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Skin Change
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Author's Chapter 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.







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)





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…


Chapter 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


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