This story came to me after I recently lost my dog Magnum. He was with me for 13 years and was my best friend. I'll miss him dearly.

BEST FRIENDS

By LISA

Walker sat silently on his front steps. At some point during the night it had rained but he hadn't noticed. Now the sun was just peeking over the horizon and he was gazing across the yard. His thoughts were far away. He'd lost his partner and best friend last night. They'd grown closer then he'd liked to admit over the years and now he felt lost. Rising slowly he heads down the steps and across the yard, unsure of exactly where he was headed.

Alex had tried calling Walker before work but had gotten his machine. She tried his cell phone but didn't get an answer there either. When she reached C.D.'s she tried to reach him again with out any results.

"Where could he be C.D.?"

"I'm sure he's ok Alex. Probably just away from his phone."

"Well I need to run some errands, if he calls will you tell him I'm trying to reach him?"

"Sure darlin'. You go on and I'm sure he'll be callin' ya."

"Thanks C.D. See you tonight."

He'd been walking for several hours when he found himself at the water's edge. Kneeling he took a long drink and splashed some over his face. Sitting under a tree he thought back to their first meeting and how stubborn they'd both been. Now after so many years together they each knew what to expect from the other. The perfect team.

It was after 5pm and still no word from Walker. They were supposed to meet at C.D.'S at 6 and Alex was beginning to wonder if he would show up. Changing clothes she left hoping he was ok.

It was late afternoon when Walker started back to his house. He'd promised to meet Alex later and needed to get back. As he went in his front door his answering machine beeped. Looking he was that there were several messages. He played through them as he took off his shirt and shoes. All but 3 were from Alex. The last one was just 15 minutes ago. "Walker? Are you home? Are you ok? I'll be at C.D.'S at 6 like we planned." He noticed it was just after 5 and he'd better get going.

It was 6:15 when he pulled around into the back parking lot of C.D.'S. He knew Alex would be full of questions but he wasn't sure if he'd be ready to answer them. He was exhausted and knew he looked like he'd been through the ringer. She'd ask about that too. As he got out of his truck he thought of what to say.

"C.D. I'm really getting worried. He hasn't returned my calls and I still can't get him on his cell phone. He said he'd be home all weekend. Do you think something's happened?" Just then Walker comes through the door. "WALKER! Where have you been?" Noticing how listless and tired he looks Alex lowers her voice and helps him to sit at the bar. "Are you alright?"

Before he can answer Trivette comes in and seeing Walker, heads straight over. "Man. Do you know we've been looking all over for you? I was just about to put out an APB on you."

C.D. brings coffee over for the 3 and as he sets a cup in front of Walker he too notices something unusual in his expression. "Cordell, are ya alright son?"

Taking a sip of his coffee Walker nods his head. "Yeah I'm ok. I'm sorry I had you worried Alex."

"It's alright but where were you?"

Walker's eyes clouded over as he realized he'd have to finally say the words that had haunted him all day. "Amigo died last night."

"Oh Walker, I'm sorry."

"Hey man that's too bad. He was a good horse."

Reaching across the bar C.D. put a caring hand on Walker's shoulder. "Sorry to hear that Cordell. He was one of a kind."

"Alex, would you mind if I took a rain check on dinner. I don't think I'd make very good company tonight."

"Of course. I understand. We'll do it another time." They watched as he silently walked out. "I don't think I've ever seen him like that before," commented Jimmy.

"Me either. He seems to be taking it pretty hard." "Well his uncle Ray gave him Amigo for his birthday about 15 years ago. Once they learned to trust each other they were inseparable", C.D. informed them.

"Trust each other? Trivette asked. "Amigo was as wild as they get when Ray caught him on the reservation. He didn't take to well to people at first. Cordell was the only one he ever let ride him and that didn't come easy. He was thrown off more times then he'd ever admit. When Amigo saved Cordell's life a bond was formed between them."

"How did he save his life?" asked Alex.

"Well he'd had Amigo for a week when he took him out to a place near the river. Walker hadn't been there in a long time and wanted to get away from everyone for awhile. Amigo still wasn't letting anyone ride him so Walker led him out on foot. They got to the river and both had a long drink and a rest before Walker again tried to get on Amigo. After being thrown 3 times he took a break. Sitting near the waters edge he watched as Amigo drank from the river. He didn't notice the rattle snake near his left leg. When Amigo started acting crazy Walker moved suddenly to grab the reins. The snake lashed out and bit him on the leg. Amigo moved around and stepped on the snake as Walker grabbed his ankle. Walker knew he needed to get back to the reservation quick but couldn't walk and with Amigo being stubborn didn't know how he'd get back. That's when Amigo nuzzled Walker and stood close to him. Taking a chance, Walker pulled himself up and onto Amigo's back. The next thing he knew he was waking up in the clinic on the reservation."

"That's quite a story C.D. I can see why Walker would be so attached to Amigo." Alex whispered.

"Yeah no wonder he took it so hard."

"Cordell wouldn't say it but he really loved that horse. It was the only pet he ever had."

It was early the next morning and Alex decided to drive out and see how Walker was doing. He'd looked so defeated last night. Pulling into his long driveway she saw him standing at the coral fence. He doesn't seem to notice as she gets out and walks over to stand next to him.

"Alex. What are you doing here?"

"I was worried about you. I thought maybe you'd want to talk about how your feeling."

"Alex…."

"I know I know. Your fine. Walker you look like you'll collapse at any time. I know you haven't slept. Have you even eaten?"

He avoids eye contact and starts to turn away. Taking his hand in hers she turns him back to her. He looks at her and she knows she's right. "Come on Cowboy. I'll make you breakfast." Realizing she's right he goes along willingly. He slumps into a chair at the table while Alex goes into the kitchen and starts the coffee. Checking the fridge she grabs a couple of eggs and some bacon. As she begins cooking she glances over to see Walker sitting with his head resting on folded arms. Bringing over 2 cups of coffee she touches his shoulder softly. He lifts his head and seeing the cup he smiles slightly. "Thanks Alex." She returns to the kitchen and fixes them each a plate. Setting them on the table she sits across from him. Taking a bite she watches as he sips his coffee and tastes his eggs.

Realizing they taste good he devours his breakfast. Finishing hers Alex takes the plates into the kitchen. He gets up for more coffee nearly collides with her as she turns from the sink. "Sorry Alex."

"That's ok I just didn't realize you were right behind me." Holding up his cup he indicated he was getting a refill. "Want another cup?"

"Yes thanks."

As he pours he looks over to her. "Thanks for breakfast. You make a mean egg." Smiling at her he hands her the coffee cup.

"It's all in the wrist" she says taking her cup. He turns from her and walks into the living room and out onto the porch. She watches for a moment then follows. When she comes out the front door she sees him standing at the railing. Moving to stand close to him. He looks over at her and she puts her arms around him pulling him into a caring embrace. Pulling away he moves to the end of the porch. Alex follows and taking his hand she asks "What is it Walker?"

He starts to look away but she takes his chin in her hands and turns him back to her. Seeing a tear in his eye she pleads with him. "Please tell me what's wrong. I know you were close to Amigo. Is there more than his death that's bothering you?"

"You know how hard it is for me to talk about things, Alex. Well Amigo was the one I could talk to about anything. He never analyzed what I was saying and was there anytime I needed to vent. Remember when I went after the man who killed my parents? Murdock. That was a hard time for me Alex. I started having nightmares and talking to Amigo helped a lot."

"Oh Walker I never knew. Why didn't you tell me?"

"Alex, I couldn't. I wouldn't have known how. With Amigo it was different. Now he's gone and I wasn't even here for him. He died alone."

"Is that what's gotten you so upset? Walker, you couldn't have known."

"I know but I can't help thinking he was looking for me to be there for him."

"Maybe you should try thinking only of the good times you spent with him."

"You know when Uncle Ray gave him to me I had no interest in having a horse. I was still with DPS and trying hard to get into the Rangers. I thought a horse would demand too much of my time. Amigo wasn't to thrilled with me either. Every time I'd get near him he'd go crazy. Uncle Ray insisted I keep trying. After he helped me he seemed to change. I did too. I realized he wasn't just a dumb animal. We've been together ever since."

Alex hadn't ever heard Walker reveal so much of himself before. As she listened to him she noticed he seemed to be a million years away. Reliving the past. "Are you going to be ok?" Taking a deep breath, he looked at her. He saw genuine concern in her eyes. "Yeah, Alex. I'll be fine. Thanks for coming out."

SIX WEEKS LATER

Jimmy and Alex were sitting at the bar talking with C.D. "What are you going to get him Alex?"

"Oh it's a surprise Jimmy."

"You can tell me."

"Not on your life. You couldn't keep a secret from him."

"That's right Jimmy. Remember last year?"

"Ok ok. Geez."

Walker came into the bar and sat beside Alex. "What did you do now Trivette?"

Looking as innocent as possible Trivette threw up his hands. "Me? I didn't do anything. What makes you think I did anything?"

Laughing Walker winked at Alex. "What did he do?"

"Well…."

"Hey! Alex, you know I didn't do anything."

Walker and Alex laughed. "GOTCHA!" They chimed together. Trivette sighed and shook his head.

"Hey Cordell, are we still on for Saturday?"

"Yea C.D. I'll have the grill ready for those steaks of yours."

"I'm making my famous chocolate cake Walker."

"Oh great Alex." Walker said licking his lips. "I can taste it already."

SATURDAY

Walker stood at the grill. He'd just gotten it started when C.D. pulled up. "Come help me with these steaks Cordell."

"Sure thing C.D. Wow these look great."

"Well Jimmy's bringing the corn and biscuits. That ought to give us a fine meal."

"Sounds great."

Trivette arrived while they were unloading C.D.'s truck. "'Bout time you showed up." ribbed C.D.

"I had to make a stop on the way. Hey those look terrific." He'd seen the steaks. "Where do you want these?" He held a bag of groceries.

"Set them in the kitchen will ya."

As they set about preparing lunch Alex pulled up. "Sorry I'm late. Didn't want to take any chances with the cake."

"Hi Alex. Why don't we take that to the kitchen." Walker suggested. He tried to sneak a taste of the frosting but Alex turned it away. "Oh no you don't."

C.D. and Jimmy meet them in the kitchen. "I think we're ready to start cooking Cordell." He goes out with C.D.

"Hey Alex now will you tell me what you got him for his birthday?"

"Nope. You'll have to wait until he gets it."

"Boy your tough. Ok I'll wait."

"Good now let's go help them."

They'd cleaned they're plates and decided to wait a bit for the cake. "Thanks guys. This was great. I couldn't ask for a better day."

"Well it ain't over yet Cordell. We still got presents for ya."

"You didn't have to do that. I don't really need any."

"Hey man, you gotta have presents on your birthday."

C.D. had gone to his truck and took out a neatly wrapped package. "Here Cordell. Go ahead and open it."

Walker takes the flat package and glancing at C.D. begins to unwrap it. It was a leather bound scrapbook with his name on the outside. He opened it up and found it full of articles and pictures from his past. From his first picture as a baby all the way up to a newspaper article from a bust he made a couple weeks ago. "Oh C.D. This is unbelievable. Thank you." As he flipped though it Trivette went to his car and took out a wrapped box. "My turn" he says handing it to Walker.

Walker takes the box and is surprised at how heavy it is. "What did you do wrap a brick?" he jokes as he begins to unwrap it. Opening the box to find a small bronze statue of an Indian kneeling next to a wolf.

Looking to Trivette he started to speak but Jimmy spoke first. "It was the weirdest thing. I was walking down the street when I had this feeling come over me. I looked into a shop window and there it was."

"Really Trivette?" Walker seemed fascinated by his story.

"No. GOTCHA!"

As they laughed A truck pulled up the drive with a trailer attached. "I wonder who that could be." Walker got up to see what the stranger wanted.

"I have a delivery for a Cordell Walker."

"That's me" Walker answered unsure of what was going on.” What kind of delivery?"

The man went around to the trailer and opened the back. He took the reins and led out a jet black horse. Holding them out to Walker he said "He's all yours sir."

"What's up Walker?" Trivette asked as they all came to see the horse.

"I don't know." Turning back to the driver he tried to hand the reins back over. "There must be some mistake."

"No mistake Mr. Walker." "Where did he come from?" Walker was now totally confused.

"Says here he's from a Miss Alex Cahill."

"Alex?"

"Surprise Cowboy." Walker looked at her with uncertainty. C.D. took this opportunity to tip the driver and send him on his way.

"I don't know about this Alex."

"He's not here to replace Amigo, Walker. I just thought you might like him too. He's got a stubborn streak in him that reminded me of you. He'll take some breaking in but look he's taken to you already." The horse had nuzzled Walker and moved his head in to be petted. Walker unconsciously began rubbing his nose. Smiling, Walker shook his head. "Thanks Alex. Maybe it'll work out after all."

"Hey Counselor, nice work. I think you got to him." Walker took the horse over to the corral and let him go. He watched as it wandered around and familiarized himself with his surroundings.

"Yeah honey I think Walker's taking to him just fine."

They move over to join Walker at the fence. "Thanks Alex. He's a beauty."

"I thought you'd come around."

"What's his name Alex?" inquired Trivette.

"Thunder."

"Seems right." Says Walker.

"Hey where's that cake?" C.D. asks.

"In the kitchen guys. You ready Walker?

"I've been ready. Let's go."

C.D. and Trivette head off but Walker takes Alex's hand and she turns to see what he wants. "Alex, thank you." Smiling she squeezes his hand. "Glad you like him."

"You know I still owe you a dinner. Next week?"

"That'd be nice. Right now I think we'd better get to your cake before C.D. and Trivette eat it all." Laughing they start for the house

THE END