Rating: Right now it’s a T… but I have a funny feeling that eventually it will be a M… we’ll see.
Summary: *Modern AU*The Corona police department contracts Flynn Rider as a consultant on a cold case as requested by the mayor. It will lead him on an adventure through the mob’s den, the world of illegal high stakes poker in China Town, a road to seeing “The Lights”, and uncovering a priceless treasure far more valuable than anything he could have ever dreamed of.
Author’s Note: A dedication to my favorite Tangled authors and their inspiring works: Fabulist, Airplanned, Ember, & Hadrien. This one is for y’all. **For those who are curious as to who I used for the RL models in the banner, that would be Matt Bomer playing the dashing rogue and Allison Harvard as the sweet and independent blondie.
"We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves." - François de la Rochefoucauld
Chapter 1: Out of the Box
Flynn's heart was slamming against his rib cages and his lungs were screaming for air. The rush of the bitter November wind bit at his face but he couldn't keep his giddiness down. His infamous Flynn Rider toothy grin shone bright against the inky night sky as his messenger bag trailed behind him like a brown "cape of awesome".
"Rider!" a voice laced with frustration and rage bellowed against the grimy brick walls of the narrow alleyway leading to 5th street.
The thief in question was running so fast it felt like he was flying, his feet barely touching the pavement as he let's a hoot of glee escape his lips before throwing a smug look over his shoulder at his pursuers. "Ha! You should see the look on your faces because you look absolutely-"
His retort was cut short by tripping feet and before he could get a hold of his barrings, Flynn felt himself literally fly across the shadowed asphalt, diving head first into a pile of garbage behind what smelled like a bakery shop; a bakery shop that sold moldy bread, banana peels, and rotten strawberries. He held his breath and tucked in his legs behind the large garbage bin trying to focus on not vomiting, as he heard foot steps receding down the alleyway across from him, heading uptown towards 6th and Buena Vista. "-ridiculous."
Flynn nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of a whispered voice from behind him. He whipped his head around and saw a girl who looked no more than 16 with the biggest green eyes he had ever seen. She was sitting very close to him with her lean arms wrapped around her legs that were tucked against her chest. A white chef's uniform that looked two sizes too big for her made her petite frame look even more tiny than he assume she normally was.
"Uh..." he started but wasn't sure how to actually answer her before she continued.
"Why are you hiding here? Are you playing hide-and-seek? Because I think it's really clever of you to hide in the garbage; I would have never thought of looking for you here!" She said in a hushed tone that could hardly contain something that sounded like genuine admiration.
"Oh my goodness... can you... not talk? I am so sorry! That was so insensitive of me to talk to you like you were a normal person when in actuality you-"
Flynn narrowed his eyes at the implication that he was strange, spluttering, "I-I am normal! You're the weird one asking if I play hide-and-seek? Look, kid, I really need you to scram right now. I'm kinda busy." At this rate, the girl is going to blow his 'hiding spot' and then he'll be peeing in public for the rest of however long his sentence will end up being.
"My name is 'Rapunzel', not 'Kid.' And you don't look busy." She said incredulously, as skepticism and curiosity danced in her eyes.
Flynn huffed an irritated sigh before turning back to her and saying, "I'm hiding. What does it look like I'm doing?"
"I didn't know; that's why I asked." Rapunzel said hotly.
"Well, maybe you should mind your own business and-"
Before he could finish his heated whispering, Flynn heard barking coming from around the corner of the building and it took him all of two second to curse and then jump out from behind the garbage bin and made a mad dash for the main road. It would be pointless to get cornered behind a garbage bin; his pride would be crush, not to mention the hideous potential background the dirty scene offered the front pages. No, that won't do at all. 'He could loose them in the traffic,' he thought as his fears were confirmed and a large German Shepard with a coat of pure white came barreling down the alleyway with murder etched into it's feral blue eyes.
"Get 'im Max!" came the voice of the captain, who was running after the bear size dog with a dozen or so other officers on his tail. "We got him today, boys!"
Flynn's feet moved on their own accord, as if his body knew the urgency of the moment was far more dire than his brain and it threw his body into overdrive whipping around corners and jumping over upturned trash cans and empty boxes. Once he thought he had even leapt over a sleeping body but he couldn't be sure as monochromatic colors and shadows of the night began to blur with the glow of the crescent moon. Then just when his lungs were starting to protest, Flynn took a left at the next building, hoping that it would bring him to Main Street where he could blend into the crowd of shoppers and fellow Corona citizens. Yet, as he rounded that last turn, Flynn came face to face with a 10 foot fence blocking off the Corona Freeway that glittered with traffic below. 'So much for being cornered.' Without hesitation, he jumped up and began to climb the fence when he felt something bite into his leather boots.
The dog caught up.
He tried to kick the white mass of fur off of him but Max's jaw clenched and with one tug, Flynn felt his other foot slip off the fence, leaving him gripping the fence with his fingers for dear life.
"Let. Go. Of. Me. You. Stupid. Mutt!"
The dog's eyes began to narrow and turn an electric shade of blue. Offense taken, Max bit harder into the shoe, penetrating the thick leather and began to pull back with all his might. Flynn's grip loosen as his fingers grew numb and, before he knew what had happened, he was on the ground, the wind knocked from his lung, his arms, which had instinctively braced his fall, is now tucked underneath him, his chin sore from being slammed on the rough pavement, a his body has been converted into a chair for the dog. It sneered down at him with a complacent look on his mug, wagging his tail as the rest of the police force finally caught up.
The captain, in all his mustachey glory, sauntered up to the pinned thief, reaching behind his back to grab his cuffs that hung from his belt and drawled, "I've been waiting a long time for this day, Rider."
Flynn looked up at the man who loomed over him, with the moonlight illuminating behind him the captain's face was shadowed making his aura more menacing than if he weren't. Flynn wasn't sure if he was up for another night in the cell; tonight was suppose to be his "me time" in front of the tube with a bowl of Reese's Puffs, a cold one, and-
"I'm sorry, what was that? I couldn't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am." Flynn smirked but regretted it as Max took this opportunity to sit even more heavily on his back as if to remind the thief that he was still apprehended by a dog.
"I said... where is the crown?" The captain snarled at him as he placed the cold barrel of his gun against Flynn's cheek.
Flynn rolled his eyes at the weapon and then proceeded to make sure the crown was still in his messenger bag before he begins to deny all of the captain's claims but couldn't feel anything at his side. He groped around, trying to crane his neck in order to look for what his fingers couldn't find. "No, no, no, no! This is bad... this is REALLY bad."
"What the hell are you mumbling about Rider? Give us the crown or so help me-"
"I lost the crown."
Rapunzel gasped as a bear sized dog sprinted after the man who, just moments ago, was offering her warmth against the autumn chill. Her eyes widen as she flattened herself against the trash bin hoping that she would not be seen by the dozen or so armed men who followed the dog in suit. When she was sure that they had left, Rapunzel let out the breath she was holding only to cough at the smell of the garbage that surrounded her.
She wasn't sure what to make of the man who had squatted next to her. It happened so quickly, she's a bit unsure if she had imagined him or not. He came off as overconfident and rude despite his good looks.
Her eyes grew even wider at the memory of telling the man her real name! She couldn't understand what had came over her! She didn't even know him! He didn't seemed like a threat but the words of her old caretaker immediately echoed in her mind, "You're too naïve and trusting, Rapunzel. There's no way that a man like that could be anything more than the scum that mucks up the sewers." Rapunzel shook her head in order to clear her mind of the voice that spoke words of haunting truth.
And yet, Rapunzel couldn't deny that there was something in his eyes. Not skirting on the surface, of course, he seemed too proud to let any type of weakness show that apparently. No, there was an underlining bite to his eyes, ones that could only be there through disappointment, abandonment, and loneliness. The look made her chest ache and brought uncontrollable hot tears to corners of her eyes. She knew that look all too well. It was the look she would see when she woke up in the morning and walked past the mirror in the bathroom. It was the look that she saw when she caught her reflection on the newly polished walk-in refrigerator door at the bakery. It was the look in her state ID that left her confused because she swore she had smiled when the plump lady behind the counter said to. Rapunzel sighed as she hung her head. It felt nice to know that someone else felt her pain but it was also an awful state to wish upon anyone else, even if that someone was a rude stud. Perhaps he'll just forget about her name. It was possible since it looked as though he had more pressing matters to deal with besides remembering some stupid girl's name, even though it was her real name.
"Oi, Goldie! Your break's over. Get in here!" A man's voice shouted from the hot kitchens making Rapunzel winced at the sound. Rising up slowly from behind the bin, letting the blood flow into her stiff legs, Rapunzel noticed a large bag with a broken strap lying haphazardly on the ground. Gingerly picking it up, she tucked her hair back before taking a closer look. From the look of the strap, this was not the first time it's been sewn back on and the wide array of patches on the bag itself looked as though the wearer had been using it for quite some time. Turning it around, Rapunzel saw a name stitched messily on the back that read 'Flynn Rider.' The material must have once been very thick but now it was almost threadbare and could hardly support whatever was currently inside of it. Carefully, Rapunzel unzipped the bag to see a beautiful tiara sitting snugly inside. Her eyes grew to the size of saucers as she reached in to touch the glistening beauty when the voice returned, "GOLDIE LOCKES! Where the hell are you? Get your skinny ass in here now!"
"Coming!" Rapunzel said not really recognizing her voice. She had to hide the bag looking up at the street that the man had ran off to. The barking had long stopped and the sounds of sirens could barely be heard over the clanging of ceramic dishes and crushing ice in blenders. Rapunzel began to unbutton her chef's uniform and tucking the lumpy messenger bag under her arm before walking back into the warmth of the kitchen.
"And this, mister Mayor, is where we bring in suspects for interrogation." The tall man slithered around the table to point at the room on the far left of the office space. The mayor, a jovial man with crinkles around his eyes, smiled weakly at his wife who had been kind enough to accompany him on the tour of the Corona Police Station. The Mayor nodded approvingly and was about to ask about crime rates of late when a loud ruckus could be heard from the other side of the office. A man in his mid twenties was being roughly pushed towards the holding cells by a particularly irritated police officer. The man switched between struggling against his cuffs to winking at the secretary in the front counter, who blushed prettily.
"Don't encourage him, Doris!" barked the officer as he pushed the man in question around the corner.
The Mayor turned slowly back to the chief of public relations who rolled his eyes at the scene and was about to continue with his tour when the Mayor's wife asked, "Who was that?"
The man stopped abruptly before turning to the lady and answered with a smile, "That, maddam, is CPD's finest detective, Captain Walter James. He has been with the department for over 10 years now serving the citizen's of Corona with the iron fist of his will and the unwavering loyalty of his heart!" The PR went on embellishing about the fine captain with zest and enthusiasm but was stopped by the Mayor who softly said, "I believe my wife was inquiring about the detainee who had been brought in by the Captain." His wife's nod only confirms the chief's mistake which left him in a pout, as if he were disappointed he couldn't go on about the Captain and his many accomplishments.
"Oh, him." clearing his throat, the lanky man rolled his eyes again before saying, "Flynn Rider: the city's most notorious criminal. He's been caught on so many accounts and charged for everything in the books. You name it, he's done it. He's stolen, conned, swindled, cheated, and lied his way through the world ever since he was first booked at the age of 14. He knows the underground world like the back of his hand and his accomplices are some of the most ruthless and evil criminals this city has ever seen. I'm positive that there isn't a single dark rumor that man doesn't know."
The Mayor's wife looked back at the corner where the figures had disappeared behind before turning back to the man who shook his head in disgust.
"May we please speak with Mr. Rider?"
As expected, the chief of public relations sputtered protests but the look in her eyes were unwavering and, before he could say another word, soon nodded. He excused himself to go and tell the captain that Rider will be having visitors and to give them some privacy.
"Elizabeth? What are you thinking of?" The Mayor asked quizzically, not too sure if asking was exactly what he wanted to do. Perhaps it was best not knowing, especially since the glint in her eyes suggests she may have something devious up her sleeves.
The holding cells were cold and dimly lit which Flynn had always thought to be counter-productive since you would want the cameras to be able to catch every little movement you make. It would make more sense to keep the criminals in a very bright environment where they can be kept under better surveillance and are not obstructed by annoying little corners that were filled with shadows.
"Rider! The mayor wants to speak to you so you better not act out!" The captain said as he saluted the mayor and and his wife before standing outside, as per requested. "I will be right outside the door if you need anything at all madam, sir. If this man makes you uncomfortable or says anything unruly to you, do not hesitate to knock on the door and I will take you out immediately!"
The mayor's wife smiled politely and nodded before turning back to the man who was sitting on the bench of the far wall. With a look of determination in her eyes, she moved to the other side of the cell so that she could get a better look at him.
"Good evening, Mr. Rider. I'm Elizabeth-"
"I know who you are. You're the mayor's wife. And may I just say... you are look devilishly beautiful tonight. And Mr. Mayor! You're looking quite nice, as well. Is that Italian silk?" Flynn said with charming smile.
Unfazed by his flirtatious ways, Elizabeth continued, "I have a business proposition for you."
Flynn chuckled before saying, "As you can see, my lady, I'm a bit preoccupied at the moment."
"What if I were to offer you a way out?"
Flynn was silent for a moment, not sure if he heard the woman in front of him correctly. "I'm listening."
The woman took a deep breath, then said in a steady voice, "The mayor and I have an opportunity for you to redeem yourself by completing an assignment we have set for you. You will be allowed to venture outside of the police department. While you will not be supervised you will be required to wear a GPS anklet. The anklet will allow you to travel within a 5 mile radius of your living quarters, which you have listed here in your file as 13370 Magnolia Avenue, Apt. 17. You will be working closely with the Corona Police Department, who will be monitoring your movements. You will answer to them if ever a situation may rise during the assignment. Upon completion of your assignment you will be pardoned for all criminal charges after you complete an additional 10 hours of community service."
Smiling at the prospect of having a clean criminal record, Flynn drawled, "Well, I'm all ears, my lady, what kind of business venture are we looking at?"
"Ah, then you came to the right place. 'Retrieval' is a specialty of mine. What is the item that you are procuring?"
"A person." She pulled out a file from her large purse and handed it to Flynn, who opened it up curiously. "A cold case. An infant was abducted 18 years go and has since been missing. She will be 18 this year on November 24th. You are assigned to retrieve her and bring her back to us safely."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up. I may have not been clear, so let me "rectify my previous statement". I am in the "item retrieval" business, not "person retrieval business." Sorry, I don't think that you're asking the right person."
Elizabeth did not waver from her stance and continued, "How are you not the right person to ask? You know the in's and out's of the underworld and how they operate. I'm sure that you could send out... feelers to your contact who will be able to give you information on this missing person that they cannot or will not give us. You will have any equipment you need at your disposal via the Corona Police Department within reasonable parameters. My husband and I will be monitoring your progress during your investigation as well, so you will have our full cooperation."
The thief was skeptical but the thought of not having to spend another night in this cell was too tempting to pass up, so he inquired the one thing that had been bugging him since she brought up the case, "How do you know?"
The woman tilted her head slightly at the question.
"How do you know that she's not dead?" Flynn asked not really caring at the moment if the question came off rude or cold.
Elizabeth sighed deeply, the Mayor walked over and placed a warm hand on her shoulder in the most comforting way he knew, without knowing if it was more for his or her benefit. Sucking in a shaky breath, Elizabeth faced Flynn again before whispering, "Let's call it's a mother's intuition."
Flynn was silent, letting the whole situation play out in his head again, scouring for loopholes he might have missed the first or second time through. Once satisfied, he nodded, "So, there's no way I can get out of those 10 hours of community service?"
"These are my terms. These terms are non-negotiable. They cannot be altered or redefined in anyway shape or form. If you are to succeed, you will be granted pardon for your crimes and upon completion of your duties to the city of Corona, you will not be obligated to help the Corona PD any further."
There was silence again before a voice humbled, "What do you say, Mr. Rider? My wife has proposed for you quite an offer." The Mayor had been completely silent up until then and Flynn had almost forgotten that he was there. Almost.
Tapping his fingers on his chin, Flynn thought long and hard about all that Elizabeth just said before asking, "How can I be sure? That you won't go back on your word?"
The mayor's wife gave him a sad, knowing smile, as if those words told her more about Flynn that he had expected it to, "We can shake on it."
Flynn raised an eyebrow before saying, "Really? I'm suppose to shake your hand and hope that you won't-"
"I respect you enough to know that if I shake your hand, then a deal is a deal." Elizabeth said simply. Her husband nodded that this statement was true and Flynn couldn't help but wonder which of the two actually wore the pants in the relationship.
Without another word, Flynn got up from the bench and strode over to the bars, looking straight into Elizabeth's eyes. They did not waver or blink or dart about in fear, they simply stared back at him with such intense sincerity Flynn found himself intimidated. Willing himself not to look away, he stuck out his hand and shook her's firmly.
Be sure to let me know if it's any good. I've been experimenting with my writing style lately and I would love some constructive criticism if you can offer it. ^_^ Please and thank you for taking the time to read.
Xposted at lovetangle & eugene_rapunzel.