A/N: Lately, I've been plagued by indecisiveness.
Chapter 1: An Anonymous Gift
"Come in!" Nick yelled.
Judy walked in with an expensive faux red fur dress. "Nick, you wouldn't believe what happened!"
"Let me guess, blueberries were on sale?"
"No, this dress! The Kindness Ideology Support System sent it. They wanted a few photos of our weekend in return they'll send more gifts."
"Nothing else?" Nick raised his eyebrow. He was certain that one of their co-workers were behind this. That acronym wasn't even subtle but leave it to her to miss the obvious. She took initiative by going to his place instead of waiting for their usual get-together which some can count as progress.
"I suppose a few rumors wouldn't hurt."
"The ZPD has a betting pool."
"Never mind, at least, it's not a clue by four."
They spent their weekends together as friends, so this request wouldn't be too hard to fulfill. Their co-workers would likely be disappointed which was fine with him. He hoped even more gifts awaited them in the future. It was likely that Clawhauser invested too much in the betting pool, so he pulled this stunt.
She certainly didn't push try for any romantic opportunities despite how many chances he gave her. He didn't want to risk asking for more. Although, he was disappointed that nothing more happened between them. It wasn't that he desperately wanted more, but with all the obvious hints in place, something more should've happened.
He decided to head early into work hoping to have some time before Judy arrived. The precinct was empty save for Chief Bogo.
"Are you feeling okay, Wilde?" Chief Bogo asked.
"Gee, I show up to work early and that's the reception I get? Do you want me to be late? That can certainly be arranged."
"Again, honesty is the best policy."
He stared at the chief contemplating how much to reveal. "Judy received an unsolicited gift. I want to know who's behind it. There's a high chance that it's someone from this precinct."
"And I thought you had a real problem. Since you're here early clearly looking for something to do, catch up on several weeks of paperwork."
"But I always turn in my paperwork on time."
"With someone else's writing."
He held back a sharp retort while despising Bogo for caring the means of how something was done. It shouldn't matter because he still turned in his reports on time. Bogo's disapproval of his methods was clear, he placated his boss by spending the next hour writing reports until it was time for roll call. Paperwork was the most annoying aspect of his job. It was far more economical to outsource it to Judy for free, or other coworkers for money.
"Nick? You're here early? Is everything okay?" Judy asked.
"Why does everyone expect me to be on time or late?"
"Alright, everyone shut it," Bogo declared.
They received parking duty. He figured that would happen with the betting pool in place. What better way to force two mammals into a small vehicle. Judy was oblivious, but that was part of her charm. "Why do we get parking duty again?"
"Because I say so. Another word and it'll be for a week."
Nick knew the betting pool existed but not what the outcomes or odds were or who took part. He wasn't sure if he should be glad or disappointed that everything remained the same. Judy wasn't any more romantic after receiving the gift.
The day wasn't an absolute loss as he had a chance to talk to Clawhauser alone.
"So, tell me, who sent a gift to Judy under the organization name of Kindness Ideology Support System."
"Have you two…"
"Not even close. She's completely oblivious." He sighed.
"Everything's going to be just fine." Clawhauser grinned wider than Nick had ever seen on him.
Nick felt he either made a terrible mistake or gained a valuable ally. At least Clawhauser was going to discover who sent it. He didn't know what the stakes were, but a several-hundred-dollar dress meant the stakes were high.
Day after day there were no more attempts to push them together. Which was surprising since he figured Clawhauser would be far more eager. Nothing was amiss until he saw Judy in another red dress. It turned what he thought was a gift to a serious matter.
"Oh no, where did you get that?"
"The dress you're currently wearing."
"What's wrong? You were fine with it before. They look the same. I guess they liked what I sent them."
Of course, a rabbit wouldn't be able to pick up the subtle differences between dress one and dress two. He didn't know how to break it to her. Although, shouldn't he be able to affect change as a cop compared to when he was a lowly criminal?
He hoped it was simple paranoia on his part, but how could he confirm his suspicions without exposing Judy to the realities of the world? A plan formulated in his mind with a low chance of success but a plan nonetheless.
"Can I have that dress for a day? There's something I want to try."
"What could you possibly do with it?"
"I enjoy its scent," he said anything that came to mind. It was a pitiful excuse to be sure, but he couldn't think of anything better.
"Do you want me to mark you?"
He backed up a bit unsure of how to respond.
"Fine, keep your secrets." She narrowed her eyes but agreed nonetheless. At least, she didn't subject him to a full-blown inquiry. There was one thing left to do, sneak this dress into the ZPD without tipping her off. That was one conversation he was dead set on avoiding.
He thought he was in the clear, a couple days passed since she accepted his flimsy excuse that he misplaced the dress all too easily. Unwilling to pry for the real reason since even she couldn't be that gullible he too accepted her charade.
Unfortunately, she confronted him during the weekend. "Would you mind telling me why my dress is in evidence?"
"Oh, it is, is it? I told you I lost mine."
"Clawhauser saw you bring it in."
"Wait, he told you?"
"Nick, what's this about?"
"Can't we forget this ever happened? Please?"
She joked, "I'm not sure if I should be happy that you didn't sell the dress on Zbay. There wasn't much else you could do with it. The size didn't fit you and it couldn't be my scent because you didn't want me to mark you."
"Why did you agree? It would be so much easier if you hadn't." He wanted to confirm it for his own conscience while resigned to the fact that he couldn't change anything.
"Because we're friends, and because I trust you."
"I don't want you involved in all this. It's better not to know."
"You're protecting me?"
"Because you can't change the world. It is what it is."
"Shouldn't you try convincing why I shouldn't try? If I find out what you're hiding, you know what's going to happen, and trust me I will."
Nick sighed. It seemed if he wanted to keep her safe, he'd have to tell the truth. "There's more to the skunk butt rug story."
"That's the big secret?"
"You'll either be drowned in hopelessness or try to change the world. The other option's more likely to get you killed. I don't want to lose you."
"I was expecting a drastic revelation," she huffed.
"All you need to do is read between the lines. At least, Zootopia doesn't partake in the practice just our trading partners. Mr. Big was so disappointed after learning about the rug's origins afterward that he disowned me. He has lines that he wouldn't cross and that was frankly one of them even though it's a guilty pleasure for the rich."
"Can you explain it to me like I'm a dumb bunny?"
He sighed. "How can you be so oblivious?"
"Because I'm your dumb bunny. Relax, Nick, I'm not going to do anything drastic. Your fur's standing on edge. Trust me."
It was his choice to or not to shatter her innocence even though he was sure it was bound to happen eventually, he didn't imagine that he'd be the one delivering the brutal truth. "The fur wasn't given voluntarily."
"So, they turned someone into a coat. I'm sure we can arrest them for that. How's that different from all the other crimes we've dealt with? I mean sure it's brutal, but we've dealt with predators eating prey before."
"Because it's not a crime and because it's out of our jurisdiction."
"Not a crime? How can that be possible?"
"That's just the tip of it. Knowing this goes on day by day, unable to do anything which is why you shouldn't know," he said. She still didn't grasp the entire truth, so he laid it out for her instead of using even the slightest subtleties to cushion the blow. "The other countries raise mammals whose whole purpose in life is their fur. They live in cramped cages until they die."
His heart ached as Judy become unresponsive. She stood still while he waved his paws in front of her eyes staring vacantly off into the distance. Every moment felt like forever since she simply didn't react. Not even disapproval or outrage as her mind struggled with the very idea that something so horrible could happen daily. He mustered up the courage to ask, "Are you okay?"
"We have to do something."
With the sound of her voice, relief washed over him. She didn't go off the deep end as he expected something drastic. "I can tell you what I'm not going to let you do. You won't emigrate to another country to try to change everything."
"But we can't do nothing."
"The only thing I did was to send your dress to evidence to confirm if my fears were true. It had a subtle scent that reminded me of the skunk butt rug. I couldn't bear to see you wearing something like that even if unknowingly. At least, they're still testing?"
"We can do something, don't worry, I won't move to another country. See you on Monday, Nick."
"Won't you tell me what you're planning?"
"Just like you told me everything?" She walked out of his house after that.
That went better than he expected considering she didn't suffer a mental breakdown. He had to trust her not to do anything reckless.
A/N: I might end up combining subsequent chapters with this one into a one-shot instead.