Author's Notes: I hope I haven't gotten any of the details wrong, but if I have, please, pardon me.

This story will have a sister stories eventually, but they won't necessarily be sequels. They can each stand on their own.

I like Matt and Kitty moments, so you can be sure that my stories focus on them.

Gunsmoke: You Don't Have to Love Me

By Tunsis The Driving Cat

Miss Kitty Russell stood just outside the doors of the Long Branch Saloon. The warm night breeze felt good on her bare shoulders and neck. Plenty of laughter and piano play could easily be heard from the inside and she wandered down the boardwalk a ways to get away from the noise and the bugs that swarmed the light fixture.

Matt Dillon had been out of town for more than a week now and she couldn't help but worry. He hadn't even come to say good-bye to her. She had been in the city of Dodge for a good year now and her feelings for him had not lessened any. Occasionally, she thought she would get signs from him telling her that he had feelings for her as well, but then he would do something like leave town without so much as a word and she wouldn't be so sure anymore. Even simply as a friend she would have liked to have known, but it took her walking down to the jailhouse after she hadn't seen him all day or night only to find Chester sitting at his desk instead.

"I'm sorry, Miss Kitty, but didn't Mr. Dillon tell you?" Chester had asked. "He had to leave out in a hurry this afternoon. Didn't really go into much detail about it. I'm sittin' here in his place 'til he gets back." Kitty had thanked him for letting her know and then told him to make sure and come visit her later. He eagerly agreed.

Tomorrow was Kitty's day off and she knew for certain that she didn't want to spend it at the Long Branch all day or all night. She could do a little shopping or perhaps fishing. She would have asked Chester, but she knew that he would probably be busy with filling in for Matt. She knew Doc Adams had some patients that he had to attend to from talking with him earlier. She would have even asked Matt had he been in town, but she truly doubted he would have gone. At times it seemed as if he barely even noticed her.

Kitty really hadn't made too many close friends since stopping in Dodge. Except for a few of the girls she worked with, most of the women in town were rather catty and she knew that she would rather have no friends than friends like that. She was pretty certain that her line of work did not help the situation either. Little did they know, she had not taken on any gentlemen callers. There were plenty of ways to make money in a saloon besides having sex with men. She didn't judge any of the girls who did though. It wasn't exactly easy for a woman to make it alone in the world and Kitty felt that any woman should have a choice in life besides getting married in order to survive and Kitty certainly knew about surviving. Her mother had always told her that she shouldn't judge people. She said that you never know the reasons as to why a person does certain things and Kitty had always tried to remember that.

With a sigh, Kitty rose from the chair that she hadn't even realized she'd sat down in and headed back inside the saloon. As mad as she was with Matt Dillon, she hoped that he was safe and that he would be back soon.

The next day found Kitty awake earlier than usual. She was rather excited to get her day started. She had already taken her bath and now she stood in front of the mirror brushing her beautiful, long, red hair, which she had decided to leave down for the day. When she was a kid, she hated her hair, often the topic of jokes concerning it and her freckles, but now she didn't mind it at all and the men in the saloon seemed to like it as well judging by the tips they gave her. Finished with that, she moved on to her makeup. She only put on a light layer to cover up the freckles; unlike the heavier makeup she wore for work. She then dressed herself in a pair of tan trousers that she'd made for herself and a small white shirt, leaving a few of the top buttons undone. She had decided on fishing after all, thinking that perhaps she could use the alone time to just think.

Kitty slipped out the back way of the Long Branch and headed toward Delmonico's for a picnic lunch basket. A couple of ham sandwiches, fried potatoes and some sarsaparilla would do just fine. The truth be told, she would have loved to have some crawfish or a nice bowl of spicy gumbo or even etoufee, but she would have to settle. She was a long way from New Orleans.

The next stop was the livery where she would rent a horse and buggy. Hopefully, the same horse that she had last time would be available. She had thought about buying Ginger many times, but she knew that it would be an unnecessary purchase considering she rarely used a horse. Finally, she was ready to go. It was a fairly quiet day in Dodge and not too many people were on the streets yet. She loaded everything she needed in the buggy and rode out of town.

Matt had gotten back early that afternoon. His very first stop was the stables so that his horse could be fed and brushed down. He then made his way over to the jailhouse where he found Chester. "Hi, Chester. Everything go alright while I was gone?" asked a tired Matt as he hung up his hat and put the shotgun that he had taken with him away.

"Welcome back, Mr. Dillon. Everythin' was rather quiet while you were gone. I had to break up a fight at the Long Branch day 'fore yesterd'y, but nothin' outta the ordinary," explained Chester as he stood up from the table and limped over to lean against Matt's desk.

"Good. What do you say we head on over to Delmonico's for lunch after I get cleaned up?" suggested Matt. He removed his gun belt and began unbuttoning his shirt.

"Sure Mr. Dillon. That sounds like a fine idea," said Chester. "I'll just go and wait outside until you're finished."

Matt proceeded to get washed and shaved and finally he headed out to meet Chester.

After a small lunch, the two sat talking. Chester asked Matt why he was gone so long. "Well, about five prisoners escaped while they were being moved a couple of towns over and they needed help rounding 'em back up. They had been missing for about two days when I arrived. They didn't get very far since they had only one gun and no horses, but they had taken an old man hostage and we had to do what we could to keep him from getting hurt. That's the only reason it took so long," explained Matt.

"Well, it's sure a good thing that's settled, Mr. Dillon. It's a good thing they didn't make it to Dodge either," said Chester as he sipped some coffee. He suddenly remembered that Miss Kitty had come by to look for Matt. "Oh, Mr. Dillon, Miss Kitty came by lookin' for you earlier in the week."

"Did she say what she wanted?" asked Matt.

"No, no. She just asked where you were and I told her and then she left."

"Well, I think I'll head on over to the Long Branch and see how things are going. I'll see you later, Chester." Matt stood and collected his hat and made his way out the door. He figured Kitty would probably be upset with him for leaving without saying anything, but it just couldn't be helped. He pushed open the doors to the Long Branch and stood just inside looking for the redhead. Upon not seeing her, he went over to the bartender and asked where she was. "Hi, Sam. Kitty around?"

"Welcome back, Marshal. No, I haven't seen Miss Kitty today. It is her day off after all," said the barkeep as he wiped out a beer mug. Matt nodded his thanks and decided to go and see if Doc had seen her.

"No, I haven't seen her today. I've been holed up in here all day lookin' after some patients. Haven't even had time to stop for a cool drink," said Doc as he lifted some sterilized tools from a pan filled with alcohol.

"That's strange," said Matt as he tapped his hat against his leg. He was getting just a bit worried. "It's not like Kitty to leave without telling someone."

"Maybe she learned it by watchin' you," said Doc without missing a beat.

Matt sighed. "Doc, you know that it can't be helped sometimes. It was an emergency."

"I know, I know, but it only takes a few seconds to scribble out a note. Whether you realize it or not Matt, that woman cares about you a lot and whether she shows it or not, it hurts her when you disregard her," said Doc a bit fed up. Kitty was like a daughter to him and sometimes he couldn't believe what a danged fool Matt could be.

"Doc, Kitty knows that with me being a lawman there isn't any room for a relation..." Matt trailed off as Doc interrupted him.

"Matt, listen good because I am only gonna say this once. No one is asking you to give up your badge! We all know how important it is to you. My being a doctor is just as important to me, but let me tell you that it by no means completes me. If I were lucky enough to have beautiful, decent, kind woman, who loved me, come into my life, I would think long and hard before I passed her up for my job! And what in Sam Hill is to say that you can't have both? Not much in this world can replace the love of a good woman, Matt," finished Doc.

"Doc, who said anything about love?" asked a dense Matt. Doc shook his head in annoyance and swiped at his scruffy grey whiskers.

"If you'll excuse me, I have to see to my patients and see about getting them something to eat," said Doc gruffly, ending the conversation. Matt took his cue and left thinking about what Doc had said.

Kitty leaned back against the tree and closed her eyes with a sigh. She had been out picnicking for hours and she was enjoying it more than she thought she would. It was hot out, but not too and an occasional breeze would help to cool things down. She had done a little fishing for fun earlier, throwing back anything that she caught. She now sat with her blanket underneath the shade of a tree sipping her sarsaparilla. The cook at Delmonico's had fried some onions along with the potatoes just like she liked and she had eaten most of them for breakfast while they were still warm and a ham sandwich for lunch. There was one more left. She kept her eyes closed as she heard the horse approaching. Not until she heard the rider jump down did she calmly open her eyes to see who it was though she had a pretty good feeling of whom already.

"Kitty?" called the unmistakable voice of Matt.

She looked up at him evenly. "Well, look what the cat drug in," she said in her deep voice, determined not to make it easy for him. He looked like he hadn't gotten any sleep at all and she felt just a little of her resolve fade. He walked over to her and she motioned with her head for him to sit.

"You been out here all day?" he asked.

"Yep," came the short reply. She took a small sip of her sarsaparilla and closed her eyes again.

Matt looked over at her and was once again enamored by how beautiful she was…and her hair. He loved her hair. No matter what anyone thought, he wasn't so blind as to not notice her. "You had me kind of worr…" Matt trailed off as she rose a pretty red eyebrow at him without opening her eyes, realizing what he was about to say. "Sorry."

"S'okay. I guess now you might know how I feel, huh?" Kitty asked him coolly.

"Listen, Kitty, I…"

"No, Matt, wait," said Kitty. She didn't have the strength to stay mad at him. "Look, I know that I don't have any claims on you. But even if you didn't tell me you were leavin' as your woman, I would hope that you would at least tell me as your friend. You can have simple friends along with that badge can't you?" she asked with a sad smile.

Matt watched her. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her. He did have feelings for her, but the truth be told, he was scared to let her know. He didn't want her to suffer because of his badge and he knew that if they were together she would. He recognized her words for what they were, a way out and a chance for him to let her know exactly where he stood. He wasn't sure if he wanted it though. Doc's words came back to him and he knew that he had to let her know how he felt. "Kitty, you are my friend, my best friend." He watched her face fall a little and he knew what she was probably thinking. "Contrary to what anyone else thinks, I do notice you. It's awful hard not to," he said softly, looking into her stunning blue eyes. "It's also hard to forget what this badge would mean for you as my lady. Kitty, I care about you more than you know, but I don't know what I would do if anything were to happen to you."

Kitty looked at him, knowing that it was hurting him inside. This was probably the closest he had ever come to telling her he cared. "Matt, let me ask you somethin'. When you do finally get a break from your job, where do you go?"

"Well, I usually go and talk with you at the Long Branch."

"Right…and when I get a day, don't I usually come to visit you for a while?"

"Yeah…"

"And then you walk me back to my room. Don't you see? It doesn't matter whether we are together or not. Even as friends people are going to think what they want about us."

"Then maybe we shouldn't…"

"No!" said Kitty putting her hands on either side of Matt's face and looking straight into his eyes. "I refuse to stop being your friend, Matt Dillon. You don't have to love me, but I will not stop being your friend."

"Kitty," Matt whispered. He raised his hand to brush her bangs out of her face and tenderly placed his hand on her cheek. He couldn't resist her anymore and he didn't want to. He slowly pulled her closer and brushed her lips with his. Kitty willingly responded and deepened the kiss as she wrapped her arms around his neck. The last thing she had expected was for Matt to kiss her, but she wasn't going to complain. She put everything she had into the kiss and they were both out of breath when their lips pulled apart. Matt had a generous grin on his face and Kitty was sure she had some sort of incredible look on hers.

"I do love you, Matt Dillon," whispered Kitty. Her heart beat a little faster and her voice shook some, but she had to let him know.

"I know," Matt said softly. He wanted so bad to say it back.

Kitty didn't expect him to say it, although she wouldn't have minded it one bit. She knew that he wasn't ready to say it yet. She knew that him saying it would be like making a promise to her.

Ever since she came to Dodge, resisting her had been as big a task as being a marshal. She never threw herself at him or made any unladylike advances, but just her presence alone was hard to defend against. There had been plenty of times where he had gone into the saloon for a drink and Kitty hadn't seen him right away. He could have simply had his drink and gone, but sometimes she would be sitting at a table by herself, playing a game of solitaire and looking as lovely as ever, and he would inevitably make his way over to her. He would also catch glimpses of her fiery temper as he played her games for her over her shoulder. That only added to her appeal. "You know, you look pretty cute with those pants on," Matt said breaking the tense moment.

Kitty smiled back slyly and winked at him. "How did you find me anyway?" she asked as she took his hat off and ran her fingers through his damp hair. She leaned in and kissed his cheek, smooth from shaving.

"Moss Grimmick said that you had come by to rent a buggy and he noticed you had a fishing pole with you. I figured there would only be so many spots you would have gone to."

"You look so tired, Matt. When's the last time you got any rest?" asked Kitty, worried about her man. The thought made her shine as she wiped a finger across his sweating brow. She scooted away from him a tad and offered him her sarsaparilla. He accepted and took a healthy swig.

"Oh, about two days ago, and that was only a couple of hours," he said finishing the drink. Kitty took the empty bottle and sat it aside. She then stood up and walked to the edge of the creek dipping a rag in the cool water. She went back over to Matt and kneeled beside him.

"Well, why don't you take a nap now while no one is bothering you?" suggested Kitty as she dabbed his face and neck with the cool cloth.

"I don't wanna sleep. I wanna talk with you," Matt said rather petulantly, very much enjoying the attention Kitty was giving him. He grabbed for her hand and began playing with her fingers.

Kitty gave him a lopsided grin and chided him gently. "Don't be a baby. We'll have plenty of time to talk, but right now, you need all the rest you can get. Now, come on before somebody comes lookin' for ya." Kitty sat back down in her spot, stretched out her legs and patted her thigh. Matt made no more protests and stretched out his long body perpendicular to Kitty and rested his head on her thigh. Kitty then ran her hand through his hair, while the other rested on his stomach. She watched him as his eyes slowly drifted shut and he was asleep in no time.

It was just after dark by the time they got back to town. Matt's nap ended up being three and a half hours and he awoke only to find Kitty asleep. They split the last ham sandwich and then packed up and headed back to Dodge.

"I'm glad you came and found me today, Matt," said Kitty as they walked toward the back of the Long Branch. Kitty didn't want to go in the front way.

"So am I," he said smiling at her.

"I would ask you to come up for coffee, but I know you're a busy man," she said, running her hand down his arm. On the way back, he had told her about his trip. He needed to write a statement about it for his own records while it was still fresh in his mind.

"Yeah, I really need to get that report done," Matt said reluctantly as they approached the back door of the Long Branch. He really wanted to spend more time with Kitty, but he knew he still had a job to do. He pulled her closer until she was pressed against him and he leaned down to give her a long, slow kiss. He would never get tired of kissing her. "Goodnight, Kitty."

"Goodnight, Matt," said a breathless Kitty. He gave her a handsome smile and turned to head back to the jailhouse. Kitty stood watching as he walked away.

The End.