"Everything I Want"

a 'Time of the Jackals' After the Credits story

by MarMar1

June 2006

DISCLAIMER: "Gunsmoke" is not mine, I seek no financial profit, mores the pity.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story was inspired by a comment Kitty made in this episode. My lovely Muse just sprang it on me yesterday and was gracious enough to follow through on it with me to day. Hope you enjoy. I believe this is a first for me, getting an idea and completing the story in about 24 hours. I could get used to it. Hope the Muse is listening.

"Everything I Want"

Kitty Russell allowed her fingers to slide over the smooth, rich fabric of the dress, enjoying the memory of the feel against her skin when she wore it. Though it was not actually new, it was newer than most in her wardrobe and showed no wear at all. While luxurious in feel and appearance, she appreciated that it was also very comfortable. Kitty liked the dress, but, more importantly, she knew that Matt liked it.

Without hesitation, Kitty carefully folded the gown into her smaller carpetbag. Noting the time on her mantle clock, she lifted the bag and headed to the door, stopping by habit to check her appearance in the tall mirror. The elegant white lace shirtwaist was beautifully set off by the blue-black beads that dangled from her ears and rested above the daytime modest d├ęcolletage. Her black skirt draped nicely, providing ease of movement and a slimming look.

She smoothed and tucked a few stray strands of sunset hair, taming them into the simple, up but loose style she had chosen. Satisfied that she was ready for the public street, Kitty carried her bag out her bedroom door and down the Long Branch staircase.

A short while later, standing on the boardwalk in the soft morning light, Kitty contemplated stopping at Delmonico's for an early breakfast. Well, she thought to herself, it would be early in her book. She looked down the dusty street toward the Long Branch and thought that it would be a nice change from sitting in the saloon having coffee and going over last nights figures. She was sure she would find someone there to share a table and some talk.

Having decided that mixing in the daily bustle of life was a good idea, Kitty folded the now empty carpet bag and cradled it between arm and hip. Turning to walk along the boardwalk, she stopped in mid-stride. Looking past the Long Branch, her gaze had fallen on the figure of Matt Dillon talking with Mrs. Spranger outside of Jonas' shop. Kitty's lovely face softened with emotion as she stopped to watch.

She was too far down Front Street from the store to hear any of the conversation; early morning sounds blended with the rhythm of hoof-falls to fill the space. Kitty did not need to hear their words, though, to know the essence of what was being said. She knew that Mr. Spranger was still laid up recovering from a broken leg. She knew their son would be home caring for the farm and figured that Mrs. Spranger had come to town alone for their monthly purchase of supplies. Silently, in the back of her mind, Kitty offered up her usual prayer of thanks that she did not live the hard life of a Kansas farm wife.

Continuing to watch, Kitty needed only to see Matt's body language to know what his side of the conversation entailed. She knew he was asking about Jeb, their son Braden, and how they were getting on with Jeb laid up. She knew that he was offering to help in any way he could, while offering gentle comments of belief that Doc Adams was the best, that Jeb would be up and around soon, that life would return to its normal flow before long. He was offering hope and reassurance as Kitty had seen and heard him do a thousand times over the years. She knew well that such words from Matt would be received as a balm by Mrs. Spranger. Matt had a way about him that made people believe that what he said was above question.

As they talked, Matt and Cora Spranger moved back inside the store. Kitty slowly walked toward Delmonico's, her mind sweeping over thoughts of Matt and all that he represented to people; she had trained herself years ago to not dwell on the dangers. As always, the thoughts brought with them a gentle calm along with love and pride that threatened to burst her heart.

She stopped once more, steps away from the doorway into the eatery as movement at the front of Jonas' shop caught her eye. Standing in the shade of the walk cover, Kitty watched as Cora Spranger emerged, followed by Matt, his arms laden with a large sack, probably corn meal, topped with other, smaller items.

The smile on Kitty's face wilted a bit and her calm wavered as she recalled the last time, only the evening before, she had seen Matt's strong arms so full. He had carried that burden with even more care and with great tenderness. Kitty's practiced eye had seen all of Matt's thoughts played out in the flow of his muscles and the expression on his face. She had known that he was suffering with the wild rage of emotion as his eyes displayed once more his sadness over the senseless waste of life. Kitty had longed to go to him, to help him, but had held back, knowing that it wasn't the time. She had felt her own emotions wetly slip down her face as she watched him walk to Percy's to deliver the burden in his arms. The burden in his heart, she knew, would not be so readily eased.

Matt had settled the Sprangers' purchases into the wagon and Kitty thought perhaps he would turn her way. Just then, though, an elderly gentleman, a new boarder from Ma Smalley's, approached Matt. Kitty saw him speak briefly to Matt before they began walking in the direction away from her, down the street. She smiled as she noted how Matt reigned in his long stride, allowing the man to keep up without running, all the while intently listening to whatever tale the man was telling.

Ah, well, she hadn't been expecting to share breakfast with Matt this morning. It not only was too early, but a cup of coffee was about the most she typically saw of him before mid-afternoon. Kitty also knew that today, especially, would be a day in which Matt would find comfort in the benign routine of life. This time would allow him the stability and comfort of daily life, while giving him the opportunity to deal with the blisters on his soul.

Kitty had not seen Matt last night, after the confrontation in the street, but she had not been surprised. She was not at all certain that she would see him tonight, either. She was glad to know he was out and involved with the life of Dodge; she knew this would help him, especially if it stayed quiet. She knew that, sometime later, Matt would go once more to Percy's. She knew that he would see the dress and appreciate it. She was only sorry that, in his way, he would add this small sacrifice of hers to his self-imposed weight of responsibility. Knowing it was not possible, she wished she could spare him that. She would never mention the loss of the cape, now heavily bloodstained and marred with a bullet hole. Today, tomorrow, in some quiet moment, he would gently squeeze her hand and say thank-you. She would understand.

As Matt and the elderly gentleman walked out of sight, Kitty turned to enter Delmonico's. She had ached to see Matt since last night, to hold and comfort him and she knew that she might well suffer the same ache beyond this night. She did not doubt, though, that one night soon, when he was ready, he would come to her and they would begin the journey of healing. It was a journey they had made together many times.

As Kitty seated herself at a table, her lips lifted in a delicate smile. If not tonight, then tomorrow, Matt would come and she would be there, having been content to wait. She felt the peace of this knowledge settle upon her as she gazed through the doorway out to the street. After all, as she had told Leona, everything she wanted was right here.