Tintin sat alone in the London hospital, holding onto a cup of cold coffee. It was hot once, when a sympathetic nurse offered it to him. But all heat had gone from it by now. He had arrived hours ago via emergency helicopter from Iceland, he had brought Anne himself. Carrying her in his arms like a proud hero – although people had said such things, he could feel nothing like a hero.
Because Anne was dying in the most painful way possible while he was waiting uselessly in the ward outside where she was being operated in. Doing nothing.
He was leaning forward in the chair he sat, scratching a sleeping Snowy behind the ears. He would not leave his master after he was found in the Prawn. Tintin needed and wanted the company of his best friend. Focusing his eyes on the cup he held, but thinking of everything that had happened. She didn't deserve to die like that… being tortured by having everything ripped away. He watched it all happen in the bushes. He watched when he could've done something, anything. Tintin was filled with hate at himself. He felt monstrous, inhuman for his lack of action.
"Good morning, Tintin." The voice belonged to a Thomson. He couldn't care less which one or what they wished to say. He didn't feel like talking at 2am.
"We need you to give us a statement of what happened."
"It's preferred that you do this now... orders are orders, I'm afraid."
He looked up, aware that he probably looked like hell. Well he had gone through it – the upper classed policemen could judge him however they wanted. They were spotless in their sharp suits and bowler hats. As usual.
He explained everything that had happened with no emotion and little detail. How he woke unexpectedly in an Icelandic hospital, the message that Blackhauk had given him (names were not mentioned) and then hiding as events unfolded. The gunshot and the struggle were explained vividly but the words he spoke with Anne were private. If they wanted more they would just need to look in the operating theatre. She was all the goddamn drama in one mangled body. Tintin was asked much, but he could only answer little. The night tiring him intensely.
"And what happened to the man who had attacked Miss Poart?"
"I don't know." Tintin stated. "I knocked him unconscious near the river. The - uhh.."
"Gulliche Hievir." Thomson finished, accenting the foreign words clumsily. "Translated as 'the Golden River'. He wasn't found when we sent the forensic team out."
"But we did find the arms dealer codenamed 'Pincer'. What was left of him, anyway; wild animals found him first." The other brother took out a picture of the deceased man. It was taken by a police camera, he was wearing sunglasses and looking away from the lens but there was no mistake of who it was. Even in Tintin's exhaustion he confirmed his identity with ease.
"So the guy who shot her's still out there?" Tintin asked with an iron tone.
"For now, yes."
"But leads are being followed into his-"
Tintin lost it. "Leads aren't enough!" he yelled. "He's done all this and he walks away. He's got away! Because of me."
He saw everyone stop and stare at him. Tintin was standing, yelling at officers a half an inch taller than he. Everyone saw how estranged he was to this place. Another world where a disinfectant smell that clogged all air, white coats of doctors, green scrubs of surgeons. The Thomson twins were nervous of his temper; it was not normally this short. All the hospital staff and patients went back to their business, the drama fading much slower than the eruption. Tintin sat down slowly, the cold cup still held in one hand. Snowy whimpered a little beneath him, the racket causing him to wake for a moment. Everything around Tintin was heavy and slow. His eyes struggled to stay open.
"Get some sleep." Thomson ordered. The brothers departed together, promising the head sister that they would return with more questions for the patient.
"If she ever wakes…" Tintin muttered, glancing at the long corridor. At the end of it Anne lay somewhere while the bullet was extracted from her body.
He thought of how she stared at him, hoping that he would swoop in and save her like some superhero. The title deeming him some otherworldly prophet that came to save thousands, maybe millions of lives. But he couldn't save the most important one. Tintin felt so alien and ignorant. He wanted to be that superhero once. But he wasn't bulletproof – he was a mere man.
2:30am came before he knew it. And with it came a storm that Tintin couldn't ignore.
Anne's father – Mr Poart entered the ward pointing a cane accusingly at Tintin. The man was elderly and heartbroken but still he was insistent. Tintin expected nothing less – he wanted nothing more than to be judged for the fool he was.
"Where is my daughter?" Mr Poart demanded, voice shaking in worry.
Tintin had no strength for words. He merely indicated the dark hallway – ominous in the early morning light.
"I don't know why you're here." Poart said. "But I don't care – get out of here right now. She doesn't need to see you right now."
"Anne won't be able to – she's still being operated on."
"How dare you speak my daughter's name." the old man stared with malice, Tintin stared at the ground. "You have no right to be here. You're the reason she's here in the first place! You and your god forsaken adventures. No wonder everyone you love is dead-"
"Don't speak like you know me," Tintin did not yell but the tired annoyance and anger in his voice caused the man before him to shirk before the gaze. He did not stand either, just stared at the man before him with the youthful, wise eyes. "I have seen things that would freeze you. I have taken my body to its very limits and beyond to the point of death. I have loved so much and have lost enough for this to become my lowest. I got to know your daughter, it was brief but I know her. I saved her life and I'm not going anywhere until I know if she's alive."
Tintin let the words hang like a noose in the air. Mr Poart stared angrily at this embarrassment, but had no response for the child.
A female voice from behind interrupted. She coughed politely to get their attention before speaking. They turned with hope in their eyes. "Miss Poart is alive." The sister said; Tintin sighed, relieved at this. Her father was still stung from the icy words just spoken to him and did nothing. She continued: "But only just. She's stuck in a coma from the lack of blood in her brain. The surgeons have done their best, but she lost so much blood… it's a miracle that she survived at all."
Tintin's heart sank again. He felt it drop through his chest until it rested in his stomach. He placed the cup near him – attempting to stay composed. He covered his face with his hands, rubbing his eyes of sleep. Anne was alive but in a coma? What sort of life was that to live? All these questions and many more sank through him like rocks through wet sand. He asked only one: "How long will she stay like this?"
"Not long." The sister tried to smile in her words but the men could no longer feel it. "Because there is a little bit of brain damage from so much bleeding we can't say for sure, but hopefully soon."
Mr Poart looked to Tintin. Tears were in his aged eyes, he made no attempt to wipe them away. "This is all your fault."
"She trusted you. She put her life in your hands and you just… let her die like this."
Tintin looked up to the man. "Anne isn't dead, though. There's still hope."
But Mr Poart was too wise to believe in hope. He shook his head. "She is gone. I'll be dead before the month is out, I'll never see my little girl again and it's all your fault." He left without another word on his cane. Tintin felt more guilt and pain go through him.
He had ruined her life, her dying father's life and had saved thousands. He didn't feel good about any of it. Tintin didn't see the need to stay much longer. He rose from the seat, stretching before he took his coat. Snowy yawned and stood ready by his master.
"You shouldn't feel bad, you know." The sister – the woman who had just spoken looked at him sympathetically. He didn't want it or any such feelings from her. "She's alive, but in a coma, that's good isn't it?"
Tintin shook his head. "She can't talk. She doesn't know anything around her. Anne didn't even know her father is dying. Even he considers her dead."
"But she isn't!" the woman cried. "She's in a coma and will come out in time. But she needs her friends to help her. Her father will come back in time but he's heartbroken at the moment, but he will come back. He has to."
Tintin sighed, knowing then that he truly could not stay. "Good night, sister."
Miles away, in a suburb of Manchester, a man was sitting alone in a ragged bar. He was quiet in his drinking, having strong shots of whiskey now and again. The man had lost this time, yes. But he had underestimated the resources Anne had; and George wasn't about to do that again.
Drowning his loss was comforting; after all, Tintin was unlikely to spring any attack anytime soon. He was currently in mourning of the deceased whore; George knew where he had cut her. She would die from the wounds he inflicted, he was certain of this.
But she had died too fast. The little bitch was given a much more quiet death by that annoyance Tintin. It was no matter, though. The boy was foolish enough to reveal weaknesses; very obvious points that could be easily pressured. George smiled at the thought, taking the final swig of the shot glass. Five in all, exactly and without fail: just as perceived at the beginning of the evening.
George promised Tintin's end would be in due time – but he wanted to do some errands first. That would give him time to grieve over the whore. When George was prepared and Tintin was not; then he would strike.
And he would strike the hardest of any other.
Thank you all for reading! That is the last chapter of the Girl and the Golden River - hope you liked it. I am currently working on a sequel - Tintin and the Lie Weaver - if you want more. Look at my profile for updates and review on anything I might of done sloppily. Thank you all again for reading this far and I wish you to be patient for the sequel. AG