Disclaimer: I don't own McKenna, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
Warnings: Violence, Angst
Summary: One morning on her way to school Cassidy makes a horrifying discovery!
"Hey Leigh," Cassidy McKenna greeted her sister-in-law with a bright smile.
"Morning Cass," Leigh smiled, enjoying the young girl's exuberance. "Breakfast will be ready soon."
Cassidy glanced towards the stove with a look of regret. "I'll just grab an apple or something, got to get to school early today. "
"Hot date?" Leigh teased the girl.
"Funny," Cassidy smirked. "But no, just a project I have to work on. Have you seen Brick? He was supposed to give me a ride today."
Leigh shook her head. "His bed didn't look slept in. Maybe he's in the barn?" she suggested, knowing her brother-in-law sometimes slept there if he came in late.
"He better be," Cassidy declared. "If he stayed out all night I'm going to kill him," she threatened. She really needed to complete this project if she wanted to bring her History grade up. Turning on her heel, she hurried out the door to the barn. Spotting her brother's car she smiled, her relief clearly showing. Slowing a bit, she stepped into the barn, moving quietly. She had been trying to sneak up on Brick since she was a little girl, she hadn't managed it yet. By now Cassidy thought she would be disappointed if she succeeded for it would mean the game was at an end.
Cassidy stopped, listening intently for any sign of Brick's presence. Hearing nothing she decided he must be in the loft. Moving forward she headed for the ladder. A couple of feet from it she tripped. "So much for that," she whispered. Brick was sure to have heard her crying out as she fell. Picking herself up, she turned to see what had tripped her. She could feel the blood draining from her face. "Oh god! " On shaky legs she forced herself to move forward. It was only a few steps but it felt as if she would never reach her brother's side. Dropping to her knees, she reached out with a shaky hand. "Please don't be dead, please don't be dead, don't be—eeep!" Her hand had almost reached the side of Brick's neck when he moaned. For a moment she sagged with relief. Another small, pain filled moan, and she was on her feet running for the house, screaming for her father.
Jack swore his heart stopped. He heard the fear and anguish in Cassidy's voice and suddenly he was transported back to the day they had lost Guy. Shaking himself, he hurried outside, meeting up with his youngest as she was racing onto the porch. Grabbing her upper arms, he brought her to a halt.
"Jack! Help...Brick...too much blood...hurry," Cassidy gasped, her fear and anxiety making it difficult to talk.
Jack paled, his heart once more stuttering with fear. "Where?"
"Call an ambulance and send Leigh out with the first-aid kit," Jack ordered with a calmness he didn't feel. Moving Cassidy aside, he ran towards the barn. Bile rose at the sight which greeted him. Brick lay in a pool of his own blood, his face a mass of bruises. "My god," he gasped as he dropped to his knees. "Who did this to you son?" He received no answer, not that he had expected one. He looked up at the sound of running feet, relief flooding his face as Leigh appeared with the first-aid kit.
"Cassidy is calling an ambulance," Leigh said as she joined Jack on the ground. "Jesus," she whispered as her eyes roved over Brick's still form. With shaking hands she opened the case. Forcing herself to remain calm, she quickly went to work helping Jack as they did what they could for the young man they both loved.
"My God, Jack, how did he drive home in this condition?" Leigh asked, her voice trembling.
"I don't think he did," Jack said, his eyes on something behind Leigh.
Turning her head, Leigh took in the bloodied board lying on the ground. "How could we not have heard anything?" she wondered aloud as she worked on cleaning Brick up, applying butterfly bandages where needed. He would need stitches, of course, but the bandages should help until he reached the hospital. She tried not to think about what other injuries he might have.
"The ambulance is on the way, so is Dale," Cassidy announced from the door. "He's going to be okay, isn't he?" she fearfully asked. She didn't see how anybody could lose so much blood and still be alive.
"He'll be okay honey," Jack responded. He didn't usually opt for pretty lies but at the moment he couldn't afford to have Cassidy falling apart. He needed to focus on Brick.
"What can I do?" Cassidy asked. She needed to help her brother. When Guy had died there had been nothing she could do, nothing anybody could do. This time there was something she could do, there had to be something, she desperately thought.
"Could you take care of Rose and Harry?" Leigh asked.
"I know Cass," Leigh interrupted, "but they don't need to see Brick like this. Keeping them occupied and out of the way will help more than you realize."
Cassidy opened her mouth to protest, quickly closing it when she realized Leigh was right. The best way for her to help Brick was to take care of the kids so Leigh and Jack could focus on her brother. Turning on her heel, she hurried towards the house. As she stepped onto the porch, the door opened.
"Aunt Cassidy, where are Grandpa and Mom?" Rose asked.
"Oh, um, well they're in the barn..."
"Is one of the horses sick?" Harry asked. He hoped not, he really liked the horses.
Cassidy grabbed Harry before he could head to the barn. "No, but they're busy. Come on in the house and I'll make you some breakfast."
"Are Grandpa and Uncle Brick fighting again?" Rose asked.
"Rose," Cassidy exclaimed, "why would you think that?"
"Well, mom left breakfast on the stove and if none of the horses are sick and none of the adults are in the house, then mom probably had to stop another argument," Rose explained matter-of-factly.
Cassidy was impressed, her niece's logic was pretty good. She only wished an argument was the only problem today. Chewing on her lip, she glanced towards the barn, her mind going over everything as she wrestled with her decision.
Decision made, she herded the kids back into the house and into the kitchen. Sitting them down, she pulled another chair around so she could face them. "I'm not going to lie to you guys, but you have to promise me that you'll stay in the house, okay?"
Rose and Harry exchanged a look. Their aunt was never this serious, or afraid. Rose had only seen a look like once before, it had been her mother's eyes that time. "Aunt Cassidy...did," she swallowed past a sudden lump, "did, somebody die," the final word came out as a whisper.
"No!" Cassidy nearly yelled. "Oh honey, no, nobody is dead." Except for the person who hurt Brick like that if I ever find them. She didn't say that out loud, though.
"Then what's wrong?" Rose demanded, Harry nodding in agreement with his sister's demand.
Cassidy sighed, how was she supposed to explain this without scaring them to death. "Well you were right about it involving Brick," she began. "He's hurt, out in the barn and Jack and your mom are taking care of him."
"It's really bad isn't it?"
"I don't know, but he's unconscious. There's an ambulance on the way..."
"An ambulance!" Rose cried. Jumping up from her chair she ran towards the door. She would have made it too, except for Dale.
"Dale stop her," Cassidy called.
Dale didn't ask, he just grabbed the young girl around the waist, hoisting her into the air. He ignored her demands to be let go, looking to Cassidy for information. All he knew was that a called had come into the office asking for him to come out to McKenna's and that it was an emergency.
Joining Dale, Cassidy took Rose from his arms. "Rose listen to me, your mom and Jack don't need us out there right now. We'd just be in the way."
"But I want to help," Rose protested.
"I know honey, I do too," Cassidy admitted. "But we can help more by staying in here out of the way."
Rose didn't like it but she knew her aunt was probably right. "I hate being a kid," she pouted.
Cassidy chuckled, in spite of her worries. "Me too. Can I trust you to stay in the house with Harry?"
Cassidy put her niece down and stepped outside with Dale.
"What's going on Cass?" Dale asked as soon as the door closed.
Cassidy blew out a shaky breath. "Somebody hurt Brick, they hurt him bad."
"Hurt him? What do you mean?"
"I found him this morning, in the barn. He was unconscious and there was so much blood...too much blood."
"Did you see anybody else?" Dale asked. He ignored the urge to race to the barn, knowing he could help Brick more by finding whoever had done this.
Cassidy shook her head. "I didn't even see Brick, at first. He was supposed to give me a ride to school but Leigh said his bed wasn't slept in. I went to the barn, he sleeps there sometimes if he comes in late. You probably know that already."
Dale nodded, "Go on."
"I was trying to sneak up on him, but I tripped. I turned around to see what I had tripped over. It was Brick. He was so still Dale and the blood...I thought he was dead," Cassidy admitted in a horrified whisper.
"Do I need to call an ambulance?"
"No, I already did that. I was reaching for his pulse when he moaned. That was when I ran into the house to get Jack. He told me to call an ambulance. I thought I should call you too. I mean it's pretty obvious that somebody beat him up."
Just then the ambulance pulled into the yard. "You stay here with the kids. I'll show them where to find Brick." He gave her a quick hug. "Don't worry Cass, Brick's a fighter, he'll be okay. " Releasing her, he went to meet the ambulance.
Jack was coming out of the barn, having heard the siren of the ambulance. Seeing Dale leading the paramedics towards the barn, he returned to his son's side. "Ambulance is here," he told Leigh as he helped her to her feet. He knew they would need to move out of the way so the paramedics could work.
"Jack," Dale greeted him. He winced as he took in the state of his friend. He could easily understand why Cassidy seemed so scared. He knew head wounds could bleed a lot, of course, but Brick's continued unconsciousness didn't look good. "What can you tell me?"
"Some bastard worked my son over with a two by four," Jack growled, pointing to the board.
Dale's glance moved to where Jack indicated. "Did anybody touch it?"
"We were a little busy Dale," Jack snapped. Rubbing a hand over his face, he sighed. "Sorry, and no, nobody touched it."
Dale nodded. "It's okay. Hopefully we'll be able to get some good prints from it. I will find out who did this Jack," he promised.
"I know you'll do your best." As the paramedics began to load Brick onto a stretcher, Jack took a step away from Dale. He turned back. "Is there anything else you need to know?"
"No sir," Dale replied. "I'll gather whatever evidence I can here. I'll be at the hospital as soon as I can, hopefully Brick will be awake by then to tell us something."
Jack nodded. Turning away once more, he joined Leigh as she watched the paramedics readying Brick for transport. "I'll ask Cassidy to watch the kids," he told her, knowing she would want to be at the hospital too.
Leigh nodded. "What are we going to tell them Jack?"
"The truth, well maybe not all of it," he amended as he looked at his son.
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