Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Walker, Texas Ranger
Character/Pairing: Gage/Sydney, mild Walker/Alex
Challenge/Prompt: whatif_au 15: Tales From the Dark Side
Word Count: 2,626
Date Written: 27 June 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
“Go ahead,” Sydney said through gritted teeth as she trained her gun on the bastard she and the other Texas Rangers had been hunting ever since the night before when he’d taken a lucky pot shot and felled her partner. “Shoot me. What’s two Texas Rangers when you’ve already killed one? They’re going to fry your ass anyway.”
Tears stung her brown eyes as she kept her gun carefully leveled on him. She tried to shake the images of Gage’s still body laying in the hospital bed, but she couldn’t. She hadn’t been able to shake him from her thoughts ever since he’d been shot. She’d come so close just last week to finally telling him how she truly felt, but she hadn’t. Now she would never get a chance. He’d never get a chance to smile again, to tease her, to even open his beautiful eyes -- and it was all this lowly crook’s fault. He wasn’t even a big key player, just some punk who’d thought he’d make a name for himself by taking out a Ranger. Her Ranger.
“SHOOT ME!” she screamed when her partner’s killer just stood there. “SHOOT ME!”
“I didn’t mean to -- “
“YOU DIDN’T MEAN TO KILL HIM?! YEAH RIGHT!”
“I didn’t mean to -- “
“SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP AND SHOOT ME!”
“I’m not going to -- “
Sydney forced her shaking breathing to become steady. She had no one there for backup or to cover her while she made the arrest, but there was no way in Hell she was letting Gage’s murderer go free. “Fine,” she muttered, biting off the words as though they had a sour taste in her mouth, and indeed they did. “Don’t shoot me. Just shut up and let me arrest you.” She slid her gun into her holster, more than half hoping the creep would make a move, but he put his hands up over his head and kept them there as she closed in on him.
She grabbed his wrists and started reading him his rights as she brought them behind his back. “You have the right to remain silent.”
“I really didn’t -- “
Something inside of her snapped just then. “I said you have the right to remain silent!” She struck him hard across the mouth. “So shut up!” She didn’t want to hear one more word out of his filthy, stupid mouth. She didn’t want to hear an excuse. Her partner was dead! The man she loved and had never told was dead!
“He shot him because we were trying to get our brother free,” a new voice said.
Sydney whirled around, her arm snaking out, wrapping around Gage’s murderer’s throat, and yanking his body to her. She looked wildly up at the newcomer to the alley. He had a gun on her already, but she kept the other perp between them. “Just like you’re going to release Marty and let him come with me.”
“No way in Hell.”
“Yes, chica, there’s a way. You either let him go or I take him.”
“What are you going to do? Shoot me through him? You’ve already killed a damn good man today, better than you two will ever be put together! Why not add to your kill count?”
“I didn’t mean to -- “
“SHUT UP!” they both roared at Marty.
Sydney yanked him closer, practically waving his body in between herself and his brother. “Go ahead,” she taunted. “Shoot me, but you’ll have to shoot him first.”
“Chica, be reasonable -- “
“YOU WANT REASONABLE?!” she screamed. “REASONABLE DIED IN THE HOSPITAL TODAY! DAMN IT!” she cussed as her tears started to flow. Yet she laughed through them. Everyone had always thought she was the reasonable one. Even when she and Gage had first come to be with the Rangers, when Walker had first given them a chance to redeem themselves, everybody had taken one look at their partnership and automatically believed that she was the reasonable one.
She didn’t crack jokes like Gage did, but she had a wild streak like a mustang running free. He had been her tether. He had kept her going and from going too far. He had kept her sane when everything else in their world had falling apart. He had been the light to her darkness, the gentle hand that lifted the burdens from her conscience, the one who could always make her laugh, could always calm her down, could always make her see that there was a better way to life and living than just surviving. He had been her family, her hero, and he was dead.
Because of these assholes in front of her. “YOU WANT HIM, TAKE HIM!” she screamed. She threw Marty at his brother, yanked her gun out of her holster, and took two quick, surefire shots. Both men fell instantly dead, and Sydney was left staring at her gun. Her hands started to shake. She dropped her gun and wailed.
Behind her, as if from a long, long distance away, she heard running footsteps. “COVER ME!” Walker bellowed to Trivette as he swept down the alley. He plunged onto his knees in the dirt beside Syd and grabbed her shoulders. “Are you hurt?”
She shook her head, tears she no longer seemed to able to stop streaming down her face. She tried to talk, but no words would come out. Walker looked from the kid who’d become like a daughter to him to the two dead perps. He recognized one of them immediately and saw the familial resemblance in the other. “You stopped them. They must’ve come at you together. You didn’t have a choice.”
He gathered her into his arms and was trying to hold her against him as she struggled to break free when Trivette’s cell phone suddenly rang. He listened to the one side of the conversation he could hear, but it wasn’t until after the call that Trivette’s words broke through to Sydney. “That was the hospital,” he said.
“HE’S DEAD!” Sydney wailed, and where her tears had been a flood before, they now became a typhoon. She sobbed and wailed, and Walker held her strong against him, stroking her hair, holding to her face, and rocking her.
Neither knew how long had passed before her tears finally subsided enough that she heard him at last, “No.”
She looked at him in disbelief and confusion through her tear-filled eyes. “What do you mean?” she asked hoarsely. “No?”
“He’s not dead,” Walker answered simply.
“He’s not --?! But --?! But they said it was one in a million -- “
“Evidently Gage is that one in a million,” Walker replied, a grin beginning to break through the hard, craggy surface of his face.
She sat in stunned disbelief. “He’s alive? He’s alive?!”
Walker hugged her and pulled her to her feet. “Yes, Sydney, he’s alive.”
He looked up as other Rangers started coming into the alley and nodded at the two people Syd had killed. “Ranger Cooke was defending herself,” he said stauntly. “Trivette, you help the boys take care of this.”
His partner nodded. “You get her to the hospital.”
“I am,” he said. Sydney let him lead her away in stunned silence. She barely blinked during the entire, silent drive to the hospital. Yet when they pulled up, her steps weren’t hurried. They were slow and small, almost timid.
CD and Alex looked up as they entered Gage’s room. Alex rushed to her husband and threw herself into his opening arms. CD murmured something about getting coffee and took his leave from the room, pushing Alex and Walker out with him and shutting the door behind them. Sydney stood just inside the hospital room, feeling as small as she had when she’d gone to see her mother on her deathbed when she had only been a child.
It was Gage who spoke first as he gingerly pushed himself up on his elbows and looked at her. “Come here,” he called to her. He held a hand up to her. “Syd,” he called again gently, “come here.”
She started to take small steps forward, slowly closing the distance between them. There was so much she wanted to tell him, so much she needed to tell him! But damn her for being a woman if she didn’t start crying again as she drew closer to him! She started to move back away, to make some excuse, any excuse to keep him from seeing how weak she was being, but before she could move, he reached out, grabbed her hand, and tugged her closer. “Don’t go,” he said simply. A groan from his efforts pierced his words, but as he laid back down, he repeated his plea, “Don’t go.”
“I -- I won’t,” she whispered. “I -- I just I didn’t want you to see me like this.”
“Syd,” he gazed up into her tear-ravaged eyes, “only you expect you to be strong all the time.” He gripped her hand hard enough to make himself believe she wouldn’t be able to escape him and rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb. “I love you just the way you are, insecurities, tears, and all. There’s nothing I don’t know or love about you.”
“I -- I “ Her voice shook. She shook. Her hand trembled inside of his, and for the first time, she realized how much larger his hands were compared to hers. There was something he didn’t know about her, she thought, her mind flashing back onto the events in the alley. There was something he didn’t know and couldn’t possibly love about her. But no one knew it, no one but she herself. She had killed two people today because she’d wholeheartedly believe that one of them had taken Gage from her. Now she had another chance. She wasn’t about to blow it this time! “I love you too!” she gasped out.
The huge grin that broke across his handsome face was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. He pulled her close to him, wrapped his arms around her, buried his face in her long, soft hair, and kissed her cheek. “I know,” he whispered. “Even if almost dying was what it took to finally make you admit it!” She could hear his familiar laughter in his teasing voice. “I love you too!”
She kissed him then long but not too deep. She didn’t want to risk hurting him. “Stay with me?” he asked when she finally raised up off of him. She could see his exhaustion in his weary face and hear it in his soft voice.
“Always,” she whispered, for the first time not trying to hide anything from him. She sank into the chair beside his bed and watched as he fell back asleep, all while never letting go of his hand.
Gage had just began to snore when the door cracked open. Walker peeked inside, saw the younger man was fast asleep, and slid into the room. Shutting the door securely behind him, he took off his cowboy hat and humbly walked closer.
Sydney watched him come. She recognized the grave look in his dark eyes. She should have known better than to think she’d get away with killing those bastards. She was a Texas Ranger now, and Rangers didn’t kill. With one hand still clinging to her beloved partner, Syd reached into her holster with her other hand, withdrew her gun, and offered it up to Walker, handle first, without speaking a word in her defense.
To her shock, he waved it away. “I don’t know of very many people, Sydney, who wouldn’t have done what you did today if the love of their lives had been dying because of a cop killer.” He shook his head. “I can’t even say I wouldn’t have done the same thing if it had been Alex in here.” He knew there’d been times when Trivette had had to talk him down from taking a life in the past, but she had had no one there with her today. There was no one to say the crooks would not have killed her just as they’d come so close to doing to Gage.
“Are you sure?” she whispered, her gaze flashing back to Gage. She didn’t want him to overhear a single word of this. She didn’t want him to know what she’d done, not after they’d both worked so hard to put their old lives behind them and build something new together of which they could be, and usually were, proud.
“We’ll see what comes from it,” he said gently, “but as for me and where I stand, I’m sure.” He smiled kindly down at her, and she was reminded that Gage was no longer the only one beyond what little of her blood family she had left who loved her. “Why don’t you two take the week off?”
“The week?” she asked in surprise but then swallowed her surprise and pride. He could have so easily fired her, arrested her, finished destroying her life as she had began doing earlier that day. She nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“I’ll see you Monday.”
He started to edge away, but she called after him. “Walker?”
“Thanks.” He smiled and was gone, leaving her alone with the love of her life, the love of her life to whom she had finally admitted her love. She leaned onto the hospital bed, kissed his forehead, and rested her head on his pillow next to his. Watching over him, watching the way he smiled as he slept and she knew he had to be dreaming of her, as lucky as she was to have him, she realized this wasn’t the ending at all. Marty hadn’t killed him, and in the end, his close call had only brought them closer together.
She closed her eyes as a different set of tears welled up inside of them, tears of relief, joy, gratitude, and more than a little fear. She had ended two lives today; yet a part of her felt like hers was only just beginning. She hoped no one ever found out what she had did, but even if they did, even if she ended up going to jail, she had a feeling that this wonderful man beside her would still be waiting for her when she got out. He’d waited this long, and he’d always vowed he’d wait all their lives if that’s what it took.
She reopened her eyes and brushed her tears from them with the back of her free hand. Leaning closer again, she kissed Gage’s temple. “I love you, Francis Gage,” she whispered into his ear . . . and almost jumped when his eyes flashed open.
He grinned up at her. “I love you too, Syd, and it’s about damn time you said what you mean.”
“Yes,” she agreed softly, squeezing his hand, “it is.”
“Say it again.”
“Say it again!” he urged.
“I love you,” she said.
“And I love you!” They smiled at each other and gazed into one another’s eyes until he drifted back off to sleep again. Even then she kept watching over him. She’d never let anything like this happen to him ever again, at least not as long as she could help it. And that, she realized, was exactly why she didn’t regret killing Marty and his brother. God help her, but she didn’t regret it. There were two less killers in this world now to come after her Gage and other brave men whose women loved them every bit as much. She didn’t regret doing what she’d done; she just hoped their murders never came back to bite her in the ass and destroy the happily ever after she’d finally received with the partner she’d loved all along.