"Judy? What's a strip mall?" Claire asked the rabbit holding her paw as the group passed by the outdoor welcome sign.

The Gardens

"Well, it's sorta like the market place back home. The only real difference is that we have larger shops to look through." The older sister explained.

"Hmm." Claire hummed.

"We should get the same decorations Ma uses, so when they come over they'll feel right at home!" Charlie piped up.

"Hey, Edmund? Where ya going buddy?" Nick asked, watching the tyke trail off from the rest of the group.

Snow caked the sides of the road, billowing up above the kit's heads into fluffy mounds of white.

Fluffy mounds of white which little bunnies such as Edmund had a difficult time avoiding. The bun crawled up atop the nearest mound and hopped, giggling as the snow crunched underfoot each and every time he landed. He turned around to look at the rest of the group, who watched as he leaped and laughed. He hopped again, extra high this time, and when he came down, he vanished into the snow pile, much to the amusement of his siblings.

Nick sighed, rolled his eyes and ambled over to dig him out.

Walking into the first décor store, Edmund shook the last bits of snow out of his floppy ears, slinging it onto the ground as he walked in. The tapir shop clerk gave him a dirty look, so the tyke gave him a dirtier one right back. The lights of the rooms were awfully bright, reflecting off of the pristine white walls and giving the store an almost gold feeling. Aside from being awfully pretty to look at, the lighting showed off the rich colors of the Christmas decorations sitting snug on every shelf. Welcome mats with silly phrases about there being "No place like home" and faux-velvet pillows adorned the aisles.

"So, what exactly are we looking for?" Nick asked, pulling a wax figurine in the likeness of a little angel off the shelf so as to take a closer look.

"I'm looking for tinsel, and a lot of it." Judy explained, peering down each aisle they passed.

"And tree ornaments!" Claire chipped in.

"Yeah, don't forget the tree ornaments!" Charlie added.

"Charlie, don't copy me!"

Nick let the kits fight, continuing down the aisles at his leisure. Tinsel and ornaments, tinsel and ornaments… You'd think something as shiny as either of those two items would stand out immediately.

Tinsel and ornaments, tinsel and ornaments…

Tinsel and-

Hey.

Wait a second.

"Judy?" he called out to her.

The doe and her four siblings turned to meet the fox, putting down the decorations they had been looking at.

"Why do we need tree ornaments?"

"To decorate the tree." The littlest sister clarified.

"We don't have a tree."

Judy's eyes widened slightly before returning to their normal size. She nodded, understanding the pickle they're in.

"Why don't we just buy one?" Joey suggested.

Everyone thought on it for a moment.

"Yeah, we'll just pick a tree up today." Judy concurred, continuing her search.

"Well, we ought to go soon. We don't want them selling out before we get there." Nick said, disgruntled.

"Calm down slick, we'll get around to it."

Pacified, he watched as his mate and her siblings made their way back down the aisles, simultaneously regretting his decision to not buy one of Finnick's shady – in the worst possible sense of the word – trees.

"And that's where the phrase 'Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings' comes from." Nick explained, holding the door to the garden center open. The kits oohed and aahed at his commentary on classic holiday film quotes, following him into the shop.

"Can we watch that movie tonight?" Claire piped up.

"I would have loved to," Judy began, teeth gritted, "If Nick hadn't finished spoiling some of the best parts just now."

"C'mon carrots. It's the spirit of the film that really touches the soul, not the plot."

The group ceased their banter to take a look around as they walked further into the garden store. You don't see this much greenery in the city very often. An escalator sat in the middle of the gargantuan, green shop, offering to take its patrons up to the second and third levels should they so desire. A fine mist permeated the air to keep the plants nice and fresh, and the lingering scent of flowers tickled their noses.

"So, what are we here for, carrots?" Nick asked.

Judy shook the star struck look off her face and reached for the folded list in her pocket.

"Garland."

"Uh huh."

"A wreath, I guess?"

"Mhm…" the fox hummed.

"Uh, pinecones would be nice."

"Pine cones smell good!" Joey added.

"And a bouquet of poinsettias for the table. That's how Ma used to do it."

"All right, sounds simple enough."

They split off into two groups, scouring the store for each of the items on the list. Joey spotted a pretty garland wrap composed of soft green magnolia leafs; a wonderful find. Equally impressive was the wreath Charlie noticed on the second floor. Pretty pinked bows had found themselves woven amidst all the flowers that adorned hoop, creating a piece worthy of being pinned to even the most prestigious of doors.

The group reconvened on the first floor.

"So, what else do we need?"

"Pinecones and poinsettias." Judy explained, looking down at her list again.

"What's a poinsettia?" Joey asked, tugging at Judy's shirt.

"You remember those neat little pink flowers Ma sets out on the kitchen table before Christmas dinner, right?"

The kits nodded.

"Those are poinsettias."

The kits broke out into oohs and aahs again.

"I remember seeing a stand over there-"Claire began, standing on her tippy toes to point over the rose display case and too the back of the store, "-that said they had fresh ones!"

"Then what are we waiting for?" Judy exclaimed, gathering up the children and running off to investigate.

All the children aside from Edmund.

"Rabbits, I swear." Nick chuckled, watching his doe head to the back of the store in a hurry, "I don't think I'll ever understand their obsession with flowers, you know what I'm saying little dude?"

He looked down at his side, Edmund having disappeared without warning.

"Little dude?"

He spun around enough times to make himself dizzy. Where could that child have scampered off to now? Nick scanned the shop for him again, and where he found the fuzzy bunny made his fur stand on end.

The tyke had crawled up the side of the escalator, and now dangled precariously at the top.

Nick jumped to attention, but aside from that was absolutely clueless about what to do. He'd never be able to make it up there before the little bunny let go. The only reasonable course of action was to…

He scrambled over to the bottom of the escalator, reaching it just in time to catch the rabbit as he inevitably let go. Edmund plopped gingerly into his arms, seemingly unfazed by his near death experience.

"Ok… You're ok… I'm ok…" Nick panted as he smoothed the rabbits ears back against his head, "We're ok."

"Are we interrupting something?" Judy asked, her little off-group finally returning.

"Back already?" Nick gasped out, still recovering from his heart attack.

Judy raised an eyebrow but dismissed his behavior as just Nick being Nick.

"Um, yeah. We got a great deal on Pinecones as well, so we can head out now."

"Sweet, sweet." Nick replied, placing Edmund back on the floor. "So, where to?"

As his siblings and caretakers gathered at the front entrance so as to leave the garden center, Edmund stole off to the second floor of the store again, this time riding the escalator like a proper mammal (He didn't get many things right the first time, but god save the creature who insinuates he can't accomplish whatever he sets his mind to). He approached the counter and was greeted by the cashier.

"What can I get for ya, my young sir?" The rhino started, "We've got candy-"

Edmund motioned for the cashier to be quiet with a swipe of his paw. He pointed at the mistletoe sat atop the desk.

"This?" the rhino asked, incredulous.

Edmund nodded.

"Thirteen ninety-five."

Edmund crossed his arms and stared at the much larger mammal, obviously displeased with the price quoted.

The cashier huffed, "nine fifty."

The little rabbit held his stare.

Groaning, the rhino tore a sprig of mistletoe from the rest of the plant, dropping it into the bunnies waiting paws. Edmund took off, pocketing his new found treasure before joining his family again.

Edmund walked between his sister and that fox guy she likes so much, holding their paws as they strolled along the sidewalk. Occasionally, he would lift his feet up off the ground and swing – you know, the thing we would all do back when we were kits his age – relying on the two adults to prevent him from falling bum-first on the cold side walk. His trust wasn't misplaced, as Judy made certain to look over at Nick every so often, reminding him that he should, indeed, not let the little rabbit fall.

Regardless of how funny that might be.

As they walked, Claire and her other two brothers took to admiring the many snow mammals now standing throughout the streets, giving their own impressions of what each of them might sound like should they spring to life and start frolicking around the strip mall.

"Shaping up to be a neat little Christmas, ain't it?" Nick asked his mate, Edmund still swinging like a pendulum between the two of them.

"One of the best, oddly enough." Judy said through a warm smile, "Wonder why that is?"

Nick scoffed and waved his paw in the air dismissively. "You're only spending it with the most dashing fox in the city."

Judy thought for a moment, pressing a finger to her pursed lips.

"You know what, maybe-"

"Is Santa Claus!" Edmund shouted, pointing eagerly out in front of them.

"Who?" the remaining fluffle plus one fox asked in unison.

In the center of the mall plaza stood a bright attraction. Presents piled up in a circle 'round a tree which managed to be modest in height alone (the workers had to put the thing away after the holidays mind you) by sticking out like a crimson-bushed sore thumb. It was a fake tree, nobody would argue with you on that fact. The leaves of the tree were a flashy red which undoubtedly caught eyes. All the better for it to be fake and odor free, as in front of the tree sat one jolly red fox in a cushy purple chair.

"Well would you look at that." Nick said with a smile that managed to walk the fine line between kindly and smug, "It's Shanta Claws."

The kits didn't spare a moment in dashing away from their parental-figures for the evening, nearly tripping over themselves in an effort to meet the saint with the snowy white beard.

"Are you sure the real you're Shanta Claws?" Charlie asked as he and his siblings crowded around the well-known gift giver.

"Well ah-"Mr. Claws began.

"Of course he is silly, look how fat he is!" Claire explained excitedly.

"Hey!" the newly confirmed real Shanta Claws cried.

"Yeah, show some respect Charlie!" Joey said.

"Yuh!" Edmund chirped.

"Are the little ones causing you any problems Mr. Claws?" Judy asked warmly, walking up to the kindly mammal and four less-than-kind kits.

"Ah shucks, these kids?" The Claws began, taking a moment to look at Charlie before starting again, "Not at all. Ah was just about ta ask 'em what they're expecting in their stockings tomorrow morn-"

He paused, as the doe had taken to staring.

That accent, that face; No amount of beard could cover this fellow up.

"Hey, don't I know you from somewhere?" Judy asked with a smile.

Nick looked down at her, raising an eyebrow.

Shanta gave a panicked look, motioning for her to cut it out as her siblings looked back at her.

"Uh… nope." He replied, the kits turning back to him.

"Oh, I must be mistaken." The doe said, choking back a giggle.

"Jeez Judy, how could you possibly know him." Claire scoffed.

"Yeah, he's the most important mammal in the whole wide world." Joey added.

Judy gasped, taken aback by their comments.

"Well, what does that make me then!?" Judy cried, looking between the kits and the Claws.

"Relax fluff, 'most important mammal' is a point of view I think." Nick assured her with a nudge and a wink.

"Now kids, ya sister is a smart bunny. She did take ya to see me after all…" Shanta added to the conversation.

"Well, we sorta just stumbled upon you, but that's neither here nor there." Nick mumbled.

"So since ya'll are here; why don't ya hop up on ma lap and tell me-"

"Ok, me first!" Joey interjected, climbing the red mountain of a mammal before him.

"Alright." Joey said, making himself comfortable, "Now this is going to sound crazy."

He paused.

"Wait, maybe it's too crazy."

"Nah nah, go on now kiddo." The chubby red fox coaxed.

"Ok, ok, ok!" Joey said, giggling hysterically. "This is my first time spending the night over in the big city-" The rest of the group continued listening intently, "- and the best Christmas present ever would be a full tour the Zootopia Police Department!"

Mr. Claws looked over at Judy who wore a conflicted look on her face. She looked up at her mate, who seemed equally unsure. Chief Bogo wasn't particularly keen on giving little kits full tours. Such a tour would entail a walk through every lab and holding facility the building had to offer, and having a child running amok might be too big of a liability.

"You see, Shanta, I want to be a ZPD Officer when I grow up, just like Nick!"

Judy rolled her eyes, ignored again.

"Well, Shanta will see what he can do for ya." The wise, white-bearded fox concluded, patting the little bunny on the head.

"Ok Joey, Ok Joey." Charlie repeated, growing a little impatient. "It's my turn now." He explained before gritting his teeth, "Get off."

The eldest brother grumbled something inaudibly before hopping off the Claws' lap, his long ears nearly waving out behind him as he landed. Charlie began the climb up Shanta, but needed a little assistance from Nick to reach the top.

"Alright son," the saint said, patting the little bruiser wearily, "What'll it be?"

"I want a dry erase board."

The Claws squinted, leaning in a little. He wasn't sure if he heard that correctly.

"Uh, what was that?"

"I want a dry erase board for Christmas."

"Ah, uh… um-"

"C'mon Santa! I've been an extra good boy this year-"

Judy had to elbow Nick in the ribs to prevent a snide chuckle.

"-and I'm gonna be even more gooder next year. Please."

Shanta bumbled through his words some more before catching his tongue again.

"Nah, I know, I know. Ah just didn't take you for the type of kit to want that sorta thang."

Charlie grimaced at the old saint. "What's that supposed to mean."

Shanta went back to fumbling over his words.

"I tutor my siblings in math back on the farm. I'm gonna be a teacher someday, and every teacher needs a white board, right?"

"Teacher?" Shanta asked, incredulous.

"Of course! It makes a heck of a lot more sense than ZPD Officer."

"Hey!" came the collective cry from Joey, Judy and Nick.

"No offense."

"Well alright then. Ah do believe ah can do that." Shanta assured, looking over at Nick and Judy, whom simply nodded. "Yes, ah do believe ah can."

"But it has to come with like, three markers, ok?"

Shanta Claws chuckled, full of Christmas mirth.

"And a big eraser, got it?"

"Got it."

Satisfied, Charlie leaped from the Claws' lap and onto the floor below, allowing his sister to crawl up and take her place on the jolly ol' fox's lap.

"Hi Shanta." Claire whispered, wrapping her arms around the big guy's neck.

"Hey there darlin." He replied, reciprocating the hug. "Ah like your onesie, it looks awfully warm."

"Thank you Shanta." She replied bashfully.

"So what can ah be getten ya this Christmas?"

The kit took a moment to reply, almost as though she was too embarrassed to say.

"Go on now." He said with a smile.

"Well…" she began.

Everyone leaned in, waiting for her next words.

"… I like race cars, you see?"

"Ah see." He assured her.

"But Ma and Pa went and bought me just about everything I could have asked for."

"Hmm…" the fox hummed.

"But there is one thing."

"Ya?"

"Have you ever heard of Shirley Gayla?" she asked him.

"Well, ah do believe I have." Shanta assured her, patting her back. "She's only the best racer in all of bunny burrow!"

"I want to meet her."

Shanta froze.

Goat lord, can't any of these kids ask for something normal, like a bike or something?

"But hun, Mrs. Gayla is…"

"What?"

He searched the air for an excuse.

"She's a Hippopotamus, she could eat you up in one bite!"

Claire broke out into a fit of laughter.

"Mammals don't eat each other silly! Besides, my teacher said Hippos are vegetarians, so I don't see why it should matter."

The Jolly old saint – though his jolliness was beginning to wane – wiped his brow.

"Alright, Ah'll see what ah can do for ya."

"Thanks Shanta!" Claire exclaimed, wrapping her arms around his neck again, "You're the best."

Strange requests or not, she was a sweet kid. He smiled as she climbed down from his lap before turning his attention to the littlest one of the bunch.

"And what about you, little guy?"

"Meh?" the little bun asked, looking to either side of himself.

"Yeah you, ya goofball" Judy assured him, helping him up onto Shanta's lap.

"Ah wan uh oole oop." he explained, taking his seat.

.

.

.

"A what?"

The rabbit siblings – including Judy – looked amongst themselves. Somehow, they were all stumped with this one. Never had they ever encountered an Edmund sentence they were unable to translate, but this was giving them a run for their money.

Shanta looked their way anxiously, and seeing he wasn't going to be getting any support any time soon, he spoke up again.

"Sorry kiddo, can ya repeat that?"

"Ah wan uh oole oop."

.

.

.

"Right…"

Edmund stood up on the lap beneath him, taking the fox's chubby cheeks in his paws.

"Oole Oop." He enunciated.

"Golly- Um, well…" Shanta began, unsure of what to say. "Ya asked it, so it shall be done!"

As the kits finished up their meeting with Shanta Claws – Judy was sure to take a photo to show her folks later – Nick stood on the sidewalk, fumbling with his phone. It wasn't easy to type on a touch screen with wool mittens on.

Hula Hoop

He marked it in his notes, right under ZPD visit, dry erase board and Shirley Gayla.

If one were to look up at the sky that evening, they'd be immediately convinced that some cosmic writer had gone and spilt his inkwell in the atmosphere. A thick winter's blackness coated the heavenly above so earnestly that you'd have no choice but to worry that even the sun itself couldn't peel it all off come morning. Looking back down, however, the same person would find that a cosmic artist – no doubt a friend of the writer's – had, in their rush to help clean up the ink spill, dropped their paint palette to the earth below. Verdant greens and milky lavenders and blues so cool your spine chilled just looking at them filled the strip mall grounds as the owners of various shops turned powered their nighttime Christmas lights on.

To put it in the simplest terms possible: the kits absolutely enamored in every way, shape or form possible.

Joey stared in a confused state of shock at the blue lit icicles which hung from every willow tree planted in the plaza. They flickered in a descending pattern as if the bulbs themselves had been dripping onto the floor, and if they really had been, they may have never have torn him away from the scene.

Nick lifted Charlie up onto his shoulders (with great effort, mind you), so that the chubby rabbit could watch as the toy train passed by on tracks lain up ahead. The locomotive itself was spackled with lights ranging from colors you'd expect to find on the sea floor to a yellow so pure it looked as though a royal might wear it in place of their golden crown.

Claire's pink sleeves darkened slightly as she wiped the tears from her eyes again. Fitted to the side of the highest building in all of the mall were lights which shone like precious amethyst in a pattern obviously meant to be a snowflake. As high up as it were, it looked absolutely massive, and it projected itself down onto each and every mammal which walked the streets below.

Edmund explained in his shaky speech that he had seen better (although he truly had not).

As they walked, they made faces at the reflections which stared back at them every time they passed a store, their heads haloed and crowned by the toasty, flaxen indoor lighting.

As Judy bought the Christmas linens at a nearby clothier stand, flakes of white fluff started their slow descent to ground, slowly building up in numbers until a good snow began brewing.

Nick bought them all popcorn and they took a seat on the curb.

Taking the moment's rest as the opportunity she had been waiting for all day, Judy leaned against her fox, rubbing her face against his coat, which he gently opened for her to join him in. She turned to her right to see the kits still discussing what the prettiest sight to see was, and melted into him a little more.

"It's not bad." Nick whispered to her.

"Mmm?" she cooed back.

"This whole family thing."

"Mmm."

They sat still for a little while longer, ebbing with the sharp night air. Despite the kits' continued clamoring, they'd found a moment of silence inside the fox's soft coat.

Judy had a particular scent about her, one that hit you all at once when you pressed your nose to her neck and breathed in. It was soft, if that made sense.

Nick had a particular scent about him, one that tickled your nostrils a little before over whelming you. There was something sharp about it.

"You know whiskers, all this green stuff is really gonna stink the apartment up."

"It's only for a day." She mumbled into his chest.

"Exactly, why bother buying all of this stuff if we're only going to use it for a single day out of the year."

Judy sniffed before nuzzling into him a little more. "We'll have it for next year."

Next year?

Before he could worry about the future, the bunny rabbit at his side weaved an arm through his jacket and up his body. She carefully caressed the nape of his neck, lulling him into a soft purr.

"Wait!" Charlie shouted, leaping up from his spot on the curb.

Judy's eyes shot open as she sprung up from her own seat.

Sending the top of her head crashing into the fox's lower jaw.

"Sorry! Sorry…" she grumbled, examining the spot she head butted with both paws. "Charlie, what is going on?"

"We don't have a tree!" the kit shouted, spreading his arms out wide. The rest of his siblings exchanged worried glances.

"If we don't have a tree, Shanta Claws wont. show. up." The chubby bunny stomped his foot between each word for emphasis, "that's the rule!"

"We passed the mill a little while ago, can't be more than two minutes away." Judy said, helping Nick off the curb.

He rubbed his jaw before speaking.

"Let's head on over then." He took a brief pause, mouth still aching. "They couldn't have possibly sold out yet."

"What do you mean you've sold out!?" Nick screeched in a voice a few decibels too loud for public spaces.

The badger working the tree mill ran a paw down his long face as he listened to the fox complain.

"Sir, if you were in need of a tree, why hadn't you come earlier?"

"I-"Nick yanked on his own ears in frustration, "I don't know!"

"Well, that is hardly my problem. Have a good day."

"So I guess no tree, huh?" Charlie asked, disappointed. He took his seat next to the rest of the family on the first bench they happened upon after leaving the tree store.

Nick let out a heavy groan, resting his head in his own lap.

"What's up foxy?" Judy asked, turning to her partner.

"It's just-"he mumbled.

The rest of the group watched him. Joey raised an eyebrow.

"Is he ok?" Claire whispered.

"I- I…"he stuttered again.

"sput out!" Edmund demanded.

And with that, every ounce of resistance left his body. His shoulders limped in resignation.

"I think I know a guy. Just head on home. I'll be there in a few."

The bunnies looked amongst one another, confused.

"So, let me get this straight." The fennec began, drinking in the comedy of the situation. He laughed. "She brought her siblings over, and they want a tree?"

Nick rolled his eyes as his former partner babbled on.

"So you come crawling back to me?" the dusty fox continued, nearly falling out of his lawn chair as he cackled violently.

"I'm not crawling."

The fennec shot up from his lounging position.

"You know what, you aren't."

.

.

.

"But you should."

.

.

.

"What?"

"How much do you want that tree?"

.

.

.

Sighing, Nick got down on all fours before speaking again. "O' great and merciful Finnick, won't you please sell me one of your overpriced trees?"

Curiously, it didn't seem as though his heart was truly in the performance.

The smaller fox couldn't care less, however, and had already broken out into another fit of laughter.

"Alright, alright. Sure man. You can't keep the kits waiting, can ya?"

Nick stood back up, dusting his paws off on his coat.

"Right, we can't keep the kits waiting." He said through gritted teeth.

The fennec paused.

"We?"

"Well, I can't very well take this tree all the way home without your van, now can I?" Nick explained, crossing his arms.

"Wait, this isn't part of the deal Nic-"

"I crawled, Finnick."

"But-"

"It's Christmas."

"Nick!"

"We'd better get going, I have a few other errands I'm gonna need you to run with me." The taller fox explained, thumbing through his phone.

"What!?"

"Get the wrapping paper off of the van and let's go."

"Nick."

"Finnick."

His heart didn't grow two sizes that night, nor did his shoes fit him any better – in fact, he didn't wear any shoes – and his head wasn't screwed on any more right or anymore wrong then it had been at the beginning of the day. He only nodded begrudgingly, agreeing to take Nick wherever he wanted to go.

A familiar rhythm played out on Judy Hopps' apartment door in quick taps before the door itself swung open, revealing a red fox, a tree and a slightly smaller fox.

"Cavalries arrived." Nick said with a deep bow and a flourish before setting the tree down in the corner of the room. It wasn't until Nick got a real good look at the place did he drop the hero act.

Nick and Finnick now stood in the middle of the apartment, awestruck. The kitchen table was set with Judy's nicest silverware and decked with the linens she had bought at the mall. On the floor sat the Christmas ornaments, opened and ready for placing upon whatever tree the fox happened upon. Nick turned around to see the wreath Charlie had picked out placed neatly on the inside of the door. The smell of the poinsettias mixed with the other green scents forming something that smelled oddly like…

Christmas?

In the middle of it all stood a fluffle of bunnies, the tallest one with her paws on the youngest ones shoulders.

Finnick couldn't form words.

"You guys like it?" Judy asked.

Nick simply nodded.

"Bab fuch!? Whut!?"

The fennec shook his head, dismissing the holiday haze that almost took him over. He turned to the little bunny rabbit now addressing him. "What?" he replied, baring his teeth, "What did you just say to me?" he went on, rolling his sleeves up as he continued.

The tyke, who had previously been star struck, was now walking towards the tiny fox with equal indignation.

"He's just impressed to have found a baby fox is all. Can you really blame him, Fin?" Nick asked as he leaned against the kitchen table, careful to not upset the well placed decorations.

The doorbell rang. Nick and Judy exchanged glances, silently agreeing that Judy would stop Edmund and Finnick from pummeling each other and Nick would embark on the less threatening and yet equally important task of opening the front door.

As he let the door swing open gently, he was greeted by the kindly faces of two worn out carrot farmers.

"Mom! Dad!" Judy exclaimed, beckoning them inside.

"Ma, pa!" the rest of the fluffle echoed, following Judy to greet them properly, ignoring the still fuming fennec fox.

"It's great to see you Mrs. And Mr. Hopps." Nick said warmly as they walked further into the room.

"Likewise son." Stu affirmed, removing his farmers cap.

"I love what you've done to the place kids! It feels just like home." Bonnie tittered, looking around the room.

"Oh, well you have Judy and the kits to thank for that, I-"

The doorbell rang.

"Ah, I'll get it!" Judy exclaimed excitedly before walking over to the door, "You guys should catch up."

"So, how has the winter season been treating you guys down at the farm?" Nick asked, straightening his back out.

"Oh, as well as one can be expected." Stu said with a chuckle. "Are things going well for you two out here? I'd imagine it would be pretty cold walking the beat during this time of year."

"Do you kids need blankets?" Bonnie asked.

Nick smiled at the offer but waved his paw dismissively, "No, we have all the blankets we need. A cop's salary isn't that bad."

The group fell into another laughing fit.

"Nick?"

The fox's ear flickered at the sound of the familiar voice, and when he turned, his heartbeat stopped for a good second.

Or two.

"Mom, hey!"

The vixen standing in the doorway smiled politely, but wore a bewildered look.

.

.

.

"It's… good to see you!" she said, looking around at the bunnies littering the room. "You… have guests!"

Closing authors note: The next one shouldn't take as long to publish as this one did, and I'm truly sorry about the delay. I haven't been feeling very well these past few days, with my head too cloudy to think properly at best and pounding as though someone had struck me with a bat at worst. To make matters more complex, I'm not in the happiest of places right now, which doesn't really gel well with writing a Christmas themed story. It was supposed to be my gift to you all for the holiday season, but looking at the calendar, I don't think it's going to wrap up this year.

Super sorry about all of this, guys.

Regardless, I hope you all had happy holidays, and if you don't celebrate them I hope you had a fantastic weekend. Also, do drop me a review if you find the time. They may not seem like much, but they certainly make this whole publishing thing worth the process, regardless of whether they are meant to praise or to critique the work.

And now I thank you all for your wonderful support. It's been an absolute blast interacting with each and every one of you through private messages or down in the comments (depending on which site you read this on). It's nice to find other like-minded people whom share my passions.

That being wildehopps.

I'll see you all early 2017.