A/N - Um.
Remember when I started that drabblefic to act as a sequel to Ghost Boy?
Well...I had this idea, and um...this happened. I think I'll just leave Mountains We Haven't Climbed open, and add to it whenever I have oneshots and stuff, 'cause that's pretty much what it was anyway. I just...hot damn I had this idea, and all the fans on Tumblr seemed really enthusiastic about it, and I couldn't pass up the chance to do a Ghost Boy sequel that had a running plot and drama and stuff, and yeah.
So, that's that.
Enjoy the REAL sequel to Ghost Boy, and I mean it this time.
"We are our memories...That's all we are. That's what makes us the person we are. The sum of all our memories from the day we were born. If you took a person and replaced his set of memories with another set, he'd be a different person. He'd think, act, and feel things differently."
- Brian Falkner, Brainjack
"Move it or lose it, people! Everybody out! Let's go, go, go!"
Vanellope von Schweetz had been consumed by an uncanny sense of deja vu even before Sergeant Calhoun had begun barking her orders, just as she had during the last Cy-Bug invasion of Sugar Rush, over a year ago now. The little girl was currently perched on Ralph's shoulder, her arms wrapped around his neck in a death grip as he hustled them both towards the exit. She watched with fearful hazel eyes as boiling swarms of Cy-Bugs blotted out the normally cheery tones of her game. There was nothing to do but escape, so she supposed that it was a good thing that they'd reached the apex of the Rainbow Bridge and were now passing through the archway in the mountain that would deliver them to Game Central Station –
An incoherent yelp from behind her snatched her attention away from Sugar Rush's predicament.
Stuck at the exit to the game, his progress halted by an electric blue force field, was a small figure clad in white from head to toe. The only splashes of color on his person were the red accents of his jumpsuit, and his luminescent yellow eyes, which were round and desperately pleading as they frantically swiveled to gaze at her. "Vanny!" he cried, pressing himself against the barrier until the palms of his chalky hands flattened. "Help me!"
"Turbo!" Vanellope gasped and leaned over Ralph's shoulder as far as she dared. "Turbo, glitch your way through! You can do that!"
"I'm trying, but I can't!" Turbo's hands had twisted into fists now, which pounded at the wall that was tangible to no one but him. Red static crackled down his body in irregular bursts. "Vanellope, please! Don't leave me behind!"
Unable to stand their separation anymore, she prepared to launch herself from her perch and rush to him, but Ralph's beefy fingers closed around her in an unbreakable hold.
"Ralph, what are you doing?!" she screeched, wriggling and struggling against his grip. "I need to get to Turbo!"
"It's too late for him, kid," responded Ralph solemnly. "You're more important."
"No! No, I won't leave him!" With a furious burst of strength, Vanellope managed to pry her arms free, but not before Turbo's scream of terror pierced her ears.
He was no longer alone on the Rainbow Bridge now – there was someone else there, something else. It towered high above the cowering racer on six spiked insectile legs, and the chitin armor plating its form glinted nearly neon in the irregular light. It possessed so many scary features, from the mouth stuffed full of razor-like teeth to the claws spread in a disturbing parody of human hands...but possibly the most distressing thing about it was its head. While most of it resembled an enormous monstrous bug, its face was that of a person, and one that all of them recognized.
The monster laughed, its chucking "ooh-hoo-hoo" giggle, as it reached down and swept Turbo into its clutches. Turbo screamed again and extended his arms towards Vanellope, eyes nearly bugging out of his head. "Vanny, don't leave me!" he wailed.
"No! Turbo! TURBO!" she shrieked, but the exit was drawing farther and farther away from her now, until it was nothing but a distant pinprick of light...
"TURBO – !"
Mercifully, that was when her eyes decided to snap open.
Vanellope clutched her tangled comforter and trembled, needing several moments to confirm that she was in her royal bedchambers, not being dragged down a tunnel while forced to watch her best friend stranded on the Rainbow Bridge. There were no Cy-Bugs, either; the sarge would never let another outbreak happen, especially not in Sugar Rush. And King Candy was finally gone for good.
Several months ago, the little president had taken a huge risk when she'd decided to give Turbo, the game-jumping good-guy-gone-bad who had ruined her life for fifteen years and possibly the most hated man in Litwak's Arcade, a chance to reform his ways. With the aid of her friend and guardian Fix-It Felix Jr., Turbo had been given a hard reset to restore his code to default, and then had much of his memory wiped. That was how she had come to discover that the most hated man in the arcade wasn't a man at all – he was just a kid, a very young teenager with a love of racing, a bit of a sensitive streak, and a glitch that irritated him to no end. Oh, and a cluster of malware embedded within his code that they hadn't detected until it was nearly too late...
She shuddered internally and forced herself to focus on happier memories, such as the month she'd spent training Turbo to control his glitch and become a real Sugar Rush racer. It had been surprising when she'd come to the realization that he was far from evil, even more so when the two of them had somehow formed a strong bond. She loved him like a best friend, like a big brother, and by now they had been through so many dire situations together that it was only natural for her to worry about him once in a while.
Perhaps that was why she was unable to shake the sensation that something was wrong...
Sighing at her own babyish behavior, Vanellope lifted herself into a sitting position and lowered her feet into the cotton candy slippers awaiting her on the floor. Her tiny feet whisked against the floor as she padded down the hall, finally stopping to creak open the door to Turbo's bedroom.
Her eyes strained to adjust to the darkness. Since the lemon-drop sun within the game never set, every window in the castle was equipped with heavy blackout curtains, which were drawn tightly shut when it was time to go to sleep. Eventually, she was able to pick out the slender forms of Turbo's trophies crowded across nearly every flat surface, and the heap of his latest knitting project (he insisted that it was crochet, but she doubted it) strewn over a chair. And from the doorway she had a near-perfect view of his bed, with him curled up in a ball on top of it.
A breath of relief escaped her lips. Turbo had kicked his blankets to the ground, which was normal for him since he was such a fitful sleeper, but other than that he appeared to be slumbering soundly. He was all snuggled up in white footie pajamas embroidered with red race cars, and she smiled, thinking of her snide nickname for him. His regular racing jumpsuit might have looked a bit like sleepwear, but Pajama Boy's actual pajamas were much cuter.
Then he sat up abruptly, eyes widening into startled glowing orbs. "Wha? Whozzere...?!"
Vanellope groaned. She considered herself an expert in sneaking around, but Turbo happened to be about the world's lightest sleeper.
"It's just me, Pajama Boy," she called over quietly. "Sorry, I didn't mean to bother you."
"Vanny?" He squinted, leaning back on his elbows. The wheels in his head ground together with an almost audible sound as he tried to puzzle out her presence there. "What're you doing in my room?"
"I had a bad dream," she murmured, her feet slipping across the carpet as she made her way over to his bed. Well, since he was awake...
Turbo scooted over, but made sure to roll his eyes dramatically in a way that she couldn't help but notice. She almost snorted. This wasn't the first time that she'd climbed into bed with him, far from it, and yet every time he had to put on a show of "I'm only doing this because I have to." Any teenage brother would do the same, she supposed, but she knew him better than that. He really didn't mind as much as he let on.
"Oh, don't even start," she scolded, sticking her tongue out as she flopped beside him. "Really, this is more of a burden for me than it is for you. I'm not the one who talks in my sleep."
"No one's forcing you to come in here," he muttered gruffly, his head dropping heavily to his pillow. Even when he was sleeping, he didn't remove his helmet, which was the only thing shielding his extremely bald head from view. "What was your nightmare about?"
He stiffened visibly, and a crackle of red pixels zipped down his body, as bright as a shower of sparks in the darkened bedroom.
"But it doesn't matter now, 'Bo," she concluded, already reassured as she snuggled up against him. "We got rid of him, you and me. Well, Ralph and Felix and the sarge helped too, of course."
"Still." He rolled onto his side to meet her eyes, and his face was as round and pale as the moon, his little snub nose barely visible. As strange as his appearance could be at first glance, with his chalk-white skin and yellow eyes sunken into dark hollows and mouth full of too many dull yellow teeth, you didn't have to look hard to see how young he truly was. Now that he had been stripped of his corrupted coding, he looked like a kid, albeit one that had been conceived in an era when programming had been very limited. Honestly, Vanellope could see how he had earned the nickname "ghost boy," but she would never call him that, ever. There were still bullies out at Tapper's or in Game Central Station who teased him with that phrase, and she was always shocked at how much it profoundly upset him.
"Look, Bo, I'm fine." She placed her hand on his cheek comfortingly. "It was just a dumb dream. I'm not scared or nothin'."
"Yeah, glitter-graphics, I know you're made of tougher stuff than that." His voice was gentler now, more sympathetic. "It's just...normally I'm the one having nightmares about him, not you."
She bobbed her head somberly. She and everyone else in their little surrogate family were all too familiar with Turbo's recurring nightmares, which caused him to awaken screaming far too frequently for comfort. "It happens every once in a while. Whatever, doesn't bother me. He can't get us now." Her head inched towards his shoulder. "I'm just gonna stay in here, just in case. You'll protect me, won't you, Pajama Boy?"
"You know it." He slipped his arm around her back, and she smiled contentedly, allowing her eyes to fall shut. "Night, then."
"Good night..." she echoed quietly, her dream already all but entirely forgotten.
She had been through a lot, probably more than any nine-year-old should have to endure, but she'd made it through the adversities and earned herself a family in the process. What Turbo had once been like – what he had once become – no longer mattered, because she was perfectly satisfied with who he was right now, and so was he. Even though he was constantly reminding her that they weren't really related, because they were both "programmed parentless," or kids who had been created with no families or memories of ever having families, personally she would always see him as her big brother.
And nothing would ever come between them, never ever, never again.