“Missing Scene from “No Way Out.”

Warming Up
By Londa Pfeffer

Walker heard the sound of approaching voices and called out, “we’re in here! Hurry!” He cradled Alex closer, hoping she could draw warmth from his body. He was glad for the arrival of the paramedics, otherwise he’d have been torn between staying with Alex and checking on his partner. The younger man lay unmoving, too exhausted to shiver. Only the faint puffs of condensation as he breathed assured Walker he’d survived.
Two EMT’s stepped into the tank, one heading for Trivette and the other for Alex. Walker eased his hold so the medic could work, but didn’t release her altogether. He couldn’t … not yet.

Ten minutes later the medics were ready to transport their patients. Both had been loaded unto stretchers, with Alex being taken out first. Climbing to his feet, Walker took the opportunity to check on Trivette. The black Ranger stirred slightly on the gurney, but didn’t open his eyes. Kneeling next to him, Walker laid a hand on Trivette’s chest. A rush of emotion swamped him, and he cleared his throat, then whispered, “Thanks, pard. I owe you.”
At that moment, the EMT’s returned. The bearded Ranger once again got to his feet then stepped out of their way. He let them remove Trivette from the tank first, then followed behind.
As he stepped outside, the hair on his neck prickled, and his hand automatically hovered over his holstered gun. Taking a deep breath, he turned around, looking for the reassurance of Hook’s body.
But instead, he found only empty space. His mind reeled in stunned incomprehension. How is that possible! I killed him this time. I know I did!
Maniacal laughter surrounded him, echoing off the tanks. Looking around wildly, Walker drew his gun……

O O O

The bearded Ranger woke with a gasp, unsure at first of his surroundings. The steady beeping of a heart monitor brought memory back with a rush. A dream …. it was only a dream! Checking his watch, he climbed out of the uncomfortable chair, stepping over to the bedside to study the occupant.
Walker brushed a lock of hair back from Alex’s forehead, careful not to disturb her further. She’d finally dropped of to sleep about half an hour ago. Tremors still coursed through her limbs, but not nearly as strong now.
He pulled a chair close to the bed and took a seat, then reached out, lightly grasping Alex’s hand.
A nurse came in, checking the I.V. and taking Alex’s temperature and pulse. She made some notations on the chart and smiled at Walker. “She’s doing fine, Ranger. Her temperature’s nearly back to normal.”
“Thanks,” the bearded Ranger whispered, not taking his eyes from Alex’s face. “And my partner?”
“He’s doing as well as can be expected,” the woman answered. “In addition to being hypothermic, he’s got a moderate concussion and is pretty badly bruised, but it doesn’t look like there’s any broken bones or internal bleeding. On the whole, pretty lucky for a man who was hit by a car.”
“Hit by a car?” Walker blinked several times, not sure he’d heard right.
“Your friend … Ranger Parker, said I was to tell you not to worry. He’s keeping an eye on Ranger Trivette himself.” Giving the man a friendly smile, the nurse turned and left the room.
Hit by a car .. The words echoed through Walker’s mind as he turned back to study Alex. So close. My God. I came so close to losing two of the most important people in my life. Again. He bowed his head until it touched their joined hands. It didn’t happen. She’s here. Alive and safe! And Trivette’s going to be okay. He gently kissed Alex’s hand, relishing the living warmth.
And this time, Hooks was dead. There could be no doubt about it. Walker had personally checked the body.
Alex opened her eyes, looking around wildly until she caught sight of him. She relaxed, a small smile tugging at her lips. “Hey, Cowboy …”
“Hey, yourself,” he answered with a smile, climbing to his feet and bending over to kiss her gently. “I was hoping you’d sleep a little longer.”
“I keep remembering the tank,” she whispered, eyes clouding over. “If it hadn’t been for Jimmy…” Her brow furrowed in a frown. “How is he? Is he going to be okay?”
“I just talked to the nurse a few minutes ago. She said he’s got a concussion, and he’s pretty badly bruised, but that he’ll be okay.” He considered her next words carefully. “Alex, what do you know about him getting hit by a car”?
“Oh, Walker … when I first saw him in the tank, I thought he was dead,” the blonde whispered. Clearing her throat, she softly continued. “He kept saying he was all right, but I could tell by the way he moved something was wrong. God, Walker, I don’t think I’d have made it without him. I know I wouldn’t have. He kept me going, kept me going, kept me focused. On you.” She gave him a weak smile.

The Ranger swallowed the lump in his throat. He knew Alex and Trivette had a strong friendship. Knew also that his partner would have done whatever he could to keep Alex hanging on. He had a lot to thank the younger man for.
“And he kept looking for a way out, too. Wouldn’t give up. He knew you’d be looking for us and wanted to be free to back you up.” She stopped, shivering as the memory played out.
“Hey, you still cold?” Walker stood, looking for another blanket.
“No.” Alex reached out a hand to him. “It’s just that … Well, Jimmy did find a way out, Walker. And I could hear him fighting, but then it stopped.” Tears filled her eyes. “I was so scared when they dumped him back in the tank. He was unconscious, but at first I thought they’d killed him.”
“Unconscious?” the Ranger asked, concerned. No wonder the doctor wanted to keep a close eye on Trivette. “Did he say how it happened”?
“He thinks someone hit him from behind, but he couldn’t really be sure.”
Walker felt a sudden need to check on his friend. Standing up, he leaned close to Alex and kissed her gently on the lips. Drawing back a bit, he asked, “Will you be okay on your own for a few minutes? I’d like to check in on him myself.”
“I’m fine, Walker,” the blonde assured, smiling. “Go. Give Jimmy my love.”
Nodding, the bearded man strode to the door.

C.D. woke from a light doze as light from the hallway suddenly hit his face. Peering at the silhouette in the doorway, he whispered, “Cordell? That you?”
“Yeah, C.D.” The younger man stepped inside the room. Looking at the bed, he said, “How is he?”
“He’s doing okay, Cordell. Sleeping sound as a bab-“
“Kinda hard to sleep with all that racket,” complained Trivette, grinning to show he didn’t mean it.
“Hey, pard.” Walker stepped closer to the bed. “How’re you feeling?”
“I’m doin’ okay.” The black Ranger shifted in the bed, bringing the covers up closer to his neck.
C.D. cleared his throat. “I, uh, think I’ll go find myself a cup of coffee. Stretch my legs, maybe look in on Alex a bit.
The partners exchanged amused glances, aware of the motives behind their friend’s action. As the old man left the room, Walker called out, “Thanks, C.D.”
“How’s Al?” Trivette asked after a moment.
“She’s doing fine. Her temperature’s nearly back to normal, the shivering’s stopped. Matter of fact, I’d say she’s in better shape than you right now.” The bearded Ranger peered closely at his friend.
“I’m find,” the younger man said, frowning. “Told you that already.”
“Yeah, right.” Walker reached out, not quite touching the bruised right cheekbone. “I heard you were bounced off the hood of a car. That’s not exactly fine.”
Trivette jerked his head away, wincing as sore muscles protested. “Yeah, well, I guess Superman forgot his cape when he left the house this morning.”
Surprised at the bitter tone, the bearded Ranger said, “What’s that supposed to mean? I wasn’t—“
“Forget it,” the injured man snapped. “Just forget it, okay?”
Walker sat on the edge of the bed. “You think you can? Just….close your eyes and it’ll go away?”
Meeting his partner’s gaze, Trivette saw the understanding there. Walker wouldn’t condemn him for this. That certainly helped.
“No.” Picking lint from the blanket, Trivette whispered, “Man, I blew it, Walker. Fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book like a green rookie.” He shook his head, disgusted. “I deserved what I got.”
“No one deserved that. How’d it go down?”
“Ah, I got a call from Dispatch say you wanted to meet me at a warehouse. When I got there, I didn’t see your truck. Shoulda known then it was a set-up. But no. I just had to go in and take a look around.”
“The message came from Dispatch? Sounded legit, right?” Walker asked. At his partner’s nod, he said, “Then I’d have done the same thing.”
“Yeah, except that damned Cherokee sense of yours probably wouldn’t have let you get past the door without drawing your gun.”
The older Ranger frowned at the self-contempt in his friend’s voice. Trying reason, he said, “Trivette, you’re forgetting one thing. Hooks wanted you – no matter what. Even if you’d never gone into that warehouse, he’d have found another way to get at you.” Giving his partner a moment to consider his words, he continued, “I owe you, partner.”
“Me?” Trivette wondered if he looked as shocked as he felt. “For what?”
Walker shifted uncomfortably. Words never came easily, but he knew his partner needed to hear them. Taking a deep breath, he said, “You kept Alex’s spirits up. Kept her going. You gave her something to hold onto when she might have given up otherwise.”
“I …..couldn’t let her die Walker.” Trivette shook his head. “Couldn’t let Hooks win.” There was so much more he wanted to say, but the words wouldn’t come.
The other man nodded, understanding the unsaid. Patting his friend’s let, he said, “Get some sleep, okay? I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, ‘Night, Walker.”

With a yawn, Jimmy flicked through the limited cable channels available on the hospital’s television. Talk shows, old movies and cooking shows. And not a decent sports channel in the choices.
A knock at his door startled him. He wondered who’d be visiting at noon. Couldn’t be Walker or C.D., they were working. Besides, they wouldn’t knock. Neither would hospital staff. One way to find out, Jimmy. And so he called, “Come in!”
The door opened to admit Alex, pushing herself through in a wheelchair. She smiled tentatively. “Hey, Jimmy. You up for some company?”
“Hi, Al!” He beckoned her in. “Yeah. Beats what’s on television any day.” He aimed the remote at the set and shut it off. “So did they let you out of your room, or did you escape?”
The blonde chuckled. I basically told the head nurse she had a choice. Get me a wheelchair or I was going to walk down that hallway myself to see how you were doing. Five minutes later they got me this chair.”
The Ranger grinned. “Way to go Counselor! So, how’re you feeling?”
Alex took a moment to consider, “I’m …. Doing okay. I can’t get warm enough, but the doctor said that’s to be expected. And it’ll get better in time.”
“Yeah, same here,” Jimmy agreed. A shiver coursed through him. “I don’t think I’ve ever been as cold as I was in that damned tank. And let me tell you, there were some winters back in Baltimore that were pretty brutal. Days we didn’t have heat in the apartment. But that was different kind of cold, y’know?”
The woman nodded. “I really thought we weren’t going to make it out of there alive, Jimmy. It got to the point where I just couldn’t keep going, I was too cold to even care.”
Memory shadowed Trivette’s eyes. “Yeah, I was pretty out of it too. Went down for the last time and that’s when I saw Walker. Thought I was hallucinating or something. I thought I even dreamed banging on the window. Didn’t think I had enough strength left. But I must’ve, ‘cause he turned around and saw me. Next thing I know, all the water’s rushing out of that tank. And I was still cold.”
Alex hugged her robe around her. “I think it’s going to be a long time before I can enjoy being in the water again.”
“I was thinking that too,” the Ranger answered quietly.
That startled Alex. Jimmy was an excellent swimmer. He’d participated in several triathlons even. “You can’t be serious, Jimmy! Hooks wins in a way, if you let what he did to us affect you like that!”
“Hey, I didn’t say I’d never swim again,” Trivette said. “It’s just … it might take me awhile to really want to, y’know?”
“Yeah, I know.” Unsteadily climbing out of the wheelchair, Alex took the few steps to the bed and sat on the edge. “Thank you, Jimmy. For being there. You never gave up. Never let me give up.” She reached out and gave him a hug. “Y’know, as cold as we were physically? That’s how cold Hooks was. In his heart.” She shivered.
Returning the hug, Jimmy nodded. Realizing she couldn’t see it, he said, “He was dead inside a long time ago, Al. His body just didn’t know it.”
They pulled back and Alex lightly touched the bruise on his cheek. “I should’ve asked … how are you feeling?” She frowned in concern.
Jimmy shrugged. “I’m okay. A little stiff and sore. Nothing that won’t heal.”
“Ah-hah!” The door opened to admit Walker and behind him, C.D. “So this is where you escaped to, young lady!” The bearded Ranger walked in and gave Alex a kiss on the cheek.
She laughed, “I was going stir-crazy on my own! Besides, I wanted to see for myself how Jimmy was doing.” She rested a hand on the black Ranger’s leg.
“How are you doing, son?” C.D. asked, approaching the bed.
“Fine, Big Dog! Ready to get out of here, that’s for sure.” Jimmy sat up straighter.
“Not so fast,” Walker laughed. “They still want to keep you both one more night for observation.” His eyes darkened. “That was … just a little too close for comfort.”
Alex and Trivette exchanged quick glances, and shared a smile. Though neither one particularly wanted to spend another night in the hospital, they were touched by their companions’ concern. It warmed them both in a way nothing else could reach.
“What’re you guys doing here, anyway?” Jimmy asked. “Not that it isn’t good to see you,” he quickly tacked on, seeing C.D. about to object.
“Well, we just happened to be in the neighborhood,” Walker explained, grinning as he hugged Alex close to him.
“Mmm, a gal could get used to this,” she said snuggling close.
Jimmy winked. “That’s one way to get warm, Al.”
She giggled. “Don’t I know it!”
The two survivors shared another glance, knowing the warmth they both felt now had nothing to do with the physical, and yet was more important in the long run.
“Y’know, when you two get out of here, I’m gonna take you straight to my place and get some of my latest chili in you!” C.D. snapped his fingers. “That’ll warm you up just fine.”
Jimmy groaned. “C.D.! Please …. I just had one narrow brush with death. I don’t need another right on top of it.”
“Why you—“ the ex-Ranger sputtered.
Walker and Alex laughed at the exchange and soon C.D. joined in.

The End