Friendly Fire - A Christmas Story

By Sasquaw

The two rangers are returning from the funeral of one of their fellow officers. Neither of them have had too much to say, their friend was killed in an 'off duty' shooting.

Finally the dark skinned ranger speaks, trying to clear his throat.

"Do you ever think about the way you're gonna die, Walker?---I mean---in our line of business and all?”

The bearded ranger looks to his partner of almost 9 years and shakes his head.

"I try not to think about it, and you don't need to be going there either, Trivette--it will drive you crazy if you keep thinking about it!”

Trivette hits the dash of the Ram and lets out a few curse words, "How do you not think about it, Walkman?  We risk our lives everyday, every single day some idiot is taking potshots at us, you have a family now--how do you not think about it?”

"It's because of my family that I try not to think about it, Trivette!”

Trivette turns to his partner and shakes his finger, "See there---you said 'you try not to think about it'---so you see---you do think about how you're going to die!!!”

"Trivette---of course the thoughts go through my mind----"

"But you just said earlier 'you don't think about it!”

Walker shakes his head, "It's just a figure of speech---o.k. I stand corrected---I do think about it---but I try not to---o.k.?”

Trivette nods and looks out the passenger window, "O.K.------just as long as you're not trying to lay that Cherokee belief on me---that you can't die!  -I'm not swallowing that crap!”

Walker sighs, "Of course I can die, being half Cherokee doesn't make me immortal!”

Trivette's eyes tear up, "Just promise me, Walkman---that you're not going to get yourself killed anytime soon!”

"I wasn't planning on it!!---Geez Trivette--I would like to live long enough to see Angela grow up! What's the matter with you?  Yancey's death has sure done a number on you!!!”

Trivette again has to clear his throat, "Of course I'm upset about Yancey getting killed, but what really pisses me off is that he wasn't even on duty when he caught that bullet!”

Walker studies his partner's face, he can see the hurt in his eyes. Yancey was a good friend to them both, and he left behind a widow and 3 kids.

“I know it hurts, Trivette--but we've both lost friends before and it doesn't matter whether or not he was on duty-----he's still----gone!”

"Let's not talk anymore about this", Trivette dabs at his eyes.  "Can we stop and get something to eat, I don't want to talk anymore about death----o.k., Walkman?”

Walker reaches over and lays his right hand on Trivette's shoulder, "O.k. partner--let's stop and eat---and try to talk about happier thoughts---like the birth of your son that is coming up soon!”

Trivette smiles, "Yeah, let's talk about that and Christmas is coming up, let's talk about that. This will be my goddaughter's first Christmas---I want to buy her something special. What can I buy her, Walker?”

"Trivette, you don't have to buy her anything, just say that you and Erica are going to be at the ranch for Christmas and not be going back to Baltimore like you did at Thanksgiving!”

They pull up to the little diner and Trivette is all smiles, "Why ---if I didn't know better, I would think that you actually missed me---did you miss me Walker?”

Walker shakes his head, "No I didn't miss you---except during dinner---I couldn't tease you about you not eating any turkey. What does your brother serve at Thanksgiving? If I remember right, he's not a vegetarian---unless you've corrupted him!”

They seat themselves and Trivette is all smiles, "No---my brother Simon is not a vegetarian--but I did get him to try sushi and he said it wasn't bad!”   

Walker grimaces, "Yuk, that's almost as bad as Alex's 'blue cheese dressing!”

"Oh come on Walker, you've eaten raw fish before, and not to mention all of those other 'unmentionable items like lizard, tree frogs--- must I continue?”

"I'd rather you didn't.” He turns to the waitress, "Bring me a nice thick T-bone--medium rare with all the trimmings and bring my friend here a salad and maybe some of that seaweed drink---or whatever he calls it!!!”

The waitress looks back and forth at the rangers and tries to smile, "Are you serious?”

Trivette touches the waitress' arm lightly, "My friend is just trying to be funny, I'll take the special-baked chicken and some----salad----no dressing!”

The two rangers laugh as they look around at the customers in the small diner, everyone is looking back at them, somber like.

"Well---so much for the holiday cheer---I don't even see a Christmas tree."

"Maybe they don’t celebrate Christmas, Trivette, and besides it's still a little early for the decorations to go up---we just got through with Thanksgiving last week!”

"Too early? Walker, it's not too early and remember you got to put up a tree this year, for Angela!”

Walker's steak has been set in front of him. He begins cutting into it, some of the blood seeps out, causing Trivette to make a face.

"Walker, it's not done--it's still mooing at you!”  He snickers.

"It's done enough, I don't want it cremated and "yes" I know that I have to put up a tree this year, Alex has already got on my case about it!”

Trivette samples his chicken and shrugs, "Well---Erica and I have already put our tree up--we just haven't put the decorations on yet."

"That's because you bought one of those fake trees, I'm not buying a fake one--my daughter's first Christmas tree is going to be a real one, so therefore I don't want to buy one until about a couple of days before so the needles won't be shedding everywhere!”

"A couple of days?" Trivette is trying to swallow his first bite, "Walkman---you can't wait that long, you have to decorate it!”

"I know that, Trivette---how long does it take to decorate a tree?”

"Have you ever decorated a Christmas tree?”

"Yeah---when I was a kid, we---we had a tree. It wasn't very big---actually----it was just---a bush---but that's all my Father could afford. And, we didn't have all the fancy decorations that most everyone throws on their tree---the fancy bulbs-----and all!!!”

"Walker, I know you had a rough childhood----"

"It wasn't rough Trivette, I'm not complaining---my parents didn't have much, but the one thing that we had plenty of was---love. My parents---were never----ashamed to show their love----to each other and to me."

Trivette nods, "My family was the same way, we had lots of love---but each year my brother Simon and I would see who could pick out the best and biggest tree----at the local boys' club---free-----of course!"

Walker smiles as he remembers his childhood and the way his Mother use to make paper decorations to go on the tree.

"Yeah, and I'll bet your family was just as proud of that tree as you would have been with a bought one."

"You got that right, Simon and my sister Rene would make popcorn and we would string it up---that is if we didn't eat it all first!  Then we would make these rings out paper and sometimes coke lids, so they would shine when the electric lights would come on. What about you Walker, what kind of decorations would you use?”

Walker takes a long sip of his coffee and smiles.

"I guess the most memorable thing that I remember is picking the berries for my Mother to string on the tree or whatever item of substitution that we had at that time. Along with the berries she made little cut outs of the animals that surrounded the manger, you know the lamb, sheep, maybe a cow? She would use the left over ribbons, wrapping paper, and icicle tinsels that the stores would throw away. We couldn't afford any electrical lights, but my Mother always knew how to position the tree so that the moon rays coming through the window would reflect off all of the things I just mentioned. Those were our lights, not all of this fancy stuff that is used on the trees today!"

Trivette rolls his eyes back and forth and smirks, "Great! I can just see it now, Angela will probably have a mesquite tree with aluminum cans hung on it so that the moon rays can reflect off of them! What happens if there is no moon on Christmas Eve, Walker---what then?”

"Well maybe I'll sit my daughter down in front of  Alex's computer, bring up a picture of a artificial tree, complete with fake Christmas carols and say "Here Angela, this is your Uncle Jimmy's version of how Christmas should be, would that make you happy?”

"Yeah!!"  Trivette yells back.

Walker throws his napkin down on the table, "Newsflash Trivette, that ain't gonna happen! My daughter is going to know what a true Christmas is, I will personally cut down a live tree, not one of those artificial ones, and the decorations will mean something, and furthermore----and furthermore"---

The rangers stop glaring at each other as they notice that they are creating a scene, everyone is staring at the dueling rangers.

"I think we should leave, before we get thrown out for disturbing the peace, huh Walker?”

The rangers offer their apologies and quickly head for the Ram.

              ****************************************************************************

Trivette home: Two weeks later:

Walker and Alex have been invited for dinner and Walker is helping his partner bring down all of the Christmas decorations from the attic. Walker frowns as he looks at all of the items; he picks up a strand of lights and asks.

"What do these do, are these the ones that have that liquid inside that gives off a bubbly affect?”

"Yeah, they look real nice", Trivette is grinning as plugs the strand in, "see, see how they bubble, and they're even prettier at night with all of the other lights, all going in unison."

Walker shakes his head, "Better be careful Erica, this husband of yours  is going to burn the house down with all of those lights!”

            Trivette emits a fake laugh, "Ha ha, I have you know I'm following all of the fire codes."

Alex and Erica laugh, "Stop teasing Jimmy, honey--I think the lights look really pretty."

"See, see----even Alex likes the modern technology!”

"Modern technology? Jimmy what are you talking about?”

"I'm talking about having electric lights on their Christmas tree, Erica! Walker here doesn't want to put real lights on their tree---he wants the moon beams to "reflect' off all of the decorations---cause he's too cheap to buy electric lights!”

"That's not what I said, Trivette, at least not exactly!”

"What did you say, honey---how can we not have real lights on Angela's first Christmas tree?”

"I was just comparing the way the holiday is celebrated now and when----things were different and homemade decorations were used instead of all the fancy bulbs and lights and stuff being used today. Most people now days do not know how to celebrate the holiday, what happened to a 'traditional Christmas" and each ornament meant something?”

Erica shakes her head slowly, "I agree, I think we do take advantage of all the store-bought decorations.”

"Wait a minute, time out----Erica, are you siding with the enemy? Baby, this is the 21st century----computer age---not the stone age!' He glares back at Walker.

"Guys, why all the arguing about how 'who' and 'how' a tree should be decorated, everyone to their own choice, alright?” Replies Alex.

The loud conversation has cause Angela to wake up, she whimpers and Walker is running to her, scooping her up out of the Trivette play-pen.

"What's wrong, my angel--Uncle Jimmy getting too loud?”

Alex frowns, "I think you both were guilty of waking her up, now what do you all say that we get to dessert, and stop discussing Christmas decorations!”

"Yeah," agrees Trivette as he reaches over and kisses his goddaughter's cheek, "let's get to that sweet potato pie that Alex baked, and Angela--tell your Daddy not to be so loud!”

"Jimmy, enough", warns Erica!

Walker frowns as they walk to the dinner table carrying his daughter; he looks to his wife and quickly decides he better put a lid on that conversation too. 

Trivette is on his second slice of pie while everyone else is finishing one, he smacks his lips.

"Alex, you have got to show Erica how you bake these pies, only my Mother could bake a better one!”

Erica shoots her husband a dirty look and Alex quickly replies, "Well, thank you for the compliment Jimmy, but not to risk starting a different argument--- I will simply say that no woman likes her cooking compared to the husband's Mother and if Erica should want the recipe, I will direct her to the bakery where I purchased these."

Walker and Erica burst out laughing and Angela tries clapping her hands, with her Daddy helping her.  Trivette sits there with his mouth open, he then starts shaking his finger at Walker.

"Oh my God, these pies weren't home baked!---Walker, that's grounds for divorce!”

Walker grins, "I knew they weren't home baked, I was with her when she picked them up at the bakery. Besides, Alex has a full time job, plus taking care of our daughter, when does she have time to do baking? So there, Trivette----you've been duped!!!”

Trivette stops and stares at Alex, she glares back at him. Trivette starts to chuckle and then shakes his finger at Alex and then back to his partner.

"You don't know, do you Walker?-----You don't know that there is something else that Alex doesn't cook from scratch, huh?”

"Jimmmmmmmy" warns Alex, "don't go there.”

Trivette chuckles louder, "Oh no-----turn about is fair play---I was led to believe that you baked these pies from scratch, Alex----you lied to me.”

Walker looks to his wife, she quickly turns away. He grins slowly.

"Well, Trivette if you're referring to the dumplings that Alex makes me each year not being from scratch, I already know that she makes them from those 'ice box biscuits, or canned biscuits whatever they're called!” Walker looks to his wife and winks.

Alex chokes on her pie, "You knew about that, how did you find out---and when?”

Trivette is grinning from ear to ear and Erica's eyes go back and forth to her guests.

He nods his head up and down, "It doesn't feel so good to have egg on your face, does it Alex?”

Alex smiles, "No, it doesn't Jimmy, but I never told you that I baked those pies, you just 'assumed' that I did! And, as for the dumplings----I've known all along that Walker knew, I just didn't let on that I knew---that he knew.”

Trivette sits there for the longest and then he replies slowly, "Well so much for 'tradition'---huh?”

Erica reaches over and kisses her husband saying, "Don't be upset honey, we still love you.”

            The remainder of the evening is spent watching the Cowboys' game and soon little Angela is letting it be known she wants to go to 'sleepytown' and the Walkers head for home.

The short trip back to the Walker ranch is spent with Alex avoiding her husband's leer, finally she asks.

"O.k., how did you know that I was taking short cuts on fixing your dumplings?”

Walker smiles, "I didn't!!  I had my suspicions but I wasn't quite sure. So, when Trivette brought  that little taunt up, I  thought I would toss it out there and you fell for it hon, 'hook, line, and sinker!”

She pushes her bottom lip out, "Are you upset with me?”

The bearded ranger laughs and reaches for her hand, "No, I'm not upset---they're still delicious no matter how they're fixed--I just couldn't let Trivette think that he was going to get the best of me---if so he'd never let me hear the end of it!”

                        ******************************************************************

A few days later finds Alex and Erica at the mall taking Angela to see Santa. Afterwards they are enjoying a cup of tea and Angela is trying to figure out the best way to suck on her candy cane.

"How are you feeling, Erica, is James Jr. still kicking?”

"Oh yes, my belly is so sore. Did Angela kick a lot?”

"Yep, like a kick boxer and I think once in awhile I was getting a karate chop to my 'you know what!”

The women laugh and Alex keeps checking her watch, "It's almost 4pm, Walker said he would call me as soon as he and Jimmy left Austin!”

Erica sighs and rubs her stomach,  "He'll call Alex---you would think by now that you wouldn't worry so much ---- as long as you've been involved with a lawman!”

"Erica, I still worry about Walker being on a case just as much as I did when we first got involved with each other and before when we were just friends!”

"I didn't mean that to sound so callous---I just thought you'd be used to the danger and all---would you listen to me, I'm doing it again!---Alex I'm sorry."

Alex smiles and looks to her daughter, wiping her little lips of the red and white gooey  stuff.  "It's o.k., blame it on your hormones going amok, that's what I used to tell Walker!”

"Seriously Alex, does it get any easier?”

"Erica, every time Walker goes out on a case I worry about him until he comes home--safe! And now, it's even harder to get used to because of this little girl. But, it's something I have to deal with, it was the choice I made when we started getting serious with our relationship and falling in love."

"Jimmy says that was one of the reasons that you two took it so slow, because both of you were in fields of danger. Do you regret your marrying a lawman?"

"Walker and I had many discussions on our occupations and each time that one of us was in danger or getting hurt, we found ourselves at a cross road. But, we knew that our love was too strong----and no---I do not regret being a lawman's wife, that's the test of knowing your stamina and the true test of love.  Erica, I don't mean to scare you, but you will be put to a similar test in some way or another!"

"You mean should Jimmy get hurt----or shot?”

Alex nods her head, "Yes----it will happen, I know you don't want to hear it---but he's in a dangerous job and he has been hurt before."

"Yes, I remember all too well----La'Vacot----Alex its different now, we will soon have a child---I just hope I'm strong enough."

"You can do it Erica---if you love your man---you can stand the test!"

The ladies remain silent and finally Alex's cell is ringing. She frowns, "O.k. honey I'll see you at home, Erica and I are going to stop at The Cheesecake Factory for supper, want me to bring you home a carry-out?"

"No hon, I don't know how much longer we're going to be, as soon as we're released from this damn meeting I'll call you to tell you we're on our way---kiss my angel for me--love you both!"

The ladies are now enjoying a quiet little dinner.

"Alex, this place is fantastic and this stuffed shrimp is out of sight!"

"I'm surprised that Jimmy has never brought you here, Walker and I have eaten here several times, we really like it."

Erica is all smiles as she watches Alex put small dabs of shrimp sauce on her spoon and tries to feed it to Angela. The baby makes a face and tries to push the spoon away.

"She is such a good baby, Alex---I hope James Jr. is this well adjusted in public places, I can't wait for this baby.''

"Excuse me ladies", a voice interrupts.

Alex and Erica look up to see two policemen "Yes, officers?"

"Mrs. Walker, Mrs. Trivette---you both need to come with us."

"Why, what's wrong?''

"Please----you both need to come with us now----there's been an accident---involving your husbands."

"Oh my God" gasps Alex, "how bad are they hurt?  What happened?”

The officers hesitates, "All I can tell you is----that Ranger Walker has been hurt ---it looks bad----they are both at Mercy Hospital---please come with us."

The ride to the hospital is in silence as both women are fearing the worst.

As soon as they arrive at the hospital they see Trivette and start running to him, the man is covered in blood.

"Jimmy---where is Walker----how bad is he hurt-----Jimmy answer me----"

A nurse is calling out Alex's name, she hands Angela to Erica and runs toward the nurse. Erica turns to look at Trivette; the man is just standing there, mumbling.

She begins shaking him, "Jimmy, what happened, how was Walker hurt-----Jimmy."

Trivette looks to his wife, the tears are running down his face, "I shot him----- I shot my best friend----I shot Walker!"

Angela is feeling the tension in their voices and knowing her Mother is not holding her, she begins to whimper.   Erica is trying to console her as again she begs her husband for answers.

Trivette begins to pace as he keeps walking towards the operating room, the nurses keep pushing him back.

"How is he? The ranger pleads, "Is he going to make it----tell me something---damn it!"

"It's too early to tell, please try to remain calm; we'll let you know how ranger Walker is as soon as we know."

Trivette is walking in circles, his hands go up to his face and back down again, he kicks out at a waste can, "Damn it----I didn't see him."

As Erica is again trying to calm her husband, rangers Gage and Syd come running in, Syd reaches out for Angela.

Gage is grabbing Trivette and he and Erica are moving him to the far end of the waiting room, Erica is screaming at her husband to calm down.

Gage takes Trivette by the shoulders and forces him to look at him, "Trivette---calm down, talk to me man----what happened out there?"

Trivette is shaking his head, his voice is breaking up, "I shot him, Gage----I didn't mean to----I didn't see him---oh my God---I shot my best friend!"

Angela is crying louder and Syd is dialing the home number of the Ferguson’s, she looks to her partner.

"Gage, keep him quiet------too many people are listening and this is not going to look good with Internal Affairs---------uh----yes Mrs. Ferguson this is Ranger Cook."

Syd is walking off with a screaming Angela while again both Gage and Erica are trying to talk to Trivette.

Inside the waiting room outside of the operating room, the surgeons are briefing Alex on Walker's condition.

"All we know is, there's a bullet hole just below the stomach, we have to operate now--- to try and stop the bleeding!"

Alex is crying, "Is he going to make it, will my husband be o.k.?"

The Doctor shakes his head and heads back into the operating room, the curtain is drawn and another nurse takes Alex back to the waiting room. Trivette sees her and starts running to her.

"Alex, I'm sorry---how is Walker, is he o.k.?"

Gage reaches out and gently sits Alex down; Erica goes to get her water.

"The Doctor doesn't know anything yet----Jimmy, what happened, how did he get shot, I thought you two were on your way home?"

Trivette is trying to talk, he goes down on one knee in front of Alex, "We were---but---there was a robbery in progress------ we chased them down an alley---we got separated and, and'…'

"And what, Jimmy?”

"Walker shouted back that one of the robbers was coming back towards me----I heard all of this noise and----the  one guy jumped me---knocking me down------then I saw the other guy coming towards me---firing his gun----I didn't see Walker coming up behind him----I swear Alex---I didn't see him."

Alex stares back at her husband's partner and best friend, "What did you mean by----that you didn't see him?"  She sobs harder, "Jimmy, what are you saying?”

"I shot him, Alex----I swear I did not see him---I swear to God---I did not mean to shoot Walker!"

Gage and Erica stare back at Alex, she sits there with her mouth open, she reaches out and pulls Jimmy towards her, "Of course you didn't mean to shoot him," and the two of them fall into each other's arms crying.

Syd walks back with Angela and the baby is reaching out for her Mother, "The Ferguson’s are being brought to the hospital to take care of Angela, I hope you didn't mind me calling them, Alex"

Alex shakes her head, "Of course not, thank you----Jimmy---you listen to me, sweetheart---this was an accident---Walker knows that you didn't mean to shoot him, are you listening to me?"

The ranger is shaking his head,” What if-----what if----he dies----how will I live with myself, knowing I shot my best friend?"

Alex is looking around for a nurse and Gage is motioning for one to come over to them.

"Jimmy, you have got to get hold of yourself---the nurse is going to give you something to relax."

Erica is nodding her head, "Yes honey, you need to calm down---we all know this was an accident."

"NO", I'm not taking anything to relax me----I want to see him---please tell the Doctors that I have to see him---to explain."

Erica is now crying and Syd is trying to comfort her, Gage and Alex look to each other and Gage murmurs, "He's losing it, Alex---he's going into shock---nurse---would you please give him a sedative, or something?"

The nurse is trying to calm Trivette when suddenly he breaks away from her and starts running to the operating room shouting Walker's name, Gage is running after him, stopping him just outside the doors. Trivette is trying to break away from Gage again, and Erica is yelling at him not to hurt her husband.

Syd runs to the nurse, urging her to administer sedative, aides are running to Gage and trying to help him subdue Trivette. A needle goes into Trivette's arm he goes limp. Gage helps the aides to take Trivette to an empty room and lay him down. Erica comes running in to be with him.

Gage walks back out to Alex and Syd, the tall ranger shakes his head back and forth, "I've never see Trivette so out of control."

Alex is shaking as she tries to console her daughter, "it's o.k. sweetie, and everything is o.k.”

                       ****************************************************************

Mercy Hospital

The Ferguson’s have taken Angela home with them and Alex and the others are still pacing, waiting to hear news on Walker's condition. More rangers and police officers have arrived offering their support, and blood should Walker need it.

Alex is trying to remain calm as she keeps looking towards the operating room; she bites her bottom lip so hard it's starting to bleed.

"What is taking so long----why won't they tell us something?"

Syd puts a comforting arm around Alex, "It hasn't been that long Alex-----here comes the Doctor now."

The Doctor walks slowly up to Alex, he nods his head, "We've stopped the bleeding----but he's still not out of danger yet."

Alex is firing questions at the Doctor so fast he can hardly answer all of them, 

"Can I see him, when can I see him?"

"Soon, they are finishing up now---but he's probably not going to know you're there, he's heavily sedated.''

"I don't care----I just need to see him---he will know that I'm there, he'll be able to feel my presence."

The Doctor smiles, "I'll tell the nurse to come and get you as soon as we have him stable."

Gage breathes a sigh of relief and looks towards the hospital room where Trivette is, "I'm going to let Erica know the news----and try to talk to Trivette."

                  *************************************************************

It's now about an hour later and Alex has been given permission to see her husband.

She takes his hand and kisses his wedding ring, letting her cheek rest softly against it, she tries to smile.

"I'm here honey---the Doctors say---you're going to be o.k.---I know you can feel my presence---I'm here and all of your friends are here also----Angela is with the Ferguson’s, you know that they will take very good care of her---and she's comfortable---being with them."

Alex is taking deep breaths as she gently brushes the back of her hand over Walker's  beard, she bends down to kiss his cheek.

"You don't worry about anything-----everything is going to be o.k. and…"

The noise outside the room startles Alex as she hears the nurse’s voices, "You can't go in there----please---you're not family."

Alex walks quickly to the door and whispers to one of the nurse as she sees Trivette being held back by the aides.

"Please----let him come in---he is family."

The aides step back and Trivette walks slowly into the room, going to the right side of Walker's bed. He sees all the tubes; he has to turn away for a minute, taking a deep breath. He leans down to the bearded ranger, touching his hand gently.

"I'm sorry----big guy----I didn't see you---I swear----I'm sorry."

Alex walks over to Trivette, putting her arms around him, she whispers, "Walker knows that you----didn't mean to shoot him----he knows that you would never hurt him----Jimmy---it was accident! I know it was an accident and Walker knows it---you have got to stop beating yourself up over this!"

Trivette wipes the tears from his eyes, "I just keep remembering the look in Walker's eyes---when he grabbed his stomach and then he fell to the ground-----there was so much blood, Alex----I kept yelling for someone to call 911-----I was trying to stop the bleeding!"

The nurses are wanting Alex and Trivette to leave and Alex has to keep pulling on Trivette's arm.

"Come with me, Jimmy--- we can come back in a few minutes, can't we nurse?"

The nurse nods and Alex and Trivette go to be with the rest of their friends. They see Walker's Doctor coming towards them.

"Mrs. Walker, your husband is holding his own and we will be doing more tests---I can say this---it's not as bad as we first thought it to be."

Alex breathes a sigh of relief as she lays her head on Trivette's shoulder, "Thank God."

"We've stopped the bleeding and ranger Walker is responding very well, the fact that he's in such good physical shape is indeed the main factor. Now, we have more tests to run, but everything from this point looks good----however it's always the first 24 hrs that will be the most crucial as you well know. Try and get some rest and as soon as there is more information to pass onto you, we will let you know."

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

"I am going to get us all something to drink---Alex is there anything else you need, something to eat?"

"No thanks Gage----just some hot tea if they have it----I want to call and check on Angela."

              ****************************************************************

Late evening:

Alex and Trivette are the only ones allowed to visit with Walker, their visits are kept short, but each time they have visited-Trivette is still having a hard time dealing with the accident.

Alex watches him closely and then she approaches him.

"Jimmy, come over here and sit down with me---would you please try and talk to me about what is really bothering you? You can't possibly still believe that you could have prevented this, from the reports that I have heard ---there is no way, you had only a split second to react."

Their friends watch as Trivette looks back at all of their faces, he reaches for his wife's hand.

"I've had to react in similar cases that have left me completely bewildered, helpless, and scared-----and I've had to kill---" he sobs-- "and I have not been proud of that----but it's my job."

Gage and Syd rub his shoulders for support of their friend, "We all have, Trivette----we understand what the perils of our jobs are."

Trivette takes a deep breath and looks back towards  ICU----"But none of these situations can compare as to how I felt when I saw Walker going to the ground and grabbing his stomach-----I kept remembering----that day---that----we had---that discussion-----about---how we were going to die."

Alex reaches over and takes the ranger's hand, "Are you referring to the day that Yancy was killed?"

Trivette nods, "Yeah----and Walker and I were discussing it----or rather I was---Walker was trying to act like----that catching a bullet never bothered him."

Alex sighs, "Oh Jimmy---you are so wrong---Walker is only human, of course he has the same worries----and he told me about that conversation and how upset you were."

"He did?"

"Yes, he was worried about how Yancey's death was affecting you----and it was only normal that you would react the way you did."

Trivette clears his throat, "What do you mean? Alex----I've had other friends lose their lives----and Walker and I have both been hurt in the line of duty----but why did Yancy's death hit me so hard?"

Alex smiles and nods to Erica, "Two of the reasons are sitting right beside you----Jimmy---you have a family now, a child on the way---and your feelings and priorities have changed---your feelings and emotions are more vulnerable  now, don't you see?"

Trivette shakes his head slowly, "But, Walker-----"

"Sweetheart, Walker has changed too----he may not show it to you or the rest of you guys----but the minute he puts that gun on and walks out the door, he is putting on armor.  He can't be thinking of me or Angela, because we are his 'weakness---his vulnerability, he has to try and put us out of his vision---but not his heart.   Until he walks back through that door, he doesn't belong to us."

"I guess I never looked at it quite that way, I just thought that it was because of his military training and that darn Cherokee belief that he couldn't be hurt---but yet I know that's not true---and Alex I yelled at him about that!"

"I know---he told me that sweetheart, and one of the reasons that he doesn't discuss things like that is because----he knows---that it will happen-----some day---there's no preventing it."

Trivette nods his head, "Yeah!!!----And, I almost proved that---didn't I?

"What if it had been the other way around, what if that had been Walker that shot you? Do you think that he would be any less upset----Jimmy----Walker thinks the world of you----it was an accident---plain and simple?"

"I love that man, Alex "Trivette sobs, "I couldn't live with myself if he dies."

"Jimmy, Walker is not going to die, you heard the nurses and the Doctors tell Alex that Walker is improving, he's getting stronger by the hour."

"Erica is right, we just have to have faith---and to believe." replies Syd.

Trivette nods his head slowly, "Yes, yes---we have to believe and we know that Walker would be the first one to say that we have to have faith----in the man upstairs."

Alex stands up and points to the chapel sign, "Why don't we all go and ask for 'his strength to give us a 'sign'."

Trivette smiles, "I thought for a minute that you were going to suggest that we build a sweat lodge."

They all laugh and Alex replies, "If I thought that the hospital would allow it, I would!!"

                   *****************************************************************

Walker is slowly coming out of his sedation; Alex is talking to him softly.

"Can you hear me, honey---squeeze my hand if you can hear me?"

The voice is barely audible, "I can hear you----Alex------"

Alex is fighting back the tears as the Doctor is making his examination.

"He's coming along just great, Mrs. Walker----I could feel his determination all through the surgery----the fight in him----and the obvious will to survive---you and his friends."

Alex is holding her husband's hand and kissing his ring, "Yes---my husband has a lot of friends and family that love him very much."

The Doctor smiles and walks out, motioning that the rest of Walker's friends be brought in.

"Keep it short----and don't let him talk----he's still pretty weak."

Trivette walks up slowly to his friend's bed and whispers, "We're here, big guy---we're all here."

The ranger's eyes look slowly around the room and then back to his wife, "Alex----Angela?”

"She's fine honey---just missing her daddy----she wanted me to give you this!” Alex places the stuffed pinto horse down beside Walker's hand, "And to give you a big kiss."

Alex kisses her husband's lips,  "We love you, honey."

Walker smiles as he touches the stuffed horse, "Amigo-----how will----Angela sleep-----without him?"

Everyone laughs, and then gradually everyone begins to leave, Trivette is holding back and Walker whispers his name.

"Trivette,  you----really didn't have----to shoot me---I would have---given in on the---electric lights."

Erica glares back at her husband, "I don't believe this, were you two still arguing---about those Christmas lights?"

Trivette  grimaces, "Well----maybe just a little."

Walker tries to laugh.

               ****************************************************

It's a week before Christmas and the Doctors are giving Walker the green light to go home in a few days. Trivette has been at the hospital everyday.

"Walker, are you sure there's not anything I can do out at the ranch? Do you need me to do any plowing, what about taking care of Old Ranger?"

Walker shakes his head, "I've told you Trivette--I have ranch hands that will take care of all of the chores, especially the plowing!----And, you stay away from Old Ranger, he has enough problems---he doesn't need you trying to redo his barn!"

"There's got to be something I can help you with, you're always doing work out there, you're always saying that work on a ranch never gets completely done!"

The two rangers are still going at it when Alex comes in, "Guys---keep it down, the other patients are complaining."

"You hear that Trivette---now don't you have something to do back at the office?"

The man starts to argue and then he leaves.

Walker sighs, "That man is driving me crazy---he's constantly asking if there is something I want him do."

"Honey, he's just trying to make up for he what he did, humor him!"

"If I don't get out of here soon, I might be tempted to shoot him!"

Alex laughs, "Please try and have a little more patience with him, how many times did he try to empty your bed pan this time?"

"I lost count---Alex I got to get home and get the tree put up, there is so much I got to do."

"Walker---you are in no shape to be worrying about putting up a tree, I will just get one of those little miniature trees for this year---Angela will understand."

                        *******************************************************

Ranger Headquarters

Gage and Syd are looking for Trivette.

"Where the heck is he, Captain Malloy has been trying to locate him all morning?"

"Maybe he's still at the hospital?"

"Nope, I called there, Alex said he left a couple of hours ago, and Erica says he's not at home."

"Gage, I don't like the sound of any of this, you don't think that----that he's starting to blame himself again for the shooting, Walker told him himself that he didn't blame him, that it was just that---an accident!!"

About 2 hours later and ranger Gage gets a phone call, then he too---disappears.

"What the heck is going on around here?"  Syd is mumbling to herself.

                 ******************************************************************

The two rangers stare at each other, the tall one asks:

"O.k. Trivette---I'm here, now do you want to explain what we are doing here on the north end of Walker's property?"

Trivette grins, "We're here on the north rise because this is where the best pine trees are, we're going to cut down a tree---for Walker."

Gage's eyes grow wide, "What, are you crazy? Walker will kill us if we try to cut down one of those trees!  You know how he's always talking about getting these trees to grow; you know how particular he is with these trees, the environment, and all!"

"Not just any tree---Gage we have to pick out a tree that has had its maturity---it's the young trees that Walker doesn't want cut down!"

Gage hesitates, "I don't know, Trivette, did you clear this with Walker first?"

"No, of course not---it's going to be a surprise! Look, I overheard Walker and Alex saying that they would probably have to settle for a small artificial tree this year for Angela's first Christmas---now you know Walker doesn't like fake trees.

"I know that Trivette, Syd and I have been hearing the arguments between you two for weeks now about fake trees, electric lights---remember?

"Exactly, and I have come to the conclusion that my best friend is right and if he wants a real tree for his daughter's Christmas, then by gosh---he's going to get it. Now, are you going to help me cut a tree down, or do I do it all by my lonesome?

Gage looks around him and spots Walker's chain saw lying on the ground.

"Trivette, do you know how to work a chain saw, especially one that big!! Does Walker know you have his chain saw?”

"Yes, I know how to work a chain saw, how hard is it, you just turn it own, its gas powered."  ---And ’no’ what Walker doesn't know won't kill him-----oops, not a good choice of words. Now, are you going to help me or not?

The tall rangers shrugs, “I’m in----but if anything happens to Walker's tools, I'm not taking any of the blame!!

"Would you stop worrying big guy, now we have to choose a tree!

                    ************************************************************

Ranger Headquarters:

A very irritated female ranger is staring back at the rangers standing before her, they are a mess, from head to toe---not to mention: breathing hard.

"What the heck happened to you two, Captain Malloy has been looking for you Trivette, where have you been?"

Gage is trying to swallow, "It's a long story Syd and we will explain to Captain Malloy, but right now you need to do something for us."

Syd frowns as she crosses her arms and looks back to Trivette, the man is covered in pine needles, his hands and face are covered with scratches.

“What, pray tell?  Trivette looks like he’s in need of a first aid kit!"

"Never mind that, Syd, we need you to stall Alex from bringing Walker home from the hospital," Trivette replies.

"Wait a minute----stall Walker from going home, why?  Trivette, you were so anxious that he get out of there and now you're wanting him to stay longer---what are you going to do to that poor man now?"

Gage sighs, he turns to Trivette, "I will explain everything to Syd---you go talk to Captain Malloy---and then if we're both not put on report---maybe we can get this plan carried out----I hope."

                          **********************************************************

Mercy Hospital:

Alex hesitates before entering her husband's hospital room. Walker is sitting up in bed, flipping the TV remote back and forth, and softly swearing under his breath.

"Hi honey----" she tries to sound chipper, "how you feeling?"

"I'll be feeling a lot better once I'm out of here, has the Doctor released me yet?"

"Uhm, not yet---he's in surgery and hasn't signed the papers, it will be later this evening, before you can probably get out of here."

"Alex, the nurse said I would be going home within the hour---what's the hold up----all the Doctor has to do is tell the nurse to release me?"

"I know honey---but like I said Doctor Jones is in surgery----and the nurses are really busy---it's the holidays and everyone is wanting to be home for the big day. Just a couple of more hours, o.k. honey?"

Walker looks at his wife suspiciously and then he nods, "You know that I have several good looking nurses' aides taking care of me, a couple of them are rather attractive."

Alex stares back at him, "And---your point is?"

Walker smiles, "They give fantastic 'sponge baths' and I will be due for my next one in about two hours."

"Welllllllll, in that case, why are you in such a hurry to get out here?" Alex asks as she gently sits down on the side of his bed---"One would think that you would be wanting to stay?"

His voice becomes low, "Because---I'd rather YOU give me a sponge bath---with some extra attention----you're so good at it."

She reaches over, squeezing his lips together, "Good save Cowboy---now let's see if I can divert your attention away from that sponge bath," she then kisses him long and tender.

"Alex, this isn't helping" he breathes deeply, “you’re making it worse---but please don't stop."

                    ********************************************************

Walker Ranch:

The three rangers are pulling and tugging on the tree to get it through the door.  Finally with one final jerk, the tree and all three of them end up on the living room floor.

Gage gets up first, "I got to get something to drink, I'll see what's in the fridge."

Syd and Trivette are still breathing hard as they both get up and stare down at the tree.

"We did it Syd, we got the tree in, Walker is going to be so happy."

"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON DOWN THERE?"  A voice yells out.

"Oh no, I told Alex to stall---what are they doing home?"

Trivette looks to the stairs, "Relax---it's Gordon----hi Gordon."

Gordon shakes his head, "Oh yes, Alexandra said you three would be stopping by---where's the other one?"

Gage comes from the kitchen, a sandwich in one hand and a glass of tea in the other, "Here!----Hey Mr. Cahill, how's it going?"

"I'm not quite sure," the old man replies," and would you please stop calling me Mr. Cahill---son---call me Gordon!---And, don't get those bread crumbs all over my daughter's new carpet!!!"

Syd reaches out and slaps Gage, "You could have brought us something to drink too, you big lug!"

Gordon looks to the tree, "Never mind the bread crumbs, Alexandra is going to shoot all three of you when she sees all those pine needles!!!"

Trivette is grinning from ear to ear and pointing towards the tree, "Well, well --what do you think, Gordon---nice tree—huh?"

"Yes, Jimmy---it's a very nice tree---but don't you think---it's a little tall?"

"It just looks tall, because it's laying down---come on Gage---let's stand it up---over there by the fireplace!"

The two men are again grunting and groaning, Syd and Gordon look up to the ceiling and then to each other, Syd starts clearing her throat.

"Uh guys---there's a small problem---actually a big problem---that tree is too tall for this room."

"No, it isn't, replies Trivette and then he groans, "yes it is----about 2 feet too tall."

"What?"  Gage is glaring back at Trivette, "I thought you measured this room?"

"NO, I just assumed that the room was an average 14 ft ceiling,"

"Trivette, an average room has a 12 ft ceiling----now what do we do?"

"Simple, we bring the chain-saw in and cut off two feet."

"Oh no you don't, you're not cutting that tree inside the house---you'll have saw dust everywhere, not to mention more pine needles," yells Gordon.

Everyone stares at Trivette, "So, we drag it out on the front porch and cut it there, will that work, Gordon?"

Gordon sighs, "I'll tell you what I'm going to do, I'm going to the kitchen and have a nice glass of wine, would you care to join me, ranger Syd?"

Syd puts her arm through Gordon's, "I would be honored to join you---and these two buffoons can figure out this mess---and I'd better call Alex and tell her to stall Walker---for another hour."

Gordon laughs, "An hour? Hell it's going to take them an hour just to get it back out the door----better make that 2 hours."

The two rangers start dragging the tree back outside.

                   ***********************************************************************

The nurse is staring back at Alex, Walker is trying to get dressed.

"Did I stall long enough, Mrs. Walker, I'm afraid that I can't stall any longer---we need this room!"

Alex nods her head and puts her cell phone away, "I know and I appreciate everything you've done, I will just have to take the long way home----and hope my friends have everything finished by the time we get home."

She walks slowly towards her husband and helps to get his boots on.

"Who were you talking to hon, and why were you whispering?"

"Walker, this is a hospital and I'm not even supposed to have my cell phone on----uhhhhh I was talking to Josie at the HOPE center."

The ranger smiles, "Good, I'll get to see my daughter soon---come on hon---let's get out of here."

"Well, there will be a slight---detour---after we pick up Angela at the center, we have to swing by the pharmacy and pick up some medicine for Mrs. Ferguson."

"Can't we do that later, Alex---I want to get home?"

Alex is motioning for her husband to get into the wheel chair, he's trying to refuse.

"I can walk, Alex, I don't need a darn wheel chair!"

The nurse shakes her head, "Sorry, ranger Walker---hospital rules---all patients leave in wheel chairs---no exceptions!!"

Walker takes a deep sigh, "Fine---I will get into the wheel chair, now can we please get out of here?"

Alex whispers to the nurse, "Thank you----uhhh----are there any elevators that aren't working right?"

"What did you say hon----about elevators?"

"Nothing honey---let's get out of here", she looks back to the nurse and she's mouthing the word 'south elevator----it's slow!"

                      ****************************************************

Walker Ranch:

Erica and the Ferguson’s have arrived, and Hank Ferguson has helped the two rangers pull the tree back in and set it up. The women are shaking out the branches, and Gordon is going for the vacuum cleaner.

They all stand back to admire the tree and Gordon slaps Trivette on the shoulder, "You did good son---both of you."

"O.k. now---the decorations, where are they?"

"Everything is right there in that box, Jimmy."

Trivette stares at the box and then back to the tree, "This is it! This is all of the decorations to go on the tree?"

Syd grimaces, "Those decorations won't even commence to cover---half the tree."

Trivette groans, "I can't believe that this is all the decorations that Alex and Walker have, what did they put on last year's tree?"

"Actually Trivette, they didn't have a tree last year, remember we had Christmas at C.D.'s right before they closed it down."

"Yeah Gage, I remember now----I remember how sad everyone was.”

Martha Ferguson clears her throat," I think I will go fix some sandwiches and make a fresh pot of coffee for when Cordell and Alex get here."

Erica nods her head, "I'll help you."

"So guys, what do we do now?" Asks Syd.

Trivette looks to Gordon, "Any suggestions, Gordon?"

"Well---I do know one thing Alexandra had mentioned that she and Walker wanted to start their own 'traditional'  Christmas and she asked me to bring some of her Mother's old Christmas ornaments."

"So----where are they?"

"Right there in that box, I didn't have but just a few of Kathleen's things, Alexandra is going to be so upset that----

"They're here, they're, Alex is driving around to the back like you asked her to."

The guys are all looking for a place to hide as they hear Walker's voice coming through the laundry room.

"Why did we come to the back door, Alex?"

"I told you----Daddy said he was vacuuming the front carpet and-----"

“Surprise------and Merry Christmas" all the voices shout.

Walker and Alex stop and stare at the sight before them, all of their friends standing in front of a bare Christmas tree. Walker shifts his daughter to his other arm and then he slowly grins.

"I should have known that you were up to something hon, taking the back road, driving 30 mph---what are you guys up to now?"

Gordon goes to take his granddaughter as he puts an arm around Walker's shoulder, "How you feeling, son?"

Walker returns his father-in-law's embrace, "I'm good, Gordon----were you in on this too?"

"Guilty as charged."

Trivette walks up to Walker slowly, "We all just wanted Angela's first Christmas to be special and I overheard you and Alex saying that because of your injury---you wouldn't be able to cut down that tree that you talked about."

Walker eyes his partner, "Are you saying that you went out and cut this tree down---yourself?"

"Yeah----me and the big dude over there----I was very careful to not pick a young tree----we got one that was fairly----old."

Alex can see the nervousness in her husband as she puts an arm around his waist.

"Honey, wasn't this nice?"

"Just one question---where did you cut this tree down?"

Gage is now getting nervous, he mumbles, "On the north rise---Trivette said that was the place---it was all his doings!!!"

Trivette shoots Gage a dirty look, "You big chicken!"

Walker laughs and throws his arm around the two rangers, "I was just afraid that you were going to say the East ridge----I have a lot of young saplings up there---whew! I sure am glad you didn't cut those down!"

Alex looks at her husband suspiciously, he winks back at her.

The sandwiches and coffee are being served and of course---huge helpings of Martha' chocolate chip/pecan cookies. Gage is eating them by the handful.

"Walker, we wanted to put some decorations on the tree but Gordon said that this was all the decorations you had."

"Yeah, it is., for now" Walker goes to the box and picks up several ornaments, "But, you see Trivette---each of these ornaments are very special---they each tell a story."

Syd picks up a small ornament of The Nativity Scene, she smiles "This one tells the most famous of all stories, it doesn't need any explaining."

"You got that right,” replies Hank, and neither does the The Star of David, right Cordell?"

"Right, Hank all of these biblical symbols are the most important in remembering Christmas, because that's what this holiday is all about---they go to the very top of the tree."

Gage picks up an old Texas Ranger's badge, "I've never seen this before, Walker---did it belong to C.D.?"

"No Gage that star belonged to a very special Texas Ranger."

"Don't tell me, Hayes Cooper, your hero?"

"Nope, it belonged to a man named Jake Mc Cord, he watched me ride in my very first bull ride and when the judges tried to keep my prize money from me, he intervened. They also tried to take my first belt buckle. Later Jake asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I couldn't decide between being a bull rider like my Father or the excitement of being a lawman---a Texas Ranger. He gave me his badge and he said---"Why not both?"

"There are other things in here that represent both Walker's and my history. Tell them honey---tell them what each one represents."

"Well, I'll start with the badge that Sam gave me, my belt buckle and the only belt buckle that my Father was allowed to keep. You see we didn't have much money---so my Father sold or traded his belt buckles for food. This yellow scarf belonged to my Mother, I bought it for her with my winnings from bull riding, she was wearing it the day that-----"

"Your parents were killed by skinheads" answers Trivette.

"Yeah, and these mementos will go here in the center of the tree along side this first Christmas bulb that belonged to Alex's Mother. It was hand-carved in Germany by Alex's great-great grand parents- is that right, Gordon?"

"Yes, I'm so sorry I couldn't find any of the other things you asked me for, pumpkin---this was all I could find!"

"It's o.k. Daddy."

Walker looks to his wife and her Dad, he smiles, "Christmas is also a time for forgiveness, and bringing family members together again."

"Next is the small medicine bag that belonged to White Eagle."

"I remember seeing that pouch, he wore it around his waist, I never saw him without it."

"Right again, Trivette----" and this carving of two birds was made my Uncle Ray---it represents the Wren and The Raven---the names given to the twin sons that died shortly after birth to Uncle Ray and Aunt Ruth, they go next on the tree. All of you remember the little wooden cowboy that C.D. would put atop his tree every year, this is it. And, it too goes in the center of the tree, along with this picture that was taken of the 4 of us at C.D.'s.

Directly in the center of the tree is a replica of mine and Alex's wedding rings, they represent a never-ending circle of our love for each other."

The oohs and ahs are whispered as Walker and Alex kiss.

"BUT, last but not least is this little pink bootie saying ANGELA's 1st CHRISTMAS”, beams Alex  as she chooses a very special spot next to their replica.

"Wow! You know what, Walker---I can understand now what you were saying about ornaments that mean something----yeah----I understand now."

"Good, because now Alex and I would like to have something from each of you to put on the tree, this year and each year forward."

Alex laughs as she reaches out and hugs Martha and Hank, "And, I know that Walker is

thinking---COOKIES AND LOTS OF THEM!"

Everyone is laughing as Walker walks up to Trivette, "There's one other thing I would like to add to the tree and that's this----and he hands a small package to his partner. Trivette opens it quickly, staring back at the object.

"OH my God---where did you get this---Walker where did you find this?"

"What is it Trivette?"

Trivette holds up a silver star with Dallas Cowboys on one side and the reverse side is  # 25 GO LONG TRIVETTE engraved on it.

Walker laughs as he puts his arm around his partner, "Alex found it on the net, it was hard to find since you only played one season---but she found it!  Also, here's another ornament for that son of yours, his will go right beside Angela's. And, the finishing touch will be this angel, representing our daughter it goes on the very top."

Walker takes his daughter and he and Gage help Angela to place the star on the very top.

"Walker, honey---can we at least put one strand of electric lights on the tree?"

"Of course---actually there are several strands that----I bought----right before----Trivette shot me---they're in the hall closet."

The tree is lit and pictures are being taken.

Walker clears his throat, "Several of you have asked what kind of gift would we be  getting for Angela this year," he stops and kisses the side of her head, "well, Alex and I have decided that the best gift would be---to give her back to God. We are having her baptized tomorrow on Christmas Eve and all of you are invited to come to join us in this blessed event.

And since you haven't been 'officially appointed her god parents, Trivette, Erica we would like very much for you two to be there to hold our daughter during the christening."

"You got it big guy----we'll be there with bells on."

The Walker household is all laughing, they stop long enough to raise their glasses to the loved ones they have lost, and the new life that will begin with the expansions of the Walkers and the Trivette’s.

          Merry Christmas---2009    

           By Sasquaw