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I'm not making any profit from using them for this fanfic.
THE LONG ROAD HOME
by Ann Rivers email@example.com
Jesse would have loved this, he knew. Riding
shotgun on an all out, tyre burning police chase.
Blue light flashing, the siren full on, skidding and swerving around the Malibu suburbs
just like one of his favourite shoot `em up movies.
Steve Sloan shook that thought out of his head, forcing himself to concentrate on his driving.
A grim smile lifted his mouth. His father may have nagged him for years to give it up,
but those years he'd spent on the rally circuit were sure as hell coming in handy now.
Warned by the howling siren, the other PCH traffic ahead of him scattered obligingly sideways.
His path now relatively clear, Steve glanced briefly down at the small grey box beside him.
The two precious glass vials that held two equally precious lives within them.
His father's life would be safe for a few hours yet, he knew that. Time was on his side.
Steve shook his head again, gritting his teeth in both anger and helpless frustration.
The relief he'd felt at telling his father he'd found the antigen had been short lived.
In spite of his and Amanda's concerted efforts, Jesse had slipped into an unrousable coma.
The consequences, too terrifying to consider, had gone unsaid. They were losing him
Blue light it all the way home, his father had said. As if he'd had to
The road to that home had never seemed longer. The need to get there never more urgent.
"Hang on, Jess" Steve whispered through tightly clenched teeth. "Just hold on for me just a few more minutes, Jesse a few more minutes"
In fact, he reached the beach-house within one, out of the car before it stopped moving.
Clinical common sense won out over the adrenalin that was compelling him to run.
If he lost those vials now well, there'd be two much more devastating losses to deal with
Instead he took the steps in brisk but sure strides, cradling the box of vials against his chest praying to all the gods he could think of that Jesse had those extra seconds to spare.
The answer was barely, if the sight of his father at an already open door was anything to go by. He knew it by the way his father took the vials from him as they hurried into the living room.
They were cutting it close. Too damn close
Under quarantine himself, Mark had been with Jesse throughout this harrowing ordeal.
He, at least, was as prepared as he could be for the scene they found there.
But for Steve, the sight of Jesse lying so horrifyingly close to death left him visibly shaken.
"Oh, dear God Jesse" he whispered, struggling to accept what his horrified eyes were seeing.
Jesse was still deeply unconscious, his body convulsing under the fever that now ravaged it.
Even with the aid of oxygen, his breathing was faint and laboured, little more than gasps for air.
Swallowing hard, Steve moved to join his father at Jesse's side, still deeply and visibly shocked.
Seeing this, Amanda came to stand beside him - trying to find and share mutual support.
"He's still with us, Steve still fighting, and he's going to be come through this" she said softly,
squeezing his hand just a little more tightly as Mark completed that so precious injection.
Steve just nodded, slipping an arm around her shoulders in both gratitude and reassurance
both so grateful for that mutual support as they watched Jesse gradually fall still and silent.
Both then looked anxiously towards Jesse's face, watching for the slightest sign of returning life.
"Are Are we in time, dad? Is this thing gonna work?" he asked at last, looking up at his father.
"I honestly don't know, son" his father replied, in answer to both his son's anxious questions.
He was already checking Jesse's pulse, corneal reflexes and breathing for signs of improvement
the grim expression on his face speaking volumes for how feeble each of those vital signs had been.
Not daring to press the issue further, Steve just nodded while gently taking Jesse's hand
taking his place beside his friend for what, he already knew, could prove a long and anxious vigil.
He didn't need anyone to tell him that Jesse now faced a terrifying battle one of his life, for his life.
But Steve was determined - whatever he faced within that battle, he wouldn't be facing it alone
He had no idea of how he'd got there. How he'd ended up in such unfamiliar surroundings.
One minute he'd been with Mark in the beach-house, the next he was standing alone outside,
staring out at a stretch of coastline that he'd never seen before.
However he'd come to be here, Jesse now realised it must have happened some hours ago.
It was getting dark now, an oddly oppressive blackness that seemed to be closing in around him.
Jesse felt himself shiver, and he instinctively hugged his arms across his chest to keep warm - wishing he had something more substantial to wear than beach shorts and a thin cotton shirt.
He was getting cold too - chilled by a sea breeze which, oddly, wasn't fragranced by salt.
There was no light either. No reassuring, welcoming houselights, or highway lights. Nothing.
No way to find his bearings. Just this chilling, inescapable darkness.
Jesse shivered once more, looking around him with increasingly nervous, frightened eyes.
Whatever was happening to him, he now knew it wasn't natural. Not with such darkness. Such cold.
Stumbling suddenly, Jesse fought in vain to stay upright but collapsed instead onto his knees his legs, for reasons he perhaps mercifully couldn't understand, now refusing to support him.
They were going to have to, though if he was ever going to find his way home.
Gritting his teeth, Jesse staggered back onto his feet, blinking in surprise at the ground below.
Somehow he'd found a path beneath the unstable sand. Firm ground on which to walk.
Jesse cautiously tapped each foot in turn as far as he dared, trying to find out where the path lay.
To his left, the darkness seemed to be deeper the road leading to it worryingly unstable.
To his right, far in the distance, a faintly comforting glow seemed to be guiding him home.
The solid road that would take him there settled an already half won argument.
Shrugging off his fear and uncertainty, Jesse turned away from the darkness and started to walk
"Here, son, get this down you"
Startled out of his thoughts, Steve then smiled at his father and took the mug with a grateful hand
the other keeping that gentle grip around Jesse's still limp, unresponsive fingers.
"Shouldn't something be happening by now?" he asked at last, unable to hide his frustration.
"I mean, it's been almost an hour, and surely Jess should have come round already, or"
"Steve, believe me, I want to see Jesse wake up as much as you do" his father told him gently.
"But he was in such a deep coma when I gave him the antigen, he may be unconscious for hours yet
he is coming round, though it's just going to take him a while to get there fully, that's all"
Seeing that his son, while reassured, was still frustrated, Mark smiled and patted his shoulder.
"At least his vital signs have stabilised slightly, and his breathing seems a little easier too
he's still critically ill, of course, but well, things are looking a lot better than an hour ago"
His perspective restored, Steve nodded happy enough now to enjoy the rest of his coffee.
"I thought I heard him call for me" he went on, relieved to see his father nodding his agreement. "You probably did, especially if Jess was dreaming" Mark replied, adding with a proud smile, "Have you been talking to him, like I suggested?"
"All the time, pretty much" Steve nodded, his return grin somewhat rueful as he added dryly,
"In fact I'm surprised Jess hasn't come round just from that and told me to shut up"
"Knowing Jesse, I wouldn't rule that out" Mark chuckled, relieved to see Steve laughing too.
"But as I told you, Steve, hearing is the first sense that Jesse will regain as he comes round
the more you talk to him, the more he hears your voice, the more likely it is that he'll respond"
Steve nodded once more, heartened enough now to return to his vigil with a new lease of life
so much so that his father soon became a proudly approving but mostly ignored bystander.
"Well, Jess, the sun's gone down now, and I have to say it was quite a show" he said softly.
Taking the cloth from Jesse's forehead, he dampened it thoroughly before gently replacing it.
"It'll be night time soon, Jess" he continued, still in that same calmly encouraging voice.
"I guess it's pretty dark where you are too and scary, and lonely but you're not alone, Jesse
I'm here and however far away you are from us right now, I'm going to bring you home"
It was proving to be one hell of a long walk, one that seemed to be lasting the entire night.
And as if the exhaustion he now felt from that wasn't bad enough, now he was imagining things.
For the past hour or so, Jesse had been aware of an unseen presence keeping him company.
A familiar voice speaking his name, soothingly telling him that everything was going to be alright.
Talking about everything from sunsets and baseball scores to promising him a ride in a police car.
He'd recognised it as Steve's voice - but when he'd called out for him, he'd found only an empty beach.
Rubbing the stiff tiredness from his legs, Jesse sighed and shook his head before trudging wearily on,
his only comfort that gently insistent voice in his head, encouraging him urging him to come home.
He was close to collapse by the time he got there, but finally Jesse stood on familiar ground.
Beyond the silhouetted lifeguard station, Mark's still night lit beach-house lay ahead of him.
The glow he'd seen earlier, Jesse now realised. His very own lighthouse, guiding him safely home.
He only had a few more hundred yards to walk to reach it, but he was just so tired now -
leaden legs now adding to the misery of blistered heels and the grandmother of all headaches.
Suddenly more miserable than he'd ever felt in his life, Jesse succumbed to that crushing tiredness.
Whatever kind of weird dream this was, he wasn't taking another step in it until he'd had some rest.
Collapsing into the sand, he was on the verge of sleep when that familiar voice startled him awake.
"So here you are! Where on earth have you been, Jess? I've been looking all over for you!"
Opening his eyes, Jesse found himself squinting into fierce daylight and, at last, a longed for face.
It was Steve looking down at him with that all too familiar smile of brotherly patience.
Before a startled Jesse could respond, he reached down to take a gentle but firm grip on his hand.
"Come on, you little Houdini" he chuckled, gently pulling Jesse onto his feet. "Let's go home"
Recovering himself, Jesse nodded happily, letting Steve draw him into a gentle, brotherly hug.
He wasn't alone any more, or tired or scared. He was safe. He was home
From where he still sat beside Jesse, staring pensively into the night, Steve came to with a start trying instinctively to release his hand from the grip which had closed so tightly around it.
Then he realised the cause and instantly stopped trying to tug his hand away from it.
The movements were clumsy and uncoordinated, but Jesse's fingers were undoubtedly moving.
"Jesse?" he said softly, praying that, in his tiredness and worry, his eyes weren't deceiving him.
The low moan he received in response was oddly reassuring Jesse's increasing fretfulness less so.
The more Steve tried to soothe and quieten him, the more fretful he became.
Alerted by his anxious shout, his father hurried in from the kitchen, Amanda close on his heels.
"He's suddenly turned real restless" Steve reported, still trying to quieten his agitated friend.
As he stood to make way for his father, he was openly surprised to find Amanda stopping him.
"If Jesse knows you're with him, he won't want you to leave now" she explained gently, nodding to where Jesse's fingers had closed around his hand, in a silent plea for him not to leave.
Returning her smile, Steve sat down again relieved to see that near frantic grip relax in response.
"She's right, Steve especially after all your hard work to bring Jesse home" his father agreed, looking up at him from where he'd been giving his young friend a gentle and thorough checkover.
Clearly pleased by his progress, he sat back on the coffee table and cast his son a mischievous grin.
"After all that effort, it would well, be rather a shame if you weren't around when he got here"
"Yeah, I'd never hear the end of it" Steve agreed wryly, happier now as he glanced at his father.
"So he's that close now? You think he's finally waking up?"
Smiling in answer to both questions, Mark then retrieved the oxygen unit he'd used earlier
meeting his son's startled eyes with a reassuring grin as he gently fitted its mask over Jesse's face.
"It's okay, son, I'm just giving Jesse some more oxygen to help bring him around" he explained, giving Jesse's shoulder a calming squeeze as he grew more agitated under its reviving effect.
"Alright, Jesse, easy now no, don't try to fight it, Jesse easy now, it's okay, it's just oxygen
that's it, just take it easy it's alright, Jess, you're home now and you're going to be just fine"
Settling once more, Jesse then moaned softly and, after several attempts, finally opened his eyes
a puzzled smile appearing under the mask as he stared in turn around three encouraging faces.
"Got Got lost" he whispered at last, tugging the mask off in spite of Mark's attempts to stop him.
Looking up at Steve, the smile widened in weary idolisation. "But Steve, he he brought me home"
"I know he did, Jess" Mark assured him, gently but firmly holding the mask back on his face.
"And you can tell us all about it tomorrow but for now, Jesse, you really need to sleep
rest now, Jesse we can talk some more in the morning but for now, just go back to sleep"
Not having the strength to either reply or argue, Jesse simply nodded and closed his eyes.
He was instantly asleep again, oblivious to the relieved hugs and puzzled glances he'd left behind.
The puzzled look belonged to Steve, who now met his father's eyes with grim realisation in his own.
"Jess wasn't dreaming when he called out for me, was he, dad?" he asked, his voice tellingly quiet.
"He was having some kind of"
"Near death experience" Mark finished for him, gently squeezing his arm as he added softly,
"Steve, I didn't dare tell you when you called about the antigen since you were driving back, but Jesse's condition was deteriorating rapidly, and well, in fact it was rather worse than that"
Pausing a moment, Mark then quietly confirmed the nightmare that he and Amanda had already faced. "Just before you arrived, Jesse's heart stopped, just for a few seconds, before we got him back, so
yes, son, technically we did lose him Jesse died, for just those few seconds"
Steve just nodded, trying to digest this unthinkable news, before he looked up at his father and smiled. "You did the right thing, dad" he said at last, thinking for a moment before wryly admitting,
"If I'd known that when I called you, I would probably have steered straight into the surf"
Sharing their relief that he hadn't, Steve then grew more serious. "So how do we help him with this?"
"Well, like I said to Jesse, we talk to him about it" his father replied, smiling gently back at him.
"We assure him that what he experienced was perfectly normal, help him come to terms with it then let him enjoy the life that he fought so hard to return to"
Steve's return grin held a trace of conspiracy as he glanced down at his now soundly sleeping friend.
He'd made Jesse a promise as he'd guided him home. Soon he'd have the chance to keep it.
And what a day that promised to be !
While hopefully not including lights and sirens, Amanda appeared to be having the same idea.
"And maybe spoil him a bit too, just a little" she chipped in, gently stroking back Jesse's hair.
"If he'll let us" Mark chuckled, all too aware of his young protégé's fiercely independent streak.
"Oh, he will" Amanda winked slyly up at him. "If he knows what's good for him, he will"
"Yes, I daresay" Mark conceded the point with a good natured grin as he glanced across at Steve.
His son would, he knew, want to get his share of mother-henning over Jesse too. So did he, of course.
One thing was for sure - the next few days promised quite an entertaining four way battle of wills.
"Okay, you two can take care of the coddling strategy while I take care of the coffee" he chuckled, amused to note from two vague nods of agreement that plans for that strategy were already under way.
Smiling in proud if rather exasperated approval, Mark left them both to it and headed into the kitchen.
Things were just as quiet when he returned though for slightly different, hardly surprising reasons.
Amanda and Steve were now enjoying some much needed sleep, stretched out in each of the recliners.
"Who'd have thought planning strategy could be so tiring?" Mark sighed, fondly shaking his head amused and relieved that neither batted an eyelid as he gently draped a spare blanket around them.
The comfiest chairs may already have been occupied, but Mark soon found an equally cosy alternative one which allowed him to both get a head start on spoiling Jesse while still monitoring his recovery.
Fortunately Jesse didn't take up much room, giving Mark plenty to stretch his legs out alongside him.
Leaning back against the armrest, he watched Jesse settle against him with a fondly indulging smile.
Even the most independent of interns, it seemed, didn't object to the occasional, comforting hug.
Then again, after what he'd just been through, it was hardly surprising that Jesse needed that comfort.
Mark knew that difficult questions still lay ahead before his recovery from that ordeal was complete.
But for now he was happy to enjoy his coffee, let Jesse snuggle against him - and watch his family sleep.
The most difficult of those questions, and perhaps the one they most expected, came the next evening Mark's gentle check on the day's progress interrupted by a still weak, oddly hesitant voice.
"Mark, before you gave me the antigen, did did something happen to me? Did Did I die?"
Mark stared at him in open surprise his astonishment mirrored on the faces of Steve and Amanda.
They'd thought that Jesse would want to regain some of his strength before facing this moment, but well, trust Jesse to see things differently not to mention throw plans for his recovery into total chaos.
"Yes, you did, Jesse for a few seconds, before Steve arrived with the antigen" Mark finally replied, proud to see that Steve and Amanda had already joined him at Jesse's side to add their own support.
Wryly thinking how cosy it was to be stuck between them, he then favoured Jesse with a gentle smile.
"Your heart stopped for about thirty seconds before we brought you back with the oxygen and CPR"
Jesse nodded, accepting this most sobering of bombshells with, all things considered, remarkable calm.
"So I was down for thirty seconds" he said at last, frowning as he added softly, "Is Is that all?"
Realising how that must have sounded to those who'd shared those seconds with him, he added quickly, "I I know how flip that must be to you and Amanda, but well, it just seemed longer to me, and"
"It probably did, Jess" Mark assured him, giving his still unsettled patient a gentle squeeze on his arm. "Believe me, in all my years of medicine, I've heard dozens of accounts describing the same thing
time as seen by the patient having the experience, and those trying to save their life, is often different
what we'd see as seconds or even minutes, you probably saw as well, hours, maybe an entire day"
"Or night" Jesse cut in quietly, frowning once more as he tried to describe his incredible experience.
"It It was night time, and and I was standing out on this deserted beach that I didn't recognise
things were real weird there, it it was so dark and cold, and I just couldn't recognise where I was"
Concerned that Jesse was trying to draw on strength that he didn't yet have, Mark patted his arm distracting him long enough for Steve to pass him a reviving glass of orange juice.
The drink disappeared with reassuringly familiar speed, bringing some welcome colour to Jesse's face.
"Do you think you can manage something to eat now, Jess?" Mark asked, refilling the empty glass.
"Only with the fever you're still running, you really need to"
"Keep up my blood sugar levels" Jesse finished for him, adding with a wearily hopeful smile,
"Got any corn chips?"
"Plain and barbeque I'll save myself a journey and bring both" Steve grinned, rising to his feet. "Cereal and milk would be a lot healthier for him" Amanda argued, following him into the kitchen.
Watching both go, Jesse then looked up at a helplessly laughing Mark with a slightly pained grin.
"They'll be putting me over their shoulders and burping me next" he sighed, pulling a comical face.
"Don't tempt them, Jess" Mark chuckled, his turn to look surprised as Jesse grinned and shrugged.
"I have to admit, Mark, it it feels kinda nice to well, you know, feel cared about like that
especially after well, what I told you about my dad"
Hearing the regret of that estrangement in his voice, Mark smiled and gently patted his shoulder.
"You know, Jesse, many people who go through these experiences see it as a sign" he said at last.
"A chance to well, make a fresh start in their lives, or to maybe resolve past differences"
As he'd proudly expected, Jesse was already nodding in thoughtful, quietly hopeful agreement.
"When you first came round, you said something about being lost" Mark went on after a slight pause, clearing the coffee table for the trays of snacks and drinks which Steve and Amanda now brought in.
"Yeah, and Steve came to find me" Jesse replied, looking up at Steve with a sleepily idolising smile. Winking back at him, Steve gently ruffled his hair while handing him a bag of his beloved corn chips.
Not to be outdone, Amanda passed him a bowl of cereal - a sternly raised eyebrow defying any protest.
Trading wry grins with Mark, both keeping that amusement wisely silent, Jesse tucked happily into both.
"I guess with having that fever and those thirty seconds and all, I was pretty out of it" he said at last.
"All I can really remember about Steve coming to find me was what he kept talking to me about
real weird things, like what the sunset was like, and promising me a ride in a real police car"
A pause, followed by a wistfully yearning sigh. "He was even going to let me use the sirens"
Perched on the armrest behind him, Steve allowed himself another grin of silently happy conspiracy
"Aw, come on, Steve, why won't you tell me where we're going?"
"Because it's a surprise, Jess" Steve explained patiently to his increasingly wheedling passenger. "And if I told you what it was well, it wouldn't be a surprise now, would it?"
"You know what's worse than a sadist? A smug sadist with a badge and a gun" Jesse muttered, subjecting his infuriatingly grinning friend to his most furiously meaningful glare.
When that failed to work, he twisted in his seat to make the same appeal to his back seat companions.
"Look, you guys must know what he's up to can't you tell me? Please?"
Tempted as they were, Mark and Amanda could see Steve's warning look in the rear view mirror and knew they'd both be in serious trouble if either ruined the surprise he'd spent all week planning.
"Sorry, Jess" Mark said at last, finding it impossible not to laugh at that wheedling young face.
"But as you yourself just said, he's the one with a gun"
"Yeah, and I'm the one with knowledge of anatomy and access to an endoscope" Jesse shot back whatever threat he planned to use next lost in puzzled silence as the car took a significant turnoff.
"Police academy?" he murmured at last, staring at Steve as though he needed psychiatric help.
"You're taking me to the police academy?" A bewildered pause, then a bright, eagerly hopeful grin.
"What, to meet three little girls?"
"Not exactly, no but you're going to love this, Jess, I promise" Steve assured him with a sly wink.
Now more curious than ever, Jesse watched Steve's grin widen - and gulped. Now he was worried.
Then he remembered. A promise, made to him during that very special journey...
Seeing the penny drop in a delighted, excited smile, Steve glanced at his co-conspirators and grinned.
"I say, Watsons, I think he's finally got it!"
"Well, one of us had to" Jesse shot back at him, determined as ever to give back as good as he got.
A sudden thought caused his smile to mischievously widen. "You know, Steve, I've often wondered
I've just gotta ask this when you were here, was it anything like you know, those movies?"
"Not in the slightest" Steve retorted, choosing his moment before adding dryly, "It was worse"
Jesse's helpless giggles, and the laughter from behind him, only increased at the inevitable punchline.
"Now get up that rope, Sloan! Come on, move it, move it, move it!"
Jesse was now looking at him with his most wheedling smile and Steve knew he'd made a big mistake.
"Jesse, we can't go in there" he said at last, hoping against hope to fend off that insatiable curiosity.
"Why not?" Jesse was all quizzical innocence and, to Steve's dismay, more tenacious as ever.
"I mean, you're a cop, aren't you? You've got your badge can't you kinda sneak us all in?"
Steve just rolled his eyes - the continuing laughter from the back seat wasn't exactly helping either.
"You know, son, I've always wanted to see where you took your training" Mark chipped in pretending not to notice the baleful glare he received in response.
"Me too" Amanda agreed, equally eager to have a good look around - albeit with an ulterior motive. "All those healthy young men, at the peak of physical and mental condition, working up a real sweat" Suddenly aware of three incredulous glances, she added defensively, "Or so I've heard"
Sorely tempted as he was, not even Jesse was going to touch that comment with a ten metre cattle pole.
Steve wasn't too willing to pursue it either. Besides which, he still had his own troubles to deal with namely the three pairs of highly amused, wheedling eyes which now turned in his direction.
Feeling that three against one was just a tad unfair, Steve just rolled his own and gave up.
"Okay, you win" he sighed, adding one last caution as Jesse and Mark traded a victorious high five.
"But if the recruits need volunteers to practise PT on, Jesse, I'll make sure you go top of the list"
Not even that could dent Jesse's enthusiasm even if that enthusiasm was slightly misplaced.
"Oooh, all those would be policewomen throwing themselves adoringly onto me!"
"Oh no, you don't" Amanda told him firmly, for once unmoved by that glacier-melting smile.
"Jesse, you're still recuperating from last week, and you're in no fit state for anything of the kind"
"Aw, come on, Amanda! You were the one who gave me a clean bill of health!" Jesse protested
taking full and typically resourceful advantage of the rather chagrined silence that followed.
"Besides, why do you think they call it physical therapy?"
Amanda's revenge came half an hour later, from the gymnasium's assessment gallery.
"That's why they call it physical therapy, Jesse because it's, well physical"
"No kidding" Jesse muttered, wincing as he watched the recruits being put through their paces.
Glancing up at Steve, he asked suspiciously, "Are you sure those girls down there are well, girls?"
"Oh, they're girls alright, Jess" Steve retorted, unable to resist teasing his thwarted young friend.
"Want me to take you down there? Maybe have one or two throw themselves adoringly onto you?"
"What, are you nuts? I'd end up flatter than one of those crash mats!" Jesse protested vehemently,
pretending in the laughter that followed not to notice Amanda's pointed look as he coughed for effect.
"Besides, I'm still convalescing from last week, remember?"
"Of course you are" Steve chuckled, not at all fooled by the bright eyed picture of health before him.
Knowing when he was beaten, Jesse grinned and shrugged and resourcefully changed the subject.
"So what's next on this great tour, Steve? Hey, what about the crime lab, can we go there?"
Wryly wondering where it had all gone wrong, Steve just grinned and nodded in patient agreement.
His plans may not have worked out as he'd expected, but no one, least of all Steve, was complaining.
All of them were thoroughly enjoying themselves as Steve took them wherever his badge allowed.
The crime and IT labs, one of the teaching classes, the sports ground and, of course, the firing range with Jesse happily collecting baseball caps, academy shirts and other souvenirs along the way.
Finally they arrived at Steve's carefully planned surprise his favourite haunt while at the academy.
The pursuit driving skidpatch.
And judging by the excited delight on Jesse's face, it would soon be one of his favourite places too.
It was all Steve could do to reach the driver's seat of their assigned car before Jesse beat him to it.
Thwarted, for the moment at least, Jesse was soon grinning again as Steve buckled him securely in.
"You sure you don't want to come too, Mark? Amanda?" he asked through his still open window.
"That's okay, Jess, we'll sit this one out" Mark smiled, adding a wry aside while the car pulled away.
"Having seen what these pursuit cars can do, Amanda, I'd suggest we sit all of them out"
"I see what you mean" she chuckled, watching the car gather speed with rather concerned eyes.
"Hold onto your stomach, Jesse"
Far from feeling queasy, Jesse was thoroughly enjoying himself as the car skidded around the circuit.
Steve could only wonder at how such a little body could produce such an incredible amount of noise.
"Hooo-eeee! Oh, wow, Steve, this is great! This is just great! Now this is what I call driving!"
Above the changing revs of the engine, squealing tyres and excited yells from his exhilarated passenger,
it was taking increasing levels in his voice and sarcasm levels for Steve to make himself heard.
"Jesse, now we're going to Jess, I want you to hey, cadet Travis, quit yelling and pay attention!"
That last part, together with a marked deceleration in speed, finally achieved the desired result.
"Hey, I never touched anything!" came the familiar, defensive yelp. "See? How could I?"
Steve had to laugh at that as he obligingly checked. Rebuked so often for touching things he shouldn't,
Jesse now had his hands stuffed so deeply into his pockets that he could probably scratch his toes
his growing frustration at not being able to reach all those switches proving too much for Steve to stand.
"Jesse, I never said you did!" he chuckled, still laughing as he pulled the car to one side of the circuit. Leaving the engine to idle, he met Jesse's curiously puzzled eyes with a helpful nod to the dashboard.
"You see that red switch there? The one you're just itching like crazy to hit?"
"Did you have to use the `i' word?" Jesse asked peevishly, rubbing a still not entirely itch free chest.
Realising what Steve had meant, he brightened with a hopefully eager smile. "What, this one here?"
"Yes, Jesse, that one there" Steve nodded, waiting until he'd stopped laughing long enough to add,
"Hit it followed by the blue one next to it then hold on"
Jesse didn't need to be told twice. Hell, he'd barely been able to wait long enough to be told once.
As the lights and sirens wailed into life, Steve hit the accelerator and Jesse's stomach hit the floor.
Steve had thought that Jesse couldn't possibly make any more noise than he had already.
"YAAAAAA-HOOOIE !! WHEE-HEEE !! WHAAAAA-HOOOOE !!"
He'd thought wrong
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