A/N: hi, everyone! I'd like to thank you for the reviews on chapter one of this little insanity. It had a warmer welcome than I had expected it would…
I must admit I originally only wanted to write a one-shot, but then I decided it would be too long for a one-shot, so I cut the story in two chapters. Whoever was expecting a novel-length fic might be disappointed now. But I hope you're not very disappointed. :)
Oh, and I LOVED using the 'Kuzco stops the show' element from the TV series. It was fun! :D
Kronk swallowed the lump that had risen in his throat. Did he hear her right? Did Yzma truly want to kill poor Malina and her poor little baby? Could he assist her in something this evil?
"Of course you can, you're her assistant, not Kuzco's, and why should you care about a child that is so small it can't even be seen yet?" Devil Kronk appeared on his left shoulder, madly waving with his pitchfork.
"Oh, no, you mustn't!" Angel Kronk appeared on his right shoulder, polishing his halo. "It is not nice harming a poor little baby that can't defend itself, or a poor girl who is made vulnerable by her condition! Or any girl at all! It's not gentlemanly!"
"Gentlemanly, eh!" Devil Kronk waved his hand. "Don't listen to the Angel, Kronk! Just look at him, he's wearing a stupid nightshirt! Would you listen to someone wearing a nightshirt?"
"Would you listen to someone wearing a stupid red stretch suit that makes him look like an idiot version of Superman?" Angel Kronk countered. "Let's listen to some heavenly music instead," he ran his fingers across the chords of his lute.
"What are you looking at, Kronk?" Yzma's voice made him snap out of listening to the debate between the two parts of his soul.
"Er… nothing, Yzma."
"Good. Now we only have to plot how to get rid of Malina and her little bastard child!"
"Yzma, 'bastard' truly is a rude word!" Kronk pointed out.
"Hey, Kuzco, you've got another back eye!" Kronk clasped his hands in delight the following morning. "Very pretty, do tell, how did you come by it?"
Just as Kuzco shot him a dark glance, the show halted.
"Hi," Kuzco – without black eyes – walked before the screen with a remote control in his left hand and a red marker in his right. "You might not understand what happened here, because we skipped a huge part of the show, and an important one at that, but it will all make sense if we go back earlier. So let's do that. Oh, and remember, this isn't how I normally look," he drew a circle around himself on the still frame. "The Kuzco with two black eyes isn't the Real Kuzco. The Real Kuzco is perfectly beautiful! So, where was I? Oh, yeah, the scene I actually skipped over. Let's rewind the tape." With that he pointed his remote control at the still frame until it stopped at a certain scene several hours earlier. "Now, this is what you've got to see! The most romantic moment of my whole life!" He sighed, tears welling up in his eyes, and he side-stepped, out of sight, while the scene on the screen started to play, showing Malina's room in the late afternoon.
"Well…" Kuzco ran a hand nervously across his black locks, "Chicha said we had a lot to discuss. In all honesty I haven't the faintest idea what she meant, but… I hope you're really doing better."
Malina bit into her lower lip, her cheeks colouring slightly as she nodded.
For a long moment Kuzco just stared at her, his eyes a little hazy, but didn't say a word. Malina didn't know how to break the news to him, and the awkward silence was making her more and more anxious with every passing second. Finally she burst out, "You're thinking I'm a hottie-hot-hottie again, aren't you?"
"Well, yeah…" he grinned sheepishly, as much as he of all people could be sheepish. "You're always hot, Malina. Why, you even looked hot when you were puking."
"You didn't actually get to see me puking, because Moxie stopped you from entering the girls' bathroom. By the way, you so deserved that black eye!"
The would-be emperor made a grimace. "I know I don't look particularly dashing now, but… you've got to admit that I normally do!"
It was her turn to grimace. "Sure. Just as much as you're normally meek and modest."
"Now Malina, that was below the belt!" He crossed his arms with a petulant look. "But… even if I don't look particularly dashing now, you are still hot, and whether you like it or not, I'm always going to think you are!"
"Yeah? Even when I'm as fat as a whale?" she asked challengingly.
"Why would you ever be as fat as a whale… unless Yzma turned you into one?" he arched an eyebrow at her.
"Why? Let's see," she said sarcastically, "perhaps because of the fruit of Kuzcoween's night?"
"Fruit? What fruit?" he frowned, looking around in confusion.
"For heaven's sake, you can't be this slow on the uptake, Kuzco!" she stomped her foot. "I'm pregnant!"
"You're… what?" he blinked.
"YOU'RE WHAT?" came a thundering voice from the door's direction. A voice that sounded horribly like Malina's father's.
"Hey," the black-eye-less Kuzco walked before the screen that once again held a frozen frame. "I suggest we just skip this part. Suffice to say that this is how and when I got my second black eye… from Malina's dad. He first punched me, then chased me around the table a bit, shouting that he'd crush my royal balls if I didn't marry his daughter right away… it was most humiliating," he rolled his eyes, "besides it's not a sight for kids. We might need to raise the rating to M if we showed such horrible violence, so… yeah, let's just skip it, shall we? Especially because this wasn't the romantic moment I mentioned earlier. The romantic moment came only after this, after I had shouted back to Malina's father that I would gladly marry his daughter and he stopped chasing me and bellowed that it must be done within a week. And then he left. So… let the show go on." With that he pressed the 'play' button, and the screen came alive again.
"So…" Kuzco tried to muster a smile which proved to be a hard task, given the fact that both his eyes were aching from punches and he was still gasping for breath after having been chased around the table by Malina's father. "Er… Malina…"
She gave him a piercing stare. "So, my father made you promise you'd marry me. But what makes you think that I would be willing to marry you?"
"Wouldn't you?" his eyes widened in shock. He couldn't imagine any woman who wouldn't be jumping for joy to marry a would-be emperor, especially one as handsome as he was sure he was.
"Perhaps I would, if you only approached the subject… differently," she said with a challenging edge.
Malina shook her head in disbelief. "You haven't changed a bit since I first agreed to go on a date with you! And I expect you remember what you did then?"
"Er…" he let out a nervous little laugh, "I told you that I was getting married to Princess Lalala and I was cancelling the date?"
"Yeah," she grunted. "All you cared for was finally getting a chance to leave school and sit back on the throne! I bet you're so glad to have landed me in this situation, because if I marry you, you'll get to be emperor at once! But tell you what, Kuzco, I will not marry you at all as long as it's all about you and your stupid throne and not about us and our baby!"
"You said… baby?" Kuzco's forced smile faded. It was this moment that the realisation truly struck him that Malina's being pregnant would very likely result in her giving birth to a baby. Their baby.
"Heavens, I'm DOOMED!" Kuzco screamed and fainted.
"No, kiddies, this still isn't the romantic part," black-eye-less Kuzco walked before the screen once again. "Okay, I fainted. So what? Do you have any idea what a huge responsibility it is to have a child of your own? Well, you'll find out once you're old enough! Come to think of it… I'm NOT old enough for this myself! I'm really doooooomed!" He burst into tears, but only for three seconds, then straightened his back to look as royal as possible. "Why are you looking at me like that? Haven't you seen a ruler get a nervous breakdown? Well… back to the show. The romantic part is coming, I promise! What, don't you trust me? Just because I've told a few itty-bitty little lies once in a while? Well, I'll prove to you that I haven't lied this time," and he pointed the remote control on the screen.
Kuzco was awoken by someone slapping him across the face, hard. "Ouch, that hurt!" he mumbled, his eyes still closed.
"Kuzco, I'm the one pregnant here, and you're the one losing consciousness! Aren't you ashamed?"
"Malina?" his eyes flew open and saw her looking half-furious half-worried. "Hey, you're worried about me!"
"I'm not worried about you!"
"Yes, you are," he sat up, his inner filling with some unknown warmth.
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are!"
"Kuzco, we're not in kindergarten," she sighed. "We're to talk about really… serious stuff here, so behave like a proper adult for a change!"
"Behave like a what?" he arched an eyebrow at her.
"Like a father-to-be. Shoulder some responsibility," she jabbed her index-finger at his chest.
"The only one here who should shoulder responsibility for this whole mess is Yzma!" he protested.
"This whole mess?" Malina jumped to her feet. "You're calling our child a mess? Get out! This instant! I don't want to see you, ever again!"
"Malina, Malina, calm down and let's discuss this like… what did you call it? Ah, adults, yeah!"
"I don't think there's anything left to discuss, I'm not marrying you!" she turned her back on him.
"But if you don't marry me, your father's going to rip my royal balls off! Not to mention that our baby will grow up not as a prince but as a peasant!"
"And?" she doubled back, her eyes blazing with fury. "It'll be much better for it to be a peasant than to grow up into someone like you! Someone as selfish, stuck-up, insensitive…"
"Hey, she does love me, eh?" Kuzco grinned half-heartedly before the still frame. "Sorry, let the show go on!"
"But Malina, it won't grow up to be like me if you're around to keep it in line!" Kuzco said.
"What?" she gasped in disbelief.
"It's you, Malina!" he sighed, no longer able to keep his feelings hidden or at least concealed by his facade of caring only for her looks. He had long ago started to see more in her than just her pretty face. "It's you… you who's been keeping me in line for years! I had no parents, but if our kid has a mother as wonderful as you, it won't turn out like I did!"
"Oh, Kuzco…" she sniffed, tears welling up in her eyes. "Do you really think I'm going to be a wonderful mother?"
"Well, you're surely going to be much better as a mother than I will be as a father," he replied with a bashful grin, only to be swept off his feet by Malina throwing herself on his neck and plastering her lips to his.
"Well, this is what I've been talking about," black-eye-less Kuzco grinned before the screen, then pushed the 'play' button again.
Kuzco fell on the soft llama-hide carpet and Malina ended up straddling him. "Wow," he said, licking his lips after she had ended the kiss, "this is quite a suggestive posture…"
"Oh," she reddened, sliding off him. "Sorry."
"Never be, honey. This was the best kiss I've ever received."
"Not that you've received so many," she said with a lopsided smile.
"Point taken," he admitted, pulling himself up into a sitting position. "So… are you no longer against marrying me?"
"Not particularly," she shrugged, "but I have conditions."
"Don't spare me."
"One, I finish Kuzco Academy, despite my condition. Two, I will attend Kuzford University by correspondence course to get my Master's Degree. And three, you too will finish Kuzco Academy, emperor or not. I'd die of shame to be married to someone who doesn't even have a high school diploma!"
Kuzco heaved a sigh. "Oh, all right…" He had been so hoping to have a chance to quit school and be back on the throne just by means of marriage! Then again, several months earlier when he had had the chance to marry Princess Lalala, he had rather chosen school than her. He still had pangs of remorse over having let Malina down and nearly marrying someone else for power, but perhaps he still had a chance to make his mistakes right and be an exemplary husband and father.
"Exemplary father?" Kuzco waved his hand at the screen behind him, laughing. "That guy on the screen is kind of delusional to think he'll ever be an exemplary father… What're you saying? That the guy on the screen is me? Whoops. Yeah," he added with a painful expression, "he's me. And I'll get Yzma for this some day, I swear! But let's look at the bright side of things, at least I'm getting my throne back, and I'm getting Malina for ever! Boys, admit that you're all green with envy, for this hottie-hot-hottie is mine! MINE!"
"Yeah, just don't get a big head," Malina appeared before the screen as well. "Or is it too late for that? Anyway, I have trust in your abilities to be an exemplary father, Kuzco, dear."
"You do, honey?" his eyes widened in surprise.
"Yes," she pecked him on the cheek, "you'll do just okay. Besides, my feelings have never deceived me yet, and if I love you, it means you must be at least a bit deserving of it."
"You mean… you really love me?" he gasped, then grinned into the camera. "See? I told you she did!"
Kronk wasn't paying proper attention to preparing the wedding feast. Normally putting together a feast of ten courses meant no problem for him, but currently every cell of his tiny little mind was filled with concern for his friends. Yzma had ordered him to pour the poison into Malina's drink and serve it for her at the wedding reception, also, if possible, turn Kuzco into a howler monkey at the same time. And his mind was most definitely rebelling against the thought, even his hands were trembling with suppressed emotions as he tried to fish boiled eggs out of a pot of hot water. "This just isn't fair!" he muttered, shaking with nerves and fury, and as a result, one of the boiled eggs rolled off the spoon. Kronk instinctively lunged after it, but by hastily catching the egg in midair he not only burned his fingers but also bent too far, and one of the vials slipped out of his pocket. It landed and broke on the hard marble floor of the Royal Kitchen with a resounding crash. Very typical of Yzma: even her vials tended to break menacingly!
For a moment Kronk was engulfed in lilac mist that cackled evilly (cackling mist? how very Ymzaesque, he thought with a hint of sarcasm), then the mist dissolved, leaving the unfortunate cook frozen in his bent position, still clutching at the hot egg. With a hiss of pain, he dropped the egg and ran for the basin to submerge his aching hand into cold water.
"Now look what you've done to Yzma's ingenious poison!" Devil Kronk appeared on his left shoulder. "It's all wasted!"
"Thanks heaven it is," Angel Kronk countered, "it shouldn't have been used anyway."
"But what will you tell Yzma now?" Devil Kronk asked challengingly.
"Er… I don't know," Kronk admitted.
"At least hide the vial, idiot!" Devil Kronk poked him with his pitchfork.
"Kronk, what are you muttering to yourself?" Yzma entered the kitchen, and Kronk had just in time managed to kick the broken shards of the vial under the table.
"Me? Nothing, Yzma! Just… repeating the recipe to myself so that I don't leave out an ingredient!"
"Indeed?" she gave him a dubious look. "Never mind. By this evening Kuzco's little family will be wiped out, and I will be empress!"
Kronk stared at the pot still almost full of boiled eggs and said nothing.
"What, no cheering?" Yzma put her spidery arms on her hips. "I expected a little more enthusiasm!"
"Oh, I am enthusiastic, Yzma… I'm just… too much concentrating on the feast."
"Then make sure you're ready soon, the guests are going to arrive any minute," she grunted. "By the way, have you poured the poison in Malina's drink yet?"
"Good," Yzma said, taking his 'uh' for 'yes', and marched out.
"Concentrating on the feast, eh?" Devil Kronk spat. "You're having pangs of remorse, and not because of having broken the vial, but because of what you had nearly done! I'm ashamed of you, Kronk!"
"I'm proud of you, Kronk," Angel Kronk patted him on the shoulder. "And now, let's finish the soufflé!"
"But it's not soufflé that I'm making," Kronk said, "or I wouldn't have boiled the eggs!"
"Oh, really," Angel Kronk slapped his forehead. "Sorry, egg dishes have never been my forte… but I can help you in making the dessert! Banana-split is my favourite!"
"Yzma's going to kill me for this," Kronk muttered, "but hey," he brightened, "I'll at least die a hero! Do you think Kuzco's going to raise a monument in my memory? Kronk The Great Who Saved Empress Malina, that should be its name. Brilliant!"
"Jeez, Kronk, this is inedible!" Kuzco grimaced at the tomato soup. "What happened to you, man? You used to know how to cook!"
"Er… I'm sorry," Kronk flushed, "I must have been too excited and didn't pay proper attention…"
"I think this isn't bad at all," Malina tried to smile and force down a spoonful of soup only to slap her hands on her mouth and run to a nearby flower pot to puke into. Kuzco followed her example.
"But Kuzco, you aren't even pregnant," Kronk said half-heartedly.
"I'm just… trying to imagine myself in Malina's place," Kuzco said, wiping his mouth in a lacy handkerchief.
"Oh, Kuzco, are you doing this out of sympathy for me?" Malina melted.
"Sure, honey… anything for you," Kuzco wriggled his eyebrows at her. "But… it wasn't that hard to vomit, this stuff is horrible."
"A toast to our emperor and empress!" Yzma rose to her feet, perhaps in an attempt to save her assistant from losing face. Or to gain the attention that she always sought. Or perhaps only because she was thirsty. "Kronk, serve us the drinks!"
"Riiii-iiight," Kronk gave his boss a look that he intended to be the look of a true accomplice and dashed to the sideboard for the cups.
"You know, I honestly don't know why I let you of all people cook for my wedding," Kuzco said casually, "you might as well try to poison me again…"
Kronk froze, only his eyes kept their ability of movement – they slid on Yzma, then back on Kuzco, who suddenly burst out laughing. "Just pulling your leg, old friend! After all, no one would be stupid enough to poison me on my wedding day!"
"Riiiight, no one!" Kronk unfroze and nodded vigorously. "Right, Yzma?"
"Of course," she mustered her most sickeningly sweet smile, and as soon as Kronk placed the tray before Kuzco and Malina and took a step back, she sidled to him and whispered, "which one is the one?"
"The one?" Kronk blinked. "Oh, the one! That one, on the left! Or… the one in the middle? Or… the right one?"
"Kronk!" Yzma whispered back, exasperation clearly audible in her voice despite its hushed quality.
"The one on the left," he said. "I'm sure."
"What are you whispering?" Kuzco arched an eyebrow at them. "Are you discussing the means to kill me?" As both Kronk and Yzma froze, he once again burst out laughing. "Hah, you should've seen your faces!"
"Kuzco, this isn't funny!" Malina scolded him gently. "Kronk has put so much time and effort into the wedding feast… don't make fun of him!"
"All right, sweetie, I'll be civil, just for you," Kuzco replied. "I love you."
"I love you too," Malina leaned in for a kiss.
"Bleh, they've both just vomited," Chaca commented from the other end of the table, while Kronk let out an almighty "Awwwww, how romantic!", and wiped his eyes.
Yzma used this moment to uncork a vial that held the label 'Fireworks for Diversion'. In an instant the room was filled with fireworks of all colours of the rainbow and in all shapes (ranging from llamas to grinning Yzma-heads), engaging everyone's attention an eliciting OOOOOHs and AAAAAHs from their lips. "Now, Kronk," Yzma whispered to her assistant, "pour the Howler Monkey Forever Potion into one of the remaining two cups!"
Since Kuzco and Malina were busy snogging and everyone else was watching the fireworks, Kronk poured the potion into the one in the middle, then said, "Hey, Yzma, look, isn't that your mother over there?"
"Where?" Yzma glanced in the direction Kronk had pointed.
"Jeez, sorry, I thought that one of the fireworks sparkles looked like your mom!" Kronk apologised.
"Never mind, Kronk," Yzma waved, snatching up the cup on the right. "A toast! Long live Emperor Kuzco and Empress Yz… I mean, Empress Malina!"
"Hear hear!" Kuzco raised the cup before him, "long live I! And Malina, of course," he added hastily. "Kronk, you may serve the rest of the guests something to drink too."
"Yeah, why not?"
"I must say, Sire, that you've changed a lot," the Royal Record Keeper popped up from nowhere like he always did. "The old Kuzco would never have shared his drinks with his subjects! You're amazingly generous, Sire!"
"Yes, we all know how wonderful I am," Kuzco walked before the screen with his usual remote control and red marker. "I'm generous, good-looking, heroic, good-looking, loyal and good-looking! Did I mention good-looking? Well, back to business. Did you pay proper attention to what was happening here? Did you keep your eyes on the three cups before me, Malina and Yzma? What? Are you telling me it should be Malina, Yzma and me? Oh, okay, whatever, it's my wedding day, and I'm unusually generous today! So, did you keep your eyes on the cups before Malina, Yzma and me? Even when I and Malina… I mean, Malina and I were not, because we were kissing? And even when Yzma was not, because she was looking for her mother? Did you see that Kronk swapped the middle and the right cup? These ones," he drew a circle around the cup in the middle and the one on the right. "Not this one," he scratched out the one on the left, "for this one is filled with what Yzma thinks is poison meant for Malina. Yzma would never take that one. Now, she thinks the cup in the middle holds the howler monkey potion meant for me. But she's mistaken, 'cause it's completely harmless wine just like Malina's! That Kronk guy isn't half as stupid as he looks, I might promote him to Royal Advisor, after all! Now that we've cleared things, let the show go on!"
"Are we drinking at last, or not?" Yzma interrupted the Royal Record Keeper's gushing.
"Yes, of course," Kuzco lifted the cup that stood before him, and so did Malina with the one before her. "Cheerio!"
"Cheerio!" yelped Yzma triumphantly, and downed her drink in one gulp.
For a long moment everyone stared at her, then Kuzco spoke up, "Backfiring potions, Yzma dear?"
Yzma replied something that seemed like a furious retort, but only howler-monkey-like howls escaped her mouth. Because she was a howler monkey.
"Yeah," Kuzco stopped the show, "she drank her own howler monkey potion. It's obvious that she turned into a howler monkey after drinking a howler monkey potion, eh?"
"Wow, she's a howler monkey," Chaca and Tipo whistled in admiration. "Suits her well!"
"And you know what's best about it?" Kronk grinned, rubbing his hands in delight. "It's got no antidote!"
"Yeah! No antidote!" Kuzco made a little jig in front of the screen. "Yzma's turned into a howler monkey for ever and she can't harm me anymoooooore! Sorry… where were we?"
"That's great," Kuzco the young groom said, "but please, would someone shut Yzma up? This howling gives me a royal headache!"
"Truth be told, Yzma's howling isn't the only thing that gives me a royal headache," Kuzco made a grimace at the frozen frame. "Let's wind the tape forward a bit, okay? Seven and a half months will suffice…"
"Congratulations, Sire," the Royal Midwife beamed, "you've got a beautiful little girl!"
"Great!" Kuzco boxed triumphantly into the air, only to freeze in mid-move. "Wait… did you say… a GIRL???"
"And that's not even the headache I was talking about, or only part of it," Kuzco grimaced and pushed the 'forward' button.
"I must admit I'm proud of you, Kuzco," Mr. Moleguaco said. "You have become emperor and still decided to continue your studies! For the last one and a half years you've managed to deal with all the tasks of a ruler, met the challenge of being a good husband to Malina and a caring father for Kuzcolina, and even completed your school duties! You've done well, my boy!"
"You know, I'd deserve a praise at least ten times as big as this," Kuzco jabbed a finger at the screen and stifled a yawn. "You have no idea what it's like to listen to your subjects' complaints for hours, go through the financial reports of the kingdom until your head's buzzing with data, accomplish your tiresome school tasks, satisfy your wife in bed and change your kid's diapers at three in the morning! Oh, okay, perhaps the satisfying your wife part isn't that horrible, but… I'm just one man and twenty-four hours isn't enough!" His voice was gaining a hysterical quality. "Malina insists that as long as we keep attending Kuzco Academy and leave the baby with the nurses at daytime, we at least have to take care of her after school! Do you see the dark circles under my eyes? I haven't slept a wink for weeks! It's harmful for my natural beauty! And all Mr. Moleguaco can say is 'you've done well, my boy'?
"Oh, it's nothing," Kuzco waved superciliously. "I can do everything I set my mind on. I'm the emperor, son of the Sun God, remember?"
"Well, Your Divineness, I only have one question left," Mr. Moleguaco said, his impressive eyebrows twitching with amusement, "why haven't you handed in the composition about Bucky the squirrel? It was due today."
That was the last straw that broke the llama's back. Kuzco's façade of divineness crumbled and he burst into tears, "You wouldn't believe me… but the baby ate my homework!"
A/N: remember that episode in which Kuzco claimed that a croc ate his homework, then Yzma turned Kronk into a llama and made him truly eat Kuzco's homework? I couldn't resist to re-use that pun. XD
And now, after this little foray into craziness, I feel it's time for me to return to more serious fanfic themes. Temeraire fans: beware, for AgiVega is currently writing a new, multi-chaptered Laurence/Emily fanfic that is at least as dark as Like Mother, Like Daughter, if not darker. And it's EVIL. :P
Reviews would be much appreciated!