A/N: Final chapter, with a bit of a twist. AU for Princess and the Frog; doesn't spoil anything from the film, but the characters are here.
Not-So-Happily Ever After
What it all boiled down to, essentially, was this:
Two villains had gone gallivanting around town unhindered.
Charming and Charming had sent out some of their best agents, experts in their field, with a prince-in-training on hand.
The heroes, though brave, hadn't stopped the villains. Disney had lost a very important business – the Vanishing Isle hotel and restaurant – and a giant sea turtle had, unfortunately, been a casualty.
The villains had still not been captured.
The villains had then proceeded to wreak havoc on a normal human store.
And the heroes, meanwhile, had had to be rescued by fairies.
It was, to put it in modern lingo, an epic fail. Worse than an epic fail: a failtacular.
To say that Mickey Mouse was displeased would have been an understatement.
"So here's what I hear you saying to me," squeaked Mickey. The high pitch of his voice did not make his tone less ominous. "You failed, simply put."
"Epically," put in Abelard.
"Be quiet!" Mickey snapped. "You're no Disney prince yet!"
Abelard hung his head, abashed.
Mickey turned to the cringing Princes Philip and Aladdin. "So this is what I get from you despite all your years of expertise?" His voice hit an octave that only Pluto would have heard. "You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. I expect more of you. Everyone expects more of you. We can't go around having villains winning their battles – not once, not twice, not ever. Then they know that we can be defeated, and so do those who look to us to protect them from evil."
Philip and Aladdin shuffled their feet, small children getting a telling off by a furious parent. "Sorry, sir," Philip murmured.
"Sorry," Aladdin added.
"Sorry," Abelard said.
"As you should be," Mickey sniffed. "Here I thought this would be an excellent training mission for young Abelard here. You two, I thought, you're the best of the best. You know how to stop Maleficent. You know how to stop Jafar. But you've proven me wrong. I hope you're proud."
Aladdin and Philip shook their heads, staring miserably at the floor.
"I am very disappointed," Mickey added, glaring at them. "Now we're going to have to try something truly daring to figure out what they're up to."
Aladdin and Philip looked up hopefully. "We'll do whatever we can to repair the damage, sir," Aladdin said.
"Yes," Philip agreed at once. "We have plenty of resources at our disposal – maybe if we get Genie and bring along the fairies – "
Mickey held up a hand. "No, they'll be expecting that," he said. "They know all our princes, and all their sidekicks. We have to throw something completely new at them."
Philip and Aladdin exchanged a glance. Abelard just looked confused. "What's that, sir?" he inquired politely.
Mickey smiled and reached towards the arm of his chair. He pressed a button, and a large red phone popped up. He lifted the receiver and dialed a number. "Hello, Naveen? Yes, Mickey here. I need you and Tiana to help me with a little problem…"
Somewhere in New Orleans, Dr. Facilier was watching.
"Hmm," he murmured, tapping his fingers on his table. Tarot cards twisted and changed nimbly in his fingers, displaying scenes, people, desires. They flashed by him in quick succession – a restaurant, two frogs in crowns, a dragon and a cobra, the Underworld, a fiery-headed god, a mermaid.
He glanced at his shadow. His shadow looked back and shrugged elaborately.
"We could make this work," said Facilier. "We could find other friends to help us, other ways to get at Naveen and his lovely froggy bride…"
The shadow grinned. Facilier grinned back.
"Time to work a little magic," he said, and flipped a card.
In the Underworld, Jafar and Hades were sitting in Hades' throne room sipping martinis.
"So that's it?" Hades asked. "You went to some mortal restaurant, took her home, and said 'Good night'?"
"Yes." Jafar looked dubiously at the martini Hades had placed in front of him, complete with worm. "What's in that?"
"Oh, you know, a little of this, a little of that," Hades said, waving a hand. "Look, you can't seriously convince me that you went home with the Mistress of All Evil and didn't do anything."
"Well, we didn't." Jafar glared at his cobra staff, nostrils flaring a little.
"Not by your choice, I take it?" Hades waggled his eyebrows.
Jafar sighed. "It was a first date," he said reluctantly. "Even the Mistress of All Evil has some standards."
"Psssh, standards, schmandards." Hades slurped up the worm from his martini. "Seriously, you should try that," he suggested, pointing to Jafar's drink. "It's delicious."
"I was under the impression that eating food from the underworld gave my soul to you," Jafar said.
"Eventually it's gonna belong to me anyway," Hades muttered. "Ok, so nothing happened. Fine. I believe you. She's a scary lady. But please, tell me you got a second date. You must have, because you're still alive. C'mon, second date? Huh?"
Jafar swirled his martini without taking a sip, eyebrows arched. "Perhaps."
"Oh, come on," Hades said. "You know I'm going to find out eventually anyway. I mean, I have the freaking Fates on my side, ok?"
Jafar allowed himself a grin. "Next Tuesday, six o'clock sharp," he said. "We're crashing Cinderella's masquerade ball. That should please Charming."
"Damn," Hades said, shaking his head. "I'm impressed. I'm really, genuinely impressed. I mean, hasn't this chick killed every single man she's gone on a date with for the past four hundred years or something?"
"Rumor has it." Jafar tried not to sound smug. He failed.
Hades whistled. "Damn." They sat in silence for a few seconds, pondering the dark stone of Hades' skull-palace. "You know, I can never find a date," Hades said spontaneously. "No goddess wants to go with me, not even my own wife."
Jafar choked on his own breath. "You're married?"
"Yeah," Hades grumbled. "Persephone. She's Demeter's kid. Demeter gets all pissy when Persephone's with me and makes the weather go psycho. You may have – oh, never mind. You live in a desert. I forgot. Weather is pretty much hot and dry."
"It can get very cold at night, actually," Jafar said. "And rainy season is never pleasant."
"Cry me a river," Hades said.
"You already have one by the name of Styx, I believe."
"Har, har." Hades pulled a cigar out of thin air and began to smoke it. "You know, I went on a date with Maleficent a coupla months ago," he said, casually.
Jafar arched his eyebrows. Inwardly he was snarling, but he did his best not to show it. The only outward indication of his rage was a quick flare of his nostrils. "Mmm," he said. "A few months ago. Must not have gone well."
"Actually," said Hades, "It went magnificently. I just, you know, got a little busy, had some stuff to take care of, dead souls to corral, a hero's life to muck up, you know. God stuff. We gods have very important business to take care of, see, unlike you mortals, who just run around thinking you have important things to do. Then you die and realize it was all for nothing, but by then it's too late, and you're stuck with me."
Jafar glared coolly across the table at Hades. "So what you're saying, essentially," he began, "Is that you didn't call her back."
"Well, yeah, I mean I was planning to, but." He shrugged elaborately. "But. Anyway, my point being, I probably, most definitely, would have gotten a second date, had I asked a couple of months ago. And, you know, before you did all this schmoozing and waltzing and Vanishing Isle business I was actually planning to ask her out again."
Jafar laughed quietly, a disdainful laugh. "You thought to ask a woman out again after you hadn't called her for months?" he said. "She'd blast you to bits."
"Not a problem, I'll just repair myself and come right back," Hades said. "She blasted me anyway when I was trying to ask her out, and I came back from that. 'Cause of the god thing, you know. I can do that."
Jafar waved a hand dismissively. "She's already agreed to a second date with me," he said. "I doubt she'd be interested in spending an evening with someone who couldn't even be bothered to call her until he saw his opportunity vanishing in smoke."
Hades was starting to turn an unpleasant orange color. "Yeah, well, friendly competitive remark here, Jafar," he said, "But I'm a god, ok? I rule. I mean, I rule like whoa. I can do probably a million more amazing things than you can, ok? Because I can do anything. So I think, even if she is a teensy bit mad at me for not calling, that she will still be more impressed with me than you."
"Is that so?" Jafar was openly seething now, eyes narrowed, face reddening. "Then you'd best call her and find out if she'd be open to seeing you again."
"I will," Hades said.
"Right now," Jafar said.
"I'm going to," Hades snapped. "Just watch me, ok? I got this." He conjured a thin circle of smoke midair; at its center, Maleficent's lovely green face appeared. For a moment she looked ecstatic; then she frowned, eyes narrowing. "Hades," she said. "What do you want?"
"Hey, Maleficent, babe, how you doin'?" Hades said, leaning forward and smirking broadly at her. "Evil planning goin' well and all that?"
She raised a brow in noble derision. "Perfectly, as usual," she said. "And how have your past few months been?"
"Just peachy," Hades said. "Full of evil scheming, oppressing the dead, smiting mortals – you know, the usual."
"How pleasant." Maleficent lifted a hand and studied her nails intently. "Is there something you required?"
"Well, no, just thought I'd check in, see how you were… see if you were busy Tuesday night…" He waggled his eyebrows at her. "Long time, no see, yeah?"
Jafar studied Maleficent's expression carefully. She glared at Hades, eyes narrowed into slits so thin he could barely see her pupils. Her arms were crossed over her chest; behind her, her minions squealed and dove for cover.
"I'm busy," she said. Her voice could have frosted the sun.
"Oh." Hades ran a hand through his hair. "Wednesday?"
"Continuation of busy."
Maleficent sighed and rubbed her eyes. "Hades, let us say, for the purpose of this conversation, that I am eternally busy, and leave it at that."
Hades' hair flared orange. "Ok, wait a sec," he said. "Let's stop and think about this here. I'm a god."
Maleficent seemed unimpressed. "And?"
"And," Hades said, "I'm powerful. Like, really powerful. And I control dead people. I have fire for hair. I mean, you like fire, right? Fiery dispositions?"
"I also like a man who calls me after our first date," Maleficent said, "And doesn't wait until seven months afterwards, when he learns that another man has taken me out, to try again."
"Wha – oh, come on," Hades snapped. "I didn't know about that date!"
Maleficent rolled her eyes.
"No, seriously," Hades said, "This has nothing to do with that."
Maleficent rolled her eyes again, leaned out through the cloud of the smoke, peered around it, and waved at Jafar. "Hello, Jafar," she purred.
He grinned and waved back. "Good morning, Maleficent."
She slipped back into her proper side of the cloud of smoke. "You were saying?"
"Ok, fine," Hades grumbled. "Maybe it had something to do with your date. But, look, do you really want to go out with this schlupp? I mean, look at him." He turned the cloud to face Jafar. "He's got that ridiculous hat. And he could poke your eye out with those shoulder pads. And weren't shoulder pads so the 80s, anyway? I mean, he's not even from the 80s!"
Jafar glared at Hades, but Maleficent seemed undeterred. "While I'm flattered that you apparently think so much of me," she said, "I'd kindly ask you to leave Jafar alone. I find him perfectly handsome and charming and wicked, impressive in his demeanor, and someone who will actually commit."
"Commit?" Hades looked a little horrified, but he recovered at once. "Sweetheart, I am all about commitment," he said. "Seriously, I can commit to – lots of things. And commit lots of crimes. Commitment everywhere. You have no idea."
Maleficent sighed. "This is really very pathetic, you know," she said. "I'm sorry, but I'm really not interested. Good day."
"But – !"
Her face disappeared, and the cloud popped, dissolving in little fragments midair. Hades stared at the space it had momentarily occupied, shocked.
"Well, well, well," Jafar said smugly. "Not at your usual lady-killer standards today, are you?"
Hades turned and glared at him, slowly turning from orange to red. "It's just because you're here," he said. "If you hadn't been here, she would have been all over me. One day, Jafar, she's going to walk away from you and come to me, because, hey, I'm a god. You know, I could even pull her soul out of the river of death when she dies."
"Assuming she dies anytime in the near future," Jafar said. "She has lived an abnormally long time."
"Yeah, well, everybody except gods dies eventually, so." He shrugged. "Sorry, but eventually you all lose. Except me."
Jafar settled back in his chair. "There's an easy way to settle this, of course."
Hades raised his eyebrows. "Is there?"
"Oh yes," said Jafar. "We are surrounded by magic, powers beyond mere mortals' wildest dreams. We, sir, can look into the future."
Hades stroked his chin thoughtfully. "This is true," he conceded.
"So why don't I cast a spell that will show us – "
Hades held up his hands. "Oh, no," he said. "No way. I'm letting you cast a spell that could lie. We use the Fates."
Jafar snorted. "The Fates," he repeated, "Who are, of course, naturally on your side?"
"The Fates don't lie," Hades said. "Ever."
"Forgive me if I don't trust your word," Jafar said. "But thus far you've proven to be a remarkably undependable friend – nothing personal, I understand, it's just in our nature – but nonetheless, I have no interest in being cheated of my proper fortune."
"Ok, fine, I respect that," Hades said resignedly. "So now what? We can't use your magic, and I can't summon the Fates, so we're kind of screwed here, aren't we?"
"There must be some other way," Jafar said, frowning. "We can't be the only ones looking into the future."
"Future?" said a disembodied voice. "Gentlemen, gentlemen. I am the master of the future. I can see it all – and I can change it 'round some, too."
Both Hades and Jafar looked around. "Whoa, disembodied voice," Hades said. "Not cool. You do not break into my underground lair without my – is that a weird shadow?"
The shadow gestured, grinning widely. "Come," said the voice again. "Step into Dr. Facilier's parlor, gents, and have your fortunes told."
Hades and Jafar exchanged a glance. "Facilier?" Hades whispered.
Jafar shrugged. "Never heard of him," he said.
"Should we trust him?" Hades said.
"I highly doubt it," Jafar hissed, "Given that he appears to be a shadow on your wall."
"Oh, c'mon, boys, there's no need to be shy," said the voice. "Two fine gentlemen such as yourself – one the most powerful sorcerer in the world, and one a god – don't have nothin' to fear from the lowly likes of ol' Dr. Facilier."
They exchanged another glance. "He has a point," Hades said.
"I suppose he does," Jafar agreed, but he looked dubious.
They looked at the shadow. They looked at each other. Hades shrugged. Jafar shrugged.
"Oh, what the heck," Hades said. "Why not? Let's go, humor this guy. We can always smite him if he pulls something, right?"
Jafar nodded, a little reluctantly – but it was too late for protests. The shadow grinned, leaped out from the wall, and snatched them both. With two nearly identical howls they were gone, leaving the throne room empty and their futures most uncertain, indeed.