This is my first attempt at fanfic, and I would appreciate any feedback you have.  Enjoy!

The Journey Home

By: Erin (erinburks@cs.com)

          It was the middle of August, and it was hot in Dallas.  Cordell Walker shook his head as he once again rolled down the windows of his Dodge Ram.  The air conditioner was broken again, but he hadn’t been able to find the time to have it fixed yet.  He was on his way to C.D.’s Bar and Grill to have lunch with his wife.  His heart swelled just thinking of her.  He reminded himself how lucky he was to have her in his life every day.  He pulled up in front of C.D.’s and went in. 

          Alex was waiting for him in their usual booth.  Her face broke into a smile at the sight of him, obviously happy to see him.  Since they had been married in May, both appeared to have a permanent grin stamped on their face.  He leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips, “Hello, beautiful.”

          “Hello, yourself Cowboy!  I’m glad that you were able to meet me on such short notice,” she said.

          “There is nothing I would rather do than have lunch with my sexy wife.  Well, almost nothing,” he grinned as he have her a sly wink. 

          “You’ll have to wait till later to have dessert, Cowboy!”

          “So, what’s on your mind?  I assume there is more to this meeting than just lunch.” 

“Well, I was just thinking that next weekend is Daddy’s 65th birthday.  I was

wondering what you would think of us going to pay him a surprise visit?” asked Alex. 

          “Honey, I think that would be a really great idea-I know Gordon would love it.  Unfortunately though, you are going to have to go by yourself.  The Captain called us in this morning.  Trivette and I are on special assignment with the DEA for awhile-maybe a couple of months.  Apparently they are on to some big drug ring.  But, I do think it would still be a great idea for you to go.  I know a visit from you on his birthday would mean the world to Gordon,” he replied. 

          “I don’t know, Walker.  We haven’t been apart yet since we got married.  I don’t like the idea of going without you.  Maybe I’ll just forget the whole idea,” she responded.

          “I won’t hear of it.  You know that you want to go.  Besides, we both know that we are going to have to be apart sooner or later, and I’ll be busy with the DEA while you are gone.  Plus, there is always your ‘welcome home’ when you get back,” he grinned with a lift of his eyebrow.

          “Well, Cowboy, when you put it like that… I guess I’m taking a trip next weekend!” she laughed. 

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

“Walker, you really didn’t have to drive me to the airport!”

“Oh, yes I did!  Lady, do you think that I’m going to let you go off for four days without a proper goodbye?  Well, you can just forget it!”

“Cowboy, I’m really going to miss you.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep by myself anymore,” sighed Alex.

“Trust me, I know the feeling.  I’m not looking forward to spending nights alone in our bed either.  I have to say, I do love waking up next to you every morning and seeing your beautiful face.  It reminds me just how lucky I am to have you in my life,” he said gently. 

Alex smiled at the rare moment of Walker voicing his feelings.  He was doing it more and more since they got married.  “Oh, Walker, now I really don’t want to leave you!” 

“Hey, go and enjoy your visit.  I promise I will be here when you get back,” he responded while reaching up to touch her face gently. 

He leaned in and began the kiss gently, barely even touching her lips.  But, as soon as his lips met hers, he felt the jolt of electricity that he always got when it came to his wife.  Somehow, she had a way of turning him into a passion-crazed man with only the slightest of touches. 

“Last call for flight 493 to New York,” came over the loud speaker. 

“I guess I have to go now.  I will miss you so much!” she leaned over to give him one last quick kiss.  “Walker, I love you,” she whispered. 

“I love you, too, hon,” he whispered back. 

With one last glance, she quickly boarded the plane and was gone from his sight.  Walker just stood there for a moment, deep in thought.  ‘I wonder what I would do without her.  I can’t believe it took me so long to finally make a commitment to her.  She is without a doubt the best thing in my life.  She is beautiful, strong, intelligent…and she is all mine,’ he thought greedily. 

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

The weekend passed slowly for Walker.  He and Trivette spent almost all their time on stakeouts with the DEA, trying to get an idea of how to infiltrate the drug operation.  He had spoken to Alex each night.  By now, he was missing her terribly.  The lonely nights in their bed were worse than he had thought.  He wasn’t sure how he had made it for so long without her.  Before Alex, the ranch was his home.  Now, Alex was his home, in every sense of the word. 

He checked his watch.  It was 9:30.  Her plane would be leaving soon.  He was supposed to pick her up at the airport at 1:30, and he had no intention of being late. 

They spent the morning doing paperwork in the office.  Trivette didn’t know when he’d seen Walker get finished with paperwork so quickly.  ‘Man he misses her bad!’ he thought. 

Close to noon, the two got ready to leave and go to C.D.’s for lunch.  “I’ll meet you there. There is something I want to do first,” said Walker. 

“Does this have anything to do with the fact that a certain Assistant District Attorney will be home in a couple of hours?” questioned Trivette with a grin on his face. 

Walker cut his eyes at Trivette, trying to decide if he should tell him or not.  “If you must know, I’m going to stop and get Alex some flowers!”

“Man, you really must have missed her!” the younger Ranger laughed. 

The bearded Ranger just shook it off though. “Trivette, I will meet you at C.D.’s.”  The two departed Ranger Headquarters in their separate vehicles. 

Jimmy pulled up at C.D.’s and walked in.  The usual lunch crowd seemed to be there.  Jimmy walked up to the bar where his friend and owner of the bar, C.D. Parker, was standing.  C.D. didn’t appear to notice Jimmy’s arrival.  He was lost in his own thoughts.  “Hey Big Dawg!” Jimmy greeted. 

The old retired Ranger looked up, and Jimmy saw tears glistening in his eyes.  Instantly, he became apprehensive.  Something was obviously wrong.  “What happened?” Jimmy asked cautiously. 

C.D. just shook his head and pointed to the TV screen above.  The newscaster was talking about a crash…a plane crash.  “Flight 651 from New York to Dallas crashed this morning shortly after take-off.  The cause of the crash is unknown at this time.  Rescue workers are on the scene, but so far no survivors have been found…”

Jimmy felt like someone had just punched him.  His mouth was dry.  “Alex?” he croaked. 

C.D. just nodded his head at the young Ranger as the tears started to fall. 

“Oh, God.  How are we going to tell him?  I don’t think he can handle this, Big Dawg.  Hell, I’m not sure if I can handle this.  I just can’t believe she might be gone,” said Jimmy sadly. 

C.D. wiped at his eyes.  “I know son, I know.  Speaking of Cordell, where is he Jimmy?  I don’t want him hearing this from anyone else, ya know?”

“He stopped to get Alex some flowers,” Jimmy answered slowly.  “We better turn off that TV before he gets here.”

C.D. walked over and shut off the television set.  At that moment, Ranger Cordell Walker walked into the establishment. 

“Hey guys!” he said cheerily.  His festive mood quickly disappeared when he saw the looks on his two best friends’ faces.  “What’s wrong?”

“Uh, Cordell, we’ve got something that we …uh…need to tell you,” stammered C.D. 

“What is it?” he asked.  He was growing more apprehensive by the moment.  His stomach began to twist into knots. 

“Hey, Pard, why don’t we sit down somewhere private where we can talk?” Jimmy said gesturing to a secluded booth. 

Walker didn’t know what was going on.  He quietly walked over to the booth and sat down with his two friends.  He looked at each of them intently, trying to figure out what was going on. “Well?”  He was beginning to get impatient. 

“Cordell,” C.D. began, “I was just up at the bar listening to the noon news.  They were doing a special report and talking about…” he faltered. 

“Walker, C.D. heard a report about a plane crash,” Jimmy said gently, putting his hand on Walker’s shoulder. “Apparently, the plane Alex was on crashed shortly after takeoff.” 

All the color drained from Walker’s face.  He felt as though he couldn’t breathe. “Crash?…Were there…Are there…Have they found any survivors?” Walker finally managed to get out. 

“Not so far,” Jimmy said gently, “but, they haven’t completed the search yet.”  The three friends sat there in silence, each lost in his own thoughts.  Finally, Jimmy spoke, “I’m going to go down to headquarters and get on the phone and see what I can find out.”  He rose from the booth and turned to leave.  He gave C.D. a shrug of his shoulders and a look that said, ‘I don’t’ know what else to do.’

“Thanks,” Walker said woodenly. 

“Now, we don’t know anything for sure, Cordell.  Let’s not give up hope just yet,” soothed C.D.

“I’ve got to go.  I’ll talk to you later, C.D.”  And with that, Walker rose and left the bar.  C.D. sat and watched him leave, shaking his head. 

Walker got in his truck and started driving.  He didn’t know where he was going.  He didn’t know what to do.  There was a very good possibility that the woman he loved more than life itself had been taken away from him.  How would he ever be able to go on if it was true?  He drove around Dallas and into the country for an hour and a half in a daze.  Finally, he decided that he should go and see what Jimmy had been able to find out.  He also needed to call Gordon and talk to him.  He turned his truck around and headed for Ranger Headquarters. 

He returned to find Jimmy at his desk, staring into space.  Walker knew the news was not good by the look on his face. 

“Did you find anything out?” he questioned. 

Jimmy looked at Walker.  Walker could see the tears glistening in his eyes, threatening to fall. “They have accounted for all the passengers.  They found a section of the tail of the plane broken off from the rest.  They found six survivors in that section.  There were no other survivors…Al…” he stopped and then began again, “Alex was sitting in the front of the plane, directly behind first class.”  Jimmy stopped and let the news sink in.  He couldn’t imagine how anything could be more difficult than giving his best friend the news his wife had died.  Especially when she was one of his best friends too.  He knew how deeply Walker’s love for Alex ran.  He also knew how deeply Walker tried to keep his emotions buried inside. 

Walker turned and walked over to his desk.  He sank down into his chair slowly.  Mechanically, he picked up the phone and dialed Gordon Cahill’s number from memory.  Walker knew from speaking with Alex last night that Gordon would have been in court all day and probably had not yet heard the news.   

“Gordon, this is Walker,” he began in a remote voice. “I have some bad news.  The reason I’m calling is to let you know there has been a crash.  I don’t know exactly how to tell you this.  Alex is… she… she’s…”

Jimmy had watched Walker from his desk.  He didn’t know what the right thing to do here was.  He listened as Walker tried to relay the day’s horrible events to Alex’s father.  He watched as his friend struggled.  He knew Walker wasn’t able to get the words out, so he helped in the only way he could think of.  He picked up the phone and took over the conversation.  For the second time today, he was telling someone that probably the most important person in their life was dead. 

Walker put down the phone, grateful not to have to speak anymore.  He rose and left the building.  He got into the Ram and drove to the ranch.  He was pushing all thoughts from his mind.  He couldn’t let himself think about it, at least not yet, or he would lose it completely.  He parked by the barn and went in and saddled Angel, Alex’s horse.  He then rode out to their favorite spot down by the lake.  Finally, he climbed down and sat in the grass.  And he began to cry.  Gut wrenching sobs came forth from his soul as he tried to relieve himself of the ache that had settled in his chest. 

Walker knew that his life would never be the same without Alex.  He knew he would never truly be whole again.  For as long as it had taken him to finally make a commitment to Alex, and it had taken him a very long time, when he finally did, he had done it with all of his heart and soul.  Alex was a part of him, perhaps the best part of him, and now she was gone. 

He had always thought he would be the one to die first.  Not that he thought about it often, but his job carried big risks, and he always thought that someday, one would probably catch up with him.  Of course, her job had gotten her life threatened on more than one occasion, he thought, as images of LaRue and Kim and Phil’s wedding flashed through his mind. 

He loved her with every bit of his being.  They were supposed to grow old together.  He mourned the loss of her, as well as the family that they would never have.  He had always wanted children.  When he finally admitted his feelings for Alex, he began to realize that maybe his hopes of having a family weren’t too far from being obtained.  When Alex had agreed to marry him, he was the happiest man in the world.  Once they were married, she truly became his family.  And, they had been hoping to add to that family as soon as possible.  Now, those dreams had ended. 

He couldn’t even imagine himself trying love again.  All the people he had loved in his life had been ripped away from him.  He couldn’t take anymore hurt, especially after losing Alex.  But, that wasn’t the real reason.  He knew that as long as he lived, no one would ever touch him, his heart, his mind, his body and soul the way that Alex did. 

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

The airline had had her remains flown home.  Although obviously Alex’s height, weight and hair color, the body had been so badly damaged in the crash and ensuing fire, that it was unidentifiable as Alex.  Only the seat that she had been in and some of her personal items in the overhead compartment that had survived the fire had served to identify her.

That Friday, a memorial service was held.  No one was surprised by the huge number of people that came.  In addition to being a highly respected Assistant District Attorney and wife of a famous Texas Ranger, she had also opened the HOPE house and organized women’s groups.  Everyone wanted to come and pay their last respects to a woman who had touched all of their lives.  Jimmy was pleased to see almost all of Company B there to show their support for Walker. 

Walker sat at the gravesite, unaware of the words that were being said.  He knew those words were supposed to comfort him, but he didn’t feel comforted.  In fact, he didn’t feel anything.  He was numb.  Walker remained completely still.  He didn’t cry.  He had cried all he could the day he had heard the news.  He knew C.D. and Jimmy were there on his left.  He could tell by the sniffles beside him, his two best friends were having troubles containing their emotions.  Gordon was on Walker’s right side.  He cried openly.  He was devastated at the loss of his daughter.  After many years apart, they had only recently found their way  back to each other. 

After it was over, they shook many hands and listened to many words.  Words that were meant to help, but didn’t.  The four saddened men drove back to Walker’s ranch.  C.D. made some coffee and sandwiches, but no one was really hungry.  They sat there in silence, not knowing what to do. 

Finally, Walker rose and uttered, “I’m going out for a ride.  Don’t wait up for me,” and he walked out the door. 

Gordon finally decided to turn in, his plane was leaving the next day and he needed to get some rest.

C.D. looked at Jimmy.  “Ya know, that little lady was like the glue that kept us together.  Don’t get me wrong, the three of us would have been friends even without her.  But, it was almost like she was what made us a family.  Having her around always seemed to balance us out, with her beauty and grace.  She smoothed over all of our rough edges.  What do you suppose is going to happen to us all now, without a woman’s touch?” 

“I don’t know, Big Dawg.  I don’t know,” Jimmy answered. 

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

In the weeks that followed, Walker threw himself into his work.  He made more arrests than any Ranger had in years.  He was like a man possessed.  His actions were often careless and reckless, and Jimmy was concerned that Walker was on the verge of losing it all or getting himself killed. It seemed that he was cutting himself off from his friends.  Walker had barely seen C.D. since the funeral.  Jimmy’s only contact with Walker was at work.  Walker never went to C.D.’s anymore after work, he simply went home to the ranch.  He was slowly isolating himself from the rest of the world.   Finally, Jimmy and C.D. decided to confront him.  They knew that the loss of Alex had been a terrible blow, but, they weren’t about to lose him as well. 

After a month of the reckless behavior from Walker, the two decided that it was time.   After Walker had left work for the ranch, Jimmy stopped by C.D.’s to pick up the retired Ranger.  Together, they drove out to Walker’s ranch, both knowing that it would probably be a long night. 

When they got to the ranch, they found Walker sitting on the back porch, watching the sunset, as if in a trance.  He didn’t even seem to notice their arrival until Jimmy cleared his throat. 

“What are you guys doing here?” Walker questioned. 

“Son, we’ve come to try and get through to you.  You need help,” C.D. said gently. 

“What I need is to be left alone!” he replied sharply. 

But, the two friends were prepared for this, and they were not going to be swayed.  “Man, you are on the verge of getting yourself killed at work.  Now, something has got to give.  We are your friends, and we are not going anywhere until you let us help you!” Jimmy almost yelled. 

Walker looked up, shaken by the force that Jimmy spoke with.  His partner almost never raised his voice to him. 

“Cordell, you know that you are not the only one who lost her.  Now, sure Jimmy and I didn’t love Alex in the same way that you did, but we loved her just the same.  Hell, you know that I thought of her as my own daughter.  Couldn’t have loved her anymore if she was.”

“And I was closer to her than my own sisters.  She was without a doubt the best female friend I have ever had.  Probably the best I will ever have,” Jimmy added. 

“Son, the point is, you’re not the only one who is missing her.  We all do.  But, don’t you think that it is better for us to be missing her together, than all alone.  Do you really think that you cutting yourself off from the rest of the world is what Alex would want?  If you do, then you didn’t know that little lady as well as I thought you did.” 

Walker listened to C.D.’s words carefully.  Walker knew he was right.  Alex would hate to see him cutting himself off from the people that loved him.  He imagined she would probably even be angry with him for doing it.  The thought brought a slight smile, the first since the crash. 

Finally, he spoke to the two friends confronting him.  He knew that they were only there because they cared about him.  “You’re right C.D.  I know that.  But, I just can’t seem to get past the pain of her being gone.  Part of me just can’t accept the fact that she really is gone.  I feel so alone without her.  And so incredibly sad.”

“Cordell, that is to be expected.  But, you are not alone.  You have Jimmy and me, and Alex is always with you.  She’s in your heart, son.  Nothing can ever change that.  As for being sad, well, try remembering all the good times that you two had together.  She would want you to have happy memories of her, not sad ones.”

“Walker, have you thought about going up to the reservation to spend some time with White Eagle?” Jimmy asked.  “Maybe he could help you put things into perspective.” 

“Yeah, Pard, I think that is exactly what I need to do,” Walker agreed. 

“Why don’t we go in and I’ll make us some supper,” C.D. suggested. 

The three men went inside and spent the night talking about all of the good times that they had spent as friends.  Each one recalled special memories that they had of Alex.  It was a healing experience for all three.  When, at midnight, C.D. and Jimmy finally walked to their car, Walker could feel some of the weight that he had been carrying around begin to lift off of his shoulders.  He was thankful that he had two friends that cared so much about him.  He knew that he had taken the first step toward healing.  The next day he left for the reservation.

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

 Walker returned from the reservation two weeks later, feeling refreshed.  He had finally made some peace with his loss and had found a way to help deal with the pain.  He still missed Alex terribly, but he was now better able to accept her loss.  He still spent most nights dreaming of her.  She seemed so real.  It was almost as if he could still feel her presence.  But, when morning would come, he would wake up alone once again.

The three friends began to reestablish their routine of eating breakfast, lunch and supper together at C.D.’s.  Jimmy and C.D. were greatly relieved to see that Walker was doing so much better.  His actions at work were no longer reckless.  Life was slowly returning to normal.    Time began to pass. 

Suddenly, it was Thanksgiving.  As was their tradition, the three spent the holiday at Walker’s ranch.  All three were thankful for the powerful friendship that had withstood the past several months.  Yet, all three also thought of how much they missed Alex.  Her absence was especially felt at a time like this. 

December was passing by quickly.  Walker and Trivette finally busted the drug ring case that they had been working on since Alex’s plane crashed.  It had taken them much longer to bring down the leaders than they had originally thought, but it had been worth it.  It was one of the largest drug busts in Texas history. 

Christmas would be in a couple of days, and Walker was thinking of Alex more than ever.  Christmas was Alex’s favorite time of the year.  This should have been their first Christmas together.  The first of many.  Instead, he would be spending it alone.  Well, not completely alone.  C.D. and Jimmy would be out at the ranch Christmas Eve.  They would spend the night and stay Christmas day.  None of them wanted to spend the holidays alone.  And, as C.D. had put it, “You are supposed to spend the holidays with your family.  And you two are my family.”  Walker and Jimmy had both smiled at that statement.  Walker, especially thought about how wrong he was to think that Alex was his only family.  C.D. and Jimmy were as much apart of his family as any two people could be. 

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

It was noon on Christmas Eve.  They had gotten off work early for the holiday.  Jimmy and C.D. wouldn’t be out until later that evening for supper.  Walker had the ranch to himself.  He pulled up and parked his RAM and went inside.  He had a lot on his mind today.  He had been thinking about making some changes in his life, but he was unsure.  He would have to talk to her about it.

He was sitting in the kitchen at the table.  A framed picture of her was in front of him on the table. “There is something I need to talk to you about.  I haven’t mentioned this before, but it is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.  The ranch…this house…there are just too many memories here.  Memories of you.  I don’t think I can live here anymore without you.  It’s just too painful.  Everything in this house makes me think of you.”  He paused.  “God, how I miss you.”  His eyes were red-rimmed and watery as he was close to tears.  He took his fingers and gently touched her cheek in the frame.

          Alex stood quietly in the doorway.  She caught her breath at the sight of him.  Her heart leapt at the sight of the man that she loved so much.  But, he wasn’t the same as when she had left.  He was much thinner now, and he looked as though time had suddenly caught up with him.  His faced looked so tired and weary.  She had caught her breath when he had spoken her name.  She was so unsure of what to do, now that she was here.  It took her a moment to realize that he was talking to the photograph on the table.  The words that he spoke caused her heart to break.  For it was then that she realized how terribly painful this had all been for Walker.  She knew she had to try to find a way for them to make it through this ordeal, together.

          “I’ve missed you too,” she whispered softly from the doorway.  She was unsure of what his reaction to her would be. 

          Walker turned his head slowly to the doorway, his face a picture of grief, sorrow and pain.  “Alex,” he whispered.  She nodded her head at him, tears streaming down her face.  She began to slowly cross the distance between them.  “No, this isn’t real.” He shook his head. “You’re not real, you can’t be,” he said as he tried to stand.

          “Oh, Walker!” she cried.  “Darling, I know this is difficult to understand, but it IS real!”  She took his hand and guided him back down to the chair.  She sat in the chair beside him and pulled it to face him.  She reached out and gently touched his cheek, just as he had done her photograph. 

          Walker felt like he had just received a huge jolt of electricity.  His heart told him that this WAS Alex’s touch, that she must be real.  His head told him it wasn’t possible.  It couldn’t be.  He struggled for a moment to try and find his voice.  Finally, he managed to get out, “How?…I…This isn’t possible...We…we buried you four months ago.  I was there.  I saw what was left of your body.”  A tear made its way down Walker’s cheek. 

          Alex felt like her heart had been torn in two.  “Oh, darling!” she cried.  “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.  I know this is a shock, but it IS real!”  She reached up and wiped away the tear from his cheek.  “I know how difficult this must be for you.  Will you let me tell you what happened?”  She waited to see if he was ready to listen to her story.  He didn’t say anything, but finally he gave her a brief nod of his head.  She could see the shock on his face, in his eyes.  It was mingled together there with disbelief.  She took a deep breath and then proceeded to tell him the story of how they were separated. 

          “That day on the plane,” she began.  “I was seated by the aisle.  After we were in the air, a woman came to my seat.  Walker, she looked so similar to me.  She had my same build, my same hair color.  She said that I was sitting beside her husband.  They had planned to go together to Dallas, but she had been unsure of whether or not she would be able to go until the last minute.  When she did make a reservation for herself, she was unable to be seated with her husband.  The only seat available was in the very back of the plane.  She asked me if I would mind switching seats with her so she could sit with him.  Since I was traveling alone, I agreed.  I left my briefcase in the overhead compartment, deciding that I would get it when the plane landed.” 

          She paused to study Walker.  His eyes never left her face while she was talking.  She could tell that he was listening to every word she said, trying to understand how it was possible.  As she explained about the seat switch, she could see the hope beginning to build in his eyes.  She reached down and took his hand, trying to reassure him that she was indeed there with him. 

          “Something went wrong and the plane started going down.  I remember the people screaming.”  She smiled slightly when she felt him gently squeeze her hand.  This was a good sign.  “ I don’t remember anything about the actual crash.  They told me that the tail of the plane was broken off from the rest of the aircraft.  They said that there were only six survivors of the crash, all seated in the very back of the plane.”  He nodded his recognition of that fact. 

          “I don’t understand.  The crash was four months ago.  Alex, what happened in all that time?”  He was trying to wrap his mind around the fact that his dead wife might actually be alive.  He couldn’t think of what could have kept her away for so long. 

          “After the crash, they took me to a hospital in New York.  I was in a coma for a month.  When I finally woke up, I didn’t remember anything.  I had total amnesia.  I couldn’t remember who I was or where I was from.  Walker, everything about our life together was gone.”  She was crying softly as she remembered how frightening it had been to not know her own identity.  It was as if she had been a stranger to herself. 

          Walker sat and processed all that she told him.  It was true, he knew.  He could feel it.  Suddenly, he felt the weight that he had carried around for months lift off of his chest.  “Alex,” he said.  “I can’t believe you are really here!  I have spent so much time wishing for this to happen.”  He lightly touched under her elbow, indicating that he wanted her to stand up with him.  She rose slowly.  He embraced her tightly.  It was almost as if their bodies melted into one. 

          At that moment, Alex finally felt as though she had made it home.  “This is where home will always be, in Walker’s arms.  Nothing else matters when I’m in his arms,” she thought.  She knew in her heart that they would be able to put the strain of the past four months behind them, together, and move forward with their lives.  They clung together for a long time, both with tears in their eyes this time.    They stood that way, both relishing the feeling of the other’s body entwined with their own.  It was almost as if time stood still while they embraced.  Finally, Alex leaned back and looked up at Walker.

          “Walker, I can’t tell you how sorry I’m that you had to go through this.  I would never want to hurt you.  I’m sorry that it has taken this long for me to find my way back to you.”

          “I love you, Alex.  I love you, and it doesn’t matter how long you have been gone.  What matters is that you are here, alive and well, with me.  There is nothing in this world that could make me happier than you have made me right now.”

          Alex smiled at him.  “I love you too, Walker.  You know, it is strange, even when I didn’t know anything about myself, there were times when I felt such a strong feeling of love.  I knew that there must still be someone out there that I had a strong connection with.  But, it was more than that.  Sometimes, especially at night, I would get the most powerful feeling that I was loved by someone.  I just didn’t know who that person was.  Even thousands of miles away and without my memory, Walker, I could feel your love.  It is what kept me going each day.  The hope that someone was out there.” 

          “I guess the same is true for me in some ways.  I think that is one reason why this has all been so difficult.  Alex, I could still feel you with me.  It was as if you were lost somewhere and I couldn’t find you.  But, I thought that we really had buried you, and that what I was feeling just wasn’t possible.  I guess now I know why my heart was telling me to hold on to you so strongly.”

          “Alex, you said that you had amnesia.  When did your memory finally return?”

          Alex sat back down in the chair, took a deep breath and began to tell him her story. “When I woke up that day in the hospital, three months ago, I didn’t know anything.  I didn’t know my name, where I was from, anything.  The doctors told me not to panic, that this was not unusual after the trauma that I had been through.  They told me that my name was Sarah Carter, because that was the name of the woman I switched seats with.  Sarah’s husband died in the crash.  As it turned out, Sarah had no other family, at least none that came to see about her after the crash.”

          She looked down as she remembered waking up in the hospital that day.  She closed her eyes to try and block out the memories of all the confusion and fear.  Walker reached for her hand and gently squeezed it.  She looked up and he smiled gently at her. 

          “It’s okay, I’m here now.  Can you tell me the rest?” he asked.

          She smiled up at him.  “Yes.”  She continued,  “Everyone told me that I was Sarah.  The only problem was that the name meant nothing to me, which was really frustrating.  I remained in the hospital for another month, still recovering from injuries sustained in the crash.  I began to live my life as Sarah Carter.  I answered to her name and gave her name when people asked me what mine was.  I assumed her identity.  After a month, the doctors decided I was well enough to leave.  The only problem was that I didn’t have anything.  I had no clothes and no money.  One of the nurses helped me to get settled into a woman’s shelter.  I got a job waiting tables in a coffee shop.  I made enough money to buy a few clothes and some food.”  She stopped again, remembering the circumstances that her life was in such a short time ago. 

          “I’m sorry, Alex.  I should never have stopped looking for you.  I let you down.”

          “Oh, Walker!  You did no such thing.  You had no reason to believe that I didn’t die in that crash.  You couldn’t have known!  Please don’t blame yourself for this.  It isn’t your fault.  It just happened.  Okay, honey?” she asked. 

          He dropped his head and reluctantly nodded his agreement, still thinking to himself that he should have done more.  He should have known.  He looked up at her.  “When did the memories start to come back?”

  “Actually, just two days ago. The doctors had told me that my memories might begin to come back gradually, piece by piece, or suddenly all at once.  It was definitely the later,” she giggled.  “I was sitting in the living room of the women’s shelter that I had been staying in.  I was flipping through the channels trying to find something to watch on TV.  I happened to stop on CNN and watched as they gave the highlights of the news state by state.  Before I knew it, they were talking about a huge drug bust down in Texas.  They showed you and Jimmy outside the courthouse after arresting Peter Sanchez.”

Walker nodded as he remembered the chaos the other day.  It had been one of the largest drug rings in Texas history.  He wasn’t surprised that it made the national news. 

“At that moment, when I saw you there, my memories came flooding back.  It was one of the most intense experiences that I have ever had.  One moment I had no clue about any of my past, and the next I remembered every detail of my life.  Walker, I remembered everything, and I knew.  I knew that the feelings of love that I had been getting for months had been you!  You are what brought me back here and made me whole again.  Without you, I would still be trying to live my life as Sarah Carter.”  Tears were once again staining her face. 

Walker cupped her cheek in his hand.  “Sshh…” he whispered.  “It’s okay now.  I’m so glad that your memories came back.  I can’t tell you how much it frightens me, thinking of you out there alive, yet living a life separate from me.  I’m so thankful that your memories did come back.”  With that he leaned over and began kissing the tears from her face. “I love you,” he whispered.  “I love you so much, Alex Cahill.” 

“Walker!”  she said sharply. 

“What’s wrong Alex?” he asked, eager to soothe her.

“My name. It’s Alex Walker.  And, I have never been happier in my life to be able to say that.”

He smiled at her, then leaned over and kissed her lips lightly.  They both stood up again as they felt the sparks begin to turn into a smoldering fire.  They kissed each other deeply, passionately, each conveying the desire that had been unfulfilled for so long.  Finally, they broke the kiss off, each in need of oxygen. 

“Walker, there is something else that I need to tell you.  You may need to sit back down again.”  He looked up at her.  She was suddenly very serious.  He began to get a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach.  He sat back down, nervously, watching her face intently. 

Once he was seated, Alex once again sat beside him.  She took his hand and squeezed it.  She looked deeply into his eyes and finally, she began to speak.  “Walker, when I was in the hospital, the doctors discovered something.  Something that I didn’t know about before I left you, here in Dallas.  Walker, I’m not quite sure how to tell you this.”

Walker’s mind was beginning to spin.  He started to prepare himself for the worst. ‘She’s dying…’ he thought to himself.

“I’m pregnant.”

“What?”  Walker knew he hadn’t heard her right.  He had prepared himself for the worst possible news.  What he heard came as a complete and total surprise.  “What did you say?”

“Walker, we’re gonna have a baby!”  She paused for a minute.  “Are you happy, honey?” she asked.  She wasn’t sure how he would react. 

“I…I’m….uh…..pregnant?”  he asked in a weak voice.  For the first time he looked closely at his wife.  Her stomach was indeed swollen with child.  In his shock at seeing her, he hadn’t even noticed.  “We’re going to have a baby?”

“In about three months.  The doctors say that it is a miracle that I didn’t lose the baby in the crash.  It is one of the reasons why they kept me in the hospital for so long.”

“Alex, I don’t know what to say.  One minute I’m sitting here missing you terribly.  The next you are here, alive and well.  Not only that, we are going to have a baby!  I couldn’t possibly be any happier!”  He stood and picked her up and twirled her around the room. 

Alex laughed at his excitement. 

“You really are here?  I’m not dreaming this am I?”

“No, darling, WE’RE really here,” she said as she patted her stomach. 

Walker kissed her hard, expressing his deepest feelings for this woman who had such a lock on his heart.  “This is the best Christmas present I could have ever wished for,” he said huskily.  “I love you!”

“I love you, too Cowboy!” 

They stood their embracing each other in the kitchen.  Finally, Walker leaned back and asked, “How did you manage to get back here to Dallas?”

Sitting back down once more, Alex explained. “After my memories returned, my first reaction was to call you immediately.  But, I decided that a surprise phone call wasn’t exactly the best way to go about things.  Since I was in New York, I decided to go and see Daddy.  Walker, I really wanted for you to be the first person I saw, but, it just seemed to work out this way.”  Walker was shaking his head as if to say OK.  “I went to see Daddy after I knew he would be home from work.  He was so shocked, I think that I nearly gave him a heart attack.  But, eventually he recovered and he was so happy.  It was like we had been given a second chance all over again.  He was so excited when he found out about the baby.  I spent the night at his place.  The next day, he made me an airline reservation and took me shopping since I had virtually no clothes.  Maternity clothes.  Every time I would buy something, I would outgrow it in a matter of weeks.”

“I went to bed early yesterday so that I would be well rested when I got home to you.  My plane got in about 10:00.  I took a cab out here and waited for you to get home.  I think I had fallen asleep upstairs on our bed.”  She stopped and looked adoringly at her husband.  “I can’t tell you how much I missed this place.  How much I missed you.”

“Alex, I don’t have the words to tell you how happy I am that you are here.  Or how much I ached for you while you were gone.  It was as if my world dissolved the day they told us that you were dead.  I felt so alone without you.  I don’t want to feel that way ever again.”  Trying to lighten the mood a little, he grinned, “Parents, huh?  That’ll take a little getting used to.”

“Well, you better get used to it soon.  Unfortunately for you, you don’t get the traditional 9 months to prepare.  You only get 3.  But, I think that you will be able to handle it,” Alex replied coyly.  “You are happy about the baby?” she asked hesitantly.

“Alex, I would be lying if I said that the idea isn’t somewhat overwhelming, what with everything that has happened today.  But, you know how badly I want to have a family with you.  So, yes, honey, I couldn’t be happier!”

“You know, all the time that I didn’t have my memory, it was frustrating not knowing who I was.  But, I thought that this baby would grow up without a father.  As far as I knew, its father died in the crash.   I was so scared of the thought of raising this child by myself.”  Tears had started to fill her eyes again.  Walker could see that all the emotions were starting to take their toll on her. 

“Sshh, its okay.  I’m am here and you are right where you belong.  You have your memory back, and we still have three months before this baby is going to be born.  Everything is just perfect.  Not to mention that it is Christmas Eve!” 

  They had moved out into the living room during their discussion, and now they were sitting in curled up in each other’s arms on the couch.  They sat there holding each other contently.

 Finally, Alex spoke.  “Speaking of Christmas, this is our first Christmas together, and I want it to be just perfect!”

“I don’t see how it could possibly get any better now that you are here.”

“Well, a tree would be a good start.  I can’t believe you don’t have a Christmas tree up!  We had better get busy if we are going to have this place looking great before Jimmy and C.D. get here,” Alex ordered. 

“How did you know that they were coming?” Walker asked.

“How else would you be spending the holidays?  I did say that I got my memory back.  I’m not dense you know!”  she joked. 

“I’ve missed you so much!” he leaned over and kissed her again on the lips.  “Alright, I’ll make you a deal.  I’ll go out and get us a tree, while you go and lie down for a little while.  You look like you and the baby could use some rest.  I will wake you when I get back and you can help me decorate it.  How would that be?”

“Well, as much as I don’t want to let you leave my sight, I am somewhat exhausted, and I probably should get some rest.  It will be a long night once C.D. and Jimmy get here.  Promise me you will be right back?”

“I promise.”  With that he picked up his pregnant wife and carried her upstairs to their bedroom.  He gently placed her on the bed.  He leaned over and gently kissed her forehead, nose, cheeks and lips.  “I missed you so much.” He whispered.  “I love you.”

She smiled, “I love you, too, Cowboy.  I love you too!  Now hurry back!” 

“I will!” 

He rose and walked to the doorway.  She closed her eyes and began to drift off to sleep.  Walker stood in the doorway watching her.  He knew that nothing else could ever warm his heart as much as his beautiful wife, pregnant with their child, asleep on their bed.  He felt like his heart was about to burst.  Reluctantly, he turned and walked out to go and get the tree that he knew she wanted. 

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

Supper was already in the oven when C.D. and Jimmy pulled up at the ranch at 7:30.  Walker greeted his two friends warmly at the door.  Both C.D. and Jimmy immediately noticed something was different about Walker.  He seemed genuinely happy and at peace.  Neither could remember a time since the crash when he seemed so at ease.  Not only that, the inside of the house was completely decorated for Christmas.  The pair was stunned.  They had been there two days earlier, and none of the decorations had been present.

“Son, what is going on here?” C.D. asked confused by the sudden change in Walker’s demeanor as well as the appearance of the house.

“What do you mean, C.D.?”  Walker countered with a wide grin on his face.  

“Look at him, Big Dawg.  He looks like the cat who ate the canary.  Alright, Pard, out with it.”

Walker ignored the statement.  “Why don’t you guys come in and have a seat.  I have a present for you both.”  Walker could barely contain his excitement, although he was concerned about what the shock might do to C.D.’s health. 

“Now, Son, I thought we had agreed we were going to wait until tomorrow to exchange gifts.  Can’t this wait until then?” 

  Walker was anxious.  “No, C.D., this present can’t wait.  Besides, it is as much for me as it is for you.  Now, would you just sit?”

C.D. and Jimmy both took seats on the couch. “Alright, Man, we are sitting.  What is it already!”

Walker just stood in the middle of the room smiling.  He turned and looked up at the top of the stairway.  C.D. and Jimmy both followed his gaze.  Neither could believe what they saw.  Alex stood standing at the top of the staircase.  The soft lights in the room and her beautiful golden hair gave her an angelic appearance.  She flashed them a brilliant smile and slowly started to descend the stairs. 

“Dear Lord,” C.D. managed.  “Darlin’ is that really you?”

“Oh my God,” Jimmy uttered, stunned, as he tried to get to his feet.  “Alex?”

C.D.’s eyes began to fill with water.  He put his hand to his heart.  Walker started to go over to him, worried for his mentor’s health.  He eyed him cautiously and decided that his old friend was just in shock. 

Jimmy finally made it to his feet.  He shook his head.  “This can’t be happening.  Counselor, is that really you?”  He reached out towards Alex. 

Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, she spoke solemnly, “Yes, Jimmy, its really me.”  She smiled at him brightly and her eyes began to mist again.  She walked into his arms, and he hugged her tightly.  After he released her, she leaned up and kissed him on the cheek.  She them turned to see C.D., leaving Jimmy standing there in shock. 

“C.D.?” she asked hesitantly.  She and Walker were both worried that the shock would be too much for him.  She sat down on the couch beside him, facing him.  She reached over and took his hand.  “Are you okay?”

          “Little lady, this is the best I’ve been in months!”  Tears began to slide down his cheeks.  “I just can’t believe you’re really here!”

Walker had been standing back witnessing the whole scene with a smile on his face.  He knew that the two friends loved and cared about his wife almost as much as he did.  He was glad to be able to share his happiness with them. 

Jimmy was still having a difficult time processing what had just happened.  Finally, he found his voice again.  “How is this possible?  I don’t understand, the airline…the body…how?” 

Alex was prepared for this.  “Why don’t you sit down, and I will tell you everything.”  Jimmy nodded his consent, sat down in a chair and waited to hear her story. 

Walker moved and sat on the arm of the couch, beside Alex.  He knew that the whole experience was still somewhat difficult for her to talk about.  He wanted to reassure her with his presence. 

Alex began to tell C.D. and Jimmy about switching seats on the plane, about what she knew of the crash, about waking up in the hospital with amnesia, and finally about how she had regained her memory.  At times, Walker would step in and continue with what he knew while Alex worked to keep her tears in check.  The four sat in silence after she finished her story.  Their two friends were speechless.  Neither could imagine how horrible of an experience it must have been for Alex. 

It was C.D. who finally broke the silence. “Darlin’, I can’t imagine how awful it was for you, not knowing who you were all that time.  But, I do know, that things around here weren’t the same without you.  We all missed you somethin’ fierce.”  His eyes had started to water again.  He looked up at the others and said, “I have my whole family back together again.” 

With that, Alex leaned over and hugged him tightly. “C.D., I’m so glad to be back,” she said emotionally.  

 Jimmy had been listening intently to the story.  He stared at Alex as she spoke with C.D.  His eyes widened as he finally took in her appearance.  Finally, he spoke, “Alex, is there…uh…something else you wanted to tell us?”

“What?” she looked up at him.  Suddenly she noticed he was staring at her very swollen stomach. 

“That’s the best part, Jimmy.  Walker and I are having a baby!”  She was positively beaming with happiness. 

Both C.D. and Jimmy looked up, stunned, to see Walker grinning broadly.

“I’ve got to sit down!” said Jimmy.

Both Walker and Alex laughed.  “See, I told you this present was as much for me as it was for you!” said Walker.

The End