Ralph turned, ushering Felix and Jeremy behind him as all the old animatronics, BB, and Golden Freddy stood on the other side of the room. Ralph held Vanellope close to him.
"You stay away! You're not going to hurt her anymore, you hear me?! You want her, you have to get through me!" Ralph screamed.
Foxy held out a hand, his other arm around BB. The old animatronics backed away, a slumped Golden Freddy staring at them. Vanellope stirred in Ralph's arms then, opening her eyes to reveal she was back to herself, her hazel rings staring up at her friend.
"Ralph...?" Vanellope said softly, before glancing at Golden Freddy. "Ralph... he saw something..." She whispered.
"I don't care what these freaks saw, I just-"
The voice came in a whisper, soft like a child's. Everyone silenced and looked to the golden-hued bear, his head slumped forward as he struggled to speak clearly.
"I... remember..." Golden Freddy began slowly, words not coming easy to him. "A boy... crying ..."
"Because Mike hurt a kid?" Ralph pressed him. "He hurt a little boy and that's why he's crying?"
The lopped-over head shook itself 'no'. "No... Mike is little boy... was hurt long ago... at my oldest home."
Felix held his head. "Ugh, this is all so confusing! I can't keep this straight!"
"Man... injured him." Golden Freddy continued. "Man... wore badge." He pointed a large finger towards Jeremy, making the young guard back up a bit.
"Hey, I didn't hurt Mike!" Jeremy exclaimed.
"NO!" The bear persisted, getting frustrated at his slow memory and his limited way of conversation. "Not you... another guard... older."
Everyone exchanged glances at that. "Another guard?" Jeremy asked, completely confused. "But it's just me and Mike..."
"No," Vanellope said, shaking her head, an idea coming to her. "There's another guard in your game. We've been talking to him the whole time."
Felix shook his head, his expression horrified. "No... it can't be the... not the one in Tammy's code!"
Golden Freddy gave a slow nod. The grey avatar child beside him stared at them, and Vanellope walked up to him before looking back at Ralph. "We have to help them, Ralph. All of them."
Freddy had harbored a hate for Jeremy, being the one that had been stopped trying to stop Mike from murdering the children. When he realized that Jeremy was not acting on his own accord, he took a step forward. "Freddy... sorry."
Jeremy cleared his throat. "It's fine... I should have tried to stop Mike when I had the chance... but he threatened to frame me."
They all jumped when there was a pounding on the door. "You can't hide in there forever!" Calhoun shouted in dual voices. "You know Mike is guilty. Bring him to me and no one will get hurt."
Mike's eyes suddenly popped open once more, floating out of Ralph's arms as he heard the Toy animatronics outside. Before anyone could speak, the door flew open, and he tried to fly past them as Mangle continued to rip the door off its hinges. Vanellope felt the grey child's hand leave her, fusing with Golden Freddy but remaining his own mind. The old animatronics tried to stop the new animatronics, not quite attacking them. However, the Toy animatronics saw this as a betrayal, and the they began to attack each other. Foxy pounced at Mangle, trying to keep her at bay. He looked back at Vanellope.
"Go!" He shouted to her.
Vanellope glanced over at Ralph and Felix. Ralph sucker punched Toy Bonnie, sending her flying several feet backwards. "We'll be okay kid, just get out of here!"
Vanellope nodded, turning to take BB's robotic hand to glitch him out of the room.
Mike grunted, phasing in and out of the Puppet's consciousness as he crash landed onto the floor in the party corner. The Puppet revealed all memories to him, and Mike screamed as it flooded into his head. "I didn't mean it!" Mike cried, curling up in a fetal position. "It was... it was their fault…"
"No." The Puppet whispered in his head. "It was-"
Suddenly, Vanellope appeared, leaving BB behind the prize counter. "Hide here, Foxy and I will come back for you!" She then noticed Mike in the corner, gasping lightly. "Mike!"
Mike slowly looked up, unable to see clearly. His expression darkened, and he internally struggled with the Puppet as his mental instability returned. He growled, screaming as his code rejected the Puppet, sending it flying out of him. The memory of children always being present whenever trauma occurred in his life fueled his primal instinct, gritting his teeth as he went over to an emergency axe in the wall. He punched the glass with his fist, taking it out and turning to look upon Vanellope. "You're the one... you're the little brat who called on me that night..." Mike muttered, his vision unclear as he dragged the axe across the floor in his hand. "I killed you once... I chopped you into little... tiny pieces..." He chuckled, swelling into chaotic laughter. "I can just do it again, can't I? It's your fault I'm messed up, you know that?"
Vanellope looked upon him in horror, BB peeking out and trembling in fear. "Mike, it's me! It's Vanellope, we're friends!"
"I had no friends!" Mike cried. "They left me all alone, they let me be hurt! A- And then, they still mocked me! They said that I was stupid! That I didn't do my job right! But I got them..." He nodded shakily. "And you aren't going to haunt me anymore..." He had Vanellope backed up to a wall, raising his axe high in the air. Vanellope was too scared to concentrate on glitching, and she began to cry fearfully, looking up at Mike with wide eyes.
"Mike, please remember me..." Vanellope whimpered, screaming when he was about to bring the axe down upon her. He felt it slice through something, smiling wickedly. He heard something then, furrowing a brow to look over at a mirror. He saw a small, crying boy, and Mike took a step closer. The Puppet stood behind the boy, and he turned to see the Puppet was standing behind him as well. "Is that... me?" The Puppet nodded in response, and the truth played out in the mirror. He saw himself as a boy, standing outside Fredbear's Diner. He saw a car pull up, he saw the man glare at him angrily, felt the tightness of his hands around him... he remembered the true reason why he had done what he did then, falling to his knees.
"Vanellope, where are you?" Ralph shouted from down the hall.
Mike turned, looking down at the axe. He saw the shadow of something round in the darkness, and Vanellope's feet, closer to the wall, poking out from the shadows. Realizing what had happened, the axe fell from his hands as he trembled. The last shred of sanity was gone, believing he had killed the little girl who he called best friend. His screams of agony echoed throughout the building, sending chills down the spines of those who heard him.
Vanellope was still too scared to move, keeping her hands pressed against her mouth to try and silence her breathing. Her eyes were huge as she watched BB's decapitated head turn towards her and begin to roll back to its body so it could reattach itself. Mike didn't notice any of this, his mind numb with guilt. He stumbled out of the room completely, throwing himself into a corner as he sobbed.
"I'm sorry..." He muttered, his teeth rattling as he shivered all over. His memories became more whole then and he dug his nails into his wrists painfully. "Phone Guy..." He growled hatefully. "It was you... you did this to me..."
Foxy ran into the room then, screeching as he whipped his head towards Mike. He was about to lunge for him, when a small voice was heard, BB's. Foxy turned towards the animatronic child, before narrowing his eyes. He growled, looking again towards Mike.
Calhoun floated forward, narrowing her eyes as well. "Do you see what he has done, Ralph? He has turned around, and hurt the one you care about. He made Foxy do the same thing years ago, I saw it myself. He has to die, Ralph, so kill him. Kill him!" Phone Guy's voice deepened in his part of the dual voices.
In the background, the other animatronics were still fighting each other, the Puppet having joined in to try to get a handle on Mangle. The older animatronics had more strength, but the new animatronics were quicker, making them all formidable foes to each other. BB picked up his head, putting it back on before nudging Vanellope. "Hello." He said to her, and she looked up at him. She glanced over to see Mike in the corner, Calhoun screaming at Ralph and Foxy to kill him. Vanellope cried out, glitching over to stand in front of Mike, throwing her arms out.
"Stop!" She screamed.
At this, Mike slowly sat up, his eyes widening. "V- Vanellope...?"
The child turned, pulling him into a tight hug. "Mike, I was so scared..."
"I'm sorry... I'm so sorry, I... I'm a monster... I... I thought I did the same thing to you that I did to-"
"No, Mike. He's the REAL monster." Vanellope narrowed her eyes, pointing at Calhoun. She grit her teeth in response. "You're no better than King Candy!" Vanellope shouted angrily. "You're the one I saw in my nightmares, Mike's nightmares! Mike and I both thought we were the wrong ones... that we were just a glitch!" She took a plushie, throwing it at Calhoun. "You leave me and my friends alone... you leave Mike alone! I got King Candy back and Mike'll get you!"
Calhoun smirked darkly. "You know, I tried to save you... but if you're going to be a bad little girl..." She extended her arm where it formed into a firearm, pointing it at Vanellope and Mike. "You can die with Mike and his burden on us!"
Felix widened his eyes. "Tammy, please stop, you have to fight this! Ralph, you have to stop her!"
"I don't know HOW to stop her!" Ralph panicked. "I'm not an exorcist, and I for sure don't know how to keep myself from hurting Calhoun!"
Felix set his jaw though he had a pained look in his eye. "Ralph, Tammy would never forgive herself if she did something to hurt Vanellope, even if someone else was controlling her body! Please, I need your help!"
Calhoun grit her teeth as she fired, and Vanellope screamed, glitching herself and Mike out of harm's way. Calhoun's eyes darted around the room, illuminating the walls from gunfire as she continued to miss. "Give it up, Mike!"
Freddy decided that he'd had enough, looking to Foxy and they exchanged metallic words, Foxy running over to deal with Toy Freddy. Freddy then took to chase, charging straight for Calhoun's back and spinning her around, narrowing his eyes. "You..." He whispered deeply. He then grabbed onto the telephone wires around her arms and began to tug. Calhoun's eyes widened as she began to scream, and the more Freddy pulled the telephone wires from her, the more she began to glitch, warping between herself and someone more sinister. Finally, Freddy tugged out the individual, and they stared in shock as the sinister purple man rarely seen in the "save them" mini game was there before them. Calhoun groaned, and Felix caught her as she passed out.
"Tammy, Tammy speak to me!" Felix cried.
"... Who are you...?" Ralph asked.
The purple man stood to his feet. "My name is phone guy... and I am not going to stop until justice is served, and Mike is dead!"
"No!" Mike shouted, getting to his feet. Despite Vanellope trying to hold him back, he continued forward, gritting his teeth. He was ready to confront the man who ruined his life. "You are the one who should die! I remember everything now!" His voice cracked. "You... you nearly killed me... you misguided me and made me do something that made me feel so guilty, you screwed up my head! I actually thought that it was the children's fault, that back when I was a kid, they did nothing to help me, that when I messed with Foxy, that they made me do it... but it was you! It was always you! A- And then, I was so screwed up, I did something so vile... I didn't just murder them, I... I destroyed them!" The entire room had fallen silent as Mike spoke, angry tears running down his face as he stood up straighter. "My entire life, you controlled me. You always hid your blame behind me and made me the face of it. You will NOT control me anymore... I am NOT your puppet anymore!" He screamed.
As even the Toy animatronics had stopped fighting, listening to what happened, they hissed and growled lowly, not believing it. They were about to resume attacking, when Freddy ran in front of them, holding his hands out. The Toy animatronics looked behind them, parting as Chica and Bonnie made way, each carrying Golden Freddy by one arm. They gasped when they noticed the small grey child keeping close to Golden Freddy, and he was placed in the middle of the floor where he slumped as usual. Golden Freddy then began to speak in a deep voice that only the animatronics could understand, and the new animatronics began to look around in shock and confusion, looking to phone guy and growling.
"You're busted, phone guy." Vanellope said, crossing her arms and standing next to Mike.
Phone Guy glanced around, seeing all the other characters glaring at him. He had nowhere to run now. "Fine. I'll spell it out for you. Many years ago, I was an employee at a little place called Fredbear's Family Diner. The place was a dump, and there was one knock off animatronic." Golden Freddy growled lightly at that. "One day, I was trying to get home when the manager told me there was a child standing outside, alone, and that I couldn't leave. Of course I was in my car and it was running, because the old bastard couldn't deal with it himself. So I pull up to the kid, telling him to scram. He asked me to let him in, and I told him to go home. I got out of my car and went to move him, he started crying harder. I knew if anyone saw me they'd think I was abusing the kid. I told him to stop crying or something bad would happen... but he just wouldn't. It was then that I lost it, strangling him. When I stopped, I thought he was dead. I quickly sped off, no adults had seen me. I went to the nearest payphone and called the police, said I witnessed my manager, the owner of the dump, do it. To my delight, he was cuffed, taken away... served him right."
Felix frowned angrily. "You lied… why, you're no better than Turbo!"
Phone Guy continued. "The place was closed, I was called a local hero... but then I found out why. The little twerp had lived. I decided to just live as the hero, and later on I was asked to be the new manager at the Freddy Fazbear restaurant that took over the diner, being I was a superb citizen. Anyway, years passed, and HR assigned me a new day employee. When he came in, I immediately recognized him. It was that kid I strangled. I couldn't believe it... he didn't remember me thankfully, but he was pretty timid. Fidgety. I had to get rid of him, the truth couldn't be known... but it had to look like it was all on him. One day, the perfect opportunity came when he was having trouble dealing with some kids in Pirate's Cove. He was so easy to manipulate, so I was passive-aggressive. I told him that in the old days, when kids misbehaved, I would increase Foxy's volume so it would scare them straight. Of course, Mike tried to follow in my footsteps, even though he had no clue what he was doing. He screwed Foxy up pretty bad... that kid he bit was messed up, blood everywhere... Mike was horrified, and worsened his mental instability. He blamed me, and I told him that I never actually told him to do it, but I would keep it a secret so he'd stay out of trouble."
Foxy was beyond livid at this, his eyes widening as his teeth ground together. "You…" He growled.
"We moved to the new location, this location here, a short while later. Mike's guilt didn't subside. He blamed the standby children in his life for his agony and suffering, and he eventually became so driven over the edge, that he murdered the five children he lured in here. I didn't even have to do anything anymore, no one would ever know about what I did, they would only remember the vile things that Mike had done, and I got off Scott free!" Phone Guy laughed.
The Toy versions, though still wary of Mike, simultaneously growled at this news. They never would've died if it hadn't been for Phone Guy's mind games. The Puppet lurked in the background, inner rage coiling tight inside of him. Foxy looked as mournful as he could, BB reaching out to pat his paw as if to say that it was going to be all right, while the other older animatronics gathered around him in support.
Ralph was outraged by this as well, finally understanding everything. "You... you manipulated Mike the same way King Candy manipulated ME into hurting Vanellope!"
"Then you're BOTH soft-headed fools!" Phone Guy cackled. "Until now, everyone thought I was just the helpful old guard that provided useful information to keep the player alive. And I would've kept up the guise if it hadn't been for all of you barging in here!"
Felix gasped lightly as Calhoun began to awaken, blinking her eyes open. "Tammy!" He beamed.
"Ungh... Felix? Where... what happened...?" Calhoun looked around, slowly sitting up.
"Oh... and one more thing." Phone Guy glanced over at Jeremy. "When Mike was busy making those kids into mincemeat... he made sure that Jeremy would let him get the job done. He forced him to cooperate, but Jeremy seemed to have a bit of trouble keeping Freddy from trying to stop crazed killer... so I, being the helpful one as always, stepped in to lend Jeremy a hand. I took over him, and managed to get Freddy out of the way so Mike could finish off those kids and ruin him forever. You see, when people listen to me, they survive. When they don't listen, they're the ones on the sticking end!"
Jeremy was already ticked off with all this, but now even more so after hearing this. "You go to hell!"
"Looks like we're already in it," Phone Guy laughed as he gestured out with his hands, implying that the entire game itself was hell. "I'd say to kill you and Mike, but being that we're inside our own game, that'd be impossible right now. So... how about we just kill off the meddling outsiders?"
Mike grit his teeth, and despite Vanellope trying to hold him back, he lunged at Phone Guy, knocking him to the ground. The two wrestled as the animatronics watched, not sure what to do now. The new animatronics looked upon the old, before all looking to Golden Freddy.
"We must... end this... here." Golden Freddy said to them.
"Couldn't have said it better, bud! You're going right to the Fungeon!" Vanellope shouted.
Ralph gasped when Mike was shoved off, Phone Guy scrambling to grab the axe when he was stopped by someone; the Puppet. It stared at him eerily, silently, watching as Ralph grabbed him by his legs. "You heard the president... Fungeon for you."
Phone Guy growled with frustration. Felix helped Calhoun to her feet, and she dusted herself off. "For his sake, he better never be in a room alone with me or it will be the last thing he ever does." Calhoun said.
Jeremy turned, looking at the clock. "It's 5 am... we still have some time until everything opens up."
Ralph kept a tight grip on Phone Guy, and after all the fright they had endured, he, along with the rest of the core four, never imagined that they would be standing in a room with all these animatronics without fear of losing their lives.
The Puppet came over to Mike, its hollow eyes seemingly looking into his. Before, Mike would've been terrified of it but right now, he felt a sense of peace upon confronting it. It was akin to finding a missing piece of your soul.
"Uh, hi," Mike said almost shyly. "Guess we're kinda the same guy huh?"
The Puppet merely nodded once.
"Well... maybe you can find some peace now hopefully... maybe the others will stop hating you."
Felix looked around at the animatronics. "Maybe all of us can."
Foxy slowly approached Mike as well, staring at him for a moment, stoic. BB was beside him, emitting a small 'hi.' Foxy looked down at him before looking at Mike. He extended a hand, speaking lowly. "Forgiven..."
Mike hesitantly took Foxy's hand, cracking a small smile as he shook it before clearing his throat. "I... I'm sorry. For... both of you."
Foxy gave a nod, before he looked down as Vanellope joined them. The other animatronics, old and new, looked at each other, offered their own apologies in low whispers and clicks.
Calhoun smiled lightly at the scene, a bit shocked. "Well, never expected this to happen... I expected a huge pile of parts right in that corner there."
Phone Guy grit his teeth. No, this was not supposed to happen. As Vanellope turned to give Ralph a thumbs up, and Ralph gave her one thumb up back, he used this moment to his advantage. With Ralph's guard down, he squeezed his arm out, hitting Ralph's face, and was then able to break free. Calmness soon turned to panic again. He dove straight for Mike, when Vanellope tried to stop him.
"You leave him alone, you snot nosed-!"
Everyone looked in horror as Phone Guy moved fast as lightening, grabbing the child and flinging her across the room. She was knocked out instantly as Phone Guy grabbed Mike, snatching Vanellope along the way and zipping out of the restaurant.
"VANELLOPE!" Raplh cried.
Calhoun hopped to her feet. "We have to go after them!" Gun in hand, she began on foot, but blinked when something zipped past her.
Foxy growled, looking back at Golden Freddy. He scooped BB up, placing him in Golden Freddy's lap before looking to Ralph, the two speedily heading out of the eatery and towards the tunnel to GCS.
"Jimminy, I hadn't even realized it turned to 6!" Felix cried.
"None of us did, but if we don't hurry Mike and princess cavity are not going to make it to 7 am!" Calhoun shouted back as they ran.
In GCS, Phone Guy hovered over a helpless Mike. "You think you can just get your sanity and respect back, huh? That a simple apology will just make everything go away? I am going to make you watch me kill her first, and then I'm going to end you. Or, maybe you'll end yourself... either way, I win." He turned, scooping up the unconscious Vanellope, wrapping his long fingers around her neck, about to strangle her as he tried to do to Mike, the inception of this curse.
"No, NO!" Stop it!" Mike cried, trying to fight the malevolent purple man. However, he soon had help as the Puppet suddenly appeared, his white eyes burning into Phone Guy's as they struggled to grab Vanellope.
"Get off of me!" Phone Guy yelled angrily as he fought the Puppet. He ended up dropping Vanellope to the floor, the girl lying there lifelessly.
Mike grimaced and crawled quickly over there, trying to dodge Phone Guy and the Puppet. "Vanellope!" he said when he reached her, cradling her in his arms. She gave no response and tears pricked his eyes. "No..."
A sudden rage filled him and Mike set Vanellope safely to the side, then let out a battle cry as he dove straight for Phone Guy.
Even the Puppet was shocked by this as Mike pulled Phone Guy to the ground, punching him repeatedly. "This is for screwing up my head! For making me hurt innocent people! And this is definitely for my friends!"
Phone Guy grunted as he shoved Mike off of him, about to deliver a critical blow when he felt himself being dragged back. He found himself face to face with Foxy who gave him a deadly stare, growling threateningly. Soon, he was joined by the other animatronics who surrounded him. There was an eerie silence in GCS as the group realized they were alone. Mangle snapped her teeth. Chica bobbled her head tauntingly. Freddy loomed over Phone Guy.
Finally, Golden Freddy plopped down, BB having helped him as he emitted a more sinister 'hello.' Golden Freddy and Phone Guy's gaze met, locking, the animatronic staring at him coldly.
"All... that he has done... will be given back... to him... now..." Golden Freddy muttered.
Phone Guy's eyes widened as the circle of animatronics closed in. "Get away from me you freaks! You hunks of junk! You're nothing without me, these games are NOTHING without me!"
In the center of the circle, the Puppet floated over Phone Guy, taunting him for a few moments.
Ralph, Calhoun and Felix huddled by Mike and Vanellope as Phone Guy's screams filled the air, his avatar torn apart by the animatronics. Golden Freddy's hand flopped over BB's eyes, staring intently at the scene. Calhoun held Felix who could not bear to watch. After several minutes, the animatronics backed away, and the purple avatar was no more.
"Jiminy jaminity," Felix breathed in disbelief, his hands covering his mouth. "Did they just..."
"Yes," Calhoun answered briskly, her steely gaze staring at the group. "Good riddance I say."
Ralph had gone to get Vanellope, glad to see she was physically okay. He held her safely against his chest with one hand and used the other to help Mike up. The guard blinked finally, still staring at the animatronics.
"Is it over?" he asked, looking at them all one by one.
The Puppet floated forward, now accepted, much like Mike, among the animatronics. Foxy gave Mike a firm nod as BB waddled over to Ralph. He looked up at Vanellope resting in his arms, tilting his head. "Hello?" He says softly.
Vanellope slowly opened her eyes, rubbing them and sitting up in Ralph's hand. She looked over at BB, and Ralph lowered her to him. "I guess we're friends now, huh?" She asked. BB replied by emitting a giggle.
Ralph and Foxy's gazes met, and they each gave a knowing nod. They began to hear stirring within GCS then, and Calhoun turned to the animatronics. "If you guys are all seen standing out here it's going to create a situation. People won't understand yet. You should head back in your game."
Chica's head wobbled, grunting as she waddled over to Golden Freddy with Bonnie, lifting him up and bringing him back into the game.
"Well... I think my days with these guys will be easier." Jeremy said, looking to the core four and Mike. "They still have to do what they do best, but... at least it will be no hard feelings between and after quarter drops..." He sighs. "I... I apologize for being so cold. I guess... what happened made me trust people less. Made me more standoffish. But... I'm happy that I was able to come to terms with what happened. Same with you, Mike." He stared at him for a moment. "However… an apology from you as well would be nice.
Mike cleared his throat. "Yeah... sorry we gave you hard time,"
Jeremy had his arms crossed now, raising an expectant brow. "And?" he prodded.
"Um... sorry for... shooting you?"
Mike chewed his lip in thought. "Sorry for making you cover for me against your will when I had completely lost my mind and threatening to blame you for what happened if you didn't?"
Mike figured that was the best 'all is forgiven' speech he was going to get from Jeremy. "Maybe… we can be friends?" He extended a friendly hand out, not sure if Jeremy would take it.
Jeremy looked at the hand held out for him to shake, and Mike thought perhaps he'd slap it away. Instead, Jeremy gave a lop-sided smile and reached his own hand out to shake. "Yeah sure. Can't really hate a guy who goes through all this trouble because of some little kid with candy glued in her hair."
Mike gave a small smile, and Calhoun gave a nod as they shook hands. "So, I guess you'll have a handle on everything in your game from here on?" She asked.
"Yeah… yeah, I think I've got it." Jeremy said. "See you guys around…" He said, heading towards his game. He slowed to a stop, turning to face them. "But next time… give me a heads up if you decide to stop by." He smirked a bit, following the rest of the animatronics inside.
Ralph exhaled, turning to Felix. "Well, guess we should all get back to our games, huh? First quarter drop is going to start soon."
"Boy, I have no idea if I have any hop left…" Felix stretched a bit.
"Oh come on, you bunch of wussies! You had a harder time kicking Turbo's butt and you were just fine!" Vanellope said, turning when she heard footsteps, many of them, behind her. She turned to see the Sugar Rush racers approaching, led by Taffyta. Vanellope blinked in surprise as they stopped feet from her. "Hey, shouldn't you guys be getting ready for-"
"We know that you were gone last night, Vanellope." Taffyta cut her off, but she didn't seem angry. "I know you went into that game. I've heard you dreaming about it at night." She bit her lip. "Look, Vanellope, whatever is going on, I just want you to tell us. We… we need you to be okay."
The raven haired child tilted her head. "Look… everything is okay now, really… sorry I made you worried."
Taffyta cleared her throat. "O- Oh… well, I wasn't worried about you, per se… just… worried about game play… and stuff."
Candlehead leaned forward, whispering. "She was pacing around the palace worried sick last night!"
"Shut up, Candlehead!" Taffyta snapped, rolling her eyes. "Fine, maybe I was a LITTLE worried about you."
Vanellope smirked. She looked around at all the kids, letting out a sigh. "Look… I know that… we always haven't gotten along… but you don't have to act all tough, we can still be friends, it's okay."
Taffyta looked at the ground. "No." She looked up. "No, it isn't-… wasn't, okay. Sure, we… we had lost our memories… but… but we still should have known deep inside that you were still our princess- president- whatever." Taffyta exhaled sharply. "I know that… what happened to you in the past… probably didn't help any with what happened to you in that game. And… I'm sorry. Not because I'm scared or I'm caught… but I'm really, truly sorry."
Vanellope smiled. It wasn't a smile from her ego, it was a genuine smile. She extended her hand, and Taffyta shook it. The Sugar Rush racers began to circle around her, chattering and giggling.
Mike smiled at the scene. He turned to leave, heading with Ralph and Felix to their game. When Vanellope noticed this, she stepped forward. "Hey, where do you think you're going, mister?" She smiled. "Come on and have some pastries before the first race like we always do!"
The young man stopped, biting his lip as he turned to face her. He looked at all the Sugar Rush racers, shuttering a bit as he hugged himself. "I don't think that's a good idea, Vanellope."
The girl frowned. "What're you talking about? You need some of your strength back."
Mike sighed, getting down on his knees to sit on the floor. "Vanellope… your nightmare is over." He smiled sadly. "But mine will never go away. Nothing can erase what I did."
"Come on, Mike… we're friends… that will never change." Vanellope said.
"I know that. But… I murdered those children, Vanellope. I know that now, and I can't change that, either."
At the sound of Sugar Rush racers gasping, Vanellope flashed a glare at them, making them silent. "Mike, listen to me. When King Candy-… Turbo… took away my memories… and the reason why he did that is because he tried to kill me first… I was in his way, just like Phone Guy tried to do to you. He made me think that I was never a good racer, that I was just a glitch that would never amount to anything. But you know what? There was one guy that saw past that." Vanellope smiled up at Ralph, and he smiled back at her. "And that's when I learned the truth. And now, my glitch Is like a superpower! I controlled it, and-"
"Vanellope, you can't compare your glitching to what I did to those kids-"
"I'm not finished." Vanellope held up a hand. "The point is… I was never what Turbo said I was. No matter what he did, I still beat him in the end. And Mike… you aren't what Phone Guy made you out to be, either. The only thing you are is my friend. And I'm going to give you a chance like Ralph gave me a chance."
Mike's lip began to tremble. "Van… I-… I almost hurt you really bad back there… your truth set you free, mine…" He sniffled. "I… don't trust myself around you, around… children, anymore."
Calhoun approached him them, lifting him to his feet by his shirt collar. "Now you listen to me, soldier." She said to him. "You think it's easy knowing that I failed to protect the first man I loved? I have to live with that every day, I can't change it either. That, is my back story. But if there is one thing I learned from short stack, and this crew… it's that your back story does not tell you who you are and it does not define you. It's what you do after your back story that counts." Mike nodded a bit, hanging his head, to which it was lifted by Calhoun, smiling lightly. "At ease, soldier." She nodded. "You're one of us whether you like it or not."
Mike looked around, a lump in his throat as he felt Vanellope hug his leg. He bent down, hugging her back as he sniffled. They stayed this way for what seemed like an eternity, and they all realized that the bonds they had formed could never be broken.