Bellwether needed something to take her edge off. Preferably something alcoholic. She tapped her hoofs at her keyboard in the mayor’s office as she made her way through the photo library of one upcoming mayor Judy Hopps. Perusing her way through family photos and all the photos she dumped to her FurBook after her tabloid team outed Judy as predsexual. She was instantly reminded by how badly that backfired, of course she won more supporters against Hopps, but the bunny got more than her. She was winning the game and Bellwether hated it. And now it was all Swinton’s fault!
She pressed her hoof on her speaker connected to her personal little manservant. “Matthew, get me the green vodka.” She received a yes and felt relieved. The panda was more like a sheep than she was! always wanting to follow the herd. She felt bad for him when he was the only predator to even apply for the job to drive her around and wait on her. She suspected he used that time to watch his shows and EweTube videos. And besides; having a predator near her help raise numbers. Created the illusion of inclusion. “Look at me! I don’t hate preds! I have one standing next to me!”
It used to.
She had to guess he was a Hopps supporter behind her back. But if she fired him now it would only bite her back later with how low her support was right now.
But that wouldn’t matter soon, it was almost time. She just needed things to reach critical mass.
And then everyone would sing her praise.
She made her way further through the summer photos. They had started to feature the fat fox more; it must have been around the time their disgusting relationship started after her family let him live with them. She hated it. Why? What did that bunny see in him? It had to be something other then her predator fetish.
Then there were the beach photos.
Photo after photo of the Hopps clan in swimwear. The kits playing, the adults splashing. The fox in a few shots either dry or mildly wet. She had to guess he was scared of the collar. They were water proof but water was water, and if the collar were to go off it would shock that much more , as well as shock others in the water.
She flipped more and more and she began to notice something. Something that hit her full force in the next picture.
The fox was shirtless. In shorts. In a shot that showed of his whole body obscured. She tried not to pay attention to his thick furry arms, or his soft looking gut. His legs.
Suddenly bellwether recognized a sensation she only felt when she was at home browsing on her phone before she showered.
“Oh no…” she thought. “He’s hot!”
She contemplated saving the photo to her “special” library, but Matthew just walked in, drink in hand. She scrambled to change tabs. Appearing to be lazy was better than anyone seeing her like this. “Swinton is on her way up mam.” She thanked him. He left. And she changed back to the tab. She absorbed his image. She changed to the next. And the next. Stopping to save any solo pictures of him for “review” later. She suddenly hated Swinton more. And herself just a bit.
The doors opened to reveal Swinton. “What are you doing Dawn?” The pig asked in familiar tone that friends would use. Witch right now they were not. Bellwether once again scrambled to close the tab. “nothing just…” she looked for a reply. She had nothing. “Just some porn.” Swinton gave her a quizzical look. “O-o-ok, so, you wanted to talk to me?” She did. She did a month ago when she had made the attempt to get Judy killed.
And then Swinton had the gall to take a vacation and not call back!
“Yes. I want to talk to you about why you went behind my back, and had Judy Hopps attacked without my approval!”
“Your approval? She was beginning to win! She had to be removed.”
“It was too obvious! Doug was only supposed to record her supporter’s faces for us. Mammals already suspect us and now you’ve legitimized them! And just to top the cake; Bogo is on to us, the ZPD is against us!” she took a breath. “They saw Doug! Their on the lookout for a ram! And Judy Hopps can’t be found!”
“I trying to help us win Dawn! She was winning! So what if they suspect us more? That buys us more time to make things right! You can’t get rid of me now!”
Bellwether had enough. “They have a sample!” Swinton’s frustration halted. “When you called Doug, we had no plan. He panicked and had to disable the fox’s collar with the Night howler!” She took off her glasses and rubbed her face. “Go to the labs. Make sure it’s on schedule to be ready by the concert. We will talk about this later after we cool down.”
“is this your way of saying I’m on a time out?”
Swinton walked off, fuming. If she was in charge, they wouldn’t even have to deal with predators. She didn’t even know why Bellwether even had any working in the capital building. She walked passed the panda she saw every time Dawn when somewhere. His face stuffed into a laptop playing Seal Universe. She needed to reminded herself to mark him for Doug. He might say no since bellwether was bound to have Doug call her for confirmation. But if a predator on their side went savage it might just even things out for the public.
In her office, Bellwether sighed and pressed the button again “Matthew…book me for a spa day tomorrow.”
Judy wasn’t sure how long she had been walking in the Detention facility, she must have gotten lost. But her luck seemed to turn when she came into the hallway Gideon was kept in. She walked down for a while more down the corridor, the other predators eyes watching her. She couldn’t see what species they were; but she could hear them. Weak raspy breaths, whines and claws lightly tapping the floor and pathetically striking the glass.
Then she came up to his cell. The glass door open
And he was their lying on his side, fully clothed, facing her. The room seemed to disappear. Nothing else mattered. Gideon needed her! She rushed over to him and lifted his head.
“Judy?” his voice, thick as molasses and as sweet as sugar, she felt so happy to hear his voice again. “Y-You came back!” She hugged him taking in his warmth. “A-a-after what I-I-I did you came back!” She missed his dorky stutter. She needed to comfort him. She needed to save him. “I’m not gonna let go Gideon. I’m never gonna let you go.” she held him closer.
“Theirs so much Blood Judy!” she felt an icky dampness between them. She pulled away, but didn’t let go. “Theirs too much of it.” she wasn’t sure how she never noticed the blood. His face was caked in it. Dry, brown, black, dead blood. Its rank smell giving her a headache.
It was hers. All of it was hers.
“I’m sorry Judy! I just hurt you all over again.” his face was wet.
He wasn’t next to her anymore.
“Do ya honestly love me?” Judy couldn’t respond.
“Am I just another mammal for you to save from the bad guys!” She wanted to speak.
But she couldn’t.
“Are you afraid of me?”
Gideon’s face turned pained.
“Your still just playing cop after all!” He ran. She ran
“Gideon, Come back!” As she chased after him the darkness turned into a part of the burrows she hated being in.
The apartment. The crowd. The megaphone in her paw. A stolen cruiser. Her training uniform.
He was standing high above her. She was on the ground.
She knew the words. She said the words!
But this time words failed her.
He didn’t. He never did.
But this time he did.
Judy felt hot in her blanket. She gave a frustrated groan. Normally she would like to fall back asleep, but today she dreaded it. Her mind fell back on the nightmare she just had. It was all fleeting and vague, but one part stuck out like a jagged thorn in her memory.
“Do ya honestly love me?” Of course she did. Didn’t she? Why did those words resonate?
He wasn’t “just another mammal for you to save from the bad guys!” She needed to get up already before she entered some kind of existential coma.
She removed her blankets and sat up, taking in what was her room for the past week. The room would have been small to a larger mammal. The walls were dirty. The desk stained with the condensation from cups without coasters. The carpet floor the same as both. She had done her best to fix it. But even her mothers legendary skills could not murder the echo of the demon who slept in this room.
Her mom gave nick an earful about living condition hygiene, although he was pleased with how much they were able to clean it. “It hasn’t looked this clean since the day I got it! And it was covered in mildew and plants!”
The room was drenched in his stench for the first few days. It was like Gideon’s. All foxes had a smell that was thick, but like any mammal, everyone had a smell that was their own. It was just harder for mammals outside of ones own species to detect. Judy wished she could point out the big difference other then it being diluted.
She left the room and stepped outside into the repurposed office building housed inside the abandon factory indoor amusement park. She stepped up to the balcony. It was a high up office box. Most likely were the workers would have been supervised from. The entire first floor down the steps was consumed by Honeys little “you cant hide any secret from me” surveillance monitors. Cameras pointed everywhere throughout the park, outside, and no doubt her new room. With Honey staring red eyed at computer playing. Munching on a Bug-Burger. She walked down into her domain.
“Don’t be worried about your foxy friend.” She took a bite. “They don’t do much to hurt them in the facility.” She swallowed. “worst they’ll do is test a phony cure on him and call it a failure.” Judy was nonplussed. “how did you know I was-” Honey pressed a remote and a video of her room rewound. “you didn’t actually say anything, but boy! That upset scowl! And who else would you be worried about? You know other then Bellwether having a car watching your family in the burrows”
“Oh don’t act supersized. Its the logical choice for her to make. Lucky for you your family is just bonkers boring farmers, so, not that much scandal materiel their.” Judy would normal take much more offense to that statement. But something else needed her attention. “Did you just say Supersized?”
“I’ve been up for 72 hours sue me.”
Judy apologized and left the office down the stairs to the actual park. The rest of her day waiting.
Clawhauser was working on the rides again. Every day was the same with him. A day to live up, and maintain the rides with his fur smeared in grease and oils. He was working on the twirl-a-thon today. “Hi Judy! Did you enjoy last night!” she smiled back at his fat friendly face. “It was just great Ben! I’m starting to get used the excitement here at night.”
“you know instead of admiring it from the office you could come down and partake?” Judy would like to. But she felt like the amusements were meant only for predators. “Its like I said. I wouldn’t want some kid to miss the time of his life just because some bunny wanted a free pass.”
“That’s exactly what I told you Carrots.” Nick stepped from behind the twirl-a-thon, also covered in oils. “Wild times was built by preds, for preds. Even then theirs the compatibility issue. The theming of the rides. I doubt you could even keep up with the howl along. Unless your hick boy-toy gave you lessons” Judy felt her frustrations come back, remembering why she needed to avoid him. “Also, I know people who would want you to owe them a favor.” She wondered why. But maintaining an illegal park, meant their was illegal loans. “like who?”
Her thoughts were interrupted by a deep resonance, booming and echoing though the indoor park. A voice.
“Nick! Come on man don’t be rude. Shes a bunny, not a moron.” Judy turned to the new voice.
It was a small fennec fox. He would have looked like a child at a glance if it weren’t for the beer can in his paws. “Hey Fin! Whats today’s good news?” The smaller fox’s expression remained unchanged. “Their is no good news with Big Nick. But your lucky he found out about her.” he lifted a finger at the rabbit, and Judy felt like her life was once again in danger. “Me?” Benjerman and Nick gave her a their attention.”what I do?”
A small raspy voice broke whatever calmness nick and his friends had. “Nothing that’s your fault my dear.” A polar bear in a suite walked up to them and stopped. His hands clasped in front of his belly opened to reveal a shrew in a appropriately sized chair.
Finnick spoke up. “koslov’s kid saw her up watching from the office from one of the rides. Big took notice on how no one could find that bunny and figured it out.” Judy felt shame despite herself. Nick could be in trouble now. Even his smirk was absent.
“Now that we know shes your guest, it opens opportunity’s for us we would be remiss to ignore.” he turned to nick. “we want to reopen the discussion of your debt Wilde. And what she can do for us in exchange for our help in her campaign.”
All eyes were on nick now. “So whats the revised version?” Big spoke “We want to talk with her about going easy on our…Enterprises…when she hits office. If not, we want our money paid back in full before the end of the year.” Judy felt put on the spot. She wasn’t going to become a corrupt mayor before she even starts! She was about to speak up when nick suddenly broke into a sly smile.
“She wont need to. When she becomes mayor, she will have the power to make this giant money sink legitimate! And when its legitimate, pray will have to be let in! And they outnumber us ten to one! we’ll make that much more money! So by years end, baring the money to clean this place up and add new attractions, you’ll have your money back with extra!”
“your clever wild. That’s why I like you. I am satisfied for now. Miss Hopps, as much as I would have liked you to owe me a favor, it would still benefit me if you won the race regardless. I only came here to make sure Nick kept his part of the bargain. So I will provide you my help regardless. No charge.”
“Thank you for the offer Mr Big. But I would hate it if bellwether had more ammunition to use against me.” Big smiled. “Then come to my daughters wedding. I have a habit of inviting famous mammals, so it would not be suspicious. I will share with you what I know their. Just know that Bellwether and Swinton will be their too.”
The rest of the day went by as it usually did, save for Finniks new presence. His voice clashing with nicks on occasion. Honey boasting about having a recording of Judy “having tea with cthulhu.” Benjamin eating a box-full of doughnuts after completing the repairs. Her mom discovering about the wedding and going on about what to wear.
And the whole time Nick was with her mom talking about Judy. And she did her best to ignore how dangerously close they sounded like they were flirting. And no doubt her mom was getting ideas. Rabbits, like most species that breed prodigiously, approached sex differently then other mammals. One could be faithful to their significant other and still have sex with others. She wasn’t sure if Nick knew about this.
Ew. Being reminded of her mother’s active sex life was bothersome when when it was with her dads siblings and other mammals around bunny burrow. But Nick and her mom was just disgusting! Then it dawned on her. Gideon had lived with them for a while. Who’s to say she hasn’t thought about doing the do with him!? Get the idea of foxy fun times from smelling him!? Or her bothers and sisters thinking the same! His thick smell was allover the place!
Oh Serendipity! She infected her family with foxy fever!
She needed a drink. Lucky for her the park was closed tonight and the “Wilde gang” liked to sit around a campfire in the indoor park. Everyone was there. Her mom, Clawhouser, Finnick, Honey, and Nick. Trading stories and having a good time with cheap beers and snacks.
“So Ben, what's your big story?” Her mother asked. “Well, my boyfriend and I finally had a video chat to talk about going to see a movie together!” He gave a chipper laugh. Nick gave him a friendly pat on the back while Honey and Finnick wooed. “He still said he wasn’t comfortable about publicly showing pride but he said getting seats that happen to be together would be a good place to start to working towards it.” Judy had to know. “Why do you need to hide? who’s the lucky mammal?” Clawhouser blushed and twiddled his digits. “Oh hes just a pray I met on an online form, we shared ideas and other stuff. Then we started video chatting and then we just noticed how our banter started becoming a little…suggestive.”
“Oh I know that.” Bonnie spoke up. “I have almost three hundred kids, and I see the stuff they text and talk about with their friends. Then I let Gideon live with us and suddenly their asking each other “Are preds bigger then rabbits? I think I’m predsexual!” Or my personal favorite “Do you think Gideon would be open to the idea?”
Judy palmed her face. Dragging her lower lids and exposing the flesh to the cool air. “Dear god mom! Its not like you were immune!”
“Well who’s fault is that? Hm? I wasn’t the one to drag a fox to our front door begging for him to have a place to stay.” They laughed.
Nick broke into the conversation. “So you literally Dragged your Boy-toy to meet the family, I don’t know if you know this, but you don’t normally bring your fun time friend with benefits to meet the family.” Judy have him a glare. “Hes my boyfriend! Not my Boy-toy! It may not be traditional, or even natural for all you care, but I love him.” Nick narrowed his brow and gave her a smirk.
Clawhouser tried to defuse the situation.“uh guys come on we were just having a good time.”
“You wanna know what I honestly think. I think hes just another mammal for you to save from the bad guys!”
Judy stopped. She just stopped.
He cant be. He wasn’t. Gideon wasn’t.
She couldn’t think. When did she fall in love. Why did she love him.
And then she got mad.
Her voice was deliberate and clear at first. “So what? So what if he is? So what if I just fooled myself into thinking I love him? At least I’m helping him! Not like the mammals who should have, and left him to on his own!” her voice was breaking. “A-all that time after his parents died, only him and his grandma! And me! The girl who hated him for all those years till I-I saw what was happening! When I couldn’t ignore him being pushed around anymore.”
“Judy” Bonnie needed to help her daughter. The other staring at her.
She started sniffing. “And I became his friend. The only fox in Bunny Burrow. When everyone wanted to just forget him. All around high school it was just me being his friend in the small ways that mattered to him. And I caused so much more grief for him when he realized what I meant to him. Cuz he was scared that I would hurt him. Just like his father hurt him.”
Nick watched her closely. Watched her slow down.
“And I was scared too! That day! Th-That stupid day after training! Th-that stupid day he just couldn’t take anymore. And I saved him! I said the words and he went back in and I came to him and hugged him and cried with him.”
She took shaky breaths. And then Nick asked her. “Do you love him?” Because he honestly wanted to know.
“That’s what I’m so scared of, that I might actually not love him. All of my life I romanticized justice, and saving people from injustice. And Gideon was the face I used for it. He was the bad guy! How could I love someone I hated for so long, after he marred my face and put down my dreams.” Nick realized he was becoming invested. But he needed to hear more.
“What changed. What do you think made you “think” you love him”
“Seeing him in high school after the collars came. He was an angry kid with no way to vent. So I became his friend and listened to him. And then collage came for me and he lived with his grandma. And at the end I had to make a choice to either stay with him or go live my dream.” She closed her eyes and sighed.
“I made a mistake.” Bonnie clasped her paws over judys. “He was alone in the end.”
“That day. That day when my friend Sharla called me after police training that he was going to jump. I stole a cruiser and I saw him up their. I said the words that saved his life. And I realized as I spoke that I loved him, and when we hugged he told me he was scared that he loved me. And I promised him I would never leave him alone again.”
Nick sat there. Absorbing her story. The he spoke. “All right. You’ve convinced me. No one acts like you do without love making you stupid enough to try and fix the world just for one guy. Congratulations Carrots. I’m gonna make it up to you.” Judy wiped her face with a tissue Clawhouser had handed her. “how are you gonna make it up to me?” She stated in a disbelieving tone. “After all those jabs at me and Gideon?” he sat down next to her.
“First. Ill share you my sob-story. Then I’m gonna get you drunk and happy. And finally, ill let you hit me all you want after the hangover.
“lets change up that order.” She slugged him in the arm. It took him a moment to register it. “Ow.” He stated almost plainly. “Let me have one free pass a day until I think you’ve made it up to me Slick.” She smiled
He smiled back. “That I can do Carrots.”
“I was maybe eight or nine and, all I wanted to do was join the junior ranger scouts…”
Judy was once again their. With the Mega-phone and the stolen cruiser. He was standing outside the window on a ledge.
She knew the words.
She took the breath she took before.
She said the words.
“Gideon, I know that it looks bad. And guess what, its not. Its not OK! Nothing is fine. But you cant jump. If you do, you’ll just be another predator on the newspaper. And everyone will forget you.”
She kept herself from trembling.
“But your not just another predator! Your Gideon Gray! Your scared, I know. But so am I. The world just seems to get worse and worse and I know it looks like theirs no end. We have to make it end! Not in one big moment, but in the small ways. You showed me that!”
she took the steps toward him. His eyes were on him.
“I used to see you as the bad guy. Then I saw you as a kid who was in pain. And now your my best friend! You changed me and I changed you! Your Mr Superman! You made a bunny see why she wanted to be a cop! But if it means I abandon my best friend, then I don’t want it anymore.”
they stared at each other forever. “I’m going up. Please talk to me.”
She saw him go back in. and she walked in the apartment. And she rushed up the stairs. And ran to his room.
And their he was, curled up against the wall, sobbing to himself. She looked at him and he looked at her. And she walked to him. He shifted to kneel to her height.
And they hugged. Rubbing and patting each others backs. Whispering comforts to each other. His apology for hurting her again. Her apology for leaving him. And then he said the words.
“I think I love you Judy.”
“I think I do too. And I’m never letting you go.