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Christmas Season of Hope

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(This is going to be an RP between Roger and myself. A Christmas story to spread the Christmas spirit and cheer to our readers. A little Christmas story, Hazzard style. ;) )

*Bo Duke sat on the front porch, smelling the cold crisp air of late fall, as his mind was full of the holiday that lies ahead. Christmas. Just the name of Christmas brings a smile to his face. It was always a season of thanks, a season of giving, a season of love and hope. A season where everyone was warm and welcoming to everyong around. Even Boss Hogg and Sheriff Coltrane seemed to be more generous and caring to the people of Hazzard and didn't put up so much speed traps or go out of their way to frame Bo or his cousin, Luke.

Even though his favorite time of the year was just around the corner and it still brought the child like excitement within him, this year, he can't help but to feel down and sad. This year had been a hard year for every farmer from their crops to their animals. Nothing had seemed to go right and it was definately the same for the Dukes. Sure Christmas wasn't always about fancy gifts or the big meal that Daisy prepares every year, but to Bo, it wouldn't be the same not being able to go out and buy a special gift for his family or to have that big turkey dinner they always have.

But as Uncle Jesse has already said over and over again, almost as if trying to convince himself, that Christmas wasn't about gifts or the meal; it was about Jesus and celebrating his birth. It was about family and celebrating the many gifts they all had been blessed with. Which is what Jesse has always said about Christmas or any other holiday.

This year was definately not the only hard year that the Dukes had faced financial wise or farm wise, but to Bo and the others, it seemed worse than it had years before. And as they fight and struggle to put food on the table, pay their mortgage on time, and just to make ends meet, it all brings worry to Bo. Worry that this year, Christmas will come and pass as any other day. That Christmas will be just another day.

Sighing heavily, Bo is quick to jump to his feet, feeling restless after sitting on the swing for a couple of minutes. A couple of minutes of premature worry of what the Christmas season will bring or lack bringing. Deep down, he knows he has his family, his health, and his friends and as always things will work out. If not, then it wasn't meant to be. Worrying about it would only waste time and energy.

"There you are, Beaureguard," Bo is quick to turn around at the familiar voice just as Luke steps out of the farm and onto the porch. Bo inhales deeply to gain composure over his temper at Luke using the name he hated so much. The name he used to poke and prod at him in order to upset him, the name Luke often used when he himself was mad at him. "you were suppose to meet me at the barn ten minutes ago. What's your problem?"

"I don't have a problem," Bo quickly snaps at his cousin, feeling tense and upset enough as it was, "I figured since you ran off to get something in our room, I'd wait for you on the porch rather than in the barn. You're the one that was hiding in the house when we shoulda gotten a head start on our chores."

Luke shakes his head and digs his hands into his back pockets. "I went out the side door. You know, the one closest to the barn," his voice is thick of sarcasm, "Now that we wasted our time waitin' on each other, let's get started on that fence you wrecked yesterday messing around."

Bo takes a deep breath and sighs once more. "It wasn't I that wrecked the fence, it was Cooter and his lack of ability to drive a car," Bo throws back at him before walking past Luke and down onto the driveway.

"Blame Cooter all you want," Luke slowly joins him, "but it was you who challenged him to a race. Not him or I. But seeing how I'm nice and all," Luke places a caring hand upon Bo's shoulder, "I've agreed to help you fix your mistake. Let's get going so we can get it fixed and move onto the rest of our chores."

Bo nods slowly and follows his brown haired cousin to the farm where their tools and wood would be stored to fix the fence. Walking along side of Luke, Bo silently wonders how Luke could remain so calm and collected over any problem that comes their way whether it be from Hogg or money or the upcoming Christmas holiday.*

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This was the most relaxed Jesse had felt in months. The crops were in, the firewood stacked against the house, the bad shingles had been replaced and Maudeen the mule was fattened up for the winter.

As Jesse walked amongst the Blue Spruce just east of the back 40, he chose to focus only on the good things as he looked at the potential Christmas trees.

Yet, there were plenty of bad things....although the crops were in, they were skimpy due to the drought, the firewood had to be sprayed for termites, Jesse had to get a loan extension to fix the roof and Maudeen wasn't getting any younger.

Despite the negatives, nothing could keep Jesse down today. To him, this was the official start of Christmas, the day he picked a tree. His plan was to tie a red ribbon on it and have the boys cut it whenever the time came to do so.

Jesse thought of his childhood. One of the reasons he loved Christmas so much was that it gave him three reasons to celebrate. He loved to recall all the good times he had on the farm with his parents and grandparents. He loved to think about future and the great life ahead for Daisy, Bo and Luke. The third reason was the most important of all, the reason for the season. The birth of the Savior gave him a promise that when he passed on to the Promised Land, there would be a friend to great him.

As he was looking at the top of one of the trees trying to figure out if it was too tall for the living room, he heard a yell at a distance. It was Daisy. She walked quickly toward her uncle with a smile on her face.

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*Meanwhile across town an eight year old boy sits on the front porch of the large white building that stands proudly behind him. He stares ahead, yet sees nothing that lies ahead. Instead, the only thing that he's seeing is what is in his head. His thoughts lie fixated upon Christmas. Of the past few Christmases he remembers and of the Christmas that looms largely ahead of him. Christmas was always his favorite time of the year. Not only had Santa always came to his house and gave him everything he could possibly want and dream for, but his entire family got together and celebrated. Went to church. And everyone was in a great mood. Even his older brother who had often grouched at him and deemed him too young to be considered a friend or trust worthy.

But this year was going to be different. This year there wasn't going to be any family get togethers or celebration, there wouldn't be any going to church with grandma and grandpa, there wouldn't even be any sharing cake with his older brother. This year, Christmas and everything else would be different and the thought sends a tear to his eye.

Despite the Christmas tree that had been put up this morning with all the other decorations and everyone singing Christmas songs, Connor Harthens is dreading Christmas.

Ever since his parents and his brother had been killed in their car accident eight months ago, nothing has been the same to Connor. Life to him was no longer worth living. Everything was void and seemed to have little meaning. To him, life was no longer fair. First his parents and brother had been taken from him and then the rest of his family had quickly denied him due to their own personal reasons, leaving him an orphan in the Hazzard Orphanage. Where he seems out of place amongst all the other children that are running around in excitement for Santa to come.

Connor didn't care if Santa came or not. Through his early teachings at the church and at home, he knew that Santa wouldn't be giving him his parents and brother back no matter how good he had been the past year. There was nothing Santa could do to give him the life he once knew and loved.

Connor sighs heavily and hugs his thin knees against his chest, wishing he could just disappear or that everything around him would just disappear. Staring ahead, his heart aches heavily with the thought of the upcoming Christmas and of all that has been robbed of him yet he holds onto the thin hope of happiness tightly of remembering his past Christmases he had shared with his family. Knowing that he may have been robbed of his family and of a special Christmas this year, but he would always have the past Christmases to hold onto. To remember. It may not be much, but to Connor, the past is all that he feels he has to hold onto, to be happy about, the only place he finds hope and happiness at.*

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"Daisy!" yelled Jesse as his niece approached him. "I wasn't expecting you. This sure is a pleasent surprise."

"I got caught up on my chores and thought I'd come up here to see how you're doing. So, is this the one you picked Uncle Jesse?" Daisy put her head on her uncle's shoulder.

"I reckon so. What do ya think? Does it look to tall?"

"I think it'll be fine Uncle Jesse. We could just cut off the bottom a little and wittle away some of the bottom branches if we have to."

Jesse looked at the tree and smiled. "Something tells me this is going to be a great Christmas!" He tied the red ribbon to the top and walked with Daisy back to the farm.

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*Back at the farm, Bo cusses under his breath and takes a step back to look down at his hand to see a large splinter sticking half way in and half way out of the inside of his hand from the rough wooden beams they were using to rebuild the fence. "What is it?" Luke irritatedly asks before he joins Bo to look over his shoulder and rolls his eyes at his cousin, "It's just a splinter. Pull it out and let's get back to work. I want to be done before lunch. But the way you're going, we'll be here at midnight still working on it. With all your excuses."

"Mr. insensitive," Bo throws back at Luke before he looks at the large splinter, biting his lower lip, he quickly yanks the splinter out of his hand to look at it momentarily before throwing it on the ground. Looking back at his hand he sees small drops of blood form where the splinter had been at and he quickly pulls out his handkerchief to wipe the blood on it before stepping back to the fence. "What are you in such a hurry about, anyway? A hot date?"

"I wish," Luke states as he returns to the fence himself and bends down to pick up a large nail, "but seriously, I want to get this done so we can go into town and get signed up at the orphanage to help out with Christmas. Like we did last year."

"You are doing that again?" Bo asks.

Luke looks up at his cousin, surprised at his tone and his reluctance to help out at the orphanage. "Dang right we're doing it again. Those kids need Christmas to be special...they need to feel special. Those kids need people like us to bring cheer and excitement to them. Maybe you and Kyla are no longer an item," Luke spits out at Bo, speaking of his ex-girlfriend that he had been seeing last year when they had volunteered at the orphanage. Bo had been the one with the idea to help out in his attempt to patch up their relationship and to have an excuse to be with her. "But those kids still need you. Needs us. They need Christmas. So yeah, I am doing it again. As are you. Do I have to remind you what Christmas is about?"

"No," Bo slowly states, "I just wasn't sure we were doing it again. That's all."

Luke nods knowingly at his cousin before patting him on the back. "Sure you were," he winks at Bo, "Jesse and Daisy is signing up as well. Cooter even talked about signing up this year. See what you started last year?" Luke pauses as he bends down and begins hammering the nail into the wood, "So let's get this done and over with as so we can get into town and sign up. See what they need help with this year."

"Yes sir, Lukas," Bo tiredly states as the wind picks up to send chills running down his back.*

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Jesse and Daisy make it back to the farm and are just about to walk in when something catches the corner of Daisy's eye.

"So that's where those boys are. Look over there on the other side of the north field Uncle Jesse. That is Bo and Luke way over there isn't it?.....oh, that's they place where Cooter went through the fence."

*Jesse looks over at the direction Daisy is pointing*

"Yep, that's them. I sent them over there awhile ago. They should have been done by now....they're probably jawing about cars or girls or fishing or...."

Daisy interrupted "Or trying to figure out what they're getting me for Christmas"

Jesse laughs as he walked in the door.

*phone rings*

Jesse "I'll git it."

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*Luke takes a step back to take a final glance at the repaired fence as his mind floats from Bo's and Cooter's race yesterday that had taken out the fence to Christmas. Bo may not have the patience for all the yelling and screaming kids, but Luke couldn't wait to be able to help share some Christmas cheer with them. If it wasn't for Uncle Jesse, they'd all have grown up in that orphanage never knowing how it felt to be truly loved. Never knowing how it felt to be so blessed as Luke feels they all have been through life. True the orphanage had some great people working there to take care of and love each child, but Luke knows there is nothing compared to the love of a parent or an wise uncle. The staff at the orphanage was loving and caring and did all that they could do to reach each child's deepest needs, but they can't provide what each child needs. What each child deserves. Loving and caring parents. A loving and caring home.

Luke knows that each one of them children growing up in the orphanage must feel alone despite all the kids and people around them. Each child must feel a big piece of them is missing as if not being whole. And perhaps they feel forgotten about.

Luke knows and accepts that there is little that he or his family could do to erase the pain and suffering the children suffer due to their situation, but they could always do something to help. Offer some hope. Some happiness. Every little thing counts for something.

And since Uncle Jesse had stepped up to rescue Daisy, Bo, and Luke from being orphans themselves, Luke felt that they owed it to the children that weren't as lucky as they were. Which was why he wasn't about to let Bo back out from helping out at the orphanage or Daisy for that matter. Every day they had with Jesse, Luke considered a daily reminder of his blessings.

Breathing in deeply, he looks over at Bo who is packing up the tools. "Looks like we're done here. Let's head back to the house and see if Daisy is ready or able to take a trip into town with us to the orphanage. I'm sure the more to volunteer, will be for the better."

"Yeah sure," Bo states and Luke is quick to read up on his lack of enthusiasm and he pats Bo on the shoulder before grabbing the tools and they begin to walk back towards the house.

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*Jesse answers phone*

"Oh howdie Emma....and how are you?"

*Daisy watches as her uncle's face turns serious*

Jesse continues "Uh huh....uh huh.....I see....."

*He pauses for quite awhile waiting for the caller to finish talking*

"Well I reckon I can probably git into town sometime today. I'm not exactly sure when but when I git there I'll come see ya....okay...bye now."

*hangs up*

Daisy playfully smiles "Was that your girlfriend Jesse?"

Jesse pretends to be mad at Daisy's use of the word girlfriend. "No, it wasn't my girlfriend. It was Miz Tisdale."

Daisy continued smiling "It sounds like you two have a date."

Jesse responded "Don't you have more chores to do?"

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*Bo Duke slowly follows Luke up the drive way, his thoughts focused upon the lack of a Christmas it seems like they'll have this year. And it wasn't about the gifts, though he had seen a couple of things in town that he knew Jesse would love as well as Luke. Receiving gifts was always nice for Bo, but Bo found giving the gifts to his family and friends much more rewarding and fun. His thought of the lacking Christmas was the food that Daisy always made that brought everyone to the farm. Even Rosco and Boss. They may hunt and get the turkey and a few other meal items, but what about the rest? Then again, they didn't need food to just be together and to be thankful for what they did have.

Only to send his thoughts back to the orphanage. Not that he really minded helping out. Luke was right. They needed all the help that they could get to reach each child on Christmas. To make each child's Christmas as special as it can be. He couldn't imagine what those children are going through, how they must feel as they live each day in the orhanage without a parent or a guardian looking over them. If Jesse hadn't taken them in when their parents died. . .

The thought sends chills up and down his back. Only to send guilt rippling through him that he wasn't as eager as Luke was to lend a helping hand to the innocent children whose lives had been torn apart and shattered. Those children that weren't as lucky as he was to have someone step forward and take them in, to love them and raise them as Jesse had done for him.

What bothered him about going to the orphanage was seeing the children and knowing that most of those children will grow up not knowing the love of a parent or a guardian. That, that orphanage would be the only home they would know.

Then again, most of the children had been there since birth and didn't know anything different than the orphanage and the loving care that the staff works hard to lend to each child. Last year when he had helped out, all the children were running around yelling and screaming while a few had been quiet and withdrawn. The yelling and screaming kids running around him annoyed him and had him counting down the minutes before he could leave to find some peace and quiet. While the quiet and withdrawn kids had only made him feel guilty that he couldn't do more to help out.

"Looks like Daisy and Jesse are home," Luke states as they climb the porch steps and he opens the front door, allowing Bo to walk in before following him into the kitchen. When they walk in, Jesse has what looks to be a fake stern look on his face and Daisy's face is posed in a pounting position. "Looks like we've missed something Bo," Luke states and places a hand upon Bo's tense shoulder, "but as seeing as the two of you are here, thought I'd make an announcement. Bo and I are going into town and see what we can do at the orphanage to help out. Any of you want to come along and join us?"

Bo remains silent as he takes in his uncle and cousin's reaction as he waits for their answer, noticing how Luke had pretty much ordered him to come along and help while he had only asked Daisy if she wanted to help out. Bo quickly shrugs it off once again, acknowledging that Luke is right. It was the least that they could do to help out at the orphanage to make sure the children had a special Christmas. One that they could cherish and look back upon with fond memories.*

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*Jesse's eyes lit up*

"Well, this is workin' out perrty good. I need to head in there anyhow and it'll save a little gas if I go with you boys."

Daisy smiled "He's got a date."

Jesse acted mad but everybody could tell he wasn't. "I ain't got no date. I done told ya that's it just Emma Tisdale. She's needing to see me 'cause she has some personal problems involving family members."

Daisy didn't let up. She winked at Jesse "Sounds like a date to me."

*Jesse grabbed his red hat, smiling and ignoring his niece*

Daisy turned to Luke "Count me in. Just let me go grab my tip money in my room."

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*Back at the orphanage, Connor sits upon an old stump as the other kids his age runs around the playground playing ball, hide and seek, or on the play equipment. He has lived here for eight months and yet hasn't made any friends with any of the other children at the orphanage as he attempts to shut out the world that lives outside of him.

Hugging his knees close to him order to block out the cold air, he stares across the playground and beyond the fence; where freedom lies. Staring at the large fence that surrounds the playground, he can't help but feel as if he is trapped within the confines of the fence. As if in jail. And why? Because he was at a friend's house as his parents and brother had went into town only to die halfway to town. Leaving him trapped within the orphanage with no one to talk to or to trust.

Abruptly he senses a dark object coming at him and before he can block it the ball hits him in the head before bouncing away towards the slides. Pain throbs in his head and for a moment his vision is blurred as he looks up just as a couple of bigger kids come at him. "What's the problem, Connor?" the one known as Derrick states in a mocking tone, "Can't you even catch a ball?"

Several feet away several girls in dresses and their hair neatly combed into a poney tail continues to sing Christmas songs as they swing on the swings.

Connor watches the girls swing, annoyed with their happy singing, in attempt to ignore the bigger boys as he attempts to block out his emotions, knowing if he would allow his emotions to show, it would only egg the boys on as it had in the past. Being smaller than most boys his age and being a loner, the other kids often found it easy to pick on him. The other kids seem too afraid to stick up or be kind to him in fear that the bullying he got would turn onto them.

"He's incapable of such an easy task. Tell us, Connor, what is it that you are good at?" Derrick's friend speaks up as an adult slowly approaches them and he glances over at Derrick as Derrick is quick to run after the ball; his friend slowly follows him over to the swings to retrieve the ball. Connor watches them momentarily as they bring it back to the fence where they had been playing soccer with it before it had went over to him.

"You OK, Connor?" Ms. Patricia asks, bending down and putting a caring hand upon his thin shoulder, "Them boys giving you trouble?"

Connor only shrugs before shaking his head no, not wanting to bring trouble to them in fear of them bringing more trouble to him as it had last time. "I'm fine, Ms. Patricia."

She smiles at him. "Well perhaps you'd like to get up and play somewhere. I'm sure someone would want to play with you," she pauses and Connor is quick to shake his head no, "Well sitting here like this doesn't look too fun to me. Perhaps you'd like to come in and help me and Mr. William help put up some more Christmas decorations. You know Santa loves all the decorations you can get up. Perhaps he'll give you a little extra if you were to help out."

Connor eyes Ms. Patricia with a hint of excitement at the idea of decorating for Christmas, at the idea of being able to help out, at the idea that he could be of some use to someone other than to get in the way. Without a word, he slowly nods as he force himself off the stump, ready to follow her inside.

"I was hoping I could find some help. Mr. William will be delighted to have help putting up the lights," Ms. Patricia states as she starts to walk towards the orphanage, glaring over at Derrick and his friend, knowing of their bullying ways. Looking down at Connor she smiles, "Plus I've gotten wind that we may have some special friends stopping by any day now to help out around here. They'll just love you...I'm sure you'll like them too. They're hard not to like." With that she holds open the door for Connor before following him inside.*

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Daisy walked out of her bedroom and into the kitchen. "I'm ready"....She paused "Where's Uncle Jesse?"

When Bo and Luke just smiled she figured it out. "Let me guess. He wanted to get in the General Lee without any help?....and you boys didn't want to hurt his pride by standing by him watching him struggle."

Daisy walked over to the window and pulled the curtain to the side then smiled. "I got news for ya. He's sitting in the back seat waiting for his slow nephews."

Daisy made it out the kitchen door before the boys and jumped in the General before them.

A minute later they were kicking up dust heading to town on Mill Pond Road.

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*Bo had insisted upon driving to the orphanage in his attempt to distract his thoughts from what lies ahead of him in the next few minutes. Staring ahead at the familiar scenery, his thoughts fall back upon last year of the innocent faces looking up at him. Of their smiles when Jesse had dressed up as Santa in order to bring them gifts. Of their yelling and screaming that had irritated him along with the constant questions. But what had bugged him the most and what still bugged him, was the fact that there was very little Bo could do to help any one of those children to better their situation.

Meanwhile, as Bo silently drives The General, Luke Duke watches the trees and farm land pass by in anticipation of what lies ahead. Like most everyone he knew, he loved Christmas. Loved getting together with friends and family. The big meal that Daisy always cooked. But what made it so great, to Luke, was giving and helping others. Perhaps Jesse had ingrained it in him while growing up on the farm or perhaps it was just natural for him to want to give. To want to help. And now they were on their way to help a lot of children who need help the most. To Luke, it couldn't get much beter than this.

"We're here," Bo states to break his silence and Luke looks up to see them pulling up into the familiar parking lot of the orphanage. Kids screaming and yelling voices fill the air and Luke can tell Bo tenseing up at just the sound.

"Don't sound so excited, Bo, someone may get the wrong idea that you are actually excited to be here," Luke states sarcastically to recieve a rolling of the eyes from Bo, "let's go."*

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*This time Jesse didn't refuse Bo and Luke's help exiting the General. He knew it would be embarressing if the kids saw him getting out of the car with Bo and Luke helping but he also knew it would be even more embarressing if he struggled and fell out*

Daisy teased him a little "Uncle Jesse I'm surprised you asked for help"

Jesse pretended to be mad at her "I didn't ask. These two just grabbed my armpits before I knew what was happenin'. I could have made it out myself but it's important that the kids see folks helping folks.....even if I didn't need it."

Ira Grant, the orphanage director walked over to the Dukes with several curious kids following. He was careful to refer to his old friend Jesse by using his proper name when the kids were around. "My old friend Mr Duke!! It's so good to see you and your wonderful family. How have you been, sir?"

Jesse and his old friend hugged "Fine..just fine Mr. Grant!...and look at all these beautiful children. You have the best job in the world....hanging around all day with such good looking and smart kids. You're certainly a lucky man Mr Grant."

Ira respoded "Yes I certainly am!" He then turned to the kids who had all gathered around by now. "Children I'd like you to meet a very good friend of mine. We grew up together and have known each other for a very very VERY long time. And these here are Mr Duke's nephews and neice, Luke, Bo and Daisy. Let's make them feel right at home."

The children then flocked to the three younger Dukes....well, almost all the children. There was one exception.

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*Sitting upon the cold cement steps that leads up to the old orphanage, Connor sits silently with his folded arms leaning upon his thin knees with a dark cloud of heavy emotions filling his small and thin body. Heavy emotions that has been trapped within him over the past eight months ever since he had gotten word of his parents' and brother's accident. Of the news that he was now alone in this big world and that nothing would ever be the same for him. And even with his favorite holiday coming up and all the bright lights that seem aglow, nothing seems to even erase his heavy emotions or bring light upon his dark cloud.

And now as he sits on the steps watching the four newcomers talking excitably with Mr. Grant and the other kids, it all seems to keep getting worse. The four newcomers all from their appearance to be fun and loving as they talk with the kids and Mr. Grant yet to Connor, they only seem to represent what he had stolen from him. A family.

Sighing heavily, he glances back around to face the white orphanage building, yearning to go back inside and to hide back in his shared room. But seeing Ms. Patricia looking out through the window only reminds him that they wouldn't let him back into his room until it began getting dark. All in their attempt to help socialize him with all their other friends. As they often put it. But to Connor, it all seems useless and irritating. He has yet to find anyone to really like him other than the people that was paid to like him and he'd much rather be alone than to be with the kids or anyone else.

Biting his lower lip to fend off his raw emotions, he turns around only to see one of the new comers breaking free from the crowd and slowly walking his way.

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*While two of the Dukes stood around the group of kids talking and laughing and another Duke walked toward Connor, the eldest Duke took Ira Grant off to the side over by a tall blue spruce that was adorned with Christmas decorations*

Jesse looked concerned "I hate to tell ya this Ira but the crops didn't do too good this year so I can't give ya any money like I did last year. I just ain't got any. But I can give ya time if ya'd like. Ya ain't looking for a Christmas concert director are ya?"

Ira excitedly responded "Why we sure are Jesse....and I'll take ya up on yer offer. Ya can start right now if you'd like." They both smiled and shook on it.

Jesse noticed Ira looking at Conner. "Jesse, that's the kid I was telling ya about. Maybe your family can help out. Lord knows we've done everything we can."

Jesse saw one of the younger Dukes walking toward Conner. "It looks like one of my kids has just that thought in mind."

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*With his head aching already at the loud excited noise around him, Bo takes a step back in his vague attempt to get away for a moment only to catch sight of a small boy sitting on the steps by himself. Bo takes in the quiet child for a short moment as his heart seems to tighten in grief and sypathy for the child. Eyeing Luke and Daisy with the other children, Bo slowly steps away from the crowd and slowly walks back to the stairs and toward the quiet child. Approaching the child, he asks, "Can I sit here?"

Connor reluctantly eyes the new stranger with grudging eyes. "I'd rather be alone," Connor finally states, resisting his urge to just tell him to go away.

Taken aback to the child's blantant rejection, Bo stares at the child with disbelief and uncertainty of what to do now. After a moment he offers the child a famous Bo Duke smile and shakes his head and lets out a deep breath. "You'd rather be alone than to be up celebrating Christmas? Now I don't know anyone in their right mind who'd want to be celebrating Christmas by them lonesome," he puts his right foot upon a step and leans upon his knee and shakes his head at the child again, "Excuse me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you want to be alone. I think you want a friend to talk to, to lean on, to confide in. You want a friend that you can trust and hang out with. And well, seeing how I don't recognize your handsome face none, I'm willing to bet that you're new here, aren't you?"

Connor eyes the blond haired stranger with dark emotionfilled eyes. Half of him wanted to get up and walk away as he does anyone else who attempts to approach him or to yell at him to leave him alone. While the other half wanting to eagerly agree with the stranger's assessment. Instead he states, "I've been here eight lousy months." he looks away.

"So you're somewhat new here and don't know who to trust or who to turn to. Perhaps some of the kids are giving you a hard time. Kids can be like that sometimes. So you find it easier to withdraw in your attempt to hide your emotions and face your troubles and worries by yourself. But deep down, you're like everyone else out there that yearns for a companion, a friend. Someone to trust," Bo goes silent, waiting for the kid to argue with him or to tell him to go away again. But instead the kid remains silent, now looking at him with uncertianty in his eyes. "Well I'm no hero and I probably can't help solve your problems any, but I can be a friend. I have two ears that work perfectly well if you need someone to talk to or to confide in." Another warm welcoming smile as he puts out his large hand, "I'm Bo Duke."

Connor eyes the outstretched hand cautiously, wanting to shove it away and to walk away from the stranger that had identified himself as being Bo Duke. Yet something about Bo makes Connor want to reach out to Bo, something within yearns to trust him as he had asked. Sighing heavily, Connor puts his smaller hand in Bo's and says, "Connor Lasky." Connor quickly withdraws his hand once more and glances nervously away once more.*

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*Jesse and Ira watch Bo and Conner interact while Luke and Daisy sit down on a bench surrounded by curious kids full of questions*

Ira turned to Jesse "Well old friend, from what I know about your nephew's outgowing personality, he might be just the person who can get through. I'm going to be careful to not get my hopes up though. Conner has been one of the sadest cases I've seen in my 35 years working here.

Most kids his age have started to show a hint of hope by this time, but he hasn't made even an inch of progress since he's gotten here. In fact, he's gone backwards. I'm really worried."

Jesse paused "I wonder if he can sing?"

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*Luke Duke was in the middle of his favorite Christmas story, telling it to a large group of smiling and excited kids, when he had noticed that Bo was no longer in the group. While using excited facial expressions and raising his voice to excite the story, he continued his story while he stole his attention away from the kids. Anger had momentarily crept within him at Bo in thoughts of Bo walking off in his attempt to escape helping out at the orphange. But his anger was quick to dissipate as he finally sees Bo at the orphanage cement stairs, his right foot placed upon the fourth step, his elbows planted upon his knee while a thin boy sits in front of him. Luke stutters in his story as he sees the grief and anguish that is spread across the boy's cute face, giving Bo angry looks to silently yell at Bo to get away. Though Bo continues to talk amidably to the boy, either ignoring the boy's silent cries to leave him alone or remains ignorant of what the looks are telling him.

Glancing back at the kids he gives them another smile and using his hands, he finishes his story to recieve a wave of laughter and applause. "Now if you excuse me, I need to have a word with my other cousin over there," Luke states as he pats Daisy on the shoulder, motioning her to take over, "Daisy knows a good share of stories herself."

Daisy nods as Luke moves away and joins Bo at the steps and his heart is filled with grief at the sight of the boy that seems to be angry at the world. Luke assumes it is his way of dealing with grief and his hardships. "Well Bo, who you got here?" He finally asks and Bo jumps slightly to look up.

"Oh hi Luke. I didn't hear you," Bo forces a nervous smile at him, "well this here is Connor. Connor this is my older cousin I was telling you about. This here is Luke."

"Hey there Connor," Luke smiles at him to receive a silent glare from the boy, "it's nice meeting you."

Connor looks away.

"I was just about to show Connor The General, wasn't I, Connor?" Bo asks and Connor scoots back into the stair as if trying to shrink away from the two cousins. Bo had gotten him to open up slightly at the mention of showing him The General, but now with Luke showing up, the boy attempts to rehide himself within himself. "Mind if Luke comes with? I promise he don't bite besides he helped build The General as well...only fitting if he was with us. You know?"

Connor eyes Bo and then looks up at Luke wishing to be left alone yet yearning to trust the two cousins, especially Bo. He finally shrugs and looks away from Luke at Bo, as if ignoring Luke would make him to disappear. "Can I honk the horn?" Connor states his first true sentence to Bo.

"Sure, but it ain't no ordinary horn. I can tell you that...you'll love it. C'mon, let's go," Bo grins down at the boy and Luke admires and is surprised to see how good Bo is with Connor. Bo stands up and offers Connor his hand only for Connor to eye it as if it was a poisionous snake for a long moment before his thin hand disappears within Bo's big hand. Luke smiles as he follows the two to the parked General Lee.*

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*A few minutes into Daisy's Christmas story, Jesse notices one of the orphans look over toward Bo, Luke and Conner while the three of them walk toward a storage shed. Fortunately the General Lee was parked behind the shed out of view from Daisy and her audience. If the General weren't hidden Jesse knew a serious problem could be ahead of them.

The kid who looked over at the trio prompted another child to be distracted and then a third. Jesse knew a chain reaction was about to occur and he had to act fast or the whole group would be ignoring Daisy and focusing on why Conner was walking behind the shed with Bo and Luke. Raising three kids himself, Jesse knew all too well how distracted and curious they could be.*

"HO HO HO!" bellowed Jesse in his deep voice.

*Confused, Daisy stopped her story and looked at her uncle.*

"Oh, I'm very sorry Miss Duke. I thought that this was the part of your story where I was supposed to pretend that Santa Claus was around the corner."

*Daisy was confused but assumed that Jesse had alterior motives. She briefly glanced over at the trio rounding the corner out of sight and realized what those motives were.

Jesse and Ira smiled at each other, noticing that Daisy's audience was completely focused back on her. Ira and Jesse were relieved that Bo, Luke and Conner were out of sight so they could have some privacy to try to make some progress with the troubled boy.*

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*Bo carefully helps Connor into the window of the driver's seat while Luke climbs into the passenger seat to sit next to Connor. For a moment, Connor's worries and anger evaporates in sheer excitement as he stares down at the steering wheel and at the dashboard. Never before had he been allowed to sit in the driver's seat. Except for a few times with dad, but any other times, Connor had been deemed as too young or too small.

Gripping onto the steering wheel he peers over to stare at the group of kids that are grouped around the older man and the lady several feet away. He watches them while wishing that they were here to see him, to see that he was allowed in what was named The General Lee and to see all their bullying faces turn into jealousy. Jealousy of little ol him who could never do anything right in their eyes.

He silently shrugs it away as he glares down at the dashboard and down at the CB and for a long while he is no longer at the orphanage, but driving The General on the dirt road. Road racing against another racer with the sheriff chasing them, he imagines using the CB to radio in for help.

"What you think, Connor?" Bo asks to pull Connor out of his transe and Connor looks up with a huge smile at Bo.

"I love it! Charlie would love it!" he exclaims before falling silent in realization of what he had said, of where he is at, and why.

"Who's Charlie?" Luke asks to break the silence and as he sees the long sad face fall over Connor's face, Luke slowly places a comforting hand upon his small tense shoulder.

"He was my older brother. He was killed in an car accident eight months ago," Connor pauses to fight back his tears, "with my parents. That's why I'm stuck here. With them." He motions towards all the kids several feet away.

"We're sorry about that, Connor. About everything," Bo speaks in through the open window, "I wish we could do something to help things better for you. For all of you kids here. We're here to help out with Christmas, but that don't seem to be enough."

The car goes silent and Connor roughly wipes at his eyes. "Everyone's sorry, but it don't help none. Don't bring them back," Connor says in a whisper.

"We know it don't. Nothing will bring them back or replace them, but we can at least be your friend. Someone to talk to or to turn to," Luke shrugs, not knowing what to say to make things better.

"That's what Bo here says," Connor points to Bo who leans in through the window, "which he also said I could honk the horn. How I do that?"

Bo gives a smile of relief at Connor changing the uncomfortable subject. "Well you just hit here," Bo shows Connor how to make the horn to work and as the familiar tune of "Dixie" fills the air, Bo glances up at the kids several feet away turn and look their way from Daisy.

"Wow! I've never heard a horn sound like that!" Connor's eyes light up, "Hey! Could I have a ride? Please?!"

"Well," Luke eyes Bo, "that's something we're going to have to ask Mr. Grant for." Luke pulls himself out of the open window and Bo helps Connor out through the driver's door.

"Well let's go!" Connor exclaims taking Bo by the hand and quickly begins to walk towards Mr. Grant where he stands behind Jesse and Daisy.*

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*Jesse had figured out what was going on with Connor and the boys. He also knew the trouble it could cause if the rest of the kids saw the special attention Connor was getting. Even worse, Jesse knew that the jealous kids would give Connor a rough time if they knew he was getting a ride in the General Lee and Jesse was smart enough to figure out that's what the boys were going to ask Ira Grant. Before they had a chance to do so, Jesse spoke to the group*

"Okay kids, we're now gonna to go into the classroom and me and Miss Duke are gonna listen to each and every one of you and figure out what section you're going to be with in the Christmas choir.

The reason we're going inside is because the walls inside reflect the sound much better and that makes it easier fer us to evaluate yer voice and tell exactly where ya belong.

Now git on in there so we can get started. This is gonna be one hum dinger of a Christmas concert!"

Daisy helped "Let's go kids. Last one in is a rotten candy cane."

Daisy winked at Jesse "I get the feeling you'll be the last one in Uncle Jesse."

She then followed the last student into the building.

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*Connor watches as the kids all file back into the orphanage, silently wondering why they are going inside for, before his thoughts return to the orange car he had sat in only momentarily ago.

Luke on the other hand watches silently as the kids run screaming and yelling back into the orphanage with Daisy closley running after them with her own excited yell. He is quick to realize where they are going and why they are returning to the orphanage and he silently questions if they are doing the right thing. They all had came to the orphanage for all the kids. Not just one kid. But as he watches Connor hold Bo's hand with a look of excitement wonder, he can't help but to hope to give him a ride in The General.

"It's starting to look like we should have ran all this past Jesse and Daisy first before doing all of this," Luke whispers in Bo's ear, "Looks like we're making them run all over the place just to hide all of this from the other kids. Don't seem quite fair."

"Well Lukas, if you haven't noticed, life ain't fair either," Bo snaps in a whisper back to Luke, "anyway, I'm sure they'll get over it."

"Daisy and Jesse may, but the other kids? We may be taking them all for a ride in The General if we don't watch it," Luke slowly responds while eyeing Connor to make sure he isn't overhearing them. "and by doing that, we'd be sidetracking all of them from Jesse's choir, which was his entire purpose."

Bo shrugs. "Then let them sing and we go for a ride. End of story," Bo states as if that was a simple answer. Bo goes silent as Connor lets go fo his hand and is quick to run to Mr. Grant who stands at the stairs watching the kids and Daisy go inside.

"Mr. Grant!" Connor yells running up to the director, "Can I go for a ride in Bo's General? Please."*

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*Daisy stood at the front of the classroom speaking to the students while Jesse stood beside a window occasionally glancing outside.*

Daisy's voice was enthusiastic. "Now kids, this Christmas is going to be something special because Reverend Frawley of the Hazzard County Gospel Church has asked us to give a concert at the church on Christmas Eve!

Now, that means that we have a lot of work to do. Mr Duke and I have selected 12 songs that we think will sound awesome for the concert. On your desks are copies of those songs.

We're going to start with an old favorite, Silent Night. While you're singing I'm going to be going around listening to each one of you individually so when I walk by, don't be afraid to sing a little louder for the brief time that I'm beside you."

*Jesse walked to the front of the classroom and smiled. He lifted his hand to direct the kids. When he dropped his hands and nodded his head, the beautiful singing began*

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*Mr. Grant nods at Connor with a smile of satisfaction upon seeing Connor's smile for the first time since he had entered the orphange. "Well, I trust Bo and Luke enough that they will take good care of you and will drive within the speed limits and safely while you are in their car," with this Mr. Grant eyes Bo and Luke sternly who quickly nod in understandment. Looking back at Connor, he continues, "So I will agree to let them take you for a ride in that car of their's, but only if you all agree to be back in an half an hour. Understand?"

"Yes sir," Bo and Luke agree to his terms quickly before glancing over at Connor who grows serious for a long moment in thought.

Connor glances up at the boys and up at Mr. Grant and slowly nods. A half hour didn't seem to be enough time to him, but he knew better than to argue with authority. And a half hour was better than nothing. "Yes sir," he slowly agrees.


Several minutes later Luke and Connor are strapped in the back seat of The General despite Connor's plea to sit in the front with Bo. "Where to?" Bo asks as he backs he pulls out of the drive way of the orphanage and onto the dirt rorad. He glances into the rear view mirror briefly at Connor and Luke before glancing up at the road that lies ahead.

Connor eyes Bo in the front before looking out of his window, looking at what he views as freedom from the cell that he had been placed within when he had lost his parents and his brother. Looking back at Bo he takes a deep breath and asks, "Can I ask you a favor?"

"Sure you can," Bo is quick to speak up, wanting to do anything he can to please Connor.

"Would you mind taking me to the cementry to visit my family and perhaps the church?" he goes silent, knowing he is asking a lot, and feeling guilty for using Bo and Luke in order to get out and to go to their grave. Not that he had lied, he was excited to see their car and to ride in it, but deep down, he knew he had other motives for wanting to go for a ride. "I'm sorry. You don't have to if you don't want to. You are already -"

"Of course we can, can't we Luke?" Bo asks as he glances down at his speedometer to make sure he is within the speed zone. Looking up, he glances in his rearview mirror at Connor only to notice the sheriff's car right on his bumper a moment before the loud wail of his sirens penetrate the silent day. "Damn...I mean dang," Bo cusses before catching himself, "what he want now? I'm doing the speed limit."

"I don't know what he wants, but I think our only option right now is to pull over and see what he wants," Luke states as he turns around to see how close the sheriff is.

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