Author's Note: This story is the collected writings of a roleplay I did with TheSmokinSmolder on tumblr. It's an AU, and I wrote all of the Rapunzel parts and he wrote all of the Flynn parts. It's not meant to be a work of literary grandeur, but we enjoyed writing it and some enjoyed reading it, so I collected it for easy reading.

If you're wondering, yes, I'm still working on Freudian, Jungian, and Her Everything, and I do plan to update them, but I don't know when. This AU is unrelated to them.

CHAPTER 1 – DESPERATE TIMES

RAPUNZEL

The entire university was abuzz with talk of the homecoming dance. It was the first major social event of the school year. For Rapunzel, who had been homeschooled growing up and rarely let outside the house for any reason at all, it was the first major social event of her life. One thing had been made abundantly clear: you must have a date.

Much to her dismay, she hadn't made friends too easily at university so far. She tried - she really tried - and she was very friendly with the faculty and staff, but it was a different story with her peers. She didn't understand their references, couldn't converse with them about pop culture, and just generally didn't know what was going on. People were not really outwardly cruel to her, but they weren't overly friendly either. She certainly didn't have a date, or anyone she could even think to ask or hope would ask her.

But she really wanted to go to the dance. She wanted to experience the music and dancing and finger foods, and she wanted to see the decor and get all dressed up and be part of the school spirit. She'd never been part of anything before. She needed to find a date.

She was on the campus shuttle one day when she spotted a local circular about events. The back page was riddled with interesting advertisements about people. She thought this might be a good place to start looking for a date the hard way. Most of the ads were in code - DDF. BBW. 420Friendly. Well, friendly sounded good. But she didn't know about those other acronyms and she'd gotten in trouble for not reading directions properly before.

Then she saw a half page ad with a photo of several handsome men in suits. They looked very charming and fancy, like they were ready for a dance! The heading said "LADIES, FINALLY AN ESCORT SERVICE FOR YOU!"

"For me?" Rapunzel gasped aloud, looking around the shuttle to see if she was being watched. How did they know? She read further.

"We have hundreds of attractive, available men excited to meet you. One fee for the night - wherever it leads you." Then there was a phone number.

She thought for a while. She had some money… she'd been saving her allowance for basically her entire life. And this was a big night for her. Maybe hiring a professional date was a good idea. An 'escort.' Someone to take her to the dance! Who was handsome and excited to meet her! They'd have a great time, and she'd learn a lot, maybe enough to manage the next one on her own, or figure out at least something about dating.

Between classes, she punched the number into her phone. A female receptionist picked up and asked her a bunch of questions.

"How tall do you want 'im?"

Rapunzel furrowed her brow. She hadn't known she'd have choices about these things. "Um… medium? I'm short, so not too tall."

"What color hair? Eyes?"

She frowned. She was supposed to have a preference? Well, she'd had enough blonde. She was pretty fond of brown hair, she supposed. "Brown hair. And…" there was a nice dog that hung around her dormitory grounds that had huge friendly brown eyes. "And brown eyes. Or brown-ish. I'm flexible."

"What type do you like?"

"Type?"

"Book type? Athletic type? Artsy type?"

Oh, those all sounded good. She liked people. "Someone… who likes to talk!" she said excitedly. "I love to learn. Someone who knows a lot and likes to talk. And is good in social situations. And is… open minded," she said. That seemed like a polite way to say she needed someone patient and willing to give her a break when she inevitably embarrassed herself.

The receptionist confirmed they had a perfect man for her and gave her a quote for a fee that would need to be paid up front.

She hoped he was perfect. It was going to cost her entire piggy bank.

FLYNN

It had been a long and lucrative night. He'd made a killing as usual. God, he was gifted and he was damn proud of it, making a living off partying and schmoozing beautiful women. It was every man's dream come true. That night he'd been with a married woman, whose husband was apparently always out of town on business and dropped the ball on every social event they'd ever planned on attending together. It was sad for her... not so much for Flynn's wallet though. She was married and 24. Younger than he was and already living a wealthy but very lonely life.

The plan was to take her to the ballet. If asked, it wouldn't have been his idea of a great night, but she was a paying customer and of course she was calling the shots. When he arrived to pick her up though, she yanked him inside and cashed in on the reason for his high dollar price tag. The ballet was quickly forgotten. He had more talent in his little finger than the whole damn Coronian ballet troupe and this woman was thankfully bright enough to realize it.

It wasn't until 5am that he slipped out of bed, dressed, and headed out into the cool morning air, leaving behind one of his business cards on the empty pillow beside her. He didn't glance back at her sleeping form, he held no attachments to her or anyone else. He hung his tie loosely around his neck and headed across the condo parking deck towards his black sports car.

Iit was only a short drive home, his condo was on ritzy side of town, with great views of the ocean. Sleek and modern, he had everything he wanted (or thought he wanted). He was almost home when his cell rang and he answered, the escort receptionist's voice filtering through his speakers. Rosie sounded too chipper today.

"Hey handsome, how's it going? we just had a new job come in. Seems like a perfect fit for you." He heard her shuffling papers papers as she snapped her gum.

"Oh yeah?" he drawled, shifting gears. "Got a hot one for me tonight, babe? Text me the address and her stats. I'm heading home for a shower and a nap."

Within the hour, he'd received the info but he paid it no mind, taking a shower, napping and then eating some leftover eggrolls and wontons in front of the TV. The vh1 sports illustrated swimsuit edition special was on and it held his attention completely for an entire hour. When it was over it was time to dress for his 'date' and head out. He dressed in a white button down shirt, tie, black pants and jacket which were tailored to fit him perfectly. His GPS lead the way down to the corona university campus student housing.

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel had fussed and fretted over her outfit for the dance for a long time. She'd invested so much in her date, she wanted to look nice. It was a very formal dance by university standards, she was told, and she didn't have any girlfriends yet who could help her pick something out. So she took what was left of her food money for the month and went to a nice department store and asked one of the ladies to help her. She settled on what they called a 'cocktail dress,' even though Rapunzel kept telling them there wouldn't be cocktails at the event. It was dark green, which wasn't one of rapunzel's normal colors, but she liked it because it made her eyes stand out. It had a neckline that flattered her modest curves and a swishy, gauzy skirt. They tried to get her into heels but she knew she'd break her neck if she tried, having grown up mostly barefoot, so she got some nice flats instead. Add in a little makeup and taking an iron to her hair so it sat right for once, and she was confident she looked rather pretty.

She calmed her racing heart. Her first date! So what if she had to subsidize it? The lady on the phone assured her this 'Flynn' wouldn't give it away, and pass as a normal date. Maybe people would be kinder to her if they saw that she could find a date, too. A nice one! At the very least, she was determined to have fun.

She saw a black car pull up to her dorm, which is what she was told he would drive. She took one last deep breath, grabbed her bag, and went down the stairs, smoothing her hair before exiting the building and stepping excitedly onto the walk.

FLYNN

What the hell was going on here? A college campus? Dorms? He stopped his car in front of the building that his GPS insisted was where he wanted to be. But it most certainly wasn't. He tapped the screen of his smart phone with a glare as if that would somehow give it the motivation it needed to give him proper directions. Maybe there was a mix up. Maybe Rosie had given him the wrong address. Fuck. It never looked good to keep a 'job' waiting. He sighed, pushing his hair back as he flopped his head back onto the head rest to think. He would be late…if he called Rosie back…

That's when a little shimmer of emerald caught his eye. There was a young woman headed straight for his car and he sat up a bit more in his seat. There was something… Flynn had been with beautiful women. That was nothing new for him. But this girl…she was different. Very different. The young brunette heading straight for his car was skinny and needed a few sandwiches. She hadn't been throwing money at doctors for boob jobs or injections to make her lips obnoxiously pouty. She looked like the girl next door. Something deep down in his gut reacted to her, a tiny pang of emotion going through him that he quickly snuffed out. He'd stopped feeling a long time ago and it was better that way. Whatever that was, that feeling, was gone as quickly as it appeared.

She was all smiles as she made it to his car and he opened his door to get out and come around to her side. Could this really be his date? This smiley, slightly awkward young lady? Something told him that this was going to be an interesting night. As he made his way round the car to meet her, he smiled his most dashing smile and stopped a few feet from her.

"I'm flynn. Flynn rider. I heard you needed a handsome date tonight. I'm just the guy for the job." He took her small hand in his and lightly lifted it to his lips to kiss the back of it, his deep brown eyes never breaking their gaze. Now that he was closer to her, Flynn could see that she had stunning emerald eyes. They were big and bright and so full of life. Her skin was like crushed pearls, flawless and so soft under his fingertips, a faint blush on her cheeks. Her lips…what the hell, Rider?! Cut that out. He quickly glanced away and straightened his shoulders.

"Let me get that door for you, sweetheart."

He opened the car door for her and took her hand to help her ease down into the bucket seat of his sports car, rushing around to his side to climb back in. She was like sunshine, her smile brightening up the space around her. Flynn had been living in a never-ending rainy day and something about her made it feel like the sun was peeking out from the clouds and warming his skin.

RAPUNZEL

When she saw him, Rapunzel's stomach fluttered. She'd seen many men now. U of Corona was a big school and had a diverse student population, which was a big part of why she'd chosen it. But Flynn was rather different from anyone else she'd ever seen. He was a bit older than her peers, and out of that awkward gangly stage. Everything about him looked set in place, even the way his bangs fell, even the subtle clean scent of him she caught when he came closer. It made her breath catch. For a moment, she thought maybe she'd made a mistake - this was supposed to be a learning date and it seemed like she'd started in the very big leagues. The HUGE leagues. Was there a huge league? She was in it. He introduced himself as handsome but that was such an understatement she almost laughed.

Instead she froze a little when he took her hand and kissed it. No one had ever taken her hand before, even briefly, and no man had ever touched her anywhere with his lips. His hand was so warm, and his lips were so soft, and tingles ran from where he touched up her arms and down her spine. It shocked her so much she almost yanked her hand away, but it felt so nice she forced herself to stay calm. Then he called her sweetheart and opened the door for her and helped her into the car, and she melted, giddiness and happiness mixing in her. He was so nice and polite. 'Sweetheart' sounded so nice in his low voice. This was already worth the money!

She sat up as straight as she could in the bucket seat. Now more than ever she wanted to be very lady-like. Just because this was his job didn't mean it had to be unpleasant. She hoped that he liked her and had a good time, too. "I'm Rapunzel," she said with a beaming smile when he got back in the car. "I'm a freshman here and this is my first big event as a college student," she didn't feel like she needed to tell him it was her first big event ever, "so I really appreciate your going with me. Rosie said such nice things about you so I'm really glad to meet you."

She pointed ahead. "It's at alumni hall on the other side of campus, the building with all of the ivy on the sides. If you take a right up there, that road will take us right there." She folded her hands in her lap and tried to look out the window instead of staring at his profile, but it was hard. His features were so beautiful. She was sure he could be a model. She supposed in a way he was, this was just kind of more hands-on modeling.

FLYNN

He situated himself in his seat and flashed her a smile before pulling his car away from the curb, heading in the direction she'd instructed.

"So, Rapunzel, Babe. What kind of function is this? Are we making someone jealous? Ex-boyfriend? Ex-lover? lesbian lover?" He rattled off the usual list. A beautiful college kid like her probably had some rough break-up and now she was using him to get even. He smirked to himself. Revenge sex was fun. He glanced over at her as he drove. She was still beaming like everything in the world was amazing and perfect…rainbows and carebears. He wished he had that outlook on life. She looked so innocent, maybe revenge wasn't her angle. She was actually pretty adorable, and before he realized it, he was smiling, too. Not a plastered on fake smile, but a small one that crept slowly across his lips.

He really couldn't stop sneaking looks at her. Why did this women fascinate him so much? Her brown hair was short, and though relatively tame, he could tell that normally it was wild. Her dress had slid up a bit, showing off creamy knees and a little of her thighs. He quickly reminded himself to look at the road. It was only a few minutes before he stopped his car in front of an ivy covered building, getting a nice front row parking spot.

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel tried not to be flustered at his questions. She didn't want to tell him she'd never had a boyfriend, had hardly even been this close to a boy before. She didn't want to ask him what a lesbian was because she always sounded stupid when she showed the limits of her vocabulary.

She'd found that when she wasn't sure how to answer a question, it was best to give whatever information she was confident about and then finish with a question of her own. "It's the homecoming dance," she said brightly, smoothing her skirt. "It's supposed to be really fancy and fun. I heard we won the big game today so I think everyone will be in a mood to celebrate…" She arched an eyebrow. "How would we make someone jealous, if there were someone to be made jealous?" No need to tell him that no one would care what she did with her time.

FLYNN

A college dance. Flynn rider at a college dance. This was definitely new. He never would have believed it if someone had told him where he'd be today. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, his date seemed nice enough. A little on the innocent side, but maybe she was a freak in bed and he'd see that side of her later, after she was done worrying about the dance. She seemed nice, smart and very genuine, all qualities the women he was usually seen with were lacking.

He climbed out of the car and went around to get her door for her. As he helped her out he answered her question. "Well, I'd flirt a lot with you, get you drinks, keep my eyes on you, act a little overprotective. I mean, I'll do all those things tonight anyway, that's what you're paying for, but if we were making a guy jealous, we'd do it within view of him. Dance with you…kiss and touch your body...your thighs…things like that."

Once she was standing on the sidewalk beside him, he shut his car door and locked it, turning to her to offer her his arm. "By the way, dear. You look stunning. You'll be the most beautiful belle at the ball."

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel blushed crimson, stunned. Kiss and touch her body? Her thighs? She could hardly fathom these ideas. Her arm looped through his was enough physical affection to thrill her, her heart hammering in her chest. The idea that he might kiss her… is that what she'd paid for? It seemed like entirely too good of a deal. There had to be a catch. She should have asked for fine print. She couldn't very well ask him now, could she?

Then he called her beautiful and her breath caught. She knew she'd paid him, but it didn't feel like a lie, and in any case it was very easy to pretend he meant it. "Th-thank you," she stammered, walking with him to the entrance. She knew there were many more beautiful girls at the university, and that didn't bother her, but it was still nice to be complimented now and then. Her mother never had anything kind to say to her, and she'd not really spent time with anyone else.

"You also look… great," She said with a small smile. That was an understatement but she knew gushing wasn't the most becoming thing. "And there's no one who's jealous," she admitted. "But some of those things you said would still be nice." The dancing and looking, certainly. She'd deal with the kissing one step at a time.

FLYNN

"Some things?" he asked curiously with a lift of his eyebrows and a smile. As in, some things didn't sound appealing to her? That would have been a first in his time being an escort. Jell, even before his choice of jobs there wouldn't have been a woman that turned down anything he'd wanted to do.

"Well, it's your dime, Babe. If you don't want or like something, feel free to let me know. You're the boss and I'm sure there will more jealous people than you know. I'm sure you have a secret admirer or two. Maybe they just haven't realized it yet, and when they see us together they'll come to."

He grinned and lead her to the door where people were filing into the dance. There was a woman standing out front selling roses to raise money for some sorority or some crap, Flynn didn't bother reading the sign and he stopped to slip her a 5. Flynn picked the prettiest red one in the bunch and presented it to Rapunzel with a dashing grin. He was a regular damn prince charming tonigh. "for you, sweetheart."

He reached for the door, opening it for his date. The sounds of music and a million conversations filled the air and they headed into the dance. Rapunzel had the hottest date in school. Hands down.

RAPUNZEL

She looked at her shoes for a minute. "I already paid, so… can we just stop talking about the money and have a nice time?" She knew that she'd purchased his time, but she wanted to pretend for a few hours that she had a friend, that she was on a date. If there was one thing she was good at, it was pretend. She'd had a lot of time with nothing else to do but pretend.

She smiled at the rose. "Thank you." It was a night full of firsts, including the first flower she'd ever received as a gift.

She felt eyes on them almost immediately. Eyes on him, on how amazing he was, and on her, confusion about how this was happening. She smiled again, putting her awkwardness behind her. She was going to enjoy this night. And since she was on a roll with firsts, she was going to start it with a drink. There was an open bar, but she was underage. She turned to her date. "Will you get me a drink? Something that tastes good, please."

FLYNN

Flynn felt her shy and timid side coming to the surface as they walked into the crowded room. People were staring of course. They were trying to act like they weren't, but it was clear as day. Flynn stood tall and smiled, chest out and radiating confidence. He walked in like he owned the place and he had the hottest woman in the world on his arm. No one would argue with him. No one would doubt him.

He nodded when she asked for a drink. He knew Rapunzel was inexperienced, she couldn't hide it from his trained eye. He let go of her arm, excusing himself and leaving her at a table full of various finger foods. He was only gone a few minutes, returning with four little cups of a fizzy red punch balanced carefully in his hands.

"I got us two punch drinks with alcohol and two without. I figured a little alcohol will take the edge off, but I don't usually drink much." He leaned close to her, handing her the alcoholic drink first and speaking softly to her and only to her. "I have such a beautiful date, I don't want to miss any of it."

RAPUNZEL

She blushed again, butterflies in her stomach. If she pretended it was real, it felt wonderful. If only her mother could see her now! Someone thinks Rapunzel is beautiful!

Someone you paid to tell you that! She could hear her mother's nagging voice and reached for the alcoholic punch.

It tasted a little odd, but not bad, and the fizz was pleasant. She took several sips. "So… Flynn," she said, holding the punch in both hands and looking up at him. "Where are you from? Did you go to college?" Anything to get her mind off of her mother.

FLYNN

He didn't normally do back story, and he almost visibly cringed. But he kept his dashing smile in place, taking a sip of his punch before answering her. "I'm from corona, been here all my life…and I took a semester here actually. I didn't get that much schooling under my belt because I was at a frat party one night and things got sort of crazy…you know that statue they have in the main courtyard of that royal mascot thingy in the crown? Well, that big bronze crown with the stones came up missing and I kinda sorta got caught with it. It was supposed to be a prank but, eh, it didn't turn out so well for me. They accused me of stealing. It was more like borrowing. Tomato. Potato."

He shrugged lightly and finished his first drink. "Ha, I haven't told anyone about that in years. Sorry about that, it's not the best first date story. So, what about you? What are you in for? Let me guess…" he looked her over with a sexy smirk. "Some sort of art major? you look like the creative, artistic type, Babe."

RAPUNZEL

She opened her mouth, amazed. "You went here?" She couldn't picture him here, in normal college clothes, at those noisy, crazy frat parties. She would have guessed he went to some fancy private school down south. People were so complicated. "That's a great story, actually. It's surprising."

She shrugged a little. "I haven't decided yet. Sometimes I think about being a fine arts major… but then I also really like science, and I think about going pre-med. And then I think about being an astronomer. And then I think I should major in music, in composition. I don't know, it changes every day, which is okay, since I don't have to decide until next year." She smiled at him. "What was your major when you were here?"

FLYNN

"I'm not really the school type. I've been kicked out of a fair share of them but I'm smart, and I still had the grades when the time came to pick a college. I didn't know what I wanted to do, though. I didn't even pick a major before i got booted out of…."

He was mid-sentence when a tall blonde walked over and started dancing to the music and pushing up against him, basically dry humping him. Flynn shot her a look and took her hand, twirling her out and away from him and then stepping away, moving back to speak with Rapunzel. The girl looked shocked and confused. Why was he 'wasting his time' on Rapunzel when he could have her? She had long legs, big (fake) breasts, the works. She moved back towards them, and Flynn excused himself from talking to Rapunzel to face her.

"Excuse me, but can't you see I'm on a date? High maintenance doesn't 'do it' for me so go waste someone else's time, Darlin'."

He turned back to Rapunzel, and the girl stood there, open-mouthed for a few seconds, then wandered off with a huff.

"Sorry, Love. So…hm, it seems like you'd be good at all those majors. You seem like a smart girl." He held out a hand to her. "Care to dance?"

RAPUNZEL

She stared at the transaction, how quickly it began and ended. He didn't seem the least surprised, nor phased by what had just happen. "That must happen to you a lot…" she said sheepishly. "Is it more flattering or annoying?"

When he asked her to dance, her heart leapt. She loved dancing! She'd always kind of fantasized about someone asking her to dance and now it was happening for real. She nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, I'd love to!" She put aside her nerves. She wasn't sure she knew how to dance in a setting like this. She might embarrass herself in front of him. But she wanted to go to the dance and she wanted to dance at it, and now was her chance. How many more opportunities would she have to dance with a man like this?

Besides, she'd finished her glass of punch and she felt… pleasant.

FLYNN

"Uh, depends on my mood and what I'm doing. When I have a beautiful date, like tonight, it's more on the annoying side. My attention is already focused on one woman, and she's just embarrassing herself throwing herself on me like that. Not really my type."

As he answered her question, he took her hand, leading her out onto the dance floor and into the crowd of swaying couples. It was a slow song, so he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her close. Most men probably would have started out slow and reserved, a hand on her hip perhaps… but not Flynn. He wrapped his whole arm around her and pulled her against him. Normally this would have meant nothing to him, but he felt an odd sensation. It was like a little spark snapped deep in his bones. Their connection was electric, but he was so confused by it that he pushed it away. Maybe he was getting sick or losing his edge? Maybe he was an off night for him? She fit perfectly against him. It was almost like two puzzle pieces fitting together after years of being separated. Yet Flynn still paid no attention. He didn't know how to recognize these feelings.

Their fingers entwined, and they began to slow dance to 'Everything I do, I do it for you'. Flynn had heard this song before and it wasn't bad. Not bad at all. He hummed it softly and then began to quietly sing along without a second thought. He smiled warmly at Rapunzel, hoping she was enjoying her dance with him. He was actually having more fun than he thought he would at a dance. Rapunzel was easy to talk to and he'd already opened up more than he usually did to his dates. Something about this girl just felt like…home.

RAPUNZEL

Every nerve in Rapunzel's body was on end. She knew what slow dancing entailed but still… she could never have anticipated how it felt to be held. Only her mother had ever held her. Not someone she barely knew, never a man, and certainly not a man like this. She felt like she could melt right into the ground, and tried her best not to lean on him too much. He was so warm and solid, and he smelled amazing. She also tried her best not to get caught inhaling too strongly.

He actually knew how to dance, so while he kept it simple, it was still more than the aimless swaying of the other couples. She easily followed his lead, and she felt like she was floating, glowing and floating.

When he began to sing softly, she lifted her face to him. His voice was lovely and low, and the vibration in her ear sent a shiver down her spine. By accident or by angle, her cheek brushed his, and before she knew it they were kind of… nuzzling. Not thinking, not resisting, his skin sweet on hers.

When the song ended, she realized they'd kind of been cuddling and she blushed deeply, trying to think of something to say. "That… that was nice," she said softly, looking up into his eyes.

FLYNN

He brushed his cheek gently against hers when he felt the smoothness of her skin. Her nose trailed along his jaw line and he smiled softly to himself, his eyes softening. She smelled fantastic. It wasn't like most women he was with, she didn't smell like cheap perfume or even high quality perfume. It was more like summer and sunshine, a natural sweet scent that was hard to get your fill of, so he held her closer, nuzzling his nose against her hair just a little bit. He actually felt kind of nervous. Was he doing this right? Was she going to think he was a creep? Why was he feeling flushed in the face and his dumb heart beating all weird? Is this what a miniature stroke felt like? Is there such a thing as a miniature stroke? His singing had faded off when the more serious cuddling started. He even saw a few women on the dance floor give them the "awww" face. By the time the song ended, he was blushing. Rapunzel looked up at him with those huge green eyes. Play it cool, Rider.

"Yeah, you're a good dancer, sweetheart." He winked to show that he hadn't minded the cuddling at all. She seemed a little concerned about it, her cheeks flushed bright pink. "Would you like another dance or would you rather go sit down and have a little food and drink?"

RAPUNZEL

She beamed when he said she was a good dancer. She didn't get many compliments, least of all on something she'd never really tried before. Her cheeks hurt from smiling. He also didn't seem uncomfortable with their closeness, which was so nice. As much as she wanted to agree to another dance right then, prolong the contact, the affection (even if it was empty), she didn't want to push her luck.

She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, feeling a little shy after their closeness. "Do you want to eat and talk a little, and then dance more later?"

FLYNN

"Sure, that sounds great to me."

He took her hand, and they made their way through the throng of people and off the dance floor. Flynn led her to a table that was the farthest away from the dance floor so that they could hear each other talk and not have to yell over the music. Flynn pulled a seat out for her and then went to get them some more of the non-alcoholic punch. When he returned, he pulled his chair close to hers.

"So… what do you want to talk about?"

To Flynn, 'let's talk' in a dark corner after just snuggling on the dance floor meant something totally different than it meant to Rapunzel. His calloused fingers softly grazed over her bare knee, his touches feather light. Her skin was so soft.

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel almost spit out her punch when he touched her leg. Her heart definitely skipped a beat and she looked at him, surprised. It wasn't a bad sensation… no, it was a good sensation. But so foreign to her, her breath quickened and the bottom of her stomach felt very very funny. She had half a mind to put her hand over his and keep it there, but she reacted to her shock over her desire and blushed, looking at him shyly and crossing her legs, his hand falling away.

"Um… So what do you do for fun?" she asked, genuinely curious. "Do you have any hobbies? Are you in any clubs?"

FLYNN

"For fun?" he asked, slightly confused that the conversation was continuing and they weren't already making out. She seemed shy, but not opposed to him touching her. He ran his fingers along her crossed leg, trailing along the inner curve of her knee. She had beautiful, slender legs. His eyes stayed on her legs as he touched them.

"I don't know. The usual, really. Watch movies…eat out…" He kept it vague, still not used to talking about himself or letting any of his 'dates' know too much about him as a person. Usually all they wanted to know was how soon they could get in his pants. "There's a club down on Market Street I frequent pretty often. It's called 'Solar.' You?"

RAPUNZEL

Oh, he was still touching her leg. He was good at touching. So gentle, the calluses on his fingers catching teasingly on her skin. And he was looking at her legs. She glanced down - she wasn't sure they were much to look at, much to feel, either, but he seemed to think so, and that thrilled her.

The fact that he kept touching as he spoke made her think that must be normal date conversation behavior. Maybe it was just polite, touching legs while you talked. Maybe it was expected. She decided she better mirror him. That was her rule in social situations - when in doubt, mirror. She tentatively reached out and put her hand very gently on his knee too, her thumb very slowly, lightly stroking the side of his leg.

It was really hard to focus on speaking while that was going on. She probably could have sat there in silence and just soaked up all she was feeling. But she tried to string her thoughts together. "What… do you do at solar?" she asked a little breathlessly. "I'm part of the life-drawing club, and the… the international cooking club. Actually I'm going to run for secretary of that next week. I'd collect all the recipes we find in a book for future club members." She swallowed. "What kind of food do you like best?"

FLYNN

He wasn't too surprised she wanted to touch him back. He thought it was pretty cute though that she did the same thing he was doing, mirroring his gentle caresses. He leaned in to brush his lips softly along the curve of her neck, pulling her closer by grabbing the edge of her chair, forearms flexing as he slid it across the floor a few inches to close the gap between them.

She smelled so sweet and he could get more of the scent of her when his nose was pressed to her skin. He nibbled softly, the tiniest hint of his tongue gliding across her flesh. His warm breath against the small hairs of her neck. He felt those weird little sparks again but by now was chalking it up to the fact that he hadn't been laid since last night and maybe he was losing his mind or something. 24 hours without sex could make a man do crazy things.

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel felt a little dizzy. Instinctively she tilted her head to give him better access to her neck, her skin tingling all over as her as her breathing grew very heavy. She gripped his knee, trying not to slide down her chair onto the floor. Weren't they doing this out of order? Wasn't it hold hands, hug, cheek kiss, mouth kiss, then these kinds of variations?

This? She thought to herself. What were they doing? He was her date to the dance. He must really like her if he was taking things in such a physical direction. She thought they'd just have a nice chat. This was nicer in some ways, but she wasn't sure how to respond. If she mirrored him, then she'd be kissing his neck and her stomach did such flip flops at the very idea she didn't think she could manage that. What did he taste like?

She made a little "ooh," sound, at the feel of his lips and hand on her leg, and the thought of returning the touch. She hoped no one heard her, and was glad the music was loud.

Maybe she should just keep talking, and see what he did and go along with it as best she could. "Um… my favorite is… food from the Himalayas right now… they do really… interesting things with cabbage. And goat. It's delicious. Do you like spicy food?"

FLYNN

She was really going to talk about eating goat right now? Flynn Rider was kissing her neck and food was the hot topic? Usually it was "take me somewhere private," or "I can't wait another minute, let's sneak off to the bathroom," or even "take me right here in public, Flynn!" but this was a new one for him. He was pretty sure talking about goat didn't "do it" for her, so she must just be really nervous.

"Goat?" he asked softly, brushing his lips against her jaw line. "Can't say I've ever had it. I'm a pizza and hamburger kind of guy. Spicy food is good. I like hot wings, not too interested in the spicy goat though…" his voice lowered a little. "…you know what else is spicy?"

His hand moved up about two inches under the hemline of her dress and his lips were almost on hers. He was just about to kiss her when…

"Hi, Rapunzel! are you enjoying the dance?"

What the hell? Flynn backed up and glanced up at a guy that was at least a foot shorter than he was, with messy brown hair and freckles. He knew damn straight what he was interrupting, too, because he had a smug look on his face. Brett was one of the guys in Rapunzel's cooking club, he reminded her out loud. Flynn smirked. He knew there would be some jealous guy at the dance tonight, and Ta-da! Here he was.

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel was sure she was blushing head to toe when Brett caught them with Eugene's hand sneaking up her skirt. Part of her wanted to shoo Brett away and see how much farther Flynn intended to slide that hand. But she swallowed, smiling weakly at her classmate.

"Oh hey Brett. Yeah, I'm having a great time actually." She smiled sweetly at Flynn. "You?"

Brett nodded, swiping a hand through his hair. When he wasn't cooking, he was on the polo team, and Rapunzel knew he had his pick of the ladies. She was pretty puzzled about why he was talking to her. He rarely did, outside of club meetings. And she was pretty sure he only went to club meetings to eat the food that other members made so he wouldn't have to use up any of the meals on his plan. "Yeah, fantastic. Your dance card full? Or wanna join me?" He motioned to the floor. It was a very loud, aggressive-sounding song and the kind of dancing going on was… the opposite of classy. Was it even legal to do that in public?

She didn't think she would enjoy that, especially not with Brett, but she didn't want to hurt his feelings. And what did he mean by dance card? Had she gotten one? Had she dropped it? "Um… I don't have a dance card. Sorry." She looked at Flynn, hoping he knew what Brett was talking about.

FLYNN

Flynn could read Brett like a book. He knew the type well, college jock asshole. He probably played a sport so he was treated like royalty by his peers, got drunk more than he should (he needed to save all the brain cells he could) and he thought women were put on the earth for him. He was probably drawn to Rapunzel because she didn't fawn all over him. Things like that sometimes confused jocks, made you stand out to them. Perhaps he had a mission to get Rapunzel to "see the light" or some shit. Besides all that, she was cute. Adorable, really. He could see why her fellow students might have a crush on her, even if she didn't see it. This weird pang of jealousy slid it's way over him like a mist.

"Nah, we didn't get cards, Babe. He's just asking you for a dance in a creepy cryptic way." Flynn smirked at Brett and pushed his hand back through his hair. "It's okay for you to dance with him. I'll be right here saving your seat. But just one, Sexy. After that, I'll be missing you too much."

He gave her his most handsome, dashing smile which was better than any one that Brett could cook up after a face transplant and a decade of practicing in the mirror.

"Take care of my date and bring her back after one song. Don't make me come looking for you, Brett."

He watched them head to the dance floor. Maybe he was being a little harsh with Brett. maybe after tonight, Rapunzel would hook up with Brett and they'd get married, have 2.3 kids, a fluffy dog named Fido and live the Corona dream. Maybe they'd be drawn together by Flynn's cocky attitude and smart remarks. Maybe Brett was the guy for her. He didn't think so, though, just by the two hours he'd spent with her, he knew that she needed someone better than Brett. Someone that had a higher IQ than a tree stump. Someone like… he mentally punched himself in the face and reached for his drink, taking a sip. Something was wrong with him. Maybe he'd go see a doctor tomorrow. Ir maybe he needed a shrink… or time off.

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel shot Flynn a 'what have you done to me?' look as Brett dragged her into the dance floor. She felt a sinking feeling in her stomach as Brett took her by the wrist and pulled her into the throng.

When she'd danced with Flynn, all she had to do was follow his natural lead, so she didn't have to think too much. This was a fast song though, there were no steps, there was no lead to follow. She knew how to dance by herself in her dorm room, so she tried to do it like that for a little bit, twirling and swaying and thrashing a little, but she saw the look Brett was giving her so she stopped.

Brett shook his head, smiling a little. "You really were homeschooled, huh?" With a patronizing look, he took her by the waist and turned her so she had her back to him like most of the other couples on the floor. Then he pulled her up to his chest and tugged her into a gyrating sort of rhythm. It felt intense to her, but not intense like Flynn's hand on her leg, not good intense, but heavy and intense like led in her stomach. She felt confined in the circle of his arms, like she was choking a little.

He wrapped one arm around her waist, holding her close, while the other hand settled flat on her thigh and worked its way up, catching her skirt and dragging it up a little too high before he let it drop, palming her waist and side, his finger tips brushing the gentle curve of the side of her breast.

She gasped, trying to wriggle away. All this touching, tonight! She wasn't sure how she felt about Flynn's touching, but she was positive she didn't like Brett's. It felt clumsy and needy.

"Relax," Brett said into her ear, his hot breath on her face. "You don't have to squirm like that, just follow my lead, I'll show you."

Rapunzel cringed as he tried the same neck kissing maneuver that Flynn had, except his kiss felt all wet and icky and she didn't like it. She shuddered and pulled harder at his hold. "I don't like this," she muttered. "I want to sit down."

"Can't hear you over the music," he replied, though she was pretty sure it was a lie. "Just go with it, Punz." At that point he started pushing his hips against her butt, and she felt something very distinct which she could only identify thanks to life drawing class.

She might be naive but she didn't like being ignored, and she didn't like people who ignored her giving her pet names and rubbing their genitalia on her. She was more insistent with her pulling and when he only tightened her grip, she elbowed him in the gut and stormed off as soon as he let go.

She didn't look back when she heard him curse, just pushed her way back to their table. She could hardly look at Flynn. She had half the mind to just walk home but she wasn't going to be like that, she wasn't going to be rude to him just because he'd sent her into that situation. The other girls seemed to like being held that way. Most other girls would probably loved for Brett to 'dance' with them like that. And Rapunzel had tried to hide her oddness so there was no way Flynn would have known how much she disliked what most women wanted.

She held one of her arms with the other awkwardly, her hand at her elbow. "Flynn, will you drive me home now? I'm tired."

FLYNN

Flynn had tried to keep his eye on Rapunzel, but they disappeared into the crowd. He started regretting it almost immediately, but maybe Brett wasn't as bad as he'd thought. Maybe Rapunzel liked him, and this would work out well for her. Most girls liked assholes.

When Rapunzel came back, he could tell that things had not gone well. All the happiness had been drained out her and she looked miserable. In fact, she wouldn't even look him in the eye. He frowned, glancing behind her for any sign of Brett.

"Are you okay, Rapunzel? Uh, of course we can leave. Anything you wish, Babe."

He had a mind to go into the crowd and find Brett and kick his ass, but he really had no say in the matter. Brett was probably no better than he was in the big picture. Maybe Flynn was worse. But it wasn't Flynn's job to make sure Rapunzel didn't get upset. He had no way of knowing about this Brett guy. When Flynn was gone, he just thought she should have someone taking care of her. Maybe she liked big assholes. Apparently that wasn't the case though, cause she looked violated. He stood up and got out his keys, stepping forward to put an arm around her and lead he towards the door. He felt terrible, he'd ruined her night. He'd never ruined a woman's night before. He'd have to find a way to make it up to her.

"I'm sorry… I didn't know. I was just trying to do what was best for you, but honestly, I don't think I really know what that is. Did he hurt you?"

RAPUNZEL

"No," she said glumly. "It's fine, I'm fine." If she told him what happened and how she'd reacted, he'd just think she was even stranger for not being into that kind of thing.

He opened her door for her again and she slid back in his car. When he started driving, she resisted the urge to lean her face against the window and mope. The evening was only lost if she let it be. She had ten minutes left to have fun with this handsome, charming person and she should at least try.

She pushed her hair back from her face, took a breath and smiled a little. "So I never did hear what you do in Solar Club. Is it an astronomy thing?"

FLYNN

"No, no astronomy, Sweetheart. It's a bar and dance club, though I don't dance that much. Tonight was kind of a special thing. But I like to go there and people watch and talk and have a beer. It's actually nice in there…not too crowded."

As he drove, he tried to figure out a way to make it up to Rapunzel. She didn't look happy at all and he never took a girl home unsatisfied. By now he'd assumed they'd be having sex or at least making out and it didn't seem like that was what she wanted at all. Poor kid just needed a friend, it seemed. He sighed softly to himself as he drove.

"So… do you have to go home right now? 'Cause I'm kind of hungry and there is a 50's Corona diner around the corner that's open all night." He glanced over at her and smiled hopefully. "You look like you could use a big chocolate milkshake, Babe."

RAPUNZEL

Milkshake? Midnight snack? With Flynn? She tried not to grin like an idiot, tried to retain some of her dignity like a normal person, but she couldn't help it. That sounded so fun. And she really would like to wear her dress a little longer. And for the date to last longer than one and a half dances and some small talk.

She nodded, the grin returning despite her efforts. "Okay! Let's go!"

FLYNN

He grinned. Seeing her light up like that gave him some hope on fixing things and making her night actually a good one. It was only a few minutes before they arrived and before Rapunzel could open her car door he was out and running around to her side to help her out. He got a nice view of slender legs as a bonus for being gentlemanly, too. The night was really cooling off so he shrugged off his jacket.

"Here, take this. It's getting chilly, Honey." He smiled and wrapped the jacket around her shoulders, and then instead of taking her hand or looping her arm with his, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and led her into the diner.

The place was freakin' colorful. That's the first thing Flynn noticed. There was cheesy old timey Corona music playing, but it was the kind of music you knew all the words to and even in your head it was hard to resist singing along. It wasn't that busy, because most people were still out partying and drinking and hadn't stumbled in. There was a big booth in the corner and since it was 'seat yourself,' Flynn led them that way. There were menus, a big glass container with straws and a colorful mini flashing jukebox on every table.

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel was feeling giddy again. Maybe there was something good about how quickly her moods changed. Brett was all but forgotten as Eugene put his jacket and arm around her. She felt like the sun came out in the middle of the night when he called her honey, it made her feel warm all over. His jacket smelled really good and she snuggled into it when he sat her in a booth in the corner.

The restaurant was really fun, there was so much to look at, and catchy music, and the menus were colorful and extensive. Soon a peppy waitress came by and asked what they would like.

She scanned the menu, but there were so many options and everything looked good. "What do you recommend?" She asked Flynn with a smile. "A chocolate milkshake?"

FLYNN

He smiled as he looked over his menu and wondered if she was one of those girls that didn't like eating too much in front of a guy. She only wanted a milkshake? He'd see about that.

"Well, I'm starving. I don't remember what I ate last so… I was thinking I'd get a burger, fries and a milkshake. And after that…probably a coffee. You only want a milkshake, Babe? It's on me. Order anything under the sun."

He asked the waitress to give them a few more minutes to look over the menu because there were tons of toppings for the burgers and lots of milkshake flavors to choose from.

RAPUNZEL

Once she saw him order, she felt safe ordering a lot too. She got a cheeseburger with the classic toppings and cheesy fries and a thick chocolate milkshake.

"I love eating!" she declared, handing over her menu. The waitress smiled back at her, looking only a little amused, and wandered off.

Rapunzel turned back to Eugene. "Sorry I got moody back there," she said, shrugging a little in embarrassment. "I don't think Brett is a very nice person."

FLYNN

Flynn was happy to see that Rapunzel ordered more food. The cheesy fries were a nice touch. He could tell the waitress thought she was adorable, too. He didn't usually get much approval on his dates when they were out. They were usually on the obnoxious side, and if they did make it to a restaurant, it usually involved the woman hanging on him or talking about herself the entire time and not letting him get a word in. Usually the topics were things he didn't give a shit about, like her shopping habits or where she got her nails done. Rapunzel was very refreshing.

"It's okay. I thought maybe he wasn't the best guy, but some girls like that. I figured you should take the chance if he was the kind of guy you wanted to be with. I wouldn't want to stand in your way of having a boyfriend. Even if he seemed like a schmuck."

He reached across the table and patted her hand softly. "I'm sorry. I hope you can forgive me. I don't usually go around upsetting the women in my life."

RAPUNZEL

She shook her head, playing with some straws idly. "You don't need forgiveness, you didn't do anything. I think…" She blushed a little, looking down at the straws. "I think I like nice boys but I haven't met very many of them." She hadn't met very many of anyone.

She went out on a limb and asked a question she was honestly curious about. What kind of woman did a man like Flynn Rider go for? Not that she had any pretenses of being or becoming that kind of woman, but she'd like to know. "So… what kind of girls do you like? Really? Not what kind usually hire you. But when you hang out with people for fun, what kind of people do you like?"

FLYNN

"You deserve a really nice guy, Rapunzel. I haven't known you but a few hours but I can tell that's what you should have and I'm sure you will. Don't ever sell yourself short, Babe."

Her next question made him a little unsure. He wasn't even sure he knew how to answer that question, and no one had ever asked him before. For years he'd been dating whatever girl he was booked. He pushed his fingers back through his hair. He figured honesty was just the best way to go with this one.

"Uh… no one has ever really asked me that before. I work a lot and I don't really have many friends. I just have one close friend really. Maxwell. Good guy."

Their food was delivered and he picked up a French fry, munching idly.

"I guess I'd want a laid back girl. One that likes to watch movies and hang out… not high maintenance. I'm not into fake boobs and dyed hair. I like natural women and a girl I can hold a conversation with."

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel tried not to get too excited about that. She was definitely… natural. And she'd like to think she was talkative. But she stuffed a bite of burger in her mouth instead of grinning at him. She was sure he was just saying those things because he thought that's what she wanted to hear. If he were on a job with a Corona cheerleader, he would say something completely different.

She pushed the cheese fries towards him. "These are really good! Do you want to try one?"

She ate some more, chewed, and swallowed before smiling again. "So will you tell me about Maxwell?" She always wondered what having a best friend was like.

FLYNN

He thought it was sweet and cute of her to offer him some of her cheese fries. He took one, thanked her, and munched on it happily. They were really good.

"Well, Maxwell doesn't talk much, but he's a good listener. We watch football together sometimes or movies and eat. He's my lazy, hang around friend. Do you have a best friend? If not, you should get a pet or something. Sometimes they make better friends than people do."

He wasn't sure about telling her Maxwell was a dog. He never told any of his dates about his personal life, and it felt a little weird opening up. He'd had his fair share of crazy stalker girls. He was pretty certain Rapunzel wouldn't turn out to be one of them, but opening up was not easy for him, and it's not like she'd ever meet Max, so there really was no point….was there? It was better to make him out to be a person in the long run. That way he didn't look lonely and mess up his fake reputation of a man that was awesome and popular and in the know about everything regarding Corona nightlife.

"So how's that burger, Beautiful?"

RAPUNZEL

When he said he liked football she immediately, instinctively, opened her mouth to ask - but then she closed it again. It would be so fun to go to the game with him next weekend. He could explain to her what was going on, and they could eat all the football game snacks and laugh and have a good time. But she was already going to be eating ramen for lunch the rest of the month because she was broke. She couldn't afford another date. Not for a while anyway. So she took another bite of her burger, instead.

Then she said, "Max sounds like a good friend. Good listeners are really hard to find." She brightened. "I do have a pet. It's a Chameleon, named Pascal. He lives in my dorm room." She was about to suggest he meet Pascal after they were done with their food, but ate some fries instead. He was too good at making it seem like he actually liked spending time with her.

She shook her head. "No… I don't… well, I just started university so I don't know many people yet." That seemed like a less embarrassing way of saying she had no friends.

"My burger is great!" She held it out to him. "Do you want a bite?"

FLYNN

"You have a pet lizard? That's awesome. Are they pretty much like frogs? Long tongues, etc etc? That's so cool. Anyway, I'm sure you'll make a ton of friends. You seem very likable and you're so sweet. Who wouldn't want to be your friend? I bet you make lots of friends and have a boyfriend in no time."

He laughed lightly and held up his burger. "I'm not even sure I can finish this one. These are pretty huge and I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach. Look at it!"

He did a little Vanna white modeling of his burger to show off the size of it. He chuckled playfully, he'd picked way too many toppings and he could barely fit it in his mouth.

RAPUNZEL

"Um, chameleons are lizards and frogs are amphibians… I guess they are more alike to each other than they are to mammals, but they're also pretty different. Chameleons do have long tongues though. And they can change color!" She was pleased he seemed interested in her pet. "He's very fussy though. You need to care for them properly or they get sick or grumpy or both."

They talked more as they ate, and more as they lingered over his coffee. She liked him and didn't want the night to end. Despite what he said, she didn't expect to make very many friends. She'd tried very hard, but she didn't fit in with them. And as for boyfriends, she almost snorted at that. At least he was easy to talk to. It made her feel better about herself and her outlook, too.

Finally they got the check, and she reached for it. The agency had made it very clear that expenses were part of her responsibility.

FLYNN

"Your chameleon/frog thing sounds interesting. Can he change all sorts of weird colors? Like orange or pink? Polka dots?"

He slid the bill away from her before she could take it. "No no, Babe. I've got this. It was my treat. Did you have enough to eat? Did you want anything else? Brownie or cake for the road?"

He paid the bill and smiled at her. He felt a little sad to think that their date was almost over.

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel smiled but passed on the extra dessert. She was completely stuffed. "Thank you, though. It was delicious. Thank you for taking me!" It was nice of him to do that when she knew it wasn't at all part of his job. Maybe he did like her, just a little bit. It was nice someone asking if she had enough to eat. She didn't hear that often, even that minor concern for her comfort.

They got back in the car and headed back to her dorm. She knew she should just say thank you and get out and go upstairs. She knew that. But it was only 11:30 and the agency said she had him until midnight, 'or later if that's how things go.' She wasn't sure how things would go that way, but she at least had another half hour. She decided to leave it up to him.

She turned to him, blushing a little, but finding the courage to say, "Do you… do you want to meet Pascal? He's just upstairs if you want to peek in. And I have some more coffee upstairs… But if you're busy, I totally understand!"

FLYNN

Flynn pulled up in front of the building to Rapunzel's dorm and was happy when she invited him upstairs. Maybe she did want more of him than she was letting on. He nodded, "I'm not busy. I'm yours tonight, and I'd love to meet Pascal. He sounds pretty interesting, and I always love more coffee. I'm kind of an addict. Do you think Pascal will like me?"

He was a little unsure. Animals didn't usually like him very much. Pascal would probably hate him, but maybe he'd be lucky. Again he went to Rapunzel's side of the car and helped her out.

RAPUNZEL

She grinned, really happy he wanted to come up. As she led the way up to her room on the third floor, she got a little nervous. She'd never had a boy in her room. Maybe he'd think her things were silly. Who had a chameleon for a pet? Who had their own drawings taped all over their walls? Who had as many candles as she did? She couldn't help that she just loves making candles.

"Well… he doesn't really like anyone. He just kind of sits there. But he's pretty to look at." She opened the door for him. Luckily her roomie was still out, probably at the dance or some after party… knowing her, she might not come home at all. At least her side was neat and colorful and very her.

"So… here's his cage. And I'll get you some coffee!" She didn't drink much, but her roomie did, and making her roomie coffee was one of their only bonding activities, so she'd gotten pretty good at it. "Do you like cream and sugar?"

FLYNN

Flynn glanced around curiously as he entered Rapunzel's dorm. It had been awhile since he'd been in a dorm room. She had a cute little place, it was colorful and bright and full of life just like her. She'd turned a small and very basic living space into a nice place to hang out, with more candles than he'd ever seen in his life. 'Whoa' he thought to himself, and he looked around. He noticed wax and wicks laying around.

"Wow, did you make all these candles? That's pretty amazing. they look store bought."

They made their way over to Pascal's cage, and he peered inside at the odd lizard. Pascal's eyes spun to look at him and keep one still on Rapunzel. Really odd lizard. He could look at two different things, in two different directions, all at once. That wasn't at all freaky...

"I don't think he likes me…." he said softly as Rapunzel walked away to make coffee. "Actually, I take it black. No cream or sugar, please."

RAPUNZEL

She laughed awkwardly. "Um… yeah. I used to be a little crazy about my hobbies…" but she smiled at his compliment. "They're not hard to make, actually, once you get the hang of it. Which one is your favorite?"

She brought the coffee over and handed it to him, taking some tea for herself. She thought about offering to show him her art portfolio. It was probably the thing she was proudest of, but she knew he was cultured and had seen much better art, and she didn't want to come off as a little kid at show and tell.

FLYNN

Flynn took the mug of coffee gratefully and took a seat on a small love seat that formed a small seating area. He took a sip and smiled happily. This was some of the best black coffee he'd had in awhile.

"This is fantastic. Thank you. You make a good cup, babe. That's the way to my heart," he said it jokingly, but it was so true. He then motioned to a little blue\green candle. "That one's my favorite. I like the color of it. So…did you also draw all these pictures hanging around? You're really talented, Rapunzel. You have a great style. It's all your own."

RAPUNZEL

She blushed a little at his remark about the coffee. She knew that was an expression, that she hadn't really found a way to his heart, but it still seemed to tickle along the shell of her ear to hear. She took a sip of her tea to calm herself.

She picked up the little candle and took his hand, pretending not to thoroughly enjoy the feel of his knuckles in her palm. She put the candle in his hand and closed his fingers around it before letting go. "It's yours!" she said brightly. "Something to remember me by!" She wasn't likely to be able to afford another date any time soon.

She reached for her portfolio after all. He'd expressed interest in her drawings, and it was a good way to change the subject from her gift, which she supposed could be awkward. She opened the heavy book, flipping through a few of the sleeved pages. It was mostly from her figure drawing class… she was somewhat prolific. "I've only just started building my portfolio, but I'm proud of what I have so far!" Plus, they were human nudes, and her instructor had told her they were good, so maybe it made her seem grown up and countered some of her other behaviors that evening.

FLYNN

He gratefully took the candle with a grin. It wasn't often that someone gave him a gift and didn't really expect anything in return. She gave it to him out of kindness and he was touched. "Thank you, Rapunzel."

He didn't know what else to say. Their eyes met and for a moment they just looked at each other. He felt that urge to make a move again, to kiss her or touch her. She really hadn't gotten her money's worth out of him yet. But as he was thinking about his next move, she grabbed a book and spread it open on her lap in front of him. There were amazing drawings on every page. He was impressed.

"Wow, you drew all these?" There were lots of nude drawings from her life drawing class and he raised an eyebrow playfully. "Do you ever model for these drawings? Someone should draw you. If you model, you'll have to let me know so I can come by and sit in."

RAPUNZEL

She blushed crimson, pausing on a page and glancing up at him when he mentioned modeling. "Oh! No, I couldn't!" No one but her mother had seen her naked before! And Pascal, but did that count? The idea of laying out for a room full of eyes to see, even impartial, professional, artists' eyes (that's what she always tried to be) mortified her. "I'm too… skinny… and awkward… I'm really clumsy," she rambled, pushing her hair behind her ear. "I trip over myself all the time, I'm sure I'd botch it, I could never hold still…"

She turned the page. "Have you modeled?" she asked in a high voice. "You must have. I'm sure you're very good at it." She blushed even more at the thought of him modeling for her class. There was no way she could be impartial and professional if he did that. And now she had fuel for her private fantasies for the rest of her lifetime.

FLYNN

"Eh, I'm sure you could do it. You don't give yourself enough credit, Babe. You looked beautiful tonight. There is no reason why you couldn't pull off modeling, and in case you haven't noticed, skinny is in, Sweetheart. Every woman out there seems to want to be skinny. You have nice legs too."

As if to make his point, he glanced at them and then winked at her, brushing his fingers over her knee where the portfolio wasn't covering. "I did a little modeling. Nothing major. I'm used to people seeing my body, so it doesn't really bother me. It's a lifestyle. If you wanted, I could be modeling for you right now. it's your night."

He chuckled. He usually had his clothing off by now anyway.

RAPUNZEL

She stared, opening and closing her mouth like a little fish, amazed by what he'd just said. Model for her? Right now? As in, take off his clothes? In front of her?

Her social skills were failing her. How do you respond to something like that? Of course she was intensely curious and wanted to see him naked. But did she want to see him naked in her dorm room, with no one else around, so close to her? She might faint. She'd surely gasp or oooh or aaaah and make a fool of herself. It wasn't a good idea. Also, wasn't it rude to ask someone to take their clothes off? But he was offering. What did he mean it was her night? She'd hired him as a date, not a nude model.

But would it be even more rude to turn him down? If she offered to take her clothes off, and someone said no, she might be offended. She'd think it meant they didn't want to see her naked, and that seemed like a jab to her. She didn't want to give Flynn that impression.

What impression did she want to give him? She tried to say something but all that came out was a strangled sort of noise. She went to put the book down but she leaned too far forward and fell off the couch.

FLYNN

He'd never seen a woman wrestle with herself about him taking his clothing off. He could see the little internal battle she was having with herself, and he couldn't help but chuckle. She was probably the cutest thing he'd ever seen with her mouth opening and closing like a little fish and her bright green eyes as big as saucers. He couldn't help but chuckle when an awkward little noise came out of her. Maybe it was a bad idea. She didn't seem to really want him to do what he was used to doing for his dates. Or maybe he just needed to take control and reassure her it was okay.

"It's..."

And Rapunzel suddenly fell off the couch. He jumped up in surprise and reached for her, helping her up. Her soft little hand in his. He smiled at her and reached up to lightly fix her ruffled brown locks, helping them fall back in place. He pulled her a little closer to his chest, his hands moving to her hips. He bent his head to kiss her shoulder beside the strap of her dress, lips softly touching bare skin. His hands around and down to her ass, gripping her softly and pulling her hips against his.

"Are you okay? Just try to relax, Sweetheart. Slow breaths…" he asked in a soft, gentle voice, kissing her skin again.

RAPUNZEL

When his lips touched her skin and his hands touched her butt she let out a little helpless noise she could only describe was a moan, and she couldn't believe it. She'd never made a noise like that before. She'd heard her roommate make that noise and quickly decided not to enter the room, but she couldn't believe now she was moaning. She was moaning!

Flynn was more of a stranger to her than Brett was, and yet this touch was so much more pleasant. She didn't know why, and she couldn't think straight enough to figure it out. Her heart was fluttering in her chest, and it felt like her stomach had fallen down to her feet. When he pulled her forward, she pressed her hips against his, purely out of instinct, something twisting tight and needy in her gut. She gripped his shirt in her hands, wanting to touch him, to kiss him, but completely unsure how to do that or what would be the right thing to do or what he would like. His simple touches were making every nerve in her body sigh in pleasure. How did he do that? Did he want her to do that in return? She wanted to.

She tried to focus on what he said, slowing her breathing, holding very still in his arms. His low, soft voice made her ears prick, the vibration making goose bumps rise over her shoulders and arms.

FLYNN

Her pelvis pressed to his caused him to feel hot and his body started to react to her. She was making him harder and harder with each passing second. He continued to kiss her shoulder, her skin so soft and sweet smelling it made him dizzy. He lifted a hand to push the strap of her dress down off her shoulder an inch or two, wanting to clear the path along her shoulder to her neck. He moved along the curve of her collarbone, soft bites as he went, only enough so she felt his teeth graze her skin and his hand returned to its grip on her little ass. Grinding very lightly against her as if they were just very very slightly swaying to music as they touched each other.

Her hands gripping his shirt made him smile. she wanted him but she just didn't seem to know how to take what she wanted. He needed to be gentle with her and go at her pace, yet still lead the way and encourage her. He lifted his lips from her shoulder and kissed gently along the shell of her ear. His breath warm and his voice darker…sexier.

"It's okay, sweetheart… we're just going slow and easy. I won't do anything you don't want me to do. I won't hurt you. I promise." He placed more light kisses on her ear. "We're just taking things slow and easy, Beautiful. It's getting a little warm in here…would you mind helping me with a few of those buttons on my shirt?"

RAPUNZEL

She made another soft noise, something between a moan and a whimper, and clung to him. Her body seemed to know what was going on a lot better than she did, the way she automatically swayed with him. He was the most amazing thing she'd ever felt. Everything about him entranced her, how warm and solid and strong he was, his clean, enticing smell, his gentle but firm touch.

He said the perfect things to her, in the perfect voice, coaxing her, calming her, drawing her in. Her fingers went to the top button of his shirt without thinking. She glanced up, looking into his warm brown eyes, and she faltered.

She knew what was going on. She was naive, but she still new the basics. She knew this was a good thing, but a good thing that was supposed to happen between people who loved each other. She certainly liked him better than anyone she'd ever met before, but she'd only known him for a few hours.

More importantly, he was a professional. Which meant that whatever happened would doubtlessly be incredible, and maybe this was the best possible choice. She was so awkward, so inexperienced, maybe a professional walking her through this was a great idea. He could teach her and then she wouldn't be so awkward.

On the other hand, it meant he certainly didn't love her. How could he, after knowing her so briefly? And even the time they had spent together, it was impossible to know what he'd said that he'd meant, and what he'd said to be dutiful. Maybe he didn't even like her. Maybe this was part of his script. Like how she smiled at people at the cafe where she worked. She didn't know them, but she smiled to be friendly and because it was her job. It was his job to be kind to her. Maybe he even disliked her. She sometimes smiled at customers she disliked.

That thought made her feel a little sick. But she'd only hired him for a date. So maybe he was doing this because he had a great time and he wanted to. Maybe this was special for him, like it was for her. She swallowed. "Does this happen on all of your dates?"

FLYNN

Flynn was more into touching and kissing on Rapunzel than he had ever been on any of his dates. Her scent was intoxicating to a point that he was almost having trouble deciding what to kiss next or how he'd ever pull away and stop. He could see this date going well on into the early morning hours. Maybe this would be the first girl he'd regret ever walking away from in the morning. Or the first date he might ever be disappointed that ended…the first girl he'd ever miss. He had to admit that Rapunzel was under his skin more so than any girl he'd met prior. A good kind of under his skin.

Her fingers opened the top button on his shirt and he kissed along her jaw line and chin… he wanted to kiss her. He was going to kiss her. As he moved to take her in a hot ravenous kiss she pulled back just a bit to look at him. He blinked and stopped. The question that came from her lips made his stomach sink. There was really nothing good that could come from your current date asking about past dates. Nothing good at all.

He swallowed. "Uh… I'm confused." He tilted his head slightly, his brows furrowing a bit. "Isn't this what you want? I mean… you paid a lot of money and that's kind of my... uh… you don't want sex? You just...?"

Slowly the pieces were coming together for him. This cute little college girl had simply wanted him to go on a date with her. She was innocent and sweet and she wasn't looking to get him into bed with her. Damn… and he actually was attracted to her more than anyone else he'd met. She had a personality he was really feeling drawn to. The one woman he liked was not interested. That's a first.

He knew the truth wouldn't help his case at all. Only lying would help him now, but he couldn't see himself doing that to her. Not to Rapunzel. She deserved to know what he really was. He decided hurting himself was better than lying to her.

"I'm an escort, Rapunzel." He almost felt ashamed for it. To be seen that way in her mind. Soon she wouldn't want him near her. "I'm paid by women to go on dates and have sex with them. I'm sorry. I thought you knew… but… but I really did enjoy my night with you. You're pretty amazing, Rapunzel."

RAPUNZEL

She stared, taking a step back and blinking, her mouth gone completely dry. She knew he was an escort. She knew he was paid to go on dates with women…

…and have sex with them.

Oh.

OH!

She raised a hand to her temple, blinking several times down at the floor. Well, escort was kind of a deceptive term now wasn't it? What did that ad think it was doing? She thought she was hiring an escort, as in someone to escort her to the dance. Not an escort as in a prostitute!

She looked back up at him, dumbfounded. He was a prostitute! Why? He was so charming and good looking and good smelling and funny. He could probably get a job doing anything. She thought prostitutes did that out of desperation. But then again, she'd only ever really thought of females. Maybe it was different for guys. Maybe he just loved his job.

What a job.

She ran a slightly shaky hand through her hair. Well, that settled that. He was definitely faking with all those touches and glances and compliments all evening. Of course he was, he was leading up to what he thought was an inevitable ending, the real purpose of his job.

Well, it wasn't his fault she was a complete moron. He'd still done fabulously and been extremely nice to her, considering. She shoved aside any hurt feelings she had. That wasn't fair to him. She knew she'd hired him. It was ridiculous to wonder if even for a second he was here because he wanted to be.

"Well," she said, swallowing. "I did know that, yes, I guess I was just… confused about what was included," She said with an awkward laugh, heading back to her desk to pour herself some more tea. "Sorry about that! Well, you're good," She rambled, taking a long sip of very strong tea. She usually drank it with a little milk and honey but she didn't bother. "Seriously, you are very professional. You definitely made it all feel so real. Have you taken acting classes? Like you've modeled? You could go to Hollywood." She kept her tone light. "I hope you don't take this personally," she said, drinking her tea like it would knock her out and remove her from this disaster of a situation. How much could she embarrass herself? "You're really… amazing, and I'm really attracted to you and I'm sure you're amazing at… everything. But you know I've never even had my first kiss and I guess I should wait on that and do this with someone who really likes me and not someone I hired to pretend they like me, you know?" She drummed her fingers on the desk. That sounded so pathetic, but it was the truth, and since they were being honest now. "I had an amazing time though, really. It was the best night ever! I'll call the agency tomorrow and rave, I promise."

FLYNN

He didn't like the tone of her voice… like she was going to be sick at any minute. Like he made her sick. Compliments spilled forth from her in a desperate attempt to make him feel better about who he was and his low life choice of a profession. He sighed softly. He understood. No one who wasn't looking for sex was really proud to have known an escort.

"You don't have to do that, Rapunzel. I'm sorry if I confused you and messed up things tonight. I didn't mean to upset you at the dance and now this. I understand you wanting to save your firsts. I think that's a good idea too."

He was doing really bad tonight. He'd upset her twice now. He bit his bottom lip a moment and then reached for his jacket that she'd taken off and left over the arm of the couch.

"For what it's worth… I really did have fun and you were the first person that didn't treat me like…" He trailed off and shrugged. "I really enjoyed myself. Thank you. Good luck with your art, Babe. You're really good."

He pulled on his jacket and moved over to her to give her a kiss on the forehead and then smiled, heading for the door. He glanced back at her. "And for the record, I'm not that good an actor."

He flashed her a dashing smile and the stepped out, closing the door behind him. He felt a little empty on the other side of the door but he pushed it away. Feelings had never helped him much in the past. He headed down to his car, more alone than ever.

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel stared at the closed door, a lump in her throat. She didn't know what to think. She was shaking a little, and she gripped the back of her desk chair.

Should she go after him? And say what? She'd said all she had to say. And it didn't matter anyway. She liked him - so what? She was sure every woman he met liked him. She was sure women he pretended with developed real feelings for him all the time. She was completely unoriginal.

His last words caught her off guard. Not good at acting? What was he trying to say? That he wasn't entirely faking? That he had actually enjoyed spending time with her? Or was that line just another part of preserving the illusion?

It was so confusing. Was he constantly confused? How do you spend all of your time pretending, especially about things like feelings? Could he even tell when he was really feeling something?

She felt sad for him. And sad that the person she liked best she didn't know truly at all. And sad that she'd ever thought it was a good idea to hire someone to like her. And sad that she was regretting it, when regardless it had been the best night ever. And then sad that the best night of her life was purchased. And then sad that she didn't have enough money for another one, now that they understood each other. And sad that she even considered that.

She wondered if she met Flynn off the clock if he would be different. What sort of man was he? Would they have anything in common? Would they get along so well? Would he really think she was beautiful? Or would be ignore her?

She shook her head, numbly reaching for her shower caddy. She needed to get this dress off, get out of this makeup.

Well, she'd never know. She hoped he didn't throw the candle away. She hoped he didn't hate her, at least that he didn't look back on her poorly. She cared about his opinion, even if she shouldn't, even if she wouldn't (and maybe he wouldn't) ever really know what it was.