To Breathe Again


Disclaimer - I do not own any rights to, nor am I in any way affiliated with the television show "Hunter", its staff or characters.

(Chapter One)

"Dee Dee. Telephone," Alex put the phone on the table and sat on the sofa.


"Hey, stranger."

Dee Dee smiled broadly at hearing the voice. "Hey. How are you?"

"I'm doing well," Rick Hunter answered. "And you?"

"I'm fine. Getting bigger every day," Dee Dee chuckled.

"Yeah, I can imagine. And I know you're only using your pregnancy as an excuse to pig out. What better way to eat all you want and not have anyone get wise to you?" Rick laughed.
"I don't eat that much. Well, not that much, that often, anyway." Dee Dee laughed as she defended herself.

"Yeah, sure," Rick said with a smile. "Remember, I've seen you pack it away when you weren't pregnant. And you're only five months along, so I can imagine what the next four months will be like."

"Alright, alright….enough about my eating habits," Dee Dee laughed. "When are you coming over to visit?"

Alex cringed at hearing his wife's question. He and Rick haven't seen each other since the wedding nearly three years ago, and not enough time had passed for him.

"I don't know." Rick answered. "Maybe I'll get there before the baby comes, but I can't promise," Rick was in no hurry to see Alex again. He never got over how he basically stole Dee Dee from him, and how he'd allowed him to do it.

"We've been waiting for you to visit for nearly three years," Dee Dee added. "Get your butt on a plane and get it over here."

"If I can get a break from work…."

"Come on, Rick. I know you have lots of unused vacation time, and if you don't use it, you'll lose it. Am I not worth using it on?" Dee Dee was only half joking. She'd had heard all the excuses before, and it bothered her. She was truly concerned that he may not want to see her again.

"Of course you're worth it. It's just that I'm overloaded with work. You know how that goes. And I never know when a lead will come through. Besides, I'm dealing with a whole new setup, new captain, new commissioner, new co-workers, you know…" Rick noted that his reply sounded harsh. "I'm not pushing you aside, Dee Dee. I hope you know that. I just need to find the right time. Okay?"

Dee Dee sighed with disappointment. "Yeah, I understand."

Rick felt he'd hurt her feelings and he wanted to lighten the mood. "Tell me more about the plans for the nursery."

Dee Dee chuckled. "You're kidding. Since when are you interested in a baby's nursery?"

"I can take an interest in something other than work, ya know. Besides, it'll help me out when I'm ready to do some shopping."

"Okay…if you say so." With a fair amount of surprise, Dee Dee began a description, and noticed that Rick did seem genuinely interested in the color scheme and furnishing ideas that would suit a boy or a girl. After she'd finished with her ideas, she continued to reminisce with Rick about their past in the workforce together. Alex sat in the background with a huge sigh escaping his lips, while rustling the newspaper as his way of showing that he was annoyed.

Dee Dee got the hint, but she didn't look back and continued her conversation.

After several minutes had passed, the friends finished their conversation. And whether they meant it or not, they made plans to talk again soon. Their calls had become further apart lately, and Dee Dee feared she was losing the close connection with Rick. She wanted so badly to reconnect with him on the level they were on before her marriage, but she wasn't sure of how she'd do it. As she sat across the room from Alex, she wanted to tell him how much she enjoyed hearing from Rick, but she knew Alex didn't want to hear it. She began to flip through a magazine while thinking of Rick's reasons for not visiting, and she knew that it all boiled down to her being with Alex. On many occasions, Alex would complain about her talking to Rick, saying that she should look for new friends; friends that were actually in the same country as she was. He'd remind her that her time as a cop was over, and if she wanted to move on and away from that life, she should cut all ties to anything and to anyone from that life. It was really hard for her to even think of cutting ties with Rick. She did want to keep a happy marriage, but felt if Alex truly wanted her to be happy, he'd understand that her friendship with Rick was of great importance to her.

Dee Dee caught her husband glancing over at her, and she couldn't contain herself any longer. "Alex?"


"Do you think you could try and like Rick a little more?"

"Why?" Alex had always thought of Rick being conceited and too involved in Dee Dee's life when it came to her relationship with him. "Why should I do that?"

"Because he's my best friend, and he'll be an important part of our baby's life. And I want us all to be able to be in one room without tension building up."

Alex saw the gloomy look on Dee Dee's face, but didn't show any sign of being affected by it.

Dee Dee continued. "He's very special to me, Alex. He's also going to be our child's uncle."

"Not really. He's not related to either of us, so…" Alex shifted his weight and pulled the newspaper back in front of his face.

"Well, if I say so, then he will be." Dee Dee retorted. She'd truly wanted Rick to be the child's Godfather, but she and Alex always wound up in a huge fight about that.

Alex pulled the newspaper down and looked at his wife sternly. "I say you're wrong. Rick Hunter is not a part of this family."

"Why do you dislike him so much?"

Alex put the newspaper on the table. "Have you ever asked him why he dislikes me?"

"Can't you answer my question, please?"

"He's arrogant, "Alex said flatly.

"Rick…arrogant?" Dee Dee said in surprise. "He's very down-to-earth. He's never given any indication that he thinks he better than anyone else."

"Well, you asked, and I told you." Alex studied Dee Dee for a moment before asking his question again. "Are you going to tell me why he doesn't like me?"

Dee Dee thought of a couple of reasons. One was because of how Alex had scolded her for "allowing" herself to get hurt on the job. Another was how he had her extremely upset and confused about her feelings toward him and how she'd pushed Rick away in the process.

"Well…?" Alex interrupted Dee Dee's thoughts.

"He doesn't really dislike you. It's just that he was surprised at how quickly we decided to get married. You two just got off on the wrong foot." It was Dee Dee's best explanation for now. "Maybe one day you'll be able to find a common interest." She sighed and put her hands on her protruding tummy.

Alex stood and extended his hand to his wife and pulled her close to him. "We already have one…
you." He smiled and kissed her softly on the cheek.

"Then, why do you get upset when I talk to him?"

Alex wasn't about to tell her the truth, that he feared that Rick would take her away from him. When Rick confessed that he loved Dee Dee while in his hotel room in LA, Alex knew that it was a love that extended beyond friendship and partnership. Rick Hunter was in love with Dee Dee McCall, and Alexander Turnan knew he had to act fast if he wanted to keep her for himself.

"Well, why do you get upset?" Dee Dee asked again.

"Because he reminds you of your past. And within that past, you have a lot of bad memories. I want you to be happy, and I don't feel that you can be unless you forget about those things. With the baby coming, you need to start off with nothing but positive thoughts. Rick can't be a part of that."

Dee Dee pulled away from her husband in surprise. "Alex, I can't believe you said that." She moved to the center of the room and folded her arms in defense. "I had some really great times back then, too. Those are the things that kept me going when times were tough, and Rick contributed to the majority of my happiness. He was there when I lost Steve, when I was raped …for everything I've suffered, he got me through it."

"Yeah, you did a lot of suffering during your time with Hunter. Did you ever think he was bad luck for you?" Alex smirked.

Dee Dee gasped at the shocking remarks. "How can you say that? Rick was the best thing to ever happen to me after Steve! He saved my life! You don't care about that, do you?" With her eyes burning and filling with tears, she ran upstairs and slammed the bedroom door shut. With her face buried in the pillows, Dee Dee cried over her husband's hurtful words, her dwindling closeness with Rick, and the idea of bringing her baby into an unhappy marriage.

Meanwhile, Alex sat and thought of what he'd just said. He really didn't feel any remorse, and felt good to get his thoughts out into the open. He stood by the mantle with a drink in his hand. "Hunter can never have her. Whether I'm dead or alive, he'll never have her."