Maggie Bunker-née-Watts officially became Kurt Bunker's wife on a gorgeous June day, with a breeze off the river ruffling the trees in Brock Lotus's front yard. The sheriff had offered his house for the event by pointing out that the huge lawn and river view were vastly more suited to a wedding reception than their little house in the middle of town, and she couldn't disagree.
Maggie would have thought the shine would've worn off the whole idea of weddings after her first marriage had turned out the way it had, but that was before she caught sight of Kurt in his tuxedo, shy and tongue-tied and still the most handsome man she'd ever laid eyes on.
And she'd thought it wouldn't feel right to marry Kurt on the same lawn where Calvin had died, but she didn't even think about it beyond a little shakiness at her first sight of that too-familiar river view. After all, with the kind of pasts that she and Kurt had, the entire town was washed in blood; finding places that didn't have bad memories would've been harder. It was fitting, perhaps, to take the worst memory of them all and paint it over with something beautiful.
The thing that really surprised her was how many people turned up for the wedding. During those last years with Calvin, when she'd felt like all but a prisoner in his house, she had stopped having close friends, pushing people away rather than inviting them in. But most of the casual acquaintances she'd invited (co-workers, neighbors, a few parents of Hank's little playmates) did actually show up, and for Kurt's sake, most of the sheriff's department turned out, bringing their spouses and kids. She kept seeing a look of soft, wondering delight on Kurt's face whenever he looked around at the lawn full of people, people who were there for them.
And there a few people there that nobody had invited. Not that this was a bad thing, or a surprise. In a small town, everyone knew everyone else's business, and a big wedding at the sheriff's house was inevitably going to have a few people turning up as friends-of-friends, or just showing up for the free food.
Still, she was as surprised as anyone else when the former sheriff, Brock's predecessor, came over to the reception line to shake Kurt's hand. Kurt's face lit up like a sunrise at the sight of him. "I didn't know you were in town, sir."
"You don't have to 'sir' me, Bunker," Hood said. "You don't work for me anymore." He released Kurt's hand with a clap on his arm, and turned to give her a hug. "Congratulations."
"Thank you," she said, hugging him back politely. She'd never really known the former sheriff at all, not like she'd gotten to know Brock through Kurt. But Kurt was still staring at him with a look that was pure happiness.
"Are you back for long, sir?"
"Oh, I don't know," Hood said. "Heard Brock's doing a great job, town's safer than it ever was. Not much room for two sheriffs in one town."
He wandered off then, but he didn't leave; she glimpsed him a bit later, talking to -- why, wasn't that Sugar Bates, who used to run that bar on the outskirts of town? She knew the bar was closed (it'd been boarded up the last time she drove by), but there he was. Interesting, wasn't it, how people just kept coming back to this town when they thought they'd left it behind.
Like Kurt had. Not that she was complaining.
She looked around reflexively for Hank, for the fourth time in as many minutes (keeping track of a small child in a group of this many people was a never-ending hassle), and tensed a little when she located her son and found out which of their more colorful guests he was talking to.
Sensing her concern, Kurt slipped an arm around her and kissed the top of her head. He followed her gaze and then lowered his head to murmur in her ear, "It's okay. He's a friend of Sher -- of Mr. Hood. Hood wouldn't bring anyone who would be dangerous to Hank in any way."
Her mouth was open to argue, but then she shut it. There were times, all too many times, when she spoke and heard words coming out of her mouth that her father, or Calvin, had put there. And she didn't want to be that person.
Instead she put her arms around Kurt and leaned into him, as the wind fluttered her white dress. "You're a good influence, you know. On me, and on Hank."
His laugh was soft and startled. "Never been accused of being that before."
"First time for everything," she murmured, and he pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
Job couldn't believe he was back in this podunk hell hole. What the hell was it about Banshee, Pennsylvania, that made it so fucking hard to escape from? He didn't like this town, he didn't like weddings, he hadn't planned to come to this one, and he had no idea what he was doing here except that it was completely and entirely the fault of the man who was at the moment, once again, calling himself Lucas Hood ... and who had spent way too much of the reception off talking to the cops in the little deputies' clique over by the barbecue. A cover job was one thing but Hood seemed to be going out of his way to voluntarily associate with them, which just went to show the man had no sense of big-picture perspective at all.
At least the food was halfway decent. Job sat on a picnic bench with a paper plate, rearranging his peach taffeta skirt when the wind disarrayed it (he'd thought about wearing white, but rule #1 of weddings: don't upstage the bride) and wondered how long it was going to take Hood and the-woman-currently-called-Carrie to get tired of schmoozing with the hayseeds and get the hell out of here to somewhere that he could get properly wasted to forget about this waste-of-time afternoon.
He looked up when one of the innumerable rugrats scampering around under the adults' feet plopped onto the bench next to him and stared at him curiously. Job stared back with the same kind of flat gaze he might have used to meet the eyes of a cat. He didn't like kids. He didn't do kids. And there were all too many damn kids at this damn wedding.
Finally the kid said, "Are you a boy or a girl?"
"I like to keep people guessing," Job said. He reached for his drink.
The kid wrinkled his forehead as he tried to puzzle through the answer, then evidently gave up. Instead he stared up at Job's eye makeup for a minute and then leaned forward and whispered shyly, "I like your glitter."
"Thanks," Job said. He took a long drink and drained most of the glass. More booze was needed. "I like it too."
"Big time college girl now, I hear," Sugar said to Deva.
Lucas Hood's daughter sat with her legs straddling the picnic bench, skirt hiked up to display artistically torn leggings. She'd shown up to the wedding in eye makeup that would've fit right in on a raccoon (or her mother, he thought, back in her vigilante days), dressed in black with a few splashes of color, and an expression that dared anybody to make anything out of it. At the moment she was sucking on a straw tucked into a glass of something his old bartender's nose told him had a lot of vodka in it, even though she was at a party full of cops and couldn't possibly be pushing more than nineteen.
But hell, he wasn't her daddy, and he liked a person who knew who they were and wanted the world to know it. He'd been that angry, middle-finger-to-the-world kid, once upon a very long time ago.
"You know the funny thing," she said around the straw. "I thought I'd hate college. Figured I'd last a month, two months tops. The only reason why I went is because it got me out of this shitheap town." She glanced around, at the decorated bower and the wedding guests and the lawn sloping down to the river, and her expression was softer than her words.
"Turned out better than you thought, I take it."
"I dunno. I'm majoring in poly-sci. Maybe be a lawyer. Save the world and shit." She clamped her lips on the straw again, as if she'd said too much.
"Hope you take a little time to have fun too," Sugar told her. "You're only young once. Make sure you go to some parties, get you a few boyfriends at that college of yours."
Deva raised defiant black-ringed eyes to meet his. "I have a girlfriend," she said, in a tone that dared him to comment on it.
"Good for you, honey," he told her gently. "Good for you. It's a hard old world out there. Anytime you find love in this world, you grab on with both hands, and you hold onto it as hard as you can."
"So you're back," Brock said, handing Hood a beer -- Hood, or whatever his name was; Brock wasn't going to ask, this time. He was Hood here, and that was what mattered. "You know, we've got a deputy position open. Leland -- that's Cruz's replacement -- just moved out to Scranton; family issues. Ever think about coming back?"
Hood snorted. "I think that chapter of my life is closed."
Brock studied him. He looked decent -- a little tired, but okay; not like he'd just gotten out of prison (again) or was on the run from something. "You sure about that? I remember you told me once that you liked being a cop."
Hood smiled. "I never said I wasn't still a cop."
Brock narrowed his eyes at him. "So that's how we're playing it. You know, I understand Carrie gets letters from you, but she won't talk about it."
"I would ask you how you know that if she doesn't talk about it, but I'm going to guess the answer is 'snooping'."
"Hey, you know me, Hood. I wouldn't have stayed in this job all these years if I wasn't a terminally curious bastard." He raised his beer in a brief salute, one nosy bastard to another. "So, all right, I don't know where you are or what you're doing, and I know you'd tell me if you wanted me to know, so, fair enough. But I need you to know that it wouldn't be a bad thing if you decided to stick around for awhile. I think there are people in town who would like that."
"People, huh," Hood said with a slight smile.
"People," Brock said, and pointed across the lawn with a tilt of his head, to Carrie Hopewell engaged in conversation with the bridal couple.
"Aha," Hood said. His gaze went a little soft before he glanced back at Brock and it sharpened again. "People."
"Okay, hell, what do you want me to say? It's not the same without you around, you son of a bitch. Fewer gunfights for one thing," Brock murmured, taking a drink of his beer.
"You're doing good, you know," Hood said quietly. "It's what I hear from everyone, and it's what I see, looking around. You said it to me once, that you wanted to make people feel safe. And you're doing that."
"Yeah, well, at least until Proctor's replacement shows up," Brock grumbled, looking away. "Or Proctor himself. They never found his body, you know that? Just a lot of dead Columbians and his place all shot to hell."
"Well, if he is still alive, he's someone else's problem now, not Banshee's and not yours."
"I'll drink to that," Brock said, and they clicked beers. "Say, you want me to hold that deputy position for a few days? Just to give you a chance to think about it. Don't have to give me an answer right away."
"Don't put yourself out. The answer's not going to be yes."
"Tell you what." Brock looked back in the direction of the newly-married Bunkers. Kurt had just picked Maggie up and spun her around, belling out her wedding dress, while Carrie Hopewell snapped pictures. Kurt was laughing, really laughing; first time in the entire time Brock had known him that he could ever remember that quiet, serious kid laughing. "We're about to be down a man for a couple of weeks. I told them to take their time on the honeymoon. And with the deputy position still open, that gives us a real short-handed department." He looked back at Hood, his gaze steady. "Could use an experienced guy to fill in. Just for a little while."
Hood gave a short laugh. "You just don't give up, do you?"
"I've been told I'm like a bulldog when I get my jaws into something."
"Jesus," Hood muttered. "Look, I'm not saying yes, all right? I'm not. But I'll think about it."
"That's all I wanted," Brock said, and he opened them both more beers.