Chapter18

Authors Note: Before Joe Camel's very serious encounter with that strange mammal from Atlantea, we need time for Judy and Nick to talk about Michael's rescue with Sandra and Melvin, followed by some important stage setting. And then... well... all the female Zootopian characters ganged up on me and demanded that I give them a little 'girls day out' and they all wanted some intimacy breaks with their hubbies. Who am I to say 'no'? LOL! Remember, we are rated T for intimacy/romance…. and who says old mammals can't have some fun too?

...Nick and Judy's apartment...

Without disturbing Nick, Judy got up much earlier than the alarm, gently peeled herself from his embrace in much the same position they went to sleep without waking him, and admired Nick's marvelous naked body. The young female rabbit overcame an urge to make love with him, despite getting only another two hours sleep after their surprise guests arrived. She threw a flimsy, short robe on, and proceeded to make breakfast for everyone. She was very motivated to tell Melvin and Sandra what she and Nick had in mind.

The other three woke up and Nick called out to his bride from their bedroom, "What is that glorious aroma, Carrots?"

She had a feisty comeback, "Come and see yourself. This isn't breakfast in bed, Nicholas P. Wilde."

Her snide remark was loud enough that Melvin and Sandra snickered while getting out of bed themselves.

"All right, Carrots, here I come," Nick retorted.

Judy's teasing made Nick almost forget to put on some athletic shorts and a t shirt, and he wouldn't have, had he not heard Sandra and Melvin getting ready. He actually had the appetite for a little 'dessert' involving Judy in the kitchen after breakfast, but having guests put that plan on hold a few days. Judy told Nick that was something she would enjoy doing with him.

"Good morning, Judy," he said, appearing at the door to the kitchen.

The view of her nearly completely exposed legs and glimpses of her bare hindquarters in her short robe working in the kitchen woke him up completely. He wondered if that robe was too short to be around Melvin. Nick snickered to himself that he didn't want Judy to induce a heart attack in the aging fox.

"Hi Nickie," she lilted in reply, and quickly bounded over to him, gave him a very happy kiss, let him caress her hindquarters briefly before swatting his paw away as he got more aggressive, and went right back to cooking, "Not this morning dear. They're awake. I just wanted to cook us a good breakfast. Tonight for sure."

Nick enjoyed hearing that promise, but also knew that she was very excited to tell Sandra and Melvin about their plans, "Wonderful..."

The older couple shuffled in, still tired from their long journey and lack of sleep, and just the ravages of age. Everything ached on their bodies in the mornings, including places they didn't even know they had places to hurt.

"Good morning Nick and Judy," Sandra greeted, followed by a grunt by Melvin.

Judy responded, "Hi Sandra and Melvin. Have some coffee and come to the table. Breakfast will be ready soon."

Judy got the other three some coffee, and eased herself next to Nick, but Sandra asked, "Got any Mammalprin, dear?"

"After breakfast I could use some, please," Melvin requested.

Judy answered, "In the bathroom medicine cabinet."

"OK, thanks."

Sandra complimented Judy, "Wow, this is deluxe. Our hostess is cooking us a fancy breakfast after a short night."

The younger rabbit had a quick answer, "This has to be deluxe. You're our first house guests since we got married."

Nick nodded in agreement as he sipped his java. Judy smiled broadly as she brought the main dish to the table, "Well here you go. Dig in!"

Her warm cheese blintzes looked delicious, and they steamed. It was one of her mother's specialties that she originally learned to cook to please Nick.

Nick bragged about his spouse to their house guests, "These are the best pastries ever, especially with strawberries, blueberries, and powdered sugar. She usually does these on weekends."

Sandra replied, "Well we need to be on our way by then. We will stay a few days with you like you asked."

Judy observed, "We thought so. So that's why you get them now."

Biting into the tasty dish, Sandra and Melvin were delighted, "Umm, Judy, dear. These are incredible! I want your recipe for our restaurant. I'll make sure I name them for you: 'Judy's blintzes'."

The younger rabbit blushed with everyone's praise. She never thought of herself as a good cook, especially compared to her mother.

Talk was pretty light-hearted, and the older fox and hare asked what typical police day was all about. About mid way through the meal, both lagomorph females looked at their husbands for concurrence and simultaneously asked:

"Judy?" "Sandra?"

Then the two rabbits laughed at each other, having said their names exactly at the same time.

"Judy, you go first."

"No Sandra, you go first. I defer to my elder."

Sandra joked, "Being an elder doesn't make us any smarter than you two young people. I was thinking about youthful exuberance over elderly experience and caution."

"Well somebody go first! You two females are going to 'out polite' us to death," Melvin complained. Nick concurred.

Judy smiled at them, "OK . Me first. Nick and I are so pleased that you shared your secret life with us, including all the joys and sorrows that you've endured. It's an amazing story, even though it's sad. I know that it must have been very hard to live with your knowledge, and even harder to share that with us, constantly living under threats. We want to give you two a happy ending."

"What are you saying, Judy?" Sandra asked with anxiety and hope.

The two females held hands, and Judy looked right into the older hare's eyes, "Sandra and Melvin, Nick and I want to rescue Michael and the others, and bring them all safely home to you and their parents. Nick and I want to end the terror of 'them' by bringing 'them' to justice for their crimes."

Melvin and Sandra were completely stunned. Nick and Judy made the commitment before Sandra and Melvin could even ask. The older couple gave each other with the same look. How could they possibly object? They wanted this too.

Sandra answered with her voice full of gratitude, "Yes, oh yes, Judy, we would like that very much."

All four hugged and laughed and cried, but then they all looked at each other.

Melvin cautioned, to give them an 'out', "It's so dangerous. You don't know what you are getting yourselves into."

Nick answered plainly, "Yes we do. These mammals are a threat to all of Zootopia. We're cops. For any threat to Zootopia, we need to see these criminals arrested and jailed."

Sandra fretted, "But we're kin to you both. The only extended family we know that exists in this entire world besides our children. We wouldn't want you to get hurt because of us."

"Or killed…" Melvin barely whispered.

Judy's answer was simple and heartfelt, "We love you. We love Michael. You have been in such pain for far too long. We can bring him back. We want to know Michael personally. We want our future kits to know they have a big cousin just like them so they aren't afraid to be the only rabbit-foxes in the world."

"You mean fox-rabbits, don't you, Carrots? Michael seems to have a lot more of Melvin in him."

Melvin and Sandra shot each other a 'déjà vu' look. This was a new version of a very old argument.

Judy raised an eyebrow, "Shut up, fox. I swear your entire species only thinks of itself first."

Sandra burst out in hearty laughter, "Judy, honey - you know foxes!"

"Watch that stuff, Sandra!" Melvin kidded and gave his bride of 31 years a pretend indignant look.

They all guffawed.

Sandra reflected and shook her head, still dumbfounded at their relatives' offer, "Judy and Nick… how will you find him? It's been almost 25 years and we never have."

Nick answered forthrightly, "We have resources that you don't. Police are in the business of finding missing mammals. Besides, I'll be that you probably didn't try that hard because you and Melvin were threatened if you did try to search."

"That is very true," noted Melvin.

Judy added, "'They' won't even know we are looking. So you won't have to. We can find him If he's still alive."

"And if he isn't?" sniffled a worried Sandra.

Nick stated very seriously, "Then we will find his killers and see that the ultimate justice is done against them."

Everyone knew what that meant.

Melvin and Sandra were overwhelmed by the impassioned offer of help from their younger cousins, "We don't know what to say, Nick and Judy. This is beyond anything we ever thought possible for our Michael. We wanted to ask you. In fact we were, but you beat us to it."

They all laughed, and Nick quipped, "Just another one of those 'youthful exuberance moments' again for us…"

Judy added, "Since you were going to ask us for help, then it is all the more reason we should do this. We would have said 'yes' if you had asked us."

The two couples finished off the blintzes, but Judy looked at the clock and then at her husband, "Nick, dear, it's getting late."

Nick put his plate in the sink and advised, "I know, dear. Melvin, let's move that truck to the garage in case there are informants out there."

"OK."

Nick checked in with the landlord who wasn't really happy about the early morning interruption, but he gave them a garage key. They moved the truck into the apartment underground parking. The old tarnished pick up with no hood only hesitated and coughed a few times, and the gears ground a bit before it moved and roared with renewed power.

Melvin explained proudly, "This was my Papa's truck. It's old and rusted, but it gets the job done in the high mountains. I've never gotten stuck with this old four wheeler when it's bad weather."

Nick appreciated the story and suggested, "You know Melvin, if you put a little paint and a little rust inhibitor and someone would really pay you big money for this. It's a collector's item. We should show it to my friend Flash."

Melvin scoffed and shook his head, "I'd never sell it, Nick. It's my Dad's. I always want to remember him by keeping it and driving it like it was old times again. It keeps me connected."

With a bittersweet feeling inside him, Nick observed, "I hope my boy says that about me someday."

"He will Nick, he will. You, my dear cousin, are going to be a great father. I can just tell."

He smiled inwardly with the heartfelt compliment, and expressed what had been inside for some time, "Melvin, I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I wish you had been my father. I never knew mine. He abandoned my mother."

He was a little surprised, but responded affectionately, "Nick, my boy, it would have been an honor to have another son like you."

Returning to the apartment, Nick and Judy finished donning their uniforms and were ready to leave for work.

Judy went through a mental checklist with Sandra and Melvin, "Here's our cell and desk phone numbers. Please don't leave the apartment and don't answer the door until Steven gets here. He'll show you his badge and stay out of your way so you can keep your privacy. He'll just keep watch around the area."

"We're grateful, Judy. When do you come home?" Sandra asked.

Nick stated, "Usually about 6. We'll try to get home early. We can say we have relatives in town. The Chief is always lenient about leaving early with family."

The foursome hugged each other and the younger couple left, and heard the door bolt behind them.

On their way to the bus stop, Judy asked, "Do you suppose they'll be all right?"

"Of course they will, Carrots. They're a smart couple. They've survived whoever 'they' are for decades, and lived to tell us. We have all sorts of things we can do to protect them."

"Without telling anyone?" Judy worried.

"For now, yes."

Judy challenged her husband, "You know we'll have to tell the Chief someday."

Nick advised her, "Yes, but not until we have something solid to tell him. Otherwise Sandra and Melvin's claim to having raised a fox-rabbit is just 'crazy talk' from two old mountain hermits."

Judy quickly replied, "Nick, don't you mean rabbit-fox?"

He gave her that silly, very wide, overconfident smirk with a cocked eyebrow, and examined his claws nonchalantly.

She rolled her eyes and sighed with a wry grin, "Oh, just never mind…"

Back at the apartment, Sandra made sure every lock and bolt was secure, "Do you suppose they'll be all right?"

"Of course they will, Sandra. They're smart cops. They've survived crime on the streets and lived through several crises. They have all sorts of means that police do to protect themselves. They're heroes twice over and more. They go in harm's way every day."

Sandra was very guarded, "But Nick and Judy don't even know they walk by 'them' every day.
'They' don't wear uniforms to announce their evil beliefs. News of us talking - much less being together now - could cause a lot of trouble. Nick and Judy are 'just' like us, and you know, Melvin dear, that so many of their friends are cross-species couples or same species couples that support them. It could make 'them' do something rash against all of Nick and Judy's friends."

…ZPD Headquarters...

After roll call, in their spare moments of office time, Judy started to dig deeply for records of Michael Wilde. She searched on key words 'fox-rabbit' or 'rabbit-fox', and on his name.

Nick forgot he had a training session in the morning, but that gave Judy even more time to expand the search. About the time Nick's class was finished, she was very frustrated with the initial search results. She knew she'd never find a birth certificate, but there was literally no clue about Michael. She only found speculative general discussions on hybrid fox-rabbit offspring – mildly annoyed that it was always listed as 'fox-rabbit' - and a couple of interesting fictional novels on the subject. Aside from some cute fan art' about Nick and Judy's postulated kits, there was absolutely nothing on Michael.

Michael's existence was simply not on the Zootopia radar screen, nor in any obvious or obscure data base. He plopped down at his desk right next to his partner Judy, and felt mentally exhausted, "Carrots, I sure hope you had a more productive morning than I had. That training was absolutely wasted time."

Judy sounded exasperated, "I'm afraid not. I searched the whole time you were in class but I got nothing."

Nick tried to calm her impatience at not getting instant results. This was the Judy he knew so well, "It was a crime 25 years ago. We'll have to go much deeper and it will take time. Technology then wasn't as it is now. We might have to question some mammals."

Judy warned, "Which would alert 'them' of our curiosity and maybe get us an early, unpleasant 'visit'."

Nick knew she was right, "Hmm… OK, then. Let's try to let technology do our jobs just a little while longer. We move on something solid. So what did you try?"

"I tried fox-rabbit," she grinned.

"Thank you, Carrots," he smirked.

Judy quipped, "You big jerk."

They both chuckled, and Judy further explained with an air of self-righteous haughtiness, "And I also tried rabbit-fox. The much more logical search choice."

He gave her a snide look and snickered, "Touche…"

Nick thought some more and asked, "So have you tried contractions?"

"What do you mean?" asked Judy.

Nick provided examples, "Like fabbit… or fobbit…"

Noting Nick still put 'fox' first in the contractions, so she joked, "That sounds obscene, dear."

"Oh… oops," he stammered but added, "Uhhh… what about foxbit?"

They were having fun now.

She countered with a 'rabbit first' contraction, "Or rabox?"

Nick retorted snidely, "That sounds like some kind of incurable disease."

They both laughed.

Armed with some more search suggestions, Judy went right back to her computer, "All right, then. I'll try those."

She was interrupted from any more searches because the ZPD Public Affairs mammal came to their desk.

The mammal announced, "Nick, Judy. Good. You're still here."

Nick explained, "We don't go out on patrol until after lunch."

The PR mammal was focused and told them, "Chief Bogo said he's cancelling that patrol."

"Why? Are we being reprimanded for something?"

The PR leader replied, "No. Not at all. We're taking you to the Zootopia Press Club. The Leadership Institute makes their announcement today. Lourdes wants you standing there with her at the podium. The Department wants you to say a few words of appreciation."

Judy was worried, "Oh dear. That's intimidating."

The ZPD spokesmammal observed, "You two had plenty of words the other day in front of your apartment when the press asked about your marriage."

"That was different," Judy objected.

"And how is that different?" asked the annoying mammal.

Judy asserted, "Because it was just about us being a married couple, but we'll do our best, Lieutenant."

The Public Relations specialist encouraged, "You always do."

…Zootopia Press Club...

At noon, the Zootopia Leadership Institute started their briefing to the citizens at the Zootopia Press Club with the official annual 'best of' awards list. The room was bustling with press and dignitaries and honorees. This was a completely foreign situation to Nick and Judy. They were no strangers to the Press Club's briefings, but they were always assigned escort and guard duties at something like this. They were never the center of attention. Both felt uncomfortable and held hands discreetly.

Lourdes, with great pomp and circumstance, made the award announcements, with an overly long and drawn out history of the Institute proceedings and past winners like the Mayor and Chief Bogo when they were much younger mammals. Then, they only showed the promise of leadership that they exhibited every day now. Neither Nick or Judy realized their senior leaders were recipients. It made them feel even more special.

As Lourdes read the list, she gave just a few highlights of each achiever's biography prior to reading the actual names, to build up anticipation. There were a lot of shocked expressions for Joe Camel for CEO of the Year, as there were for Mr. Big as Philanthropist of the Year. The tiny arctic vole's public image as a philanthropist was far overshadowed by the alleged dark doings for which he was responsible, but never got caught or arrested.

Lourdes paused a moment for dramatic flair, and enthusiastically continued, "And now, our top winners. For distinguished heroism and sacrifice to the greater good of Zootopia, we present the distinguished Public Service Award to Officers Nicholas and Judy Wilde of the Zootopia Police Department. They are being honored for solving the prey/predator savage drug inducement and governmental conspiracy a year ago, and for sacrificing themselves for solving a long string of major bank robberies, as well as many other acts of humble service to the city."

There was absolutely no dissension from anyone regarding Nick and Judy being deserving of the top service award the city could give to a public servant.

Lourdes smiled and turned, "Nick and Judy, please come say a few words for us."

They came forward, still hand in hand, which the PR guy said was OK. The Department wanted to show they were a couple in a low key way.

They came forward and stood at the podium, but were unable to say a single word for several minutes. There was thunderous applause for the pair, more for them than any other honoree named or present with them. There were cheers in a hundred different species' hoots, calls, barks, growls, and whistles to the point of being embarrassing to them. There was too much noise to say anything, so they just stood graciously at the podium waiting for the accolades to subside, nodding and waving acknowledgement on occasion to the adoring press and public.

The noise abated finally. Judy spoke first, a bit shyly, but not to the point of being paralyzed in expressing her words of appreciation, "On behalf of me and my dear husband Nicholas, we are very deeply honored and truly humbled to be given this honor by the esteemed Institute. We really don't think we deserve this. We were just doing our jobs."

There was more applause, and they let Nick speak.

Nick said gratefully, "We hope, through this award, that we can inspire others to serve Zootopia selflessly. We look forward to the banquet, when we can tell you more about our story."

They stood back, and received more appreciation. Their emotions soared with the heartfelt praise. It was not that long ago they felt the anger and prejudice of many mammals. The press wouldn't let them go, and the applause grew again. They held hands tightly and smiled, the cameras zoomed in on that.

Eventually the praise ended, and Lourdes took the microphone at the podium again, "I can tell they like you, Nick and Judy. Over the next few weeks you, my dear mammal friends, will be allowed time to learn more about this delightful, talented crime-fighting couple the way I have."

…Nick and Judy's apartment...

Back at the apartment watching TV, Sandra held Melvin and was in tears, "They are so beautiful up there, so poised, and so deserving. I'm surprised that they didn't tell us."

Melvin snorted, "You dumb old bunny; they weren't supposed to tell anyone. And you know they don't like bragging about themselves."

…Zootopia Press Club...

With the big surprises now public, Lourdes continued with other details, "And now, I have some more exciting things to tell you. First, the very special entertainment news: Gazelle and her tiger dance troupe will perform a special tribute song that she wrote and choreographed herself for the award winners."

Some enthusiastic cheering supported that decision.

She added, "Next, I'd like to announce that Camel Broadcasting System will televise the show. It was a very tough choice between them and ZTV, with each offering very competitive and thorough bids. While they won't be televising the show, the Institute deeply appreciates ZTV's strong corporate support so that awards like his may continue to be awarded to deserving mammals at for all career fields. Let me set the record straight right now: Joe Camel's award has nothing to do with television rights. Two separate committees make those decisions and I am bound to honor them, and never influence them.

…ZTV CEO's Office...

Adeline Lionheart squinted her eyes and growled at the unhearing TV, "Yeah, right, Lourdes. I don't believe for a second that the two decisions were not coupled: Joe getting CEO of the year and his company getting to televise the ceremonies. What's wrong with that picture? Tell me another one. I bet it was a tough choice. CBS bought that contract. There is no way for Joe to make money on the TV rights. I know CBS' pricing structure. For mammal's sake, I created that pricing model as COO."

Her Administrator, reunited with her from CBS, tried to comfort her old manager, "It's just one show, boss. You're hammering CBS in almost every category."

"You're right, Twyla. Besides, this is their last year with the tuskball franchise TV coverage. We'll beat them there with our bid. We have the commercial sponsor base, marketing outreach, and endorsements that will far outweigh CBS's bid."

Adeline remembered what Judy said: 'beat CBS in the marketplace'.

Adeline couldn't dwell on the loss, and turned to other matters, "Twyla. Have you gotten the Chief on the phone yet?"

"Right after the press conference, he promised he'd call you back, Mrs. Lionheart."

Adeline delighted in her plans with Lourdes for Judy. She could so easily manipulate Bogo into agreeing. His 'tough guy' exterior that he put on for everyone else she knew was all fabrication. In high school he was the nerdy introvert, but a dear friend nonetheless that she should have listened to a long time ago when he warned her about Joe Camel and how she'd break Leodore's heart.

…CBS CEO Executive Suite...

Mid afternoon, another message went out from the gigantic Mammalian Assembly Hall to the 'Zootopia Jobs Now' website, announcing the need for food servers to apply for the Leadership Institute Awards banquet. Applications for over 200 servers and 'bus boy' cleaning crews, but only in person at the employment office, would start at 8 am the next morning. It was the biggest event of the season at the Assembly Hall.

Duke was looking for and saw the advertisement. He immediately called Joe Camel. Their private cell phones were in full encrypted mode, which was untraceable and undecipherable if phone records were subpoenaed.

"Did you see? It's up, boss."

Joe was very pleased with Duke's attention to detail, and pulled up the ad, "Good. You and the boys be in line at 5 am in the morning. Here's what I want you to do. I see they are offering a flat fee of $100 for the night for every server. We'll pay as many as 50 of them $200 cash to walk away and let our mammals cut in line and take their places to apply. That should be enough to get the job done. Get the word out to our followers. We'll say more about it at our meeting."

Duke continued to be impressed with Joe's plans, "Brilliant, sir. Paying off as many of the regular servers at the Assembly Hall to not work and infiltrate our mammals will be perfect for the final assault. We'll have a number of our guys mixed in with the regular food service workers. When the fight starts, they'll run away, and then we can take care of business. Waiters and waitresses aren't fighters."

Joe hung up and leaned back in his desk chair. He was very pleased that almost every step of his plan was flawlessly in place and he went through it mentally like a checklist:

· The Leadership Institute Awards banquet would be Ground Zero for the start of the 'new order of things' in Zootopia. Cross species sympathy would end violently for its most prominent members in only a few more days.

· Joe 'low bid' the banquet TV contract to assure the cameras stayed on when the attack commenced, so everyone in Zootopia would see the carnage live and unedited.

· While he had nothing to do with his CEO of the Year award, it was serendipitous to be seen as admired and above reproach by Zootopia. He imagined his huge grant to the Institute helped their decision selecting CBS over Adeline's much-hated ZTV.

· He just set into motion the process of getting the members of the extremist society of species purity mammals to supplant real servers and cleaners with big bribes to people with little money. Few would turn down that kind of easy cash to not work. Mammals were lazy.

· Over the next few weeks of a crash course in restaurant school training Duke would arrange, their mammals would be as good at serving the last meal to their prey as actually killing them.

· His address at the secret rally at the wharf would whip all the species purity movement zealots in the city into a frenzy to eliminate their enemies.

Joe Camel knew this was costing him a bundle of money - money that should have been paid to Mr. Big to meet his commitments or be 'iced'. But soon, he wouldn't owe Mr. Big anything, because there wouldn't be a Mr. Big any more. Joe's bills and ties to the syndicate would end with the nasty little vole's death. There had never been anything but a verbal contract between him and Mr. Big, making it unforeseeable for any successor to the crime lord to make any claims against Joe. If his daughter ascended to the family leadership, Joe would take out that little idiot bimbo too.

There was now a clear path for Joe to be at the pinnacle of Zootopia politics the day after the massacre, and he envisioned himself standing alone at the Press Club podium leading the population in mourning for the loss of the city's leadership and popular heroes, followed by announcing that he would run for the Mayor's job. The citizens would honor him for being seen on TV fighting valiantly fight against the thugs to try – unsuccessfully he reminded himself – to save the Mayor and his wife, the City Council, the fox and rabbit, and Mr. Big and his family and scores of other cross species supporters from being killed.

The citizens would sympathize with his injuries and bravery against a determined and deadly enemy as the cameras rolled. Getting a broken arm from Duke would be worth the pain to take control of Zootopia. He already knew that he would be the only viable mayoral candidate left, and he'd promise the public to bring the murderers to justice and pick up the pieces of leading the city, building on his CEO of the Year leadership capabilities. There would be instant trust from the citizens because he tried to save their heroes and he would be the assured Mayoral winner.

And then Joe could implement his original plan of total dominance. He rehearsed in his mind how he would proceed. Once elected, he would have direct influence and control of every grieving heart, mind, and soul in Zootopia. From the bully pulpit, he would quietly begin to teach the populace the dangers of cross species relations. They would listen and believe and obey, having seen on live TV the horror and pain of what happens to those taking a foolish and fatal choice with someone outside their species. No mammal would ever want that to happen to them or their offspring, and would accept that staying species-pure would guarantee their safety from 'extremists'.

He couldn't wait to address the species purity society.

"It is a brilliant plan," he bragged to himself.

Stock prices were soaring for CBS mid day on the Zootopia stock exchange. He sat back and gloated. At this rate, he would easily make up for underbidding the contract to get the rights to the show.

…ZPD Headquarters...

Bogo's Admin barged into the office bullpen area and ordered Nick and Judy like she was the Chief, "Nick, I need Judy for the rest of the afternoon. Right now. Chief's orders."

Nick was taken aback at her directness and Judy was surprised, "Uh well, sure…"

"Come with me now, Judy."

"Nick? I… uh… I'll be back. I guess," she replied and looked a little fretful.

Bogo's admin hurried off with Judy like she was a freshly captured prey.

Nick tried to object and fumed, but as soon as Judy left, a big mammal entered the room. He realized it was Bogo and asked, "What the heck is going on, boss?"

Bogo heard the trembling in Nick's voice being unexpectedly and inexplicably separated from his bride, something that affected him and her more than they expected, so the veteran cop explained to the fox, "I know this seems a little irregular Nick, but trust me on this one. Go do some PT until she gets back, or go get some coffee. And please calm down, young mammal. She'll be fine. She'll be back soon. You don't get apart very much do you?"

"Gets back from where, sir? And no sir, we don't. We don't want to. He haven't been apart a minute since the bank robbery, the hospital, and our wedding."

"I remember those days, Officer Wilde. Enjoy them. This is going to be a fun surprise for her. She's being taken to Lemur & Tapir's Department store to shop for her banquet gown. You know. L&T?"

"Oh yeah, I know that place. I'm afraid that we've never shopped there. It's a little above our price range."

Nick didn't admit that he'd shoplifted there before in his street crime days.

Bogo explained further, "Just so you'll know, Adeline LIonheart is going to buy Judy the formal ensemble for the banquet. I know that a young police couple could never afford a formal gown for an affair like that. This is a very big deal and the whole city watches. You'll wear a formal police tux."

Nick noted, "I don't have a formal police tux."

Bogo smiled, "In about twenty minutes you will. It's about time you have one. You're getting to be a veteran cop. You'll have to go to more events like this. Come over to the Uniforms Department for a fitting."

Nick complained a bit, "Why not have both of us wear formal police 'dress' uniforms? The ladies' version is quite attractive."

Without blinking Bogo stated firmly, "She's female. It's TV. You're getting the top civilian awards that you can ever possibly earn. She has to look glamorous even as a cop."

This situation was yet another one of those gray areas.

Nick was displeased, "Sir? L&T is the most exclusive female's store in town. We can't take a corporate gift. You know we've talked about that. The Mayor's wife is CEO of ZTV. Isn't that a direct conflict of interest between the Police and ZTV?"

"It's different Nick. For this purchase, remember Adeline Lionheart is the Mayor's wife. We work for him. Not only that, she's Chairman of the Board of Regents for the Leadership Institute – strictly a non-profit organization - and they'll both be with Lourdes, the Institute's CEO. They'll be using professional development money from the Young Female Professionals fund."

Nick was sort of reeling with all of that, but replied, "I guess that isn't a conflict…"

"But it's good to always be cautious, Officer Wilde. Thanks for bringing that up to keep this whole event ethical," Bogo replied.

What neither Nick nor Bogo had noticed in their discussion was the latest word search that Judy had just started when she was whisked away by Bogo's Admin. Her searches on 'fobbit' and 'fabbit' had failed like all the others, and in fact kicked in the 'warning: adult material' screen blocker, but using the expanded search word 'rabox' and all of its permutations, especially the mirror word 'xobar', her screen was filling with pages and pages of 'hits'. Her neglected computer screensaver flipped on and obscured what was happening.

…In a limo and at L&T Department Store...

Judy was escorted out of the building and into an idling limo.

"Have fun," Bogo's Admin stated, and closed the door before the bewildered rabbit could answer.

Lourdes and Adeline were inside, both waiting for her. They greeted her with broad smiles.

Judy was shocked to find the females anticipating her arrival, "Adeline? Lourdes?"

"Hi Judy, dear," answered Adeline and then inquired with a sing-song tone to her voice, "Are you doing anything important this afternoon?"

That wasn't really a question, but for her peace of mind Judy answered it honestly anyway.

Judy answered, "Well, ma'am, Officer Wilde and I were about to go on an afternoon patrol."

The young rabbit knew that was not going to happen.

Adeline suggested with a smile, "Wouldn't you rather shop for a gown for the big event instead of going on a boring old patrol?"

Judy was very surprised, and while pleased with this kind of attention from two of the most important female mammals in Zootopia, she was reluctant, "Shop for a gown? There's a Koala's nearby, but I don't know if I should. Today is a normal work day and I'm on official police business. The Chief is not going to agree for me to do that with you. I'm really sorry ma'am, but I have to get back to work."

Adeline scoffed, "The Chief has already agreed with the Mayor and me for you to come with us. Besides, we aren't going to Koala's. You can shop there anytime. This is one very special time to do something very different. For the record, Officer Wilde, this is official police business when it concerns your civic award, honey. We're going to L&T for some 'official professional female law enforcement officer merchandising opportunities'."

Adeline and Lourdes laughed at their cleverly worded business purpose in shopping for dresses.

Judy was now truly shocked, "Oh my goodness. I can't afford to shop there."

"Not to worry, dear," noted Lourdes, "Your formal wear is a legitimate Leadership Institute expense. You're a female career professional."

Adeline emphasized, "Now you need to look like one - to inspire young females like yourself to greatness."

Judy warmed up to this idea, but asked cautiously, "What am I allowed to buy?"

Without skipping a beat, Lourdes told her, "Whatever makes you look professional and stunning at the same time, dear."

"Have a glass of champagne," Adeline said happily, and handed her a glass.

"But I'm not supposed to drink on the job," complained Judy.

This trip was the epitome of things she wasn't supposed to do on the job but was going to do.

She got a couple of annoyed looks from Adeline and Lourdes. Sheepishly, she took the champagne, clinked the glass with her mentors, and took a sip. It was really good and the fizz tickled her nose. It was imported from the overseas mammalian megacity somewhat like Zootopia known as Sherwood Forest. They managed to finish that glass and another before they got to the exclusive luxury department store, and she was feeling pretty content. There was more left for the ride home.

"Just how many 'gray areas' are there in the heights of Zootopia politics?" Judy wondered, but suppressed a smile as the big limo pulled up to the store. The driver opened the door for them, and all three got out.

"Ah! I just love the smell of new clothes in this store!" Adeline exclaimed as she smiled up into the huge lobby and atrium ceiling.

They all chuckled.

The store manager greeted them at the entrance. The perfectly dressed female moose knew they were coming, and said cheerily, "Good day, Mrs. Lionheart. How can we help you today?"

Adeline grinned, "Not me, Maureen. Let's take care of Mrs. Wilde today, and my friend Lourdes who runs the Leadership Institute. We need to fix them both up with an evening gown and ensemble for the awards banquet."

The manager bowed graciously and invited, "Greetings ladies, and thank you for shopping with us. We know we have just the right thing for each of you. Come with me, please, and we'll show you the absolute latest fashions to look your best for the banquet."

Judy had never seen such an array of expensive dresses and gowns in her entire life, but after an hour or so, one caught her eye, not only because it looked fabulous on her, but it would be something Nick would love to see her wear.

"At least for a few minutes," she chuckled to herself.

…Nick and Judy's Apartment...

Judy came home loaded down with packages a little after six. It was useless to go back to ZPD because her shift was over, and Adeline wouldn't let her. She was not dressed in her uniform but something else far more feminine and infinitely more expensive than she had ever worn. This one dress, accessories, and cover wrap were more expensive than all the clothes she owned put together.

She noticed a note on the apartment door in Nick's handwriting that said, "Shhhhh!" got a little thrill with the implication, and she tiptoed in. Steven was gone, though she noticed a couple of hoof print stains in the carpet. She crept by the guest bedroom and noticed that Sandra and Melvin were snuggled together and taking a nap. She held her breath with anticipation getting closer to her and Nick's bedroom. The effects of another glass of champagne added to her desire.

Judy could not be happier. She guessed correctly where Nick was: in bed. She carefully opened the door so it didn't squeak. He was naked, and was clearly waiting for her.

With a very pleased tone in her whisper, she kidded him, "Nickie! Goodness. Can't you be apart from me for a few hours?"

"No dear," he said with true honesty and bedroom eyes.

"Me neither, sweetheart," she admitted and wanted this special moment too.

"What's that you're wearing?" Nick whispered in admiration.

Judy had a floor length woven powder blue light sweater wrap, but there was something showing from underneath.

"Oh, just a little something for you," she teased. She'd been coached by the best socialites in town.

Nick was a little more direct, "Are you wearing your new gown?"

"Yes dear. I'm so proud of it. The store manager and the ladies wanted me to wear it home, to model it for you. In case you didn't like it, there's a second one. You can unwrap me, dear."

Nick raised an eyebrow. Judy knew exactly what she said.

"Gladly, Carrots," Nick stated with an inviting tone that Judy did not miss.

He got up, giving her a full view of his masculinity. Despite being intimately familiar with every inch of his physique, she nearly swooned, and let him remove the wrap.

Underneath that wrap was an amazing sight. Nick's eyes grew very large and his smile grew a mile across, greatly pleasing her. She shivered in anticipation of what was coming after the modeling session was over.

Judy was wearing the most amazing dress Nick had ever seen her other than her wedding gown. It was a very clingy, floor length, iridescent royal blue formal. She wore a stunning silver necklace around her neck and a matching silver bracelet. She carried a color-coordinated sequined clutch purse. A glimpse of her bare hind paws peaked from underneath the gown that had matching anklets. They sparkled and drew attention to her shapely legs and lower body. All of her new jewelry matched her wedding and engagement rings. The dark blue dress had a deep cut at the neckline, and it accentuated the slight cleavage she had as a rabbit female. Moreover, she was bare shouldered, and the dress was held up by spaghetti straps.

Judy turned to show her backside and Nick audibly gulped. The back line of the gown plunged all the way underneath her cottontail and her gray and white fur colors popped out against the blue. Her hindquarters were covered below her tail, but followed their shape exactly as if she were nude and he about fainted. Her cottontail had a jeweled silver choker around its base. It was incredible. The nature of the fabric clung to ever body curve she had, and Nick had indelibly memorized all those amazing curves. She bent a leg slightly and the slit in the dress that went halfway up her right thigh revealed her beautiful gray furred leg. One of the anklets flashed in the bedroom light.

Subjected to this incredible display of his wife's attractive body covered by the scintillating dress and jewelry, Nick's eyes bugged, his tongue hung out, and he started panting. It was exactly the reaction she wanted. Not to mention that her dress caused another reaction in Nick that was happening as she watched with pleasure.

Nick swallowed hard and whispered unsteadily, "J-J-Judy, sweetheart, this is simply amazing. You are as beautiful as the day I married you."

"Hmm… I can clearly see that you like my gown," she grinned, giving him a seductive pose.

"Like it? I love it! That blue will match my ZPD blue tux, Carrots," Nick exclaimed, and had no shame at his display of affection for her.

"A tux?" Judy was happily surprised.

"I'll show you."

"Later, Nickie. Right now I want to show you the special features of my new gown. Come here."

"Sure…" he gladly obeyed.

They stood as close together as his excited body would let them without touching, which in his current state was pretty far apart - to Judy's amusement. Nick was hoping that one of the features of the gown would be the fastest way he could get it off her. She did not disappoint him.

"Flip the spaghetti straps off my shoulders," she invited with a very mischievous smile.

"Uhh… OK…" he could barely say, and he lifted the thin straps in his paws upward, above, and away from her shoulders. He was shaking, because he knew what would happen next.

She smiled adoringly at him, "Now let go, dear."

As soon as he did, she wiggled a little, and the shimmering, thin gown delicately dropped in loose pile at her ankles.

"Whoa, Carrots…" he exclaimed in as loud a whisper as he dared.

She stood before him with nothing on, matching him. She posed to make sure her hips and bosom were emphasized fully, and that he got a view of all seven shades of gray and white fur at once.

"Hi there, Nickie," she whispered not so innocently.

His eyes got wider yet and he gaped at her, wanting to touch and be where that seventh shade of gray fur was, and asked, "Where's your underwear, Carrots?"

"In my L&T bag with my uniform. Do you care, Nickie?" she teased.

He quipped, "Underwear? What underwear?"

"That's more like it, fox," Judy giggled.

She reached out with her fore paws widely outstretched and pulled her husband into her embrace. He felt very warm against her.

With the always-exhilarating feeling of his fur against her fur, he exclaimed, "I love this."

She encouraged, "Then, Nickie dear, you'll love this better."

Still pressed together in their embrace, Judy methodically backed Nick against the foot of their bed. He was off balance enough with what she was doing, that with a single paw, she easily pushed Nick back first into their bed.

Seeing that her husband was completely prepared for her, Judy climbed up to straddle him and easily completed their union.

Despite himself, he yipped, trying to be as quiet as he could, barely suppressing an outright howl. Judy and Nick were in utter delight with the intense feeling of this new way, enjoying, as they preferred for a few minutes, the sight and feeling of simply being joined before getting started.

It was a little too late to do anything about it, but Judy asked, looking down at him, "Nickie, what about Sandra and Melvin? Are they… umm… napping?"

Managing to calm himself enough to carry on a conversation with his bride, he told her, "They only started their nap. We have time. They said they usually nap about 45 minutes, and then they'll be ready for dinner.

"That's plenty of time, dear husband," she whispered, and leaned against his chest. She kissed him full on his snout, and felt his paws reach for and grasp their favorite places as they began their lovers' ritual.

A little while later when it got a lot quieter in the apartment, Melvin opened one eye at his bride to see her beaming at him, "Did they… um…?"

Melvin was having a little trouble hearing these days.

"Yes, dear. I heard them finish. They were so sweet, but good heavens, what desire they have for each other. Give them a little more time just to snuggle, dear. They won't want to excuse themselves from us tonight. You know they'll feel self conscious suggesting that they want some private time. Pretending to nap was a perfect excuse, dear. They think they're undisturbed."

Melvin was proud of his wife, "I'm so glad Judy sent you that text that she was on her way home from shopping so you could 'set them up' for their date. You're the best matchmaker ever, Sandra, honey."

Sandra kissed him on his snout tenderly, "That's my specialty, honey. It was so cute that she took our suggestion and played along. She could have been too embarrassed. Some brides are that way."

Melvin noted candidly, "Not these two, and not this bride. They may be polite, but neither one of them are that shy."

The shower in Nick and Judy's bathroom started, along with several male and female giggles.

Sandra gave her husband a big smile, "Now we have time, dear. You know how long it used to take to clean me up after you… well you know..."

He grinned with pride, "How can I forget? I can still do that."

She looked under the covers and saw an amazing sight only meant for her eyes, and smiled, "Oh Melvin. Look at you, you big handsome old fox. I thought you didn't bring your pills?"

"I didn't. Honey, you and the kids have inspired me so much lately that I don't need those."

He rolled over on her, falling into her welcoming intimate embrace.

After they had finished, Melvin and Sandra had to take their very own intimate cleansing shower before dinner, making them feel young again. After sharing a delivered pizza, the foursome had a wonderful time recounting Sandra and Melvin's beautiful marriage across the decades, raising not only Michael and the short but good time they had with him, but all their adopted children and grandkits. Exhausted from the long fun night of talking and their separate secret intimacy earlier, plus the very long stressful night the night before, they all turned in early.

Tomorrow was Friday, and Bogo let Nick and Judy have a day off due to all the excitement and distraction, and the arrival of Mr. Big's wedding gift. The pair was looking forward to celebrate their one week anniversary on Sunday.

They reflected that it seemed like a lifetime of things had happened to them in their first week of marriage.

…The Lionhearts' Apartment…

Adeline and Leodore had enjoyed a nice quiet, late, home-cooked dinner together that Leodore had surprised his new bride with upon her return to the apartment. Adeline had to go back to work for awhile after dropping Judy off at her residence. Being nearly bedtime, Leodore had propped up a pillow in bed and was leaned back comfortably and only had some shorts on. He had stopped reading a book before bed. Adeline was in the bathroom, but talked to him.

Adeline was effusive, "It was such a delight going to L&T today with Judy Wilde and Lourdes. Judy is such a dear, sweet rabbit. She's so down to earth and so genuine. I had the best time with her and Lourdes. I just felt like a normal female having a good time with friends, not some high powered corporate exec."

"So how much did you spend?" he kidded.

"Well you know it's all my money anyway whenever I go there, darling, but this was official Institute business getting our honoree her formal gown and some things to go with it."

"So… were you successful?" he quizzed her.

"More than successful. It was amazing, Leodore. Goodness sakes. She's such a beautiful rabbit – the prettiest I've ever seen. All of Zootopia is going to fall in love with her – with this couple – if they haven't already. She picked out a truly snout-dropping dress, which I would guess - after showing it off to her husband Nick tonight - he wouldn't let her keep it on very long. I forget they are as newly married as we are."

They laughed.

"Speaking of being snout-droppingly beautiful - are you going to primp yourself all night in there?"

She actually was waiting for him to invite her to their bed, "No, dear. I'm coming out now. I did get something special."

She walked out of the bathroom in her brand new negligee and posed as explicitly as she could for her new husband. It was the shortest, sheerest baby-doll style nightie that Leodore had ever seen. Both top and bottom were totally see-through, and the top was completely edged with frills. The see-through fabric had a lace-like pattern weaved throughout that actually hid nothing. The tiny panties - with just a triangular fabric patch in front held with a string - just emphasized Adeline's femininity and focused Leodore's eyes on her.

Leodore nearly shouted he was so mesmerized, "Oh… my… gosh…! Was this supposed to be special for you or for me?"

"Yes," she mewed and winked. He gasped.

Leodore found himself fumbling for speech, and suddenly his shorts felt very confining, "Wow, Adeline. You might as well be wearing nothing at all."

Adeline chirped, "If you would like to make me resemble that remark, you're welcome to do so, husband, as long as I can return the favor."

They were both in quite a hurry to help undress each other. Once they completed their task, he carried her nude body in his arms and paws to the bed, and seated them both gently on the edge.

He was about to adjust the pillow to recline together, but she stopped him.

"Leodore, sweetheart, weren't you comfortable sitting up in bed?"

"Yes. I was quite comfortable," he answered, sensing her suggestion.

She urged, "Well then, let's make sitting in our bed memorable. Why don't I just join you?"

"Uh, yeah. Of course, darling," he said with his head reeling, and scooted with his back against the pillow again.

With a tender smile, Adeline - in every sense of the word - joined him by kneeling and sitting squarely in his lap. They were soon one, and were quite anxious for each other. Both roared with pleasure and growled in the sheer plateaus of their time together. No one would hear their sounds of joy but them.

…2 am. On the streets of Zootopia near CBS Tower…

A beat up stolen car with fake license plates pulled up alongside Joe Camel, who was pacing the streets.

Joe was really upset, "You're late, Duke. I've been wearing a rut in this sidewalk for 20 minutes. I was getting nervous.

Duke averted his eyes and apologized, "Sorry, boss. I got hung up on another job. With all due respect sir, you're in charge of this meeting. You're not late until you show up at the podium."

That only made the camel feel a little bit better. Discipline within the society was very important to Joe. He couldn't instill respect and trust among the society members if something as simple as the leader being on time to the meeting he called didn't happen.

Joe dismissed the excuse and chastised the gigantic rhino, "As far as I'm concerned, Duke, you only have one job tonight: to get us to the docks.

Duke knew Joe had no idea what tonight was really going to be about, but the rhino placated the camel, "It won't happen again, sir. We'll be on time. I promise."

Joe slammed the car door closed and Duke roared off.