The New World > Flintlock Lodge



tw. childhood trauma, mention of homophobic upbringing

Edmund wasn’t used to being loved. He never knew what to do. Every time he’d reach out, eventually — one way or another — his raw and real self would never be enough. Who really wanted damaged goods anyway? As much as Edmund wanted to blame his upbringing for how he turned out, maybe the problem lay with him? But he couldn’t be held accountable for what happened to him as a child — none of the Stirlings deserved that. All they needed was some love. A hug. A hand on the shoulder as they were told that they were adored.

But the truth was, their past still haunted them because that was what happened when a relentless cycle could not be broken. He was on Edmund’s mind every waking moment of every single day. The things Alfred had pressured the Stirling brothers into was barbaric and cruel. How could they love when they were taught only hatred and savagery? How could they ever be loved when they were never shown what love meant? Every moment was snarled into his fighting soul, carved into weary bones. Memories burned behind eyelids, Alfred occupied his brain as if it were his home.

He had been dead for two years, but he lived on in Edmund’s head nonetheless.

Franklin too had been cursed with such horror, but perhaps the two brothers dealt with their anguish in different ways. Whilst Edmund was adamant on trying to follow in his father’s footsteps because it was the only lifestyle that he knew, Franklin had been preoccupied with the niggling thought that there ought to be a better life out there somewhere for him. His homosexuality was something that he was quiet about around his family for fear of judgement, but his life in Bluestem Prairie had felt so liberating. The constraints of fear had been eradicated, and he had been unshackled from Alfred’s cruel and, quite frankly, dated beliefs.

But what was a life free of constraints when Franklin had to go about it alone? He never fit into the western dream Bluestem Prairie made itself out to be — he had only settled down there so that he could be with the man that he loved. He sacrificed everything that he had once known, only to be betrayed. His husband disappeared in the night, taking all that Frank had come to adore with him. Ever since, waking up in an empty home became unbearable. Soon after, Frank retreated back to the only place that felt like home. Despite the tensions between Edmund, perhaps he had been right all along. His ex-husband was bad news. With bitterness in his heart, Franklin did all he could to settle back into the life of the Stirlings once more. He became cold and aloof again, just as Alfred had taught him.

Perhaps Alfred was only raising his children in such a way because he knew that life was harsh. Life could only be tolerated if it were done with a cautious guardedness. Like Edmund, Franklin learned better than to defy that life lesson.

Edmund could acknowledge that he and Franklin were the same; it was just about time Franklin came to understand that as fact too. With his hands tucked in the warmth of his coat pockets, Edmund wandered towards the bar in Flintlock’s village, the bell jingling softly as he nudged the door open to find his older brother sitting alone at the bar, taking a sip of lager. ❝ Thought I’d find you here. ❞ Edmund acknowledged, chin tipping upwards in greeting as Franklin glanced over his shoulder towards Edmund dully. ❝ Yeah? ❞  He returned with a restrained murmur. Ed huffed a soft breath, sliding onto a nearly barstool. ❝ Yeah… I was thinking... ❞ He glanced around the quiet bar, unmanned since the passing of Frederick. ❝ how would you like taking over the bar as your own? ❞ Frank looked over towards Ed, eyes squinting almost suspiciously before nodding his head slowly. Carefully. ❝ Yeah. I can do that.❞

Whatever could tie Franklin down to Flintlock, Edmund would do his best to keep his brother around.

❝ Well, as the new owner, ❞ Frank put down his now-empty glass as he stood up. ❝ how about a drink on me? ❞ He looked over at his brother, straight-faced, as Edmund shook his head slowly with a glimmer of a smile. There was the brother Edmund had missed — his snide, dry sense of humour. ❝ Sure. ❞ Eddie returned, drumming his fingers on the bar counter as Frank went to pour the both of them a drink. A lager for Frank and a glass of whiskey for Eddie; Frank still knew his brother well, despite their differences.


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