Two pilots entered Louie's place, looking somewhat stunned and shaking their heads. "You boys look a little dazed," one of the bartending monkeys pointed out.
"You'd be a little confused too if you'd just gotten robbed blind by a six-year-old!" one of them blurted out.
Everyone within earshot stopped what they were doing, and the room grew quiet enough that you could hear a pin drop. "Okay, you have to tell us this story," the bartender prodded.
They had expected it to be a routine air pirate stop. The air pirates were annoying, but an expected cost of doing business in the Cape Suzette area. It was just one of those things you took out insurance for and hoped they wouldn't look your way if you were carrying anything too irreplaceable. They had not expected that the crew descending on them would be carrying a small girl with them.
She was a little red wolf girl in what appeared to be a kid's pirate Halloween costume, complete with artificially jagged edges. Her bright red head fur was styled into two long braids with giant black ribbons, decorated with skulls on top of the knot. The immediate connection to the pirate leader was obvious, as she looked so much like him. Despite that, she would have been adorable if she hadn't had an entire squad of armed pirates behind her.
"Please to excuse the change in protocol, but it is my daughter's birthday, and she wanted to help daddy. Didn't you, girl baby?" Karnage asked the little girl, setting her down on the plane floor.
"I'm not a baby, I'm a big girl!" she pouted.
Karnage prodded her slightly forward. "Okay, dear, you are a very big brave girl. Now remember what daddy told you to say to the fools."
"Okay!" she said brightly and pulled out a very small sword from her belt. "Give me all your stuff please!" Noticeably, it appeared to be a real sword.
"Maria Anneliese Karnage! Mind your language," her father corrected. "Pirates do not say please."
She nodded very seriously. "Give me all your stuff, NOW!" she corrected herself. The pilots wanted to laugh, but they were afraid of how her parental unit and his goon squad would react. She was tiny and ridiculous, but the situation itself was deadly serious. They were also kind of in shock over the whole thing. They knew Karnage was dangerously psychotic but bringing his small daughter along on a pirate raid seemed over the top even for him.
As the pirates were helping themselves to the plane's cargo, Maria started urgently tugging on her father's coat tails. "Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom!" she whined.
"I told you to go before we left the Vulture."
"I didn't have to go poop when we left," she answered.
Her dad grabbed her up and made a very hasty exit, ordering the crew to take care of the rest of the raid while he made an emergency run back to their flagship.
How had things come to this? Well, that morning, everyone at Pirate Island had been lounging around the base until they got up the motivation to go out and stalk some planes for profit. "Hey, boss?" Hacksaw asked, coming down from the radio room. "There's an incoming plane that isn't one of ours but it's giving a correct radio code. What do I do?"
Karnage looked up from reading the Beautiful and the Damned. "What radio code is it giving?"
"Diamond one-one-three-nine, fox nine-twelve, goddess."
There was a pause, then a screech as his boss jumped to his feet. "CLEAN UP EVERYTHING!" he shouted, waving his arms. "Take all the trash and... I do not know... hide it under the rug! If you are not wearing the clothing, at least put a shirt on! Hide the dirty magazines and try for once in your miserable lives to look presentable!"
When the plane landed inside the base, two thick bulldogs in suits stepped out. You could immediately tell they were mob-associated from their look, the way they carried themselves, and even the type of machine guns they were holding. Behind them emerged a very well-dressed wolf woman with short, wavy brown head fur and piercing brown eyes. She was wearing an excessive amount of jewelry, and the pirates recognized several pieces as ones Karnage had kept for himself.
"Donatella, love of my life, light of my sky, what brings you to my humble base?"
She grabbed him by the front his coat. "Don't you love of my life me, you flea-bitten excuse for an alpha male. Did you forget your own daughter's birthday!?" she demanded. Of course, they were speaking to one another in their native languages, so the rest of the group had no idea what they were saying. Their native languages weren't quite the same but were close enough that they could understand one another regardless, so each of them was speaking in a completely different tongue to the other.
"Of-of course not! What a silly notion! Ha ha ha! The gift must be... ah... delayed in the mail?"
"You would think you'd be better at lying to me by now," she said angrily and released him. She looked up and down the ragged crew with a skeptical eye. "Greetings, underlings," she said, switching to English. "You may cower in respect before me. Otherwise, Bruiser and Cruiser will teach you how to do it," she said. She snapped her fingers, and the two thick bulldogs took a step forward.
The tension was suddenly broken by a very small wolf girl emerging from behind her mother, running down the boarding plank and jumping up into Karnage's arms. "DADDY!" she squealed happily, and her dad was glad to have her to use as a block between himself and her mother.
"Introduce us to your pack," the woman ordered.
"Crew, this is my wife, Donatella," he said, changing his position a little bit to be extra sure the little girl was between him and her mother's wrath. "And my daughter Maria. Maria, Donatella, this is my crew."
Jaws dropped in unison. "Your- your WIFE?!" Dumptruck asked in absolute shock. He would have thought, as the second mate, if anyone knew that his boss was married, he would have known. He especially thought he would have known about a child.
"We are both from a very rare subspecies of wolf coming from the noble family lineage of the big bad wolf's pack," Donatella explained. Her accent was far less garbled than her husband's. "Our marriages are very carefully arranged by the elders to ensure maintenance of the bloodline without inbreeding. They arranged our wedding when we were children. No one says no to the elders and lives to tell the tale," she said through a wide, fanged grin. Suddenly they understood why every other month, their boss would disappear for a week or so. He would never tell anyone where he was going, and those who had tried to follow him... tended not to come back.
Switching once again back to speaking their own languages, Karnage asked, "While it is very nice to see you always, Donatella, why did you choose today to come to my humble island?"
"Because your daughter was going to cry if she didn't get to spend her birthday with her daddy, and you know what my father does to anyone who makes my daughter cry," she answered sharply.
"But, mi amor, I am very busy with the raids and the pirating and..."
"And you think I'm not busy? I have a couple of men that will be meeting the fishies if they don't bring what they owe me by five tonight. Besides, it will be good for her to spend some time learning her father's trade in case she decides she wants to take after your side of the family instead of mine. Don't try to tell me your job is no place for her. She's the child of two prominent crime families so she needs to learn how to get things done eventually. I don't want her growing up thinking women can't be as feared as men."
"Are you telling me to take a six-year-old on a raid?"
"I am. You think she hasn't seen a hit or two by now? This is nothing new for her." She reached over and ruffled the fur on their daughter's head. "You love to see the funny faces and noises people make when they fall down and go to sleep, don't you?"
"Funny faces!" she replied cheerfully.
"I'll be back for her on Monday. If anything happens to her, don't think that I would hesitate to put my own husband in a coffin."
When she and her two goons took off again, the stunned pirates had nothing but questions. The first one was obvious. "Why- why didn't you tell us you were married, boss?" Mad Dog asked.
"It is… complications," he said, bouncing his daughter slightly and swinging her on his hip. She was looking at the pirates with huge, shining eyes and wagging her tail. He covered her ears with his hand long enough to answer them, not wanting his daughter to repeat his answer to her mother. "It is not as much a marriage as a breeding arrangement. They do not as care much for who I am, but who my parents and their parents were. If you do not want cement boots, you do not say no to a proposition from La Familia."
"Is this your only kid?" Mad Dog asked.
"Yes, not for lack of trying," he answered shortly.
Maria was getting bored with the questioning and squirmed out so that her ears were uncovered. "What's his name?" she asked, pointing directly at Mad Dog's face.
"This is my first mate, Mad Dog."
She blinked, then cocked her head curiously to the side. "Why are you mad?" she asked, looking at him.
"I'm… it's… it means I'm big and dangerous and scary," he said, trying to flex his arms. It wasn't very impressive.
"Why aren't you Scary Dog?" she asked.
"I mean, I'm just… um… not…"
"Why?" she asked.
Karnage tried to redirect her attention. "Over here in the very stylish hat, we have my second mate, Dumptruck," he introduced.
"Hello, little lady," he said, giving her a slight bow.
"Hi Dumb Tuck!" she cried excitedly. The other pirates snickered.
Jock saw his opportunity to FINALLY correct his name and possibly get Karnage to stop calling him Scotty. "Hello, Maria. I'm-"
"Scotty!" she cried happily, pointing. "That's Scotty daddy!" Poor Jock wanted to cry. She pointed over at Hal. "Hal is a kitty. Gibber wears boots like daddy," she said. Dumptruck and Mad Dog were both annoyed that Karnage seemed to have bothered to teach his daughter the names of the other pirates, but not their names.
"Do you know who I am?" Hacksaw asked.
She seemed to be thinking very hard. "Stinky?" she asked, which set off another round of laughter from the pirates.
"I told you, you need to do your laundry, man," Hal said. Rachet was down in his workshop, and Sadie and Will were… somewhere. For the moment, that took care of introductions.
Everything was going reasonably well with fatherhood duties. The crew even managed to get Maria down for a nap with relatively little fuss. It wasn't until it was time for dinner that things became problematic again.
"I don't like it," she said, pushing her plate away and sticking out her tongue. "It's smelly," she said with a frown.
"At least try it before you knock on it," Karnage argued back.
"I don't want it," she insisted, arms crossed. She was sitting on a pile of pilfered books, since the pirates didn't exactly have a dedicated highchair around.
"Aw, come on," Dumptruck said. "Look, it's very yummy. Yum yum yum," he said, trying to emphasize to her that it was, indeed, edible.
"If you think its yummy you eat it," she said, picking up the plate and squashing it directly in this face. After the plate fell off, it left a streak of food across the poor pirate's face.
"She's definitely your daughter, captain," he said dryly.
"I want spaghetti!" she insisted angrily.
"We don't have any spaghetti."
"I WANT SPAGHETTI!" she said angrily. Then she started to howl, which was the wolf child equivalent of a screaming tantrum. It was hard to believe such a tiny wolf could make so much noise. It was making the pirates ears' hurt.
"Okay, okay, we'll find the spaghetti! Just stop screaming!" Karnage said, hands over his ears.
She immediately stopped and wagged her tail. "Thanks daddy, love you."
Of course, though, it wasn't like pirates could exactly just go to the market and pick up whatever they wanted. Finding a plane carrying the exact groceries she wanted in the timeline an angry six-year-old would tolerate was a tall order. There was one other option, although Karnage didn't like it. It was dealing with Louie's place and hoping they would have what she wanted.
It turned out that Karnage was not the only man dealing with entertaining a small girl on that day. Rebecca had come down with a very bad cold. Baloo and Kit had agreed to watch Molly, although Rebecca hadn't seemed very sold on the idea. After a failed attempt to cook for Molly, to the point where that pan would never be useable again, they decided to make a quick jaunt out to Louie's. Only after they had sworn Molly to absolute secrecy, of course. Baloo was therefor very displeased to see the pirates show up.
Louie also didn't like the pirates dropping by. "What are you doing here? You know you're not welcome," he said coldly when Karnage and his two closest minions stormed into the place.
"I am not here for the fight, nor am I in the mood for one. Just please tell me you sell spaghetti."
Louie was kind of surprised. After a moment, he asked "This wouldn't have anything to do with a rumor of a six-year-old pirate, would it?" he asked.
Before Karnage could answer, Maria popped up from behind the pirates and shouted "HI HI," waving.
"Maria, I told you to wait in the plane," Karnage said, grabbing her hand.
"The plane is boring," she said stubbornly. It was then that she noticed Molly peeking out from Baloo, who was trying to hide her from the pirates. Her eyes lit up and her tail was going fast enough to make a breeze. "HI HI! I'm a pirate, I'm six!" she said, breaking away from her father and running towards Molly.
"Hi!" Molly said, jumping out from Baloo. "I'm Molly, and I'm six too, who are you?"
"I'm Maria," she replied excitedly.
Karnage shouted Maria's name at the same time Baloo shouted Molly's name, and they both pulled their respective girls backwards. "We don't talk to smelly cargo pilots," Karnage informed her.
"Smelly?! At least I don't have fleas," Baloo shot back.
"But daddy, I want to sit with Molly!" she said, pointing.
"And I want to sit with Maria," Molly agreed.
"NO!" their parental stand-ins both said in unison.
Equally in unison, the girls began to sniffle as their little eyes filled with tears.
And that was how Baloo and Kit ended up at one table, glaring at the Air Pirates seated at the next table, while Molly and Maria were coloring together. They had brought one of Molly's coloring books and her crayons. Molly was coloring on the left page and Maria was coloring on the right page.
"My daddy is a pirate!" Maria said excitedly. She pointed at Baloo. "What's your daddy?"
"Baloo's not my dad, he works for my mom," Molly responded.
Maria nodded. Considering her mother's position, the idea of men working for a woman wasn't strange to her. "Is he a caporegime or a solider?" Of course, the words didn't come out pronounced perfectly.
"He's a pilot?" Molly answered in confusion.
"Your daughter is in the mob?' Baloo asked incredulously, noticing her use of words.
"Of course not," Karnage scoffed. "Her mother is."
"I didn't know he had a kid," Kit said quietly enough that Baloo would hear it but Karnage would not.
After looking back and forth a few times between Baloo and her dad, Maria said "I bet my dad would beat your Baloo in a fight."
"He would not!" Molly argued back.
That was how Baloo found himself engaged in an unexpected arm-wrestling match with Karnage. They were both extremely dedicated to the idea of not losing, so things were getting as things could get in an arm-wrestling fight. The tables at Louie's were not the best balanced of tables, however, and before a conclusion could be reached the uneven weight they were putting on the table caused it to flip, spilling both across the floor. The girls thought it was hilarious. That seemed to be how an arm-wrestling match can come to a draw.
"Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack, all dressed in black black black…" Maria taught Molly as they clapped together. Molly laughed loudly when they got to the section about the elephant jumping so high that he didn't come back. The girls played and played until they both were so tired they were falling asleep in their chairs. Not that either of their caregivers minded having their excitable wards wind down. Carrying their sleepy kids back to their respective planes was preferable to having to chase the kids down to the docks.
It was only later when Karnage was preparing his daughter for a bath that he noticed a change in her outfit. As he was untying her braids, he discovered that one of her black hair ribbons had been swapped for a blue ribbon. "Where did you get this?" he asked, looking over it.
"I traded with Molly," she said brightly. "I can tie the bow myself because I'm a big girl!"
Back in Cape Suzette, Rebecca was glad to have gotten some sleep, but she was far happier to have her daughter back safely. She even thought that perhaps Baloo hadn't messed things up. That was, until she noticed the change in ribbons. "Balooooooo… what is this?" Rebecca asked, although it came out in a snuffy nasally tone. She was holding the black ribbon with the skull on it. Baloo hadn't even noticed the swap, because noticing outfits wasn't really his thing. Well, he was also kind of distracted considering the weird night he had just experienced. "Why is my daughter wearing a ribbon with a pirate skull and crossbones on it?"
"Um…" he replied nervously.
Back at Pirate Island, Karnage noted the extreme irony of giving his daughter a bath. She was the one who took the bath. He was the one who got thoroughly soaked. "Daddy, sing me a song," she said with a yawn as he put her into bed.
It took him awhile to mentally go through all the songs he knew to find one that would be appropriate for a sleepy young child. Finally, he settled on a safe choice. She was asleep by the time he finished.
Nothing else exciting happened between then and Monday. Mostly, the other pirates played games like hide and seek with Maria. That was, until not being able to find Maria for close to an hour threw her father into an absolute blind panic. It turned out she'd fallen asleep while hiding. Donatella was in a significantly better mood when she returned as well.
"How was your working weekend?" Karnage asked in his language.
"I got brains on my best heels, so not the best," she answered in hers. "Yours?"
Maria was sound asleep on his shoulder. "I think she had a good time."
Donatella shook her head, giving a soft smile. "You did a good job with her. I shouldn't have been so short with you. I've been under a lot of stress with work, but I'm sure your work is also stressful."
"No, you were right. I shouldn't have forgotten our daughter's birthday."
"Well… I hope you're prepared to have to remember a second one," she said as she took the sleeping Maria back in her arms. "I'm pregnant again. The family is hoping this one will be a boy, but I think I would like another girl," she said. "I'll see you in two months." With that, she turned around and returned to her plane, leaving her husband behind stammering in shock.
Author's note: I wanted to write some cute fic involving a villain character I like because it's quarantine and I was bored, but I did make some choices regarding this particular character and how they affected the story. Don Karnage is ABSOLUTELY a narcissist; I think you'd have a hard time arguing otherwise. This is why I made Donatella part of the mob. She needed to be a strong enough character to keep him in line in order for the story to work. He would simply steamroll over anyone who didn't have enough strength behind them to keep his worst impulses in check. So I'm not trying to write a "love reformed this character". He still loves himself more than anything. Maria is an extension of himself and he loves her in that capacity (as much as the idea of "love" other than self love can occur to him), and if he did anything too serious to hurt her, her mom would put him in an early grave. So yeah, I like writing cute fic, but I'm not trying to excuse or "reform" this character.
Also note this is slightly different from versions posted elsewhere due to differing rules about songfic and use of quotations.