"It's the heart, afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance.
It's the dream, afraid of waking, that never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken, who cannot seem to give,
and the soul, afraid of dying, that never learns to live..."
From outside the gray nothingness of unconscious slumber, a familiar scent - masculine, of after-shave with undertones of mimeograph ink and printing paper drifted across Daisy's senses. There was a soft brush of fabric against her cheek and she turned, burying her face against it and its warmth.
When at last she opened her eyes, Daisy might have been convinced the whole day had been a dream were it not for the number of people gathered around her bed, their faces anxiously peering down at her. Doc Applby sat on at the edge beside her, his careworn face focused intently on hers, his eyes and mind sharper than tacks despite his advanced age. A strong odor of ammonia lingered in the air, indicative of smelling salts.
She cast a glance about the room. Bo, Luke, Uncle Jesse, and Cooter each wore an expression somewhere between worry and happiness, but her eyes were drawn to the deputy standing against the back wall. Instead of the effervescent cheerfulness she would have normally expected, Enos' face was pensive and quiet.
"Hey there, Doc," she said, contritely, "I'm so sorry you had to make a trip out here on account of me."
The older man patted her hand. "Now, Daisy, that's my job," he gently reminded her. "Besides, it got me out of eating my sister in law's fruitcake, so I'm more apt to be thanking you." He gave her a kindly wink. "How are you feeling?"
Daisy took a deep breath and did a quick mental check of the rest of her, still dressed in her clothes from earlier, but under a warm blanket. "I think I'm fine."
"No headache or dizziness?" She shook her head. "Any nausea, tingling feelings, blurry vision?"
"No, sir, I'm alright. I just...I had a weird dream after I hit the tree, and..."
There was something else...something on the edge of her mind that felt important. She racked her brain, trying to separate reality from the dream. She thought back to the beginning of the real day. She'd left the Boar's Nest early because of the snow. Enos had left, and she'd counted down the register. It came back to her in a rush that stole her breath away.
Anger flashed in her eyes as she looked up at her uncle. "Uncle Jesse," she started, "Boss said I stole five hundred dollars from the Boars' Nest, and he said if I didn't pay him back he was gonna take the farm! Uncle Jesse I swear I didn't take anything! That low down, mean, conniving old, snake-"
"It's alright, Daisy," Enos interrupted her. He turned to Uncle Jesse. "It was just a misunderstanding, Uncle Jesse. It's all cleared up now."
Daisy stared at him. Though Enos had been known to stand up for any Duke against Boss and Rosco, few and far between were the times they'd actually listened to him.
Doc turned to look behind him. "How long would you say she was out, Enos?"
"Well, she came to for a second while I was carrying her to the car, but then she just went right back to sleep," he explained, "I didn't know whether I should try and wake her or not, so I sent Cooter to pick you up and headed straight here."
"You did fine, Enos," he assured him before turning back to Daisy. "I didn't find any bumps on your head from the accident, so I'm not too worried about your fainting spell, but I suspect you're in need of some time off, young lady. There's nothing wrong with slowing down and taking it easy every now and then."
Daisy grinned at him. "Yes, sir."
"I'm gonna go on home now," he said, patting her hand again. "You'll be in good hands here, I'm sure."
"Thank you, Doctor," she said, giving him a hug, "and tell your wife Merry Christmas for us."
"I surely will, Daisy." He stood up and turned towards the others. "Cooter, if you don't mind, I'll need you to drop me back home."
"No problem, Doc, I gotta git anyway." Cooter looked over at Daisy. "I've still gotta pick Dixie up and take her back by the shop," he told her. "It'll probably be late tomorrow before I get time to take a look at her, though."
"Don't worry about it, Cooter, it's Christmas."
He ruffled her hair on his way by her. "You take it easy, kiddo."
Uncle Jesse came and took a seat beside her on the bed. Daisy looked up at him sheepishly. "I'm sorry, Uncle Jesse, I didn't mean to worry you."
"I know you didn't, baby," he said, giving her a hug. " but now...you just take it easy, like the Doc said."
He smiled proudly at her before he got up and left, motioning for the others to follow him and leave her alone.
"You heard the Doc," Bo warned, "me and Luke'll be watching you like a hawk to make sure you ain't working too hard."
"Does this mean you're doing the dishes for me?"
He grinned. "That's Luke's job."
Luke whacked him upside the head. "You heard him, Daisy. Take it easy."
She watched them as they left her room until there was only Enos, who had hung back and let the others filed out first. Just being in her room should have made him doubly nervous but, although his fingers were engaged in their normal worrying at the brim of the hat they held, he seemed more thoughtful than nervous for a change. There were questions in his eyes, and for some reason that made her a bit nervous herself.
"Hey Enos," she said, softly, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to faint on you."
"Shoot, Daisy, that's alright," he said, easily. "I'm just glad you ain't hurt. I was worried you'd hit your head or something." He was quiet for a moment, looking around the room.
"What?" she asked him.
He looked back at her. "Huh?"
"You look like you're looking for something."
"No, I was just...just thinking. You know, when I was a kid, Uncle Jesse said he'd tan my hide if I was ever in here again."
She laughed. "I think you'll get a pass this time. Hey, what happened with Boss and Rosco?"
"I'll tell you later. I'd best let you rest, like the doc said."
Daisy's heart skipped a beat as he turned to go. "Enos, wait."
He stopped and turned back towards her.
"Don't go back home tonight. It's snowy, and it'd probably be safer if you stayed here."
"I gotta go in at eleven tomorrow for a couple hours before we shut down for the day," he said. "'Sides, the snow's turned to rain now. It's supposed to clear up and be in the 50's again by the morning. Don't that beat all?"
She wasn't sure if he was saying "no" or just trying to find an excuse to leave. "Yeah, but it's late and if you go back to town, we won't see you till supper tomorrow," she complained. "It'd be nice if you were here when I wake up." His eyes widened in surprise. "I mean...here at the farm...when it's morning...um, earlier than supper." She could feel redness creeping into her cheeks.
He looked at her warily, as though he was maybe not convinced that she didn't have something wrong with her head after all, but then shrugged. "Don't worry, Daisy, Uncle Jesse already convinced me to stay. Thanks though."
"Oh. Well that's good."
"Night, Daisy," he said, giving her a slight smile and heading to the door.
"Night, Enos," she answered. "Hey - "
He turned once more. "Hmm?"
"Thanks for taking care of me."
His smile grew larger, lighting his eyes. "You're welcome, Daisy."
And then he was gone, out the door, pulling it shut behind him.
The clock read eight thirty-six, earlier than she normally went to bed, but as she changed out of her regular clothes, a plan began to spin it's web through her mind. Picking up the clock, she set the alarm for 2:00 am, then crawled under the covers and turned out the lamp. She wasn't sure she'd be able to sleep, not with all that had happened - or that had seemed to have happened that day, but sleep found her in the middle of worrying over it.
The room was pitch black when the alarm clock woke her, and she scrambled to shut it off before anyone else heard it. She dressed warmly and, after taking a flashlight from the drawer of her nightstand, she unlatched the window and pulled it up. Damp, cold air rushed in and she wished it were spring or summer - even with her coat she would be chilled to the bone. She ducked out the window and climbed down into the yard, pulling the window shut behind her.
The snow had stopped and now a light rain was falling. The eaves dripped steadily from where the roof overhung the side of the house, the water freezing on the ground into strange stalagmites that reminded her of fingers poking up through the snow. She took the flashlight out and turned it on, shining it out across the field, the mist of rain visible in the beams of light. Most of the snow had already melted.
She walked around to the western side of the house, giving Uncle Jesse's window a wide berth, and stopped at the second window, her hand sweaty as it held the flashlight despite the cold and her heart beating fiercely in her chest. Either this was going to work, or she was going to make sure Enos thought she was certifiably crazy. Before she had time to think through it enough to change her mind, she raised her hand and knocked on the window.
She waited. Nothing. She tried again...and again. On her fourth attempt, she resolved to wait ten seconds and then just go back to bed, when the curtains pulled back.
"Hey," she called softly through the glass, "open the window."
There was a soft scrape as the clasp was drawn back and then the window slid up. She shined the light into the room, and Enos threw his hand up to shade his eyes.
"What the heck are you doing?" he demanded. "You scared about ten years offa my life!"
"Hey," she whispered, "get dressed and come on."
"Why," he asked, a touch of worry in his voice, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong. I need to go somewhere, and I need you to come with me."
He didn't answer and she wondered just how hard he was going to make this. She flicked the light back up to his face.
"Look, Daisy," he said, squinting, "as much as I'd like to come with you...it's..." He looked away for a second. "It's two o'clock, and the doc said you were supposed to be taking it easy. I don't think he meant getting up and going somewhere in the middle of the night."
If she'd showed up at any other guy's window in the middle of the night and asked them to come with her, she knew she wouldn't have to ask twice, and for a second his words actually hurt her feelings before she convinced herself that it was nothing personal - just Enos being Enos. She supposed that was part of the charm that he'd always held over her - he certainly wasn't just any other guy.
"Exactly," she agreed, "so you can be my chaperone."
He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "I don't know, Daisy."
"Fine," she bluffed, shrugging her shoulders, "I'll just go by myself. Go on back to bed." She turned her back on him and the window.
"Alright," he sighed. "Hold on, I'm coming...and turn off that dang light before you wake up everyone else."
Five minutes later he climbed though the window, still dressed in the white t-shirt he'd slept in, but the sweatpants had been replaced with the pants from his uniform and he'd grabbed the quilt-lined denim coat from the closet in the spare room.
"Come on," she said, motioning him to follow her around to the front on the house, "we've got just enough time to get there."
"Now, just hold on a minute," he said, unmoving, "where the heck are we going?"
"I can't tell you."
An uneasy look crossed his face. ""Why not? You know, maybe Doc's right, Daisy," he said, carefully, "You seem a little out of sorts."
"Nonsense, Enos, I'm perfectly fine," she assured him. "In fact, I've never felt better. Now, it's a long drive and if we don't get there in time, it'll ruin the whole thing, so... are you coming or not?"
For a moment, he seemed lost, standing there in the vague and hazy glow of her flashlight, caught between wanting to go with her and wanting to protect her. She was afraid he'd choose the latter.
"Yeah, alright," he said, finally, "but if you start feeling light-headed or anything, you let me know."
"I will, I promise." She grabbed his arm and pulled him after her, towards the truck. "Now, come on, time's a wasting."
Enos' patrol car was blocking the truck in from behind, so Daisy drove around the barn and then swung it up onto the driveway. Uncle Jesse was sure to hear the engine, and maybe Bo and Luke as well, but it didn't matter - they wouldn't know where she was going. It was purely coincidental that she knew the way herself, having been there only once (unless you counted in a dream), but it was a route the boys had taken back when they were running shine and she'd made a habit of knowing it.
She thought Enos would have said something when they turned out onto Old Mill Road, but he gazed quietly out the window, lost in his own thoughts. It struck her as odd - usually when he was nervous he yammered on constantly about nothing, and his silence was somewhat unsettling. She supposed he could just be tired, Rosco had only agreed to give him Christmas evening off if he'd pulled fourteen hour shifts the week before, but it wasn't until she drove through town without stopping and pulled onto Highway 76 North, just outside Colonial City, that he finally spoke.
"So...," he began, "why ain't I supposed to know where we're going?"
For a moment she thought about making something up that would be believable, but ditched the idea. He'd always known when she was lying anyway, regardless of whether he'd ever called her out on it. She had seen it in his eyes every time she'd set him up or baited him away his duties to give her cousins a chance to escape from Boss and Rosco's clutches. He would play the part of naive, clueless deputy to a fault, but she always got the feeling he knew damn well exactly what she was doing.
"I wasn't sure you'd come with me," she said, honestly. "Just think of it as a surprise. You look tired, sugar. It's a long trip so you oughta get some sleep."
She turned the dial on the truck's radio until soft Christmas music filled the cab, and in the dark she heard Enos sigh.
"I reckon," he answered, "but you wake me up if you start feeling sick or something." He stripped off his coat and folded it under his head which he leaned against the side window.
The next hour passed without interruption as he dozed, giving her too much time to think about the two of them. It wasn't just that she wanted to share that part of her dream with the real Enos, but that she wanted to get him far enough away that he would be forced to talk to her. There were too many excuses within shouting distance of Hazzard and it would be too easy for him to wheedle out of any serious conversations.
And besides, she kind of thought of it as their place.
Two voices argued in her head - one the voice of reason, asking her what in the world she thought she was doing. Stick with the status-quo, it urged, guys are a dime a dozen. But, the voice of her heart had not been able to shake the memory of holding Enos' cold and lifeless body on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. She didn't know what she would do or say once they got where they were going, all she knew was that it was time to say something.
Enos woke just as she was turning off onto Highway 30. In the dim light from the truck's dash panel, she saw him turn swiftly to look at her, but then he turned back without a word. As the Enos of her dream had done, she swung the truck wide and turned, parking on the gravel roadside just in front of the overlook. It was still dark, but a lighter gray hung on the horizon, obscuring the stars which had already begun to fade.
Daisy looked over at Enos, his features just visible in the gloom, hoping he couldn't sense her anxiety.
"You coulda just told me where you were going," he said, softly, "I woulda come."
She swallowed against the lump in her throat. "Sorry, I...I just, I need to talk to you about something. I figured you'd find an excuse not to stick around in Hazzard. Besides, this place has the prettiest sunrise in the South."
"I guess I need to tell you something, too, anyway." He shrugged on his coat and opened the passenger's door. "Come on, the sun'll be coming up soon."
Daisy hesitated, wary of what he could possibly want to talk to her about. His shadow passed around the truck and there was a muffled thud as he hopped up to sit on the hood. She opened her door and followed, taking a seat beside him, the heat from the truck's engine warming her despite the chilly air. It was a much better (and safer) vantage point than the edge of the cliff had been.
"What was your dream about?"
She turned to him, startled by the unexpected question. "Huh?"
He looked down at his fingers which had resumed somewhat their normal fidgeting. "You told Doc you had a strange dream before I found you. I just wondered what it was, is all."
"Oh." She couldn't tell him that, could she? He'd take her straight back to Doc Applby and insist she'd cracked her head. "Well, I...I dreamed I was in Hazzard, but everything was different. Boss had taken over the town, and no one knew who I was. No one was doing what they were supposed to be doing. Uncle Jesse and the boys were gone."
"How 'bout me? Was I still working too long for no pay?"
"You were a moonshiner."
He laughed. "I reckon I wouldn't know how to make moonshine if they printed the instructions on the back of my cereal box."
"I didn't say you were very good at it," she said, with a grin.
"So..that's it?" he asked, seriously. "Before you passed out, you were acting like you'd seen a ghost."
More than you know, she thought to herself. "Tthere was more, but...it wasn't really a good dream. In fact to be honest it was downright scary, and I don't really want to talk about it."
Enos glanced back up at her. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine. It was just so real." She shook her head. "Anyway, what was it you were wanting to tell me?"
He looked back across the cliff towards the mountains, now faintly visible in the early morning mist. The horizon was tinged with the soft hues of pink. "The LAPD called me the other day," he said. "They offered me a position as an investigator in their Major Crimes Division. It'd be a big step up from where I was before."
The hills seemed to close in around Daisy, as though the air itself was poisonous and suffocating. "Tell him!" her heart screamed. "Tell him you love him and that he can't go! Tell him he can't leave you again!"
"That's...that's great, Enos," she said instead, the words tasting like grit in her mouth. "It's a good opportunity. You deserve it." Her heart broke, knowing that it was the wrong thing to say. She'd always said the wrong thing.
She looked up, expecting to see sadness in his eyes, and was taken aback by the anger there instead.
"I reckon if I live a million years, Daisy Duke, I'll never understand you." He jumped down from the truck and walked away from her, towards the railing overlooking the valley.
Daisy, stunned, watched him go. Something must have happened. Something between him leaving the Boar's Nest and her waking up in her room. She couldn't for the life of her decipher what it could be, since most of the time she'd been out cold. He'd told the doc that she'd awakened briefly but, try as she might, she remembered nothing after him catching her when she fell out of Dixie.
She slid down from the truck to follow him, but he turned before she could ask him what was wrong.
"You can't say it, can you?" he asked, disbelief evident in his voice. "I expect it wouldn't matter if I said I was leaving to China, would it? You'd still never say it."
He surely couldn't be talking about what it might seem he was talking about, could he? She could scarcely believe that after all the years of tip-toeing around each other, they were finally going to talk about something more in depth than the time of day or the prospects of the weather, and that of all people it would be Enos who would bring it up.
"Say what?" she demanded. "How am I supposed to know what in the world you're talking about?"
Enos stepped forward, closing the distance between them to stand directly in front of her. "How come you can tell me when you're dreaming, but you can't say it to my face?"
)()(EARLIER THAT DAY)()(
He caught her as she fell, and knowing he couldn't simply lie her on the ground, had scooped her up in his arms without giving it another thought. Holding her closely in the quiet brush of falling snow, the chill of winter melted away into a pristine summer day as Enos let himself remember...
He would have been no older than fourteen or fifteen because it had been before the Academy, and before he had considered himself an orphan for all intensive purposes. The two of them had been down at Hazzard pond, where both had wiled away countless hours of their childhoods, but the day had taken a turn when she'd stepped on a bee. He'd carried her the two miles back to the farm, though he remembered he had not been a perfect gentleman. In fact he had told her she deserved to get stung, running around with no shoes in the middle of a clover patch.
As always when Enos thought of his and Daisy's past, there was the remainder of something deeper – a richness that through the years had dulled – like a piece of chrome, left to weather the elements until it's former brilliance seemed as lusterless as plastic. He had shied away from any physical closeness, not because he felt less for her than he had twenty years before, nor for the sake of embarrassment, but because he feared it was a door that, once open, he would never be able to close again. He had never held with the idea that it was better to have loved and lost. He thought it better to not go down that road in the first place. And yet, for all her dalliances with other men and her flirting with him, he could never shake the memory of how close they had once been and the hope that someday - somehow, she would remember, too, and miss it.
He started towards his patrol car, warring with himself as to whether he should just sit with her in the car until she woke up or whether he should go ahead and drive her home, when she stirred and her eyes fluttered open briefly. She looked up, her gaze unfocused, as though she were seeing something far behind him. With a sigh, she closed them again, nestling against his shoulder as the words fell from her lips – not in the slurred voice of half-sleep nor as the whisper of a secret, but clear as crystal and in a tone more honest and heart-felt than he'd ever heard before:
"I love you, Enos."
He nearly dropped her.
"Daisy?" he murmured quietly, suddenly unsure of whether he hoped she was awake or asleep.
There was no answer, and her body lay slack and still in his arms, wrapped in the sleep from which she would awaken later in her own bedroom.
Alone and unobserved, Enos pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead.
"I love you, too, Daisy Mae."
For a moment, Daisy could only stare at him, speechless. When you're dreaming... Lord Almighty, what had she said? She felt the heat rise in her cheeks as he waited for her answer, his hazel eyes never leaving hers - all trace of naivety and shyness fled, blotted out by a knowledge he possessed that she did not.
"W..what did I say?" she whispered.
His eyes narrowed suspiciously, as if trying to divine whether or not she truly didn't know. "What do you think you might have said?"
In a dream... and suddenly, she had a burning question of her own - the pivotal difference between him and the Enos of her dream. "Why'd you come back?" she asked, instead. "When your mother took off with you after your dad died, why'd you make her stop? Why'd you come back to Hazzard?"
Enos' look switched to one of confusion. "What's that got to do with the price of eggs?"
"Cause there are things you've never told me, either," she answered, softly.
For a long moment, he said nothing, and they simply stared at each other face to face- each realizing that they stood at the razor's edge of their own destinies. A last moment to laugh and say "I'm just kidding", but neither said a word.
"You know why I came back," he said, finally, his voice barely above a whisper.
"No," she said, shaking her head, "I don't. You never talked about it."
He closed his eyes and sighed deeply, and she knew he was remembering that day. A day that had changed his life forever. He'd come back home and Sheriff Harris had convinced him to take his high-school equivalency test at sixteen instead of graduating and enter the Police Academy in Atlanta. At last he opened his eyes and looked down at her.
"The only thing I could think about was that every mile she drove took me further away from you," he told her. "And the thought of never seeing you again was more than I could stand."
If I'd only known...thought Daisy - but she hadn't. Neither of them had had enough courage to say the things that needed to be said, and over time the silence had worn away at the bond between them, leaving a deep and bottomless chasm until they had suddenly found themselves on separate sides of a great divide with no idea how to bridge the gap.
Daisy felt the tears coming, like a tidal wave that threatened to drown her, and as much as she didn't want to cry - not here, not now, there was nothing she could do to stop it. Instead she closed her eyes tight against them, wishing them away and yet feeling somehow freed as they spilled from her.
She felt Enos step closer, until she could feel the warmth of him next to her in the cold air, could feel his fingers against her cheek as he gently wiped away her tears
"Don't cry, Daisy."
"I'm sorry," she cried, "I'm so sorry..."
"I don't understand what you've got to be sorry for."
She took his face in her hands, feeling the warmth of his skin beneath her fingers, how real he was, how alive... "I'm sorry I never told you back then how much I loved you," she said. Her eyes captured his, willing him to believe her. "For as long as I've known you, Enos, I have always loved you."
She embraced him with such force that he was obliged to take a step back to keep his balance before he wrapped his own arms around her.
"I don't want you to go," she pleaded, her voice muffled against his chest, "I don't want you to leave me again. I know I ain't got any right to ask you to stay, but..."
She felt his chest move, with laughter or tears she wasn't sure until he spoke, his breath warm against her hair.
"I told them 'no', Daisy."
She raised her head to look at him, and though his eyes were suspiciously damp, there was a depth of joy dancing behind them that she hadn't seen in more years than she could recall.
"Really?" she asked, bewildered. "But...why?"
He laughed. "Why? 'Cause I was miserable in LA. You wanna ask me a question? Ask me why I quit the LAPD and came back to Hazzard where Rosco treats me like second fiddle to Flash, and Boss spends his free time tryin' to figure out how to fire me."
His grin was contagious and Daisy wiped the last of her tears away, thinking that she had wondered that, but he had never acted any differently towards her when he'd come back than he had before he'd left. Sure, they'd gone on 'dates' that weren't really - she'd stuck to safely mundane and superficial topics and she supposed in hindsight he'd probably wondered why she'd agreed to go out with him in the first place. No, they'd had more the flavor of two people going to the library to work on a school project together than two people who might be in love with each other. Running away...she'd been running away, even then.
"Why'd you come back?" she asked, needing to hear him say it.
He sighed deeply. "Because I missed you. Terribly." He shook his head. "I can't help it, you know. I tried. It's the reason I left Hazzard in the first place. I didn't want to be in love with you anymore, Daisy."
The truth stung, and it only served to reveal just how much she had hurt him that he had actually left the place she knew he loved to try and forget her.
"I don't know," he continued, "I reckon maybe if I'd just met you in school when we were older, I would've been able to, but...I can't even remember a time before I knew you. We were both so young when my pa' started running shine with Uncle Jesse. I was only three or four. We just...we just-"
"We just always were," she finished, giving him a sad smile. "You and me, against the world."
He laughed softly, remembering all the scrapes they'd gotten into when they were younger. "Yeah."
"I miss those days."
Explain what you want... She gave him a meaningful look. "But I want more...," she murmured.
A smile played at the corner of his mouth as he gave her a chaste kiss on her forehead.
She grinned, knowing he was teasing her. "More than that..."
He leaned over and kissed her cheek.
His eyes, full of mischief, met hers. "You know, I was thinking, maybe we need another twenty years to think about-"
That was as far as he got before she kissed him.
He tightened his arms around her and kissed her back - not in the shy, awkward way at the pond after she'd asked him to marry her, but with all his heart. His hands moved up her back, tangling in her hair as their kiss deepened.
Suddenly, the world outside Daisy's closed eyes suffused with a brilliant, blinding, golden light, and she felt Enos laugh as he broke their kiss.
"You're missing your sunrise," he said, softly, resting his forehead against hers.
She wrapped her arms around him inside his coat and lay her head against his chest as they stood, watching the mountains blaze to life. "Doesn't matter," she said, hugging him tight. "This is better."