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Smitten Fox, Feisty Bunny

Chapter Text

The bell by the door jingled. Nick, out of habit, looked at the entrance to greet the new customer. Which to his surprise, was a little grey rabbit. Judy, seemingly unfazed that she was the only small prey in the pub, walked straight to the bar and hopped onto a stool.

“Glass of beer, please.” She drearily waved her paw for the fox’s attention.

“Ya sure you don’t want those fancy carrot martinis instead, Fluff?” The bartender smirked.

The bunny scoffed. “Listen, I’ve been through this before alright? I order a beer, you suggest I order something ‘cutesy’ or ‘more fit for a tiny prey’ and then you say some other patronizing thing, maybe even suggest I get a light beer, but then I roll my eyes and still order a beer.” She passively rested her chin on her paw, “In the end, I’ll be sitting here, drinking the glass of beer you brought me. So let’s cut the chit chat and get me my beer okay?”

The fox chuckled in amusement. He’s never been near a bunny before, but if they were all feisty like her, maybe he’d hang out with them more, he doubts it though. Even though they’re evolved, foxes and bunnies don’t usually get along, something about being natural enemies or whatever. So he gets her a glass of beer but not without adding a carrot garnish first, just to spite her.

“Here ya go, Carrots.” He smugly placed the glass in front of her, making sure she saw his artful piece of garnish.

The bunny flicked the carrot stick towards him, landing on his forehead and rolling off his muzzle. “Oh boy, a beer and a free side of snide? Must be my lucky day.” And with that she returned to scrolling on her phone, never looking back his way.

Nick, on the other hand, couldn’t stop stealing glances at the feisty little rabbit that rendered him speechless. She had opened a folder and was busily writing stuff down while searching something on her phone. Nick leaned back on a counter and decided to read her. Being an ex con-mammal, he was really good at figuring out other mammals. She was obviously feisty and witty – anybody who heard their banter could infer that – but she was also very hardworking. Based on how she went to a pub alone, didn’t socialize with the other mammals, was quick to end their conversation, and dressed in a boring pink flannel shirt and blue jeans, Nick could tell that she’s spent a good part of her life working hard to achieve something, neglecting to care about the normal things mammals usually worried about. Nick was already coming up with ideas to con her to stop working and talk to him again when he heard someone else talking to her. He inched over to see a lynx sitting too closely next to her.

“What’s a cute little bunny like you doing here alone?” The lynx lightly dragged a claw down one of Judy’s flopped ears. “What’s the matter? Not having fun? Come with me to my place and I’ll show you a real good time.” He purred, his entire paw now caressing both of her ears.

Nick was ready to pounce the lynx right then and there but stopped when Judy stood up on her stool and looked at the lynx straight in the eye. She grabbed his paw and twisted it off of her ears. The lynx winced in pain.

“First of all, don’t call me cute. Secondly, I don’t need a shifty low-life like you to tell me what to do.” She packed her stuff and hopped off the bar stool. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a life to get back to.”

As she passed him, the lynx grabbed her by her ears and raised her to his face. “What? A bunny refusing to get into bed? Don’t act so high and mighty, you dirty slut! Don’t forget, you’re just a dumb bunny! Good for nothing but se – AARRGHH!”

He dropped Judy as Nick’s clenched paw connected with his jaw. The lynx retaliated and jabbed Nick in the gut, and then swung his other fist and punched him in the cheek. Nick stumbled back but regained enough composure to try and throw in a few more punches. He missed the lynx completely and was soon straddled by him, repeatedly being punched in the muzzle. Then, a grey blur flashed to the side of Nick’s vision and two large grey paws landed on the side of the lynx face, sending him flying off of the fox’s body. Judy straightened her shirt and walked towards the unconscious lynx and checked for a pulse. After being satisfied, she went back to Nick and helped him up.

She grimaced at the sight of Nick’s bruised and bloody face. “Oh sweet cheese and crackers! I need to get you to a hospital!” she said, wrapping her arm around his waist as best she could. Nick stiffened (at the touch of her paw or at the word ‘hospital’, he wasn’t sure), “No thanks, Carrots. I’m quite fine, see.” He forced a toothy and rather goofy smile at her.

She laughed at the odd sight but insisted. “No, you’re not fine. Your nose is dripping blood like a faucet and your eye is turning blue like a blueberry!” She placed her other paw on his arm, slowly guiding him out of the pub. “Come on, Slick. I’m not leaving you until you go to the hospital.”

Nick suggestively raised an eyebrow at her, “You can stay by my side for as long as you want, Sweetheart – OW!”

Judy punched Nick lightly in the arm. “You saw what I did to that lynx, don’t make me do it to you.”

Nick straightened. “Yes ma’am!” Once they were out of the pub, he stopped and looked at her. “Seriously though, Carrots. I don’t want to go to the hospital.”

Judy could see the fear and desperation in his eyes as he pleaded. Whatever reason he has, it seemed important, so she decided not to push him. “Alright. Then do you have a First Aid kit at home?”

“Umm…Does Vodka and a few dirty rags count?” He joked.

Judy rolled her eyes. “Nope. I guess you’re coming home with me.”

“Woah there Carrots, buy me dinner first – OW!”

Another jab from the ferocious bunny and Nick was quiet the rest of the walk home.

Chapter Text

“Oh my god, Carrots, how did you do that?” Nick was seated on the edge of Judy’s bed while she was on her desk preparing her First Aid kit.

“Do what?” Judy said.

“Beat that lynx up! I mean, I was almost his size and a predator, yet he still managed to fuck me up.” He gestured to his black eye. “But you, all you did was kick his face and boom! He went flying off of me – unconscious!”

Judy walked towards him and stood between his legs. Nick was still rambling about how badass he thought she was when she reached up, grabbed both sides of his muzzle, and gently shook his head. “Shhh! Stay put will you?”

Nick’s breathing hitched as he realized how close they were. Their noses only inches apart, his vision flooded by crystalline violet. They were so close that he was submerged in her scent. A mixture of sweet grass, fragrant flowers, and the freshness of a cool breeze. He closed his eyes and took another breath, she smelled like the meadow Nick thought. One more breath and suddenly Nick was a pup again, running and laughing while being chased by his father. His mother sat at a nearby tree, watching her life weave through the tall grass as she laced flowers into a crown.

The smell of antiseptic wafted up his nose, breaking his daze.

“You okay?” Judy gave him a small smile as she lightly dabbed a soaked cotton pad on his forehead. “This will sting a little, but it’ll prevent infection.”

Nick grimaced and clutched her bed sheets as the throbbing pain reverberated around his entire head.

“Oh you big baby.” Judy snickered. She put her paws back on his muzzle and tiptoed so her lips were directly across the wound on his forehead. She blew a slow stream of cold air as Nick relaxed and wrapped his arms around her waist. Judy stopped.

Nick let go of her waist and dropped his arms to his side. “I-I’m sorry! It’s just, my mom used to do that when I was little. It’s an old habit I guess…” Nick trailed off as Judy ruffled the fur on top of his head and let out a nervous laugh.

 “No big deal, Slick. Uh, just surprised me.” She finished cleaning and patching up the cuts on his face in silence. Much to Nick’s dismay, Judy no longer blew on any of them.

When she was done, Judy moved back to the chair by her desk and swiveled it to face him. Her eyes darted from wound to wound. After a short while of awkward glances, Judy spoke.

“Hey.”

“Hey, back.” He smirked.

“Listen, sorry for being a little rude to you earlier. And thanks… for standing up for me. Even though all you did was get beaten up.” She teased.

“Aww, well it’s the least I could do for the girl who’s secretly into me.” He winked.

Judy laughed and rolled her eyes. “Are you kidding? I’m the one secretly into you? I noticed you eyeing me earlier at the pub you know.”

“Does nothing ever get through you?”

“Nope.” She shook her head. Ears lightly flopping from side to side. “Just part of being a cop I guess.”

“A cop?” Nick tumbled onto her bed, hysterically laughing. “Right. And I’m the manager of a soup kitchen.” He said sarcastically.

Judy drew her badge from her pocket and tossed it to Nick. “Officer Judy Hopps of the ZPD.”

“Oh my god, Carrots. You must be the cu-” Judy glared at him. “Uh, most adorable cop ever!” he continued to laugh, tears spilling from the corners of his eyes.

Judy moved from her chair to the bed, taking back her badge from his paw. “Alright, alright. That’s enough. I get mocked enough at the precinct already. I don’t need more from you.”

Judy can still hear the snickers and whispers she got on her first day with excruciating detail. She tried to be optimistic, tried to fit in. Heck, she even exceeded Bogo’s expectations when he assigned her to give 100 tickets as a meter maid. She figured if she continued to work hard and looked at the bright side, things would finally go her way. But nine months later and Judy is still a Damn. Fucking. Meter Maid.

It wasn’t as bad as before though. From time to time, Bogo would give her minor cases that the ‘big guys’ were too busy (or sometimes too dumb) to solve. Judy, graduating top of her class, managed to catch all of the incognito convenience store thieves, rebellious teens, and swindling con-mammals in less time than her bigger colleagues could even figure out where to start. Still, it was never enough to get her much deserved promotion.

A month ago, Bogo had given her a cold case about a con artist scamming desperate mammals in various ways, but all leading to him getting a humungous load of cash, while the unsuspecting victims were left poorer than when they met the clever hustler. There were no leads except for an alias, Wil Denick, and the last sign of activity was reported years ago.

She knew Bogo had set her up for failure, and this time, no amount of hard work or optimism could save her. That afternoon, before heading to the pub, Judy returned the case to Bogo, admitting that she was incapable of solving it. He gave her a disapproving look, made a few demeaning remarks, and said she would have been fired long ago if it weren’t for Lionheart’s mammal inclusion initiative. To top things off, he assigned her to issue 500 tickets the following day.

Great. So much for the promotion. She thought.

Judy slumped beside a sprawled and still cackling Nick. “You’re right.” She sighed. “A bunny cop. Pathetic huh? I’m pathetic.”

Nick sat up and looked at her. No trace of amusement left whatsoever. “Oh Carrots, I didn’t mean-”

“A couple of months ago, I’d protest against you. I’d pretend I actually matter and that I’m actually making the world a better place.” She laughed dryly. “But you’re right. I’m ridiculous! My chief treats me like some token bunny. I’m nothing but a meter maid!” Her voice started to waver, tears threatening to fall.

Nick inched a little closer. “Carrots… Judy, can I tell you something?” He didn’t wait for a reply though. Instead, he proceeded to soothe her, placing a paw around the shoulder closest to him and rubbing small circles in her fur with his padded thumb. “When I was a kit, I got bullied a lot. There weren’t a lot of foxes where we lived and I was the only fox kit in school.” Nick ran his paw to her other shoulder so that his arm was entirely around her. Judy stiffened for a second but leaned into his side, grateful for the comfort. “They called me shifty, untrustworthy, conniving, and basically every other derogatory, stereotypical term you can call a fox. Because of this, I couldn’t make any real friends.”

Real?”

“Well, there was this group of prey kits. They were actually nice to me. Even let me join their little club during recess. But one day, when we were under the slide of the jungle gym, they told me they couldn’t really be friends with a sly fox. So two of them held me down while the other put” he paused, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath, “He put a muzzle on me and called everyone to watch and ridicule me.”

“I’m so sorry.” She whispered, placing a paw on Nick’s leg. “What happened next?”

“I figured if that’s what they saw me as, then that’s what I’ll give them. They refused to see beyond my species so why should I bother trying? I went home that afternoon acting all cool and distant. My dad immediately caught on.” He chuckled lightly. “I told him what had happened, the things they called me, and how I would prove them right. My dad shook his head and told me that I should prove them wrong. Show them that a fox can be as gentle and trusting as any prey.” Nick did his best impression of an authoritative yet compassionate voice. “‘Never let them see that they get to you, son. Keep being who you are, don’t let them change you.’ he said.”

“Your father seems like a great mammal.” she beamed.

“He was.”

Judy further nestled into his shoulder and took his other paw into both of her own, delicately stroking his knuckles.

“He died when I was twelve.” They were silent for a long moment. Ears flooded only by the sound of their gentle breathing.

She didn’t respond. He didn’t need her to. Her gentle paw on his, the way she was comfortable in his arms, that was good enough for him.

With that, he realized that she got to him, whether he allowed it or not. He knew that she could see right through his façade of jokes and lies. He knew that she could see him. Not the snarky bartender, not the cool, sly fox, but him - the one who admired his father, the one who kept a certain luminosity for him,

the one who had to put out that same light to protect his mother.

So he wrapped his arm tighter around her, clinging onto her as if she’s the only thing keeping him from getting lost in the heavy fog the recollection of his past brought upon them.

“What,” Judy asked, fully invested, “What happened after that? I mean…what about your mom? And – no offense – but you are giving off the whole, cold, conniving, stereotypical fox vibe. So, did your dad’s advice not work?”

“Pace your questions, Carrots. I know I’m irresistibly handsome and mysterious, but you gotta play harder to get.” He joked.

She nudged her elbow to his side. “Har-har.”

Judy didn’t expect him to answer. Which was okay, because she didn’t want to push him to reveal any more than what he wanted to. But Nick wanted to tell her everything. He wanted her to understand him. So, to Judy’s surprise, Nick continued to tell his story.

“Hmm, okay let’s see.” He pretended to think hard, rubbing two of his fingers under the jaw of his muzzle. “My mom lives in a nice, cozy apartment in Tundratown – she makes the best blueberry pie, by the way. And if you play your cards right, I just might take you there to meet her someday.” He lightly pressed his side into hers and snickered as the inside of her ears turned red.

Judy crossed her brows at him and looked away, unable to subside the weird queasy feeling brought on by the prospect of being in a close enough relationship with Nick that he can take her to meet his mother.

But Nick only pulled her closer and continued to reminisce about a past he has long buried in nonchalance and cynicism. He told her about his dad, how he was the kindest mammal he has ever met. He told her about how he would always be in the dingy basement of the tailor shop, working hard to satisfy every one of his customers. He told her of the day they found out he had lung cancer. Of the day when his strong and perfect father fell to the floor wheezing, coughing up blood. He told her of the day when his simple, happy life became muddled with endless hospital visits and endless tears as he and his mother watched his father’s life slowly slip away from his once vibrant fur and turgid physique. Nick recalls of how vividly he could remember the distant beeps of various equipment, the sharp scent of disinfectants mixed with the bitterness of medication, and the daunting white walls that reflect the cold bright lights.

“Is that why you didn’t want to go to the hospital?” she said softly.

“Whenever I see one, it all comes rushing back to me, Fluff.”

“We don’t have to talk about this, we can talk about something else if you want.” She began to stand up, mentally punishing herself for always being too curious to the point that it could be insensitive. But Nick continued to hold her securely, not wanting to let go.

“No, stay. I think I need this, you know? I need you.” Nick looked at her for any signs of discomfort. He saw her look away and felt her tense up. “I, uh, I mean, I need someone to listen. For closure. Please?”

As a response, she relaxed back into his shoulder, though her eyes were still fixated down to her feet. Whatever new and exciting feeling rumbled in her stomach, she had decided to push it down and lock it up.

“Alright so, where were we?” he asked.

“Uhm, you were about to explain how you went from rainbows and sunshine to, well, that.” She gestured at Nick and scrunched her nose, pretending to disapprove of him.

He chuckled at her expression and picked up where he left off.   

“When my dad died, his hospital and funeral bills left my mother in a lot of debt. Her wage as a waitress was not nearly enough to pay for our debts and all our needs so I had to grow up and help my mom. But no one wanted to hire an adolescent fox kit - thinking he’d be nothing but trouble - so I had to, uh, get creative with earning money, most of which required my ever-so-sexy-bad-boy sly fox demeanor.” He sat a little straighter and his smile became smugger.

Judy giggled at his absurdity – and definitely not because she was giddy by how attractive he looked right then. Nope, not at all. Absolutely not.

“By the time I graduated high school, we were able to pay our debts and live comfortably. I still kept the odd jobs though, for some extra cash.” Nick looked away, hoping Judy wouldn’t press on about his possibly illegal (sometimes actually illegal) ‘odd jobs’.

“And that cunning mask of yours stuck around, huh?”

“Yep.” He said, popping the ‘P’.

“Too bad,” she said playfully, “I would have loved to see you all bright eyed and bushy tailed.”

“Oh, is that so?” He leaned closer, his practiced smirk plastered on his face. “Well, I know of a certain Officer who has a contagious amount of energy. So maybe if she lets me stick around long enough – ”

Judy gave him a sheepish smile and lightly swatted at his too-close snout. “I am not that energetic.” She defended.

“Are too.”

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

“Am not!” She bolted from her bed, furiously thumping her foot.

“Ha! See! You’re making it too easy, Carrots.”

Judy huffed and crossed her arms. Her whole bed vibrated from her thumping foot.

Nick took the chance to tickle her then. Pinning her beneath him as his paws vigorously scratched her sides.

“W-what. Are. Y-you. Doing?! S-st-stop. Pleease!” she managed to let out in between breathless laughs.

“Decompressing your energy to manageable levels. Wouldn’t want ya to break your bed. Or worse, drill a hole down your neighbour’s ceiling with that thumper of yours.” In truth, Nick had found the furious little bunny to be too cute and couldn’t resist tickling her.

Judy retorted by placing her large feet onto his chest and quickly flipped their positions so that she was on top of him. She returned his touches by tickling the length of his neck. “I am trained to take down the biggest of mammals! You think I’d let a measly fox take charge of me?”

Nick’s laughter reverberated throughout her apartment and Judy joined in, forgetting the heavy atmosphere their previous conversation had set.  

When their rumbling laughter had died down, Nick sat up and looked at her thoughtfully. “Listen, Fluff. We may have gotten a little carried away, but the whole point of my sob story is to tell you that no matter what you think or what your colleagues say, you’re a really good cop.”

Judy sat beside him and gave him a half-hearted smile.

“I’m serious.” He said. “You managed to defend us from that lynx and you let a stranger into your home so you could treat his wounds! You’re amazing. Never let them change that determined fuzzy wuzzy wittle cottontail of yours.”

“Never let them see that they get to you.” She quoted.

“Never let them see that they get to you.” He repeated.

“Hmm.” She said, pretending to think hard. “Ironic. You, Mister I-Don’t-Let-Anybody-Get-To-Me, just told some random girl he met at the pub so much about himself.”

“I guess you’re special, Miss Badass-Bunny-Cop.” Nick moved a little closer, his muzzle slowly tilting towards hers.

Before Judy realized what Nick was doing, she gasped. “Oh sweet cheese and crackers! I totally forgot to ask for your name!”

“Maybe you’re not as good of a cop as I thought you were.” He joked. “Nicholas Wilde.” He extended a paw for her to shake.

“Huh. Slick Nick. Suits you.” She teased.

Later, Judy would lecture herself for letting a stranger into her home, cuddling with him, and telling him her deepest worries and concerns. But right now, all she wants is to be with him; savouring the unnatural bond a fox and a bunny has developed.

So they talked some more. Spending hours with their backs against the wall and their sides pressed into one another, laughing, lamenting, and understanding. Conversing about nothing, about anything, and about everything.

When their chatter has faded, and sleep threatened to take over, Nick reluctantly rose from his position.

“Hey Carrots, because I love talking to you, I’ve been holding my pee for the past hour now and I can feel my kidneys dying. Where’s your washroom?”

“Down the hall to the right.”

“Thanks.”

Judy checked her clock. It’s early morning now and she’d have to get ready for work in three hours. She didn’t care though. She didn’t care that she had to face Bogo in the bullpen or that she had a long day of ticket giving ahead of her. She was, for the first time since she got to Zootopia, genuinely happy. She made a mental note of coming to the pub more often after work when something buzzed under the sheets.

She looked around and found Nick’s cell phone with the screen facing up, showing a text from someone named Finnick.

‘Yo Nick! I know you’re retired but I’m in a reeaaally tight spot. Gonna need an appearance from Wil Denick tomorrow night! CALL ME ASAP’

When Nick came back, he was greeted by a tranq gun pointed directly at him, followed by a set of disappointed violet eyes.