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As John showed the card to Terry, an orderly carried in another vase of flowers and set it beside the first bouquet. It was soon followed by another, and yet another. As AJ wondered over this, Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins appeared in the hospital doorway, with a bouquet of their own.

"Hello," greeted Mrs. Hopkins, as she came forward to hug Abby. "We thought we'd stop by and see how Jake was doing!"

The couple awkwardly smiled at the prostrate young man with the swollen face. The Hopkins were good friends of the Johannes family, so they knew Jake and the circumstances of his past. Since Jake always had the tendency to quietly stick to Abby, many people didn't know him as well as one might have expected, given the closeness of the two families, for Agatha (Mrs. Hopkins) was one of Izumi's closest and dearest friends in Three Mile Bay.

"Thank you for praying for me," breathed Jake.

"We know you're in a lot of pain right now," replied Mr. Hopkins, "so you don't need to talk. Just hurry up and get better."

As John explained to the Hopkins the extent of Jake's injuries, two familiar faces appeared in the doorway. Sheriff Peterson and his wife stepped inside and were warmly greeted by everyone. When the Sheriff saw Jake's bruised face for the first time, he momentarily lost his composure. When words failed him, his wife interceded.

"We're so sorry for what happened to you, Jake," she said, apologetically. "We've been praying for you, and hope you'll get well very soon."

Sheriff Peterson left his wife, and went to Jake's bedside.

"I'm sorry, Son," he said, in his gruff but compassionate voice. "The system failed you. But, as long as there are people in this country who are willing to do the right thing, because it IS the right thing, then, well, I think there's still room for hope." Just then, Dick and his wife showed up. Sheriff Peterson looked up at them and then back to Jake. "As I said, I'm really sorry."

Jake lifted his head and breathed,

"I'm not. I'm not sorry I testified. Like you said, it was the right thing to do." After he said these words, Jake collapsed back onto his pillow. As his face twisted in pain, Abby straightened his sheet and watched him helplessly.

"There's too many visitors in here," announced a nurse, coming into the hospital room to give Jake more medication, for it was beginning to wear off.

"We were just leaving," said Mrs. Hopkins, giving Abby one last hug before she and her husband left. "Stay strong," she whispered to the young woman.

"We've already said our hellos," Sheriff Peterson said to Dick, "so you go ahead and stay. I'll see you in church, AJ!" And with that, the Peterson's left as well.

"Jake, I think you're looking a little better today," Dick said rather hopefully.

"When do you think Jake can come home?" Abby asked the nurse.

"If there's no complications," said the woman with a smile, "then the doctor says your husband can go home on the first of next month. He'll have to stay in bed until he's healed enough to move around, of course," she quickly added.

Abby beamed at Jake and sighed happily. He was coming home on the first of November! Even though he had heard the good news, Jake was succumbing to the effects of the drug, and was slipping into unconsciousness. He only smiled faintly before falling asleep. Abby was the last image he saw before closing his eyes, and the memory of her face would remain in his heart until he awoke.
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