Just Another Night in the Band

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Fandom Fanatics

Chapter 36 (v.1) - Chapter 36

Submitted: March 17, 2017

Reads: 76

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Submitted: March 17, 2017

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Why the hell did I agree to this?

That had been going through my head on a loop the last three hours. I knew Mercy could spend all day looking at clothes, we'd had to drag her from any place that sold the stuff at closing time more than once. But it was the last thing I'd expected from Carrots; she just seemed like the type to browse, buy and split as fast as she could.

But as usual with her, I'd turned out to be completely wrong.

"Ooh, Judy, check this one out!"

I pushed my sunglasses up as I rubbed a paw over my eyes, trying to drown out their silly squealing. They'd already tried to drag me in to it more than once, had to be the only times I've been able to resist the 'kicked baby' looks they loved using. I had gotten one thing right about that bunny, though, she wasn't above trying to manipulate animals to get what she wanted. She wasn't petty or (too) obvious about it, but after a while it was easy to tell she was just trying to get under your fur.

"Those ugly shirts you like will only work for so long, Slick," it was one of the last lines she'd tried. She'd tugged at the one I'd thrown on this morning, the same blue and white one from the day I'd shown her the city. I'd grabbed the gray pants I always wore with it out of habit, trying not to think she might actually have a point. "Sooner or later, someone with a big mouth is gonna figure it out, and you'll have to think up a whole new disguise."

I let my shades fall back in place and took out my phone, feeling the glare of a cashier on my tail as I leaned against the wall by the fitting rooms. I kept an ear out for the girls as I looked through Furbook, trying to find any other leads we might've missed. There hadn't been any actual attacks since we'd sprung all those preds from Meadowbrook, unless you counted my little tussle with Brandon, but that didn't mean anyone had let their guard down. If anything, the lull just made animals more nervous, that whole 'calm before the storm' crap and everything.

Don't get me wrong, I'd be lying if I said I took it as a good sign, but also if I wasn't liking the break from the whole thing. Now we could just focus on finding where this drug came from, which would hopefully lead us to whoever was behind it all. Then we'd finally be able to find a cure and bury this case, but I'd be an idiot to think things would just instantly get better after that. This thing had scarred mammals, in a lot of cases, literally, and it'd be a long time before any of those scars actually healed, if they ever did at all.

"Hey, Nick!"

My ear flicked at Carrots' voice, the new kind of excitement in it I wasn't quite used to hearing. They'd both paraded in several outfits so far, mostly in the 'just plain weird' to the 'what the hell are you thinking' range. It'd been kind of funny at first, but like everything else about this day had just gotten grating. I smirked at the frustrated sound she let out, like a kit who didn't think they were getting enough attention.

"Nick, I'm going to shove that phone down your throat if you don't put it down," she huffed. "Now quit ignoring me and look!"

My plan was to glance up, just long enough to get her to shut up, but instead my eyes flicked to her and locked there. I couldn't stop the gasp that slipped out, my phone falling to the floor as my paws went numb. I swallowed, my mouth suddenly Sahara Square.

"Wow…"

Damn it, even I could hear how awestruck I sounded. The dress itself wasn't much: off-shoulder, long sleeves and skirt, but it made it hard to miss how small her waist was, and it was what had just become my favorite shade of blue, like the sky at noon on a clear day. It set off her fur in a way nothing else had, made her eyes stand out even more than they already did.

Her ears were as red as mine, falling back against her head as she walked toward me. I knelt when she got to me, brushing her cheek with the backs of my fingers.

"You look incredible…" I still sounded dazed, but now I didn't care. My eyes flicked to her lips, her big front teeth chewing the bottom one nervously. Her paw hovered over my chest, but I was sure she could feel how hard my heart was going, getting faster as I leaned closer. Her paws slipping over my shoulders as mine curled around her waist, her breath shaking against my nose as…

"Oh, my god, I knew it!"

Carrots yanked back from me, the flush in her ears flaring across her face. Mercy was bouncing in place, her smile so wide I thought her whole face would crack. But it stopped the second I glowered I her, and she slinked away with her tail between her legs. I turned back to Carrots, who pulled my paws off her back and shoved them at my chest.

"Well, I-I guess I…I-I'll just get out of this, then," she wouldn't look at me, but she still threw up a weak excuse of a smile. "I-I wouldn't want to outdo the bride, after all!"

She scampered off, tripping over the skirt at almost every step. The sound of a door clicking shut echoed in my head, I barely noticed when Mercy peeked around the side of another one.

Had that really just happened? Or had I finally passed out from boredom and this was all just some dream? The fading heat in my ears and growing pain in my chest told me it wasn't. I really had almost kissed Judy Hopps, again, and she'd stopped it just because Mercy had seen us. Would she have done the same thing if it had been anyone else? Had she just been scared, or had it been something else?

No, I shook my head, hard enough to make me nauseous. S-She was just caught off-guard, she's never cared what anyone else thought before.

Or did she? I'd stared in her eyes as she'd pushed me away, and my gut dropped when I realized the shame I'd seen in them. It hadn't been much, mixed in with massive embarrassment I shared and a lot of things I couldn't name. But it didn't matter that it'd only been a little, the fact was she'd been caught in the arms of a predator, and even more, a fox, and she'd been ashamed of it.

Ashamed of me.


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