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Friday, January 27th, 2017 06:06 pm
I should update Wilde Spirits but this is late enough as it is. This was posted on AO3 on 15 Jan, and only made it here two weeks later.

Teaser and summary: "My name? With a name like Nick Wilde, why would I be embarrassed of anything?"
"Nick of the nicknames? A little too fitting." Judy sat back in her seat at the bar, with her arms crossed. "Are you pulling my leg with a fake name?"
Nick - if that was even his name - shrugged off her comment. "Maybe I am. And what's your fake name, beautiful?"
 
Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde have a different meet cute when Judy joins the force earlier - he tries to pick her up at a bar. Banter and flirting send temperatures sky rocketing, but is that all that's going on?

Rating: M
Genre: Shippy canon divergence
Warnings for: Pick-up lines of varying quality, dirty talk
Disclaimer: If I owned Zootopia, it wouldn't have taken me so long to locate a Nick Wilde tsum tsum.

The bar, with mega fauna in high energy and rough housing each other, reminded Judy of the ZPD bull pen on Monday morning. Conversation at top volume, pounding of tables, one up manship... yeah ZPD officers ended their week in the same way that they began it.

Judy was just having a hard time trying to convince the elephant server blocking her way that if she could manage the bull pen, she could manage the bar.

"Look, sir, I'm not trying to bend the rules, but I am really a ZPD officer - "

Judy thought she spotted an eye roll at that point, though she wasn't sure with how the elephant was silhouetted against the light. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, she pressed on.

"And that is clearly the ZPD table. So if you'd excuse me, this ZPD officer needs to head over to the ZPD table." With a chuckle, she tried to dart past the elephant.

A hoof blocked her path again as the elephant crouched to bring his glowering face closer to Judy's. "Look, I didn't write the rules of this bar, but it clearly says that you have to be this tall to enter this section." Without taking his hoof away he used his trunk to jab at the sign tacked up at the side of the entrance. Judy made herself look at the sign again. The words on the sign, "You must be this tall to enter", loomed obnoxiously over her head. Even if Judy stretched, she might make it halfway to the sign at most.

"We have a lot of drunk megafauna here, and we don't want to risk small critters like rabbits getting squashed. So why don't you follow the rules, officer, like a good police mammal and stick to your side of the bar?" The elephant straightened back to his usual height. "Or you could get your fellow officers to find a table where you'd be able to join them. If you're a police mammal like you said, officer."

Judy scowled up at the elephant, but she had no choice but to turn away. Clawhauser had tipped her off that the other officers were having their usual Friday drinks at the bar a street away from the Precinct One Headquarters. "It'll put a smile on anyone's face after a long day on the streets!" he'd promised, and Judy, after a long day of meter maiding, thought that sounded amazing.

But Clawhauser had drawn the short stick and was stuck on the late shift on a Friday night. He wasn't with the laughing officers on the other side.

- then again, Clawhauser promised that he'd definitely swing by once his shift ended at 10pm, along with a few other officers. Maybe it would be easier for Judy to save them a table where she'd actually be allowed to sit.

"That's right, think positive, think positive," she reminded herself as she hunted for a table. It was late enough that the larger tables were taken, but at one there was a promising group with enough empty glasses that they didn't seem in a hurry to refill.

Judy slid into a bar stool at the counter, both of which were admittedly a better height for her than whatever was in the section the other ZPD officers were in. That unfortunately brought her face to face with the bartender for this section - an olive baboon that kept a pointed stare on her as he polished glasses. After the less than stellar treatment by the server, Judy didn't want to give the place more business than she had to. But she had been raised with a basic sense of decency, and recalling her parents' lectures made Judy sigh and point at a random tap on the draught beer tower. "I'll have half a pint of that."

The bartender flipped the glass he had been polishing to rinse it out, before filling the glass with the beer that Judy had asked for. Judy sighed as she looked at the beer, wondering how long she could drag it out before the beer got too warm to taste nice.

Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a fox leaning against the bar counter.

She bit back a gasp, then she shook her head at herself. She should cut it out. After all, Zootopia was full of predators, and that meant foxes, and foxes were -

- Now she was channeling her Dad. Great. Next she was going to start at the sight of predators just like good old Dad.

While she was lost in thought, the fox had moved close enough that she could observe him. Like how his casual slouch against the counter matched his casual clothes - loose tie and a button down with a jarring print. Neither hid the way his eyes shifted over the mammals in the bar, as if casing the joint. Well two could play at that game. She turned as she picked up her drink so she could watch the fox's behaviour from the reflection of the draught beer tower. He'd pushed off the bar now, following in the wake of a rhino server to make his way through the crowd. He passed behind a rowdy table, and then -

Wait, where'd he go?

She kept a close eye on the table to make sure she spotted the fox when he reappeared. Any time now...
"You know, you're a lot cuter up close."

Judy started, which was pretty restrained considered that the shock of the sudden comment had nearly sent her jumping out of her chair. She adjusted her position so that the draught taps weren't all that she could see and found the fox had taken the seat just next to her. He was sizing her up now, elbow up on the bar counter so he could lean in. Judy tensed at the attention, wondering if it would be too obvious if she went to look for another seat, right now.

Then the fox smiled, his whole expression lighting up. "I think I'm attracted to you, but I can't tell because I don't know you. Would you be interested in getting to know each other?"

He sounded earnest, both in his choice of words and his tone. He looked earnest, wide eyed and smiling without even a hint of teeth. Suddenly why she was flustered at his leaning in was completely different from her reasons a minute ago.

"Um. Wow. I think I know that you're pretty forward." She chuckled, hoping the laughter would help to unwind her knot of nervousness.

The fox didn't even blink. "You're pretty direct yourself, sweetheart, to tell me that straight. I like a girl who knows her mind."

Nicknames, after hundreds of siblings, were something Judy was a lot more confident dealing with. She seized the chance for a more comfortable topic. "Since you don't seem to mind my straight shooting, I'm letting you know I'm not a nickname type of girl. Sweetheart? Isn't my kind of thing."

"That's a shame, I'm a nickname kind of guy. What's your kind of nickname? Fluff? Honey buns? Oh I know - how about gorgeous?"

"Slow your roll, slick, you're going to run out of nicknames if you keep this up."

"You're a lot better at this than I am. You picked something that goes pretty well with my name and you don't even know what it is."

"And who might you be, Mr Mysterious?"

"For you darling? Anyone you want."

Judy was starting to appreciate why they called this a charm offensive. There was a small part of her that preened at the words, though the more sensible part of her returned with, "Oh really? Or are you just embarrassed of your name?"

"My name?" He chuckled and straightened his tie, though he still kept an annoying gap at the top. "With a name like Nick Wilde, why would I be embarrassed of anything?"

"Nick of the nicknames? A little too fitting." She sat back in her seat with her arms crossed. "Are you pulling my leg with a fake name?"

Nick - if that was even his name - shrugged off her comment. "Maybe I am. And what's your fake name, beautiful?"

It wasn't exactly a fake name, but it was all Judy had in the mind at the moment. "Hopps. Like the beer I'm drinking." She raised her glass for emphasis.

"You sure it isn't Angel Cake? Because I'm sure you'll be heavenly to eat."

He was sizing her up again, and the rake of his eyes gave Judy the shivers - of what sort she wasn't sure now. "I'm not sure that's something a fox ought to be saying to a rabbit."

"Hey, I'd let you call me Carrots if that got you to eat me."

"Not all rabbits eat carrots, you know."

"My bad. I assumed you came from a carrot choked podunk, but I supposed I guessed wrong. Anything else I should know, sugar? Foxes a no go? You're not even into guys?"

"Well, now that you mention it, there is something you got terribly wrong."

He sucked in a breath and squared his shoulders as if gearing for a fight, with his stance was so obviously wrong that it was kind of endearing. "Alright. I'm ready for it now, hit me."

"Podunk is in Deerbrooke County, and I grew up in Bunnyburrow. "

"And here I was thinking I would have to crossdress in a Playbunny outfit to get your attention."

"That's a lot of trouble for a random rabbit you just met in a bar. Are you sure there isn't a vixen you'd rather impress?"

"What can I say?" He tucked a finger under Judy's chin and smiled right at her. "Your good looks crossed the species line, doll."

Judy turned to sip on her beer, both to give herself some space, and also in the hope that the cool of the beer could douse her blush before it made it to her ears. So there was a fox interested in her. It was time to put aside her old fashioned ideas about such things. She was in Zootopia now, where anyone could be anything. A fox could be interested in a rabbit he just met in a bar. Judy could be... convinced to return the attention.

If "Nick" was sincere about this, she had some questions for him. "What about you?"

"What about me?"

"I know you like nicknames and you're charming, but neither of those are traits attractive enough to cross the species line."

"Here I thought my charm totally crosses the species lines. How about my sincerity then?"

"Sincerity?"

"See I saw the hard time that this guy was giving you." Nick jerked a thumb at the elephant server in the other section that Judy had been ignoring until now. "I thought it wouldn't do to see a pretty lady so down, so I came over to put a smile on your face."

She had to reach out for his paw after that. She was barely able to cover it, seeing that it was so much larger and warmer than hers, like the mammal it belonged to. "That's really nice of you."

Nick smiled down at her, then started to lean in.

Judy found herself blurting out, "Can I buy you a drink?"

If Nick was offended by her refusal to let him kiss her, he didn't show it. "When it comes to chivalry I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy. It's too bad you already have a drink."

"I'm a modern kind of girl," said Judy, because that was what was really going on, not any horrible backwards thoughts lurking around in her mind. "I insist. My treat."

"Let's find a compromise between your modern sensibilities and my old fashioned ways then. I'll trade you - a kiss for a drink."

She bit down a squeak as he leaned in. Nick was a nice fox really, there was no reason to get him in trouble by making a fuss. Especially since he didn't go for her lips, instead sweeping up her paw to place a tender kiss on the back.

When his eyes met hers again, she couldn't help ribbing, "Old-fashioned."

He rubbed a pad over her knuckles, sending a thrill through her with the touch. "Well if you want to bring us back to the modern era you can still buy me that drink."

Chuckling, she waved to the bartender, who didn't seem to mind a rabbit and a fox were holding hands at his bar and took Nick's order without comment. Honestly, Judy had been overreacting. No one minded, and the cackling was probably a figment of her imagination...

Her ears twitched as she heard the sound of laughter drift her way again.

Well, this was a rowdy bar after all. Mammals were probably laughing for all sorts of reasons. She needed to stop finding excuses for the biased little voice that sounded like her parents. Yet it wouldn't hurt to be sure and prove that treacherous voice wrong. It just was going to be hard to look around if Nick's attention was all on her. What else was he interested in? She knew very little about him except he was also at this bar.

"So, come here often?" she asked, trying not to cringe at how this topic sounded like a bad pick-up line.

"Often enough that I know everybody. But you, darling, are new to Zootopia."

"Oh you're that sure about that."

"Is this like the Podunk thing again? Let me make another guess. Came here as a kid and liked it so much you're back again?"

"No, you're right. I've only been in Zootopia since I started work about a month ago. But I've wanted to come to Zootopia my whole life, and I've just read so much about it that I feel I know the city - " Judy cut herself off. Nick had drawn her into talking about herself again.

"Zootopia, the city that mammals keep dreaming about." Nick raised his glass for a toast. "To dreams."

As Judy clinked her glass against his, she heard another shout of laughter. She took the chance while Nick drank to try and catch sight of the source of laughter in the reflection of the draught beer tower. At first it seemed that she was over reacting, but then she spotted a honey badger within earshot slapping the table as she laughed with a fennec fox. That didn't mean anything. They could have nothing to do with Nick.
Judy had taken too long; Nick had been watching her for a while. "Penny for your thoughts," he prompted.

"I was wondering what your dream was."

"Well, she's sitting right in front of me, holding my paw."

"Charmer. I bet you say that to all the girls," Judy ribbed, but she was still flushing at the notion.

"All the girls in the world aren't you."

The shout of laughter from the badger was just what Judy needed to snap back to reality from the honey of Nick’s words. She had already been leaning in, so it was easy to pretend that she'd actually meant to rest her head on his shoulder.

Apparently she had been watching Nick as closely as he had been watching her. With her eyes off him, Nick flashed the badger a thumbs up that Judy wouldn't have seen if it hadn't been for conveniently placed reflective surfaces. The same surface let her see the badger returning the thumbs up before slapping the fennec fox on the back.

Judy tried to see if she could catch Nick in the act, but the moment she tilted her head to look up at him his expression had smoothed to the same attentive gaze he'd turned her way this entire time. There was no sign that he'd been making gestures at the table across the bar.

Well two could play at that game. Judy dropped her chin a little to look up at Nick with lowered eyelashes. Suzy had insisted it made Judy look more approachable to the bucks of Bunnyburrow. "Was this part of your dream?" she prompted.

Whatever Nick was thinking, it made him slow to answer. "Well, no. Bunnies never let me get this close. Besides, my dream involved a lot more kissing."

She pressed up closer against Nick's side, checking reflections at the same time. The badger was trying to explain something, jabbing at the fennec for emphasis. Neither seemed concerned that the badger's emphatic gesture with her claws could take out an eye. Judy much preferred where she was. "I think we're pretty sweet right now."

"It'll be a lot sweeter if my dream girl gave me a kiss."

They were tucked too close together for Judy to get a good read of his expression, but when she shifted she could hear the calm beat of Nick's heart as a counterpoint to his words. She tried to ignore other things she was starting to notice, like how she wanted to curl up with him. "Hmm. And why do you deserve a kiss?"

"Because I'm me." Judy was well-positioned to elbow Nick in the ribs. "Oof, I mean it though."

He did mean it - his heartbeat was still steady but Judy wanted to see how he was going to salvage this. "Sure you don't want to try again?"

"Tell me, how often do you get the chance to get close to a fox that's madly into you without having to care what anyone else thinks?" He squeezed the paw he was still holding. "I think that deserves a kiss."

She was glad of how they were nestled together. This close he couldn't see how he managed to get to her when she still didn't know enough about him. Including what was his deal with the badger and the other fox in this bar. She fiddled with the end of his tie. "And there's no other reason why you're asking for a kiss."

"If you really want to know, I think of kissing as a start for bigger and better things, but let's cross that bridge when we get to it." He didn't even flinch as he said that, but he did hold his breath as he waited for her response.

She twisted his tie to wrap it around one of her fingers. "So it's all about what you think."

"If the lady is willing."

"Well," said Judy, drawing out the word and letting Nick's tie slide between her fingers. "You did lay out nicely why I'd want to kiss you. But I'm not sure why you want to kiss me."

"Good looks aren't good enough a reason?"

"You're a fox who can get close to any mammal in this bar without having to care what anyone else thinks. Couldn't you do better than a rabbit who still hasn't kissed you after all your flattery?"

"But I chose you."

"Not, maybe, that table over there?"

Nick held his breath again, though that might have been from the shock of Judy yanking his tie taut. "Which table? See someone you know?" he asked, wearing an expression that matched the clueless tone of his words.

"Not me. I think you know the badger and the fennec, at the table between the window and the booth with the coyote and the bobcat."

She'd moved away when she tugged on his tie, so she could see Nick as he turned to look at the table that she had described with such detail. Maybe she should have paid attention to the mammals at the table instead. Nick's expression didn't even flicker until he'd looked back at Judy to raise an eyebrow at her. "Nope, no clue who they are."

"Mmhmm. Are they going to say the same if I go up to them?"

"No idea. You're welcome to try, though I had no idea you liked chatting up strangers in bars that much."

"To be honest? I actually don't. Seems like this getting to know each other is going to take more work than we thought if I got this wrong." She eased out of his grip on the pretext of checking the time. "And it's almost time for my friends to come! Maybe we could catch up another time?"

Nick held up his freed paws in surrender. "Alright, rabbit, I admit I do have other reasons for wanting to kiss you. I need you to kiss me tonight."

To fight down the treacherous sense of disappointment that was bubbling up in her chest, she folded her arms over it. "Let me guess. You're on a dare. Or is it a bet?"

"A bet. If I got a mammal to kiss me with the pick-up line I had just now, I'd get free drinks."

"And that table picked me."

"Oh no, we're all grown mammals with free will here. I did mean it when I said I chose you. Please don't be mad at me?"

She ignored his wheedling to declare, "We go halves."

"Excuse me?"

"You said it was a bet, wasn't it? A bet you need me to win, and you're getting a kiss and a drink out of it. Since I'm doing just as much as you, it's only fair I get whatever you do."

Nick spread his paws in a shrug. "While that sounds fair enough, you sure about that, Carrots? You were pretty cagey about a kiss earlier."

"I meant everything I said earlier. Especially the part where I said I'm not a nickname kind of girl."

"And I meant the part where I said I was a nickname kind of guy, Fluff. You really want to do this? There's no take-backsies."

He had left himself wide open in favour of yakking away. It was too easy to grab his tie just as she had before. A yank, and she kissed him.

It was a little earlier than she expected - she'd forgotten that foxes had longer snouts. But Nick shifted before things got awkward to bring their lips together in just the right way. The right way that left her mind whirling heart racing toes curling as they leaned into the kiss.

The distance between the stools made them break off the kiss. Judy scrambled not to fall off her seat, suddenly aware of the hooting that she was pretty sure came from the badger, from the sound of it. This was a kiss for a bet after all, there was no reason to get that into it.

Judy made the mistake of looking at Nick just then, and caught his tongue flicking over his lips, as if still chasing the taste of her.

He wasn't the only one. She stepped up onto the footrest of his stool, making sure to plant both feet well. She caught sight of the first nervous swallow he'd made since he started talking to her before she leaned in to kiss him again.

It went even better this time. They got the right angle at the right time, and now Judy could wrap her arms around Nick as she wanted to from the start. She ran her fingers through his fur, with a stray thought that clothes were in the way before she decided she liked being wrapped up in him for now. Nick wasn't as content as she was to keep his paws in one place, and Judy had to fight down pleased shivers each time he found a new part of her to explore.

But Nick had to bring both his attention and his kiss to an end. "Hate to break it to you, Carrots, but I happen to like this bar and we're going to get thrown out for indecent behaviour if we keep this up."

"Too bad, I don't like this bar," she teased.

"Even if we're going to get free drinks from here later?"

"Point." She went back to her own stool and her drink. "It's about time you redeemed yourself."

He faked a look of shock, even going so far to put paw over heart. "Rabbit, I am hurt. I thought our last kiss was sufficient amends."

She found herself smiling at his antics, and had to remind the both of them, "Your kissing rates higher than your charm on traits that might cross the species line, but I remember someone talking up his sincerity just moments ago."

"I was too sincere," he insisted.

"And now that's false advertising."

"I didn't falsely advertise anything. I said I came over to put a smile on your face. And how about that, you're smiling right now."

She was, even though she'd found out all there was to know about the fox. Or had she? "Is there another bet I should know about? You're still laying on the charm."

"Sorry, the charm doesn't have an off switch. You're stuck with being charmed, Carrots."

She really shouldn’t get her hopes up; searing kisses didn’t make up for trying to use her in a bet. "Doesn't it get tiring charming the pants off everyone?"

"Well I'd really prefer to charm you out of your pants. Did you forget kissing was supposed to lead to bigger and better things?"

Nick was making it difficult to keep her resolve. "Don't start what you can't finish," she grumbled to her drink.

"What's that, rabbit? What can't I finish?"

"That's the thing. Rabbit, fox." She made sure he noticed her looking him up and down before adding, "You said bunnies never let you get this close. I think you won't be such a good fit after the pants come off. Unless you're smaller than expected."

"I'll definitely exceed your expectations, Fluff. And I know how I'm going to prove that to you." Judy was hyper aware of Nick and the way he was leaning in, much as she was when he'd first introduced himself. "See, you might be smaller, but once I get my paws in the right place you'll be pressing into my touch. I'll stroke you nice and slow until you remember why you called me slick. Then I'll press in a little, just a fingertip first, feel my way into that tightness until you open up for me, sweetheart. But you'll find I'm a giving kind of guy. I'll give you another finger and more attention, fill you bit by bit until I'm sure you can take me."

All the cold beer couldn't douse the flush that'd already shot to the tips of Judy's ears, gone straight up with the charge of Nick's words.

Nick leaned back, basking in a job well done. "I think you're the one who's started what you can't finish. Does this make you uncomfortable? Because, if so, there’s no shame in calling it quits."

"You're wrong about one thing."

"Oh?" His delivery was flippant, but there was a little crease of confusion between his eyes. Bingo.

"See, I'm not doing anything in that scenario of yours. I wouldn't just leave you hanging.” She almost choked on her choice of words, but bit down on her apology. Nick had been playing with words. She needed to do just as well to prove she wasn’t a push-over, whether with the bet or with trash talking. “I'll – I’ll take you in hand." Judy knew what she wanted to do next, only she wished she could show instead of tell. It wasn’t appropriate for a bar, and Nick made talking it out seem so easy. What had he said? "Stroke you, find out if you really match expectations - "

"Exceed expectations," Nick cut in.

She couldn’t let him distract her, even though the heat of his gaze was distracting her from picking out her words. "I'll need – I’ll need a paws on demonstration to really get a handle on what I'm dealing with. Every inch of what I’m dealing with. Then if I'm satisfied... maybe I'll call you Carrots instead."

She hoped no one but Nick had heard what she just said, though she couldn't be sure between the heat of her own blush and the way Nick was sizing her up.

When he spoke, the previous cool of his delivery had been completely burned away. "I think you want us to be kicked out of this bar."

"What about our free drinks?"

"Do I still want drinks after all that? No, I'd prefer your paws on demonstration now and drinks another time. Do you?"

She didn't think she could keep up their heated exchange, not when she knew that Clawhauser and other ZPD officers would be at the bar soon. But if they tried another type of challenge... maybe she had a chance of getting one up on this fox.

"We can go somewhere else," she agreed. "But whatever amends you have in mind had better be as good."

"You can be the judge of that." He slid out of his seat and held out an arm. Judy tucked her paw in its crook, determined not to peek at the other mammals as she left with Nick.

But Nick didn't steer her to the door of the bar. Instead, they were heading to the table Judy had pointed out earlier. Both the badger and the fennec watched them approach with studied indifference. Nick turned his broadest grin on them once the table was within earshot. "Hey, raincheck on the drinks. Oh, and if you see her around this bar next time, pick up her tab, ok?"

"Hi, nice to meet you!" Judy said in her cheeriest voice and waved.

"Not for long. Lots to do," Nick tossed out. Judy blushed at the innuendo, but Nick's line was worth the mortification just to see the jaw of the fennec fox drop.

The badger pounded the table. "Nicky's getting lucky!"

"He's definitely getting the better end of the deal," Judy couldn't help ribbing.

"Oh is that right?" Nick's whisper shouldn't be sending shivers down Judy's spine but absolutely was. Judy about-turned and started to lead him out of the bar, because wherever that thought was going, it was probably going to end with them out of the bar anyway. He let himself be pulled along even as he wondered aloud, "Wanna bet on it?"

"Only if we go halves."

"No take-backsies," he replied, with a grin to match hers.

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