Summary: A short story fic revolving around how Dutch van der Linde, Hosea Matthews, and Arthur Morgan met and took in a young orphan John Marston, further developing what would eventually become the Van der Linde gang. Rated T for language, some violence, drinking/drugs and mischief. It will mostly be Frienship/Family and Humor, but there will be Action/Adventure with some violence!
Disclaimer: I do not own the Red Dead Redemption franchise, Rockstar, or its characters, etc. This is just for fun.
"I did no such thing."
Hosea's tone was playful as he rubbed a hand through his light-blond hair before placing a hat upon his head. Dutch made a sound nearby, a mix between a chuckle and a snort as he spurred his horse to canter alongside them.
"Oh, dear brother, don't play sly with me. Even Arthur can see straight through your façade. That much is painfully clear."
"His what?" Arthur drawled, shaking his head, already impatient. "Are we lost or not?"
"I may have slightly got us off course."
"Hosea, you said it was due southeast of the camp."
"Southeast?" Arthur grunted, glaring at Dutch. "Bessie said southwest."
"Did she?" Hosea asked, glancing over his shoulder at the path behind them. "Huh, that explains a lot."
They halted their horses on the road, Arthur voicing his displeasure with a groan. Dutch wheezed a laugh beside him. A gust of wind brushed by, plains surrounding them. The same, dull prairie had been their only scenery for the couple hour ride they've done.
"My friend the master con artist, horrible with directions."
Hosea waved them off. "I haven't been down this way in ten goddamn years. What do you expect? And every blade of grass looks the same."
"Next time maybe you should stay behind, old man, an' we can bring Bessie instead," Arthur said.
"Very funny, my boy."
"Now come on, son, where is the fun in that? We couldn't get into quite as much trouble with 'ol Bessie and Susan around."
"That's the point!" Arthur looked around. "Can we move? I feel exposed here."
"We're exposed everywhere," Dutch replied. "What, you missing Chicago?"
"We got company," Hosea announced.
A wagon pulled by two draft horses met them on the road, coming from behind them. The wagon was full of produce, skins, and other materials. Two men rode in the front while two sat in the back, and all four were armed. Arthur was quick to notice the men's suspicious glares as they rode up on them.
Dutch cleared his throat. "Let me handle this." And directed his horse over to the wagon. The men got their repeaters ready, but Arthur knew Dutch's charm would pacify them easily.
"Hello, gentlemen! My dear friend, his nephew, and I are sight seeing 'round these parts. Decided to get away from Chicago for a bit, and got a little lost. They're as stubborn as mules asking for directions. We're trying to find the town of Andell, could you so kindly point us in the right direction?"
"Andell?" the older man echoed, eyebrows furrowing. He scratched at his full beard. "That's across the river. You a ways off, pal. Ya'll have to head back yonder to Canker Point and take the trail to the river and find the 'ol run down station before headin' west into Andell."
Dutch smiled, a hand to his chest as he dipped his head. "Thank you, friend. You may have saved our necks."
"Not sure why ya boys would wanna go to Andell though," the older man continued. "Fire took out most of it 'bout a year ago or so. It's not near as populated as it was."
Arthur sighed. Well, there went their chance at poking around for jobs. The young man slouched atop his horse, but Hosea didn't break his "hello, I'm a polite gentleman and harmless" expression. Dutch didn't show any falter to the news.
"Is that right? That's quite a shame. I was hoping to surprise an 'ol friend down this way. He's from Chicago too. Had ambitions to start up a livery stable in these parts, if I remember correctly."
One of the younger men in the back of the wagon perked up. He looked to be in his early twenties just like Arthur, only wasn't near as large and sturdy as he was. "Oh, we know that feller. You talkin' 'bout a Mister Galligan right?"
A sly smirk eased on Dutch's face. "Why yes, that's him. I hope he is well?"
"He moved over to the town of Hickory, which is where we're headin'."
Dutch glanced back at his older partner-in-crime, their subtle exchange something only the two of them understood. Dutch turned back to the travelers.
"Why, you fellas are our saving grace today. May we join you on your ride to Hickory?"
The older wagon driver glanced at his passengers then back to Dutch. "Sure. We don't want no trouble though."
Dutch eased their new traveling companions with a gentle laugh, motioning to himself. "You'll get no such thing from us. Well, except for my brooding friend right there, he's a little grumpy at times."
Arthur gave Dutch a look. He and Hosea trotted alongside the wagon with Dutch as it followed the road to Hickory. Arthur stayed quiet, letting Dutch and Hosea sweet-talk the wagon riders and only talking when spoken to. It wasn't long before Hosea was drawing them in with some humorous story about a faulty fishing trip while portraying one of his many personas.
The wagon riders laughed and after that they were a lot more open and talkative, which is exactly what Dutch and Hosea wanted. Arthur heard the exchange of names, the aliases that his mentors chose this time around. The wagon driver, Hester, and his son, and the other two men were ranch hands for a wealthy homesteader family within the area. They explained how the Warrens were strict and hard to work for, how they used their prosperity to take over the town of Hickory.
Their complaints and frankness drove Dutch and Hosea to exchange knowing smirks with each other. Arthur knew them well enough to know that an idea was hatching. He swore it was like the two men could read each other's thoughts at times. He didn't quite understand it.
After traveling together on the road for an hour, the town of Hickory came into view. It was a bit smaller than what they were used to in scouting for jobs, but it would do. It was average, nothing quite unique stood out to Arthur, and he noticed the typical stores, homes, and dirt roads. The small town seemed to be quite populated, however. Men, women, and children walked the streets, some hollered out to others. Horseback riders and those on wagons kept the roads busy with traffic.
"Now this is quite a town you have here, Mister Foll," Hosea said. "Ya know, I think I've been here years before, and well, seems to have grown considerably."
"I'm sure it ain't nothin' like what you boys are used to in Chicago, but it's an alright town. The Warrens are to thank for its growth, but since they've taken over most stores and businesses, prices have gone up and, well, there're far more poor folk than there should be."
"Such a shame," Dutch said, dark eyes already scanning for opportunities.
"Anyways, this is where we go our separate ways, we gotta get these supplies to Mister Warren. You fellas be careful. Hickory has a thievin' problem. Ya'll find your friend Mister Galligan on the far side of town at the stables."
Hosea and Dutch waved them off as the wagon turned down a different road. Dutch turned his horse to face Hosea and Arthur as they looked over the town before them. The town was surrounded by more plains, a forest not far to the west. Besides the stores and houses, there were also livestock barns and pens. It looked to be mostly sheep and pigs here.
"Smell that gentlemen?"
"Yeah, smells like shit," Arthur grumbled.
"No, opportunities, Arthur. Did you not pay attention?" Dutch said, shaking his head.
"Aw c'mon, Dutch. There ain't nothin' here. I betchu that Mister Galligan lost all that money. Why else would he leave the city? He gon' have worse men than us after him."
Hosea chuckled. "He left because he has the money, you sulky buffoon. You still upset about what happened?"
"It weren't my fault."
"We never said it was, son."
"Eh, it wasn't that big of a loss anyway. We've been doing this for eight years, Arthur. Some jobs just don't pan out. Best to get over it," Hosea explained.
"Let's hit the saloon. I'm parched. We can discuss some ideas there, get a feel of the town," Dutch ordered, spurring his horse into a trot.
"Okay, Dutch," Hosea answered.
Arthur rode behind his mentors. They hitched their horses outside the small saloon. Inside, several folks drank and laughed away. The voices bounced through the walls, and Arthur scanned the room, the faces, the behaviors. It looked like there would be no trouble.
Dutch got them some drinks and they talked to the side, watching the townsfolk drink and chatter away.
Dutch and Hosea stood out amongst most of the people. They always wore nicer clothes, Dutch especially. Dutch had grown a mustache in the past couple years and kept it trimmed and neat, but Hosea remained clean-shaven as always. Despite Hosea being nearly twelve years older than Dutch, his eyes shown with the same youth, the same passion and ambition.
Arthur himself had grown considerably since they found him eight years ago. No longer a lanky, dirty teenager, he bulked up some and now had some scruff on his face. He wasn't as rowdy or impolite as he was when they first found him, the typical orphan delinquent. Although, he kept Dutch and Hosea on their toes with his sarcastic, often cynical nature.
His clothes weren't near as kept and clean as his mentors', but he often had the dirtier jobs. He finally could wear his father's hat without it swallowing his head. He may have not have liked his blood father too much, but he sure as hell liked his hat.
"Seems like good people here," Dutch said finally. "I'm quite interested about these Warrens our talkative friends spoke of."
"They didn't shut up once you charmed them," Hosea joked. "I'm curious though."
"You thinking what I'm thinking?"
Hosea grinned and Arthur rolled his eyes. "I thought we was here for Mister Galligan, not these Warren folks?"
Dutch patted him on the back. "If you'd paid attention on our humble ride into town, you would've heard the plight of our friends. The Warrens sound like your typical wealthy overlords of the region. Can you imagine what we could take from them?"
Hosea took a shot, letting the bartender give him another. "I'll look into the Warrens, see what I can find. Dutch, you've been wanting a crack at Mister Galligan for three weeks. Maybe you should go check that out?"
Dutch took his own shot, puffing from its bitterness. "Sure. I mean, if you're confident you can handle some hillbilly homesteaders who think they run this place?"
"You offend me, sir," Hosea mocked.
Dutch laughed. "Well, Arthur. How about you survey the town? See what else there is that we can take advantage of?"
"Sure, Dutch." Arthur raised his glass and gulped it down, hissing at the burn. "Jus' don't leave me here. I'd love to see Miss Grimshaw and Misses Matthews tan both yer hides once this is over."
Dutch lit a cigar as they headed out of the saloon. "Knowing them, they're getting into their own trouble."
Arthur laughed. "No doubt!"
Dutch bowed once they were outside. "I bid you adieu, my dear brothers. See you soon."
"Hey, make sure ya drag 'em behind a horse when you're through with 'em!" Arthur hollered.
"Shh," Hosea hissed, a hand going to the younger man's shoulder. "Don't give him any ideas."
"He's the one with the ideas, I'm jus' sayin'! That fool ruined our last job outside Chicago. Nearly broke my goddamn neck."
"We aren't here for revenge. We don't do that. We're here for his money, that's all. The job just didn't go as planned, Arthur. We're outta here once it's done, alright?"
Hosea was always able to settle him with his calm words and caring, wise eyes. "Yeah, sure."
Hosea smiled, patting Arthur's arm. "Alright. Well, get out there, boy, and see what you can find. We'll meet back here later."
Hosea went his own way in town. Arthur heaved a sigh, looking about. Time to get to work, he guessed. Straightening his hat, he stepped away from the saloon over to his horse.
"You be good, fella," Arthur said, patting the bay gelding's neck.
The next few hours, Arthur spent his time going into businesses and stores, getting the feel of the people and the town of Hickory. He eavesdropped on any interesting conversations his ears picked up. Apparently, the Warrens had a livestock auction every Thursday. It was something they could look into.
Later, he overheard the Warrens had some kind of cellar behind one of their barns that they always kept locked up and guarded. This piqued Arthur's interest, and he was excited to tell Dutch and Hosea about it.
While he waited for his father figures to return to him, he leaned on a hitch near their horses smoking a cigarette. He nodded and waved at passersby, just to keep up a friendly appearance. The town of Hickory must've had strangers coming and going a lot, because the townsfolk barely paid him any mind. Arthur liked that.
Arthur turned around, only to see the body of a young boy flying through the air. The boy crashed into him, throwing Arthur onto his back, the wind knocked out of him from the kid's legs slamming his gut.
"Oof! What the hell?!" He coughed.
The boy had dark hair, and laughed as he cut his satchel strap, taking it and the hat atop Arthur's head before dashing off. Arthur scrambled to his feet, anger coming over him as he realized he had just been robbed by a damn kid.
"Get back here, you little shit!"
He chased after the boy as he took an alleyway between two stores. He looked to be around eleven or twelve, although Arthur could tell he was scrawny for his age. His hair fell past his chin in greasy dark locks, and his clothes were tattered and dirty.
For being small and thin, the kid could run fast and was nimble, ducking and swerving out of Arthur's grasp each time he went to snatch him. He knew the town well, weaving through people and farm equipment. Arthur barreled his way through folks, keeping the boy in his sights.
The boy climbed up and ran along a fence top before jumping into a pig pen and cutting away. Arthur heaved himself over, kicking and yelling at pigs to get through.
"I'm gonna wring yer neck! Com'ere, boy!"
"Catch me if ya can, ya big oaf!" He had a distinct, raspy voice.
The kid ducked under another wood fence. Arthur vaulted over it seconds later. He kept at the boy's heels, but the slippery little heathen would only veer away, using obstacles and people to stop Arthur. He jumped and grabbed onto a moving wagon as Arthur came back out into the street. Arthur ran after him on foot, the boy laughing.
"Nah nah, ya can't catch me. Why don'tchu give up?"
"Stop that wagon, mister! Ya got a little monster on the back of it!"
The wagon driver turned around at the holler, pulling on the reins to stop the horses. The boy ditched the wagon and darted for another building, Arthur cut him off. He blocked the boy's path, keeping his body as a barrier as he tried to get around him. The boy dove through his legs and got up and scampered off once more.
"Stop, ya little thief!"
As he came around the corner, huffing, the boy was finally caught. Like a little wild animal, he fought Hosea's hold. Hosea tried to calm the boy down. Arthur, jaw clenched, came over and snatched his satchel back. But just as he was about to grab his hat, the boy kicked Hosea in the groin. Hosea yelped, letting the boy go and he escaped.
"Ugh, so much for a polite introduction," Hosea groaned, holding himself.
Arthur, still annoyed, couldn't help but to laugh at the sight. "He got ya too, huh? Little shit was as slippery as the devil." Then Arthur realized the small thief still had his hat. "He got my goddam hat!"
Hosea grabbed him as he started after the boy once more. "Forget it, Arthur. We'll find him. Don't worry."
The boy was probably long gone anyway.
Dutch arrived shortly after. He took in their disheveled appearance, the pained scowl on Hosea's face as he gripped his crotch and Arthur's huffing breaths as he dusted himself off, mumbling a whole range of curses. Arthur reached into his satchel to make sure his journal was still intact. He was relieved to see it was.
Dutch raised his eyebrows. "What the hell did I miss?"
"You don't want to know," Hosea said, finally standing up straight.
"Got robbed by a goddam kid."
Dutch chuckled, earning him a glare from Arthur. "You mean a little bumpkin got the best of you, Arthur? My boy, come now!"
"Not funny, Dutch. He still has my damn hat. And well, damaged Hosea's tallywags."
Hosea wheezed. "I'm fine."
"Come on, we should head back to camp. Got some planning to do," Dutch said.
"But my hat!"
"We'll get it back, Arthur. We're gonna stick around a few days. We will see that brat again, no doubt," Hosea assured.
Arthur groaned. "Fine."
"I leave you both for a few hours and a child wreaks havoc on both your prides. What ever am I going to do with you two?"
"Easy for you to say. You didn't get kicked where it counts," Hosea huffed.
"Low blow, huh Hosea?"
"Hah, you're funny, dear friend."
Dutch feigned innocence, motioning to himself. "It's not my fault you two provide me opportunities for such jokes."
"If I don't get my hat back, I'm siccing Miss Grimshaw on that little heathen."
Hosea chortled. "Dear god, Arthur. The boy doesn't deserve that much torture."
The three of them laughed.
A/N: The tags in this game section are really messed up, I need to message about this. Hosea Matthews, not Trelawny lololol. Anyway! Here's the first chapter. This is going to be a short story, around 5 chapters! Red Dead Redemption 2 has to be one of the best games I have ever played, I love it even more than the first one! I just love all the characters! I have so many fics I want to write for it now, but this is the one I wanted to do first. So I hope you all enjoy! :D