DISCLAIMER: These characters probably belong to me! I cannot deny their striking resemblance to characters owned by Jerry Bruckheimer and co, I truly am sorry for treading on any toes but I do this for my sanity.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 1: We recently had a discussion on uber Cath/Sara fiction. I decided to give it a try after listening to one of my old CD's and being fired.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: As a young girl I shared my Mum's love of music and at that time her love of Gene Pitney. Twenty years later I had the pleasure of seeing him in concert singing this very song. Twenty years later still I have the pleasure of sharing this fic with you *g*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 3: Feedback is much appreciated but by no means expected... my sanity remains my main concern. by the song whose lyrics grace the end of this piece.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Love's Chance Saloon
(aka Liberty Valance)

By Debbie

1885: Reno, Nevada.

"From the moment a girl gets to be full grown,
the very first thing she learns
when two men go out
to face each other,
only one returns"

Kathryn Rosario watched out of the saloon window with a heavy heart. The dark foreboding sky with the lingering threat of a heavy storm did nothing to soothe her troubled mind. As a young girl growing up to become a beautiful woman she had never dreamt of a night like tonight, a night when all sensible folk should be tucked up in the arms of their one true love, not waiting silently for the safe return of their one true love.

In a sleepy but expanding town in the heart of Nevada lived many an outlaw, intent on only one thing, stealing a lifestyle from those not as handy with a man's true weapon: the revolver. Foremost among this band of brigands was a two-faced brute called Eddie.

Two faced and mean: by day the local law-abiding impresario, Eddie Rosario; by night the king of all gunslingers, Eddie Roswall. Many years previously, as a young singer in the local saloons, he had seen the opportunity to go further with his life by developing a travelling stage show of entertainers. His new wife, Kathryn, because of her mother's friendship with the town's most skilled gambler, came with an impressive dowry. After convincing his young belle that his vision was financially sound and charming her solicitously into marriage, he had immediately invested the money in a purpose built saloon, allowing his wife to use her skills as an accountant and a shrewd businesswoman to manage it. In those heady days of a new relationship, and wanting away from the restraints normally imposed on womenfolk Kathryn was swept away by the idealistic visions of Eddie.

Kathryn Chesney had met and fallen in love with Eddie Rosario while working in a concert hall as a can-can dancer. He had been the gentle crooner that filled the gaps between the dancer's appearances. At the time, he was a sweet, gentle man and she'd been more than swept away by his charms and his professed business acumen. Sold by his passion, his belief, and his offer of financial partnership she had personally convinced her family friend, Sam Brown, to provide the dowry for her marriage so that the young couple could fulfil their dream of owning and running a saloon. Since then, fuelled by her desire to hold some kind of independence from the men in her life, Kathryn had steadfastly worked to build the reputation of Saloon Rosario.

As the years passed Kathryn Rosario was left to carry the Rosario Saloon. She soon realized that her husband was unable to maintain a legal business effectively and had turned to crime. A sharp shooter and a ruthless man he'd soon found the easiest way to line his pocket was to draw local businessmen into the idea of his travelling entertainment show, only to entice them into a late night rendezvous where his alter ego challenged them to a duel. Eddie Roswall, as the seedier side of Reno life knew him, was a skilled marksman: what he lacked in business nous he made up for with predatory acumen. In each and every duel he initiated he promptly won and pocketed all the money. The first man to fall to his gun toting ways was Kathryn's benefactor, Sam Brown. Nobody but nobody stood a chance against this man's sharp shooting skill: many had tried and many had fallen.

It was the death of her beloved friend at the hands of an unknown gunman, followed by a sudden influx of cash into the business that had first triggered Kathryn's investigative mind. An intelligent woman at heart, she soon realized by checking and auditing accounts that Eddie was in debt by thousands of dollars. Careful observation of her husband's actions, along with numerous deaths of businessmen at the hands of an unknown assailant followed by an immediate cash investment into the Rosario coffers, led her to believe that her husband was at the root of all these deaths. One night, she'd followed him to one of his pre-arranged business deals, watching in horror as he challenged the man to a duel and promptly shot him dead, with no obvious remorse.

Further observations meant she now knew her husband to be the notorious outlaw Eddie Roswall, stealing from and then killing many of the local businessmen. With these revelations came the added sleight of realizing that she was no longer the only woman in her husband's life. Eddie Rosario had a wandering eye, using the charm that had helped to capture the young Kathryn's heart to woo all the impressionable dancers of the day.

Despite this added revelation and despite the dirty money coming into what she now saw as her business, Kathryn still had her pride and her desire for escape, and she was determined to continue to build her business into the best saloon in Reno. Now 40 years of age and with a young daughter, Kathryn found the hours long and the days wearying, and yet she was determined to make it work.

A beautiful blonde with twinkling blue eyes she could turn the eye of any man that cared to enter her saloon. An added dry wit and caustic tongue meant that her saloon was always full, and always satisfied even the most hardened cowboys that frequented the bar. No longer in love with her husband, coupled with the long hard days, led Kathryn to feel a deep sense of loneliness. For someone as beautiful and outgoing as the blonde, this was hard to bear, and yet making friends was difficult. Working in such a prominent venue left little option for taking male friends; the Wild West was not the most accommodating place for a single woman, never mind a woman that was still, to all intents and purposes, a married woman. Working in the male domain of a saloon bar allowed very little chance for meeting female companions either.

So, the appearance six months previously, of a young woman into the male stronghold had been more than a novelty and an obvious target for the wanting Kathryn.

Saz Mosey, a tall and beautiful brunette was a local conundrum, a successful female in a man's world. Orphaned at twenty when her mother had shot and killed her father before then turning the gun on herself, Saz had been left the family ranch to manage. Steadfastly refusing all attempts at making her conform to the norm by taking a husband and releasing the reins into his more appropriate care, now in her early 30's, she was making a more than successful career at ranch-holding.

With a slight gap between her two front teeth, an amazing memory for facts and figures, and a love of all things numerical and scientific, the young woman had entranced the older saloon manager with her tales of her travels to places that Kathryn had never dreamed of. Saz was a confident and expert horsewoman, with the ability to convince men that they were being manly as they tended her land, while she continued to cavort across the desert and beyond. While the men worked for her, she'd taken her chance to escape the drudgery of the average Nevadan female and made a name for herself as a cowgirl in all sense of the word.

Needless to say the two strong but so very different women had quickly become firm friends.

Sitting looking out at the approaching storm Kathryn's mind wandered back over that friendship. Six months of regular get-togethers: over the saloon bar when Kate was working; over the kitchen table during Kate's breaks; and over long lazy horse rides whenever it could be organized; all had deepened the friendship she shared with the younger Saz.

Surprisingly, Saz had also turned out to be a wonderful companion for her young daughter too. While the girl's father cavorted with numerous young women and increasingly turned to heavy drinking sessions, Kathryn made the saloon work, while Saz minded the young girl.

Smiling inwardly, the blonde bar owner acknowledged that Saz was both a blessing and a curse regarding her young daughter's upbringing. On the one hand, she was teaching her effectively and unstintingly, not only in educational matters but also in matters of life and nature; on the other hand she was teaching her to be an independent and emancipated young girl. At heart, Kathryn didn't care: Laurie was happy, Saz was happy, and for the first time in a long time Kathryn was happy.

A few weeks ago, during one of their protracted horse rides, Saz had declared her desire to be more than just Kathryn's friend. Astonished and amused that the beautiful younger woman could even think that she was in love with her, Kathryn had laughed and, in a way, belittled Saz's words. Letting things lie until the two women were alone, Saz had laughed with her.

Later that night she had spoken earnestly and truthfully, telling Kathryn that she was all that Saz had ever needed, and that neither the age-gap nor the fact they were both women was going to deter her. The older woman had then challenged her friend to court her and woo her as no other.

Deep inside Kathryn had already acknowledged that she shared Saz's feelings, but, devoid of any real affection for so many years, she was determined to have the proof of Saz's intentions before risking her livelihood on a relationship.

Saz was true to her word though, plying Kathryn with flowers, scribed poetry, gentle touches, and gentle words until there was no way Kathryn could resist the now openly expressed devotion in Saz's actions and gestures. Earlier this evening, Kathryn had pulled Saz into the kitchen of the saloon bar and enveloped the brunette in a hug. Pulling back and staring into the fathomless ebony eyes she had known that her own were twinkling with a desire she hadn't felt in years.

Never being afraid to take her chances, Kathryn took a great leap into the unknown, leaning forward and taking the brunette's lips gently with her own. The lip massage that ensued was so loving that both women melted into the other's body. As Saz groaned at the sensation, Kathryn allowed her tongue to slip between perfect lips, taking and tasting all the young woman could give her. Kate's answering moan allowed Saz to turn the tables and accept what was being offered her in return.

Eventually, regretfully, pulling back from each other, the two friends could only stare in wonder at what they had just shared. Quietly but truthfully Saz reiterated her love for Kathryn, and allowed her heart to miss a beat as Kathryn returned the words, murmured softly across the brunette's kiss swollen lips.

Holding each other close, the women allowed their hands to gently stroke and caress, finally able to express the feelings that had been building steadily between them since their first meeting. Gentle kisses once more accelerated into actions much more base in nature. So intent were they with each other, the two soon-to-be lovers failed to hear the click of an outer door opening.

Eddie Rosario had chosen this very moment to finally return from a week long spying operation on his main competitor in the entertainment traveling show arena. Finally accepting that Buffalo Bill's traveling show was of much better quality than his own could ever be, he had returned early to take out his frustrations on his wife. Walking into his home and seeing the vision before him, his anger knew no bounds: his wife was kissing another; and a woman to boot.

As Eddie's anger exploded, the two women turned. Thrusting her love behind her, Kathryn bravely faced her husband; she knew she was in the wrong, but had finally had enough of Eddie to try and reason the situation out with her words. Receiving a slap for her troubles, Kathryn was powerless to stop Eddie manhandling Saz. Knowing that she too was basically in the wrong, Saz refused to fight back. Accepting the beating for what it was, after all if someone tried to take Kate away from her after what they had just shared, she would do exactly the same, she fell to the floor in a ball and waited out the anger.

Kathryn, however, knew her husband. She knew that he was ruthless enough to kill if he wasn't stopped, but she also knew that somewhere underneath his bad-side there lay a man who had once had some integrity. Believing that he used the challenge of a duel against his business opponents as a means to "legalize" his murderous intentions, she played the only card she could: Eddie's honor v. Saz's honor.

Stopped in his tracks by his wife's words, Eddie Rosario had halted his punches, pulled Saz to her feet, and offered his hand to shake. Pulling a spare revolver out of his holster he had handed it to Saz with a whispered destination and time, then turned with nary a glance towards Kathryn as he left.

Staring into each other's eyes, the women heard the retreating sound of Eddie's horse. Saz sighed, threw down Eddie's gun, and quickly checked the Colt 45 hidden in her baggy breeches. With one soft kiss to Kathryn's lips, knowing that anything more would hinder her mind preparations, she followed Eddie to their appointment.

Kathryn touched her lips gently and started to pace the Kinlin floor, awaiting the return of her fate.

"Everyone heard two shots ring out,
the shot made Liberty fall
The man who shot Liberty Valance,
he shot Liberty Valance,
he was the bravest of them all."

Riding across the eerily silent town towards destiny, the winning gunslinger chuckled. It was a little known fact that Saz Mosey was a distant relative of the more famous Annie Oakley.

Dismounting quietly and tying her trusted steed up carefully, she glanced towards her sleeping daughter's room, seeing the lamp blazing warmly, as if to welcome her home, she started at the sound of the opening saloon door. Before she had time to raise her head in acknowledgment, she was engulfed in two strong, loving arms, and swept up into a kiss that took her breath away.

All she had ever wanted was being expressed in the two clear blue eyes staring into her dark ebony pair. Here was the love of her life and here was now. She grinned at Kathryn and gently wiped the tear tracks off the older woman's cheeks. Leaning forward, she kissed the waiting lips and took the hand that was being offered to her in invitation. Turning, the two women walked into the Rosario Saloon content in the knowledge that this was now their destiny.

Saz glanced back over her shoulder one last time and the whispered words that Kathryn murmured in her ear finally blew her demons away.

"Bravest of them all."

The End

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