AN: Last one of the original three, though if you guys want, I'd be happy to write more and add them! LOTS of cute daddy stuff going on here with R, I just LOVED writing it all!
I OWN NOTHING (except Diane) AND DENY EVERYTHING! XD
"Don't let go, Daddy!"
"I have to eventually, kiddo," I say. I am currently holding the handlebars of the bike that Diane is on. She is seven years old, and this is her first time on a bike without training wheels. On Julie's suggestion, it is one with tires that are a bit wider than most bike tires, which Julie says will help her balance a little better while she's still learning how to. I have to take Julie's word for it when it comes to things like this, because with my lack of memory of my old life, I don't really know much about things like riding bikes. I tried to ride one once a few years ago, and I was able to do it with a lot of difficulty, and probably only thanks to what Julie still claims was muscle memory. I myself have never been too sure that such a thing can apply in the case of someone that spent who-knows-how-long as a Corpse and spent all day just shuffling around and groaning. But, then again, who knows? If the Dead can come back to Life, then God only knows what other sort of things might be possible.
Right now, Diane is practically begging me not to let go of the bike, but I just shake my head, tell her to hold on and keep pedalling, then let go and watch as she keeps on going down the street for about ten feet, then suddenly skids the bike to a stop. She looks at me over her shoulder, and her eyes are wide with a mixture of fear and excitement, but her smile is huge, and that's what matters most to me right now. I return her smile as I run over to make sure she's alright. "You were doing great, why did you stop?" I ask. She blows some hair out of her eyes and shakes her head. "Too fast," she says. "Don't they make some kind of spedometer for these things?"
I laugh. "Unfortuanately, no, they don't," I say. "On a bike, you pretty much are the spedometer." Diane frowns. "That's dumb," she says. "If cars get spedometers, then why don't bikes?" I think about this for a minute as we begin walking the bike back in the direction we came, then shrug. "I honestly don't know," I tell her. "Maybe because bikes came first? That'd be my best guess." Diane gives me her famous "are-you-for-real" look. "Dad," she says, "bikes did not come before cars, come on."
"Hey, I might not be the best historian in our family," I say, "but I'm pretty sure I'm right about this one, ask your mom if you don't believe me."
"Oh, believe me, I'm going to," she tells me, flashing a grin that shows off the gaps left from the two baby teeth that she recently lost. Then she takes off towards the house without any warning. "Last one home's a rotted Corpse!" she calls over her shoulder. "Hey, no fair!" I yell. "I wasn't ready for that, you cheater!" All I get in response is laughter.
By the time I reach the house, Diane is standing at the top of the porch steps with her arms crossed and a smug grin. I deliberately bend over so that she can't see my face while I set the bike down, then screw up my face before straightening back up. Just as I expect and intend, she doubles over, shreiking with laughter. The noise draws Julie out of the house to see what's going on, and when I see her, I momentarily forget about everything else in the world, and for that brief instant, she is the only thing in it.
I follow the girls inside, and Diane announces that she's hungry and wants to know when lunch is. Julie tells her it's almost ready, then shoos her into the living room for the time being, telling me to go keep her busy and out of the kitchen, so I follow Diane into the living room, only to find that she has comandeered the electric keyboard that sits in one corner of the room. She is sitting on the stool that goes with the keyboard, banging out some random, meaningless jumble of notes ranging all the way from one end of the keyboard to the other. She likes to do this sometimes, though neither Julie nor I really understands why, or what exactly the point of it is, especially since Diane knows perfectly well how to read sheet music and play actual songs, just like I do.
"Hey," I say to her over the noise of her tangled up song. "What the heck happened to 'I'm gonna practice that Puccini song when we get back from bike practice,' huh?" She stops her banging long enough to shrug at me. "This is more fun," she says, and then promptly goes back to pounding on the keys. She stops again suddenly, a thoughtful look on her face. "Hey, Mom?" she calls. "Yeah?" Julie's voice says from the kitchen. "Did bikes come before cars?" Diane asks. Julie appears in the living room doorway, a slightly confused look on her face and a damp towel hanging over her shoulder. "Where on earth is this coming from?" she asks. "Dad says that bikes came first, but I don't think they did. It was cars first, then bikes, wasn't it?"
Julie shakes her head. "No, actually, I'm pretty sure he's right. I'm almost positive that pictures of people on bikes existed before pictures of people in Model T's did. I'm afraid Dad wins this round." I flash Diane a look that says, "told you." Julie hits me on the shoulder with the towel. I wince from the sting. "Ouch! Jeez, what'd you do, rat-tail that thing?" I ask. She just smirks, then gives me a wink. "Wash up, guys," she says. "Lunch is on the table."
"About time!" Diane shouts, leaping down from the stool and racing into the kitchen. As I watch her run, I can't help but think how much she looks like Julie from behind with her blonde hair flying out behind her the way it does.
Diane has just come into her bedroom. She is dressed in a black t-shirt that has (among a few other things) a pink owl on it and says, "Who said it was time for bed?" with matching pink pajama pants that have the owl printed all over them. Her hair is braided into pigtails, and she has just finished brushing her teeth. Julie follows her into the room, and Diane runs towards the bed, jumping onto it and making the mattress bounce a little bit as she burrows headfirst underneath the covers, leaving her feet exposed. I tickle the bottom of one. She squeals, and her feet vanish beneath the comforter with the rest of her, then the lump moves around for a moment before she pokes her head out and grins at me and Julie. "Tell me about the princess in the tower again," she says. "Please?" Julie gives me a gentle nudge and a slight nod. Ever since this story became the one that Diane asks for most frequently, Julie has made me memorize so that she is not always the one telling it. I sit down next to Diane on her bed.
"Once upon a time," I say, "in a far off kingdom, there lived a king and queen who loved each other very much, and the queen was going to have a baby soon. But one day, she got very sick, and the doctors told the king that the only way she could be cured was with a magical flower that was said to have bloomed when a single drop of sunlight fell to the earth. The king sent all of his men on a search for the flower, and they found it and brought it back. They put the flower in some water, and the queen drank it, and got better. But what nobody knew was that a witch named Gothel had been using the flower for centuries to keep herself young so that she would never die, and when the king's men picked the flower so their queen could get better, Gothel was left without a way to stay young.
"Well, eventually, the queen had her baby. A little girl, with beautiful golden hair. The king and queen named the baby princess Rapunzel, and the entire kingdom celebrated with them, and everybody adored the little princess. One night, while the king, queen, and princess were asleep, Gothel snuck into their room and cut off a single lock of Rapunzel's hair, knowing that the flower's magic would still work through the baby, but as soon as she did, that piece of hair turned brown. Gothel realized that the magic couldn't work if the hair was cut, and she panicked, thinking she heard guards. So she took the baby from her crib, and disappeared into the night.
"Years went by, and the princess grew up into a beautiful young woman. Gothel never allowed her to cut her hair, though, and so as the princess grew, her hair grew also. Gothel kept the princess in a tall tower in the forest, where nobody would ever think to look for either of them. This tower had no doors, only a single window at the top. So every day, Gothel would come and go through this window. The princess would use her long hair to lower Gothel to the ground, and when Gothel returned, she would call up, 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!' And the princess would drop her hair out the window, then use it to lift Gothel back into the tower.
"Well, one day, a prince who was riding through the forest heard a beautiful voice singing, and so he followed it until he found a tower. He saw a young woman in the tower's window, and she was the one who was singing. She had beautiful blonde hair that she was brushing, and the prince fell in love with her. He searched the tower, but didn't find any doors. When he heard someone coming, he hid. It was Gothel, and the prince watched her as she called, 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!' And he saw how the princess lifted Gothel into the tower with her hair. So, the next day, he returned. After Gothel had left, he went to stand beneath the window, and he called, 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!' And so the princess let down her hair, and the prince was lifted into the tower just like Gothel. For the next few weeks, the prince would come to visit the princess every day, and over time, she fell in love with him just as he had fallen in love with her. One day, though, Gothel came back early."
"No!" Diane says. "Yes!" I say. Julie laughs. "The prince tried to hide, but Gothel found him. She was furious, and in her anger, she accidentally let it slip that she wasn't Rapunzel's mother, which was what Rapunzel had always believed. Realizing her mistake, Gothel tried to cover it up, but it was too late, and the prince looked at Rapunzel and said, 'You are the lost princess of the kingdom that is neighbor to mine! You must be, for you look just like her! How did I not see it before?' Gothel knew then that there was no more point in trying to lie, so she admitted that the prince had spoken the truth, and told Rapunzel of how she had taken her in the dead of night when she was just a baby.
"She then broke a nearby mirror and picked up one of the shards, then stabbed the prince with it. While Gothel stood over his body cackling in triumph, Rapunzel, determined not to let Gothel win, quietly picked up a shard of her own and used it to chop off all her hair, leaving it short and ragged. It turned brown, and so did everything she had cut off. As soon as the hair had left Rapunzel's head, Gothel had felt a pain in her chest and stopped laughing. She turned and saw Rapunzel standing there with the shard of glass in one hand, and the other hand clenched around the end of all her hair. As Gothel watched in horror, Rapunzel let the hair fall to the ground. Gothel began to age rapidly and stumbled backwards until she had one hand on the windowsill. Within moments, she was an ancient old woman, just skin and bones. Rapunzel went to stand in front of her and said, 'This is for my parents.' And without another word, she put one hand on Gothel's chest and pushed, sending Gothel out the window. By the time her cloak hit the ground, there was nothing left of Gothel.
"Rapunzel then rushed back over to the prince and knelt down beside him. She held him in her arms and began to cry over his death, but when the first of her tears touched his cheek, something amazing happened. The tear sank into his skin, and from the spot where it had gone, a warm golden glow began to spread all over his body until finally, he opened his eyes and gasped. He took Rapunzel back to her parents' castle, and they were overjoyed to see that their daughter was safe. The next few months were spent planning, and when the planning was over, there was a big, beautiful wedding at the castle, and everybody in the entire kingdom was invited to see the prince and princess get married."
"And they lived happily ever after, right?" Diane asks. I look at Julie and raise an eyebrow. "I dunno," I say. "What do you think, Julie? Did they live happily ever after?" She laughs softly, then nods. "Yeah," she says. "I'd say they definitely did." Diane sighs happily. "I wish I was a princess so that I could meet a prince and live happily ever after, just like Rapunzel," she says. Then she lets out a big yawn. "Sounds like it's time to go to sleep," Julie says. Diane sticks out her bottom lip in a pout. "But I don't wanna!" she says. "Yes you do," I tell her as I get up and pull her covers up over her. "No I don't," she retorts. I open my mouth to reply, but Julie shoots me a look that clearly says not to get started with one of these games right now, so instead of my originally planned response, I just say, "If you don't at least try to get to sleep, the boogeyman will come and eat you, and I don't think you want that anymore than your mom and I do. So at the very least, I'd close my eyes and try to just relax if I were you."
She giggles as I kiss her on the forehead. "'Night, kiddo," I say. Diane grabs her stuffed panda toy and hugs it close to her chest. "'Night, Daddy," she says. I wait patiently in her doorway for Julie to finish telling her goodnight, then we leave the room together. Once we're far enough away from Diane's room that we can talk without disturbing her, I turn to Julie. "That story wouldn't happen to be based on true events, would it?" I ask, raising an eyebrow. She laughs softly and shakes her head.
"It's an actual fairy tale," she says. "It was one of the ones that was originally recorded by the Brothers Grimm. Disney made it into a movie called Tangled, only the prince became an outlaw named Flynn Rider, whose real name he later tells Rapunzel is Eugen Fitzherbert, and instead of seeing her from a distance and falling love, he climbed into the tower to escape from the people who were chasing him after he'd stolen the missing princess' tiara, and then Rapunzel hit him on the head with a frying pan and knocked him out. And instead of visiting her every day, he took her out of the tower for the first time in her life, and they ended up having this crazy adventure and eventually fell in love and got separated courtesy of Gothel and her deceit, then Razpunzel figured out she was the missing princess by putting clues together in her head, then Flynn showed up and...well...Long story short, Rapunzel cut her hair, Flynn died and came back to life, Gothel disintegrated, and then Flynn and Rapunzel got married at the end."
She lets out a breath. "I sort of just created my own version of it by combining traditional elements of the story with things from the movie, then filling in the parts I forgot with my own details, but I took out Disney's ongoing gag about Flynn's nose." I have to repress a snort. "I'm sorry, what?" I say. Julie rolls her eyes. "There was this running gag throughout the movie where on all the wanted posters of Flynn, his nose would be drawn completely wrong and it would look ridiculous, and he would be complaining about how his nose was, quote, 'not that difficult to draw, I mean seriously, guys, come on! What's up with this, this is just embarrassing!' It was just a goofy little joke they threw in for the fun of it, that's all." She studies me for a moment. "'True events,'" she says as we head into our room. "Now what on earth could you mean by that?"
I can tell from her expression that she is messing with me and knows perfectly well what I meant by it and why I asked it. I laugh and kiss her, the two of us falling onto the bed together. "I love you," I whisper. And even though we haven't bothered to turn on any lights, I know that she is smiling in the darkness between us. "I love you too, R," she says. And then her fingers have tangled themselves into my hair, and our lips have met once again.
AN: That just seemed like the perfect moment to wrap up with, don't you think? n_n Like I said, if you guys want, I'd be happy to write more of these one-shots to add on to this with!