Judy checked her computer clock again, foot thumping on the floor. Suddenly, everything went dark. “Guess who!”
Judy sighed and poked an elbow back into her partner’s fuzzy belly. “I’m guessing…a fox who’s late, again?”
Nick dropped his paws from her eyes and craned over her with a delighted expression. “Wow, you’re good! But I wasn’t late until I decided to sneak up and surprise you.”
Judy shook her head dismissively. “You need to start taking this job more seriously, Nick! You’ve been here four months; Bogo isn’t going to let it slide much longer.”
“I know, I know,” Nick said, holding up his paws. “And I’m turning over a new leaf, I got up at 8 AM today!” Judy scoffed. “Buuuuuut, I had to make a quick stop at the Ottertons’ for something. You remember what day it is, right?”
Judy frowned and checked her computer monitor. “May 15th?“ She thought for a second. “Oh! My first day!”
“Exactly! And the anniversary of meeting a certain devilishly handsome fox.” Nick clapped and reached down for a green gift bag, about eight inches square. Tissue paper was haphazardly stuffed in the top. “It’s not much, but I got you something.”
Judy slapped her forehead. “Aww, Nick. I can’t believe I forgot! This year’s gone by fast.”
Nick looked uncharacteristically sheepish. “Yeah, it really has. You…I’m in a really different place than I was a year ago. A better place.” He tugged at his tail. “Anyway! You said a while back that you missed being around growing things, and you couldn’t keep plants alive in your apartment–” Judy reached into the bag and Nick started. “Uh, Carrots, maybe be careful–”
“Ow!” Judy drew back her paw, shaking it. She carefully picked up the tissue paper, revealing a squat, bulbous cactus, covered with needles.
“Sorry, Carrots,” Nick said. “That part wasn’t a prank, I just forgot to warn you.”
Judy just smiled and gave him a big hug. “Nick, it’s perfect! I’ll keep it right on my desk here.” She leaned down to read the card.
Thanks for not being turned away by a prickly exterior.
Judy beamed. “Nick, you sap. You really think you need to thank me?”
He scratched the back of his neck. “I really do. Like I said, this last year has been incredible for me. It feels like another lifetime! I’m legit now, I’m helping you make a difference in the world, I’m–”
Judy interrupted him by reaching up and kissing him on the cheek. He blinked and touched a paw to his face, falling silent immediately.
She laughed. “You dumb fox. You don’t think you’ve made my life better too? You’ve been supporting me since my, well, second day.” She put a paw on his shoulder. “Remember how you yelled at Bogo? You were the first one in this whole city to believe in me. I’ll never forget it.”
They looked at each other, falling into an odd silence. Nick took a deep breath.
“There you are! Happy workiversary, Judy!!! Goodness, how has it already been a year?!” Clawhauser barged into the office, carrying two boxes of rabbit-shaped donuts and beaming. “Look at these, aren’t they cute? I ordered them special, they’re called ‘hare claws’! Get it?”
The tubby cheetah gave Judy a huge hug, then put his arms around her and Nick’s shoulders, chatting about everything that had happened over the last year. Judy caught Nick’s eye and took his paw around Clawhauser’s back, giving it a squeeze.
And looking into Judy’s soft violet eyes, and seeing her gentle smile, Nick couldn’t hear a word Clawhauser was saying.
We were two ships passing in the night briefly drawn together by a fateful wind magic wafted ‘cross that moonlit shore now memories linger of what has been and though a chance encounter it was I oft ask, will our two hearts pass again