The Land of Stories: Gleefully Ever After by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
FeatureSummary:

Chris Colfer, bestselling author of The Land of Stories, finds himself (along with Darren Criss, who is unwittingly responsible for this perplexing state of affairs) transported into the world of his imagination…with a few Gleeful differences.


Categories: Action/Adventure, Cotton Candy Fluff, Crossover, First Time, Friendship, Humor, Multi-Chapter, Romance, Supernatural Characters: Chris Colfer, Darren Criss
Challenges:
Series: The Gleeful Land of Stories
Chapters: 31 Completed: Yes Word count: 43761 Read: 29973 Published: January 09, 2014 Updated: June 19, 2015
Story Notes:

This story takes place during the summer of 2012, immediately following the publication of The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, which means that it is pre-season 4 of Glee, and pre-Will.

Warning: This story contains spoilers for the entire book The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell.  So if you haven't read it yet, go out and buy it right now.  And get the audio version, too -  Chris reads it himself, and he does an amazing job with all of the voices.  :D

1. Chapter 1 - Into the Laptop by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

2. Chapter 2 - The Land of Stories? by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

3. Chapter 3 - Which Witch? by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

4. Chapter 4 - A Familiar Face by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

5. Chapter 5 - The Tallest - No, Make That the Cleanest - Tower by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

6. Chapter 6 - The (not so) Charming Kingdom by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

7. Chapter 7 - Having a Ball by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

8. Chapter 8 - Over the Wall by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

9. Chapter 9 - Unrequited Love by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

10. Chapter 10 - Fire by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

11. Chapter 11 - Scandals by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

12. Chapter 12 - Heads Will Roll by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

13. Chapter 13 - The Warbler Council by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

14. Chapter 14 - Wild Things by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

15. Chapter 15 - Wake Me Up by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

16. Chapter 16 - As White as Snow by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

17. Chapter 17 - A Wild Ride by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

18. Chapter 18 - This Could Mean Danger by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

19. Chapter 19 - Under the Sea by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

20. Chapter 20 - Once Upon a Time by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

21. Chapter 21 - And the Old Vine Twined by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

22. Chapter 22 - Friends Close, Enemies Closer by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

23. Chapter 23 - Heart of Stone by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

24. Chapter 24 - The Mirror of True Love by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

25. Chapter 25 - Collapse by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

26. Chapter 26 - Endgame by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

27. Chapter 27 - For Good by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

28. Chapter 28 - All You Need by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

29. Chapter 29 - A Royal Invitation by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

30. Chapter 30 - The Fairy Godfather by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

31. Teaser by ChrisCalledMeSweetie

Chapter 1 - Into the Laptop by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which reality imitates fiction...

 

July 26, 2012

 

The headquarters of Glee during the off-season seemed deserted.  The studios were silent, the rehearsal rooms were empty, and the sets had been taken down.  Behind one door, however, a light flickered.  Ryan Murphy sat alone, apparently deep in contemplation of the words on his computer screen.  For hour after hour he remained motionless, save for the back-and-forth of his eyes and the tiny movements required to scroll through his work.  Eventually, a smile began to bloom across his face.  With a final glance at the screen, Glee’s creator hit SEND.

 

 

Christopher Paul Colfer, age 22, had many accolades to his name.  He was the winner of a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Teen Choice Award, and a Golden Globe Award.  He had even been acknowledged as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People.  But the accomplishment of which Chris was most proud was becoming a New York Times #1Bestselling Author.  

 

Ever since he was old enough to hold a pencil, Chris had loved to write.  From his first childhood scribblings, through his tenure as president of his high school writers’ club, and continuing on into his every spare moment once he got caught up in the whirlwind of Glee, Chris had a story he wanted to tell.  Now, all those years of hard work had finally paid off.  The Land of Stories had traveled from his head, to random scraps of paper, to his laptop, to bookstores around the country.  He couldn’t be more delighted.

 

Chris was spending a couple of days at home before heading to Ohio for the last leg of his book tour.  Ashley had graciously agreed to feed Brian while he was away, as she always did when he went out of town.  Although he knew on a rational level that his cat would be just fine without him, Chris couldn’t help but feel guilty for leaving again so soon.  To make himself feel better, Chris was spending every waking moment carrying Brian around like an overstuffed teddy bear.  Right now, the two of them were sitting in front of his laptop as Chris tried to catch up on his email.

 

Noticing that he had a message from Ryan Murphy, Chris clicked it open.  The subject line read simply “Glee,” and the body of the email was blank.  There was a file attached, but Chris was wary about opening any attachments unless he knew ahead of time what they contained.  After all, anyone’s email could be hacked, and Chris wasn’t willing to take any risks when it came to his laptop, where he kept all of his writing.

 

Chris was just about to hit Reply to ask Ryan about the attachment when Brian flicked out a paw and started downloading it.  Chris tried to cancel the download, but his laptop wouldn’t respond.  Fearing a virus, Chris decided to shut the computer down.  Nothing he attempted had any effect, though.  The attachment just kept on downloading. 

 

Chris phoned Ryan, but only got through to his voicemail.  He sent a text, but received no reply.  Shit.  Why couldn’t he even turn his laptop off?  Apparently, the file that Ryan (or someone…) had sent was quite massive.  After an hour of fruitlessly trying to stop it, Chris gave up and decided to go to bed.

 

Sometime in the middle of the night, Chris was awakened by a strange humming sound.  He blinked his eyes open and noticed a glow coming from the corner of the room where he’d left his laptop.  Had the download finally been completed?  And did his laptop now contain some hideous virus that would corrupt all of his files?

 

Chris leapt out of bed and rushed over to his laptop, hoping against hope that everything would be okay.  Just as he reached for it, the humming stopped and the glow faded.  Was it dead? 

 

With trembling hands, Chris picked up his laptop and turned it on.  To his delight, it started up normally.  In fact, there didn’t appear to be anything wrong with it at all.  Checking his recent downloads, Chris found no trace of the mysterious attachment, and the email from Ryan seemed to have vanished, as well. 

 

Had he dreamt the whole thing?  He had been awfully tired, between all of the flights, and book signings, and his chronic struggle with insomnia.  Chris laughed to himself.  What a strange dream – his cat downloading a suspicious email from his boss.  With a sigh of relief, Chris shut down his laptop and went back to bed.

 

 

Chris awoke to the sensation of Brian’s paw batting softly at his cheek.  Knowing that the gentle taps would become progressively rougher if he didn’t feed his cat ASAP, Chris dragged himself out of bed and shuffled sleepily to the kitchen to make breakfast.  Between the whirring of the can opener and the purring of his cat, he almost missed the strange humming noise that was coming from his bedroom.

 

As he made his way back down the hall, the humming grew louder, and Chris could see a bright light shining through his bedroom doorway.  He paused, recalling the vivid “dream” he’d had the night before.  Had it been real, after all?

 

Suddenly the doorbell rang, followed immediately by the buzz of an incoming text on his phone.  Of course it was Darren, sending Open the door – I know you’re home.  Chris glanced back toward his room.  All was dark (or as dark as the blackout curtains in his bedroom could make it at midday) and quiet.  Shaking his head in confusion, he turned and went to let Darren in.

 

The sight of his friend brought a warm smile to Chris’s face, and he stepped eagerly into Darren’s open arms.  Darren squeezed him tightly, rocking back and forth a couple of times, before pulling back to say, “Hey, man, it’s great to see you.  Two weeks apart is too fucking long!  Just because you’re a big-shot author now, you’d better not forget the little people.”

 

“Are you making a short joke at your own expense, Darren?”

 

“Not intentionally, but if it gets me that laugh I’ve been missing so much, then why not?”  Then, glancing at Chris’s sleepwear, Darren asked, “Am I getting you out of bed?”

 

“No, don’t worry, Brian already took care of that.  Just let me slip into something a little less comfortable.”

 

Darren followed Chris down the hall to his room and flopped down on the unmade bed while Chris got dressed.  Noticing the laptop sitting in the corner, Darren asked, “Were you up late working on your sequel?”

 

Chris followed his friend’s gaze.  “No, just catching up on email.  But I think there’s something really weird going on.  My laptop keeps glowing and humming.”

 

Darren looked at him blankly.  “So?  It’s a laptop.   They’re supposed to glow and hum.”

 

“No, not like normal glowing and humming.  It’s like something magic, like the book the twins fall into in The Land of Stories.”  Seeing Darren’s expression, Chris continued, “You must think I’m crazy.”

 

“Not crazy, just overworked.  You’ve been living and breathing that book 24/7.  But your book tour is almost over, and then we’ll have a little down time before shooting for Glee starts back up again.  Maybe we should plan a quiet little vacation together.”

 

Chris was formulating his reply, unsure whether to insist on what he’d seen or to chalk it up to fatigue, when his laptop suddenly began to glow and hum once more.

 

Darren leapt off the bed and grabbed Chris’s hand.  “Oh my god!  That is so cool!  It’s not just the screen, the whole thing is actually glowing!  And that humming is almost musical.  In fact, I think I recognize the tune…”

 

As Darren spoke, he was moving slowly toward the laptop, dragging Chris along with him.  Chris hung back, fascination warring with his natural caution.  As Darren reached for the computer, Chris cried out, “Wait!” but it was too late. 

 

Chris watched in horror as his friend’s hand was sucked into the laptop.  The fingers of Darren’s other hand tightened around Chris’s own, and the two of them were drawn inexorably forward.  Chris closed his eyes against the brightness, and he felt himself falling.

 

Moments later, Chris and Darren landed in a heap, hands still clasped together.  Chris was on top, so Darren had mostly broken his fall.  Struggling to his feet, Chris reached down to help his friend up. 

 

Darren seemed to have had the wind knocked out of him, and he looked dazed.  His eyes (with those ridiculously lovely eyelashes) were blinking slowly as he turned his head from side to side.  “Where are we?”

 

Chris thought (hoped) he knew.  Tugging Darren along with him, Chris walked toward a nearby tree, where he could see that a poster had been pinned.  The sight that greeted his eyes was both familiar and completely unexpected:

 

WANTED

DEAD OR ALIVE

KURT HUMMELOCKS

FOR BURGLARY, THEIVERY, AND

RUNNING FROM THE LAW


 

End Notes:

 

I thought a TLOS/Glee/CrissColfer crossover would be fun, and I’ve figured out who all of the characters will be, but so far I’ve only written this first chapter.  Those of you who are familiar with my other stories know that positive feedback is what keeps me going.  So, if you’d like me to continue this, please let me know.  J

 

Chapter 2 - The Land of Stories? by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which Chris and Darren try to figure out where they are…

 

“Oh my god!” Chris gasped.  “What did Ryan do to my laptop?”

 

Darren’s gaze traveled from his friend’s horrified face to the poster tacked to the tree in front of them:

 

WANTED

DEAD OR ALIVE

KURT HUMMELOCKS

FOR BURGLARY, THEIVERY, AND

RUNNING FROM THE LAW

       

“Were you and Ryan working on a Land of Stories/Glee crossover episode together?”

 

“Not to my knowledge, and certainly not with my consent,” Chris huffed.

 

“So what’s with the poster?”

 

“That’s what I’d like to know.  Last night, Ryan sent me an email with a huge attachment.  Brian tapped the keyboard and it started to download.”

 

“Good old Brian,” Darren chuckled.

 

Chris rolled his eyes.  “Yes, well, I couldn’t stop it, and my computer wouldn’t shut down, and then it started glowing and humming, and then someone showed up at my house and decided it would be a good idea to stick his hand into the possessed laptop, get sucked into another dimension, and drag me along for the ride.”

 

“Oops.”

 

“Oops?  It that all you’ve got, Dare?  Oops?!” Chris ranted.  “Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”

 

“Chris, please, I know you’re upset, but don’t take it out on me.  It was an accident.  How was I supposed to know that your laptop had suddenly become a portal to another world?”

 

Chris took a steadying breath.  “You’re right.  I’m sorry.  It’s not your fault.”

 

Darren grinned at him.  “And hey, wasn’t I just saying that we should take a little vacation together?  And haven’t you always called this your ‘happy place,’ where you can escape from the stresses of the real world?”

 

The Land of Stories may be my happy place, but I don’t think that’s where we are.  At least, not entirely.  There’s no ‘Kurt Hummelocks’ in my book.  Who knows what else is different here?”

 

“So wait – are you upset because I accidentally transported us to The Land of Stories?  Or are you upset because it’s not The Land of Stories?”

 

Chris looked down, embarrassed.  “The second one, actually.  All my life, I’ve dreamed about coming to The Land of Stories.  This book is like my first-born child.  And now I feel like it’s been kidnapped by Ryan Murphy and used in some bizarre experiment in genetic engineering.  I mean - don’t get me wrong - I love Kurt, too.  I just don’t think I want to see him turned into some weird, mutant Goldilocks-hybrid.”

 

Darren looked thoughtful.  “Hmmm… That might actually be kind of cool.  I’ve read your version of Goldilocks, and she’s the most kick-ass character in your book.  And I’ve always felt like Kurt is secretly one of the most bad-ass characters on Glee.  I bet he could pull it off.” 

 

Chris raised an eyebrow.

 

“C’mon,” Darren coaxed.  “Why don’t you give me the grand tour?  And while we’re at it, you can figure out if anything else is different here.”

 

Chris heaved an exaggerated sigh, but he was secretly pleased that Darren wanted to explore.  “Okay,” he agreed.  “We shouldn’t be too far from Froggy’s house.  Let’s see if he’s home.”

 

As Chris led the way deeper into the forest, he had a strong sense of déjà vu.  Every rock and tree seemed familiar – not as though he’d imagined this scene, but as if he’d actually been here before.  The sensation was oddly disturbing, and Chris was glad to have Darren with him, his friend’s familiar presence acting as an anchor to reality.  Or, he amended in his head, whatever version of reality the two of them were currently experiencing.

 

Soon, they reached a large, wooden door, set into the side of a small hill.  Chris turned to Darren.  “You’d better let me do the talking.”

 

“Sure.”

 

Chris knocked on the door.  There was a scuffling sound from within, and the door swung open, revealing an enormous frog-man.

 

“Froggy!” Darren exclaimed.

 

Froggy looked taken aback.  “I’m sorry… Do I know you?” he asked.

 

Chris glared at Darren, and gave him a little kick for good measure.  Then, turning back to Froggy, he said, “We’re sorry to disturb you.  I’m Chris, and this is my less-than-tactful friend, Darren.  We’re not from around here.  We were wondering if you might be able to help us.”

 

Recovering his composure, Froggy said, “Of course, of course.”  Then, beckoning them inside, he added, “You took me by surprise.  I don’t get many visitors.”

 

“I can see why,” Darren muttered to Chris under his breath. 

 

They found themselves in a large, dark room, with a dirt floor, dirt walls, and a dirt ceiling.  Froggy motioned for them to sit down on a large, ratty-looking sofa.  “I’ve just made a pot of lily-pad tea,” he said.  “Would you like a cup?”

 

Chris shook his head in refusal, but Darren replied, “Sure.”  When Chris looked at him questioningly, Darren explained, “When in Rome, and all that.”

 

After handing Darren a cup of tea, Froggy sat down in an overstuffed chair opposite the sofa.  “So,” he inquired, “how can I help you?”

 

“Do you have a journal written by a man who wanted to use the Wishing Spell to get to another world?”

 

Froggy gasped.  “How do you know about that?”

 

“We’re from that other world, and we need to get home.  Would you mind letting us borrow the journal?”

 

Froggy stared at Chris and Darren, taking in their jeans and t-shirts.  “Um… okay,” he said at last. 

 

Froggy stood and walked to one of the many large bookshelves lining his dirt walls.  He pulled down a small, leather-bound volume, and handed it to Chris. 

 

“I’ve had this journal for years,” he said sadly.  “I kept telling myself that maybe one day I’d collect the Wishing Spell items so that I could be turned back into my real form.  But the truth is, that would require me to leave this hole in the ground, and I’ll never do that because I just can’t bring myself to face the world looking like this.”

 

“Hey,” Darren piped up, “don’t knock yourself.  I don’t care whether you’re green, purple, frog, toad, or dinosaur.  That which makes you different makes you strong.  Just be who you are.”

 

Froggy gave Darren a tremulous smile, but didn’t look convinced.  “You two will need more than just the journal if you’re trying to create the Wishing Spell.  Let me put together some provisions for you.”

 

Froggy gathered food, a couple of water flasks, a woolen blanket, a small bag of gold coins, and something that looked suspiciously (and incongruously) like a Swiss Army knife.  He placed the supplies in a sheepskin satchel, which he handed to Darren. 

 

Chris stood up and put a hand on Froggy’s shoulder.  “Thanks so much for your help.  Darren and I need to head out now, but you ought to think about what he said.  You have more courage inside than you realize.  In fact, deep down in your heart, you’re a hero.”

 

“I appreciate the kind words,” Froggy said, escorting them to the door, “but you don’t really know me.”

 

“Oh, but I do,” Chris told him with an enigmatic smile.  “Just trust me.”

 

As Froggy closed the door behind them, Darren turned to Chris and asked, “So, was he exactly the way you imagined him?”

 

“Close, but not quite.  For one thing, he was so much bigger than I’d pictured.  I mean, I wrote him to be taller than the twins, but they’re just kids.  Froggy must be at least six-three.  And his voice wasn’t what I’d imagined, either.  But I guess that makes sense.  After all, I did all the voices on the audio-book myself, but I wouldn’t expect every character here to really sound like me.”

 

“His voice did sound kind of familiar, though,” Darren mused.  “As if someone we knew had been turned into a frog.  But I couldn’t quite figure out who…”

 

“Well, we can think about it as we walk.  We need to get a move on if we’re going to make it out of the Dwarf Forests before it gets dark.”

 

“And something tells me that we’d better hurry,” Darren agreed, as eerie howls sounded in the distance… 

 

End Notes:

 

Many thanks to the lovely reviewers who encouraged me to continue writing this. 

Any guesses as to who Froggy might be?  Ten points and the title of “Most Clever Gleek” to the first person to guess correctly – although I won’t be able to tell you if you’re right until I get to that part of the story.

 

Chapter 3 - Which Witch? by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which we find sugar and spice…  And everything nice?

 

Chris and Darren turned away from Froggy’s house and set off into the woods.  “Are you sure you know where you’re going?” Darren asked.

 

“Positive.  The characters here may have changed a bit, but the landscape is completely familiar.”

 

“Good.  ‘Cause I wouldn’t want to accidentally end up in the Fire Swamp, or the Bog of Eternal Stench.”

 

Chris laughed.  “This isn’t The Princess Bride, and I don’t see any Labyrinths around, so I think we’re safe.”

 

“Just checking,” Darren said, bumping their shoulders together.

 

They continued on in companionable silence.  Soon, a delicious scent began to fill the air.

 

“Ooh… Gingerbread!” Darren exclaimed, turning his head from left to right and sniffing excitedly. 

 

“Act like a puppy much, Darren?”

 

Never one to be deterred by Chris’s teasing, Darren kept trying to pinpoint the source of the scrumptious aroma.  “Come on!” he cried, grabbing Chris’s hand and taking off in the direction where the scent was the strongest.

 

“Do the words Hansel and Gretel cannibalism incident mean nothing to you?”

 

“Relax.  Of course I’ve read Hansel and Gretel.  But I’ve read your book, too.  Remember?  All we have to do is wish that the witch will become a vegetarian, and then she won’t eat us.”

 

“If it’s the same witch,” Chris muttered darkly.  But he allowed Darren to pull him off the path, following the scent of gingerbread.

 

Soon they came to a picture-perfect gingerbread house.  Chris was shocked to see his friend (and coworker) Dot-Marie Jones standing in front of it.

 

“Dot!” Chris called, running towards her.  “What are you doing here?”

 

“I think you’ve got me confused with someone else, Punkin.  I’m Witch Beiste, and I live here.”

 

“You’re the witch?!” Darren blurted out.  “I wish you would become a vegetarian!

 

“A vegetarian?  Sorry, Punkin, never gonna happen.  I’m a turducken-itarian.  That’s what I eat for every meal – a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken.  A witch has gotta keep her strength up.”

 

“All you ever eat is turducken?  But what about Hansel and Gretel?  I thought you were trying to fatten them up to eat them.”

 

“Eat them?  Punkin, what kind of a witch do you think I am?  I was just trying to put some meat on their scrawny bones so they could play defense on my peewee football team.  But I think Gretel had an eating disorder.  And then Hansel got all in a snit because he wanted to be the quarterback.  With a bony arm like that?!  I don’t think so.  But those two munchkins just couldn’t accept that I was only trying to help.  So one day, when I opened up my oven to put in my turducken, the two little ingrates pushed me in and ran off.  Fortunately, I like my turducken slow-roasted, and I always keep the oven temperature low.  So, after I had a nice little sauna in there, I climbed back out, feeling refreshed.  You know, a good sweat does wonders for you.”

 

Chris and Darren stared at her, mouths open.

 

“You boys trying to catch flies?” she asked.

 

Chris closed his mouth, and elbowed Darren until he did the same.  “So let me get this straight,” he said.  “You’re a witch, but instead of eating children, you coach a peewee football team?”

 

“Way to go – touchdown!  You were paying attention.”

 

Chris shook his head as if trying to rattle something loose in there.  “And your name is Beiste?”

 

“There’s the extra point,” she said, holding up her hand for a high five.

 

Chris was too busy trying to wrap his mind around this strange mash-up between Glee and The Land of Stories to pick up on her gesture, but Darren swooped in happily for a high five.  “Sorry I tried to turn you into a vegetarian,” he told Witch Beiste.  “I’m usually much more accepting of people’s chosen lifestyles.  I just freaked out a little when I thought you were going to eat us.”

 

“Don’t worry, Punkin.  No hard feelings.  …  I can tell you boys aren’t from around these parts, seeing as you’re out of uniform.  Where are you heading?”

 

Chris finally recovered his composure enough to speak.  “We’re on our way to the Corner Kingdom.”

 

“Well, much as I’d love to have you stay and chat, you’ve still got quite a bit of walking to do.  And I’d recommend you get well clear of these woods before nightfall.  Not every creature here is as much of a connoisseur as I am when it comes to dinnertime.”

 

Chris and Darren nodded their agreement, as the distant howling seemed to be drawing nearer… 

 

End Notes:

 

So, have you figured out where I’m going with this?  Who do you think they’ll meet next?  Write me a review, and let me know your predictions…

 

Chapter 4 - A Familiar Face by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which someone fabulous this way comes… 

 

Chris and Darren continued on through the forest.  After a while, they came to a small clearing.  “Let’s sit on that fallen tree and have a little snack,” Darren suggested.

 

Chris gladly complied.  Darren opened up the sheepskin satchel that Froggy had given him and pulled out a huge apple, a piece of cheese, and a flask of water.  He took a bite of the apple, then handed it to Chris.

 

“Thanks…  This has got to be the best apple I’ve ever tasted!”

 

“I know,” Darren mumbled around a mouthful of cheese.  “And this cheddar is to die for,” he added, passing the wedge to Chris.

 

“Mmmmm.”

 

Chris and Darren traded back and forth, making happy little noises.  They nibbled the apple down to the core, unwilling to leave the tiniest bit of fruit uneaten.  When the cheese was nearly gone, they began taking smaller and smaller bites, each politely wanting to allow the other to finish it off. 

 

Finally the remaining bit of cheese was so laughably tiny that Chris broke it in half and said, “Here – on the count of three…  One, two, three!” and he and Darren simultaneously popped it into their mouths.

 

After taking a drink from the water flask and passing it to Chris, Darren rummaged around in the satchel and produced a large piece of gingerbread.  “Dessert!” he declared triumphantly.

 

“I don’t remember seeing Froggy put that in there.”

 

“That’s ‘cause he didn’t.  I broke it off of Witch Beiste’s house when she wasn’t looking.”

 

“Darren!”

 

“Hey, do you want some or not?”

 

“Oh, definitely.”      

 

They grinned at each other like naughty schoolboys as they devoured the gingerbread.  As they were licking the last of the frosting off of their fingers (since Froggy hadn’t provided any napkins) they heard a clear voice floating across the meadow.

 

I walked across an empty land

I knew the pathway like the back of my hand

I felt the earth beneath my feet

Sat by the river and it made me complete

 

A beautiful buckskin horse stepped into the clearing.  Her golden body matched the gold pants of her rider, and her jet-black mane, tail, and stockings matched his shirt, gloves, and boots.  “Oh my god,” Chris breathed.  “That’s got to be Kurt Hummelocks.”

 

Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?

I’m getting old and I need someone to rely on

So tell me when you’re gonna let me in

I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

 

“God – your voice is gorgeous,” Darren murmured appreciatively.  “This is so much better than the version I did.”

 

“Uh…reality-check, Dare.  That’s not me.”

 

“Yeah, well, he sure sounds a hell of a lot like you,” Darren whispered.  “And looks like you, too,” he added, pulling Chris down behind the fallen tree on which they’d been sitting.  “Let’s hide.  He might freak out if he sees his double.”

 

I came across a fallen tree

I felt the branches of it looking at me

Is this the place we used to love?

Is this the place that I’ve been dreaming of?

 

Chris and Darren crouched down even lower, wondering whether Kurt was singing about this particular fallen tree, and whether he sensed their eyes looking at him through the branches.

 

Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?

I’m getting old and I need someone to rely on

So tell me when you’re gonna let me in

I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

 

As he sang, Kurt rode around the edge of the clearing, stopping in front of a tree that sported a “Wanted” poster like the one Chris and Darren had seen earlier.  Slipping gracefully off of his horse, Kurt ripped the paper down and crumpled it up. 

 

And if you have a minute why don’t we go

Talk about it somewhere only we know

This could be the end of everything

So why don’t we go

Somewhere only we know?

Somewhere only we know…

 

“Well, Rum Chocolate Soufflé,” Kurt said to his horse, “it looks like they just keep putting these things up faster than I can take them down.  I wish there was somewhere only we know, so we could go there to take a day off and relax for a change.  But I guess we’ll just have to keep moving.”

 

While Kurt’s attention was focused on his horse, Chris and Darren took the opportunity to get a better look at him.  Chris recognized the black button-down shirt and skin-tight gold pants as the outfit he’d worn to perform “Not the Boy Next Door,” with the addition of taller black boots.  Kurt seemed to be wearing the fingerless leather gloves that Chris remembered from his adventures on the scaffolding during “I’m the Greatest Star,” and a pair of sai swords hung from his belt.  It was a surprisingly good look on him.   

 

It was obvious that Kurt was a couple of years younger than Chris.  He held himself differently, as well.  There was something in the determined set of his jaw that made Chris’s heart ache.

 

Suddenly a piercing wolf howl echoed through the forest.  Kurt grabbed his swords.  “Get ready, Rum Chocolate Soufflé, we’re about to have company.”

 

Chris and Darren watched in horror as half a dozen wolves entered the clearing.  They were four times the size of normal wolves, and their eyes glowed red.  “Oh my god,” Chris mouthed to Darren, hardly daring to breathe.  “Why did I write them to be so BIG?”

 

“I don’t know,” Darren mouthed back.  “Those things are fucking terrifying!”

 

Kurt showed no sign of fear as he faced the largest of the wolves.  “Well, if it isn’t Rick the Stick.”

 

“Rick the Stick?” Darren mouthed.  “Who names a wolf Rick the Stick?!?”

 

“Not me,” Chris mouthed back.

 

“Kurt Hummelocks,” the wolf growled.  “I’m surprised you’re not chained down in some Red Riding Hood Kingdom jail cell yet.”

 

“I’m surprised you haven’t been turned into a rug for a child’s nursery yet.  But I guess you and your big bad wolf pack are too mangy for anyone to want your pelts.”

 

With a snarl, one of the wolves leapt forward.  Kurt twirled his sai swords, leaving two deep gashes in the wolf’s muzzle.  Another wolf tried to pounce on Rum Chocolate Soufflé, but she kicked him hard with her rear hooves, flinging him against one of the nearby trees. 

 

The young man and his horse were a perfect team, deftly holding off the circling wolves.  They seemed to be at a stalemate, with the wolves afraid to come within reach of the flashing hooves or deadly sai swords, but unwilling to back off.  Unfortunately, as Kurt turned to keep Rick the Stick in view, he caught the heel of his boot on an exposed tree root, and toppled to the ground.

 

The enormous wolf lunged forward, going in for the kill.  Without stopping to think, Darren leapt up, brandishing a branch from the fallen tree.  “Hey, Rick!  Look – a stick!  Fetch!” he yelled, throwing it as hard as he could.

 

Instinctively, the huge wolf turned to dash in pursuit of the stick, bounding three strides before the laughter of the rest of his pack brought him up short.  Kurt took the opportunity to regain his feet and lash out at the nearest wolves with his swords.  Their laughter quickly turned to howls of pain.

 

“Retreat!” Rick the Stick ordered his pack.  “No snack is worth this much trouble.”

 

As the wolves vanished into the forest, Kurt brushed himself off and then stroked his horse.  “Good girl, Rum Chocolate Soufflé,” he said.  Then, turning toward Chris and Darren’s hiding place he called, “It’s safe to come out, now.”

 

Chris was hesitant to reveal himself, but Darren whispered, “He’s younger than you are, and I bet he hasn’t looked in a mirror in years.  I doubt he’ll recognize you.”

 

Chris and Darren emerged from behind the tree and cautiously approached Kurt.  “That was awesome,” Darren gushed.

 

Kurt was not amused by his enthusiasm.  “Yes, well, I do what I have to do to survive.”  Then, voice softening a little, he added, “Thanks for the help.”

 

“Any time, man,” Darren replied with a grin. 

 

Looking back and forth curiously between Darren and Chris, Kurt asked, “Have we met before?  The two of you seem familiar.”

 

With a quick elbow to Darren’s ribs to make sure he didn’t blurt out anything inappropriate, Chris said, “Nope.  I’m sure we’d remember if we’d ever met the infamous Kurt Hummelocks.”

 

Kurt rolled his eyes.  “Infamous, notorious, legendary, scandalous – you can’t believe everything you hear.”  With one fluid motion, he was back on his horse. 

 

“Here, take this – in case you need it,” Kurt said, pulling a silver dagger from his boot and tossing it on the ground. 

 

“Now, get as far away from here as possible; those wolves will be back sooner than you expect.”  And with those final words, Kurt and Rum Chocolate Soufflé galloped off into the forest.

 

Darren picked the dagger up and handed it to Chris.  “Told you Kurt was a bad-ass.”

 

End Notes:

So, what do you think of Kurt Hummelocks?  The more positive feedback I get, the faster I’ll write.  J   

Chapter 5 - The Tallest - No, Make That the Cleanest - Tower by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which Darren is naughty…

 

The long summer evening was well underway by the time Chris and Darren emerged from the Dwarf Forests and spotted a tall tower in the distance.  “Rapunzel’s tower!” Darren cried.

 

“Or whoever Rapunzel has become in this weird, Glee-infested version of my book,” Chris muttered.

 

“Oh, come on,” Darren said.  “You cannot tell me that you weren’t impressed by Kurt Hummelocks.  Did you get a look at the way he moved?  That has got to be the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.”

 

Chris could feel a blush creeping up his cheeks.  “I don’t feel qualified to judge the hotness of Kurt Hummelocks…  But I will freely admit that his sai sword skills are a million times better than mine.”

 

Darren grinned at him.  “Did you notice that he said we both looked familiar?  Blaine must be here, too.”

 

“If he is, I can’t imagine that he’d recognize you.”

 

“Yeah, I guess I am a lot older than Blaine.”

 

“Yes, yes, Darren, you’re so much older, and wiser, and more mature.”

 

Darren stuck his tongue out.

 

“And so much scruffier and more homeless-looking, too.”

 

“Hey!  You love my scruff,” Darren pouted, grabbing Chris and rubbing his stubbly cheek against the younger man’s neck.

 

“Ow!  Get off of me, you animal!” Chris laughed.  “You’re scratching up my delicate skin.”

 

Darren pulled back and looked at the faint redness on Chris’s neck.  “Ooh, we can’t have that.  Want me to kiss it and make it better?”

 

“No, you goofball,” Chris said, giving Darren’s shoulder a playful shove.  “Come on, let’s go check out that tower.”

 

 

By the time they reached the tower, the sun was low on the horizon, casting shadows that seemed to stretch on forever.  Darren gazed up at the impressive structure.  “Is this the part where I scale the tower?”

 

“No, Dare.  This is the part where we walk around to the other side, find the door, and climb up the stairs that Rapunzel had installed after she became queen.”

 

Darren looked disappointed, but followed Chris around base of the tower.  Sure enough, there was a doorway on the far side.  Above the door hung a large, golden plaque:

 

WELCOME TO QUEEN EMMAPUNZEL’S TOWER

 

Posted on the door below was a neatly lettered sign.

 

All visitors to the tower will kindly follow these instructions:

  1. Please wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water at the well.
  2. Remove your filthy shoes or boots and leave them outside.  Clean slippers have been provided for you in the entryway.
  3. Please leave everything exactly as you find it.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

“Wow.  Emmapunzel sounds like Ms. Pillsbury on steroids.”

 

“Or off her meds.”

 

Chris and Darren dutifully made their way to the nearby well, where they found a basket of little pink soaps, shaped and scented like roses.  After washing their hands (“The sign said ‘thoroughly,’ Dare,” Chris reminded him) they returned to the tower and pushed open the door.  Immediately inside was an enormous rack on which sat sheepskin slippers of all sizes.  Chris and Darren sat down on the bench, removed their shoes (which, although not strictly clean, certainly did not deserve to be called ‘filthy’) and placed them outside.  Then they each put on a pair of slippers.

 

“Ooh, these are so comfortable.  I need to get a pair when we get home,” Darren sighed.

 

“Speaking of which, tomorrow we need to start figuring out how we’re going to do that.  But for now, let’s shut the door and climb to the top of this tower, so we can get some sleep tonight without worrying about being eaten by wolves.”

 

The spiral staircase seemed to go on and on, higher and higher, until Chris and Darren were both feeling dizzy and a little bit out of breath.  Finally, they reached the large, circular room in which Rapunzel (well, in this world, Emmapunzel) had been imprisoned.  Chris looked around, bemused.

 

“I distinctly remember writing that this room was completely empty, except for some hay and bird droppings littering the floor.”

 

“Well, let’s be glad that Emmapunzel changed things up a bit.”

 

The room was not only free from hay and bird droppings; it was immaculately clean. On one side, there was a large, old-fashioned desk with a wooden bench in front of it.  On the other side was a neatly made bed, with a small bedside table on which sat a vase of fresh flowers.

 

“Yeah, I guess it’s good that we don’t have to sleep on the floor,” Chris agreed, sitting down on the edge of the bed.  “I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.”

 

“Me too.  I like to think I’m in decent shape, but we must have walked over 20 miles today.  I’m not used to going to bed so early, but the sun’s already gone down, and it’ll be completely dark soon, anyway.”

 

Chris and Darren pulled off their jeans and crawled under the covers.  The bed was wonderfully comfortable, and in a matter of moments they were both fast asleep.

 

 

Chris awoke first the next morning, roused by the sound of birdsong and the early light coming in through the window.  Moving carefully, so as not to disturb his sleeping friend, he got out of bed and stretched.  He was pleased to note that he didn’t feel at all sore after the previous day’s exertions.  In fact, he felt more refreshed than he had in a long time.

 

Taking the journal out of the sheepskin satchel, Chris went over to the desk and sat down to read.  He was curious to see how much had remained as he had written it, and what had changed.

 

Soon, he heard Darren stirring, and a minute later his friend plopped down beside him on the bench.  “What does it say?”

 

“Well, so far it’s mostly the same as I remember.  Although the Traveling Tradesman has apparently become Stoner Brett, and Hagatha is Hag Terri.”

 

“Hag Terri?”

 

“I’m assuming that’s Terri Schuester, Will’s ex-wife.”

 

“Uh huh.  And what about the Wishing Spell?  Can we still use it to get back to our world?  And do we need to find the exact same items?”

 

“I was just getting to that part.  Here, I’ll read it out loud.”

 

“Glass that housed a lonely soul, up ‘til midnight’s final toll;

A saber from the deepest sea, meant for a maiden’s mortality;

The bark of a basket held in fright while running from a bark with bite;

A stony crown that’s made to share, found deep within a savage lair;

A needle that pierced the lovely skin of a princess with beauty found within;

A wavy lock of ginger rope that once was freedom’s only hope;

Glittering jewels whose value increased after preserving the false deceased;

Teardrops of a Warbler true, who is feeling rather blue.”

 

“Well, I certainly don’t know your book inside and out the way you do, but I think I can remember most of those.  The “lonely soul” is supposed to be the sole of Cinderella’s foot, right?  So we need to get one of her glass slippers.  And the basket we’re looking for belongs to Little Red Riding Hood.  Then there’s the needle on the spindle from Sleeping Beauty’s spinning wheel, and the jewels from Snow White’s coffin.  What am I forgetting?”

 

“Well, the stony crown is one I made up.  It belongs jointly to the Troll King and the Goblin King.”

 

“Oh, yeah, I remember that.”

 

“But the others are all changed slightly.  The ‘saber from the deepest sea’ is supposed to be the knife that the Sea Witch gave to the Little Mermaid to kill the prince.  But this version says it’s for a maiden’s mortality instead of a groom’s, so I’m not sure what that means.  And then the ‘wavy lock of golden rope’ I wrote about is now a lock of ginger rope.  But I guess that makes sense, since Rapunzel is now Emmapunzel.  So we’ll still need a lock of her hair.”

 

“Hey!  Didn’t the twins find that right here, between the floorboards?” Darren asked excitedly.  He hopped off the bench and started searching the floor for stray hairs.

 

“Have you seen how freakishly clean this place is?  There’s no way you’re going to find loose hair lying around, Darren.”

 

Darren continued crawling around on the floor, peering into every nook and cranny, but eventually he had to admit that Chris was right.  “Damn.  I thought that was going to be an easy one.  Oh well.  What about the last clue?”

 

“Well, it was supposed to be ‘teardrops of a maiden fairy,’ and now it’s ‘teardrops of a Warbler.’  God only knows where we’re supposed to find a Warbler around here.  Or how we’re supposed to make him cry…”

 

“Hey, I’m a Warbler!”

 

“No, you’re not, Dare.  Blaine is.  At least, in our world he is.  Who knows whether he is one here…”

 

Darren was about to argue, but they were interrupted by the arrival of a woman who could only be Emmapunzel.  She looked remarkably like Emma Pillsbury, with the exception of her hair, which was piled high on her head, and still tumbled down her back nearly to the floor.  She was carrying a vase of fresh flowers, which she nearly dropped when she spotted Chris and Darren.

 

“Oh!  You startled me.  I didn’t realize there was anyone here.”

 

“Sorry.  We needed a safe place to spend the night.  I hope it’s okay that we slept here.”

 

Emmapunzel’s eyes widened, darting over to the unmade bed.  Chris quickly tried to reassure her.  “We’ll make sure to put everything back exactly as we found it before we leave,” he promised.  

 

“Well, I suppose that’s okay,” she said, sounding uncertain.

 

While Emmapunzel’s attention was on Chris, Darren had inched around behind her.  Chris looked on in shocked amazement as he saw Darren pop something out of his mouth and stick it in Emmapunzel’s hair.

 

Sidling casually back over next to Chris, Darren said innocently, “You seem to have a wad of chewing gum stuck in your hair.  Would you like me to cut it out for you?”

 

Emmapunzel couldn’t have been more horrified if he’d announced that there was a spider the size of a dinner plate in her hair, about to sink it’s giant, venomous fangs into her neck.  She whirled around, trying to see the back of her head.  “Get it off!  Get it off!  Get it off!” she shrieked.

 

Darren quickly grabbed the Swiss Army knife (and where the hell had Froggy gotten that? he wondered) and whipped out the tiny scissors.  “Hold still, I’ll have the gum out of your hair in no time.”

 

Emmapunzel did her best to stand still, but she was trembling violently.  Darren quickly snipped off a lock of her hair and held it up.  “Look, I got it,” he said reassuringly.

 

Emmapunzel gazed in revulsion at the wad of pink gum stuck to the hair in Darren’s hand.  “I need to go home and bathe,” she gasped, and quickly disappeared down the stairs.

 

“That was cruel,” Chris chided.

 

“But effective.”

 

“I’ll give you that.”

 

“Come on,” Darren urged, buoyed by his success.  “One Wishing Spell item down, seven more to go.  Let’s get a move on.”

 

End Notes:

 

As a card-carrying germaphobe, I found writing this chapter to be equal parts fun and revolting.  (Although, if I had to have someone’s disgusting, saliva covered gum in my hair, I guess I’d pick Darren’s.)  Hope I didn’t squick any of you out.  As always, please review.  J

 

Chapter 6 - The (not so) Charming Kingdom by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which funny things happen on the way to the palace…

 

Once they had eaten breakfast, tidied up the tower, and refilled their water flasks at the well, Chris and Darren headed out along the path to the Charming Kingdom.  By midmorning they came to a stone bridge spanning a stream.  The moment their feet touched the first stone, there was a terrible snarling noise, and something – or someone – clambered up from under the bridge and blocked their path.

 

Chris clutched onto Darren, trying not to laugh.  “Oh my god, this is actually perfect – Sandy Ryerson is the bridge troll!”

 

“Sandy Ryerson?”

 

“Yeah – creepy, drug-dealing pedophile.  Don’t you remember him from seasons 1 and 2?”

 

“Vaguely.”

 

The bridge troll waved his arms menacingly and shouted, “No one crosses my bridge without answering a riddle!”

 

“No problem.  We’re good at riddles.”

 

“Well, you’d better be.  Because you only get one guess.  And if you’re wrong, I’m going to eat you,” he growled, eyes raking up and down their bodies in a disturbingly suggestive manner.

 

Chris inched closer to Darren and whispered, “Don’t blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.  We only have one shot, so we have to think this through.  Okay?”

 

Darren nodded.

 

With a leer, the bridge troll intoned, “I have a stiff shaft.  My tip penetrates.  I come with a quiver.  What am I?”

 

“Oh my god,” Darren blurted out.  “You are such a pervert!  What are you doing in a world of children’s stories?”

 

“You think you know the answer to my riddle, Mr. Dirty Mind?” the bridge troll sneered.  “Go ahead and say it, then.”

 

“Wait!” Chris cried, slapping a hand over Darren’s mouth.  “Let me think…  A stiff shaft…  a tip that penetrates…  comes with a quiver…  I’ve got it – an arrow!”

 

“Hmph!  You’re no fun,” the bridge troll groused.  But he did stand aside to let them pass.

 

Chris and Darren skipped across the bridge, knocking their shoulders together and laughing.  “Who’s the pervert now?” Chris teased.  “I see where your mind went.”

 

“Hey!  That guy was so skeevy, you know that’s what he was aiming at.”

 

“Yeah, well, at least I kept my mind out of the gutter long enough to get us across the bridge.”

 

“Oh, you act all pure and innocent, but I know better, Colfer.  You were thinking exactly the same thing I was.”

 

Chris just raised an eyebrow.  They continued along the path in companionable silence, punctuated by occasional bursts of laughter whenever one happened to give the other a knowing look.

 

 

The path wound through woods and fields, with the scenery becoming more and more lovely the further Chris and Darren traveled into the Charming Kingdom.  They passed the time alternately singing, chatting, or simply looking around in wonder.  They walked on and on all day, stopping only to eat more of the food that Froggy had given them.  By the time it started to get dark, they were both worn out.

 

“Why did I have to make everything here so big?” Chris grumbled.  “The wolves are too big, the Charming Kingdom is too big, even Froggy was too big.  Why couldn’t I just have put Cinderella’s palace an easy, two-hour stroll away from Rapunzel’s tower?”

 

Darren sighed.  “Let’s try to find a safe place to sleep,” he suggested.  “I’m beat.”

 

They left the path and headed for a small cluster of trees.  In the center of the trees they found a lovely little meadow, dotted with wildflowers.  They lay down on their backs on the thick, soft grass, wrapping themselves up in the wool blanket Froggy had provided, and pillowing their heads on the sheepskin satchel.

 

Chris closed his eyes, overwhelmed by fatigue.  He was almost asleep when he heard Darren’s voice murmuring his name.

 

“Chris?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“I’m sorry I dragged you into this… but I’m really glad you’re here with me.”

 

Chris turned to face Darren and snuggled a little closer, wrapping an arm around his friend.  “I’m glad you’re here with me, too,” he said, just before he drifted off to sleep.

 

 

Chris and Darren awoke to a chorus of birds greeting the early morning light that filtered through the leaves of the trees.  There was a bit of a chill in the air, and neither man was eager to leave the warmth of their blanket. 

 

“How much further do you think we’ll have to walk before we get to Cinderella’s palace?” Darren asked, yawning.

 

“I’m not sure.  In my book, I had the twins run into a guy named Smithers who was bringing firewood to the palace, and he gave them a ride in his cart.  With any luck, maybe we’ll meet up with him this morning.”

 

“That would be great.  I’ve always enjoyed hiking, but if we have to do another sixteen-hour day I think my legs are going to fall off.”

 

“Awww, are your poor little hobbit-legs getting worn out trying to keep up with me?”

 

“Shut up, you freak of nature!” Darren cried, tickling him.  “What kind of pact did you have to make with the devil to get to grow six inches after you turned twenty?”

 

“Oh, you do not want to start a tickle fight with me, mister!” Chris warned, sneaking his cold fingers under Darren’s shirt in retaliation.  “Anyway, it wasn’t the devil.  My army of fourteen-year-old fangirls claims it was the Puberty Fairy.”

 

Darren tried to respond with a witty comeback, but he was laughing too hard to get the words out.  Chris kept tickling him mercilessly until he finally gasped out, “Stop… stop… you’re going to make me pee myself!”

 

Chris relented, with a “Fine, you big baby.  But I’m just letting you off the hook this time because this is our only blanket.  If you ever start another tickle battle, you’re going down.”

 

Darren regained his breath and walked off to relieve himself behind a tree, while Chris got their breakfast ready.  When Darren returned, Chris told him, “We’re running low on food.  We’ll have to stop at a market once we reach civilization.”

 

“Or what passes for it here.”

 

“I put Cinderella’s palace in a good-sized town.  I just hope it’s still there.”

 

“Well, you said that so far only the characters seem to have changed, not the setting.  Which I have to say I’m glad about.  I think it would be awfully disturbing if we suddenly wandered into Lima, Ohio.”

 

“Although it would probably be a lot easier to get home.  And at least we’d have cell service.”

 

“You know, I haven’t missed my phone at all since we’ve been here.  It’s weird, but I’m kind of enjoying having a little vacation from technology.”

 

“Me too.  I’m always working on so many things at once; I guess it’s good for me to be forced to take a break.”

 

As Chris and Darren finished up their breakfast, they heard the sound of distant hoof beats.  Returning to the path, they saw a cart approaching.  It was pulled by a gray horse, and driven by the strangest looking man Chris had ever seen.  His skin was crayon-yellow, and he had an odd, two-dimensional appearance.

 

“That doesn’t look like anyone from my book… or anyone from Glee,” Chris said, staring in confusion as the man drew nearer.

 

Darren’s mouth dropped open in shocked recognition.  “It’s Smithers.”

 

“But why is he so weird looking?  I just wrote him as an ordinary man.”

 

“It’s Smithers,” Darren repeated.  “You know, from The Simpsons.  Mr. Burns’ assistant, Smithers.”

 

“Oh my god.  Are you telling me he’s a cartoon character?”

 

“Well, he sure looks like one.  Come on, let’s flag him down and get a ride to the palace.”

 

End Notes:

 

I hope you don’t mind that I threw in a non-Glee character.  He plays such a minor role in the story that I didn’t want to waste anyone good on him, and I couldn’t resist the name connection.  And what did you think of Sandy Ryerson as the bridge troll?  Were you able to figure out his riddle, or did your mind leap straight into the gutter like Darren’s?  Stay tuned for the appearance of some more significant characters once they reach the palace…  

 

Chapter 7 - Having a Ball by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which we meet some old friends, and there is lots of gratuitous pointing…  

 

Chris and Darren stood in the center of a bustling market town, gazing about in awe.  During the cart-ride with Smithers (whom Chris could barely look at without feeling like his head was going to explode) they had learned that Quinderella would be hosting a royal ball at the palace that evening.  All around them, people were buzzing with excitement at the prospect.

 

“Does everyone here look kind of familiar to you?” Darren asked.

 

“Yeah.  I couldn’t name any of them, but I think I recognize a bunch of extras from Glee.”  

 

“This whole experience is so trippy.  I mean, how does this mash-up thing work?  Do you think all the main characters on Glee ended up as main characters in your book, and the extras are the minor characters?  Or do you think the characters got fused together based on looks, or personality, or names, or what?”

 

“I can’t find any rhyme or reason to it.  Coach Beiste is nothing like the witch I wrote about, and Rapunzel didn’t even show up in the tower in my book.  Sandy Ryerson made a perfect bridge troll, so I guess that one was based on personality…  And Rick the Stick is a bully, like the Big Bad Wolf.”

 

“Well, I thought Kurt was flawless as Goldilocks.  Not the original folk-tale little girl, but your version of the kick-ass, sword-wielding outlaw.  Kurt Hummelocks is totally awesome.”

 

“You got a little crush there, Dare?”

 

“Hey, don’t be jealous.  You’re the only one I really love,” Darren teased back, making kissy faces at Chris.

 

Chris rolled his eyes.  “And now we’re going to meet Quinderella.  I guess that’s kind of appropriate.  I mean, the name works.  And in my book Cinderella is pregnant, and Quinn is the only member of Glee Club who’s been pregnant….  I wonder who King Charming is going to be.  Do you think it’ll be Finn, since he was her boyfriend during the whole pregnancy thing?”

 

“No.  I bet Finn is Froggy.  That would explain why he’s so tall.”

 

“Yeah, that makes sense.  Oh, god.  I’m afraid Puck is going to be King Charming.”

 

Darren laughed.  “Would that be irony?  Or satire?”

 

“Neither.  It would just be wrong.  But I’ll bet that’s what happens.”

 

“Well, we’ll find out tonight.  Come on.  Let’s stock up on supplies while we have the chance.”

 

Chris and Darren spent a delightful afternoon wandering around the marketplace, marveling over all of the beautiful handcrafted items for sale.  Chris had to put his foot down and insist that they spend the gold coins Froggy had given them on food only, rather than buying souvenirs for all of their friends back home.  As much as Darren begged, and as tempting as a shopping spree was, Chris knew that they’d need to budget wisely if they didn’t want to end up starving before they completed the Wishing Spell.

 

As evening approached, they noticed a long line of elegant carriages heading toward the palace.  “Looks like the ball is about to begin,” Chris said.  “Let’s go.”

 

“How are we going to get in without invitations?”

 

“Well, in my book, after the snooty guard tried to turn the twins away, Sir Lampton let them in.  We’ll just have to hope that he lets us in, too.”

 

“He’s the head guard, right?  I wonder if he’ll be someone we know from Glee.”

 

“Only one way to find out.  Come on.”

 

Up close, the palace was even more impressive than Chris had envisioned.  He and Darren made their way up an endless flight of steps leading to the entryway.  A guard stood at the top, collecting invitations.

 

“Uh oh, it’s Principal Figgins,” Darren warned.  “I hope we don’t get detention for trying to sneak in.”

 

Chris snorted, scanning the crowd for any other familiar faces.  Just as they reached the top of the stairs, he spotted one a little way off.  “Look, there’s Burt,” he whispered to Darren.  “He must be Sir Lampton.”

 

“Invitations, please,” Figgins said, holding out his hand.

 

“We’re here with Burt,” Chris told him.

 

“You know Sir Burt?” Figgins asked dubiously.

 

“Yeah, he’s my uncle,” Chris said, praying that this would work.

 

Figgins gave their t-shirts and jeans a scathing look.  “I don’t think so.  If you don’t have invitations, you need to step aside.  You’re holding up the line.”

 

“Burt!” Darren cried out loudly, jumping up and down and waving his arms wildly to attract the head guard’s attention.  “Hey, Burt!  Tell him we’re with you!”

 

Sir Burt stared in their direction with an odd expression on his face, as though he knew them from somewhere, but couldn’t quite remember where.  “It’s all right, Figgins,” he called out.  “Those young men are with me.  Send them through.”

 

Chris and Darren let out sighs of relief, quickly making their way through the crowd to where Sir Burt stood waiting.

 

“You seem to know my name, but I can’t recall where we’ve met,” the head guard said, looking at them curiously.

 

“I’m sorry, we haven’t met properly, but we’ve heard so many wonderful things about you.  We’ve never been to the Charming Kingdom before, and we just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to attend a royal ball.  I hope that’s okay,” Chris replied nervously.

 

“I understand.  I would have tried to pull the same stunt at your age.  Enjoy the ball, and afterwards I’ll give you a tour of the palace.” 

 

“Thank you so much!”

 

With a bow, Sir Burt left them and returned to his post.  Chris and Darren followed the other guests to a spectacular ballroom where a trio of musicians was playing a lively waltz. 

 

Darren held out his hand.  “May I have this dance?”

 

Chris glanced around the ballroom.  Most of the couples on the dance floor appeared to be straight, but he did see a few men dancing with men, and women dancing with women, so he figured that he and Darren wouldn’t cause any more of a scene by dancing together than they already were just by standing there in their outlandish clothes.

 

“Alright.  But only if you let me lead.”

 

“Of course.”

 

One dance turned into half a dozen, as Chris and Darren got caught up in the excitement, whirling around the floor in the midst of all of the elegantly dressed couples.  Chris was just about to suggest that they take a break to find something to drink, when the blaring of a trumpet caused a hush to fall over the assembled crowd.

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the man with the trumpet announced, “please give a warm welcome to Their Royal Majesties, King Charming and Queen Quinderella!”

 

The guests cheered and burst into applause as the royal couple entered the ballroom, slowly making their way down the curving grand staircase.  Chris gave Darren a wry look when he realized that his prediction had been correct.  Puck was, indeed, King Charming, and Quinn was very, very pregnant.

 

King Charming led Queen Quinderella to an ornate throne and helped her to sit down.  “I have prepared a song for my beautiful wife,” he proclaimed.

 

The musicians struck up a tune, and Puck began to sing:

 

Having my baby

What a lovely way of saying

How much you love me

Having my baby

What a lovely way of saying

What you're thinking of me

 

“Oh my god,” Chris whispered to Darren.  “I thought nothing could be cheesier than the version of this song that Ryan made Cory do.  But I was so, so wrong.”

 

I can see it

Your face is glowing

I can see it in your eyes

I'm happy knowin'

That you're having my baby

You're the woman I love

 And I love what it's doin' to you

Having my baby

You're a woman in love

And I love what's goin' through you

 

Darren was grinning from ear to ear.  He was a huge fan of cheesiness.

 

The need inside you

I see it showin'

Oh, the seed inside you

Baby, do you feel it growin'

Are you happy in knowin'

That you're having my baby

 

“Stop smiling,” Chris hissed.  “You’re going to make me laugh, and then we’re going to be thrown in the dungeon for treason.”

 

But Darren’s smile just grew wider as Quinderella chimed in with:

 

I'm a woman in love

And I love what it's doin' to me

 

Having my baby (Puck sang in counterpoint)

 

I'm a woman in love and I love

What's goin' through me

 

By this point Chris was biting the inside of his cheek, trying to keep a straight face.  It was all he could do to hold in his mirth as Puck delivered his last lines with the sappiest look of adoration Chris had ever seen on his face.

 

You're the woman I love

 And I love what it's doin' to you

You’re having our baby

 

The tumultuous applause drowned out Chris’s laughter, and he hid his face against Darren’s neck so that no one would see his expression.

 

“The queen is tired, and must rest,” King Puck Charming announced, once the crowd had quieted.  “But please, continue to enjoy the ball.”  With that, he helped Quinderella to her feet, and began the laborious process of assisting her back up the grand staircase.

 

“Would you like to dance some more, or should we find Burt and see if we can get that tour of the palace he promised us?” Darren asked.

 

“Let’s find Burt.  With any luck, he’ll show us where Quinderella’s glass slippers are kept.”

 

Sir Burt wasn’t difficult to locate, as he was stationed right outside the ballroom door.  He was happy to provide Chris and Darren with a palace tour.  He began by escorting them down a long hallway, the walls of which were hung with the portraits of previous monarchs of the Charming Kingdom.  Sir Burt named each one as they passed.

 

As they neared the end of the hallway, Sir Burt pointed out a particularly large, imposing portrait.  “This is Queen Quinderella’s late father-in-law.  Old King Charming never married, but he loved children, so he adopted four sons.  Here are the portraits of the four princes when they were younger.  As you know, Prince Puck Charming married Quinderella, and took over as monarch of the Charming Kingdom when his father passed away.  Prince Sam Charming married Snow White, and now rules the Northern Kingdom with her.  Prince Mike Charming married Sleeping Tina, and they govern the Sleeping Kingdom.  Sadly, the youngest son, Prince Finn Charming, disappeared years ago, and no one has seen him since.”

 

Chris gave Darren a significant look.  Now they were both sure that Froggy was Finn.

 

Sir Burt continued with his tour, eventually leading them to a pair of black double doors flanked by guards.  Above the doors was a stone arch with a sign that read Queen Quinderella’s Royal Room of Display.  Sir Burt greeted the guards, who bowed respectfully and stood aside to let him pass into the room.  Chris and Darren followed eagerly.

 

Inside, the room was filled with mementos of the magical evening on which Quinderella had met Prince Charming.  Chris immediately spotted the glass slippers, which occupied a pedestal in the center of the room.  They were made from pure crystal glass, and decorated with diamonds.  Sir Burt continued his tour around the room, describing the significance of each of the objects, but Chris’s eyes never left the glass slippers.  How would he and Darren be able to take one without getting caught?

 

Suddenly a soldier burst into the room.  He was wearing silver armor that gleamed in the light of the oil lamps, and he carried a shield with a large, red apple painted on it.  “Sir Burt!” he cried, pointing dramatically at the head guard.  “I am Sir Cooper, commander of Queen Snow White’s Royal Guard.  I come bearing news of the gravest importance!”

 

“Yes?” Sir Burt responded, seeming to be a little taken aback by the theatrical way in which Sir Cooper was waving his arms about.

 

“It’s the Evil Queen!  She’s escaped from our dungeon!” Sir Cooper cried, pointing at the floor as though he was referring to a dungeon directly under their feet.  “And the Magic Mirror has disappeared from her former chambers!” he added ominously, pointing for emphasis at a perfectly ordinary mirror hanging on the wall.

 

While Sir Burt’s attention was distracted by Sir Cooper’s wild gesticulations, Darren took the opportunity to surreptitiously slide one of Quinderella’s glass slippers into his satchel.  Chris caught him out of the corner of his eye and winked.

 

“Until the Evil Queen has been apprehended, no one is safe!” Sir Cooper declared, giving an especially menacing point of his finger toward each of them in turn.

 

“I must go and inform the king and queen at once,” Sir Burt said, remarkably calmly considering the ever more frenzied pointing and shouting of Sir Cooper.  “Please excuse me.”

 

Chris and Darren followed Sir Burt out of the room, and then quickly left the palace.  They hoped to be far away before anyone noticed that one of Quinderella’s glass slippers was missing.

 

End Notes:

 

Thoughts?  Feelings?  Wishes for upcoming chapters?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

Chapter 8 - Over the Wall by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which Chris and Darren finally run into someone we’ve been waiting to meet…

 

Chris and Darren hurried away from the palace, not wanting to wait around for their theft to be discovered.

 

“Wow,” Chris said.  “You’re getting to be quite the felon.  First you vandalize Beiste’s house, then you commit assault with a disgusting weapon on Emmapunzel, and now you’ve stolen one of Quinderella’s glass slippers.  I hate to think what you’re going to try next.”

 

“Admit it – you think my bad-boy side is kind of hot.”

 

“Well, you did have me drooling over the gingerbread, and this diamond encrusted shoe is undeniably fabulous, but frankly I think your gum-in-the-hair trick was revolting.”

 

“Hey  - I’ve gotten two of the Wishing Spell items so far.  How many have you gotten?”

 

“Considering that I’m holding the satchel right now, I’d say that I’ve got two of them.”

 

Darren gave Chris a playful shove.  “Did you get as big of a kick out of Cooper as I did?” he asked.

 

“Oh, yeah.  I almost cracked up with the way he kept pointing dramatically.”

 

“Would you be shocked if I admitted that I had a huge crush on Matt Bomer when he guest-starred as Blaine’s brother?”

 

“No, actually I’d be shocked if you didn’t.  You’re the world’s biggest fanboy.  I mean, what guest star have you ever not had a crush on?  Male or female – bet you can’t name a single one.”

 

Darren thought for a long moment.  “Touché.”

 

Chris and Darren continued along the cobblestone road.  Soon they spotted a night driver transporting a cart of pears to the northern part of the Charming Kingdom.  They flagged him down and were able to convince him to give them a ride in exchange for a few gold coins.  The pears were a lumpy bed, but Chris and Darren wrapped themselves in their blanket and made themselves as comfortable as possible.  Eventually, the rocking of the cart lulled them to sleep.

 

Morning found them at the end of the cart driver’s route.  They thanked him and hopped down, heading on foot for the Red Riding Hood Kingdom.

 

They’d been walking in silence for a while when Darren suddenly said, “Ravi Sinha Smith.”

 

“Who?”

 

 “Ravi Sinha Smith, the actor who played the younger version of Blaine.”

 

“What about him?  Is he here?”

 

“No.  But I never had a crush on him.”

 

“What are you babbling about??”

 

“You said I couldn’t name a guest star on Glee who I never had a crush on.”

 

“Darren, he was seven years old!”

 

“So?  He still counts as a guest star,” Darren insisted.  “So I win!”  And he stuck his tongue out at Chris.

 

“Real mature, Dare.  Are you sure you’re not the seven-year-old?”

 

Darren got a gleam in his eye.  “I’ll race you to the wall!” he called over his shoulder, as he took off in a sprint.

 

Chris smiled indulgently, waiting for Darren to realize that he was the only one running.  But Darren was apparently oblivious to this fact, and soon disappeared through the trees.  Chris made his way along at a more leisurely pace, sure he’d catch up once Darren wore himself out and stopped for a rest.

 

Twenty minutes later, Chris was getting worried.  He could see the enormous wall that encircled the Red Riding Hood Kingdom looming up through the trees ahead of him, but there was no sign of Darren.  He quickened his pace, calling out for his friend.

 

Darren’s voice came drifting down from high above.  Craning his neck, Chris caught sight of his friend perched atop the wall, grinning down at him.  “What took you so long, slowpoke?  Come on up.  The view from here is amazing.”

 

Chris looked around, spotting a nearby tree with branches that overhung the thirty-foot-high wall.  He climbed up easily and joined Darren.  The view was, indeed, amazing.  Rolling hills of picturesque farmland stretched on as far as the eye could see, and in the distance, rising up through the clear blue sky to disappear into a few strategically placed clouds, was a gargantuan beanstalk.

 

“Let’s go see Jack,” Darren suggested.

 

“First we’ve got to find a way down from this wall.  There should be a haystack we can jump into around here somewhere.”

 

They looked to the left, then to the right.  No haystacks.

 

Darren got to his feet, reaching down to help Chris up.  “Well, the wall is wide enough for us to walk along the top, as long as we go single file.  Which direction should we head?”

 

“West.  I’d rather have the sun at my back than in my eyes.  And I don’t think it’s safe to switch places, so you’ll have to lead.”

 

“You’re just looking for an excuse to stare at my ass,” Darren teased.

 

Chris smacked the ass in question.  “You’re so full of yourself.”

 

Darren winked at him over his shoulder. 

 

They moved forward carefully, mindful of Humpty Dumpty’s fate.  Soon they spotted a tall, fluffy pile of hay leaning up against the wall.

 

“You jump down first.  Then I’ll toss you the satchel before I follow,” Chris said.

 

“Ooooh, bossy.  I like that,” Darren purred, batting his eyelashes.

 

“You’re awfully flirty this morning.”

 

“I’m always a flirt.  You know that.”

 

This was too true for argument. 

 

Chris watched nervously as Darren leapt down into the haystack.  It was a ten-foot drop, but the landing was soft.  Darren sunk into the pile and emerged laughing.

 

“That was fun!  Come on down.”

 

Chris tossed Darren the satchel and jumped down to join him.  The hay did a good job of cushioning his fall, but it had an annoying tendency to stick to whatever it touched.  By the time Chris and Darren had slid down the side of the haystack to the ground, they were covered in the stuff.

 

Ten minutes later, they had almost managed to pick all of the bits of hay off of each other’s clothes and out of each other’s hair, but they both still felt uncomfortably itchy.

 

“I hope we can find a place to have a bath soon,” Darren said.

 

“With any luck, there’ll be room at the Shoe Inn.  I made sure to put a bathtub there, so the twins wouldn’t get too rank.”

 

Darren held up his arm and sniffed at his pit.  “You’d think I’d start to stink after three days without a shower, but I don’t seem to have any B.O. yet.”  He grabbed Chris, and took a long whiff.  “And you don’t stink either.”

 

“Stop smelling me, Dare!” Chris laughed, pushing him away.

 

“And you haven’t shaved the whole time we’ve been here, but you don’t have even a hint of stubble,” Darren added, rubbing the backs of his fingers along Chris’s smooth jaw line.

 

“Hmm…  You already had a little scruff going when you showed up at my house, but it doesn’t seem to have grown at all….  It’s like our bodies aren’t aging while we’re here….  I hope that means that time’s not passing in our world, and we’ll be able to get back to the exact same point that we left.”

 

“Oh, that would be perfect!  ‘Cause aside from being worried that people back home might be freaking out about us going missing, I’m actually having a fantastic time here.  Maybe we could stay for awhile.”

 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.  The whole thing about time not passing in our world is just a theory, and I could be wrong.  Plus, now that the Evil Queen has escaped from the dungeon, she’s probably going to be searching for the Wishing Spell items, too.  We’ve got to find them before she does.”

 

Darren sighed.  “I guess you’re right.  But you don’t mind if we go see Jack and the Beanstalk first, do you?”

 

“Of course not.  He doesn’t have any of the Wishing Spell items, but he did help the twins get into Red Riding Hood’s castle, so we should definitely pay him a visit.”

 

Chris and Darren set off towards the towering beanstalk.  Along the way they passed a sign that read Sugar Peep Family Farms.  On it was a painting of a girl who looked suspiciously like Sugar Motta, dressed up like Little Bo Peep.  Chris and Darren smiled at each other and kept walking.

 

The beanstalk was further away than it had appeared – an optical illusion created by its outrageous height.  As they finally drew near, Chris and Darren could hear someone singing.

 

Even through the darkest phase

Be it thick or thin

Always someone marches brave

Here beneath my skin

 

The voice held such longing; it almost brought tears to Chris’s eyes.

 

And constant craving

Has always been

 

“It’s Blaine!” Darren whispered excitedly, dragging Chris closer.

 

Maybe a great magnet pulls

All souls to what's true

Or maybe it is life itself

Leads wisdom to its youth

 

Chris and Darren peered out from behind the base of the enormous beanstalk.  Blaine stood with his back to them, chopping wood.  His ax rose and fell with the rhythm of his song.

 

Constant craving

Has always been

 

“He seems so sad.  I just want to run over and throw my arms around him,” Darren whispered.

 

Chris squeezed his hand.  “I know.  But it’s probably not a good idea to startle a man who’s wielding an ax.”

 

Craving

Ah...constant craving

Has always been

Has always been

Has always been

Has always been

Has always been

Has always been

Has always been

Has always been

 

As the last notes of the song faded away, Blaine lay down his ax and collapsed onto the stump he’d been using as a chopping block, dropping his face into his hands.  

 

End Notes:

Sorry about the angst-ridden ending.  I’ll bet you can figure out what (or who) he’s been craving.  And guess what I’m craving – reviews!  Please indulge me.  J

 

Chapter 9 - Unrequited Love by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which someone is quite a diva...

The sight of Blaine, slumped over, with his face in his hands, tugged at Chris’s heartstrings.  He and Darren approached the boy slowly, calling out softly, so as not to startle him.

 

“Blaine?  Are you alright?”

 

Blaine immediately popped up to a standing position, bravely trying to put his game face on.  “I’m fine,” he said, but the dullness in his eyes and the flatness of his voice gave away his feeling of despair.  He barely glanced at Chris and Darren, and showed no sign of recognizing either one of them.

 

“Is there anything we can do to help?” Darren asked compassionately.

 

“No, thank you.  I need to get back to work, so please excuse me.”  Without a backwards look, he gathered up the wood he’d been chopping and carried it into a nearby shack, closing the door firmly behind him.

 

“It breaks my heart to see him hurting like that,” Darren murmured.

 

“I know, Dare.  Me too,” Chris replied, squeezing his hand.  “But if things here are going the way they did in my book, then something should be happening soon to cheer him up.”

 

Before Darren could respond, they heard a song coming from the large manor house behind the shack.

 

“Oh, the day is here, and so am I,

To wistfully dream of birds that fly.

If I had legs I’d see the world and travel away,

But I’m only a harp, and this is where I shall stay.”

 

“That’s the song I wrote for the magic harp,” Chris said excitedly.  “Let’s go see who’s singing.”

 

Approaching the manor, Chris and Darren saw a golden harp standing behind an open window.  As they drew closer, they recognized the figure. 

 

“You’re Unique!” Darren exclaimed.

 

“Of course I am,” the singer replied.  “How many magic harps do you think there are?”

 

“Just you, I guess.”

 

“That’s what I thought.  If you’re looking for Blaine, I think he’s in his workshop.”

 

“We saw him.  He seemed kind of depressed.”

 

“Oh, yes, he’s always like that on Saturdays.  You see, at the end of every week, Queen Red Riding Hood summons him to the castle and proposes to him.  Poor thing, she’s had a crush on him since they were kids.  He hates to disappoint her, and he always brings her a handmade basket to take the sting out of his refusal.  But how could he possibly accept, when his heart belongs to someone else?”

 

“Who?” Darren asked, pretty sure he knew the answer.

 

“He won’t say.  All I know is, something is keeping them apart, and it’s tearing him up inside.”

 

Just then, Blaine emerged from the shack, carrying a basket that he’d obviously made from the pieces of wood he’d been chopping. 

 

“I have an idea,” the magic harp called out to him.  “Why don’t you take these two with you to the castle?  They can be a little buffer between you and Her Royal Highness.”

 

Blaine didn’t seem enthusiastic about the prospect, but he didn’t outright refuse, so Chris and Darren followed him up to the castle.  They introduced themselves, and explained that this was their first time visiting the Red Riding Hood Kingdom.

 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Blaine replied with practiced politeness, but the flatness of his voice and the way in which he’d still barely glanced at them belied his words.

 

When they reached the castle, a guard nodded to them and allowed them to enter.  Blaine led the way down a long passageway.  The walls were decorated with portrait after portrait of Queen Red Riding Hood.  They had obviously been painted over the span of many years, as they showed her at various ages, from little girl to young woman.  Her outfits became more and more elaborate as she got older, with embroidered animal sweaters giving way to elegant gowns, but in each portrait she was wearing one of her trademark hooded red capes.

 

“It’s Rachel!” Darren gasped. 

 

Blaine’s head whipped around sharply, and he stared at Chris and Darren as though he was noticing his companions for the first time.  “Queen Red does not appreciate anyone taking the liberty of using her given name,” he said stiffly.  “And I thought you said you’d never been here before,” he added, sounding suspicious.  “How do you even know Queen Red’s real name?”

 

Chris elbowed Darren hard in the ribs, signaling him to shut up

 

“Oh, is Queen Red Riding Hood named Rachel?” Chris asked, thinking quickly on his feet.  “What a coincidence.  She looks just like a friend of ours with the same name.  Maybe they’re distant cousins.”

 

If Blaine hadn’t been so focused on pining for his absent love, he might have pursued the matter further, but as it was, he let it drop.  He continued to lead them down the corridor, finally pausing in the doorway of the Throne Room.

 

“Blaine!  You’re here!  Come on in!” an excited (and familiar) voice called from across the room.

 

Blaine reluctantly entered the room, with Chris and Darren trailing along behind him.  They spotted Rachel perched elegantly on an ornate throne.  When she caught sight of Chris and Darren, the welcoming smile that had lit her face at the sight of Blaine fell a bit.

 

“I thought it would just be the two of us this afternoon,” she said with a little pout.   “Who have you brought with you?”

 

“This is Chris, and this is Darren.  They’ve never been to the Red Riding Hood Kingdom before, and they wanted to see your castle.

 

“Well, it is quite the tourist attraction,” Rachel acknowledged, preening a bit.  Then, peering at them more closely, she asked, “Have we met before?  You both look kind of familiar.”

 

Stepping quickly forward, to avoid being elbowed or kicked into silence by Chris, Darren gushed, “Oh, no, I’m sure we’ve never met.  Because there’s no way I could possibly have forgotten such beauty.”

 

Wrapping his arm none-too-gently around Darren’s shoulders, Chris hissed in his ear, “Don’t you think you’re laying it on a little thick?” 

 

But the smile blossoming across Rachel’s face (I have to remember to call her Queen Red, Chris reminded himself) showed clearly that Darren’s words had done the trick.  She was now perfectly happy to have additional guests.

 

“Would you like a tour of the castle?  I can summon a servant to show you around.”

 

“Thank you.  That would be great,” Darren enthused.

 

Rachel picked up a little bell and was about to ring it when Blaine stopped her.  “I don’t want to make extra work for any of your servants.  Since I’m the one who brought Chris and Darren here, I’ll give them a tour.”

 

Rachel seemed disappointed that her plan to get Blaine alone had been foiled, but she quickly rallied.  “How kind of you.  But then, you’re always so kind.  I have an idea – let’s all tour the castle together,” she said brightly.

 

The four of them set off, with Rachel happily playing the role of tour guide.  She went into great detail in her description of every portrait of her they passed: from the artist who painted it, to the seamstress who created the outfit she was wearing in it, to what song she’d been singing while she posed. 

 

“I’m sure Blaine has told you all about my incredible singing voice,” she said, lowering her eyes in false modesty.

 

Blaine shot Chris an imploring look, so he quickly agreed.  “Yes, of course.  We’d be so honored if you’d sing for us.”

 

“Well, the acoustics in these corridors are simply atrocious, but once we’re back in the Throne Room, you might be able to persuade me…”

 

The promise of an audience seemed to encourage Rachel to cut the tour short, and she soon led them back to the room where they’d first met.  She sat down on her throne, patting the matching throne next to it with a significant glance at Blaine. 

 

“You know, the Red Riding Hood Kingdom isn’t much of a kingdom without a king,” Rachel said coquettishly.  “Have you given any more thought to what we discussed last week?”

 

“I’m sorry, Red,” Blaine said, looking down at the floor.  “I just can’t.”

 

Rachel didn’t seem at all surprised by his words.  With a determined expression on her face, she rose from her throne and began to belt out a song.

 

Don't tell me not to live,

Just sit and putter,

Life's candy and the sun's

A ball of butter.

Don't bring around a cloud

To rain on my parade!

 

As annoying as he’d sometimes found Rachel’s character, Chris had never had anything but the highest admiration for her voice.  He listened raptly as her song filled the Throne Room. 

 

Don't tell me not to fly--

I've simply got to.

If someone takes a spill,

It's me and not you.

Who told you you're allowed

To rain on my parade!

 

Blaine was obviously embarrassed by the passion behind Rachel’s singing.  He didn’t seem to know where to fix his eyes, glancing helplessly at Chris and Darren, then back at the floor, then out the window.  

 

But whether I'm the rose

Of sheer perfection,

Or freckle on the nose

Of life's complexion,

The cinder or the shiny apple of its eye,

I gotta fly once,

I gotta try once,

Only can die once, right, sir?

 

Suddenly Blaine’s whole face lit up.  Chris followed his gaze, and saw a white dove fluttering toward the open window.  He smiled to himself, knowing what it signified.

 

Ooh, life is juicy,

Juicy, and you see

I gotta have my bite, sir!

Get ready for me, love,

Cause I'm a comer,

I simply gotta march,

My heart's a drummer.

Nobody, no, nobody

Is gonna rain on my parade!

 

As she finished her song, Rachel noticed the delighted expression on Blaine’s face, and was clearly thrilled by his reaction.  She curtseyed prettily, as Chris and Darren applauded.  However, her face flushed with anger as she realized that Blaine’s attention was focused not on her, but on the white dove that had perched on the windowsill.

 

Chris quickly tried to defuse the impending explosion.  “Wow!  Queen Red, your voice is truly amazing!  Even all of the lavish praise we heard from Blaine, here,” and he nudged Blaine sharply as he said this, “couldn’t do it justice.”

 

Blaine recovered his good manners enough to say, “Yes, Red, it’s always such a pleasure to hear you sing.”  But his attention was clearly still miles away.

 

“Well, I could perform another song, if you insist,” Rachel began, but Blaine cut her off.

 

“I’m sorry, but I really must go.  I’ll see you next week.”  And with one last glance at the white dove, Blaine strode purposefully out of the Throne Room.

 

Chris and Darren quickly followed suit, leaving a sputtering Rachel behind.  As they made their way out of the castle, Darren turned to Chris, asking, “Do you think that dove means what I think it means?”

 

Chris nodded.

 

“Oh, I can’t wait for tonight!”

End Notes:

Do you know what the dove means?

Chapter 10 - Fire by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which things are beginning to heat up...

Chris and Darren were pleased to discover that there was a room available at the Shoe Inn.  They took turns bathing in the enormous claw-foot tub, luxuriating in the feeling of being truly clean for the first time in days.  Not wanting to put their dirty clothes back on, they wrapped themselves in the fluffy cotton towels provided by the Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe.  Then Darren washed their clothes while Chris made a fire in the fireplace so they could hang them to dry.

 

As they were eating supper in their room, Chris said, “I know it’s ridiculously early, but I think we should go to bed right after dinner.  I hardly got any sleep last night on those lumpy pears, and we’ll need to get up around midnight to sneak back into Red Riding Hood’s castle.”

 

“Sounds good to me.  Do you think the alarm on my phone will work here?”

 

“I don’t see why not.  You’ve had it off this whole time to save the battery, right?”

 

Darren nodded, setting the alarm for 12:15.  Chris piled more wood on the fire, hoping their clothes would be completely dry by the time they woke up.  Then they both crawled into bed and fell fast asleep.

 

When the alarm woke him six hours later, Chris had a moment of utter disorientation.  He lunged for the phone, accidentally rolling on top of a very naked Darren.

 

“Well, that’s certainly one way to wake me up,” Darren gasped, blinking up at him.

 

“Oh my god!  I’m so sorry!” Chris cried, springing out of bed.

 

“Relax.  You didn’t knee me in anything vital.”

 

Chris huffed out a laugh, face flaming with embarrassment.  He kept his back to Darren as he hastily pulled his clothes on, glad that they were dry.  Then he turned around and tossed Darren’s clothes on the bed, thankful that his blush wouldn’t be easily visible in the dim light of the dying fire.

 

“So, what’s the plan for tonight?” Darren asked, stretching and yawning before climbing out of bed to get dressed.

 

“Well, we have to hope that Red Riding Hood’s castle is still as vulnerable as I made it in my book.  That way, we’ll be able to sneak in through an unlocked window, and the guards will have all gone off duty at midnight.”

 

“Let’s take these with us,” Darren said, picking up a couple of oil lanterns from the bedside table and lighting them.  “That way we won’t be fumbling around in the dark, bumping into things that really shouldn’t be bumped.”

 

“Darren!  I said I was sorry!”

 

“I know, I just love to make you blush,” Darren said, grinning at him wickedly.

 

“Hmph.”

 

Chris and Darren made their way to the castle, on the lookout for guards.  Seeing none, they climbed in through a window that was, as they’d expected, unlocked.

 

“Which way?” Darren asked.

 

“I’m not sure.  I purposely had the twins take a roundabout route.  Let’s just start exploring, and hope that we recognize something from our tour.”

 

Chris and Darren walked along corridor after corridor, each one lined with portraits of Rachel.  They tried to remember details of what she’d told them, in order to orient themselves, but all of the paintings seemed to blur together in their minds.

 

“I feel like we’re going in circles,” Darren complained.  “I swear we’ve passed that picture of Rachel with the overflowing picnic basket six times.”

 

“No, I’m pretty sure those were six different portraits.  See, here she’s got a blue dress on under her red hooded cape, and in the last one she was wearing a sweater with a sheep on it.”

 

“How are we ever going to find the Basket Room?”

 

“Shhh…  I hear someone coming.  Quick, let’s hide!”

 

They ducked through the nearest door, and found themselves in the queen’s bedchamber.

 

“Oh my, what gorgeous eyes you have, Blaine,” Rachel murmured in her sleep.  “…Oh my, what strong arms you have, Blaine…  Oh my, what soft lips you have, Blaine…”

 

Chris and Darren quickly left through a side door, not wanting to hear what came next.

 

“Oh my, that poor self-deluded girl,” Darren whispered, trying not to laugh.

 

“Don’t worry, she’ll figure things out and get her ‘happily ever after’ eventually.”

 

Chris and Darren continued their aimless wandering around the castle, through passage after passage, and up staircase after staircase.  Just when he felt ready to scream in frustration, Chris finally spotted the portrait he was looking for.

 

“There!” he cried, pointing excitedly.  “The Basket Room is right next to that painting!”

 

Darren raised an eyebrow when he noticed the portrait in question, which showed Rachel reclining on a sofa, wearing nothing but a strategically draped wolf-skin. 

 

“What?” Chris demanded, raising one of his own eyebrows in return.  “I’m gay, not blind.” 

 

Darren grinned at him. 

 

They entered the Basket Room, and looked around in dismay.  There were thousands and thousands of baskets inside, of every shape, size, color, and material.  Even if Chris was correct in his assumption that the basket they were looking for would be on a top shelf, as it was in his book, it would still take hours to locate it.

 

Chris sighed.  “Well, let’s start searching.  Remember, it’s one that’s made of tree bark.”

 

They both climbed up the shelves and began inspecting basket after basket, tossing aside the ones they rejected.  After an hour of fruitless searching, they heard a sudden Clank!  Turning towards the sound, they saw a grappling hook on a window ledge.

 

“Oh no!” Chris whispered.  “It must be the Huntsman’s Daughter, collecting Wishing Spell items for the Evil Queen, just like she did in my book.  Quick, let’s hide behind those baskets in the corner.”

 

Abandoning their oil lanterns, Chris and Darren dropped to the floor and hurried to conceal themselves.  Peeking out cautiously between baskets, they saw a young woman climbing through the window.  She sniffed the air like a predatory animal, turning her head from side to side before zeroing in on the far corner of the room.

 

Chris and Darren held their breath as she climbed up the shelves and pulled out a basket from the back.  It was made of tree bark.  The young woman removed a dagger from her belt and used it to cut a chunk of bark from the rim of the basket.  She then tucked the dagger and the bark back into her belt, leaving the basket on the shelf.

 

As she turned away from the shelf, the light of the oil lanterns fell on her face.  “Is that Naya, or Santana?” Darren whispered, not quietly enough.

 

The young woman’s head whipped around toward the place where Chris and Darren were hiding.  With a coy smile, she strode over to the shelf where the oil lanterns were sitting and picked one up, tossing it into a pile of baskets, which immediately burst into flames.  Then she quickly disappeared back out the window.

 

“Well, I don’t think Naya would try to burn us alive, so my guess is Santana.  Come on – let’s get a piece of that basket and then get out of here before we end up extra crispy!”

 

Chris was moving as he spoke, racing across the room to grab the basket that Santana had located, and cutting a piece out of it’s rim with the dagger that Kurt Hummelocks had given them.  Darren was right behind him.  The two of them rushed to the window and clambered out onto the ledge.

 

Looking down, they could see a water mill directly below them.  They leapt down onto it.  The water mill began to turn, slowly at first, but quickly gaining momentum.  It flung Chris and Darren into the moat.

 

They pulled themselves out of the water, dripping and spluttering.  They saw no sign of guards, but they could hear shouting coming from the castle.  The fire had clearly been discovered.  Not wanting to be blamed for it, Chris and Darren hurried away into the night, heading for the eastern gate of the Red Riding Hood Kingdom.

 

It was a long walk, but the moonlight made the path easy to follow.  As they finally neared the gate, Chris and Darren could see a familiar figure pacing back and forth in front of it.  They ducked behind a clump of bushes so as not to interrupt the reunion that they hoped was about to occur.

 

They didn’t have long to wait before another familiar figure appeared on the other side of the gate, easily visible through the iron bars.  Darren squeezed Chris’s hand.

 

“Hello, Blaine,” Kurt called, approaching the gate.  “I see you got the message I sent with my dove.”

 

Blaine rushed forward eagerly, grasping Kurt’s hands through the bars.  “Kurt!  I’ve missed you so much!”

 

“I know.  I’ve missed you, too.”

 

“I hate these bars between us,” Blaine said, pressing his forehead against Kurt’s.

 

“It’s either the bars of this gate, or the bars of a prison cell, I’m afraid.”

 

“I swear, if I ever find the person who wrote you that letter, tricking you into going to the Three Bears’ house, I’ll kill them!  They’re the reason for this whole mess.”

 

“What’s done is done, and it can never be undone.”

 

“One day, I’ll clear your name, and you can come home.” 

 

Kurt gave him a wry smile, and began to sing.

 

Comin' home used to feel so good

I'm a stranger now in my neighborhood

I've seen the world at a faster pace

And I'm comin' now from a diff'rent place

Though I may look the same way to you

Underneath there is somebody new

I am not the boy next door

I don't belong like I did before

Nothin' ever seems like it used to be

You can have your dreams, but you can't have me

Oh, I can't come back there anymore

'Cause I am not the boy next door

 

As he sang, Kurt began the dance that Chris remembered performing on Glee – shimmying his shoulders, swiveling his hips, and kicking his legs high in the air.  Where Chris had used the grand piano as a prop, Kurt used Rum Chocolate Soufflé. 

 

You've been savin' those souvenirs,

Faded photographs from our foolish years

We made plans, but they're wearin' thin

And they don't work out 'cause I don't fit in

And those mem'ries will just weigh me down

'Cause I got no place to keep 'em uptown

I am not the boy next door

I don't belong like I did before

Nothin' ever seems like it used to be

You can have your dreams, but you can't have me

Oh, I can't go back there anymore

'Cause I am not the boy next door, uh!

 

Chris and Darren squeezed each other’s hands, torn between enjoying the performance and feeling sad for Blaine.  The lyrics made it quite clear that Kurt had no intention of abandoning his life as an outlaw to try to rejoin Blaine in the Red Riding Hood Kingdom.

 

I'm not sorry for just bein' me

But if you'd look past the past you could see

Nothin' ever seems like it used to be

You can have your dreams, oh, but you can't have me

I can't go back there anymore

‘Cause I am not

I am not

I am not the boy next door!

 

As the final, soaring note faded, Blaine grasped Kurt’s hands through the bars of the gate.  “I love you,” he said.  “And I know you love me.  You don’t have to say it back.  I just know.”

 

“I’m a criminal, and you’re a hero,” Kurt replied, with teary eyes.  “A flame may love a snowflake, but they can never be together without each harming the other.”

 

“Then let me melt,” Blaine cried, pulling Kurt close and kissing him passionately.

 

With obvious reluctance, Kurt finally broke the kiss.  “I have to go,” he said.  “I have to be as far away from this place as I can get by sunrise.”

 

Blaine tried to hold on, but Kurt pulled away, leaping up onto Rum Chocolate Soufflé and galloping back to his life as a fugitive.

End Notes:

Oh, I just hate to leave them like that.  But I promise they’ll come back together eventually...

Chapter 11 - Scandals by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which our heroes are captured by some rather unsavory characters...

 

Chris and Darren were lost.  Darren didn’t realize this yet, since Chris was too embarrassed to admit it, but they were definitely lost.

 

There were two reasons why Chris was ashamed to confess that he’d led them astray.  The first was that he was the one who was supposed to know every rock, every tree, every pathway in this land.  After all, he’d created them, hadn’t he?  That’s why he’d been the one setting their course this whole time, and Darren had been trustingly following along.

 

The second reason was even more humiliating.  Chris had wandered off the path because, instead of paying attention to where they were going, he’d been daydreaming about Darren in a none-too-platonic way.  This was definitely not something he was ready to acknowledge.

 

Of course, Chris had gotten a crush on Darren way back when they first started working together.  But then again, who hadn’t?  Darren was undeniably attractive, and the way he was so flirtatious and openly affectionate with everyone he met was hard not to fall for.

 

However, Chris had soon realized that, for the sake of his own sanity, he would have to channel all of his romantic feelings for Darren into Kurt’s feelings for Blaine.  He accepted the fact that, as Chris and Darren, they could never be more than friends.  And the truth was, they were great together as friends.  And it was enough.  At least, it had been enough…   

 

Now, though, something seemed to be shifting inside of Chris, bringing those old feelings of attraction back to the forefront of his consciousness, and he was finding it very disconcerting.  So, instead of trying to figure out where they were going, he mulled his emotions over in his head, hoping that if he could understand them, then he could more easily control them.

 

Maybe this was just a weird form of character bleed, brought on by witnessing Kurt and Blaine kissing.  Or perhaps there was something about this fairy tale world they were in that made everything seem romantic.  Or (and Chris could feel his face heating up at the memory) maybe it was simply his body’s reaction to having accidentally rolled on top of Darren last night when they’d both been naked…

 

Chris’s musings were cut abruptly short as he and Darren were suddenly whisked into the air, suspended in a giant rope net.  They’d walked right into a trap.

 

It didn’t take long for their startled cries to be heard by the creatures who had set the snare.  A troll and a goblin popped out from behind a nearby tree.

 

“Well, look what we have here,” growled the troll.

 

“Oh, the kings will reward us handsomely for these two,” gloated the goblin.

 

Although their faces and bodies were somewhat distorted – with horns on the troll and pointy ears on the goblin – Chris and Darren could still recognize Azimio and Jacob Ben Israel.

 

“We need to get the stone crown for the Wishing Spell,” Chris whispered to Darren.  “So let’s just allow these guys to take us to the troll and goblin kings without a struggle.”

 

“No problem,” Darren whispered back.  “You know me – I’m a lover, not a fighter,” he added, winking at Chris.

 

Chris tried hard to remember how he would usually respond to Darren’s flirting.  He didn’t want his friend to notice any change in his behavior that could lead to awkward questions.  He settled on raising one eyebrow, figuring that was a safe default reaction.

 

Azimio, the troll, ran off.  He returned a moment later, driving a small cart pulled by a tired-looking donkey.  Jacob Ben Israel, the goblin, cut a rope above the net, and Chris and Darren fell into the back of the cart.  Then the goblin hopped up beside the troll, and they set off as fast (or, more accurately, as slowly) as the donkey could go.

 

The manufacturer of the donkey cart had clearly never heard of shock absorbers.  With every rut or rock the cart rolled over, Chris and Darren were jostled together inside the net.  Chris would not have found this to be particularly comfortable under any circumstances, but with his current heightened awareness of Darren’s body, it was torture.

 

Darren wasn’t helping matters any.  He squirmed around, wriggling until he was able to bring them face-to-face within the close confines of the net.  With the next jolt of the cart, Chris was knocked onto his back, with Darren half on top of him.  Chris gritted his teeth, trying his best to think un-sexy thoughts.

 

An agonizing while later, the donkey pulled the cart through a gap between two of the giant boulders surrounding the Troll and Goblin Territory.  They entered a desolate landscape, devoid of any signs of life.  Ahead, the path they were following descended into a cavernous hole in the ground.

 

As the cart rolled down deep into the earth, it passed under a stone arch.  Chris and Darren shot each other confused looks as they read the message carved into it:

 

BE TROLL

BE GOBLIN

OR BE AFRAID

***

WELCOME TO SCANDALS

     

“Um… What’s Scandals?” Darren asked their captors.

 

“What do you mean, ‘What’s Scandals?’  Where have you been living, under a rock?” the goblin taunted.

 

“Ha!  Ha!  Good one, Jacob!” sniggered the troll.  “Under a rock!  Ha!”

 

Chris rolled his eyes.  Azimio wasn’t any more likeable as a troll than he’d been as a football player.

 

It soon became apparent that Scandals was the name of the underground city inhabited by the trolls and goblins.  The path wound on and on, always traveling downward.  All around, Chris and Darren could see small stone huts stacked on top of each other.   The faces of curious trolls and goblins peered out at them as they passed.

 

Eventually, the tunnel they were in opened out into a vast cavern, lit by torches.  Everything in the cavern was made of stone: trolls and goblins sat on stone chairs at stone tables, eating from stone plates and drinking from stone goblets.  In the center of the room, high on a stone dais, the Troll King and the Goblin King sat on their stone thrones.  Suspended above their heads, directly between them, was the stone crown that Chris and Darren needed to collect for the Wishing Spell.

 

As the cart neared the dais, Chris and Darren were finally able to get a clear view of the kings.  With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Chris recognized the Troll King as David Karofsky, and the Goblin King as Sebastian Smythe.  The looks on their faces as they stared down at the cart were distinctly unsettling. 

 

Azimio and Jacob Ben Israel bowed low before their monarchs.  Then Azimio hopped into the back of the cart and roughly hauled Chris and Darren to their feet, still restrained inside the rope net.

 

“We come bearing gifts for our kings,” Jacob Ben Israel said obsequiously.

 

“Perfect timing,” King Karofsky rumbled.  “The banquet is nearly over, and we needed some fresh meat.”

 

“Mmm…mmm…mmm…” King Sebastian added with a leer.  “Looks like we’ll be having sex-on-a-stick tonight.”

 

End Notes:

Ooooh...  Cliffhanger!  What will happen next?  Write me some reviews, and I'll let you know.  ;D

Chapter 12 - Heads Will Roll by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which something evil's lurking in the dark...

Chris could feel adrenaline coursing through his body.  The urge toward ‘fight or flight’ was strong, but neither one of those was much of an option at the moment, since he and Darren were still trapped within the rope net.  He could feel Darren trembling slightly, and squeezed his friend’s hand in a way that he hoped seemed reassuring rather than desperate.

 

“Let’s get a better look at these gifts you’ve brought us,” King Sebastian said, a lascivious smirk stretching from one of his pointy goblin ears to the other as he gazed down at his prisoners.

 

Chris and Darren tensed as Azimio whipped out a long obsidian blade and sliced through the ropes securing the top of the net. 

 

“Oh, yeah.  They’ll do nicely,” King Sebastian leered.

 

“Bring out the other prisoners!” King Karofsky boomed with his deep troll voice.  “Let the wild rumpus start!”

 

Jacob Ben Israel struck a great stone gong.  The sound reverberated throughout the cavern as trolls and goblins with stone spears shoved a rag-tag bunch of human prisoners toward the center of the room.  The goblins began to chant:

 

Off with your head

D-dance-dance-dance 'til you're dead

O-off-off-off with your head

D-dance-dance-dance 'til you're dead

O-off-off-off with your head

 

The trolls chimed in with:

 

It's close to midnight

And something evil's lurking in the dark

Under the moonlight

You see a sight that almost stops your heart

You try to scream

But terror takes the sound before you make it

 

(Heads will roll, heads will roll chanted the goblins.)

 

You start to freeze

As horror looks you right between the eyes

You're paralyzed

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night

And no one's gonna save you from the beast about to strike

You know it's thriller, thriller night

You're fighting for your life inside a killer thriller tonight

 

As the trolls and goblins sang, they lurched about in a grotesque dance, prodding the human captives with their spears to force them to join in.

 

Off with your head

D-dance-dance-dance 'til you're dead

O-off-off-off with your head

D-dance-dance-dance 'til you're dead

(Thriller tonight)

 

Chris watched in horrified fascination as the prisoners did their best to avoid having their toes crushed by their overzealous and under-coordinated troll and goblin dance partners.

  

You hear the door slam

And realize there's nowhere left to run

You feel the cold hand

And wonder if you'll ever see the sun

You close your eyes

And hope that this is just imagination

(Heads will roll, heads will roll)

But all the while

You hear the creature creepin' up behind

You're out of time

 

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night

There ain't no second chance against the thing with forty eyes, girl

Thriller, thriller night

You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

 

Chris could still feel Darren trembling, but when he dragged his eyes away from the dancing to glance at his friend, he realized that Darren was shaking not with fear but with barely-suppressed laughter. 

 

Off with your head

D-dance-dance-dance 'til you're dead

O-off-off-off with your head

D-dance-dance-dance 'til you're dead

(Thriller tonight)

 

“Oh my god,” Darren stage-whispered in Chris’s ear, “this is hilarious!  The trolls and goblins capture people and then make them dance.  You’ve got to include this in your sequel!”

 

Darkness falls across the land

The midnight hour is close at hand

Creatures crawl in search of blood

To terrorize y'all's neighborhood

And though you fight to stay alive (Off with your head)

Your body starts to shiver (Dance 'til you're dead)

For no mere mortal can resist (Heads will roll, Heads will roll)

The evil of the thriller (Heads will roll on the floor)

 

The Troll King and the Goblin King finally made their way down from their thrones, and each held out a hand to one of their newest prisoners.  With a quick “This should be fun,” thrown over his shoulder, Darren hopped down to join Sebastian.  Chris sighed and reluctantly accepted Karofsky’s invitation to dance.

 

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night

Girl, I can thrill you more than any ghost could ever dare try

Thriller, thriller night

So let me hold you tight and share a killer, thriller, ow!

 

Karofsky danced about as well as Chris would have expected a mash-up between the football-playing Glee character and a troll to do.  Which was to say, he managed to stay upright, and didn’t actually maim his partner, but it was a close thing. 

 

Darren seemed to be faring a little better, since Sebastian at least had some sense of rhythm, but Chris noticed that his friend had to keep darting out of reach to avoid the goblin’s wandering hands.

 

Off with your head

D-dance-dance-dance 'til you're dead

O-off-off-off with your head

D-dance-dance-dance 'til you're dead

O-off-off-off with your head

 

Chris breathed a sigh of relief when the song finally ended, but it was premature.  The trolls and goblins immediately began a new song, and Chris and Darren were compelled to continue dancing with King Karofsky and King Sebastian. 

 

The dancing went on and on, long into the night, until Chris and Darren (who’d been up since midnight the night before) were stumbling around nearly as badly as their partners.  Finally, when Chris felt as though he couldn’t dance another step, Jacob Ben Israel struck the stone gong again, silencing everyone in the room.

 

“Party’s over,” King Sebastian announced.  “It’s time for my beauty sleep.”

 

This time, Chris’s sigh of relief was echoed by every prisoner in the room.  The captives shuffled into one of the many tunnels leading out of the central cavern, escorted by spear-toting guards.  By this point, none of the humans had the energy or the inclination to resist being taken to the dungeon, where they would at least be allowed to rest.

 

Once all of the prisoners had been locked in their stone-barred cells, the guards left, taking their torches with them, and plunging the dungeon into the utter darkness that can only be found deep underground.  Unable to see his hand in front of his face, Chris felt around until he came in contact with what he hoped was an acceptable-to-grab part of Darren’s anatomy.

 

“Hey there,” Darren murmured, scooting closer.  “You okay?”

 

“Yeah.  Exhausted, but okay.”

 

“Me too.  Let’s try to get some sleep.  Here – I managed to keep the satchel slung over my shoulder all night, so at least we’ve still got the blanket to protect us a little from this cold, hard floor.”

 

Darren fumbled around in the darkness, arranging the blanket as well as he could, and pulling Chris down onto it with him before wrapping the loose end snuggly around them both.  Chris was glad to be the little spoon, knowing that if he had an inappropriate reaction to his friend’s embrace that it would be less obvious in this position.  He lay his head down on the sheepskin satchel and almost instantly fell asleep.

 

It was impossible to know how much time had passed before they were awakened by the loud clearing of a throat.  Opening bleary eyes, Chris found the dungeon illuminated by torchlight.  A troll girl stood outside the bars of their cell, staring in at them.

 

“Hello,” she called.  “I’m Princess Trollbecky.  What’s your name?”

 

“Chris.”

 

“I’m not talking to you!” Trollbecky snapped.  Then, staring dreamily at Darren and softening her voice, she asked, “Can I call you Butterboy?”

 

Darren struggled to sit up, shaking his head in sleepy confusion.  “Um, no, I’m Darren.”

 

“Do you have a girlfriend, Darren?”

 

“No…”

 

“Oh good.  Are you enjoying your stay?”

 

“Well,” Darren said, trying to be diplomatic, “I do love dancing.  But my friend Chris and I are kind of on a quest right now, so I’d really appreciate it if you’d let us out.”

 

Trollbecky glared hard at Chris before turning her attention back to Darren.  “I could let you out… in exchange for a kiss.”

 

“Ummm…” Darren said, uncharacteristically at a loss for words.

 

“Just kiss her,” Chris whispered in his ear.  “We need to get out of here.”

 

“I can’t kiss her!” Darren hissed back.  “Lauren’s like my little sister!”

 

“That isn’t Lauren Potter, it’s Becky Jackson.  And it’s not even Becky Jackson, it’s a weird mishmash of her and Trollbella.” 

 

“Well, I still can’t kiss her.” 

 

“Sorry, Darren,” Chris said, hauling his friend to his feet and shoving him toward the bars of their cell. 

 

Trollbecky grabbed Darren’s shirt and pulled him in for a loud, smacking kiss.  Darren wrenched himself free as soon as he could, shooting Chris a dirty look.  Trollbecky had a huge, satisfied grin on her face.

 

“Okay, Butterboy,” she said, producing a ring of keys from her pocket.  “I’ll let you go, for now.  But I’m sure you’ll come back to me as soon as you’re done with your quest.”

 

For once, Darren wisely kept his mouth shut. 

 

Trollbecky turned the key in the lock and swung the barred door of their cell open.  As she did so, Chris pushed her inside, grabbing the ring of keys and slamming the door shut.

 

“Sorry, Trollbecky, but we’ve got to free the other prisoners,” Darren explained.  “Please don’t call for the guards.”

 

“Oh, they’re all asleep anyway,” Trollbecky replied, a dreamy smile still stretching across her face from horn to horn.

 

Chris quickly unlocked the doors to the rest of the cells.  “Come on,” he called to the startled people within.  “We’re getting out of here.”

 

Roused to action by this unexpected chance at freedom, the prisoners hurried out of the dungeon and made their way back through the tunnel to the main cavern.  There they were greeted by the sight of hundreds of trolls and goblins passed out on chairs, tables, and all over the floor.  The escapees tiptoed as quietly as they could toward the exit tunnel on the far side of the room.

 

Once everyone else had made it safely out of the main cavern, Chris and Darren approached the stone dais, where Karofsky and Sebastian were slumped on their thrones, snoring.

 

“I’ll get the crown,” Darren whispered.

 

“No, I’d better do it.  I’m taller.”

 

Darren rolled his eyes, but stood back and allowed Chris to scramble up onto the dais.  The stone crown they needed for the Wishing Spell was suspended high in the air between the thrones on which the Troll King and the Goblin King were sleeping.  There was no way for Chris to reach it without standing on one of the thrones.

 

Karofsky’s big, meaty forearms were completely covering the armrests of his throne, so Chris climbed up next to Sebastian, careful not to brush against the sleeping goblin.  He stretched up as high as he could, fingertips just grazing the edge of the crown.  Taking a deep breath, he lengthened his body a tiny bit more, until he was able to grasp onto it. 

 

As Chris wrenched the crown free from whatever invisible thread had been holding it aloft, he lost his balance and toppled into Sebastian’s lap.  The Goblin King awoke with a startled yell.

 

Chris sprang up, leaping from the dais into Darren’s waiting arms.  The two of them dashed from the room as King Sebastian shouted for his guards.  As they raced through the exit tunnel, Chris and Darren could hear the heavy footfalls of dozens of trolls and goblins pursuing them.            

 

Rounding a corner, Chris and Darren passed between two huge stone statues.  A moment after they went by, one of the statues crashed to ground, completely blocking the tunnel.  They turned to see Stoner Brett, dusting off his hands, and looking quite pleased with himself.

 

“That should hold them off for a while,” he said, smiling dopily.

 

“Thanks!  Come on, let’s get out of here before they find a way past that statue.”

 

“Oh, no.  You go on without me.  I like it here.  The trolls and goblins have the best weed, and they sure know how to throw a party.”

 

Chris and Darren grinned at each other, then took off up the tunnel toward freedom.

End Notes:

So, that wasn’t so bad, was it?  Any ideas about what will happen next?  I know where they’re going, and who they’ll meet, but I’m having a bit of writer’s block about how to actually put it into words.  So please write me some reviews, and maybe I’ll find inspiration.  :D  

Chapter 13 - The Warbler Council by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which there aren’t any fairies…  Well, at least not that kind of fairies…

By the time Chris and Darren emerged from the tunnel into the pre-dawn light, the combination of relief from their narrow escape and exhaustion after three nights with barely any sleep had left them giddy.  As they hurried away from the Troll and Goblin Territory, they couldn’t stop laughing.

 

“Oh my god!” Darren gasped.  “Stoner Brett!  He’s finally found the life he’s always dreamt of, living underground with a bunch of trolls and goblins, getting high!”

 

“I know – it’s perfect!  And what did you think of King Karofsky and King Sebastian?”

 

“Couldn’t have cast them better myself!”

 

“I almost died with the way Karofsky was lurching around, trying to dance!”

 

“Oh, you got off easy.  I had to spend all night dodging Mr. Grabby Hands the Goblin.”

 

“Yeah, I noticed.  Did you see how quickly I jumped off of his lap?”

 

“You should have seen his expression!”

 

“You should have seen your expression when Trollbecky kissed you!”

 

“Oh, I am never forgiving you for that!”

 

“Awww, come on.  Don’t be mad, Butterboy.”

 

Darren’s eyes flashed in warning.  “Don’t you ever call me that again!”

 

“What’s the matter, Butterboy?  You don’t like your new nickname?  I think it’s kind of cute.  Hmmm….  Butterboy….  Yep, I think that’s what I’ll call you from now on.”

 

With a roar, Darren lunged for Chris, who darted out of reach and took off at a run.  Although his longer legs would normally have given Chris an advantage, he was worn out from their previous exertions.  Darren quickly caught him with a flying tackle that sent the two of them sprawling onto the soft grass at the side of the path.

 

Darren wasn’t a big guy, but he was surprisingly strong.  Chris struggled in vain to free himself as Darren wrestled him onto his back and pinned him to the ground. 

 

“What did you call me?” Darren growled, his attempt at sounding threatening somewhat spoiled by the laughter in his eyes.

 

Chris gazed up at him, his own laughter suddenly dying in his throat.  With a supreme effort of will, Chris wrenched himself out from under Darren and scrambled to his feet, brushing himself off and trying to regain control of his breathing.

 

“Come on, Dare,” Chris said, in as business-like a tone as he could muster.  “We need to stop fooling around and focus on gathering the rest of the Wishing Spell items if we’re ever going to get home.”

 

Darren seemed confused by Chris’s abrupt change in mood, but he shrugged it off and got to his feet.  “Okay, what do we have left to find?”

 

“Well, we’re halfway there.  We’ve already got the lock of Emmapunzel’s hair, one of Cinderella’s glass slippers, a piece of bark from Red Riding Hood’s basket, and the stone crown belonging to the Troll King and the Goblin King.  We still need the spindle from Sleeping Beauty’s spinning wheel, jewels from Snow White’s coffin, the saber from the deepest sea, and a teardrop from a Warbler.”

 

“But there weren’t any Warblers in your book.  And Blaine’s not a Warbler in this world – he’s Jack, with his beanstalk.  Are you sure one of my tears wouldn’t work?  You could try pulling my nose hairs to make my eyes water.”

 

“Ewww!  And no!  You’re supposed to be an actor.  Why can’t you just cry on command, like I can?  And anyway, I already told you, you’re not really a Warbler; you just play one on TV.”

 

“Well, if you hadn’t noticed, the lines between fiction and reality seem to be a little blurred here.  I think it’s worth a shot.”

 

“We’ll keep that as a back-up plan, in case we can’t find any Warblers here.  Meanwhile, does the spine of the journal still have a little vial in it, to catch the teardrop if we do find one?”

 

Darren pulled the journal out of the satchel and checked.  Sure enough, there was a small glass vial with a cork stopper hidden in the journal’s spine.  He held it up to show Chris, and then carefully stowed it away again so it wouldn’t break.

 

“We’re nearly to the Fairy Kingdom,” Chris said.  “Even though we’re not looking for a fairy’s tears, I think we should still follow the same route that I had the twins take, and hope for the best.”

 

“Sounds good.”

 

They walked along in silence for a while, as the scenery around them grew more and more lovely.  A sparkling stream meandered alongside the path they were following, and in the distance they could just make out a herd of unicorns grazing on a flower-strewn hillside.

 

“This sure seems like the Fairy Kingdom to me,” Chris mused.  “But I don’t see any fairies.”

 

Darren placed a hand on his shoulder, halting their progress.  “Shh… Listen.”

 

The faint sound of sniffling could be heard, coming from behind a nearby clump of bushes.  Chris and Darren quietly made their way towards the sound.  On a flat rock on the other side of the bushes, a young man in a navy-blue blazer sat with his back to them, shoulders shaking with sobs.

 

Darren quickly retrieved the glass vial before moving forward to put his arm around the dejected figure.  “Hey, there,” he said, voice filled with compassion and hands filled with ulterior motives.  “What’s wrong?”

 

The young man’s head jerked up in surprise, and Chris immediately recognized Trent, one of his favorite Warblers.

 

“Oh!  You startled me.  I didn’t realize anyone was around,” Trent gasped.  Then, visibly trying to pull himself together, he answered Darren’s question.  “I have to appear before the Warbler Council in a few minutes.  I’m afraid they’re going to banish me from the Warbler Kingdom.”

 

“Why?  What did you do?”

 

“I totally messed up our choreography.  I turned left when I was supposed to turn right, and banged into Jeff.  I’m such a klutz!”

 

“Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself, man.  We’ve got the “Perfect” song to cheer you up,” Darren told him, with a significant glance at Chris.

 

It only took a moment for Chris to pick up on Darren’s cue.

 

Made a wrong turn, once or twice

Dug my way out, blood and fire

Bad decisions, that's all right

Welcome to my silly life

 

As he sang, Chris couldn’t help letting his shoulders fall into Kurt’s trademark shimmy.

 

Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood

Miss 'No way, it's all good'

It didn't slow me down.

Mistaken, always second-guessing

Underestimated, look I'm still around

 

One look at Darren showed that he was channeling Blaine as much as Chris was channeling Kurt.  His heart-eyes were turned up to their full wattage as he came in on the chorus.

 

Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel

Like you're less than, less than perfect

Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel

Like you're nothing, you are perfect to me

 

Dragging his eyes away from Darren long enough to check on Trent, Chris could see that their song was having its intended effect.  The Warbler was smiling and swaying along.

 

You're so mean (you're so mean)

When you talk (when you talk)

About yourself, you were wrong.

Change the voices (change the voices)

In your head (in your head)

Make them like you instead.

 

Chris turned his attention back to Darren.  He loved it when they got to sing duets together, and this had been a particularly fun one to perform on Glee.

 

So complicated,

Look how big you’ll make it

Filled with so much hatred

Such a tired game

It's enough, I've done all I could think of

Chased down all my demons

I've seen you do the same

(Ohh ohhhhhhh)

 

Trent got up and started dancing with them as they reached the second chorus.

 

Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel

Like you're less than, less than perfect

Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel

Like you're nothing, you are perfect

 

All three of them had a hard time not cracking up as Darren and Chris tried their hands at rapping on the next verse.

 

The whole world's scared, so I swallow the fear

The only thing I should be drinking is an ice-cold beer

So cool in line and we try, try, try, but we try too hard

And it's a waste of my time.

Done looking for the critics, cause they're everywhere

They don't like my jeans, they don't get my hair

We change ourselves and we do it all the time

Why do we do that, why do I do that (why do I do that)?

 

When they reached the final chorus, Darren wrapped one arm around Chris’s shoulders, leaning their cheeks together as they sang.

 

Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel

Like you're less than, less than perfect

Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel

Like you're nothing, you are perfect to me

(Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel

Like you're less than, less than perfect)

You're perfect, you're perfect to me

Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel

Like you're nothing, you are perfect to me.

 

As they finished the song, Trent gave them a round of applause.  Darren bowed, and Chris – still in Kurt-mode – curtsied. 

 

“Would you like us to come with you to your meeting with the Warbler Council?” Chris asked.

 

“That would be great.  Thanks.  I guess it wouldn’t make a very good impression for me to be late, so let’s go.”

 

They found the Warbler Council (all dressed in the familiar blazers) seated in a strange sort of gazebo.  It looked as if the walls had been removed from Dalton Academy, while the floor, furniture, and ornate domed ceiling remained.  Chris and Darren recognized the members of the Council – Wes, David, Thad, Nick, and Jeff.

 

Wes banged his gavel.  “The Warbler Council is now in session.  First order of business will be the hearing regarding Warbler Trent.  Please read out the charges against the accused.”

 

David rose and unfurled a parchment scroll, reading aloud.  “It is alleged that Warbler Trent has committed acts of inaccurate footwork, resulting in the disruption of a very important rehearsal.  This is a most serious infraction, punishable by banishment from the Warbler Kingdom.”

 

“Warbler Trent, you have heard the charges against you.  How do you plead?”

 

“Um…” Trent began, but Darren interrupted him.

 

“Serious infraction?!  Hold on.  So he bumped into someone – big deal.  Are you really going to banish him for making one little mistake?”

 

Wes banged his gavel.  “I will have order!” he commanded.

 

Darren was undeterred.  “This is ridiculous.  If perfect dancing is so important to you, you should leave poor Trent alone and go deal with those trolls and goblins.”

 

“You mock us, sir!” shouted Thad, outraged.

 

Chris cut in, trying to defuse the situation.  “We mean no disrespect.  But you should know that the trolls and goblins are kidnapping people and forcing them to dance.  And I can promise you, every one of them makes Trent here look like a model of coordination and grace.”

 

“Is that true?” asked Jeff, eyes wide.

 

“Yes.  We barely escaped.”

 

“That sounds like a much more significant problem than one botched rehearsal.  I think we should forgive Trent, and go pay a visit to the Troll King and the Goblin King,” Nick proposed.

 

Wes glanced around at the other members of the Council.  “All those in favor?”

 

There was a chorus of ‘aye’s. 

 

“Decided,” Wes declared, with a final bang of his gavel.  “Warbler Trent is hereby reinstated in good standing.”

 

Trent slumped against Darren in relief.  “Oh, thank you so much.  I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”

 

“Don’t worry,” Darren said, holding up a little tear-filled vial, “you already have.”

End Notes:

Pretty, pretty please, won’t you write me a review?  ‘Cause if you do, you are perfect to me.  ;D

Chapter 14 - Wild Things by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which someone needs a cold shower...

 

Chris and Darren waved goodbye to Trent (who was looking much more cheerful than when they’d first met him) and continued along the path they’d been following earlier.  The midday sun shone brightly in the cloudless sky, and the air was filled with butterflies. 

 

“Well, they may call this the Warbler Kingdom, rather than the Fairy Kingdom, but either way, it sure is magical,” Darren said, gazing about in awe.

 

Chris just nodded, at a loss for words.  Up ahead, they could see the source of the little stream that ran beside their path – a crystal lake, fed by a towering waterfall.  Each drop of water acted as a prism, casting rainbows in every direction.  

 

Once they reached the bank of the lake, Darren quickly stripped off his clothes and dove into the shimmering water.  Chris only hesitated for a moment before joining him.  Darren swam smoothly across the lake and hauled himself out on the rock ledge under the waterfall.  As he stood there, wet and gleaming in the sun, Chris was glad that the cold water was effectively tamping down his body’s natural reaction to the sight.

 

Of course, Chris and Darren had been naked together before, but only while Chris had their relationship firmly placed in the “friend” category in his mind.  His newfound (or newly rekindled) feelings put a whole different spin on the situation.  The last thing on earth he wanted was to do or say anything that would jeopardize their friendship.

 

Treading water in the middle of the lake, Chris tried to give himself a stern talking-to.  Get a grip, here, he admonished himself.  Darren is one of your best friends in the whole world.  And whatever this is – lust, or a crush, or character-bleed – it’s not worth the risk.  If Darren knew how you felt about him, things would just get awkward.  He’d feel bad about not being able to reciprocate, and then he’d start being careful not to lead you on.  And that would be the end of the open, affectionate, flirty, playful Darren you know and love.  So you’d better suck it up and act like everything is fine.

 

Steeling his resolve, Chris swam over and joined his friend under the waterfall.  The cool water felt heavenly as it pounded down on his head and shoulders.  Darren slung an arm around him, raising his voice to be heard over the thundering stream:

 

“Don’t you just love it here?”

 

Chris smiled back into his expectant face, willing his voice steady.  “Yes.  Yes, I do.” 

 

They stood for a moment in reverent silence, which was suddenly broken by a rebel yell from Darren as he launched himself back into the lake, dragging Chris along with him.  In mock outrage, Chris splashed water in Darren’s face, and Darren retaliated by dunking him under.

 

Chris, no stranger to swimming pool games, dove even deeper, grabbing Darren’s ankle and pulling him down, as well.  They grappled underwater, then surfaced together, spluttering. 

 

“Race you to the shore!” Darren cried, pushing off against Chris’s thighs with both feet. 

 

Chris tried valiantly to catch him, but Darren had too much of a head start.  He emerged from the water and did a little victory dance, pumping his fist in the air and wiggling his ass in Chris’s direction.  “I am the champion!” he crowed.

 

“What you are is a dirty, rotten cheater,” Chris huffed as he joined Darren on the bank.

 

“Cheating implies that there are rules, Chris.  And everyone knows that all’s fair in love and war and ‘race you to the shore.’”

 

“Hmph.”

 

Darren grinned.  “Don’t be a sore loser.”

 

“Well I wouldn’t be sore if someone hadn’t kicked me in the thighs in order to get a head start in the race.”

 

“Oh, poor baby.  Do you need me to kiss your ow-ies to make them better?”

 

Chris turned away quickly, blushing.  He decided their banter had gone on long enough.  “It’s going to be a long walk to the Sleeping Kingdom, and I’m beat.  How does a nap in the shade sound?”

 

“It sounds perfect.  I think I’ll wash out my t-shirt and socks and undies first, and lay them out in the sun to dry while we sleep.”

 

“Good idea.”

 

After taking care of their clothes, Chris and Darren lay down on their blanket under a nearby tree.  Chris was worried that having Darren so close (and so naked) would make it difficult for him to fall asleep, but the past few days soon caught up with him, and before he knew it he had drifted off.

 

There must truly have been some magic in the Warbler Kingdom, because Chris and Darren both awoke an hour later, feeling fully refreshed.  They pulled on their clothes, which were not only dry, but also blissfully soft, with a delicate, sweet-spicy scent, like lemon cake.

 

Darren buried his nose in the hair at the nape of Chris’s neck, inhaling deeply.  “You smell delicious.  It must be something in the water.  Here – smell me.”

 

Chris tentatively sniffed at Darren’s curls, which held that same intoxicating scent.  Damn, he cursed silently to himself, this is so not fair. 

 

Out loud he said, “Yep, it’s making me hungry.  Let’s have lunch.”

 

“I’ll eat you up, I love you so!” Darren teased, mouthing at Chris’s neck.

 

Shoving Darren away, Chris finished the quote from Where the Wild Things Are.  “And Max said ‘No!’”

 

“Awww…  Do I need to roar my terrible roar and gnash my terrible teeth?”

 

“No.  And don’t roll your terrible eyes or show your terrible claws, either.  Just pretend you’re not a wild thing for a moment, so we can eat our lunch like civilized people.”

 

With a dramatic sigh, Darren walked dejectedly over to get their sheepskin satchel.  His demeanor changed completely once he opened it up.  “Oooh – look what Trent gave us!”

 

In gratitude for their support, the Warbler had restocked their provisions.  Darren pulled out a cluster of red grapes, a wheel of Brie, and a soft, fragrant baguette that was miraculously still warm.  Conversation was momentarily suspended, as they tucked in to the delicious food.

 

Once they’d eaten their fill and packed away the leftovers, Chris and Darren continued on their journey.  They spent the rest of the day walking mostly in silence, content to just soak in the beauty of their surroundings. 

 

When night fell, they lay down on their blanket, side by side, gazing up at the star-flecked sky.  Darren reached over and interlaced their fingers.  “G’night, Chris.”

 

Chris gave his hand an answering squeeze.  “Night, Darren.”

 

Darren quickly went to sleep, but Chris lay awake for a long time, searching the night sky for any sign of a shooting star.  If only he could spot one, he knew exactly what he would wish for…

 

End Notes:

I’d originally planned for this chapter to be about the Sleeping Kingdom, but Chris and Darren insisted that we take a little detour to let them explore their relationship.  You know how persuasive those boys can be…  ;D  

Chapter 15 - Wake Me Up by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which it's time to go-go...

 

Early the following morning, Chris and Darren crossed over the border into the Sleeping Kingdom.  The change was immediate and striking.  Whereas the Warbler Kingdom had been vibrant with life, the Sleeping Kingdom seemed to be...well... sleeping.  Fields lay fallow, and the birdsong that had accompanied their trip thus far suddenly fell silent.

 

“It’s kind of creepy here,” Darren observed.

 

“Yeah.  In my book, I wrote that even though the curse had been lifted, the land hadn’t recovered from a hundred years of sleep.  Now I’m kind of wishing I hadn’t left this place so barren.”

 

“How far do you think it is to the palace?  I’m not looking forward to walking all day through this wasteland.”

 

“Well, with any luck, there should be a couple of guys transporting a cart full of goats coming along any minute to offer us a ride.”

 

Darren shuddered.  “I think maybe it would be better to walk.”

 

“Why on earth would we want to walk if we can get a ride?”

 

“Um…” Darren looked down at the ground, clearly embarrassed.

  

“What’s the matter?”

 

“I can’t tell you.  You’ll laugh at me.”

 

“I won’t laugh at you.  Just tell me what’s wrong.”

 

With a hesitant voice, Darren admitted, “I’m afraid of goats.”

 

Chris couldn’t help himself – he burst out laughing.  “You’re afraid of goats?!?”

 

Darren looked at him with big, reproachful eyes.  “You promised not to laugh.”

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Chris said, trying to school his features into an expression of sympathy.  “But may I ask why you’re afraid of goats?”

 

“If I tell you, no more laughing.”

 

“Scouts’ honor,” Chris promised, holding up three fingers in a gesture he vaguely remembered from his days as a Cub Scout.

 

“Well, when I was little, my parents took me and Chuck to a petting zoo.  There was this machine, kind of like a gumball machine, but when you put a quarter in, instead of gumballs, it dispensed goat chow.  So Chuck put in a quarter and turned the knob, and I held my hands under the opening where the goat chow came out.  Well, when they heard the sound of all those little pellets pouring down the chute, about a million goats came charging over and attacked me.”

 

“They attacked you,” Chris repeated dubiously.

 

“Yes.  It was horrible.  They were bleating and trying to climb over each other with their freakish little goat-hooves, all wanting the food in my hands.  And then this crazed billy goat with a beard down to his knees and giant horns shoved all of the others out of the way and butted me hard right in the chest.  And I fell into a cow pie, and he stood on top of me and ate up all the goat chow.”

 

Chris had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing.  “What was a cow pie doing there?  I thought you were in a goat pen.”

 

“Are you even listening to me?  It was a whole petting zoo, with cows, and sheep, and pigs, and everything.  But all the other animals just stood there, staring, while I was mauled almost to death by goats.”

 

Chris could feel tears springing to his eyes as he fought to contain his laughter.  He wrapped his arms around his friend, rocking him back and forth.  “Sweetie, I promise to protect you from the big, bad goats.”

 

“You’re laughing at me!”

 

“I’m not!”

 

“I can feel your shoulders shaking.”

 

“I’m not laughing.  I’m shaking with vicarious fear at the thought of how traumatic it must have been to be mauled by goats.”

 

“Nice save.”

 

“Thanks.  I thought so.”

 

They soon heard the rumble of an approaching cart.  Chris flagged down the drivers, and gave them a couple of gold coins in exchange for a ride to the palace.  Then he and Darren climbed into the back of the cart, where Darren pressed himself tightly into a corner and Chris stretched out in front of him to fend off the curious goats. 

 

Several hours later, when they’d reached their destination, Darren scrambled out of the cart with a sigh of relief. 

 

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Chris asked.  “I didn’t let any of them so much as touch you.”

 

“My hero,” Darren cooed, tucking his hands up under his chin and batting his eyelashes in a ridiculous parody of a helpless damsel.

 

Chris grinned at him.  “Come on, Daisy.  Let’s go get ourselves a spindle.”

 

Chris and Darren had no trouble gaining admittance to the palace, since all of the guards were asleep at their posts.  As they tiptoed inside, they saw Queen Sleeping Tina and King Mike Charming sitting on their thrones.  A man in a wheelchair sat facing them.

 

“As your Royal Advisor,” the man was saying, “I suggest that you enact a law against sleeping during the daytime.”

 

“Oh, Artie, that wouldn’t be fair,” Sleeping Tina replied.  “After sleeping for a hundred years, I guess everyone just got in the habit of doing it.  It’s not their fault.”

 

“But darling, we have to do something,” King Mike said gravely.  “There are no crops being planted or business being done.  Our kingdom can’t survive unless our people stop napping all the time.”

 

“May I make a suggestion?” Darren asked, walking up to the trio.

 

“How did you get in here?” Artie demanded.

 

“In case you haven’t noticed, your guards are all asleep.  I think I have an idea that could help you with that.”

 

“What do you propose?” King Mike asked.

 

“You’re a good dancer, right?”

 

“How do you-” Mike began, but Tina interrupted with “He’s the best!”

 

“Well, there’s nothing quite like dancing to get the heart pumping.  I say you should host a royal ball, invite all of your subjects, and teach them some new dance moves.  Then, whenever they feel sleepy, they can do a little dance to wake themselves up.”

 

“That could work,” Tina agreed, beaming.  She held out her hand to her husband, and the two of them rose from their thrones and began to dance, whispering to each other.

 

J-j-j-jitterbug

J-j-j-jitterbug

J-j-j-jitterbug

J-j-j-jitterbug

 

Tina began to sing:

 

You put the boom-boom into my heart

You send my soul sky high when your lovin' starts

Jitterbug into my brain

Goes a bang-bang-bang 'til my feet do the same

 

Mike took the next verse:

 

But something's bugging you

Something ain't right

My best friend told me what you did last night

Left me sleepin' in my bed

I was dreaming, but I should have been with you instead.

 

Together, the king and queen launched into the chorus:

 

Wake me up before you go-go

Don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo

Wake me up before you go-go

I don't want to miss it when you hit that high

Wake me up before you go-go

'Cause I'm not plannin' on going solo

Wake me up before you go-go

Take me dancing tonight

I wanna hit that high (yeah, yeah)

 

With a whoop of joy, Darren grabbed Chris by the hands and whirled him into a crazy dance, as Tina sang the next verse.

 

You take the grey skies out of my way

You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day

Turned a bright spark into a flame

My beats per minute never been the same

 

Mike’s dance moves got slicker and slicker as he chimed in with:

 

'Cause you're my lady, I'm your fool

It makes me crazy when you act so cruel

Come on, baby, let's not fight

We'll go dancing, everything will be all right

 

By now, even Artie was dancing along in his wheelchair.

 

Wake me up before you go-go

Don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo

Wake me up before you go-go

I don't want to miss it when you hit that high

Wake me up before you go-go

'Cause I'm not plannin on going solo

Wake me up before you go-go

Take me dancing tonight

I wanna hit that high (yeah, yeah, baby)

 

Jitterbug

Jitterbug

 

Darren pulled Chris in close and sang the next verse.

 

Cuddle up, baby, move in tight

We'll go dancing tomorrow night

It's cold out there, but it's warm in bed

They can dance, we'll stay home instead

 

Chris felt his face heating up, and hoped that his flush would just appear to be caused by exertion from dancing.

 

Wake me up before you go-go

Don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo

Wake me up before you go-go

I don't want to miss it when you hit that high

Wake me up before you go-go

'Cause I'm not plannin' on going solo

Wake me up before you go-go

Take me dancing tonight

Wake me up before you go-go

Don't you dare to leave me hanging on like a yo-yo

Take me dancing

 

“Oh, I just love that song!” Darren enthused, as Tina and Mike collapsed onto their thrones.  “We’ve got to get Ryan to let us do it on Glee next season.”

 

“Is this one of your little guilty pleasures that I never knew about, Dare?” Chris teased.

 

“Hey, I’m not ashamed to admit I love Wham!  I believe if you find something pleasurable, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it,” Darren shot back with a wink.

 

And, oh, how Chris wished that he could find the courage to admit to his own little guilty pleasure…

 

End Notes:

 

Remember, this story takes place right after season 3, so Darren and Chris don’t know about the “Guilty Pleasures” episode in season 4 yet.  Obviously, though, Ryan was already planning it, which is how this song ended up on Chris’s laptop.  Because, you know, everything in this story makes absolutely perfect sense…  ;D

P.S. Do you want to know my guilty pleasure?  It’s reading and re-reading and re-re-reading your reviews.  So please indulge me.  :D

 

Chapter 16 - As White as Snow by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which we find a misnomer...

 

Chris and Darren were in high spirits as they left the Sleeping Kingdom.  It had been easy to persuade Tina to let them borrow the spindle from her spinning wheel, since she was so grateful for Darren’s suggestion of using dancing to wake up her subjects.  Now, they only had two Wishing Spell items left to collect.

 

“I’m not sure where we’ll find Snow White’s coffin,” Chris admitted.  “The journal says it’ll be in the Evil Queen’s chamber, but in my book I wrote that it had been moved to the Dwarf Mines.”

 

“Well, so far we’ve just been following along with what you had the twins do, and everything has been working out perfectly.  You sent them to Snow White’s palace next, so let’s try there.”

 

They caught a ride on a fishing boat up the river to the Northern Kingdom.  It was dusk by the time the fisherman dropped them off on the bank of Swan Lake, within sight of Snow White’s palace.

 

“We’ll need to wait until it’s fully dark before we try to get in,” Chris said.  “This place is crawling with soldiers, and I’m sure they’re on heightened alert since the Evil Queen escaped.”

 

“Do we have to swim under the gate in the moat like you made the twins do?” Darren asked, not sounding at all thrilled by the prospect.

 

“Yeah.  Unfortunately that’s the only way we’ll make it past the guards.”

 

“Bummer.”

 

“Yep.”

 

Once night had fallen, Chris and Darren slipped into the frigid water and swam through the hidden entrance to the palace that Chris had written about in his book.  They emerged from the moat, dripping and shivering, into an underground passageway.  Climbing a flight of stairs, they found themselves in a laundry room.

 

Darren immediately began stripping off his wet clothes.  “Now we get to disguise ourselves as maids,” he said enthusiastically.

 

“Why are you so gleeful about this?”

 

“I’ve always loved playing dress-up.”

 

Chris rolled his eyes fondly, taking the dress and lacy cap that Darren was holding out for him.  They quickly changed into the maids’ outfits.

 

Darren looked Chris up and down.  “You make a cute serving wench.”

 

“Yeah?  Well, you’d be a lot more passable without the scruff.  Let’s see if we can find something for you to use as a veil.”

 

Darren held up a lace doily.  “What about this?”

 

“Perfect.  But you’d better keep your mouth shut.  My voice may be able to pass for a woman’s, but yours would be an instant giveaway.”

 

“I’ll have you know I can sound just like a girl if I want to,” Darren said in a high-pitched voice, with an inexplicably British accent.

 

Chris snorted.  “You sound like someone from Monty Python’s Flying Circus doing purposely bad drag.  Just let me do the talking if we run into anybody.”

 

Darren huffed.

 

“Come on,” Chris said.  “Wrap your wet things up in a towel and try to look like you’re working.  We need to find the portrait of the Evil Queen, which opens into the secret passage to the chamber where Snow White’s coffin is kept.”

 

“Who do you think the Evil Queen will be?”

 

“I’ve got a pretty good idea, but let’s keep our minds open, ‘cause you never know.”

 

Chris and Darren left the laundry room and began exploring the palace, mostly keeping their heads down to avoid letting the omnipresent guards see their faces, but carefully scanning any portraits they passed.  In a hallway on the second floor, they found what they were looking for.

 

“It’s Sue Sylvester!” Darren hissed, clutching onto Chris’s arm.

 

Chris waited until the roving guards had passed before he answered.  “That’s who I figured it would be.”

 

Prying the full-length portrait away from the wall, Chris stepped into a concealed passage.  Darren followed, pulling the portrait shut behind him.  Chris felt around in the darkness until he located a wooden ladder.  He took Darren’s hand and placed it on one of the slats.

 

“I’m going to climb up, and you follow me.”

 

At the top of the ladder, Chris stepped forward onto a narrow ledge, searching the wall in front of him with his fingers.  He soon found a latch, which, when he pulled on it, caused part of the wall to swing away.  Stepping through the opening, he found himself in the Evil Queen’s former chamber.

 

Darren followed, pushing a portrait of the Evil Queen (identical to the one they’d found down below) back against the wall to seal off the passage behind him.  They scarcely had a chance to get their bearings before they heard footsteps from outside the chamber, and a key turned in the lock.

 

“Quick, in here!” Chris whispered, pulling Darren into a large, mostly empty wooden chest, and shutting the lid.

 

They could hear the door open and then close again.  Footsteps crossed the room.  It sounded as though whoever had entered was walking over to the portrait of the Evil Queen.  Suddenly a familiar voice began belting out a song.

 

You could never know what it's like

Your blood like winter freezes just like ice

And there's a cold lonely light that shines from you

You'll wind up like the wreck you hide behind that mask you use

 

Surprised, Chris raised the lid of the chest slightly to peer out.

 

And did you think this fool could never win

Well look at me, I'm coming back again

I got a taste of love in a simple way

And if you need to know, while I'm still standing, you just fade away

 

The singer was standing with her back to them, facing the portrait of the Evil Queen, but even from behind, Chris immediately recognized her.

 

Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did

Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid

I'm still standing after all this time

Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

I'm still standing, yeah, yeah, yeah

I'm still standing, yeah, yeah, yeah

 

“Is that who I think it is?” Darren whispered.

 

Once I never could hope to win

You starting down the road leaving me again

The threats you made were meant to cut me down

And if our love was just a circus you'd be a clown by now

 

“Well, I never would have pegged her as Snow White, but no one else sounds like that.”

 

Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did

Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid

I'm still standing after all this time

Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

I'm still standing, yeah, yeah, yeah

I'm still standing, yeah, yeah, yeah

 

As the song ended, Darren leapt up and burst into applause.  Startled, the singer spun around, and Chris and Darren found themselves face to face with Mercedes Jones.

 

“Who are you?  And what are you doing in my stepmother’s chamber?” she demanded.

 

“We didn’t mean to alarm you.  We’re on a bit of a quest, and it’s led us here,” Chris said apologetically. 

 

“Wait – if the Evil Queen is your stepmother, does that mean you’re Snow White?” Darren asked, confused.

 

Mercedes sighed.  It was evident from her long-suffering expression that she got this question all the time.  “Yes, I’m Snow White.  My mother died giving birth, and my Evil Stepmother was poised to swoop in and name me.  As you can see, she has a somewhat twisted sense of humor.”

 

Chris chuckled wryly. 

 

“I can’t believe you made it past all of my guards” Mercedes told them.  “Sir Cooper would freak out if he knew you were in here.”

 

“Yeah, we met him in the Charming Kingdom.  He seems to be a bit of a drama queen,” Darren agreed.

 

“Oh, I know.  My husband does the funniest impressions of him.”

 

“You’re married to Prince Sam Charming, right?”

 

“Yes,” she answered, with a dreamy smile.  “Although he’s King Charming now, since I’ve become queen of the Northern Kingdom.”

 

“Would you mind telling us where your glass coffin is?” Chris asked.

 

“Oh, I had it moved to the Dwarf Mines.  I thought the Seven Dwarves should get to enjoy its beauty.  After all, they’re the ones who made it for me, and I hope I won’t be needing it again for a long time.”

 

Just then there was a loud banging at the door.  “Your majesty!” Sir Cooper yelled.  “Are you in there?”

 

Mercedes sighed.  Chris got the impression that it was something she did a lot.  “Yes, Sir Cooper.”

 

“The king sent me to look for you!  He didn’t know where you were, and he was very concerned!” Sir Cooper exclaimed, sounding much more concerned himself than Chris could imagine Sam ever being.

 

“I’m right here, Sir Cooper.  There’s no need to shout.”

 

Sir Cooper rattled the doorknob, which Mercedes had evidently locked.  “Your Majesty!  I can’t open the door!  Are you trapped?”

 

Chris and Darren suppressed their smiles, imagining Sir Cooper waving his arms around dramatically outside in the hallway.

 

“No, Sir Cooper.  Everything’s fine,” Mercedes said through gritted teeth, patience obviously wearing thin.  “Please go and tell my husband that I’ll join him in our bedchamber shortly.”

 

“But the Evil Queen is still on the loose!  You shouldn’t be wandering around the palace by yourself!” Sir Cooper cried.  He was obviously working himself up into a frenzy.  “In fact, she could be in there with you right now!  Is she in there?  Is she holding a dagger to your throat and forcing you to say everything is fine?  Stomp on the floor to give me a sign if you need me to break down the door and rescue you!”

 

“Sir Cooper!” Mercedes shouted, exasperated.  It was clear that she was only restrained from stomping her foot in vexation by the knowledge that Sir Cooper would indeed break down the door if she did so.  “For the last time – I am not trapped, I am not being held hostage, and I am not going to tell you again – go away!”

 

There was an angry muttering from outside the door, as Sir Cooper’s footsteps receded down the hall.

 

“You’d better go,” Mercedes told Chris and Darren with yet another sigh.  “If I don’t return to my bedchamber soon, Sir Cooper will be back here with a battering ram.”

 

“Hang in there,” Chris told her, as he and Darren stepped back into the secret passage.

 

End Notes:

 

Okay, who guessed that Sue would be the Evil Queen?  Ten points to you.  :)  Did anyone guess that Mercedes would be Snow White?  Wow - fifty points to you!  :D 

(Points have no monetary value, but may be redeemed for prizes of the author’s choosing.  To claim your prize, just write me a review, and I’ll let you know what you won in my response.)  ;D

 

Chapter 17 - A Wild Ride by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which Chris and Darren go au naturel...

 

Chris and Darren had a much easier time getting out of Snow White’s palace than they’d had getting in.  Still disguised as maids, they simply walked through the front gates, and headed out into the darkness of the surrounding forest. 

 

Once they were out of sight of the guards, they found a small clearing in the woods and built a fire.  Even in the middle of summer, nighttime in the Northern Kingdom was chilly.  Leaving the borrowed dresses on, Chris and Darren draped their own wet clothes over nearby bushes, hoping they’d be dry by morning.

 

Chris pulled the woolen blanket out of their sheepskin satchel.  To his surprise and delight, it wasn’t even damp.  “Wow,” he said.  “This bag Froggy gave us must be waterproof.”

 

“Well, he is a frog.  I bet he spends a lot of time in the water.”

 

“Hmmm….  I never thought of that.  In my book, I had him do plenty of jumping, but no swimming.  I guess I’ll have to let him show off his aquatic skills in the sequel.” 

 

“Yeah.  And he must have an amazing tongue, too.  You could have him whip it out and snag things from ten feet away.”

 

“Now that would be disturbing.”

 

“Not gross things.  Just, like, a cupcake, or something.”

 

“I’ll think about it.”

 

“You wanna know what I can do with my tongue?”

 

“Not particularly.”

 

“I can tie a maraschino cherry stem in a knot.”

 

“Of course you can.”

 

“Hey,” Darren said, sounding somewhat indignant at Chris’s lack of enthusiasm.  “I’ll have you know that’s a sure-fire way of impressing people in bars.”

 

“Yes, well, maybe the sort of people who hang out in bars watching cherry-stem Tongue Olympics aren’t all that worth impressing.”

 

“Hmph.”

 

Noticing that Darren actually looked a little crestfallen, Chris wrapped an arm around his friend.  “I’m sure your skills are very impressive,” he conceded.  “As soon as we get home, I’ll let you take me out and show me.  Okay?”

 

Darren’s face immediately broke into a wide grin.  “Deal.”

 

 

The following morning, after changing back into their own (thankfully dry) clothes, Chris and Darren left the borrowed maids’ outfits hanging on a tree branch alongside the main road to the palace, where they hoped someone would find them and return them.  Then they headed west, toward the Dwarf Forests.

 

It was a long walk.  As they left the Northern Kingdom behind, the trees grew together more and more thickly, until the tangled branches high overhead almost completely blocked out the sun.  Chris and Darren seemed to be traveling through an endless twilight.

 

Finally, they came to a perfectly round tunnel leading into the side of a mountain.  A sign was carved into the stone arch above the entryway:  I’ll Show You Mine.

 

“I don’t remember you giving that name to the Dwarf Mine,” Darren commented, grinning.

 

“That’s ‘cause I didn’t.  Come on – let’s go inside and find Snow White’s coffin.”

 

Chris and Darren each picked up a lantern from a row of hooks along the wall, and made their way into the tunnel.  Up ahead, they could hear the ringing sounds of picks hitting against the rock.  They figured the dwarves must be at work, mining gemstones.

 

As the tunnel came around a bend, it opened out into a vast cavern.  Chris and Darren stopped short at the sight that greeted them.  All around the cavern, clearly visible in the lantern light, hundreds of dwarves were, indeed, hard at work.  And every one of them was completely naked.

 

Before Chris and Darren could recover from their surprise, a little man approached them.  “Hey!  What do you think you’re doing, barging in here like this?” he demanded.

 

“Um, we were just…” Darren began, but the dwarf interrupted him.

 

“Take those clothes off this instant!  Don’t you know this is a nudist colony?  How dare you be so disrespectful?!”

 

Quailing under the dwarf’s furious gaze, Chris and Darren stripped as quickly as they could, stuffing their offending clothes into the sheepskin satchel.  Once they were naked, the little man’s demeanor changed completely.

 

“Welcome to ‘I’ll Show You Mine.’  Feel free to take a self-guided tour, and please enjoy your stay,” he said warmly, before returning to work.

 

Nonplussed, Chris and Darren hurried through the central cavern and entered one of the many side tunnels.  It wasn’t nearly as crowded as the main cavern had been, but there were still quite a few dwarves present, transporting the gemstones they mined in little carts that ran along tracks set into the tunnel floor.  Chris and Darren kept their eyes downcast, not wanting to be caught staring at the naked little men, and hesitant to catch each other’s eyes for fear that they’d burst out laughing. 

 

Chris had a pretty good idea of where they’d find Snow White’s coffin, so he led the way through the winding tunnels.  Eventually, they came to an open area furnished with miniature tables and chairs, where the dwarves apparently took their breaks.  On the far wall was a portrait of Snow White, and beneath it her glass coffin rested in a shallow alcove.

 

Glancing around to make sure no dwarves were watching, Darren grabbed a pick that someone had left leaning against the wall, and used it to pry a few jewels loose from the coffin.  Noting the look of horror on Chris’s face, Darren rationalized, “It’s not like we’re grave robbers.  Mercedes is alive and well, and she wouldn’t mind.”

 

When Chris didn’t respond, Darren followed his friend’s line of sight and realized that he was staring, not at the jewels in Darren’s hand, but at the image reflected in the glass of the coffin.  The glowing red circles that Darren had at first taken for rubies were actually the mirrored eyes of dozens of wolves.

 

Darren whipped around to face the Big Bad Wolf Pack, his sudden movement shocking Chris out of his immobility.  Turning slowly, Chris addressed the largest of the wolves in as steady a voice as he could manage. 

 

“Hello, Rick the Stick.  Is there something we can help you with?”

 

The wolf seemed to be taken aback by Chris’s nonchalant manner.  He huffed and puffed for a moment, before growling, “We’re here to take you to the Evil Queen.”

 

Thinking quickly on his feet, Chris responded, “Oh, yes.  She summoned us herself.  In fact, we’re just on our way to go see her.  It’s really kind of you to offer an escort, but we know the way.  We wouldn’t want to put you to any trouble.  I’m sure you have much more important things to do than to tag along with us.”

 

As he spoke, Chris took Darren’s hand and cautiously edged the two of them around the outside of the room, always keeping his eyes fixed on Rick the Stick’s burning red gaze.   As soon as they reached a side tunnel, Chris shoved Darren into one of the dwarves’ little carts, giving it a mighty push to speed it on its way before jumping in behind him.

 

It took the wolves a minute to realize what was happening.  While they hesitated, Chris and Darren got themselves situated in the cart, with Darren sitting between Chris’s legs, and the two of them leaned forward as far as they could to increase the cart’s momentum.  By the time the wolves gave chase, the cart was careening down the steep tunnel at a breakneck pace, quickly leaving the pursuing pack in the dust.

 

Chris’s relief at outdistancing the wolves was short-lived.  As the immediate fear for their lives dissipated, he became uncomfortably aware of the position they were now in.  The cart was plunging downward at an alarming rate, and as he tried to pull on the brake lever to slow them down, it came off in his hand.  Worse still, he and Darren were pressed tightly together, the lurching of the cart kept rocking them against each other, and they were both naked.  Again.      

 

Why did these things keep happening to him?  He was kind to old ladies.  And to cats.  In fact, he was kind of like an old cat-lady himself.  So why, why was the universe torturing him like this?!?

 

Chris almost welcomed the DEAD END sign up ahead, strategically placed in front of a huge pile of rubble that completely blocked the tracks.  At this point, he figured that he was about to die from a combination of embarrassment and unresolved sexual tension anyway, so he might as well die in a spectacular crash instead…

 

End Notes:

A reviewer on another site requested more naked Darren, and I was running out of excuses to take his clothes off, so this happened.  Anyone else out there have any requests?  I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try to make you happy…  ;D  

Chapter 18 - This Could Mean Danger by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which Chris and Darren are on the edge of something...

 

Well, Chris thought, there’s nothing quite so effective as smashing through a rock wall at 90 miles an hour to kill off an unwanted boner.

 

Surprisingly, he and Darren did not seem to be dead, or even badly injured.  The cart they were in had rocketed them through the pile of rubble and out the other side of the mountain, before spilling them unscathed onto the ground.

 

“Oh my god!  That was even better than the Big Thunder Mountain ride at Disneyland!  I wanna do it again!” Darren exclaimed, giddy with excitement.

 

Chris got gingerly to his feet, reaching down to help Darren up.  “You’re certifiably insane.  You do know that, right?” he deadpanned.

 

Darren bumped their shoulders together playfully.  “Oh, don’t even try to pretend like that wasn’t totally awesome.  I mean – of course – when the brake lever first broke off in your hand, I was like ‘oh shit, we’re seriously gonna die.’  And I don’t know why you had to drop it where it was gonna poke me in the small of my back the whole way down.  But still, wasn’t that the most exhilarating ride ever?” 

 

Chris suddenly found it necessary to turn away from his friend and rummage through their satchel, pulling out two sets of clothes and flinging one over his shoulder at Darren.  “Come on.  We don’t know how long it will take those wolves to catch up with us.  We need to get dressed and get out of here, right now,” he said through gritted teeth.

 

Darren was still too high on adrenaline to notice Chris’s embarrassment.  He hopped about gracelessly on one foot as he struggled into his pants, waving one arm around in an almost Cooper-esque manner as he replayed every twist and turn of their thrilling trip down the mountain.

 

Once they were both fully clothed, Chris grabbed his friend firmly by both shoulders and held him still.  “Sweetie, breathe,” he said, rolling his eyes fondly at Darren’s manic enthusiasm.  “Yes, that was fun.  But you know what isn’t fun?  Being eaten by super-sized wolves.  So let’s get a move on.”

 

Darren grabbed Chris’s hand and began skipping along the path.  His buoyant mood was contagious, and soon the two of them were gleefully singing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” as they danced down an imaginary yellow brick road. 

 

When the song ended, Darren asked, “Do you think you’ll include any of the Wizard of Oz characters in your sequel?”

 

“I’ve considered it, but I think I want to stick with the classic fairy tales.”

 

“But you used Goldilocks, and Little Bo Peep, and they’re not from fairy tales.”

 

“I know, but they’re still classics.  Those old folk tales, and nursery rhymes, and fairy tales all blended together in my mind when I was a kid.  And they’re all public domain.  Using the more modern stuff feels too much like plagiarism to me.”

 

“Do you think the Harry Potter musicals we made were plagiarism?”

 

“No, of course not.  I think they were fanfiction at its highest and most flattering level.  But you did run into trouble with them, right?”

 

Darren broke into a rousing rendition of “We Don’t Wanna Be Sued,” and Chris laughed. 

 

“Exactly.  And, unlike early Starkid, I do actually have the money to lose.  So I’m playing it safe.”

 

“Yeah, I guess that makes sense,” Darren agreed.  Then, with an enigmatic smile, he added, “But you know, it’s not always a good idea to play things too safe…”

 

Chris chose not to examine that last comment too closely.  Instead, he started singing “Granger Danger,” which had the intended effect of immediately capturing Darren’s full attention.  After that, they sang their way through the entirety of A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel, with Chris teasing Darren about the fact that he kept forgetting the words, even though he’d written most of them himself.

 

By the time they reached the reprise of “Goin’ Back to Hogwarts,” Chris and Darren could hear the sound of the ocean in the distance.  They soon emerged from the forest onto a high cliff jutting out over Mermaid Bay.  The view was spectacular, but they barely had time to appreciate it before they heard the chilling howls of the Big Bad Wolf Pack. 

 

Grabbing Darren’s hand and turning to gaze deeply into his eyes, Chris asked, “Do you trust me?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Then jump!”

 

End Notes:

 

If you haven’t seen Darren singing “We Don’t Wanna Be Sued,” you have got to check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcqP3HioNjI 

And while you’re at it, check out Darren and Joey singing “Granger Danger” together: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYKAlv44mmE  In this chapter, Chris was singing Ron’s part, which Joey does in the video, and Darren was singing Draco’s part, like he does here.

Sorry this chapter was so short, but it was either that or make you wait until the weekend when I’ll have a bit more time to write, so I figured a brief installment was better than nothing at all.  Please write me a review, even if it’s a short one.  ;D

 

Chapter 19 - Under the Sea by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which Chris and Darren dispense dating advice...

 

It was impossible for Chris to tell how much time had passed before he regained consciousness.  The last thing he remembered was the feeling of Darren’s hand clutched in his own as the two of them plummeted toward the ocean.  Flexing his fingers experimentally, he could still feel his friend’s grip.

 

Chris slowly opened his eyes, and shook Darren awake.  They found themselves in a large bubble of air in an underwater grotto.  Swimming all around them were strange and beautiful creatures that appeared to be mermaids dressed up as cheerleaders.

 

“Oh good, you’re awake,” a familiar voice called out. 

 

“Brittany?”

 

“Well, I guess that is my name, but most people just call me the Little Cheermaid.  And you’re dolphins, right?”

 

“Dolphins?”

 

“Yeah, you know – gay sharks.  Like barracudas are gay piranhas.”

 

“Oh, right.  Well –” Chris began, but Brittany cut him off.

 

“Or maybe you’re a unicorn.  Did you used to be a pony?  ‘Cause when a pony does a good deed, he gets a horn, and he becomes a unicorn, and poops out cotton candy, until he forgets he’s magical, and then his horn falls off.  I don’t see your horn, but you do seem kind of magical…  I'm also a unicorn.  Maybe a bi-corn.  Either way, I'm starting to believe in my own magic.”

 

Chris could feel his eyes beginning to glaze over, but Darren was clearly onboard with Brittany’s convoluted version of conversation.  “Oh, yeah, he’s definitely a unicorn.  Or maybe a wood nymph.  Or some other kind of totally awesome magical creature.”

 

Chris decided to derail this runaway train of thought.  “So, Brittany – or, uh, Little Cheermaid, if you prefer – do you happen to have the saber from the deepest sea lying around?”

 

Brittany gazed about her underwater home before beginning to sing:

 

 Look at this stuff, isn't it neat?

Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?

Wouldn't you think I'm the girl

The girl who has everything?

Look at this trove, treasures untold

How many wonders can one cavern hold?

Looking around here you think

Sure, she's got everything

I've got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty

I've got whozits and whatzits galore

You want thingamabobs? I've got twenty!

But who cares? No big deal - I want more!

 

Darren gave Chris a quizzical look.  “I don’t remember Glee ever doing ‘Part of Your World.’  I wonder how this song got here?”

 

I wanna be where the people are

I wanna see, wanna see them dancin'

Walking around on those - what do you call 'em?

Oh - feet!

Flippin' your fins, you don't get too far

Legs are required for jumping, dancing

Strolling along down a - what's that word again?

Street

Up where they walk, up where they run

Up where they stay all day in the sun

Wanderin' free - wish I could be

Part of that world

 

“I may have Disney’s Little Mermaid on my laptop,” Chris admitted.  “Don’t judge me.”

 

“Judge you?  Chris, you know how much I love this song!  In fact, as soon as we get home, the first thing we’ve gotta do is sit down and watch this movie together.”

 

What would I give if I could live out of these waters?

What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand?

Bet'cha on land they understand

Bet they don't reprimand their daughters

Bright young women sick of swimmin'

Ready to stand

And ready to know what the people know

Ask 'em my questions and get some answers

What's a fire and why does it - what's the word?

Burn?

When's it my turn?

Wouldn't I love, love to explore that world up above?

Out of the sea, wish I could be

Part of that world

 

 As Brittany finished singing, Chris said, “That was a beautiful song.  But it doesn’t quite answer my question.  Do you have the saber from the deepest sea?”

 

“Well, I used to.  My Cheermaids traded their pom-poms to the Sea Witch for it.  I was supposed to use it to cut off Santana’s feet, so she’d turn into a Cheermaid, and come live with me forever under the sea.  But I just couldn’t go through with it.  I mean, I really want us to be together, but not if it’s going to hurt her, you know?”

 

“Santana’s the huntsman’s daughter, right?”

 

“Yeah.  When we met on the bank of Swan Lake, it was love at first sight.  But then I got all tongue-tied, ‘cause she’s just so beautiful, and then she accused me of giving her the silent treatment, and she walked away, so I swam back to the sea, and I’ve been miserable ever since.”

 

“That’s so tragic,” Darren cried.  “You’ve got to go back to her.”

 

“She doesn’t want me.”

 

“How do you know?”

 

“I can hear anything that’s said near water.  Which is practically everything.  ‘Cause all water flows back to the ocean, you know?  Except watermelon.  I wish I could taste one of those.  All we have here is sea cucumbers…   Anyway, she’s never once said she misses me.  So she can’t feel the same way I do.”

 

Chris let the non sequitur about the sea cucumbers slide, and responded to what seemed to be Brittany’s primary misconception.  “Have you heard her say anything at all?” 

 

“Well… no.”

 

“I think she’s become mute.”

 

“Is that like a moot point?  ‘Cause I don’t really get it.”

 

“No, I mean I think that when you swam away without saying anything to her, she stopped talking, too.  I don’t think she’s said anything to anyone since then.  But I’m sure she misses you, just as much as you miss her.”

 

“Really?  Maybe I should try to find her.  ‘Cause I’m mad at her, but she’s still so hot.”

 

“Go for it,” Darren encouraged.

 

“I’m sorry if I’m starting to sound like a song stuck on repeat,” Chris said, “but we really do need to find the saber from the deepest sea.  Do you know where it is?”

 

“Oh, yeah.  I gave it to some guy, and he threw it in the Thornbush Pit.  You know, that place with all of the nasty vines that drag people down?  Well, I think that’s bullying, and I won’t stand for it.  Here, take these magic shell necklaces.   They’ll protect you from the vines.”

 

Brittany held out two necklaces, and Chris and Darren each put one on.  As the shells touched their chests, they began to glow with a soft, golden light.

 

“Oooh, pretty,” Brittany cooed.  “The shells are made for each other, so if one breaks, the other will, too.  Keep them safe, and they’ll keep you safe.”

 

 “Thanks!  These are great,” Darren enthused.  Then, glancing around at all of the other ‘whozits and whatzits’ on display, he asked, “What’s that musical instrument over there?”

 

“Oh, that’s a womandolin.”

 

“A womandolin?”

 

“Yeah.  It’s kind of like a mandolin, only with more curves.  Oh, and it smells better, too.”

 

“Wow – can I try it out?”

 

“Sure.  In fact, you can keep it.  I think Santana is the only woman I want to be playing from now on.”

 

End Notes:

I hope you enjoyed this chapter, even though Chris and Darren were fully clothed the whole time.  If you’ve just gotta see more naked-Darren, a reviewer on another site reminded me about a video Darren did in college, where he plays a nudist.  Check it out:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGum2xxs81k

And, as always, reviews make me smile.  :D

 

Chapter 20 - Once Upon a Time by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which we've got one more part for the storybook...

 

“Of all the ways we’ve traveled since we got here, I think that was my favorite,” Chris said, as he and Darren stepped out of their Cheermaid-drawn clamshell and onto the riverbank.  “Thanks, girls.”

 

The Cheermaids waved goodbye and disappeared back down the river toward the sea, while Chris and Darren continued their journey on foot.  It was dusk by the time they reached the outskirts of the Thornbush Pit.

 

“This is it,” Chris said excitedly.  “Once we find the saber from the deepest sea, we’ll have everything we need for the Wishing Spell, and we can finally go home.”

 

“Yeah,” Darren responded, sounding strangely subdued.  “But we’d better wait for morning, don’t you think?  It’s going to be too dark for us to see anything down there.”

 

“I guess you’re right.  How about you make a fire, and I’ll scope this place out.  That pit has to be over a mile across.  I wanna see if I can find an easy way down into it.”

 

Darren nodded his agreement, and Chris set off around the edge of the Thornbush Pit.  It was even more massive than he’d imagined, as if someone had taken the Grand Canyon and filled it to the brim with brambles.  The long, sharp thorns on the dead brush looked daunting enough, but the way the living vines slithered about like snakes in search of prey was truly horrifying.

 

It took Chris nearly an hour to complete his circuit of the pit.  By the time he returned to his starting point, darkness had fully fallen.  Darren had succeeded in building a campfire, and was now sitting with his back to Chris, a short distance away.  He was strumming the womandolin, and singing a song Chris didn’t recognize.

 

"The End" never seemed like it was good enough

Two little words seemed too small

I turned the page to find a blank one

As if the ones before never really happened at all

 

Chris quietly drew a little closer, not wanting to interrupt the song.

 

But what about the love, what about the old obsessions

We fell into when they were new?

What about the late at night heartfelt confessions?

The things we tried, the tears we cried

Well they seem to hide away

 

There was a plaintive quality to Darren’s voice that Chris found oddly compelling.

 

I got one more part for the storybook

One more road that I should've took

One more thing that used to have my heart

I got one more place in my memory

Where I wish with every part of me

I could go back, go back to the start

 

As Chris listened, entranced, he found himself wondering who the original artist for this song was.

 

I know it's too far down

And much too high to climb

But why can't we bring it on back

To once upon a time?

 

Darren had such an amazing repertoire, he seemed to be able to pull out a song he knew to fit any occasion.

 

Here we are, standing at the finish line

And I swear it's like we came a million miles

And if I take one more step I will forget the rivers we've crossed

Our happy ending will be lost if we say goodbye

 

Chris felt a sudden, sharp pang as the reality of those words struck him. 

 

What about the way our fable wasn't fiction?

It was real to you, it was real to me

So what about this lovely contradiction

We were never sure of what we were

But we knew we could never be

 

This song was starting to hit much too close to home. 

 

And now I got one more part for the storybook

One more road that I should've took

One more thing that used to have my heart

I got one more place in my memory

Where I wish with every part of me

I could go back, go back to the start

 

The passion in Darren’s voice made all of the little hairs on Chris’s body stand on end.

 

But I know it's too far down

And much too high to climb

Why can't we bring it on back to once upon a time?

 

Suddenly a terrifying thought occurred to Chris.  What if this wasn’t just a crush?

 

But what about the way our fable wasn't fiction?

It was real to you, it was real to me

So what about the ups and downs and all the lessons?

The things we learned, the stones we turned,

Well, that bridge has burned away

 

What if he was actually falling for Darren?

 

And now it's just one more part for the storybook

One more road that I should've took

One more thing that used to have my heart

 

What if he was setting himself up to get his heart broken, and to lose one of his best friends in the process?

 

Yeah, I know it's too far down

And much too high to climb

Oh, I just wish we could bring it on back

To that once upon a time

 

Chris gave himself a mental shake.  He knew that his friendship with Darren was something precious, and he didn’t want to fuck it up – literally or figuratively. 

 

Na na na na na na na na na

Na na na na na

Na na na na na na na na na…

 

As Chris stepped forward into the firelight, Darren allowed his song to trail off.  “Oh, I didn’t realize you were back.”

 

“That was beautiful.  Who’s it by?”

 

Darren hesitated for a moment, and there was something tentative in his voice when he answered.  “It’s mine, actually…  The idea’s been kicking around in my head for the past couple of days, and now that I’ve got an instrument I thought I’d work on it a little bit.”

 

“Wow.  I’d tell you that you’re really talented, but I wouldn’t want your head to get any bigger than it already is.  It would look too out of proportion with your hobbit-sized body,” Chris said, his attempt at humor sounding awkward in his own ears.

 

Darren grinned at him, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes.

 

Oh, god, Chris thought, I’ve just now realized how I feel about him, and I’m already making things uncomfortable between us.  Act normal, act normal, act normal…  Shit!  I can’t remember how I normally act…

 

While Chris was internally berating himself, Darren placed the womandolin in the little case Brittany had given him and rose to his feet, muttering something about needing to stretch his legs.  Before Chris could respond, Darren had left the circle of firelight.

 

Chris let out a sigh.  He didn’t like the idea of Darren wandering around in the dark on his own, especially so near the Thornbush Pit.  But he reminded himself that Darren was wearing one of the magic shell necklaces that Brittany had given them, which, in addition to protecting him from the vines, would also provide a little light. 

 

Chris wrapped himself in the woolen blanket and lay down by the fire, staring up at the stars.  His mind was reeling, leaving him feeling dizzy and sick to his stomach.  Were these feelings he was having for Darren real? 

 

Although he was living in a fairy tale world, Chris just couldn’t imagine this journey ending with a “happily ever after.”  And part of him wished that it didn’t have to end at all. 

 

Chris knew, though, that he had to get back home.  Home to Brian, to his family, to his friends, to his career – to a life that was, in many ways, just as magical as the one he was experiencing here.  That had to be his first priority.  Once he was back in the real world, there would be plenty of time for him to figure out how he truly felt about Darren.      

 

Hoping that whatever awkwardness he’d created would have blown over by morning, Chris closed his eyes, and, though he didn’t expect to, soon fell asleep.

 

End Notes:

 

Sorry about the angst.  It pains me to write, but it’s necessary for the story progression.  So hold onto your hats, ‘cause the next few chapters are going to be a bumpy ride.

Although Darren didn’t unveil “Once Upon a Time” until almost a year later, during his Listen Up Tour, this is clearly when he wrote it.  In case there’s anyone out there who hasn’t heard it yet, here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUdoyTmC4iE

 

 

Chapter 21 - And the Old Vine Twined by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which this is a rubbish of human rind...

 

Chris awoke before dawn the next morning to find Darren pressed up against his back.  Feeling Chris stir, Darren wrapped his arms more tightly around him, murmuring “It’s too early.  Go back to sleep.”

 

Chris relaxed into his friend’s embrace, immensely relieved that things seemed to be back to normal between them.  He allowed himself to drift back off to sleep.

 

The next time Chris opened his eyes, the sun was up, and so was Darren.  He’d stirred the embers of their fire back to life, and was roasting a couple of fish on sticks that looked suspiciously as though they’d come from the Thornbush Pit.

 

“Good morning,” Darren said, when he noticed that Chris was awake.  “I didn’t know how long the fish Brittany gave us would keep, so I thought we should eat them now, even though they’re not really breakfast food.”

 

“Sounds good.  Do we have any bread left?”

 

“Yeah, but we’re almost out of just about everything else.”

 

“Well, with any luck this will be our last meal here.  So let’s eat it all.”

 

Their breakfast was a strange hodge-podge of leftover bits of this and that, but Chris didn’t mind.  He was just glad that the weird vibes from the night before seemed to have dissipated.  He and Darren didn’t say much as they ate, but at least they were once again able to meet each other’s eyes.

 

After breakfast, Chris led Darren around to the far side of the Thornbush Pit, where he’d noticed on his previous evening’s reconnaissance mission that the sides were less steep.    As they made their way down into the crater, Chris and Darren were relieved to find that their shell necklaces were effective in repelling the living vines, but they still had to be extremely careful to avoid being cut by the thorns on the dead brush. 

 

Chris had an advantage over the twins he’d written about in his book, since he knew exactly what the saber from the deepest sea would look like.  Still, it took him and Darren a long time to locate it amongst all of the other detritus that people had tossed into the pit.  Finally, though, Chris’s hand closed around its hilt, and he held it up in triumph.

 

“Great,” Darren said.  “Let’s get out of here.  This place is giving me the willies.”

 

“The willies?”

 

“Yeah.  You know.  The willies.  Like the heebie- jeebies.   That skin-crawling, I don’t care what you call it but get me the fuck out of this place right now, feeling.”

 

 “Oh.  The willies.  Right.  Well, let’s go.”

 

Climbing back out of the Thornbush Pit was more of a challenge than climbing down in had been.  Chris and Darren had wandered around so much searching for the saber that they couldn’t retrace their steps, and everywhere they looked, the sides of the pit seemed to rise straight up to the sky.  They finally chose a spot that at least seemed to have plenty of dead brush to use as hand and footholds, and began their ascent.

 

 It was hard going.  Chris felt as if they were scaling a rock-climbing wall designed by sadists.  It was almost impossible to make a move without being scratched or poked by thorns, and several times he barely avoided impaling his hand while searching for a hold.

 

At last, they neared the top.  “Almost there,” Chris breathed in relief.

 

As Darren turned to answer him, a long, sharp thorn caught his necklace and ripped it from his neck.  Chris watched in horror as it fell to the floor of the pit, where it shattered.  Instantly, the light in his own necklace went out.

 

“Shit!” Darren cried.

 

“Hurry!” Chris urged.  “We can make it!”

 

They scrambled upwards as quickly as they could, heedless of the thorns lacerating their skin.  Their fingertips had just reached the top when the living vines, no longer repelled by the magic shell necklaces, seized their ankles and began to drag them back down. 

 

Chris plunged the saber into the ground outside the mouth of the pit, and he and Darren held on to it for dear life.  Attracted by the struggle, more vines slithered over to wrap themselves around their prey.  Darren lost his grip on the saber and began to fall back into the pit, but Chris grabbed hold of him just in time.

 

Chris felt as though he were being torn in two.  His left hand was clenched around the hilt of the saber, and his right hand was clutching Darren’s wrist.  He knew he couldn’t hold onto both much longer.   

 

There was nothing in this world – or any other – that could make Chris let go of Darren.  As the pull of the vines became too great to resist, he slowly allowed the handle of the saber to slip through his fingers…

 

 

End Notes:

Oooh…  Worst cliffhanger yet!  What do you think will happen next?

P.S.  10,141,894 bonus points to anyone who knows where I got the title of this chapter.  I’ll give you a hint – as a teenager, I memorized a lot of poetry, and apparently some of it is still rattling around in my brain…

 

Chapter 22 - Friends Close, Enemies Closer by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which many characters reappear, for better or worse...

 

As Chris released his grip on the saber, he felt a cold, clammy hand grab onto his, hauling him and Darren out of the pit.

 

“Froggy!”

 

“Hello again.”

 

“Good thing I was right about you,” Chris panted.  “You really are a hero.”

 

Darren struggled to his feet and clasped Froggy in a hug.  “Yeah.  Thanks, man!”

 

“No problem,” Froggy replied, beaming.

 

As soon as he let go of Froggy, Darren wrapped his arms around Chris and held him close.  Both men were trembling slightly.  Darren hooked his chin over Chris’s shoulder and murmured in his ear, “Thank you, too.”

 

Chris gave him a final squeeze before stepping back and aiming for a casual tone.  “Well, that’s what friends are for, right?”

 

Darren’s eyes seemed to dim a little, but Chris told himself he was just imagining things. 

 

“How did you find us?” he asked Froggy.

 

“The Cheermaids pointed me in the right direction.  I’ve been trying to track you two down all week.  The Fairy Godfather wants to see you.  He promised to change me back to my original form if I’d bring you to him.”

 

“Fairy Godfather?”

 

“Yeah.  He’s a good guy, but he can be kind of intense.  I don’t want to cross him.  You’ll come with me, right?”

 

Chris hesitated, glancing over at Darren.  “Well, we just collected the final item for the Wishing Spell.  We were planning on –”

 

 “Of course we’ll come with you!” Darren cut in.  “You just saved our lives.”

 

Chris nodded.  “Yeah, it’s the least we can do.”

 

Froggy’s wide mouth grew even wider as his face broke into a smile.

 

Suddenly the air was split by a piercing scream.  Chris, Darren, and Froggy all turned toward the sound.  A familiar buckskin horse galloped into view – it was Rum Chocolate Soufflé, with Kurt Hummelocks on her back.  And being dragged along the ground behind them, caught in a rope tied to the horse’s saddle, was a loudly protesting Queen Red Riding Hood.

 

Although her trademark hooded cape, over myriad cushioning layers of fancy clothing, fully protected Rachel’s body, she was clearly suffering a dreadful injury to her pride.  As she bumped along in the dust raised by Rum Chocolate Soufflé’s pounding hooves, she let out another ear-splitting shriek. 

 

“I order you to release me at once!  How dare you treat me like this?  I’m a queen!  Do you have any idea what my soldiers are going to do to you when they catch you?”

 

“Shut up, you red-hooded harlot!” Kurt snapped, reining Rum Chocolate Soufflé to a halt near the edge of the Thornbush Pit.

 

Darren glanced between Kurt and Rachel with a mixture of concern and amusement.  “Do you need a hand?”

 

“Nope, just taking out the trash,” Kurt replied nonchalantly.

 

“Why are you three just standing there?” Rachel cried, struggling to her feet.  “Help me!”

 

“What’s going on?” Froggy asked.

 

“Can’t you see with those giant, bulging frog eyes?  This lunatic is going to kill me!”

 

“Yes, I am.”

 

“Wait, why do you want to kill Queen Red Riding Hood?”

 

“Because I finally found out who set me up, all those years ago, with that phony invitation to a tea party at the Three Bears’ house.  It was her!”

 

“It was a joke!  Can’t you take a joke?” Rachel pleaded.

 

“That was no joke!  You wrote that card, telling me to go on in and make myself at home while I waited for my hosts to arrive.  I was expecting a trio of cute, friendly, talking animals.  Well, imagine my surprise when three burly guys showed up, and they were not interested in sitting down for tea and crumpets!  I barely escaped without being mauled.  And then they had the nerve to press charges against me for breaking and entering.  I’ve been on the run ever since, and it’s all because you wanted to steal my boyfriend!”

 

As he spoke, Kurt had been pushing Rachel closer and closer to the Thornbush Pit.  The vines within were writhing with excitement at the prospect of a meal.  Just as she was about to topple into the pit, Rachel dodged to the side and took off at a run.  Kurt drew his sai swords before setting off in pursuit.

 

Rachel headed for the ruins of an ancient castle that had once stood beside the Thornbush Pit.  Nothing was left of it but a few crumbling walls and a stony staircase that led into thin air.  Twirling his swords with deadly intent, Kurt forced Rachel up the stairs.  She lost her footing at the top, and tumbled down toward the pit.

 

Just as Rachel was about to be swallowed up by the waiting vines, a rope shot out of nowhere and lassoed her.  While everyone’s attention had been focused on the drama playing out between Kurt and Rachel, Santana had ridden up on a black horse, and was now galloping away, dragging Rachel behind her. 

 

“Son of a witch!” Kurt exclaimed.  “Who was that woman?”

 

“She’s the Huntsman’s daughter, and I think she’s working for the Evil Queen,” Chris explained.

 

Before Kurt could respond, Froggy let out a distressed gasp.  “Oh, no!”

 

The Big Bad Wolf Pack was approaching, looking bigger, and badder, and even wolfier than ever.  Kurt stepped protectively in front of the others, sai swords held high.

 

“Well, well, well,” Rick the Stick growled.  “We’ve finally caught up with our quarry, and it looks like we’ll get to bring in Kurt Hummelocks as an added bonus.  The Evil Queen will be pleased with us tonight.”

 

Kurt looked around at the encircling pack.   One thing he’d learned during his years as an outlaw was to pick his battles, and with dozens of wolves in front of him and the Thornbush Pit at his back, this was clearly not one that he was going to win.  Leaning close to Froggy and Rum Chocolate Soufflé, he whispered, “We’ll be safe until they bring us to the Evil Queen.  You two go for help.”

 

With mighty leaps, the horse and the frog soared over the wolves’ heads.  A couple of the wolves turned to give chase, but Rick the Stick called them back. 

 

“Let them go.  It’s these three that the Evil Queen is interested in.  And unfortunately, she’ll only reward us if we bring them to her alive.”

 

Then, turning to his prisoners, he added menacingly, “But I’ll bet you could survive without a few of your limbs.  So come along quietly, or I’ll let my pack have a little snack on our journey.”

 

Kurt sheathed his swords and adopted a docile posture that Chris didn’t quite find convincing.  One of the wolves picked up the sheepskin satchel in his mouth, and the rest of the pack bared their teeth as they herded the captives away from the pit.

 

Darren reached for Chris’s hand, interlacing their fingers.  Surrounded by vicious wolves, who had taken possession of all of the Wishing Spell items, Chris supposed he should be feeling a combination of terror and despair.  All of that seemed strangely insignificant, though, as he focused on the feeling of Darren’s hand in his…

 

End Notes:

If you’d like to see Chris Colfer (wearing a tank top!) twirling his sai swords, check out this link:   http://web.stagram.com/p/669795871540762364_319363444

You’re welcome.  ;D

I only need to complete a few more chapters to wrap up this story.  Please help keep me motivated by writing me some reviews.  :D

 

Chapter 23 - Heart of Stone by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which the Evil Queen lives up to her title...

 

After a long and silent march – punctuated only by the growls of the wolves if one of their prisoners showed the slightest inclination to make a sound or step out of line – the travelers arrived at a decrepit castle.  The wolves began to howl, and a drawbridge was slowly lowered across the moat.

 

A tall man, dressed in animal skins and carrying a crossbow, came out to meet them.  As he drew near, Chris recognized the Huntsman as Will Schuester.

 

“The Evil Queen is waiting for you,” the Huntsman said.  “Come with me.”

 

Surrounded by the wolves, whose fur all seemed to be standing on end at the mention of the Evil Queen, Chris, Darren, and Kurt followed Will into the run-down castle.  He led them through a dusty, cobweb-festooned corridor, and into a great hall.

 

As they entered the hall, all eyes immediately fell on the Evil Queen.  Chris had to suppress an inappropriate fit of giggles when he saw that she was wearing a bright red tracksuit.  Apparently you could take Sue Sylvester out of Glee, but you couldn’t get her out of that costume.

 

“You’re late!” the Evil Queen snapped.  “You wolves should be wetting yourselves with shame!”

 

Several of the wolves looked as if they were, indeed, about to wet themselves – if not with shame, then with fear.  Rick the Stick, however, gathered his courage and growled, “We’ve brought you the two men you asked for, and we’re throwing in Kurt Hummelocks as a bonus.  Now give us Queen Red Riding Hood, like you promised.”

 

“You’ll get her when I’m satisfied.  And I am NOT satisfied.  Give me that!” she demanded, grabbing the sheepskin satchel out of the mouth of a terrified wolf. 

 

As she held up the satchel, the Evil Queen wrinkled her nose in disgust.  “Eww.  Even your breath stinks of mediocrity.  There’d better not be any drool on the Wishing Spell items, or I’m going to have a whole wardrobe full of new fur-trimmed tracksuits.”

 

There was some discontented grumbling from the wolves, but the Evil Queen silenced them with a scornful glare.  “I want you all to sniff your own butts.  That’s the smell of failure, and it’s stinking up my castle.  Now go wait outside!

 

The wolves slunk away, and the Evil Queen turned her attention to the Huntsman.  “What are you waiting for?  Why aren’t my prisoners tied up yet?  Worst henchman ever!”

 

“I’m sorry, My Queen,” Will said obsequiously.  “My daughter and I will take care of that right away.”

 

Tearing his eyes away from the spectacle of Evil Queen Sue, Chris noticed Santana standing on the far side of the room, next to a chair on which a bound and gagged Rachel was sitting forlornly.  Santana strode over and seized Kurt, who was obviously the biggest threat amongst them.  Holding a dagger to his throat, she forced him into a chair that was back-to-back with Rachel’s.  Then she tied his hands behind his back and his ankles to the legs of the chair.

 

Chris and Darren stood rooted to the spot, as the Huntsman kept his crossbow trained on them.  Once she was finished with Kurt, Santana gave Chris and Darren the same treatment, tying them in back-to-back chairs as well.    

 

“That’s more like it,” Sue gloated, as she surveyed her captives.  “You imbeciles are helpless, and I’m engorged with venom and triumph.  Now, let’s see if you’ve managed to collect all of the items I need for my wish.”

 

Sue opened up the sheepskin satchel and began removing the Wishing Spell items.  She held each one up and examined it before placing it on a black cloth draped over a nearby table.  The last thing she removed from the satchel was the tiny glass vial containing the tears of Warbler Trent.

 

“Ah,” Sue crowed.  “Once these tears touch the cloth, the Wishing Spell will be complete, and I will be granted the deepest desire of my stone cold heart.”

 

While Sue had been focused on the Wishing Spell items, Chris had managed to surreptitiously wiggle one foot free.  Now, as she stood poised to remove the stopper, he gave a high kick that would have made Zach Woodlee proud, knocking the vial from her hand.

 

Everyone stared as the vial flew into the air, and then arced back down toward the hard stone floor.  Will leapt to catch it, but he was too late.  The vial shattered, and the tears were lost.

 

Sue turned furiously on Will.  “How could you miss that?!!  Are you trying to make me horny with rage?!!”

 

“I’m sorry, My Queen.  It was an innocent mistake.”

 

“And what if I were to just innocently murder you, Will?  I’d still have to go to trial.  Probably get off with justifiable homicide.  But what does that matter?  I’m already the most wanted fugitive in the land.”  Then, glancing at Kurt, she added, “No offense to you, Porcelain.”

 

“None taken.  You’re welcome to the title.”

 

“And you!” Sue snarled, turning on Santana.  “I knew you were dumb, but I didn’t realize you were stupid.  What part of tying up the prisoners didn’t you understand?  ‘Cause it seems to be the part where they’re supposed to stay tied up!”

 

Santana’s eyes flashed, but she said nothing. 

 

“Well, apparently, if I want anything done right around here, I’ll have to do it myself,” Sue complained, binding Chris’s leg to the chair with a ridiculously long rope worked into a series of elaborate knots.

 

Once she was certain that Chris was properly restrained, Sue turned back to Will.  “How long will it take you and your loser of a daughter to get me some more tears from one of those preposterous singing prepprechauns?”

 

“If we leave right away, we could be back by tomorrow afternoon, My Queen.”

 

“Unacceptable!  There has to be a way for me to get my wish today.”

 

A wicked gleam came into Sue’s eyes as she glanced from Darren, to Chris, and then back again…

 

End Notes:

 

Oh, isn’t Sue just deliciously evil?  What do you think she has in mind?  Write me some reviews, and I’ll tell all in the next chapter.  ;D

 

Chapter 24 - The Mirror of True Love by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which we get a glimpse into our characters' hearts...

 

The Evil Queen strode over to the wall and pulled aside a faded tapestry, revealing a full-length mirror with an ornate golden frame.  For a moment, the mirror reflected the room she was occupying, along with her four prisoners – Chris, Darren, Kurt, and Rachel – and her two henchmen – Will and Santana.  Then the surface of the glass began to ripple, swirling with an otherworldly smoke. 

 

“You may have heard of my magic mirror,” Sue began, with a tone that immediately commanded the attention of everyone in the room.  “But no one knows how I came to possess it.  Let me tell you a little story…

 

“When I was a young girl, I didn’t see much of my parents.  They were famous dragon hunters, so they didn’t have time for mundane things like raising kids.  My sister, Jean, and I were left to fend for ourselves.

 

“Jean was the kindest, most wonderful person in the world.  But because she was special, because she didn’t look and sound just like everyone else, the villagers ridiculed and tormented her.   The older we got, the more it broke my heart to realize that no one but me could see how truly amazing Jean was. 

 

“So I asked my old buddy, old pal, old friend the Enchantress for help.  I begged her to cast a spell so that everyone would be able to see Jean the way I did.  …  Well, let me give you all a little piece of advice.  Never trust anyone who calls herself ‘The Enchantress.’

 

“She cast a spell all right.  But it was more like a curse.  She told me that all my life I’d only ever seen Jean as a reflection of the best parts of myself.  So she trapped Jean in this mirror, where she’s been doomed to spend eternity.  And every little bit of kindness or love or compassion I may have ever felt has been trapped with her.

 

“That’s how I became the Evil Queen, and my sister became the Mirror of True Love.  I no longer have a heart, but she can see into the hearts of everyone who gazes into her eyes.”

 

As she finished speaking, Sue took the mirror down from the wall and carefully propped it up in front of each member of her audience in turn.  When she reached Chris, he was fascinated to see the smoke on the surface of the glass part to reveal Jean Sylvester, looking exactly as he remembered her from Glee.  As he gazed into her kind, knowing eyes, Chris felt a strange frisson of fear. 

 

Sue leaned the mirror up against the table on which the Wishing Spell items – minus the tears of a Warbler – were laid out on the black cloth.   For several minutes she appeared to be holding a wordless conversation with her sister.  Finally she said aloud, “Well, Jean, this next part might not be pretty, so why don’t you go have a little nap?”

 

The smoke swirled more heavily for a moment before the mirror once again simply reflected the room around them.  As soon as her sister was out of view, and presumably out of earshot, Sue reverted to her Evil Queen persona.

 

“Well, well, well…  Who wants to know what my sister told me about you?  Hm?  How about you, Porcelain?  Apparently your true love is a hobbit who’s clearly overcompensating for something by toting around a big ax.”

 

Kurt merely rolled his eyes at this, but Rachel (the only one of them who had been gagged, for reasons that were immediately clear to everyone present) let out a furious stream of muffled complaints.

 

“Oooh,” the Evil Queen cooed mockingly.  “Does Wittle Wed Widing Hood have a pwoblem with that?  Well, I hate to break it to you, granny’s girl, but you and that hobbit were never meant to be.  In fact, your true love is an overgrown amphibian.  The mirror never lies.”   

 

As Rachel’s eyes widened in horror, Sue turned her attention to Santana.  “And what are you smirking at?  Your true love is some kind of fish – in more ways than one.  You’ll make a perfect pair – Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Fake-Boobs.”

 

“Don’t talk to my daughter like that,” Will said, finally showing a tiny hint of backbone.

 

Sue just laughed in his face.  “And you!  At least your true love is ostensibly human, but she’s got a bird-like pelvis, the eyes of a bush baby, and hair like one of those little mop-dogs that I thoroughly enjoy kicking.  So good luck with that.” 

 

“And now we come to the fun part,” Sue smirked, bringing out four wide black scarves, with which she blindfolded and gagged Chris and Darren.  “Are you familiar with the saying ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil?’  Well, we’re going to have to settle for two out of three right now, because I definitely want you to hear what I have to say.”

 

A feeling of dread washed over Chris.  This was not how he wanted Darren to find out about his feelings.

 

“Your psychosexual derangement would be fascinating if it weren’t so terrifying,” Sue continued, obviously delighted to be the bearer of uncomfortable news.  “This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like it.  For as long as Jean has been the Mirror of True Love, she’s always shown me two people – no matter how misshapen or undeserving – who were meant to be together.  So this is something new.”   

 

Chris flashed back to Kurt’s reaction when Burt introduced “the sex talk.”  What he wouldn’t give to be able to put his fingers in his ears right now and chant “La la la la…”  But sitting there – bound, gagged, and blindfolded – he was literally at the Evil Queen’s mercy.  And, unfortunately, she didn’t have any.

 

“Imagine my surprise when I saw that you’re in love with this idiot, who’s sitting right behind you, who could never love you back.”

 

Chris could feel the fingertips of Darren’s bound hands reaching out to him, but he pulled his own hands away, curling in on himself protectively.  At this moment he just couldn’t bear the thought of Darren’s pity.

 

“So here you are, deluding yourself into thinking that maybe someday this could turn into something more than friendship.  And you know what the ironic thing is?  Now that he knows how you feel about him, he won’t even want to be your friend any more.  ‘Cause he’s never going to be able to look at you again without seeing your pathetic, hopeless, one-sided love.  Like I said, the mirror never lies.”

 

Chris felt the sting of tears, and was grateful for the blindfold that hid his eyes.  He wished in that moment that his own heart was made of stone, so he wouldn’t feel it breaking.

 

Cackling in triumph, Sue whipped the blindfolds from Chris and Darren’s eyes, casting the scarves down onto the table with the Wishing Spell items.  Suddenly, a golden light began swirling above them.  The Evil Queen had activated the Wishing Spell.

 

End Notes:

Please review.  J

 

Chapter 25 - Collapse by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which the walls come tumbling down...

 

 “Once a Warbler, always a Warbler,” Sue crowed, as the golden light from the Wishing Spell items swirled higher and higher.  “All my years of waiting and plotting have finally borne fruit.  I wish for my sister to be reunited with me!

 

Sue fell to her knees in an uncharacteristically supplicating posture.  The golden light shot towards the Mirror of True Love, in which Jean had been imprisoned.  The mirror wobbled, and then fell forward on top of Sue, swallowing her whole before shattering into a million pieces as it hit the stone floor. 

 

Will and Santana stared with a mixture of horror and relief at the place where the Evil Queen had been.  Nothing remained of her but the faint reflection of a red tracksuit in the tiny shards of glass that littered the floor.

 

“Well,” Kurt quipped, breaking the silence, “I guess she got her wish.”

 

Santana broke into a completely uncharacteristic fit of giggles.  Will stared at her in shock for a moment before joining in.

 

“So,” Kurt said conversationally, once their laughter had died down, “since you’re no longer the Evil Queen’s henchmen, how about you untie us?”

 

The Huntsman looked to his daughter, who shrugged.  “Okay,” Will said.  “I don’t see why not.  So long as you don’t plan us any harm.”

 

“Don’t worry,” Kurt assured him.  “I’m not holding any grudges.  All I care about now is being reunited with my True Love.”

 

At this declaration, Rachel let out a muffled stream of objections.  Chris couldn’t tell whether she was trying to express anger and disbelief about the fact that the Mirror had confirmed that Kurt and Blaine were meant to be together, or whether she was trying to beg Will and Santana not to untie Kurt for fear that he was still planning on killing her, but either way, the gag was only effective at garbling her words, not erasing her shrillness.

 

Rachel’s incoherent protest was interrupted by a booming voice coming from outside the castle.  “Evil Queen!  I am Sir Cooper, commander of Queen Snow White’s Royal Guard!  My soldiers have vanquished your Big Bad Wolf Pack!  Surrender immediately, or we will open fire with our cannons!”

 

“Now would be a good time to untie us,” Kurt urged, “so that we can go out there and explain what happened.  So long as you let us go now, no one’s going to blame you for what you did before, while you were obviously under some kind of spell cast by the Evil Queen.”

 

Chris and Darren, still gagged, nodded their agreement.  Will rushed to untie Darren, while Santana freed Kurt.  Then all four of them went to work on the devilishly intricate knots that Sue had used to bind Chris after he had kicked the vial out of her hand.

 

As they struggled to release Chris from his bonds, there was a BOOM from outside, and the whole castle shook with the impact of the first cannonball.  Darren, Kurt, Santana, and Will redoubled their efforts, but it was hard for them to keep their fingers steady as the old castle began falling down around them.    

 

BOOM!  BOOM!  BOOM!  Cannonballs began smashing through the walls of the great hall, and chunks of the stone ceiling rained down.  Darren finally managed to free Chris’s hands, and Chris pulled the gag out of his own mouth.

 

“Why don’t you just try to cut the rope?” Chris suggested, after trying in vain to untie the fiendishly convoluted knots with which the Evil Queen had ensnared him.

 

“The rope’s pressing too tightly into your skin,” Kurt replied.  “I don’t think I could slice through it without severing one of your arteries.”

 

Chris blanched at that. 

 

Just then, Froggy came leaping into the room, followed by Blaine on Rum Chocolate Soufflé.  Rachel let out a high-pitched “Mmff,  mmff, mmff!”

 

Froggy hopped over and quickly untied her.  As soon as the gag was out of her mouth, Rachel kissed his cheek.  “Oh, my!” she gasped.  “What slimy skin you have.  But thank you for coming to rescue me.”

 

Froggy blushed a darker shade of green.  “Let me carry you to safety,” he croaked, scooping Rachel up and bounding out of the room with her in his arms.

 

Meanwhile, Blaine had slid down from Rum Chocolate Soufflé’s back and flung his arms around Kurt.  “Oh, thank heaven you’re alright!  When Rum Chocolate Soufflé showed up alone, I knew you needed help.  Come on – let’s get out of here before the whole castle collapses on top of us.”

 

“Wait!” Darren cried.  “We’ve got to untie Chris!”

 

“There’s no time,” Blaine insisted.  “Sir Cooper is hell-bent on demolishing this place.  Let’s just pick up the chair and carry him.”

 

Grabbing the high back of the massive, solid wooden chair, Darren tipped it backward until Chris’s head was resting near his chest.  Kurt and Blaine took the legs on opposite sides of the chair, and Will and Santana supported the seat.  The chair weighed a ton, but together they managed to maneuver it out of the rapidly crumbling castle.  

 

The fusillade of cannon fire had ceased, since Froggy and Rachel must have alerted the soldiers to the fact that the Evil Queen was gone, but the damage to the castle had been done.  As the rescuers carried Chris’s chair across the drawbridge, there was a final, shuddering FWOOMPH!  They turned their heads to see the entire structure collapse into its foundation.

 

The shockwave from the imploding castle splintered the drawbridge, casting Chris, Darren, Kurt, Blaine, Santana, and Will into the cold, deep water of the moat.  As the chair to which he was bound slowly sank, Chris had just enough time to think Damn, this must be made of ironwood before he lost consciousness.  

 

End Notes:

 

Boy, these guys just can’t catch a break, huh?  You’d think that with the Evil Queen gone, everything would calm down, but nooooo.  Now Chris is sinking to the bottom of the moat.  What could possibly happen next?  Well, don’t ask me – I haven’t written any more than this.  But if you write me some reviews, I’ll try to get to work on the next chapter.  And maybe, just maybe, there’s still a way to give all of our characters the happy endings they deserve…  ;D

 

Chapter 26 - Endgame by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which couples are paired off in a musical extravaganza...

 

Huh, Chris thought dazedly, I always figured there’d be more guys in heaven… 

 

All around him, smiling female faces were swimming in and out of focus.  Finally, he saw one that he recognized.  “Brittany!”

 

“Hello, dolphin.  Thanks for coming to visit me again.  How did you know I would be here?”

 

“Um, I didn’t.  Where are we?” Chris asked, feeling disoriented.

 

“At the bottom of the moat.  My Cheermaids made this air-bubble for you, since your gills don’t seem to be working.”

 

“But what happened to the chair I was tied to?”

 

“I freed you.  My fingers are magic, you know.  Just ask Santana…  Oh, and also I’m good with knots.”

 

Chris grinned at her.  There was something very endearing about Brittany.  “Santana’s here, you know,” he told her.

 

“Yeah, that’s why I came.  I’ll do anything to get her to give me another chance.  Come on – maybe you can help me convince her.”

 

Brittany grabbed Chris’s hand and pulled him out of the air bubble, propelling the two of them rapidly upward with smooth undulations of her powerful tail.  As they neared the surface, Chris could hear a song, but it was difficult to make out the words.  Just as he felt his lungs would burst, they emerged into the fresh air, to find Santana, standing on the edge of the moat, singing. 

 

I am in misery

There ain't nobody who can comfort me

Why won't you answer me?

The silence is slowly killing me

Girl you really got me bad, you really got me bad

I'm gonna get you back, gonna get you back

 

Santana locked eyes with Brittany as she sang.

 

Your salty skin and how it mixes in with mine

The way it feels to be completely intertwined

It's not that I didn't care, it's that I didn't know

It's not what I didn't feel, it's what I didn't show

So let me be, and I'll set you free

 

I am in misery

There ain't nobody who can comfort me

Why won't you answer me?

The silence is slowly killing me

Girl you really got me bad, you really got me bad

I'm gonna get you back, gonna get you back

 

Brittany seemed to be struck dumb by the sight of her.

 

Say your faith is shaken, you may be mistaken

You keep me wide-awake and waiting for the sun

I'm desperate and confused, so far away from you

I'm getting here, don't care where I have to go

 

Why do you do what you do to me, yeah

Why won't you answer me, answer me, yeah

Why do you do what you do to me, yeah

Why won't you answer me, answer me, yeah

 

Santana reached one hand down toward the water, and Brittany grasped it tightly.

 

I am in misery

There ain't nobody who can comfort me

Why won't you answer me?

The silence is slowly killing me

Girl you really got me bad, you really got me bad

I'm gonna get you back, gonna get you back

 

As the song ended, Brittany at last found her voice.  “Will you be my sand dollar?”

 

Though Chris had no idea what she was talking about, Santana apparently understood perfectly.  “Of course,” she answered, slipping down into the moat.  The girls’ lips met in a passionate kiss, and they disappeared together beneath the surface of the water.

 

Chris suddenly became aware of his surroundings.  He hauled himself up onto the ground and lay shivering as he tried to make sense of the confusion around him.

 

Sir Cooper was shouting and pointing more dramatically than ever as he argued with Kurt, Blaine, Rachel, and Froggy a short distance away.  Chris couldn’t make out everything that was said, but the gist of it seemed to be that Kurt was under arrest, and that no one was taking this news very well, with the possible exception of Rachel.

 

Blaine turned to her, with his best puppy-dog expression.  “Queen Red, please…”

 

Rachel looked from Blaine, to Kurt, and then back again.  She was obviously torn between her desire to please Blaine and her wish to see Kurt rot in prison.  Finally she pulled herself up to her full (but diminutive) height and proclaimed, “I, Queen Red Riding Hood, do hereby pardon Kurt Hummelocks for all of the many, many crimes he has committed.”

 

Blaine threw his arms around her.  “Thanks, Red!”

 

Batting her eyelashes, Rachel replied, “Anything for you, Blaine.”

 

Kurt gave a loud snort.  “While I appreciate your pardon, Rachel, I feel the need to remind you that Blaine is my true love, not yours.  According to the mirror – which never lies – you’re meant to be with Froggy.”

 

Blushing furiously, Rachel glanced over at Froggy, and then down at the ground, stammering, “Um, not to be offensive, or anything, but don’t you think it would be a little, um, unusual, for a queen to be with a frog?”

 

Froggy cleared his throat and began to sing:

 

It's not unusual to be loved by anyone

It's not unusual to have fun with anyone

But when I see you hanging about with anyone

(Here Froggy cast a significant glance at Blaine)

It's not unusual to see me cry,

Oh I wanna' die

 

Chris was surprised to hear that although Froggy’s speaking voice had been altered by his transformation, when he sang, he still sounded exactly like Finn.

 

It's not unusual to go out at any time

But when I see you out and about it's such a crime

If you should ever want to be loved by anyone,

It's not unusual - it happens every day no matter what you say

You find it happens all the time

Love will never do what you want it to

Why can't this crazy love be mine?

 

As Froggy sang, Rachel’s expression slowly transformed from uncomfortable to intrigued to impressed.

 

It's not unusual to be mad with anyone

It's not unusual to be sad with anyone

But if I ever find that you've changed at anytime

It’s not unusual to find out that I'm in love with you

Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh

 

“Oh my,” Rachel gushed, “what a lovely singing voice you have, Froggy.  Would you like to perform a duet with me sometime?”

 

Before Froggy could answer, Sir Cooper cut in, jabbing his finger toward Rachel.  “You may be queen of the Red Riding Hood Kingdom, but you have no authority to pardon Kurt Hummelocks for all of the crimes he’s committed in other kingdoms!” he declared, sweeping his arm in a great arc to encompass the rest of the land.  He finished his gesture by pointing dramatically at Kurt and calling out to his guards, “Seize him!”

 

For a tense moment, Kurt’s hands reached for his sai swords, Blaine’s toward the hilt of his ax.  A quick look around at the hundreds of soldiers apparently changed their minds, however.  Kurt turned to Blaine with a defeated expression.

 

“This is one battle we can’t win, Blaine.  If I have to spend the rest of my life in a dungeon, at least give me the comfort of knowing that you’re free, and safe, and happy.  Go home.”   

 

Blaine stared at him incredulously.  “How could I ever be happy without you?  You’re telling me to go home?!”

 

And I am telling you

I'm not going

You're the best man

I'll ever know

There's no way I can ever go

No, no, there's no way

No, no, no, no way I'm livin’ without you

I'm not livin’ without you

I don't want to be free

I'm stayin’ I'm stayin’

And you, and you

You're gonna love me, yeah

Ohh, you're gonna love me

 

It took a moment for Chris to recognize the gorgeous, stripped down version Blaine was singing as being the same song that Mercedes had performed in season one of Glee.

 

And I am telling you

I'm not going

Even though the rough times are showin’

There's just no way

There's no way

 

We’re part of the same place

We’re part of the same time

We both share the same blood

We both have the same mind

And time, and time

We've had so much to share

No, no, no, no, no way

I'm not waking up tomorrow morning

And finding that there's nobody left

 

Chris was struck by how much Blaine was, and was not, like Darren.

 

Darlin' there's no way

No, no, no, no way

I'm livin' without you

I'm not living without you

You see there's no way

There's no way

 

Tear down the mountain

Just scream and shout

You can say what you want

I'm not walking out

Stop all the rivers

Push, strike and kill

I'm not gonna leave ya

There's no way I will

 

In that moment, with Blaine at his most passionate, Chris knew for certain that his feelings for Darren had nothing to do with character-bleed.  No matter how perfect Blaine was for Kurt (and he was perfect) Chris felt no attraction toward him.  It was only Darren who held a piece of his heart. 

 

And I am telling you

I'm not going

You're the best man

I'll ever know

There's no way I can ever, ever go

No, no, no, no way

No, no, no way I'm living without you

I'm not living without ya now

Living without ya

 

I don't want to be free

I'm stayin’ I'm stayin’

And you, and you, and you

You're gonna love me

Ohhh, you're gonna love me

Yes you are

You'll love me, yeah

Love me

Love me

Love me

Love

You're gonna love me

 

“Yes,” Kurt breathed, and in that one word was a promise of forever.

 

As the soldiers clamped manacles around Kurt’s wrists, Blaine tenderly stroked his cheek before surging forward to kiss him.  Chris felt his eyes misting up, and couldn’t bring himself to watch as the soldiers dragged Kurt away.

 

Once the commotion had died down, Chris realized that he hadn’t seen Darren anywhere.  Spotting the Huntsman standing at the edge of the moat, staring with concern at the place where his daughter had vanished, Chris stumbled over to him.

 

“Have you seen my friend?” he asked.

 

Will took a moment to shake himself out of his reverie before answering.  “Oh, yes.  He was struck in the head by a falling stone and knocked unconscious.  The soldiers are fashioning a litter to transport him to Snow White’s palace so that her royal physician can attend to him.  If he survives the journey, there’s a good chance that…”

 

Chris didn’t hear the end of Will’s sentence.  Shock muted the world, and he sunk to the ground, as darkness claimed him.

 

End Notes:

Please don’t hate me – I’m pretty sure that’s the last cliffhanger.  I’m also pretty sure I’ve only got two chapters left to write.  Keep those reviews coming, and I’ll try to get this finished within the next week or so.  :D   

Chapter 27 - For Good by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which there's something we must learn...

 

Chris awoke the next morning to find a familiar pair of hazel eyes gazing worriedly down at him.  His heart gave a momentary flutter before he realized that they weren’t the eyes he’d been hoping to see.

 

“Oh, I’m glad you’re finally awake,” Blaine said.  “You were unconscious for the whole journey to Snow White’s palace.  Her royal physician said you were suffering from hypothermia, but that you’d be fine once your body temperature returned to normal.”

 

“Where’s Darren?” Chris asked.  “Is he okay?”

 

“He’s recuperating in another wing of the palace.  He got a little bump on the head, but apparently it wasn’t too serious.  The royal physician said he must have quite a thick skull.”

 

Chris chuckled at that, feeling weak with relief at knowing that Darren was alright.

 

“He’s been asking about you,” Blaine continued.  “He wanted to come and see you, but the royal physician insisted that he stay in bed, just to be safe.”

 

Chris sighed.  Now that he knew that Darren was okay, he realized that he actually was not looking forward to their next encounter.  They’d had no chance to talk since the Evil Queen’s revelations, and Chris dreaded seeing the pity he was sure would be in Darren’s eyes.     

 

Noticing Chris’s expression, Blaine asked, “What’s wrong?”

 

Chris felt odd about opening up to a virtual stranger, but from what he knew of Blaine, Chris thought he’d be a pretty good listener. 

 

“Did Kurt tell you about the Mirror of True Love?” Chris asked.

 

Blaine’s face lit up with a huge smile.  “Yes.  He said it showed that we’re meant to be together.  Which, of course, I already knew.  But it’s nice to have it confirmed.”

 

“Did he tell you what it revealed about me?”

 

“No.”

 

“Well, basically, Darren’s my true love, but I’m not his.  Which I sort of already knew, but that is not the kind of thing you want to have confirmed.  Especially not in front of the object of your hopeless affection.”

 

Blaine’s eyes filled with compassion.  “Oh, Chris, I’m so sorry.”

 

“Yeah, well, it sucks to be me.  And the worst part is, the Evil Queen said that now that Darren knows how I feel, he won’t even want to be my friend anymore.  Which I really hope isn’t true, but I’m afraid that it might be.”

 

“You should go and talk to him.”

 

“Oh god, it’s going to be so awkward!  I just can’t right now.”

 

“Well, I’m going to go and at least let him know that you’re okay.  He’s been really worried.”

 

“Thanks, Blaine.”

 

Blaine gave Chris’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze before walking out the door.  Chris lay in bed awhile longer, trying to make sense of all of the different feelings churning within him – relief that Darren wasn’t badly injured, anger at Sue for using his heartbreak for her own aims, worry over how they’d get home now that the Wishing Spell was no longer a possibility, and, over it all, a numbing sense of grief at the loss of something he’d never really had.

 

At last, Chris forced himself to get up.  He’d never been one for wallowing in self-pity.  He told himself that no matter how bad things seemed right now, he would get through this, just as he’d gotten through all of the other challenges he’d faced in his life.      

 

Chris decided that the best thing to do would be to focus on helping someone whose circumstances were even worse than his own at the moment, so he made his way down to the dungeon to see Kurt.

 

“Hey,” Kurt greeted him.  “Thanks for coming to visit me.  The guards won’t let Blaine in.  I think they’re afraid we’d use the opportunity to plot my escape.”

 

Chris smiled at him.  “Well, wouldn’t you?”

 

“Probably.  If we could stop kissing long enough to speak, that is.”

 

Chris’s smile faltered.

 

“What’s wrong?” Kurt asked.

 

“I just wish I could have what you and Blaine have.”

 

“Why can’t you?”

 

“You heard what the Evil Queen said.  And the Mirror of True Love never lies.”

 

“The mirror may never lie, but the Evil Queen sure as hell did.  I’ve seen the way Darren looks at you.  It’s exactly the same way Blaine looks at me.  In fact, it’s kind of spooky how similar it makes them seem.”

 

Chris was saved the trouble of formulating a reply by the arrival of Rachel.  She flounced in, looking extraordinarily pleased with herself. 

 

“I had a little chat with Snow White, queen to queen, and she just happened to mention where the keys to your cell were kept, and when the guards would be on their tea break.  So here I am!”

 

Whipping a large iron key ring out of the voluminous folds of her cloak, Rachel unlocked Kurt’s cell door.  “Ta da!”

 

Kurt seemed to be frozen with disbelief.

 

“Well don’t just stand there,” Rachel ordered.  “Here, put on this spare cape and draw the hood up over your face.  You can pass as my much less attractive cousin.”

 

Kurt hurriedly wrapped himself in the cape and followed Rachel and Chris out of the dungeon.  As promised, the guards were nowhere to be seen.  The three stealthily made their way out of the castle and into the shelter of the nearby woods. 

 

“Why are you doing this for me?” Kurt asked.

 

“Well, I’ve been talking to Froggy, and he’s been helping me to reevaluate some of the decisions I’ve made.  You and I used to be friends, Kurt, and I threw that away out of jealousy.”  Rachel took a deep breath and began to sing. 

  

I'm limited

Just look at me - I'm limited

And just look at you

You can do all I couldn't do, Kurt Hummelocks,

So now it's up to you

For both of us

Now it's up to you

 

Kurt’s clear voice soared with the next verse.

 

I've heard it said

That people come into our lives for a reason

Bringing something we must learn

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them

And we help them in return

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true

But I know I'm who I am today

Because I knew you...

 

Like a comet pulled from orbit

As it passes a sun

Like a stream that meets a boulder

Halfway through the wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?

But because I knew you

I have been changed for good

 

Rachel’s eyes were wet as she came back in.

 

It well may be

That we will never meet again

In this lifetime

So let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made of what I learned from you

You'll be with me

Like a hand print on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have re-written mine

By being my friend...

 

Like a ship blown from its mooring

By a wind off the sea

Like a seed dropped by a sky bird

In a distant wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?

But because I knew you

 

The two voices wove in and out of each other.

 

Because I knew you

I have been changed for good

 

And just to clear the air

I ask forgiveness

For the things I've done you blame me for

But then, I guess we know

There's blame to share

And none of it seems to matter anymore

 

Like a comet pulled from orbit (Like a ship blown from its mooring)

As it passes a sun (By a wind off the sea)

Like a stream that meets a boulder (Like a seed dropped)

Halfway through the wood (By a bird in the wood)

 

Who can say if I've been

Changed for the better?

I do believe I have been

Changed for the better

 

And because I knew you

Because I knew you

Because I knew you

I have been changed for good

 

Rachel stepped forward and gave Kurt a quick hug.  “Take care of yourself,” she whispered, before hurrying back toward the castle.

 

Kurt looked a bit dumbfounded.  “Well, that was unexpected,” he said at last.

 

Just then they heard the sound of approaching hooves.  Blaine rode up on Rum Chocolate Soufflé, breaking into a wide grin as soon as he spotted Kurt.

 

“So Queen Red came through, huh?” he said, slipping from the horse’s back.

 

Kurt stepped eagerly forward into his embrace.  “Blaine…”

 

“Mmm…”

 

“I missed you.”

 

“I have something for you,” Blaine murmured, drawing a small box from his pocket.

 

“What is it?”

 

“It’s a promise ring.  I made it out of fibers from my beanstalk.”

 

“But what are you promising?”

 

“To always love you.  To defend you even if I know you’re wrong.  To surprise you… and to kiss you wherever and whenever you want.  But mostly, just to make sure that you remember how perfectly imperfect you are.  …  Now, I know it’s not something that Quinderella would wear, but–”

 

“I love it!” Kurt cried, flinging his arms around Blaine.

 

“So does this mean we’re running away together?”

 

“Are you sure you’re willing to live the life of a fugitive?”

 

“So long as we’re together, my life will be perfect.”

 

“Then yes!”

 

End Notes:

 

So this chapter had a much happier ending than the last few did.  Now there’s only one key relationship left to resolve…  Will they finally figure things out in the next chapter?  There’s only one way to find out – write me some reviews, and I’ll try to give you what we’ve all been wanting.  :D  

 

Chapter 28 - All You Need by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which there's nothing you can sing that can't be sung...

 

Chris smiled to himself as he watched Kurt and Blaine gallop away on Rum Chocolate Soufflé.  He’d always been a sucker for fairytale endings.

 

Which got him thinking…  Could Kurt be right?  Had Sue been lying?  Was it possible that Darren really did have feelings for him, after all?

 

The faint strains of guitar music came wafting through the forest.  Chris turned to see Darren approaching.  He’d apparently disobeyed the royal physician, gotten out of bed, borrowed a guitar from King Sam, and now here he was, playing an original song that Chris recognized from his EP.

 

Say, wasn't that a funny day?

Gee you had a funny way, a way about you

A kind of glow of something new

 

Darren strode right up to Chris as he sang.

 

Sure, I'll admit that I'm the same

Another sucker for a game kids like to play

And the rules we like to use

 

Giving Chris a speculative look, he began the chorus.

 

Don't you want the way I feel?

Don't you want the way I feel?

Don't you want the way I feel for you?

 

Chris swallowed hard, hoping against hope that this meant what he longed for it to mean.

 

The sun, telling me the night is done

Well I refuse to let it stop our fun

Close your eyes, we'll make it dark again

 

Chris watched, transfixed, as Darren’s gaze dropped to his lips.

 

And kiss, there's a thought so how 'bout this?

Let's pretend that both our lips are made of candy

After all we need sweets every now and then

 

At that line, Darren had the nerve to wink.

 

Don't you want the way I feel?

Don't you want the way I feel?

Don't you want the way I feel for you?

 

Chris could feel himself swaying on legs that suddenly didn’t seem to want to hold him up.

 

Well here we are two strangers in a very different place

Who knows what will happen to us next?

 

Darren glanced up at the storybook trees overhead, shrugging his shoulders.

 

Here we are with nothing but this little spark

It's too cold outside to lay this fire to rest

 

At this, Darren turned back toward Chris with a flirty grin.

 

Go, how so very apropos

A goodbye just as soon as I said hello

Well, all right, I'll see you later

It's true, it's just a fantasy for two

But what's the difference if it all could have been true?

I guess this is better

 

The teasing light in Darren’s gaze became much more earnest as he launched into the final chorus.

 

Don't you want the way I feel?

Don't you want the way I feel?

Don't you want the way I feel for you?

Oh, don't you want the way I feel?

Don't you want the way I feel?

Don't you want the way I feel for you?

 

In one smooth motion, Darren swung the guitar around to his back, and – looking Chris directly in the eyes – sang the last line a cappella.

 

Don't you want the way that I feel for you?

 

“Yes,” Chris breathed, “I do.”

 

The words were barely out of Chris’s mouth before Darren’s lips were on his, one hand at his jaw, the other around his waist, pulling their bodies tightly together.  Chris sighed into the kiss, feeling himself melting.  Tears sprang to his eyes, and he drew back slightly.

 

Cupping Darren’s cheeks, and giving him a searching look, Chris asked, “Is this real?”

 

Darren laughed, bright and open.  “Well, we’re standing in a forest outside Snow White’s palace, in a world that seems to be a mash-up between The Land of Stories and Glee, which certainly has all of the earmarks of a hallucination…  But you and me?  Us?  This is definitely real.”

 

Chris dove back in for another kiss, feeling as if his heart would burst.  He could feel Darren smiling against his lips, and soon they were both laughing.

 

“Can you believe we had to take relationship advice from Kurt and Blaine?” Chris gasped out, struck by the absurdity of the situation.

 

“Well, you know, I can be kind of oblivious sometimes.”

 

“Nooooo.  Really?” Chris snarked.

 

“Hey!  In my defense, I’ve known I love you for a long time – but I figured it was just ‘cause we’re such good friends.  And I’ve been attracted to you forever, but that seemed only natural, since you’re an attractive guy.  So it just took me awhile to put two and two together and realize they equaled I’m in love with Chris Colfer.”

 

Chris swallowed hard.  “You are?”

 

“Okay, now who’s being oblivious?” Darren teased.  Then his voice softened and he added, “Yes.  You’re my true love.  But you already knew that, right?  After all, the mirror never lies.”

 

“Wait – you thought Sue was talking to you?”

 

“Of course she was talking to me.  And she knew just what to say to get my tears for her spell.  I kept willing myself not to cry, but when you pulled your hands away from me, I just couldn’t help it.”

 

“Oh, Dare, honey, I thought she was talking to me.”

 

“God.  We’re both idiots, huh?”

 

“Yep.  C’mere, idiot,” Chris murmured, wrapping a hand around the back of Darren’s neck and pulling him in for another kiss.

 

This time it was Darren who broke away first.  “So, true love, huh?  You do realize that if we ever make it back home our fans are going to go batshit crazy, right?”

 

Chris sobered.  “Do you think you can handle that?”

 

Grinning, Darren swung his guitar back into position and launched into a song Chris had never heard before.

 

Baby I don't care

The what, when, how, or where

Folks may try to laugh and make a fuss

They'll try to make shit hard for us

But darling, I don't care

 

Darling, I don't mind

What they think they'll find

Of all the secrets they have told,

At least I've still got you to hold

So, darling I don't mind

 

Cause I'll be the one to hold you

When the nights are cold

And although I know I told you

I will tell you forevermore that

 

I don't give a damn

If they can't understand

Of all the things that we have learned

They're nothing far as I'm concerned

So I don't give a damn

 

Cause I'll be the one to hold you

When the nights are cold

And although I know I told you

I will tell you forevermore that

 

Babe, it ain't no thing

That viper venom sting

Cause even if it got your goat

I'd kiss you with the antidote

 

So babe, it ain't no thing

Darling, I don't care

Baby I don't, baby I don't mind…

 

End Notes:

At last, at last, at last!  Wow, it took a long time to get to this point.  This story is already several chapters longer than I’d planned, and apparently I still have one more left to write.  While you’re waiting for the conclusion, check out one of my favorite versions of “Don’t You”: http://youtu.be/GGbAmqQJvvM?t=44s   And, as a special bonus, here’s a CrissColfer version of Darren’s original “I Don’t Mind”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3H_5MUJF-A

Please review.  :D

P.S.  A million thanks to crisssquared and any of you other lovely folks who recommended this fic as the new Featured Story!  <3

 

Chapter 29 - A Royal Invitation by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which a few loose ends are tied up with a ribbon...

 

Chris and Darren’s romantic afternoon in the woods was abruptly interrupted by the arrival of Rachel, who came rushing up to inform them that Darren was in “big trouble” with the royal physician for sneaking out of his room.  The three of them tried to return to the palace undetected, but they were met at the gate by the royal physician herself, standing with hands on hips and a no-nonsense expression on her face.  Chris almost didn’t recognize her, since he’d never seen Carole look so stern.

 

“Young man, I left specific instructions for you to stay in bed.  The health and well-being of every guest who comes to this palace is my responsibility, and I will not allow you to jeopardize your recovery.  Now, since you are obviously unable to follow my orders on your own, you will be escorted back to your room, where a guard will be stationed at the door to ensure that you get the rest you need.”

 

Then, glancing at Chris and Darren’s linked hands, she added, “Alone.”

 

There was clearly no point in arguing, so – with a final quick kiss – Darren allowed himself to be led away.

 

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur in Chris’s mind.  He spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering around the palace in a blissful daze, chuckling whenever he caught himself humming sappy love songs.  Even the fact that the guard outside Darren’s room refused to let him in couldn’t put a damper on his good spirits.

 

Dinner that evening should have been memorable, since it was the first time Chris had sat down to a proper meal in over a week, but he couldn’t for the life of him remember a single thing he ate.  Shortly after the first course was served, a footman entered the dining hall to inform Queen Snow White and King Sam that Quinderella had delivered her baby, and that they were invited to attend a celebration of the birth of Princess Beth.

 

After reading over the parchment scroll the footman handed him, King Sam turned to Rachel.  “My brother must have heard that you’re visiting, Queen Red, because he says that you’re invited, too.”

 

“Oh my, I just love babies!” Rachel gushed.  “And you’ll be my plus-one, right Froggy?”

 

“Um, do you think that will be okay?”

 

“Of course,” Sam assured him.  “My family isn’t at all amphibiaphobic.”  Then he added, “You and Darren must come too, Chris.  Apparently Quinderella’s Fairy Godfather specifically requested that you should be included in the invitation.”

 

Before Chris could respond, Sir Cooper burst into the room.  “Kurt Hummelocks has escaped!” he shouted.  “When the guards went to give him his supper, they found his cell empty!  Shall I send my troops to track him down?” 

 

Chris glanced at Rachel, who glanced at Mercedes, who winked.  “There’s no point in that, Sir Cooper.  I’m sure he’s long gone by now,” the queen replied.

 

King Sam looked around the table.  “Hey, has anyone seen Blaine?”   

 

When none of the assembled guests responded, Sir Cooper cried, “He must have freed the prisoner!  This is an insult to the honor of the Northern Kingdom!  Now there are two outlaws on the loose!  You must allow me to bring them to justice!”

 

“Relax, Sir Cooper,” Mercedes said.  “I’m sure they’re much too frightened of my royal guards to hang around this kingdom.  They’re probably already halfway to the Dwarf Forests.  And in any case, I can’t spare you at the moment.  We’ll be leaving first thing tomorrow morning for the Charming Kingdom, and I expect you and your troops to accompany us.”

 

Sir Cooper spluttered for a moment, apparently torn between his desire to milk every possible bit of drama out of Kurt’s escape and his excitement at the prospect of a trip to Quinderella’s palace.  The latter won out, and he declared, “Of course, Your Majesty!  Your safety is always my highest concern!  I will go at once to make all of the necessary preparations for our journey!”  And with that, he swept out of the room, much to the relief of everyone present.

 

 

The following morning, Chris woke up alone for the first time since he and Darren had been sucked into his laptop and deposited into this fairy tale world.  He experienced a brief moment of disoriented panic before the events of the previous day came back to him.  Hurriedly pulling on his clothes, he left his room to go in search of Darren.

 

Chris was stopped by a servant just outside his door.  “The king and queen would like to get an early start, and the carriages are ready.  Please follow me.”

 

Chris allowed the servant to escort him down to the courtyard and hand him up into a luxurious carriage.  He found Froggy and Rachel already seated within, eating an elaborate breakfast that had been laid out on golden trays. 

 

“Have you seen Darren?” Chris asked.

 

“Oh, yes,” Froggy answered.  “The royal physician decided that he was well enough to travel, but she insisted that he ride in a separate carriage with her so that she could keep an eye on him.”

 

Chris sighed.  The previous afternoon was beginning to seem like a dream, and he desperately wanted to talk to Darren to find out if they were on the same page about their relationship.

 

With an uncharacteristic display of concern for someone other than herself (Froggy was obviously having a positive effect on her) Rachel patted Chris on the knee.  “Don’t worry.  The Northern Kingdom is known for its fast horses.  And we’ll be traveling straight through my kingdom, which has excellent roads.  So we should arrive in time for dinner, and you can see Darren then.”

 

 

The journey to the Charming Kingdom was uneventful, which made a welcome change from the rest of Chris’s experiences in the fairy tale world.  As soon as his carriage pulled up in front of Quinderella’s palace, Chris leapt down and looked around for Darren.  He spotted the royal physician and hurried over to her.

 

“Is Darren with you?” he asked.

 

Carole didn’t seem to hear him.  Her attention was fixed on Quinderella’s Head Guard, who was speaking with Queen Snow White and King Sam a short distance away.  Chris smiled as Sir Burt excused himself from the royal couple and made his way over to them.

 

“It’s good to see you again, Chris,” Sir Burt greeted him warmly.  “Especially since this time you have an invitation,” he added with a wink.  “And who is this lovely lady you’ve brought with you?”

 

Chris tried to rein in his grin as he answered, “Sir Burt, I’d like to present Lady Carole, Queen Snow White’s royal physician.”

 

Carole dropped a curtsey.  Sir Burt bowed low, and then took her hand and kissed it.  “May I escort you into the palace, my lady?”

 

“Of course.”

 

Chris felt a familiar pair of arms slide around his waist from behind, and he tipped his head back onto Darren’s shoulder to receive a kiss on the cheek.

 

“I missed you,” he said, turning around in Darren’s arms.

 

“Mm…  Me too.  But I’m glad that Carole insisted on coming with me, or she wouldn’t have met up with Burt.  I just love those two as a couple.”

 

“Oh, so do I.  I hadn’t really thought about it until we ran into her, but I guess I’d just kind of assumed that she and Sir Burt were already married and living here together.”

 

“Well, it’s a good thing I got hit in the head with that stone so they could finally meet.”

 

“Yes, yes, now you can add unintentional matchmaking to your already impressive list of accidental skills.”

 

“Hey, you haven’t seen the half of my skills,” Darren teased.

 

Before Chris could offer a witty retort, Rachel approached them, dragging an uncomfortable looking Froggy along with her.  “Come on.  Everyone’s going in, and we don’t want to miss the party.  I can’t wait to see Quinderella’s baby!”

 

The four of them climbed the impressive flight of stairs leading to the palace.  Chris was amused to note that Figgins was once again collecting invitations.  He gave them all a suspicious and somewhat haughty look, but he did allow them to pass.

 

Once inside, they made their way to the ballroom, where Quinderella sat on her throne, cradling Princess Beth.  King Puck stood behind her, making goo-goo eyes at his new daughter.  The other royal couples were seated nearby – Queen Snow White with King Sam, Queen Sleeping Tina with King Mike, and Queen Emmapunzel with Will, the Huntsman, who was apparently her new beau.

 

Chris, Darren, Rachel, and Froggy went over to admire the tiny princess.  Quinderella beamed up at them.  She and Puck began to sing: 

 

Isn't she lovely?

Isn't she wonderful?

Isn't she precious?

Less than one minute old

I never thought through love we'd be

Making one as lovely as she

But isn't she lovely made from love?

 

Isn't she pretty?

Truly the angel's best

Boy, I'm so happy

We have been heaven-blessed

I can't believe what God has done

Through us he's given life to one

But isn't she lovely made from love?

 

“Oh my,” Rachel cooed.  “She certainly is lovely!”

 

 The proud parents took their attention away from their daughter for a moment to smile at their guests.  “Oh, I almost forgot,” King Puck said.  “The Fairy Godfather asked me to send Froggy to him as soon as you all arrived.”

 

Froggy turned a paler shade of green as a footman led him away.

 

“Oh my,” Rachel said, sounding worried.  “I wonder what that’s about?”

 

“I think it’s about me and Darren,” Chris replied.  “Froggy said that the Fairy Godfather had promised to turn him back to his original form if he brought us to him.”

 

“His original form?  You mean he’s not really a frog?”

 

“Nope, he’s human.  And I think you’re going to be in for a pleasant surprise.”

 

For the next ten minutes, Rachel fidgeted with the hem of her skirt, glancing repeatedly at the door through which Froggy had disappeared.  Finally a tall young man entered.  All eyes were immediately upon him.

 

“Finn!” shouted Puck, Sam, and Mike.

 

“Oh my!” cried Rachel, and promptly fainted dead away.

 

End Notes:

 

I apologize for taking so long to write this chapter.  I had it in my head that this would be the last one, and apparently I have some sort of mental block against finishing this story, ‘cause I just couldn’t bring myself to work on it.  Well, it turns out that this wasn’t the final chapter, after all.  I’ve still got one more (brief) chapter left to write, and I’ll try my best to get it done as soon as possible.  In the meantime, I could use some cheerleaders, so RAH, RAH, SIS BOOM BAH – REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW!  :D

 

Chapter 30 - The Fairy Godfather by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which our story comes to an end... for now...

 

Once Rachel had been revived with lavender water, and everyone had finished Ooohing and Ahhhing over the fact that Froggy had turned out to be the long-lost Prince Finn Charming, Finn turned to Chris and Darren.  “The Fairy Godfather thanked me for bringing you guys here, and he said he knows how to send you home.  He’ll be here in a minute.”

 

“Wow,” Darren breathed.  “This has been such a magical trip.  I don’t know if I’m ready to go back yet.  How about you, Chris?”

 

Chris felt a swirl of emotions that left him dizzy.  He gazed at Darren, unable to formulate a reply.

 

When Chris’s silence stretched on a little too long, Darren began to sing:

 

Do you hear me?

I'm talking to you

Across the water across the deep blue ocean

Under the open sky, oh my, baby I'm trying

 

Finding his voice, Chris came in with the next verse.

 

Boy I hear you in my dreams

I feel your whisper across the sea

I keep you with me in my heart

You make it easier when life gets hard

 

Taking each other’s hands, Chris and Darren sang the chorus together.

 

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend

Lucky to have been where I have been

Lucky to be coming home again

Ooohh ooooh oooh oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

 

Darren pulled Chris into an impromptu dance on the next verse.

 

They don't know how long it takes

Waiting for a love like this

Every time we say goodbye

I wish we had one more kiss

I'll wait for you I promise you, I will

 

Chris smiled into Darren’s eyes as they swayed in each other’s arms. 

 

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend

Lucky to have been where I have been

Lucky to be coming home again

Lucky we're in love in every way

Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed

Lucky to be coming home someday

 

Chris forgot all about their audience, losing himself in the sound of Darren’s voice.

 

And so I'm sailing through the sea

To an island where we'll meet

You'll hear the music fill the air

I'll put a flower in your hair

 

Darren twirled Chris out and then reeled him back in, running the fingers of one hand through Chris’s hair.

 

Though the breezes through trees

Move so pretty you're all I see

As the world keeps spinning 'round

You hold me right here, right now

 

As they sang the final chorus, Chris let the joy he was feeling bubble up out of him.

 

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend

Lucky to have been where I have been

Lucky to be coming home again

I'm lucky we're in love in every way

Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed

Lucky to be coming home someday

Ooohh ooooh oooh oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

 

The sound of applause snapped Chris and Darren out of their reverie.  Tearing their eyes away from each other, they discovered that their audience had grown.  The Fairy Godfather stood before them.

 

Chris blinked twice.  “Ryan?”

 

“You always said I was your Fairy Godfather.”

 

“But –”

 

“We'll have plenty of time to discuss everything,” Ryan said, with a significant look from Chris, to Darren, and back again, “once you’re back where you belong.”

 

Ryan waved his wand, and a door appeared in the middle of the room.

 

“So,” he asked, “where would you like this door to lead?”

 

Chris gave Darren a long look.  “My house?”

 

Darren squeezed his hand, nodding.

 

“As you wish,” Ryan said, flourishing his wand once more.

 

Chris placed his hand on the doorknob.  With one last, fond look around at the assembled crowd, he and Darren stepped through the doorway together.

 

And they lived Gleefully ever after.

 

 

Stay tuned for The Land of Stories 2: Gleeful Days Are Here Again… and, eventually, The Land of Stories 3: A Very Gleeful Threequel…

 

End Notes:

 

I’d like to thank you all for reading, especially those of you who took the time to write reviews.  I wouldn’t have finished this without you.

Thanks again for your support!   <3

P.S.  For all of you who were speculating about the identity of the Fairy Godfather, Chris made it perfectly clear that there was only ever one real contender: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn0OgB-Qa8o&feature=youtu.be&t=1m48s

 

 

Teaser by ChrisCalledMeSweetie
Author's Notes:

In which the author explains why this story, which was completed over a year ago, is now being updated…

 

 

A message from your humble storyteller:

I’ve been hard at work on my sequel — The Land of Stories: Gleeful Days Are Here Again — and it is finally complete.  I’ll begin posting it on Friday, June 26, and will continue to add a new chapter every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday until mid-August.  While you’re waiting, I thought you might enjoy reading (or re-reading) this story.  I hope I was correct.  :)  


End Notes:

Stay tuned for The Land of Stories: Gleeful Days Are Here Again… and, eventually, The Land of Stories: A Very Gleeful Threequel.

This story archived at http://www.it-could-happen.net/viewstory.php?sid=1054