Author's Note: Sly Cooper the events concerned, and the characters are all copyright of Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., Sucker Punch Productions 2005, and any other groups/people who deserve the credit. This is a non-profit work of fanfiction, so please don't accuse me of plagarisim—I don't own any of the aforementioned stuff; this is just my way of paying tribute.

This story details my own take on the first game's ending—while I've made some changes to what happens, those who haven't beaten the game might want to steer clear if they don't want a spoiler. This is just a little one-shot depicting what might have been if things had happened just a little differently after the final battle…

Sly Cooper: Ten Seconds

A SlyxCarmelita fanfic by LonePhantom

In the early hours of dawn in Russia, the sky, while still dark, was light enough for the infamous Krack-Karov Volcano to be visible. At its summit, the dust settled over what had been the fortress of the criminal mastermind known as Clockwerk. It had been a perfect example of the criminal genius exploiting the latest in technology; aside from the high-tech which was ambient throughout the lair, the main citadel/tower of the fortress had served to house a powerful laser which was aptly named the Death Ray. Clockwerk had planned to test the destructive power of this weapon on various areas throughout Russia, then move on to other parts of the world.

However, his plans had been ruined. The fortress was now little more than a derelict ruin; the high-tech machinery, computers, and automated defenses lay dark and silent, their power sources no longer functioning. Signs of an intense battle were present throughout the fortress-scorch marks on the walls and floors, the scattered remnants of various devices and security robots, and the acrid smell of burnt circuitry all indicated that a fierce struggle had taken place. As for the Death Ray tower itself, the very nerve center of Clockwerk's operations, it itself had been brought down and was being consumed by the lava in the volcano's base even now. With its destruction, the fortress had been rendered all but powerless, and Clockwerk's defeat had taken place not too long afterwards.

This victory over evil had been accomplished by a team effort of four individuals. The one who had been perhaps the most vital in thwarting Clockwerk's evil scheme—along with those of his associates, who were part of the crime group known as the Fiendish Five—could be seen clambering up onto a piece of walkway at the lip of the volcano's edge itself, where the Death Ray tower had been set up.

If someone was there, they would have described him as a lithe raccoon with gray fur, clad in slightly ragged faux fur pants of a similar hue, a shirt, cap, gloves, and sleek knee-length boots which were all rich blue, and the black mask which was the trademark of many thieves.

But this was no ordinary thief…

Standing on a battered section of a walkway which had miraculously survived both the destruction of the colossal Death Ray/control tower and the heated battle which had followed soon after, the international master thief known as Sly Cooper caught his breath as he gazed upon the remains of the deadly super-weapon as they were slowly consumed by the fiery lava. Remembering how large and imposing it had been when he was climbing it, Sly found himself sobered by its present state.

The remains of the Death Ray weren't all that was down there, either—amid the smoldering detritus, a scorched and battered chassis which could only have been a robot of some kind could be seen floating in the magma, seeming to resist the incredible temperatures which licked at its hull to some extent. The robot resembled an owl of some kind, except nature had never created an owl with a reinforced steel body, a veritable arsenal of high-tech weaponry, jet thrusters, or sharp-edged feathers on its wings. However, none of these things were quite as potentially deadly as the villainous intellect which had guided them.

Clockwerk, Sly thought to himself as he gazed upon the battered wreck far below. The leader of the Fiendish Five, and if what he said was true, the enemy of my family for generations. Looking back on it now, Sly knew that it sounded rather unlikely. However, the pictures in the Thievious Racconus depicted Clockwerk's silhouette more than once, and Clockwerk himself admitted that he had been the nemesis of the Cooper family for hundreds of years, keeping himself alive through means which Sly could only speculate upon.

Regardless of Clockwerk's past hatred for the Coopers or whether he really was as old as he claimed to be, Sly had had a personal reason for fighting him—it had been Clockwerk who had masterminded the attack on his home a decade ago, personally killed his father, and stolen the Thievious Racconus. It was this incident which had inspired the young Sly to assemble the three-man team of himself, Bentley, and Murray to defeat the Fiendish Five and reclaim his birthright.

Now, after ten years of training and hard work, Sly had finally accomplished his task: he had retrieved the various pages of the Thievious Racconus and taken down each of the Fiendish Five, one by one—the diabolical machinist Sir Raleigh, the notorious gangster Muggshot, the voodoo sorceress Mz. Ruby, theexplosives expertPanda King, and fianlly,Clockwerk himself. As he stood on the catwalk and reflected on these events, Sly admitted to himself that it hadn't been easy-none of the Fiendish Five had been pushovers. Especially not Clockwerk, Sly thought to himself. If anything, he was the hardest of the whole bunch.

The ring-tailed thief wasn't exaggerating about this—Clockwerk had been living proof that the leader of a group often provides the greatest challenge. The security and hazards surrounding the evil genius' stronghold had been tough enough—robotic falcons, enormous slugs made of sizzling/fiery lava, automated gun turrets, and high-tech alarm systems (let alone the magma and avalanches provided by the Krack-Karov volcano itself)—were nothing to sneeze at.

But that hadn't been all Sly had had to deal with: he had to rescue his beautiful and highly skilled rival Carmelita when Clockwerk imprisoned her as part of an insidious death trap, rely on her for cover fire when trying to retrieve his cane from the robo-falcon who snatched it, clamber up the perilous superstructure of the Death Ray Tower as it collapsed into the lava, and finally take on Clockwerk himself in a fierce aerial battle using Carmelita's jet pack.

It had been a great challenge, even for a budding master thief like Sly Cooper. But in the end, his skills and hard work had paid off—after surviving all that Clockwerk threw at him, Sly had sent the villainous robotic owl plummeting to his fiery doom and had snatched back the last pages of the Thievious Racoonus from his clutches. He had those very pages in hand at the moment, and reached into his backpack for the Thievious Racconus, which he had been restoring along the way. Pulling it out, he flipped to the end of the book and carefully set the pages back into their original place. With that accomplished, he snapped the book shut and allowed himself a smile.

Finally, he thought with no small amount of satisfaction, It's over. Rest easy, Dad.

The sound a roaring engine from somewhere nearby snapped Sly out of his thoughts. Looking in the direction of the noise, the anthro raccoon saw a blue van with flames painted on the sides screeching to a halt at the edge of the lava pool, close to the hill where the catwalk was situated. No sooner had the vehicle stopped than the doors on either side had burst open, and two figures leaped out—a portly hippo in a blue T-shirt and white scarf from the driver's side, and a small turtle with glasses and a cardigan sweater from the passenger side.

Seeing them both, Sly couldn't help but smile in a good-natured way as they waved and grinned at him. Murray and Bentley, he thought to himself was he waved back. Without you guys, I wouldn't have gotten nearly as far as I did.

He didn't feel ashamed to admit this, either—the mark of a good thief, or just a person in general, was to recognize when your friends had been there for you. And Bentley and Murray had been a big help to Sly during his adventure.

Okay, so maybe Murray was a bit clumsy, and maybe he could be a little annoying at times. But he had driven the team van from place to place, sometimes having to negotiate through some dangerous terrain in order to get Sly where he needed to go. His impressive driving skills had also come in handy on race tracks in Mesa City and the Kunlun Mountain, where he had to beat a horde of criminal henchmen in a race in order to win a treasure key for the group. And finally, swallowing his fear as best he could, Murray had gone into some of the dangerous areas to retrieve a treasure key while Sly provided cover fire for him.

Those were some of his best moments, Sly thought to himself as he watched Murray waving with both arms and cheering. Sure, he was scared sometimes, and maybe a little clumsy, but he's got more heart than anyone I've ever known.

And then there was Bentley. True, he might have been a bit of a worry-wart at times, but that was only natural; he was just concerned for Sly's welfare. Besides, his genius with technology and strategic abilities had been a crucial asset throughout the whole adventure—without Bentley's timely advice, clever inventions, and hacking skills, Sly wouldn't have been able to make it past some of the trickier situations he had come across, or crack open the safes which had contained the various pieces of the Thievious Racconus.

Not only that, but Bentley's warnings had allowed kept Sly from jumping headfirst into trouble more than once, and his knowledge about a variety of odds and ends had helped the master thief out when he had been stumped by a peculiarity of some kind. Thank goodness for his expertise, Sly thought as he watched his friend studying some pieces of scrap that had come from Clockwerk's fortress. If it hadn't been for him, I would have failed in my quest a long time ago.

When it had come to the final assault on Clockwerk's fortress, both Bentley and Murray had come through in a fashion which outshined all their previous successes. Murray's driving skills and daredevil attitude behind the wheel had allowed them to make it past the various traps which Clockwerk had set up for any would-be intruders and penetrate the inner sanctum, and Bentley's technical skills had come in handy more than once-not only had he come up with the information and advice Sly needed to succeed, but he had managed to hack Clockwerk's computer systems when the diabolical owl had both him and Carmelita at his "mercy" and was about to finish them both.

And Clockwerk's fortress hadn't been the only place where Bentley and Murray had been helpful. They've both been a big help to me from the very beginning, Sly thought to himself. They weren't obligated to tag along, and they could have pulled out anytime when the going got tough. But even though it hasn't been easy, Bentley and Murray stuck with me through thick and thin. The raccoon smiled. I couldn't ask for a better support team, or a better pair of friends.

At that moment, Sly heard a footfall on the catwalk behind him and saw another shadow beside his own on the floor in front of him. From the shocked expressions on the faces of Bentley and Murray, the audible click-chak of a gun being cocked, and the subtle aroma of perfume that teased his nose, Sly had a feeling he knew who the person behind him was even as he looked over his shoulder.

Sure enough, his guess was right: it was an attractive vixen with amber eyes, long blue hair and a shapely athletic figure. Her attire consisted of a dark blue halter top, snug jeans of a matching hue, and a brown leather bomber jacket. The she-fox twirled a pair of handcuffs in one hand and aimed a futuristic-looking pistol at him with the other. The triumphant smile on her face as she looked at him seemed to say: Gotcha, Cooper.

Despite the seriousness of his situation, Sly couldn't help but chuckle inwardly as he thought to himself, And, of course, who could ever forget the lovely Carmelita Fox?

The hot-blooded Latin police inspector had persistence to match her beauty; she had been hounding Sly long before the quest for the Thievious Racconus had even begun. It seemed like another lifetime ago when Carmelita had joined Interpol and vowed to bring him in for his thievery, thus sparking the rivalry that would exist between them from that point on. She had pursued him all over the globe, refusing to believe that he was only stealing from other criminals and treating him like another desperado.

Despite this, Sly didn't mind her presence at all, and not just because she was so easy on the eyes-though that certainly hadn't hurt much. But it wasn't just about her looks; Carmelita was one of the few people who Sly felt was his equal in terms of overall skill. She wasn't some shrinking daisy, either, but a tough and independent woman who could take the kind of punishment that would have brought down most other men and keep on coming.

Sly liked women like that, and he enjoyed the challenge that Carmelita provided during their encounters.

That was why he had braved the perils of Clockwerk's fortress to rescue her when the leader of the Fiendish Five had trapped her-aside from his feelings for her, it just wouldn't be any fun to steal if she weren't around to provide that challenge for him. That, and he never would have forgiven himself if he had left her to whatever dark fate Clockwerk had in mind for her.

Upon being saved, Carmelita had agreed that she and Sly had a mutual enemy, and had worked together with him to bring both Clockwerk and his evil scheme crashing down in flames. Not only had the Latin detective provided cover for him while he retrieved his cane and directed him to where she had stashed her jetpack, she had helped him in the battle against Clockwerk by using her Shock Pistol to create gaps in the evil genius' protective field, leaving the way clear for Sly to blast him out of the sky. During that time, he and Carmelita were steadfast comrades in arms.

Now that Clockwerk and his plans were gone, though, the temporary alliance between the master thief and the Latin police inspector had come to an end, and it was back to the eternal game of "Cops and Robbers." And from Sly could tell as he looked about, things weren't in his favor: Carmelita had him squarely in her sights, and his back was to the edge of the walkway, below which was the same pool of fiery lava into which Clockwerk himself had plummeted only ten minutes ago. After all the times she had chased him, it looked like Carmelita had finally caught him.

All the same, though, Sly's father hadn't raised him to quit in the face of adversity, nor was he going to lose his cool—even now, when it looked like arrest was eminent. Turning warily to face his rival, Sly cocked his head to the side in mock curiosity, raising an eyebrow. "So, let me guess," he said in a would-be casual tone of voice, "I'm under arrest?"

Presently, Carmelita found herself in a rather interesting situation. She had Sly Cooper, the notorious international thief whom she's been chasing for years, trapped at gunpoint with pretty much nowhere to go. She had vowed to herself that she would never let up until she had put the ring-tailed thief behind bars, and had dreamed of this moment ever since she began chasing him—she couldn't help but smile now that it had become reality. When Sly, not losing his cool-headed attitude even now, asked if she was going to slap the cuffs on him, Carmelita paused for a second. If it had been the past, she would have whole-heartedly agreed and hauled him off to jail right then and there.

But not now.

This change of heart came from the time when she was trapped in that force-field in the fortress' control room, and Sly had showed up. At first, she had assumed that he was in cahoots with Clockwerk and was there to taunt her. But when Sly said he had come to rescue her—and Clockwerk sealed them both in and tried to kill them with a potent dose of some kind of gas—she re-evaluated her opinion of him. Even after his hacker friend had shut off the gas, Sly could have just left her there.

But he didn't. Despite all the times she had chased him, despite her voiced belief that he was little more than a two-bit criminal without honor, and despite the possibility that she'd place him under arrest the minute she was loose, he had set her free.

After this selfless act on her behalf, Carmelita started to see him through new eyes, and decided that maybe he had been telling the truth about only going after other criminals—and perhaps even about his interest in her.

All the same, Sly was still a thief, and she wasn't going to just let him walk away now that they no longer had a mutual foe. Still, she was grateful for what Sly had done for her-and after working together with him to stop Clockwerk, Carmelita was starting to wonder if maybe—just maybe—he wasn't such a bad guy after all.

For that, she could cut him a small break.

With that in mind, Carmelita chuckled softly and shook her head as she heard his query. "Maybe, maybe not," she replied. "Remember what I said you earlier, Cooper? After we took care of Clockwerk, I'd give you a ten-second head start before I came after you." Slipping the handcuffs back into her pocket, she indicated her watch with a nod. "I'm keeping that promise, ringtail-you've got ten seconds to get out of here before I start shooting. If I were you, I'd make them count."

For a moment, the expression on Sly's face seemed to indicate surprise. However, it was so brief that Carmelita wondered if perhaps she had imagined it-a moment later, the raccoon flashed a cocky grin and adopted the confident attitude which she had come to recognize as his trademark as he replied, "All right, then; you're on!"

Carmelita chuckled inwardly at his behavior. Now that's the Sly Cooper I know, she thought to herself with a slight smile.

The fateful countdown began. Ten…nine…eight…

Planting her feet firmly on the catwalk, Carmelita held her Shock Pistol in both hands and aimed it at Sly, closing one eye as she fixed a bead on his chest. Every nerve in her body was tensed for action as soon as the ten seconds ended, her face a mask of concentration and alertness as she focused on Sly, preparing to try an anticipate whatever he would do.

For his part, the master thief seemed to take the opposite route in terms of action—instead of tensing for a leap or dodge, much less running past Carmelita, he folded his arms loosely over his chest and leaned against the misshapen hook of his cane's head, holding the Thievious Racconus in one hand as he gave her an enigmatic smile. The two were five feet apart, and tension was thick in the air.

Seven…six…five…

As Carmelita continued to aim at Sly, a nagging feeling of doubt and confusion began to grow in her mind, despite her attempts to suppress it. What the heck is he doing? she wondered to herself. He's not even bothering to change positions, much less run away! Does he really think I won't shoot, that I won't put him under arrest the minute his ten seconds are up?

However, as she met his gaze, seeing the cool and unruffled look in his eyes, she began to question whether she really could pull the trigger-if she could shoot this person who had proven himself to possess strong moral integrity despite being a thief, and who had expressed such a deep and honest concern for her safety, so soon after working together with him. Shaking her head mentally, she tried to push her feelings aside.

He'd better start moving soon if he knows what's good for him! she thought furiously. However, she couldn't help but feel a little unsettled by Sly's apparent lack of action…

Four…three…two…

Finally, Sly started to move, tucking the Thievious Racconus back into his backpack and walking towards Carmelita. However, he stopped about a foot away from her, fixing her with that same mysterious look that he had been wearing since the countdown began. With this new proximity, a strange feeling which was hard to identify began to grow in Carmelita's heart, making her feel strangely vulnerable. For some reason, her mind kept going back to all the times he had flirted with her, the realization that he may very well have meant every word of it passing unbidden through her mind.

Finally, the Latin detective couldn't take it any more. "Why aren't you running, Cooper?" she asked in a soft voice which she tried to make sound demanding, only to have it come out sounding concerned.

In response, Sly merely shrugged. "It's like I told you earlier, Ms. Fox," he replied as he closed the remaining distance between them, his deep brown eyes locking with hers as they stood only inches apart. "We may be on opposite sides of the law, and you might be intent on hauling me off to jail…" His voice dropped to a heartfelt whisper. "But I don't see you as an enemy."

One…

Then, before Carmelita could reply or consider firing her Shock Pistol, Sly did something completely unexpected—he pulled her to him in a gentle embrace, and time seemed to slow as his lips found hers in a tender kiss. For a moment, Carmelita uttered a muffled cry of surprise, completely at a loss for words. At the same time, she didn't really mind what was going on—had it been anyone else just now, she would have immediately delivered a knee-thrust to their groin and hit them over the head as they keeled over from the pain.

But here, with Sly, it wasn't a problem at all. In fact, Carmelita realized with surprise, she felt an emotion which was suspiciously close to enjoyment as she lip-locked with her rival, and felt the urge to return the kiss.

After a moment which seemed to last forever (but was really just a second or two), Sly parted and leaned back a bit in the hug, his usual demeanor returning as he flashed a charming smile at the surprised detective. "Besides," he said in a cheerful tone of voice, "there wouldn't be much of a challenge if I took the head start. Catch me if you can!" With those words, the master thief released his hug and slipped past her with fluid grace, his feet padding gently on the rock as he darted away.

Carmelita didn't give chase right away, still recovering from what had just transpired. She felt a swarm of butterflies cavorting about in her stomach, and knew from the heat in her cheeks that she was blushing a deep scarlet. For a moment, the vixen just stood there, her thoughts jumbled together in a heap as she felt a number of feelings—surprise, shyness, and even pleasure—race through her mind. Putting one hand to her chest, she became aware of her heart pounding rapidly against her ribcage, as though trying to get out.

In the next instant, time seemed to speed up again, and reality hit Carmelita like a brick to the face. Recovering quickly, the detective spun to face Sly's retreating figure, already aiming her Shock Pistol at him. Several flashes erupted from the muzzle, and a series of energy rounds which crackled with high-voltage electricity sped towards the raccoon.

However, he had put enough distance between him and Carmelita to predict the relative trajectory of the "lightning bullets." That in itself was an impressive feat, but he followed up on this by dodging her shots with a series of rolls and back-flips that would have made any acrobat jealous, causing the shock blasts to fly past him to harmlessly impact against the nearby rocks.

Continuing to evade her gunfire, Sly made it to the team van, where his colleagues had already jumped back in and thrown open the back doors for him. Leaping inside, he paused just long enough to give Carmelita a wink and a charming smile before slamming the doors shut. As if on cue, the engine roared to life, and the van sped away in a cloud of dust.

As she watched the van race off, Carmelita briefly considered trying to shoot out the tires or looking for her jet pack so she could pursue them from the air. In the next moment, however, she shook her head as she dismissed both ideas. She knew from experience that Sly's van was insulated against electricity—the Shock Pistol's ammunition would still cause damage, but not enough to stop the van before it was out of range. Besides, she thought to herself, by the time I retrieve my jet pack, they'll be long gone anyway.

With a sigh of frustration, the vixen holstered her gun and watched as the van recede into the distance. Looks like you've gotten away from me again, Sly Cooper, she thought to herself with irritation. Then she paused and touched her lips gently, remembering the feelings which had gone through her mind when they kissed. Closing her eyes, she chuckled softly, despite herself.

Until next time, anyway, she added mentally.

Leaning back in the leather seat on the passenger side of the van, Sly ignored the bumps and shakes/jostles from the rocky terrain they were passing over—a rather easy task, given the shock absorbers Murray and Bentley had installed for travel over rugged areas, which was a fairly common occurrence in this line of work—and looked out the window, where he could see the imposing shape of the Krack-Karov Volcano growing smaller in the rearview mirror. He wondered if Carmelita was still there, or if she had managed to locate her jetpack and was flying away even now.

After a moment's deliberation, he shrugged mentally. Either way, he thought to himself, It won't be long before we see each other again—though we'll still be playing "Cops and Robbers." And that's just fine with me—the challenge that Carmelita provides, and Carmelita herself, are something that I wouldn't give up for the world. Thinking back to the moment when he kissed her, the raccoon smiled as he recalled the surprised—and perhaps even pleased—reaction from her. If nothing else, I think she and I have reached an understanding of sorts.

At that moment, Murray gave him a hearty clap on the back while keeping one hand on the steering wheel. "Way to go, Sly!" the portly hippo declared. "It looks like all our years of training and hard work finally paid off!"

Leaning between the driver and passenger seats, Bentley nodded at his colleague's words. "I'll have to admit that I was a little nervous about this whole adventure at first; I wasn't sure whether we were up to it or not. Looks like we were, though." A pause, then he smiled sheepishly at Sly. "Don't get me wrong, I didn't think you hadn't gotten any results from all your training—I was just a little worried that maybe we'd bitten off a little more than we could chew this time. You know me; I tend to worry a lot."

Sly nodded. "Yeah, I've gotten used to it over the years." He paused, then added. "But all the same, you and Murray have always been a big help to me, from the day we first met at the orphanage. Without your help, I doubt I would have gotten nearly as far as I did." He looked over to Murray. "Murray, your daredevil attitude behind the wheel's been a big help whenever we've had to get someplace in a hurry, and you've even helped me out in the field more than once." He turned back to Bentley. "And you, Bentley—I know we've had our differences here and there, but your technical skills and advice have always come through when I needed it the most."

Looking at them both, Sly smiled gratefully. "Thanks for everything, guys…I really appreciate it."

Murray scratched the back of his head, grinning sheepishly at Sly's comment. "Aw shucks, Sly, it's nothin'—what are friends for?"

Bentley nodded, sharing the sentiment of his larger friend. "Well, it's nice to know our hard work didn't go unnoticed—thank you for valuing us so much." After a moment's pause, he arched a curious eyebrow at Sly. "So, we've finally put the Thievious Racconus back together—any idea what the whole thing says?" he asked.

The raccoon shrugged. "I don't know, I haven't really had the time to read it yet." He paused as an idea came to him, then looked at his two friends. "Tell you what—once we get back to the hideout, we can read it together. How's that sound?"

Bentley and Murray looked at each other, back to him, then nodded in consent.

Sly grinned. "All right, then, Murray—set a course for home!"

With the roar of an engine and a trio of cheers, the team van roared off into the distance, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake as it was swallowed by the night.

The adventure was over…for now.

The End.

Author's Note: Yes, I know how Sly's feelings for Carmelita became stronger in the following games-this was just something I came up with after beating the first game, and I thought Sly could have done better at the time. Now, having played the rest of the trilogy, I have to say that it all worked out for the best, in the end.

Anyway, this is the first of my fanfics (both on and as my own little contribution to the Sly Cooper fandom on the site) and I'd love any comments and criticism that others have to offer on my work. Thanks in advance.