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Author's Chapter Notes:
It took me a little longer then I had anticipated to finish chapter 5, but I think that's because our friends came to visit us from Illinois. But I finally got it done. Just to keep myself from appearing completely stupid because of any information in this chap and possibly future chaps that is incorrect or out of context, I am disclaiming myself to be medically smart in any way. I just dug around in my imaginative mind for what I thought may be correct and was dramatically workable for the chapter. I didn't have much of a chance to research it until tonight when I posted the chap. So excuse me if any of the information is incorrect. Just use your imagination. I just got off work and am extremely tired...so don't yell at me! LoL...I'm not a genius...
Chapter 5:

Baylee clung tightly to his grandmother as Harold led the three of them down the ICU hall towards his father's hospital room. "Daddy still taking a nap?" he asked innocently as he craned his neck to look into his grandmother's eyes. The soft blonde curls bounced on his head with every step she took. He had awoken from his nap crying out desperately for his father with a sense of urgency and not a single thing or anyone could calm the distraught child. At least not anyone who had been present in the waiting room. He had thrown a fit in all sense of the word, refusing any and all comfort his grandparents had to offer until finally both agreed it was unjust to keep the child from his father any longer.

"I'm not sure, sweetheart," Jackie answered quietly, purposely avoiding her grandson's stare. She hoped to God, if not just for Baylee's sake, but for the rest of them that her son would be awake.

"He probably will be awake and waiting because he knows that you are coming to see him," Harold suggested, reaching out to ruffle the child's hair. Baylee swatted his hand away with a small giggle. "Nana said your daddy was asking about you earlier."

Baylee's eyes immediately lit up. "What'd he say? Huh Nana?"

"He misses you and wanted to make sure that you were ok," Jackie answered.

"I's ok 'cause I's a big boy!"

"That's funny that you say that, because your daddy said the same thing about himself," Jackie whispered with a smile and hugged her grandson tighter, unable to keep from noting all of the similarities both Baylee and Brian shared. Their looks, their personalities, their smiles...it tugged a painful chord in her heart that she tried hard to push away.

"Nana sad?" Baylee questioned softly as he reached up to place both hands against his grandmother's cheeks.

Jackie forced a smile for the child's sake. "Don't you worry about a thing sweetheart," she whispered.

They continued to walk in silence through the deserted hallway. Harold had always hated the way the halls of a hospital were drearily plain, but he especially hated the way this particular hall made him feel as if he were walking to his own death sentence. He hadn't seen his youngest son yet and his wife had been so upset upon returning from her visit, that it made his mind run wild with thoughts unimaginable. He didn't know what he was to expect when he entered that room, and he was afraid for once in his life that he wouldn't know how to react. The walk felt like it was taking forever and the floor only seemed to keep getting longer and longer.

"Down, Nana!" Baylee suddenly ordered and Harold realized they had stopped several paces behind him. He turned back around to watch as Baylee slid from Jackie's arms and eargerly reached for the door handle, only to be quickly instructed to mind his manners and be very quiet when he went inside. The child nodded and gently pushed the door open.

"Harold?" Jackie spoke to grasp his attention. Harold nodded at his wife and they entered the room together.

Baylee was already half towards the bed, tentatively approaching his father's unmoving form. He once again began to tug at the hem of his t-shirt as he took small steps, his bottom lip curling downward. "D-Daddy?" he called out, stopping at the bedside, but his only answer was silence. He pouted and eyed the machines wearily that were surrounding his father's bed. He didn't like the noises they produced and he was slightly terrified of the two prongs sticking into his father's nose, and the long thin tube that ran from it. Baylee climbed onto the chair that Jackie noticed hadn't moved since her visit and gently nudged his father's arm. "Daddy...you wake up now?"

"Bubba, be careful," Harold reprimanded quietly, but found himself shrinking back in shock from his son's ghastly appearance. If there was ever a time he found his stomach twisting into tight knots, this was certainly one of them. He moved forward with his wife at his side until they stood directly behind Baylee, watching and hoping for some sort of response from Brian, no matter how small or insignificant.

"But you said Daddy would be awake..." Baylee pouted, turning half way around to stare at his grandparents with tear filled eyes. He didn't understand why his father hadn't woken immediately when he called out to him, because he always woke up no matter what. "An' he not wake up now-" However, before Baylee could speak another word, a slight stirring caught his attention and he whipped back around just in time to catch his father's eyelids fluttering until they finally opened to reveal an expression of sleepy haze. Baylee grinned wide, "Daddy!"

Brian blinked for a moment before he slowly offered a crooked smile, instantly recognizing his son's face. "Hey..." he whispered and reached for his son's small hand, giving it a light squeeze. He watched his son's grin grow wider and he looked behind him to where his parents both stood, watching him expectantly in concern. "Mom...Dad..."

Harold stepped to his grandson's side, his eyes shadowed in an emotional darkness that Brian was unable to read. "How are you feeling, son?" he asked, his tone caked in all seriousness.

"Tired and sore..." Brian answered quietly. "This flu is really knocking me down."

Harold had to fight to keep from frowning further. Jackie had said that the doctor had told her Brian was unaware of what was happening to him, but to hear his son say with such conviction that he believed it was something other then what was really going on tugged at his heart. Brian appeared so deteriorated it was unbelievable and Harold found himself beyond speechless.

"'Cause you gots sickies?" Baylee asked knowingly.

"Yeah," Brian nodded at his son lightly. "Lots of sickies buddy."

"You get sickies from me?"

"Well, maybe from you, but ten times worse. It's not your fault though. I just didn't take care of myself."


"Because I was trying to take care of you and scare your sickies away."

"Bad Daddy," Baylee scolded innocently. "Doctor make you feel better?"

"I think so," Brian lied and immediately glanced upwards towards his parents. In all honesty, he was feeling worse in that moment then he ever had before in his entire life. He didn't understand it. Then there was something completely out of character in his parents' demeanors. They were acting too uncomfortably quiet for his liking. His father had hardly spoken a word and his mother had appeared jittery, as if she were unwilling to speak of something when she had visited earlier. "What's going on with you guys? You both are being really quiet."

"We're just really worried about you, son," Harold answered in a scratchy tone. "You gave us quite a scare."

Brian opened his mouth to respond, ready to contradict his father's statement, but a sharp knock on the door interrupted him before he could even get a word out. A short moment later, the door creaked open and a tall grey haired man stepped through the doorway, a manila folder tucked securely under his arm, followed by a young brunette nurse that hesitantly walked in after him.

"Ah, Mr. Littrell... I see that I have finally caught you awake," the man greeted with a friendly smile as he moved further into the room. He turned to Brian's parents and offered them both his hand before returning his attention back to his patient. "My name is Dr. Henrich and I have to say that you've been quite the difficult patient to catch awake, but that is very understandable considering the recent trauma your body has suffered and the effects of the anesthesia still wearing off."

"Anesthesia?" Brian tried to clarify.

But Dr. Henrich ignored his question and turned to the small child, reaching his hand out for a low five slap, which to Brian's surprise, Baylee almost immediately obliged. "I see you finally found your daddy," Dr. Henrich smiled and shook the boy's hand.

"Yeah! Nana and Papa help me find him!" Baylee answered with a proud nod.

"That's good, very good indeed," Dr. Henrich replied with a smile and lowered himself to Baylee's level. "I know you just found your daddy and I'm sure you really want to stay with him, but I was wondering if just for a few minutes, I could speak with your daddy by himself? It'll just be for a few minutes."

"No...wanna stay with Daddy," Baylee answered with a tight shake of his head.

"I promise it will only be for a few minutes then you can come right back in to see him."

"But I wanna stay with Daddy," Baylee whimpered.

"I tell you what," Dr. Henrich tried, lowering his voice as he looked back towards the nurse who stood closer to the doorway. "My friend over there knows where you can find the most delicious candies and it's actually not far from your daddy's room. How would you like to go with her to get some?"

"Mommy doesn't let me eats candy...but Uncle Nick let me eat McDonald's last night," Baylee replied slowly, his bright eyes considering the idea.

"Well, if you don't tell your mommy about the candy then I won't tell your mommy. How's that?"

Baylee looked back at his father. "Daddy?"

Brian's brows furled in confusion as an aching sensation took over his entire body. He ignored it and pushed the feeling aside. He wasn't comfortable with the fact that this man who had introduced himself as his doctor was now trying to usher his son from the room without so much as an explanation, but his parents had already given their nod of approval and somehow he wasn't so sure his son really needed to be hearing what the doctor had to say. As it was, Baylee was already full of questions and he was bound to release a storm of them given he was allowed to remain in the room. "Go ahead, buddy," he finally answered and gave his son's hair a weak ruffle, then watched as Baylee scooted off the chair and scrambled over to the awaiting nurse. He grabbed her hand and the two of them were out the door.

"I should apologize for shooing your son out of the room so quickly, Mr. Littrell, but I feel it would be more appropriate to speak with you and your parents in private," Dr. Henrich started, pulling up an extra chair to the side of the bed and motioning for Harold and Jackie to take a seat. Brian continued to stare in confusion as his parents sat and Dr. Henrich remained standing.

"I don't understand..." Brian trailed.

"Mr. Littrell, it's important that we speak about why you are in the hospital," Dr. Henrich answered.

Brian glanced around shortly. "Why I'm in the hospital?" he repeated, cringing at each word. "I really don't understand-"

"What do you remember about yesterday?" Dr. Henrich interrupted seriously.

Brian's eyes narrowed in concentration as he focused on taking long deep breaths. The action sent waves of pain throughout his chest and seemed to cause his heart to pound harder. "Honestly...spending the morning with Baylee then going to the recording studio. I hadn't been feeling well all day...hadn't been feeling well all week. Then Howie and AJ were forcing me to go home and rest while they watched Baylee..."

"And after that?" Dr. Henrich proded.

"I was walking towards the front door and I think I remember seeing Kevin come in, but...what is this having to do with anything?"

"Mr. Littrell...you weren't brought to the hospital yesterday because of the flu," Dr. Henrich answered. "You suffered from a severe myocardial infarction yesterday."

Brian brinked in confusion. "In english?"

"A heart attack."

"My...my heart?"

"You collapsed yesterday. Your heart gave out two times en route to the hospital. The paramedics were working to restart it upon your arrival here," Dr. Henrich explained. "We have run several tests to determine the cause for your attack, however the answer is far from clear and there are still more tests I would like to perform. I do suspect that one of the underlying causes that intesified the damage and caused the occurence could possibly be viral, which would explain the flu-like symptoms you'd been experiencing-"

"What damage?" Brian interrupted.

"When we rushed you into surgery yesterday-"


"Your heart was barely beating when we got you out of the ambulance and stopped again when we were wheeling you in. We had to rush you into surgery and manually restart-"

Brian could feel the tremors pulse through his body, but he made no effort to stop them. All he could focus on was the excruciating pain intensifying in his chest and the stabbing reality of it all. Some how he knew what the doctor was going to say and it released a fear in him unline any other he had ever experienced. He never even noticed his mother rising from her chair and taking a seat beside him on the bed. "No..." Brian whispered, squeezing his eyes shut in disbelief.

"The holes in your heart you had repaired with surgery years ago have reopened and the damage is more extensive then we could have imagined. It appears the sack of fluid that had begun to accumulate around your heart, which could have very well caused your heart attack, was due to a viral infection, which again accounts for your flu like symptoms. But the bigger problem here is the new damage your heart has sustained due to the reopening of the holes. We were able to temporarily close the openings to keep your heart functioning, however, your heart has been weakened due to the new stress. Mr. Littrell, I'm not sure if you understand exactly what I am telling you, with the problem we are faced with here, but-"

"Another extensive surgery to correct the defect," Brian struggled to whisper, his breathing strained.

"I'm afraid it's more complicated then that. We can continue to perform surgeries to correct the openings because they will continue to reopen, but with each surgery, your heart will be weakened further and you will eventually be unable to withstand the strss being put on your heart. Continuous surgeries would be more detremental to your health and would only speed the process."

"I'm going to die?" Brian croaked.

Dr. Henrich paused, exhaling softly. "Unless we are able to find a viable solution..." he trailed, knowing full well that there was no need to finish the statement. There was no hidden meaning in his words.

"No...God no..." Brian wheezed.

"Your heart is failing, Mr. Littrell, but there a options and no need to give up just yet. We are going to do everything we can-"

"I don't want to hear it!"

"Oh Brian..." Jackie mustered, tears springing to her eyes.

"Just stop, please!" Brian begged, gasping for air, and he felt himself succomb to the shock of everything that had been revealed.


The day had already slipped deep into the late hours of the night and Jackie found herself unable to relax even the slightest. She had sat watching the clock as it slipped past midnight and had since lost all track of time. The dark was consuming, leaving Jackie in a lonely despair. Harold had ushered the boys to their respective homes hours before and had finally retired himself to take Baylee home and put the child to bed. She longed to be home with her family, yet refused to leave her youngest son's side. So she sat in the dark, staring at his moon cast body and watching every breath he took.

Jackie shivered even as she pulled a donated blanket tighter around her frame. The temperature in the room had been kept at a decent warmth, but she was still unable to get rid of the chill. The day's events continued to replay in her mind. There was no room for sleep, despite her exhaustion. Brian's desperate cries of helplessness echoed faintly in the nearly silent room and it made her sick to her stomach. She wanted to reach out, pull him into her arms and promise everything was going to be ok, but she couldn't. There was not a thing she could do. Dr. Henrich had said to remain strong, but that was easier said then done.

Sighing, she sunk further into the hospital's version of a recliner, something far less comfortable. Outside the weather had changed drastically and now large angry torrents of rain slammed at the window. Jackie stared in disgust, when the change seemed all too fitting for the mood. A clear beautiful night would have felt like mockery when her whole world seemed to be crumbling all around her, but the storm that was raging outside was tearing her soul to pieces.

And then the silence was abruptly disrupted with a stirring to her right. Jackie snapped her head in that direction and caught her son begin to move in his bed. The machines on both sides of his bed recorded the new fluctuations in his vitals. His eyelids fluttered wildly. A soft and nearly inaudible moan escaped his pursed lips as he gripped tightly at the blankets. Jackie sat up straight, eying her son carefully. He almost seemed to be struggling in his dream world and she wondered what type of demons he was trying to fight off.

"No..." Brian groaned, his head flopping almost lifelessly to one side. His eyelids fluttered harder and his brows creased. "No...please no!"

Jackie was out of her seat within a second and at her son's side. She sat on the edge of his bed carefully, keeping clear of the collection of wires and tubes. She reached out and lightly rested her hand against his cheek. "Brian..." she called out, pondering how possible it was to coax him out of the nightmare he was trapped in.

"Hurts..." Brian whimpered.

"Relax sweetheart," Jackie soothed as she caressed her son's cheek softly.


"Just relax...open your eyes for Mama..."

Brian slowly began to lean his head into his mother's hand, continuing to struggle. "Mama..." he moaned weakly, his lips parting to release a faltered breath. He struggled to force his eyes open a moment later and stared up at Jackie through hazy vision. "Mom..."

"There there...everything's alright," Jackie attempted to smile, but she found it rather difficult. She leaned forward and pressed a kiss against her son's forehead.

"You're still here," Brian whispered.

"I never planned on leaving your side," Jackie answered.

"The others?"

"Your father made them go home earlier this evening to rest. I stayed behind while your father took Baylee home for bed."

Brian nodded and shifted in the bed slowly. It was still painful to move, with each little movement sending shocking spasms throughout his chest and other parts of his body. He was terrified to move when at the same time lying still was driving him absolutely stir crazy. He had never been one to just sit immobile. His life was about activity and now he felt like he was stuck in some prison waiting for the executioner to come knocking. "It hurts so much," he sniffled suddenly and reached up to grasp his mother's hand.

"What does, sweetheart?"

"My chest," Brian winced.

"It's to be expected. You went through a lot yesterday."

"But it hurts so bad."

Jackie frowned at her son's repetitive complaints. She couldn't imagine the turmoil he must have been going through, both physically and mentally. it chilled her to see the way he kept looking up at her, begging silently for help she wasn't capable of giving. "I know, but it will feel better soon. I promise." She scooted closer to her son. He no longer appeared his age of thirty two, but instead resembled the frail sickly child in the hospital she remembered from so many years before.

"I'm scared, Mom."

"It's alright to be scared, but you have to try to remain strong and keep your faith in God."

"But I don't know what's going to happen-"

"Nobody ever knows what may happen in life and that's what makes the unknown so frightening, but having faith makes it easier to deal with."

"I don't want to die, Mom," Brian choked with a gasp for air.

"Oh sweetheart," Jackie whispered and carefully draped her arm across her son's chest for as much of an embrace as she could manage with out causing him further discomfort and pain. She felt him shaking beneath her and the tears sprang to her eyes, making her realize that much more that there was absolutely nothing she could do.