The last thing Authur could remember was the sunset over the Ambrino mountains. Drawing haggard painful breaths, the darkness was cold and comforting. Dutch had betrayed the gang, but John made it out. No one made off with the riches. The life of living wanted on the road was over. The nightmares of the Black Water shoot out had claimed the lives of many, so it was fitting Arthur could make life better for someone as repentance. The moment he was waiting for, was either the eternal darkness to claim him, or heaven's light to accept him. Yet he was greeted by the desperate nag of a donkey honking. A squeal that lasted thirty seconds of heartbreaking pain. A sharp breath constrained by the terrible pain of something lodged in his throat. He could not speak yet, he could breathe. The room was dark, so dark even with his eyes open he could not see his own hand in front of his face as he moved about. Was he alive?
"Shhh! You silly thing, people are trying to sleep." A woman spoke, and Authur was stunned to hear that song's full voice again. The donkey wailed for longer, as Authur grabbed the foreign device locking his jaw open. He was not breathing on his own, whatever it was. The gentle sound of pulsing was in rhythm with his breaths, and the pain reminded him he was alive. Arthur tried to sit up, yet he could feel his chest was strapped down to the bed, as he began to panic and weakly grunt in agony.
"Oh my god! He's alive." The woman shouted as she ran up the steps outside the porch door which swung open. The cool air of a desert night blowing in.
"Arthur?" She approached the bed, yet Arthur could not see until the crack of a match illuminated her face. It was Roslyn, some time had passed, and she wore simpler clothes of a western rancher than he remembered. As she lit the lantern, the room came into view where the pulsating machine was whirring at the door of the bed. It freaked Arthur out since tubing attached to him led to the machine.
"Whoa whoa, easy cowboy. You're in a delicate state. You were in a coma. You're safe. The only thing trying to kill you now is this nasty disease you picked up." Roslyn said and sat on the bed next to him. Taking his hands which were weakly scratching at the medical mask helped him breathe.
"You've been given medicine, I've been administering it to you for about two weeks now. They're very expensive and revolutionary might I add, but lucky for you. You got an angel following you." Roslyn smiled and held his hands down. Arthur was barely able to resist as he stared wide-eyed and confused. Moaning in pain which brought tears to her eyes.
"Don't look at me like that. Izzy found you dying on a mountain and brought you home. She had every right to leave you for dead, yet she didn't. You chose Dutch and what Dutch does best is Murder, and for what? Freedom? Gold… death on the road to the American dream" Roslyn asked, speaking quickly, but Arthur tugged her finger at the mention of Isabela. She stopped and took a slow breath. Taking a second to adjust the sheets tucking Arthur in to cover his bare bandaged and compressed chest.
"I'm sorry, it's been so long. I bet you're wondering how I'm even alive…" Roslyn said as the Donkey wailed at the porch door. The screen already broke as the creature stuck his hoof in trying to break through the door. Arthur looked over and saw the adorable face of Duke pressed up against the screen. Panting and whining as usual trying to get to Arthur even if it meant taking the hinges with him.
"He's missed you so much… I missed you too if you would believe it. Not that I expect you to forgive me, after what happened in Blackwater. Dr Derulo sends his regards. He'll be by at the end of the week to check on you. Said there was a high chance you were going to die given the advanced state of Tuberculosis. He was afraid it was too late for the Antibiotics to work." Roslyn kept talking, and Arthur pulled his hands away and tried to take the binding off his chest.
"Please don't do that, all this is keeping you alive. I know technology can be scary… but we're in New York now. It's not that hard to come by if you have the right connections." Rosalyn fussed over Arthur as he tried to take in everything that was happening.
"Come on Duke, come to say hi." Roslyn went to the door and opened it, letting the riled animal inside as he hoofed clumsily across the room to Arthur's side. Gnawing at Arthur's long golden hair trying to raise him from the bed.
"Bad boy, stop that. Be nice and give the man some kisses." Roslyn said as The Duke danced on his hooves being reunited with Arthur after a few years.
"Hrnnmmf" Arthur tried to speak, choking on the tube in his mouth. Anger burned in his eyes looking at the woman who betrayed him so long ago. Yet The Duke flopped his muzzle in his chest and licked his chin. Coming in to cuddle made him take a deep breath with the machine. It was painful, yet the air in his lungs was clearing his mind. So Arthur laid back despite the rage and held the stubborn mule's head close. Roslyn got off the bed and held The Duke's reins to keep him from climbing on the bed.
"Okay easy there, I know how much you missed him." Roslyn patted him on the rear as the door opened once again. The clang of metal spurs on cracked wood was alarming as a smoking figure was masked in the shadows.
"How's the patient?" A hoarse voice asked followed by an aggressive cough.
"Put that out! Right now!" Rosalyn let go of the Duke and grabbed the smoking stranger and dragged them out by the ear.
"Hey! Fuck you!" They shouted and dropped the joint on the floor and stepped in it. Roslyn lets go and smack them a few times.
"How! Many! Times! Do I! Have to tell you! How dangerous that shit is! God!" Roslyn huffed and stormed back to the Duke and grabbed his rope once again. The Mule honked in disapproval being pulled away and dragged out of the room. Roslyn took him through the open door held open by the scolded smoker. After letting it go to swing back on hinges on a spring which all was freaking Arthur out. Everything in the room was different. The way the walls were made of brick then wood made it feel colder in the room. As they came into the light, Izzy's face was peppered with scars and a blinded left eye.
"Howdy, you're alive. Here, let me get that for you." Izzy pointed at the machine and walked away to wash their hands in the sink on the wall.
Arthur looked confused as she rolled up her sleeves and approached the bed with a small smirk on their face.
"This might hurt a bit, but it won't kill ya." Izzy winked with her bad eye and unwrapped the bandages from around his face keeping the tube in place. Arthur was nervous, the devil in red clearly in a position of power over him. Yet he had no choice but to submit as she ripped the tube from his throat. Ever so quickly like she had done it a thousand times. Arthur coughed violently but was able to catch his breath after yet not as easily as with the machine.
"Here ya go, got some water for you." Izzy held a metal cup to him, but Arthur slapped it away.
"Get away from m…" Arthur was able to say before he started coughing again.
"You made a mess. Now I'm wet. Thanks. I just saved your life, but whatever ass!" Izzy said and got up to get another cup of water. Arthur is still coughing and breathing through the raspy fog.
"Should have left me…. For dead." Arthur huffed in pain as Izzy returned with the cup. Which he stared at desperate for it, yet stubborn to take it.
"Not that simple Mr Morgan." Izzy shook the cup, and Arthur sat up to take it. Every bit of movement hurt. Trying to stay seated was agony, and Izzy moved around the bed to lurch it forward by adjusting a crank. Arthur rested at a forty-five-degree angle and was comfortable enough to drink.
"Where am I?" Arthur asked and wondered at the medical suite still impossible to see.
"The Bushman estate, this is the gazebo at the waterfront of the property. Mr Bushman, the lovely Rosalyn's father, had this built for the Lady. She died in this bed." Izzy smirked and sat on the bed with him. The lush red velvet sheets are luxurious yet stained. There were too many more questions, yet it was still so hard to breathe.
"How… am I alive," Arthur asked, having such vivid memories of the last moments on the cliffside where he last fought with Micha.
"Luck. I found you first so…" Izzy tried to answer as Roslyn came back inside.
"Isabela!" Rosalyn was stunned. "Dr Derulo said he would die without oxygen!" She nearly squealed. The frightful worry in her voice made Arthur stare in disbelief. She ran to the cupboard and pulled out a massive metal tank on wheels. She huffed and dragged it over to the bedside while Izzy just sat there without a bother to help.
"He's fine, just stupid… ain't that right cowboy." Izzy slapped Arthur's foot and got up once again. Arthur watched as Roslyn unwrapped a mask on another tube. the set up similar to what Izzy had finished ripping out of him. She climbed into the bed close to him. The frill of her skirts draped over his lap and bare stomach as she held the mask to his face.
"Breath in, one. two." Roslyn instructed softly as Arthur trusted her to follow her words. The air in the mask was crisp, and cut through the fog and cleared his head. The first breath was so good, that he grabbed her hand and held the mask closer as he took another breath. Roslyn rubbed his back gently as an excuse to hold him. Too weak to complain, Arthur leaned into her confused about how to feel at this moment. Izzy is still in the room standing at the window staring out at the rising sun breaking the skyline.
"Arthur Morgan, I didn't save you for Rosalyn…" the bounty hunter said and turned back and through her blinded eye narrowed her fury at him.
"The Pinkertons already explained how Dutch went awol. They think Arthur's dead he's not going back." Rosalyn ran her hand down the back of Arthur's hair combing out a few tangles as he just sat and listened...
"I don't care about Dutch, I got bigger fish to fry… I wanted to ask. If Dutch knew I stole the Black Water loot, and I found the New Austin loot too. Oh, and I stole his horse." Izzy said with the biggest grin on her face.
"You always liked to gloat, ha!" Arthur genuinely was stunned, but the sheer joy on the devil's face had him grinning too. Yet he could hardly laugh as Rosalyn laid him back and put a strap around his head to keep the mask on.
"Oi, aight I'll take that." Izzy walked up to the foot of the bed and looked at Arthur concerned. The blonde still struggling to catch his breath as Roslyn glared at the scarlet murderer.
"I never thought I would see you again after Blackwater," Arthur said. It took a long time to talk, yet they waited patiently for him. The soft touch of the lady's gloved hand rubbing his back mixed with the oxygen soothing him. Was this real? Or had he found the farther planes of the afterlife? The sting in his body shot pain across his chest as he was reminded of the last moments before he blacked out.
The sounds of the Black Water massacre were clearer than the voices of Dutch and John. The sounds of screams mixed with gunfire as if they had heard it Yesterday. The shoot out in the streets echoed in the room. Screams of children as horses whinnied as the dying bellows of fallen men sang to the Strawberry Deviants. Was this delusion, or had judgement day found him. The angel of God and Devil's demon, here to fight for his soul.
"It wasn't supposed to go down like that," Rosalyn said first.
"You tricked me," Arthur said seriously. Not wanting to be left out of the conversation, but struggling to keep up with them.
"How could she trust you?" Izzy asked. Storming around the room like an angry rhino. The clack of her spurs to loud in his ears. Thoughts drifting back to when he last heard those red and black leather boots had taunted him.
The motel in Blackwater was filled with people, Rosalyn hiding in the Chalet dressed to the nines with a hidden pistol strapped to each leg. Isabela sided with the mounted Pinkertons ready to rampage the town with a hundred guns. Come into the Tavern during dinner to confront them all in the middle of a heist.
Dutch had convinced everyone, that Izzy was bluffing. She rode alone and the gang continued with the plan. A stupid plan in a big city where everyone knew who they were and how to find them. Dutch fired to the first shot when the O'Driscolls showed up. Arthur had stumbled into the bar in the middle of their fight. Only seeing the Dutch fire at their leader while Rosalyn lay in a heap of bloody skirts on the ground.
"You were dead." Arthur looked at Rosalyn.
He had rushed to her side and flipped her over to see blood pooling under her from a knife wound in the gut. Colm O'Driscol holding a bloodied hunter's knife and Dutch missed and shot the bartender by accident standing behind him.
All hell broke loose, and Izzy marched into the room and fired. Yet it was Micah who tackled her across the poker table and stabbed her with a broken bottle. Arthur saw it, because at that point… he cared about no one in that room other than Dutch. The rampage of pain sends him into a murderous frenzy in which innocent people died in the crossfire.
Arthur felt the pain worsen, seeing the faces of the bar patrons fall to gunshot wounds. Busboys, and townsfolk fleeing with their wives going out for dinner.
"Arthur, Arthur you're not breathing," Rosalyn said, tapping his back more aggressively. He was blacking out again. They laid him down, as Izzy rushed up and started chest compressions. Rosalyn switched the masks out for the machine again, as Arthur drifted back to sleep.
"Arthur, don't go yet." Their voices mixed until darkness took his consciousness once again.