Title: Balancing Act
Prompt: road trip
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for one naughty word
Word Count: 499
Summary: The prospect of a road trip makes parents and Eugene alike nervous.
It's a balancing act. Balancing concern with the recognition that she needs to explore and experience the world around her. He struggles with it. Her parents struggle with it. Rapunzel has been constrained by false concern before. Theirs is real, but the result would be the same: keeping Rapunzel locked up. And that's something no one wants.
"I'd like to go."
The King and Queen look at each other and Eugene can see worry etching lines on their faces that time has not.
A letter arrived not so long ago. Full of threats against the Returned Princess. Demanding money. There's always a desperate person looking to profit. Most of them don't even have a good excuse.
He should know.
"Eh, it's not that great." He shrugs, looking totally bored by the prospect. Islands, tropical drinks, beaches: who cares?
It's worth a try, but her face is set with determination, when she retorts, "You said it was fantastic."
"And you chose to listen to me about this?"
The King clears his throat. "Will you agree to take the Captain with you?"
Eugene can't stomach the prospect of his girl on holiday with the Captain, so before she can respond he says with deep resignation, "If the Princess really wants to go, I'll take her. I've been dozens of times."
"You'd do that?" she asks, the pitch of her voice rising with her excitement.
"Sure. I can work on my tan." Of course, he'll be sick to death every time she skitters out of sight over a tall dune or under a wave. Fully aware that seeing to her safety is entirely up to him. And that there are a lot of sick fucks in this world.
Fully aware that he can't stand to lose her. That's what he has in common with the King and Queen.
She probably won't want to carry a frying pan around the beach, unless he can convince her that's how people make sandcastles.
She turns her gaze on her parents for permission. Half a beat goes by and he wonders whether they won't be able to stomach it this time. If they'll need to keep her a little closer to home for their own sake. Then the Queen gives a small, nervous nod.
Of course, he could think of ways to entertain her without her ever having to leave the comfort of the palace, where she's safe. But Rapunzel is stubborn. And it's a balance after all. He's as addicted to her kisses as he is the light that seems to illuminate her face every time she discovers something new. There should be a lot of that when she sees the ocean for the first time.
"Well then, I guess you know what that means," he says, reaching over to scoop her frog from her shoulder before she shakes him loose with jumping.
And there it is: the smile that makes all the worry worth it. The smile Gothel never got to see.