"U" and "Me"
"Everyone knows when you make an assumption, it makes an ass outta you and umption."
- Samuel L. Jackson
It was two days after the Maritime Gallery's triumphant opening night before the subject was raised. The Captain had contemplated raising it himself, but in the end he'd decided to let it come up itself, naturally. Besides, the more he thought about it, the more he believed that Tintin was coming to the same conclusion: that he, Tintin, should move into Marlinspike permanently. Nothing concrete had been said of course, but there were one or two hints. For a start, Tintin had made a couple of comments: how beautiful the estate would be in summer, and how much of a pleasure it would be to walk Snowy there; how nice the house would look when the Captain's interior designer was finished, and they were both in agreement that the period wallpaper was very tasteful; he had declared that he couldn't wait to read his way through the Hall's library. In fact, he'd already started. It had rained solidly for the last few days and he'd spent most of that time curled up with a thick book and Snowy, his constant companion.
So on the third morning, when Tintin finally raised the subject, the Captain's face fell in disappointment.
"I was thinking," Tintin said casually as he buttered a slice of toast, "there is a train leaving tomorrow afternoon at half past twelve. Would you mind giving me a lift into the train station? Or I can get a taxi, if you don't have the time. I'd walk, but, with that weather..." He took a bite out of his toast and nodded to the window. It wasn't raining yet, but the angry grey clouds that were coming in from the direction of the lake threatened otherwise.
"Train where?" the Captain asked in dismay.
"Back to Brussels?" Tintin swallowed and cocked his head at the Captain.
"Why'd you want to go there?" The Captain's face brightened a little. "If you're going back to pick up your stuff, I don't mind helping."
"No, I should probably just head home." Tintin tore off a tuft of bread and passed it down to Snowy. The little dog loved warm, buttery bread - mainly for the butter - and he took it with an audible unk! in his desire to eat it.
"Aw, what?" The Captain's face fell again. "I... er, I thought you... No. Never mind."
He started on his breakfast, savagely slicing a sausage in twain. Tintin watched, confused. For some reason, the man looked very unhappy. He could never hide his feelings, not really. He was rubbish at keeping things quiet. "What's wrong?" Tintin asked, worried.
"Nothing," the Captain said. He shrugged. Not meeting Tintin's gaze he continued; "I just thought you were staying, that's all."
"Oh." Tintin felt his eyes widened and realised, as the Captain finally looked up at him, that his mouth was also hanging open in surprise. The Captian's demeanor quickly changed from deeply unhappy to annoyed, his ever-present temper bubbling up to the surface. The Captain was trapped in an eternal state of simmering.
"What's that look for?" he demanded. "By thunder, it's not like I asked you to marry me."
"No, no, it's just come as a bit of a surprise, that's all," Tintin said quickly, hoping to diffuse the situation.
The Captain eyed him. "Oh aye?"
"Yes. I hadn't thought about it" -
"Oh, there's charming!" The Captain slammed down his knife and fork. "Here's me, worrying about your future and well-being, and you've not bothered to spare it a moment's thought! I'm supposed to be your guardian."
"We were a bit busy!" Tintin pointed out. "Besides, we have a plan in place: you stay at yours, I stay at mine, and the social worker cheats and gives us a tip off before she comes over. All we have to do is keep up the front and we can both go about our lives normally."
"But wouldn't it just be easier if you lived here?" the Captain asked, exasperated.
"I honestly hadn't thought about it," Tintin replied. "But that's not to say," he added hastily, "that I won't think about it: of course I will. I'll think about it very carefully."
"Good," said the Captain, placated. "You give it some thought."
"I will," Tintin promised.
"Weigh up the old 'pros and cons'."
"And if you still feel like going back tomorrow, I'll drive you there myself."
"Tomorrow?" Tintin squeaked. He froze in place. He hated being put on the spot like this: he didn't know what to do. He'd forced himself to keep people detached from him, at arms length, and now that he didn't have to, he didn't know how to stop.
"I can't say fairer than that. What's up with you? You've a face on you like you're a rabbit caught in a pair of headlights."
"I need more time than that!"
"You what?" Now it was the Captain's turn to look surprised.
"I need more time."
"It's a pretty easy decision to make: you either want to live here or you don't!"
"But what about weighing the 'pros' and 'cons'?"
"Pro: it's nice here," the Captain said promptly. "Pro; you won't be rattling around that flat of yours on your own. Pro: we can have a right laugh here."
"It's not that simple for me," Tintin insisted gently. "Captain, I have a life in Brussels. I have a job based there" -
"Pooh! You could work here just as easily as you can from there."
"Probably, but in the city I'm in the center of everything. Besides, I was already working on something before I even met you. A case about counterfeiting had just handed itself to me on a silver platter, but I've been so busy since then I haven't had a chance to follow it up."
The Captain, his face furious, went back to his breakfast. An uncomfortable atmosphere settled on the table. Even Snowy looked unhappy: he hated arguments and raised voices unsettled him.
After a short pause, the Captain muttered; "Blistering barnacles, you'd swear it was against the law for a legal guardian and his ward to share the same bloody house. Pretty sure that's the law," he added sarcastically.
Tintin sighed. "Captain, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you" -
"Me?" the Captain snapped. "I'm not upset."
"Annoy you, then," Tintin soothed. "I didn't set out to annoy you. You know how much I respect you, and I think a lot of you. I just need some time, that's all. I've been alone for so long that it's a huge change for me." He eyed the Captain's still-dissatisfied face and pulled his ace out of his sleeve. "You know I've never had a family before." He watched a guilty look fleetingly cross the Captain's face and knew he'd won this hand. He felt a little bad for the manipulation, but it wasn't the first time and it probably wouldn't be the last time either. "I'm not quite Batman yet," he added, hoping to lighten the mood.
The Captain looked horrified. "Of course you're not! I'm the debonair, older, millionaire playboy; you're the gimpy-looking, sarcastic orphan."
"You can't be saying that you're Batman in this scenario?" Tintin asked, amazed.
"Of course I'm Batman! You're Robin."
"Pffft! I'm pretty sure Batman's the one that solves all the crimes."
"Yeah, but I can't pass for the Boy Wonder. Besides, your legs would look better in tights than mine."
Tintin laughed and conceded the point. "Nestor will be Alfred, of course. I wonder who Professor Calculus is?"
The Captain snorted. "Lord knows. He probably misheard and ended up in something called FatCans. There you go: Cuthbert's in a porno movie. He's now a porn star. Happy now?"
Tintin laughed harder and settled back to finish his toast, content to let the Captain crack jokes and make observations on the newspaper. He forced the idea of moving into Marlinspike from his mind. There would be plenty of time to think about that later. Well, eventually, anyway.
Author's Note: Welcome to a series of short stories and scenes based on my version of Tintin. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons: 1 - I'm half-way through one Tintin story, and almost finished another, but RL has started kicking my ass and I don't have any time to devote to them. Because they're full 'books' they need a lot of thought and time, and I just can't do it right now, but I feel bad for not updating anything at all. Yes, I could put the stories that I've already started up, and update them one chapter at a time over a few months, but things are so up in the air right now that I'm not confident, at the end of the months it would take to upload what I have, that I'll have finished them. I'm just too busy. All I have time for is short stories.
2 - a lot of people have asked "will you do this book?" or "will you do a scene with this?" and to be honest: I don't know. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out a way to update stuff like, say, The Blue Lotus, and I can't do it. The main politics with the earlier books have changed completely since the time they were first published, but those situations are usually what drives the stories and the atmosphere/tone of the book. Removing those political and social situations would strip the books of a little bit of magic. That being said, there's scenes in those books that, taken by themselves in a 'short', could be updated (as long as nobody asks any questions about how one or two scenes with a modern setting fit into the original books *cough*).
3 - character development. And story development. By doing shorts that are set between the various books, I can develop my writing and show the growth of the characters. They go from point A to point Z in my stories, and because I'm skipping books in-between it's harder to see how exactly they developed the way they did, and why the relationships of all the characters have changed and evolved in the way they have. Plus, I treat the 'lesser' characters appallingly. Yes, I'm working on something where the Captain has a reduced role and Calculus comes to the front, along with Chang, but I'm finding it harder to write for them than, say, Captain Haddock, because the Captain is my favorite character (as well as Tintin, of course). If I do short stories, I can write entertaining rubbish for Nestor and Cuthbert that helps develop their characters in my own head, which means any story I tackle that includes them will feel more real instead of a bad knock-off.
Finally, I am accepting prompts. So any of those scenes you want to see, from any of the books, or any scenario from angst to comedy to drama to action, I'm up for writing it. There are no silly suggestions, and I will see every suggestion as a challenge. If you suggest an idea, when it (eventually) gets written you will be credited. If you see someone else's suggestion and want to see it done in another way (for example: Tintin is ill: Angst! and Tintin is ill: Comedy!) I'll do that too. I have a lot of readers and you guys have been great: I think it's time I acknowledge that.
Enjoy the series! With any luck, a real book will pop up one of these days too, but until that happens at least you'll have this. :)
ps: pretty much everyone loved the quotes at the start of Alpha-Art, so they're back.