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Helplessly, Abby remained close to his bedside, unable to give her young husband any comfort than that of her presence.

When the tears finally stopped and the pain had settled down a little, Jake opened his eyes. His gaze traveled the room until he located his Abigail. As their eyes met, she smiled sadly.

Struggling to get enough breath into his lungs to form words, Jake moved his lips while his broken ribs did their best to make it as painful for him as possible. Seeing that he was trying to speak, Abby stood up and bent over his mouth to hear him better.

"You're going to be sorry I came back," he breathed softly.

"Don't say that," she scolded him, her blue eyes flashing indignantly at the injured young man. "One more word like that, and I'll go! I mean it, Jake Murphy! I'll walk right out that door!"

Jake knew she meant it and smiled faintly. Oh, how he loved her! He closed his eyes groggily, and just barely heard Abby's voice coaxing him back to consciousness.

"Can you hear me, Jake?" she asked. "I know they've got you on a lot of drugs right now, but I have something important to tell you."

Jake wet his lips and struggled to look at her with both eyes open.

"You don't know yet," he whispered.

Not knowing what on earth he was eluding to, Abby pressed on and told him the good news. To her utter amazement, Jake showed no signs of delight. "Don't you understand," she cried, "you're a free man!"

Jake shut his eyes as his face twisted in pain.

"Get the doctor," he requested.

Confused, Abby did as he asked. Thinking that he hadn't heard her through the medications he was on, Abby was about to try again when the doctor arrived.

"Tell her," Jake mumbled to the physician.

"Tell me what?" she asked, suddenly feeling uneasy.

"A short while ago," explained the doctor, "we learned that the last inmate to have sexual contact with your husband, has previously tested positive for HIV."

In a split second, Abby felt the room spin about her. Sinking helplessly into her chair, she looked at Jake's quiet face and then back to the doctor.

"Do you mean AIDS?" she asked.

"HIV is the virus that causes AIDS," he explained. "I'm going to put Jake on some antiviral drugs to slow down the progression of the virus, just in case he is infected."

"Then," whimpered Abby, "Jake might not have the virus?"

"From the extent of his injuries," sighed the doctor, trying to offer hope but remain realistic at the same time, "it's difficult to say. Jake was assaulted several times, and it's hard to determine which injuries came from which inmate. Even before Jake had been placed into the same cell as Alex Walters, your husband had suffered enough sexual related lacerations, that it's entirely possible for him to have been infected by the last inmate that he came into contact with."
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