It was a typical Saturday for the residents of Fix-It Felix Jr.
Well, typical for a day after what Gene would call "the incident-that-shall-not-be-named."
Felix and Tamora woke up at six o' clock, about two hours before the arcade opened. Felix turned towards his lover and gazed into her eyes fondly.
"Mornin', Dynamite," Felix whispered tenderly.
"Morning," Tamora mumbled.
The smaller man inched his way to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. After a sleepy pause, she hugged his head, bringing it close to her stomach. Such an embrace made time fly by before the hour hand on the plain, Fifties style clock arrived at the seven. Felix unwittingly looked at it and jumped out of bed.
"Golly, it's time to get ready for work!" He started getting dressed. "You get suited up while I make pancakes and bacon."
His wife sat up straight and, with a warm smile, added "My favorite."
The married couple did just that, and at seven fifteen they had their breakfast. Just after they finished, Calhoun kissed Felix on his forehead and headed for the door. That was when Felix got a tiny bit antsy.
"Need anything, Fix-It?"
He leaped up and returned the favor. The soldier's hair rose up for a second, then laid itself back down as the unusual couple passionately kissed. Such passion faded as Tamora slowly put her husband down and, with a mild chuckle, left their room in the penthouse.
While Calhoun was boarding the train, Ralph, who had slept in "a little," growled when he saw his delicate, blue clock. It was seven forty.
The arcade would open in about twenty minutes.
"Ai yai yai..."
He forced himself up and lumbered over to his mirror. Combing his hair back with his hands, he hazily thought to himself over whether or not "his" tree grew apples last night. The giant gently opened the door, turned to the tree, and released a sigh of relief.
"Thought I'd go hungry today," he sleepily stated.
Ralph pressed the door closed with one finger, lumbered a foot or two, and tapped his tree with another finger. Four apples fell into his hand, and he popped one into his mouth as if it was a piece of candy. Gene's nasally voice was heard, gently urging Felix to get downstairs and into his position. The only man outside looked through the console's screen and at the arcade's door, which was plastered with kids.
Just as Ralph finished his breakfast and Felix left the penthouse, Mr. Litwak calmly announced that it was opening time. The children rushed inside and competed with each other for the first chance of the day to play their favorite games.
Unfortunately, Fix-It Felix Jr. was no longer one of those games. The bonus levels' novelty had worn off, luring kids back to games such as Hero's Duty. The shift started out with no players at all. Bulldozer and bad guy alike repeated the idle screens over and over until Ralph noticed a pair of pink glasses. He recognized them, knowing it belonged to one of the game's best players. Molly, the little girl in the pink T-shirt, came up to the console with plenty of quarters. She inserted a quarter into the slot, and the game was on.
Ralph stormed over to his place and cried out his catchphrase.
"I'M GONNA WRECK IT!"
The villain swiftly climbed up the building just as he normally would, grabbing Gene and throwing him as far as he could included. Windows that weren't even close to him shattered as he climbed. Once the trip was over and the rain stopped, the Nicelanders answered their queue.
"FIX IT, FELIX!"
And then, it was Felix's turn. He sprinted over to his spot and proclaimed "I CAN FIX IT!"
Because the bonus levels turned Molly into an excellent player, she effortlessly breezed through the first twenty levels. The twenty first round had started...
And Felix couldn't move.
Molly's left eyebrow arched as she spat out "What the?"
She wiggled the joystick and smashed the buttons, but Felix stayed put. He remained helplessly in his idle animation as a brick landed precisely on his head.
"Mr. Litwak!" she called.
Coincidentally, Mr. Litwak was close by. He peered at the screen and asked "What is it, sweetheart?"
"Felix can't move." She moved the joystick, and Felix's unresponsiveness proved her right.
Mr. Litwak disappeared, came back, and smacked the ever threatening sheet on the screen and gave Molly back her quarter. "Simple, the wires connecting the controls have pooped out. It happens to all games." He shook his head in good humor. "I'll call up Carl and have him replace them."
The two parted ways, making the characters' day off official.
Ralph and Felix climbed down the penthouse to meet both new and old Nicelanders, who were all seemingly glued to the screen. The filtered glow of the "Out of Order" had became calm instead of eerie, given the reason it was there. Its calmness didn't make some Nicelanders less nervous.
"'Happens to all games!?'" Gene parroted. "This is the first time that this has happened to any game! Something is wrong!"
"But there are other arcades out there!" piped Felix. "We'll just get those wires replaced or even new controls! We'll be back in business in no time!"
That time was one of the few times Ralph agreed with Gene. "I don't know, Felix. Our game's 30 years old. They probably don't even make them wires anymore."
"And even if we get unplugged, Mrs. President will let us live in Sugar Rush! You guys like that place, right?"
Gene, the only Nicelander to actually see the candy land, shuddered. "If being blinded by all those bright colors and having your eardrum split is your thing." The stocky mayor walked (well, jumped) on the steps. "If any of you need me, I'll be at the bar."
He went inside and shut the door.
"Gene! Wait!" Felix followed him in a hurry.
A realization hit him just when his hand was on the knob.
He faced his fellow characters and declared "Just in case we really are getting unplugged, we're gonna have to pack our things. Come on, now."
Everyone went back to their dwellings, including Ralph.
Once the bad guy entered his shack, he felt something... unfamiliar, a bittersweet sort of deprivation. He knew he was only packing his most prized possession, so confusion or indecisiveness wasn't it. He knew he had friends, and unlike the Nicelanders or Felix he didn't mind having time to himself, so he wasn't lonely. He sat on his bed and reached deep into his mind for any reason for feeling this way...
And then it hit him.
The only reason his game had risked being unplugged then was because he kept at his job. He kept his home, the life he had before "that day." Most of his life had been spent here, doing the only thing he thought he was really good at.
The emptiness Ralph felt was from the threat of losing his only home, and with it the memories he made there.
But that can't be it, he thought.
Until recently, nobody cared about me, the big dumb bad guy who wrecked the building. I can't name one good thing that happened before I met Vanellope.
Wait a minute. Wrecked the building!
Ralph was about to lose the only job he had, and thus the biggest use for the only thing he could really do.
He broke his train of thought by gazing at the shiniest medal he knew, the one Vanellope made him. He got up and extended his beefy arm out to gently pluck the medallion from its perch on the wall. His pensive frown softened into a tiny smile when he read the words "you're my hero."
The proud hero donned the candy medal, knowing that his biggest job wasn't his best job. He left his shack just as he did this morning and spotted Felix, who looked up at the screen just as the Nicelanders did earlier. The larger man ran up to join him. Both of them could see Mr. Litwak, his face hidden behind the sign.
Mr. Litwak laid his hand on the side of the console and confirmed what everyone feared. "He couldn't find anything. No wires, no replacement controls, no anything." His tone was somber, as if he was saying goodbye to an old friend. "You guys will be out to pasture tomorrow morning."
"Who are you talking to?" a boy's wispy voice asked.
"Nobody in particular," the older man sighed. "Fix-It Felix Jr. finally broke for good. I'm unplugging it first thing tomorrow."
"Awww..." the boy whined. "I was thinking about trying those bonus levels again."
Litwak reassured the kid. "Don't worry. Maybe more bonus levels will pop up."
Ralph and Felix observed the two disappear. As soon as they were gone, they looked at each other, and their feelings about the whole situation were clear. Ralph's face wore an expression of calm acceptance. Felix's, one of wavering optimism.
"I guess today's the day, huh, brother?" The handyman smiled, but his eyes were teary.
"Yea." Ralph nodded slowly. "Today's the day."
"Come here." Ralph opened his arms wide both sympathetically and awkwardly. Felix obliged and leaped straight onto Ralph's chest. The fixer sobbed loudly as the wrecker mildly patted his back.
"I'm gonna miss this place, Ralph! I'm gonna miss everything!"
"I.. I'll miss this place, too."
Vanellope glitched out of Sugar Rush's sugar coated train the second it tried to stop. She couldn't help but think of all the things that she planned for tonight. Make fun of Robotnik, prank Felix again, visit the remains of that volcano she used to live in...
She teleported over to FFJ's plug, out of which Nicelanders poured, carrying various belongings.
Is it really happening?
Sensing that something was wrong, she searched for her stinkbrain. Ms. President scanned the outer benches first, then the train stop.
He wasn't there.
Feeling slightly worried, she called out for him into the long tunnel.
"RALPH!" The tunnel amplified the call into an echo.
No answer. Trying not to cry or panic, she clenched her fists and tried again.
The silly sounds of the train echoed through the tunnel. Dark, familiar silhouettes faded into the pixie's view. She loosened her fists, held her left hand above her eyes, and squinted. The image grew and grew until it was apparent that it was Ralph and Felix. Felix's face was wet with tears and Ralph's was worn with concern. Both of their bodies seemed to sag with exhaustion to the point where Ralph slouched even more than usual.
"What's going on?" Vanellope quizzed, her eyes wide in worry.
"It's happening," Ralph simply replied. "Litwak's pulling the plug tomorrow."
Vanellope paused momentarily. She walked peacefully to her friend and laid her hand in his. Her normally cheeky voice became warm and understanding as she cooed "It's okay. You guys can stay with me."