This an elaboration of sentence #15 of "Admiration, Altercations and Adventure".


Somehow, they'd learned to take it for granted that their father's job could be dangerous. They were so used to being there with him for caper after caper, and the dangerous jobs were so few and far between. So of course they weren't too worried when he left to help recover stolen funds from a jewelry store that night, he'd done this sort of thing before and he would have Lieutenant Morris with him.

They certainly didn't expect to get the call every detective's family fears the most. It was Henry who picked up that call, silently took in the information with a solemn face, and broke the bad news.

"Pop's been shot," he said. "Lieutenant Morris is at the hospital, he'll tell us more when we get there."

Silently, they piled into the Chan Van and drove to the hospital. Not a single word was spoken; maybe they were too much in shock, or maybe they knew it wouldn't do any good to panic.

-x-

"He's alive," was the first thing Lieutenant Morris said when they caught up to him. A collective sigh of relief rose from the crowd.

"What happened?" Flip asked.

"Well, the crooks showed up to collect the money," the lieutenant said, "and when they caught us going through the records and searching for evidence, their ringleader got angry and pulled out a gun. He aimed for me, your father tried to talk him down, and..." He sighed. "Luckily the shot was just in his arm..."

"So...he'll be okay then, right? They'll take out the bullet, patch him up and then we can all go home, right?" Flip asked; none of his siblings missed the note of desparation in his tone. "Right, Lieutenant Morris?"

"I don't know," Morris said. "He was bleeding heavily, and he'd passed out by the time the ambulance arrived. I'm still waiting on the doctor for an update on his condition."

"How long has he been in there?" Anne asked quietly.

"It's only been ten minutes," the lieutenant said. "Come, sit down. I think we'll be waiting a while."

Fortunately, they only had to wait ten more minutes before the doctor approached them, his face somewhere between gentle and grim. Henry didn't know what to make of it.

"How is my father?" he asked. "Is he-"

"The good news is, the shot came from a standard-issue handgun," the doctor said. "And we were able to remove the bullet before any extensive damage was done. So his survival is pretty much ensured. However-"

"What do you mean, however?" Flip's eye twitched. "You got the bullet out, you stopped the bleeding, he's gonna be fine, right? Right?"

"Flip," Suzie scolded, putting a hand on his shoulder and pulling him back down onto the couch. "Doctor, what do you mean?"

"Well, he lost a lot of blood," the doctor explained. "Even if his chances of survival are good, a gunshot wound isn't just a bump on the arm. In cases like this we have to consider that the worst could happen." Mimi and Scooter's eyes widened and filled with tears as they clung to each other.

"No!" Flip cried. "You just said-"

"I'm sure it won't come to that," Lieutenant Morris said. "Right, doctor?"

"Exactly. But it's best to make sure the family is prepared for the worst case scenario, unlikely as it is," the doctor explained. "At most, he may simply need a transfusion." At this, Anne leapt out of her seat and held out her arm.

"Take my blood, then," she said. "Pop and I have the same type, I'm not scared of needles and I don't even mind resting afterwards!" The doctor smiled a little.

"That's sweet of you, but why don't we save it until we know whether he'll need it or not?"

"Just tell us straight, doc," Stanley said. "How worried should we be? I mean, is our Pop gonna live or should we be calling a funeral home?" Henry lightly jabbed him in the ribs.

"Will you be quiet? Of course he's going to be okay!"

"Well, doctor?" Stanley prompted. The doctor sighed; clearly he was too used to this when it came to detectives and policemen.

"Why don't you all go home and get some rest?" he suggested. "We'll call you when there's a change in his condition." It didn't help soothe any of their nerves, but they knew it was the best he could offer right now, so they didn't argue.

"Let's go, gang," Henry said quietly. "We're all tired, it's late, and I'm sure everything will look brighter in the morning."

"Good idea." Lieutenant Morris put a hand on his shoulder. "Would you like me to come with you?"

"No thanks," Henry said. "If they'll let you, maybe you should stay here and keep an eye on our father. He might appreciate a familiar face if he wakes up."

"Okay." The lieutenant gave the children a worried, sympathetic glance. "But if you need me, call the hospital and I'll come right over."

"Thanks." Henry gathered his siblings, and they left the hospital. The drive home was just as silent as the drive over, and it took every ounce of strength Henry had to keep his eye only on the road.

-x-

They came home to a half-eaten dinner, but even Nancy and Stanley weren't hungry, so they tried to busy themselves with putting away the leftovers and cleaning the kitchen.

"I think we should clean the whole house," Alan said. "Pop will appreciate it when he gets home."

"But what if he doesn't come home?" Nancy asked, tears in her eyes. "The doctor, he said we should be ready for the worst! What if-"

"I highly doubt we should prepare for the worst," Tom said. "The doctor was only telling us what doctors are obligated to. That's how they avoid lawsuits."

"Right," Anne said. "He even said this kind of thing isn't fatal most of the time."

"And that at most he'll just need blood," Alan added. "Still, if the worst does happen-"

"It won't," Anne said firmly. "Pop is strong. He'll come out of it just fine."

"But what if he does?" Mimi asked. "Who's gonna take care of us? Henry can't do it by himself, he's just eighteen!"

"My guess is we'll either live with our Aunt Jade or our paternal grandparents," Tom said.

"But there's so many of us," Stanley pointed out. "You know what happens to orphans in the movies, social services always wants to split them up into foster homes."

"Will you all shut up?" Flip slammed his hand down on the counter. "He's not gonna die, he's gonna be just fine, so everyone just shut up about it!" he yelled, storming out of the kitchen and up to his and Scooter's bedroom.

"Chief!" Scooter shoved his hands in his pockets. "See what you all did?" he scolded his older siblings, and ran upstairs. Suzie put away the last of the dishes and sat down at the table.

"Maybe he's right. All we're really doing is scaring ourselves," she said. "Let's go to bed, it's almost ten and we could all use the rest."

"And let's try to think positive," Alan said. "Worrying about what happens if Pop doesn't make it isn't going to help any of us, and it sure won't help him get better. If we think positive, maybe the good vibes will reach Pop."

Everyone smiled a little. Alan always seemed to have a way of putting everything in perspective, a way of keeping everyone calm with his unflappable zen.

"Alan's right," Mimi said, slipping her little hand into her brother's. "Let's stop being scared and pray for Pop to get better, guys."

"Good idea." Henry smiled. "I'll stay up in case the doctor calls, all of you go up and get ready for bed." Good-night hugs and encouraging words were exchanged all around before they all headed up the stairs, and Henry went into the den to sit by the phone.