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The worst WTR episode for me was ‘In Harms Way II’.

In the first half of this two-parter, after a couple of years of engagement Walker had finally suggested he would have a serious talk to Alex about setting a date to get married, but in the final scene Walker reneged.

I thought it was a terrible betrayal of Walker’s character, and what CN and the writers were thinking of I have no idea. This story was my way of putting the situation right.


A Mad Time

By Pam G PG1701@aol.com

It was almost like an out of body experience. Alex’s head reeled – spun, in fact. At least she was sitting down and could disguise the emotional drain experienced by her body. C.D.’s words reverberated around her head.

"Cordell’s a mustang. Now you’ve got the bridle on him, but the saddle’s a bit heavy, honey, he won’t take to the cinch."

She thought, her brow creasing into a deep frown, is this what all these years have amounted to? But more than that, the way Walker had distanced himself from the discussion of their marriage. It was callous - hurtful. A side to the great man she had loved for all these years she did not know he possessed. Suddenly Alex felt more than a void; she experienced an emotion she had never before associated with Cordell Walker – distrust. This mixed with new inadequacies. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be married, after all, this was the third time Walker had been engaged, but it was time to face facts - he didn’t want to be married to her!

They had been friends for so long, that maybe he thought he had to offer her something for all these years, and this had clouded his judgment over the issue.

"Alex?"

The lovely blond slowly looked in the direction of the voice.

C.D. stared into her face. "He does love you, y’know."

Alex rose from the table, picked up her briefcase and looked the old man squarely in the eyes. "Then, C.D.," she stated firmly, "he has a funny way of showing it." And holding his look for an extra second, she turned to go.

"Alex!" C.D. jumped up from the chair. When she turned back he grasped her by the shoulders. Her blue eyes blazed with fire and frustration. "Alex, don’t go like this. Please? Sit. Have another coffee. Let’s talk." His face was impassioned. He’d known them all long enough to understand this was a critical crossroads. When Alex had a mind to she could be every bit as stubborn as her fiancé, Cordell Walker. He hated to see the two at loggerheads; it grieved his soul. Walker and Alex were as right for each other as two peas in a pod. They can’t break up now after everything they’ve been through.

Hope soared as he watched Alex replace her purse on the chair and put down her case. Rounding the bar, she sifted through some papers until she found an envelope. Grabbing the pen beside the phone, Alex scribbled furiously on the outside, then twisted the engagement ring from her finger and sealed it inside.

Her old friend was aghast. "Alex! Honey, please! Don’t do anything in haste."

"Haste?" She countered, "I wouldn’t say eight years was haste! Would you C.D.? And one thing I do know," the purse and the briefcase were reclaimed and she headed for the door, "I will not be seen as some poor woman begging a man to marry her!"

This was Alex in full lawyer mode. Accordingly, C.D. did not attempt to mediate further, but was quiet. There was something in his look which stopped Alex’s departure, and going back, her expression changed again to a gentler one. The reducing strength of will brought mistiness to her eyes as she neared the man who was as much of a father to her as her own. Alex kissed his cheek and hugged him. It was returned in full and the two quietly embraced for a few seconds.

"Bye, C.D."

"I’ll always be here for you, sweetheart."

"I know. Thank you." Squeezing his hand, she gave a brave smile and was gone.

 "DAMN IT!"

Trivette turned to his partner in astonishment. "What?" Having been called away to break-in, they were almost at the scene.

"How could I be SO STUPID!" Walker’s hand smashed into the steering wheel.

"What?" His partner’s voice had gone up an octave, and puzzlement registered on the handsome black face.

"Trivette! Get Alex on the phone for me!" was the command.

"We’re just arriving at the shoot out."

"JUST DO IT!"

Trivette could hardly remember when Walker had last raised his voice to him. It came back while he fumbled for the cell phone. La Rue! The first time La Rue took Alex prisoner. Walker had lost his temper then. This meant, the younger Ranger thought to himself, something bad had happened. But what? He grimaced before replying. "She doesn’t have it switched on."

"DAMN!"

Walker’s truck sped into the crime scene. The jewelry mart being only two blocks from C.D.’s bar, the two law enforcers found themselves first on the scene. At full speed, Walker ran towards the store. He spoke over his shoulder to his partner. "Let’s get this over with, Trivette. I have to get back to Alex." The bearded Ranger gestured for his partner to go towards the back and Trivette disappeared from view.

Carefully opening the door, Walker was beckoned inside by the frantic wave of an assistant. The small brunette was bent over the body of a man. She pointed to the back.

"Four of them. They’ve headed for the back!"

Something inside Walker chilled his body. Automatically taking stock of what he had seen, he continued his run out the far door, up the corridor and was just opening the double swing doors leading to the back of the premises when a succession of shots broke the silence. Walker broke into a run but the disappearing bodies behind the outer exit gave no chance to return fire. Taking the briefest of looks outside before throwing open the door, Walker could only watch as the black Thunderbird of the getaway car squealed in the opposite direction at high speed.

"Ughhh."

Walker spun round sharply. "Trivette!"

The sight of his partner lying on the ground filled Walker with even more despair than he already felt. He rushed to examine his friend.

Trivette was trying to get up. "I’m okay." His voice was grimaced and tight.

"Let me see." Walker peeled away the suit jacket to reveal a bleeding hole to the left side of his partner’s stomach. The blood pumped out at a steady pace. Reaching for the back door, Walker opened it ajar and yelled inside.

"Get an ambulance here. Call nine one one!"

And he lowered to his knees again. "This’ll hurt." He firmly placed a palm over the wound and pressed down.

"Ahh." Trivette squirmed and panted a brave joke. "Do you …have to be right all the time?" His eyes squinted in pain and he tried to control his breaths.

Walker looked at him. "Lay back – try to relax. We’ll be here for a few minutes. Help’s on the way."

Taking another deep breath, Trivette lay back and closed his eyes, but after a second opened them again. "Walker?"

"Yeah." Walker’s teeth clenched in his effort to put on the right amount of pressure. Can’t be too much, can’t be too little.

It was a second before his partner carried on, "What’s …what’s wrong?"

Walker shot him a supercilious look. "You’re hurt, Trivette. That’s what’s wrong." Then the Ranger’s look changed to one of regret; "I should have done this a different way. I was too dang hasty." He held his partner’s eyes.

Knowing Walker was about to offer a statement of remorse he preempted him. "Shut up, Walker. It …could have happened to either one of us." The only reply was a deep sigh, and the two kept silent until the sirens of an ambulance were heard.

"There’s no problem with this," Trivette ventured, more for something else to break the impasse. "I’ll be fine."

"Yeah." Walker shot him a look with all the reassurance he could muster.

"I’m serious." Trivette reaffirmed.

Walker agreed. "I know. I do think you’ll be okay." The Ranger looked up at the arriving help and exchanged places with the medic. The middle aged man coolly looked at the wound before breaking out a sterile pad and covering over the hole.

"Bullet’s not gone through," Walker advised.

"Okay. Thanks. We got it." Like a well oiled team the older attendant and his younger partner examined Trivette, placed him on a stretcher and put in an IV.

Walker gave a small wave to him as he was lifted into the vehicle. "I’ll follow behind, Trivette."

His partner looked anxious. "No, Walker. Go do whatever’s on your mind."

Walker took a step forward and stopped, his face reflecting his indecision. "I’ll follow behind," he said uncertainly, and there was no reply because the double doors of the blue and white vehicle were smartly closed.

Walker gave a weary sigh and headed for his truck. He’d better call C.D. first.

"…and you sure he’ll be okay, Cordell?" the old man triple checked.

"Yeah, C.D. Far as I can make out. I’m following behind now." Walker replied. He felt on autopilot. Mixed up. What was wrong with him today? A Walker stupid day he thought idly. His mind caught up with the conversation in hand only to become aware he’d missed something, his mentor almost bellowing.

"Cordell! You hear what I said?"

"What?"

"What in tarnation’s gotten into you, today? You upset Alex. Have you told her about Jimmy?"

"No. I called you first. Was she …okay, C.D.?"

"Hell no! She was far from okay. Look. I’m coming down to the hospital now. Looked like Alex was going back to the office – call her, tell her what’s happened, will ya?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, Cordell. See you shortly."

And Walker was left with static. He terminated the call from his end and held the receiver for a few minutes before pressing one of the many pre-programmed buttons. It was the one most familiar and most worn.

"Alex Cahill." The voice was flat, but business like.

"Alex," he didn’t wait for her to get in a rebuke, "Trivette’s been shot. But I think he’s going to be okay. I’m following the ambulance to Methodist."

"Oh no! I HATE it when this happens." The brief pause was evidence of her mind mentally rearranging schedules before she spoke again. "I’ll be down in about twenty minutes."

"He’ll need a bit of surgery, but I’m pretty sure it’s a clean wound and no complications. I think he was lucky – the bullet hasn’t hit any vital organs. Chances are we won’t see him till he comes back from the operation, so…if you have a meeting or something you can keep it …come up in a couple of hours."

"Sure he’ll be okay, Walker?"

He could hear the anxiety laced in her voice.

"As sure as I can be. He got hit on the side of his stomach. But he was conscious and talking fine."

"Okay, I’ll come down in a couple of hours then. Call me if anything changes, okay?"

"Yeah. Alex? I’m …sorry about earlier. If I hurt your feelings. I didn’t mean it the way it happened, actually. We will have that talk, I promise."

It seemed like a long time before Alex replied. "There won’t be any need, Walker."

The Ranger felt his gut tighten. "What do you mean?"

"Look, I have to go. Call me if there’s any change in Jimmy. Promise?"

"Yeah, I promise. What did you mean …"

"I have to go. I’ll see you later."

"Alex! Wait! What …" But the phone had already been replaced and the line disconnected. Only the dialing tone kept Walker company until he re-holstered the phone. The day was getting as messed up as a straw rope on a wet morning, and Walker couldn’t ever remember feeling so out of sorts. Pride comes before a fall he mused over the journey. He was full of himself when he met Alex for lunch earlier and she tried to have a serious conversation about setting their wedding day. He had started that on the plane when they were taking the Openshaw evidence to Houston. ‘Alex. When this is all over, I’d like for us to seriously talk about our life together.’ Her face when he said that! She had wanted to get married for so long. She couldn’t believe it. He heard her reply in his mind, ‘You mean you want to talk about our marriage?’

Walker felt like a heel. But things had gotten so complicated - as always! He’d got shot trying to deliver the Openshaw evidence. He’d had a small operation at a hospital in Houston to repair Alex’s surgical skills where she had removed the bullet from his shoulder. He shuddered slightly at the thought, but he preferred the bullet out – it was just too painful when it was still inside. That bullet coming out had given him enough freedom to take out the remaining mercs. After it was all over and they had waited for the search team to find them, he had become fatigued with the exertion of fighting. With some guilty pleasure he remember how Alex had been so supportive. Talking quietly to him, giving his back small rubs out of love and affection to keep up his physical and mental strength until help arrived. Then they rushed back to C.D. The old man took sometime to recover from his hideous beating and stab wound, and if that was not enough, he was the world’s worst patient! So time had slipped by and he and Alex’s serious discussion had never came about.

Walker rubbed a finger over his throbbing temple. He was in the hospital parking lot now, looking for a place to park. He called over both the attendant and a traffic cop and showed them his star. "Texas Ranger. I need to park. Where’d you suggest?"

They quickly beckoned to a reserved spot they knew would not be needed. Walker thanked them and proceeded to the ER, and despite a small effort to avoid it, could not stop the thoughts tumbling around his head.

No matter how busy they had been, he had avoided his promised talk of setting a wedding day. What was wrong with him? The kindest, loveliest, sexiest woman on the planet and he couldn’t commit! It was stupid – so incredibly stupid.

"Texas Ranger. My partner was brought it a few minutes ago with a gunshot wound." Walker looked around and pointed to the spot least populated. At least the waiting room wasn’t full this time. "Would you let the doctor know I’m here and I’ll wait over there?"

"Yes, sir. I’ll let them know right away. Er, your name?"

Walker turned back. "Walker. Ranger Walker." He wandered over to the most comfortable looking chair and sat down. Without thinking he had mentally scanned the room - who was there, any likely threats, the nearest exits.

Why had he put off Alex so many times? He would have to come out with some explanation when he saw her, but what? He didn’t know the answer himself. He really did want to marry her. But … what? He had to concede there was a fear in his stomach about getting married. Would she take over his life? Would he come home and have ‘honey dos’? Would there be pantyhose in his shower? Would he get any time to himself? Walker thought to the numerous times Alex had stayed over. She was tidy, respectful of his things. Quiet – she liked to sit on the porch and watch the stars as much as he did. There was a warm glow throughout the Ranger’s body – watching the night sky with Alex was much better than watching them alone. It was an incredibly special time. In fact…

"Cordell! Have you heard anything I just said?" C.D. Parker sat and stared into the bearded face.

"What? Oh, C.D. …"

"Have you heard any news yet? Have they come out and said?"

"No. Not yet."

Irritation crept in. "Do they even know you’re here?"

"Yes they know I’m here! I just got here, didn’t I?"

The old man’s demeanor changed. "What happened, son?" He said kindly, "What’s taken with you today?"

Walker shrugged and shook his head slowly. "I wish I knew, C.D." He looked fully at his former partner.

His mentor wanted a clearer picture. "When you got to the heist – you take the front, Jimmy covered the back?"

"Yeah. But I was in a hurry. I …wanted to get back to Alex. I knew I’d upset her. I should have assessed the situation better."

"You took the front and he took the back that’s the end of it. They could have just as easily come out the front, Cordell. That’s police work, for better or worse." He paused for a second. "You both know that."

Walker slowly nodded. "Alex …she’s real upset, isn’t she?" he questioned, with some trepidation about the answer.

C.D. seemed as if he were weighing up the situation, as he didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Then silently nodding his head brought out a creased envelope from his pants pocket and handed it over.

Walker could feel the warmth from C.D.’s body still on the paper. He smoothed out the crinkles and read the hastily written note on the front.

‘I guess we won’t need this now.’

Frozen, Walker didn’t need to open the sealed packet - he could feel the outline of her engagement ring inside.

‘Will you marry me?’ Walker thought back.

Her face! From near death to such happiness! She radiated a humble pride; she had glowed with warm and love. His memory replayed her hushed, reverent ‘Yes …yes.’

He’d joked his way out of setting a date ever since, and then after telling her they would talk about it seriously, he had let her down again. Walker felt as disappointed in himself as he could ever remember.

The old man watched as the Ranger lightly rubbed a hand against his lips. This was a sure sign that the tough guy was as close to breaking as he ever got.

"Look, Cordell," C.D. tried to get things in perspective. "Jimmy’s going to be fine…"

He was interrupted. "Yeah, I know. And he won’t blame me for what happened. But," Walker looked incredulous "I’ve …let her down so bad, C.D."

"Son? What is the problem, exactly?"

It was an age before Walker answered. C.D. let the process run its course without interruption.

"I just don’t know, C.D."

"Well, let’s look at this from another angle. Which is worse? Losing Alex or marrying her?"

Annoyed, Walker stared at him. "That’s hardly a way to put it."

"How else would you put it then?"

"Well…" Walker got stuck, "oh gees." He turned away, thought for a second and got up, walking over to the coffee machine. He turned back while rooting through his pockets for change. "You want a coffee?"

"Yeah. Black."

The rooting continued. Short of the correct coins, Walker turned back and gestured. This about summed up his luck right now.

"Here." C.D. handed over some quarters. He watched the dejected form of his ex-partner clink in the money and retrieve one coffee, then the other, and come back to where they were sitting. They slipped quietly.

"I love her and want to marry her." Walker stated quietly after a while. "I just can’t seem to let go of the job long enough to fit it in." He sighed deeply.

C.D. shifted in his chair to turn more towards Walker. His tone was not accusatory, but factual. "You know what I say to that, don’t you?"

"Yeah," Walker nodded as he carried on, "I can’t want it bad enough or I’d would fit it in."

"That’s right, Cordell. And can you imagine how that interprets to Alex? How that would make her feel?"

Walker shifted uncomfortably, "I know, I know." He shook his head, "I don’t mean to deliberately hurt her."

"You can’t carry on like this. You have to decide once and for all. You have to let her have a chance of happiness with someone else if you can’t commit. It’s only fair. And one thing I know about you, Cordell, you’ll always end up doing the right thing." C.D. patted the shoulder of his deeply troubled friend.

****

Entering the hospital room with care, Alex asked quietly, "Is he okay?"

Both Walker and C.D. stood on her arrival. Alex had avoided eye contact with Walker, mainly addressing the older man.

C.D. looked down at Trivette. "Yeah, darlin’. He’s just sleeping. He’s gonna be fine."

There was a sigh of relief, "Thank God!" Alex gently took the black hand of her friend and squeezed lightly. Frowning slightly, Alex ran the back of her hand up his arm, and deciding Jimmy was cold, tenderly placed the top covering over his upper torso. It must have been pleasant as Trivette snuggled comfortably within the soft folds and seemed to relax, letting out a small, satisfied sigh as he did so.

Both Walker and C.D. marveled at her consideration, their love for her at this small act of kindness running away with them. Alex turned back to see them each with a small smile of approval. She came closer.

"If you two want to get away, I’ll stay for a while." Came her offer.

The Ranger and former Ranger looked at each other.

Walker spoke first. "I know you’re anxious to get back C.D. I don’t need to go anywhere now Alex’s here, you go."

Their burly old friend looked from one to another, and then at Trivette, and back again. "Sure?"

The couple nodded.

"Call me when he wakes up and gets cranky, then. I’ll come back and sort him out," he commanded.

Walker and Alex grinned.

Soon he was gone, and there was awkwardness. Walker gestured to the two chairs near each other and they sat.

"Alex…" Walker started.

"I don’t wish to discuss it, Walker."

Walker’s eyebrows raised slightly, "We have to discuss it sometime."

"We do?" she queried, "Why’s that? Because you want to? You haven’t been too keen before, why change the habit of a lifetime?" Quietly factious, Alex was coping better than she thought at the sight of Walker. He never failed to make her heart leap the minute she laid eyes on him; she always melted at the soft sound of his voice, and everything about the man she loved more than life itself. Pretty hard to give all that up. But Alex was surprised at the amount of strength, which seemingly came from nowhere. She leaned over and lightly patted his hand. "You won’t have to deal with it again. I’m sorry. It’s over."

Walker’s body chilled to the core. His voice somber, his reply was raspy, "You can’t mean that."

Alex bent forward slightly and pointed her finger in his direction. Her voice reflecting anger. "There is no way I’ll be seen as the little desperate woman, Walker. And that’s what you’ve turned me into. Thank God I came to my senses."

"I never meant," he changed his train of thought, "no one could think that about you."

"Okay," Alex parried, "forget everyone else, that’s what I think of me. And even if I didn’t feel that way – my mom had a very apt saying I remembered recently.

A man convinced against his will,

Is of the same opinion still.

Well, I’ll be darned if I’m going to keep convincing you!"

"You don’t have to convince, me Alex," Walker countered quickly, "I do want to marry you."

"Oh, please!" Alex sat back in her chair. After a few seconds of silence she spoke again. "It’s over. Now, we have to consider our friends, and we have to work together. I suggest that we’re friendly and courteous to each other, and the professionals we both are at work. We have to make this as comfortable as possible for those around us. Do you agree?"

Still in a state of shock, Walker found himself nodding.

"Good. Then that’s it then. Do you want to stay with Jimmy or shall I?"

Feeling the walls closing in on him Walker needed to get out. He rose – his knees feeling quite weak. "Aerh, I …need to get to the ranch." He moved to the door and looked back, but Alex had moved to the bed to check again on her patient.

The Ranger quietly shut the door behind him.

****

"Alex? Commissioner Johnson."

"Commissioner!" Alex smiled down the phone. Of all the commissioners she had worked for over the years, Andrew Johnson was one of the best. The fifty-five year old had courage and compassion surpassing most men in public office. In short, Andrew Johnson tried hard to make life better for all Texans, and Alex liked him considerably. "It’s nice to speak to you. What can I do for you, today?" she inquired.

"Alex, do you remember those threats I received about six months ago? The bomber who killed himself?"

The Assistant District Attorney remembered only too well. When the two Rangers finally caught up with the would-be assassin the day before his planned attack on the commissioner, cornered, he blew himself up – almost taking out Walker and Trivette too. It had been a close call. She shivered at the memory and forced her mind to the present. "Yes, I remember. Has something else happened?"

"Well, I’ve received a similar threat. It can’t be from the same person, so I think it’s just a copycat hoax, but would you ask Walker to stop by and tell me what he thinks? We’ve kept the letter to one side and no one will touch it till he gets here."

"I’ll tell him right away, Commissioner. Leave it to us."

"Thanks, Alex. Don’t forget to come by and see me when you’re this way again, now!"

Alex grinned. "I won’t! Bye Commissioner." Replacing the receiver Alex gave a quick look at her watch. Walker and Jimmy would be finished by now, and it was Wednesday, Walker would probably be working out in the gym. Alex made her way down and opening the double doors, looked around. Only one sound could be heard coming from around the corner and the place was deserted; Walker seemed to be alone.

He was on the Total Gym, his back firmly against the sliding board on the highest setting. His bent knees sprung away from the base plate and he twisted to the other side in a skiing motion, then powered back up, his feet becoming airborne for a few seconds before his legs were thrown back to the other side again.

Alex observed his sweat covered body. She knew he always finished with this. He told her the most important aspect of this training technique was to make sure the squat went all the way down – no cheating by forcing up from only half way! She saw him make a determined effort to get his powerful legs right down as far as they would go before his steel muscles forced his limbs off the base plate and he twisted before landing.

Walker wore a black sleeveless T-shirt and short black shorts. Both items of clothing were soaked in perspiration, evidence that he had spent some time in training. Some thought him obsessive about the regiment, but his dedicated work out and skill in the martial arts had saved not only his own life, but countless others. All in all, Walker was a consummate professional. Aside from that he was incredibly sexy Alex thought. The power in his limbs! Alex used to love the hardness of his torso when they cuddled, yet despite all the raw force he was the most gentle man she had ever known.

Stuck in her reverie, she couldn’t help but notice the more personal parts of his body – the outline of his groin as he moved and turned. The drenched biceps and the slim thighs stuck against the damp cloth of his shorts.

Suddenly Walker stopped. The room no longer reverberated with the swoosh of the board on the rails of the machine, in fact it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Slightly behind and to the side of him, now feeling guilty, Alex wondered how she could indicate her presence. The red bearded Ranger lay full length along the Total Gym, totally lost in thought and staring into space.

Alex cleared her voice first. "Hhum. Walker?"

He seemed taken a back at the sound of her voice, and jumping off, turned to face her with a look of amazement, as if he were dreaming and she was an apparition in from of him.

"Looks like a good work out." She stated.

It was a second before Walker replied, "Yeah."

Alex noticed the deep breaths. They did not seem to be the cause of his work out.

"Commissioner Johnson’s been on the phone. He’s had a threat, similar to the bomber you and Jimmy caught some months back. He’s pretty sure it’s a non-event, a copycat, but he’s asked if you could stop by and let him know what you think."

Walker nodded.

Alex gave a small smile. He seemed like a little boy with his hand caught in the cookie jar. "Okay." She turned on her heel and called behind her. "Take care out there!"

"I will. Thanks." He responded, and watched her disappear from view. Walking to the shower room, Walker smashed his fist into the punch bag. It sent a shudder through the dense padding.

****

Trivette looked over at the bearded Texas Ranger. Walker sat alone at a table towards the rear of the Bar and Grill; his foot perched on the rung of a nearby chair.

"Not much change, then." It was more a statement than a question, but C.D. Parker, ever the one to engage in a conversation, was going to give a reply whether one was required or not.

"Nope," The burley bartender leaned over. "We have to come up with a plan."

"Oh, no, no, no, no, no." Walker’s partner held up two palms. "We are NOT going down this road."

"And why not? Sometimes you have to go out on a limb, Jimmy."

There was a semi-choked reply. "No…" the younger Ranger changed his train of thought, "no plans, no schemes – and definitely NO meddling. We let things be, okay?" When there was no immediate reply he prompted one, "Right, Big Dog?"

"Jimmy! Trust me, time waits for no man, son. And the clock keeps ticking…" his voice drifted off at the end, as, automatically and as one, they both looked over to Walker’s forlorn form. But when the Ranger suddenly got up from the chair and made to turn round, the two quickly looked back.

"Guys…" Walker started, "I’m calling it a night. See you in the morning."

"Yeah, night, man." Trivette forced a smile.

Walker’s former partner joined in, "Night, Cordell."

And the two friends couldn’t help but watch as Walker turned to go, his familiar black Stetson placed firmly on his head as he strode away. It caused a sigh all round and they both looked at each other.

Jimmy Trivette broke the silence that had descended, "Three weeks gone by already. Neither one of them seems like they want to get back together, but they are both as miserable as each other." He gave a tut, "go figure!"

C.D. growled in Jimmy’s direction, "Well we’re going to have to do something!"

It brought an irritated retort, Trivette’s head gesturing from side to side, "Okay! What have you got in mind?"

"Well," C.D. concentrated, "I don’t know."

"You don’t know? That’s it? I thought you had a plan!"

"I don’t have a plan. Well I haven’t thought of one yet. I just know we have to do something."

Trivette was exasperated. He announced to no one, "Oh, great. Now I fall for it he doesn’t have a plan!"

C.D.’s eyes narrowed. "And don’t you get snippy with your elders! Something will come up – you’ll see." 

****

"C.D’s."

An authoritative voice inquired, "Mr. C.D. Parker, please."

The old man placed the elbow of the arm holding the phone onto the countertop and leaned in that direction, "This is he."

"Mr. Parker, I’m Staff Nurse Ross at Memorial calling behalf of Ms. Alex Cahill."

C.D. frowned, his bushy eyebrows knitting together in puzzlement. "Memorial? What’s Alex doing there? Is she all right? Why are you calling?"

The voice continued evenly, "Alex asked me to call you. Her vehicle was involved in a traffic accident earlier and she’s suffered a head injury. The doctor has discharged her providing she has someone sit with her for tonight – and ideally tomorrow night. We want her brought back if there is any change in her condition. If she feels pain, suffers blackouts, seizures - that kind of thing. Alex gave us your number as someone who can help her out. Would you be free to do that? It would mean going round now to her apartment as Alex has already taken a taxi back."

"I’m already on my way, sweetheart, C.D. replied irreverently. He suddenly checked himself and his indecision caused a pause.

"Excellent. Don’t hesitate to call if she shows any of the conditions I just mentioned." ordered the efficient sounding woman.

"Just a minute." C.D. countered.

"Yes?"

The older man thought for a second. "Actually, …I can’t get away right now."

"Oh. I see." Her voice was tinged with disapproval.

"Here’s the number of someone who can be with Alex. You have pen?"

 ****

"This is Ranger Walker."

The Memorial nurse reiterated the situation.

"What? C.D. couldn’t get away? What’s he thinking? I’ll go round myself now." Walker was already putting away items on his desk and reaching for his hat."

"Ranger Walker, you’ll bring her back if her condition changes? She’s taken quite a hit in that car and she’s more shaken than she realizes. But we couldn’t persuade her to stay."

Walker almost mumbled, "Stubborn woman …" and then addressed the nurse again. "I understand. I appreciate you calling. Bye. Trivette!" Walker said almost in the same breath, "Alex’s been involved with an RTA. I’m going round to sit with her. She has a head injury."

His partner was already in front of Walker’s desk. "They say she’s alright? He questioned.

Walker nodded his head, "Yeah, but" he headed out, "stubborn woman wouldn’t stay in the dang hospital – she’s gone home!"

Trivette couldn’t help a smirk, as he muttered to himself, "Sheesh. Wonder where she gets that from?" He gestured at his partner, calling after him. "Call me later let me know how she is okay?"

Walker took out the familiar key on his ring as he walked away from the elevator, and inserted it into the lock. As it opened, he took care to slowly peer around the door first.

"Alex?" He said quietly.

Walker’s heart missed a beat. His ex fiancée was on the settee, her knees up to her chin, her arms wrapped around her legs. She wore her favorite V-necked, baggy, beige sweater and stone colored leggings, with thick socks terminating at her ankles in huge crinkles. She appeared not to have heard him.

"Alex, Walker said again, his tone soft and respectful. "The hospital called. Are you okay?"

Still the blonde did not respond. He quickly went to her side and knelt beside her. "Honey?" Came the tender, velvety voice.

Alex’s eyes slowly opened and she raised her head. The top and cross of her brow was deeply bruised, and her face was deathly pale.

The tough Texas Ranger sat on the ample settee and embraced her. His arms wrapping around her protectively.

"Oh, Walker," came the tiny reply. Accepting his care Alex laid her head on his chest and flopped like a rag doll.

"Shh. It’s okay. It’s okay." Walker smoothed away errant hairs from her face and kissed the cleared spot several times.

"Walker," Alex tried again, her voice barely a whisper. "My head hurts so much."

Cordell Walker frowned. "Did the doctors give you anything for the pain?"

"Yes."

He glanced towards the coffee table, stopping his gaze on a small, brown plastic container. "Did you take any?" He queried.

"No." Alex hung on to his arm as if dizzy.

"Why not?"

The answer was delivered plaintively, "Couldn’t get the lid off."

Walker was unable to help a small smile. He made to get up, repositioning her by leaning her body on the back of the stone colored cushions. "Okay." Walker took control. He left for the kitchen and came back with a small glass of water. The top of the container was soon removed, and after reading the directions, he shook two small white pills into his hand. "Here, honey." Now back on one knee, he reached over and taking the top of her arm pulled her upright again. It brought a sigh of pain.
"Oh my head." She nursed her temples in her hands.

"Here." Walker removed her hands, slipped one pill into her mouth and held the glass next to her lips, guiding the level of liquid. She successfully swallowed the first and Walker repeated the exercise. Then his former fiancée shivered. The Texas Ranger depressed a switch next to the light stone fireplace and watched as the flames leaped into the air. He selected a moderate setting and headed off down the corridor, returning just a few seconds later with a soft, smooth feeling blanket-throw. Then taking off his jacket and boots comfortably positioned himself before drawing the forlorn heap back towards him. Lying on her side comfortably wedged between the sofa and his body, Alex relaxed across the broad, strong chest, and welcomed the companionship. She was almost instantly asleep.

"I love you, Walker," she murmured without thinking.

The warmth Walker already felt in his heart somersaulted – exploding through every part of his body. Caressing the side of her face, the tough guy kissed the top of the head of the beautiful woman.

"And I love you, too, Alex." Never had Walker meant what he said more, nor had he been so grateful to have another chance to hold the woman of his heart in his arms. These last weeks had been painfully empty and void without her. Please God, may this mishap bring a blessing for them to get back together.

Some few hours later Alex opened her eyes. The pain of her headache had dulled to a manageable level, but she was stiff and sore over all her body. And yet she felt so peaceful and safe. As her senses caught up with her she realized she was nestled in Walker’s arms. Looking up, she saw him still sleeping, his arms still wrapped around her. She observed the peaceful face, the small in and out of his nostrils as he breathed - the close shaven, soft red beard. The District Attorney did not want to wake him, but had no option but to stretch out. He woke at the first sign of movement.

"Hey." He ventured.

She gave him a small smile while carefully uncurling her limbs. They all seem to behave as if they have been playing ten games of football. "Oh." She exclaimed. Why do I…" the light-headedness returned and her hands shot straight to her head. "Ow." Ignoring it, Alex was determined to sit up. She accomplished with only a small help from Walker.

"There’s no rush. Take it easy, Alex."

"I’m okay, Alex said firmly. She inhaled deeply, then felt her arms and legs. They seemed to have been pounded in the collision.

The Ranger felt for her. "You must have taken some hit. Do you remember what happened?"

Alex shot him a glower. "DUI ran a red light. Looks like my car can’t be repaired."

Giving an understanding nod to empathize with the loss of Alex’s loved Sebring. He ventured. "Sounds like you’re lucky, though."

"Yes." Alex looked straight into his eyes. "I’m lucky for a lot of reasons." Walker picked up on the hidden meaning, and suddenly embarrassed, coyly looked down. It had been sometime since Alex had enjoyed that particular trait of Walker’s – it was an expression he had which she loved. Unable to help herself she smiled, and reached for his hand. He looked up again. "Thank you, Walker. For coming over." She smiled again and then appeared regretful. "I need to use the bathroom."

He supported her attempt to stand on her own, hanging on to her while Alex adjusted her senses. Once confident the dizziness had passed, she smiled and squeezed his hands before she let go – taking only two small steps before stopping.

He was there in an instant to support her.

"I’ll help you to the door," he suggested, and not hearing an objection knew she must have still been suffering.

"Will you manage?" He was prepared to do what ever was necessary.

"Yeah." Alex confirmed. "I’ll just take it slow." And she let go his hand to grasp the stainless steel towel rail before shutting the door behind her.

Walker raised his voice. "Don’t lock the door, Alex. Just in case. I won’t come in unless you shout for me."

It was too much of an effort to reply. But his thoughtfulness touched her, and when she finally emerged, he was rewarded with a loving smile.

The two clutched each other again for the walk back.

"Why don’t you go to bed? You’ll be much more comfortable," the Ranger suggested.

Alex looked back along the long corridor to her bedroom at the far end. He knew what she was thinking and without almost knowing, she found herself slowly eased off the ground, carried in his arms.

The door was guided opened with his foot, and Walker chose the side of the bed Alex was used to sleeping on and gently laid her down, guiding the back of her head on to the pillow. A minute later the throw was retrieved from the front room and wrapped about her ill form. Walker went to leave the room.

"You’re leaving?" Alex’s inquiry was edged with concern. It brought him back to sit by her side.

"No," he reassured, "I’ll be right here, don’t worry. If I know you, you wouldn’t have had any breakfast. And you certainly didn’t get lunch. I think you should have something in your stomach - it’ll make you feel better. I’m going to get you some soup. Just lie there and relax till I get back. Okay?"

‘Okay’, she mouthed, overcome by his consideration. She was kissed on the side of the cheek, and the cover drawn up to the top of her shoulders, and he was gone.

Hurting, but happier than she had been for months, Alex dozed until he came back sporting two mugs in his hand. Attempting to sit up was more of a challenge than expected.

"Here."

Alex felt his help as she attempted to sit back, and the pillows arranged behind her. When she was comfortable, after waiting for a few seconds to make sure, Walker handed her a mug.

"Just the usual chicken soup," he apologized. And they both smiled knowingly. It was C.D.’s ‘heal all’ recipe to cure the sick and injured. The three of them had at least two portions each in their freezers for his ‘never can tell’ emergency supply. It had been one of these Walker had warmed for them to eat.

"You have to admit" Walker offered, "it is darn good!"

Alex grinned, "I know. And I think it’s working. Either that …or the company."

Walker caught her eye for an instant and looked away, his jaw dropping slightly only to end in the slightest of smiles. Alex observed the tiny crease around the corners of his eyes, recognizing the expression as one depicting his personal, private pleasure, a gesture she had come to know so well.

The rest of the soup was supped in silence, and Walker collected the mugs when they were done.

"Now you have something lining your stomach, I’ll give you another two painkillers and you can get more sleep. You’ll be fine once you wake up again."

The suggestion offered no protest, and once the pills were downed with water Walker signaled for her to lie down again. Now on his knees, the Ranger placed her arms under the blanket and tucked in the edges.

"I’ll be next door. Call me if you need to, okay?"

"Walker? Thank you."

He just nodded and she watched him leave the room. Happy, Alex closed her eyes and instantly fell asleep.

****

"Trivette? It’s me. Yeah she’s fine," Walker answered his instant question about Alex’s well being, "still in a bit of shock and bruised, but I’m sure she’ll be okay. What’s happened with the Ross case? Syd and Gage find Zombie?"

Trivette tapped at his keyboard while he answered. "No, not yet. They’ve wormed out another couple of leads from some of the unlikely’s at a bar Zombie was supposed to go to, though. What’s your plan now? We’ve got things covered if you want to stay on."

"Thanks. I’d like to do that. I have to speak to C.D. as well." The Ranger’s voice was incredulous, "do you know he told the hospital he couldn’t get round to be with Alex? That’s why they contacted me." Walker voice reflected his inability to understand their friend and mentor, and surprise at the uncharacteristic lack of help.

"Um, well…"

"Well what?" Walker shot back.

Trivette grinned. "He coulda helped. This was his attempt to scheme!"

"Scheme?" The incomprehension was there until the penny dropped. "That old conniving buzzard! Wait till I get my hands on him!"

His partner laughed. "Well? Is it working with you and Alex?"

"Trivette!"

Trivette chuckled again. Walker’s easy embarrassment over women never ceased to amuse him.

Walker tried to recover. "I’ll check in tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay. And I’ll tell C.D. to head for the hills!"

"You do that!" Walker confirmed. And he replaced the receiver. Pausing to think through the conversation, Walker gave a big grin and shook his head. "Old coot!" He muttered with affection.

He looked around. Having already taken off his jacket and boots earlier, Walker looked to make himself more comfortable. He removed his side arm and holster and laid them carefully on the table, rolled up the sleeves of bright blue shirt, and loosened the buttons to his waist. Once he’d taken a beer from Alex’s fridge he propped up his feet on a small stool, and picking up the TV remote, flipped through the channels.

****

Alex quietly padded through her apartment, her thick socks disguising her footsteps. Now up and about, she was relieved to find she was feeling much better. Reaching the living room Alex stopped. The TV was on with the sound low, the fire the only light in the room, and Walker was stretched out full length on the settee. His head was slightly tilted back on the cushions; one leg propped up on the side support, the other dangling over the side. He looked so peaceful. Alex yet again enjoyed the illicit observation, noticing that even like this the damn man was incredibly sexy. His shirt open to the waist displayed his superbly developed chest; the way his leg draped down outlined his groin. Alex was in the process of admonished herself when Walker’s Cherokee intuition kicked in and his eyes opened to turn in her direction. It caught her off-guard.

"Oh! Uerm …," She pointed back down the corridor, "I just …"

He sat up. "How you feeling?"

"Better. Much better," she said with thankfulness.

There was an awkward pause before Alex spoke. "Er, you okay here? I mean the guest bedroom is just there." Her finger pointed to the door nearest.

"Actually this is fine …if it’s okay with you, I mean," he checked.

"No, no. That’s fine."

"There’s only a few hours till dawn."

The blond emitted a nervous laugh, "Yeah." The prolonged pause happened again. "Well, see you at dawn or thereabouts," she offered.

Suddenly remembering his manners Walker stood up.

Alex held up a hand. "That’s okay! Er…just help yourself!"

"Thanks. Glad you’re feeling better." Walker gave a small smile and watched her disappear back to the bedroom, the door only being partially closed after her.

Looking at the space she had vacated, Walker pulled himself back to the present, popped into the bathroom and returned. Turning off the TV, he lay back on the comfortable sofa once more.

****

The next time Alex awoke, it was to the delicious aroma of bacon and eggs, and her stomach growled in eager anticipation. Just as she wondered whether she should get up or not, the door gave a small creak.

"Sleeping beauty’s awake?" Walker grinned after his question.

"She’s gone. I’ll have her breakfast, though." Alex joked.

Walker gave a small laugh. "Good to see you looking so much better." He continued with sincerity.

"Well, I’m still stiff," Alex massaged some of her muscles, "But I’ll be just fine." She smiled warmly, "thank you for everything. I hope I didn’t spoil the cases you were working on? I actually gave the hospital C.D.’s contact numbers. I don’t know what could have happened."

"Trivette and the others can handle it." Walker fudged, "C.D. was a bit tied up. But it’s no problem," he confirmed.

"Well, thank you." Alex said again.

"You feel up to sitting at the table or would you like have breakfast here?" he checked?

"Table is fine. Have I got time for a quick shower?"

"Sure."

"I’ll yell as soon as I’m out."

Walker left. He half expected Alex to take an age, so was surprised when she called out only fifteen minutes later. He dished out the bacon, eggs and toast, along with fresh brewed coffee and orange juice, and had only been seated a minute when Alex joined him.

Despite her haste she looked beautiful – except for the huge bruising coming out on her brow. Standing up when she arrived, as he pulled out the opposite chair for her he couldn’t help but notice and winced.

"Yeah," Alex agreed with chagrin, "looks awful, doesn’t it?" She sighed, "Well, not much I can do for now. Except be thankful that’s all it is!"

"Good to see you have your priorities right."

"Thanks," she offered for his gentlemanly conduct with the seating. And after taking a few mouthfuls of food, "This is good."

His smile of pleasure at doing something right almost made her laugh. He could be so sweet. She gave an inward sigh. Where were they supposed to go from here? All this had proved was that she was still in love with him. It hardly helped the case to get over him at all!

They talked about general things while they ate their meal. The ranch - their horses, Ranger and Angel. Walker suggested when she was better to take Angel for a ride. He thought the mare was missing her.

Then she ventured as they both finished, "Walker? I’ll be fine, now. I know you need to get back to work." Did he look disappointed? Surely it must be her imagination?

"Yeah," he agreed. "I’ll just clear up."

"It’s okay. It’ll give me something to do later on."

He rose. He already had on his boots, so his jacket and hat were adorned, and his gun slid into the right hand pocket of the short, coffee colored, tough-looking coat.

"Well, um, I’ll keep checking in. Make sure you’re okay."

"Thanks." Alex had risen as well.

He stopped before opening the door and looked back, appearing reluctant to leave.

"Walker? Thanks for everything."

There was a nod, a pause, and the Ranger slowly reached for the door.

His heart seemed to be racing. If he didn’t say something now perhaps he’d never get the chance. But what if he did and her answer was still no? In a complete quandary, Walker fumbled the handle and lock, and finally having success getting the heavy wood door open, could barely look at her before taking his leave. Couldn’t she call him back? Give him one indication she still wanted him? His mind yelled at him to do something – anything but walk out!

But there he was outside her apartment, the door shut behind him. He could only take a few steps before stopping at the wall opposite to lean against it for support. He was a fool!

"Walker!"

Hardly recognizing his own name, the Ranger turned. He saw her in the doorframe - she was crying. "Walker." Her breathless voice impassioned again.

Walker almost ran to her. He kissed the soft lovely cheeks and the full lips as her arms wrapped tightly around his waist. He cuddled and supported her head and back. "Alex." He said, finally. "I love you. I can’t stop loving you."

His statement brought a fresh bout of crying.

"Sshh, it’s okay. It’s okay." He comforted.

"It’s too hard to …"she sought air, "to be apart from you. I love you too much." Her gaze searched through his eyes and into his soul. Not finding him wanting, Alex knew this crazy cowboy did indeed love her.

The tough leather hands were soft in their caress of the side of her face. "We’ll get married at Thanksgiving. That gives you about two weeks. Is that enough?"

The teary blond held up a hand and shook her head. "No. No." Her head kept shaking. Walker froze. Seeing his dumbfounded look she rushed to explain. "No. Listen. Walker, …let’s not go down this road just yet. Let’s…take it easy. Find our feet again."

When the Ranger didn’t answer and his look still registered alarm, Alex gripped both his hands to reassure. "We will be a couple. I’m just suggesting we let some time pass to get over this. Not make a decision based on emotion alone. It makes sense after what’s happened." She ended with her arms around his waist, hugging him tightly. Walker responded after a second to reciprocate the hug, savoring her body. Thinking through what she said.

"If that’s what you want," he said after a while. But Alex could tell he was disappointed.

"There’ll never be anyone but you, Walker. I don’t want you to worry. But, yeah, I think it would be best. We’ll BOTH know when the time is right after this, don’t you think?"

Still somber, he nodded. Looking as if he were plucking up courage to ask something, she kept silent and finally her Ranger asked, "Alex? Uerm, …would you at least wear my ring?" And the now grubby envelope appeared from his jacket pocket.

Alex’s eyebrows raised as she smiled. "Wear your ring? Of course. I’d be honored to wear your ring." And retrieved from the packet, Walker returned the diamond back to the third finger of her left hand. "You know," he warned, "if it looks like we’re talking too long over this, I’m going to have to take action." His voice was more assured - getting back to his confident manner. His gray blue eyes showed only sincerity.

"We’ll both know when the time is right. I’m sure of it. Let’s just enjoy being back together." And with that, Alex sought his lips again and both freely gave of each other.

After the long, gentle, intimate kiss, the two parted.

"I’ll come back later." Now on surer ground Walker issued it as a statement not a question. He watched as the loveliest woman in the world started to smile. She nodded her agreement.

Elated, Walker gave her a huge grin. And taking a few steps backwards turned and briskly descended the stairwell.

The clip of his cowboy boots suddenly stopped and a disembodied voice echoed up.

"I LOVE YOU, ALEX CAHILL!"

And the steps clipped again for a few seconds only to finally fade away.

The door closed and Alex rested against the wooden doorframe for support. Her emotions swirled throughout her body as if in a tumble-drier, and finally she smiled gratefully, her voice when she eventually found it, humble.

"God? …Thank you! … And, please, …take care of him out there."