I am out of my element.

I'm two steps behind. I've lost my groove. My world has been turned upside down. My life and everything I've thought about it for a very long time have been stripped and torn and beaten away from me, and I've been thrown into a world full of terrifying social obligations and a whole lot of crying and hugging.


Ok, calm down. It's not that bad. And if it is that bad, it's my own fault anyway. So man up.

I used to be a different person, you know. That's funny because "used to be" was only like a week ago. I don't know what happened to make me lose everything about myself so quickly.

Actually, that's not true. I know exactly what it is.

It's a girl.

The knowledge that a girl has changed my life makes me nauseous on principle, even if it also makes me a bit giddy. The giddiness makes me nauseous too.

I used to be adventurous. Dashing. Roguish. Constantly moving. Never tied down. Amazingly handsome.

Of course, I'm still amazingly handsome. I'm clinging to that fact for all I'm worth. When your life crumbles around you and you start to fall, you can only grab onto a few things. It's not really a conscious choice what you grab either. So I grabbed onto handsomeness. And I grabbed on to her.

If I were being honest with myself - instead of overly dramatic and self deprecating - I could say that those two really weren't the worst options. But I'm in a mood right now, so I'm going to ignore it and keep ranting.

Flynn Rider never used to stay in one place this long. Got to keep moving so no one catches me. Got new things to see and new people to scam. Can't let people get their claws in me. Can't get attached.

But every time I get ready to leave now she smiles at me or asks me something or starts crying and I'm stuck. My brain just won't let me think about leaving anymore. Trying to escape is like trying to wade through a bog while carrying a girl on your back. But I'm not really trying to escape per se. I'm just trying to move along because it's what comes naturally, and suddenly it's not coming naturally anymore.

Suddenly I want to stay put, dig in, and put down roots. There's a spot where I consistently put my toothbrush and a place where I consistently put my boots. Flynn is revolted, but Eugene likes repetitive, dependable, boring shit like that.

Flynn Rider was a thief. Say what you will, but I stand by the fact that it's a noble profession. One of the oldest in the world. It takes skill and mastery and pride. Now I don't know what I am. I have a terrible suspicion that my profession could be described as "the princess' boyfriend." Shudder. Or "kept man." Double shudder.

True, I wanted to retire in the lap of luxury. But one of the major points of that dream was that I would retire. It would be on my own terms. It would be because of my own merits. I would have to steal it and sweat for it. It would never be handed to me. You ever try to steal something to have someone step up and give it to you? It's a bit anticlimactic, and Flynn Rider was anything but anticlimactic.

I didn't earn the life I have now. It's like Rapunzel earned it and I'm just in for the ride. And don't tell me that I earned it because of the power of love or something like that. She loves me so much that I automatically deserve this? No. People who live in mud pits and eat bugs can still be devoted to one another, it doesn't magically move them out of their mud pit.

Or maybe my years of trials and tribulations mean that through sheer karma I'd have to catch a break eventually. But then where's the break for those mud people? Where's their silver lining? Flynn and Eugene both agree that life just isn't fair.

(And do people really live in mud pits? I'm starting to think that I just made that up. If anyone asks, I'll say that I didn't invent it and then play the "oh so sad back story" card to make them feel guilty for being ignorant of the pains of the world. That's one thing about being Eugene that comes in handy.)

Flynn Rider never worried about the impression he would make with a girl's family. In fact, I've never worried about the impression I made with anyone. I've never stood up straight and cursed my palms for sweating and straightened up my hair when no one was looking. And it's not because they're royalty. It's not because everyone thinks they're important. It's because she thinks they're important. And I want to make things that are important to her work out for her. That's why I go shopping with her. (Shopping. Me. I die a little inside every time.) That's why I give her a boost when she wants to climb something to see the sights or when she wants to paint the upper reaches of the new mural in her room. That's why I tried to make things right with that idiot horse. That's why I have yet to give that wet-willy-ing frog a nice, hard flick.

Flynn Rider was never this loyal. He was never loyal to his "friends." He was never loyal to his many "lady friends." But then all of a sudden I up and die for a girl I've known for two days. Where did that come from? What was I thinking?

Actually, I know exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking, "Noooo! Rapunzel, don't go with that crazy witch!"

I was also thinking, "Ahhhhh! My side! Oh God, it hurts!"

But that's a bit beside the point. Let's get back to the subject of women who really shouldn't be walking all over me. Flynn Rider has never been this graceless around them. I was debonair. I was suave. One arch of an eyebrow and the ladies would be throwing themselves at me. One carefully placed "Hey," and girls would faint. But Blondie… something's wrong with her.

Or something's wrong with me.

God, I hope there's not something wrong with me. But I know that there is. I can feel it.

Suddenly, just because she's around I become a tongue-tied teenager. She looks at me with those eyes that are too big and too clear, and I can feel all that raw charisma just seeping away. Then I stutter. And then I try to hide behind the sarcasm, but I misstep and trip and fall on my face. And the worst part is that she doesn't seem to realize that something has gone horribly wrong inside of me. She thinks that Eugene's flailing ineptitude is just par for the course. Maybe that should be a relief, but for some reason I can't bring myself to see it that way.

She made me blush the other day. I wanted to punch myself.

I know what's happening. It's The Return of Eugene. Ever since she started calling me by my old name, Eugene has been making a comeback. He's pushing Flynn out and making himself comfortable. The problem is that I have only a vague idea of who Eugene is. I know he's a scared, lost orphan boy. I know he takes care of those down and out folks in a way that could be called "chivalrous" and could also be called "lacking in judgment." He's the guy that makes sure everyone gets home alright from the bar, and then holds his friend's hair while he barfs. I guess that's what Blondie wants. It's what she needs right now. Someone to hold her hair. (Ok. This metaphor just fell apart.)

But I'm not sure it's what I need. I was Flynn for a reason. To protect myself. To be strong and ruthless. If I let myself get attached, I'm setting myself up for heart ache. If I wear my emotions on my sleeve, people can use it against me. I'll be caught completely unsuspecting as she dances up, smiles, reaches her little hand into my chest, and rips out my heart and lungs and ribs and-

"What's this?"

She's picks up a teapot from a display in front of a shop. The bit of ceramic turns slowly in her hands as she inspects the flowered pattern that circles its circumference. She has that excited look on her face that she gets whenever she sees something new.

Something inside of me melts away my angsty rant, and the next thing I know I find that my lips have quirked up into a half smile.

"It's a teapot."

"Teapot," she repeats, turning it with delicate fingers, memorizing the texture and the heft of it. "What does it do?"

"Well, you put boiling water inside." She nods along. "Then you put in tea." She frowns, her eyebrows puckering together, asking for clarification. "Tea is a kind of dried leaves. When you put the leaves in hot water, it makes a flavored drink."

She nods and repeats, "Tea leaves."

Good grief, she's cute.

"I've never had it before," she says. "We would always drink cider."

"Yeah?" I lean casually against the display. As the two of them duke it out on the inside I end up stuck in the middle, in an odd combination of trying to look like Flynn and act like Eugene. "How was it?"

"It was good," she says absently, now inspecting the spout critically. Then her face bursts into a smile. "Can I try some?"

"Uh… Sure."

She grabs my arm faster than I was expecting and drags me bodily into the shop.

Flynn wants to make a comment about how he's really more of a coffee man.

Eugene wants to know if they have Earl Grey.