This is a sequel to Aftershock. Enjoy.....

Step By Step
By Vonnie (sissy@svs.net)

She looks across the room to see him watching her. She smiles at him, then returns to eating her dinner. True to his word, he isn't pushing things, but he's stiff, almost shy, uncomfortable, like he's not sure what to say, how to act. Well, it's time to move things along.

When the waitress takes her plate and cleans the table off, she stands and walks over to sit at the bar. Just around the corner from where he's sitting. She wants to reach out and touch him but that would be moving to fast. She likes what she sees in his eyes, tenderness and maybe a hint of desire. Her insides begin to tingle; knowing this 'healing' isn't going to take as long as she had thought it would.

"Hi." She murmurs softly.

"Hi." He looks into her eyes, wanting more than anything to reach out and touch her. This starting over is taking its toll on him. But to get her back he will tolerate anything.

"I heard about that hair-raising car chase of yours. Must have had you adrenaline really flowing?"

"Yes, it was a wild ride. Especially when we were going through that warehouse."

She asks more questions and he gets lost in describing the pursuit. He begins to loosen up, relaxing, which is exactly what she wanted. To get him relaxed with her again, not stiff and uncomfortable. When Jimmy arrives and sits down between them, the old camaraderie is almost like it was before. If any of their friends have noticed the change in demeanor between them, they were kind enough not to mention it.

When Alex stands and says she should be heading home, Walker automatically stands and says, "I'll walk you out." Then realizing his slip, he hesitates, watching her.

"That would be nice." She says and he quickly falls in beside her and with his hand gently on her lower back escorts her from the bar.

At her car he takes her key and unlocks the door, turns to her and as she takes the key from him, his fingers slip around hers, holding them gently. He takes a step closer, his eyes asking the silent question.

Seeing the look in his eyes, the desire to melt into him is overwhelming, but with great effort, she smiles softly at him and whispers, "No yet … … but soon." Reluctantly, he steps back and releases her hand but not before giving it a slight squeeze. She quivers at the light caress then quickly opens the door and slides into the seat. He shuts the door and as she starts the engine, she glances longingly at him then puts the car in gear, leaving him watching after her.

* * * *

Over the next several days, whenever the chance arises, Alex draws Walker into a lengthy conversation getting him over his awkwardness when he's around her. Day by day, he's turning into the guy he was before 'that woman' came into the picture. But these talks are taking a toll on her, because every time she walks away from him, her body is humming from wanting him. More so than before this 'woman' had put the evil eye on him.

When he seems to be totally at ease around her, she decides that it's time to go to the next step. Light touching and maybe a goodbye kiss when it's relevant to the situation, and hopefully she can keep it casual.

She knows he's ready to take the relationship deeper, by the desire in his eyes and his reluctance to leave her but she doesn't want him to ever take her for granted again. Her heart still smarts at the thought of him in another woman's arms, and she wants to be sure that 'other woman' is completely out of his mind."

The first chance to put the next step into effect is when Walker and Jimmy come to her office to pick up a search warrant for a cop killer that has been seen in the warehouse district. She hands Walker the warrant and when they turn to leave Alex lays her hand on his arm, stopping him. When he turns back, she says, "Be careful."

He feels a tremor shoot up his arm at her touch, then smiles softly and murmurs, "I'm always careful." He pauses and as an afterthought, "See you at C.D.'s tonight?" She nods and he hurries to catch up with Trivette.

Later that afternoon when she hears that Walker and Trivette have been injured serving the warrant and been taken to the hospital to be checked out, she stops by her office long enough to grab her purse and to tell Amy where she would be. Pushing through the emergency room doors, she finds a nurse and locates the room where the Rangers are being checked out. When she locates the room she sees Jimmy being brought out in a wheel chair. "Jimmy, are you all right?"

"Yeah, they're taking me down for an x-ray of my arm to make sure it isn't broke, otherwise just some cuts and bruises." Motioning behind him into the room, "He's the one who took the worst of it." As the nurse pushes him away, "man, did he luck out."

"I'll … see you later, Jimmy." After listening to Jimmy she's almost afraid of what she will see, but taking a deep breath she steps into the room. Walker is sitting up on the examining table, nude except for a sheet draped across his lap, while an intern picks pieces of glass out of his arms and his freshly shaven chest. Remarkably, his face is unmarked. He winces with every pluck of the tweezers, then relaxes when he hears the tiny fragment land in the enameled pan. "God, Walker, what happened to you?"

His head jerks up when he hears her voice, then smiles at her. "I zigged when I should have zagged." Then seeing the worry in her eyes, "I'm all right, Alex. Really, just ask the doc here."

Alex looks at the Doctor who is still plucking slivers of glass from Walker's chest. "Actually he's very lucky this is all that he got. From what I understand it could have been a lot worse. How he managed to dodge the worst of it, I don't know. He'll be able to leave after we get the glass out of him, and the wounds are flushed to make sure we get all the tiny chips out."

She moves up to stand beside him. Taking his hand, "You said you would be careful."

His hand tightens around hers, and looking up at her, he murmurs, "It was the best of two choices."

"Oh, what was the other choice?"

"Being hit by a large truck." He feels her tremble as she looks at him with wide eyes.

"How in the world did you get in a predicament like that?"

"It's along story, Alex, I'll tell you later."

Every time a sliver of glass is plucked from his flesh, his hand tightens around hers. She grimaces as the doctor works over him, feeling each piece as it's removed. By the time the doctor finishes, his face is a few shades paler. She's almost in tears when the doctor turns to her, "If you'll leave, we'll get the wounds all flushed out and bandaged then he can go."

She looks into Walker's face, he gives her a weak smile, nods that it's all right, then gives her hand a final squeeze, before she's ushered out of the room.

Almost an hour later, he comes out of the room in a wheelchair, wearing his jeans, dotted with small tears over his thighs and abdomen, and a green scrub shirt since his is in tatters. His arms are bandaged from the forearm up and also his chest, and spots of white bandage can be seen through the tears of his pants. The doctor comes out behind him and says, "He needs to go home and rest, at least for a few hours, I would prefer that he stay there till morning, but I know he won't do that." Turning to Walker, "I want you back in here tomorrow to change the bandages. We'll check you over again, make sure we haven't missed any small chips, okay."

"Okay, doc."

"I'll take you home, so you can rest. I'll make arrangements to get the Ram delivered."

"No, Alex. My truck is right here." He points to the silver gray Ram sitting at the curb. "I'll go home and rest," seeing the look in her eyes, he adds, "I promise."

She helps him into his truck and as she closes the door, "You promise?"

"I promise. But I'll be back to C.D.'s later. I've got a date." He gives her a warm smile, then slowly leans out the window, giving her time to back away but when she doesn't, he lowers his lips gently touching hers.

When he pulls back, she hears a soft sigh escape his lips. She breathes a soft, "Later," as she steps away and lets him leave.

* * * *

When Walker gets home, before going inside he sits down on the swing, his mind on Alex. As he leans back, he touches a finger to his lips remembering her kiss before he left town. That's all that's ever been between them, just kisses. Although some of them have been pretty intense, he's always pulled away, believing that he wasn't ready to take that final step. He knew the feelings were there, deep feelings, feelings he had thought had been dead since Ellen's death. But Alex had slowly but surely awakened those feelings. And as sure as God made little green apples, he would voice those feeling to her one of these days. (Without realizing it, he had completely erased the 'singer' from his mind.) Then, with his mind gathering in the smell of Alex, her perfume, her natural essence his body slowly relaxes. He stretches his legs out in front of him, and as his muscles loosen, his head falls forward on his chest. Several minutes later, you can hear a soft snoring as he falls into a peaceful slumber.

He awakens with a start, as the sun, creeping down behind the trees in the west, hits him directly in the face. He stretches his arms out, bringing out a low moan, as the soreness in his body becomes apparent. Remembering his 'date' with Alex he goes inside and upstairs to clean up as best as he can and change clothes.

* * * *

When he pulls up outside C.D.'s, he sees Trivette getting out of his car, moving about as stiffly as he is.

When Trivette sees him, he stops, waiting for his partner to join him. "Hey, man, why ain't you home in bed?"

As he slowly walks up to him, Walker grunts out, "Probably for the same reason you aren't."

Trivette knows his reason is a pretty girl waiting for him. But Walker, surely he wouldn't be meeting a woman at C.D.'s, flaunting her in front of Alex after what he's put her through … No, can't be that. Him and Alex have been moving closer the past few weeks. Hmm … maybe it's Alex he's meeting.

"Well, my reason is a girl." Trivette winks at him. He lowers his voice, "Are you meeting…?"

"Alex." He grins, "we're getting there."

"You know, you're lucky don't you?"

"Yeah, I know."

"I'm not talking about Alex although you're lucky there, too. But I mean the window. If you hadn't rolled after hitting the ground … well … I saw the ground where you landed and there was a large sliver of glass … well … you get the picture. You're lucky to be moving at all."

"I know, Trivette. I am moving, but I won't be running after any bad guys for awhile."

"Ha! You never did do any running. You always left that to me. But, me, I'm not going to do any running either. Not for a while anyway. Got the next few days off, how about you?"

"Yeah, me, too."

Walker pulls open the door to C.D.'s and follows Trivette inside, his eyes automatically looking for the beautiful Assistant DA. His heart accelerates when he spots her at the bar talking to C.D.

Trivette moves off to the left, the girl he's meeting, having taken him by the arm, pulls him to a booth. Walker moves around him heading for the blonde smiling at him from the bar.

Alex watches as he moves stiffly across the room, then sitting down beside her. She sees the pain etched in his face, and murmurs, "You should have stayed home. Are you hurting pretty bad?"

"A little. It's not too bad." His eyes take in her smile, the twinkle in her eyes, and her moist lips. God, he wants to kiss her again.

"Yeah, right." She can't seem to take her eyes from his.

"Cordell … how're you doing?" Both jump at the sound of C.D.'s greeting. "Heard you were attacked by a large window."

"More like I attacked it, and I'm not sure which one came out the winner."

"Well … you don't look to bad, how's the window look."

Walker smiles, "It's in pieces, C.D., as a matter of fact, I walked away with a few of them."

"I hope you didn't bring'em with you." C.D. laughs, "Hey … want some coffee, Cordell?"

"Please."

Alex murmurs softly, "Would you rather sit at a booth, it … might be more comfortable?"

When C.D. returns with Walker's coffee, he notices that they've moved to a booth. He watches them for a few minutes, and smiles knowing they are close to their previous relationship.

* * * *

They sit and talk quietly for a long time about nothing, about everything, except the past, until Alex notices the white lines of pain around his eyes. "Did you get any rest at all?"

"I did. I fell asleep in the swing but I..."

"Walker! That's some rest." She gives him a stern look, "come on, I'm taking you home." She stands and taking his hand gently, careful of his wounds, she tugs on him until he stands.

"Alex, I just got here. We had a date, I don't want to go home yet, we need…"

"You need to rest, now lets go." They wave goodbye to C.D. but are unable to get Trivette's attention as they walk out the door. "I'll drive you home, then I'll know you'll get there." I'll even tuck you in if I have to. She mumbles under her breath.

"Alex my truck is right here. I can drive myself."

She watches him get in his truck then she says, "Okay, I'll follow you out."

It takes them some thirty minutes to reach the ranch, "Walker must be hurting more then he's letting on, as slow as he's driving."

She parks right behind his truck and watches as he takes his time getting out of the truck, "Stubborn … Walker, really this is ridiculous." Moving up to help him into the house. But he moves toward the swing instead of the door, "Walker, not again, you need to be in bed."

"Please, Alex, sit with me, for just a little while." His eyes begging her, "Please?"

"Well … just for a little while." He sits down and takes her hand, pulling her down beside him.

"Are sure about this?"

"I'm sure." He lifts his arm and slides it around her shoulders, tugging her closer.

"Walker, I don't think this is a good idea. I'll hurt you…"

"No … no, it's alright. It feels good. Not going to let anything spoil our … date."

Her voice a whisper, "Walker, really, we can do this another time."

"No … I've waited to long for this … don't want to wait any longer." He tilts her face up to his, and slowly lowers his lips to cover hers softly, not sure if she'll stop him. Caressing her mouth tenderly with his own he feels her arms circle his neck and her fingers stroke through his hair at the nape, it's the gentle push he needs. He leans into her, this time without reservation, and slides his hands gently down from her face to pull her body closer, deepening their kiss. She comes to him willingly, her desire as strong as his. He feels his body responding to the soft, cool feel of her mouth. He drinks in the taste of her, the feel of her and fights for control over his desire as he continues to kiss her slowly, gently probing her mouth with his tongue.

A soft whimper finds it's way past her lips at the contact and she wraps her arms around him in earnest, increasing the pressure on his neck, pulling him into her. She feels the heat from his body ripple over her skin, feels the evidence of his desire pressing firmly into her leg as she melts against him. Hearing a soft moan of pain, she quickly moves away from him. "Oh, God, I'm sorry, Walker, I forgot…"

"It's all right. It doesn't hurt that badly. Come here." And he tries to pull her back against his side, but she resists, saying, "No … you need to get to bed, and get some rest. And I want your promise that you'll stay there all night." She places her hands on each side of his face, looking intently into his eyes then slowly brushes her lips across his.

"Okay, if you say so but before you go there's something I want you to know," he pauses and looks into her eyes, "maybe I shouldn't tell you this, since we're getting along so well."

"If you were … thinking about it, it must have meant something to you. If it concerns us, maybe you should get it out in the opening now. I don't think I could go through another…"

"No, it's not what you think." He brings her hand to his lips, "I always thought … after Ellen died, … I would never love again. And that was the way I wanted it, at least I thought I did, until you came along, and … my life has been turned upside down. I've started thinking about things I never thought I had a right to think about." He sees the tears building in her eyes, "Am I making any sense."

A soft response, "Yes … yes, you are." She touches her fingers to his cheek, "What about that singer?"

"Who?"

"Merilee. What about her?" He looks at her in confusion for several seconds than as she sees the memory fighting it's way out, "It's all right. I know. I know." When he presses her head to his chest, and kisses the top of her head, he feels the tension leaving her.

"Are you sure, Alex, really sure?"

"I am sure, Walker…" He silences her with his fingers to her lips.

"I know you're sure of yourself, Alex … but are you sure of me?" The question catches her off guard, and she watches in stunned silence as he stands and goes inside the house, the door closing snaps her out of the daze. Am I? I love him more than life but am I sure he loves me? He wants this relationship on firm ground, too. Of course he loves me. And yes … I'm sure of him.

She opens the door and steps into the darkened house, silently closes the door and turns to start up the stairs, only to collide with a hard form.

As arms slide around her, she hears a voice full of emotion, "You took so long I thought … you were going to leave." He pulls her into his chest, his head against hers.

Feeling his tears mingling with hers, she whispers, "Sorry … but I'm in this for the long haul. I love you too much to leave now. But if another woman tries to get her claws in you, I won't stand by and watch, you can count on that."

"I am, honey, I'm counting on you." The he kisses her, a sweet, tender kiss that is followed with another and another. He dips his tongue into her mouth, again and again, kissing her with such total possession that when he finally stops she rests her cheek against his chest.

"Slower, Walker, I can hardly breathe."

With a deep sigh, "I'll … try." As she slides her arms around his neck, he shudders, then kisses her more deeply. Their lips mesh, their tongues duel.

She clings to his neck, panting, burning from the inside out. "What about…?"

A raspy moan, "What about … what?" He lowers his head and rubs his beard against the softness of her breasts. He kisses them through the soft cloth of her shirt, before moving back to her mouth.

Her voice barely above a whisper, "Your injuries?" Feeling his hands lightly graze over her sends shivers coursing through her from the top of her head clear down through her toes.

"What injuries?" he murmurs between kisses

"Your injuries … I thought … I don't know what … I thought."

"Alex, maybe you … should think about … going home." His hand moves up under her shirt, his fingers brushing her skin just below her bra.

"Why…?" She arches into him, needing more.

"Let's put it this way," his fingers move under her bra, caressing the soft mounds of flesh, "if you're not … out of here," he impatiently pulls at the buttons with trembling fingers, "in five minutes," the shirt falls open, the bra is unfastened, "you know what's gonna happen." His tongue touches her nipple, sending a bolt of desire straight to the core of her.

"What … what's going to … happen?" A moan slips from her lips, and as her knees weaken she hangs on to his neck for support as his mouth claims her once again. "I think … it's to late." She sags against him as his hand slides down between them, unfastening her jeans, then lowering the zipper he slides them down past her hips.

As his mouth covers her face with soft wet kisses, she slowly turns, his lips moving to the back of her neck. One hand reaches around her and cups her breast, while the other slides down inside her panties, cupping her bottom, then slides down over her belly, over the blonde triangle patch, and between her thighs.

She's very wet. The discovery makes him dizzy with desire. He probes her with two fingers, gently parting the folds then sliding into her.

She gasps as his fingers find her, and a tremendous shudder passes through her as she leans back against him.

He tilts his hips forward and nestles his erection in the crevice of her bottom. He teases her taut nipple, while his fingers gently move inside her. Soon she begins pushing her hips forward against his hand, until he keeps it entirely still and all the movements comes from the eager motion of her hips.

She cries out as the climax rips through her. As soon as the shudders subside, he withdraws his hand and, turning her around to face him wraps her in his arms. She rests against him weakly, damply, her breath raspy as she moans into his chest hair.

After awhile, he places his finger beneath her chin and tilts her head up. "I'd carry you upstairs to bed if I could."

Unable to get her voice to work just yet, she turns and lets him guide her upstairs into his bedroom. He slips off his clothes and gets into bed. He watches her as she stands hesitantly at the side of the bed.

"If you're not sure, Alex, I'll understand."

"No, it's … not that." She takes his offered hand and lets him pull her down on the bed beside him. "Are you sure you should? I mean, I don't want to hurt you."

Easing her down on her back, "That part of me is just fine." Leaning over her, he kisses her softly, while his hands begin to caress her breasts and nipples, still swollen from her previous orgasm. He guides her hand down to touch him. She hesitates for a microsecond, then slowly begins to stroke him,

"Oh … God," his breathing ragged, at the exquisite feeling flooding through him. He parts her thighs and moves between them, then he mutters, "Damn," and grabbing his pants off the floor, takes a foiled packet from his wallet, opens it, slips it over his erection and moves back between her legs. His eyes lock with hers as he slowly sinks into her until it is impossible to go any deeper.

He begins to move, thrusting and withdrawing in perfect rhythm with the undulation of her hips. When she cries out from the sensations washing over her, he stops, "Did I hurt you?"

A groan, "Oh … no … don't stop." She shifts underneath him, arching her back, her breathing raspy, "Don't stop … please … don't … stop."

He begins moving again, rocking their way toward release. As a tumultuous orgasm explodes, they both cry out, as the spasms spear through them like lightening bolts.

He finally rolls off of her onto his back, and she moves next to him, murmuring softly, "Hold me."

"My pleasure," he whispers, and enfolds her into his arms, "I've wanted you, it seems like forever. But I fought it. God … how I fought it."

"Why," she whispers softly.

"Because … everyone I get close to … ends up … something happens to them. And I didn't want anything to happen to you."

"Oh, Walker, not expressing your feelings, isn't going to ensure that nothing will happen. You'll just miss out on living … and loving. If anything happened to me … would it hurt any less just because you didn't want to admit your feelings?"

He tilts her head up, and looking into her eyes, "No … it wouldn't and I'd have missed all the time being with you."

She snuggles close and with a smile on her lips says, "Walker, you can't back out now, not after this."

"I'm not backing out. No way." He nuzzles his face into her hair, and murmurs softly, "Does that mean that I'm forgiven for my … transgression?"

"Well, not completely." She wiggles closer, "you have a lot of making up to do."

"Gladly." His hands begin caressing her breasts, "just tell me how and when."

"Often."

The End