So doesn't have right align so my apologies for the very weird formatting.


"You can't fight… gravity."

Arthur had been watching Dutch, he always did, so when Dutch started to turn, he knew what he was going to do, though even still he pressed, guiding, against his arm, shoving Arthur ahead of him, keeping his body between his son and the soldiers closest, as they jumped

and they fell

and they fell

and they fell

He yelled, the sound torn from his throat, ripped out of his decaying lungs without his control,

and it burned

and it burned

and it burned

But Dutch was silent, he'd had more time to brace himself, to make a plan and he'd known what they were going to do where Arthur had been taken by surprise, had been waiting for Dutch to pull some ace out of his sleeve, had half expected for them to be shot dead ("This is it! This is...") if Dutch did something foolish as he'd been doing so often lately, and they still might die, he'd seen men die when hitting water from much lower heights.

The river was like a punch, a blow to his entire body. He gasped, breath knocked from him, and got a mouthful of frigid water. He lunged for the surface, choking all the while, eyes burning and lungs screaming

and it burned

and it burned

and it burned

Bullets thudded into the water around him, potshots taken at fleeing, suicidal outlaws, pain lanced through his shoulder and he lurched forward, only able to focus on the black blur ahead of him that was Dutch, if he could reach Dutch then… he didn't know what, didn't know then what, but he needed to reach Dutch.

The rapids slammed him into a rock, he went under again, pink water pluming from his mouth as he choked, as his lungs constricted, as he coughed and twisted and turned

and tumbled

and tumbled

and tumbled

He thrashed, struck out and hoped he was swimming upward, tasted the copper that spilled from decomposing lungs in a living body, gasped as he broke the surface—tried to, at least, as his lungs constricted, splattered blood down his chin,

"Here, oh, don't give up now!"

Dutch.

He went beneath again, lurched up, managed to suck in a breath, if only barely, as though he were breathing through the barrel of a gun shoved into his mouth. Dutch knelt on the river bank, reaching out though Arthur was so far away, and though he felt so weak, felt weightless, felt as though he should just give in and let himself sink to the bottom of the river, give in to the black that clawed at the edges of his vision, Dutch had only just lost Hosea, had only just lost Molly, and he refused to make him watch his son die before his eyes.

Dutch,

Dutch

Dutch!

He lurched forward, and only just managed to catch Dutch's hand, wouldn't have made it if Dutch hadn't lunged forward to grab his forearm with his other hand. He choked, and he coughed water stained pink, but at least for a while

he survived

and survived

and survived

"We can't fight… gravity."

Arthur was standing beside him, watching him out of the corner of his eye. He was whole, he was hale, he was healthy. Last he'd seen him, he'd been on the ground, looking up at him, face bloody and black and blue

and he'd been dying

and he'd been dying

and he'd been dying

But just like the last time they'd stood together on a cliff, side by side, not the Father towering over the dying Son, the man was healthy, head facing John as he watched him out of the corner of sad, worried blue eyes, ("Follow my lead. I got a plan. This is a good one."), waiting for Dutch to get them out of this.

He had a plan.

and it's a good one.

and it's his last one.

Last time, though, Arthur hadn't looked healthy. And out of the corner of his eye, where he could only just see Arthur, the sun shimmering through him, never looking away from John, he could see his skin turn parchment-pale, eyes sink into his face as his skin sucked in, clung to his bones, veins turning starkly red against the whites of his eyes.

His mouth worked, though what he was saying he was only barely aware of. John was telling him to give up, but he couldn't, couldn't he see that? He'd raised him better than that or, maybe, he hadn't. He had no notes, no script like he used to write, and even if he had it wouldn't have been of any use—John had grown up, was talking back, though he was still working for someone else, had never learned to think for himself,

and that was his fault.

and he'd raised him.

and he'd failed him.

Dutch shifted back, his heels at the edge of the cliff, and his mind was the clearest it had been in years, it had only last been this clear when he'd looked into Arthur's eyes as he was dying, and how long it had been before that he couldn't say.

and Dutch preached

and he preached

and he preached

"Our time has come, John," and where he'd jumped before he allowed himself to tip over backwards, the wind rushing in his ears; this time there was no screaming, Arthur had twisted as he leapt, though his mouth was open in a yell there was a disconcerting silence, and Dutch's arms were out though he were bound to a cross

and he died

and he died

and he died