"I have some information you all must be aware of. A group of prey who are unhappy that our newest mayor is a predator have been terrorizing the city, trying to make the city lose as much money as they can. They vandalized, burned down buildings, and changed the climate and humidity of the different districts. Before, we didn't realize the incidents were connected. But all the vandalism has similar messages." Chief Bogo gestured to a board of photographs. They all read anti-predator phrases such as "Don’t consort with killers", "Fear the minority", and "Natural enemies stay enemies".
Judy looked at Nick to gage his reaction. He was holding in his emotions fairly well, but his hands were clenched beneath the table.
"I want you all to be on high alert, and if you see anything suspicious, check it out immediately. I want Officers Wilde and Hopps investigating this exclusively."
Judy perked up. They hadn't had an important mission in a while.
Benji handed Judy the case file, and Judy nearly dropped it, it was so heavy.
Nick and Judy sat in their office, poring over the files. Apparently this group had been working together for a long time, and had possibly once worked for Bellwether.
"Check this out." Nick held up a map that pinpointed all of the incidents. They formed a claw print on the map.
"Oh my gosh." Judy breathed. The claw print was nearly finished, but had a few missing points. She grabbed a pen and a ruler, and figured out where they would be. Nick slid his chair over to his computer and found the coordinates of the three different locations.
Nick and Judy had been assigned to patrol the spot that the group had indicated would be next on their list. They sat at the spot for hours in their car; with the engine turned off and behind some trees to no one approaching could see them. Judy tried as hard as she could to concentrate despite the Rainforest District heat and humidity. Leaving the car running was unfortunately out of the question. When the sun set, all they could hear were bugs. Around midnight, thought, they saw a goat approaching. Followed by two sheep, and a pig. The pig held a flashlight and barked orders as the others took spray paint out of big black bags.
"How do you want to do this?" Nick asked, "We don't know what they're capable of."
Judy bit her lip, thinking, "You go around that way, and I'll come from this way. I'll signal you, and them we dart them."
"Got it." Nick slowly and quietly climbed out of the car and through the bushes to the spot Judy had pointed to.
Judy pushed a few leaves out of her way, making sure she could see Nick on the other side of the clearing. The animals had already started spray painting the building, laughing and talking quietly while they worked. She thought she saw a flash of orange fur across from her, but she couldn't be sure. At least she knew that Nick, with his eyesight, could see her. When all four animals were turned towards the wall, Judy gave Nick a signal and burst through the brush. She darted both sheep before they could even turn around, and Nick got the pig. But the goat had disappeared.
"Where's the other one?" Nick asked.
She shushed him, and listened carefully. She heard rustling in the bushes a split second before a gunshot sounded through the rainforest.
"Evil predator!" The goat yelled, and ran into the darkness before Judy could dart him. She heard a thump behind her.
She spun around, "Nick, are you-"
He was sprawled on the ground, clutching his side. Blood had already started to stain the ground.
"Nick!" Judy screamed, and fell to her knees next to him.
"Calm down Carrots, I'm fine." He muttered, but his words were slurred and he couldn't keep his eyes completely open.
"Please be okay, please be okay." Judy repeated over and over as she grabbed her radio from her belt.
"We found four members of the anti-predator group and disabled three of them. Officer Wilde has been shot and needs medical assistance immediately. I repeat; Officer Wilde has been shot."
She was radioed back almost immediately saying an ambulance was on it's way. She started applying pressure to the wound, and blinked back the tears that were filling her eyes. Nick was nearly unconscious, losing blood much too quickly.
Judy exhaled with relief when she heard the wails of the sirens.
Everything after that was a blur. The next thing she knew, she was sitting in a hospital waiting room, knowing she should sleep but not being able to bring herself to do it.
The doctors hadn't been able to tell her much, as she wasn't family. All she knew was that he was in critical condition and had gone into surgery at some point.
An older fox rushed into the room and almost went up to the desk before she saw Judy.
"Judy!" Mrs. Wilde's teary eyes lit up as she went over to hug her. Judy held onto Nick's mom tightly and tried not to start crying again.
"How is he? Thank you so much for being here, I know he'd appreciate it."
"Of course. I don't know much. All they've told me is that he's in critical condition and was in surgery. They'll probably tell you more because you're family.”
Mrs. Wilde started to walk towards the desk, but then turned back and smiled sadly, "No one has ever cared about Nick as much as you do. Well, besides me. Thanks for saving him."
"It was what any other officer would have done."
"I didn't just mean tonight, dear." Mrs. Wilde went up to the front desk and left Judy standing alone, stunned. She had saved him? From what? Well, there had been the panther three years ago, and a plethora of other job-related incidents, but how could Mrs. Wilde have known about those?
"There's not much else to know." Mrs. Wilde sat down next to Judy with a sigh.
"What did you mean a minute ago, when you said I'd saved him?"
Mrs. Wilde took a deep breath, "I've been to the hospital for Nick before. But it was always because some thug or another had beaten him up after he tricked them. Every single time, it was because he'd done something illegal," Mrs. Wilde shook her head, "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the next time I was here, it would be because he was shot in action as a police officer. You were what made him turn his life around. You saved him," Mrs. Wilde gave Judy a look of thanks so genuine, it made her want to cry again, "Judy, you're the best thing that ever happened to him. Thank you."
"Nick is the best friend I've ever had. It was an honor to help him find his way."
"You are the only girl Nick has brought home since he met you. If…when he makes it through this, you should ask him why that is."
Judy's head was swirling with so many thoughts she could barely pin one down. He hadn't brought home anyone? His mom thought they should be together? This was too much.
Then, the issue at hand came rising back to the surface. Nick had been shot. A doctor approached the two of them, and Judy shot up.
"He's out of surgery, and he's currently stable. Luckily, the bullet missed his heart and didn't hit any other vital organs. He just bruised a few ribs and lost a lot of blood."
"Can we see him?" Judy asked.
"He's sleeping right now, but only family for the moment." The doctor said apologetically, "You can come wait outside though."
He led Mrs. Wilde and Judy down a hallway, and let Mrs. Wilde through a door. He closed the door behind her and went into another room.
Judy sat down on a bench across from the room, tapping her foot to try and release some nervous energy.
After what felt like an hour, but was probably only five minutes, Mrs. Wilde came out.
"He woke up, and immediately started freaking out. He wanted to know if you were okay," Mrs. Wilde sat down beside her, "I know you're not supposed to be in there, but he needs proof that you're alright."
Judy nodded, checked the hallway for doctors, and slipped into the room.
"Carrots, you look terrible." Nick was propped up in the hospital bed.
Judy knew he was right. She still had on her sweaty uniform from the night before, and she hadn't slept in nearly 24 hours.
"Oh, thanks." Judy sat down in a chair next to the bed.
"When will they let me leave this place? I feel fine."
"You were shot last night, Nick."
"Did you catch him?" He asked, suddenly getting serious.
"Not right away. When backup got there, they arrested the other three and interrogated them. They told us where their headquarters were and we shut them down."
"He didn't hurt you, did he? After I passed out?" Nick looked up at her.
"No, I'm fine. You're the one you should be worried about."
"Right." He nodded, somewhat reluctantly.
"Can I talk to you about something?" Judy's heart started pounding.
"Your mom told me that I'm the only girl you've brought home since you met me."
"Yeah...so?" He avoided her eyes.
"Okay, fine. I didn't bring anyone home because I haven't dated anyone in three years."
Judy looked surprised, "Why not?"
This was torture. The pain in his side wasn't as bad as this, "Because I didn't want to date anyone else."
Judy's ears perked up. She was silent for a minute.
"I haven't dated anyone either."
Mrs. Wilde poked her head in the room, "You're both idiots. Carry on."
"Was she...listening to us?" Judy burst out laughing.
"That woman has no boundaries." Nick laughed too. At least his creepy mom had broken the tension.
Before he could stop himself, Nick started talking, "I really want to kiss you right now, but I can't move." He gestured to his injury.
Judy laughed, and he grinned.
"Fine, make me do all the work." She scooted closer and Nick's heart was beating so hard it hurt his side, and she leaned in, and...kissed him on the cheek.
"Well, I should probably go. I'm not actually supposed to be in here." Judy got up, stretched, and started for the door.
"Are you serious?"
"I think I'll go get some coffee. Do you want anything?" She smirked as she opened the door.
"I hate you."
"No, you don't!" She called as the door shut behind her.
No, he didn't.