Closed - Content Warning Trigger Finger
There is at least one in every town. In Madsmoor there was at least one. This one was named Arnold Richfeld, he came from one of the many poorer families in town. The man was the same size around as he was tall, he was bald, pink as a pig, and beady eyed as one too. The large man was known for his strength and having no sense of humor. Most people were wise enough to step carefully around him, as the butcher's assistant he almost seemed to delight in preparing the meat for selling. 

Today, the bitter cold didn't seem to bother him. He wore no jacket, just his dirty brown clothes with some faint blood stains from a hard day's work. He was heading to the pub early after getting his work done and the butcher letting him off as it would be a quiet day. His temper was foul as his breath as he walked down the street. The dark, dismal day had him wanting to do nothing but fill his belly with beer as his eyes stared at the footsteps left behind in the snow. Because he was focused on nothing in particular, he didn't pay attention before he ran into the boy. 

For almost anyone else in the village, it would have been a moment of annoyance, perhaps a few choice words. For him, it was something personal without reason. He wanted a reason to let out his pent up anger at his day to day life, and he found it. The dark gaze from the man fell upon him as he made his way towards one of the more mischievous kids of the street.
” ‘Ey! Watch where you’re goin’!” Fred said indignantly, as he twirled around to face the man who’d just barged into him. Of course, he’d just run out of a narrow by-way, ahead of a few other boys of the same status and character as himself – that is to say, poor and prone to making trouble, for themselves as well as for others. When he caught sight of who exactly he’d run into – or who had run into him – his face twisted into a disdainful, mocking sneer.

”Oh, excuse me Mr. Piggy. ‘Course we can’t reckon you’d do aught but take up the whole bleedin’ sidewalk.”

It was a dangerous game – taunting the rotund man who wielded a butcher’s cleaver with such expertise. But there was no reason to believe he’d be armed at the moment. Beside, Fred was already leaping away, and Richfield, that porker, could never hope to catch him.

Unfortunately for Fred, he’d sort of forgotten about all the snow, and patches of ice underneath. His foot slipped, and down he went, right at Richfield’s feet.
Content Warning: Violence

The man stared at the boy that insulted him and ran into him. He was a mountain of a man and as the boy ran and slipped, his constant frown moved. It curled into a snarl and he pulled back his leg before kicking the boy away.

"Think yir funny do ya?" He moved to the kid slowly to grab him , wanting to introduce his face to a stone wall. He didn't like being made fun of, and he only knew of one way to teach a brat a lesson.
In addition to the sharp pain caused by falling on his arse, Fred was treated to one every bit as painful, when Richfield's boot connected with his side. The kick was somewhat buffered by Fred's coat. But the coat was thin and Fred let out a cry of surprise, pain and anger. He hardly had time to process any of it though, for immediately the fat man was upon him. Richfield moved fast for a man so heavy! Fred felt himself grabbed, and yanked partially to his feet, as his hands reached to struggle and push against the butcher's man. He tried to grab a hold of any body part he could, and found an ear and a jowl, which he gripped tightly, at least for a moment. His voice joined the chorus of the other boys, in protest, as he repeatedly yodeled for Richfield to let him go.
Arnold sneered in disgust as the waifish young man tried to fight back. "Too many kids. Everyday. Doin wha you like. You think you own this town or som'th'n?" He grabbed him by the collar and lifted him up before slapping him hard across the face.

"I will show you. Who owns this town." He kneed the boy hard in the stomach before dropping him to the ground and he kicked one of the boy's legs. He wasn't trying to kill the kid, but he was going to make the kid not bother him again. Perhaps no one else. The large man spit at him.
The boy's struggling really was futile, just as the vitriol that spewed from the man's piggy mouth was falling on deaf ears. Fred could hardly be expected to listen, when in the next moment, a beefy hand with fingers like sausages cracked across his face. He saw stars, and suddenly he realized, he had messed with entirely the wrong man. Fear stabbed through him, just as his cheek and jaw sent stabs of pain into his skull. His hands still gripped onto Richfield, but it was a death grip of terror, as he tried to feebly put distance between himself and that man's fist.

But it wasn't the fist that found him next.

The knee to his gut felt like he'd been struck with a great log, or stone. The air left his lungs and he couldn't draw new, and pain and shock flew through his core. He thought maybe he'd heard a rib cracking down there, somewhere, near his midrift. Now his eyes closed, and he was close to swooning, all the fight gone out of him. His hands came away, and as Richfield released his own grip, Fred fell to the snow covered ground in a heap. A trickle of blood came from his mouth, where the slap had cut the inside of his cheek against his teeth, and also managed to split his lip. Then one more kick - this time to his thigh, and Fred groaned and tried to roll into a ball, covering his head with his hands. He was crying now, no more tough guy. He didn't even feel the gob of spit that hit the back of his hand where it covered his filthy hair. His cap had fallen off.

One of his friends had already run off, to find Ed. The others, sensing more trouble, were half of a mind to stay, and see what happened next, and half of a mind to flee, before the law showed up. None of them had any notion to come to Fred's aid. That would have been a suicide mission. They could only hope the bastard would stop waling on poor Feddy and get the fuck out.
The huge man felt somewhat satisfied as he saw the broken, bloodied boy. He looked to the others who hadn't fled. "Don't come near me, or this'll be you!" He kicked the boy in the shoulder once more, much lighter this time and stomped off to continue his day as if nothing had happened.

Ed wasn't told much, but that his brother was hurt. He didn't think it was serious, they got into scrapes all of the time. But when he saw him, he felt his heart stop. He ran to his side as fast as he could and skidded in the snow, nearly tumbling. He tried to look over his brother but didn't even know what he was seeing, what was broken or just scraped and bruised.

He cradled his head as he started to loose his vision when tears filled his eyes. He screamed in anger and helplessness as he rocked his head. "Fred.. fred.. what 'appened!! Who did this to ya?!!" He wanted answers. As his voice cracked and he wiped his nose , he looked at the others for answers before screaming.

"Find a bloody doctor!"
The last blow was hardly felt. All he knew was that he felt pain in every part of his body, and that the horrible man had left. He stayed curled up in a ball, not trying to move, not sure that he could move. A couple of his mates came and knelt beside him, cursing the butcher's man and offering to help Fred get up. He made no ready answer. He was crying but silently.

Then...his twin was there.

Yes they fought each other a lot, but that was nothing more than squabbling, really. When it came down to it, they always had each other's backs, in a world that had never been friendly towards them. Fred, though taller, was younger by a few minutes, and had always played the follower to Ed's more bold mischief. His eyes finally opened back up and he looked at Ed, who was beside himself with rage. Fred had never seen his brother like this before. Never!

In a small voice, Fred nearly whispered the name. "Richfield. It were...Richfield. I didn't do nothin' Ed. Nothin'. He jus'....laid into me. I thought 'e was gonna kill me."

He swallowed, a gob of blood, and groaned, in earnest. There was no faking or acting here. He was in serious pain. One of their friends ran off, maybe to fetch a doc, as Ed had commanded. Fred just lay there, not knowing what was to come next, and only really wanting to be home, where it might be a bit warmer, for he was feeling mighty cold.
TW: violence

Ed looked at his face in shock. "The butcher pig? " He looked to the others for confirmation and as they nod, he hung his head. There was a fire in his eyes as he looked at his brother and smoothed back his hair to try to soothe his brother who was in unspeakable pain.  A tall figure came and brought him out of his thoughts. It was one of the other's mothers. She wasn't exactly nice but she was kind enough to pick him up after being alerted and sounded like he'd be taken to the hospital.

Ed stood there silently a moment with some of his brother's blood on his hands and clothes. He looked down and clenched his fists before running home.

A little while later, while Arnold was laughing in the pub after a few drinks, he noticed someone come up beside him but didn't care to look as it was a bit crowded. The voice calling his name wasn't even really heard over the dull roar of the constant talking.

What they did hear was the screaming. Ed had carefully lined up a small kitchen blade he'd snatched from his kitchen. Then he slammed down his palm upon the knife, completely severing the digit. As the man roared in pain and held up his bloody hand, Ed ran back from the others, holding up the bloody knife defensively.

"Ev'ry time ya look at yer 'and, you'll rememb'r wha' you did ta my brother!! You touch 'im again and it'll be yer nose next!!" He shouted at the man, finally being heard. Before the group of men could grab him, he slipped out and ran.

He managed to get to the hospital to wait for his brother to wake up. He was sure the constable was coming for him, but until then he waited at his side. In his lap was a small bundle of cloth that had seeped red but stopped. It was a gift to show him that he wouldn't let any one hurt him again, no matter what.
Perhaps it was the relative warmth of the hospital, which might have seemed drafty and chill to some, but felt like a balmy hothouse to a boy whose own home regularly went without fuel for the miserable hearth. Perhaps it was the mind and body's way of dealing with the stress and pain of the assault, to shut down temporarily so as not to feel the lingering fear and the throb of damaged tissue here, there and everywhere. Whatever the cause, Fred had fallen into a fitful, light slumber, after he'd been examined. The diagnosis was a tooth that was loose enough that it should probably come out, lacerations inside his cheek and on his tongue, a cut and swollen lip, a bruised and swollen cheek and jaw, bruised ribs - though they had not ruled out the possibility of one being cracked - a bruise to his thigh, and, most problematic, possible internal injuries where the hefty man had first kicked Fred in the left side and then slammed his knee into the much smaller boy's gut.

The advent of surgery to remove a damaged spleen had not yet arrived. The treatment in 1899 and wait, and pray if you believed in such things as a god that cared. His skin pale, a light sheen of sweat on his face, which was beginning to bloom with the color of subcutaneous blood pooling, Fred lay on the hospital bed breathing shallowly.

He stirred, and his eyelids lifted, and he turned his head, to see his twin sitting there. "Ed..." he mumbled, keeping his eyes on his older brother's face.
He immediately stood at the word and seeing his other half awake. He looked at him, biting his lip as he didn't care about the package falling to the floor and rolling underneath the miserable excuse for a bed. He took his hand in his and stared at him, tears returning to his already cried out face.

"Fred! I'm 'ere!! 'Ow.. 'ow do ya feel?" He knew it couldn't be good. He looked like death and it made everything in his body feel like it was draining into a heavy lump in his stomach.
Seeing the tears in his twin's eyes was startling more than it was touching. It had been since....forever...that Fred had seen Ed cry. Ed was the tough one, the bold one, and of late, the mean one, and Fred felt a little panicky as he saw how worried Ed looked.

Little did he know that part of the reason for the emotional maelstrom that gripped his brother had just rolled off his lap and onto the floor under the bed.

"I 'urt...all over. That bastard did for me, Ed. 'E did for me good. Gawd, I 'ates 'im, I does."
Seeing him open his eyes and talk sent Ed's spirit high as he thought he would definitely pull through. He nearly hiccuped from the crying he was so upset but his lips turned up into a weak smile.

"Ye scared me, ye did. Oh! I got ye something." He dipped down and had to get on his knees to stretch under the hospital bed. He then stood and wiped at his nose as his other hand presented the bloody gift to his twin.

"I got 'im back for ye. 'E'd be a fool ta touch ye again I think."He gave him a small proud smile.
Fred hadn't known what to expect - at the idea that his twin had "got him something" but then had to go rummaging under the bed to find it. He lifted his hand, opening it to receive whatever it was, with great curiosity. When Ed deposited the gruesome appendage, for a moment Fred was nonplussed, not knowing what it was. He used his other hand to unwrap it and....almost flung it back on the floor. His face froze and he looked horrified, to see the bloody finger there in the palm of his hand.

But then, because he was a boy raised so rough, without any real sense of right and wrong,other than that the strongest, meanest people win in this life, Fred laughed. He instantly regretted it, as pain shot through his upper left quadrant. But every movement reminded him of who had won - and who had lost - the battle with Richfield (which, in his own mind, he hadn't even asked for). And he was glad - ecstatic - that Ed had so championed his revenge. He looked at the awful thing with a ghoulish joy, saying, "Cor! Is it really 'is?" His eyes lifted to his older brother in admiration. "Now 'ow in the 'ell did 'ee do that Ed?"

For the moment, he had no fear that the law and society might look amiss on his twin. Why, he'd had the literal stuffings kicked out of him by that bugger, and no-one was likely to do aught about it, were they now?
Ed laughed lightly to see the joy in his brother's eyes. It made him feel so much better and he knew it was the perfect gift. "Oi, ye think I'd take just any one's fing'r? 'E was just drink'n, didn't even notice me 'til I took it!" He said proudly, looking pleased like a cat who just gifted their owner a bird or a rat.

Just then, footsteps were heard. He didn't even know there were that many people in the hospital . All hope dropped like a stone in his stomach as he saw the scarecrow of a constable come in with a few people from the pub including the pig man himself.

"Edward.." That long nosed rat man said to him and Edward scowled. "You know what you did, you have to come with me. "

Ed would have fought, but he didn't want to upset Fred. He gave his brother a dear smile and gently hugged him. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Just got to tell the idiot 'e don't know how ta be a const'ble." He laughed and lightly ruffled his brother's hair. "You get bett'r 'n get some sleep."

He turned to join Elijah and the men, puffing out his chest and glaring at Arnold with no remorse.

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