Disclaimer: "Wreck-It Ralph" and all related characters, imagery, future console adaptations of Sugar Rush Speedway which are hopefully in development right now, etc. are property of Disney. All third-party characters are property of their respective copyright holders.

"The Night After"

Chapter One: When I Can See You Again

"Quittin' time!"

Even 30 years after they had first been plugged in at Litwak's Arcade, those two simple words were enough to bring smiles to the faces of each and every occupant of Niceland, currently milling around in front of their centerpiece apartment building. On this night, however, they held special significance, as their game had come perilously close to being unplugged mere hours earlier; and doubly so for Wreck-It Ralph, who had also seen his life flash before his eyes in a pool of molten Diet Cola minutes before that.

"Nice job out there today, Ralph," continued Fix-It Felix, Jr., the one person in his game Ralph considered a friend (although he hoped to increase that number going forward).

"Same to you, Felix – you were really fixing up a storm out there!" responded Ralph.

"Well, I had some good players today."

"Nice job?" interjected Gene, suddenly adding himself to the conversation. "Did you see him up there? We're trying to throw him off the building, and he's smiling and waving at the screen!"

"I'm right here, Gene," deadpanned Ralph.

"Well, what do you have to say for yourself? You're gonna get us unplugged!" Gene shot an intense glare at the bigger man. "Again!"

Ralph locked his gaze on his smaller, but before he could respond, Felix stepped between the two men in an attempt to diffuse the situation. "We won't get unplugged. And I can probably guess who Ralph was waving at," he said, turning towards Ralph, "and I bet she'd love it if you paid her a visit."

"Don't we need to get together and talk about what happened last night?" asked Ralph, gesturing at the Nicelanders as he did.

"Aw, I can handle that. I'm just gonna take it easy tonight anyways. Besides, my lady would be very disappointed if I wasn't here to see her."

"Your...lady?" asked Gene.

"Yeah," responded Felix, "while we were out last night, I met the most dynamite gal..." Felix trailed off into his thoughts, his face taking the complexion that he had described as 'the honeyglow'. Knowing that his brother would have some more explaining to do, Ralph decided this was his cue to head for more colorful pastures and excused himself.

The big man climbed into the train for the short, uneventful ride, made even more so since Ralph had the entire train to himself. Shortly thereafter, the bright lights of Game Central Station flickered into view, and Ralph got out. Characters of every stripe could be seen filing into the station from every door, and following the prior night's big hullabaloo, Ralph noted a crowd starting to gather around the entrance to Sugar Rush.

However, he had more pressing matters to attend to as Surge Protector materialized directly in front of him. "Name?"

"Really?" Ralph stopped, and decided he wasn't in the mood to argue tonight. "Sorry. Wreck-It Ralph, from the game Fix-It Felix Jr."

"Anything to declare?"

"Nope, no Cybugs with me tonight," responded Ralph with a smile.

"That's nothing to laugh about, Ralph," scolded Surge, "you could have put the entire arcade out of business!"

"Just between you and me: Hero's Duty," said Ralph, jabbing a finger towards the new game's portal to his left, "during gameplay hours...that scared me." It was Surge Protector's turn to chuckle now; big, bad Wreck-It Ralph, the guy who can punch through entire buildings in a single shot, scared? But suddenly, one of the knights from Joust caught Surge's eye.

"Gotta go, proceed," he finished, dematerializing just as suddenly as he had appeared.

Ralph continued on into Game Central Station, noting that he was receiving more varied reactions from the arcade populace. There were still people that just considered him to be a Bad Guy; those were the ones that could safely be ignored. Some were specifically angry at him because of his game-jumping exploits that had in fact threatened the entire arcade; Ralph hoped that in time, they would be able to give him a chance. Finally, others had heard how Ralph was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save Sugar Rush from destruction. Those were the ones who Ralph would try to become friends with at first.

But right now, there was only one friend on Ralph's mind, and the mere thought of that friend put a big smile on Ralph's face as he crossed the station towards Sugar Rush.

Ralph felt the sweetly-scented air as he looked up at a newly-installed sign in the shape of a starting gate. Written across two lines, it said Welcome to Sugar Rush – The Sweetest Place In The Arcade! Noting that it had not been there in the morning, he stopped and turning towards the tapping of a microphone.

"Great job out there everybody!" announced a voice, which he immediately recognized as that of Vanellope Von Schweetz. "Now, before we get started, I would just like to personally assure you that there will not be any evil monsters attacking us during the race tonight. Hit it, Sour Bill!"

Craning his neck towards the starting line, Ralph could see Vanellope run down the stairs and hop into her kart – their kart, thought Ralph, grinning as he thought back to the previous night.

"Let the Random Roster Race commence," announced Sour Bill, causing the crowd to roar in approval. A few seconds later, they were drowned out by upbeat music as fifteen karts sped off into the distance. Keeping his eyes on the action, Ralph made his way down to the long row of bleachers by the start/finish line and wedged himself into a gap between two sections. Hearing a gasp to his left, Ralph turned his head.

"Oh no, it's that big wrecking guy! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" yelled a fan over the din of the crowd.

"Settle down, I'm not here to wreck anything, I just came to cheer on my friend," responded Ralph calmly. Realizing what he had just said, the big guy couldn't help but crack a smile.

"Look, here they come!" shouted another excited fan. The crowd turned to the right as one, noticing the first few karts turning onto the home stretch. Ralph specifically noticed Vanellope, who appeared to be in second place behind a girl clad in pink, and ahead of a boy with a pumpkin on his head and a girl wearing a pink winter hat. They came to the final set of item boxes.

Taffyta Muttonfudge smirked as she received her item selection. "Time to finish this," she muttered. Glancing in her rearview mirror, she fired a Sweet Seeker missile behind her

"Come on, come on, come on," urged Vanellope Von Schweetz, awaiting her item selection, and focusing just in case. Seeing Taffyta's incoming projectile, she pounded the item button, causing her to flicker forward just before the weapon hit her – and past her rival into the lead! Vanellope's fan section roared in approval as she had nothing but open track in front of her.

"Bring it home, kid!" urged Ralph

Unfortunately for Vanellope, her joy was short-lived as she felt a second Sweet Seeker slam into the back of her kart (and saw a third drift harmlessly by).

"Stay sweet!" shouted Taffyta as she reclaimed the lead. Vanellope could only blow a raspberry in her direction and shift her kart into gear, finishing in 3rd place behind Nougetsia Brumblestain as well

Ralph waited patiently as Vanellope accepted her bronze trophy, waving to the crowd in the process, and climbed up into her section of fans to exchange thanks and congratulations (and plenty of fist bumps, he noted) with the NPCs. Finally, she turned and saw one more gigantic fist waiting, one that could only belong to one person.

"Stinkbrain!" shouted Vanellope, running over to fistbump the big man before climbing onto his shoulders.

"So how was your first day on the roster, Your Highness?"

"It was fi-" began Vanellope, suddenly realizing what he had said. "Hey, I'm a President now!"

"I happen to know," teased Ralph, "that Sugar Rush didn't have a constitutional convention while the arcade was open. Besides, Presidents don't live in castle," he said, jabbing a finger towards the castle perched atop Royal Hill.

"That's clearly an executive mansion, Sergeant Smellybreath. Anyways," said Vanellope, quickly changing the subject, "didja see me out there? Didja? I almost won!"

"Well, you still qualified for the roster, didn't you?"

"Gah-doy," she responded. "But I wanted to win!"

"Then you should have done that glitchy thing again," advised Ralph.

"But I couldn't." Sensing that Ralph could use an explanation, she continued. "Sourpuss told me earlier that teleporting was supposed to be my kart's special ability all along, but when..." Vanellope paused, not wanting to mention his accursed name. "But when my code got messed up, I got the ability to do it myself."

"Cool!" said Ralph.

"I know, right? Apparently, now that I can control it, I'd be 'overpowered' and 'broken' if I could teleport whenever I wanted," she continued, making air quotes as she did, "so he went and reprogrammed my kart to only let me do that as my special ability. Outside of the races, though-" Vanellope flickered out of existence and reappeared behind Ralph. "I can do it whenever I want!" Ralph spun around just in time to see his little friend flicker away once again. "See?"

"Yep," said Ralph, "I think I got it."

"So, Ralph, wanna see my cast-" Noticing Ralph's smirk, Vanellope quickly changed the word. "-executive mansion that isn't a castle?" The President grinned as if nothing was wrong.

"Actually," he responded, "we're going to have to end up back here anyways, so why don't I show you around Game Central Station first?"

"Alright!" Vanellope took off running towards the portal, surprising the big man. "Come on, Admiral Underpants, let's go!"

End of Chapter