This is a fan fiction story based on characters from the
Lonesome Dove television show,
AUTHOR'S NOTE: At the end of the second season episode, "The Hideout," Mattie had been shot and her fate was left dangling in cliffhanger style. The reason for this was a dispute between the show's production team and Kelly Rowan, the actress who played Mattie Shaw. Kelly went on to finish out the season, but the gunshot wound her character sustained was never mentioned again. This "missing scenes" story was meant to tie up that loose end and offer fans of the show some resolution to the climactic events of "The Hideout."
Call was only barely aware of Mosby stripping off his coat and kneeling at Mattie's side directly opposite him. At that moment, all his attention was focussed on the wounded woman, on keeping her conscious and alive until Luther could get back with Dr. Cleese. Amanda started handing strips of white cloth, obviously pieces of her petticoat, to Mosby, and he began to carefully slip Mattie's clothing off her bleeding shoulder. Call objected briefly, but only as a reaction to the pain that crossed Mattie's face. Even as he spoke, he realized what Clay was doing. The man ignored him anyway, intent on folding the pieces of cloth and pressing them down against the wound.
"Mattie, I have to move you. Just a little, I promise," Mosby said. Mattie's eyes, blurring a little, turned to meet his, and she whispered that it was okay. With Amanda's help, Clay lifted the injured woman just long enough to verity his worst suspicion before he lowered her to the ground again. He looked up at Newt and Amanda, and told them there was no exit wound. The bullet was obviously still lodged in Mattie's shoulder. She was beginning to shiver, both from shock and the cool weather, and Mosby spread his coat over her. Amanda handed Clay a canteen, and he used some more strips of petticoat to gently wipe Mattie's face clean of blood and grime from her earlier fight with her kidnappers.
Through all this, Call just sat there. He was torn between respect for and resentment of Mosby's taking over of the situation, with a voice in his head saying that he ought to be doing something too, that he shouldn't leave everything to Mosby, but he couldn't force any ideas out fast enough. He couldn't even voice his anger, because at the moment Clay's guilt just didn't seem that important. The Southerner continued to work rapidly and efficiently, with some occasional help from Amanda. Finally, when he'd made Mattie as comfortable as possible, and had done whatever he could in the present circumstances to care for her wound, he turned his attention to Amanda, and for the first time he spoke directly to Newt.
"Call, take that jacket off and give it to Amanda." The order was given so briskly, with such complete expectation that it would be obeyed, that Call was removing the garment before his brain could catch up and give him the angry words he would normally have said. He suddenly remembered that Amanda's waist was gone, leaving only her chemise to cover her upper body. She accepted the jacket gratefully, slipping it on with a small sigh of relief. Then, she sat down between the two men, and gently lifted Mattie's head to cradle it in her lap. Mosby kept issuing orders. "Keep talking to her, both of you. Don't let her go to sleep."
Call wanted to say that he already knew that, but instead his focus returned to Mattie, excluding everything else. She was clinging tightly to his hand, and he squeezed it in return. "You have to stay awake, Mattie," Amanda was saying. "Dr. Cleese will be here before you know it. Call, try to get her to drink some water." She handed him the canteen, and they both helped Mattie lift her head just long enough to take a few sips. The cut on her face was still bleeding a little, and Call took the fabric Mosby had used to wipe it clean again.
The other man was checking on the two kidnappers, although Newt tell that his attention was divided, his eyes frequently turning in their direction to check on Mattie. The expression on his face was the same tired, almost haunted look Newt had seen when he handed him the picture of Zander and the rest of the Halcyon Mining Corporation officers, just before the funeral service for the dead miners. As Call started talking desperately to Mattie, urging her to keep fighting, telling her that the wound really wasn't that bad, he found himself trying to remember on what other occasion he'd seen that look. Finally, with a painful lurch of his heart, he remembered: it was the same look Mosby had worn when he was staring at the burning house where Hannah was trapped, while holding Call back from going into the inferno after her.
Knowing that Mosby was apparently suffering too didn't lessen Call's anger, and he finally found the words to express it. "This is on your head, Mosby!" he yelled, knowing full well that the words would hurt, even as another, older part of him recognized that he was wrong in doing so. "All of this! It's your fault. What can you buy with that money that will make this all worth it?"
"Dammit, how was I supposed to know Peters would go to these lengths? And he will pay for what he's done, you can count on that," Mosby yelled back. "What were you and Luther doin' here anyway? I told both of you to stay out of it. I would have had a better chance alone. Mattie only got shot because she was in the crossfire you caused!"
"Shut up, both of you," Amanda hissed. "You can go back to buttin' heads when we've gotten her safe back to town."
"This was Peters' fault," Mattie whispered. "Nobody forced him to do this. I think it was all just a game to him, and he enjoyed it." She drew her breath in, sharply, and Call's attention returned to her condition.
"You just be quiet for a bit, and then Cleese will be here," he said.
Mosby was once again kneeling across from him. "Mattie, try not to move," he said, pressing another layer of improvised bandage over her shoulder. "That bullet's still in there, and movin' around could make things worse."
Amanda looked at both men, shaking her head. "Don't mind these two boys, Honey. If they aren't bellowin' at each other, they're not happy."
Unexpectedly, Mosby grinned, at both women. "We're only yellin' 'cause we're worried. Don't concern yourself about it."
Newt was about to tell him to speak for himself when Amanda caught his eye and glared at him, her unspoken message very clear. He bit back his words, and settled for covering Mattie's hand with both of his.
Horses were coming through the trees toward the cabin, coming fast. Mosby stood up, whirling around and drawing his gun in the same motion, only relaxing when he recognized Luther and Zeke. Some distance behind them came Unbob, driving a wagon with Dr. Cleese seated next to him.
The doctor decided to remove the bullet right away, so there would be less chance of further injury during the wagon ride back to town. That meant starting a campfire and finding something to heat water in, and then Cleese went to work. The others just stood there, watching and waiting, occasionally handing something to the young doctor when he asked for it. Then, on his command, they all helped lift Mattie into the wagon. Amanda stayed with her, settling herself so she could once again cradle Mattie's head. Mosby threw the saddlebags with the ransom money to Zeke with a terse order to take care of it and to collect the dead men's horses, before he mounted his own horse to follow the wagon, which was just starting back to town. Luther poured water over the fire, went with Call to get the Hellbitch, and then they both galloped after Mosby and the wagon.
Amanda insisted on settling Mattie into her own room at the Dove. After Cleese was through, she let Call and Mosby say a quick farewell to Mattie, and then she shooed them both out. Call would have followed Mosby to finish their fight, his anger still boiling even as the older, more rational side of him realized that it was meaningless, but Luther and Unbob both jumped him in the hotel dining room, asking what the doctor had told him. By the time Call could make his escape, Mosby was gone. A few minutes later, Zeke rode past the hotel, leading a large group of well-armed men. Call could only shake his head. Peters was surely long-gone by now.
Eventually, still intending to have his say with Mosby, Call went over to the Ambrosia. Of the usual collection of Mosby hangers-on, only Carson and a piano player were around. Everyone else must have gone with Zeke. Newt slipped past the customers at the bar, all buzzing with gossip about the whole mess, and went upstairs. He knocked at the door to Mosby's office, but there was no response. Quietly turning the knob, he pushed the door open.
Clay was sprawled out on the bed, his only concession to civilized manners having been to remove his boots. Even his gunbelt was still in place, but he was sound asleep. Call was about to wake him up when he spotted his name printed on an envelope on the desk.
He picked it up, still keeping an eye on his unknowing host, opened it, and removed the single written page inside. On that was a very simple message, addressed to Newt. "These are the names of the investors who might have hired Peters. If I do not return from this meeting, and either of the ladies are injured or killed, please use this information to pursue the proper retribution." The note was folded around five $100 bills.
Call stared down at the note, his anger beginning to drain away as he considered the meaning behind what he'd found. Obviously, Mosby had considered the strong possibility of not surviving his meeting with Peters. What he was probably doing when Call found him, drinking alone in the Ambrosia while his men searched the countryside, was putting his affairs in order, preparing for his possible death. He hadn't taken the same route to the cabin that Call and Luther had, so some of his men must have located the hideout and told him where it was. He could have used those men to try to free Mattie and Amanda without little or no risk to himself, but he had chosen to take the chance himself.
Somehow, Mosby must have decided that if he went alone and offered himself and the money in trade, he could get Peters to let the women go, but he hadn't told anyone ahead of time. Was there anyone to tell? In a sudden flash of memory, Mattie's words came back to him, and he realized that she was wrong, that there was one other person in Curtis Wells who was even more alone than either of them. Mosby had prepared himself for possible death, and the only person he thought he could rely on to avenge the entire incident was Call. Not Austin or Zeke or any of his lackeys, but Call, his enemy, and then only for money, not because he really expected Call to care.
Newt slowly and carefully folded the note, put it and the money back into the envelope, and laid it all back on the desk where he'd found it. Stepping back, he knocked on the door again, louder this time, and called Mosby's name as well. He had to swallow the instinct to retreat when Clay, only half-awake, swung off the bed with his gun drawn. "Whoa there. Murderin' me in your own club, that wouldn't be good form, would it?"
Mosby let out a deep breath, coming fully awake and regaining his composure at the same time. "Hasn't anyone ever told you not to enter a private room unless you've been invited?" He lowered his gun, but did not holster it. There were a few spatters of Mattie's blood on his shirt, and his usually immaculate hands were still dirty. Taking off his boots must have been all he was capable of doing before falling asleep.
"The door wasn't closed all the way," Call lied, counting on the man's exhaustion to cloud his memory.
"All right, just say your piece and have done with it. Amanda's not here to interrupt you this time." Clay finally holstered his gun, but he obviously did not relax his guard.
"I still think you shoulda just give Peters the money when he asked for it. You shoulda seen he was serious trouble."
Mosby's forehead creased, as though he was puzzled by Call's uncharacteristically mild words. "Your understandin' of business matters is abysmal. Tell me, if you fail to capture a certain outlaw, do you still go to the authorities offerin' the reward and expect them to pay you for your trouble? Investin' is like playin' poker, and sometimes you lose. I lost considerably more than any other investor, and not one person made any money, except for the merchants I purchased supplies from. And how was I to know Peters would go after anyone but myself?"
"Justify it all you like." Call shrugged. "I just wanted to tell you I think you were a damn crazy fool, ridin' in alone like that, but you do have guts. I gotta give you that."
Mosby cocked his head, still uncertain about Call's intentions. "Amanda and Mattie were already in danger because of me. Why would I knowingly risk anyone else?"
"You're a strange one, Mosby. You're a money-hungry bastard and an outlaw to boot, and you oughtta be kicked out of Curtis Wells, the way you run this town and all, but you risked your life to save them women. You deserve some credit for that, I guess. You got lucky this time, but your luck's gonna run out someday, and when it happens, you're gonna drag down some other people with you, like you almost done Mattie this time. That's all I got to say." After this uncharacteristically long speech, he turned on his heel and left.
Call was almost to the saloon doors when he heard Mosby call him, and he turned to see the man standing halfway down the stairs. There was some paper crumpled up in his hand. "You know somethin', Call? Just when I think I have you figured out, you go and do or say somethin' that actually makes some sense. That worries me."
"Glad to hear it. Keep on worryin'. If I can find a way to take you down, I'm gonna do it. Course, it could be I won't have to. Peters could still come back for you, or the men that hired him could just send someone else."
"Thank you for the reassurin' words," Clay said, his more familiar sarcastic tones showing that finally Call was saying something more along the lines of what he expected to hear. "I'll bear them in mind."
"You do that." Newt turned and continued out the door and across the street, aware all the while that Mosby had followed him to the door and was watching him. He went on into the hotel, to check on Mattie and see if Amanda was going to let him back into his room.
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