AN: Hi everyone! This one was inspired by the song 'Favorite Things.' I hope you like it! Any reviews and suggestions are welcome!
Disclaimer: I do not own Tangled nor do I own the song 'Favorite Things'. Disney owns Tangled, and the song is from the movie "The Sound of Music".
Slinking through the shadows, Flynn Rider couldn't help the tingle that stole through him at the thought of his fifth favorite thing, or rather, activity: stealing.
It was a thrill like no other, sneaking through the darkness, stalking his chosen target like one of the mythical cats he had heard about as a child. But he was nothing like the majestic lion, whose roar was said to awaken the deaf, or the regal tiger, its flaming pelt the last thing many were suppose to have seen before entering the bitter embrace of death. No, tonight, he was like the black panther, with a heart darker then its fur.
Reaching the fortress, Flynn drew back to study the first obstacle he would have to overcome, protected from sight by the twisted tress that grew right up to the wall's edge. Security had doubled since his visit the other night, no doubt in an attempt to foil his mission. But the kingdom only had so many soldiers, and soon he had spotted a weakness in the defenses. A young boy, probably no more then fifteen, was standing at the south corner, his armor a few sizes too big for him. For the seventh time in half as many minutes, Flynn watched as he pushed his helmet off of his eyes, only for it to fall again a few moments later.
Adjusting his position so that he was directly facing the child, his hand traveled to the bag he had around his waist. It was an oversize satchel, much larger then one he normally would have used, but not nearly large enough for this heist. Pulling out a hooked rope, Flynn waited for the boy to once more be preoccupied with his hat to throw it, cursing as it fell short. Pulling it swiftly back towards him, Flynn froze, his keen eyes waiting for the perfect moment to let the tool fly. Smiling as the hook caught and held, he swung himself up the wall, landing in a crouch right behind the unaware child. For a moment he considered saying something before disappearing down the other side of the wall into the courtyard, but quickly decided against it. No need to frighten the boy, and while it would make his job more fun, it would also become that much more dangerous.
Dropping cat like to the ground on the other side of the wall, Flynn could have laughed at how pitiful the defenses were, were it not for the proximity of the guards he had left behind. Rolling forward so he was shielded by the pillars, he waited as the ground guards sauntered past, secure in their false knowledge that no one could get over their wall, before standing to his full height, falling into step with the two oblivious men. Mimicking their movements, he followed them through the how familiar halls, hiding just in time to keep from being caught by them when they turned, the feeling that they were being followed, which they were, turning the hardened men into jumpy children. Closing the distance between them, Flynn breathed on their necks before dashing down the corridor he needed, stifling his laughter as their howls of fear rang through the castle.
Said laughter died in his throat as the vault came into sight, its ghostly guards turning to face him as his smell drifted towards them. Although Corona could claim that it held the most magic out of all the kingdoms, to state that it was the most powerful place that could harness the power that welled up through the land would be a lie. Many kingdoms dabbled in magic far stronger then the King and Queen of his homeland allowed, and Flynn couldn't help but be grateful for those restrictions as he stared as his newest obstacle.
The spirits of the dead were frightful things to begin with, but when they were eying you with their empty sockets, their bare skulls grinning with the anticipation of a meal of flesh, even the bravest men would slink away to hide in the nearest hole, praying to the sun that the night would end. Only a fool would dare continue towards their presence. Well, at least Flynn knew where he stood.
Reaching his hand into the bag hanging from his waist, he drew out a small charm, a lock of hair that was suppose to protect him from all things supernatural. While he couldn't help but doubt the charm's powers, he still continued forward, hoping that, should it fail, his death would at least be quick.
To his surprise the creatures drew back, the ghosts of the animals fleeing while the humans hissed, the hair on the back of his neck standing as the snake like sound reverberated through the air, doubling back on itself to rise into a deafening crescendo. But despite the warning, Flynn continued on and the creatures withdrew, plastering themselves to the walls as he passed, their sockets focused solely on the charm grasped in his hand.
Reaching the door, Flynn carefully scattered some of the hair around him, creating a barrier between his back and the undead. Storing the rest of it in his chest pocket, he pressed his ear against the steel door, searching for any signs of life within. Letting out sign of his own at the lack of sound, he quickly set to work on opening the door. There was not a lock in the world he could not open, and within a few moments the last barrier between him and his prize was gone.
It would surprise many people to find that, while he did like it a lot, gold was not Flynn's favorite thing. In fact, it was only fourth on his list of things and activities that pleased him. For him, although money had always played a large part in his dream of owning his own private island, it had been, for the most part, nothing more then a means to an end. It wasn't even the money that he truly wanted. With money came influence, with influence came power. He had wanted that power, the power to change whatever he wanted so it better suited him, a sure fire guard between him and the poverty he had experienced as a child. And this heist was going to help him get the power that he wanted, though of a slightly different kind.
Stepping forward, his eyes quickly adjusting to the bright light that spilled from the lanterns the king had left in the room, he once more couldn't help but gasp at the richest that filled the smallest treasury in the kingdom. Of course, he had heard the rumors about the king's new daughter-in-law, one that could spin an entire room of hay into gold thread in a single night. But until a few weeks ago, he hadn't thought that there could be any truth in the claim. Magic, yeah, he believed in it, but not miracles, which is exactly what this was. But now, seeing it again, knowing that there were four other chambers, all much larger then the one he was in now, filled to the brim with spool after spool of glittering yarn, he had to admit that, really, anything was possible.
Untying the bag from his belt, Flynn made his way over to the nearest pile, stuffing his bag full to the brim, each spool a small fortune in and of itself. Letting out an unrestrained chuckled, Flynn stood back up to his tallest height, wishing for a moment he could stay until morning. The king was a greedy old fool, exploiting his daughter's talents to line his own pockets, leaving his subjects to fend for themselves. Every morning, he himself would travel to the five different storage rooms to count the number of spools. And, although he hadn't been there to see it, apparently the king had turned a quite interesting color when he first realized that some were missing. After that, he had increased the number of defenses, trying to make Flynn's job just that much harder.
Of course, it really didn't work that well. Gold was on Flynn's favorite things list, and nothing could keep him from what was on it.
Turning back to the door, the satchel heavy with the golden thread, Flynn happily walked through the door, nodding towards the ghosts in his typical Rider way. Reaching the end of the hall, he was just beginning to wonder why everything had gone so easily, gone so well, when one of the ghost dogs began to howl.
It was a chilling sound, rising from a low bass, so deep he could feel it in his heart, to a high pitched whine, to high for him to hear, though his body could sense it. It surrounded him in an iron like grasp of fear, his body frozen in horror. Although the foul creature hadn't moved an inch, Flynn could feel its teeth sinking into his flesh, phantom mouths burrowing their way straight into his soul. Far in the distance, in some remote part of the castle, the sound of shattering glass reached him, breaking through the sound of the dogs cries just enough to unfreeze him.
He ran. Like a rabbit with hell hounds on his feet, Flynn flew through the corridors, not caring that each guard he passed was sounding the alarm, that a hoard of them had gathered behind him, their heavy armor slowing them just enough for him to avoid them. Rounding a corner, Flynn cursed himself as the wall rose before him, the steps guarded by the same brutes he had evaded just a half hour ago. He hadn't expected the dead to be against him as well as the living. The charm had just been a precaution, when really he had expected to be able to waltz right out, once more retreating into darkness without a single soul knowing he was there until morning.
So much for that plan.
Skidding to a halt, the guards closing in on him, Flynn did the only thing he could do. He fought. Wrapping the rope around his wrist, Flynn began to swing his bag around him, the heavy satchel quickly building up speed as the guards drew closer. Stopping just outside his reach, he watched as they drew their swords, lowering them so they were all pointed at his neck. Doing some quick calculations, Flynn figured there were at least a couple dozen guards around him, just waiting for the honor of stabbing him like a pin cushion.
His signature smirk crossing his features, Flynn raised his empty hand and beckoned to the guards. Come and get me.
Within moments, all was chaos.
Ducking below the swords as they swung towards where his head had once been, Flynn bashed the helmet of the closest guard with his makeshift mace, leaving a sizable dent in the metal as he dropped like a stone. Twisting about, only just avoiding a sword to the kidney, he dove into fray, swinging his loot into every opening he could find, the rope and bag of yarn becoming just as deadly in his hands as any sword. Punching a guy in the face, Flynn made a break for the wall, sprinting across the grounds pursuit free as the men scrambled to separate themselves from the massive pile up the battle had become.
Reaching the stairs, Flynn flew up them, his practiced feet keeping him from falling to his death below, the swords killing him if he didn't break his neck on the stones first. Reaching the top, he was just about slide down the rope when a sword pressed itself to the flesh on the back of his neck, the cool steel just biting through the skin.
"Don't move." Although the sword was steady, its owner's voice shook badly, his teeth rattling together from either fear or excitement. Dropping the rope, Flynn froze, deciding that, while it would be in his nature to make a snide comment about the cliché phrase, it was in his better interest to do as the voice said.
"When I say so, I want you to turn around slowly, hands where I can see them." Raising his hands above his head, the bag swaying gently in the breeze, Flynn turned to face his captor, almost laughing as he watched the kid's helmet fall over his eyes.
"You're the kid from before, the one I decided not to kill." Dropping his hands, Flynn leaned against the turret, watching as his lie wreaked havoc on the boy's emotions. Before his eyes the boy began to fall apart, his sword shaking almost harder then his voice, which had risen a couple of octaves.
"Kill me," he squeaked, his eyes widening at the though. "You were going to kill me?"
"Of course. You were in the way when I was coming up. Good think I have a soft heart for kids." Inspecting his nails, Flynn didn't stop the smirk. The boy had dropped his sword, his face an interesting green color, turning to run away just as other guards appeared behind him. Stumbling into the group, he winced as they fell back down the stairs, the deafening clatter of steel on stone grating at his nerves.
"Thanks kid." With a laugh Flynn grabbed the rope, scaling down the side of the wall to disappear into the depths of the forest long before the guards reached the top again, his laughter taunting them even as the sound of it faded away.
Making his way through the woods, Flynn quickly came upon the capital city, if the decrepit collection of lean-tos could be called that. Making his way to the least ramshackle residence, he gently knocked on the door, the sound of shuffling feet quickly meeting his ears. The door was soon opened by a young girl, revealing a barren room that seemed devoid of life.
"We thought that something had gone wrong. Are you okay?" Flynn smiled at the girl's concern, reaching out to ruffle her hair with his free hand.
"Just got a bit caught up is all." Nodding, the girl quickly scurried away, returning a few moments later with a plate of steaming food.
"Mommy told me to give you this when you got back," she told him proudly, puffing out her chest as he sat to eat. "Daddy said that you were helping us all, what with your stealing and everything. Are you?" Her pride was quickly replaced with curiosity, her eyes gazing at him with wonder.
"Daddy says that, because you steal from the King, he's too obsessed with catching you to wage war on the other kingdoms. This way, no one has to die. Is it true?" Putting down the bread he had been about to eat, Flynn let out a sigh, slowly shaking his head in wonder at the speed which the child could talk.
"Kid, I'm just doing my best to keep myself alive. If I stop a war or two, well then so be it." Frowning at her disappointed look, Flynn reached into his sack and pulled out one of the spools, watching as her eyes widened at the sight of the gleaming thread.
"Give this to your parents for me, will you? I have to leave in the morning before they get up, and I need to be sure that they'll still take me in when I come back. Can I trust you with this?" Smiling at her exuberant response, Flynn pressed the treasure into her hand before waving her away to bed, leaving him in peace for the first time tonight. His adrenaline rush wearing off, it was becoming hard to keep his eyes open, much less deal with overactive children who were up way past their bedtime.
Devouring the food, barley aware of the presence of his third favorite thing, Flynn forced himself up the stairs and into the bed his hosts had prepared for him. Glancing around, he carefully lifted the floorboard besides the mattress, placing his satchel next to the six others already stashed there. More then enough to buy an entire country, Flynn couldn't help but smile as he replaced the board. He had plans for the money, big plans beyond anything he had ever used his stolen goods for before. Settling down, it was not long before he was taking part in his second favorite activity, sleep.
The next morning he was up long before dawn, his room vacated and the bags of gold thread tied to the saddle of the horse he had bought the first day he had arrived. Galloping through the forests that covered most of the country, avoiding the roads at all costs, it was a surprisingly easy ride. Through the cover of the trees he could see guards stationed every few miles, checkpoints where all travelers were searched for any sign of the stolen goods. Others wandered through the woods, traveling in groups large enough to take on even the most experienced of thugs. It was their love of patterns and organization that failed them though, for it was beyond simple, after a few minutes of watching each group, for Flynn to find and slip through their weak spots, continuing on his way with the same chances of getting caught that a caterpillar had of defeating a bird in combat.
for three days he traveled this way, constantly on the look out for pursuit, spending the nights asleep in a tree a couple of yards away from where he would tie his horse, hoping that the guard's incompetence would alert him long before they could find him. It was with great relief that he reached the Coronian boarder, safe to leave the twisting confines of the forest for the roads. Realizing that it was no longer trapped by the dangerous roots and the twisting trails, the horse took off, eager to release it's energy after days of holding back, unable to run for fear of breaking a leg or losing its rider. Truly laughing for the first time in days, Flynn let go of the reigns, allowing the horse to fly. Leaning in, urging it to go faster, as fast as it could, Flynn could feel the stress leaving his body as they left behind that horrible country and its cruel king. All thoughts were erased from his mind by the wind as it whistled around him, drowning out his worries and concerns.
He was at peace, for he was home.
After entering Corona, it didn't take long for him to arrive at his first destination, though it was later then he had expected. For once thanking the Sun that it was a small country, he leapt off the horse and strode towards the door, knocking loud enough to be heard over the noise of the orphanage that still permeated the area even with the late hour. For a single moment, longer then he had thought possible, silence surrounded the large, newly restored building until, with a roar loud enough scare a lion, the door swung open to release the wave of children.
Within seconds he was covered, children hanging from every hand hold they could find. Kneeling so none of them would fall, he quickly began answering their questions about where he had been, making up stories to explain the things he couldn't tell them, like where exactly he had been and why. Soon, tired with his vague answers, they turned to his horse, climbing over the creature before forcing it into a game tag, pulling off the bags to lighten its load. Still sitting where they had left him, his lap occupied by the youngest of the orphans, a little girl barley old enough to walk that he had been forced to grab to keep her out of the game, which was sure to get rough, he almost missed the older woman as she sat next to him, a soft smile on her face as she watched her wards. Turning his head just in time to catch her grinning at him, Flynn smiled back before leaning over to place a kiss on her cheek, that same knowing look that she had warn for most of his childhood never leaving her eyes.
"Hi Mom," he sighed, returning his gaze to the playing children. Although she was not his real mother, she was the closest thing to one he had, and had earned that title long ago.
"You're late," was her only reply, her smile turning into a smirk at the exasperated look that passed over his face. Waving away his attempts to explain, she reached over and gently took the child from him, her natural motherly aura quickly putting the girl to sleep.
"This old woman is just giving you a hard time. You might be able to lie to your brothers and sisters, but you can never lie to the woman that raised you. I know what you are doing, and while I hate the idea of you stealing again, I know it's for a good cause." Leaning over so her head was resting on his shoulder, she let out a content sigh. "It's good to have you home again, even if it's just in the same country."
"I'm glad too Mom. I'm glad too." For a while they just sat there, watching as the sky darkened while the children played, game after game blurring together until they had become indistinguishable from each other, each orphan playing by his or her own rules. Finally, as the last of the light faded from the sky, leaving only stars and a half filled moon to light the clearing, the matron of the orphanage stood, her voice rising over the pandemonium that had broken out with the falling of night.
"All right, everyone inside. When I can't see who's hitting who with the stick, it's time for bed." Ignoring the chorus of groans that answered her proclamation, she waited until the last of the children had entered the building, handing off the girl she was holding to one of the older ones to be put to bed, before turning towards Flynn. Blinking in surprise, she watched as he placed the bags he had grabbed at her feet, the wooden spools knocking against each other into a slight orchestra of clattering.
"I know you hate me stealing, but there's enough here that none of the children will ever have to want for anything. You'll be able to get them all into good apprenticeships and there's more then enough to pay any bride price or dowry that you'll need to, when it gets to that." Bending over, the matron swiftly untied the closest bag, gasping as she raised one of the spools into the light, the gold thread glittering like a candle in her hand. Turning, she wasn't surprised to see Flynn on the horse, ready to once more return to his journey.
"Bye Mom. We'll come visit soon, I promise. Love you." Leaning over the side of the horse to give her one more hug, Flynn was soon gone, the words he had thrown over his shoulder as he left quickly fading.
"And you're not old!"
It was morning again by the time Flynn reached the capital, five days after he had first left to return home. The city was just waking up, sleepy parents sending equally tired children out to begin their chores while they got breakfast started, storekeepers opening the windows to let the sun creep in, burning away the last of the night shadows.
No matter how tired they were though, as soon as someone saw him they perked up, their eyes following him with the same look a person would give their personal hero. Had it not been so early, Flynn was sure people would have started cheering, but as it was they settled for coming up to him, reaching out to shake his hand or to question him about how his mission had gone. Without missing a beat he would respond to the questions, shaking the hands offered to him while at the same time reassuring them. They were his people, the people he had sworn to protect when he had agreed to the task set to him by the King.
Reaching the castle gates, the guards quickly admitted him into the courtyard, where a group of servants were waiting for him. Ordering that a bath be prepared, he swiftly rattled off the details of his mission to the scribe that had been with them as they walked to the stables, Flynn determined that the horse that had put up with almost constant travel the past couple of days was well rewarded. He had barley entered the building, though, when a white wall of muscle rammed into him, throwing him into a pile of hay.
Spitting out the pieces that had found their way into his mouth, Flynn stumbled to his feet, only to be met with a hoof to the stomach, forcing him to bend over. Gasping for breath, Flynn reached out and grabbed the mane of his attacker, pulling himself into an upright position.
"Good to see you too Maxy, good to see you," he wheezed, forcing his lungs to once more begin working. "Look, I'm sorry I didn't take you, but you were needed here and that's that. No matter how many times you attack me, I'm not taking you when I have to go back." Forcing himself away from the stallion, he took a few steps forwards where the horse he had ridden home was waiting, looking around for an empty stall, when a soft nudge forced him to turn around. To his surprise, instead of attacking him again, Maximus instead buried his face into Flynn's chest, softly neighing his relief that the man was safe before trotting off, pretending that the moment had never happened.
Smiling, Flynn finished setting up a home for the new palace horse before leaving the stables, his muscles suddenly protesting the movement. Just like with his steed, there had been very few chances for him to have a proper rest during the journey home, and now he would be paying for it. Everything was sore, from the slight scrape on the back of his neck from the boy solder's sword to the kick Max had just given him. Finishing the story of his journey for the scribe, who would write it up as a report for the King, Flynn had just reached the main doors when another thing ran into him, this time something that was beautiful, with her crop of brown hair and emerald green eyes.
"Eugene! I missed you so much. Are you okay? Were you hurt? What was it like in Velda?" Listening as Rapunzel's voice washed over him, filling his mind with her melodious voice, Flynn couldn't help but close his eyes, breathing in the scent that surrounded her. When he reopened his eyes, he was no longer Flynn Rider, the handsome thief with a reputation a mile wide. Instead he was Prince Eugene Fitzherbert, future King of Corona and, more importantly, husband of Princess Rapunzel. After weeks of scouting out an enemy kingdom, one that was threaten war with his own, he was home. But really, it didn't matter who he was at the moment, for, while both sides of him had their own list of favorite things, the Flynn of his past that still came into play when his old skills were needed craving the selfish comforts of life while the Eugene of the present wanted nothing more then to be the best man he could be, they both had one thing in common.
Standing there, Eugene silenced Rapunzel with a kiss, his mind quickly filling with thoughts of the woman in his arms. The only person on both lists, Eugene soon forgot about the rest of the world as he became preoccupied with his number one favorite thing in the world: Her.
AN: Thanks for reading everyone! I hope you enjoyed it! :)