Letting the Fox Out of the Bag

Tale Spin Fan Fic

by Katie Sullivan


Chapter 6



The following day was set aside for the crews to recover from their hangovers, and for the Karnages to catch up on their sleep. The fiesta had lasted until the first blush of dawn, and no one felt much like flying (or anything else, for that matter) any time soon.

Still puzzled by her conversation with Gonzalo, Scarlet was quiet and distant toward Don Karnage, and her sudden change of demeanor was not beneath his notice. When pressed for an explanation, however, she flatly refused. His temper flared, but rather than fight she simply walked away.

Evening shadows were barely muting the lush colors of the gardens when he found her resting in a giant hammock on the north porch. Her eyes were closed, but he saw her ears react to his bootsteps. Surrounded by freshly-painted white wood, against a backdrop of Caribbean splendor, she was even more beautiful than usual. But why was she avoiding him? Had he frightened her with his confession of love? He wasn't the sort to spout his feelings, but wasn't that what women wanted? It was not the first (nor the last, he feared) time he was befuddled by the mysteries of the feminine brain.

She obviously heard him coming but made no move to leave, which he interpreted as permission to join her. With practiced ease, he slid into the hammock beside her without tipping it over. "Hola, mi amor," he said, putting an arm around her body. "¿Cómo estás?"

Scarlet blinked groggily and managed a smile. "M'fine," she mumbled.

"Then why have you been avoiding my affectionate self all day?"

"I haven't been avoiding you. Exactly," she said unconvincingly. "I'm just tired."

"Everyone is tired! That is one advantage to my...unusual circumstances. No alcohol, no hanging-over, yes-no?"

She made a little sound that was almost a laugh.

"But as far as I noticed, you only had the one glass of wine."

"Yeah. And less than four hours of sleep!"

"That is not all that is on your pretty mind, Scarlet. Come now, let the bat out of the gag. What is bothering you? Is it because I said I love you? Because I--"

"No," she stopped him quickly. "Not at all." A more definite smile returned to her face, and she put a hand on his chest. "I love you, too. And I'm rather fond of my new necklace as well."

"Then what is it? My family is not too strange for you, I hope. Was it cousin Miguel's singing? Because he gets on my nerves, too."

"No, nothing like that." She hesitated. It was clear Don Gonzalo didn't want her to share their conversation with anyone, most of all his son. But what could she do? Her loyalities and affections were all directed elsewhere. "I--I don't know if I should say anything. It's sort of awkward."

"Is not that once-in-a-month business, is it?" he asked with a wrinkled nose.

"No!" She slapped him half-heartedly on the shoulder. "It's just that-- Querido, your father took me aside last night and asked me some things."

"What things?"

"Well... He asked if I had been with you when you pillaged Cape Suzette. And what kind of Captain you were. If you kept the men in line. And--"

"And what did you say?" he interrupted.

"No, great, and yes. I wasn't with you then, I think you're a fine Captain, and you have good control of the crew."

"You didn't mention the mutiny they tried during the Glue Incident?"

"Of course not."

"Gracias." Karnage placed a soft kiss on her cheek in appreciation. "Now go on. What else?"

"He wanted to know if you had told me about Ignacio and Lorenzo."

"And?" he prodded anxiously.

"I didn't know what to do, so I told the truth," she said a bit apologetically.

The pirate nodded, silently prompting her to elaborate.

"I told him what you said, about how Ignacio got very...disturbed...and that you couldn't stop him, and--well, you know. You told me the story."

"What did Father say?"

"Nothing, really. He dismissed me then."

"Was he angry?"

"I don't think so. I'm not sure. He's a hard person to read. He was just...solemn, I guess. He seemed to think you went after Lorenzo for some sort of power trip, to steal his glory."

"What?" he sputtered. "That is a load of horse maneuver!"

"Manure."

"Whatever." He scowled and stared at the ceiling in thought for a moment. "And this meeting with my father, it upset you?"

"It unnerved me. I wasn't sure he even knew my name, and then all of a sudden he's in my face, asking all these questions. It was almost as if he was hoping I'd say you were a horrible, incompetent person."

"Thank you for disappointing him, querida," he said with a sneer of irony.

"I don't know what he wanted, really. It was odd. But don't tell him I told you about it, okay? He was very secretive about the whole thing, and I don't want him mad at me."

Karnage's face darkened. "No, my darling. You don't."




At last it was time for the Iron Vulture to leave Cabo Orgulloso. The air pirates were elated to be getting back to the usual business of plundering, and didn't even complain when ordered to prepare the airship for the journey. Scarlet couldn't imagine missing the dank accomodations of Pirate Island. She would have been more than content to stay on this tropical isle forever, if not for the nearly palpable tension between Don Karnage and his father. The pirate patriarch had spent most of their stay in his study, ostensibly to reorganize his library. Everyone knew better.

Nearly the entire island showed up to say farewell to their buccaneer benefactors. Young and old, they lined the beach, taking a last good look at the great Iron Vulture. The air pirates were all aboard. A few waved from the airstrip on top to women they had become acquainted with during their stay.

As they had come, Don Karnage and Scarlet would be leaving in their own planes, meeting the Vulture out in the cove. Lorita joined them on the lawn, looking significantly more dignified than when they first met. She now wore a long raspberry-colored gown trimmed in black lace; the very image of Spanish nobility. There was still a spirited glimmer in her dark eyes, reminding all that she was indeed a pirate, regardless of her attire. Dolores was at her side in a purple silk blouse and khakis, looking morose. After years of feeling like an only child, she had suddenly regained a brother, and was loathe to give him up.

"Take care of the place, now," Karnage was telling her. He held her shoulders firmly and smiled down at her with all the fond yet condescending attitude of an older brother. "I don't want to have to come back and clean up your messes every year!"

"Yeah, well..." She tried to sound defensive and angry, but was unable to hide her sadness. "If a hurricane is what is takes you bring you back once and a while, then...may we get a lot of them."

"Bite your tounge!" Lorita snapped.

A voice called to them in Spanish from across the yard. "Oh, good, you haven't left yet! I was afraid I'd miss you!" They turned to see Miranda approaching with a hurried waddle, winded by the extra weight of her unborn child. Scarlet put a possessive hand on Karnage's arm. "I wanted to say good-bye," Miranda said as she reached them, giving him a hug. Then, wagging a scolding finger at him, she frowned and griped, "And don't stay away for twenty years this time!"

He feigned a submissive shrug. "I promise. Where is your little fisherboy Carlos?"

"With our son on the beach. José wanted to be sure to get a good view of the Iron Vulture when it takes off. He's fascinated by planes."

"And who can blame him?" Karnage said with a proud grin, laying a hand on the wing of his CT-37.

"Not I. In fact, I'd like to join him. And I better get started now if I expect to get there in time. If I don't have this baby soon, I'm going to explode. Or never move again. I'm not sure which." A softer smile spread over Miranda's face. "'Bye, Felipe. It was great to see you again." She turned to Scarlet and firmly shook her hand. "And it was nice to meet you, Scarlet." With a sly sidelong look at Karnage, she added, "Enjoy yourself."

"Uh...thanks."

With that, the wolfess started down the dusty road toward the beach.

Karnage shook his head and laughed. "She is silly, that one. Now...the time is slipping past, and my lady and I must be off." He took Scarlet's hand.

"I enjoyed meeting you, Scarlet," Dolores said with a friendly hug.

Lorita mimicked the gesture. "Yes, it was wonderful to meet you." Turning to her son, she whispered, "I like her, Felipito."

He gave an embarassed cough and smiled.

"And Miranda was right. Don't let it be another twenty years. Please."

"Of course not, Mamá." The two embraced warmly.

"And thank you. Thank you for all your help. I don't know what we would have done without you. Thanks to you, our island can heal into the paradise it once was."

"It was nothing," he said with an egotistical grin that belied his modest words. Scarlet sighed.

Across the lawn, the front door of the villa opened. All four turned to look as a stony-faced Don Gonzalo Karnage strode forth. Instinctively, Dolores, Lorita and Scarlet stepped back to give him a clear path to his son. Don Felipe Karnage stood warily, a frown nearly covering his apprehension. He folded his arms defensively on his chest and held his ground as his father came to a halt directly in front of him.

The old wolf regarded him appraisingly for a moment, apparently in no hurry to break the awkward silence. His stance was tall and dignified, his chin raised, his eyes hard. The younger pirate met his gaze without hesitation. Nearly without blinking.

At length, Don Gonzalo's face began to change. Slowly, almost with a conscious effort, his mouth curved ever so slightly upward. It wasn't a smile. But nearly so. Closer than anything Don Karnage had seen since their reunion, anyway. And the look in his eyes was softer, if only by a fraction. He laid a firm but gentle hand on his son's shoulder, a friendly gesture that brought an unavoidable expression of surprise to Karnage's face. Gonzalo gave a couple satisfied nods.

Finally, the elder spoke. "Gracias, mi hijo," he said with quiet solemnity. ["Thank you, my son.]" Then, before Karnage could form a response, Don Gonzalo turned and, with unhurried but sure strides, went back into the villa.

His family stood wordlessly in his wake.

Don Karnage blinked himself back to reality and turned toward his plane. "Come, querida, we are late," he said with less than the usual amount of vigor. He picked her up by the waist and helped her into her plane for show, then jumped into the cockpit of his own tri-wing. "Hasta luego, Mamá, Dolores," he said with a genuine smile.

Lorita scaled up the side of the plane with an agility that defied her age and kissed his cheek. "Have a safe journey, my son."

"I am a famed and terrible pirate captain, Mamá! I will be fine!" he scoffed.

She gave a mischieveous smile and tweaked his scarred ear. "Can't stop a mother from worrying."

"But of course," he said, kissing her hand.

Lorita grinned and returned to the ground, shooing Dolores back toward the villa so there would be room for the planes to take off. They started their engines, performed a few cursory preflight checks, and were ready. Don Karnage threw a jaunty salute at his mother and sister, Scarlet waved, and they were off, skimming over the battered palm trees toward the Iron Vulture.

And from there...home.


 

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This story and the characters Scarlet, Dolores, Lorita, Gonzalo, Ignacio, Miranda, and Lorenzo Calaveras are © Katie Sullivan and may not be used without permission. Don Karnage, the Iron Vulture, the Air Pirates, Mad Dog, Dumptruck, Cape Suzette, Tale Spin and all related indica, etc, are © The Walt Disney Company and are used without permission for non-profit entertainment purposes only.