Knight Rider and all associated characters (except mine) are owned by National Broadcasting Company and Universal Studios. All persons described herein are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. Copyright infringement is not intended.
Chapter 9: If It Comes Back
When Mikayla and Peter entered the mansion later that evening they were greeted almost at once by Kathy, who happily informed them that Charles had been pronounced well enough to return to the Director's desk. Mikayla barely registered the news, only pausing long enough to smile wanly before going up the stairs.
"What's–" Kathy began to ask, but a shake of Peter's head stopped her.
"Don't disturb her, she needs to be alone. Please find the others and meet me in the office."
The ensuing conversation was one that he wished he hadn't needed to take part in. To say that his colleagues were shocked at the turn of events was an understatement. Without KITT they'd lost an invaluable ally, and any replacement vehicle could take months to build. Development of another AI at the present time was likely to be out of the question, even though they knew that Takumi Yamata had been putting pressure on Knight Industries for it. The best thing they could do was hold the fort until the Board debated their future.
Privately though, Peter had no doubts about what the outcome would be.
Mikayla woke early the next morning with a headache. Nothing new there. The doctors had told her that aches would be relatively common until her brain and body fully recovered from the trauma. Or perhaps it was because she'd cried herself to sleep. She didn't care either way. Her stomach grumbled, protesting the fact that she hadn't eaten anything since the previous afternoon, but she ignored it, instead choosing to brew herself a cup of tea using the small kettle she kept in her room for the purpose. A glance out the window showed that the sun hadn't risen yet, although the horizon was glowing in orange and pink.
What was she to do now? She wasn't sure if she could stay here. There were too many memories here, and without KITT her expertise wasn't needed. Both Takumi and the Board of Directors at Knight Industries certainly would censure her for putting such an end to the Foundation's project. She couldn't return to her mother's house either: the woman wouldn't cease to remind her of her perceived shortcomings.
With a sigh, she put her cup down and half-heartedly got dressed. She'd have to face the music sometime. Might as well start today and see where the fallout would throw her.
The butler hadn't yet taken his customary position at the bottom of the stairs, so she made it out of the house undetected. The front garden was sparkling with dew and a few birds were chirping lazily. She zipped up her jacket; the air was cool even though it would warm quickly later. Her first instinct was to head toward the garage… but there would be no KITT there now to greet her. A lump formed in her throat and she swallowed hard.
And yet… Her feet moved of their own accord, inexorably up the driveway until she stood at the closed door to bay number one. KITT's own. One of the motion-activated exterior lights clicked on, bathing her in its radiance, but she paid no attention as her mind was crowded by shadows of memories. What had drawn her here, the mere force of habit? Or was it a yearning for the impossible, a desperate hope? She took a shaky breath, her heart pounding.
"KITT…" she whispered. "I need you."
She was startled as the door unexpectedly began to open and the lights inside the garage came up. There was nobody inside… except, parked in its usual spot, was a midnight black Camaro 2SS.
She took a tentative step forward. Then another. The next thing she knew, she was beside the car. The driver's door opened, and she carefully peered into the cabin, unwilling to touch anything for fear that it would vanish, like a mirage over the desert.
The voice was barely audible, an echo of her own call. "Mikayla, I need you."
Her knees buckled. She let herself drop into the driver's seat and she hugged the steering wheel fiercely. The door closed and the heating system turned on low. "Why?" was the only word that she could articulate in between ragged sobs.
KITT said gently, "They say that if you love something, set it free."
Mikayla gulped and completed the quote. "If it comes back, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was."
"You said that I was free to be with the person I was meant for," he reminded her. "I was meant for you."
She shook her head, disbelieving. "I only designed the car. You, KITT, the AI, were meant for–"
"Please, hear me out," KITT interjected. "I was programmed to protect Michael. But I have the ability to decide for myself whom I was meant for. Right now, that person is you. You resurrected me and gave me reasons to live again. I want to be here, making a difference with you, Peter, and our team. Not staying at a lake in the middle of nowhere and listening to constant complaints about how difficult it is to catch fish."
Mikayla couldn't help but let out a chuckle at that, and a warmth trickled down her spine. "I don't deserve this." She wiped her face with her sleeve.
He adjusted one of the dashboard fans to blow a brief puff of warm air across her face, the closest thing he could give to a caress. For some time now, he'd been trying to comprehend the changes, both sudden and gradual, that Mikayla had made in his life. With her cheery greeting in the mornings to her banter over equipment adjustments, he felt a fervor and excitement flowing through him that hadn't been there since he'd been separated from Michael.
The conversation the previous afternoon had helped him see clearly. He would always have his connection with Michael, but now it was Mikayla who was the center of his world, and it was important that she know. "You worked hard for this," he told her. "And I appreciate it much more than you realize."
Quickly she put a hand on top of the voice modulator, silencing him. "I can guess what you want to say, KITT, and I'm not ready to hear it right now." She hated to say so, and she knew he would be disappointed, but it was too much. "I'm sorry, but… I hope you understand." Her fingertips lingered for a moment on the surface before she withdrew her hand.
"Yes," he said slowly, "I do understand." Many stories had been written about how humans were afraid to come to terms with their own emotions toward others, but he'd never fully understood until he'd become capable of experiencing those same emotions. If he pushed too hard, she would retreat. "In which case, I hope that our friendship will endure." He waited uneasily for her response.
Mikayla could've sworn that the car seat quivered under her. Or maybe it was her imagination. Was KITT afraid? After the number of emotional events over the past few months, there was no wonder that he was beginning to overload with it all. As was she. Sitting up straight and holding the steering wheel loosely, she began her calming routine that she often had done before driving in a race, breathing deeply and letting her mind clear. "I must not fear," she whispered. "Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." When she completed her litany, she once again leaned forward and hugged the wheel, feeling more at peace.
"Dune, by Frank Herbert, first published by Chilton Books in 1965," KITT said, his voice sounding closer to its usual timbre.
"That's right," she confirmed. "To answer your question, our friendship is worth more to me than words can say. The thought of you not being here isn't one that I care to contemplate ever again." She rested her chin on the wheel mount, smiling.
It was unlikely that she would give him an answer to his next question, but he needed to try. "And what about Peter?"
She thought about it briefly. The man was attractive for sure, and she liked him, but due to the risks involved in their jobs she'd never considered anything more than a platonic relationship. "I still have to find out where I stand with him," she admitted. "But we'll work it out. In the meantime, this is enough."
KITT smiled to himself. They were together, and it was enough.
Thank you to the following people:
My husband, as always, for his support.
My beta-readers Doc0517 and VINAI
Glen A. Larson for creating the Knight Rider universe to play in.
Chapter 2: KITT refers to the events of S3E10 Lost Knight, S3E9 Dead of Knight, and S3E8 Knight in Disgrace
Chapter 3: Bonnie Barstow was KITT's primary support engineer in the original series
Chapter 3: Michael and KITT discuss events relating to the Knight Rider 2000 movie
Chapter 4: Dr. David Halston was the adversary in S3E1 Knight of the Drones
Chapter 4: KITT's body was destroyed in S2E1 Goliath, S3E1 Knight of the Drones, S3E14 Junk Yard Dog, S4E1 Knight of the Juggernaut, just prior to Knight Rider 2000, and presumably between 2000 and 2008
Chapter 7: The title refers to a card from Uno that forces the turn to be passed to the previous player
Chapter 7: Alpha Seventeen refers to S1E17
Chapter 7: KITT was reprogrammed or controlled in S1E17 Chariot of Gold, S2E9 Soul Survivor, S4E13 Killer K.I.T.T.