A/N: Hey guys. Here it is, the next installment and boy is it a doozy.

Some of you guys wanted me to visit the WildeHopps household again and so I delivered.

I'm sorry that it took over 1,5 months again to post this, but I hope the length makes up for it.

And lastly, I'd like to thank JKnight97 for his excellent work on editing and suggestions for the story.

Oh and I want to thank DancingLunarWolves for his brilliant idea for... let's just say that this chapter revolves around his idea...

so now, enjoy reading it

...And please don't hate me for this...

28th of July 2007 6:12 p.m.

Back alley on Hill Street, Zootopia

An hour ago, an extremely agitated Tiberius had stormed out of his parents' house, desperately trying to bring some distance between him and them after yet another botched dinner.

At some point his walk, which started with getting on a bus and aimlessly deciding on a stop to go off, he had called up Baron. He knew he needed someone now who wasn't too involved with all the crap surrounding his life. Someone who could tell him not to hang his head low when the shit is piled up to his neck and, if someone could understand him, it would be Baron.

So, they agreed to meet in a couple of minutes in an alley which both knew was quiet. And the best part about the alley was that it only had one direct access and the back was fenced off with wood.

Months ago, they found this place after they were driven away from their spot at the picnic table from school by a very angry janitor. This place was perfect for them to have quite the substantial amount of privacy.

Once Baron would park his van into the alley, the entrance was blocked off for most large mammals, and the fence in the back had a loose board which they could always slip through easily, making it easy to escape over the parking lot behind it.

The next plus was that the only other mammal who seemed to frequent this alley was a run down hobo who went by the name of Gums.

Speaking of which, Tiberius thought to himself as he saw some cardboard moving behind a dumpster as he entered the alley.

"Hey Gums!"

"Urgh," grumbled a dirty and foul smelling skunk from his sleeping place. "What is it? Tiberius, that you?"

"Yup," Tiberius said as he pulled out his wallet, producing a bank note from it and handing it to the hobo. "I need the alley today. Go treat yourself to a pizza or something."

"A tenner? Too generous my boy. How long should I be gone?"

"Just a few hours."

"For a fiver extra I ain't seen nothin', heard nothin' and be sayin' nothin'."

"Nah, nothing like that," Tiberius chuckled despite the turmoil he felt. "Cops won't be rummaging through your belongings."

"Very funny," Gums grumbled as he sluggishly scrambled to his feet. "But you take good care of yourself anyway, alright?"

"Don't I always do that?"

"You don't. That's why I'm telling you," he said as he walked out of the alley and waived without looking at Tiberius.

With that exchange done, all that was left was waiting.

Shortly after, the alley was filled with the sound of an engine that had the best years behind it and the red gleam of tail lights as Baron's van backed into the alley.

The motor was killed, Baron scrambled from the driver seat into the back and opened both trunk doors, already holding one beer can in each paw.

"We need a clear mind or nah?"

"Why is everybody assuming I'm up to something?" Tiberius asked as he took the offered beer and cracked it open.

"I'm not gonna answer that," Baron said as he picked up a camping seat from the van's floor, flicked it open with a quick motion of his wrist and placed it on the ground outside his van. "So, you sounded like shit when you called me and you also look like it. What up, Tib?"

"I just needed a beer, that's all," Tiberius said, trying to find a way to start talking his mind without looking like a gigantic wuzz. "So how's life?"

"How's life? You drag my tail here, a place only we both know, which you haven't even told your dear sister or the nerd squad of to ask 'how my day is going?'"

"Well, that's what friends do, isn't it?"

"No, friends don't lie to each other. And even if your lying was at least passable at the moment, you can't fool a swindler. Now, if you don't mind, you speak up or I'll be out of this joint."

"Alright alright, you won," Tib said as he took a seat and sighed as he cheered with Baron. "I'll talk. Just give me a minute to find the right words."

Baron then simply shrugged and waited patiently as he started to drink his beer.

Then, Tiberius broke the silence out of nowhere. "It's about my brother."

This piqued the interest of the weasel. "What about him? Any news?"

"That's the thing," he said as his eyes became unfocused and glossy. "It's been exactly a year since anyone has seen him. And I… I… "

Tiberius paused as his words turned into choked up yips. With that cue, Baron got up and pulled his friend into a - what he hoped was a short and manly - embrace. That hope was cut short as Tiberius buried his face into the weasel's shoulder and balled his eyes out, mumbling incoherent nonsense for a while.

"Alright bud, male up will ya?" Baron said after a few minutes of enduring the uncomfortable situation. "So what about it?"

"Fuck dude, I'm the reason!"

"The reason for what?"

"For everything! If we hadn't made that skid, my parents wouldn't have flipped and he might not have run away! Since then, my parents have been fighting constantly. It's all my fault that we're not a family anymore, and they blame each other rather than me. I can't take it anymore."

"That's where you're wrong buddy," Baron pushed him away. "It was your idiot brother's idiot decision. Who ran away, huh? Not you, not your sister. The only one who is to blame here is your brother."

"Don't you DARE call him an idiot!"

"He is," Baron continued unphased as he took a firm grip on the arms of Tiberius, as he expected a slap or any other violent outburst. "And now you listen closely. He is the only one responsible here. Damn bro, I did my shit, so did you and so did he. So what? The worst punishment you guys would have gotten would've been house arrest. And your brother runs away. Sorry but that was weak and dumb in my eyes."

"I don't know buddy. I mean, you left your dad as well."

"THAT is a whole different story," Baron barked at Tiberius. "My father gave me the belt even on days where I did nothing wrong, just because sales didn't work out or when he lost our cash with poker. Don't try to compare me with you. I hate my dad and you don't. I have a reason to, and you don't. Yeah, your old folks might not be the best parents, but they are far from the worst! So male the FUCK up, and stop feeling sorry for yourself. That's not you, and you're not Charles!"

"I guess you're right," Tiberius replied. "But still, what should I do to make them stop fighting? It's literally the worst."

"Again, it isn't. The worst is when one or both start hitting each other. They haven't been physical with each other, right?"

Tiberius sighed after another long sip. "Nah they haven't… not yet at least… but who knows what they'll do if they continue. I'd like to stop before it is too late for them. Do you have any idea?"

Baron just sat on the rim of his van as he tried to collect his thoughts. He knew exactly what he wanted to say but the delivery was crucial as he still didn't want to hit his friend with a reality that might feel like a plank to the face.

"Yeah I do. And you won't like it."

"Whatever it is, just give me an input, just anything at all."

"The fact of the matter is, that you can't change your parents. Whatever hustling techniques you think you learned won't help you since it's not an issue between you and them, it is between both of them. All you can do is move forward yourself."

"So I'm basically powerless. Great, just FUCKING great!"

"I wouldn't say so," Baron replied before drinking from his can.

"What else is there to do then?"

"There is a gamble you could take. But before I continue, let me tell you something. I won't be reliable for any steps you might take."

"Spit it out, bro."

"You could move out. Not in a cloak and dagger fashion like Charles did, but you could stand before them and tell them that you had enough."

"Ok ok ok, first of all, that's the dumbest thing you could suggest."

"Why's that?" Baron asked over the lid of his can.

"Well first of all, who is watching out for them then?"

"Are you now?"

"No but... "

"But what? For fucks sake, they are adults. They have to live their life, just as you have to too."

"Ok, then to the second point. Where should I stay? I have no job as I'm still in school."

"So? Didn't bother your brother much."

"Baron, I swear!"

"Alright alright, I'm just messing with ya. My aunt could take you in for a few days. Just until the dust at your home has settled. There is a bus lane that goes directly to school, you just have to wake up a few minutes earlier to catch it."

"Well, what about Lilly then?"

"What about her?"

"Believe me, she is suffering as well. I don't know what it is, but she changed over the past few weeks. I don't know what happened but she's very reclusive, hardly talks and she's kinda sluggish recently."

Baron pinched the bridge of his nose. "Then my invitation is for both of you. Jeez, is it so hard for you to ask for help?"

"You'd really do that?"

"For fucks sake, of course I would. Have you listened at all? I know how hard it is to live in a house where you just don't want to be near at."

"And what about the nerd squad comment?"

"Listen, I refer to them like that because they are not like us. Does that mean that I wouldn't help Frank or Mort as well? Of course not. They are my friends just like they are yours. You are just my best friend of the bunch. Did that finally sink in?"

With that, Tiberius pulled Baron in a hug again. "Thanks buddy. Thank you that I can always count on you."

"Alright alright pal," Baron said as he patted his back. "Just don't make this awkward again, will ya?"

"I think I'll head back home now," Tiberius said as he backed away and emptied his can. "I'll keep in touch with your offer."

"Sure thing dude. You want me to drop you off at home?"

"Nah I'm good. I think I'll take the time to think about some stuff. Besides, you sure you're alright to drive?"

"Why shouldn't I be? That bit of beer hasn't hurt me in the past, why should it now?"

"Just saying. Don't let the cops catch ya."

"As if I'd be scared of the fuzz. They don't patrol the roads I'm goin'. Oh and one more thing. If we have to pull this through, don't be an idiot and tell your old folks where you'll be staying. That would definitely make it worse."

"I will keep that in mind. Thanks again."

"Don't mention it."

And with those words, Baron pulled in the camping chair, folded it with a similar flick as he did earlier and shuffled towards the driver seat and drove off.

A few minutes after his friend had disappeared, Tiberius reluctantly made his way back home as well. His thoughts were still a chaotic mess - and it was about time that he sorted them - but at least he had a silver lining on the horizon. With the offer he just received, he felt as if a massive burden had been lifted from his shoulder.

Subconsciously straightening his shoulders and holding his head up high he boarded the next bus which would directly take him back to Meadowlands and one stop away from his home.

Sadly, in the two-and-a-half something hours he was gone, nothing had miraculously changed. His parents were still arguing about some infinitesimally important thing and didn't even realise that he came back. He doubted that they even realised that he was gone in the first place.

Remember: I can neither help nor change them. This is not my battle, he thought to himself as he made his way upstairs to his sister's room. After all, he wanted to share this little sliver of hope that was given to him with Lilith. He hoped that the dark clouds on the horizon that surely plagued her as well as him would part just as they did for him.

He knocked at her door gently but received no answer.

"Lilly, open up, I know you're there," he said as he knocked a little harder, still with no answer. He did notice that there was no light creeping through the bottom of the door.

Maybe she isn't here… Did she have the same idea as me earlier? Normally, she'd call me if she goes out, except if... Ah, I think I know where she is!

With that thought he fished out his phone and dialed Francis' number. A few rings later the phone picked up.

"Whaddup Tib? You hanging in there?"

"Yeah, all good. Say, is Lilly with you?"

"Naaah," he Francis bleated into the phone. "I'm hanging out at Mort's place."

"Did she call you or something?"

"Nope?"

"And you didn't get any calls from your old folks or something? Like she's there?"

"What is this about, Tib? You're starting to worry me."

"You and me both, brother. Please, call your old folks and keep me posted."

"Sure will do. Tell me when something develops on your end."

"I will," Tiberius confirmed and hung up.

Maybe she's just on the way there… No need to worry…

A few minutes later, he heard a phone ringing but it was not his. It came from beyond the door he was still standing in front of. Shortly after the ringing stopped he got a text.

"Old folks haven't seen her and she doesn't pick up. -F"

Tiberius was now knocking vigorously at her door.

"Open up silly-Lilly, I know you're in there. Stop playing around!"

No answer still.

Fuck this! Tiberius thought as he already fished out a metal shim out of his pocket and crammed it between the door and the frame. After he broke his credit card doing that trick he opted to upgrade his tools a little. The shim had the same size and thickness as a regular card but it was far sturdier than hard plastic. But unfortunately, Lillith must have tinkered with the bolt after the last time he got himself unwanted access as the shim couldn't unlock the door, no matter how delicately he tried.

After giving up on that method, he produced a set of lockpicks and a tension wrench from his pocket

Think you can lock me out? Think again, sissy.

He inserted the tension wrench in the keyhole and applied some gentle force on the device as he tried to brute force the lock as he assaulted it with a rake-pick by vigorously inserting the pick and pulling it out, always changing it's angle. Soon enough the tension wrench turned as the lock gave in.

Gotcha!

And so opened the door and the worry was washed away instantly. There she was, laying on her bed, sleeping silently.

God, I'm a wreck. So much fuss and then she just sleeps there as if the world doesn't exist, Tiberius thought as he chuckled at himself.

"Worry's over. She's just asleep. -T" he texted Francis

"Thank heavens. But at that time? Isn't that a bit odd? -F" came the almost immediate reply.

Odd indeed. Probably too much stress with the whole dumpster fire around here, Tiberius reasoned as he debated if he should wake her up nevertheless. Well, all the more reason to tell her about my convo with Baron.

"Hey sleepy head, time to wake up," he said quite loudly as he stepped closer and stared to poke her shoulder as he reached her. "Stop playing games now, I've got something to tell you."

No answer… no reaction at all in fact. Not even… a rising of her chest.

"Lilly?" he said before he put his ear over her muzzle. Thankfully he could hear and feel the faintest breeze of air coming from his sister's nose. From his new point of view however, he could see that she was clutching something in her paw. Something orange.

Gingerly, he took the object from her paw and saw that it was an orange medicine tube.

He let some pills fall in his paw and curiously enough, they had the same shape and color as… his… father's… pills…

His eyes went wide as he dropped the container in shock. His mind just clicked. For a few weeks she had become reclusive, didn't talk much and became sluggish…

"Oh no. No! NONONO!" Tiberius shouted as he dove for his sister to shake her violently. He even got so far to give her some slaps on her cheek, in a desperate attempt to wake her up.

"What did you do? WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?! YOU STUPID IDIOT?!"

As she still didn't react at all, he picked her up and dashed downstairs where Nick and Judy were still arguing.

"YOU TWO SHUT UP NOW, WE GOTTA GO!"

"Not now Tiberius," Nick said as he was in the middle of his tirade.

"YOU LISTEN TO ME, YOU PILL-POPPING FUCK!"

"TIBERIUS! WHAT…" Nick started as he turned towards his son in the doorframe. Whatever he thought to say was washed away as he saw his limp daughter in her brother's arms.

"THAT'S RIGHT! SHE TOOK ALL YOUR PILLS! START THE CAR RIGHT NOW!"

Without losing a beat, Nick shouted "Keys!" towards Judy which pulled a key ring from her pants and threw them towards the already stretched out arm of her husband. All their petty squabbles were forgotten instantly.

Moments later, they all were in the family car and Nick let the tires screech.

"No fighting now, got it?" Tiberius demanded from the back seat. "Dad, you concentrate on the road. Mom, make a call to the hospital."

"Will do," Judy said, and pulled out her own phone to call 911.

"Is she… is she still…"

"Yes Dad, she still breathes but weakly."

"And you think those were my pills? That can't be."

"We can clear that later. Firstly, we will need to get help for her…"

"You're right. Hold up. Fluff, open the glove compartment."

Without a word she pulled out a strange contraption that looked like four megaphones mounted around a rotating light. She plugged the strange thing into the 12V socket of the car and it started to whail and flash in a blue and red light. Without the car still moving full speed, Judy opened the window and fixed it on the roof of the car.

"Wait, isn't that illegal?" Tiberius asked.

"Not for police officers, honey. This might not be an official police car but we have our badges."

"If you say so!"

Thankfully, the citizens of Zootopia knew exactly what to do once they saw emergency lights and heard sirens. The drivers in and directly opposite of their direction slowed down and did their best to move their vehicle out of the way, while crossing vehicles on traffic lights almost instinctively stopped and didn't enter the crossing even when their light was green.

Within minutes they arrived at the entrance of the E.R. and Tiberius carried his sister to the reception where nurses were already waiting.

"Wilde-Hopps?" a concerned looking otter behind the desk asked.

"Yes, please help her!"

"We'll do our best," the otter said as another nurse helped Tiberius to place Lilith on the stretcher gently and started running off towards the inner bowls of the hospital with said stretcher.

After he knew that his sister was in the best paws possible, he called Francis who picked up before the phone rang once.

"Code red! Come to Saint Johns hospital!"

"Mort, get your parents. We gotta go," Tiberius heard from the other line.

"Got it. But how would you fit in our car?" came a reply that was even more muffled than his friend's voice.

"Don't care, that'll work somehow."

"I know! Our neighbors are elks. They will surely help."

"Thanks bud. Please make it double time!... Oh and Tib?" The last sentence was clear as day again. "Thank you… I don't know what's going on, but I feel like I need to thank you."

"Save it for later, just come."

"Will do." And with that the line went dead. He did not realise that he was still in the middle of the hospital's reception as he started to scream and his balled fist connected with the wall next to him with full force.

As his mother came over in a futile attempt to calm her son down, he realised that what he just did was a big mistake.

Her paw touched his shoulder and as he wanted to start to accuse her and his father about how all of this is their fault, he tried to stretch out and point a finger towards them who made an awful cracking sound. The pain that came was almost unbearable as he sank to his knees, clutching his injured paw.

Another nurse who was present at the moment - and witnessed the display - hushed his parents away and guided him away.

"Check for the next free x-ray room," she said to the receptionist who was already typing on her computer.

"There is actually a free one. X27B. Aaaaand booked."

"Thank you Charlotte."

With those words the nurses parted ways and the lioness nurse - Tiberius would later learn that her name was Veronica - guided him further.

"Honey, you need to open up your paw for the x-ray," Veronica said after she had put Tiberius' still clutched paw on the x-ray table.

"I can't. It hurts when I try to move anything."

"I understand, but still. Try your best."

He did, but try as he might, the paw wouldn't open with his mental commands only.

"Ok, let me help you. Don't worry, I'll be gentle," the nurse said as she tried to stretch out his pinky digit first. After she succeeded and Tiberius pulled through with his pained hisses, she tried her luck with the ring digit, then the middle digit. On the index digit however, she didn't even have to touch it before her patient grumbled and yiped in agony.

"I think I see the problem," before she continued and stretched out the thumb and placed the paw in a way that the x-ray machine would get a clear picture of the index digit.

Thirty minutes later, a doctor had explained to him that he had a minor fracture on a bone in his pointing finger, his scrapes were disinfected and he already had a cast on his fore-arm. The painful digit was numbed with local anesthesia before it was placed in the cast.

In the waiting room however, his agony continued, even after the doctor came around and told them that Lilith was stable and she'd wake up soon. There, he was sitting in a chair and watched his parents fighting again, blaming each other for what had transpired that day.

Thankfully though, it didn't take Francis and Mortimer much longer to arrive in the waiting room themself.

"Tib, I came here as fast as I could. What's the deal? Is she ok? What happened?" the blackwooled sheep asked as his whole body trembled before spotting Tiberius' cast. "And what the fuck happened to you?"

"I just did a Kyle and punched some drywall. Now chill out Frank. Let's have a walk," Tiberius replied while he gave the stink eye over his shoulders towards his parents who were still bickering. "Somewhere where it's a little more quiet."

After they rounded a few corners and found a coffee-machine Tiberius pulled three dollar notes out of his wallet.

"My treat," he said as he inserted the cash into the machine and waved Francis forward to punch in his choice and size of the black liquid, which was a simple latte macchiato. Next in line was Mortimer who took a small cup of cappuccino with extra sugar.

Lastly, Tiberius chose a large black coffee without any sugar.

"Now spill the beans, Tib. What is going on?"

"My sister nearly OD'd on my dad's pills. Well, technically she did, the doc said that they had to pump out her stomach."

"Fuck dude, is she awake?! I gotta go see her!" Francis started to turn on his heels but was stopped by a paw landing on his shoulder.

"She's stable but has to wake up. Chill for a second, I got a favor to ask you."

Francis visually deflated and turned back around. "What do you want me to do?"

"Baron offered me and her a place to stay for a couple of days, taking an anti-family-vacation so to speak. I couldn't talk to her since then but I guess she'll agree that this is the best course."

"You're not gonna pull a Charles on us, will ya?"

"Nah, nothing of that sort."

"Uh-huh. And what do you want from me exactly?"

"To be honest, I'd much rather prefer knowing that she's with you at your place. In the end, it will be her decision. I just want to give her all the options she can get."

"You serious, Tib? I mean, I'd need to ask my parents and…"

"Or, you take matters in your own hoofs and finally become your own ram."

Francis paused for a moment but then nodded resolutely. "Will do. ninety-nine percent for her and one percent just to show you that I'm no lamb anymore. After all, once my parents know about the overdose, they'll be head over hooves for that idea."

"Yeah, about that…" Tiberius hissed as he inhaled air between his teeth. "I'd prefer them not knowing the details. CPS knocking on all our doors wouldn't help anyone."

"And why shouldn't they be? I mean, it's their job after all!" Francis replied, almost angry.

"Frank, please," Tiberius pleaded. "They are good mammals. Mistakes happen."

"I'm with Tib on that one," Mortimer interjected. "I don't think that Mr. Wilde-Hopps forced her to take the medicine."

"Negligence is abuse as well."

"You think I don't know that?" Tiberius asked, a tad bit frustrated. "Don't you think I feel that? But I still hope that this might fix some things between them. I just want to go back to how it was. I still love my old folks, god dammit. And that's why I don't want to put more stress on them. They might break completely and then everything is in ruin."

"I think you should listen to him," Mortimer added

Francis looked between them a few times and then let out a long sigh of defeat. "Alright then. I will not put anything forward, but I won't stop her either. However she wants to move forward, it is her decision."

"Thanks brother," Tiberius replied.

"Well then," Francis said as he slapped his friend's arm with his hoof. "My parents know that I had to go to the hospital asap. And they know that nothing happened to me. What's the story then?"

"I'll talk to her. After she decides where she wants to be, we will all agree on something, alright?"

"Agreed," Francis confirmed.

"Agreed," Mortimer did as well.

After that, the trio decided to continue their coffee and take a second round while they were at it.

"Say Tib, does your paw hurt?"

"Like a bitch and a half," he chuckled.

An hour later, Tiberius and his friends came back to the waiting room. He had to thank the heavens as his parents finally stopped their senseless arguments after they were quite harshly reminded that this was a hospital and that many patients needed their rest in peace and quiet. The nurse then left but Tiberius did not miss the sad and compassionate look she had thrown towards him. Her face said 'I know exactly how it feels like, to grow up in a house in disarray'.

He then almost found the courage to confront Nick and Judy about his plan when a tired looking meerkat approached them.

"Hello, I'm doctor Surikatz. Family Wilde-Hopps, I assume?"

"You assume correct, how is she?" Judy asked eagerly.

"Not awake yet but stable. She'll recover," the doctor said before adjusting his glasses quickly. "I will bring you to her now but I have to remind you to keep your voices low. Visiting times are over and I know that a nurse has already informed you that our other patients need rest."

Shamefully, the fox and bunny looked at the ground and nodded briskly.

"Well then, follow me," he said but paused as Francis got off the chair as well. "I'm sorry, but only next of kin and family outside of visiting hours."

"Doc, he is my daughter's boyfriend. Surely, you can make an exception?" Nick asked and Francis' anger towards the fox was taken down a notch.

Dr. Surikatz in turn took a few seconds to consider. "I could argue that a boyfriend is close enough to family. Alright then, come."

Arriving at room 214 the doctor waved them inside.

"She looks so small," Nick commented as weakly as his daughter looked in her oversized bed. An oxygen mask was firmly strapped over her muzzle, a clear solution dropped it's contents steadily into her veins and an ECG was beeping a monotonous rhythm which was as slow as it was sad.

Tiberius thought that she looked as frail as a porcelain doll.

"How could this happen? What have I done?" Nick whispered as he broke down on his knees while he was clutching Lillith's free paw.

"Done what?" the doctor asked as he was in the midst of checking her vitals.

"Clomicalm, my pills. She must have found them, but I don't understand how. I have one pack on me at all times, the other is locked in a cassette in our bedroom dresser. I thought I made sure that no one but me has access to them."

"You have them with you? Can I see?"

"Sure," Nick replied as he pulled an orange tube from his breast pocket and handed it to the doctor. "And flush them down the toilet when you're at it."

The doctor pulled up his glasses to study the label on the plastic bottle intensively, then he flipped through some sheets of paper on a clipboard that was at the end of the bed.

Nick just waited for the doc's demeanor to change into anger, just as he felt from his family around him. And he was absolutely convinced that he deserved every second of it. The doc said that his daughter will be fine but he still had to repent. If the CPS would knock in a few days, he'd take the full blame and punishment. He didn't care if he'd never be allowed to see them, neither did he care if he would lose his job. He deserved everything that would come.

"That doesn't make sense."

Everyone awake in the room looked bewildered towards the doctor.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, as the name suggests, the active ingredient in your medicine is Clomipramin. In the toxicology report we have spikes in Dexamphetamine, Amphetamine and Alprazolam," to doctor explained. "So either our toxicologist doesn't know the difference between his muzzle and his tail, or you have nothing to do with your daughter's condition."

Nick in turn felt too relieved to reply immediately, despite not understanding what the doctor was explaining.

"Doctor, could you explain more about these ingredients?" Judy inquired.

"Ah yes, I'm sorry, my bad. Dexamphetamine and Amphetamine leads me to believe that she experimented with Adderall. And since you seem oblivious to this, it's safe to rule out a case of ADHD with your daughter."

"What about the other substance? Alpro…?"

"Alprazolam. It's used in Xanax for example. I see that combination more often than you think. We call it the exam-cocktail," Dr. Surikatz said in light amusement, much to the ire of everyone in the room. "Sorry, that was unprofessional. Anyway, students usually 'acquire' stimulants like Adderall in the weeks leading up to an important exam, mostly to heighten their alertness, to make up for a lack of sleep, deeper concentration and focus, that sort.

But this can lead to some nasty side effects, they start to take depressants like Xanax, usually shortly before bedtime as it counteracts the effects of the stimulants. Can you tell me, have you noticed any change in behaviour recently?"

"Yeah I did. A few weeks ago she started to be sluggish and quiet in the morning," Tiberius interjected, partly to save his parents from any negative repercussions from admitting their negligence. "Three weeks I guess? I passed it up as her being just gloomy. We're going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment."

"What do you mean with 'a rough patch'?" the doctor inquired.

"Well, you see, our brother ran away a year ago and we haven't heard from him since. We're all suffering from that."

"I see," Schurikatz paused. "I guess that would explain the noisy arguments in the waiting room, I assume?"

"Yeah, sorry again about that," Judy replied timidly.

"Ok then. Experience shows that mammals who take stimulants don't immediately combine it with a depressant. In this case, I would say that she's been taking Adderall for five weeks and Xanax for three. So, we can rule out an addiction as of now, but I strongly urge you to talk to her about it, as well as monitor her behaviour in the future," the meerkat said as he pushed his glasses back up his nose. "Furthermore, I will classify this as a one-time accident and therefore I will refrain from calling Child Protective Service this time. I do, however, strongly advise all of you to see family counseling."

He then scribbled a number on a blank sheet of paper from the clipboard and handed it to Judy as she was the closest to him. "This is the number of a colleague of mine, Dr. Moongeese. He's a specialist for family psychology."

"Thank you doc," Nick said after he was able to collect himself. "We will take that by heart."

"Good. But unfortunately, we have to leave now. Don't worry, we will take good care of Ms. Lillith and the hospital will keep you informed about any further development. You can come again tomorrow during visiting hours. And Mr. Tiberius?"

"Yes?"

"I'd like you to make an appointment in about three to four weeks in regards to your finger. Just talk to the receptionist on your way out."

"Will do."

"Excellent. Now, let's give Ms. Lillith some room."

Ten minutes later, the family had gathered in the parking lot of the hospital. Tiberius, Mortimer and Francis wanted to excuse themselves to vanish behind the next corner as the fox-bunny itched for some nicotine.

"Ah stop that nonsense son. We know that you smoke. Just do it here then," Nick said, utterly deflated and exhausted. Tiberius looked at Francis who simply shrugged as they made their way back to the bench Judy was sitting on.

Judy in turn let her hind paws swing freely from the bench and wrangled with her digits nervously.

"Nick?" she whispered.

"Judy, I…"

"Please, listen to me. I'm sorry for what I said. Our fights… our arguments… and now this. I was so sure she found your medication, even though I knew that you locked them up well. I… I…"

Nick then in turn scooped her up and sat down on her spot so she could nestle into him. "Hush, Fluff. I'm still somewhat to blame here. Didn't do much of a job as a role model. I will do something about that, I promise. The first thing I will do is get another doctor's appointment to re-evaluate the necessity of my medication. Then, we'll start the counseling."

She just nodded into him.

"Isn't that right, Tiberius?"

"Sure thing, dad. Damn, why did we need to have such a slap for a waking call?"

"I guess that's the thing with us Wildes and Hoppses," Nick chuckled. "Too stubborn to see that we drove our backs against a wall. But come here, boy."

Tiberius extinguished his cigarette bud at the nearest ashtray and stepped closer to his dad, who in turn pulled him into a hug with his free arm. "If it weren't for you, this boat could have capsized. You're a hero to us, you know that?"

"Thanks dad," Tiberius said as he leaned into the hug. "And sorry for calling you a pill-popping fuck. I was in panic and angry and I didn't know how to make you two stop…"

"Everything's good. The end justifies the means as they say. I'll do my best to give all of you the home that you deserve."

After this sentence, Tiberius wanted to tell his parents about his plan to take some time off so desperately, but given the situation and the fact that he couldn't talk to his sister about it, he decided to bite his tongue.

"Alright then," Nick piped up as a couple of minutes passed. "Let's get home. Francis, Mortimer, someone's gonna pick you up?"

"Yeah sure, just need to make a call," Francis replied.

"No need, hop in, I'll bring you home."

"Thank you," Francis and Mortimer replied in unison and they made their way to the car which still had the sirens mounted on its roof.

29th of July 2007 11:03 a.m.

Saint John's Hospital, Zootopia

About three and a half hours ago Tiberius had left his home to commute to the hospital to be on time when visiting hours began. He was going there alone as his parents had to be on duty but he promised them to keep them updated on anything that came up.

As the hour struck 8 a.m, Francis was already in the waiting room waiting for him. A nurse guided them back to room 214 and let them enter. She then explained that Lillith's breathing had stabilised during the night, so they took away the oxygen mask, much to the relief of the two adolescents.

Moments later, Tiberius texted his parents a picture of his sister with the caption that she was looking much better along with the prognosis for a speedy recovery.

From there on out, they took turns getting coffee and snacks, complaining about the quality of each, chatting in between and eventually ended up playing poker with a deck of cards that Tiberius took with him in the morning.

After a while though, Tiberius suggested they could make it more interesting by playing a few rounds for cigarettes as a substitute for chips.

This is when the favors seemed to suspiciously shift in the fox-bunny's direction.

"Dammit, how? How can you have three queens? This is bullshit!"

"Hey, don't hate the player, hate the game. Come on, you're the big blind now."

"First, roll up your sleeves."

"Fine," Tiberius scoffed and rolled up the sleeve of his good arm. The sleeve of his other arm was already up as he didn't bother to roll it over the cast this morning. "See? nothing to hide."

Francis threw two cigarettes in the middle of the table while he groaned in annoyance.

After revealing the turn card, Francis noticed something peculiar.

"Say Tib, is that scratching on your elbow just itching from the cast or a new telltale sign of your bluffing?"

"Just itching. Check or fold?"

"Nah, I'll fold. Come on, new round."

But after Francis collected the cards, he started counting. Once he was done, he threw the pile onto the table.

"Forty-nine cards!"

"Hm?" Tiberius replied while trying to look as innocent as possible.

"Forty-nine, not fifty-two. You fucker cheated," Francis glowered.

"Well of course I did, you're talking to a fox," Tiberius chuckled and revealed that he had the missing three cards hidden in his cast. "I mean, if destiny hands me an opportunity like this, I gotta take it. Oh and here, take your cigarettes back. I was just messing with you."

"Fuck you Tib," Francis sneered as he placed his cigarettes back in his package. "Why do you have to be like this?"

"What? I wanted to try something new. Do you know how hard it is to combine sleight of paws with constantly calculating odds?"

"What do you mean, calculating odds?"

"Well, look. The easy part is to exchange a card. The slightly harder part is to keep track of which card you have stashed away. And lastly, the hardest part is the decision which card to exchange with the cards you have stashed," Tiberius explained in delight as he leaned back casually. "I can't really explain what goes on in my mind when I do my trick, but I try to think ahead and discard a card that I might need in a future round and also keep the turn and river in mind. Too much switching and the opponent gets suspicious. The same goes for not letting your opponent win from time to time."

"Remind me to ask you to teach me that. And also, to never play cards with you again when there is something at stake."

"Oh? Do I get a worthy adversary at last then? How about some 'bullshitery-olympics'?"

"Some other time maybe. So can you shuffle the deck to your favor as well?"

"A bit. Sometimes I can control where the aces are. Want me to show you?"

"Sure, go ahead."

In the midst of showing his friend how to hide a card in his palm while he shuffled the deck they heard a stirring from the bed behind them. The cards were all but forgotten at that moment.

"Hey honey," Francis said as Lily's eyes opened slowly.

"What's up, stinker? Got a good scare on us," Tiberius piped up but was silenced by a hoof landing in his ribs.

She chuckled weakly. "Good morning guys. Uh, where am I?"

"In a hospital, where you need to be," Tiberius replied while rubbing his ribs.

"Now get out of my car," Lily joked. Tiberius knew that she was doing well enough in this circumstance since she could quote a viral Ewetube video without batting an eye. His sister would be just fine.

"Thank heavens you're alright," Francis bent down to hug his girlfriend. "What were you thinking?"

"That's what I was wondering. What's up with you?"

"Nothing," she said weakly as she averted her eyes.

"Bullshit," Francis said a bit too loud before being ushered away from Tiberius.

"I guess I'm doing this. To be frank, you should chill out Frank," he said as he guided the sheep away and got his attention back on his sister. "Hey now, no pressure, ok? I would just like to know why you wanted to off yourself yesterday."

"That's not what happend."

"Then what did?" Tiberius was abscently pulling a chair closer and sat down.

"Tib… I started failing classes," she said as she teared up a little.

"So? We all have low tides from time to time."

"Nah, you guys have low tides, I don't. With all that is happening now, I thought that the least I could do was bring home good grades. I thought that making Mom and Dad proud would make them stop going at each other for a while. But my grades kept falling and my finals were a disaster. I wanted to use the summertime to study and retake the exams. I was desperate."

"So you turned to Adderall and Xanax?"

"How did you know?"

"You do realize that we had to rush you to a hospital? The doc made a tox-screening and told us. You freaking overdosed… What were you thinking, you dumb sissy?"

"I… I mixed up my pills. I studied and wanted to take the Xanax so I could sleep. I accidentally took an additional upper. As a result, I took two downers to counteract that."

"And here I thought you were the smartest of all of us… But that was the stupidest thing you could have done."

"No shit, I gathered that from the beeping of the heart monitor."

"At least you didn't lose your sense of sass," Tiberius chuckled slightly. "And now you're gonna spill the beans and tell me who sold you that crap."

"Internet. I got them on the internet," Lillith replied far too quickly to which Tiberius crossed his arms and raised a sceptical eyebrow.

"The internet, huh? Listen, you can't bullshit a bullshitter. Now out with it."

"I can't… I won't," she whispered as she averted her face again.

"Lilly, look at me," Tiberius replied, matching the volume of her voice as he took her paw into his. "You're surely not the only one he's selling to and they might not have that much luck. Ever thought of that?"

She was still but her expression told him how much turmoil she was in.

"Promise me that you won't get yourself into trouble," she broke the silence after a while but turned to Francis before her brother could respond. "The same goes for you as well, sweety."

"We promise," Tiberius said as he gently squeezed her paw and he saw Francis sag a little as he nodded reluctantly. "But in addition, you'll also promise to throw out your pills. No one wants to see you back here. Deal?"

"Deal," she said while squeezing back. "Toni Curlhauser. He's a ram a grade above mine."

"Thank you, lil-Lilly. Now, let's bring you up to speed. I was talking to Baron yesterday and…"

For the next half hour, Tiberius recounted yesterday's events. Her expression was a rollercoaster of emotions from deep guilt while he explained that Nick was convinced that his pills were causing her overdose, to enormous relief after Tiberius told her that all four of them would go to family counseling soon, as everyone was dead set on starting to heal.

The last emotion she displayed before Tiberius and Francis left the hospital was uncertainty about the idea of her and Tiberius moving out for a while. This did change a bit however, when Francis told her that she could move in with him. His arguments were that she wouldn't be too far away from home and that he could be there for her if she needed help getting back on her feet after this incident.

'She'd think about it,' were the last words she said before they parted ways for today.

"Do you know a 'Toni Curlhauser'?"

"Naah sorry Tib, never heard of him," Francis replied but saw that Tiberius was not speaking to him but with someone on the phone.

"Alright gotcha. Can you get me a phone number?"

A short pause.

"Thanks dude, I'll keep in touch. I might need your van soon."

Another pause.

"I'll explain everything today evening, the usual time and place. See ya then."

"What was that about now?" Francis asked after Tiberius hung up his phone.

"We're going to clip the horns of a certain ram."

"But we promised Lilly to not get into trouble."

"In the business, we call this a lie, my friend."

"I hoped you'd say that. I'm in. Already got a plan?"

"Almost. We'll meet up with Baron in the evening, meet me around six in the parking lot behind the Bugburga on Hill Street. And bring something to cover your muzzle."

"Will do. Thanks bro."

"Ok, see ya," Tiberius bid his friend farewell and texted his parents about the positive development regarding his sister.

29th of July 2007 6:02 p.m.

Back alley on Hill Street, Zootopia

"Tib, what's that smell?" Francis groaned in disgust as he did his best to cover his nostrils with his hooves.

"Don't be rude, you'll see in a second," Tiberius said as he turned to a pile of cardboard. "Hey Gums!"

"Can't an old skunk have a little peace and quiet?" a voice came from the cardboard box and out emerged an old skunk. "Tiberius, that you? Again?"

"Yep, it's me."

"Who's that with you?"

"Gums, this is Frank. My sister's boyfriend. Frank, this is Gums."

"Pleasure," the skunk said and extended a filthy paw which Francis reluctantly took. The sheep wiped his hoof off his shirt immediately after the greeting ended. "Yeah, sorry about the smell. My shower broke down and the plumbers don't seem to work when I'm at home."

The skunk laughed at his joke at his own expense, revealing the reason for his nickname.

"Anyway, I gotta say you have good timing, since I'm getting hungry. Need my alley again?"

"Well, I rather need your help."

"Help? From me? Sure, what's up?"

"Let's wait a second for Baron. I don't want to repeat myself."

A few minutes later, the alley was flooded in the red glow of break lights as a familiar van backed into the alley. The trunk doors swung open and Baron was standing there with a takeout container in one paw and a six pack of beer cans in the other.

"Hey Tib, I got what you wanted. Since when are we eating here?"

"I don't but Gums doesn't care."

"For me? Boy, you didn't have to!"

"You can take a beer as well if you want."

"Too generous!" the skunk exclaimed in delight.

"So, what's all of this? Must be something important since you brought Frank over," Baron inquired impatiently as he was placing some folding chairs on the ground as usual before handing everyone a can.

"My sister OD'd yesterday. We had to rush her to the ER, but she's recovering so no need to worry," Tiberius said as he cracked his can open and sipped. Despite his hunger, Gums stopped digging into his burger after the first bite and listened.

"And that Curlhauser is her dealer?" Baron asked and received a firm nod in return. "That BASTARD! What's the plan?"

"Mammals selling drugs to minors? What did this city come to? But… uh, guys? Do you really need me here?" Gums asked.

"I'll tell you what I had in mind and you can decide if you want to help. Alright, oldtimer?"

"Sounds good."

"Ok, so here is the idea…" Tiberius began to lay down the details of his plan. After twenty minutes he finished and everyone - even Gums - agreed on taking part in it.

Baron turned on the setting to hide his caller ID on his phone, dialed the ram's number and handed it to Gums.

The skunk in turn ordered three containers of Xanax, not too much to raise suspicion but enough for this Toni guy to agree on meeting alone and somewhere unusual.

"Twenty minutes," Gums confirmed as he handed the phone back.

"Good," Tiberius confirmed and got on a ski mask, which he pulled from his pocket. "Anyone wanna back out, he should do so now."

As he only saw determined faces around him he took his hiding spot behind a dumpster.

Francis got his hockey mask from the backpack he took with him and climbed after Baron in his van. Baron in turn made sure that his bandana would fit and conceal his muzzle fully

The van was parked across the street opposite of the alley, mostly as a look out for the time being.

It was close to the agreed twenty minutes when Baron spotted a paranoid lookin ram closing in on the alley.

'Possible target spotted -B'

'On my mark -T'

"Uh hello? Someone here?" a nervous voice filled the alley.

"Yeah, back here," Gums replied from the far end.

"Can we make this quick? I really gotta be somewhere," the ram said as he walked closer.

"Sure, I just don't want to get seen. Come closer, will ya?"

"Uh… ok…" with this, the ram walked right into the trap.

'Now! -T'

And with the signal, the van started moving, crossing the street again and backing into the narrow alley.

"What's going on?" the ram asked as he started to realise that he got trapped as two masked mammals came from the back of the van.

Before the ram could react - his first thought was that he might be able to break through the fence in the back if he'd go head first - his knee buckled. Tiberius had made his way from his hiding spot and kicked his leg hard into the back of the ram's knee.

As the ram inadvertently got on his knees with a loud and scared bleat, Francis and Baron had reached them and stabilized his head by grabbing his horns. Tiberius took this moment and swung his good fist square into the dealer's muzzle and saw with delight as a trickle of blood started to flow from one of his nostrils. Not missing another beat, the fox-bunny wound up his fist again and landed on the ram's eye.

"Please stop!" The ram bleated again, earning him a painful knee to his chin from Francis.

"Shut up, Punk!"

For a few minutes everyone - except Gums who, according to plan, took off once the attack began - took turns hitting and kicking the ram. Toni even managed to break free for a second and tried to scramble away but the guys quickly got a grip on his horns again.

"Please, no… You want the meds? My cash? Take it, just let me go, please!"

"No, we want to teach you a lesson," Tiberius said as he grabbed hold of the ram's face again and his claws started to puncture the skin on his skull. "And this will make sure you'll remember this night whenever you think you can sell your shit to my sister or anyone else! She almost OD'd because of you!"

"Dude, I'm sorry, I didn't know," the ram was in tears. "Have mercy please, I honestly didn't know!"

"'Honestly' from a lowlife dealer? Pah," Tiberius hissed as he spit out beside him on the ground. "Why should I even consider sparing you after what you've done? HUH?!"

"Fuck, dude, I needed the money. My Da is in prison and ever since the Bellwether incident; my Ma is struggling to hold down a job. Please, we need the cash and I hoped no one would get harmed," Toni cried but dug in his pockets with shaking hooves. "If… if it helps, you can have the cash and the drugs… but please let me go."

Tiberius looked into the eyes of the ram for a long time. He could see the nervousness, but he didn't have the feeling he was lied to, so he slowly released his claws from Toni's face.

"I'll take the pills. You can keep the cash," Tiberius grumbled as he grabbed the brown paper bag. "If I find out that anyone I know still gets their meds from you, we'll find you. Got that!?"

Toni nodded as good as he could with his horns still in a tight grip.

"And this night never happened, got that as well?"

"Of course, thank you," the ram was visibly relieved.

"Let's get going boys," Tiberius ordered and his two friends shoved the ram unceremoniously onto the ground. Within moments Baron drove his van out of the alley and everyone unmasked.

"What was that about, Tib? FUCK!" Baron asked, almost furious as he hit the dashboard with his paw. "Going soft now?"

"He's struggling, Baron!"

"You believe this crap about his Dad and Mom? Bitch, please!"

"He didn't lie. I would've known if he did."

"Bullshit! And don't give me the 'You can't bullshit a bullshitter' crap again."

"I wouldn't say so, Baron." Francis piped up from the back seat. "Some aries' are struggling ever since the incident all those years back. According to my Dad, many sheep families even left the city."

"Not you as well," Baron groaned in frustration.

In the meantime Tiberius had already done his research over the internet and found an article. "Look here, nineteen-ninetyone, Antonio Curlhauser Senior, convicted for involvement in the conspiracy against the state."

"That doesn't make sense. The whole fiasco with that sheep happened twenty years ago."

"So? My parents actually told me that it took years to dig up the whole conspiracy. In my eyes, that checks out," Tiberius countered.

"Still… Why isn't your family struggling then, Frank?" Baron asked to the back of the van. "As far as I know, your family is doing quite well for themselves."

"My father once told me that we did have trouble with speciest mammals while the whole drama was going on. He said it took a while to wash our name clean even after we were free from suspicion of the ZPD and state attorneys."

Baron's anger deflated with each argument further until he sighed heavily. "I guess. I still think the fucker got off too easily... Anyone hungry?"

"I could die for a lawn salad," Francis commented from the back and Baron set the blinker on the next crossroad.

"Thank you, bros. You didn't need to…" the fox-bunny started but was interrupted shortly after.

"Shut up, you're family. We stick together, we fall together," Baron said as he lazily moved his fist to his friend who bumped it, then moved it back. "You too, whoolhead."

After the request, Francis also bumped the fist with his balled hoof.

30th of July 2007 5:11 p.m.

WildeHopps Residence, Zootopia

Dinner was better than usual. Far from perfect as there was not only one empty seat at the table but two today but the black thundering cloud which was usually looming over them had lightened up. The storm had reduced itself to a light drizzle.

In spite of everyone wishing Lilith to be back home, the decision from the doctors to keep her in the hospital for two more days was the best course of action.

Speaking of the best course of action:

"Uh Mom, Dad?" Tiberius said as he put his knife and fork down on an empty plate. "I have a question."

"What is it, honey?" Judy asked, a bit concerned.

"But please, hear me out and don't get angry, ok?" Tiberius replied in turn as he carried his dishes to the sink and opened the fridge.

"What's bothering you, boy?" Nick asked and raised an eyebrow as three beer cans were placed on the table. "Tiberius, you know that I don't like to see you drink."

"I know but… I think at least I will need this," Tiberius started as he pulled the lid open and took a sip while his parents were watching disapprovingly but they didn't object.

"I fucked up yesterday…"

"What…" Judy started but caught herself before she could continue with an accusatory 'did you do' and instead continued with "happened?"

"I learned who sold Lilly the pills. Someone from school. Toni Curlhauser."

"Why didn't you tell us? We need to take him into custody!" Judy countered, immediately agitated.

In a split second, Nick saw that his son started to clench his can of beer. So he reacted by placing a gentle paw on Judy's shoulder while he cracked his own can open with his index claw.

"Fluff, our son asked us not to get angry. Please, let's hear him out, ok?"

Judy in turn deflated and settled back in her seat. "Sorry sweety. I know that I need to work on my temper… please continue."

Tiberius scoffed but only because he was reminded once more where him and his brother got their impulsiveness from. "Ok so… I talked to him… and I understand why he does it."

"Hold on... " Nick interrupted him. "You said Toni Curlhauser? Like in Antonio Curlhauser? I thought he was still behind bars…"

"Antonio Senior maybe is, I don't know. But I'm talking about Toni Junior."

"Didn't know he had a son…"

"He has. I talked to him and he told me that his mother and him are struggling to make ends meet. He sells his stuff to keep him and his mother afloat."

Tiberius paused and sighed heavily while his parents were waiting patiently.

"So, my question is… can you two do something? You're officers after all. But please, don't just go out busting his horns."

"That depends solely on him," Nick commented more to himself after a short consideration which brought all the intention to him.

"You're already planning something Slick, I can smell that from here," Judy said and was leaning in expectantly.

"And here I thought I had a canine's nose," he said while he booped his wife's twitching nose. "Most importantly is that we get Mrs. and Junior Curlhauser on the welfare program. Should be a piece of cake so far."

"Obviously. I can't understand why she did fall through the mesh in the first place! I remember the court case a bit now. Mrs. Curlhauser had neither a connection to her husband's involvement, nor did she have any clue. This city's social security net really needs to get their act together," Judy said. The aggravation in her voice was just a thin veil around a force of determination to fix an injustice done but then paused a few moments. "Wait… You're not done, are you?"

"Smart bunny," Nick said with a grin as he winked towards his wife. "Now listen, both of you."

He took a sip on his own before he continued and turned his attention to his son.

"Let's just say that I have experience with similar situations from… both sides of the law… and let's leave it at that. Toni has suppliers. Lowlife garbage mammals who use young mammals to do selling and muling. Easily employable, easily disposable. But here comes the inherent problem. Toni needs to want to get out of it."

"He will!"

"How can you tell?"

"I… I just know he will, alright?"

Nick caught this sudden change of certainty but decided to not pry further and drop the issue. He only hoped that Judy was too focused on the task at paw to catch onto his suspicions.

"Ok then. Get Toni's number and give it to me. We'll talk to him. Neither he nor his mother will have to fear anyone biting their tail," he said and turned to Judy. "And you call Bogo that we might be onto something. If this goes through as I expect, we might have a dealer-ring to bust."

"On it, Slick… Rabbit's tail, I love it when I see your fire like this," Judy beamed and leaped off her chair to call her boss at this late hour, but not before she kissed her husband.

A few seconds passed and Tiberius started to excuse himself from the table.

"Sit back down!" Nick ordered and Tiberius wanted to shrink into himself.

"So," Nick began and toyed with the can in his paws. "You said you fucked up?"

"What? Did I say that?" he asked sheepishly.

"Yes you did. You even started with that… And then you were so confident that he's willing to change. What did you do?"

"I… ah, fuck…" Tiberius was caught. He tried a half-assed attempt to come up with an explanation as he emptied his can but found no quick and logical way out. "Ok, we jumped him. Roughed him up a bit."

"A bit?"

"Yeah, just a bit," Tiberius countered truthfully but decided against his better judgement to come clean fully. "Could have been a lot worse though. I was ready to give that bastard some facial scars. I had my claws dug deep into his face already before I started listening to him."

"But you didn't…" Nick said, half as a question and half as a statement as he took a sip from his can. After seeing his son shaking his head he continued. "Do you think I'm proud of you?"

"No," Tiberius answered as he hung his head low.

"But I am."

This made his son's head shoot up with a bewildered look.

"You should have told us before you acted… but damn, I did my own shit when I was down in the gutter. But here is why I am proud. You held back and I know that this was hard. This takes courage. And the second reason is that you came to us in the end."

"Am… am I in trouble though?" Tiberius asked meekly.

"Again, this depends on this Toni-fella. If he doesn't tell us who roughed him up, I won't tell your Mom. For all I care, this can stay between us," Nick concluded as he opened his arms and beckoned his son closer.

"Thanks Dad," Tiberius sighed in relief after he was pulled into the fatherly embrace.

"Good news! Bogo said he wants to talk with us as soon as we get hold of Curlhauser," Judy said as she rounded the corner to the kitchen-dining-room combo but was stopped in her tracks when she spotted her husband and her son. "Well, well, well, what's going on here? And why was I not invited?"

Brash as she was, she didn't wait for a reply and scooted herself into the hug.

5th of August 2007 1:41 p.m.

Weaselton Residence, Outskirts of Zootopia

"Damn bro, didn't know you had that kind of view out here!" Tiberius said as he took a seat beside his friend on his aunt's porch. In front of them was a quite sizable lake and a forest loomed majestically behind it. "Why do you never invite us over?"

"I would, but Aunty says you guys are a bad influence on me," Baron chuckled but yelped a moment later - more from surprise than from pain - as his ear got yanked up.

"I never said that, you little rascal," Aunt Weaselton said as she appeared behind Baron. Despite her action, her tone gave away that she was in a good mood. "You boys want something to drink? Some cookies maybe?"

"Damn Aunty, you're silent like a damn shadow." Baron said while rubbing his ear and shooting daggers at Tiberius who didn't hold back on his amusement.

"Language, young man!"

"Sorry. Ice tea for us please, thank you."

"Thank you, Mrs. Weaselton," Tiberius added.

"It's Diane, boy. Being called Mrs. Weaselton makes me feel so old."

"Got it, Diane," Tiberius replied with an honest and happy grin.

"I thought you were solely drinking beer," Tiberius whispered after the elderly weasel lady had left.

"Not while I'm at home. My Dad drank and she doesn't want me to follow in his footsteps."

"But you still drink, don't you?"

"What she doesn't know won't break her heart. Just zip it while she's around, alright?"

"Sure bro. Your house, your rules."

A moment later, Diane came back with two large glasses filled with a deep orange-brown liquid. The ice cubes clattered in the glasses as she handed them to the younglings and excused herself.

"Now out with it. How did you talk your old folks into moving out? Surely was a good training for your silver tongue, huh?"

"Yeah, well, not really actually. We had our first session with the shrink on Friday. It kinda just bubbled out."

"Just bubbled out huh? No resistance from them? Ah come on, you're pulling my tail!"

"Of course they were against it. The shrink however thought that it might be a good idea as a temporary experiment. That's how he put it at least," Tiberius explained. "And I'm totally ok with the rules that were set in place. My sister and I should call them each day to let them know that each of us is doing well and one day a week we are doing stuff together."

"As a family you mean?"

"Exactly. And my Dad suggested that we should go to an escape room and to an indoor climbing wall once my cast is off. The shrink said that these are excellent exercises for team- and family building. I'm hyped, I tell ya."

"Love to hear that you're finally back on the uphill."

"Thanks bud. I even told all of them that I love them. That didn't happen in who knows when."

Baron in turn whistled a long single note. "For you to open up like this? And all of that in one hour? That shrink must be a magician!"

"Ha! Fun thing, he charged triple. We were lucky that we were his last customers of the day so he took his time and just collected the overtime," Tiberius chuckled.

"Typical psychiatrist," Baron replied and joined into the laughter that evolved.

"What about Lillith though?" Baron continued after the laughter died down.

"Lily decided to be with Frank, but only four days a week. I'm ok with that. After all, someone has to have an eye on them," Tiberius replied but soon started dreaming for a few seconds. "It was beautiful… on the evening she came back from the hospital, her and my Dad threw all their pills down the toilet. It was almost ceremonial. The only good-bye I can stand behind."

"Nice, nice! Cheers!"

Their glasses clicked together and a gentle silence fell between them.

It was broken when Tiberius' phone chimed with a message tone. The fox-bunny read the message and smiled.

"More good news?"

"You could say so. Here, read for yourself," Tiberius said as he handed his phone over.

'Hey there, this is my new number

old phone was taken by the ZPD for the investigation. Seems like my suppliers are gone

and guess what! We are on welfare now. They promised my mom they will get her a job soon

Im so happy right now. Ill be forever in your dept.

-Toni'

"You're in contact with that ram?"

"Problem with that?"

"Nah, chill. I just don't get it. Why did you forgive him after the whole scene with your sister?"

"It's not about forgiveness, it's about second chances. My Dad got one from my Mom, my Mom got one from my Dad and Toni gets one from me and my sister."

"You've a big heart… but a small brain."

"Don't you know that compliments bring you nowhere with me?"

"Whatever," Baron said as he emptied his glass. "Wanna smoke? My Aunty knows but I still go behind the shed. It's my courtesy if you will."

"Sure!"

5th of August 2007 8:07 p.m.

Weaselton Residence, Outskirts of Zootopia

"Diana, you mind switching to ZNN? The news is up."

"Nah, I don't mind boy," Diana replied to Tiberius' request and switched the channel with her remote.

"Thank you Fabienne," Peter Moosebridge concluded and continued reading different events of the day out loud from the teleprompter. "The ZPD was successful in taking down yet another criminal organisation down at the Zootopia Docks. A group of smugglers used a seemingly abandoned warehouse for their operation. Thanks to an anonymous tip and the help of an inside mammal, the ZPD was able to infiltrate the facility. We are switching live to the press conference."

The picture switched to an old but still imposing water buffalo who listed down the facts of the case to the press.

"We seized multiple pounds of prescription medication, cocoa powder, catnip and a multitude of guns and live ammunition," Chief Bogo said before he was interrupted for the first time by a reporter

"Do the mammals of Zootopia need to lock the door now at night?"

"Not more than they already do. The ZPD has everything under control. We are still uncertain how deep that rabbit hole goes," he replied but turned towards Judy behind him. "No offense."

Tiberius' mother in turn just shook her head as to say 'none taken' and in what the cameras could capture, she looked amused.

"But we do know that the narcotics and firearms come from overseas. All cargo of incoming ships will be searched thoroughly by our colleagues at the customs bureau."

"What about other underground groups? Do you think there are more?"

"In a city as large as Zootopia, there is bound to be criminal activity. But with the help and support of the honest mammals of this great city, we will dig up anything that may sprout. Now, last question!"

"Who is the inside mammal you were talking about?"

"The identity of this individual is highly confidential. All the press needs to know is that he or she was pivotal for this operation and that I wish more mammals would step forward. This mammal did something very courageous. Good evening."

The rest of the live feed before it cut back to the news anchors of the ZNN was a cacophony of shouted questions as the chief of police left the podium.

"What a bull," Diana dreamed as she got up. "Wouldn't mind him warming my bedside every now and then."

"EW! Aunty, now I have that scene in my head for the whole night. Two old OUCH," Baron was interrupted by his aunt, pulling his ear like she did earlier. Tiberius couldn't hold back his snickering again.

"That's for calling me old," she said absent-mindedly. "I'll head to bed. Please turn off the TV and lock the door before you go to sleep."

"Sure thing, Aunty." Baron bid his aunt farewell and leaned towards Tiberius after she had left the room. "So, you wanna smoke?"

"Sure thing. But damn, I'm dying for a beer right about now."

"Don't worry, I have a few cans stashed in the shed. It might not be cold, but at least it's bitter."

"I thought you don't drink here?"

"Oh I don't. But that's just what I promised myself for my Aunty. That doesn't mean you can't. I mean, you're the bad influence after all, I'm just not buying into the peer pressure," Baron grinned at him.

"Ah, fuck you, dude," Tiberius said with a faint smack on the back of his friends head but grinned as broadly as him.