Sugar Rush Circus

By nettle46

Action / Mystery

Epilogue

Ron’s eyes flew open.

He was still in the code room. He looked down at his waist. The rope that anchored him was still attached, thank mod.

He blinked.

His anxiety also seemed to have vanished. He could remember stuff though, but none of it fitted in with this world, which was just as clear to him. He even remembered the other performers – and that he was thankful for.

He twitched his fingers, then waved his arm.

What would he find outside of the code room? In fact, what would he find inside the code room? He looked around him. Below him was the bright blue, healthy glow of the code. He must have floated upwards as he slept.

He turned himself over, and swam downwards.

There was not a single trace of red. The code was perfected again, not a box out of order. A glimmer of movement near the other side of the code caught his eye. His head turned to see a shadow in front of a small code box, far off to the side.

He moved in that direction, kicking his legs as he paddled with his arms.

Swizzle was floating in a little ball, legs pulled up to his chest and a frown on his face. Ron stifled his laugh and shook the boy. For a few seconds he didn’t react, and Ron felt his panic come back. Was he ever going to wake up? Or was Ron the only one? But then the indigo eyes opened, and Swizzle breathed in deeply.

“Ron – Ron, we did it!” He exclaimed, spinning his head around to see the perfect code. “And you’re still here, and not having a panic attack! So, what’s up with your memories?”

Ron bit his lip. “I don’t really know. I can remember everything that happened since I appeared here, but also a lot of other stuff that never happened here, but did happen where I come from, but it involves all the same people.”

Swizzle thought for a moment, his face pensive. “You know Ron – what you’re saying, it kind of sounds like… nah, forget it, it’s stupid. Let’s go find the others.” He said, grabbing his cord and starting to pull himself away. Ron was going to join him, until he noticed the name of the little box.

“Hey Swizzle, look at this. It says ‘Story options’.”

Swizzle swam back over. “Huh … I remember something Vanellope said, when we were first plugged in, about a story mode existing in the game, but I think Litwak disabled it because we were an arcade game, not a console game. Let’s have a look.” He reached over Ron’s shoulder and double tapped the box. It opened to reveal a spinning wheel of options. Ron clicked on the first one, and opened the description.

“Let’s see – in this story, Vanellope Von Schweetz meets a poor girl who has lost her kart and been blinded through a terrible accident. She helps her find her bear friends, and then…” He trailed off as a picture of the characters appeared. Vanellope was unmistakeable in her original racing suit, but the other girl…

“Is that Ginger?”

The girl in the picture had the same curly hair and freckly smile, a little hint of a raspberry furred head peeking out from behind her shoulder.

“A blind girl, looking for bears – it is Ginger!” Ron exclaimed. Swizzle exchanged a delighted grin with the boy. “That means that she is part of the game, not just some randomly created character! Look at some of the others!”

There were more stories: the racers discovering a hostile mermaid tribe but escaping by a series of underwater races, aided by a little friendly mermaid with cherry red hair; the racers having to face an unexpected villain with a motorcycle, tall with brown eyes that contained hypnotic orange spots; Vanellope encountering a girl in the forest with two diamond birthmarks under her eye, and helping her to become a racer. The boys were exuberantly happy with every story they found. Not every single one contained a circus performer, but many did. Eventually, they got to the last one.

“So, the racers are warned by a mysterious boy about an attack on their peaceful land, and the when it happens, the boy helps them save their land. Ah, here’s the pic-” Swizzle’s voice cut off suddenly. The picture showed four people laughing together. Swizzle in the picture had his arm around Adorabeezle, and talking to them was Crumbelina, and the person she was hugging.

Ron.

Unmistakeably.

“Okay … guess that’s where I come in then.” Ron said, trying to keep his voice from jumping. The whole description of the story fitted in perfectly with his older memories, it couldn’t be coincidence. “C’mon Swizzle,” he said, pushing away from the box, grabbing his rope to keep him anchored as he swam back to the entry hall, Swizzle hot on his heels.

They walked down the corridor in silence, focusing their attention ahead of them. They reached the door at the end, and Swizzle turned to Ron. “What if … what if everything’s still bad?”

“We’ll … run.” Ron replied. He pushed open the door, and they emerged into the throne room.

It was perfect. Glistening sugar made up the pillars and the walls, the throne shining in gold, the tapestries hanging from the walls waving gently in the breeze, soft pastel colours dancing from them. They crossed it with nary a second glance, moving into the entry hall. Everything had been restored, there was no trace of any sort of conflict. They pulled open the great doors, dwarfed and ridiculed by the heavy chocolate panels.

Outside was an unexpected spectacle. The barricades of last night had disappeared, the bloody code that had stained the dirt crimson red vanished. Instead, all the citizens of Mainland Sugar Rush lay, spreading out all the way down to Racer’s street, eyes closed, mouths agape, but not moving an inch.

“Are they asleep? Or … or…?” Swizzle questioned. Ron moved to a candy fan near him – one of Crumbelina’s animal cookies. “They’re not breathing.” He said. The breath caught in Swizzle’s throat. “But … but… but…”

Ron ignored him and grabbed the candy fan by the shoulders. He gave it a firm shake. After a few seconds, it gasped as it flew awake. “What – why – where?” It said, its voice high pitched and its eyes glimmering with life. “What happened?” it managed.

“A virus invaded Sugar Rush, and it took over all of you fans and citizens’ codes, trying to make you kill us. Luckily, we managed to reset the game, and now everything is fine.” Ron said reassuringly. “Now, if you could help wake up the fans that would be exceptional of you.”

The fan nodded, and ran to the fan next to it, proceeding to shake it awake. It explained what had happened, and then they both ran off to a new fan. Meanwhile, Ron turned to Swizzle.

“Well, shall we wake up our lot? I sure hope they haven’t got memory loss too.”

Swizzle nodded. Ron turned to go wake up Damon, but Swizzle had one last remark to make.

“You know Ron, you’re actually pretty smart.”

The unicorn pop boy moved away, not seeing the pleased smile on Ron’s face. He knelt y Vanellope, shaking her out of her stupor.

“Swizz? Did we win?” She said upon opening her eyes. “We sure did Vani.” He replied. Vanellope laughed in delight, jumping up and punching the air. “Yes! Sugar Rush for the win! So have Twistella and Jubilee disappeared.”

Swizzle frowned. “I can’t see the virus, and it’s gone from the code room, so I think it’s been vanquished. As for Jubilee…”

“Not gone yet.” Ron shouted over to them, standing over the dark girl, Damon looking around in wonder behind him. The other two ran over to look down on her sleeping form. Swizzle moved to wake up Gloyd, lying next to her, his collar still in her grip. “Hey man.”

“Dying!” Gloyd screamed upon waking up. He looked around him in surprise at the regularity of Sugar Rush, then looked down at his arms, clean and perfectly healed. “Um … what exactly…” He tried to sit up, but was held back by the death grip on his jacket. Pulling his arms out of the sleeves, he grabbed his hat from the floor next to him and stood. “I guess the plan worked then? So why isn’t she gone?”

“I don’t think she was a part of the virus.” Said Vanellope. “Remember how she said she was ‘one of us’? Maybe her code is actually in the game, somewhere.”

“I know where.” Came a voice. Citrusella got to her feet, having been awoken by Damon. “She’s from the future. She’s Jubileena’ future self.”

There was a momentary silence. Then Gloyd laughed nervously. “Time travel, Citri? Are you okay?”

“It makes sense, though.” Remarked Damon as he looked closely at the girl’s face. “She has the same facial structure, and the same hair colour – nowhere near how sweet Jubi’s personality is though.”

“She gave me proof.” Insisted Citrusella. “When I was in my cell, she showed me her and Jubes’s hair ties, and they had the same name, in the exact same handwriting. Even the little splodge where Jubes’s pen had gone funny was exactly the same.”

“But how could she manage time travel?” Swizzle asked. None of them had an answer. “Probably the same way she pulled us all out of our own stories.” Ron remarked. Everyone turned to face him. “Stories?” Damon repeated. Swizzle sighed. “Let’s wake everyone else up first, then we can get this sorted.” There was a mutual agreement, and they all moved on to another person, as Damon tied up Jubilee then dragged her to the castle steps.

There were tearful reunions and the sounds of relieved laughter filled the air. When all the racers and performers had been awakened, they moved on to the fans and citizens. Soon enough, everyone was on their feet.

“Where are Minty and the others?” Torvald asked Vanellope. “I don’t know – maybe they’re still in the fundungeon. I think I should send all the citizens home though. Come with me to the balcony?” She offered. Torvald nodded, and they made their way through the castle until they reached the balcony.

There, they found six racers in their deep sleeps. They nearly wept with relief as they were all awakened. After a few more explanations, everyone went downstairs except Lucy, Kevin and Vanellope.

The little president walked out onto the balcony. She had a megaphone in hand, and she could survey all her subjects from the overhanging balcony.

“Citizens of Sugar Rush!” She boomed. “Today marks a proud day. We have managed to pull our game from the jaws of defeat, and now we will celebrate our victory! We thank our saviours, for fighting so bravely in this struggle to break free of the virus that plagued our game…” Vanellope carried on praising the teens as Kevin leaned over to Lucy. “Has she rehearsed this or something?” He whispered. She giggled, but was suddenly struck with another memory. Kevin, whispering the exact same words into her ear, when they were far younger, as their mother made a speech in the exact same place Vanellope was now. Though she couldn’t see her mother’s face, she could see the raven ponytail that hung down her back, just below the hood of her mint green hoodie. She glanced at Kevin. By the look on his face, he’d made the same realisation. They looked at each other and after a moment, began to laugh.

“…So if you would go to your homes and continue with your daily lives, we will have a festival in honour of this great event in a day or so. And if all racers and performers could meet me in the castle dining room, that would be good. Thank you, Sugar Rush!” Vanellope yelled, her voice smothered by the thundering applause. She turned to the other two. “Wat were you laughing about?”

They swapped smiles again. “It’s a long, long, story. We’ll tell you downstairs.”

They descended the enormous marble staircase, then opened a door marked meeting room. The other teens filed in behind them – Adorabeezle and Cynethia amongst them, having woken up and travelled as fast as possible to the castle.

“Okay then people…” Vanellope said, stood at the head of the table. “What do we do?”

Damon stood. “I reckon we should wake up Jubilee.” Many people nodded in agreement. Vanellope walked over to where they had slung the girl in the corner. She shook her viciously, not caring that the other girl’s head banged against the wall. Jubilee’s eyes snapped open and she immediately began struggling against her bonds. Eventually, she stopped, and gave all the teens an evil glare.

“So then, I guess you win. What a pity.” She drawled, her nonchalant voice rivalled by her angry stare. “I guess I’ll be executed now?”

“We don’t have a death penalty, Miss Darkheart.” Vanellope spat at the girl, who laughed. “You know, I don’t think that surname is going to win me any sympathy at the moment. Please, call me Miss Bing Bing.”

There were gasps from around the room as everyone looked from Jubilee to Jubileena. The lighter cherry girl got out of her seat and stalked over to her future self. Then, she pointed directly at the other girl. “Don’t you ever call yourself that.” She uttered, before returning to her seat. Jubilee smirked.

Vanellope turned back to Jubilee. “Anyway, I was just think that life imprisonment in the fundungeon would be a better idea.” Jubilee laughed. “Oh, sounds so fun! When can I leave?”

Vanellope brought her hands to her face, sighing. “Ok you sarcastic little chip, just shut up.” She went back to her seat and sat down.

“So, Swizz and Ron, would you care to tell us what you discovered in the code room?”

“Certainly.” Swizzle replied. He proceeded to explain exactly what had happened inside the code room, efore and after the reset. When he was fnished, there was utter silence.

“So … we are characters from the game?” Cherry asked, holding hands with Gloyd. “Basically.” Said Ron, his arm round Crumbelina. “If you focus hard enough, you should be able to bring your old memories to mind. It worked for me.”

“And us.” Lucy and Kevin said. All the other performers thought hard, searching their brains for a trace of a memory. There were exclamations as they all slowly figured out who they were. Jake, however, stayed quiet.

“I can’t find anything.” He complained, racking his memories. “I’m sure it’ll be fine…” Cherry said uncertainly.

“Now all we have to do is find out how we got here.” Damon said. “Oh!” Minty gained a light of revelation in his eyes. “Guys,” she glanced at Lucy, Crimson, Jake and Snowanna, “do you think it could have something to do with the magic purple blob?”

“Magic purple blob?” Gloyd laughed. “I’ve got to see this.”

They left the castle and made their way to the circus, then moved to the caravans, Jubilee following handcuffed behind them. Minty and Citrusella forced their way into Twistella’s caravan, and all of the racers gazed in awe at the purple mass, turning from a thick cloud of gas to a bubbling liquid that floated in the air. All the circus performers started to move towards it slowly.

“It still feels like home…” Crimson sighed as she pulled her hand away from touching it. They all went outside, and turned to face Jubilee. “What is that thing?” Asked Vanellope.

Jubilee laughed meanly. “Why would I tell you?” Crimson frowned. “Because we’ll kill you if you don’t.” Jubilee sneered at her. “To kill me is to kill Jubileena’s future. So you’d be slaughtering your friend.”

“Yeah… I don’t really want to be slaughtered.” Jubileena remarked. “But I ca change my future, can’t I?” She asked, looking around nervously. Citrusella put her arm around her shoulders. “Let’s not take any chances.”

Crimson, meanwhile, had been searching her brain for anything they could hold against the dark girl. Suddenly, it came to her.

“So we can’t kill you…” she said, raising an eyebrow as she wandered closer to the girl. “But…” she grabbed Jubilee’s metal gloved hand and pulled. She pulled out her sword and held it just above the metal. “We can destroy your only worthwhile possession.”

Jubilee’s eyes widened. “That’s lightyears of technology ahead of you fools! You can do that!” She protested. Crimson brought her blade closer to the metal. “Argh! Fine! That’s the portal we used to pluck you all out of your stories!” She cried. Crimson let go of her hand and walked back into the main group.

“But you nitwits won’t know how to work it!” Jubilee crowed victoriously, pulling her arms inwards. “Damn it!” Crimson yelled. Just then, they heard a crash from the inside of the caravan. Adorabeezle poked her head out from behind the door.

“Guys! I touched the portal!”

“Adora, you idiot!” Nougetsia fumed as she ran over to her sister, who had a wide-eyed look about her but was luckily uninjured. “What happened Dora?” Swizzle asked.

“Well, it was reminding me of a design I made years ago of an imaginary portal that could take you anywhere in space and time if you just thought hard enough. So I touched it when you guys had all left, and I was sort of sucked into the glass. I was in this really big dark space, and all of my memories kept flashing through my head. I panicked – the only thing I could think about was getting back. Then I started feeling really strange, and I was sucked back to the outside of the glass.” She explained happily. Vanellope shook her head ruefully. “Adorabeezle, you are the definition of a mad genius.”

“And it makes sense that Jubilee and Twistella could get it, if they are from the future. After all, Jubilee could have stolen it off an older Adorabeezle!” Crumbelina exclaimed.

“Twenty years older, exactly.” Came Jubilee’s dark voice. She frowned at all of the teens, the fire in her eyes burning with hatred. “So, everything’s worked out for the racers and their friends now, like it does every time. You get to go back to your lovely little worlds, and then you live out your lives happily whilst I have to be imprisoned for eternity. Things never seem to go bad for you! You are the most frustratingly lucky people on this planet!” She snarled.

They turned away. “I think we should cut out the wall that the portal is against. Then we can access it more easily.” Said Vanellope. Damon placed his hands on the side of the wall and in a second it was gone.

“Well…” Said Snowanna, gazing at the purple mass, now steam. “I guess this is goodbye then.”

Lucy and Kevin decided to go first. They said a tearful goodbye to everyone, then went to stand in front of the portal as Adorabeezle explained exactly what to do.

“Noted.” Said Kevin. “We’ll miss you like this, Dora.” Lucy added. Adorabeezle smiled and hugged them both. “By the way,” she said as she pulled away. “Who are you guys then?”

“Oh, right.” Kevin grinned. “We’re from Sugar Rush’s future.” Lucy smiled. “So yeah, we have all the info on who you all date and marry and what you name your kids.”

“Our kids?” Said Rancis. Kevin and Lucy exchanged a giggle, then smiled at him. “Uh huh.” Said Lucy, her hazel eyes sparkling. “Yup. Bye bye for now then!” Kevin added, his curl of blond hair swept back in the breeze as he clutched his sister’s had and touched the portal. They disappeared inside, not a trace to be seen.

They found themselves on the floor of the castle lounge, video game consoles in hand, the avatars going unnoticed on the screen. “We made it! We did it Kev!” Lucy exclaimed. They jumped to their feet and raced down to the kitchen. They opened the door to a cloud of flour.

“Oh! Hi kids!” Said a tall figure, who wafted away the whiteness to reveal his face, clothes, and perfect blond hair covered in it.

“Dad…” Kevin said, running over to him and hugging him with his little sister in tow, “You will not believe where we’ve been.”

Rancis’s eyes widened. “The – the circus?”

Both kids nodded. Rancis laughed with delight. “Vani! Come down! The kids just got back!”

“Where did they go?” Vanellope’s voice sailed down the stairs.

“To about twenty years ago!” Shouted Lucy as she tackled her mum with a floury hug.

Rancis glanced over at Vanellope. “You know, they were someone here’s kids.” He said, his face getting uncomfortably warm. “Yeah, I guess they were…” She replied. They both laughed awkwardly, then Vanellope asked: “Who’s next?”

Ginger and Miito were up next. They bade farewell to the others, then Miito directed Ginger to the portal. “Ready?” He asked.

“Ready.” She replied.

She stretched out her hand and thought about home.

They opened their eyes to find themselves in a small clearing. Before them was a beautiful motorcycle – but it wasn’t just a motorcycle. It was a light cycle, the bright wheels gleaming in the setting sun, with brown base standing out in stark contrast against the cream cheese icing on the sides and front. Although Ginger couldn’t see it, she could almost sense it was there, and the image of it was embedded in her brain.

“Miito! Ginger! There you are!” Ginger spun to face the sound of the voice. She could hear the plodding furry footsteps, sense the warmness that surrounded her, and she remembered the voice of Mari with ultimate clarity.

“Mari!” She exclaimed, running towards the voice. She felt herself enveloped in the short warm arms, then heard Mari’s soft chuckle as the bear said “Where’s all this coming from? And where have you two been?” Ginger pulled away. “You are not going to believe this. Let’s go inside – it’ll be a long story.” And so they left, Ginger with a bear paw clutched in each hand.

Damon watched Ginger disappear, sucked through into the purple mass. He felt quite unhappy, actually, that all his friends were leaving – over the last month or so, they had all grown very close.

He scanned the gathering. Jubilee had been tethered, by using a tall pole embedded in the earth – they had looped her handcuffs around it, and now it was far too tall for her to escape. Suddenly, a brighter, cheerier flash of red caught his attention. He glanced towards it, seeing Jubileena talking to Torvald. He waited until the golden girl left, then wandered over to where she was sitting on the grass.

“You know, I quite like it here.” He said. “Do you now?” She remarked. “Oh yeah. In fact, I think I might just stay here.” He answered, a smile on his face. “”But won’t your friends miss you?” She asked. “Not really. I mean, my friends can’t miss me when I’m always here.”

Jubileena laughed. “I meant your friends from your old life.”

Damon shrugged. “So did I. After all, unlockable characters tend to live in the same world as originals.”

Jubileena’s mouth fell open. “You mean you’re from this world?” She exclaimed. He nodded with delight. “Yes!” She yelled, jumping at him and pulling him into a hug. To his surprise, she planted her lips on his, making his eyes go wide as he stiffened. Slowly, however, he relaxed. She tasted like cherries and happy summer days: warm, sweet and bright. He was just wrapping his arms around her as well when the interruption came.

“Whoa lovebirds, take it easy!” Citrusella and Cynethia appeared from behind, and sat down next to them.

“Has my little sister got a boyfriend?” Citrusella asked, at the same time that Cynth said “Is ickle Damon in wove?”

“Oh can it Cynth.” Damon replied, pushing the other girl away. She laughed and she and Citrusella high-fived over the annoyed couple. “Nah, it’s cute!” Citri said. “But just to warn you Damon – if you hurt my sister, you will not live another minute!” She said cheerfully. “Ella!” Jubileena moaned.

“Right. Of course.” Damon replied. “Anyways, the reason I came was because I’m going. Do I get a goodbye hug?” Cynethia asked, opening her arms. Damon, Jubi, and Citrusella all hugged her goodbye, and then she got up and wandered over to the portal. Suddenly, she felt a hand grab her wrist. She yelped in surprise as she was spun around, her forehead bumping gently into the boy’s.

“You know, where you’re going, you’re a villain during game time.” He whispered. She smirked. “And? Does that bother you?” He smiled crookedly. “Actually, no. In fact, I quite like bad girls. And I’m sue the Swizz where you come from will too. So you don’t leave the poor guy hanging, yeah?”

She laughed. “I don’t take orders from you, Malarkey. But I’ll think about it.” She replied. He joined her laughter as he moved his head back. “Damn. Can’t even be a good wingman for my alternate self.” She grinned at him. “You’re just too charming I guess.”

“Well, don’t miss me too much, After all, you’ll have villain stuff to do.”

“Oh, I’ll be plenty busy, I’m sure. But …” she stared into his eyes warmly. “I won’t forget you.”

He kissed her forehead. “That’s all that I ask.”

She gave him one last smile and walked over to the orb. After a quick lesson on how not to die inside it from Adorabeezle, she was ready.

She pressed her hand against the glass.

She looked around. Although her eyes were most certainly open, she could only see the insides of her eyelids – a dark reddish colour, a little peculiar spot from where she last looked at the light floating in the corner. It was such a strange sensation she nearly forgot why she was there.

She took a deep breath, and focused.

Let’s go back to my story.

Let’s relive life once more as a villain during game time and a racer during free time.

Let’s find all my friends.

There was a sudden intrusion of light. She realised she had her eyelids closed, even though she didn’t remember shutting them. When they did open, she found herself looking up at a sky of stars. Beneath her was a soft blanket, and her head rested on a warm arm.

She turned to see him smiling softly at her.

“Did you fall asleep?” He whispered. She looked back up at the stars, then looked back into his indigo eyes. “Not exactly. But…” she looked back up at the stars, making herself comfortable in his arms. “I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

He gave a low chuckle. “Never one to ruin a moment like this. You’re definitely my Cyndy.”

“And you’re my Lollipop.” She replied as she interlaced their fingers.

Gloyd was watching Cynethia disappear through the glass when he felt a small pair of arms wrap around his torso from behind. The girl in question spun around so she was face to face with him, her arms still encircling him, her green eyes dancing with excitement and her smile as entrancing as ever. “Guess what?”

“What?” He asked, grinning, her enthusiasm contagious. “I’ve been drilling Ron’s brain from information about my story. And I figured out that it’s actually pretty similar to this world. So … if you search the seas enough, you should be able to find me. And I’m sure my colony are nicer when game time’s over.”

He kissed her on the forehead happily, then smirked at her. “That’s great news, but how am I going to live without you until then?” She giggled again, that enchanting laugh. “You’ll just have to start looking sooner.”

She brought her lips up to meet his. Gloyd let himself melt into the kiss, knowing it may be the last one for a long time. Then suddenly, he felt a punch to the stomach. “Ouch! What was that for?” He exclaimed, hugging his abdomen. “I told you, Gloyd Orangeboar, that if you didn’t come back to me, I would make you suffer. You did come back, but you also managed to die along the way. So I figure that that and not seeing me until you find my colony will be enough.”

Gloyd laughed. “You truly are a woman of your word.” She leaned down next to him and gave him another kiss, long and tender. “I’ll see you on the other side, my pumpkin prankster.”

She walked over to the portal and was sucked away.

When she opened her eyes, she found herself underwater. Her tail was there in place of her legs, the cherry red scales shining brightly in the faint light, and instead of her little white dress she had a wraparound top, finishing just above her stomach. She laughed with delight as she swam around. She was just doing flips when she heard a voice come from behind her.

“There you are! I was wondering where you’d got to.”

She turned to see an older mermaid, with the same bright cherry tail and hair, but pulled back into a ponytail, and with warm brown eyes and a more serene expression.

“Honestly, can’t stay still for one second, can you? Mum said we had to go feed the crabs, and what do you do? You run off into the kelp to do flips. What am I going t do with you?” She shook her head, smiling. Cherry laughed. “Actually sis, I’ve been a lot further than just here. I’ve been a lot further, and for a lot longer.”

Crimson was next. Just before she touched the portal, she heard a voice from behind her.

“Hey! You’re not trying to leave without saying goodbye, are you?” Jake called, running up to her. He grabbed her and pulled her into a hug. She laughed – the first time she’d laughed in a while. After a few seconds, she said “Jake, you can let go now.”

“But then you’ll disappear. Forever.” He said. She glitched out of his arms. “Hey. I’ll always be in there,” she replied, pointing at his forehead. He laughed. “Yeah, I guess you will. Well, good luck on the other side, Crunch.”

“The same to you, Dewey.”

She placed her hand on the orb, and felt the strange sensation of her entire body being sucked into the portal.

She found herself in a courtyard. She different clothes on to normal – a red dress, with black shoes. She looked up. She remembered where she was now. Above her, a rope was thrown down from the balcony. Then, a head appeared over the edge, and a boy slid down it.

“Here we are!” He said, his green eyes gleaming at her from under his red fringe. “Funny. Usually it’s the princess who has to sneak out of her castle to meet the prince, not the other way round.” He said, taking her face in his hands and kissing her sweetly.

“Are you okay, Crim?” He asked as he pulled away. “I – I need to tell you something, Freddie. Can we reschedule the date and just go to the den?” She asked. “Of course!” He replied, grabbing her hand. “Anything for my rose. Oh, that reminds me…” he handed her a red rose, red as her dress. “It’s not exactly a bouquet, but…” she smiled. “It’s lovely. Besides,” it glitched in her hand, duplicating he rose until she was holding ten of the exact same. “I can make my own bouquets.”

“…basically, as far as I can figure, it’s an alternate timeline where you guys all exist, but make different choices and have different friends and enemies. But somethings are still the same – Gloyd still pranks people, Taffyta still bags about her racing skills, we’re still together…” Ron trailed off as he gazed at his girlfriend. She was listening to his intently. “What?” She asked. “But it’s not us, is it? It’s me and other Crumbs.” He said.

She laughed. “Well, I hope you don’t call her that to her face! If she’s anything like me, she won’t be happy with you. And don’t you even think about calling me ‘other Crumbs’ when you go back!” Ron gave a half-hearted laugh. “But you understand – how do I know after being here with you that going back is the better choice?”

“I know it is.” Crumbelina replied, her face calm as she took his hands in hers. “You can’t stay here forever. Your world needs you, and you need it. And she needs you too. You can’t just let her be alone like that, hoping one day you’ll return. You can’t do that to her, and I can’t let you. No go through that portal and help save your world.” She said, her voice cracking. Ron leant forwards and kissed her one last time, long and bittersweet. He got up, and went over to the portal. The last thing he saw before he was sucked through was her small wave, a single tear rolling down her cheek.

“Ron! Did you fall asleep or something?” Crumbelina laughed, running ahead of him, his hand in hers. They sprinted through the forest, the peppermint trees looming above them. She smiled at him radiantly, her face alight with joy. He pulled to a stop. “What’s up?” She asked, turning to face hi, properly. He pulled her closer, sobbing silently as he laid his head on her shoulder. “Ron? What’s the matter?”

“I love you Crumbs. I’ll always love you. You know that, right?” He spoke into her jacket. “Of course Ronnie! And I love you too!” He pulled away, wiping his cheeks. “Great. I’ve got something very important to tell you.”

Vanellope and Jake walked over to where Jubilee was leaning against the pole.

“Okay Darkheart, explain to us, why can’t Jake remember where he’s from?” Vanellope demanded. Jubilee simply sneered at them. “You’d have to ask Jester Twistella – oh wait, you killed her!” She turned away.

“Well, I don’t think we’re getting any info out of her. Do you think we could lock her up before I leave? I’d love to see that.” Jake said, a slight savage edge to his voice. Jubilee turned back around. “Before you do, I do require one last request.” Vanellope snorted. “Fine.”

“I want to talk to my past self. A private matter.”

Vanellope sighed, and went over to where Jubileena and Damon were to ask the cherry girl’s permission. Jubilee stared at Jake until he got very uncomfortable. “What?” He barked eventually. She opened her mouth. “I was just wondering why of all the borrowed characters, the virus would want to mess with you the most. I mean, there’s a reason that she chose that form, and a reason that you can’t remember.”

Jake wanted to protest, but then he remembered how he felt every time he looked at Twistella. Something about her orange eyes and beautiful face just seemed so unnervingly similar. He couldn’t place a name, a location, or even a feeling, but he knew that that face had something to do wth his past. And right now, that was his only clue.

Vanellope reappeared with Jubileena by her side. “Okay Darkheart, I’ll talk.” Said the cherry girl. Jubilee glared at the other two. “This is a private matter between me and myself. Please back away.” They did so, grumbling. Jubileena watched them leave, then turned back, to find Jubilee a lot closer. In fact, all she could see was the other girl’s face. Jubilee studied her intently for a few seconds. “It’s been a long time since I saw such naivety in my eyes. And such … such love.” She sounded scornful, but also – envious? She motioned with her head for Jubileena to come closer. The girl inched forwards. Jubilee reached round and then whispered into her ear: “See you in twenty years.” Then, she head-butted Jubileena violently. The other girl fell to the floor, and Jubilee, free of her bonds thanks to her contact with her past self, ran past all the shocked racers and jumped into the portal.

“No!” Jake shouted, running after her. He didn’t stop to hear Adorabeezle’s advice, but hit the glass at full speed.

He found himself inside the dark area. He looked around frantically, but Jubilee was nowhere to be seen. He felt like someone had crushed his ribcage. She had won, in the end. She had escaped after all the pain she had caused them.

He began think about home.

Home.

Home.

Home.

Home.

He repeated the word over and over, until it was less of a though and more of a chant, a prayer. Suddenly, he became aware of a leather seat under his legs, cool metal resting against his arm, and the distinct sound of footsteps.

His eyes snapped open. He was sitting in his kart, one arm out of the open window, the other clutching a can of mountain dew, watching the sunset through the glass, parked at the edge of a cliff that looked out for miles around.

The footsteps stopped. He looked up out of the window, straight into those slim orange eyes, shining in the dim light.

But those eyes were not alone against her snowy-white skin. Her childlike features were framed by long blonde hair, her lips thin and rosy, curled into a smile. When she spoke, it wasn’t in the horrendous tones of the virus, but in the sweet silvery voice of the jester.

“I thought I’d find you here.” She leant down, placing her forearms on the edge of the window. “Twist.” He said with an air of wonder. “Twistella Ranbun, the one and only.” She said, ggoing round the kart, opening the door then climbing inside. “You okay, Jake? You seem really far away right now.” She said, looking at him in concern as he watched the orange blush in her cheeks.

“I’ve got a story to tell you, Twist.”


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