Drifting in and out of sleep, Nick flicked his ear at the annoying jingle playing in his ear. Tightening his arms around the warm ball of fluff in his arms, he buried his nose in the fur between his mate's ears and breathed deeply of her delicious scent. Feeling Judy stir in his arms in response, he murmured, "Your parents are calling. Again."
Snuggling into Nick's warmth, Judy rubbed her cheek into his chest fur. She wasn't sure when exactly it happened, but sometime after Nick's knot released them, she had turned over and buried her face in his fluffy chest fur. With a groan as the music continued disturbing their rest, Judy finally mumbled, "I know." Taking a deep breath, she added, "I was hoping if I ignored it, that it would go away."
With a light chuckle, Nick said, "With your parents? The same parents who called and texted over a hundred times when they couldn't get a hold of you Tuesday night?"
With a louder groan, Judy buried her head in Nick's chest (as opposed to just her cheek). "Don't remind me."
Chuckling again, Nick added, "They're probably calling about us finding Cotton."
Moving her face to glance up at Nick's creamy white neck fur that was sticking up every-which-way from her nips and licks she had attacked him with earlier, Judy wiped the sleep from her eyes as a warm smile tugged at the corner of her lips. Reaching over to try and comb his fur into some semblance of order with her dull claws, she murmured, "You're probably right."
Rubbing his claws up and down Judy's back, Nick purred at her attention and asked, "Do you want to tell your parents we're now wedded or wait till our official wedding on Tuesday?"
Judy didn't immediately answer as she considered Nick's question. After a couple of minutes (the phone had since quit its incessant ringing), she answered, "I don't think I want to tell them just yet. My dad just found out about us being a couple and I'm afraid he might just have a heart attack and wind up in the hospital if we told him that we had wed just over an hour after he left."
With a soft laugh, Nick glanced down to say, "I get it." As Judy lifted her gaze to meet his, Nick captured her lips and stole a long, deep kiss, then released his honeybun to search for their clothes. Finding her undershirt, Nick tossed it to her, then dug Judy's phone out of her pocket. When he turned around to hand it to her, he caught her ogling him shamelessly while holding the shirt she was supposed to be putting on.
Grinning smugly at her, Nick flicked his bushy tail at her and asked, "See something you like?"
"Hmm," Judy murmured while checking her mate out. "I see everything I want and nothing that I don't." Nick's larger, muscular build allowed him to hold her in all the right ways, whether he was driving her crazy with that long, sinfully flexible tongue of his or sending her straight to heavenly bliss and earthly pleasures with that hard, foxy cock of his. She honestly couldn't say which she liked better as they were both so, so good at what they did to her. And then there were his teeth and claws! Mmm, mmm, she loved them!
With a laugh, Nick replied back as he pawed her phone over, "Well, then you better make the conversation short if you expect to get more of this," he shook his hips and tail playfully while his toothy smile promised so much guilty pleasure, "before we need to head to Daphyd's for dinner tonight."
Judy nodded with a giggle as she took the phone, then pulled her shirt on. Poking her head through the collar of the shirt, she watched Nick hop off the bed and head into his bathroom. Watching until Nick's fluffy tail disappeared through the bathroom doorway, Judy turned her attention back to her phone just as it started ringing again.
With a heavy sigh, Judy tried to focus on the conversation she was about to have with her parents and not on the handsome fox in the bathroom or what they had been up to which led to their impromptu nap. Pasting on a smile, Judy answered the phone and said, "Hey, it's my parents."
"Oh, thank heavens you answered," Bonnie said as she was fitfully worried about Cotton. How in the world did her 5-year-old granddaughter end up in Zootopia!?
"Yes, I answered, and I'm sure you're calling about Cotton." Wanting to keep the conversation off her and on her niece, Judy didn't give her parents a chance to question why she was sitting on a bed that wasn't hers (hers and Nick's headboards were completely different, as Amy had already pointed out).
"Oh, yes!" Bonnie exclaimed while Stu crowded into the screen on the phone as he nodded up and down, saying, "Yeah, how did you find her?" Judy's text had only said that Cotton had been found in one of her boxes, but that she was safe and sound.
With a wide smile while remembering how Nick found Cotton and everything that followed, Judy briefly explained how Nick found her niece and how excited Cotton was to meet him (Judy, of course, left out how she and Nick were sucking face when the little bun woke up). Judy then told her parents that Cotton was currently with Amy and their friend Finnick. Recognizing the name, Stu asked if Finnick was the small fox who was Nick's mechanic during the jeep rallies.
Although Amy did little more than mention the fox before leaving the burrow, a bunch of Stu's other kits had looked the two foxes up online and found out that Finnick Deserttail was an experienced mechanic who knew his stuff. Stu was fairly certain that Amy, who was a mechanic maniac, wouldn't waste a moment cornering the poor fox and picking his brain on anything and everything automotive.
When Judy said yes, Stu knew Amy had moved in for the kill and he hoped the small fox could survive his daughter's overenthusiastic curiosity for everything automotive. Stu was sure they were talking shop about their mechanic's exploits even now. When he asked if they were out in the garage, Judy had to stop and think about how to answer their question. She wasn't sure they knew Amy liked to fish. Biting her lip for a moment, Judy then said they weren't in the garage, but that Finnick had taken them down to the river, since Amy and Cotton both loved visiting lakes and hiking along rivers.
Stu and Bonnie were both surprised the small fox would be willing to take a couple of rabbits for a hike along the river, but Judy assured them Finnick was excited to have Amy on board for the rallies and took her out to the river to better get to know her. In a fierce competition like the jeep rallies, the two needed to have a good understanding of each other in order to work more efficiently together.
Judy heaved a mental sigh of relief when her parents bought her story and without delving too deeply into it. After saying goodbye so they could call Amy up to talk to Cotton, Judy hung up and dropped her phone in her lap. Rubbing her face with her paws, Judy heaved another sigh of relief that she was able to keep the conversation off her and Nick for the moment, though she had little doubt that her dad would be calling her up later tonight to ask some very pointed questions about her relationship with Nick. That was one conversation with her dad she was not looking forward to.
Hearing a chuckle, Judy dropped her paws to see Nick leaning against the bathroom's doorframe while still in the fur. Looking his lean frame over, she couldn't help but lick her lips. Nick really was everything she wanted and nothing that she didn't.
Seeing Judy ogling him again, Nick grinned smugly as he walked back to the bed. Thinking of the phone call they just had, a close call, too as they could have been found out if her parents hadn't been so worried about Cotton, Nick said, "Well, that went better than I expected."
"Yeah," Judy replied, "I'm really glad they didn't ask about us, though I'm sure my dad will call either later tonight or sometime tomorrow morning."
Nick flicked his ear as he wasn't looking forward to any interruptions. But that was life, wasn't it? Especially when he was married to a bunny with such a huge, over-protective family. Climbing up on the bed, Nick caressed Judy's cheek. "Now that the phone call with the parents is over, should we get back to enjoying ourselves?" Licking her lips and nose, Nick grinned wider, asking, "Or did you want to finish your nap?"
With a laugh, Judy pulled Nick into a hot kiss, then murmured against his lips, "What nap? I think we've slept long enough, don't you?"
Laughing, Nick pulled Judy into a close hug and rolled her over on the bed before capturing her mouth. Feeling Judy's paws in his fur while teasing his belly, Nick stopped thinking of anything else but the bunny in his arms.
In another part of Zootopia, Benjamin Clawhauser hummed his way around the kitchen of his apartment while making another batch of cookies. Although he was only required to bring the wedding cake for Nick and Judy's wedding, there could never be too many sweets at a wedding—so he was making a few extra treats to bring. Just a few. He already made a batch of peanut butter cookies, and a batch of ranger cookies, and he was just about to make some delicious, chocolaty no-bake cookies when the doorbell interrupted him.
Still humming while thinking of the fluffy heaven that Judy and Nick had shown him, and the excessive fluffiness he was sure to see at their wedding, Benjamin sashayed over to the front door while the wedding march played in his head. Opening the door, Benjamin was surprised—but excited—to see his cousin, Jeryl, and his oldest son, Jason, standing on the other side. Jeryl was the cousin Benji had texted about joining him in the jeep rallies this year, but his cousin had never gotten back with him.
"Hi, Benji," Jeryl said, "sorry I never got back with you yesterday, but these last few days have been really busy." Today, they had been helping a family friend repaint his fence after some specist bastards had spray painted a bunch of vulgar, anti-predator phrases across their wooden fence and the front of the house telling them to get their 'bloody fanged tails' out of town.
Jeryl and Jason, along with their friend and his wife, were able to erase everything with a fresh coat of paint, but the senselessness of it was depressing. Didn't these specist pricks have something better to do with their time than cause problems for everyone else? As it were, the family lived a couple of blocks away from their donut-loving cousin, so Jeryl decided to visit Benjamin while they were in the area and figure out what his text was all about.
Waving his cousin's words off, Benjamin ushered them into the apartment and over to the large, comfortable couch, saying, "Don't worry! You're here now and I'm so excited!"
Jeryl and Jason could both see their cousin's enthusiasm for the jeep rallies this year but were both in the dark as to why. Benji hadn't been to the rallies in several years, so why the sudden interest? Especially now of all times for him to want to go. With a nod at his cousin, Jeryl asked, "So what's this all about you wanting to join us in the jeep rallies this year?"
With a quick nod beside him, Jason blurted out, "Yeah! We weren't planning on attending this year because of all the savage attacks." Jason was starting his second year of college come the fall, but he had been attending the jeep rallies every year with his dad and uncle ever since he was six years old. His two younger brothers and his older sister always joined him, too.
Well, his sister had until she got married two winters ago. But the boys continued to attend each year, and would have this year, too, if not for all the fear and unrest the savage attacks had instilled in everyone. They weren't even sure predators were allowed to compete this year.
Benji's ears drooped, as did his tail, and then he exclaimed, "No! You have to attend this year!" With his long, spotted tail swishing beside him, Benji insisted, "We already caught the mastermind behind the attacks, so there shouldn't be any more problems."
Jeryl and Jason glanced at each other, then looked back at their excitable cousin. "Why is it so important that we attend this year?" Jeryl asked with a flick of his white-tipped tail.
"Oooh!" Benjamin said in his excitement. "Do you remember Team Honey from about 10 years ago?"
"Of course," Jeryl replied, even as Jason spoke up eagerly, saying, "Team Honey won so many medals and trophies it was astonishing!" The team members were so small compared to most of the other competitors and yet they still had such an impressive winning streak. Remembering the small mammals who made headlines back in the day, Jason added, "I even got their autographs once!" He was only 11 years old at the time and had met them during one of the rallies. When he asked, they agreed to sign a photograph he had of them. It was framed and hanging on his wall back home, along with a bunch of photos Jason had taken of his family attending the events and a few of the other teams he really liked.
"Right!" Benjamin cried out while squishing his fat cheeks. "Team Honey was the best! I recently became friends with Nick Wilde and Finnick Desserttail, Honey's two protégés, and they're entering the rallies again this year!"
Jason and Jeryl both stared, flabbergasted, at their cousin. No one had heard hide-nor-hair of the two foxes in over five years, not since Honey Badgersen's failing health prevented them from attending. After her death, it was almost like Team Honey never existed. So why would Nick and Finnick suddenly enter now? Raising a paw, Jeryl said, "Wait. Are you sure it's the same two foxes? No one has heard from the remaining members of Team Honey in so many years, how can you be sure someone isn't pulling your leg?"
Benjamin rolled his eyes. Although most foxes looked about the same to other species, Benji was a police officer and was good at telling the difference between different mammals of the same species, and Nick's dark-tipped tail was very unique among red foxes who were known for their 'white' tipped tails, just like cheetahs. "I've seen Nick and Finnick's trophies and medals, along with their pictures. And look," standing up, Benji went to a stack of magazines he had on the coffee table and pawed them over to his cousins.
The magazines were of the jeep rallies and Benjamin was super glad he had never thrown them out (his mother often complained about him being a pack rat with all the paraphernalia that he kept of any group that caught his interest—his biggest collection to date being of Gazelle). Just about every wall in his house, excluding the kitchen and dining room, was lined with tall bookshelves which held very few books. Instead, they were filled with collectables and framed photos of all his favorite mammals-of-interest.
His bedroom, the living room, and half the hallway bookshelves were filled with Gazelle's paraphernalia—snow globes, framed advertisements of her concerts, autographed photos he had bought online, magazines, CDs, DVDs, the Gazelle toys that came with the kids' meals from the fast-food joints, as well as a set of four crystal Gazelle mugs. There were other music bands and movie stars that were enshrined on the bookshelves along the hallway, but the study down the hall had everything he collected from the jeep rallies. Although Team Honey had the biggest collection, there were several other teams he enjoyed watching. He also had photos he had taken during camping trips and outings with his family, along with gifts and items he acquired during the many family reunions his extended family held every 4 years.
Turning his attention back to his cousins, Benjamin tapped the picture of Nick and Finnick on the magazine cover as they stood next to Honey Badgersen. "Trust me, I know my faces and I know that jeep." Moving his clawed finger over to highlight the deep sky-blue jeep the team stood in front of, he added, "Honey left everything to Nick when she died, including the jeep which Finnick has kept in mint condition." With a wide grin, Benji said, "They're entering this gold-medal jeep in the competition this year and hope to participate in the August, September, and October rallies."
Jeryl and Jason sat there stunned. Who would have thought the two small foxes of Team Honey would return to the limelight? Remembering the impressive winning streak Nick Wilde had when he took over as the main driver, this year was sure to be an exciting Jeep Rally season. After Benjamin informed his cousins that Nick had formed a new team with two sisters joining (he didn't tell them who the sisters were as Benji wanted to surprise his cousins and prevent gossip from spreading), Jeryl and Jason decided they might join this year after all, just to see the two foxes in action again.
Hearing how his cousins would stop by the Jeep Rally Association building and get the registration papers later in the week, Benjamin nearly squealed with happiness. He even led them into the kitchen to sample some of the prized cookies he had just baked. Jeryl and Jason readily agreed to try a few as Benji knew more about sweets than anyone else in their whole family! After biting into the mouth-watering cookies, they asked who he was making all the cookies for (they seriously hoped Benji wasn't making them all for himself).
Benjamin merely said that he was helping a couple of friends out with a small wedding reception they were hosting. The father and son duo asked who the friend was, and Benjamin had to pause. After a moment, he asked, "How do you guys feel about interspecies marriages?" When his cousins said they didn't see anything wrong with them, Benji pointed out, "I'm not talking about different felines or different deer species marrying each other, I mean two mammals whose species have absolutely nothing in common."
Tilting his head, Jason asked, "You mean like a cheetah and a hyena getting married or something?" He figured that would be one of the oddest couples around seeing as not only would the couple be a feline-canine relationship, but cheetahs were slender with a relatively weak bite (not counting the sugar-loving cheetah across from him) while hyenas were extremely muscular with one of the strongest-bites of any mammal.
Benjamin slowly shook his head, saying, "No…they're still in the predator bracket, so they're not different enough."
Jason became thoughtful while trying to figure out what his cousin meant, even as his dad sat up straighter, saying, "Do you mean to tell me that the couple is a pred-prey couple?" The disbelief was thick in his voice.
Realizing he probably said too much, Benjamin picked up the plate of cookies they'd been sampling and asked, "So what do you think? Are these good enough for a wedding?"
Jeryl rolled his eyes at Benji's lame attempt at evading the question. Jason on the other paw, stood up on the foot-bar of the stool he sat on and leaned over the breakfast bar he had been sitting at. Pointing his half-eaten cookie at his cousin, he asked incredulously, "Are you serious!? There's some prey out there wanting to marry a predator! Even after all the savage attacks!?"
Waving the plate of cookies in front of his younger cousin, Benjamin said, "You know, Ranger Cookies are one of my all-time favorites, but there are so many extra steps compared to peanut butter cookies." Looking down at the scrumptious cookies, he added wistfully, "I just wish they were a little easier to make, then I would eat them all the time."
Ignoring his cousin's words, Jason poked him in the arm with his cookie and asked, "Oh, come on, Benji, how does that even work? Some prey is letting a predator touch 'em with their sharp teeth and claws!? Don't kid me."
Setting the plate back down, Benjamin grabbed his younger cousin's paw, completely disregarding the cookie he was smooshing, and said, "It works out beautifully! They're just the cutest, most adorable pair ever!" With his eyes twinkling, he added, "They're right up there with Gazelle! Well, she's still number one, but they're a really close second."
Jason rolled his eyes at his sugar-loving, excitable cousin, then asked again, "But how would that work when no prey is comfortable around a predator's sharp claws and teeth?"
"But it works precisely because she has absolutely no problems with his claws and teeth! The girl thinks her guy's teeth and claws are some of his best features!" Releasing Jason's paw to clasp his own together, Benjamin pressed his clasped paws up to his chubby cheek and said, "Oh, you should see them kiss! Mmm, mmm, mmm! It's so sugary and sweet! Talk about fluff overload!"
Jeryl and Jason glanced at each other in shock as their cousin went off on another one of his fluff-filled tangents. Looking back at Benjamin, Jeryl rested his forearm on the counter he was leaning against and swiped his other paw through the air, saying, "Let me get this straight, Benji," he tapped the counter with his claw, "the girl is the prey?" Benjamin nodded, "and she loves everything predatory about her guy, even to the point of letting him kiss her?"
Laughing, Benjamin said, "Lets him?" Shaking his head with another laugh, Benji leaned over the counter and said, "She demands it." As his cousins' jaws dropped open, he added, "She even jokes about getting eaten by her fox."
If his cousins' jaws were slack before, they hit the counter with this pronouncement. "Wait!" the father and son exclaimed together. "The predator is a fox!?"
All playfulness deserted Benjamin as he realized he had said too much. Pointing to both of his cousins, he said in all seriousness, "You two can't say anything. With such a controversial relationship, they want to keep it on the downlow because once the media sharks find out about them, it'll be splashed all over the news and they won't have five minutes to themselves without some specist idiot trying to butt into their lives."
Jeryl's ears flicked back as he knew Benji was right. A pred-prey couple would get a lot of media coverage on its own, but if a fox was involved, it could turn into a bloodbath. Jason, on the other paw, was simply surprised a fox could land a prey mate and was highly curious about the fox. He opened his mouth to ask who the fox was, but his cousin shut him down before he even got a word out.
Pointing to Jason, Benjamin reiterated, "Promise, Jason. Promise you won't say anything. Their relationship will come out sooner or later, but they deserve some peace and quiet while their relationship is just starting out." Benjamin knew he could count on his cousin Jeryl to keep his mouth shut as he had worked at the ZPD before he retired. He wasn't a cop but had worked in the PR department, so he knew how badly the media liked to twist the facts and make more of something than there was.
Jason, on the other paw, was much younger and highly curious. He loved asking questions and finding out the truth. It took him a while to finally decide on a career to pursue, but he finally figured it out. Once he finished college, Jason hoped to transfer to Law School, though he wasn't trying to get into Zootopia Law. That prestigious Law School was a little too competitive and preppy for him as he just wanted to be a lawyer for a small company instead of a public defender or prosecutor. Although Jason was interested in law, he wanted to avoid the craziness that was the courts as much as possible.
Staring at Benjamin's black claw that was pointed at his nose, Jason finally sighed. "Fine," he said, "I promise not to say anything." Benji nodded and dropped his paw, but then Jason added, "Come on, just a little clue." Raising a paw, he held the thumb and pointer finger an inch apart.
Benjamin scowled at him, then picked up another cookie and stuffed it in his mouth. "Not. A. Clue. They'll be announcing their relationship next spring if the media doesn't find out about it before that, so you can find out then."
With a chuckle, Jeryl slapped his son's back, saying, "Come on, Jason, you know you won't get any more out of Benji. His mouth is like a steel trap when he wants it to be."
It was Jason's turn to scowl while his dad and cousin laughed at him. Not that he minded, it was all in good fun, but he really wanted to know who the fox was that landed a prey wife. And who was the wife? He was a cat and the curiosity was killing him!
Shaking his head again, Jeryl turned back to Benjamin and said, "These cookies are great, and I know they'll be much enjoyed at the wedding reception." Benji beamed at his older cousin, and then Jeryl turned to his son and said, "Let's go. We still have things to do today." Jason nodded and stood up, with Benjamin following them to the door. As he waved them off, Jeryl said they would be picking up the rally registration papers tomorrow or the next day and filling them out.
Benjamin was ecstatic to be joining the rallies again knowing Nick and Judy would be attending. Their wedding this week and then the jeep rallies next month. Oh, he couldn't wait! He also couldn't wait for Judy to come back to work. Although he wasn't at the reception desk anymore, he knew the peppy rabbit would pay a visit and talk to him just about every day. Besides the heat, that's one of the things Benji hated most about being in Records—it was so lonely! There was never anyone to talk to! Heading back into the kitchen, he began on his next batch of cookies.
As Jeryl and Jason climbed back into their silver crew cab Dodge truck, Jeryl turned the truck on, then turned to his son. "Jason, I want you to keep your word about not saying anything about Benji's friend being in a pred-prey relationship." Pointing his black claw at his son, he added, "And don't go snooping around about it, either. We have enough angry, resentful mammals running hotheaded through the city as it is, with all the savage attacks and another mayor behind bars. If these same specist bastards find out a fox has a prey mate, they might just lynch him."
Jason's round, black ears folded back against his head. His dad was right. Although he didn't have anything against foxes in general, he knew how society viewed them. And after all the savage attacks and the unrest in the city, they would be out for blood if they found out a fox was putting his sharp-clawed paws all over some prey female.
Taking a deep breath, Jason nodded. He didn't want to hurt Benji's friend, no matter how badly his curiosity was eating up inside. "I'll keep my mouth shut, Dad, and I promise not to snoop around, either."
Giving his son a grateful nod, Jeryl backed out of the parking spot and headed to his daughter's house. She was expecting her first litter next month—twins, no less!—and he and Jason had promised to help her get her nursery all prepared. They were painting the nursery and then assembling the baby crib.
Sitting on the boulder that jutted out into the river, Amy, Cotton, and Finnick sat talking as they continued fishing. They had caught a good-sized bluegill that they kept, and several more crappies but had released them back as they were all on the small side. They were still waiting to catch a catfish, but whether they did or not, they would still have delicious fish for dinner tonight.
Finnick was currently in the middle of telling a tall tale about one of his previous fishing trips, and outrageously exaggerating everything which had Amy and Cotton both laughing hysterically. Cotton was holding her stomach with one paw and pointing to the small fox with the other while laughing her head off, but their laughter died a moment later when Amy's phone suddenly rang and startled both her and Cotton. Amy didn't need to look at it to know who was calling as all the Hopps' kits had a special ringtone for their parents' phone calls. With her ears drooping, she said, "It's my parents."
"Oh, phooey, I was just gettin' to the best part, too," Finnick said. He normally would have used a more colorful term, but seeing as he was entertaining a young kit, he figured he better watch his language.
Cotton giggled, even as Amy glanced at the fishing rods. Biting her lip for a moment, she then said, "My parents don't know I go fishing, and certainly not with Cotton, so... Can we pull the lines up and leave the rods here for a few minutes while we walk up stream? I'd rather they think we were merely hiking along the riverbank."
With a shrug, Finnick answered, "Sure. I don't have a problem with that. There is a trail that runs along the river, so it won't be a lie." Finn knew how uncommon it was for prey in general to fish (it wasn't unheard of, but not that common, either), and for a bunny from a traditional rabbit family to not only fish but also eat fish—he could totally see why Amy didn't want to tell her parents.
"Thanks so much, Finnick," Amy said with a blinding smile as she reeled in the line. Finn did the same, and then the three hiked along the trail before Amy pulled out her phone and called her parents back on MuzzleTime. They were still on the train, about 30 minutes outside of Bunnyburrow, and while Bonnie and Stu remained sitting in the main passenger car, Amy's siblings had all gone up to the observation deck.
When Bonnie had checked their phone and saw the text from Judy, they couldn't hold off calling. They were worried sick about their granddaughter, so when Judy told them to call Amy, they immediately called their oldest daughter. Seeing how happy and excited Cotton was, their fears faded as they figured she wasn't any worse for wear having stowed away in one of Judy's boxes—which they gave her a stern lecture for.
Cotton was properly contrite, but after the lecture, she was more than happy to introduce her new friend, Mr. Finnick and told them how much fun he was and all the stuff he knew about the city! Bonnie and Stu were impressed with Finnick, that he would treat such a young rabbit doe with such time and attention, but they didn't question it as they could see how happy Cotton was.
Finnick explained that he had been a tour guide when he was younger, so when Amy showed up to meet them for the jeep rallies, he offered to show her around, and seeing Cotton's excitement when she heard about the trip, how could he tell her no?
Hopping up and down in delight, Cotton said, "Yeah, Mr. Finnick was tellin' us about this really huge catfish he tried catching once. It dragged him in the water and nearly drowned him!" Spreading her arms wide, she continued saying, "It weighed at least 40 pounds and he had to grab some floating sticks to use as skis while the monster catfish dragged him all over the lake!"
Finnick coughed into his shoulder at the tall tale, even as Bonnie and Stu questioned him about telling fishing stories to their 5-year-old granddaughter. Pointing to the river as Amy panned the phone camera around so her parents could see the river and forest they hiked through, Finnick said, "Cotton was interested in the fish that swim in these waters, so I was telling her some stories about them."
Pointing downstream, beyond the trees, Finnick added, "This river drains into Beaver Lake several miles downstream, which is where I met the monster catfish." With a flick of his ear, Finnick admitted, "I might have been exaggerating the size of the catfish I caught, but there really are 40-pound catfish living in the deeper parts of the lake and the one I caught was big enough to pull me into the water."
Sticking his nose almost on the screen, Stu demanded, "You're not planning to take my daughter and granddaughter out on that scary lake, are you?"
Finnick shook his head while waving his paws out in front of him. "No, no, no. Those catfish are big enough to eat me, so no way am I going out there. Uh-uh, no way. I like to stay safely on the shore."
Bringing the phone away from his face with Bonnie shaking her head in the background, Stu said, "Well, that's good." Looking back and forth between them, he then said, "I'm surprised Judy didn't talk Nick into bringing her along with you. She always did like hiking out in the woods and since he already took her on a morning run, I don't see why he couldn't bring her hiking, too."
Before Amy or Finnick could make up an excuse for the missing lovebirds, Cotton opened her mouth and proclaimed, "Aunty Judy and Uncle Nick are resting at home because Aunty Judy did a big no-no." Since no one told her not to tell anyone about Judy's fiasco, and being only five years old, Cotton had no filter on her mouth. This meant she didn't feel the need to hide anything from her grandparents about Judy's painfully dumb move earlier.
"What did she do?" Stu asked as he started fuming. Since Judy admitted to her and Nick being in a relationship, he immediately thought the worst, even as Bonnie tilted her head with a raised brow as she wondered what Judy had done this time. That girl was trouble-prone, no two ways about it, but she hoped her overenthusiastic daughter hadn't done any serious damage to the helpful fox who had stolen her heart.
"Uncle Nick told Aunty Judy something she really liked, and she jumped off the couch and knocked them both over the coffee table and onto the floor." Dropping her paw down, she then said, "Bam. Uncle Nick broke Aunty Judy's fall and so he hurt his back and Aunty Judy popped some of her stitches. They had to call the doctor so he could come look at her leg again."
Both older rabbits' ears dropped to their back. They had just talked to Judy and she hadn't mentioned a word about her condition. Looking up at Amy who was standing behind Cotton, they asked, "What is Cotton talking about, honey?"
With a nervous laugh, Amy replied, "Just what Cotton said. Nick promised something to Judy that she was super excited about and so she literally leaped before she looked and flipped them both over the coffee table. Nick's shoulder, ribs, and lower back were bruised, and Judy popped 3 stitches. Her doctor was just finishing up at the hospital, so he did a home visit. Judy is fine. Her leg muscle itself is healing nicely, she just needs to keep her bandage on a few extra days so the skin can re-heal, that's it."
Although Bonnie and Stu weren't happy about the debacle Judy had put her and Nick through, they were happy to hear she hadn't re-opened her wound too badly. Stu complained about Judy not mentioning any of this when they called a few minutes ago and stated his intentions to call her right back.
Knowing Judy and Nick were probably resting, Amy immediately spoke up and told them they shouldn't be bugging Judy while she was resting. Since they just talked to her, it was obvious she was okay and they could call her later this evening, especially since Nick and Judy still had to get ready for a dinner date they had with one of Nick's friends.
Bonnie knew who the friend was, so when Stu asked about him, Bonnie explained that Nick's friend was a judge that Nick met and befriended as a lawyer. Stu was impressed to learn Nick had a judge as a friend but wasn't sure why he had invited them both over for dinner so suddenly. Judy hadn't even been back to Zootopia for a week yet, and she was still recovering from the injury she received bringing Bellwether down.
Amy piped up to explain that after hearing Nick had finally gotten himself a girlfriend, he and his wife invited them both over so they could meet Judy. The family were elk, but Nick was the judge's favorite lawyer, so when he found out Nick finally met a girl who made him think of settling down, he and his wife just had to meet her.
Stu got a thoughtful look on his face when he heard this, but then he asked why no one bothered to tell him sooner that Judy and Nick were in a relationship. It was bad enough thinking about them living together as roommates, so he didn't even want to think about them living together while in a romantic relationship when they weren't even married.
Bonnie rolled her eyes hearing his question and answered, "Stu, you didn't even want them living together, nor did you like the fact they were friends." Stu looked properly sheepish at her reminder, and then Bonnie added, "Don't forget about all those Fox-Away products you tried to foist on your daughter when she first came to Zootopia three months ago. They were probably afraid you'd go after Nick with a taser if you found out they were dating." Stu winced as him tasing the fox could have been a very real possibility if he had learned about their relationship a few days earlier. Seeing Stu's wince, Bonnie said, "So don't blame anyone but yourself and your own specist attitude for not being told sooner."
Stu's ears drooped and his nose twitched while he thought about how right Bonnie was about his initial brusque attitude and misgiving towards the fox. He had done nothing to garner Nick's trust, and the way he always went off about predators, Judy didn't have a reason to trust him with this kind of information, either. With a heavy sigh, Stu pulled his baseball cap off his head and scratched between his ears, then plopped the hat back on his head. "You're right, Bonnie, you're absolutely right. I…I didn't give either of them much reason to trust me, did I?"
"No, you didn't, dear," Bonnie said, "but at least you now know where you went wrong. The first step to making a change is recognizing when something needs fixed."
Stu nodded, but didn't say anything more as he had a lot of things to think about. Now that he wasn't worried about Cotton's safety, he could focus his thoughts on his predator-loving daughter and the things he'd told his kits while he was raising them. Things that were completely wrong and full of misunderstandings while blaming the innocent for the sins of their forefathers. With another heavy sigh, Stu knew he needed to make some major changes if he wanted to be a part of Judy's life while she was dating Nick. And, heaven help him, if he hoped to be invited to their wedding. If he knew anything about Judy, it was that she wouldn't start something unless she intended to finish it.
Bonnie saw the contemplative look on her husband's face and turned back to Amy and Cotton on the phone. "Thank you for telling us about Judy and Nick, you two, and don't worry, we'll wait before calling them again." Waving at them, Bonnie ended with, "We'll let you get back to your hike. Take care, girls. We love you."
"Goodbye, Mom," Amy said, even as Cotton smiled brightly while saying, "G'bye Grandma, I love you bunches."
With a warm smile, Bonnie said, "I'll miss you, Cotton, have fun on your little hike. Goodbye, sweetie." Stu was too lost in thought to realize the phone call had come to an end, but no one minded. They knew Stu was doing some long-overdue thinking.
Finnick, on the other paw, had been standing by the river while staring at the phone in Amy's paw with a slack jaw. He couldn't believe Cottontail's parents had accepted her relationship with Red. They were rabbits and yet they didn't have a problem with their daughter dating a fox!? (Well, it sounded like Stu was struggling with the idea, but he wasn't trying to break them up!) This was unheard of, even here in Zootopia where everyone was supposed to be living in harmony—predator and prey.
Finnick had always thought the Zootopian motto—Where predator and prey live together in harmony—was a load of crap to bring in all the gullible tourists to the big city, but now, seeing how close Nick and Judy were, it was obvious that species meant nothing to them. Glancing at the two rabbits he was currently with, Finn realized their species didn't matter much to him either, as they certainly didn't have a problem with his. With a ghost of a smile touching the corners of his mouth, Finnick wondered if things were finally going to start looking up here in Zootopia? If more mammals could see past their species to the individuals beneath, this world would be a whole lot better and brighter.
As Amy put her phone back in her pocket, Cotton clapped her paws and said enthusiastically, "Okay! Let's go catch more fish!" Turning around, she started skipping back down the trail with Amy and Finnick laughing merrily behind her.
Amy was feeling warm and fuzzy about how everything was going, not just the fishing trip, but with how easy and fun it was to hang out with Finnick, that they could enjoy their time together doing things outside the automotive field. Most of the mechanics she knew back home only wanted to spend time with her if they were crawling around under the hood of a car or beneath the vehicle, and mostly, they just wanted her help so they had an excuse to stare at her tail. But Finnick wasn't like that. He had already come up with a whole list of things for them to do together during the few days she was here, only two of which involved automotive work (checking out the jeep and helping him repaint his van door).
Furthermore, her parents approved Finnick as her friend and didn't hassle her over spending time alone with him (unlike how her father had been doing with Judy in regard to Nick). The fact that Cotton and Finnick got along so well was further icing on her cake, and most of Finn's plans with her also involved Cotton. Judy had told her to take things slow but to be persistent with Finnick, and by all the warm looks Finnick was giving her, that seemed to be excellent advice. With her heart fluttering at the hopeful future that was now before her, she happily skipped along after her niece.
Finnick was feeling pretty good, as well. Hearing how both of Amy's parents were supportive of Nick and Judy's relationship gave him better hope for the future, that he would be welcomed at the burrow when he traveled to Bunnyburrow with Amy later this week to help her fix up her classic baby-blue Chevy. And since he was going to be helping her fix the car up, he was looking forward to the Classic Car show it was to be entered in. He was also interested in the Annual Mud Day Festival that was taking place at the same time.
Was Amy really signed up for the Beauty Pageant and the Mud Wrestling competition? (Amy had mentioned a couple of the events she was signed up for during the Mud Day Festival). Finn found himself looking forward to seeing Amy dressed up for the pageant, while the mud wrestling sounded like something he would enjoy competing in. Would it be too late to sign up when he arrived on Thursday? Amy was also super psyched to be joining them for the jeep rallies which meant Amy shared a lot of his passions but they had enough differences to keep everything interesting.
As he hurried after Amy who was now skipping next to her niece (he was really glad Amy had suggested bringing Cotton along for the trip—she was a fun little bun to hang with), Finnick called after Amy and asked for further details about the Annual Mud Day Festival. Amy was happy to tell him more about it, and even Cotton piped up to tell him about some of the stuff that happened at last year's festival. The top thing being how Aunt Amy and Aunt Wendy had won third place in the Team Mud Wrestling competition.
Finn was impressed, so while they picked up their fishing rods and tossed the lines back in the water, he asked for more details about the various events. Between fishing and making plans for the future, this was shaping up to be the best fishing trips ever for everyone involved.
WingedKatt here. I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Although Benjamin is the one who said the phrase used in the chapter title, everyone is clueless on what Nick and Judy are actually up to right now. We'll see what happens when they do find out. Next chapter, we'll finally see what Vivian and Janelle are up to with the neighbors and then we'll move into dinnertime.
If you have any thoughts or questions, let me know. Take care and have a great weekend.
PS. In case you missed it and were hoping for it, I did post a Spice-File chapter for Nick and Judy's Claiming Ceremony.