Name: Archibald "Archie" Kennedy
Fandom: Hornblower (A&E Series)
Age: 26 (estimate—no exact age is given in canon, but he is roughly the same age as the main character, so it may be surmised that this is his age)
Time Period: Post-“Retribution” (episode 6)
Wing Color: Navy blue
History: Nothing in canon states his origins outright, but there are a few clues. His speech and manner and the fact that he mentions his father's manservant suggest he comes from a well-to-do English family. The actor who portrayed him said, in an interview, “What I'm thinking, really, is he is probably fairly well off in terms of his background. My take on it was, he was the second or third son of some nobleman. Archie Kennedy is a Scottish name, so I thought he was Scottish gentry. His family probably wasn't terribly wealthy but was titled, and he went off to the navy to make his career. And he wasn't probably naturally suited to it.”
He joined the English navy as a midshipman aboard the ship-of-the-line Justinian and served for an undetermined amount of time before the King Louis' execution in 1793 brought England to war (based on typical military protocol for the time, he was most likely a volunteer aboard a ship since the age of eleven for about three years before becoming a midshipman). During his time on the Justinian, he got on very well with most of the crew, being a likable young man, but endured abuse at the hands of a senior midshipman who took to bullying his way to the top. The abuse, implied to be both physical and sexual, was traumatic enough to give Archie seizures in the presence (or threatened presence) of his abuser, but they presumably have not bothered him in years.
After King Louis was executed by his own people, he was transferred to the frigate Indefatigable to fight in the First Coalition. During a mission requiring secrecy, he had an ill-timed seizure and had to be knocked out and left in the jolly boat, where he was set adrift during the attack. Shortly after, he was captured by the French. They sent him to a Spanish prison, where he remained for two years. Multiple escape attempts earned him extended time in an oubliette. Fortune finally threw him a bone when his fellow midshipman, Horatio Hornblower, was captured with his men and sent to the same prison. Horatio took the half-mad and suicidal Kennedy into his stubborn care, nursing him back to health and earning himself the most devoted friend imaginable. They were later released for heroic behavior.
The two served together aboard the Indefatigable for several years until being transferred to the Renown as junior lieutenants under the command of Captain Sawyer. Sawyer, once a war hero, was quickly discovered to have grown senile and viciously paranoid in his old age. An unfortunate incident, for which both Horatio and Archie were present, caused Sawyer to fall into the hold, which nearly killed him. Upon their arrival at Kingston, Horatio was accused of pushing Sawyer and court-martialed for mutiny, but Archie, who had been mortally wounded days before, confessed falsely to save his friend's life and career. He succumbed to his wounds hours later.
Personality: Archie is high-spirited, with hot-running emotions and a sort of cheeky, boyish charm. A line in an early installment of the series reveals that he stays in touch with his family. As he grew, his cheekiness became full-out snarkiness and he made it his duty to keep his friends from getting too serious. The misfortunes of his past have served to make him stronger, and the fact that his high spirits survived them says much for his natural resilience and his closeness with the man who was ultimately his savior.
It is rare to see him solemn, but his emotions do run strongly both ways and he has been fighting a severe inferiority complex for years. He has come a long way since, thanks to Horatio. He has had several spells of bad depression caused by circumstances, as well as a conversion disorder that gave him seizures in the presence (or threatened presence) of his abuser aboard the Justinian. In El Ferrol, the Spanish prison, he nearly starved himself to death when he was too weak to attempt suicide any other way, and he now has a fierce empathy for any victim of abuse, depression, or fear. When a teenage midshipman was unfairly beaten several times by Captain Sawyer, Archie quietly gave him tasks to keep his mind off the pain and attempted to defend him in front of the captain (this, unfortunately, only made things worse, which he was dismayed to discover).
Early in his career, there were instances of him panicking in a crisis. On his first mission as an acting lieutenant, he made a few poor calls and got trigger-happy simply from blind panic, but during the same mission, he learned to channel his fear and command his men with adequate authority. Because of instances like this, he insists that he is “a little prone to panic,” yet he recently leapt off a cliff into the ocean below with a man who could not swim and another man who was afraid of heights. More astonishingly, he voluntarily returned to El Ferrol with Horatio upon learning that his friend had given his parole that he would not escape (they were later released for heroic behavior). Death was admittedly terrifying for him, though Horatio was able to put him at some ease. Having an extensive history with physical pain, he does not have a tolerance per se, but many mental tricks he uses to take his mind off it. When he suffers, he suffers quietly if he can help it, though he has been known to mutter fitfully in his sleep during a nightmare. The life and stability he has he owes to Horatio, and because of this, it may be fortunate that he died first.
He loves his career on the sea, but the arts and theatre in particular are his second-greatest passion. As he once told Horatio, “I knew Drury Lane like it was my home.” He can quote entire passages from plays and knows the names and faces of actors. Music and literature are beloved to him, and he sometimes reads or studies in his spare time even though formal classes make him uncomfortable. Books were apparently one of his little ways to take refuge during the tense days aboard the Justinian (in the first episode, we see him resolutely buried in a book, trying for all the world to be invisible, while his abuser torments someone else). He also speaks and reads Spanish as a result of his long imprisonment in Spain and was beginning to teach it to Horatio in one episode.
His default expression involves the shadow of a cheeky smile and a twinkle in his eye. If he is truly stoic, it can signify deep emotional turmoil. He has a tendency to lose himself in thought during quiet moments. He is not bullied easily nowadays, but that came at great cost, and it really is owed largely to the fact that Horatio's personality is stronger than his own. It cannot be emphasized enough that his friendship with Horatio is the most important thing he has. He is keenly aware of this, and that his best friend benefits constantly from favoritism. It is a fact that he used to resent deeply. He held it against Horatio in El Ferrol, fighting his shipmate's stubborn treatment until his own stubbornness ran out. Now, he somewhat mournfully accepts it, and with it his constant sense of inadequacy compared to Horatio (even if, all the same, he understands the importance of his role as Horatio's chief emotional supporter). He doesn't give himself enough credit where this is concerned, as he's not quite as dependent on Horatio as he thinks he is.
In regards to his attitude as a military man, he is more concerned with right and wrong than the chain of command. Under a more keen or brutal captain he would likely be called insubordinate. However, he maintains an awareness of this and keeps his comments subtle enough to be just shy of insubordination. Every so often his passion gets the better of him and he spits out something inappropriate about a superior—with good reason, always, but the English navy is iron-fisted when it comes to a man's words toward a superior. It's not over-the-top from the point of view of a modern-day civilian, but for an 18th-century navy man, it definitely crosses the line. He has a slim but stubborn rebellious streak that, at its heart, is a stab of revenge for the mistreatment aboard the Justinian that left him quietly submissive for so long. Mainly, it manifests itself as a tendency to question why superiors must be followed like gods, even if they are cruel or incompetent. In this way, he is ahead of his time. Aside from this, he loves what he does and is very good at what he does, just not true material for a commander. He's not precisely mischievous, but he is barely professional enough to be a lieutenant and skirts by on skill and talent rather than a true commander's forceful and solemn personality. If he had survived, it is unlikely he would have become a captain. That's not to say his men don't like him. He is too much like one of the seamen—more refined than they are, more poised and subtle, but still with a streak of immaturity as a necessary coping mechanism.
He enjoys giving his friends a gentle ribbing, but he is an utterly harmless person, blameless but never naive. His response to Horatio's question of “Are you out of your MIND?” was, “Very possibly, but we thought you could use the company.” As a lieutenant aboard the Renown, he once spent just a little too long during a vital mission looking through a telescope and giggling at the couple making out on the wall of the fort he was about to infiltrate (Lt. Bush had to remove the telescope from his hands before he would stop, giving him a gentle chastisement). Having lived for years among rough (but not bad) company since he was an impressionable boy, there is very little he hasn't heard, seen, or thought of. If there is more than one way to construe something he has said, the less innocent option is always what he means, though he is a master of disguised insults and passive aggression. While he stands at attention as well as anyone, he is never, ever above giving a suppressed snicker when someone refers to the Brest blockade.
How, precisely, will he react to Luceti? He'll surely have his ups and downs. On the one hand, he hasn't been particularly independent of Horatio in a long time, and coming out from a friendship where their personalities were built partially on each other will be difficult. He may find another friend to satisfy any inner desire for codependency. He's used to a much more rigid system and rules than Luceti has, so boredom and a sense of futility will be a problem. On the other hand, this is practically a vacation for him. He's not likely to make it his goal to escape, since even if he were alive he'd be hung if he went back to England, but he will offer defiance in plenty of other forms, and try to empower those around him. Despite the circumstances, he will strive to see this as an opportunity for a fresh start—one he will relish as much as he can, maybe even after things start getting ugly.
He is a spectacular shot. He once took down a man on a roof at a near-impossible distance during the heat of battle. He is also agile and a very fast runner, with a good sense of balance, and his muscle tone is to be expected of someone who practically grew up on a ship. He is also an excellent swimmer.
He is a cunning, naturally good leader, or he would never have made lieutenant. His understanding of tactics both on and off the shore is better than he generally credits himself for, and unlike his much-praised best friend, he knows a hopeless situation from the start. He knows ships and works well with firearms, particularly cannons. He is good at calculus and advanced geometry, well-read, and possesses an excellent memory.
He is warm, empathetic, and high-spirited, with a cutting sense of humor and a quick wit he uses to take the pressure off anyone prone to solemnity. He can use it as a coping mechanism himself. When mortally wounded, he insisted, “It's not as bad as it looks” before dribbling blood from his mouth. He is very good at being someone's moral and emotional support with as few words as possible. While he doesn't exactly do depression half-way, he bounces back very well. Most people like him, as he is charismatic, laid-back, and extroverted. He is also somewhat audacious, with a slender but strong rebellious streak. He lacks any sort of rose-colored glasses, and he doesn't mind pushing the envelope.
He has been exempt from the hardest labor on a ship, having joined as a midshipman. His coordination and ability to think on his feet in a fight are not great. He can only hold his own in close combat if it involves weapons, and even then—well, close combat is how he died. In a fist fight against a skilled opponent, he wouldn't stand a chance.
His seizure disorder is psychological, not biological (at least, this is the route I am taking based on the apparent nature of this disease; for example, the fact that he is conscious during his seizures suggests something other than epilepsy), but it can knock him flat given certain emotional stimuli (it must be a very specific type of stress—he spent two years as a POW in Spain, one of the darkest points in his life, and never had a problem, but he had a seizure the same night that Horatio appeared and started talking about returning to the Indefatigable). Being someone who thinks with his heart more than his head, he does not always think before he speaks and can jump to conclusions and be impulsive to his own detriment and others'. He has always relied on Horatio to come up with some sort of action in response to bad circumstances (in non-war situations) rather than taking much action himself.
Some of his emotional strengths double as weaknesses, namely his audacity and rebellion (though by 21st-century standards, “rebellion” is a strong word for him). His temper is quick to rise and fall. His sense of logic is often interrupted by his emotions and he can dwell far, far too much on his own fears and flaws. He short-changes himself, sometimes to the point of giving up entirely on being effective. If you asked another officer if Archie Kennedy was brave, they would tell you he most certainly was. If you asked Archie Kennedy if he was brave, he would laugh. He will be somewhat lost in a world that expects nothing in particular from him. His current stability and sense of confidence he owes to his best friend, who has put every faith in him since before Archie was worthy of it. If he cannot find another friend with a stronger personality than his, he may begin to unravel.
[Voice entry; speaking as if dictating a letter] My Sweet Luceti, Most Radiant Darling, Mother of All Fair Things, if there were words to convey my affection and devotion to you, I would fill oceans with them. I hope the few words I do have find you glowing with the warmth and joy I have seen in you in the too-short month I have known you. My heart swells to think on your [voice changes slightly, as if the words are spoken while grinning tightly] friendly company, your gentleness and compassion, and the snow-like purity of your dear heart. I trust implicitly—blindly!--in your faithfulness and well-meaning.
However, my pet, this is not Scotch whiskey. [cheerily] Do learn how to make it properly. If you do so, I will learn to live with every one of your...shining characteristics. If you do not, I fear our diplomatic relationship will cease all pretense of being mutually beneficial. [slight pause] I may shoot myself. A man must live for something. I remain forever yours.
Lieutenant A. Kennedy [A pause, then the sigh of a word his mother probably did not teach him just as the journal clicks off]
Third Person: “Oh hell.” Archie doesn't move for several seconds, trying to remember what must have happened between lying on his deathbed and dangling precariously from a tree branch by his fingertips. If this is supposed to be Heaven, he'd like to kick Dante in the teeth. In fact, he thinks he will, if Dante's around here somewhere. On the bright side, a quick self-inspection reveals that he doesn't seem to have a great gaping hole in his stomach. No, the pain is coming from body parts he didn't know he had. He'll have to put off thinking about that for now. At the moment, not falling off the tree takes priority. Somewhere just below his feet—bare, thank you very much to whoever chucked me into a tree—is another branch. The only way to make it all the way down to it is to let go, so...
“OOF!” Well, he made it, anyway, pride and dignity aside. He's scraped and a bit bruised and practically spitting bits of bark, but now he has time to think. Let's see, Horatio's face...it had been there, as he sat by Archie's bedside, mouth tightening first to choke back tears, then into a weak smile. The poor man couldn't even say goodbye, but Archie was not a lot better at it. He wasn't in pain at all, but he was terrified. He didn't want to die young, and he didn't want to face the possibility that all that existed after death was a great void.
He supposes he really shouldn't complain about the tree.
Carefully, from his heap atop the tree branch, Archie tries to move. Aaaand that's the end of that. Moving hurts like fire. It's a little like being caned, actually. The first rule of pain, of course, is to avoid aggravating it further. So Archie lies still, makes himself as comfortable as possible on an inherently uncomfortable surface, closes his eyes against the sun's light, and tries not to let the cold get to him.
Well, damn. What now?
His dry lips part. He'd been cared for as well as any dying man, but sitting up to drink had been more uncomfortable than staying thirsty, and as the end drew nearer he simply hadn't wanted to put anyone to the trouble. Now he wishes he'd been a little more insistent. Granted, he'd been crying out some of the water in his body towards the end, though he would prefer not to remember that, and it wasn't entirely his fault that Horatio had insisted on being there, being, well, Horatio. Compassionate and solemn and impossibly naive, as though every man was worth as much as he was.
"Horatio?" The name comes from his throat with a slight croak. He closes his mouth, swallows, and tries again, a little louder. "Horatio?" Of course Horatio isn't there. This is Heaven. Or it could be Purgatory, in a more literal sense than the Justinian had been ("The Good Ship Slough of Despond," he remembers with a half-smile). Either way, Horatio isn't dead, so he can't be in either place and Archie needs to shut his gob. Oh god, Horatio! Tears sting his eyes suddenly, and they have nothing to do with the pain. He blinks them away quickly. Horatio will be fine. He's always fine! It's Archie Kennedy who needs to worry. Archie Kennedy never amounted to much on his own, though he supposes he doesn't need to concern himself about that anymore. No more mad captains so convinced that their lieutenants are plotting against them that said lieutenants actually begin plotting against them. Yes, things are looking brighter.
One little flaw in this line of thinking: if this is Heaven, why is he in pain? Damn, damn, damn. Archie steels himself and sits up, feeling the world shift underneath him for an instant before he settles himself against the trunk of the tree and blows out a sharp breath. He is shirtless, as he had been, but no blood-stained linen bandages are wound around his abdomen now. Someone has changed his trousers--they are long, all the way to his ankles, and made of white cotton. It seems like a waste of cotton to him, though he supposes cotton is cheaper nowadays. He thinks about pain in body parts he didn't know he had, and reaches behind to put his finger on it in a more literal sense than he usually means. All right, the feathers surprise him, but only a little. So he's in Heaven, and wings are part of the package, right? Very...er, very small, flimsy-looking wings the same color as his uniform. Well. God was very thoughtful in choosing the color. Now, he is not precisely an unfailing optimist, but he is certain someone else must have made it into Heaven. Or Purgatory, as the case most likely is despite the wings. He just hopes they have a flask of something strongish. Feeling utterly and uncomfortably disconnected from his own aching, freezing body, he swallows and raises his voice to try to find them.