A/N: To be honest, I hadn't heard much about Tintin until the new movie came out. The cartoon was on Nickelodeon when I was little, but I don't remember if I watched it. When I was home from college for winter break, I took my little brother to the movies several times, and Tintin was the very last movie we crossed off our list the night before I went back. We both loved it, and when we came home, I downloaded all of the comics to my iPad.
I went back to school and promptly forgot all about Tintin, as I was occupied by my role in the musical, running the campus newspaper, and my schoolwork. It wasn't until some weeks later when I found myself doing a lot of traveling and waiting because of a family emergency that I read all of the comics. As much as I adored the new movie, I don't think I truly appreciated it until I read the original comics- the Tintin/Haddock friendship really struck a chord with me, and I completely fell in love with the characters, the setting, and the plot. I didn't have much to do through most of that whole situation but wait, so I started to write the fanfic you're about to read (despite the numerous other projects I should probably finish) on my iPad because it was the only thing I had handy.
Er... thank you iPad for keeping my textbooks, comics, and fanfics in one place? Leaving school abruptly in the middle of the week gave me little time to prepare.
Odd story, I know, but it's one of the weirdest fic-starting experiences I've had. Usually I write because I'm bored, or because I plan to. This one... This one just kind of happened. I didn't sit down to come up with a plot, trying to fit in the copious amounts of hurt!comfort driving me to write the story. I actually had a plot (and said hurt!comfort driven motivation)...
To get to the actual story, I'm not quite sure how long this will be. I'd originally intended for this to have just a few long-ish chapters, but I've decided to space them out to accommodate the alternating periods when I write a lot and when I don't. There will be a few interludes every few chapters where the some events of the established canon in the comics and some of my own made-up headcanon are related to the actual story. There's much more violence and hurt!comfort than is actually relevant to the plot, but it's here because it's dramatic and it's what I like to read and write. I have a horrible tendency to injure my favorite characters far more than is actually necessary, and poor Tintin won't get past the first chapter without getting beat up.
I don't write slash (though I read plenty), but you can probably infer some Tintin/Haddock with the established bromance if you squint. It's written purely platonic, but just like the source material, everything is always up for interpretation.
...and I'm never going to have another author's note this long again. I just thought some background might be nice. :-)
1. In which Haddock adds too much sugar
He did have to give the boy credit.
It wasn't entirely Tintin's fault that he was in this situation. He didn't try to buy his morning paper at the precise moment a gunman stealthily shot the man in line in front of him from behind a rubbish can.
It wasn't Tintin's fault that he was called into the police station to describe the man, and that his accurate observations led to the capture and imprisonment of said gunman.
It especially wasn't his fault that the gunman turned out to be a hitman for a prominent local gang, and that the ruling class of the organization was rather angry about the whole ordeal.
Tintin didn't ask to get involved in any of that, and Haddock couldn't blame him for just performing his civic duty.
But he did find a single flaw in the entire situation, and it was a big one—and of course, he wasted no time pointing it out.
Tintin wanted to investigate— he was interested now, and tracking down this gang, what they did, and where they operated was all he could focus on.
Captain Haddock managed to hold his tongue on the matter until one day at lunch when Tintin announced that he had a lead. Tintin had his flat in Brussels and Haddock had Marlinspike Hall to look after, but they made sure to have lunch together in some location or another at least once or twice a week.
At present, they were at Marlinspike, where Nestor had just served them a nice meal of tuna salad sandwiches. They'd moved on to coffee and biscuits, while Snowy occupied himself at Tintin's feet with the remnants of his master's sandwich.
"I don't care if you think you've found Atlantis," the Captain protested. "There's no reason you should look any further into this gang of ruffians. They're already cross with you for locking up their assassin, and I'm sure they won't hesitate to have you killed if they find out you're snooping where they think you shouldn't."
He took his irritation out on his coffee, which had much more sugar in it than he preferred simply because he'd been paying attention to his argument instead of his beverage. He stopped to take a sip and winced, immediately setting the cup back into his saucer. "Blistering…" he started to curse under his breath, leaning over and setting the cup on the ground for Snowy.
The dog, it seemed, had better sense, and merely sniffed at the cup before sticking his nose up in the air and returning to his sandwich.
Tintin listened and watched with quiet amusement, chuckling softly as he comfortably crossed his arms over his chest. "It's all I can think about," he admitted. "If I can find out the when and the where, I most certainly can figure out the who and the why. And that's where I find my story, Captain. I can't pass that up."
"Yes, I'm well aware of your inability to pass up the chance to do anything dangerous," Haddock replied, lifting up his rejected coffee and abandoning it on the table in front of him while ignoring Tintin's rolling eyes. He turned his sights to the biscuits, placing one on his plate. "But I think you've forgotten something, lad."
The journalist raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"The what," Haddock explained. "Isn't it who, what, when, where, and why? You seem to be missing the what."
Tintin gave a knowing smile, and Haddock was immediately suspicious. "Well, I already have that. You have to have one of them to start out, and I have the what. That part was easy. Now I just have to follow it to find the others. Are you coming with me, Captain?"
Haddock now regretted stuffing his mouth with two biscuits at once. He took a moment to chew before brushing some crumbs out of his beard and replying. "Thundering typhoons, boy, haven't you heard anything I've said?"
"Hearing and listening are two different things, sir," Nestor interjected wryly as he cleared the table.
The Captain glared. "Yes, well, thank you for that, Nestor," he said bitterly.
"Yes, thank you for lunch, Nestor. It was quite good," added Tintin, barely containing his smirk.
Face turning red, Haddock seemed about to burst. "Well?"
"Yes, I've heard you, Captain. But I still intend on finding more about this. I had hoped you would join me, but it seems as if you prefer not to this time. That's quite alright," Tintin said, leaning over to scratch Snowy behind the ears. The dog certainly seemed happy, whether from his now fully devoured sandwich, Tintin's affection, or both.
Again, Haddock was suspicious, this time at Tintin's calm reaction. Tintin wasn't one to respond with anger, but he often had logic to back most of his assertions. His complacent attitude was a bit concerning. "You're going to let me off that easy, eh?"
Tintin shrugged, not taking his eyes off of Snowy. "There's no use debating it. I'm going. You're not. It's a win-win situation."
"Not quite," Haddock sighed again. "I wish you weren't going at all. Mark my words, Tintin—it won't end well."
Tintin looked up from his dog. "Because you're not coming with me, or because you don't think I can handle myself?" he asked, a bit of a harsh edge to the perpetual curiosity in his voice.
"See here, Tintin, that's not what I—"
"There was a time— before—when I could handle myself very well. I did it for a very long time, you know. I doubt much has changed," Tintin interrupted sharply. Before I met you, he didn't say. He straightened in his chair.
There was an awkward silence between them, something that rarely happened. Conversation flowed so naturally between boy and sea captain alike that quietness just didn't happen. When it did, it was because they were going about their own business, simply enjoying one another's company.
In this instance, Tintin seemed rather surprised at himself—not only did he rarely raise his voice, but he had also initiated the argument. Haddock just blinked at him, and even Snowy stopped wagging his tail under the table, clearly sensing something was amiss.
Realizing his rudeness, Tintin apologized. "I'm sorry," he said in a much calmer tone, giving a sheepish half smile of regret. "I didn't mean that. I'm rather irritable today, I'm afraid… I should probably leave. My train will be here soon."
"It's quite alright, Tintin. I understand," Haddock replied quietly, not entirely convinced. He was a bit hurt, if he was going to be honest, but this whole thing would blow over soon. Tintin would find his story or he wouldn't, and it was none of his concern.
"Yes, goodbye, Captain," Tintin said hastily. He threw on his trenchcoat, fixing the collar in one graceful motion as he slid it on his wiry body.
When Tintin left moments later, Snowy scampering behind him, Haddock wasn't sure if the bad taste left in his mouth was from their conversation or his spoiled coffee. He set out for the kitchen, hoping to find a bottle of Loch Lomond in the cabinet by the sink to make it go away.
The proper reason Haddock took the train to Brussels that evening was to visit a friendly little corner tobacco shop near Tintin's flat, though he and Nestor both knew that he had plenty of tobacco to last him several more weeks. Some things, it seemed, never strayed far from his mind—like his stock of tobacco, and certain ginger reporters that often found themselves in danger.
Somewhere between the brands of whiskey and sailor's knots filling his brain, Haddock knew that the shop closed at 18:00, and that catching a 21:30 train wouldn't give him the chance to purchase any tobacco in the near future. The entire errand seemed built on a lie, it seemed, whether to Nestor (who knew more than he let on, as always) or to himself.
Neither seemed important when he knocked on Tintin's door and received neither an invitation to come in nor any kind of reply at all.
He knocked again, slightly harder this time. "Tintin? I see the light under your door, lad. Won't you let me in?"
Getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of response, he tentatively tried to push open the door, gently twisting the doorknob.
It wasn't locked, which seemed odd in itself. Tintin usually locked the door for safety reasons, even when he was by himself in his flat. Stepping into Tintin's sitting room, he found that the light was coming from a small lamp on a table. His young friend was sprawled out on the couch nearby, his face stuffed in the cushions and right arm dangling off the side, limp fingers nearly touching the floor. He was still wearing the white shirt and blue jumper he had been wearing earlier for his visit to Marlinspike. Snowy, who Haddock assumed had been sleeping somewhere nearby, stretched in front of him with a large yawn.
Haddock sighed, relieved that his friend seemed to be all right. Perhaps the boy had returned from a rather tiring and eventful night, and was too exhausted to make it to his bedroom. He leaned down and pet the dog, who surprised him by lightly howling. "What is it, old boy?"
Snowy padded over to Tintin's sleeping form on the couch and sat down, still quietly whining. Haddock followed and knelt next to the couch, placing a hand on Tintin's shoulder. "Tintin," he whispered, trying to gently wake him up. "Sorry to bother you, lad, but… Billions of blistering blue barnacles, what did you do to yourself this time, Tintin?"
Upon closer inspection, he saw the beginnings of several bruises creeping up along the collar and cuffs of Tintin's white shirt, and quickly tried to turn the redhead over with as much gentleness as he could muster.
He felt his breath catch as he evaluated Tintin's condition. He seemed to have just returned from a severe beating, the telltale purple and blue marks dotting his pale skin. Tintin's left eye was puffy and dark, clearly turning into a black eye, rusty flakes of dried blood from a cut along his hairline stuck to his skin, and his bottom lip seemed to be split.
The sudden movement seemed to jostle Tintin awake. He groaned, a hand flying to his head. "Mmmm… Captain, what… What are you doing here?" he asked groggily. Haddock so rarely heard Tintin get caught off guard by anything that he found himself alarmed by his dazed response.
"I was in the neighborhood," he replied flatly, too focused on the current state of his friend to come up with a more creative or truthful variation on the lie. I was here to make sure you didn't get yourself killed, and it seems as if I had the right idea, the Captain thought.
"I didn't… I didn't hear you come in," Tintin said in an unusually small voice, yawning. He still didn't seem to be fully awake, which bothered the Captain because Tintin was usually a fairly light sleeper
Haddock stood up, putting his hands in his pockets. "No, you didn't," he sighed, frowning. "Now, do I have to take a page from your book and start asking questions, or are you going to fill in the blanks for me? Because there's a quiet 'I told you so' I've been longing to air out, and it seems as if I'm about to get the chance to use it," he grumbled, placing his hands on his hips.
Tintin slumped back along the arm of the couch, lazily throwing an arm over his eyes. "Can we talk about this tomorrow?" he moaned, his words turning into a childish whine. "I've a dreadful headache, and I'd like to go back to sleep."
"I suppose," Haddock replied with another sigh of disapproval. "But we should probably clean you up first. Bloodstains aren't easy to get out of furniture cushions, or so I've been told. By you, I believe."
Tintin made a sound of confusion, his hand still resting on his aching head. "Hmm? Oh, I didn't even realize…" he murmured as he glanced at his red tipped fingers, the wound not quite as dried as it had initially appeared.
"That's a bit concerning, lad," Haddock chided, finally voicing his worry. He helped Tintin sit up on the couch before wandering to the bathroom to find a first aid kit. He sat down next to Tintin and opened it, not surprised in the least that it was more than half empty.
In another ten minutes, he'd bandaged and cleaned what he could while trying to ignore the bruises and other injuries that he couldn't do anything about, as well as the quiet hisses and winces that Tintin kept trying to hide from him.
"You should probably rest," the Captain declared as he handed Tintin a bag of frozen ice for his eye. "It's getting late. Do you mind if I sleep in your chair here?" he asked, motioning to a comfortable armchair he often favored when he visited. "It's too late to return to Marlinspike for the night."
Tintin seemed to be nearly falling asleep again despite some discomfort from the ice on his eye, but answered quietly, "Of course. You can sleep in my bed, if you like. I'm perfectly happy sleeping here."
Haddock chuckled. "I can see that, but I think you should sleep in your own bed tonight, with the state you're in. Come on, then—let's make sure you can make it there."
Tintin gave a tired sigh of defeat. "I suppose."
Together, they made their way to the bedroom, where Tintin seemed capable enough of putting himself to bed, a fresh pair of pajamas folded on top of the blanket.
"Goodnight, Tintin. Wake me if you need anything," Haddock said, turning to leave.
"I'll be fine," Tintin insisted wearily, getting quietly frustrated because he wasn't nearly as convincing as he wanted to be. "But thank you for your help."
Haddock suspected that there was a long story and an apology behind that statement, but he didn't feel like pressing the boy just yet. Tintin's curiosity was catching, it seemed.
"Of course," he said, but then paused. "Did you find what you were looking for?" he inquired, but they both knew the real question: Was it worth it?
Tintin smiled, looking like himself for the first time since Haddock arrived. "Of course," he answered, and that was good enough for his Captain.
A/N: I'm not sure how often this will be updated. Most of it is already written, but my schedule varies depending on what life throws at me-I often find it changes without much notice, so it could be days, weeks, or months. But this will be updated, if sporadically. I'm shooting for longer sections and spaces between updates instead of short passages that don't really flow.
All comments and reviews are appreciated. If you feel so inclined, let me know what you're thinking!