A/N: Trying to write in past tense for once instead of present.
Edit: 1/1/2018 : A minor rewrite fixing some tense errors and sentence structure.
Chapter 1: Judy Makes a Move
Nick and Judy had been working at the ZPD for about two years now. Despite every subtle hint she dropped, Nick never asked her out on a date. Judy decided this was enough and that she was finally going to do something about it.
Nick never took time off since working with Judy was such a pleasure. By her calculations Nick must have accumulated at least two months. It was the perfect time for her to ask Nick out on a date given complex dating rituals, they would need all the time they can get. Since that dense fox wasn't going to ask her out on date, she was going to take initiative. "Nick, want to go on a date with me?" She decided it was worth the risk in a world where interspecies couples were unheard of let alone their courtship rituals. Zootopia was unified but that was still a very guarded secret.
Nick seemed shocked at first, uncertain of how to respond. They were in the ZPD working filing paperwork, she just asked him without any warning whatsoever. A loud squeal from Clawhauser interrupted his thoughts. He realized that he was there motionless for a few minutes at least. "Say yes!" The cheetah was always over enthusiastic about nearly everything.
It seemed easy enough, it was just something he wanted but never dared to pursue. "Yes." He had no idea of what he just agreed to, for one does not simply just date a rabbit. "So, where are we going?"
"Bunnyburrow for two months. I know you have enough vacation time," Judy replied.
"You're actually going to take time off?" Nick shouted in surprise.
"Judy's taking time off?" Chief Bogo was apparently listening in on their not so subtle conversation. "I'll even give you both a bonus. Please leave immediately." It came as a surprise to Nick. Chief Bogo was smiling for once or struggling to maintain his frown. It was one of his better faces. The buffalo normally wore a grimace on his face.
Judy informed Nick that because of lapine traditions, they had to go to Bunnyburrow. Nick wore his green Hawaiian shirt and grey pants. Judy wore her pink shirt and blue pants. Nick felt comfort by her choice of clothing. She didn't wear anything fancy or extravagant when leaving.
They were in the car driving towards Bunnyburrow. "Is that population counter for real?" Nick inquired, glancing out the window as the car passed signs. The huge population counter made him shudder. His first thought was it can't be real.
"Of course it is, that's why bunnies date in Bunnyburrow," Judy replied.
"What does dating in Bunnyburrow have to do with it?"
"It's a lapine tradition. I already broke one of them by asking you out. Dating being restricted to Bunnyburrow is one of the mechanisms of population control."
"Carrots, what are lapine traditions anyway? You know that despite Zootopia being formed, all of this is kept secret and hidden," Nick said.
"It's kept secret for a reason, you'll found out soon enough," Judy replied with a smirk.
They drove into Bunnyburrow without arousing much suspicion. They're just here for normal business after all. A vacation, a break from work. They arrived at Judy's home. Judy's family greeted them enthusiastically. "I didn't know you were bringing a friend over," said Bonnie. Her green attire reminded Nick of the days he tried to join the cub scouts.
"I would have told you but didn't have time," Judy replied. This was a rather delicate situation and must be handled with care, she already broke one of the customs.
Nick was confused at what was going on and said, "Judy, you didn't tell them at all? That we were coming?"
"It's been extremely hectic you know," Judy said in her defense.
This was Nick's first visit to Bunnyburrow and the first time he's been introduced to Judy's family. His instincts told him that something is wrong. Stu finally comes to see what the commotion was at the front of the house.
"Why is there a fox in the house?" Stu asked with confusion. Stu's green shirt makes Nick think back to the day the cub scouts rejected him. Nick started to pant in fear.
"It's okay Dad, he's my partner, Nick Wilde," Judy replied.
"You didn't even tell us that he was coming," Stu accused.
"Nick, are you okay?"
"Just fine Carrots, some flashbacks from the past, that's all," Nick replied, finally getting his fear under control. He didn't realize that a simple visit to Bunnyburrow would be this emotionally taxing, or Stu's green shirt would set him off.
They deposited their belongings at their respective rooms and Judy showed Nick around Bunnyburrow. She made it abundantly clear that this was not their date. This is just her showing him around. She brought Nick to one of the few places that serve both prey and predator food.
They visited the only place in Bunnyburrow that dared to cater to prey and predator alike. It had an ironic name at best, Unity. The establishment had an aura of fear despite the inclusive atmosphere. Nick couldn't tell what felt off, the restaurant was immaculately clean showing off its marble floor, but it still gave him an uneasy vibe.
Nick glanced at the tables surrounding them, all the tables were either prey or predators. There weren't any that had both. Judy seemed extremely nervous at the restaurant to the point of always fidgeting something with her paws and struggling to stay still. Nick asked, "Judy, are you okay? Is there something wrong?"
"Nothing, nothing at all. Everything is fine, nothing could go wrong at all," Judy hastily replied.
"Are you certain?" Nick asked out of concern.
"Yes, stop asking! Everything is fine." Judy shouted, attracting the attention of everyone else in the restaurant. Thankfully, Judy calms down and they don't attract more attention. "Look, I'm just stressed okay, it's the first time you're in Bunnyburrow."
Nick was thankful that the other patrons just took a quick glance at their location without doing anything else. "Why won't you tell me anything? You keep saying this isn't a date, but it certainly feels like one," Nick said. He felt confused over Judy's behavior, it's not what he expected from her at all.
"How can this be a date?" Judy replied.
This left Nick speechless. He finally decided to open the menu. He was shocked that they served rabbit! The menu had not only one dish, but many combined with many extravagant flavors and designs. "Is this for real?" he pointed at the picture with a shaking paw.
"It's just a joke. Don't order it," Judy said. The truth was far more complicated than that. She hoped that their date could finish, and that Nick would be unscathed by Bunnyburrow's influence.
The restaurant also served normal fare like bugs. Nick ordered a normal dish deciding to listen to Judy's advice.
She paid for all the food with a smile on her face. Nick didn't object at all because it was a welcome change from her trying to hide her fear. This experience is just very unsettling for him and he thought it would be best not to provoke Judy further.
Judy seemed worried about this not date more so than he ever was, he agreed because for foxes the female is supposed to ask. It's something he always wanted but didn't dare go against the cultural norms of his species, dating a bunny would be enough, asking a bunny out would be too much.
The way back from the restaurant wasn't much better, they continued in silence without any conversation to clear the tension. Judy seemed rather worried about something, but Nick didn't dare ask.
Before they went into their separate rooms, Judy gave Nick a chilling reminder that their date is tomorrow. Nick marveled at the architecture, this entire complex is mostly underground. It had enough space for multiple rooms. The rooms themselves were large enough to contain personal effects It was amazing how many rabbits can live in such a small place. Nick agreed to date Judy but what has happened so far wasn't what he expected.
At least, Judy's family members are giving him peace and quiet. Nick thought of the day's events, he really couldn't figure out why Judy is acting so bizarre. Marital customs of species are kept hidden, but they couldn't be that different, could they?
His room was mostly empty, with just the luggage he brought with him for his stay at Bunnyburrow. Nothing seemed abnormal to him except for the menu at the restaurant which Judy assured him was just a joke. Judy was just acting strange for no reason.
The next day, Judy was overjoyed as if she's back to her usual self. Nick doesn't know what caused this change but didn't complain.
Judy said, "It's time for our date, aren't you excited?"
"Where are we going this time?" Nick replied.
"To the basement."
Judy guided Nick through the labyrinth of her home. Nick observed the surroundings as they moved past them. The house seemed rather grand with tons of rabbits going about their business, then they went to a dark and foreboding place within the complex. It's been a few minutes since they last saw any rabbits. The scent hit Nick first, it smelled foul with the stench of death. It had been a few minutes since Nick last saw someone else. No one lived in this area. Nick asked the same question again as they continued traveling through the complex.
"On a date, obviously," Judy replied. Judy doesn't seem scared at all of what lies ahead. That reassured Nick that nothing is wrong. He trusted Judy, after all, she's the one who turned his life around. Despite his increasing reservations and fighting his instincts not to flee, he followed her onwards deeper to wherever it may lead.
For one does not simply date a rabbit.
A/N: Well, the title should give away where this story is going to go.