"Crash? Are you listening?"
The male bandicoot woke up with a start. Lying motionless and shifting his eyes, he looked over to where his sister was sitting. She was right next to him, giving him a semi-hard stare with her favorite laptop in her lap.
Crash thought about explaining himself. He thought about telling her that he was listening, he was just resting his eyes. Then he remembered that no one seemed to understand him when he talked. So he just gave her a guilty smile. She sighed.
"Come on, big brother. You can't just waste everyday of your life sleeping. There's a whole world out there to discover. Listen to this. There is a holiday called Father's Day that is celebrated among some cultures. It's a day where people give gifts to their father as a thank you for how they raised them. Crash, do you think we should give a gift to our father-figure?"
They had a father-figure? Crash took a moment to think who that might be. It couldn't be Crunch because Crunch told them he wanted Cocoa and Crash to think of him as their eldest brother. It couldn't be Polar because all he did was bark. It couldn't be N. Gin because he smelled.
So who did that leave?
Cocoa got up with a smile on her face.
"I think we should. Come on, Crash. Let's throw him a party. Why don't you go look for a present?"
That sounded fun, thought Crash. He spun so fast he looked like a blur for a short moment, then a second later he was on his feet, ready for action. He would give his father-figure the best present he could find.
Cocoa's smile broadened when she saw how Crash was getting into this idea. She looked over to their small, cozy home.
"Alright. I'll tell Crunch about our plans and we'll set up a party. You go and get our father-figure a present. Something that he'll like. There's a lot of random things on this island, so I think you'll find something. And," then she looked back at him concerned, "Be careful okay. Dr. Cortex's minions are still all over the place. I know you can take care of them without breaking a sweat but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down."
Oh! Dr. Cortex. That was who the father-figure Cocoa was talking about was. After all, seeing Cortex laughing maniacally was the first thing Crash ever saw in his life. It was the first thing he remembered. He didn't recall anything before that. So it would make sense that Dr. Cortex would be like a father to them.
Crash nodded at Cocoa, then went to get the present.
After several hours, Crash still couldn't find anything but junk. He found a useless gold watch, diamond ring, wallet full of cash, one hundred year old wine and a bottle of sand that came from the moon.
He sighed tiredly. There was nothing out here for Cortex.
And then he saw it. A huge, purple crystal floating inches above ground. It gleamed like an angel's halo. Crash smiled and grabbed it. Right, Cortex would love this. He always did try to collect these things so he could rule the world. Crash would give this to him.
Crash eagerly went back to the warp station. These were a product of his little sister's high tech gadgets. They instantly sent you to where you needed to be. In another moment, Crash was at the bandicoot lab. He left the metallic building and walked his way over to the house.
There he saw Cocoa and Crunch setting up chairs. Cocoa looked up at Crash, saw what he was holding and grinned.
"Good job, Crash. He'll love it. Let me wrap it up," she took it from his hands and went inside.
Crash stared at Crunch, who was placing a cake on the table.
"Another one of her ideas, right? Well this one seems okay. I'm sure he'll like it. He's always protecting our hides, you know?"
He was? Crash always assumed Cortex was trying to kill them. Cocoa came back with the wrapped present.
"Alright. Why don't you go find him and bring him here, Crash? He told me he was at the beach. Don't spoil the surprise, okay?"
Crash nodded and darted to the beach. He hoped Cortex was in the mood for cake. Crash certainly was.
On the way there, he met up with Aku Aku, who was walking (or floating) near the shore. Aku Aku stopped Crash before he could go farther.
"Crash. So nice to see you. Where are you going?"
Crash told him that he was going to find Cortex. Aku Aku looked at him shocked.
"Why? Has he threatened us yet again?"
Crash shook his head. Aku Aku gave him a quizzical look.
"Then why are you going to find him?"
The party, Crash told him.
"Party?" Crash nodded.
Aku Aku shook his head and since he was only a mask he also shook his entire body.
"That is out of the question, Crash. Cortex will try to kill you if you pursue him. I have no idea where you got the idea for a party but I simply cannot allow it. Let us go back home before it gets too dark."
Crash immediately deflated. No. He wanted to have cake with his father-figure. Why was Aku Aku spoiling his fun?
Well he wasn't having any of that. He wanted to celebrate Father's Day. But how was he going to get past Aku Aku?
Crash decided that lying was the best policy. He told Aku Aku that he was going to collect some coconuts for dessert. Aku Aku nodded.
"Very well. Just do not stay out too late. I will go on ahead."
The mask left and Crash was free to find Cortex.
When Aku Aku came back, he was surprised to see Crunch and Cocoa jumping out in front of him. They were both smiling at the startled mask.
"What is the meaning of this?" he asked, quite stunned.
"It's Father's Day. And we wanted to celebrate it with you since you're like a father to us all," Cocoa explained to him, "We even brought you a cake."
Aku Aku took a moment to collect himself. Then he smiled sincerely.
"Why that is quite nice of you all. Me? Your father? I am happy that you see me this way."
"Hey, where'd Crash go?" Crunch asked.
"Yeah. We sent him to find you. Did you see him?" Cocoa asked.
"Yes, I did. He mentioned something about a party."
Cocoa looked sunken.
"I told him not to spoil the surprise."
Aku Aku laughed.
"He must have simply been excited. We will wait for him to collect those coconuts."
The sun was setting and Crash still had not returned. Aku Aku had a sinking feeling in his stomach. If he had a stomach. Crunch and Cocoa were both getting fidgety. What happened to their brother?
"He probably just fell asleep again," Crunch offered.
"I'll go look for him," Cocoa stated.
"No, I will," Aku Aku was the most protective of the female bandicoot, "I asked him to return before it darkened. I am...displeased with him."
Uh oh. Aku Aku didn't do angry unless it was against evil. But to be displeased with someone he cared about, that was like him screaming in rage. Cocoa gulped and Crunch fidgeted with his hands.
Aku Aku looked everywhere but still could not find his bandicoot. He thought back on what Crash said, hoping that will bring a clue as to where he was. He said something about the surprise party. And Cortex.
Aku Aku's heart nearly stopped. Cortex! Crash didn't try to go after him all by himself, did he? Aku Aku flew with great speed to the Cortex Vortex. He looked through the window.
To his horror, he found Crash strapped to the wall and a machine with spinning knifes edging ever so closer to him. Crash looked at Cortex for an explanation, as if he needed one. Cortex was grinning like a mad man. He was a mad man anyway.
Anger fueling in his heart, Aku Aku broke through the window, surprising the other two. Crash blinked at him and asked him what he was doing here. Cortex, not understanding a word that Crash said, looked at Aku Aku.
"Oh, I see you're here to save your precious bandicoot. But it's too late. He will die once and for all."
The machine began moving faster. With powers granted to him eons ago, Aku Aku blast the machine with a powerful, rainbow beam. It disintegrated into pieces. Cortex just stared. When Aku Aku glared at him, the small man with a big head backed away slowly.
"I...uh...I mean. He's all yours. Go ahead and take him back home. Let's forget this ever happened."
Aku Aku was angry but also too merciful for his own good. Even when it was someone evil, if he saw a person beg, he couldn't hurt them. On the other hand, Cortex was too close to killing Crash and that left an unpleasant feeling in his chest.
Crash was like a son to him. Aku Aku couldn't imagine what it would have been like if he had come too late.
The mask heard Crash ask him to let Cortex go. Aku Aku turned his attention on the bandicoot. He released Crash from his restraints and teleported them both back to their house. Cocoa and Crunch were glad to see Crash back in one piece. They turned to Aku Aku but all three of their blood went cold when they saw his hard expression.
"Crash. I must speak with you alone. Cocoa. Crunch. Please go back inside."
"But-" Cocoa began but didn't know how to finish.
"Please. It is urgent that I speak to Crash."
Aku Aku glared directly at Crash, causing the bandicoot to whimper and give him the puppy eyes. It usually worked with Aku Aku. Not this time.
Cocoa and Crunch reluctantly left. Now Crash was alone with Aku Aku.
"Crash. What have I asked of you on the beach?"
Crash saw that it was a question he was supposed to answer. The bandicoot shrugged.
"I asked that you not go after Cortex alone. And what did you do?"
Crash bit his bottom lip and shuffled his feet. Aku Aku continued.
"You have disobeyed me and went after him by yourself. That was very foolish of you. If I had come even a few moments later, you would have been killed. Do you realize what your death would have done to your sister? Your brother? Me?"
The bandicoot shook his head. He was at a lost. Why was he in so much trouble? Aku Aku sighed.
"Go to your room. You are to stay inside the house for the next few days. You will not nap and sleep only when it is time to. You will wake up with everyone else."
Crash stared at the mask in shock. No naps? What was he supposed to do all day? He asked Aku Aku this.
"Something productive. You could read a book. Or groom your polar bear. You could practice speaking so that your sister may finally understand you."
Cocoa always wanted to have direct communication with her brother. Crash had no idea what he did wrong. Life wasn't fair. Why was Aku Aku so overprotective? He wanted to glare at the mask but was too afraid to.
"Go on inside. Remember the rules that I have set for you."
The next few days were the longest of Crash's life. Aku Aku made sure he didn't get a wink of sleep unless it was bedtime. Crash, being so used to seventeen hours of sleep a day, felt like he couldn't function. And it was so boring! The day stretched out too long.
Aku Aku was given the crystal. Cocoa and Crunch talked to Crash, trying to make his punishment seem less severe. Then one night, when it was almost ready for bed and Crash wanted nothing more than to hop onto his bed, Aku Aku came in his room.
"Crash. May I speak with you?"
Oh, man. Why couldn't Aku Aku speak to him in broad daylight? Crash wanted to sleep, darn it. The bandicoot looked at Aku Aku with weary eyes. Not only did the mask punish him but he took Cortex's present. What was the matter with him?
"Crash. Tomorrow you may start napping again."
His ears perked up and Crash smiled. He actually jumped for joy and did his signature dance. When he was finished, Aku Aku continued.
"You still cannot leave the house until I trust you but it should not be long before you regain my trust. Do you understand why you were punished?"
Because Crash didn't do what Aku Aku said. Crash understood that now.
"Yes. That is part of it. But the main reason is this. I want you to obey me because I do not want anything to happen to you. Or Cocoa or Crunch. Losing any one of you is my worst fear. I do hope that you will understand this one day."
Crash thought about it, trying his hardest to think because thinking wasn't his strong suit. Aku Aku really did care about him. Like-
Like a father?
Crash hadn't thought about it before but Aku Aku could be a father-figure. A much better one than Cortex. Crash yawned and Aku Aku chuckled.
"I see the lack of napping is taking its effect on you. I will let you get your rest now. See you in the morning."
And with that, the mask left. Crash fell into the soft covers of his bed. His last thought before sleep took him was how tankful he was that Aku Aku got the crystal.
This was an idea I had on Father's Day. But for some reason I forgot all about it. I wanted to submit it before I forgot again.
Yes, I know it's not even close to Father's Day but I wanted to submit this fic now. I guess I'm impatient.