This story is based on a set of images titled "Unplugged" that I found on tumblr by an artist named bonehatter. It really touched me and I wanted to write something in relation to it.
Wreck-It Ralph belongs to Disney.
It had to be a lie. It HAD to. Or at least a terrible misunderstanding…
He had heard from one of the Nicelanders that Sugar Rush was going to be unexplainably unplugged. A quarter had dropped in his game but he didn't care about it. All he wanted to do was see for himself what was going on with the candy go-kart game.
When he arrived, he saw Sugar Rush being evacuated. A rainbow of candy-variety citizens was pouring out of the terminal and into Game Central Station. Feeling his heart tightening in his chest, he trudged over to the terminal as fast as he could. He had to push the various candies out of his way in order to get through. Though they were smaller than he was, the sheer amount of them was pushing him back slightly.
The racers and the doughnut cops were the last to leave, wanting to make sure all the candy citizens got out safe. All the racers stood at the terminal opening. All except one…
Feeling the ground shake beneath them, the Sugar Rush racers looked up to see the wrecker from Fix-It Felix Jr. trying to get through the flood of candy. Panting heavily, he at last reached the terminal entrance and confronted the racers.
"Where is she!?" he demanded.
"I…I don't know what happened," the pink clad racer Taffyta stated, clearly alarmed. "She-she tried to leave but she couldn't… the wall stopped her."
He didn't want to listen anymore. He just wanted to get inside Sugar Rush immediately. So he stomped passed the racers and entered the tunnel. It was dark inside with a pinhole of light shining through from Sugar Rush which was just enough to make out visuals. Getting closer with each step, the light started to get bigger and he could begin to the rainbow path and the cotton candy clouds. Also there was a tiny, silhouetted figure.
His breathes were really shallow caused by exhaustion and panic. But he pushed forward while his lungs expanded and contracted harshly inside his chest. At last, he was able to make out the silhouette standing at the end of the tunnel. Her hands were pressing against the invisible wall. Seeing the wrecker, she managed to smile but her eyes were understandably watery.
"Ralph… you came," she said with peacefulness.
He stopped and hunched over right in front of the invisible barrier, taking a moment to catch his breath. His brown eyes turned up at the little girl while he still panting.
"It's best to stay on the other side," the girl warned. "The game could be unplugged any second now."
"Vanellope…" he huffed. "What is going on? Why are you being unplugged? And why can't you leave? I thought you weren't a glitch anymore."
"I'm still not sure about why we are getting unplugged. As for me not leaving, I guess something came loose in my code and… I'm a glitch again…"
She balled up her first and wiped away the moister in her eyes with her sleeve, trying her best to be brave. His heart sank heavily inside him seeing all this and he dropped to one knee unable to compose himself. The giant wasn't afraid of much. Yet the one thing he feared the most was happening right in front of him. He struggled to get himself not to cry but he knew the tears were coming.
This can't be happening… It couldn't be happening… Why had the code forsaken the both of them? Things were supposed to be all right now since Turbo had been killed and Vanellope's code restored. Hadn't the child been through enough? It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair at all. With all of this running through the wrecker's mind, he pounded his fist in the ground frustration.
She hated to see him like this and tried to cheer him up with a soft smile.
"It's okay Ralph." She attempted to reach for him but her hand was stopped by the barrier, creating a light ripple on the wall. "We had fun didn't we?"
"Oh kid…" he said in a stifled sob.
Finally, he reached through the invisible barrier which he was immune to and place his hand gently on the girl's head, his giant index finger combing through her licorice-colored locks in a soothing fashion causing her eyes to close. For that brief moment, she felt at peace.
"I love you…" she whispered softly. "Stinkbrain…"
Though he didn't want to, he couldn't help but chuckle a bit at the nickname.
"I love you too…"
They stayed there for a minute attempting to comfort one another. Then it started to happen. A loud "ker-clunk" and dragging metal could be heard echoing through the tunnel. It was the sickening sound of Sugar Rush's AC power plug being pulled away from the from the surge protector.
His eyes widened seeing a black hole beginning to form on the horizon. The landscape started to fragment into pixels which were then sucked in by it. Vanellope could see the fear in his eyes when a sudden wind started to pull her in. She as lifted from the ground by the suction but the giant stretched both his arms passed the barrier and grabbed hold of her petite frame never wanting to let go.
The black hole just kept on getting bigger and bigger. Though she remained calm the entire time before hand and was willing to accept her fate, the gravity of the situation suddenly hit the Sugar Rush president like a ton of bricks. It was the end of the line for her and there was no going back. Realizing she was about to die, she started going into hysterics.
"Ralph, I don't wanna die! I don't wanna!"
He didn't know how to respond to her desperate plea. What could he possibly do to stop this? All he could do was hold on to her tighter hoping that the black hole would be merciful and spare her life. But he knew that was just impossible. It was a disastrous phenomenon that had no compassion or feelings.
Vanellope's blood curdling screams pierced through Ralph's ears. Nearly all of Sugar Rush was gone barring only the rainbow path they were standing on. The force of the pull was growing stronger and he didn't know how much longer he could hold on. Slowly he felt himself being inched across the floor.
At last, the wrecker's brown eyes took in a heart-wrenching sight that caused nausea to rise in the pit of his stomach. He noticed that the girl's feet were starting to turn into pixels that were being separated from her body. Soon half her legs were gone, sucked into the cruel darkness. She finally took notice herself and her eyes grew wider in absolute terror realizing she was falling apart.
Hot tears now streaming down his face, he wanted to scream but for some reason no noise could come out of his mouth. Vanellope's legs were completely gone and her right arm and torso were dissolving away into pixels before his very eyes.
The pull of the black hole was too strong now and it forced him take one hand off of his friend and on to the terminal wall to keep himself from going in with her. Doing that, however, caused him to lose his grip on her but he caught her by the hand just in time. It was the thin line of thread that held the two together.
"Ralph, help me!" she screamed again.
Most of her body was gone now. He couldn't take it anymore. It made him physically ill that he could do nothing to help the child when he did so much to protect her in the past. The relenting emotion that was bubbling up inside him finally let itself out.
"VANELLOPE!" he screamed. "Please don't take her! She's just a child!"
Ralph had heard her try to speak her last words but they were cut as what remained of her dissolved. All he had left of her was a tiny hand wedged between his large index finger and thumb which would soon dwindle away. She was gone.
Everything went silent and pitch-black. The giant felt as if the wind had been knocked out of him and found it difficult to breathe.
Eyes shooting open in a haze, Ralph jolted up from his bed with a loud scream following it. Pearls of sweat embroidered his oversized forehead while he panted. His eyes shot around the room trying to make sense of what was going on. He realized that he was looking around the cozy little shack he had built from the bricks left over from his game.
Everything became clear soon. It was only a nightmare. Still his heart was pounding out of his chest and he couldn't catch his breath. He put his large hands over his face to try and calm himself. It was then he felt the tears that had streamed onto his face. It may have been a nightmare but his reaction to it was real. Right down to his pounding heart and his uncontrollable shivers.
His head shot up hearing the door to his shack creak open when a then unknown visitor arrived.
"Hello~" said a sweet, sweet voice. "Rise and shine! Time to wake up Admiral Underpan… Oh! You're awake already. Well that's certainly a first."
All he could do was stare back at the little girl who smiled childishly with her big, pearly white teeth with her arms folded behind her back while she rocked on her heels.
When Ralph didn't move a muscle, her smile reversed itself as she became concerned. Looking at him more carefully, she noticed the sweat that dripped from his face and soaked through his orange plaid shirt.
"Whoa… are you okay? You look a mess…"
His blank expression suddenly changed to a frown with his jowls trembling. He looked as if he was about to cry. She thought that was impossible. They weren't at a wedding or anything. Finally he jolted up out of bed, scooped her up in his arms, and wrapped her in a gentle embrace tucking her head under his chin.
Her hazel eyes just stared up towards the ceiling; her mouth hanging open ever so slightly. She was unable to speak confused and concerned to what was up with her friend. Then she heard the sound of his rapid heartbeat and light sobs as her ear remain pressed against his chest.
Ralph fought with himself internally whether or not he should even tell her. He was the adult after all and he was the one who was supposed to comfort her when she had nightmares. That's how it was supposed to be anyway. He couldn't possibly scare her with a recollection of his.
"Did you have a bad dream?" she finally asked softly, now rubbing her hand in a gentle circle on his chest. A bad dream as putting it very lightly. "You can tell me about it… I promise not to say anything to anyone."
The wrecker exhaled deeply then let his legs buckle beneath him, allowing his heavy frame to plop back down on his bed causing it and the entire shack for that matter to shake.
"Sugar Rush…" he finally muttered. "And you…unplugged…and you couldn't…you couldn't get out…I-I couldn't do anything…"
Recalling the unpleasant images of her disintegrating body faulted his speech and choked him up on his own sobs. He held her tighter in response. She fully understood now even if he didn't form a proper sentence and began to console him with light hushes.
"It's okay… That's not going to happen to me. Ever. Because thanks to you, I'm not a glitch anymore. You're my hero, remember?"
After a long bout of silence, trying to get his snivels under control, he finally replied.
"Even when that hero breaks because of a nightmare…? Let's be real now… it-it's not normal for an adult to be calmed by a kid…"
"Oh don't be ridiculous," she huffed back, sounding slightly offended but not really. "Where's the law that says there's an age limit on helping friends feel better? Even if you stuck yourself in a pink ballerina dress and danced on the bar at Tapper's while singing 'Butterfly', you'd still be the strongest, bravest hero I'd know."
The disturbing images of his nightmares abruptly faded and were replace of Vanellope's humorous hypothetical, causing a pretty much involuntary smile and chuckle. In turn, it made the girl smile.
"It just shows that you really care about me… And that makes me feel special. But I don't want you to be upset about it. Just know that there's nothing to worry about. I'm not going anywhere…"
Vanellope's reassuring words worked their magic and Ralph found himself relaxing with his eyes closed, breathing softly against her hair. The little girl was able to hear that his heartbeat was starting to normalize to a regular pace. She raised her head from his chest for a moment in order to plant a light kiss on his cheek.
"I love you Stinkbrain."
"And I love you… Princess of Booger Faces…" he forced himself into a light laugh.
After a few more minutes in that state, Ralph finally felt at peace and unwound his arms allowing Vanellope to jump back down to the floor. A loud creak of the bed was heard as he pushed himself up from it.
"Now… hurry up, get changed, and don't hesitate to brush those teeth of yours," the girl started to lecture while pointing at the man. "We're heading to Burger Time for some chow and I don't need your yellow teeth ruining my appetite!"
"Coming from the girl who brushes her teeth with marshmallow paste," he laughed then nudged her shoulder playfully.
Both shared in a moment of laughter then looked at each other with soft expressions.
"No problem, Big Guy."
The wrecker soon cleaned himself up and joined his sugary little friend for a nice meal, walking with her hand-in-hand all the way to Burger Time. With her by his side, he could overcome any nightmare. He hoped to only dream of all the wonderful moments the two of them shared together as the closest friends in the entire arcade.
Just to note, the Unplugged image set did not have Ralph waking from dream. I did that on my own. With all the stories of Ralph comforting Vanellope out there, I thought it'd be nice to have it the other way around. Thanks for any reviews you give me :)
Oh. I forgot to mention before that the song Vanellope is referring to is Butterfly by Smile dk. I figured characters of an arcade would know a song like that since pretty much all DDR machines have that song available :P