One-Hundred Percent - Part 1
The fox was distinctly uncomfortable in the passenger side of the gray car as it pulled into another turn on the cliff side road that apparently led to their destination. He wasn’t sure what he expected, in all honestly. If the rabbit who drove the car in silence lived out here, it was no wonder he had decided to become a cop. The pay must have been amazing to afford such a lofty abode, with a view of Zootopia that would remind anyone of how magnificent the city was when seen from the outside. What he saw – what he remembered – was another reason to question what he had been told. It was another example of how a fox like him would never reach the height promised by such a view; because of the city may have sparkled like a star when seen from a distance but it lost a great deal of its luster when seen from below. When seen through the eyes of those who lived on the streets, being thrown out of one business or another, being harassed by cops, watching mammals cross the street just to avoid being on the same sidewalk when he passed. That was the Zootopia he knew, the one he remembered.
Not one where he was a cop.
His disposition was not helped by the fact that his head ached the longer he kept his eyes open. Even the large, extra dark sunglasses that the hospital had provided him with before leaving were not helping to block out all of the ache caused by the perfectly clear and bright winter’s day. He leaned back in the seat, aware that the motion drew the attention of the rabbit again. Everything he did seemed to draw her attention. She was watching his every move with a twitching nose and eyes that were too intent and focused and… He couldn’t really read what he saw on her face, in the high set of her ears. He didn’t know enough about rabbits. But it didn’t take a genius to figure out that she didn’t trust him. He had seen the fox repellent she had worn with that tight little uniform, after all. He let his eyes fall closed.
“Officer, I’m afraid that we can’t know when his memory will begin to return, or if it ever will. In cases like this, it could be as simple as waiting a few days for something to trigger a memory. But you have to be prepared for the actuality that he may never regain them at all.”
The throb in his head was dulled by the medication they had given him, and they clearly thought that he was asleep as they conversed just outside of the hospital room. He allowed them to continue thinking that, his eyes closed, his ears motionless but already directed towards the door. Why was the rabbit cop here, anyway? The last thing he remembered was… Was the naturalist’s club. She had gotten the information she needed from the chronically high alpaca, and he had followed the poor little mammal outside. But beyond that, nothing. He assumed they parted ways: her returning to being the best-darned meter maid she could, and him returning to the streets.
Why the idea made him so excruciatingly sad, he didn’t understand.
The grind of gravel under the tires drew him back to the present and had him opening his eyes. It was an action that he didn’t want to regret, but did when the light lanced through the glasses, pierced his cornea, and seemed to focus on the back of his skull as an agonizing pain. The groan was unavoidable, quick and pained as he raised his paws to rest them on either side of his head. He nearly whimpered as the world around him swam slowly, his gut clenched and he felt the panic begin to rise when it just didn’t stop!
The silky touch of a small paw on his forearm was felt, and the panic retreated. He kept his eyes closed, and didn’t pull away when soft fingers stroked down the length of his arm slowly. The fact that the touch felt knowing, felt good surprised him on every level. Only because it calmed his panic, and soon even the pain, prevented him from pulling away at first. He tilted his head forward, leaning forward to ease nausea that came with the pain and opened his eyes to stare at his own khaki-clad legs when the soft paw moved to his back.
“It’s all right, partner,” came her soft voice, causing his eyes to close again when she called him partner again. It just sounded so alien to be called that by someone who clearly had nothing but distaste for foxes. “You can take some medicine once we’re inside. The doctors...”
“Don’t call me that,” he interrupted, even though he knew that the pain and confusion were feeding his irritation. That didn’t stop him from shrugging his back away from her touch when the pain began to fade, and to his relief, she drew it back without complaint.
Without… Anything. Without a word, without a sound, without a snippy remark or witty comeback, which she had proven to be almost as good at as he was. There was just silence in the car, except for the sound of his own breathing and the throbbing in his head. When he rolled his head enough to rest his gaze on her, he saw her looking down at her paws in silence. Paws that were twisted together, wringing against one another so hard that her arms trembled. Or maybe the tremble came from her shoulders, which shook a little when she drew in a breath that hitched at the end before she released it slowly.
“The doctors said that the pain would fade,” she said in a soft voice when she raised her eyes to him again. “The light sensitivity is normal with a head injury like this, so it will help if we get you out of the sun and into a dim room.”
Turning his gaze away from her, in part because he didn’t want to see the misery that was so plainly written on the cute little meter maid’s face. Knowing that he was somehow the cause, he squinted when he looked out of the window towards the house; or the entrance to the house, anyway. It was a DenHouse, with the entrance, a garage, and some windows visible from the outside while the majority of the home was underground. It was something of an oddity outside of BunnyBurrow, but if he was honest with himself, being underground away from the sun would be a blessed thing right now. Then the thought struck him that he had no idea what officer Hippity Hopps’ home life was like.
“So,” he began in a slow drawl that came out a little drunker than he intended. “Is this where I meet the family? Again? You got a buck in there? Twenty or so kits waiting for mommy to get home? Am I called ‘Uncle Nick’ or something?”
He heard the car door open on her side, and by the time he had turned his gaze to where she had been sitting, all he got was a fresh shot of pain when the door was slammed a lot harder than it needed to be.
He was a cop.
The pictures on the wall told the story, even if he couldn’t bring himself to believe it. A graduation ceremony, where the little bunny in a dress uniform – who was obviously no longer a meter maid, making him feel like a little bit of an ass for what he had told her a few days before. No. Not a few days before. He had to remember that – was pinning a shining brass shield to his crisp blue uniform on a bright day. Green eyes lingered for a long moment, seeing the smile on his muzzle as he puffed out his chest. He looked like a cheesy idiot, but a happy cheesy idiot. His gaze drifted to the selfie that he himself had taken from inside of what appeared to be a ZPD cruiser, capturing both him and the bunny as she rolled her eyes skyward from the driver’s seat. Newspaper clippings, the most striking of which was the framed front page report that was headlined “Heroic ZPD Officer Stops Plot Against City’s Predators” complete with a picture of her proudly standing beside him. He was even wearing the shirt and tie that he had been wearing the day they met, and the day after. The only slightly faded report under it started, “Officer Judith Hopps of the ZPD, with the help of local fox, Nicholas Wilde, uncovered a plot to turn Zootopia against the predator population…”
“I, Nicholas Wilde…”
He turned his gaze away from the wall, walked over to the couch in the center of the living room, where a fire was going in the stone hearth. It cut the chill of the winter’s day and give the house the warm and welcome scent of burning oak. He sat comfortably on the L-shaped couch as he reached into the cardboard box that Hopps had brought him from his own house. It was filled with this and that, little pieces of his career. The yellow ceremonial shoulder cord he had worn at his graduation, some less impressive clippings. He drew the wooden framed case out of the box again and held it with a silent reverence for a moment. His name was engraved on a silver plaque at the bottom of the cover, and through the glass, he could see the medals of service from the ZPD. He knew what each one of them meant, even though he wasn’t sure how he knew, and what each one of them would be awarded to an officer for. One was The Cross of Valor, another The Purple Heart, and one for outstanding community service above and beyond.
“…promise to be brave, loyal, helpful…”
No memories came with any of it. And while a part of him, the same part of him that had wanted to be more than just a fox since he had been a kit, wanted it all to be true, he still couldn’t see it. It was like watching a TV show where the hero looked like him but wasn’t him. He saw himself in the pictures, and it was like looking into the eyes of a stranger. A stranger who was brave where he was a coward, who was strong where he was weak, a fox who wasn’t being held down by some stupid event in his childhood and had made something of himself. He saw his name on the case with the medals but didn’t feel like he had earned them. This wasn’t him. This wasn’t Nick Wilde, who’s only real accomplishment had been figuring out that he could cheat tiny rich mammals out of their money with a simple pawsicle scam that took advantage of the Size Variation Consideration laws in the food market.
What had changed? What was different? Was it the bunny? The annoying ball of cuteness and fluff that he would have ditched a long time ago if she hadn’t managed to hustle him? The same bunny who carried around fox repellent had made insulting remarks about articulation and hadn’t batted an eyelash at the idea of forcing him to follow her around on some ridiculous otter hunt just because he had managed to outsmart the tax system.
It was… Wrong. All of it. He should just pack it up, leave this nice little house outside of the city and get back to the life he knew. He could pick up the hustle again. His customers were sure to be glad to have their old vendor back at the end of a hot day in Savanna Central, and he was sure Finnick would still be around. He would just need some start up cash. Maybe the rabbit had something here. Some money stashed away, or something she wouldn’t notice was missing until he had…
The fox sat silently in the living room of the house he didn’t know, staring down at the medals he didn’t remember earning, and thought of the life he wasn’t sure was his. And decided that if there was even the smallest chance that it was true, and that this was his life…
Trust. Integrity. Bravery.
…That he would do anything to keep it.
His fingers rested over the keys of the keyboard in the silent bedroom, his eyes narrowed in concentration as he tapped his thumb over the Spacebar without actually pressing it. He tried again. ZPD4life. No. Carrotcake. No. BunnyBorrow. No. MeterMaid. No. Rolling his eyes a bit, he tapped in tryeverything. He was mildly surprised when the answer was again ‘The password is incorrect. Reset Password?’
He frowned for a moment, considering the idea of seeing what her security question was before he dismissed it. Something about it all felt wrong, anyway. Sitting in her bedroom while she was off at work, doing the cop thing that he still couldn’t remember, trying to hack into her computer. If he called the sad attempts at guessing her password hacking. He rolled his neck for a moment, feeling only the slightest ache in the back of his head from staring at the computer screen for so long. He only wanted to see if he could find some clues, some hints of what their partnership had been like. Case files, photos saved on the hard drive, E-mails. Anything he could find without telling her, so he didn’t feel that expectant gaze lingering on him as she waited to see if he would remember anything. His ears twitched, that ever present feeling of nervousness making him hyper alert. Sort of like a kit sneaking into his dad’s porn drawer while dad was away, expecting to get caught at any moment while looking at the pictures of naked bunnies; with their gray and white fur exposed, ears folded back in an adorably sexy way, thighs spread just enough so the…
Wait, vixens. Where had bunnies come from?
“Ugh,” he grumbled as he looked around the bedroom for a long moment in silence. He had been living in this house with her for too long already, spending too much time with her. It had become a routine. She would come home from work; they would carefully dance around each other without actually saying much. She would gently press him to reveal if he remembered anything, and he would say that he didn’t, which was the truth. Depending on how he was feeling, he would either share a meal with her on opposite sides of the couch over small talk about her day on the force – something that they both hoped might jog his memory – or he would deny and retreat into the guest room. He had found himself avoiding the second option the last two nights because even as she tried to hide it, she always looked a little sad when he turned her down.
It was unnerving, the way the sight of her bright amethyst eyes losing just a bit of that light made him feel unhappy himself. Or the fact that when her ears trembled with the effort to keep them upright after he had snapped at her just the night before, he wanted to reach out and touch them. Still them. Soothe them. Finding himself wanting to comfort her when his mission only days before in his mind had been to tear her down and show her the reality of the world.
His gaze drifted to the bed where he knew she slept every night. The uninteresting blue and white sheets, the fluffy pillows, the size of it. A little smirk crawled over his muzzle as he took in the oversized bed, which was more than large enough for multiple bunnies. This led him to think that she might have company now and then, a friendly romp with a buck or two maybe. He wasn’t even aware of the little twitch of his muzzle until he realized it had curled before he tamped down on the strange anger made him want to rush over to sniff the damned bed to prove his own wandering mind wrong. Why was he even thinking about these things? He was supposed to be looking for clues; something to help him find out why he was here, what he was supposed to be remembering that he couldn’t remember in his own damn house. Not worrying about whether or not Hopps brought home a boy bunny to play with now and then.
Releasing an annoying 'tsk' at himself, he gave up on the computer and stood. Shoving his paws into his pockets and just stood there in silence, trying to remember… Something. His paws balled into fists, shaking with frustration when as usual nothing came.
“I’m not sure if it would be a good idea to tell him everything,” the conversation outside of his door continued. The slow beeping of the machines beside him combined with the drugs in his system was slowly lulling him to sleep, but he held it off as he tried to focus on the conversation. Not an easy task as the pain in his head throbbed and threatened to blind him again. What had happened again? The doctor said he had been… Hit? Someone had hit him from behind. He had enemies, but aside from Mr. Big, he couldn’t think of anyone who actually wanted him dead.
“But he doesn’t remember anything about the past three years,” came the softer, trembling voice of the bunny cop. His lips curved into a tired smile as he let his eyes slip closed. Bunnies were very emotional.
“Oh, you bunnies. So emotional.”
The words slipped out easily, a mumbled whisper that came with the shadow of memory. Was it a memory? He couldn’t focus on it, couldn’t grasp it fully. Hopps. No, Judy.
He felt such relief, such affection for her. For his friend, as she rubbed her paw over a tear streaked cheek and started to drag her feet as she moved towards him…
And that was it. Four seconds of memory. Four seconds of memory that slowly went from shadowy and distant to clear as he focused on the details. The heat of the sun on his fur; the earthy, humid smell under the bridge mixed with the scent of rabbit, familiar and warm in his nose; the look of hope on her face when she wiped her own tears away, wearing blue jeans and a candy plaid shirt that made her look every bit the carrot farmer he had teased her about being. And the carrot pen in his paw.
The pen. He stared down at his empty paw pad for a moment, as if he expected it to be there again. Where was the pen? Why had he been holding it? Had she given it to him, let him off the hook in the end? Was that why she had been crying? He hadn’t seen her wear it on her uniform when she left for work every morning, so maybe he still had it. The box! Maybe he had missed something.
Starting towards the door to the bedroom, he paused when his eyes grazed over the side table beside the bed. Walking over to it hesitantly, feeling an odd little kick in his heart that made his ears fall back as he reached out. His fingers closed on the tiny brass knob of the drawer, feeling the cool metal as something like dread tried to crawl over him before he pulled it open and leaned over to peek inside. It was surprisingly empty. A notepad, a black comb with a few strands of loose gray fur stick in the teeth, and the bright orange and green of the toy-like carrot pen. He picked it up with his thumb and forefinger gingerly, examining it for a moment as he considered the idea that it might not even be the same pen at all. But it was a recorder, with a clever little button on the side just right for tricking over confident foxes into helping sly little bunnies. He pushed the button and listened to his own voice come out of the speaker on the side.
“Of course I do, one-hundred percent.”
Playback number… Something. It was likely in the hundreds, at least. Trying to glean some small flash of memory from the words, some event to tie them to. Maybe a case they had worked on, or just some offhand comment; a promise he had made, or a joke; talk about loving his mother even crossed his mind, or an invitation back to meet her parents – the parents that had seemed delighted, if a little nervous, to speak to him over MuzzleTime on her phone a few nights before – or any number of things. But eventually, he had given up on trying to understand what the words meant. Now he just listened to them in hopes that they would trigger a memory.
“Of course I do, one-hundred percent.”
“Of course I do, one-hundred percent.”
A small paw came to rest over his with a surprisingly strong grip on his thumb, preventing him from playing it back again. With a weary sigh, he rolled his eyes towards the tiny bat-eared fox sitting on the stool beside him, one dark brow quirked as he tugged his paw away.
“Give it a rest, Nick,” the always surprisingly deep voice came before the smaller mammal took a sip of his beer, sharply eyeing the carrot pen with annoyance. “You’ve played that back forty-seven times since we sat down, fox. Did you bring me here to torture me or something?”
“Sorry,” Nick said, though his tone came through just as sarcastic as the apology was. “I’m still trying to remember my life for the past three years. Did you want to talk about your feelings or something, Fin?”
“Fuck you, man,” the smaller fox grumbled, taking another pull from the bottle before he reached up to set it on the bar-top. Nick watched as he turned in his stood to face him. Like himself – wearing his hustling outfit of khakis, a yellow shirt and striped tie to make himself seem harmless – Finnick was wearing the same old outfit; the black and red bowling shirt, shorts, and a scowl. All of which Nick was convinced he had dozens of stashed away in his van, including the scowl. “Look, you said the doc warned you that it could be months or even years before most of it came back. It’s only been a few weeks. Ever think that sitting there listening to the same thing over and over again is messin’ with your head?”
“Yes, because my head is in perfect order as it is,” he snapped back, his ears falling flat as he turned his back on the bar and leaned back against it. Being in a bar wasn’t really helping him. He couldn’t even drink for at least another month, according to the good Doctor Staghorn. Not that he had ever been a heavy drinker, to begin with, but something to do other than staring at the bar would be nice. He shook his head with a sigh and raised one paw to rub his eyes. “Sorry, sorry. I’m not even supposed to be out here, you know. I was feeling like I was under house arrest. It’s been three weeks, and all I have it this tiny memory, a box full of awards and pictures that belong to some fox that I don’t even remember. And I’m living in the same house with a bunny who looks at me like she’s hoping I’ll just suddenly remember everything at any minute. That her partner would be back, and we could go back to playing cops and robbers when I feel like I am the robber!”
“Yeah, it’s gotta be real rough,” he heard Finnick say with a slow sigh before Nick felt the surprisingly painful smack of a fist against his bicep that caused him to wince away. “I know you’re not that stupid, fox. Yeah, three years is a long time, I get it. So what? Now you think the best move is to pick up a life you already left behind instead of trying to get the one you’re missing back?”
He grunted slightly, looking down at the orange and green pen in his paw in silence for a few seconds before he shrugged slightly. “Nah. You’ve moved on, right? Not like I can find another grouchy old fox to dress up like a cutesy little baby to hustle lemmings out of a few bucks.”
“Yeah. And you were real cute in your uniform up on stage, looking at that bunny like she was…”
Nick glanced back at him when the bat-ears fox paused, his brow creasing a bit as he tried to fill in the blanks himself while his friend took a drink while looking uncomfortable. Like she was… What? His friend? His partner? What else could she possibly be?
“Your relationship with Officer Wilde is unique,” he heard the doctor say, in a voice that was obviously trying to soothe while remaining professional. Distant now, growing dim as the blackness started to cloud his eyes even when he forced them open. Relationship? He strained to focus, strained to hear more. “Imagine yourself in his place, seeing the world before you became partners. This has to be treated very delicately, or he may reject memories that he believes are impossible. Maybe even run from them.”
“Nick? Nick, you still with me in there?”
The sound of his friend’s voice drew him back into the bar, and once there he realized that his paw was clenched so hard that he could feel the bite of his claws in his palm pad. He released the grip and shook his paw out a few times to ease the mild sting before he turned to lean against the bar again. Glancing over, he noticed the vixen at the other end of the bar giving him the once over. Then the twice over, as a little smile curved her attractive muzzle when she seemed to like what she saw.
“Yeah, I’m still with you,” he muttered and giving the vixen a one over himself. Slender, pretty, smoothly groomed with just the right amount of fluff around her neck to make a male want to bury his nose in it and take a deep, deep breath. Her dress wasn’t overly revealing, while still showing enough that he could see the cream color that blended with the shocking red when she crossed her legs. It wasn’t soft gray or silky white. Her scent wouldn’t be sweet enough to make his mouth water.
Why was he thinking that?
“You know, maybe you’re right. I do need to relax. Have a little fun.” That said he drew himself away from the bar and reached over to give Finnick a friendly pat on the shoulder. He tipped his muzzle towards the vixen, who was still eyeing him while she sipped at a fizzy pink drink with her narrow muzzle. “And she looks like she could be all kinds of fun.”
“Nick, what?” the smaller fox said, sitting up straighter as those large ears dropped back fully and a look of near panic came over him. “That’s… Nick, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea, fox. Maybe you shouldn’t be screwin' around. So soon after leaving the hospital, I mean.”
“Clean bill of health, except what’s up here,” Nick said, and reached up to tap the side of his head even as he crossed the bar towards the vixen, who sat up a little straighter and put on a pretty smile just for him. Sliding in to lean against the bar beside her, he reached up to give the knot of his tie a little wiggle upward as he put on a thousand-watt grin. “And that’s why I think you, my dear, may be exactly what I am looking for.”
“Yeah?” she said, in a voice that was every bit as satiny as he had hoped it would be. He followed her muzzle with his eyes when she parted it, seeing just the pink tip of her tongue before she took a slow sip of her drink. A tease, but not an obvious one. He liked a lady with a little class, a little charm of her own. “And what exactly are you looking for?”
“Well,” he said and leaned in a little closer to her. His grin grew a bit when she reached up with one paw and lightly toyed with the collar of his shirt. His nostrils flared just a bit as he took a slow and silent breath of her scent. Not too obvious, but obvious enough for her to lean into him as well. Charming dialog fled his mind when he realized that he had no reaction to the spice of her scent. No rise of excitement. None of the thrill of the chase, the anticipation of verbal sparring followed by a pleasant night pressed fur to fur and flesh to flesh with the beauty in front of him. Nothing. He felt nothing. He wasn’t a fox who ran after every vixen he saw, but when one caught his eye he was always excited no matter the outcome. But everything that came to mind felt more like banter he would rehearse and deliver. An actor in a play, and one that wasn’t even really into the part.
Even knowing that her eyes were on him, waiting for his reply, he licked his lips and tried again. Deep breath, inhale, savor, exhale. Faint perfume, the natural spice of subtle feminine musk. It wasn’t sweet enough, wasn’t earthy enough. It just… Wasn’t enough. Something was missing.
“I’m sorry,” he said at last, and though she looked a bit crestfallen when he stood and drew away from her, she didn’t seem overly angry. “I’m not myself right now. Maybe another time, beautiful.”
Turning quickly, he made his way back over to Finnick and simply leaned against the bar as his friend took another drink of his beer. Staring down at the carrot pen that had found its way back into his paw, he pressed the button again.
“Of course I do, one-hundred percent.”
The morning sun was too damned bright when he stepped out of the cab, a little sway in his step. The zebra cabby grumbled a halfhearted thanks to the acceptable tip he had been given before he drove off. Nick gave a cheerful wave, a click of his tongue and a thumbs up before he wobbled his way towards the front door of the house. A door which was quickly swung open as he stumbled towards it, and he blinked against the light – which was still too damned bright – to see the bunny rushing towards him with a worried look on her face.
“Nick, where have you been?” she demanded and frowned when she stopped in front of him and gave him a once over. No doubt taking note of the fact that his tie was not actually tied, his shirt was half unbuttoned, and he may have unbuttoned his pants at some point so they hung low over his hips. His muzzle was split by a huge smile that showed a great many teeth when the inside of her ears went pinker just before they dropped back. “You’re a mess. And you’re drunk! Have you lost your mind?”
Even as drunk as he was, he could see the instant regret that came with the last part of her questioning. But he didn’t care. She was adorable. Wearing faded jeans and a dark blue T-shirt that had ZPD in gold letters across the front and might have been more than a few sizes too big for her. Taking a step closer to her while managing not to wobble, he placed his paw on top of her head for a good fur ruffling before he stumbled past her and into the house.
“Obviously I’ve lost my mind, Officer Hopps,” he said, and a bubble of laughter to escape him once he was through the front door. “A lot of it anyway. I just have to find it. Did you know… Oh, hello.”
Having spun around to tell his grand revelation, he found himself closer to her than either of them had expected. Her muzzle almost touched his chest in fact, before she lifted her head to look up at him with a quickly twitching nose and a flush in her ears that were now high again. There was a subtle change in her scent almost immediately; one that had a mind confused by liquor and lack of memory to attach it to wasn’t able to identify. A sweetness. Mild, earthy sweetness that had him lowering his muzzle towards her almost on instinct so he could maybe just… Get a better whiff.
Then the twitching nose of the bunny paused. He blinked in confusion when she reached out to snatch one tip of his collar, making him yelp slightly when she almost made him fall as she yanked him down and sniffed deeply at the fabric. He blinked at her when she let the paw slide away easily, looking down at her with only slightly watery vision. Or maybe it wasn’t his vision that was watery: maybe it was the shimmer of tears in eyes that… Oh god, the agony in them made his head jerk back. Seeing her look at him as though he had betrayed her through a haze of tears burned through a great deal of his drunken stupor if only for a second.
“Judy, no no, don’t c…” was about all he got out before he felt the slam of her tiny fist in his gut. Later he would give her credit for having the restraint not to slap him and jiggle his already mangled brain further. But at the moment all he could manage was not to fall over completely, dropping to his knees with one paw catching him to hold him upright as the other went to his roiling guts. The pain of the blow was minor, but the lack of breath and nausea it caused left him sitting there, only able to raise his head enough to watch her storm into her bedroom. She slammed the door with enough force that he heard something fall off the walls and shatter on the ground before he groaned and lowered his head to stop himself from losing what little there was in his stomach on the floor. As he struggled, his muzzle dipped close to his chest to center his vision, he detected a faint scent. A scent that his mind quickly decided was the reason for her violent reaction.
The lingering scent of the vixen.
That morning was the most frightening he could remember since being told that he was missing three years of his life.
After staying locked in her room for the entire day and subjecting him to the sound of on and off crying sessions – every one of which made him feel like a disgusting troll when he didn’t even understand why – she changed the routine that he had gotten used to over the last three weeks. She always woke him up before she left for work, just to make sure that he was all right. Doctor Staghorn had told them two weeks ago that it was fine now; that there was no reason to wake him because there was no longer a significant risk of clotting. But she had continued the familiar ritual, and he had never complained even when the night creature, that he was, wanted to.
But this morning, he woke around noon. Woke to a silence so complete that his mind could only come up with one explanation. The change was so sudden and painful that he listened to the absolute silence of the house for a long moment, certain that something had to be wrong. Something that had him dragging himself out of bed in his boxers and calling her name into the silence of the house. When his own voice was his only reply, he ran immediately to her bedroom and went inside without a thought as to why. He only felt the fear that she had left him.
She couldn’t be gone. She wouldn’t have just left without a word! They had to talk about it, fight it out, fucking yell and scream until their throat hurt and their muzzles ached but she couldn’t just leave him!
The sound of his own anguished cry reverberating through the small room sounded alien to his ears, and when his eyes met the eyes of the fox in the mirror… He didn’t recognize them. The stark fear and desperation that shone back at him were nothing like the Nick Wilde he remembered. There was a need in those eyes, a need that even through his fear of losing the rabbit had him walking towards the mirror and staring at himself. The illusion lasted for only a few seconds, but for just a moment he had been looking at the same fox who had been so proud of the new badge that the bunny pinned to his chest. The same fox that had earned the commendations and medals. The good fox that he had always wanted to be.
And a fox that was terrified that he would never see the sparkle of beautiful violet eyes again.
He took a calming breath when he realized he was looking at his own reflection, not some shadow of the past. Once he was able to tear his gaze away, he started to think. If she had left she would have packed clothes, and if she were leaving for good she would have taken all of them. Ears forced to stand erect, he stalked over to the closet and threw it open. Neatly hung clothes in her size were on one side, while the other side remained bare. Bare, but without empty hangers that may have indicated her taking anything. At the bottom of the closet, he saw empty suitcases; more of them than anyone bunny would need, but no space for one to be missing. He already knew that if he checked the bathroom that her toiletries would be there, toothbrush in place and freshly used, maybe a little soap dispenser by the sink, fur conditioner in the shower. Of course. She was at work. It was Tuesday, and she always worked Tuesday. She hadn’t woken him up, and the change in pattern had confused him. But it was fine. Everything was fine.
With a sigh, he surrendered to the trembling of his muscles as the adrenaline wore off and sat on the edge of the bed, letting his head rest in his paws for a long moment as he breathed in and out deeply. Trying to make sense of the panic, wonder why in the hell he thought that she would have left her own house instead of just kicking the rotten to the core fox out. It wasn’t like his memory was returning by being here. Obviously, the idea that staying with his partner would help his memory return wasn’t panning out the way it was supposed to.
Drawing in a deep breath that was intended to be a calming sigh, he paused when he realized the scent he was breathing was…
Turning to look at the sheets on the bed for a long moment as he drew in another breath, one paw stretched out to slide over the silky sheets. Cool silk met his pads as he smoothed his palm down…
…fur as soft as warm silk. Beautiful gray blending with white where her waist met her belly, writhing under him as he…
... rolled onto the bed, bringing the edge of the sheets to his nose to draw in the scent of her. Not the same as when he smelled her from a distance when she was clean and in uniform. Or from across the table while they ate, or even in the car. This scent was…
...the warm and appealing musk of rabbit. The scent filling his every breath as he nibbled his way along her shoulder and up into the softly humming fur of her throat until he…
…lost himself in the comfort that the scent brought him. He groaned into the sheets. The sound was not sexual, even if the memory that flickered through his mind was. The scent just made him so amazingly happy, calmed every nerve, made him want to wallow in it. How had he missed this? His…
…tongue grazing the bare fur of her chest as a quicksilver thrill of need and love shot through him. The taste of her was just as appealing as the scent. The way she whispered his name…
Another short memory, but it was something. He focused on it again, repeated it over and over again in his mind. He didn’t need to remember the scent of her, he realized. Or the feel of her fur under his paws. Or the taste of her on his tongue. All of that was a fact in his mind already, and the memory had simply awakened that reality. Just the visual, the sounds of her voice, the motions themselves as they had writhed together on this very bed. No sexual pleasure came from it the memories; just the thrill and the pain of remembering as he hugged her pillow close to him and wondered how long it had lasted. How long had she been his lover? When had it ended?
She would have told him if they were still lovers after all. There was no sign of it in the house, nothing of his that was outside of the box. No pictures of them together out of uniform, no scent of him in the bed except for what he left there now. He must have done something to end it. Something stupid, something that only a fox foolish enough to come home smelling like a vixen could have done. Maybe someday he would remember and would be able to apologize for; then there would be a chance to make amends and get the same warmth and happiness he had felt in the memory back into his life. For now, curled up on her bed with her pillow hugged close to his chest and his nose buried in the scent of her, he understood why he had not been interested in the vixen at the bar:
He was in love with Judith Hopps.