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Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 09:28 pm
Everyone has a change of heart.

Exorcist Blues (Wilde Spirit Remix)

Summary: In a Zootopia where animals and spirits dwell side by side, some animals turn into guardian spirits. Some go dark. Some types of animals go darker than others.

Judy Hopps should know, since she wants to be the first exorcist in a long line of rabbit mediums.

Or: A Zootopia remix in which Judy Hopps is an exorcist that specialises in hunting dark spirits. And Nick Wilde is dead, but not gone.

Spoilers: Entire movie, since this is a remix
Rating: T
Genre: Gen
Warnings for: Supernatural elements, mythical beings and vague references to the Chinese Taoist religious system. Implied off-screen character death
Disclaimer: Not mine as I'm not smart enough to think of the collars storyline.

and a disapproving expression. The suit complemented the mock severe look. "You might be alive, but I have no idea how you're going to get down."

Judy glanced down. She wasn't afraid of heights, but the ground was indeed far away. "A little help?"

Nick gave the most put-upon of put-upon sighs, made even more fake by how put-upon it was. "It just so happens that I'm a master problem solver." He turned corporeal to tug at a vine. "Comes with the whole fox skill set - "

Judy felt the shift in weight before Nick did. "Watch out!"

The nest of vines fell apart. As she fell, Judy braced herself for the impact, wondered if throwing up a shield would be any use for her physical body -

The vines coiled around her and stopped her fall at almost the last minute. Nick, intangible to almost the point of invisibility, drifted down next to her as if he'd forgotten how exactly to float.

" - I meant for that to happen," he claimed. Then he cocked his head, listening to something Judy couldn't hear "Your people are coming."

Chief Bogo, with more exorcists in tow, came into view. "Step away from her!" Bogo hollered.

Judy twisted to see if the jaguar spirit had broken its binding, then realised it was Nick who was stepping away from the exorcists, hands raised so they could see if he made a move.

"H - he's with me!" Judy spluttered, not believing what she was seeing.

Chief Bogo crossed his arms. "Well this should be good."

"Guardians aren't just going missing sir," said Judy as they headed back to the jaguar spirit. "I believe Mr Otterton and this jaguar - they've gone dark."

"Dark? Dark is what happens to the spirits of murderers, thieves or those who perform violent acts. Spirits don't just go dark."

"That's what I thought, until I saw this - "

The platform was empty. The jaguar spirit, even Judy's binding spell, was all gone.

"Or may be any aggressive spirit seems dark to a sensitive rabbit due to the bleed over of emotions."

Judy should not prove his point by becoming emotional now, but it was hard when she scanned the area and found no trace that even she herself had been there. "Sir, I know what I saw, she almost killed us here."

"Fall in Hopps. We've leaving."

"Wait, sir, I'm not the only one who was attacked." She didn't see Nick at first, but remembering what he had said earlier about still being around even when it seemed he had disappeared, she tried, "Nick?"

He faded into view again, and stepped forward so the Chief could see him.

"You think I'm going to believe a fox spirit?" Chief Bogo's voice had gone soft and incredulous.

"Well he saw what happened - "

"Did he? Or was it just part of an elaborate trick by a many tailed fox?"

"Sir - !"

"Two days to find the otter guardian!" Bogo bellowed before Judy could finish her protest. When he was satisfied she wasn't going to retort, he continued, "That was the deal. Not dragging yourself and your fellow exorcists on wild goose chases. Now, sword."

Judy couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Sir?"


Judy could protest now, but Bogo was right. She'd made a deal, and if she wanted her words to have power she had to honour it. She took hold of her sword strap -


"What did you say fox?"

"What I said was no, she will not be giving you her sword."

Nick was properly corporeal now, and he made no attempt to hide his aura, green and powerful. Yet it didn't hurt even when he brought her will within its range by standing next to her. "Look you sent her off with a glowing metal stick and her wits to track in two days an otter spirit you hadn't found in two weeks? Yeah. No wonder she needed help from a fox spirit. A many tailed fox spirit." He brandished his tails almost like a sword. "None of you were going to help her, were you?" He stabbed a finger at Chief Bogo to drive the point home. "Here's the thing chief. You gave her 48 hours so we technically have - " He counted quickly on his fingers. "10 hours to find our Mr Otterton. On your word. So! If you'll excuse us we have an otter spirit to follow." He bowed so elaborately that the gesture was a mock in itself. "Good day."

There was nothing Judy could add to the power of Nick's words, and so she followed his lead and headed towards the end of the platform. She wasn't sure if the cable car had been waiting all along, or if Nick had somehow arranged for the convenience. Either way, he invited her to get on. "Exorcist Hopps."

The cable car was solid under her feet so it was definitely not a trick. How quickly they left after Nick joined her was still a little suspicious.

Even if he was using his powers though, he'd helped her. He'd been helping her all long during the fight with the jaguar spirit. And even if it had been in a very roundabout, fox like way, he had even been helping her right from the start. The only right thing to do now was for Judy to say, "Thank you."

On his side of the cable car, Nick was also looking out over the trees. "Never let them get to you. That's what I've been telling myself since I was 8. Bad things happen if you do."

If it had been important enough to Nick that he'd held on to it years after he was 8, Judy wanted to know. Perhaps then she would understand why he helped her. "What happened when you were 8?"

It was Nick's turn to fall silent. Of course he wouldn't want to tell her. It was too personal. Judy didn't think even a joke about sprinklers would help now.

"This was when I was still alive, when collars were still a thing. I was 8, maybe 9, and all I wanted to do was open a tailor shop with my father."

Judy wondered if Nick's father was slim like him, or with broader shoulders like the Grays. She decided on the former when Nick said, "He was the kindest, gentlest person I knew. He'd take long walks with me and show me every bit of the city he loved. We saw the empty shop on one of these walks. It was just a tiny corner shop, might have had space for a sewing machine and a single rack at most, but when he wrote our surname in the dust on the door I - I could see that dream too."

"So my father scraped together a business plan and took me to the bank to get some money because by God we were going to get that tailor shop. We made our pitch, even had a model with little winking lights I would switch on - and every single banker would look at my father's collar as they put a big fat red rejected stamp on our loan."

His hand had crept to his bare neck, fingering a collar that was no longer there. Judy wondered if they'd taken it off Nick when he died, or if his body lay somewhere still collared. That thought had never occurred to her when she was reading about shock collars in a textbook. The idea had been too remote, too far in the past for Judy to understand.

"I was too young to understand about collars then. I thought maybe if they didn't stamp our application we'd have the money. So the next bank we went to, I grabbed the stamp and held on - with the lemming bankers on the other end still clinging on for dear life. I might have let go of the stamp eventually, but they never gave me a chance. They called me a thief, and set the guard on me. I was yanked off my feet by a big burly rhino guard." He gestured, just so Judy couldn't mistake the size of the guard.

"I panicked. My father panicked. He jumped onto the rhino and yanked me free, even though it set his collar right off. I begged them to make the shocks stop. I'll never forget what hey said next."

"They said if he was teaching his kid to steal from such a young age, he deserved it. And that you couldn't expect anything else from foxes. I learned two things that day. If you let them get to you, you'll do things you'll regret."

He lost himself in his regrets for a while, his story coming to a halt as he mulled his past. Judy decided to disperse his dark thoughts by asking, "And two?"

"If the world is only going to see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there's no point in trying to be anything else. Doubly so when you're dead."

Judy reached out to rest a paw on Nick's arm, keeping just enough pressure so he could feel it without her sliding through. "You're so much more than that."

The proximity seemed to make him uncomfortable. He pulled away and shifted his focus to the roads stretched below them. "That's a lot of traffic. Jack! How are things looking on the jam cams?"

Perhaps humour was not always a sign Nick was OK. "I'm glad you told me. Seriously, it's OK - "

Nick shushed her and even grabbed her shoulders. "No no. You and I both saw whoever got to the jaguar spirit scrubbed every single spiritual trace. But I'm sure that person hasn't had time to get to every single traffic camera all over the Canopy. And since recording of spirits are now permissible in court - "

"Every single traffic camera has now been upgraded to be capable of recording spirits!"

"Bingo! Whatever happened to that jaguar spirit on the cable car platform, the traffic cams would have caught it!"

"Ah ha! Pretty sneaky Slick."

"However, if you didn't have any help from your exorcists before I don't think Chief Buffalo Butt will be willing to help you talk to the police now."

"No." Judy looked at the rising sun and the light reflecting off the glass of the skyscrapers, the metal of cars, and the long radio antenna of City Hall. "But I have a friend at City Hall who might."

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3|...|Part 5 || Part 6