|A Soft Place To Fall
Author: yassandra PM
What happens when one of the Team's life hangs in the balance?Rated: Fiction T - English - Words: 5,169 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 3 - Published: 02-21-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2274324
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N I'm reposting this and my other TKR story as the original formatting appears to have been lost in one of 's upgrades.
Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Team Knight Rider – let's just say that if I did it wouldn't have been cancelled.
Trek Sanders sighed and pushed his long light brown hair out of his blue eyes. This was just not his day. Quickly he ducked as another bullet whizzed past his head. He tapped a button on his watch.
"Err guys? Any chance of some help here? I'm getting shot at."
"You and me both, nerdboy," came Erica West's reply. "Do you get the feeling they don't like us?"
Trek rolled his eyes as the team leader Kyle Stewart's voice crackled from the communicator.
"Just sit tight, both of you. We'll be with you in a couple of minutes.
Trek sighed again, silently hoping that he had a couple of minutes.
This was supposed to be a fairly easy assignment. A group of terrorists had been threatening to blow up an office block in a prominent location. Team Knight Rider had apparently captured the whole group, but not before the timer on the bomb had been set. Trek had been sent in to diffuse it, with Erica as back up, while the rest of the team questioned the captives. When they had got to their destination they had discovered that not all the terrorists had been rounded up. They had been separated and were now under heavy fire while the timer counted down. Trek ran his hand through his hair in frustration. He hated working to a timetable that he hadn't seen.
With a roar of engines, Kyle's silver SUV, Dante, and Attack Beast, the black truck paired with Duke DePalma, pulled into the underground garage where Trek and Erica were pinned down. Quickly, they stunned the terrorists, allowing Trek to get up and run towards the door that the villains had been protecting. Yanking it open he raced inside followed by Kyle, Erica, Duke and Jenny Andrews, the former marine who made up the final human member of the team.
The bomb sat against one of the supporting pillars for the basement. Trek crouched beside it to read the display. 45 seconds. Dammit, couldn't he have any luck today? He bit his lip and looked up at Kyle.
"We should move this to the middle of the room, just in case."
Kyle nodded his assent and then he and Duke carefully moved the bomb. Trek knelt down again, gently unscrewing the timer control panel. 30 seconds. Quickly he began to diffuse the bomb. It was designed to be triggered by a smaller explosion. He removed the main body of explosives and gave them to Jenny to take outside. 20 seconds. The detonator was more complicated than he had thought it would be. Suddenly his eyes widened in shock.
"Shit. Booby trap. Everybody out now!"
The team ran through the door. Then the world exploded. Briefly Trek wondered if they were far enough away from the blast. Then he was flung into a pillar and everything went black.
Kyle Stewart shook his head to try to clear the ringing in his ears.
"Is everyone alright?" he asked.
"I'm ok," answered Duke.
"Fine," came the reply. Kyle looked at the dark haired beauty and noted that, aside from some smudges on her face and clothing, she did indeed seem fine.
"Yeah but FLAG owes me a new shirt. This one's my favourite and it's ruined."
Kyle rolled his eyes and waited for the youngest member of his team to make some witty comeback. Instead there was only silence.
There was no answer. Kyle turned to face the door of the room they had come from. Where the door used to be there was now a gaping hole, the scorch marks on the brickwork mute testament to the force of the blast. He spotted Trek lying at the bottom of the pillar nearest the door and ran over to him with the rest of the team closely following.
The kid was lying in an almost foetal position with his brown hair covering his face. Absently Kyle knelt down and brushed Trek's hair back with one hand. The young man was deathly pale and his breathing seemed shallow and slow. Blood ran from a nasty looking head injury down the side of his face. What worried Kyle more was the trickle of blood that seemed to be coming from the corner of Trek's mouth. Quickly he tapped his communicator.
"Dante. Contact FLAG and tell them we need an emergency medical team here now."
Looking up at his team he could see the worry etched into all their faces. Trek was like a little brother to them all.
Erica West looked down at her hands. They seemed to have been sitting in this corridor for hours waiting for the doctor to tell them something. Anything would do. Part of Erica expected Trek to come bouncing out of the room with a joke and a flick of his brown hair. To tell her that this wasn't real and that he'd only been playing a trick on her. Then she would make a sarcastic comment and everything would be back to normal. But the sinking feeling in her stomach told her that that wasn't true. Erica relied on her instincts a lot and right now they were telling her that something was very, very wrong.
She stood up, stretched and walked to the door, trying to work the kinks out of her neck. Kyle sat staring at the floor and Jenny was gazing into space. Both seemed lost in worlds of their own. Erica stopped at the door and pretended to look through the glass panel in it, although she couldn't focus on what was on the other side. Suddenly she felt a pair of strong hands massaging her shoulders. She turned and saw Duke behind her. The large African-American man looked sad although he tried to smile.
"He'll be ok," he rumbled, but Erica couldn't tell if he was trying to reassure her or himself.
"Yeah," she answered. "I can't believe I ripped my favourite shirt," she added, hoping to hide how worried she really was from everyone.
Before Duke could respond a door in the corridor opened and a grim faced doctor stepped out. The team turned to face him.
"Is he going to be alright?" Kyle asked, his face tight.
The doctor sighed and ran his hand through his hair. This was the part of the job that he hated.
"I don't know," he answered slowly. "It's touch and go at the moment. We've managed to stop the internal bleeding but he's lost an awful lot of blood. What's concerning us most at the moment is the head injury. I'm sorry to have to tell you but your team-mate slipped into a coma."
Erica gasped and quickly turned her face away so that no-one would see the tears forming in her eyes. She was surprised at the strength of her own feelings.
"Is there anything we can do?" Jenny asked, her face pale.
"Mr Sanders is stable at the moment. The best thing you can do is just keep talking to him. You never know, it could bring him out of it."
Erica couldn't help noticing that the doctor didn't look too hopeful.
"You can go in now if you like. I have some paperwork to fill in."
The doctor began to move away. Kyle placed a hand on his arm, stopping him.
The doctor nodded and carried on about his business, head bowed.
The team looked at each other.
"Well I suppose we should go in," Duke mumbled, his brown eyes sad.
Erica turned away again.
"You guys go ahead. I've… err… I've got stuff to do," she finished in a rush. "I'll catch up with you guys later."
Kyle frowned and turned towards her.
Erica cut him off before he could continue.
"I've gotta go Kyle. See you later."
With that she hurried off, practically running through the doors at the end of the corridor.
Kyle frowned after her and then looked at his two remaining team-mates, managing to give them a weak smile.
"I'm sure everything's gonna be fine guys," he said. "Let's go."
He walked over to the door that the doctor had come from, pausing briefly with his hand on the handle before sighing and turning it purposefully.
Jenny Andrews followed Kyle through the door and stopped. Dispassionately she allowed her eyes to roam around the room, looking at everything except the figure on the bed. Faintly she heard someone asking a question but couldn't order her thoughts enough to work out who it was or what they said.
"Jenny," Domino's silky voice broke through her reverie. "Jenny, honey, I asked if you were ok."
"Yeah Dom I'm fine," she answered absently.
"You want me to take out the guys that did this Jenny?" Beast asked eagerly. "I've got a missile with their names on it if it'll make you feel better."
Before Kyle could retort Jenny smiled sadly.
"No Beast but thanks for the offer."
"Anytime Jenny," the black truck growled.
Finally Jenny moved over to the bed and looked at the young man lying on it. She'd never seen Trek so still. Normally he was always moving, laughing, teasing, talking or playing with something.
"Stalking your ex-boyfriend is not exactly healthy behaviour."
"Trek we're not stalking him. We're just tracking him."
"Face it Jenny, Erica's more fun than you at a party."
" 'kay let's move in fast and take 'em out."
"Right. Before they get a chance to get organised."
"Right, right, right… that and the new season of the Real World starts tonight."
Jenny didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the memories.
"He looks so young," she said.
Kyle gently squeezed her shoulder in support.
Jenny sat down beside the bed and gently picked up Trek's hand.
"Hey," she said. "We're all here for you." All except Erica, she added silently.
Trek opened his eyes, stretched and stood up. He frowned. Where was the underground garage, the bomb damage, the team? He looked around himself and found he was in his room aboard Sky One.
"Now how'd I get here?" he asked himself.
"You really don't want to know," a voice behind him answered.
Trek turned around, his eyes widening as he saw the person behind him.
It was late. Most of the Sky One staff had long since gone to bed. Erica made her way down through the garage. No-one greeted her. Erica knew no-one, not even Kat, was talking to her. They didn't know why she had run off rather than go in to see Trek but they didn't like the fact that she had. Beast was particularly angry, thinking that she'd upset Jenny even more.
Erica stopped in front of Plato, Trek's black Honda Blackbird. The bike, as always, was gleaming.
"Plato?" she said, her voice quavering.
There was no answer and the screen behind the bike remained blank.
"Plato?" Erica tried again.
The AI still refused to respond.
"Plato, please. Please talk to me." Tears sprang up in her eyes again.
"He hasn't responded since you brought him back here," a voice behind her stated.
Erica spun around and found herself facing Gil, one of the Sky One mechanics.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, her voice taking on its usual sarcastic tone. Gil wasn't usually known for his dedication to his work and spent most of his time trying to avoid being in the garage.
"I couldn't sleep," he shrugged. "Figured I might as well get something useful done."
Erica was taken aback and her face registered her shock.
"Look," he said. "I like Trek. Hell it's hard not to like him. It's hard to find anyone on Sky One who has a bad word to say about him. Except for Alex of course."
Erica found herself getting curious.
"Alex?" she asked.
"Yeah," Gil laughed a little shamefaced. "One of the other mechanics. But that's just 'cause Trek broke his nose."
"Pardon?" came Erica's startled reply. "You've gotta be mistaken. Trek never fights. He spends most of his time hiding behind Jenny."
Gil shrugged again.
"Well I don't know what goes on in the field but I'm just telling you what goes on in the garage. See Alex… well he was… it was…"
Erica grew impatient.
"Well he was kind of making suggestions and jokes about you and Kyle. You know… about why he sprung you from gaol. Anyway Trek didn't like it and told Alex to stop. He didn't so Trek hit him and broke his nose. Stopped all the rude jokes."
Erica blinked, startled that Trek would do that for her. Her blue eyes shimmered again with unshed tears.
"Oh," she said. "Anyway you said Plato hasn't said anything since we came back."
"No," Kat suddenly interjected, sounding upset. "He won't even respond to me. Plato shut himself down completely. It's as if he's not there any longer."
Erica didn't want to think about that.
Trek walked along beside the old man in companionable silence. The corridors of Sky One seemed surprisingly empty.
"So where is everyone?" Trek asked.
The old man shrugged.
"They'll all turn up when you want them."
Trek frowned, trying to work out what the old man meant.
"Listen kid. I know you're a bit confused at the moment but it'll all get clear in time."
"Thanks Grandpa," Trek answered.
And there it was. Grandpa. Trek shook his head, trying to clear his mind. He knew there was some reason why his grandfather couldn't possibly be here but at the moment he couldn't work it out.
They carried on walking into the garage. It was empty. Trek blinked in surprise. Even Plato was gone. He turned to ask the old man where everyone was and found that his grandfather had gone too. Trek turned in a slow circle. He was completely alone. His eyes narrowed as his mind processed what was going on around him. Slowly he began to walk towards the open loading bay door, hoping to find someone who could tell him what was going on.
Duke entered the situation room slowly. He dropped into his chair, letting his head rest against the back of his seat and closed his eyes. God he was tired. He'd hardly slept in three days. Three days of waiting; three days of hoping; three days of nothing.
He knew that Kyle and Jenny must be as tired as he was.
Then there was Erica.
Erica had avoided them all like the plague for the last three days. She'd been avoiding Trek as well. Duke knew that Kyle was angry at her. He felt that she was letting the team down. That her refusal to visit Trek showed a coldness and a lack of feeling that he didn't like.
Duke wasn't so sure. He had a feeling that Erica's apparent indifference was just a front. She always came across as unflappable but Duke believed that Erica simply hid her feelings so that no-one could see when she was hurt.
Erica and Trek spent a lot of time trading sarcastic insults. But they also had to work together far more closely than anyone else in the team. Duke had a feeling that they were much better friends than either of them would ever admit. He also thought that Erica was probably far more upset then she was willing to show. He made a mental note to find her and talk to her later.
Duke looked up as Kyle and Jenny entered the room deep in conversation. They took their seats around the table.
Kyle's eyes moved to Erica's empty seat and he frowned.
"Where is she?" he asked.
"I don't know," replied Duke, "but I'm sure she'll be here."
"Yeah right," he growled. "She's probably doin' her nails."
Before anyone could respond the door to the situation room opened and Erica walked in. Duke looked closely at her. Erica looked pale. Although her makeup was applied perfectly he could see rings forming under her eyes that spoke of sleepless nights. He sighed. Obviously Erica was taking this harder than she was admitting.
"Are you alright?" Duke asked.
"Of course," Erica answered brightly. "Never better."
Kyle's frown deepened.
"FLAG wants a status report," he stated.
Jenny shook her head.
"Well Trek's comatose, Plato's completely shut down, the vehicles are a mess and so are most of us," she said, emphasising the word most.
Duke leaned across to her.
"Everything's going to work out, Jenny," he rumbled. "I'm sure of it. We've all been in awkward situations before, and we've all come out of it alright in the end."
Jenny nodded and smiled weakly.
Kyle cleared his throat.
"I don't think we've got anything else to cover. Dismissed."
As the other three operatives filed passed him, Kyle reached out his hand and caught Erica's arm.
"I need to talk to you," he said.
Erica sighed and sat back down.
Erica sat on Kat staring moodily out across the desert. The light breeze ruffled her blonde hair but she hardly noticed, still stinging from Kyle's rebukes. She had become a team player. She really had. And she did care about Trek. They were friends, although she'd never admit that to anyone. Hell she was probably closer to him than anyone else on the team. But she couldn't go to see him. If she went in there and saw him and then he died… Erica closed her mind off from that possibility.
"I'm sorry I left my nerd to English dictionary at home."
"What kinda nut comes up with this kinda stuff?"
"Yeah I had nothin' to do with this one."
So many memories.
A couple of years ago Erica would never have believed that she would have been so worried, so hurt over a rich, annoying, geeky kid. Somehow the boy had wormed his way into her affection. She had sworn never to let anyone get close again. After her husband had betrayed her and she had been sent to prison, Erica had been very hurt. She had developed a shell, had found a way to keep people at arms length. But when she wasn't looking Trek had broken through her stonewall and in doing so had let the other members of the team in.
"We should go back," Kat said. "It's getting late and Kyle will be worried."
"I doubt that," Erica answered, remembering their last conversation. "But I guess we don't want Dante to have a fit."
"I told you we shouldn't go out. You have flagrantly broken at least four regulations," Kat stated.
"Whatever," Erica sighed.
Stepping out into the sunshine, Trek blinked and squinted his eyes against the bright light. He looked around. He knew this place… where was it again? Trek shook his head trying to remember.
"Beautiful ain't it?"
Trek wasn't even surprised to hear his grandfather's voice this time.
"Yeah," he said.
Looking around he saw the team with the vehicles over on the grass. Suddenly it came back to him. The park. This was the park in Blackrock, North Carolina where he'd lived for a couple of years. He turned to the left and saw her.
Annie. His Annie. Part of his mind was screaming at him now. Telling him that this couldn't be real; that Annie had been dead since a year before he'd joined TKR. She'd been killed in a stupid car accident. Her car had been hit by a drunk driver and he'd sat by her hospital bed as she'd died. Trek chose to ignore the rational part of his mind that was telling him this.
He walked over to her, drinking in the sight of her.
"Are you really here?" he asked.
"Don't you want me to be?" Annie laughed.
Trek noticed a pair of blue eyes peeping out from behind Annie's legs.
"Who's this?" he asked.
"Caitlin," Annie smiled. "Our daughter."
"Our daughter," he breathed.
Trek crouched down beside the little girl.
"Hi," he said.
Erica slipped through Sky One's corridors silently. It was late at night again and she couldn't sleep. For a while she wandered aimlessly with no purpose or destination in mind.
Eventually she stopped outside a door. Taking a deep breath she entered and stopped, looking around. Involuntarily she smiled. God Trek was messy. Every surface was covered in clothes, books, CDs, videos, pages of notes and strange, half-built inventions. Even the floor was covered. Erica remembered how horrified she and Duke had been when they'd tried to hide in here when Sky One had been hijacked.
"And… uh… Trek. No more dirty clothes in the situation room it's startin' to smell like your room."
Erica laughed at the memory. Kyle had been so exasperated. She ran her hand through her hair. The room smelled vaguely like popcorn. She made her way over to the bed and smoothed the pillow, allowing herself to cry openly for the first time.
After a while she wiped her eyes, stood up and walked back out through the door. Moving quickly and purposefully now, she moved through the corridors. Suddenly her communicator bleeped. Erica pressed a button.
"Yeah?" she said quietly.
"Erica, where on earth are you going at this time of night?" asked Dante in his clipped British tones.
"Just to see a friend," Erica answered.
"Oh," came the reply.
Coming to the door she wanted, Erica quietly slipped inside and sat down in the chair near the bed.
Trek was very pale and there were various tubes, wires and bits of machinery surrounding him. An IV slowly dripped into his arm. Erica gently brushed his hair back from his face, trying not to disturb any of the equipment. She noticed the white dressing that covered the wound on his temple.
"Hey nerdboy," she said quietly. "How are you doing?"
After a long pause she sighed.
"Well I guess this is gonna be a pretty one-sided conversation. Listen it'd be really nice if you could wake up right about now. Everything's such a mess. Plato won't respond to anyone and Kat's a mess without him. Beast's gonna do something nasty with one of his weapons if you don't wake up soon and all the other guys miss you."
Erica paused as more memories hit her.
"We all know how hard it is for a guy to break in to Erica's quarters."
"Come on! You know… undo a few buttons, stick your butt out and talk in that 1-900 number voice of yours… the stuff you always do.
"I don't always just use sex! I have an entire repertoire."
Erica sighed again.
"I miss you too," she said.
Kyle walked down the corridor to the infirmary and entered the room where Trek was. The first thing that caught his eye was the figure sleeping in the chair by the bed, her blonde hair draped across her face like a curtain.
"What the…?" he whispered.
"She's been there all night Kyle," Domino said quietly. "She only fell asleep about an hour ago."
Kyle looked down at Erica and smiled.
"Let her sleep," he said.
Quietly he left the room and went to get himself some breakfast.
Trek looked up from playing with his daughter. Caitlin was about three and absolutely delightful. She was incredibly bright and inquisitive with her mother's long black hair and his bright blue eyes.
He noticed his grandfather watching him and began to stand. Annie looked up at him.
"Don't worry. I'll be back soon," he said with a small smile.
Trek made his way over to the old man.
"Shall we go for a walk?" his grandfather asked.
Trek nodded and they walked in silence for a while. Eventually they stopped, leant on a small fence and looked back at the scene in front of them. Annie was playing dolls with Caitlin. She looked up, smiled and waved. Trek sighed.
"This isn't real, is it?" he asked sadly.
"No," answered his companion.
"Where are we really?"
"I suppose you could say that we're in a place you feel safe," came the answer. "Your mind needed a place to retreat for a while and this is it."
Trek nodded, his eyes narrowing as he tried to assimilate the information.
"Who are you?" he asked. "You can't really be my Grandpa 'cause he died when I was a kid."
"I'm part of your subconscious. The rational part that could cope with what happened and understands what's going on. The rest of you… us… went into shock and needed somewhere to hide for a while. Needed a soft place to fall"
Suddenly Trek heard a low buzzing noise. He shook his head trying to clear it.
"What the hell is that?" he asked.
"Your team-mates… friends… whatever you want to call them. They've been trying to reach you for days but you just weren't ready to hear them until now."
"Mmm," the old man answered. "Listen kid, you've got a decision to make. You can't stay here forever. You've either got to go back or move on. Where you move on to… well I guess that all depends on what you believe. You don't have to make the decision right away. Take your time and think about it. After all there's a lot riding on it."
Erica passed a weary hand across her eyes. It had been seven days since the explosion and in that time the young man in front of her had shown no sign of response. She knew the rest of the team had begun to give up hope and Plato's continued silence wasn't exactly helping. Everyone knew that the human/car symbiotic relationship was at its most efficient between Trek and Plato, and the fact that to all intents and purposes the bike seemed dead to the world did not instil everyone with a sense of hope. But Erica just wasn't ready to give up yet, wasn't willing to let her friend go.
She felt a pair of hands massaging her shoulders and looked up to see Kyle watching her compassionately. Erica gave him a weak smile which Kyle returned.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I was wrong."
Erica looked away.
"Erica, you need to get some sleep and something to eat," Kyle stated.
She shook her head.
Kyle shifted uncomfortably.
"I know we all miss Trek but I think we have to move on," he argued. "It's been a week and the doctor said he thinks Trek may not recover. We have to be ready to let him go just in case…"
"He's going to get better," Erica interrupted in a low voice.
"I know Kyle. I just can't give up hope yet."
"I know how you feel. Just promise me you'll go and get something to eat."
"Ok," Erica answered and smiled at Kyle.
Kyle smiled back and with one last squeeze of her shoulder left the room.
Erica turned back to the bed and picked up Trek's hand in both of hers. She started to gently stroke his hand.
"What's goin' on in that head of yours?" she asked sadly.
Trek stood at the small fence watching his wife and daughter playing in front of him. The buzzing sound was getting louder, distracting his attention. He felt the presence of his grandfather beside him.
"I don't think I can let her go again," he stated never taking his eyes off Annie.
His companion stayed silent.
"It'd be hard to go back wouldn't it?"
"I won't lie to you," answered the old man, "it wouldn't be easy. But then you already know that don't you? There's always some type of sacrifice involved in this sort of choice."
Trek looked across to where the team seemed to stand with the vehicles, deep in conversation.
"What would happen to them?" he asked.
"Don't know," answered his companion. "I'm just part of your subconscious remember. I can't tell the future any more than you can. But you know the dangers involved in their work."
Trek turned to regard his companion. He smiled.
"It's ok. I've made my decision," he said.
The old man returned his smile.
Trek closed his eyes as the scene began to fade to black around him.
Duke stood in the garage working through the inventory of Beast's equipment. Most of the mechanics seemed subdued, although one was moving around whistling happily to himself.
"What the…?" Gil's startled exclamation rang out across the garage.
"What's going on?" Duke asked, moving to Gil's side.
"I don't know," came the reply. "It just started."
Duke followed Gil's gaze to the screen behind Plato. A single light was blinking on and off rhythmically. It looked almost like a heartbeat.
"Does that mean what I think it does?" asked Duke with a growing sense of foreboding.
The first thing Trek was aware of when he opened his eyes was a blinding white light, so bright that it hurt his eyes. Then the world gradually began to drop back into focus. He lay still for a minute, listening to the hiss and bleep of machinery, before slowly turning his head to one side to take in more of his surroundings.
Erica was asleep in a chair to the side, her hair hanging in her eyes. As he watched she woke up, stretched with cat-like grace and opened her eyes. As she looked at him her eyes widened in surprise.
"Hey," Trek said, his voice sounding rough and weak to his own ears.
Erica's answering smile was like the sun coming up.
"Welcome home," she said.