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Long Way to Liberty

Chapter Text

“Get in here, bitch!”

Your father grabbed you by your hair and arm and practically dragged you into the sitting room. You screamed and thrashed around but he was much stronger than you.

“Did you really think you were going to run away with that sorry fool?”

Tears were now pooling in the corners of your eyes as you watched him in terror “You killed him!” you sobbed. “You’re a murderer!”

In an instant he released your arm and backhanded you, letting go of your hair in the process. You yelped and fell onto the floor, tears now streaming down your cheeks.

“He had it coming!” He sneered.

You sat there with one hand cupping your stinging cheek as you sobbed quietly.

“You’re not going to be leaving this house until you marry William!” He roared.

“I’ll never marry that pig!” You retorted though you instantly regretted it. You were grabbed by one of your arms and yanked up. You cried out in pain and felt another stinging pain on the other side of your face. Blood was trickling down from your nose now and you brought your hand up to shield yourself.

“You’re lucky he even wants to marry you after that bastard defiled you. You’re a shame to this family!” He shoved you back forcefully and you fell onto the floor with a loud thud. “Clean yourself up.” And with that he left.

As you laid there quietly weeping you wondered what you did to deserve this life. This was your life now, your reality. The man you love was dead because of your father and you were to be wed to the son of one of your father’s associates to seal a business deal, and that was solely to save your father as he was now practically penniless. You didn’t want to believe he would go as far as to sell his own daughter but it was definitely beneath him. He was a wretched, greedy bastard after all. He only cared about his business and his well-being. If only you had successfully gotten away with Robert.

Oh Robert.

You still couldn't believe he was gone. You wept even more as the image of his lifeless body flashed through your mind. Your father was the one who shot him in cold blood. He was many horrible things and now being a murderer was one of the latest additions. All you can feel now was hate towards that man. He ruined your life.

Oh how you wished your mother were still alive. She was the only one that truly loved you. Ever since her death things had only gotten worse. Your father wasn’t that much of a loving man to begin with but he did love your mother dearly. As for you? Well if only you were born a male he would have had love towards you. Your mother couldn’t bear anymore children after you were born so he was—as he would call it—stuck with you.

You still remember the first time he had blamed you for your mother’s death. And being only eleven and naive at that time? Well, you ate it all up. It was a constant reminder from then on, even going as far as to wishing you were the one in her place.

Not ever in your life have you known true raw fear until your father had started getting physically abusive towards you. He was known for his temper after all and you’ve witnessed his abusive side towards the help. The memory of the first time he ever laid a hand on you still burned at the back of your mind and the assaults only got worse from there, you had a few scars to prove that. Everything you did or said seemed to anger him even more as time passed. You suffered a lot but you also found one thing that helped you through it, that being Roberts’s companionship.

Of course, when your father found out about him all hell was unleashed. The two of you managed to sneak around a couple of times, it wasn't much difficult with him being the coachman and all. One day his proposal to elope and move to the west came. You were beyond ecstatic to say the least. You didn’t care if he was poor, you loved him and that’s all that mattered.

But now that prospect of happiness with him—that small light of hope—was snuffed out completely. All that was left in its place now was a gaping hole in your chest. It was cruel and unfair. Which is why you knew you couldn’t stay any longer in this house, waiting for what seemed like a death sentence. You weren’t gonna marry that bastard. You were done being a puppet and a punching bag. You were done suffering. From now on you’ll be in charge of your own destiny.

So it was that night that you’ve finally said enough. You were going to be free.

Three months. You could hardly believe that much time had passed already. And in a fingersnap, so it seemed. You had found a small, rundown abandoned cabin to settle in after working for a local farm. You were still getting the hang of living on your own, selling your knitting work and learning how to pick the right herbs. It was definitely a work in progress. You were barely getting by but you were happy at least.

Of course, you were careful to tell people your identity. You learned that the hard way when a bounty hunter came looking for you and almost caught you after he identified you. You were lucky to make a quick escape. The bastard of your father just couldn’t leave you be. You thought that maybe after all this time he would have given up but he was persistent. You kept seeing a few more hunters after that but now that you’ve moved far out into this cabin there hadn't been a trace of them.

Still, you didn’t let your guard down and you were right not to. The visit to town today confirmed your fear that you still weren’t safe. This time it was a posse, five men to be exact. After purchasing what little food you could afford and asking the clerk not to say anything, you quickly slipped away undetected and made it to the outskirts of town.

All was going perfectly well until you rounded the corner of an abandoned building and bumped into someone. You quickly apologized as you looked up and were met by a tall handsome man with sandy brown hair. He quickly reassured you and tipped his hat. “You have yourself a wonderful day, ma’am.”

“Thank you you too.” You quickly replied with a tight lipped smile, hoping you didn’t appeared nervous as you began to walk away. Your hold on your basket tightened as you scanned your vicinity. There was no one around but you were still nervous so you picked up your pace.

You made it halfway home when a sudden snapping of twigs prompted you to swiftly whip around and found the same man you bumped into earlier. Your eyes widened a bit and you opened your mouth to speak but he spoke up first, calling you by your full name. Shit.

“That’s you am I right? I was told I was gonna get paid handsomely by bringing you in.”

Your stomach dropped and you were sure you were devoid of all color on your face now. The worn out cattleman revolver in your apron seemed to weigh a ton all of sudden. This man was brawny and there was no way you would get away from him once he had you in his grip. The prospect of going back to those two abusive assholes chilled you to the bone. Panic began surfacing and you found you couldn’t breathe properly at the moment

As quickly as you could you, you dropped your basket and grabbed your revolver from your apron. “Don’t come any closer!” You warned as you aimed at him, both hands gripping the weapon.

“Whoa whoa,” the man held his hands up. “Easy there.”

“I swear I’ll shoot!” You yelled.

“Okay. Let’s not do anything stupid now.”

Panic blinded your senses and you squeezed your eyes shut before firing one shot at him. Truthfully you never used your gun. Ever. The yelp he gave out made your heart sink a little with guilt. But you weren’t going back to your old life, and you were going to hold on to that resolve no matter what it took.

Just when you thought you had victory on your side you felt a pair of strong hands enveloping you from behind, taking your gun away and throwing it onto the ground. You screamed as you thrashed in their grip but they quickly covered your mouth with a hand that had a set of rings.

“Arthur! Are you okay?” The man behind you called out as you continued struggling.

“I’m fine Dutch! Just a graze.” Arthur replied with a pained groan. “Just hold onto her.”

There was no use in screaming as they came out muffled but you did so anyways. The tears soon began to fall, though you didn’t mean to. You were both angry and afraid. There was no way you could escape now. The situation was looking rather bleak and you began to accept your fate in that instant.

Suddenly Dutch yelped and you didn’t realize the cause until you heard a familiar hiss. Snake bite. And this wasn’t just any snake, it was a poisonous one. You managed to catch a glimpse of it from the corner of your eye as it slithered away. The grip around you loosened and you took this opportunity to free yourself.

Dutch crumpled to the ground as you hurriedly stepped away from him with a look of horror on your face. You wanted to run, you really did, but something else occurred to you then. Something stupid that you might regret if it didn’t pan out like you wanted it to.

Arthur was already at his side inspecting the wound as you slowly approached them. “If I help you with that bite would you let me be free?” You asked softly, your voice slightly quivering. He stared up at you dumbfounded, unable to speak for a moment. He looked at Arthur and then back at you.

“Seems I have no choice,” he winced.

“Promise me.” You began. “You have to promise me you won’t turn me in after. I’m gonna save your life Mister.”

“Dutch.” Arthur looked at him with a stern expression as he clutched onto his own shoulder wound.

“I’ll patched him up too. I have medicine back at home it ain’t that from from here.” You gestured. At least if they tried something there you’d have the upper hand at your place with that shotgun lying under your bed.

Dutch sighed heavily before nodding. “Alright, Miss. You do that and we owe you your freedom. I never back down on my word.”

“Goddammit Dutch,” Arthur hissed as he clenched his teeth.

“C’mon son. We have no choice. Look at you, you’re bleeding a lot, and I need medicine.” He looked up at you before attempting to stand up. You held out your hand and he took it. As best as you could, along with some help from Arthur, you took a limping Dutch towards your cabin.

Once inside you had him sit at the table as you went to fetch the tonic and other first aid materials. “This will do the trick. I’ve been bitten before by one of those things.” You gave him the bottle and began to tend to the bite wound as he hissed and winced. You kept dabbing the concoction as gently as you could on his leg with a cloth before wrapping it with some white bandages.

“Thank you ma’am.”

You nodded before turning towards Arthur who was already patching himself up. “You need any help?”

“No,” he snapped. You flinched slightly but didn't say anything after that. The clearing of Dutch’s throat caught your attention then.

“Would you mind giving me a glass of water please. This medicine leaves you dry don’t it,” he chuckled slightly. You nodded and grabbed him a large glass of water. He thanked you and began taking a few sips. “I won’t turn you in anymore Miss. I can assure you. You saved my life after all and for that I’m forever grateful towards you.”

Arthur groaned slightly before heading towards the door. “I’ll wait outside.”

You watched as he stormed out, slightly annoyed at his rudeness. “Please forgive my friend here. You see, we’re in dire need of money. It’s tough out there as you know. We thought you’d be some easy money.”

“I’m sorry to hear, but you’re really helping me a great deal by not turning me in.” This seemed to have sparked his curiosity as he questioned you about your situation. You figured you didn’t have much to lose by telling him so you did. You spent a good amount of time recounting the hurtful story of your past you almost didn’t notice Arthur stepping back inside.

“So I’ve been on the run ever since. It’s been three months now and yet he hasn’t let up.” You sighed as you leaned back onto your chair with your hands clasped together on your lap.

“You know, you and I aren’t that much different.” Dutch began and Arthur couldn’t help but roll his eyes at what the other was about to unleash.

“I think that’s enough chit chat, we’ve been here for an hour. We better get going before it gets late.” Arthur gave him a look and Dutch sighed. “And we will,” he began. “Right after I make a proposal.”

“A what now?!” Arthur practically yelled. If this was going where he thought it was then he didn’t like it one bit. “Dutch…”

He waved at Arthur dismissively. “How would you like to come with us Miss. You’ll have protection, food, and shelter. There are other women and children. Well, a child. But it’s safe. They’re like family to us, you see.” He placed a hand over his chest as a sentimental gesture.

You looked at him puzzled. “I don’t understand.”

Dutch smiled and placed a hand over your shoulder. “My dear, you’re barely getting by. Look at you, you’re underweight. You seem like a good decent person that doesn’t deserve a life like this. Let me help you like you’ve helped me earlier. I owe you one after all.”

You didn’t know what to say. This man, practically a stranger, was offering you a better living situation than this one. Sure, you’ve found freedom and independence but he was right about one thing and that was that you weren’t getting proper nutrition. You’ve lost some weight and had gotten really sick twice. And being out here by yourself constantly worried and stressed? Nothing good is going to come out of that. There is strength in numbers and you knew that.

“I have to think about it.” You finally spoke.

“Well I hope you make the right decision. Tomorrow, does that sound good?”

You looked at him before looking at Arthur. He was looking at Dutch incredulously. “Are you out of your goddamn mind, Dutch?”

“Just remember, you and I aren’t very much different. In fact, we’re both runaways trying to search for a better life. Now I’ve got a grand plan. Only thing is that we have to do a series of jobs that will get us there.” He gestured with open palms.

“We’re outlaws.” Arthur blurted out curtly.

Your eyes went wide and your jaw dropped. “Outlaws? As in you kill folk and steal their money?” They didn’t look like cold-blooded killers. They looked and acted civilized and well-mannered. Well except for one of them.

Dutch glared at Arthur before looking back at you. “Yes and no. We’re outlaws but we have a code. Give and help those in need. Steal from the rich and greedy. Those that sully this country and take advantage of the weak and poor. Those wretched bastards don’t see what’s coming to them until it hits them. It’s a way of resistance against this unfair system of things. They are the monsters, not us.”

You were perplexed. You somehow understood what he was saying but at the same time it all sounded like horse crap. Outlaws were still outlaws no matter what. The law would be chasing them either way. But he was right about one thing though. Just like the law, your father would be chasing you too. Even though your circumstances and the events that led to your fleeing were different from Dutch’s and possibly his gang, you both were still running away from someone at the end of the day.

You sighed and looked down at the floor. You couldn’t believe what you were about to do. “I guess I see your point.”

Dutch nodded. “You could help us in robbing and organizing the camp.” You briefly looked over Arthur before agreeing. “Alright. I’ll go. But you better not try anything funny or else.”

“Oh believe me we won’t! You saved my life and you’ll be safe with us in return, and soon after that we’ll find a safe haven. I don’t know where exactly but I just know we’re gonna find our way.”

Arthur couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He fixed Dutch with that look of his that said this wasn’t a good idea. “I don’t know about this Dutch. We don’t know her that well. We’ve got enough problems as it is. If whoever’s chasing her finds out she’s with us…”

“Then we’ll kill him.”

You looked at Dutch with a bit of newfound awe as Arthur shook his head disapprovingly. Your life was taking a completely whole different turn now.

And somehow you were okay with that.


Chapter Text

Your transition into camp went a lot smoother than you initially thought it would be.

The girls flocked to your side and made you feel so welcomed, though they did warn you about having to do your fair share of work or Miss Grimshaw would have your head.

Of course, you understood all that perfectly well given that they’ve welcomed you into the fold and it was the least you could do. You’ve learned to do chores properly ever since escaping your abusive past so you weren’t all that incompetent.

Life for you now was getting better. For starters you’ve finally gained your normal weight after getting proper nutrition. You became more flamboyant too, your friendship with the girls had a lot to do with that although occasionally you did feel sad here and there. The men also warmed up to you too. They were even protective of you while out shopping for essentials.

The only two people that you still weren’t on friendly terms with were Molly and Arthur.

Molly, as the girls mentioned before, had always been a bit stuck up. She seemed more that way with you since you were another person that came from high society besides herself. Somehow she must have felt she had a bit of competition, especially with the way Dutch treated you. She was jealous. You didn’t mind it at all though, it wasn’t like you were going to take Dutch away from her. You had no interest in him at all nor in the love department for that matter. You were perfectly content with your friends.

Which is why it irked you how cold Arthur acted towards you at first. You thought maybe after all this time things would be a bit more amicable between you two, but he either acted indifferent or as if you were the last person he wanted to talk to. The others told you to give him time but you felt your patience wearing off as the days went by, and you never had much patience to begin with. You two constantly butted heads and never agreed on anything, occasionally getting into mini arguments here and there. It wasn’t until you two got into a full blown argument over something stupid that you decided you really didn’t like him at all. Only then did you completely gave up on the notion of pursuing a friendship with him.

Two weeks had gone by since your argument. You two still haven’t uttered a single word to one another, occasionally passing by one another and pretending the other didn’t exist. But today was different. Mary-Beth had this glint in her eyes when she told you that you three were to go into town after lunch, but you didn’t think much of it at first.

When the time came to finally leave she came up to you as she held her head. “I’m having such a terrible headache and I don’t think I’ll be able to go into town,” she feigned.

You frowned and gave her a sympathetic look. It was all her grand scheme to make Arthur and you bury the hatchet. Of course it was her idea to tell Dutch she wanted to go into town with you along with Arthur as a chauffeur.

“I’m sorry to hear that. You should lie down for a bit. Press a damp rag on your forehead. I’ll try to bring you back something to alleviate it okay?”

She simply nodded at you with a frown before handing you her handbag with the money and list of supplies inside. “The other girls are busy with their own chores so it’s just gonna be you and Arthur I’m afraid. Sorry.” And with that she headed off towards her tent, only then did she break into a small smirk that you couldn’t see.

Heaving a sigh, you walked towards the supply wagon and waited. Not a moment too soon you heard footsteps behind you. You turned and saw Arthur, his expression unreadable. “Where’s Mary—”
“Mary-Beth—” You two spoke at the same time and Arthur gestured, albeit annoyingly, for you to speak first. “Mary-Beth’s got a headache so she ain’t going no more.”

Arthur simply nodded without saying a word and climbed on. You didn’t say anything either, feeling rather awkward and slightly annoyed at the situation. You contemplated on whether to climb onto the back of the wagon instead of the front with him or better yet asking one of the other girls to accompany him, but your thoughts were interrupted when he cleared his throat. You looked away from the camp and back to him, apologizing insincerely before climbing up next to him.

The ride to town was quiet, and uncomfortably so. You kept your eyes fixated on the countryside and its wild animals prancing about. You were too caught up with the scenery that you almost didn’t notice you were already reaching the small town.

As soon as Arthur pulled up in front of the general shop you hopped off and didn’t wait for him. You were already inside and handing over the list to the clerk at the front. You smiled kindly at them before turning your head to the side and catching Arthur staring at you. He quickly looked away, gazing behind you to play it off as if he weren’t purposely staring at you.

You turned away and headed towards the candy section to grab two chocolate bars. One for you and one for Mary-Beth. You moved to the next section and grabbed a bag of candies before a rag doll caught your attention. They always reminded you of your mother and when she would bring you new ones every time she came back from the occasional business trips with your father.

Without much thought you reached over and grabbed the doll, smiling fondly as the memories of your mother came flooding back. “You still play with dolls?” You snapped into reality, rolling your eyes at Arthur’s unwarranted comment.

“No, but what’s it to you?” You gave him a sideways glance before setting the doll back into its place. “Just reminded me of when my mum used to bring me dolls whenever she came back from business trips. Those were the days…” You trailed off as you felt the beginnings of a lump forming in your throat. You immediately swallowed it back, not wanting to cave in. Not now when you were in a public space and especially not in front of him.

You were a bit surprised at his quietness then and you dared to steal a glance. He was staring at the doll thoughtfully, instantly making you wonder what was on his mind. The clerk’s sudden voice almost made you jolt and you turned to see that all the items on the list were ready. You paid for the supplies and the extra candies that you were sure to payback to the camp ledger later on.

After the clerk helped you both load up the stuff into the wagon he turned and gave you both his thanks. “I hope to see you and your wife back here soon. Goodbye now.”

Arthur grimaced and corrected him. “Oh no, she ain’t my wife. God forbid.” You clenched your teeth but forced yourself to smile at the clerk who was apologizing now.

“No worries. Mistakes happen, though I’m glad I’d never make that mistake of marrying someone like him. Can you imagine? Poor woman.” You chuckled and waved goodbye to the clerk.

That must have struck a nerve in him because he climbed onto the wagon with a sour expression and almost left you. Once you two were out of town you turned and glowered at him.

“Just what is your problem with me?” You questioned angrily.

He remained silent, eyes glued onto the dirt road ahead of him. You heaved an exasperated sigh before reaching over and pulling on the reins. His flinching away from you didn’t go unnoticed, and even then he still tried to scoot away from you as far as he possibly could in the tight space. You scooted back to your place.

“What have I done to you? Is it because I shot you? Or because you couldn’t turn me in and collect the money? I’m sorry that Dutch took me in when you didn’t want him to!” You were almost yelling now. And yet he remained expressionless. You knitted your brows together, an incredulous look overcoming your features then.

“What is wrong with you?” You threw your hands up in the air. “Why are you always so difficult? You’re so hard to understand you know that right.” You emitted an exasperated groan. He only grunted as he took back the reins and urged the horses to trot again.

“You know what? I’m done here. I can’t take this anymore.” You hopped off the wagon which caught Arthur’s attention. “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Oh so he speaks now! What does it look like I’m doing? I’m walking.” You gestured at your feet as you moved forward before crossing your arms across your torso.

“Yer ridiculous,” he muttered. “Get back on I’m not gonna play your games.”

You huffed and kept your eyes trained in front of you. “This ain’t no game, Mr. Morgan. I’m serious. I can’t stand you right now—actually I just can’t stand you at all, you’re so… insufferable!”

“I can say the same thing about you Miss Princess,” he drawled.

“Just leave me be! Or else I’m running straight back into town and scream at the top of my lungs that this reprobate is trying to kidnap me.” You picked up your pace, hiking up your skirt a bit.

“Fine. But it’s a long walk. If an animal comes and attacks you then that’s on you for being so damn ridiculous.”

“Oh you’d love that wouldn’t you?” You chuckled dryly. “Now for the last time, Leave. Me. Be.”

And so he did just that, but not without emitting a loud groan first. He cracked the reins and the horses sped up, leaving a trail of dirt behind the speeding wagon. You sighed as you looked at him disappear around a bend behind a cluster of trees. He was gonna be the death of you.

And you were gonna be the death of him.

Arthur arrived at camp and jumped off the wagon. Of course, he wasn’t gonna let you be out there all by yourself. It was dangerous and not to mention very foolish of you to do. You were one of the Van der Lindes—as much as he didn’t like the idea—and he protected everyone, no matter how irritating someone was to him at times.

He quickly got onto his own horse and left camp again. His plan was to go around so you wouldn’t see him but that option was quickly thrown aside when he spotted you in the far distance with a lone rider at your side. He took out his binoculars and saw your scared-but-trying-not-to-act-like-it expression as the lone rider gestured for you to get onto his horse.

You had been minding your own business as you ambled along the dirt path, admiring the greenery and flowers around you to even realize someone was coming up behind you. The man appeared no older than forty but they had this appearance that raised red flags. The way they looked at you sent a chill down your spine. It was such a shame that a beautiful countryside like this was home to such a man like them.

You tried to play it off like you were waiting for someone else to pick you up along the way. “No really my friends is due here any moment now. They’re just picking up something they forgot in town and I decided to take a stroll in the meantime. Lovely weather we’re having here.”

“Sure is ma’am. The offers still up if ya need it,” they drawled out. You couldn’t help but cringe before beginning to walk again, keeping your eyes onto the ground. They trotted alongside you and you cursed yourself for getting off that wagon earlier. You didn’t even have a weapon with you to scare this creepy man away. “I’m fine really.” You were beginning to get irritated and it was evident in your tone.

“Now that ain’t no way ta talk to a gentleman whose just tryin’ to escort a beautiful lady. In fact you kinda owe me now. How about we go to my place and have a few drinks, sweetheart.”

You stopped in your tracks, whipping towards the other with an angry expression on your face. “No. Leave me alone now,” you warned. The angry expression was immediately wiped from your face when they pulled out their pistol. “I said. Let’s go to my place. And have some drinks.” They said more sternly and pointed the gun at you. You swallowed thickly, your heart hammering louder than it did earlier. They got off their horse and grabbed your wrist, prompting you to scream and squirm from their grip on you.

“Let her go ya bastard!” Arthur’s voice rang through the air and you couldn’t be happier to hear him at that moment. The man did as they were told but quickly pointed their gun at Arthur. “No!” You screamed and went to yank their arm down so they wouldn’t be able to shoot him. The outlaw was quicker though as a shot rang out.

You watched as your assailant yelled out in pain and held their hand, the pistol now lying on the floor. Their horse whinnied and the man frantically climbed onto it and took off. You held onto your wrist, still feeling the pain from the other’s grip on it earlier. “Th-thank you.” Was all you could muster up as your eyes met his.

“Don’t. You were being an idiot earlier getting off the wagon.” He holstered his gun and trotted Boadicea next to you.

You blinked and scoffed. “Well if you weren’t being such a pain in the ass earlier none of this would have happened.” You gestured, an irritated expression overcoming your features. You hated how much he got under your skin, even at a time like this.

“So now it’s my fault that you became a maiden in need of rescue?” He cocked his head to the side.

You huffed. “A maiden in need of rescue? I can take care of myself perfectly well, in fact, I was going to get myself out of that situation and I didn’t need a gun for that matter. My brains would have sufficed thank you very much.”

He chuckled sardonically. “Right because you had that situation completely under control.”

“You’re an ass Arthur Morgan.”

“And you’re a pain in my ass. You’re gonna make me wanna turn you in for that money one of these days. Now hop on, unless you wanna walk again because I'm being insufferable,” he emphasized the last word as he shook his head.

You huffed once again as you crossed your arms, brows furrowed and mouth ajar at his comment. He really knows how to push your buttons. “You’re impossible!”

“Oh I’m sorry I should’ve brought the wagon. The princess doesn’t ride horses.”

You glared at him. “I feel sorry for Boadicea, having an owner such as yourself? Must be tough on the poor girl.” He only grunted in response and offered his hand. You patted Boadicea before climbing on, completely ignoring his extended hand. You wondered why he even bothered at this point, you were always going to turn him down. He immediately retracted his hand with a dismissive wave and you went to hold onto the saddle.

“Yeah you might wanna grab onto me instead of the saddle or else yer gonna fall and get a nasty bruise.”

You ignored him and when he figured you weren’t going to listen to him he shrugged and immediately spurred his horse to take off. You yelped as you almost slipped off and immediately wrapped your arms around his waist. You heard him chuckling, the act sending vibrations towards your chest. You silently cursed him and his ability of being right all the time.

As previously mentioned, Arthur Morgan was going to be the death of you.


Chapter Text

“I hate you.”

You glowered at Arthur as he held the last beer bottle in his hand, making a show of it as he sipped from it and emitted a satisfied sigh afterwards.

“It ain’t my fault you didn’t hurry up and grab one for yourself. You gotta learn that supplies don’t last long in this place.” He shrugged before he continued taking generous sips.

“You’re an—”

“Ass, yes, you’ve said it plenty o’ times darlin'.”

There it was again. Him calling you that pet name and your stomach doing a mini flip despite knowing that he was mocking you. You hated when that happened. Why did he have such an effect on you like that. One moment you wanted to throttle him and the next you just wanted to admire him when going about doing chores, especially when he chopped wood.

It all started ever since that dream you had of him. You found yourself with him in the middle of an emerald meadow surrounded by beautiful vibrant flowers. He was reading your favorite poem book to you as your head rested on his lap, looking up at the bright blue sky. He paused for a moment, blue-green eyes gazing at you affectionately with a warm smile. That was enough to make your heart jolt to a stop. And as you laid there while he caressed your face you couldn't think of anywhere better to be. You felt safe and so happy, and what more was that you felt loved.

Then it happened, he leaned down and kissed you softly. You savored the sweet moment and felt the butterflies in your stomach fluttering frenetically as you heart swelled.

And then you woke up.

It was one of the most bizarre dreams you had and yet wonderful at the same time. The feeling it gave you was indescribable. And when you caught a glimpse of him that morning after the dream, well, let's just say you were very surprised when you felt your stomach do a small flip for the very first time. What on earth was happening to you?

Sure, when you first met him you thought he was quite attractive. But that didn’t necessarily equate to you liking him like that. It was difficult to view him in that manner anyways when you two have been bickering for quite a while now and never seeing eye to eye. He annoyed you as much as you annoyed him. You guys were complete polar opposites. You couldn't possibly start liking him now, the situation rendered you confused.

Of course, you never told anyone about this dream for fear of the teasing that was already somehow being directed towards you by the girls.

“You know what they say about opposites,” Karen commented as she drank from her whiskey bottled. “They attract.” Mary-Beth and Tilly giggled simultaneously. “Oh wouldn’t that be romantic?” Mary-Beth sighed dreamily. “They even finish each other’s sentences.” She giggled some more when Arthur finished your sentence. “I wonder if these two are ever gonna stop fighting though.” Tilly added and emptied out the last few drops of her beer. “We’ll just have to see girls. That or we intervene just a lil bit. Help them to see,” Karen drawled.

Across the camp you were still glowering at Arthur. “Why is it always you? You know what? Fine. I don’t care anymore.” You turned with a roll of your eyes and left him. An amused expression crossed his features for a moment before going back to sit down with the rest of the boys.

You approached the girls with a smile on your face. “So I was thinking that maybe we should go down to the saloon. A night out for drinks? Since most of the alcohol is now gone and I haven’t had one drop of it.”

Karen was the first to sit up, eyes lighting up with excitement. “You know me already, count me in!” She cheered as she finished the last of her whiskey. The other two girls agreed and the four of you began heading towards the wagon, Uncle joining along the way who had overheard you four speaking.

Arthur took notice of the small pack at the edge of the camp. Uncle took his place in the driver's seat. Surprisingly he wasn’t drunk yet, only tipsy from the looks of it. Arthur stood up and made his way over to the wagon. “Where y’all going?” He looked up at Uncle.

“Oh I’m just taking the girls out to the saloon. Gonna have a few drinks since you boys finished all the hooch.”

Arthur shook his head. “So you signed up immediately.”

The older man chuckled heartily. “Oh you’re welcome to come Arthur. The more the merrier!” He gestured with an arm in the air. The girls grinned and agreed in unison with Uncle.

You sat there quietly as you stared at your feet, not daring to look at Arthur. He immediately noticed that and turned down Uncle’s offer. “Nah I’m good. Just be careful and don’t make too much noise. If anything happens send one of the girls back here and I’ll go down there. Either way I’ll go and check up on all of you in an hour or so, kinda don’t trust you out there.

“Then come with us!” Uncle chortled. “I promise I won’t get in trouble this time.”

“Nah. You folks go on and have some fun, but not too much fun.” He adjusted his hat before ambling away.

Like magnets your gaze found its way towards Arthur, lingering on him for a while. You watched him head back to the campfire as the wagon pulled away from its spot, slightly disappointed that he wasn’t coming along. Yet you were a little relief at the same time too. You sighed and remained quiet for the rest of the trip as you tried to sort out the thoughts plaguing your mind.

Upon arriving to the saloon you were the first one to order your drinks, a beer bottle and a shot of whiskey. You downed the whiskey and scrunched up your face. You rarely drank but you did have your fair share of alcohol before.

“Someone’s in a hurry.” Karen settled beside you and ordered a beer. The rest followed suit and a few minutes later you were all laughing together and drinking.

“I never thought my life would turn out like this. Running with outlaws!” You giggled and the Mary-Beth hushed you. You were considerably tipsy but you didn’t plan to stop drinking just yet. You needed this. Truthfully though, you had never gotten drunk in your life. Your father never allowed you to drink more than one glass of alcohol. But now? Well you were free of him and you could do whatever your little heart desired.

That wasn’t a very good idea now given that you were becoming incredibly drunk and you began feeling hot underneath all the layers of clothing. Slowly, you began peeling off your coat before draping an arm around Karen’s shoulder.

“Girl you’re drunk already?” She chuckled amusedly and continued sipping her beer. You broke into a fit of giggles and shrugged, chugging down your own beer afterwards. “Just trying to have some fun here!”

“And no one's stopping you!” Uncle slid a shot of whiskey towards you, one shot glass of his own in his other hand. “For our prosperity!” He lifted his drink in the air and you mirrored him. “For our prosperity!” You repeated before the both of you downed your drinks at the same time. You wiped at your mouth and set the shot glass down. “Another!”

The girls giggled as they watched you drink some more and act like a fool. You were a giggling mess now, your hair was pulled out of its usual bun and you had managed to take off your blue button down blouse, revealing your black frilly chemise. It was incredibly hot in there. You wanted to take off your skirt but Mary-Beth stopped you. You pouted but left it on, though you didn’t sit back down onto your chair. Your eyes landed on a man off to your side and you smirked as you made your way towards them.

“What is she doing?” Tilly began and Karen raised a finger. “Oh I gotta see this. She’s gonna try and flirt with him.” She laughed and they all watched as you bumbled towards the stranger. “And he ain’t ugly. He’s quite the looker.” Tilly tilted her head, brows knitting together. “Doesn’t he remind you of—” Karen replied abruptly. “Arthur. Yes but I’d say Arthur is better looking though.” The other girls agreed. Heck, even Uncle did too.

You finally reached your destination, the stranger looking up at you with a smile and greeting you. It was evident that they were also intoxicated though they weren’t as much as you were.

“Hey mister.” You returned the smile and placed a hand on the table. “I’ve been watching you all evening and I think you’re cute.” They chuckled and glanced over at their friend who simply shrugged with a smirk and stood up, slapping the other on the back before leaving towards the area of the working girls. There was something about this stranger’s appearance that you couldn't quite put a finger on yet.

The stranger eyed you up and down, lips curving into an impish smile. “So, you wanna have some fun then?” You didn’t know what came over you but of course it was the alcohol talking at this point. “That’s the plan.” You smirked as you went over and boldly sat on their lap, placing a splayed hand on their shoulder.

“You ain’t a working girl huh.” You quickly shook your head with a smile. “But I could pretend to be just for you.” That caused a chuckle from them and they shook their head. “That’s what I thought. You’re such a pretty little thing to be one.”

You giggled softly as you looped an arm around their neck, prompting them to lean forward and brush their lips over your ear. “Let’s go somewhere more private yeah?” They whispered and you giggled coyly, nodding.

They stood up and and wrapped an arm around your waist, your arm still around their shoulder. You stumbled a bit but they grounded you. Despite the alcohol in your system, some part of you told you not to do it but the other part that said otherwise won you over. It also seemed that you had completely forgotten the fact that you were still a virgin.

As you headed towards the hotel next door with the stranger guiding you by the waist, you bumped into someone along the way. It looked a whole lot like Arthur.

“Watch where you’re going mister,” you drawled as you both paused to look at him. The man holding you shook their head before continuing forward.

“Where the hell do ya think you’re goin’?” Arthur grabbed you by the arm and the stranger turned back around, an irritated expression on their face. “Who the hell are you?”

“Who the hell am I?” Arthur sneered. “The man who’s not gonna let you take advantage of her.”

In that moment Tilly ran out the swinging doors. “Oh thank goodness! Y/N you scared us! You were there one second and the next you were gone!”

Arthur turned towards her with a scowl on his face. “I thought I told you all to be careful.” He spoke quietly but his voice carried a vast sternness.

Tilly began to answer but a shove directed towards Arthur prompted her to stop. The outlaw turned to find that it was you, though your other arm still remained in his hold. “Why don’t you leave us alone huh.” You slurred. ”I’m a grown woman who can make my own decisions. If I want to go with this man then I will. You’re nobody to tell me what to do. Besides why do you even care? You don’t even like me!”

Arthur glowered at you but still didn’t release you. “You’re drunk.” He simply urged and tugged at your arm.

“You don’t know what you’re doing.” Tilly chimed in, pleading to you to come with the others. But you, being the pertinacious women that you are, didn’t budge.

“I can decide for myself!” You declared. The stranger agreed with you then.

“Shut up,” Arthur growled at the man beside you. “You don’t have a say in this.”

Tilly stepped forward and extended a hand towards you. You only stared at it but didn’t take it. The stranger’s hold tightened around your waist and he leaned down to your ear. “We going, darlin’?”

“Darlin’?” Arthur repeated under his breath with a hiss. “I warned ya…” He released your arm before grabbing the man and shoving him towards the ground with great force. Tilly had taken a hold of you as you teetered in the process.

“Stay down,” he warned with a pointed finger at the stranger who laid on the ground groaning.

“What the hell Arthur!” You yelled as you tried to break free from Tilly’s grasp but she held on tight to you. The others had already appeared by the entrance of the saloon, watching the scene unfold before them with mouths agape.

Arthur turned towards you. There was a dangerous look in his eyes, prompting you to draw back immediately. You didn’t dare to speak against him after that. “Let’s go.” It was all he said before leaving. The rest followed silently behind him towards the wagon. Mary-Beth draped your blouse and coat over your shoulders then and you were thankful for that now that the cold wind was nipping at your skin.

No one said a thing on the way back. You rested your head against Tilly’s shoulder as you hugged yourself. You managed to sober up a bit after that whole ordeal and all you wanted to do now was to sleep.

You were the last one to get off the wagon. As you made your way towards the edge and tried to climb down you somehow lost your footing. You let out a sharp gasp as you felt yourself falling but the awaited impact on the ground was never made.

Instead you found yourself face to face with none other than Arthur Morgan. He held you in his arms against his chest, your faces merely a hair’s breadth away.

You felt like time had slowed down around you two. He stared into your eyes, an unreadable expression blanketing his features but you swore you saw a shimmering hint of something in his eyes as you stared back, something akin to a mixture of curiosity and awe. You didn’t realize you were holding your breath until your lungs was signaling you to breathe.

You took in his scent, which you noted was a mixture of alcohol and sandalwood. He always smelled nice though, you’ve noticed, even if it was mixed in with some of the alcohol he had. “I’m okay,” You finally said as the both of you let go of each other at the same time.

“Of course you are,” he replied curtly which prompted you to roll your eyes as you straightened out your coat.

You were a bit dizzy, the alcohol still buzzing through you but you managed to walk a few steps ahead without falling over. “You should’a just left me to fall, Mr. Morgan. I’m sure you would’ve earned a good laugh outta that,” you drawled before turning around to face him again.

He had a slight scowl on his face but other than that he still looked as handsome as ever. You internally cursed yourself for even thinking that right now. It’s no wonder you stumbled over to that stranger at the saloon earlier. They eerily had a resemblance to Arthur and you realized if that weren’t the case you wouldn’t have walked over to them let alone accepted their offer to go somewhere more private. You cursed yourself even more for that.

You made a complete fool of yourself back there.

“Oh maybe I should’ve. You’re makin’ me regret that now,” He looked at you intently, eyes twinkling with mirth as you scowled at him.

“Don’t call me that you, you… you lunkheaded schmuck!” You spat.

“Who’re you calling a lunkhead? You were one with the way you were actin’ back there, darlin’.” He pointed and chuckled wryly as he shook his head.

You took a few wobbly steps towards him, wagging a finger in his face. “I don’t like you.”

“Good. Never asked to be liked by you in the first place.”

You huffed and stepped closer. You were tiny compared to him, the top of your head was only a mere few inches below his chin. You had to go on your tippy toes but even then that didn’t help much.

“You are so insufferable have I ever mentioned that?”

“Only about a thousand times. You got anything else new to say, princess?”

Your head was practically leaning all the way back so you could glare up at him, you were so close in proximity you could smell the alcohol in his breath just as he could smell yours.

“Do ya need a crate to stand on so you could continue this little theatrical scene of yours?”

You smiled sarcastically and you felt yourself finally getting physically tired. “I hate you, Mr. Morgan. You’re an ass, no matter how good looking you are. An ass is an ass.” You poked his chest before turning and taking your leave, wobbling a few times in the process.

Arthur blinked a few times as he watched you leave, mouth ajar at the revelation.


Chapter Text

You were never good with weapons. That much was evident on your first encounter with Arthur. You still felt guilt over that and didn’t like it when others mentioned it around the campfire.

“Remember when you shot Arthur? Poor fellow still has the scar.” Sean turned to look at Uncle then. “He was lucky that she had real bad aiming though.” The pair began chuckling together.

You glared at Sean before sitting up straight on the log and taking a sip of your water. You were still sort of feeling the effects of your hangover this morning and you swore you’d never drink another drop of alcohol ever again.

“She just needs to practice her shooting.” Arthur came up from the side and threw his cigarette butt into the fire. You looked at him for a split second before you tore your eyes away from him, the guilt pawing at you once more.

“Ah well maybe you could teach her a few tricks then, Arthur. Show her what a true gunslinger is like.” The irish man smirked, giving his little remark a double meaning.

Karen elbowed him and Sean finally got the memo and zipped his mouth shut. As if being attracted to Arthur at this point wasn’t enough but now the half of the camp seemed to want you two to get together or something. You didn’t understand what they saw. Arthur clearly didn’t like you, and it appeared that he never will.

“Arthur you should teach her, maybe she can go on armed robberies with us from time to time.” Karen gave him a hopeful look. Sean and Uncle chimed in their agreement.

“Oh I don’t know.”

“Come on!” They all said in unison.

“Imagine her out there on a job, all dressed up to the nines. Men would just take one glance at her and fall for her trap. I mean come on, look at her.” Karen gestured at you.

You were staring at her with disbelief, you wanted to say something but came up with nothing.

“She’s right.” Dutch came up behind Arthur and placed a hand on his shoulder. “If you don’t want to then I will.”

Somehow the thought of you and Dutch alone together somewhere in the woods didn’t sit right with him. He had been a tad bit flirtatious with you when you first arrived, although that had died down considerably. There were still instances where Dutch had gifted you a couple of books and chocolates, an innocent gesture to most. At first Arthur didn’t mind it, in fact he didn’t care, but after awhile it began to irk him somehow. He tried to forget about it but found that he just wasn’t able to, much to his dismay.

“Arthur will do it, isn’t that right Arthur?” Molly had appeared out of nowhere and stood next to Dutch, linking her arms with his.

Arthur heaved a sigh, a bit relieved to have some backup now. “Yeah, I guess I’ll do it.”

You just sat there and watched everything unfold before you. Somehow you were relieved that Arthur did take up on that offer rather than Dutch. You pressed your lips together as you looked over to Arthur who was already staring at you. “We can start tomorrow after breakfast. The sooner the better. Then you can be off to jobs with the others.”

Your heart sank slightly. Of course he wouldn’t want you tagging along on jobs, specifically with him, it was a given. You simply nodded in response before excusing yourself for the night. Tomorrow was going to be a long day, but you were sort of looking forward to it as well.

That morning you ate rather quickly. Sipping the remaining drops of coffee, you looked around for Arthur and spotted him by the campfire with Javier and Charles. They were chuckling over who knows what over their cups of coffee.

You sighed as you went over and placed your cup and plate into the wash basin before you felt a tug at your skirt. You looked down and found a smiling Jack.

“Hi Jack,” you smiled and poked his nose as he greeted you back enthusiastically.

“Momma said that if I ate all my fruit I can have a piece of candy from last night and I ate all my fruit!” He paused and frowned a little. “Do you still have some candy?”

You leaned down and pinched his cheek slightly with a playful smile. “I still have those candies and just for you. Wait here and I’ll bring them to you.” He nodded vigorously and waited until you came back.

“Here you go, Jackie.” You beamed and handed him a couple of candies. He gave a little gasp and grinned as he took the candies and thanked you. You giggled and ruffled his hair as he hurriedly began unwrapping them.

You didn’t notice that Arthur was standing a few feet away, staring at the both of you. Mostly he was staring at you. Amusement was etched across his features but there was also something else there. Admiration.

Something that Jack had just said, and that Arthur didn’t catch because he was too busy looking at you, made you laugh.

Arthur’s heart skipped a beat at that moment. Your bright beautiful smile made his breath hitch in his throat. He didn’t know when he started to become attracted to you, it just sort of happened one day. He always did find you beautiful though, ever since he first laid his eyes on you but it was that and nothing more.

Finally, you looked up and saw him standing there. He quickly cleared his throat as he looked down, resting a hand on his belt and leaning to one side. He tried to appear as nonchalant as he could.

You looked away from him and watched Jack skip off with a fond smile.

“Jack really likes you huh.”

You nodded, still smiling. “He’s such a sweet boy. Abigail did well in raising him. Wish I could say the same about John.”

Arthur let out a hearty chuckle. “Now that is one thing we can definitely agree on.”

You feigned a gasp, placing a hand over your chest for the dramatics. “Mr. Morgan agreeing with me for once? This is a miracle! Or am I just dreaming? I gotta pinch myself now.” And you proceeded to do just that.

The gesture elicited an eye roll from him as he shook his head though there was mirth in his eyes. “Always one for the dramatics huh. You ever consider joining the theater, or maybe even the circus?”

You shrugged and placed your hands on your hips. “Never thought about it but I can be a pretty good actress when I need to be.” You smirked. “So we goin’ or are we just gonna continue discussing my great acting abilities?”

“Jesus, it’s no wonder you and Karen got along so quickly. Let’s go and get this over with,” he gestured towards his horse. “Looking forward to the day you finally get your own horse and learn how to ride.”

You gave him a sideways glance as you passed him. “Hate to say it, only because we’d be agreeing with each other once again, but I look forward to it too. Won’t be having to ride with others, mostly with you though.”

Arthur grunted. “Exactly. Gets tiring having to keep carrying you ‘round like that and having you in my ear.”

“Oh please. I’m probably the only woman you've shared a horse with in a long time .” You snorted as you watch his expression forge into one of pure irritation. It was amazing how quickly you soured his mood in a matter of seconds.

“One because I always get stuck with ya for some reason. You’ve been nothing but a nuisance, like a thorn in my side, just to be clear on that.”

You rolled your eyes. It was the same old and nothing new from him. “Tell me something I don’t know. You’re just as much of a nuisance yourself Arthur. Even your name is enough to give me a headache, which by the way I’m starting to feel one coming. Guess we’ll have to cancel the lessons. Better yet, I’ll just go ask Dutch for help.”

Arthur chuckled dryly. “Good luck trying to get him out of Molly’s sights then.” And with that he began stalking off back to his tent.

He was definitely right on that one. You sighed, arms crossed as you looked towards their shared tent, seeing the pair reading a book together. You knew too well that if anyone were to give you good lessons in shooting in this camp it would be Arthur. He was an expert and a great marksman.

“Wait,” you called after him. He immediately stopped in his tracks and turned around, brows raised expectantly.

“We could, uh, we could try to set aside our differences for now. Get on with the lessons. You’re one of the best gunslingers here—besides Dutch,” you admitted quietly.

Arthur hummed and thought over it. That much was true although he wasn’t much of the boasting type. Everyone knew that. “Alright then,” he finally conceded. We could try that and be on our best behavior. Until we get back that is.”

You scoffed out loud but quickly regained your composure. As you’ve mentioned time and time again, Arthur Morgan was a difficult man. He just had a special way of getting under your skin. Even in this time when you’ve both finally, and seemingly, reached a truce. But you weren’t gonna back down that easily and give him the satisfaction. That’s what he mostly was trying to gain after all.

You smiled sweetly as you canted your head to the side, vocalizing your thoughts in the most sugary tone you could muster up. “I’ll definitely be on my best behavior. You won’t have any trouble with me whatsoever, sir.” You then whipped around, the sweet smile immediately dissipating from your face as you started towards Arthur’s horse.

You fed Boadicea a piece of peppermint and patted her muzzle as Arthur fetched her saddle and placed it on her back. He didn’t say anything as he climbed on, he didn’t even offer his hand to help you like he usually did. That took you by surprise but you quickly brushed it off. Or at least tried to.

“You might be talented in acting but aiming a gun?” Arthur tutted as he shook his head.

You scowled as you lowered your revolver. “Thought we had a truce, Mr. Morgan. Besides, it’s not the best idea to piss someone off with a gun in their hand.” You quirked a brow at him.

You’ve been shooting for the last hour now and still no progress. Not that you were expecting any, you were downright horrible at this. You just wished Arthur would’ve kept his mouth shut. And truthfully, he just couldn’t resist the comment.

“You gonna give me a matchin’ scar on the other shoulder?” He quipped. “Gee you got lucky you even grazed me in the first place.”

You chuckled mirthlessly and turned towards him. This whole truce talk from earlier? Thrown out the window now. So much for not giving in. “You’re so funny. Have you ever considered being a clown after your outlaw days are over?” You smiled sardonically at him.

“Have you ever considered hitting your target yet?” He bit back. He had his arms crossed over his chest, his toned forearms exposed to the sun that was now crawling up higher in the blue skies. If you weren’t so busy being annoyed by him you would have been admiring the sight of this man stood before you.

“It’s not my fault I can’t aim for shit,” you growled.

“You’ve been at this for an hour. You gotta hit your target, at least the edge of it.”

You gave out an exasperated sigh. “This is hard okay. Didn’t think it’d be this way.” You raised the gun and fired once again. “I would definitely hit the target if I were closer.”

“The whole point is for you to be at a distance with your enemy. You need to learn to shoot at long range.” Arthur walked over to you and gestured for you to aim again, this time towards a single glass bottle sitting atop a rotten window sill of an abandoned small cabin Arthur found out here.

“Lift it up a bit higher.” He looked down at your feet. “What’d I tell ya about your stance?”

You move your feet apart a little, but that didn’t satisfy Arthur as he swept a foot between your own feet and separated them a bit further apart.

“Watch your breathing and try pulling the trigger slowly.”

You nodded but before you could do that you felt his hand at the small of your back, pushing your back slightly forward. “A little straighter and forward…” You moved your hips forward and he immediately shook his head before placing a hand on your lower stomach, pushing you back a bit.

You heart immediately began racing then. Both his hands were on you now, sandwiching your body. You hoped that he wasn’t able to hear your heart as it furiously beat against your chest a mile a minute.

“Perfect.” He murmured as he looked towards the target.

You breathed in and out and pulled the trigger.


The glass bottle exploded into tiny pieces of shards and you gasped, donning a wide smile immediately afterwards. “I shot the bottle! I did that!” You jumped up and down excitedly as you pointed at the shattered bottle. “I did it!” You squealed.

Arthur chuckled a little as he rubbed his stubbled chin and placed a hand on his belt. “You sure did,” he nodded and smiled a little as he looked at you. You giggled, your eyes still remained on the shards of glass that were now littering the patches of dirt and grass in front of the cabin. You never been this ecstatic in weeks, and Arthur noticed that.

For a man that supposedly didn’t like you he sure as hell noticed many things about you, even down to the smallest details. For starters, how you always left a few strands of hair to fall delicately at the sides of your forehead. How your nose crinkled a little when you smelled something. How you were a very generous person. And out of all the women in camp you never failed to be one of the first to wake up, even beating Miss Grimshaw sometimes. There was also a minor detail, one that anyone could easily miss if they didn’t look closely. There was a fading thick scar, about an inch long, on your right elbow. He wondered how you’ve gotten that scar but never tried asking.

It was ridiculous really. Thinking back at all these details he picked up one would think he was spending too much time watching you. Even fixated on you. He felt embarrassed about it for it was never his intention. It just happened on its own. He figured the only thing left to do now, at best, was to avoid any more future occurrences of that. He didn’t want it to lead into something more, to have it bloom into something akin to what he felt for Mary all those years back.

What’s worse was that he feared it might have already started without even realizing it. So it was then that he decided to put an end to all those thoughts of you worming their way into his mind. He didn’t want this and he sure as hell didn’t need this. Not after what happened in the past. He was done with that aspect of his life. Arthur Morgan was a bad man after all. An outlaw. And nothing good ever came to those who were living that lifestyle. They didn’t deserve good things nor happiness.

He was truly convinced of that.

The smile he wore as he gazed at you soon withered away. And for just a split moment sorrow manifested itself across his tired features as he dropped his gaze to the ground.

You were still celebrating when you noticed his change in demeanor and you stopped. “What’s wrong, Arthur?” He looked up from the ground, blinking a few times. “What?”

You furrowed your brows. “I asked ya what’s wrong. One moment you were happy with me and the next you’re looking like a kicked puppy!”

Arthur furrowed his brows. “Nothing’s wrong. I’m just hungry and tired, that’s all. Took you long enough.” He gestured.

You hummed and holstered your revolver. “We should celebrate, go into town and grab some lunch and a few drin—”

“No,” he replied sharply, brows furrowed.

You blinked, taken aback by the sudden shift in mood.

There it was again, Arthur being moody. You had no idea what had just gotten into him now. One moment he was fine with you and the next? He was impossible. Simply and utterly impossible. Did nothing ever satisfy this man?

You exhaled slowly and brought a hand up to pinch the bridge of your nose, closing your eyes momentarily.

“I’ve just about had enough of this, Arthur!” you snapped. “Every. Goddamn. Time. And you know what? I’ve noticed you’re not like this with the others, not even with the latest recruits the Callander boys! And they’ve already offended you a couple of times now!” You spat. “Why? Why do you hate me so much?”

If only you knew that was the exact complete opposite. But Arthur would never tell you that.

In the typical Arthur Morgan fashion, all he did was grunt and look away. You felt a knot forming in your throat then but you weren’t going to give him the satisfaction of seeing you cry. That’s the last thing you ever wanted.

You swallowed thickly and balled your hands into fists before speaking up again. “You’re a cold and heartless bastard and I wish I had never met you.” You spoke quietly but with such conviction that you even prompted Arthur to look back at you.

This time his usual nonchalant demeanor wavered and a series of expressions manifested across his features. Shock, sadness, irritation, ire. It was the last one that remained etched on him. “Yeah well me neither.” He scowled. “Dutch should’ve left you back there and not taken you in. Actually maybe we should’ve turned you in.”

A pained expression flashed across your face, mouth agape. You couldn’t believe what you were hearing. He immediately noticed your expression and if it weren’t for the anger he would have back away but he wasn't finished just yet.

“Better yet you should've killed me back then. Should’ve ended my miserable life right then and there and maybe I wouldn’t have to be dealing with you right now,” he hissed.

You blinked a couple of times in astonishment, jaw still hanging, and you couldn’t find the right words to formulate a proper sentence in that moment.

“How about you do it now huh? I’ll turn and walk away, and you shoot me in the back and finish the job properly. You’ll feel better about yourself then.”

Now this time he had really done. He went too far and has pushed you beyond your breaking point. This was on a whole different level now.

“Just say that you hate me! That you don’t want to see me anymore—that you want me to leave the gang! Just say the word and I’ll be gone from your life forever if that’s what you want!” You were practically yelling at the top of your lungs now. Yet his expression remained blank which only aggravated you more.

He turned around then and began walking away. “Is that it then? You’re just gonna walk away and say nothing instead of facing the problem. You’re a coward, Arthur Morgan! A coward!” You spat as you balled your dress up in your fists at your sides.

The knot in your throat had returned, this time heavier than ever. You felt tears pricking at your eyes but you blinked them back a couple of times and scrunched up your nose to avoid the inevitable for the time being. You weren’t gonna do that just yet.

Arthur hopped onto Boadicea but didn’t bother to spare you a brief glance, instead he kept his gaze fixed towards the horizon. “You know your way back to camp, it ain’t that far and you know how to shoot that thing now.” His voice was quiet, peaceful even, almost as if nothing had just happened a few moments ago. He clicked his tongue at his horse and galloped away.

You let out a strangled sob as you watched him ride off into the distance. It wasn’t until he finally disappeared that you broke down completely. You managed to turn around before falling onto your hands and knees.

Fingernails dug into the grass and dirt beneath you as you lowered your head and began bawling your eyes out. No one would hear you out here at least. This place was well isolated and that thought prompted you to bellow out a sob as a means of catharsis. You haven't cried this hard since you were living with your father. You didn’t know why you got so worked up like this, why you felt incredibly sentimental. How could this man, this outlaw, make you feel this vulnerable? Worthless even. It was evident that he only ever thought little of you and that thought alone caused you to deflate even more.

You crawled over to a weathered wooden bench at the side of the abandoned cabin. You proceeded to bury your face in your arms that were now resting on top of the bench. You let out a few shaky breaths and continued weeping on the sleeves of your blouse, whimpering every now and then.

Time passed but you still couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. It was only when exhaustion overtook you that you finally stopped, and you ended up falling asleep on that very spot.

Chapter Text

It had been a few weeks since you broke down out in the wilderness. Somehow you had slept throughout the afternoon up until evening. Hosea had found you, still resting against that bench. Your eyes had been bloodshot and puffy from the waterworks. You were a pitiful sight to say the least.

Arthur had yet to talk to you, to even regard you for that matter. He had been ignoring your presence but in all honesty you preferred it that way. He did hurt you after all and you had no intentions of speaking to him either.

Everyone eventually noticed the change but they didn’t try to push anything on the both of you. And you were grateful for that. You spent the majority of your time preoccupied with chores and what little time off you had you didn’t spend with the girls as you usually would. You were quieter now. That didn’t go unnoticed either.

Today seemed like another typical day. There was a ton of work to be done. You had laundry duty at the moment, and usually you only washed half the clothes and Tilly would wash the other half. But since she had been out of commission due to illness you took it upon yourself to wash everything. You didn’t mind that though, it kept you well preoccupied. What you did mind though was when it came to washing some of Arthur’s clothing.

So you decided to skip those in the end and would ask one of the other girls if they could wash them afterwards. Why should you even bother doing them yourself anyways if he was a complete ass to you? You didn’t see the fairness in that and you sure as hell don’t owe him anything.

As if on cue Karen comes striding towards you with a beer bottle in one hand. “Hey there. How you holding up with all that load?” She took a swig of her beer and leaned against the wagon there.

“Oh I’m almost done.” You wiped away at the sweat that formed on your brow and looked up at her with a smile. “Already drinking I see,” you teased.

Karen shrugged with a slight smirk. “Sean brought in a new crate of beer this morning. After that robbery the boys did two nights ago most of the hooch was gone.” You chuckled as you shook your head. “You guys sure know how to celebrate, especially you and Sean.”

“We just love a good celebration, that’s all.” She laughed and took one more sip of her beer before speaking up again. “Say, wanna go with Sean and I to rob some dirty rich bastard later on today? We stumbled upon that useful information yesterday while going to the general store. Apparently this fool just moved in last week but he ain’t gonna be home today.”

“Oh we’re gonna make him regret that aren’t we,” you smiled slyly and Karen mirrored your smile with a nod of her head.

You’ve been practicing your shooting with your revolver ever since that first—and last—lesson with Arthur. So far you’ve managed all by yourself without him, and you had to thank your unwavering determination for that. Once you’ve made your resolve there was nothing that could hold you back.

After all that practice now you’ve grown decent. You still missed a couple of times but you weren’t complaining, you were still hitting some targets and that was sure as hell some progress compared to the first few practice sessions. You decided that you didn’t need anyone to help you. In fact, you were thinking of handling a repeater next. Practice makes perfect after all.

“Count me in,” you chirped with a mischievous smile. “But can you please help with that pile of clothes over there?” You gestured with your head. Karen almost immediately noticed who they belonged to and sighed.

“You both still not talking to each other then?” She set down her empty beer bottle and began making work on the dirty pile.

“It’s probably for the best. He and I just can’t seem to get along no matter what we do. I don’t know what his deal is anymore and I honestly don’t wanna know either.” You shrugged nonchalantly. But nothing could be further from the truth. Despite his attitude towards you, you realized that you still held some attraction towards him. It was twisted really and you reprimanded yourself for even feeling that way. How on earth could you even be having those thoughts? After what he put you through, making you feel like you were little next to nothing compared to the others. You were deeply disappointed in yourself. Ashamed actually.

The two of you continued conversing about anything and everything and before you knew it, you two were already finished with the laundry. As you finished putting the last clothespin you heard Sean behind you both.

“I have bad news, girls. Dutch and Hosea aren’t here right now and aren’t gonna be back until tomorrow. And, well, you see I forgot to tell Dutch about the job and now since Arthur's in charge he’s not allowing us to go, that broody bastard he is,” he drawled in that thick irish accent of his.

Karen groaned and brought a hand up to her forehead. “Are you an idiot? You told me you already asked!”

Sean chuckled nervously. “Well I was going to, right after… you know...” You twisted your face in disgust as Karen’s eyes widened, a hint of blush settling on her cheeks.

“Shut up you idiot! Now what are we gonna do? We can’t go tomorrow since we'll be too busy packing up our stuff to leave for the next day.”

“I don’t get why Arthur didn’t agree on this. The more money we bring in the better for all of us and he knows that. He has a stick up his ass that feller, I’m telling ya.” Sean wagged a finger.

“You really shouldn’t talk about people behind their backs you little shit.” Arthur’s voice rang from behind the Irishman.

Sean’s face blanched as he froze in place.

Karen snickered a little before pressing her lips together and furrowing her brows. You on the other hand forced yourself to wear a blank expression and avoided looking at Arthur altogether, instead your eyes remained on poor Sean.

“A-Arthur!” he stammered and chuckled nervously. “I was just messing around.” He playfully slapped his arm to which Arthur withdrew from.

“Arthur what the hell,” Karen interrupted. “Why aren’t you letting us go on this job?”

The scowl on his face heightened and even though you were still not looking at him you knew what expression he was wearing. You knew it far too well. As much as you wanted to lock your eyes onto him you forced yourself not to. Instead you shifted in your stance and folded your arms across your chest, gazing towards the tree line.

“It’s risky. Especially with someone like you leading the way.” Arthur pointed.

Sean chuckled and tried to brush it off. “Oh c'mon Arthur. I need the practice either way.” His eyes lit up then and he pointed a finger at the taller man. “Why don’t you come along? Be like a chaperone,” he proposed with a grin.

“You mean a babysitter,” Arthur corrected with a pointed look of annoyance.

“Arthur c’mon,” Karen pleaded.

He looked towards her and shook his head. Of course, it was hard not to notice that you were looking away from him, all of a sudden the ground looking very interesting to you.

He saw all that from his peripheral vision though. He didn’t dare to take one single glance at you, the both of you being stubborn as hell about the whole situation going on between you both. It almost felt like a competition really. Let’s see who can pretend the other one doesn’t exist, you lose if you take one look at them even for a fraction of a second.

It was kind of laughable really, and Arthur knew it was childish. It was never his intention for it to turn out this way though and now he had no choice but to follow through, unless he wanted to fall back into that black hole again. He didn’t. His resolve was made on that day.

“It’s risky. This man you’re trying to rob? I heard’a him before. Moved in about two weeks ago. Very powerful magnate. Goes by the name of Edson Durant. Your brows perked up and you almost, almost, glanced up towards him. You knew that man. He was an associate of you father’s and if you hadn’t run away he would have been your father in law. He was by far more rich and powerful than your father was, but just as a greedy bastard like them all. What was he doing all the way here? You swallowed thickly and continued listening.

“He wanted to retreat into the countryside after the recent death of his wife. Heard he was dying of some illness too. His farmhouse is no doubt well guarded. It’s too risky. ‘Sides we already caused too much noise with that train robbery.”

You furrowed your brows. Why did it matter when you guys were going to pack up and leave in two days anyways? Was this just his way of ruining this job for you? But of course you weren’t going to protest. You remained silent as the other two quietly accepted that they just weren’t going on this job.

When Arthur finally left, you turned towards them. “We’re going, with or without his permission.”

Karen gaped at you and Sean had this wicked smile on his face. “I like this one,” he wagged his finger at you.

“I know Edson Durant. He’s one of my father’s associates.”

Karen's eyes were wide as dinner plates. “What if something happens and he figures who you are?”

“He won’t. That bastard deserves to get robbed blind.” You muttered bitterly. It was him who suggested the arranged marriage in the first place, no doubt trying to give his son what he wanted like he always did.

“He sure as hell does,” Karen added before discussing the plan with you two.

“Okay, are we all ready then?” Sean asked as he stopped his horse near a thicket of trees. Karen followed suit. You were sitting behind her as you didn’t have your own horse just yet. You hoped that after this job you would finally go and purchase yourself one. The prospect of that got you so excited you could hardly wait to just get on with the job.

“You nervous?” Karen turned towards you.

“Somewhat.” This wasn’t your first job—and it definitely won’t be the last one—you had some experience, though this was definitely much bigger than the last two you’ve been on (which involved robbing stagecoaches from a few wealthy folks near the area).

“She’ll do fine just like the previous ones. I trust she will. Okay everyone take your places,” Sean ordered as he hopped off his horse, Karen climbing off of her own to climb on Sean’s, and you were left with Karen’s horse. “Let’s go.”

Once you were situated at the outskirts of the property, you waited for your cue to go. You could see the farm workers in the distance though you immediately shifted your focus towards the entrance of the estate. You could make out Karen bumbling towards the guards now, acting like she was drunk and making a spectacle out of it, no doubt. The guards noticed and walked towards her and she made a show of running, or at least the best that she could in her fabricated drunken state, past the property line and towards the barn.

You couldn’t help the chuckle erupting from your throat and you wished you could clearly hear what she was yelling. This was your cue as Sean appeared out of nowhere, running towards them and pointing at Karen. The other guards were already trailing after them, yelling to get them off the property. What a spectacle.

You swiftly made your way towards the stretch of land and walked clean into the big house. You didn’t expect anything less from the owner, the place being as extravagant as his town house you’ve visited once. Without another second to lose you scrambled up the stairs.

It didn’t take long before you found his valuables in his bedroom. You were lucky enough the house was empty of servants. As you were stashing some money and jewelry in the two saddle bags you suddenly heard the door open. “What the hell?”

As quick as lightning you covered your face with your bandana and stood up. You turned around and pointed your revolver at none other than Edson Durant himself. Wasn’t he supposed to be gone for the evening?

“How dare you!” He seethed. “After giving you a job here you miserable turd. I ought to slaughter you right here and now.”

“I’m the one pointing a gun at you right now, pig.” You moved towards him. “As a matter of fact, why don’t you open up your safe.”

He gave you a venomous look and you simply cocked your gun as a warning. He cursed and did what he was told.

It was all going as planned up until you let your guard down for a bit and he was now pinning you onto the floor. “You wretched bitch! I wanna see your face before I put a bullet in you!” He yanked the bandana off your face and his eyes immediately went wide. “Y/N?”

You took this opportunity to punch him in the face and scrambled for your gun. He quickly recovered though and for the next few seconds the both of you wrestled for the revolver.

It happened in a blink of an eye. The gun went off and you both gasped in unison. Edson blinked a couple of times before he finally slumped forward, crushing you under his weight. You were still in shock, slack-jawed and frozen in place. You forced yourself to move then, struggling to push Edson’s corpse off of you with shaky hands. You almost didn’t feel the blood seeping through the front of your blouse until your eyes landed on the crimson stains. That’s when you let out a choked sob as it finally and completely sunk in.

You murdered a person.

You pushed the body completely off of you and stood up. The thundering footsteps and shouting down the hallway alerted you of another incoming threat. Your mind was running a mile a minute and your body was refusing to respond to you brain. You forced your limbs to move, bolting towards the wide heavy door and locking it shut. You then turned around and leaned against it as you carded your fingers through your hair. Tears were coating your eyes and when they landed on the corpse on the floor you quickly covered your mouth to suppress a loud sob.

A loud bang on the door, followed by a few muffled alarmed voices, caused you to jump. You moved away from the entrance, your body trembling as you looked at the door and then back towards the dead body. You then spotted the bag full of valuables on the floor, and you quickly snatched it before hugging it against your chest. You looked around desperately, trying to come up with something, anything, but you came up empty. Jumping out the window was surely out of the question. You were far too high up and you’d only achieve a sprained ankle or even a broken leg.

It was then that you heard the jingling of keys outside the room. Shit shit shit. You quickly stepped back but tripped over the rug, falling hard on your bosom. There was no use in standing up anymore so you didn’t even bother.

You were done for. Even if you could pick up your gun and shoot at them you’d be outnumbered. They would easily gun you down in a matter of seconds. Either that or you’d be taken in by the law. No matter what you decide to do or not to do, it would ultimately lead to you losing. Possibly leading to your demise, much like Edson’s. A choking sob slipped past your lips as a familiar sinking feeling began permeating your whole being, the one thing you were all too familiar with. Fear.

Crawling towards the other end of the room, as far away as possible from the door, was the only thing that came to your mind then. It was like some form of comfort for you in this moment of despair.

You cowered in the far corner, hugging the saddle bag tightly against your chest, and began to quietly weep and reprimand yourself. You should have listened to Arthur. He was right yet again, as always. You hated yourself in that moment. You really did.

As you silently cursed yourself and wallowed in self-hate you suddenly heard gunshots outside the room. You jumped and cowered even more towards the wall. More gunshots followed, this time outside the farmhouse. You stopped crying and listened, picking up a faint jingle of keys. After a few moments you saw the doorknob turning and then the wooden door swung open, revealing Arthur outside in the hall.

Your breath hitched in your throat. You may have evaded dying in the hands of the guards or even the law, but you won’t be evading Arthur. One way or another, you weren’t going to be escaping the repercussions.

You were definitely done for.

Chapter Text

He didn’t berate you.

Instead he opted to remain quiet, only producing a shushing noise when you started sobbing quietly again. He grabbed a hold of you as gently as he could and lifted you up from the floor. He felt you quivering and saw that you were staring at the dead body on the floor. You hugged the saddlebag tighter against you, more tears cascading down your cheeks.

He sighed softly and proceeded to block your view from the corpse. He had one hand resting at the small of your back while the other rested on your shoulder that was now grazing his torso. “No point in looking at that. What’s done is done. Now let’s get you outta here,” he murmured and guided you towards the entrance.

Once outside, you noticed Sean and Karen standing a few feet away. They looked relieved once they saw you both walking down the stairs. A few bodies littered the grassy grounds, much like the ones you saw back in the hallway in the wake of the botched robbery. You were still shaking a little but other than that you were glad to be out of that house.

“Thank goodness you’re alright!” Karen exclaimed as she ran up to you. Arthur let go of you and you were now engulfed in Karen’s embrace. “You’re not hurt right? You shook your head, wiping away at the wetness under you eyes and sniffling.

“I got what we came for.” It was barely above a whisper and Karen frowned.

“I’m just glad you’re okay sweetheart, we were worried sick. If it weren’t for Arthur showing up…” You turned your attention towards him then. His eyes were fixed on you. He had on the same expression from when you first saw him after he opened that door. It was soft and full of sympathy. But there was also worry written across his features.

It felt like an eternity as the two of you kept staring at one another. Arthur found that he had no trace of ire in him as he kept gazing at you. Sure, he was pissed when he found the three of you went missing and even more so when his suspicions were confirmed once he arrived to the estate. When Karen worriedly told him that you hadn’t come out yet he was seeing red. The muffled shot that rang out from the distance a second after had sent Arthur over the edge. Something in him snapped and before he knew it he was charging towards the house. It was all a blur as he took down everyone that got in his way, becoming complete feral at that time. When he heard your muffled sobs behind that door he was about ready to kick that door down right there and then, but he spotted the keys on the floor.

In retrospect, Arthur had never felt this intense feeling of gratefulness and relievement. Seeing you in inside that room before him, breathing and living and just so alive, had quelled that fear he felt when he heard that gunshot. Yet seeing you in that state tugged, no yanked, at his heartstrings. It broke his heart seeing you huddled in that corner and looking as small as ever, especially knowing that you had just killed a man. The first time is always the hardest, but you looked utterly shattered. It hurt him. It really and truly did.

After making that much noise the law would soon be arriving, so you all needed to get out of there as quickly as possible. You rode with Arthur and Boadicea after Karen had asked him to take you. You were still too shaken up to even climb the horse so Arthur had helped you up.

You were confused as to why he placed you at the front of the saddle instead of in the back. But before you could say anything he was already climbing onto the back. He grabbed the reins with both of his arms, caging you in place. You were too busy being somber to realize just how close you two were at the moment. You sighed softly and looked off to the side as Arthur spurred Boadicea forward. When she began picking up speed, Arthur snaked an arm around you as you went to grab her mane with one hand, the other still clutching the saddle bag against your chest. After a while you let go and slowly began settling further back into Arthur’s broad chest. Your eyes were beginning to feel heavy and so was the rest of your body as it rested comfortably against Arthur’s. It didn’t take long before you were nodding off, your head lolling to the side.

You woke up the next morning feeling somewhat refreshed. You didn’t know how you got here, all tucked in neatly into your bedroll until the memories of the prior day came back to you. Arthur. You sat up slowly, your stomach doing somersaults as you remembered his arm around your waist and the way you were propped up against his broad chest.

Then the memory of you killing Edson hit you like a ton of bricks.

You brought your hands up to your mouth as you stared at your blanket. “I killed him,” you whispered to yourself and felt your chest tightening. You looked down at your bloodstained shirt and quickly tugged it off, discarding it at the far end corner of your tent before grabbing a fresh blouse out of your small chest.

You went to lie back down again, your arms hugging your knees, feeling the heavy guilt gnawing deep in your chest. After a moment your eyes flickered towards the picture frame of your mother sitting atop a pile of worn books in the corner. “I didn’t mean to kill him momma,” you whispered before shutting your eyes tightly and weeping quietly.

You didn’t come out for breakfast, nor for lunch. Some of the girls checked in on you, offering you cups of water to which you gratefully accepted. But in the end you just really wanted to be by yourself and they understood. Even Miss Grimshaw left you alone despite the day being busy with all the packing needed to be done. You felt bad hearing them work hard and you were just here lying down being useless. That alone was enough to produce more tears.

When dinner time rolled around you were finally starting to feel a little hungry but you remained in your bedroll, not having the energy to get up. When you heard footsteps approaching towards the entrance you turned and waited. It was probably one of the girls. After a few moments of nothing but the sounds of insects and the barely audible camp conversations, you sat up with the intent of poking your head out when you heard him call your name softly.

“You asleep?”

Your breath hitched in your throat.

It almost felt weird having Arthur talking to you after all this time of ignoring you since that gun lesson incident. Sure, he had spoken a few words to you yesterday but you were too caught up with what happened to truly think anything about it. You weren’t in the right state of mind. You still weren’t. But you were now fully aware that he had acted a bit more polite towards you. Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all. You wouldn't have been able to bear it if he were still acting like a jerk to you after going through that predicament.

“No, I ain’t.” You murmured.

“I brought you some dinner. Thought you might want to put something in your stomach since you haven’t eaten anything all day.”

Your heart leapt. You began to feel all warm and fuzzy inside suddenly, even a tiny smile began forming on your lips unconsciously.

“I’ll just leave it out here.”

“You can come inside.” You blurted and held your breath in.

After what seemed like an eternity to you, you watched as your tent flap opened and Arthur came into view, a glorious one might you add. He briefly looked at you before looking down at the tin plate in his hand.

“It ain’t that great but it’ll fill you up.”

He extended it towards, crouching a bit lower as he took a slight step forward. He didn’t dare to fully step inside, wasn’t proper for a man and a woman to be alone together in a tent like this. Especially with you. He studied your features as you took the plate and thanked him with a weak smile. There was still enough light outside to make out you features. One thing he immediately took notice of was how puffy and red your eyes still were. What transpired back there was really affecting you more than he actually thought and that look of sympathy he had worn yesterday returned. He had a strong urge, and half a mind, to wrap you up in his arms and whisper comforting words to you. Sadly though that was never going to happen. But if he could find ways to comfort you in any form whatsoever then he sure as hell would go to great lengths to do so.

“Thank you. For rescuing me back there. I thought—,” your voice wavered and you took a deep, shaky breath before you continued. “I thought they were gonna turn me in to hang.”

Arthur shifted in his spot so that he was now kneeling on one leg. “Hey, you know we weren’t gonna let that happen to ya. We all look after each other. You’re part of the Van Der Lindes now.”

Your heart swelled at that. He had always made you feel unwelcomed here from the start, so hearing that from him now meant so much to you. And he had no idea how much it did. Tears began welling up in your eyes though they were a different kind. He quickly noticed them and shifted once again as he reached for his pocket of his pants and pulled out a blue patterned handkerchief. You looked at him as he extended it towards you, a single tear now rolling freely down your cheek.

“Don’t worry I washed it earlier,” he jested with a slight smile and you couldn’t help but chuckle softly at that as you took it from his hands. Your fingers brushed his in the process and you swore you heard him inhaling ever so lightly.

You brought the cloth up to your cheek and was immediately met by his scent, evergreen pine leaves with a hint of sandalwood. It brought you an immediate sense of comfort and peace, and you savored it all as you took your time to dab at your eyes.

“Well, I’ll leave you to it then. Make sure to eat everything up.” He started to withdraw then.

“Wait,” you called out and he immediately turned back to you. “Thank you, again, for what you did back there and for bringing me this plate of food.” You smiled at him before looking down at your plate, the smile fading now. “I’m sorry that I’ve been useless all day while everyone was out there working hard.” He sighed and shook his head. “Oh and here’s your handkerchief.” You extended it towards him but he shook his head once again.

“You’re not useless, if anything you’ve been a great help around here.” His eyes dropped to the handkerchief before looking back at you. “Keep it for now. You need it more than I do.” He tipped his hat at you with a small but reassuring smile and was gone soon after.

You sat there completely dazed and awestruck. You felt as if you were floating in the air. Did that really just happen? The image of Arthur tipping his hat towards you and smiling, oh that smile, burned into your mind. Aside from that, he reassured you of your place here in the gang and you were already feeling a bit better. It amazed you. You looked down briefly at the handkerchief in your hand before bringing it up towards your chest as you smiled dreamily and held it there for awhile. You felt like a schoolgirl but in that moment you didn’t care. You hadn’t felt like this since meeting Robert. You still miss him of course. You thought you would never overcome his death but ever since coming into the gang, making proper friends, things have changed. You were happier and healthier. Time had also really helped.

You hurriedly finished up your plate of food and laid back into your bedroll, holding the handkerchief to your cheek. The welcoming scent filled your nose and prompted more butterflies in your stomach. You began imagining then what it would feel like to be snuggled up against Arthur’s chest. To be wrapped up in his warm embrace. You can only dream of such a thing.

But alas, a dream was only a dream. You were sure Arthur would never look at you that way. He would never develop feelings for you like you suspected that you were already having for him. If anything, you were just one of the girls in the gang. You’ve seen the way he cared for them. Completely platonic.

That thought alone brought sadness to your doorstep once again.


Chapter Text

The first thing you saw when you opened your eyes was the rag doll you encountered in the general store a while back.

You brought a hand over your mouth as you sat up and reached for it, examining its intricate stitching details and beautiful clothing. Tears began to blur your vision as you kept staring at it. Right away you knew it was Arthur. Who else could it have been? No one besides him knew this small detail about you, and how this sort of thing held sentimental value to you.

This small gesture meant so much to you, it truly moved you.

After holding the doll to your chest and crying for a good solid minute you went to set it down gently on your bedroll, propping it on your makeshift pillow with a fond smile. Your eyes landed on Arthur’s handkerchief then and an idea popped in your mind. In a matter of seconds you had it folded into a triangular shape and wrapped securely around the dolls neck. A soft chuckle slipped past your lips as you leaned forward to press your nose against the handkerchief, inhaling its scent. With a smile on your face you began to get ready, eager to see and thank Arthur for the wonderful gift.

Once out of your tent you were greeted by a yawning Susan. “You feeling alright?”

You nodded with a brief smile and looked around the half empty camp. Most of the belongings were packed up in their respective places and ready to go. There was some little work left to do but other than that you were all definitely ready for the journey.

“I’ll be helping out today with the remainder of the work. Sorry I wasn’t able to be of much help yesterday,” you spoke quietly.

Miss Grimshaw shook her head and placed a hand on your shoulder. “Don’t be, dear. You needed the rest after what you’ve been through. If you’re sure you’re feeling better now you may help out. Just go get yourself something to eat, we need you strong for the journey ahead.” You nodded in response and headed towards the campfire to grab some coffee first before seeking out Arthur.

As soon as you poured yourself a cup you saw him standing at the far end of the camp, his back facing you while he spoke to Dutch. You waited for a good while until they were done speaking, not that you were complaining though since the view was rather pleasant. He was a brawny man and it didn’t help much that he was wearing a union shirt which only accentuated his muscles. You sighed softly and soon found yourself wondering how it would feel like to trace every line and shape with your fingers. You were so caught up that you didn’t notice Mary-Beth by your side, sipping on her own coffee.

“Enjoying the view?” She asked coyly with a smirk.

You almost jumped out of your reverie, blinking a few times before turning to her. “What?” She gave you a knowing look. “You were practically drooling just now.” She giggled into her cup, a glint of amusement in her eyes.

“T-that’s not— I wasn’t— I swear I was just staring off into space!” You stammered, turning to face the other.

The look on her face was enough to make you want to bolt out of there. She definitely wasn’t believing any of it and you could feel the heat blooming across your cheeks. You had just been caught red handed.

As quickly as you could you tried to come up with something to remedy the situation. No one, absolutely no one, can know of your little crush on Arthur Morgan. That’s right. You were sure that’s what it was now, a crush. And probably just a minor one that’ll go away after a while you figured.

“Alright, alright I was looking at him,” you began and noticed Javier at Pearson’s wagon behind Mary-Beth. You leaned toward and put on your best act as you whispered. “But only because I saw Javier looking at me earlier.” You gave her a look and pointed your chin behind her. She turned momentarily and her eyes immediately went wide. “You mean?” You nodded.

Maybe you shouldn’t have done that. One thing was denying your feelings for Arthur but lying about liking someone else? Well it was too late now. All you could do was watch Mary-Beth as she went through a series of expressions. “I really thought you and Arthur might have had something going on…”

You scoffed. “Yeah right you know we don’t get along. You just saw what you wanted to see, Mary-Beth. Sorry to break it to ya.”

She frowned a little before finally looking back at Javier who was now ambling towards the edge of the camp with a cigarette in hand. “I guess you’re right about that but hey Javier isn’t bad looking. You sure know how to pick them.” She giggled some more.

“Please don’t tell a single soul about this.”

“I won’t,” she promised. “I’m still kinda sad though. I really thought you n’ Arthur looked sweet together.”

You took a quick sip of your coffee and shrugged. “What can I say? I mean sure Arthur is nice to look at and that’s only sometimes but I’ve seen way better.” You didn’t realize then that you were speaking a bit loud and that Arthur just so happened to hear you talk about him as he passed by behind you.

“Oh speaking of which.” Mary-Beth’s eyes trailed after him. You turned to see him striding towards the horses.

“I’ll catch you later Mary-Beth. I gotta tell him something really quick.” She nodded and you hurriedly went on to catch up to him.

“Arthur!” You slowed down behind him as he stopped in front of Boadicea and took out a horse brush.

“Watchu want?” That threw you off a little. Wasn’t he just being nice to you the night before? Bringing you dinner, lending you his handkerchief, and even buying you one of those cute little dolls for your own source of comfort. While his tone wasn’t entirely rude like previous times you still felt a little hurt over it. He sounded somewhat irritated mixed in with his usual nonchalant attitude. You wrote it off as him being annoyed that you were interrupting the current grooming session. Guess that whole ‘being nice to you’ pass was a one day thing after all and it’s long been expired now.

“I just wanted to say thank you for last night, and the gift you left me.” You looked at him with a hopeful expression, wanting him to act the way he did with you last night. Only he didn’t.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he rumbled almost boredly.

You frowned and dropped your gaze to the ground. Was he lying now? “But how did—”

“Look I told Miss Grimshaw about it when she asked us if there was anything she could do to make you feel better. You know she really cares about you girls, even if it don’t seem that way sometimes.”

Your heart sank. You felt like an utter fool then and you quickly tried to justify yourself. “How was I supposed to know that? You were the only one who I told about the doll, just to be clear.”

“I know,” he replied curtly and continued to brush Boadicea’s long flowy mane.

You gazed at him with doleful eyes before he finally turned his head to the side, looking at you through his peripheral vision. “Do you mind? I can’t work properly with someone breathin’ down my neck.”

His nonchalance and rudeness completely sliced through you. The stinging pain left in its wake throbbed at the core in your chest. You wanted to be angry, you really did, but you just simply couldn’t. Instead, all there was left was sadness and the swelling pain in your heart. Not to mention immense disappointment.

“I’m sorry,” you murmured and left.

When he was sure you were gone, Arthur turned to confirm it and heaved a sigh of relief. He was glad that he had actually told Miss Grimshaw about that rag doll. After leaving your tent he talked to her briefly, telling her to take the full credit before leaving to go into town that late evening. It wasn’t an entire lie since she did care about your wellbeing. Everyone did.

It all paid off since you appeared to be a bit better this morning. Going into town, accidentally stepping into horse crap, almost getting into a scuffle over a misunderstanding, even getting a funny look from the clerk which Arthur didn’t care in the slightest, and then sneaking the gift into your tent without waking you up. Truthfully, he didn’t know where he stood with you after that night. The pair of you were acting so civilized towards each other. It was kind of nice for a change.

But of course, nice things don’t always last forever. And he knew that all too well, having experienced it firsthand. So why did he manage to get himself all tangled up in the skeins of that mess again? He hated himself for feeling the way he did after that night. Maybe he should’ve listened to that tiny voice in that corner of his mind all along that was only trying to protect him from any further damage. It tried telling him that this wasn’t a good idea. That he shouldn’t be seeking you out like that. It would only lead him down a path to pain and disappointment.

How could he possibly be so stupid yet again?

Those words he overheard you say about him hurt him more than he’d like to admit. He swore he felt less pain from the shoulder wound you inflicted upon him, in fact, any gunshot wound would have hurt less. If he wasn’t sure before then he was definitely sure now, you didn’t have an inkling of feelings for him. And why should you even? It’s like you mentioned earlier, there’s way better men you could find. Better status, better virtues, and better looking. Mary proved that when she went off and married that Barry person.

The truth always hurts.

And so once again Arthur Morgan was met with disappointment.

After you and some of the others finished the remainder of the packing, Dutch finally called everyone in for a quick meeting. He mentioned about traveling further down near the state line and that he had heard of something good going on down there with Hosea. You didn’t hear most of it though, fading in and out throughout the entirety of it all. You were too busy thinking back on your interaction with Arthur earlier.

You hadn’t realized the meeting had concluded when you felt a tap on your shoulder and you turned to see that it was Mary-Beth.

“You okay?”

You nodded as you managed to catch a glimpse of Arthur walking past with Hosea as the two discussed something intently.

“Are you gonna ride with us?” Mary-Beth smiled, gesturing towards the wagon that just so happened to be the one Arthur and Hosea were heading towards. Part of you didn’t want to, seeing as Arthur was regressing to his cold demeanor towards you. But the other part of you wanted to go, to be near him despite the encounter with him earlier.

“Alright. I’ll go.” Mary-Beth grinned. “Perfect!” She then lowered her voice, leaning forward and smirking. “Javier will also be riding with us.” Great. This was going to be the longest ride ever.

As soon as you hopped onto the back of the wagon you heard a low groan at the front. Almost immediately you noticed that it came from none other than Arthur himself. You wanted to snipe at him then and there but you held your tongue back, not wishing to give the rest of the folk there the displeasure of hearing you and Arthur argue. Shooting a quick smile at Hosea, you made yourself as comfortable as you could at your spot. Thankfully it was all the way at the far end away from Arthur’s seat in the front.

That man. It was incredible how fast he could make you want to throttle him. One could even call it a skill.

“Everyone ready?” Hosea questioned.

“Yes we’re all set to go,” Mary-Beth affirmed and soon enough you all were trailing after the rest of the departing wagons. Only you and Mary-Beth sat at the back along with a bunch of the camp supplies that could fit there. Javier was riding on Boaz next to the wagon while Boadicea and Silver Dollar were the ones moving it forward.

Dutch had told everyone to split paths earlier so it wouldn’t draw unnecessary attention with all the posse traveling together. Cue thirty minutes into the journey and you were all completely separated from the rest of the gang, being the only ones on the road now. Small talk was exchanged amongst you all since then, well except between you and Arthur that is. Not a single word that came out of him since leaving was directed at you. It was almost like nothing had ever changed, except for the fact that you felt disappointed instead of angry now.

From where you were sat you could see some of his side profile. He occasionally turned towards Hosea when conversing with the older man and you stole a few subtle glances here and there as you spoke with Mary-Beth and Javier.

You were thankful Mary-Beth wasn’t trying anything now that she “knew about your crush.” You were considering telling her the truth once you all settled into the new campsite, just in case things got out of hand, when out of nowhere you heard shouting at the front.

“Put your hands up this is a stick up!” A masked man yelled as they pointed their repeater at Hosea. Four more appeared from the trees, two on each side of the wagon, pointing their guns at you all. You heard Arthur cursing under his breath. “I said hands up!” He did as he was told, the rest of you already had your hands in midair. Great. This was just what you all needed.

It was then that you felt a barrel pressing against your back and Mary-Beth gasped as the same thing was done to her. “Off or we’ll shoot you ladies!” They barked at you both and you felt your stomach sinking but you did as you were told almost immediately.

“This is what’s gonna happen, you men are gonna give us all the money you have on you and then you’ll be able to walk away unscathed. We’ll stay with the wagons. And the women.”

The other men started chuckling sinisterly. You felt sick to your stomach then, panic rising for a moment.

“If anyone tries to be a hero we’ll shoot one of these girls.”

One of the men grabbed you from behind and pressed the barrel of his revolver against the side of your head. You whimpered but you still held your hands up in surrender. You watched as they did the same to Mary-Beth. The poor girl looked like she was about to break down into tears.

You looked over at Arthur just as he was forced to climb down from his spot. He glanced at you before glaring at the robber that held him at gunpoint.

The dangerous look on his face said it all. He wanted to kill these bastards.

Chapter Text

Arthur had no idea how he was going to stop these robbers. He didn’t want to risk losing you and Mary-Beth. 

The only way he saw that he could succeed in bringing you girls back to safety was actually letting the robbers take you. He didn’t like that idea one bit but he wasn’t just gonna draw his gun and shoot. That would get you all killed. Arthur Morgan was anything but stupid.

“How about you just take the wagon and the girls then.” He rumbled bluntly. “Just leave us the horses and we’ll be off.”

Your jaw dropped. What exactly was he getting at? You glanced over at Mary-Beth who looked at Arthur in bewilderment. The man in charge was just as confused. “What are you playin’ at?”

“Just trying to make a decent deal with you, Mister. We can always replace this wagon and as for the women? Well they’re just some working girls we picked up.”

Your nose flared. Was this part of his idea now? To degrade you girls like that. You silently cursed him. Mary-Beth looked like she wanted to punch Arthur right then and there. Hosea and Javier appeared to be less concerned now, almost curious as to see how this would pan out.

“They don’t look like working girls,” one of the robbers began. “Of course not you idiot they’re not dressed like one,” another said. “Oh I love it when they dress up decent when we know they’re anything but.” They all erupted in laughter.

“Well it’s a done deal sir. Just hurry up and get the horses.” The leader turned and leered at you. “Can’t wait to try this one out myself first.” He chuckled darkly and you felt like you were gonna hurl right then and there. 

After the so called deal was done, you and Mary-Beth were tied and thrown at the back of the wagon that was now tethered to two horses that belonged to the robbers. You watched as the three Van der Linde men mounted their horses and galloped away down the dirt path, disappearing around a bend of the wooded area. They better hurry up before you strangle them, more specifically Arthur.

The three men had cut through the woods and were heading to the main pathway now. Arthur had seen the map of the area and knew that there was a bridge ahead with a wide river running below it. The robbers would surely have to cross it.

“Let’s stop here,” he told Hosea and Javier as they finally reached a clearing. The three waited until they saw the band of robbers ahead, and as soon as they were a few feet away from the bridge Arthur turned towards the other two.

“Alright. Javier you take out the rider on the left and Hosea you take out the two on the right. I’ll take care of the other two in the front.” The three of them then galloped towards the ruffians and began opening fire, taking the group by complete surprise. It didn’t take long before they were all dead.

“Bunch’a idiots,” Arthur muttered as he holstered his revolver. Hosea and Javier were already cutting you and Mary-Beth loose. Arthur went on to loot the one that held him at gunpoint earlier, taking back the money that was robbed along with other few goods. “Everyone alright?” 

“Yeah, except for the rope burns on our wrists.” Mary-Beth grumbled. “But thank you boys for rescuing us.” You followed suit and quietly thanked them too. 

“I’m glad you girls are okay,” Hosea sighed. “We got lucky there. Let’s keep a better eye out next time and not let our guard down. We still need about another half hour ride.” He then turned to the two work horses tethered to the front. “I suppose we now have new horses.”

“Good, we needed them. That just saved us the time to go out and rob some.” Arthur popped a cigarette in his mouth and went to light it up. “We ready to go now?” 

You were the last group to arrive at the new campsite and were immediately greeted with Miss Grimshaw’s voice ordering everyone around. This was your second time moving with the gang so you had firsthand experience on how she operated. Whilst she may be bossy and mean at times you knew that she only wanted the best for everyone here. Where would the gang be without her after all? She was the backbone of the team when it came to orderliness. 

The bustling and shouts from all around the place continued as Hosea pulled the wagon at the edge of the camp. Miss Grimshaw was the first to notice the five of you. “Oh finally! We were beginning to wonder where all’a you went.”

“We were delayed by some robbers along the way,” Arthur informed. “Took care of em.”

“As it should have been. Now make yourselves helpful and pitch up those tents over here.” You all nodded and moved towards them. Unknowingly you and Arthur walked over to the same one. You thought it was Javier or Hosea that was next to you. He didn’t notice you at his side either, too busy thinking about getting this chore over. 

You both reached for the same wooden pole and you accidentally grazed his hand. The two of you immediately retracted and exchanged quiet apologies. Your gaze never left the ground but you saw that he had shuffled away from you altogether, situating himself at the other side of the tent. 

The gesture hurt you.

You sighed softly but continued with the work, daring to glance at Arthur every now and then. Not once did he look at you. In fact, he worked hurriedly on his half before moving on to another tent. You on the other hand took your time. 

Once you finished and began to work on the remaining tent you immediately noticed that Arthur was already done with his portion of the work. He looked around to see if anything else needed to be done, meeting your eyes in the process. At that moment the two poles that you were trying to tie together slipped from your hold. Arthur stood there as he contemplated on whether or not to help you as you crouched down to pick up what you had just dropped. 

In the end he averted his eyes and left to another part of the camp. When you looked up you saw him leaving, going up to Lenny to help him unload a few crates from one of the wagons. You huffed a little and went back to work. Were you really getting mad over the fact that Arthur didn't offer to help you? Maybe just a little bit. But you’ll get over it quick, or at least you hope that you would. 

As you thought about him while you worked on the tent you couldn’t help but feel a little down. Why he was occupying your mind in the first place was beyond you. If he didn’t want to be amiable then that was on him. 

And yet, you wished things weren’t like this between you anymore. You missed the way he had looked at you and talked to you that night. That one night when you thought maybe things had gotten better between you two for good. What a fool you were to think that.

You shook your head as you tried to dismiss those thoughts. But after a while you found that you couldn’t. Just when your thoughts were beginning to ride in the opposite direction they made a sudden 180 turn and went back to him. Grabbing the hammer you quickly gave the metal stake on the floor a series of powerful hits before someone came up behind you.

“That poor stake. Who are you imagining in its place?” Hosea chuckled and went to grab an extra stake from the bag at your side. 

“Arthur if it has to be anyone,” you murmured.

“Oh, you two are still not getting along I see.” He knelt down at the other end and began hammering down the stake in his hand. “I’ll see if I can talk to him. That boy is more stubborn than a mule.”

“You really don’t have to Hosea. It’s fine really. No one can force him to like me.” You smiled weakly and began tying the tent ropes around the half buried shaft. “I really don’t care anymore.” You didn’t know why tears began pricking your eyes then. Why of all times did it had to be specifically in this instant. Maybe it had to do with Hosea being concerned over something that was concerning you as well. The notion of this shared concern indicated that Hosea did care about you and not just what you could bring to the table for the gang. You could see his compassion shining through. He was probably the only man in camp that truly cared about your well-being.

Hosea sighed softly as he saw you struggling to fight back the tears that were threatening to fall. “Come, my dear.” He offered you his hand to which you took immediately. He helped you up from your spot and told you to follow him. 

The two of you walked past the edge of the campsite and through the dense trees. Before you knew it a creek appeared ahead and you gasped a little. Pink and yellow flowers dotted the bank on either side. The grass in that area was greener than the one back at camp. A few colorful butterflies fluttered by as birds warbled in the background. The chirping of crickets and the burble of the creek water made for a peaceful environment. The whole scene looked like a paradise dream. You smiled as you took in everything and neared the water.

“I knew you’d like this place.” Hosea walked over next to you, placing his hands on his hips and following your gaze. “Found it while out here scouting with Dutch.”

“It’s gorgeous.” Your smile widened as you went to crouch down, dipping the tips of your fingers into the freshwater. “What I wouldn’t give to go into the water right now.” You had noticed earlier that the weather here was warmer than the one in the last campsite. The summer season had already arrived but the effects of it were now fully kicking in now that you all were here. 

“You’ll have plenty of chances.” Hosea chuckled before making his way towards two boulders resting at the edge of the creek. “Now, about you and Arthur.” 

Your smile faded at the sound of his name. You turned towards the older man and shrugged. “There’s nothing much to discuss about that matter.”

“You were about to cry back there.” Hosea pointed out and observed you carefully. 

You sighed and moved towards him, settling on the boulder next to the one he was on. “I guess…” You sighed once more. “I guess that it did—or rather does —affect me.” You couldn’t lie to him. “I thought things were finally changing that night after the robbery I did. After I...killed Edson.” You turned away, the guilt grasping onto you again. “Arthur made me feel better. But then the next day he went on back to his old ways, treating me coldly and acting like the whole thing the night before didn’t happen.”

“I didn’t know about this. I’m sorry that you had to go through that.” Hosea stayed quiet for a moment, rubbing his chin as he stared into the water pensively. “Something must’ve happened for Arthur to make that sudden change.” 

You knitted your brows together, looking at the older man as if had grown a second head. He took quick notice of that and turned towards you.

“You don’t know him very well like I do. I’ve practically raised him. Trust me.” He paused and looked at you almost expectantly. 

“Maybe. But I just think he doesn’t like me, plain and simple. Why else would he act like that towards me?”

“He likes you.”

“But I just said that he doesn’t.”

Hosea chuckled heartily and said your name fondly. “He likes you as in he’s interested in you.”

You blinked a couple of times. Either he was joking or he was seeing things that weren’t there. You then burst out laughing, covering your mouth in the process and holding your stomach. “You’re pulling my leg aren’t you.” You playful slap at his arm softly but he just sat there shaking his head with a frown on his lips.

“Why would I be joking about this.”

You froze. Slowly, you uncovered your mouth and brought your hand down on your lap to join the other. “W-what do you mean he likes me? It’s obvious that he doesn’t. Ever since I mistakenly shot him and when Dutch didn’t let him turn me in for money. Not to mention that he didn’t want me to be a part of this gang in the first place.”

Hosea nodded. “But somewhere along the way he must’ve discovered that he had some feelings for you, and knowing him he didn’t want them. So he’s just trying to push you away now.” 

You looked down at your hands, twiddling your thumbs as you felt your heart picking up its pace. “W-why doesn’t he want them?”

“That’s a story for another time. All I can say is that Arthur’s heart has been broken before. He’s just trying to look out for himself when it comes to that matter. But don’t go telling him that.” You nodded in response and Hosea stood up then. “Well, I suppose we should get going. Miss Grimshaw might be wondering where we’re at. She might think we’re escaping our duties.” He chuckled a little and offered you his hand. You smiled and took it.

As the two of you strolled side by side back to the camp, you couldn’t get your mind off of what Hosea had said earlier. Arthur liking you but not wanting to. And then there was the matter of his broken heart. But who could it have been? Who had the audacity to do such a thing to him? Anyone would be lucky to have him at their side. You’ve seen the way he treats others at camp (well the ones that he actually likes). The way he treats the girls had you wishing he could treat you like that, even if it were a fraction of that.

But then again you found yourself wishing most of those days. Wishing that Dutch would hurry with his ‘grand plan’ for freedom, wishing you could live a better life, but most of all wishing to be truly happy. It wasn’t like you were completely unhappy either, you just weren’t at the point in your life where things were seemingly perfect for you. But to be completely honest you weren’t even sure you were going to reach that level of happiness. Being in the gang was only temporary but would you truly find a place to settle in? What about finding someone special to fall in love with like you did before?

Your thoughts began drifting back to Arthur then. It was stupid that you were even thinking about it but Hosea did say that Arthur might have some feelings for you. Could it even be possible that he did? The prospect of that had your heart racing in an instant again. 

You had to find out yourself, though walking up to him and asking was out of the question. If only it were that easy.

Chapter Text

You had been watching him all morning. 

Mary-Beth had mentioned what to look for in a person that could hint at them liking you.

So for the last four hours you’ve been looking out for those signs. And so far he had displayed none of them, he didn’t even spare you a glance throughout the entirety of it. You were disappointed to say the least and had soon given up.

It was almost midday now and the summer sun peeking through the leaves of the treetops burned your skin from where you were standing now. Miss Grimshaw had sent you to wash the dishes so you couldn’t do anything about the sun. Even with your sleeves pulled down and getting soaked, the sun still got through the material. The only other option left was for you to try to do them as quickly as possible.

“You okay there?” Javier walked up to you.

“Uh yeah. Just feeling hot and miserable here,” you jested with a smile, glancing at him before looking back down at the tin plate in your hand.

“Sorry to hear that. Maybe we can add a little something here to shield you from the sun. I’ll be right back.”

You nodded and watched him leave. That’s when you spotted Mary-Beth standing off to the side, holding her book and smirking at what she had just witnessed. You shook your head and groaned under your breath. You hoped your interaction with Javier right now wasn’t her doing. Although he had always been nice and friendly towards you, he had never came up to you like that in the past. You were getting suspicious.

Javier came back a few moments later with what appeared to be a tent cloth, a hammer along with a few nails, and two wooden poles. “Found this old thing while unpacking. Lemme just…” He trailed off and walked over at the back of the wagon and hopped on. He placed one of the ends of the cloth at the top edge of the wagon and nailed them down. He then hopped off and proceeded to tether the two poles at the opposite end of the cloth. It was now currently hovering over you, shading you perfectly well from the sun. 

You looked up at the tent cloth as a wide smile made its way across your face. “Oh my, it’s perfect! Thanks Javier!” 

He mirrored your smile. “No problem. It’s not much but in the near future we’ll pitch up a better one. Pearson had been mentioning it but I guess he forgot.” 

You let out a small chuckle with a shake of your head. “Yeah I heard him say that a couple of times too. But you know how he is, once he’s done with cooking he seems to forget about everything else.” 

You both chuckled in sync. You didn’t notice Arthur emerging from the woods behind the wagon, coming back from his cigarette break. His attention was immediately drawn to you and Javier laughing like a pair of old friends by the wash basin. He didn’t even realize that he slowed his pace as he watched you smiling brightly at the other. His stomach took a nosedive then, and almost immediately willed himself to start leaving. 

“Hey Arthur,” Javier called out to him. “Back from your cigarette break?” Arthur only grunted as he walked briskly past the wagon. 

Your eyes flickered towards him, his side profile visible for a moment before he disappeared out of view past the wagon. “What’s gotten into him?” 

“Like Uncle had simply put before, he has a stick up his ass.” You both burst out laughing.

Arthur heard you two laughing again despite already gaining some distance. He pushed back his tent flaps and stalked inside. It was an innocent and simple interaction, yet he was beyond annoyed. 

The way you shined as you smiled at Javier. The way you seemed to have really enjoyed his company. And the way you laughed he swore he never heard it like that before. Then it dawned on him.

For the first time in a long time Arthur Morgan was jealous .

That little green monster inside was going to ruin him. He just had to hope for the best that avoiding you now more than ever would be a solution. What was it that they said? Out of sight out of mind. It was definitely going to be a big challenge. He was a fool but he had to try at least. It was more than likely that his jealousy was making him see and hear things that weren’t there. 

Arthur hated it.

He pinched the bridge of his nose as he settled at the edge of his cot. At that moment he heard Hosea calling to him outside his tent. He sighed before letting him in.

By the time Javier and you had finished conversing you had concluded your fair share of chores for the time being. You immediately scanned the area for Arthur but found he was nowhere in sight. Boadicea was still in her hitching post so that only meant two things, either he was in his tent or he went out into the surrounding areas again. You decided to check for yourself.

As casually as you could you began to head towards the direction of his tent. You veered off to the right as you stopped by a mini campfire to pick up the coffee pot on the ground, pretending to check if it was empty. No one seemed to have noticed you but the idea of you sneaking towards Arthur’s tent had you paranoid. You were only a few paces away from the tent now but you decided you were going to approach it from behind where the ammunitions were. At least if someone catches you’d have an excuse there.

You neared the tent cautiously and immediately realized that Arthur was with someone. You glanced around before taking a step closer.

Inside Arthur and Hosea were having a deep discussion. Arthur yet again denying he had any feelings and accusing Hosea of seeing something that just wasn’t there.

“I don’t know where you got this wild assumption that I liked her. I can assure you that I don’t and never will. I just find her annoying. We didn’t need another person tagging along when we had enough problems and you know that.”

“Yes but she’s been such a big help so far. You can’t deny how much she’s help Susan and dare I say? Even more so than the rest of the girls.” Hosea gave him a stern look. 

“Okay I can’t deny that now. But that still don’t mean I have to like her. She just has this... thing—I don’t know. I just can’t seem to warm up entirely to her, Hosea.” Arthur shrugged and the two sat in silence for some time. You waited with bated breath, brows crinkled and lips pressed together. Your hands clung to the sides of your apron.

“I’m sorry that I assumed you had feelings for her.” Your heart sank again as your breath hitched in your throat. “I just had this intuition. I’m sure I was right about it.”

“Nah, don’t be. We all make mistakes sometimes. I’ve made them plenty. Especially with Mary.”

“You know, it would have been nice for you to have found someone else and make you forget about her.”

“And you thought that was gonna be the princess out there.” They both chuckled quietly before Hosea corrected him and said your name. “She’s a nice girl. Hardworking and knows her values. She’s also pretty.”

“Yeah, I’m not saying she ain’t. Only thing is she ain’t Mary. She’ll never be the one to make me forget her and she sure as hell won’t ever make me feel the same way Mary did.” 

You couldn’t listen to anymore of that conversation, in fact you shouldn’t have been eavesdropping in the first place. You covered your mouth as you tore towards your tent, almost crashing into Abigail. You threw her a quick apology, barely glancing at her as she worriedly called after you.

You crawled into your small tent space. The tears began falling then as you sat there on your knees. After about a minute you noticed the doll that still had Arthur’s handkerchief wrapped around its neck. You crawled towards it and pulled the fabric off. You stared at it for a moment before clenching your teeth and bunching the fabric up in your fist and throwing it at the side. Why did you have to fall for someone like Arthur Morgan? Why couldn’t you had just reciprocated the same feelings he showed towards you? You hated it. Hated being here now. 

You didn’t know how much longer you could bear it. You needed to get away and fast. Maybe some time away from camp would do you good. You still had the money from the last robbery you did so you could head into the nearest town and get a hotel room for the night.

As quickly as you could, you began to pack up a few of your belongings in an old cloth duffle bag. You only packed a change of clothes along with undergarments, a wooden hair brush, your coin purse, your revolver, a sheathed knife, and finally the doll that you initially thought Arthur gave you. His handkerchief still laid bunched up on the ground and you stared at it for a good few seconds before reaching over for it with a huff and stuffing it in your bag. 

By that time you finished you heard Pearson calling everyone for lunch. You sighed, knowing that you couldn’t slip away right now. Maybe you’ll just have to wait until everyone was fast asleep so you wouldn’t get caught. 

You quickly grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper then, scribbling a note to leave for Miss Grimshaw. You mentioned how you weren’t feeling well and were going to see the town doctor. You also added that you were going to stay at a hotel for the night. It wasn’t a complete lie, you did feel awful. You folded the note and stepped out of your tent after that, hating how you immediately looked towards Arthur’s tent across the camp. 

The flap opened and you saw him exiting. Your jaw tightened and you stood there for a good while as you watched him saunter towards the big pot of stew at the fire. Lenny and Sean greeted him and the three began chatting away like happy friends. Arthur laughed then and you felt your heart stop for a moment. 

You wanted to dislike him, you really did. The way he still made you feel even after everything that transpired. And especially after what you heard earlier. Maybe you should’ve never agreed to join up with the gang in the first place. Arthur was right about that, once again proving that he was right about most things.

After the three finally left you slowly made your way over to the pot. Some of the other girls were already there and upon seeing you they greeted you with big smiles. You smiled, albeit weakly, at them and greeted them back. 

Not really in the mood to interact further, you hung in the back of the little group as they continued chatting and taking turns serving themselves.

You tried to eat but you’ve lost what little appetite you had earlier while you were busy packing for the night. The girls noticed and asked if you were alright. You only shrugged a little and told them you weren’t that hungry before growing silent once again. 

And it was the same case when dinner rolled around. Somewhere in the middle of it you had excused yourself and trudged towards your tent. You felt exhausted, and with reason since you hadn’t eaten much since breakfast. But aside from the physical aspect you felt emotionally tired as well. Drained even. You decided to take a brief nap and see if that helped.

After carefully and quietly leaving the note at Miss Grimshaw’s tent, you adjusted your duffle bag on your shoulder and slinked towards the hitching posts. You had decided to take one of the horses, specifically the one that belonged to one of the robbers from the wagon incident. You still needed to get a horse but haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe you could buy one in town now that you have sufficient money. It wouldn’t be anything fancy but at least you’d have a mare to go around with. For now this one would have to do, you just wished it had a saddle.

As quietly as you could you rode away, not once looking back at the camp. Once out of range you stopped the horse off to the side and took your lantern out to light up. The map you had taken along with you on the trip was wrinkled and had some yellow stains on them, most likely belonging to whiskey or beer. You had borrowed it from Uncle so there’s that. According to the map you still needed a good stretch of land to get across to. The town you were heading towards wasn’t the closest but you did hear Lenny mentioned that they sold horses there unlike the other town that was the closest to camp. 

About five more minutes passed as you rode peacefully. The beginnings of exhaustion were slowly wrapping themselves around you and it wasn’t long before you began to feel heavy. You shook your head and opened your eyes to try and stay awake, spurring the horse to go faster. 

Somewhere along the way you must have taken a wrong turn. You couldn’t remember if you made a right or left turn when reaching a fork in the path. A sign indicating the town’s direction should have appeared by now.

You slowed the horse and pulled your map out again. After studying it for a while, you realized that you must have taken the left  pathway instead of the right otherwise you wouldn’t have been surrounded by the creepy looking woods. The mist that began settling around the area sent chills throughout your bones and goosebumps began forming. You’ve heard of scary tales that occurred in settings such as this one. In a matter of seconds the mist had blanketed the vicinity in layers. You swiftly turned the horse around and began heading back where you came from, the disconcerting environment and thoughts only putting you more on edge

A rustling at the side made you freeze and before you had a chance to turn towards the source of the noise you heard a low pitched howl. It was drawn out and the horse immediately whinnied and snorting in fear as it glanced towards its side. Soon enough you heard others not far behind, making your blood run icy cold. Without another moment to lose you urged the horse forward. The pack of wolves emerged from the tree line and began gaining on you all while growling fiercely. 

One of them jumped in the air just as you were checking over your shoulder. You screamed but managed to veer the horse to the right, the lantern and map slipping from your hands in the process. The wolf managed to nip at your coat in mid air, tearing the fabric off. You spurred the horse to go faster, realizing you two were now heading into the woods. The trees weren’t as dense here but it still made you nervous. You quickly dug into your bag and pulled out your revolver with a shaky grip as the wolves continued barreling towards you. 

“Go away!” You screamed and fired a few rounds at them. One of the bullets hit one of the beasts as you heard a yelp followed by a few fading whimpers. The injured animal turned to the side and limped away. One less problem but there were still three more at your tail. 

A string of curses spilled from your lips. You still had three more rounds until you had to reload. The trees were becoming denser by now and you needed to get rid of your aggressors fast. You looked over your shoulder again but before you could pull the trigger the horse jolted and skidded to a stop. You lost your balance and fell. 

There was a slope ahead that you didn’t notice before, and now you found yourself tumbling down it. You screamed as you continued falling. All you could think was that this was it. This was how you were going to leave the world.

And then you collided onto a thick brush, breaking your fall.

You groaned and laid there awkwardly at your side. At least the mist wasn’t present on this side of the woods anymore. You could see a little more of the surrounding area thanks to the moonlight filtering through the leaves.

Slowly you felt yourself sinking then. A surge of panic ripped through you as you tried to hold onto something to ground you. Everything you grabbed at broke away from the brush until you reached below with your hands and grabbed a thick root. You exhaled slowly as you tried to calm your hammering heart in your chest.

It was then that you realized the wolves were gone. You heard nothing but the chirping of insects and a few hooting owls. You heaved a deep sigh of relief, wincing a little at the pain that shot through your chest. 

All you needed to do now was to try to find a way to climb back up and look for the runaway horse, provided that the wolves wouldn’t make a comeback.

This was definitely going to be a long night. 

Chapter Text

You were at the bottom of the slope now, thankful to finally have your feet grounded.

It took you quite awhile to get down there, you were afraid to take another tumble and this time break something. You were lucky you landed on this thick brush to begin with. Even more so to have gotten rid of the wolves.

You only had a few scratches here and there on your face, hands, and the bottom of your legs with the way your skirt bunched up on the way down. You could still feel the light stings but other than that you felt fine.

You were currently trying to find your shoulder bag. It was hard to do so with insufficient lighting. The moon occasionally gave you enough leeway to see your surroundings a little better but then it would hide behind the clouds shortly afterwards. You had no idea what time it was, but it was definitely becoming late now.

With an exasperated sigh you kicked the dirt below you and trudged forward. Not a second too soon you felt something at your foot, tripping over whatever it was that was beneath you. You let out a yelp and landed on your hands and knees. Looking behind you you noticed a small shape on the floor and realized that it was your bag.

“Oh thank goodness.” You breathed out in relief as you took it in your arms and stood up. You were still missing your revolver and the horse you had borrowed, not to mention the oil lamp that you desperately needed right now.

You glanced up at the dirt slope. There was no way you were going to be able to climb up there. You needed to find a way around it or find an entry point where the ground wasn’t as steep as the one here.

And so you began trekking along the base of the slope, hoping that you could find access to elevated ground soon before exhaustion overcomes you.

By the time you found a way up and were trying to get out of the woods, so to speak, dawn was beginning to break through the dark clouds. You had no idea where in the hell you were. You had basically walked all night and needed a break. Your feet were killing you and the bag slung over your shoulder felt like it weighed a ton now. You wished the horse you had borrowed were here with you.

The possibility of the wolves returning still lingered at the back of your mind, and yet if you didn’t take a short break any time soon you were bound to collapse from exhaustion. You sighed defeatedly as you continued trudging forward.

Suddenly an idea came to mind.

You scanned the vicinity as you stopped in your tracks. When you found what you were looking for you quickly made your way over and began to climb the tall tree, its thick and wide branches making it an easier task.

Once safely situated on top, you rested your back against the trunk and sighed softly as you hugged your bag against your chest. At least from this spot you were shielded by the leaves and branches. You were sure nothing and no one would see you up here unless they look closely. It was almost too perfect, with the way the broad branch beneath you had a small split that made it easier for you to settle onto so you wouldn’t fall. You finally felt somewhat safe.

It didn’t take long before you were drifting off into a deep slumber.

At least your dreams were nice compared to the grisly night you had spent. Exploring beautiful scenic landscapes helped you feel safer and brought a great sense of tranquility and comfort through your sleep.

It was too perfect until you started to hear the cries of an animal. You woke up, the daylight blinding you, and realized that the sounds weren’t coming from your dream. The heat was noticeable then, sweat rolling down the sides of your face. You peeled off your coat before leaning to the side and spotting a deer a few feet away through the leaves. It appeared to be in pain as it stood there and whimpered. After a few moments of observation you noticed that it was looking at a metal clasp around its leg. “Oh no.”

Your first instinct was to climb down and help the poor creature. But if there was a bear trap there then that meant that there must be a bear around these parts. That’s the last thing you needed right now. You closed your eyes and mulled over what you should do for a moment. The cries continued and you eventually decided to help the poor little deer. You were going to have to climb down this tree eventually and find your way back to camp either way.

As you carefully climbed down you looked around to see if there was any sign of the bear. When it looked safe you hurriedly strode over to the animal. It whined and thrashed as you drew closer.

“Shh it’s okay.” You reached for one of the iron jaws as the deer whipped its head towards you, eyes widening in panic. You paused as you looked at it. “I’m going to set you free okay? Don’t move.” You began to pry open the trap with all your might. The deer mewled some more and after a while the clasps began letting up. “Almost...there,” you heaved.

With one last pull the jaws opened free and the deer scrambled up to its feet, its injured hind leg immediately bending inwards. It whined and limped away as fast as it could. You stood up and dusted your hands off as you watched it scamper further into the woods before picking up your shoulder bag. You had to be careful where you stepped from now, there could be more traps ahead.

You looked up at the sky to take note of the sun’s position through the treetops. You estimated it to be around noon now, no doubt having slept through the entirety of the morning. You didn’t feel as exhausted as before, only a little sore and in minor pain from the tumble you took.

From the looks of it you had to head eastbound to reach the path, if any. Now that you’ve gathered your bearings again you wasted no time and continued hiking cautiously. More time passed but you still hadn’t reached any clearing with a dirt road. The soreness throughout your body heightened as you continued lumbering forward. The heat wasn’t helping much either. To make matters even worse you were starting to feel hungry and thirsty.

You wiped away at the sweat accumulating on your brow and looked towards the sun that was now lowering in the west skies. You had to hurry before nightfall. You were lucky enough not to have run into wolves or a bear so far, and you’d like to keep it that way.

The gentle sound of streaming water reached your ears then, and you quickly noticed a small creek ahead. You made a brief stop and sipped some very needed water there before splashing some of it on your face. You felt a whole lot better now and decided to continue onwards.

Seconds turned into minutes and minutes into hours. Your whole body screamed with soreness again but you kept pushing through. The sun was now halfway setting in the sky. Half of the clouds that rolled in earlier were now a shade of light grey, causing part of the sky to be dark while the other was still illuminated by the sun. If it weren’t for your current condition you would have been admiring the view above.

You noticed that the trees were thinning out now. A few tree stumps dotted the area, indicating that you were probably close to the edge of the woods. A smile stretched across your lips as you picked up your pace. After a while you spotted a clearing just up ahead, a dirt road barely visible but still there. You broke out into a relieved chuckle and bounded towards it. Hopefully you’d run into someone who would give you directions.

The sun was now dangerously low, hues of purple and orange decorating the expanse of the sky. You scanned the length of the dirt road ahead but there wasn't anyone passing by. You weren’t exactly sure which way to go anymore but you knew you had traveled south for a while so you decided to head up north on the trail.

After a while you reached a crossroad, the west path leading into the woods that you just came from and the opposite one leading to who knows where. You couldn’t read what the sign pointing in that direction read due to the lack of lighting so you stepped closer to it, barely making out the words there through the soft streaks of violets and blues from the disappearing sun.

“Pinehurst.” You read softly before heaving a sigh of relief. You remembered seeing that name on the map. It was a fairly small town, smaller than the other two that were closer to camp. You shivered slightly then as a gust of wind swept by, prompting you to slip on your coat.

As you adjusted your shoulder bag you spotted a faint light in the distance, a lone rider coming from the direction of that town. You could ask them how much further until Pinehurst, maybe they could even turn back to take you if you paid them.

You quickly dug through your duffle bag and found the sheathed knife just in case they tried anything funny. Before you had a chance to hide it underneath your blouse you saw that the lone rider was now speeding towards you. You scramble to the side as they skidded to a stop next to you and called out your name.

“Arthur?” Your eyes went wide. “W-what are you doing here?”

Arthur climbed down from Boadicea and practically shoved his lantern into your face. You noticed the worried look in his eyes but also relief as he inspected you. Your hair was currently unruly and still had a few leaves stuck in them. There were small cuts that littered your face along with dirt smudges. The front of your blouse and collar were dirty and as he lowered the lamp to your skirt he saw the rips and tears along its length.

That gesture brought about self-conscious until Arthur spoke your name once again, this time softly and almost delicately. “What happened to ya?”

You shrugged a shoulder. “I, uh, I was chased through the woods by a pack of wolves. The horse threw me off a long slope, was lucky to land on a thick brush to break my fall. I found my way up and out of there and here I am.”

Arthur hummed and inspected you once more. “You got lucky there. Next time don’t go runnin’off by yourself like that. It was stupid and foolish and idiotic. Did I mention stupid?”

You pressed your lips together and looked down. “I know,” you replied quietly before peeking at him sheepishly, your head still lowered. “You still didn’t answer my question though.”

Arthur stepped back and placed a hand on his belt. “You had everyone worried sick. The girls went into Nine Oaks this mornin’ to look for ya but when they couldn’t find you at the doctors or anywhere for that matter they came back and told us. Most of the camp had been out searchin’ for you this afternoon. Some even went into Greenstone.” He paused momentarily and shifted in his stance. “John had found the horse you took at the edge of the woods and we couldn't help but think that somethin’ bad must’ve happened to ya.” He sighed. “I decided to come check this place over here though, just in case. Lucky me I guess.”

“I guess it really was just luck.” You looked up at the sky and noticed the clouds had turned into an ominous shade of grey, feeling a few tiny drops on your face. “We should go before it starts rainin’. Can we go into town and stay there?”

Arthur scoffed a little. “Why, are ya scared of a little rain?”

“No! I’m just tired and want to go to sleep.”

“Well too bad, princess. I just came from there and I have no intentions of turnin’ back around again. We’re just gonna have to move forward. The sooner the better. We’ll be in camp in about 30 minutes or so if ya just get on.”

Please,” you pleaded.


He hopped onto Boadicea and held his hand out. You stood there hesitantly as you pressed your lips together for a moment. After feeling a couple of more rain drops falling on you, you finally gave in and grabbed his hand. This took Arthur by complete surprise, not expecting you to accept his helping hand like previous times.

After hauling you up on Boadicea the two of you were now heading up the north path. You held onto his shoulders as you nervously watched the skies above. It didn’t take long before the summer rain began descending down on you three. That wasn’t what really worried you though. There was still a possibility that it wouldn’t come but that was just wishful thinking.

Your fear was confirmed when a flash of lightning illuminated the skies above followed by a low rumbling of thunder that prompted you to flinch. The downpour then commenced. “Ah shit!” Arthur spurred Boadicea to pick up more speed. “Didn’t think the rain would get here this soon.” You didn’t reply as you were too busy attempting to remain calm and trying to shield your face from the deluge. The three of you were soon soaking wet.

Another bright fork of lightning split through the sky. This time the thunder that followed was louder than than the previous one and you yelped as you wrapped your arms tightly around Arthur’s midsection.

“What’s the matter?” He asked loudly over the pouring rain as he briefly looked over his shoulder.


“Are ya—are ya scared of thunder?”

You didn’t answer as another flash appeared and the ear-splitting thunder that came soon afterwards had you burying your face into his back, muffling a scream that escaped from you as you trembled.

You thought he would be laughing and poking fun at you by now, but he wasn’t. Instead, you heard him muttering something about an abandoned cabin and urged Boadicea to gallop even faster. At least she wasn’t scared.

Your face was still buried in his back when you felt Boadicea slowing down. Rain was still cascading down although the treetops were somewhat shielding you all. You were quivering violently by now, both in fear and because of how cold you were feeling. You didn’t realize the death grip you had around Arthur until he coaxed you with soothing words to let go. After finally releasing him you noticed a small cabin off to the side.

“C’mon let’s get you inside.” He helped you down from Boadicea and kept an arm around you protectively. Another flash of lightning and loud rumbling of thunder turned you into a shaking mess against Arthur. He was quick in reassuring you though as he guided you towards the abandoned cabin.

Once inside he immediately went over to the fireplace to prepare it for the night. You stood close to the entrance as another clap of thunder roared in the skies. You jolted and whimpered as you hugged your bag to your chest and lowered your head, leaning against the wall with your eyes shut tightly.

Looking at you like this reminded him of that robbery incident. And just like before it pained him to see you this scared and vulnerable. He called you over softly, telling you to get warm by the fire as he stoked it. He watched as you slowly made your way over, still trembling all over, and lowered yourself onto the floor. He tried to ignore how close you sat next to him, seeing how it wasn’t the appropriate time to think about that. Just when he thought that the thunder was finally over, another deafening one practically shook the cabin then.

In your state of desperation and panic you held onto Arthur’s side as you uttered a sharp yelp. He froze for a good moment, his heart taking a few leaps. Despite wanting to draw away from you Arthur knew that it wasn’t an option. You needed him right now as a source of comfort and he wasn’t going to deny it to you. That’d be cruel after all.

He also knew that doing this would mean he’d be walking on a tightrope. In that moment he decided that he simply didn’t care.

He’ll gladly take the fall for you.

Chapter Text

“It’s alright.”

Arthur kept on reassuring you, his voice soothing and gentle. You never heard him speak this way before, not even after going for your rescue at Edson’s farmhouse.

“You gonna be alright, girl.” His arms were securely wrapped around you now, cradling you at his side.

For a gruff and tough outlaw that he was, he was actually soft and gentle when he needed to be. If you were to tell anyone about him they would surely laugh. Outlaws were downright cruel, animalistic, and nasty. At least that’s what you were told when growing up.

Never in your lifetime would you have believed that you were going to end up with a gang. They treated you way better than your own father ever did. Even Arthur right now who was a source of comfort to you. Despite not being on the friendliest terms with him he had been there when you needed support. You noted this was the second time now.

As you sat there holding onto him and trembling—more from the cold now—you weren’t sure what to think of him anymore. It was only a day ago that you wished you felt the same dislike that he felt towards you. One glance at him now though made all those negative thoughts disappear.

He was so caring and gentle with you right now. Your hold on him tightened a little more as another clap of thunder was heard in the distance. It seemed like the storm was letting up already as the pelting on the roof slowed into a more gentle pitter pattering.

“Storm’s starting to head up north now,” Arthur murmured.

You stayed silent as you shivered. Whether it was more from fear or the cold or both Arthur didn’t know. You were, however, sopping wet and he hated to do this now but it had to be done.

Arthur slowly withdrew his arms from around you as he looked at you. “You still freezing. Do you have extra clothes with ya?”

You nodded as you went to hug yourself and looked down at the duffle bag at your feet. Arthur followed your line of sight, noticing how that too was soaking through as well. He sighed and began to peel off his worn leather jacket. His torso was absolutely dry compared to yours and he feared if you didn’t change out of those drenched clothes you were sure to catch a cold.

“Here take this.” He looked at your coat. “You should take off that coat or else you might catch a cold.” You nodded as you took his jacket and watched as he went digging into his satchel and pulled out his worn journal.

You eyed him curiously as your trembling fingers tried to pry the heavy wet fabric off your body.

Arthur ripped a few empty pages from his journal, bunching them up one by one before tossing them into the tattered fireplace to stoke up the fire.

You finally got rid of your coat and proceeded to carefully lay it in front of you by the flames. By then Arthur had finished feeding the fire and sat back onto his spot and watched you. As you turned he noticed how your light colored blouse clung to you and accentuated your bosom, your laced chemise half visible.

He quickly averted his eyes as he cleared his throat. You seemed to have not noticed his staring to which he was awfully thankful for. You could have gotten the wrong impression. He didn’t mean to stare, he wasn’t the kind to ogle women after all.

You were about to slip on Arthur’s leather jacket when you looked down and noticed your blouse. You quickly turned away from Arthur, hoping that he hadn’t noticed how indecent you appeared. You were always careful when it came to these things, having been taught to be a proper lady. You have never in your life been this exposed in front of a man before. Not even with Robert. Contrary to your fathers beliefs, you and Robert had never copulated. He respected you and it was all a simple misunderstanding.

Arthur noticed the way you had turned away from him. What was wrong now? Did it occur to you now that he might’ve seen you…well, like that. It wasn’t improbable as he knew you were a little more reserved when it came to the matters of your appearance. You weren’t as carefree as Karen or even Mary-Beth sometimes.

“Is something the matter?” His voice was low pitched but soft.

You quickly shook your head as you draped his jacket over your shoulders. “N-no. I’m just a little
cold still.”

“Of course you are you’re still drenched. You need to change out of those clothes.” He then looked over his shoulder before grabbing his lantern and making his way over to the worn out bed. He grabbed the dirty blanket off of it and dusted it off. “Here.”

You looked at him with furrowed brows as he walked back to you and extended the blanket towards you. “I’m gonna step outside while you change out of your clothes.”

“Like hell you are. It’s still pouring out there. I’m fine like this and the jacket’s already helping. I’ll just sit closer to the fire.”

“Don’t be stubborn, girl. Now take the blanket it don’t smell that bad, it’s just worn.”

“Oh so you think because it smells bad I’m not taking it.” You glanced back up at him with a few disapproving shakes of your head.

“Then what is it then?” He asked gruffly.

“I’m fine,” you uttered firmly though the slight trembling of your body said otherwise. And that didn’t go unnoticed by Arthur either as he scoffed at you.

“Sure you are. You’re still shaking like a shitting dog. So here take this.” He grabbed your hand and forced the blanket on you. “And this.” He began to unbutton his shirt and you immediately lifted the blanket in front of your face, turning your head to the side afterwards and shutting your eyes. “Mr. Morgan!”

“I ain’t gonna be naked under. I have my union suit on, princess. Sorry to disappoint.”

You huffed but still kept shielding your face with the blanket. “This is very inappropriate, Mr. Morgan. Please put your shirt back on. I don’t need it.”

“So you prefer to stay freezing cold then?” Arthur finished popping the last button off and immediately grabbed one of your hands after, forcing you to take it like he did with the blanket. Your face was burning furiously hot by then and you were grateful for the sheet blocking his view to your face.

“If only you agreed to stay at Nine Oaks none of this would have happened,” you grumbled and opened your eyes, though you didn’t budge from your spot nor lowered the blanket in front of you. “I’m not putting on or changing out of anything just so you know.”

“So that’s what this is about. You’re embarrassed to be half-naked in the same room as a man.”

“N-no,” you stammered. “Well actually yes but I-I don’t like how you put it that way.” You huffed and lowered your eyes to the floor. “You’re just wasting your time Mr. Morgan. I won’t be doing any of that and you can’t force me.”

A smirk crossed his features then and he took a step closer to you. “Oh yeah? And what makes you so certain of that?”

Your eyes widened a bit. “W-what are you playing at?” Your heartbeat began picking up its pace.

“I actually think that’s a pretty good idea.” He pretended to lunge forward, tugging the blanket away from you just a tiny bit. You screamed as you screwed your eyes shut and tried to back away, expecting his large hands to be on you any second now. Only they weren’t.

Instead you heard his hearty laugh ripping through the air. You opened your eyes to see him with his head thrown back, holding his gambler hat in place. His shoulders shook with mirth while a hand rested on his stomach.

Oh you wanted to be mad right now. To yell and scold him like an adult would to a child. Instead, you found yourself staring at him with a bit of awe and admiration. He looked incredibly handsome and so carefree in that moment. You couldn’t remember the last time he let go like this. He was always so nonchalant or broody. It was nice seeing him like this for a change, especially since you were the one that caused this reaction. You didn’t even care if he was laughing at you right now. Seeing him like this? It was well worth it.

After his laughter had died down you quietly cleared your throat and looked away. You decided to pretend to look angry then so as to not raise suspicion.

“Oh you really thought I was gonna force you?” He chuckled some more as he neared the door.

“That wasn’t very nice,” you muttered and folded your arms across your chest.

“Look, just do this please.” Your brows rose at that. “I feel guilty about ignorin’ you back there when you suggested to stay in Nine Oaks. I should’a listened. The last thing we need is for you to get sick from all this.”

You couldn’t pretend to stay angry anymore. He looked sincere as he stood there by the doorway, the most sincere he’s ever been with you since you came into the gang. “Alright,” you finally spoke. “But you’re still an ass.” This time your tone was teasing, causing Arthur to chuckle softly.

“I know. I just couldn't help it.”

“I know.” You replied softly and looked over at his jacket that had fallen onto the floor earlier while he pulled that small prank on you.

“If you’re going out there at least take this.” You extended it to him. He took it without hesitation and quickly slipped it on.

“Just holler when yer finished.” And with that Arthur was out the door.

Your gaze lingered at the entrance for a brief moment before you finally began stripping your drenched clothes off. When you reached for the hem of your chemise you paused. Did you really want to take it off? It was uncomfortably wet but you would feel more exposed than you already did. The cold air nipping at you made up your mind then. You hiked up the chemise and pulled it off before letting it drop with a splat on the floor, shivering at the cold air brushing against your exposed breasts. You quickly slipped on Arthur’s shirt. It felt warm and cozy, not to mention the calming scent that drifted up your nose.

With a content sigh, you finished buttoning it up. It was big compared to your frame, reaching about halfway down your thighs. You then went on to pick up your clothes from the floor and quickly laid them on a dilapidated table near the bed. There was no way you were gonna remove your drawers next, the removal of your chemise was enough. Besides, they weren’t as affected by the water as your other clothes were.

After securely wrapping the blanket around you, you sat down at your place in front of the fire and called Arthur. He came in a few seconds later, shrugging off his jacket and handing it back to you. “Here.”

“What about you?”

“I’m fine.” Instead of taking the spot he was in earlier he moved towards the base of the bed and sat down, leaning back against it.

“Are you not coming near the fire?” You tilted your head as you looked at him over your shoulder.

“Nah. I’m fine over here.” He took his hat off and placed it on the floor next to him before resting an arm on a bent knee.

“You look cold.”

He grunted as he stared out the window ahead. He then shifted a little and leaned his head back onto the foot of the mattress, closing his eyes.

You instantly knew why he was doing this. He wanted you to feel comfortable after practically feeling half-naked under the blanket around you. That was awfully considerate of him. And while you appreciated his thoughtfulness you didn’t like the idea of him freezing like that at the end of the room.



“Arthur?” This time it came out firmer.

“Mm what?”

“Are you sure?”


“I just thin—”

Arthur sighed and opened his eyes. “I’m tryin’ to sleep, girl.”

“I know but you must be cold over there. Your pants are still soaked after all. And I also know that you’re trying to be considerate, and I really appreciate that, but if you stay over there any longer it’ll just make me feel worse.”

He stayed silent but after a while he stood up with a deep sigh and moved to sit down next to you, though you noticed he was a little further from you than before. “There. Is your highness happy now?”

You looked over at him and nodded. “Here. Put it back on.” He took the jacket from you and slipped it back on. Outside the rain still kept going although it was considerably slower. You turned to face the fireplace and covered yourself up more with the blanket. You didn’t mind the musty smell. You were warm now and that’s what mattered.

“I forgot to ask after all this but are ya hungry?” Arthur asked, pulling out a can of beans from his satchel. Your stomach rumbled at the sight of it then and you smiled sheepishly before nodding your head. You haven’t eaten anything all day and the thunderstorm from earlier took your appetite away.

After Arthur heated up the beans you scarfed down the whole thing in under a minute. Arthur didn’t say anything throughout that time, even after you finished. He stoked the fire some more while you sat there feeling drowsy.

“Think I’m gonna…” You yawned. “Sleep now. Goodnight Arthur.”

“Night,” he murmured and watched you roll up into a ball on the floor, falling into a deep slumber soon after.

After a while he stood up and removed his jacket yet again. He folded it outwards to the drier parts and carefully slipped it under your head.

Stepping back quietly, he observed you for a brief moment as you slept peacefully in the safety of the cabin. He fought back the urge to tuck a loose strand of hair behind your ear.

He sighed softly and turned back to his spot. The pants he wore were still quite uncomfortably damp from the rain and he was debating on whether or not to take them off now that you were asleep. In the end he decided to slip them off, laying them near the fireplace. He’ll just make sure to wake up early in the morning before you and put them back on.

He tiptoed back towards the base of the bed and settled onto the floor, drifting off to sleep.

Chapter Text

It was past midnight when you began having a nightmare.

Your small whimpers and labored breathing stirred Arthur from his sleep. He wasn’t much of a deep sleeper to begin with, and he had his lifestyle to blame for that. Being wary of his surroundings at all times was like second nature now.

The mewling continued and Arthur’s eyes fluttered open as confusion settled in. Next thing he knew there was a loud crash at your end and he jolted forward from his sitting position.

Somehow you managed to kick Arthur’s lantern. Luckily he had snuffed it out sometime earlier in the night.

The light from the fireplace helped him to barely make out your tossing form on the floor. He made his way over to you swiftly and gently placed his hands on your arms to wake you. The first few tries didn’t work until he shook you firmly and called your name. Your eyes shot open and you had this wild but scared look. Beads of sweat had formed on your forehead and there were tears stains at the sides of your eyes.

“Shhh you’re safe.”

“Arthur…” You whispered softly and looked around the cabin. “Oh god. I just had a horrible dream.”

“I know. Whatever it was it’s over now,” he reassured.

You sighed softly, relieved at that. By then the fire was dwindling fast until it was no more. You heard Arthur cursing under his breath and shuffling towards the fireplace. The cabin was warm but you soon felt a chill nipping at your exposed neck.

You wrapped yourself up and watched as Arthur tried to revive the fireplace. A few tries later you finally saw the fire flickering back to life. After a while of stoking it Arthur was at your side once more, staring at you with concern. “You gonna be okay then?”

You stayed silent for a moment. “I will be. Can you, um…” You swallowed and averted your eyes then, embarrassed over what you where about to ask.

Arthur looked at you expectantly. “...Can I what?”

“Can you stay here by my side?” You whispered, still unable to look him in the eyes. “Until I fall back asleep.”

“Sure,” he drawled and went back to stoking the fire. He was sitting a few mere inches away from you but you began to feel immediate relief. There was no doubt that his presence always made you feel safe and secure. Free of apprehension.

It had dawned to you then that you hardly knew him. You didn’t know his backstory or where he came from. All you knew was that you trusted this man with your whole life if it came down to it. He hadn’t failed you before and you knew that he wouldn’t fail you in the future either. He was extremely reliable, that much you could admit.

You observed him as he watched the dancing flames in front of him, the orange glow bathing his features. From where you laid you could only see a portion of his profile but it was enough to make your heart beat faster the longer you stared.

It was then that you realized he was wearing nothing but his union suit, outlining the muscles along his arms and torso—well at least the ones you could see from your angle. Normally by now your face would have been flushed but you were surprised to find that it wasn’t.

With the sounds of the cackling flames and Arthur’s steady breathing you began to feel drowsy. You scooted closer to him and the fire to keep warm. It didn’t take long before you finally drifted off to sleep, feeling this heavy but soothing feeling enveloping you.

Unbeknownst to you, Arthur had been watching you fall back asleep. And this time around he didn’t move away from you.

Instead, he sat there for a good while, occasionally glancing towards you to see if you were sleeping peacefully, almost like a guard dog. He noticed that you left the makeshift pillow off to the side and he went to slip it under your head once more.

After a few yawns and stretches, he began nodding off in his sitting position.

He had no idea how but somewhere in the middle of his slumber he must’ve laid down next to you because now? Well, let’s just say he woke up to a real surprise.

You were currently snuggled up into his broad chest and very closely. His body was like a furnace next to yours, and like a magnet, you automatically drew closer to him in your sleep. You were sleeping more soundly now, probably more than you ever had since joining the Van der Linde.

Arthur held his breath for a few seconds as he saw you there by his chest. His mind told him to pull away but his body thought differently. He kept watching you before forcing himself to look away, his eyes finding the window where the first light of day began pouring in.

By then the fire had died so the cabin wasn’t as cozy as it previously was. But that didn’t really matter since he was lying cozily next to you, exchanging body heat.

He couldn’t deny that it felt nice, and for a second he thought about laying there for a while. But what he noticed next almost had him jumping out of there. The tent through his union suit was pushing against your upper thigh.

When he tried moving away you began to stir. Your thigh brushed up against his erection then, causing a tiny gasp to escape from his lips.

Arthur immediately looked at you but you were still sleeping peacefully. As carefully and slowly as he could he extracted himself from you, already missing the shared heat. He silently cursed himself as there were other matters to worry about right now. There was still a possibility that you could wake up and find him in this indecent state.

Almost as if the universe was trying to give him a heart attack, he watched in pure horror as you shifted and chased after his warmth. It was almost like your body knew on instincts, and the more he inched away slowly the more you followed closely behind.

What was more horrifying now was when he noticed you were shedding off the edges of the blanket, your right leg already bared. A portion of your lower thigh was also visible now along with a piece of the frilly material on your drawers that was peeking from under the sheet.

Arthur’s jaw dropped and he almost gasped out loud as his face flushed. He immediately grabbed the edge of the blanket and tugged at it before you could lose any further decency.

He made sure to cover you all the way to your neck, tucking in the blanket at your sides for good measure though he left enough room for you to wiggle in if needed. He heaved a sigh of relief as he went to lay back down and looked at you. That was a very close call. He didn’t want to think what would have happened if you had woken up at that moment. He’d definitely want the whole earth to swallow him up whole and just die in that instant.

His overreaction then caused him to smile amusedly as he shook his head and stared at the ceiling. His heart was still pounding in his chest but other than that he was thankful for your deep slumber.

When you finally stayed put in your place, he quietly stood up and went to put on his jeans. The swell in his pants was still present but he tried to ignore it for now.

As he was lost in thought he didn’t notice when you finally woke up. The first thing you saw was his back facing you. He was fumbling with his belt and soon afterwards started to pull on his boots.

“Morning,” you murmured and he immediately jolted.

“Ahh geez. You startled me, women.” He groaned.

You quietly apologized before you sat up. You then realized that you were half-naked and in a flash you had the blankets covering you again.

“I’m almost done here so you can dress yourself.” He still had his back towards you. When he finally slipped on the remaining boot and grabbed his gun belt, he left without saying another word.

It was odd. The way he left with his gun belt positioned in front of his hips, almost as if he was trying to hide something. You quickly made your way over to the window next to the door and peeked outside.

He stood there under a tree as he lit a cigarette between his lips, the side of his body facing you through the window. He had a look on his face as if he was uncomfortable and he shifted his hips a few times as he stood there. His gun belt was carelessly fastened around his hips, the front of it dangling towards his lower area. Then that’s when you noticed it.

Heat bloomed across your cheeks as you stepped away from the window. You quickly began to dress yourself as you tried to shake that image off your mind.

Your clothes were still somewhat damp but they were much better compared to last night. After tying up your boot laces you called Arthur and grabbed your shoulder bag.

He came in wordlessly and grabbed his shirt that you had folded neatly and placed on the dilapidated table along with his jacket.

“Well I don’t think we’re forgetting anything else.” You glanced around the small cabin.

“Yeah,” he murmured as he slipped on his satchel. “Let’s get back to camp. Everyone’ll be happy to see you back.”

You nodded and followed him through the doorway.

The ride back was silent. You didn’t have much to say and you weren’t really in the mood for talking. You felt exhausted and wanted to be back in your bedroll to rest some more.

Everyone on sight ran up to you and Arthur upon arrival. They didn’t give you a chance to get off of Boadicea when they started bombarding you with questions. The girls in particular were practically shouting their reliefs.

You assured them all that you were okay and just needed to bathe and sleep since you were still exhausted from being out in the woods too long. Miss Grimshaw told everyone to back off before turning to Arthur to ask what had happened to you.

You left them to talk and went off to take a bath, albeit a brief and quick one since all you wanted to do was rest some more. And so you did.

You woke up around midday and immediately felt the soreness in your throat and muscles. You groaned as you sat up with a scowl on your face. This was the last thing you needed right now, of all things.

Swallowing only made the pain worse and you fell back onto your bed roll with a drawn out groan, covering your face with you warm hands.

After making yourself presentable, you headed out and stopped by Pearson’s wagon. He helped you prepare a gargling liquid for your throat before taking your usual spot to chop up the ingredients for the stew.

By the time you finished you felt like you had swallowed a bunch of mini knife blades. The scratchiness prompted you to cough a few times in your sleeve. Your body was still sore all over and despite the 80 degree weather you started to feel chills.

You could definitely use a tonic. Hopefully they were stocked up by now. You sighed and began making your way over there. God you really didn’t need this right now. Being sick in the summer was the worst.

Aside from the horrible feeling it brought back unpleasant memories from when you were a little girl, the years right after your mother’s passing. Your father wouldn’t give one lick of care over you. The two servant ladies, Miriam and Ana, were the ones always looking out for you and if it weren’t for them lord knows you probably wouldn't be here. You always wondered what became of them after they were fired for trying to protect you from your father. It was the very same day of your 16th birthday. You remembered crying so much that you fell asleep all afternoon after that.

As you rounded the corner of the wagon, lost in thought whilst you wiped your hands on your apron, you didn’t see Arthur heading straight towards you and he didn’t see you either as he was looking over his shoulder.

You collided straight into his chest, gasping loudly before offering your apologies.

He had grabbed your shoulders to steady you, realizing then who was right in front of him. The mental image of you inching towards him earlier and your exposed leg flashed through his mind then. He silently cursed before releasing you and giving you a curt nod, already feeling the heat crawling up his face.

“Watch where yer goin’,” he chided.

Before you could say anything he was already leaving with quickening steps. You blinked a couple of times as you stood there, mouth ajar. Did that really just happened? You sighed and went on your way again, too tired to start mulling over that situation.

The next five minutes were spent scouring through the medicine wagon. The supplies were running low and you only found about a quarter left of the tonic you needed. Whose job was it to go out and restock anyways?

You had no other choice for now but to grab the tonic bottle and chug it down. Probably a little too aggressively than you intended to as the liquid became harsh on you throat. You ended up hacking up a lung and having to ensure the nearby campers that you were fine after that.

Maybe some warm food in your stomach would help. So after calming down your throat with a bit of water you went on to wash up for lunch, a meal you would later find to be filled with discomfort.

It was agonizing. You could hardly swallow the stew without your throat burning with pain. Your body continued aching though you felt like the tonic was keeping it at bay for the time being. To make matters a little worse Mary-Beth kept giving you the look when Javier sat next to you and Arthur noticed, much to your dismay and surprise since he’d been ignoring. The onset of a headache was the thing to top it all off. You ended up not eating much that noon.

When lunch finally concluded, you continued on your day like you’d normally would by doing your share of work. You didn’t want to give off the impression of being lazy since you already took a long nap after coming back this morning.

And, being the nice person that you are, you had agreed to take up all the laundry since Tilly wasn’t feeling all too well because of her menstrual cramps. There was a huge pile of laundry to be done now.

You were adamant though. Even when your body screamed at you to stop and take a break you didn’t. You were so close to finishing now so why even stop? Besides you felt able enough to still keep going. All you needed now was to hang the clothes up to dry on the clothesline.

Everything was going fine, as fine as they could be so far. You were busy hanging the clothes until you dropped one of the clothespins on the ground. As you went to pick it up quickly you suddenly felt the whole world spinning around you.

You brought a hand up to your forehead and rapidly blinked a couple of times as you tried to regain your balance. You hadn’t realized just how sweaty and hot your forehead was until you felt it with your fingers.

“You okay?”

You looked up to find Arthur standing before you. You immediately nodded although the dazed and haggard look on your pale face told another story.

You instantly regretted that gesture as another wave of dizziness came to you. This time your body lurched to the side and Arthur immediately grabbed your arms to steady you.

You ignored him as both your hands reached for the tree trunk at your other side to gain some purchase. Your legs were wobbly, and you felt like you could truly topple over at any given moment. It was absolutely horrible.

“You don’t look so well. C’mon I’ll help you to your tent.”

You don’t know what came over you then, despite not feeling your very best at the moment. Maybe it was because he was acting concern out of nowhere after ignoring you—like he's done so many times before—and you were finally getting so fed up.

“Why even bother when you’re just gonna go back to ignoring me. You lead me on making me think you’re finally gonna act better with me and then you just leave me hanging.” Although you spoke quietly your words held their firmness.

Arthur stared at you completely stunned as you pushed his hands away from you. His mouth opened and closed, almost as if he was trying to think of an appropriate thing to say.

He didn’t get far as you were already collapsing onto the ground.

Chapter Text

Arthur had you scooped up in his strong arms before you could become a sprawling mess on the ground.

You lost consciousness for a few seconds before gaining some back, barely making out Arthur’s face above you as he yelled for Miss Grimshaw and hastily carried you towards your tent.

Thankfully the dizziness had subsided a little by then. It was quite clear that you were in desperate need to be off your feet and resting on your bedroll. As harmless as you wrongfully thought it was, the two hours of chores really did a number on you. 

You and your stubbornness and foolish thinking, worrying about what others might think. But what’s done is done and you were now suffering the effects of it. 

You felt downright awful. Terrible. Almost as if you were dying.

At least Arthur was still at your side. 

He had stayed even after Miss Grimshaw brought in the essential items. It was his fault that you were in this predicament after all. And all because he wanted to get back to camp and save some time.

Heavy guilt weighed his chest down now.

His eyes had never once left your blanched face. He made sure to check your temperature and refreshen the damp rag on your forehead. 

The hardest part, aside from seeing you in your ailing state, was waking you up to offer you water. You were awfully dehydrated since that mishap that led you stranded in the woods.

Arthur sighed to himself, frustrated that there wasn’t much more he or Miss Grimshaw could do.

What he could do though was to keep you at the utmost comfort. Which is why he restricted the others from visiting you at the time. He didn’t want anyone disturbing you from your well needed rest.

When dinner time came around, he was the first in line to grab a plate for you. It was yet another difficult task waking you up after that.

It took you awhile but you were finally sat up on your bed roll, hair disheveled and feeling like death. You didn’t talk much, only croaking a thank you before eating—albeit very slowly. Arthur practically forced you to finish the whole stew and kept mentioning how you needed your strength.

The earlier conversation with Arthur was soon forgotten now that he was taking care of you. 

There was a brief moment where you almost wanted to send him on his way out of your tent. But seeing how concerned he was didn’t allow you to go through with it.

All things considered, you were secretly enjoying it. 

Probably the only perk of being sick at the moment. You had an excuse to be close to him. To have him all to yourself, even if the circumstances weren’t ideal.

He took your tin plate and set it down beside him before grabbing a medicinal tonic that John brought in from town earlier. You twisted your face into a grimace knowing how disgusting it was going to taste. Arthur only shook his head as he poured some into a cup and handed it over to you. 

You took it, hesitating for a moment to prepare yourself, and then you downed it in one gulp before you began coughing dryly into your sleeve. Your throat was on fire and you immediately took the cup of water that Arthur had extended towards you.

The water washing through your throat was a very welcoming sensation, though the pain still remained. You couldn’t remember what it felt like to drink water or even eat anything without having your throat hurting. 

You felt so miserable.

As you laid back and stared at the tent ceiling, you noted that your whole body still ached all over and your breath felt hot. Maybe some more sleep would alleviate you a little. 

You turned on your side, readying yourself for a nap, when you felt Arthur tucking you in. “Thank you,” you murmured feebly as you closed your eyes.

“It’s nothing,” he immediately replied. “If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be sick. It’s the least I could do for ya.”

“Don’t blame this on yourself, Arthur.” You frowned, your eyes still remaining closed.

“It is my fault though.” His voice came out quieter. Quieter than usual.

“If you keep saying that I’m gonna dump the whole bottle of that medicine on your head,” you joked. “It don’t smell pretty you know.”

Arthur chuckled slightly. “That’d be a waste. And good luck trying to get another bottle.”

“I’ll just...go myself.” You began to feel drowsy then. Arthur immediately noticed and stayed quiet, averting his eyes for the time being.

It wasn’t long before you were fast asleep. Your light snoring had alerted Arthur and had him turning his full attention back to you.

A small smile involuntarily made its way across his lips as he continued watching over you. Without much thought he reached over and brushed a strand of hair away from your forehead before pulling the blanket over your shoulders.

The night wore on and Arthur still hadn’t left your side yet. It wasn’t until the boredom kicked in that he decided to quickly fetch his journal from us tent. 

The scant light of your own lantern in the corner had made it difficult to see in the enclosed space, but he couldn’t bring himself to add more light to the place. You were sleeping soundly and he didn’t want to do anything to disturb you from your slumber. 

Instead he adjusted as best as he could, scooting quietly towards the lantern. After a while of trying to find a good position as silently as he could, he ended up lying on his stomach next to your bedroll. At least now he could properly see what he was doing on the page of his journal. 

One quick glance towards you had him doing a double take, pausing in the middle of his writing. The new angle from his position allowed him to perfectly make out your sleeping features that were softly illuminated by the orange glow of the lantern. 

He couldn’t help it then. With the way you were sleeping peacefully, positioned on your side with your hand tucked under your cheek, breathing lightly. Before he knew it he was already turning over a new page to begin sketching you, completely disregarding his earlier journal entry.

Just as he finished the last stroke of shading on the sketch Arthur began to feel tired. He examined the piece with a satisfied little smile before glancing back towards you. 

He really outdid himself with this one. 

It was the first time he had drawn you, though he wished it were in better circumstances. Starting off with you being back in tip-top health. The other would be with your proper consent and awareness of it, though he highly doubted the probability of that.

He closed his journal, glancing one last time over to you, before snuffing out your lantern and taking his leave to retreat for the night at his own tent. Though that didn’t go as planned.

Sleep didn’t welcome him all that well throughout the remainder of the night. He kept on waking up a couple of times, and each time you were the first thing that came into his mind. At the end he opted to just remain wide awake. 

When daybreak finally arrived, he didn’t waste time in leaving to fetch more fresh water for you. Upon entering your tent he immediately noticed just how much worse you appeared than the previous day. 

A sheen of sweat covered your forehead and neck. Your skin had paled significantly and you were shivering under the covers. He dropped to his knees and checked your temperature. Your forehead was clammy and searing hot to the touch. His hands traveled down to feel your cheeks, neck, and arms. You were burning like a furnace.

He quickly grabbed a fresh cloth and plunged it in the bowl of water before wringing it out and draping it across your forehead. In a flash he was out of your tent and calling Miss Grimshaw from across the camp. 

“Calm down Mr. Morgan.” Miss Grimshaw stepped inside the tent and crouched down next to you to feel your temperature. “Good lord she’s burning hot.” She looked down at the blanket covering you before yanking the whole thing off of you. “She needs to be cooled as much as possible.”

“She’s shivering,” Arthur protested.

“I know but she’s gonna need this. We can’t have her temperature rising anymore,” she stated as she folded the blanket and then proceeded to place it onto the small chest next to your bedroll. “I’m gonna gather some more fresh water by the creek.”

Arthur nodded solemnly and stepped aside, pulling the flap of the tent to let Miss Grimshaw exit. He then stepped back inside and sat down by the entrance with a heavy sigh, burying his face in his hands with his elbows rested on his thighs. If only he could turn back time then he wouldn’t have ignored your pleas. 

He was pulled from his reverie when you began to stir and whimper slightly. He swiftly moved to kneel closely by your side. You were mumbling something that he couldn’t make out as you kept shifting your head slightly.

“Ar-thur.” You spoke very feebly as you tried to pry your eyelids open and moved your hand towards him. It was barely audibly but he heard it right.

“I’m right here, girl.” He grabbed your hand and gave it a light squeeze. “I’m here,” he said softly.

You shivered even more and tried to look at him through the haze of your half-lidded eyes. You barely had enough strength to fully open your eyelids, let alone tighten your grip on him. “S-so…co-old.”

Arthur nodded and gave you a sympathetic look. “I know, sweetheart. But Miss Grimshaw said you needed to cool down.” You whimpered then. “I’m sorry.”

He turned, grabbed a pitcher of water on the ground and poured its contents into a tin cup.

“Here, drink up.” He was now helping you lift up your head from your pillow before bringing the cup to your lips. You began coughing midway but in the end Arthur still made you drink every last drop in there. 

Miss Grimshaw came back by then. She set the bucket of cold water down at the foot of your bedroll and turned towards Arthur. 

“Mr. Morgan would you mind? I’m gonna try to freshen her up even more and need to get her undressed.”

Arthur nodded silently and secured the flaps of your tent shut. Hopefully that’ll help lower your temperature. He couldn’t remember the last time he’s been this worried. 

All he could do now was pace back and forth in front of your tent until Miss Grimshaw finally came out. Arthur immediately scurried towards her, raising his brows in anticipation. 

“If her fever doesn’t go down we gotta take her into town, Mr. Morgan.

He nodded. “And we will. I’m gonna go fix her up some chicken soup now. She’s gotta eat something.”

“I’ll help.” Miss Grimshaw gestured. The pair then walked towards Pearson’s wagon and worked for the next half hour preparing the soup. When they finished, Arthur offered to take the bowl to you himself. He had hoped that by then that your fever would have gone down. 

As soon as he walked in he saw that you still appeared the same, maybe even a little worse. You were lying on your back, your brows knitted together as if you were having a bad dream. Beads of sweat had gathered on your forehead again, some running down the sides now, and your complexion still retained its paleness.

Arthur set the bowl of soup down and moved closer to you. “Y/N? I brought you some soup.” He shook you lightly.

You groaned lightly as you turned your head to the side. “No, please.” You croaked before mumbling something unintelligible. 

Confusion immediately set in Arthur’s brows as he tried to wake you up again. 

“I’m sorry.” This time you whimpered as tears began forming in the corner of your eyes. You tossed your head to the side and let out a soft sob. 

“Y/N, hey.” Arthur spoked firmer and shook you until you jolted awake. You looked up at him as you breathed heavily before looking away and realizing where you were. 

“It was only a dream.” Arthur assured as he grabbed a cloth and began wiping away the sweat that clung to your skin. 

You closed your eyes again and tried to steady your labored breathing. 

“I brought you some soup.” He lifted the bowl up. You shook your head, not feeling hungry at all.“C’mon you gotta eat something at least.” 

You bit your lower lip before finally giving in. “Okay,” you croaked. 

You tried. You really did but after the fifth spoon you felt like you were gonna throw it all back out. You groaned and layed back down as you held your stomach. The chills were returning again and you shivered lightly as you went to throw the blanket over your body, only to have Arthur stop you.

“Miss Grimshaw said you can’t cover up. You gotta cool down.” Arthur took the blanket from you and placed it back in its place. “Now please finish the soup.”

“Can’t.” You contorted your face in disgust. “ vomiting.” As much as you tried to keep your eyes opened your eyelids protested as they felt heavy once more. You gave in and closed them, shivering some more. 

Arthur sighed as he set the bowl down. He placed the back of his hand on your forehead and inhaled sharply. Despite the efforts that Miss Grimshaw and he had put forth in taking care of you it all seemed futile. 

You were still searing hot and it was in that moment that Arthur knew better than to just leave you to sleep it off. He’s heard stories of high fevers that killed individuals before. 

He slipped an arm around your shoulder before slipping his other at the back of your knees. You wanted to ask what he was doing but you were too weak to speak.

“Miss Grimshaw!” He called out as soon as he exited the tent with you in his arms. “Miss Grimshaw we gotta go now!” 

She appeared shortly afterwards at his side as he began to place you at the back of one of the wagons. She felt your forehead and frowned deeply. 

“Goodness! We better hurry, go get the horses!” She ordered, though it wasn’t necessary much given that Arthur was already rushing towards the hitching posts. 

As soon as Arthur pulled over in front of the doctor’s office, he immediately jumped off the wagon and proceeded to carry you inside. You were then placed on a small bed in one of the rooms. 

Arthur and Miss Grimshaw hurriedly informed the doctor about the whole situation. And while Miss Grimshaw had stepped out of the room Arthur remained there, watching intently how the older man began to work.

The doctor had slipped on a pair of gloves and took your temperature, immediately expressing his disapproval before leaving to another room to prepare a treatment. After a while he came back with a syringe that contained a yellowish substance inside. 

“This an extract of some curing plants. With this she’ll be restored in about three days.” He rearranged your blouse to reveal the top portion of your left arm before administering the remedy. You winced as your eyes tightened shut. “Now, I would like for her to stay for those three days here to monitor her recovery. Would that be okay with you, sir?”

“Yes, yes of course. As long as she gets better I’ll be okay with anything.” Arthur never once took his eyes off of you and watched as you curled up on your side facing him, no doubt ready to doze off any second now.

“Perfect. It’s a good thing you brought her in. Persistent high fevers such as these can be deadly. I’ll have your wife in tip-top shape in no time. Of that I can assure you, sir.”

Arthur opened his mouth to correct him but then remembered what Miss Grimshaw had told him on their way over here. Use the husband and wife backup story as to why they’re here in town, so instead he thanked the doctor.

“I don’t know what I’d do if something were to happen to her.” It was true. And he’d probably go mad. “We were just passing through town, you see, we’re on an excursion to get to know this countryside a little more. I guess the summer storm got to her, and then she overexerted herself yesterday so there’s that.”

The older man raised his brows. “Ah yes. She probably had a weak immune system. It could happen to travelers. But not to worry she’s in good hands now. I’ve dealt with these situations before. I live upstairs so if there’s anything you need, I'll always be here.”

Arthur sighed in relief and thanked him again before turning back around and settling down on a chair next to the bed. 

The doctor had excused himself and was speaking to Miss Grimshaw now—which Arthur could hear a little from where he was sitting. 

He turned to look at your sleeping form. You appeared better and more peaceful than before; it was evident in your sleeping expression and posture. He knows it’s been a good while since you’ve touched a mattress. So seeing you like this now made him feel better, aside from already having the doctor take care of you.

As carefully as he could, he reached over to you and brushed aside a few flyaways from your face. His hand then settled at the side of your head where it lingered there for a while, his thumb caressing the spot there.

Words couldn’t express how glad and relieved he was that you were going to be okay.

Chapter Text

Upon waking up you found Arthur sleeping on a chair next to you with his arms crossed over his chest. His head looked uncomfortable as it lolled to the side but other than that he appeared quite peaceful.

Your eyes traveled around the room then, registering where you were. The memory of Arthur bringing you in this morning slowly came back to you. It was then that you realized how parched you were at the moment. 

As quietly as you could so as to not wake Arthur, you slipped out of bed to grab a pitcher of water sitting on a side table. You poured a generous amount in a glass cup and downed the whole thing in big gulps. 

You went back to bed feeling a bit better. Whatever the doctor gave you in that syringe had sure worked, though you still felt a little exhausted and weak. It was a definite improvement though.

A sudden knock at the door almost made you jump and before you could say anything the doctor was already stepping inside.

“I’m sorry.” The older man looked at Arthur who had woken up by the sudden intrusion. “Didn’t mean to wake you, Mr. Callahan.” He took a gander towards you. “You’re looking a bit better now ma’am. I’m going to be checking your temperature.” He smiled kindly and went to slip on some gloves. You smiled back and nodded. Once done he appeared satisfied as he set down the thermometer and looked at you.

“Your temperature went down a little.” His attention veered towards Arthur then. “She’s still running a slight fever but she’s out of the danger zone.”

“Thank goodness.” Arthur immediately replied. “I was worried sick, so to speak.” 

“You have a strong wife here.” The doctor smiled. Arthur only nodded in return, a hint of a smile on the corner of his lips.

You were left stunned and speechless, frozen in place. Why didn’t he correct the doctor like he had corrected that store clerk in the past? 

You felt a pair of eyes on you and you turned to meet them. Arthur was giving you a look, one that you immediately deciphered. Of course, you should have known it was just a tactic of his all along.

“All she needs now is to rest, drink plenty of water, and eat well,” the doctor informed.

At the mention of eating your stomach emitted a low grumble, garnering Arthur’s attention. “I’ll bring ya something to eat. What do you want?” 

You shrugged. “Anything’s fine really.”

“There’s a little restaurant three buildings down from here. Their broth is exceptional and it’ll do her well,” the doctor commented. “I’ll be in my office now so if you both need anything just holler at me.” And with that he exited and left the two of you alone in the room. 

“I’ll get that broth for you.” Arthur grunted as he got up from his seat and you silently watched as he left and disappeared through the doorway. You let out a small sigh and shifted to lie on your back, your hands resting on your stomach. 

Your thoughts were on Arthur throughout the whole waiting period. Mostly on how he was really caring for you in the last two days, especially when the thunderstorm started. It warmed your heart just thinking about those moments; the way he took care of you in your vulnerable state. 

A smile began to worm its way across your lips as you closed your eyes. Where was this Arthur when you came into the gang a few months ago? Despite not fully knowing him you knew enough that the dull, nonchalant, and occasional tough act was just one of the many guises he's worn. 

You’ve been observing him that long after all.

Heavy footsteps outside the door interrupted your thoughts all of a sudden. You turned your head in time to be greeted by Arthur entering the room with a small basket in one hand. He looked like he was about to go on a picnic and that thought alone had you imagining being in a nice green field having lunch together with him.

“You look like you’re gonna go on a picnic,” you stated and chuckled softly. 

He shook his head as he scoffed playfully, a tiny smiled displaying on his features afterwards. After silently placing the basket on the side table, he carefully took out the bowl of broth and set it down before turning to you. “Want me to move the table so you don’t have to get up?” 

“No it’s fine. I can move.” You stood up and slowly made your way towards the awaiting breakfast. 

Arthur had grabbed the chair that he was sitting on earlier and moved it so that you could sit on it. “Thank you.” You settled yourself comfortably on the chair and immediately began to eat. The doctor was right about the broth, you never tasted anything like it before. You almost forgot where you were and who you were.

Halfway through eating you turned to see what Arthur was up to. He was sat on another chair across the room, clearly occupied with his journal. What is it that he writes about in there? You had a strong urge to take it one of these days and start going through it but you also knew that wouldn’t happen. You respected his privacy and you knew you wouldn’t like it if anyone did the same to you, even if your journal only contained drawings and some poems here and there. 

Now that you were thinking back to it you haven’t touched your journal in a while. The last entry was a drawing of the doll that you thought Arthur gave to you along with the handkerchief wrapped around its neck.

The sadness you felt that day—when you found out about the truth—was now slowly seeping back into you. Your thoughts then began gravitating towards other bad memories. When Arthur mentioned the woman that broke his heart but apparently was still the love of his life. And when he told Hosea that he would never have eyes for you. It hurt.

You didn’t want to be upset then and even more so now. It was almost like you felt you didn’t have a right to anyway. So what if he didn’t like you and never will? 

Some things just aren’t meant to be. He was clearly still hung over this woman. And who knows maybe there was a possibility that someday she would return and try to make amends with him. The worst part of it all though would probably be having to witness that.

Maybe that reconciliation is what Arthur thinks might happen, or at least hoping for; a second chance with the love of his life. Who wouldn’t want that anyway?

You sighed as you tried to continue eating but your appetite was lost now. Somehow, one way or another, you’re going to have to find a way to get over him—and soon—because this thing you were currently feeling? It was impossible and it wasn’t going to lead you to anything good. As much as you hate to admit it, all of it was true and the truth hurts sometimes.

You took one last glance at Arthur, your soft eyes teeming with pain and hopelessness. Despite being there within a few feet from you, and regardless of your surroundings or the times he’ll be there in sight, he would always and inevitably be unreachable, almost like the stars in the sky. 

The only thing you could do was to just admire from afar; watch how they shimmer and glow in all their beauty. 

“You know you don’t have to stay anymore. I’m perfectly fine staying here alone.” You were currently in bed, your back resting on a propped up pillow against the headboard with a book in your hands. Your eyes never left the pages but you could see him from the corner of your eye looking straight at you. He was still at the other end of the room with his journal.

“Even if I wanted to, I can’t.” His eyes flickered towards the door before leaning forwards and lowering his voice. “Miss Grimshaw said to stick with this story, so there ain’t much any of us can do about it.”

You sighed deeply and maybe it came out the wrong way because Arthur had shut his journal a little too harshly before looking at you. You still didn’t look at him.

“What?” he asked bluntly.

This time you glanced up at him from your book. “Nothing. I just—”

“Yeah I get it. You don’t want this as much as I don’t either. I’m staying whether you like it or not.” He leaned back in his chair and placed a leg over his knee. There he was again, acting all nonchalant.

You wanted to protest, you really did, but something told you to bite your tongue and leave it at that. So you did exactly that, much to Arthur’s surprise.

Then again you were still ill and slightly tired. He took a subtle glance at you as you went back to reading. You two didn’t speak at all after that.

When nightfall came around the doctor was back for another check up. You had fallen asleep after developing a mild headache so his arrival had woken you up.

“Temperature of 103.” He held the thermometer up in front of his face. “It’s a work in progress. Now for your second injection.” He went on to prepare the dosage as you sat up and watched him. You were groggy and hardly in the mood to talk. 

After the doctor was done and had left, you positioned yourself comfortably on the bed to go back to sleep when you noticed that Arthur was staring at you.

“What?” You raised a brow.

“Nothing. Just checking if you looked better.” He slouched back on his chair.

“Well I certainly feel better. Don’t know if I look the part. Either way I ain’t much of a sight for sore eyes.” You threw the blanket over yourself, turning to face away from Arthur so he wouldn’t look at you anymore. Somehow it started to make you feel self conscious and you hated that.

He didn’t say anything after that so you just drifted off to sleep, and a rather deep one.

You were so well rested that you were up before dawn. You felt better compared to last night and you thought maybe you could sneak outside and watch the sunrise. 

Wrapping the blanket around yourself, you slinked out of bed and paused for a moment when you heard Arthur shifting in his sleep. 

It was still dark out so you had to rely on your hands to feel your way out the door and into the chilly morning air. You were glad for the blanket around you as you stepped further into the porch, gazing out towards the glowing lantern lights dotting the dirt lane.

You haven’t had a chance to view the town but from where you stood you could see the stables, the general store and the blacksmith. Your eyes lit up when you turned and saw a bookstore to your right. It wasn’t that common to run into them and if there was anything that you loved a lot it was books. Once fully recovered you vowed to pay a visit and buy some new books.

You sighed deeply as you leaned against one of the porch’s pillars and gazed at the horizon. The sun was barely peeking out from behind the emerald hills just beyond the town, splashing the sky with magenta and indigo colors. You were so entranced you didn’t hear or felt a presence behind you until they called out to you.

Your hand flew over your chest as you whipped around, brows raised at the stern looking man before you. “You scared me.” 

Arthur apologized quietly before moving to stand next to you and placing his hands on the wooden porch railing. “You should be inside resting.”

“I’ve rested enough.” Your eyes flickered towards him momentarily before shifting a little away from him as you went back to watching the sunrise. 

No matter how subtle that gesture was Arthur noticed it. He had no clue why you were suddenly acting this way towards him. Was it something that he said but didn’t realize? He tried to think back on the previous interactions with you but came up with nothing. It was then that the frustration got the best of him.

“What’s wrong now?” He questioned in a demanding tone. 

You furrowed your brows but still kept your gaze fixated towards the horizon. “Nothing is wrong. I just came out here for some fresh air.” You gestured with a hand. It was probably best that you left it at that, but the stubborn side of you was itching for its release. Forget about biting your tongue back this time around. 

“Now, I don’t like it when you start assuming things about me.” You turned your head to look at him and found that he was already looking back at you.

“I ain’t assuming. I just saw that something was off.” He pulled out a cigarette from his front pocket and began to ignite it. 

You narrowed your eyes at him and he did the same in return. “Well you saw something that wasn’t there, Mr. Morgan. Which ain't unusual of you might I add,” you said matter-of-factly, brows quirking tauntingly. 

Arthur puffed out some of the cigarette smoke in your direction and almost chuckled. “Even when you’re ill you still manage to act like a brat.” He continued smoking his cigarette calmly, the final gesture that triggered you in that instance.

“A brat?” You scoffed. “No that wasn’t anything close to acting like one. Though if you want I can show you how a real brat acts.” You were now fully turned towards him, your chin held up high in the air and your hands on your hips in defiance. Your brows were knitted together and your features held nothing but pure irritation.

“Oh, I’m so sorry to intrude.” The doctor was suddenly standing off to the side. You and Arthur didn’t even hear him approaching, too busy staring each other down.

“You weren’t intruding.” Arthur was the first to speak, his cold eyes never leaving your own. “I was just discussing with my wife here that she needed to go back in and rest.” He threw the cigarette butt onto the wooden floor before crushing it with the heel of his boot, completely unaware of how your heart rate had spiked up because he just called you his wife. 

“And he’s right, Mrs. Callahan. I know you probably feel better but you’re still in recovery. Your fever can spike up. It’s happened before. Now if by tomorrow your temperature is back to normal then I’ll let you out for a while. There’s a little patio in the back with a nice view you can sit there,” he promised. 

“That sounds lovely now don’t it?” Arthur smiled down at you, albeit sarcastically, as he placed his hands on his belt.

You silently cursed at how good he looked in that moment. “It does,” you smiled as you briefly glanced at him before looking back at the doctor. “Thank you.” You realized then that you didn’t even know the doctor's name. “I’m sorry, I must’ve not paid attention, I didn’t catch your name before.” You smiled apologetically.

“Ah it's Dr. Arnold Werner but no worries! It’s perfectly understandable given your addled state yesterday. Now please come in so I can do another check up.” He stepped away from the doorway and you silently obliged.

So far everything was fine. Your fever had climbed down to two degrees and you didn’t feel sick anymore. The doctor gave you an energy booster injection instead of another dosage of medication and the two of you conversed for a while after that. Arthur had left earlier to bring in some breakfast for all of you though he was taking a while now.

“You know, you two remind me of my wife and I.” The doctor smiled fondly as he looked out the window from where he sat. “We had our bad and good moments but we loved each other dearly.” He sighed. “I miss her. “How did you and your husband meet if you don’t mind me asking?”

You smiled as you looked away from him, the cogs in your brain working up a story on the spot. You then realized you didn’t have to as you thought back on the late Robert. The man you once loved. The one brutally taken away from you. 

“We met while out in a field. The horse I was riding got spooked by a snake, nearly bucked me off, and then he showed up. He managed to calm the horse before it ran off. I know it sounds like a storybook moment but it was like love at first sight.” You sighed dreamily, though you felt a heavy sadness weighing your heart down over the sudden reminiscing.

You had to remind yourself that you were okay. All of that was just a distant memory now. You’ve learned to move on. And though he was gone along with your immense love for him, he would always be in your heart no matter what.

The doctor must’ve noticed the change in your demeanor then and immediately asked if you were alright. “Yes, I’m alright,” you offered a smile and leaned back against the headboard of the bed. “I was just…thinking of the good times in the past.”

“Oh, good. I thought you were getting blue on me for a second there.” He smiled and paused for a moment as though he was calculating his next words “Mr. Callahan looks like he really loves you.”

You almost choked on your own saliva then and there. “Oh, well, I married him for a reason.” You chuckled as you thought about the few good moments you've shared with the outlaw. “It also helped that he’s so caring and gentle—not to mention attractive. I’ve never met a man quite as handsome as him.” You stared at the foot of your bed with a twinkle in your eye and a fond smile. It was true. Even compared to Robert. While the former was attractive, Arthur was simply just on a whole different level than him. 

The sound of someone clearing their throat interrupted your thoughts as the doctor chuckled away. Arthur stood at the doorway and you swore you never felt this embarrassed in your life as you did right now. How long was he standing there? 

You felt your cheeks heating up as he stood there over the threshold, staring at you with an indiscernible expression.

Chapter Text

Dr. Werner welcomed Arthur back with a bright smile on his face. “Your wife here was just telling me how you two met.”

“Is that right? She thrives when telling that one.” Arthur shook his head as he laughed a little. “But I can assure you she didn’t marry me for my looks. It’s all about the personality.” He set the basket of food down on the table before distributing it to their respective owners.

“That’s true.” the doctor grabbed his plate and thanked him kindly. You followed suit and quietly thanked Arthur but you didn’t say anything after that. “I told Mrs. Callahan that you two reminded me of my wife and I. She too was younger than me but we loved each other, unlike those other usual marriages with an age gap.” 

Arthur nodded. “It’s sad to see those types of marriages. Guess you and I got lucky huh.”

The doctor chuckled a little. “We sure did. But my luck ran out when my Jane contracted typhoid fever. Kind of ironic isn’t it?” He looked down at his plate and began eating.

“I’m really sorry to hear that.” You frowned. Arthur offered his own condolences and became silent after that. 

“It was a while back.” He smiled slightly before looking down at his plate momentarily. “When you were brought in I was afraid that you might’ve had a deadly fever, you should have seen yourself you looked so ill. I was relieved when that wasn’t the case.” He looked at Arthur then. “Continue taking good care of her. You never know what might happen. It’s a horrible cruel world out there.” 

Arthur knew that all too well. You had yet to see the world that he’d seen. To experience more of the grisly outlaw life, though that very idea didn’t sit well with him. 

A girl like you didn’t deserve to get tangled up in this mess. Especially with him. You deserved to live a better life. And, without absolute doubt, Arthur would do anything to keep you safe. In fact, he will ensure that you get out of this gang life so that you could live a normal and peaceful life like you always wanted since running away from your home. And hopefully after that you’ll find someone that would make you happy for the rest of your life. Someone honest, good, and kind like yourself. 

“I most definitely will, doc. You can be sure of that.” Arthur gave him a curt nod before casting is eyes towards you and smiling ever so softly.

You returned the smile and watched him silently as your heart began to speed up a little. You had always found Arthur attractive but when he gets protective like this, smiles like that, it’s like it increases tenfold if that’s possible. Why must he make it so difficult for you? It was just a few hours ago that you vowed to stop looking at him that way. That you needed to stop these feelings from developing further than they already had. 

You looked away, though throughout the whole meal you stole a few glances, and Arthur did too, as he and  Dr. Werner chatted away. You didn’t feel like talking much but when it was necessary you added a few things into the conversation.

By midday you managed to finish the book that Dr. Werner had lent you earlier, it was a pretty thin one and you were a fast reader. Suffice to say you were bored now and needed something else to do that wasn’t sleeping.

The idea of going to the library was still ingrained in your head but you knew that the doctor wasn’t going to allow you to go just yet. Maybe if you pretended to go to the outhouse you could sneak off really quick without anyone noticing. 

There was one tiny problem though: you didn’t have money to buy at least one book. Then again, you have been living with outlaws for the past few months now. You could try to steal one or two. The prospect of that made you feel both excited and nervous. You only ever robbed money on two separate occasions, the first time was a simple homestead robbery and the other was at Edson’s place.

Arthur was still in the room reading the newspaper. You cleared your throat and looked at him. “I have to go to the privie.” He grunted in response and you left as quickly as you could. The doctor was attending someone else in the other room so you made a quick escape through the front of the door, smoothing out your blouse and hair in the process to appear more presentable.

A few people greeted you on your way to the shop. It was a small placid town and everyone looked friendly. The bookstore owner was even more friendlier you soon found. You were browsing through the very neat and polished bookshelves, all categorized by their respective genres. The owner had came up to you and offered her assistance. It didn’t take long before the two of you began to discuss about all the good books you’ve read so far. 

It was then that you realized you couldn’t go through with your original plan. You would feel too guilty if you did. “This book right here has a great selection of poems that you’ll surely love.” You grinned as she handed you over a bright red hard covered book with golden letters etched on it.

“A collection of wonderful poems to read,” you read out loud and giggled softly. “Very straightforward.” Your smile began to fade then and you looked up at the other. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to take it right now. I don’t have my money but will it be okay if you could put it on hold for me ‘til tomorrow?” 

The owner nodded with a smile. “Of course! I’ll put it on hold for you at the front desk. You’re not from around here are you?”

You shook your head as you smiled. “I’m visiting for the summer. It’s a beautiful countryside here.” You handed over the book. “Thank you so much.”

“No problem!” She took the book with a smile. “I hope you’re enjoying your stay. If you’d like, you can stay a while more to finish looking through the shelves. There’s also a little sitting area in the back if you need it.” 

At the sound of that your face lit up with excitement but just as quickly faded. You’ve stayed longer than you should and knew you had to leave soon before you were found. “I’d love to but I have to get back. I’m expected. Do you have the time ma’am?” The woman gestured at a wooden clock on the wall and your eyes bugged out. It’s been a little over half an hour since you left. 

“I have to go now.” Your heart began pounding fast in your chest. “I’ll be back by tomorrow.” You threw her a quick smile before bounding towards the exit. As soon as you stepped out you were greeted by the sight of Arthur as he was walking by, a grim expression on his face. The sound of your surprised little gasp drew his attention towards you then, immediately stopping in his tracks. There was nothing but ire in his expression now and you gulped as you froze in place.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He snarled, his voice becoming a few tones deeper. You opened your mouth to speak but he was already storming up the few steps of the shop and yanking you away from the entrance by the arm. His seize on you wasn’t tight but you were surprised at the sudden gesture.


“Do you ever listen? Or do the words go through one ear and out the other?” He was fuming, his grasp suddenly tightening slightly around you but not enough to cause any pain or discomfort. 

“I’m sorry!” You squeaked as you struggled from his firm hold on you. “I just wanted to see the shop really quick. Now let go of me.” You kept struggling but he didn’t budge. His eyes were trained on you intently and you couldn’t help but feel self conscious and nervous at the same time. You averted your eyes then and looked off to the side, shrinking back into yourself.

“You are unbelievable sometimes ya know know that?” Arthur emitted an exasperated sigh and released you before turning and leaving. 

You pressed your lips together as you fiddled with the sides of your skirt, staring at his back for a few moments. He didn't wait for you and kept marching towards the doctor’s office. You sighed defeatedly and quickly trailed after him.

Dr. Werner greeted you both as you went in. Arthur simply nodded before entering the room. He took a seat in his usual spot at the other end and didn’t speak to you. And for the remainder of the day he didn’t utter one single word, didn’t even take once glance. You didn’t dare to say one word to him either. It was clear he was still upset.

In all honesty you hated it. You thought about saying something but immediately decided against it. Instead you sat there and reread the book from earlier, or at least pretended to. At some point Arthur stood up and exited the room. You didn’t say anything as he didn’t either. By evening the boredom had you feeling sleepy so you gave in to it and slept.

What was supposed to be a quick power nap turned into a full night's sleep, you soon found that out as the brightness of the room blinded you. As you stretched and yawned quietly, your gaze fell upon Arthur’s slump form on his chair. He was currently snoring lightly, arms crossed over his chest and head tilted forward. His gambler hat hid his eyes but even then he still looked handsome as ever. 

You took a moment to admire him before he began to stir. As quickly and quietly as you could you went back to lay down and pretended you were asleep.

Dr. Werner came in a few minutes after that, apologizing for the sudden intrusion but apparently he had forgotten one of his tools in the room. Arthur quickly dismissed it and after the doctor had grabbed what he needed the two of them stepped outside the room to talk. You sat up a little, propping yourself on your elbows and trying to make out what they were saying. 

“‘Scuse her for yesterday. She usually ain’t like this. I guess it’s with the whole traveling thing. She’s anxious to go out and explore.” Arthur ran a hand down his face before resting his hands on his hips.

“No need to worry. It’s perfectly understandable.” The doctor cleared his throat before continuing. “I don’t mean to impose or anything Mr. Callahan, but please don’t be upset with her. From what I could tell she’s a lovely woman. You’re really lucky to have such a beautiful and intelligent wife like her. I know things get difficult sometimes, I should know, but marriage is a wonderful thing.” The doctor smiled at him. “Enjoy it while you still can and take care of her. I can tell how much you love her, and she loves you too. I see the way she looks at you when you’re not looking.” 

You began to blush in that moment. The married couple status was just pretend but the way you felt for him wasn’t. You brought a hand over your chest and continued listening.

Dr. Werner sighed. “If I could only turn back time...” He trailed off as he gazed out the window. “There will always be trials and tribulations ahead but trying to work them out together as soon as possible is worth it. Be patient and be kind.” 

Arthur stood there silently as he stared at the wooden floor. He wouldn’t know firsthand what marriage is like but he could only imagine it. Especially if it were with you. He couldn’t lie but it felt nice to call you his wife, and even more so when others mention it. His poor little heart almost gave out the first time you called him your husband. Maybe he was in too deep, more than he’d like to admit.

It was all pretend though. You would never look at him that way. The doctor was right about one thing though—or rather two. You were beautiful and intelligent, and anyone would be lucky to have you. He felt sorry for the doctor, having lost his wife, but he felt even more sorry for himself. He wasn’t going to have the luxury of experiencing marriage and the domestic life that came with it, and this was yet another reminder of that. It was a depressing fact but he had accepted it a long time ago.

“I will.” He finally spoke. “I ain’t a perfect man but I’ll try my best.”

“None of us are but trying is what matters.”

You had gotten out of bed now and had your ear pressed against the door. The moment you saw the doorknob turn you panicked but quickly regained your composure and pulled the door opened, pretending like you were about to step out. You were faced with Arthur himself and you froze. Just when you were about to say something the doctor interrupted you.

“Ah you’re awake!” Dr. Werner chirped as he popped his head from behind Arthur. “Let’s check how you’re doing.”

You and Arthur stared into each other’s eyes for a while longer, both of you holding in your breathes without even realizing it. “Alright.” You finally responded to the doctor and offered him a warm smile before going back to sit on the bed. 

He did his usual check up on you. Arthur stood at the doorway this time, almost as if afraid to take one step inside the room. And he was in a way. This whole pretending to be a married couple situation was becoming difficult. Especially when he had been developing feelings for you, something that he was trying to deny and reject time and time again. 

He tried to suppress those feelings by acting indifferent towards you and even trying to put distance between you both, the latter proving to be a complete failure so far. You were like the sun, melting away any and all attempts under your welcoming warmth. And much like the sun's gravitational properties, he was always being pulled back and surrounding you closely. All of his efforts were simply futile in the end. 

“Your fever is practically gone. You’ve made a speedy recovery,” Dr. Werner declared.

You looked at the thermometer, a smile forming on your lips. “Will I be able to go out later on today as you said before.” 

“Of course! The little patio in the back and a garden too. My assistant, Octavia, will finally be coming in today, she was on leave due to her pregnancy. I’ll be stepping out for a bit so if you need anything just ask her.”

“Okay.” You smiled and sat further back onto the bed to lean against the headboard. You watched as the doctor placed his medical tools back in their place.

“Oh and if your temperature decreases even more by the end of the day you’ll be able to leave tomorrow morning.” He pointed out. 

You were beyond elated. Being bedridden was no fun. Yet you couldn’t deny that it was nice to have Arthur around, given the circumstances. He was practically forced to stay with you by Miss Grimshaw. That must have been such a bore for him, but you were really grateful for what he did for you. 

It was then that you noticed his disappearance. You asked Dr. Werner but he didn’t know. Even after you ate breakfast, courtesy of the doctor, Arthur was still missing. He probably got fed up and left and Miss Grimshaw was on her way now. 

“Maybe he went to tell his mother about your recovery,” the doctor assumed. You could only nod but the sorrowful sigh you emitted was unmistakable.

Was he really regressing back to his old ways with you? Ignoring you. Acting indifferent. So much for the whole spouse story. 

You began to feel a knot forming in your throat but you swallowed it back and tried to get your mind off of him and the situation. It was easier said than done as you soon found it to be quite hard. Very, very hard. You went on to lie in bed and curled up into a ball, your thoughts racing a mile a minute.

Why did it have to be so complicated?

Chapter Text

Midday arrived along with Arthur. His heavy footsteps resonated on the wooden planks of the office. You heard his muffled voice speaking to the doctor’s assistant before walking back to the exit shortly afterwards. Where was he going? You stood up and poked your head out the door. 

“Excuse me. Do you happen to know where my husband went?” Those two simple words had you instantly feeling half dazed. Even when he wasn’t around he still had an effect on you. And you hated it.
“Oh he just stepped out to go see his mother.” The assistant smiled. “If you need anything, let me know.”

You thanked her with a smile before stepping back inside the room and sighing softly. You stood with your back against the wall and stared up at the ceiling. Couldn’t he have told you instead of having someone relay the message? 

You swallowed and closed your eyes. It was beginning to appear like the two of you would never have a cordial relationship. Every time one step was taken forward, two steps were taken back soon after that. There was always something.

As much as you hate to admit it, it was most likely your fault this time around. You shouldn’t have snuck out in the first place.

You slowly made your way back to bed and neatly made the sheets. When you finished you finally stepped out to the small patio in the back and sat down on one of the cushioned seats. The despondent mood from earlier never left you, still weighing you down as you gazed towards the horizon. It was a beautiful sight but it wasn’t enough to lift your spirits. 

It wasn’t even ten minutes in yet when you began to feel tired, aside from being in low spirits. You concluded that maybe a nap would help so you headed back inside to climb into bed. 

There was a sudden knock at your door before you had a chance to close your eyes. Dr. Werner popped his head in shortly afterwards. “Are you okay, Mrs. Callahan?”

Hearing him calling you that only made you feel worse. “Yes,” you spoke very softly. You were facing the wall so he wasn’t able to see you. It was a good thing because you probably looked like you were on the verge of tears.

“Octavia is going to make some tea. Is there any specific one you’d like?”

“Cinnamon would be nice.”

“Great. I’ll let her know. Have you went outside yet? It's a beautiful day.”

“I don’t really feel like it.” You emitted a gentle sigh as you closed your eyes. The doctor didn’t say anything about that and merely excused himself after that. 

It wasn’t long before Octavia brought you your tea and surprised you when she mentioned that there was something for you out far in the back garden. As quickly as you possibly could, without scalding your tongue, you finished your tea and left to see what she was talking about. You almost ran into Arthur as he came into the hall from the opposite direction. Your face lit up at the sight of him but you quickly tried to regain your composure. 

“Arthur, I… I thought you left.”

“Well wouldn’t you have loved that.” His words were dredged with sarcasm. His brows were raised, almost challenging you.

You closed your eyes momentarily as you shook your head. “Please. Don’t start now.”

“I’m just messin’ with ya.” 

But you had a feeling that he wasn’t. You sighed as you looked towards the exit. “Are you going out too?”

“Yeah. The doc said he had a surprise for me.” 

You raised your brows. “He said the same thing to me. Well Octavia did actually.”

Arthur looked surprised. “Let’s go see then.”

The two of you headed out together, Arthur letting you go out the door first and him following closely behind. It made you feel a little jittery but the feeling soon dwindled the further you two ventured out beyond the garden fence. Small green hills with a sundry of colorful flowers scattered about was all that could be seen. It was a beautiful sight you could never get enough of.

When you two reached a big oak tree you immediately saw it. There behind the wide trunk laid a neatly spread light blue gingham blanket. A woven basket came into view as you walked further along the grassy little hill. There was a folded note situated on top of it that read ‘To Mr. and Mrs. Callahan’ on it. You kneeled down and unfolded it.

“I hope you two enjoy this lovely picnic lunch together. Sometimes it helps to set everything aside and enjoy a beautiful day out with your loved one. Courtesy of Dr. Arnold Werner.” You felt your cheeks heating up slightly. 

“A picnic?” Arthur asked incredulously.

“You don’t have to stay and pretend Arthur. You could at least take the food and eat somewhere else.” You looked up at him tiredly.

“I’m not really hungry.”

You stared back down at the basket and nodded, shoulders slouching a bit. “Alright. I’ll see you later then.” He didn’t say anything after that but you heard him leaving. You sighed softly and sat down with your legs tucked underneath you, your hands resting on your thighs as you stared at the basket.

Arthur had dared to look over his shoulder and saw your slouched form. It was almost as if you were sad, but it could have been exhaustion too. Something inside of him suddenly told him to turn back around. Naturally he’d ignore that part, the one telling him it wouldn’t feel right if he walked away like previous, but this time he didn’t. It almost felt like if he was obliged to.

“On second thought maybe I am hungry.” He turned on his heel and headed back towards you.

You blinked, astounded at the fact that he had changed his mind so quickly and unexpectedly, though it was a very welcoming turnaround. 

He sat down close to the edge of the blanket and waited for you to reveal the contents, too nervous to help for fear of any accidental hand touching.

Cheese, bread, smoked glazed ham, grapes, two baked potatoes, and a roasted lamb pot-pie all soon sat neatly in their wrappings in the middle of you both. There was also a bottle of wine but you decided to leave it in the basket.

“This looks delicious.” You murmured and began to slice the pot-pie. Arthur quietly agreed before popping a few grapes in his mouth. You placed a slice on a porcelain plate and handed it over to him along with a fork. He thanked you and began eating almost immediately. You served yourself while discreetly glancing at him to catch his reaction. He seemed pleased with the flavor but remained silent.

After tasting a small bite of the pot-pie you hummed and nodded in satisfaction. “This is really good. I haven’t tasted a pot-pie this delicious before. The meat is so tender.” You smiled down at your plate as you sliced off another piece with your fork. Arthur stared at you from under the brim of his hat, never lifting his head.

“It really is.” He finally replied after a short while. You were sure he would have stayed quiet. You looked up from your plate and smiled. 

“This is nice ain’t it?” You leaned forward and grabbed a piece of glazed ham and bit into it. “Mm you should try this.” 

A smirk crossed your lips then and you extended your arm towards him as if you were about to feed him yourself. He looked up with knitted brows which prompted you to break out into a fit of giggles. 

“Very funny.” Arthur shook his head and as much as he tried to remain serious the small smile playing on his lips betrayed him.

You giggled some more before gesturing at the plate of ham. “No but really, try it, it’s delicious.” You canted your head to the side and watched him savor a piece. 

His brows shot up in surprise, lips quirking in a ‘not bad’ manner. “It has this nice sweet taste to it. Kinda like it.”

A wide smile stretched your lips and Arthur held his breath in at that sight. He had to tear his gaze away before you could notice his gawking. 

“Told ya.” You carried on eating your pot-pie slice. “This definitely beats Pearson’s stew don’t it?” You smirked slightly and shifted so you were now sitting with your legs to the side.

Arthur chuckled and nodded as he looked down at his plate. “Sure does. And to think I was about to miss all this. Glad I stuck around.” He reached forward to take another slice of the pot-pie along with a wedge of cheese. 

You could only stare in amusement as he began digging in his other piece. He sure finishes his food fast, it was something that you noticed back when you first started taking more interest in him. You on the other hand took your sweet time.

“I'm glad you did.” Arthur glanced up and you became nervous all of a sudden. Were you staring at him too much now? What if he noticed?

“I wouldn’t be able to finish all this myself you know,” you quickly added. He nodded but didn’t say anything after that.

“You sure eat fast don’t you.” You commented innocently as he was already halfway done with his second slice.

“Yeah. Got used to it I guess.” He shrugged and stuffed a big piece of meat pie in his mouth. 

You didn’t know what else to say after that. In all honesty you were still in shock that Arthur had stayed. It made you feel slightly nervous since it truly felt like a picnic date. Then again, you two were playing the role of a married couple. It was only natural given the circumstances.

“You feeling better then?” He was staring at you thoughtfully now.

“Yes. I'm feeling much better now.” Your gaze fell down onto your plate and you picked a piece of your second slice of meat pie. “I can’t believe Dr. Werner did all of this for us. He’s really nice.” You paused. “I never ask any favors from you, but would it be okay if I did just this once?”

Arthur raised his brows expectantly. “Sure.”

“Could you could go back to camp and grab my money from my tent. I want to pay the doctor myself for everything.” Your eyes flicked up towards him to see his reaction.

Arthur grunted and set his finished plate down, moving to grab his baked potato. “I ain’t goin’ nowhere. I’ll pay so don’t worry about nothing.”

“Arthur I can’t accept that.” You started as you lowered your plate onto your lap. “I’ll go back myself if I have to.”

“Like hell you are. You’re forgetting that I’m your pretend husband—for now, and husbands are supposed to pay for their wives.” Your heart made an involuntary jump at that. He gave you one last look before returning to the food on his plate.

“Fine,” you sighed. “But I’ll pay you back. It’s the least I can do for everything you’ve done for me so far.” Your eyes met his and you smiled a little. “Thank you Arthur, really. I know I must have been a burden and—”

“No, you ain’t a burden. It was my fault that you got sick so I had an obligation to look after you. Glad to see that you’ve recovered now.”

You shook your head. “It wasn’t your fault. It was mine for running off like that by myself,” you half scoffed and half chuckled. “But what could you expect from a fool like me right?”

A really big one at that. You were an even bigger one thinking that you and Arthur could be something. And for even having a speck of hope for that.

“Well I guess we have that in common then.” He smiled before getting back to his food. You chuckled. 

This was definitely nice and you were really grateful that Dr. Werner had organized this little picnic, if only to be closer to Arthur and feel like things were okay between the two of you now. You only hoped that it wouldn’t be short lived like before. You’ve been wanting to really get to know Arthur, and maybe now was the perfect chance to do so. But only once you’ve garnered enough courage in the next couple of minutes that is.

“How charming of you, Mr. Morgan.” 

“Only when I need to be,” he jested. 

You laughed softly. “Are you gonna eat more grapes?” You grabbed the bundle and offered them to him. He took a few and thanked you, and you went to grab a handful for yourself after that.

As you sat there happily chewing on the fruit and smiling to yourself, your head rocking slightly from side to side, you didn’t notice Arthur’s eyes on you and the way that he began to admire your blissful state. It was only when you looked up that he averted his eyes and cleared his throat.

“You enjoying this a lot aren’t ya?” He smiled slightly and finished his cheese wedge. 

“Of course I am. It’s not like we have picnics back at camp. Not to mention the view.” You turned to look at the horizon. “It’s beautiful here.”

Arthur followed your gaze and nodded. “It sure is… it’s too bad you’re stuck with me though.” 

Your face dropped and Arthur mentally kicked himself. Him and his big mouth. It was something that he couldn’t help though. Making self-deprecating comments was what he was used to. Old habits die hard. 

“I’m just joking,” he added.

You sighed and nodded. “Just so you know I don’t mind this at all, your company I mean.” You paused. “It’s nice.” 

Arthur arched a brow and stared intently at you, leaning towards you in a subtle manner. 

“When you’re not being an ass that is,” you smirked and Arthur began chuckling a bit, his shoulders shaking with mirth. You loved the sight of him like this but you loved the feeling of making him laugh even more. It really brings out his gentle side, something that drove you crazy and wanting for more. 

“I’ll try my best not to be one but if I slip up then sorry in advance.”

“Oh shut up you silly man,” you giggled. Arthur smiled as he dug through the basket and brought out the wine. “Gonna need a few drinks of this to try and lighten up more,” he kept joking. 

You giggled some more and grab the two glasses from the basket. “Dr. Werner was really generous with that bottle,” you pointed out.

Too generous. This stuff is expensive,” Arthur commented as he popped off the top with a little tool that was included in the basket. “He must have really liked us.” He grabbed one of the glass cups from you and poured a generous amount before handing it back to you. You thanked him and began to take a few sips.

“So, how did you came to be in the Van der Linde gang?” You gently set your glass down in front of you and grabbed a small cheese wedge.

“I was about fifteen when Dutch and Hosea found me.”
Your eyes widened but you didn’t say anything as you didn’t want to interrupt him. “My mother died when I was pretty young and my father, well, he was a lowlife criminal. Saw him get killed when I was eleven, took his hat after that.” He gestured towards the gambler hat sitting on his head. “Dutch and Hosea taught me everything I know now. They practically raised me, and for that I’m thankful.”

You nodded but remained silent. Arthur took a lengthy sip from his wine and sighed afterwards. “The life of an outlaw is all I’ve known since. Guess I followed in my father’s footsteps in that. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all.”

“That’s not true.” You interjected. “You aren’t a lowlife. Yes, you’re an outlaw but you and the others are different from other gangs. You all follow a code. Like Dutch had said, steal from the rich and help those in need. You’re actually very nice when you want to be. Gentle even.”

Arthur’s brows knitted together. “That ain’t true.”

“It is. I’ve noticed.”

“Oh so now you’ve been watching me?”

“N-no I just, it’s not that hard to see. With the way you’ve helped me before. You care for everyone in camp. Compared to the stories I’ve heard of the O’Driscolls, you ain’t as bad as them.”

“I’m still a bad man. I’ve done really bad things.”

“Arthur, you’re all trying to find a way out of this life now right? Dutch has been talking about it since I’ve joined. You can finally leave this life behind and live a normal one. Maybe find someone and settle down.”

“I wouldn’t deserve that kind of life.”

“That’s not true,” you spoke softly, your doleful eyes boring into his. “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

“Nah I’m all out of chances now. I’m old already, my time has passed.”

“You ain’t old,” you practically chided. “You can definitely find a woman out there if you want to.”

Arthur shrugged before taking a few sips of his wine. After a while you noticed a small smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. “You think I’m handsome then? Heard everything you told the doc.”

Your eyes immediately widened and your mouth went dry a little. “N-no I was just—I mean it ain’t like that. He asked me how we meet and I had to give him a story.” 

Arthur chuckled as he took in your florid face. “I know I was just messin’ with ya.”

You shook your head but you were still embarrassed. “You're just trying to change the subject aren’t ya. Well nice try but it didn’t work.” You heaved a sigh. “Just think about what I said earlier and give yourself a chance. Try to be—and think—positive.”

“So you’re some life guru now?” He didn’t say it mockingly and instead had a rather teasing tone to it, one that made you almost want to smile. Almost.

“No, I’m just trying to make you see things differently. C’mon Arthur, you ain’t that bad.” He shook his head and continued drinking his wine. “You know, I trust you, despite the multiple clashes we’ve had. I really do.” You leaned forward a little. “And if I had to choose anyone in camp to lay my life in their hands then it would be in yours, Arthur.”

He was left stunned. Maybe you didn’t hate him as he thought you did. But that also didn’t necessarily mean you liked him either, especially not in a romantic way. And that was good enough for him. 

“I’ll give you my word. As long as you’re with us I won’t let any harm come to you.”

You smiled softly as you looked at him and felt a warmth blooming across your chest, your heart beating a little faster than usual. “I know you won’t.”

Chapter Text

Arthur and you had tried to finish all the food, resulting in only leaving a few slices of the cold ham and a portion of the pot-pie that neither of you could touch anymore. There was still a lot of wine left over so the two of you continued conversing as you drank.

The topic of conversation had switched to one of the many stories of the gang’s heists. At some point Arthur mentioned a funny occurrence about how Bill had messed up and the both of you were soon a laughing mess.

You had lost track of the cups of wine you had taken but you started to feel the effects of the alcohol weighing you down.

The two of you kept exchanging stories, but you much preferred listening to Arthur’s. He seemed to have gone on some quite adventures so far, exploring many different places throughout the years. You hoped that one of these days you’ll be able to experience that, and more so with him by your side.

“So this old man thought you were his son and gave you a wad of cash but you gave it back, you really are a sweetheart.” You giggled and settled next to Arthur, mirroring his current position by crossing your feet and leaning against the tree bark.

“Hey it wasn’t right to keep that money. I would’ve felt guilty. He did tell me about a place where a lot of money was kept though, so Dutch, Hosea, and I went down there the next day. It was worth it.”

You giggled some more. “I’m sure it was but that was really sweet of you. Any other outlaw would have kept it.”

“You’re making me regret telling ya that story.”

You laughed. “Oh that’s right, because big bad outlaw Morgan hates when people tell him that he’s compassionate and does good things sometimes.”

“Maybe you’ve had enough to drink don’t you think?” He nodded towards your cup and though he tried to sound and look annoyed he was anything but. It was clear as the afternoon skies that he was amused.

“Nonsense! I’m barely on my third cup,” you lied through your teeth and took a long sip. 

“Sure you are, princess.” Arthur chuckled softly. “I, on the other hand, am on my seventh and I’m feelin’ good. Better than ever even.” His southern accent seemed to have grown thicker. He grabbed the wine bottle by its neck and poured some more. “This is a big bottle but I ain’t complain’, the more the merrier.” 

And it’s free alcohol. Save some for me too.” You quickly extended your empty cup towards him but it had bumped into his own in the process. Some of dark liquid sloshed out and landed on Arthur’s pants. 

You gasped and quickly grabbed a cloth. “I’m so sorry.” You tried to wipe at the stain but Arthur gently curled his fingers around your wrist, prompting you to freeze in place. You slowly looked up at him, noting the close proximity between you two. Heat immediately invaded your cheeks and you lowered your head in hopes that he wouldn’t notice.

“It’s alright. I got it.” He released your wrist and took the cloth from you. 

You realized then how close it was to his nether region, which only made you blush further and furiously so. You sat back down mortified and speechless as you fiddled with your dress, watching Arthur wiping against the stain. “I’ll buy you a new pair. I don’t think you could do much about it now.”

“Nah don’t bother. These are old anyways.” He set the cloth down and grabbed your cup to pour more alcohol. “Just forget about it and enjoy more of this. Here.”

You quickly nodded and took the cup. The liquid felt like a blessing as it streamed down your throat. It didn’t take long before the alcohol mollified any and all trace of inhibitions, and you felt relaxed once again. Enough to go back to conversing with Arthur like nothing had ever happened.

The two of you shared a few more laughs as the bottle of wine gradually became empty. When Arthur tried to pour some more and only a single drop fell into his cup, you broke out into a fit of giggles that caused him to follow along heartily.

“Here. I still have a full cup.” Before he could protest against it you were already pouring half of its contents, and rather clumsily, into his cup. A bit of the wine spilled out at the sides and down on Arthur’s pants again but you were too busy giggling to say anything. 

None of you cared anymore at this point. The effects of the alcohol were well embedded in your systems, though you were slightly more intoxicated than Arthur was at this point.

“Oooops.” Arthur drawled out and laughed. He slumped back onto the bark of the tree with a satisfied sigh, casting his gaze towards the expanse of the emerald hills. “I feel like one of ‘em rich folks who go on picnics and bring along fine wine.”

“Except for the stuck up part,” you quirked a brow and lifted your glass to your lips. “Hey before we leave town we should get ourselves one of these bottles. It really helps to relax.”

Arthur nodded with a content expression on his face. “Yeah, and just for ourselves. We’ll have to hide it from everyone else, especially Sean.” He jutted his pointer finger in the air to finalize his statement.

You guffawed and nodded in return. “He’ll drink the whole damn thing for sure. Maybe we could sneak out of camp into the woods where no one could see us.” You grinned lazily, lifting your cup in midair. “And then we’ll have a great time. I hope no one catches us though.”

If it weren’t for the alcohol you probably wouldn’t have made such a suggestion. Sneaking away with him into the woods, where no one could see you both? What on earth were you thinking? And the way you phrased the rest was a bit questionable, inappropriate even. 

The moment you realized it you almost choked on your wine but then promptly brushed it off your shoulders, lacking any sort of qualms as you continued downing the wine. You didn’t even regret it. And to your surprise Arthur agreed to it.

Now that the wine was completely gone and there wasn’t much to do the both of you decided it was time to head back. You tried to place some of the plates back neatly in the basket but you were feeling tired and wanted nothing more than to take a nap right there and then. 

“I’m so sleepy.” You covered your mouth and yawned. 

Arthur eyed you as he carefully slipped the last porcelain plate inside the basket. “Me too. Let’s hurry and head back.”

You nodded and almost couldn’t wait to climb back into bed. It had been a while since you’ve been in a proper one and you’ve never slept better. Your thoughts immediately switched to Arthur then. The poor man had been sleeping on a chair for the last two days. You didn’t want to imagine the number it did on his back and neck. 

The guilt began to weigh on you suddenly. “What if we stay here and take a nap. The breeze feels nice and it ain’t that hot compared to the doctor's place.” 

Arthur stared at the spread blanket below him thoughtfully. You were sure he was going to reject that idea and began to prepare to go back as you closed the flaps of the woven basket. 

“Alright.” He finally answered. 

You broke into a smile and immediately went to lie down on your back with your hands resting on your stomach. You observed with half lidded eyes as Arthur finished storing the remaining stuff in the basket before settling back onto his previous spot against the trunk.

Your eyes flitted towards the leaves rustling gently in the breeze above you. “This tree is perfect for having a little wooden swing on it,” you mused as you listened to the warbling sounds of a few birds overhead, almost lulling you to sleep. “Kind of wish I could swing on one now.” You closed your eyes and sighed contently. Arthur replied with a hum and closed his eyes as well. “You’re not gonna lie down on the blanket? There’s plenty of room.”

He didn’t reply but after a short while you heard some shuffling. You opened your eyes to be greeted by the sight of him lying on his back at the edge of the blanket. His gambler hat was tipped over his face, covering his eyes and the bridge of his nose. He was breathing softly, his chest undulating. He was either fast asleep or just resting his eyes, you weren’t quite sure but you also weren’t going to perturb this peaceful moment by asking.

You could only smile at the scene in satisfaction knowing that Arthur had once again taken another one of your suggestions. It was almost as if he was becoming a different man towards you, and you were enjoying every minute of it. Reveling in it. 

You went back to shutting your eyes, a heaviness blanketing over you instantly and causing you to doze off.

And then you were dreaming about him. Again. 

It was strange because it took place in the same setting as the previous one; in a sprawling green meadow with colorful flowers decorating the area. This time you were entangled in his arms. Your back rested against his chest with your head against his shoulder, face angling up towards his. You stared into each other’s eyes as he beamed down at you. Then he said something that you couldn't make out before brushing his nose against yours in soft little strokes. You giggled as the gesture began to tickle you a little. 

The next few moments were strange as you began to actually feel the small tickling sensation on your nose, prompting it to flare and twitch several times. Since when were dreams so tangible?

Your eyes slowly fluttered open. You were barely able to see anything through the haziness but as you blinked away the grogginess your vision slowly came back into focus, landing on the very thing responsible for your puzzlement earlier. 

There suspended from a web was a medium sized brown spider. It’s gnarly front legs wriggled as it slowly ascended towards the leaves, mostly likely having second thoughts about making its landing on your face after your nose wiggling. It was still dangling dangerously close to your nose you couldn’t stop yourself from recoiling. 

The ear-piercing scream that left your throat had Arthur jolting up from his spot. He turned and found you thrashing in the air as you tried to back away from whatever was causing you terror in that moment.

“What happened?” He asked frantically as he approached you. 

“A spider was on my nose!” You cried out. You looked around before spotting it near the heel of your shoe. You screamed as you scrambled back and pointed at it. “There.”

Arthur immediately stood up and snatched up a leaf from the ground. After finally getting it to climb on top of it, he strode over to a distant bush and tossed the leaf on it. “There,” he called out and adjusted his hat. “It won’t bother you anymore. It was probably more scared of you at this point.”

You hugged your legs as you rested your chin on top of your knees. “Yeah well that still doesn’t make me hate them any less. They’re so icky and gross.” You twisted your face in disgust. 

“You gonna go back to taking a nap or do you wanna go back?”

“No I wanna go back.” You felt like a brat for ruining what was suppose to be a relaxing end to the afternoon picnic, but then again if the spider hadn’t shown up then it would’ve ended differently.

The walk back to the doctor's office was done in silence, though it wasn’t the uncomfortable type. The wine really did tire you both out and the short nap helped to some extent but nonetheless you were ready to be knocked out again.

Octavia had greeted you both as you came through the back door. The doctor was tending to a patient at the moment so the two of you trundled back into the room without thanking him just yet.

“Sorry about earlier. I didn’t mean to startle you awake with my screaming. I just… I hate those creepy small critters so much.” You sat at the edge of the bed and stared at him.

“It’s okay. I know plenty of people who’re scared of them.”

“If you want you can nap on the bed. I’m not sleepy anymore.” 

Arthur quickly shook his head. “I’m fine.”

“Please. It’s the least I can offer at the moment,” you insisted. You must be so tired and uncomfortable sleeping in that chair.”


You stood up and marched over to him, winding determined hands around his own as he made a small startled noise. It was a bit forward of you, and you couldn't really blame the alcohol for this one anymore. Maybe you were finally picking up more courage around him. And maybe you shouldn’t have gone and grabbed him like that in the first place. 

You studied his face for any indication of discomfort but all you found was confusion and a tinge of curiosity, like he wanted to see where this was going. He could have easily tore away from your hold if he wanted. Could have told you off for touching him. But he didn’t do any of those things. In the end you chalked it up to him just being exhausted from earlier.

“You gonna try to convince me?” He asked, clearly amused by the sudden situation.

You quirked your brows at him and tried not to get distracted by the feeling of his hands on your own, though it was quite a challenge when they felt warm and inviting. You didn’t mind that they were also calloused, no doubt induced by years of hard labor his lifestyle required. They somehow felt right in your hold as you cradled them, firm and reliable and even gentle in spite of everything. They would never betray you or bring harm upon you. 

“C’mon. I ain’t asking no more.” You gave his hands a slight tug.

“But it’s your bed and you should rest on it.”

“I’m fine, really. I wanna sit on the chair but you’re on it.”

“It’s not that comfortable.”

“Which is why you should go nap on the bed right now.”  You arched a brow and tugged at him one last time. “Please.” 

He sighed defeatedly before looking back at you. “You ain’t gunna stop botherin’ me if I don’t huh?” 

You only smirked and shook your head, squeezing his hands gently. 

The sound of approaching footsteps had you both turning your head towards the doorway where Dr. Werner came into view. “Ah you’re back!”

You both smiled at him and before you could say anything Arthur was already jumping to it. “Thank you so much for that lunch, that was really kind of you. My wife and I are beyond grateful for that gesture.”

You noticed then that you were still holding Arthur’s hands and you immediately released him, forgetting for a split moment that you two were “married” for the time being. There was nothing abnormal about that behavior, in fact, there was nothing holding you back from expressing it. Arthur never said anything about it, didn’t place any rules or guidelines. The only thing you remembered him saying was that you needed to comply with the plan and not ruin it.

So why not make a show of it now then? You bent down a little and rested you cheek against the side of his head, your hands finding their place on Arthur’s broad shoulders as they massaged and caressed the area there. “It really was a wonderful surprise. Arthur and I haven’t been on a picnic in a long time. Thank you.” You beamed at the doctor.

You were taken aback when Arthur suddenly stood up and wrapped a strong arm around you. You felt like your heart almost gave out, your knees practically wobbly underneath you. You breathed in and out slowly in hopes of steadying your fast pacing heart. 

Hopefully Arthur hadn’t noticed any of it. 

“Oh I’m glad you both liked it!” Dr. Werner looked very pleased. “You two make such a lovely couple.” 

Your face turned into a light shade of pink but you kept on smiling. “We got lucky we met each other,” you asserted and briefly looked up at Arthur who was looking down at you with a soft and wistful expression. You were forced to look away as more heat rushed towards your cheeks. You began to feel lightheaded then, albeit in a good way, almost like you were dreaming or floating through the clouds in your headspace.

“I'm gonna go ahead and do the usual check up now Mrs. Callahan,” Dr. Werner informed as he gathered the necessary tools.

You nodded and went back to sit on the edge of the bed, already missing the feeling of Arthur’s arm around you. One could say you were overreacting but it was simply indisputable. The very spot where he held you felt hollow and cold without his presence. You briefly glanced at him as the doctor began his routine check up.

“Temperature’s officially back to normal. My you sure made quite the speedy recovery. You’re a strong woman.”  The doctor nodded approvingly.

“Hardly. It’s all thanks to you Dr. Werner.” You paused for a moment. “Does this mean we can leave now?” You tilted your head slightly to the side.

“Well yes but you’re welcome to stay the night if you please.”

“Thank you you’re too kind but I’m afraid we’re gonna have to decline. Ain’t that right, dear?” You glanced over at Arthur.

“That’s right,” he concurred and stood up from his seat, stretching his back with a loud groan.

You chuckled before shaking your head. “My husband’s tired so we must get going now. How much do we owe you?”

“Five dollars, ma’am.” The doctor smiled. Arthur stood up and pulled out a ten dollar bill. “Keep the change.” He handed the money over to the doctor and clapped him on the back. 

“No, no here’s your change Mr. Callahan.” He was about to pull some money from his pocket when Arthur began to leave. “I’m not taking it so please just accept that amount,” he called over his shoulder before disappearing out the doorway.

Dr. Werner turned back towards you and you quickly shook your head. “I’m not taking it either. You’ve been so generous with us and we really thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” You extended your hand towards him and he took it with a firm shake. 

“It was a pleasure. You be careful now, there’s some bad folk around that want to take advantage of travelers such as yourselves. And take care, don’t do anything strenuous for a while,” he ordered and gave you a smile.

“I won’t. Thank you once again Dr. Werner, enjoy the rest of your day.” You smiled and dipped into a little curtsy before stepping out of the room.

Chapter Text

When you finally exited the building you saw Arthur waiting for you at the porch. The way he was leaning against one of the pillars, smoking and hips jutting out had you almost pausing to take in the view. Even if he was currently facing away from you his back was very attractive.


Your eyes couldn’t help but trail down the expanse of his body, noting the way his upper torso was wider than his waist and hips. His lower back side was something else to admire as well. You could definitely watch him all day if you could.  


When he finally turned towards you, you quickly went on to pretend you were looking at the floorboards instead.


“You ready?” He stubbed out his cigarette on the porch railing as you nodded.


“Yes. But, um, will it be okay if I can look around town first?” You pressed your lips together, twiddling with your fingers in front of you.


“Let me guess, you wanna check out that book shop.”


You smiled sheepishly and nodded. “I really want to buy this particular book I saw there. If you could lend me some money I promise I'll pay back.” You brought your hands in front of you and clasped them together, begging for this.


“Alright. Let’s go.” He bounded down the steps and headed towards the shop. You followed closely behind with a wide smile on your face. You felt like a child but you were so excited to make this purchase. Finally, after all this time, you were going to get new content.


Upon entering the shop you immediately marched towards the front desk and asked about the hold. The owner had recognized you and the two of you made small talk. You were starting to secretly enjoy calling Arthur your husband now so you obviously took the chance to tell the store owner when the time came for him to make the purchase. You were nothing but all smiles once you left the store with Arthur at your side. 


“Thank you so much. I promise that I’ll pay you back once we get back to camp.” He nodded in response as you two kept walking though you had no clue where to. “Where are we headed?” 


“Gonna go run a little errand at the saloon and then to the store. Wanna come with or do ya wanna go check out the other places?” He slowed down as he glanced towards you. 


You were curious about this little errand but you also didn’t want to come off as being nosy, you’d seen him reprimanding poor Sean for being overly curious before and that was the last thing you wanted at the moment. “I’ll be at the store waiting for you.”


“Alright. I won’t be too long. You need any money just in case you wanna buy somethin’?” He asked and scratched his stubbled chin.


“Oh no it’s fine. I’ll just be browsing.” You smiled at him and hugged your book against your chest. He simply nodded in response before leaving. 


Your eyes never left his form until he disappeared inside the swinging doors of the saloon. You let out a soft but content sigh and started towards the general store, your thoughts completely consumed by him yet again. 


Arthur’s been nothing but helpful towards you in these past few days. He’s been talking to you properly, even stayed for lunch with you earlier. And then there was the conversation you both shared that afternoon which was absolutely enjoyable. It almost made you feel closer to him in some sense.


Thinking back on it now spawned a few questions. Did this finally mean that the relationship between you two changed? What does all this make you both now? Is he finally seeing you in a different light? Perhaps as a potential friend? You had half a mind to march towards the saloon doors and ask him yourself. 


It didn’t take long before Arthur came through the general shop’s door. You’ve been perusing the blue catalogue book you almost didn’t notice him standing beside you. 


“Oh, that was quick.” You closed the book and waited until he paid for a few boxes of oatcakes along with a box of cigarettes. 


“You sure you don’t want anything?”


“No it’s fine.” You watched as the clerk placed all the items in a brown paper bag and handed it to Arthur. It was then that you noticed he was holding another in his right arm. You waited until you both were out of the shop to ask.


“Just out of curiosity,” you began as you turned towards him. “What’s in that bag?”


Arthur kept walking, a hint of an amused expression plastered on his features. “It’s a surprise.”


“Oh really now?” You raised your brows but didn’t press him any further. He didn’t say anything in response and only hummed softly. You offered to help him with one of the bags and he gave you the one from the store, slipping your new book in it. 


As the two of you walked back towards the direction you came from earlier, you realized this was your chance to ask something you’ve been meaning to ever since leaving the doctor’s office. 


“So I was wondering, if it’d be alright with you of course, if we could stay for just one more night here at the hotel—separate rooms of course! I just… I wanna enjoy sleeping in a bed one last time and I’ve been dying for a nice warm bath. But if you don’t want to then it’s completely fine too.”


He stayed silent for a few moments as he kept walking. You were starting to believe he might say no but then in that moment he agreed.


“Really?” You grinned and rushed to his side. “I’ll pay you back for my room and bath okay. This night will also be good for you! You’ll be able to rest in a proper bed.”


“Yeah that sounds nice, I guess. But where’s the hotel?” 


“On the other side.” You pointed to the row of buildings behind the ones next to you. “The big yellow one with red letters, it’s not hard to miss.” 


He followed you as you headed towards a shortcut through a white fenced garden, its pathway leading to the other side of the town. You observed the surrounding area, taking in the bright flowers dotting the small garden and an apple tree sitting off to the side. The exit contained an arbor with vines snaking around its perimeter and as you passed through it you let your fingers trail against the green tendrils. This town had the most aesthetically pleasing atmosphere you’ve ever seen.


“It’s really beautiful here. Have you ever seen any other town like it?” 


“I wish,” he scoffed. “The other towns I’ve seen are shitholes compared to this one.” That caused you to chuckle.


“There it is.” You pointed as you continued forwards. It was a colonial revival styled yellow building, three stories high with a few well kept vines clinging to it. Although the wooden structure looked a bit weathered it still held its aesthetic with its decorative plants and flowers surrounding it. 


Arthur opened the door for you and you quickly thanked him. You were immediately welcomed by an older man at the front desk as your eyes wandered around the quaint lobby. It was pretty simple but the indoor plants gave a finishing touch to the rustic place.


“Can we get two rooms for the night.” Arthur leaned against the wooden frontdesk, placing his paper bag on top of it.


“I’m so sorry sir but there’s only one room available. We’re in the middle of remodeling you see. I can offer you a half discounted price for the available room if you’d like to take it. Again, I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience. ”


Your face dropped. So much for the anticipation. 


You glanced towards Arthur who was now staring at the polished surface of the desk with pursed lips as he pondered. He wasn’t seriously thinking about getting one room for you both right? You were about to tell him that you two should leave when he finally spoke up.


“We’ll take it.”


Your eyes widened a bit but you stood silent as he paid for the night. After the keys were given to him along with the room number, you waited until you both reached the staircase and lightly touched his arm. “A-are you sure?”


“I’ll sleep at the saloon.” He turned back around and started climbing the stairs. “Just gonna put you in the room first along with the bags.”


“At the saloon?” You frowned at the implication.


“Yeah.” He realized then what that meant and quickly revised what he had said earlier. “I’m just gonna pay for the room, not uhhh what comes along with it.” He scratched the back of his neck as he ascended the stairs. You let out a soft “oh” and followed him. 


“Room 12.” Arthur mumbled and finally stopped in front of the designated door. When he opened it he waited for you to step inside only to find that you were staring off into space. “Hey, you gonna go in or what?” 


You snapped out of it and blinked a couple of times. “Uh, yeah, sorry.” You closed your eyes momentarily with a shake of your head. You passed through the threshold and quickly turned towards Arthur. He handed you the other bag and stepped back, placing his hands on his belt buckle.


“Guess that ain’t gonna be a surprise no more.” 

He nodded towards the paper bag in your hold. You looked down at it with a hint of a smile. “I’ll get going now. You have yourself a goodnight.”


“Wait!” You called before Arthur had a chance to turn around. He tipped his chin upwards a little, raising his brows expectantly. When you didn’t say anything and only kept staring at him, he lowered his head and knitted his brows together. His beautiful bright eyes were still locked onto yours. It made you nervous all of a sudden but you couldn’t let that deter you now.


“The only reason I asked to stay in the hotel was so you could rest in a nice bed. After everything you did for me you deserve it.” You looked at him with such a sincere gaze as you stepped forward, unknowingly making his heart jump to his throat. “You won’t sleep well in the saloon with all that racket. So could you stay? I’ll sleep on the floor—”


“I can’t let you do that now you know that right.” He shifted in his stance as he rubbed at the back of his neck. “It’s best if I just go. I’ll still be sleeping in a bed so don’t worry.”


“Please.” It was almost a whisper. “Don’t leave.” You took another step towards him. “I don’t wanna be left alone in this building either.”


Arthur sighed deeply as his soft eyes flickered towards the side. “I guess…I guess I can stay. But I’ll be leaving the bed for you.” He stepped inside and took the bags from you before placing them on top of a drawer table.


Your eyes followed him but you didn’t budge from your spot. “We’ll see about that,” you murmured.


“What was that?” 




“Okay.” He looked around the room, noting how elegant it appeared though it wasn’t gaudy. It had the same theme as the lobby. Rustic furniture, layered burgundy and ivory white curtains, and a mini chandelier dangling from the middle of the ceiling. The wallpaper matched the burgundy pleated curtains and had silver damask patterns all over it. Arthur hadn’t been in a room this nice since dating Mary. 


“Uh, I’m gonna go get a bath now.”


“Okay. I’m gonna do that too.” You followed him out the door before shutting it gently behind you.


Arthur ordered two baths and as they were being prepped you silently waited in a small side room with him, mulling over a particular matter that left you a bit bothered.


You couldn’t shake off the fact that he had ordered himself a deluxe bath. Ever since that moment there has been something in the pit of your stomach. It wasn’t until now that you realized what it was. 




It was ridiculous but that’s what you felt. The bath girl was only going to be doing her job but you felt jealous that she’ll be able to be close to Arthur and touch him. And what’s more is that he’ll be naked underneath all those bubbles. 


What if the bath girl accidentally gets a sneak peak. Or worse, starts flirting with him. Arthur’s a very attractive man after all. The situation would create a perfect leeway for such a deed. And then one thing could lead to another and… no. Arthur wouldn’t. Would he? 


Then again, who were you to decide on what he should or should not do. He can do whatever he pleases. And if sleeping with some random woman is what he chooses then you had no say or opinion on that matter.


Still, it didn’t make it any less hard to accept that fact. If that were the case then you had no choice. The bitter pill had to be swallowed.


Your thoughts were soon interrupted by a silvery voice coming from the doorway leading into the bathing area. 


“The baths are ready, sir. I’ll be assisting you right away.” She smiled warmly at Arthur and your stomach dropped. She was a very attractive girl. She looked about your age and carried herself confidently, something that you terribly lacked. Her hair was tied in a loose bun and she was wearing a frilly chemise that exposed her cleavage and displayed her well rounded shaped breasts.


You and Arthur followed her through a small hall. She gestured to a door and told you that was your bathing room. You nodded and watched as she opened the door next to yours, stepping aside with a smile and waiting for Arthur to go in first. You held your breath in. He returned the smile and went inside, not glancing once towards you. 


Disappointment, dismay, dejection. All these feelings were swirling inside you like a vortex. You slowly stepped inside the bathing room and closed the door behind you, leaning your back against it afterwards. 


You waited until you heard Arthur’s muffled voice calling the bath girl in after he was done removing his clothes and stepping inside the bath. You moved towards the wall with the intention of pressing your ear against it but decided not to. 


Instead you proceeded to quickly undress and you were soon sinking into the warm water with a suppressed groan.


No matter how much you tried to enjoy the nice bath you just simply couldn’t. Not when Arthur was next door with some random woman. A random attractive one with her perfect breasts to be specific. 


You began to scrub harder on your arm, becoming lost in your thoughts once again. You didn’t realize that you’ve been scrubbing on the same area for a while until you felt a burning sensation. You winced at the raw skin but the pain was immediately forgotten when you heard the bath girl giggling next door. 


You narrowed your eyes and looked towards the wall. Another round of giggles bounced through the wall followed by her telling him how funny he was being. It was barely audible but you had good hearing. 


You didn’t make any further noise and just sat there waiting to hear Arthur. 


It was faint but eventually you picked up on what he was telling the other. The bath girl had asked at some point if you were his wife to which he confirmed. The other commented about how pretty you were and Arthur immediately agreed. Your breathing hitched in your throat. 


You were left wondering if he was just playing along or if he actually thought that about you? You shook your head and sighed softly.


You foolish girl of course he’s just playing along. 


You sat up on your knees, the cool air nipping at your exposed chest and bare back but you didn’t care. You craned your neck and tried to listen some more.


Arthur continued talking about you. “She’s one of the best women I know. Smart and hardworking. She could be feisty when she needs to be and she’s stubborn as hell but it’s her and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. I feel like the luckiest man alive just by having met her alone.”


You slowly sank back down into the bath water, a gentle smile settling across your lips. Somehow it felt like he was talking about the real you and not his pretend wife. In the end it was just something you yearned for to be true. You shouldn’t start getting your hopes high. 


As quickly as you could you finished and dressed up. By the time you were climbing the stairs you heard his footsteps behind you. 


You turned and greeted him with a smile. Your legs almost gave out beneath you when he returned the gesture, a shy little smile that made him appear so adorable. Small talk commenced between the two of you until you were both finally in the room. 


He was getting ready to spread some of the sheets on the floor to sleep on when you stopped him.


“Please, take the bed.” You motioned. He began to protest but you snatched the sheets from his hands. “I won’t take no for an answer.”


“Well I ain’t gonna get on that bed no matter what.”


You breathed through your nose before huffing. “Fine. The bed is big enough for the both of us isn’t it.” You didn't know where the sudden boldness manifested from but you couldn’t take it back now. You were far too stubborn to fold.


He knitted his brows together and turned his head  slightly to the side, eyes flickering towards the bed and back to you. “I don’t—”


“Okay I’m gonna sleep on the floor then.” You began to set up the sheets when you felt him grabbing at them. 


“You’re too damn stubborn, woman.” 


You raised your bows momentarily. “So I’ve been told.” You gestured with your head towards the bed. “Go and get some proper rest. I’m going to read my book for a bit.”


Fine,” he finally caved in. “But only if you don’t actually try and play me and sleep on the floor or on the chair.”


His sudden agreement left you stunned.


“I’ll read on the bed.” You placed the sheets back in the wardrobe before fetching your book and climbing into bed.


Arthur was already sat on the other side, taking his boots off and being in utter disbelief at how you got him to do such a thing. He was putty in your hands and he didn’t even know when it first started. He blew the candle at his side and laid on the edge of the bed with a deep sigh, his back facing you. 


“Goodnight Arthur.” You smiled smugly as you stared at him.


“Goodnight,” he murmured.


And with that you went on to read your book as he fell asleep to the soft sounds of stridulating crickets outside.

Chapter Text

Waking up to the sight of him sleeping soundly next to you was one of the best things to ever occur to you.


You still couldn’t believe he had agreed to this, and even more so that you suggested it in the first place. You didn’t regret it though, not in the slightest bit. On the contrary, you were secretly enjoying it. Maybe a little too much. 


He was currently facing you, his arms tucked underneath the pillow as he laid on his stomach, and although his distance was kept throughout the night he was still close enough to admire.


Your eyes roved over the fine lines and light creases to the few small scars that were etched on his features. It didn’t make him any less attractive, it was still him, but you were still left wondering how those scars got there. 


You had a sudden strong urge then to trace your fingers over them but you were afraid the act would wake him up.


So instead, as carefully and gently as you could, you inched closer to him, stopping when you reached the middle of the bed. Your heart began fluttering as you felt the welcoming warmth of his body emanating from him. 


It made you feel safe. 


The early morning sun rays began filtering through the laced curtains behind you, and you didn’t regret not closing them completely last night. A portion of Arthur’s face was bathed by the golden hues. They heightened his long eyelashes, giving him a soft and angelic appearance. 


A soft smile appeared on your lips then and, absentmindedly, you reached over to brush aside a sandy brown tuft of hair from his forehead with the tips of your two fingers.


He stirred slightly and you immediately retracted your hand and closed yours eyes, pretending to be asleep. After a while you opened your eyes and saw that he was still sleeping soundly. You stared at him in awe and smiled again. 


It didn’t matter if Arthur would never see you more than just one of the gang members, you decided that you were content with just being on good terms with the outlaw. 


That was more than enough for you. 


You heaved a soft sigh as you closed your eyes for a brief moment. The mattress was so comfortable that you didn’t want to get up, but in the end you forced yourself to. 


Upon opening your eyes you saw that Arthur began to shift, accidentally bumping his knee with yours. He groaned slightly but didn’t wake up to your surprise. Your breath caught in your throat and the next thing that happened had you frozen in place.


He had mumbled your name in his sleep. It was gentle and barely audible but you heard it right. You kept your eyes fixed on him as your heartbeat quickened and watched him shift a little more.


He called your name one more time, almost as if pleading before staying quiet once again. Was he dreaming of you? He began to snore softly and as you kept watching him his nose began twitching ever so slightly. You felt your insides melting. 


You were left wondering how on earth this man was so deadly and brusque and yet so adorable and gentle at the same time.


After a short while you finally decided to get ready for the day. You silently stalked towards the vanity dresser and began to fix your hair in a bun. You didn’t have a brush so you had to use your fingers to untangle some of the stubborn strands, humming softly in the process. You didn’t notice when Arthur began to stir as he was finally waking up.


The first thing he noticed was that you had disappeared, but your soft and melodious humming drew his attention towards you. He silently watched as your fingers worked through your hair with such ease and delicacy. 


Somehow, and despite the fact that you’ve been running with outlaws for some time now, your movements had always been graceful, even when doing chores around camp. You did, after all, come from a wealthy background (from what he’s heard) and he ascribed it to that.


He tried to look away so that he could get out of bed but discovered that he just couldn’t tear his eyes away from you. It wasn’t until you were done that he pretended he was just waking up. 


You smiled at him as he stretched and yawned. “Good morning. You sleep okay?”


“Better than okay,” he replied in a husky voice and proceeded to rub at his eyes with his curled index fingers.


You weren’t gonna lie, you found his morning voice incredibly sexy—aside from everything about him of course. The list can go on and on and on.


“Good.” You stood there in your spot, hands playing with the sides of your skirts as you watched Arthur pulling his boots back on. “We should head back to camp. I’m sure Dutch is gonna need you.”


He sighed and stood up, taking his hat from the side table. “More than likely. He’ll be expectin’ us back by today. If we hurry we’ll be there in time for Pearson’s lovely breakfast.”


You grimaced a little and Arthur chuckled before grabbing the rest of his stuff. “Alright then let’s go.”

It was comfortably silent throughout the whole ride back. You didn’t have much to say either way and you preferred watching the view instead (both the landscape and Arthur’s backside).


“I’m sorry,” you murmured as soon as Boadicea galloped to a stop at the hitching posts. 


Arthur furrowed his brows as he twisted around to look at you. “For what?”


You lowered your gaze to the ground. “For taking away your time and—”


Mary-Beth’s shouting suddenly ripped through the air as she called out your name. You spotted her rushing towards you with Tilly and Karen following closely behind.


“Hey girls!” You beamed as they helped you down. 


“We were so worried about you!” Mary Beth announced.


“I’m okay now.” You smiled and the three of them began fussing over you.


 Arthur stayed seated on Boadicea, spectating the whole thing with a slight smile. Miss Grimshaw and Abigail were now approaching you, gentle smiles plastered on their faces. 


When you finally looked over at Arthur he was already heading towards Dutch’s tent but not before glancing over his shoulder one last time. Your eyes met his and for a split moment you swore you felt a single spark in the air before he disappeared behind the canvas flaps. 


You couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed now that your time with Arthur was over.

A whole week had gone by since your return. You’ve never felt better and things felt like they were going smoother. 


Arthur and you continued acting civilized towards one another. You exchanged a few words here and there but it never went anywhere below surface level. He was difficult to get close to, especially when he was always running errands and being out of camp. 


Today was the day that he had returned after being gone for almost two days. You couldn’t deny that you were a little too excited to see him back, but you were quick to push away any other thoughts about him. 


He was just one of the boys at camp and nothing, and never could be, more.


His timing was perfect as Pearson had finished preparing the breakfast stew. You began to internally grouse over eating stew again but you quickly dismissed those thoughts. It was instead replaced by the constant reminder to be grateful that you at least have food provided to you along with a place to live. It may not be the best or appropriate living style but you’re surviving, and whatmore with these people who are your family now.


You looked around and smiled as the others began eating and chatting amongst themselves. Hopefully one day Dutch’s promise of a safe haven gets fulfilled. But for now this would have to do. 


As you listened and occasionally added to the conversation with the girls, you were quick to notice Arthur’s silence. Usually he’d chat up with some of the boys and have a few laughs here and there but he was sitting at the far edge of the campfire, almost as if to avoid everyone but trying to keep it subtle.


After a brief moment you decided to sit next to him. He shifted in his seat as soon as you got close and you could have sworn you saw him inching away from you as you settled next to him. Times like these had you wishing you could see into this man’s mind, he was hard to comprehend sometimes.


“You’re awfully quiet,” you murmured before taking a spoonful of stew. “You miss having breakfast in town?”


He half scoffed and half chuckled as he shook his head. “Food is food. Can’t have the luxury of complaining unless it’s offal.”


Your features twisted in disgust. “True.”


“You’re agreeing with me an awful lot lately,” he remarked in a teasing tone.


You rolled your eyes playfully. “Right. I’m suppose to be disagreeing with you on many things.” You smiled lightly before shoveling some stew into your mouth. 


Arthur smiled a little but it soon faded as he looked down at his plate, swirling his spoon in it but not eating the contents. The moment was soon interrupted when you heard Dutch calling him.


“Well that’s my cue.” He sighed heavily as he stood up, giving you a curt wave over his shoulder as he headed towards the canvas tent. 


You watched as he disappeared inside, not realizing that Mary-Beth was at your side calling your name. You blinked a couple of times and looked up at her. “You two finally getting along?”


“It seems like it.” You shrugged, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible. 


“That’s nice to hear. He really ain’t that bad you know.” You nodded, knowing exactly what she meant. “He’s just a little rough around the edges but he’s really caring. Especially towards us girls.” 


“I know. I’ve seen him.”


“You been watchin’ him?” She smirked.


“What? No, no. I just happened to come across that on a few occasions. It’s not like I can’t see him you know.”


Mary-Beth giggled. “I’m just messin’ with you.” She briefly glanced towards the boys and lowered her voice. “Bet you’re glad to be seeing Javier everyday now aren’t you?” She smirked.


You groaned internally. You had completely forgotten about that bit. “Yeah definitely,” you agreed with a smile as you glanced over at him.


“When are you going to tell him?” 


You almost choked on your own saliva. “Are you crazy. I’m ain’t telling him ever. It’s just a small, tiny crush. It’ll go away soon. It’s happened before.”


The redhead giggled some more before shrugging and standing up. “Alright then. You wanna go for a walk? It’s a really beautiful day out.”


You nodded and you both walked side by side towards Pearson’s wagon to place your dirty dishes into the metal bin. When you started to follow Mary-Beth away from the camp grounds you spotted Arthur as he stepped out of Dutch’s tent. He appeared haggard and irritated. 


“C’mon this way.” Mary-Beth instructed and you were forced to look away. You were curious about what Dutch had told Arthur that left him in such a state.


“Hold on. I’ll be right back okay?” You didn’t wait for her response as you were already heading towards Arthur. “What’d Dutch tell you?”


He groaned out loud, and you weren’t sure if it was because you mentioned Dutch or if it was because of you. Heck, maybe even both. 


“Some kidnapping ransom job,” he sighed as he tried to sound calm but some of his irritability still seeped through his words.


“Oh…” You didn’t know what else to say so you blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “If you guys need help—”


“No. Dutch and I are the only ones going, we don’t need another tagging along.”


Your face immediately dropped but you managed to nod in response. Before you had a chance to say anything else you heard Dutch behind you calling your name. 


You immediately felt a hand resting over your shoulder. “Did I hear correctly or were you offering your help for this kidnapping job.”


“Oh, well I was, but Arthur here says it’s not necessary.” You briefly glanced at him, noting the way his brows lowered.


“You know, maybe you could be of some help. It’d be easier come to think of it.” His eyes sparkled with anticipation.


Arthur groaned lightly as he shifted his weight onto his other foot. “Could it be anything else but a ransom? You know how much I hate kidnapping, especially if the target’s a woman.”


“A woman?” You questioned as Dutch threw Arthur a look as he retracted his hand from your shoulder. “Her family’s rich then?”


Dutch smiled with a nod. “Very. Her names Elizabeth Shaw. She’s around your age. All you gotta do is dress the part. There’s going to be a garden party, three towns over. It’s up to you how you wanna lure her in, you’re a good actress from what I’ve seen and I think it’s a waste if you’re not putting those skills to work.”


“Oh, well, if you say so.” You smiled lightly for a moment before a frown began pulling at your lips. “But I don’t have anything to wear.” 


“Miss O’Shea will help you with that. You just worry about the task.”


An exasperated sigh cut through the air and your eyes flickered towards the source. Arthur folded his arms across his chest, clearly annoyed by the whole plan. “If we’re really doin’ this then why not just bring Karen instead? She’s more experience with these kinds of things.”


It was like a switch was flipped on in you then, or rather Arthur had flipped it on himself. 


You furrowed your brows, unable to help but feel utterly annoyed by his attitude. You understood that he simply didn’t like the idea of kidnapping but he didn’t have to act like you were unwanted in all this. What’s more is that he probably thought you were incapable of such a task. Yes, your last one had turned into a literal nightmare but you came out of it unscathed and even managed to take ahold of the money. His expression and declaration had simply rubbed you the wrong way and all you could do now was fire back. 


“Why? Because you’re scared I might mess this up like the last job I went on?” You spat. “Well this is different. I ain’t gonna kill anyone if that’s your concern.” You emitted a quivering sigh as you looked away, balling the sides of your skirt with your fists. 


You were still trying to come to terms with what happened on that particular day, and though it was less severe now you still felt terrible for what you’ve done.


Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose as he placed a hand on his hip, closing his eyes momentarily before taking a deep breath. Maybe he should have carefully phrased his earlier words. He didn’t mean to come off rude but it was probably too late now. Him and his stupid big mouth had to go and ruin everything, as per usual.


He watched you as your blazing eyes bored into his own. You looked about as wild as a cougar, ready to pounce on its prey at any given moment. 


“It ain’t because of that.” He attempted with pleading eyes. “I just feel like maybe you’re not ready for another job just yet, and you were sick just a week ago. It’s just best you stay behind for this one.”


“Best? What do you know about best?” You challenged.


“Quit making things harder than they should be, woman.” Arthur warned as he narrowed his eyes.


Your hands settled onto your hips, lips becoming taut and brows lowering further. You were about to give him a piece of your mind when you felt Dutch’s hand clasping on your shoulder once more. 


“Son, that is not up for you to decide. She clearly wants to do this job, otherwise she would have told me herself if she didn’t.” He looked at you as you kept your eyes trained on Arthur, lips pressed firmly together as you nodded.


All Arthur could do now was heave a defeated sigh as he threw his hands midair. “Fine. Do whatever you both want. I ain’t going anymore.”


You raised your brows, blinking a couple of times at the sudden announcement. So far, and from what you’ve heard, he’s always done what he was told to do. Why then was he acting like this? Did it truly bother him that much that you were going after all? There was a sudden clenching feeling around your chest and all you wanted to do was turn and leave but somehow you stayed put. 


“Arthur,” Dutch’s voice lowered. “We agreed to go together didn’t we? You can’t just abandon this job, abandon me .”


“I ain’t abandonin’ nothing. I just don’t like kidnapping. You know this. I can do any other thing besides that. I don’t see why you can’t have someone else go with ya instead.” His shoulders dropped as he placed both hands on his hips.


You swallowed and glanced over at Dutch with a deep frown. “We could take Bill or Javier.” 


Dutch shook his head as he turned to you briefly, determination in his eyes. “You can go now. I’ll have a few words with him in private.” 


You nodded and scurried out of there, relieved that you were away from that situation. 


When you went back to Mary-Beth she immediately jumped to the subject of your little encounter with Arthur and Dutch. You told her everything, including the part where you were hurt that Arthur didn’t want you in on the job.


“I don’t know what his problem is with me. One day he’s okay with me and then the next he’s…” You trailed off as you shook your head.


“I’m sorry about that,” Mary-Beth frowned. 


You continued walking side by side towards the small creek, the sound of gushing water increasing with every passing moment. 


A rueful smile appeared on your lips as you shrugged. “He just doesn’t like me. He’s trying to act all civil now but he can’t fool me. My best bet is to just not talk to him—unless it’s really necessary. But even then I’ll try to minimize our interactions.” 


Mary-Beth frowned. “I wish there was something that could be done. I hate seeing you both this way.”


Your eyes flickered towards her before smiling slightly. “It’s okay. That’s just how life is sometimes. You run into people who just don’t like you and you can’t force them to either. Hopefully all of this is over soon. Dutch says he has a plan.” 


There was still a frown on Mary-Beth’s face so you linked your arms through hers, offering her a sincere warm smile. She returned the gesture and nodded before speaking up again. 


“We could live close to one another once we’re done running, maybe even together. Oh and we could find each other suitable husbands too.” 


A small chortle escaped from you as you nodded. “Sure. And by then you’d be a famous author with your romance novels.


“That would be a dream!” She grinned.


The both of you continued chatting away about the future, laughing and strolling along the water bank.