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Author's Chapter Notes:

Many thanks for your lovely reviews as always.


Before Jo realised, her next appointment had arrived and she found herself back at the Sanatorium for X-rays and pneumothorax. Jem had driven her over and Jack would take her home. Jo made her way down to the X-ray department and operating theatre, being wheeled back to the reception area afterwards. She had to wait for Jack to finish before he could take her home so she closed her eyes and tried to blot out the dull aching in her chest as well as the general noise of her surroundings.

It was half an hour before Jack came to collect her. Sitting down beside her, he placed his hand on her arm as he spoke.

“Jo? Time to go home, now.” Jo jumped, causing her to gasp for breath. “Take your time. There’s no rush.” She nodded slightly to indicate she understood and Jack just waited with her until she finally opened her eyes and looked at him.

“Ready?” Jo nodded again. Jack helped her out to the car, before driving home quickly. He soon had Jo tucked up in bed. Once he was sure she was comfortable, he went down to speak to Robin, Daisy and the twins, asking if they would look after Stephen for the rest of the day while Jo recovered.

Jo was up and about again the next day, though she didn’t attempt to do very much. It was raining, so she found herself stuck indoors. The girls had all gone into Armiford to see a film and to buy a few items they were unable to obtain in the village. Jack was working until early afternoon, so she had the house to herself, though Anna was busy in the kitchen. The telephone rang in the hallway and Jo went to answer it, leaving Stephen on his rug. When she returned a few minutes later, she discovered he was now near the sofa.

“How did you get over there, young man? I left you on your rug.” Jo smiled and perched on the sofa to pick him up onto her knee. He gurgled at her and passed her the brick in his hand. Jo took it from him, but gave it quickly back when she discovered it had obviously been in his mouth.

“Ugh! Is there anything you haven’t tried to eat, yet?” He just ignored her and wriggled, almost falling off her knee in the process. She put him back down on the ground and he began wriggling away from her. Jo laughed at his antics. “I can see we’re going to have fun once you begin moving around properly.”

When Jack finally arrived home, he found Jo and Stephen were both fast asleep in the bedroom. He changed quietly and returned downstairs to request a sandwich from Anna before going into the lounge to listen to the radio. Jo found him there when she and Stephen came back down an hour later. Smiling, Jo kissed him as she deposited Stephen in his lap. Jack pulled her down beside him and wrapped an arm around her. Jo leaned in to him and he kissed her hair.

“What have you both been doing all day?”

“Not a lot, really. It’s been too wet to go outside.”

“It’s quiet. Where are the others?

“They went into Armiford. They’ll probably be back shortly since the matinee will have finished by now.”

“In that case, we should make the most of the peace.” Stephen wriggled at this point, nearly upsetting himself onto the floor. “What’s up, Stephen? Do you want to go down?” Jack obligingly let his son down and watched as he rolled off. “He’s beginning to move about, now. It won’t be long until he’s crawling properly.”

“I know. I found him a good distance from his rug when I’d left him for a few minutes this morning. He’s also chewing everything in sight, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s teething, too.”

“Let’s hope they come through without too much trouble.”

“I hope so. I don’t know how I’m going to manage if he’s awake all night, too.”

“We’ll find a way, Jo. Don’t go looking for trouble before you have to.” Jo nodded as the front door banged, followed shortly afterwards by Daisy erupting into the room. Jack looked up with a smile.

“Hello Daisy. Have you left the door in one piece?” he asked as Jo stood to retrieve Stephen from the corner of the room. He’d managed to get himself stuck and was voicing his woes for everyone to hear.

“Of course I have!” Daisy came across to take Stephen from Jo’s arms. “Hello Stephen. What have you been doing?” The others came into the room in a more orderly fashion, Flora closing the door behind her.

Once everyone had settled down, Jo suggested making some tea. Fiona bounced up from the hearth rug where she was sitting with her sister and ran off to request it from Anna. The chatter turned to the film the girls had just been to see and they eagerly recounted the scenes for Jo and Jack. The easy conversation continued through dinner until Jo reluctantly departed to bed with Stephen.

A whimpering noise woke Jo not long after one o’clock in the morning. She lay for a moment, listening before silently slipping out of bed and donning her dressing gown and slippers. Padding over to the cot, she picked Stephen out and took him across to the chairs by the empty grate. Jo cuddled the small boy to her, murmuring in his ear. The whimpering continued and Jo realised that it would take more than a cuddle to calm him down. She slid out of the bedroom, not wishing to disturb Jack who was gently snoring away. Negotiating her way carefully downstairs, she went into the lounge and settled down with him there. She gave him his bottle, before resorting to having to walk up and down the length of the room with him. Realising how hot he was, Jo carefully inserted her finger into his mouth and felt his gums. Feeling a definite bump, she realised that she would be in for a long night.

It was almost four o’clock when Stephen finally gave in and fell asleep in Jo’s arms. She made her way back upstairs to bed, hoping to be able to place him in his cot. She felt exhausted from the pacing. Just as she gently laid him in, she saw his eyes open and the whimpering started once more. Sighing to herself, she picked him out again and walked back through the door.

Jack woke with the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. He rolled over towards where he expected Jo to be sleeping and found an empty space. He frowned to himself before sitting up and looking around the room in the dim light of the dawn. She wasn’t in the room and neither was Stephen. He quickly found his dressing gown and slippers before going to see where she was. As he approached the lounge door, he could hear movement and Jo’s muffled voice. He slipped in to find her walking up and down with Stephen in her arms. Crossing the room, he stopped her mid-way through.

“What’s wrong, Jo?”

“Teething.” Jo’s answer was abrupt. He could see how tired she looked and that she was reaching the end of her tether with Stephen’s whimpering.

“Let me have a look.” He took the small boy from her and went to sit down on the sofa with him. Jo remained where she was. She knew that if she sat down, she would struggle to continue on. Jack quickly felt Stephen’s gums and agreed with Jo. He rose and handed him back to Jo.

“I’ll get him something to relieve the pain. I won’t be a moment.” Jo resumed her pacing and Jack disappeared into the study, before he returned with a small dose for Stephen. He administered it, and then took him back from Jo.

“Go back up to bed, Jo. I’ll look after him, now.” He kissed her and pushed her gently in the direction of the door. Jo obeyed. She dropped into the bed and was asleep almost before her head hit the pillow. Jack paced around with Stephen until the dose took effect and he finally slept, not even rousing when Jack gently placed him back in his cot. He crossed the bed to look at Jo as she slumbered on, never hearing her husband. Noting how pale she was and that she’d probably been awake most of the night, Jack resolved to make her stay in bed and rest for the day. He also hoped that Stephen would have produced the tooth when he next woke.

Jo was still slumbering when Jack woke a few hours later. He rose and dressed before checking on Stephen in the cot. He had just woken, so Jack picked him out and bore him downstairs for breakfast. Anna was busy in the kitchen when Jack entered and she smiled as she saw Stephen in his arms.

“Grüss Gott, Herr Doktor. Would you like Frühstück?”

“Grüss Gott, Anna. Yes, please.” Anna bustled round, producing a couple of bowls before spooning a big heap of porridge into one bowl and a small scoop into the other. Jack settled Stephen into the highchair and then established himself at the table as Anna placed the large bowl before him. Coffee was placed in the centre of the table.

“I will feed Stephen for you, Herr Doktor. There is plenty more porridge if you require any.”

“Thank you.” Jack tucked into his porridge and had almost finished when Fiona and Flora appeared in the kitchen. They greeted Jack and Anna, sitting down at the table to wait for breakfast. Anna gave Stephen his last mouthful and rose to see to their porridge, leaving Stephen’s milk on the table. He saw it and began to complain. Jack picked him out of his seat and onto his lap, picking up the bottle as well. He soon had the small boy happily drinking the milk.

When Robin and Daisy finally appeared in the kitchen, Stephen was being winded and the twins had just finished their porridge. They thanked Anna prettily before moving to allow the newcomers to sit down. Jack also rose, Stephen in his arms.

“Twins, would you mind getting Stephen dressed and looking after him for a short while?”

“We’d love to!” Fiona answered eagerly. She came to take him from Jack and moved to the door.

“Anna, could you make a tray up for Jo and I’ll take it up for her. Flora, come with me and we’ll get some clothes and the cream for Stephen.” Once Anna had made up the tray, Jack took it upstairs, Flora following to collect the necessary items. Jo was just beginning to rouse as they entered, so Jack set the tray on one side while he found out a few articles of clothing for his son. He handed them to Flora along with a tub of cream.

“Here you go, Flora. Make sure you cover all the marks with plenty of cream before you dress him.”

“I will. Thank you.” Flora skipped off back downstairs and Jack turned to the bed where Jo had finally woken and was listening. He picked the tray back up and waited for Jo to sit up before he placed it across her knee. Jo looked at the bowlful of porridge and sighed.

“I’m not that hungry, Jack.”

“You need to eat.” Jo sighed again and reluctantly picked up her spoon. She managed to eat roughly half before giving up. Jack just removed the tray and handed her some coffee.

“I think you should stay in bed and rest today.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“No, Jo. You were up half the night with Stephen and I can see you’re still tired. I’m sure the girls will happily look after him today.”

“But...” Jack leaned forward and kissed her.

“No, buts. You know what Jem said at your last appointment. If you want to keep the ten hours, you need to rest, especially while Stephen is teething. He’s going to take up all your energy.”

“I suppose so. How is he this morning?”

“He’s fine. He ate his porridge and drank all his milk and seemed happy enough when Fiona took him. Hopefully, he’ll not be so bad tonight, but if he is, wake me. There’s no need for you to try to cope alone. I’m used to sleeping odd hours.”

“May I see him?”

“I’ll bring him up later. Get some more sleep while you can, darling.” Jack removed the pillows from behind her, kissing her as she lay back down once more. “I have some work to do in the study this morning. Will you be all right on your own?”

“Yes. Are you working today?”

“No, I have today off and go back on nights tomorrow. I’ll come and keep you company this afternoon if you're awake.”

“Thank you. I’d like that.” Jo snuggled into a more comfortable position and closed her eyes. Jack smiled down at her and left her alone.



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