Silver Clouds

Author’s Notes: In the show, serious matters rarely occurred and when they did they were rarely treated seriously and as such the characters almost never got to show a serious side. (I swear I tried to think of a synonym for ‘serious’.) That in mind, the following may appear out of character according to canon but I believe that this is what they would look and sound like if the show’s writers had allowed them to respond appropriately.

With a grin Bo slid far enough out of the General Lee to sit on the edge of the door. Balanced, he turned back to share the grin with the men walking up behind him. “Hey, Roscoe, Enos. How’s it going?”

Deputy Enos Strate returned the smile happily. “Can’t complain, Bo.”

“You’d better not,” Roscoe interrupted, pointing an accusing finger. Bo laughed at the look on Enos’ face. He continued smiling as Roscoe turned to face him with a determined expression. “Bo Duke, what do you think you’re trying to pull?”

Bo knew exactly what he was pulling -- decoy duty -- and from long practice he prepared to shuck and jive the local law. “Gee, I dunno, Roscoe. I was just out for a drive.”

“You’ve been driving up and down this road for the last hour.”

“Since when is that against the law?” Bo gave the Sheriff a pleased smile; for a disorienting moment he wished it could have been different, then like always the feeling began to fade. The wish didn’t. They were on different sides now, and would always be. The feeling surged and he wanted to be done with this and on his way.

Roscoe shook his head, obviously agitated with knowing Bo was up to something and -- Bo hoped -- not having a clue as to what. His tone was threatening in his usual half-serious manner. “Don’t give me that, Bo Duke. Now I want to know what you’re doing here. I know you’re not testing the General’s engine because if you were you’d have been speeding, tearing up the road. So why don’t you make it easier on both of us and just confess.”

“Confess to what? I’m not doing anything wrong, Roscoe.” He glanced over to the other man. “Enos? Was I breaking any laws I don’t know about?”

“No, not unless I don’t know about them either.” The deputy grinned. “I don’t know why Roscoe wanted to pull you over.”

“Maybe he’s just bored,” Bo laughed, then turned back to Roscoe. The look on the sheriff’s face made him suddenly hate his role. Teasing and tormenting this man sometimes brought real satisfaction, believing he deserved what he got for the trouble he made for Bo’s family. Then there were times when Bo wanted to just apologize. Different sides. Times like today that made things way too hard. He glanced away, down at the hood of the General Lee. It hadn’t been long enough, Luke needed at least another half hour. He couldn’t let Roscoe go just yet... He had ideas to keep Roscoe and Enos here, safely out of the way; Bo wished he could just say he didn’t want to do this anymore and let that be enough to keep him.

Roscoe spoke, his words light and accusing as if unaware of Bo’s thoughts. “All week long you Dukes have been up to something. You can either explain it to us here, or I can take you back to town and lock
you up--”

“On what charge?” Bo asked incredulously.

“Obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties. While I’m wasting time with you here I’m not out there catching *real* criminals.”

“Well, thanks, Roscoe.” Bo gave him a slight grin. “Nice to know I’m a fake criminal.”

Behind them the police radio suddenly came to life as Boss Hogg’s voice came screaming. Roscoe jumped and ran to the car followed closely by Enos. Bo stayed where he was, watching. Wondering. Seeing Roscoe had never been easy since that summer so many years ago, but slowly he had been able to accept that his former lover would never change his mind. When the townspeople had been forced to vote down the funds set aside for the Sheriff’s pension, Roscoe had taken it like a slap in the face and become partners with Boss Hogg in an effort to earn the money he needed to retire on.

Since then Bo had watched the man he’d fallen in love with fade behind layers he did not understand. He hated treating Roscoe this way, running him in circles and making him appear the fool. But given the choice between letting Boss Hogg succeed in his schemes and saving his once-lover’s good name... much too often there was no choice. He wondered if Roscoe knew.

Bo was startled out of his thoughts when Enos ran over to his police car and jumped in, driving away with sirens blaring. Roscoe headed back towards him with a determined look on his face.

“Where’s he off to?”

“Boss needs some help... got his hand stuck in a pickle jar.” Bo laughed, and Roscoe glared. “Now where were we?”

“You was trying to make me tell you why I was driving up and down this road.”

“Right! So?”

“So nothing, Roscoe. I was just driving. I do that sometimes.” He wished he could ask Roscoe how he’d been. Whether anything interesting had happened. He wanted to tell him that Jupiter, one of their goats, was pregnant. Instead he had to sit here and play this game.

“You’re gonna make me arrest you, aren’t you?”

Bo shook his head. “No. Roscoe--”

“Don’t.” The sheriff had heard the change in Bo’s voice and cut him off. “Just tell me what you’re up to and we’ll...”

“We’ll what? Keep fighting just to see who wins this time?” Bo slid out of the car and took a step forward. “Why do you make us do this, Roscoe?” He didn’t understand why he was saying this now, why after seven years he was asking the questions he’d wanted to ask since the day he’d run away, leaving his lover behind. He didn’t know what to expect, but something in him needed to reach out and try to touch the man who had meant so much to him.

For a long moment Roscoe didn’t answer. Then, quietly, all pretense of aggravation gone, he said, “You know why, Bo. We can’t do anything else. Not anymore.” With the masks suddenly all gone Bo could see clearly the tired, defeated man who hid behind false enthusiasm and forced laughter. He’d seen glimpses once or twice before.

“Why? Why do we have to pretend that we’re on different sides?”

“Pretend?” Roscoe looked honestly startled.

“Yeah, pretend. Why do you think I let you catch us sometimes?”

Bo couldn’t read the expression on Roscoe’s face. He waited, wondering if he should have left well enough alone when Roscoe said, “Why do you think I let you get away sometimes?” Then he shook his head. “It’s no use, Bo. Too much has gone on... we can’t just ignore what--” Roscoe looked away. “What I’ve done.”

Bo took another step towards the sheriff, noting the way the other man tensed as he drew near. He stopped just outside of touching him. “Roscoe, I miss you.”

Roscoe looked up at him. “I miss you, too, Bo. But that doesn’t change anything.”

“Why?”

“Because we’re still on opposite sides. I’d be fired, and Jesse’d tan your hide if we... if we did anything.”

“Why can’t we just talk, though? Like now... nobody’s here, nobody can see us. Why can’t we just talk sometimes?”

Roscoe gave him a look that Bo had not seen in years. That knowing, I-love-you but-you-have-to-listen-to-me expression. “We can’t do that, Bo. If we start spending time together I’ll--”

“You’ll what?” Bo moved an inch closer, almost leaning against him.

“I’ll start remembering. I never stopped loving you.”

Bo smiled, feeling triumphant. He knew Roscoe would scold him for it, knew Roscoe thought they hadn’t won anything. “You don’t have to keep working for him, you know.” Roscoe didn’t bother to answer. Bo knew what he would say. “Enos doesn’t and he does all right.”

“Boss’d just fire me. Bo, can we just drop this and get--”

“I just wanted to know.” Bo leaned back, not quite stepping away.

“Huh?”

“I just wanted to know what you’d say. How badly you wanted things to change. I guess... not very much, huh?”

He knew he was wrong when he saw Roscoe looking at him. Saw the look in his eyes, the pain he stopped hiding. “If I thought there was a way, Bo, I’d never have let you walk off in the first place.”

The sound of his lover’s voice made Bo want to shout. He hadn’t heard it in so long, and had never expected to hear it now. That same regret which had parted them before spoke to him now and he wanted to reach out and grab his lover and tell him how much he’d missed him. He knew without trying Roscoe would push him away and tell him it was a mistake. Slowly Bo shook his head. “I don’t understand. We have to give up everything?”

“How can you stand there and talk like you’ve forgiven me?”

The question came from nowhere, and for a second Bo just stared. “For what?”

“For treating you like this. For being on Boss’ side and getting you and your cousin into so much trouble.”

Bo shook his head. “Boss Hogg would get us in trouble even without you. Am I supposed to hold a grudge against you for that?”

“After all the things I’ve done to you... Bo, how can you look at me like that?”

“Like what?”

“Like all you’re thinking of is heading into the bushes with me.”

Bo couldn’t help grinning. “It ain’t *all* I’m thinking of. But the thought crossed my mind.” He saw Roscoe’s disapproval, and tried again to explain. “Roscoe, I’m just asking for the chance to talk to you sometimes, to stop pretending we never meant anything to each other. I just need to tell you how much I still miss you.”

“And what happens when we both need more than that?”

Bo shrugged. “I don’t know. Depends on how bad we need it. Maybe it won’t be so hard.”

“Maybe it will.” Roscoe said nothing more, and Bo realised he didn’t know what Roscoe meant. Was he accepting? Or was he saying it could never happen, that even this conversation would have never occurred? He looked at his watch and saw that enough time had passed. If he stayed here talking then Luke would ask where he’d been, what he had been doing.

“Roscoe...” He wasn’t sure how to ask.

“I can’t make you any promises, Bo.”

“I know.” He hesitated, then took a small step forward. Roscoe didn’t move away so he closed the remaining distance. “I have to go now, Roscoe.”

“Yeah.” Roscoe still hadn’t moved away. Tentatively Bo started in, waited to see if Roscoe would give ground again. When he didn’t, Bo leaned the rest of the way in and gave his ex-lover a short kiss. For a minute neither man moved. It felt almost like he remembered and when he leaned back he saw the smile in the other man’s eyes, saw as it faded into the familiar sad mask. Bo stepped back.

“I’m gonna have to tell Boss something...” Roscoe said it half to himself, thinking out loud. Bo held out his hand. After a moment the sheriff reached down for his ticket book, and wrote quickly. Bo didn’t even
look at it when it was handed over, stuffing it in his shirt pocket as he met Roscoe’s guilty gaze. “Thanks, Bo.”

Bo paused, then asked, “Did I tell you Jupiter’s gonna have a baby?”

First there was nothing. Then, ever so slowly, the mask faded into a genuine smile. “No, you didn’t.”

With a nod he just said, “See you around, Roscoe.” Bo turned towards his car, a small smile of his own on his face.

“See you around, Bo.” Roscoe stood where he was as Bo climbed into the General Lee, then as he started the engine, headed back towards his police car.

As they drove off in opposite directions, Bo looked into the rearview mirror and watched as his lover drove away.


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