Author's Note: It's not necessary to have seen the show to read this fic. To get some background info I highly recommend the wonderful fanvid 'Yellow - William Buxton & Peggy Bell' by thedothatgirl on Youtube. Sorry, I'm not permitted to post the link here.
Mr. Buxton almost wore a trail into the carpet while he waited for the surgeon to emerge from William's room. The doctor had been quite adamant that no immediate family members should be present while he was assessing and treating the young man's injuries. The only person he permitted to assist him was the housekeeper since she had experience from working in field hospitals as an army nurse.
They had been in there for almost two interminable hours. Mr. Buxton had heard his son cry out a few times, and as much as it pained him that his only child was in such agony at least it gave him hope that he was still alive.
Finally the door opened and the surgeon stepped out. He had shed his coat and waistcoat, his sleeves were pushed back and he was drying his hands on a towel which showed traces of blood. Mr. Buxton paled when he saw more blood splattered over the doctor's shirtfront.
"How... how is he, doctor?"
The physician put a comforting hand on the old man's shoulder. "He is a very lucky young man to be alive. Given the extent of his injuries he must have been quite close to the blast."
Mr. Buxton had to bite his lip to stop an anguished sound from escaping him.
"Tell me the truth, doctor. Will he live?"
The surgeon looked at him earnestly. "I have stabilised him for now, and in spite of his serious condition I expect him to pull through - provided no complications arise."
"What kind of... complications?"
"Well, he has a concussion and a compound fracture of his left arm, which caused heavy blood loss. He also broke a couple of ribs, but whether or not they pierced his lung is hard to say at the moment. The same applies to other internal injuries. They are almost impossible to diagnose in the early stages. There are contusions and significant bruising all over his body, but how deep it goes and if it has affected any organs only time will tell. Your son will have to be very closely monitored, especially for signs of respiratory distress, and will require a lot of care and nursing if he is to recover completely."
"Well, I am sure nobody is better equipped than Mrs. Hargrave to deliver..."
"Your housekeeper has assisted me very ably," interrupted the physician, "but she cannot provide the care William needs. When he wakes he will be disoriented due to the concussion, and it will help to have a kind, familiar face around, somebody with whom he shares an emotional bond rather than a member of the household staff. Can you think of anybody who would fit that bill?"
Mr. Buxton sighed. "Well, there is this young woman in town. William proposed to her against my express wishes, and we had a falling out over it. Much as it irks me, I could ask her..."
"No," the surgeon said decisively. "We must keep any kind of stress or anguish from William in his current state. He will need every bit of strength he has to pull through. And I'm afraid the fact that you and he are not on good terms at the moment disqualifies you from sitting with him as well. Consider somebody else, Mr. Buxton."
The old man was actually relieved that he would not have to open his doors to Peggy Bell. And the alternative was obvious. "In that case I will ask Erminia to return. She is William's cousin and my ward; they are as close as siblings and very good friends."
"Excellent!" the doctor exclaimed. "I have administered a sedative to help William sleep through the night. Setting the bone was quite an ordeal for your son, and although he was not fully conscious the pain has exhausted him. I will return first thing in the morning. Mrs Hargrave has received detailed instructions how to care for him in the meantime, and I strongly suggest not to disturb her and the patient."
"Of course, I understand." Mr Buxton tried to be reasonable, but then the worry over his only child broke his composure. "Can I not see him, just for a moment?" It was a desperate plea, and the surgeon did not have the heart to deny the worried parent.
"Just for a moment, and only from a distance. It is also imperative not to make a sound." Mr. Buxton nodded eagerly and followed the physician into Willam's chamber.
The room was quite dark, only a single candle was burning on the nightstand so as not to disturb the patient's much needed rest while still allowing the nurse to check on her charge. William was reclining on the bed, his blond curls creating a halo around a face that was almost translucent in its paleness. Long lashes lay over dark smudges under his eyes. The left arm was swaddled in bandages, propped up by several pillows, and encased in a brace. His torso was bare, and his father could see the edge of bandages strapping his ribs peeking out from under the cover. William lay completely still, and only the shallowest rise and fall of his chest was proof that he still lived.
It cost Mr. Buxton an enormous amount of willpower not to approach the bed and wrap his son in his arms, telling him to keep fighting and that everything would be alright. So he just stood there staring until the physician lightly touched his arm and motioned to him that it was time to leave. With a last longing look and a quick prayer that the Lord may keep William in his care tonight Mr. Buxton obeyed.