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Chapter 10: A Heart's Worth
Michael kept his promise to transport KITT directly to the Knight Industries R&D complex in Pasadena, where a team of technicians was waiting to begin repairs. True to form, the AI wouldn't allow anyone to touch the car until Mikayla arrived to take charge.
By the next morning, more details filtered in. Doctors determined that during the scuffle on the pier, Peter had been given a shot of a fast-acting anesthetic that put him out for several hours. Once he woke up, however, he quickly recovered and was allowed to leave the hospital. Devante and KARL drove him to the facility at his insistence so he could see for himself that KITT was in good hands.
Dierdre Leopold, in an attempt to deflect further blame from herself, had implicated Russell Montague and several members of his diving team for stealing KITT and kidnapping Peter. This was corroborated with records and camera footage of the boat and the car trailer, as well as Russell's fingerprints on both the trailer and KITT's front bumper. The drug syringe was nowhere to be found and it was assumed that it had been thrown into the water; determining how it was acquired would take longer.
In a charitable gesture, Jennifer Knight contacted Earl Leopold to tell him that while his daughter would be prosecuted for her role in the theft of 'sensitive equipment', the matter would be kept out of the spotlight as much as possible. He and his company were in no jeopardy. Having finally clued in that his long indulgence of his daughter had been a definitive factor in events, Mr. Leopold offered to cover the Foundation's legal expenses.
The case against Jay Montague proved to be more difficult. Aside from the cellphone calls that Dierdre had made to him and the fact that he had been found restrained at the warehouse alongside his brother, there was little direct evidence tying him to the actual crimes. He had been released on bail to house arrest, much to Mikayla's dismay. As a result, she resolved to find a way to make KITT's exterior cameras and communications array more durable, because if they had been functional, the video evidence would've been invaluable.
KITT hardly faulted her, since she had put up with enough from the man already.
Thanks to the tireless work of Mikayla and the Knight Industries techs to repair the damage done to the car's undercarriage by Ms. Leopold's men, the FLAG team was able to return home to Las Vegas two days later.
It was late, and most of the inhabitants of the mansion had departed or gone to sleep. According to KITT's sensors, only Mikayla and the members of the overnight security detail were still awake.
He'd had a great deal of difficulty admitting to it, but he had suffered emotional damage in the incident as well. What Ms. Leopold had said had been almost enough to persuade him that as a machine he was expendable. Everyone at FLAG, particularly Michael, had insisted otherwise, but the seed of doubt had already been planted and was beginning to worm its way into his heart.
A fierce need to be with Mikayla rippled through him, taking him by surprise. How did humans deal with such urges? A quick scan of the area's electrical capacity indicated that he should be able to maintain the holographic construct for at least an hour. Hopefully that would be long enough.
Mikayla was lying in bed when there was a discreet knock at her door. Who could it be at this time? Almost everyone else had retired long since, but she was still feeling strung out after the last few days and had found it difficult to sleep. She got up and opened the door to see Kitt standing there, with an expression on his face that she could interpret easily. After being separated from his friends in such a violent manner and then enduring several difficult days, his emotions were running rampant and needed release.
"Come in, Kitt," she said softly, thankful for his courtesy, because she knew he simply could've altered the density of his molecular field and walked through the door if he wanted to. "Do you need to talk?" At his nod she ushered him in and locked the door behind him.
"While I was… captive," he said hesitantly, "Ms. Leopold taunted me by insisting that I was a mere machine and as such unworthy and incapable of love. I put on a show of bravado for her, but her words had hurt more than I anticipated." He gazed at her with a mixture of affection and uncertainty. "How can you and I have a chance? How can I deal with the reactions that I'm capable of, that this false form is capable of?"
"Kitt, my dear, you're not fake. You're more real than many humans I know." She took his hands in hers, ignoring the brief ping of static. "And if you need it right now, I'd be happy to show you what those reactions can lead to, if you trust me." The prospect both unnerved and excited her, and she resolved to take the greatest care, as they were both about to cross whatever invisible line that still existed between them.
He gazed into her dark eyes. "Of course I trust you."
Their kiss held the promise of an enduring devotion.
When they separated, Kitt said, "I understand the anatomy involved, but beyond that…"
Mikayla raised a finger to his lips to silence him, in a similar manner as she did with his voice modulator in the car. With a loving smile she said, "Let me teach you."
Kitt had been told that the electromagnetic form couldn't perceive sensations the same way that humans did. But what Mikayla showed him disproved that. In his perception, at least. Throughout the entire experience he felt closer to her than he'd ever imagined possible. She directed him so attentively with gentle actions and whispers that inflamed him in unexpected ways. His sense of the changes in her body and metabolism translated to surges of energy and emotion within himself, to the point where he began to doubt his ability to process it.
"Don't try to process it," she'd purred to him then. "Let it all go and just feel."
Once he'd done that, everything else was simple.
Later, when they lay together in what humans termed the 'afterglow' – an apt name, he conceded – he had a deeper sense of why humans sought this activity with such frequency. Not only was it pleasurable, but between willing participants it created a connection of sorts. When both parties loved each other, however, that was what made sharing it truly special. He'd never felt so loved, so complete.
Mikayla tilted her head to gaze at him. The luminous red stripe around his neck made him look somewhat devilish. "You're overthinking again," she said jokingly.
He kissed her forehead, not averse to returning the banter. "I'm evaluating."
"Was it an informative lesson?" Her chocolate eyes twinkled.
"It was enlightening. I had an excellent teacher."
She chuckled and stroked his cheek. "Analysis aside, how did your first time feel?"
"Wonderful," he whispered as he regarded her with infinite tenderness. "I love you."
In response she snuggled into his embrace. "I love you, Kitt."
He hesitated then, needing to ask but at the same time not wanting to spoil this moment. "Would you feel the same way when I'm back in the car?"
Her arms tightened around him. "We've discussed that before, my dear. I accept you in every way we can have each other. Please don't start having regrets now."
Kitt relaxed and ran his fingers smoothly through her hair, knowing that she meant it. "I don't." After another pause, he continued, "It still amazes me that this can even be possible. How can an artificial intelligence in the body of an electromagnetic construct feel this deeply?"
Mikayla said gently, "It's just you." Then she quipped, "There is no secret ingredient."
"This isn't Kung Fu Panda," he said, his eyes narrowing. "I was being serious."
Unoffended, she snickered. "How can a human be in love with said AI construct? If we analyzed the 'why' and 'how' all the time, there would be no room to appreciate the beauty of it. It simply is."
Giving the equivalent of a sigh, he smiled. After all, Lina and Automan had proven that to him already. "I suppose you're right."
She kissed him and then settled down.
A few more minutes passed as he watched her start drifting toward sleep, wanting to ignore the subtle buzzing in the back of his head that warned that his form would begin to lose cohesion soon due to energy loss. He pulled away from her unwillingly. "I must return."
"Hmm, okay," she murmured, squeezing his hand as he rose. "Good night."
"Good night, my dear." After kissing her once more, he moved to the middle of the room and triggered the process of transferring himself back to his CPU in the car.
The holographic form dissolved into a shower of ruby sparkles and faded away.
After he'd downloaded to the car, KITT took a short time to bask in the joy of the encounter. Every detail, every touch, every word from Mikayla was dotingly remembered. Many humans believed this to be the epitome of love's expression, almost akin to an addiction from the way it affected their behaviour. He completely agreed. At first, he'd been concerned that the construct wouldn't be able to perform to expectations. However, with a little research and Mikayla's guidance they now had a new dimension to explore within their relationship. It was something worth looking forward to.
He had been foolish to begin thinking that mere words could turn him and Mikayla against each other. Their trust and love were much stronger than that.
The next morning dawned brightly, a dry warmth in the air warning of a hot day to come. Mikayla woke when the sun shone in her window, despite having gone to sleep much later than her accustomed time. Through her door she heard faint footsteps down the stairs as Alex left for his habitual morning run. She stretched, smiling as she remembered the events of the night before, and a thought popped into her head that she decided she needed to talk to KITT about. Quickly she dressed and headed outside.
To her vast surprise, the garage door was open and the Camaro was parked a short way down the driveway, its scanner dark. Kitt was actually in his construct form; she spotted him meandering through the north garden and admiring the foliage. There clearly had to be enough electricity available given the early hour, because she knew that he wouldn't have chanced it otherwise. He smiled hesitantly when she caught up to him, as if he was uncertain of what her reaction would be after their passionate indulgence.
She put any fears to rest by hugging him tightly. "Good morning, Kitt."
"Mikayla," he said softly.
They shared a loving kiss, and then she asked, "Do you have something on your mind? It's unusual for you to be out."
"Something occurred to me," he said as he released her and gallantly offered his arm. She took it and they walked together. "Whether I'm here," he indicated his body, "or in the car, my attributes are similar. I am effectively a supernatural being, unstoppable except by loss of power, an EMP, or catastrophic damage. I will never age or experience infirmity."
"And yet, you've chosen to bond yourself to a very mortal human," she said indulgently, squeezing his arm. "I thought the same. Worrying about what might happen will do no good, my dear. What we can do is to live life to the best of our ability and be prepared for any hardships along the way. Your friend Automan has accepted that, hasn't he?"
"He has," Kitt replied, "but he has also existed for much longer as a construct and therefore has more experience with it than I."
She flicked a sideways glance at him. "Then we might gain some insight by talking with him and his partner. Cooperation is always better, after all."
"Isn't there a movie about immortals who were chosen to roam the Earth and destined to fight one another?" asked Kitt with a chuckle. "I'd certainly prefer anything other than that."
By this time they'd reached the spot where the Camaro was parked. Before they could speak further, the phone in Mikayla's pocket suddenly began to ring with the estate's alarm tone. She immediately sobered and stared at Kitt, hoping for an explanation.
He had a faraway look on his face for a moment as he accessed the security feeds, before turning to her. "The estate's perimeter has been breached by an unidentified male. A team is on its way, but I suggest you wait in the car until the intruder is apprehended."
Mikayla understood his concern, but gave a wry smirk. "Me, wait? You know better than that," she said, and went with him as he made his way around the back of the garage. Almost at once they ran into Jay Montague, who was looking disheveled and somewhat hysterical. How had he escaped arrest? How had he found out where the estate was?
"You!" Jay exclaimed. "Do you two think you could just do that to Dierdre? Or to me?" he said with a crazed smile. "You think I'd let you get away with destroying us? Huh? Think again!" He fumbled under his jacket and brandished a Glock.
Kitt grabbed Mikayla and turned her away from Jay, increasing his form's density to its greatest extent, as the man began to shoot. Two bullets hit his back and three more went wide, one of which embedded itself in the garage's rear wall.
The phone sounded the alarm tone again and shouts echoed from the security officers on the grounds. Someone in the mansion had heard the shots and hit the panic button. Wide-eyed with apprehension, Jay dropped the gun and sprinted away, toward the estate's border.
"Kitt…" Mikayla whispered in amazement as her lover let go of her, seemingly uninjured. "How did you…?"
"Never mind me; are you all right?" he asked worriedly as he cupped her face in his hands.
"Yes," she said breathlessly. "Go get him."
His expression shifted into one of controlled anger, and a brief flicker of red touched his hazel eyes. "With pleasure." He dashed away, easily outrunning the armed squad that was in the process of dispersing across the property.
It was simple to find Jay, as he was being tracked by the mansion's exterior cameras, and he had an active cellphone with him. Catching him took less than a minute and Kitt held him firmly in an arm lock, oblivious to his flailing limbs, until two officers arrived. Even then, he refused to submit, until Kitt growled in his ear, "Mr. Montague, you will stop this, or you'll receive a shock of twenty thousand volts. Believe me, it's very uncomfortable."
The combination of the threat and the fact that, in his mind, Kitt should've been too injured to even chase him in the first place, was enough to intimidate him. He allowed himself to be led away, but not without shouting warnings that his lawyer would be hearing about this.
Michael, wearing only jeans and carrying a .38 pistol, jogged over and stood beside him. "He'll be hearing about this all right, but it won't help. I'll make sure of that." After shoving the gun into a pocket, he glanced at Kitt with a smile. "Good work, pal."
Kitt blinked. The use of those words and tone of his voice… "You know!"
His best friend laughed, a welcome sound. "I can tell that it's you, Kitt. I've known you for far too long to be surprised at anything that you can do. Let me guess: Mikayla's work."
"Actually, my own," Kitt said, with not a little pride. "But I can't remain this way for long during peak hours. We're still working on a longer-term solution." He winced as he felt his form begin to fragment; the power reserves were depleted by his intense activity. "Excuse me please, Michael, I must return to the car."
"By all means, then."
The apparition broke up into a shower of ruby sparkles and faded away. Michael turned and walked toward the driveway, to see the Camaro open its driver's door and Mikayla gratefully sitting inside. He might not know how KITT had come up with that new ability, but it was obvious as to why. "Good for you," he murmured. "You both deserve it."
This time the charges on Jay Montague would stick: trespassing, concealment of a firearm without a permit, and attempted murder – the latter two being felonies that would ensure that he would be in prison for a tidy number of years. When he admitted that Dierdre Leopold had told him the location of the estate, the extent of her manipulation of both him and Russell became clearer. When all was said and done, Dierdre's father had practically disowned her.
It took a few months and the calling in of some favours for a dual solar and wind generator to be installed on an unused section of the estate's back acreage, ostensibly as part of a green energy initiative. The additional power enabled KITT to use his construct more readily, attend meetings, and become a full team member in truth. And of course, when he was at home, he spent time with Mikayla and learned how to be human.
Neither of them held any illusions about what their future was going to be like. Their unusual relationship was bound to cause unanticipated difficulties. However, what mattered most was their happiness and the acceptance from their FLAG family. It was enough.
Thank you to the following people:
My husband, as always, for his support.
My beta-readers Doc0517 and |||Bluebird|||
Glen A. Larson for creating the Knight Rider universe to play in.
Chapter 2: The only time KITT used missiles was in S1E7 Not a Drop to Drink.
Chapter 2: KITT describes himself as "sleek and black and dashing" in S2E9 Soul Survivor.
Chapter 2: "Let it be a challenge to you" is a phrase from the novel Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman, meaning that when one is stuck with a problem, one must find an inventive way to deal with it.
Chapter 4: Automan was a 1983 Glen A. Larson production. Same creator, same universe? Carolina Baines and Justin Woodroffe are OCs from my own Automan fanfics.
Chapter 5: The Corsica casino was featured in Knight Rider 2008 S1E8 Knight of the Zodiac.
Chapter 5: Six celebrities were used as templates for Automan's body, as shown in Automan S1E1 Pilot.
Chapter 5: This particular mention of Automan leaving his partner alone due to lack of power occurred in Automan S1E2 Staying Alive While Running a Hot Flashdance Fever.
Chapter 6: "Go for Gold" is a phrase from Larry Niven's novel The Integral Trees, meaning to take a risk without being certain of the outcome.
Chapter 6: The false dichotomy argument is given in Person of Interest S3E12 Aletheia.
Chapter 8: Mentioned in conversation is the myth of Pygmalion in Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Chapter 8: The mention of KITT's ideal match occurred in S4E15 Deadly Knightshade.
Chapter 8: Fatal Attraction is a film about how a jilted woman terrorizes her lover's family.
Chapter 8: A conversation about machoism occurred in Knight Rider 2008 S1E2 Journey to the End of the Knight.
Chapter 9: "Boogity, boogity, boogity, boys, let's go racing!" is a saying by legendary motor sports analyst Darrell Waltrip.
Chapter 10: The 'no secret ingredient' quote from the movie Kung Fu Panda refers to the belief that one can be exceptional in one's own way.
Chapter 10: The 'movie about immortals' refers to Highlander.
Chapter 10: The final confrontation with Jay was inspired by a scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer S6E19 Seeing Red.