"Captain! Hurry, come quick!"
The captain instantly shot up from his chair (nearly tipping over his bottle of Loch Lomond from the side table in the process) upon hearing the distressed voice of his better half from upstairs. Unlike Captain Haddock, Tintin was not one to make a ruckus out of little things; in fact he wasn't really one to make a ruckus of things at all. It just wasn't in his nature.
Thus led Haddock to the conclusion that something was definitely wrong.
Springing into action, the captain sprinted out of the den and up the stairs (nearly tripping over the broken step for the umpteenth time) to the rescue. His memory recalled that Tintin had retreated to the bathroom to take a shower before turning in for the night, so that was the direction that the captain was headed. Oh, he hoped the poor lad was alright!
However, he didn't get far past the stairs when he collided with another object in motion.
Haddock was instantly knocked back, landing flat on his ass with a grunt. Shaking his head, he looked up to see Tintin, sitting across from him in a similar, disheveled position. He was in a bathrobe, but his hair was still dry as if he hadn't even stepped in the tub yet.
"Blistering barnacles, Tintin!" Haddock remarked, helping the redhead off the ground. "I heard you call for me; whatever's the matter, m'boy?"
"Oh, it was horrible!" Tintin answered, a little shaky. "I was about to step into the shower, I wish I had seen it sooner when I wasn't so off-guard…"
"What? What is it?" The captain asked, his voice showing concern.
"I just don't know how a spider could have gotten in the house, let alone the bathtub, completely undetected!"
Well, he certainly wasn't expecting an answer like that.
"You called bloody murder for me because of a spider?" Haddock blinked in disbelief.
A long awkward pause, and then Haddock did something unexpected. He covered his face with his hand and started laughing. It started as a low snicker but soon exploded into a jovial roar of amusement.
"W-Well, it wasn't just any spider!" the reporter defended softly, his face a little pink. "It was huge—well, not nearly as huge as the one I encountered on that Arctic meteorite, but—and it was just waiting for me in the shower, in my moment of absolute vulnerability!"
The older man patted the redhead's shoulder, letting out a last few chuckles. "Forgive me, Tintin, I just…" he took a second to take a breath and wipe a tear that rested at the corner of his eye. "You had me worried there for a second, thought you were getting chased around by some madman or something."
"Y-yeah…I guess I kinda…overreacted, huh?" the reporter chuckled nervously. The captain smiled and nodded, turning around to leave when Tintin reached out for his shoulder to stop him. He hesitantly added, "Actually, I needed to ask you something…"
"Of course, what d'you need?"
"Would you…kill it for me?"
Captain Haddock strode into the bathroom, a rolled up magazine tightly gripped in his right hand. He had had a feeling that one day he'd have to step up and protect Tintin from some sort of threat, but this was just not the scenario he pictured when he'd made this conclusion. Kneeling by the bathtub, it didn't take long for him to find the little eight-legged devil clinging to the shower wall. Turning his head he could see Tintin peeking from the doorway, as hesitant as ever.
"Y'know," the older man began, "I'm not going to lie, I was quite surprised…I would've never taken you for an arachnophobe, lad. It almost seems…out of character for you."
"I know…Sad isn't it?" another nervous, dry chuckle. "A boy reporter who's done battle with men twice his size is frightened by a little spider crawling around in his shower..."
Haddock could sense the boy's discomfort; if there was one thing Tintin hated more than spiders, he knew, it was having his faults exposed. "Not at all!" he comforted. "Everyone's gotta be afraid of something; that just makes you human-!"
Seeing the spider begin to move from the corner of his eye, the captain switched his attention back to the matter at hand. Acting quickly he brought his improvised weapon down with great force upon the infernal pest, a loud slap! resonating off of the shower walls. Spider innards smeared both the magazine and a small spot on the tub.
"Well, that's that," he nodded triumphantly, standing up and tossing the magazine in the waste bin.
"Alright, you can come in now; the dark deed you've requested has been done," Haddock said, beckoning to Tintin, who was now slowly approaching the bathtub. He brightened when he saw that the spider was nowhere to be seen.
"Sorry for the trouble," the redhead replied, smiling sheepishly.
"No problem, mon petit. Always happy to be of service." Haddock gave Tintin a small peck on the forehead before leaving to let the poor boy finally use the shower.
Haddock closed his book upon hearing the door click as Tintin entered, now in his pajamas, hair still slightly damp. Pushing the covers back, he crawled in beside the captain.
"So when did it start?" Guess I might as well ask, Haddock thought.
"What—Oh, right…" The redhead pushed his hair back, trying to recall. "Well…I think it started when I was really little; my father and uncle took me out on a camping trip when I was seven. There were a few stray spiders in our tent. I panicked, and if I remember correctly, one even crawled on my arm, and it bit me. I've been uncomfortable around them ever since.
"But my actual fear of them truly intensified after my time on that island of Phostlite, as you may recall. The radiation from the meteorite caused a spider that had crawled inside my lunch box to grow until it was bigger than I was! It was absolutely monstrous, and it came right for me!" The boy let out a small shudder at this memory. "I was terrified."
"Well, in a situation like that, you had every right to be! Barnacles, I'm not normally scared by spiders, but a sight like that would have made my jump out of my beard!"
Tintin gave his captain a weak smile at his understanding before quickly shifting back into embarrassment. "Even so…"
"Come now boy, what have you got to be so embarrassed about?" Haddock quickly retaliated. "Arachnophobia is pretty common, y'know. My own granddaddy was scared stiff of the little buggars.
"But he wasn't ashamed of it, and you needn't be either! You've done so much that people twice your age would cower to even think of. You're the bravest person I know, Tintin. Sure, you may be scared of something that not everyone else is. But you shouldn't let that one moment of weakness overshadow your strong factors."
Tintin looked back at the captain. "I suppose you're right."
"Of course I am!" Haddock grinned. "And it's as my granddaddy used to say—sometimes being brave is all about being scared, Tintin. When something scares you but you push through it anyway…that's what being brave is all about. I know someday you'll get past this little bump just like all the others.
"But until that day comes," the older man added tenderly. "I'll be more than happy to squish those little troglodytes for you when they give you trouble."
The redhead smiled once more. Somehow that old sea dog always knew exactly what to say when he needed to hear it. "Your grandfather must have been a very smart man."
Haddock chuckled. "As smart as they came."
Tintin scooted closer, snuggling close to the captain's chest. He sighed contentedly.
"Merci, mon capitaine."
The older man wrapped an arm around his beloved, beginning to nod off. "All in a day's work, mon cher."
The redhead slept soundly that night, knowing that as long as Captain Haddock was there by his side, he would have nothing to fear.