Shared Sorrow

By Chris (ckline-usa@foreverliving.com)

 

 

The lovers walk through the park hand in hand enjoying the evening and each other.  The weather is warm for April, there’s a full moon and the stars are shining brightly in the sky.  The park is quiet except for the sounds of nature; after all, it is nearly midnight.  As they approach a fountain near the center of the park, Alex turns to face Walker, a bright smile lighting up her face. 

 

“Alex, what has you so happy tonight?  You’ve been smiling and giddy all evening.  I was a little surprised when you wanted to leave C.D.’s early.  You seemed to be having a good time.”

 

Taking both his hands in hers, “I was having a good time but I wanted some time alone with you, away from everyone.  Come on, sit with me.  I have something I want to tell you.”

 

They sit on the edge of the fountain facing each other; his hands still in hers.  “So, what’s on your mind?”

 

Leaning close to him, she softly kisses his lips.  “You.  Walker, do you remember our weekend in the mountains a couple of months ago?”

 

Smiling at her as the memories come to mind, “Of course.  How could I forget?  We didn’t leave the cabin all weekend!”

 

“Well, in about 7 months, we’ll have a permanent reminder of that weekend.  Darling, I’m pregnant.”

 

“Pregnant?!  Are you sure?”

 

“Confirmed it with Dr. Myer this morning.  Walker, I know we haven’t even set a wedding date and I know we talked about children but you probably weren’t thinking it would be…”  His lips against hers put an end to her rambling.

 

People for blocks around the park undoubtedly wondered what the racket was at such a late hour as Walker uncharacteristically shouted out his happiness.  Alex couldn’t help but laugh as his antics.  She had never seen him so excited about anything.

 

Once he calmed down, he took her in his arms and kissed her deeply, conveying all his love for her in that one kiss.  They spent the next hour walking through the park laughing and talking about when they would get married and what it would be like to be parents.

 

“When are you due?”

 

“Well, if the doctor calculated things correctly, we should have a very special Thanksgiving this year.”

 

As they reached Alex’s car, “Alex, it’s not quite 1:30.  How about if we stop back by C.D.’s and tell Trivette and C.D.  C.D.’s going to be so excited about becoming a “Grampa” and Trivette, well, you know he’ll be excited."

 

Alex is thrilled that Walker is happy about the pregnancy.  She was a little uneasy when she first found out.  She knew that they were meant to be together and they had talked about having a big family but had never talked about when.  Seeing his face and knowing that he was anxious to share their news with their friends put her mind totally at ease.

 

“Sure!  We can do that.  You think Jimmy’s still there?”

 

“I’m sure he is.  There was a pretty lady he was trying to get to know.”

 

Walker is so excited about the prospect of becoming a father that he fails to notice the truck that follows them out of the park. 

 

They arrive back at C.D.’s just before closing.  Just about everyone is gone but, as Walker predicted, Trivette is still around trying to sweet talk a lady.

 

“Cordell, Alex.  What in the world are you two doing back here?  Anything wrong?”

 

“Hey, C.D.  No, nothing’s wrong.”  Glancing at Alex and giving her a soft kiss.  His eyes remained locked on Alex, “In fact, everything is great!”

 

“So what brings you back here so late?”

 

“Well, if you think we can tear Trivette away from his new lady friend, we have something we want to tell you.”

 

“Did you finally set a wedding date?  Oh, boy!  Hang on, I’ll get Jimmy.”  C.D. hurries over to where Jimmy is sitting a booth with a lovely young lady.  He speaks to him for a few seconds and together they hurry back to where Alex and Walker are standing by the bar.  Both are grinning from ear to ear, excited to hear the news.

 

“So, partner, you finally got around to setting a date, huh?  So, when is going to be, a month, two months, six months?”

 

“Trivette, if you’ll stop talking long enough for us to get a word in, we’ll tell you.  Actually, we haven’t set a wedding date yet but that’s the next item on the list.”

 

Their smiles fade and they stand before the couple looking totally perplexed.  “So if you haven’t set a date, what did you want to tell us, Cordell?”

 

Walker nods at Alex, giving her the honor of telling them.  “Well, we just wondered how you guys would feel about being called ‘Grampa’ and ‘Uncle Jimmy’?”

 

The stunned looks on their faces are more than either Alex or Walker can stand.  Both burst out laughing.  Trivette is the first to find his voice, “Oh my God, are you serious.  You’re gonna have a baby?  Really?”

 

“Yes, really Jimmy.  C.D., are you okay?”

 

“Honey, I’m more than okay!  Come ‘ere you two.”  He pulls them both into a tight bear hug and gives each a kiss on the cheek.  When he pulls back, there are tears glistening in his eyes.  “I am so happy for you two!  So, when’s this little one gonna make an appearance?”

 

“Well, C.D., if all goes according to schedule, we’ll have a extra special Thanksgiving this year!”

 

Trivette gives both Alex and Walker a hug.  “Hey, guys, I’m really happy for you and I’d like to stay and chat but…”

 

Walker glances over at the lady still waiting for Trivette in the booth and smiles.  “Go ahead, Trivette, we’ve got plenty of time to talk about this later.  We just wanted you two to be the first to know.”

 

“Thanks, man.  I’ll talk to you later.”  Kissing Alex again on the cheek, he hurries back to his lady.

 

Alex and Walker spend a few more minutes with C.D., then decide to finally call it a night.  They walk back to their car arm in arm, totally engrossed in each other and never noticing the black 4x4 parked not far from them.  They pull out of the parking lot and make the turn onto the main street, stopping at the red light about a block from C.D.’s.  As they wait for the light to change, Walker’s one hand is on the steering wheel, the other holding Alex’s. 

 

Suddenly, both are jolted when a car hits them from behind.  Walker is just reaching to remove his seatbelt when the car behind them accelerates slowly, inching their car into the intersection.  “What the….  What does he think he’s doing?”  Looking in the rearview mirror, he sees a large black 4x4 behind them.  All the glass is tinted and he cannot see the driver.  “Alex, tighten that belt and hold on.”

 

Pointing to his left, Alex’s voice is full of panic.  “Walker, look!”

 

Turning his head, he sees another large vehicle, possibly a Hummer, bearing down on the intersection.  Walker presses the brake pedal to the floor and nearly stands on it trying to stop their forward progress.  He then slams the car into “Park” and turns off the ignition.  In spite of his efforts, the black 4x4 continues to push them toward the intersection and into the path of the Hummer.  When Walker looks at the approaching vehicle, it veers toward them and slams into Walker’s side of the car.  Alex’s screams can be heard through the night air.

 

******

 

Trivette and his new lady friend are just exiting C.D.’s when they hear the crash.  Looking toward the sound, Trivette is horrified to see that the car involved is Alex’s.  He is just about to go back and get C.D. when the older man comes out of the bar.

 

“Jimmy, what was that awful noise?”

 

“There’s been an accident, C.D.!  It’s Walker and Alex!  Call 911!  I’m going to see if they’re all right.”

 

The lady with Trivette says, “No, I’ll call 911.  It looks bad; you both better go.”

 

“Thanks, Kathy.”

 

C.D. and Trivette race down the street.  They watch in horror as the black 4x4 and the Hummer take off in opposite directions.  Trivette manages to get a partial license number on the 4x4 and C.D. gets the full license on the Hummer.  As they approach Alex’s car, the silence from inside is terrifying.  The Hummer had impacted Walker’s side of the car, pushing it across the intersection and slamming Alex’s side of the car into a utility pole.  Walker is unconscious, pinned by the door and the steering wheel.  He is bleeding badly from a gash on his head.  C.D. tends to Walker as Trivette checks on Alex.  She also is unconscious but does not appear to be bleeding.  They wait helplessly for the paramedics afraid to move either in case of back injuries.

 

******

 

After what seems an eternity, the paramedics finally arrive along with the police.  Trivette immediately takes charge of the investigation, giving the license number of the vehicles and barking orders to the officers on the scene.  The paramedics are able to extricate Alex rather quickly through the broken out window after placing her in a neck brace and on a backboard.  As they place her on the stretcher, C.D. rushes to her side.

 

“Alex.  Honey.  You just hang on, darlin’.  Everything’s gonna be okay.”  Looking up at the paramedic attending to her, “How is she?”

 

“Her blood pressure is very low, which means there may be internal injuries.  We’re going to have to transport her immediately.”

 

“Oh, lord.  Son, you take good care of this lady.  She’s pretty special.”

 

“Don’t worry.  She’ll be fine.  Is she allergic to any medications that you know of?”

 

“No, not that I’m aware of.  Oh my God!  With all the commotion, I forgot!  She’s pregnant.  Oh, lord!”

 

“Okay, we’ve gotta roll.  If there’s internal bleeding, she could be in real danger.  How far along is she?”

 

“Just a couple of months, I think.  Baby’s due in November.”

 

“Okay, thanks for the information.  We’re taking her to Methodist.”

 

C.D. stands stunned as they load the stretcher into the ambulance and take off with sirens blaring.

 

******

 

After getting the investigation underway, Trivette turns his attention back to the car and his trapped partner.  He realizes that Walker has regained consciousness when he sees the paramedics struggling to immobilize him.  He rushes to the passenger side of the car and slides in through the broken out window.

 

“Walker, Walker.  Come on, man.  Calm down.”

 

“Trivette.  Alex.  Where is she?  Is she…?”

 

“She’s okay, Walker.  She’s on her way to the hospital.  Now, come on.  You gotta calm down and let the paramedics work.”

 

Upon hearing that Alex was safe and on her way to the hospital, Walker relaxes.  Trivette stays with him as the paramedics immobilize his neck and back.  They then move out so that the firemen can extricate him from the wreckage.

 

Leaning in the window, Fireman Jacob Crossing is somewhat surprised to see Walker and Trivette.  “Walker, God I had no idea it was you in here.”

 

“Hey, Jacob.  How bad is it?”

 

“Well, you’re pinned pretty good but nothing we can’t handle.  There’s just one thing.”

 

“What’s that?”

“The paramedics can’t give you any medication until we get you outta here.  When we start lifting this metal, it’s gonna hurt like hell, man.”

 

“It’s okay.  Just get me outta here.”

 

“Jacob, you do what you have to.  I’ll stay here with him.”

 

“Okay, Jimmy.  But if you’re gonna do that, we need to get you into some gear.”

 

“Okay, let’s do it.”

 

Trivette slides out of the car, takes his jacket off and slips on the coat being held for him by another firefighter.  Within minutes he’s back at Walker’s side.

 

“Okay, partner, you ready?”

 

“Yeah, let’s do it.”

 

Trivette gives Jacob the sign and the machinery comes to life.  As they peel away the car from around Walker, the pain is excruciating.  It takes all his years of martial arts training and experience to keep himself from screaming.  He has a death grip on Trivette’s hand and is struggling to control his breathing.

 

“Hang on, Walker.  They’re almost done.”

 

When the last piece of metal is removed, Walker passes out from the pain as the paramedics rush in and remove him from the car.  He is placed on a stretcher and into a waiting ambulance.  As the ambulance pulls away, Trivette begins looking around for C.D. so that they can go to the hospital.  He sees Kathy standing on the sidewalk waiting.

 

Approaching, “Kathy.  I am so sorry.  I didn’t know you were still here.”

 

“It’s okay.  You had to take care of your friends.”

 

“Come on, I’ll take you home.”

 

“If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to come to the hospital with you.  Would that be okay.”

 

Smiling at the genuine sincerity of this beautiful woman, “Of course it’s okay.  Thanks.”  Looking around, he locates C.D. and the three of them race back to the bar to lock the door and head to the hospital.

 

******

 

They arrive at the hospital, entering through the Emergency Room and looking for anyone who can tell them the condition of their friends.  A nurse on duty tells them that Alex was taken immediately to surgery to stop internal hemorrhaging and Walker was in a treatment room down the hall.

 

They head to the waiting room to begin their vigil.  C.D. is pacing the floor and Trivette is sitting with Kathy trying to comprehend how such a great night went so wrong.

 

A doctor approaches, “Is there someone here named Trivette?”

 

“I’m Ranger James Trivette.”

 

“Ranger Walker is asking for you.  He is insisting that he needs to talk to you before we take him to X-Ray.”

 

“How is he, doc?”

 

“Lucky.  That gash on his head took nearly 35 stitches to close.  He has a concussion and I suspect several broken ribs.  There doesn’t appear to be any internal injuries but we’re running several tests to be sure.”

 

“Go ahead, Jimmy, Kathy and I’ll wait right here.”

 

“Doc.  Before I go in there, is there anyway you can find out the condition of Alex Cahill.  She was in the car with him.  She’s Walker’s fiancée and I know he’ll ask.”

 

“Sure.  Give me just a minute.”  He goes to a nearby phone and makes a call.  He listens for several minutes, replaces the receiver and returns to the waiting room.

 

“Ranger Trivette, I’ve spoken to the doctor upstairs and Ms Cahill is still in surgery.  Right now, she’s in critical condition with a ruptured spleen and other internal injuries.”

 

“Doc, she’s two months pregnant.  Is she going to lose the baby?”

 

“I don’t know but with the trauma she has sustained and the fact that it is so early in the pregnancy, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope.”

 

“Thanks, doc.  I appreciate your honesty.”

 

“I’m sorry I can’t give you better news.  Follow me and I’ll take to you to Ranger Walker.”

 

Trivette quietly opens the door.  Walker is lying on the gurney fighting to stay conscious.  He approaches his partner’s side, taking Walker’s hand in his and placing his other hand on Walker’s shoulder.  “Hey, pard.  Doc said you needed to talk to me before they take you up to X-ray.  What’s up?”

 

“Trivette…tonight…no accident…set up.”

 

“I know, man.  Don’t worry, we’re all over it.  C.D. got the plate on the Hummer and I got a partial on the 4x4.  We’ll have ‘em in custody before you know it.  You just take it easy.”

 

A wave of pain sweeps over his body.  Every muscle tightens and he squeezes Trivette’s hand.  “Easy partner, breathe.  Come on.  That’s it.  Look, I’m gonna get outta here and let them get you fixed up, okay?”

 

Walker grips Trivette’s hand tighter and pulls him closer.  “Trivette.  How’s Alex.  Is she okay?”

 

“She is surgery.  She was bleeding internally.  They took her straight to surgery.  She’s critical but they think she’ll make it.”

 

With tears forming in his eyes, “What about the baby?”

 

Lowering his head, unable to meet his friend’s eyes, “It doesn’t look good.  Walker, I’m sorry.”  When he looks back at Walker, his eyes are closed and a single tear slides down each cheek.

 

A nurse’s voice from behind Trivette breaks the tension.  “Ranger Trivette, we need to get him up to X-ray now.”

 

Squeezing Walker’s hand once more, “You take it easy and don’t give them any trouble.  We’ll be here when you get back.”  With that, he pats Walker’s shoulder and retreats out the door.

 

******

 

Several hours later, two doctors finally come to update them on Alex and Walker’s conditions.

 

“Gentleman, ma’am.  I’m afraid Miss Cahill suffered serious injuries, including a ruptured spleen and other internal bleeding.  She’s lost a lot of blood.  She’s in critical condition but stable.  Unfortunately, we had to terminate her pregnancy due to loss of blood flow to the fetus.”

 

The second doctor then takes over.  “Ranger Walker has been moved to a room.  He has a serious concussion and several broken ribs.  We’ve given him a sedative and something for the pain.  We’ll keep him here a few days just to be sure there’s no complications.  If you’d like to see him, he’s in Room 414.”

 

“Doc.  If’n it’s all right with you, I’d like to be with Alex when she wakes up.  Jimmy here’ll stay with Walker.”

 

“Sure, Mr. Parker.  Just follow me.”

 

Turning to Kathy, “Kathy, I’m afraid I’m gonna be here for quite awhile.  Why don’t you let me call you a taxi to take you home.”

 

“You go and be with Walker.  I’ll call myself a taxi.  Jimmy, would it be all right if I came back later to see how things are going?”

 

Smiling “I’d appreciate that.”

 

She gives him a soft kiss, turns and leaves.

 

******

 

Walker forces his eyes to open.  They feel like lead.  Looking around the room, the memories of what happened immediately come to mind.  He tries to sit up but is gently pushed back.  “Hey, pard.  Welcome back.  You just lie back and relax now, okay.”

 

“Trivette, I need to see Alex.”

 

“Walker, Alex is okay.  She’s had a pretty rough go of it but C.D.’s with her.  She’s gonna be fine.”

 

“What about the baby?”

 

Shaking his head slowly back and forth “I’m so sorry Walker.  There was nothing they could do.  Alex lost a lot of blood and the fetus was deprived of blood and oxygen for too long.”

 

“Damn.  Does she know?”

 

“I don’t think so.  She’s still unconscious.”

 

“Trivette, I should be the one to tell her.  This is my fault.”

 

“Walker, this is NOT your fault.  We have several witnesses who said that the 4x4 pushed you into the intersection and the Hummer deliberately rammed you.”

 

“I know.  I laid on the brakes and even shut the engine off trying to stop our forward progress.  Maybe I should’ve floored it and gotten us the hell outta there.  If I had, maybe everything would be okay.”

 

“Walker, don’t do this to yourself.  You did what you thought was best.  The only ones to blame here are the scumbags in those two vehicles.  I’ve got the Rangers and half of DPD looking for those vehicles.  We’ll get them, I promise you that.”

 

“Thanks, Trivette.”

 

“You gonna be okay for a few minutes?  I’ll go check on Alex and come right back.”

 

“Yeah, I’m okay.  Thanks.”

 

C.D. is sitting by Alex’s bedside in ICU when Trivette enters.  “Hey, Big Dog.  How is she?”

 

“She’s in a coma, Jimmy.  They said it’s probably a combination of the trauma, the blood loss and her other injuries.  I asked them how long before she wakes up but they’re just not sure.  How’s Cordell?”

 

“In a lot of pain, both physically and emotionally.  He asked about the baby.  I had to tell him.  He wants to be the one to tell Alex.”

 

“I think that’s best, Jimmy.”

 

******

 

C.D. spends most of the next three days at the hospital with Alex and Walker while Trivette searches for the men responsible for the accident. 

 

Walker is at Alex’s side from the moment he is given permission to leave his hospital bed until he is forced to return to it, either by C.D. or his doctor.  Alex briefly regains consciousness on Saturday evening, just over 24 hours after the accident, but this only lasts a few minutes and she is not coherent.  She then fades in and out over the next couple of days.

 

On Tuesday morning, Walker is finally released from the hospital.  He goes to the ranch to check on the animals, stops in at headquarters to see how the investigation is going and then heads straight back to the hospital to be with Alex.

 

Late Tuesday evening, as Walker sits by her bedside holding her hand, he feels a light squeeze.  Standing and squeezing her hand, “Alex.  Come on, hon, you’ve been asleep too long.  It’s time to wake up, Alex.”

 

Her eyes flutter, then open, struggling to focus.  As her surroundings become clear, she sees Walker standing over her, smiling.

 

“Hi, beautiful.  It’s about time you woke up.”

 

Reaching to the side, he retrieves a glass of water from the nightstand and helps her to take a drink.

 

“Do you remember what happened?”

 

She nods.  “How…long…here?”

 

“About four days.  It’s Tuesday, late.  Are you in any pain?”

 

“No.  Am I alright?”

 

“You’re gonna be just fine.  You just need to rest and let your body heal.”

 

“Walker, what about the baby?  Is everything okay?”

 

His heart stops.  He was hoping that she wouldn’t ask so soon.  He looks down, unable to meet her gaze.

 

“Walker, look at me, please.”

 

Looking back at her, she sees the tears in his eyes.  “I lost the baby, didn’t I?”

 

He nods,  “Alex, I am so sorry.”

 

The devastated look on her face nearly breaks his heart.  He sits down on the bed and gently gathers her in his arms as she sobs.  Just then, C.D. opens the door but when he sees the two of them holding each other, tears flowing freely, he quietly leaves not wanting to intrude on their grief.

 

As her tears slow, she looks up into his eyes.  “Who could do this?  Why us?  Everything was perfect, Walker.  I don’t understand why these things keep happening to us.”

 

“Shh…I know Alex.  I know.  Trivette’s been working on it.  Don’t worry, I promise you, we’ll find the scum responsible for this and make them pay.”

 

Walker stays with Alex all night, holding her and trying to ease the pain they are both feeling.  When C.D. returns the next morning, he finds Walker asleep in the chair, his hand closed tightly around Alex’s.

 

******

 

Over the next several days, Alex recovers physically but she completely withdraws emotionally.  She barely talks to anyone and Walker isn’t doing much better.  He spends his days with Trivette relentlessly pursuing those responsible for the accident and then spends the night at Alex’s side desperately trying to help her cope with the tragedy.  C.D. and Trivette begin to worry about them both.

 

Walker arrives at the hospital on Friday evening feeling better than he had since the accident.  They had finally gotten a break that afternoon when one of their snitches called.  Based on the information given to them, they were able to track down the vehicles and people involved.

 

He was on his way to tell Alex the good news when her doctor catches him just before he enters her room, “Ranger Walker, do you have a minute?  I’d like to talk to you.”

 

“Sure, doc.  What’s up?”

 

“Well, we’ve decided to release Alex tomorrow.  Physically, she is doing very well, however, I am concerned for her emotional state.  I don’t think she should be left alone right now.”

 

“I know, doc, so am I.   Don’t worry, I’ll take her home to my ranch.  We’ve closed the case so I was planning to take some time off to be with her.”

 

“I’d also like to suggest some counseling.  I think it would be helpful not only for Alex but for you as well.”

 

“I’ll talk to Alex about it.  Thanks, doc.  Have you told her you’re going to release her tomorrow?”

 

“Yes, she knows.”

 

Entering Alex’s room, he finds her lying in bed, her back toward him.  He approaches her, leaning down to give her a soft kiss on the cheek.  He feels her tense up when he touches her arm.  “Hi, sweetheart.  How are you feeling?”

 

Her back still to him, “Fine.”

 

“We got ‘em, Alex, we got the men responsible for the accident.”

 

“Who were they?”

 

“Do you remember Juan Rodriguez?  He was a two-bit punk who graduated to gunrunning and drug dealing about 6 years ago.  Trivette and I nailed him with the goods about a year and a half ago and you prosecuted him.  He was sentenced to 5 years in Huntsville.”

 

“So how did he get out?”

 

“Seems our fine judicial system saw fit to parole him for good behavior.  He got out three days before he hit us.”

 

Turning to look at him, the anger very apparent in her eyes, “How can this happen?  What good does it do to put these people in jail if they don’t stay there?  And why didn’t anyone tell us he was getting paroled?  If I remember correctly, he threatened to kill us both the day he was sentenced.”

 

“You remember right and we should have been notified but it slipped through the cracks.”

 

“Slipped through the cracks!  How many times have we heard that?  How many times have we had people we put in jail get out on some technicality or parole only to come back and harass and torment us until we put them behind bars again.  It’s a merry-go-round, Walker and I want off!”

 

Seeing how upset she is getting, he tries to change the subject.  “Hey, come on, don’t think about this now.”

 

“It’s all I’ve been able to think about for days.  That and the fact that this time it cost the life of our unborn child.”

 

"Look, we can talk about this later.  Doctor Standford tells me they’re going to release you tomorrow.  That’s great.”

 

She becomes very quiet and subdued.  “I suppose.”

 

“I was thinking, why don’t you come out to the ranch for awhile until you get your strength back.  Now that the case is wrapped up, I thought I’d take a few days off and we can spend them together.”

 

“Walker, I’m leaving.”

 

“What do you mean, leaving?”

 

“I mean I’m leaving Dallas.  I need some time by myself…to think.”

 

“Alex, I don’t understand.  Where are you going?”

 

“I called my dad last night.  I’m going to New York for awhile.”

 

“When are you coming back?”

 

Lowering her eyes “I don’t know.”

 

“Alex, look at me, please.”

 

When she does, he sees the unshed tears in her eyes.  “You are coming back, aren’t you?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

He feels as if someone has punched him in the stomach.  His head is spinning; he can’t catch his breath.  He slowly lowers himself into a nearby chair, trying to comprehend what she is saying.  “When?”

 

“Tomorrow.  My flight is at 3:00.”

 

“Will you at least let me take you to the airport?”

 

“Walker…I don’t think that’s a good idea.  This is going to be hard enough as it is.”

 

“Then don’t go.”

 

“I have to.”

 

“Why?”

 

Sitting up on the bed and turning to face him, the tears begin running down her face.  “Walker, I’m sorry.  I know I’m hurting you but I just can’t take it anymore.  I need to get away from here.  Nothing makes sense anymore.  I always believed that we were doing some good in the world by catching and prosecuting these criminals.  I’m not sure I believe that now.  What do we have to show for all our hard work and effort?  Nothing!  Nothing, but heartache and pain.  As fast as we put them away, there’s another one to take their place.  If that doesn’t happen, then our judicial system releases them for “good behavior” or some other ridiculous reason and when they do, they always seem find their way back to us looking for revenge.  I’m just not sure it’s worth it anymore.”

 

“What about us, Alex.  Aren’t we worth it anymore?”

 

“Walker, I love you.  I will always love you but right now I need to be by myself.  You of all people should be able to understand that.”

 

“Alex, I understand your need to have some time alone.  What I don’t understand is why you have to leave Dallas?”

 

“Because right now everything and everyone reminds me of what happened last week and it just hurts too much.”

 

“Even me?”

 

“I’m sorry, Walker.”

 

Standing, he takes her hands in his and looks deep into her eyes.  “I’m sorry too, Alex.  I always thought that together we could face anything.  Was I wrong?  I wish there was something I could say or do to make the pain your feeling go away, but only time will do that.  Just know that I love you with all my heart and will never stop loving you.  I’ll always be here for you.”  Leaning forward, he kisses her softly on the lips, “Goodbye, Alex.” and walks out the door.

 

As she watches him leave, she places her hands over her face and breaks down.

 

******

 

Trivette enters the office just after 8:00 a.m. Monday morning.  He no sooner walks through the door than the secretary tells him that the Captain wants to see him.  He changes direction mid-stride and heads to the Captain’s office.

 

Knocking on the door and opening it at the same time, he pokes his head in the office.  “Mornin’ Cap.  You wanted to see me?”

 

“Morning, Trivette.  Yes, I did.  Come in and sit down and close the door.”

 

Noting the serious tone in his Captain’s voice, he does as instructed.  “What’s up?”

 

“Have you seen Walker this morning?”

 

“No, I just walked in a few minutes ago.  Why?”

 

Reaching into his drawer, he places a Ranger star and Walker’s gun on his desk.  “Because he came in here about ½ hour ago and quit and I was hoping you could tell me what the hell’s going on!  I know about the accident last week but there’s obviously something else going on that I don’t know about.  Care to enlighten me as to why one of my best officers just turned in his badge and gun?”

 

Trivette sits staring at the Captain, mouth hanging open, trying to believe what he has just heard.  Walker quit.  No way!  How could he do this without even telling me?

 

“Trivette.   Trivette!”

 

“What?…Oh, sorry Captain.”

 

“From the look on your face, I take it that you knew nothing about this?”

 

Shakes his head from side to side.

 

“Trivette, you know him better than anyone.  What could possibly have happened to cause him to do this?”

 

“Look, Captain.  I promised Walker that I wouldn’t say anything to anyone about this but given what’s just happened, I think you have a right to know.  You know Alex Cahill was in the car with Walker that night.  Well, she was 2 months pregnant.  She’d just found out that day and had told Walker he was going to be a father.  As a result of the accident, she lost the baby.  It’s really torn them up.  Alex was supposed to be released from the hospital on Saturday and I figured that a weekend alone together would help them start the healing process.  I can’t imagine what happened to cause Walker to give up everything.”

 

Shaking his head from side to side, “Well, that certainly explains a few things.  He looked like hell when he came in here.  Looked like he hadn’t slept in days.”

 

“Look, Captain, you can’t…”

 

“Trivette.  Don’t worry, I’m not accepting his resignation, certainly not given his mental and physical state.  As far as I’m concerned, he’s on medical leave until such time as he comes back in here with his head square on his shoulders and tells me that giving up the Rangers is truly what he wants to do.  Right now, I suggest that you go and find your partner and see if you can find out what happened in the last couple of days to cause all this.”

 

“Thanks, Captain.”

 

“You tell Walker his badge and gun are waiting for him whenever he’s ready.”

 

“I’ll do that.”

 

He leaves the Captain’s office and heads straight for the phone on his desk.  He dials Walker’s ranch and Alex’s apartment but gets no answer.  He hangs up and dials C.D.

 

“C.D.’s.”

 

“C.D., its Jimmy.  Have you seen Walker?”

 

“No, Jimmy.  Isn’t he with you?”

 

“No, Big Dog, something’s wrong and I mean really wrong.  Walker came in this morning before I got here and quit!  Turned in his badge and gun and walked out!”

 

“Jimmy, that’s absurd.  Cordell would never do a thing like that without talkin’ to one of us first.”

 

“That’s what I thought but you know how things have been since the accident.  Alex was released from the hospital on Saturday.  Do you think something happened between them?”

 

“I don’t know, Jimmy.  Alex has been pretty depressed but I can’t imagine that she’d turn away from Cordell.”

 

“C.D., the Captain said he looked like he hadn’t slept in days.  I’m really worried about him.  I tried the ranch and Alex’s apartment but there’s no answer at either place.  I’m goin’ out lookin’ for him.”

 

“All right.  You check the regular spots.  I know a few places that Cordell goes when he’s really feelin’ bad.  I’ll check those and then meet you at his ranch.  We’ll get to the bottom of this.”

 

******

 

When C.D. and Trivette finally arrive at Walker’s ranch, it’s nearly noon.  The Ram is parked out front but no one answers when they knock on the door.  C.D. tries the door only to find it locked.  He pulls out the key Walker had given him years before and he and Trivette enter.  They check the house but there is no sign of Walker anywhere.  Heading to the barn, they find that Amigo, Walker’s favorite horse, is not in his stall.

 

“Well, Jimmy, looks like Cordell took Amigo out for a ride.”

 

“Yeah.  Reckon we should go after him?”

 

“Jimmy, this ranch is huge and Walker knows it like the back of his hand.  We’d never find him out there.  Besides, we don’t know if he’s just out for a ride or if he went to the Badlands for a few days.  You know how he likes to do that when he needs time to himself.”

 

“So what do we do?”

 

“Well, I’d say we both go back to work and we’ll come out again tonight and see if he’s around.”

 

“Okay.  I’ll come by after work tonight, we’ll grab a bite to eat and then come back here.”

 

******

 

As they drive up toward Walker’s house that evening, they see the porch light on and a lone figure sitting in the porch swing.  Both breathe a sigh of relief that he is safe.  They park the car and head toward the porch.

 

“What are you two doing here?”

 

“We came to find out what the hell is going on with you.  I get to the office this morning and the Captain tells me that you quit, C.D. and I spend half the day looking for you and the other half worrying about you.”

 

“Well, you can see I’m fine so you can be on your way.”

 

“Not so fast there, Cordell.  I’m not leavin’ here until you tell me what’s going on.  Where’s Alex?  I thought she was released from the hospital on Saturday and you two were going to spend some time together.”

 

He lowers his head and his voice is barely audible, “Alex is gone.”

 

“Gone?!  Walker, what are you talking about?”

 

“She left.  She went to New York to see her Dad for awhile.”

 

“When’s she coming back.”

 

“I don’t know if she is coming back.”

 

“Cordell, are you serious?”

 

“Yeah, C.D., unfortunately I am.”

 

C.D. sits down on the swing next to Walker and Trivette perches himself on the porch railing.  “Come on, pard.  Tell us what happened.”

 

After several minutes of silence, Walker finally tells them what transpired between he and Alex on Friday night.

 

“Cordell, I’m sorry.  But I think you’re givin’ up awful quick.  Maybe Alex just needs a few days away to get her head straight and then she’ll be back.  This has been a pretty rough week for both of you.”

 

“I don’t know, C.D.  You didn’t see the hurt in her eyes.  I’ve never seen her like that before.”

 

“Walker, I think C.D.’s right.  Alex just needs some time.  She’ll be back.  She loves you and I don’t think there’s anything that’s gonna change that.  What I don’t understand is what made you turn in your badge and gun this morning?”

 

“I spent the whole weekend thinking about what Alex said and the more I thought about it, the more I decided she was right.  I’ve spent my whole career trying to change the world and make it a better place and what has it gotten me?  Ellen was killed because of it, my relationships with several other women ended because they felt they couldn’t compete with my job.  Then came Alex and I tried so hard not to let her in but she was persistent, she never gave up.  I finally admitted to myself and everyone else how I felt about her and now I may lose her, too.  A week ago, I was the happiest man in the world.  I had a woman I loved more than anything in the world and when she told me I was going to be a father, I thought I was going to burst.  And in an instant, it was all taken away because of the line of work I’m in.  Alex is right, it’s just not worth it anymore.”

 

“Walker, look, I can’t even imagine what you’re going through right now.  I know how happy I was when you two said you were gonna have a baby.  I can only imagine what you must have felt like and I can only imagine how much it hurts to have that dream shattered.  I know that a lot of bad things have happened to you over the years due to your career and I’m sure that it takes a toll but have you bothered to think about the good that you have done in Dallas?”

 

“Jimmy’s right, Cordell.  Think about the Kick Drugs program.  How many kids have you saved from the streets by teaching them karate and self-discipline?  What about Camp Justice?  There’s dozens of young men out there that have you to thank for not ending up in prison.  You showed them how to turn their lives around.”

 

“Walker, I bet for everything bad that’s happened, I could produce a person that’s either still alive because of you, not in prison because of you, or not in a gang because of you.”

 

“None of that matters, though, without Alex.  She was my life.  She was everything to me.  I thought that together we could overcome anything but I guess I was wrong.”

 

“You weren’t wrong, Cordell.  I’m sure of it.  You just wait.  I’ll bet you any amount of money that Alex is back here within a week.  She just needs some time to deal with the grief and so do you.  Look, how about if Jimmy and I keep an eye on this place for a few days and you head on out to the Badlands?”

 

“Maybe you’re right, C.D.  Maybe a few days away would help me see things more clearly.  I’m not sure what good it’ll do, though, I already quit.”

 

“No you didn’t, partner.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I mean I talked to the Captain today and when I told him the whole story, he said that as far as he was concerned, you were on medical leave for as long as you needed it.  Your gun and badge are locked in his desk until you’re ready to get them back or until you come into his office with your head on straight and tell him that you really don’t want to be a Ranger anymore.”

 

“Thanks, Trivette.”

 

“Hey, don’t thank me.  I did this for my own selfish reasons.  I don’t want to have to break in a new partner.  It’s taken me 7 years to get you trained!”

 

The last comment brings the laughter he was hoping for and that he knew his friend desperately needed.  It’s agreed that Walker will take off first thing in the morning and C.D. and Trivette will watch over the ranch until he’s ready to come back.

 

******

 

One week later:

 

Alex is sitting in the window seat in her room at her father’s apartment looking out over the city when she hears a soft knock on the door.

 

“Come in.”

 

The door opens and Gordon Cahill comes in the room.  “Hi, Daddy.”

 

“Hi, Pumpkin.  How’re you doing?”

 

“I’m okay.”

 

Coming to sit beside her on the window seat, he looks into her eyes and sees the same sadness he’s seen for the past week.  “No honey, you’re not.  You’ve been moping around here for a week.  I think it’s time that you and I had a talk.”

 

“Daddy, there’s nothing to talk about.”

 

“I think there is.  I don’t know if your mother ever told you, but she and I lost a baby once before you were born.  Granted, not in the same way.”

 

“No, she never told me.”

 

“Well, it was just after we were married.  We were so in love and so looking forward to the birth of our first child.  I was on cloud nine for days after she told me she was pregnant.  Then our whole world fell apart when she had the miscarriage.  We were both devastated and it took a long time to get over it but we did it…together.  Alex, honey, I know that sometimes Walker is a man of few words but believe me when I tell you that he is hurting just as much as you are over this.  If I know Walker, he’s blaming himself for the entire accident, beating himself up over what he could have done differently that would have prevented what happened.  He needs you and you need him.  Sitting here staring out the window everyday isn’t doing either of you any good.  As much as I love having you here, you need to go back home, back to the man that loves you very much.  Together you can get through this.  Take it from someone who knows.”

 

Alex sat staring at her father for several minutes after he finished talking.  She knew he was right.  When she made the decision to come here, she thought she was doing the right thing.  But as the days passed, all she could think about was Walker.  Her pain had been so great that she hadn’t allowed herself to see that he was hurting just as much as she was.  All she wanted to do was run away and hide.  The only problem was that running away hadn’t helped, it had only made the hurt worse.  Her father’s words echoed in her head, “Together you can get through this.”  Walker had said the same thing that night before she left but she didn’t want to listen.  How could she have been so foolish?  Was it too late to make things right?

 

Leaning forward and wrapping her arms around her father’s neck, she hugs him tightly as the tears begin to flow.  He sits with her, rocking her, until her tears subside.  Pulling back, she looks into his eyes, “Thank you, Daddy.  You’ve been so great this week.  How can I ever thank you for taking such good care of me?”

 

“I’m only doing what I should have done years ago, be a father.  I know I’ve said it before but it bears repeating.  I love you with all my heart and I am so sorry that I wasn’t there for you when you were growing up.”

 

“That doesn’t matter anymore, Daddy.  The important thing is that you’re here for me now and you’ll never know what that means to me.”

 

He pulls her back into a warm hug, her head resting against his shoulder, “Now, don’t take this the wrong way, Pumpkin, but when are you going home?”

 

She giggles slightly, “Is today soon enough?”

 

“How about tomorrow.  We’ll spend the day together.”

 

“Okay, tomorrow it is.  I love you, Daddy.”

 

“I love you too, Pumpkin.”

 

******

 

Trivette is alone in the Ranger Headquarters office working on his computer when the door opens.  He doesn’t pay much attention to it, figuring it’s just one of the other Rangers returning from lunch.

 

“Hi, Jimmy.”

 

His head snaps up when he hears her voice.  “Alex!”

 

He quickly comes around the desk and gives her a warm hug.  Then, holding her at arm’s length, his hands on her shoulders, he looks her over closely, as if making sure it’s really her.  “Welcome back, Al.  How are you?”

 

She manages a small smile.  “Physically fine.  Emotionally, well, let’s just say I’m making progress.”  Nodding her head toward Walker’s desk, she asks, “Where’s Walker?”

 

“He…ah…he took some time off.”

 

She lowers her head, “Because of me no doubt.”

 

Not wanting to have this conversation in the office, “Hey, have you eaten anything?”

 

“No.”

 

“Come on.  Let’s go over to C.D.’s.  He’ll be so happy to see you.  We can talk there.  How did you get here?”

 

“I rented a car at the airport; it’s in the lot.  I’ll drive the rental until I can look for a new car.”

 

“I can drive to C.D.’s then bring you back here later to get your car, okay.”

 

“Sure.”

 

******

 

When they arrive at C.D.’s, the place is fairly quiet.  The lunch crowd has gone and the dinner crowd is hours away.  As they come in the door, Trivette yells “Hey C.D., look who I found at the office.”

 

C.D. turns expecting to see Walker but is thrilled to see Alex.  He rushes to her and gives her a huge hug “Alex, honey, welcome home!  We sure missed you around here.”

 

“C.D…you’re crushing me.”

 

“Oh…Oh, I’m sorry, darlin’.  I’m just so happy you’re back home where you belong.  Are you doin’ okay?”

 

“Thanks, C.D.  I missed you too.  Like I told Jimmy, physically I’m fine, emotionally I’m working on it.”

 

“Hey, Big Dog, how about a couple of salads and some iced tea.  That okay with you, Alex?”

 

“Perfect.”

 

“You got it.  Go find yourselves a seat and I’ll join you shortly.”

 

They find a quiet table in the back of the restaurant and sit.  Trivette can see Alex is nervous.  “Jimmy, how is he, really?”

 

“Truthfully, Alex, I’m not sure.  It’s been a pretty tough week.”  He proceeds to tell her about Walker’s attempted resignation from the Rangers, about his and C.D.’s search for him and how they finally found him at the ranch Monday evening.  He also tells her about their conversation with him that evening and how they had convinced him to go to the Badlands for a few days to clear his head.  “He got back to the ranch on Friday.”

 

“Have you seen him since?”

 

“Yeah.  He stopped in here Saturday night for dinner but didn’t say a whole lot.  He looked a little better but it was obvious he was still hurtin’ pretty bad.”

 

“Oh, Jimmy, I’ve been such a fool.  How could I do this to him?  Quitting the Rangers!?  Thank God, Captain Price didn’t take him seriously.”

 

“Hey, Alex, don’t be so hard on yourself.   You were having a pretty rough time too.”

 

“I know, Jimmy but I was also being very selfish.  I knew he was hurting too, but, I just didn’t want to admit it or deal with it.  I was so wrapped up in self-pity, I couldn’t see what I was doing to him.  You know, the night I told him I was pregnant, I thought he was going to shout it to the entire world.  He was so happy, Jimmy.  I’d never seen him like that.  And he was so anxious to come back here and tell you and C.D.  Then when I told him I was leaving, he nearly lost it.  He tried to reason with me, telling me that we could work it out together, but I didn’t want to listen.  I just wanted to get as far away from everything as possible.”

 

“So what made you come back?”

 

She laughs and shakes her head slightly, “Would you believe some fatherly advice.  After seeing me mope around his apartment for a week, barely talking, just sitting staring out the window, my father sat me down yesterday and gently told me that it was time to go home.  He made me understand that as long as I was away from Walker, I was never going to get over this.  Walker was right; we need to get through this together.  I just hope it’s not too late.”

 

C.D. approaches with the lunch just as she finishes, “Believe me, honey, it’s not too late.  Cordell is gonna be so happy when he sees you.  I know Cordell doesn’t say a whole lot sometimes, but I got the impression on Saturday that he needs to get this off his chest.  I just don’t think Jimmy and I were the ones he wanted to talk to.  I know you two have some healin’ to do but I agree with your Daddy, you’ve gotta do it together.”

 

“Well, guess there’s no sense in putting it off any longer.  I’ll head out to the ranch this afternoon.  I just hope he’ll want to see me.”

 

“Believe me, Alex, you’re the one person Walker will want to see.”

 

******

 

As she drives up the dirt road to the ranch house, she tries to keep her emotions in check and rehearse what she’s going to say when she sees him.  She parks her car next to the Ram, walks up on the porch and knocks on the door.  When there is no answer, she walks around to the back of the house but doesn’t see him anywhere.  As she approaches the barn, she hears him inside.  She stops just inside the door and watches as he works.  His shirt has been cast aside on a nearby hay bale and his skin is glistening with sweat.  She leans against the door and just watches as the muscles in his back strain under the weight of the bales.

 

Sensing a presence behind him, Walker stops, places the bale of hay on the ground and slowly turns around.  When he sees her leaning against the door, he can hardly believe his eyes.  He takes a step toward her then stops fully expecting the vision to disappear.  When she doesn’t move, he takes another step toward her.

 

Pushing off the edge of the door, she walks toward him, stopping just a few feet in front of him.  “Hi, Cowboy.”

 

“Hi.”

 

He tentatively reaches out his hand then, realizing he still has his work gloves on, stops and brings his hand back to remove the glove.  He takes his gloves off and reaches over for his shirt.  He uses the shirt to wipe the sweat from his face and hands then slips it on, never taking his eyes off her.

 

She takes another step forward and places her hands around his neck.  He instinctively wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her into an embrace.  As the tears flow down her face, she whispers against his ear “I’m sorry, Walker.  I’m so sorry.  I never meant to hurt you.”

 

He tightens his hold on her as tears come to his eyes as well, “I know.  I’m sorry, too, Alex.  Shh…it’s okay now.  Everything’s gonna be okay.”

 

******

 

Later that week - Saturday

 

Walker and Alex are snuggled together on the porch swing, enjoying a beautiful sunset and reflecting back on the last few days.

 

Alex’s return was the first step on the long road to recovery for both of them.  They had spent the last several days talking about everything that had happened, grieving for the loss of their child and strengthening their relationship.  They’d had some rough moments but had faced them together and were stronger both as individuals and as a couple.  C.D. and Trivette had each checked in with them by phone once, just to make sure they were okay but other than that everyone left them alone to grieve privately and begin the healing process.

 

Each had done a lot of soul searching and both had realized that regardless of the dangers each faced in their jobs, neither could just sit back and do nothing.  Each felt a responsibility both to themselves and to the community to continue their fight to make Dallas a safe place to live and raise a family.  On Friday, each had called their respective bosses and told them that they would be back at work first thing Monday morning.

 

“So what do you want to do tonight, Alex?  Do you feel like going out?”

 

“I was thinking about it.  We have been pretty antisocial lately.  Why don’t we stop in at C.D.’s for a little while?”

 

“Sounds good.”

 

******

 

As they enter the bar arm in arm, Walker feels Alex tense slightly.  “You, okay?”

 

“Yeah.  Just a little nervous I guess.  I’m sure word has gotten out about everything that happened.  I’m not sure I’m ready to answer a bunch of questions.”

 

“Alex, these are our friends.  They understand.  Everything’s gonna be fine.”

 

“You’re right.”

 

C.D. rushes toward them as soon as he sees them.   “Cordell, Alex!  It’s great to see you!  He gives them both a hug and quietly asks “You two doin’ okay?”

 

They return his hug, “Yeah, C.D., we’re doin’ much better.  Thanks.”

 

“Well, come on over here.  I have somethin’ I wanna show ya.”

 

They walk over to the bar as C.D. goes around to the other side.  “Take a look over there, will ya and tell me what you see?”

 

Both Alex and Walker look in the direction C.D. indicates and smiles light up their faces.  “Well, I’ll be.  Isn’t that the girl Trivette met the night of the…”

 

Alex looks up at him, “It’s okay, you can say it.  We can’t pretend it never happened.”

 

Walker looks back at her, “I know.”

 

C.D. tries to keep the mood light.  “Her name’s Kathy.  She’s a real sweetheart and I think Jimmy’s taking quite a shine to her.  They’ve been in here nearly every night for the past couple of weeks.”

 

“Come on, darling.  Let’s go say hello.”

 

As they approach the booth, Trivette looks up and smile lights up his face.  “Hey, you two!”  He gives Alex a kiss and a hug then shakes Walker’s hand and even pulls him into an embrace.  “Kathy, this is my partner, Cordell Walker and his beautiful fiancée, Assistant District Attorney, Alex Cahill.  Guys this is Kathy Murray.”

 

They exchange pleasantries after which Kathy invites Alex and Walker to join them.  The four spend the next several hours dancing and enjoying the company of good friends.  Trivette catches Walker’s eye, winks, then excuses himself and heads to the jukebox.  When he returns, a soft country ballad begins to play.  He and Walker invite the ladies to join them on the dance floor.

 

As they sway together, Alex looks up at Walker, “Kathy seems very nice.”

 

“Yeah, she does.  I’m happy for them.”  He pulls her tight against his chest, loving the feel of her against him.  She nuzzles her head into his shoulder.  “I love you so much, Alex.”

 

“And I love you, my darling.”

 

As they continue to move to the beat of the music, they each begin to feel a desire rise within them, one that had been missing since the accident.

 

“Walker?”

 

“Hmmm.”

 

She pulls back and captures his lips with hers in a passion-filled kiss.

 

Looking into his eyes, seeing desire burning brightly, she murmurs softly,  “Darling, let’s go home.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Mmmm…Mmmm.”

 

He smiles down at her then gently leads her toward the door.

 

THE END