Eugene awoke to the face of a brown cat, staring at him intently, perched on his chest. The tired man groaned and sat up straight, rumpling up the fluffy pillows and blankets further, collecting his thoughts. He glanced around the bright room, sunlight seeping through the curtained window. He recalled the events of the previous day and wondered what sorts of trouble he and Rapunzel would be getting into today. The clock on the wall read 9:06 and Eugene felt thankful that she had let him sleep in. He looked down at the cat on his bed and rolled his eyes.
"I'm guessing you're my wake-up call?" he joked. Pascal flicked his tail at the man, before hopping down to go scratch at the door.
"Alright, alright. Hold on," Eugene said, suddenly aware that he was still in just his underwear. He pulled on some clean jeans from his bag, fumbling with the belt as Pascal mewed softly. T-shirt still in hand, Eugene opened the door to let out the cat, unexpectedly coming face to face with his blonde-haired captor. She was wearing her jeans again and a light pink tank top, her grey sweater layered over. Eugene couldn't be sure but it looked like she had a little bit of makeup on too.
"Whoa! Good morning Blondie!"
"Good morning, Eugene! How did you- oh! I'm sorry!" she apologized covering her eyes with a hand.
"Your umm... Your chest... Mother says naked chests are bad," she stammered, her eyes still covered.
"Not necessarily bad, Blondie. Not really appropriate to be out in public without a shirt on, but inside it's okay. At least for guys anyway," he explained. He carefully removed the hand from her face. She gave a hesitant peek.
"See? It's okay," he laughed. Rapunzel giggled nervously and reached out to put a hand on his chest, staring at the differences between his body and hers. He had a small tuft of hair growing between his pectorals, something she didn't have. She gazed over his muscles, fascinated by his structure compared to hers. Eugene finally cleared his throat. Rapunzel jumped back, cheeks flushed red. It felt a bit odd to be examined like a science experiment.
"S-s-sorry," she stammered.
"It's okay. It's not like you've seen a topless guy before, I get why you'd be so awestruck, especially when you have such a perfect subject," he smirked, pulling on a dark blue t-shirt, "So anyway, how long have you been waiting outside my door?"
"Like, two... Three... Ten minutes or so... You weren't waking up, so I sent in Pascal," she muttered. Then with a quick smile she picked up a plate waiting on an end table outside the door. "I made muffins!" Eugene stared at the vast assortment of treats on the platter and plucked one up. He looked at her eager grin and took a bite.
"Not bad, Punzie. Oh, and happy birthday, by the way," he added nonchalantly.
"You remembered!" she gasped, jumping up and down.
"Hey, calm down. You're gonna lose your pastries. And yes, I remembered. That's why I'm in this little situation isn't it? Anyway, ready for a big day?"
"Duh! I've been waiting eighteen years for this, Eugene. Eighteen years. Do you know how long that is? Really really really long!" Eugene laughed at her enthusiasm and grabbed another muffin from the plate, quickly devouring it as well.
"Well, give me a couple minutes to get cleaned up and we can get out of here. The park doesn't open for another hour or so, but it doesn't hurt to be early."
"Okay!" Rapunzel nodded, "But before we go, do you think you can braid my hair again?"
"Yeah, of course. Just give me five minutes," he said, dropping his empty muffin liners on her tray. He stepped into the bathroom and Rapunzel made her way to the kitchen. She set down her muffins and walked to the living room. She could barely contain her excitement, thinking about the fireworks. She had already shown Pascal the postcard picture of them and explained to him everything that happened the day before. She told him about how nice Flynn turned out to be, and how he wasn't even Flynn in the end, but Eugene. He was much kinder now than he was when they'd first met. To be fair however, she did knock him out with a hair dryer and tie him to a chair and then blackmail him. So considering all that, he'd been nicer than she deserved really. She was almost looking forward to giving him back his satchel just to see how happy he'd be. But she was devastated knowing he had to go soon. She had never learned so much in a single day than she did the day before! And later he was going to go back into the world and she'd stay up in her tower under lock and key, forever singing to keep Mother beautiful.
She knew how much her powers helped her Mother. She wasn't dumb. They kept her young and beautiful so she could work and without her job, they wouldn't be able to live. But over the past twenty-four hours she started to see just how manipulative her mother was being. Surely there were other jobs she could do, jobs that didn't require looking young and perfect? Not that Rapunzel would ever tell her mother these things. Sometimes she liked to imagine doing so, talking to one of her sewing mannequins and pretending it was her beautiful mother. Even in these fake conversations, Mother came out on top. But Rapunzel had her first taste of the outside world and she was dying for more. She sat for a few minutes, until Eugene's heavy footsteps broke her musings.
"Alright Blondie, let's get that mess of hair under control," he joked, pulling out the same hairband they had used the previous day. Rapunzel smiled back at him and kneeled on the ground, her hair spread out behind her. Eugene began separating the strands again, feeling significantly less weird about it than he had yesterday.
"So how long have you been up, kid?"
"Oh, since... Six thirty? That's about the normal time I get up."
"Damn. You're awfully chipper for someone with seven hours of sleep."
"Well, it IS my birthday."
"Good point. So other than muffin making, what have you been up to?"
"I watched the other movie you brought. Cinderella."
"Oh yeah! I'd forgotten about that. We're gonna have to turn those back in today. You liked it?"
"Yeah, I did. I'm glad they all have happy endings."
"Me too, Blondie. You know, Cinderella kinda reminds me of a girl I know."
"Yup. Locked up at home all day. Constantly staring out the window to a castle she doesn't think she'll ever get to. Forced to do housework while her mother-"
"Excuse me, while her step-mother lives in luxury. Also they're both blondes. Not that that's specifically important. Sound familiar?"
"You're really annoying, Flynn."
"Ouch, Rapunzel. That hurt. I thought we were on a first name basis here."
"Well, when you're a jerk, you're Flynn. When you're nice you can be Eugene again."
"You look really pretty today," he tried complimenting.
"Gee, thanks, Flynn."
"Hey, that was a nice thing to say, wasn't it?"
"But you don't mean it. Flynn Rider says stuff to make things better for himself. You're only making me feel good about myself so you can get something out of it."
"I don't know..." she muttered.
"Well there's your answer. I was complimenting you because you should feel good about yourself. You DO look pretty today. That's not Flynn talking. It's Eugene," he mumbled, slightly embarrassed. He tied the braid tightly together, being careful not to pull it too hard. He stood up and circled around Rapunzel, who refused to look at him. He held out a hand, and she reluctantly took it.
"Eugene, why do you hate my mother so much?" she asked as he pulled her up. He thought about it a moment as Rapunzel stared anxiously up into his eyes.
"If it makes a difference, I didn't hate her before I met you. I just thought she was another regular stuck-up celebrity. But then I saw how she treats you and talks to you. It makes me mad, to be quite honest. In the one day I've spent with you, you haven't done a single thing worth yelling about. So, yeah, I don't like your Mother. But if you want me to, I'll lay off the criticism."
Rapunzel looked astonished at his speech, surprised that he saw the mistreatment too. She had always just assumed that she was overreacting and that all mothers treated their daughters like this. She suddenly wrapped her arms around Eugene's waist and closed her eyes tightly. He hesitated, but hugged her back, gently.
"You're right Eugene. She's not always very nice," Rapunzel whispered, "But she's the only mother I've got, and there's nowhere else I can go. That's why today is so important to me. This is something that's all mine, something that Mother can't take away from me. This is MY day. For one day in my life I get to have total control. That's all I want, Eugene." He wrapped an arm around her back, the other hand stroking her hair.
"Okay then, Punzie. Let's make today special," he said in a reassuring voice. She pulled away slightly to see a warm smile on his face. Eugene felt slightly annoyed with what a big softie he was becoming, but he was starting to dislike the guilty feeling in his stomach whenever he said or did something mean to Rapunzel.
"So hey, I had an idea," he said, attempting to change the subject.
"What if I took pictures of today? You could hide them in a book or something. Then you could always remember." Rapunzel looked surprised, but also excited at the prospect of being able to look back whenever she wanted to.
"Okay! I think I can hide them pretty well. How do you take pictures?"
"Remember my camera? From my bag? The heavy black thing?"
"Yeah, I remember. You take pictures with it?"
"Yup, that's what it's for. If you give me that back I can take pictures for you and we can get them developed tonight." Rapunzel looked suspicious. Eugene sighed and dealt with her skepticism. "Look. I'll go wait outside the door. You can go grab the camera and I won't know where you're hiding my bag. Okay?"
"Okay," Rapunzel agreed. Eugene walked out the door, closing it tightly. He leaned against a wall and waited for Rapunzel. It kinda felt good, doing something nice for her. Pictures would help her remember, and if she was going to be stuck up in that apartment her whole life, she may as well be able to look back on happy memories.
The door suddenly burst open and Rapunzel appeared. She held out his camera by the strap as it dangled precariously.
"Hey! Careful with that!" Eugene yelped, snatching the camera away. It was the most expensive thing he owned, and quite a piece of equipment. If this thing broke, he'd have to take his paparazzi shots with some cheap digital camera, and he couldn't imagine stooping so low.
"Sorry, Eugene..." Rapunzel apologized, her eyes planted on the ground. Eugene sighed.
"It's okay, Blondie. No harm done." He hung the camera around his neck and smiled at the familiar weight. Rapunzel sidled up to him and touched the camera careful as it rested on his chest.
"How does it work?"
"Easy," he said, pulling the camera up and taking off the lens cap. He snapped a quick candid picture of Rapunzel and waited as the preview showed up on the digital screen. She had a surprised face at the flash of the camera, her eyes larger than normal. He chuckled a bit, but Rapunzel just cocked her head and planted her hands on her hips.
"So when do I get the actual picture?" she asked.
"Well, normally I'd prefer to get these professional developed, but because we're strapped for time we can just get these printed out at a drugstore or something. Lower quality, but it's fast and cheap." Rapunzel nodded her approval and Eugene wondered how much of his sentence she had actually understood. She peeked over Eugene's shoulder to catch a better glimpse at the camera screen.
"You wouldn't possibly be thinking of keeping some of these pictures for your story, would you?" she asked, giving him a threatening look.
"What? No! Geez, Rapunzel, give a guy some credit here. You can stay up here as your mom's dirty little secret if that's what you want." She eyed him suspiciously but nodded slowly.
"Okay. Because if I see or hear about some article about me... You're in huge trouble. Got it?"
"I got it," Eugene agreed, resisting the urge to argue that she probably wouldn't hear about the news anyway since she was trapped up here all the time. But he bit his tongue and was rewarded with a bright smile.
"Well then, shall we get going?" she asked in her normal cheerful tone.
"Yeah, sure, kid. Ready when you are." He was dreading today and he wasn't sure why. He should want to avoid today because it meant another day babysitting this lunatic who was hiding his satchel. But that wasn't why he was upset. He was dreading today for some other reason, something deeper. He just couldn't put a finger on it. There she was, pressing the button outside the double elevator doors, shuffling from side to side. She had this big goofy grin on her face that Eugene had grown a bit fond of. The elevator doors slid open and the pair stepped in. Rapunzel held back the urge to scream. It was finally happening. Up until today, yesterday had been the best day of her life. She was so ready to change that.
Eugene was almost sick of standing in lines. He was thankful that Rapunzel had dragged him here midweek, instead of on a Saturday. Weekends were really packed. It was a quarter till ten, and the two stood near the front of the line to get into the park. Rapunzel was chatting with a nearby family, telling them how excited she was and how much she had looked forward to the day.
"And then Eugene said he wasn't scared of elevators anymore and I had cured him!" she said, prideful of herself. Meanwhile, Eugene stared at a fascinating smudge of dirt on his shoes, avoiding the glances of nearby people. Rapunzel waved her goodbye to the family.
"Everyone here is just so nice!" she gushed, turning back to Eugene. He gave her a pained grin as a nearby clock struck ten till the hour.
"So what are we doing first in the park?" he asked her.
"Well, you're supposed to be my expert guide. What are we supposed to do?"
"Well, uh, some of the more popular rides can get pretty crowded. I guess we can head straight towards one of those so we can get it over with and not have to wait in line two hours."
"Sounds good!" Rapunzel chirped, "Are we going to have to wait two hours for all the other rides?"
"Nah, probably not. There's this system thing... I don't really know how to describe it. Don't worry. I'll make sure you get on every ride that catches your eye," he promised.
"Thank you, Eugene. Is there anything else I should know?"
"I'm not really sure. I figure we'll probably just cross that bridge when we come to it. Oh, remember how yesterday the other park was sort of broken up into different themes?"
"They do that here too. You'll see. Honestly I don't want to say much more about it and ruin the experience for you." Rapunzel nodded and nudged him with an arm.
"Thanks, Eugene. You know, you're not so bad."
"You're not horrible yourself, Blondie."
After what seemed like a thousand years, the doors finally began to open and the lines moved by. Eugene ushered Rapunzel forward. She pushed through the turnstile and made it to the other side, waiting for Eugene. He rushed through the gates, not wanting to keep Rapunzel waiting. Without thinking he offered her his hand. She glanced at him questioningly.
"Look, it's going to get really busy, really fast. I don't want you getting lost in the crowd," he said quickly. Rapunzel placed a small hand in his, intertwining their fingers. The crowd wasn't even that bad. But hey, why risk anything, right? Her hands were warm and sort of squishy, soft like a baby's. He didn't really like hand-holding. Even when he kept a girl for longer than a night, they didn't really do a lot of hand-holding. It just felt sweaty and uncomfortable. It wasn't as bad with Rapunzel. They began to trek down the main road, Rapunzel's eyes catching on everything.
"Mmm..." she hummed, inhaling deeply, "Eugene, their cookies smell even better than mine."
"You know, I haven't had your cookies yet, but I actually kinda doubt that theirs are better."
"Maybe we'll have to put them to the test later. Mother isn't coming home till tomorrow, maybe I can whip you up a quick batch before you go tonight?"
"Yeah," he agreed, "That'd be great." Rapunzel continued pointing things out to him, making little remarks.
"I like the little details they put into things."
"Well, I mean the buildings all look like they belong in the same time period. The pathways are perfectly paved. Everything just looks like it fits together, you know? Like a puzzle."
"Yeah, I get it. Once you get past the commercialism, it's a pretty magical place," he admitted. They reached the central hub and Eugene turned to face Rapunzel.
"So where do we go first? Your choice," he said, pointing her towards the castle.
"Well, what are my choices?" she asked.
"Yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy," he said dramatically. Rapunzel looked at him with disbelief.
"Sorry, that was cheesy," he apologized, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Let's start with the castle," she decided with a smile on her face.
"Sounds good," he replied, letting her take the lead to the drawbridge.
"Whose castle does this belong to, Eugene?"
"Sleeping Beauty. She was a princess."
"A real one?"
"Nah, just a made- up one in a story. An evil witch made her fall into a deep sleep that she couldn't wake up from."
"Oh! Well, what happened to her? Did she wake up?"
"Yeah, she did. Disney movies always have a happy ending. A prince woke her up."
"How? Did he yell at her or something?"
"Nah, he just let a demon cat into her room."
"Very funny, Eugene. You know, Pascal is actually very sweet."
"That's something I'd have to see to believe."
"So how'd he wake her up?" Rapunzel asked eagerly as they approached the towering castle.
"Well, he kissed her."
"You know what kissing is, right?"
"Of course I do! I give mother a kiss goodbye every day. I just don't get it. What was so special about his kiss?"
"Ah, um, it was true love's kiss."
"Oh okay. Eugene why do people kiss anyway?"
"Geez, do I have to be the one to explain this to you? Um, people kiss to show that they like each other. You kiss your mom cause you like her, right?"
"Yes, but she's not my true love."
"No, of course not. There's different kinds of kisses I guess. Like, family kisses and romantic kisses."
"Oh, I think I get it. Have you ever kissed someone, Eugene?"
"Yeah, of course, Blondie."
"A lot of people?"
"Uh, just some girls."
"Were they family kisses or romantic kisses?"
"Geez, lay off the interrogation, will ya? Look, here's the castle." Rapunzel stepped beneath the arch, staring upwards at the ceiling. She inspected every little corner of the castle, trying to visualize the architecture behind it. Finally she walked through the other end of the castle, trailing behind Eugene. He watched in amusement as her eyes lit up as she took in the little fake village. Before he know it, Eugene was being dragged through the crowd, Rapunzel's hand in his. It was still early enough that lines were brief, or nonexistent. Within an hour they'd been on half the rides in the Fantasyland section of the park and Rapunzel was still restless.
"Eugene?" she asked earnestly as they walked along the cobblestone path."
"Not that I don't like the rides we've been going on but is there anything that maybe goes a little faster?"
"Yeah there is. Mainly in other parts of the park. Is my little adrenaline junkie craving big scary rides?" he asked in a babyish voice, bopping her nose. Rapunzel was obviously not amused.
"Eugene, I don't know what an 'adrenaline junkie' is, but it doesn't sound too nice. Also maybe we can grab a snack? I keep walking by all these stands and everything looks really good."
"Sure thing Blondie. What are you craving?"
"One of those," she said, pointing to a nearby stand.
"They smell delicious. Like cinnamon. What are they exactly?"
"You've had a doughnut before, right?"
"Yeah. Once mother let me have one."
"It's sort of like a long doughnut. But rolled in cinnamon sugar."
"That sounds amazing... Can I have one?"
"No need to ask permission. Go ahead. Get me one too while you're at it."
"What's the magic word?" she teased.
"Very funny," she dead-panned.
"Okay, okay. PLEASE get me a churro as well because I also have a craving for a delicious fried treat. I'm gonna stay back here, okay? You can practice buying things by yourself again." Rapunzel grinned and started towards the cart, thirty feet away. Eugene watched with a small smile as she stood in the line, still gazing around at the park.
"Flynn?" a feminine voice called out from behind him.
"Is that you?"
No no no no no.
"It is you, isn't it, Flynn? What are you doing here? You got fired years ago!"
"Hi there, Stacy," he said sheepishly, turning around to face his fate. In front of him stood one of his least favorite coworkers. Ex-coworkers. He was really hoping he wouldn't run into anyone but fortune didn't always smile upon him. Stacy was a tall, beautiful model-esque girl, which had nabbed her the job of being a face character. Today she was in Snow White attire, but Eugene could see the blonde hair poking out slightly beneath her wig. She looked as beautiful as ever, with fair skin and a perfect smile. But thanks to her, Eugene had established one major dating rule:
Never date anyone crazy.
"I thought I wouldn't ever see you again, Flynn! And you never called or answered my emails, I thought something awful happened to you!" she said in a false sweet tone, rushing forward to hug him.
"Well, here I am. Just fine. No need to worry. And you know, you should really be getting to your job, I think kids are starting to notice, and really they deserve your attention a lot more than I do," he said, in an attempt to get her to leave. He really didn't want to think about what might happen if Rapunzel came back while this crazy woman was still around.
"You're right, Flynnikins. We should meet up after my shift. Then I can give you all the attention you need."
"You know, that sounds great, wonderful really, but today is kind of a bad day for me and I'm really busy and-" he said, stumbling upon his words.
Eugene wasn't normally afraid of anyone, certainly not girls. But Stacy could be really frightening. When he was about two months away from being fired, she had started working at the park and Eugene noticed her immediately. She invited him to a party and after about six drinks too many, he'd found a certain gorgeous blonde wrapped around him. Unaware of the consequences, he gave in and woke up the next morning to a beautiful girl searching through his belongings.
"What are you DOING?"
"If we're going to live together, you have GOT to get rid of this shirt. It's so ratty. I can get you something nicer at the mall."
"What? Move in together?"
"You said we should last night. Remember? You said that I should stay at your place."
"Well, yeah, for the night! Not forever!"
"That's not how I remember it. But fine. I get it. You're not ready to let your girlfriend move in. You need your 'man space'."
"You have a horrible memory. I'll see you later at work. Love you, Flynnikins!"
He spent the last few months of his employment hiding from the threatening gaze of his "girlfriend", constantly trying to explain to her that they weren't dating. She just laughed it off, telling him how hilarious his jokes were. Shortly after getting fired, she started showing up at his home, until he finally broke it off completely, explaining that he was not now nor ever would be interested in dating her. She hadn't taken the news very well. Eugene woke up the next morning to a dozen hate messages on his voicemail featuring her shrill voice and splattered eggs on his front door. Now here she was, back in his life.
"Well, you should probably know that after you broke my heart, I eventually had to overcome my grief somehow. I'm afraid I'm someone else's girlfriend now, Flynn. You lost me forever, and you won't get me back."
"Didn't you just ask me out after work?" he asked, a bit confused.
"Oh, you always were so persuasive. Okay, I'll give you one more chance." She advanced towards him as he slowly took a few steps back, finally hitting a wall.
"You know, this is a really bad idea, Stacey," he said assertively, his words wavering only slightly.
"Why's that? Afraid your little girlfriend might catch us?"
"Yes. Err, no. I mean, she's not my girlfriend. Just a friend."
"She didn't look like 'just a friend'. She's a cute little thing, I guess. But to be honest, I think you can do much better."
"Sorry, Stacey. Not interested," he said firmly, crossing his arms. She frowned but backed off slightly.
"I'm back!" Rapunzel's sweet voice called as she walked towards Eugene. He sighed with relief at her smiling face. Stacey flipped around to face the girl. Rapunzel immediately halted, surprised by this new person. But she smiled anyway and introduced herself.
"Hi, I'm Rapunzel. It's lovely to meet you."
"Rapunzel?" the girl scoffed. She turned to give a look of disbelief to Eugene.
"Umm, yes. I know it's kind of a strange name," Rapunzel murmured, suddenly ashamed of herself. Why hadn't Mother given her a more normal name?
"I was just catching up with an old friend," Eugene explained, walking over to Rapunzel, "In fact, we should probably get going and let Stacey get back to work. See you around!" He grabbed Rapunzel's empty hand and led her back through the crowds, hoping to get lost in the sea of people. He felt Stacey's icy stare boring into his back, but he ignored it, finally slowing down slightly.
"Eugene? Is everything okay?" Rapunzel asked, concern in her voice.
"Yeah, everything's fine. Come on, over here," he said, leading her to the side of a building, slightly off the path.
"She didn't look too happy to see you go," Rapunzel noted.
"Really? I didn't notice," he remarked sarcastically.
"You two weren't really friends, were you?"
"Ah, no. Not really. Back when I worked here, she kinda got it into her head that we were dating. And I was really not interested."
"Why not?" Rapunzel asked, "She was really pretty."
"Yeah, I know. But being attractive isn't everything."
"Mother always makes it seem like it is. She's always telling me what's wrong with my face or my hair or my nails," Rapunzel said quietly. Eugene did a quick look back to see that they weren't being followed and turned to face Rapunzel.
"Cheer up, Punzie," he said, "I think your mom is just as crazy as Stacey. I don't see anything wrong with your face or your hair or your nails. "
"I'm not good at putting on make-up, my hair always falls in my face, and I bite my nails."
"You don't need make-up, your mom doesn't even let you put up your hair, and my nails are a train-wreck too," he rebuked, holding up his own hand. Rapunzel looked at his rough palm and short nails.
"I bite mine when Mother yells at me. Then it just kinda makes her yell some more," she admitted.
"It's a nervous habit for me. Every time I feel like stealing something, I end up chewing on my nails instead. I'd rather have screwed-up nails than a jail sentence for being caught stealing."
"Yeah, I'd rather you be here with chewed- up nails instead of in jail too," Rapunzel said, squeezing his hand. Eugene laughed softly and squeezed her tiny hand back. They stood there smiling for a few seconds before Eugene coughed slightly, breaking the silence.
"Well, now that we're not being chased by Crazy Stacey, maybe we should get going. Maybe another section of the park?" he suggested.
"Okay," Rapunzel agreed, "Oh! And here! I almost forgot about these." Rapunzel handed him one of the churros that she'd been holding the whole time. Eugene laughed and took it from her waiting hand. They each took a bite, Rapunzel giving him a thumbs up. Cinnamon sugar sprinkled around the corners of her mouth. Eugene reached out, carefully dusting it away. Rapunzel smiled and leaned in closer towards him.
"Ah, we should get going, remember?" Eugene said quietly, backing away with some reluctance. Rapunzel followed him back onto the path, concern on her face. Eugene tried to ignore it, but it was damn near impossible. He didn't want to upset her. In fact, he wanted to go the extra mile to make things good for her. That didn't usually happen. It'd been a long time since he had been looking out for anyone else. But something about Rapunzel just seemed... Nice. Being with her made time go faster, but in a good sort of way.
What's wrong with me? All these feelings for just a girl? No, she's more than just a girl. She much better than that. Eugene's head spun as they marched through the crowds, Rapunzel eager to see everything.
He could really only come to one conclusion. One conclusion that he hated but needed at the same time. He denied it, arguing with himself in his head. They went on ride after ride, ate snack after snack, and laughed and talked until his throat was dry. But still Eugene just fought off the idea. He couldn't be in love. That would be ridiculous. Flynn Rider does not fall in love. Although he supposed Eugene Fitzherbert could. But what did he know? How could he be sure this was love anyway? Maybe it was just some dumb attraction.
But there she was. Holding his hand, smiling at everyone they passed, smiling at him, swaying her head to the music, dropping his hand- wait why would she do that?
Rapunzel had run off to a small area where musicians played jazz music for the passing folk, mostly ignored by everyone.
But not Rapunzel.
She was the girl who never left her home. Everything was hidden from her. She couldn't even see the bad in people.
But damn, she could dance.
Eugene watched as a crowd slowly formed around Rapunzel's quick feet. He didn't even know what kind of dance she was doing. It wasn't modern, but it wasn't something classical either. She was spinning and shuffling and shaking in a way entirely of her own. Eugene watched as she pulled in other people to dance with her, starting up an enormous crowd. She grabbed Eugene's reluctant hand, pulling him close to her. He clumsily tried to follow her movements, only causing her to giggle. The jazz played louder and harder and faster as Rapunzel and Flynn spun around. The song ended with a flourish, the audience clapping and cheering. Eugene stared at the girl in his arms, face flushed, smile bright.
And then just as quickly as she had shown up, Rapunzel disappeared from the crowd. She grabbed Eugene by the hand and ducked through the throngs of people, walking along the pathway as if nothing happened. She just wanted to make the day a little bit better for everyone. She didn't even want the credit or appreciation.
That was when he knew he loved her.
A/N: Whew! Well, it's taken about a month to get this far, but I'm pretty proud of this chapter, especially the end. I wrote just a few paragraphs here and there every day or two. And I know it's a cliche to say that the reviews kept me going, but they really did. I'd log into fan fiction sometimes and see a new wonderful review and I'd just feel fantastic about myself. I'll try to get the next chapter out before the end of December, but no promises. Also please feel free to point out any grammatical or spelling errors I might have made, but please bear in mind that I typed all of this out on my phone, and even though I've double checked it, I'm only human. Oh! Also! If your name is Stacey, please don't be offended. The name has no particular meaning to me, I just plucked it out of my head at random.