Grahame cradled Joe in his arms as he laid him down in the back of the car, gently supporting his injured head. He saw the young man's fingers twitch, but he knew time was of the essence. He was alive – barely. He'd felt the pulse, faint and thready beneath his fingers, but Cain's punch had presented him with just the opportunity he'd needed. He had no intention of killing Joe, but neither would he see him suffer and die at the hands of another. He'd lied to Cain – told him Joe was dead. It was cruel and unforgivable, but a necessary evil to ensure the success of his plan, which was already beginning to take shape. He was going to get Joe out of the country – but first he was going to have to try and save his life. The young man was in a bad way. All Grahame could do was hope that he really was as strong as he liked people to believe he was, because he was going to have one hell of a fight on his hands.
He closed down the boot and drove. There was a private hospital in York he knew he could take Joe to, where they wouldn't ask too many questions. Before they'd even left the village however he heard a noise, as though something had been thrown with some force against the back passenger seat followed by a series of small knocks, and he knew immediately what was happening. He stopped the car and got out. When he opened the boot Joe was in the grip of a seizure. He'd evidently bitten his tongue and blood was dribbling from the corner of his mouth – it painted his lips crimson.
Grahame's heart was in his mouth, but he knew what to do. So long as there was nothing in the boot of the car for Joe to injure himself on he was just going to have to ride it out.
"OK Joe, it's alright…" He did his best to reassure the young man, in the vane hope that he might be able to hear him. "Ok… ok… ok…" He soothed as he removed his suit jacket and placed it beneath his head, as he tried to limit the damage already done. He waited until the seizure finally abated, and then checked to make sure that Joe was still breathing before wiping the thin trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth.
He considered moving him to the backseat of the car now that they were safely outside of the village, but Joe was weak and to move him in his condition could end up doing more harm than good. He rechecked the head injury, noticing that the seizure had worsened the bleeding. There was quite a sizable crack to the back of his head, and Grahame knew that he'd probably sustained a fracture to the skull. There was a first aid in kit and he did what he could to dress the wound within the short time they had to spare, applying sterile dressings to try and stem the bleeding.
He then got back in the car and drove.
When they arrived at the hospital he bundled Joe up into his arms and hurried in with the unconscious man cradled protectively towards him. His heart sank as he realised he was barely breathing now. More blood was dripping from his nose and right ear. A flurry of doctors and nurses suddenly descended upon them, taking Joe from him and whisking him away.
He heard words like 'CT scan', 'MRI', 'X-ray' and 'theatre' and wanted to stay, but he knew that he could not. He checked Joe in using the name Thomas Foster, left his mobile number at reception – along with his personal bank details to cover the cost of any treatment Joe was going to need, and strict instructions to keep him informed as to the young man's condition – and left.
He didn't check his phone until he left the hospital, when he finally picked up the message left for him about what had happened to Kim.
On his way back to the village he stopped off at the viaduct to clean the blood from the boot of the car, and to dispose of the gun that Kim had given him. He knew that she could always get her hands on another one, but he wasn't going to make it easy for her to ruin anybody else's life in the way she had ruined Debbie and Joe's. He'd almost finished clearing up the evidence when he received a call from the hospital with an update on Joe.
X-rays had confirmed Graham's suspicions, that the man had indeed sustained a fractured skull, and there was significant swelling to his brain around the sight of the injury. He'd been taken down to surgery, but his condition was critical, and his chances of survival were slim. Joe was just about managing to cling onto life, but if he did make it through the surgery they had no way of knowing if he would ever regain consciousness.
Grahame held his emotions together for just long enough to complete the phone call and make his way back to the car before he allowed himself to give in to his anger and grief. Secure in the fact that there was nobody around to witness him break down he allowed the tears to finally flow, letting out a gut-wrenching sob. He suddenly felt the urge to hit something, so he punched the steering wheel. It was a momentary lapse in his normal composure, and once he'd lost control of himself it was hard to rein himself in again.
Joe needed him more than ever now, and for the first time Grahame knew he couldn't be there for him. He was needed at Kim's bedside, to establish the fiction that Joe was really gone – then to remove her from the equation and buy them more time. It broke his heart.
He would visit Joe as soon as he could without raising anyone's suspicions. He wiped the tear tracks from his face and took a deep breath to calm himself.
As far as anyone else was concerned it was businesses as usual at Home Farm. Inwardly Grahame was a broken man, and he didn't know how much more heartbreak he could take, but he couldn't allow himself to lose control again. Joe's life depended on it.