A/N: A one-shot based on the following headcanon from wir-headcanons.
Tamora has only once shot the First-Person shooter. Vanellope had the day off, so she went to Hero’s Duty, both to surprise Tamora and see what the game play was like. While delivering her normal spiel, Calhoun noticed Vanellope and got so enraged/ protective/ panicked that she shot the First-Person shooter, ending the game even before the hatch could open to fight the Cybugs. She then took Vanellope (sharply) by the wrist and dragged/ scolded her all the way to Ralph’s shack in Fix-It Felix. Headcanon from: Anonymous
Vanellope hung upside down from the branch of a candy cane tree, swinging gently. In the distance the rumbling of engines could be heard as the other racers sped about the track. She’d taken the day off today, partly out of laziness and party to give another racer a chance to be in the roster. The little girl had spent most of the day goofing off and now that it was near closing time she’d grown thoroughly bored.
She swung upright for a moment before jumping to the ground, landing nimbly on her feet like a cat. Dusting herself off she headed over to the candy cane reeds growing nearby and snapped one off. Holding it against her shoulder she aimed it at invisible enemies in the distance.
“Pew! Pew!” she cried, running about and ‘firing’ her makeshift gun here and there.
“We are humanity’s last hope!” she barked out sternly to her invisible troops. “Our mission: destroy all cybugs!”
From her game screen Vanellope could often hear parts of Calhoun’s opening speech and playing her own version of Hero’s Duty had become a favorite pastime. Vanellope really looked up to the sergeant, she was brave and fierce and defended not just her game but also the whole arcade from Cybugs every single day. Tamora was the very definition of cool to the little racer; Vanellope would’ve done anything to gain her approval.
An idea sparked into the little girl’s mind and she excitedly scampered off toward the exit of Sugar Rush.
* * *
It was a few minutes to closing but Hero’s Duty had gotten a quarter alert just the same. Tamora positioned herself in front of the first person shooter robot, waiting to give her opening spiel. She glanced quickly at her men and found everything in order, turning her attention back to the robot just in time to see the face of a young boy appear on the screen.
“We are humanity’s last hope!” she began, glaring sternly at the screen. “Our mission: destroy-“
Just then something caught Tamora’s eye, something that should not have been there.
More specifically, someone that should not have been there.
At the back of the room stood Vanellope, smiling brightly and waving at the sergeant enthusiastically. In that one moment Calhoun’s heart nearly stopped, it was that age-old fear played out again. Already she could hear the ravenous swarm of cybugs gathering on the other side of the door.
Without warning, the sergeant snapped her gun up and fired a precise shot into the screen of the first person shooter, ending the game before it had begun. Her soldiers shifted uneasily, unsure what to do about this breach in protocol.
In the arcade, the little boy stared up at the ‘game over’ screen with a quizzical look before he was distracted by his friends calling to him. He set the gun down and shrugged, running to catch up with others that were leaving.
Back in Hero’s Duty, Calhoun holstered her gun and began pushing her way through the crowd of men to the back of the room.
“Kohut!” she barked, “You’re in charge of perimeter check!”
Finally she reached Vanellope, the little girl was grinning up at her, unaware of how serious the situation had almost become.
“Hiya Sarge! I had the day off today and I- ow!”
Calhoun sharply grabbed the girl by the wrist and hauled her out of the game into Game Central Station.
“Whadda doing Sarge?” Vanellope was somewhat frightened by the seriousness of the older woman, she’d always been greeted with smiles in the past.
Tamora didn’t look down but kept heading forward, tugging on the racer’s wrist. Vanellope lapsed into silence, doing her best to keep up with Calhoun’s long strides as they neared the entrance to Fix-it Felix, Jr.
They sat on the tram in silence; Vanellope hazarded a glance up at the sergeant and found her staring coldly into space. The moment the tram stopped at the station Vanellope was dragged off of it in the direction of Ralph’s house.
In Niceland the last game had just ended and everyone had begun to clean up for the night. Felix was still on the roof and spotted Tamora stalking off toward the houses with Vanellope in tow. Even from far away he could tell from her body language that something was clearly wrong. He excused himself from the rooftop and hurried after her.
The handyman caught up with them just as Tamora found Ralph.
“Wreck-it!” she shouted after him and the huge man turned, somewhat startled by the ferocity in her voice.
“Hey Sarge, what’s-“
Calhoun yanked Vanellope forward and finally released her wrist.
“Do you have any idea where she was just now?!” Tamora’s voice had risen to a shout and she continued before Ralph could say anything in reply, “She was in my game during a quarter drop!”
“Oh my land!” Felix exclaimed, he went pale for a moment just thinking about what could have happened.
Ralph turned his attention to the racer; his voice was stern but quiet. “Kid you can’t just do that, you should know better.”
“I just wanted to see Sarge…” Vanellope said quietly, scuffing at the ground with one foot.
With those quiet words Tamora turned her attention to the little girl, speaking to her for the first time today.
“You are never to come there again.” She knelt down to Vanellope’s level and the little girl could hardly meet her gaze. Tamora grabbed her by the shoulders, her voice was still at a fierce shout, “What were you thinking?!”
“I-I wanted to…to surprise you…” tears were welling up in Vanellope’s eyes, threatening to spill onto her round cheeks.
Tamora gave the girl a little shake, “Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?”
“I w-was curious…”
“It doesn’t matter! If I hadn’t shot the first person shooter that hatch would’ve opened and you could’ve…” Tamora’s voice broke, the fight suddenly taken out of her. Her voice became quieter as she struggled to continue. “Vanellope, we could’ve lost you.”
“I’m sorry Sarge, I didn’t-“
Without warning, Tamora crushed the little girl to her chest, hugging her fiercely tight. The memories of her back-story flooded through her mind and she was powerless to fight them.
“I can’t lose anyone else, I just can’t.” her voice was a strangled whisper.
Vanellope pulled back to look at the sergeant’s face and to her surprise she found tears forming in the woman’s eyes. Somehow this was more terrifying than being yelled at, to see Calhoun frightened to the point of tears.
The little girl nuzzled into the woman’s embrace, hugging her back with all her might. Felix came over and gently smoothed Tamora’s hair before wrapping his arms around the both of them. Finally Ralph knelt down and scooped up all three of them in his strong arms, nearly hugging the breath out of them.
“We’re all here Tammy, we’re all ok.” Felix whispered against her cheek, his voice soothing, “Vanellope is fine, we’re all fine.”
Calhoun made a little noise of agreement but made no movement to break out of everyone’s embrace. They held each other tightly for a few more minutes before Tamora finally cleared her throat.
“Ok, enough with the sappy stuff.” She mumbled quietly.
Ralph released everyone and the sergeant gave Vanellope one final tight hug before setting her down.
The little girl wiped a stray tear from her cheek with one sleeve before looking up at Tamora.
“M’ sorry Cal. I won’t do it again. Promise.”
Calhoun knelt again and gave her a soft smile.
“It’s alright little soldier, I’m sorry I yelled at you.” She smoothed the girl’s hair lovingly before continuing, “I was scared of losing you…that’s what scares me most, losing any one of you.”
Felix took Tamora’s free hand and gave it a little squeeze; she squeezed back and gave him a reassuring smile before turning her attention back to Vanellope.
“Next time you want to see me, you ask Wreck-it or Felix to come get me, ok?”
Vanellope nodded solemnly, “I will Sarge.”
“Now that we’re all settled, how about we take you back to Sugar Rush?”
“Ok…” she agreed half-heartedly.
“Maybe we could do a little target practice?” the sergeant offered.
The little girl immediately perked up, “Oh you mean it Sarge? You’ll teach me to shoot like you?”
“You bet.” She stood, her fingers still laced with Felix’s. “Why don’t we all go?”
Vanellope jumped with excitement before scampering up to sit on Ralph’s shoulder.
“Bet I can shoot better than you, Stinkbrain.”
“Don’t be so sure,” he replied, then added more sternly, “and you and me are gonna have a talk about this later, understood?”
“Yes…” she agreed, looking repentant for a moment before snapping her attention back to Calhoun. “Can you teach me to drive the cruiser too?”
Tamora laughed, the sound bright and relaxed, “We’ll have to see about that, President Toothache.”
While Ralph and Vanellope headed toward the exit, Felix and Tamora hung back a bit.
“You alright Tammy?” Felix asked, his brow creased in worry.
She knelt for a moment to give him a quick kiss before standing again.
“Never better, Short Stack.” She knocked the brim of his hat down over his eyes, “Love you.”
The handyman righted his hat; grinning up at her, “Love you too. And Tammy?”
“Thank you for protecting her.”
The sergeant nodded, she felt that they were her family, as surely as if they were coded to be.
“C’mon you two!” Vanellope called from the tram, “Move your molasses!”
“Alright Fix-it, I think that’s enough touchy-feely time for one day, let’s get going.”
On the tram ride to Game Central Station, Calhoun pulled Vanellope into her lap and held her tightly, reassuring herself one last time that the girl was here and was safe. Leaning down, she nuzzled her face into the racer’s sugar-scented hair before placing a kiss on her forehead.
Vanellope scrunched up her nose and wiped the offending kiss off as she stood to get off the tram. She scampered halfway to Ralph before hesitating and rushing back to Calhoun. The little girl pressed something into the sergeant’s hand before running back to the wrecker. Opening her hand, Calhoun found one of the girl’s colorful barrettes resting lightly in her palm. Smiling, Tamora gently closed her hand over it and followed the others toward Sugar Rush to make good on her promise of target practice.