Twenty Years

Tap Day For Kitty – ATC

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


As Kitty walked back to the Long Branch with Matt, she thought about Nip and Nettie. Twenty years and a little buckshot.

Although she had no intentions of taking a shotgun after the man who firmly held her heart, she wasn't sure she wanted to wait twenty years either. But Matt had never been anything less than honest with her and he'd made it clear; he was not the marrying kind.

She understood his reasons, and even agreed to an extent, but it made things no easier. The knowledge that she would never have the man that her heart longed for was hard to accept.

The fact that Matt had believed, even for only a moment, that she had shot Nip Cullers stung almost as bad. As they walked across the street, the teasing light that had been in Kitty's eyes faded to a dull gleam of despair, knowing Matt had believed her capable of something like that.

Matt noticed the change in her countenance and guessed the reason why. He wanted to talk to her, to make her understand, but Chester was with them. What he had to say to her, needed to be said in private.

When they reached the swinging doors of the saloon, Matt held back, gently taking Kitty's arm to prevent her from entering as well. "Chester," he told the young man beside him, "you go on in and order our drinks."

Chester looked back at the Marshal. "Well, what are you going to do, Mr. Dillon?" he asked.

"We'll be in, in a minute," Matt answered, avoiding the question. "Go on."

Chester didn't like being kept out of things and was extremely curious as to why he was being sent on ahead, but he knew better than question his boss. "Well, alright." He answered. Turning he entered the saloon, leaving Matt and Kitty alone on the boardwalk.

Kitty looked up at Matt with a puzzled expression on her lovely face. "What'd you do that for?" She asked.

Matt pulled Kitty away from the front of the saloon and to the side before he answered. "I wanted to talk to you," he said, "without Chester, and by extension, the rest of the town in attendance."

Kitty gave him a slight smile. She knew all too well how Chester liked to talk. "Talk about what?" she questioned, although she had an idea.

"Kitty," Matt paused for a second. "I want to explain about earlier. I know it seemed to you that I was accusing you of shooting Cullers but…"

"Well, didn't you?" Kitty interrupted. "I mean, for just a moment there you all but had me convicted."

"No, I didn't. But Kitty you have to understand how it looked to me. You threatened to shoot Cullers with a shotgun then suddenly he's shot and the only clue is a woman's footprints that matched yours. You have to admit it looked bad."

Kitty studied the ground for a moment before raising her head with sad azure eyes boring into him. "Yes, I guess it did," she admitted. "But if you really trusted me and knew me, like you claim, than you would've known, without question, that I was innocent."

Matt looked up and sighed in exasperation. "Kitty, I do trust you. It's not a case of trust. It's a case of…" he trailed off searching for the right words.

"A case of what?" she asked, her temper rising despite her desire to remain cool. "You know what, Marshal?" she said quietly, when he didn't answer. "I don't think it matters what it's a case of. Nothing really matters when it comes to me, does it? I mean I'm just a local whore from the Long Branch."

Matt eyes blazed at her words and he roughly grabbed her by the arm, pulling her to him. "Kitty Russell, if I ever hear you say that again…."

"You'll do what?" She asked. "It's the truth isn't it, Mr. Dillon? I mean, that's why you thought it easy for me to shoot Nip and that's why you don't want anyone knowing you spend time with me. I'm just a whore. Someone to sleep with, but definitely not someone to marry, or even admit to polite company, that you know."

Matt stood in total confusion as Kitty, sobbing now, turned and fled down the alley towards the back of the Long Branch. Matt didn't understand what had just happened. How did she arrive at the conclusion that he felt that way?

Realizing he would get no answers without talking to her, he started to follow just as gunshots echoed down the street coming from the Lady Gay. Matt hesitated for a moment wanting to go after the upset red head but his badge won out. Turning, Matt headed down the street to investigate the problem.


After running from Matt and up the back way to her room, Kitty flung herself on her bed, sobbing hysterically. She had no explanation as for why she had said what she had, but she knew that even though she suppressed them, they were her true feelings.

Logically, she told herself she was wrong. Matt had never been anything but kind to her and not once did he act ashamed of her. But he seldom saw her outside of the saloon, her beleaguered heart told her. And never showed any open affection towards her in the presence of others.

And although he had explained his reasons for not wanting to get married, it made little difference to her injured soul. As Kitty lay on her bed in despair, she heard the gunshots sounding below but at first, it did not register to her what that could mean.

Sniffling and slowly getting up from bed to wipe her face, it suddenly dawned on her that gunshots meant danger and where there was danger, Matt could be found. "Oh, God, no." she groaned as she stumbled towards her door and down the staircase, her mind centered on only one thing. Getting to Matt.

She had just reached the street, when she saw him. "Oh, Matt," she cried as she raced down the street to his side. "Are you alright?"

Matt stopped in the middle of the street, waiting for her to reach his side, cradling his left shoulder. "I'm alright," he said when she neared. "I'm alright, Kitty."

"Are you sure?" she saw the blood on his shoulder and the grimace on his handsome face.

Matt reached out and pulled Kitty into his arms. "I'm okay," he repeated. "It's just a graze."

Kitty suddenly realized where they were and pulled away, not wanting to embarrass Matt in front of the throng of people now gathering in the street. "Well," she took a ragged breath. "I'm glad you're okay, Matt." She said. "I'd better get back to work. You need to go up to Doc's and let him treat that shoulder."

Matt stood still for a moment, watching her turn to leave before he called out to her. "Kitty."

She turned questioningly. "Yeah?"

"You think you could help me up to Doc's?" he asked.

Numbly and not knowing why he would ask, Kitty nodded. "Sure." She stepped back to him and reached for his arm, but Matt had other ideas.

As soon as she neared, he pulled her firmly against him, hugging her tightly, placing a not so chaste kiss on her lips. "Thank you, Lady" he told her, rather loudly. "I appreciate you."

Kitty was stunned. With half the town in attendance, Matt Dillon had not only hugged her but had kissed her to boot.

"Excuse me and the Lady, if you will," Matt said to the amazed faces standing around, as he continued to clutch Kitty to his side and started down the street.

As he and Kitty walked off, a low buzz began among the people gathered there.

"Did you see that?"

"He kissed her! A saloon girl! Right here on the street in front of God and everybody."

"He actually called her a 'Lady'."

"Well I can't believe it!"

"Does he know what he's doing? She's nothing but a dance hall girl."

"You'd think she meant something to him, the way he acted."

Matt heard that last remark and stopped, turning back to face the crowd. "She does mean something to me." He told the people standing there. "She means a lot to me and don't you all forget it."

Making an about turn, Matt missed the shocked and awestruck expressions on the faces of the good citizens of Dodge. But he didn't miss the expression of love and gratitude on Kitty's face. Inclining his head, he kissed her again. "I'm sorry, Kitty." He said. "I never wanted you to think the way you did."

Kitty's tears began again as she buried her head in his chest for a moment. "Oh, Matt. I am so sorry; I didn't mean what I said. I was just upset and….."

Matt tugged at her chin to bring her gaze up to meet his. "You had a right to be upset. I didn't even give you a chance before I jumped to the conclusion that you had shot Cullers. And when I realized you hadn't done anything, I didn't even apologize."

"But you solved the case, Matt." Kitty argued. "You proved I didn't do it."

"Yeah, but that's not the point, Kitty."

Kitty studied him for a second before responding. "Then what is the point?" she asked.

"The point is, you're important to me, Kitty Russell, and I don't always show that like I should. But I want you to know, no matter what, I care about you. To me, you truly are a lady in every sense of the word and you always will be."

Kitty reached up and placed a loving kiss on his lips, her eyes never leaving his. "I love you, Matt Dillon." She whispered as they continued their journey towards Doc's.

"I love you too," Matt answered softly.

As they reached the stairs to the physician's office, Kitty looked up at the tall man beside her. 'Twenty years', she mused. 'I guess I can wait that long after all.'