Eugene sat on his rickety old bed, as his fiancée, Princess Rapunzel, searched through his old things.
"This is really where you grew up?" she asked him.
"Yep, this is the place. St. Claire's Home For Children," he replied, looking around his former home. He gave a sad sigh, remembering how lonely he'd been ever since his parents died.
Rapunzel found an old leather-bound book, engraved with the words The Adventures of Flynnagan Rider: 101 Short Stories. She held it up. "Eugene?"
"Isn't this the book you used to read to the younger kids? The one that basically created Flynn Rider?"
"Oh, hey, yeah! It is!" he laughed, taking it from her.
"Read to me?" she asked sweetly.
He laughed, and opened up the book. "Okay. The Adventures of Flynnagan Rider…"
Eugene Fitzherbert, age 8, flipped through his favorite book: The Adventures of Flynnagan Rider. It was the one thing in his room that survived the fire. He sighed wistfully at the illustrations of the handsome young man, saving a young lady.
"Eugene?" a young girl asked, poking his shoulder.
"Read to me?" she asked hopefully.
Eugene glanced up at the 5-year-old, looking at him with her big brown eyes.
"Uh… sure, I guess."
"Can I sit on your lap?"
"Can I hug you?"
"Can I ruffle your hair?"
"Can I tweak your nose?"
Eugene was 11 now, and a small group of even smaller children were sitting around him.
"Okay, which story tonight?" he asked the group.
"The Great Pirate Escape!" everyone exclaimed in unison.
"Oh, not that one again," Eugene groaned. "I've read that every night for a week and a half. I barely even need the book anymore!"
"Well, what SHOULD we read?" a young girl named Pauline asked.
"Let's have the birthday boy decide," Eugene said, turning to Robbie, who had turned 9. "What do you think, Rob?"
Robbie thought for a few minutes, before deciding.
"The Great Pirate Escape!"
"Yaaaaaay!" everyone said. Except for Eugene.
"Welcome to St. Claire's," said a now 12-year-old Robbie. He was carrying a very nervous new girl's suitcase.
"Thank you," she said, so softly that Robbie almost didn't hear her.
"What's your name? I'm Robbie Roomer."
"Francine Yancey," she said in a voice barely above a whisper.
"Well, Francine, the first person you should meet is Eugene. He's super-nice, and he reads to us every night from our favorite book."
"Aren't you a little old for that?"
Eugene was nice, Francine noticed. Everyone seemed to love him.
"Okay, gather 'round, gather 'round," Eugene called at 9 PM. Everyone sat up in their beds, and either sat on the floor or at the edge of their beds, so they wouldn't miss a word of the story. Older kids sat with younger kids in their laps. A set of twins sat on Eugene's knees. Francine noticed that a few kids who were clearly older than Eugene were paying rapt attention.
Eugene opened the book to his favorite story, Flynnagan In Love, about Flynnagan meeting a beautiful princess named Rose and falling in love with her.
He began to read. "Flynnagan Rider was on his trusty horse Max, riding through the woods of Ompterdom…"
"You're really gonna leave, Eugene?" Francine asked sadly. After spending three years in the orphanage, Eugene had helped her come out of her shell. She was upset to see him go.
"Don't call me that," he said. "That's not my name anymore."
"Really?" said Robbie. "Than what is it?"
"Flynn Rider. After Flynnagan."
"What do you plan to do, after you leave?"
"Become like Flynnagan Rider, of course."
"How?" asked Francine.
"I'll find a way."
"I'm sorry, guys."
And with a hop out the window, a slide down the roof, and a duck into the shadows, Eugene Fitzherbert was dead.
And Flynn Rider was born.