Thanks to the lovelies who were there during my first time in #spam!, who not only made me comfortable in chat, but urged me to "go for it!" when I hesitantly told them about plans to write about a little-known char named Tintin (which I then found out was not so little-known to them, so hooray!) Thanks to Samy, K-Nice, Harlequin, Em, and the rest of the #spam!ers. They quelched my doubts that anyone would actually read this, which pushed me into finally writing it. :) This also goes out to the people who feedbacked "Non-X Holiday Party" a long time ago, surprising and delighting me with the news that yes, some OTLers *do* read Tintin. :)
I'm pretty sure this will turn into a series. I want it to. I just need the time to write it. Time, please come home? I promise I'll be good to you. . .
Feedback, as always, is greatly craved.
Well baby, there you stand
With your little head, down in your hand
Oh, my God, you can't believe it's happening again
Your baby's gone, and you're all alone
And it looks like the end.
-- "Wasted Time" by The Eagles
She was sitting on top of the stone walls when he saw her. Her hair was big and black and wild -- or it might have just been the wind playing with the ebony strands, weaving in and out as it tickled her locks and grazed across her skin. She was swinging her legs gently, creating a light thip-thup sound as her heels scraped against the concrete with each move. She looked pale, but perhaps it was just the sun intruding too much into his eyes. He was eleven feet below her, after all, and sight played tricks on you when you stood at a distance, a game of peek-a-boo.
She appeared carefree, as if she was just sitting there to admire the view, to breathe in the air. She might be -- seabreeze was lovely after all. Good for your health too, as many people had voiced in the past. He wondered if his health was worth saving now. A shrill cry echoed just outside his peripheral vision, belonging to one of the gulls swooping in and out of the beach, and it brought his gaze back to the ocean.
This gaze only lasted a few minutes before he picked up his flip-flops and rose to his feet, dusting sand off the seat of his pants. A child ran past him, giggling in a pair of swimming trunks and carrying a flotable green-and-red dragon under one arm. He paused only to watch the child scurry to his mother before he himself started to climb up the stone steps, the ones that led away from the beach.
He passed by the pale girl on his way to his car, and the closeness revealed to him just that -- that she was merely a girl. Not a young one, not a child, but one old enough to know a bit of the world. Or a lot of it. Her lips were slightly blue, maybe dark brown. Perhaps ordinarily they were black, to complete the Goth look, as she was wearing black all over. A tank top that was cut a little too low, and pants that were probably leather. She was looking out into the horizon, smiling.
She noticed him pause in his step, and turned to look at him. Dark eyes met blue ones, and he hitched a breath.
"I know you," he whispered.
A beat passed between them. "Most people do, if they look hard enough," she replied.
He backed away, eyes still locked. She broke it by turning away, returning her gaze to the beach in front of her. She heard no running footsteps, merely soft treads, calm and in control, followed by the sound of a car starting up and moving away.
The wind nestled against her cheek, soft and fond like a loving niece, just as the scream of an anguished mother pierced the air.
She rose from her seat slowly, and walked down the stone steps leading to the white-gold sand below. The mother held her child in her arms, sobbing and wailing as the crowd stood back, sympathy in their eyes. A green-and-red flotation device lay two feet away from them, dragon smile wide with unawareness.
She found the little soul standing by the waves, the water licking at the edge of his heels as he stared pensively at the crowd. She came next to him, and he looked up at her expectantly.
"I drank too much water," he said.
She nodded. "Happens to the best of us." She extended her hand. "C'mon, Joseph, it's time to go."
He frowned, a little angry, a little defiant. His lips were curled and stuck out in a cross between a pout and a sulk. "I want my Snugga! I wasn't finished playing yet."
She crouched down to eye-level with him and smiled. "I'm afraid we can't bring Snugga along with you, Joey. But where I'll take you, you can play with many special things all you want."
Hesitation flitted across his young, yet-unmarked face. "Really?"
"Is it Heaven?"
"Is it -" his voice lowered into a hush, "Hell?"
The edge of her lips quirked involuntarily as she leaned closer, speaking in the same confidential kind of tone he had used. "Definitely not. It's a very nice place, once you get used to the wind."
"I didn't get to tell Mommy goodbye."
"No, you didn't." She looked sympathetic. "You will see her soon, though. And meanwhile, you will be very happy in the place I'm taking you to. A lot of people are. At the very least they're content." She straightened and extended her hand once more. "Shall we?"
He placed his tiny hand into hers, and they moved away from the tragic sobs behind them.
* * *
"Tintin? Tintin, where are you?"
He closed his eyes and exhaled, then brushed the tuft of dark blond hair from his forehead and reopened his eyes. He turned his head in direction of the door and called, "I'm in here, Captain."
The gold-plated handle twisted with a click before allowing a slight sweeping sound as the door was pushed open. Captain Haddock looked in, concern hidden behind just-noticeable eyebags and his thick black beard. He betrayed surprise when he glanced down at the younger man. Tintin was standing upside down, back against the wall, all weight resting on his head and forearms. It was not the position itself that startled Haddock, because it was one of Tintin's usual exercise routines -- it was more the fact that the young man was actually doing it right now. It had been a long time - how long, months? - since Haddock had last seen him in that position. Last seen him behave his usual self.
"There you are," said the Captain, recovering. "I was looking all over for you. Nestor's got lunch ready downstairs."
Tintin turned his head away. "Thanks, Captain, but I don't really feel hungry right now."
"Come now, Tintin, a meal will do you good. You need it. To keep your strength up." The plea was very apparent in his voice.
Tintin tried to laugh as he slowly brought his knees down, placing them on the floor in front of him so that he could roll into an upright position once more. "Believe me, Captain, it won't be any use keeping my strength up. It's not like I'm going anywhere, right?"
"Thundering typhoons, Tintin," the Captain uttered lowly, in his usual curse. "It's just. . ."
"I'll be all right, Captain. I'll eat something later." His voice sounded so faint, so pliant, and he distantly wondered why. "Tell Nestor I'm sorry I can't come down to eat. I'll. . . I'll make it up to him, somehow." Not that he knew exactly how he could do "make it up" to the butler anyway. Nestor was not in great need of anything. Tintin rose to his feet slowly, rubbing his forehead. He didn't know anything these days.
He lifted his head so that he was barely eye-to-eye with the slightly taller Captain, and his jaw slackened when he saw how stark the look in Haddock's eyes was.
"It's a shame, Tintin," the Captain said hollowly. "It's a damn shame." And he turned and slowly walked away, shutting the door behind him, his footsteps echoing loudly in the lonely space of Marlinspike Hall.
Tintin stood there, alone and useless, knowing that the Captain would be reaching for his glasses of whiskey because of him. Not that Captain Haddock was known for abstinence from alcohol in the first place, because he drank more than a whole fleet of navymen combined. Drinking was, and always had been, an art to Haddock. His liver defied all doctors' expectations of its lifespan. Now, however, for the first time in many, many years, Haddock was drinking not because it was something he enjoyed, but to take away the pain. Pain that was essentially supposed to be just Tintin's.
Tintin slid back down to the floor and hung his head above his knees, arms wrapped around his shins. When he finally looked up, he saw a pale-skinned girl resting on the windowsill.
She glanced around the room. "Snazzy. Got that very 'authentic' touch -- 19th century chairs, King-Henry-style four-poster bed. Captain really knows how to live it up."
He looked at her for a while before glancing away. "Cherries."
"You smell like. . . cherries."
"Really? Interesting. People usually say I smell like dried sunshine or wrinkled petals. Those who know me, of course." She cocked her head to one side, eyeing him as he eyed back. "I liked that position you did, the upside-down one. Meditation?"
"Didn't used to be. Just something I made up at first, to get blood circulating. Now it's to think."
"Human like to think a lot. Sometimes it's good, sometimes not so."
"Are you here to take me?"
She twisted her lips thoughtfully, a little facial corkscrew. "I don't take anybody, I'm not that selfish. I just accompany them to places. Make sure they don't get lost."
"Is it my time yet?"
"No, not really." She shifted against the sill and he noticed the sun catch on something over her chest. She was wearing some sort of locket, or medallion. . . something. It had a strange kind of symbol shape, like a cross but with a curved hoop instead of the top half. "You seemed kinda interesting, so I thought I'd drop by to see how you were doing. I'm actually surprised that you can see me, though. People usually don't notice me so soon."
"Unless they're about to die," he said flatly.
She shrugged. "Sometimes. Not always." She tilted her head a bit. "You're a little too young to be jaded, aren't you?"
"I'm not that young."
"But you weren't always like this."
He paused, then hefted a shrug. She slid off the windowsill and approached the bed, sitting on it and bouncing on the edge. He watched her.
"You're not making your loved ones happy this way, you know."
He hung his head. "The Captain keeps punishing himself. He says he should be the one to go first. Says he's lived enough, that he deserves it, that he should be the one to die because he's drank and smoked and 'done' things that he's not proud of. I wish he wouldn't say that. He's a good man."
"A good man?"
"Have you lived?"
He raised his head. "I've lived. I've had more than my share of adventures. I would never complain." He paused. "How long do I have left?"
"Why do you ask? So you can carry on in this blank haze until it's time? I don't tell people, not until it's their time to go. They structure their lives too much already, I don't want them building their lives around for when I'll come to get them. A lot of humans do that already, and you'd think they'd learn after a couple of centuries." She pursed her lips. "What will you do if I do tell you? Sit around and wait now that you've got a definite date in your mind?" She shook her head. "You're almost as exasperating as my brother. Not quite, but almost."
"Doctor says I've got another six months before the cancer consumes me."
"Eh, he's a doctor." She shrugged, either a 'What does he know?' gesture or a 'He should know' one. The light blue bedspread contrasted against her black jeans.
Silence made a brief appearance, like a film star doing a cameo on a TV show, smiling and blowing kisses before flitting off into oblivion. He spoke first. "I had a sister, once."
She quirked an eyebrow. "'Once'? I don't recall bringing her away. I have a good memory."
"She's. . . around. I don't know where she is now. Or if she'll even consider me her brother anymore. I haven't. . . haven't been exactly attentive to her, for a long time. Always too wrapped up in my adventures. There were times when I wanted to call and find out how she was doing - where she was, for that matter - but then a new story would pop up and I'd go after it, and I'd forget. Reporting is a hard business."
"Which is why you retired?"
"Partly the reason. The other part. . . well, you know."
"Mm. Why don't you find out where she is right now? Nothing's stopping you."
He hesitated. "I don't. . . I don't want her to think that I'm looking for her just because I'm dying. It's almost selfish, you know? Like I'm only choosing this time to contact her because I won't be here long, that I need to make peace with her just so I can go with peace of mind. That would be self-centered of me."
"I wouldn't say that, Tintin." She spoke his name at last, and he thought it odd that he didn't feel his bones chill when she did, as he thought he would. "You're hardly a selfish person. You've had your moments, but how otherwise could you explain your devoting a grand portion of your life to saving lives and bringing criminals to justice?"
"You make it sound like I'm a superhero. I'm not. Such things don't exist in the world anymore."
"I remember your optimism. I miss it. I'd like to see it again." She drew her legs up onto the bed, the soles of her boots pressing a dent against the mattress. "You never thought about saving the world, not specifically, anyway, but it was in the things you did. You had a kind heart, you still believed in justice even when tied up or imprisoned or worse. Humans need more like you around, you know -- if this is your time to be selfish, then I don't see anything wrong with that."
He paused, gazing into nothingness. "You really think I can find her? It's been a long time."
"Years," she agreed. "But the Captain has money, Professor Calculus has the scientific thingamajigs, all three of you have connections -- not a bad way to start, y' know."
"Why did you come visit me?"
She turned her head and looked at him, her turn to pause. "I don't know, actually. You just seemed fascinating. Humans are, in general, but you drew my attention more."
"I'm glad you did."
"Will you come again?"
She bounced off the bed onto her feet. "What, to accompany you to the other realm? You know I won't tell you when, Tintin -"
"No, it's not that. I'm not asking when. I. . . I'd just like to see you again. It's good to have a friend."
She smiled. "You have them all around you, Tintin. What are you talking about?"
He dropped his gaze. "I know. But. . . aside from Chang, you seem to be the only one I can talk to about. . ."
She laughed, a crisp full-flavored sound in the empty hollowness of the room. "Perhaps," she said. "Perhaps I'll drop in again sometime. In the meantime. . ."
"I'll look for my sister. Will you know where to find me?"
A grin this time, white teeth beneath wide dark lips. "I always know where to find people."
She slid onto the windowsill and swung her legs over to the other side, then slipped away. He heard no sound, no hint that she had climbed down the ivy or if she had landed on the rosebushes below. Nothing to indicate that she had been real. He didn't move from where he was on the floor.
He finally did, after a few minutes, rising to his feet and flexing his legs, chasing away the pins and needles. Bare feet treaded the marble floors as the door whispered open and he descended down the curving stairs for a meal.
You never thought you'd be alone
This far down the line
And I know what's been on your mind
You're afraid it's all been wasted time
-- "Wasted Time" by The Eagles
These notes can be read either before or after the fic itself, whichever you
prefer. This story came about because, well, there simply aren't any fics about
Tintin. And if you folksies think that *you* write about little-known comic
characters (and you know who you are *wags finger lightly*), take a look at poor
Tintin. I've searched everywhere for fanfics about him, and came up with nada.
Nothing at all. (On the other hand, that would mean that this is the first ever
Tintin fic to come out... in which case, history in the making! *grin*) In
fact, the only time he was ever mentioned in a fic was when I gave him a
two-line cameo in my "Non-X Holiday Party" less than a year ago, and it was only
then that I realized that there were no Tintin fics around. I've included descriptions of the characters featured here. Those unfamiliar
with the characters will get to find out about them here, while those familiar
with the characters will get to find out the kinds of changes I've made to them
(hey, it's been a few decades since Tintin was last seen in print -- the guy's
gotta change after all ;) ). Death's description is taken off of the website The Wake
(http://members.wbs.net/homepages/t/h/e/thewakefamily.html), which in turn took
the snippets off of "Seasons of Mist". Most people know Death (I should hope),
so I won't dwell much on her info. Tintin & co.'s full information can be found at
http://members.xoom.com/marlinspike, a highly recommended site on all things
Tintin (which even includes details about the comic's shortcomings, now how many
fan sites would actually do that? I'm even trying to address some of those
These notes can be read either before or after the fic itself, whichever you prefer.
This story came about because, well, there simply aren't any fics about Tintin. And if you folksies think that *you* write about little-known comic characters (and you know who you are *wags finger lightly*), take a look at poor Tintin. I've searched everywhere for fanfics about him, and came up with nada. Nothing at all. (On the other hand, that would mean that this is the first ever Tintin fic to come out... in which case, history in the making! *grin*) In fact, the only time he was ever mentioned in a fic was when I gave him a two-line cameo in my "Non-X Holiday Party" less than a year ago, and it was only then that I realized that there were no Tintin fics around.
I've included descriptions of the characters featured here. Those unfamiliar with the characters will get to find out about them here, while those familiar with the characters will get to find out the kinds of changes I've made to them (hey, it's been a few decades since Tintin was last seen in print -- the guy's gotta change after all ;) ).
Death's description is taken off of the website The Wake (http://members.wbs.net/homepages/t/h/e/thewakefamily.html), which in turn took the snippets off of "Seasons of Mist". Most people know Death (I should hope), so I won't dwell much on her info.
Tintin & co.'s full information can be found at http://members.xoom.com/marlinspike, a highly recommended site on all things Tintin (which even includes details about the comic's shortcomings, now how many fan sites would actually do that? I'm even trying to address some of those shortcomings here).
DEATH (information lifted off The Wake) -- "I think Gaiman left her description blank for a reason; words just can't do her justice. To know her is to love her, and talking with her only increases that. I think she is not only Dream's big sister, but everyone's. She passes no criticisms or judgments, she is caring, yet stern, she listens for she has plenty of time to wait. Perhaps what keeps her loving the lives she takes is her one day a century that allows her to touch them. Through the course of time she has performed her duty with optimism. In meeting her you don't know if you are ending something or just beginning it."
TINTIN -- Very recognizeable tuft of hair over his forehead. A reporter, he has gone on many adventures that has left him with a lot of friends, some enemies, and plenty of acquaintances that can't be classified in either of the two camps. This is no superhero, he has no powers, nothing except ordinary courage, wit, and luck. And the word "ordinary" should be emphasized, because unlike Batman who also has no supernatural powers, Tintin doesn't have such extraordinary tenacity or fancy thingamajig gadgets. He gets tired, he gets weary, he is smart but not superintelligent He is just a regular person, who has a heart. CHANGES: (1) I've aged him. No, not the way Marvel ages and de-ages Magneto, I mean just by a few years or so. Tintin was commonly referred to as the "boy reporter" by his creator Herge, even though he was old enough to drink, drive, go treasure-hunting, fly to the moon, contend with a Yeti, hang out with guerillas. . . (*sigh*) if only we young 'uns were so lucky. I'm basically going to make him around his mid-20s. (2) I'm giving him more depth. Okay, "angst", if you will ;), 'cause he doesn't get enough in the comics (as good as they are). He hasn't really had anything... *personal* involved in his life. There're mostly friends and adventures, but no family or romantic life in the comics. I'm going to give him some -- a guy gets lonely on the road, don'tcha know. ;) You can read more about such shortcomings at http://members.xoom.com/marlinspike. (3) His eyes. Um. They have no real color, canonically. Just tiny black dots. I made them blue here. (4) He has no sister. I've given him one. He's never been shown to have a family at all, ever in his entire series, and I don't think that's right. Besides, girls rarely come into important play in Tintin comics, so I'm attempting to remedy this.
SNOWY -- Tintin's dog with a great wit. I've omitted him from the fic, unfortunately. Really sorry, Tintin-ers, I adore the love just as much as the next person, but I really couldn't quite make a talking dog appear realistic in the story while still exercising his full potential... (and believe me, I tried...)
CAPTAIN HADDOCK -- Older than Tintin, perhaps in his 40s? A loud ex-mariner, he was first introduced to us in the comics as a drunkard being manipulated (and plied with liquor) by his first mate. Tintin engaged Haddock's help in tracking down that baddie, and pretty soon the Captain was back to his old, robust self -- pre-drunkard age. He loves to drink and smoke his pipe, and goes into a fit if denied either. He's stern and adamant and fortunately for him, his pride tends to heal after he gets into the worst kinds of situations. ;) When he inherited his ancestor's fortune and moved to live in Marlinspike Hall with his butler, he settled down to a more peaceful lifestyle -- although everytime he protests against going on another adventure with Tintin, he usually ends up tagging along, the old goat. He does have a heart if you pick-axe hard enough. ;) A loud and straightforward man with a wild temper to boot (heaven forbid you take away his whiskey bottle), he is very firm when it comes to standing by his friends. CHANGES: Um, not much, actually. Captain Haddock's a really great and well-fleshed character, and it'll be a shame to change anything about him. :)
Little bittys -- these names are only mentioned in the story and the people themselves don't appear, so I'm not going to elaborate on them. But they will appear in future:-
NESTOR -- Captain Haddock's butler. He was previously servant to a pair of criminal brothers, but knew nothing about their activities until their arrest. The brothers had lived in Marlinspike, and when the Captain inherited it, he took Nestor on as well.
PROFESSOR CUTHBERT CALCULUS -- Not an absent-minded scientist, but a deaf one. He never seems to acknowledge this, though, always insisting that he's "hard of hearing" in one ear. His area of science deals mostly with nuclear physics, and exasperates Captain Haddock to no end with his misinterpretation of what he hears. (And yet Haddock is still fond of the guy and lets him stay in Marlinspike...)
CHANG -- A Chinese boy that Tintin rescued during a flood in China, and again when Chang was stranded in Kathmandu with a Yeti (long story ;) ...). He should be in his late teens by now, I'd estimate, and they keep in constant contact through letters.
That's it. End notes! :)