Chapter 2

Michael was sulking in the passenger's seat of their car, his little arms folded on the chest.

"You were totally mean, dad." He grumbled eventually.

Nicholas cast him a look with the corner of his eye. "I am simply making sure that you won't be fooled by some strange females."

"Judy is not strange!" The little fox blurted out angrily.

His father kept his eyes on the road and took a right turn. "You can't know that."

"I know! I talked to her, we played together, we've spent more time doing something fun than I ever get to spend with you…" Mike's voice faltered a bit at the end of his outburst, thinking that the last bit was maybe a bit too much.

The car stopped at a red light.

Nick turned to his disturbed son. "Michael…" He didn't sound angry or hurt over what the small predator said, but then again, he never did. "You know I'd like to spend more with you, but…"

Mike shook his head. "You have an important job. Yeah, I know that, dad. I've heard it a million times already."

The lights turned green and Nick continued driving. And their discussion was only heating up, even when they reached the underground parking lot and later on, their apartment.

"I'm saying this because, as your father I want you to be safe." The adult fox closed the main door behind them and took off his coat.

"So what, next you'll lock me up in a cage?" The boy mocked his parent and kicked off his shoes.

"Michael…"

The little fox turned to him. "I want to have a normal life, dad! A normal family, so that I won't have to pretend that some stranger is my mother!" His words were becoming louder with every sentence said.

Nick frowned hearing this. "Now wait a moment, she said that it was your teacher's idea that the rabbit is your… mother." He had trouble getting that word out of his mouth.

Normally, Mike would have ended this discussion here and not venture deeper into such a topic. But he felt aching emptiness after having his enjoyable time with Judy being cut off that quickly. "No! It was my idea! I asked her to do it!"

The adult fox threw his scarf to a nearby shelf. "You did what? Michael, do you have any idea what could have happened?! You had no guarantee that she was a police officer, it could have been a scam or even worse!" He raised his voice, something he almost never did.

But Mike was too angry to care, the bitterness of the situation piling up in him for years and now finding a crevice to spill out. "So what?! If had a mother, I wouldn't have to ask a stranger to be one for a day!" His own voice rose to a shout.

"Watch your tone, young mammal!" Nick warned his son with a raised finger.

"Or what?!" The boy yelled back, tears in his eyes. "You'll sue me, huh? That's the only thing you're good at, no wonder that mom left us! I HATE you, dad!" Mike screamed and ran away to his room, leaving a speechless fox in the hallway. Nicholas Wilde reached out after the boy but his arm almost instantly dropped down. He placed both paws on his face and shook his head slowly.

.

.

Later that evening, Mike heard knocking on the door of his room. The boy was sprawled across his bed and covered himself with a big blanket to hide from the world and his father in particular.

"What?" He grumbled.

"Michael, may I come in?" Asked a soft voice from the other side of the door.

The boy didn't move and considered his options. It was the first time he had such an argument with his father and still felt a bit angry. Still, despite his young age, he knew that what he said must have hurt his father. And it's not like he really hated him. It was something he screamed to voice out his bitterness and helplessness over not having a mother like all other children.

"Yeah…"

The door slowly opened and Nick walked inside. He sat on the edge of the bed and after a moment of silence reached out to the blanket. "Hey…"

Mike moved away from his touch and the adult fox withdrew his paw with a painful sigh. "Son, I know that you are mad at me… and I am sorry for yelling at you. That should never happen."

"Whatever." He got an answer muffled by the blanket.

Nick eyed the Mike-shaped blanket roll with a guilty expression. "Michael, I'm sorry. I don't want us to be like this. You're everything to me and I… I don't want to make you sad. Can I make it up to you somehow?" He pleaded with the small fox.

And at that moment, like when he saw Judy Hopps, Mike had a sudden idea. An absolutely crazy plan that could either end in a catastrophe or something wonderful. A wide grin spread on his muzzle.

"Yeah? Like how?" He asked his father.

Nick spread his arms and shrugged. "I don't know, you'll have to tell me. Something you'd really like."

A moment of silence, followed by a strategic sniff from Mike. "Anything?"

This made his father chuckle. "Alright, anything you want, you little rascal." He used an old nickname that he gave Michael long time ago.

"You swear?"

"Yes, yes I swear." He reached out again and this time Mike didn't move.

The boy popped his head from the blanket and decided to drop the nuke. "Then take Officer Hopps for a date, three of them. And be nice to her."

Nick's paw froze, along with the rest of the fox. For a moment, it looked like he was paralyzed.

"Excuse me?" He eventually breathed out with a shocked expression.

"You heard me, go and invite her for three dates."

The adult fox's expression shifted into an annoyed one. "Michael, that's taking a joke one step too far."

"I'm not joking, dad."

"Now look here, young man…"

But the little fox cut in. "Dad, I'm tired of this. I'd like to have a normal family and not see grandma's sour expression at Christmas when we go for dinner to her and she asks me in the kitchen whether you've dated anyone this year and why didn't you bring some lady friend with you."

Nick's eyes widened in surprise. "What? Martha was asking that? Since when?!"

Mike rolled his eyes and let out a sigh at his father reaction. "Every year, dad."

The adult fox deflated and rubbed his forehead. He suddenly looked very worn out. "Listen, it's not that simple…" But he paused when his son walked over to him on the bed and wrapped his little arms around his neck in a hug.

"I want you to be happy too. And that would the best Christmas gift for me, you know? So please, at least try?"

Nick sighed, not able to refuse his son. "Alright." He hugged him back. "But what if she's not willing to go?"

Mike pulled away and gave his father a smug grin. "Dad, you're a fox and an attorney. You'll think of something."

Hearing the boy's logic, Nick couldn't help but to stifle a chuckle. He pulled Mike to his chest and hugged him again. "Alright, wise guy. A promise is a promise. And Wildes…"

"…always keep their promises." Michael finished for him.

"Yeah, that's right. This old man of yours will give it a shot."

The little fox smiled and cuddled to his father's chest. "I love you, dad."

"I love you too, little rascal."

.

.

"Um, once again, why are you here, sir?" Officer Benjamin Clawhauser leaned over the desk to his guest. The ZPD's receptionist and dispatcher had doubts that he heard the red furred predator correctly. One more time, he eyed the business card he just received. It was very simple, as it contained only the name and the contact information. Then again, the name was enough.

Nicholas P. Wilde

Almost every active duty police officer knew who this mammal was. It was the name of a sly attorney, who many times has clashed in court with the ZPD and most of the time won the cases. And now he was here, at Precinct One, to ask…

"If it's possible, I'd like to see Officer Judy Hopps." Nick took off his sunglasses and stared at the feline. He was dressed in a black suit with a white shirt.

The plump cheetah scratched the back of his head. Given the history he had with ZPD, this fox's personal visit surely was a bad sign. Clawhauser couldn't exactly think of what kind of trouble Hopps had gotten herself into. And his thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice.

"Mr. Wilde?"

The fox turned around to see the grey doe standing in the hall, brushing off snow from her uniform.

"Hey, Judy. You… know each other?" The cheetah asked, nervously eyeing the fox.

The bunny tilted her head slightly to the side. "You could say that. What brings you here today, Mr. Wilde?"

Nicholas cleared his throat. "There is something I'd like to discuss; can we talk somewhere more… private?"

Judy raised a curious brow. "Alright." She led him to one of the empty offices and closed the door. "What can I help you with?"

"I wish to apologize for yesterday."

The doe blinked. "Excuse me?"

"My words and actions were inappropriate, especially considering the fact that you have went out of your way to help my son." He stated in a calm manner and Judy didn't sense any dishonesty in his words.

"Well… apology accepted, but then again, I didn't mind it that much." She shook her head with a smile.

"I am glad that we had a chance to clear that up, Miss Hopps. Also, as a token of my gratitude, I would like to invite you for dinner, if you won't mind."

This time the doe's eyes widened from surprise." A… a dinner?"

"Precisely." This time he showed her a smile, but she couldn't decipher what was the motivation behind this expression. "I know a very good restaurant that we could visit."

"Well, I… Honestly, I have a lot of work…"

"As do I, but I can adjust to whatever time is convenient for you."

"I usually finish my shifts in the evening…"

"A late dinner then."

The bunny was clearly defensive. "Um, I… I don't… I don't have any fancy clothes to go to a restaurant." She raised her paws in front of her.

The fox raised a brow, apparently enjoying this conversation. "We could always find something before going."

The doe's ears drooped and she offered an apologetic smile. "Sorry, but I can't afford any shopping of that kind at the moment."

Nicholas Wilde folded his arms. "It's not a problem since I'm buying." He answered smoothly.

"What? No! I could not accept such a-"

"My son's smile is worth more than a piece of fabric." The fox cut in. "Consider this a gift from me and Michael."

Judy was about to say something but hesitated. She placed a paw on her hip and gave him a gaze of her amethyst, half lidded eyes. "You're really keen on me accepting this invitation, aren't you?."

He replied with an unreadable smile. "Yes, yes I am. But only if your boyfriend won't mind."

"Isn't it a bit late to ask about that?" The doe questioned him.

The smile never left his face. "I could also ask him directly."

Judy shook her head with a grin. "Would be difficult. I don't have one."

This caused Nicholas to raise his brows in surprise. "Am I to believe that such a pretty and young doe wasn't approached by any males?" He snorted with distaste. "Hmpf, bucks these days…"

This statement made Judy laugh. She was happy with the compliment and the fox's reaction was also entertaining.

She finally gave in and they agreed on Friday evening.

After Judy walked the fox attorney to the door, Benjamin was still on edge.

"Hey, what was that about? Are you in any trouble? He's not the nicest mammal out there, you know?"

Judy raised a paw to stop her friend's stream of questions. "It's all right, Benji. He just invited me for dinner."

The cheetah's jaw dropped down. "He what?!"

She rolled her eyes at him. "Dinner, Benji. D-I-N-"

"He asked you out on a date?!"

Judy's ears sprung up and she huffed at his comment. "It's not a date!"

But the feline wasn't convinced in the slightest. "Uh-huh, one of the best attorneys in Zootopia, who happens to dislike ZPD, just walks in here and asks you out for a dinner? I don't buy that. It's a date, mark my words."

The bunny let out a tired sigh. "Whatever…" But as she walked to her desk, she couldn't shake the word 'date' from her mind.

.

.

"And? Did you talk with her? She agreed?" Mike was practically bouncing from anticipation in his seat in the car.

"Whoa, whoa, slow down. The defense calls for asking one question at a time."

"Ok, you talked with her today, right?"

"Yes."

Mike motioned for him to continue. "And?"

Nicholas put on a smirk while changing lanes. "And what?"

The little fox punched his father playfully on the arm.

"Ouch! That's assaulting a key witness." He said with a wide smile. The fox was truly enjoying their chat. Once again, he came late to school, but Mike wasn't gloomy at all, rather all hyped up and keen on learning all the details.

"Come on, dad! Tell me more!"

"Alright, her three sizes are…" He was punched again.

"Not that! Cut it out!" The little fox scolded the adult, but in truth, he was also having fun. It was very long since the last time they had such a pleasant conversation.

"Did she agree?"

Nicholas kept him in the dark for a bit longer, but eventually admitted the truth. "Yes, she agreed. We're going on Friday."

Mike almost jumped from joy. "Yes!"

"Oh, really now? What little scheme you have in mind now?"

But the small predator folded his paws and put on an innocent expression. "The defendant pleads not guilty."

The two foxes shared a hearty laugh.