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Author's Chapter Notes:

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A week after her conversation with Jem, Jo was taken for pneumothorax. When she returned she was tired and breathless but, Stephen was demanding her attention and she had to deal with him as soon as she’d been made comfortable. She was left alone with him and when he was satisfied, she realised that she would have to keep hold of him until Jack arrived. As hard as she tried, she was struggling to stay awake and she was relieved when her husband finally walked through the door. Jack came across to kiss her and immediately noted that she was breathless.

“Jo? Is something wrong?”

“Take Stephen.” The shortness of her reply gave him his answer. He immediately lifted the baby from her arms.

“Have you been for pneumothorax this morning?” Jo nodded as her eyes closed. “Are you tired?” Another nod. “Get some sleep, darling. I’ll look after Stephen for you. Does it hurt at all?” He got no answer and he saw that Jo was already asleep.

Jack settled himself in the comfortable chair near the cot and rocked the baby in his arms. He loved the moments he had alone with Stephen. He was talking quietly to the baby when the door opened to admit Jem. Seeing Jack at the opposite side of the room, he glanced over at Jo’s sleeping form, before going over to his friend.

“How is she?”

“Breathless. She fell asleep as soon as I arrived and took Stephen from her.”

“Did she say much?”

“No. She just told me to take Stephen, so I guessed she’d been down for pneumothorax this morning.”

“Did she complain of any pain?”

“She fell asleep before I could get an answer out of her. I don’t know how long she’d been holding Stephen but, she was struggling to stay awake. I think she was relieved when I walked in and she could hand him over.”

“I’ll not wake her, in that case. I can’t stay as I’m on duty, but I just wanted to check how she was. Tell Jo I’ll call in tomorrow.”

“I will do.” Jack watched Jem disappear and went back to his one-sided conversation with Stephen. The small baby just wriggled and then closed his eyes to sleep as well.

“Well, you are a pair! I come to see you both and you both go to sleep instead. I can see how much I’m wanted here.” He gently laid Stephen in the cot and made himself comfortable in the chair by Jo’s bed. He was quite content to enjoy the silence in the room and doze himself.

An hour or so later, he was rudely awakened from a rather thrilling dream by someone trying to shake him and a lot of noise.

“Jack! Jack!” He opened his eyes and looked around to see Jo struggling for breath and trying to reach far enough to shake him again.

“What? Jo! Stop it, before you make yourself worse!” He stood up and came over to the bed to make her comfortable again.

“Get Stephen.”

“I know. I’ll fetch him in a minute. You need to be comfortable first and I can’t help you if I’m holding him.” Jo subsided, allowing Jack to adjust her pillows and help her lay back comfortably again. He then crossed the room to pick his son out of the cot. Stephen was screaming lustily now and he cuddled the baby to him as he brought him over to Jo.

Once he’d handed Stephen over, Jack sat back down again and watched as Jo began to soothe him. She turned to Jack once she was satisfied that Stephen was feeding quietly.

“Jack?”

“Don’t talk for the sake of it, Jo. Save your breath. Do you want me to get something?”

“Drink of water.”

“Of course. I won’t be a minute.” He rose and filled a glass from the jug on the bedside cabinet for her. Leaning carefully over, he held it to her lips as she had her hands full with Stephen. She drank thirstily and Jack had to remove it when he saw she needed to stop and breathe.

“Slow down, Jo, there’s plenty more water. You don’t have to down it all at once.”

“Thirsty.”

“How often are you drinking?” Jo just shrugged her shoulders. “You need to make sure you drink plenty while you’re nursing Stephen, Jo.”

“Can’t reach.” Jack looked at where the water jug was and realised that Jo was correct. There was no way she could stretch far enough to refill her glass without getting out of bed.

“I’ll rearrange everything so you can reach the jug.” He stood up and began to remove things onto the chair. “How on earth have you managed to accumulate so much junk? You’ve only been in here for just over a month and you haven’t been allowed to read or write.” He arranged the jug so it was within easy reach and placed the cards she’d received to the back of the cabinet. The book was put underneath them and the teddy they’d been given next to them. When he turned back to Jo, she was attempting to wind Stephen. He noted that her eyes were still heavy and the exertion wasn’t helping her recover from the pneumothorax she’d had earlier.

“Let me, Jo. You rest some more.” He gently took the baby from her and sat rubbing Stephen’s back. Jo closed her eyes again. She hated having to be so dependent on everyone when she’d had pneumothorax, even though she knew it was only for one day. She dragged her eyes open to watch Jack and Stephen. She wished they could all be at home together, instead of her being stuck in the Sanatorium on indefinite bedrest. As she felt a tear roll down her cheek, she turned her head to face towards the wall, hoping that Jack hadn’t noticed. She knew he’d worry if he saw her crying.

Jack looked up as the slight movement from the bed caught his eye. He saw that Jo had turned her head away from him and he guessed that she was upset about something. He also realised that she didn’t want him to see, which just made him worry. He glanced down at Stephen and saw that he was asleep. Crossing the room, he managed to lay his son in the cot without waking him. When he returned to the bed, he pulled the chair closer and gently turned her head to face him. He wiped her tears away and spoke softly.

“What is it, Jo? What’s upset you?”

“Want to… go home. Be a family.”

“I know you do. I want it, too but, you aren’t well enough to come home, yet. You need to be back on your feet again before Jem will allow it. It’s only two and a half weeks since Stephen was born, and you have at least another two weeks of bedrest ahead of you.”

“I know.”

“You’re tired, Jo. Today has been stressful for you. Go to sleep if you want. I’m happy to just sit quietly with you.” Jo’s eyelids drooped as Jack gently smoothed her hair from her face. Jack watched her as she slept. When the bell rang for the end of visiting, he reluctantly stood up and kissed her gently on the cheek. Lifting Stephen from the cot, he went to find a nurse to hand his son over, before heading for his car and home.



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