THE ROAD BACK

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March 4, 2001 - Continued

Alex arrived at the hospital and was ushered up to Dr. Richards office. “Mrs. Walker, please have a seat and I’ll explain your husband’s condition.” Once she sat down he began, “Ranger Walker suffered a very significant head injury on top of the bullet wound he sustained. We’ve already had to do surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain and to remove the bullet from his spine. At this point there are no guarantees he will survive and even if he does there may be brain damage, paralysis or both.”

She couldn’t stop her gasp of dismay; she’d had no idea the extent of his injuries until now. “When can I see him?”

“Now, follow me.”

Following the doctor into the room she looked at her husband and found herself thinking she had to be in the wrong room. All of his hair was gone, including the facial hair and there were tubes, wires and machines everywhere. For one second she hesitated then stepped over to his side and carefully took his hand saying, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here Cowboy, I didn’t know; but I’m with you now and I’m not going anywhere.”

From his chair in the corner of the room Jimmy watched her and it was all he could do to keep his anger in check; reaching into his pocket he felt the letter he had refused to throw away. Standing up abruptly he didn’t even acknowledge her as he practically ran from the room ignoring her call of “Jimmy?” He paced up and down the hallway for a minute before making a decision; pulling the letter from his pocket he smoothed it out, walked back into the room and handed it to her as he said, “You know I want him to live more than anything, but if you are going to give him this…then it’s better if he never wakes up!”

Realizing what the paper was and hearing the hostility in his voice she said, “Jimmy, I can explain this.”

“So can I; do you realize that for years I kept playing the field because I wanted what you and Walker had; turns out the joke’s on me…the first real sign of trouble and you bail on him. What kind of love is that?”

“Jimmy…”

“You know when you were in this very hospital after Storm shot you he spent every night by your side no matter how hard CD and I tried to get him to go home and rest. He’d sit in the chair holding your hand and talking to you until he’d fall asleep out of pure exhaustion…when you and Angela were here fighting for your lives he was right here with you until he knew you were both out of danger. “

“I know but…”

“Alex I don’t know what he’s done to make you doubt him but take it from me he would die for you and he would die without you, children or not.”

“But we always talked about more than one and he’s such a great father, the night before he was injured he asked when we were going to plan the next one…”

“Did he love Lucas any less? Or Max?

“What?”

“Think about it Alex; if you and Walker want a big family there are hundreds of kids out there who would love to call you Mom and Dad.”

Putting her arms around him she said, “You are pretty smart James Trivette and thank you for making me see what’s important.”

The next few weeks were tough on everyone as it seemed that Walker would make progress before sliding back again but eventually the doctors were able to start weaning him off the drugs and the machines.

June 15, 2001

Alex said good-bye to Sydney and Gage knowing she wouldn’t be seeing them for a while as they were going undercover once again. She and Jimmy had mended their relationship and were stronger than ever and he was a frequent visitor. Erica stopped by a lot as well and when the door opened a few minutes later she came in asking, “How is he today?”

“The doctors will only say he isn’t getting worse; it’s so frustrating!”

“I know, but after the constant back and forth, it still must be a relief.”

Nodding her head Alex replied, “Of course it is, but I want them to tell me he’s getting better, that he’s going to wake up.”

“He will, we have to keep believing that.”

Looking up Alex noticed a peculiar look on her friend’s face. “Okay out with it, what’s going on?”

“I’m not sure, but I think...well I think I’m pregnant.”

For a second Alex felt a twinge of sadness but then found herself grinning from ear to ear. “That’s terrific, have you told Jimmy yet?”

“No, I’m not sure how he’ll react; I mean we want kids but we had planned to be married first.”

“Hey you’re here in the hospital, get a test done and if you are…well you tell that handsome fiancé of yours to get off his butt and marry you.”

Gesturing to Walker she replied, “Jimmy wants Walker to be his best man though.”

Taking Erica’s hands Alex replied, “My husband would have loved that, but he wouldn’t want you and Jimmy waiting on him.”

“Trivette was going to be a father? Yeah he needed to go ahead and marry Erica.” He wanted desperately to open his mouth and say the words but he couldn’t even get his eyes to cooperate. A few minutes later he heard the door open and felt Alex take his hand; he concentrated and willed his fingers to squeeze.

Lost in her thoughts she almost didn’t feel the slight pressure on her hand and when she did she wondered if it was just wishful thinking. Hardly daring to breathe she leaned in close and whispered in his ear, “I love you so much, please do that again, let me know you can hear me.”

“Talk about putting him on the spot!” With every ounce of willpower he had he managed a gentle squeeze and was rewarded by her burying her face in his shoulder and crying.

The next few days were totally frustrating for him; he could hear everything said but the only response he was able to give were the squeezes he managed.

June 21, 2001

Gordon walked into the room with Angela and carried her to her father’s side. “Your little girl is growing up so fast; you won’t even recognize her now son.” He leaned over so he could place her hand on her father’s.

“What’s Gordon doing here and what does he mean about not recognizing my daughter?” He felt the small hand on his and a strange warmth began there and slowly spread through his body, he felt totally at peace as he willed himself to open his eyes. Slowly he felt them responding and when they were fully open it took a minute to focus then another minute for him to understand that the girl Gordon was holding WAS his daughter. “Damn, how long have I been here?”

Alex walked back into her husband’s room and was stunned to find his eyes open. Glancing at her Dad she realized he hadn’t noticed. “Dad, look!”

When he did he smiled and said, “Well, well, welcome back son!”

The next few hours were filled with test after test and by the time he was finally wheeled back into his room he was exhausted; he knew he needed to sleep but in the back of his mind he couldn’t stop wondering what would happen if he gave in; would he be able to open his eyes again?

Alex, Jimmy, Erica and Gordon listened to the doctors and for the first time they all sounded hopeful; the brain scans were all coming back normal and his back was mostly healed; there were no signs of damage to his spinal cord and the tests showed he had feeling back in his lower extremities.

Going back into his room a few minutes later Alex and Jimmy could both see how hard it was for Walker to keep his eyes open. They each took one of his hands and Alex said, “We just talked to the doctors, They all agree that you are getting better every day, but in order for you to continue your progress you need to rest. “

Speaking up Jimmy said, “You know she’s right; Erica is waiting for me so I’m out of here, but I’ll be back; see you later partner.”

Once Jimmy was gone Alex leaned over and kissed her husband saying, “Close your eyes Cowboy, I’ll be right here when you wake up, I promise.” She saw his slight smile as he dutifully closed his eyes and she whispered, “I love you Cordell Walker.”

“I love you too Alexandra Cahill-Walker.”

The next time he opened his eyes he saw his wife looking out the window and he took the opportunity to just look at her; he frowned as he noticed that she had lost weight; not just baby weight either. Again he wondered how long he had been in the hospital; he needed to know! He tried yet again to speak and was finally rewarded. “Alex?”

She whirled away from the window and moved quickly to his side where she grasped his hand in hers as she asked, “Did you really say my name or is that wishful thinking on my part?”

With his trademark half grin firmly in place he replied, “I love you Alex.”

The tears slipped unchecked down her cheeks as she choked out, “I love you too; I need to let the doctors know you’re talking.” She tried to pull away but he refused to release her hand and as she met his gaze she could see all the questions in his eyes.

“What happened to me and how long have I been here?”

“You were involved in a raid on a drug lab; Gage found you after the battle was over; you’d been shot and you had a massive head wound; they still don’t know how that happened. As for how long you’ve been here…it’s been almost four months.”

“Months?”

“Walker, I know that seems like forever to you but you have to understand, when you were admitted there was not ONE doctor in this hospital that thought you were going to survive. They had to do emergency surgery three times in the first two weeks to relieve pressure on your brain. There was so much swelling in your back from the bullet wound they were worried your spinal cord would be damaged. They had you on every machine imaginable and kept you in a medically induced coma.” Sobbing she said, “I quit counting the number of times we almost lost you.”

“You didn’t lose me and you’re not going to; I have too much to live for.” He saw a fleeting look of sadness cross her face but before he could question it she managed to escape out the door. “What was that look about?”

It was two days later before Walker finally got Alex all to himself again and he immediately asked, “What’s wrong? And don’t try to pretend it has nothing to do with me or that it’s not important; we’ve known each other way too long for that to work.”

She sat down, reached for his hand and said, “I’m just not sure how to tell you or even if I should until you’re out of here.”

“Alex, honey, please just tell me what’s wrong, whatever it is we’ll figure it out together.”

Taking a deep breath she asked, “Do you remember that I had an appointment with Dr Bates the day you were hurt?”

“I know, your six week check-up.” He saw the tears in her eyes and immediately knew that something had happened during that appointment. “What did she say?” When she let go of his hand and walked over to the window he felt fear go through him. What if the Dr Bates had found something seriously wrong with her? His mind immediately rebelled at the idea. “Alex, what did she say?”

“Because of the complications from Angela’s birth and my age she said my chances of having another baby are very slim. I’m so sorry Walker, I know you wanted Angela to have siblings, so did I.”

He waited quietly for her to say more and when she didn’t he realized that the bad news he had been dreading wasn’t coming. “Alex, please come here.” When she did he took her hand and said, “Look at me.” As soon as he had her full attention he said, “For years I thought I was doomed to be by myself, but you saved me. Then when we found out you were pregnant, I can’t even describe the joy I felt.  When you went into early labor I was terrified, there was absolutely nothing I could do and I even prepared myself to have to make a choice between the baby and you.” As the tears began to slide down her face he continued, “I never had a doubt what my choice would have been, I love you and if we had lost Angela we would have survived it…somehow. But if I lost you…I don’t think I would survive that; you are the most important person in my life and you always will be. We have a beautiful daughter and if we decide down the road that we want more…well we could foster or even adopt if you wanted to.”

Wiping her tears away she answered, “For a man of few words you always seem to know the ones I need to hear. I love you so much!”

“I love you too.” Studying her closely he could tell there was something still on her mind and he gently said, “Tell me the rest.”

She sat down on the side of his bed, took his hand in hers and quietly said, “When I left Dr Bates’ office I felt like a failure, I wasn’t going to be able to give you the children you wanted and deserved and I lost it; I went home, wrote you a note and left.”

Gently he asked, “What did the note say?”

Reaching into her pocketbook she pulled it out and handed it to him.

Opening it he read:

Walker:

Today should be the day we’ve been looking forward to for six weeks, but instead I’m afraid it’s going to be the end of our marriage. Dr. Bates says my chances of giving you more children are extremely slim and you are such a good father that you deserve the chance to have them.

I won’t fight it if you want a divorce, Angela needs to be with me until she’s older, then we can work out a custody agreement.

I can’t stay here anymore so I’m leaving town.

Please never doubt that I love you, it’s because I do that I’m setting you free.

Alex

He fought back his tears and asked, “What do you think I would have done if I’d gotten this note?”

“At the time I thought you would be happy, but now that I’ve had time to think about it…you would have moved Heaven and Earth to find us.”

“Yes I would have and at that time I probably would have been furious with you about doubting the love we share; but there’s no question in my mind that we would have worked it out.”

“There’s more, I didn’t even know you were in the hospital…if my Dad hadn’t called Jimmy looking for you…you were in here almost five days without me.”

“Honey you’re here now and it won’t be long before I finally get to go home; you and I have a lot of time to make up for.”

Leaning over she gave him a passionate kiss saying, “It can’t happen soon enough for me, our bed has been mighty empty.”

A knock on the door interrupted them and when Erica walked in they both laughed. Shaking his head Walker said, “Yep definitely made for each other, they both have the same sense of timing.”

Seeing the confusion on her friend’s face Alex said, “Let’s just say Jimmy had a habit of showing up at the worst possible moment for us.”

“Uncle Ray and CD were just as bad; there were times I wanted to strangle all three of them.”

Teasingly Erica asked, “Do you want me to stand out here and guard the door for a couple of hours?” She saw the look the married couple exchanged and gave an inward smile as she realized they were actually considering it; the love between them was so strong but Jimmy had told her it had taken a long time for them to get there. She remembered how they had welcomed her right away into their lives and how happy they were that Jimmy had finally found someone to love. Without realizing what she was doing she dropped her hand to her stomach.

Seeing the gesture Walker asked, “So when am I going to be an uncle?”

Absently she replied, “In about seven months.” Then she jerked her head up asking, “How did you know?”

“You and Alex were talking about it a while back.” He suddenly began laughing and when they both looked at him askance he quietly said, “Do the math, your baby will be due around Angela’s 1st birthday.”

The two women stared at each other and they began laughing as well.

“So have you told Trivette?”

“Not yet, I’m planning a little surprise for him this weekend though.”

“He’s going to be so excited; I bet he’ll be going onto rooftops all over Dallas screaming that he’s going to be a father.”

“You think so?”

“Erica…when you two were together the first time…well it’s the first time I saw him open his heart all the way and when you left…I’m not saying this to make you feel bad, but it almost destroyed him. I could literally see the walls he was trying to build around himself. Then when you came back into his life…he was so happy but scared at the same time.”

“Scared?”

Alex said, “Yes, he wanted you back so badly but there was a part of him that was afraid you’d leave again, Walker and I both told him that if he loved you he had to take the chance.”

“I’m glad you did; I admit that I panicked the first time around, I was so immature compared to him and I let that insecurity come between us, but once I realized that time and distance didn’t stop me from loving him…I had to come back and try again.”

The two women shared a hug as Alex said, “We’re glad you came back, you and Jimmy are perfect together and the little one you are carrying is going to be one lucky kid.”

“Thanks for telling me all this you two; now I better go, I still have some things to take care of for my surprise.”

After Erica left Walker carefully studied his wife and hesitantly asked,” “Honey, are you okay? I mean about the pregnancy?”

Sitting on the edge of his bed she took his hand saying, “I’m not going to lie, it hurt at first but I truly am happy for them. Both of them are so great with Angela…” She laughed and added, “They’re getting practice just like we got with Max.” Realizing he wasn’t laughing with her she looked at him and noticed the pensive look on his face. “What are you thinking?”

“If I had married you sooner…”

Bringing her finger to his lips she said, “Don’t do this to yourself; we could play the “What if” game for the rest of our lives but I’d rather just concentrate on what I have…a stubborn mule-headed cowboy and a beautiful daughter…both of whom I love very much.”

Their lips met in a long sweet kiss and when they came up for air he said, “I love you Alexandra Walker and I will be the happiest man in the world when I get home so I can show you how much.”

“Believe we honey, I’m looking forward to that week as well.”

“Week?”

“Or longer, depending on when I let you out of our bed again.” She laughed at his incredulous expression before adding, “Think about it darling, Dr. Bates ended our marital relations when I was seven months pregnant and well you’ve been in here all this time so it’s been over six months since I’ve made love with you; we have a lot of time to make up for.”

Her words made him push even harder to get well and eventually the doctors agreed that while he still needed more physical therapy and recovery time he could go home, FINALLY!

July 8, 2001

It was his last day at the hospital and it seemed that every time he looked up there was another doctor or nurse coming in to say good-bye; he knew he owed his life to these people and was deeply touched that they all cared enough to stop by. There were handshakes, hugs and tears before the discharge papers were officially delivered and he made the mandatory wheelchair ride out to the car where Alex was waiting for him.

He wasn’t surprised at all when they got to the ranch to see several cars parked there; his friends had gathered to welcome him home. After a couple of hours of celebrating he was close to exhaustion and smiled when Alex started ushering people out until the only ones left were himself, Alex, Angela, Gordon, Jimmy and Erica.

Alex handed Angela over to Jimmy as she asked, “Are you sure you don’t mind taking care of her for a few days?”

Looking at his two closest friends he said, “We want to do this for you guys, consider it a stay at home second honeymoon.” He laughed as both of them blushed and turning to the other man he said, “We better get going Gordon, don’t want you to miss your flight.”

Shaking hands with his son-in-law he said, “I’m so glad you’re okay son.” He hugged his daughter as he added, “I’m going to miss you Pumpkin,” inclining his head towards his granddaughter he said, “That little Angel too.”

“We’ll miss you too Dad; I can’t thank you enough for staying all this time.”

“You needed me, but you’re going to be fine now and I’m anxious to get back to New York and start working again.”

A few minutes later Walker and Alex were all alone and she dropped down beside him on the couch saying, “Alone at last.”

His arms immediately went around her as he said, “So when does that week start you promised me?”

Laughing she stood up saying, “Let me lock the door and take the phone off the hook and I’m all yours.” Throwing him a teasing look over her shoulder she caught him mid yawn and after completing her mission she went back to the couch, helped him to stand and led him into the downstairs bedroom.

“Alex?”

“Remember the doctors said no stairs yet, so we’ll stay here for now.” She kissed him hungrily before saying, “Now I want you to take a nap.”

“What!?”

“Darling we have the rest of our lives together to make love, but right now…I can tell you’re losing the fight to keep your eyes open.” She helped him undress and after he stretched out on the bed she pulled the covers up over him. Leaning over she kissed him as she said, “I love you Cowboy.”

“I love you too.”

Despite the fact that her seduction plans had been put on hold she knew she’d made the right decision when his eyes closed and he was almost instantly asleep. She sat in the chair beside him and just watched, his beard had grown back and his hair was almost long enough now to hide the multitude of scars on his head. The physical therapy he had been doing in the hospital had started to show results and now that he was home she knew he would be unrelenting in getting himself back into tip top shape. Standing up she undressed and crawled into bed with her husband; her head automatically finding the spot on his shoulder that she used for a pillow. Once again their love had been tested and once again they had prevailed. Looking up she whispered, “Thank you.” Her eyes closed and she joined her husband in a peaceful sleep.