It had often been said that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.
Did the other animals look down upon his kind because of who they truly were, or because of who they were thought to be?
No. It isn't true hate. Never was. It's just because I'm different from them... Nick would think to himself.
Personality was a malleable thing, but perception was stone: Shaped only by the harsh weather of expectation. Did those other animals really believe that foxes were nothing more than conniving crooks, or was it the skewed perception of stories and expectations that drove them to believe so? To Nick, it mattered not. His only view on the whole situation was that anyone could believe what they wanted. He went about his days doing exactly what everyone expected him to do. Lie, cheat, steal: Hustle his way into and out of every person's lifestyle, the more gullible the better. The world saw him as just that -what he was - and nothing more. It didn't give him any second chances at all.
Liar. Cheater. Thief. Fox... Often said as if the word left a taste of bitter ashes on the tongue.
He often told himself he was living the dream, when in reality, he was living the expectations of all who saw him as nothing more then what he was - Liar. Cheater. Thief. Fox.
The day his own perspective changed was the day he never thought would come. But it did; And in the most ironic and unexpected way he could have ever dreamed of.
His day was normal: Conning people left and right. Then she showed up.
Despite the fact that her species was supposed to look upon his own as the bane of their existence, she approached him unafraid and eyes full of sympathy and naivety. Those kinds of people were always the easiest to hustle. Always. Their simple and optimistic mindsets made them the perfect target for tricking out of money and time, ultimately giving the hustler more to work with, and a much higher chance of success. And then he met the bunny that would turn his world upside down, and change it so.
Nick could hardly believe a bunny would ever dare join the ZPD. She did. Then again, he could hardly believe he'd ever be able to change his shifty ways. He did. Who did she think she was? Nick almost felt sorry for the bunny, at the time. Her name slid over his ears without much traction, at the time: He didn't care. It was only when he truly realized the error of his ways and the goodness of his heart did her name not only stick to him; But matter, as well. Judy, she had called herself so confidently. Judy Hopps.
He never imagined the day where he would find himself working alongside some bunny. But she marched right into his life with her head held high and her ears even higher. He admired that about her. Standing against her own stereotypes and expectations. If she could bare the brunt of society's violating gaze, then who said he couldn't too?
After an adventure that almost got them both killed many times, Nick started to accept this bunny and her peculiar ideologies into his own life with open arms. He changed his ways, and joined the ZPD alongside his new partner. Together they showed the world that anyone really can be anything. Some time followed before that phrase really started to kick in. Though, the fox did still hear the whispers in the shadows... The threats and taunts of society's most ignorant and blunt. He saw the glances directed toward the two of them as they went about their day. But few ever expressed their distasteful perspective directly to their faces. Over time, more citizens began accepting, and even promoting and partaking in inter-species comradeship. In no time at all, inter-species marriage was fully legalized in the city of Zootopia. With it came a thought...
Throughout his time with Judy, Nick wondered if his relationship was more than just that... More than just some mutual friendship.
More time passed. Marriage between the two ensued eventually. As it turned out, Nick had been right: Their friendship did go beyond the ability to just simply withstand one another. The fox never could have guessed that he would get himself married, especially to someone like Judith Laverne Hopps. The two of them were practically polar opposites, not just personality wise, but biologically wise, for Nick was a fox, and Judy was a bunny.
Simple as that.
Because of that simple fact, society often said that it couldn't work... And even if it could, that it shouldn't work: A prey and predator of two very different species finding love outside the boundaries of their own genus? Forget about it! Such an act had never been done before, or at least publicly. The negative consequences of coming out as an inter-species couple were high: Workplaces shunned, colleagues judged, and the world become less bright of a place.
But in the end, they really did find love: Eachother. In the end, that was all that mattered to them, really.
They may have had their differences, but they were a team, and a really effective one at that. They worked together brilliantly, and after three plus years of jobs on the force together, they wed one-another and became the first inter-species couple to do so in the history of Zootopia. No one could have guessed. Society begun to look to them for a message of companionship: The two of them worked hard to get people to accept them... To accept the fact that times were changing, and that not only could anyone be anything, but that anyone could be with anyone. What the two tiny mammals faced was difficult, but deemed far from bothersome to them. Just another day in the life.
And through it all, it was more than worth it.
Nick heard the soda can sputter and croak as he snapped off its lip. He drank deep from its opening; yet savoring every drop that he tasted. When he was finished, he nonchalantly crushed the can and dropped it at his feet, kicking it beneath the seat of the police cruiser, and earning himself a hard glare from the bunny sitting in the driver's seat.
"Nick! Come on... You're better than that! We can't have our car all trashed up! Our flat is bad enough on its own; Can't have you bringing your filthy habits in here too."
Nick simply gave her a lazy smirk and stared her down with half-lidded eyes. Judy held his gaze for a while before clearing her throat. Nick decided to break the silence.
"You're cute when you're frustrated, you know that right?" He calmly stated. Judy's ears drooped in embarrassment and flattery at his unexpected comment.
"Just pick it up, you lazy bum!" She chided at him with narrowed eyes.
She knew this fox better than anyone, and she knew that he would probably follow it up with another comment. She however was slightly taken back when Nick leaned down and reached for the crumpled canister. He straightened out and tossed the garbage in the air, casually catching it with his other paw before slipping it into one of his pockets.
"Better?" He asked with an innocent look on his face.
"Better." She responded, smiling warmly all the while.
The car was parked in a narrow alley not too far off from the local movie theater. Night-time - 12:47 A.M
The two animals were on a simple patrol - Keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity. After nearly an hour and a half of coherent peacefulness, the two of them began the journey back to the police station's HQ for a quick report with the Chief. The two officers had spent that time talking amongst one another about varying subjects and topics that sprang up and upon their open minds before emptying out into the world in the form of words. Gazelle's latest album, the weather, and even their current moods all stood as viable discussion points. Whatever took away from the ever-encroaching boredom that came with being locked in a police cruiser.
Having known eachother for nearly three years, yet only been married less than three months, conversation came to them as easily as a heated knife moving through a block of butter. Syllables and conversational topics rolled off the tongue with ease and simplicity. Nick and Judy were simple friends as much as they were lovers, and it showed.
Judy kept a watchful eye out for anything that moved as she drove them back to the ZPD head-quarters, Precinct One, in the very heart of Savanna-Central. It was but one of many different and diverse precincts spread throughout the territory of the city, but to them, it was a second home away from home. Currently, they weren't exactly driving in the best part of town, and both Nick and Judy knew that. Stick-ups and assaults and all manner of crime were common place on this particular block. It was one of the few places in the city's main district that wasn't very law-loving. Thankfully, few animals were venturing outside on this windy evening.
As if the thugs and thieves weren't bad enough, the wind certainly was: A sparse few individuals did brave the atmosphere and dangers of the night though.
The bunny spotted a ram with a hat tucked under his arm, struggling against the wind as he walked around. Judy didn't see anything suspicious in him, so she continued onward. Judy saw a hyena in a dark yellow trench-coat with long matted fur, and hair covered in leaves and twigs. Homeless, no doubt. Nick pursed his lips in shame.
The both of them locked eyes for a brief moment before the hyena broke the gaze and started walking away. Judy, with her enhanced hearing, could have sworn she heard the Hyena mumbling something about washing machines as he wondered off into the night. Still she continued driving, keeping her gaze focused on what was ahead of her.
Nick occupied himself by fiddling with his thumbs and picking at his nails. He looked out the window occasionally only to be greeted with the black veil of the night and the dancing of the trees in the wind. He stared at his wife and carefully picked his coming words.
"Hey, Carrots, when we get back to the ZPD, could you go ahead and file the report to Bogo without me?" He asked her, eyes still trained on the horizon.
"Hm? Why not? We're a team you know, don't forget that. Besides, it'd be better if Bogo heard it from both our perspectives, right?"
Nick had a feeling that she'd say something like that: Fortunately for him, he had planned out his words beforehand.
"Right, but it isn't like we saw much out here tonight. The most interesting thing we experienced was that hyena blabbing about home appliances."
He smiled for added effect, and then continued;
"You could give the report to Chief, easy. Besides, I uh, got some stuff of my own to take care of."
Judy quickly swiveled her head and looked Nick in the eye.
"Stuff?" She asked, her voice laced with trace amounts of concern.
Judy had long since caught on to her husband's tricky ways. When he claimed he had stuff to take care of, it could have meant anything from picking up a dry-cleaning to picking a lock on a vacant automobile: One she believed too unimportant to possibly let Nick leave early for, and the other too ridiculous to even think of letting him go for.
"What do you mean by stuff, huh?" She questioned him once more.
Nick scratched irritably at the back of his neck.
"Well... I figured this briefing with Bogo could afford to go on without me. I've got a bit of an important call to make, you see."
Judy wondered who could possibly be worth calling at this ungodly hour and why.
She intended to find out just that. "A call? With who?" She asked.
The fox cleared his throat aloud before answering slowly;
"My dad. I haven't spoken to him in about thirteen years. Just the other day, I found out from my mom that he was in town, and had gotten himself a new phone line, too. I've had no idea where he's been for all these years - I gotta do this."
Judy simply stared at him with fascination. He rarely spoke about his father to her. From what she'd gathered about him thus far, he wasn't exactly a great role model. He'd apparently abandoned Nick and his wife at a young age, for reasons unbeknownst to either of them. From the few times Nick had spoken of his father, it had been with spite and disgust. He despised him for abandoning his family. But still, he had long since desired to speak to him. They had much to discuss, that much Judy agreed upon in full.
"Really, Nick?" Judy asked for clarification. "He's here?"
"Yeah. I don't wanna miss this opportunity, Whiskers. You can drop me off at the station, and I'll walk home, from there. You can tell Bogo that I had some personal matters to attend to. I'm sure he'll spare me." The fox let loose another one of his favorite half-lidded grins. "And I'll take whatever punishment follows, if he's feeling extra moody."
Judy gave some thought to her husband's words. She couldn't say that she was the biggest fan of his plan, but if his father really was available for the first time in over a decade, then this was something that he couldn't miss out on. Judy knew a thing or two about lost opportunities, and didn't want Nick to feel the same about this scenario.
"Alright." She gave in, at last. "Just be careful, okay? This wind isn't the only thing out here capable of flipping you on your tail!" She added with a coyish smile.
Nick returned it warmly.
"Thanks, Fluff. This means a lot to me." He leaned forward and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "I'll be waiting for you at the apartment"
Judy nodded her head in understanding. "Got it. See you soon!"
A few short minutes later, they arrived at the station. One they were parked accordingly Nick opened the door to the police cruiser and clambered outside, turning around one last time to give Judy a confident smile and a quick thumbs up of approval before walking out into the night, phone in hand and all alone. The rabbit watched as he paced off.
Be safe, She thought to herself.
From there, the rabbit descended from the driver's seat and onto the pavement before closing the door behind her with a satisfying thud. As she walked toward the station's entrance, she couldn't help but imagine what would go down between Nick and his father. She sincerely hoped that they could patch up their rather fragmented relationship.
When she reached the large glass doors, she stopped and once again looked back in the direction Nick had walked off. She didn't see him, but had a feeling that he was still out there. Judy then turned around, letting out a small, contentful sigh before pushing the door inward and advancing towards the front desk, where her favorite carb-loaded cheetah was lounging in his chair, drinking from a straw in a soda bottle as he typed away at his keyboard, relaying messages back and fourth between officers and allies.
"Hey Clawhauser, is Bogo here?" She asked as she approached the desk.
The overweight Cheetah blinked, looked around, and zeroed in on Judy before turning towards her.
"Well, well, well! Back from midnight patrol, now are we?" Clawhauser smiled, momentarily locking eyes with the bunny before turning his attention back to the computer.
"Yeah, it was dreadfully boring, as expected, but went well! Just gotta file in to Bogo before I can finally head home and relax." She replied back with ease.
Clawhauser's ears pricked up at the mention of Chief Bogo.
"Chief? Ah, well, he isn't here right now, actually. He was earlier, but ran off when he got a call from the hospital. Apparently, some homeless hyena attacked his sister, or something... Not too sure. He left and told me to cancel any reports he had scheduled for the rest of the day... Er, night, I mean. So I guess you're free to go, for now!"
Judy blinked in surprise. "Oh, that's unfortunate." She muttered.
The bunny was concerned for the Chief and all, but at the moment she was more than glad to be able to go home and see Nick. She was still wondering how his talk with his father had gone, and anticipated hearing the outcome. Judy made herself a mental note to make sure to catch up with both Bogo and Clawhauser sometime later tomorrow.
"Well, I'll just fill Bogo in tomorrow, I suppose. Catcha' later Clawhauser!" Judy spouted as she turned and started jogging back towards the cruiser.
She had many things on her mind, and hoped to alleviate her concerns by reuniting with Nick.
Well past midnight, Judy had to restrain herself from going above the speed limit as she drove back to the apartment. She couldn't help but feel agitated. Concern washed over her like a cold chill in Tundra-Town. She had the strangest feeling that Nicks' discussion with his father hadn't gone very smooth. It may have been paranoid, but still...
Perhaps it was just her own subconscious chiding her as the car glided across the road and into the night.
She pulled into the nearest parking garage and stepped out into the windy blackness. Her long ears flopped in the wind and the fur on her body rippled as she began making her way across the street to the apartment complex. The wind blowing down from the overcast sky above was relentless, and only helped hasten her effort to shelter indoors.
Their apartment was on the far corner of the property, and no one lived in the area surrounding their home: A convenience that allowed her and Nick to chat as loud as they wished. She ascended the staircase and walked down a long hallway, looking into the dark windows of each room with each passing step. She heard yelling, and it was coming from her apartment. But there was only one voice, it seemed. The voice was cracked with anger, and something else - Sorrow. Disappointment. She knew the voice all too well.
It was Nick's.
She began jogging toward their home with increased pace. The yelling only got louder as she drew closer. Finally she reached their flat, but stopped for a moment.
She heard Nick inside, loudly arguing with... Someone. But who? The only voice she heard was his. But that could only mean...
Oh Nick, she thought. Without any more stalling, she pushed open the door, steeling herself for what she would find inside.
I just wanted to quickly mention something. As a content creator, it often can't be helped when we look back on our old work and find ourselves cringing with distaste, for our current skills have far surpassed what we've created in the past, it seems. I wanted to emphasize that from here on out, the story only gets better in terms of quality, storytelling, characterization, and dialogue. Regardless, I thank you for reading this far, and I implore you to continue with the story. It is a long endeavor due to its length, yes, but I assure you it can be an enthralling experience. Plenty of adventures and mysteries await out favorite dynamic duo in the many coming chapters. In fact, there will be some more intimate moments in the coming chapters, so keep an eye out for those, if you're interested!
These first 14 chapters are mostly just fluff and romance (with a bit of drama sprinkled within), as they were written before I had much of an idea as to where I wanted to take the story. At chapter 15, 'Old Habits', however, that all changes; with the true plot of the story being unveiled, and things only picking up from there. You're welcome to skip to, and start from that chapter if you'd prefer to get right into the true meat of the story. Whatever works best for you! There's enjoyment to be had either way.
As I'm sure you've been able to tell, these beginning few chapters carry a more philosophical tone to them, which bears some weight of its own, but ultimately becomes less frequent as time goes on, quickly becoming a more practical and enjoyable writing style for all to enjoy, especially those who like their fill of Wildehopps. Throughout the story, you'll be meeting plenty of fun new characters, watching Nick and Judy solve mysteries and combat against villains, learn more about themselves and the world around them, and so much more. PS: There is a sex scene in the next chapter, and although it focuses more on the emotional/sensual descriptions than physical ones, if that stuff isn't your cup of tea, you're welcome to skip over it.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and keep up the good work, everyone.
'Till next time...