7 September 2012

winryweiss: (Default)
Fill for this prompt
part seven part nine
Warnings: Alternate Universe. Haddock/Tintin. Hurt and Comfort, war-flashback.

The Crab with the Mechanical Claws (part 8)

The Death herself must have been walking on this battlefield. The air was filled with thick steam fog and the unmistakable taste of gunpowder, blood and dying. Heavy puffing of engines shouted down all other noises, all the wails of injured ones, all the yelled orders. He could barely recognize silhouettes of others around him, his vision was somewhat blurry. His eyes were crying, and he could not distinguish anymore whether the tears were of desperation or from acrid dust.
The opponents retreated. For how long?
He was tired. He wished to give up, just lay down and die, be at peace finally. But he had promised with Chester, he had promised, that they both will take captain exams together, that they both will become freelance sailors, family traditions be damned. After they will be free again, after this madness will end.
“Hey, Arch!” Simon appeared next to him. That boy kept telling that he is eighteen, but everyone knew that he was younger. Way too younger. “Chester’s fine. Patella did take out the bullet.”
“All hail to our doc.”
“But he still could lose his arm.”

“No way.” He turned to face Simon. “Chester is far too headstrong for it.”
Simon grinned, his face dirty and hair damp, and he opened his mouth to say something. But it was drown out in high-pitched screech of nearby tank. The copper machine shuddered violently, etched sunflower pranced in mortal spasm as the whole thing exploded. Red-hot components, sharp-edged copper plates and scorching steam burst to all direction.
Smell of scalded skin.

His face stings and his eyes shoots open. For a while he doesn’t know where he is, but then he remembers. War’s end, captain exams, parting with Chester when he acquired ‘Karaboudjan’, years of solitude and memories drowned in whisky, tinned opium, that lithe ginger with queer name and automaton dog, ‘Sirius’. They are on way to Malbork because some crazy engineer has been kidnapped.
“Archibald?” Tintin asks insecure, Milou peeking behind his side.
Captain can’t tell him. He just closes his eyes again, fighting back the tears that threatens to spill out, and shakes his head. Tintin moves closer, embracing him hesitantly. The boy is warm and tender and alive, so Archibald pulls him closer, burying own face in his crew cut hair. Tintin shifts to more comfortable position, seating himself in Captain’s lap, his hand tenderly finds Archibald’s left side. Captain stiffens.
“You have some injury there, don’t you?”
“Yer sharp.” Archibald relaxes and covers Tintin’s hand with his own.
“I merely pay attention to details. Does it hurt?”
“N-No. Not exactly. But it reminds me …”
Tintin listens to Captain’s heartbeat. He feels drowsy, warm and safe. “You need not talk about it. But if you want, I will listen.”
“Yer Angel.” Archibald kisses him on hair. “Did anyone told yer that?”
Tintin laughs. “I have been called nosy, intrusive, meddlesome, snoop, but never Angel.”
“Angel with halo supported on Devil’s horns.”
“Hnnn, I like that.”
Milou puffs and tries to wedge itself between its master and the other man. They both chuckle and Tintin snuggles his automaton with his free hand.
“Some other time.” Captain encased them in his arms. “I’ll tell you at another time.”
“It is a deal.” Tintin kisses him on bearded cheek, polishing Milou’s head-piece.
“Promise.” For the first time since he became captain of ‘Karaboudjan’, Archibald feels at ease.

16th of July, 193-, Malbork
“Please!” Spalding smacks his head to table in pure desperation.
“Grease? What do you mean by this, young man?” Cuthbert is proud of himself. During the nine days of his captivity, he had led most of his captors to verge of tears (and over), five of them to murderous intentions towards his person, one to total nerve collapse and the leader to the deepest depth of desperation. Yesterday, apparently out of any other idea of how to make him understood, they brought him to workroom showing him the devices that their late chief engineer worked on.
They showed him the ‘Crab’.
And he was supposed to finish and improve those! Of course, he will never descend himself to creating weapons of mass destruction! Never, never again. But there are plenty of others who would. And, let’s face it, some of them are nearly as good as he is.
Plus, he should not omit the fact, that ‘Crab’ is functional.
Cuthbert combs his fingers through his moustache. Luckily, he had sent all his blueprints to that promising young reporter. They had found it out, tracing factory post, but according to the boy’s reputation, he doesn’t need to worry about this. On the contrary, his captors are the ones who should be worried. “Why won’t you simply tell me what do you want from me?”
“I did!” Screams Spalding at him. “I’m doing it all the time, you old goat!”
“Buying a crime boat? What is that, some prototype?”
Spalding starts crying.

17th of July, 193-, Malbork
“Lad, yer know that I don’t have any particular interest of getting meself killed, right?”
“Come on, Captain. This will be fun.”
“Shh. Keep your voice down.”
“’kay. But yer have pretty strange notion of fun, yer know.”
They are hiding in the shade of ramparts, near river, while clock tower in the castle ground strikes eleven. The darkness of the night is shredded by few lights here and there shining from tall windows.
“We’re gonna raid the most protected castle in all Preußen and there’s only two of us.”
Mechanical gear grinding from below sounds surprisingly like aggrieved dog’s growl.
“Sorry. Three. I forgot yer.”
“You are talking to my automaton?”
“Yer do it all the time.”
They stare at each other for while, but then they burst out laughing, trying hard, but unsuccessfully, to stifle the sounds. Archibald bites his fist and Tintin breathes hardly to cave from his palms.
“You really do not need to accompany me on this.” Less than more calmed, Tintin starts to unscrew Milou’s tail.
“Yer kidding? I always dreamed of raiding a castle.”
“It is called ‘breaking and entering’.”
“Great to know what we’re doing.”
Another round of stifled giggles.
“We’re twisted.”
“Totally.” Tintin wipes the tears of laughter that prickle in the corners of his eyes. “We just need to sneak in, find professor and sneak out unnoticed.”
“Laddie, I’ve been in army long enough to know, that such plans simply never works.”

Author’s notes
x Captain exams or captain course is something that all mariners who want to have and command own ship (not just some small puny boat) must undergo.
x Captain Chester is Captain Haddock's dear old good friend.
x Simon is an OC. It would be mean to bring an old acquaintance on stage only to [spoilers]. ^^
x Doctor Patella is the unfortunate owner of the poor arrested skeleton and the one who treated whole rocket crew upon their return on Eart in 'Moon series'.
x Professor Calculus could be a really, really cruel man when he wants to. But somehow he remains oblivious to this fact.
x The 'Crab' ... will arise soon.


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