This is one I wrote for Mix. Enjoy!

Keeping Secrets - Murph

Walker sat behind his desk in the Ranger office, but his thoughts were not on working. Last night Alex’s announcement that she was pregnant had come by complete surprise. But, what a pleasant surprise! He smiled broadly while he relived the moment in his mind. He hadn’t thought he was capable of more love than what he felt for Alex, but now his heart swelled with the knowledge that she was carrying his child.

As a Ranger, Cordell Walker had witnessed many miracles. He’d often participated in them, and he had always thanked God for using him to help those in need. But now, God had given him and the woman he loved the most precious miracle of all – new life. His fingers nervously rubbed his bearded jaw as he thought about the awesome responsibility of raising a child. Would he be a good father?

“Earth to Walker!” Jimmy’s teasing voice interrupted Walker’s reverie. He blinked and looked up at the grinning Ranger. Alex had wanted to wait to tell their friends about her pregnancy until they were sure everything was going as it should. Walker had agreed, but looking at his trusting partner, he felt a little pang of guilt. Trivette was his best friend, and practically a brother to Alex. It was going to be hard keeping such marvelous news from this man. He smiled with a little effort.

“Sorry, Partner. I was lost in thought.” Trivette looked suspiciously at the red-bearded Ranger.

“Is that a good or bad thing?” He asked.

“Good. Really good.” Walker replied without explanation. He was relieved when Syd and Gage came into the room arguing loudly.

“I am just saying that a kid needs to be raised by family, and if someone has to stay home, it should be the……” Gage never got to finish as Syd interrupted him.

“It should be the parent who WANTS to stay home! Honestly, Francis, you are such a pig.” She flipped her long, black hair over her shoulder and put her hands on her hips, silently taunting her partner to argue with that. He rolled his eyes and sighed.

Walker sighed too. He sure did not want to continue their conversation, mostly because it was one he and Alex were going to be forced to have very shortly. He felt very confident that both he and his wife would easily fit into the working parents’ role, but until the baby was born, they didn’t really know what each would want. If Alex decided to go part-time, he knew he would seriously consider the Captain’s position that had been offered to him. It would mean more money, and less dangerous assignments. Those were two things that had been looking better to Walker since he had gotten married. He loved his job, and was still very committed to it, but life with Alex had shown him that there were other joys to be had. In the past he had gone home to a dark, empty house. It had been shelter, a place to sleep and eat. But now he often left work a little early just to get home to a warm fire in the fireplace and Alex in the kitchen singing while she prepared supper. He would come in and she would wrap him up in one of her bear hugs before her lips found his and they lost themselves in a welcome home kiss. He utterly cherished those kisses and the special touches of hers that made his house a home. It was just the two of them, but it felt like the world to him. And, now, there would be one more. A beautiful little child – the gift of their love for each other. He had to take a breath to calm his pounding heart. They still had several months to go before the blessed event, but he was so excited he thought he would explode. It was going to be hard to concentrate on business in the days to come.

“So, what do you think, Walker?” Trivette’s voice again broke in. Geez, Walker tried to think quickly. He had no idea what they’d been discussing. He smiled and patted his stomach.

“I think I’m hungry.” He said. “Let’s go to lunch.”

The other three Rangers gave him a puzzled look, but agreed that an early lunch sounded good. As they traipsed out of the office, Jimmy stared at his partner. The man definitely was keeping a secret. He could tell by the way the older Ranger swaggered just a little bit. Jimmy nodded to himself. Before the day was out he would discover Walker’s secret, or he was not James Trivette – Texas Ranger and master detective!

The four decided to descend en masse on Alex in her office, hopefully defeating any excuses she might have to deny their invitation. They burst in her door and trooped in. Alex looked up to see four solemn Rangers looking at her. Her expression of surprise turned to one of exasperation.

“Okay, okay!” She confessed. “I was the one who spiked the punch at the Junior Prom!”

She shook her head and laughed as the Rangers grinned. She quickly got up and moved to her husband’s side, sliding her arm around his waist and resting her other hand on his broad chest.

“I…uh…thought I did my time for that one, Cowboy.” She said softly as she kissed him. He raised his eyebrow suggestively. The other Rangers groaned loudly and protested the affectionate scene. But, it was all in fun. It gave everyone a warm, fuzzy feeling in reality when they witnessed the love between the tough cowboy and his beautiful wife.

Jimmy cleared his throat, “Well, if you two can tear yourselves apart for a few minutes, we thought we’d grab a bite at the steakhouse.”

“Oh, absolutely!” Alex replied quickly reaching for her purse. “I’m famished!” She winked at Walker and propelled him out of the room while the surprised Rangers scrambled to catch up with them. The girls stopped at the restroom while the men went to retrieve the car.

Jimmy drove with Alex squeezed between him and Walker on the front seat. Gage and Syd sat in back with as much space between them as they could get. The black Ranger was a little surprised when he looked over to see his partner’s hand resting possessively on his wife’s….stomach?

Walker caught his partner’s eye and quickly removed his hand. What should he do now? Trying to make an excuse for his action, he mumbled….

“Is your stomach feeling better now?” Alex gave him a puzzled look, but didn’t realize what he was doing.

“Yep. It’s just fine now. And I could eat a whole cow just by myself today. Can’t you go faster, Jimmy?” She turned her baby blues on him, and Jimmy automatically gave the car more gas. He’d never heard about marriage increasing one’s appetite….for food, but Alex’s had certainly improved of late. He was amazed that she didn’t look like a cow with everything he had seen her consume.

The five entered the steakhouse, talking and laughing over the last case they had solved. A farmer had insisted that something was beaming down from outer space and taking his cattle. Turned out a local newscaster had been using the station’s helicopter at night to purloin his dinner. They had found the man’s freezer full of freshly butchered meat.

“Oh, darn.” Alex slipped past the group. “Sorry, guys, nature calls!” She whispered as she headed for the ladies’ room. The others found a table and just as Alex returned, the waitress came for their order. Everyone ordered steak and potatoes. Finally the waitress turned to the slim, blonde woman.

“What will you have ma’am. A salad?”

“That sounds good.” Alex smiled, “And add a T-bone, medium-rare…. baked potato with butter and sour cream….baby carrots…..and some of that great sourdough bread you have.” She looked at Walker who smiled affectionately at her.

“How about some dessert, Hon?” He said.

“Can I?” Alex grinned sheepishly.

“My wife will have a large serving of the Oreo-cookie cream pie I saw in the window.” Walker hugged her and kissed her on the forehead as the stunned waitress moved away.

“Alex, where are you going to PUT all that?” Jimmy inquired incredulously.
“She’ll find a way, Trivette.” Walker replied calmly. His partner eyed him suspiciously. Okay, his wife is suddenly eating like Attila the Hun, and he thinks everything is situation normal. Things are getting curiouser and curiouser.

Everyone enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch and then piled in the car for the return trip. Jimmy was still pondering how a 115 lb. woman could eat all that when a small bird flew directly into the path of the car. He reflexively tapped the brake, but not in time. A small thump told them the bird was on its way to bird heaven. Alex gasped as the bird hit, and then slumped back in the seat.

“Sorry, guys.” Jimmy apologized. “I didn’t see it in time.”

“We know, Trivette.” Walker sympathized. He put his arm around Alex’s shoulders. The car was silent for a few minutes, and then Alex surprised them all by bursting into tears. Walker pulled her into his arms possessively.

“Honey, it’s all right. The bird didn’t suffer….”

Trivette was mortified. He couldn’t believe Alex was so upset over a bird. It was an accident…..

Finally, the tears ebbed as they drove into the garage. Walker and Alex got out and started toward the building. Trivette caught Walker’s attention. His sad puppy expression told the older Ranger how bad he felt. Walker looked down at Alex.

“Hey, feel better?” He said when she gave him a tentative smile.

“Yep. But, I gotta make another pit stop.” She kissed Walker, and once again Jimmy noticed his hand stray unerringly to cover her stomach. They broke the kiss and Alex left. Walker shuffled his feet and then looked at Jimmy.

“She’s just a little moody lately, Trivette. Don’t take it personally.” Before Jimmy could answer, his partner was strolling across the garage to the elevators.

“Back to work.” Jimmy thought to himself.

They had been working at their desks for a couple of hours when the door to the Ranger office opened suddenly. Alex, looking like she was royally pissed crossed the room to stand in front of her husband’s desk. He looked up somewhat shyly and peered at her.

“How could you do this?” She asked in an icy tone. Walker took the folder meekly from her. He scanned it quickly.

“The Matthews’ case? I thought you were going to give that to another ADA?”

“I was, but you jumped the gun on me and delivered the paperwork. Now, the decision is not up to me.” She looked upset and hurt. Walker tried to quickly think back to their previous discussion over the case. Hadn’t she said that she didn’t want it? Why would she be mad that he had given the casework to someone else?

“I….I’m sorry, Alex.” He looked up at her tentatively to see if that was what she wanted to hear, but immediately rose when he saw the tears starting to form in her eyes.

“Alex, I thought I was doing what you wanted.” He put his arm around her. Several Rangers shot a look over at Walker. He felt like a real jerk. They probably all thought he had done something to make her cry. Alex was the apple of everyone’s eye in here, and he wouldn’t last long if he hurt her. She gathered up the folder silently and kissed him lightly on the cheek.

“I’m just going home, Walker. I don’t feel like myself.” Before he could respond, she had left the room. He met the eyes of a few Rangers who looked at him suspiciously. Turning, he rolled his eyes and sat down. Trivette couldn’t help but notice the move.

“Is there something wrong, Partner?” He said softly. Walker looked at his best friend. He so wanted to tell him what was going on, but it was Alex’s decision.

“No, why would you say that?” He asked, feeling very guilty. Trivette just shrugged. Whatever was going on, his partner wasn’t ready to share it with him yet.

The day ended and Walker still felt bad. Trivette was his partner and best friend. He shouldn’t be keeping secrets, especially such special ones, from him. Suddenly, a brilliant idea popped into his head. Why not ask Jimmy for dinner. Maybe if Alex could see how hurt poor Trivette was at being kept in the dark, she would give in and tell him? It was worth a shot!

A quick call to a suddenly happy Alex was made. She loved the idea of having Jimmy over for dinner. Walker was pleased for about five minutes, and then he winced when she told him what to get for supper. He looked at his partner. Boy, was he in for treat!

The two Rangers strolled into the grocery store. Two ladies were standing at the counter passing time with the store manager. They smiled broadly when they passed, and at least one wolf whistle followed them down the aisle. Ignoring the women, Walker went right to the meat counter. He looked quizzically at the arrangement of cuts.

“Well, we had steak for lunch, so how about chicken?” Trivette offered. But, Walker shook his head.

“She told me what she wants, Jimmy. You know anything about corned beef?”

“Only that it tastes awful.” Jimmy grinned. “What else?”

Walker shifted from one foot to the other. “Sauerkraut.” He said softly. Trivette let loose a huge guffaw.

“Oh, man, Walker! Is this what you guys have on a regular basis?” Walker laughed too.

“Lately, there has been no regular in our house, Trivette. Come on, we gotta get this stuff and something for dessert.”

“How about some red wine? I can at least bring that.” Jimmy said. Walker looked surprised for a moment.

“Uh….no, Alex is more into chocolate milk these days.”

Trivette gave him a look, but didn’t say anything more.

A half-hour later the two men came through the front door. Jimmy expected to be greeted by a warm fire and good smells from the kitchen. He was really surprised when the house was cold, and Alex was curled up on the couch, sound asleep. Walker put a finger to his lips and motioned for Jimmy to take the grocery bag into the kitchen. Then he slowly approached his wife, kneeling next to her.

Jimmy came back out and smiled as his partner pushed Alex’s blond curls off her face and gently kissed her. She came slowly awake and smiled at him. Once again, Walker’s hand slowly traced her abdomen, rubbing gently.

“Trivette’s here.” Walker said softly. Alex’s eyes got bigger.

“Is it six already? Oh, god, Walker, I fell asleep!” She awkwardly got up and went into the kitchen.

“I’ll get the fire going.” Walker said as he moved toward the fireplace.

“Oh, Walker!” Alex’s voice came from the kitchen. “What did you do???”

The two men quickly went into the kitchen. Alex was holding the unwrapped corned beef. She pointed it at her husband. “I said to get roast beef….” Walker’s eyes widened and he helplessly took a step back.

“Honey, I know you said corned beef….” His words were cut off abruptly when the greasy hunk of corned beef landed against his stomach. Alex stalked out of the kitchen, leaving Walker holding it.

Trivette didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or just get the hell out of there. He watched his partner’s face closely to see how he would respond. Walker’s shoulders began to shake and he burst out laughing.

“I guess we’re cooking tonight, Trivette!” He managed to get out. Jimmy grinned, pleased that Walker at least saw the humor in this weird situation. The two men looked at each other for a moment. Finally, Trivette bit his lip and tried to look very serious.

“We’ve been in worse situations than this, Partner. They don’t call us Texas Rangers for nothin’.” He reached up into a cabinet and pulled down a large pot. Walker unceremoniously dropped the corned beef into it. While Jimmy dumped salt and pepper on it, Walker opened the sauerkraut and dumped it in.

“Water?” He asked seriously.

“Yeah,” Trivette replied. “Now, I guess we just turn on the heat and let it cook!” The two men grinned and gave each other a high five. Trivette looked into the living room where Alex was perched in the rocking chair.

“You want me to go first?” He asked softly. Walker looked solemn.

“You think we should call for back-up?”

“Nah, I got your back, Partner! Unless you want to be alone….” He slapped Walker on the back and gently pushed him into the living room.

The two men slipped in and Trivette sat down on the couch. Walker sat on the coffee table in front of his wife and took her hands in his.

“Walker, I am so sorry. I did tell you corned beef. I don’t know what is the matter with me….” Alex let him take her into his arms. He stood and sat in the chair with her on his lap. She absently rubbed his beard, and he smoothed his hand over her belly. It was such a pleasant picture with the fire framing them.

Jimmy sighed. A Kodak Moment. The only thing that would make this more perfect is ……

“OH, MY GOSH!” Jimmy stood up with such force that Walker and Alex both jumped.

“That’s IT!” He pointed an accusing finger at the startled couple.

“What?” Walker said recalcitrantly. He looked like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Alex looked a little guilty too.

Jimmy held up his hand and began ticking items off on his fingers.

“Mood swings.”

“Extreme fatigue.”

“Weird food cravings.”

“Having to pee every five minutes.” Alex giggled.

“Eating for two…”

“And, YOU,” He pointed at Walker, “keep rubbing her stomach!”

“You are PREGNANT!” He smiled at them in triumph.

Alex and Walker looked at him with their mouths open. Finally, Alex found her voice.

“Jimmy, I am so sorry we didn’t tell you right away. It’s just that we wanted to make sure everything was going well….”

Jimmy knelt down in front of her, his brown eyes gleaming in delight. This woman was for all intents and purposes his sister. And the man she loved meant the world to him as well. He was so happy for them.

“Don’t apologize Alex. I understand completely.” He suddenly realized something. He was going to be an Uncle!

“Is everything going well?” The concern showed in his voice.

“Fine.” Alex touched his face and smiled at him. She lifted her head, made a face, and said, “Well, except for one thing.” Walker and Trivette immediately gave her their complete attention.

“What is it, Honey?” Walker said worriedly. She looked at her two favorite men seriously. Then she relented slightly and grinned.

“Do you think we’ll be able to get that smell out of the house before the baby is born?” She asked innocently.

Trivette and Walker each took a breath.

“The corned beef!!!” They yelled in unison. Standing, Walker placed his wife gently back into the chair and the two men made a beeline to the kitchen. Alex broke into laughter as she listened to them.

“I thought you put water on it?”

“I thought YOU put water on it???”

Sliding her hand down to rest on her ripening belly, she smiled in satisfaction. “You are gonna have the best Daddy and Uncle in the world.” She said softly.

THE END