Absence Makes the Heart Go Plunder

Tale Spin Fan Fic

by Katie Sullivan


Chapter 9



A short time later, the door opened, and Vincenzo poked his head in. "Ah, good, you're both awake. And alive. I wasn't sure, for a while there." He entered the room, Carlotta close behind him.

Isabella's voice called from somewhere in the distance, "Is he alive?"

"Yes," Carlotta replied.

There a pause, then Isabella said, "Damn."

"Mama!" Carlotta scolded.

Karnage and Scarlet each attempted to sit up a little, but were only marginally successful, falling back against the pillows with a short gasp of pain. He grimaced and said to Carlotta in Italian, "Tell your mother, if it makes her feel any better, that I am in considerable pain."

"Oh, shush, Papa," she said disgustedly.

Vincenzo shook his head and grinned. "I must say, my boy, I am impressed. The way you faced that dragon took guts."

"Yes, but my guts nearly were ripped from my body!" Karnage said with a smile. "The big ugly lizard guy was a worthy opponent for yours truly."

Carlotta shuddered. "May that be his epitaph! Good riddance!"

"By the way," Vincenzo said, "I suppose I should introduce myself to your lady friend. Unfortunately I don't know a word of English, but..."

"But of course," Karnage said, then, lapsing into English, he turned to Scarlet. "Querida, this is my old Captain and mentor, the great pirate Vincenzo Barzini. Isabella's uncle."

"Buongiorno," Scarlet said as they shook hands, this being the only Italian greeting she knew.

Then, reverting to Italian, he said, "And this, Vincenzo, is the beautiful Scarlet Hindenfur, my..." He paused, realized he had never learned the word for fiancee in Italian, and concluded, "The woman I will marry."

Carlotta and Vincenzo adopted nearly identical looks of astonishment, with the older pirate recovering first. "Indeed? By Vesuvius' flame! Well, congratulations! You must trust that this one won't put a dagger through your ear," he said with a wink.

"I would trust her with my life," he said, and, although Scarlet couldn't understand exactly what they were saying, she knew it was in her favor.

Carlotta smiled widely and clasped her hands in front of her. "Oh, how romantic!"

Karnage cleared his throat in embarassment and tried to frown, but in truth he was too happy even to fake a downcast expression.

Scarlet gave him a peck on the cheek and turned her attentions to Carlotta. "Did you get the treasure on board before we left?"

"Yes," Carlotta said. "Is here."

"Did you open it?"

"Yes. It is just as you said, signora. Gold coins, jewels, and more! You...or your sister...are rich!"

Scarlet grinned and nodded. "Good. At least I didn't go through all this for nothing."

"You know, querida," Karnage said, putting a contemplative hand to his chin, "although you are not a member of the crew, should not a wife share fifty-fifty with her doting husband?"

Scarlet gawked in angry disbelief for a moment, saw the impish twinkle in his eyes, and gave an evil grin. "I'm not your wife yet, you miserable excuse for a pirate!" she chided, whopping him over the head with a pillow.

He laughed and pushed the pillow away, then grabbed her by an uninjured portion of her arm and kissed her.

Vincenzo turned to Carlotta. "Hmm. Both his ears are still intact. Perhaps this one is the girl for him!"

"Oh, uncle," she giggled.

"One of these days, Felipe," Scarlet said with a sigh, sinking back into the pillows, "I'm going to have to slap you for acting like that."

"Not today. I have enough hurts today."

Vincenzo didn't understand his English complaint, but saw that both patients were looking pale and rather the worse for wear. He put a hand on his grand-niece's shoulder and stepped toward the door. "Get some rest, now. I've seen corpses that looked healthier than you two," he said in a paternal tone.

"Good night, Papa," Carlotta said over her shoulder as they departed.

Karnage blanched slightly at the title, but finally nodded and said, "Good night, Carlotta." The door shut quietly, and their footsteps faded into the distance.

Scarlet curled up beside him and closed her eyes, all too eager to go back to sleep. Happiness helped her stave off exhaustion in short bursts, but her battered body did need time to recover.


And recover is exactly what they did. By the time they next awoke, La Paura was docked on its usual pier back in Florence. And there, on board the antique galleon on the Arno River, they stayed. The wounds Baltsaros inflicted were serious, but slowly healed as the days went by. Karnage's crew had no complaints about hanging out in the waterfront taverns, drinking and carousing with Vincenzo's men while their leader recuperated.

One balmy morning, Karnage and Scarlet were enjoying some fresh air on deck, seated in a pair of chairs. Less bandages were necessary now, and although Scarlet still found it difficult walking on her injured leg, for the most part things were getting back to normal. His hand intertwined with hers, Karnage was relating accounts of his adventures in Italy, years ago. Scarlet knew he was embellishing shamelessly, but was too content to protest. If he was aware of her skepticism, he showed no sign.

"...and then I was surrounded by fifty big, nasty men with swords!" he was saying. "All I had to defend myself was a salad fork, but I fought without fear, because I am a marvelous pirate, and escaped without a single scratch!"

Scarlet gave a tolerant smile and nodded.

"And then--"

"--Mama broke you out of jail," finished a young female voice from behind.

"What? No!" he sputtered, turning to see Carlotta.

The girl tried unsuccessfully to stifle a giggle. "Mama says you got arrested a couple times for stealing and fighting, and she says then she came and knocked the guards out of consciousness to get you out of jail."

"Your mother is a liar," Karnage sniffed disdainfully.

Scarlet winked at Carlotta and barely stopped a laugh from escaping. "Why don't you pull up a chair, Carlotta?"

The younger vixen hesitated, glancing at her father's annoyed expression. Scarlet nodded encouragingly, however, so she did as she was told. Once situated in a chair beside him, she fidgeted slightly, twisting a gold bracelet around her wrist. She had, for the most part, stayed out of his way since his arrival. "Papa, I know I have not been very friendly, but I am not sure what to say. There is a word for it...auk-something?"

"Awkward," Scarlet offered.

"That is it. But I did want to give you thanks for killing Baltsaros. He was a bad, bad man, and I had fear that he would kill me. I know you were really meaning to save Scarlet, but you also saved me, and I wanted to say thank you."

Karnage was silent for a moment, looking out over the choppy river. At last he turned to her and lifted her chin into a more confident position. "No one crosses a Karnage and lives to tell the tale," he said with an expression that was almost a smile. "And you are a Karnage, Carlotta."

Her eyes brightened. "Thank you, Papa."

"You are welcome."

"Papa?" she said quietly.

"What?" It was clear he still wasn't comfortable being called that, but Carlotta persisted.

"Do...do you hate me?" she asked with a pained look.

That got his full attention, and he turned to fully face her. "No, of course not!" he said with a frown. "What gave you that estupid idea, you silly girl?"

"I don't know, it's just that you never talk to me unless I talk to you first, and I know I make you feel...what was that word? Awkward."

"Well, yes, but--" He looked at her young face, finding it familiar both in structure and expression: seeking the approval of a father. "Carlotta, you are fine. Really. It is only... I do not know you. And it is awkward. You understand. Your mother and I..." He shrugged and gestured at his ear. "I want nothing to do with her. But I certainly do not hate you. Is not your fault you were born as you were, or that your mother is a--" He paused, looking for a diplomatic word.

"You can say it. Bitch."

"Well...yes."

"She may have a temper, but she is my mother."

"Yes. I know. And understand...it may be awkward for both you and myself, but...you are my daughter. So do not start with the crying again! You are the child of a feared and fabulous pirate. You do not cry."

Carlotta blinked a few times, laughed at her own emotion, and, for only the second time in her life, hugged her father.




As soon as Scarlet's leg had healed enough for her to walk unassisted, the Air Pirates returned to the South Pacific. Vincenzo and Carlotta, at least, were sorry to see them go, but they were comforted by the knowledge that they were invited to the wedding in just a few months. Isabella apparently decided to return the favor of so many years ago by not showing up to say goodbye when Karnage left.

The hijacked cargo plane (still loaded with light bulbs) and Scarlet's small plane flew side-by-side on the way back from Italy. The journey took a few days, as before, but Scarlet and Karnage weren't in much of a hurry. They were together again and nothing could dash their elated mood, although the crew frequently rolled their eyes at their Captain's enamored state. He noticed but planned on dealing with them later...with blunt objects, if necessary.

But first, he wanted to indulge in one of his favorite activities: showing off. And in this case, he was showing off his fiancee. Scarlet's plane landed smoothly at a dock in front of Louie's, next to the Sea Duck. Don Karnage hopped out of the cockpit and then helped Scarlet down. Usually this chivalrous act was merely for show, but her injured leg was still sensitive, so the assistance was useful.

Scarlet was dressed in her favorite khaki pants and a silk blouse in her namesake color, while her companion wore his usual uniform. The monkey mechanics recognized him and hid behind fuel barrels, quaking in terror.

Karnage kicked open the door with a booted foot and stood for a moment, silhouetted, with Scarlet on his arm. Immediately the patrons fell silent, some scrambling for weapons, others hiding beneath their tables. At the bar, Baloo and Kit looked up in alarm from their Krakatoa Specials, and Louie lost his concentration while juggling fruit, and was briefly pelted by bananas. Once satisfied that he had the attention of everyone in the room, Karnage sauntered in, enjoying the curious looks and ignoring the loathing ones. In one agile leap, he was standing on an empty table, and lifted Scarlet up beside him. Her twisted smile hinted at barely contained joy or laughter, or some combination thereof.

"Get your filthy boots off my table and outta my club, Karnage!" Louie yelled.

He drew his sword, pointed it menacingly in Louie's direction, then held it high as if leading an army. "I would not be insulting my cleanliness, you dirty ape. The kettle should not call the sot black, yes-no?"

"That's 'pot', querido," Scarlet whispered, nudging him in the ribs.

"Whatever," he hissed out of the side of his mouth. Then, putting an arm around her waist and making a grand gesture, he said loudly, "I am here to announce that this stunningly beautiful vixen has agreed to become the wife of my magnificent self!" He pulled her close with one arm, the other still holding the upraised sword, and tipped her back with a passionate kiss.

Numerous groans and jeers erupted from the clientele.

"Aw, geez," Baloo moaned, rolling his eyes.

Kit laughed derisively, put a finger down his throat and made gagging noises.

Louie was unimpressed. "She must be as crazy as you, Karnage!"

"Get a room!" shouted one of the waiters.

"People are trying to eat in here!" called a Khan pilot.

"Yer makin' us sick!" his partner chimed in.

"Someone wants to marry Karnage? Isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse?"

"Now I've seen everything," sighed Wiley Pole.

"Give it a rest!"

"Yet I still can't get a date!" yelled a drunken warthog.

"Somebody get a bucket of cold water!"

"Get outta here!"

"Who would want to be 'Mrs. Scum-sucking Thief'?"

"Go jump off the pier!"

"Waiter! Cancel my order! I just lost my appetite!"

When the two pirates had to stop for air, Scarlet laughed despite herself and blushed a little. Karnage gave her a lovesick grin, then frowned murderously at the jeering crowd. Being mocked was always a sure way to ignite his temper. "You flea-bitten bunch of--"

"NOOOOOOOOO!!!" came a sudden screech from the back of the room. Karnage turned, looked, and panicked. There, in the doorway to Louie's office, was an orangutan in a dumpy yellow dress and a flight cap, mouth agog and eyes wide as saucers. "No, my little fajita! No! You can't marry her! She can't love you like I can!"

"Did I mention my Aunt Louise was visitin'?" Louie said, smirking.

"Whohoo, you should sell tickets for this," Baloo chuckled.

"Oh, no, please, my Latin lovebird! Please!" Louise wailed, running across the room. Despite his best efforts to avoid her, she latched onto his legs with an iron grip and clung there, weeping.

"Er...another old girlfriend I should know about?" Scarlet asked with a crooked smile and a lowered eyebrow.

"No, no, no, you don't understand," he stammered, attempting to push Louise off. "She is nothing! She is crazy!"

"Crazy for you, sugar!" Louise crooned.

"I thought you hated that word," Scarlet teased.

"I do, but she is! Get off, madame!"

"But my darling Don! I'm the only one for you! You're the apple of my eye! The light of my life! The--" Louise shrieked.

"Get off me this instant!" Karnage yelled, straining to break her hold on his legs. "Querida, help!"

By this time Scarlet was giggling too hard to be of much use, but together they finally managed to free him from the grasp of the unwanted suitor, if only for a moment. That moment was all he needed. He was out the door like a lightning bolt, with Louise hot on his heels, and Scarlet not far behind her. "No! Come back, my sweet corsair of amor! Don't leave me!"

Scarlet grabbed a broom from a waiter and began beating at Louise's back with it. "He's my corsair of amor, now, sister!"

As the feuding trio disappeared out the door, Louie's customers broke into uproarious laughter. The jocular mood was to last for quite some time...




On 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 Connell 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.