Title: "Their Tails Behind Them"
Author: Mala
E-mail: malisita@yahoo.com
Fandom: "Dukes of Hazzard"
Rating/Classification: SAC, Luke/Daisy, angst, adult situations.
Disclaimer: Going. To. Hell. I don't own them!
Summary: Takes place after season 2's "Ghost of the General Lee." Little Bo Peep thought her sheep was lost for good.

"She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they'd left all their tails behind them."
-Mother Goose.

The Boar's Nest is right quiet after hours. Just the way he likes it. Dark and quiet except for crickets singing, like the farm in the middle of the night. He picks the lock just to keep his skills sharp and lets himself in. He wants one more look at the place, at Boss' safe, before he can let himself catch some shut-eye. He's got to make sure everything's back where it ought to be and he and Bo are clear of any guilt.

At least...any guilt they ain't rightfully earned themselves.

Luke closes the door behind him and goes on into the bar. The lights are off. All the chairs are turned up on the tables. Daisy always does that so she can sweep up last thing before she leaves. Even after a day where she was trussed up like a Christmas goose by a couple of no accounts. That's how she is. Responsible down to a fault. How she wound up kin to a bunch of 'shine runners, he doesn't even know.

There's a scrape, a noise, from the kitchen and he turns, quick, in case it's Boss or Roscoe...but the broom clatters to the floor, followed by a sharp scream, and--"L-luke! Hellfire!"

"Daisy! What are you still doing here?" He grabs her by the elbows so she can't beat on him, but it doesn't keep her from trying. She rises to temper faster than anyone he's ever met. "Hey, now!"

"I'm cleanin' up." She kicks at him and he traps her bare knee between both of his. "What are *you* doing here?" she demands.

"'Sides taking ten years off your life?" he wonders, grinning.

The words that follow don't shock him, not when he taught her most of them the summer before he enlisted. The girl can cuss a blue streak and it's a beautiful thing. But her eyes...all of a sudden, they fill up with tears and that knocks the wind right out of him. "Daisy? Honey?"

"D-don't," she hisses, shoving at his chest with one hand. "Don't you 'Honey' me, Luke Duke. And don't you *ever* scare me like that again."

"All right, Cuz...I'll knock next time," he assures, smoothing back her mess of dark hair like Uncle Jesse used to when she was down with a fever, pretending he's not seeing her cry.

"Not *that*." She leans into his hand and her cheek is so soft..."Don't you *die* on me," she whispers, fiercely. "Don't you *ever* let me think you're dead again, you hear?" She looks up at him...and all of a sudden the loudest thing in the Boar's Nest is the blood rushing in his ears. He ain't seen that heartbreaking look on her pretty face since he left Hazzard at 18 and sold his soul to Uncle Sam. He wrote it off as her being a kid, as her missing him something awful...and, maybe, just maybe, as her having a crush she ought not to have.

But she's all woman now.

He should remind her it wasn't his fault. That he and Bo didn't even know Roscoe thought they'd gone and drowned. And then he should check the safe and hightail it home. But all he can seem to say is..."Daisy...I promise. I will *always* come back. Even from the grave."

And this here...it ain't no crush.

Not by a mile.

She was fifteen the last time she kissed him. The first time, too. Hay from baling stuck in her hair and just the beginnings of the chest that would kill half the men in town pressing up against him. Now, it's his hands in her hair, buried deep, and he's halfway to Heaven even though he just promised never to die.

"Luke..." Her mouth tastes like tears and honey...how can he not "Honey" her when the taste of it chased him all the way to boot camp? Probably done drove him there.

*Luke, c-can I kiss you?*

*Daisy, I reckon that ain't such a good idea...*

It wasn't then and it ain't now...but he can't stop himself, not when she's sliding her arms around his neck and her long, long, legs are wrapping around him like stripes on a barber pole. "Damn it." And he repeats all the words he taught her. He's just a man...a no account, no good, yellow-bellied coward who couldn't run far enough...who should've brought Bo with him tonight for the B&E 'cause having him around is like having an annoying kid brother and a barbed wire fence barrier between him and damnation.

Lord help him. If he'd been skinny-dipping in that pond with Daisy, he never would've come up for air.

Chairs go crashing to the floor and she's hopping up on the nearest table, dragging him with her. They ain't two kids in the barn at midnight anymore...but, holy Hell, he feels just as young and scared and stupid...he can't breathe for wanting to kiss her and kiss her and peel off her little short shorts and find out what's beneath.

Hellfire.

"This ain't right...this ain't right." He's pleading with her even as she's unzipping his jeans, but there isn't a fool in Hazzard County who would turn down Daisy Duke if she was doing the asking.

Except him. Once. Years ago.

And he's not fool enough to do it again.

"Don't. Leave. Me."

So, he doesn't. Not this time.

And he rightfully earns the guilt.

--end--

January 26, 2005.



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