Homecoming copyright S. Welsh 2001
To Elfin and Asp, for putting up with me during my first fic.





Homecoming
By Tomy


"Michael are you alright?" The soft voice pulled him out of his reverie.
"Yeah Kitt." The sigh came automatically with the answer.
"And you call me a fibber." Kitt prodded.
Michael couldn't help himself as he began laughing. "Okay, Okay, I'm a nervous wreck. I admit it." Michael turned serious again, "I've lied to them Kitt. For five years."
"It was for their own safety....even if they didn't realize it."
"I know." Michael adjusted his position in Kitt's cab before continuing.
"I've fantasized about this moment for so long, now that it's about to happen.... I don't know"
"They are your parents Michael. I'm not sure I understand your
trepidation."
"Kitt, do you remember when I lost my memory?"
"Unfortunately, yes." Came the dry answer. "What does that have to do with our current situation?"
"I remember looking in the mirror, seeing this face. The shock of it. How is my mother going to feel seeing me like this?"
"Are you afraid she won't like your appearance? Because I'm rather fond of it." Kitt admitted. Michael, touched by Kitt's words glanced from the road to the voice box. "Plus it seems to entice enough women."
"Thanks a lot! You know Kitt, sarcasm becomes you."
"Somehow, I don't believe that was meant as a compliment."

During the silence that ensued, Michael's mind drifted back to before the shooting, when life seemed much simpler. He enjoyed being a cop. His parents had been proud of him. But they had expressed time and time again, their concerns over the dangers of his job and his foolhardy approach to it.
How could they possibly accept his life now? If only he hadn't run into
Michael Long's best friend, then this whole chain of events would not have begun. How the hell John had recognized him? John had been so happy to see him, it had taken a few minutes and a quick explanation for him to get used to Michael's new appearance. John's astonishment lead him to a thousand questions. He wanted to know everything, from the day Michael left for the assignment in Nevada, right through to present day. And of course, why Michael hadn't let anyone know he was still alive. The answer of it being too dangerous was not acceptable. Michael's parents had been devastated.
Now his parents would be so happy to learn their youngest son was alive and well. There was no convincing John to keep his mouth shut.

So here he was, driving to the once very familiar home of his parents.
Trying to explain this to Devon had been another matter altogether. He had known what Devon's reaction would be, he was furious. Michael wasn't sure at who though.
Kitt was scared. No matter what facade Kitt was projecting, his silence and forced attempts at banter were a sure sign. His partner couldn't help but remember the outcome of his last dose of Michael Long.
In the end, there was little Devon or Kitt could do, but support
Michael's decision to go through with this.
John had happily set it up. Breaking the news to the Longs and
finalizing a date between Michael's assignments. Fortunately all John knew was that he was working for FLAG as a Freelance Investigator. Michael had given him little to no details. His parents deserved to know more. To know about his new family, he prayed they'd understand.
He looked at Kitt's dark voice panel, something he'd been doing often since this began. He would never leave FLAG. This was too ingrained in him now. Kitt, Kitt was his lifeline. The innocent partnership had grown too far to leave behind. He still mentally shied away from the deep feelings Kitt brought forth.
"Here goes nothing." Michael said to no one in particular as he pulled into the driveway. He took a deep calming breath before getting out.
"I'll be right here." Kitt's insecure voice tore at him as he reached for his jacket.
"Michael?"
He turned slowly to face his mother. "Hi mom." His voice gave out as emotions over whelmed him.
"It is you," wide eyed, she reached up to touch his cheek.
"Yeah, it is," was all he could manage before being engulfed in a hug. He fought the tears as his mother cried in his arms.
"Michael?" He lifted his head to see the tall pudgy form of his father walking from the house. "I guess some things never change?" He motioned to the Trans Am.
"I guess I have some explaining to do." Michael detangled himself from his mother.
"It would be nice." The relief and amusement could clearly be heard in his father's voice.
'They've aged.' Michael thought to himself as he sat in his favorite
wooden chair in the living room. His mother passed mugs of coffee around as Michael took in the room. It was exactly as he remembered. When he looked back at his parents, they were sitting, staring at him expectantly. He took a deep breath and began.
"Two days into the assignment in Nevada, I was shot. Tanya shot me in the face and left me for dead." Staring at his mug of coffee made this a little easier. "Wilton Knight picked me off the highway that night. They did the reconstructive surgery and a few weeks later, I woke up. I remember the old man telling me to keep fighting, I couldn't see anything because of the bandages, and the pain.." He shook his head, risking a glance at up.
They were perched together, supporting each other. It was a comforting
sight. "The bandages came off a few days later and I couldn't look at this face. I remember saying, 'it isn't me'. Months later I was still surprised when I looked in the mirror.
"I was determined to make the ones behind the shooting pay for what they had done to me, but I figured there was no way I could touch people like that. Wilton disagreed and explained his idea. He told me that Michael Long was legally dead and he gave me my new name. He told me on his deathbed that one man can make a difference. I didn't believe him at the time. I was still having flashbacks and nightmares."
"New name?" Michael's father interrupted.
"Knight, my name is now Michael Knight."
His mother gasped, they both looked mildly shocked.
"I understood his reasoning. Devon once said to me 'you have too many enemies in the real world.' This face, the new name and Kitt, gave me a way in.
"I spoke to Tanya a number of times before she realized who I was. It took two years for the man who originally ordered my death to find me. And he discovered me in the same manner John did. My height and voice. I think the Trans Am helped." He was smiling despite himself. The back doors the foundation offered him, he took for granted too often.
"Who's Kitt?" His father prodded, trying to be patient as his son's life was unfolded for him.
"Kitt," Michael nodded towards the car parked outside the bay window.
"Kitt?" Both parents asked in unison.
"The Knight Industries Two Thousand. The safest, fastest and most
expensive car in existence. He's an AI. Artificial Intelligence." Michael explained noting the blank expressions. "He has a mind of his own."
"He?" This one came from his mother.
"Yes, he."
"John mentioned you work for the Foundation For Law And Government?"
Michael laughed to himself, his father had just tactfully changed
subject.
"FLAG is a non-profit division of Knight Industries. It's funded by
Knight Industries and in return Kitt and I help people who have no where
else to turn."
"For example?"
Michael thought for a moment, "Stevie called me up a few years ago. The lead singer of their band had died. It looked like a drug overdose, but Stevie insisted he'd never used drugs. I went undercover as the new lead for the band. We discovered that Craig had been murdered. He stumbled onto the production company's use of video tapes to relay drug deliveries."
"Stevie knew?" Michael nodded his response to his father's question,
feeling the guilt return. "Where is she now?" Obviously he didn't see
Michael's expression.
"She's dead. She put herself between me and an assassin." Michael
couldn't stop the few tears this time.
"My God, you have been through a great deal."
"I've had help." Michael began composing himself again.
"What exactly is it you do now?" His mother asked tentatively
"I'm a freelance investigator."
"Which does what? Do you function like the FBI?"
He wasn't getting out of this one. "No, it's more complicated, more
intense."
"Intense? You mean dangerous." Michael only nodded. "And who backs you up?"
"Kitt mostly. The police are familiar with us and so are certain
members of the FBI." Why was he feeling like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar? No, he felt something much stronger and he didn't like it.
Neither Devon or Bonnie made him feel like this, not even in the beginning.
"So a computer backs you up?" The condescending tone caused a defiant streak in Michael.
"Kitt is *not* just a computer. I used to think so, but he's the best friend and partner I could ask for." Seeing the disbelieving eyes, he tried another avenue, "come out and meet him, then judge for yourself."
"Calm down please." His father interjected recognizing the tone and
stance of his son. "We are just trying to understand why you never
contacted us."
Michael sighed, realizing just how difficult this was on all sides.
"These people, the organizations FLAG protects people from, are those with ties in high places or money. Ones Devon likes to call 'above the law'. People who have checked my background, tailed me, done anything they could to try and gain any information that could be used against me. I am well known in the underground world. As it stands there are two people who are close to me and they were both a part of FLAG before I was. There is just too much at stake here."
"Does this mean this will be your only visit?" The question was voiced by his father, but came from the expression on his mother's face.
"I hope not." The simple reply won him a relieved smile from his mother.
Michael's comlink beeped twice. "Yeah Kitt?" Michael chuckled quietly in response to the startled faces in front of him.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but we are expected to rendezvous with the
semi in one hour."
"I hadn't forgotten." He turned to stand, "I need you both to
understand that I need to be where I am. I can't explain my partnership
with Kitt, but we have a bond. It goes past his programming and anything I've ever felt for a partner." He stopped, noting the expressions before him. 'Maybe they won't understand.'
"We'll see you out." Was the best Michael was going to get today.

Just as Michael was approaching Kitt, another car drove up and a
familiar tall figure, dressed in a police uniform, stepped out. "Well if it ain't my long lost brother?"
"I didn't expect to see you." Michael admitted as they embraced for a moment.
"Hmm, different face, same eyes. Tell me did that come with any
warranties? Then again they probably broke the mold. Wouldn't want to
repeat that mistake."
Michael rolled his eyes at his brother's teasing. "You haven't changed a bit Jay. Still trying to get a rise out of me?"
"It's just *so* worth it. Plus I have a few years to make up for. Nice car, you steal it?"
"You have no idea." Michael sat on Kitt's hood. Then to Kitt,
"introduce yourself."
"Mr. and Mrs. Long, I am the Knight Industries Two Thousand." Michael laughed as three jaws hit the ground. "You never mentioned you have a brother Michael?"
"I think I was trying to forget. Jay, Kitt is my partner, the best
anyone could have."
"Thank you," Kitt piped up, feeling better about the whole situation.
"How the hell can a talking car be a partner?" His brother still hadn't recovered his composure.
"Kitt is and AI. As far as we know the most advanced."
"So he has programmed responses?"
"Originally, just as he was configured to compliment me." There was no mistaking the rude noise that came from Kitt. Michael booted a tire in response. "But he learned through time and experience to make his own decisions and react as he feels appropriate. Shall I begin listing
capabilities?"
Jay leaned in through Kitt's open window. "Holy shit! Look at this
dash. Start listing. Do all these buttons have a function?"
"Of course." came the terse reply from Kitt.
"Kitt is capable of speeds exceeding 200 mph with ease. He is coated with a shell that makes him practically invulnerable."
"Bullet proof?"
"Bullet, bomb, missile,laser,heat and cold and a few other things Bonnie will never know about. He has scanning and tracking capabilities, blood and chemical analyzer."
"Is there a coffee pot too?" Michael's father asked as he leaned into the passenger window.
"I beg your pardon? Well Michael, at least I know you come by your
attributes honestly."
"Sarcasm being one of his greatest accomplishments."
"So how about a test drive?" Jason asked walking around the car.
"I'm sure Kitt would love to show off, but we have to be on our way."
"Will you be back?" The fear was still apparent in his mother's face.
Michael walked up to her and kissed her cheek. "bet on it." His
emotions reflected hers. Happy to be back, longing to reacquaint himself, but still believing that would never truly understand his lifestyle. And his partner, especially his feelings for his partner.


**


Bonnie was waiting for them as Kitt pulled into the semi.
"Hi Bon, what have you got for us?" Michael quickly got out of the car and out of her way as she began her routine check.
"We received an anonymous tip. You are to pick up a box at this address," she handed Michael a piece of paper. "You are to be there in exactly two hours."
"Sounds easy."
"I've heard that before," Kitt piped in.
"You really know how to make me feel good about an assignment."
"That makes me nervous."
"Children! I'm getting a headache already and you haven't been here more than five minutes."
"Sorry." Came the response in unison.
"We'll uh...get right on this. Can Kitt go?"
"Yes, get out of here."
Michael quickly climbed back into Kitt and exited the semi before either of them could get into any more trouble.



"I don't get it." Michael commented as he surveyed the landscape before him. "are you sure this is the right place?"
"I'm positive this is the correct location the informant instructed the drop would be." Kitt answered defensively.
Michael sighed, the two large warehouses at the end of a wide gravel
driveway were barely far enough apart to walk between. Other than the two strangely placed buildings, there was nothing. Fields as far as the eye could see. Michael stepped out of the car, "are you still picking up no movement?"
"Nothing."
"Something doesn't feel right here."
"I agree. The tip said the drop would be between the buildings." Kitt followed Michael's walking form closely, scanning the entire area over and over. Something was definitely amiss.
Michael stopped at the opening between the buildings. "There seems to be something on the ground halfway up. Can you pick up anything yet?"
"It's a cardboard box with varying types of paper and carbon inside."
"That's it. Any sign of other unfriendlies?"
"Nothing Michael."
"Okay, sing out if you see anything."
Kitt watched nervously as his friend began the short walk to the drop sight.
Michael took a deep breath, feeling a little claustrophobic in the
narrow space. His shoulders just about touched the buildings on either
side. He looked up, the buildings were tall, causing the pathway to be
dark, despite the afternoon sun.
Michael was just about at his target when he heard Kitt shout his
warning. Two men, well armed, appeared at the far entrance. He turned,
realizing with dread, just how far away Kitt was. All he could see of his partner was the madly tracking scanner as he made a mad dash for the car.
Bullets flew past him, one catching him in the leg. He stumbled, unable to keep his balance, he fell face down into the gravel.
As Michael picked himself up, he saw something flash past him from
Kitt's end. He heard a screech of pain from behind him as instinct kicked in and he dove over the car, then sliding into the already open driver's door.
"Michael are you injured?" Kitt's concerned tone brought his attention back. He looked at his leg.
"No, the bullet just grazed me. It stings, but once my
heart slows down enough to let me hear myself think, I'll be okay." Looking around Michael frowned, "where are they?"
"I don't know."
"What do you mean, you don't know?"
"I didn't detect them until they rounded the corner and, as soon as they retreated, I lost them again. My scanners aren't picking up any signs of life."
"Kitt.....what did you do?"
"When I saw you go down, with no cover, the only thing I could think to do was fire the laser. It knocked the gun right out of his hand."
Michael chuckled at his partner's ingenuity. "Good work Pal."
"What do you think you're doing?" Kitt locked the doors as he saw
Michael reach for the handle.
"I'm going to get that box."
"No you are not."
"And why not, pray tell?"
"Because I'm more than sure all you'll find in that box , if you make it that far, is a piece of paper with the word 'Sucker' written on it"
Michael got the point. "Still not sure of your scanners?" He made sure the question held no accusation.
"I'm sorry Michael. I just don't trust what I'm receiving."
"You think someone may be blocking the signal?"
"Interfering in some way."
"Okay, how about a drive around the buildings, see if we can pick up any clues?" Kitt fired the engine in response.
They found nothing. Three times around the building uncovered a few
sets of tire marks and bullet holes in the alleyway. Other than that, there was no sign anything had taken place.


**


"Hi Bonnie, did you have any luck finding where that tip came from?" Michael asked as he hopped out of Kitt in the semi.
Bonnie, who was sitting in her usual place in front of the computer shook her head, "nope, nothing. By the looks of things, it was sent through four different phone locations, two drop sights and who knows where before that."
Michael was impressed she'd traced it back that far and let it be known through his expression. "So in other words.."
"You were set up."
"By professionals. Okay, it's not the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last." Michael turned, seeing his partner he remembered, "Kitt was having scanning problems."
Bonnie's eyebrows rose, "I'll check 'em out."
"Thanks." Michael headed towards the front, getting himself a coffee and keeping out of Bonnie's way as the semi headed for home.


**


No one noticed the small person lurking around the hills of the estate. He had been given an assignment and a warning. The car could scan, the car could think and heaven help him if the car discovered what he was about to do.
So he watched and waited for two days. Observing the patterns around the building. Gathering information needed to complete his assignment. The car 'slept' in the garage by the R and D facility. The target slept in the house, on the second story. He watched the security measures. They were pitifully inadequate for the types of enemies these people encountered. He could easily follow the movements within any building.
'This is too easy,' he thought to himself as he positioned his gun. The house was dark, the garage was dark, they were all asleep, unsuspecting.
Sneering, the man looked through the high powered sights at his target, stretched out on the bed, completely vulnerable.
Just to be on the safe side, he took one more look around. His car was in easy reach. He'd driven the escape route a few times. Once he hit open road, he was in the clear. The car wouldn't be able to follow him. The car wouldn't even know he had been there.
He double checked the position of his favorite weapon, making sure of his target. Then he fired.
The reaction was immediate. Sheering metal, Kitt launched out of his garage toward the house, which was in total chaos.
"Michael?!" The cry that came from the Trans Am could be heard
throughout the property.
"I'm okay," came the shaky reply. Michael found himself on the floor beside his bed, where instinct had rolled him. His disbelieving eyes switching between the hole in the window, to the hole in the wall just above the headboard of his bed. He silently thanked whatever Guardian Angel was watching over him that night.
Devon burst into Michael's rooms, expecting the worst and was greatly relieved to see him standing, pulling on his clothes.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah. Did anyone see anything?" Michael was pulling on his boots.
"I don't believe so. Everyone had settled down for the night."
"Michael?" Bonnie ran in. It was obvious she had dressed hastily.
"I'm okay, he missed. Kitt and I are going to check it out."
"Are you sure that's wise?" The older man asked, clearly as distressed as Bonnie.
"I'm not about to sit around and wait for him to try again." Fear
turned to anger.
"Michael's right." Bonnie swallowed hard, seeing the hole in the wall. Michael nodded and exited to meet Kitt downstairs. "Plus he'll be safer in Kitt." She made sure Michael was out of earshot before speaking. "What are these people playing at?"
"I haven't a clue," Devon answered before escorting Bonnie from the room.

"Can you give me an approximate location of the shooter?" Michael
hadn't even closed the door behind him.
"From the trajectory of the bullet, before it hit the window, I'd have to say the north hills."
"Okay, let's go. Let's see if we can figure out who's
behind this one."
As they pulled into the area, Kitt began a full scan.
Kitt's silence was greatly disturbing his partner. "What?" Michael finally asked, knowing he wasn't going to like the answer.
"I've found a set of tire tracks, but they appear to be racing tires."
"Bald in other words."
"Correct."
"Where do they lead to?"
"Across the grass and onto the driveway."
"Then off property. Anyway to trace them?"
"I'm sorry Michael."
"Anything else?" Looking through the windshield, even with every one of Kitt's powerful lights on, there seemed to be nothing in the darkness to provide them with clues.
"I can't even find footprints." The anguish in Kitt's tone was
increasing.
"This is a change. Me calm and you freaking."
"I am not freaking, Michael. I just hate the fact that someone crept around our home and got close enough to take a shot at you."
"I'm not overly happy about that one either. But we are not going to be able to figure this one out if we can't think straight."
"You're right. For a change." Kitt couldn't help himself. He had been incredibly frightened when he heard the shot.
There was no mistaking that sound. Then the shattering glass. He knew exactly which room had been targeted. He felt Michael's vitals skyrocket, that was the only thing that maintained Kitt's sanity. He knew Michael was alive. Scared, but alive. He also knew Michael's reactions and his body still had not returned to it's normal, relaxed state. No matter what Michael was saying, Kitt knew his friend had been badly shaken by this attempt.
"Alright Smart Alec, let's head back. We can try again in the morning. Maybe the bullet will tell us something."
After informing Devon and Bonnie of their non-existent findings, then making sure everyone was settled back, Michael drove Kitt back to the garage.
Nothing was said between the two. Michael was still shocked. How could anyone have gotten this close? How much information did these people have on FLAG? Obviously a frighteningly large amount.
After parking the car, he took a quick look around. He had always felt safe at the estate. Now that was gone. There was only one truly safe place.
Kitt was mildly surprised when Michael reached for the seat adjuster
instead of the door. Then happily hummed his approval as Michael curled up in the seat before falling asleep. Kitt darkened the windows, and locked down before partially shutting down. He would keep and eye out and let nothing disturb the man sleeping inside.



*



"Has anyone seen Michael this morning?" Devon asked when he finally found Bonnie in the kitchen.
"By the looks of Kitt, I'd say he's still asleep." Breaking from her pancakes, she answered.
"What do you mean?"
"Kitt's locked down and his windows are dark."
"I'd say he had a pretty good scare last night."
"Umm, along with the rest of us." Bonnie had given up on being polite and spoke with her mouth full.
Devon chuckled to himself, they'd all come a long way. "Any news?"
"Nothing, again. The bullet didn't have a mark on it."
"Is that possible?" His voice was as close to a squeak as Devon's ever did.
"They found a slight dent from when it passed through the window, but no scoring from the rifle. Typical pattern for a homemade bullet."

Michael awoke to Kitt's still dark interior.
"Morning Michael."
"Morning Kitt. What time is it?" Michael stretched, finding himself a little sore from his roll off his bed.
"Eight fifteen am."
"I bet everyone's a little curious about where I am."
"Bonnie knows, she's already been in this morning."
"Well, we've got work to do. Let's take another look at our friend's hiding place."
"I'd hardly call him a friend."
"Funny," Michael commented as he started the engine.

Stopping the car a few feet away from the area they checked last night Michael asked Kitt to run another scan.
"I find nothing different from last night."
Michael frowned before climbing out of the car. He heard Kitt's unhappy grumble at him leaving the safety of the car, but he had to get some answers.
Walking a short distance he found the spot where the gunman had sat. Looking around, he noticed the lack of foot prints. There wasn't even a clear impression of where the person had been standing, or sitting for that matter. Sighing, ran his hand over the small patch of crumpled grass, then turned to the tire tracks. The path the vehicle had taken was clear until it hit the driveway. "Kitt, is there any sign of a leak, something that could give us an idea of what kind of vehicle it was, or where it went?" He heard the familiar sound of Kitt using the comlink, and pointing his watch towards the marks, he followed it from the road, to what appeared to be it's resting point.
"This is unusual, I can't find a trace of anything. If it weren't for the tyre prints, I'd swear there hadn't been anyone up here." Kitt's CPU was churning, there had to be something. All vehicles left some kind of mark behind. He couldn't even find exhaust residue on the grass.
"Okay, this is getting us no where. Let's see if Bonnie can up with anything.." Kitt popped the door as his friend reached the car.


"I'm sorry Michael, but I can't get any further than that."
Michael sighed, running his hand through his hair. "Thanks anyway Bonnie. I know you did everything you could."
Bonnie half smiled, apologies from Michael were few and far between. And she could understand the underlying stress that caused his outburst a few minutes before. Some one was trying *very* hard to kill him and they were close to succeeding. "Do you want this?" She held up the object of their discussion.
"Actually, yes. I may have another source."
"I guess I shouldn't ask?"
"Nope. Tell Devon I'll be gone for a day or two following a possible lead on this bullet." He refused to give her any time to argue as he turned and headed out.

"Where are we going?" Michael had been waiting for his partner's curiosity to get the better of him
"To see an old friend of mine."
"How old?" Kitt couldn't help the suspicion that rose in his voice.
"Before your time Pal, way before your time."
"I was afraid of that."

Eight hours later, they pulled into the base. "I'm looking for Dan Bracken." He asked the guard.
After confirming Michael's Foundation ID, he directed him to the house where he'd find who he was looking for. It was dark and the base was quiet. Michael's mind drifted back to his special operations days, when he had lived on a base similar to this.
"I'll be right back," he assured Kitt after parking.
"Long?" The familiar voice from behind him brought a smile to his face.
"Hey Bracken, long time no see." He confirmed himself before turning to face his once good friend.
"Hey man, what happened to you?"
"I decided I didn't like it and got a new one." Dan's smile made the crack worth while. "Care for a drive?"
"Where to?" Came the unsure answer. "You need something?"
"I would appreciate it if you could take a look at something for me? This won't take long."
"Is it clear?"
"Perfectly. By the way, the name's Knight now." As soon as Michael mentioned his name, his friend took a closer look at the car, eyes wide in expectation.
"Michael Knight?? You?? By any chance is this The Knight Industries Two Thousand?"
"The one and only. Had a feeling you'd know about us."
"Who in spec ops doesn't. I'd love one of these. How'd you end up in this gig?"
"Got shot in the face." Was the blunt answer as both men entered the car.
"I will assume that whatever brought you to me is to be kept under wraps?"
Michael nodded, steering the car away from the base to a find a quiet spot where they could talk. Kitt sensing what is partner was looking for, popped a map up on the screen with a location marked with the eta of 10 minutes under neath. Without thinking Michael thanked his partner, receiving a startled look from his passenger. "He's an AI. I figured you had all the info on us."
"Are you kidding? Finding *anything* on that project is damn near impossible. But I know when to keep my mouth shut."
"I figured." Michael stopped the car in the area that Kitt had specified. "Take a look at this for me," Michael placed the bullet in the other man's hand.
"Homemade. Where'd you get this?"
"In the hole above my bed."
Dan looked shocked. "They missed?"
"Triple paned windows, one of the few Foundation security measures."
"And just enough to save your life."
"Any specifics you could tell me would be greatly appreciated. This people have been harassing me for days now."
"Pains in the asses aren't they?" Michael's eyebrows rose as he chuckled. "Okay, it's definitely a special ops guy. Right out of the book." Dan turned the bullet over in his hands, inspecting it from every angle. Looking up in surprise as the light above him turned on by its self. Shaking his head, he continued, "I'd need to do a chemical analysis before I can tell you anything more."
"That's easy." Kitt opened the tray for Michael to place the bullet into. A few minutes later, he handed Dan the print out.
"Impressive."
"Thank you." Kitt's tone was cold, smiling slightly to himself as the blond man jumped in his seat.
"From this, I can tell you that it's European."
"Oh great."
"What does that mean Michael?"
"It means that there is little to no chance that we can ID this guy." Turning to Dan, he posed the hopeful question, "or has intel in that area increased substantially in that department?"
"Sorry man, I hate to say it but, no, if anything it's worse."
"Figures."
"Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but..."
"I get the hint. Drop you back to the same place?"
"Outside the base would be better. I want to keep this quiet as well. The less the men see the fewer questions."
"Right. If you need the favor returned," Michael handed him a card. "Here's were to reach me."
"Will do." Dan took one more look at Michael before stepping out of the car. The two men nodded at each other before Michael turned the car around and started for home.

"Where do you know him from Michael?"
"My special operations days." This was not a topic he wanted to get into with Kitt.
"Which means you killed people." Kitt's disdain was very clear.
"Kitt, I'm not proud of some of the things that I've done in my life. But that was a war and I believe that we saved a great many more lives by our actions." Michael sighed, hearing no response from his partner, he continued. "It's part of why I took Wilton up on his offer. This was a chance to make up for those sins. I was good at what I did and it's made us an unbeatable team." Still no acknowledgement. "Kitt please understand. I didn't enjoy it, not in any way. Those days still haunt me. I did what I was trained to do. They tried to train all humanity out of us. A target was whatever was holding a weapon at you, and you killed it. No questions, no remorse."
"I'm glad they failed in your case." Kitt's tone was very subdued, almost apologetic. "But I still don't fully understand."
"Neither do I."


For six hours the pair remained quiet. Kitt felt he had a great deal to take in. He had never figured on Michael having been involved in such actions before. It just didn't seem like the man he had grown to love. He began to realize just how much of Michael's life he didn't know about. Taking a quick look at his partner, he noticed the strained look on his face. He shouldn't have been so hard on him. He wasn't the same person. He'd proven that time and time again. No matter what the opportunity, Michael had *always* chosen to preserve life.
"Michael."
"Yeah Kitt?" Michael was expecting the worst. Kitt hadn't said a word to him for too long.
"I'm sorry for treating you as I did. I think this situation has me 'a little on edge' as you'd say."
Having been terribly worried about the outcome of their earlier conversation, Michael was more than willing to accept Kitt's apology. "I have no idea why you're apologizing to me, but I'll take it. Whatever it takes to have you talking to me again."
"I just realized that you are not that person anymore. In fact I find it difficult to associate that person with your personality now."
Michael smiled, "I think that's 'cause I left that person far behind when I met you. You showed me a whole new way of looking at things. A better way to deal with enemies. Your humanity has taught me to recognize my own."
"I'm not sure what to say?"
"You don't have to say anything right now. I think I'm going to make a pit stop though."
"After fifteen hours I should think so. There is a truck stop forty five minutes north of here."

"I'm just gonna grab a bite and a bathroom break." Michael commented before climbing out of the car.
"Be careful."
"What could happen in a busy restaurant in the middle of no-where?"
"Famous last words," came the dry reply as Michael reached for the
building door. He paused, looking back at the car briefly before entering.
He could understand Kitt's concern. This trip hadn't exactly been for the fun of it. Michael sighed, he wasn't really hungry,
but Kitt would get after him if he didn't eat.
Twenty minutes later, Michael was walking back out to Kitt. The morning was starting to break and he was tired. Kitt had notified him earlier that he had moved a few rows back to make room for a menagerie of elderly couples. Michael chuckled to himself as he saw them enter. Then it dawned on him that this was a good sign, Kitt saw them coming, his scanners were fully online.
Maybe that's why he didn't double check, or maybe the small amount of sleep in the past forty eight hours, but neither of the partners noticed the black car barreling around the corner until it was just about on top of Michael.
Kitt was one full row of cars away when Michael heard the revving
engine. He jumped, rolling into a parked car catching a glimpse of tire too close to his face. Quickly regaining his footing, Michael bolted for Kitt, who had gunned the engine and closed as much distance as possible.
The unknown car had swung around and was racing for them again. There was no time to get inside of Kitt.
Kitt watched, half in horror as his tired friend landed on his hood,
holding on tightly as the other car slammed into Kitt's front fender.
The assailant tried to back away for another shot, but the engine
stalled and refused to turn over. Michael, figuring it was safe, began to slide off Kitt's hood. Unable to see in the blacked out windows, Michael was mad enough to tear the guy out of the car and beat answers out of him.
"Mich..." Kitt's warning came too late. The car exploded, sending
Michael back across Kitt. "Michael?" Kitt's voice was panicky as he
scanned his partner.
"I'm okay, slightly singed around the edges, but okay. Any life signs?"
"None."
"Didn't think so. Did you get a plate number?"
"There weren't any."
"Why am I not surprised. They seem to have thought of everything."
"Michael, please get in." Kitt popped the door as Michael turned
towards him.
"Are you picking up something?"
"I'm not sure. The authorities are on their way, but I'd rather be safe than sorry."
"Are you alright Kitt? Any damage from the impact?"
"Not even a scratch. Just worried about you."
"Another night talking to the police." Michael settled comfortably
inside Kitt.
"Exactly, you need to rest."
"Did you inform Devon?"
"Yes, Michael. These attacks are becoming far to commonplace."
"Tell me about it." Michael dozed fitfully until Kitt informed him that the police were approaching. Michael waited until the last possible moment before hauling his now exhausted body out of the car.

"Michael, are you alright?" Devon asked as Michael entered is office
later that afternoon.
"Yeah, did you manage to get the police report?" Michael perched
himself on the edge of his bosses desk. His favorite spot, possibly because it annoyed Devon so much.
"It just arrived."
"And?"
Devon sighed, Michael's fuse was getting shorter. "And it looks very professional."
"I think I'm afraid to ask."
"The report states they found plastic explosives, most likely in the
steering wheel..."
"Attached to a detonation device in the horn, effectively destroying the body of the driver and most of the car." Michael finished for his boss. "I've heard of it before, but I'm not a world leader, these are terrorist tactics."
Devon watched as Michael began pacing the office. "I may have some good news." That stopped the pacing. "The reason Kitt didn't see the vehicle. It was coated in a radar absorbing paint."
"Great. Stealth cars. Well Kitt'll be glad to know he not
malfunctioning."


**


Bonnie had almost given up trying to locate Michael and Kitt when the homing signal began to respond. Now that she had found them, she wasn't liking the view a hundred yards away.
Kitt was parked on the sand, facing the water, just out of reach of the tide and Michael was lying on his back, arms crossed behind his head on his hood.
"Don't you think lying there is a little risky?" She asked angrilly as she walked up behind the black car.
Michael started, this had been the closest he'd been to sleep in three days. He calmed his temper before speaking. "It's safe. There are no hills or dunes for miles. The only way to reach us is from the road or the ocean. Kitt would be able to physically see anyone approaching long before I was in range. I *did* think about this." He turned an angry stare at his co worker, "I'm not ready to die just yet." With that he turned his head back into his crossed arms and closed his eyes.
"Look, I'm sorry to disturb you, but Devon asked me to find you, since Kitt wouldn't respond to any calls, I came out looking for you. You're needed back at the estate."
"Why?"
"Something has come up."
Michael, realizing that this was all the information he was going to get rolled off his spot with an exasperated sigh and climbed into the car.

"I'm sorry for not answering Bonnie's calls, but...."
"Hey, don't worry about it. I appreciate what you did. It's the most relaxed I've felt in a few days. I think you're going to end up getting an earful when we get back though." He did feel a little better after this break. He and Kitt had searched high and low for someplace fairly safe. The beach had always been a favorite and lying on Kitt's warm hood, letting his mind go blank, if even for a few minutes, did the trick. Now life was staring him in the face again and he had a bad feeling.

"Devon..." Michael froze as he noticed his rather disheveled parents standing off to the side in his boss's office. "Mom, Dad?" His mother came to him, hugging him.
From behind him, Devons voice filled him in, "they were involved in a house fire a few hours ago. No one was hurt, but a great deal of property damage occurred as a result." The older man as unable to believe the jealousy that was assaulting him as he watched Michael with is parents.
"Has anyone looked into it?" Michael asked, turning from his mother.
"Not as yet." Knowing exactly where this was leading, he tried to postpone Michael leaving for a moment, feeling a little possessive. "We've been keeping tabs on them since you first went to see them, just as you asked."
"Who discovered the fire?"
"They did," Devon motioned to the couple now sitting across the office. "The 911 call alerted Bonnie. She went to pick them up."
"Oh boy, you've been talking to Bonnie? What horrible things did she say about me this time?" Michael turned with a knowingly sheepish look on his face.
"Something about you constantly damaging her baby." Devon began to realize where Michael picked up his bantering skills.
"I'm never going to live this down am I?" Michael turned back to Devon, "do they have somewhere to stay?"
"Bonnie's going about fixing a suite for them." He smiled, knowing Michael would do the same for him.
"I'm on my way then."
"Michael, be careful, we don't know what triggered the fire."
"Understood, I'll have Kitt do a full scan before I even get out of the car." He nodded towards his parents before leaving.

"Is this what he's like now?" Dorothy, Michael's mother, asked of Devon after she heard the engine start outside.
"Typically yes, why?"
"I just want to know my son again. Can you understand that? "
"I understand you not wanting to lose him again." The Englishman read into her thoughts, surprising her into silence.

"I detect nothing unusual," Kitt spoke up as they stopped the car in front of the charred framework of what once was a house.
"Is it structurally sound?"
"I believe so, I'll keep scanning through your comlink as you move through the building."
"Let me know if you pick up anything that might have started this."
"Will do, Michael." Kitt watched as his friend slowly entered what was left of the building. Following Michael he began a thorough scan. "Michael, I'm picking up traces of natural gas."
"From downstairs?"
"I'm not sure, why do you ask?"
"The furnace is natural gas powered. I'll head down there. Is the structure still holding?"
"I wouldn't recommend making any loud noises or start jumping jacks, otherwise I believe you're safe."
"Believe? Oh, that gives me such a feeling of confidence here."
"I've picked up something." Michael had just reached the bottom of the stairs when Kitts voice came over the comlink. There was very little left for any kind of recognition.
"The fire must have started here. I can barely tell where anything was."
"Move towards your right, to what seems to be the intake for the furnace." Michael did as he was asked, sweeping the watch over the bottom section of the metal casing.
"What are you picking up?"
"Remains of plastic, rubber, chemicals left after an intense fire, I won't confuse you with the technical names. Traces of bubble gum.."
"Whoa, wait a minute, can you tell how long that gum's been there?"
"It's fairly recent from the lack of decay, that would show up even after the fire."
"Look for traces of cellulose."
"There is a small amount, overlapping the gum. What are you thinking?"
Michael stood, angry at what he'd just learned. "It's an old trick. Cellulose, gunpowder and paper. It makes a wonderful incendiary device. You use the gum to stick it to wherever you want to start the fire. It's usually untraceable. But I know that no one in this house chews gum."
"So this was deliberate."
"Yes. Someone is following us Kitt."
"That is not a comforting feeling."
"Have you picked up anything else? Maybe look for the same compounds?"
"Nothing," came the response a few seconds later.
"So they most likely weren't out to kill them."
"Is this what they refer to as scare tactics?"
"Yes, but directed at who Kitt? Them or us?"


**


Michael watched as his parents walked along the reflecting pool. Hearing the familiar engine behind him, he hopped up onto the hood. Sitting in the middle with his legs crossed, his elbows on his knees and his chin in his left palm, he continued to watch, lost in his own world.
"What's on your mind Michael?"
"I'm thinking."
"About?"
With a smile, Michael responded without lifting his head from his hand, "you said the other day that you were trying to equate who I was before with who I am now. I guess I'm trying to equate my life before to my life now."
"How so?"
"Look at them," his parents were standing arm in arm, obviously still in love, enjoying the beautiful grounds, oblivious to the goings on around them. "That was what I used to want."
"And it isn't now?"
"No," Michael's immediate answer surprised himself. "It's no where near what I want now. I...I love where I am. The connection we have. If I were to become involved with someone, I'd have to share you and I don't think I could share you."
"Dealing with this situation has been difficult for me in many aspects. Especially at this juncture in out lives. But seeing you interact with them, realizing the impact this is having, I realized.....I don't want to share you either."
Michael's head snapped around to look inside at the dark voice modulator. The deep feelings he'd been trying to hide for Kitt were suddenly at the forefront of his soul. He'd never thought about the impact introducing his parents to Kitt would have. He'd failed to consider his best friend's feelings. And that disturbed him, that he'd been so self absorbed.
"Michael," Devon realized he was interrupting an intimate moment between the partners and hated to intrude. "Jason is here."
Jason had not failed to notice the look on his brother's face. He'd never seen that expression before. He began to wonder just what the hell he was doing. Sighing quietly, Michael slid off the warm hood to join Devon and his brother. The Longs, having heard Devon's call had made their way over as well. They had been watching Michael for a few minutes and were greatly disturbed by his actions. Passing the Trans Am, they simultaneously threw evil looks at the car. Kitt shrunk inside. 'I am going to lose him and there is nothing I can do about it.' Discontented, he watched as the group walked away.
"What have you done?" The only female spoke up when she believed they were far enough away from the car.
"Excuse me?" Devon replied to the nasty question before anyone else could.
Ignoring the surprised reactions, Dorothy continued, her blue eyes ablaze, "teaming my son with that machine. It's not natural."
"Do I get a say in this?" Michael was trying to keep his temper in check. She was treating him like he was a child. He glanced disbelieving from his mother to the man he respected most in his life.
"How can you? You where thrown into this. That.. That machine..."
"Is my best friend." He finished before she could continue her tirade. "What is it about me you can't approve of? Why can't you accept my decisions?"
"Have you're decisions considered what you're going to do after all this??" Michael dropped his eyes guiltily. "I see. What about your own needs, starting your own family? You certainly left this one behind in a hurry." Eyes wide with shock and hurt, Michael turned away before something else was said that he'd regret. Walking towards the woodland, he hoped to dispell the gloom that had suddenly surrounded him.
Devon was shocked beyond words. He had never imagined anyone speaking to Michael in such a manner. He wasn't too surprised to see the black car roll up behind them.
"How could you do that to your own son?" Kitt had listened in, getting angrier and angrier as his driver's stance changed from the self confident man Kitt knew, to the badly stung and shaken person who had walked beyond the tree line.
"Do what? Keep our son from making another life ending decision?? I can't believe I'm talking to a machine." She finally turned to face the car.
Kitt's scanner was tracking madly from side to side. He'd never felt rage like this before. These people were supposed to care for Michael, not shoot him down "You're tearing him apart. What is it about his lifestyle you cannot approve of?"
"You!"
The car visibly reacted backwards before Kitt gunned the engine and tore off across the grass.
Turning to the small woman Devon let his feelings show, "you have just stricken the two most loving and trusting personalities I've ever known. Maybe it's time for you to consider your son's wishes before you speak to him again." Dismissing them, he left to gain some control over his own temper.

"Michael?" Michael barley heard the call through his comlink.
"Kitt," he found his own voice lacking.
"Please meet me at the road."
Michael looked up through the trees to see his partner waiting for him.
"It's no use Kitt. It seems like everyone is out to get me." Michael literally fell into his car.
"I didn't expect your parents to reject us both."
Michael frowned, not understanding Kitt's statement. "What do you mean 'us both'?"
"After you walked off....They claimed the reason they couldn't accept your life, was me."
His jaw dropped. "Ohh Kitt, I'm so sorry for all of this." He dropped his head to the dash, closing his eyes, not wanting his partner to see just how badly this was affecting him.


**


Michael spent the rest of the afternoon and night with Kitt. They had parked in the garage at nightfall. Bonnie had come in once, seeing Michael, the far away expression, she decided leaving them alone would be the best course of action. Kitt wasn't sure if Michael had seen her. He just kept staring off into space.
"Michael, you need to sleep."
"I can't Pal. My mind won't slow down enough to let me."

In the early hours of the morning, Michael started the car and drove back to the beach.
"I'm gonna take a walk Kitt. I just need some time."
"But..."
"Please Kitt. I need to deal with this and I'm not getting anywhere at the moment. I won't go far. I'm depressed, not suicidal." His attempt at humor failed miserably.
"I'll tell Bonnie where we are."
Michael nodded before closing the door.


Kitt did not like this.
As soon as he notified Bonnie of their whereabouts, she had come with the semi. Kitt needed some work, he knew, but Michael....
If only they could find some kind of lead, something to lead them in the right direction. Something to stop the attempts on Michael's life and possibly show his parents what a great team they were together. He *was* losing Michael. Slowly but surely in the past thirty six hours he'd watched Michael retreat more and more into himself.
He conducted his quick scan of the area, as he had been doing every five minutes. The view from Michael's comlink showed he was still walking a fair distance away. Scanners showed no life signs in the area other than Bonnie, Michael and the semi driver. Kitt wished he wasn't cooped up in the semi, he couldn't keep an eye on Michael like this.
Michael was just too tired and emotionally strung. Even when he could doze off, his mind was too active to allow full unconsciousness.
Kitt jumped inside his CPU, Michael's vitals had skyrocketed. He quickly ran a scan through the comlink.
"Jesus, God no!" Before Bonnie could turn around Kitt had fired out of the semi and spun off through the sand. She walked to the edge of the ramp with a feeling of dread, she had never heard Kitt swear before. What she saw, on the concrete roadway made her knees give way.

"Hello Michael."
"Hello Tanya." Michael was doing everything in his power to not show the fear causing his body to remain rigid while being faced by this woman, again with a gun in his face.
"Stop right there." She never took her eyes off Michael as the black car approached.
"How is this possible?" Kitt voiced the question that was running
though Michael's brain.
"He isn't the only one who can survive a gunshot wound. But I chose to keep my natural assets." Her eyes flickered to Kitt. "I said not
another inch or I'll shot him. You know I can."
"If you do, the only thing between you and my wheels will be gone."
"I've learned about you K.I.T.T.. I know you can't take a human life. But I can." The malicious smile on her face sent chills down Michael's spine.
Kitt took in Michael's vitals, his stance. Everything that said he was terrified. Just as Kitt was. His thoughts of losing Michael sprang forward. But he couldn't let this happen, not by the
woman who had brought them together. But she could, and she might. "You don't seem to realize the conviction of my threat." Kitt's voice had taken on a frightening tone. One Michael had never heard before. "You wouldn't be the first to die under my wheels."
This brought a small glimpse of fear into her.
"Now, now my Dear. Don't you think you've had enough for one day?"
Michael's eyes snapped from where they had been locked on Tanya to the man now behind her.
"But Cameron, I do enjoy watching a grown man die."
"Not today." With that he calmly turned around and lead her to the
waiting limo before driving off.
Michael's body gave out on him. Kitt was just fast enough to catch his friend as his legs collapsed.
"Michael?" It was more of a plea for forgiveness.
"Would you? Really Kitt, is it possible?" Michael's voice was full of emotion. Kitt just wasn't sure what kind.
"I think so, under the circumstances I could have, I would have. If she had killed you, there would be nothing left..." Kitt trailed off, not wanting to continue down that train of thought. It hadn't happened.
Michael was sitting, trembling badly in his hood. Kitt prayed he hadn't
just crossed the line.
Michael stood. Hearing Kitt's whimper, he slowly made his way to the
door. Kitt popped it, hoping his friend would get in.
Michael fell into the seat. "Thank you."
"For what?"
"For standing behind me, and letting me know that you do feel as I do. My life would also end if yours did." With that, Michael placed his head on Kitt's steering wheel, finally letting exhaustion claim him, knowing he was safe.


**



"I'm trying desperately to figure out whether that was an impatient slip up or just a sick idea of a way to scare the shit out of me?" Michael's anger had risen dramatically over the past few hours. Kitt had driven home while Michael recovered from Tanya's sudden appearance. He hadn't slept more than a quarter of an hour. He spent the time trying to calm his nerves and figure out how this could have come about. Cameron Zachary was supposed to be spending his life in prison, and Tanya was thought to be dead. But he had never confirmed it. Kitt had driven off, both of them assuming that episode of their lives was closed. Even the quick shower hadn't helped him to relax.
"Michael please," Devon's tone said a great deal. Michael stopped pacing to perch himself on the desk again. He looked up at the man he considered a father figure. More so than his own. He couldn't keep up the illusion of cocky anger when Devon looked at him like that.
"How do you do that?"
"Do what?"
"Break through whatever barriers I try to put up. Like Kitt I can't hide anything from you." He paused looking from the floor into the older man's eyes. He imagined that if Kitt had eyes, he'd look at him in a similar fashion.
Devon placed his hand on top of Michael's, where it rested on his knee. "We may not have started out on the right foot, but...." The older man struggled with his emotions, not knowing how to voice them.
"You don't have to say it, I know it anyway." They shared a quick smile.
"Your parents are adding to this problem. I hate to bring this up."
"I know they are. I'm just not sure how to handle them. I wanted so much to have part of that life back. To let them into my life now. To know *me*. "
"They will never accept this way of life." Devon paused, afraid of the possible answer to his next question, "You have to decide what is important to you. Please know that whatever you choose, I'll stand by your decision."
Michael was almost in tears. "I could never leave this. Here, with this family is the most content I've felt in my life."
He could hear the Englishman release the breath he had been holding. Michael had faced him straight on as he spoke. The four of them were a family, a very close knit one at that. Hearing Michael say it was something he needed.
"Good, I'm glad to hear it," was the best way he could voice his feelings. "Do you have anything in the works?"
"Kitt's looking into Zachary's prison records, trying to find out why he's on the loose. I believe Tanya, she's most likely been hiding behind Zachary's wealth, waiting for the right opportunity. I also believe my parents are still in danger, but, they don't seem to have connected Jay to me."
"Or they don't care. Either way it's one less worry. We have been keeping tabs on him as well."
"I figured. This also explains how he could avoid Kitt's scanners and know where to send his people. He has the contacts to buy or produce whatever he needs to block Kitt's signals."
"He conceivably still wants Kitt."
"And me dead. I still can't figure out why. Why now? Why this elaborate scheme? And just where is he getting all his information from?"
"He seems to know your every move doesn't he?" Devon had walked over towards the window, deep in thought.
"Could there be a leak here?"
"Inside the Foundation?" Devon was appalled at the idea, but, "possibly, I'll have Bonnie run another 'routine' check on all employees."
Michael moved towards Devon, "Thank you, I needed to talk about this."
"As did I," he gently squeezed Michael's shoulder, one of the few ways he physically expressed himself.
"I'm going to go for a drive. Maybe Kitt and I can sort through this a little more."
"If anyone can, you two will." A smile passed between them before Michael left to find his partner. He did feel better, emotionally. The groundwork they had established over the years was reaffirmed and held strong. Bonnie's anger and concern and Devon's open display of emotion said everything. Things began to fall into perspective as he approached the black car waiting just outside. He paused in front of Kitt's hood, watching the scanner track back and forth, knowing Kitt was watching him and waiting. A feeling of contentment filled him and he smiled, the first real one in days. Kitt's scanner band lit up fully seeing this smile and a touch of relief surged through his CPU. They were a long way from passed this, but the wounds were beginning to heal.

About half an hour out along their drive, something hit Michael. "Kitt, access Jason's bank account?"
"Of course, care to tell me why?"
"Just check it please." Michael's voice held a hint of foreboding. Something Kitt rarely heard from his driver.
The information came back and Kitt flipped inside his CPU. How was he going to tell Michael this.
"It's true isn't it? His account has increased substantially."
Kitt hated how well Michael could read him sometimes. "The balance of the account has increased over two million dollars in recent months." Kitt's tone held a hint of an apology.
His own brother? He'd never experienced an emotion like this, like his own brain couldn't wrap around this idea. Tears filled his eyes.
"Michael?" The tentative voice brought him out of his downfall.
Blinking back the tears, he let his partner into his thoughts. "I, I can't believe Jason is behind even a part of this. I always believed in family first. How could he....."
"Betrayal to this degree is beyond me as well. But, you do have a family, though maybe not in blood."
"Micro chips are thicker than water, huh?"
"I wasn't necessarily referring to myself."
Michael picked up on Kitt's tone immediately. "Kitt, I'm not sure what exactly Wilton had in mind when he brought us together, but, there is no one who knows me better than you. You are my family, more so than Devon or Bonnie. This whole incident has made me realize a few things, not only about myself, but about those I depend on."
"Such as?"
Michael couldn't prevent the quick smile at Kitt's fishing. "The fact that I can't leave this. It's what I was meant to do. Also my feelings towards Bonnie and Devon. This isn't a job anymore. I'm not sure it ever was." He glanced towards the familiar dash, "I could never leave you."
Kitt was taken aback, "I'm not sure what to say." After a brief pause, Kitt continued. "My information on Wilton Knight expresses only a working relationship, not what we have."
Michael had been paying more and more attention to the voice modulator as Kitt spoke. Especially as his tone changed to almost an embarrassed softness.
"I'm not ashamed of you, nor of what we have. Don't let anything my parents say make you think anything different. You have shown me time and time that you are always behind me. To know that *we* can make it through just about anything that is thrown our way. And I believe that is the only thing holding me together right about now. Did you have any luck in finding out how Zachary managed to get his butt out of prison??"
"As a matter of fact, I believe I just might have." Kitt mentally
smiled at Michael's amazed reaction. "According to prison records, Zachary's lawyer found a loophole in one of the cases. The judge then dismissed all charges citing a mistrial."
"In other words, he was bought."
"Most likely, and Michael, I have more...."
It was a warning, Michael knew. He took a deep breath, preparing himself for whatever Kitt was about to tell him. He nodded, knowing his partner was watching and waiting.
"Jason Long was in charge of that prison."
Michael closed his eyes as disbelief washed over him. He heard Kitt take over the car and brought his hands to his face, struggling for control. "How deep does this go? My God, what is this gonna do to Mom and Dad?"
"How about we concentrate on getting Zachary back behind
bars and keeping you safe until then?"
"Rational thinking, keep my mind on the job and all that?" Michael
queried.
"If I were to hazard a guess at this whole scheme, I would have to say that they are hoping for your emotional state to interfere with your judgment. They've been threatening you and your parents. It all came to a head with Tanya and Zachary showing themselves and now the discovery of Zachary involving Jason...."
"It throw's a whole new wrench into the works." Michael finished for Kitt, realization written all over his face. "You're right, and if I let my emotions get the better of me..."
"You'll end up dead. And after everything we've said to each other over the past few days, I don't believe I could handle that eventuality."
"These guys are good, but you and me Kitt, we're better." Michael
rubbed his fingers along the dash a few times before hitting the 'manual' button and continuing the drive back to the mansion.


**

"Michael, have you discovered anything?" Devon asked in way of greeting.
Leaning on the edge of Devon's desk, Michael filled him in, "Kitt found a connection between Zachary.... and my brother."
"Your brother?" Bonnie half squeaked, catching the last portion of the conversation. Michael nodded, unable to take his eyes off the floor.
"I'm sorry, I had no idea." She rubbed his arms, hoping to comfort him.
"This is a rather large development."
"I know. I was wondering why he hadn't been targeted, that was what lead me to ask Kitt to do a check on his bank account."
"I take it, it has increased?"
"By two million dollars." This was beginning to overwhelm him again. "Look, I need some time." Michael excused himself. Head hanging, he walked from the office, only slightly aware of his friends concerned eyes.
Feeling defeated, he walked to the only one he felt could ease his burden. Michael stopped in front of Kitt, who was still parked just out of sight of the mansion. Sitting himself with his legs crossed under Kitt's prow, he folded his arms on the bumper, resting his head against the scanner track. Hearing the gentle sweep of the LED's had always comforted him.
"How can I help?"
"You already are," came the honest answer. Michael refused to move, for once not caring who saw his needy display. "I need to figure a way out of this mess."
"We."
"We." Michael conceded, smiling against his arms.
"I'd assume he still has his old contacts."
"And then some I'm sure."
"Michael, can I ask a favor?"
"Umm?"
Kitt smiled to himself, relishing the closeness of his friend. It was rare for Michael to be this open with his affection, or his need for that matter. "Please stay close so I can protect you?" Kitt had meant it to come out as a question, but it sounded more like he was begging.
Michael's fingers followed the sweeping light before answering, "I was kinda planning on it. They have managed to get too close."
"Maybe we should lay low for awhile?" Kitt wanted nothing more than to keep Michael out of the line of fire. The memory of Tanya holding a gun on his best friend was too vivid. Sometimes he cursed his perfect memory.
"No," came the muffled response. "Running away won't help, it may postpone, but they would find a way. They know the people close to us. I'd rather be close by if they try for Bonnie, Devon or my folks. I have to believe that Jay would try to keep them safe, but I'm just not sure anymore."
Kitt could hear the distress rising again in his partner. He had never before seen him like this, not even after Stevie's death. But then, there were leads to follow. This time, after every attempt on Michael's life, there had been nothing. The men behind this were expertly through. Making sure all evidence or witnesses disappeared or was destroyed.
"They are watching us." Kitt announced, suddenly realizing their schemes.
Michael raised his head, "What?"
"Before each attempt on your life, you had put some distance between us. None of the attacks occurred while you were within my reach."
"Come to think of it, you didn't pick up anything before each attack."
"Scanning difficulties?" Bonnie asked having finally located the two and happily distracted herself from the almost intimate connection between them.
"Yes, and each presented a different set of circumstances to be dissimilar enough not to show a connection."
"Can you pinpoint a cause for the scanner disruption?" Bonnie's brain was 'all business', but her heart noticed Michael's defeatist body language. He was almost cuddled into Kitt, and it hurt to see him like this.
"Unfortunately I'm unable to find the cause. It may be a blocking device."
Kitt sounded concerned too. Bonnie knew he would refuse to budge until Michael stood. "Okay, I'll see what I can do to try to boost the scanner."
"Thank you." Bonnie turned to Michael. She hadn't expected a response from him. The look in his eyes.....She found herself on her knees, hugging Michael's head to her chest. He circled one arm around her, unwilling to break contact with Kitt. Bonnie placed a hand on Kitt's hood beside Michael's, feeling the car tremble slightly.
Devon smiled at the scene across the lawn from him. It was something he needed to see after the physical and emotional violence of the past weeks.
He turned taking one last look at the trio, before walking away.


**


Jason had been completely caught off guard as his brother sped into the underground parking lot and angrily shoved him towards the car.
"Get in."
"What?"
"Get in." Michael roughly thrust his brother into the car before vaulting over the roof and peeling away from the police station.
Jason reached for the door handle and was met by a mild shock from Kitt. Angry now, he faced the person driving the car. "You're not the man you used to be."
"Damn right I'm not. What the hell did you think you were getting into?" Michael kept glancing from the road to his brother.
"They said they wanted the car." Jay was slightly taken aback by his brother's fury.
"And you believed them?"
"Of course I believed them," came the defensive answer.
"Jesus Christ, Jay, haven't you been in this business long enough to know what the scores are? How much did he offer you?" Michael's voice kept rising.
"Two million and she actually made the offer."
Coldly, Michael faced his brother, "do you realize that 'she' is the woman who shot me in the first place?"
The surprised reaction was mildly satisfying. "No I didn't. Look man, I had no idea."
"Of course not." He retorted bitterly, "didn't you do your homework before you got involved? My God Jay, you couldn't have needed the money?"
"No, I don't *need* the money. But I wanted out." he finished quickly.
"If you knew about me, why not contact me? I might have been able to help without endangering everyone close to us."
"They wouldn't go after Mom and Dad." He was so sure of himself.
"They already have." Another mildly satisfying reaction.
"But..."
"When did you become so naive? You were good Jay. You played by the rules, your investigative capabilities..."
"Were always outdone by yours." He spat back, full of resentment.
Michael roughly pulled the car over, allowing him to face Jason straight on. "Please don't tell me this arose from jealousy?"
"Maybe, look at you Mike. You've got it all."
"You really think so?" Michael couldn't believe this.
"Fast car, all the resources you could imagine and all the money you want."
Michael sat back in his seat, taking a deep breath, "It's not that simple. My life is complicated to the extreme."
"I know the dangers Mike."
"What about the down sides?"
"Like there are any?"
"Like the people you're dealing with shot me in the face and left me for dead!" He pounded the steering wheel in frustration. "What about my wife being murdered in front of me on our wedding day. How's that for starters?"
"Stevie?" Eyebrows rose, voice a shocked whisper.
"Yes, Stevie."
"Oh, Jesus, Mike....I had no idea that....... I really screwed this one up." Michael watched his brother stammer, as the full impact of his actions hit him. "How do we rectify this?"
"I'm not sure," came the slow answer. Anger fading, he began to think again. "Did they want anything else?"
"Information." At least he was cooperating now. "They wanted to know where you were, what you were doing. That was fairly easy, especially once Mom and Dad moved into FLAG."
"So you're the leak." He literally jumped at the man in the passenger seat.
"I guess so." The reply was like that of a small child.
"Do you have an address or a phone number where you could reach them?"
"No, she calls me at work at the same time every few days."
"Kitt can you trace that call?"
"The approximate time of the call would substantially narrow the search."
Michael cast a fiery look at his brother when the answer didn't come immediately.
"Ohm, ten am. The last call was two days ago." Jason shrunk into his seat.
"Before Tanya showed herself."
"I wonder if they figure we made the connection from their appearance?" Kitt reasoned
"Maybe, but I have a gut feeling we are not out of this yet."
"I intensely dislike your 'gut feelings'."
"Why?" Michael smirked as he directed the car back onto the road.
"Because they are usually correct."



Once back at FLAG, Michael dragged his brother into Devon's office, "I found our leak." Walking past a chair, he dropped Jay into it.
"Jason?" Amidst Devon's surprise, there was a small part of him that felt sorry for Jason. Devon had witnessed Michael's capacity for anger.
The curly blond head just nodded,staring at the carpet.
"Alright then, tell me how this began." Devon sat behind his desk while Michael took his usual perch, arms crossed in front of his chest. Anger and frustration clearly visible in his posture.
"I was working for the prison system at the time. It was a change I thought I wanted and if not a way to gain experience to move up my status in the police force. I had come up the ranks and was in charge of a cell block. During that time I met Zachary. He seemed friendly enough. I knew not to give any information away, but he began to tell me about the Foundation. I guess he had already figured out who I was. When he told me about you Mike, I was so mad. I felt like you had deliberately left us behind for this better life. He told me about the 'miracle car'. A bunch of Kitt's functions. He also said that I had been in line for your job. That if it hadn't been for your being at the right place at the right time, I'd be here."
"Not as far as I know." Devon interrupted harshly. "Michael was the only candidate for Kitt."
Michael was steaming inside, "did you set John up for the meet?"
"Yes. I found a few friends who worked regularly with you and they gave me all the information I needed to have John accidentally bump into you. I swear they just said they wanted the car. That you'd offered it to them at one point. But you'd never come to an agreement."
"So they were going to obtain it the old fashioned way." Michael snorted at his boss's sarcasm.
"They wanted to steal it, yes."
"They used you Jay. They want the car and my death on top of it all." Exhaustion was beginning to claim Michael again. His body slumped as he tried to find a way beyond the whirlwind in his head.
"They never said anything about wanting you dead."
"Of course not." Devon stood, seeing Michael's energy dwindle, he wanted to complete this conversation as quickly as possible. "Tanya Walker was working for Zachary five years ago. He was the one who gave the order to kill Michael. Tanya was just the hired help, one of the many women Zachary used to obtain his goals."
Jason sat astonished. He had jumped the gun and almost gotten his parents and his brother killed.
Michael looked up in exacerbation as his parents walked in. This was the last thing he needed.
"May I ask what this is all about?" The eldest Long asked in rather a pissed off way.
"Yes, come in Peter. I believe Jason has something to tell you."
Jason's eyes widened at Devon's words. After watching his parents take the seats facing him, he retold his tale.
"You see what you've gotten us into?" Dorothy directed at Michael.
"Me?!" That awoke the anger, "how am I to blame for this?"
"Pardon me, but I believe Jason..." Devon tried to diffuse the situation, only to be interrupted.
"I will not pardon you. You took our son and proceeded to brainwash him with that car."
"Your son??" Michael's voice was dangerously calm. "I don't think so. My family accepts me. My family gave me a precious gift, a soul mate. You may be my mother in blood, but they," Michael pointed to Devon, "are my family." Without another word, Michael strode from the office and a few seconds later Kitt's engine fired before tires squealed from the driveway.



*


Michael had driven at breakneck speeds to the only spot he could think of - the beach. Sliding the car through the sand to a stop, his anger still filling him, he slammed the door and jumped up onto the hood. Then curled into himself. The silence inspired Kitt to speak. "Did you mean it Michael?"
"What?" Michael was so immersed in his own thoughts he hadn't heard Kitt's question.
Kitt scanned over his despondent friend, almost afraid to ask his question. "What you said to your parents, about us?"
Michael had to think for a second, then smiled, "Yeah Kitt, I meant it. Have you ever known me to lie during a rage?"
"No I haven't." This didn't quite answer his question and Michael seemed to understand Kitt's need.
"I said this the other day, you are the closest one to me. My best friend, my soul mate." As he spoke, he unconsciously stroked the hood of the car.
"Michael...." His name came out more as a whisper as the car quivered under him.
Until dusk, the two remained unmoving, other than Michael's hand slowly moving over the hood, patterns changing with his thoughts.



"I don't want to go back Kitt." He was beginning to notice the evening chill, and his head told him that Bonnie would want to look over Kitt, but his heart wanted to stay, here alone, with his partner.
"Why?" Kitt was a little surprised at Michael's confession.
"I don't want to face them. I said some pretty nasty things."
"You were upset and rightfully so. But you need some rest, or to at least try." Kitt stopped his driver before he began his interruption. "I can't ensure your safety once night falls."
Michael sighed. He was tired, too tired and very on edge. He felt like his life was falling to pieces around him. "I just don't understand. Sure I expected them to be upset, but not like this." He lay back against the windshield, to disturbed to heed the cold wind. "I don't know how to approach them."
"I'm not sure I can help you in this matter, but..."
"But what?" He turned to look inside at the voice box.
"I had been worried that you'd return to your old life."
"It won't happen Kitt." Shaking his head he relived the day's events. "They never understood my way of things. I think Devon calling me 'a primitive' that day is very close to how they saw me. After I came back from the special forces, they changed. Like they didn't want to be associated with me."
"A lot like my reaction?" Guilt consumed the AI like never before.
"No, don't think that way." Reading Kitt's thoughts, Michael tried to explain himself more clearly. "They acted more like I had a the Plague. I still don't know why. I didn't talk about what we did, or even where we went. I wasn't proud of it and I definitely didn't want to rehash those days." Michael shifted onto his back, closing his eyes.
"Could it be jealousy?"
"Huh?? No, they have no reason to be jealous. Jay I can see. He's always talked about, what did the Board call it? The 'James Bond Fantasy'."
"As I understand it, he's far more... reserved than you are." That got a laugh.
"You could say that. I always thought, that because of that aspect of him, he would get farther in life than I would."
"Yet he seems to be lacking something."
"We're off topic. I know Jay's motives, my parents on the other hand.... This is driving me insane." His whole body froze, even the slight shivering paused.
"What? What did you just think of Michael?"
"No, it can't... there's no way." He swallowed hard. "Kitt, check.."
"Checking. Don't even say it. Not unless we have proof. It's going to take a few minutes. There are many offshoots here."
Michael waited, praying his instincts were wrong. He began to shiver again, but more from reaction.
"Michael...." Kitt's voice said all. He slid off the hood and collapsed into the sand, head in his hands, Kitt's prow against the back of his neck. Kitt watched his best friend succumb to his overwhelming discovery.

Slowly quieting, Michael lay his head back over his partner, looking up at the stars as he regained control of himself. He had never exposed this side of himself to Kitt, but he was at the end of his rope. In a million years, if someone had said to him that this was how things would turn out, he'd have laughed in their faces.
A plan began to form in his mind. Feeling somewhat in control, he stood. The door opened for him and he dropped into the warmth of the car.
"Kitt.."
"I came up with three cellular phone numbers, all untraceable. The other numbers that regularly appeared on the phone records for the station seem to be legitimate." Michael smiled at his partner's ability to read him.
"But one matches outgoing calls from the estate."
"Shit, lets get moving. Where are the calls originating from?"
"Both sets of rooms."
"So it is all of them." He took a deep breath, calming himself again. "I know it's late, but you have any ideas on how to contact Devon?"
"We could try his room?" Michael tilted his head in agreement.


**


Forty five minutes later, a red car and a black car converged towards an old meeting point. If anyone had been listening in to the conversation between the two men, they would have been completely baffled by it.
"I'm glad we set this up." Michael reached for his mentor's hand.
"I'd hoped we'd never need to use it." Leaning against the red car, Michael explained why he asked for this meet. Devon ran his hand over his chin, "I would never have considered them capable of this."
"That makes three of us. I'm at a loss here Devon."
"I'm not surprised. This is a little close to home." Michael just nodded. The older man watched as the other fought to keep his composure. "This does explain how they constantly knew where to find you."
"I don't want to see them get hurt."
"I understand."
"I know I'm asking a lot."
"No, never."
"Asking them to reveal themselves is like giving them a death sentence. They won't be able to play both sides." Devon nodded his agreement. "Kitt's Homing Signal.."
"Is off. I turned it off before I contacted you." Michael turned, walking towards his car. "I feel...." He threw his hand up in the air, "I don't know. Like I'm completely incompetent and surrounded at the same time." He swung back to face the other man in the midnight chill. "I've never felt like this. I'm sorry for getting to Foundation caught in the middle."
"There's no need to apologize. I can't figure out why their house burnt down."
"With the kind of money they now have in a savings account tucked cleverly away, I would burn my house down too."
"He's gone to great lengths."
"That's what scares me. What's he gonna do when he finds out we know? He'll kill them."
"Or you." Devon sighed, trying to think. "Stay at the cabin tonight. It's open enough for Kitt to keep an eye out. No communications what so ever. I'll tell Bonnie you and Kitt are out for a few days on a routine mission."
"Mean while Kitt'll be monitoring phone calls."
"No, absolutely not. I want no possibility of them discovering your whereabouts." Michael just looked at him. "We will meet back here tomorrow night, same time. I'll monitor, that way it will look like I'm just checking up on expenses."
Michael smiled, understanding. "Okay, I'll see what else Kitt and I can dig up."
"Sleep Michael. You need it. If I wasn't so concerned I'd have the good doctor slip you something."
"I'll keep that in mind the next time you hand me something to drink."
"We will find a way around this, without anyone getting hurt."
"I know we will." The two men clasped hands for a moment before proceeding their separate ways.

"Is this what family should be?" Kitt asked halfway to the cabin in the hills.
"Yeah Kitt. It's somewhere you can turn, no matter what the situation and know that you'll have their support."
"Then we are more than a family."
"Yeah Pal, we are." With that, Michael began dropping off into something akin to sleep, letting Kitt take control of the car.


**


"Good morning Bonnie." Devon had been searching high and low for her and finally found her en route to his office.
"Good morning, have you seen Michael or Kitt? I haven't seen hide nor hair of them since yesterday afternoon."
"Actually I sent them on a routine assignment. How would you like to go for breakfast?" Eyeing Devon, knowing he wanted to speak to her, she allowed herself to be lead from the building and into the waiting car.
After what Devon hoped was a fair distance away, he pulled the car off to the side of a quiet side street and motioned for Bonnie to step out of the car.
Slightly frightened and terribly bewildered, Bonnie followed her boss across the ditch and into the field. "What the hell is going on?" She demanded when he finally faced her.
"I spoke to Michael last night. After midnight." Now she was truly scared.
"What? Are they okay?"
"For now. They're off somewhere safe. Michael had Kitt run a check on his parents.."
"Oh no, not them too?" Devon just nodded. "How is Michael taking all this?"
"Not very well I'm afraid."
"This was well planned. They knew what this would do to him."
"All too well"


**


Michael awoke to find Kitt parked in front of the log cabin.
"What time is it?"
"Nine twelve." Stretching inside the car, he took in his surroundings. "I'd have carried you inside if I could have."
"I bet you would have," he grinned at the image that conjured in his mind. "And slipped me something like Devon suggested." Chuckling, he stepped out of the car, his tiredness causing him to seek support from the car.
"You need more than an hour's sleep Michael."
"I know, when this is resolved, we'll go somewhere, wherever you choose and take a break." Turning to the cabin, Michael went in search of food.


**


Kitt was counting, just waiting for Michael to lose patience. An hour and a half later, he saw his partner lock up the cabin.
After making sure he'd secured the building, Michael climbed into the car and gunned the engine.
"I was wondering how long it would take."
"You know me all too well Kitt." There was an affectionate note to Michael's voice.
"Where to?"
"Home."
"I was afraid you'd say that." Michael fired a jaundiced look at the modulator.


"Michael, we've got a tail." Kitt announced just after they'd descended the mountains.
"I noticed, can you scan?" Checking the rear view, the black sedan stayed three cars back, as it had most of the journey.
"No, but I have a clear view. It's Tanya." Michael's eyes widened before pulling over onto the shoulder.
"What may I ask are you doing?"
"Finishing this."


Both partners watched as Tanya parked her car in front of Kitt. She stopped before Kitt's prow as she noticed Michael reach for the door.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Kitt squeaked as he locked down.
"I told you..."
"I'm not letting you out."
"Kitt I'll override...."
"Please Michael, don't make me watch her kill you."


Tanya had been watching the exchange inside the car and knew, with Michael's last expression that he wasn't going to leave the safety the car provided.
"Fine, you just listen." She sat on the black hood near the windshield. Michael felt Kitt's revolted reaction, but the car stayed put. "Cameron wants the car. He's willing to go to any lengths to get it. You are aware of that?"
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Maybe because I've been there. Maybe I was hoping to take the car myself and leave you at the side of the road again." She shrugged. "Maybe I'm just sick and tired of inconsequential deaths. Maybe I'm...." She trailed off, staring directly at Michael.
"She can't be serious?" Kitt was even more revolted, and completely confused.
"So what do you want?" Michael ignored Kitt's remark, trying to push that thought out of his mind.
"I want the car. Or the schematics. Whichever. Then business is concluded."
Michael shook his head, "I don't believe you Tanya. It won't be over until Zachary has everything he wants."
"Including your head? He might be persuaded to focus elsewhere if I returned to him with one of the two options I just presented."
"I don't think so."
She shrugged again. "Have it your way. KITT you are beautiful. It's nice to see you close up." He didn't dignify her compliment with a response. "Zachary is ruthless, this was your only chance." With that she stood, walked back to her car and drove off like she didn't have a care in the world.
"Michael, there's a surveillance device under my intake."
Snorting, he climbed out of the car to grab it. "Yeah, like I'm surprised there. I figured she had ulterior motives." Turning it over in his hand, an idea grabbed him, "let's see if Bonnie can tell us anything about this toy."


**


Bonnie watched, slightly surprised as Kitt drove into the garage. Walking to the car, she met Michael as he stepped out. He looked terrible, blue eyes sunken in, surrounded by dark circles, slight facial growth adding a fierceness to his appearance, but she new better. Reaching up, she gathered him into a hug. Dropping his head into her hair, he allowed himself to cling to her for a moment. Accepting the comfort she offered.
Taking a deep breath, he backed away, "I have something for you to look at." Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out the tiny device.
"Where did you get that?"
"Tanya." Her head snapped up.
"You didn't..."
"No," he smiled slightly. "Kitt wouldn't let me. She left this on him."
"This is pretty sophisticated. It's going to take me a bit."
"Whatever it takes and thank you." Nodding, she placed the device on her desk.
"Aren't you supposed to be....working?" Bonnie raised her eyebrows, hoping he'd get the message.
"Yes, but I can't sit around waiting. She followed me Bon. From the city limits. She knew which direction I'd headed and waited. No one here knew that."
"Unless she has been following you..." She looked to meet his gaze. No, that couldn't be.
"That's...."
"Frightening." Kitt finished for them. "Bonnie is there any way I can track the vehicles?"
Leaning back against the desktop, exhaling, she crossed her arms, "I don't think so. The report stated that not only where the cars coated in the absorbing paint, but they had a thermal coating mixed in as well. So you can't see them until you.. see them."
"Shit," they barely heard Michael. "They really have thought of everything. I'm gonna let Devon know I'm here and get cleaned up." Bonnie watched him leave, a concerned expression on her face.
"How is he Kitt?"
"He isn't dealing with this situation very well."
"So it's up to us, you and I have to come up with a way to outsmart them." Kitt's scanner lit up in what could have been a smile. Relieved that Bonnie was willing to take on part of the responsibility for Michael's life.


**


Walking into Devon's office, he encountered not only his boss, but his brother, who took one look at Michael, "Jesus Mike, you look like shit."
Looking at his brother, Michael retorted with great sarcasm, "I love you too." Then he faced Devon's mostly hidden angry expression.
"I know, I'm back early. Kitt needed some support." Devon got the gist of the message. "Is there something I should know about?"
"No." Jason spoke a little too quickly. Devon shook his head. This had been a mistake from the first. Saving them from the conversation, the phone rang. Without saying a word, Devon answered it, hung up, stood and lead Michael from he room. Once outside he explained himself, "Bonnie called, she may have found something from the gift you brought her."

"Good, you're both here." Bonnie greeted after seeing Kitt's scanner track once before shutting off again. Walking across the garage, she hooked the gadget up to her laptop. "It's a tracking device, not like any I've ever seen before, but simple in it's own way. I initially hooked it up out of curiosity and Kitt picked up a trail."
"You mean a way to follow it back?"
"Uh huh." Smiling proudly, she hit a key and a spot began to flash on the screen. "The signal is perfectly clear."
The excitement faded from Michael, "It's a trap. This is too easy. For her to just *leave* this on Kitt? No way. They could have coated it with the paint if they wanted to tail us. Kitt would never have seen it then."
"So why?" Bonnie asked in frustration.
"To lead me in by the nose. I'm screwing up and they know it. I would have walked right up to her today if Kitt hadn't stopped me. It's just one stupid mistake. If I'd asked Kitt to do an analysis, he'd have come up with the same result and I'd have marched right in."
"That's most likely what they were hoping for." Devon regarded his friend closely for the first time under clear lighting. It was easy to see why he'd make that type of mistake, too easy.
"But something she said to me today." His eyes found Kitt and he moved to sit on the car, quietly asking for support. "The way she said it. There's more to this. I just can't put my finger on what."
"What did she say Kitt?" Devon figured he'd receive a better explanation from the AI.
"If I hadn't known better, I'd swear she was about to say that she was in love with Michael." Two mouths fell open as Michael closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. He hadn't imagined what she'd said, or the hidden meaning behind it. He couldn't fathom this development.
"How were her reactions?"
"She was nervous. Her pulse and respiratory were up considerably, but she was trying to mask them." Kitt continued to look over the events, trying to possibly find something that might give them an edge. Nothing presented itself. Mad at his non findings, he turned to look at his three friends. Michael was looking worse. He wasn't even supporting himself on his legs as he sat on the hood. He'd placed his trust in Kitt to keep him upright. He suddenly stood, surprising them all. Settling into Kitt, he closed the door, and waited. When the other two shifted their attention back to the device, Michael, carefully watching them, asked Kitt, "Do you think we can go in?"
"Are you joking?" Kitt kept his voice down, disbelieving what Michael had just asked him.
"No, I'm not. Look we need to finish this. Now. I can't wait for them to find me. We might have a better chance if we go to them. I'm getting too tired Kitt. To the point of not caring how this ends, as long as it ends." He finished, staring at the seat beneath him.
Michael's words disturbed Kitt, through and through. "You can't mean that."
"I'm sorry Pal, I'm finding it....harder and harder."
"They planned to drag this on." With a sudden rage, his voice took on the dangerous tone.
"For as long as needed. Figuring once I made that fatal mistake, you would be theirs for the taking." Running his hand through his hair, a plan began to form. "We, just you and me, Kitt, we need to follow that signal."
"You don't want to inform Devon or Bonnie?"
"Hell no! You think they'd allow it? If it's our own volition, that makes it safer for us and for everyone else concerned. If I have to, I'll go it alone."
"No you will not," came the sharp response. "I'll back you, you know that. I wouldn't be able to wait here, knowing what you are doing. Michael I.."
"Don't say it." He quickly put up a hand to stop what he knew was coming. "Not here, not like this. I need to hear you say it, but after, when I can be sure."
Kitt understood his driver's request, he didn't need anymore emotional baggage. Though it may help now, it may hinder them both when the time came to face their enemy. "Be assured Michael, I will say it to you."
"I know you will." Smiling he wrapped his arms around the steering wheel to use as a pillow for his forehead.
"I'm tracing the signal now. Bonnie and Devon are otherwise preoccupied." Michael's shoulders shook as he held in the mischievous laughter.
"I think I've taught you too much."
"What makes you think you've taught me?"
"Oh, so where did you pick up that.... art?"
"Television." Now the laughter broke through, catching Bonnie's attention. The two outside the car shrugged shoulders. Deciding to leave well enough alone, they left the garage. "Sleep Michael. I'll wake you up after dark. You'll need it."
"I'll try. Where are my parents?"
"I'm not going to tell you, you are going to sleep."
"Yes dad," but Michael's voice had already taken on a sleepy roughness. Kitt increased the temperature inside the car a few degrees, trying to convince his partner's body to rest.


**


Waking Michael well after everyone had turned in for the night, the pair silently left the property. He was feeling better. Knowing that he was doing something, anything to bring closure to this had allowed him to sleep. He had full trust in Kitt to proceed as planned. Kitt had found the location the signal originated from and even an overlay of the property.
Zachary was living well. The property was extensive. Research labs set well away from the gargantuan house. In silent mode, they crept along the perimeter. The only light coming from the scanner.
"The labs look like they are geared up for most types of electronic systems."
"Like maybe an AI?"
"Unfortunately yes. Or weaponry. There seems to be a great deal of that around."
"Anything you can't handle?"
"I don't believe so."
"That's good news." Kitt displayed his findings on one of the small screens, trying to give Michael a feel for the location. The more he knew, the safer he'd be.
"How many guards?"
"Too many. All constantly rotating and in contact with one another."
"That may be a good thing. Monitor it and see if you can find a pattern, maybe a fluctuating opening?"
"I understand your request, but it may take several passes to determine a pattern."
"We have all night, and if not, tomorrow's just as good."
"Do you have any idea what you're going to do once you're inside?"
"Honestly, no. There has to be something, some grounds on which we can arrest them."
"Any charges wouldn't hold. May I remind you we are not here legally."
"We have friends Kitt, friends that we have pulled strings for in the past."
"Is there another option?"
"You tell me. How are your scanners working?"
"I've located what possibly could be the stealth cars, by the blank spots, other than that they seem to be functioning properly."
"Can you give me a complete layout of the house?"
A few seconds later, a map appeared on the second screen. "Security systems?" That appeared in a different colour.
"All windows and doors are wired for any movement.."
"That must be a bitch in a storm." He could almost see Kitt smile in the moment of quiet.
"*The* floors are monitored by laser trip wires." Sometimes he found it difficult to ignore Michael's comments.
"If I know where they are, can I avoid them?"
"That seems to be the general idea. The guards pass though the areas with ease."
Kitt had stopped on a back road near the house. He didn't like this. Michael had no concrete plan. But he had slept and he was sounding more confident. It was now or never. "I've found an opening. It appears for thirty seconds every five minutes, give or take."
Michael took one last look at the screens before quietly opening the door. In barely above a whisper he spoke what he hoped wouldn't be his last words to his partner. "Keep in touch."
"Will do, and Michael, be careful."
"I will get back to you."
Crouching down, Michael made his way towards the house. Kitt constantly alerting him of trip wires and sensors placed within the grass. Moving slowly, Michael paid very close attention to Kitt's warnings. As he closed in on the building, he remained as much in the shadows as possible. The house was dark, only a few lights on inside.
"Kitt can you disarm the sensors on the door long enough for me to get in?"
"How long do you need?"
"Long enough to pick the lock."
"Forget it. Which door do you want?"
"Any suggestions?"
"To your right, three large glass doors, beyond that is a solid door. Try that one."
Reaching the door, it almost opened for him. "Thanks." He whispered once inside. The room was dark. The light from outside provided just enough light to make out outlines. "I'm mostly blind in here. Where am I?"
"Four doors away from what appears to be an office. I'll guide you. The hallways however have emergency lighting. You'll be vulnerable during that time."
"Got ya." Inch by inch, Kitt guided his friend through the room, explaining every step in detail. Stopping at the door, he waited for Kitt's all clear before cracking the door and peeking into the hallway. Proceeding left, as per Kitt's instructions, he was almost at the office when he heard a shout. Spinning, he realized he'd been seen.
"Three hundred yards to your left, there is the exit. I'll meet you there." Michael heard as he began the dash for the main door.
"No, stay put. Unless the guards outside are informed, I'll make it back to you." They wouldn't get Kitt, not if he could help it.
Rounding the corner, he came to an abrupt halt. Standing in front of the entranceway was Zachary, pointing a small gun directly at Michael. "Good evening Mr. Knight."
After a quick assessment, Michael gave in, lifting his hands away from himself. Two guards grabbed him from behind making him very uncomfortable and effectively pinning him.
"So what brings you to my home so late?" Zachary remained, facing Michael, waiting.
"Closure."
"Oh, for what?"
"Haven't we played enough games?"
"Yes I guess we have. But this game will leave you rotting this time." He motioned for the guards to drag Michael into the office. Once inside, the guards shoved Michael into a chair, then took position, standing over their prisoner, ready for him to make a move. Zachary on the other hand sat comfortably on the other side of his desk, lighting a cigarette. "This was an incredibly easy game to play. Your brother was, child's play so to speak. So easy to manipulate. Your parents however, I never did mention to them our...connection. A simple phone call, a meet, a few photographs. It was effortless to rouse their anger. Their wonderful son had betrayed them leaving them for a better life." Michael fought to keep his anger, knowing this was just another trap. He was trying to distract him, and unfortunately it was beginning to work.
"Why? Why the elaborate scheme?"
"Would you believe jealousy?"
"Excuse me?" Now he was baffled?
"Shortly after Tanya recovered, I realized her feelings had gone... elsewhere. It took a fair amount of surveillance to find that she was watching you." Michael's eyes widened. He had definitely heard her correctly. "So this was a rather pleasant way to destroy your surroundings and gain the Knight Two Thousand. Now where is the car?"
"What makes you think I'd tell you?"
"Pain, Mr Knight." With that, one of the guards standing behind him lashed out, knocking Michael from the chair and leaving him gasping for breath.
On his hands and knees, Michael slowly focused on his surroundings. The guard knew where to hit, knocking the wind out of him.
"That's just the beginning." Lifting his head, Michael glared at Zachary. "Well Mr Knight, are you going to answer my question. It's just a car, is it really worth it? "
"Yes," was all he managed to get out before he was roughly pulled to his feet. Zachary, out of patience, rounded the desk, thrusting a gun into his abdomen.
"Now I hear that this is the most painful way to die. Shall I attempt to find out?" Zachary was in Michael's face as he held the gun. Having full faith in his guards he waited, giving Michael what he believed to be one last chance to answer his question.
Just as Zachary shrugged, there was an almighty crash from the far wall as Kitt flew in. Diving for cover, the guards managed to take Michael with them. As the dust settled over the black car, Michael found there was not one, but two guns aimed at him. Stuck in between cross-hairs, he had nowhere to go. Kitt was too far away for him to reach.
Kitt's engine rumbled with anger. "This is not going to happen." Kitt's enraged voice filled the room.
"Oh, and why not? Are you going to give yourself to me?"
"I'm no fool, Zachary, you'd kill Michael anyway."
"So I would."
"Then you'd die as well."
"By what means? You cannot take a life."
"You might be surprised. You do not seem to realize how much that life your holding captive means to me."
"Cameron, stop this." Tanya ran into the room.
It all happened in a blur. Zachary's attention shifted, Michael saw his chance and dove at him. The sound of gunfire rocked the room. Seeing Michael fall back, Kitt screamed, sending the car towards the man who had shot his driver.
"Kitt," the weak voice of his friend came over the comlink. Kitt hit the breaks, tyres squealing on the tile floor, the prow stopping just before Zachary's shins. The car trembled, hesitating as he scanned his driver. Then, taking the car to stand protectively over Michael, he called for help. Tanya had been hit as well and was bleeding badly in the hallway. Zachary was white as a sheet.
Seeing his partner, Michael reached for the door. Kitt, realizing what Michael was doing, opened the door and watched as he painfully climbed in. Closing up as soon as Michael was in, he locked down to wait for the paramedics. Scanning him again, Kitt added extra oxygen to the cabin. The bullet had hit him just above the hip, but missed internal organs.
"Thank you."
"You're welcome Michael. Help is on it's way." Michael nodded, leaning back into the seat, unsure if he could do any more, feeling the blackness begin to take his vision. Seeing Michael begin to fade into unconsciousness, he decided that this was the time, "I love you Michael." Smiling, Michael let himself go.


**



Two days and one night in the hospital was all Michael could take. Devon and Bonnie had been in to see him once, but quickly slinked off after being recipients of Michael's impatient temper.
Kitt was waiting for him as he exited the hospital, chuckling quietly to himself at the petulant expression on Michael's face.
"What?" The question had an almost indignant quality to it.
"I'm glad you're feeling better." Unfortunately the amusement came through clearly.
"You are, are you." As Michael hit the 'manual' button, Kitt let it go, there was no talking to Michael while he was in this mood.

Zachary had been arrested that night. They found him, in the same position as Kitt had left him. The man had literally been scared stiff. He'd misjudged Kitt and was paying dearly for it. Those that knew Michael and Kitt found it oddly stirring that the AI had taken such an extreme position to protect his driver.
Tanya was in critical condition, but was expected to pull through. Both would stand trial as soon as physically capable. Zachary had not spoken a word since Kitt had almost run him down. That repercussion was found to be satisfying by the members of FLAG. He was not expected to cause trouble again. FLAG was also overseeing the trial procedures, to make sure everyone involved stayed clean.

Michael, however was left to deal with the fallout of his family's involvement with Zachary. The depression and insomnia remained for weeks following his release from the hospital. Jason had retreated back to his apartment. Michael pulled a few strings to ensure Jason's life would continue as if none of this had happened. His parents had refused to speak to him. They remained housed in one of the guest cottages on Foundation grounds until the closing date for their new home. In the eyes of the police, the house fire remained an accident. Only Kitt, Devon and Michael knew differently.
Feeling boxed in, Michael drove back to the beach late in the evenings. Two weeks had passed, his side was healing nicely, his emotions were not. He'd made a few attempts to speak to his parents. Each time they refused to acknowledge he was at the door. Kitt had watched as his friend's depression increased tenfold after each endeavor. Unable to help, Kitt had stayed by Michael's side, offering silent strength and support. In return, Michael had spent increasingly more time with Kitt. Very little was said. Any inquiry into Michael's well being was greeted with hostility.
Now, lying on the hood of the car, arms acting as a pillow for his head, he allowed to desolation to take him. Breathing deeply, he rehashed the events of late, desperate to find reasoning for his parents behavior.
"I guess turn about is fair play."
Kitt jumped at Michael's voice. He had grown accustomed to the lengthy silences. "I don't understand your meaning here Michael?"
"I left them out of my life for so long, this is just turn about, them leaving me out of their lives."
"Michael, can I ask you something, without offending you."
He grimaced at the fear in Kitt's voice. "I'm sorry for treating you the way I have been. Please, ask me anything."
"Why.....does this bother you so much?"
Taking another deep breath, eyes closed he considered Kitt's question. "I guess, because they brought me into this world. It would be like Bonnie turning her back on you. I did betray them, and they have a right to be angry."
In the softest tone he could muster, Kitt tried to turn his partner's thinking. "You didn't betray them. You almost died, we wanted to protect you. I have a small confession."
"Ummm?"
"For the first year we worked together, I was instructed to monitor their actions."
"What?!" Eyes opening, he turned to face the windshield.
"I'm sorry I never told you."
"Why Kitt?" There was more puzzlement in his question than anger.
"Because the Foundation wanted to be sure you didn't accidentally run into them. I was told to make sure that you were kept away from any location that might present a chance of your meeting."
The silence that passed seemed to be the longest period in Kitt's life. When he was just about to break it, Michael spoke. "I can't fault you Kitt. I see the reasoning. I was pretty messed up at the time. I would have made that mistake."
"Giving Zachary an opening three years ago." Kitt's relief was tangible.
"If not sooner. If Tanya has been watching me, she might have found her opportunity long before we established our connection."
"I'm glad to hear you say that."
"I think I should have said it sooner. But, you are right. This shouldn't be effecting me as greatly as it has been. I think I may be wallowing in self pity."
"What do you wish to do about it?"
"Two things." Michael slipped off the hood and entered the car.
"They are?"
"One, face my folks. We can find a way in there." The mischievous smile was like old times.
"And two?"
Michael turned serious as he watched the lights on the modulator, "Tell you that I love you as well. I've fallen into the habit of taking you for granted. I don't know if I can change that, but I'll try."
"I don't expect you to. Having heard you say that to me will make it easier the next time."
Smiling Michael hit the ignition. "So, Partner, lets go stir up some trouble."


**


They arrived at the guest cabin well after dark, but most of the lights on the ground floor were still on. Kitt moved in as close as possible in silent mode. Noting with great amusement the devious smile on Michael's face.
"They up?"
"Yes Michael, in the living area."
Exiting the car, Michael snuck towards the door and picked the lock. Flashing a brilliant smile towards his partner, he threw the door open, watching the occupants startle.
"What the hell are you doing?" Peter Long asked in a fury, tying to slow his racing heart.
"Getting you undivided attention." The response was maddeningly simple.
"There is no cause for this."
"Hell yes there is. You've been avoiding me, so I'm taking it into my own hands to talk to you." Closing the door firmly, Michael strode over to his parents, feeling a bit of his old confidence return. "I know you don't approve of what I'm doing with my life. But, that's just it, it's my life."
Sitting back down his father calmly turned to his son. "Do you truly enjoy this lifestyle?"
"Unbelievably so." The answer came without any hesitation. "I admit, I didn't when this all began five years ago." Crouching in front of his parents, he needed them to realize how important this conversation was to him. "Five years ago I lashed out at anyone who I thought had taken me away from my other life. I didn't want to be here. Now.... now I don't think I could live any other way. Kitt and I have shared a lot, especially over the passed few weeks. Things that are personal, things that have made me feel even more complete. I am Michael Knight, *this* is my home and I refuse to change that."
Nodding to each other, both parents began to see beyond the changes the hardships had wrought within their son. Dorothy placed her hand over her youngest's on his knee. Looking up, he began to see acceptance.