Addams and AvonBy Ellynne G
Page 1 of 2
Part One: Arrival|
Standing at the wrought iron gate, looking up at the dark, sinister house above, Avon hesitated, wondering how difficult this would be. Finally, he pushed open the gate, the rusty hinges giving a long, high-pitched squeak, like an inhuman scream. He began to walk up the narrow, weed-choked path, past the tombstones in the front yard with the strange shadows moving among them, past the large plant with its long tendrils reaching hungrily toward anything that passed, past the glittering eyes that hid beneath the many thorn bushes and the sharp-edged weapons lying scattered like children's toys. He only paused once, when something pale and small scrambled across the ground in front of him, something that looked suspiciously like a dismembered hand.
Avon stopped and was about to say something, but the hand - if hand it was - was intent on an errand of its own and didn't notice him. In a moment, it was gone.
Then, Avon was at the door. Now, he hesitated again, uncertain, nervous. Once he did this, there would be no turning back, and he really had no idea what was waiting for him on the other side of the door. But he rang the bell.
In a moment, a tall, lumbering figure stood in front of him, pulling the door aside. "You rang?" he asked in an inhumanly deep voice.
"Er, hello," Avon said, walking past him into the house. His normal urbanity seemed to have abandoned him. "Is anyone here? I mean the family? Are they -"
He was cut off by a high pitched scream. He looked up and saw her, the lady of the house, tall and beautiful, black hair streaming around her pale face as she ran down the stairs. Then, she had her arms around him. "See who's here!" she yelled out to everyone in the place. "Gomez, children, everyone, my baby brother's come back!"
The trepidation he had felt vanished. The prodigal son had returned. Avon was home at last.
Part Two: Auld Lang Syne (or, Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot?)
Vila was only about halfway through his story when the old woman, for lack of a better term, freaked out. She dragged him up the stairs, which at least got him away from the smelly cauldron, and out of the dank cellar with all its slimy and slithery things, and up into a very dark parlor. The only light came from a few scattered candle stubs, but it was enough for him to make out the dark-haired man sitting by a very primly dressed girl with black braids and reading her a story book.
Vila's world tilted slightly on its axis. "Avon?" he bleated incredulously, but he was drowned out by the old woman.
"All right, Cur, what have you got to say for yourself?"
Avon put the book down. Vila caught a glimpse of a picture of a disemboweled Andromedan before he closed it. His eyes widened slightly at the sight of Vila, followed by a brief look of exasperation before he said smoothly, "I'm sorry. Is something wrong?"
"Is something wrong? *Is something wrong?* Do you know what your friend told me about you and some Servalan woman?"
"I'm afraid I don't but, knowing Vila, I wouldn't vouch for its accuracy."
"You wouldn't." She shoved Vila forward. "All right, then, tell them what you told me."
"It was nothing," Vila said, wondering what was going on this time, "I just told her about some of the things that have happened to us. Cygnus Alpha, Space City."
"The people," the old woman snarled. "Tell him about the people."
"What? Who? I mean there was Travis, Nova, Ro, your old friend Tynus -"
"Tynus?" said a blond woman walking into the room. "What about Tynus?" She had a wan, wistful look to her, reminding Vila for some reason of a flower bed he'd seen once growing by a flooded riverbank, the dead blossoms moving slowly back and forth beneath the water. She seemed to know Tynus, and the truth, he remembered, was a bit brutal. He edited.
"Oh, he was just a base commander we knew. Er, not much to say. Very into sketching bugs."
The old woman snorted, "Sketching bugs! It was an all male base, wasn't it?"
"What?" Vila tried to think what was wrong with sketching bugs. Nothing came to mind, "Oh, er, yes, I think it was." Now, those uniforms Tynus had liked that made everyone look like a cockroach, *those* had been a problem.
"Most Federation bases are," Avon interceded.
"And look where it got him! *Sketching* bugs! He should have stayed home and married some nice girl. Look at that pretty Thing from the Mantis family, she was crazy about him!"
"She nearly bit his head off on the first date," Avon commented. "It gave him cold feet."
"And burying himself on a military base was a solution? It broke her heart."
"She seemed perfectly happy on that prison planet she moved to, even if you can't say the same for the men there, the ones who are left - I mean the ones she *hasn't* dated."
"She's just putting on a brave face after the way he treated her. And don't take that tone with me. I know you helped him go into hiding. Fake I.D.s, Federation military - you think I don't know you helped him work that scam?"
"I did think you'd put the pieces together, especially after the first twelve hours of interrogation."
"You should have told me!"
Avon shrugged, "Tynus didn't want to spend the rest of his life on a prison planet with a Mantis girl. I can't say I blamed him."
"No, you're as bad as he was. Why haven't you married and settled down? You think I don't want to see some grandchildren in my old age?"
"I seem to recall that you have grandchildren."
"Oh, and that let's you off? Do you know how many golden opportunities you've missed?"
"Golden ones? Not many."
"And, now, your friend's been telling me about this Servalan woman. What have you got to say to that?"
"What have I got to say to what?"
Vila found himself pushed forward again. "Tell them!" the old woman barked.
"I'm sorry," Vila said, "Tell them what?"
"Did she ever try to kill him?"
"Servalan? Lots of times. You could call it her life mission. Seems like we couldn't turn around without her shooting at us."
"Did she ever set traps just for him?"
'Him' being Avon. "Oh, yes."
"Well, I never really kept count, but it seemed like once a week."
"Now, mother," a dark haired woman in sitting in the shadows in a wicker chair said soothingly, "there's more to a relationship than traps."
"Oh, yeah?" She turned on Vila again. "Was she smart?"
Vila thought of some of the traps Servalan had set. "Very."
"If you like blood-hungry weasels, sure."
The old woman turned on Avon. "AND YOU LET HER GET AWAY? *WHAT'S* YOUR PROBLEM?"
Avon, looking very irritated, sighed, "Vila, did you mention Anna Grant?"
"Anna?" Vila looked around nervously, hoping from some route of escape. "I think I managed to leave her out."
"Don't. Tell them about her."
Vila shrugged. "What's to tell? You had an old girlfriend -"
"ANOTHER ONE?" the old woman screeched. "CUR. . . ."
Avon held up his hand. "Just a moment." He turned to Vila expectantly. There was a long moment of silence. "And. . . ?" he prompted.
"Oh, well, Avon thought she was in love with him, but she was really setting him up. He thought she'd been killed but she'd only pretended to be dead and got him sent to a penal colony."
The blond began to sniffle, tears streaking her face. "That's so romantic."
Vila didn't follow that but he knew better than to stop when Avon was watching him that way. "Avon came back to get the guy who'd killed her. Spent five days being tortured -" The brunette began to dab at her eyes. The blonde snuffled more loudly. "Only it turned out he hadn't killed her. She was still alive. Avon found out she'd set him up, so she tried to kill him. Only Avon shot her first."
The blonde began to sob very loudly.
The old woman rolled her eyes. "Does somebody have to draw you a map? What does a woman have to do to get your attention?"
"She was only after some money I was stealing."
"So, she was practical. You think that's bad?"
"And she was married."
"And if everything isn't just perfect, you have to go dump her. Maybe she needed time to tie up some loose ends, you ever think of that?" She grabbed Vila again. "What do you think? Did she tie him up?"
"Her husband! Who did you think we were talking about?"
"She shot him in the back."
"That's almost as good." She turned back on Avon. "You hear that? She shot her first husband in the back. Why can't you bring home a girl like that?"
"Believe me, she wasn't interested. I haven't heard anything from her since the shooting. Just ask Vila about Servalan."
"What about her? Did she have a husband, too?"
"Not that I know of," Vila said. "Oh. You mean when we met up with Anna? Servalan was there. Anna had staged a coup, but she hadn't killed Servalan yet. She was chained up in the basement."
"And. . . ?" Avon pressed.
"What do you want? She'd been beaten up, I guess. And she almost killed you -"
"Wait a second," the old woman said. "Where was this Anna?"
"Er, lying dead on the floor between them, I think," Vila said.
"Wait a second. The old girlfriend's just been killed, she's even still lying there, and then this other one shows up and tries to kill him?"
"Well," Vila admitted, "she'd been there the whole time. Avon found her before he found Anna. He asked her if she knew where Anna was. Sort of. He thought he was still looking for whoever killed her, but -"
"Never mind." The old woman shook her head. "Morticia, take the extra plate off. Looks like we're not having company for dinner." She looked sadly at Avon. "OK, she was cheap trash, throwing herself at you like that. But haven't you met *anyone?*" She turned back to Vila. "Hasn't he met any girls he could take home to meet his mother?"
*Mother?* Vila stared at her, sure he had misunderstood what she had just said. In fact, he was beginning to wonder if this whole thing might not be a very strange dream. He glanced at Avon. Well, maybe a nightmare. But even in nightmares, it was wise to play it safe. He didn't know what the old woman would do if she didn't like his answer, but he sure knew what Avon would do to him. Thinking quickly, he came up with the only safe answer he could. "Well, there was Cally. But she's dead."
Something sparked in the woman's eyes. "Dead?"
Vila could see Avon trying to signal him to stop this. "Oh, yes, very dead," Vila said, emphasizing the finality.
"She was an Auron," Avon said, a note of desperation in his voice. "You know how they are, kind, thoughtful..."
Vila nodded. "And dead," he added helpfully.
The glint in the old woman's eyes seemed to grow brighter. "What, all of them?"
"The whole planet."
"They're dead, too. Her sister died when we got away."
He could swear the old woman seemed to be salivating. "What happened to this Cally?"
"We were on the planet Terminal -"
"Terminal," the blonde murmured dreamily. "What was it like?"
"Awful, lots of explosions, man-eating snakes with triple jaws, killer monsters -"
"Really?" she said wistfully.
Her tone threw him, but he nodded. "Really. And then Cally got trapped in this exploding building. She never stood a chance."
"Don't tell me," the old woman said sourly, "Cur here didn't even go down into it to check on how she was feeling."
Avon was signaling frantically, now. Vila wasn't sure what was going wrong but he tried to fix it. "Oh, no, he went down. But he only found out... well, Cally had never stood a chance."
Every woman in the room, even the little girl, was now looking at Avon as though he were insane. "*Well?*" they said simultaneously.
"There were too many explosions." Somehow, this sounded like a weak argument when Avon said it. "I had to get everyone to higher ground."
"Right," Vila said, trying to back him up. "That's where we met Dorian. I told you about him and his basement. Cally was supposed to be with us when we got there. I mean, Dorian thought she'd be with us, and -"
The old woman was shaking her head. "Cur, Cur, Cur, what am I going to do with you? I know what a soul-sucking basement sounds like, but haven't you ever heard of seizing the moment? No matter what you'd set up, did you really think it would top that Terminal scenario?"
"She has a point, dear," the brunette said. "And spontaneity can be so romantic."
"Whether it would have been or not," Avon said icily, "it didn't happen. It's too late now."
The old woman laughed. "Wanna bet? Morticia, leave the plate, I'm going to go crank up the cauldron." Cackling, she went back down to the basement.
The blonde sighed, "She's right. It did sound so romantic. Whatever happened to Tynus?"
Vila, admiring her half-drowned beauty, forgot about upsetting her and went for the truth, hoping it would sound good, "We had a fight with him. He was electrocuted. Fried to a small crisp."
But it was the little girl who seemed interested in this implied story of a deadly fight for survival. "I have an electric chair. Can you show me what it was like?"
"Wednesday," Avon murmured, "Vila's a guest. Go electrocute one of your brothers." The girl nodded and scampered off.
"Electrocute...? Avon...?" Vila began incredulously.
"Don't worry," Avon told him, "they'll survive."
"That's right," the brunette assured him, "the only time Wednesday really tried to kill one of her brothers was when the baby was born and she thought we would have to get rid of one of the others to make room. Of course, that's terribly silly. We would never do anything like that these days."
Vila forced a faint laugh. "Avon, who are these people?" he said a bit desperately.
Avon shrugged. "These are my sisters, Ophelia and Morticia. Morticia's married." he added, probably noticing the look Vila gave Morticia as she stood up. He didn't know married women were allowed to wear clothes like that. Too bad. But Ophelia must be available.
"But didn't you have a brother?"
"I did," Avon admitted.
"We needed room," Ophelia murmured.
"You have no idea what kind of trouble you've caused," Avon went on.
"Me? That crazy woman would be after you for not dating Cally if I hadn't told her she was dead."
"And you think knowing she's dead will stop her?"
"Well, it would have to, wouldn't it?"
Avon's eyes narrowed, "Vila, even you must have noticed - don't you even remember Gauda Prime at all?"
"Don't remind me. I hate being shot at. I'm amazed we got out of that one in one piece."
Avon seemed about to say something, then shook his head, apparently giving up. "Some of us got out in more pieces than others," he said obliquely. Still shaking his head, he went off, maybe to go help the girl electrocute people.
This had to be a bad dream, Vila decided, as he drifted across the room. The way the old woman talked, as if being dead wasn't a problem for dating or anything else, as if it was just one of those things - maybe even a good thing.
Reflecting on how unreal it all was, Vila never noticed as, pale and insubstantial, he drifted through the couch where Avon had been sitting just moments before.
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