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Chapter 3- Surprise, Surprise

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"WAKE UP, JESSE!" Jesse bolted up, tightly gripping her teddy bear, one of�the last remnant of her parents that she had.

Takeshi grinned as he shot a picture of her,
"That would make a great Christmas card, don'cha think?" Takeshi asked as he shoved the camera in Jesse's sleepy face.

"What time is it?" Jesse groaned as she rubbed her eyes.

"Time to wake up!" Takeshi said, rather chipperly. Jesse fell back into her bed.

"Wakey-wakey!" Takeshi shouted in her ear. She swung her pillow at him and managed to catch him in the face.

Takeshi spit out a mouthful of feathers,
"I didn't think you would be so persistant." He said, beginning to get annoyed

"Too bad." Jesse mumbled as she nestled into her cot.

"Then you force me to take drastic measures!" Takeshi�donned an evil face and he tipped the cot over and�spilled Jesse�as well as�all her bedding onto the floor. Takeshi burst into laughter and wiped his nose.

"Do I really have to get up now?" She groaned.

Takeshi snorted,
"Yup. I've been waiting here all night just to wake you up!"

Jesse�raised an eyebrow�as Takeshi pulled her to her feet,
"All night? You really have no life, do you?" She yawned.

Takeshi grinned dopily,
"Nope. Now if you excuse me, I'm gonna go try and sell this funny video of you on C-bay!"

"You're what?" Jesse cried as she stumbled to her makeshift dresser (a chest containing all the clothes her friends had given her) and yanked out a yellow T-shirt and a pair of jean capris.

Takeshi laughed,
"Nothing you need to worry about… I wonder how much River would pay for that" He laughed as he made his exit, closing the door behind him.

Jesse scowled at the door,
"He is such a- a- a dork!"


Jesse jumped as her alarm clock rang out and�dropped her clothes. She grabbed her clock off the floor (since she was without normal pieces of furniture such as side tables, she had to keep her clock on the floor)

"3:56? Oh no! Miss Satomi will kill me!" Jesse shouted as she threw down her alarm clock on the floor and grabbed her fuzzy pink slippers, not caring that she was still in her short pink night gown. She burst out of her room and blew through the hallway and down the stairs, almost tripping over Takeshi.

Jesse paused and stared for a few moments; Takeshi had apparently been up all night waiting just to wake her up and had completely konked out from exhaustion just after he left her room. She grinned evilly as she spotted the crystal chandelier hanging delicately above their heads.

She�carefully stooped down and removed one of Takeshi's shoes, gagging quietly at the horrid smell and then, as hushed and as gently as she could possibly be, she tossed his�ratty sneaker up in the beautiful light fixture.

Snickering at her payback, she hurried on her way, down three more flights of stairs, down the hall and through her 'secret shortcut' (as she called it) through the kitchen, passing (and almost knocking over) Chef Gleft. She practically broke the swinging kitchen door as she spun through, falling over a chair on her way.

Sprawled over the floor, she heard a deep chuckling,
"Are you all right, cutie?" She managed to pull herself up a bit and found someone kneeling in front of her. Two strong�arms wrapped around her waist,�lifted her up, and held her gently and tightly against a strong, well-built chest. She began to feel dizzy as soft fingertips caressed her face, brushing the loose strands of hair gently out of her face,

"I can't… I can't be late… Miss Satomi will..." She trailed off as she�strained to open her eyes and gazed upon her rescuer, "River…?" she�mumbled as her sight became clearer and revealed the oh-so-handsome pilot. She closed her eyes and moaned softly�as he pulled her closer.

Slowly, a small smile graced his lips as he held her in his strong arms,
"Are you alright? That was a big wipe out. And that's a pretty big bump…" He gently ran his hand across her forehead, gently touching the tender area just above her left eyebrow. "You'll be okay… you can trust me… I'll make sure that you'll be fine…"

His handsome, comforting face was�the�final thing she remembered before she passed out

"Jesse…? Jesse…? Wake up, Jesse. Wake up." Jesse shakily lifted a cold hand to her sore forehead as� Miss Satomi's voice rang through her throbbing head. Splitting pain racked her skull. She opened her eyes and they finally focused on the mussy-haired�Miss Satomi. She had been shaking Jesse rather roughly�for some time�as River stood by the side of the infirmary bed, his face, all the while, worriedly watching her.

Jesse's eyes drifted up to River's sweet face. He smiled warmly down at her,
"Feeling better?"

Jesse looked about,
"Wh-where am I…? How did I get here…?" Jesse asked as Miss Satomi opened the curtains.

"Well," Miss Satomi began,
"Prince Charming came charging into my office with you in his arms. You were almost late."

Jesse closed her eyes as a blush spread across her face, hoping that River wouldn't notice,
"I… I'm sorry Miss Satomi… I tripped…"

"Yes, Yes," Miss Satomi said, cutting her off, "Mr. Marque here made that quite clear. He was grabbing a bite to eat in the cafeteria and then you came blowing through and he caught you. Back on subject, we hurried you here to the infirmary and the nurse said you'll be fine to race today," Jesse groaned and held her arm over her aching eyes.

Miss Satomi just snapped.

"How can you not want to race! You are going to race today! And you're going to like it!" She roared as she clenched her fists, her face beginning to turn a lovely shade of purple,

"YOU OWE ME�EVERYTHING YOU HAVE AND YOU ARE GOING TO RACE!" Tears began to sting the back Jesse's eyes as she shrank back into the covers, wanting to be as small as she possible could be.

"Hey," The two turned their attention to the blonde Canuck, "Don't you dare talk to Miss Martin like that." He said, drawing himself up to his full height which well exceeded that of Miss Satomi's; nearly six foot four.

Miss Satomi backed away from the tall Canadian. River clenched his fists and glowered down menacingly at her,
"If Miss Martin doesn't want to race, I won't allow you to make her."

Miss Satomi narrowed her eyes cockily,
"She is racing, you incompetent fool. That is final!" River growled and threw himself at her, grabbing her suit by the collar and easily lifted her off the floor. Miss Satomi thrashed to get free but�failed as she hung a good�have a foot�off the ground.

"River! Please!" River turned and found that Jesse had managed to struggle out of bed and shakingly made her way over to him, "I-It's okay! I- I can race! I'm fine-- really I am!"

River slowly lowered Miss Satomi and released her from his iron grip. The brunette adjusted her suit,
"Jesse, I suppose you should thank this brute for rescuing you after your fall. But don't get too chummy. I highly dissapprove of fraternizing with the enemy.You're going to show�him up later,�anyhow." Miss Satomi said, her nose high in the air as she exited the room,

"Jesse!" She called back, "Come into my office once you're finished thanking Marque. We still need you fitted. Got it?"

"Yes Miss Satomi." Jesse said, bowing to the door. Jesse turned to River, "So. . . I. . .�Thank you. . ." she said timidly.�

River smiled a spine-tingling smile,
"No problem. . . Are you alright?" he asked as he lifted�a hand to the cold-compress bandaged to her forehead.

Jesse blushed delicately at the feeling of his soft fingertips on her burning skin. They stood there for a moment in silence.

"I have a question. . ." Jesse said softly, looking up into his soft eyes, "Why are you here so early? You've been around Team Satomi a lot lately. . . Is there any reason?"

River's smile turned into a sad one as he dug his hands into his pockets and nervously kicked at the ground with the toe of his white cowboy boot,
"I. . . I guess I missed you guys. And. . . Lately at Sledgemamma Headquarters. . . Well. . . Yamma, Dimma and Timma have been out on a trip and they're just coming back today for the race. . . so. . . I've been all alone in that huge building. Besides, since this is the International HQ, I'm granted entrance anytime. "

"Well. . ." Jesse thought for a moment,
"Do you have any family to be with?"

River was silent and averted his gaze. Jesse understood,
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" she whispered as she gently took his hand. River looked over to her questioningly and she blushed, "I. . . I know how you feel. . ."

"I visited my old man an' my mom's graves yesterday." He said quietly.�He trailed off as he glanced up and found the red-head's soft�eyes filling up with tears. She tried�to stop them from falling, but�when River spotted the thin trail of her tears winding down her�feathery white skin,�he quickly wiped her tears away.

"Please don't cry." he said, carressing�her cheek,�"I'm sorry. . . I'm just a big. . . a big buffoon. Um. . . I didn't mean to make you cry. . . I shouldn't have said that,"

"It's just so terrible!" she cried as she looked away.

River was taken aback,
". . . Pardon?"

"How can anyone as kind as you have s-such a horrible thing happen to them?" She sobbed.�

River smiled and gently pulled her close into his arms. her heart lept to her throat and her face began to pinken as River ran a hand through her hair and took a deep breath, his breath tickling her on her cheek,
"Last time I checked, I think I know a very sweet girl who's been orphaned. And I, for one, think that she's too pretty to cry for some other�stupid pilot,"

"Who . . .?" She asked.

River smiled as he leaned in close and brought his lips close to her ear,

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Did you enjoy it? Please DO review! I really look forward to it! Thank you to all of my readers once again!

Mysteria Pearl