Hopping on the bandwagon, I suppose, but I seriously can't get Wreck-It Ralph out of my head. Honestly the best movie I've seen this year (and I saw few movies of the year to begin with). I enjoyed the movie very much, and I had a blast riding the emotional rollercoaster. So, I might as well return the favor. Here's to hoping I don't butcher the characters ^_^;.
And yes, just as the summary says, there is an original character involved. As I came up with her, I had to come up with a game for her. So... yeah. And the title may make little sense right now, but bear with me here unless I figure out a new title and replace it. (Well, I am listening to CLANNAD soundtrack, after all...)
Hope you enjoy!
Chapter One: Awkward
Even while sitting in the back seat, Ralph couldn't help feeling embarrassed. It was nothing new, albeit attitudes toward him have changed over the past few months, but he didn't want to make eye-contact with anyone in the same cart. He could feel their stares, and he chose to look at the lights flashing by to avoid acknowledgement, wondering how much longer it was going to take to get to the right destination.
It was rude to ignore someone talking to him, however, Ralph was very sure the person accompanying him wasn't aware he was pretending not to hear her. From what he could gather from bits and pieces of what did reach his subconscious, she was the strangest character he ever met. She was even out-talking Vanellope, something he thought would never happen.
To think she was quiet up until this point.
It was said sunset in Sugar Rush was beautiful because the cotton candy clouds had glitter sparkles in their depths—though only during the winter times, so the residents would correct. Because his game never seemed to have a sun outside of the monitor's light, the few times Ralph had seen the world's sunset was a rather magical moment. It was harder to appreciate while in Diet Cola Mountain (even with the permanent skylight they incorporated), but it was interesting to see the light spill in colors and melt into the glow of the hot cola—if Vanellope didn't keep hollering at him to watch her do a trick or drive over the ramp in a distracting manner.
"Ya saw it that time, did ya, Stink Brain?"
Ralph just raised a hand like he did every other time. "Yeah, yeah, that was cool," he fibbed. "I'm jealous."
The girl tossed her head back to laugh. "Nice try! You can't fool me with that tone of voice." Smirking, she attempted a wheelie before a dip in the road knocked her back on four wheels. She slowed to a stop to look behind her. "Aw, gee, road's uneven again."
"Well, that's what you get for backing up at random intervals," he called out, though he knew she wouldn't admit to her mistake before she sent a rebuttal in the form of an engine's roar. "Growl at me all you want, can't say I didn't warn you."
"You're gonna eat my cola dust one of these days!"
The man let out a hearty guffaw. "Can I take your word for it?"
"I'm the president. I have to keep my promises."
"Ooh, tough guy."
Vanellope stuck out her tongue before starting up again. Knowing she wasn't going to make it over the gap from where she was, she threw her kart into reverse. Ralph shook his head with a small sigh at the sight, then looked up at what little sky he could see. The last of the sun's rays were just barely peeking over the Mentos stalactites before the purple hues swept over it, and the sugar candy stars twinkled in. The longer he stared at them, he eventually saw a few fall from the sky. He remembered how odd it was the first time he watched the phenomenon happen, and it was then he came to the conclusion just about everything sans-clothes (perhaps) in Sugar Land was edible—not that he planned on eating anything from the land. The thought of eating anything with sugar made him a little ill inside.
Tearing his eyes away, Ralph looked about the handmade fort, smoothing his large hand over the wrapper-blanket. It was a little sad to know of the tragic memories Vanellope held in this place, yet she didn't have the heart to tear it down. Even after regaining the throne—or the more correct word was authority—she would come here when she wanted to be alone, or pull together her thoughts. For being a nine-year-old, a lot were falling on her shoulders since the new political system was enforced. He worried over her, but she was spunky and full of energy. She proved it time and time again.
He hardly flinched when the small eruption happened, knowing the boiling liquid couldn't reach this far. He did look up when Vanellope gave a hoot of joy as the kart spun a few times until it slowed. "Aw, yeah! That's a wicked boost! Ralph, we need to upgrade this kart to have the fuel of Mentos-induced diet cola!"
"Yeah, not going to happen," he said without hesitation. "You don't need anymore power-ups."
She pouted for a brief moment. "You're no fun."
He nonchalantly shrugged. "As the bad guy, I make sure you have no fun."
A corner of Vanellope's lips curled in a knowing smile. "But you have fun being the bad guy."
"What can I say? It's so easy being 'evil'. This is the life, you see, even the Devil tips his hat to me."
They pointed their fingers at each other in a knowing manner. "You're catching on quick," she said, quirking a brow. "Have the other villains caught on to that yet?"
"Haven't found the right moment, yet. Sure to get a good laugh from them when I do."
"There better be. Wish I could be there to witness that." Turning off the engine, she hopped out to stretch, making her way up to the fort. "I may have been here for about a good decade or so, but the mister's schedule is weird. It's what, about seven o'clock, and the arcade closed half-an-hour ago?"
Ralph rocked his hand back-and-forth. "It changes over the year. His promise to the parents the kids would be home before sunset has become a policy."
Vanellope nodded, coming up to the bed to climb and sit next to him. "He's a nice guy for doing that." A cat-like smirk spread on her face. "Gives us more time to hang out together."
"Your bedtime has not changed."
"I'm the president, I can stay up all I want." She puffed out her chest in authority.
He lightly bumped her shoulder. "Can't abuse your power in that way. It'll get to your head."
"Oh, what do you know? You've never been president."
"And I don't plan on it, if only because of lack of knowledge in that area."
"That's 'cos your brain's stinky."
Ralph rolled his eyes. "Very mature, Miss President."
She took it as a compliment, her face brightening up. "I know I am."
He quickly stood up to give the bed a jolt springing back to its original shape, and to bounce the girl a foot into the air. "Well then, you can walk back home by yourself." He walked over to her kart, gently pushing it off the track as he headed for the exit, giving a mock salute while hiding a smirk.
"Hey-hey-hey, I need a body guard!" she exclaimed, hurrying after him. "I could get 'assinated'!"
"'Assassinated'," he corrected, "and no one would do that to you. 'Specially at this age." He gestured to her tiny physique.
She scowled up at him before her face relaxed, reaching up to fix her licorice ribbon. "You got me there. But still, Diet Cola Mountain's in no way close to the House." Tucking a piece of hair behind her ear, Vanellope looked up at her companion. "When am I going to escort you to the exit, by the way?"
"When you finally bring Sour Bill to the hideout."
"Not going to happen."
He raised his hands up in a half-shrug. "That's my answer as well."
She scoffed in slight disgust. "I can't believe you're using that against me!"
"Such is the life of an authority figure."
Vanellope kicked him in the leg, which did little to his walk and only stubbed her toe. "Ow... You win this round, fiend, but I will counter a smart-aleck comment the next time."
Ralph held back a snicker at how she attempted to sound threatening. "I look forward to that day when you out-smart me."
"Which shouldn't be so hard, you're all full of stink."
"And the 'stink' comments are starting to reek, by the way."
She flustered, her hair standing on end. "Dang it..."
Chuckling, the man reached down to scoop her in his hand and place her on his shoulder. A wide smile lit up her face as she held onto him by his wild hair, leaning her head against his. Lightly patting her back, he continued down the usual path to the castle, resuming the small talk they always had every day, ranging from current events to more attempted-name calling until they reached the gates. Every now and then, he would walk her up to the door, but as security was still out, he just saw her off, leaving once she entered the building with a final wave for the night. With a nod to the guards, Ralph went on his way, whistling a few game tunes while a few sugar candy stars dropped from the sky.
At the end of Rainbow Road, he checked his pockets to make sure Vanellope didn't slip anything in, then stepped through into the terminal. Surge Protector passed on by without a second glance, which Ralph shrugged off, at least happy he wasn't being stopped. Game Central Station was as busy as ever, with the buzz of conversation in the air overlapping the Public Service Announcements, and the voice over the intercom. He took in a deep breath, catching the slight scent of electricity. A few characters waved to him as they side-stepped, and he quickly realized he was in the middle of the walkway and went for the benches.
Glancing over at the port of Fix-It Felix Jr., he shrugged to himself before sitting down, briefly looking down when the wood creaked under his weight. "Might as well hang out here for a bit," he sighed, curling his arms behind his head. "Felix and Sarge are probably on a dinner date or something."
While the thought of the married life of his friend didn't bother him in the least, he rarely talked about it. It never interfered with work, their enhanced friendship wasn't affected, and he enjoyed the company of Sergeant Calhoun. (He still wasn't permitted to call her by her first name, and insisted on keeping her title even outside of Hero's Duty.) Life in his world was better than he had dreamed it would be, with the Nicelanders being friendly toward him, and having Q*bert as his neighbor was comforting (even though he could hardly understand him at times). Loneliness was now a thing of the past.
Ralph let out a slow sigh, vision blurring out the background as he fell into relaxation, and his mind drifted off. The memories slowly played out, both the good and the bad. In his core, he had that desire to get it off his chest. Bad-Anon, as much as he was liking the group and the other villains, only did so much. He understood that he still had a long way to go, but he felt it wasn't satisfying enough. He wanted all that bad data out, game play exempted, to get rid of depressing thoughts for good.
He jerked in his seat when he slipped, pulling him back to consciousness. Smiling awkwardly at passers-by who stared in confusion, Ralph leaned forward and rubbed at his eyes. "I should probably sleep on it," he grumbled. "Or I could go get a drink or something. Yeah, yeah, get my mind off that." Standing up, he turned to the direction of Tapper when he did a double-take.
He was willing to acknowledge he wasn't exactly the brightest character out there, but one thing he was proud of was his memory. Even when he wasn't well-liked, he took the time to memorize faces, whether if he got their names or not. Anytime a new game was installed to the arcade, there was always an announcement, whether in Game Central Station, or by word-of-mouth. The longer he gazed upon the character, the more puzzled he got, not recalling hearing of any new arrivals.
She was standing by the map for who-knows how long, the most confused, anxious look on her face. Constantly was she fidgeting in place, hands tugging on the frilly apron she adorned. After a quick look around in case someone else had also noticed her, Ralph walked up to her side, unsurprised he easily towered over her. "Excuse me, ma'am," he politely started, "you need some help?"
What looked to be a small, wonky crown flickered above the woman when she gasped (more like squeaked) and jumped back, gawking up at him with wide eyes and small irises. He blinked quizzically down at her, a wave of sad nostalgia rising in his core. He raised a hand in an apologetic manner. "Sorry 'bout that. Anyway, are you looking for a port?"
Her face relaxed, the green irises growing to take up half of what would be her eyes, if she had any whites for them. Her voice was timid when she spoke, having a hint of a foreign accent. "Um... I guess..."
Ralph drew connections to Vanellope's design almost immediately, though she had a different style. Her nose was petite, almost a bulge in the middle of her face, her mouth had brief similarities to a cat's, eyebrows were pencil-thin, and she looked to have permanent, circular blush marks on her cheeks. The oddest trait he could already see was her shag-cut hair, with the end strands—possibly the longest strands—curling far behind her.
There was a name for this style he couldn't place his finger on.
"Do you know the name of the port?" he inquired.
She looked down as her eyes drooped, hands tightly gripping the strawberry-patterned apron, and toe of a shoe lightly tapping the floor. A slight nod was seen, but she remained silent. He fought back a groan, understanding her current situation. "I take it you're a newbie."
He lightened up a little. "Can't blame you. Game Central Station is a big place. You're not the only one to have gotten themselves turned around. At least I got to you before you wandered off somewhere." He jutted his thumb at the announcement playing behind him, refraining from quoting it along with Sonic. "You enter a game and get hurt, it's game over for you."
She briefly glanced up at him before turning to the map. "I can't... find my port."
"What's the name of the game you're looking for?"
Running a hand nervously through her auburn hair, she murmured a word.
"Speak up, I can't hear you from up here." He mentally filed the sentence away to memory for later use.
Her face glowed a little from embarrassment, and she lifted her head for better projection. "It's called Scrumples."
Ralph quickly covered his mouth to swallow down a laugh. "Such an odd name for a game port," he gasped out.
The woman's eyes dropped again, and his stomach knotted in guilt. "Not... that it's bad. A friend of mine makes fun of the game here called Hero's Duty, though she'll find anything funny." He briefly rolled his eyes. "Then there was a game here years back called Jumpman until the character got a name change. Can't exactly blame him."
"What's your game?"
He scratched at his head from her innocent question. "It's Fix-It Felix Jr." He paused for a moment. "Before you ask, no, that's not my name. I'm 'Wreck-It' Ralph, the villain, but that's just my title. So it's Ralph."
She blinked a few times, eyes widening slightly as she scanned him up-and-down, which he fidgeted under her gaze. It took a few moments before she spoke. "You're not scary-looking, though."
Ralph had to laugh even if it would attract attention, placing his hands on his hips. "Well, it's better than being called a hobo." He grinned down at her puzzled expression. "Anyway, ma'am, you need an escort to your port?"
Looking back at the map, the woman grew worried again. "I can't find it..."
Three squiggle lines floated above her head as her lips pursed. Ralph didn't know if she was aware of them, but decided not to point them out. "Well, if you're new, then they probably didn't update the map yet."
"I've been here for a week now..."
Slowly, he took a look himself on the map, trailing his eyes to the legend on the side. After a few moments, his brows furrowed. "Odd..." He heard a small sniffle, and turning his attention to her, he spotted tears on the edges of her eyes, and her hands had suddenly lost their fingers, looking more like knobs. "Uh... have you tried asking Surge Protector, yet?" he hurriedly suggested, getting a little creeped out about her behavior. "He would know where your port is."
"I shouldn't have gotten on that train," she whimpered, ends of her hair drooping. "I-I didn't know my stop, so I stayed on... and... a-and..."
"Wait, how long were you on the train?"
His voice might have gotten a little gruff, for she flinched a little upon swerving to look at him. "U-Um... I guess thirty minutes."
Ralph's brows rose. "Thirty? It normally takes no more than five minutes to get to Game Central Station. That had to mean..." He counted on his fingers. "...you took six trips."
She started to weep again. "I don't kno-o-ow!"
The moment grew more tense and awkward, the man desperately looking for Surge Protector in the crowds. "Darn it all... do you happen to remember which direction you came from?"
The woman pointed behind him, then froze, eyes giving off a blank stare. "...I think..."
He gaped at what he heard, unable to take his eyes off her unnerving look. She never once looked away, her face unfaltering. "I walked around in a circle for a while," she replied to break the silence. "I lost track of time, and forgot the train number I was on." Her arm dropped to her side. "I can't read English very well either, even though the translators made sure I could speak fine." Her shoulders then shrugged. "Programmers don't think very deeply." When she blushed, she gave a small smile.
The station's clock's minute hand let out a clank when it landed on the six.
The train came to a smooth stop, with the announcer naming off the name of the station, and a few different ports. As the characters got off onto the dock, the woman let out a breath, standing up from her seat and brushing the back skirts of her dress. She turned to Ralph, tilting her head at his posture. "Um... we're here."
He slowly blinked, then raised his head. He was unsure if he was glowering, his brows had grown numb some time ago. "Oh, I see."
She fidgeted in place, then bowed a little. "Thank you for escorting me on the trip. And... thanks for listening."
He remembered a little of what happened during the ride, though he had only caught a few words from her. Giving a half-shrug, he simply said, "No problem. I was happy to listen."
A small smile came upon her lips, looking more like a cat's mouth than before. She turned to leave, then looked back. "Um... it's Wreck-It, right?"
"Just call me Ralph."
"Oh, yeah." Her smile turned nervous, a small drop of sweat appearing on her temple. "Nice to meet you, Ralph."
He nodded, more out of habit than sincerity. "Same here."
Her chin drooped in a little, her blush marks burning brighter. "Yes..."
He gestured his hand in a small wave. "Better get going. You're causing a scene."
The crown appeared again as she swerved her head to look over at the new passengers gaping up at her, wordlessly asking her to make a move. With a red face, she faced Ralph again, bowed once more, and jumped onto the dock. She then spun around on her heels, the long ends of her apron's ribbon falling around her knees. Lifting a hand, her fingers flapped in what he suspected was a wave of farewell just as the train jerked, and sped into the tunnel. She became a dot in the distant within seconds before he blinked.
Letting out a sigh, he side-glanced at the other passengers before returning his gaze to the lights. It would become just another memory by the morning.