A/N: A little AU just for fun!
He would never forget the night he first laid eyes on her.
Nicholas P. Wilde was making a delivery to a high-end restaurant (vegetables he'd smuggled and presented to the manager as homegrown) when he caught wind of two hyenas giggling and gossiping as they strode toward the exit. His ears twitched attentively.
"How long is that bunny going to wait? She obviously got stood up.."
"She just needs to leave with that fuzzy-wuzzy tail between her legs and stop hogging the table..."
The fox's brows arched, curiosity piqued. He discreetly scurries past the entryway to take a peek into the dining room, where, lo and behold, a lone rabbit sat at a table for two. The condensation on her glass of water was a clear indicator of how long she'd been sat, waiting for a date that would obviously never arrive.
Nick's amused smirk died on his creamy muzzle as he took note of the rabbit's droopy ears, how everyone seated around her cast her either condescending or piteous glances. Even though Nick had prided himself on never letting anything get to him anymore, the sight tugged at his chest. He knew all too well how it felt to be judged and patronized.
On impulse, he takes a moment to text his partner, Finnick, informing him that something had come up and he'd meet with him later, then heaves a sigh. Well, there was no backing out now.
Why am I doing this again? Why do I even care?
Before he could change his mind, Nick saunters in with purpose to his gait, donning the sly smile he wore so well as his adept acting skills came into play. "Sorry, darlin'," he calls out loudly, directing everyone's attention as he addresses the bunny. "Traffic was awful. I would've called, but my phone ran outta juice. Darn it, it's a bummer, huh?" He slips into the seat across from the rabbit, only to be met with the most mesmerizing eyes he'd ever seen; a unique violet color that reminded him of the fuchsia tendrils that streaked the sky at sundown.
The other's nose twitched in surprise, her long silver ears standing on end as she regards him dubiously. Nick ignores the look of disbelief as he opens the menu.
And he would've missed it had his emerald irises not been peeking over the rim of the menu, had his ears not been perked, to catch her smile and the way she murmurs a soft "thank you."
After dinner, Nick sneaks them aboard a ferry where a dance party was ensuing, and his date breathlessly laughs once he ushers her in with finesse. "You made that look easy, Slick."
"Yeah, well, we foxes are sly and sneaky, right?" He promptly leads her into a waltz, smirking at how impressed she seems. "The trick is to act like you belong here. Nobody will question you if you look important enough."
"So, basically, you're going undercover." Mirth twinkles in her amethyst optics as she follows his lead, and Nick marvels at how perfectly her paw fits in his own. "You know, I think you'd actually make a pretty good cop."
He had to disagree. He'd given up on that dream long ago; a con artist was all he could be, and all he ever would be. He'd come to terms with that... or, at least, he'd thought so, until the shorter mammal's words elicit a pinprick of yearning. "How dare you."
The rabbit laughs, the melodious sound giving his heartstrings a strong tug, and all he wants is to make her laugh again. As they prolong their slow dance and Nick's enveloping hold gradually draws her closer, she meets his gaze intently. "I didn't catch your name."
"Because I didn't disclose it."
One of her floppy ears tilts downward inquisitively. "Why not? Come on, let's introduce ourselves. I'm-"
"Ah-ah-ah." He stops her by pressing an ebony digit against her mouth, his canny smile lingering. "Fine, I'll call you Carrots, and you can call me Slick. How's that sound?"
Violet irises appraise him skeptically before pushing his paw away, her foot thumping indignantly. "You're gonna want to refrain from calling me Carrots. You're underestimating me. I'm a cop, and a detective. I can find out anything I want to." Her ears are upright, displaying her surefire determination. "I have no limits! I'm limitless!"
A laugh escapes him, endeared by her enthusiasm despite himself. If nothing else, he had to admire her moxie. "Good luck with that. I've been laying low under the law's surveillance for years. You can't touch me, Carrots." He couldn't deny the sudden longing billowing in his chest, evoking a solemn tone as he adds, "It's for your own good. A cute little bunny cop such as yourself has no business getting involved with me. ...It's called a hustle, sweetheart."
A crease furrows her brow as he watches the understanding dawn. "...Don't call me cute."
"Come on, loosen up. I just want us to remember this night as perfect, all right? If we continue this, something's bound to mess it up. Prey, predator, police officer, outlaw... we're just too different for it to work. But if we leave it off here... this memory is the one thing that will never go wrong."
And truly, Nick can't think of anything more picture-perfect than the way her dazzling eyes soften and how the moonlight casts her in an ethereal glow as she leans up to kiss him underneath the canopy of stars.
By the time she opens her eyes after the kiss draws to a close, he's gone, disappeared without a trace.
Over the next year, Judy cherishes the memory of that special night. She doesn't agree to any more blind dates and puts her all into following every lead of that mysterious fox... but every one turns cold. Every single one led to a dead end.
Though she was discouraged, she doesn't give up. After all, Judy never knew when to quit.
It's not until one fateful day when her chief assigns her a partner, the newest recruit of the ZPD named Nick Wilde, that she finds herself gazing into familiar emerald eyes. She gives a sharp intake of breath in awe.
The sight of that cheeky smile enraptures her all over again, and she's unable to repress an elated smile. At long last, she's found him, the one that effortlessly stole her heart in a single night's time.
"It's called a hustle, sweetheart."