There's Always Tomorrow

Part One

Author's Note: This is an ATC for "Seven Hours To Dawn." Matt and Kitty have earned some time to heal. This is the story of their healing. Matt struggles with some new-found fears. It's a Matt and Kitty love story, and includes graphic descriptions of their emotional and their physical love. After all, why not? It was Doc's idea. This story is intended for Mature readers.

CHAPTER ONE

Galen Adams, exhausted as he was, looked down at the two of them with tears welling in his eyes.

"Kitty," he touched her shoulder. "Kitty, listen to me. He's going to be all right. You heard me the first time. Hear me again, Kitty."

Matt had his left arm wrapped all the way around her, stroking her back. She nuzzled him over and over again on his face, his neck, his hair. A woman usually well in control of her emotions, she was crying, and sure wasn't trying to hide it. The love of her life had been dead in the street. She couldn't believe this.

Matt looked up at Doc and then over at Festus with an expression of frustration, his eyes wracked with pain. He said nothing. Then he went back to Kitty and buried his head in her neck. He had no idea what she had seen out there in the street. It was only starting to make sense to him. He only knew that his gut hurt unbelievably.

"Miss Kitty, Doc couldn't a tole you he was alive," Festus said to Kitty again, trying to get her attention and make her understand why Doc had done what he had done. "That Mace fella woulda finished him off for shore! I was as puzzled as anybody till Doc told me what was a-goin on."

Doc tried again. "Kitty, you've got to listen to me!" He gently pulled Kitty back so she could see his face.

"Kitty," he said softly. Let's get Matt upstairs where you and I can take care of him."

Suddenly aware that she was on the floor of the Long Branch, she nodded her head in agreement and slowly stood. The tears were still streaming down her face and she was bent over, reluctant to let go of Matt's arm.

"Just keep hold of his arm, Kitty. Keep your hand on him till I get some men. It's okay."

And Doc turned to Festus. "Find one of the other men, anyone, to help you get Matt upstairs."

There had been so much chaos in the last hour, Doc had no idea who was around, or who was where. He only knew that it would take two strong men to get Matt upstairs, and that he and Kitty were completely unable to do it. Festus hustled through the batwings.

"Ben's here!" Festus all but shouted as he came back into the Long Branch with his friend. "Me and him can get Matthew up there, we're sure!"

Doc took Kitty back from Matt. He put his arm around her and softly said, "Kitty, we're going to be together upstairs as quickly as the men get Matt up there. You're going to have a lifetime with him, Kitty, I promise." And Kitty softened in his grasp and watched as the men effortlessly lifted the 240 pound giant from the chair.

"Don't support his arms over your shoulders, just support him under his arms with your arms," Doc instructed the men like a drill sergeant. "Don't stretch him! Be real soft with him. He has some serious wounds there, I don't want any of the sutures to pull out."

"Doc, I can get up the stairs," Matt said quietly. "I got up the stairs from the basement after all."

"You had a lot of adrenaline working, Matt. Please let me make these decisions."

The men sat Matt down on Kitty's bed. He refused to lay down but instead, slumped over as he was, started barking orders.

"Ben, find my gunbelt and my revolver and bring them here. Festus, I told you to go see how you can help the people get their belongings back, OK?" Then he looked up at Doc. "Doc, do you have other patients that need your help? Cause I'm fine here."

Festus was the one who spoke up immediately. "Matthew, it don't appear that anybody a'tall is hurt besides you and Hank and of course Buck Spenser, rest his soul. Folks just got broke into and robbed. I can come get Doc if we find somebody else a hurtin'."

For which Galen Adams was more than grateful. These two people in his care were his most cherished friends. He regarded them as a son and a daughter. He wanted to give them his undivided attention.

Softly, Kitty said "Festus, before you go, will you please pull Matt's boots off? I can take care of everything else, but his boots are a struggle."

"Of course, Miss Kitty!" and Festus pulled the boots off, needing enough effort that he raised his eyebrows.

"I'm going to stay right here with Matt and Kitty for most of the day. Oh, and Ben, bring my bag from downstairs. I'll need it."

Both Festus and Ben nodded clearly at Doc. Everybody had a long night, but the adrenaline was still flowing and it was doubtful anyone would sleep before tonight. At least anyone who didn't get a dose of Doc's powders from his bag.

As soon as they left the room, Kitty sat down on the bed next to Matt. She took his hand and laid her head into his shoulder. "I love you, Matt." She had no qualms about letting Doc hear.

"Doc, my girl is freezing cold. Here, feel her hands," Matt mumbled.

Doc knelt down in front of Kitty and took one of her hands in his. It sure enough was ice cold. So was her face when he felt her brow. She was trembling, and had a glassy-eyed look, nothing like the usual brilliant dance of her blue eyes. He looked straight at her.

"Kitty, you're in shock right now over this thing. It's my fault. I put you through hell last night. I can explain the whole thing, Kitty, you've just got to trust me till we get Matt settled here." And he looked up at Matt and said, "We'll get her warm soon, that's the least of our worries."

"Kitty, you go change out of that dress into something clean. You can crawl in here with Matt, he'll keep you warm for the day."

"There's nothing wrong with my dress, I'll stay here."

"Oh Shaw! Wake up, woman! You've wiped up the floor of the Long Branch with that dress. Barens has had his hands all over you and rolled you around on the floor. Get out of it! I need to give Matt some Laudanum and check his bandage again. Now go get about it!"

Kitty took a deep breath, looked down at herself and then back over at Matt. She said nothing, just kissed Matt in his hair, then got up and walked slowly to her clothing room. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair was rumpled beyond repair. Nothing short of a thorough washing and styling would help. She had a fist-sized bruise on her left cheek and a split in the skin below her left eye. Face paint was not going to cover any of this. Resigned to her fate and to remaining in her rooms until she was halfway presentable again, she splashed water on her face and gently sponged it, over and over. At least it would get Gore and Barens off of her skin. She could hear Matt arguing with Doc in the other room about taking the Laudanum. She stripped out of all of her clothes, put on the laciest chamise she could find, then her robe over it. She unpinned her hair and let it fall down, only taking time to brush it a few strokes and tie it back with the blue ribbon Matt had given her. When she returned to the bed, Doc had Matt laying flat on his back and was checking the fit of the bandage that circled his torso.

Satisfied with his work, and satisfied that his patient was now relatively quiet and no longer asking for his gun, Doc stood and faced Kitty.

"That's so much better, Kitty. Now let me look at your face." He gently probed the cut under her eye then felt for heat on the bruise. "He sure gave you a good one here," he said softly. "This will all heal without a mark, Kitty. But I want you to put cold wet cloths on this bruise over the next couple of days, just as often as you think about it."

"C'mon, Kitty, let's get this guy out of the rest of these clothes and into bed." He knew that Kitty was the expert at undressing the big man, and only followed her lead to offer help. More importantly, he knew that the more he asked Kitty to do for Matt, the better she would heal emotionally. She unbuttoned his pants, and lifting one leg at a time, wiggled them down around his knees, where Doc grabbed the cuffs and pulled them off. She caught herself hesitating when she started to remove the bottom of his union suit. Matt was always aroused when she did this, and she didn't want him to be embarrassed. But the Laudanum had taken effect, and he remained quiet. Doc helped her move him to one side of the bed, while she pulled the covers out and over him, covering him to the waist.

"You can put a clean union suit on him at the first bandage change, Kitty. That'll probably be in the morning, okay?"

"Thank you, Doc," she sighed. He saw a small glimpse of the sparkle returning to her eyes, borne of relief. Her man was alive. For the moment he was out of pain. Her most trusted friend and doctor had assured her he would heal.

"I have another dose of Laudanum all ready for him here on the stand," he pointed to it. If for any reason I'm not here and he wakes up in pain, I want you to give it to him."

Kitty knew Matt despised Laudanum for what it did to disorient him. She widened her eyes and sighed at the statement. "I'll do my best. Are you leaving? I thought you were going to stay . . . "

"Kitty, I'm going to go downstairs and see what I can find for food, and I'll be darned if I'm going to skip a bottle of whiskey if I see one down there. I want to make sure Festus was right, that nobody else needs a doctor. But I'll be back after that. I'm going to explain everything to you, and I'm going to sit with you two until suppertime if that's okay. Now here's my prescription: You take this glass of powders and crawl in there with Matt to get warm. Got that? Both of you need a few hours of rest, and that's what you're going to get."

Matt moaned softly and stirred when Kitty got next to him. He seemed to know she was there, but he couldn't hold her like he usually did, flat on his back with fresh bullet wounds in his gut. For Kitty's part, being cuddled up next to the love of her life was a dream. Doc's plan was working. He sat down on the settee and waited until Kitty fell off to sleep, made sure the two were covered up, then took his bag and headed downstairs.

The Long Branch was a disaster. The front windows were broken. Furniture was strewn everywhere, a lot of it shattered beyond recognition. Everything on the wall behind the bar appeared to be broken. Sam was the only soul around. He was behind the bar sweeping up broken glass, trying to make some sort of order out of the mess.

"How is the Marshal?" he stopped and looked up at Doc. "And Miss Kitty?"

"You know, Sam," Doc said, giving his mustache a scrub. "Matt Dillon is one amazing human being. He absolutely should not be alive right now, and yet he is, and he's coherent, his heart rate is strong, and he has some color to him. By gosh, I think he's going to recover fully from this! And Kitty will be fine. She has a lot of bumps and bruises but mostly she just needs to spend some quiet time with Matt so she can heal from shock. I did quite a number on her, letting her think Matt was dead. What are you still doing here, anyway? Why don't you go home and rest?"

"I could ask you the same question, Doc. Couldn't sleep now, anyway. Gonna take a day or so to quiet my mind down."

"How about a whiskey?"

"Are you kidding me? You actually have whiskey?"

"Private stash in Miss Kitty's office. All the drummer samples, drummer gifts, and more. Those thugs had no idea where she had it hidden. What'll it be, Doc?" and he smiled broadly.

"You got a couple of glasses?"

"That might be a trick. I'll look in the office."

Sam returned quickly with a bottle of Tennessee Walkin Whiskey and two brandy glasses. He pushed a pile of broken glass off the bar with his towel, and poured.

"Wow is this a treat," Doc smiled. "Better only have one, though, I have patients to take care of. Hey, see that Festus gets a couple of these, Sam. I couldn't possibly have saved Matt without his help."