Dr. April Green sat down in front of her still sleeping brother-in-law. Even though Jake was her husband Eric's older brother, there was a vulnerability about the man before her that belied his senior status of the two Green siblings. The fact that he had done so much to help so many in his short time back in Jericho made the horrible events of the previous night seem that much worse in her eyes. It was a wonder that the three had survived the crash, let alone its dangerous aftermath.
She touched Jake's cheek and then his forehead to gauge his body temperature. She had all of her gear with her to perform an official exam, but though Dr. Green had been trained in the most modern of ways, her primary mentor had been quite old-fashioned. The tactile methods and sympathetic bedside manner had been drilled into her core long before she had ever achieved her medical degree.
He felt warm, neither too hot nor too cold to the touch. Normal. April closed her eyes and sighed with relief. They had done everything right last night, and Jake would be fine due to the extra efforts that everyone had put in during those tense, frightening hours.
Jake blinked his eyes open as April removed her hand.
"Good morning," she said with a smile for her awakening patient. "How do you feel?"
Jake stayed in place as he took a moment to figure out the answer to that question. He blinked some more and brought his hand up to rub his eyes. A groan stopped that action. He breathed in heavily to help ride out that pain, but that hurt, too, his face from all the nicks and scratches, and his chest from where he imagined a sizable bruise. He looked at April and saw her watching him with empathy and a slight frown. He knew he'd given away too much, and was in no position to lie about how he felt.
"Well, everything seems to hurt," he answered candidly.
"I'm not surprised."
"I guess I'm not, either." Jake tried to sit up but between the myriad aches and his weak state it was no wonder he was finding success in getting vertical elusive.
"Jake," April said with a note of impatience to her voice, "let me help." She stood and helped pull him into an upright position on the couch.
"You sure you should be doing that?"
"I'm not made of glass," she answered.
"Green women are pretty tough, Jake," Johnston Green said as he entered the room. "He's not giving you any trouble, is he?"
"We're fine," April answered warmly. She really did love this family. How could things have gone so wrong for her and Eric?
"How're you feeling, son?" Johnston asked as he drank his coffee. It was instant coffee, but it was much like ambrosia in these tough times.
"Tired. Sore. Maybe a little hungry. That coffee smells good." Johnston and Jake both looked to April, their body language seeking silent permission. April wondered how Gail had managed to stay sane dealing with the three Green men, alone, for so long.
"One or two sips. Then I'm going to check you over. Your mom is making you something to eat." Jake Green took the mug offered to him by his father. He closed his eyes and took in the aroma, such that it was, and then quickly took a large 'sip'. He lowered the mug from his mouth and held it with both hands, clearly appreciating its warmth, though his fingertips felt kind of funny. He'd have to ask April about that later. He took another sip and handed the rest back to Johnston.
His father looked into the cup and then eyed Jake suspiciously. "I guess a sip is a measurement with which you have limited familiarity," he said wryly as he squinted into the near empty vessel.
"Jake!" April admonished. The injured man slunk down in his seat in mock shame. She laughed and then said, "Okay. I'm going to check your heart, blood pressure and temperature. Then you can eat. And then we're going to check for bruising."
"I'm okay, April. I'm just achy. And tired."
"You'll be tired for a couple of days at least. You don't recover from hypothermia in fifteen hours, no matter how much of that time you spent sleeping."
"Um, how much time did I sleep?" Jake asked through a yawn. "Sorry."
Johnston answered. "You were finally exhausted enough and settled down enough," he said, choosing his words carefully for his son's sake, "at about midnight. It's ten thirty in the morning," he added.
"Huh. I still feel so tired."
"It's okay, Jake. You went through a lot yesterday. Your body is just telling you that it still hasn't recovered. You should listen to it," April noted in warning.
"Yeah, well, there's stuff to do. You may remember that we were pretty unsuccessful during our excursion yesterday. Dad, we need to make sure everyone is on alert. More than ever. We need to…" Johnston Green cut his son off.
"Take it easy. I've had a talk with Gray and he's handling it. You need to rest. Listen to April."
"We'll save your blood pressure check for last," April said, her eyebrows raised, as she put the thermometer in Jake's mouth and took her stethoscope out to check his heart. One possible side effect from hypothermia was irregular heart rates. They had been very careful with Jake's recovery since finding him and had gotten him warmed up fairly quickly. She didn't expect any complications – currently the minor frostbite that he'd suffered was the major concern - but she had a soft spot in her heart for her husband's brother, and she doubted anyone in the house would be averse to her doting on the prodigal son.
"I'm going to get more coffee, for me, and tell your mother that you're ready for some breakfast." Jake nodded his head in acknowledgement, a small smile shone through as his mouth remained occupied by the temperature gauge.
April removed the thermometer. "Good," she said. She looked at Jake. "Are you calmed down now?"
"Don't 'look April' me, Jake Green. You could have died last night. Do you understand how tragic that would have been for this family? I know that your dad hasn't welcomed you back with open arms, but we have all missed you and worried about you. We love you. And whether you like it or not, we will always worry about you."
"I'm not finished." It was impressive how April could ream him up one side and down the other while she carefully prepared to check his blood pressure. "I suspect that you are aware of the potential trouble you could have had with hypothermia. And the head wound. And getting thrown about and out of Stanley's truck. You are going to spend today resting and if I say you're well enough, you can get out of bed tomorrow."
"April!" Jake objected loudly. He hissed lightly when his own yelling hurt his head, his whole body for that matter.
"Don't 'April' her, honey," Gail Green advised affectionately. "She's in charge right now. What April says, goes. Got that?" she asked as she set the tray down beside April on the oversized ottoman.
"Yes, ma'am," Jake said, a crooked grin on his face. April grinned back at him, pleased to see Jake admit that she had won that argument.
"Well look-y here, Jake Green being coddled by the two Green women," Johnston said as he walked in with his refilled coffee cup. "How sweet," he added mockingly.
"Dad," Jake replied uncomfortably.
"Johnston, stop teasing him. You were as worried as I was last night. Stop pretending." Johnston Green rubbed his wife's back as he scooted by her and sat next to his son on the couch.
"So, what have we got for breakfast?" he asked. Gail slapped his hand as he took a triangle of toast.
"You ate already. That butter isn't going to help your cholesterol." Jake watched with amusement as his parents sparred playfully. There was so little to laugh about, even just smile about these days, yet being home felt so much different than he had expected. So much better, even with the cloud of the bombings of their country hanging over them.
"How come he gets real butter?" Johnston whined, pathetically, considering his age and his recent stature as mayor. He finished the one bit of food from the tray that he was likely to get.
"Because he's skin and bone and you're old," his wife answered quickly. "April, you have my permission to slap Johnston's hand if he steals more of Jake's breakfast."
"Gail…" April started warily.
"Mom, I can't eat all of this," Jake said as he winked at his dad.
"Eat what you can," Gail said in typical mom fashion.
"We won't let it go to waste, right Jake?"
"Uh, right, Dad."
April covered her mouth to hide her laugh. Gail walked over and kissed her son on the top of his head and then leaned over the back of the couch and hugged her husband, wrapping her arms around him from behind and leaning her cheek against Johnston's. She had cleverly trapped his arms, not allowing him access to the food. Jake and April both laughed at the senior Green's current plight.
"You will not eat this food," Gail warned. "I'm sure Jake is hungrier than he realizes. Right, Jake?"
"Uh, right, Mom."
"Good. Go ahead and eat, honey," she ordered.
"Are you staying there while the boy eats, dear?" Johnston asked.
"So you don't trust me?"
"Mm," Gail said as she cocked her head a little for a sideways look at her husband and then brought her lips up to his forehead and gave him a little peck. "Can I?" she asked. "You don't want to force your son to lie to his mother when I ask who ate all the food, do you?"
"That's low," Johnston noted.
"Yes, I'm mean that way," Gail replied. "I'm sure that's not news to anyone in the room." Indeed, everyone in the room, everyone in the entire town of Jericho would disagree with her self-assessment. Gail Green might be firm and show conviction for her beliefs. And she certainly commanded respect for all of the good deeds she had performed during her many years as 'First Lady' of the town. But she was nowhere close to the definition of mean.
Johnston sighed, a sign that he knew that he'd lost this battle.
"Fine." Johnston turned to his son. "Jake, I guess I'll be watching you eat." Jake answered with another yawn and a nod of his head.
"Eat what you can, Jake. And then it's back to bed," April instructed. She could see how tired he was already. Checking his bruises could wait. She had done the important check for any serious injury the night before.
"April…" Jake started.
"Jake, I'm surprised at you," Johnston said. "Surely you know that you can't win going up against a Green woman when she's like this. I thought you were smarter than that," he joked as he leaned ever-so-gently into his son's personal space, pressing his shoulder up tight against Jake's.
Jake took a taste of his scrambled eggs. All eyes were on him as he pulled the fork out of his mouth. Like his father just moments ago, he knew when to throw in the towel. "I guess not," he said as savored the comfort of the simple meal.
Fifteen minutes later, Jake was leaning against his dad, lightly snoring as Johnston ignored the remaining food on the tray. April and Gail had left them alone, but Gail now saw a scene before her that truly made her heart melt. Her son, who had fought terribly with his father upon returning to Jericho, now comfortable enough in his father's presence to fall asleep on his dad's shoulder. And her husband, holding his son in place with his left hand as he reached his right arm around Jake and then eased his eldest child to rest against his chest.
Would wonders never cease?
April walked in, looked at her patient and then to her father-in-law. Johnston shrugged and then rested his cheek lightly on Jake's head. She turned to Gail and said, "I guess I'm not really in charge after all." Gail smiled, squeezed her daughter-in-law in a loving hug and then took her arm as they left father and son alone once more. Gail stopped momentarily, walked back to the ottoman and grabbed the tray. She winked at her husband. And he blew her a kiss.