" -it served me as a reminder every time I even thought about quitting, I just knew I had to not give up. It's not too bad to have a reminder for that, Nick, everyone should have something that keeps them going." / "You're my reminder, Carrots. I'm quite sure you always will be."

Judy Hopps hadn't expected the car to completely disregard her presence but it did. It didn't swerve out of the way, nor did the driver slam the breaks, possibly hoping to render one of ZPD's top police officers into roadkill.

Life around her didn't slow down, in fact it felt like it had been sped up as her senses heightened to their peak. Her feet hurt from how hot the road was considering it was just the time for the afternoon heat wave; her throat felt like sandpaper; she reeked from sweat; her amethyst eyes could see how the gray wolf behind the steering wheel narrow its eyes and tense up as the car neared her and from her peripheral vision she noticed Nick's alarmed and terrified look ; and most of all, her ears picked up Nick's desperate scream of her name- not Carrots, not Bunny, not Hopps, but Judy.

She didn't move- couldn't move from her spot in the middle of the road.

The impact came.

The bunny felt the uncomfortably warm metal of the getaway car slam into her entire frame, sending her flying like a broken doll across the streets of Zootopia.

She hit the ground multiple times and all she registered was the scorching pain that each fall left her in. She dully noted in the back of her mind that it was going to leave enough scars and bruises to cover the entirety of her small figure.

When her body finally stopped moving like it was a runaway carrot, she was barely conscious enough to register the oncoming car that would flatten her entirely. The bunny let her tired eyes close, numb to everything but the throbbing pain that rocked her body-

But before she could drift away, a pair of soft and warm paws grabbed her off the streets as the owner of said paws and Judy were flung to the sidewalk. She landed against the owner's body, which had spooned her to prevent any more harm from reaching the injured bunny. Still somewhat awake and grateful, she tiredly blinked at her saviour.

Half-lidded amethyst eyes met with frantic emerald ones, a huge change from the relaxed and handsome look that Nick Wilde usually sported.

His mouth was moving at an insane speed and he looked afraid, but Judy was too drowzy to hold on to consciousness, so she let go.


How the hell did a simple bank robbery get to this, Nick would wonder later as he paced a hole into the floor of the waiting room in the Zootopia Hospital.

After desperately trying to get his partner back into the state of consciousness and failing miserably at it, he resorted to assessing the damage to the bunny's condition while the sirens of the ambulance grew closer to the scene.

He painfully took in the gray fur that was matted with sweat and dirt, a few dark bruises already appearing on her face. Something else had caught his gaze though and he leaned in closer to the bunny's face. His green eyes caught the three faint scratch marks that was on her left cheek. They were old scars, the fox noted, and he had never realized them until now. As the ambulance screeched into a halt and the patient was loaded into the back with Nick holding Judy's paw in his own, the red furred police officer prayed for the health of his friend.

And now he was pacing a hole into the floor.

Clawhauser had called him on his walkie-talkie, telling him that the criminal had been caught and thrown behind bars by the other officers, being treated none too kindly after running ZPD's favourite bunny over. Heck, even Chief Bogo was meaner than usual to the particular detainee.

'Serves him right,' Nick thought darkly, but he didn't allow his thoughts to linger on the criminal as someone walked out of the emergency room.

The fox rushed up to the sleek black cat with white paws in the doctor's uniform, practically oozing with anxiousness.

"How is her condition? Is she alright? Is she awake?" The officer asked in one breath, earning a gentle paw against his own.

"Officer Hopps' is stable. She suffered a concussion, has injured her left ankle, bruised ribs, multiple bruises over her body, and a few scrapes on her arms and face. She's still out of it, but she should wake up soon. She'll be back on her feet soon enough, Mr Wilde. She's lucky that her injuries aren't too bad, considering the fact that she was hit by a car." The doctor explained patiently, letting Nick register her words carefully.

The fox released a sigh of relief, slumping noticeably from his previous stiff posture. Taking a deep breath, he returned his attention to the doctor, who hid a small smile at the fox's actions.

"How long will she need to be hospitalized?" With those kinds of injuries, Carrots would need to be hospitalized, at least to prevent any trauma or whatever, Nick noted, also realizing that he would need to ask Chief Bogo for a few days off as well to accompany his partner.

"I'll be giving her another checkup once she's awake to make sure that her recovery can run smoothly, so give or take she can be out of here by the day after tomorrow. I've told the nurses to move her to a regular ward so that she can get plenty of rest."

"Right, thank you, Doctor...?"

"Mittens." The cat smiled, sapphire blue eyes shining.

"Thank you, Doctor Mittens." The fox said sincerely, because honestly he was grateful to whatever that kept Carrots alive and well.

"You're welcome. Now, I hate to separate you from your partner any longer, I'd have to ask you to come with me to get that shoulder of yours checked out."

Nick shot the doctor a confused look. "Hm?"

The cat gave the paw rubbing his left shoulder a pointed look. "You need to get that checked out, now come. The sooner we finish this, the sooner you can get back to your friend."

He threw one final glance at the doors to the emergency room. "Right. Of course."

As the doctor and the cop walked away from the room, Nick's thoughts were still fixated on a certain bunny. The dazed look in his eyes caught the cat's attention, who smiled once more at the unintentional actions of the larger animal.

"She must mean a lot to you," Doctor Mittens commented offhandedly as the duo turned into her office. She gestured for him to sit on the chair, moving behind him to find the injured spot.

"Of course she does. We're partners." He winced when the cat hit a particular spot by his shoulder. The doctor muttered a few things to herself before moving away to get whatever medical supplies she needed.

When she was walking back to him, she gave him another pointed look along with a smile that simply said that she knew more than he did. "Just partners?" She asked lightly, applying some sort of cold, soothing gel to the spot that made him relax further.

"We're good friends," He added, closing his eyes as the doctor put pressure on the injured spot, answering a quick 'Yes' when she asked if it hurt.

"I see." She said, amused. "Well, you bruised your shoulder pretty badly, but you'll recover fine in a little more than a week. Anything else that hurts?"

He shook his head, and with that the doctor bid his goodbye as he left to find out where his partner had been relocated.

The feline watched the fox close the door behind him, a smile graving her lips. She glanced over at a framed picture on her desk, one that held an image of a handsome white Labrador and herself smiling widely at the camera, their eyes bright and full of life and love.

"Good friends, huh." She chuckled to herself, almost laughing when her phone rang with the caller's name displayed alongside with his picture. Her smile was wide when she answered the call.

"Bolt, hey," She greeted, humming when his jolly voice greeted her ears. "Oh, nothing much- just met a patient and her friend that kinda reminded me of us." She hummed vaguely, chuckling along with him when he caught on to what she was referring to.

Judy awoke to a splitting headache, eyelids that felt like lead, pain all over her body, and the feeling of someone's large, warm paw in one of her own.

Memories of the car accident resurfaced in her mind as she forced her eyes to open, blinking to clear her blurry vision in the dark room. It was sometime in the night, the curtains blocking any hint of natural light made it hard to see anything around her. The room was silent save for the steady hum of the machines beside her. Speaking of that, how bad was she? She could think straight, given that she felt thoroughly exhausted and sore all over which should be normal. She glanced down, taking in the hospital gown and the bandages wrapped around her arms and paws, also taking note of the red furred paw that held her one loosely.

She turned her head to the side, wincing slightly at how stiff she felt, but her eyes softened when she met her resting partner.

ZPD's first fox officer looked fine. He had changed out of his uniform and was back in his usual green button-up and slacks, the only thing missing was his purple tie.

Her little shift didn't go unnoticed by the sleeping fox. He groggily blinked sleep out of his eyes, immediately straightening up to attention when he realized that the bunny was finally awake.

"N-Nick," Judy tried saying. It came out in as a hoarse whisper, and even that felt like it took up all the energy she had in her system. Swiftly, the fox grabbed a glass of water that had been sitting on the bedside table and handed it to her with a straw. She sipped it gratefully, but whimpered when Nick took away the liquid that was doing wonders to her parched throat.

"Easy, Carrots. The doctor said not too much in one go, unless you wanna risk throwing it back up."

"The wolf- did they...?" Her voice was barely above a whisper, though it didn't hurt to talk anymore.

"Thrown behind bars and now holds another crime above his head for resisting arrest and a hit-and-run. Now don't tell anyone else now, but he's not going to be getting out of jail for anytime soon too, especially for almost making ZPD's bunny into roadkill." Nick answered, not knowing whether he should be laughing or exasperated at the fact that his partner had chosen to ask about the case first rather than of her own hospitalized condition.

"You are one lucky bunny," He chose to comment, pressing a button that turned on the yellow bulb by her bedside table.

Said lucky bunny chose to gave him a confused look that prompted him to explain. "The doctor said that it was miracle that the worst that happened to you was your messed up ankle. They fixed it- by the way- but they mentioned it'll take some time to get back to your top shape. Your ribs are bruised, and you suffered some scrapes and bruises here and there. Oh and, let me add that you suffered a concussion when you hit the road."

Well that explained the pain.

The gray-furred patient went quiet before asking, "How long have I been out?"

"Twelve hours." Nick replied curtly after shooting a quick look at the clock.

She flinched slightly at Nick's snappy tone, which he himself had noticed as he slouched back into his seat. He let his head hang, resting them against his paws, refusing to take in the view of the injured bunny anymore.

"You had me worried back there, Carrots." He chuckled darkly, "I thought I would've lost you."

Judy's heart went out to him, realizing that the fox was beginning to shake. "Nick..."

"I mean it, Judy." He said firmly, no trace of the usual jesting in his shaking tone. "I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life," He added, her ears catching the barest hint of his voice cracking. Her ears drooped even further as she took in the sight of her best friend, "Oh, Nick... I'll always be around to watch your back, best friend's honour." She grinned, hoping he got the message.

You won't be alone. We're partners.

"I'll hold you onto that, Carrots." He muttered under his breath before glancing up at her again.

She was surprised at how fast he made himself somber, easily taking note that he was hiding the fact he was clearing his throat with a cough.

"Well, sweetheart, don't go around doing that again, alright?" The cop said with a weak laugh. "I think you have enough bumps and bruises to last you for your entire career."

The bunny grinned at him, squeezing his paw with her own, albeit weakly but he got the message.

"You know, I've been told that I never know when to give up."

Nick winced uncharacteristically before narrowing his emerald eyes at her. "You better give up throwing yourself in dangerous situations. This handsome, charming, and absolutely chivalrous fox won't last long if you don't."

She laughed, and it hurt to do so but she didn't care.

Judy shot Nick the biggest, happiest smile her rabbit cheeks could muster, earning a chuckle from the fox. When her laughter died down and Nick had settled back against the chair, his paw still in hers though neither brought that topic up, he gave her his signature hooded grin. "So tell me who told you that, because I believe that it wasn't meant as a compliment,"

"Help me sit up first, please? And can I have some more water?"

He complied her wishes, not before teasing her a little. Once she was sitting upright with a slight incline and her throat was satisfied, Nick gave her the go to start.

"It happened when I was eleven." The bunny began, easily drawing the full attention of her partner. She could practically see the gears running in his head, most likely imagining her as a young kit hopping about in Bunnyburrow with her other siblings.

"We have this annual festival back in Bunnyburrow, and I had just finished the play I've told you about before." Earning a nod from her audience. "I was walking around when I heard someone arguing so I decided to check it out." This earned her a sigh as Nick settled for resting his head on his arms that were folded against her bed. "Even back then you were strutting straight into potential danger. How rebellious," He smirked.

"I was wearing a cop's costume too," She shot back, grinning. "I found the school bully harassing a group of my classmates, so I stepped in." Her eyes glazed over for a moment, causing Nick to straighten up in worry, only to be waved off when she came back form a quick trip back to memory lane.

"He tried to scare me, going on about the predator-prey issues but I held my ground. When he figured out that that didn't work, he pushed me to the ground, and honestly, I was slightly sacred," Judy admitted, choosing to play with her bed sheet with her free paw, diverting her gaze away from Nick's curious and confused gaze.

"He was getting in my face, so..." She trailed off, almost looking sheepishly proud at whatever her younger self did.

Nick nudged her, "So...?" Urging her to go on.

She tried, she really tried to stay emotionless, but the smile splitting across her face betrayed whatever she had planned to trick Nick with. "I kicked him in the face."

Nick spluttered, green eyes wide before he started laughing. A genuine laugh, not one of the ones where he laughed to get you off his case, but a genuine, sincere laugh that made Judy smile. He was practically wheezing, hitting himself in the chest to get back his breath from laughing so hard.

"Wow, Cottontail, I didn't think you had it in you!" Nick was pretty much gasping, shaking his head as he recovered. "What happened next?"

She winced at the vivid memory of what happened next, unconsciously moving the paw that wasn't in Nick's one to her left cheek.

"He scratched me," She smiled weakly, but the fire behind her eyes were burning. "Left a scar too,"

"Woah, woah, hang on a little Carrots- I didn't realize that bunnies could get that violent." He raised an eyebrow, suddenly very aware that she had mentioned the bully talking about predator-prey business, as though...he was a predator. Realization dawning on him, he merely stated "I take that the bully was no bunny. What was he?"

Judy didn't even flinch, squeezing Nick's paw tightly in her own. "I just want you to know this beforehand, Nick. That bully and I reconciled- in fact, he was the reason I found out that Night Howlers were flowers and not the wolves."

Her best friend's ears drooped slowly, his eyes blinking in confusion. "You can tell me anything, you know that."

Judy beamed at him, and he managed to crack a weak grin back to her. Firmly, she gave him his answer. "Gideon Gray's a fox,"

The fox before her, her best friend and partner, visibly deflated in his chair. The bunny waited patiently, knowing that it was quite the information to take in.

'So that's why she was scared of me the first time we met? 'Cause some asshole messed her up and... oh god, a fox did that to her face.' Nick's mind was just sprinting with thoughts that he couldn't keep up. A gentle squeeze on his paw brought him back to reality, his rather apologetic gaze meeting her own bright ones.

"Was that why you weren't intimidated by all the other predators, but you were so...wary of me? Because a fox did that to you, and you thought I'd do that to you too." He didn't know if he was asking a question or making a statement, but Judy's appalled features made him rethink his sentence.

"Judy...Are you still scared of me?"

"Oh god, Nick, no!" She was struggling to sit up, but she somehow managed when Nick shifted so that he could help her up, his paw grazing the small of her back. His eyes met her earnest ones and as he tried to look away, her other paw came up to the side of his face, keeping his eyes on her own. "I'll admit this: I was wary being in Zootopia all alone, away from my family, but I knew that if I wanted to be the best cop ZPD ever had I'd have to step out of my comfort zone, even if it meant conspiring with hustling foxes. Long story short Nick, I trust you with my life like I've never trusted anyone else, maybe even more than myself."

Nick didn't look too convinced, but as her paw gently stroked the side of his face, his eyes closing as he relaxed into her touch.

"Dumb fox," She sighed- it was a happy sigh, Nick noted.

"Dumb bunny," He retaliated. He knew Judy well enough to know that she was raising a brow at him, so he merely continued, "I can't believe I almost lost you because of a bank robbery of all things."

Judy chuckled, wincing a little when her ribs ached. "Technically it was a hit-and-run," She corrected.

Nick's eyes fluttered open, the hooded look back with his usual drawl. "I hope you like all those presents he gave you," He said, pointing at her bandages.

"It's a useful reminder for me to be more careful, and for you to worry less." She smiled, her eyes drooping. "Just like the scar Gideon Gray gave me- it served me as a reminder every time I even thought about quitting, I just knew I had to not give up. It's not too bad to have a reminder for that, Nick, everyone should have something that keeps them going."

Nick shook his head, not entirely baffled by her logic.

"Go to sleep, Carrots." He murmured, pulling back a little to adjust her bed and blanket. She didn't answer him, already dozing off slightly.

He turned off the light by her bedside, eyes adjusting naturally even with the sudden loss of light. He shifted, emerald eyes taking in his best friend's- one that he nearly lost twelve hours earlier- figure and sighed in relief.

He moved, half bending over her sleeping figure, and pressed a feather-light kiss on the faded scars of her cheek before leaning back into the seat.

He murmured his next words softly, a small but loving smile on his lips.

"You're my reminder, Carrots. I'm quite sure you always will be."