|The Night of the Code Stealers
Author: Deana PM
Jim and Artie are sent on a mission to retrieve some coded information, but Artie is injured and the message is stolen from him. Who took it, why, and what did the message say? Neither agent even knows that it's a matter of life or death...Rated: Fiction K - English - Hurt/Comfort/Drama - Chapters: 11 - Words: 15,043 - Reviews: 68 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 03-23-13 - Published: 01-12-13 - Status: Complete - id: 8901766
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jim found the printing press in another room, and they eagerly approached it. Artie took hold of the top and pulled it open before Jim could help.
"Look, Jim," Artemus said. "The type is set. Get me some paper."
Jim obeyed, and when he returned, Artie was holding something covered in ink. He handed it to his friend. "Pat this over the type."
Jim took it and covered each letter with the ink. "Does the paper go on top?"
"No, it goes on the inside of the cover."
Jim took the paper and placed it where it belonged. "Close the cover now?"
"Right. After that, you slide the whole thing in and twist that handle on top to apply pressure."
Jim did as he was instructed, before pulling it back out and opening the press.
"Congratulations, Jim, you just made your first newspaper."
Jim flashed Artie a grin, before peeling the paper off the type, being careful not to get ink on himself. He turned it over and held it closer to Artie so they could both read it. "Where was the article?"
"On the bottom right."
They both found it, and read aloud in unison: "A pancake-eating contest is scheduled for this Saturday at 10am in the center of town…"
They both stopped and looked at each other, before Artemus closed his eyes and leaned against the press. "This isn't the paper. He must've made others after the one that contained the code." Dejected, he put a hand to his aching head.
"Hello?" they suddenly heard.
"The sheriff," Jim said.
They went back into the other room, where Jim forced Artie to sit down again as they explained to the sheriff who they were and what had happened.
"Do you have any idea who could've done this?" Jim asked.
The sheriff shook his head. "I was about to ask you that." He looked at Artie. "You didn't get a good look at them?"
Artie sighed. "I didn't get any kind of look, it was too dark. I walked out the door and didn't even make it to the corner before three or four men jumped out from behind one of the other shops and grabbed me. One of them hit me with his gun, and that was that." He raised a hand and pushed his hat up higher, sick of the added pressure that it was causing his injury, before giving up and taking it off.
The sheriff sighed. "Another unsolved murder."
Jim sighed. "If we find out any information, we'll pass it along."
Jim nodded and helped Artemus up from the chair, who he could see had lost whatever steam he'd been running on. "How's your head?"
Artemus sighed, exhausted. "Attempting to fall off."
"We'll go back to the train," Jim told him. "There's nothing more we can do here."
Artie was surprised to hear the other agent giving up. "But Jim—"
"We still don't know what the code said," Jim replied. "I don't want to give up, Artie, but we have no leads, and your injury is serious. We'll go back to the train so you can rest, and we'll see what we can figure out."
Artemus said nothing more, knowing that Jim was right. What were they supposed to do, just stand in the middle of town and wait for inspiration?
They reached the wagon and Artie tossed his hat onto the seat and started to climb up, but a sudden wave of vertigo tilted everything sideways and he missed the step.
Jim had a hold on Artie's arm already, and grabbed him when he faltered. He saw that his friend's eyes were closed, and he easily figured out why. "Hang on, Artie, I've got you."
Artemus placed a hand to the side of his head, as if making sure that it stayed on his neck. His breathing was too fast and he had paled even more.
Jim sat him on the wagon's step, not wanting his friend to pass out. Artie leaned his head against the side of the wagon, eyes still closed.
"Is he okay, mister?"
Jim turned, to see Annabelle standing nearby. "Not at the moment."
"What're your names?"
Jim was slightly annoyed to be distracted by the child, with his friend half-conscious and in pain, but then he had an idea. "I'm Jim, and he's Artie."
"Artie? That short for 'Arthur'? That's my uncle's name."
"No, Annabelle, it's short for 'Artemus'."
She smiled. "I like that name." She walked a little closer to Artie. "He's handsome."
Jim grinned, not expecting that. He wondered if Artie had heard her.
Artie's eyes suddenly opened slightly, and he smiled. "Why, thank you, my dear."
She giggled shyly.
"You have…a keen eye…" Artie continued, trying to straighten up a little. He let out a breath and closed his eyes again. "Those men, last night…"
So Artie had thought of the same idea that Jim had. "How many were there, Annabelle?" he asked, taking over from Artie. "Did you see any of their faces?"
"Four. I saw one of 'em."
"What did he look like?"
She shrugged. "I dunno."
Jim sighed. "Was there anything strange about him? A scar, beard, eyepatch…anything?"
"No. He was handsome, but not as handsome as Artie."
Jim smiled again. He thought he heard Artie give a snort, but when he looked at him, his eyes were still closed. "Well…if you remember anything else, be sure to tell the sheriff, all right?"
She nodded. Taking another step closer to Artemus, she patted his arm. "Bye, Artie. Hope you feel better."
Artie opened his eyes again and smiled. "Thank you, my dear. Goodbye."
She giggled again and skipped off.
Jim watched her go before shooting a grin at Artie. "Looks like you're her first crush."
Artie held out his arm for Jim to help him up. "What can I say? Women everywhere swoon at the sight of Artemus Gordon."
Jim laughed, before taking his friend's arm. "Are you sure you can stand? You're almost as white as the snow."
Artie sighed. "No…but I don't want to sit here in the cold all day."
Jim nodded and took his arm; wrapping his other arm around his friend's back and making sure Artie had some balance as he climbed the steps onto the wagon. Jim climbed up beside him and flicked the reins.
Artie sighed and closed his eyes again, eager to get back to the train. He knew that he'd done too much, and hoped that he wouldn't need too long of a recovery.
Jim only got a few miles out of town before he suddenly heard galloping horses behind them. He turned, to see four men with rifles. He knew that they were too close to be able to outrun them, and sighed.
"Artie, we have company."
Artemus remained slumped where he was. "This is not my day..."