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A Hazzard County Christmas-BoJamesDuke and DaisyMaeDuke


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***Just when you thought it was safe to read these forums, BoJames and I return. This is a little story that I came up with that Bo so graciously agreed to write with me...dedicated to those who need help getting into the Christmas spirit this year***

Daisy leaned against the weather-beaten back door of the farmhouse, her slender arms around her stomach, just watching her cousin some yards away. Her lip quivered a little, so she bit it gently to stop it- the last thing this family needed was for her to break down crying...especially now that she was able to get to sleep without sobbing herself into it every night.

It had been a hard year for the Duke family...financially, yes, but that was nothing new. The Dukes never had had much in the way of material posessions or monetary gain...and because you don't miss what you never had, they never thought of themselves as poor. Especially not when they were so rich in things like love and family, the things money couldn't buy. This year though, they had lost Uncle Jesse, and the whole Duke family was rocked to its core.

His passing affected all three cousins considerably, before the gentle healer called Time slowly enveloped Daisy and Bo, disipating the pain little by little.

Luke was another story.

It surprised her somewhat how hard Luke was taking this. After all Jesse was not the only father he ever knew as was the case with Bo. And it wasn't as if he had never experienced death. He had seen it with his aunt, and every day in the jungles of Viet Nam. Swallowing the words of her uncle came back to her when Luke had unknowingly swallowed a personality-altering drug: "Ive been through everything with Luke..." Everything. That was the key. Luke and their uncle had had a bond that surpassed even the fatherly bond he had with Bo. Of the three cousins, Luke alone would sometimes call him Jesse, without the uncle. Daisy had always thought that a bit disrespectful but now...now she began to understand. Uncle Jesse had been more than an uncle and father to Luke...he had been one of the few people that Luke considered a friend.

"I'm worried about him," she'd said to Bo before Jesse had passed, but when they knew it was just a matter of time. "You know what he's gonna do....it'll be just like with Auntie...he'll work himself sick."

Bo had agreed and together they came up with a plan of labor that would keep Luke occupied, but nothing too strenuous. To their surpise, however, Luke didn't overwork himself. In fact, he didn't do much at all.

Luke had always been quiet- the reflective one of the family. Now, aside from chores, he did nothing except sit outside, in the loft or under a tree as he was now. Last night she woke to find the attic light on. Going upstairs, she discovered Luke had fallen asleep, a picture of Jesse in his hands. She covered him gently with a blanket and left quietly, not wanting to embarrass him in any way.

She didn't know if Bo realized how sad Luke really was. Bo, in typical Bo-fashion, was excited about the holidays, and though the shadow of his uncle's death loomed over the household, Bo was the type of person that had the Christmas spirit year-round. No...she doubted. Bo probably doesn't know...he doesn't wash the tear-stained pillowcases.

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Unbeknownst to Daisy though, Bo did know how sad Luke was. As cheesy as it would sound to people outside the family, he knew Luke better than he knew himself...better than Luke knew himself and visa versa. Luke was in all respects his brother first and foremost, his best friend second and his cousin third and through thick and thin they had fought through everything that had ever come their way together. But that was all different now...now Luke was shutting him out, he was shutting everyone and everything out.

The reason it seemed he didn't notice wasn't because he didn't, he wasn't that blind to his cousin's feelings...the simple fact was it hurt. His Uncle, his father, was gone...they had known it was coming, they had all talked about it happening with Jesse and it was agreed he was long overdue to return to his wife's side behind the pearly gates. Nothing had prepaired them really for it though. When their parents had been taken from them, they had had Uncle Jesse and Aunt Lavinia to guide them, when Lavinia had left they still had Uncle Jesse...now...they were alone. They were grown ups left to continue their lives in the manner they had been taught...all that guidence was now going to have to be taken from memories and experience alone. All they had left was each other.

That was why it hurt to see Luke doing what he was doing, to watch as Luke just walked by him without a 'Good Morning' comment or even a teasing banter match about how his wild curls looked in the morning. He had always been able to rely on Luke to guide him through the worst of times...this time, he had never felt more alone. He hadn't just lost the only father figure he had ever known, now his brother was gone too. So, instead of continuing to try and get some kind of response from Luke, he left him to it and continued on his own, helping Daisy as much as he could.

That was why, as Luke sat under the tree outside doing whatever it was he did when he spent so much time alone just staring at the sky or at a picture or some other inanimate object, Bo was inside decorating the house for Christmas time. He had dragged the boxes down from the attic on his own and was happily singing christmas songs as he hung up the bright, colourful decorations.

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Daisy smiled gently as she heard Bo, going back inside. "Looks real nice, sugar," she said in an attempt to sound more chipper than she felt.

Already the small farmhouse seemed to have begun its transformation, with strings of holly all around, mistletoe hung inconspicuously over the doorway, and the stockings bearing their owners' names, hung on the mantle. The scent of cinammon was in the air, and the hint of sugar cookies danced in the air.

Luke did his best to not notice any of it. Why his cousins even wanted to celebrate was beyond him. To Luke Christmas was just another day; another day without his uncle. He wanted nothing to do with it.

Sighing he leaned his head against the tree. His heart panged with hurt, but he told no one. After all, Jesse was gone. There was nothing anyone could do about that.

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Looking over from where he was hanging up the tinsel around the large doorway that seperated the kitchen from the lounge, Bo beamed his usual childlike, christmas grin at her. He may have been feeling down, hurt, upset...but Christmas was the one time of year that he refused to not enjoy. Ever since he was little, the season had always been magical in one form or another, when it brought friends close and even enemies that little bit closer to being friends. It was a time when the family usuall just let off steam and had some fun. He could remember years gone by when - as Jesse had once reminded them - he and Luke had hung bells on Maudine the Mule...when he and Luke had grabbed the chckens and painted some red and some green so that when they stood in the right places and had gazed out the window, they looked like little bunches of holly waddling their way around the yard...when Daisy had once added a little something extra in the cookie batter one year so that when Bo and Luke snuk them, their tongues were greeted with the hot taste of chilli powder. Yes, christmas was his favourite time of year, besides April Fool's Day, and he was determined not to let anything spoil it.

"Well thanks Dais, I'm gonna go pick out a tree a little bit later, you wanna come with?"

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Daisy hesitated. Normally she loved to go Christmas Tree hunting with the boys. It was something they did every year. But now...

"No...I better stay near home.... Luke...he ain't actin' right..." She didn't say what she feared...that he was slipping away from them much like he had when he first returned from Nam.

Quietly she picked up a bow laying on the floor, securing it to the wall. "I'm real worried about him Bo...ever since Jesse died...he...he's drawn further and further away...it scares me..."

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Nodding a little as he listened and continued to put up decorations, he could already hear the uncertainty in her voice in her first word. He had already really figured that she wouldn't go, not with Luke being so like he was, but he kept the smile on his face and put a positive spin on it instead as he was so used to doing now. It was how he coped with it all, he had to find something positive to get through the days otherwise he'd end up like Luke.

"Yeah I guess someone better baby-sit him...its alright, I'll ask Cooter if he wants t'come. I know he's gotta get his anyway, we can help each other out. You wanna continue this while I call him?"

He smiled as he flicked the end of the tinsel over his cousin's shoulder, heading for the phone, choosing to disregard the end of the comment. He knew Luke was slipping away, Daisy said something about it every day. He knew she was scared, he was too, but the same conclusion they always came to in the end was that there was nothing they could do about it. Luke wouldn't talk to anyone close to him, much less someone he didn't know who could help - like a grief councellor or psychiatrist...the only one who could help Luke wasn't around anymore. It was down to Luke himself to either accept help, pull himself out of it or....well he didn't like to think what the end of that thought was. He couldn't promise her that everything would be okay in the end, for once he didn't know it would be. All he knew was that he had to hang on to what little he could now, and start moving his life forward with the people he had left...if Luke eventually decided to get on that band wagon and join in that process then he'd welcome him with open arms and help him....if not...well he was all prepaired to continue alone.

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What Daisy might have said never got voiced because as she went to say something, Luke walked in going straight to his room without a word to anyone.

"Luke? Luke you hungry? There's food in the..." She swallowed as his bedroom door slammed shut. "Fridge," whispers softly.

She looked down sadly. She WAS worried for Luke....and there seemed to be nothing she could do to help him.

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Bo glanced up as Luke stalked through the farmhouse, ignoring both him and Daisy and slamming the bedroom door so the house rattled. Biting his lip softly, he looked over at Daisy who looked as though she was going to cry...as close as he and Luke were, Daisy and Luke shared something special too. When something emotional was bothering Luke, he usually always went to Daisy first, taking long walks in the rain to talk together....that had stopped now and it had clearly affected Daisy - something Bo hated. Luke could freeze him out, could freeze the whole world out...but being nasty to Daisy when all she would do was be an angel and accept whatever was being thrown at her so he didn't get upset was unbearable.

Sighing gently, he put the phone he had picked up down and crossed over to his sister, wrapping his arms around her and holding her close softly as he rubbed her back gently.

"Aww Daisy....please don't be so upset...don't let him do this t'you..."

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Daisy hugged into Bo, life-size teddy-bear that he was, whimpering softly against his shirt, "Why...why is he doing this?"

She just couldn't understand. When things bothered her, the last thing Daisy wanted was to deal with them on her own. She would seek out girlfriends to talk to, take long confiding walks with Luke, and in the past crawl into her uncle's lap and tell her tender troubles to him just as she had when a little girl.

Luke had never been one to ask for help, though he usually never shut people out like this. Sooner or later he would open up....particularly with Bo. But now even Bo was being shut out..it was almost as if the eldest Duke was refusing to care about anyone or anything again...Christmas meant nothing to him.

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"Its just what he does Daisy...just leave him to it...there's nothin' we can do darlin you know that...if we try he'll just dig in his heels and pull away harder...I guess this is just somethin we gotta accept...maybe face the fact that one day when we wake up...his bed'll be empty too..."

Swallowing gently, he squeezed her close a little bit tighter before letting her go, resting his hands on her shoulders and making her look up at him.

"You can't keep panderin' t'him Daisy...he doesn't want you to care, he doesn't want any attention....come pick out a tree with me...please? Lets do it t'gether...then invite Cooter round...some of yer friends too and have a good night...it aint christmas eve or anythin but its too quiet round here when it should be excitin...we haven't stopped our lives, don't let Luke stop it for you..."

He knew what he was saying would seem insensitive and out of character to anyone outside the family who knew him, but he just couldn't handle being frozen out by the one person he had looked up to the most all his life. It wasn't fair, and it made him as unhappy as Daisy was...he had to hold it together to get them both through this, if he could help Daisy then at least he hadn't completly failed the family.

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Daisy swallowed, nodding slightly. "Okay Bo...if...if you think that's..."

She stopped as the bedroom door flew open. "You think I cant hear you?! Why don't you say it to my face?!" fumed Luke angrily, his face a shade redder than it had been. If I'm such a damper on your damn holiday, maybe I'll just leave...then you all can really celebrate!"

Daisy shook her head. "No...Luke please...please...."

Luke clenched his jaw, anger evident on his face, but in his eyes a deep look of loss.

"We're just worried about you sugar...we both are..." she added, not sure if the latter was true or not but hoping Luke believed it.

"Just cuz I don't wanna celebrate the stupid holidays aint no reason to get your feathers in a ruffle," he countered back.

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Bo couldn't help but jump a little as the bedroom door flew back open, frowning at the color Luke had gone and how mad he seemed. Quickly though, the confusion changed to anger as Luke yelled at Daisy, taking a protective step in front of her so he was between them. Shaking his head, he let loose with his own yell, his hot temper faliring instantly.

"Hey! For starters, don't you dare talk t'Daisy like that when she's done nothin but try and talk to you and help you through this unbearable attitude you got on! She's done nothin t'you but try and be supportive and all you've done is throw it back in her face!"

Shaking his head as Daisy put a hand on his arm, he shrugged it off gently and continued.

"And as for not wanting to celebrate the holiday's Luke, you don't wanna do ANYTHING! What else are we supposed t'do but carry on without you! Here's something novel, not all of us are in a permanant greiving period, some of us have come to terms with the fact that Uncle Jesse AIN'T comin back, that we've got lives to live!"

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Luke went to say something but the words refused to come out. So long as no one mentioned his uncle he could manage...almost pretend that he wasn't truly gone...that this was indeed a nightmare from which he'd wake.

Daisy sniffed softly feeling trapped. Always before their uncle had been there to oversee any spats between them. It was times like this where she missed him most.

"I...I'm sorry Daisy...I...I didnt mean...t yell at you," faltered Luke looking very much on the verge of tears with every word though in typical Luke-fashion he refused to let them fall.

Daisy nodded. " I know."

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Clenching his jaw, Bo watched the gentle reconcilliation, or what could pass for one for the moment in the old farm house anyway. Slowly, his fists that had clenched in anticipation of a fight released and he moved them to rest on his hips, still standing in front of Daisy as if shielding her from any more hurt that Luke may choose to let loose with.

"Now...if you don't wanna celebrate Christmas with us then fine...but at least be civil and eat properly and actually be with us. You don't have to celebrate a holiday, but family is family at this time of year and it aint fair that you don't include yerself with us anymore..." he said firmly, deciding while Luke was listening that he would at least try and get through to him and give him some structured orders. If it had worked in Nam and sometimes in the aftermath of it, it might work here. If Luke had a focus or a goal, he was more succesful in fulfilling it.

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Luke simply nodded. "Whatever you say," he said meekly. The truth was he was too tired to argue his point. Besides, he knew himself that he had been rude with them lately...of course he had his reasons for it, but they didn't know that and he wasnt sure he could actually put a name on them anyway.

"I...best get started on the chores," he said softly. With his head hung low he slowly made his way out to the barn.

Daisy sighed. "It's been a long time since I seen him that upset..."

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Bo didn't say anything more to Luke as he made his excuses and once more left the farmhouse, sighing heavily and scrubbing a hand down his face as he turned back to Daisy with as gentle a smile as he could muster for her as she spoke. Gently he pulled her back into a hug, more because he needed one now than she did, resting his chin on the top of her head gently.

"I know...maybe I was too harsh but...I just don't know how to handle him anymore...I don't know him anymore..." he admitted softly, swallowing hard as silence fell between them, glancing back to the decorating he had been doing. Sighing gently, he eventually pulled back. "I'm gonna get on the phone t'Cooter...see about gettin that tree...wanna get it early before all the good ones are gone..."

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Daisy hugged him gently. "Maybe he needed to hear it honey...half the time I don't know that he even realizes..." she hesitated. "It's almost like he is in his own world...his own...hurt...reminds me of Nam...when he came home and didnt talk about it...didnt think we could understand...." She shook her head softly. "You did what you had to do...now why dontcha go hang out with Cooter a bit...get your mind off things.... and pick out a nice tree...one that wont lose its needles all over my floor like last year," she teased gently.

Luke, meanwhile, was softly curry-combing Maudine the mule. If anyone noticed the extra attention Luke gave to the mule they probably would have laughed had the reason not been so sad. He brushed her twice a day, fed her apples and sugar,her water was always fresh and her bed of hay always clean enough to eat off of. He scratched behind her ears whenever he passed, talking to her whenever he could. The night before he even brought her out an extra blanket to ensure she wasn't too cold from the barn drafts.

Maudine made no complaints. Rather she just rested her head on Luke's shoulder, or nibbled his sleeve gently as if to say "I know what you feel....I miss him too."

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As the conversation came to a close, Bo headed back to the phone and dialled his friends number. It had been a while since he'd been able to just relax with any of his friends around the town, or any of the girls for that matter. Things had been so hectic, too busy to continue with the lifestyle he used to live - heck he couldn't even remember the last time he'd taken the General out to stretch his legs.

Listening to the gentle ringing in his ear as he waited for his friend to pick up, he leant against the wall, just gazing around. It was amazing how just the loss of one thing in your life could make a room that should be filled with happy memories seem so empty. Before he could dwell on it anymore though, he couldn't help but smile as a cheerful voice sounded.

"Heeello, you got Cooter Davenport this end..."

"Well hey you ol' Grease Monkey..."

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Daisy returned to the kitchen, continuing with the holiday baking.

Luke soon finished up with Maudine and slowly climbed the rickety steps to the loft. He remembered as a kid spending a lot of time up here. It used to help him sort his thoughts, and often times calm him when his quick temper exploded. Now it was a refuge...a place of solitude to mourn for the uncle he longed for. He allowed himself to sink into the sweet-smelling hay, losing himself in his thoughts.

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It wasn't long before Bo was heading into town, the orange paint of the General gleaming where Luke had, of course, given him a full wash and wax as well as cleaning every nook and cranny inside the race car. The engine had never been so smooth and it made the perfect soothing noise to accompany the gentle, crisp breeze that whipped softly through his hair. He had forgotten how much just driving around in the back roads of Hazzard made life seem that much eaisier.

All too soon though, the ride came to an end as he pulled up at Cooter's garage, ready to head out on their mission to find a christmas tree that not only would look perfect....but would also drop as many pine needles on Daisy's floor as possible. Grinning, he slid out to be greeted with a pair of feet sticking out from underneath a car, heading to him.

"Cooter I toldja when I was comin' over and yet yer still here workin!"

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Cooter slid out from under the car grinning like a cheshire cat. "Well now buddy-roe....someone's gotta work."

He stood up, wiping his greasy hands on his greasier pants, though there seemed to be no improvement in his hygeine.

"Just let me change an' we can go." With that he hurried upstairs and changed into a not-so-dirty shirt and pants, calling down, "We going same place we went last year?"

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Bo laughed and nodded in agreement to the work statement. While no one would argue the fact that the DUkes worked hard on their farm, it was always a long running joke with Cooter that not only did he and Luke used to keep Cooter in buisness, they added a whole nother work load onto him in the form of the General and the amount of times he got wrecked. At least there were some things that hadn't and hopefully would never change.

Leaning against the General, he listened as Cooter clomped his way up into the small space in the upstairs of his garage and nodded even though his friend couldn't see.

"Yeah I figured so Cooter, after years of searchin fer the right place that one has been the only place we've ever really had good luck in findin the right trees..." he called back, squinting against the sun as he looked up at the old building that sometimes was like a second home to him. If there was ever trouble or he just needed to get away, he always knew he could rely on this place.

"Bo Duke!"

It wasn't so much the shout that made him jump and give a yell as it broke him from his reverie, but the hand that clamped itself on his shoulder at the same time. Quickly he spun round, only to be greeted by the sight of both Rosco and Boss Hogg.

"Rosco what're you playin' at?! You dang near gave me a heart attack!"

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"That ain't nothin' compared t' what yer gonna be feelin'" began Boss smugly as he took out a cigar.

Cooter came down the stairs. "What're you playin' at Boss?"

"Me? I ain't playin' at nothin'... I'm here on official county business. Show him Rosco!"

At Boss's command Rosco handed Bo a stack of tickets. Now, these here are all the unpaid tickets you got away with...but I'm not gonna make ya pay 'em...not so close to Christmas..."

He smiled angelically to Bo it clear that he had other intentions.

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Clenching his jaw a little, Bo didn't say a word as the tickets were handed to him, instead taking the time to flick through them slowly and read the kind of trumped up charges he was used to being written on these tickets....and actually manage to have a little bit of a chuckle at how mis-spelled most of them were. However, there was nothing funny about the amounts on those tickets and how much they were all totalling up to as he flicked through them.

"Boss, for starters you's made half of these tickets up...or maybe not you but Rosco has 'cause most of these is spelled wrong...and secondly, what is it you want?"

Rosco scowled and stepped a bit closer to Bo...though not much considering Bo was not only that much taller than he was, without Luke around there was no one to stop Bo punching first and asking questions later...Cooter sure as heck enjoyed a good fight.

"Don't you be accusin the Boss of that Bo Duke! He's lettin' you outta them ticket charges outta the goodness of his heart, you should be thankful!"

Bo couldn't help but give a laugh, shaking his head.

"Who you tryin' t'kid Rosco? Only thing he's got in that chest o'hs is lard lard an' more lard...."

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Boss gave a huff. "Now you listen here Bo Duke! I have half a mind to have Rosco arrest you right here and now! But...given that it is the holiday season...I'm gonna let ya off easy...with community service," said Boss a sense of triumph in his voice.

Cooter snickered from where he stood on the steps. "Community Service? What type of community service would that be Boss? Linin' yer big fat wallet?"

Boss Hogg glared at him. If he wasn't the only mechanic in town and the only one who could fix the wrecked patrol cars in such a short time they were back chasing speeders the same day he would have had some choice words for him. But Boss knew who he had over a barrel and who he didn't. And right now he had Bo Duke.

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