Disclaimer: I don't own Walker, Texas Ranger or it's characters
especially Walker and Alex.
A/N: This is a story I put together before Cordell and Alexandra got together and when Sydney and Gage worked for Walker. Bring out the tissues. (NOT)
"Dammit, Alex, stay awake!" Walker
"C-cold!" Alex gasped out with a shiver.
Walker swore under his breath as he felt Alex shudder. He pulled her closer into his grasp, her eyes slipping closed again. "NO!" he shouted.
"Alex, you've got to stay with me here. You can't sleep." Alex managed to open her eyes. "Sh-shock," she whispered.
"I know." He swore again. A glance at his watch told him that it had now been more than four hours since this nightmare began. Surely someone had noticed that they were missing by now.
The shift had started like any of a hundred other shifts … with pure boredom. It seemed that the Alaskan cold front that had swept over Texas, burying it in a rare 3-and-a-half feet of snow, had also driven the more criminal elements in society into hibernation.
The evidence had led them here-to an abandoned building that should have been condemned by the city years ago and torn down. Instead, it waited for the two unsuspecting Texas Rangers to arrive and begin looking around before it finally collapsed under the weight of its age and the accumulated snow.
Alex had been pinned under the debris since the collapse. She'd managed to push Walker out of the way, but wasn't fast enough to avoid it herself. Her right leg was broken in at least two places, and Walker was worried about internal injuries. At least her breathing seemed normal-now if he could just get her to stay awake.
"Alex, talk to me. I don't care about what-just talk to me."
"D-don't know." Alex protested as her voice trailed off again.
Walker was worried. The treatment for shock was to keep the patient's legs elevated if possible, and it wasn't; he also needed to keep her warm-that, too, was impossible. There was a gaping hole where the roof used to be-it was getting dark and it was starting to snow again. Thinking quickly, he carefully maneuvered out of his own coat, thanking whatever had made him decide to wear that heavy sweater today. He laid it over Alex gently.
"N-no, Walker." she protested.
"Shh, Alex, I've still got my gloves and this heavy sweater, I'll be all right." That seemed to calm her down. "Now, tell me about when Nicole was born," he ordered, knowing that she loved to talk about her daughter. A slight smile crossed Alex's face when Walker
mentioned her little girl. "All-all right." She paused and coughed. "I-I was…"
8 Years Earlier
Alex was bored. She was alone at home. The television was on the fritz again, god forbid Timothy spend the money for a repairman to look at it. He'd tried to fix it himself, but that only made it worse. She felt like a beached whale, and Timothy didn't help with that, he loved to tease her about her appearance. In fact, lately it seemed that Timothy's favorite sport was seeing how many times he could make his wife cry in an hour. His wife-she wanted to laugh hysterically. They'd only gotten married because they'd gotten high one night and she'd ended up pregnant. Timothy decided to do the noble thing and marry the woman that he'd "knocked up." Lying on the sofa, staring at the blank television screen, Alex was startled by a sharp pain in her abdomen.
"No, not now," she muttered as the pain subsided. Maybe it was just one more of the Braxton-Hicks that she'd been having for two months now. It didn't have to be labor. She glanced at the clock on the table next to her, so that she could mark time if necessary. Ten minutes later, her body was wracked by another spasm. After an hour of pains every ten minutes, Alex knew she was in labor. "Baby, couldn't you have waited?" she asked as she dialed the phone.
Her doctor told her to come to the hospital when they were closer to five minutes apart. She dialed another number. "Is Tim available?" she asked and paused for the answer. "This is his wife, could you tell him I'm in labor if he shows up." She paused again. "Thank you." She hung up the phone and cursed her husband under her breath. He never showed up at work that morning. He had told her he was going, but obviously, he didn't. Soon her contractions were six minutes apart. Tim still hadn't called; she pushed herself off of the sofa, headed for the bedroom and grabbed her bag and car keys.
Walking out of the apartment, she knocked on the next-door neighbor's door. "Mrs. Rodenski?" she called out when there was no answer.
A few moments later, an elderly woman answered the door. " Alex, dear, are you all right? You look pale."
Alex smiled with effort because a contraction decided to hit at that moment. "I'm fine, Mrs. Rodenski. I'm just in labor. I'm going to the hospital now, but I can't find Tim. Can you tell him where I'm at if he shows up?"
"Of course, dear. I wish I could drive you, but my eyes just don't work for driving any more."
"It's okay, Mrs. Rodenski. I'll be fine. The hospital's only a five minute drive."
"I'll be praying for you. Now go!" Alex smiled and turned to leave.
With the contractions getting closer, the drive was a little longer than five minutes. Alex parked as close to the front door as possible and was lucky to run into an orderly who was just finishing up with taking another patient to his car. He was happy to use his now empty wheelchair to take her up to maternity. After filling out the basic paperwork, she was settled into a room. The nurse promised to try their phone again to see if Timothy had made it home. No luck. A few hours later, it was time to push, and still no Tim. "Okay, Baby, I guess it's just you and me." Alex whispered to her unborn child.
"Okay, Alex, on the next contraction, I want you to bear down." Dr. Marx ordered. "I think this little one's in a hurry, it shouldn't take too long."
"Yeah, right," she muttered as a contraction hit.
"Okay, push!" the doctor ordered.
Alex did. Again and again, for another half-hour. Finally, she was rewarded with a hearty cry echoing through the delivery room. "It's a girl, Alex." Tears began running down her face. A daughter. Tim had wanted a boy, but Alex had known she was having a girl. The nurse handed her baby to her. "Hello, Nicole," she whispered as she pressed a kiss to the tiny girl's red face.
"So when did Tim finally show up?" Walker asked, barely hiding his disgust for Alex's ex. If his wife were in labor, he'd do everything in his power to be there.
"N-not for another f-few hours." Alex stammered. "W-Walker, I'm so cold. I-I c-can't feel m-my legs."
"Damn," he muttered. He knew the feeling, but his legs were numb because of Alex's weight resting on them. He wasn't going to complain, though. "I'm sorry, Sweetheart," he whispered, pulling her upper body as close to him as he could.
"Ow!" she hissed.
"Sorry," Walker said with a slight smile. At least she was registering some sensation.
They sat in silence for a while. "Walker, I'm so tired." Alex broke the silence, her speech suddenly totally clear. That scared Walker because the end of her shivering accompanied it as well.
"No, Alex," he said, "You can't give up." He knew that her body was shutting down, trying to protect her vital organs. She looked up at him, tears forming in her eyes. "I'm sorry, Walker." She shut her eyes slowly.
"Oh, no, you don't!" Walker yelled. " Alex, even if I have to drag you out of here myself, you are not giving up on me." He shook her slightly. Her eyes snapped open. He sighed in relief. "Walker, there's something I have to say." Alex began, her voice nothing more than a whisper. "Y-you've been my best friend for as long as I've worked with you. I-I don't think I would've survived in this business if you hadn't been there for me."
"Alex?" Walker asked quietly, not liking where this conversation was headed. It sounded too much like a goodbye. She smiled, "I've got to say this." She paused to cough. "You've been my best friend, but somewhere along the way, things began to change. At least on my end." She stopped and looked at him. She could see the question in his eyes.
"S-somewhere along the way, I-think-I fell in love with you, Walker." Alex smiled at him. "I needed to tell you once before… before…" Her voice trailed off, she couldn't finish that thought. She knew that she was going to die in this place unless help showed up right away.
Glancing at the "roof," she knew that was a remote possibility. The snow was coming down faster now. It was totally dark outside; the only light was from the feeble beam of their one remaining flashlight. She knew that it, too, would be dieing soon. Walker blinked back some tears. "Shh, Alex, don't talk like that."
"It's okay." Alex's voice trailed off and her eyes slid shut again.
"Alex!" He shook her lightly. Nothing happened. She had finally slipped into the unconsciousness that she had been fighting all day. "C'mon, Alex. Wake up." Walker tightened his grip on Alex's unconscious form. He almost wished he were a praying man so that he could offer a plea for a miracle. "Alex, you can't give up. Lindsey needs you." He leaned closer to her ear, "I need you, Alexandra."
Walker had completely lost track of time. The flashlight had died some time earlier. He wished that they hadn't left their cell phones in the SUV. He was fighting to stay awake. He was somewhat heartened by the steady, if somewhat shallow, breathing of the woman in his arms. He was so cold that every urge was to leave and find some place warm, but he couldn't do that. Suddenly, he heard something. It sounded like a voice.
" Alex! Walker!" That was Sydney's voice.
"Sydney! In here!" Walker yelled, hoping that the younger Texas Ranger could hear him.
"Walker, is that you?" Sydney yelled again.
"Yeah, we're in here. Hurry!" he yelled back. "Alex's hurt." A few minutes later, a harsh light assailed Walker's eyes. He blinked and then the light revealed the worried face of Sydney Cooke. "Over here, guys," she called behind her. In a matter of moments, there were paramedics and firemen working to free Alex from the debris. Then she was being pulled from his arms. Walker tried to tighten his grip on her.
"Walker - let them help her." Sydney's gentle voice broke through. "She needs them right now." Walker nodded and Sydney helped him stand up. He stumbled due to the lack of feeling in his legs. One of the paramedics rushed to check him out, but he waved him away. "I'm fine. Alex needs you." The man nodded and went back to where the others were trying to stabilize her enough for transport.
"Cordell," Sydney began quietly, startling him with the use of his first name. "You should let someone take a look at you. You've been in here exposed to the cold for almost 7 hours."
"I'm fine, Sydney," he protested. "I'll let someone check me out at the hospital. Okay?" Sydney had no choice but to agree. "C'mon, I'll give you a lift. Trivette can follow in your Ram."
Walker nodded, Sydney asked the paramedics which hospital they were headed for, then gently led Walker to her Honda for the trip. On the drive to the hospital, Walker was silent. The paramedics had returned his coat to him when they loaded Alex into the ambulance. Now, he
pulled it tighter around him. He couldn't seem to get warm enough, even with the heat turned up as high as it would go. Sydney glanced over at him as often as she could while still remaining on the road. He looked like he was lost inside himself. She wondered what happened in that building for the last seven hours. She could clearly see the worry etched on his face. When she'd found them, Alex was unconscious, and when the debris had been pulled off of her legs, Sydney could see bone protruding and the bleeding. It looked like the pressure of the debris had stemmed the bleeding until its removal, after that… Sydney blanched at the memory. She couldn't remember ever seeing that much blood loss in a still living person. Maybe if they'd worked faster, maybe if they'd figured out what had happened earlier…? Arriving at the hospital, Walker didn't even wait for the car to stop rolling. As Sydney pulled up at the front, he just jumped
out. "I'll park then meet you inside," Sydney called after him.
Walker sprinted into the ER. "Alexandra Cahill?" he gasped out. "She
was just brought in."
The receptionist looked up at him, snapping
her gum in thought. "Are you family?"
"No, I'm her co-worker, her best friend." Walker answered impatiently.
"I can't." the receptionist began, but the look on his face changed her mind. "I'll check."
"Thank you." The receptionist looked through a stack of papers. "She's in trauma 4. Dr. Alexander."
"Thanks," Walker said as he began to head towards the trauma rooms. He was stopped by Sydney's voice.
"Walker, have you heard anything?" He turned to look at the younger Texas Ranger, "I was just heading that way. You want to join me?" Sydney almost jumped at the chance; after all, Alex was her friend, too. However, something held her back. "In a minute, I'll wait here for Trivette." Walker nodded and finished making his way to trauma room 4. Peering through the door, he could see the doctors and nurses hovering around Alex 's still unconscious form. She looked so still; so fragile lying there hooked up to machines that monitored her heart rate, her breathing, and other vitals, at least she wasn't on a ventilator. He felt so helpless; if he could he would rush into that room and give her his strength.
"Excuse me," a voice said as its owner pushed past Walker into the room. "Someone call for a surgical consult?"
Surgical consult! "Hang on, Alex," Walker whispered.
A hand on his arm startled him. He turned to see the concern in Sydney and Trivette's eyes. He shook his head in response to their unasked question. Finally, Trivette broke the silence. "Did anyone call her sister?" Walker's eyes slammed shut in pain. Her sister. Nicole. He had to tell them. Opening his eyes again, he shook his head 'no.'
"Do you want me…?" Sydney began, but Walker interrupted her.
"No, I have to," he answered; Sydney smiled and handed him her cell phone.
"Thanks," he said before walking away from them for some privacy. Sydney sighed.
"What?" Trivette asked.
"Don't you see it?"
"What?" he asked again. Sydney smiled enigmatically before turning away from him to watch through the trauma room door. Trivette was confused but didn't have time to press the issue because Walker rejoined the pair. "Her sister's on the way."
A tall African-American man came out of the trauma room. Instantly, the trio was alert. "Are you family?" the man asked.
Walker started to shake his head 'no,' but Sydney jumped in, "Yes." The doctor looked dubious, but didn't call her on it. He could see how concerned they were for his patient. "I'm Dr. Alexander," he paused as another woman joined them.
"This is Alex's sister," Walker introduced. The doctor shook her hand before continuing. "As you know, Alex broke her leg in two places, exposing the bone. There was a lot of blood loss; but, thankfully, no arteries were compromised. It appears that the debris that was
pinning her down also acted as pressure to stem the bleeding. She's being transfused right now, and she's going to need surgery to repair her leg." He paused again. "She is still hypothermic from her experience. She's being given warm oxygen through the mask on her face, and the warm blood transfusion is also helping with re-warming. I'm concerned by the fact that she hasn't regained consciousness yet, but she may not until after surgery. Her body needs to conserve its
energy to heal." Jessica gasped. She hadn't known how badly her sister had been hurt. Walker glanced over at her, while Sydney placed a comforting hand on her arm. "How-how long will she have to stay here?" Jessica asked.
Dr. Alexander shook his head. "I'm not sure. It's different for each patient. Our first concern is the shock and blood loss, and getting Alex to regain consciousness." He paused. "There are no guarantees here. Some of this is up to her. She's got the…" Walker looked past
the doctor to where the nurses and transport were getting ready to take Alex up to surgery. He felt like there was a vice around his heart. He blamed himself for her situation. After all, it should have been him. She’d pushed him out of the way. He should be the one hooked up to all of those machines, face pale as the sheet under him, fighting for his life. "Walker. Walker!"
Walker started as Sydney finally got his attention. "Huh?"
"They're taking Alex up now." She paused. "You promised you'd let someone check you out." Walker closed his eyes briefly and sighed. He was seriously considering ignoring her, but he knew how persistent she was and that she wouldn't give up the idea of him getting checked. He opened his eyes and nodded.
Sydney smiled. "Dr. Alexander..." Dr. Alexander led Walker into another room to check him out. They came out a few minutes later after Walker had been proclaimed fit and had been told to get some warm fluids into him. "Surgery is on the fourth floor," the doctor said, indicating the bank of elevators across the room. "Thank you." Walker said before making his way towards the elevators. Upon arrival at the fourth floor, he followed the arrows to the surgical waiting room. Jessica was standing alone, staring out the window at the lights of Dallas. Sydney and Trivette were sitting in two of the orange vinyl chairs that seemed to be standard equipment in every hospital. Walker took a seat away from the others. He didn't feel like talking to anyone at the moment. Sydney looked over at him and briefly met his eyes. He nodded his head to indicate that he was fine. Sydney smiled then went back to her ancient magazine.
Time passed, but Walker wasn't sure how much time had gone by. Jessica had found herself a seat and was dozing. Gage and C.D. had joined the group; they were having a conversation about sports with Trivette. Sydney was pacing the floor listlessly; it was starting to make him seasick.
"Sydney!" Walker finally snapped, more sharply than he intended. Everyone's heads turned to look at him. "Sorry," he mumbled, and everyone else turned back to what they were doing. Sydney hadn't moved since his outburst, she took a deep breath and headed towards him. Without asking for permission, she dropped into the seat next to him. Not saying a word, she put a hand on his arm, just letting him know that she was there to listen if he wanted to talk. Walker put his own hand over hers and squeezed gently. Sydney smiled slightly, but she was worried. His hand was still very cold, and his arm was trembling. She knew that he was worried about Alex, they all were. She also suspected that he blamed himself. After sitting that way for
a while, Sydney finally broke the silence between them. Thankfully, no one else in the room was really paying any attention to them. "Walker, it's not your fault, you know?" she began. Walker
didn't answer; he just looked at her, the pain still evident on his face.
"I mean it, Walker. You didn't force Alex to go with you, even if you did assign her. She wanted to." Sydney paused to gather her thoughts. "She loves her job…" Her voice trailed off as she realized that Walker wasn't really listening to her. She shook her head and started to get up, but thought better of it. "I don't know what happened back there in that warehouse, Walker, but it's really got you shaken up." She looked over at where the rest of the team was still talking, then back at him. "But I do know that it doesn't all have to do with the fact that Alex got hurt and is now in that surgical suite." She paused to gauge his reaction. "Then again maybe it does…" Walker stood up and walked over to the window, Sydney followed him. She noticed a lone tear tracing its way down his cheek. She smiled. "I think I understand," she said gently. "You'll get to tell her."
Walker turned to look at his fellow Texas Ranger with a question in his eyes. "That you love her. You'll get to tell her." Sydney clarified.
Walker was dumbstruck. Was it that obvious? "What makes you…?" His voice trailed off and he glanced over at the male members of his team.
She laughed. "Don't worry. They may be brilliant Texas Rangers but they're still men. It's only obvious to me." Walker looked at her for a moment then turned and walked away. He needed to be alone. He wandered aimlessly, taking the elevator down to the first floor, thinking maybe he'd wind up in the cafeteria for a cup of coffee. However, he found himself standing outside a set of double doors with an unobtrusive black sign with white lettering that read, "Chapel." Walker stared at the door for a moment as if he didn't know what to do with it. He grew up as a good Methodist boy but the last time he'd practiced it was at his mother and father's funeral. In fact, the only times in the last ten years that he'd been inside a church was
when he was investigating a crime or at a friend's wedding. Something pushed him to open the door. Walking slowly up the aisle, grateful that the large room was empty, he knelt and crossed himself at the altar. Seeing the table with lit candles, he turned and lit a new one.
"God," he began haltingly. "It's been a long time. I don't know if You're listening or even if You really exist." He paused to stare at the flickering flame. "If You do, You know I'm not one to ask others for help very often, so You're in a unique position." He paused again to gather his thoughts. "God, I'm not asking anything for myself; that would be hypocritical. I'm asking for Alex. She's got a daughter who needs her." He savagely wiped away the tears that were now freely flowing down his cheeks. "Please, God, help her! She can't die. I can't lose her..." Walker dropped into the nearest pew and lowered his head into his hands.
He was still in the same position, his shoulders heaving with the silent sobs when Sydney came looking for him an hour later. He jumped when she dropped a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Walker, she's out of surgery." She paused as he looked up at her. "They've taken her to
recovery, she made it through…" Walker heaved a sigh of relief, but didn't get up immediately. He just nodded and watched Sydney leave the room. He wiped his face on his sleeve then stood up. Walking back up to the altar, he stared up at the crucifix over it. "I don't know if You had anything to do with this, but thank You…" He then turned and left the chapel.
Walker walked into the surgical waiting room. Jessica and Sydney were talking quietly in the corner, and the three men were watching the news on the television. Sydney looked up and smiled as Walker walked in. He moved to join her. "The nurse promised to come tell us when
Alex was being moved to a room on the surgical ward. Until then, we have to wait." Walker nodded, he knew how it worked. He just wished that he could hurry the process up a bit. He wouldn't feel reassured until he saw for himself that Alex would be okay. He needed to see
her blue eyes open and hear her voice.
Time passed slowly. Trivette and Gage had gone to the cafeteria and brought back coffee for everyone. Sydney was now dozing in the corner while Jessica paced back and forth in front of the window. C.D. had left to check in at the station an hour earlier. Walker just stared
down the hallway in the direction of recovery. It was taking a long time for Alex to move to the ward. Just when he was about to go demand some information, a blonde nurse walked into the room. Jessica stopped pacing and turned towards the woman. The nurse smiled wanly. It was obvious she was tired. "Your sister's been moved to room 4605. It's down the hallway, first right turn, and then it's right in the middle in front of the nurses' station."
"That's in the ICU! Didn't she wake up yet?" Jessica asked in a scared voice. The nurse shook her head, "No, she hasn't regained consciousness yet, but she is responding to stimuli so the anesthesia has worn off." She paused as the rest of the group joined them. "She'll be kept in the Unit until she does wake up. It's just a precaution."
Walker joined the pair, "Can she have visitors?"
The nurse turned to look at him. "Yes, but only one at a time." She paused as the rest of the group joined them. "I've got to get back." They watched as the nurse disappeared down the hallway. Jessica started to walk towards the ICU. She turned to see if anyone else was coming, but the others had tacitly decided to let Alex's sister go in alone. She came out a few minutes later, tears streaming down her face. "I-I…" she began before turning and walking as quickly away as she could without running. Walker started to follow her, but was stopped by the pressure of Sydney's hand on his arm. "I'll go," she said quietly. "You're needed in the other direction."
Walker stared off down the hallway to where Jessica disappeared, and then off in the direction of ICU. He took a deep breath and nodded. Sydney smiled as she watched her boss leave to go to the Unit; she then turned and followed Jessica.
Walker smiled at the nurse who nodded as he walked into the glass-walled room where Alex was laying. The curtains were open so he could see the nurse as she worked on her charting, and the nurse could monitor Alex's readings without going in and bothering the patient
and her guest. He stared at the woman lying on the bed; he could see why Jessica had been so upset. This wasn't the Alex they all knew and loved. That Alex was strong, outspoken, and wouldn't let anything keep her cooped up in a bed. This Alex was vulnerable; she looked so
fragile. A wave of guilt swept over Walker at the sight. He again felt the need to give her some of his strength. Glancing heavenward in a silent prayer, he pulled the chair that was in the corner of the cubicle closer to the bed and sat down. Mindful of the IV lines that snaked their way from Alex's delicate wrist to the bags hanging above her bed, he took her hand, rubbing the back of it with the pad of his thumb.
He didn't know what to say to her. In truth, he did know what to say, he had so much to say to her but he didn't know how to begin, his mouth didn't seem to want to form the words that were screaming in his heart. He sat in silence, just listening to the reassuring beep of the heart monitor. He watched the rise and fall of her chest; it was a hypnotic regular rhythm that lulled him into almost forgetting the current trouble.
Almost. The spell was broken by the advent of the nurse. She smiled, "Hi, I'm Leslie; I'll be taking care of Alex." She paused as she jotted down some numbers from the machines that surrounded the bed. "I just need to get a set of vitals on her." Leslie went about her business then turned to leave the room. She paused at the door and turned slightly, "Everything looks good." and she left.
"Well, that wasn't very helpful." Walker muttered as he pushed a stray strand of hair away from Alex's face. "I can read the machines just as well as she can."
Walker woke with a start at the noise. He had a terrible cramp in his neck from sleeping in that uncomfortable chair. The source of the noise put her hand on his arm. "Any change?" Sydney asked softly.
Walker shook his head. "But her vitals are stable," he said with a hint of sarcasm.
Sydney wisely chose to ignore the sarcasm. "That's good." She paused, "Uhm, we're gonna leave now, some of us have to work…" Her voice trailed off. Work! He hadn't thought of that since this ordeal began. "I'll be…"
Sydney interrupted him, "Nah-uh, you won't. You called in sick tonight." She smiled at his confusion. "Okay, I called you in sick."
"Why?" he asked seriously. "I'm not the one in the hospital." Sydney sighed in exasperation. "Walker, you spent seven hours in that warehouse, your best friend is unconscious in the ICU, you need to be here, not sitting at your desk at headquarters. We'll be okay. Trivette's been in charge before, he can handle it again-or you can pick…"
Walker smiled half-heartedly, "No, Trivette can handle it."
Sydney squeezed his shoulder, and then leaned down to whisper in Alex's ear. "Wake up, Alex; he needs to tell you something."
Sydney had just reached the door when Walker stopped her. "Keep me informed."
Sydney sighed again. "No way, Boss," she said with a smile. "You've got enough on your mind." With that she left the room. Walker just stared at her retreating back. He was used to insubordination from her, but usually it wasn't so blatant. He looked back to Alex. She was so still; it didn't seem real. How could anyone lay in the same position for so long without squirming? Why wouldn't his mouth say what he wanted to? He closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them and grabbed Alex's hand. "Did you hear that, Alex? She's keeping me… us out of the loop," he began. "You need to wake up and tell me that I'm an idiot for letting them work on their own again." He rubbed her hand absent-mindedly. "C'mon, Alex, open your blue eyes. It's about time you did. Y'know, it was sort of rude to just blank out on me back there."
Walker paused to take a deep breath. "Ah, hell, Alex, I'm not good at small talk, you know that." All of a sudden, there was a knock on the door and a tall brunette walked in.
Walker started to stand up, but she stopped him.
"It's okay, keep your seat. I'm Dr. Shelton. Annie. I was Alex's surgeon, and I'll be following her while she's in the hospital." Annie glanced at the monitors and read the labels on the IV solutions.
"Cordell Walker, Alex's co-worker."
She pulled out her stethoscope and listened to Alex's heart and lungs. "Her lungs sound clear, her heartbeat's still fast." she put her fingers alongside Alex's neck to test the quality of the carotid pulse. "And thready." Another glance was directed towards the monitor, which was just then retaking Alex's blood pressure. "Yep, low blood pressure. I'm going to have the nurse hang another unit of blood. just as a precaution." She checked Alex's leg dressing; it was saturated with bloody drainage. "Damn!" she muttered. "Nurse," she called out into the hallway. "I need a dressing change kit STAT!" A few moments later, Leslie ran in with the supplies. "Did you assess this dressing when she was transferred to you?" Annie asked.
"No, Dr. Shelton, I didn't." Leslie admitted. "I'm just a float," she tried to defend herself. Annie took a deep breath. It was obvious that she was trying very hard not to rip this nurse a new one. "Who's the supervisor, Leslie?" she asked reading the nurse's name badge.
"Candace Williams." Leslie answered matter-of-factly. She figured that the staffing shortage would keep her from serious consequences. After all, the patient didn't seem any worse off.
"Thank you," Annie said tightly. "Please order two more units of A- positive from the blood bank and hang it immediately. And I want this dressing assessed every half hour for fresh bleeding."
"Yes, Doctor." Leslie answered.
"Page me immediately if this new dressing becomes saturated as well." Annie said, opening the dressing kit and spreading the items out on the bedside table. She pulled on the sterile gloves and began opening packages. Quickly she cut away the old dressing. Walker got his first good look at the wound on Alex's leg. He winced. He'd known that they had to apply a pin apparatus to hold the two parts of the bone together in the one place that had snapped completely--seeing it was another thing entirely.
Annie looked up at him. "I know it looks bad. The break in the fibula was clean and well approximated so all it needs is to stay stable. The tibia fracture, on the other hand, was displaced and broke through the skin. As Dr. Alexander explained downstairs, we were very lucky that the tibial arteries weren't compromised." She paused. "Frankly, I'm not sure how that happened. With the kind of break that Alex suffered, we usually see at least nicked arteries. All I can say is that someone up there must have been watching out for her."
While she'd been explaining the injury, Annie had also been reapplying a clean dressing to the wound. She finished taping it around the apparatus, and then pulled her gloves off. "The external fixator will stabilize the tibial fracture, and by extension the fibular one until she starts moving around. In a few days I will apply a cast. I want the swelling to reduce first, and, of course, all of the bleeding to stop."
Walker walked back into Alex's room. He'd been kicked out so that the incoming shift nurse could do her assessment. "So?"
The nurse smiled--a brilliant smile that lit up the small room, "It all looks good. Her vitals are stable; the dressing is still dry, now it's up to her." She paused, "I've seen patients take a while to wake up after a trauma like Alex had. I'll be checking in on her every couple of hours, if you need anything in the meantime, or if she wakes up, don't hesitate to call for me. My name's Jasmine." With another brilliant smile, Jasmine left the room to check on her other patients.
Walker watched as the woman left the room then sat on the chair that he'd been occupying for the last 8 hours or so. "Alex," he growled. "You'd better wake up soon or this chair won't be of any use to anyone else. It's already starting to mold to my rear."
Taking her hand, he rubbed the pad of his thumb across the pale, almost translucent skin. He was amazed at the warmth of it. The blue veins that coursed under the skin mesmerized him as he proceeded to trace them gently.
" Alex, th-there's so much I want to say to you. But it seems so strange to talk to you when you can't answer me." He paused. "I wish you'd wake up so I can see your beautiful blue eyes when I talk to you."
"S-somewhere along the way, I-think-I fell in love with you, Walker, I needed to tell you once before… before…"
Alex's eyes slip closed and her breathing slows to imperceptible. He leans over her carefully, desperately trying to feel the air movements that have to be there to sustain her life. There is nothing. " Alex!" he calls desperately. There is no response from the woman he is clutching in his arms. Laying her down on the ground carefully, he feels along the side of her neck for a pulse, any sign that she's still with him. There is no pulse. Not even bothering to
be careful anymore, he maneuvers his legs out from under her body and begins CPR, the rusty skills coming back to him in a desperate attempt to save the life of his best friend.
Suddenly, an arm pulls him away. "Walker, she's gone." Sydney states
flatly, her eyes lifeless with pain. "You have to let go."
~End of Dream~
Walker awoke with a start. The nightmare seemed so real. To reassure himself, he reached out for Alex's wrist where he could feel the life pumping through the delicate arteries. He let out a sigh of relief.
Glancing at his watch he realized that Alex had now been unconscious for more than 24 hours. "C'mon, Alex, now would be a good time for you to make an appearance."
Another few hours had passed, Jasmine had made her last check before passing her patients off to the incoming shift... thankfully, it was the regular nurse and not Leslie, the float.
Alex was stable, but still had shown no signs of coming out of her unconscious state. Walker stood up and stretched. He turned to look out the window. The sun was making its way up the horizon; it was beautiful.
Usually, at this time, he was on his way home from work. He relished the morning drive. It was still quiet, not quite rush hour yet. He was able to unwind on the drive. Some days he intentionally missed his turn and just drove, enjoying the waking city.
He was startled by a light knock on the door. Turning, he saw Nicole and Tim standing in the doorway. He smiled. "C'mon in."
"Nicole wanted to see Alex before school." Tim explained. Walker just nodded.
Nicole stepped hesitantly to her mother's side. "Is she hurting?" she asked quietly.
"No." Walker answered. "They're giving her medicine so she doesn't hurt." He thought for a moment, before turning to Tim and motioning that they should leave the room for a moment. "Nic, we'll be out in the hallway for a minute."
"Okay." the little girl answered quietly, her eyes not leaving her mother's still form.
The two men left the room so that Lindsey could have some time alone
"Mommy?" Nicole began quietly. "Mommy, I'm scared. Aunt Jessica and Daddy say that you're hurt real bad." She gently dropped an arm over her mom in a modified hug. "I don't want you to be hurt." She paused, tears running down her face. "Mommy, you have to wake up." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I don't want to live with Daddy. I love him, but I wanna live with you, Mommy."
Nicole stood up. "Mommy, I love you. Please get better." She bent and pressed a quick kiss on Alex's cheek. "Please!" she whispered as she was still bent close to Alex’s ear. Straightening up again, "I've gotta go now, Mommy. It's time for school. Today is the
try-outs for the Spring Pageant. I'll come see you later and tell you what I sang." She turned to leave. Reaching the door, she waved to her mother even though she knew that Alex couldn't see her. "I'll see you later, Mommy. I love you." Nicole left the room.
"Ready, Kiddo?" Tim asked as she reached the pair of men.
Nicole nodded, "Yep."
"See ya, Nic." Walker said with a smile. "I promise that I'll let your mom know that you were here when she wakes up."
"Thanks, Mr. Walker." Nicole answered as she and her father headed towards the elevators.
Walker went back into the room with Alex. "Alex, that is one beautiful little girl that you just missed." He paused, "I promised her that you would get better, so don't you dare make me a liar."
He sat down just as his pager went off. He pulled it out of his pocket and smiled at the readout. It was Sydney. He grabbed the telephone off of Alex's bedside table and dialed Sydney. "Sydney, hi."
Gage had come and gone. He brought Walker some lunch and said that he was checking on Alex. Walker suspected that part of the visit was to check up on him as well.
The nurse made her checks at noon. So far, everything was still stable. It was a good thing and Walker just wished that Alex would wake up so he could tell her that she was going to get better. But mostly he wanted her to wake up so that he could believe that himself.
Walker was staring out over the city, half-praying and half-wondering why God would let something like this happen to Alex when a noise caught his attention.
He turned to see Alex looking at him, her blue eyes full of pain. He rushed over to her side. "Alex, you're awake!"
He smiled at her and she tried to return the action but grimaced instead. The look on her face stabbed him right in the heart; it hurt him to see her in pain. "Sweetheart, are you in pain?"
"Yes." Alex managed to whisper.
"Okay, just a second." Walker assured her as he pushed the button to summon the nurse.
The nurse rushed in, "Can I help you?"
"Yes, Megan, Alex says that she's in pain." Walker answered with a smile.
Megan looked at her patient. "I'll get your pain medication, Alex, and I'll call Dr. Shelton. She'll want to come check you out."
Megan left to do her tasks with a slight spring in her step; she loved happy endings. She knew from experience that now that Alex had awoken, she'd soon be transferred to the surgical ward and be that much closer to being discharged.
A knock on the door interrupted the soft conversation that Walker and Alex where having about work. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
"Not at all, Annie." Walker answered as the surgeon walked into the room.
"Alex, it's good to see you awake." Annie said with a smile, "I just need to give you a quick exam, check your dressings. If everything's the way I suspect it is, you'll be transferred to the surgical ward this afternoon." She paused, "Do you want Walker to leave for this?"
Alex thought for a moment, and then shook her head, "No, he can stay."
Alex was transferred that afternoon and the steady stream of visitors began. With Sydney's help, she was able to convince Walker to leave and get some sleep at home.
The cast was placed the next day and rehab started the day after. No matter how hard they tried, Alex and Walker never got any time alone to talk.
The days flew by and a week after she was admitted to the hospital, Alex was given the okay to leave. She was more than ready to get out of there.
She was scheduled to begin outpatient rehabilitation the next day, and Dr. Shelton estimated that she could go back to work, at least part time and only desk duty, in two weeks. It would probably be at least a month before she'd be allowed back in the field. Alex was understandably upset at that news, but she took it gracefully, at least while Annie was there.
2½ weeks later
Alex dropped gratefully onto the sofa. Her right leg was throbbing in time with the headache she had. Today had been her first day back to work since the accident. She was glad that Annie had decreed that she was only on desk duty, though she'd never admit it out loud to
anyone. Propping her crutches up against the arm of the sofa, she maneuvered herself so that she was stretched out with her leg propped up on the pillows that Nicole had so thoughtfully arranged there the day she'd been released from the hospital.
Jessica was going to drop Lindsey off at school so that Alex didn't have to pick her up on the way home from work. Alex was grateful to her sister, but, on the other hand, she missed the little rituals that she and Lindsey had in the mornings.
Alex sighed as the doorbell rang. She began to get herself up when the door opened by itself.
"It's just me, Alex." Walker called out. "I used my key so you don't have to get up."
"Thanks." Alex replied as she settled back onto the sofa.
"Do you need anything?" Walker asked as he walked past her towards the kitchen, carrying a brown paper bag.
"Two Vicodin wouldn't hurt right now." Alex answered seriously. "The bottles next to the sink."
Walker appeared a few moments later carrying a glass of juice, 2 pills, and a vase of roses.
He set the roses on the sofa end table and handed Alex the glass and pills.
After she took the medication, she handed the glass back to Walker who set it next to the roses.
"Who are the flowers from?" Alex finally asked. "And don't tell me they're from work, they've sent me enough flowers since the accident to open my own florist's shop."
Walker chuckled at that, as it was true. "No, they're not from work." He paused for a deep breath. "They're from me."
"From you?" Alex carefully reached for the vase and brought it to where she could take a deep breath of their scent. [Red roses] she thought.
Walker just sat on the chair opposite her and watched her. "Yes, from me," he answered matter-of-factly.
Alex looked up at him, a question in her blue eyes.
"Alex, don't you think it's time we had a talk?" Walker asked, moving to sit on the edge of the sofa, taking the vase of roses and setting it back down on the table.
Alex looked away, "About what?" She knew exactly what he was talking about, she just wasn't sure she was ready to discuss it.
"You know what," he answered.
"Walker, I…" Alex began.
"No, we're going to talk about it. This has been coming for a lot longer than the last three weeks."
Alex took a deep breath and then turned back to face Walker. "I-I thought I was dying, Walker. Otherwise, I would have never said what I said. I would have never put that burden on you." She turned away again, but not before Walker could see the shine of unshed tears in her eyes. "I-I know you don't think of me that way." She paused to gather her thoughts. "I know that you have feelings for Sydney, and I really hope you can find the happiness that you deserve with her."
Alex would have gotten up and left the room if she could have gracefully. She was hampered both by her leg and the fact that Walker was sitting between her and freedom.
"Alex, I…" Walker began.
"No," Alex interrupted. "You don't have to explain." She paused, "I'm really tired and the Vicodin is kicking in, so I think I'll go to bed now. I'll see you at work tonight."
Walker almost protested but instead he just got up and headed for the door.
After Alex heard the door close, she let the tears that she had been fighting come. She threw her arm over her eyes and sobbed until her throat hurt.
When the sobs subsided, Alex pulled herself off of the sofa and headed for her room. She wanted nothing more than to curl up in a ball under her quilt and sleep forever. Sometimes she thought it was easier to deal with things when she was high.
She changed into a t-shirt and shorts to sleep in and crawled into bed. She fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. Unfortunately, it wasn't a restful sleep. She woke up with a sore throat and a headache when Nicole came in.
"Sorry, Mommy. I didn't mean to wake you up."
"It's okay, Baby. It was time anyway." Alex assured her daughter. "How was Pageant practice?"
"It was..." Nicole proceeded to tell her mother all about it.
The next morning
Like the morning before, Alex dropped to the sofa in exhaustion-not just physical, but also mental. She had spent the entire shift avoiding Walker. She wasn't ready to finish their discussion. She hoped that he would contradict her last statement to him, but she wasn't ready to face the consequences if he didn't.
She didn't hear the front door open or close. Alex was startled when a shadow fell across her. "Cordell!" she exclaimed.
"We are going to finish our conversation, Alex." Walker said without preamble. "Or at least I am, you are going to listen."
Alex pulled herself into sitting position. If she had to do this, she was going to do it on equal terms.
"No, Alexandra, this time you *need* to listen." He sat on the sofa next to her. She looked away, but he reached out and gently turned her face back towards him. " Alex, I-I do have feelings for Sydney." He paused. "But not the ones that you think I do." He let that sink in before continuing. "Sydney is my student, like you were all those years ago. She's fun to be around, but I don't have any romantic inclinations towards her. That-that would be like being in love with
my daughter." He paused again. "I'm protective of her. I want her to learn everything she can. I want her to succeed. I'm proud of her. But I am not in love with her. I am in love with you."
He stopped to watch Alex for a moment, her face registering shock at what he had just admitted. "Alex, you didn't put any burden on me by saying that you were in love with me. It could never be a burden."
Alex smiled, tears coursing down her cheeks, "Am I allowed to talk yet?"
"No." Walker said. "Not until after this." With that he leaned towards her until their lips barely brushed.
Alex didn't need any more encouragement than that. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him in for a real kiss.
When a cramp in Alex's neck finally forced
her to pull back, she was speechless.
"I thought you had something you wanted to say." Walker said quietly.
Alex shook her head. "I-I forgot what it was."
Walker chuckled, "I didn't know I had that effect on women."
Alex smiled. "Don't get used to it." She leaned over and kissed him lightly.
Walker stood up and reached a hand out to Alex, "What do you say I take you out to breakfast?"
Alex took his hand and let him help her up. She leaned on him as he grabbed her crutches. "I'd be honored."