or, enter your birth date.*
He wasn’t exactly sure how they had ended up like this.
Well, that wasn’t true; he had a very clear memory of every moment that had taken him from point A to point B, and no doubt those memories would haunt him for some time to come. But that didn’t mean he fully understood why he had his partner pressed against a tree in the Rainforest District, both of her legs hiked up with her paws resting on his thighs to compensate for their height difference as his paw slipped past the now unbuckled waist of her standard issue ZPD slacks. He was obviously as insane as she was, something that he continually tried to convince himself of when his fingers wedged and squirmed their way into her briefs. He almost managed to stop himself, almost managed to think for a moment before the adorable bunny chirred her approval and arched her hips and completed the motion for him. He was dumbfounded when his palm cupped over a heat that he had never felt from a vixen before, and perhaps even more dumbfounded when his middle digit pressed inward all too willingly until he felt that same wet heat wrap around it. This drew a sound he had never heard from from his partner and best friend, sort of a high pitched whimper/cry as her small paws dug into the front of his uniform. Tiny claws gripped and pulled him towards her so hard that he almost slammed his muzzle into the tree he used to prevent them from falling.
The growl that left him came when he suddenly realized that he didn’t care anymore, and the tiny tremble of instinctive fear that raced through the bunny in response only caused his arousal to surge higher. His paw was no longer still as the shock was wiped away by need, pressing against the slick folds of her sex until the tremble of fear was washed away by another delighted sound and her paws once more pulled harshly on the front of his uniform. His free paw grasped the curve of her hip almost too tightly, dragging his partner closer to him so give himself easier access. He could taste her in the air around them now as his nostrils flared to drink in the scent of aroused bunny and his eyes narrowed to slits as he looked down at her. Her pulls were an obvious indication of her need, and that need went far beyond what his fingers could provide. It thrilled him as much as it terrified him.
He wondered if this was how she had seen him when he had gone 'savage' and stalked her in the museum? He certainly felt a little savage at the moment, as he started to pump his paw between her thighs and his finger into her folds. His mouth watered at the sight of dazed, feral pleasure on her face when she whimpered and surrendered herself into his paws. She was so amazingly wet, unbearably hot as she started to rock in time with him, that dainty little muzzle parted and panting as she opened violet eyes to look up at him. There was no proud ‘First bunny on the force’ in those eyes; no happy go lucky, supremely optimistic mammal left in her. Just a need that he understood was real and urgent. The front of his own neatly pressed uniform pants started to feel like a cage as he hardened and if his paws had not been so full of horny bunny, he might have taken the time to reach down and ease the ache that had started the moment she had lost her mind.
This was not how he had pictured this day ending…
“Hopps! Wilde! You’re up!”
The all too familiar voice of the polar bear drill instructor still managed to cause Nick’s stomach to clench. Fond memories of being told exactly how often he had died in the various Districts sang through his mind with all of the appeal of a cackling hyena’s mating call. Not that he didn’t get it. The number of times he had managed to escape death while on the Night Howler case, many of which had been pure luck, had shown him a dangerous side to the city that even he had not been aware of; the side that slick words and a closed off demeanor had not be able to protect him from.
Of course, the very reason for his survival was the brighter side of the coin. Before he even had the time to pull himself out of the too large chair, the grey and white bunny had all but bounced her way into the front of the “Danger Evasion Techniques” class with an exuberance that made her… Her. A cocky little smirk played over his muzzle as he dropped to the floor and walked over at the pace of a lazy stroll until he stood beside her.
“Careful there, Carrots,” he said, his gaze fixed on the class as the drill instructor started to go through her speech about how important it was to evade and distract a larger mammal rather than directly engage. His gaze turned to her as his grin widened just a bit, showing the tips of his canines to the one bunny he was sure would never flinch away from the sight. “You act this happy in every class, and people will start thinking that you like being chased by a fox.”
He found it amazing that she managed to look as adorable as she did when she was doing her best to glare up at him, long ears folded back to match the mostly playful annoyance in her eyes. And because she was wearing that one piece blue on blue on blue outfit that she always wore to these training sessions (he wasn’t even sure exactly what it was called, so he went with ‘workout outfit’ since he had never actually seen her jog wearing it) she was not doing anything to dispel it in his eyes.
“Oh, ha ha,” she quipped in reply, giving him a nice, solid smack in the arm with her tiny fist. It stung, of course. She might have been small, but he knew very well that she packed a punch. As did the huge rhino that sometimes joined them for these little demonstrations. For that matter, so did most of the force by now. Her ears perked and her smile beamed when he reached up to rub at his arm with a grunt. “You know full well that you would never catch me unless I wanted you to.”
His face went perfectly blank and even a little bored when he looked down at her, his mouth opening for his best witty comeback…
“If you two are finished flirting, can we get on with it?” the polar bear groused in an anything but playful tones that had both of them snapping their attention to her.
“Yes, ma’am,” the fox said with a salute that wasn’t entirely sarcastic. “Officer Hopps was simply reminding me that even rabbits find me irresistible.”
This drew snickers from some of the class, which turned into scattered laughter when Judy replied, “I think you misheard me. I said irritating. As in, you’re a pain in my…”
“Enough!” Though the commanding tone itself was broken just a bit by a cough of laughter from the large female. “Just get on with it. Some of us have other things to do today!”
“You never let me catch you,” he reminded her as they turned towards the open mock-up of a Central Zootopia street. He cast another quick grin at his partner, this one far more sincere as he watched her drop down into a run-ready stance with her front paws on the grass, strong legs bunched under her, and her rear in the air. That outfit really did highlight every curve on that little bunny body, didn’t it?
Keep it cool, Nick. Friend and partner. No way you’re going to screw this one up. She doesn’t need to know…
Not so easy to say when she glanced back at him with that bright smile and those sparkling eyes trained on his with challenge in them. “Because that just wouldn’t be as much fun.” With that, she was off like a bolt of grey and blue into the training course. Her head start was meant to be a small one; the course was called ‘Evasion’, not ‘Chase’ after all. So only a little more than a second later he was off after her.
He was faster than her, and they both knew it. The stronger limbs of a predator meant long strides with short gaps between, and wiry muscles that had been honed during academy training propelling his body forward with a speed that had surprised them both when they had first run this little course together. That didn’t mean that she couldn’t more than keep pace, as the wide paws and long legs of her species allowed every thrust of her legs to turn into a long hop, making it seem like she was flying rather than running. Their combined speed drew murmurs of admiration from some of the onlookers, except for the one female cheetah who remained bored and unimpressed.
He tried to anticipate her next move as he gained ground, but that was easier said than done. It wasn’t just about knowing the move she might make, it was about knowing when she would make it. A fact that was proven clearly as she pivoted to the right and dashed off so suddenly that it took him a full half second to even start to turn after her. That half second allowed her to increase the distance enough that he fully lost sight of her when she dove feet first under a car on the pretend street. He had seen this a dozen times, and had learned that the quickest way to catch up was not to go around the car… But over it. A high jump and a quick leap to the hood and he was ready to close the distance again.
But she wasn’t running at the other end of the car as he had expect, which made him pause, his eyes darting from side to side as his muzzle curved into a frown. “Carrots..?”
“Com’on, Wilde! Keep up!”
He whipped around to the sound of her voice and the breathless laughter that came with it, and saw that she had climbed out in the same direction she had entered and was already well on her way to being out of reach. Panting slightly, he rolled his eyes but couldn’t help the grin that formed as he did his duty and reversed direction over the tip of the car. “Sly bunny…”
Then the misstep at the end of the car sent his left paw sliding out from under him and with a solid thump of his knee slamming into the trunk of the car, he went feet over head off the end of the car to land solidly on his back. A growl escaped him as he curled in on himself, his paws gripping his knee as he groaned. The sound of his pained growl and the commotion as the other students called out to ask if he was all right caught her attention, and far quicker than the rest of the mammals heading his way to help, she pivoted on a dime and raced back towards him. “Nick!”
Pained green eyes turned towards her as she rushed to him, the look of concern that was written all over her face making it all the more satisfying when that concern turned to surprise as he rolled and braced himself on all fours to leap at her. She gave a little ‘Oomph!’ when his body collided with hers, and he felt her smaller form leave the ground for a second before they ended up in a pile on the asphalt.
“Gotcha!” His muzzle parted wide in a delighted laugh as he straddled her hips with his knees a second later and pinned the panting bunny to the ground with paws pressed into her shoulders. He didn’t even mind the instinctive twitch of her nose when he leaned over her, predator over prey. “I told you, irresistible. Officer Nick Piberius Wilde, wins out over the unbeatable wonder bunny!”
“You cheated!” she huffed, though she didn’t exactly look wounded by it. In fact, now that the twitching of her nose had stilled, she was clearly doing her best to keep her herself from grinning. And was failing, the corners of her muzzle bending up just a bit now and then as he congratulated himself and a round of applause came from the rest of the class.
“Exactly,” came the voice of the drill instructor beyond them. “And let this be a lesson to all of you. Just because your perp looks like they are down for the count doesn’t mean that you can throw caution to the wind. Always approach a suspect as if they are a threat, even if they are…”
Nick sort of lost track of what was being said at that point. His wide grin remained as he held his partners eyes, and as his breathing slowed and evened out, he started to realize that there was something odd about Judy today. Something… Different. He couldn’t quite put his claw on it, not right away. His own nose twitched now, nostrils flared a bit as he leaned closer to her, not even fully aware of the fact that he was doing it. Funny thing was, he saw her nose twitching, too. Not the same quick, uneven, getawayfromthepredatorbeforeheeatsme twitching that he had seen as he pinned her. It sort of matched the slightly dazed look that came into her eyes, slow and in time with her breath as if she were trying to find the same change in him that he was trying to find in her.
“All right, Wilde. Enough gloating,” came the voice of the polar bear, which was just enough to snap him out of whatever had caused him to lean so close that his nose was almost touching hers. “You and Officer Hopps have Rainforest patrol in half an hour. The rest of you, get into your assigned pairs and try not to trip over your own feet.”
He pulled himself back, up and off of her in less time than it had taken him to tackle her, and it was only a lifetime learning not to show more than he wanted to be seen that allowed him to crack a careless grin when he reached down for Judy’s paw. He saw something that he never wanted to see from her when she looked up at him; a flicker of uncertainty in those violet eyes, and ears that were folded back as if she didn’t really know if she could trust him or didn’t really know who he was. It only lasted for a moment, and then it was gone as she grasped his paw and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet.
“Come on, Carrots,” he said easily, releasing her paw and giving her a hip bump. He was relieved to see the confused uncertainty in her eyes clear away almost instantly as she returned the affectionate gesture. “Today, you buy lunch for me. Nicolas Piberius Wilde, conquering f..! Oof!”
“Only if you beat me to the cruiser!” she called out as he rubbed his ribs where her elbow had landed, and then watched the grinning bunny as she started off towards the women’s locker room with a quick wave.
The green eyes of the fox followed her until that cotton tail of hers vanished around a corner and out of sight before he let his mask slip into something calm and emotionless.
Starting the walk towards the men’s locker, he had a moment where he wished he had pockets in his sweats to shove his paws into so he could clench them without worrying about someone seeing. All the same, when a jaguar gave him a friendly wave as they crossed paths, Nick raised his own paw in return. His grin had even returned, his tail held high and his ear erect. He could have won an award for keeping the persona of the careless fox in place even as he stripped down, stowed his sweats in his bag, and grabbed a towel. It wasn’t until he stepped into the shower and found it empty that he let the act drop, and turned the shower on so hot that he was sure it would remove all traces of scent.
No way you’re going to screw this one up. She can’t get to you if you don’t let her know.
He leaned his head against the cool tiles as he tried to clear his mind of the scent of the best friend he had ever had under the nearly painful heat of the beating water. He allowed it soak into the red and white of his fur for a few minutes before he released a low sigh and reached for the soap.
She doesn’t need to know that you love her.
or, enter your birth date.*
The fox could never understand why everyone always wanted to meet in dark alleys, particularly a reporter of some fame in the city. With the hum and shuffle of mammals on the streets beyond this clearly seldom used sliver of side road, he knew it was doubtful that anyone would randomly wander into the alley. Which was the point, though with every other quiet spot and hidden door in the city it did seem a little dramatic. Then there was the bright red of the almost familiar crest was painted on the wall behind him, ignored for the most part even as the nine spikes rose up in a sort of dangerous halo around him. The spray paint below it red in the same dark red ‘Welcome to the Foxes Den’ and had him silently wondering if this spot had been chosen because of it. Even without that reminding looming behind him, the dank atmosphere and old non-smell of scent neutralizer that had been sprayed on the walls was enough to make his fur feel itchy under his suit, causing him to tap his claws over his crossed arms impatiently. Of course, he wasn’t really trying to fool himself into thinking that it was the setting that annoyed him. It wasn’t even the fact that the reporter was late, if only by a minute.
Being separated from Judy after being within arms reach of her almost constantly in the past week had his nerves on edge. What was normally self-preservation, a sort of instinct that had kept him safely out of the public eye for so long, had been discarded in favor of making sure that she survived. The choice had not been made lightly, though he had made it quickly because he had not been stupid enough to believe that her entry into Zootopia would remain out of the media. Still, it had never been in the cards to walk up to a reporter and let them throw questions his way. Something that would have made him fade into the shadows for years was something he walked into willingly just to get the rabbit a slip of paper that might or might not help her with her case.
Of course, before she had come along he had also all but managed to remove the desire for female companionship from his life. Years of solitude, years of self-control, time spent without letting himself be tempted by the softly sweet musk of a vixen had quickly broken down when libido and emotions had slapped him across the muzzle. His guard had been down because she was a bunny. Not just down. Non-existent. So, when his body and instincts had registered willing female, he had been unprepared for the impact. So unprepared that the rush of desire had slipped right past his libido, his common sense, and the fact that she was a bunny until desire was only a part of the whole. It was something he was going to have to learn to live with.
Or without when she finally left the city after the case.
Not so distracted by his thoughts that he didn’t notice the light sound of clawed footsteps heading in his direction, his eyes lifted behind the sunglasses to the only entry for the alley. The vixen that moved towards him did so with the self-confidence of someone who was used to dealing with mammals of all kinds and coming out on the winning end of those deals. She also moved with a decidedly graceful sway of her hips and tail that caused his eyes to pause on those tightly bound hips. The dark blue, strapless blue dress she wore over snow-white fur was just the right level of tight that he was able to see every last curve of the lithe, gorgeous body without being so tight that it strangled her fur. His gaze lifted again as she closed the distance, finding her expression as eager as it was it sharp under an angled homburg hat that rested in front of her dipped ears.
“The Mystery fox in the flesh, again,” she said, her voice nearly a purr of delight as she took a moment to look him up and down slowly, an action that she completed with a deep sigh of what was obviously appreciation. “If I had known what a hit you would become, I would have followed you from the courthouse the first time I saw you.”
He searched his memory of the day of the courthouse, his first encounter with reporters in longer then he cared to remember. The image of her standing at the lead of the group of reporters popped into his mind clearly, right down to the annoyed expression on her face when he had told the entire group of them to ‘stay’. In all honesty, he had been surprised it had worked as well as it had, but then the fact was that no one knew who he was. Any display of authority had clearly been taken from the group of them as someone who had actual authority.
Still, he said nothing as they sized each other up, something that did not seem to bother the reporter much in the slightest as she pressed on after a few seconds.
“Victoria Harridan,” she said, her tone keeping a professional edge while managing to hold onto the edge of sexual energy that her entire outfit and stance seemed to radiate. “Reporter for ZNN. But more importantly, a big fan. I’m so glad that we managed to meet like this. I have so many questions…”
The sudden introduction of his voice and the single word that he spoke caused her to lose her stride for half a beat before she managed to mask her surprise behind a curious smile. “Ten what?”
“Ten questions,” he clarified, watching her ears drop marginally as the limitation of their meeting was set. “I will answer ten questions. If I tell you to skip a question, drop it and it won’t count towards the ten. Or you could just give me what I came for.”
“I was hoping we could have a civilized conversation,” she said, her smile slowly returning as she took a few steps closer to him. It was hard to deny that she was good at masking her emotions, at least after the fact, though she had obviously made no attempt to mask her scent. The fact that most foxes wore scent-mask in public didn’t apply when two foxes intended to be intimate, as what was harsh and strong to the nose of many was deeply appealing to the opposite sex. “Get to know each other by more traditional dialog, rather than consider this an interview or prisoner exchange.”
“Dialog,” he said, keeping his tone as cool even as she reached up to smooth one small paw along the lapel of his jack. He might have chosen not to delve into the carnal or romantic side of vixens for years, but he did remember how they worked when they wanted something. The alluring scent, the light tilt upward of the muzzle as if in offer, the twitch-twitch and sway of the tail, and finally the playfully submissive drop of the ears as she looked up at him. “Were you planning this ‘dialog’ to be before or after I’ve fucked you?”
The silky roll of laughter that escaped her was filled with shocked surprise as much as it was with actual humor at his words. Though she didn’t seem to take his blunt words as an attempt to call her out for her actions, as was apparent by the way her fingers tugged at his jacket gently. She only moved closer, kept her stance the same even as her paw moved to slide over his chest and under his jacket.
“Of the four complete sentences you’ve spoken to me, all of them have been so forceful in their own way,” she murmured, obviously as delighted by the prospect as she was by the fact that he was allowing her to manhandle him. Manhandling that currently had soft paws sending unaccustomed tingles down his spine as they moved further under his jacket, only to pause when they reached the butt of one of his guns. He saw the tense surprise come and go, fading into curious pleasure as she ran her paw over the shape of it, her eyes positively delighted. “You carry a gun? Why haven’t I ever seen you use it?”
“I do,” he replied, aware of how her scent had deepened, spiced by basic lust as she ran her paw over the weapon one last time before it withdrew. He felt his jacket loosen as she popped open the buttons on the front, felt a twinge in his groin. “And because I’ve never needed it before.”
“So self-assured,” she murred throatily, slipping herself into the space of his now open jacket until her chest was pressed against his. He raised his muzzle when she bumped her nose under his, the hat slipping off her head. She didn’t seem to notice as she rooted her nose into his fur. “A shame you’re wearing scent mask. But I can still smell a male under that and bunny. So hard on the surface, but I bet protecting Miss Hopps doesn’t afford you a lot of time to partake in personal pleasures, does it?”
“I’ve been watching her for a little over a week,” he said, his tone unchanged even as her scent knocked hard against the more primal parts of his libido. “I’m sure you’re aware that males are capable of going without sex longer than that.”
“Oh, of course,” was her reply as she seemed intent on taking her fill again as he allowed her to nip at his chin teasingly to try to tempt him into a kiss. “But why, when we don’t have to?”
Perhaps before he would have been able to take her up on the offer, he decided as she pressed herself bodily against him from hip to shoulder, giving him a bit of satisfaction when she bumped herself against the front of his pants. The disappointment that she didn’t find him as hard as she had obviously expected was enjoyable on its own. Perhaps before, but now was not before. And the way her body was pressed into his, he could hear the crinkle of something that wasn’t a part of her dress.
“You are persistent,” he rumbled, allowing a hint of the arousal her scent had driven into his mind to come to the surface. A sharp exhale came when he gripped her wrists, followed by a sharp yelp when he spun her around swiftly and shoved her back against the crimson symbol on the wall as he looked down into her wide golden eyes. “But I am in the habit of taking what I want.”
Submission came easily, her light struggles relaxing as her ears dropped back fully and her muzzle tilted upward to expose more of her slender throat to him. She did this without dropping her eyes, watching everything move he made her as he pressed his body into hers until she was completely pinned against the wall behind them. The appearance of submission was an illusion, he knew, letting her get what she wanted as his paws gripped her hips and lifted her up until her soft legs wrapped around him. Eager little sounds escaping her as he nuzzled her head back further, grazing his teeth through her fur and across her skin as his paws slipped upward along her hips.
“Oh, I should have known you would be the primal type that would just hump me against the wall,” she purred happily as his paws ran sensually over the surface of her dress, striking a little spark of anger in him at the memory it brought to the surface. He pushed the actions of that drunken fool aside as he kept her pinned, her scent thickening with every breath, gnawing at him until…
Until he felt it and heard it at the same time. The crinkle and slight hardness of something that wasn’t meant to be there inside of the dress tucked in just over the soft white of her chest. Desperate to get away from the scent of the vixen’s lust and the memories if brought, he allowed himself no further time to act like he wanted to be where he was. His hands were quick, made easy by her misinterpreting the tug at her dress as an attempt to continue the carnal act. But the moment the receipt was in view, she seemed to catch on to what was happen. Trying to slap him away a second too late, he shoved her away and stepped back with the coveted receipt in paw.
“Bastard,” she growled from the ground where she had fallen, looking a rumpled mess with her skirt halfway up her hips and halfway down her chest. She quickly pulled herself to her feet, as he expected, looking about as angry as a predator who had just had her prey slip away should as she quickly yanked her dress back into place and glowered at him. “All you had to say was that you weren’t interested!”
“Did you come here to take no for an answer?” he asked coldly, panting lightly as he glanced down at the receipt. It was enclosed in a plastic baggy, thankfully, and the date was a match for the one Judy needed, so he tucked it into his jacket’s inner pocket as he returned his gaze to the huffing vixen. “Plus, I was pretty clear in my lack of interest.”
“Maybe not,” she mumbled, smoothing her paws over her rear to wipe away the grime of the alley floor as best she could. After a moment, her eyes returned to him, “but males don’t usually say no.”
“I bet they don’t,” he said under his breath before inhaling deeply and slowly with the distance between them, at least allowing him to take in some air that wasn’t drowning in aroused vixen. “I have what I wanted.”
“Oh no you don’t,” she said sharply, making him paused as he started to turn. “You said I could ask ten questions and I intend to have at least that.”
He could see the anger was quickly fading from her, replaced with a determined sort of cunning as she moved towards him again. This time, her motions were less seductive and reminded him of seeing a reporter move towards a politician with hard questions to ask. There was steel and determination in her eyes, as well, which he expected was her default setting. And she wore it just as well as the guise of the temptress.
“I did say ten questions,” he replied, turning to face her again with his paws tucked in his pockets as he watched her from behind the glasses he still wore. “But you only have six left.”
Seeing her expression drop, then harden, and settle on contemplative made him smirk slightly. The smirk seemed to draw her attention, as the first real expression he had given since she had arrived, and she considered that for a moment, too, before she pointed one finger at him.
“I have seven questions,” she explained, holding up the same paw when he would have spoken. “You never answered me when I asked, ‘But why?’”
“Hm,” he considered, then with a slight shrug of his shoulders he realized that he couldn’t argue with her there. “Fair. Seven questions. But make them quick.”
Even though a moment ago she had looked angry enough to spit nails, the vixen now looked delighted to have won her interview with the Mystery Fox of Zootopia.
“Well, let’s get started then,” she said, standing with her paws resting on her hips and a grin on her muzzle.
or, enter your birth date.*
It was only by grace of the arrival of customers that Judy was able to escape the clutches of the tiny, perverted fox. She had known who Finnick was from the moment she had compiled her list of possible means of protection and, because of his business, she had left him as the absolute last on her list of mammals to call. Paying for protection with sexual favors had not been a price she was willing to pay, as she had discussed with Nick, and given his business, it seemed likely to her that it might have been a part of whatever price the last pimp in Zootopia would want. And given his behavior so far, her thoughts seemed justified.
She sat in front of the computer in the sound-proof side office that he had ‘graciously’ provided her when it came time for customers to start arriving, but only after reminding her that there would be questions as soon as everything on the floor had settled down enough. It was obvious that he thought she wouldn’t be able to handle what went on in a brothel of this size, and for once she was grateful for his attitude. Or maybe he was heeding Nick’s warning about keeping the males away from her? Either way, it had worked to her benefit as she flipped through the various files Flash had sent to her again.
With the various text documents and legal files bringing nothing new to light, she turned her attention to the many images. While she and Nick had looked through them the first time, many of them had seemed pointless and many more had gone unseen after the discovery of receipt lead. Now she took her time, examining each image with equal intensity to see if there was anything any of them could do to support her case. She created a few secondary folders within the main, allowing her to sort images by possible leads, most likely junk, and obviously important. The number of items that were going into the most likely junk folder was not surprising, though after the first few minutes it did become disheartening.
In the end, of the hundreds of images, only twenty of them were possible leads and five were obviously important. No new information in any of them but they could still be used to help build her case, though she wouldn’t be able to show them in court. That meant she would need to go over the legal case files again to see how much of it could be verified with forensic photos.
Not knowing how much time she had, she turned her attention to the videos that remained un-played. The dim lighting in the room and the utter silence provided by the soundproof walls that kept her separate from the music worked along with the dull and generally unimportant videos to cause her attention and mind to wander. Leaving the player on autoplay she watched one after the other for fifteen minutes, most of them short news clips already available online. It became so monotonous that she had to force herself to focus, blinking rapidly to keep her eyes from getting heavy.
Then the fifteenth video clip started, the pitch-black image and noise of the shot drew her full attention again. Ears perked forward as she realized that she heard voices, though at first they were indistinct and impossible to understand. The stern tone of one voice and the passive one that replied had her raising her ears and straining to understand. Just as she started to get frustrated, the stern tone went silent and all that was left was the sound of a door sliding closed and shuffling for a moment before whatever had been covering the camera was removed.
The scene she was greeted with made a wince curl her muzzle.
The room was brightly lit, though there was a feeling of stillness within. It was an expansive office with a very Spartan, almost military feel to it. It only took her a moment to understand why when the camera panned around until she was given a view of a large desk, and the old blood that ran down and pooled at the foot of it. She knew then that she was looking at the crime scene where General Valter had been murdered, something that had never reached the media because of the top-secret nature of Maleperduis.
“Are you out of your mind?” a voice hissed, causing whoever was holding the camera to turn it to face the speaker. The jerky motion, lack of quality, and the odd point of view had her quickly understanding that it wasn’t being held: it was on his shoulder or chest, which explained how he had managed to get it into the military base. Something that the male kudu seemed aware was a bad idea if his expression, halfway between frightened and annoyed, was any indication.
“We’re here to do a job, so keep it down,” the cameramammal said, keeping his voice low enough so that she had to turn the volume up to hear it, the camera jerking when he shrugged before he turned his attention to the desk again. “Think this is what he’s after?”
“How should I know?” came the terse reply as the camera moved closer to the desk. “We’re just here to clean up, remember.”
“Shut up,” came the quick, angry reply, “I know that!”
“No, you shut up!”
“No, you shut up!”
She rolled her eyes at the sudden argument and tuned them out as they went back and forth until the deep growl of a voice from outside told them both to shut up. Instead, her frown deepened slightly at the blood stains on the surface of the desk. One was clearly just a puddle of old, brownish red blood. It was the other that had her attention, and clearly the attention of the ‘cleaning crew’ as the camera zoomed in for a closer look.
“What do you think it means, Pronk?”
“Not sure,” was the reply, this time in a lower, even-tempered tone that was obviously just a result of the warning just received, “but we’re not here to understand it.”
The camera circled the desk for a full 360-degree view of the pattern. At first, she wasn’t sure what she was seeing. It was smeared and unclear, the drying of the blood making the pattern less obvious that it might have been in the mind of the male who had written it. It wasn’t until the angle had the gruesome drawing upside down that it dawned on her. It was like an indistinct face with two eyes staring, surrounded on three sides by nine markings. How Valter had managed to include such detail while bleeding to death was beyond her. But it was clear that she had seen this symbol before.
It was the same as the one engraved on Nick’s baton.
The music wasn’t as loud as it had been when the door to Wild Times had first opened. It was still loud, but not so loud that it would drown out the normal conversation with someone sitting across the table. That was a relief to her ears, though nothing was a relief to her eyes and sensibilities when she walked onto the main floor of the brothel.
Everywhere around her were males and females paired off, in private booths or tables in various stages of what she supposed would be considered the mating game. If she hadn’t known better, she would have thought that it was any other club. There was talking, dancing, and more than a little kissing and nibbling going on for more than two dozen couples around the main bar. On the outside, most of them looked no different from any other couple she had seen in Bunnyburrow spending a night out on the town. It didn’t take much to remind herself that that was just the surface, a surface that made her cringe when she saw one tiger stand and extend his hand towards his tigress escort. She turned her eyes away just as the lovely female reached up to accept his paw with a gracious smile, turning her attention back to her search for the owner of it all.
She saw him standing on the bar, a drink in one hand and his eyes on the room. As much as it would have been easy to say that he looked relaxed, her years of dealing with lawyers and crooks had taught her to look closer for the truth. He was watching every single mammal around him with the keen eye of someone looking out for any sign of trouble, causing her to slow her steps a bit. Something that she regretted, when it seemed to draw the attention of a patron.
“Holy hell,” the throaty voice beside her said, drawing her gaze to the leopard who jumped down from one of the bar stools. He cut a line straight towards her, grinning toothily. His eyes and odd gait warned her that he was heading towards intoxicated as quickly as he was heading towards her. “They actually have bunnies here! And look at those hips!”
She managed to narrow her eyes even as she backpedaled, somewhere between panic and annoyance at the approach of the far larger predator. Then the obviously delighted male was brought to a sudden stop by a sound so sharp and loud that she and everyone in the immediate area jumped. Her ears perked towards Finnick, who held the source of the sound in one diminutive paw: a painted wooden bat, which was now pointed directly at the nervous leopard.
“The bunny is not one of the girls,” he snarled coldly and despite the size difference, it was the larger one that quickly backed down even as Finnick continued, “And what have I told you about letting the girl come to you? If I need to tell you again, I’m banning your tail!”
“Sorry, Fin,” the unnamed leopard said, his tone as submissive as the set of his ears as he turned his eyes to Judy. “Sorry, Miss. I didn’t mean to…”
“Yeah, yeah, she gets it,” Finnick interrupted as he walked over the bar towards them, waving the bat towards the door. It was pretty amusing to see the mammals at the bar lift their drinks to let him pass. “Now, get out. No ass for you tonight. Come back tomorrow with a working memory and less alcohol.”
“Aw, come on! I…” the spotted male started to protest, only to cut himself short when the bat waved in front of his muzzle. “Okay, okay. I’ll make an appointment on my way out?”
“Yeah, you do that,” the sandy furred fox said coolly, then his smile turned friendly so suddenly that Judy was pretty sure her head would spin off. “I’m sure Cindy is looking forward to it.”
Judy followed the leopard’s progress as he quickly made his way towards the door. He hesitated for a minute at the door, turning his eyes out over the main floor. His expression could easily have been called longing for a moment before his ears dropped and he slipped past the polar bear that was watching the door. Curious, she followed his gaze until she realized he had been looking at the same door all the females had come from to greet Nick.
“Don’t worry about him,” Finnick’s surprisingly deep voice interrupted her thoughts, drawing her gaze up to the bar. “He’s actually only interested in one of my girls. But a fine-looking bunny like yourself is a curiosity to say the least, considering that most mammals have only seen a naked bunny on the internet.”
“I’m not naked,” she corrected him, then flushed deeply when he ran his eyes up and down her form for a moment with a grin.
“Yeah, the whole ‘undressing her with his eyes’ isn’t just for sappy romance novels and poorly worded pickup lines,” he said, causing her to narrow her eyes before he gestured with the bat as he walked towards his perch on the bar again. “Come up here with me, Law Buns. No one will bother you, and if you’re out here, I’m thinkin’ you have something to say.”
Begrudgingly, she accepted his invitation and made her way towards the end of the bar. Rolling her eyes when he plopped down and patted the spot on the bar beside him, she bent her knees and leap up in one jump, landing neatly beside him. She made a point of staying on her feet and a bit further away than he had indicated, her arms folded over her chest. Keeping her ears upright and her stance hard, she looked down at the grinning fox.
“I have questions about Nick,” she said, getting right to the point. She didn’t really want to be out here any longer than she needed to be.
“Really?” he said, with an expression of such pure delight that she had to restrict the groan to an inner sigh of resignation. “Well, that’s funny because I have questions, too. How about we play a game of fair trade practices: I’ll let you ask one question, and then I get to ask a question. We both have to tell the truth to the best of our ability. If we can’t answer the question, then whoever asked gets to ask another one. Deal?”
“Deal,” she agreed, thinking that was about as fair as she was going to get in this situation. Finnick did hold all the cards, and hopefully at least some of the answers she was looking for. She decided not to wait for a coin flip or whatever would decide who went first. “Who is he?”
“Right to it then,” was his first reply, coming to a pause as he narrowed his gaze at her. “You mean, you don’t know?”
“You can’t answer a question with another question, even if the answer to that question is obvious,” she said simply, her stance unchanged as she watched him closely.
“Fair enough, fair enough,” he said, reaching over to pick up his drink again. Whatever it was, the sweet scent of fruit was almost overpowered by the scent of the liquor inside of it. “You would start with one I can’t actually answer. He’s Nick; he’s been a friend and partner for a long time now and has been a pain in my tail for just as long. Anything beyond that’s his business.”
“That doesn’t answer the question,” she said, doing her best to keep her foot from thumping. When he shrugged and waved his free paw for her to continue, she understood that he accepted that as true. “Why can’t you tell me who he is?”
“Because he will tell you if he wants you to know. And if I tell you before he wants you to know, he’ll be angry.”
“Does that mean he…”
“Ah-ah-ah, Law Buns,” he said, grinning up at her with his huge ears perked and eager. “Now it’s my turn. And the burning question on every mind in here that matters is… How long have you two been banging?”
“I… W-what?” she sputtered, feeling heat slide up her spine and flood her each and cheeks as the audacity of the question. It only lasted for a moment, though, before she ground her teeth together as she regained her composure. “We haven’t ‘banged’ at all.”
She had to give it to him, he was better at this game than she was. She could see from the question burning in his eyes her answer had somehow managed to surprise him, but he didn’t ask as he waved his paw towards her for her to take her turn. Struggling to remember what her previous question had been, she decided instead to ask the next one on her mind.
“You said he’s been a friend of yours for a while. How long have you known him?”
“Hm. That’s a good question,” he admitted before taking another sip of his drink before answering, “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know him, really. Since he was a kit, really, not quite old enough to think about vixens. Or bunnies in his case. And what do you mean you haven’t slept with him?”
“We just haven’t,” she admitted, now taking the questions as smoothly as she might have taken a hard-cross examination in court. “Why do you think we have?”
“Because it radiates off of you both,” the small fox snorted as he met her gaze with dark amber eyes. “If I didn’t know Nick, I might have thought you two were just here to try to rent a room for the night. I’m surprised he didn’t lift you onto this very spot on the bar, bend you over, and…”
“I get your point!” she said, raising a paw to her face to cover her eyes for a moment as she tried to wipe that mental image from her mind. Whatever her next question had been, it was brushed aside by something that was eating away at her just as much. “He seems to know the girls well.”
“That wasn’t a question, Law Buns,” he said, though from the toothy smirk crawling up his muzzle she knew that he could already see the question coming. He just wanted to hear her ask it.
“Does he,” she began, then stopped herself as she reconsidered. She would ask another question, something that actually meant something to the case instead of focusing on Nick. “Does her ever use your services?”
Well, so much for keeping it relevant to the case.
“’Use my services’ she says,” was his first reply, followed by a long burst of laughter that had her frowning at the bar top before she squared her shoulders and waited for his answer. Once he managed to contain his obvious joviality at the phrasing, the still snickering male looked up at her. “Even though it was my turn, I’ll give you a freebie on this one simply because I’m not in the business of screwing up something that so obviously needs to happen. I offer multiple ‘services’ to Nick and the only service he refuses is the one that this establishment specialized in. Meaning, no. He’s never sampled my girls before.”
She mulled over this in silence for a moment, a silence that he did grant her for a good ten seconds before he asked his question.
“You want him, don’t you?”
“Are all of these questions going to revolve around whether or not I’m going have sex with Nick?” she asked tersely, though she feared she already knew the answer.
“Abso-fucking-lutely,” he said, hide grin only widening as he waved his paw towards the room around them. “For one thing, pretty much every female in here has been dying for a chance to get into that foxes custom tailored pants. If I don’t have some answers, I’m going to get my ears chewed off. And they make up fifty percent of my height as it is. For another, I haven’t seen Nick interested in a female in a very long time and he’s certainly never growled at me over one. And last… That was the second question I answered. So I get to ask another one after you answer the question.”
“Ugh,” she muttered, running her paw over her ears in annoyance at the fact that was right. Nick’s idea that she would verbally dominate him had not taken into account how little she knew about the mysterious fox compared to who seemed to be his best friend. “Yes. I am attracted to him.”
“Attracted,” the sandy colored fox snorted, setting his drink aside. “Every female within half a mile of him is attracted. That doesn’t mean they’re thoughts wander to taking him into a dark room and not coming out until you’re both dehydrated and half dead.”
“Fine! Yes, alright,” she said, her voice raised a little higher than she might have wanted it. “I want him! He’s ridiculously appealing! I’ve already been tempted four times now to strip down to my fur and say, ‘I’m all yours, Nick.’ I walked around in front of him wearing nothing but panties and a too short nightshirt just to see if it got a rise out of him. I almost crawled into his lap once! Next. Question.”
The sound of clapping from behind her had her turning quickly, seeing the lioness standing there with a many-toothed grin on her muzzle. She fought the urge to groan and bury her face in her paws to hide her face, opting instead to release a slow sigh to regain control of herself as the larger female spoke.
“Such passion,” she said, her tone filled with a throaty purr as she slowly climbed up on the bar as she had before. Judy noticed that the eyes of half a dozen males followed her as she did it. This was something that the lioness was undoubtedly aware of given how she swayed her hips and rear before she settled down on her side, reached out with one massive paw, and dragged Finnick into the curve of her body. She continued as he leaned back into her belly without missing a beat, “Can I ask your next question, Trunk?”
“Hm,” she purred gratefully as her tawny eyes turned to Judy. “Have you two – How should I put this – ever talked about your mutual case of hot-pants for each other?”
“Yes,” she said in a low voice, then drew a breath and spoke more clearly. “We had dinner. We discussed it then. I don’t think I ever knew the name of the restaurant. There was no sign.”
She hadn’t expected the surprised reaction that she received, particularly from Finnick who had been mid-drink and nearly choked on it before his eyes narrowed on her.
“He took you to Lochlann’s place?”
“Yeah,” she said, drawing out the word as she narrowed her eyes at him in turn. “That was the otter’s name. Is that important?”
The fox and lioness exchanged surprised glances, Zira’s ears pinning back for a moment before both pairs of eyes focused on her again.
“That falls under the category of ‘things Nick never does’ Law Buns,” Finnick said, setting his drink aside as he eyed her with a much deeper sort of interest than before. “And answers a lot of questions I was gonna ask. So, as unfair as the tilt is right now, I’ll answer yours for now. Ask away.”
Feeling that it was something of a dodge, she knew he was trying to change the subject by giving her what she wanted without any further questions about her sex life. As tempting as it was to question him on why being taken to that specific restaurant was so important, she couldn’t pass up the chance to ask the questions she felt she really needed to know the answers to.
“All right,” she murmured, deciding to slide in easily, “Has he ever done bodyguard work before?”
“Not that I’ve ever seen.”
“Oh,” she mumbled, considering the answer in silence for a moment. He seemed so fully competent in protecting her, that the answer was not the one she had expected. In more ways than one. “Is he wealthy?”
“That would fall under the ‘who is he’ category of questions,” was the snorted reply, causing her no end of frustration.
She would have to dance around a little, then.
“You said you provide other services for him,” she said, folding her arms over her chest again as she looked down at the smaller male. “Are you the one who acquired the suits that cost him one-hundred and fifty-thousand Bucks?”
“How did you..?” he began, then frowned as he crossed his arms over his chest to mirror her defensive stance. “He didn’t tell you about that, did he?”
“I’ve seen the receipt,” she supplied, causing the fox to roll his eyes slightly.
“Fine then,” he said, his tone only mildly annoyed as he turned his eyes out over the main floor again. She felt compelled to follow his gaze, seeing that at least half of the mammals that had been their before had vanished. It wasn’t hard to figure out where, where she saw a she-wolf leading a male wolf through a doorway. She diverted her attention back to Finnick, trying to keep her mind off what was going on around her. “Yes, I supplied the suits.”
“Did he tell you how he plans to pay for them?”
“He paid up front,” was the hesitant answer, followed by a slight tilt of his head towards her. “Why don’t you ask what’s really on your mind there, Law Buns?”
“I’m not sure,” she murmured, frowning slightly at the doubt that was inching into every question that she wanted to ask. But there was one that she needed the answer to, regardless of those doubts. “Is he capable of murder?”
“Murder, huh?” the smaller mammal grunted, tilting his head back as Zira started to scratch the top of his head between the ears. “That’s a subject jump.”
“It’s the last question,” she admitted, having to force herself not to shuffle her feet over the bar as she held his gaze.
“Depends on what you mean by ‘murder’,” was his reply, followed by a shrug as he drew himself to his feet with his now empty glass in paw. “Would he kill for you? The whole city knows the answer to that question. It seems to me, though, that most of these questions were meant for him anyway.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, though she already knew the answer.
“You want to know him? Stop dancing around the subject,” he said, shrugging as he held the glass out until the robotic ‘Bartender’s Helper’ arm took it and dropped it into soapy water. “Ask him. If he doesn’t want to answer, you make him answer.”
“It’s not that simple,” she murmured, though in a way she shared the frustration that was obvious in his expression.
“Yeah, yeah. He’s a badass and you have a case to win. You can’t get tangled up.” He snorted, this time jumping up to sit on Zira’s hip. She didn’t seem to mind, even when he patted her rump for good measure. “I’ve only known you for a few hours and I can tell that you both have problems with getting your tails in gear. And I’m not just talking about this ‘getting to know you’ shit. You have guts, obviously, except when it comes to him. If you did, you would’ve dropped your pants those four times you were tempted. And if he had half a brain in his head, he would have taken you up on those offers.”
“But I don’t really know him,” she shot back, frowning at being lectured by a pimp of all mammals.
“And that’s your fault. And his,” he returned, shaking his head before leaning back to lie against the paw Zira placed behind him. “Talk it out, Law Buns. You obviously want to know him, in both the literal and biblical sense. And chances are, you’re not going to get either until you face up to how much you want both.”
Sunderance - In the Hall of the Mountain King
They changed cars three times in fifteen minutes.
She had seen this sort of thing happen in the movies but had never expected to be doing it herself. They returned to the office to give her a chance to collect anything she might have needed to continue investigating on her own while he was gone, a time during which he had made a phone call that even her sensitive ears picked up as light muttering. After announcing that she had everything she needed and following him outside again, she had been surprised to find that the car waiting outside wasn’t the same one they had been driving around in for the past week. Instead, it was a car designed for a mammal larger than Nick - maybe a lion or some other big cat – painted cherry red and modified with a seat lift and extended pedals to allow him to drive it with relative ease.
Three blocks later, in the shadow of an alley between a ba
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