Hey there! Welcome to the second and final chapter of this little story. As promised, all really dark moments are in the past. Time for fluff!

PS: sorry it turned out longer than expected…




Strangely, the morning and the afternoon flashed by without any of the two lovers noticing. In the arms of the other, kissing, nuzzling and simply cuddling on the couch, time lost its meaning. They didn't even feel the need to eat, too lost in their newly found joy, now that they had finally shared their mutual feelings. And if not for Nick's angry stomach growling, they probably would have forgotten dinner too.

"Sorry sweetheart" Nick said with an apologetic smile. Judy smiled at the nickname, but elbowed him in the guts anyway. The opportunity was too good to pass on.

"Nice way to kill a mood, Slick." Then she tried to jump out of the couch, only to find she couldn't. Nick's arms were locked around her small frame, keeping her close. The fox smiled deviously.

"Sorry, prey, not going anywhere. You heard, it's dinner time." And with that, he faked attacking her, nibbling at her shoulders and arms. Judy started wiggling as much as she could, laughing and squealing all the way, but she was powerless. Nick had caught her unguarded and immobilized her arms, leaving little room for her to resist the onslaught. Not that she actually wanted to get rid of the fox.

Well, not at first at least. But after half a dozen minutes, her bladder decided it had been shaken enough and needed release.

"Niiiiiiiiiiiiick! Please, stop. Nick, I need to- GAH-". The fox had opened his jaw big and caught her neck entirely, cutting the bunny short and leaving her breathless. She also stopped wiggling, turning into a puppet in his grip. Feeling her turn to putty, the fox slightly strengthened his grip, earning him a moan and feeling the shiver that shook her whole body. Satisfied, he let go and slowly licked the fur of her neck, where his fangs had reached the skin. Judy was completely immobile, breathing heavily.

"You all right there?" He made no effort to hide how proud of himself he was. Less than twenty-four hours ago he was a complete mess, torn, hurt, scared, but all of this had been washed away with only four words. Four words he had dreamt of hearing but also given up on.

And still there he was, with the best thing that could ever happen to him huddled against his chest. Feeling her fast beating heart against his own was exhilarating, and he had shut down his brain for hours now, simply enjoying her presence.

Maybe he should have kept a tiny part of his brain functional, as it could have helped see through her act. With a strong push of legs, Judy suddenly broke his embrace and jumped on the floor, rolling to get up more quickly, and with a wink ran away from the living room, leaving behind a stunned fox.

"Nice try, predator, but you're too rusty!" she teased him, before he heard a door close and lock. Nick remained there, smiling dumbly.

"Clever bunny" he whispered to himself, still not believing how lucky he was. His stomach growled again, snapping him out of his reverie. "Okay, okay, I'm taking care of you, just shut up already, killjoy!" he said looking at his belly like he was a betrayer. Which, in a way, was true, as it had interrupted the best couple hours he had lived in long.

Reaching for his phone, his eyes opened wide, seeing it was already a quarter to seven. He didn't know when they had breakfast and talked, but if the sunrays had been any indication, it couldn't have exceeded nine a.m., meaning they had been cuddling for ten hours straight. Ten! No wonder his body was not happy.

So he went to the kitchen, opened the fridge, and rummaged through all they had bought, trying to find something that appealed to him and would appeal to her too. His eyes focused on the eggs, then on the mushrooms. Shrugging, he took the ingredients as well as beans, tomatoes and some bugs. Snacking on the bugs, he started preparing the omelet and the side of beans. Enough to fill them without being too heavy for a dinner.



Judy, having finally been able to deal with her natural urges, was washing her paws in the bathroom when her phone rang. She didn't have the time to pick up, still drying her fur. Looking at the journal, she saw it was her parents trying to reach her through MuzzleTime. Walking to the living room, she pressed the dial back button. It didn't take long for her mother's face to appear on the screen.

"Oh, there you are sweety. I thought you had forgotten our weekly call." Judy tried her best to hide her surprise. She HAD forgotten the call, so lost in her boyfriend's arms. Boyfriend. The word brought a huge smile to her face, saving her.

"Of course not, mom. Was just in the bathroom. So, how are things up? Stuck home too I suppose?" Bonnie's face fell, and she pinched her nose.

"Huuuggghhhh, don't talk about it. I'm glad we have the right to work the fields, or I would go crazy with your siblings. Mom, I'm bored. Mom, this one doesn't share this or that. Mom, this one keeps bothering me" she said, imitating her kids and rolling her eyes. "Don't get me wrong sweety, I love all of you, but sometimes I wonder what life would be with only a dozen of you."

That last comment made Judy laugh.

"Well, at least they keep you busy."

"Oh sorry Judy, how are you holding up? We know your apartment isn't really the best place to be stuck in. Why haven't you moved yet by the way? Surely you should be able to afford something a bit bigger, with your own bathroom at least."

Judy's smile faltered. She wasn't home! Luckily her mother didn't seem to have looked behind her and notice. But what was she supposed to say? Could she really tell them she was staying at Nick's place? How about the two of them? Indecision made her stay quiet for too long, and her mother caught on that.

"Sweety? You okay? Is it that bad for you?" Getting no answer, Bonnie studied her daughter's face closely, then her surroundings. What was Judy sitting on?

"Judy, do you have a new couch? I didn't think you'd have the place in such a small room."

"What? Ah, that. Hum, no, not really. See, you're right about my place. It wasn't –isn't really adapted to containment. So, hummmmmm, I kind of… not stay there?" Bonnie's eyes opened wide.

"You're not? Judy, where are you?" Judy smiled timidly.

"Well, thing is, I was panicking a bit when the chief ordered us home, and… I mayyyyyy have gotten a bit emotional in front of the colleagues aaaaaannnnndddddd…" She paused, but Bonnie didn't.


Judy took a deep breath, and dropped the bomb. After all, she'll have to tell them one day.

"And one of them have offered to host me so I wouldn't stay alone and go nuts."

The sentence was met with silence. Bonnie was staying still, processing her daughter's words.

"You're… you're living with a colleague of yours?"

"Not living with him mom! Just crashing at his place."

"Him?" Judy winced internally. Why didn't she think of it earlier? Female solidarity! The best excuse not to be home, and give her and Nick the time to talk about it. They had not been a couple for a whole day yet, and she was already facing her mom.

"Judy! Is there something you're not telling me?" Judy winced again. She didn't like this tone. She had learnt to recognize it through the years, all the Hopps kids had. It was the "you're in trouble" tone. Judy wasn't a kid anymore however, so she let anger build a bit and found the strength to talk back.

"Mom, I'm an adult, I'm old enough to take care of myself, okay?" But Bonnie wasn't buying it.

"Judy, you've got five seconds to tell me everything." Judy was about to raise her voice when a voice coming from behind cut the two of them.

"Carrots, when you're done talking to yourself, dinner's nearly ready." Then a red pawed gently stroked one of her ear. The gasp of shock that resulted took the fox by surprise. He looked above her shoulder, and only then did he see the device in the bunny's paw, and the shocked face of her mother on it.

"Oh, sorry ma'am. I thought Judy was thinking out loud again. Happens more often that she wants to admit. Sorry to interrupt, I'll leave you alone. Bye." And with a wave of the paw he was gone again. A very uncomfortable silence followed. Judy didn't know what to say, and felt it was best to let her mother the time to think it through. It took quite some time in the end, but she finally managed to speak again.

"You're staying at your partner's place?" Judy sighed. There was no way to avoid the storm now.

"Yes, I am. He was nice enough to offer, and I agreed. Plus, Bogo told us we would be patrolling from times to times, so it'll be easier." Bonnie nodded absently.

"Carrots?" Judy smiled.

"Remember how I met him?" Bonnie nodded again.

Judy had avoided the topic at all cost, but on Nick's graduation they had met and asked him. And not wanting to be rude, Nick had told the whole truth, even if he was ashamed of himself. He didn't know it, but by doing so, he had earned some respect from Bonnie, the elder doe finding courageous to dare say the hard truth. Stu on the other side… Let's just say that Nick was lucky to be surrounded by cops.

"It was a nickname he gave me to piss me off. But I like it now. It's part of our routine, you know." Bonnie's answer was for the third time a simple nod. Something was clearly bothering her, and Judy knew what.

"Mom, I'm fine. Need I remind you he's a cop too? And my partner? I'm perfectly safe here. You don't need to worry. And you work with Gideon now, you can't go on saying not to trust foxes."

"Judy, he-" But Judy didn't let her talk.

"Mom, please. He knows I would have gone crazy alone. And you know it too, you said it yourself minutes ago. He just wanted to be nice. I'm not cooking or cleaning the house or doing all the chores for him, it's just a friendly arrangement for the coming month, maybe less depending on the pharmaceutical companies' results. You know, just like roomies. He didn't even ask me to pay my half of the rent! Stop worrying for me, please."

"Your ear." Judy looked at her mother with raised brows.


"He… he caressed your ear." Oh. OOOOOHHHHHHHH, Judy thought. She had been completely wrong. Her mother wasn't afraid for her or had anything against Nick. She had just witnessed an act that, for bunnies, could be meaningful. Very meaningful.

"Mom, whatever you're thinking, stop thinking it! He's a fox. He doesn't know about those… things." But she could see in her mother's eyes that she wasn't biting. And the smile that formed on her lips did nothing to ease her.

"Judy. Are you taking advantage of this boy?" Judy reddened and her jaw slacked.

"WHAT? MOM!" But she couldn't hide the blush coloring her face, especially when she realized that Nick would have surely heard her shout and her voice. She went closer to the window and turned to face the kitchen, making sure he could not sneak behind her unnoticed again, and lowered her voice.

"I don't know, sweetie. You're sure he doesn't know?"

"Of course he doesn't! It's a bunny thing, not a fox thing!"

"So it's not the first time he does it?"

"No, but it doesn't mean anything to him!"

"Hummmm." Bonnie was grinning now. "And you never told him to stop? Interesting."

"Of course not! How can I tell him what it can mean for us without making it… weird?"

"Of course. That's why. I believe you, sweetie." But her tone was clearly indicating the opposite, and Judy facepawed.


"What? You said it yourself, you're an adult sweetie. And single. And we bunnies are physical mammals. And you spend time with him. A LOT of time. And-"

"Mom STOP! I don't want to hear more!" But Bonnie wasn't done teasing her daughter.

"And I know first pawed how good an ear massage can be. Your father hasn't lost his dexterity you know."

"Mom, one more word and I hang up, okay?" Judy was clearly ill at ease. She wasn't innocent of course, she knew how her parents got to get so many kids, but that didn't mean she wanted to talk about it.

"All right, all right. Just teasing, sweety. It's a shame though." Judy stopped and looked at her mother. What did she just say? Surely, she was joking. Right? Judy decided to try and probe a bit and, acting like the majority of the world would, rolled her eyes and went for the most obvious comment.

"Mom, he's a fox and I'm a bunny."

"Doesn't mean he can't make you happy. But I suppose it doesn't matter. As you said, not another word. How's work with all this mess?"

"We haven't been working for two days. Mayor's orders, even the ZPD isn't supposed to roam the streets and has to respect the health recommendations. Some of us patrol to make sure mammals obey, but our turn hasn't come yet."

And they went on for a dozen minutes, Judy explaining the situation in the city, and comparing with her home town as well the rest of the tri-burrows, taking news of her family and family's friends.

But she wasn't interested in the conversation anymore. Her mother's words echoed in her mind. It's a shame. She couldn't make her mind on them. Was she still teasing her, trying to get her to talk, or was she serious? And if she was probing too, was it a bad sign or a good one?

Luckily for her, she could hear ruckus coming from behind her mother, and the elderly doe bowed her head, sighing.

"Oh, god. Your brothers are at it again." She then raised her head and smiled apologetically. "Sorry sweety, but I got to go before they mess with the whole kitchen."

"Don't worry mom. I'll call you when we are sent patrolling, or next week as usual."

"Oh, sweety, before you hang up, can I talk to Mr. Wilde please?"


Judy stopped. She was torn. What could her mother want to say to her Nick? Could she really try to make him spill the beans again? Or was she about to threaten him? Seeing the indecision on her daughter's face, Bonnie tried to ease her.

"Don't worry sweetie, I don't want to insult him or anything. Just a few words is all."

"O-kay, I guess. I'll go find him." And she did, dread clutching at her guts.

Upon reaching the kitchen door, she saw Nick was done cleaning the pan he had used for the omelet. The food was on the table, two plates full of eggs and beans. She immediately raised her phone, showing Nick the call wasn't ended, and making sure he would behave. Nick saw that and smiled, waving and mouthing a "goodbye ma'am". Bonnie chuckled.

"Actually, Nick, my mom wanted to talk to you" Judy said, her anxiety audible in her voice.

And she pawed him the phone, turning it so that her mother couldn't see the two of them. Nick used the opportunity to send her a questioning look, which she answered by shrugging and mouthing "I don't know". Then he picked the phone and smiled like nothing had happened.

"Evening ma'am."

"Good evening Mr. Wilde. Just wanted to have a few words with you, ALONE, if you don't mind." Judy heard the word and her ears dropped behind her back.

"Well, hum, I-hum, sure. Car-Judy?" Nick said, sensing something was up and not liking it. Judy looked at the phone one last time, and exited the room. Nick waited to see her sit on the couch before speaking again.

"Okay, she's in the living room. Ma'am, about Judy staying here, I don't-"

"Mr. Wilde!" He stopped and looked at the doe on the phone.

"Sorry to interrupt, but it sounded like you needed it. I'm not mad or angry, nor do I want to threaten you or insult you or anything. So, just relax, okay?" The fox nodded, happy to hear it, but still anxious.

"All right. Sorry. Bad habits die hard, I suppose." Bonnie smiled at the comment, though she didn't like it. Not that she was fond of foxes, but working with Gideon Grey had greatly help her grow and open her mind. She had nothing against Nick, but she also knew she was now an exception amongst bunnies, and amongst most mammals in general.

"Mr. Wilde, I know my daughter is safe with you. You're an officer after all. Also, I'm done with treating all foxes as sly and untrustworthy. Maybe Judy told you about Mr. Grey?" Nick's smile was back at the thought.

"She tried, yes. But she lost me when she used pastry chef and home-grown blueberries in the same sentence." It was Bonnie's turn to laugh.

"Oh my. Judy told me about your love for blueberries, but seeing the goofie smile on your face she was far from the truth."

"Well, everybody's got a weakness. Guess you now know mine."

Nick was a bit more at ease. He had feared the worse, especially after the very awkward first time they had met them. Since that day, they had barely spoke, except for a few niceties on the phone on speaker. So hearing that the elder doe wanted to talk to him after learning Judy was crashing here was not something he had been excited about. Still, he was curious to know what she wanted.

"True I do. Oh, it gives me an idea. We both know my Judy would have gone crazy in her apartment, so I'm thankful to you for welcoming her. About a little thank you package? I still have a few jars of home-made jam if you'd like, or I could send fresh ones." Nick's eyes opened wide, nearly as wide as his smile.

"Well, I wasn't expecting something in return, but maybe I'd do it more regularly." Bonnie chuckled.

"Now now, Mr. Wilde. My daughter isn't for trade you know." Nick laughed too.

"Right. And I'm grateful she isn't here to hear me, or she'd flick my ears hard. She knows I hate that." Bonnie's smile became a bit more serious.

"Actually, Mr. Wilde, that's what I wanted to talk to you about." Nick frowned. Why would Judy's mother want to talk about his ears?

"Hum, okay?"

"Not you ears, Mr. Wilde. My daughter's." Boy, do all mothers read mind? Nick thought. But he didn't have the time to answer.

"I believe you heard me earlier, right? That's why you looked and saw the phone." Nick nodded, letting the doe get to the point. Point he was completely clueless about.

"Well, while that might have sounded rude of me for anyone… well, not a bunny, there's something I feel you must know. Something you might find useful."

Nick was definitely lost. He knew very little about bunnies in general, except for the common idea of always breeding and their love for carrots, which was a thing, no matter how much they refused to admit it.

"Okay. I'm listening." That wasn't a lie.

"Well, I don't know if you've noticed, but a bunny's ears are very sensitive."

"Trust me, ma'am, half the city knows. Judy's got the record for putting tickets on parked cars, and she got it just be hearing the clicks the meters do, even with the ambient sounds of a big city." Bonnie smiled.

"That's not really what I had in mind." Nick didn't answer. Nor did he react in any way. He was just lost once again.

"You see Mr. Wilde, I learned something about you foxes thanks to some of my most unruly kids. They tried to catch Mr. Grey's tail, and I was wondering about his extreme reaction. He was nice enough to explain." Nick processed the words, then his jaw fell.

"Well, looks like you got it, Mr. Wilde. Ears are to a bunny what the tail is to a fox. A very private part of our anatomy." Then she winked at him. "And in our case, a very erogenous zone, I should add."

Suddenly, Nick felt grateful for being a red fox, as he could feel his fur catch fire all over his face. Judy's mother had blinked at him, before talking about her daughter's erogenous zones! He didn't like this conversation. Not at all. He wasn't a prude, but who at his place would feel confident and at ease? This was Judy's mother, for fox's sake!

"Ma'am, I-I… Well, I don't really know what to say to be honest. Wasn't expecting to hear that. Nor to talk about it. And lastly, no offense meant of course, definitely not with you." Bonnie laughed more.

"I can understand that, but it's not really a big deal for us bunnies. You know how many kits I have, and I'm not an exception in the countryside. This topic is easy for us, though I can understand why it can be different in the city. Sorry if I'm being a bit too straightforward, but when I saw you earlier... you can guess why I needed to tell you."

Nick's ears fell on his skull. So focused on the talk, much too close to THE talk to his liking, he had forgotten why they were actually having it. And the full force of his action struck him right in the face. A huge metaphorical slap that left him blank-minded and oh-so shameful. He just wanted to be nice to his love, and ended being flirty, even more than flirty if Bonnie wasn't pulling his leg, in front of her mother.

Then another thought came. There was another bunny who knew the significance of his gesture. A bunny who was also in front of her mother when that happened. A bunny for whom it wasn't the first time it happened. Oh boy. Nick gulped, not knowing how to get out of this sticky situation. It was actually the first time when he really needed his silver tongue, and it looked like the cat got it.

"Well, I should stop embarrassing you, Mr. Wilde. Just be sure to think about it next time. I don't know, maybe if you offer to massage her or something."

Bonnie was smiling and looking straight at the fox, who had never felt so embarrassed before. First a wink, then the talk, then suggestions. Bonnie had told the truth when she had said she was okay with the topic. But this was a very strange way of addressing it anyway.

"Ma-massage? Why would I do that?" he tried to defend himself, hearing the lack of conviction in his voice and hating himself for it.

"I don't know, Mr. Wilde. Maybe my daughter could feel tired after a long day at work, and you would decide to be nice with her." She paused voluntarily before adding "Again."

This was it. Nick was about to pass out, he could feel it. This was getting completely out of his control. Fortunately for him, Bonnie was done with her teasing.

"I should probably go, Mr. Wilde. My kids are getting restless and it's time for dinner. Thanks for talking with me."

"Huh, my pleasure?" The doe smiled at the forced but convenient answer. She had made her best to push him and he had at least managed to remain polite through and through. She didn't know him, but that was at least a quality she could appreciate.

"Well, good evening Mr. Wilde. Say bye to my daughter for me, will you?"

"Sure thing, ma'am. Good evening to you too." And she hanged up.

Nick remained motionless for some time, trying not only to process the full implications of Bonnie's words and insinuations, but also how to go and see Judy know that they both knew what had happened. Grow a pair. Finnick's voice made itself heard in his brain, and he shook his head. Better face it now.

And it was on shaky legs that he made his way to the living room, and to the nervous ball of grey fur.


Miles away from the fox, Bonnie was smiling, proud of herself. She had had doubts for months, with how Judy talked about the vulpine during their phone calls. But even before that, she had seen how her daughter had looked at the fox during her speech, the way she was beaming when pinning his badge on his chest, her pause to look at him before saluting. And more importantly, she had seen how HE was looking at her. There was a fondness that spoke louder than any voice in his eyes.

The last piece of the puzzle was Judy's last visit two months ago. She had been so lively, so smiling, so full of joy that even Stu couldn't help but tease her about her previous visit, after the press conference. Judy had avoided the conversation, stating that she didn't want to dwell on her mistake now that things were better. Her husband hadn't made the link and let go, but she had. Her daughter may have felt bad for all predators, but there was one predator in particular she regretted hurting. She was missing him dearly.

And now that she had teased them and saw the very same reaction from both of them, she knew she had been right all along. Even if they didn't know or were too blind or scared to admit it, she knew. Now, she had a new goal. This was probably going to be the hardest task she had and would face in her life.

She would have to warm up her husband about the idea of welcoming a fox in there den, both metaphorically and physically.



Judy watched Nick enter the living room and immediately got up.

"You okay, Nick?" Nick smiled awkwardly, looking behind her and not straight at her, a sign the doe didn't like.

"I guess. She said bye by the way" the fox said, unsure on how to reveal the topic. Judy pated the couch, inviting him to sit, and he did, still averting his gaze.

"Nick, did sh-"

"Relax Carrots, we're fine." Nick cut her short, trying to ease his lover and release a bit of the tension in the room. "Your mother and I just talked, and she was courteous and smiling all the way."

Judy's shoulders slumped and she released a long sigh.

"Pfiou, glad to hear that. I was so nervous when she asked to talk to you." Then she looked at him again. "So, what did you talk about?"

Nick tensed and started laughing awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck, his eyes looking everywhere except at her.

"Hum, I think I owe you apologies."

"Huh?" Judy's brows raised. Apologies? Nick then sighed and finally looked at her.

"Carrots, I'm sorry for playing with your ears."

Judy started thinking. Hard. The fox could see on her serious features that she was doing her best to process the words, though she didn't seem to get to the point. She finally gave up.

"Sorry, Slick, you got me lost there. What are you apologizing for? And why now? What could my mother tell you that makes you think you have to-"

And speaking the question out loud made everything clear to the doe. His gesture in front of the phone, her mother's gasp, her mother's talk with Nick, and his apologies. She felt the blush covering her face and brought her ears over it, hiding behind the long appendages and groaning in embarrassment.

"Oh my god, please tell me she didn't tell you about… THAT!" But Nick's sudden laughter answered her question. She felt him tug gently at her one of her paw. She moved it just enough so she could open one yes, keeping the rest of her face hidden. The fox looked as uneasy as she was, though there was something else in his gaze, something she couldn't decipher.

"Looks like you're definitely the exception, Judy Hopps." The doe's arms dropped and her ears stood straight up. How did she call her? Seeing her dumbfounded, the fox smiled with a bit of mischief. That at least, she could recognize.

"Well, if what your mother told me is right, you're not supposed to be so shy about… THAT!" he said, mimicking her. "Isn't it natural for bunnies to talk about it, with families as big as yours? Your mother didn't seem to mind." Judy gasped, took the closest pillow, and buried her head in it.

On second thoughts, this was not so bad. Nick actually enjoyed seeing his girlfriend so flustered, and his teasing nature was delighted of the opportunity. He leaned over her to whisper in her ear.

"What? Afraid of a little mother/child talk, Carrots? No wonder you were so afraid of following me at the Oasis." Judy elbowed him in the guts, before hitting him with the pillow once, then twice, then again and again.

"How-dare-you-you-dumb-fox". Each word was accompanied by a hit, while the fox was laughing harder and harder, torn between protecting himself from the attacks and clutching at his stomach. Judy finally calmed down, smiling despite the situation. Somehow, there was something that felt good about talking about it with the fox and being able to laugh.

"Laugh while you can, Wilde. I'll get my revenge. Heed my words!" And with that she smacked him one last time for good measure. Nick needed a couple minutes to calm down enough to be able to speak, though his abs were still hurting.

"Sorry Carrots, but your expression was priceless." Judy raised her pillow again, but Nick waved his paws in a pleading manner. She didn't hit him, but didn't lower his pillow. He noticed it and remained on his guard.

"Anyway, Carrots, I didn't know what I was doing was…" He paused, looking for the right word. "Inappropriate. I'm sorry. Truly." Judy finally lowered her pillow and put it in her lap.

"It's ok. I know you meant no harm." Then she blushed again, and hid her face in the pillow again. Nick immediately leaned forward, knowing she was about to mumble something but hoping he would not hear it with the pillow muffling her voice.

"It's not like I wasn't enjoying it." And she slightly turned her head to see if he had heard her, hoping he wouldn't have. She didn't think he would be that close, and with the devilishly handsome smile on his face, she understood that he had heard. And that she would regret it for a veeeeeery long time. Fortunately for her, her stomach growled, and a few seconds later his did too.

"Well," Nick said in a teasing voice, "looks like your knights have come to your rescue and are offering you a way out." Judy jumped out of the couch and ran the kitchen, too happy to have something to distract them.

"Hurry Slick, food's already cold!" Nick smiled and followed her.

Judy was right of course. With the phone talk and their little banter on the couch, the food was cold. They tried to heat it again, but an omelet isn't a dish you can heat several times. It turned out just ok in the end. Fortunately he had prepared a side dish of beans, and they were much better. Judy added a few leaves of salad and a carrot, Nick some bugs, and they finished their meal with slices of blueberry pie, the one Judy had cooked the previous day.


When they were done eating and cleaning, Nick excused himself and went to take a bathroom break, while Judy remained in the kitchen and took the opportunity to send a text to her mother, deactivating the auto-correction.

Mom, what the fuck?

Blunt and to the point, clear enough so that there would be no misunderstanding. Judy liked her text, she felt like her mother had deserved it. She didn't have to wait long before she got an answer.

Language, young lady.

Blunt and to the point, clear enough so that there would be no misunderstanding.

Judy groaned and tugged on her ears, angry not only to be chastised by text, but because she had given her mother the perfect excuse to allude the topic. She waited a bit longer, but it became clear she would not get another text. Groaning again, she replied.

Okay, sorry. wtf, is that better?

No it's not, daughter.

Judy was really getting furious. She couldn't let her mother act like this with Nick and get away with it. Was she trying to make him run away from her? What was the point with her "that's a shame" then? Taking a deep breath, she tried to keep her next texts polite, though she continued cursing through gritted teeth.

J: Fine, I apologize. But seriously, are you insane?

B: I'm surprised he dared tell you.

J: He didn't just tell me, he apologized! Thanks for making my friend and roomie feel bad! Shame and awkwardness for a whole month, really looking forward to it.

B: Did he now? Good to know.

J: What is that supposed to mean?

B: Just what it says.

J: I don't know what kind of game you're playing, but it's definitely not funny! You better apologize to him and fast!

B: I have nothing to apologize for. You should even thank me.

J: What? For trying to make my friend and partner run away? Sure, that's definitely what I want!

B: This is pointless. You don't see I'm helping you. Talk to you later, when you're calm.

J: Helping me? Stop mocking me, mother, or there won't be a later.

Judy waited one minute, then two, but still didn't receive an answer. She sighed, thinking her mother had put an end to their little chat. A small ding proved her wrong another minute later.

B: Fine. He apologized is what you said?

J: Yes.

B: Despite the obviously touchy and embarrassing topic?

J: Yes.

B: Despite he addressed it with me, your mother?

J: Again, yes. So what?

B: Despite the fact you've known him for less than two years, with nearly one apart?

J: Hugh. Can't you just state your point?

B: What does it tell you about the way he thinks of you? How he sees you?

Judy stared at her phone, reading the last text again and again, the words sinking deeper each time. How he sees me, she thought. She knew he loved her, he had told her and many of his previous actions and words proved it. But her mother was right.

Nick could have lied, claimed it was small talk to make sure he was going to be a good roomie and provide for her for example. Or he could have avoided the topic, like it was some kind of secret he had promised to keep. It could have been easy for him to come up with something.

Still he hadn't. He had chosen to swallow his embarrassment and his pride, and to apologize. This was beyond anything anyone had ever done for her. So far beyond that without her mother she would never have caught the depth of his gesture. It left her breathless and teary. She couldn't believe she had managed to find such a caring and marvelous mammal.

Sorry mom. Thank you. Call you later.

That last text sent, she went to the living room. Nick was watching TV, zapping between channels trying to find something interesting, or at least not too boring. Seeing her come closer, he smiled at her, but raised his brows.

"You okay there, Carrots? You've been there for quite some time."

But Judy didn't answer. There was no word worth saying. She simply crawled in his lap and brought her lips on his for a long and loving kiss, before nuzzling his neck and staying like this till she fell asleep.



The following days were pretty uneventful. Still no calls from Bogo, no breakthroughs in finding a cure. The city was showing why it was one of the most glorious city in the world, with mammals respecting the health recommendations willingly, making Mrs. Satiana, Zootopia's mayor, proud of them, and a certain bunny bored.

In was early in the morning. Nick was just getting up, stretching and yawning, slowly emerging from the comfort of his bed. As usual, Judy was already up. Except that she wasn't waiting for him in the kitchen. She was standing in front of the window of the living room, looking at the empty streets, bathed in the pale light of the rising sun. It looked so peaceful with no mammals roaming the streets, no car engines humming, no shouts or laughs.

It was as soothing as it was depressing.

The city had always called to the doe, ever since she was a kit. Every day there was something new to see or learn, someone to talk to, help and smile with. There was nothing that could satisfy her curiosity for long. While she thoroughly enjoyed a brand new side of life with her fox, a part of her already missed the outside world. Worst of all, the cop part of her felt useless. Powerless.

Who would need her, in times like these? How could she make the world a better place when faced with an enemy invisible to the eye, so close yet out of reach?

When the fox entered the living room, he found his bunny staring dreamily outside and his heart soared. She was so stunningly beautiful like this, the sunrays illuminating her light smile, capturing her gracious features and reflecting on her lavender eyes, making them sparkle.

Reaching for his phone, he took a picture of her, though the result looked dull compared to the real thing. He remained there, enjoying the view, until she sighed and put her paw on the window, shoulders slumped and ears droopy. His heart soared again, but not in a good way this time.

Seeing and hearing her sadness was a blow to the fox. Something primal awoke, a feeling he had never experienced in his life before, an uncontrollable urge to make his lover happy again, whatever the cost. An old idea popped in his mind, one he had forgotten about. Could he be that lucky? Checking his phone, surfing the web and finally finding what he was looking for, he realized he was.

Months ago, he came up with an idea that would require a perfect timing. After long nights searching the web and subscribing to different websites, he finally learnt that it could actually work, but had to wait. Time flew by, and he had forgotten. And with a luck that scared him a bit, he could make it work this week. He had three days to prepare.

So, for two days he did his best to keep her busy. His best idea was to set up a workout session in the afternoon. It helped them get some pressure out, but he also feigned breathing hard at the end. And of course, the doe laughed, called him grandpa and rusty again, and insisted that she would be the one preparing the sessions from now on, not knowing he was hustling her all along.


On the third day, at the end of their workout session, Nick took advantage of the bunny taking her shower to prepare sandwiches, bottles of juice and water, cookies and napkins. His surprise was for tonight, and he had to be quick if he didn't want Judy to notice something was up.

Later in the evening, showered and dried, Nick opened his closet, took his biggest backpack and filled it with stuff he would need, then went to the kitchen to gather the food he had prepared, and finally to the main door of his apartment to get their coats. The bunny was busy surfing on her phone, she didn't hear him come closer, and realized he was there only when he put the coat on her shoulders.

"Huh? Nick, what are you doing?" Looking at the coat, then at Nick's vest and the bag on his back, she smiled timidly. "Slick, you know we're not supposed to get out."

"The key word being supposed. Come on, I know a place where no one will see us." She seemed to hesitate. It was clear to her that the fox had noticed her mood darken recently and was trying to act nice. She felt bad for it.

"Nick, you don't need to do that. I don't want you to get in trouble because of me." But Nick just shrugged the comment away.

"I don't need to, I want to. And for trouble, I've spent twenty years avoiding them, I think I know my way around." And he winked at her with a huge smile.

How could she resist her fox? With her smile of her own, she put the coat on and jumped out of the couch. Nick grabbed the keys, opened the door for his bunny, then closed it behind him.

Taking her paw in his, he started leading her. Judy didn't comment, but the simple gesture and the lack of hesitation the fox had shown was enough to make all her previous dark thoughts vanished, replaced by a warmth in her chest. She followed him outside and took a long and deep breath. Strangely, being outside was nothing like simply opening a window.

The fox took her through alleys she didn't know exist, his eyes darting right and left regularly, making sure no one was around before crossing streets, and keeping to the wall as much as he could without letting go of her paw. Worst case scenario was being caught by a police patrol. Some of their colleagues would surely leave them be with a few jokes and grins, like Wolfard, but some could be more strict. And if Bogo was to learn about it…

Judy wasn't aware of the fox's thoughts or awareness. She was outside, walking paw in paw with her fox, breaking the rules and going out on some kind of adventure with him. In her head, nothing could go wrong. And she was right. They stumbled upon a few mammals, but a few nods and smiles were enough to make sure none of them would call the police. The containment was weighing heavily on a lot of them after all, and it was no surprise that others would be out too.

After nearly forty minutes, Judy began looking around her, as the few abandoned buildings seemed somewhat familiar. She couldn't say why, but she felt like she already been there before. Still, the fox was leading her without flinching, and she trusted him, so she just followed. Only when they reached a derelict stony bridge did she realize where Nick had led her.

She was surprised to be there. She had thought the fox would be done with this place. That he would try to avoid it at all cost now that he had a real home. That it would bring to many dark memories to him.

"Nick, that's… Why did you bring me here?" Nick smiled at her, the huge, warm and loving smile he couldn't hide when he was with her.

"Why wouldn't I? This place is special after all."

They crossed the bridge, before walking down the slope that led them to the gravel path underneath. The fox let go of Judy's paw to put the backpack down. Opening it, he produced a blanket and unfolded it, setting it on the ground and inviting the bunny to sit. Then he retrieved the food, drinks and snacks and set them down. Finally, he produced a candles and a lighter and lighted them, disposing some between the two and some on the edges of the blanket. They were useless as the evening was young, but it was symbolic.

She hadn't seen it coming. Even with sandwiches and candles for show, she was loving it. Nick had worked to surprise and please her, and she felt her love strengthen for the wonderful fox in front of her. Then, the fox retrieved two plastic flutes and a bottle of sparkling apple juice. She nearly destroyed all the careful setting when she began to laugh uncontrollably and nearly roll on the floor.

"What?" the fox said, smiling from one ear to the other. "You wanted real champagne and crystal flutes? I don't mind but I'm not sure they'd appreciate the forty minute walk in the bag." Judy calmed down, then got up and went to kiss her fox, taking his head in her paws and caressing his cheeks.

"It's perfect as it is. Thank you Nick" she said after breaking the kiss.

"Nothing's too good for you, my love" he replied tenderly. Judy felt the shiver ran down her spine. Her fox had been using this new nickname for a couple days now, but still every time it made her feel giddy and warm. The two of them then sat in front of the other and started eating, chatting lightly and laughing a lot.

When they were done, Nick took out a pillow and a plaid from the bag. They didn't need the plaid for now, so he didn't unfold it, simply putting it within reach. Then he lied down on the pillow and opened his arms. Judy didn't wait a whole second before joining him, and the two cuddled for a while.


However, something was bothering the doe. She was a bit scared to ask and disturb their moment, but she needed to know. And when she wanted something…

"Nick?" she asked in a low voice.

"Hum?" he replied, eyes still closed.

"Thank you for this little picnic. I needed it."

"You don't say" he said, grinning. Judy elbowed him.

"Dumb fox. Still, don't get me wrong, I loved it but…"

"But?" he said, raising his brows and opening his eyes.

"Why here? Isn't this place a bit… you know?" The fox motioned for her to get up and she sit crossed legs. The fox did the same and faced her.

"Dark and sad? Bringing back painful memories?" The doe nodded, fearing she might have ruined the evening for good. But the fox did something she wasn't expecting. He smiled and chuckled.

"That's not completely untrue. But you're forgetting something, my dear Carrots." Judy looked at him questioningly. Seeing her incomprehension, he got up, went to kneel behind her, then hugged her, taking a deep sniff at the back of neck before nuzzling her, cheek to cheek.

"This is also the place where you changed my life, Judy. This is where you came back to me. And that means more than all the previous twenty years put together."

Hearing the words brought a tear to the bunny's eye. She tilted her head and placed a tender kiss on his muzzle. Then he tilted his head too and the kiss switched from tender to loving. She broke the kiss after a few seconds and just rested her forehead on his, enjoying his presence and his warmth around her body.

Until a new thought came to bother her. Something that made her stiffen and the fox felt it. He began laughing, though it sounded forced.

"Come on, Carrots! Can't enjoy a simple moment with your foxy boyfriend?"

Judy bowed her head, shameful of her behavior. Why couldn't she just be happy? Why was her brain surfacing dark thought after dark thought? She didn't know, and she really wanted to get rid of those, but she couldn't fight her very nature.

"Sorry, Nick. I don't know why I keep asking myself questions." Feeling her distress, the fox nuzzled her again.

"It's okay. Just ask away. If it helps get rid of them, I'll be glad to answer. You know I won't hide anything from you anymore."

Judy felt all the more bad for what she was about to ask. But Nick was right. Only by getting her answers could she move on.

"Nick, do you still see Finnick?"


Nick didn't answer at first, taken aback by the question.

"Of course I do. He may look and sound distant and grumpy, but he's a real friend. He actually helped me a lot recently."

"Not… like this. I mean, do you still… hang out with him? Like you used to?"

This time Nick was hurt, and a bit mad. He let go of her and stood straight.

"Am I still hustling, is that what you're asking me? Seriously?" Judy quickly stood up too, looking at him with pleading eyes.

"Nick, please don't be like that. I know it sounds weird, but…" She turned around and waved her paws in a circling motion, pointing to the bridge and the nothingness around.

"It's been less than two years, Nick. Two years since you left this place. You don't get paid in the academy, and it lasted six months! And even after, I know the salary isn't that high, I have the same. Still, you've got a nice and spacious apartment, a couch, a TV, a fully-equipped kitchen, internet, stuff in your closets…"

She turned to face him, and his saddened eyes sent daggers through her heart. It was too late to back down though.

"If you really just survived back then and had no savings, I can't help but wonder how you do it. I'm sorry, you know I trust you, but I need to know."

The sadness left his eyes and he smiled timidly, sitting with her legs sprayed apart and motioning for her to come. She did and rested her back against his chest, while his arms surrounded her once again. He took another sniff of her, before sighing deeply.

"Sorry Carrots. I should have let you finish before getting mad."

"I'm the one who should apologize, Nick. You know I love you. I don't want to hurt you." Hearing the words helped him gather the strength to explain.

"I promised I would be honest, didn't I?" he asked, his voice low and a bit shaking. Judy simply nodded, not wanting to interrupt him.

"I…hum, in a way, I might still be hustling mammals a bit. Kind of."

Judy's heart sank. After everything he had said to her, these words were poison in her veins. But he didn't let her dwell on it.

"Don't get me wrong, Carrots, I'm not doing anything illegal. And I'm not talking about a fake permit or things like this. It's just a bit… well let's just say I found another way to put my skills to the test."

Getting no answer from the doe in his arms, he sighed and pressed on.

"I play poker." This got her ears to stand straight on her head and turn her head to try and face him.

"You WHAT?" He tried to smile, but couldn't help but gulp under her gaze.

"I-… hum, I play poker from times to times. In clubs. Since I became a cop, things are a bit easier for us foxes. I'm now accepted in places I couldn't set a foot before. One day I was hanging with Finnick and we went to a sports bar to have a beer or two and just enjoy a match, whatever would be on air. There were guys playing poker, and I was studying them. All weasels, the four of them. They noticed I was staring and called to me. Asked if I wanted to play."

Judy was looking at him with big round eyes.

"You accepted to play poker with a bunch of weasels in a sports bar? Tell me you're joking." But Nick shook his head.

"I'm not. I knew there was something fishy, but I had Fin by my side and I wanted to play a bit. See if I had it in me. We played for free and they let me win. They then offered to add some cash to make the game more interesting. Lost the first rounds of course, before we finally understood how they were cheating."

Judy saw the hint of mischief that entered his eyes.

"Was rather easy to win afterwards. Those guys were so angry to see their little scam wasn't working anymore that they insisted to play again. And again. And again. For two hours. I knew a guy once who told me perseverance is a quality, even if you're being stupid. Never agreed more than that day."

He turned to face her with a huge grin on his face.

"Bought my TV the very next day. When Fin saw it, he was laughing so hard he dropped his beer and spilled half of it on my floor. Asked me if I was up for some more, and I said why not. So, sometimes he sends me a text telling me there's a game night where I won't risk being stabbed in the back, and I go make a few bucks. He gets his share of course."

"How often?" Judy's question was legitimate, so he answered honestly once again.

"Twice a month, sometimes thrice, since I came back from the academy. Each time I could buy myself a new toy."

"And those guys accept to play with a fox? A cop no less?" Nick laughed. A lot.

"Oh my dear naive bunny. Of course they don't know I'm a cop! I said the city knows about a fox cop, not that mammals recognize me wherever I go. And for the first question, it's Fin who finds the games, remember? He knows how to avoid really shady places, but still the mammals we play with aren't exactly first class citizens. Most of them are foxes, weasels, hyenas, or such. And when I say clubs, I don't mean fancy casinos."

Judy was speechless. A part of her wanted to shout, to tell him to stop immediately, that he was wrong to use his skills at reading mammals to take their cash. Yet, he was right. Money games were not illegal, and those mammals knew they could lose a lot. It was their choice, Nick just happened to be better. She couldn't help being impressed by him. To buy all of this, he had to be really good, and she caught herself wanting to attend one those nights and see him in his element.

"You're not mad at me?"

The question helped her get out of her reverie. Could she be mad at him for finding an honest way to improve his living, after everything he had been through? The answer was obvious.

"No. No I'm not. A bit surprised that you would take risks with money now that you have some, but not mad. Impressed, if I'm being honest." Then, with a devious smile, she turned and reached a paw over his shoulder to scratch his back, just under the scruff of his neck, speaking in a teasing voice.

"Who's a sly foxy? You're a sly foxy. Yes you are."

Nick wanted to get angry. Or to come back with a witty comment. Or to pout. Anything to get back at the doe for treating him this way.

Yet, all he could do was stay and enjoy her ministrations, like a good foxy pet, his tail wagging madly behind him. So he closed his eyes and simply enjoyed the feel. He felt Judy move closer and put her head to his chest. He couldn't see it, but the doe was listening with eyes wide open. And it wasn't his heart she was listening to.


The fox didn't answer, he just hummed in reply.

"Are you… purring?"

That did the trick. Nick suddenly opened his eyes and jumped to his feet, making the bunny fall on her rump.

"What? No, of course not! Foxes don't purr, we're not felines. Ah ah. What a strange idea."

The bunny got up and brushed her clothes to get rid of the dust. She didn't really appreciate being dumped like this, but her discovery was worth a little dirt on her clothes. And the fearful expression on her lover's face, so close to a kit caught the paw in the cookie jar, was definitely the blueberry on the cake.

Nick was looking at the sky, trying to get rid of the blush he felt coloring his cheeks, once again glad to be born with red fur. That's when he heard a click. Lowering his head, he saw Judy that had tiptoed closer and snapped a picture of him. She looked really proud of herself.

"Got it! It's going straight to the "Nick funny faces" folder!"

"Hum. Carrots? The what?" Judy looked at him and put the phone back in her pocket, feigning ignorance.

"The what what, Slick?"

"Carrots?" he repeated, looking at her, half smiling, half grinning.

"Slick?" she replied, crossing her arms on her chest, not hiding her smile at all.

Nick took a step forward.

"Judy, my love. Can I see that phone?" he asked, reaching with one arm, paw turned to the sky.

Judy took a step back.

"Nick, sweetheart. Anything in particular you wanna see?" she answered, paws landing on her hips.

For each step the fox took, he was followed by the bunny stepping back, keeping the distance between them the same. After a dozen steps, he stopped and crouched, looking straight at her. Unflinching. Uncompromising. Eyes narrowing. Nostrils flaring.

The bunny gulped and mirrored his action, never breaking eye contact. Her blood was boiling in her veins, her heart pumping adrenaline to her brain and heightening her senses. For the first time in her life, her instincts took control. She was face to face with a predator. Cunning, hungry. Relentless. A single mistake and she would be done for.

So she crouched and waited for the right moment. Trying to create a diversion, she took a quick look to the fox's left, and saw the fox follow her gaze. She didn't need more. In a flash, she turned her back, pushed as hard as she could on her thighs, and was off in a sprint. Paws beating the gravels echoed behind her.

The prey had been sighted and identified.

The hound had been released.

The hunt was on.


If anyone had been there, they would have called the cops, screaming in horror. A grey rabbit was sprinting as fast as she could, breathing heavily, chased by a red fox, growling and panting. Even evolved, some traits had not been lost. In a straight line, the fox was quicker, especially on all fours, and he was slowly but surely closing the distance.

But rabbits were not defenseless. With a powerful jump, the doe caught one of the branches above her head, using the momentum to do a backflip and launch herself in the opposite direction. She flew above the fox, who was too slow to react, taken completely by surprise.

He tried to change his course, but his own momentum made him slide on the ground, his paw pads close to overheating under the effort. When he finally managed to stop and take off in the right direction, he was already far behind his prey. Letting out a loud snarl and seeing her turn her head, he resumed his chase with a vicious smile.

The doe was proud of herself. Her trick had worked perfectly. She knew all too well that she couldn't outrun him. Agility was her only chance, and it had worked like a charm. She was about to allow herself to smile when she heard the snarl behind her. Turning her head, she saw his tongue sticking out of his muzzle, right between his drool-dripping fangs. With renewed vigor, she focused on the bridge in front of her. One of her numbered chances to escape. She knew she'd had to make it count.

When she reached the bridge, she was started to hear her chaser again, meaning he was already closing in on her. So she didn't hesitate. She went straight under the bridge, crossed the distance that separated her from the outside light, and took a violent turn right, up the slope.

Seeing her change direction, the fox's smile grew. Her effort were futile. She was done. Cutting immediately on his right before the bridge, he climbed the slope in two powerful jumps, and found himself on the main path, reading to pounce on the poor bunny. Except when he was ready for the catch, he found himself alone. There was no one up the slope. Turning his head right and left, he saw nothing, until he focused on the side of the bridge.

There was a long and flat trace leading to a small pile of dirt. Raising his head and sniffing the air, his nose confirmed his suspicion. The rabbit never made it up the slope. She used the cover of the stones to stop her course, sliding in the dirt like he had minutes ago on the gravels, leaving behind her print, before running in his back. He had been tricked twice in five minutes.

Still she couldn't be too far, and from there he could see no one on the path. Lowering himself to the ground, he made his way under the bridge, trying to catch her scent in the air with long and deep sniffs. It would only need one lead… There! Lavender moisturizing cream and sweat mixed with his own scent. And with it, a sweet yet spicy scent, undeniably feminine, and all too appealing. Rabbit. His rabbit!

He followed the scent. She had indeed climbed the slope behind him, but immediately hidden herself in the bushes. Never stopping sniffing the air, he tracked his prey, foot after foot. Clever little creature, trying to lose him in the wilderness.

Smart, but useless.

The track led him to the side of the old and rusty warehouse the bridge led to. There, in the sand bordering the derelict building he found her tracks, and followed them to a side door that had been opened recently, if the amount of dust still floating in the air was any proof. He tried to keep her track, but couldn't.

Inside the warehouse were too many strong odors. Rust, bird poo, old oil from long forgotten machinery, foam and mushrooms. Entering the building through the same door, the fox took a look at his surroundings.

In the front of the warehouse, just in front of the main doors, stood a large combine, looking as rusty as the building itself, covered with vegetation and foam. All around were piles of wood from what he guessed must have been crates, their content scattered to the winds, if not plundered years ago.

Five conveyors were lined in front of the imposing machine and reached the other side of the building, each of them ending at the base of a big robotic arm. The five arms, like tentacles sprouting from the very earth, were all hanging poorly, their power source cut long ago.

The entire building reeked of time passed and stillness, as well as nature taking its rightful place, caring little of mammal's creations and arrogance. Seemingly the perfect place to hide, if not for one small but oh-so important detail.

Such places were deafening by the eerie silence they were surrounded by. A silence that any little noise, as benign as it could sound, disturbed and echoed in like rolling thunder.

Such a sound reached the fox's ears, and he immediately lowered himself to the ground, eyes focusing on the direction the sound was coming from. And amongst the fake peace of the ghost warehouse, he saw it. A shadow moving behind a stack of crates, on the left side of the main doors.

Surely the giant doors could not be opened manually by any living mammal, and his prey was no exception. Looking at the ceiling, he noticed the giant mechanisms that used to open the door when electrically activated. Following the cables, his eyes locked on a control panel, fixed to the metal wall. And next to the panel was a double door with two handles, one for big mammals and one for small to medium mammals, both half opened, barely supported by their hinges.

The shadow was getting closer to the door, and the owner should follow soon. Looking to his left the fox saw one of the main metal poles keeping the structure stable, and it gave him an idea. Unsheathing a claw, he racked it on the pole once, a single scratch that resonated through the entire building. The shadow reclined and disappeared in the darkest corner of the building.

The fox exited the building by the same door he had entered. Looking up, he went to the front of the building and saw the metallic porch above them. With a graceful jump and the help of the gutter, he hauled himself, before crouching, ready to pounce. The prey was his now.


Inside the building, a heart was jackhammering inside a ribcage. The mammal it belonged to was trying in vain to calm herself, fearful her body would betray her position. It had been hard to crawl in the bushes and tall grass outside the building, but she had managed somehow. She had tricked the hunter twice, but her luck would not last forever.

Peeking through a broken window, she saw the fox sniffing the air and following her every step, bush after bush. Her breath caught in her throat. He was coming quickly, and would be on her in moments if she didn't find something. Looking around, she saw all the machinery inside the building, but most of it was too exposed. The combiner could be a nice hideout, but if the fox decided to take a look inside she would be stuck.

She had underestimated him, and she was about to pay the price. Then she turned a saw a stack of crates on the side of the building. Embracing the relative safety of the shadows, she ducked and hid behind. There, her vision set on the open double door and hope flared. If she could get to it without a sound, she could be out and running before he could only notice she had left.

The thought stopped her in her tracks. She might have forgotten something to begin with. Running was definitely a good idea, but thinking of a place to run to would have been a better one.

Now that she thought of it, she had absolutely no idea what to do. She could escape the predator, but for how long? And then what? A part of her brain reconnected, and her paw landed on her pocket, feeling the phone still inside.

Now that she was aware again, she felt stupid. On seeing his smile she had understood he was about to try and pry the phone from her paw. She hadn't thought it would escalate to a full-scale chase in the wilderness of an abandoned land she wasn't familiar with. She wondered what to do when another part of her was screaming. And it was hard to deny it.

The thrill of the hunt, the adrenaline rushing in her veins, the cognitive part of her brain put to sleep and her instincts taking control, the wind and leaves on her fur, the gravel and dust under her feet. She had never felt so alive before. And if there was one thing she was sure of right now, it was that she didn't want it to stop. She had to keep what little advantage she had and keep going no matter what. Looking at the door, she knew what she had to do.

The sound of a claw on something metallic made her jump back and duck, her heart accelerating again, the thrill taking over. He was inside. He was close. Looking around, she saw planks, chemical buckets, and cans. An idea crossed her mind, and she smiled. Close didn't mean he had her yet.

Not seeing the fox, she took one of the can, and threw it as hard as she could between the combiner and the main doors. The can flew and nearly reached the other wall, rolling on the ground with metallic clinks.

Using the diversion, she forced her small frame through the door, barely touching it and making no sound that could be heard above the ruckus she had created before her escape. Keeping low, she tried to listen if the fox had caught the bait, but she couldn't hear him. She started moving, but stopped after two steps.

A drop of water crashed in the middle of her back. Her fur stood on edge, and her vision blurred under the sudden rush of blood that flooded her brain as realization dawned on her. There was no cloud in the sky. It couldn't be rain. Looking at the ground, she saw the shadow of the hunter looming above her.


Slowly, very slowly, she turned her head. The only thing she managed to see was a blur of red, before she felt something knock her down. She rolled with what had impacted her, and ended on her back, her arms crossed on her belly, with two rows of sharp teeth and four prominent fangs towering above her chin. Another drop of drool fell and landed on her chin, as the predator slowly licked his chops and leaned closer.

She tried to move, but his whole body was slumped on her, his weight keeping her still. His paws were keeping her arms close to her chest, applying just enough pressure not to hurt her. His breathing was as slow and regular as his heartbeat, and she could feel both on her chest. While she was still trying to calm her heart, the predator was cool and collected. No wonder she had lost the chase.

His breath was hot on her face and made her fur stand on edge. His fangs dripping with drool made her throat clutch and cut all opportunity at speaking or breathing. The growl that escaped his muzzle sent a shiver down her spine. But the worst part was his eyes. Two burning emeralds were staring at her, reaching deep inside her soul with a hunger that set her whole body on fire.

He lowered his head and took a deep and long sniff, before growling.


Judy whined and shook her head, before staring straight at him.


The fox froze, his deadpan expression making the bunny chuckle. He shook his head.

"Okay, okay hold on a sec." Then he cleared his throat and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.

With a loud roar, he snapped his jaw close to the bunny's nose, his head forming a near perfect right-angled corner with hers, his eyes staring harshly inside hers.

"Mine" he snarled, leaning so close front teeth grazed her fur.

Judy frowned, then looked at him with a smug smile.


Nick groaned and shook his head.

"Okay, okay. I got this, I got this." He cleared his throat four times, and Judy closed her eyes, expecting a much heavier growl and more saliva splashing her. When nothing happened she opened just one eye, and couldn't help but coo.

Her fox was looking at her with big round eyes, his head resting on her paws, tilted to the side.

"Mine?" he asked in a small and innocent voice, like a small kit asking for candies and trying to guilt his parents.

"Oooooo you're so cute. Come here." His tail wagging behind him, the fox freed one of her paw and rested his next to her head, removing some of his weight from her. She used her now free paw to tug at his tie and bring him closer until their lips connected in a sweet kiss that lasted for several seconds. She broke the kiss and nuzzled him, before lowering his head so that she could reach his ear, where she could finally whisper her answer.

"Still nope."

She tried to quickly wiggle her way out of under him, but the fox wasn't really satisfied with her answer. After a moment of wrestling, he was back above her, pinning her under his weight again.

"Let's try one last time, Carrots" Nick said in a smooth and smug voice. "Mine?" His smile told the bunny he had something in the back of his mind, but Judy was having too much fun to stop now.

"Let's try one last time, Slick" she mimicked him. "Nope."

As soon as the words escaped her lips, the fox licked her face. A long, slow and wet lick that dampened and left a long darker mark in her fur. Judy tried to escape and turned her head, but doing so she just opened the way to her neck. Jumping on the occasion, Nick gave it a quick lick. Then, without warning, he licked her again, straight on the nose.

"Nick, stop that. What are you doing?"

"Well, I caught my prey, and she's being a mean bunny. So I'm teaching her not to mess with a fox."

And for several minutes, which strangely seemed longer to the bunny that to the fox, Nick licked Judy's cheeks, nose, chin, forehead and neck, depending on the way she was moving her head and trying to escape him. The more she begged for him to stop, the more he enjoyed it and the more he continued.

When he finally agreed to let her go, he rose to his feet, and good prince, offered his paw. She looked at it, and with a smile tried to bite it. He managed to take it back and hide it behind his back, pointing a finger with his second paw.

"Careful, now. One could think you didn't learn your lesson." Judy turned her back and crossed her arms on her chest, pouting.

"Well, I'll be on the blanket when you're done being a sore loser, Carrots." Nick joked, before walking away.

In truth, Judy was not feeling well. Or maybe too well. It was actually hard for the doe to tell which one was closest to the truth. Between the chase, the crushing weight she had felt when pinned under him, and the rather weird but still sweet licks that had followed, she was forcing herself not to shake from head to toe. After several long and deep breaths, she managed to calm herself, and joined Nick.


The fox was lying on the blanket, resting on his elbows, surrounded by the candles that were already a third shorter than their initial size. He looked at the bunny walking towards him with a huge smile.

"Hey Carrots."

"Hey." She sit on the blanket, cross-legged and stared at the candles, one by one.

"You could make an effort and groom yourself. Have you seen your face?"

The bunny stared at him with a knowing look, but she couldn't be mad at him. She just sighed and went to lean on him, one arm surrounding him while her head found its place on his chest.

"I must say," the fox started, "I had a ball. Too bad it was so easy."

The fox should have thought twice before saying it. His bunny had an arm wrapped around him after all, and she took advantage of it to pinch him several times on his side, close to his ribs.

"Hey! Ouch! Carrots, just kidOUCH! Okay, okay, I take that back!" The bunny stopped and nuzzled his chest, proud of herself.

"Clever bunny."

"Dumb fox."

"Mine?" This time, the word had been spoken with a tenderness and a softness that he had never let show until the previous week, and it warmed her. She didn't need to think about your answer, strengthening her hug.


She felt his heartbeat accelerate at the words and smiled. They remained like this for a long time, with only Nick lying fully on his back when his elbows were getting painful. He seized the opportunity to bring his arm around the shoulders of his bunny who was slowly dozing off. Night was young, but the first stars became visible in the darkening sky. Nick smiled. It was nearly time for his final surprise.

A dozen or so minutes later, he caught the first one and his smile grew.

"Carrots?" Judy hummed as a reply.

"There's something else I have to tell you." This got the bunny to react. Her ears twitched, then she sit, looking at him with big round eyes, and a hint of worry.

"Relax, Carrots." He then sit close to her. "I had two surprises for you today. The picnic was one. And theeeeeeeeeeeeeere's…" He pointed at the sky with his paw. One minute. Two. Five. Ten. And groaned.

"Of course. Thanks, universe!" he shouted to the heavens, his arm now hanging alongside his body.

Next to him, Judy was completely lost. She had been waiting for ten minutes, her eyes darting between the sky, the fox, and her surroundings, waiting patiently for the surprise. And god knew patience wasn't her best quality.

"Hum, Nick? You okay?" Nick let out a bittersweet laugh, still staring at the sky.

"And there goes my surprise. I knew it was a long shot, but still."

Then, something white and flashy left a long trail in the sky above his head, before vanishing a couple seconds later. Nick wasn't looking in the right direction, but Judy was.

"Nick, look!" He turned his head, but saw nothing. They kept looking, tilting their heads right and left, until finally, they both saw one. A white moving light that illuminated briefly the black sky, even amongst all the other lights. A few minutes later, they saw another one, then another.

For a whole hour, they remained there, paw in paw, catching as many shooting stars as they could and, as was tradition, making a wish each and every time. When it seemed they wouldn't see more, the bunny punched her fox on his shoulder.

"How did you know? Did you really prepare all of this?" The fox was massaging his shoulder, a sly smile on the face.

"Well, duh! Of course the picnic prepared itself of its own accord, and it's a huuuuuuge coincidence that I happen to bring you here, far from the city lights, on the day a comet was supposed to come close enough to Earth to increase the chance to see shooting stars with the rocks she carried in her wake, which may not occur again before decades. How could have I prepared that seven months ago?"

Judy beamed at him, and a single tear escaped her eye. Then with a glint of mischief she got up and looked at him with half-lided eyes, her arms crossed behind her back.

"Soooooooo. Did you make a wish?" The fox laughed and used his paw to cover her face.

"Carrots, I'm not talking." But Judy's curiosity was piqued and would not be left unquenched.

"Pleeeeeaaaaaase?" she said in a fake sad voice, trying to remove the paw from her face and force him to look at her now sad puppy eyes. "To make your love happy?"

"Wow! That's a low blow, Carrots, and you know it. And stop with these eyes, it's cheating!" Judy feigned pouting, her foot thumping the ground repeatedly.


The fox kneeled in front of her and cupped her cheeks with his paw, brushing gently the fur with his thumb, cutting her act short. He then leaned and kissed her on the forehead, then the nose, then the lips. He broke the kiss after a few seconds and whispered.

"You know what they say about saying your wish out loud. I'm not taking that risk."

For the hundredth time this week, she felt her heart melt. This new side of her fox she had dug up was just too perfect to be true. But right now, she couldn't care less. She brought him in another long and slow kiss, simply enjoying the night.

Another hour later, the night was becoming a bit cold, and the two mammals decided it was time to go home. Nick put everything in the backpack, but stopped before putting it on his back.

"Hum, Carrots? Can you go first? There's one last thing I'd like to do. I'm just behind you, I swear."

The bunny looked perplexed, but accepted anyway. She trusted him of course, and with that excellent evening he had deserved a few minutes for himself if he needed. So she climbed the slope and crossed the bridge without looking back, stopping a bit further to wait for him. Nick joined her not long after, a strange smile on his face.

"You okay there, Slick?" He looked at her, kneeled and brought her in a crushing hug, murmuring in her ear.

"Never better."

The duo then made their way back to his apartment, not meeting anyone on their way.

Unbeknownst to the bunny or anyone else, under the stone bridge, now stood an empty carton box.




The fox jumped out of his bed, fear awakening him in less than a second at the scream. Running straight to the living room, he found Judy lying on the couch, or at least he could see her head resting on the armrest, looking his way.

"Judy, what is it? What's happening?"

The bunny smiled and winked at her fox.

"Nothing. Just missing you."

The fox remained still, wearing nothing but his boxers, staring at the bunny who kept eyeing him with a satisfied grin on her face. Then his brain finally caught up and he groaned, turned around and went back to his bedroom, not even caring to check the time, and slammed the door behind him, followed by the laugh of the one he was supposed to love and be loved by.



Nick was watching TV while Judy was reading, both on one side of the couch, their feet entangled.

"Sweetheart, I'm thirsty." The fox smiled.

"You know where the fridge is, my love." She pouted.



"Pretty please?"


"For a kiss?"

"Better, but still nope."

"For three kisses?" The fox looked at her, seeing the fake tears in the corner of her eyes, and yielded.

"Okay, okay. Stop with the face, already." Judy beamed at him.

"Carrot soda please. Thanks, Slick."

"Yeah, yeah. Don't forget you owe me three kisses."

The fox got up and walked to the kitchen. He opened the fridge and took the first can he saw in front of him. He was about to go back, when he heard her call.

"Slick, can I have a glass please? I'll make it four kisses." Nick sighed, but he knew he couldn't refuse his bunny. So he opened the cupboard and took a glass.

"I suppose you want the glass already full when I come back?" he called, knowing full well what the answer would be.

"Want a fifth kiss?"

Looking up, Nick saw that Judy was watching him intently. He didn't mind of course, but it was… strange. Usually she let her eyes wander, there she was really focused. He knew what it meant. It was a ruse, she wanted him out of the living room to prepare for another prank.

Nice try Carrots, but you won't fool me again, he thought, opening the can… and receiving half the soda straight in the face when it gushed out. Okay, she won't fool me again, starting now.



"Pfiou, that was a nice session, heh Slick?"

Nick was still lying on the ground, trying to catch his breath after the intensive workout session his bunny had cooked for him.

"Four hours, Carrots." he replied, panting, and waving two digits at her. "That's two too much."

"Come on, grandpa. It means you need it. Now, what do you say to your love for taking care of you, hmmmmm?"

"Go shower and don't come back" he half growled, still trying to compose himself.

The bunny only laughed and exited the room, heading for the bathroom. As soon as the door closed, the fox was up and ran to the kitchen, reaching the sink. He set the water on hottest, then waited. It didn't take long for the sound of water to reach his ears. He waited two minutes to be sure, then opened the tap, counting out loud.


And a loud "yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep" echoed through the apartment, coming from the bathroom where a suddenly very cold bunny jumped out of the tub, splashing the room.

The fox then turned the water on cold and drank a tall glass of water, satisfied of his afternoon.



The doorbell rang. This took the two of them by surprise, as they weren't expecting anyone, and hadn't heard it ring since the beginning of the curfew. Judy got out of her living pillow and went to the door. When she opened it, there was nobody. Looking left then right, she saw a bunch of kids running. Kids be kids, no matter what, huh, she thought. Then a devious smile formed on her lips.

"Thank you very much. Good luck!" she said jovially, then closed the door.

"Carrots? Who was it?"

"Looks like the post office is back on track. It's a package from home. Wait." She paused for show. "Slick, why is my mom sending a package to you?"

"BLUEBERRIES!" She saw the fox exit the living room on all fours, his tail wagging madly behind him. When he arrived he got up and looked at her paws.

"Carrots? Where is the package?"

Judy shrugged, feigning ignorance.

"What package, sweetheart?" And with a gentle tap on his muzzle, she went back to the living room, leaving behind a very disappointed and frustrated fox.



"Et voila!*" the fox nearly sang, putting the veggie gratin on the table. He had already poured two glasses of wine. Judy was rubbing her paws in anticipation.

"Wow, Slick. It smells divine!"

"Nothing's too good for you, ma chérie*." Gentlefox, Nick served her, then himself, and sit.

"Bon appétit!*" he claimed, motioning for her to start, which she gladly did. Taking her first bite, her eyes opened wide. She then took a couple more bites, before moaning of culinary pleasure.

"Slick, you outdid yourself! This is excellent."

The fox simply smiled.

"Good to hear."

The rest of the meal was spend trying to find new ideas of food to buy and recipes to try. When they were done, they cuddled on the couch, Nick surfing on his phone and Judy simply hugging him.

"Thanks for dinner, sweetheart. You can cook it every week if you want" Judy said, smiling and nuzzling his chest.

"In that case, remind me to buy a bigger bag of bugs next time."

The bunny froze, then slowly, very slowly, stood to face him, but he didn't take his eyes of his phone.

"A bigger bag of… what?"

But the fox didn't answer, still focused on his phone. She stared hard at him, ready to slap him, when she thought she noticed the corner of his muzzle budge. She kept staring, and there it was again. A discreet but still present twitch. And she understood.

"You… you JERK!" She elbowed his guts before tickling him, while the fox finally stopped holding back his laughter.



The sound of someone retching reached the fox's ears, and they fell on his skull. Judy had been down all day, barely eating breakfast and skipping lunch. He hadn't liked it of course, but now he was becoming really worried.

"I'm going to the drugstore" he shouted so that she could hear him.

"Nick, no!" was her answer. There was not a sound for a moment, then he heard flushing. Judy opened the door and leaned on it, one paw on her forehead.

"It's okay, Nick. Don't worry. Just feeling a bit down. It'll pass." But Nick could not not worry. His bunny was clearly ill. He went to her and gently removed her paw so that he could put his on her forehead. She was a bit hot, but not much.

"Slick, it's okay. Just need some rest." She put a small kiss on his palm of his paw, then went to her room. The fox accompanied her, making sure she would be comfortable under the duvet, then let her get some sleep, but only after promising not to go to the drugstore.

Checking his phone, he saw that it was the middle of the afternoon. He had promised not to go to the drugstore, but not to not take care of her. Grabbing his keys, he exited the apartment moments later.

He came back with a bag full of fresh groceries. He put them all on the kitchen table, then tiptoed to Judy's room. Opening it slowly, he noticed she was still asleep, her chest raising and falling slowly but steadily.

He spent the first hour watching TV, and the next preparing dinner.

When finished, he went to check on her again. She was still sleeping, which was a good sign, but it wasn't enough. If she wanted to get better, she had to eat something. He put a paw on her shoulder and tried to shake her awake. She groaned and yawned.

"Sorry sleeping beauty, but it's dinner time" the fox whispered.

"Hugh, don't talk about food please." And she brought her pillow on her head. The fox chuckled, and shook her again.

"Come on. You know you need something in your stomach to get better, and I have exactly what you need." Getting no answer, he pressed on. "How about carrot soup?"

"Sorry, Slick, but you won't buy me with carrot soup." The fox smiled slyly.

"Really? Even with cumin, parsley and a touch of coconut milk, Bonnie Hopps' style?"

The bunny removed the pillow from her head and looked at him.

"You got my mother's recipe?" she asked groggily.

"Tell you every day, nothing's too good for you, my love. So, what you say?"

Judy removed the duvet from above her and literally jumped out of her bed, kissing the fox on the cheek on her way down.

"I say, it was worth missing lunch. Thanks Slick!"

And she was gone, while the fox face-pawed and cursed himself for falling for one the oldest trick ever.



Nick was lying on the couch, his head on a pillow on the armrest, sound asleep. Bogo had called them in the morning, telling them they would be on patrol for the two following days. After two weeks, Judy was so excited she had asked for a second workout session earlier, before lunch. The fox had agreed, happy to see her like this, and was now enjoying a little nap before the second session.

Judy silently walked to him, and kneeled close to his head. She started scratching him gently behind the ear. Even asleep, the fox seemed to enjoy her ministrations as he began moaning lowly. Smiling, the doe kept petting him, slowly trying to reach behind his neck. With a loud moan the fox turned around, his arm falling from the couch and hanging inches above the ground.

Taken by surprise, the doe crouched and covered her ear with her paw. For a moment, nothing happened, so she carefully rose to check on her fox. Luckily for her, he was still sleeping. Like she had on their picnic, she began scratching him at the scruff of his neck. And just like that day, a low rumble escaped his throat. Only this time, she was ready. She put her carrot pen on his neck, just under the chin, and pressed the record button.

Ten minutes later, she was in her room listening to the recording. It made no doubt, the fox was purring, no matter how much he had tried to defend himself. And now she had the proof she needed. With that, she could blackmail him from times to times, for a nice dinner in a fancy restaurant maybe. Or he could even accept taking her to a nightclub and dance with her.

It brought a smile to her face. Back in the living room, she kneeled next to her fox and put a paw on his shoulder, ready to wake him up and make him listen to himself, eager to see his face.

Except she didn't. She just couldn't do it.

Sure, they had spent the week pranking each other, and she had decided to end the week with her best prank, one she could use against him again and again. It had worked, the proof was in her paw in the shape of a carrot.

But watching her fox sleeping peacefully changed her mind. That fox who had taken care of her day after day. Cooked for her, read for her, cuddled with her. That fox who had prepared a picnic, brought her to a crazy but invigorating chase before hugging with her under shooting stars. That fox she had fallen in love with long ago, and gave her reason after to reason not to regret it.

She crawled on his back, caressing his muzzle and laying sweet kisses on it, before falling asleep on him.

It was Sunday. The time for pranks was over.

And with a score of 17 to 12, she had won anyway.



"Nick, I'm bored." The fox gasped and brought a paw to his heart.

"Ouch, Carrots. Little warning before trying to make me get a heart attack, please."

"Arh, arh, very funny Slick."

Judy sighed and crossed her arms on her chest, looking at the desert streets of Zootopia through the passenger window of their ZPD cruiser. As Bogo had told them the previous day, her partner and she were on patrol duty today and would also be the following day.

Only problem: when the city is empty, there's nothing exciting about patrolling.

For the first time since she became a cop, Judy wished she had stayed at home. Even parking duty, the most feared punishment Bogo could come up with, would be better than roaming the streets of a ghost city.

Mammals were really listening to the mayor's orders. That or they were really scared. Either way, there was absolutely nothing to do except let the fox drive her street after street, and dumbly look through the window.

"Come on, Carrots. What did you expect? It's patrolling, not a new case." Judy sighed. He was right, as always, and that wasn't helping her.

"I dunno Slick. Maybe I was hoping some burglars or petty thieves would try to use the emptiness of the streets to do their things. All those shops are left without surveillance after all. It looks like even criminals have agreed to a truce. It's BORIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!" And with that last shout, she slumped in her seat, ears droopy and grimacing.

"Carrots, criminals are mammals too. They're not just not taking risks with their health. They already take their fair share the rest of the time."

And again, he was right. And again, it didn't help her. The morning seemed like a whole week, but finally was over. After a quick lunch with sandwiches, they exchanged their place and she was the one driving. This was a bit better, as she now had something to do with her paws and something to focus on, but only slightly.

Their shift ended as it had started, calm, uneventful, boring. Once back to the apartment, Nick forced her into a grueling workout session to blow some steam, and it worked quite well.


The second day started the same way, with nothing happening for hours.

Luckily for them, bad habits die hard. Or maybe some were just too desperate. Or just as bored as they were. Anyway, they stumbled on one mammal they knew well, and could not be simply talking a walk.

"Nick, isn't that Duke Weaselton over there?" The fox followed the digit of his partner and spotted the weasel walking on the sidewalk, hands in his pocket, looking straight at them.

"Well, I'd be darned. The duke of bootleg himself. How about we say hi, Carrots?" Her grin was all the answer he needed. He pulled over, shut the engine, and the two of them exited the car, immediately heading towards the weasel who was clearly not happy to see them. As soon as they got too close, he removed his paws from his pocket and began waving them frantically in front of him.

"Hey, hey, HEY! BACK OFF! Health hazard, keep your distance!"

Judy and Nick exchanged a knowing look, before staring at him with brows raised.

"Health hazard? Really? Couldn't come up with something else, Weseltun?" asked Hopps, voluntarily misspelling his name.

"It's Weaselton, flopsy, and you know it. Plus, I ain't doing nothing so beat it."

"If you ain't doing nothing," replied the fox, a smug smile on his face, "then why so serious? Can't old friends stop by and say hi?"

"Friends? Cops got no friends, Nick. What you want?"

"You're supposed to be quarantined like anybody else, Weaselton" answered Judy, already getting angry. "What are you doing here? And don't tell me you're going to buy groceries or to take care of an old relative, we won't buy it."

The weasel just crossed his arms.

"Was sick of staying indoor. Just taking fresh air." The two cops waited for more, but it looked like Duke was done. Judy was staring intently at him and could see he was hiding something. His fingers were drumming on his arms, his legs were slightly shaking, and his eyes were darting right and left. He was nervous.

Sure, facing cops was not always easy, and some found it intimidating, she could understand that. But there was something else here. Then the weasel took a peak at his watch. The motion was lightning fast, his head staying fixed and only his eyes moving, but it was enough for Judy.

"Waiting for someone?" she asked, staring a bit harder at him. "Or are you late for a friendly transaction of some sort?"

This seemed to do the trick as she saw him gulp. This guy is making it too easy, she thought. She regretted this thought ten seconds later when, without warning, he grabbed her and threw her on the fox by her side, making them fall to the ground while he took off in the opposite direction, sprinting like his life was on the line.

Their training kicked in, and the two partners got up with a roll before chasing after their target.

"Stop! Stop in the name of the law!" Judy shouted. Of course, the weasel didn't, but it was compulsory to at least give him a chance.

They followed him street after street. The weasel was trying to take as many turns as he could, to escape their sight and lose them. But they were trained cops, and it wasn't working. He was getting tired and was slowly losing ground, he could see it every time he looked over his shoulder.

The duo was thinking the exact same thing. Both could see the distance shorten with each passing minute, and it only bolstered them. After a long chase, they saw Duke sneak between two buildings, and Nick guffawed between two breaths.

"Ah! It's a dead-end. We got him!" Slowing to a stop, the cops reached for their tranq gun and entered the alley. It was rather dark, so Judy also reached for her pocket lamp. With his night vision, the fox didn't need one.

Cautiously, the fox stepped forward, while the bunny remained a couple paces behind, covering his back. They proceeded steadily, leaving no shadow unchecked. The alley was rather empty. Two large waste containers and trash bags were lined against one wall, an old bike was locked to a gutter with its safety lock, and two sets of stairs led to two doors, one for each building.

Using his superior vision, the fox saw that there were no handles on the doors. Logical, he thought. Safety exits only. And he was right. Above each door was a dark green sign signaling fire exits. There was no way Weaselton could have opened them.

It left them four possible hideouts: behind the stairs, among the trash bags, behind the containers, or inside the containers. Nick motioned to Judy to the first pile of bags. She nodded, kneeled and aimed at the bags her tranq gun held firmly in her paws. The fox got closer, took the first bag, and counting to three, lift it up before smashing it hard on the others.

Nothing happened.

Reaching the second set of bags, they repeated their action, with the same result. There was also nothing behind the stairs nor behind the containers, so the fox put his gun back in its holster, and got closer to the first container.

Judy would be too small to see inside, but she nodded anyway. She wouldn't need to check inside if Weaselton tried to escape, and he wasn't stupid enough to actually attack her partner. He was a thief and a crook, but not a violent one.

The fox held one digit in the air, then two, then three, and he tried to open the container, but failed. He tried again, harder, but it didn't move. Using his flashlight to see if he was missing something, he noticed the keyhole on the front. This was probably a private container, and the owner had locked it. A good idea, as it would be difficult to watch over it, stuck between two buildings.

It actually helped them a lot. Smiling, Judy turned to the second one, the only possibility left. The chase was over.

Nick repeated his previous actions, and opened the container, finding….


It was empty. Completely empty. Why the bags were all out of it was a question that crossed his mind for a second, before he focused again. Turning around, he brought his light to the end of the alley, but there was no one. No weasel.

"Nick?" Judy was looking at him with round eyes. "You saw him enter too?"

"Of course I did. Told you it was a dead end. Where is that…" The fox tried to open the two safety doors, but none moved. Looking up, he saw a few windows, but none of them were open, and all were too far from the gutter to be within reach. And trying a jump like this one would be suicidal at best.

Looking at her partner, he saw her exit the alley, looking left, right, then up, then back to him.

"WEASLETON!" Her shout resonated in the alley, but vanished without being answered. She was clearly frustrated, and Nick felt the same. Where did that weasel go?

They searched the place for ten more minutes, but found no trace of him. To him, there was only one explanation: someone was waiting for him with one of the fire exits open. Judy wasn't agreeing, stating that she would have heard it close. Those kind of metallic doors were quite noisy, and she knew she would have picked the sound.

Nick went back to the cruiser and called Bogo. He explained their situation, and how they had failed to apprehend the suspect. Bogo was surprised to hear about their failure, but sent them patrolling again. Hopefully, they had at least stopped a fraudulent deal, but he knew Weaselton. All the ZPD knew him. There would other occasions to catch him.

The fox sighed and agreed to it. Now for the hard part: bringing the news to his partner. He knew she wouldn't give up, but they had their orders. He turned the engine on, and drove to the alley. Unsurprisingly, Judy was still searching for clues, this time using her light to study every centimeter of the ground.

"Carrots" Nick called her. "Come on, we resume our patrol. Chief's orders."

"WHAT?" she yelled. "No! We still don't know where he is, or what he was up to, or how the f-"

"Carrots!" Nick cut her short. The bunny was fuming.

"Come on partner," the fox pressed on with a soft voice. "I'm as upset as you for losing him, but he's a small fish. We probably stopped him from selling a couple illegal copies of a movie or a CD. Still a crime, I know, but no big deal."

He got closer to her, put his paw on her shoulder and tried to make her move. She followed, but he could see she was still furious. He knew it was not the fact he got out, but not knowing how he managed it, that infuriated her. It wasn't their first failure, some guys were just too slippery or too violent and dangerous for them to catch on their own. He had one last argument that could work, though.

"You know, he'll be back out there on the first day the curfew is lifted, if not before. Let's just say you'll have a reason to use a little more force than necessary next time. And you know your partner would never rat you out. He may be dumb, but he wants to live old."

His wink did it, and Judy found her grin again, before elbowing him in the guts playfully.


Their shift ended with no further worries, and they were back to Nick's apartment. Bogo hadn't been moved by their failure to apprehend Weaselton, answering to their report with his usual "I don't care" comment. He knew the weasel as much as Nick, and shared the same opinion. Only Judy was left with a foul taste in her mouth.

She slumped on the couch, not even bothering removing her uniform vest, and kept mumbling to herself about stupid weasels and stupid chiefs and stupid this and stupid that. The fox was trying hard to hide his smile and contain his laughter, not wanting for her to turn her frustration on him. There had to be something he could do.

The word popped in his mind again, like it had every single day for two weeks. There was one thing, but…

The fox shook his head. Nope, that wasn't a good idea. Or was it? It could work after all. Or it would be weird because he would hear her voice all along?

Nick sighed. He was supposed to find a way to help his partner and lover to feel better, not frustrate himself and make things worse. Come on brain, for once be useful, he chastised himself. Not finding anything, he went to the kitchen to drink something. Then a small light bulb went on. Of course!

He made it to the bathroom and filled the tub with hot water, adding lavender shampoo and making sure there would be a load of foam. He then went to his closet, rummaged until his found a couple candle he had not used for their picnic, and set them on the sink. His surprise ready, he walked to the living room.

Judy was still busy insulting the whole world, so lost in her thoughts she had not heard or noticed anything. This made the fox laugh, and a new idea popped in his mind. Stroke of genius or pure madness, he didn't know, but anyway it was sure to provide entertainment for the both of us.

Putting his paw on her shoulder, he managed to catch her attention.

"At least, remove your vest, Carrots. Come on" he said, motioning with his paw, "gimme." She didn't stop pouting, adding stupid caring foxes to her ever-growing list, but complied. The fox went to hang it next to the apartment door, then came back to her. She didn't look at him, though he knew she knew he was looking at her.

With a shrug, he scooped her in his arms, eliciting a small yelp and a few punches on his shoulders, but he didn't let go until he was standing above the tub. The bunny looked at the tub, then at the fox and saw his mischievous smile.

"Nick, if you dare, I swear I'll-"


She never had the time to finish her sentence as the fox dropped her in the water without second thoughts, caring little to be as wet as her. When the bunny emerged from the water a few seconds later, mouth and eyes wide open in shock, she was alone. She remained still a moment, trying to get back to her senses, water cascading from her body and bubbles floating in the air.

"NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK!" Her shout easily reached the ears of the culprit, who was busy drying and changing clothes in his room, though it was hard with the fits of laughter shaking his body. She got out of the tub, bent on a huge payback, but found the door locked from outside. She froze. He had locked her inside? That fox was so going to pay for this!

After a couple minutes of disbelief, she heard pawsteps come closer and stop just on the other side of the door.

"Soooooooooooooooooo" a smug voice started. "Two options. You enjoy your bath while I build a fort to prepare for retaliation, or you don't enjoy your bath while I still build myself a fort to prepare for retaliation. What you say?"

"Open this door and I'll give you my answer, fox!" She was clearly mad at him, and a part of him was already regretting his little prank.

"Come on, Carrots. At least give it a try." Judy punched the door, hard, and heard the fox jump at the noise. She grunted for some time, but it was pointless. The fox wasn't going to open the door. Sighing, she turned her back to the door and for the first time, focused on the bathroom. Only then did she notice the candles on the sink. She switched the lights off, and her anger vanished.

With only the candles to bring some light, the room exuded a warmth that was suddenly all too appealing. The bubbles floating above the tub had something magical, shining with sparks of green and blue from the soap and orange from the flames. She got closer and took a deep breath, the smell of lavender bringing forth memories of her youth in the fields on the edge of her hometown.

She slowly unclothed, the calm and peaceful atmosphere of the room a soothing balm. As she was already wet, she didn't have to test the temperature of the water and immerged herself in, enjoying the feel on her fur and skin. The hot water started working its miracle on her tensed muscles, and a sigh of contentment escaped her lips, all notion of vendetta forgotten.

For the time being at least.


Nick was done preparing dinner and was setting the table when he heard knocks on the bathroom door. Checking his phone, he saw that she had been in there for nearly two hours, and surmised she must have enjoyed her bath after all. He walked to unlock the door, then went back to the kitchen and closed the door loudly. Hearing it, the now dry but naked bunny quickly made her way to her room to get a set of clean clothes. She then joined the fox inside the kitchen.

Nick looked at her with a bit of worry in his eyes, but a huge smile nonetheless.

"One boiled carrot, one" he said playfully. Judy looked around and saw the oven was on and something was cooking inside. She got closer and opened it, letting the smell of the food roused her appetite. Eggplant lasagna. Not that much complicated, but requiring quite the amount of work.

She closed the oven and looked at the fox, who was still a bit nervous. How could she remain mad at him? Once again he had proven to be just this sweet and caring mammal she still felt she didn't deserve. She smiled fondly and went to hug him, bringing her arms around his waist and burying her head in his shirt.

The fox kneeled and returned the hug. She broke the embrace to look at his bright emerald eyes, seeing all the affection and love inside, and once again she realized how lucky she was, before bringing him in a passionate kiss.

Later that evening, Judy was once again cuddling up with her fox on the couch, surfing on her phone while he was reading a Sherlock Hooves novel. Except he wasn't really paying attention to the story or the words forming it. His thoughts were all focused on the grey ball of fur against his chest.

The more he spent time with her, the more he craved her contact, the feel of her soft fur under his paws, her warmth, her caresses, her kisses. Something was driving him to get close to her.

Feeling his stare on her, the bunny put her phone down in her lap and looked at him.

"Thinking of something, Slick?" she asked in a sweet but slightly teasing tone.

"You" was his honest and quick reply, eliciting a small laugh from the bunny.

"That was cheesy, even for you, Slick" Judy said, internally moved by the speed with which he had answered.

"Sorry Carrots, can't really focus on the story with your scent under my nose. Speaking of which." Extending his arm over the armrest, he put his book down before catching his bunny in his arms and taking a long and deep sniff just between her ears, letting the intoxicating smell both sooth him and stir his instincts.

The doe giggled and wiggled in his grip, but showed no sign of really wanting to escape. She enjoyed those moments as much as he did. But, she had to put on a show, just… because she had to. Wouldn't be fun otherwise.

So she started wiggling more, even trying to tickle him to make him loosen his hold on her.

"Careful there, Carrots. Remember what happened last time you tried to escape your fox?" Nick said, rolling on his back and bringing her with him, trying to catch both her arms. He was about to fail when he remembered they were on the couch. On his right was nothing except the ground, but on his left…

Judy was laughing hard, trying to escape her sweet torturer, when she felt him try to move to his right. Taking a look, she saw he was close to falling from the couch, and was about to warn him when he suddenly rolled to his left. She didn't have the time to react, and soon she found herself pinned between his body and the cushions.

She tried to talk, but it was hard with her mouth buried in the pillows and the weight of the dumb fox crushing her. Nick found the opportunity perfect to tease her.

"You know Carrots, if you want out, you just have to ask."

"Hpffff hmmm mfpff" were the only sound that reached the fox's ears, and they made him laugh hard.

"Sorry Carrots" he managed to say between two chuckles, "I don't have my translator. Try again!"

Judy was thinking on how to get back to the fox when she felt one single digit reach her ribs, then the claw unsheathe. She tried to push harder but only managed to make the claw scratch her side, which wasn't helping at all. The fox released just enough pressure so she could lift her head.

"Oh no, you won't! Nick, don't you daaaaaAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAH"

Yes he will. And yes he dared.

Laughing nearly as much as her, he continued his tickling assault, enjoying feeling her wriggle and twist in his arms. She had no room to move and no way to defend herself, so she tried to plead her way out.

"Ni-hihihih-iiiiiick! plea- aahhhhhhhhhhhh- please, I can't ahahahahaahahahaah I can't, please." The fox stopped, letting her catch her breath, but not moving his claw away.

"Deep breaths Carrots, deep breaths". His voice was dripping with smugness and self-satisfaction.

"I will, huh, I swear, huh, I will kill you" Judy replied between her ragged breaths, her side still aching.

"Ready for round 2?" he asked, and she started panicking.

"No! NO! Nick, please I YAAAHHH"

And round two began anyway. When it ended a minute later, Judy was a mess. Her whole body seemed to ache with the efforts she put into escaping, though she had failed in the end. She managed to turn herself on her belly and lied there, breathing heavily and looking at the fox in the eyes. The giant smile on his face was unnerving.

Nick leaned and placed a quick kiss on her nose, earning him a hard glare, though he didn't seem moved.

"Problem, my love?" he asked, never losing his confidence. Judy grunted.

"Ex-love, Nick. When I feel my body again, I'm out of here." Nick brought a paw to his heart and feigned choking.

"What? You would abandon me for making you laugh?" Then he raised his eyes to the skies. "Gods, why were so cruel to send me the one mammal who doesn't like a good laugh?"

He looked back at her, and saw that despite her efforts to remain serious and mad, she was smiling. Just a tiny little bit, but it was enough. He brought a digit to the corner of her mouth.

"Is it the start of a smile I see here?" he asked, leaning in close like he wanted to better see. Her only reaction was to sigh.

"Yes it is. I'm imagining being back to my place. You know, sans dumb fox."

"Oh come on, you know you'd miss me" the fox answered with a smug smile.

"Do I know that?" the bunny said, half closing her eyes like she was giving it a hard thought. Then she let her smile grow and answered softly.

"Yes. Yes I do."

Hearing the words still had the same effect on the fox, his heart accelerating and his tail wagging behind him. He closed the distance to place a tender kiss on her cheek, and when she turned her head, another one of her lips, one that lasted for much longer.


When he finally broke the kiss, Judy spoke in a sweet but firm voice.

"You know you're not out of trouble yet, foxy. Five more minutes and I'll show you what it costs to mess with a bunny." Nick roared in laughter.

"And you dare call me rusty?" he managed to say after calming down a bit. But Judy didn't answer. She seemed quite comfy like this after all, and more relaxed than ever. It made him smile. Forcing her to take that bath had been worth it in the end. Then, coming out of nowhere, her mother's words echoed in his head.

He may never admit to her face to face, but she might have been right from the start. It was actually an excellent idea, one of the best way to please his bunny and selfishly satisfy his instincts.

So he raised both her legs with one paw, eliciting a high-pitched yelp from the doe, than sat and led her legs fall on his lap.

"Nick, what the fox are you do-OH! OOOOoooooooo" Her mouth failed her, the words turning to a moan when she felt his paws starting to rub her right calf. Taking it as a sign to continue, the fox massaged her until he reached her foot. He tried his best not to ruin the moment by tickling her, so he started with the side of it, using only his thumb to put pressure on the sole of her foot.

Then he focused on her digits, gently rubbing each one by one. Judy caught the closest pillow and buried her head in it, trying to muffle her moans under her fox's delicate touch. He pressed on for a few minutes, before repeating the motions on her other leg.

After massaging her thighs, he gently caught her by the waist and hauled her so that her belly was now on his lap. The doe didn't resist in the slightest. So he resumed his ministrations, rubbing her back with slow circling motions, his large paws easily covering all of it.

When he reached her shoulder blade and her collarbones, he put more pressure in his paws. The small yelp and the deep sigh that escaped her lips was honey to the vulpine's ears. He focused on her small tells, finding the nodes where she was most tense, enjoying each sound he managed to get out of his bunny.

Judy was in heaven. She loved the way Nick's paws could hold her close, both strong and caring, and had imagined several times what it would feel like if he were to put them on her like this. She never dared ask him, fearing it would be selfish and maybe too early in their relationship. But it looked like she had been wrong, as she could hear him purr slightly. He was enjoying it as much as her.

It was close to her dreams, with one important difference. She crushed the thought, but then he began rubbing her neck above the collar of her shirt and it sent a bolt of electricity through her whole body.

"Nick, wait" she managed to say in a low. The fox immediately stopped, as anxiety quickly built inside him. The doe rose up and sit on his lap, using a paw to caress his muzzle.

"Don't worry, you've done nothing wrong. I just want to try something." Nick was too scared to answer, so he just waited for her to explain further.

Except she didn't say anything.

Turning her back to him, she lifted the shirt above her head and took it off, leaving her fur exposed to her lover's gaze. Then she reached for the loop of her bra and unlocked it.

"Judy, what are you-". The fox couldn't finish his sentence as the bunny put her paw on his muzzle without turning to face him. When she was sure he would remain silent, she finished removing her bra, and lied down on him again.

"Don't stop, please." Her voice was shaking, filled with anxiety but also with hope. Hope that he would not refuse her or run away. Hope that she would not be too straightforward.

Nick was trying his best not to pant. True enough, he had several times tried to imagine what she would look like in the fur, but it had always seemed a distant notion, like a teenager fantasizing. Watching her undress for real in front of him, even with her back turned, had completely taken him aback, though his instincts were yelling as never before for him to seize the opportunity she was willingly offering him.

Willingly. The word did the trick. He hadn't asked for it, he had even been closed to protesting when she had stopped him. It was her choice. She wanted it just as much as him. Who was he to deny his bunny?

The fox put both of his paws on her now bare back, and made a first circular motion. The feel of her fur and the way she arched her back were all he needed to banish his fears and insecurity. He resumed his massage with enthusiasm, back, waist, shoulders, neck, arms, paws. Bathing in her moans, he cherished every second of it.

Not once did she seem afraid of him, guiding him with a few words, where to add pressure or where to be gentle, when to stay on a specific area or when to move on. She was trusting him so deeply, so completely, that it was filling him with a sense of belonging he had never experienced before.

After what seemed like an eternity for the both of them, Judy stretched her arms and legs, enjoying the way they felt light and strong at the same time. She sat on Nick's lap again, before putting her clothes back on. She then remained there, motionless. Nick asked in a playful voice.

"Waiting for something, Carrots?" He felt her stiffen a bit, before she answered in a low and still shaking voice.

"For you to finish what you've started." The fox frowned. If she had put her shirt on, it meant he was done with the massage, wasn't he? Sensing his hesitation, Judy got closer to him, rubbing her head under his chin. Nick's brain finally caught on her idea and he smiled. Looks like he wasn't done yet.

So he placed his paws on each side of her head, joining his thumbs just above her neck, and started gently massaging the back of her. He took his time, but slowly made it to her forehead, while Judy was now resting her whole body against his, feeling relaxed, warm and safe in her lover's arms.

Nick was about to lower his arms when Judy spoke, close to begging him.

"Please. Don't stop now."

Nick was glad that she felt so good in his arms, so he obeyed without delay, repeating his movements. Judy internally sighed though, as her fox seemed to have misunderstood her request. She wanted him to take the massage a bit further, but was too afraid to ask him once again. Instead she just waited for him to move his paw, then tilted her head, bringing one of ear directly in his paw.

Nick froze when the long appendage ended in his palm. He had done his best to avoid them, the talk with Judy's mother still fresh in his mind. But Judy did something that spoke a thousand words. She lowered her head and raised it again, letting her ear rub on his paw, inviting him to stop hesitating.

He placed a tender kiss on her head, before whispering.

"Are you sure?" She nodded slowly.

Gently, he closed his paw on her ear and moved it to the tip of it, letting his pads brush her fur and the skin under. The hmm of contentment that she let out was music to his soul. He repeated the motion was his other paw on her second ear, getting the same result. Then he unsheathed his claws and used them to softly scratch the sensitive appendages, while placing a soft kiss on her neck. This time he felt her shudder and she had to cover her mouth with her paws.

Nick might have touched her ears already, but he had been blind to what it could represent, and Judy knew it.

The way she opening herself to him, both physically and mentally. The love he was showering her, with small kisses and nibbles.

Both of them fully understood what this new closeness meant, and none of them was regretting it.


While Judy was losing herself in her lover's embrace, shutting her brain and focusing on his paws on her, Nick was started to have difficulties breathing. His heart was hammering in his chest to the point it was hurting. Images were flooding his brain and his vision was getting blurry under the whirlwind of emotions they brought forth.

Judy laughing and crying as she showed the ring on her finger to her friends and family.

Judy in a long white dress, a bouquet a flower in one paw, slowly walking towards him.

A fox kit playing with a baby bunny in their playpen, under the loving eyes of their mother.

These were dreams and hopes he had given up years and years ago. So long ago that they had never crossed his mind once since he had reached adulthood. So long ago that, now that they were flowing back to the surface, he had no idea how to control them.

He had to get a hold of himself, and fast. So he buried his nose in the scruff of her neck, taking in deep breaths of her scent.

The smell of his bunny seemed to work like a balm for him. Every time he was feeling down or anxious, he just had to take a few long sniffs and he felt better. He knew why. Sure, the scent itself was intoxicating, but it was mainly a reminder that she was there with him, close to him, that he wasn't dreaming anything.

Her happy giggles were just the blueberry on the cake.

It worked once again, his heart slowing down to a more reasonable pace, while she took his paws and removed them from her head, crossing his arms on her chest and silently asking for him to hug her. Which he did of course, bringing her as close as he could, reveling in her scent and warmth.

They remained like this for a long moment, before Judy spoke softly.

"Wanna hear something I never told anybody? Not even my sisters?" The fox just hummed his answer.

"I've always focused on my career, and back in Bunnyburrow it was enough to make all bucks turn away. Not that I had a lot of them chasing after me anyway. Bucks prefer slim does, and with my training to join the academy I was the opposite of attractive to most of them. The few who tried to talk me into giving up and settling ended calling me stupid, or weird. I stopped giving them a chance after being called a freak."

That got Nick to start growling. Judy found cute the way he was getting angry and defensive over her, but then his grip tightened and she also understood he was being possessive with her, the simple idea of bucks chasing her enough to unnerve him. She nuzzled his chin, trying to ease him.

"Don't worry. They didn't stand a chance. And the last one ended with a broken nose and lost what little charm he thought he had." They chuckled at the last jibe, but Nick kept her close.

"Anyway" Judy said. "When I received the letter from the academy telling me I was accepted, I put all thoughts of finding someone behind me and crossed it from my life. Was I different than most does? Yes I was. Did it matter? No it didn't. I would live my life alone, but I would still enjoy it, making the world a better place for those who wanted to settle. It would be enough. That's what I had decided."

She paused for a bit and started laughing.

"My sister Jess, one of my littermates, called me once. It was a few weeks after we put Bellwether behind bars, you were at the academy at that time. She told me she had seen me on the news a while ago, and wanted to know if I had found any interesting buck now that I was a star and that they should be lining to court me."

Another low growl escaped his throat, and she elbowed him in the guts.

"Come on Slick, you can't growl every time a male tries to talk to me." She felt him smile, his muzzle still buried in her fur.

"My bunny" was all he said.

"Yes your bunny, but she's got a job to do. A mammal oriented job, remember? You've got the same, artner." The simple word was enough to make Nick's heartbeat speed up a bit, now that it had a whole new meaning to him. It didn't stop him from being him though.

"Then I'll handles males and you'll only talk to females. Perps, witnesses or fellow cops alike."

"I can't say hi to Clawhauser anymore?" she replied, feigning being sad. "You'll break his sugar-covered heart you know. He likes us. A bit too much by the way. Do you know he has a bet running on us dating?" The fox tensed a bit, but wrapped around her as he was, she could not miss it.

"Nick? You knew?" He tensed a bit more, and Judy added two and two.

"Nick. Are you behind the bet or something?" She felt him smile again.

"Behind it, no. I may have left a few comments slip here and there to see who was on the bet and play them like fools as a little payback."

"You're kidding? What kind of comments?" Nick gulped.

"I don't remember" he said, but the bunny wasn't dupe.

"Nick? What kind of comments?" She was trying to be firm, but the idea of her fox messing with their colleagues to teach them a lesson was too funny not to smile. And his own smug smile was promising something juicy.

"Remember the extra hours I had to spend filling in reports for the whole service after my little prank on Buffalo Butt?" Judy rolled her eyes. How could anyone forget that?

"Well, Ben was coming every now and then to ask if I was doing alright, and I decided it would be a perfect opportunity. I waited to hear his footsteps, brought my phone to my ear, and faked a conversation with someone. And I might have said something along the lines of already preparing a date, and not being my bunny. And maybe I also added not yet."

Judy's ears stood straight up above her head.

"You told Clawhauser about a date, and that I wasn't your bunny YET?" Nick shrugged.

"I said I MIGHT have said something like that." But his smile was telling the truth, no matter how much he could try to hide it. This is exactly what he had said. Judy turned again and her shoulders slumped, while she covered her face with her paws.

"Sweet cheese and crackers. That explains so much."

Nick laughed and placed a kiss on the back of her head.

"Come on Carrots. You know I can't resist a good hustle when I see one. And they should have known better than to mess with a fox."

"My fox" she immediately corrected him with a smile and nuzzling him under his chin. This got Nick's ears to twitch frantically, and his heartbeat sped up again. Judy felt it and chuckled.

"You know Nick, you'll need to learn to control that heart of yours. Been feeling it race, then slow, then race again, and slow again for weeks now. Wouldn't want my mate to tire too fast."


Three weeks ago, when Nick had invited her over, she had made plans. Smile and laugh, eat, smile and laugh, throw jibes at each other, smile and laugh, sleep, repeat. Basically, their everyday routine for the past year. It should have been easy to go on with that while sharing the same roof for a few weeks.

The thick, deafening and uncomfortable silence that followed what was supposed to be a joke to keep the atmosphere light wasn't really what she had been expecting.

The tears that crashed on her shoulders weren't either.

She bowed her head, her ears falling behind her back, fear clutching at her guts at her stupidity and what it could cost her. Three weeks of joy and happiness reduced to ashes with a single monumental mistake, and that was only considering the recent past. There was more at stake. Much, much more.

"Care to repeat that?" Nick was trying to keep his tone even, and the trembling in his voice was of no help to the bunny, taking it for anger.

"Nick I-"

"Wait!" he cut her short. "Let me finish."

Judy was too weak to do anything but nod timidly, too scared to meet his gaze.

"If you do, there's no turning back. You're aware of that?"

The question took her by surprise and Judy raised her head, a spark of hope flaring inside.

"There's no deluxe option with this fox. There's only one package, give or take."

Judy felt her eyes moisture, and she turned around slowly, finally meeting his burning emeralds despite the water still flowing from them. His smile was quivering as he was forcing himself to remain serious a bit longer.

"The skeletons in the closet?" She nodded, her voice failing her.

"The dubious sense of humor?" Another nod.

"The one of a kind fashion sense?" A third nod accompanied by a laugh, now that all fears had left her.

"The devilishly handsome looks that will catch the eyes of any females?" She punched him on the shoulder for this one, but nodded again and again.

"The hmm-"

"Nick!" It was her time to interrupt him with a paw on the muzzle. "I get it, the whole package or nothing, and no remorse. And guess what?" She removed her paw and crashed her lips against his for a long and heated kiss. When they parted, breathing heavily, she cupped his muzzle and lowered his head so that she could rest her forehead against his and fix her gaze in his, before whispering softly.

"I have no doubts. I take it all. My fox. My mate."

Never before had Nick's tears looked so beautiful to Judy. He was about to kiss her again but she turned her head, his lips touching her cheeks instead. He raised his brows, while she grinned.

"You know it works both ways Slick." His smile told her he had understood. He had scared her for nearly a whole minute with his little play. She had earned the right to hear the words too. So she pushed him so that his back touched the back of the couch, and she crossed her arms on her chest.

"The stubbornness?" The fox nodded, mimicking her previous actions.

"That's all I got, sorry." That got the fox to bark out in laughter. Judy feigned raising her fist, ready to punch him.

"Got anything to say, Slick?" The fox waved his paws in front of him.

"Of course not Carrots. Who am I to criticize your perfection?" The both shared a laugh, before Judy spoke again.

"You won't get tired of my perfection?" The fox leaned and closed his arms on her, bringing her closer.

"Never. I take it happily. My bunny. My mate."

The kiss they exchanged at that moment sealed their union better than any paperwork, while the book of their life turned a new page, the first paragraph of which was written that same night.



Unfortunately, all good things have an end.

The following week, the news was broadcasted on all channels and bandwidths. The vaccine had been found and proved efficient. The authorities would be the first to receive it, with the firemammals and employees of the medical service. All would then be responsible for delivering it directly at home to all the citizens of the city, to avoid massive crowds and stampedes in drugstores or at city hall. It would take some time, but the crisis was finally reaching its end.

As cops, Nick and Judy found themselves trick or treating, knocking on all the doors in the area that had been specified in the morning briefing, except they were delivering the treat and not asking for one. They had been taught how to correctly use a syringe, and specialized teams of professional were ready to intervene anywhere in the city in case of extreme fears of needles or kits for example.

The task was easy, mammals for once greeting the cops with open arms, which wasn't always the case, especially when on parking duty. Some offered sweets, chocolate bars, or simply huge smiles and loads of thanks. The cops had to refuse most of the physical gifts for good measure, but still ended enjoying the otherwise tiring days. Walking ten miles a day was quite the exercise.

Luckily for Judy, she had her personal feet massager back at the apartment.

It took three weeks to deliver the vaccine to the whole city, and another week for mammals to feel comfortable to start wandering outside like they used to. It would require time for them to really find their old life back, but they would without a doubt.

All that time, Nick and Judy kept their new relationship a secret.

They had the same rank on the force and nothing to gain from it, so it would be left to their chief to decide if he wanted to separate them or not, and they knew Bogo wouldn't care as long as they remained professional.

They also didn't fear for the public attention they could get. Though inter-species relationships were still a sensitive topic, they had a feeling it would not be the main topic of interest for the city in the months to come. Mammals would be busy minding their own lives and business to interfere with theirs.

No, the main reason was that they simply enjoyed their little life, away from the prying eyes of the world. It was their little bubble of paradise. The other reason was that they enjoyed frustrating their colleagues. Judy even picked up on Nick's game and made her best to mess with the bet each time they were inside precinct one's main building, sending contradictory messages to different officers and letting the rumor mill do the rest.

But there was one little problem with their choice. As long they were roommates, their secret was safe. But if Judy stayed with Nick after the crisis, then it would all go to waste. All their efforts would be in vain, and their island of peace would be disturbed.

So they had agreed that for the time being, Judy would keep her apartment, sleeping at Nick's place on their movie nights only, as all their colleagues already knew of those. The last Sunday of their sleeping arrangement came and went. They would see each other the next day of course, but they both had grown accustomed to their new routines and the permanent presence of the other. So it was with a little tear that Judy said her goodbyes and left, one luggage in each paws.


Judy opened the door to her apartment and remained there for long minutes. The sight was depressing. No kitchen, no living room, no bathroom, no TV, no couch. And of course, no fox.

No Nick.

She had left her fox about half an hour ago and would see him rather soon, as the night didn't count, that is if she could find sleep. She was already feeling down. Lonely. She put her cases in the corner of her room, then closed and locked the door before jumping on her bed and lying on her back.

She stared at the ceiling, thinking of everything that had happened this past weeks.

The pillow fights, the picnic under the stars, the prank war, surfing the web to pick up locations for the next holidays as a couple, the karaoke night, the improvised dancing lessons. And of course, their declaration for each other, their first kiss and the many many that followed, their first night together.

This had been the best weeks of her life, because Nick had been here all the time. She had become dependent of his presence, and its lack was weighing her down.

On the verge of tears, she sat up and reached for her phone, opening MuzzleTime and clicking on her parent's image. The phone rang four times before he mother's face appeared.

"Hey sweetie." Bonnie's smile faltered as soon as she saw the distress on her daughter's face. "Judy, sweetie. What is it?"

"Mom, there's something I need to tell you." Bonnie looked behind her daughter and saw the wall. Old, dark and depressing. Mothers don't always need words to understand their children, and Bonnie proved it right away.

"I already know, sweetie. Have you unpacked?" Judy looked at her mother with raised brows.

"Hum, no. Why?" Bonnie smiled and nodded.

"Good. You know what to do then. Don't call back until tomorrow. Bye sweetie." She was about to hang up when Judy called to her.

"Mom, mom! Wait! What do you mean you know? And what's that about unpacking?"

Bonnie looked at her daughter like only a mother could, a pride-disappointment combo, before shaking her head.

"Judy, I've known for a long time now. Maybe even before the two of you realized it. I saw the two of you at Nicolas' graduation. And seeing that face of yours now that you're back at your place, it's obvious you finally declared for each other."

Judy could only stare at the phone. She knew her mother suspected something, but it was a surprise to hear her say that. And… Nicolas? If she was down to first name, it meant she had accepted him, same for her older siblings' wives or husbands.

"You're… okay with it?"

"Sweetie, I told you a few weeks ago. As long as you're happy, I don't care if he's a bunny or a fox."

Judy was relieved to hear the words. She had a feeling her mother would not be frankly opposed to her relationship with Nick, but hearing she was actually supportive of it was a huge weight out of shoulders. There was only one obstacle left. It looked like Bonnie read her mind, as she added with a devious smile.

"Don't worry about your father. I invited Gideon over twice since you moved in with Nick, to speak about the produce and make trade plans. Can't say Stu was glad with the idea at first, but he ended inviting the fox for tea and not for business purposes. Still a long way till he hugs Nicolas I suppose, but at least the door will be open for when the both of you come visit."

This time, Judy couldn't stop the tears from falling. Still, just for fun and because her mood had considerably brightened, she felt she had to put up one final act.

"Mom, I didn't move in with Nick. Roomies, remember? And you saw it right? I'm back at my place." And with that she turned the phone so that her mother could see her apartment. She wasn't expecting the round of tst tst tst that came out of the speaker.

"You may be back but we both know you don't want to, and hate that place even more now. Why do you think I asked you if you had unpacked?" Judy didn't answer. She didn't need to.

"Now, sweetie. I believe you know what you have to do."

Judy beamed at her mother.

"I love you, mom."

"Love you too, sweetie. Bye." Bonnie hang up, and less than five seconds later, Judy was already in the corridor, one case in each paw, the door locked for good. She would see the landlady later. And to hell with hiding anything anymore.

Half an hour later, Nick heard the doorbell ring. Frowning, he got up from the couch and the boring TV show he was watching absently, his thoughts already long gone to the morning when he could see his bunny's smile again. Opening the door, he froze when his eyes landed on said bunny.

"Judy? What are you doing here? I thought we agreed you'd be going home."

Judy smiled and walked towards him. He took a few steps back to let her in. She put her luggage on the ground, turned and closed the door. Then she turned to face him and jumped in arms. Luckily for her, her fox had gotten used to it and caught her easily. She then pressed her lips against his hard, before the kiss deepened to slow and loving when the two of them put a paws behind their lovers' head to keep them close.

The doe reluctantly broke the kiss after a moment, but kept Nick's head in her paws, and she fixed her amethysts in his emeralds.

"I am home."




The End.

So, I did promise more fluff than chapter 1. Was that enough?

For those wondering about the few French words I just had to add:

* "et voilà" means "there you go"

* "ma chérie" is a term of endearment and can be translated by "darling"

* "bon appétit" is what we French say before starting to eat. It's the equivalent of "enjoy your meal".

Thanks again for the support on this little side story of mine. I hope it helped you smile a bit through those hard times. I know a lot of stories on this website work for me.

By the way, I highly recommend:

* Zootopia: Firewatch, by Bluelighthouse (complete). Fluff combined with rounds of laughter, and a little romance to top the whole package, the perfect read if you're feeling down (even if you're not actually, I've read this story five or six times those past three months). And if you like it, the sequel, Zootopia: Firefalls, is ongoing and also worth a shot.

* Zootopia: At the Beginning, by WingedKatt (on-going). Reasons to laugh and smile differ from Firewatch, but are just as efficient. Warning: though safe for work, still delivered with some rather heated moments ^^

* Safe Paws, by midnightopheliac (complete). Some rather depressing moments or backstories, but also some of the sweetest chapters I've read so far. Excellent to make you remember that there's always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Keep safe, all of you, and maybe read you soon!