Author's Notes:

I haven't written in forever, but this idea kept bouncing around in my brain, and I had to get it out on paper real quick so I could finally work on my 20-page term paper. As for those of you who have read my other fic, I swear I'll update it. My computer crashed twice, and I lost all the work I'd done on that story. Twice. It killed my motivation. But, I hate to leave things unfinished; it will get done eventually. Sorry for writing this one-shot instead of working on that one. Your hatemails are justified.

Tangled is awesome. I wish it belonged to me, by it doesn't.


It was the first time she saw her hair after the… incident.

She was sitting in front of the vanity, staring into a large three-paneled mirror, completely transfixed. By all accounts, she should be bouncing around the room, marveling at all the new things she's never seen before, the spectacular view from the window, the shoes she was given, the numerous books on the shelves… yet she was rendered immobile before her mirror. Her lips were parted slightly in awe, and her eyes, still rimmed in red from her earlier reunion with her newfound parents, were wide and unblinking.

She could barely recognize herself. Even her face seemed foreign to her when framed by the short chestnut tresses. She reached up tentatively, as if testing to see if the unfamiliar girl in the mirror would actually follow suit, and touched one of the short locks near her eyes. She ran it through her thumb and forefinger, and it lightly sprung back into place when she released it. Her lips quirked into a small smile.

A hairbrush on the table caught her attention. She picked it up and ran it through her hair once. Twice. Three, then four times.

And that was it. She was done.

Her smile broke out into a full-blown grin.

She kept brushing her hair, just for the sake of it. She never imagined this task being so easy! Her grin grew wider with each swipe… until static caused her hair to stick out everywhere like a dandelion. As she sheepishly tried to smooth her hair down, she heard a light knock on the door.

"Y-yeah, come in."

The door opened, and one of the palace guards entered, bowing slightly. "Forgive the intrusion, your Highness." He looked a little annoyed as he straightened. "But a certain…thief has asked to see you."

"I have a name, you know." Eugene's sarcasm could be heard from the other side of the door.

"Yes, please let him in," she said cheerfully, still trying to control her hair.

Eugene easily stepped around the guard, giving him a sideways glare. "Well, you heard her. Now, if you'd kindly let us be…" He held the door for the guard and motioned with exaggerated flair for him to leave.

The guard did not look amused. "Leave the door open, Rider."

Eugene frowned. "Is that really necessary?"

The guard's eyes narrowed. "You're lucky we let you in at all."

Eugene shrugged as the guard left the room to resume his post outside her door. Leaving the door ajar, he turned around and approached the vanity where Rapunzel sat. He cleared his throat. "I was, uh, just wondering how you were doing…" he tried to say nonchalantly. Part of him (most likely the Flynn part) wouldn't admit that he actually came because he felt more at ease with her than alone in his room. Eugene had been uneasy since the two of them were led through the palace to a couple of unused rooms to rest. Saying the two monarchs had many questions for the pair would be an understatement, but they were patient, and thought it better (especially when seeing the bloodstain on Eugene's side) to let them recover for a bit. The king and queen were being extremely gracious towards him, considering the circumstances of his previous "visits," and he wondered when their hospitality was going to run out.

He was rubbing the back of his neck as he came into view in the mirror, and Rapunzel saw a flash of dark red on his vest. She quickly averted her eyes. Even though the stain had darkened, the vivid red from earlier was etched into her memory. She wasn't sure she could ever paint with that shade again without feeling ill. Eugene noticed the way her eyes avoided him, and graciously moved behind her to cross his arms casually over the back of her chair.

"You doing okay?"

She nodded softly. "It's all just a little overwhelming."

"No kidding…" he muttered, glancing down at his ruined vest. This will definitely go down as one of the most bizarre days of his life. Still, he knew it most likely paled in comparison to what Rapunzel was going through. With one simple slice, everything about her entire world had changed. Frankly, he was amazed at how well she seemed to be taking everything.

As she continued to smooth her hair, Eugene took in her surroundings. Her room was much nicer than his. Not that he minded in the least; he was just glad his room didn't have bars on the windows. He also noticed that the rest of the room seemed untouched. She didn't flop on the oversized bed (which he certainly did; significant blood loss would make anyone sleepy), and the bowl of water they had set out for her to wash up with was neglected, the towel nearby still pristinely folded.

"How long have you been sitting here?"

"Since they brought me here."

There was a long pause… then he gave her a sad smile. "Admiring my handiwork?"

She gave a soft chuckle. "Yeah." She gave up on smoothing her hair. Her efforts were just making it worse.

"…I'm sorry."

She blinked at him in the mirror. "For what?"

"For… this." He ran his hand gingerly through her cropped hair. "For doing it without your permission."

She closed her eyes at his touch, and held back a sigh. "It's okay… you were trying to free me from Mothe- from her. There's nothing to be sorry about."

He looked relieved, and let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. He ruffled her hair a bit. "I bet you miss having all that hair, huh?"

At this, Rapunzel turned away from the mirror to fully face him. "Are you kidding? I LOVE this!"

His eyebrows shot up, and he gaped at her.

"S…Seriously?"

She nodded vigorously at him. "I can brush it so easily now! It used to take me at least half a day to brush it before! I won't even TALK about washing it!" She threw her arms in the air in an exasperated move that made Eugene smirk. "And my head feels so light! I don't have to drag all that hair around anymore, and I can run around without having to worry about getting tangled in it or getting it caught on anything!"

She beamed at him in a way that drove any other doubts of her sincerity out of his mind. He smiled fondly at her as he reached down and tucked a dark strand of hair behind her ear. "Well, I'm glad you like it, Goldie."

She smiled shyly at him. "Um… what about you?"

"Hmm?"

By habit, she reached up to nervously wring a lock of her hair, forgetting for a moment it was no longer there. She resorted to fumbling with her fingers in her lap. "Do you… like my hair the way it is now?"

Eugene regarded her hair for a moment, in all its static-ridden and haphazardly-cut glory.

"Actually, I do."

She grinned. "Really?"

He flashed a Flynn-like grin back at her. "I wasn't kidding when I said I liked brunettes."

She rolled her eyes at his attempted smolder. "I'm being serious."

His grin slipped away, and with it his 'Flynn' persona. "So am I."

She blinked, and felt her face get warm. "Oh." She looked down bashfully.

"But, someone's gonna have to trim it a bit."

Her eyes snapped back to him. "Huh?"

"It's uneven in a lot of places. I'm sure there's someone in the palace that can fix… what?"

Rapunzel had an alarmed look on her face. "Someone's going to cut it again?"

He raised an eyebrow. "You want it to stay uneven?"

"Well… no, I guess…"

"So… what's the problem?"

She stared at her reflection. She had to admit, it did need to be evened out. But the thought of anyone else cutting her hair…

She glanced over the table in front of her, then started looking through the drawers of the vanity. She quickly found what she was looking for, and when she closed the drawer she was holding a silver pair of scissors.

"You're gonna cut it yourself?" Eugene asked, obviously a little more than worried.

"No…" She offered the scissors to him. "…you are."

Surely she was joking. He gave her a half-lidded stare. "You DID see how well I cut your hair before, right?"

"And I want you to fix it."

"Shouldn't you have someone who actually knows what they're doing fix it?"

She looked right into his dark amber eyes, conveying the seriousness of her request. "I don't want anyone else but you to cut my hair."

He was at a loss of words. Realizing how much this meant to her, he eventually took the offered scissors. "I still don't think this is a good idea."

"I trust you."

"Aaaaand there's your mistake."

"You're not going to make it worse."

"You're right, I won't. I don't think I could possibly screw it up more than I already have."

She acted like she didn't hear him, and got up from her chair. "Here, sit down."

Eugene let her drag him around to the front of the vanity, and as she pushed him into the chair he realized it was the only one available.

"Um, where are you going to si-"

He was cut off when Rapunzel flopped herself in his lap, facing away from him and into the three-paneled mirror. When he didn't move, she glanced over her shoulder. "Is this okay?"

"Uh…yeah… sure," he said, glancing warily towards the door that was still partially open.

She grinned and turned back around, back straight and hands on her knees, waiting patiently for him to begin cutting. He shook his head and smiled affectionately. He was going to have to tell her later that she probably shouldn't be sitting in his lap.

At least not in public.

He shook his head again, but this time not in an endearing way. The king was definitely going to have him hanged at this rate… and it won't be for stealing something.

"Is something wrong?"

"No, I'm fine," he said hastily, redirecting his thoughts to her hair. He had no idea where to begin. He spent at least a few minutes scrutinizing her brown locks and running his free hand through them, which made her hum softly and close her eyes in contentment. After a couple more minutes of his ministrations, she was wondering what was taking him so long to even start. She was going to fall asleep at this rate. As she was about to say something, she suddenly felt cold metal on the back of her neck. Her breath hitched.

*SNIP*

Eugene gently brushed the stray strands of hair from her skin, which made her shiver slightly. He continued at a very slow pace, determined not to make a mistake. While deciding what he should actually cut, he noticed the discarded slippers nearby.

"You gave up on those pretty quickly," he joked, motioning towards where they lay on the floor.

She glanced at where he was pointing, trying to move her head as little as possible. "Yeah, they're going to take a LOT of getting used to… I admit they're nice for walking on cold stone floors, though."

"So you're going to keep them?" *SNIP*

"Of course! They're the first thing she's ever given me!" Rapunzel remembered how concerned the queen was about her bare feet, and smiled to herself. She was very… different… from the woman she used to call mother.

*SNIP*

She stared at herself in the mirror. "… I look just like her…"

Eugene paused to look at her face in the mirror. "Yeah. You do." They had the same petite frame, the chestnut hair with the swoop in the front, the apple green eyes… they even had the same adorable little overbite.

"I was worried… that they wouldn't recognize me without my blonde hair… or that maybe…" She swallowed thickly. "…maybe I really wasn't their daughter."

Eugene gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze, and continued where he left off. "I honestly don't think anyone who saw you with the queen would doubt for a second that you were her daughter." *SNIP* Without thinking, he blew gently on her neck to get rid of the loose bits of hair. She stiffened.

"Ack, s-sorry," he quickly stammered.

"N-no, it's alright." She felt her face get warm again. "It actually felt… kinda…"

He stopped, the scissors frozen in midair.

"I-I mean, it didn't feel bad… I mean, uh…"

She decided to just stop talking. Both of them were blushing furiously at this point. Eugene cleared his throat awkwardly as he started cutting again.

"So…uh…" *SNIP* "… you don't miss anything about your hair? Besides the whole healing thing, of course."

Rapunzel thought about it for a moment. "Well… I think I'll miss some things, like being able to climb it or use it as a swing. Sometimes, I liked to wrap myself up in it."

*SNIP*

She looked a little embarrassed as she continued. "I felt very secure with my hair, like it would protect me from anything when I surrounded myself with it." She looked sheepishly at him in the mirror. "Sounds silly, huh?"

"Not really…" He understood that feeling more than she realized, but while she found comfort and security from something a bit more tangible, he found his inside a storybook. "I bet you feel really vulnerable now." *SNIP*

Rapunzel straightened a bit. "Actually, no. After the past few days, I feel like I can take care of myself pretty well." A sly smile spread across her face. "Even without a frying pan."

Eugene laughed at that. "So you can take on anything now, huh?"

"Well, maybe not anything. But, if I ever do need someone, I mean, something… to…" She bit her bottom lip, and hesitantly looked at Eugene in the mirror. He stared at her, unblinking. She smiled shyly. "I… I don't need my hair to protect me anymore."

She turned her head to look directly at him over her shoulder.

"…Right?"

He sat motionless for a moment, before giving her a smile that made her heart skip. He leaned forward and lightly kissed her temple, lingering there for a long moment before slowly pulling away. She blushed and smiled softly at him.

"Thank you for cutting it, Eugene… for freeing me of it."

Eugene froze. He didn't realize how much he needed to hear those words until that moment. His amber eyes suddenly filled with an emotion that Rapunzel couldn't place, but before she could react he had pulled her flush against him, wrapping his arms tightly around her waist. He buried his face in the place between her neck and her shoulder and inhaled deeply.

"Eugene?" Her voice was barely above a whisper. Her arms were pinned to her sides, so all she could do was stare wide-eyed at him in the mirror. After a long, deafening silence, he finally spoke.

"You were never mad that I cut it?"

Something in his voice made her heart ache. She pressed her cheek against his hair. "Not for a second."

He sighed into her neck. "I was worried that you were… that you hated me for cutting it."

Her eyebrows furrowed. "Why? You… actually died for me." Her voice cracked a little at the memory of it. "How could I possibly hate you?"

He took a steadying breath before he lifted his head, keeping his lips near her ear. "I couldn't stand the thought of her taking you. I wanted you to be free… to be in control of your own life. But what I did…"

He brought a hand up to gently run it through her dark locks. "You didn't choose this freely. I made that choice for you… And yet, I can't bring myself to regret it. I'd do it all over again if I had to." He looked at her reflection and rested his cheek against her temple. "A part of me feels like I'm no better than that woman that kept you in that tower."

"That's not true." She reassuringly placed her hands on his arms, which were still wrapped around her. "I have no reason to be angry with you, even if I didn't make the choice myself. Even if…" Her voice caught in her throat, but she forced herself to finish. "…even if you didn't come back." The memory of it started flooding back, overwhelming her, and her eyes started to shine from unshed tears. "When you died… I… I felt…" Her eyebrows knit together, and tears started falling freely. "I can't even describe it…"

Her face crumpled, and she let out a sob. Eugene held her close, his heart wrenching at the pain he'd caused her, and wiped her tears from her cheeks, shushing her softly. She recovered a little, and looked up at him with glassy eyes. "But," she said, her voice watery now, "I also felt very grateful... grateful that you were willing to give so much for me." She sniffed. "I couldn't possibly hate you. Not even for leaving me."

He smiled as he squeezed her gently. "You sure?" he asked, not wanting her to say it just to spare his feelings. Rapunzel turned her face up towards his and smiled, their noses less than an inch apart, her shining green eyes looking intently in his.

"I promise."

Eugene sat motionless for a long moment, those two words hanging heavily in the air. His eyes unconsciously fell to her lips, and he found that no amount of effort could make him look away. He slowly brought a hand up to her face, tilting her chin up towards him. He leaned down hesitantly, searching her eyes for permission. She met him halfway, eagerly pressing her lips to his. The kiss was soft and innocent, but held more emotion than Eugene thought could possibly fit into a kiss. She tentatively mimicked his actions, her uncertainty only making her more endearing. His hand moved to the back of her head, weaving his fingers through her soft brown locks, and she let out a soft moan. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Eugene registered that making her moan while the door was open was probably not a good idea. He slowly broke off the kiss, and smiled at the contented look on her face.

"Rapunzel?"

"…Yes?" She smiled, despite her wet face.

He showed her the scissors, which he still held in his hand. "I'm finished."

She grinned. "You are?" She turned towards the mirror to admire his work. Her dark hair was still spiky and unkempt, but a little more even.

Eugene ruffled her hair affectionately. "So, what do you think?"

As they both sat there, smiling at Rapunzel's reflection, a third face appeared in the mirror, leaning in from the side, with bright green eyes and long chestnut hair.

"I think it looks wonderful."

Eugene nearly threw Rapunzel off his lap, and the two just about fell over as they rushed to stand before the queen. "Your-Highness-we-were-just-uh…um…" Eugene rambled as he composed himself, putting the scissors hastily on the vanity table. Rapunzel didn't look nearly as flustered, but hurriedly smoothed her dress and wiped her face in an attempt to look presentable. She felt self-conscious being around someone who seemed so well-composed.

A playful smile was tugging at the corners of the queen's mouth. "The door was open, so I let myself in."

"Right. Of course," Eugene said, mentally cursing that guard from earlier.

"We've had dinner prepared a little earlier than usual tonight. Would you two like to join us?"

Rapunzel perked up visibly; she didn't realize how hungry she'd become. "Oh, yes! But, um, can I have a minute to wash up?"

The queen nodded graciously, and Rapunzel quickly made use of the basin of water, scrubbing her face vigorously.

Eugene looked uncomfortably at the monarch. "So… how long were you standing there?" He didn't want to ask rude questions, but he figured it was better than standing in awkward silence.

That sly smile was playing on her lips again. She and Rapunzel were more alike than he thought. "Not too long."

He didn't look relieved at her answer. Especially when she followed it up with:

"You died for her?"

He was speechless for a moment, realizing how ridiculous that sentence sounded. "Uh… yeah."

Her eyebrows furrowed slightly, and she looked him over. "Forgive me for being a little confused…"

"Yeah, that's a long story."

She looked over at Rapunzel, who was rubbing the towel over her face and neck, getting the remaining bits of hair off. "Dinner's going to take longer than I thought," she said, mostly to herself.

Eugene smirked. "So, do you usually escort your guests personally to dinner?"

"No…" She turned to face Eugene again. "Sometimes my husband does."

He blanched. He was closer to getting hanged than he thought.

"I'm kidding."

"Oh."

"I may be a little selfish, but I want to make up for lost time with my daughter." She looked lovingly at Rapunzel, who was putting her new slippers on as she spoke. The queen playfully gave him a sideways glance. "I didn't realize I'd be competing with the infamous Flynn Rider for her attention."

"Eugene."

She turned to face him, raising her eyebrows. "…I beg your pardon?"

He looked down at the ground. He hadn't meant for that to come out, but it was too late to take it back now.

"My real name is Eugene. You can call me that, if you'd like."

A smile slowly spread across her face. "Eugene. It's a nice name."

He flushed slightly. Thankfully, Rapunzel spared him from any further embarrassment by grasping his arm.

"I'm ready!" she said, bouncing slightly in anticipation.

The three of them left the room and walked down the long hallway, with the two women on either side of Eugene. As Rapunzel leaned against his arm, he worked up the courage to ask one more question.

"Um… your Highness?"

She looked up at him.

"Am I… uh… going to be leaving after dinner?"

She looked straight ahead again as they continued walking, silent for a moment. Rapunzel's hands tightened around his arm.

"We shall have to see how dinner goes. However, I will say that the odds appear to be stacked in your favor." The queen looked over at Rapunzel, who smiled gratefully at her mother before beaming victoriously at Eugene.

He nodded meekly, thankful for the second chance, or at least the prospect of one. "Thank you, your Highness."

"Rebecca."

Eugene blinked at her. "P-pardon?"

"My name is Rebecca. You may call me that if you wish." The queen looked up at him and gave him a warm, genuine smile.

Before he could stop himself, Eugene smiled back. Maybe they were going to let him stick around after all.


Author: You know how some people look like a particular name? The queen totally looks like a "Rebecca" to me. :P Reviews are super-awesome.