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Pride and Prejudice

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"Honey, are you... are you sure? I mean, you'd have to stay with your cousin..."

Judy sighed. "Mom, I'll be fine. They offered, anyway. Besides, if I want to get into a good law school, I'll have to move to the city eventually, anyway." Her mother did not look assured. "About that, sweetie... are you positive that you want to be a police officer in the city? It's dangerous, and you-"

"I'm what, mom?" Judy asked sharply, frustration setting through. "I'm not just this short, tiny kid, mom! I can do it. I'm tougher than I look."

Bonnie didn't look reassured and she quickly continued packing things into Judy's bag. "It's not just the cop thing, Judy, it's the fact that you'll be in the big city by yourself and there are dangerous people out there! I know that they have a good university, but you'll be going to high school at the ZHS there, and I also did a bit of research-"

"...Mom-"

"-and I saw that the high school is apparently full of residents and that means that-"

"Mom."

"-there will be dangerous kids going to your school-"

"Mom!"

Finally snapping out of her ramble, Bonnie let out an upset sigh. Judy put her hands up to stop her mother from saying another word. "Mom, I'll be fine. I promise that if anything goes wrong, I'll call you, and if it's bad, I'll come back home. But this is the best thing for me."

Bonnie nodded in resignation. "You've always been a worker, Judy. Ever since you were little, even when Gideon and his awful friends bullied you for it. But I know that you'll do great things, honey..."

Judy nodded. "Thanks, mom. The train leaves soon, so I'd better go."

--

At the train station, Judy walked down the line of her many, many adopted siblings and blood siblings, telling each of them goodbye and giving hugs. Finally she was to her parents, looking anxious as the train slowly pulled to a stop.

Stu hugged her, shortly followed by Bonnie.

"You just call if anything goes wrong." Her mother said hastily. "Make sure to check in, tell us when you make it safely to your cousin."

"Remember to do your best and take care of yourself." Stu chimed in.

Judy snorted. "Alright, alright! I have to go!" Before she could fully turn away, Bonnie shoved a container into Judy's hands. "It's pepper-spray, honey, just in case. Promise you'll have it on you at all times?"

"Mom-"

"Promise!"

Groaning, Judy took the pepper-spray and walked onto the train. "I'll see you guys next summer!"

Honestly, it was less bittersweet then she thought it would be. She didn't feel bad about leaving; she'd wanted to leave her entire life. Yes, she'd probably be glad to see her family again when summer rolled along, but for now all she felt was exhilaration and happiness. Judy was only sixteen, but she was already traveling halfway across the country.

Things would be better.

--

The big city was more than she could have ever asked for. Lights, colors, and the people! Immediately she was in awe by how different everyone was. In her hometown, everyone looked and sounded so similar that she often got her own siblings confused. Here, it was like everyone was from a different world. She saw tall people and short people, children, long hair and short hair, and clothes that expressed personality.

Suddenly she realized that she was also one of these people.

Nobody else that she could see had two ponytails of gray hair.

She felt different. From everyone.
It was amazing.

Her big eyes, shortness, it all stood out.

Everyone stood out.

This wasn't so bad.

Judy skipped and weaved around people through the city square. Some people gave her a second glance, probably because she was by herself. With that in mind, Judy remembered that she had to meet up with her cousin as soon as she got off the train.

She had only met him once before, when she was too little to remember. She knew that his name was Bucky, and that was it.

How bad could they be?

--

"Ah, I'm Judy...?"

She peered through the flat around the towering figure in the doorway. If this was Bucky, he sure was tall.

The taller guy frowned. "Judy? Are you Bucky's cousin that was coming over today?"

"Yes!" She exclaimed. "That's me. Wait... you're not Bucky?"

"No, everyone calls me Pronk. Didn't you know about me? I'm his boyfriend." Judy failed to hide the shock. Alright, so now she would also have to live with Pronk? She suppressed a groan. If they made any sort of noises at night, she was going to move.

Pronk raised an eyebrow at her expression. "Hey, little lady, homophobes aren't-"

"No!" Judy quickly amended. "I don't care if you guys are, like- dating or whatever. Are you guys... noisy... at night? Because the thing is, I'm going to school, and I need sleep..."

Immediately he burst out laughing and ruffled Judy's hair. "Oh, yeah. We're really loud. Don't expect us to apologize for it."

Before Judy could even groan, Pronk was pushing her inside and calling, "Bucky, your cousin is here!"

--

At least the flat was quite spacey, and she got her own room, despite the fact that it was small. (She was small, too.)

Unfortunately when Pronk said they were loud, he meant it. And not in the dirty-minded way Judy had expected. They bickered like a married couple, they constantly butted into conversations, and were overall crazy, rude, hooligans. Judy knew she'd grow fond of it after a while.

Bucky had a lot in common with Pronk, with long legs and a loud voice, big ears, always wearing t-shirts and watching football.

Instead of taking up their offer to watch TV with them, (tempting, but no) Judy decided it was a good a time as ever to check in with her parents and let them know she arrived safely. She sat down at the rickety desk and pushed the call button.

They answered at the second ring.

"Judy? Is that you?"

"Yeah, it's me. Hi."

"Are you with your cousin?"

"Yep. And his boyfriend, thanks for telling me."

"Boyfriend?"

Judy was not getting roped into a long conversation. She loved her parents, but she couldn't help but always try to avoid them. Always.

"Yeah- anyway, I'm just checking in but I'm like, really tired, so I'm going to go to bed..."

"Right! Get your sleep, school only starts in a few days!"

"Yes, right! Bye!"

As soon as Judy heard another 'bye' she hung up and flopped on her bed. School started in two days. That meant tomorrow she could explore the city, the next day she could explore the school and get everything ready, and then she could get a perfect GPA, whiz through classes, get straight A's, make it to the ZU with a scholarship, whiz through that, become a cop, pass tests, and then live life as a police officer in the big city.

Sounded like one helluva plan.

Chapter Text

"Alright, it looks like some ground rules need to be set, little lady." Pronk said immediately after stepping into the kitchen.

Judy glanced up from her mug, mid-drink. "What did I do?"

The taller blonde male threw his arms up in dramatic agony. "First off, waking up before the sun comes up is a no-no! Secondly, if you have to wake up before the sun comes up, don't wake everyone else up with the delicious smell of coffee!"

She shrugged. "Don't you have, like, work to wake up for?"

Pronk groaned. "Yeah, but unlike you, my work starts at nine and goes until five. And I don't have it today. And unlike Bucky, I'm a light sleeper!"

Judy smirked. "You know... if you didn't stay up all night watching television, you might actually feel less exhausted in the morning." At Pronk's scandalized look, she laughed. "I still don't see what's interesting on the TV enough to keep you up for four hours."

"It's not supposed to be interesting, little lady. The purpose of television is so you can waste away hours of pointless life."

"That's sad."

Pronk rolled his eyes. "Yeah, welcome to my life."

"Okay, so rule one is don't wake you up in the morning?" Judy asked, getting back to the original subject. "I think I can handle that, if you put in some effort."

"Yeah, yeah. We'll see." Pronk finally grunted. "Okay, rule two; if you make coffee, don't drink it all. Leave some for me." Before Judy could retort, he continued. "Rule three... um... don't do anything illegal."

When he didn't say anything after that, Judy burst out laughing.

"The three rules are don't wake you up, leave you coffee, and nothing illegal?"

"Yeah."

"What about school?"

Pronk frowned. "Catch the bus. If you can't, you can walk. And don't be late, I guess. And don't get into trouble."

Judy scoffed. "You guys are lucky I'm a perfect student."

She continued packing her backpack and Pronk suddenly looked very confused. "I thought school started in two days!" Judy nodded. "It does! Today I'm going to explore the city. I'm just packing water and money, stuff like that."

"So... you woke up at six in the morning... when you didn't have to?"

"Uh... yeah. I guess."

Pronk seethed. "Screw you, little lady." And then he was snatching away her half-empty coffee mug, downing it, and stomping back to the other bedroom. Judy couldn't even feel bad for the loss of the coffee, too busy laughing.

Yeah, she already liked this better.

She twisted on her backpack and scribbled down a note on a sticky-pad. Going around the city. I'll text -Judy

--

Well, automatically Judy realized that the city was bigger than she thought.

"Watch yourself!" Someone grunted as their shoulders bumped. Judy turned to apologize, but they were already lost to the crowd. She walked to the other sidewalk so she wasn't in anyone else's way.

So ZHS would be about two miles north, the flat was fifteen minutes behind her, and, if the map was correct, there should be a park just around the next bend. "There's so many streets..." She whispered to herself, unfolding the huge map again and sitting down on a freezing bench to rest. Although it was just barely turning to fall, it was overcast and Judy wished she had brought more than a long-sleeved shirt.

She shivered, wondering if it would be considered a 'lose' if she went back to the flat. She knew that Pronk would laugh his head off, and Bucky would probably still be asleep. Yeah, there was no way she could go back yet. Besides, she still had a lot to see.

Judy crossed off 'park' from her list. She could go there later to study or something. For now, she just needed to get the more tourist-y sights out of the way. She scanned the map again. Jan Park, Ten Ring Pond, Walt's Statue, blah. Nothing sounded really good.

To the park it was.

--

It was better than expected, with huge, gnarly trees that were perfect for climbing, and small creeks and bridges. Lots of benches, as well. It was overall quiet compared to the busy streets of the city, for which Judy was eternally grateful.

She felt like she was all by herself in a forest.

Whoever kept this park- probably Jan, since it was called Jan Park- was a saint.

"Hello, there." Judy said, cringing as soon as she said it. She was talking to trees, now. She climbed up, managing to scrape her hand, and dangled her legs off of a branch, feeling more alive than she'd ever felt before. The tree was tall, an oak tree, if she'd ever seen one. From the top she could see the streets getting progressively more and more busy.

Still better than her hometown. Everyone was so similar there- everyone was a farmer, everyone wore flannels and jeans and overalls, it was a town of country folk, and Judy was always meant for the big city.

"Give it!"

Judy looked down in surprise and watched in shock as a tiny girl with curly hair ran. She was immediately followed by a taller teenage boy with unforgettable spiky orange hair. He automatically looked like trouble. And he was chasing the girl!

She clambered down the tree, none too gracefully, and ran after the boy. "Hey! Leave her alone!"

The other, smaller girl was obviously out of breath and tried twisting around, but the other boy grabbed her by the arm and ripped something out of her hands. Money. A handful of it. Nevertheless, she was getting robbed.

Judy scowled. This is what she would change when she became a police officer.

"Stop right there!" She yelled. The tall boy with the hair whirled around in surprise. Judy stomped forward, moving in front of the kid. "What do you think you're doing? Give her the money back!"

He just glared back. "Don't meddle in things you don't understand, shortstack."

"I know exactly what's going on, you jerk! You're stealing- give it back!" Judy pulled out the pepper-spray her mother had given her. It turns out that it would come in handy.

"I'll spray you!" She warned. She held it up threateningly.

He looked surprised for a moment, before angrily turning and running. Judy ran after him, wondering how someone could be so mean. The other girl was even smaller than Judy. Eventually the orange-headed-bully vanished and Judy was back with the kid.

Judy turned to the smaller girl and sighed. "I'm sorry I couldn't give you your money back."

The other just shrugged. "That's alright! You tried to."

"I'll get him back eventually for this. What's your name, kid?"

"I'm Dawn." She blushed. "I'm actually sixteen..."
Judy wanted to hit herself. How could she carelessly (accidentally,) judge someone just for being small? After all, she had lived her whole life being called 'kid' and told she looked like a small child. She burned with embarrassment. "Oh my god, I'm sorry!"

Dawn shifted, adjusting her glasses. "It's fine. I get that a lot. It's probably why he took my money..." Judy huffed. "I can't believe he would do that. That's awful."

"His name is Nick, he goes to the same school as me. He's really not nice." Dawn nodded. "What's your name? What school do you go to?"

"I'm Judy. I just moved in from Bunnyburrow. I'm going to ZHS."

Dawn gasped. "Bunnyburrow! That's... that's not even in Zootopia!"

"Yeah, well, I needed a change of scenery."

"And I go to ZHS too! I guess we'll be seeing each other sometime!"

Judy nodded. She couldn't help but smile. Making friends wasn't exactly her forte, mostly because of a strong-temper and the fact that she was doing things that most people considered 'strange', but it was always nice to have a few friends around, and Dawn seemed very nice.

Besides, if this Nick guy was going to her school, she would be the one to stand up to him.

She hated bullies.

--

Eventually one o'clock came around and Judy decided, win or loose, she would have to go home eventually. It was getting cold. That, and it had started a downpour. She had only walked a few miles, so getting back wasn't a problem.

"You're back early." Bucky said, raising an eyebrow when Judy came walking in, soaking wet and shivering violently.

"Rain." She said as way of reply. Bucky shrugged.
"I'm glad you're back. I spent two hours making a pie and Pronk just said he was allergic to mushrooms."

Judy bit her lip. "Err... mushroom pie?"

"Yeah. It's good."

She raked her mind for an excuse. "See, the thing is-"

"Don't even try to get out of it." Bucky said, fighting down a smile. "You're eating at least one piece of this masterpiece. C'mon, at least try it."

And the next thing she knew, Judy was sitting on the couch, a plate of stinking mushroom pie on her knees, watching sports. She had been surprised- and touched- when Bucky had thrown her a huge quilt for her to sink into, stopping her shaking and trembling form. Unfortunately for Bucky, he had also just become her therapist.

"...and so I told him to give the money back, and he told me to butt out, and I chased him down for like, five minutes before he just vanished! I found out that the girl's name is Dawn and she goes to my school, along with that asshat Nick, and so I guess I'll be dealing with him for a while."

Bucky frowned. "Yikes. Eat your pie."

"Bucky... it's sort of... disgusting." Judy said lightly. Honestly, she was trying her best not to gag. At least not in front of her cousin.

He snorted. "No need sugarcoating it."

"Sorry."

"No, you're right, this is terrible." He set down his own untouched plate. "I'm sorry. I just realized that I'm supposed to make sure you eat and stuff... man, I just can't cook for the life of me." Judy shrugged. "Hey, don't worry about it. And... if you'd like... well, I mean, I can cook. If you want, sometimes."

Bucky gave her a long look. "Yeah. Okay, short-stuff. If it's better than this pie, you've got the job." She smirked. "Honestly, Bucky... anything is better than this. You need higher standards." He playfully pushed her over.

"Yeah, yeah. You're talking about getting rid of all the bullies? Start with yourself!"

--

"Hey, mom."

"Oh, hi dear! How was your second day? Everything going well?"

"Yeah, everything is great. Bucky and Pronk are really funny, and the city is beautiful."

"That's good, Judy... so you like it there?"

"Yes! I mean, there are some jerks and I saw someone stealing from someone today, and I tried to stop them, but overall I think that it's so diverse and amazing!"

She could nearly feel her mother's anxiety growing. "You tried to stop them? Are you alright? Did you use your pepper-spray?" Realizing that she really shouldn't be telling her mother this, Judy backtracked. "Umm... yes! I'm fine. I threatened him with the pepper-spray; it sure scared him off."

Later, Judy felt another surge of anger towards the redhead. (It wasn't really red hair. It was orange.) She knew that she'd see him again, during school or not. And the next time she saw him pulling a stunt like that, he wasn't getting out of it.

That jerk.

Chapter Text

After a dreamless sleep, Judy woke up even earlier before, rising at five o'clock in the morning.

She was packing her bag again when Pronk walked into the kitchen, looking tired- that was putting it lightly. Honestly, he looked like he was still asleep. But he looked more exhausted than angry, so Judy suspected she was in the clear from another lecture.

"Rough night?" Judy asked, eyebrows raising when he started chugging her freshly-made coffee right from the pot. "I'll take that as a yes?" Pronk just groaned. "You have no idea, little lady. I'm surprised you didn't hear us through the walls. I barely slept a wink." Immediately Judy was covering her ears. "No! No, no, no- I did not want to hear that! Not what I meant, in any form or way!" He just made a motion with his hand. "Hey, you asked."

She rolled her eyes. "So I didn't wake you up?"

"Nah. Bucky's snoring did the trick."

Judy looked out the window ruefully. It was still raining, although light, and the overcast, grey sky just seemed to add to her mood. Then she turned back to her bag. "I have to go to school today, and for once, I'm not looking forward to it."

"I thought it started yesterday?"

Judy sighed. "God- you people don't remember anything, do you? It starts tomorrow. Today we just map out the school, get around to our classes, meet people. It's supposed to be one of the most fun days, when you meet people."

"So why aren't excited?"

"I'm going to have to try to meet people in advanced law classes- none of them who are going to be anything like me."

Pronk shrugged. "Sometimes you don't need to be similar to be close."

--

On her way to school, Judy kept thinking about what he had said. You don't need to be similar to be close? That was bullshit. Everyone back at Bunnyburrow was close. They were all similar.

It was the same with Dawn and Nick. She was nothing like Nick, therefore they would never be friends. He was mean and she wasn't- or, at least she tried to be kind. That was saying more than he could. And Dawn- she was nice, and so Judy was nice back.

Still, Judy was in a new city where breaking the norm seemed to be what everyone was doing, and she herself was constantly doing it. She was different from everyone in her hometown because she wanted to do things they didn't.

Maybe Pronk had something right, there.

Then again, he had been pretty drowsy...

--

The school was big. It was much bigger than the one she grew up in, but she had a feeling of confidence, knowing that she wasn't one to get lost. Besides, after she'd mapped out where her classes were, everything would be fine.

The bell rang and an announcement came over the speakers.

"Welcome to ZHS. Please go to your locker and familiarize yourself with the combination and your partner. At the second bell, go to your first period class."

Judy skipped down the hall to her locker. The halls were already getting more crowded, and it was painfully obvious that she was nearly half the size of other students. These people looked like they had grown up in the army.

Once she had reached her locker- she had already memorized the combination- she loaded her bag inside and waited for her locker partner to show up. She got herself excited, hoping that Dawn might just be her partner, but she guessed that life wouldn't be so kind.

Eventually a tall, lean girl walked up. She had brown hair in a braid down the back and big green eyes. She looked harmless, despite being so tall. Judy shot up and smiled. "Hello!" The other girl looked surprised, then smiled back warmly. "Oh, hi! I'm Sandra." She took off her bag as well and put it in the locker.

"I'm Judy."

"I guess we're partners?"

"Yep! Don't worry, I'm clean." Judy joked.

Sandra laughed quietly. "So am I. Well, I'll see you around!"

She turned to walk away and Judy almost sagged in relief, but it was cut short when Sandra whirled back around and embraced Judy in a bone-crushing hug. She had no idea what to do, because she hardly knew the girl, but she quickly patted her on the back and gave a reassuring smile before walking off.

So her locker partner was shy, emotional, and just as scared as Judy was. Fantastic.

"Yeah, that's Sandra Otterton. You'll get used to the hugging, she does it a lot."

Judy turned to the voice.

"Dawn!"

The curly-haired blonde grinned widely. "It's so good to see you, Judy!'

"You too! What class are you heading to?"

Dawn turned to her binder for a moment, re-reading the schedule. "English. You?"

"I've got History. I'll see you later. We have art together, right?"

"Yes! I'll see you then. Bye Judy!"

"Bye!"

--

Her history teacher was Mr. Yax, who was practically a hippie. He wore tie-dye shirts and extremely short tan shorts, and he was super hairy, like bigfoot or something.

Judy also found out that he held Yoga classes during study hall.

Like anyone would go.

--

Judy didn't even remember she had Law next until she found herself walking to the classroom. She still had one of the paper maps in the folder of her main binder, and she felt like she was on an adventure or something.

The classroom was a little intimidating.

The people in the classroom were terrifying.

The teacher, Mr. Bogo, was a softie. (On the inside, not the outside.)

"Alright, listen up. In your seats before the late bell rings or you are marked absent. If you are in the classroom but not in your seat when the bell rings you are marked absent. If you are next to your desk but not in your seat when the bell rings you are marked absent. If you are a second later, you are absent. Am I clear?"

"Yes sir!" The class squeaked.

"If you fall behind you will be here during study hall. If you are too far behind you will be transferred to the beginning law class. If you excel I will transfer you to the higher law class at the end of the semester. Am I clear?"

"Yes sir!"

"Now- to work, you lazy idiots! You think that you can be anywhere when you want to be?! Wrong!"

Judy tried not to fall asleep between the 'if's' and the 'am I clear's'.

--

After the core classes, she had gym and art.

Gym was not a fun ordeal.

"You say you want to be a police officer when you grow up, Hopps?!"

"Yes ma'am!"

"You think that you can make it like this?!"

"No ma'am!"

"You're going to get eaten alive out there, Hopps!"

"Yes, Miss Istruttore!"

And it didn't help that the entire time, Judy kept seeing Nicholas Wilde in the same class. It was just her luck, really. By the end of the class everyone was sweating. This day wasn't supposed to be an actual day of school, but apparently some teachers didn't get the memo.

--

Then came art. When she was walking down the hall, she noticed Nick following her- and then coming inside. So her last two classes were with Nick. So what? She could ignore him. Easy.

"Alright, everyone. This class is about expressing emotion through art. Don't just copy. Don't just go mainstream. Don't do the easy way out. However you're feeling- make it into reality. Do it. I believe in all of you."

Okay, the teacher got a little sappy at the end. But Judy felt better; inspired. She already liked the class, with the exception of Nick. But she had the class with Dawn, so she knew that she'd be fine. Any group projects, and all she had to do was find the tiny girl with the white curls.

--

"You're home."

"Good job, Sherlock. How'd you figure that one out?"

"Hmm. Touchy. Bad day, was it?" Bucky looked up from his newspaper.
Judy flopped on the couch again and pouted. "I've got a class- two of them, actually- with Nick. And only one with Dawn."

"Oh, you poor, poor thing. What're you going to do about it?"

"I can't do anything about it!"

Bucky shrugged. "Then why complain about it? Short-stuff, if you've got a bad situation, that's one thing. But you can't do anything about it? Not so much. Can you ignore him? Yes. Can you make peace with him? Yes."

Judy playfully glared at the taller male who was sitting next to her. "What do you know about it?"

He nodded. "Everything. When I was in high school, there was a kid that I hated. Hated him more than anything at the time, really."

"What happened?"

"He got my in trouble for something I didn't do. I held a grudge. We didn't get over it for a year- we fought and avoided each other, we got one another in trouble, it was havoc. You're lucky you weren't there to see it. We were constantly in detention together."

"And the moral is...?"

Bucky patted Judy on the head. "The moral, short-stuff, is that I didn't understand the whole story. He got me in trouble for stealing his bag. I didn't steal it. But what I didn't know was that he had medication in that bag that he needed to take, and they didn't have enough money for more."

"Didn't he tell you?" Judy asked, shocked.

"Nope. He was embarrassed about it. He ended up finding it, but a week had passed and we already hated each other. One day he told me what had happened, and we both gave up the fighting. We became best friends. The thing is, we wasted an entire year hating each other when we could've seen how similar we were. We got so caught up in the differences..."

"What was his name?"

Bucky looked distant for a moment. Then he looked at Judy with a nostalgic smirk.

"Pronk Antlerson."

--

Late that night, after Judy had made the two of them sandwiches- and tried not to focus on how in love they were, and how at one point they had hated each other like that- and after she had called her mother, she was up thinking about what Bucky had said.

I didn't understand the whole story.

Sure, Nick probably had stuff going on in life. But that absolutely did not make it OK to break the law, or steal money from a kid, or be a bully. It didn't make it OK to be the 'stuff' in someone else's life. That wasn't fair.

Besides.

It was Nick Wilde.

What could he possibly have going on in his life?

Chapter Text

"And then he told me I was being dramatic!" Dawn whined with a long sigh.

Judy tried not to roll her eyes. She was almost to the point of telling Dawn herself-- she loved the girl, but she was sensitive. It was only the first day of school and already she was caught up in whatever drama Dawn had roped herself into.

Apparently Dawn had a boyfriend, Leodore, who was a big beefy athlete with a head of gold hair. They had an extremely complicated relationship that consisted of shouting, name-calling, having Dawn do homework, having Leodore keep Dawn in the social group, and avoiding one another.

And, lucky her, Judy got to hear every last bit of it.

"Dawn...?"

"I mean- yeah, so I started crying... but people cry! It's normal!"

"Dawn."

"I'm emotional, not dramatic!"

Judy gave up then and there. She faked a comforting, sympathetic nod, and apologetically murmured, "Dawn, I'm sorry. Leodore is a jerk. Now, I'm going to be late for Law, and Mr. Bogo... he's intimidating."

Dawn looked surprised. "Oh, right! Sorry, Judy. Get going. Go!"

With one last force-smile and an awkward wave, Judy ran in the direction of Law, hoping to god that she wasn't late. She managed to slide into her seat right as the bell rang. Mr. Bogo gave her a long, long look, but with a sigh of exasperation, marked her 'on-time'.

--

English, Science, Maths... they all went by quickly. Judy had already mastered English and Science, and Math was still alright, although Judy liked photos and pictures, experiments and emotions and words more than numbers and equations...

Still, it passed to quickly for Judy. She was dreading Gym and Art, simply because she would have to live with knowing that that boy was in the room.

She hadn't hated someone this much for a long time. But still; first impressions! He had stolen money from a little girl! That's illegal.

Like she said, she was dreading it.

--

"Alright, you filthy animals! Our next assignment will require you all to partner up. We'll be doing volleyball for the first few weeks, so first of all you idiots will partner up and do passes. I'll demonstrate with... ah... you, Sammy. We'll show everyone how to spike the ball and do passes. Now partner up!"

Judy gave a deep breath and looked around. She hated gym anyway- it was bad enough that they had to partner up. Besides, she didn't know anyone else in the room besides Wilde.

And that was just not happening.

She looked around, and when her eyes landed on Nick, she froze. The rest of the class was scattered and talking loudly, choosing partners and friends, but Nick was just standing there, looking as lost as Judy. He was looking at her with wide, surprised, hopeful eyes, and for just a moment...

Nick looked...

He... he looked...

"Hey, do you want to partner up?"

Judy whirled around, snapping out of her trance and turning to face a tall, blonde girl. She smiled brightly. "Oh- hi! I'm Judy. And sure! Thanks for asking." The other girl grinned. She had wavy hair and she managed to make gym clothes look fashionable.

(Judy started to regret partnering with the girl; the combination of Judy's shortness and her height, it looked rather silly.)

"No problem. I'm Elle."

They both started walking towards the area where the coach was going to do demonstrations, and Judy couldn't help it- she glanced back at Nick. She tried not to cringe. It was painfully awkward, watching Nick's eyes dart back and forth, desperately hoping for a partner. She pushed back any empathy she felt for the redhead.

That's what happens when you're a bully. You don't have friends, and people avoid you.

Whatever happened, Nicholas Wilde had it coming for him.

--

Art was even worse than that horrible moment in gym.

Mr. Clawhauser was going on another big rant about how emotion could transfer through art. Half the students were talking among themselves, and the other half were either studying for another class, reading, sleeping, or doodling.

Judy, herself, managed to get a good two chapters into Dune, before she heard the arguing coming from her left.

"That wasn't yours and you know it!"

Nicholas Wilde. Judy immediately felt her hair stand on end. She glared as fiercely as she could at the boy, but he was concentrated on another form in front of him: Dawn. The tiny girl scowled.

"Well, none of that matters anymore because you ended up with it anyway!"

"So why take it from me in the first place?"

Dawn glared at him. Then the two of them noticed Judy, staring at them both with big eyes, one eyebrow raised. Immediately Dawn's expression morphed into hurt. "I didn't take anything- you stole from me! I needed that money!"

The redheaded boy just groaned in frustration and threw his arms up. "Not as much as I did! I didn't steal anything, Bellwether!"

Judy jumped in. "I saw it myself," She said coldly. "There's no reason to lie. If you're going to bully around my friend, then you better watch yourself." Dawn sent her a look of extreme gratitude, to which Judy gave a single nod to. Nick looked up and rolled his eyes.

"I said it once before, I'm going to say it again, shorty. Don't meddle in things you don't understand."

"And what did I say before?! I understand it perfectly fine, thank you!" She snapped.

"Dammit, you don't-"

"You're a thief!"

"She's a liar!"

"You're a liar!"

"You've got it all wrong!"

They were both standing and screaming, at this point. Dawn looked both elated and extremely humiliated.

Before anything could escalate further, Mr. Clawhauser was already noticing the debate and walking over with a dreamy look in his eyes. "Oh, you two! Normally I would send you both into detention with Mr. Yax for disturbing the class," He said, and suddenly Judy was very aware that everyone was looking at them.

"But I think that a bit of creative time together will do the trick in this classroom just fine."

Judy and Nick both turned to him slowly.

The teacher grinned cheerfully and continued. "You both can stay after school for the next while and help me clean up supplies after school. I'm letting you two off easy, this time, but we'll have no more horsing around in my classroom. You can start tomorrow."

Detention with Nicholas Wilde. On the first official day of school.

Judy had never been in detention before. She'd never gotten in trouble before, without including a few incidents in elementary.

In the midst of her inward turmoil, she completely missed the horror-stricken Nick, who looked both queasy and terrified at the idea, not just annoyed. But Dawn was watching the redhead carefully, and she looked on thoughtfully as Nick started shaking.

--

"Detention!" Judy wailed. "Detention with the biggest asshole of the century!"

Pronk and Bucky shared a look from the couch, curled up with blankets and ice-cream tubs. Cautiously, Bucky tried to interrupt her distressed state. "Um... short-stuff, detention isn't all that bad. Don't worry about it. Although I didn't think they gave detention on the first few days of school..."

Pronk hummed. "No, they do."

"You'd know."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It's supposed to mean that you got in trouble a whole lot, idiot!"

Judy flopped onto the couch and dramatically pretended to choke herself. "I'm nothing! My perfect reputation; tarnished! My citizenship grades; tossed! All for a good-for-nothing lousy wasteful dirty cheating scum-of-the-Earth lying fox with orange hair!"

Pronk rolled his eyes. "Listen here, little lady. Orange hair is awesome."

Bucky quickly added, "And you can't just go calling people foxes, Judy. Even if they do have orange hair and they're sneaky bastards."

With a great lurch and roll of the couch, Judy began sobbing again. "I'm ruined..."

Chapter Text

Judy woke up at three in the morning.

After an unsuccessful half-hour attempting to fall back into a dreamless sleep, she completely gave up and ended up getting up and going to the kitchen as quietly as possible. From the other room, she could hear Pronk and Bucky snoring.

With a groan, she sat down on the couch and checked the time.

4:58, her lock screen said, glaring back at her.

Great.

And, of course, that just brought on the reminder that it was the day. The first day of detention.

Judy decided that she would force herself to sleep another hour or two. She was not ready for this day.

--

"No offense."

"No offense what?" Judy asked blearily, closing her eyes as she drained her coffee. Pronk raised a condescending eyebrow. "No offense, but you look like hell. Did you even sleep last night?"

The younger girl rolled her eyes. "I woke up really early. I've been stressed out lately, okay? Gimme a rest."

Although she sincerely hoped that her cousin-in-law-to-be was exaggerating. If she looked as bad as she felt, people at school might run screaming. Pronk snorted. "It's, like, what? The second day of school? How stressful can that be?"

Judy sighed. "Detention with a first-class asshole."

"Ah. Good luck with that, little la-a-ady. If you need a ride afterwards, just text me. But I might not respond." Judy laughed a little at that. "You'd better get going, you're going to be late."

She couldn't even think of a snarky retort before she found herself obeying his instruction. She was too damn tired for this.

--

The five-minute bell rang almost as soon as she arrived. With an unexpected weight, she slowly dragged herself to the locker. Sandra and Dawn were waiting nearby, chattering away about something-or-other. Judy felt bad as soon as irritation crept into her mind.

She liked them, she really did; they were both nice, amazing friends... but she didn't know if she could handle their bubbly, talkative energy that very day. She tried to slip into the locker without them noticing her, but unfortunately they noticed and bounded over.

"We were worried you weren't going to be here!" Sandra exclaimed, scanning Judy over for injuries. "School starts in minutes, Judy!"

Dawn nodded in agreement. "I was about to run off to English. I'm glad you're here, though. Apparently Mr. Yax is doing yoga in class, today, so your first period should be really fun." Judy just banged her head against the locker door a few times before letting out a dramatic groan.

"This- day- just- keeps- getting- better." She pronounced each word with a bang against the metal.

Sandra and Dawn looked at her in confusion.

"You girls are going to be late!" A nearby teacher called. "Get to class, hurry, hurry!"

Both of Judy's friends sent her an apologetic look before scampering off in different directions. Judy ripped her binder out and started running towards her history class with Mr. Yax. Oh, this was going to be a great day.

--

"Yoga brings you inner peace throughout the body. I feel that meditation is a great way to relieve stress and tension, and focus your mind."

Mr. Yax talked so slowly as he reached up and twisted his spine into an almost unnatural position. The class cringed as he preformed the 'art of meditation' to them. Apparently it wasn't just a study hall thing, he actually put in a grade for it.

(And, well... to be fair, Judy felt like she might've just needed a little bit of stress-relief for that day. A lump in her stomach was a constant reminder of the impending detention.)

--

Law helped her get her mind off things. There were sections of the curriculum that were for police officer training, something Judy aspired to be, and so they were working on the health and physical portions of it.

Mr. Bogo practically screamed, "Listen up you lot! If you're taking Gym this semester, we're going to have a project that can count for extra credit in that class. We will be working on obstacle courses, and the mental part of your training. Even if you aren't taking this class to become an officer, that doesn't mean this won't come in handy, and that doesn't mean it won't go on your grade. Am I clear?!"

"Yessir!"

"Now, the courses are all set up outside, so we are going to have to go out there and start. Today I'll just be timing and testing you all to see where we are. Am I clear?!"

"Yessir!"

--

English, math, and science passed by and by the end of those three classes Judy had three new packets of homework, two term project assignments, one book to read, two textbooks to work on, and a mind splitting headache.

--

Judy was already exhausted from the workout with her Law class, especially since she was a lot shorter and weaker than the other students, and so Gym sounded like hell. It got worse when she was reminded that for the next while, she was stuck partnering with the tallest, thinnest, most beautiful girl she had ever seen. In comparison- and standing right next to her- she looked like a little kid.

Yeah, Elle was nice. And while they practiced hitting the volleyball back and forth, Judy found out that she wasn't really a typical blonde airhead, either. Elle had strong opinions in political matters, equality matters, and overall environmental health. She wanted to become a singer and spread her message through her voice.

It was kind of nice. Judy would've never even thought of her as that if she hadn't met the girl personally. It was crazy how you didn't know someone until you really got to meet them. Then you could discover all sorts of things. And they had a lot more in common than Judy first thought.

Judy was half asleep when the volleyball bounced off her face and ricocheted across the gym. She flushed. "Sorry," She mumbled sleepily before running after the ball.

It rolled across the floor and slowed down near the corner of the room and the basketball hoop.

She was walking towards it when it hit Nick in the foot and he picked it up and looked around, wondering who rolled it at him.

This day wasn't cutting her any goddamn slack, was it?

She sighed in frustration and jogged over. Nick blinked when she came into view and realized what she had come for. "Oh- right- sorry." He said, and tossed it back at her. She caught it with both hands and gave the redhead an odd look before running back to Elle.

Nick was a mystery. Unreadable.

--

As soon as they walked into the class, Mr. Clawhauser gave them both a big smile, recognizing them immediately.

"Welcome back, you two troublemakers. See me after class ends, alright? I'll give you an assignment then."

When Judy collapsed at her desk, Dawn walked over and grimaced. "So... detention, huh? I'm sorry you have to have it with that selfish jerk." Judy waved it off. "Don't be sorry, it's not your fault. And I'm not so sure. I mean, I know Nick was awful and he took your money, but I haven't seen him do anything mean since."

Dawn looked positively scandalized. Her face contorted into hurt. "Judy! How can you even say that? You just moved here-- I've lived here, I've known the guy, for years and years. He's a bully, Judy. He steals things and then he pretends like he's the victim. You saw him chasing me around, right?!"

"Well, yeah, but-"

"There you have it! And why are you calling him 'Nick' all of the sudden? Are you guys friends or something? Judy, don't forget what he did!"

Judy bit her lip and watched as Nick flipped through his own sketchbook with a bored expression, looking just as glum as she felt at the prospect of the upcoming after school activities. But... he didn't look...

Wait; no! Dawn was right, how could she think that?

She saw what the guy had done. There was no mistaking it.

Judy couldn't afford to waste her time pitying the guy when he didn't deserve it. She turned back to Dawn and sighed. "I guess you're right. Sorry, Dawn."

The tiny girl gave her an odd look but nodded anyway.
"It's fine, Judy... but you're like, my only friend and I don't want to loose you."

The bell rang and with an awkward smile, Dawn walked back to her own seat. For the remainder of the class period, Judy felt her eyes drifting towards the bright orange hair across the room. The scrawny tall kid.

Judy hated him with a passion. So why did she feel so unsure about this?

She turned back to her sketchbook and looked at the drawing she had made. It was a work in progress, but Mr. Clawhauser had said to start sketching whatever they felt at the moment. Most students had started drawing an overly-attractive version of themselves with an over-exaggerated expression.
In all honesty, she had been about to do it herself, but instead...

Well, instead, she had drawn something else.

She didn't know why.

"Alright, I've checked them all off!" Mr. Clawhauser announced, clapping his hands together as the bell rang. "I'll see you all tomorrow!"

Judy looked at the drawing in front of her and frowned before putting the yellowish paper into her folder.

--

Once everyone else had left, Judy and Nick were the only two students left in the classroom. The art teacher looked especially devious, for some reason, which wasn't helping Judy's state of mind.

"Alright, you two. Today I'll go easy on you guys, but there is a lot to do. First I'm going to have you, Judy, wash out the paintbrushes. Nicholas, you can start rolling up the posters. Judy, make sure to use the brush soap and lots of water. Nick, once it's rolled up, use a rubber band to keep it together and then start stacking them in the back. Can you two handle that?"

They groaned, but nodded. Mr. Clawhauser grinned. "Alright. I have to go print things off down the hall, so just come down to the printer rooms if you need me."

--

It started out in a tense, awkward silence, as soon as he had left. Judy immediately got to work, ignoring him as much as she could. He got to work a bit more slowly, but he was doing an efficient job.

Only ten minutes passed before he broke the silence.

"Your name is Judy, right?"

He didn't sound hostile, but Judy didn't want him to think that they were going to be friends anytime soon. And he could be mocking her. But at the moment, she had no proof that anything was wrong- and Dawn wasn't there- so she answered without turning to look at him.

"Yeah. Judy Hopps."

"Oh," He said.

Judy was determined to keep her silence until Nick spoke again, this time with a bit of a sharper tone. "I'm Nick. But I'm sure Dawn has told you all about me, huh?" He sounded bitter as he talked about her friend. She felt her lip curl into a sneer.

"She doesn't need to... I know all about you already, Nicholas Wilde."

He snickered. "Do you, now? We've had, what- two conversations? Three?"

"I know what kind of person you are." She answered simply, turning back to the sink and coating the brush in the soap. "I know that you're the worst type of person." If what she had said offended the redhead, he didn't give any away.

"The only thing you know about me is whatever Dawn has told you."

"The first time we met I saw you steal money from her."

That made him whirl around, his eyes narrowed in barely contained fury. "I didn't steal anything, goddamn it!"

Judy turned, too, and gave him the most rotten, sarcastic smile she could conjure. "This might surprise you, but I was actually there, when it happened. Stop lying about it! What are you even trying to prove?!"

"You don't-"

"No! I know what you are, Nick. You're a no good, dirty, cheating fox who only thinks about himself! Stay away from Dawn."

Judy didn't even know why she said it. She didn't believe it, not really, not deep down. But the thought of Dawn, alone and scared, being chased by bullies... it wasn't a good thought. So she snapped out at him and turned back to the sink angrily.

Neither of them said anything else, both silently fuming.

--

"That's about it, for today. I'll see you both tomorrow. Good work!" Mr. Clawhauser chirped after an hour had gone by.

Judy took out her phone to call Pronk to get a ride, but she froze when Nick ran past her.

She blinked in surprise and put the phone down, watching him as he ran down the hall, putting his backpack on as he ran. What was so important that he had to be there so quickly? She decided that she could care less, especially after that embarrassing fight they'd had.

She dialed Pronk's number.

He answered on the fourth ring, sounding sleepy.

"Hmmhff?"

"Pronk. It's Judy?"

"Oh... heyyy-a, little lady. What can I do for 'ya?"

She laughed at his fake extravagance. "I need a ride, you dork. Can you come to the school? I'm tired."

"Yeah, yeah. I'll be there in a minute. Hold your horses."

"Thanks, Pronk," She said, before hanging up.

Finally. Finally this day was almost over. It had seemed like an eternity from when she had woke up at three o'clock that morning. And she needed more coffee. More coffee and a therapy session with Pronk and Bucky. They were good listeners.

--

Luckily, once they got back to the flat, that's exactly what happened. Both of her roommates were dying to know how detention with this 'awful, horrible, rotten' boy had gone. Bucky had already made the coffee, Pronk was getting out the ice cream, (because, when in doubt, eat ice cream) and they were bunking down on the couch like they had the day before.

It was kind of nice. It was a good change from her old house, where her extended, extended family all lived together and there were dozens of kids and adults running around from place to place, forgetting names and rushing everywhere.

It was just her, her cousin, and her cousin's boyfriend.

Judy preferred this to everything and anywhere else.

"How did it go?" Bucky asked.

She let it all out.

--

Later that night, after they had listened to her cry, scream, rant, and complain about the day, they had successfully managed to calm her down and turn on Zootopia's Got Talent. After seven episodes of that, Pronk and Bucky were asleep on the sofa, curled together in blankets. Judy smiled at the sight.

She flicked off the television- god knew that those two boys didn't need more of that- and walked back to her bedroom.

There was a drawing on her desk that she had placed earlier that evening.

Yellowish paper.
Art assignment.

She looked at it again. It was a drawing of a rabbit and a fox, both fighting, both equally-matched. Neither loosing, but neither winning, either.

"You're a no good, dirty, cheating fox-"

Judy didn't want to think too hard about it. She didn't even know why she'd drawn that in the first place. It didn't matter, either- she'd gotten a full grade on the assignment. Besides, she needed sleep.

"I didn't steal anything-"

She fell onto her bed and squeezed her eyes shut, praying for sleep. She could worry about all of that tomorrow.

Chapter Text

"You seem out of it today, Judy. Are you alright?" Elle asked in her silky voice.

Judy tried not to groan pathetically and curl into a ball. "Fine, fine. Thanks for asking. I just really need to get a decent nights' sleep- I've had a lot on my mind lately." With all the drama going around, her new 'rival', detention, along with these hard as hell classes...

"We can go easy today during practice, don't worry!"

And that was why Judy loved Elle.

They walked over to the row of lockers. Since they had become partners in Gym, they had been spending more and more time together as friends. Judy also realized she had English and Art with her as well, so she might as well befriend the girl.

As they neared the lockers, Sandra looked up and broke into a grin.
"Are you guys going to lunch?"

Elle nodded cheerily, holding up her hot pink Bento Box. Judy laughed and opened her locker with a kick before grabbing her own lunch- not pretty, not metal, not even remotely close to a Bento- it was a plain and simple brown sack lunch. Probably had nothing special inside, either. But that was the way she liked it- along with her name printed neatly on the side in Sharpie.

The three of them walked down to the lunchroom in a comfortable silence. Elle and Judy had been taking their time when they got back from English, so the halls were mostly empty besides the classes going on to their right and the almost inaudible noises coming from the direction of the cafeteria.

It was nice, actually.

Eventually the classroom noises faded off and the screams and whistles from the cafeteria started to drown out everything. When they got inside, Elle immediately ran towards an empty table, Judy following shortly behind. Sandra hurried to get in line for the school's lunch. It was a small act of something normal they had going on.

They were just a group of friends. (Dawn would've been a part of it, but she had class this hour.)

"Can I have your phone number?" The blonde asked chirpily, pulling out her own mobile and waving it around. "I want to get together sometime out of school, if you'd like!"

Judy felt her insides tighten with excitement. "Yes! Um, yeah- here, I'll put my contact info." She took the phone and added her own cellphone. "Maybe... maybe we can get together after school?"

It had been too long since Judy 'hung out' with anyone. Officially, anyway. She was getting too excited about this.

Elle positively beamed. "Really? Let's invite some other people, too, okay? It'll be like a party!"

Sandra sat down at the table and raised an eyebrow. "A party?"

"Yeah!" Judy exclaimed, already thinking miles ahead. "Yes- yes, yes! A party, and maybe a sleepover!"

Immediately Elle's face fell. "I can't have a sleepover on a school night, though. We'd have to do it tomorrow, since it'll be Friday. We can spend today planning it!"

--

During Gym it was all Elle wanted to talk about. Apparently she was just as thrilled as Judy was.

"We should bring Dawn, obviously, and Sandra... and maybe we can invite Fru Fru, Stephanie, Priscilla... oh, and Jamie!"

Judy coughed down a laugh and tried to catch the volleyball that Elle had tossed flippantly. "I don't know who half of these people are," She said in amusement. Elle finally slowed down her list of invites and smiled warmly.
"Don't you see, Judy? This is a chance for us all to come closer together! Girl power, all that. Meet new people. Besides, you can never tell who people are from just a glimpse- maybe you'll become best friends with some of them. You never know."

Judy paused.

"Sometimes all you need is a glimpse," She muttered.

Elle gave her a sort of sad smile.
"Sometimes all you need is to look deeper."

--

Was the entire world against Judy on this?

Yes. It seemed like it goddamn was.

Because so far, everyone- including her cousin and his boyfriend, her gym partner, and a multitude of other people- had been unintentionally hinting that Judy needed to actually talk to Nicholas Wilde.

Plain and simple. Dig a bit deeper, find out he really wasn't such a bad guy, yadda-yadda.

But it... whenever Judy started thinking- really thinking about it, she couldn't do anything about it. The situation was a bit more complicated then that, because Dawn would feel betrayed if Judy became friends with someone who had repeatedly been a jerk.

(Repeatedly?)

At the same time, Bucky's story about him and Pronk had really struck a nerve. She had been so certain that they had always liked each other, because no matter how much they bickered, it was obvious that they were in love.
They would've never been like this.

She hated Nick.

At the very least, she didn't trust him, and that was that.

Still.

Still, he really was puzzling. Because Judy couldn't help but notice him- during Gym, and during Art, and sometimes around the halls. And he never really looked happy. He never really looked like he had a lot of friends. He looked sad.

It was hard to hate someone who looked so goddamn hurt all the time. In a way, Judy wished that Nick would do something more. Rob someone, again, or say something mean, or do something completely immature. Do something that justified hatred.

"-about the party you guys were having! It sounds so fun, I hope I can come tomorrow. Do you know where we're all meeting up?"

Judy blinked and froze for a moment. Art class. Right.

"Oh! Ummm..." She trailed off. "Party... right. Yes. OH- the party, right! I think we're going to Elle's house. I'll clear things up later."

Dawn nodded happily and carried on, but Judy's thoughts immediately started wandering again.

--

Everyone was lined up at the door, with Dawn and Judy at the back.

"It sucks you have to stay here for another hour," Dawn complained.

Judy winced. "Yeah. I'd rather get home."

"No, I meant because you're stuck with-"

"-and I'm probably missing the newest episode of Project Runway right now." Judy cut her off sharply, changing the subject. With everything going on, she really didn't want to talk about Nick and listen to Dawn rant about how horrible he was.

"I was talking about Nicholas Wilde." Dawn deadpanned, not taking a hint.

There was a heartbeat of silence and Judy finally sighed before nodding over to where Nick was sitting at a table, not even bothering to line up since he wouldn't be able to leave anyway. Dawn followed her gaze and scowled.

"I mean... I know you- we- don't like him," Judy quickly said. "But... I mean, c'mon Dawn, look at him. He doesn't look happy."

Dawn looked confused.
"What are you talking about?"

Judy tapped her finger on the desk impatiently. "He looks sad."

"He doesn't look anything but smug, Judy. Are we looking at the same person?"

The bell rang before Judy could answer and Dawn shrugged before jumping up. "I'll call you later, or something. See you tomorrow!"

Judy gave a half-hearted wave before turning back to Nick.

Yeah- he looked smug on the outside. His eyelids were half-closed, completely relaxed. He had a confident aura about him. His mouth was in a half-smirk. Looking at a book. But the little things- like the way his eyes weren't really reading, and the way the smile didn't reach his eyes.

Smug.

In fact, now that Dawn had mentioned it, with every passing second, Judy could only see the smirk, the haughtiness of it. She could only see what she had seen before. Honestly, the entire 'sadness' thing might've just been her imagination.

Huh.

--

"Today I need you two both to wash out brushes. When you're done just stick them in the box by the pottery wall, okay?" Mr. Clawhauser prompted. "I have to leave early for a doctor's appointment so I'm only going to make you two go until quarter-to."

Judy decided in that moment that she hated whoever refused to wash out the paintbrushes after they used them. Especially when they were using glue. Or acrylics. Okay, not acrylics... that might've been her a few days ago...

They both stood there dumbly before Mr. Clawhauser ushered them away. "Get to it! Go!"

With a groan, they were walking to the back of the room, pulling up a chair, and washing out the paint and glue and grime from the brushes. Some of them really were lost causes- one didn't even have half of the bristles. What good was that?

They could easily talk without Mr. Clawhauser overhearing, since the room was rather big and the art teacher was sitting at his desk up at the front, but nothing like the yelling they had been doing last time.

Finally Judy decided, what the hell, she was going to break some boundaries.
At this point, anything would be better than the thick, awkward silence.

"Hi..." She started off carefully. Judy ended up dragging the word on because she couldn't think of a single reason why this was a good idea. Not one.

Nick looked slightly surprised. He turned from her back to the sink before answering. "Hey."

Great.

She nervously started tapping her foot. She raked her brain for something, anything to say, but found nothing, her mind drawing a blank as she vacantly rinsed out the bristles of a smaller brush. Her feelings were far too mixed to say anything remotely nice, but she didn't want to find herself in another argument. If she was to be stuck in detention with Nick for a long time, they'd have to be somewhat civil.

Judy finally swallowed and spoke.
"How has your day been?"

He snorted.

He actually fucking snorted.

Immediately Judy's expression turned sour, and she whirled to glare at his amused expression. "Hey, listen here, I'm trying!" Her voice was a harsh whisper, careful not to disturb Mr. Clawhauser.

Nick dipped his head, still grinning like a maniac. "I'm not mocking you, ha- I swear..." His shoulders shook with barely-concealed laughter. "But really? You're going with the whole, 'How has your day been?' kinda chat? Because do you even care how my day has gone?"

Judy paused. His tone was slightly snarky, yes, but it really wasn't aggressive. If anything... if anything... it sounded like he...

Nevermind.

"Well, how about you start the conversation, yeah?" She snapped back, although instead of angry, all she felt was a tidbit irritated.

Nick smirked. "Alright, shorty. What's your favorite color?"

"What? And that question is better then mine?"

"Just answer."

Judy huffed impatiently and scrubbed at a cluster of dried glue. "It's blue."

There was another long silence where all that could be heard was the rushing water from the sinks and the scratching noise of bristles on the brush soap. Finally Nick looked up. "Why?"

"Why what?"

He shrugged. "Why is it your favorite?"

Judy was surprised he had asked. That wasn't a common question. Finally she gave a soft smile. "I like it because it can be soft or hard, pale or electric, relaxing or something to fear. It's unexpected. It effects people differently. Plus, I've always wanted to dye my hair bright blue," She added, blushing.

Nick wrinkled his nose and laughed. "No way. Your hair is already pretty unique."

"It's gray," She whined, but she laughed too.

"It works on you," Nick said, rolling his eyes. Judy wasn't sure if he was kidding or not.

After the moment of laughter died away, Judy sat up. "What's yours? I'm guessing red or orange, going by your hair?"

She glanced up at him just as he responded. "Nah, not really. I like green."

"Why?"

"'Cause."

Judy frowned at the response. "Wait- no, really, why?"

Nick just shrugged again and Judy felt the irritation start to fester inside of her again. She had just told him something- alright, not that personal- about herself and he refused to talk about his favorite color. Hadn't they just had a bit of fun? Weren't they both just laughing? Why did he have to be so difficult?!

After what seemed like an eternity of tension, Mr. Clawhauser told them that they could start cleaning up and leave in five minutes. Judy gathered up the paintbrushes and walked over to put them in the box on the shelf by the pottery, just as instructed.

Nick followed her, looking like he was about to help- which only made Judy angrier, because she might be short, but she wasn't that short. She reached up to set it down and instead tripped backwards.

Fell sideways.

Crashed into one of the pots.

Stumbled back onto her feet and watched in horror as it fell.

Down, down, down.

The sound of clay shattering against the tiles made her suck in a quick breath. She looked up at Nick, who was standing only a foot away, looking just as startled. Anxious, Judy turned to Mr. Clawhauser.

His normally-chirpy self looked... angry.

Judy closed her eyes for a moment before stuttering out, "I'm... so, so sor-"

"Sorry- I didn't mean to."

Judy's eyes flew open as Nick cut her off. He was standing slightly in front of her, so she couldn't see his expression, but she could see Mr. Clawhauser's. And the smashed artifact on the floor.

Nick continued without hesitation. "I guess I just... wasn't paying attention, sir."

Wait- what? Judy felt the air leave her lungs once again as she realized what was going on. She looked around in bewilderment as Mr. Clawhauser slowly walked forward. "Nick..." The teacher started off, obviously trying to remain as calm as possible.

"I'm sorry." Nick repeated.

There was a pregnant moment before the teacher motioned for Judy to leave. "You can go, Judy, thank you for working hard. I'll see you tomorrow."

Judy froze.

She couldn't... she couldn't just... leave!

But Nick was already giving her a slight push out the door.

With yet another stumble, Judy walked into the hallway- completely devoid of any teachers and students- and walked to the wall before sitting down. She decided firmly that she could wait until Nick came out and then ask him why the hell he did that.

Why the hell he did that.

Because why?!

So she sat there, right outside the door, and waited for Nick to emerge. For ten long minutes, she sat, for ten long minutes, she wondered what sort of punishment Nick would get himself into. All for her.

And when the ten long minutes were up, and Nick slowly came walking out the door, Judy sprang up.

Nick startled and looked surprised that she had waited. "What're you still doing here?"

She shook, although she wasn't quite sure why. "I was waiting for you! What the hell was that?"

"Language, shorty."

"Stop- stop changing the subject!" She cried. "Why did you do that? I'm the one who broke it!"

Nick looked bored- and if Judy wasn't so good at reading people, she would've actually bought the act. Instead she saw right through it, although she wasn't quite sure what was hiding underneath. It was something, at least.

He sneered. "Don't think I did it for you. Believe whatever Dawn says about me or not- I didn't do it for you. Now, I've got places to be."

Before she could say another thing, Nick was taking off down the hall, just as he had the day before.

She was too shocked to try and follow.

--

Pronk seemed to notice how off her game Judy was that day. They were still driving back to the flat in the car, and not a word had been spoken.

Eventually they were pulling up to the parking location, getting out, and walking up the stairs. Pronk wrapped one lanky arm around her and squeezed her in a side-hug. It was awkward, but Judy didn't care and soon Pronk was basically dragging her onto the couch.

Bucky looked around the corner from the kitchen and bit his lip at the sight. "Tissues, ice-cream, television?" He suggested lightly, noticing the atmosphere at once. Pronk gave him a nod and mouthed, 'Thank you'.

When she was offered a blanket Judy just pushed it aside. She felt something in her stomach. It wasn't quite guilt.

"Do you wanna talk about it, little lady?" Pronk asked after a moment, muting the TV and handing her a bowl of the cherry-choco-chip ice cream. He and Bucky slowly sat down on the other end of the couch.

Judy just took a deep breath.

"I think I was wrong about Nick," She forced out shakily.

Chapter Text

"What do you mean?" Bucky asked, although his voice was quieter than usual.

Judy was completely mortified that she was crying about this- because all along, she had really known that this was coming, one way or another. Still, the tears came, and she had to push away the bowl of ice-cream so she didn't get it all slobbery.
"I think... it..." She swallowed heavily, but the knot in her throat didn't go down.

She took a deep breath and quickly wiped away the tears, even if she knew that Bucky and Pronk would never judge her for it. (Never out-loud, anyway.) "In detention, I messed up, I broke this pottery thing- all because I had been so set on proving that I didn't need help- and..." She trailed off for a moment, until Pronk nudged her slightly.

"What happened?"

"Nick acted like he had done it." Judy said softly. "I mean- we had been getting along better, I guess... awkward stuff, like talking about our favorite colors- at least I did- but we still weren't on the best of terms. I was still angry, he still didn't like me... but he didn't even think twice, he just went right ahead."

Pronk and Bucky shared a look.
Finally Pronk scooted over and slowly put an arm around her shoulder. "What did... what'd the punk say afterwards?"

"He kept cutting me off, he- he told me he 'didn't do it for me', or whatever."

Bucky frowned. "Well, Jesus, who the hell did he do it for, then?!" But her cousin shut up after Pronk whacked him on the head. "He was lying, dimwit. Of course it was for her."

"Well, pardon me for thinking that he was being honest! God-"

"Well pardon me for having common sense when it comes to feelings!"

"Judy doesn't need us arguing right now! She's had a rough day, she probably needs to keep talking about it, so shut up!"

"You're the one who is still talking!"

"You just talked, idiot!"

Judy couldn't keep in the amused snort and the watery smile of affection.

--

"My house?"

Judy cringed. "Sorry! Is that a bad idea? I just... I'm living with my cousin right now, in his flat. I guess we could ask Sandra or someone else if we could come to their place..."

"No, my place will work. I just..." Elle's voice fumbled, which was extremely rare for her. She was always so confident. "I don't want to be that person, Judy. My parents are very successful and we are very lucky to have a big home and lots of things..."

On the other side of the phone, Judy's eyebrows went up. So Judy was embarrassed about a small place, and Elle was embarrassed about her big place. It was common knowledge that Elle was rich- Judy didn't mean to judge, but anyone with eyes could see that- but Judy would never quite know what it was like. Sure, her family had always been luckier than some, especially with so many kids. They had never run out of food. The worst she'd seen was four kids sharing one room.

Bad memories.

"Oh- it's fine, Elle! We're all different, that's what this is about! If it works, though, that'll be great."

"Then I'll see you tomorrow! Everyone who is coming can walk home with me."

"Perfect, thanks, Ellie!" Judy said, ringing out the nickname. "I'll get a group chat going so everyone knows when and where."

"Bye!"

--

From: JudeTheDude
Precipitants: Sandra11, FruitFruit, californiasunset175534, SLOW_MO, babybelldawn, GazElle, 2young2die2day

JudeTheDude: This is Judy, about the sleepover thing :) it's going to be at Elle's house tomorrow, just walk home with her if you can come! bring whatever you need to school and keep it in your locker

californiasunset175534: stephanie here

2young2die2day: Jamie. Do we need to bring sleeping bags???

FruitFruit: and snacks

GazElle: I've got snacks at my house and lots of blankets, no worries!! <3

FruitFruit: k

babybelldawn: See you all there. I'm bringing movies, deal with it~

SLOW_MO: we have to walk?? how far is ur house :'(

GazElle: Not far, Priscilla, haha

californiasunset175534: Okay, stop talking, I'm trying to sleep

--

Judy turned off her phone and walked back to her desk. In the background, Pronk and Bucky were still bickering wildly, although it had turned from a serious topic into one about caramel corn. (Which, according to Bucky, was very serious.)

The sleepover sounded fun. It would be the first 'party' type thing that year.

She charged her phone and turned back to her bed, but she accidentally pushed over a paper on the way. She picked it up.

Yellowish.

Art assignment.

Judy groaned at the sight of it and set it back down, but she couldn't peel her eyes away.
"Fox-"

She tilted her head at the drawing. A rabbit, a fox, both fighting, neither losing, neither winning. A pointless battle that would carry on until one or the other- or both,- fell from exhaustion. Huh.

"Don't think I did it for you."

Nick really was something else, that was for sure. She didn't know what to make of him. At one moment, he is being friendly, then he gets secretive, and the next thing you know, he's taking all the blame... shortly followed by him getting sarcastic and snarky, once again. Bipolar, much.

"He doesn't look anything but smug, Judy. Are we looking at the same person?"

Judy carefully smoothed out the paper and set it next to her phone. Right. Sleep first, then the party, and then she could worry as much as she wanted to about the complicated freakshow that was Nicholas.

--

"Rise and frickin' shine, short-stuff."

Judy blinked up and immediately jumped backwards, startling as Bucky's face grinned down at her. It was still dark outside.

"What're... what?" She rubbed at her eyes angrily. Bucky looked like a psychopath.

"Come see, but be quiet."

With a moan of exasperation, Judy slid her feet to the ground and pulled herself off the bed, following Bucky's lead as he led her to the other bedroom. "Shh," He whispered, turning to her. She blinked in confusion but when Bucky flicked on the lights, it all made sense.

No.

No, it did not make sense. It made no sense whatsoever.

Pronk was still snoring loudly, asleep, but with the lights on, it could be seen that Bucky had taken the time to make at least fifty-seven containers of caramel corn, lay them out all over the floor- leaving absolutely no room to walk- but not before drawing a sharpie-mustache on Pronk's face.

Unimpressed, Judy looked back to her cousin. "First of all, this makes no sense. Secondly, what are you, five?"

Bucky pouted. "Aw, c'mon, Judy. This is hilarious. He tells me how horrible caramel corn is? Well, there you go! Sixty containers of it, right there. And I drew on his face." Judy rolled her eyes. "I can see that, Bucky. What's the point?"

"...irony?"

"How the hell is this ironic?"

Bucky just shrugged, giving a dramatic sigh. "My artwork is unappreciated."

Yawning, Judy flipped off the light and headed back to the kitchen. "Don't you guys ever work? Have a job? Anything?" Bucky followed her, still grinning wickedly. "Define 'job'." Judy just shook her head. "Never mind, you dork."

"Are you making coffee?"

"Do I ever not make coffee?"

"You know, I'm the one who gives you this lovely place to stay at?" Bucky asked innocently.

Judy took a deep breath and then sighed. "Coming right up."

--

The meetup at her locker was fun. They had a good ten minutes before the bell to class rang, and so far, so good.

Jamie, Dawn, Elle, Fru Fru, Priscilla, Sandra, and Stephanie. It was her first time ever actually meeting four of the girls, and they gave off pretty strong first-impressions. Priscilla knew everything about anything when it came to accountant work. She also happened to be short, which Judy appreciated, as well as quiet and slightly awkward. She was also a total nerd; the only exciting thing about her, really, was the pink streak in her hair.

"I did it for a boy..." She'd admitted sheepishly.

Fru Fru was tiny. Tinier than Judy, tinier than even Dawn- although her hair was probably making up for half of her height. She was the diva, really. Fashionista, call it what you will. She smacked bubblegum in her mouth and talked endlessly about shopping. And of course she was pretty, but she was also pretty shallow.

It appeared that Elle had found the most stereotypical girls in the school.

Jamie and Stephanie were twins. Both redheads, both catholic, both extremely, extremely good at the violin. And although at first Judy had assumed- and really, when had that gone right for her- that they acted like it, too, and that they were going to be the generic 'religious, violinist, good-girl' type, they proved her wrong.

Apparently they only acted like it when their parents were around. But when their parents weren't around, they were chaos. Jamie was a complete nutjob, who was constantly threatening death upon everyone, and Stephanie was...

Well, Stephanie was the type who went to Mr. Yax's class during study hall for yoga.

Yeah, that summarized her pretty well.

They discussed the party and what they would do until the five-minute bell rang, and they all scattered off to their own classes.

--

"What's going on with you and Nick?"

Judy choked.

After a moment of Judy catching her breath, regaining her composure, and finally looking back up to her partner, she managed to wheeze out, "What?!"

Elle smirked. "You and Nick. The redhead, over there. Dawn complains about him all the time."

"What about him?"

"You two are always looking at each other. Sandra said you guys have detention together because you were talking too much in History."

With an irritated huff, Judy sat back up to continue doing the start-off sit ups. "First of all, we are not always looking at each other. We hate each other. And it's Art, not History, and we were arguing, not talking."

Elle nodded. "Alright. Although if you two are talking, I think it's nice. I've been in the same school as Nick since I was seven; his family life isn't so great. My mom used to be good friends with his mom, but one day my mom told me that they stopped talking. Apparently they live on the west side of the school."

Judy frowned, stopping her warm up.
"What's special about the west side?"

"It's kind of ghetto. A decade or so back, there was a shooting in the neighborhood, and most of the wealthy people moved out because they were afraid. Now everyone who lives there is pretty poor."

"Even Nick?"

"I'm just guessing," Elle said, shaking her head slightly. "We never talked much, even when both our mothers got along. All I know is that he lives in the area. I'm just glad that you're talking to him, if you hate him or not. I know that you won't have detention on Friday, but if you see him afterwards, you should tell him I said hi."

--

"Leodore is so irritating!"

Judy didn't even find it irritating, at the moment. Dawn's insistent babbling was the one thing keeping her mind from wandering too far, even as she was drawing.

"Why don't you two just break up?"

"He's my boyfriend, Judy!"

"I thought that was the problem!"

The assignment had been to use watercolors to draw what 'home' was to you. Again, like most of the idiots in the class, everyone was doing a simple painting of their houses. Dawn had been too busy talking about Leodore to even get started.

Judy wasn't painting her old home in the burrow, though. She felt much more drawn to the fact that now, the flat was her home. So she was drawing Bucky, Pronk, and herself on the couch, surrounded by ice-cream containers and blankets. It was getting a bit watery and smudged, because it was so detailed, but she didn't really mind.

"I can't wait for the party tonight," Dawn said, switching the subject. "I heard that Elle's house is basically a mansion, and that she has a pool, and an inside tennis court. How crazy is that?"

"Pretty crazy," Judy said, not unkindly, but most definitely halfheartedly.

When the bell to go rang and everyone started crowding the doorway, Judy hopped over to where Nick was cleaning up. "Hey," She said. He looked up and then gave an amused smirk.
"What do you want, Miss Blue?"

"First of all, I wanted to tell you... um, thank you. For standing up for me, when you didn't have to." Before Nick could interject, which Judy could tell he was going to, she continued. "And secondly, Elle wanted me to say hi for her, since you two haven't talked in a while."

Nick chewed on his lip. Nervous habit. "Oh." His expression shifted into a grin. "Oh, right, Elle. Nice girl. Sounds like all of your friends talk about me, huh?"

Judy blushed and scowled. "Oh, please."

"Well, thanks for passing on the message and everything, Judy Moody, but I have to go."

Judy watched him rush off with pursed lips, before turning to the door and walking to the opposite hallway. Nick had places to go, but so did she. She was supposed to meetup with the group by her locker after school ended.

Elle was waiting for her, along with the rest of them.

"Sorry I'm late," Judy said quickly. Stephanie and Jamie laughed it off. "Usually we're the late ones, Judy!" They chirped in unison. Judy smiled dryly at that, only a little bit creeped out by the twin-telepathy.

Elle smiled. "Everyone ready to go?"

The group nodded and they set off.