It's a sad one I know, but with Disney liking to kill of certain family members in their movies, I thought about how the events might unfold in a world such as this one. Just a one shot, I hope you like it.
Also, a character in this (Tala) is introduced in my other fanfic Unnatural if you want to check it out!
Chief Bogo thought that today would be just like every other day at the ZPD. He had no reason to believe otherwise. The morning was crisp, winter taking hold of central Zootopia, and he was relieved to be behind his desk basking in the warmth. His notes were spread across the desk's surface, ready to be organised and briefed once the rest of his officers arrived for their daily shifts.
The rays of the winter sun leaked through the blinds of his window, shining over the words of his documents and almost blinding him, making him squint to see what was typed and what was handwritten. He grunted in annoyance, standing to make work of the blinds that were failing him in that moment. As he rose, he caught a glimpse at the time on his phone; 7:05am.
He smiled a little, knowing that in exactly twenty five minutes, Judy Hopps would be striding in the station with all the enthusiasm in the world, ready to make the coming day better for anyone and everyone. He also knew that Nick Wilde would be about fifteen minutes in her wake, yawning with heavy eyes and glowering at his hyperactive partner beside him in the briefing room. It was always those two first in the building, and it was almost endearing.
His mind lingered on the most unlikely pair in his department, two natural enemies. It baffled him even now, yet pleased him with how well they really did work together. in just a year they had more than enough cases beneath their belt to secure their reputation, as well as making the ZPD a far better organisation than it was before. He couldn't be any more grateful for that.
But something odd happened. Just ten minutes later, his desk phone rang. It made him jump in the slowly brightening room, too loud in such a quiet building. The rings were demanding, desperate for his attention, and he was compelled to answer it. it wasn't like Clawhauser was in yet to answer the never ending calls of the day; he wouldn't be in for another hour.
Eying the phone, he thought to himself, No one calls at this time of morning; Zootopia is quiet at this time. As he reached for the handset, still ringing angrily, he found himself glaring at it like it was a criminal in his office. Something in his gut told him something wasn't right, and that what he was about to hear was not going to do anyone any favours. He could feel the gloom of the day forming just through the rings of the phone, and he could feel the apprehension in his chest to the point it made him sick.
He answered it. "Chief Bogo."
What he heard at the end of the time was a sobbing, unfamiliar voice. But the words that flooded from that voice almost made him drop. The dread was so heavy that his knees almost buckled and his breath hitched. No, no, this wasn't good. This wasn't good at all. But he let the voice speak, taking in their words, never interrupting. As they sobbed, he gave them a moment, closing his eyes in remorse and allowing his features to soften in despair. He could do no more.
"I am sorry for your loss, Mrs Hopps. You can tell Judy she can have a week's leave… please have her text me when she has returned to Bunnyburrow so that I know she got there."
"Will you let him know? The fox? I feel he should know." The blubbering voice at the end of the line said.
"Of course, I'll let him know as soon as he gets here."
"Thank you. Thank you so much." Mrs Hopps replied, and suddenly she broke down into violent sobs that broke his heart, until the line finally went dead. Bogo shook with a sigh, saddened deeply, and completely hopeless.
Judy Hopps' father, Stuart Hopps, had passed away.
Judy was numb. She couldn't feel anything. She couldn't feel the winter cold like she normally did, but she knew it had nothing to do with being wrapped up warm. Her small snout was dipped into her scarf, her eyes heavy as she sat on the mostly empty train going back to Bunnyburrow. She couldn't will herself to cry, despite the agony in her throat that made it difficult to take a single breath at a time. She clutched her chest, feeling the deathly slow beat of her heart behind it. The sound was loud in her ears, slow and steady; yet it pumped painfully nonetheless.
The world flashed past her, not that she really noticed the movement. How could she? All she saw was her dad. It was like he was stood in front of her, smiling and waving and saying how proud he was of her, and the more she stared the more she wanted to believe that this was all just a misunderstanding. But her heart said it wasn't, and her mind told her that all of this was far too real. She had never felt such pain like this. She had never felt the ache of loss; it was like a weight was tied to her chest and pulling her down, trying to bury her in her grief. Yet why couldn't she shed a single tear? Thinking this, the ghost of her dad faded away before her eyes, and she looked down, ashamed of herself. Had being in the ZPD made her cold, heartless? Was she a disgraceful daughter?
She felt her phone buzz in her pocket, and she clenched her eyes shut before she reached for it. She slowly opened her eyes when she had pulled it free.
The text had been received at 8:07am, and the animal that sent it made her nibble the inside of her cheek. She didn't want to think about was Nick must have been feeling, not when she couldn't even understand it herself.
That was all it said. Nothing more, nothing less, just the nickname she had grown accustomed to for just over a year now. But it didn't warm her heart, or light that little bit of annoyance in the back of her mind. She just stared at it with heavy eyes, a long sighed trapped deep in her chest.
A few minutes later, she replied.
She barely heard the sound of her phone sending the text before she got a reply.
Can I ring you?
She shook her head as if he could see her, before punching in two letters with stiff, cold claws.
A few minutes passed, Judy just blankly staring at the chat going on between herself and her partner, probably worried out of his mind back in the city.
I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry, Judy.
She stared at the text for a moment, trying to read and understand the words being said, but it wouldn't sink in. She sighed again, looking out of the window for a moment, before she turned the phone off all together. It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to Nick, or that he was making things worse. Deep down, she knew that she really did need him, now more than ever, but when she couldn't even come to terms with the reality of her situation, how would she ever be able to lean on Nick for support?
She needed her family. She needed her brothers and sisters and her mother. She needed their embrace, their warmth and their love, but even that didn't sound quite right. No, it wasn't right. She knew full well that they would need her. Bonnie Hopps would be unstable and a mess, unable to be a mother, and she needed one her of eldest kits to support her in this time of turmoil. She had to help them all through this, if not herself. They all needed each other.
For now, her new life had to be put on hold. All the friends she had made, even Nick, had to be put on hold. Right now, her family was at risk of crumbling, all two hundred and seventy six of them. She would not let that happen.
She gritted her teeth. Now, more than ever, she needed to be strong.
When she got to the train station, her grandfather was there to pick her up. Pop-pop looked sullen, and gently embraced Judy as if he thought she was going to break down on him. She didn't. She kept her cool demeanour, the absence of tears and grief beginning to niggle away at her. What was wrong with her? She hugged Pop-pop back, pondering what on earth was wrong with her, before he pulled away and took her suitcase graciously out of her paw. She muttered a thank you, and followed him to the truck.
She drive back was silent, but luckily her home wasn't too far away. The silence was thick, suffocating, and she found it hard to focus her gaze on something without giving away the numbness and emptiness she felt. Pop-pop must have thought she was sick, perhaps so ill with grief she didn't know how to respond to it. Maybe she was. Maybe this was her body reacting to the unknown, and sooner or later she was going to break and shatter when she least wanted to. Maybe she would shatter into a million little pieces, and mess on the floor, wailing for her dad to come home.
When she saw her mother waiting for them, for the first time Judy felt tightness in her chest that felt like a building sob. Yet still tears did not flood from her eyes. Even with how broken Bonnie looked, shaking and eyes red with grief, some of her kits clinging to her in silent anguish, Judy was yet to break down. Instead she got out of the truck, steady walked towards her mother, and held her. She held her tightly, both of them falling to the ground, Judy's siblings adjusting themselves to attach onto their sister as well as their mother. Bonnie let out an agonised sob, shaking violently in Judy's arms, but Judy could only hush her gently, nuzzling her cheek with hers in the most affectionate way she could manage.
But Bonnie didn't let up. Judy could hardly blame her. She lifted her to her feet, and some of her older siblings came to help. Maddie and Jay, twins and just a few short years younger than Judy, held the same emptiness in their eyes as Judy felt. They both had brown eyes, usually so warm and welcoming, but now they were only cold. They helped Judy guide Bonnie through the burrows of their home, they place they had all been born and grown up in. Eventually they settled her down in her bedroom, but Bonnie clung on to them all, whispering how she would get through this and that they would all be okay.
"We know, mom." Maddie murmured, kissing Bonnie's brow.
"You need rest, momma, we'll take care of the kittens." Jay said, nuzzling her slightly. But Judy remained silent, gazing at the heartbreak in her mother's eyes and wondering why she wasn't feeling the same way.
As they left the room silently, Tala, the younger, spitting image of Judy, was waiting in the hall. Judy again said nothing, but extended her arms to her little sister, who leapt into them without a moment's hesitation. She let the kitten weep into her neck, soaking her fur and making her shiver with a chill, but Judy didn't mind. She wished she could join her. But all she could think was how many mouths needed to be fed, how many kittens, does and bucks in the family would need consoling, and how on earth she was going to get everyone through this. She held Tala tightly, closing her eyes and sighing into her neck, praying for a miracle.
Tala did not leave Judy's side for the rest of the day. Quietly, moving around the sullen burrow full of droopy ears and heavy eyes, Judy and Tala talked about Stuart Hopps's best moments, before the fever took him. They tried to laugh about his unnecessary anxiety, his little quirks, his booming laugh and the constant joy in his eyes whenever he looked upon his kittens. They reminisced about what a good father he was and other times when he could have been a little better, for instance maybe he could have supported Judy a little more on her journey to becoming a police officer. But no matter what the good or the bad flaws were, Stuart Hopps was a good rabbit and had left a gaping hole in his wake. Never before had Judy seen so many saddened rabbits all at once, and it agonised her.
But she struggled through the day, comforting, soothing and helping as many as she could. It physically drained her, sucked the life out of her, but by dinnertime she was still going. Herself, Tala and several of her older siblings helped make dinner for those who still had an appetite, whereas others moped there way into the great hall simply for the company. It was over one hundred bunnies later before Judy could sit and try to eat herself, though after the third sip of her vegetable soup she suddenly felt sick. Her appetite escaped her, and all she could do was watch the sadness engulf all of her family around her.
And the next three days remained exactly the same, other than Bonnie getting to her feet and controlling her grief for the sake of her family. They were all like ghosts, though some began to cope more than others. The youngsters played together, trying to move past their distress in a positive manner. It was nice to watch. Others simply kept to themselves and let the anguish subside in its own time. Some couldn't sleep during the night so they lounged during the day. Others took up hobbies, such a cooking, as a way of distraction. But some didn't react at all.
Judy hadn't slept since she got back. Her eyes pained her beyond imagination, her exhaustion making her shake to the knees, and her head screamed with headaches that demanded sleep. But nothing ached more than her heart, which pulled her down so much that she was constantly breathless, often unable to speak any words. Her family tried to console her, but she believed that she didn't need it. To be consoled you had to be crying, right?
By day three she had concealed herself to her room, refusing to talk to anyone. She sat in the corner, knees drawn up to her chest, her eyes sweeping the many photos she had pinned up on the walls. Several were of her and her dad, which made her heart split in two to even look at, and she let out gags and sobs that were pathetic without the tears. Her ears hung almost painfully, like they were ready to be stretched and exercised, but they never left the small of her back. She tried so hard to sleep but she could just never quite drift off; sometimes it was the cry of another sibling, shouting for their dad, whereas other times it was a memory that kept sleep at bay.
Many siblings came to her door and left just the same, but the most frequent was Tala. She called to her sister constantly, hoping to give her a hug, saying that hugs made everything better. But Judy never replied. She just wanted the numbness to engulf her, to take her away where it was safe and where she could see her dad again. She closed her eyes, willing tears and refused to surface, wishing she could see her dad again, even if it was just once. Judy had never been good at goodbyes, but this was something else. This was something that life had never prepared her for, and never before had she felt more alone.
She hadn't touched her phone since she was on the train. Perhaps her silence was maddening her friends in Zootopia. Perhaps she was causing more hurt to others than she was herself, but she just couldn't bring herself to care anymore. She needed to be alone, to figure this all out herself. One way or another, the hurt was going to engulf her in a violent manner, and she wanted to be alone when it did.
But one sly fox was never going to let that happen.
On the third evening, Tala's little voice called through the door. "Judy! Mr Fox is here to see you!"
"Go away." She called back, tangled in her sheets and lost in her emotionless thoughts. She hated herself for saying such harsh words to Tala, but she knew her little sister would never take it to heart in this time of crisis and despair.
"But Judy," came her mother's voice, "he came all this way! It's cold outside; don't keep the poor thing waiting."
"I don't want to see anyone!" she shouted, wriggling so that she could glare at the door. She heard a faint sigh, and she continued to glare until she heard her mother and sibling reluctantly retreat. It was then that she relaxed again, rolling in her sheets and sighing into the mattress. It was good of Nick to come this way, truly it was, but-
A knock on the door sounded. "I hope you're decent, Carrots, 'cause I'm coming in."
Luckily for the both of them, Judy was decent, clad in her bed shorts and baggy t-shirt. Nick slowly opened the door, peeking inside almost sheepishly, and his lusciously green eyes caught the violet of Judy's in a heartbeat. Silence passed between them, and Judy managed to push herself into a sitting position.
"Oh, Carrots," Nick sighed, looking at her hopelessly. "When was the last time you slept?"
"What does it matter?" she replied, sniffling even though her nose was dry. "I can't even cry for him, so why should I have the pleasure of sleeping?"
Nick blinked, taken aback for a moment. He was wearing that ugly green shirt, his favourite shirt with the equally ugly purple striped tie that hung loosely from his neck. He looked pitying, gazing at the broken rabbit on the bed in front of him, and he leaned against the door and a gaze that made Judy feel almost angry. She felt herself shake when he began to close the door.
"Don't." she said, biting her lip.
"Judy, I'm here to help…"
"What can you do, Nick? He's gone, my dad is gone. I don't know how to cope with that, I've never lost anyone in my life before! I need to keep them all safe, I need to help mom, I can't go back, I can't leave them-"
"Hey, hey, slow down…"
"No! I don't want you here, Nick! You have to go."
"I'm not leaving." Nick sounded stern, gazing at her firmly, forever stubborn. She took in his posture. He always stood confidently, even now. He was leaning against her doorframe, arms crossed, the line on his mouth straight and firm. He never even looked up to gaze at her childhood bedroom, a room he had never been in, for he refused to let go of her gaze.
"Yes," she growled. "you are."
Nick barely had time to duck from the hurtling pillow flying towards him. It smacked against the door and flopped over his head and to the floor, but before Judy could see his reaction she had her face buried in her paws, shaking her head.
"Please go," she whispered, and silence enveloped her. She could feel his eyes on her, probably judging her, hating her, but she didn't dare look up. She didn't need to. She heard the click of the door, and for a moment she thought he had truly left. But that was all she needed. At long last, in that moment, she felt herself give in to the grief that had been biting at her heels for three days. She fell into its pit, sobbing uncontrollably and repeating "why?" over and over again. She thought she was falling, never to return, and the pain in her eyes from the tears and exhaustion was almost too much to bear. They burned, just like her heart burned as it was engulfed and splitting in two all at the same time.
But the mattress began to sink beneath her. She didn't look up, but she felt the warmth, heard the quiet breathing above her, and she couldn't stop herself. How silly of her to think Nick had really left her there. Instead her was on the bed with her, untangling her from the sheets, his paws on her shoulders as he tried to turn her to face him. And she fell into him, arms around his neck as she wept into his shoulder, soaking his fur the same a Tala had hers. He held her close, nuzzling her cheek silently, letting her weep. His tail was wrapped around the both of them, warm and secure, and Judy could only cry her eyes out and ask Nick "why?", even though he had no answer for her.
She didn't know how much time had passed. Maybe it was minutes, maybe it was hours, she couldn't tell. But she felt the tears begin to slow, and her body beginning to go heavy against Nick's chest. But she clung on and he continued to hold her, not letting go until she was ready, but she didn't think she would ever be ready to let go.
But heavier she grew, and Nick gently began to lay her down. Her pillow was in the middle of the mattress, and Nick made sure to lay her head on it. For a frightening moment she thought he was going to leave her, but instead he adjusted himself to lie next to her. Animals, though evolved, preferred to sleep like their primal ancestors, and in this moment Nick wrapped his body around the rabbit, his tail curling round to rest near Judy's cheek. He lay how snout on the pillow, and soon Judy found herself enveloped in his embrace, his arm around her waist and pulling her snuggly into his side. She leaned into him, preferring to use the fur in his neck rather than the pillow, and instantly felt herself drifting.
"Get some sleep, Carrots." He murmured, yawning himself. "I'm not going anywhere, not for a second."
She believed him, and with a shaky breath, she let herself drift away at long last. Nick had broken the barrier, shattered the numbness and had allowed her to feel again. Sometimes the pain had to be earth shattering before anything could begin to heal, but somehow Judy thought that maybe she could get through this. To have her family around her was one thing, but to have her best friend with her, too?
And when she woke up in the night for a brief second, she felt safe. Not only was Nick still there, fast asleep and still holding her, but in her arms lay Tala, also fast asleep against the fox's warmth. There had been confirmation that her family had long since accepted Nick into her life as well as their own, but this further confirmed it. Nick had gained the trust of an entire burrow, for they had allowed him into there home, through their halls and into a family member's room without complaint. Furthermore, one of her little sisters felt safe enough to sleep next to him, her heart saying that she felt as safe and comforted and Judy felt, and that was only Judy needed to hang on to. She knew that at first Stu would have had a heart attack to see this, but eventually he would have been just as supportive as Tala was right now.
For the first time in days, Judy found herself smiling ever so slightly. She hugged Tala tighter, who moaned contently in her sleep, and in response she nuzzled deeper into Nick's fur. And back into her slumber she fell, just as Bonnie smiled fondly into the room unbeknownst to Judy.
"If Stu saw this," Bonnie murmured to herself, "he'd surely have shouted down the entirety of Bunnyburrow." She smiled, wiping away a tear, before she caught the eyes of Nick, which glowed in the dark. "Thank you." She whispered. "Look after my babies."
Nick looked down to his side before looking back up to Bonnie at the door, and he nodded, not uttering a word. He was smiling, but it was a kind smile, a smile Bonnie had needed to see for a few days now. He returned to his slumber with her two kits, and Bonnie finally closed the door quietly. Judy thought she was invincible, Bonnie knew, and that she could take care of everyone, but deep down she needed a little taking care of, too, providing it was from the right animal.
Bonnie knew that, one way or another, they would all get through this.
Thank you for reading:)