Flynn Rider vs. Eugene Fitzherbert
AN: I wanted to toy with the fact that Eugene is very "unsure" about himself, such as the part when he tells Rapunzel about his past and exactly why he created his alter ego Flynn Rider.
"Oh, wow," I hear Rapunzel gasp under her breath as her fingers clench tighter around Flynn Rider. She's clutching his sides, eyes scanning the crisp pages of The Adventures of Fynnigan Rider: The Lost Kingdom of Gold. I hear her gasp once again and "ooo" as she eagerly turns the page. Her fingers are whitening as she grips the navy blue leather binding, immersing herself in another one of his swashbuckling, high stakes adventures.
And I, I loiter not too far from my princess, trying to immerse myself in my own book. I don't even know the title or subject. I just picked up the nearest book I saw to try to distract myself.
She first began reading The Adventures of Flynnigan Rider the day we first came to the Kingdom of Corona. Her had had been longer, then- much longer. I brought her to the library after she mentioned she enjoyed reading, and the look on her face when she saw such an immense number of books made my heart soar. Maybe that's too cheesy, but that's who Eugene Fitzherbert is.
But Flynn Rider, he's a man. He's cheesy, too, but in the manly, heroic way, with cool catchphrases for the bad guys and sweet pickup lines for the ladies. Me? Not so much. In fact, not at all.
We spent the bulk of the day in that library. I showed her the world, and then space, and then beyond. We read aloud and we laughed and had an overall good time. I would hold the binding, and she would turn the pages; her small, soft hand would brush mine every time. And then her wandering fingers just so happened to brush across the brown leather spine of an adventure book. But not just any adventure book; this particular gold-leaf printed cover read, The Adventures of Flynnigan Rider: Island of Savages. She grabbed it in a flash and immediately began flipping through the pages, excited.
Rapunzel liked what she saw, and began pulling every volume, every installment of The Adventures of Flynnigan Rider off the shelf and loading them into my arms; The Witch of the Cliffs, The Journey to Paradise, The Stolen Princess- to name a few.
Just like that, I was gone. Well, I wasn't gone; that is to say, I didn't leave her. But she left me. Not physically, of course. She became so engrossed in Rider's stories, nothing else existed in her world. Any comment I made was rebuffed with a mindless "uh-huh," a delayed "huh?" or not heard altogether. Her eyes never left the text.
I circled the room for hours, arms crossed as she read. All was silent, save for a sharp inhale, slow exhale, or position shift from Rapunzel as Flynnigan Rider captivated her. I happened to glance down once as she read The Stolen Princess to catch her paused in her reading conquest. She was staring intently at one of the illustrations; that of Flynn Rider and the Princess, who was held by Flynn, swinging away from a rushing tidal wave conjured up by the evil Witch of the Cliffs. A single dainty finger of hers traced the form of the Princess, and then the shape of Flynnigan Ryder. She touched his hair, his eyes, his nose, his cheeky grin, and then his torso; down modestly past his waist, and then she drew her finger through his arm to the point where he was holding the Princess tightly around her delicate waist.
This only served to further my isolation. Why would she want me? To spend time with me? To examine me as thoroughly as she was examining Flynn's image in a novel. The man I idolized. The man I tried to be but always fell short. The man I looked up to was betraying me by stealing the young woman I… had come to care for. Greatly.
It dawned on me that I would never live up to Rapunzel's expectations. I wasn't Flynn Rider, and I never would be. I was Eugene Fitzherbert, an orphan, and a criminal.
I break from my reverie to see a concerned Rapunzel looking at me from over her book. I'm back in the castle library, wandering around with a book I'm not even reading. Actually, it's upside-down, but I quickly turn it the right way, hoping she didn't notice.
I must be looking at her fearfully, nervously, or unhappily, because she closes her book and stands up to face me.
"Is something the matter?"
I shake my head, shrugging and pouting exaggeratingly.
"Nope, no, not a problem, why?"
Rapunzel cocks her head and walks over to me.
"Are you sure? You look a little… tense."
Subconsciously betraying myself, my eyes shoot down to look at the book in Rapunzel's hand, and then I quickly raise them back up to look at my princess. But she saw. Curiously, she lifts the book and examines it as if its new to her.
"Is it the book?" she asks, confused.
I pffft and began guffawing out loud to hide my shame. As if the book bothering me is a ludicrous thing that would never happen. I'm speaking very fast. I'm rambling.
"The book? Why would I have a problem with the book? After all they're very good books very fun and exciting and I like that you read them now since I enjoy them so much after all Flynnigan Ryder is a very attractive man don't you think?"
Rapunzel giggles at my reply and holds the book up in front of my face, placing the knuckles of her free hand on her hip.
"Eugene, are you threatened by this?" She waves the literature around in the air to prove her point. "You can tell me."
"No, I uhhh… yes. Well, not entirely, it's just- "
I sigh deeply and take the book from her hand to demonstrate. Here comes the evil twin of my smolder, the polar opposite, whatever it is. It's weak and pathetic and sentimental and not on purpose. Cheesy Eugeesy.
"My friend Flynn Rider, here," I motion to him with my free hand. "He has everything. Wealth, bravery- and… I have nothing. Sure, I've got the superhuman good looks, but that's really all I have going for me. No matter how much I tried, I never really was as good as him. I've always just been a cheap imitation."
"Eugene… " she says, a little surprised and a little saddened. I raise a hand to stop her.
"I'm not good enough for you."
Rapunzel looks down and presses her lips together into a hard, thin line.
"Of course I am. Wait, what?"
She looks up at me as if she's about to cry. But she smiles anyway and shrugs.
"You aren't good enough for me if you're not even good enough for yourself."
Now I feel guilty. I'm tearing her apart. I sigh again.
This time she raises a hand to stop me.
"You're right. You're not like Flynnigan Rider." I drop my head. She raises my face to hers tenderly with a loose fist, taking the book from my possession with her other hand. "You're better."
My heart soars. She sees my change in expression and continues talking.
"Do you know how this book ends? Flynn saves the Princess, brings her home to her parents and her kingdom, and you know what he does? He leaves. He leaves her, Eugene. After he collects the reward from the King and Queen. After the Princess confesses her love for him and begs him to stay. He leaves, to go on another adventure, to seduce more girls, to find more treasure. To live alone on his island."
Rapunzel grins and chuckles as she mentions my old dream. I'm almost ashamed to have ever wanted such a thing.
"But you're here, Eugene. With me. Our kingdom is your island," she says, brushing hair out of my face and stroking my jaw down to my goatee. Her free hand returns to holding the book. I must look pretty stupid right about now. She sighs and inhales to speak again, and I can see her shoulders rise and fall with the effort.
"Do you remember what I said in the forest?"
I think for a moment. The injured hand. The glowing hair. The healed hand.
Her hand on my hand.
"Don't freak out?" I ask, already knowing it's the wrong answer.
The princess laughs warmly, shakes her head gently, and steps towards me. I'm almost immediately put at ease. She's holding Flynn Rider, pressing the withered old book to her chest. As she comes closer, I reach out and gently grasp the underside of her bent elbows. I look into her eyes, which are as perpetually lit up like a million lanterns and sparkling as the night I realized I'm where I'm meant to be.
"No. I told you… I like- love Eugene Fitzherbert a lot more than Flynn Rider."
Rapunzel smiles at me and flicks her wrist backwards, tossing the book carelessly to the floor. It lands on its spine with a thud and a flutter of pages. I return her smile and draw her into my arms for a kiss.