Archie's Letters, Part 1: To Horatio re: Spain
by Michele


Dear Horatio,

It is my fervent wish that it is not inappropriate for a man to write
his fellow officer in such a manner; however, circumstances move me
to do so, for as you know, I must follow where I am led.

Your care of me in Spain (which is what prompts this missive) was
beyond all calling, and beyond what a broken man deserved, for when
you found me, I was indeed broken. Mr Hunter was of no help, and
only made the situation worse, reinforcing my belief that I was not
worth saving. How you have tolerated him exceeds my comprehension!

But I digress. Horatio, I do realise that I have not been an easy
soul to manage, and that my times of melancholy can be difficult and
perplexing. But none less so for myself, and I am grateful that you
have recognised that I am more than circumstances have sometimes made
me become, however temporarily. Not many would have understood that
two years alone, broken, and in confinement, can drive any man
outside of his reason! I know that it was necessary for you to
experience what I did -- the loss of freedom, the humiliation, the
privation -- to truly understand what drove me to such a state.
Nonetheless (and as much as you might not wish to admit it), you do
have a natural compassion, sir, which I am most grateful you allowed
to be revealed -- however uncomfortable it might have made you at the

And speaking of which, I do know how difficult the bath was for
you.... It was not easy for me either, but it needed to be done, for
I certainly had no regard for my own well-being at the time, and was
not likely to take any action for my own care. But once that step
was taken, I realised that perhaps I might be worthy of saving after

There would yet be, however, a long road from there until the time we
both returned from Indefatigable, confident in what we knew we must
do, however unpleasant. And pitting that road were the ruts of my
utter despair, which you sought lovingly to repair -- in the process
putting aside your pride, your comfort, and your closely guarded

I am sorry, Horatio... I do realise that must be uncomfortable for

But I also know that you are an honourable man, and proud of your
actions, as once you determine what must be done, you do so, without
compunction or backward glance. And so I thank you, for taking my
fragile heart -- which you alone know the strength I possess to risk
it -- and seeking to mend it. That heart will never be up to the
standards of this world, and will never be hardened -- as much as
that might make things easier on me -- and it will probably never be
as it was before Ferrol. But I know now that that does not matter,
for you have helped me to find it inside of me to carry on, despite
Simpson and Hunter and Don Massaredo, and all they have taken from
me, and despite my own pain. For therein lies true strength: To be
beaten and broken, to be thought of as weak and left for dead, to be
abandoned and scorned -- and yet, to continue, not without the pain,
but with it, and in spite of it, and indeed even BECAUSE of it...

And you, sir... You alone know of the pain and shame I carry inside,
even as I continue on about the business of living, no matter how
deep and lasting the wounds to my soul... And yet, you never look
down upon me; you know that I do not desire pity, only friendship,
and somehow you have not lost respect for me, even though for a time
I had lost respect for myself.

I never sought solutions, Horatio -- only comfort, and perhaps
understanding, which is what a man might expect of his friends. Yet
you showed me both, and indeed filled my cup -- both literal and
figurative -- to overflowing. Thank you for offering to me the
clean, refreshing water of life. It is for this reason that the
decision to return with you to Spain was not a difficult one, for
such kindness can never be repaid, although I vow to someday do so.


Yours ever in his Majesty's Service,

Archie Kennedy.