AN: I hope that you all have had a wonderful holiday season! I know I did, but now it's back to the very serious business of fanfic writing and posting. So, do you guys remember that puppy I mentioned in 'Knit,' and the house I've mentioned a couple of times in my other stories? I just could not get them off my mind, and so, after writing most of this story on my phone through texts, combined with a deep need for pure fluff after writing something entirely too depressing (yet strangely entertaining), I bring you this. I hope you all like it, and are having an amazing end to two-thousand and twelve!
Disclaimer: I do not own Wreck-It Ralph. Disney does.
It was a well-known fact that Tamora Jean Calhoun, Sergeant of Hero's Duty, was the toughest character to ever be plugged in on this side of the arcade. She might not have been the tallest character, or the physically strongest, but she was the toughest, and any who tried to question this would quickly find themselves face down on the floor as she proved just how tough she really was.
A lesser known secret, known, in fact, by only two other characters in the entire arcade, both of whom she had sworn to secrecy with the threat of a very painful death, was the fact that she had fallen in love with a fluffy little white puppy.
It had started the day Felix had volunteered the two of them to help out in one of the newer games, a simulation pet store where the player tried to sell as many animals as they could in the shortest amount of time possible. It had just been plugged in the day before, and since the owner, an elderly man who was too old to care for the creatures himself, had decided to interview a couple of the characters whose game had been unplugged as possible employees, the ever helpful handyman had promised that they would take care of the store until the help had been hired. After a bit of persuasion on her husband's part, Tamora had finally agreed to go along, exchange her guns for kibble and treats, and do whatever was needed of her in the shortest, most efficient way possible so that they could get on with their lives.
At least, that had been Tamora's plan, until she saw her in the first cage she approached, the cutest little puffball to ever be in the whole of the arcade's existence.
Tamora had always loved dogs. If the broken memories that had been programmed in with her backstory were anything to go off of, she had had a series of canine companions throughout her entire childhood, bought for her by clueless parents every time something major happened in her life. First time she had gotten into a fight with the boys at school and won? She had been punished by a two week suspension and rewarded with a doberman. Breaking up with her first boyfriend at the age of fifteen had resulted in a week's worth of chick flicks with her mother, the consumption of a couple of gallons of ice cream, and a six-week-old Pomeranian named Cocoa who had, luckily, gotten along well with Thor, Mandy, and Shredder. Up until the moment she had joined the space marines, she had always had a pet of the dog variety, and the impossibility of keeping one while in deep space had been, until Brad, her greatest regret.
So, the moment that her eyes had fallen upon that white furred, blue eyed ball of fluff, Tamora had been lost.
It had not been until Felix had come searching for her hours later that she realized just how long she had spent playing with that one puppy, leaving all of the other work for him to do while she cuddled the creature. All it had taken was a single glare to known that he would never again mention what he had seen, but still she had felt embarrassed that she had become so caught up in one animal.
Said embarrassment did not keep her from going back.
Within a week of the incident, it had quickly become part of her routine, heading on over to the pet store after a long day of fighting cy-bugs to unwind while Felix finished any extra repairs to the apartments that were in his game before meeting up with Ralph and Vanellope for their latest game jump. Even after some characters had been hired to care for any animals that were left over in the shop after the arcade closed, the pre-established order remained, and the puppy was left alone for her to care for. Once she had arrived, it would only be a few moments later that the owner, the only other person beside Felix who knew of the reason behind her visits, would show her to one of the private play rooms with puppy in arm, smiling his kind smile as he handed her over. Hours would then be spent each week brushing and cuddling her little puffball of a dog, playing with the five pounds of fur until it was finally time to meet up with the others for their newest adventure.
It broke her heart each day that she arrived to see that puppy still sitting behind the bars of its cage, for that meant that, once again, no one had wanted her enough to buy her. However, she could never suppress that little smile that would cross her face at the exact same moment, for that meant she could pretend for another day that the dog was actually hers.
"Why don't you buy her," the owner had asked once as he returned the puppy to her cage, the tired thing yawning as it curled up on its blankets after a few rounds of tug-of-war. "It's obvious that you want her, my dear, and it seems as if she likes you just as well."
"You're kidding, right," Tamora had responded to the older man's question, though not unkindly. "She wouldn't even be a snack for a cy-bug, and Felix's apartment has a long standing 'no pets' policy that not even he can break. Besides," Tamora had continued with a soft sigh, her voice betraying the longing she felt for the creature, "she'd be better off with someone who actually has the time to take care of her."
With that said, the issue never again came up between them, and outside of the pet shop, Tamora never mentioned her trips to the pet store to the others. For almost two months, her pattern of Felix, cy-bugs, puppy, and Felix continued in that order, and she was happy.
It was not until almost two months after she had first laid eyes on that puppy, the day before her programmed birthday, in fact, that the day Tamora had been dreading came to be, and she walked into the store to find an empty cage instead.
"Someone finally came for her," the owner had said with a shrug, his eyes carefully avoiding her purposely blank face. "A nice young man, someone who will be more than able to give her the good home that she needs, bought her for his wife. Apparently the little lady took a liking to her, and he thought that she would make a good gift. Sorry sweetie; I know how much you liked her."
"No, it's fine. Good," Tamora had said with a determined nod, forcing a smile onto her lips that refused to meet her eyes. "Good. I'm glad. She deserves a home, and I'm glad that she's got one." Nodding her thanks to the owner for keeping her secret for so long, careful to keep the disappointment from her face, Tamora had quickly turned and left, wanting nothing more than to go home, curl up on the apartment couch, and wait for her husband to come home so that he could help her forget her furry little friend after what had already been a very bad day.
However Felix, it seemed, had other plans for their night.
Tamora, please meet me at the top of the hill once you're home. I have something I need to show you. Love, Felix
For a minute, Tamora had been tempted to ignore the note that had been sitting on the apartment table, to pretend that she had had a long day of crappy players (which she had. Her inability to play with her puppy had only made that little fact even worse), had never seen it, and had just fallen asleep on the couch the moment she had arrived, thus allowing her to avoid whatever it was that her husband had planned. She could have done it too, for if she had learned anything over the past few months that they had been married, it was that Felix could never tell her 'no' and that he could never stay 'cross' with her. If it was just something that he wanted to show her, then surely it would still be there tomorrow night, when he could show her before they headed over to Sugar Rush. If she pulled it off properly, Felix would never even begin to suspect the truth.
It was with a groan that Tamora shrugged off her armor, changed into a set of comfortable civvies, and left for the top of the hill, because even if Felix was the most trusting character in the entire arcade, she would have known the truth, and Mod dang it all but she loved the little fella far too much to do something like that to him.
"You're here early," Felix said with a smile as he pushed himself to his feet, bounding over to her side as her head poked over the top of the hill. Offering her his hand, he helped to pull her up the last few feet, steadying her as her boots, perfect for the rocky terrain of Hero's Duty, slid on the slick grass of Fix-It Felix Jr. Letting go once she had regained her footing, Felix quickly hurried back over to the blanket he had been in the process of smoothing out, his hands fumbling slightly as he rummaged through the picnic basket he had brought along with him. "Root beer," He offered, holding out one of the bottles from Tapper's for her to take, "or maybe something stronger? I have that too." His smile fading slightly as he took a look at her face, it was with a tilt of his head that read her emotions.
"Tammy, what's wrong?"
"Root beer's fine, Fix-It," Tamora said with a forced smile as she settled herself down next to him, taking a swing of her drink before answering his next question, forcing herself to focus solely on the job related aspect of her mood. "Just tired, I guess. Players today kept getting to level seven, and that's…"
"That's where you remember," Felix finished with a wince, swirling the bottle of root beer that he had pulled out for himself between the palms of his hands. "I'm sorry, Tammy," he finally said, reaching out to slide his cold fingers between her own as his bottle gestured to the layout he had planned. "If you don't feel up to it and want to do something else, we could always do this another time."
"And waste the pie I can smell in there," Tamora asked with a small but real smile, the fact that Felix was willing to let all of his hard work be for nothing just to make her feel better lifting her mood enough to enjoy what was before her. "I don't think so, soldier. Besides, you have me curious with this 'something' that you said you needed to show me. So, what is it?"
"Patience, Tammy," Felix reprimanded with a widening grin as he uncovered the pumpkin pie that he had stashed away in the bottom of the basket and a couple of forks, holding one out to her as if it was a sword for her to accept. "Eat first, and then I can show you. Besides, it's not going anywhere, so we can take our time."
Plucking the fork from his hand, her smile widening to match his own-even if it still seemed a bit distant-it was with no words and a quick kiss that stunned Felix just long enough for her to steal the entire pie that Tamora dug into the food and finally began to enjoy her night off.
An hour later, their stomachs full of root beer and pies, just as the late night chill was beginning to sink into their codes, Felix pushed himself to his feet and offered her his hand.
"Would you like to go see your surprise?"
"What kind of question is that, Fix-It," Tamora teased as she pushed herself to her feet, her hand intertwining with his as she began to tug him down the hill. "Of course I do."
"Then you're going the wrong way, Tammy," Felix laughed as they reached the bottom, the hill that they had just been lying on now between them and Fix-It Felix Jr.'s slowly growing city. Taking the lead, forcing her to walk at his own pace, it was with measured steps that Felix pulled her around the base of the hill and down towards the main street, his free hand nervously fiddling with the top of his hammer as he began to speak. "I have to tell you something, Tammy, and I'm afraid that you're going to be mighty mad with me once you find out. But I swear that it was for the best."
"Well then, whatever it is, spit it out, Fix-It," Tamora said with an amused tone as she glanced down at her husband, her mind already making the leap that whatever he was about to say was not only something that would not even make a blip on her moral radar, but also had to do with the surprise that he was about to show her.
"I've been lying to you, Tammy," Felix said after a moment, his head bowed as he confessed what was probably his greatest crime since they had been together to her. "You know all of those nights when I said that I was working on fixing the other apartments? Well, I wasn't." Pulling her to a stop, it was with a sigh that Felix dropped her hand and instead pulled his hat from his head, his fingers worrying the bill as he glanced up at her face. "I just hope that the result of those lies can help you forgive me telling them." Gently pushing on her leg, it was with a curious grin and an amused shake of her head at her husband's words that Tamora took his physical indicator and turned to look at her surprise.
The smile dropped from her face as shock replaced the amusement, her eyes widening as she took in the overly large house with a yellow door that was standing in the middle of the neighborhood.
"I-I've noticed that you're not quite comfortable in the penthouse," Felix stuttered, taking her prolonged silence for its worst case meaning as she continued to stare at the dwelling before her. "A-and I remembered how we had to specially make Ralph's house, so I decided that, since you've been spending most of your time here since we got married, that you should have a place fit to your size as well. The others helped me design it, and we've been working on it for a while, and oh, Tammy, please don't be mad that I lied to you. I wanted to keep it a secret until it was done, and I-"
Whatever Felix had been about to say was cut off as Tamora wrapped her fingers around his shirt collar, lifted him to eye level, and soundly kissed him until the honey glows fills his cheeks and his brain could barely remember to breathe.
"Felix, I love it, and if it means that much to you, you're forgiven," Tamora said with a chuckle as she placed her handyman back onto his feet, watching him for a moment to make sure that he would stay on them before turning her gaze back onto the house. Although only two stories, it was taller than the apartments that were on either side of it, and, from what she could see through the gaps between them, a metal fence had been added around the back to create a self-contained yard. Watching as Felix regained his ability to think and walked ahead, her smile reappearing as he was forced to jump the steps that she was able to easily walk up, it was with eager anticipation that he pulled the key from his shirt pocket and help it out to her.
"For you, Ma'am," Felix said with a flourish as he dropped the metal object into her hand, pulling an identical one from his other pocket to show her the extra that he had had made. "All for you."
"For us, you mean, Fix-It," Tamora replied with a snort as she fit the key into the lock, knowing that, with how safe Niceland was, it would probably be the only time in her life that she had to do it. "If I'm living in this house, than so you. The penthouse can go back to being used for parties, because you are moving in." With that, Tamora finished unlocking the door to their new home and pushed it open so that she could see what was inside.
"Oh my lands…"
"'My lands,' is putting it mildly, Fix-It," Tamora said with a raised eyebrow as she looked around at the destruction that lay before her. From what remained of the furniture and decorations, she could tell that a lot of thought had been put into making the entrance room seem warm and welcoming, a homey feeling already seeping into her code as she examined everything that was left. However, despite the wave of comfort and the invitation to relax that had swept over her the moment she had walked in, Felix tight on her heels, her mind was instead focused on the piles of fluff and torn cloth that littered the floor. "What, in the name of the Moderator, happened in here, short stack?"
"Oh boo," Felix swore as he took a closer look at what Tamora believed had been the couch, his hammer already pulled from his belt as he began to repair the damages. "Excuse my potty mouth, Tamora, but I do believe that she's gotten out of her box. We're going to have to start training her not to eat the furniture, or else we'll be coming home to messes like this every day."
"Who are you talking about," Tamora asked as she leaned against one of the walls as Felix bounded throughout the house, his relief that the damages had been contained to the front living room clear on his face as he returned and began fixing the rest of the room, torn apart coffee tables, comfortable love seats, and a second, smaller sofa taking shape beneath the skilled movements of his hammer. Pausing for a moment as he approached the largest pile of stuffing, it was with a satisfied sigh that he began to rummage through it, finally answering her question as he pulled the destroyer in question from the nest it had made and help her up for Tamora to see.
The moment her familiar blue eyes met Tamora's, the puppy wiggled itself out of Felix's grasp and bounded over to the woman that was her very new owner.
"You…you bought her," Tamora said softly in awe as she knelt to the ground, her fingers automatically finding the sweet spot on the puppy's back that she had discovered a few weeks beforehand. "You actually bought her."
"Of course," Felix said as he put the final touches on the room that the puppy had destroyed in their absence, the frame that she had somehow managed to knock from the wall returning itself to its proper position, the glass once again protecting the picture that had been inside of it. Taking a moment to look around the room, seeing that everything once again matched up with the memory he had of it from that morning, it was with a nod that he placed his hammer back into its spot on his belt before turning fully to look at his wife. "I actually bought her a while ago, the first day the game was plugged in and you spent the entire time playing with her, but I thought that she would make a better an early birthday present than a random gift."
"But I thought that there was a 'no pets' policy," Tamora asked as she swept the puppy into her arms, her words almost giving the impression that she was scared someone was going to take it away from her.
"The apartment has a 'no pets' policy, Tammy," Felix said slyly, leaning against the side of the couch so he could watch as the puppy bathed the bottom of Tamora's chin and neck with her tongue, "and I don't know about you, but I don't rightly think that this is an apartment, Ma'am. If I'm not mistaken, this is a house, and I do believe that the rules are a little different. That's partly why I had to wait so long before picking her up; had to get this finished, or else I would have been breaking my own rules."
"Thank you, Felix," Tamora said quietly as she pressed her cheek against the top of the puppy's head, a soft smile imprinted upon her face, "I love her. Her, and the house, and you."
"Love you too, Tammy," Felix said as he walked over to her, placing a gentle kiss to her forehead before reaching down to pet the dog. "She needs a name, and while it'll be your choice, I was thinking Xena, or Minerva, or maybe even-"
"Excuse me," Felix asked, pulling away slightly so he could look at his wife with a raised eyebrow.
"Her name is Puffball," Tamora said, her smile growing at her husband's confused look as she snuggled closer to her puppy. "Puffball the Terrible."
"Well then, Puffball," Felix replied, the corners of his mouth trembling slightly as he tried to keep from laughing, "welcome to the family." A moment later, however, he was unable to keep his laughter contained, and so began to chuckle at his wife's choice of a name.
"Shut it, Fix-It," Tamora growled before pulling him into a kiss, neither of them caring that Puffball the Terrible had run off until the sound of ripping fabric caught their attention, and sent them into a frenzy to catch her.
It was a well-known fact that that Tamora Jean Calhoun, Sergeant of Hero's Duty, was the toughest video game character to be plugged in on this side of the arcade. It was a fact that Private Green, always the troublemaker in her group of men, had to be reminded of when he started laughing at the sight of Tamora carrying Puffball through the game so that she could make a proper collar and identification tags for the dog. Not even five minutes later, after she had retrieved her puppy from Kohut and Green was being helped to the infirmary, that little fact of life was confirmed for all who had seen the beat down, and it became even more well known that, despite her love for a handyman not even half her size and a cute little fluffy white puppy whose nickname was Poof, she was still the toughest character there.
And she welcomed any chance to prove that the title was hers, for it meant getting to watch more fools who had thought to challenge her bite the dust.