Almost finished with the next chapter! Things are happening for our Rapunzel and Eugene.

I've taken a lot of Rapunzel's feelings for the next couple of chapters from my own anxiety struggles in life after being locked away for a really long time, so if that is going to be hard on anyone reading this, I'm sorry. I'm just trying to keep this as real as possible. Especially when I relate so much to our incredible Tangled princess.

I hope everyone is staying safe and careful at the moment! Take care of yourselves!


Saturday was uneventful. Rapunzel was already up when Eugene woke, rolling over in confusion at a heavy, dragging noise.

She seemed completely oblivious to him, frowning as she held a steak knife in one hand and an instruction manual in the other, her sewing machine out of its box and Styrofoam thrown messily over the bench.

He watched her silently as she pulled at cords, plugging them into the side of the machine and placing the foot pedal quietly on the floor, nodding to herself happily. Then she sighed, looking toward Eugene and freezing when she saw him watching her.

"Good morning,"

"Morning," her voice didn't carry the same magic he was used to hearing. Her eyes were worried, but her lips were pressed together tightly, and he knew it was to hide how she was feeling.

"You got your machine set up," he pushed himself up and swung his legs out of bed. He was only in a pair of boxer briefs, and he noticed for the first time in a long time the air was chilly. Mornings were starting to cool down in Corona.

"Yeah, it's all set up. I didn't want to turn it on until you were awake. They're noisy things."

"Well, sew away. Was there anything else you wanted to do today?"

She shook her head sadly. "I think I kind of want to hide inside today, if that's alright. I'm not feeling too good."

He offered her a comforting smile, trying not to let any pity into his eyes. "We can lock ourselves in all day if you want, Blondie. You do whatever you want. I'm going to do some research about running businesses."

"Okay,"

She didn't appear in the bathroom while he showered, which had become something of a habit for her, so he knew she must have been more anxious than usual. He offered to make her breakfast, but she said she wasn't hungry. He watched her thread her sewing machine with the spool of cotton without hesitating at all, and admired yet another one of her hidden skills.

She was happy to keep herself busy with her new sewing machine for five hours or so. Eugene pulled out his laptop, which hadn't been used much since he'd purchased it, and made some notes on an old notepad he'd found in a kitchen drawer. He was going to have to talk to someone about all of this. He wanted to make sure he was doing something right, for once in his life.

Rapunzel's phone rang a couple of times around midday. She answered it nervously and paced around his kitchen, tugging at the ends of her hair as she told both Cass and the policeman who had been working on her case that she didn't need anyone else to accompany her tomorrow. Eugene gathered from her conversation with the police officer that he was aware Eugene would be going with her tomorrow. He wondered how much she'd told the man about who he was.

He made lunch for her without asking. He wasn't a great cook, but he grilled sandwiches really well, and she thanked him when he sat in the barstool beside her and slid her plate over to her, kissing her on the side of the head as he lifted his feet off the ground.

"I'm sorry I'm not myself," she said quietly as they ate.

"Don't apologise," he said comfortingly. "I want you to relax a little bit, but if you absolutely can't, don't worry about me in all of this. I just want to make sure you're okay."

"I don't think I'm okay," she said in a breath.

He paused for a long moment, chewing his sandwich thoughtfully. "Rapunzel, if you absolutely don't want to do this, you don't have to. It's your decision, at the end of the day. I'm sure they would understand if you can't go through with it."

"No, I have do," she said decidedly. "They deserve it. And now that they know I'm coming, I can't back out. It would tear them to pieces."

Well, he wasn't going to disagree with that. He remembered how much media had been covering her disappearance when he was a child. How hopeful he'd been that he would be adopted by her parents, because it seemed they absolutely couldn't live without their child, and maybe they could heal themselves with him instead. He applauded them, actually. He knew of so many marriages falling apart when they'd lost a child, and somehow that hadn't happened here. They still appeared at events together, and still seemed very happy to be with each other. Well, from what he'd seen, at any rate. He couldn't have picked them out of a line-up, if he was being completely honest. He'd made the decision a long time ago to keep away from the local news.

Eugene was frowning at his laptop screen when Rapunzel cleared her throat for his attention, parading around in puffed-sleeved green sundress with a full skirt. He raised his eyebrows at her, impressed.

"Looks good, Blondie,"

It really did. It was unlike anything he'd seen a girl wear before, but while it was odd, it suited her. The bodice held her waist tightly and the skirt fell perfectly around her hips, the hem resting just above her knees. The sleeves were short and full and balanced her out perfectly. It looked like it could have been store-bought. It fit her as though it had been tailored by a master seamstress. She obviously knew exactly what she was doing.

"Do you think I should take the skirt up a bit? It might make me look a bit taller…" she bent at the hips to stare at her shins.

Eugene studied her for a moment, unsure of exactly what he was looking for but positive he liked her in green. "It looks perfect, Blondie. And I'm sure your parents aren't going to care about your height."

"I'm average height," she mumbled as she straightened back up to look at him.

He smirked, but resisted a chuckle. "Sure you are,"

Eugene turned his eyes back to his screen, where he was currently researching accountants and anyone who could help him step in the right direction of running a business, watching Rapunzel out of his peripheral vision as she reached behind herself and undid the zipper running down her spine. She pushed the dress down, over her hips, and left it piled on the floor, walking toward him slowly.

"What are you doing?"

"Just trying to make sense of all of this," he sighed, rubbing his face tiredly, and leaned back in his chair to allow her space to sit on his lap. She was wearing a simple blue underwear set today, and seemed oblivious to the fact she was almost naked as she took in the writing on the screen.

"We can handle this, Eugene," her tone was overly positive, and she pursed her lips as she read through the information and turned to him curiously. "Are you seriously considering taking over?"

"I feel like it's the right thing to do," he said honestly. "Frank's done so much for me. I don't want to be the reason what he's built can't continue."

"You've got to do what's right for you as well, though," Rapunzel threw an arm over his shoulder and squeezed the back of his head comfortingly. "It's going to be a big decision. And a big life change. Do you think you want that right now?"

Eugene sighed again. "I feel like any kind of change right now would be for the better. I'm meant to be setting a good example of myself, and I don't see how taking over a business wouldn't work in my favour for that."

"Hm," Rapunzel stared at his lips for a long moment, but it wasn't until he rested his hand on her bare thigh her eyes widened and she jumped from his lap and turned back toward him in one quick movement. "Sorry – I'll go get dressed."

He wanted to tell her that was ridiculous. She was finally beginning to calm down and be comfortable around him, and he was eating it up completely. But he also knew she had a lot on her mind and was in a panic about the day that was coming so quickly. Hell, even he was starting to stress about it.

Flynn Rider had never met a girl's parents before. Flynn had never even been around long enough to hear anything about anyone's parents. And now here he was, escorting this crazy, wide-eyed girl to meet her entire family after progressing half as far physically in their relationship after months than he normally would have within the space of a couple of hours.

And they were important people, too.

People who probably were well aware of the name 'Flynn Rider', and who were most likely involved in their society enough to be able to put a face to that name as well.

He swallowed nervously at the thought of entering their house and trying to act at ease, putting on a show not only for them, but for Rapunzel as well. Because he'd promised her he would be there for her, and whether he liked it or not he was quickly becoming her rock when things got too hard for her to handle. She wouldn't be able to deal with it if he backed out.

She must have paced the house one hundred times over before Eugene finally forced her toward the bed. Her freshly-sewn dress was draped over the back of one of the stools at the kitchen counter, ready for her to dress in first thing in the morning. She brushed her teeth twice and then laughed nervously at herself while he watched her with worry. She didn't seem to be completely aware he was around. He would catch her staring off into space and ask if she was okay, and she would force a grin and assure him everything was fine.

It wasn't until that night, when they were lying in the dark beside each other he felt her reach out and take his hand, rubbing her thumb along his knuckles as if trying to convince herself he was real and she wasn't alone.

"Eugene?"

"Yeah, Blondie?"

Her breath caught for a moment, and her voice sounded forced when she was finally able to speak. "I'm scared,"

Her voice was choked, and it tugged at him in a way he'd never experienced. Without even realising what he was doing, he pulled her toward him and forced her to rest her head on his chest, wrapping his arm around her and settling his hand on her bare back. Just holding her. A moment later he felt a flood of hot tears hit his skin heavily and he swallowed uncomfortably.

"You're going to be okay, Rapunzel. This will not be the scariest thing you've done since getting out, okay?" He hoped he was right. "You just need to get through until you meet them, and then I promise you'll feel so much better."

"I know," she swallowed past a lump in her throat. "I just don't want them to be disappointed in me."

"In you?" his voice took a lighter tone and he squeezed her back comfortingly. "How could anyone be disappointed in you, Blondie?"

She scoffed, "Everyone is so much better than me. Cass is so mature, and so knowledgeable about absolutely everything. I worry she looks down on me sometimes just because I have no idea about anything. It's embarrassing. And I ask myself why you entertain me every single day I'm with you."

He took that in for a moment too long. When he spoke again his voice was low and even. "Please don't ever think of me as better than you, Rapunzel. I've told you before how untrue that is. I don't want you to think that way."

"Eugene, look at you! Of course you're on an entirely different level to me! I know you've done some things that you maybe shouldn't have, and you like to beat yourself up about it, but you're honestly the most amazing person I've met since being out in the world, and I think that's saying something. I wish you saw yourself clearly." Her voice was starting to become slightly hysterical and Eugene found his hand moving to her hair and smoothing it comfortingly.

"Okay, Blondie," he said calmly. "I guess we'll just have to agree to like each other more than ourselves."


Rapunzel woke as the sun was starting to rise. And not even that nice kind of waking up, where you feel all hazy and decide to drift back off to sleep. The bad kind of waking up, where you feel like you've forgotten something or you're late to start the day.

But she wasn't late. She still had hours until she and Eugene needed to leave for the day.

To meet her parents.

She'd wanted to try sleeping as long as she could, so she wasn't up worrying about it, but her subconscious seemed to have other plans.

She sighed and turned toward the sleeping man beside her, smiling slightly as she watched him dream. He looked so different when he slept. All the carefully trained facial expressions of Flynn completely gone. One hundred percent Eugene.

She loved him so much. She wondered if it was the kind of love that people feel when they get married and have children, or whether it was the kind of love people have for their friends. She knew that she wanted to spend time with him over everyone else, but that didn't really tell her much. She loved Cass, and before Eugene she'd wanted her around all the time as well. But there was something different about Eugene. She didn't worry about him thinking she was stupid or saying something that would make him laugh at her, like she did with Cass. So maybe this was only the friend kind of love, but she felt better about it because she wasn't being so guarded?

She didn't want to kiss Cass, she decided finally. She liked the fact that she could feel the hairs on Eugene's chin, and how his moustache would scratch her top lip before he shaved every couple of days, and she liked how big his face was compared to hers. Cass was pretty and all, but she didn't wonder how her face smelled when she got that close and she wasn't intrigued by the squishiness of her lips at all.

Rapunzel pushed herself onto his pillow and kissed his lips softly, breathing in the smell of his skin and sleep. He drew in a deep breath and half-opened his eyes, watching her for a moment as he took in the early morning.

"Blondie," he yawned and rubbed at his face. "Why up so early?" He threw an arm over his head to make room for her, but she didn't lean into him automatically like she knew he'd expected.

"I woke up," obviously, Rapunzel. She chewed her lip. She decided she liked the hair under his arms. She tucked that thought away to ask if she could study them later, when he wasn't so tired.

"Come here," he rolled onto his back and pulled her toward him, tucking her head under his chin. The same position he had pulled her into last night while she cried. She felt safe here. Maybe the safest she had since leaving the house. Cass didn't make her feel safe like this…

"Sorry for waking you up," she said softly.

He yawned again and tapped her on the hip a couple of times. "S'okay. Go back to sleep," he strung his words together as if they were too difficult to enunciate, and she listened to his breath until he started up his quiet snores once more. She closed her eyes and nuzzled into the hairs on his chest. She loved those, as well. So safe. Eugene let her touch them all the time, and she'd decided they were one of her favourite parts about him. And his forearms, of course.

He was so warm and solid, and he smelled so good. The smell of Eugene was probably one of her favourite smells. Eugene and vanilla and sunflowers and freshly opened packs of coloured pencils.

Rapunzel wasn't sure if she'd actually fallen back to sleep at all. She'd been in that weird state of disassociation, where she felt like she could have been on the urge of dreams, but had no idea what her last thoughts had been, when Eugene's alarm finally went off at nine o'clock. He'd intended for them to have a sleep-in. She wasn't sure if that was to stop her from freaking out for as long as possible, or whether Eugene had just felt tired while setting it.

"Good morning," he said, a long moment after turning it off.

"It's today," her voice sounded calmer than she'd expected it to.

"It is," he agreed quietly. "How are you feeling?"

"I don't know," she thought for a short second, then bounded out of bed with the nerves and excitement flooding through her in one quick, messy movement. She landed heavily on her feet and took off to the bathroom to run a shower, hoping that would help calm her down.

Eugene didn't join her in the shower. She wondered why. She wondered if he was worried about her being even more fragile than normal today. She kind of wished he'd joined her. She could have taken her mind off what was going on by figuring how to touch him to make him orgasm again. His face was so beautiful when he did that. That would have been a perfect distraction.

Eugene had made her a cup of peppermint tea when she left the bathroom, wearing her pink towel because she couldn't decide what underwear to put on today. She supposed she should go back to her home and exchange clothes sometime soon. Eugene was probably getting sick of her at this point.

Two-and-a-half hours until she would be meeting her parents. She thought about it, chewing on the inside of her lip while Eugene made her bacon and toast. For the first time in the long time she didn't stress to fill the silence with pointless facts or surprising questions. She couldn't even bring herself to focus on looking at Eugene in his underwear, which was really hard, because she usually loved studying the lines between the muscles in his thighs and the way his feet looked travelling from his ankles. Beautiful Eugene.

He spoke to her gently and cheerfully while they ate. She knew he was trying to make her feel better about everything, but his tone of voice wasn't exactly right and she seemed to not know how to respond properly.

"So you're going to wear your new dress today?"

"Yep,"

"That will look nice…"

"I hope so,"

She knew she was being short and frustrating, but she just couldn't bring herself to string more than a few words together. She felt bad. Eugene must have been nervous too, surely, and here he was trying to ease her mind. She forced the rest of her toast into her mouth and leaned forward, resting a comforting hand on his arm.

"Are you okay?"

He obviously wasn't expecting that. He looked at her with surprise and frowned. "Yeah…are you okay, Blondie?"

"I don't know…" she was about to really try to figure out how she was feeling, but her phone rang from the little coffee table next to the couch and she raced to answer it.

It was Cassandra, calling to wish her the best of luck. Someone seemed to think everything was okay, at least. Rapunzel felt as though she was in a daze as she answered Cass robotically, somehow feeling more and more nervous with each word her friend said.

"Are you sure you don't want me to come out today, Raps? I don't mind. I could meet Eugene, and you'd have double the support –"

"I'm sure, thanks Cass." The last think she needed was her over-protective friend blowing up about her seeing who was apparently the worst man in the world.

"Alright," Cass sounded a little disappointed, but understanding. "Keep me updated. And let me know if you need anything. I'll see you soon, okay?"

"Okay," the phone went silent, and Rapunzel still held it to her ear. She noticed her hands were beginning to tremble. Her heart seemed to be beating way too fast, like it was when she was leaving the house for the first time. Except this didn't feel like it was going to go away any time soon, this felt like it would be with her forever. She felt sick in her stomach. She grabbed the first set of underwear she came to and ripped them on forcefully, stepping into her dress and struggling with the zip while Eugene watched her with his eyebrows drawn together.

"Let's go out," she said decidedly. "I need to go for a walk."

Rapunzel was already halfway through the opened door when she turned around to question why Eugene wasn't following her already.

"I should probably put on some pants."