AN: A reviewer suggested an add-on to this fic, where we see Nick realize his feelings for the first time. I was hesitant to add this to the existing story, because I like where that one ended, but I also can't stop myself from writing more on these two, so I may as well share it!

Big thanks to XxFIRESTAR44xX (xxfirestarxx on Tumblr) for the beta read!

And thanks to my readers for all of the positive feedback on the first 2 parts – you've all inspired me to write more of this cute couple!


6 months earlier

As with any other lazy Saturday, Nick found himself crawling out of bed very late in the morning. Padding softly into the tiny kitchen, his tail poking out the back of his pajama pants and dragging along the floor, he took in the heavenly aroma of freshly made coffee awaiting him. As per usual, his peppy roommate had most likely been up for hours making the most of her day off. And because Judy truly was the best, she always refilled the filter and set the timer to start a new pot after enjoying her own coffee, long before the sun was even up.

Drinking in silence, he plopped himself down into one of the two kitchen chairs, and pulled the day's newspaper over to his side of the table. It was laid open to the funnies page and Judy had circled a comic strip she knew he'd find amusing. With a smirk, he shook his head at the antics in the small black and white panels before closing the paper and pushing it aside in favor of his phone.

Sitting and reading emails on the small device, the fox enjoyed his coffee, allowing the warm caffeine to negate his nocturnal instincts that begged him to return to his warm bed. Centuries of evolution may have changed most of their more primal instincts, but Nick believed it couldn't be all coincidence that he was the exact opposite of a morning person. He had just finished refilling the mug for a second time, when his ears perked up, hearing his roommate come in through the front door of their small apartment.

"Hey roomie." He called out into the hallway, as a courtesy to let her know that he was up and she didn't need to be so quiet.

"Hey sleepyhead." She replied in a voice that was much too chipper for his level of awakeness.

She bounded into the kitchen, an armful of groceries in her tiny paws. "I got a few things to get us by, we were running low on everything."

"Thanks, Carrots." Nick smiled, hopping down from his chair and grabbing one of the bags to help unpack. Their kitchen was tiny and had very little storage, and between the pair they were atrocious cooks. Which meant their "grocery shopping" consisted of stocking up the most basic of supplies; mainly coffee, and snack food.

Emptying the bag, Nick spun around just in time to catch the protein bar that Judy had tossed in his direction; Crickets and chocolate, his favorite.

"You really should have something other than coffee." She teased with only the tips of her long ears visible, her small frame hidden again behind the fridge door as she finished placing the rest of the food away.

"Who said I didn't already eat a giant breakfast before you got here?" He grinned mischievously, tearing into the wrapper.

Knocking the refrigerator door shut with a hip Judy let out a forced laugh. "Yeah right, you're not even dressed and still sipping coffee. I'd say you've been up for… 20 minutes." She hypothesized, quirking an eyebrow at her own cleverness.

Admittedly, she was correct within a few minutes. Not that it surprised him; one had to be pretty perceptive to be out solving crimes for a living. And after having been roommates for the last few months, they had grown to know each other even better than before. He couldn't remember having such a close relationship with anyone.

"You got me." He smiled back before breaking off a large bite of the bar with his sharp canines.

"You are so lazy!" She teased, but her smiling face gave away that it was just friendly poking. "I've already finished all of my errands."

"Hey, it's our day off. Just because you like to keep yourself busy, doesn't mean everyone else does."

Making a point to dramatically roll her eyes at him, she picked up his empty coffee mug off the table and placed it in the sink. Nick just shook his head and tossed his wrapper in the trash bin as he made his way into the living room and plopped down onto the couch.

"Hey," He called, raising his voice so Judy could hear as she followed him in. "How about a movie? I can run to the rental box down the street - I think that new crime-mystery you were going on about finally came out."

"Ooh, 'Sherlock Holstein'? I've been dying to see that one!" She propped herself on the arm of the couch.

"Yeah, I know." He replied with a snigger. "But of course, I expect you to sit through a comedy with me too. I never did figure out why you would want to entertain yourself with movies that are way too similar to our lives." He followed up with a little shiver to express his distaste.

"Oh actually," She hopped down, avoiding his gaze. "I just remembered. I can't."

"What do you mean you can't?" Nick turned towards her with a raised brow. "You got a hot date or something?"

Judy's cheeks instantly reddened and her ears drooped. The reaction piqued Nick's interest and he sat up straight on the couch, ears alert and tail whipping around to his other side.

"Wait? You DO have a date! Hoo-ho-hoooo!" He whistled through an ecstatic grin.

Judy crossed her arms and failed to hide a pout. "It's nothing exciting, just a lunch date."

"So who is this guy? Tell me more!" Nick leaned forward in his seat, his enthusiasm fueled by her embarrassment.

"It's nobody!" She stomped a foot on the floor. "Stop teasing!"

"Ok, ok, sorry Carrots, I was just giving you a hard time." Nick raised his hands in defense, but also holding back a laugh. "Why am I just finding out about this, you're acting like it's some kind of secret?"

"I'm not, it's not…" She stuttered, looking away. "I just planned things this morning, that's all."

Seeing her nerves, Nick suddenly felt guilty for poking fun. "Ok, I'm sorry. No big deal, I hope you have a good time."

"It's fine. And I'm sure I will." Judy stood up a little taller, her ears became straight as arrows in an attempt to look more confident. "Anyways... I'm going on a run."

"Yeah, alright." Nick stood up off the couch as he watched her bolt from the apartment. "I should get ready anyways." He continued to talk, the guilt in his chest feeling heavier in the now empty room.

Nick showered and got himself ready for the day while Judy was out. Standing under the stream of hot water, his wandering thoughts could not meander away from the topic of Judy's secret date. The constrictive sensation he was feeling in his chest continued to grow and the longer it remained, the more he wondered if he could really blame it on guilt. Sure, he felt bad for making Judy so embarrassed that she practically fled from the apartment, but there was something else he couldn't quite put his paw on.

Since becoming partners, he and Judy were practically inseparable. The other officers at work teased them that they were more like an old married couple, but Nick had never really minded it. Judy was the perfect compliment to himself and he knew that he was better for having her in his life.

When they had first considered the idea of becoming roommates, there was no doubt they could make it work. There was no worry of them driving each other crazy or grow tired of one another. And so far, it had held true. They enjoyed spending their time together, and whether it was at work, or home, it didn't seem to matter.

The truth was, he wasn't used to the idea of sharing Judy with anyone and the thought of it made his fur scruff up. And that feeling in itself was very unsettling.

Lounging on the floor in the living room, a throw pillow tucked under his head, Nick basked in a band of warm sunlight coming through the window. With his mind still reeling, he was trying his darndest to focus on reading the latest 'Harry Otter' book when Judy returned from her jog. He noted that she had taken much longer than usual, but wasn't about to call attention to it. She came in through the front door and headed straight to the kitchen to grab one of her carrot waters from the fridge, before joining him in the main living space.

Her face was flush and her fur damp with perspiration. Still breathing heavy, she cracked open the bottle and downed a good third of it in one go.

"What page are you on?" She asked between breaths, light and casual, all previous irritation towards him long gone.

Nick glanced down at the digits in the bottom corner, his mind had been so distracted he hadn't turned a page in a while. "228." He reluctantly admitted.

"Ugh, hurry up and get to the end so we can talk about it!" She gently kicked the bottom of his foot with the tips of her toes, both to give him a hard time and also to silently request that he schooch over and make room for her to stretch.

Setting her phone and earbuds on the small coffee table with her water, she plopped down on the floor near him so she could stretch out the backs of her thighs. Nick couldn't stop his eyes from wandering as he watched her lean forward over her legs to reach for her elongated toes. Outfitted in a sports tank, he appreciated the view of her sleek back muscles rippling under her light grey fur.

Suddenly it occurred to Nick that he had been watching her way too closely and he retracted his stare with a small shake of his snout, ducking back behind his book. Whoa, was he just checking out his best friend? No, he rationalized with himself, there was nothing wrong with admiring her beauty, friends can think friends are beautiful, it was totally natural. While she may be a rabbit, he had always thought that Judy was very pretty. Even on that very first day they had met, when she donned a silly little safety vest and a meter maid hat that pushed her ears back.

Another few stretches and the rabbit threw herself flat on her back, her head cushioned by the fluff of Nick's bushy tail. She let out a contented sigh and he watched her eyelids flutter shut as she lay still in the warm sun beside him.

"You know, if you slept in until a normal hour, you wouldn't be so tired by midday." Nick teased, finally flipping to the next page.

"I'm not tired." She mumbled without moving. "Just taking advantage of this cozy spot."

"You mean, my cozy spot." He pointed out with a gentle nudge of his foot against her side.

"Oh I didn't realize you had dibs on this section of the floor." She propped herself up on one elbow to get a better look at him, ensuring he could see the fake-judgement in her eyes.

"Only when I'm already laying here." He flicked his tail, just right to reach up and tickle the back of her neck unexpectedly.

She sprung up from her spot in a heartbeat, flicking around to narrow her eyes at his trickery. He smirked in her direction and she couldn't stop herself from laughing.

Nick couldn't hold back either and soon his own laughter joined hers, filling the room with cheer.

Once her giggles were under control, she playfully stuck out her tongue. "You sneaky fox."

"You know you love me." He retorted his infamous response, reserved for when he was driving her crazy.

"For some reason I do." With a dramatic eyeroll for his benefit, she started to leave, adding over her shoulder. "I'm going to take a shower."

Her soft steps padded from the room, leaving Nick alone with his thoughts. He smiled to himself as he considered that this was his favorite part about being friends with Judy; they were so comfortable with one another. They could joke and tease and lay around with nothing exciting going on and just enjoy each other's company.

Once again trying to make sense of the new and uneasy feelings that had crept up on him that morning, he realized that was what bothered him about Judy's date. It was a reminder that she eventually wanted more; to find a mate, maybe even have kits of her very own. One day she was going to leave this life they had set-up. Granted, they hadn't had it for very long, but these months since Judy returned to find him sulking under that bridge had been the best months of his life and he didn't want them to end.

But the sad truth was, he knew he couldn't blame her. Sure they were great friends, and amazing partners, but when it came to marriage and kids, it was something he couldn't provide.

Besides, it's not like he or Judy even wanted anything more than had drawn that invisible line long ago that neither wanted to cross. At least, he assumed she wouldn't want to cross it. While inter-species relationships weren't completely unheard of, they were still rare and often met with judgement. It was even rarer to find one that crossed over the predator/prey division. All too aware that Judy took a lot of guff for being the first bunny cop and having a reformed-grifter fox for a partner; he certainly didn't want to make her life any more difficult.

He knew that he cared deeply for Judy, but it was in a platonic best-friends kind of way. But, was it? His brain suddenly asked, the very question making his insides flutter with imaginary butterflies.

Pushing the confusing thoughts aside, he tucked back into his pillow and focused on the book propped up on his chest.

Not two pages later, his withering focus was broken by the "bing" of Judy's phone, which she had forgotten on the coffee table. Twitching his ears towards the hallway he confirmed that the shower was still going; it was no use to take it to her until the water stopped. A duplicate "bing" went off indicating that another message had been received.

The tones made him realize that he did not have his own phone, and must have set it down elsewhere. He decided that he better make sure it wasn't anything urgent and clarify that the precinct wasn't trying to get ahold of them. Begrudgingly he sat up and stretched forward to reach the annoying device perched on the nearby table.

The small screen was lit up with the new messages, indicated by little green bubbles beside them. A quick glance confirmed that it wasn't the office, and he moved to place the phone back and avoid any further snooping, when he accidentally caught the word 'date' within the first bubble of text. Tipping his muzzle up, he looked down the hall to confirm that Judy wasn't going to see him and read the full message unabashedly.

'Looking forward to our date! Just checking in to make sure the time still works?'

Nick scanned down to the next one.

'I was thinking we could also walk through the traveling photography exhibit at the Modern Art Museum afterwards? Excited to see you.'

The tip of Nick's nose scrunched up with disgust, though he wasn't certain why, the guy seemed nice enough. Thankfully, the message itself was bland, but the thing that really caught Nick's attention was the name that sat in bold letters above the bubble: Scott.

Scott? Who the heck was Scott? He wondered to himself. He practically spent all of his time with Judy, how was she planning dates with people that he didn't know?

Unable to ignore this new information, his detective mind went to work, deducing the various possibilities. It could be online dating, he considered. Though honestly Judy seemed too focused on her career right now, he would be very surprised if she had gone out of her way to set something up. No, he was sure the date was most likely instigated by this Scott character.

Hold up, he has seen that name before. He closed his eyes while shuffling through vague memories and encounters until recalling the small green name badge with the mysterious male's name engraved on it. Scott; the koala barista at the coffee shop near work.

Of course! That guy shamelessly flirted with Judy every time they were in there. He envisioned the way her eyes would light up when Scott greeted her, the way her cheeks would pinken when he would whip out some compliment as he handed her the change. Ugh, that guy.

Just then, he heard the bathroom door creak open and scrambled to quickly place the phone right back where it had been moments earlier. Tossing himself back onto his pillow, he crossed one leg over his knee, picking up his book and attempting to act cool and collected.

"Hey Carrots, your phone just beeped." He hollered out, though their apartment was small enough that it wasn't difficult to hear each other from the opposite end.

"Thanks." Judy entered moments later with nothing but a towel wrapped around her. Light grey fur looking darker when wet, adorably pooffing up from towel drying.

Hidden behind his book, he watched her slyly as she picked up the phone to read the messages. Long ears perked up as her eyes scanned the screen, a small smile breaking across the corner of her mouth.

Unexpectedly Nick felt an overwhelming sense of jealousy to see someone else make her smile like that. That was his smile. The smile she gave when he cheered her up after a long day, or surprised her with a favorite snack at work. He felt the edge of his lip twitch in irritation.

Completely unaware of his internal reactions, Judy walked back towards her room. The smile still etched on her face as paws sped across the touchscreen, sending a response.

The day had gone on rather slowly from that point and eventually what had become late afternoon was now transitioning into early evening. Nick had tried his best to keep occupied on his own, but found himself moping around without his usual companion by his side. He had taken a nap and went on a walk, did a couple of errands including stopping by the movie rental box just as he had originally planned, but was still uncertain what to do with himself now that he was back home.

It was ridiculous really, he had lived on his own for the majority of his life. Pulling hustles for a couple of hours and then lazying around without a care afterwards. Sure, he would meet up with Finnick, but outside of "work" the two rarely hung out. The more he considered it, the more he chided himself over not being able to handle one day without Judy. Sometimes it boggled him how someone so small had made such a large impact on his life.

Part of the problem was that if he didn't occupy himself, his thoughts would immediately wander back to Judy.

He entered the kitchen simply to make some popcorn, but as he stood listening to the sporadic pops, his mind drifted back to earlier that day when she had come to say she was leaving. Nick had been scrounging through the refrigerator for something to eat, when Judy poked in her head.

He tried not to stare as he took in her appearance. For anyone that didn't know her, they might think she was dressed conservatively for a first date, but he lived with her long enough to know that weekends were typically reserved for yoga pants and tee shirts. While her flowy summer blouse and cropped pants might seem casual, he noted the added jewelry and springy purse that pushed her attire into the next notch up, she was definitely hoping to impress. But, the fact that she didn't feel the need to dress flashy was one of the many things he adored about her.

Smiling, he wished her a fun time. The earlier embarrassment about the situation seemed to hit her again and she was suddenly mumbling her goodbyes while quickly retreating from their home with a pink tint beneath her fur.

Pouring his popcorn into a bowl, he made his way into the living room and sank into the couch, all the while trying his best not to imagine her out having a great time on her date. Probably walking hand in hand with that smug little koala by her side.

And then suddenly it hit him - she was out with another species. Something he had originally considered improbable. In fact, he had always concluded that the fact he wasn't a bunny was the biggest reason they had silently agreed to just be friends. Sure, a koala was on the same side of the predator/prey division, but really, he could argue that a fox had more in common with a bunny. Their ancestors were both from meadow type environments, lived in burrows and gave birth to kits; way more similarities than that tree-dwelling marsupial! If she was going to date outside of rabbits, than why hadn't she considered him?

At that thought Nick had to pause. That was it, he was jealous. There was no denying it, he wanted to be the one taking Judy on a date. Holding her hand in public and making her laugh at his witty jokes. He sat tall and physically took a gasp of air, the sinking realization creeping over him, making his fur stand on end. He, Nicholas Wilde, the sly fox, had completely fallen in love with his best friend, who just so happened to be a rabbit.

He couldn't even pretend to deny it. His heart began racing as he allowed himself to daydream what would happen if she returned his feelings. It was only a first date, maybe she was trying to make him jealous? She did seem more flustered than usual about the whole situation.

No, she's not interested. The logical side of his brain betrayed his wishful thinking. Tossing a handful of popcorn into his mouth, he felt his ears perk up at the click of the front door unlocking. He wasn't sure why, but he held his breath while waiting for her to find him in the living room, the place where they both retreated at the end of a long day.

"Hey." She said with a smile, dropping her purse onto the coffee table.

Nick swallowed the lump of food and smiled as naturally as he could muster, considering he had just realized that he was head over heels in love with the woman standing across from him. What was he going to do? Should he confess? Would she be able to tell?

"How…. was your date?" He finally decided to start with something easy.

"Oh it was fine." She answered, rather blandly.

"Just fine? You guys didn't hit it off?" While she considered his question, he focused on the shorter hairs around her eyes, the way they stuck out from her brow creasing.

"It's not that, Scott was nice enough and all, I dunno." She shrugged a little and then collapsed next to him onto the sagging couch, helping herself to a handful of popcorn. "He was just, kind of boring."

"Really?" Nick could feel his heart rate speed up at her words. Was it possible that she was comparing this bland barista to a certain reformed hustler?

"I feel terrible admitting that, but there just wasn't a spark, you know? And he's an accountant; an exciting day for him at the office is basically my worst nightmare of having nothing but paperwork." She made a little disgusted face for his benefit and he rewarded her with a small chuckle.

"Well, if there's no chemistry, do you two at least have something in common?" Nick replied cooly, checking off mental tallies next to both of those items for himself.

"Just living in BunnyBurrow. Otherwise I felt like we didn't have much to talk about."

This comment caught Nick by surprise, and he tried not to let it show. "BunnyBurrow, you say?"

She nodded while chewing on another mouthful of popcorn.

"You mentioned his name was Scott, and I instantly pictured that barista from the Snarlbucks by work." Nick fudged his way through his explanation.

Judy's eyes went wide and her ears perked up in surprise. "Wait, the koala?" Her little nose cringed up in response and she shook her head. He tried not to take offense at her reaction.

"Is it so weird to consider?" He responded as evenly as he could manage.

"No, it's not that. I don't have anything against dating outside of species, it's just… that guy is a sleazebag! He hits on everyone." Her tiny pink tongue darted from her mouth as she once again expressed her distaste for the guy.

That response set his mind at ease once more. "Ok, so NOT that guy." He held up his hands in defense. "I've never met anyone else around here from BunnyBurrow, so I made an assumption."

"My mom set us up. He was in town for the day." She replied with drooping ears. "She thinks I'm never going to meet the right guy." Her voice grew quiet as she finished the sentence and he noticed the rosey tinge once again in her cheeks.

"Don't be embarrassed that your mom is looking out for you." Nick assured, placing a comforting arm around her shoulder, pulling her in closer. But inside he felt all the hope and daydreams from earlier burst apart into a million tiny fragments. She had been on a date with a bunny after all, and while she hadn't protested the idea other species, it's clearly not what her or her mother had in mind. He had been stupid to let himself indulge in such wishful thinking.

She leaned into his sideways embrace, a small sigh escaping her lips. "She doesn't understand that I'm not ready to settle down and get married yet."

"You're still young, you just started your career. There's no rush." Nick offered in agreement.

"Exactly! Plus I'm perfectly happy right now; I've got the job of my dreams, and... I have you." She nuzzled into his side with a soft purr and Nick felt a wave of joy wash back over him. She was right, what they had right now, this was good. He didn't want to do anything to jeopardize this.

"Oh yeah!" She bounced up from her seat and grabbed her purse off the table, sliding out a DVD box from inside. "I felt bad for ditching you without any warning, and since it wasn't too late, I stopped by and rented that comedy you were wanting to watch." She wiggled the box around, advertising the title 'Goatbusters' while triumphantly waiting for his reply.

He felt the corner of his lips turn up as he reached around to the table beside him and grabbed another DVD box. Holding it up in front of her, he revealed the detective movie she had been so excited about.

And then it happened, that smile of hers, the one he would do anything for, lit up her petite features.

"I thought you didn't like 'crime dramas'?" She teased, but her beaming grin betrayed the fact that she knew darn well he had gotten it for her.

"What can I say, Carrots? I aim to please."

"Nick, you're the best!" She jumped into his chest with a big hug, nearly knocking over the popcorn bowl in the process. With no concern for his snack, he leaned forward on the couch to make the position a little less awkward, returning the embrace. A whiff of his sensitive nose noticed that she was wearing the blueberry perfume that he loved so much.

"Go ahead and get it started!" She sprang back from his arms. "I'm going to go change into something more comfortable!"

With a smirk he shook his head, watching her puffy tail retreat around the corner and into the hall.

Yes, this was okay. He was certain he could live the rest of his life being this happy. He knew it wasn't destined to last forever, and eventually there would be other gentleman suitors that he would politely step aside for. But if this little bunny was willing to let him be part of her life, he'd take it, for however long it lasted.

AN: I dunno, I worried that all of the introspection made this a little boring, but hopefully the scenes with Nick/Judy interacting made up for it! Sometimes I like to see how good a pair works, even in the most mundane of situations - it helps show how completely comfortable they are.

Thinking I'll add one more part, to pick up where the first part left off. Or perhaps a time jump a bit into the future? Preferences?