Samhain

He doesn't know how much of this he can take. He's standing here, watching, and pretending it doesn't affect him. But it does, and the worst part of it is, he isn't the only one who knows.

No one is supposed to know. No one should even know he's in love, much less know he's in pain. But he is, and there's a glance of dark concern that keeps getting sent his way just exactly when and where he is least needing it.

Roscoe wants to walk away and go home, or make up some excuse to go back to work. But he's stuck here for the festival, and nobody would believe him that there could be any law needing enforced right now that wasn't here in Willard's field. The entire town -- possibly the county -- is here, and this is where he'd be if he really were on duty.

Technically he sort of is, but only if something happens. The chance of anything more serious than a drunken argument or a kid wailing about having lost her candy to an older sibling, is slim. Fall festivals in Hazzard county are notoriously safe, boring, non-law-breaking affairs.

After the festival when the kids go out, lots of laws get broken. But nobody expects the law to do anything about it until morning, so Roscoe is safe. Tomorrow morning he'll be making rounds, filling out reports of broken glass and toilet-papered trees and the odd missing chicken or cow.

Tonight he has to pretend he's enjoying himself. Has to pretend he isn't watching a young man sitting under an oak tree, talking and smiling to Luly May Canton.

And he has to pretend that the young man's cousin isn't keeping an eye on all three of them, and that the glances he sometimes sends Roscoe aren't worried, or thoughtful, or -- god help him -- determined. A Duke determined to be helpful is worse than the devil himself bringing mischief that only a coyote could enjoy. Coyotes or Boss Hogg, if he weren't firmly entrenched against the Dukes.

Roscoe wonders sometimes if his life would be easier if Boss Hogg had been born a gentleman, and the war against the Dukes hadn't ever arisen. Would he be happily married, living in some tiny shack at the edge of the woods, not thinking about what the townsfolk next county over thought? Would the blessing of the two most influential men in Hazzard -- Boss Hogg, and Jesse Duke -- be enough to shelter them?

And why is he thinking of such things, when it was as likely to happen as Boss Hogg suddenly giving Roscoe a raise?

He turns and walks away, realizing that there's no point in staring at Bo laughing with a girl he's known all his life, a girl that folk said would make a good wife for him if she weren't also interested in Billy Tanners over in Cherokee. She hadn't made up her mind, and Roscoe knew Bo wasn't going to make it up for her. But no one but Bo and Roscoe knew that -- and Luke, who is walking over towards the tree when Roscoe turns away.

Roscoe turns away, deciding to head on over to where the little kids are hunting the ground for acorns, screaming and throwing leaves at one another after their elders had scolded them for throwing anything else. Maybe he can distract himself with... something. Anything.

Maybe he could go home early, and tell anyone who asked that he had a headache. He feels tired, that's no lie. When he looks out towards where everyone had parked, he sees the packed dirt and a half-tumbled scarecrow. There are crows still in the trees across the field, and their serenade is lost in the noise of the festival. They aren't scared of the scarecrow, or the party, waiting it out for the feast they know will be left behind.

Roscoe wonders what will be left behind. There's nowhere to go -- no point in loving a man he can't have. Can barely acknowledge. He should go home, and not think about Bo. Not think about what he wished he could say.

There is a screech of tires, and a tremendous bang; Roscoe whips his head around and sees the General Lee tearing out. There's a flash -- Roscoe realizes, with a shock, that the General Lee has smashed into Enos' vehicle, bending the front fender until it practically touches the tire. The car is speeding away and Roscoe knows he can't just stand here, still in uniform and only nominally off-duty, and let him get away.

He runs to his own police vehicle, leaping in behind the wheel and it is only as he pulls out that he sees Luke Duke standing in the crowd.


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