"So what's the plan? Your great plan to save Arthur Morgan?" Arthur asked from one of the cushioned chairs in the lobby of the Strawberry hotel. He shifted uncomfortably, more used to the hard leather of a saddle than the incredibly soft seat.

"I'm thinking," Sadie replied, pacing back and forth. "We're gonna have to find a preacher somewhere."

Arthur scoffed. "You seriously believed what that doctor said? If he can't help me, a preacher certainly can't. Not that any ever would, I'm bad as bad can be." He looked up at her sadly. "Look, why're you so dead-set on helping me with this? I'm gone, or at least I will be. You should be out lookin' for somebody who can be there for you. Somebody better than me."

Sadie stopped in front of him, bending down and placing one hand on the armrest. She leaned in close, grabbing his collar with her other hand. "Don't you dare try to push me away, Morgan. I already lost the love of my life once, and I sure as hell ain't doing that again." She kissed him forcefully, then pulled back.

Arthur's face was set in a cute little look of confusion. "Oh."

Sadie chuckled, then returned to her pacing. "So, where are we gonna find a preacher?" Her eyes snapped up. "What about the Reverend?"

Arthur burst out in laugher. "Swanson? He don't have a holy bone left in him. He oughta be looking for the same help we are." He cradled his face in his hand, dissolving into hysterics.

Sadie growled in frustration. "Okay, there's gotta be somebody we can go to." There had to be somebody that could help Arthur. There had to be something she could do.

Arthur sobered quickly. "Well, I heard a while back something about a cathedral in Saint Denis," he suggested. "Maybe we try there?"

"Yes, definitely," Sadie said, her mind rushing ten steps past that. Even if they couldn't help Arthur, the people there would almost certainly be able to call in experts from around the world. If they weren't able to help Arthur... she'd figure something out. She had to. The only question was how they would get there.

"Should- should I get us some train tickets?" She asked Arthur.

"I thought we'd just ride there," Arthur said.

"No, we are definitely not doing that," Sadie replied sternly. "You could barely walk from here to the doctor's. No way are you riding from here to Lemoyne."

"Well I ain't takin' a train," Arthur countered, stubborn as ever. "I've had enough of trains for the week, thank you."

Sadie pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration. "Fine, I'll get us a stagecoach. How's that sound?"

Arthur nodded in affirmation. "Sounds good, but it's gonna take some time to get there by stagecoach. I think the only safe crossing on the Dakota for stages is Cumberland Falls, and they can't cross that very quickly."

"Christ, it'll take days to reach Saint Denis." Sadie scratched her chin thoughtfully. "We should probably stop by camp on the way, make sure they're okay."

Arthur nodded once more.


Sadie looked out the window of the stagecoach, watching the landscape slowly pass by.

Day one of the stagecoach ride had been slow going. The horses got spooked by a cougar on the way out of Strawberry, so the driver had to get off and spend the next hour trying to calm the horses. Once that was done, it was smooth riding to Cumberland Falls. The crossing was slow, as Arthur had predicted. Sadie had been afraid they would topple over and go straight over the falls. Thankfully, they'd gotten across without incident. They stopped for the night in Valentine, then started for Rhodes in the morning. They reached it by sunset, staying another night at a saloon. They left the stagecoach at Rhodes to continue to camp, leaving the driver with the promise they'd be back the next day.

They walked to camp, having stabled the horses in Strawberry. They'd be transported via train in order to meet them at Saint Denis.

They approached camp, and were stopped by Sean, who'd been on guard duty.

"HALT! Who's there?" He shouted.

Sadie replied, "Sadie and Arthur!"

"Christ alive! The two of ya's been gone awhile, ain't ya?" He laughed. Behind him and toward the camp, he shouted, "DUTCH! They're back!"

The camp exploded with activity as everyone dropped what they were doing to come and see what was going on. Abigail put down some knitting, Jack stopped playing with his toys. Hosea put down his book, Micah stopped spinning his guns. The O'Driscoll boy left the horses to graze. Hell, Uncle woke up. Everyone pressed around them, asking what had happened, where they'd been, why they were gone so long. Then, a single booming voice drowned them all out.

"ARTHUR!" Dutch shouted over the ring of people. "You're back!"

Arthur grinned. "Yeah. We're back, me and Sadie."

"Where have you been?" Dutch asked.

"Oh, just around. Up near Strawberry. Sadie wanted to get me a new horse."

"Must be some horse. You've been gone for days!"

Arthur scratched the back of his head nervously. "Yeah, that only took the first day."

"Did you spend the rest enjoyin' your woman, Morgan?" Micah laughed. He stopped abruptly when Miss Grimshaw cuffed him over the head.

"No. I had some, uh," Arthur paused, pondering how much to tell them. "Problems, needed to be dealt with."

"What kind of problems, son?" Dutch asked. By now, the ring had opened to let Dutch in. He stood before them, fiddling with his watch chain.

"Uh... my health, ain't been so good the past few days." Arthur removed his hat, nervously fiddling with the brim. "We're, uh... we ain't gonna be stayin'. We gotta head into Saint Denis to see some people. That'll take a day, but depending on what they tell me, it might be a while before I'm back to normal."

"What?!" Dutch boomed. Sadie saw Arthur wince. They'd both known this would happen. No way would Dutch just let Arthur disappear for weeks, not with the way he depended on him. "You're abandoning us?"

"No, Dutch!" Arthur protested. "I ain't sayin' that!"

"Twenty years you've been with us, Arthur, and now you're gonna leave us behind because you're not feeling well? Where did your loyalty go?" Dutch fumed. "You're going to throw us all away just like that?"

"Hold on just a goddamn minute!" Sadie yelled, silencing them both. She interposed herself between them, facing Dutch. "Arthur's been nothin' but loyal to you for twenty years! In the time I've been here, I ain't seen anybody work as hard as him for the camp! I've watched him go without sleep and food in order to hunt and get money! He takes time away from this for his health ONCE, and you're all of a sudden thinkin' he'll leave all of you behind? No! He's gonna be back, he just needs some goddamn time!"

Dutch spluttered. "But we need him here! He needs to-"

"I ain't done TALKIN', Mr. Van Der Linde!" Sadie roared with an authority in her voice to rival Miss Grimshaw. He fell silent. "Arthur wouldn't be doin' this if it weren't for me. I told him he needed to get looked at by a doctor. I dragged him, kickin' and screamin', to a doctor. And now I'm draggin' his ass to Saint Denis so he can get some goddamn help!"

She was stopped from saying more by Arthur, who bent over, clutching his head. Sadie took hold of his shoulder. Once he recovered, Hosea stepped forward to stand beside Dutch.

"Arthur," he began, "what exactly did you say was the problem with your health?"

Arthur looked to Sadie. She couldn't tell quite what he was asking her for, her recommendation or her permission. She nodded all the same and turned to address Abigail. "You best cover his eyes. Ain't somethin' the boy should see." The other woman, albeit with a confused look, heeded her, guiding the boy away from the circle. Sadie turned back to Arthur. "Go ahead. Show 'em."

Arthur nodded slightly, then flinched as though struck. He growled in pain, his voice beginning to change to the one she knew as Deadeye. His face began to burn away, and Sadie heard gasps from the others. She sympathized with their reaction. Watching this was never a pleasant sight, regardless of familiarity.

Deadeye seemed to have changed once more. The skull, once a dirty, stained white, was now an sooty, cracked gray. The cracks themselves glowed, the hellfire beneath barely contained. His eyes glowed in the same fashion. Once he was finished, he straightened and stood before them.

They reacted almost as Sadie expected. The women were terrified. Karen turned away and leaned into Sean, who took her in his arms while tears fell from his eyes, a rarity for the Irishman. Abigail did the same with John, picking up Jack so he would be between them, safe from what they were witnessing. Miss Grimshaw put a hand to her mouth, horror in her eyes. The men stood stock still, their minds not believing the sight before them. Micah looked down, an infinite number of indecipherable emotions flitting across his face. Swanson looked up to the heavens and prayed. Hosea and Dutch were frozen in shock.

Eventually, Hosea spoke, his voice shaky. "How- How long has this been..."

Sadie chose to reply in place of Arthur, seeing as he was presently absent. "Since Eliza and Isaac. He told me."

Hosea took a shaky breath. "My poor boy... it's been this way all this time?"

"No. It wasn't like this until about a few weeks ago, up at Hanging Dog Ranch."

Movement from Deadeye caught her eye, and she turned to see him. He raked his baleful gaze across the gang, as if looking through them at the stains upon their souls from past misdeeds. His movement stopped, and he stared at something she didn't see. She turned to follow his gaze and saw Micah, his eyes twitching in fear. She heard Deadeye growl next to her, an eerie, otherworldly rumbling. She turned to see him with his right hand hovering over his sidearm, ready to draw. She grabbed his wrist, the touch causing him to shift his eyes to her. She met his hellfire evenly.

"No. We're gettin' you help first," she said calmly but firmly. "Anything else comes after."

He opened his mouth to protest, then closed it and simply growled in affirmation. He lowered his head, and Sadie heard a quiet rushing of air. Arthur returned, bringing his head back up. He breathed deeply, turning to face the rest of them.

"Did I miss something?" He asked, shit-eating grin on his face. Sadie punched his arm. His grin faded as nobody moved, and he frowned at their terrified expressions. "Everyone okay?" He asked tentatively.

"I think I speak for those assembled when I say no, no we are not," Hosea's voice cut cleanly through the late afternoon air. "What..." His voice cracked, and he took a moment to compose himself. "What happened to you, Arthur?"

"I haven't changed," Arthur said, holding his hand out to Hosea. He took the older man's hand, holding it in both of his own. "I'm still Arthur, scars and all."

"At first, I thought the same as all of you right now," Sadie said. "I thought he was a monster, sent from Hell to drag me down for what I'd done. But beneath that, he's still Arthur, he's still the good man you know." Arthur scoffed and shook his head at being called a good man once again. One would think that he'd have picked up on what other people were seeing from how often he was called that.

Hosea remained still, then stepped forward, catching Arthur in as tight a hug as the smaller man could give. As he pulled back, he took Arthur's face in his hands and looked directly into his eyes. "It really is you, Arthur," he said with a watery laugh. "No other man is as hard on himself as you." At hearing Hosea's words of confidence, everyone around visibly relaxed. He shook Arthur's hand. "We'll miss you, my boy. Take all the time you need."

He stepped aside to allow the next person to say their goodbye, as awkward as it might be. Sadie moved aside as well to allow more space around Arthur. The entire Marston family stepped forward as one. Jack, having only heard the preceding conversation, hugged him around his legs, while Abigail hugged him around the torso. John shook Arthur's hand with both of his own. "Thank you, brother," he said quietly. "Thank you for helping my family." Arthur simply nodded.

The next person to step up was Charles. He shook Arthur's hand, putting his other hand over the top of their joined ones. "Good hunting, my friend." Arthur smiled in response.

As Sadie watched each gang member say their cautious, guarded goodbyes, she was startled by a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see Hosea smiling behind her. She tipped her hat in respect. "Mr. Matthews."

"Oh, I think we're well past formalities at this point, if the length of your trip was any indication. Just call me Hosea."

"Alright, but like Arthur said, nothing happened. We just-"

"I trust Arthur's word that nothing happened," Hosea cut her off. "He's never been the sort to go that far that fast in a relationship. I meant that he very clearly loves you, and that you feel the same. I hope his choice of love is sound. You're a smart girl, Sadie Adler. Take care of him, and treat him right." He took her hand and shook it once. She nodded in agreement.

The last person to bid Arthur farewell was Dutch, who fidgeted off to the side while everyone else made heartfelt goodbyes. After they had finished and dispersed, he stepped up and shook Arthur's hand. "You get well and be back soon, son. We need you."

"I know, Dutch," Arthur replied.

Dutch turned around. "Miss Grimshaw," he called softly. "Would you be so kind as to have Arthur's things made ready to leave? Mrs. Adler's as well."

The older woman nodded, heading off to get one of the girls to help her.

Before anything else could be done or said, the air was split by a loud Irish voice.

"Arthur! Get over here!" Sean beckoned to them, and they crossed the clearing to join him at the table.

"Me and the boys," he gestured to the younger men of the gang, not including Kieran, "have decided to give the two of ya's a last send off. A goin' away party, if you will."

"Oh you don't have to-" Arthur began.

"Nonsense!" Sean interrupted him. "You've saved each of us a dozen times at least, Arthur. This is the least we can do to repay our debt to ya."

Arthur sighed heavily, and Sean, sensing victory, leaped into the air and whooped.

"Tonight, boys, we drink!"


And that's the end of the chapter. This took some time, as I wanted to get the reactions right. I hope that it doesn't come off like Sadie and Arthur convinced them too quickly. I was gonna add in some more goodbyes, but I thought it was getting repetitive. People keep noticing that I lean heavily toward Ghost Rider in descriptions of Deadeye's appearance. Not really the intent, but I decided to go full tilt into it with this one.

I have made an executive decision as the author that for the most part, this story will break from the main Red Dead 2 story. Sorry, I just don't really know how I would write that stuff in. I have enough on my plate as it is. Speaking of which, the next chapter may take as long as this one, if not longer. I have some big changes coming up, some big decisions to make. I will get back to y'all with content as soon as I can.

Thanks to everyone who reviews this garbage content. Your praise warms my dead heart. Until next time, semper fidelis.