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 THAT FRAGILE CAPRICORN, MUR & CHRISTOPHER
NICHOLI BARRETT
 Posted: May 29 2012, 03:22 AM


WRITTEN BY
CANARY

N/A
35 YEARS OLD
german frenchman from england
CO of No. 66 Squadron & REBEL INTEL
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TAG: jade
WORDS: 932
OUTFIT: click here
Time and again boys are raised to be men: impatient they start, fearful at end. But here was a man mourning tomorrow. He drank, but finally drown in his sorrow. He could not brace up his tension. He looked in the wrong place for redemption. Don't look at me with those eyes; i tried to unheave the ties: turn back the time that drew him. But he couldn't be saved: a sadness runs through him, through him.
Ogod this is going to be feels central. Bail while you can.
( nic just barely 20 — chis 17 almost eighteen )
NOVEMBER, 1929.

Rules- the fine text in the document and the subtext in orders. Every fine line and tight leash Nicholi Barrett had been gnawing at for years. He was not a pet- not a possession. And not a man who could not be held back by words.

A portion of road into Berlin had been closed the morning Nic returned. Detours making an excruciatingly long ride even longer- as though he'd needed the time to think. He'd had six weeks to himself to think. Six weeks on another assignment solely his own- but not his first. At eighteen, he'd been assigned a simple stakeout just outside of Berlin. Two more at nineteen, and one since he'd been due to be twenty. That had been yesterday.

Early day, November 25th, 1929. The sky sat dark where the sun had not yet risen. Dull green eyes watching the drops chase each other down the cab windows like perfect glass beads- shop lights and signs caught brilliantly within them. Tiny tiny jewels- brighter than the filthy life outside them. That man was controlled- Easy sighs and languid, controlled breaths all from the same lungs that had, only hours before, been dragging in pants over a P38 Walther and the body at his feet. But it was done. Excitement again starting a mindless drum of his fingers against a knee and a hand to clutch at the bag strap over his shoulder.

And why shouldn’t he be excited? Coming back- coming home- that restless, hurried pace only matched by an eager child at Christmas the minute he arrived. Mouth dry where he hadn't been drinking- ribs prominent beneath that dark jumper where food had been deemed distraction rather than necessity. But he was home, and that lay the only track his mind raced down. He manoeuvred effortlessly through the halls as he had done thousands of times before- knowing every crack and boot scuff on white tile better than anywhere else. Being back where he had been for nearly ten years ( and would be for awhile yet ) He made quick work of finding the door number too his and Christopher’s room, capricious and restless from travel. He’d be there, wouldn’t he? Right where he'd left him that very last morning. Lingering memories of quick, chaste fingers carding gently through that sleeping boy's hair - gone before dawn when he would wake for training.

It had been awhile- longer than the young Barrett had ever taken to be away. He’d been happy to leave—thrilled by the proposition of a man hunt through Vladivostok. In after a minor in the German government- suspected of selling German information to Britain. Retreated to Russia where he were Nicholi had been sent to monitor, assess, and detain. But death, he’d found in the end, was a far more permanent solution.

Bring him back for questioning. And that means Alive, Barrett.” Had been his direct orders ( at the end of an unnecessarily long speech regarding location details and instructions he hadn't hardly listened to ) Arrogance was not a feat he had been paying too much mind to. He’d been scolded, in the end, but as a new HOUND Nicholi was sure the job had not been given with the thought that this man- this Jerson Baum- was not a prime concern. Minor, as had been said. More a test than a job. But nonetheless, completion had left the barely adult bright with pride. Rules hadn't ever been his area.

The door pushed open with a hollow click- louder than he had been anticipating but controlled nonetheless. Because despite his estimated time of arrival, Nicholi was, in fact, trying his hand at slipping in unannounced. How often did he get to sneak in on his little brother with the chance of surprise? Not often, given, that the older Barrett was often more the type to bust into a quiet room all groans or laughter or obnoxiously endless chatter that could drive a man dead with annoyance.

He had certainly tried, on many more occasions than he could possibly count, to sneak up on the boy all for the sake of getting a laugh- but damn- little ever got passed Christopher. Little. He was small and quick- attentive to everything around him every moment of the day. And it took real work to slip under that radar. But, of course, no matter how many failed attempts outweighing the successful, Nocholi never did give up. That long, lanky body moved in soundlessly- peeking around corners and through doorways till he met the bedroom where finally, Christopher appeared. Moving inside on light steps, Nic had to side step a few tall stacks of heavy books scattered sporadically about the room. Studying? Likely. Extra research no doubt. Christopher always had been a better student to the HOUNDS than he. It didn't satisfy his mind like it did Chris- this 'greater purpose' gig... and it most certainly didn't keep him out of the trouble it did for his brother, either.

Whether he had been seen by now or not, Nicholi moved in behind the smaller boy and wrapped his arms around his neck loosely. Chin coming to rest lazily atop a shoulder so that their cheeks brushed together, pulling Christopher back against him whether he approved of it or not. "Que faites-vous?" he asked curiously. A fractional smile crept across his lips, voice softer than its usual baritone growl. "Allez-vous pour me souhaiter un joyeux anniversaire?" there was a pout behind that, their first language fitting comfortably on his tongue- more so than the German they continually encouraged to keep up on. He kicked at the bag previously dropped. “Bought a few cakes on my way in, if you were interested.” He wiggled his brows playfully, speaking close to Christopher's ear "avez-vous me manquer?" the edges of his voice softened, arms giving the boy another firm, affectionate squeeze before releasing him to move away.

Nic fell back onto Christopher's bed ( having entirely ignored his own ) to stretch out across it. “Mmmph… Chris-“ That tired voice groaned, turning himself to face the wall, laying back and propping his feet up against it so that his head hung off the edge, upside down. “Frère... Mon frère merveilleux..” the older Barrett chimed in a sing-songy, lingering voice. Somewhere halfway between real need and inclusive boredom. “Pourriez-vous faire du thé?”

impatient they start, fearful at end

^
CHRISTOPHER BARRETT
 Posted: Jun 3 2012, 02:41 AM


WRITTEN BY
MUR

N/A
30 YEARS OLD
german frenchman
hound spy
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No, no, that couldn’t be right. The estimation was entirely wrong - he’d fired that gun before, for God’s sake. It didn’t have enough power behind it to shoot that far - and even if it did, the aim would be off by feet, not inches. It wouldn’t reach. Yet they’d sent it off on the training mission, just because the man who suggested it was older. Wiser, by the amount of gray hairs on his head, but far emptier in the brain, where it actually mattered. But why trust the opinion of a seventeen year old with a perfect record on his belt - or a nearly perfect record, if it hadn’t been for Nicholi.

  Six weeks.

  Was that really how long it had been since he went to bed with his brother resting in the bed opposite of him, and he woke the next morning to a quiet, empty room? He had known Nicholi would be leaving; they were both proud of that fact, and it wasn’t at all something to take lightly. But to say that even someone such as himself was not expecting a goodbye from his constant? Well, that was an idea best left to the imagination, and to judgment alone. Emotions were no strength, especially to the younger Barrett. But the bitterness he had harvested for weeks afterwards was enough for anyone to come to a steadfast conclusion about. A conclusion that explained the two new holes in the northern wall of the Barrett’s barracks the height of Christopher’s strong and brutal fists. He hadn’t bothered telling anyone to fix them. They wouldn’t care. The same way that they didn’t care about his opinions on the rifle – even if he was right. Any child could have come to the same conclusion, a decision, and a statement which got him knocked off of the training roster for the day, and had him reading books and mission files that he ‘borrowed’ from the control center.

  It may have been early morning yet, but he had been awake for hours. He was always awake, some even claimed that he never did. But of course that wasn’t true. If he hadn’t slept he would have gotten a goodbye from Nicholi, and he hadn’t, so there was no use being bitter about it, was there? There wasn’t anything he could do to change it. Not like today. As a matter of fact, he hadn’t slept since yesterday. After a ‘disagreement’ with his ‘team leader’ he hadn’t thought much about sleeping, because it wouldn’t make him feel any better. Not when revenge was on his mind. Sweet, beautiful revenge. Revenge was just as easy as setting off Chinese firecrackers in said ‘team leader’s room, which resulted in the new, but small burn on Christopher’s left forearm.

  But he deserved it.

  Even after his punishment, he wasn’t going to change his opinion.

   Eberhardt was an idiot. A complete, and utter fool. The look on his face when the sheets lit up in flames – that was what revenge was for. That was what made everything worth it. But the punishment was a hard blow to bare, still consumed and hidden in his brother’s greatness.

  “Before we acquire great power we must acquire great wisdom to use it well.” Christopher quoted back to himself to break the complete silence that devoured him every moment, every day since Nicholi’s leaving. He tossed the book he had been reading into Nicholi’s empty bed, hardly touched since he had left. He stared at the book, his eyes narrow, sharp, cold, empty as he glared, before quickly snatching up a small pile of papers that had been sitting on the floor.   It wasn’t fair He’d been in training just as long as Nicholi, and he’d yet a chance to really, truly, show his talents in the field. Not like Nicholi. Not like anyone. He was just as good as his brother – no, he was far better, and not one pathetic soul here damned to burn hell cared about it. Nicholi was older, and he cold, despite his inefficiencies, get the job done well enough. But he was still second best; he would always be second best when compared, logically, to his brother. Nicholi was the best in the world, save his little brother. But there was no room for sentimentality on the battlefield, even on one as mentally reclusive and scientific as Christopher’s. Nicholi wasn’t the one that should have been gone for six weeks. It was him. Him. And him alone. And maybe that alone was the reason he had been so bitter after Nicholi’s leaving. Not because he missed his brother, not because he never got to say goodbye, but because it should have been him leaving Nicholi behind, not the way that it was now.

  There had been plenty of people wandering around outside the door to the room for several hours now – people, HOUND’s, ready to do what needed to be done, and whatever was asked of them, whether it meant agreeing to death or not. But none of them had stopped at Christopher’s door to so much as even knock, or slip a notice beneath the door. They all just kept on moving past, well on their way somewhere. All but one.

  He wasn’t due back just yet, was he? Was he?

  Maybe the six weeks had been more productive than he thought – which was possible, but…not probable, not with Nicholi’s behavior. That son of a…Well, he could say it, couldn’t he? It’s not like they were blood related, they didn’t share a mother. Just a life.

  He was half-way through deciding whether or not he should allow Nic to believe that he had the upper hand in the situation, the element of surprise, or if he should call him out – especially considering the way he had left – when he felt his brother swarm arms wrap around his shoulders, catching him just a bit off guard. He moved faster than he remembered. But he was as still as an owl, not making a sound, nor a single movement, finishing off the last paragraph he had been reading, hearing his brothers whispers, but without so much as a reaction.

  “Essayer de décider si je devrais vous tuer.” He muttered, folding the paper in half to seal it, hiding it from his brothers eyes, letting it dangle limply at his side while he waited for Nicholi to release him. “Et la lecture.” He added, his voice stiff, though his motionlessness showed that, despite his harsh comments, he was glad, in whatever way he was capable of feeling, that his brother was back. It was good to hear his voice. In French, nonetheless, just like it used to be. He would have scolded him on his use of language – German was proper tongue here, and perhaps, in his six weeks away, he had forgotten the rules. But that wasn’t quite like Nicholi. But now was not the time to scold him. Not after so long, and definitely not on a day like today.

“Je n'ai jamais aimé les anniversaires.” Christopher frowned, pursing his lips together gently. It would be Nicholi’s day today. Out of all days, it would be today. “J'ai eu un cadeau pour toi.” He said stiffly. A compass, it was. Bright, shiny, and new - and extremely accurate and useful. “Mais je l'ai enterré dans la pelouse. Si vous pouvez le trouver, c'est le vôtre. Je voulais le donner à vous semaines il ya,” He paused, scowling. Six weeks ago, to be exact. “J'ai pensé que vous pourriez l'avoir voulu il avant votre départs, mais je me trompais.” He said, perhaps a bit too harshly for even Nicholi. But why couldn’t he be upset? Nicholi had gone on a mission - a good one, perhaps small, but alone. Shouldn’t that have been celebrated just as a birthday?

He didn’t care to move from his spot once Nicholi left him to lay upon his bed, and for once he didn’t shout in protest when Nicholi chose Christopher’s bed over his own. But he wasn’t going to be kind, either. He’d been kind enough already. “Je peux faire du thé, mais je ne vais pas en profiter - et vous ne le serez.” He stated with a devious smirk and a small sparkle in his eye, a sparkle that to most would have read as mischief, but to Christopher meant just one thing. Nicholi was back where he belonged. And if he had happiness within him, any at all, it showed in that single glint in his eyes.

“Vous avez survécu à six semaines sur votre propre. Je pense que vous pouvez faire votre propre thé.”

TAG: NICHOLI BARRETT | WORDS: 1,499 | CREDIT: MERCY OF CAUTION!
^
NICHOLI BARRETT
 Posted: Jun 5 2012, 01:29 AM


WRITTEN BY
CANARY

N/A
35 YEARS OLD
german frenchman from england
CO of No. 66 Squadron & REBEL INTEL
APPLICATION
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175
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TAG: jade
WORDS: 932
OUTFIT: click here
Time and again boys are raised to be men: impatient they start, fearful at end. But here was a man mourning tomorrow. He drank, but finally drown in his sorrow. He could not brace up his tension. He looked in the wrong place for redemption. Don't look at me with those eyes; i tried to unheave the ties: turn back the time that drew him. But he couldn't be saved: a sadness runs through him, through him.
Ogod this is going to be feels central. Bail while you can.
( nic just barely 20 — chis 17 almost eighteen )
NOVEMBER, 1929.

God blind me. He hurt. Like a sudden wakening, the minute his muscles began adjusting to the drastic change from bone cold to the comfortable warmth that met him inside. He could feel every joint as white hot pain- crouching too long in watch- sitting too long in the same position with that pistol raised just at eye level for aim; unmoving for hours as his target remained oblivious. If it had been his choice, he’d have gone straight to bed.

Work done. Accomplished. Fin. Fait. And he deserved a rest now, didn’t he? A nice long lie in without the constant nag and heart face of instinct telling him to be on alert. He never slept when he was on an assignment—only kips here and there for only a few hours at a time when he could no longer keep himself focused.

The older Barrett held in the urge to yawn, making his enterence as quiet as HOUNDly possible ( save that Nicholi had never been a very good HOUND. Hell. He couldn’t even do his homework on time ) which... appeared to work as far as being called out from his quiet place went. By the time he’d gotten all the way and managed to place himself right behind the younger boy, a bubble of pride was creeping up from his stomach. Chris didn’t jump- but there was a spike of energy in that touch- a subconscious prick that perhaps anyone other than Nic might not have picked up on. But it was there- and Nicholi had caused it- and there wasn’t much else that could make him feel better than it did knowing so.

“Essayer de décider si je devrais vous tuer.” That made him smile, then. A quick, deliberate action that cued eyes to wander over the book in his hands as well as the paper. That was as typical a greeting as Nicholi could have hoped for. Shoulders relaxed just enough to allow his ahcing body the relief it so desperately needed. “Et la lecture.” the latter was an afterthought. Nicholi hummed at that, pulling his head away just long enough to set a well placed—and quite sharp—bite atop that shoulder where the collar of his shirt exposed a stretch of sallow skin. “Hmm,” he rumbled thoughtfully, placing his chin back atop it. “you really should go outside more— You’re starting to get very pale.” but whether he was genuinely concerned or looking for the excuse to even his brother’s threat, his flat, matter-of-factly voice gave no evidence to either.

Sharp green eyes dropped again to the note as it was folded away. Curious, Nicholi caught Christopher’s wrist just as it was tucking aside the folded piece of paper. Lifting it up in quiet question, but not taking it for himself. He turned Christopher’s wrist over once or twice to examine the paper, noticing, then, the burn just down his forearm- hand sliding delicately down to brush a thumb over it observantly. “Oh? Qu'avez-vous été à la hauteur, petit frère...” Not large but definitely not tiny enough to be an accident. Who was the unlucky antagonist this time? “You were supposed to stay out of trouble while I was gone.” and he shouldn’t have been speaking English, either. But being a primary language of study ( given their design ) Nicholi was sure Christopher wouldn’t argue the extra practice.

Trained eyes watched that mark for a long time, considering biting this as well out of frustration ( and perhaps to test the his curiosities of how much it still might hurt ) but other than the firm grip he had to the wrist, his fingers remained gentle until at length he let the wrist drop.

“Je n'ai jamais aimé les anniversaires.” Neither of them ever really had. Nor had they ever celebrated a real one; If Nicholi hadn’t managed to snag their forms in the years they’d been in that little orphanage, they might not ever have known the exact dates. It was all so sentimental- the whole thing to do with honouring birthdays. But Nicholi’s spirit on the matter was more towards making Christopher uncomfortable—or just otherwise annoyed with the fact that he still remembered those sorts of things; the things Christopher spent so much time, it seemed to Nicholi, trying to leave behind him. And perhaps he should have followed the example- pushing away all those things that made them human. Because that wasn’t ethical for their line of work, was it? Their sole purpose and design. It didn’t matter to a HOUND.

Christopher was speaking again, and as that boy tended to do, he had all of Nicholi’s attention. “J'ai eu un cadeau pour toi.” both brows shot up at once. But he wasn’t too convinced he actually had. It was likely to be one of those last minute paperclip necklaces or something like a punch to the gut he wouldn’t likely forget till he was through being sick from it. ( or on one occasion a very cold shower. But that had been a congratulations present ) “Mais je l'ai enterré dans la pelouse. Si vous pouvez le trouver, c'est le vôtre. Je voulais le donner à vous semaines il ya,” He would, wouldn’t he? That bastard. Nic wasn’t quite sure he believed him, but on the other side, it didn’t surprise him one bit. The older Barrett rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to flick Christopher’s nose like a disobedient pup. “vous auriez pu choisir quelque chose de plus difficile. Et moins .... sale.”

Which, of everything given, the game was probably Nicholi’s favourite part. Mental stimulation- the kind he couldn’t seem to find in their studies and training. Sure, it was unarguably useful- and he acquired and stored each lesson as it was taught. But it wasn’t the same- it wasn’t what he needed. The mystery and the challenge because everything here came so natural. Since they were just boys- it wasn’t a game anymore. It didn’t intrigue him anymore. “J'ai pensé que vous pourriez l'avoir voulu il avant votre départs, mais je me trompais.” Now that, shocked him. For the first time, the look that crossed his face was genuine surprise. He had remembered? Christopher had? But only his. That was it- just his. Had he known sooner... he might not have left like he had. But the Barretts weren’t good at that sort of thing, were they? Hellos and goodbyes- the sort of things that were supposed to mean something. It was all emotions and attachments and that became far too messy. ( but one could only stop themselves from feeling for so long ) “Quand je apprendre à lire dans les pensées, je vais attendre que les choses plus tôt- Tu ne vas pas à me donner un indice?” he wasn’t annoyed as much as he was... intrigued. If Christopher was going to play games looking for reactions, Nicholi was going to do his best not to provide them.

“I’ve skipped reporting straight in, and they’ll know I haven’t before too long. I’ve got-“ he checked his watch. “-trois heures et quarante deux minutes- before they realise something’s wrong.” he understood he’d have to face castigation sooner or later. But it could wait. He hadn’t been home in over a month, and that had most certainly done something for his head. What more was a bit of tardiness going to hurt?

Nicholi retreated to Chris’s bed and peered back at him from his odd angle upside down “Je peux faire du thé, mais je ne vais pas en profiter - et vous ne le serez.”. Nic made a face, imagining only all the horrors Christopher could possibly get up to with something even as simple as a cup of tea. That look- the one they’d shared the mischief they’d shared equally between them so many times. He couldn’t possibly help but grin back. A growl just at the tip of his tongue. “Vous avez survécu à six semaines sur votre propre. Je pense que vous pouvez faire votre propre thé.”

Nicholi rolled his eyes, letting out a flat, sardonic sigh. “Hm. You make a shit cup of tea anyways.” he’d make some later. Just before he’d have to leave to report in to their superiors. Just for another excuse to be later than was necessary. But there was something else on his mind for now... something nagging at his stomach- pinching and turning uncomfortably until he couldn’t keep it down any longer. Those pale eyes sought Christopher out again and studied ever fine detail of his face. He was nearly eighteen. January wasn’t far off... was it? He’d get his chance just as Nicholi had at his year. Nic swallowed, watching him intently until finally the will to speak came. But his voice cracked and he winced, taking another breath.

“It’s your turn next, you know.” He hummed pleasantly, sliding down from the bed with a solid thump. Dragging Christopher’s pillow with him. He rolled the thought around in his head. Toying with it—breaking it in and tasting it on his own tongue. Considering it and exploring every angle of it. “You’ll be eighteen next January, Christopher.” he paused to let that devious grin twitch just out of reach at the corners on his lips. Energy bubbling across his skin with every word.

Large, nimble hands took the book from Chris and set it aside, replacing it with the pillow he placed in the boy’s lap and settling himself down lazily ( and probably quite roughly ) to lay his head upon it, staring up at him with little more than an emptiness they had practiced many times before. “You’ll have an assignment of your own. A real one.” This, whether it was his place or not, excited him. Not in a giddy happy manner it might have someone lesser, but with a feeling he couldn’t place as anything other than pride. He wasn’t blind. Ignorant, bratty and the world’s most pompous asshole at the absolute worst of times. Of course. But he couldn’t get away with saying he didn’t care. He knew Chris often became jealous- didn’t understand why he was never given the same opportunities. But it was close now... and soon Nicholi would be doing his own time waiting. And no matter how much faith he had in his little brother’s capabilities, somehow it still didn’t cease to scare him any less.

He picked up that same wrist from before and examined it closer, bringing it over his face and running his fingers over where a small scar was sure to show through. “Vous allez me quitter, trop.”

impatient they start, fearful at end

^
CHRISTOPHER BARRETT
 Posted: Jun 7 2012, 01:10 AM


WRITTEN BY
MUR

N/A
30 YEARS OLD
german frenchman
hound spy
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It had been so long since he had company in the room that he wasn't entirely sure how to react to Nicholi being home. The silence of his own, chosen solitary confinement over the past six weeks had been his only companion - his guardian, his protector, his friend. He didn't trust anyone, not with Nicholi gone. Not a soul, living or dead, everyone was his enemy. He couldn't rest with Nicholi gone, he couldn't breathe, couldn't sleep. It wasn't as though he did those things anyways, any man alive could attest to the fact that Christopher had been born with half a heart, and that half was filled with pain and madness. But what if something happened to him? The thought of it crossed his mind every day. But then again he knew better than that. He always corrected himself. Corrected his fears. Kept them in check and hid them away. A man of power could feel no fear. Nicholi might be a bit daft, but by God, he did know what he was doing most of the time. Nicholi was selfish and determined enough, he could keep himself alive on anything. But that hadn't made waiting any easier. The psat six weeks had been the loneliest of his life, if he were ever to admit to feeling, of course. While living without interuptions had been nice, freelancing all of the time, with no consequences, no ingenuine remarks from his brother, and no one standing in the way of his motivations, he had missed the little things. The things that got him through every day just by being constant. Like the sound of Nicholi snoring when he woke up, or the way he'd roll his eyes at a silly suggestion or snarky comment, or chuckle when Chris started talking to himself too much, or the way that he called him small when all he wanted to be was big. It was things like those that kep tthe world turning for him, that assured him, even on a bad day filled with disappointment and anger that the things he felt now would pass, and fade into memories, just like everything else they'd ever been through together.

There would be a certain comfort that came with having Nicholi back in his life, for however briefly he might stay. Not a comfort that amde him smile and giggle. No, that was a comfort that Chris had abandoned long ago, and cared not to return to. But it was as though, when NIcholi was gone, he had been wandering around a beach of chaos, causing as much self-harm and distruction as he could, tearing up things here and there, building sandcastles where they didn't belong, and letting himself be dragged into the mad ocean where he would surely drown on his own. But then Nicholi came, and drew a line in the sand, a line that kept him from doing anything stupid and dangerous. Kept him from going overboard into that sea. Kept him from destroying himself, and everyone else around him. In a way, Nicholi helped to keep the world safe just by being home. Without him, Chris' entire being fell into madness and jealousy, so deep, and so far, that there was no way he could come out alone.

A frown crossed his youthful face as he felt Nicholi's teeth pressing against his skin - not from a twinge of pain, but from annoyance. A small feeling of being bothered. It wasn't as though he was unused to his brothers little gestures, he had lived them his entire life thus far, they were not forgien things - tricks and tease and lies, flicks of the nose and pats of the head. But biting had always been met with a special feeling of distain.

"Vous êtes comme un chien, mon frère." He muttered with a quick smirk and a side-eyed glance at his brother, tilting his head sideways just a bit to try and see his face for the first time in more than a month. "Une chienne qui ne s'arrêtera pas mordre." He turned away with his comment, snickering quietly to himself, his teeth just barely showing beneath his parted lips, the corners quirked upwards in a sinister delight. But his gaze, however, fell to the mountain of books he had collected since Nicholi's leaving - many of which had taken the place of Nicholi's own possessions that Christopher had carelessly thrown out for him. He probably wouldn't be too happy about that, he supposed. Nicholi did love everything that he owned, to at least some extent. He even loved Christopher somehow, he was sure, in his own small way.

It was here that Nicholi began toying with his wrist, turning it, examining it. He knew what he was looking for, or rather, at, but he didn't mind, really. He didn't make protest or utter a word as Nic looked him over. He didn't even bat an eyelash as he touched the fresh wound, despite it's simple, but pongiant sting. “Oh? Qu'avez-vous été à la hauteur, petit frère...” He heard Nicholi mutter, but still he said nothing. “You were supposed to stay out of trouble while I was gone.” He frowned at this, but other than the small way that his face fell, he still did not speak. He would critisize him. First day back and he was already being scolded. He didn't know what had made him do the things for which he had already been punished. He didn't know the jealousy he felt, the anger, the pride, the dominance ripped away from him. He didn't understand. But that was the thing about Nicholi, wasn't it? He rarely understood.

"I did." He answered plainly, tugging his wrist away and out of Nicholi's grasp before he could let it go himself, placing his own hand delicately over the wound, looking down at it with a scowl. He let the paper drop to the floor, not caring for cleanliness or thinking that perhaps the paper might get destroyed now that Nicholi had returned. "C'est arrivé ce matin, et il ne vous regarde pas." He muttered, looking as far away from his brother as he could manage to get away with.

He wondered if he should tell him. It wasn't something that he was proud of, getting kicked off of the training roster for today, but it's not like he could hide it, either. Why should he be proud? Sure, he may have gotten revenge, because that bastard sure as hell deserved it, but the punishment was a bit harder to fess up to. Nicholi was always the one that got in trouble, not him. He'd always taken the blame, and as much as Christopher liked being credited with something for once in his life, but missing his training...that was something that hurt his ego, if nothing else. He never missed his training. He was always there, the best student out of everyone, and now he was going to miss something probably important just so he could play his tricks. He was ashamed of it, really. Nicholi would hear about it soon enough, people were sure to rub it in to his face. Christopher Barrett, the first time failure. Damn it all. You couldn't do a thing you wanted to in this world wtihout getting in trouble.

Time had passed between them in silence, he knew that - Nicholi wasn't quiet nearly often enough in his oppinion, so to hear an absence of words from his brother, he knew that he must have been thinking as well. About something. Something he had said, most likely. About the present, perhaps? The gift that he'd burried in the yard, just so Nicholi couldn't have it, because he was upset. It wasn't like he couldn't remember where he burried it - right outside, under the pine with the two bullet holes at the bottom, and the broken branch on the left. But the idea that he actually got NIcholi a gift at all probably surprised him. That wasn't the sort of thing they usually did. Hell, Christopher had practically requested they stop remembering any sort of holiday at all, not even Christmas, when the entire world was singing in delight. But this had been different...His brother was doing something special, something amazing with his life. All of the training, all of the pain they'd endured together, all the promises they'd made had accumilated in that one moment; Nicholi was going on a mission, a very important mission, and he'd wanted to reward him for it. Sure, Nicholi hadn't worked half as hard as he had, but who did? There was a reason Christopher was going to be the best HOUND the world had ever seen. But Nicholi...He was special, too. In his own way. Even if Christopher didn't want to admit to seeing it, he did. Nicholi was a good soldier, and a good brother. He deserved something nice for once in his life, and the compass he bought was supposed to be that thing, that one thing. Only, it wasn't. Because he'd gotten hurt, and he didn't think that Nicholi deserved it as much as he did before.

“vous auriez pu choisir quelque chose de plus difficile. Et moins .... sale.” He smiled at that, if only for less than a second. After his mission, he should have been used to getting dirty. That was the purpose, wasn't it? Getting your hands as dirty as possible, then returning home to wash away all of your sins, to cleanse yourself of whatever you had just done. But of course, the goal was to rid yourself of a guilty conscience entirely. To rid yourself of every feeling, every emotion, to become a robot, a man of science, of purpose, of logic and skill. To turn away from things, and think only of yourself. That's what he had done, or tried to do. Clearly Nicholi was a testemant to the fact that it wasn't entirely possible to rid yourself of emotion completely. Even if you wanted to.

"Vous êtes un homme intelligent, Nicholi. Figure it out yourself." He answered his brother with a shrug, his eyes shifting to the gentler man at his side. HOUND or not, they would always be brothers. Nothing in the world was more obvious than that. While a fellow hand would stab you in the back, steal your money, and take every bribe that he could to get back at the man he was bunking with, Christopher was nothing but good to Nicholi. Or at least as good as any man in his possition could be. No matter how many times they insulted one another, or disagreed, there was a line drawn in the sand, by Nicholi himself, if not by whatever Christopher might have left of a conscience, but neither would cross that line. Dance at the edge as they might, they both knew when to call it quits.

A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.

“I’ve skipped reporting straight in, and they’ll know I haven’t before too long. I’ve got - trois heures et quarante deux minutes- before they realise something’s wrong.”

He should tell him. He should just tell him now and get it overwith. There wasn't anything he could do about it, just fess up to the crime, to the burn, to the reason he wouldn't be getting ready to go out today, just like everyone else his own age. Nicholi would notice sooner or later, before, or after, he went to report. They would no doubt tell him then, tell him to 'keep an eye' on his brother, make sure he didn't do anything else unnecessary that might cause harm to a fellow HOUND. But he couldn't do it. He couldn't say a word of it. The words stuck in his mouth, hid there, clung to the sides of his throat, and now matter how hard he tried, he couldn't make a sound. His mouth opened, as though he were about to say something. He didn't even care that Nicholi thought he made a shit cup of tea. Why should he be? It's not like it was a lie. But then the silence took them again, held them captive, until one of them was brave enough to open their lips and just say something.

“It’s your turn next, you know.”

He looked up, stunned, surprised. His eyes fixed upon his brother in curiosity, as his heart started to beat a bit faster. It would be his turn. His turn. The thing that he'd been waiting for for so long was coming close, but...it was still so out out of reach. So far away, so close to grasp but not near enough to hold. How marvelous it would be. To prove himself. To be on his own. To lie and cheat and steal and win. To do something, to show all the other HOUNDS just what he was made of. How they should have listened to him today, and why. How he could get the job done in half the time anyone else could - even Nicholi.

“You’ll be eighteen next January, Christopher.” Next January. Was that all? He couldn't fathom it, yet it was right there, staring him straight in the face. It was coming, so soon, but the seconds moved so slowly. So, so slowly. And each word that Nicholi said made his heart race a little more. Oh, he could feel it. He could taste it, he could breathe it - his own mission. Alone. Without anyone to tell him what to do, where to be, what weapon to use, how he should aim, what he should say - it would all be decided by him. And no one would be able to stop him.

But what about Nicholi?

The words came crashing down on him harshly at his brother's last words were formed. “Vous allez me quitter, trop.”

His heart stopped, and his attention jolted up, dark brown eyes fixed firmly on his brother's face. And for a moment, he almost looked scared. He would be leaving Nicholi. Not forever, and not intentionally, but in order to do what must be done, he would be abandoning him, if only for a few weeks, and Nicholi would experience the same solitude that he had...or would he? Nicholi was always the better one at making friends, even in a place like this. He could carry a conversation meant for something more than interogation. He could smile and laugh and banter and bruise. But Christopher, he was so different.

"Je ne vais pas vous quitter." He spat out, faster than he ever intended, and though it was less than any trained ears might pick up on, Christopher felt himself end his sentence with something he cared not admit to. Emotion. And with that he glanced away, frowning, reaching up to scratch the back of his neck, taking in a huff of air to hide himself, cover up anything that he may have admitted without even realizing it. "They took me off of the list today." He admitted finally, a frown appearing on his already crestfallen face as he waved his burned arm about, hoping that Nicholi would catch on to his gesture as for the reason, so he wouldn't have to explain himself. That would just make it even harder - damn he hated to admit he had done wrong. "Je vais être dix-huit et ils viendront jusqu'à avec une autre raison de me laisser derrière." He scoffed, glaring at the wall as he spoke, his teeth gritting together sharply as his jaw aligned tightly, his face suddenly stern and menacing. "Je ne comprends pas, Nicholi. Comment est-ce qu'ils ne voient pas que je suis le meilleur qu'ils ont?" He glowered, his hands tightening into fists as he spoke. "Je ne peut avoir dix-sept, mais je suis meilleur que n'importe quel autre homme ici." He paused, loooking down to his brother finally, his face softening into something more of a childs, like he once had been - filled with hopes and dreams before they had been torn away. He didn't want to feel anything, not even his own anger, and the only way he could do that was to change the subject. To live vicariously through his brother, who had always had the better life.

"Avez-vous l'apprécierez, Nicholi?" He asked, his eyebrows furrowing together as he frowned, an unusual innocence and vunerability showing in his eyes, a look that would be dying soon, never to return again.

TAG: NICHOLI BARRETT | WORDS: 2,782 | CREDIT: MERCY OF CAUTION!
^
NICHOLI BARRETT
 Posted: Aug 27 2012, 04:37 PM


WRITTEN BY
CANARY

N/A
35 YEARS OLD
german frenchman from england
CO of No. 66 Squadron & REBEL INTEL
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TAG: jade
WORDS: 932
OUTFIT: click here
Time and again boys are raised to be men: impatient they start, fearful at end. But here was a man mourning tomorrow. He drank, but finally drown in his sorrow. He could not brace up his tension. He looked in the wrong place for redemption. Don't look at me with those eyes; i tried to unheave the ties: turn back the time that drew him. But he couldn't be saved: a sadness runs through him, through him.
Ogod this is going to be feels central. Bail while you can.
( nic just barely 20 — chis 17 almost eighteen )
NOVEMBER, 1929.

"Vous êtes comme un chien, mon frère." Nicholi gave him a sideways look, studying that assiduous smirk with nothing short of amusement. Chris, Nicholi’s no nonsense brother did play games of his own. He couldn’t convince Nic he was at all the serious child he made himself out to be. It was a delusion unto himself to believe such nonsense. "Une chienne qui ne s'arrêtera pas mordre." the smirk vaporized instantly from Nic’s face. Instead reappearing a moment later as an animal snarl that, perhaps would have been comical, had he not flicked Christopher’s nose an instant later. The fake expression fading the very next moment in order to make room for a few light hearted laughs. “Aaaah- now see there are the insults I’ve missed so much!” he clapped Chris roughly on the shoulder, smiling like the bright young man he just might have been had they been allowed to live a life in free Rouen. But the darkness and worn decay in his smile never washed out here. “et vous, petit frère, sont comme un chiot qui refuse d'être dirigée par un chef de file. I will let you decide which is worse.”

”I did.” the pause left room for Nicholi to give his kid brother his best sardonic snort. Bullshit you did. he was tempted to mutter, but kept quiet long enough for Christopher to force the rest of his statement out. "C'est arrivé ce matin, et il ne vous regarde pas." Nicholi watched the paper roll from his fingers, reading the upside down lettering as it drifted to the floor space beneath Chris’s knees.

“Tout ce que vous ne me préoccupe, Chris. Je suis responsable de vous que vous le vouliez ou non. Comprendre? Ne les laissez pas vous regardent comme si ils me regardent...” Attention meandering soberly back to Christopher’s wrist once it had been tugged from the loop of his own fingers. A hand covering over the wound before Nicholi’s eyes could catch it again. He kept still. “I never could write like that,” his chin lifted to nod at the paper. "You have a...” they narrowed in concentration, trying to find the English word he knew was stuck somewhere on the tip of his tongue. Regretfully recognizing just how much he’d put off his studies. “a cadeau. I never did so well.”

God he knew how Christopher looked at him for it. For his work at the HOUNDS. As a HOUND. How he didn’t study nearly as fervently, or how every assignment left him a bottled shipwreck he could only barely conceal if he smiled the right way or talked with more confidence than the whole German Soldier and Spy body combined. How hard he worked to wear the superiority that hid his faults. But knew—how Christopher knew—that he could not purge his sins. To cleanse himself inside and out of his wrongs. And for that alone, he would always be a failure. And every task only cracked the study dish a little more.

Neither had ever brought it up. Knowing though, whether it had ever really been acknowledged or not, that is was there. The elephant in the room, if they let it grow for too long. And maybe it was hope that kept them strong; kept them pushing. Maybe things would be okay and both would cope despite what had been taken and forced onto them both. But Chris didn’t always understand what this did to his brother. The hardship was theirs to share but the blame was Nicholi’s to burden alone. He hadn’t grown into this life as well as Christopher had—hadn’t adapted to meet standards and follow training because he knew what they had done. Followed because no, there wasn’t a choice for him- them- but to the absolute minimal. He’d take them away from here if he could. He’d give Chris anything if they’d lived a life permitted those luxuries... but here... there was nothing.

Resurfacing from thought, Nicholi sighed and summoned the discipline to keep quiet long enough to allow Christopher to speak first. There was clearly something on the younger’s mind stealing a great portion of his attention away from Nicholi. His attention. The attention that belonged exclusively to Nicholi McKinley Barrett. Six weeks gone and of course Chris would still deprive him of his habitually greedy interest. Because Chris was greedy, too. Like Nic. Like man. Like every able bodied soldier promised a place in power or a piece of land and a warm, king worthy meal free of ration cards once the war was over.

But war didn’t stop.

Nic snapped his fingers somewhere near Christopher’s left ear, cooing gently from outside of wherever it was Chris had retreated to. “Hey... NB to CB...” stop thinking. “Don’t complicate things...” it was meant to be a yielding statement, but the sharp edges made his tongue sting. But the hand still outstretched over his head did its best to smooth over the statement; redirect its meaning. Fingers bent fractionally, first knuckles dragging vigilantly over the side of Christopher’s face. From his cheek to his chin till he could grasp it gently between his thumb and his index to guide his brother’s eyes back to him.

He’d never have followed advice like that. Not when he was younger. And not now that he was older. Nicholi was a child of his own free will and ideal. He was his own rule and his own government. The selfish son and the spoilt prince. A temper greater than Poseidon’s seas, the women of their care used to laugh years ago. But Christopher was better at this—the philosophy advice. And for that, he already the better man; an easier fire to tame.

For Nicholi, at least. And even though Nicholi too received the sharp end of the blade from Christopher almost as often as the others, it never hurt him like it did them; didn’t possess the hopelessness and coliseum of defeated purpose to help like it did for everyone else. Because Nic had what no one else seemed to give enough damn of their own to stick around and look for— Actually look for—And that was his humanity.

Christopher wasn’t the stone cold angel at their beck and call they’d made him believe himself. He wasn’t the pawn sent to do the king’s dirty work. Not the empty canvas waiting to absorb all their sin and greed and wrong so that they themselves did not have to carry it. Christopher Carwood Barrett was Nicholi’s baby brother and most sacrosanct possession. The look in his brother’s eye was a question. Interest without being eager

Nicholi knew before he’d even opened the door, what he would find behind it. In fact—that was actually quite the lie—because what he did find, was a lot less contrast the horrors he had imagined up for the bored teen, having confined himself to the dark and the quiet of their barrack room. What he saw once inside was very tame compared to the imagination. He expected bullet holes in the ceiling. Citations taped in strawberry rows where the paper targets hung. Knives stuck in walls everywhere but stuck to it. Broken windows and week old plates of food. Except that, especially now with Christopher’s stress, that he wouldn’t have eaten much of anything since Nicholi had left. He was too much like his brother. But at least, what he did know, was that Christopher hadn’t spoken to anyone during that time. Yet alone probably been out of the room for anything less than his lessons and training sessions in the courtyards. He’d have isolated himself almost entirely to his studies.

“You did not even set a trap for me at the door, my brother. I should be offended.” he grinned with that, slipping from the bed to walk a slow, deliberate circle around Christopher’s stoic body. Feet tucked beneath him with that much too smug expression on his soft face; so much unlike Nic’s sharp and angled one. “Anyone could have walked in while I was gone and stuck you with a knife. You would have never even seen their face.” It was a lecture just as much as it was Nicholi teasing. He was thoroughly pissed about his gift being buried in the yard instead of given to him directly, being how exhausted his screaming joints warned he was. No matter how much he was hiding it and forcing himself not to show. A challenge or not, he could not beat exhaustion forever.

"Vous êtes un homme intelligent, Nicholi. Figure it out yourself."

“Vous avez raison, je le ferai. But don’t you think it would be more fun if I dug around for hints, first? Your head ought to be full of them, you little rat.” there was a grin auditable in his voice just before he stopped behind Christopher, so placid in his place on the floor.

Nicholi dropped to his knees in a practised instant, hand snapping to his hip to slide the large, smooth hilt of a blade from the leather holster at his belt. Thankful that his brother from this time prior, hadn’t given him so much a sideways glance the whole time he had been here.

In one swift movement, the generously sized dagger was brought to press firmly against the soft skin below Christopher’s jaw. Barely shifting in that steady hand he used to hold it there. “Is it in the room?” His eyes did a slow sweeping motion around the room. Dropping over piles of books- shelves- his own be-.... “Did you touch my things?” god fucking damn it he should have invested in a lock. One Chris couldn’t break into. “I’m going to kill you.” Nic suppressed the groan on the edge of his exasperation, keeping his head low beside Christopher’s, holding him firmly in place by the knife.

“I brought you something, too. But don’t be disappointed when I tell you it didn’t cost me anything more than a corpse.” Nic growled close to Christopher’s right ear.

It might have been a tad crude, even for Nicholi, but it didn’t stop the smile from reappearing any quicker. The pressure of the blade increased threateningly, before it was being pulled forward and away to hold out in front of Christopher so that he may inspect it for himself. The unadulterated ivory hilt has been grooved by skilled hands—a fine craftsman—despite the blade’s obvious age. It had been taken care of. Treasured by its beholder. The traitor Nicholi had been sent to bring back. Looting was illegal even here; its men, far too proud. But the blade was far too great a prize to leave with the dead. It was better suited a gift. “It’s weighted well. Very well. I think it’s time you had something proper to keep you armed. Protégé.” the older HOUND bounced the knife in his hand a few times, demonstrating the balance of it almost proudly. “C'est un ami pas un outil. Understood?” they weren’t made to kill, they were made to protect. To survive. And Nicholi hoped that message, many times told, had been translated.

’Vous allez me quitter, trop.’ The minute Nicholi had said it, he regretted it. The truth wasn’t what Christopher needed right now. But it was all he was going to get from the older Barrett. At wit’s end and exhausted from weeks of travel and playing the gundog left him threadbare and stiff. His muscles protested very fraction of movement they were forced to make. Even as he rested, the constant throb of his heartbeat sent sparks down his arms and legs. He sat as still as possible... listening, without quite believing.

"Je ne vais pas vous quitter.” Christopher spat back, doing his best to double over the emotion he’d let spill there. But not before Nic could catch it. Hold it. Breathe it in and understand what Christopher was really saying. But Nic couldn’t listen to Christopher set himself up for a lie. He’d have to break that promise whether he liked it or not. “Shh..” he hushed- quickly interrupted by the next string of stressed conversation. Sighing but listening faithfully.

“They took me off of the list today.”

Nicholi fixed the boy with two wide, dazed green eyes. And it took awhile for the words to process- an unusually quick mind stopping to check a surefooted a normally surefooted path. Stepping slowly... uncertainly... Damn it Christopher. Nicholi brought his hands to his face, rubbing away the expression from his eyes and releasing long, almost agonized breaths. He would do this to him, wouldn’t he? Complicate things. Make Nic feel like he had really done this child his wrongs. But Christopher wouldn’t be a child anymore. Not in a few months. And that too frightened Nicholi more than any death sentence or battle threat. This wasn’t even about him, it was about Chris and the things he would be setting out to face. Alone. Places where Nicholi wouldn’t be allowed to jump in and tell him he was making a stupid move. Or approaching things too fast. He couldn’t stop Christopher from making his mistakes.

Eventually his hands fell away, and that upside down, self-possessed stare returned, listening. “Are you certain?” he fell back into his mind for only a brief moment. Calculating the likelihood of a successful retrieval of the documents... they couldn’t have taken a paramount trainee off the lists... not for- whatever the hell it was his kid brother had done. It couldn’t have been that ba- damn it. The room here was hardly damaged beyond the clutter of build up books and paper. Had he really taken his anger out elsewhere? Nic shook his head. “They’re trying to intimidate you. I’ll find the lists on my way to my briefing..” steal them, he means. They’d done it to Nicholi plenty; swore exclusion and gave but a slap on the wrist and if you were lucky- a fair beating to set you straight. But the Germans were desperate for this operation. Their sacred HOUNDS. They needed every able bodied trainee and Chris had always been, without a hint of the doubt, one of their best. Christopher didn’t believe it... the boy didn’t believe much of anything that hadn’t come directly from Nicholi’s mouth, and even then, that percentage was almost just as low. Christopher was of his own command, just like Nicholi.

"Je vais être dix-huit et ils viendront jusqu'à avec une autre raison de me laisser derrière.” Nic saw the way Christopher’s jaw lay tight. Fingers flexing against his pale palms and soft eyes staring callously. He understood the frustration... but it was wrong. All of it. Christopher WAS their best, and they weren’t going to toss him out that easily. They HOUNDS were much too desperate for progression and results. “Je ne vais pas les laisser vous tenir en arrière, parce que j'ai fait de mal.” he said softly with all the honesty he could muster. He’d fight to the end of the earth not to let them hold him back from the end result of his training. He knew what it meant to the boy and the reputation of his eldest brother wouldn’t be enough to ruin that. Nor anything else. Nicholi was shaking his head before the question was even out of Chris’s mouth.

“Viens ici.” he said after some time. Voice far too faint for his normal hoarse tone. Gentle and almost, had the ears listening been trained, needy. A hand slid away from where it had been resting atop his chest to extend back out to chris, welcoming the smaller boy near to guide him onto the bed beside himself. “Vous êtes le meilleur homme ici. Vous le savez. Ils savent ce qu'est un atout parfait dont ils disposent. They will not give up what they know they need.” the older Barrett’s eyes flickered to a far wall, voice lowering where he could not stand to raise it any higher. “Vous rappelez-vous ce que je vous ai dit? Quand nous étions petits. Je vous ai dit que nous serions toujours frères. ensemble,” he stopped to sit up, and like a lion tamer to its feral companion, reached out to run a hand through his brother’s short, dark hair. Long, gun calloused fingers brushing it from his forehead in order to see him fully. Completely. “You already know I lied... you know even I can’t ensure that.”

He crossed those much too long legs and kept the heavy, waiting sigh from appearing. Instead setting to moving that too rough hand down to cup Christopher’s cheek, making sure he kept eye contact. “Mais vous devriez être heureux ... au moins. You are a survivor and a warrior clever enough to outfox any man. And when you leave, I will be proud.” and in this, in some undecided, greatly subconscious sort of way, Nicholi had known even before he’d be made to leave for his final, primary assignment somewhere away from Germany, that he was not a warrior of the HOUNDS. And that if he was to die, it would not be in the honour of a death someone like his brother’s would be.

“Avez-vous l'apprécierez, Nicholi?” Nic was quiet for a long time. Thinking this over with great detail as it shifted around in his thoughts. Enjoyed... Had he? It was a fun game—if you counted the hunt and chase—yes. Nicholi rather enjoyed that a lot. But the kill itself... that was different. That was messy and hard on his mental stamina. It made him heavy and rattled every time he was made to take a life. But Christopher did not have to know all of that... “Yes. In some ways more than others. He didn’t give much of fight. I think locating him was the best part. I couldn’t possibly name every unknown route into Berlin. It would take half a lifetime. “ there was even a grin after this. Mischievous and light enough to fit in quick flick to Christopher’s head. Sniggering quietly to himself. “When you are of age, you will receive your own assignment and judge for yourself. But for now I can share what I’ve done. It might help.” he could not always be with Chris, but he could certainly prepare him.

impatient they start, fearful at end

^
CHRISTOPHER BARRETT
 Posted: Sep 1 2012, 08:18 PM


WRITTEN BY
MUR

N/A
30 YEARS OLD
german frenchman
hound spy
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There were very few things constant in Christopher Barrett’s life. The first was that, whether he wanted to or not, he would wake up breathing in the morning, and that his heart would still beat. It was almost like a sick joke that the world played on him, tormented him, a promise of life when there could be none in the end. For now he felt a purpose, or at least the vague disorientation of one. But the second was, and always would be, Nicholi. There had been a time, back before either was a Barrett, when Christopher had nothing. Nothing but his brain and his heart, and a name bestowed upon him by a nurse. Christopher. The patron saint of travelers. Bearing Christ. Oh, how she might have laughed now, that young nurse, cradling the child of a dead mother in her arms, giving him a name as though he might have a religion. But there was another name he’d been given, one he’d quite liked, even if he didn’t know the full extent of it’s origin.

Brother.

“Aaaah- now see there are the insults I’ve missed so much!”

The sound of Nic’s laughter made his almost-grin widen, disregarding the flick of his nose almost instantly. He hated it, yes, but he would allow Nicholi his tricks. They may have been unique in the way they taunted one another, with violence and anguish, never letting a moment of happiness pass between them undisrupted, but in six weeks’ time, he’d grown to miss it just as much as he learned to enjoy all of the time that he had to himself. His body shifting in position just slightly as Nic gripped him by the shoulder, the gaze of his dark coal eyes turned to Nicholi just enough to catch his smile, the bright smile belonging to the man-boy who’d managed to sneak a pie from the neighbors window and gobble it down without getting caught, shoving bits of apple and pastry into his face, the stain of strawberries still lingering on the corner of his lips. The sight of it had been enough, and Christopher’s own smile sharpened into that of his youth. “I hadn’t.” He muttered calmly, coldly, his laughter caught in his throat unable to escape. “I’d been hoping you might run into a few gypsies who’d decided to buy you instead.” He teased, before leaning his head back, running a free hand over the rear of his spine just above his shoulders, his eyes half-lidded as he listened to his brother carry on in their native tongue. “Et vous, petit frère, sont comme un chiot qui refuse d'être dirigée par un chef de file. I will let you decide which is worse.”

Worse? He couldn’t help but chuckle lightly, briefly at that. He would rather be the pup with a sharp wit and independence than a sharp jaw and stupidity.

“Et pourquoi devrais-je besoin d'un leader?” He asked, unamused, stoic, the only quality taking away from his seriousness being the quirk of the lefthand side of his lips - a whisper of delight. “Je suis un seul renard, mon frère. Je n'ai pas besoin d'une meute de chiens pour me conduire.” He stated innocently enough, letting the next moment pass between them as simply as the first.

“Tout ce que vous ne me préoccupe, Chris. Je suis responsable de vous que vous le vouliez ou non. Comprendre? Ne les laissez pas vous regardent comme si ils me regardent...”

He kept his eyes focused firmly ahead as Nicholi’s voice broke the brief silence between them, his tongue flicking out over his dry lips briefly before he tightened his jaw, swallowing deeply as his gaze fluttered slowly, slowly, slowly to the ground like a fallen feather in the wind. Lectures had never been Nicholi’s forte, not really - Christopher was the one far better with organizing his words when it came to scolding one another, but he could not deny the sincere truth that had let slip between his brother’s lips. While he watched his brother with admiration, the entire organization stared down upon him with a dreadful gaze of despise. Christopher had always been the one to please them; he was resolute, studious, contemplative. Nicholi was intermittent. They worked well together - Christopher the harmony, unwavering, on every beat, and Nicholi the spastic melody - a cadenza; never the same and hard to control. A composed piece of music thrust together by god-knows-what, dramatic and repetitive, on without end, until one might give up upon the other.

“Je coutume.” He sputtered out quickly, perhaps a bit too fast, his voice firm and solid, his eyes nervously shifting towards Nicholi as he reached forward towards one of the books he had left out, slowly folding it closed. “I will not...let them see me as you. We are brothers but we are not the same, we are not...we are not blood, they know this. I am not you and you are not I we are...different, very different. And regardless of responsibility, I...Je peux prendre soin de moi-même. Cette question ne vous concerne pas.” He paused, waving his burned wrist in front of himself slightly, gesturing as his gaze locked upon Nic. “Je peux m'en occuper moi-même, Nicholi. Vous ne devriez pas prendre soin. Permettez-moi de prendre responsabilité, et je vais à nouveau me montrer digne.” He frowned, taking in a quick, deep breath, his eyebrows scrunching together in a look of near-concern as Nicholi paused, stumbling over his words.

“Gift. A gift.” He corrected, sighing, not truly taking in the effect of the other’s words, reaching up to rub at his eyes with his fingertips. “You never did as well because you never tried. If you’d tried you could have...” He paused, his words sticking in his throat as though soaked with a thick glue. I learned just as much from them as I did you, Nic - if only you’d paid attention. If you’d only studied, if, if, if! If only you weren’t such an idiot you could be a genius!

How long had they known each other? A whole lifetime, they had. There was no memory throughout his youth, throughout his life, that he could not remember Nicholi being there - and if absent, he knew where he was placed. The time near the trees when he’d thought Nic was to be adopted without him, where he’d cried, and dried his eyes with his tiny little fists. But those memories, that sentiment, it was not something that he liked to have close to his heart or at the forefront of his mind. No, instead, the hours of which he’d spent speaking only in English, in German, to train Nicholi - where he had to learn the words for himself or be alone, without conversation. It had been through luck, and Christopher, that Nicholi had even passed far enough to be sent alone on a mission. A miracle, really, with all the hard work Chris had put into him, with nothing in return but a few pulls of the hair and flicks of the nose. Not that he cared much for getting anything in return. Seeing Nicholi alive was all he needed, truly.

Seventeen years and every face he’d ever loved had been splattered in blood before the years end. Everyone but Nic. And the HOUND’s could fix that as quickly as they wanted. And here he had gone and broken the rules in a fit of rage, and it wasn’t his own chances he was afraid of squandering; it was Nic’s. All this time, what if it had been his good behavior keeping Nicholi alive? He supposed part of it was, the Hounds knew, whether or not they wanted to, that they couldn’t just kill Nicholi Barrett and not lose the trust of his young brother. Especially in the beginning. Oh, how he’d been afraid. Their mother and father’s faces burned into his young, burdened mind. Clinging to his brother in the night, their only remaining possession shared between them - Tobias, the raggedy horse. If they’d taken Nicholi away from him then, they never would have had use for the small dark-haired child they’d so brutally stolen from his home. And if he disobeyed, if he didn’t listen to them...Would they do the same to Nicholi? Would they do the same to him? He’d never taken the time to figure it out, and quite frankly, he didn’t want to know. “Hey...NB to CB...”

With the snap of Nicholi’s fingers, he felt himself blinking, returning from a daze like a dream, his brown eyes slowly shifting to his brother’s long face, his body remembering to take a deep breath as he shook his head. “I’m not.” He muttered, refusing to look at his brother again as he focused on the covers of books - blue, green, red, black, avoiding the lighter blue one’s. They were too much like Nicholi’s eyes, and prying eyes were the last thing he needed while he thought. He nearly flinched as he felt Nicholi touching his face, recoiling just marginally at the contact.

In the past six weeks loneliness had been his only companion - both his captor and his friend - he’d wreaked enough havoc in his solitude, mostly outdoors, but the most painful thing he’d done to his fellow men was the prank of this morning. The firecrackers sparkling alight inside of a closed room. Oh, how he’d enjoyed it, let out a little laugh at the sight of it, but the consequences...well, that was usually Nic’s area of expertise. His one good quality was that he could bullshit his way through any trial, through any lie. Chris didn’t doubt that even now, at such a young age, he could talk his way into being prime minister of England if he wanted. A whole country would fall to his rule just because he wanted it to, with some strange sense of effortlessness that Christopher had never managed. Yes, he could do nearly everything he put his mind to, but no, it did not come without hard work. Hard work that required reading the mountains upon mountains of books that he’d acquired since Nicholi’s leave, spending every hour of the day with which he met silence scanning sentences upon sentences of words - climbing his own everest of knowledge.

“You did not even set a trap for me at the door, my brother. I should be offended.” Offended? Offended, or flattered, Chris wondered. There were few people he would make an exception not to make a trap for - Nicholi, truthfully, being perhaps the only one. Trust. Trust was a thing that went a long way - either the fault of man, or a testament to one’s character. If he could trust, perhaps, even just one person, maybe he wasn’t so much a monster the HOUND’s had trained him to be. “Anyone could have walked in while I was gone and stuck you with a knife. You would have never even seen their face.”

“And why would I do a thing like that?” He asked, arching a small brow as he snatched a book from the floor, peeling it open to where a corner of a page had been folded over, his eyes scanning over a paragraph before he sealed it shut, storing the knowledge in his ever-expanding safe of material. “A trap would be what you expected, and I couldn’t very well do that, could I? You would have seen it coming - I had to do what you didn’t expect. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by.” He smirked, tucking the book back amongst the shelves, not even bothering to rise from his place on the floor, instead just keeping his attention focused upon the elder Barrett who continued to pace around him like some hunter ready to attack it’s prey. “Peut-être que j'ai toujours fait face à la porte? Et peut-être que je n'ai jamais dormi?” He suggested, far more truth to his words than he would have liked to admit. It didn’t take much work to notice that not only had Christopher become thinner since Nicholi’s leaving, and that his eyes had been continually bloodshot - restless, paranoid, hoping that Nicholi didn’t fuck anything up.

“Rat’s are unclean, Nic, I don’t think-” His words were cut short as the elder Barrett dropped to his knees, the younger Barrett’s body tensing as he felt the pressure of cold metal against his thin neck. The sharpness of the blade tingling against his skin as he almost relaxed in place. “Is it in the room?” “No, it is not.” “Did you touch my things?” Oh, yes, there was the frustration Chris had been expecting. Yes, yes he had, and he knew he would be getting in trouble for it eventually, too. Not like any of the things he’d thrown out were of importance - only of sentiment. He’d kept the most important, of course. He knew the things that he would be risking his life over, and made sure that they were kept within the possession of the Barrett’s, safe and sound. “Only a little...” He answered, his voice taking on a saccharine sweetness, like the plea of a child unwilling to face harm. But it was the last sentence that truly struck him, though not in a way of pain.

“I’m going to kill you.” Nic glowered.

No, you won’t. Whispered back Christopher’s silent thoughts.

Of all the things Nicholi was - a man of vengeance, a man of pride, there was one thing that he was not; a cold blooded killer. A killer, yes - and a damn good one, but never without a reason. Not his own reasons, sure. He would be applied to a mission, forced to kill, maim, destroy. He’d already showed himself worthy in that regard. But if there were ever a person he could never kill...it would be the closest to kin that he had ever had. Nicholi could slit the throat of every man upon the earth, but in the end there would still be two survivors. Two Barrett’s. Even with a knife at his throat Christopher felt his body relax against his false-brother’s, his young face calm and his palms dry.

He could hear his brother’s breathing close to his ear, deep and angered, but not to the point of incoherent rage - not yet at least. “I brought you something, too. But don’t be disappointed when I tell you it didn’t cost me anything more than a corpse.” Nicholi growled, catching Christopher’s interest. A gift? For him? Surely he was lying - Nicholi didn’t think like that. He was selfish. Perhaps it was a nut he’d found on the ground, and intended on throwing at his young brother, but went for the knife trick instead.

“Is it a corpse, then?” He asked dryly, his voice serene even as the knife pressed closer, his head tilting back just a bit, increasing the pressure even by his own accord - it wouldn’t surprise him, truly, if his brother chose to draw blood before releasing him, but he didn’t. Instead, he pulled the knife away, and allowed it to linger in front of his brother for a short time longer, and that’s when he realized - his gift.

“It’s weighted well. Very well. I think it’s time you had something proper to keep you armed. Protégé.” He nearly ignored the words out of Nicholi’s mouth, instead inspecting the knife with his hands, raising one of his hands, allowing it to hover just below Nicholi’s as he demonstrated the fine weapon, his dark eyes lightening, sparkling with delight as his brother, or rather, the weapon. “It’s weighted well. Very well. I think it’s time you had something proper to keep you armed. Protégé.” “Protégé...” He repeated slowly, appreciating the craftsmanship of the object, the hilt sparkling - he could tell it was aged, though how long he couldn’t quite tell. It hadn’t been used often, still clean and sharp and shining, in a perfect, mint condition, perhaps having seen most of it’s action in the past several moments, the first skin it ever finding its blade forced against being Christopher’s as far as anyone was aware. “C'est un ami pas un outil. Understood?” Nicholi asked, and almost impulsively, Christopher felt himself nodding. “Understood. Je vous remercie. Il est...” He paused, his words failing him entirely as he took the weapon from his brothers hands, pulling it down to examine it, resting the back sides of his hands against his knees as he held it, cradling it like an infant child. “Entre de bonnes mains. Merci.” He nodded, giving his brother a little smile - the tiniest of sorts, with his teeth hardly bared, but his thanks written all upon the forefront of his face, even if he refused to look at his partner in crime.

Neither of them had meant for the conversation to leak where it had, to where Nicholi had unintentionally steered it, regardless of how much emotion either of them showed towards it. As children, as men, they were forced not to feel, told not to have any experiences guiding them, yet they had always found a way to be inseparable. As easy as it had become to tear them apart from one another, differentiate one’s motives over the others, truly, they were never that far apart. Christopher’s guidance and Nicholi’s cynicism and selfishness were never outside of each others grasp of attention. In six weeks Christopher had heard Nicholi criticizing him nearly six thousand times in his own mind - this morning he had egged him on, even without being here, and regardless of how attached they were to one another within the spaces of their own minds, the thought of never seeing Nicholi again...never seeing his constant...it crushed the tiny halves of Christopher’s soul that he had been saving into dust.

He could never leave. Not entirely. He couldn’t.

If he did, all Christopher would have left was his own heartbeat.

Nicholi tried to silence him, but it was too late for that. He would speak his mind, say what he wanted to say, and unfortunately that was going to do them little good. Nicholi needed to know, he’d hear it eventually - your little brother failed - for the first time in his life, he’d failed. Just when it was starting to look like he never could, he had. And why? Because you weren’t there to stop him. You weren’t there to warn him, to tell him it would get him in trouble - that you would be the one to light the firecrackers and not he, for then he could get top marks in training and you could take the blame.

Christopher dared not look at his brother as he shared the news - that he’d been removed, punished, scolded, slapped upon the wrist. The seconds ticked by like minutes as he waited, listening for a sound from his brother apart from a sigh, his body lowering, his back slouching as he felt himself overcome with a feeling he thought nonexistent to him now - shame.

“Are you certain?” Nicholi asked, and slowly Christopher bowed his head. “Absolutely.” He stated, not bothering to elaborate, or explain himself. Nicholi wouldn’t care much anyways, so long as he didn’t do it again. “They’re trying to intimidate you. I’ll find the lists on my way to the briefing...” Shaking his head slowly at his brother’s words, Christopher felt his lips quick into a smile. “No, you don’t need to. Je peux gérer les conséquences de mes actes - rien m'intimide, mon frère. Vous devriez le savoir maintenant.” He muttered, though his words were more dishonest than truth. He could handle his consequences, yes, it’d been his stupid idea that got him off the list to begin with, and he didn’t need Nic covering for him anymore. Besides, perhaps it would show resilience, not to care, to fight in the face of punishment, to stand true to one’s convictions regardless of request, need, or duty. But he was not happy. He was not proud. He knew his punishment could carry over regardless, and that was what he feared.

He feared to be rejected.

“Je ne vais pas les laisser vous tenir en arrière, parce que j'ai fait de mal.” The meaning all died short of Christopher’s ears, but he cared little to acknowledge it. “It is not your fault.” He said firmly, even harshly, though he did not entirely believe it. Yes, it was not his fault, but at the same time...could it have been? At least a little? Nicholi would have kept him calm, distracted, if it he had been her, but it was not right to blame him for that. Christopher needed to learn how to control his temper, that was all this truly proved. He thought he’d mastered it, once, but clearly he had not, and if that was unworthy of backtracking in his training then...well what was the point of training to begin with?

Silence passed between them, and Christopher knew not what to say. You cannot leave? I need you here? No, that was ridiculous. That would imply that he needed his brother. That he truly, absolutely needed him, when he was trying so hard to make himself believe that he didn’t. Nicholi, please don’t go-

“Viens ici.” Nicholi broke the silence first, extending a hand to his young brother which was taken after a moment of hesitation, his own fingertips brushing against his brothers before he withdrew them. “Vous êtes le meilleur homme ici. Vous le savez. Ils savent ce qu'est un atout parfait dont ils disposent. They will not give up what they know they need.” Rising from his feet, Christopher held the knife with his hand, stabbing it ferociously into the side of the headboard as he moved towards the bed, climbing atop of it slowly, contemplatively, sitting down at his brother’s side with a heave of his shoulders and a huff of his lungs, his expression, mood, demeanor all becoming lethargic as he met his brother’s side. Eyes locked upon where the knife had met the wood, he refused to look up until Nicholi. Regardless of need or sincerity, Christopher’s ears refused to accept the compliments. Best man? Maybe, maybe not. The best Hound would not go setting flames in another’s room, not unless he was ordered to. No, only people like Nicholi and himself did things like that, and Nicholi was quite obviously not the best.

“Vous rappelez-vous ce que je vous ai dit? Quand nous étions petits. Je vous ai dit que nous serions toujours frères. Ensemble,”

Drawing his attention away from his introversion, Christopher’s eyes fluttered to his brother, a look of hopefulness slowly appearing on his young, deceptively gentle face. Oh, yes, he remembered. He remembered clearly. Vividly. And even here he felt a warm spark, a spark of delight, of hope, of happiness, a rare occurrence inside of his body as his brother brought memories to the forefront of his mind. Yes, always. Together. Brothers. Regardless of whether or not he might fail or succeed, Nicholi would always be his brother. That is what he had been promised - the one promise that life had given him, by some grace, of kindness. He would always have Nicholi.

“Oui, je me souviens.” He murmured, giving a slight nod, his body relaxing as he felt his brother’s long fingers slip between the strands of his short hair, easily ruffled and toyed with. His voice was quiet, innocent, young. That of a boy that believed a stranger brought kindness and not pain, and that he could trust every word ever spoken by those he cared about. Unwavering and sweet. “Je vous ai fait promettre, parce que je a fait vous crois pas. Et vous avez dit que je ne devrais pas avoir peur, parce que nous serions toujours frères. Toujours.” He said, a small grin pulling at his lips as he recalled the event, almost laughing as he did, sitting up a bit more as he stared into his brother’s kind eyes - eyes that had never before brought him a pain that he could never bare, only protection.

“You already know I lied... you know even I can’t ensure that.”

He could no longer feel his heart, but he knew for a fact that he must have been falling.

...I lied

                                 ...I lied

                                                                    ...I lied

                                                                                                     ...I lied

His smile faded in a flash, devoured by the bitter ice that had struck his young body, his expression falling, falling, down, down, down, jaw agape, his mind blank as he stared. Lied? No, he couldn’t have - this was a test. A cruel, cruel test. It had to be. Oh, Nicholi, he knew you well. You brothers, yes, the pair of you.

...I lied

You couldn’t have. You’d promised. You of all people...you were sworn to tell him the truth. You could not lie to him, you could not break his trust. You...You were the one that held his hand, that coaxed him to trust himself when climbing from trees, to afraid that he was too small and might hurt himself if he fell. The one that begged him to run, to ‘please, please, Christopher just go!’ But Tobias, Nicholi! Jesse James needed his horse if he was to fight!

...I lied

Nicholi, please, I’m scared. I don’t wanna die.

           ...I lied

Please, Nicholi, please. I can’t do this. They had red on their faces-

                       ...I lied

You promise? P-please? You promise? You won’t let them hurt me?

                                   ...I lied

We’ll always be brothers, right, Nic? Always? They can’t hurt us if we’re brothers.

                                               ...I lied

We’ll be together. Safe. You’ll keep me safe.

                                                           ...I lied

You promised.

                                                                       ...I lied

“Oh.” He breathed out, his feeble voice hushed and alone. He didn’t hear what Nicholi said next, not entirely, something about being happy, about him being a survivor, a warrior. “And when you leave, I will be proud.” Proud? Proud of what? Of him? Of this boy you’d deceived? That you had kept by your side, raised in his youth, allowed to cling to your side, hold on to your hand while you walked up the dirt road to your once-home because he was afraid of the shadows in the bushes? Proud for what? Just so you could admit it was a lie? That you had no intention of keeping him? What exactly was the lie? That you could be his brother - he knew already that was impossible, you could not, truly, be brothers. Not in the beginning, and not now, but...it had all meant the same, hadn’t it? You were family now, but...you had lied. Was it possible...you could not be his brother...you could not protect him? Or was it greater than that? Was the lie that he could not be loved? That you had to beg to earn him a family, poor Christopher, all alone?

Had you lied when you said someone could want a small child like him?

Taking in a deep breath, he was quick to change the subject, his eyes fixating themselves upon his knees, closing out his mind, his heart, his eyes, shutting down everything but a steadfast focus on the things that could not hurt him.

Had you meant anything you had ever said, Nicholi?

“Yes. In some ways more than others. He didn’t give much of fight. I think locating him was the best part. I couldn’t possibly name every unknown route into Berlin. It would take half a lifetime.” His body tensed as he again felt Nicholi touched him, something about the flick of his broth-of Nicholi’s hand feeling wrong. Strange. Burdened. “I’m sure there are many.” He muttered, running his tongue across his lips slowly, ignoring the one hand that had curled itself into a slow fist.

“When you are of age, you will receive your own assignment and judge for yourself. But for now I can share what I’ve done. It might help.”

“Could you?” Christopher asked, reaching up slowly to brush his thumb over his temple, refusing to look into Nicholi’s face as he spoke. “If...I’m not going out today I might as well get some learning in, non?”

It might help, yes, maybe, who knows. You were HOUNDS, the both of you. Not brothers, but...monsters. Together. Invested in the same terrible cause. Stuck together, doing business in one thing, and one thing only.

Lies.

TAG: NICHOLI BARRETT | WORDS: 4,767 | CREDIT: MERCY OF CAUTION!
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