Chapter 5 – Departure

A/N: Hey everyone, thanks for all your support. Here is chapter five.

Enjoy!

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Crash sat cross-legged in front of the fireplace with hands buried in his cheeks as he stared at the boiling pot, pouting. Aku-Aku, who was floating in front of fire place, was humming softly to himself while occasionally picking some wood and tossing it into the fire.

Crash grumbled under his breath and Aku-Aku turned to him with a frown. "No, Crash. You haven't been eating a lot these past few days and that needs to stop,"

Crash crossed his arms and looked away, resulting a sigh from the mask.

Unbeknownst to him, his sister was sitting next to him with an exasperated look on her face. "Come on, Crash. Don't be stubborn."

Soon enough, Crash was sent to sit on the table and wait there. Aku-Aku then came with a bowl full of soup and a spoon. The two items slowly floated over the table before dropping in front of Crash.

Sighing, Crash picked up the spoon and began eating. It's not that he didn't appreciate what the mask was doing, but he just hadn't feeling like eating much lately. The thought of his sister made him lose whatever appetite he had.

Once he finished, Aku-Aku carried the bowl away and for a moment Crash thought it's over, but that hope was dashed when the mask returned with another steaming bowl.

"No complaining, eat," Aku-Aku muttered at Crash's whine. The bandicoot reluctantly did as he was told nevertheless. As he stuffed the spoon into his mouth, Crash noticed something floating behind the window at the corner of his eye, but when he looked over it was gone. Brows furrowed, he shrugged and continued eating.

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Later that morning, Crash was in the middle of going over the books like usual, feeling as if his head could explode from everything he was reading. How did his sister manage to do this all the time was something beyond him. Groaning, he rubbed his head and closed the book shut in frustration.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, much to everyone's surprise.

"Who could that be?" Aku-Aku muttered.

Crash stood up and made his way to open the door with Coco following after him. There was nobody there. Stepping outside, Crash scratched his head in confusion.

"Hello there, Crash,"

The two bandicoots jerked back at the voice and turned to see none other than Dr. Cortex stepping from behind a tree.

"It's been a while, hasn't it?" he asked with a smile. Even though Coco knew she wasn't visible she still felt unsettled by the man before them.

"What are you doing here, Cortex?" Aku-Aku asked sternly while Crash took a fighting stance.

Cortex hummed, his eyes glinting in amusement. "Well, I'm not going to waste time beating around the bush so I'll just tell you. I know what happened to your sister," the man said and Crash's eyes widened.

"W-what?" Crash stuttered.

"How would you know that!?" Aku-Aku muttered in surprise.

Cortex smirked. "One of my drones was nearby when you two went into the forest and it followed you. I saw what happened."

Crash felt his stomach turn and his skin crawled at the thought of Cortex spying on them that entire time. He swallowed and glared at the man. "So what?"

"I came to offer you my help," Cortex stated, surprising them. "I have an excellent medical facility in my castle. I should be able to give her the care she needs,"

Aku-Aku stared at the man in stunned silence before his shock wore off. "What's the catch? You can't be offering this out of kindness."

Cortex chuckled. "What I want is simple. In exchange for helping Coco….I want Crash to come work with me."

"WHAT!?" they all muttered.

"Forget it! Crash will never do that!" Coco growled.

"You can't seriously think we'll agree to that," Aku-Aku said, glaring at the man.

Cortex raised a brow. "So you're going to waste a chance to help Coco out? For all you know her condition might be getting worse with each passing day," he stated and they all knew he could be right. He held his hand out. "So, what do you say, Crash? Do we have a deal?"

"We'll find a way on our own. We don't need your help, right Crash?" Aku-Aku muttered, turning to the bandicoot.

Crash was touching the scarf around his neck, a distant look in his eyes. He then finally looked up at the doctor and nodded. "I'll do it,"

"Excellent!" Cortex grinned while Aku-Aku and Coco gasped.

"What!? No!" Coco exclaimed, looking at her brother as if he lost his mind. Why would he consider working with the same evil man who tried to conquer the world, the same one who tried to hurt them so many times?

"C-Crash, you…you can't serious!" the mask stammered in shock. "Cortex is evil. You can't trust him!"

Crash looked at him. "She needs this," he murmured sadly and Aku-Aku's face fell.

The words hit Coco like a punch to the gut and her expression crumbled. He…he was doing this for her. This isn't fair. Her brother didn't deserve this. He shouldn't be paying for her mistake! This is her fault, her fault, ALL HER FAULT!

Crash began walking over to the doctor who had a long victorious smirk on his face.

She knew it was pointless to try, knew nobody can hear her and it wouldn't do anything, but Coco couldn't stop herself from shouting. "No! Crash, don't it!" she cried out at the top of her lungs, wanting him to refuse, wanting him to stop. Transparent tears began falling down from her eyes. Please, don't do this…

Crash and Cortex shook hands.

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Crash was rummaging through his room and packing whatever he can take from his belongings into a duffel bag. He only got some clothes, a photo frame and his yo-yo.

It had taken him a few minutes after the doctor left to realize what just happened. He had immediately felt sick at the thought of working with the evil scientist, but he had no choice. As much as he hated to admit it, but they needed Cortex help. It had been almost two weeks and his sister hadn't shown any sign of waking up yet!

"Crash?"

The bandicoot flinched at the voice and turned to face Aku-Aku. He had a defeated look on his face and Crash couldn't look him in the eye without feeling terrible.

"I guess you're not going to change your mind about this. You really are going to leave," Aku-Aku stated.

Crash steeled himself and finally looked at him, nodding. Cortex said he we'll be back this afternoon to take him and his sister. He needed to be ready.

Aku-Aku sighed. "Crash…..you do realize that now you're going to be on Cortex's side, you're going to be sent by him on missions to attack the island and….as the guardian of this island….I'm going to have to fight you."

Crash's eyes widened and his heart fell at that. No, he…he can't imagine actually doing that, but he had no choice now.

Crash's gaze fell to the ground and his shoulders shook, lips trembling. "I'm sorry….I'm sorry…" he murmured tearfully.

"No, don't apologize," Aku-Aku said, floating closer to him. "It's not your fault. You…you did what you had to do,"

"But-"

"Listen, Crash. To tell the truth I didn't know what to do either. I tried using whatever I could think of with my magic, but I failed to help Coco. I kept telling you to wait and hoped for the best, but deep down I didn't know what can be done anymore, so please don't feel bad, alright?" he said, giving him a weak smile.

Crash whipped his eyes and nodded dejectedly.

After two hours, it was finally the time. The two heard the loud sound of an engine humming outside. Crash peeked through the window to see Cortex's blimp had landed on the beach.

Sighing, he picked up his duffel bag and placed it on his shoulder. He then entered his sister's room and carefully lifted her into his arms. Making his way outside, he saw Cortex was standing in the door with his hands behind his back, waiting for him.

Crash stopped in his tracks and glanced back at their house, his chest tightening at the thought of never coming back. Aku-Aku was floating there and offered him one last assuring smile.

Eyes misting over, Crash swallowed the lump in his throat and continued heading to the blimp.

It was then that Aku-Aku noticed something odd. When he narrowed his eyes, he could see a cerulean figure slowly appearing with Crash and his sister, climbing onto the airship with them.

Before he could process what he saw, the blimp slowly took off into the air and flew away from the island, disappearing in the distance.

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A/N: This turned out a lot more feels-y than I expected. I think about there will be about two more chapters and the fic will be finished. Anyway, thanks for reading and please review!