The Fugitives 30

I don't own these characters; I just like to spend time with them. No other profit to be had.

Author's note: Mathison County in MO is completely fictional, therefore anything that occurs and the terrain it occurs in, is purely imaginary.

I must also give high praise and thanks to LadyBrit for her advice on all things medical.

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Kitty sat curled up on the settee in her room, watching while Matt placed some extra logs into the fireplace. "There," he said. "It'll get a little warmer in here now."

Kitty smiled up at him as he sat back down beside her, and pulled her into his arms. "I thought it was getting pretty hot in here already." She said salaciously, as she ran her hands over his chest.

Matt grinned at her and pulled her up to him for a kiss.

They had been home in Dodge now for two months, since Mathison had attacked them at the Haggen's place, and things were finally getting back to normal for the two.

The day after the attack, Newly and Vernell had finally arrived to find that the prisoners they had come for, were not the ones Newly would be taking back.

Though Mathison had threatened him to within an inch of his life, Payne had spilled the beans on the red headed tyrant. He gave evidence against him in not only Hobson's murder and Kitty's framing, but also several other misdeeds that Payne knew about. He had even been able to provide written evidence in some cases.

Mathison in return, had of course given evidence against Payne as well, in some of those same cases. His money and power had been able to save him from the hang man, but it hadn't been able to do much else. He and Payne were now safely ensconced within the walls of Statesville Prison, with a new warden and guards, but some of the same prisoners they had once brutalized.

Doc, though he proclaimed loudly to the contrary, was sad to be leaving the hill people he had spent so much time with, especially Texie, in whose home he had stayed. Though not the nurse Kitty was, she had proved herself to be capable and able to assist Doc, without flinching, when he had really needed her. He realized he had grown fond of the girl.

Festus was unhappy at parting with his kin as well, and he thought seriously about staying behind, when his friends left to return to Dodge. But in the end he knew he had grown beyond his relatives and their back woods ways, and decided to return to what he now considered his home, Dodge City.

Doc and Festus weren't the only ones who were sad at leaving. Though Kitty was glad to finally be going home, she knew she would miss the good and gentle people who had taken her and her friends into their homes and their hearts.

Standing on the porch of his little cabin, Kitty had cried as she hugged Eustice goodbye. "Now, now little girl," he soothed trying to stifle his own emotions. "Ain't no use ya carryin' on like that. It ain't like we's never gonna see each other again. Who knows, I just might get a hankerin' to see that big city of your'n and come visit."

Kitty sniffled and kissed him on the cheek. "Promise?" she asked.

"Promise." He returned, with a grin the size of Kansas.

With a little help from Judge Brooker, and a full confession from the drummer, as to how Kitty was framed, the charges against Kitty had been reversed and the conviction vacated. Charges were never proffered against Matt and the rest of the Dodge men. There didn't seem to be much point.

Kitty's wounds, both physical and emotional were healing nicely, and now, two months later, she had resumed her life as the Queen of Dodge, as Louie had shyly named her upon her return.

Kitty didn't consider herself to be queen of anything; much less Dodge, but she loved Louie for thinking of her in that way. She realized by his words, and Matt and the other's actions, just how loved she really was.

"You warm now?" Matt asked, bringing her thoughts back to the present.

Kitty nodded. "Yes. In more ways than one, I guess."

Matt studied her curiously for a moment. "What do you mean?"

Kitty sat silently for a moment trying to put her feelings into words. "I was just thinking about what you, Sam, Doc and Festus did for me. You all risked your lives and a prison sentence to come after me, Matt. You risked even more than that. You risked your badge." She said that last with still a touch of awe, at the chance he had taken for her.

Matt nodded. "Yes we did, but we owed you that and more. You've risked your life for us before you know."

Kitty shrugged. "Never thought of it that way I guess. I just did what I had to do, when I had to do it." She looked over at Matt when a sudden thought hit her. "Just like you, huh?"

Matt crinkled his brow. "Like me?"

Kitty nodded. "When you got that telegraph ordering you back to the trial, you did what you had to do. I was mad enough at the time, not to see that. If I had've, I would've stayed here and waited on you, and that whole mess with Mathison wouldn't have happened."

Matt shook his head. "Kitty, do not blame yourself for that. What happened was not your fault. I'm just sorry you had to go through so much alone. I'm sorry that once again my badge took precedence over our plans. I would love to promise you that it won't happen again, but…."

"Matt," Kitty interrupted him. "When I accepted you in my life, I accepted that badge and the responsibilities that came with it. It doesn't mean I won't throw a fit occasionally, but I do understand, Matt. I do, and it's okay. As long as I have you, I can deal with the rest. I choose you, no I choose US, over everything else."

Matt smiled tenderly and pulled Kitty back to him. "I'm not going to change, Kitty." He told her. "I'll still be stubborn and there will still be times, I will put this badge before our plans. But I promise you, I will try to make more time for us than I have in the past, because I choose US too."

Kitty looked into his warm blue gaze, and knew he would do as he promised. But right then she didn't care. For this night, they were no longer fugitives from justice. They were prisoners. Of love. And that was just the way she wanted it.

FINIS