BARRETT, McKINLEY NICHOLI, ben cumberbatch - ex hound - CANARY
 Posted: Jan 28 2013, 08:10 PM


german frenchman from england
CO of No. 66 Squadron & REBEL INTEL


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"You may not like me- you sure as hell don't have to look at me. But you do, without the shadow of a doubt need me."

Family. Family… It’s funny, you see, the idea of family. Flesh and blood ’she has your eyes’ or ’He has my nose’. It’s all sentiment- a mental flaw like a haze in one's ability to look at a matter clearly.

They say you’re supposed to hate the people in your family- siblings, mothers, fathers, cousins- that it’s normal. The point being you wouldn’t have any association with them if it wasn’t for the sentiment of ’sharing bloodlines’. It’s such a bias manner; doing something for someone else because they’re family. You’d lend your mother fifty quid long before you’d give a homeless man three.

It’s always been different with Christopher. He’s closer to a brother to me and shared blood has never had any role in that.

Its interesting how much people misinterpret one another- how much they miss and what they assume. Everyone judges a book by its cover. Even the best of people. But Christopher is nothing as he appears. We’ve been together since we were discarded into that Orphanage in Rouen, France, all those years ago. He was quiet- I was alone. And we fit.

The man’s brilliant, really, just a bit… if my opinion still matters, lost. But who am I to say anything of him?

We were right trouble makers as boys. Christopher always had the cleverest ideas… I, nearly always happy to play along. Needless to say we shared punishments often- though I took his half as often as I could being that he was the younger of us both. I could handle more than he.

I remember one time, we’d gotten a bit fed up with a small portioned meals we were given at supper. And of course completely oblivious as children are, we were fairly blind to the lack of wealth in those systems. Christopher came to mind with a plan to distract the lot of cooks busy in the kitchens. Faking a bloody murder cry and clutching a hand over one forearm as though he’d had a slip on the tile.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how quick those women ran. I laugh even now.

While they scattered towards poor Christopher, distracted, I managed to sneak in and nick a few more meat pies and a bit of almost stale bread.

Needless to say we ate well. Never felt the least bit guilty because of how long and hard we laughed about it under our sheet fort.

Years later, and thank whatever invisible force is out there, we were even adopted together… I don’t remember much of the details of that quaint couple who took us in… fore they were gone in a heartbeat, but I do remember how happy Christopher was.

That smile could make up for any wrong he’d ever done.

I don’t remember if they were kind, wealthy, strict on manners… or if they had meant anything to me at all. It all just seems to seep into the images of their bodies being dragged back from that protective, helpless grip had had over Christopher and I as soldiers made ruin of our home.

I abhor thinking that the only memories of that life must all be the things I wish I could dismiss. Though, a lot of the things I have to say are much the same.

We were carried off before we knew it- taken someplace I could only vaguely make out the location of. The irony that we should be so afraid of the place, and yet call it home is something I can’t entirely explain in depth. I think… it grew on us, as people say. It became to only place we knew as anything proper and stable. Like our foster parents had been- it provided us with food and made sure we could count and read by the time we would have been just about Primary school age. So little did we argue.

It was there that they trained us. Took us through hours and days and week and years of caustic, exhausting, brutal disciplines into something else entirely. We’d been raised into this way of life- murder. Thrown onto white canvases as the shapeable children we were and painted into… into… well for lack of a better term, servants.

We were possessions the minute we’d been taken under arms. HOUNDS, they dubbed us. Germany’s one true secret defense. And perhaps we hadn’t know it then, but it would make us the men we are today.

I wish I had been more attentive to Christopher then- I regret saying I hadn’t paid his happiness as much attention as I should have. I was overwhelmed- beaten into HOUND submission just as the rest of them and forced into this life.

A life I have yet to decide my own opinion on. It’s right, isn’t it? I was born a HOUND and will continue as a HOUND. That’s just the way things are for people like us. I would have to learn to accept it one way or another. And maybe I have.


“I have orders to intercept.” The words felt cold. Even now. Two years later when the aftermath had been long and done with.

Well, as done as I was about to admit. Which only really meant putting it back somewhere in my head I wouldn’t be likely to stumble back upon it later. I remember their faces- everyone of them a fresh image in my mind I will not been soon to forget. Young. So horribly young the lot of them. Some confident, others clearly terrified out of their minds. Wide, wide eyes and pale faces. But if I’d let my pity show, they hadn’t caught it.

Commanding Officer Barrett- Squadron Leader of No. 66 and HOUND. Born in Linolnshire, England, raised in Rouen, France, and trained in the organization within Germany. Life was a mess. My mess.

But… That isn’t why I write, no. I have many different reasons for that. But someone once told me it was healthy to write down things that bother you. But whether this is something I’m ready to admit as ‘bothersome’ or not, it’s probably too soon to tell.

We’d waited for calls since Thursday. Didn’t expect them till Monday. But didn’t hesitate when they came on Sunday. It was the sun up high at noon that caught the breath from their lungs. After years of tightly planned night raid, a shot in broad daylight couldn’t have had them more off game. Brennor and I had discussed it over breakfast- as anticipated; he and Anson were equally surprised by the change in tactic.

God, I’d never swallowed my words so painfully before. Just lying to them- pretending to be as naïve as they felt like I was carving those words into my skin with a pocket blade. I’d grown regrettably attached to those men, I grind my teeth as I inform. Too damn sentimental for the very men I was to loath; for British soldiers. But how could I…?

Anson was a father- two daughters who I had seen drawings by and even the occasional creased photo of whenever Milo sat at his bunk lost in thought with them in hand. Christ. He’d fallen asleep more than once and I’d tucked them back into his coat pocket as I’d passed. Every time seemed to splice me open just bit more; just a bit agonizingly more. I didn’t have a family. I had Christopher and even Kragen if she counted as anything over merely a voice for the HOUNDS. She had never been mother hen. Not really.

So what did I have? Nothing, I suppose.

I had Anson and Brennor and the rest of my Squad I hadn’t dared memorized the names of. It would have put too much strain on inefforts to save them. I wasn’t like Anson- I wouldn’t reach for their hands if they begged for help. I wouldn’t worry about their families or seek forgiveness if ever it presented me with the chance. That was not my job.

I had a Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIA waiting just outside our base quarters. My squadron of fifteen sat scattered about the fields at Horchurch base- shuffling cards and laughing quietly together if just to ease the nerves of the others. And it would be wrong to say I didn’t care about a single one of them- even I couldn’t lie convincingly enough to say that I didn’t feel the least but empty knowing the things they did not.

With that call, we were obliged to carry out a German interception to London and I’d already plotted our failure hundreds of times in my head. I should have been prepared to carry it through. All human sentiment aside I should have been ready.

But I’ll tell you once so that you might not ever forget it as I have. It never gets easier- death.

I’d drawn my breath in so tight I could feel it burning in my lungs. Hot hot hot like brand to the flank I remember how long it took to fully comprehend the exactly what level of genocide I was getting ready to commit. An exaggeration, yes, but when you’re responsible for the deaths of close to a million, perhaps not such a dislocated feeling. London bloody London. Time- 13:52. Population- too many. They’d noted early enough that there had been a change in offense from a German armada. An attack near the coast had been reached critical in damage to a British squadron just northeast had been reported late last night- a report Kragen had explained as my ”read, set” signal.

That German squad, previously on Offense, had retreated a few hours prior to the blitz. I’d chatted previously with the General up at No. 54 squadron- but everything he had to say I already had a great deal of knowledge on. I’d been expecting it in great dread.

Germany’s numbers had suffered greatly from attacks in July, but the Royal Air Force was still on its toes. They feared the Germans would finish what they started- easily bringing the RAF to their knees down by the coast. But almost last minute, a retreat spared the last of them.

Not till now did they realize that reason. With the call that morning, alerts of an incoming German squadron entered radar range.

Kragen’s last signal. ”go.”

I lost twelve men that day. Even if they were not my losses to claim, I have yet to shake that responsibility. Not to count what I’d done to the thousands of others killed by the German armada I’d ensured the safe passage of.

I’d cheated that day, as well. Perhaps the only thing I had done that could be considered even relatively right that day. One fallback message to both Brennor and Anson had spared them moments of attack. I’d gone against my division for the sake of an arrogant bastard with two left feet and impulsive habits. And for the family of the man who continually inserted his authority where it was not needed/ Over me. But most importantly, I’d done it for the very men who I’d come to need in my Squad more than I did the will to command my own fleeting emotions.

I’m a HOUND. I know my place and I know my rights as a German spy. Why should it matter that I’ve done the duties assigned? It’s a hollow bite just beneath my rips- an icy, bitter sting like an electrical charge. And it leaves me wondering just how much I can take of it. Does that make me weak? To stand and say that I’m falling apart from the inside- from somewhere that never shows on my face or my posture or my hands as I hold them steady at my wine glass. Who is anyone to say that I am not entitled to that peace of mind I have been looking for long since?

I left.

I hadn’t entirely left, no. But I took my leave with the notice that I could in fact be called back by post letter if my assistance was needed. Though- I trusted Brennor with my Squad as long as he had Anson alongside him. It made my escape much easier. I did trust them. With every fiber of my being I trust them still. And no one has to know that.


It’s been awhile.

Nearly two years since my proposition down at Clara’s Pub ( 1941 ) had started this whole thing- whatever you want to classify this ‘thing’ as. I’m still uncertain if I want to give it the satisfaction of a name, if acknowledge its presence at all. But maybe I’m just afraid. That’s a first, eh?

Nicholi M. Barrett- Captain of No. 66 Squadron and head of a majority of London’s Aerial defence- taken down by something as petty as emotions, and one small incident.

Incident? Is that what I’m calling it now? I’m not very sure of anything much at the moment. ( though am I ever? ) You’d have laughed at that once.

If there’s one thing I do know for sure, it’s that this entry in particular isn’t at all about me, but you.

The rations we’ve been given are frighteningly low for how early in the month it is, but the crate by the door still holds what bit of hard bread and cider I was able to haggle down closer to Donovan's. The kid vending goods is a kind young thing. I can always tell his good days apart from his bad. But he smiled this time, and for a moment things didn’t feel so bad around here.

I should take you out into town sometime- Farther down into those streets we've been ignoring for a long time. I think you’d like him.

Just this once, we’d let ourselves enjoy things. Only last night- I remember you gabbing on about how long it had been raining for. The streets wreaked of the filth and debris the war had left us, and you made some smart joke about how easy it would be to just leave. Though we both know its not that simple. At least I do- and it keeps me from dreading the day you actually do.

Politely, you hadn’t asked, but I could see the way your eyes shifted around through the darkness of our three candles to where our last meal sat. I wasn’t hungry. You were obvious.

I believe it was the gentle rasping of rain against the drafty windows that kept the atmosphere of the room so at ease between us. It wasn’t hard to see how hard things had been on you these last few weeks. Everything seemed so much closer than it had before- the war, that is.

All you had to do was scan over the paper and read into all those subtextual innuendos the press was too afraid to state outright, and you’d know things weren’t looking as peachy as the government painted it.

You worry a lot, I've noticed.

So we drank that night- pushed aside the water and I’d filled each of us a fair amount of Cranberry Cider.

I almost laughed at how wide your eyes were. But you smiled nonetheless and it made me feel just a bit less alone- being alone together. Words came easily that evening. Small chat just to fill the space and maybe drown out the sound of sloshing cars and the occasional echo of planes somewhere miles away. We often pretended like this, I’m not sure if you’d remember.

- Treated Cider like wine and water like gold. Living as aristocrats in our own little poverty. Smiled like we could ring a small bell and our stomachs would cease their tired growls. And if you repeat something enough times, you begin to believe the lie beneath it.

I had to ignore your constant protest when I gave you my share of bread. I knew you hadn’t eaten since Wednesday, and last night was a Saturday.

Luckily, though, you’d settled on my excuse of a case of nausea, and tried your best to hide how little you chewed before you were swallowing each bite down gratefully. It made me feel better than a full stomach would have.

Even though I don’t think you ever really believed that like I did.

Christ. I don’t know how, or why it had happened the way it did- any of it. It might have been the way your eyes had refused to leave mine, still a caution of worry that I still may have been lying to you about eating. Or the way your lips stained that rich, scarlet colour to match the drink you touched against them.

No matter the motive, I should have been more careful. Even though you hardly seemed to mind.

We sat together for a long time in that tiny sitting room. Sipping from our cups and talking quietly together about positively nothing. You’d slipped your feet beneath my thigh, laying back against the arm of the sofa. Cold feet.

But I never seemed to mind. I should have. Could have stopped any of this from becoming what it has now. I wouldn’t need to write now.

The only thing I can recall you saying, was how you weren't convinced anything they said about the wars progression- how it would never end and we’d all be caught under rubble before anyone ever gave up.

I find myself repeating that a lot in my head now.

In spite of everything we were both convinced of, I countered that as best I could- I made you believe in optimism and told you things were getting better. I lied to you because I felt it might ease you somehow. You’d have to learn to forgive.

It was quite a long time after that before eventually we’d downed our glasses and you wouldn’t let me refill them with what remained in the bottle.

Your eyes were heavy as midnight pushed on, and between the brink of slumber and consciousness, I felt you slide over in against me. Bringing a hand to my cheek, it took a lot not to coil back from you- afraid reflex would shy you away from me if I didn’t give in at least a little.

And if anything had been so clear that night, it was what you were whispering before your face was twisting back and your lips were pursed to deduct a logical explanation for what you were obviously fighting to do.

You gave in when I didn’t move away from you. Placed that methodical kiss upon my thin lips and tilted your face just enough that we fit almost perfectly together.

“I know none of it was your fault. You’re not a bad man, Nicholi.”

Four months since I’d let you down. Four months just to hear those words- that I hadn’t ruined you.

The the feeling of your mouth against mine remained there long after you’d left.


They say you don’t come to appreciate things you have until they’re not around anymore. But naturally, being a man of few possessions, I certainly had never drawn attention to the idea. It was never proven relevant to my situation, and alas I am also not a man of silly limericks and poetry.

But I shouldn’t call any of it a mistake.

It is still stranger a feeling than most, because never before have I entertained the idea of possessions ( Though, nor had the thought ever left me empty without the knowledge of its abilities over my control ) Not once did I ever wonder what it would feel like to be sentimental.

But, in mistake, I hadn’t anticipated you. Maybe the rest of words wouldn’t be so far off. Perhaps it hadn’t soaked in the first day— I can’t even recall if I’d cried for you. But I do remember what it feels like to lie awake, unable to hear the gentle, calculated rasp of your breath somewhere against my skin— the night’s darkness leaves me dislocated from my senses, and I can no longer rely on the hiss of your tiny, nightmarish pants somewhere beside me.

I remember the small jump my heart gave as I’d reached out beside me to grasp nothing but cool air where I remembered your body once being.

–The sheets still smoothed over, rippling softly against my palm where my fingers grip their surface.

But I hadn’t cried.

The evening comes whether you are here or not. A piano is being played somewhere across the hall, but I’m knee deep in too many things to be comforted by it. You should be here. Here shouting at me to get something done instead of sitting on the sofa staring at the tapestry of our pasty curtains- Or just telling me how the hell I’m suppose to feel now. I’d might as well be drowning.

But is that too dramatic? Am I cliché? As though the feeling itself could come off any different.

As I’d claimed before, it’s not a familiar one.

Nothing matters for the most part. Not for the moment—I’m a mess of fleeting feelings all swelling the cavity of my chest I don’t normally pay any mind. But am I angry? Furious enough to shout your name hoarsely from this dry throat? I’m rather daft to think any of it is your fault, but I’m not ready to admit it’s mine.

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