Ralph and Felix had a lot of explaining to do, of course. However, they hadn't gotten the chance earlier as they had only barely managed to make it back to their game in time for the arcade to open, and so had spent the entire day working. The Nicelanders were surprised to say the least, and welcomed Felix back with excitement, but spent the day sending Ralph dirty glares. He supposed he couldn't blame them. After all, from their point of view he had abandoned the game for his own selfish interests, nearly causing Fix-It Felix, Jr. to be unplugged. They didn't know anything of what had happened in Sugar Rush. The minute the arcade closed for the day, they swarmed around their hero, demanding answers.
"Where was Ralph?"
"How'd you get that idiot to come back?"
From where he was lying in the mud puddle next to the apartments, Ralph could hear everything. To his surprise, it didn't bother him so much now; even if his colleagues still shunned him after he and Felix explained, it wasn't like he was completely friendless. Not anymore.
On the roof of the building, Felix raised his hands defensively, trying to halt the influx of questions and demands. "P-Please calm down, everyone! We'll explain immediately, we just need—"
"'We'?" Gene interrupted, raising his eyebrows. "Who is 'we'?"
"W-Well, Ralph and I, of course."
This brought on a whole new outburst from the Nicelanders. Things along the lines of, "That traitor?" "He's the bad guy!" "He abandoned us, what do you need someone like him around for?" drifted down to where the bad guy himself had eased into a sitting position. He should probably just let Felix handle this; they didn't want him around. Ralph could just skip out and head to Sugar Rush to see how Vanellope's first day on duty had went, and maybe watch the day's qualifying race. If nothing else, she would be happy to see him, and vice versa.
Figuring that to be the best idea, Ralph heaved to his feet and began lumbering towards the portal. Game Central Station would be busy at this time, with the arcade having just closed and all, but it would be worth it when he made it to Sugar Rush and saw his friend.
Friend. That was a good feeling.
Just as he was about to exit, he heard a voice call from the apartment roof, "Ralph, where are you going? I need you!" Felix was leaning over the railing, paying no mind to the protests of his coworkers, waving at Ralph wildly. "I can't explain the whole thing on my own! I need you here too!"
Ralph sighed. He could hear Gene snap, "Don't let him up here! What is the big occasion?"
With an exaggerated groan, Felix slumped over the railing and called down, "Sorry Ralph. Wait right there, okay?"
"Sure Felix," Ralph answered, "but make it can we make it quick? I want to head over to Sugar Rush and see how everything's going."
He really didn't want this to take too long. If it did and he missed Vanellope's race, the little girl would personally make sure to shove lollipops in his ears. Pre-licked ones, too. Sugar Rush had only been stabilized for one day at this point, so he knew how important this race would be for Vanellope, as hit was her first one as an official character. She was ecstatic to finally take part in things the way she was supposed to.
Felix convinced the Nicelanders to head to the ground, and they all approached Ralph uneasily.
"Well?" Gene prompted, crossing his arms. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
Even though the man stood a good seven feet below Ralph, he couldn't help but feel intimidated at the sharp tone of voice. Running a hand through his hair, he replied, "That's a long story."
"Yes, and I've been trying to get you all to listen," Felix pointed out.
"Please get on with it, then," one man spoke up crossly. The other civilians muttered in agreement. Ralph opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by a strange sound coming from down the tunnel leading to Game Central Station. Turning to investigate the source of the noise, nobody had any time to react before something resembling a small rocket came hurtling out of the tunnel and rammed right into Ralph.
The Nicelanders had never seen anything knock their villain off his feet, not even once. Naturally, they were all very shocked when the rocket turned out to be a motorized, sugar-coated kart and the driver a tiny girl with dark hair.
Ralph groaned and sat up slowly as the little girl laughed out loud and said exuberantly, "I hit a stinkbrain! That's worth twenty points!"
Completely floored, the Nicelanders watched in shock (Felix rubbing his eyes) when Ralph did not flip his lid and instead glared narrowly at the little girl saying, "Vanellope, I thought I taught you to not go driving around hitting people."
"Yeah, see, that doesn't count when it comes to you because you won't get mad," Vanellope replied matter-of-factly.
Ralph sighed. "You didn't drive that thing through the station, did you?"
"Yep!" Vanellope honked the horn of her kart. "It would have taken too long any other way. I wanted to get here! You know this is my first time outside my game? It's insane!" She paused to catch her breath and then it occurred to her to observe her surroundings. "Nice. So this is your game, huh?" Her hazel eyes landed on the Nicelanders. "Who are these buttmunches? Oh, and hey there Hammer Guy."
Felix tipped his hat to Vanellope and greeted her politely with a smile while more than one Nicelander spluttered in indignation. Martha stepped forward, her hands on her hips. "What are you doing here, little girl? All by yourself? Why aren't you in your game?"
Vanellope frowned. "I'm not alone," she said, scampering over to Ralph and pulling herself onto his shoulders. "I've got him here, obviously."
The others could not have looked more stunned if they tried. Taking advantage of the distraction, Felix placed himself in front of the crowd. "You see, it really is a long story. We would appreciate it if you all would settle down to listen."
"Look, all I know is that our bad guy disappeared and nearly got us all killed. How can there be a justifiable explanation for that?" someone demanded.
"Whoa, whoa, hold on," Vanellope interjected, raising her hands. "What do you mean he's a bad guy? I mean, sure he's the villain, but that doesn't mean he's not a good guy. Uh, does that make sense?"
"You're preaching to the choir, kiddo," Ralph told her softly. "We haven't actually told them the whole story yet. Been pretty busy, you know?"
Eyes wide, Vanellope raked her gaze over the crowd of NPCs critically. "So they don't know what a hero you are?"
"Hero?" Gene scoffed. "He's just the guy that wrecks the building, and nearly wrecked our whole lives. Where have you been, kid?"
Vanellope's expression went from confused to furious in a split second. "I've been in Sugar Rush, having my game saved by this moron!" She smacked the top of Ralph's head repeatedly for emphasis. "Come on Hammer Guy, tell 'em the blooping truth!"
The crowd focused their attention onto Felix, who seemed startled and uncomfortable at the sudden amount of attention he was receiving, for the first time in his life. "Ah, actually, that is the truth. Turbo took over Sugar Rush, Ralph foiled the plan, blew up a volcano, and I met the most dynamite gal..." He trailed off, a dreamy look on his face.
The expression on the Nicelanders' faces didn't change, and someone said "...Turbo?" with a blank mien.
Sighing dramatically, Vanellope slid off of Ralph's shoulders and took his hand, pulling him forward. "Okay shrimps, listen up. I've got one heck of a story to tell you, and I'm the one with the most charisma here so I'm gonna tell it best."
She glanced up at Ralph, flashing him a thumbs up. "First of all, this stinkbrain is my hero. Hear it loud and clear?" She didn't wait for an answer. "Good. Now, you all know who Turbo is?"
I, uh, I dunno. I was gonna continue with Vanellope seeing where Ralph lives and throwing a fit over it, but my fingers are cramping something fierce right now. Something real fierce. So, I'm done for right now. Maybe another time.
Thank you for reading and please review!