Absence Makes the Heart Go Plunder

Tale Spin Fan Fic

by Katie Sullivan

Chapter 11

It was after three o'clock the next afternoon by the time Don Karnage awoke. Aside from a miserable headache and general grogginess, he felt well enough. But what in the world had happened? He forced his burning eyes open and looked around. Scarlet was sitting in a chair right beside the bed, her nose buried in a magazine. The moment he turned his head, however, her attention shifted to him. She was at his side in an instant, gazing down with a concerned look on her lovely face. "Hi," she said simply.

"Hi," he said. His throat was so dry he could hardly speak. Hearing this, Scarlet disappeared for a few seconds and returned with a glass of water. She helped him sit up a bit and waited until his vocal cords were working properly again. He downed the water in one long gulp, sighed and rubbed at his eyes. "What happened to me?" he asked. "The last thing I remember, there were these green flamingos--no, wait, I think I was hallucinating those."

Scarlet took his hand in hers and smiled piteously. "Somehow alcohol got into your drink. We don't know if it was an accident or a prank. But I'm just glad you're all right. I was worried. Your mother gave you some of her herbs, and you've been asleep ever since."

"When is it?" he asked, squinting at his alarm clock.

"Twenty minutes to four."

He put a hand gingerly to his aching head. "That is my mother's herbs, all right. Ooh..." Suddenly, it dawned on him. "But...querida, what about the wedding? We should be lying the knot right now!"

"That's 'tying the knot', and don't worry about it. We just postponed everything until tomorrow."

He closed his eyes and sighed bitterly. "I am sorry, Scarlet, my darling, I did not--"

"Don't apologize, for heaven's sake!" Scarlet chided. "It's not like you did this on purpose."

"Well, no, but...are you sure there were never any green flamingos? Because I could have sweared..."

"No. No green flamingos. Just a fiancée by your side."

"Oh. Good. That is much better." He managed a smile.

Twenty-some hours, more sleep, and numerous cups of coffee later, Don Karnage was feeling like himself again. There was no way to find out who had spiked his drink, or even if it was indeed just an unfortunate accident. It was best to put the matter behind him. After all, he had more important things to worry about. Like getting married. And making sure none of his men did anything stupid to mess it up.

He took a quick walk through the island, making sure the preparations were going according to plan. Jean-Marc had to be reminded how to spell "congratulations" in Spanish, for even the cake was bilingual. He spent ten whole minutes explaining to Dumptruck and Hacksaw why they couldn't throw any rice until after the ceremony. They seemed all too eager to toss things at their Captain, frankly. The jailer kept following him around, reminding him that Mad Dog was still in the brig, and had been there since before he left for Italy. Karnage waved him off, saying he would deal with it later. Will joined him mid-way in his tour to go over the seating chart, making sure no one would have to sit next to someone they hated. Together they climbed the steep stone stairs to the peak of the island, where a pair of trigger-happy pirates were waiting to set off a salute with the large guns usually meant for defense.

"It is very simple," he explained for what seemed like the thousandth time. "When Scarlet and I turn around and walk to the back of the balcony, fire."

"When will that be?" asked a particularly dense pirate.

"At the end of the ceremony, you fool!"

"What about the end of the ceremony?" asked the other, who obviously hadn't been listening.

Karnage ground his teeth in frustration, then spoke in staccato tones. "At the end of the ceremony, when Scarlet and I turn around and walk to the back of the balcony, fire at will."

The gunners looked viciously at the fox standing beside their Captain. Karnage immediately waved his hands and said, "No, no, no. Do not fire at Will. He is my Best Man. Fire into the air!"


"ARRRRRGG!" he screeched in exasperation.

Will shook his head and sighed. "Why don't you go take care of something else? I'll see what I can explain to the brainless duo, here."

Karnage was about to yell something else insulting at them, but decided it was hopeless. "Yes, good, fine, Will. Do that. I will go see how my flushing bride is doing." He started down the stairs.

"Uh, sir, that would be 'blushing bride'."

"Whatever!" he yelled over his shoulder.

At that moment, the 'blushing bride' was having her share of pre-wedding jitters. Her mother and sister were helping her get dressed, but her constant squirming was making it difficult.

As Mrs. Hindenfur struggled with a mouthful of pins to get her train to lie straight, Scarlet fretted, "I don't know what I'm doing. I mean, I love him and everything, but is it completely nuts to marry a pirate? It's the twentieth century, for Pete's sake. Who's a real pirate these days?"

"Apparently quite a few people, by the looks of the guest list," Katarina said.

"And I just don't know if I'm ready for this kind of commitment. You know, he even said something the other day about having kids! Me, a mother? I'm not ready for that kind of responsibility. I mean, I'm a wanted criminal, a jewel thief, a pirate, what makes me think I could raise a child without totally messing up its head! What kind of an example am I? And piracy is dangerous! I could be a widow before I know it! But I do love him, and he loves me, and I'd be miserable without him, and--well, heck, I was miserable without him in Italy, but we had had that fight, and I don't know, I'm just so confused, and-- not so tight there, Mom-- and I still wonder if we're not rushing things, and I hope I don't trip or something, or say the wrong thing, or drop something, or or and and and and--"

"Scarlet, honey, take a breath," Eva Hindenfur said. "You're going to hyperventilate! That's it. Breathe in. Now...let it out. Good. Honey, listen. Everyone is nervous on their wedding day. You're no different from any of the hundreds of millions of brides throughout history. It's perfectly normal. And you keep saying you love him, and he loves you. That's what matters."

"But but but but--"

"No buts. You're going to be fine."

"Listen to Mom," Katarina advised.

There was a knock on the door before Scarlet could protest. "Come in," Eva said.

Don Karnage poked his head in. "How are you, my little flower?"

"Having a nervous breakdown. You?"

"The same."

"See, sis, you have so much in common!" Katarina teased.

"Shut up."

Karnage came in, his eyes riveted on her gown. It was the first time he had seen it on her, and she did things for the garment that a hanger never could. A full skirt poured forth from her trim waist, shimmering like a pearl fresh from the ocean. A diamond tiara was nestled in her styled hair, and golden ringlets framed her face. The veil was back for the moment, flowing down her back like a great, gauzy wing, and a sequined train spread out behind her. "Well?" she asked with a nervous shrug of her puffy sleeves.

He grinned, stepped forward and took her in his arms. "I always thought you were an angel, but today you especially look the part."

"Aww..." Scarlet made a little noise of reluctant sentiment and leaned into his embrace. "I love you." Before he could kiss her, however, Eva and Katarina Hindenfur nudged him out of the way and resumed arranging the bridal gown.

"There'll be plenty of time for that later," Katarina said. "Right now we've got things to do. Besides, you know it's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding."

"That is a silly old wise tale."

"Wives' tale," Scarlet corrected.


Eva turned to her eldest daughter. "Katarina, honey, you'd better get dressed soon, too."

She groaned. "Oh, geez. Do I have to?"

"Yes," her sister and mother said simultaneously.

"Oh, all right. Fine. But you two better have the longest and happiest marriage in the history of the world, because I'm not doing this again."

"We'll certainly try," Scarlet said with a nervous giggle.

"Indeed," Karnage said, looking peeved that anyone would suggest otherwise. "Now I must be off, mi amor. I have some unfinished business, too." He made an elaborate bow in the doorway. "Adieu, mon cherie."

Scarlet yelled after him, "Don't start throwing French at me now! Spanish and Italian are bad enough!" Somewhere down the corridor, she heard him laugh.

The guests were assembled in neat rows of folding chairs on the balcony that hung far above the sea on the western face of Pirate Island. Usually such gatherings were divided into the groom's side and the bride's side, but few people from Scarlet's family were there. She had a small family to begin with, and many of them didn't want to come travel such a long way. There were also a few who objected to the idea of a pirate ceremony. So, since Katarina was maid of honor, that left only her parents, Richard and Eva Hindenfur, and a few aunts, uncles and cousins. To balance the rows, therefore, most of the Italians migrated over to the bride's side.

As a Captain, Gonzalo Karnage could legally marry couples. Legality wasn't a major concern, but he was also a pirate captain, and so he could also marry under the pirate Code. He now wore his best navy-blue uniform, gold buttons gleaming in the sunlight, and stood behind a lectern which had been set up in lieu of an altar.

Had Miguel not been in the wedding party, he would have gladly helped supply music, but instead a record player had to suffice. A stately piece of classical music began to play, and the groomsmen filed out of the island through the stone archway. First came a very uncomfortable-looking Gibber wearing, miraculously enough, a tuxedo. Then Miguel, Best Man Will, and Don Karnage. He had considered the tuxedo route but decided a dressier version of his usual uniform was more his style. Not to mention a few added medals and golden baubles, an ornate scabbard for his sword, and extra polish on his boots.

He did a passable job of not looking nervous, but there was a definite cast of anxiety behind his usual hauteur.

Next came the bridesmaids. Carlotta didn't look all that ridiculous in her bridesmaid's dress, and even managed to walk gracefully in the cumbersome lavender hoop skirt. When she reached the front of the balcony, she took Gibber's arm. It was not a wholly inappropriate match, since they were the shortest members of the wedding party, and neither were great conversationalists in English.

Dolores Karnage followed, grinning from ear to gray-furred ear. Then the maid of honor arrived. To her credit, Katarina didn't scowl too much over her awful attire. She managed to get to the front without tripping, and was glad to take Will's arm. He looked quite pleased with the arrangement as well.

Someone turned up the volume on the record player, and all eyes turned to the entryway. Richard Hindenfur's tuxedo was very much upstaged by his daughter's billowing white gown. Her cerulean eyes stared out through the veil, wide with nerves but bright with elation. Slowly, they proceeded down the aisle, treading on a length of soft red carpet stolen from yet another cargo plane specially for this purpose. At least her parents couldn't complain about the cost of the wedding.

A magnificent eternity later, they reached the front. Her father took her hand and ceremoniously passed it over to Karnage's, transferring her from bootlegger to pirate. Both bride and groom grinned involuntarily.

With an irritating scratching noise, the record needle was lifted and all was quiet for a brief moment, except for Eva Hindenfur's sniffling.

Gonzalo Karnage stood with his usual rod-straight posture, probing into his son's eyes with a steely gaze. Felipe met his look with an odd calmness, silently asking his father for a blessing. A new expression formed on the old wolf's face. Not quite a definable smile, but as close to it as he ever got. His son silently thanked him with his eyes.

When the moment was over, Gonzalo leaned over the yellowed tome on the lectern and spoke, his deep voice easily reaching everyone present.

"Dear friends and family, brethren of the sea, sisters of the waves, honorable pirates. We are gathered here today between the depths of the oceans and the heights of the skies to join two hearts as one in the holy bonds of matrimony. May those who are here united find strength in each other, joy in each day, and contentment in their shared life. If there is anyone here who finds fault in this marriage, may they voice their concerns now or forever hold their silence."

In the back row, Isabella had a conveniently-timed coughing fit, eliciting a severe look from Vincenzo. She sighed, slouched, and made a screwing motion with her finger at her temple, an Italian gesture indicating doubt about someone's sanity. But she said nothing.

Gonzalo lowered a dark eyebrow and continued. "Kneel facing each other." Scarlet and Felipe knelt on a satin cushion, their hands joined. "Felipe Esteban Gonzalo Andres Enrique, will you have this woman as your wedded wife, to live together in Holy Matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be true and faithful to only her for as long as you both shall live?"

Don Karnage swallowed and said with quiet confidence, "I do."

Gonzalo turned to the bride. "And Scarlet Ann, will you have this man as your wedded husband, to live together in Holy Matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be true and faithful to only him for as long as you both shall live?"

Scarlet paused not out of hesitation, but to prolong the magic. After a few hour-long seconds, she said, "I do."

Gonzalo then said, "And who gives this woman to be married to this man?"

Richard Hindenfur stepped forward and made a small bow. "I do."

"Now repeat..."

Don Karnage swallowed and, as if in a dream, heard his voice repeat the words. "I, Felipe Esteban Gonzalo Andres Enrique take you, Scarlet Ann as my wedded wife to have and to hold from this day forward for better or worser, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do part us; this do I swear with my solemn vow of honor...and with all my heart," he ad-libbed.

"And," Gonzalo said, turning back to Scarlet, "repeat..."

"I, Scarlet Ann take you, Felipe..." She closed her eyes in concentration, determined not to trip up on his absurdly long name. "...Esteban Gonzalo Andres Enrique..." She took another breath. "To be my wedded husband to have and to hold from this day forward for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do us part; this do I swear with my solemn vow of honor...and with all my heart."

Gonzalo held out a hand to Will. "The rings?"

Will reached into the pocket of his tuxedo and handed over the rings to his Captain's father.

Gonzalo held the rings high, Scarlet's huge diamond blazing in the afternoon sun. "May those who wear these rings remain faithful to each other, and abide in love until their lives' end."

Felipe took the ring from him and slowly, gently eased it onto Scarlet's finger. "With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee honor, and all my worldly goods with thee I share."

Scarlet did the same with his plainer gold ring, pledging the same words.

Gonzalo motioned for them to stand, and they did, again clasping hands. He raised his hands, palms up and said, "These who are here joined, may no one ever put asunder. Felipe Esteban Gonzalo Andres Enrique and Scarlet Ann, as you have given your solemn vows to be united in holy wedlock, and have witnessed your love here today to these people here gathered, and have exchanged rings as a symbol of your promise, I do hereby pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride."

He carefully lifted the veil up and back, off her face, and leaned into a long, sincere kiss. They barely heard the applause of the guests. They stood in a sort of dazed rapture for a moment, just looking at each other. "Hola, Señora Karnage," he said softly, running a finger across her cheek to halt the downward progress of a joyful tear.

The reception was just as much fun as the bachelor party but much less eventful. The only tense moment was when Dumptruck ran up to Katarina and said happily, "Now I remember vere I know you from! You sold me my French fries at duh Burger Shack!"

"I don't want to talk about that time in my life," she growled, emptying a full glass of wine over the bulldog's head.

"But I like French fries! Especially with the little birdies."

"Never mention fast food to me again!" Katarina seized the startled pirate by the neck and began throttling him, until Will grabbed her by the waist and pulled her away.

"My, you are a feisty wench, aren't you?" he said with a crooked smile.

Flustered, Katarina wriggled from his grasp and crossed her arms on her chest. "I'll show you, feisty, accountant-boy!"

"Hmm... Feisty and irritable!"

"I've never been irritable a day in my life!" she snarled.

"Sure..." he said skeptically, then offered his arm. "Dance?"

Katarina hesitated, then smiled grudgingly and left Dumptruck to stand bewildered, dripping wine and rubbing his sore neck.

Miguel was again the head of the nonexistent entertainment committee, hamming it up with his guitar, singing sappy ballads in Spanish. Carlotta was a bit of a debutante, flitting around, twirling her hoop skirt and dancing until she was completely out of breath. Isabella was the opposite, the perfect wallflower, moping at a corner table and refusing all conversation. Despite having no common language, Gonzalo and Vincenzo hit it off remarkably well, communicating through looks, gestures and the universal language of drink. Katarina and Will seemed to be on another plane of existence, dancing every dance together, and never shutting up.

Scarlet danced one last traditional dance with her father before letting him attend to his sobbing wife. From then on, she was glued to her groom, never leaving his side for an instant. Karnage was wary of every glass or bottle offered him, content to spend his time dancing with Scarlet and receiving congratulations from friends and relatives. He adored being the center of attention, and today he was the star, second only to Scarlet. And for once, being overshadowed wasn't so terrible.

When the time came to cut the cake, Karnage drew his sword from its jeweled scabbard and hacked a gigantic slice in the towering pastry. Scarlet laughed so hard she could barely stand.

Eventually, the punch bowls ran dry and Miguel sang himself hoarse, and it was time to wrap up the celebrations. Scarlet chucked her bouquet of roses over her shoulder into a crowd of jostling single women. After a scuffle and one torn dress, Katarina surfaced from the fray holding the battered flowers like the Statue of Liberty's torch. "Yes! Got it! Mine mine mine!"

Carlotta stumbled free of the cluster of disappointed women and put her hands angrily on her hips. "I almost had it!"

"Finders keepers," Katarina sneered with a triumphant laugh.

A similar scene ensued when Don Karnage tossed the garter, although there were fewer competitors this time. Most of his crew were scared to death at the thought of being stuck with a "ball and change", as their Captain put it. Miguel and Will each dove for the scrap of lace, and Will edged him out by a fraction of an inch.

"Ha! Got it!" Will shouted, springing up from the ground with the garter held high. Everyone immediately turned to look at Katarina, then back at Will again. They glanced around, realized the significance of their trophies, and each got a very flustered look.

"Remember what I said, sis," Scarlet called to her. "You can force me to wear anything you want at your wedding!"

"But I...I..." Katarina looked to Will, who grinned and shrugged. "Don't go looking for a china pattern just yet. But uh...are you doing anything later, Will?"

A rare cacophony of laughter echoed through Pirate Island.

A small aircraft that had been a cargo plane in its former life had been strung with crepe paper, and a sloppy "Just Married" sign had been painted on the back. Fearing they would interfere with aerodynamics, they had decided to skip the traditional shoes and tin cans tied to the bumper. No one could find a bumper to tie them to, anyway.

Vincenzo and Gonzalo had promised to keep an eye on the Air Pirates while their usual leader was on his honeymoon. Neither spoke English, but Carlotta would be around to translate for her uncle, and Gonzalo had enough of a presence to keep order wherever he went.

There was an exclusive island resort a few hours away run by a pair of disreputable stoats who would keep their mouths shut for the right fee. A wide range of criminals and celebrities took advantage of this to find a little anonymity on vacation. Although pricey, it suited Karnage's needs perfectly, and a crate of gold bullion from an Usland treasury plane promised to cover the expense.

There a last-minute flurry of hugs between the happy couple and nearly everyone in the extended family. As Scarlet was turning to enter the little plane, Karnage surprised her from behind by sweeping her up in his arms, lengthy veil, train and all, and carried her aboard amid cheers and laughter from the others.

Soon the sound of the plane's engines drowned out the sound of the well-wishers, and Don and Señora Karnage were gone into the distance to start their honeymoon, and their life together.

Somewhere deep in the catacombs of Pirate Island, a very befuddled and angry Mad Dog clung to the bars of his cell and hollered at the top of his lungs, "Cap'n? Cap'n Karnage, can I get outta here, already? Pleeeeze? Cap'n! Let me out, pleeeze? Somebody? Anybody? Help!"

On to the Epilogue
Back to Chapter 10
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This story and the characters Scarlet, Vincenzo, Isabella, Carlotta, and Baltsaros are (c) Katie Sullivan and may not be used without permission. Katarina is (c) Kayleen Lium and may not be used without permission, either. Don Karnage, the Iron Vulture, the Air Pirates, Mad Dog, Dumptruck, Cape Suzette, Tale Spin and all related indica, etc, are (c) The Walt Disney Company and are used without permission for non-profit entertainment purposes only.