What's in a Name
Summary: Life was finally looking up for the young Doctor, married to the love of his life and joyously awaiting their first child. But when the invitation to the 129th Semi Annual Trent Family Reuinion came in the mail, he felt it all slipping gradually away.
Disclaimer: The characters of Doctor and Elli, as well as those of the barely-mentioned Karen and Mary, are the creations and property of Marvelous Interactive Inc., and are used here without permission, but also not for profit. All other...um, caricatures belong to me, for what it's worth.
Notes: I was on a message board a while ago that had established so many rules regarding what we could and couldn't name the good Doctor that I got confused, and opted to go with exactly what he was called in the game: Doctor. Thus, this story was born. Please forgive me, I am an incurable smartass. Or was that dumbass...?
It was a lovely day in the small mountain village of Mineral Town.
The sun was shining brightly, the scent of newly grown grass and Spring flowers wafted gently through the air on a light Spring breeze, the birds were singing sweetly in the trees, and the cute fluffy little animals were frolicking adorably in the grass.
Just to his right, a pretty young brunette was stretched out on the couch, reading intently from a book on baby care, her short lacy white skirt sliding up legs that remained beautifully shaped despite her swelling tummy.
All in all, it was easily the worst day of his life.
Elli looked up, alarmed, as he gave an unearthly groan of a man who has lost all hope.
"Doctor, what's wrong?" she demanded, hurrying over. "Is it your stomach again? I told you, you don't have to keep eating that pie just to humour me; I know it tastes terrible, and to tell you the truth, I think it's potentially dangerous—"
"It's not the pie, Elli," he sighed, arms winding around her waist and pulling her gently into his lap as she examined his pupils carefully. "We fed the rest of it to Ann, remember? But take a look at this."
Obediently accepting the slip of paper he held out, she fell silent, scanning the neatly handwritten letter. After a long moment, she looked up, confused.
"You're having a family reunion? What's wrong with that?"
"Oh, God, I forgot," he groaned even more painfully. "You've never met my family before."
She fixed him with the stern look she had perfected through years of big-sisterhood.
"Doctor, they can't be that bad." She shrugged slightly. "I don't know; I think it sounds like fun. I'd really like to meet some of your family, if I'm invited."
"Selfish man that I am, I wouldn't even think of going through this without you. I just hope that your first move after meeting them isn't tofile fordivorce because you can't stand the thought of being related to a set like this.
"Okay, now you're just being silly," she said impatiently, giving him a gentle swat across the back of the head.
"You don't understand," he said, voice like lead. "The competing, the feuding, the periodic duels—"
"Will I get to see you in tights and a frock coat?" she squealed excitedly.
"No," he replied flatly.
"Darn. Well, I think it sounds like fun anyway, and I'm looking forward to it, even if you're not."
He sighed again, cuddling her close.
"Can't we just stay home and give each other appendectomies instead?
Unfortunately, Elli had never been terribly fond of operating or undergoing operation as a means of entertainment, and so approximately six days, twenty-two hours, and fifty-seven minutes saw them approaching the community center rented out by his grandparents to facilitate a gathering of more relatives than he could name on a good day.
He yelped as her elbow dug sharply into his side.
"You look like you're being led to the executioner's block, Doctor," she muttered aside before giving a passing trio of little girls a beaming smile. "A family reunion can't possibly be that bad. And if it is," she continued hastily, sensing a vehement protest,"it's only a few hours, anyway."
"A few hours too many," he sighed.
The young pair turned, Elli blinking in surprise that his own family would address him thus and the doctor groaning in despair, toward the source of the call.
A tall, handsome young woman hurried toward them, clad in a gray skirt suit and clutching a briefcase, longish dark hair immaculately styled and containing so much hairspray that not even a hurricane could have dislodged it.
"Oh…it's good to see you," the doctor finally said with a slightly forced smile, allowing himself to be pulled into an entirely one-sided hug.
Elli watched, giggling at the way her husband's arms dangled awkwardly at his side. The dark-haired woman's smile widened as her mist-grey eyes lit on the onlooker.
"And who is this little beauty?"
"Ah! Lawyer, this is my wife, Elli. Elli, this is my older sister, Lawyer."
"Elli! That's a…different name," Lawyer commented hesitantly, nevertheless giving the bewildered younger girl's hand a firm shake and patting her gently on the shoulder. "It's very nice to meet you. And are you two expecting a little one?"
"Y-yes, we are," Elli replied, her mind still trying to comprehend the possibility that her husband had never shared his real name with her, simply because he had none to share.
"Ten weeks to go," Doctor added, glowing with just a hint of pride in spite of the current circumstances.
Lawyer's eyes grew misty.
"Well, this is wonderful news. Goodness, I didn't even know that my baby brother was a married man, and now he's going to be a father in a few months!"
"Lawyer," Doctor groaned as he found his hair affectionately mussed by a manicured, heavily be-ringed hand.
"Oh, lighten up, Doctor," Lawyer chided gently. She scanned the small knot of people gathering in front of the community center to catch up on years apart. "Do you know if Theoretical Mathematician is here yet?"
"Our cousin," the aforementioned Doctor explained aside to his bride, who had begun to look badly in need of Advil. "No, I haven't seen him."
"Ohh, I hope he didn't decide to skip this year," Lawyer pouted. "I haven't seen him since he started working for that weapons manufacturer…Izod, Ipod, whatever it was."
"Izon," the doctor corrected automatically. "Ah, there was something about them in the paper the other day," he explained hastily as both women looked at him strangely.
Lawyer shook her head disapprovingly.
"They're overworking him terribly."
"Well, that's business, you know, Lawyer," a deep, humorous voice said philosophically.
Lawyer whirled about, and broke into a delighted smile.
"Theoretical Mathematician! You made it after all!"
"Of course I did!" the lanky, wild-haired, bespectacled fellow chuckled. "Remember, Lawyer, you're the one who missed the last reunion."
"I was in the middle of a very important case," she protested. "And anyway," she added, leaning in closer to her cousin and lowering her voice, "Uncle Morris Dancer and Aunt Bar Wench were there, weren't they?"
"Mmm, I think you're right," Theoretical Mathematician agreed with a grimace. "But we all just counted our blessings that they decided to leave Unemployed Slacker at home."
"Hold on," Doctor interjected, horrified. "He's still living at home? How old is he now?"
"Oh, thirty-five, at least," Lawyer replied scornfully. "I don't know why Bar Wench and Morris Dancer put up with it."
Theoretical Mathematician gave a humorless little chuckle.
"Perhaps they're welcoming the chance to keep an eye on him. After what happened with—"
"I don't think we need to discuss him at the moment," Lawyer broke in hastily, with an alarmed glance at Elli, who was leaning forward, expression somewhere between terribly anxious and terribly curious.
Theoretical Mathematician gave another ghost of a laugh that ended in a sigh, and then brightened as he turned to his other cousin.
"Ah, Doctor! How have you been?"
"Oh, you know, the usual," Doctor replied with an uncomfortable shrug.
"The usual?" Lawyer repeated. "Hardly. My baby brother here is all grown up now, Theoretical Mathematician. He's beat all of us to the altar, and they're expecting a child!"
"Wonderful!" Theoretical Mathematician exclaimed, clapping Doctor on the shoulder and grinning at Elli. "I suppose this is the lucky young lady?"
"Um, yes, sir," Elli said, fidgeting a little. "I'm Elli."
It took the bespectacled man a moment to process this.
"Oh, how unique," he finally commented, taking her hand. "Well, it's been very nice to see you again, Doctor, and lovely to meet you…uh, Elli." He turned to Lawyer. "I've been looking around for Obstetrician and Brain Surgeon; why don't you come with and help me scout?"
"Some other cousins of ours," Doctor explained aside to Elli. "Actually, I think you and Obstetrician will get along very well – you have a lot in common."
"O-oh," Elli said rather helplessly, her pleasant smile plastered firmly in place.
"We'll see you two at dinner, alright?" Lawyer called over her shoulder as she hurried after Theoretical Mathematician.
"It was nice to meet you!" Elli called back with a little wave. Then, once they were safely out of earshot, she shook her head. "Wow…and I thought you just didn't like your real name."
"What do you mean, sweetheart?"
"Well, I just didn't know that Doctor was your real name," she giggled softly. "I thought your real name was something embarrassing, and you just had everyone in town call you Doctor because you didn't want to be teased and laughed at."
He sighed, leading her quickly over to a bench along the side of the brick building as she shifted uncomfortably to alleviate some of the ache in her knees from the added weight of their newest family member.
"I just wish that was the worst of it."
"Don't be silly, Doctor," Elli chided gently, purring with contentment as he pulled her leg over his and rubbed soothing circles over her knees and calves. "Your sister and your cousin seem very nice."
He chuckled mirthlessly, letting his hands wander higher up her thigh to cheer himself up a bit.
"It'll get worse, Elli. That I promise you."
"Why, are these Morris Dancer and Bar Wench planning on attending?" Elli asked with a disapproving look as he groaned in despair.
"God, I hope not."
"Doctor! This is your family you're talking about! Everyone's got a few strange relatives. There's no need to ostracize them like you and your sister and cousin are doing, though. And anyway, I think it would be kind of neat to have a Morris Dancer in the family!"
"You haven't met them," he reminded her sternly. He wrapped his arms around her and hid his face in her shoulder. "And when you do, I think you'll see why I haven't come home in years."
"Pessimist," she grumbled teasingly, tugging lightly at the ends of his hair as they fell forward into his eyes.
"What does my uncle have to do with this?"
Elli stopped short, then shook her head.
"I don't know why I'm surprised…"
"Hold on, you said her name is what?"
"Elli," Theoretical Mathematician replied with a gesture of bafflement.
"Oh, don't be silly," an elderly, heavily mustached man scoffed. "That's not a real name."
"Dad!" Lawyer protested in a whisper. "She's a very nice girl; I hardly think her name matters."
"Well, no, of course not. But Elli? First Morris Dancer and Bar Wench show up with Unemployed Slacker all but unannounced, and now this?"
Nodding her reluctant agreement, Lawyer sighed.
"It is a shame. She's such a sweet little thing to have had such cruel parents."
"Well, never mind that," a tall, slim elderly lady in a dress of deep purple silk, salt-and-pepper hair attractively arranged, interjected. "I want to meet my new daughter-in-law. Honestly, Doctor, you know that poor Doctor Jr. has never been good with girls. We ought to count our blessings that we have a daughter-in-law to discuss."
"I suppose you're right, Nurse," the elderly man agreed, a grumble heavily implied in his voice. "I wonder how she would feel about a legal name change…"
"Elli, come over here for a moment," Doctor (the younger edition) called to the pretty brunette deeply engaged in conversation with her husband's aunt, Mother of Twelve, by the punch bowl.
"What is it, sweetie?" Elli asked breathlessly. "Your aunt was just giving me some ideas on where to shop for baby clothes, and what to do if the little one develops colic."
"Don't worry, Elli, Aunt Mother of Twelve will be there until the punch is gone," Doctor chuckled rather guiltily. The poor woman's plight was far from funny, but some of the less-than-flattering tender epithets she could come up with for her husband with a bowl of rum punch in her system were terribly amusing. "You can finish your conversation later, if she's not passed out by then."
"Would I be correct in assuming that she gets along with your Aunt Bar Wench?" Elli asked wisely.
"As a matter of fact, I think they did hit it off rather well. But I just saw my grandparents, and I would like to introduce you."
"Oh! Okay," Elli agreed happily, trotting along behind him with all the maneuverability a woman could possibly expect to have when seven months pregnant and resembling nothing so much, to her mind, as a beach ball clad in lacy pink.
He strode quickly across the increasingly crowded room, both its floors and its walls covered in dark wood, towards the cheerful, white-haired couple seated comfortably at one of the room's many round tables covered in lavish tablecloths of gold and navy blue.
"Grandmother," he greeted warmly, tapping the tiny old woman's shoulder gently. "How are you?"
"Oh, Doctor Jr.!" she gasped, rising stiffly from her seat to engulf her grandson in a surprisingly tight hug. "You look wonderful, dear!" He winced as her fingers found his cheek and gave it a fierce pinch. "Your grandfather and I have been doing well, thank-you. He's recently discovered a passionate love of golf," she added aside with a chuckle, "so I've had plenty of free time to pursue my own interests."
"So, Granddad, you've been taking advantage of the proximity of the golf courses, have you?" Doctor laughed to the beaming, bearded man turning in his seat and hooking his thumbs comfortably into his belt.
"Absolutely," the old man boomed with a hearty laugh. "Remember, young man, golf is one of life's rarest and most valuable pleasures."
Elli giggled softly from her position hiding shyly behind her husband's shoulder, and blushed brightly as four slate-gray eyes, lined with age, lit curiously on her.
"Oh, so this is the sweet little bride we've heard so much about!" the old lady crooned, moving to catch Elli in a warm hug, with slight difficulty, due to her great-grandchild wedged firmly between the women as though craving to be involved in the fun.
"Yes, Ma'am," Elli smiled politely.
"Elli, this is my grandmother, Bingo Enthusiast, and my grandfather, Florida Retiree. Grandmother, Granddad, this is my wife," he added.
"It's nice to meet you!" Elli chirped happily. "I'm Elli."
Bingo Enthusiast and Florida Retiree, who had been well prepared for the girl's odd name by their son and daughter-in-law, merely exchanged quick dubious looks and resumed beaming her.
Doctor's eyes flitted nervously from his grandfather to his grandmother, and finally to Elli. Thankfully, she seemed to notice nothing of his family's reactions.
"Son!" was all the warning he received before being dragged forcibly into another tight, and this time rather bony, embrace.
"Hello, Mom," he choked, patting her back lightly as his air supplies were abruptly cut off.
"And Elli, is it? Oh, it's wonderful to meet our little Doctor Jr.'s bride," she continued, turning to hug a slightly befuddled Elli, blissfully unaware of her son gasping for air behind her.
"Hi, Dad," he greeted once he had recovered.
"Hello, Son," Doctor Sr. responded, giving his son's hand a firm shake.
"Oh, don't be silly, Doctor," Nurse tsked, looking up from her delighted inspection of her daughter-in-law's swelling tummy. "Give your son a hug!"
Reluctantly, the two men moved to hug, and Elli giggled.
"He gets his cuddly nature from his father, huh?"
"My antisocial menfolk," the older woman said, shaking her head and trying without much success to fight back a smile.
"I think it's kind of cute," Elli confided.
Nuse smiled fondly.
"Well, I suppose it was rather endearing when the pastor invited Doctor here to kiss the bride, and he kissed me on the cheek."
"Oh, I took my kiss by force," Elli said proudly.
Just as two generations of Doctors protested at their wives sharing stories like that,an elderly man stepped to the front of the room with a microphone in hand.
"Good evening, family and…well, family." A series of polite chuckles followed. "Welcome to this year's reunion of the Trent family. I'm Compulsive Organizer, and I'll be your MC for the evening. In just a few moments, dinner will be served, so if everyone could please find their seats—"
"We can get the real party started!" proclaimed a voice of such overblown evil that Elli could practically hear his cape and curly black pencil mustache.
As one, the entire Trent family whipped about to stare in horror at the youngish masked man striding up the center isle from the back of the room.
"My God," Doctor Sr. gasped. "It's Archvillain!"
"Arch…villain," Elli repeated in utter disbelief.
"Yes," Doctor Jr. whispered intensely to her. "It's Morris Dancer and Bar Wench's eldest son."
Elli gave a despairing little moan and flopped forward on the table.
"Great. There are no Genocidal Maniacs lurking in your family, are there?"
"Hush, Elli," the younger of the two Doctors at that table hissed, moving to shield her as his cousin neared.
"Ah, Uncle Wealthy Chauvinistic Millionaire!" Archvillain was meanwhile saying with a gleeful cackle, approaching the table around which were crowded that same Millionaire, Mother of Twelve and their unimaginatively named youngsters, One through Twelve. He withdrew a very complex, gadget-ey looking gun from within his cape and turned it on the family. "Loan me twenty bucks? Or I'll vaporize these cute little youngsters and their mother?"
"No, no, I'll give you the money!"
"Twenty bucks?" Elli muttered to her husband as the money changed hands. "If he is an archvillain, he's not a very good one."
"Elli, for God's sake, be quiet!" Doctor Jr. implored, flinching as Archvillain turned briefly back towards their table, and releasing a tense breath as a different table caught the cape-clad man's eye.
"Mother!" he exclaimed, eyes alight with sadistic glee. "The woman I have to thank for setting me down this dark path!"
"Oh, Son," Bar Wench whispered brokenly, the lights quivering in her soft fluffy pale blonde hair as she buried her face in her hands.
Morris Dancer took her hand tenderly, then turned to survey his son, his gaze heavy with sorrow.
"Your mother and I had hoped to impart to you that a name is just a name. You once had such hopes to do something great. What happened, Archvillain?"
"What happened?" he echoed incredulously, tossing his cape dramatically over his shoulder. "What do you think happened? I had my heart set on the priesthood, studied night and day, and day and night, and double-time on weekends! And still I was rejected, because they said I sounded like a rabble-rouser!"
"That's when you go back and try again," Morris Dancer said gently. "And keep going back and going back, until they see that you're truly serious a life in the cloister. With your intelligence, son, it would have been merely a matter of time before Pope Archvillain the First became a reality."
"And from there, only a matter of time before I was labeled the fulfillment of end-times prophecy, and pummeled with copies of some bizarre best-selling series of novels on the subject."
"It's still not too late, Son," his father urged, taking his son's gloved hand in his free one.
"IT'S BEEN TOO LATE SINCE THE DAY YOU GAVE BIRTH TO ME!"
"Uh, actually, that was Mom," a hitherto unheard voice pointed out.
Archvillain glared sharply at the scraggly-haired middle-aged man, sporting a patchy beard and badly mussed hair in stark contrast to the neatly-creased slacks and sweater-vest his mother had wrestled him into.
"Hello, brother," the cape-wearin' fellow spat. "I see you're living up to your title, as ever, sponging off Mom and Dad, sleeping until noon. It shouldn't be a surprise to see you here; when has my little brother, Unemployed Slacker, ever turned down the chance for a free meal?"
Unemployed Slacker laughed bitterly.
"Oh, Archvillain. You seem to think that you're the only one who got elbowed into your lifepath by your name. Do you have any idea how seriously the general public takes an aspiring physicist with a name like Unemployed Slacker?" A silence, as Archvillain apparently did not know. "About as seriously as they take a priest named Archvillain."
Archvillain's dark eyes lit up with maniacal glee.
"Then join me, my brother, as we take our revenge on our parents, whose need to be diffrint and speshul has cost us everything! Nay, let us take revenge on the entire family line whose absurd traditions of naming and corresponding career choice had sealed our fate long before Mom ever met Dad!"
"So, where did that tradition come from, anyway?"
Doctor Jr. groaned despairingly as Archvillain and Unemployed Slacker, by now standing with his brother, peered at Elli, whose curiosity had apparently reached critical mass.
"Someone who doesn't know the tale of our family's darkest and stupidest secret?" Archvillain said wonderingly. He turned to Unemployed Slacker. "Shall we educate the lady?"
Unemployed Slacker made a face.
"You do it. I don't feel like it."
Archvillain rolled his eyes.
"Fine." He strode dramatically, cape flapping in the breeze created by his movements, over to the little brunette already shrinking into her chair, deeply regretting her hasty Need to Know. "It is a tale of woe going back many years. Our great-great-great-great-and-so-forth grandfather came to this land, seeking a new life and peace from his tormentors. Those who mocked him every moment of every day because of his own parents' poor choice in selecting a name for their dear offspring. He burned with resentment and fury the entire trip over, but also with a rekindled hope that he might find solace at last in this new land of strangers. When he went to meet the other members of the rural agriculturally based town of immigrants from his own homeland, they asked his name. He opened his mouth to reveal his dark secret, already anticipating their taunts and jeers.
"But he could not. Another cruel, unkind barb would have driven him mad. And so, he informed the town that his name was Pioneer Settler. Rather an unfortunate choice, as the town was already thriving by this point. Nevertheless, he had it legally altered the next day, and from then on, he was known as Pioneer Settler, son of Steve."
"Okay, I have to ask one more thing," Elli announced as her husband drooped in despair. "What on earth was his name before, if Pioneer Settler was actually an improvement?"
"His name," Archvillain replied dramatically, "was Geraldo."
"Okay, that's just silly."
"But Archvillain is nearly as silly," Archvillain continued, eyes narrowed and fixed loathingly on his parents.
"And Unemployed Slacker doubly so," Unemployed Slacker added, glaring similarly.
"And for that," Archvillain continued, slinging one arm around his brother, "with the power of my Namingway Ray, a horrific device of purest evil, capable of changing an entire city's name in less than a second, I shall take my revenge! Soon, everyone shall know the agony of having a ridiculous name, and being underestimated and misunderstood everywhere they go! Brother, are you with me?"
Unemployed Slacker hesitated. His eyes slid from Archvillain, who had always been something of a workaholic and demanded the same dedication from all those who would follow, to his parents, ever a source of free food and laundry in a desperate attempt to make up for the ruination of one son's life with absurd lenience towards another.
He could appreciate his brother's aims - had his younger days not been spent dreaming of and working tirelessly towards the goal of being the world's next great physicist? Had his dreams not been likewise shattered by an unfortunate choice on the part of his parents? But a life of villainy? It just sounded like so much...work. He might be able to get away with sleeping until noon and drinking from the milk carton as an Unnamed Henchman, but as a Partner in Crime, never. And although he might have an interesting concept of familial loyalty, what with the whole grisly revenge thing, Archvillain would never hear of his own brother being an Unnamed Henchman.
Not to mention, his brother would probably make him chip in for the food bill, and just might vaporize him if he didn't do his own laundry.
"Y'know what? I think I'm going to sit this one out," Unemployed Slacker announced with a nervous little laugh. "But hey, good luck."
With that, flashing Archvillain a cheesy thumbs-up, he hurried back to his seat and to his parents.
Archvillain sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose in attempt to chase away a sudden crushing headache.
"Okay, then, I shall stand alone, but nevertheless, I shall take my revenge!"
"Not upon my family!" yet another new voice proclaimed dramatically.
"Oh, what now?" Elli whimpered, hiding in Doctor Jr.'s shoulder.
"For too long, my eldest brother, you have run rampant, turning from all that our mother and father have taught us about kindness, justice, goodwill, and making the best of a bad situation. I know all about your Evil Hideout in the wilds of Northern Ontario--"
"Good choice," Doctor Jr. commented aside to Elli. "Plenty of space."
"--and about the Evil Ninja Mercenary Penguin-People you have hired to do your bidding. I know about the Namingway Ray, too."
Archvillain's lip curled up into a snarl of pure hate.
"Rampaging Superhero! But how? I killed you in an unnecessarily slow and complex death machine with plenty of opportunities to malfunction or otherwise fail!"
"Yes, you are a clever one, Archvillain," Rampaging Superhero chuckled, hands planted heroically on his hips, just above his bright red Superhero Utility Belt, "and I would expect no less from my own older brother, to whom I have looked up since I was a wee lad prancing around with a bath towel tied around my neck. But luckily, through my own superior skill and logic, I managed to escape your unnecessarily slow and complex death machine when it malfunctioned and otherwise failed!"
"Curses!" Archvillain hissed. "And my Namingway Ray?"
"Dismantled," Superhero replied triumphantly. "You did, after all, explain the entire plan to me, as well as imparting in-depth instructions on how it was put together."
Archvillain gave a bone-chilling laugh.
"In that case, my plan will need a little improvisation."
In a flash of deep purple spandex and immaculately waxed mustache, he lunged at the young newlyweds to his left. Elli gave a startled little squeak as she found herself seized and dragged roughly against her villainous cousin-in-law.
And then, as something hard pressed into her lower back in time with the barrel of his weapon pressing to her temple, she grimaced.
"I don't want to know why a dramatic showdown with your brother is affecting you that way."
"You fiend!" Doctor Jr. was meanwhile hissing. "To drag an innocent woman into your evil scheme!"
"Alright, this is what's going to happen," Archvillain announced loudly to the room. "Superhero! You're going to hurry back to the lair, recover every single piece of my Namingway Ray, and bring it here. As long as I have everything, I can rebuild it in a matter of seconds. I have this lovely little lady as collateral, so if you don't want anything...messy to happen to her, I suggest you move quickly."
"Dammit," Superhero muttered through gritted teeth. "Alright, I'm going."
As the blue-spandex-clad man turned to go, Doctor gripped his Evil cousin's arm.
"Archvillain! Take me as your hostage, if a hostage you must have, but for God's sake, please spare my wife an unborn child!"
"Okay, I guess I can see how growing up with this crowd could create latent Dramatic tendencies," Elli noted thoughtfully to herself, once she had recovered from the shock of her adored, adoring, but adorably aloof husband Being Dramatic.
Archvillain pursed his lips thoughtfully, his brightly coloured and overly complex and gimmicky gun still buried against the little brunette's hair.
"Hmm, let's see...pretty girl with a baby, some guy. No, I think the hostage I have might be a little more effective in terms of motivating Superhero to complete his little errand properly."
"Elli, I'm so sorry," Doctor whispered brokenly, taking her hand and being promptly swatted away by his cousin's gun. "I knew that something like this would happen.
"You...knew that I would be taken as a hostage by your villainous and alarmingly unimaginative cousin, Archvillain?"
He nodded grimly.
"Umm...how do you anticipate something like that, Honey?" she asked timidly.
"Lucky guess, I suppose."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on," Archvillain broke in, his eyes growing wide with amazement. He released the girl in his arms, and spun her around. "He said your name is Elli?"
"W-well, yeah," she shrugged, snuggling happily back against her husband and purring slightly as he buried his cheek against the top of her head.
"You've been named Elli all your life?"
"I guess so..."
Archvillain's eyes grew misty behind his mask.
"You poor thing! Saddled with such a bizarre name, pursuing you through life, never to be free!"
"Actually, I kind of like Elli," she admitted with a nervous little giggle.
"And yet she remains optimistic!" Archvillain gasped. "You have inspired me, Miss--" He twitched slightly. "--Elli. If you can go through life with such a name, and stay sweet, cheerful, and utterly suppress your own rage to the point that none might guess it exists at all--"
"Um..." Elli began, before deciding that it just wasn't worth it.
"--then I, too, can move past my name to make something more of my life!"
"Or you could, y'know, just use that Namingway Thingy on yourself," Unemployed Slacker piped up with a shrug.
Archvillain gazed adoringly at his brother, hands clasped and eyes shiny.
"I could, indeed! My brother, you truly are lazy but brilliant!"
"Thanks," Unemployed Slacker beamed, reaching for the bread basket and being slapped away by his mother, who had instituted at a young age the rule that no one was to begin dinner until the struggles of Good vs. Evil had ended.
"Alright, I'm back," a voice announced from the door.
"Rampaging Superhero! You've returned!" Archvillain exclaimed, mostly for the sake of exposition. "Do you have all the fragments of my Namingway Ray?"
"Yes, Archvillian, I have them all," Superhero sighed heavily. "You can continue with your evil ways unchecked, just so long as you release the girl."
"No, Brother, I've had an epiphany. The poor girl's name is Elli. I know!" he said, nodding vigorously as Superhero's face twisted into disbelieving, shocked pity."
"I guess I shouldn't tell any of these people about Karen," Elli muttered, rolling her eyes. "Or Mary. They might devote an entire religion to her."
"What will you do with the parts, Archvillain?" Superhero asked wonderingly as he was relieved of his fragmented metallic burden.
"I shall reconstruct the ray as planned," Archvillain replied, "but only to use on myself."
"My brother!" Superhero wept with pure joy, catching his sibling in a tight hug, both yelping in simultaneous pain as heavy machine parts landed on their toes. He pulled back, his hands still clasping his brother's shoulders. "If you have given up your evil ways, Brother, then I can retire as well. Use--use your ray on me, too."
The entire family gasped as one.
"But Superhero," Archvillain began uncertainly, "your gifts are still needed. For even if I have reformed, there will always be evil in the world."
"The only evil I was concerned with was you, my brother."
"I don't know if that's sweet, or creepy," Elli noted curiously, only to be, once again, entirely ignored.
Archvillain smiled tenderly at his youngest brother.
"In that case, my brother, let us embark upon a new life together. Unemployed Slacker," he called. "Will you come with us, start a new life, one that will make our parents proud?"
Unemployed Slacker waved idly, nibbling at a sourdough roll.
"Nah, I'm good."
"How stirring," Elli muttered aside to Doctor as the two brothers collected the chunks of machinery and sauntered off, arm in arm, to rebuild. "Good and Evil can change their colours, but Laziness is forever."
And now, barely two weeks later, Doctor smiled contentedly to himself as he scanned once again the lines of the letter that had arrived in the mail.
The letter, penned by none other than the former Archvillain himself, briefly outlined details of his new life, as well as passing on a profuse apology to Miss Elli, along with an offer to use the Namingway Ray to her benefit as well, if she should ever wish.
He had opted, it seemed, to give up on his dream of the priesthood. He had been too tainted already by his life of gimmicky crime, just one of the penalties of Villainy that could never be undone by even the most sincere of repentances.
This had seemed a little odd to Doctor, who had always heard that the vilest of sinners make the best saints, or something like that, but it was probably safer not to question the newly-christened Upwardly Mobile E-Businessman.
The biggest surprise by far had been a post-script scribbled at the bottom in a different writing, sending Doctor a warm greeting from Upwardly Mobile E-Business Partner. From the years they had spent as penpals, the young medical professional recognized the writing instantly: Superhero was no more.
"Okay, it's finished," Elli announced, breaking him out of his reverie.
"Oh, no," he sighed as she dropped a stack of legalistic looking documents on his desk in front of him. "I knew this would happen. You're filing for divorce, aren't you?"
She looked at him strangely.
"Divorce? Why would I do something like that?"
He stared, trying not to give into the flare of hope that perhaps his certifiably insane family hadn't succeeded in entirely driving her away from him.
"Then what's all this?"
"Just read it, sweetie."
Dark eyes quickly leapt over the neatly typed lines, and his forehead wrinkled slightly as he began to comprehend slightly.
"You're claiming sole naming rights for the baby?"
"You just need to sign the bottom," she said helpfully, pressing a pen into his hand. She wrapped her arms around him from behind and nuzzled the top of his head with her cheek. "You know I trust you, sweetie, but I really don't want to come out of a painkiller-induced haze to find out that you've named our child Infant or something."
End Notes: Aaaaaaaaand, scene. Okay, so it was long, rambly, and silly, but that's kind of how I write, so I suppose it's all good. XD