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"There's no use in looking at me like that," replied Abby, more adamant than before. "You know this must be done."

"I can do it myself," he mumbled, numbly reaching up to unbutton his shirt. After his fingers fumbled around for the first button, Abby knelt down and took over. She could feel Jake's eyes glaring down at her at this invasion into his physical privacy. Abby, however, was not to be deterred. She was determined to get him into the nightshirt before the powerful sedative from the hospital completely wore off; the young woman knew he was unable to to do it on his own, and guessed that it would be much harder for anyone to get this close to him if he were fully awake. When the last button was undone, Abby took off Jake's shirt, and tossed it aside.

It was the first time she had seen the scar on his chest where the doctors had operated, but she wisely pretended not to notice it. Jake was feeling self conscious enough, as it was.

Not losing a moment more, Abby slipped his head through the opening of the oversized nightshirt and carefully guided his arms into the generous sleeves. Under the circumstances, Jake thought he was taking this fairly well. However, when Abby went to unfasten his pants, the poor man protested.

"I've seen you in your boxers, before," she said, sliding his pants down beneath the nightshirt to keep his privacy.

Jake weakly looked up at John and Terry, who were both quietly standing nearby. He winced with stiffness as she lifted first one foot and then the other from his pant legs. Jake closed his eyes wearily. If everyone would only leave him alone so he could get some sleep. He was so tired.

"There, all done," sighed Abby, gathering his shirt and jeans and hanging them in the closet. (This was more respect than she showed her own clothing.) "The next time you use the bathroom, just leave your boxers on the floor," she instructed him, in a voice of authority. "You don't need underwear while you're in bed."

"It's a good thing for you that I'm tired," Jake muttered under his breath. Even as he said these words, his eyes started to close. "I never would've let you get away with that. No one takes off my pants, but me."

"Stop talking and lay down," replied Abby, fluffing his pillow one last time.

Seeing no need to resist this piece of advice, Jake stretched out on the bed and let Abby cover him with the warm blankets. A few minutes on his back, however, soon revealed a new problem.

"I can't breathe," he gasped, struggling to sit up while suffering more agonizing pain in the attempt. Quickly coming to his rescue, John helped Jake to sit up straight in bed. There was no oxygen tube to help him breathe, as at the hospital, and Jake was beginning to panic through the fog of sedatives, pain, and fatigue. What would he do if he couldn't sleep?

"Maybe he can sleep sitting up," suggested John, as the young man wearily rested against him for support. "Stack the pillows behind his back, Abby." John cradled the ex-convict tenderly, and gave him a reassuring smile. "Take it easy, Son," comforted his father-in-law. "You're going to be all right. Just hold in there a little while longer."

Abby quickly gathered all the bed pillows she could find, and arranged them into a gentle incline behind Jake.

"Lean back," she coaxed her tired husband. "Is that better?"

When John lowered Jake onto the mountain of soft cushions, the young man cautiously took in a small breath of air.

"It's better," he whispered, very much relieved. Now that he could breathe, Jake wearily closed his eyes. It was still morning, and he had already had a long day.

Seeing that Jake was already falling asleep, Abby tucked him in once more and made sure that the baby monitor was on. Then, she and the other two men quietly left the bedroom so he could sleep in peace.

"Well," smiled Terry in a hushed voice as they regrouped in the kitchen, "he's home! Jake is actually home! If he were feeling a little better, we could throw a party!"

"What he needs now is rest and quiet," pointed out Abby, urging her uncle to speak in an even lower tone than he was. "I have to read the directions for the different medications that Jake's doctor prescribed," she continued, looking about for the white bag from the pharmacy. "Now, where did I put it?"
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