking these gloomy thoughts, Nick followed Judy into the Tundratown Prison.

Chapter Text

“Are you single, Carrots?” Nick asked mildly as they walked into the prison.

“Of course,” Judy grumbled, not looking at him.

“Why ‘of course’?” Nick protested. “You seemed to think it was plausible that I was seeing someone on all my copious time off, so why not you?”

Judy sighed and looked up at him.

“You’re really not seeing anyone?”

“Nope,” Nick said, shaking his head. “I’ll tell you if I start seeing someone, promise.”

“OK,” Judy said, perking up. “I guess this was like another secret we told each other…”

“Pretty bad secret,” Nick smiled, “Very public secret, our single-ness.”

They walked up to the intake officer, a rhino, who gave them an impassive look.

“We’re here to see Lacy Predatorssohn,” Judy said, showing her badge to the rhino.

--

“That was fast,” Lacy said, staring at the two of the skeptically when she sat down on the chair opposite them.

“What do you mean?” Judy asked. “You know we were coming?”

Lacy cocked her head slightly and stared at the two of them for a long moment. She then shrugged.

“Oh, I figured that it was inevitable someone would come to talk about that tracking device,” she said eventually. “That’s why you’re here, right?”

“Yes,” Nick said, leaning forward. A fellow fox, he reminded himself. “Any idea who might have planted it on you?”

Lacy rolled her eyes.

“Why should I tell you? You’re just cops.”

Just cops?” Nick asked, frowning. “What, were you expecting the chief of police to come here and talk to you?”

Lacy sighed deeply, slumping down into her chair.

“I wasn’t expecting anyone,” she said finally. “I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Give me a second, Nick,” Judy muttered to Nick, standing up and heading towards the door with a determined look on her face.

She had said “that was fast”, Judy thought to herself. She knew someone was coming… I wonder if something happened to her earlier today or yesterday that made her think we were coming…

She walked back up to the intake office, which was now being staffed by a large polar bear.

“Hi,” she said. The polar book looked up from the magazine he was reading, taking a long time to finally meet Judy’s eyes. He overly-dramatically looked around before finally lowering his eyes to Judy’s. Judy internally rolled her eyes. A bunny cop, she told herself bitterly. Yes, ha-ha very funny.

“What can I do for you?” he drawled.

“I was wondering if anything out of the ordinary happened to Lacy Predatorssohn today—“ Judy began.

“This is one of the toughest prisons in Zootopia,” the polar bear said, snickering. “Being here isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Things happen all the time. We don’t always see it.”

“I meant like if she made any phone calls, or had any visitors…” Judy said, gritting her teeth slightly.

The polar bear sighed and picked up a clipboard and glanced at the sheet.

“Some people from an aid organization,” he said at last. “Tundratown Orphanage girls. People who aged-out of the Tundratown Mixed-Species Orphanage. They come a lot,” he continued. “A lot of their graduates or alumni or whatever the hell they call them end up locked up in here. Doesn’t surprise me. Those mixed-species orphanages are a menace. They don’t give those orphans a sense of species-pride or distinctiveness.”

He apparently located a few names on the sheet, grunted, and began scrawling some names on a post-it.

“These two, for example, real pieces of work. One was pregnant with a mutt – can you believe it, a real mutt – and wasn’t even living with the baby’s father. And the other vixen was wheedling, ‘Come live with me, I’ll take care of you,’ but the pregnant one was like ‘No, I moved in with my brother.’ Personally, I think the wheedling one, Stephanie, is… you know…” he leaned closer to Judy. “A lesbian. No wonder the pregnant one didn’t want to move in.”

He gave the post-it note to Judy, who had by this time already had a sinking feeling in her heart.

“Names are Victoria Vulpecula and Stephanie Angler, if you can’t read my handwriting –“ The polar bear called out behind Judy’s departing back.

Judy hesitated for a moment outside the door of the interview room. Vicki – well, Vicki wasn’t as helpless as she had seemed. She had an offer to stay with a friend, which she turned down to try and stay with Nick. But she had told him that he was her last chance… Judy sighed. She did hustle him, a little. She felt very protective of Nick, she realized, with a start. But at the same time, she was starting to feel slightly protective of Vicki, too. Pregnant, very few options, too traumatized to sleep in a bed… Judy tapped on the side of the post-it note, biting her lip.

Well, better not to dwell on it now, she steeled herself. Now, it’s time to talk to Lacy…

--

Nick was staring impassively at Lacy when Judy snuck back in. She and him were getting along like a glass of water on fire. That is to say, not at all. She seemed to consider him as only slightly more intelligent than a cricket.

Judy sat down next to Nick and slid the post-it note over to him.

“Lacy had some visitors earlier this morning,” Judy said mildly. She saw Lacy stiffen slightly, her eyes on the post-it note.

Nick stared at down at the note. He looked up at Judy, who gave him a meaningful look. He looked at Lacy who was now staring at him warily. He looked back down at the note.

“A couple of squiggles wandered into the prison visitation area?” he asked, smiling. Lacy rolled her eyes and Judy exhaled loudly. “What?” he asked. “This is impossible to read, Carrots.”

“Stephanie Angler and Victoria Vulpecula from a Tundratown Orphanage Aid Organization,” Judy said, after a minute.

Nick startled.

“Vicki?” he asked blankly. “Vicki was here?”

“Apparently,” Judy said dryly.

The two of them turned to look at Lacy, who was now warily looking at them.

“Why did they come?” Nick asked blankly.

“Just to check up on me,” Lacy said after a moment. “They put some money in my canteen account.”

“Why did you think we would be coming?” Judy asked after a moment. “You said ‘that was fast,’ when we entered the room…”

Lacy hesitated, and then looked forward.

“Look, I thought Vicki would have talked to you two,” she said quietly. “She said you guys were good cops not – you know, corrupt.”

“No ZPD officer should be corrupt!” Judy said, sounding scandalized.

Nick and Lacy rolled their eyes at the exact same time, but didn’t notice, as they were too busy rolling their eyes.

“A lot of them are,” Lacy said flatly. She shrugged. “Oh, what the hell,” she said, looking like she had made up her mind about something. “I might as well tell you.”

Judy turned to a blank page of her notebook.

“I think that…that thing was put on me when I was at a doctor’s office,” Lacy said heavily. “Terminating a pregnancy. Working girls from all over the city have been finding them on them after they go and get, you know, abortions.”

“Who did you go to?” Nick said, leaning forward slightly. Lacy hesitated.

“Dr. Rokhel Fozstein, here in Tundratown. Vicki – well, Vicki helps a lot of former Tundratown orphans find doctors and stuff – thought that Dr. Fozstein’s was a safe office.”

“Meaning that patients wouldn’t be bugged?” Judy asked, writing furiously.

“Well, yeah, but even before the buggings started…” Lacy said, and then hesitated again.

“You can tell us,” Judy prompted. Lacy smiled a bit at her.

“You do seem nice,” she said, smiling slightly. “Vicki couldn’t stop talking about how nice you seemed, and how startling it was to remember that you were a cop.”

Judy felt a small little blush of pleasure spread over her cheeks. She wished she didn’t blush so easily…

“Vice would sometimes arrest us while we were getting abortions,” Lacy said, after a moment. “Or they would follow us after we left. I don’t think it’s really legal…”

“It’s not,” Judy said, sounding stunned. "Doctor’s officers are private property, they would need a warrant to arrest someone in a doctor's office, and the records are confidential..”

“Yeah, well…” Lacy said heavily. She paused again. “You haven’t talked to Vicki about this?”

“No,” Nick said, frowning slightly. “Why?”

“Well…” Lacy said. “She might know more about this than me. She knows a lot of us. She keeps her ear to the ground.”

Nick nodded slightly.

“Thanks,” he said, starting to stand up. Judy followed his lead. “Well, we’ll get out of your hair now, Ms. Predatorssohn. Thanks for all your help.”

“Don’t kick her out,” Lacy called out at their retreating backs. “She’s pretty okay, that one.”

Chapter Text

"Do you think we should change our clothes?" Nick asked after a moment. Judy looked at him, surprised. She was glad he had said something to break the awkward silence, but she hadn't expected a comment about their police uniforms.

"Why?"

"Well...when I called the PCNS program and told them we needed to talk to Vicki, I sold the brother angle pretty hard. The receptionist kept talking about how happy she was to finally meet me...And said she was glad she would finally get to tell me about her case..."

"And you think they might be annoyed if we show up in police uniforms wanting to question her for a case..." Judy said, sighing. "I'm not even sure if my apartment is safe to go in..."

"I think we can consider it a case expense...there's a resale shop over there. I get a lot of my clothes there, it's cheap," Nick suggested, nodding over to the left.

A pause stretched out between the two of them as Judy pulled into the parking lot of the Salvation Armadillo.

"Oh, go on, Hopps," Nick groaned. "I know you're just aching to make a crack about my clothes."

"I am, I am!" Judy said, stifling a giggle. They seemed to be back to their normal selves, she thought, breathing a sigh of relief. "I just thought of so many things to say all at once, I panicked!"

"Uh-huh," Nick said, trying to hide his smile. "You really need to work on your witty comebacks, dumb bunny."

"Well you have...bad clothes, sly fox," Judy said lamely.

Nick barked out a laugh, affectionately rubbings Judy's head between her ears. Judy felt herself blush a little bit, and suddenly pictured Nick bending down and kissing her. Huh. She shook herself slightly.

"OK," she said, steadying herself, "let's go shopping."

---

"Carrots, you should probably try this on," Nick said, handing her a floor-length light blue dress.

"I think this is for Amish people....like seriously, I think this is for Amish people...."

"Also this," Nick said, handing her a sparkly miniskirt.

Judy sighed.

Nick glanced at her, smiling slightly.

"Ok, Ok, I'll go to my section," he said, giving her a wink and strolling away.

Judy looked at his retreating back for a moment.

The car ride from the Tundratown prison towards downtown (closer to where the PCNS program was so they could talk to Vicki) had been...weird.

It had started fine, perfectly normal, except that Nick had fallen asleep. This wasn't all that uncommon - Nick fell asleep while in the passenger seat of the cruiser on average about four times per week - but what was different this time was what Judy had said when he had woken up.

"You snored," Judy had said, smiling at him slightly. "You snored last night, too."

"I don't snore, Carrots," Nick had said, looking groggily at her.

"You do too snore! And you moan."

"I moan?" Nick had said, sounding...well, at the time Judy had thought he had sounded disbelieving, but replaying the scene in her head, she now wondered if he had felt embarrassed.

"You do!" Judy had said, smiling. "Like you are having bad dreams. Or good dreams, I guess."

"Well, we can't all look at cute as you when we sleep, Carrots," Nick had said, looking out the window. Then, Judy was almost positive he blushed slightly, really blushed. That was weird. Nick called her cute all the time.

Then Judy tried to make the situation better, but she just made it worse.

"I kind of liked sleeping with you," she said. In her mind she thought she would reassure him that his snoring hadn't bothered her.

Nick had coughed and then, finally, turned around.

"Yeah?" He had asked, looking at her strangely. "Why is that?"

Judy had blushed.

"I don't know it felt kind of...comfortable. Companionable." She had said, lamely. "It was definitely warmer, too," she had babbled on, unable to stop herself from talking, "I can see why the orphanage Vicki grew up in made people sleep tougher. At times I almost felt hot."

That caused her to stop and blush deeply.

Nick at that, had at least grinned at her and leaned back.

"Oho, I make you hot, Carrots--" he had said, chuckling.

"I didn't mean it that way!" Judy had cried, still blushing.

"Yeah," Nick said, looking at her - was he looking at her shyly? Nick, shy? - and smiling slightly. "I know, Carrots."

Judy had blushed some more.

Soon after that, Nick had made the comment about needing to get more clothing.

Judy sighed deeply, continuing to rifle through the clothes. A few nights ago she was ready, albeit terrified, of the idea to tell Nick that she sometimes had...well...feelings for him. But she hadn't thought much would have happened. I mean, she knew Nick cared about her, and sometimes thought he even thought she was, for lack of a better term, cute, but she couldn't really imagine that he, well, that he desired her.

Well that was the trouble, wasn't it, she thought irritably to herself. Maybe Nick wanted her, but she felt he didn't want her enough. She wanted a man to want her, really want her. She wanted someone to ache for her. She had trouble just settling with someone who thought she was...cute. It wasn't a rational desire, it wasn't even a sensible desire, but there it was. It was there. She had confessed this to her mother once, when she was explaining why she was breaking up with her high school boyfriend Kyle, (Kyle was very nice, but didn't seem to, well, to like her enough) and her mother had rolled her eyes so hard at her Judy feared it would cause permanent damage. Shortly after that her mother had banned any romance novels in the house. But there it was.

It was just... Nick was so much older than her. And he was...so...well...the way he walked made him look so...experienced. Judy didn't consider herself inexperienced, she had slept with a few different people, but when she was with Nick she felt almost as though she hadn't ever been kissed. And well. When he had been acting, pretending to be savage, some part of her was, well, thrilled. More than thrilled, to be honest. He looked like he really, really, really wanted her. Yes, he looked like he wanted to eat her, but still. It was there. The desire. But it was...fake.

Judy glumly took a black pencil skirt and a red tee-shirt off the rail. If she tucked in the tee-shirt it maybe wouldn't look too bad together. Ugh. Just what she needed. To wear unwashed, ill-fitting resale shop clothing when she already felt uncomfortable. Great.

---

Nick rifled through the short-sleeve tops without really seeing them.

He had thought...well, it was too stupid, too embarrassing, to even think about.

"I liked sleeping with you," she had said. And for one moment, for one heart-aching moment, he had thought...well, he had thought she was going to hit on him. Even say something cute, like lightly saying "we should do it again sometime" would have been...well.

But instead her answer had been...so...platonic. Companionable.

That's my lot in life, he thought grumpily to himself. The friend. The hilarious, streetwise fox which women liked to go on dates with, drink wine with, laugh with, but never liked to get physical with. He was thirty-two years old and he had never even...well...what was it the kids were calling it these days? Passed third base? God, he was so old that the terminology for sex had probably changed beyond recognition. And still sex remained something hypothetical in his life.

It would be nice to feel wanted. Nick really wanted that, to be wanted. He was deeply ashamed of this desire - he felt needy, and pathetic, and like a shrink would have a field-day with it. "Oh, you fantasize about being wanted, desperately wanted? Oh, and you never knew your father and your mother abandoned you for a few months? Very interesting, very interesting..." And then he would probably have to tell the shrink about that painful, painful, painful crush on his old teacher from middle school who would come and visit him after he dropped out. And that had been...well, some of the most embarressing moments of his life had been about Ms. Jeffords. Ugh.

Ugh, ugh, ugh, he continued.

My god, Judy is beautiful, he thought, now taking out a short-sleeved button-down brown shirt. He wrinkled his nose at it. Brown. Yuck. But God! Her in that...that dress! And when she woke up, her one shoulder peeking out of Vicki's tee-shirt. That had been...ew. Better not to think about sister Vicki when thinking about Judy's body.

Sighing, he glanced up and saw a navy suit. A suit, he smirked to himself. And it looked like it was his size. He really shouldn't. He should buy something inexpensive. He could use a suit, though. And he could probably convincingly argue that it was the only thing that fit.

All right, he thought to himself, pulling the suit off the rack, let's play dress-up.

Chapter Text

“Was I sleeping?” Vicki said, sounding both bleary and confused. “In here? On this bed? Really?”

She glanced over at the bespectacled squirrel who was calmly writing some notes in a large manila folder. The squirrel looked over at her, smiled, and shut the folder. She was in a small hospital room, laying on a bed, next to a desk with a small vase of lilies in it. She glanced over the at the lilies, frowning.

“Who the hell brought those?” Vicki demanded.

“We got a donation from some florist. And yes, Vicki, you were sleeping, indeed, my dear,” he said. “Sleeping in a hospital bed! I walked in and you were positively snoring. I didn’t want to wake you up. I thought it would be good for you.”

“Mmm,” Vicki said, rubbing her eyes. “I tried the relaxation bullshit or whatever you told me to help with the panic. Focused on my five senses. Were those lilies here when I got in here? I couldn’t have been concentrated on my sense of smell that much….”

“Well, I’m glad it helped,” the squirrel said, still smiling. He leaned back in the small chair he was sitting on. “So not a lot of panic right now even though you’re in a bed?”

“No,” Vicki said after a moment. “Hospital beds don’t really seem like beds, though, if that makes sense. I’m still not really able to sleep in beds at, like, you know. A house.”

“Eh, that’s not really a problem—“

“Isn’t it?” Vicki interrupted the squirrel. “Squires, I’d like to be able to sleep on a bed like a normal person at some time in my life.”

“Well, sure, if that’s what you want,” Squires said, sighing slightly. “But sleeping in the beds here at the hospital is more pressing since you’ll almost certainly be here overnight when the cub comes. Besides, there’s no shame in sleeping on couches for as long as you need.”

“It might make dating hard,” Vicki said dryly. She looked stonily at the wall above Squires’s head. Squires didn’t say anything.

“I think my friends and, like, this friend of my brother thinks I am a rape victim,” Vicki said abruptly. Squires raised his eyebrows at her.

“Why do you think that?”

“Because I’m suddenly pregnant and left my boyfriend and have some PTSD and anxiety?” Vicki said dryly. “And they think I’m less of a shithead than I really am.”

“Why do you call yourself a shithead, Vicki? That’s pretty strong language….”

“What else do you call it when someone cheats on their boyfriend of two years with some random mammal in a bar bathroom? And then got impregnated from them and thought, welp, better keep this kid…” Vicki said, still staring at the wall above Squires’s head.

“A mammal who made a bad decision. The cheating, not keeping the kit,” Squires responded simply. “People cheat sometimes. It doesn’t make them bad people, it means they made a bad decision.”

“No, it means I’m a cheater. Half the time I think Peter was totally justified to…” Vicki trailed off, and slumped down into her pillow.

“Justified in what?” Squires asked, leaning forward slightly. “Trying to kill you? Lighting your bed on fire when you were sleeping?”

Vicki slumped again.

“Maybe he didn’t really mean to…” she whispered after a moment.

“I think he probably did,” Squires said heavily. “You haven’t been in contact with him, have you?”

“No," Vicki said sullenly after a moment’s pause. “He’s still in Micexco or wherever. I don’t think he’s coming back here anytime soon.”

“That’s probably for the best,” Squires said dryly.

“Do you think I’ll ever be able to have a functioning relationship?” Vicki blurted out, then blushed deeply. Squires looked at her, surprised.

“Is that what you want to talk about today?” He asked. “We’ve been working on, as you know, your feelings about being a mother, particularly to cub of a new species. But we can talk about dating if you want.”

“Well, I mean, I just…I’ve cheated on every person I’ve ever been with…” Vicki said glumly, picking at a piece of fur on her left cheek. “I’m doomed.”

“You really think you’re doomed?” Squires asked patiently. Vicki rolled her eyes.

“No, you jerk,” she said irritably. “Well, I don’t know. I was being, you know, hyperbolic.”

“How are you feeling towards me right now, Vicki?” Squires asked, making a note in the folder.

“Annoyed, you asshole,” Vicki grumbled.

Squires smiled at her.

“I’m an asshole now?”

“No…” Vicki said, staring at the wall over Squires’s head again. “I just feel annoyed at people when I, you know, talk about myself too much.”

Squires nodded encouragingly.

“Because, like, it’s just so…so stupid,” Vicki said. “That people like listening to me talk about all my bullshit. I mean, so many people out there have it worse than me…”

“That means that your feelings don’t matter?” Squires asked.

Vicki sighed deeply. She looked over at Squires.

“No,” she said softly. “I just feel bad you have to spend so much time worrying about me.”

“It’s my job,” Squires said. “I’m the therapist assigned to your case. I’m literally getting paid the big bucks to talk to you.”

Vicki nodded, and then drummed her fingers on the railing next to the hospital bed.

“You know what?” she said suddenly, sitting up. “I think I need to take a walk. Is that okay?”

“Yep,” Squires said, checking his watch. “Good timing, actually. Your brother is coming in, you knew that, right?”

“Mmm,” Vicki said. “Yeah, the badger up front told me.”

“Can I discuss your case with him?”

“I don’t care,” Vicki said, shrugging.

“I need you to verbally say yes and to sign this then…” Squires said, pulling out a sheet of paper and and pen. “You need to put the names of the people we can release your records to here, and sign here…”

“OK, I’m putting Nick’s name and then writing “his partner Judy” because I don’t know her last name but like I’m pretty sure they’re going to start banging any moment and they are clearly in love with each other, it’s gross,” Vicki said, scribbling on the sheet and signing with a flourish.

“I’m not sure how legally binding ‘My brother’s partner Judy with a last name I don’t know’ is, but OK,” Squires said, smiling slightly. “Enjoy your walk.”

“Oh, I will,” Vicki said, hoisting herself up from the bed. God, her stomach was getting bigger every day. She felt like a hippo.

Squires opened the door for her and she wandered down to the elevator. Glancing around, to make sure no one saw her, she entered the elevator and pressed the button for the ground floor.

Vicki paused for a second before turning the corner. She could hear protesters over near the entrance of the Free Hospital where the Planned Matehood rented space. Hmm. She had somehow avoided protesters for the past several pickups…hmm. Well, normally she didn't go into the clinic during office hours, so...

And now she was pregnant. Pretty visibly pregnant, too. They would probably think she was getting an abortion. There might be a scene. That’s good, she thought glumly to herself. Scenes are always what you want when you when doing covert operations. Good, good.

Sighing, she steeled herself for the onslaught of protesters, squared her shoulders, and turned the corner.

“Aw, thanks for your opinion,” Vicki said, smiling at the ram screaming in her face (well, behind a wooden barrier, but still), that she was a murderer. “I appreciate it so much—“

“I’ll be praying for you,” a desperate looking anteater said, holding a rosary.

“Thanks!” Vicki cried with sarcastic enthusiasm, ducked as a pro-life pamphlet whizzed by her head and scampered into the Planned Matehood.

A concerned and frazzled-looking giraffe greeted her at the door, bending over in order to meet her eyes.

“I’m so sorry that happened to you,” she said, placing a hand on Vicki’s shoulder. “Our Choice Escort was in the bathroom and we didn’t see you…do you have an appointment?”

The giraffe looked down at Vicki’s stomach and almost imperceptibly frowned. She can tell how far along I am, Vicki thought with a sad smile. Too late to abort, that’s for sure. Well, no matter, lady giraffe, I’m keeping it.

“Nope,” Vicki said, “to be honest, I was at an appointment at the Free Hospital and I wanted to grab a Stagbucks bottled frappaccino. I know I’m not really supposed to have them, but you guys are the only place in the hospital that stocks them in the vending machines…”

“Oh,” the giraffe said, looking surprised and standing up. “Of course. It’s not too bad to have a coffee a day, the baby will be fine. Go…go right ahead.”

“Thanks,” Vicki said, sauntering over the Stagbucks vending machine in the lobby. She placed several quarters into the machine and hit the “Mocha (with extra insect protein)” button. She glanced over at the reception area, where a particular flying squirrel was on the phone and decidedly not looking at her.

After getting her bottled mocha, she sauntered over to the reception desk, shaking the mocha. She tapped on the bulletproof glass and startled a platypus on the phone.

“Hey where’s the bathroom?” she asked loudly. The platypus sighed at her and pointed towards the right.

“Thanks!” Vicki said, tipping the opened mocha (with extra insect protein) at the platypus and sauntered into the women’s bathroom. It was empty. Good.

She opened the window which led out to an alleyway and leaned against the countertop, resting her elbows on it. She took a swig of the mocha.

God, she loved these bottled mochas. Before she was pregnant she often had like four a day. A lot of sugar, though, she thought reading the label. Holy shit. A lot. A lot a lot.

Sam the flying squirrel flew through the window a second later.

“I wonder why I wasn’t like really overweight before I was pregnant,” Vicki said, still staring at the nutritional facts on the mocha. “These are like, really caloric. I used to drink them all the time.”

“Hello to you too,” Sam said grumpily. “I really hate it when you come here while the clinic is open.”

“Did you get the pill for me?” Vicki said, setting down the mocha and smiling at Sam.

“Yes, you jerk,” Sam said, tossing her a pill bottle. “Five hundred.”

“Can I pay you in about a week?” Vicki said, sliding the pill into her cleavage and trying to sound casual.

Goddammit, Vicki,” Sam said, rubbing his eyes. “You are the worst…”

“Yep,” Vicki said, taking another sip of the mocha. “But c’mon. I’ve already got the pill. And you know I’m constantly here at the PCNS program. Also my infant child will be here any day so you know…”

“I know what?” Sam asked, looking confused.

“You could, I don’t know, threaten me if I don’t pay up. Say you’ll murder the kit…”

Sam burst out laughing.

“You’re so annoying,” he said, still chuckling. “All right, you idiot, I better get the money, though…”

“You will,” Vicki called out, smiling, as she watched Sam leap through the window again. Well. That was done.

Now she just had to head upstairs, see why Nick was suddenly so eager to see her, and meet up with Jessica to deliver the goods. Hmm, that was a lot for one day. Jessica hung around in the Canal District when not with a client, it took a while to get there from downtown. She also hadn’t made the rounds with the Blueberry drink in a while. Hmm. Well, maybe she could do that later tonight.

Taking another sip of the mocha, she wandered out of the bathroom.

Chapter Text

“Nicky?”

Judy looked around and tugged on the sleeve of Nick’s ridiculously-good-looking suit. Figures, she told herself, that he would exit the thrift shop wearing something so, so suave-looking and well-fitting in a impulse trip to a thrift shop.

“Someone is calling for you,” Judy muttered. Nick glanced at her, looking surprised and turned around.

Judy felt Nick stiffen slightly.

“Shira,” he said, sounding slightly stunned.

Judy turned around, frowning slightly. They were almost directly in front of the Free Hospital, and it looked like they were going to get sidetracked again. What is it with this day, she asked herself, shaking her head slightly. They seemed to just be bungling from one embarrassing situation to another.

A vixen was smiling and waving Nick over to her. A very small fox cub was sitting on the sidewalk next to her, looking like it had just been crying.

Nick walked over to the vixen, and hesitatingly, Judy followed.

Shira, whoever this Shira was, was wearing a knee-length purple skirt, a black turtleneck, and a green and purple striped headscarf. She must be hot, Judy thought to herself. It's the middle of summer.

“Hi,” Nick said, sounding still slightly out-of-place. Judy gave him a sidewise glance. He looked a bit like he had just been hit very hard on his head.

“Good shabbos,” The vixen said, grinning widely at him. “Who’s this?” She asked, nodding at Judy. “Girlfriend?”

“Oh, uh, no. Colleague. Judy. Judy Hopps,” Nick said, after a moment’s pause.

“Uh-huh,” Shira said, “Hello, Judy. How have you been, Nicky?”

Nicky. Who called Nick Nicky?

“Oh, fine,” Nick said, putting his hands awkwardly in his pants pockets and leaning back slightly. “I’m a police officer now—“

“I know, I heard,” Shira said, cocking her head to one side. “It’s good. You know rabbi says cops can work on shabbat.”

“Ah,” Nick said, sighing, wrinkles on his forehead appearing as he slightly frowned.

“Yep. I have my hopes you’ll come back to us one day, Nicky…” Shira said, sounding wistful. “We talked about you today, actually. You’ll never guess what happened.”

“What?” Nick asked, frowning slightly.

“The damn eruv is down,” Shira said, flicking away a piece of lint from her shoulder unconcernedly. “And we only found out too soon before shabbat to fix it. And Papa was like ‘It was never down when that Nicky checked it.’ And I said, ‘I’m not sure he actually checked it every week, I think he lied’ and Papa said,” — she paused to grin at Nick — “he said, ‘Well, we didn’t know it was down, anyway.’ Imma was quite mad at him. And we had an aufruf today.”

“So what did you do? Con some Christian to carry the candy?” Nick asked, now smiling slightly.

“No, Rabbi had some in his office, Baruch HaShem. It’s Michal’s daughter getting married.”

“Michal’s? Really?” Nick asked, sounding surprised. “How old is her kid? Isn’t she like, fifteen?”

“Twenty. Marrying a nice professor of engineering at the university.”

“Uh-huh,” Nick said, nodding. “So, what’s new with you? You have about thirty children now, right?”

Shira burst out laughing.

“Nine,” she said, laughing. She nodded to the cub next to her, “This is Reut. Reut is being very bad right now. She refuses to finish walking home.”

“Carry me!” the little cub cried suddenly.

“No,” Shira said, rolling her eyes. “Listen, kiddo, we talked about this before we left. I can’t carry you, the eruv is down. We went over this. You said you still wanted to come on the walk. I told you to make sure you could make it home. I’m not breaking shabbos just because you’re too lazy to walk another block.” Shira leaned forward to the two of them slightly. “I’ve been waiting here for ten minutes for this little jerk to get up and finish going home.”

“You’re so maternal,” Nick said, smiling at her.

“I know, all I do is yell at them,” Shira said, waving a hand carelessly. “Reut, this is Nicky. Remember I told you about Nicky?”

Reut stared at Nick for a while then slowly stood up.

“The one you almost married?” Reut asked, sidling up to her mother and hiding behind her skirt. Judy froze.

“Yes,” Shira said, nodding solemnly. “And every time your daddy doesn’t do the dishes I wish I had married him instead of your daddy. Maybe one day I will leave daddy for Nicky. Tell daddy that when we get home.”

“I wouldn’t do the dishes, either,” Nick interjected solemnly. 


“But he stopped being a Jew,” Reut continued.

“Hey,” Nick protested.

Shira laughed at seeing his face.

“I’m still Jewish!” Nick said. “I’m just a bad Jew.”

“That’s true, Reut, you don’t stop being Jewish, you stop being religious.” Shira said. “Do you know the community thinks I’m a feminist now for refusing to marry you?”

Nick stared at her for a moment and then burst out laughing.

“You’re kidding,” he said, “they call you a feminist for that?”

“Yeah, I know, I was kind of a pariah for a bit,” Shira continued. “It was hard to convince Reuven to marry me. I had to seduce him with my wiles and, you know, pretend to know how to cook.”

“Yes, it must have been really difficult for you breaking off our engagement a week before our wedding date,” Nick said dryly. Shira burst out laughing.

“It was, Nicky! You know that. I missed you. I still miss you sometimes when Reuven is being boring. Yes, he is boring sometimes, Reut, stop whining. You were the best conversationalist I’ve ever had. But come on, you’re happy we didn’t get married. Look at you. You’re thirty-two and still trying to find yourself. Imagine if you were married at twenty, with nine kids, you’d be a mess.”

“Since when do you not wear tights?” Nick asked suddenly frowning at Shira’s legs and sounding like he was trying to change the subject. "I can literally see the fur on your calves."

“Oh, you know, I decided to really embrace feminism,” Shira said, rolling her eyes. “I’m the education director of the shul these days, too.”

“Oh really?” Nick said, sounding surprised. “So you can yell and be sarcastic at all the children?”

“Yes, it’s really the greatest job for me, stop it Reut, Reut, stop that,” Shira said, pushing Reut away from her. “Stop trying to climb up my back, I am not carrying you!”

“Is it really breaking shabbat if she climbs on you? She’s a child…” Nick said.

"Yeah!” Reut cried from behind Shira.

“Oh, don’t encourage her, Nicky,” Shira said rolling her eyes. “Don’t listen to him, he’s an atheist,” she grumbled to Reut, patting her on the head.

“Can they come over for lunch?” Reut asked, looking at Nick and Judy.

“No, they’re cops. They are working.” Shira said shortly. “Undercover, probably. They are going to catch some criminals to make sure we’re all safe.”

“Yep,” Nick said.

“But do you have somewhere to go for Shavuos?”

“No,” Nick said. “I haven’t even heard the word “shavuot” for about six years, let alone celebrate it—“

“You could come to our house. I bought some expensive cheesecakes from that new bakery. Weird flavors, like saffron and ginger. Anyway, we’re doing more joint programming with the Conservative synagogue, there’s some nice women there. They’re not so religious. Some are coming, too. There’s one vixen, very sharp, very very funny, studies literature, twenty-five.”

“Oh my God,” Nick said, suddenly sounding irritable. “Are you really trying to match me up with someone? You?”

“Yeah, you’re not exactly getting any younger,” Shira said dryly. “And I know your mom left us when she married your father and never really came back when that jerk left her—“

Judy felt Nick stiffen next to her. He felt, he smelled, angry.

“And we don't want the same for you, too,” Shira continued. “She didn’t die happy, your mother.”

“Please don’t talk about my mother,” Nick said quietly.

Shira stopped, but looked exasperatedly at Nick.

"Fine,” she snapped. “Be alone for the rest of your life. Stop praying, don’t belong to a community, be cynical and sad and…and secular, but you won’t be happy until you get your life in order.”

She jerked Reut up and started dragging her away.

“That’s work too, you know, dragging,” Nick called after her. Shira dropped Reut’s arm immediately and whirled around. She stalked up to Nick and pointed right in his face.

“God cries, He cries every time He looks at you, Nicky,” she hissed, her face near his.

“I’m thrilled I have such an effect on God,” Nick said dryly.

Shira opened her mouth like she was going to say something, then turned on her foot and stalked away.

“Reut, come right now or I swear— “ she began, but the little cub, looking anxiously back at Judy and Nick, started walking hurriedly next to her mother.

---

A moment of silence stretched out between the two of them in Shira’s wake.

“So that’s Shira, an ex of mine. She’s meaner than she seems,” Nick said brightly, sounding like he was trying desperately to lighten the mood.

“You were engaged to her? And you’re Jewish?” Judy asked blankly. “I thought you were Roosian Orthodox.”

Nick stared at her.

“Why did you think that?”

“Well, when I was getting your tax records, you know, before we really knew each other, I found your birth certificate and your mother’s wedding certificate,” Judy confessed. She had never told Nick that. "She got married at a Roosian Orthodox Church..."

“Oh,” Nick said, looking embarrassed for a minute. “She, um, she converted out.”

“But you didn’t?” Judy asked, frowning. “And why couldn’t she carry her kid?”

“I…well, I sort of got involved with an Orthodox synagogue when I was about eighteen,” Nick said, after a moment. “They sort of, helped me. I had a lot of questions about how to, well… And eventually I met Shira, and…”

“And you were engaged,” Judy said flatly. “You never told me that.”

“Yeah,” Nick said. “Well, looking back on it, it doesn’t even seem like a very, well, serious relationship.”

“You were engaged!”

“Yeah, well, it happens pretty fast with them. We pretty much just hung around in hotel lobbies for a couple weeks, and then I asked her—“

“Hotel lobbies?”

“Yeah, because they are sort of private but still public at the same time, you can’t be in a non-public space with someone of a different sex —“

What?”

“It’s a religious community, Carrots. There are rules.”

You followed them?”

Nick gave her a look.

“Somewhat,” he admitted. “I did lie about checking the eruv, Shira was right about that. I always just assumed it was up.”

“Wait, what’s an eruv?”

“It lets you carry things outside on Shabbat, you know, Saturday,” Nick said, rubbing his eyes. “Look, I’m not exactly thrilled we ran into Shira, and I’m not really interested in giving you a primer in forbidden activities on Shabbat."

“Jeez, sorry,” Judy said, blushing and turning away. “Let’s just go…go talk to your sister.”

They walked in silence for a while, eventually entering the Free Hospital.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you,” Nick said after a moment. “I’ll answer any questions you have just not…not right now."

“OK,” Judy said at last. “It’s just surprising. You don’t seem very religious."

“I’m not. Not anymore.”

Judy looked over at Nick, who looked…stern. They entered the elevator to go up the wing where the PCNS program was housed.

“Hasn’t today been weird? And yesterday?” Judy asked, somewhat tentatively.

Nick looked sideways at her.

“It has been,” he admitted softly.

“We keep, like, running into people we know,” Judy said, leaning back against the elevator. “Your sister, I saw her friends in the club, she’s involved in our case, you run into Shira…”

“It’s like we’re in a movie or something,” Nick said.

“Or a badly written book,” Judy said, smiling a bit.

“If it was a movie, we would run into one of your exes now,” Nick said, smirking at her slightly. “And I could make fun of you for it.”

The elevator doors slid open, and Nick and Judy walked out into the brightly lit hallway. A squirrel wearing glasses and holding a clipboard was waiting outside a door marked PCNS Program: Care For Every Mammal.

“Hi, are you here to talk about Vicki Vulpecula?” The squirrel asked. “I’m her therapist and case manager, Squires Squirrelson. You must be Nick,” the squirrel said, smiling and holding out a paw which Nick took.

”Squires?” Judy squeaked.

Nick looked around at Judy, saw her face, and immediately burst out laughing.

“Oh, Carrots, is this an ex of yours?” Nick asked, still laughing.

Judy?” Squires asked, looking stunned. He looked down at his paw, which Nick was still holding. Squires dropped his hand.

“He’s not my ex-boyfriend,” Judy snapped, “stop laughing, Nick!”

“Boyfriend? Why would he think we were dating?” Squires asked, looking confused and concerned.

“Because he is an idiot,” Judy snapped irritably. “Nick, Squires is my…my brother-in-law.”

“Oh,” Nick said, wiping away tears from his eyes. “Still pretty funny, though. Your face!”

Chapter Text

“Well, um,” Squires said, leading them into a small office and nodding to them to sit down across from a small and almost oppressively neat desk, “this is weird.”

“You live in Zootopia? With Beverly?” Judy asked quietly. Nick looked at her, surprised. She looked…hurt. Ah. This wasn’t a run-of-the-mill hilarious accidental meet-up with a family member. This was…important to Judy. Not that seeing Shira hadn’t been important to him - he squirmed in his seat slightly, wondering how much Judy would be able to guess from their conversation earlier. He really, really, really didn’t like the idea of Judy figuring out that he was a, well, a virgin. That would be...humiliating.

“Yep,” Squires said after a moment. “We’ve been here about six months.”

“Oh,” Judy said. Another pause. “And you never thought to look me up?”

Squires sighed deeply and tapped a pen on his desk, looking at it hard.

“Judy, I really think you should talk to Beverly about that yourself. You know…you know that we don’t get along terribly well with your family…”

Nick looked carefully at Judy. She seemed to sink slightly in her seat, looking dejected.

“Well, who does get along with their family, right?” Nick said brightly, trying to lighten the mood. He slapped Judy on the back genially and continued, “I had a cousin once who literally threw a tomato at my uncle at his wedding. Really.”

“Um,” Squires said, adjusting his glasses slightly. “Well, I hope you and Vicki are able to get along…”

“Oh,” Nick said after a moment. “Heh…Yep. I think we will. Vicki’s a great…great girl.” Boy, he thought to himself, this guy was serious. Might have to adjust his approach.

“She is, for the most part, taking her participation in the PCNS program very seriously,” Squires said, taking an extremely large white binder out of a drawer under his desk. He opened it, and nervously cleared his throat.

“She’s responding well to therapy, and most of the burns on her torso are improving well…” Squires said clearing his throat, slightly. Nick glanced at Judy, who looked stunned. She looked like she was about to ask a question, and he shook his head slightly.

“That’s good,” Nick said simply, nodding slightly.

“Yeah, and she’s improving in her ability to sleep in the hospital beds here which is great, because she probably will have to spend a few days here when the cub is born.”

Squires looked up at them suddenly.

“Do you have any questions about the… viability of the fetus?”

“It might die?” Judy asked, sounding horrified.

Squires tilted his head towards slightly, frowning.

“We don’t think so. It’s difficult with new mixed-species. Sometimes we get surprised.”

“Surprised?” Nick asked, hollowly.

Squires nodded again, pulling out several sheets of paper.

“Here,” he said handing some to each of them. “Here are most of our concerns about Vicki’s case. The difference in hip size between Vicki and the coyote might make walking difficult, and of course a lot of mixed species are infertile. Hormonal issues are common as well.”

Nick and Judy stared at him for a moment.

“This is all very run-of-the-mill stuff, of course,” Squires said after looking at the expression on their faces. “Nothing to worry about too much.”

Squires then awkwardly handed the binder to Nick.

“You can have this, by the way,” he continued. “This is your copy. It’s really the “Father” copy, so it says things like ‘Congratulations on Your New Baby!’, but we obviously couldn’t give it to…you know…We're not sure who he is, exactly. If he ever turns up we can give him another copy...”

“Uh-huh,” Nick said nodding, thinking fast. How could he get the most information out of this guy without making it painfully obvious he knew very little about Vicki’s…situation?

“Actually, I wanted to talk to you about Vicki's ex, Nick,” Squires said quietly.

“Yeah?”

“And…well, you two, Judy, I suppose. Off-the-record. As…police officers.”

Nick gave Judy a sideways look, and noticed that Judy was sitting up straighter.

“You know I’m a police officer?” Nick asked, surprised.

“Oh, yes, Vicki told me. I actually have some information to give you about governmental benefits associated with the PCNS program - you know, rent assistance and that sort of the thing for governmental employees who have a relative in the program…but this is…well. I’m a little worried that this Peter will try to contact Vicki again…”

Nick nodded.

“And that would be…a bad thing,” he said, carefully trying to judge Squires’s reaction.

“Well, of course. I have no doubt in my mind that he would try to kill her again if he comes back,” Squires said, taking off her glasses and rubbing his eyes heavily. “Vicki seems to think he’s in Micexco…but she’s been…reticent, to say the least, about reporting the incident to the police. I think…well, I think that’s part of the reason she wants to become much closer to you, Nick.”

Nick nodded slowly. He tried to kill her, he thought numbly. Jesus. He suddenly felt...well, protective of Vicki, more protective than he had felt about her, or even any other female -- even Judy -- in a long time. His hand gripped the side of the seat tightly.

“I think she feels safer being near a cop…” Squires sighed again. “I’m not really supposed to share things that Vicki doesn’t want me to share, but… well. She managed to run out of her bedroom when the bed was still on fire. She put the flames out, got herself to the hospital here. I don’t even know what happened to the case. Are the police called in for arson? Would they have thought it was accidental? I don’t know. But it happened on April 3rd in the Canal District…I don’t know the exact address, but I think you could figure it out…”

Nick felt slightly sick.

He swallowed hard and then nodded slowly.

“OK,” he said. “We’ll…we’ll check it out.”

Squires smiled ate the two of them.

“Thanks,” he said gratefully. “And…Judy, maybe we can…you know, have you over for dinner sometime. Maybe Nick can come, too. Meet Gabby.”

“Gabby? Who is Gabby?” Judy asked, still looking bothered by the revelation that Vicki's ex had tried to murder her.

Squires froze and bit his lower lip.

“Um,” he said after a moment. “You don’t…know about Gabby, huh?”

Judy blinked.

Squires hesitated for a moment, and then picked up a small framed picture on his desk and handed it to Judy. Nick glanced over at it.

A female rabbit who looked…well, like Judy, only plumper and slightly older was laughing and holding a little…was that a river otter? The otter looked very young, a toddler maybe. She was holding a soccer ball.

“You have a child?” Judy asked dumbly. Oh. Judy looked so sad. Nick clenched the armrest of the seat even tighter. First Vicki was threatened, and now... this. He just wanted to...well, he wanted to hold Judy, to tell her everything was going to be all right and... buy things for Vicki's baby. A crib. He had an odd, overwhelming desire to go out and buy a crib. Ugh, what a day.

Squires nodded after a moment.

“We adopted her last year,” he said after a moment. “She was three when we adopted her, she’s about four and half now…”

“Oh,” Judy said, looking up at him.

Nick had seen Judy looking depressed before, he had seen Judy look sad before, he had even seen Judy sob before (hell, he had even held her while she was sobbing!) but he could swear he had never seen her looking as depressed as she did right now. Her ears were drooping so low they looked like they might slide off the back of her head.

“We…well.” Squires said, looking uncomfortable.

“What?” Judy asked sharply.

“Nothing,” Squires said after a moment, sounding evasive.

“No, what?” Judy cried, looking like she was about to cry. “Did you tell my mother and father? Is that what you were going to say? And that they just didn’t tell us because they can’t handle the fact that you are an interspecies couple?”

Squires pursed his lips and looked carefully at Judy, his eyes flicking at one point to Nick. He seemed to be thinking very, very hard.

“I…think you ought to have that conversation with Beverly,” he said at last.

Judy looked…numb.

“I’m sorry,” Squires said, standing up. “Um,” he said opening another drawer and pulling out another stack of papers, “I know this isn’t really the best time, but…well, here are those tax breaks and things like that, Nick. There’s some good ones in there, you’d very likely be able to move into a new apartment…”

“Thanks,” Nick said, taking them. “Well,” he said, standing up and looking at Judy. “Can we see Vicki now? We want to talk to her about…something. Carrots…you ready?”

Judy nodded silently and stood up.

“I’ll call Beverly,” she said, after taking a deep breath. “And I think it would be good if we have dinner sometime soon.”

“OK,” Squires said, smiling a little. “Sounds great, Judy. I’ll page someone to escort you to Vicki’s room.

Squires stared at his paws for a few minutes after Nick and Judy had left. He gave himself a little shake. Boy, that had been….unsettling. And Vicki had said that those two…well, loved each other. He wondered if it was true. He leaned back slightly in his chair.

He knew it was wrong. He knew it was. But a part of him, a very large part of him, wanted his in-laws to be as shitty to Judy if and when she started dating Nick as they had been to Beverly when he had started dating her. He didn’t think they would, though. Judy was…different. She brought out something in people. It already bothered Beverly, he knew. That her younger sister was suddenly considered to be the Progressive Friend of the Predators for her work in the ZPD, for getting out of Bunnyburrow… and there was Beverly, who had entered into an interspecies relationship long before people even said the phrase “interspecies” out loud at most polite gatherings. And no one ever talked about how progressive and smart she was...no, they just silently ignored her, and cut her out of family gatherings... He sighed deeply. He knew it would be good for Nick and Judy if Bonnie and Stu came around. He just wasn’t sure if it would be good for Beverly.

Chapter Text

Judy felt numb. Hollow, even.

Had Beverly and Squires told her mother and father about adopting a child? That seemed to be what Squires was implying…but she couldn’t believe that they would be that terrible. She remembered when they found out about Beverly and Squires. No one had yelled, which almost made it more terrible. Her father had cried, of course. It didn’t take much for him to cry. Her mother though…her mother had stood there strong, resolute. As always. And she had talked quietly and quickly, and Judy hadn’t heard all of it (and what she had heard she hadn’t understood, she was extremely young at the time). But she thought some of the words were things like “respectability” and “procreation” and thinking about them made her stomach feel as though it was full of lead.

Their escort, a bubbly and talkative deer (“Vicki’s great! Really great! So funny!”) left them at the door leading into Vicki’s room.

Judy stared at the door, waiting for Nick to knock or open it.

He didn’t.

Judy looked up at him. His hands were in his pockets and he was looking down at her, looking…worried.

Judy felt her heart skip a beat — he was looking so intently at her, and his eyes were doing that…that thing again — and cleared her throat and looked away quickly.

“What?” she asked, realizing as soon as the word was out of her throat that her quavering voice was barely more than a whisper.

“Do you want to talk about it, Carrots?” Nick asked, quietly.

Judy hesitated for a minute, and then threw her arms around Nick. She wanted to feel him close to her, she wanted to be comforted…

“Oh Judy,” Nick sighed, holding her tightly for a minute before loosening the hug and patting her on the back. “It’s okay…”

“No it’s not,” Judy whimpered, starting to cry slightly.

“Oh…Judy…it’s okay…everyone’s family has problems,” Nick murmured, now stroking the back of her head. God, that felt nice. “I mean, look at mine. I think we can all agree I have one of the most problematic family histories in all of Zootopia. And look at me? I’m pretty awesome, right?”

Judy choked out a laugh through her tears.

“You are pretty awesome, Nick,” she sighed. She looked up at him

“What if I ever want to date someone out of my species?” she sobbed, leaning her head against his chest again. “What will they do?”

She felt Nick freeze. It’s strange, a small part of her brain whispered to her, that you can feel someone freeze. You can actually feel them stop breathing.

The rest of her brain went, whoopsie. Oh God, he was probably afraid she was hitting on him. And he didn’t know what to do. Ugh.

Nick rested his hands on her upper arms for a moment before sighing slightly and stepping back away from her.

“Um,” Nick said finally. “I don’t know, Hopps.” Hopps again. The time of him calling her Judy had passed, Judy thought glumly to herself. “But I know you’ll be able to handle it.”

Judy looked up and him, surprised.

“You’re pretty tough, Hopps,” Nick said, shoving his hands into his pockets again and smiling at her softly.

Judy took a shaking breath and wiped her tears away. She exhaled slowly, willing herself to stop crying.

“Thanks, Nick,” she said, thankful that her voice was starting to sound and feel more normal.

“Well, if I start crying after this little family reunion you’ll have to comfort me,” Nick said, laughing slightly and knocking on the door. “Can you do that for me, Hopps?”

“Oh, absolutely,” Judy responded, grinning. “Anytime. My shoulder is always here for you to bawl on.”

“Hmmm…you’re shorter than me, though…” Nick grinned at her.

“I’ll get you a little chair to sit on,” Judy laughed as they heard Vicki call “come in” to them.

—-

Nick looked at Vicki a little bit more apprehensively this time. Someone had tried to kill her. He sighed.

“What’s up?” Vicki asked from the bed. She was peering at them over a thick wad of papers.

“What’cha reading there?” Nick asked after a moment, settling into a chair. Judy shot him a questioning look while flopping into a chair next to his. Nick had a hunch that immediately bombarding Vicki with a bunch of questions about the trackers found on Lacy and Chastity would not bode particularly well.

“It’s the Mammal Sexual Habits Survey Data,” Vicki said, sighing slightly and flipping a page over. “The publishers give us all a copy. Ostensibly so we can make the sexy goings-on of our characters more ‘realistic’ but in reality it's because there’s a section which talks about common sexual fantasies and they really want us to match it.”

“Oh,” Nick said after a moment. “How do they get the data?”

“Oh, who knows,” Vicki said, rolling her eyes. “I have no idea if it’s accurate or not. Some governmental agency publishes. It comes out once a year. We've got such a sex-obsessed government... Hey Judy," she said suddenly, pausing to waggle her eyebrows at Judy, "I’m reading the ‘rabbit’ section now.”

“Oh, really?” Judy asked, blushing and laughing slightly. “What does it say?”

“Hmmm…” Vicki said, perusing the document for a moment. “Nothing all that interesting, well. Hmm. Low average age of loss of virginity, fourteen.”

“That’s low?” Judy said after a moment, frowning slightly. Vicki laughed.

“Yes!” she said. “Some people wait until they're married, you know,” she teased. “Or do bunnies not do that?”

Judy blushed slightly.

“Well, of course but…”

“Well even if those people aren’t in the majority, they’d be statistical outliers, meaning they’d push the average up,” Vicki continued. “An average of fourteen means there must be at least a fair amount of people getting it on at thirteen, twelve even, to balance out all the virginal 18-year-old brides or whatever.”

She glanced up at Judy, who was blushing slightly, and suddenly stopped talking.

“Sorry if that made you uncomfortable,” she said, setting the papers down on her knees.

“I was sixteen,” Judy said after a moment, smiling a bit. “I was as old as the hills, I guess, hmm?”

Nick felt as if the floor had vanished underneath him. Sixteen. Sixteen?! He hadn’t thought she was a virgin, not really, but…. sixteen? He had thought maybe in the short time between high school and the police academy she had some stumbling encounter with another rabbit…He felt suddenly embarrassed about that assumption. His rumination on Judy’s sexual prowess usually ended with a daydream where he took her and slept with her and she whispered things into his ear about how much better he was than the other rabbits she had been with, and how he was a real man… Hell, this was embarrassing.

Vicki chuckled slightly and flipped a page of the document.

“Want to guess the average age for foxes?” Vicki asked, grinning.

“Thirteen?” Judy asked after a moment. “If bunnies are fourteen?”

Nick stared at her.

Vicki burst out laughing.

“What?” she cried. “No, silly. Foxes are late bloomers. You didn’t know that?”

“Didn’t know what? What's a late bloomer?” Judy asked, frowning.

“It’s a big myth that foxes have sex young,” Vicki said, rolling her eyes. “Because so many prostitutes are foxes. No, foxes usually start dating later and sleeping together much later than most other mammals. Fewer sexual partners, too. Except for elephants, those mammals are intense about monogamy.”

“So…what is it?” Judy asked, cocking her head to one side. “What would you guess, Nick?”

Nick gulped. Keep your cool, he told himself sternly. He blinked.

“Oh,” he said airily. “I don’t know. Seventeen?”

“Close,” Vicki said, nodding at him. “Seventeen if you include trafficked girls. Adjusted to exclude them it’s nineteen.”

“Nineteen!” Judy cried. “Wow. Pretty old huh? You’d be in college. Away from home. Away from your parents…”

Nick stared at her. He looked up at Vicki, who was also looking at Judy with a horrified face.

“What?” Vicki said, sounding a cross between astonished and frustrated. “What. Are you saying…”

“No,” Nick said in a hushed voice. “That’s a myth. It has to be. It has to be.”

“What?” Judy asked, looking at the two of them, confused. “What’s a myth?”

“You bunnies don’t…you don't talk to your parents about your sex life, do you?” Vicki asked in a hushed voice.

Nick suddenly began to smirk slightly at Judy’s perplexed face.

“Well…I mean…” Judy said, her voice trailing off slightly, “I wouldn’t talk to my dad about it, really, but if I had questions, I would talk to my mom about stuff, yeah—“

“Ewwwwwwwwwwww,” Vicki said, wrinkling her nose in disgust. “God, is it true your parents will ring you up after your wedding night to ask how it was?”

Judy stared at the both of them and shrugged.

“It’s just a tradition,” she cried, “people usually don’t give, you know specifics, they just sort of say it was fine…sometimes make some jokes...”

“Ewwwwwwwwwww….” Vicki said again, laughing slightly.

“It’s a holdover from when bunnies got married really young!” Judy said, now sounding irritable. “Kids, almost. And they had questions. What were they supposed to do? Just blunder along forever? Half the time they couldn't even, you know, finish on their wedding night!”

“I don’t know. There seems to be a better way to combat that problem," Vicki said rolling her eyes, "don’t they have older friends they could ask? And these days, what do you think porn is for?”

“Porn! You don’t want…well, teens learning about sex from porn!” Judy said, sounding scandalized. “I don’t…well, I only very rarely look at porn. It’s not very realistic.”

Nick blinked and tried not to think of Judy watching porn. Hmm. Times tables, that would be good. Three times one is three, three times two is six, three times three is I wonder if Judy has ever watched porn with three mammals in it… Hm.

“And,” Judy continued hotly, “you don’t want teens learning about sex from porn! It's so unrealistic!"

“Bunnies, huh?” Vicki said, rolling her eyes at Nick. “They do things so backwards. Sex early in life, talk to their parents — their parents about it, don’t watch a lot of porn…”

“Foxes watch a lot of porn, then?”

“About average, which is a lot, yes,” Vicki said, shrugging.

“That little report covers that too, does it?” Judy asked, now blushing.

“Ugh, it covers so much,” Vicki said, rolling her eyes. “Do you want it? I can get another copy if I tell them I lost this one. Parts of it are pretty interesting…”

“I…” Judy said, trailing off after a moment.

“You want it!” Vicki cried suddenly, leaning forward and grinning. “You do! I can tell. You’re just shy. Oh come on, almost everyone thinks about sex. You’re not special or interesting in that regard.”

“Hey!” Judy said, laughing. “I’m very special. Fine. Give it here,” she said, extending her hand to Vicki, who smiled at her and handed her the large file.

You are special, thought Nick immediately. And I bet your sex life and porn-watching lives are special too. He blushed slightly and glanced down at his hands. Don’t let them see you’re bothered…

“Hah-hah, Nick’s blushing,” Vicki cried, pointing at him and lazily leaning back, tucking her hands behind her head.

“Oh God, I can’t imagine why,” Judy grumbled, rolling her eyes, “I’m sure he’s slept with plenty—“ Nick blushed harder.

“Well, why did you want to talk to me, anyway?” Vicki said, abruptly changing the subject. Nick blinked. He wondered if she had changed the subject on purpose. He gave her an appraising glance but she just stared at him, impassively.

Judy set down the thick report on mammal sexuality, leaned forward, and told Vicki all about their case.

“Well,” Vicki said after a long moment, “I don’t think it is actually Rokhel Fozstein…”

“And why is that?” Nick asked, leaning forward slightly.

Vicki turned to him, frowning slightly.

“Because it’s Rokhel,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You know. Rokhel.”

Nick stared at her for a moment and then shrugged.

“I don’t know her,” he said after a long moment.

Vicki wrinkled her nose at him.

“Really?” she asked in disbelief. “Really. You don’t know who that is?”

“Really,” Nick nodded after a moment.

Vicki stared at him for a long moment, biting her lower lip.

“Who is she?” Nick demanded.

“She…well, she delivered us,” Vicki said lamely after a moment.

“What?”

“She delivered us. She’s an OB/GYN. Check your birth certificate if you don’t believe me. She knew…Mar— Mom. She knew Mom. They were friends. They both left the Jewish community around the same time.”

Nick stared at her for a long moment. He glanced at Judy, who was frowning at Vicki.

“How do you know this?” Nick demanded.

“Well, first of all, it’s literally on our birth certificates. It’s not hard to find out. But she…she was one of the people who came and talked to me when I turned eighteen,” Vicki said, shrugging. “She told me about you. I thought she was like a family friend. Maybe you called her Rachel? Rokhel’s the Yiddish name, obviously.”

Nick blinked at her, his heart pounding.

“Aunt Rachel?” he said at last. “She came over to dinner sometimes, but her and Mom got into a big fight when I was about…eight…”

“Yeah,” Vicki hesitated and then, continued, “She’s hard to get along with. I had a fight with her too, recently. Which is why I didn’t ask to stay with her. I think she probably would have let me crash with her….” Vicki cleared her throat and paused a moment, “I really don’t think she’d…track people. Prostitutes. She was always really understanding about the situations people get into. You know. She left a pretty insular community, just like…Mom did…she knew people were sometimes down on their luck...”

Nick nodded after a moment.

“But, anyway, I heard that the going theory around the sex worker community is that some activists plant themselves in these clinics as, like receptionists, or something.”

“Who told you that?” Judy asked, sounding urgent.

Nick let his mind wander as Judy and Vicki talked, Judy taking assiduous notes. Aunt Rachel. He did remember her, vaguely. She would show up to dinner sometimes, and Mom had always seemed to like to see her even though she never talked much. Well, he reminded himself, not in English. It was Yiddish between the two of them, talking quickly and throwing around English terms every now and then, “Nicky,” and “hospital” seemed to be the most common words that Nick could remember.

“Are you talking about me, Mom?” Nick would ask, tugging on his mother’s arm as she was deep in conversation with Aunt Rachel.

“Not now, Nicky,” his mother would say, waving a hand at him and telling him to eat his dinner quietly.

“Too loud,” Aunt Rachel would admonish him. “You should be quiet, your mother has had a long day.”

And then it was back to Yiddish.

He hadn’t enjoyed those dinners, so he had been secretly happy when he had discovered his mother crying one day, telling him that she had fought with Aunt Rachel and that they wouldn’t be seeing each other anymore. He remember he had thought, good. You’ll have more time to talk to me, then. He had always been so protective of his mother’s time. He had always wanted more from her, more attention, more time, more conversations, more hugs…. He hung his head slightly. That was why his mother had left when he was twelve, he was sure of it. If he had been even a little less demanding of her time, maybe she wouldn’t have left…maybe she would have even kept Vicki… Nick's stomach clenched tightly as he pondered that possibility: the three of them, growing up together...he would have a little sister to be there for, to protect, to talk to...

“Nick?” Judy’s voice jostled him out of his morose thoughts. “Let’s go. I have a plan,” she said, standing up. She turned towards Vicki. “Thank you,” she said, suddenly rushing over and hugging Vicki around the neck. Vicki looked horrified. “You’ve been a real help in this investigation.”

Chapter Text

Gina was leafing through some magazines on her desk, trying to look calm and collected. Bogo was having a bad day. Although she rarely completed tasks related to her so-called "job description," she did pay careful attention to Bogo's mood and surreptitiously modified her behavior to try to get him at his happiest and most effective. And he was in a terrible mood today.

She was pondering if she should show Bogo this fluff piece about Gazelle's upcoming tour of Micexco -- it would either cheer him up or annoy him -- when Judy skidded into the room.

"I need to talk to Bogo," Judy gasped at Gina, her paws reaching up and grasping the edge of Gina's desk. "Is he in?"

"What are you wearing?" Gina asked, looking Judy up and down. "A dirty old tee-shirt and a pencil skirt? Why aren't you wearing your uniform?"

As Judy opened her mouth angrily to answer, Nick strolled through the the entryway, looking slightly anxious and wearing a...wow. A vintage, kick-ass suit, it looked like.

"Wow, Nick..." Gina marveled, "nice suit. Very handsome....I'm practically drooling over here..."

"Not now, Gina!" Judy cried, hopping up anxiously in order to give Gina a stern look right at eye-level. "Bogo! Now! I have to talk to him!"

"Uh-huh. Why is that?" Gina asked dryly.

"We're going to a sting operation!" Judy said, still bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet slightly.

"What?" Nick said, sounding skeptical. "That's your idea?"

"Yes! Of course! What else are we going to do?"

"Judy, are you aware that your life is not a police procedural?" Gina asked, flipping a page in Zosmopolitan. “I mean, you’re a police officer, but you can’t just go around wanting to do a sting every five minutes. This is that gambling case all over again—“

“It is not, shut up,” Judy said, starting to blush slightly. Her idea for the sting operation in that gambling case was still chuckled about in briefings...

“Do you want to take a quiz that says what mammal you act most like in the bedroom?” Gina continued, seemingly unaffected by Judy’s embarrassment.

"Gina!" Judy cried angrily.

"OK, OK, he's in his office but he's not in the best--" Gina started, as Judy bolted out of site and down the hall towards Bogo's office.

"Mood," Gina finished and looked up at Nick, who stared after Judy for a few minutes, frowning.

"Do you think I should follow her?" Nick asked at last, as Gina flipped another page in the magazine.

"I'm most like a...a...tiger," Gina said thoughtfully after tallying up her answers. "Tigers are pretty sexy animals, really...but there are only three possible answers to this quiz: tiger, otter, and pig. Heh. You'd feel pretty bad if you got pig, right?"

She looked up at Nick, who was still frowning at her.

"I don't know!" Gina said after a moment. "She's your partner, isn't she? You've been running around with her all day! Probably you should follow her, I guess."

"Are you in charge of the case files when Clawhauser isn't here?" Nick asked abruptly.

"Well," Gina said, hesitating a moment. "I can technically sign out case files, but I'm not really supposed to...."

"What?" Nick asked, frowning.

"Technically only police officers are supposed to handle those case files...but Clawhauser is the only one who knows how to use the new record-keeping software. And me, of course."

"How do you know how to use it?"

"Because I'm not an idiot," Gina said, sighing and closing her magazine. "Unlike the majority of cops here who don't seem to be able to use even simple computer programs like Excel. Anyway, I have to give Bogo an official memo whenever I give someone a case file...what's the case?"

"Well...I'm not even sure it will have a case file, to be honest. I'm looking for a case of possible arson…”

“Uh-huh,” Gina said, glancing up at him and starting to get slightly interested. “Arson is a bit complicated. The fire investigators decide whether or not it was arson, and we only start investigating it if it was declared as such. Either way, we get a summary of the event…”

Gina turned to her computer and started tapping away.

“What’s the date and location?”

“Um,” Nick said, “All I know is that it was on April 3rd, somewhere in the Canal District…”

“OK,” Gina said, locating the file. “I’ll print it out for you. Yep, arson. And it was assigned to precinct 5, North Canal District. They think it was the resident of the apartment, it looks like he’s left the country…”

“Thanks,” Nick said, after Gina handed him the sheet of paper with the case summary on it. He looked dully at the sheet of paper in his hands.

“You okay, Nicky?” Gina asked, putting her chin in her hands. “You look spooked. Is this about the ballerina case?”

“Get in here, Wilde!” Bogo’s voice suddenly boomed down the hallway.

“Oh, I better go…” Nick muttered, turning and trotting down the hallway.

Judy was excited. She had always wanted to do a string operation, but it hadn’t happened yet. And this time…this time it looked like it would work out. She was trying desperately to look cool, however, although she was vaguely aware that in her excitement she was bouncing up and down slightly in the oversized chair she was sitting on.

Some small part of her consciousness was aware that she was using this entire sting idea to distract her from everything else that had gone on over the last twenty-four hours. Learning about Vicki’s accident. Learning that there was someone out there who probably wanted her dead. Seeing Squires after so long, and realizing that her parents were still….no. That was too hard to think about, even in the small unconscious nooks of her brain. Nick having an “Aunt” Rachel whom he apparently completely forgot about. That was still emotional, but acceptable to think about. Poor Nick. He had such a hard childhood. Poor Vicki. Poor...poor Beverly...

For one second, Judy felt completely overwhelmed by her emotions. It was like a tidal wave of exhaustion careening against her body, draining her of all energy.

At that moment, Nick walked in.

“What’s this about a sting?” Nick asked, grinning and leaping onto the side of the chair next to Hopps and looking expectantly at her. “You know, I am your partner. You could have told me on the ride over here what your big plan was…”

“I was busy formulating it!” Judy cried, the excitement at her plan starting to melt away the exhaustion in her body.

“What is the plan, Hopps?” Bogo said, sounding tired. “You’ve told me this…” he glanced down at his notepad, “Dr. Rokhel Fozstein’s office is the primary target…”

“We get me, and some of the other female cops in this precinct to dress up like, you know,” Judy hesitated for a minute, searching for the right word, “prostitutes and go and say we need abortions. But first we bug the place with cameras in order to record everything.”

Bogo sighed heavily, placing his head in his hands.

“Hopps…” he said after a moment. “I’m not sure we can convincingly pass off you and our other female officers as prostitutes…”

“Why not?” Judy cried, sounding outraged. “Isn’t a lot of it just clothing?”

“Why don’t you use confidential informants?” Bogo continued, still studying his notepad carefully.

“That will take so much longer,” Judy pleaded. “Didn’t you want this to get solved quickly, because of Chastity Smixen?"

“Discretion is more important than speed,” Bogo said coolly. He leaned back in his chair and sighed deeply. “And you’re pretty sure that the bugging is happening in this office?”

“That’s what our… well, our informant told us,” Judy continued, suddenly feeling evasive. She didn't know if she should tell Bogo that Nick's sister was tied up in this...

“So you do have informants…”

“Well…” Judy said, hesitating and looking at Nick out of the corner of her eye.

“It’s my sister,” Nick said dully after a moment. “And some people that she knows.”

Bogo sighed deeply again.

“The paperwork on confidential informants who are related to police officers is—“

“I know, it’s a real pain,” Nick interjected, nudging Judy a little bit. “So maybe the best plan is to get Judy in a tiny leather miniskirt and have her saying her period is late…”

Bogo drummed his fingers on the tabletop.

“Bugging the office is a ridiculous idea,” he said at last. “There’s no way any judge would sign a warrant based on these allegations. There is no evidence at all. Just conjecture.”

“I was thinking we could arrange for someone to have an appointment or meeting wth Dr. Fozstein and just, you know, accidentally leave one of those recording pens on the coffee table…” Judy started, feeling the excitement in her voice, “in that one case the recorder which was accidentally left on was considered admissible evidence—-“

“But not if you have someone deliberately plant it,” Bogo said, exasperatedly. “That situation only worked because the suspect left the recorder on himself and it was quite the hail Mary to allow them to use it as evidence, believe me…”

“Well, what if we knocked over someone’s purse that had a recording pen in on and, you know, it just happened to roll out?”

“No, Hopps,” Bogo said flatly. “Although I admire the enthusiasm.”

“What if we did a sting where we didn’t even need a bug?” Nick said, after a moment’s pause. “The bug is just to confirm what we will already know if someone comes out of an appointment bugged, right?”

“Yes, but they don’t know who is doing it.” Judy said. “Some of our…informants even though it was just a desk worker or something…”

“But they must make physical contact somehow with the victims somehow, right?” Nick continued, frowning.

“That’s true…” Judy admitted. “I got the impression that they might do it in a handshake, or like…”

“Accidentally bumping into someone, yeah,” Nick said, nodding. “Something like that.”

“OK,” Bogo said, thinking aloud. “You need at least two people in the office at all times. One person as the intended target, the other as a witness. The witness will just watch and hopefully see enough of the planting to make it work in court. At the very least,

“So…are we doing this, or are we using C.I.s?”

Bogo sighed again.

“I doubt these people bug every tarty-looking woman who comes into the clinic,” he said eventually, “it will probably take a few tries. This is going to be a lot of watching and waiting,” he said smiling at Judy. “That is what a lot of your so-called ‘sting’ operations really are, Hopps. Watching, waiting, multiple tries, paperwork. It’s not all fun and games and pretending to be hookers.”

“I, personally, would just like it be known on the record that I would love to see Judy dressed as a hooker—“ Nick started, and Judy rolled her eyes, hoping that she wasn’t blushing. That would be the last thing she needed. Making everyone feel uncomfortable by getting too...pleased, or something, over one of Nick’s stupid jokes.

“No one doubts that, Wilde,” Bogo muttered darkly. “OK,” he continued, looking at Judy. “You’ve said you don’t want to work with Vice on this, for some reason…”

“We think they might be--” Judy started, but Bogo immediately cut her off.

“Don’t tell me. I think I have the general idea where this is going. As soon as you tell me I need to report to Internal Affairs, and lets hold off on that for as long as possible. Ask Gina to get to the list of the C.I.s Vice uses — some of them are probably working girls. We might have a couple on record, too…and feel free to continue using the informants you already have, as long as you are not related to them…”

“So I won’t get to see Judy dressed up as a hooker?” Nick said, feigning sadness. Judy tried not to blush again. She sort of thought....well, a part of her thought that Nick probably would really like to see her in a, well, slutty outfit. Those thoughts made her heart race and made her feel...powerful. But another, achingly large part of her thought that if Nick did want her like that, he wouldn't joke about it. That made her feel...deflated. She shook herself internally. This wasn't the time to think about Nick like...like that. Sting! Sting operation! It was happening!

“This is going to take time,” Bogo repeated. “You two are so impatient. First step is to gather some C.I.s and get a plan. Work on that for the rest of the day today, but —“ he glanced at the clock, “go home and get some sleep eventually, you two?”

Judy nodded and leapt off the chair, her chest high and wide. She was going to be working on a sting! A real, live sting! She felt on top of the world as she grabbed Nick’s hand and yanked him off of the seat and out the door.

Bogo spent a long time staring at his notebook after they had left. He had always thought that the chief of Vice was dirty, but this was…well, to be fair if he hadn’t accidentally bugged Chastity Smixen probably no one would look the other way at this, but still…

“Get some sleep, I told them,” Bogo muttered to himself, remembering his final words to Hopps’s and Wilde’s departing backs and slowly rubbing his temples. “Hopefully not together….Wilde is probably even more incompetent post-coitus than he is the rest of the time...”

Chapter Text

Dear Readers,

I love you all very, very, very much. Do I love you as much as Nick loves Judy? Of course not. Do I love you as much as Judy loves Nick? Possibly. (Ooo, burn to Nick!)

I am entering an extremely rigorous academic program and am unsure about my ability to update this fic during it.

I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN ABOUT THIS FIC. I am constantly thinking about this, and other, fics. In fact, I literally wear a necklace that says "hustle" on it and I touch it throughout the day in moments of stress to remind myself to be more like that dork, Nick Wilde. You may think I am kidding, but I am not.

I thought about writing one kick-ass chapter tonight that ended with a cliff-hanger but I couldn't think of one and I am very tired and very nervous about this program.

So here you go, in lieu of a cliff-hanger:

---

THINGS THAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE STUNNING CONCLUDING CHAPTERS OF UGH, EMOTIONS, WHO NEEDS THEM?

Feel free to imagine these as a stirring montage set to amazing, uplifting music....

- A baby will be born

- Judy will wear a miniskirt

- Nick will look at Judy wearing a miniskirt and have lots of feelings about that

- Kissing

- Sex

- Vicki will punch someone in the face

- Judy will also punch someone in the face

- Nick will punch no one in the face - oo, what a twist!

- Finnick will appear with his son who will hilariously be wearing an elephant outfit

- A hookup between friends that both parties immediately regret - and it is NOT WILDE HOPPS YET INVOLVES MAJOR CHARACTERS! Guesses are permitted in the comments below!!!

 

PS - I learned today the shocking news that checking an eruv is usually done by someone with a lot more learning (Talmud, halakhah) than Nick would have ever really had. This person actually told me only rabbis do it but I really feel like I have heard of people who are not rabbis doing it. Anyway, I really thought it could have been an "odd-job" sort of like turning on the ovens in kosher establishments where non-Jews are employed. I am not Orthodox, but occasionally find myself on the fringes of (Modern, usually left-leaning) Orthodox practices. So I may go back and edit that chapter.

PPS - I will likely write some fics in the language I am studying, so if you are a student of עברית keep your eye out for badly written fics b'ivrit. Actually, if you are good at speaking Hebrew and would like to beta-read my fics, that would be pretty great.

PPS - LOOK AT ALL THE AMAZING THINGS THAT WILL LIKELY HAPPEN MID/LATE-AUGUST!!! Is that a reason to keep this fic bookmarked in AO3's bookmarking system? Yes. Yes, it is.

Chapter Text

Vicki leaned against the tree in the park and sighed. She had been released from the doctor’s office a few hours ago, and she hadn’t really been sure what to do or where to go. She had a few hours before she was due to drop the pills from the Planned Matehood….

She could, of course, go to Nick’s apartment. He did give her a key. But it… well, it didn’t feel quite right to be there alone during the day yet. It still felt…invasive.

She knew what she should be doing. She should be writing. She sighed, exhaling loudly — a nearby elderly armadillo gave her an alarmed look — and looked up at the sky. It was a nice day out.

She used to be able to write easily - words just seemed to fall off her paws and onto her journal pages. She would often write so quickly she would get a cramp in her paw, shooting up to her arm. She liked to write in parks. Sitting on benches. Then, she would collect all her notes and scribbles and spend a few hours at one of the few internet cafes that still had desktops-for-rent-by-the-minute.

But she hadn’t been able to write much over the past few days. When she tried, everything came out all wrong — in her head, the words sounded like claws running down a chalkboard. Worse, even. The discordant clattering of lots of claws running down many different chalkboards.

And the thing was, of course, that the book she was working on didn’t even really have to be that good. These interspecies romance novels… they weren’t exactly known for artistic merit. In the past, she had milked that knowledge for all it was worth - she once wrote half a book in a day. She smiled slightly, remembering that day. She had gotten up late, hungover, vomited, and then proceeded to drink about eleven lattes and write until she fell asleep again. That was when she had her own apartment. She missed that.

Her mind felt really full - she was worrying about the baby in her belly, worried about where she was going to live, worried about finishing the rotten book she had half-done sitting in the bottom of her bag, oddly worried about Judy and Nick. A lot of her mental energy seemed to be spent thinking about the two of them, she thought after a moment, beginning to bite her lower lip after a moment. She wondered if they would ever bang. They clearly wanted to, you could feel the tension radiating off each other.

Judy was an interesting mammal, she reflected to herself. And she was, well, she was attractive. And a police officer. Hmm. That was a big deal, she knew, for the smaller-prey community. And she was cute. And Judy’s way of dealing with her obvious attraction she had to a predator by means of violently ignoring it was cute (and kind of hot, to be honest) in its own way. She seemed so… worried about it.

Well, she couldn’t write a porn about her brother. That would be disgusting. But she could write about Judy, right? I mean, write about another rabbit police officer, call her Trudy, have her fall deeply in love with a… a… wolf? Is that too close to a fox? Would that be weird?

At that moment, a small cheetah cub accidentally threw a baseball too-forcefully at his brother. The ball careened over his brother’s outstretched paws and fell on the ground, gently rolling towards Vicki.

Vicki grinned while picking up the baseball and gently passing it back. A cheetah, then, she thought to herself. Fine. A rabbit police officer named Trudy who desperately wants to bang her partner, a cheetah. And Trudy just happens to look a lot like Judy. That would be fine. The important thing, she told herself severely, is that she wanted to write. For the first time in many days, she actually felt like writing. This was good then. She just…. well, she just wouldn’t tell anyone about this new project. And maybe she would use a different pen name, to be on the safe side.

Chapter Text

Stuart typed furiously.

CHAOS REIGNS AT LOCAL OB/GYN OFFICE (Developing), he typed.

 

Dr. Fozstein, a well-regarded OB/GYN specializing in the treatment of small to mid-sized predators, generally enjoys a quiet practice. This morning, however, was anything but quiet.

In what has been alleged to be an illegal sting operation, a fox by the name of Victoria Vulpecula was found retrieving a small recording device from Dr. Fozstein’s office. The recording allegedly includes proof that a secretary at Dr. Fozstein’s office has been “bugging” or placing some sort of recording device on individuals who have seen the OB/GYN for abortions. Whether or not the recording actually does include such proof, the secretary in question, a deer by the name of Charlotte Whitetailssohn, apparently broke down into hysterics at the sight of the recording device and began hysterically justifying her behavior.

This was overheard by two undercover cops, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, who achieved some degree of fame last year when they helped solve the Night Howler Incident. The two quick-thinking peace officers quickly called in backup when Whitetailssohn attempted to apparently strangle Vulpecula. Vulpecula punched her on the nose and then apparently burst out laughing.

When backup arrived, a tense fight apparently transpired, according to bobcat Sandy Catterson, who was in the waiting room at the time. “This large water buffalo came charging in yelling about something like ‘I told you Hopps, I’ll skin the pair of you alive!’ But then the younger fox, the pregnant one, said she had just pretended to retrieve a recording device but had really just taken it out of her pocket. It was a ruse, or something.”

Chief Bogo, the only water buffalo on the staff of the ZPD, declined to comment, as did Officers Hopps and Wilde. To add to the confusion, shortly after the arrival of Chief Bogo, Vulpecula’s water broke and went into labor. She was rushed to the hospital, shortly followed by —

 

“Stuart,” Howie said, tapping on top of Stuart’s cubicle wall. Stuart sighed and looked up at the giraffe. Way up.

“What?” Stuart asked, rubbing his eyes with his hooves and wishing he had more information about this case. It didn’t really seem to make sense. He felt as though he had just vomited facts onto the page.

“Apparently that Vulpecula person was Wilde’s half-sister,” Howie said, smirking slightly. He was enjoying this, Howie realized with a sinking heart. Howie had been passed over on this story, which seemed like it could become a big one, for the new up-and-coming-young-Zebra-journalist Stuart. Well, Stuart thought to himself irritably, he couldn’t help it if he was the new “up-and-coming” employee. This was just a blogging site, after all, it's not as though What's Happening, Zootopia?! not something like the Times

“Do you have a source for that?” Stuart asked, irritably hitting the delete key.

“Mmm…” Howie said, still smirking. “I forget. But it would be really good to add — it would really add some color to the piece. And it wouldn’t look good if you didn’t mention it and it came out in BuzzMeal or something like that a few minutes later…”

Stuart sighted as Howie sauntered away. This story. He supposed he could try to get some information from the hospital that that pregnant fox was taken to, but hospitals weren’t known for giving out information to journalists, let alone small-scale journalists of even smaller-scale blogs. Well, he thought, switching off his device, it was worth a try.

 

——

 

Judy sat next to Nick in the waiting room, her paw on his arm. He hadn’t moved his arm yet. He usually did, when she touched him. He sometimes acted as though he was almost… scared of her touch.

But now Nick was… worried. Judy hadn’t seen him like this, except when his mortal life was in imminent danger. His eyes were wide, he was biting his lower lip when he wasn’t chewing on his nails…

“I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Judy said soothingly, patting her pay on Nick’s arm. Nick glanced at her, and, seemingly just now realizing that she had been touching her, sidled his arm away from her.

“Yeah,” he said after a moment. “The doctors are good here, apparently.”

“Are you excited to be an uncle?” Judy asked, smiling at him.

Nick gave her a strange look.

“I… think so,” he said at last, still looking at her strangely.

“What is it?” Judy asked, feeling herself starting to blush under Nick’s strange gaze.

“I’ve just been… thinking,” Nick said, hesitatingly. “About, well. Things.”

“Things,” Judy echoed, still feeling herself blush but not being entirely positive why.

“Things…” Nick said, and then sighed. “About my life, and what I want from it. Things can change so quickly. I only met Vicki a few days ago…”

“Well,” Judy said, in a slightly faltering voice. “What is it that you think you… want… from life?”

Nick looked at her.

Judy looked at him.

Nick leaned in to kiss her, and paused for a moment, his mouth hovering uncertainly in front of hers.

Judy kissed him.

It was, Judy thought later, the most exciting kiss she had ever experienced. She felt as though a bolt of electricity was rippling through her spine, causing her fur to stand on end.

They separated and looked at each other, smiling slightly, when the voice of someone clearing his voice noisily in front of them caused them to jump slightly and turn to look at the harassed-looking zebra in front of them.

“Hi,” he said, smirking slightly, “I’m Stuart Stripz from What’s Happening, Zootopia?! I was wondering if either of you could confirm or deny some information I’ve received about Vicky Vulpecula?”