Baking had turned into something of an ironic hobby for Ralph.
It came as quite a surprise to everyone. Mayor Gene had nearly wet himself with laughter the day he'd found out. But no one was more so than Ralph himself. The big guy had too very large left feet, and he had to keep a constant eye out for every small archway and lower-than-the-average-Ralph-sized ceiling. Not a week went by that he didn't accidentally break something in his new humble little apartment, like the stove or a cabinet… or a wall.
Most of the time he could live with it or tried to hide it—ever used to living in a messy pile of rubble, but whenever Felix came over he couldn't help but ask his much more crafty friend to lend a helping hand. Luckily for him, Felix was an amiable and always willing to help, especially in the light of recent circumstances.
It wasn't as if Ralph could help it. He wasn't built shrink-to-fit like the other Nicelanders. Felix had really gone out of his way to make a shabby pile of bricks into a relatively Ralph-sized home for the big guy—as well as several 8-bit abodes for his little buddie Q*bert and co— but sometimes Ralph just couldn't avoid smashing something in. It was just how he was programmed, he resigned.
But that somehow didn't stop him from learning how to cook. A guy could only live off of free fruit handouts for so long after all. Chewing cherry handouts was something that a normal homeowner didn't do in Niceland.
It had been slow going at first. The delicate art of cooking was not a practice to be taken likely, as four spontaneous house fires had taught the wrecker well enough. Video game characters didn't exactly earn what humans would consider a regular pension, but he'd gathered up enough ingredients through simple mini-games and fetch quests, some more difficult than the others, so groceries weren't exactly a problem. Time consuming and a bit exhausting, but manageable.
And then the actual cooking part was several weeks worth of disaster after disaster.
Ralph would never admit it, but he was actually thankful Felix was such a nice guy. It was insufferable at the best of times, but it sure came in handy when your kitchen was lighting up a whole neighborhood.
In hindsight, Ralph would agree with the sanest of minds that cookies was probably not a good place to started with. Sweets in general were not the easiest thing to cook period, but…
Well, he had taken a liking to cookies recently. Just so long as they weren't chocolate. Puddles or not, he still was a bit wary of the stuff.
Regardless, it had indeed taken quite a lot of work, and also a few helpful hints from Mary, Niceland's bake-master herself, but Ralph had finally managed to put together something that seemed to resemble a serving of…
"…Rocks?" asked Felix.
"Charcoal?" asked Vanellope.
"Volatile smoldering waste?" asked Sargent Calhoun. She poked at the small mounds experimentally with her handgun.
"Wha—smoldering what now? No!" exclaimed the giant redhead, motioning to the fruits of his labor exaggeratedly, "It's cookies! Cookies."
There was a collective silence in Tapper's, which had become a sort of on-and-off meeting spot for the small ragtag group of characters.
"…Oh…" managed Felix, clearing his throat into his gloved hand and managing a nervous grin, "Well, bust my buttons. You… you didn't make them all by your own lonesome, did ya, buddy?"
"As a matter of fact, I did," said Ralph, his enormous chest puffing out in a small show of pride, "It took me a couple of tries, but I think I finally got Mary's recipe right—"
"You made charcoal cookies?" snorted Vanellope, her legs swinging back and forth from her seat on Tapper's counter, "Wouldn't it have made more sense to make regular old chocolate ship cookies. You know. The kind you can eat?"
"You can eat these," defended Ralph, setting the bowl on the counter so he could take off his oven mitts, "Yeah, they're a little burnt. But, hey, burning gives it flair! Roughage. It's good for ya."
"I've never been a fan of sweets Wreck-It," said Calhoun, her characteristic glare set ever heavily in place.
"Look, you guys kept bugging me about the whole baking thing, and I said I'd bring snacks. And here they are. Besides the guys at BA always tell me that finding a hobby is a good way to lower blood pressure, so—"
"You call this a snack?" snickered Vanellope, giving the bowl another dubious glance, "They look more like paperweights, Stinkbrain."
"Now they you mention it, they do…" muttered Calhoun, "They'd probably make good replacements for clay pigeons at target practice."
"AGH!" exclaimed Ralph, his knuckles beginning to turn white from clenching them for so long, "Just humor a guy, will ya?!"
Vanellope scoffed and swiped a cookie from the bowl, as did Felix and Calhoun. The little racer gave it a hearty bite and grimaced, feeling her teeth chip against the sooty dough. The sergeant and the heroic handy man followed suit, the latter having even less luck with hiding his disgust that Vanellope, while the former, who had actually managed to take a bite out of the rock-hard treat, remained as stoic as ever as she pensively chewed it.
"BLEGH!" she exclaimed, putting the bitten cookie back into the bowl, barely a scratch on it, "Roughage is right. These things are rougher than week old pound cake!"
Ralph's face fell a fraction. His eyes turned to Felix for some support.
"W-well… I'll have to a-admit," said Felix after he'd finally managed to force down the taste of burnt dessert—as well as today's lunch— his complexion losing its healthy honeyglow and resembling a pale sickly grey, "It is an… interesting twist on Mary's recipe…"
The overall'd bad guy didn't even bother trying to look to the Tamora for help. The heroine and the wrecker had patched up their burnt bridges quite a while ago, cy-bugs, doomed games and all. It was really more of a favor to Felix than Calhoun to get back on the heroine's good terms, seeing as the two had become so close. But it wasn't necessarily in the lady's programming to be forgiving, so Ralph made sure he kept on his toes. Calhoun just remained silent and continued to chew. Vanellope and Felix fleetingly wondered if her jaws were made of reinforced steel.
"Jeez," grumbled Ralph, collapsing into his seat, elbows on the counter and face jammed stubbornly on his fist, "You try and do something nice once in a while…"
"Aww, it's alright Ralph," said Felix as he tried to clear his throat of the after-burn, "It was a very kind gesture. And you know hat they say about the thought counting."
"Coulda spent a few minutes thinking about making them taste better than cardboard," said Vanellope, ever ready to jab at her pal.
"…I did," groaned Ralph, staring dismally at his dingy reflection in the counter, "I've been working on this stupid recipe for weeks, and this is the best that I could do. I almost burnt my house down to get this far. Multiple times."
"Aww, don't exaggerate Ralphie boy," said Vanellope with a roll of her eyes, "Burned down houses? I don't think that—"
"…He's, uh, not exaggerating."
Vanellope gave Felix a skeptical look. Felix merely lifted his hammer. It looked much more sooty than usual., meaning that he had been doing quite a bit of fireside-related fixing this past month. Vanellope quickly donned the appropriate facial expression in response, one of surprise and none-too-well hidden guilt.
Young Miss von Schweetz sent a tentative glance over her shoulder at her larger friend, who was too busy staring at his knuckles as he drummed his fingers against the counter to notice. She bit her lip, her eyes traveling to the bowl once more.
Reaching for another cookie, she tried to quickly save face.
"Maybe it's just an acquired taste. I'll just have to try another one of these—"
But instead of touching rock-hard baked goods all she touched were some crumbs and the plastic of the bottom of the bowl.
Confused as all get out, Vanellope stood up on her tiptoes and took a peak inside the bowl. Felix followed suit, both of their jaws dropping to the counter. Ralph caught their faces, and his only soured that much more.
"Okay guys, I get it! I'll quit it with the baking! Jeez, you don't need to keep rubbing it in—"
"R-Ralph!" exclaimed Felix, "The cookies are gone!"
"—Say what now?" asked Ralph, ever skeptical.
A quick look at the emptied container confirmed Felix's cry of floundered.
"B-but how did—when did— I left them right here!"
"Uhhh, duh? We know Stickbrain, we were there," droned Vanellope.
"Where did they go?" cried Felix.
"Well I didn't taken them," said Vanellope.
"N-neither did I!" said Felix shook his head.
"Well if you two didn't take them then who—"
Suddenly, Ralph was interrupted by a hearty burp from the other end of the counter, which caught all of the threesome's attention. They turned their heads to the sound, only to see Sergeant Tamora Calhoun fishing off the last bit of Ralph's botched batch. And then it was Ralph's turn to drop his jaw to the counter.
"Hmm… not bad Wreck-It," said Calhoun, brushed he crumb-dusted hands off on her armor, "Could use a bit more salt, but…"
"…T-Tamora?" squeaked the gobstruck handyman, who looked honestly quite concerned for the sergeant's mental and physical health, "A-are you… feelin' alright?"
"Well of course I'm alright Fix-it. Why wouldn't I be?"
"You ate all the charcoal!" exclaimed Vanellope, who turned the bow upside down to shake out the crumbs for emphasis, "The whole kit and kaboodle!"
"So I like my food with a little roughage in my diet," said the heroine with a shrug of her armor-plated shoulders, "This stuff was no different that our mess hall rations."
"Heeeeeey," glared Vanellope, folding her arms indignantly, "I thought you said you didn't like cookies!"
"Wrong. I said I don't like sweets, Princess Gumdrop," said Calhoun, poking the little girl in the chest, "And if there's one thing that Ralph's cooking ain't, it's sweet."
"Ohh, so you got a problem with sweets, huh?!" shouted the sugar-coated little racer, getting up in Calhoun's face, "And that's PRESIDENT Gumdrop to you, boogerbreath!"
"Why, you insubordinate, little snot-nosed brat—"
"T-Tamora, Vannie! Ladies, c-calm down—" exclaimed Felix, who all but threw himself between the fiery girls, threatening to break out in another one of their bi-weekly bar brawls, "There's no need for squablin'! You don't want Mr. Tapper to throw us out again now, d-do you?"
Ralph just sat idly by, stunned speechless at the sight of the empty bowl. Despite his best attempts, Ralph could plainly see that baking was not one of his latent talents. He was called Wreck-It Ralph, not Bake-It Ralph. Hobbies or not, he could not deny that Vanellope's scathing jabs had held quite a lot of truth behind them… they did look like mounds of charcoal…
But… it did help with his blood pressure… and he had gotten three of the few friends he had to try them… which was more than what most bad guys could say about their baking. Not that many bad guys backed, but… still.
"Alright, more salt next time," Ralph muttered as he shrugged and picked up the bowl as Vanellope and Calhoun continued to bicker and Felix continued to beg Tamora to keep her hand gun out of the whole debacle, "Maybe I should get some recipes from Cooking Mama instead…"