A/N - Well. It's been fun, everybody, but now it's time to say goodbye. "Ghost Boy" is finally complete. And just in case anybody was going to say something about "but it's not even 20 chapters!" this sucker is like 85,000 words long. To keep that in perspective, there are novels that aren't 85,000 words long. So, yeah, basically I wrote a novel for you guys here.
Where do I even start with my closing thoughts? Um, well, when I first began this story, I never thought that it was going to be as popular as it ended up, with well over 200 reviews, a ton of followers, and even people drawing freaking fan art for it. So I think that the first thing I need to say is THANK YOU SO MUCH to every single person who read, reviewed, or supported in any way. You guys are the best fans ever, and I'm so glad that I got to share my story with you! In particular, I'd like to acknowledge a few people who were especially helpful, supportive, enthusiastic, or inspiring...
- BuzzingB and Pikachu-And-Umbreon on deviantART
- usb-dongle and cyndaquileevee on Tumblr
- Rienuaa, Flanny-chan, and Dorrica here on FFN
- And last but not least, Jordan, author of the why-the-hell-is-it-so-riddiculously-popular It's Only Programmed! Yeah, you knew you were gonna be here, Jordan. You know that this fic couldn't have existed without you. Don't even deny it.
But really, every single person who read and/or reviewed this story is an amazing and beautiful person, and I love each and every one of you!
I'm sure that many of you are wondering, will there be more after this? Well, I actually have a lot of ideas about what could go down after this story, but they're all sort of disconnected and don't form one coherent plot. As a result, I'm probably going to start a drabblefic based on the headcanon of this story. Think of it as a TV show, almost, with different short stories like different episodes that are all semi-related to one another. I've also been debating whether or not to go back and work on If It Ain't Broke. For those of you who don't know, that was my first attempt at a WIR fanfic that wasn't supposed to be a prequel to this story but has now pretty much become exactly that. It's not really about Turbo, but it does contain some of the events that led up to this particular story happening. So maybe I'll do that, but any of these projects could be suddenly delayed or cancelled because of, like, school or some shit like that. If you want updates, then the best way to keep in touch with me is on deviantART (gothicorca1895 dot deviantart dot com) or on Tumblr (ifitaintbrokefic dot tumblr dot com, and Turbo has his own Tumblr at turbo-the-ghost-boy dot tumblr dot com). Remember that I am just a silly fan with a silly fanfiction, and don't be hesitant to talk to me!
One last note for the road. I've written over 85,000 words for you guys, so could you at least drop me a couple dozen to let me know how I did? If you've read this whole story from start to finish, then I would love to hear your thoughts on the entire piece! Tell me what you liked, what you didn't, and anything else you can think of, that way I can make my writing even better in the future. Your feedback means so much to me, and I just gotta say that I really, really appreciate all of the attention that I've gotten here. So, thank you. Thank you so much.
And with that, I bid you goodbye...here is the final update of "Ghost Boy." Enjoy!
At the Royal Raceway, preparations for the daily Random Roster Race were in full swing. Synthesized electronic trumpets blared their usual refrain, the sentient candy fans cheered and jumped and wiggled their hands in the air from their seats in the candy-box bleachers, and the fourteen star characters of the game – the racers themselves – had lined up beneath the tall popcorn box beside the starting line. A particularly sharp-eyed observer might be interested to note that there was one additional figure hanging on the fringes of the crowd, almost entirely white, clutching his gold coin with trepidation and gazing upwards with doleful yellow eyes. Then again, such an observer would probably also happen to spot the three anomalies in the "Assorted Fans" section of the audience: a massive square wrecker with a mess of spiky auburn hair, a pint-sized handyman with a golden hammer tucked snugly into his belt, and a tall and sizzlingly attractive woman dressed in full battle armor, up to and including weaponry. This was no ordinary iteration of Sugar Rush, after all.
Sour Bill, eyes half-closed and body language droll, the faint cracks in his hard candy surface barely visible anymore, spoke into the microphone from the top of the popcorn box. "Citizens of Sugar Rush...all hail our rightful ruler, President Vanellope von Schweetz."
Vanellope tore back the red curtain surrounding her spot on box eagerly. She wore her typical ratty old hoodie, candy wrapper skirt, and mismatched leggings, because she was a president and not a princess and nobody was ever going to forget that fact while she was around! "Hello, everybody!" she shouted, snatching the microphone out of Sour Bill's hand without even a glance in her assistant's direction. "Welcome to the Random Roster Race! I'm sure that everybody's eager to get started, I know I am, but sit tight 'cause we have a lot of announcements to go through!
"First of all...I'm sure that everybody's wondering about all that stuff with King Candy."
A hush enveloped both the racers and the crowd. No one could ever forget about what the false king had done to them for fifteen full years, after all, and many of them also had all-too-recent memories of being threatened or even injured when the monarch had made his return a few days ago. Then King Candy had vanished once more, but the sugary land was still disrupted by its president's seemed state of mourning. Today was the first day that she really seemed like herself, and so she was finally ready to lay all of the rumors to rest.
"Let me set the record straight. That wasn't King Candy, it was just a mean ol' virus running around in King Candy's character model. And it's officially gone, so we never have to worry about it anymore, ever!"
Everyone seemed to exhale a collective sigh of relief, before bursting into cheers at this proclamation.
"Okay, okay, settle down, I'm not done!" Vanellope hushed them irritably. "Second, most of you probably noticed that I've been pretty, well, sad for a couple days. It's because a close friend of mine got really hurt by King Candy, and I was worried that he would, you know...but he's okay now, too!"
The candy spectators cheered again at this, but the fourteen avatars were quiet. They knew exactly who Vanellope's "close friend" was, and many of them found their eyes drifting over to the white figure, who was staring up at Vanellope as if nothing else in the world existed.
"But here's the thing!" yelled the little president over the noise of the fans. "My close friend is Turbo."
All of the jovial noise cut out abruptly.
Turbo had been awaiting and dreading this announcement ever since he'd first brought his car to the track and lined it up beside Vanellope's, before gathering with the other racers to listen to the day's announcements. He knew that today would officially be the day that his presence was revealed, or "the day that he became a part of Sugar Rush," as his family had been phrasing it in an attempt to calm his nerves. But his name was synonymous with "evil King Candy" here. Even if the racers were now starting to act more curious than frightened around him, there was no way that he'd be able to be accepted by the entire populace of the game...
The silence following his best friend's words confirmed his worst fears, and he hugged the gold coin he'd borrowed earlier against his chest, flickering red from a minor nervous glitch.
Vanellope frowned as she gazed out over her suddenly subdued subjects, then cleared her throat pointedly. "Yeah, yeah, we all know the name Turbo. And I'm sure that a lot of you think that you know what Turbo is like, too. But here's the thing: for fifteen years, you also thought that you knew who I was. It turns out that even a glitch can turn out to be a princess in disguise."
Uneasy rustling was the only response.
"Turbo isn't bad!" she continued. "He isn't evil, he isn't a virus, and he isn't King Candy. He's just a racer. And so, it is now my presidential decree that he is going to come racing with us, and you're all going to treat him just like you'd treat any other normal person! Give him a chance to prove himself, and you'll see..."
Turbo's eyes had become downfallen during this speech, so he was taken aback when he heard sparse clapping emanating from somewhere not too far away. When he lifted his head, he saw that the other fourteen avatars were all applauding, throwing smiles over their shoulders at him that were either shy or nervous or challenging, welcoming him to their team in the best way that they knew how. Even Taffyta managed to drum up enough enthusiasm to tap her hands together a few times, although the expression that she directed at Turbo was far from friendly. Well, maybe that would change in time, just as it had with Ralph and Sergeant Calhoun and everyone else.
Hesitantly, the spectators began to clap as well, although it seemed more out of obligation than because they actually saw that there was reason to celebrate. But there were three people whose genuine heartfelt sentiment could not be ignored. Turbo was no lip-reader, but when he stared into the "Assorted Fans" area, he was able to get the gist of what his family was saying to him to urge him on...
"...kick some tail for us, squirt!"
"Come on, kiddo, you know you've got this..."
"...proud of you...we're all proud of you..."
Turbo smiled and waved his hand towards them, acknowledging their encouragement. He felt slightly calmer now, but there was still one more issue to resolve, and it was unfortunately a fairly large one: tossing in his coin to become a part of the lineup for the race.
The line of racers inched up gradually as each flung their coin into the winner's cup, then bounced off to their respective vehicle. The crowd's excitement was beginning to reach normal pre-race levels again. Still Turbo hung back, shuffling his feet and gripping his coin so tightly that its engravings would probably leave imprints in his fingertips, crackling with glitches every now and then. When someone came up behind him and gently took his hand, he flinched and nearly cried out.
"Relax, Pajama Boy. It's just me." Vanellope smiled slightly as she stepped up beside him, her own token dangling lightly from one hand. "Don't look so nervous! Everything's gonna be fine, and you saw that everyone's at least willing to give you a chance!"
He drew in a tense breath and nodded, but worry was still knit into his features. "What if it puts King Candy's name on the board again?" he asked tremulously.
"It won't. But even if it does, who cares?" She arched her eyebrows at him, shooting him a knowing look. "You know who you are, Turbo." With that, she skipped forward and flipped her coin nonchalantly, and the announcer's voice was practically swelling with pride as it declared her name.
Turbo allowed the last of his reservations to melt away, and he took a bold step forward. Yes, he did know who he was. It had taken a while, but he finally had an identity of his very own, one that he no longer felt the need to change in order to achieve praise or con other people into adoring him.
He was a lot of things. He was a glitch, he was a kid, he was Vanellope's best friend, and there was still a confident part of his programming that would always cause him to think of himself as the greatest racer ever. Even if that wasn't entirely true, he was most certainly a racer, down to his very code. And there were also many things that he most certainly wasn't: he wasn't a virus, he wasn't evil, and he definitely wasn't King Candy. He was not a monster. And most of all, he wasn't a ghost boy.
All he had needed was for someone to see him, to reassure him that he wasn't invisible. And he had found that someone in the form of the little girl who was now smirking at him from the sidelines, wordlessly beckoning him to come forth.
He knew who he was. He was himself, and even if "himself" meant being a three-foot-tall glitchy child, then other people were just going to have to learn to deal with that.
And apparently the jumbotron agreed, because when his coin flew from his fingertips and bounced into the winner's cup, a single word rolled out that made his face stretch into a yellow-toothed grin and automatically seemed to pry his thumb into his signature gesture: