Steve has just turned seven when his mother dies. The parish priest performs her funeral, then ensures that all her things are sold and the money set aside for Steve. There isn’t much, so after his mother is buried at Holy Cross, he goes to St. John’s Home for Boys, just a few blocks away on Troy Avenue. On his second day there, he gets into a fight with an oversized nine-year-old who was picking on a five-year-old and Bucky Barnes (age eight, left behind when his older sister married and moved away with her new husband) comes flying in to help. Between the two of them the older boy takes a licking, and after the scrum, they shake hands and are immediately the best of friends.
Bucky sells newspapers - the Daily Eagle - to make pocket money and Steve starts going with him. They sometimes go to lessons in the afternoons but mostly they don’t; instead, they run wild across the neighborhoods like so many other children their age. Despite the neverending ache of missing his mother, Steve enjoys an almost idyllic four months in the constant company of Bucky Barnes.
And then it’s November and they’re all shivering in too-thin worn-out hand-me-downs and folding up newspapers to tuck in their shoes to try and keep out the cold and the snow, and three days before Thanksgiving, a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost pulls up in front of the orphanage. The driver gets out and opens the back door, and the boys who are watching will always remember that he was the tallest and strangest man any of them have ever seen.
The man who gets out of the back seat is fairly conventional, as rich men go: a black pinstriped suit, shiny shoes with spats, a tall, shiny black hat, a very thin mustache, and a fat cigar. The boys can’t imagine why he’s there, unless it’s to donate money. A man like that doesn’t adopt an orphan boy.
The man enters the main hall of the orphanage and is met by the brown-robed Brother Mark, who shakes his hand and seems a bit dazzled and confused by the man’s effusive demeanor. “Gomez Addams,” the man introduces himself. “I’m looking for a boy. My cousin’s boy. We just heard he was here and I’ve come to take him home.”
“Certainly, we’ll be happy to - if you know his name?”
“Steven,” Gomez Addams replies. “Surname Rogers.”
Brother Mark nods, pointing to one of the loitering boys. “David, do you think you can find Steven Rogers?”
“Oh, sure,” David replies. “He’s at the sandlot with Bucky Barnes. I’ll go get him.” David takes off running, and Brother Mark invites Gomez Addams into his office to take a seat and have a drink.
After about half an hour, David comes back again, and he’s followed by Steve and Bucky, who are clasping each other’s hands and looking frightened. The rest of the boys all watch as Gomez Addams hitches his trouser legs and crouches down to put himself on Steve’s eye level. “Your father was my cousin, Steven,” he says. “I’m your Uncle Gomez. And I’d like you to come and live with me and my family.”
Steve’s eyes go big. “Really?”
“Oh, yes,” Gomez Addams replies, grinning around his cigar. “We have a big house over in Flatbush, and you’ve got an Aunt Morticia there, and an Uncle Fester, and Great Auntie Eudora, and two cousins your age to play with - Pugsley and Wednesday.”
Steve’s face falls, just a little. “Oh, but. But I play with Bucky.”
“Bucky, eh?” Gomez Addams leans a bit to the side, studying Bucky. “Likely looking boy, aren’t you?”
“Yes, sir,” Bucky says stoutly.
Gomez Addams considers him for a moment, then says, “How do you feel about an octopus?”
“Oh, they’re keen,” Bucky says. “I saw one at Coney Island once, with all the legs.”
“We’ve got one called Aristotle,” Gomez Addams replies. “Would you want to come home with Steven and see him?”
“Well, sure!” Bucky exclaims.
Gomez Addams stands up. “Steven, do you need to get anything before we go?”
“Yes, sir,” Steve pipes. “My baseball cards and a picture of my Ma.”
“And you, Bucky?”
“No sir,” Bucky replies. “I got my marbles right here.” He pulls a threadbare bag out of his pocket and displays it proudly.
“Go get your things, Steven,” Gomez Addams says, smiling around his cigar. “I’ll wait for you in the car.” He claps a hand on Bucky’s shoulder. “Come along, son, you can wait with me.”
The boys all follow them out, swarming around the car to examine it and ask loud, fast questions of both owner and driver. The driver says nothing, though he does smile at them, but Gomez Addams patiently answers all their questions.
And then Steve arrives with his cards and picture clutched to his chest and Gomez Addams helps him into the car to sit beside Bucky. He climbs in as well, the driver shuts the door, and moments later, the car is gone.
It’s only then that Brother Mark seems to realize that Gomez Addams took two boys when he should only have taken one.
Y'all know me - I can't have crack without feels!
I'm going to keep this marked as complete, but there may/may not be more of this. No promises!!!!
When they clamber out of the car in the driveway, the first thing Bucky blurts out is, “Wow, this place is creepy.”
“Isn’t it?” Gomez replies with a grin. “Much better than that orphanage, I think.”
“It’s keen!” Steve exclaims, turning around and around to take in the sight. The house is a massive, imposing edifice - he’d call it Victorian if he knew the word - of worn, greyish-white wood with tall windows covered from the inside by wooden shutters. It’s two stories tall with an attic above and what looks like a bell tower at the very top. The grounds surrounding the house are wide and, though not lush with grass, still beautiful in their own way and certainly wide enough for Steve and Bucky to play. “Bucky, ain’t it keen?”
“Yeah,” Bucky says, a slow grin starting across his face as he makes the same slow circle. “Hey, Mr. Addams,” he says, “you really are rich, ain’t ya?”
Gomez reaches over and tousles Bucky’s hair. “It’s Uncle Gomez, now,” he says. “Mr. Addams is just so formal for a boy to call his new uncle, don't you think?”
Bucky stares up at him, his jaw dropping and his face going blank with surprise. “Really?” he breathes. “I’m not just visiting? You’re gonna keep me?”
“Of course,” Gomez replies, and he smiles. “Come on, boys; your Aunt Morticia is waiting inside. She’s very excited to meet you.”
Bucky reaches out blindly and catches Steve’s hand, squeezing it. Steve squeezes back, and they follow Gomez into the house and through the wide parquet entryway, past the double-winged staircase and through a sitting room.
Gomez trots deeper into the house, not noticing that the boys have stayed behind. They cram themselves together in the doorway, staring around at the sitting room. “Look at that bear!” Steve whispers.
“Look at that moose!” Bucky whispers back.
“Look at this rug!” Steve whispers. “It’s a bear, too!”
“Are you sure that’s a rug?” Bucky replies. “I’d be afraid to walk on it.”
“Bruno doesn’t mind being walked on,” says a calm voice from near the stairs, and both boys jump and cower backward before realizing that the speaker is a girl around their age, dressed in a black dress with a white Peter Pan collar, her long black hair tied back in two braids. “He pretends he does, and sometimes he growls, but he doesn’t bite.”
She walks toward them, her face expressionless and her eyes blank but sharp and searching all the same. “I’m Wednesday,” she says.
“I’m Steve,” Steve replies, offering a hand to shake. “And this is Bucky.”
“You’re our cousin,” Wednesday says, shaking his hand. “But who are you?” she asks Bucky.
He sticks his own hand out to shake. “Bucky Barnes,” he says. “Me ‘n Steve are best friends. Mr. Addams - Uncle Gomez I mean - said I’m going to live here now, too.”
Wednesday sighs. “I’m never going to have a sister, I suppose.” She turns. “Come along; Mother’s in the conservatory and she’ll want to meet you.”
Wednesday leads them through the house and out into a glassed-in conservatory full of weird plants neither boy has ever seen before. There’s a woman tending the plants: tall and willowy, with long black hair and a long black dress. She turns around to face them, and her skin is almost pure white, her eyes dark, and her mouth a dark-red slash - until she sees them, at which point it becomes a welcoming dark-red bow.
“There they are!” the woman exclaims, moving to sit on a bench and wave them over. “Gomez told me he brought two boys instead of one; he always does love to surprise me with lovely gifts. I'm your Auntie Morticia, by the way. Come now, which one of you is which?”
“I’m Steve, ma’am,” Steve says. “And this is Bucky.”
“No, no,” the woman - Morticia - says, reaching up to cup Steve’s chin gently in her fingers. “Auntie Morticia.”
Steve smiles broadly. "Sorry," he says. "Auntie Morticia.”
Morticia smiles back. “Lovely. Now, I see you’ve both met your cousin Wednesday; you’ve another cousin, Pugsley, who’s around here someplace. Wednesday, do you know where he is?”
“I think he’s playing with Aristotle,” Wednesday replies.
“Oh, good. Go and get him, won’t you? He needs to meet his new cousins.” As Wednesday darts off, Morticia looks the boys up and down. “We’ll need clothes for you both,” she says. “We can’t have you running about looking like ragamuffins!” She shakes her head. “I suppose we’ll need to make a trip to Macy’s for at least two suits of clothes; Grandmama - that’s your Great-Auntie Eudora, but she’ll like you to call her Grandmama as we all do - and I will make the rest ourselves.”
“This is really swell, Auntie Morticia,” Bucky says, beaming. “I never had a big family before. Just my sister, and she got married and went away.”
“Well, darling,” Morticia says, reaching up to pat Bucky’s cheek. “That’s not a thing you’ll ever have to worry about again.”
Haha, have some more crack! :D
Their trip to Macy’s that very afternoon is the kind of experience that the boys have never had before. Lurch - the incredibly tall and strange man who never speaks but smiles at them very friendly-like - drives the car. Auntie Morticia and Grandmama (whose name is pronounced all fancy-like, muh-maaah, and not like Steve used to call his Mama) ride in the back seat very proper-like, while Steve and Bucky cram themselves into the front passenger seat together. It’s easy because they’re both still little and skinny, and because Lurch is a careful driver they are able to hang over the side of the door and stare at things all the way into Manhattan. (It’s not that they’ve never been to Manhattan before, but it’s a very long walk and Steve’s lungs are not great so they don’t go often.)
Lurch pulls the car right up to the curb in front of Macy’s. A man with white gloves comes and opens the back door for Grandmama and Auntie Morticia, but the boys just scramble over the side and run for the windows, staring in at the displays. They’re of fancy dresses and suits, and Bucky nudges Steve with his elbow. “Hey, you bet Uncle Gomez has a suit like that?”
“I bet he does,” Steve says back. “One for every day and two for Sunday.”
“Not quite so many,” Auntie Morticia says from behind them, “but he is fond of a nice pinstriped three-piece suit, and I am fond of indulging him.” She takes their hands in hers. “Come along, now; we need to get the two of you dressed.”
Within an hour, both boys are wearing quickly-tailored clothing of a type neither of them ever thought they’d wear: white linen button-up shirts and black wool knee-length shorts, black suspenders, new shiny black shoes, and even proper caps. They look like the swell boys who walk past the orphans on their way to school and sneer.
“Wonderful!” Auntie Morticia exclaims, clapping her hands as the boys turn around in front of her and Grandmama to show off their new outfits. “Simply lovely.”
“We’re going to need wool to make the rest ourselves,” Grandmama says, “but these’ll do until then.”
“Ah, of course you will,” the salesman agrees smoothly. “Linen and buttons, too, I should imagine. We sell all variety of cloth and accouterments on the fourth floor.”
“Oh, lovely,” Auntie Morticia exclaims. “That’ll be just wonderful, thank you.”
The boys, clasping hands once again in awe, follow Auntie Morticia and Grandmama to the elevator, where a man lets them in and then pulls a fancy grate shut before asking them what floor. When Grandmama says “four,” the man pushes a button, and then the elevator goes up. When they step out, Auntie Morticia gives the man a quarter and then leads them to the section of the store where they sell cloth and other sewing supplies.
This part is pretty boring, so Steve and Bucky amuse themselves by playing tag among the shelves that hold the fabric and the buttons and things - at least, they do until Steve accidentally bumps into a lady who takes him by the ear and drags him over to Auntie Morticia, who makes him sit down at the pattern table while she and Grandmama finish up. Out of solidarity, Bucky comes and sits with him. This, of course, results in a shoving match that only stops when Auntie Morticia raises a very graceful and significant eyebrow at them both.
Once the shopping for fabric and bits and bobs is done, they take the elevator down to the third floor, and the boys are astonished when Auntie Morticia lets them each choose a toy for their own. Steve chooses a brown teddy bear in a suit jacket, because he’s never had a proper teddy bear before, only the rag-bear that his mother made for him that the priest took away when she died because he said Steve was too old for it now. Bucky almost chooses a bat and ball until he sees Steve clutching his bear, at which point his eyes go big and he puts the bat back. He chooses a black bear for himself, in a jacket just like Steve’s, and Grandmama and Auntie Morticia beam at them both. Then they buy the bat and ball also, just because.
Once they arrive home, Grandmama brings them upstairs and shows them their rooms - they each get a room of their own! - and they leave their bears on their beds and go clattering down the stairs with the bat and ball, shouting for Pugsley to come and play. They run across Wednesday in the family room, and Bucky calls to her as well. “Come on, Wednesday, you come play too!”
With a put-upon sigh, Wednesday comes. She declines, however, to actually play; instead, she plays umpire and calls them out and safe based on some arcane rules that only exist inside her head.
It makes the game much more fun.
When the sun goes down, the four of them troop inside, and Grandmama makes them go upstairs and wash before they can come back down for supper. It’s delicious, whatever it is - Steve’s kind of afraid to ask - and they are both astonished (yet again) when Uncle Gomez tells them that they can eat as much as they want. “There’s no shortage of food here,” he says. “And I won’t have any child in my house go hungry.”
That night, as they go up to bed, Steve and Bucky stop in the hallway outside their side-by-side bedrooms to whisper quickly as Auntie Morticia tucks Wednesday in. “You ever think we’d be rich like this?” Bucky whispers.
“Heck no,” Steve whispers back. “Hey Bucky, we’re real swells now, ain’t we?”
“Heck yeah, we are,” Bucky replies, grinning. “This is the best. We’re gonna have so much fun.”
The boys hug each other tight as Auntie Morticia comes out of Wednesday’s bedroom, turning off the light. “In your beds, boys,” she tells them, smiling. “I’ll be there to tuck you in in just a minute.”
“Yes, Auntie Morticia,” they chorus. Then, giggling at each other, they go to bed.
The next morning, before breakfast, Grandmama presents the boys with a second set of clothes, collecting the ones they got dirty the day before. “Wow!” Bucky says, taking the pile of cloth she gives him. “That was really fast! The nuns always take a long time to make things.”
Grandmama cackles a bit, laying a finger beside her nose. “Those nuns don’t have a thing on me and my tricks!”
“Thing helped,” Wednesday says, coming out of her bedroom dressed in what looks like the same dress from yesterday.
“Oh!” Steve says. Then he pauses. “What’s Thing?”
There’s a snapping sound, and Steve and Bucky both turn to see a disembodied hand gripping the balustrade. Bucky squeaks; Steve full-on yelps at the sight. “Now, now,” Grandmama says. “No need to be scared of Thing. He’s very helpful and he’s been with us a very long time.”
“Sorry,” Bucky says, shaking his head. “We was just surprised, is all.” He swallows hard. “Um. Thank you for the clothes, Grandmama. And… and you, too, Thing.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Steve manages to echo.
How a disembodied hand can look pleased is impossible to imagine, but somehow, Thing manages it. And then he’s off, skittering down the stairs on his fingertips and disappearing into a box on a table.
“Now go and get dressed,” Grandmama says, shooing the boys back into their rooms. “You’ve got school today.”
“School?!” both boys exclaim. “Aw, no!”
“Ah, yes,” Grandmama says, and heads down the stairs again, cackling all the way. The boys dress - their clothes are just the same as the ones they wore yesterday - and clatter down the stairs to the kitchen for breakfast.
Once it’s all over, they follow Wednesday and Pugsley to the front door with twin sighs. Lurch stands there, and he hands each child a book satchel and a lunch pail as they head out. “Thank you, Lurch,” Wednesday says, and Pugsley echoes her when it’s his turn. Steve does the same, as does Bucky, and then they’re out the front door, trotting down the driveway to the street.
“Where’s the school?” Bucky wants to know.
Pugsley points in a vaguely forward-and-right direction. “Over there. We go to the Hamilton School.”
“Oh, say, that’s a school for real swells,” Steve exclaims.
“Yeah, that’s us,” Pugsley replies, grinning a little bit.
Wednesday just rolls her eyes, but when they get to the school, she’s the one who takes them to the headmaster’s office to explain who they are and why they’re there. The headmaster enrolls them, then asks about their last school. “What grade were you in?”
“Oh, I dunno,” Steve says. “We didn’t go much.”
The headmaster pinches the bridge of his nose. “All right,” he says after a moment. “You’ll have to take a test to see what you know and don’t know, so that we can put you in the right class. Come and sit down at this table, and Miss Jacobson will get you started.”
After the test, both boys are placed in the first grade. Pugsley is in the second grade and Wednesday the third, so they only see the two of them at lunch and recess, but being in the same classroom is pretty okay, especially when the teacher - Mr. Wilde - lets them sit at the same double desk together. (This could have resulted in a shoving match just like the one at Macy’s, but Mr. Wilde has a paddle hanging by the blackboard and neither boy is much interested in taking licks.)
Some of the children stare at them during the day, until finally, when Mr. Wilde steps out of the room for a minute, Bucky catches the eye of one of the bigger boys in the class and demands, “Say, what’sa matter with you, huh?”
“Nothin’,” the boy replies. “What’sa matter with you? Everybody knows the Addamses are weird.” There’s a murmur of agreement from the other kids.
Then another boy pipes up. “I heard there’s an octopus living there. Is it true?”
“Yeah, it’s true,” Steve says. “He’s called Aristotle. He lives in a big pool in the back yard.”
“See? Weird,” says a girl. “Nobody has an octopus.”
“Well, we do,” Bucky says.
“What else weird is there?” Someone else asks. “I heard there’s an Addams that’s made all of hair and Mrs. Addams keeps it locked up in the attic.”
“Well, I dunno,” Steve says. “I haven’t been in the attic. But I’ll ask Auntie Morticia and see what she says.”
There’s an avalanche then of questions, all beginning with I heard that and each one ending more wildly than the next. Most of them, Steve and Bucky can’t answer, but then someone makes the mistake of insulting Lurch.
“Hey, you leave Lurch out of this,” Bucky says. “He’s really nice and he does a lot for us. I don’t care what he looks like.” Then he clenches a fist. “And if anybody wants to make something of it, then I’ll meet you on the field at recess and we can talk about it some more.”
The conversation is over then because Mr. Wilde comes back, but Bucky stands out in a prominent spot on the field during recess, waiting to see if anybody actually does want to make something of it. Nobody does, and if they don’t immediately make friends with all the boys in their class, at least the staring quits.
When school is over, the boys meet Wednesday and Pugsley by the school gate and head home, satchels heavier this time with schoolbooks. They go straight out to the conservatory so that they can all sit and tell Auntie Morticia about their day. She’s very pleased with Wednesday’s spelling test (she got 100) and Pugsley’s science experiment (he’s trying to revive a dead rat) and with Steve and Bucky’s placement together in the first grade. Once they’re done telling her everything, they all go out onto the patio (because the weather is so nice) and say hello to Aristotle and then do their homework.
Once that’s done and put away, it’s time to play.
For my braintwin and fiancee Secondalto on the occasion of her birthday.
The year Steve turns nine, July Fourth dawns hot and humid, as it always does in Brooklyn. Steve and Bucky take to the streets on the scooters Bucky got for his birthday (both ostensibly his, but everyone knew that one of them was so that Steve could go with him). There will be a party that evening with all of their young Addams cousins, and everyone has been encouraged to bring bathing outfits so that they can splash around in the pool with Aristotle, but for the day, it’s just Steve’n’Bucky, scooting around their neighborhood.
They occasionally stop to play with some of the neighborhood kids – Bucky wins some pretty keen marbles off Mikey O’Donnell and Steve even scores a hit in a sandlot game (though, sadly, he does not make it to second base). Uncle Gomez had given them two nickels each before they left the house, so they scoot down to Mr. Rosenberg’s candy shop and spend a nickel each on penny candy. They sit on the curb outside the shop to peel candy buttons off their paper backing one by one, share and share alike, and when they’re done, they pocket the rest of the candy and scoot off again.
They spend two pennies each climbing onto a streetcar that takes them all the way to Ebbets Field; the hole in the fence under the third-base bleachers hasn’t been fixed yet, so they’re able to sneak in and watch the last five innings from between people’s feet. Two more pennies each gets them both back on the streetcar, and they scoot from the trolley stop back home again with bright, shining eyes.
On arrival, Grandmama hurries both of them upstairs to get bathed and put on their swimming costumes. “Your cousins will be here soon!” she exclaims, chivvying them toward the stairs. They go, racing each other up. Bucky wins; even though he is a year younger than Steve, he is taller, and his legs longer. Still, it’s a close match.
Both boys get cleaned up and changed as quickly as they can, and they make it back downstairs again just as Lurch is opening the door to Cousin Itt and his mother. They greet Itt’s mother politely, then hurry with Itt out to the pool house, where Wednesday and Pugsley are already waiting.
Aristotle greets them cheerfully, waving several arms, and they all wave back, waiting politely for Itt to get changed into his bathing costume before they all jump into the water. Other cousins join them as they arrive, mothers and fathers all gathering in the conservatory nearby, where the children can be supervised without their fun being interrupted, and they splash and shout cheerfully, letting Aristotle lift them up in his strong arms and drop them back down into the water again.
As the sun begins to go down, the children all climb out of the pool to sit on towels and eat the picnic supper Grandmama has made for them, and then it’s time for cake and presents.
The cake is a chocolate so dark as to be almost black, and a big number 9 is written on the top in silvery-gray frosting. There are nine candles, and Steve takes the deepest breath he can to blow them all out. Then everyone has a piece of cake, and then it’s time for presents.
Last year, when Bucky turned nine, both boys were wide-eyed and astonished at the number of presents he got - everybody brought one! But then the same thing happened at Steve’s eighth birthday and then again at Bucky’s tenth, so now they are not surprised, and Steve opens package after package, his eyes and his smile getting wider with each one. Everyone, it seems, has gotten together to buy him art supplies.
He discovered an aptitude for drawing around Hallowe’en, and since then has never been without a pencil and a pad of paper, drawing everything he could find. His skills keep improving, and he’s starting to hope that maybe one day he could be a great artist and have paintings hang in museums. So everyone has gotten him art things: Cousin Itt brought a beautiful sketch book, Flora Amor brought a wonderful set of drawing pencils and Fauna another set of pencils, but with color. Other cousins brought other things: a packet of pastels, some paintbrushes, some paints. Aunt Morticia and Uncle Gomez give him a wonderful easel, Wednesday and Pugsley give him some canvases; even Bucky has gotten him something: a leather packet that he can put his pencils in and then roll up and tie, so that he can take pencils with him whenever he goes somewhere and not have to worry about the points getting broken.
He hugs everyone afterward, hard, exclaiming over and over again about how it’s the best birthday ever, and he’ll use everything and practice so much and become a great artist, they’ll see.
There is more playtime after this, the children, dry now, running through the cemetery chasing fireflies and playing “Wake the Dead” while Lurch gathers up Steve’s gifts and carries them all up to his bedroom.
Late that night, after everyone’s gone to bed, Steve slips out of bed and goes over to Bucky’s room. “Hey,” he says, pushing the door open. “I had a bunch’a fun with you today.”
“Me, too,” Bucky says, sitting up in bed. “We should do that all the time.”
“Yeah, we should.” There’s a moment of quiet before Steve comes across the room and hugs Bucky hard. “I’m glad you’re my brother,” he says softly, then scampers back to his own room to go to sleep.
The first real portrait he draws is of his mother, and he hangs it on the wall in his bedroom.
Christmas at the Addams house is weird. There’s no tree; instead, they drape Christmas lights over the big bear and the moose head and all the other weird things in the family room. Neither Steve nor Bucky knows what to ask for, that first year; they’ve each got a bear and wonderful warm clothes and these things are so much more than they had before that they simply can’t think of anything else they’d want.
Wednesday asks for a guillotine and Pugsley wants a piranha tank for his bedroom.
On Christmas morning, each child gets a new suit of clothes, and there are stockings full of nuts and oranges and a whole fifty cents each. There are candies for everyone, even some chocolate, and there are lovely small toys like the jeweled Chinese finger cuffs that Uncle Gomez gives Bucky, telling him as he opens it that it used to belong to Uncle Fester, who has gone off to investigate the Bermuda Triangle and that’s why they haven’t met him yet. Both boys also get bags full of new marbles, all varieties, some of which shimmer in the light and some of which seem, if you stare at them long enough, to have moving things inside them.
Wednesday gets her guillotine; Pugsley gets his piranha tank. Bucky gets an erector set with real motors, and Steve, who has enjoyed playing with Uncle Gomez and his train set, gets a starter train set of his very own and a whole empty room in the attic to put it in. Uncle Gomez says he’ll need the space. (Uncle Gomez is right.)
After presents there is breakfast, a veritable feast of eggs and bacon and pancakes and sausages and warm apple cider to drink. Then it’s time to bundle up and go outside to play in the snow.
That night there’s a huge fancy party that is attended by all of the Addamses for miles around, including even distant cousins with different names like Steve has. There’s music and dancing and food for days, and nobody tells the (many) children that it’s bedtime, so they run and play among the dancers and they eat their fill and then some. Bucky and Steve have rapidly become fast friends with Cousin Itt and the Amor twins, so they spend most of their time as a group of five, pulling Christmas crackers and laughing at the jokes that come from inside.
After dark, Uncle Gomez herds everyone out into the yard and then there are fireworks: beautiful fireworks in shapes like dragons and sphinxes. There are regular fireworks, too, and sparklers for the children to run around with, as long as they’re careful not to burn themselves or each other. Then there’s more dancing, and there’s a lot of singing, though most of the songs aren’t Christmas carols or, indeed, any songs Steve or Bucky has ever heard before.
The children run up and down the stairs, coming to see Pugsley’s new fish tank (no fish yet) and Steve’s new train set (not yet assembled), and to play with Bucky’s new erector set and Wednesday’s guillotine. Even Thing gets involved in the festivities, helping bring parts to put things together with the erector set and occasionally catching the guillotine blade before somebody can get actually decapitated.
(After a couple of close calls, Auntie Morticia says they ought to put it away for now.)
By the time the last guests leave, Steve and Bucky and Pugsley and Wednesday are asleep in a pile on one of the big plush couches in Uncle Gomez’s office. Uncle Gomez and Aunt Morticia smile, and Uncle Gomez takes a picture with his Brownie camera, and then they go to bed and leave the children to sleep where they are.
After their first Christmas, Bucky and Steve expect that Halloween will probably be the same sort of large celebration and are surprised to learn that the only expected guests are the Amor twins and their parents, Itt, and Itt’s mother.
“I was sure there’d be a big party and all,” Bucky says a few days before the holiday, leaning against one end of Steve’s train table.
Steve, at the other end of the table and carefully placing a water tower alongside a small covered bridge, replies, “Well, I mean, we kinda live in Halloween every day, though, don’t we?”
Bucky opens his mouth to reply and then pauses, considering Steve’s words. “Well, okay, you gotta point,” he admits. “But that’s kinda why I figured there’d be a big to-do, you know? Since Halloween’s kinda… a thing.”
Steve straightens up and grins at Bucky. “Yeah, okay, you gotta point too.” He considers the water tower’s placement for a minute before saying, “If you wanted to, I bet we could ask Uncle Gomez and he’d let us have a big party with kids from school and stuff.”
“Ehhh.” Bucky makes a face. “Not really. I mean. I don’t mind pallin’ around with ‘em at recess and stuff but they ain’t so great for, you know. Bein’ pals with. Not like you’n’me. You know?”
Steve, who does know, nods his head. The boys at school are all right to play games with on the playground and stuff, but they’re still weird and standoffish over both Steve and Bucky being Addamses. “Maybe we could ask for more cousins or something. There’s gotta be more than just Itt and Flora and Fauna, anyway.”
“There’s tons of cousins,” Wednesday’s flat voice tells them, issuing from the doorway. “Do you think we should invite them?”
Steve looks at Bucky, who shrugs as he turns to look at her. “I was just surprised we wouldn’t have a great big party at Halloween like we did at Christmas.”
“Hmm.” Wednesday looks thoughtful. “Perhaps we should. I’ll speak to Mother. In the meantime, Father says he wants to carve pumpkins.”
Steve does a quick closing up of his supplies, checking one last time to make sure the water tower won’t fall over, and then they clatter downstairs to the kitchen to carve pumpkins. Uncle Gomez’s pumpkin only has one eye; Wednesday’s has two noses, while Pugsley’s has a fancy moustache and spots all over it. Steve gets fancy with his, carving Aristotle into the gourd’s surface, and Bucky does a simple jack-o-lantern. Once they’re all done, they clean up and then go out to arrange the pumpkins on the front porch.
Wednesday apparently has that conversation with Auntie Morticia and Auntie Morticia apparently agrees with Bucky because all of a sudden the simple decorations around the house get more elaborate and Grandmama disappears into the kitchen for two days.
The day itself is a Friday, so they have to go to school during the day, but when they come home there are Halloween snacks everywhere and Thing and Lurch are finishing the last of the cleaning. Auntie Morticia sends them upstairs to wash and get ready, because guests will be arriving once it gets dark.
And arrive they do, mostly in long shiny cars (though one cousin arrives on a loud motorbike). The Joneses arrive first, with their daughter Monday who is two years older than Wednesday but looks and acts almost exactly like her. Wednesday is dressed as a homicidal maniac (“They look just like everyone else,”) but Monday has apparently come dressed as Wednesday. Everyone thinks it’s hilarious except for Steve and Bucky, who genuinely can’t tell the difference.
Pugsley has dressed as Uncle Fester (right down to shaving his hair off) and this is quite a hit with the three LaBorgias, who arrive next looking like very authentic vampires. Very authentic. Authentic enough that Steve kind of wonders if having all the younger cousins over was actually a good idea. He himself is skillfully wrapped in bandages and wearing a Pharaoh’s headgear, while Bucky has made of himself an excellent pirate.
Another pirate, this one a girl, arrives with the Amors; her name is Flossie and she’s a foundling cousin like Steve, and she and Bucky run around the party pretending to fight one another with swords almost all evening. Steve joins in by throwing mummy curses at both of them before being swept away by the Amors, who have come dressed as clowns.
By the time Auntie Morticia calls the children into the parlor for games, there are a good twenty of them, and they all have an uproarious time bobbing for apples and playing Pop Goes the Pumpkin and Pin the Tail on Cousin Fetch. Around nine, Flossie suggests hide and seek outside, and Pugsley counters with Wake the Dead - and out the children go into the evening to run around shrieking and laughing, their breaths fogging in the chilly air.
By midnight everyone is heading home, and Uncle Gomez slings an arm around Bucky’s shoulders as he guides the children toward the staircase. “Was it what you were expecting, old man?” he asks, grinning around his ubiquitous cigar.
“Better,” Bucky replies, and gives Uncle Gomez a hug around the waist. “Thanks, Uncle Gomez.”
Uncle Gomez ruffles Bucky’s hair. “You’re welcome, my boy,” he says. “Now run along to bed.”
“Yes, sir!” Bucky replies, and he heads up the stairs behind Steve.
The first time Steve gets sick - really sick, with shivering and teeth chattering and sweating and all - it’s a Monday, and he tries to go to school anyway. He always used to pretend he wasn’t sick as long as he could, because the doctor cost so much money and Mama couldn’t always afford to pay for it. He knows Uncle Gomez and Auntie Morticia are rich, but it doesn’t matter; old habits die hard, and besides, he doesn’t want to be a burden.
Bucky, of course, knows that Steve is sick the minute he comes out of his bedroom. “Stevie,” he says, “you’re sick.”
“No, I’m not,” Steve says stoutly, but his denial is weakened a bit by the coughing fit that immediately follows. “I’m not,” he says again when he can wheeze better. “It’s just a cold or somethin’.”
“Bull,” Bucky replies flatly. “Your face is all white except where it’s blotchy red and it’s cold but you’re sweating. You’re sick.”
“It don’t matter,” Steve replies, his jaw setting mulishly. “I’m goin’ to school anyway. I’m fine.”
“Liar,” Bucky replies, and he trots down the stairs before Steve, the very picture of radiant health while Steve takes his time, shivering his way down step by step.
By the time he gets into the kitchen, of course, Bucky has ratted him out. He glares at Bucky across the breakfast table. Fink, he mouths, but Bucky just shrugs and digs into his eggs. Auntie Morticia lays a cool hand on Steve’s forehead and clicks her tongue. “Are you hungry at all?” she asks him. “You should eat before you go back upstairs and get into bed.”
“Aw, Auntie Morticia,” Steve groans, scooping up some of his own eggs. “I’m all right.”
“I won’t hear it,” she replies. “You’re sick. You’re going straight upstairs after breakfast. Grandmama will bring you a hot water bottle for your feet and Lurch will fetch the doctor.”
“No, really, I’m fine!” Steve exclaims, feeling his eyes go wide and a little wild. “I don’t need a doctor. I promise!”
Uncle Gomez is the one who seems to realize what the problem is, and he shakes his head. “Steven,” he says around the butt of his cigar, “I don’t want you to worry about it. We can afford ten doctors if we need them and never blink. It’s more important for you to be healthy.” He catches Morticia’s eye over the boy’s head, and they both know they’re thinking of the Spanish Flu pandemic, not so far in the past that it doesn’t immediately come to mind when influenza symptoms start. “Now, do as your Auntie says. Eat your breakfast and go right back upstairs. Bucky can bring home your books and you can do your work in bed if you’re up to it.”
With a heavy sigh - punctuated by another coughing fit - Steve obeys.
The doctor comes not long after, and Grandmama watches from the doorway as the doctor listens to Steve’s heart and lungs, looks at his eyes and up his nose, and checks his temperature. “It’s definitely a touch of the influenza,” the doctor finally says. “It’s very mild, though. He should be fine in just a few days. I recommend some hearty chicken broth or good oatmeal - warm foods that will break up the mucus in his lungs but won’t be too heavy on his stomach.” He taps Steve on the nose. “And you’re to stay in bed at least two more days. I know boys like to run and play but you’ll only make yourself sicker.”
Steve sighs. “Yes, sir.”
After the doctor goes, Grandmama brings Steve a bowl of broth and makes him drink it all. It’s warm and delicious and it makes him sleepy, so when Bucky comes in with his schoolbooks and some get-well cards from their classmates, Steve is still asleep. Bucky sets everything down very quietly and escapes the room without waking him.
Sure enough, just like the doctor said, the flu was mild and Steve is better and back to school on Friday. He’s still a little pale and he shivers a little bit more in the cold wind, but he’s full of good food and he’s well-nourished and lives in a good, warm house, so it doesn’t bother him nearly as much as it otherwise might have. Instead of getting another flu and a case of rheumatic fever that winter, he stays healthy, and by the time spring rolls around, he’s grown an inch.
Steve is fifteen and Bucky sixteen when Prohibition is repealed. There are celebrations in the street, everyone toasting one another with bottles of beer and wine. It’s less of a big deal in the Addams house, where the wine cellar is seemingly endless and nobody really drinks beer. Steve and Bucky have both had it, but Steve didn’t really like it and Bucky could take it or leave it, so he mostly leaves it.
Bucky’s on his second steady girl already; Jeannie Ross is a nice girl from the other ninth grade class, and she might last awhile. She’s not afraid to come to the Addams house, she’s polite to Lurch, and she only shrieked a little bit when she first saw Thing.
Steve, on the other hand, is pretty sure there will be no steady girls for him. He hasn’t worked up the courage to tell anyone yet, but he’s pretty sure that if there’s a steady anything for him, it’ll be a steady guy. He doesn’t think anyone will care, but… still. He’s nervous. Even if the family doesn’t care, it’s not like it’s legal.
He’s daring, is Steve, and he’s hale and fairly healthy and he can run pretty fast when the cops show up, so he’s… explored. A bit. He’s been to a club he heard about down on Henry Street near the infamous St. George Hotel. He’s been past the hotel, sharing nods and friendly greetings with some of the fairies and queens who live in the building as he walked past.
He wants to tell his family. He’s sure they would be fine with it. It’s only that he’s… well. He’s not afraid. He’s just.
So he waits, and he dithers, and he visits the club down on Henry Street when Bucky’s out with Jeannie Ross and he walks past the St. George Hotel and he screws up his courage and finally, finally, a few days before his birthday, he squares his shoulders and he lifts his chin and he marches out to the conservatory. “Auntie Morticia,” he says, “I need to talk to you.”
“Of course, darling,” Auntie Morticia says. She finishes misting the nightshade, then puts the mister away and comes to sit beside Steve on the bench nearby. “What’s on your mind?”
“I… I need to tell you something.” Steve takes a deep breath and then lets it out slowly. “I… you know how Bucky’s got a girl and he keeps after me to get a girl too?”
Morticia nods. “I do.”
“Well, I… I don’t think I want to go out with a girl.”
Morticia nods without so much as blinking. “Your great-uncle Nero didn’t want to go out with girls, either,” she replies. “That’s how you come to have a great-uncle Williams.”
Steve blinks. “Really?”
“Really.” She smiles, pulling him into a warm, gentle hug. “We Addamses don’t mind about such things. We are Addamses, after all. We have a reputation as Addamses to uphold.” She pulls back and gives him a conspiratorial grin and a wink.
Steve’s shoulders sag in relief. “You really don’t mind.”
“Of course not, darling,” she says, patting his cheek. “Now, tell me, is there someone special you have your eye on?”
Steve laughs. “No,” he admits. “But I’ve been down to the Crown on Henry Street. There’s some nice people who go there.”
“I’m not familiar with their reputation,” Morticia admits. “Is it a classy place, Steven, or is it a nasty little dive?”
Steve laughs. “Somewhere in the middle,” he admits. “But the really classy places are all in Manhattan, and they won’t let in a kid like me.”
“Ah, well,” Morticia replies. “Time enough for that. Only...” She pauses, and then she looks worried. “Do be careful, won’t you?”
“I will,” Steve assures her. “I promise.”
Knowing that the rest of the family won’t have a problem with it, Steve’s only other worry is telling Bucky. Because Bucky… well. If Bucky has a problem with it…
“Steve,” Bucky says that night when Steve has finally screwed up his courage (again) and sat down on Bucky’s bed to tell him, “I know.”
Steve blinks. “You know? How do you know?”
“I followed you one night to see where you were going,” Bucky says with absolutely no shame. "I knew you didn’t have a girl so I wanted to know what you were up to, because you didn’t tell me, and you tell me everything, so this must have been a big deal.”
Steve’s not sure how to take that, so he decides to think about that part of it later. “So you… you don’t… mind?”
Bucky shrugs. “I don’t care. I just don’t want you to be stupid and get your head busted in by the coppers. If there’s a raid, you promise me you’ll run and not fight. Okay?” He reaches out and grips Steve’s shoulder, as serious as Steve has ever seen Bucky be. “I mean it, Steve. Don’t be stupid. They crack your head open, you might end up a vegetable for the rest of your life. I couldn’t stand it if something happened to you. You promise me.”
“Yeah, okay,” Steve replies. “I promise. For now.”
Bucky laughs. “Well, I guess if that’s the best I can hope for, I better take it. Deal.” Then he grabs Steve and pulls him into a rough hug. “Don’t keep stuff like that from me any more, okay?”
Steve hugs him back just as roughly. “Okay.”