Ideas emanating from the episode, Vision Quest - with apologies to scriptwriter, Rob Wright .

Vision Quest Links
By Pam Gooderham

            “Help! Somebody help!”

            Panic almost ran away with her.

Looking at Walker ’s still, lifeless form, Alex fought for calmness.

The Texas Ranger lay on his back, unconscious; the effects of the bomb blast evident by the burn marks on his face.

Alex wanted to tell him to get up! This wasn’t how Walker should be!

They had just announced they were getting married! They should be celebrating!

 Yet again, Walker had put the safety of others first and now he was paying the price.

Those thoughts caused a deep sob to escape, and despite her head reeling, Alex fought to keep strong.

The blond, deputy district attorney looked upwards! Thank God people were running towards them to help.

            Trivette stood, hauling up his prisoner as he did so, while nodding his thanks to Gage for running out to watch his back. Trivette threw the suspect in his colleague’s direction and dusted dirt off his pants. “Well, I’m not sure why he made Walker suspicious, but since he ran, I reckon he must be feeling guilty about something!”

            BOOM!

            Both men instinctively bent lower, and for the barest moment froze, only for their heads to snap towards the sound of the explosion.

“Hold on to that son of bitch!” Trivette ran for all he was worth towards the bar and grill. Deep in the pit of his stomach he knew something was very, very wrong.

ALEX!”

JIMMY! Oh God.”

Alex’s eyes guided him to view her fiancé, and in a full-pelt running slide, Walker ’s partner knelt next to the two people he loved as much as his own family.

 Trivette’s mouth fell open in dismay and he looked quickly from side to side. Some how he found his voice. “Ambulance?”

             “On it’s way.” Sydney crouched next to them.

Feeling totally helpless, they could only look at their fallen friend.

Walker ’s face was becoming more inflamed by the second, the skin’s surface red, and the area around his eyes skinned.

Blisters formed as they watched.

Walker ’s partner tried to think. “Quick,” He looked up to view some of the regular C.D. patrons standing nearby, “get me a clean cloth and ice water!”

Although it seemed longer, it was less than a minute before the cloth was gently placed over the top of Walker ’s nose, eyes and forehead. Using a glass, Trivette steadily poured the freezing water from the ice bucket over the upper part of his partner’s face.

Walker barely murmured, but it was enough for Alex to grip his hand in reassurance – probably as much for her own need as his – and within minutes they were speeding to Methodist Hospital .

            “I’ve already called Dr. Stevens from Chicago to come and examine him further. Dr. Stevens is the top eye specialist in the nation; he’ll be able to tell you more than I can. Right now he’s heavily sedated, so…best thing we can do is let him rest.”

The doctor stayed a few seconds more and left, replaced a few minutes later by Gage and Sydney.

The two newest Rangers were shocked to see Walker with his face completely bandaged, and to experience the horror of knowing their boss, friend, and mentor may not have the use of his sight.

Sydney and Gage knew they would never rest until the suspect was prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They left shortly a few minutes later to question the man they had in custody.

            Finally, only Alex and Trivette remained in the room.

There was total silence. Fear and dread settled like a morbid shroud.

            In a trembling whisper Alex asked, “What if …if he can’t see again?”

            Her friend tightly gripped her hand, both unable to take their eyes off Walker .

            “We’ll …we’ll be there for him. Help him all we can.” It was more than a statement or a suggestion; Jimmy Trivette had made a solemn vow.

            “He won’t like it.”

            Walker ’s partner nodded and sighed deeply. “I know.”

Trivette gently reached out and tilted up Alex’s teary face to look at her. “You know what C.D. would say now?” he asked in his gentlest tone.

As Alex nodded, so did he, confirming, “We have to think good thoughts. Right?”

Alex cuddled into Trivette’s arms. The taller man enveloped her and kissed the top of her head. It was a moment of brother and sisterly love in an insane and confusing world.

Eventually, Alex persuaded Jimmy to join Gage and Sydney interrogating the suspect who had planted the bomb.  Alex could tell Jimmy hadn’t wanted to leave them, but she had convinced him to follow up while the evidence was fresh and to stop by in the morning. The least he could do for Walker was to jail the son of a bitch and to find out why.

Why? Alex sighed heavily. One minute she and Walker were wonderfully happy after announcing their plans to marry in May - and now this. The tears welled up again. There was never a thought if she could live with Walker being blind, only …how? The blissful dream before them was now rocky and uncertain, and Alex’s stomach lurched with anxiety.

            From around ten o’clock in the evening Walker had periodically shown signs of coming out of sedation, and now, a few minutes after three o’clock in the morning, his consciousness briefly surfaced.

Frightened he might come around and be confused she had barely catnapped, and now her intuition proved right. She just caught his hand as it went to pull away the bandages.

            “No, honey. No,” Alex whispered as softly and kindly as she could.

            Walker ’s voice was barely audible. “What…?”

            Sshh, darling.” Alex held down both his hands, but Walker began to struggle.

 Although in his weakened state she overpowered his feeble efforts, she knew her man well enough to know he would not like to feel trapped. Accordingly, she tried to calm him another way, and released him as her free hand caressed the very top of his head, away from his injuries.

            “Darling, it’s Alex. Listen, honey. You saved everyone from the bomb at C.D.’s. Remember?”

Her ploy worked and Walker ’s struggle ceased. “But the bomb went off and you were hurt. You’re in hospital.”

            This time Walker didn’t try to take off the eye covering, instead his fingers felt around the padding.

            “Your eyes got hurt the worst. But you’re going to be okay.” Alex’s love was evident in every word and every gesture. It calmed the man she adored. Taking hold of his hands she kissed them this time, softly continuing. “But you need rest, my darling. I’ll be here beside you, I promise. Sshh. Go back to sleep. Just rest …rest ...” And once again her hand reverently caressed his hair. Walker ’s steady breathing indicated he was asleep again, and now exhausted, Alex also closed her eyes in slumber.

The closing door faded both Dr Steven ’s footsteps and noises from the outside world. Everyone was going about their normal business, Alex thought erratically, but Walker has just been told he may permanently lose his sight! What’s wrong with them? A tragedy was happening and they act as if nothing has happened!

The doctor had said ‘…but yes, there is a possibility, Ranger Walker, that you will not get your sight back!’

 Alex was aware of the heavy silence that had fallen about the room – she felt sick, her stomach unsettled and her head pounded. She couldn’t even imagine what Walker must be feeling. Dear God. What would they do? How would he handle it?

Although Alex didn’t agree with Walker ’s decision to go back to the ranch, she respected it. But would Walker be able to cope without professional help? It was too early to tell, she reasoned. She slipped her fingers into his hand and squeezed, relieved to get a strong grip in response.

Strangely, neither spoke, they just tightly held each other’s hands, and before too long they were interrupted by breakfast, nurses to change the dressings, and then an administrator to deal with the paperwork so they could leave the hospital.

            At mid afternoon they began the journey home. Walker seemed to be coping as well as he could, but Alex nearly lost her composure when they arrived at the ranch and got out the car. She held on to his arm.

“What are you thinking?” she asked.

“Oh, I was just thinking - how you can take something for granted, until you no longer have it.” Alex fought back the tears and rallied when he continued, “Uhhm… can we go for a walk before going in?”

            They slowly strolled around the ranch, Walker trying to get used to his lack of vision. He stumbled frequently and tightly hung on to her arm, until, towards the end, the Ranger regained some of his equilibrium. He seemed pretty satisfied at his progress and Alex couldn’t help but admire him. She wished he would have taken the easier option and stayed at the hospital for the rehabilitation program, but that wasn’t his way she thought with a resigned sigh. Her admiration continued as, later, she watched him answer the telephone, and they chatted about Trivette’s progress with the case while she prepared dinner. Alex wanted it to be special; preparing one of his favorites - turkey meat loaf - a dish she hoped would be relatively easy to eat.

Things seemed as well as they could until Walker accidentally knocked over his glass of water. His obvious embarrassment appeared to devastate his confidence, and afterwards she could barely get much conversation from him. Then the real bombshell hit.

            “You must be tired Walker . How about going to bed? I’ve checked, your spare bed’s already made up and I’ll be fine there.”

            “It’s not necessary. You go home.”

            Alex’s jaw dropped. “I can’t go home.”

            Walker stood, retaining hold of her arm, gently tugging until she stood up too. “Sure you can. I’ll be fine.”

            “ Walker !”

Alex, I have to do this alone.” And reaching the front door he opened it to escort her through.

“Why are you being this way?”

They entered the night and stepped on to the illuminated porch, Walker firmly closing door behind them.

“I have to find out if I can handle this, Alex. And I can’t do that with you leading me around by the arm.”

“Okay – I won’t,” she was fraught, her voice breathy, “I mean, but don’t push me away. I love you! I want to be here with you.”

But Walker was adamant. “Goodnight, Alex.” And he turned on his heel, “I love you, too,” and the door closed behind him.

Uncharacteristically, Alex raised her voice, “ Don’t you do this to me,” then shouted, “THIS IS JUST YOUR STUBBORN PRIDE!”

Tiredness, shock and disbelief overwhelmed her, and she disconsolately sat on the brick step, a high pitched emotional mumble escaping her lips “Don’t you do this to me…”

The horror of seeing Walker hurt by the bomb, the devastating prospect he may be blind for life along with lack of sleep took it’s due toll. 

And Alex wept.

            Once inside, Walker rested his back against the door and inhaled deeply. He felt awful. His world was upside down – he hated to hurt Alex, but he had to find his own way. Surely she would appreciate that in the morning?

He waited. He could hear her crying and it all but broke his heart. She stayed there for a few minutes, and just as Walker couldn’t stand it any longer and was about to gather her in his arms and try to make her understand, he heard her tiny footsteps run towards her car.

He knew this wasn’t right. He had to go after her. Walker ’s hands looked for the door handle but came up empty. Were his hands too high? Too far to the right? He had to go after her. Frustration burst from the pit of his stomach at the sound of her car roaring into life and pulling away. He couldn’t call her back now.

The Texas Ranger’s fist rammed into the wall, and then in despair Walker held his head in his hands. The emotions between his own problems and Alex ripped him apart. It was difficult to know which he felt worse about, but he had wanted to be on his own and he prayed she would realize his need to conquer these demons. So, now he had his wish, Walker thought what to do.

He hated the smell of hospital antiseptic. Somehow he had to try taking a shower, but how would he do that?

There was a hole in the middle of each eye patch to ensure there was no added pressure on the eyes themselves, and Stevens had said to be careful and avoid getting the surrounds of his eyes wet for three or four days.

The Texas Ranger thought it through. Take off the bandages and hold the patches over his eyes with one hand, while carefully backing into the spray to wash his hair. He would then re-bandage his eyes and shower from the neck down. That should do it, Walker reckoned!

Walker found the light switches easily enough and turned off the living room and hall lights, only to shake his head, suddenly struck by the illogic of his actions.

He found his way upstairs and felt the way to his room and then the bathroom, and turned on the shower taps to the full position. Spray, noise and steam were welcome company.

The shower having gone as planned but having taken longer than anticipated, now dripping wet, Walker wrapped a towel around his torso and sat on the edge of the bed and reached for the phone, the agonizing sounds of hearing Alex’s sobs as she sat outside still replaying in his mind.

He had been too harsh. He should have tried to explain how he felt a different way, but Alex could be just as stubborn. She could twist him around her little finger and most times he would either enjoy it or allow it under sufferance. But this time, although he had to do this himself, he should have tried harder to make her understand. He’d hurt her, and it grieved him.

Alex’s phone rang until her voice mail kicked in and he waited for the beep to proceed with his message. Maybe she had gone straight to bed?

Alex. About tonight. I - dang I hate these things - I hope you understand this is something I had to do. I’ll call you in the morning.” There was a few seconds silence, “I love you,” he added.

The Texas Ranger held the phone in his hands for a further few seconds before wistfully replacing the receiver.

Walker ’s mind raced. He hoped she had got home okay. She was upset. Picturing the phone’s keypad in his minds eye, with alarm growing inside him his fingers slowly felt for the buttons to dial Alex’s cell phone, but after considerable static a disembodied voice advised him the party he was trying to contact had switched off their phone or was out of range. It offered an option to either leave a message or try again later.

Walker hung up in disgust. She must have gone straight to bed he reasoned. He dried off and got into bed, but it was a restless night of tossing, turning and the most vivid, ugly dreams he’d ever had.

Still restless at 5.30am , after throwing back the bedcovers the Ranger finally sat up. He would dress and make coffee.

            The sound of breaking glass woke Alex from her shallow sleep. This was her second night of sleepless turmoil.

Unable to reconcile leaving Walker , she had returned some ten minutes later only to toss and turn the night away in her car. Thank God it hadn’t been too cold. A crashing sound from the house was heard again and Alex frowned.  Panic slowly emanating from her stomach, Alex threw open the door of her car and ran over, entering to find the place nearly ransacked. “Oh, God!”

            Walker knew he was in front of the mirror in the downstairs bathroom. He knew he had taken off the bandages and now he expected to see  – to put this nightmare behind him – to make it all go away.

He should be looking at himself, but there was nothing.

No image.

Not a glimmer of light or even a shadow. There was nothing but blackness and his

soul chilled to the core, freezing him in time and in space.

It was real. He was blind.

Walker ’s mind reeled. Oh God …oh dear God. Please help me. Help me.

Hardly able to breathe, Alex stared at Walker through the mirror. He was as physically and mentally crushed as Alex had ever seen him. The upper part of his face, blistered, scabbed and skinned, held useless eyes.  Somehow, for his sake, Alex knew she must keep calm. And they were both tired – fighting exhaustion wouldn’t help them overcome the ordeal.

She thought quickly, and gently touching his arms eased him back towards the stool where he sat down, obviously numbed and shocked.

            “Here,” Alex said as normally as she was able, “let me put in your eye drops for you.”

Once Walker was seated she gently placed a hand under his chin, “Tilt back your head.” The drops went in easily in Walker ’s right eye, then as she finished the other a droplet escaped, running down the side of his face.

            “Oops,” and his fiancée prized away the bandages still held in Walker ’s hand, “let me get that.” and she lightly dabbed away the errant liquid. Putting the old dressing in the small trash basket, reaching to the bathroom shelf Alex withdrew two new patches. She had already recovered them the day before, so they were prepared with small holes in the center. The fresh bandage was soon around Walker ’s head and secured with tape. During all this time he hadn’t moved or spoken, and finally, unable to help herself, her left hand slipped over his shoulders, and with her other hand, Alex slowly drew his head into her chest. Once safely positioned her lips and nose reverently nuzzled the top of his head while she repeatedly kissed the area.

            “If I could take this away for you.  If I could make it better…”

            Walker’s shoulders sagged, and his body weight came forward as if he were allowing her to take away the strain and burden, and they embraced for a long time, both thankful for the physical contact and the comfort each needed from the other. Alex knew it was time for her to take the lead.

            “This is what we’re going to do. You look exhausted, Walker , and God knows, I didn’t sleep much either. It’s not even seven o’clock yet, so we’re going back to bed for a few hours. Then we’ll get up, get the house cleaned up, and have a late breakfast.”

Alex didn’t wait for an answer, but pulled the Texas Ranger to his feet. “C’mon,” and when he stood with her, “there you go.”

She lead him first right and immediately left to face the staircase, “Okay, first step is in front of you,” and they ascended arm in arm.

            Once in the bedroom his fiancée guided him to the far side of the bed, and making him sit, helped remove his boots, socks, and then his shirt. Walker pulled at his belt buckle, unzipped his button and flies and took off his pants. Alex flipped over the sheet and blankets to cover him. Once Alex had folded his jeans and placed them on the chair, it took only seconds for her own clothes to be removed.

Dressed in a maroon bra and panties, Alex slipped beside him. She turned towards him on to her stomach to half lie on the man she loved to warm him. Walker felt cold to the touch. Gently rubbing the top of his shoulders for a few seconds, the blankets were replaced so they were higher over his body.

Alex reveled at being in a bed. After a night sitting in a hospital chair and last night in her car it was sheer relief to finally be horizontal. Her head lay on the pillow, her nose buried into the top of his shoulder, and her arm draped over his chest. At least for now she felt they were safe and secure.

As they lay, each occupied with their own thoughts, the bed became warmer and more comfortable. Walker hadn’t thought to open his curtains. They were made from a bright yellow material which cast a golden glow over the room, creating a peaceful, calming ambiance. The room reflected a single man and was sparse, having only the necessary furniture for basic requirements, along with two pictures and a few Native American artifacts on the walls.

            Feeling more tranquil and comfortable Alex nestled closer to Walker . Even in a relaxed state his body was solid with muscle. Surely, Alex thought, if their worst fears were realized and Walker was permanently blind, as long as they could cuddle up together at night wrapped in each other’s love, it wouldn’t be all bad, would it? Would it be enough for him? Would her love help him to overcome this terrible tragedy? Kissing his shoulder yet again, Alex sighed. As if in response to her thoughts, slowly Walker ’s tough hand first found her wrist, then covered her arm and gave a small squeeze.

Alex was sure this was the best thing for them, and if they got some rest things wouldn’t seem so impossible, she was sure of it. Within seconds they lay in an exhausted sleep within each other’s embrace.

            The exquisite contentment on waking revitalized the two soul mates. During four hours of slumber they had changed positions, Alex now appreciating Walker ’s strong arms enveloping her slim body. It was sheer bliss, and now being lucid of thought, Alex hoped this would help Walker regain any sense of ability or manliness he thought he might have lost. She fervently hoped so. She moved carefully, unsure whether he was still sleeping.

            “It’s okay. I’m awake.”

            “Hey.”

            “Hey.”

            Walker leaned forward to reciprocate her affections and they hugged.

            Very gently, Alex touched his lips and cheek, and her fingers gingerly crossed his bandaged eyes. Walker ’s lady was overcome with love.

            “ Walker ?” she whispered, “Are you …okay?” She felt his sigh before speaking.

            “Yeah.” Walker made no attempt to move; he was obviously comfortable just holding her.

            “Sure?”

            “I’m sure.”

            Perhaps now was the time for her to be vulnerable and candid. She sniffed loudly so, with him not being able to see he would guess her train of thought. “I smell awful! And I think I have morning mouth.”

            “Like a skunk’s armpit.”

            “ Walker !” But Alex was delighted to see the small smile that had appeared on his face.

            “I’m only kidding. C’mere.” And Walker kissed her again on the lips and pulled back. “Well, one out two isn’t bad.”

            “I smell?” Alex wrinkled her nose.

            “I had a shower last night, so it can’t be me.”

            The disappointment of last night came flooding back, but Alex stopped from reliving the heartache. Now was not the time to bring up the subject and even if it were, what happened paled compared to the enormity of Walker ’s situation. She must think of him.

            “This was a good idea, wasn’t it?” she commented, snuggling into his chest.

            She was given a further squeeze before her Ranger replied. “Yeah. It sure was.” He certainly felt much better, both mentally and physically.

            Alex loved being so warm and close, the smell, the security and privacy of being with the man she loved. Without thinking she moved suddenly, her hand accidentally touching Walker ’s brief covered groin. It caused her two sharp intakes of air. First for the fact she had mistakenly touched him in a private area, the second because he was hard.

Walker could envision her mouth opening and closing like a fish and he couldn’t

help but expel a low chuckle. “Alex, I’m blind, not dead. What did you expect?” And his body reacted with a silent laugh to go with the small smile on his face.

            “I …I…”

            His laugh was softly audible this time. “Relax. It’s okay.”

            “Oh. Sure? I …um …”

            “Alex,” Walker saved her further embarrassment,  “everything is fine. Besides,” she had slightly drawn away from him and he pulled her back to their original position, aiming at her forehead and lovingly kissing below her hairline, “Anything else would have been an insult to you.”

            “Oh, Walker ,” she admonished happily, “you’re too bad.” There was a pause, “As much as the idea is very appealing,” and her nose wrinkled with her effort to sum up the situation, “this …wouldn’t really be the right time. Would it?”

            “No.” Walker chuckled again. “That’s why I said don’t worry.” and he drew her closer again and kissed the top of her hair.

            Alex settled into the warmth again. “I could stay here forever, but … do you feel like tackling the day now?”

            Walker nodded and sighed. “Yeah.”

            “Tell you what,” Alex suggested, “You stay here while I quickly have a shower, we’ll dress and then …er, we’ll put the ranch back together. How does that sound?”

            Walker clicked with his tongue. “Is it that bad down there?”

            “You don’t do anything by halves, Walker .”

There was a joking lilt to Alex’s voice he picked up on, and the handsome bearded face grimaced before smiling. Leaning back against the pillows, his hands behind his head, Walker gave the usual breathy start to his sentence. “Well, then I guess it’s a plan.”

            He was rewarded with another kiss and Alex briskly vacated the bed heading for the bathroom.

            “Just my luck.” Walker mumbled under his breath.

            “What?”

“I said, just my luck.”

“What?”

“You’re in my bedroom, any second now you’ll be naked - and I can’t see!”

His pained look over such a mute point made her smile. “I’d make you turn around anyway, cowboy.”

“You wouldn’t do that to me.” Walker challenged.

“I would, too. Anyway, you’re too much a gentleman - you wouldn’t look!”

Walker laughed. “I wouldn’t bet on it, Alex. Not where you’re concerned!”

“Compliment accepted!” And a smiling Alex closed the door behind her. A bit of humor was just what was needed. It would help prepare them for the challenges ahead.

When she returned Walker was dressed and the bed made. He was putting on his boots.

She couldn’t help being disappointment. “Oh, you’re dressed!”

“You’re too late, counselor!” Walker joked.

“Just my luck as well, then,” came the retort.

Alex was soon dressed and ready. “Okay. Let’s figure how to do this.”

  Walker tackled his last boot and looked ahead as he heard Alex’s voice cross in front of him. He felt the bed tilt to his left as she sat down and a hand placed on his knee.

“You ready?” Alex stole another kiss.

She watched him become more serious and nod.

“Okay, I’ll go first.” Alex rose but resisted the temptation to take his arm and left it to the Ranger to follow behind, but it was hard not to keep checking back. Once at the bottom of the stairs Alex righted a fallen lamp stand and checked the bulb.

Walker ? Two o’clock , by the wall - the lampshade.” As Walker felt his way to retrieve it she glanced round. “By your right boot now.” The beige shade was found. “Oh, and next to it, your three o’clock , there’s an apple. Ah, at least this bulb is okay.” She took the shade and fixed it back in place. “Better wait here till I get the brush. The vase I brought round is in a thousand pieces.”

“The big stone colored one?” Walker queried.

“Yeah.”

“Damn. I liked that.”

“No problem. Least of our worries.” Alex was already near the kitchen, righting chairs and picking up the smaller items as she passed them. Tiptoeing over the spilt coffee and glass, the broom was found and soon the broken remains were swept near the back door.

“Quick wash with a mop and we’re through for now. You hungry?”

Walker ’s stomach had been grumbling for a while. “Sure am. Um, the coffeepot… there’s another in the cupboard - to the right of the hob. Top shelf.”

It was up high and he could hear her struggling to reach the dusty box. “Here.”

  Walker stretched out his hands until they found Alex’s waist and he gently lifted her up.

“Got it.” Alex put the box down on the counter top and turned round. Now back on terra firma Walker hadn’t exactly let go of her, but his hands still rested on her hips and his body leaned into hers. Alex slipped her hands around his waist, rubbing her nose and cheek against his chest. Now sure Alex didn’t mind, Walker ’s arms surrounded her.

“Thanks. For everything.”

Alex closed her eyes. It wasn’t a dismissal by any means, but she preempted him.

“At least before you successfully made the coffee. Want to try that again and I’ll get us some cereal? Then I’ll go home, maybe see you later if you want?”

“Of course I want.” Walker moved swiftly on, “You trust me to make the coffee, then?” he kidded.

“Sure. Only let me do the pouring or I’ll never get out of here!” And they both smiled.

Walker ?” Alex asked as they ate the long awaited breakfast. She felt she had to at least ask the question, “Have you considered going back to the hospital?”

Walker held on to the mug of coffee with both hands. “Yeah. I’ve considered it. But, I’m not going to.”

Although his answer was anticipated Alex’s heart sank.

Alex stood at his lead and they left the table arm in arm and entered the living room.

Walker stopped. “I’ve got to get a mental image of this house. I can’t believe I’ve lived here all this time, and never saw what was around me…”

It was an hour later Alex drove away, this time for real, leaving Walker alone. But it went against all her instincts and despite the fact there were times he couldn’t be more wonderful and loving, when Walker was gearing up to tackle anything it seemed his feelings for her were put to one side. So she had not been sentimental when they said goodbye on the porch, but brief. At least he said he wanted to see her later. But the last few days had caused Alex to doubt not Walker , but herself, and whether she was what he needed in his life.

Despite the day being occupied with personal ablutions, chores, and spending nearly two hours on the phone with her office, the thought regarding their compatibility rarely left Alex’s mind. It surprised her when the phone rang almost immediately after she had replaced the receiver and it was Walker .

“Hey.”

“Hey. How are you getting on?”

“Oh, I’m getting on fine. What time would you like to come over?”

“Would seven be okay?”

 “Okay, Alex. And I’ve got a surprise for you when you get here.”

“You do? Tell me.”

Alex was hopeless with surprises. Walker smiled. “No, I’m not gonna tell ya. I’ll see ya.”

Walker made his way upstairs for the candles. He had made what he figured was a soup-stew type dish, or he hoped that’s how it had turned out. Tasted not too bad and had taken him ages, but it was worth it. With the table set, if he had lit candles and it was romantic, maybe Alex could see he hadn’t meant to hurt her. It might go someway towards it.

“Something smells good.” With happy expectancy Alex pushed open the front door. “ Walker ?”

The sight of Walker lying on the floor by the stairs made her gasp. Alex ran to him.

“Are you alright?”

Poor, poor, Walker. Would nothing go right for him? He must have fallen downstairs! Candles? Obviously for her benefit! He was going out of his way for her! Why had this happened to him? Alex’s heart was near to breaking. He was obviously aching from where he had fallen but not drawing attention to his pains. He was downplaying his obvious embarrassment.

Deliberately, Alex didn’t make a fuss and although she praised his efforts making the simple meal and how delicious it was, the evening was tense and strained. Bringing him up-to-date on Jimmy’s investigation and other events at the office brought only at best monosyllabic answers, and then practically no conversation at all. Her heart went out to him.

            “ Walker ?” Alex finally asked, “What is it? You’ve haven’t said two words to me all night.”

            Walker took a beat before replying. “I’m thinking of resigning from the Rangers.”

            Stunned didn’t even begin to explain how she felt.

            “Resigning? Walker , being a Ranger has been your whole life! Don’t you believe it’s a little too early to be thinking like that?”

Please, God, Alex silently pleaded, don’t let him go this route.

Walker was serious. “Let’s face it, Alex. I could be blind for the rest of my life.”

Yet another heavy silence stifled the room and Alex wondered what she could do or say. Yes, there was that chance. Should she tell him not to be silly and give hope where they may be none? Or should she have him accept what may be the tragic possibility and start preparing now the future? Unable to decide she could only clutch his hand and squeeze hard, and found herself saying, “Let’s just wait a little while longer, okay?”

            Seemingly Walker wanted to grasp the straw and he nodded. Maybe she had found the middle path… for now.

            Yet again the night brought new terrors. Always the same dream for Walker . He could no longer protect the love of his life. He was blind, stumbling along. Alex needed him; was crying for him, and, dear God, he couldn’t see to help her. He was useless. Alex deserved better than this. Fear consuming him, the Ranger woke with a start, laid his back on the pillow and from the depths of night heard a voice.

            “Washo.”

            He sat up again. Was this real? Or part of his dream? “White Eagle?”

            “The Great Spirit told me you are facing a great challenge. I am here to help you face that challenge.”

In the morning he and White Eagle spoke.

“Never does not exist for the warrior.”

Walker thought long and hard. His old mentor was right. There must be a way to live with this affliction. Beat it, claw through it, climb above it – anything other than live the way he was now - foolish, clumsy, and without purpose. If he were to be any kind of man Alex deserved, this was his chance. But first he must tell her not to come round.

            He could hear the uncertainty and trembling in her voice.

 “So wh..when shall I come back?”

            “I’ll let you know.”

            “ Walker ? I love you.”

            “I love you, too.”

            Even to him it sounded hollow. Damn it! Why couldn’t he tell her she wasn’t to worry and of course he would call for her when White Eagle was finished with him? Was it because if he couldn’t get any better he wouldn’t want her around? No, of course he wanted her around. He loved her more than life itself! But Alex couldn’t marry him like this! How would they live? What would he do? Her job was a tough one and fraught with danger. If he could no longer protect her she had to be free to take the love of another, someone who could give her a better life.

            “Washo?”

            Walker was startled from his thoughts.

            “Come. It is time.”

            And the discovery of his new self started. The sweat lodge made him feel better. More in touch with his inner self. But the training was hard.

            “Think with your mind. Not with your hands.”

            White Eagle must have said that ten times already. And as he dropped his hands and stumbled into a tree trunk, Walker despaired.

            “White Eagle?”

            “I am here, Washo.”

            “I can’t do this.”

Can’t do it? Since when had that been in his vocabulary? But try as he may it wasn’t coming together. Inwardly he winced. His shins were royally bruised and hurt like hell, although he wasn’t going to complain about that.

            “You must learn to use your minds eye, directing all your senses together, so that the result is no different than when you could see.”

            And the training continued. Hour after hour, day after day. It was getting a little easier, coming together more. Walker ’s spirits lifted. Three days later he heard the round coconut shell split on contact with the arrow he had fired. The two old friends smiled.

            “White Eagle?”

            Walker stood for some time. The old Indian had disappeared as mysteriously as he had come. Walker owed him so much. Not only this time, but for his sage mentoring over the years. Oh that everyone would have only one true friend such as White Eagle, Walker wished for the world. Then he smiled. Now he could call Alex. The Ranger ran to the phone, his new skills warning him in plenty of time to sense the fly screen door, the stool, and the doorframe by the living room.

But he put down the receiver as soon as he picked it up. They had been living rough and he’d first need to have a shower. Walker made haste for the stairs, without thinking, confidently taking two at a time. Then he would tidy the place up before she came over.

            “Hello, Alex?”

            “ Walker ! Erh… hi.      

He could hear initial relief replaced by fear. She was obviously wondering whether he was going to ask her back… or not.

            “I’d like for you to come round. If that’s okay?” he added respectfully.

            The Texas Ranger didn’t have to be there to know she was smiling.

            Alex was elated. Walker ’s confidence had returned and with it, the man she had come to know and love. Oh, there were still hurdles to face, but silently Alex thanked White Eagle. And how had the old Indian known? He was incredible!

Now, later, as she and Walker finished the salad they had prepared, he had wanted to know the progress his partner had made with the case and happenings in the office. How was the HOPE center? He wondered if she had caught up with her work.

This was the Walker she knew.

            “… but the twenty thousand donation we received from Royce Industries will give us breathing space for quite some time.” Alex giggled. “Word has it that you had something to do with that?”

            A grin appeared on the face of the bearded Ranger. “Not really. When Trivette and me recovered the stolen software, the CEO said if there was anything he could do to let him know. All I said was, that if his company were to decide on a charitable donation this year, they might want to remember the HOPE Center .”

            “That’s all?”

            “That’s it.”

            “ Walker ? You’re incredible!”

            Walker took on a look of chagrin, “Glad you think so. Trivette said I should have asked for company stocks and he would have doubled our money! Yeah, right!”

            The two laughed.

            Plates clattered as Alex went to clear up. Walker stood with her, holding out his hands. “I’ll take those through, you finish here.” The Texas Ranger smiled again, “Your turn to dry isn’t it?”

            “I hate drying. Can’t I wash?”

            “Alex! We take it in turns. I hate drying, too.”

            Both now standing by the sink, Walker felt his arms gripped.

            “We’ll do scissors, paper, stone to decide.”

            “Wait a minute,” Walker protested, “how do I know you’ll play fair?”

            “ Cordell Walker ! Are you saying I cheat?”

“You lady, are the worst cheat I know.” he quipped. Easily escaping from her hold Walker soon reversed the situation and Alex was pinned to the side. The laughter followed with kisses, soon to be replaced with a lingering silence and a more passionate embrace. When the couple mutually separated there was another silence and a wanting they both shared.

            Walker cleared his voice and ruefully smiled, “Ah… you wash. It’ll take your mind off things.” He could hear her sigh.

            “Yeah. You’re right,” she conceded. Walker ’s butt was patted. “Move one step to your left will you? Unless you want me stepping on your toes.”

He did as she asked and found the tea towel in his hands. It was another few minutes before Alex spoke again.

            “ Walker , you were talking about resigning from the Rangers. Still thinking about it?”

            He took a beat before beginning his reply. “Well…” He froze. The crickets - he couldn’t hear the crickets. And the owl. The owl had been quietly hooting for her mate and suddenly broke off in mid call. Other inexplicable senses also kicked in.

            “What is it?”

            “There’s someone outside.” There had to be, it was obvious.

            Peering through the shutters of the living room Alex picked them up clearly. The bright moonlight highlighted four intruders clambering over the side fencing by the big oak tree.

            “I see them. There’s four men and they’re splitting up.” Her voice had become tense.

            “Lock the front door. Turn off the lights. Call Trivette,” Walker commanded.

            But they were on step ahead and Alex couldn’t get a dial tone.

            “They cut the lines,” Alex advised him.

            “Cell phone?”

            A hand flew across her mouth. “Oh no! It’s in my coat pocket, but that’s in the car.”

            Walker waved her to him. He sensed when she was near and held her by the shoulders, escorting her to the far side of the sofa while quickly whispering.

Alex, listen carefully. I want you to stay here and don’t make a sound. Understand?” He didn’t allow her time to reply. “If I hear a noise from now on I need to know its them and not you. Now stay put.

And he left before she had time to open her mouth. He traversed the room with barely a touch of the furniture, into the hall, and closed the living room door without making a noise. Alex’s mind reeled, but she knew she had better do exactly what he said.

 Even blind Walker was a force not to be taken lightly. She cursed their attackers. They weren’t satisfied with ruining their lives like this they have to come back to kill Walker ? She prayed that one day they would stand before her as she prosecuted them.

The first one was easy. Walker knew someone would be assigned the front door. The steps on the porch, the breaking glass, a second for his mind’s eye to visualize a hand appearing to unlock the door, and, right on target, Walker felt an arm in his powerful grasp. Forget niceties, there were four of them they knew about. Walker pulled the attacker’s whole body through the frame and smashed several fists and chops into the area of the face to knock him out. Although Walker had no comprehension of the man’s height, the force of the fall made the goon groan and that’s where Walker aimed. It took less than a few seconds.

As quickly as Walker congratulated himself on a job well done, at the same time he knew this would get harder.

            Gravel! Walker could hear footsteps on the gravel from the side of the house. And they were getting nearer. Someone was coming in the front way again. Without noise he took a few steps to the side and pressed into the wall to wait the next sensory input. There was a thud as the door was forced open. Shattered wood splintered further and he could hear feet walking over the broken glass. There was another step forward, then another. Walker could imagine the thug’s progress. He reckoned the must be in front and to the right. Now! Snaking an arm around the attacker’s neck Walker ’s technique was textbook.

 The elbow joint was expertly placed either side of the man’s Adams apple, and the Ranger locked arms and flexed his powerful muscles, immediately constricting the flow of blood to the brain. It would take less than ten seconds for unconsciousness to occur. Walker ’s hold tightened against the man’s futile struggle as he waited. But from within a confident, supercilious voice called out, filling him with dread.

            “ Walker ? I’ve got your girlfriend! Come out!”

            Continuing the arm lock Walker ’s mind raced, but now the voice was inpatient.

            “ WALKER !”

Walker knew he had to get outside. While he was free Alex would still be a bargaining chip and they would let her live, but the minute he gave himself up they would both be shot. He felt the dead weight in his arms and silently dropped the body to the floor and slipped out into the night. As much as he wanted to free Alex, he had to take out the other scumbag, and he figured there was more chance of finding him outside.

            It took two or three minutes before Walker heard slow, careful footsteps coming towards him. He pressed into the recess and praying he had gauged the distance correctly, launched a spear hand strike in an upward direction. He hoped at least one part of his strike would catch somewhere on the man’s face, and from there he could get a fix on the thug’s position. As it was Walker didn’t need to worry, the full force of the taut, steel, blade-side of his hand struck the bridge of the would-be attacker’s nose and there was silence.

Now Walker knew he had the real problem to contend with. Someone had Alex.

And that someone was about to pay.

            Walker considered his options. He felt for the edge of the path and calculated the nearby tree was roughly to the left, about fifteen or twenty feet away. If he didn’t make it he would be left in the open and exposed - a sitting duck. But there was no other way. Bending as he ran Walker used his fingertips to trace the line of the path until it ended, then pointed himself in the direction he calculated the tree should be, and coolly walked over. He slowed as his inner sense alerted him to an object and welcomed the feel of the rough, dry bark in his hands.

            “Okay. Enough!”

Still with a hand over Alex’s mouth and throat, Gazal roughly dragged the District Attorney into the demolished hallway. His hands fumbled for the lights and they snapped on, illuminating the outside.

“That’s better. Gives me a real advantage over your poor blind Walker , doesn’t it? Gazal backed out, tightening his hold on Alex’s neck.

            “ WALKER !” He shouted.

            That’s all Walker needed. He had a direction.

            But the Ranger was puzzled. The steps were clumsy, even allowing for the fact Alex was being held. Backwards, the Ranger figured! He’s walking backwards while holding Alex. That’s perfect, Walker calculated, and if he shouts out one more time I have him nailed. Most people are right handed so the gun hand should be easy to locate and the weapon tossed. He couldn’t use it himself anyhow, in case he hit Alex by mistake.

            “ WALKER ! Show yourself. WALKER !”

            Walker pounced a second later, grabbing the pistol and throwing it to one side.

 Alex eyed the discarded weapon, but heeding Walker ’s instructions she opted to stay still, but she would look for the first opportunity to grab the sidearm.

The Arab was flung to one side. The Ranger stood still, perfectly still, and prayed Alex had the sense to do the same.

            Gazal looked at his opponent and his spirits soared. This should be easy! He gave a quiet, contemptuous laugh.

That’s what the Ranger had been waiting for. Walker ’s right boot thundered forward connecting with the thug’s mid section. Walker ’s hand flew backwards and forwards - both times on target. His senses heightened, everything that White Eagle had taught Walker suddenly became pure instinct.

            “ Walker ,” Alex warned, “he’s behind you!”

            The reply was firm and confident.

“I know.”        

And he knew just when to make his next move. He didn’t know how he knew, his collective senses made him aware and his right foot powered in to a backwards kick, hitting home. He could imagine his opponent’s body’s position, and tightening his stomach for the moment of impact Walker rammed home an elbow strike to the face. And then repeated it. He could hear a thump and then stillness.

            “Is he out?” he asked.

            “Oh, yeah!” Walker ’s assault was so accurate it had caught the Arab full in the face each time. Alex had slipped an arm around her Ranger’s waist.

            Walker checked, “You okay?”

            “Of course,” she was trembling a little, “how about you?

            “I’m fine.”

            That was his stock answer. Alex placed a hand over his far shoulder and buried her face in his neck. He was amazing. Sensing her shock Walker held her close and tightly wrapped both arms around her small frame. He had protected her, he realized. His worst nightmare had been overcome! Walker gripped tighter and found her lips. He had saved her! Maybe if he didn’t get his sight back he would be some good to her after all! He gave a deep sigh. But then it was a pretty tall order to live with a blind guy. He forced his mind back to the present. He didn’t want the men to regain consciousness until they were bound.

            “Hon,” he kissed her again, “run to your car, phone for Trivette and the team. Then get something we can use to tie these vermin up. I’ll stay here.”

            Alex was already running, “Okay,” he heard her muffled cry over her footsteps.

            Walker suddenly felt nervous. He’d get them tied up and be inside the house when his partner and the team showed up. He knew it was stupid to feel self conscious, but knowing it was dumb didn’t seem to dispel the feeling any.

            “So come on. How did you do it then?” Trivette looked from Walker to Alex and back again. Alex had her hands palm outwards.

            “I don’t know how he did it. How did you do it, Walker ?”

            Walker sat at the kitchen table holding his coffee firmly in two hands. “White Eagle taught me how to bring my remaining senses together to create a mental image.”

            Trivette looked dubious. “To create a mental image?” he repeated.

            “Yeah.”

             “Well,” Walker ’s partner stated the obvious, “sure as hell worked.” His hands clapped the top of his thighs. “Guess I’d better get back ‘n’ sort out the paperwork.”

 Standing up, Trivette, slapped Walker on the back and left.

            It was nearly one week later, two days before Walker had his appointment with Dr. Stevens , that Alex bumped into Walker ’s partner. She had gone to work for half a day to second chair on a case that had, thankfully, resulted in a prosecution. Stuffing papers into her case Alex slowly made her way down the hall.

            “Hey, Alex!” Trivette called out.

            “Oh. I didn’t see you.” The two close friends hugged.

            “You just finishing?” Trivette stared into her face. “Hey? What’s this?” His dear friend looked far from happy.

            The blond extricated her chin from between his finger and thumb. “Don’t say anything.”

            “I do say something!” Jimmy Trivette was concerned. “I say something’s happened and you’re not getting away from here until you tell me.”

            Seated at a bar around the corner from the courthouse, Trivette placed two coffees on the table, and putting away some lose coins from his change first, went to sit, scraping the chair nearer as he did so.

“Okay, what gives?”

            “Jimmy?” Alex tried to make sense of her thoughts, “You haven’t been up to see Walker since those guys attacked us, have you? And you hadn’t been to see him before that either.”

            Trivette looked her in the eyes, his voice when he replied quiet, but firm.

“No. But I talk with him on the phone every day.”

            “Why?

            “Why what?”

            “Why haven’t you visited with him?”

            “He doesn’t want me to.”

            Alex shook her head, baffled. “He didn’t say that did he?”

            Trivette took a sip of coffee. “No. Not in words.”

            “So how do you know that for sure?”

            “Alex…” he struggled to explain, “It’s a guy thing.” He stopped, thought for a second, and tried to explain another way. “Look. He knows if he wants me I’ll be there in a heartbeat. I don’t have to say it – neither does he.” When there was silence Trivette looked down. “Alex. I’ve tried to keep my eyes closed for five minutes. Five seconds later - my gut’s filled with fear and I have to open them again. He can’t. I have to give him time to deal with it. He feels awkward right now.”

            “Even with you?” Alex interjected.

            “More so with me. I’m his partner.”

            “But you’re also his friend!” It hadn’t meant to be accusatory, it just came out that way.

            “And as his friend,” Trivette looked directly into her eyes, “I’ll give him the space he needs. Until…” he stopped suddenly.

            “Until what?”

            “Until after he sees the doc. If…” he could hardly get the words out, “if Walker isn’t going to get his sight back, then I’ll be with him. He knows I’ll never stop being his friend. And when… if… that time comes, we’ll find a way to deal with it.” Jimmy Trivette suddenly paused. “Alex, what’s happened?”

            Her head slowly shook from side to side, “After White Eagle’s visit then beating those guys that attacked us he seemed to find himself. Become surer of himself, you know? Obviously not like he is normally, but he was much better.” Alex looked keen, “A lot more confident.” Then her look changed, “Now, as time’s gone by… he’s become introverted again. Then yesterday morning I went to change his bandages and put in his eye drops and he wouldn’t let me. He got angry. Said he couldn’t see anything when I put in the eye drops the night before and it wasn’t going to change so what’s the use. I tried to reason with him but he just walked away and left me.”

            Trivette reached over and grasped her hand. “He doesn’t mean to take it out on you, you know that, don’t you?”

            Alex nodded, feeling the tears well up in her eyes.

            “You have to hang in there, Alex, okay?” And pulling her towards him, Trivette embraced her.

            “Jimmy?” She whispered in his ear.

            “Yeah?”

            “I miss C.D.”

            James Trivette sighed. “I wish,” there was an anguished beat, “he was still here.”

            “He would have known what to do.”

            “I know.” Trivette sighed again, “I know.” He repositioned his arms, gave Alex another kiss on the cheek, and tightly hugged her again.

            “ Walker ?”

            Alex entered and closed the front door of the ranch. Not getting a reply, butterflies flew in her stomach. Quickening her pace she found Walker sitting at the table, his demeanor anything but cordial.

            “ Walker ? Hey.” Alex set down a box between them. “I bought donuts!”

            “Well,” Walker ’s reply was sardonic, “That’s should fix everything.”

            Immediately, Alex was close to tears and she stared at Walker ’s bandage bound face and terse lips.

            “I guess you don’t want to be disturbed,” she said quietly. She paused before continuing. “Your appointment tomorrow with Dr. Steven ’s is at ten, I’ll pick you up about nine.” She could see Walker tense further, but he made no reply. And neither did she, but instead turned on her heel and left. Alex reached her car and instead of opening the door, in despair, leaned against the vehicle. She thought back at Walker ’s posture when she made the arrangements for tomorrow. He was taut like a spring ready to snap, his hand a tight fist.

Then Alex realized. He wasn’t just apprehensive about tomorrow - Cordell Walker was scared stiff - and rightly so in the circumstances. She sighed. She couldn’t leave him like this. Taking a deep breath Alex knew what she had to do. She marched back inside the house.

            “ Cordell Walker !”

He was still sitting at the table where she had left him. Even though he couldn’t see the gesture, her finger pointed squarely in his direction.

“These donuts are Krispy Kream donuts! I had to go half way across the city for them so I don’t see why you should get both! You can make coffee! Go make some!” And with that she flounced into the seat opposite.

            Walker ’s mouth fell slightly open for a second in disbelief, and scraping back the chair he rose.

Alex held her breath. He had moved more quickly than normal and looked like he was about to hit the doorframe of the kitchen, but even in anger his new senses kicked in and his hand reached out in time, maneuvering him past the doorway. The coffee pot clattered as he filled it with water.

            Alex ran a hand through her hair. This was taking a toll on her nerves. Although the kitchen was only feet away Walker didn’t return while the coffee brewed, but stood silently until the beep signaled the special blend was done perking. She could see him carefully filling two mugs, and although normally she would come and take one from him, instead she made him make two trips.

Finally he reseated himself.

“Thank you.” She made her tone abrupt even though Alex felt the exact opposite. All she wanted to do was take him in her arms and hold him. Make it better for him. But she duly opened the box releasing the aroma of newly baked donuts.

            “Which one do you want?”

            Walker slightly cocked his head to one side, and was condescending. “Let me see…”

            She gave as good as she got, raising her voice in return. “You don’t have to be Cherokee to work it out! Even I can smell the difference!”

            There was a beat before Walker sniffed the air. “Chocolate apple and chocolate raspberry?” he begrudged.

            “Right! So, which one do you want?”

            The very occasional time they stopped for donuts Alex’s favorite was apple and his raspberry, so the fact she was being polite mellowed him. Walker shuffled awkwardly and reciprocated, his tone now quiet and respectful.

“Ladies first.”

“Thank you. I’ll have the apple, please.”

Alex did nothing.

Walker felt in front locating the box, and his smell directing his hand to the left he picked up the correct one.

“I forgot plates and napkins.”

            “I’ll get them,” and without waiting his reply Alex rose, returning a few seconds later. Walker felt a plate in his hands.

“Got it?”

            “Yeah.” A few seconds later, “Here’s yours.”

            “Thank you.”

            They ate in silence until the delicacies were gone and the coffee finished. He could hear Alex licking her fingers. Would he ever be able to look into that beautiful face again?

            Alex squashed the empty box and gathered the plates and mugs.

“And before you get on my case - I’d do this whoever’s house I was in! It’s polite!” And she popped them through into the kitchen sink. Grabbing her purse, Alex stopped. “No doubt you’ll want to be by yourself. I’ll pick you up in the morning. “Bye, Walker .”

            She had only taken a few steps.

            “Alex.”

            She didn’t stop.

“I’m sorry.”

            Walker heard her footsteps pause.

“I know.” The blond made to go again.

“Please, don’t go.”

She stopped a second time and turned back. He seemed frozen, vulnerable, and forlorn. Alex came nearer, replaced her purse and stood next to him. She reached out her hand and gently touched the side of his cheek. Her hand was grasped. Walker directed her elegant fingers to his lips and kissed them, and finally pulled her towards him. Sitting on his knee, his fiancée buried her head in his neck and cried.

            “I’m sorry,” he said fervently. “I don’t know what got into me. Please don’t cry. I’m so sorry. Will you… stay a while longer?”

            At the nod of her head Walker sought and found her lips, both souls becoming lost in the physical and mental reassurance. Needing each other to combat their diminished spirits, they remained locked in their exquisite embrace for some time.

            “Okay. Now the bandages are off,” Stevens looked towards Gage, “gradually bring up the lights, will you please?” The lighting in the room slowly became brighter. The doctor shone the ophthalmoscope into the Ranger’s eyes. “Hmm, let’s have a look.” The retina was clear and the pupils reacting normally. “Can you see anything Ranger Walker?”

            If he hadn’t have heard the order for the lights to be dimmed Walker might have thought his eyes were not working. As it was, as soon as the dressing was removed his eyes automatically compensated. He could make out shadows; he could see the difference as Stevens moved in front of him. Then as the room brightened so did his clarity of vision. He could see. Thank you. Dear God, thank you.

He could see Alex in his peripheral sight. She was as scared as he was – she was standing alone and looking as fraught as could be. He must put things right. He crossed the room and stared into the face he feared he would never see again. Although now in a worried and frightened state, he thought she was the most beautiful woman on earth. The love of his life had not wavered even when he’d been at his worst.

With complete reverence he reached for her hand and kissed it as delicately as possible.

Would there ever be a time when words and feelings would come easily for him?

 What could he say when she gave so much of herself?

            “Thanks for being there for me.” He worried she was going to collapse, her body swaying slightly, but her face broke out into a smile.

            “You can see me.”

            He could hear a collective sigh of relief from his partner and Gage and Sydney.

            Walker had retained her hand and held it up again. “I’ve got to be able to see your finger, when I put the wedding band on.”

            Alex fell into his arms and quietly sobbed as he held her. Walker continued to hug the woman that had supported him so steadfastly.

Repositioning his arms around her, Walker wished her all the love he had. She was his soul mate. Many people never found their life’s partner, but he was a blessed man.

Finally, they were interrupted.

            “Um …Ranger Walker ? Dr. Stevens smiled. “I’d like everyone to leave just until I do a few more tests. And I need the room in darkness, again.”

            Brought back to the present, both Walker and Alex seemed at a loss to know what to do or say until Walker ’s partner came forward.

The younger Ranger stepped in between them to hug Walker , slapping his partner firmly on the back.

Walker felt Trivette drawing a sharp breath.

“Thank God, Walker. Thank God.” Jimmy Trivette commented.

            “Oh, I will. And thank you, Trivette. For everything.” Walker made sure he looked his friend directly in the eye and observed the acknowledgement in return.

            Gage nudged Sydney and without needing to see to get his meaning the brunette nodded.

            “Great result, guys. Gage and me will catch up with you later, okay?”

            They made their farewells. Trivette took Alex’s hand.

“Come on, counselor!” And they also stepped outside the room to wait.

After ten minutes or so Alex excused her self and a minute later the door opened with Walker and his doctor.

            “One more examination in three weeks, Ranger Walker. We’ll send a card with the date of the appointment. In the meantime, any changes call immediately, okay?”

            “Do you anticipate any changes?” Walker glanced to his side as his partner joined them and with a tinge of anxiety looked back at the physician to wait for his reply.

            Dr. Stevens addressed them both. “No. I think we’re home and clear. I’m sure you won’t have any more problems.”

            Walker smiled in relief.

            The surgeon looked around, “ Miss Cahill here?”

            “Aah…” Trivette gestured down the corridor, “she’s gone to the restroom.”

            “Oh, right. Could you let her know that based on my findings from the examination, should you not have regained your sight, Ranger Walker, please tell Miss Cahill that her offer to transplant one of her corneas to you may have been viable. Thankfully that’s one alternative we will no longer need to review.”

            “What do you mean, doctor?” Walker was dumbfounded, but the doctor mistakenly assumed the Ranger was referring to the medical aspect of the procedure.

            “The hyphemor – the swelling behind your eyes – it had to be reduced in order for us to precisely assess cornea damage. Once that was achieved, if you still couldn’t see, it would have meant the corneas were too badly damaged as a result of the explosion, and might, therefore, have opened up the possibility of a cornea transplant.”

When Walker made no attempt to reply Stevens carried on. “So, if you could please let Miss Cahill know? She made an extraordinarily generous offer. She’s quite a lady.”

            “Erh,” Walker somehow found his voice again. “Yes. She is.”

The smiling doctor offered a hand which was respectfully taken.

            “Thank you.” Walker said sincerely.

And with that Stevens hurried away.

Walker turned to look at his partner and the pair stood in silence.

Finally James Trivette shook his head. “She would have given up the sight in one of her eyes for you, Walker. Alex Cahill ,” he said quietly, “what a woman.”

            Walker was still in shock. There was the overwhelming relief of regaining his vision, and now the knowledge that the lady in his life would have been prepared to sacrifice the sight of one of her own eyes so he could see! The Ranger was humbled beyond belief.

“She sure is, Trivette. She sure is.”

 There was much to say between the two men, yet they remained silent, neither knowing where to start. They saw Alex step into the corridor and spotting them waiting she joined them, smiling broadly and slipping an arm around each man’s waist.

            “Honey, I’m so pleased for you! And Jimmy?” she giggled, “You can stop looking so worried now!”

            Realizing this was not the time or place for a serious talk Trivette seized the moment to lighten the atmosphere.

“Oh, right!” he countered immediately, “like you were that calm – not!”

            “Okay. Hold it!” Walker admonished. He looked at them with the greatest appreciation and affection. “I don’t suppose you two would let me buy you lunch?”

            Alex and Trivette stopped in their tracks.

            “Al? Walker ’s partner grabbed her arm. “Did he just offer to buy us lunch?”

            “That’s what I heard! Maybe we’d better hurry incase he changes his mind.”

And the friends chuckled. It had been so long since they joked and it felt good to laugh again.

Walker pulled both of them towards the door. “Who’s driving?”

“You know I don’t think he could decide who was worse, Al – you driving him or me!”

“I think you were the worst, Jimmy!” Alex parried.

“Ha! Miss thirty miles an hour crawl-a-long! I don’t think so.”

“At least I didn’t back his Ram into a shopping cart!” Alex laughed again. “That’ll teach you to go grocery shopping instead of bringing it straight back to the ranch.”

“You said you wouldn’t tell! Dang it, Alex!” Trivette was peeved.

Walker snatched the keys out of Alex’s hand.

“I’m driving!”

The two friends thought it was too soon. There was a clamber of protests as their voices faded down the corridor.

“Not such a good idea…”

“Honey why not give it a day or so…”

“Gees! It’s not like I’ve forgotten….”

After their meal at the Stockyards, Walker was taken back to the ranch by his fiancée. He looked over to her.

“You okay? You seemed very quiet tonight after we got to C.D.’s.”

            “Sorry. I’m okay.”

            “No need to apologize. I wondered if anything was wrong?

            “No. You have your sight back. What could be wrong tonight?” She turned the car onto the dirt track toward the house and stopped. Walker went to get out but was aware Alex made no move to do the same.

“You’re coming in?” he asked expectantly.

            Alex hesitated slightly, “No. Thanks. You go in. No doubt you’re back at work tomorrow,” she carried on as Walker nodded the affirmative, “so go get some rest.”

            “You can still come in.”

            There was another pause as Alex wrestled with her feelings. Finally she squeezed his arm and smiled.

“It’s okay, I’ll catch up with you tomorrow. Call me if you need me?”

            Walker was disappointed. Still, there would be plenty of time to discuss matters with her.

“Okay. Alex?” Walker leaned over and kissed her tenderly on the lips, “Thanks.” And he kissed her again. This time his tongue parted her lips to request her pleasure. It made Alex heady. In fact any physical voyage with this exceptional man made her giddy. Time and again she wondered exactly what it was about him that would set off her libido like a rocket launch. She never did answer her own question. Only that his touch would instigate all the glorious aspirations of lust and love it was possible to find in a full woman. But now it was time to fight her feelings. She pulled away.

            “I’d better go. C.D.’s for breakfast?”

            Walker nodded, palming her face in the cup of his hand.

            “I love you, Walker.”

            “I love you too. Call me when you get in, okay?” And he spun from the seat and shut the door firmly and waved as she reversed.

As Walker stepped up to the porch his inner alarm bells were ringing, and frowning, Walker turned back to watch her car until it faded into the distance. He looked around. Other than clouds off to the west it was a clear, starry evening. The air was unpolluted and pleasant as he inhaled. Walker recognized the new scent of a shrub Alex had planted last summer. Bending down to the garden below the porch Walker broke one of the thin pointed leaves and held it to his nose. It smelled of garlic. Alex wasn’t sure of the name, it was some garlic plant hybrid displaying a tall blue flower in spring, but it sure was lovely. The moon broke through the band of cumulous clouds and he looked up, reveling in its beauty and magical glow. His gaze lowered to the small light over the barn door, then way out into the distance the amber glow of Dallas City .

He could see again.

Thank God; thank God! Taking firm hold of the wooden rail, Cordell Walker ran smartly up the steps and into his house.

            He held the phone close to his lips and lowering his voice turned away so the rest of the office wouldn’t hear. “You didn’t make it for breakfast.” Walker switched ears in time for Alex’s reply.

            “Yeah. I suddenly remembered which case was being heard this morning and I needed to talk to Martin before he went into court. I’m taking back my cases now and there’s a lot I need to do. How are your eyes?”

            “Crystal clear. Alex …we need to talk. When can we meet?” He could hear a resigned sigh.

            “Yeah we do.”

            “Shall I come to your place this evening? Maybe take you out to dinner first?”

            “No, Walker. How about you come to my office when you’re finished. I’ll still be here.”

            Her office? Walker was puzzled. “Okay, hon. See ya later.”

            “Bye.” As after thought she said, “Take care,” and the phone went dead.

He and Trivette had a fairly quiet first day back. Mostly routine follow ups, no fights, and they even got some paperwork done later that afternoon. He wouldn’t admit to a small feeling of eyestrain and it worried him to a degree. Consequently he welcomed Trivette’s call to finish for the day.

            “You comin to C.D.’s with us?” Trivette had rounded up Sydney and Gage and the three of them stood over Walker ’s desk.

            “Thanks, guys. I’ll take a rain check.”

            “ Walker ?” Sydney had not missed the light rubs he had given his eyes towards the end of the afternoon, “You okay? Eyes okay?”

            “Yeah. Fine, thanks.”

            When the three still stood expectantly in silence, Walker broke out into a chagrined smile. Sheesh! You guys are worse than Trivette! I’m fine. I’m going to meet Alex.”

            “Oh! You’re gonna meet with Alex!” Trivette had a singing tone to his voice, and his face made a broad, grinning beam around the room.

“Oh, well. Now we understand. Don’t we guys!”

            Gage laughed. “Sure do.”

            Trivette winked at Syd and Gage and pushed his luck. Lowering his voice he raised his eyebrows in their direction.

“Smooch time.”

            “Get outta here!” Walker admonished.

            And the band of Rangers laughed as they left, Walker shaking his head at them.

They were a great blessing to him. It was difficult maintaining the right posture at work, but the new Rangers had picked up that Trivette had more leverage than they did and they had not overstepped that invisible line. Walker thought about his partner’s last remark and somberness replaced the humor he had just enjoyed. Somehow he knew there would be some talking ahead before he and Alex reached that special place they shared, but for the life of him Walker couldn’t work out why and what had prompted the change. Maybe him being blind had made Alex think differently? With a sigh he rose, and made his way to her office.

            Alex’s new PA was a smart, petite, Hispanic woman. She had settled into her work well and was fast to pick up the demands of the job. She passed him on the stairs.

            “Goodnight, Ranger Walker .”

            “ Night, Teresa . Is Alex still there?” Walker turned back to hear her reply as she continued down the steps.

            “Si. And she’s alone. You can go straight in.”

            “Thanks!” he called after her, and increased his pace. Reaching Alex’s office he knocked quietly on the door and opened it.

“Hi. Teresa said you were alone. Um, this good for you?” He had seen her writing furiously on a yellow legal pad. She stopped on reaching the end of the sentence, clipped on her pen top and threw that and the legal pad to one side.

            “Yeah. C’mon in.”

            He closed the door, walked over to her desk, and leaned over to give her a kiss. Alex stood, returned the gesture and smiled, but there wasn’t the warmth behind the smile to which Walker was accustomed, consequently the apprehension in the pit of his stomach increased. He watched as she rounded the desk and sat on one of the chairs. He took the other and looked at her.

            “ Walker …” She abruptly stopped. “Actually, maybe you’re right. Maybe we should go to my place.”

            “You have something on your mind.” He knew; it was a statement not a question, and as she nodded added. “Okay. Then here’s as good as anywhere.” The Ranger reached for her hand, “What is it, Alex?”

            His touch was electrifying.

The secure feel of his warm skin and the strength of his hand. The contrasting gentleness when his fingers caressed hers.

Alex looked into his eyes. They were much better if maybe a little tired looking. Had he done too much on his first day back she worried? This was ridiculous, she told herself. She had genuine concerns and there was no point in going on. Alex knew well enough to know that she could not paste over the cracks and hope things would work out. One failed marriage already was testimony to that and she couldn’t have it again, even with the immense love she had for the man before her. Alex took a deep breath.

            “ Walker ,” She looked him in the eyes again, “you know I love you and I’ll always love you, don’t you?” Her fiance’s demeanor was serious as he nodded. She continued,

“But … you know, I think… I know… you love me. I know you don’t say it unprompted too often, but I know you do.” Walker hadn’t attempted to interrupt and she hurried on, “But, I… I don’t think marriage maybe the best thing for us right now. I think, I think it’s too big of a commitment for both of us.” And with that Alex looked for his reply. When his fingers stopped running over hers, Alex swapped roles and caressed his.

            “Before I was injured, I asked you to set a date for us to get married. You were as happy as I’d seen you. What’s happened to change your mind?”

            “Look at me, Walker.” It wasn’t her physical appearance to which Alex referred, and to illustrate she indicated around her office with a sweep of her hand. “I’m a Deputy District Attorney. I have my own apartment, my own car, I’ve saved quite a bit of money, and I’ve worked damn hard of all of it.”      

            Puzzled, Walker frowned, ‘I know that.” he said evenly.

            “What we’ve just experienced isn’t our first trauma and I hate to say it, but with your job and mine, we know it won’t be the last, don’t we?” she nodded at the end and it made Walker nod in agreement.

            “Yeah.”

“So what happens next time? What happens when you need time alone? I can’t understand why you push me away, but I’ve grown to accept this is how it’ll be. But, Walker , what happens when I’ve given up my apartment and you want to be alone? You can’t deal with me being there. Where am I going to go after we’re married? Jimmy’s? Or spend the night in my car again?” Alex’s voice faltered slightly, “I can’t get past it, Walker . I have my independence and self respect, and I’m not sure I want to give that up anymore.”

            Walker was astounded, his lower jaw dropping slightly. Their hands fell apart and finally he found his voice, swallowing first before he answered. “What do you mean spend the night in your car again?” His train of thought raced, “You mean …the night I asked you to leave?” and he carried on in alarm, the pieces of the puzzled becoming clear. “But …I heard you drive away.”

            “I drove as far as the freeway and came back. I couldn’t bear to leave you like that.”

            “What?” Walker was both horrified and adamant, “If I’d known you’d come back I wouldn’t have left you outside! But why didn’t I hear you?” His mind struggled to work it out. “You …you must have come back when I was trying to take a shower. Alex. You must know I’d never leave you like that!”

            The blond slowly nodded. “It doesn’t change anything.” her voice trembled, “The bottom line - is that you didn’t want me there.”

            Walker rose to his feet, stepped a few paces away and turned while speaking, his voice rushed. “That’s not true – not like that. I’m not going to say I’ll change when we both know there will be times when I’d like to get away. That’s a reflection of me! Not of you, not of Trivette! It’s the way I am.” He paused, “Look …” his voice took on a gentle tone, “since we’ve known each other, there’s been times I’ve had to take off alone, right?”

            “Right.” Alex agreed.

            “Alex - think of the circumstances this time. I had to face my fears my own way. But because of my injuries I couldn’t leave for the badlands - I had no alternative but stay at the ranch.” He walked nearer to her. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want you – not like that, but something I had to do.” Walker ’s voice broke slightly and he fought against it. “I promise you. Those circumstances will never happen again. I’d never ask you to leave and knowingly have you sleep in the car! You believe that, don’t you?”

            That was about the longest Alex had heard Walker talk at one time, although the nights they were by themselves they would talk for hours. It was when Walker was around people that he would become shyer and more reserved. She sighed deeply. It was obvious when he refused the hospital program he was prepared to go it alone, and, Alex reasoned, it wasn’t like he could get away. But he hadn’t wanted her there the next night, but he was happy for White Eagle to be there. Alex’s thoughts played tennis. Still, White Eagle had made a great difference to him – maybe she was jealous of White Eagle? Oh for goodness sakes! Whatever gave Walker back his pride and some of his abilities – she would want that for him, of course she would. She sighed deeply again, suddenly feeling very tired.

            “I don’t know, I honestly don’t.”

            “When you sat on the porch crying - it about broke my heart. I was coming to get you when you left, but I couldn’t get to you in time. I’m sorry I hurt you. I didn’t know you stayed in your car.”

            The nearness of him. Alex closed her eyes. “And I can’t help how I feel. Before, being your wife was all I wanted to be, now …now - I don’t know. I’m apprehensive. I know marriage would mean you giving up your independence, but I’m giving up a lot too. My independence, my apartment! Maybe …maybe getting married isn’t right for either of us.”

  Walker moved to hold her close, stroking her hair and running his hand up and down her back. Abruptly he stopped and stepped back, his voice quietly urgent.

“Promise me you’ll stay here? I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Where are you going?”

“My office. Alex, I said I’ll be back in a minute – just promise me you won’t leave?”

Alex shrugged, “Okay.”

Walker backed away. “Promise?” he asked again.

“Yeah, I promise!” She could help but give a small smile. He was impossible at times like this – well, he was impossible most times, she conceded, but that love for him was so strong.

True to his word he returned a few minutes later, panting slightly; he must have run up and down the stairs. In his hand he held up a tri-fold document. Walker stopped for a second, then approached her, handing over the papers.

“What’s this?”

Walker just stood, waiting for her to open them.

“They’re …” Alex expertly scanned the legal documents, “the title deeds to your ranch?”

He nodded.

“Made out to you,” Alex’s head came up sharply, “and me?”

Walker nodded again.

“You’ve …given me half your ranch?” Alex was incredulous.

Our ranch.” Walker looked uncomfortable, “When I knew I was going to ask you to marry me, I had the deeds changed. It …it was going to be my wedding gift to you.” He bit his lip before going on, “I’m aware what you’d be giving up by becoming my wife, and I wanted to make sure you were in no doubt it would be our home.”

Alex stared at the papers, up to Walker , and back to the papers. “I …I …don’t know what to say.” she tailed off.

The bearded Ranger suddenly pinched the bridge of his nose and quickly fingered away a tear before it escaped. His lower lip trembled and there was no disguising his choked voice this time.

“I can’t lose you now, Alex. I’m not good at saying how I feel, but … you mean everything to me. You have to know that.” his head lowered and it seemed like he didn’t know what to do with his hands, or whether he should go to her or not. He seemed lost.

“Oh, Walker !” Alex moved towards him and ran her arms around his waist. They embraced with passion and fervor, finally kissing each other over and over.

“I’m sorry.” Walker uttering between kisses.

“So am I. ” she whispered breathlessly. She was helpless and overcome.

“I’d give my life for you.” He kissed her nose, her eyes, her eyebrows, and started back on her lips.

“You’d give your life for anyone,” Alex returned, without missing a beat or his kisses.

“Yeah,” Walker conceded, nibbling at her ear, “but you’d get first place.”

And the idiocy of his remark caused chuckles.

He pulled back to view her.

“I do love you.”

Alex slowly nodded, “Yeah. I know.” And her smile brought further light to his eyes. She turned serious again. “But you shouldn’t have made out half your ranch to me. It’s too much.”

“Not really. Actually, it’s a pretty poor gesture - compared to donating a cornea.” Walker ’s head tilted a little to one side as he viewed her.

Alex was silent.

“Cat got your tongue?”

“Oh. That.”

“Yeah, that.”

A moment of silence ensured while Alex avoided Walker ’s gaze. The Ranger’s hand left her waist and leveled her chin.

Alex Cahill ! If the meanest scumbag can’t get away from me, do you really think I’m going to let a special woman like you do it?

Alex couldn’t help herself, and let out a loud laugh, her hand automatically covering her mouth as her sense of humor kicked in.

“I’m compared to the meanest scumbag now? If I look hard enough I’m sure there’s a compliment in there somewhere!”

When it came to words he didn’t stand a chance with one of the toughest prosecutors in Texas - and Walker knew it. His frustration tumbled over.

“Dang it, Alex!  Is there another reason why you can’t marry me?”

The chuckling subsided at her Ranger’s anguish and the soft blue of her eyes scoured his face. The smile this time was one of warmth. “No.” came a husky whisper.

“So, does that mean, you’ll still marry me?”

The beautiful blond decided to not to prolong the agony, and grinning, Alex sought his lips, mumbling, “I guess it does.”

Witnessing Cordell Walker ’s obvious sigh of relief, re-engaging his lips, Alex felt a shudder of passion thudding with each beat of her heart.

The tough but tender Texas Ranger was making sure his bride-to-be knew she had made the right decision, but then, Alex reasoned, Walker’s actions always were louder than his words…

~ The End ~