edit: i fixed Eugene's last name it was really bothering me that i spelled it wrong. gah. i think i caught it all.

a/n: so. it wasn't supposed to be long. but i love this movie. anyway, if you read, please review :) i love to hear feedback.

"Best. Day. EVER!"

It's a sad day when Flynn Rider is playing chaperone to some girl with freakishly long hair; the thought of it makes him cringe inside, and he thinks darkly about his carefully molded, sculpted reputation and how this whole incident would shoot it all to hell in a manner of seconds. Blondie takes another swing around the tree he's standing under, and he allows, for one brief moment, himself to marvel at her hair because it's just so long and he's tempted to ask if swinging from it hurts but remembers his reputation and his mind races forwards, backwards, and in between, trying to formulate some plan.

How to ditch the blonde?

He finally gets her away from the tree, not even really paying attention to where they are headed, or the girl, for that matter, until she has to take yet another break to sob about leaving her mother. He sees his opening and takes it, spewing out some nonsense about how this whole incident is just part of growing up, even if she was sacrificing a bond of mother and daughter built on trust and what not—

He adds a little in there about the girl crushing her mother's soul like a grape. As he says it, he plucks a berry from the tangled depths of the girl's hair and squishes it between his thumb and forefinger, ignoring the juice as it spreads, sticky, over his hands.

He thinks he almost has her in his grasp until she staggers backwards and refuses, point blank, to return to the tower and though disappointment is welling up inside him, unstoppable as he thinks of the crown lying somewhere in that stupid place, he can't help but have a little respect for her fortitude.

Just a little, mind. There was no way Blondie was going to be getting to him, nu-uh. He was Flynn Rider, and Flynn Rider had to be strong and confident and smooth, and that hardly happened when you were leading some girl on a joy-ride down to the Capital. He helps her to her feet and together they set off again, that damn lizard looking at him like he's some kind of murderer (thief, he wants to point out, there's a difference). Coming to a dirt sort of path in the road, he realizes that a certain tavern he used to frequent is just up this way, as they had made it out of the forest, and a new plan, perfect and infallible, is forming in his mind.

"I know a great place," he says to her, watching those eyes, large and trusting, peer up at him and ignoring the twisting in his gut, "really tame, Blondie, and if you can't handle it there, then, well, its probably best if you go home…"

He wishes his smolder was working. It would make things so much easier.

They come upon the sign in the road marking the bar. Old, wood, the grain showing clearly and the paint peeling, The Snuggly Duckling looming out of the dark mahogany, he looks up to find the establishment sitting before him on the path. It looks like its being devoured by a tree, all bent over and breaking under the weight, but he can't continue his observation because Blondie is saying, "Well, I do love ducklings…" only she doesn't sound all that sure.


"Yay!" he leans forward a bit and brings his arms upwards in excitement, feeling hopeful and happy at the prospect of once again becoming Flynn Rider Number One Thief and not Flynn Rider Number One Babysitter.

The door slams open easily. "Garcon! Your finest table please!"

Blondie squeals and clutches her cast iron weapon frying pan to her chest as twenty pairs of grubby, greedy eyes look her way. He pushes her in, dreaming of jewels and fame and fortune (fortune and glory, kid, fortune and glory) and saying, "You smell that? It's part man-smell, and the other part is really bad man-smell, but overall it just smells like the color brown. Your thoughts?"

"That's a lot of hair." A deep voice remarks from behind him and she squeals more loudly than before, racking up her hair and pushing forward.

"She's growing it out." Flynn Rider, smooth and suave and happy that his plan was going perfectly, says, pretending to examine the speaker's mustache in greater detail. "What—is that—is that blood in your mustache? Hey Blondie! Look at all this blood in his mustache!"

"Is this you?" another of the thugs speaks from the front of the bar, slamming the door shut to reveal a badly drawn poster of himself, declaring WANTED in loud letters. His stomach drops a few feet and he silently curses himself for counting the chickens or the eggs or jewels or whatever before they hatched because things are suddenly not looking so good.

Only at times like these does he wish he was not Flynn Rider.

But what do you know—Blondie's hair is actually good for something, and his nose is saved from breaking. And she's got a dream, too.

A dream that makes his own sound even more petty, selfish, and hard-hearted than it already is.

She just wants to see the lanterns? Really? That's all?

And as the passage opens up beneath them and he is told, once again, that his dream sucks, and he hears, behind him, the commotion of the thugs trying to delay the guards, he thinks that this is no ordinary girl standing beside him (as if the hair didn't give it away).

The tunnel is long and dark, except for the bobbing lantern that he's carrying, and about halfway down he finally says, "You were pretty good back there, Blondie."

A Flynn Rider complement. The best kind.

"I know." She sounds excited and proud and then suddenly realizes that she also sounds far from humble and tries to cover up her faux pas by saying a little more nonchalantly, "I mean, I know."

And for the first time all trip he smiles—really smiles at this strange person standing next to him, and a traitorous thought is starting to poke at the recesses of his dark and dangerous mind. Just don't be Flynn Rider for a few days. See how this goes. Take a break form adventures. Be someone normal. Not wanted by the law…too much.

He's trying to distract himself from this by getting more back story out of Blondie, who is remaining extremely tight-lipped, when he hears the pounding.

Thudthudthudthud then, "RIDER!"

"Time to go." She's grabbing up her hair and in a few moments they are running, her bare feet slapping painfully against the stone as they push forward. The sunlight, when it comes, hits him hard and he blinks but continues forward, stopping only at the edge of a steep drop off with no bridge in sight. He looks back at the tunnel entrance, but sees no way it can be blocked.

Half of him wonders about his asinine plan of this morning, and how it all went wrong, but a shout, "RIDER!" again but from down below and not up above grabs his attention and he glances at the Stabbington brothers as they escape the darkness.

They are looking up at him with murder in their eyes and he can't help but acknowledge that at times like these, too, he regrets being Flynn Rider.

"Who's that?" Blondie asks and he is short in responding because he's too busy looking for an escape.

"They don't like me."

The guards pound out of the cave behind them, brandishing swords and shouting.

"Who's that?"

He flinches.

"They don't like me."

The stupid horse pounds out after them.

"Who's that?

"Let's just assume for the moment that everyone here doesn't like me!" He accentuates the last three words with hand gestures, absorbed in creating a plan, so much so that he doesn't notice as Blondie takes matters into her own hands and swings her hair forward, like a whip. It catches the rigging of the dam and she swings forward onto a relatively safe platform.

He quickly grabs up her frying pan that she left behind and it connects with steel as he faces off against the wave of guards. One by one he knocks them out, and, looking in awe at the weapon in his hand, he exclaims, "Oh mama, I have got to get me one of these!"

But the horse. The damn horse. It comes forward and is attacking him, like something possessed, and he's meeting blow for blow with the frying pan but his grips catches and it's knocked out of his hand to the bottom of the canyon below. "Best two out of three?" he tries vainly in his best appeasing manner.


He doesn't see her, just feels her as her hair wraps around his outstretched hand and he is pulled away from everything, swinging above the canyon. "Ha ha!" he laughs heroically, or in a way that he at least thinks is heroically, and still cannot believe the absurdity of the situation—just yesterday he had been lying in some bar, waiting to meet up with the Brothers Grim down there for a little heist gig, and now he was swinging from seventy feet of gold hair—"You should see the looks on your fac—"

He slams into the rigging and the wind and bravado are knocked out of him. It doesn't really matter, now, though, because that stupid horse has kicked down one of the support poles to the dam and the whole thing is bulging outward. In a rush of noise and water it bursts open, sweeping away the guards and the beast and then the brothers.

And almost them. But not quite. Because he is Flynn Rider and badass is his middle name and of course he (they) would make it out alive.

Or so he thinks until he's stuck in that dark little cave. The water is cold. It's rushing in, at his waist now, and he dives into the blackness looking for someway to escape.

And here, he thinks, after the third failed attempt, is where Flynn Rider finally meets his end.

Blondie is distraught. She holds her breath and dives down and he doesn't know what possesses him to grasp her by the shoulders and hoist her quickly to her feet but he does. She's soaked through, her hair limp. Her eyes are red-rimmed, and he wants to say her name but it chokes up somewhere in his throat.

"Hey, hey," he reaches to brush a strand of loose hair from her face, realizes what he's doing, and backs off, "it's no use, it's too dark."

"I'm sorry Flynn," she's rubbing at her eyes, voice breaking, "this is all my fault. I'm so sorry."

"Eugene." And why, why the hell does he say this? He wants to pound his head against the stone behind him but his cut from the slippery rock wall is already stinging and he doesn't want a headache to go along with it. "Eugene Fitzherbert."

"What?" that shocks her out of sadness. That's good.

"That's my real name." He attempts the smolder but it just comes out wet. He is surprised when she doesn't laugh. After a moment's pause:

"I have magic hair that glows when I sing."

He kind of chokes on his breath but can't afford to as the water is rising past his nose and Blondie is singing something and he doesn't know what it is—

The water encloses him. He opens his eyes to black. Black. Black. Gold. Gold. Her has is gold and shining and bright.

As he lies afterwards, wet on the river bank, hand aching, head reeling, the damn lizard looking knowingly at him, he wonders just who this girl really is.

"So, Eugene Fitzherbert, huh?" She says later, when they had made camp and her freakishly glowing hair had healed his hand.

And he doesn't know why, but he starts telling her about himself. Because...well, she seems genuinely interested. And the crown, in the dark of the night with the fire crackling and her eager eyes upon him, suddenly seems infinitely less important.

It's a sad day when Flynn Rider voluntarily walks through the front doors of the Capital. Guards are scarce though, on the streets at least, and he can't help but think that the look on Rapunzel's face is worth it as she steps into a square filled with purple and gold.

Damn. The horse knows something. The enemy-turned-one-day-ally sneaks him a sly look (he swears) as he watches the girl step lightly with her newly braided hair, all bound up and off the ground for the first time.

(What had his plan been again? Whatever.)

She smiles and looks at him and something tugs in his chest. He tries to ignore it, but it's hard in the face of her glowing happiness as she pulls him from food stand to food stand to library to square to alcove to square. Yesterday she had faced down palace guards and the Stabbington brothers no problem, and today she looked like a kid, wide-eyed and wondering.

And then she starts to dance. And the little traitorous thought that he had yesterday comes back full force, breaks through his mental barriers where he was trying to keep it contained and says I need to make this day perfect. For her.

He can't reflect on it too much, though, because despite his full arms (some bread and cheese, he thinks, by the look of it, but isn't quite sure—Capital food varies from the local variety) she pulls him into the frenzy of dancing bodies that she started, where everyone is swinging back and around and forward and he's looking for her because even though he doesn't dance he wouldn't mind dancing with her and the music is getting faster and the people are spinning dizzily and every time she spins closer she is just a little bit out of reach until finally—

The music stops, but he's too busy memorizing the feeling of her hand in his own, and he's aware of her heavy breathing, they are so close.

It's a sad day when Flynn Rider goes this ga-ga over a girl. But this girl was different. Even he had to admit that.

Night is coming, but he can tell it's coming too slowly for Rapunzel's taste. He finally pulls her down a few side streets, recalling the layout form his earlier days as an orphan in the place. He locates the dock easily, and, sure enough, the boat he rented (yes, he didn't steal it) is sitting placidly on the still water.

He helps her in. Following after, he throws Maximus a bag of apples. The horse eyes them warily. As he paddles away, partly to distract himself from Rapunzel, who is looking anxiously at him, and partly to distract himself from his nerves, he shouts back, "Don't worry, I bought them."

He waits for the first crunch of apple.

"Most of them."

He holds his palm open for her, a dozen flowers from her hair resting inside. She plucks another one out and settles it in the water, next to a few others. The lake is deserted, except for the large shipping boats closer to shore. Behind him, through the growing fog, he can just make out the forest they had escaped from only yesterday.

He doesn't notice the first light, mostly because he's trying to look at her face and figure out this feeling in his stomach, but it's not working too well. She does, though, and the boat is suddenly tipping and rocking and rolling as she staggers to her feet and jumps towards the prow, hanging on as the boat tips sideways, eyes glued on the single light that is pulsating its way through the darkness high above them.

It takes a few seconds for the boat to stop moving. He finally relaxes his hand on the sides. He can only make out her back, but it's taunt with excitement as, just as slowly as the first lantern, fifty, a hundred, a thousand more fill the night air with their soft glow.

He wonders what she's thinking. This was her dream, after all.

They float softly upward, but their metal framework pulls them down towards the shoreline. From the shipping boats a hundred more are released, and soon they are surrounded by a soft, orange glow.

She's still hugging the boat. He wishes she would turn around.

She glances quickly back at him once, her expression unreadable, but he knows his (new, spur of the moment) plan is working when she turns her head back again to stare at him in awe.

Success. To…whatever his plan had actually been, anyway.

The lanterns aren't hot as he gingerly places one in her hand. Together they push the objects, against very little resistance, into the night sky, and he watches them fade upward until they are lost in the crowd.

And suddenly everything clicks. Beneath these lights, he sees it all, for the first time—

The tug in his chest, the want to see her smile, to be near her, to get to know the amazing person that was her—

And she seems to have changed too, because her green eyes are wide and anxious, a different kind than before. Her hands slip into his.

The lanterns are starting to leave.

She moves closer, beautiful and shining in the starlight.

They are only fifty or so floating back up around them.

She's so close. So close. And he wants to move closer.

The orange glow is gone, replaced by green.

Her lips, inches from his own—


He peels back from the kiss suddenly, dread forming in the pit of his stomach, and sure enough on the distance shoreline a green lantern, cold and unwelcome after the orange glow, outlines one of the large Stabbington brothers.

The crown. She had given him back the crown when he had given her the lanterns. It was what they wanted. All he had to do was give it to them. And they would leave him alone.

They wouldn't hurt him if he did that, right? He'd be back to Rapunzel in no time.

He tries to ignore her questioning look as he steers the boat to shore.

When he wakes up his hands are bound tightly to the wheel of a small ship, and his whole body hurts. He remembers, faintly, getting thrown to the ground and punched and picked up and thrown again but he can't seem to care at the moment, because as he opens his eyes further, the sight of the old harbor coming into view, guards shouting somewhere up ahead, he can only think of Rapunzel.

They were going to go after Rapunzel. They knew about her hair.

He starts shouting her name. The ropes are tight and chaff his wrists, and before he can make a daring escape the guards are on him. With finality he does not care for they shackle and bind him, leading him off the boat and up the causeway. His heart is pounding out an irregular rhythm rapunzelrapunzelrapunzel and his stomach is twisted in knots.

He had to get away from this. He had to go save her. But Flynn Rider couldn't escape this.

But then, he wasn't Flynn Rider, was he? He was Eugene Fitzherbert.

And Eugene Fitzherbert had something to fight for.

The cell is small. He's paced it nearly fifty times when the guard finally comes and the bars swing backwards.

"Let's get this over with, Rider."

He doesn't really know where they are going to take him until they pass a barred window and the gallows are suddenly, painfully visible, and he doesn't think his stomach can twist into any more knots but it does.

Suddenly he can't think about his imminent death because his vision is clouded with shades of red. He slams quickly into the guard next to him, swings back into the one on the other side, and jumps over his bound hands. Rushing at the cell holding the Stabbington brothers, he grabs the nearest one by the collar and yanks him upward.

"Where is she? What have you done with her?"

His voice is a hiss and something in his face scares the man for he tries to pull out of the vice-like grip.

"I don't know—I don't—it wasn't us, it was the old lady!"

"Old lady…?" He drops the brother onto the floor. "Gothel."

He thinks he understands now. That witch. Rapunzel's hair. Her 'mother' must have been out of her mind with worry when Rapunzel left. Because she must have been using her hair. Which means she would have done anything to get it back. And keep it.

Which also means that, just as Rapunzel's life was beginning, it was going to end, locked forever in a tower.

The gallows loom threatening on one side, and on the other, through immeasurable stone and buildings, he can sense the forest.

"Let down your hair!"

His voice is desperate. He can't quite believe the luck he's had for the past hour, but it'll all be for nothing if that window doesn't open. He thinks he might be too late.

It finally unlocks and he lets out a breath he didn't even know he was holding. A cascade of gold flies down and he can't even feel the normal awe at it—he's too busy grabbing hold and using it to climb, climb, climb.

He reaches the window and starts to say something, perhaps an explanation or an excuse or just a statement of relief, but as he steps into her room he notices several things at once.

She's chained on the floor.

The mirror is broken.

And something sharp and biting just slid between his ribs.

He gasps a little, trying to ignore the look on her face as she struggles forward. He's been punched and kicked and beaten up but has normally avoided the bite of the blade. Damn, it hurts—

He tries to keep up on his feet, but he thinks that it punctured something important because his vision is already getting fuzzy. He collapses onto the floor, but can't seem to care about what this would do for his reputation. He's Eugene Fitzhubert, after all.

Gothel is saying something. He tries to focus through the haze of pain.

"…just let me heal him." No. No Rapunzel, no. Damn it, why won't his mouth work? "Just let me heal him, and I'll go with you. I won't fight you. But if you don't let me, I'll fight you every day for the rest of my life."

He wishes he had a plan. For the second time that day he feels shackles on his wrist and he watches as Rapunzel lightly steps over to him. His hand moves to cover his wound in some stupid attempt to fend her off, and he feels the blood, sticky and wet. He's losing it, and fast.

"Shh," her hands are on his face, "shh, everything's going to be alright, you'll see."

"No, Rapunzel," his voice is a wheeze. Very un-Flynn-like, "you can't. No."

"Yes. Shh," her hands move to the wound and she flinches visibly, and he commends her silently for holding in tears.

His hand, on the floor now, hits something cool and smooth. A piece of the mirror. And everything falls into place.

"Rapunzel, wait," it takes all his energy but he lifts his hand to the back of her neck, pulls her down, and those lips, those stupid, dumb, beautiful lips are so close for the second time, and he wants to kiss her, but knows that he can't—if he does he'll loose his resolve. He'll want to stay there, kissing her forever.

Instead, he gently pulls her hair back from her face.

And moves the jagged mirror piece.

It's a sad day when Flynn Rider goes ga-ga over some girl, but lying there in labored breathing, heart racing, blood pounding agony he knows immediately that he would do it all again if he had to.

It all fades to black.