"ANGELA!"

Alex shot up in the bed in the middle of the night. Walker and Angela were instantly awakened by her screams. Before either could attempt to console her, she threw off the covers and darted for the restroom. Walker quickly looked at Angela, "Stay here." He pushed aside his covers and went after her. By the time he made it to the restroom, Alex was on her knees retching over the toilet. He kneeled beside her, holding back her hair and rubbing her back. She finally collapsed back away from the toilet bowl, resting on the hard tile floor of the bathroom. Walker reached up to the sink, filled a cup with water and handed it to her. She rinsed out her mouth, leaning up to spit the water in the toilet.

"Thank you" she said as she wiped her mouth and leaned her head back against the wall in exhaustion. Walker gave her a look of concern, "What happened honey? Do you wanna talk about it?" She looked back at him with watery eyes, shaking her head, "No, I really don't wish to discuss it… but it was just graphic Walker, so very graphic. It made me sick on my stomach. It wasn't just a dream, Walker. I was reliving it." He sat beside her, running his fingers through her hair, "Oh baby, I'm so sorry, so very sorry. If there was anything I could do to take those images and memories from you, I would do it in a heartbeat." She sniffled a bit and leaned her head against him in an attempt to calm down, "I know you would honey… but I would only want to take the images back from you to reduce your own pain, and then we'd just be in a vicious cycle. I just have to learn to accept this deck of cards life's thrown at us and attempt to not crumble in the process."

Sitting beside her, Walker wrapped his arm up around her head and leaned in to kiss her brow, "That sounds like a great plan, baby. You think you're ready to get back in the bed now? It's only 3:30… we can still cuddle with Angela for a few hours before we all need to get up." She smiled at him as he proceeded to get up, and then assist her up from the floor, "Yea, that sounds good… you go on, I'll brush my teeth and be right there. Walker trekked back to the bed and climbed in. His thoughts were in a whirlwind. He laid down beside Angela and thought about the trials and tribulations his family would be facing for years to come, and all because his girls just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So often, there was a motive behind the people that came after the Walker family, but in this instance, there was none. Walker was pondering whether or not that worse when Alex slowly entered the room and came to the bed. In the moonlight, he could see the worry on her face, the tracks of tears that had incessantly fallen over the last several days. He vowed to himself then and there that he would see his family through this if it was the last thing he did.

As her parents adjusted themselves to get comfortable in the bed, Angela woke from the slight dozing she'd done after hearing her mother running from the bed a few minutes earlier. She snuggled close into her mother's side, asking, "Are you okay, Mommy?" Alex grinned back at her little girl… such the replica of her father, always concerned for others. "I'm fine sweetheart. You feeling okay? You don't need any medicine do you?" With the extent of Angela's internal injuries, Alex was amazed at the small amount of pain medicine Angela required… but again 'She's her father's daughter.' Alex thought to herself. "No, Mommy… I just wanna be here with you and Daddy. Please don't leave me alone." Alex and Walker exchanged looks of sympathy. Walker replied first, "We won't leave you alone baby girl. You're safe right here between Mommy and me. We'll always keep you safe." Alex found his statement to be slightly ironic considering the circumstances… but smiled in reassurance to Angela anyway.

Angela continued to squirm around, unable to settle herself back to sleep… even though both parents were right next to her. In an attempt to calm both his girls' nerves, Walker gently lifted Angela and laid her across his chest, settling her head over his beating heart to reassure her he was there. He then reached his arm out to Alex, drawing her to him as well. She cuddled into his left side, putting her head on that side of his chest, facing Angela. Both girls smiled at each other, and Alex draped her arm across Angela to rub her back. Walker held them both close to him, and looked toward the heavens, thanking the spirits they were in his arms. Eventually the entire family dozed off, cuddled together in the bed.

The next morning came and went quickly. Walker, the typical early riser, woke up before Alex and Angela. He gently disengaged himself from them, laid Angela back down next to Alex, where the two instantly cuddled together in their sleep. His heart overflowed with love for them. He quietly leaned over, pressing quick kisses to each forehead and walked out the room. That was the slowest part of his morning. He tended to the animals outside and washed his truck. He sat on the porch and had a chat with Trivette, who'd come to check up on his closest friends and bring Walker the locks to secure the house so Angela couldn't get out in the event of her sleepwalking; and even had Trivette fill him in on some of the cases they'd been working on before tragedy struck. He went down to the basement and got in a great work out; he'd been unable to catch one these last few days and he had to admit to himself how very therapeutic the work out was.

Alex and Angela decided to join the living around noon, coming down the stairs in search of food. Walker knew they'd be down soon and had soup and salad almost ready for them. "Well good morning and welcome to the world of the living my beautiful rays of sunshine; how are the two of you today?" Alex smiled and Angela giggled in response, "We're hungry, Daddy!" "Well that's good, because I've got Grandpa CD's old chicken soup recipe coming right up!" Angela smiled and sat at her chair, taking a sip of the milk Walker already had set out for her. Walker went up to Alex and wrapped his arms around her, kissing her soundly on the mouth. She slowly began to moan back at him, then lightly pushed him away, raising her eyes and darting them to Angela in an effort to remind him they weren't alone. He grinned back at her and Angela giggled again. "Well, Walker, if cooking makes you this happy, I may have to let you spend some more time in the kitchen!" Suggestive looks were passed between the two before the family settled down to eat.

As they finished lunch, the phone rang and Walker answered it. "Yep, alright, tomorrow at one. She'll be there. Thanks, bye." Alex looked at him concerned, "Who was that?"

"That was the doctor's office, calling to remind you about your six month check up tomorrow."

"Walker, I really don't think that's necessary right now, other things are more important… I'll call them and reschedule…"

Before she could get up and get to the phone, Walker grabbed her, twirling her back to plop in his lap. "There's nothing more important than either your or Angela's health. Baby, you know how I feel about this. You need to go... especially after all this. Please do it. For me." The pleading look in his eyes and her resolve crumbled. Ever since Angela had been born and they both nearly died, Walker was adamant about Alex receiving her biannual check up. He made it his personal mission to make sure both Alex and Angela stayed in tiptop health; he wanted them around for a long time. She smiled at him, "Alright, for you."

The afternoon went by much more leisurely in their house. Angela decided she needed some pain medicine, so after giving her a dose, Alex laid down with her on the couch to watch television for a while. Walker went to work securing the new locks out of Angela's reach on the doors. After he finished, Walker entered the living room to see Alex and Angela asleep. He turned off the television and quietly covered them. He stared at them for a moment and tears ran down his face. Alex had leaned on him as a strong pillar of support throughout this whole ordeal, but he was mad. He was furious, so furious that he didn't even know what to do. How could anyone be so sadistic as to do this to a little girl? How could anyone ruin such a small child of her innocence? How could they tear apart his wife's beautiful soul like that… damn it, he almost lost her the other day in the barn! Walker didn't remember a time in his life when he was this angry with an enemy he couldn't settle things with… for he already settled it that night in the hotel room… but Walker's heart was far from settled. How could people be so inhumane? He ran his hand through Alex's hair, tucking it behind her ear and went to the basement. Maybe a few rounds with the punching bag would help.