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Sheriff Lucius Hartwell watched her until he was sure she was fully sedated. Her eyes remained open and fearful, even so she somehow managed to clench her fists and he was certain she would fight back if she was able to. The show of defiance didnít surprise him. Her confident and independent attitude and bearing were among the reasons he found her so attractive. He smiled, and the green halo of his eyes faded. He touched her face tenderly.

Hartwell got out of the 4x4 and walked around to the passengerís door. He opened it and put his arms around her to heave her out. He adjusted his balance under her weight which he took easily, and her head lolled onto his shoulder. He felt her tremble and she looked up at him, mouth slightly open, completely helpless, eyes glistening. He held her tighter.

"Iím sorry, Dana, but this here is how itís got to be." Hartwell carried her into the cemetery where he selected a suitable headstone and leaned her back against it in a sitting position. Her eyes had finally closed. He tilted her head to get to her neck and moved in very close. He felt her carotid pulse with his fingers, then nodded.

"Yeah youíll be just fine." He glanced up. The night air was very cold and the fog which had rolled in had now settled. "Looks like a little rainís a cominí," he said, so he took off his raincoat and dressed her in it, buttoning it all the way up to her neck and neatly turning the collar down. "Donít want you to catch your death now, do we?"

Hartwell could hear the distant commotion coming from town. Suddenly there came a piercing, single scream, and he shook his head as he leaned an arm across his knee.

"Reckon your partnerís kickiní up a little fuss in town, Dana. I got to go. Got to pack up."

He brushed the hair from her face and sighed wistfully. "You are one good lookiní woman, you know that? First time I laid eyes on you, I knew youíd be my down fall one way or another." There was real regret in his voice, and not just because of the fact that the community had finally been found out.

Hartwell watched her sleeping for a moment or two then took the badge off his shirt and studied it fondly. "Guess I wonít be neediní this no more." He paused, reflective, apologetic. "I just want you to know I tried to keep the peace." He carefully pinned it onto the raincoat, directly over Scullyís heart. "Shoot, Iím thinkiní, just this little time with you? Kind of makes this all worth while somehow." He took her hands in his and leaned tentatively forward to brush her cheek with his lips, savouring every second of the contact, and, taken by the moment, he went a little further. With a hand on her neck he lifted her chin with his thumb and kissed her softly.

Finally he drew back, ran gentle fingers along the line of her jaw and whispered: "Iím sorry itís got to be like this. Goodbye, Dana."

Harwell got up and walked away, determined not to look back and be tempted to stay longer, but at the 4x4 just outside the cemetery gates, he stole one more look at the sleeping figure, nodded and smiled.


Even as everything heíd worked for was crumbling around him, he knew he had to get his people organised and moving. Despite everything, Sheriff Hartwell was still the local law.

--end of file--

C L Goodwin 1998