Regional FBI Director Gordon Cole entered his room at the Great Northern, and fidgeted with his hearing aid. Whistles and pops went unnoticed as he turned it off, put it on the table, and flopped into a soft and silent bed. He stared at the knotty pine ceiling. So low. Honey colored. Sleep would come soon. He was exhausted, and a little dazed. This town of Twin Peaks was completely bizarre, an almost surreal place. He blamed the Douglas firs. They always conjured up bad juju.

But something else had happened in this strange little town, with the delightful diner and exquisite views of waterfalls. Gordon Cole had fallen head over heels in love.

It was the last thing he expected. Her name was Shelly Johnson. An ordinary name for an extraordinary beauty. How on earth could he hear her? She stirred something in his heart he hadn't felt in years. But there was something so sad about her. She was mixed up somehow, it didn't take a genius to figure that out. Nearly fifteen years in the field had shown him many women with that same demeanor.

All he knew was, he had to see her again soon. Tomorrow.

The last thing Gordon thought about before konking out was a vision of Shelly feeding him that gorgeous cherry pie, naked. WOWEEE.

-o0o-

THE BACK STORY.

Gordon lost his hearing soon after joining the FBI, after contracting a very bad bout of scarlet fever. He was lucky - he barely made it through alive, but would forever be cursed with shouting and whistling hearing aids. It wasn't long before Peggy, his college sweetheart, couldn't take it anymore. She broke up with him just before he planned to pop the question.

From then on, his work would be his life. Oh, there'd be a dalliance here and there (he was only human!)…a librarian in Pittsburgh, a surgeon in Philadelphia…but always the shouting shook them off after the second date. No matter how hard he tried to be nice, the shouting drove everyone bonkers. It was embarrassing, but he'd gotten sadly used to it. He tried to put on the suave Casanova act to save face around the other agents, but his dorky come-on lines had become a bit of a joke. He was actually very lonely.

Although Gordon Cole had started out as a composite sketch artist, his sharp, inquisitive brain moved him up in other fields. He had managed to continue off the field as a researcher, and moved his way up the ladder. Being deaf was, at first, out of the question for field work, but he proved to be a wonderful asset, and they found a niche for him. No one could make up a code quite like Gordon, and his modus operandi brought an excellent field record to his region. He'd transferred to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for a few years, where he met Agent Dale Cooper, then a year ago, following up on the Theresa Banks case, transferred back to his home state of Washington.

-o0o-

THE NEXT AFTERNOON

After meeting with an extremely bizarre one-armed man who appeared possessed at the sheriff's office, Gordon found himself back at the Double R Diner. He strode in the door, confident as could be. Shelly stared at Gordon with a dazed smile.There he was again, the deaf FBI agent, who seemed to take his romantic cues from Pepe Le Pew.

She had to admit, he was quite handsome, in a weird way. Something about his face. He seemed like he might be a lot of fun. After all, Agent Cooper had given his approval. She didn't think he'd set her up with someone creepy. And, what had she told Annie yesterday about "opportunities?"

Opportunities. Forget it, Shelly Johnson. You didn't deserve anything nice, she thought.

"Miss Johnson. What a delight to behold you in my presence once again."

"Hello, Agent Cole! Can I get you something?"

"Please. Spare the boring formality. Call me Gordon. I would thrill to it. Could I perchance have some cherry pie and a cup of coffee?" he said.

"Yes, of course! And…it's Shelly. You can call me Shelly," she giggled.

"Shelly. A lovely name for the Roman Goddess of Bunn Coffee Makers."

Shelly went to the back room. Bobby was off doing something or another that night, and wouldn't be back for hours. She smiled to herself as she prepared the coffee. Norma sidled up to her with a sly smile.

"I think your shift is done, Shelly," she said.

"I have a half hour left!"

"I'll pay you for it. I think you should have an early night off. You've been working hard, and I think you deserve a little time to yourself."

"You mean, time to myself, with a new handsome friend?"

"Mmm hmm."

Shelly glanced up. Gordon was reading the paper. He really was cute. She looked at Norma and rolled her eyes.

"He's a little old for me. I'm only 21. He's got to be close to 40."

"He can't be THAT old. Come on. I think you should get to know him a little better. He's awfully smitten, and he seems sweet. You deserve some fun."

She walked back to Gordon and handed him his food.

"Gordon, I'm off work now. Would you like to eat in a booth? I'll come and have a slice of pie with you."

"Sweetheart, of course. This would make my week."

"Let me get changed out of my uniform."

She went into the bathroom and changed into a dress. The kind of dress Leo would have once beat her for wearing. She looked at herself in the mirror.

The heavy makeup that covered Leo's vicious bruises had become a habit now, even though he was a vegetable. Bobby said it made her look more sophisticated, but she wasn't so sure. Her heart was beating very fast. She didn't know what to talk about with this man. She wiped off some of her lipstick and looked again. Better. She didn't want to look too trampy. She unbraided her hair and put in a headband that set it off nicely. Why was she so nervous?

Gordon's face lit up as Shelly slid into the booth with him. She looked exquisite. Like a beautiful painting. That lovely long reddish hair was now framing her face, highlighting her sad smile. He scooched toward her and touched her hand.

"I realize I am being quite forward here, but hot diggity, sister, you are a knockout."

"Thank you!"

"Join me?"

"Yes!"

-o0o-

Two hours flew by. Norma looked over and smiled at the pair of romantic cuties from time to time. Shelly looked happier than she'd seen her in years. This guy was so much nicer than that dopey Bobby kid. Agent Cole's voice would rise ever so often and Norma would catch a sentence here and there. He had a great sense of humor, just like Shelly. She needed someone like that, Norma thought sadly. Poor kid has been through too much in her life.

Shelly walked over to the counter and pulled Norma around the ice cream machine.

"Norma, we can't figure out why he can hear me but no one else."

"Well, there's only one answer for that. I think you should take him to see Doc Hayward."

"Alone?"

"What do you think?" Norma gave Shelly a knowing, sly grin.

Shelly smiled.

"What if Bobby comes by?"

"I'll tell him you're running errands for me. Go, go. Give me the romantic details later."

-o0o-

A few minutes later, they were on their way, walking uptown to the doctor's office. The stories continued. Shelly realized she had been smiling the whole time. She felt light for the first time in ages, although she remembered herself and decided it would be safer to take the back road into town, in case Bobby had skipped school.

But soon Gordon stopped and turned toward her.

"I haven't asked much about you, Shelly Johnson. Where are my manners?"

"Oh. Um… There's not much to say."

"Are you married? Single? Please say single."

"Well…sort of. I am kind of married…."

Gordon's face fell.

"Well, not exactly anymore, not technically…my husband, well… He's a mess."

"I'm sorry."

"It's been pretty bad. We've been married 4 years. He's no good. I don't know how to explain this."

"You don't have to, if you don't want to."

"But that's just the thing. I feel like I need to tell you. I don't know why."

"Let's sit on the bench by the bridge," he suggested.

"Okay."

"I'm technically still married, yes. My husband is still alive, but he's a vegetable. He got shot one night by someone."

Gordon adjusted his hearing aid. "I see."

"Leo's beatings had been getting worse. I think he was mixed up with some drug people and every night he came home he'd find something to punish me for. A dirty dish, or a spot on the floor, and he'd wail me with a sling. I can't stop thinking about it."

Gordon had indeed been briefed on Leo Johnson earlier in the week. He hadn't made the connection that Shelly Johnson was his young wife – this forlorn girl, next to him, hair of chestnut curls. The realization hit him like a ton of bricks. Leo Johnson was indeed a very dark character.

"See this here?" She pointed to a gash on her jaw. "He used to beat me with soap in a sock. This one on my arm was from when he burned me with a cigarette for ripping his pants in the dryer. He tried to kill me in an arson fire. I got in the habit of wearing all this makeup. I found a good foundation to cover the bruises. And dark lipstick covers the cut scars."

"How long has he been in his current condition?"

"Several weeks. He's at home now, in a wheelchair, being taken care of by me and a day nurse. Bobby, that's this guy I know…it was his idea. I just wanted him to go away forever, but Bobby got it in his head that I could get more insurance money if I took care of him. Bobby's kind of a schemer, but the fact is, I'm flat broke. If I didn't have this job I'd be left with $42 for the whole month. I'm selling off a necklace that was a gift."

"Ah."

"Like I said, Agent Cole…Gordon, I don't know where my head has been at. Part of me wants to get back at Leo for all the torture. I'm scared. I'm angry, I'm disappointed in myself. I just don't know what to think anymore."

"I don't blame you. I'd like to destroy him myself."

"Then I'll tell you the whole truth. I've been seeing Bobby behind Leo's back. He was so nice to me and treated me well and I liked getting even with Leo."

"Do you love this Bobby?"

"I thought I did, but he's really making me mad. I'm beginning to realize he's been playing me for some easy money. It's been a really stupid plan. I don't want this kind of pressure anymore, I don't think it's right. I don't love Leo. After being hit every day for everything, I didn't know what to do and I feel pressured into stuff I don't even want to do. I'm just tired."

Gordon's blood ran cold. He'd heard dozens of stories like hers over the years, but he felt a rush of affection for her. This was no shrinking violet, but she was certainly in a bad place. He took her hand. Their fingers locked together on her lap.

"I'm sorry." He squeezed it. She looked into his eyes and squeezed gently back. Shelly liked the simple connection. Something about Gordon seemed right. She knew she could trust him, even though she felt stupid about her own dumb decisions.

"Well, now you know all my dark secrets. I'm ashamed of a lot."

"If you don't mind my asking, what was your childhood like growing up?"

"Norma's been my only family since I started working. My dad's dead, he got shot in a hunting accident. My stepdad took off a while back. Mom is an alcoholic in a trailer on the end of town. I've got a few half brothers and sisters. Not exactly the most solid of upbringings. Mom's a mess."

"I understand much better now. Leo Johnson must have seemed like a stable character for you to marry him."

"I can't believe I've been so stupid. I know I'm not, but I am disappointed in myself. Did you know I skipped a grade in school? I used to be smart. I used to love to read. I haven't been able to concentrate on a book in a few years, because Leo would hit me for not doing something with the house. Sometimes I feel like I'm under a bad spell."

"Have you ever thought about college?"

"Sometimes. When I dropped out of high school it was for a stupid reason. I finished my GED at the diner in secret."

"What do you like?"

The question took her aback for a second or two. No one had ever asked.

"Hmm. Well…I like photography. I used to take pictures in high school and loved the darkroom. Leo broke my camera. It had belonged to my grandpop, but he didn't care. Leo smashed it against the wall. I haven't been really allowed to think about much besides keeping from getting hit."

"I understand."

"You don't judge me? Think I'm young and foolish and stupid? Because I feel like I have been."

"No. Quite the contrary. In fact, I hope you don't judge me as being foolish and stupid for my age. Because I really am swept away by you, my goddess of the Douglas firs. By the way, I'll be 40 next January, in case you were wondering, but I'm a young 39."

"I was wondering. But it doesn't really bother me. Leo's 10 years older than me, you know. I don't even think about it."

"I didn't. But good. You like older men. I hope you'll like older men who treat you well. We do exist."

"I guess."

Gordon turned to her and held both her hands in his. Shelly noticed her palms felt sweatier.

"Shelly. I hope you don't mind me asking this because we barely know each other, and I know it's weird, but if you need a hand getting a leg up in the world, would you consider talking to me? Maybe thinking about college or moving to the city?"

"Maybe..."

"I see someone in front of me who can do that. This isn't a come-on. You're extremely smart and perceptive. You seem like the type who people see as naïve, but you're very bright. This town is a dangerous place for that, Shelly. I'd hate to see you waste away your life with people who don't appreciate how wonderful and strong you are. You might think you're trash, but that's because they're treating you that way."

Shelly started to cry. No one had ever spoken to her that way before, not even Grandpa. Gordon actually gave a shit about her. He wasn't just after her for sex or a quick affair. She didn't know how to respond.

"I never told anyone what Bobby and I did to Leo. I'm so embarrassed."

Gordon took a hankerchief from his breast pocket, and wiped the tears from her eyes.

"Desperation drives people to do stupid things, but your desperation is clearly different than your boyfriend's. I see a good person in front of me who needs a place to make a difference. My advice to you, whether or not you decide to take it, is to chuck it and move forward. But just see that the high road is an option."

"Thank you," she croaked. "Gordon, we should probably head up to Doc's."

"Sure. Let's rock."

-o0o-

They turned the corner on the main road.

"This looks like the doctor's office," he said.

"Yep. It looks like he's in."

"Well, let's find out the mystery, shall we?"

Doc Hayward had no clue. He held tuning forks to Gordon's ear, adjusted his hearing aid, everything. Gordon's ears were completely covered in scar tissue from his long ago illness. He put Shelly behind the curtain and told her to talk. Gordon held a conversation with her just fine, but could hear nothing else. Even Doc Hayward's clapping right behind him went undetected.

"MR. COLE, THE ONLY THING I CAN FIGURE OUT HERE IS THAT SHELLY JOHNSON IS VERY SPECIAL, AND YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO WHAT SHE SAYS."

"MY UNCLE WAS A SHRINER! WHY ON EARTH WOULD SHELLY WEAR A FEZ? GOOD GRIEF, WHAT KIND OF CRAZY DOCTOR ARE YOU?"

Shelly smiled sheepishly at Doc Hayward.

"Are you doing okay, Shelly?" he asked her in private. "That must have been quite a bruise on your eye. It's clearing up okay. Next time come see me, okay?"

"I'm okay now, Doctor. Thanks for helping my friend."

"I'm not sure what help I did. Don't worry about a fee. I found this entertaining. Who IS this guy?"

"Agent Cole. He's Agent Cooper's boss."

"I see. Well, have a good time."

"I will."

Doc Hayward watched as they left. Poor Shelly Johnson. He'd stitched her face up once. Pretty good job of it…you could barely see the scar. But Shelly's makeup expertise had hidden much more. It was clear Leo beat her – he was glad she never had children with him. He remembered her when she was just a sweet little girl, extremely bright. How disappointed he was to hear she'd dropped out of school. He couldn't figure out why she was with this FBI agent, of all people, but he liked him.

-o0o-

Gordon and Shelly started walking back toward the Double R.

"Amazing scenery in this town."

"I suppose so. I've been thinking about what you just said to me on the walk up. I'd like to see more of the world so I can appreciate it better. It feels like a trap sometimes. I've always wanted to visit somewhere interesting, like Greece or England."

He looked down at her and studied her face. The sad look had returned.

"Here."

He scrawled numbers on his business card. He pressed it gently in her hand.

"This is my direct line and my home number. I'm hardly ever home, so it's usually the office number. Unfortunately, I'm unsure as to how long I will be here. I wish it could be forever, but alas, duty will call soon. I hope you call sooner."

"Oh." Her face fell. She had been having such a nice time with Gordon.

"Don't worry, Shelly. I'll be back. I want you to think about this good and hard. I would love to give you a hand."

"I can't…"

"We'll talk about that later. I must say, I really enjoyed this excursion and getting to know you. I wish we could continue tonight, but I must meet Agent Cooper at the Great Northern and see how the spee-lunking went. Shall we do this again soon?"

Shelly nodded.

"I like you very much, Shelly Johnson."

Shelly grinned. "I like you, too."

"Okay. It's a date."

"Do you need a ride home?" he asked.

"No, I have a car."

"Okay."

The thought had crossed her mind to just ride out there with Gordon, and spend some extra time alone, but she decided against it. She didn't want Gordon to see where she lived, in the middle of nowhere, with Bobby lurking around and Leo sitting there slobbering like a slug. Her mind was reeling. College. Yeah, eff Bobby and his get-rich-quick schemes.

Gordon gave her a strong hug. She hugged back. His hearing aids whistled. Her hair smelled really nice.

-o0o-

Sure enough, the next morning Gordon got word from Diane that he would have to head back to Seattle. He decided to load up on some pie before leaving. Coffee for the 3-hour trip. He didn't want to leave without saying goodbye to Shelly, not after the long talk they'd had. He thought about her the whole time he packed. He put aside those fleeting selfish visions of taking her back to his hotel…no. Not this time. Shelly was special. He wanted nothing more than to see that sad smile of hers vanish. He saw it flash away as he wove his tales of bravery…most of them sort of true…and it lightened his heart a little. If only she could just branch out a little. She was a wonderful mystery.

An hour later, he strode in the diner. Shelly was already waiting at the booth for him in a gorgeous sheer blouse, denim miniskirt, and black chemise. They were the only customers.

"Holllly smokes! You are a vision of loveliness," he gasped, as he sat across from her.

"Oh, don't be silly."

"Bless you. I brought you an excerpt from my epic pie poem I promised. Let me read it to you. NORMA, THIS IS ABOUT YOU, TOO."

Shelly giggled. "Okay…."

He pulled out the diner napkin that he'd scrawled upon the previous afternoon. Norma hovered over the counter to listen as Gordon read with thundering drama.

"I THOUGHT THAT I WOULD UP AND DIE,

WHEN I FIRST DID GORGE ON NORMA'S PIE.

THE TOP WAS LATTICED IN A GRID SO MERRY,

ITS FLAVOR: TART AND TANGY CHERRY.

IT RESTS SO SWEET INSIDE MY BELLY,

SERVED TO ME BY MY SWEETHEART, SHELLY.

THE PACK IT PUNCHED! WHAT A KICK!

I ATE SO MUCH IT MADE ME SICK!

I FEARED I SHOULD BE THOUGHT A HOG

BY THE SCOWLING LADY WITH THE LOG."

Norma and Shelly roared with laughter. Epic, it was indeed.

"GORDON, I WOULD LOVE A COPY OF THIS," shouted Norma.

"YOU GOT IT, MY DEAR. I HAVE IT MEMORIZED, SO HERE'S MY NAPKIN."

Norma tacked it on the ice cream machine. She'd have it printed up later.

Shelly hadn't laughed so hard in ages. Gordon was great. As he animatedly talked about taking down a criminal, she wondered fleetingly what he would be like in bed. Or at least if he was a good kisser. She shouldn't let her mind wander there.

Agent Cooper and Annie arrived some time later, as well as a few more diners. The Log Lady, unknowingly the subject of scorn in the Epic Pie Poem, ordered meatloaf and broccoli.

Shelly thought Annie and Dale Cooper looked really cute together. Gordon swung around next to Shelly. She was highly conscious of his body pressed against hers in the booth; it made her heart beat a little faster. He ordered three slices of pie for everyone and asked if she'd share with him. She smiled and nodded. She kept thinking about the hilarious poem. Annie would get a great kick out of it.

He shouted to Agent Cooper something about her being a "rare and precious individual." She sat there, slightly embarrassed, but enjoying the amusing chat.

It was clear as a bell to Agent Cooper that his friend Gordon was absolutely smitten. He'd chosen wisely. Shelly Johnson was a nice girl – a little misguided, but very sweet. Yes, this was a good thing. He sipped his coffee and enjoyed Gordon's crazy wooing.

Gordon loudly announced how much of a miracle Shelly was. It was a little embarrassing, but he was so earnest that she didn't mind.

Suddenly Gordon turned to her and said he had to leave, but he wanted to kiss her before he left. In front of everyone? Yikes. Sure. She leaned in for a kiss, but got startled by the bell and sudden shouting.

Bobby stomped over to them, rage over his face. Just like…. Oh, shit.

"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?"

"YOU ARE WITNESSING A FRONT THREE-QUARTER VIEW OF TWO ADULTS SHARING A TENDER MOMENT!"

Shelly froze. God.

Gordon turned to Shelly with a delighted smirk.

"Acts like he's never seen a kiss before."

Agent Cooper tried to explain to Gordon who he was, but Gordon either couldn't hear, or was having none of it.

"TAKE ANOTHER LOOK, SONNY, IT'S GONNA HAPPEN AGAIN!"

Gordon leaned in and kissed her fully. Electricity zapped through her. It was a brief kiss, almost chaste, a flicker of tongue brushing against her lips…wow. Wow. Talk about knocking off socks. This guy was good. Shelly felt a little woozy and hoped the others wouldn't notice her breathing faster. All she could think about was THAT.

Bobby stomped out in anger.

"WHO ON EARTH WAS THAT NITWIT?" he shouted. The others in the diner started laughing, except the Log Lady, who placidly continued with her meatloaf.

"BOBBY BRIGGS," yelled Agent Cooper.

"Ah, THAT is young Bobby. I KNEW IT." He whirled toward Shelly. "Him? Really? You can do better." He raised and lowered his eyebrows quickly. Agent Cooper and Annie laughed.

"I'm…actually glad you did that." Shelly felt her face turn fifty shades of red.

"That makes two of us. And I'll do it again…another day. Remember that kiss always, Shelly, it was a reeeeal zinger. COOP, THAT WAS WHAT YOU CALL MY FINEST MOVES. TAKE A NOTE FROM THE MASTER."

"I COULDN'T AGREE MORE, GORDON!" He flashed the thumbs up.

After they'd finished the massive quantities of pie, Coop and Annie lingered around with them for close to a half hour; small talking, shouting at Gordon. Finally, Gordon looked at his watch.

"GONNA HAVE TO MOTOR, FRIENDS. JUST WHEN I WAS HAVING THE MOST FUN."

They all stood up. Gordon shook Annie and Agent Cooper's hands, then bear hugged Shelly with his usual gusto.

"I'll see you soon, Shelly," he whispered in her ear. "I mean that. Don't forget me."

"I had fun. I'm going to miss you."

"Next time I'm in town, we can go stargazing or bird watching or dance a hot tango."

"Or we can just talk again by the bridge."

"Absolutely. But for pete's sake just don't get married again, especially to that nitwit."

"I won't. I think I've learned my lesson, Gordon." She laughed uncomfortably.

"You're going to be fine, Shelly Johnson. Trust me. And I'll be in touch. Call me anytime if you need anything.

"I'm so glad we met."

"Words to thrill by."

Shelly's eyes never left him as he smiled, blew a massive kiss at her and the other ladies at the diner, and left. What a crazy, weird, happy time.

Agent Cooper went into the bathroom – he had drunk at least 4 cups of coffee – and Annie slumped back in the booth with her.

"Opportunities, eh?" Annie teased, as she forked another piece of pie. "That guy is hilarious."

"Wait until you read Gordon's epic pie poem," laughed Shelly. "Better yet, I'll read it out loud to you." She ran over to the ice cream machine.

Annie hadn't laughed so hard in a long time.

"I don't know, Shelly, he seems like a keeper. If you don't mind me being too forward, I think you're too smart for that Bobby guy."

Shelly got quiet.

-o0o-

The next week was a whirlwind. Bobby was furious about the public humiliation and halfassedly proposed to her, right in the diner. Shelly didn't know what to say. She was flattered, but after she thought about it for a few days, decided it was absurd. Bobby was a kid. Leo was still very much alive. No. No way. This was insane.

Bobby made a constant pest of himself, scheming and whatnot, flaunting their relationship in front of Leo. It was too dangerous. And wrong. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore. A couple of days later, she told him gently that she needed her space, and that he should find someone else.

"It's that old police guy, isn't it? The one you were making out with? I saw you, you loved it. You stupid little whore."

"Get out."

"I will. I FUCKING WILL! Hope you like old dick. You're missing out." He knocked over a stool and punched the juke box on the way out. Wanda Jackson started blaring out of nowhere. The Log Lady asked for more gravy.

Shelly's eyes brimmed with tears. So that was it. She finally saw him for who he was. A selfish, spoiled bully. She'd been so stupid.

You don't get your way, you hit things. Sounds like Leo taught you more than I bargained for.

Norma came over and held her while she cried. No more bad boys, she vowed. That was it. She needed a change.