Summary: "Oh, I'll be fine. I don't feel like murdering him with a fork or anything. Much. I'll get back to you in the morning." Judy receives another grim reminder that she's single. Nick tries his best to help, in his own way. Based on a true story.
Disclaimer: Pffft, as if I own anything Disney-related. I don't even own the puns I use as currency!
This chapter's theme music: It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To, by Lesley Gore
Chapter 1: Pity Party
"I don't even like parties."
"How was your party?"
The question came as soon as she walked through the door, her roommate's sleeves rolled up to his elbows and hands buried in bubbly dishwater.
She merely groaned and closed the door behind her, turning to land her fluffy bunny head against it with a thump. Her long ears drooped, violet eyes were closed, and the usual hop in her step was missing.
Nick's voice was as bland as two-day-old toast, "that bad, huh?"
She banged her forehead against the wood a couple more times before he felt the need to intervene.
"Woah, woah, Carrots! Don't ruin the finishing. Do you know how much a place like this costs in Zootopia?"
"Yeah," the rabbit grimaced, voice muffled, "half my paycheck."
"Which is precisely why you should stop accosting the door and instead sit back, relax, and scream into a pillow or something. How about I make you a fruit smoothie?"
His answer was the sound of her body hitting the couch, voice shouting into the machine-knitted fabric, before she flopped over, one pointed finger raised as the cop said, quite distinctly, "thank you. That would be lovely."
The fox resisted the urge to chuckle, no matter the fact that a couple of hours or days from now she'd look on the situation with the same degree of humor he was feeling. Nope, now was the time for friendship; later was the time for sarcastic shenanigans.
After he'd blended together a few key fruit choices into a frothy concoction, he shifted her jean-clad legs up enough for him to sit beside her. They were new, along with the emerald-green sweater that hung down to her hips and made her eyes pop. That and the pair of dangly earrings (gold hoops with little turquoise birds) made this one of the fanciest outfits he'd ever seen on the laid-back bunny, but she'd never really explained why the outfit had been so important for what was really a hangout with old high school friends.
It had started with Sarah, a sleek dark-coated rabbit with amber eyes, calling her up out of the blue and suggesting a get-together with a handful of friends who were taking the train into Zootopia for the weekend. She'd suggested that they catch a movie and maybe even get dinner, and Judy spent time with friends (not including coworkers) so infrequently that Nick had gone from hinting that the hesitant bunny go, to almost strong-arming her into it.
He at least had poker night with the guys, a mix of 'Cops 'n' Robbers' that saw fit to call a truce twice a month—his own unique effort at building better relations between both sides of the law (albeit not with the shadier of his contacts). And although there had been a few hiccups, strangely it worked. For the most part.
But Judy didn't even have that! And when she did get Leave she hung out with him.
Given that they had become best friends, despite his doubts to the contrary, it was pleasant enough. But in excess this became a bit much. Especially given that this fox had lived a rather solitary life for the most part and bunnies, well, they were quite simply the opposite.
So Judy got some "friend time," and Nick was able to catch up on episodes of "Sherlock Hamster," via Newtflix.
At the time he'd only vaguely noticed the uncertainty she'd given off. Now, if her reaction to the evening was an indication, whatever had worried her had come true.
"So," he started carefully, folding his paws together, "you want to tell me what happened?"
"Do I want to tell you? That is an excellent question," she reiterated slowly, using diversionary tactics, before abruptly laying down the line, "no. No, I don't."
He waited patiently, expression holding only pleasant neutrality.
"Am I going to tell you anyway…?" she continued to ask herself, staring blankly up at the ceiling. But the long-eared 'City Hero' didn't answer that one, merely groaning and flinging a limb over her eyes.
Yes. Yes, she would. They both knew it.
"Okay, now you really have to clue me in," he said in a teasing tone," otherwise…"
"You'll keep bugging me till I die from your curiosity?" she filled in with dry expectancy.
"Exactly! So you might as well just tell me. For the sake of those vases that you just bought. We are both rather fond of them, after all," he prodded.
Her eyes popped open in order to glare, "I don't throw things, Nick. You know that."
He crossed one of his bowed legs over the other at the knee, long foot left hanging, "do I know that? Possibly. But I don't want to risk it; they are a rather lovely shade of green. Like my eyes."
It was his way of drawing her out, but if anything it pulled her deeper in. Judy Hopps yanked a pillow over her face in response.
"I don't want to tell you."
The ex-conman blinked down at her. Okay, this was getting a little…ostrich-like. And he couldn't help but feel a little hurt. Usually they told each other pretty much everything.
Well. She told him pretty much everything. He tailored his content for appropriate audiences by tamping down on the cynicism, oftentimes not divulging to the fullest extent the number of scams had been a part of over the years.
Onward and upward, right? No use looking back behind you.
"Fine, I'll bite. Why is it that you don't want to tell me?"
"Why is it embarrassing?"
And that, there, was the crux of the matter. Well, at least she cared enough about what he thought to be worried about his opinion of her.
"Judy," he said, going for sincerity, "you know that I would never laugh at you or make you feel uncomfortable."
The fox could practically feel the glare coming at him.
"Okay, much. I wouldn't do it much," he tempered.
She maintained her dirty look over the top of the throw pillow before finally groaning and burying her pink little nose in the fabric, "fine! I'll tell you!"
"Good. I knew that you would finally see sense," said he.
She began mumbling quietly into her not-so-blankety-comfort blanket. Nick poked her side with a gentle claw, "Nope! I can't hear you, Carrots."
"Sarah was trying to set me up with a guy I liked!"
He blinked green eyes. At her. Up at the TV across from them (it really was nothing more than a Goodwolf item on its way out the door). Back to her long, fuzzy feet.
"You wanna run that by me again, Fluff?"
"Nick," she flung the pillow away (appropriate, given that it was a throw pillow), "don't make me say it again. Please."
"Fine, fine. I just, you know, need some context. That's all."
Letting out a heavy sigh, she began to explain in full, avoiding eye contact the entire time.
"In High School I liked guy. Well, we were friends, really good friends," a puzzled pause, "he's a lot like you, actually. Now that I think about it."
"Wait, what?" his blinking began again.
Judy ignored the outburst, "then we kind of also had some college classes together, back when I was roommates with Sarah. So right after graduating from the Academy I kind of, well, I told him."
"Told him what?"
"That I liked him."
"As in…like-liked him?"
"…yeah," she breathed out, nose twitching frantically in contrast to her otherwise still form.
When it didn't seem like she was going to continue he prompted her with, "alright, so you told him. And then what happened? You've got me on the edge of my seat here, Carrots."
That earned him another frown and a smack on the leg by one strong rabbit foot. He gasped and grimaced, clasping the wounded spot in overly dramatized 'pain.' She scoffed at the act.
But, all joking aside, he really was curious. Judy rarely veered from her two loves—police work and her family, although not necessarily in that order—so the idea of someone drawing her attention enough for something like this to happen was…puzzling? Fascinating? Weird? The fact that that she'd compared the guy to him made it even more strange; was stalking conmen something that she did regularly, he wondered? He'd thought that he was a one-off!
Also, a part of the fox was surprised that the conversation hadn't come up sooner. True, they'd been friends for three quarters of a year, and roommates/partners for a much shorter amount of time, but there were certain topics that came up when you spent time with someone 24/7.
"Well…" she continued where she left off, "he told me that he justwantedtobefriends. He said that he didn't feel like he was mature enough to…to have a serious relationship. Which, you know, I respected him for. Being able to recognize that room for development, I mean."
He didn't know how to interpret that, so nodded, "alright."
"And I figured, 'hey, it's been eight months! Let's see where we're at,' you know? Plus Mom and Dad have been getting at me for being 24 and still single, so…" she huffed and rolled her eyes, just a tad. He still hadn't met 'the 'Rents' yet, but he had a feeling that they were loving yet highly…well, they expected a lot of her. Or maybe it was too little? In any case, they had certain expectations for her, which often created strain.
"And Sarah…" he prompted, starting to put the pieces together.
"She was trying to get us together. She's really big on people getting a happy ending. But, oh, Nick, I should have known the minute that they came in that something was wrong!"
An eyebrow went up, "because you're…psychic?…and go through guilt trips when you don't know everything in advance?"
"No. Because Sarah pulled me into a hug and tried to say something in my ear! But she just said it so fast that I just didn't get it! And she was trying to warn me! So that I could brace myself," she explained, all in a rush.
"For when they sat together. Not Sarah, but…them. At the restaurant. Holding hands."
Which…apparently indicated the end of the world as she knew it.
What were they supposed to hold, ears? Tails? Who knew, maybe bunnies held each others' feet?
Okay, he admitted that it would be upsetting to see someone that you'd potentially been interested in be in a serious relationship with a mutual acquaintance. Kind of like when an Ex-Girlfriend had picked Finnick over him. Sure, that relationship hadn't lasted, but still. It had smarted.
Or maybe it could be that it meant something more serious where she was from, among the mammals of Bunnyburrow…? Like a pre-engagement, engagement process? Well, in either case, there was probably more to the situation, so he opted to wait out the rest of the story.
The rabbit had clenched her eyes shut, "and at the time, in my mind, I saw it but…I didn't quite register it, you know? Especially as it was right in front of me—not until later, anyway. And it obviously means that he never told her what I'd said to him. Otherwise she wouldn't have been so declaratory in front of me."
"Yes, holding paws is very declaratory. Possessive, too."
She ignored the sarcasm, pausing before dropping the real bomb, "but here's the kicker. Later on his girlfriend said that they'd started dating a month after when I graduated—a month, can you believe it?"
Oh. Ow. Okay, yeah. She had the right to be upset about that one.
"Sarah apologized afterward. She said that she'd found out on the train over, and had tried to warn me," she mumbled, then groaned, "and the worst part of all is that I thought that I was over him! That we were okay being 'just friends!' But that was before I found out that he'd totally played the 'friend card' right before going off to date someone we both knew."
Okay, maybe this was why she hadn't brought up the matter of 'The Guy' with him previously? Because now, as the situation was escalating a bit, he wasn't quite sure what he was supposed to do to make what she was dealing with…better. Maybe just…patting her foot or something? Would having Mr. Big 'Ice' him help any? Or was this one of those bizarre times when women just wanted you to listen to them rant? He was never quite sure when conversations fell into that category.
"Back when he first said no, I told myself that there were more important things to worry about," the grey bunny continued in a semi-formal rant, sitting up now and using her hands to punctuate her point, "especially with how busy I was with starting at the ZPD, trying to be taken seriously and dealing with our first case—."
"Technically it was just yours, Fuzzy Bunny. I was only a key witness."
"It was our case, Nick. Chief Bogo wouldn't respect you as much as he does unless he had a reason to do so. You know that all his officers are on uncertain ground until they have proven themselves."
"Further supporting the fact that it was your case and not mine, given how he still treats me like the stuff raccoons clean up off the streets," Nick said with grim finality.
"It was not. And he treats you well. Well-ish. Like a peer, at the very least. You know how the bigger animals in the Precinct are around one another? It's like that. Anyway, let's focus here."
"Right," the fox nodded in mock-seriousness, once again folding his paws together, "I apologize. Please continue."
She shot him a violet-eyed warning look, "so I thought I'd gotten over him. But there's this part of me that still says, 'Marriage. Family. You want a guy like him in your life.'"
Her best friend's expression was skeptical, "you want another conman in your life?"
The grey-tuffed female drew back slightly, confused, "who said that he was a conman? He's becoming a doctor—specializing in joint disorders."
Another blink, slow and green. Well, then…
She continued as though uninterrupted, "so…there's a part of me that's still hoping. You know? But the whole, 'not wanting something serious because he didn't feel mature enough for it' thing—that was absolute manure. Why couldn't he have just been honest and say that he was interested in someone else from the start?"
Her shrug was all-encompassing.
"I would have understood! I mean, it would have hurt at the time, but at least then it wouldn't have been such a shock today. It was like I was frozen, and then it just hurt, a wave of sad washing over me. Like something was pressing down on my chest, a weight, and I just couldn't let it go."
He winced for real this time, recognizing all too well the emotions she'd felt. Why did it always have to come back to the 'betrayal' emotion, something he'd faced regularly since childhood? You put trust in a person and then they stab you in the back—it happened nearly every time. Over the years he'd toughened himself against it, but with her it was like ripping off a scab. Because, for his floppy-eared partner, it was a new experience every time. She just trusted others far too much.
She drew in a deep breath, "I feel so stupid."
"No, Carrots," he immediately jumped to her own defense, reaching across the couch to place a gentle paw on her head, just between two drooping ears., "if anything, you did your best. I mean, you were honest with him about your feelings—that takes real guts."
"Well, I had just made a vow promising my integrity," she said with some irony, "it was to Zootopia, true, but…I had to do the right thing."
"When you put it that way, I'm not sure if we took the same vow," he jabbed. When she rolled her eyes at him, he held up his paws in defense, "okay, no more jokes. Sorry. But you really did do the honorable thing. And, well, it's obvious why this guy's not studying to become a brain surgeon. Am I right?"
She laughed a tad wetly, and noticing the oncoming tears welling up in amethyst eyes, Nick exhaled heavily, "ah, Judy. C'mere."
Not waiting for her permission, he lifted her up like a half-grown fox kit into his arms, tucking the adorable bunny police officer beneath his chin.
"I'm sorry that he broke your heart—a second time, it seems. It really stinks to be hurt like that. But, you know, time will tell whether the two of them even work out, so you never know about the future."
"You are terrible at this consoling stuff."
"Hey, I'm just getting to the good part, so shush. Anyway, what was I saying?" he resettled himself about her, arms protective and even his long bushy tail blanketing her in comfort, "the future. Yeah. So, you never know what's going to happen. Look at us, for example—I never would have guessed a year ago that I would be rooming with my best friend, who just happened to be an. Adorable. Little. Bunny. But here we are!"
She smacked his slightly-damp (her tears) arm half-heartedly, making it little more than a love tap. If she'd meant for it to hurt she would have used her feet, "don't call me adorable, Nick," then, after a pause, "you're right, though. You never know about the future."
He continued blithely, "and as they say back home, 'there's plenty more foxes in the den.'"
"I thought that it was 'bunnies in the burrow'?"
"Maybe in your world, Carrots."
"Well. I've certainly got some time to find 'the one,' if he is out there. I'm only 24—everyone acts like it's the end of the world that I'm not married yet, but really that's not so bad."
"Exactly. And let me say from the point of view of a very mature, adult-like 32-year old," he ignored her snort, "that there's always more time where that came from. There's always hope. You never know when love'll come hopping through the door. Just watch, months from now this will be nothing but a blip on the horizon."
And it seemed to do the job as she sighed once more, her chest brushing against his with the movement. He briefly felt the rapid-fire pattern of her heartbeat, but it was gone in an instant, "I certainly hope so. I wouldn't want to have to experience this all over again."
Yeah, I'm back. Check out my bio for the full synopsis of my return from serving a fulltime proselyting mission in Japan! Aaaaaand moving on to the story's actual Author's Note:
So this fanfic was written with a reason in mind. :3
And that reason is: what Judy experiences in this story…recently happened to me. As in, within the last two and a half months. XD
Only he didn't start dating the other girl a month after my initial interest was expressed, as Judy's friend did to her. He started dating her a couple of weeks after. So. Take that how you will. *raises eyebrows and laughs*
Mostly I find the situation hilarious at this point. And the story does continue in real time—so you better believe that it also continues in the next chapter.
But seriously, guys, learn from this fictional/non-fictional example and don't be stupid. Communicate honestly if you aren't interested in a girl. And this goes for the girls as well—don't break each others' hearts, m'kay?
One last note:
All individuals involved in my real-life situation have received a pseudonym in this story, in order to respect privacy.
Sherlock Hamster—Sherlock Holmes (this one took a while to get the right fit)