Chapter 7

Ford leaned his head against the glass separating him from the operating room. He couldn't see much around the members of the surgical team, a fact he was very grateful for as he listened to the crosstalk between doctors and nurses.

"Suction," Neil ordered the surgical nurse. "Vitals?" he requested as he waited for the blood to be suctioned away, clearing his view of the abdominal cavity.

"Blood pressure is steady at 100/60," the Anesthesiologist called back. "Pulse is...pressure is dropping..."

"Damn," Neil cursed as he searched for bleeders, the likely cause of the suddenly dropping pressure. "Sutures," he called. Working at a rapid pace the team he'd put together struggled to repair the damage done by the bullet.

"Pressure is rising."

Neil nodded, keeping his attention focused on his patient. He was well aware of his colleague watching through the glass, bringing an added level of pressure to an already intense operation. Ignoring the pressure he worked steadily.

"Damn it," he cursed loudly, "his bowel's been perforated."

"No," Ford whispered. With his bowel perforated Crane could easily die even if he survived the operation itself. At that moment Neil looked up, his eyes locking with Ford's.

"Don't give up yet son," Neil said, speaking to both McFaddens. Skilled hands worked steadily, synchronizing movements with the rest of his team. Finally Neil stepped away from the table, letting his assistant close the incision. Pushing through the doors he discarded gown and gloves in a hazardous waste receptacle and stepped into the outer hall where he met up with Ford.

"How bad was the perforation?" Ford asked without preamble.

"Not as bad as it could have been. Fortunately the bullet only knicked the edge of the bowel but..."

"That's enough," Ford finished. He knew any damage to the bowel could set his brother up for a nasty case of peritonitis. "You'll be starting him on antibiotics and i.v. fluids?"

Neil smiled grimly, "Of course. I'm reasonably certain we were able to repair all of the damage, cleaning away any contaminants but a course of preventive antibiotics is still required."

"Do you think it'll be enough?"

"It should be but a close eye will be kept on Crane's condition which is why he'll be moved to the I.C.U. after he leaves recovery."

Ford nodded, understanding the precaution. It was what he would have done for anybody else, but this was his brother and the thought of him in I.C.U. was terrifying. "Are you on your way to the waiting room now?"

"Unless you have more questions?"

Ford only shook his head.

"We'll get him through this son," Neil reassured the younger man, patting him on the back by way of gently moving him towards the waiting room. The two of them were barely through the doors when the rest of the family stood in front of them. In concise term Neil explained the results of the surgery and Crane's prognosis to the others. He was careful to avoid medical terminology as much as possible knowing it would only serve to confuse and frighten the family.

"What are his chances Doc?" Brian asked.

"At this point I would say his chances of survival are about 70/30 in his favour," Neil answered after a moment's thought.

"That's pretty good isn't it?"

"All things considered it's very good."

"When can we see him?" Becky asked with a sidelong glance at Daniel. The younger man stood with his eyes closed, lips moving in silent prayer; she wasn't sure he was fully aware of his surroundings. He, more than any of them, needed to see Crane, needed the reassurance that would come with seeing him cleaned up, no longer covered in his own blood.

Neil noticed where Becky was looking and realized what she was really asking. "He'll be in recovery for at least an hour and then he'll need to be settled in the unit...say another half hour. You'll be able to go in two at a time immediately after he is situated but then after that I'll only allow two visitors every two hours for ten minutes."

"That's not much time Doc," Adam immediately protested.

"It's for Crane's own good Adam," Ford interjected. "He needs to rest as much as possible and the nurses need to monitor him closely. Both things can be accomplished more easily without a crowd of people in the room." He knew Adam still wouldn't like it, he didn't like it either, but knowing it was best for Crane would block any complaints.

Adam nodded, accepting the restrictions as necessary. He was barely aware of Neil Atherton excusing himself. "Do you have to get back to work right away Ford?"

"I'm off for the rest of the night."

"But I thought..." Guthrie began only to be interrupted.

"I wouldn't be any good to anybody tonight Guthrie, too distracted," Ford explained.

Adam looked around at the others. "Why don't you all go get something to eat," he suggested.

Ford watched his family leave the room until only he and Adam were left. "What's going on Adam?" He listened incredulously as his oldest brother gave him the news about the shooter. "No, that can't be right, Crane would have told us."

"That was pretty much my reaction but then it was pointed out that Crane might not have known either."

Ford collapsed heavily into a nearby chair. "I can't believe this."

"Well we don't know anything for sure yet," Adam pointed out, taking a seat next to his brother.

"But if it's true? How do we handle this Adam? Our brother shot and it may have been his son, our nephew that did it?" Ford choked on a laugh, "When the hell did we start living in a soap opera?"

Adam shook his head, smiling ruefully at his younger brother. "Hell if I know."

Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the sheriff. Ed looked around the room; surprised to find it nearly empty. "Adam, Ford," he greeted the two men, "any news?"

"He's out of surgery and they think he's going to be okay," Adam replied.

"But he's not out of the woods yet," Ford added.

"Have you caught the kid?" Adam asked.

"Not yet but he won't get far," Ed promised. "Several people saw him run off towards the woods. Jerry down at the bus station said he got off the bus from Washington not long before the shooting so he doesn't know his way around here."

"And you're here because?"

"I've got people looking for him," Ed gruffly replied. "I thought you'd want to know what we've found out."

"Well don't keep us in suspense Ed," Adam huffed.

"The gun is registered to a Carrie Lawrence out of Washington state. Her son Michael was reported as a runaway two days ago. The mother didn't know the gun was missing until the local police chief contacted her about it." Ed hesitated, he wasn't sure how to tell them the next part but it had to be done.

Adam sighed, he recognized that look. "What else?"

"When she was asked if she knew why her son would have shot Crane she..."

"Told you that Crane is the kid's father."

Ed's jaw dropped. "What are you talking about Adam?"

"He told Becky that he shot his ddad," Adam nearly choked on the last word. He didn't have a problem with Crane having a son, hell he would be happy for his brother but to find out this way... Giving himself a mental shake he refocused on the conversation. "Did she say anything else?"

Ed shook his head, still shocked by what Adam had told him. "Only that she would get here as quickly as possible and asked me to tell Crane or his family that she would explain everything when she arrives. I'm sorry I can't tell you more Adam."

"Just find the kid Ed," Adam sighed. "Make sure he doesn't hurt himself or anybody else."

TBC...

Please feed the muse with reviews.