BACK TO NORMAL
August 13, 2001
She was a nervous wreck and the others in the room were all well aware of it; this was the day her husband would find out how far he had come in his recovery; the test that would determine whether or not he was ready to pursue getting his job back.
Trent looked over at her and asked his friend, “Are you sure she should be here for this?”
Looking at his wife he answered, “Probably not but she insisted.”
The two men finished putting on their gear and met in the center of the ring. After a few minutes of sparring Walker backed off and said in frustration, “If you can’t get into this find me someone that can; there’s no way I’ll find out answers if you keep holding back.”
Jimmy said, “Hey if he won’t push you I will; I’m kind of looking forward to hearing you tap out for a change.”
With a gleam in his eye Trent said, “Come on in Jimmy; we’ll give him a test he won’t ever forget.”
Alex watched the next few minutes in amazement as the three men took turns ganging up on each other; every time Walker took a fall she held her breath until he got back up and finally she began to relax as she realized he was not only enjoying himself but able to hold his own with no problem.
When the three of them shed their shirts a little while later she looked from one to the other and was pleased to see that her husband looked better than the two younger men; all his therapy and hard work had definitely been worth the effort.
Erica was looking as well and she whispered, “Wow, I hope Jimmy still looks that good when he’s Walker’s age.”
With a laugh Alex replied, “I think he’s actually in better shape than he was before he was injured; he pushed himself really hard to get to this point.”
They both jumped when a voice behind them said, “He does look good.”
Turning around in surprise Alex said, “Hi Captain, I didn’t know you would be here.”
Nodding his head to the ring he replied, “Trivette gave me the heads up on today and suggested I stop by; I’m glad I did.”
“Does that mean you’re going to let him come back to work?”
“Well, his doctors all have to give their okay and he’ll need to pass the physical and all the other tests, but if what I’m seeing now is any indication…Walker is back!”
The next few days flew by and Walker not only passed the tests…he made them look easy; some of the younger recruits learned the hard way that the reputation the older man carried was well deserved. Various doctors watched from the sidelines and many of them were left scratching their heads at his recovery, all of their tests were passed as well and everyone celebrated when he was given the all clear to return to the job.
August 20, 2001
He woke up with a smile on his face and after carefully untangling his body from his wife’s he got up, dressed and went downstairs; he started the coffee and headed out to take care of his morning chores.
When he finished in the barn he went back inside, had a cup of coffee and headed back up to take a shower and get ready for work…today was officially his first day back on the job.
Leaning over he gently kissed his wife then made his way down the hall to the nursery where he peeked in on his daughter; she was still sleeping soundly and while he wanted to go say good morning he knew Alex could use the extra sleep.
Stopping on the way to work he got some breakfast and a large cup of coffee, a while later he made his way up the back stairs and walked quietly into the office; he was the first one there, just as he’d planned. He’d made it clear that there were to be no parties or get-togethers of any kind, but his friends didn’t always listen.
Hanging up his hat he sat down behind his desk and gave a deep sigh of satisfaction; he was back to the job that he loved.
When the door opened he didn’t bother looking up as he said, “Morning Trivette.”
An amused voice said, “Try again.”
Climbing to his feet Walker said, “Sorry Captain, he was the only one I could think of that would be here so early.”
“No harm done, I just wanted to stop by and say I’m glad to have you back; this place hasn’t been the same without you.”
“I’ll remind you of this conversation the next time you decide I need to be reprimanded.”
Both of them smiled because while Walker’s methods were not always conventional, he got results and the Captain knew it; he just shook his head and walked out of the office.
A few hours later Walker was sitting in the passenger seat of the Ram; he was still smiling at Trivette’s shock when he’d told him to drive. After being out of commission for so long he really needed the chance to observe and see what had changed, he couldn’t safely do that and drive at the same time. He was amazed at the changes in just a few months. “I’ve seen a new strip mall, two new fast food places, new nightclubs, old nightclubs shut down, new apartments going up…it’s only been five months!”
With a shake of his head the older man said, “Let’s ride through the warehouse district, no telling what I’ll see there.”
It actually ended up being a totally boring day and he wasn’t sure if he should be relieved or disappointed; he said good-bye to the others and headed for home.
Alex heard the Ram pull in and met him on the porch asking, “How was your first day back?”
“Boring!” He tugged her to him for a kiss before asking, “Feel like going for a ride?”
“Normally I would say yes, but Josie is coming by in a little while, she needs to talk to me about a couple of situations at HOPE.”
Sighing he said, “Looks like I’ll have to find a way to keep myself occupied.”
She laughed and gave him a backhanded swat, “Yeah I know, you are so neglected.”
He stole another kiss before he went inside and after he changed clothes he went after his daughter; he quickly got together what he needed and making his way downstairs he said, “While you gossip with Josie…I’m going to take this little Angel for a ride.”
“Take my cell phone with you.”
“Non-negotiable, you know what happened a few weeks ago.”
He remembered; he’d given her and Trivette quite a scare that day at the lake and still had no recollection of the ride home.
Going to her purse she grabbed the phone and handed it to him saying, “Okay I feel better now, go have some father/daughter bonding time.”
For the next couple of hours that’s exactly what they did; he told her stories while they rode and she never once interrupted; at the river he pulled off his boots and socks and waded into the water deep enough so he could let her play and splash; finally he regretfully said, “Okay Angel, we’d better get back before your mother starts worrying.” The cell phone rang at that exact moment and he was laughing as he answered it. “We’ll be on the way back in a minute, I just need to get her dried off and dressed.”
Smiling she replied, “Okay, Josie wants to see her so don’t take too long.”
About twenty minutes later Josie saw them cantering up and looking at Alex she said, “I swear that man gets sexier every time I see him.”
Looking at her husband in his faded jeans and muscle hugging t-shirt she replied, “You’ll get no arguments from me.” With a small frown she replied, “Good lord, he’s half soaked; Angela must have been extra energetic today.”
When he stopped in front of them he saw the laughter in his wife’s eyes and ruefully said, “She didn’t want to get out of the water.” He carefully swung down from the saddle and taking the cradleboard off his back he set it on the ground saying, “I’ll let you have the pleasure of taking her out; I’m going to go take care of Ranger and the others.”
As he walked away Alex couldn’t help noticing how well his worn jeans clung to his backside and it took a firm nudge from Josie to bring her out of it. “Sorry.”
“Honey if I had a man like that I wouldn’t be able to tear my eyes away either.”
It took both of them to get Angela out of her cradleboard and into the house, she was voicing her displeasure at the top of her lungs until Josie began singing to her.
As her daughter calmed down Alex asked, “Do you mind keeping an eye on her for a little while? I can go put this up and help Walker get the horses taken care of.”
“Go ahead, we’ll be fine.”
As Alex headed for the barn Josie looked down at the baby and said, “I have a feeling you and I won’t be seeing Mommy and Daddy for a while; let’s go inside and relax.”
It was much later when the married couple came inside and Josie just looked at them asking, “Did you leave any hay for the horses or are you two wearing it all?” She couldn’t contain her laughter as both of them started looking for the evidence.
Realizing the ruse Alex blushed beet red saying, “Josie!”
Handing the baby to Walker she kissed his cheek and ran her fingers through his hair saying, “It shows up even better in that red hair of yours.”
He looked down at the floor and blushed just as red as Alex at seeing the proof of their tryst in front of him.
Shaking her head Josie said, “You two are married, you don’t have to sneak around to make out anymore.” She started laughing again as she walked out the door and climbed into her car.
They watched her leave and Alex said, “I know we don’t have to sneak around, but it sure is fun.”
“I agree and I think after dinner we should put this angel to bed and sneak into our room for the night.”
“Sounds good to me.”
September 7, 2001
It was unbelievable how slow the days had been since his return to work; maybe the criminals had finally decided to take the holiday that he and Alex used to joke about all the time. This day started out just as slow…until they got the call of a bank robbery in progress; Syd and Gage were closest and they responded as Walker and Trivette sped in that direction; the report of shots fired and then officer down came over the radio as they approached and a red truck flew past them in the opposite direction with a man in the back firing shots in the direction it came from.
Walker hastily made a u-turn and took off after it while Jimmy called it in and arranged for an intercept; they cornered the truck a few minutes later and the bullets flew back and forth. He cursed when the driver’s side window took a hit and yelled, “Now you guys have really made me mad; nobody gets away with shooting my truck!”
Apparently it was the wrong thing to say as even more bullets thudded into his beloved vehicle and Trivette said, “You should have kept your mouth shut.”
Ominously his partner replied, “Sooner or later they’ll run out of bullets and when they do…”
Swallowing nervously Jimmy said, “You can’t kill them just because they shot your truck.”
“No, but I can make them wish they were dead.” He lifted his head for a second and seeing a foot he quickly got a shot off and was rewarded by a scream of pain. “Give it up while you still can; nobody has to die here.”
“People are already dead back there and if you want us…come and get us.”
With a sigh of frustration Walker said, “Have it your way; our sniper will be in position in a couple more minutes and he’ll pick you off one at a time.”
One of the guys apparently panicked at the idea and made a break for it; he was promptly cut down by Trivette and he yelled out, “Who’s next?”
Two guns came sailing out and two men stood up with their hands held high saying, “Don’t shoot, we’re done.”
“Walk this way, real slow.” They did as instructed and Walker asked, “Where’s the other one? The one I shot.”
From the vehicle a voice said, “I’m here but I can’t walk, you blew half my foot off.”
After the two that had given up were cuffed and had their rights read to them Walker said, “Okay I’m coming after you and if you try anything I’ll shoot your other foot off!”
As he went around to the back of the truck he found himself face to face with a guy holding a hand grenade. “I’ve already pulled the pin, you shoot me and you’re a dead man; so what’s it going to be Ranger? Do you let me go or do I blow us both to smithereens?”
“Go ahead and drop it, I’m not afraid to die.” For a second he thought he’d misjudged the man then the guy tossed it as far away as he could get it. Walker threw himself on top of the man as the grenade exploded and said, “Now you’re under arrest.”
A few minutes later the would be robbers had been removed from the area; two of them were on the way to the hospital and the other two on the way to jail.
Jimmy shook his head as he walked up to his partner and asked, “What sniper?”
“It worked didn’t it.” He paused and said, “Don’t you dare mention that hand grenade to Alex.” He began checking on the Ram and when he was done he said, “I let those boys off too easy.”
Sydney and Gage drove up and as they climbed out of his car they looked from the truck to Walker’s face and immediately said, “We better get started on paperwork, see you guys back at the office later.”
Trivette noticed the bandage on Sydney’s arm before she could escape and asked, “You okay?”
“Minor flesh wound, won’t even need stitches.”
Walker said, “Give Trivette a ride back; I’ll stay here and wait for them to come after the truck…call Alex and let her know I’m okay; the way messages get garbled sometimes she’ll think I’m the one full of holes.”
When he finally got back to the office he found her waiting for him and said, “I told them to tell you I was okay.”
“They told me, but you’re going to need a ride home when you’re finished later.”
“With Betty and Angus.” Realizing he was lost in thought she caught his hand and squeezed it, when he turned to her she said, “I’m going to go visit a few friends while you do your paperwork, call me when you’re finished.”
“Okay.” He gave her a quick kiss and waited until she was out the door before sinking down into his chair.
The three friends exchanged glances and it quickly became obvious who the speaker was going to be. Reluctantly he asked, “You okay partner?”
“Trivette, you make it sound like I lost my best friend, I’m fine.” He wasn’t and all his friends knew it, but he felt like he was putting on a decent enough act.
A couple of hours later his phone rang and after listening for a few minutes he calmly hung the phone up before slamming his fist down on top of his desk. Three pairs of eyes focused in on him and he sheepishly said, “They don’t have the parts they need in stock, I probably won’t get it back until the afternoon of the 10th.”
“Good thing it’s Friday; Alex is taking you home today and she can bring you back in Monday; you’ll just have to do patrol that day in Jimmy’s car.”
“Gage, quit while you’re ahead.”
They all got down to business, there were suspects to interrogate and paperwork to be done before any of them could leave for the night.
Alex came back in later and after being informed he wasn’t going to leave any time soon she said, “In that case I think I’ll go visit with Erica, I haven’t seen her much since the wedding.”
“That’s a good idea, I’ll catch a ride over with Trivette and we can go home from there.”
Later that night Alex looked at her watch again and said, “I’m going to call and find out what’s keeping those two, it’s almost 8:00.”
Erica laughed when her phone rang just as Alex was getting ready to dial and she answered, “Hello.”
“Hi Baby, we’re on the way.”
“It’s about time.”
When they arrived they had burgers, fries and shakes with them and Trivette said, “Normally I wouldn’t eat this, but we’re starved, hope you ladies are as well.”
Walker saw the look on his wife’s face and hastened to say, “I already called Betty, she’s going to put Angela to bed and stay at the house until we get home.” He grinned and added, “I had them make your shake just the way you like it.”
“Okay you win, let’s eat!”
After they ate they talked for a while until Erica began yawning and said, “I swear…I understand eating for three, but I think I’m sleeping for three as well.”
They all shared a laugh and Walker said, “Sounds like our cue to vamoose”, he gave Erica a hug and looked at Jimmy saying, “I’ll see you on Monday; we’ll see if I can survive without my truck for a day.”
Betty was waiting in the living room when they got home and after they thanked her for staying with Angela she replied, “I enjoyed it, call me any time; she really is a very good baby.”
Climbing the stairs they peeked in at their daughter then went to their room; they took a shower together and crawled into bed where they cuddled together as he asked, “Can I get a rain check until tomorrow?”
Alex laughed as she said, “You’ve got to stop reading my mind; I was fixing to ask you the same question.”
Smiling at each other they kissed good-night and hit the switch to plunge the room into darkness; sleep came quickly to them both.
September 8, 2001
Saturday morning was the time he used to make any repairs that were needed, give the barn a thorough cleaning and usually he’d wash his truck but since it wasn’t there he started washing Alex’s car instead.
She watched him for a couple of minutes then after checking to make sure their daughter was sleeping she went out the back door and carefully made her way to the outside faucet; with a sly smile she turned the switch that diverted the water to the other hose and grabbing the nozzle she went around the corner of the house and waited.
It wasn’t long before he came to investigate and even though he was pretty sure what had happened he wasn’t prepared when she shot the cold stream of water at him; he gave a little yelp and the chase was on.
Several minutes passed before they both gave in and as they looked at each other they both started to grin, then to laugh; they were both soaked from head to toe and covered in mud.
Wrapping his arms around his wife he said, “We should probably go take a shower.”
“I know; let’s go in the back door and we can leave our clothes in the laundry room instead of tracking this mess all through the house.”
Going inside they stripped off their shoes and clothes and walked hand in hand up the stairs; as they took turns washing each other she said, “I’m collecting that rain check you owe me.”
Finally they were driven out when the water got cold and after drying off he went to check on Angela and carried her with him back to the bedroom. “She wasn’t crying but she wasn’t asleep either.”
“Maybe she knew what her parents were doing.”
“You are so cute when you blush like that.”
What could he say to that? Absolutely nothing came to mind and with a long sigh he grabbed the clothes he needed and got dressed as he said, “I’m going to finish washing your car while you feed her.”
“Your choice.” He watched as Angela began to nurse and couldn’t resist kissing her as he said, “I love you Angel.” Pulling back just a hair he kissed Alex saying, “I love you Mrs. Walker.”
“I love you too.”
They spent the rest of the weekend just relaxing with their daughter inside as the thunderstorms in the area prevented them from riding to the river as they had hoped to do.
On Sunday night they had a late dinner and watched a movie before calling it a night; he put Angela to sleep then joined his wife in their bed as he said, “Tomorrow is going to be a great day.”
In exasperation she said, “Cordell Walker! I swear there are times I think you love that truck more than you love me; what if you had to choose between us?”
He pretended to be in deep thought about it and when she smacked him he laughed. “Honey, there is nothing more important to me than you are and that little one down the hallway comes in a close second; the two of you will always come first for me.”
Snuggling deeper into his protective embrace she replied, “Darling I know that; long before we became more than friends I knew you would always have my back; I love you.”
“I love you too.”
No more words would be spoken on this night as the two of them lost themselves once again in each other.
September 10, 2001
It was another uneventful day and after lunch he got the call he had been waiting for…his truck was fixed. Checking the time he said, “Trivette, I need a ride to the repair shop, then I think I’m going to head home; you can call if you need me.”
Shaking his head his partner responded, “You just want to make sure your “baby” is fixed to your liking; you can admit it you know, it’s not like we don’t know how much you love that thing.”
“My truck is NOT a thing.” He stood up saying, “Now let’s go.”
Jimmy dropped him off and said, “See you tomorrow; maybe we’ll have some excitement.”
“Maybe so; these last couple of weeks has been the slowest I can remember in years.”
After inspecting his truck he took the time to call home and told Alex he was getting off early and was going to stop at the store for a couple of things then head home; he wrote down what she asked him to pick up then headed out.
When he arrived home she helped him carry in the groceries before walking all around the Ram; she had to admit that the people in the repair shop knew their business; she couldn’t even tell it had been shot full of holes a few days ago.
Watching her open the door he laughed, “The inside hasn’t changed any other than they vacuumed it to get all the glass up.”
“Want to take it for a spin?”
“Actually I was thinking…since we were stuck inside most of the weekend…why don’t we go to the river this afternoon, there’s going to be a spectacular sunset tonight.”
She didn’t bother asking him how he knew that, just agreed with him and they went to get ready.
As he had told her the Texas sky was a kaleidoscope of colors as the sun slowly sank beneath the horizon and for the lovers watching it was truly a spectacular show.
With a deep sigh he said, “Honey, we need to head home before it gets too dark to see.”
She ran her hands over her husband’s nude body asking, “Right this minute Cowboy?”
Laughing softly he captured her hands as he responded, “You are insatiable,” he let his eyes roam over her and wondered if he would ever be able to look at his wife without wanting to make love to her. “We do have a perfectly good bed at home and after we get Angela to sleep tonight I’ll be more than happy to give you a repeat performance of what we did a few minutes ago.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
They stood up and pulled their clothes back on then he went to saddle Ranger and Angel while she carefully put their daughter in the cradle board that White Eagle had given them shortly after her birth. She smiled as she remembered how excited Angela became every time she saw it now, she seemed to understand that the sight of it meant a trip to their favorite spot on the river or even a simple horseback ride with her father; when they went to town it was always in her stroller.
Leading the horses over he handed her the reins and carefully eased the precious bundle onto his back before reclaiming his mount and swinging up into the saddle. They made the ride back in silence and once they were home she carried their daughter inside while he took care of getting everyone in the barn settled for the night. He paused to give Little Ranger some attention and said, “I know you miss Lucas, but it won’t be much longer until you have a new rider.”
Alex finished changing her daughter’s diaper and placed her in the crib while she went to take a shower, normally she waited for her husband but she knew Angela would be demanding her dinner any time now. Just as she finished dressing she heard the first cries and unbuttoning her shirt she hurried back into the nursery, picked up her daughter and sat down in the rocking chair.
Standing in the doorway he watched his wife feed their baby and wondered if he would ever get tired of the scene in front of him; his eyes met those of his wife and walking over he kissed her then their daughter as he said, “There are still times I’m afraid that I’ll wake up and find this is all a dream; I never thought I could be this happy.”
“That makes two of us; every morning I wake up in your arms I want to pinch myself to make sure it’s real,” she hesitated for a minute and her eyes were misty as she continued, “I just wish CD was here to see this.”
Sinking down onto his haunches he carefully drew his wife and daughter into his embrace as he said, “So do I, but I’m sure that right at this very moment he’s up there in Heaven boasting to anybody that will listen that he’s the one responsible for getting us together.”
Turning her head she found his lips with hers then said, “He never gave up on us.”
“No he didn’t.”
They were both lost in thought for a few minutes until she realized their daughter was almost asleep. “Honey, why don’t you put her to bed and take a shower? I’ll go get dinner ready.”
A few minutes later he made his way down to the kitchen, walked up behind her and pushed her hair to the side as he kissed her neck. “What can I do to help?”
With a laugh she said, “You can stop doing that for starters.” Using her most seductive voice she said, “Unless you want to skip dinner.” He immediately backed off and she was disappointed until he turned the stove off and started putting things back into the refrigerator; with a huge smile she helped him clean up.
A couple of minutes later they were both laughing as they ran up the stairs shedding clothes as they went; they collapsed together onto the bed and reaffirmed their love for each other. Spent and exhausted a while later she gave him a gentle kiss saying, “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“It doesn’t get any better than this.”
They drifted off to sleep unaware that in less than 12 hours their world would change forever.
For Phil…who insisted I needed a “Walker loves his truck” scene.