'Knight Rider' copyright Glen A Larson
Story copyright MJHughes 2001

The Longest Day
by elfin

Michael breathed in the morning air. It was a gorgeous summer morning, blue skies, birds singing, the faint aroma of fresh coffee reaching him from the Foundation's canteen. He smiled to himself as he descended from the guest cottages down the short drive to the main house. He came to a stop when he saw the black TransAm parked in front of the house. His smile grew larger and he jogged over to the car, opening the car and dropping into the driver's seat, sliding his arm over the steering wheel in what might have been a good-morning hug.
"Morning, Kitt," he murmured, affection clear in his voice. Today he was glad to be alive, and the sight of his partner simply added to that. He was surprised when the usually bright voice didn't immediately answer him. "Kitt?" Still nothing. He tipped his head to one side, frowning. "Okay, what have I done?" Usually he got the silent treatment for some pertinent remark he'd made that he often couldn't even remember. When Kitt still didn't reply, Michael sat forward, worry creeping into his gut. "Kitt?"

Bonnie leaned on the top of the open car door, leaning down into the car. "Michael?"
He turned, almost jumped.
"Bonnie! What's wrong here? Where's Kitt?" It seemed like an odd question. But the expression on her face cut through his thoughts and sent a chill down his spine. "What?"
"Michael... something happened in the early hours of this morning. Kitt's data integrity started to drop, very suddenly. It set the alarms off, one of the technicians woke me. He's picked up a virus from somewhere. It's causing a cascade failure in his database and core program."
Michael could barely understand what she was saying. He'd never been great with technology and a year of spending almost every waking hour with an advanced AI and a prototype vehicle hadn't improved his knowledge one iota.

"Where is he?" was all he could think to ask. Whatever what she was saying really meant, it didn't sound too good.
"We took him into the lab." She watched Michael glance at the dash. "The CPU. It's usually under the hood." It hadn't occurred to her that he didn't yet know that. But he seemed to accept it. He climbed out of the car and closed the door softly, following her around the mansion and along the path that led to the modern lab complex at the back of the site. The day felt colder than it had before.

Michael stepped through the double doors into the Artificial Intelligence lab. He'd never been here before. It was nothing like the place where he'd first met Kitt. In front of him was a wide open space with no windows and small but bright spots in the low ceiling. Along the wall opposite him, on a long, low work surface, was a collection of computers unlike any he'd seen before; they seemed to have a thing at Knight Industries for sleek and black. Unix workstations and flat-screen monitors were turned alternately towards the six engineers fitting along the length of the work-surfaces. The wall itself was lined with large flat monitors not unlike what he'd expect to see at NASA.

All he could think was where Kitt was in all of this. Bonnie had given him a moment to adjust, and then urged him forward. The second work station in from the left had a black box sitting atop the Sparc "Pizza Box" CPU. The lid had been removed and delicate circuitry exposed. He had no idea how, but he knew this was Kitt. There was a larger monitor to one side of the rapidly typing engineer. This one was simply a dark grey screen with a flashing cursor in the very top left-hand corner. There was a small keyboard in front of it that wasn't being used, and a headset.

"They're working to try to erase the virus, to lock down as many systems as they can, save as much as they can.," Bonnie explained quietly.
"Where is he, really?"
She smiled proudly and a little sadly, Michael was finally starting to get the hang of the computer thing after all. "In here, he's everywhere. He's been uploaded to the mainframe that has no external access at all. It's closed off to the KI network. The only terminals on the mainframe are the ones you can see here." She watched his expression with sympathy. "Think of it as an intensive care room. He has the best support we can offer here, and he's safe from any further infection."

Michael understood that. "Can I... talk to him?"
"In a way." She led him closer, to where the blank monitor sat. Leaning over the engineer working at the closest Sparc station, she picked up the headset and handed it to Michael. "You can talk to him, his answers will appear on the screen," she indicated the monitor, "and will be electronically converted to voice through the headset." He nodded. "Be patient. He's what you call, 'a little out of it' at the moment. He's fighting as hard as he can, almost too hard. If you can get him to relax slightly, to let the people here to their jobs, we'd all have a better chance."
"Okay." With a deep breath, Michael slipped the headset on, positioning the mouthpiece.

He held Bonnie's gaze for a moment, and then looked away. The thin cable connecting the headset to the base station and translator was long enough to allow him to pace the whole room if he so wished. He stepped back, looking down at the marble-effect floor, staring for a moment at the kaleidoscope of shadows at his feet, cast by the multitude of lights above him. "Kitt?"

He watched the cursor on the screen several feet from him, watched as the response came a moment before he heard the flat, toneless electronic voice in his ear. "Mi...chael."
Michael winced. "Yeah, it's me, Kitt, I'm here." He reached up and covered the microphone with his hand. "Bonnie, can you turn this electronic voice off?"
She glanced up, confused. "Then you won't be able to hear..."
"I can read. Kitt's voice is the most familiar thing in the world to me now, I can hear it in my head, I don't need this synthesised one."

She didn't have the heart to tell him that Kitt's voice was as synthesised as the one he was hearing now. She leaned across and depressed a button on the headset's base station. Michael nodded his thanks. He moved again. The monitor and the text there were both large enough to be seen from a fair distance.
"Kitt, stay with me, Pal."
_mi chael couldnt stop it sorry so sorry
"You don't have to apologize, Kitt." He spoke with assurance. "You just have to make it through this."
_cant keep fighting
"Yes you can, Kitt. You absolutely can." Softening his voice, he added, "You have to, Pal. I can't do this without you."

Bonnie read off the current status from the regularly updated screen. The database integrity was at 32% but the figure had stopped falling finally. Kitt was hanging on for dear life. At the beginning, when this had all started around quarter passed three this morning, they'd backed up everything. No one had any clue about what would happen if they did have to restore from backup. This had been one of their crisis simulations during the testing phase of the Knight Industries Two Thousand system. But the program they'd tested then and the AI they were working with now were two completely different entities. Kitt wasn't a computer program anymore, he was a patient. And currently he was critically ill.

She sat back and let her gaze fall on Michael. He was walking about over the other side of the lab, hands in his pockets, eyes darting up to the screen every few seconds to read Kitt's reply to whatever he'd said. He'd been talking for over an hour now. He'd started off talking Kitt into fighting, boosting his spirit, telling him again and again that he could win this battle as they'd won so many others in the past. She wasn't sure where he'd taken the mostly one-sided conversation now, but a few minutes ago she swore she'd heard a chuckle from him.

He was amazing, she had to admit. A year ago when she'd first been introduced to him she'd thought him a womanizer and a chauvinist pig. To watch him take off with very little care for the car and AI she'd helped developed had rubbed her up the wrong way for too long, and finally she'd cracked, yelling at him the next time he'd managed to damage one of Kitt's peripheral systems. She'd thrown everything at him, from the damage he constantly inflicted to the way he spoke to Kitt.

And he'd taken it, let her shout herself out before he'd told her quietly that he cared for Kitt deeply. It had taken her breath away - that simple statement. And she'd stopped worrying about her baby. He was in good hands. As he was now. Since she'd brought Michael in, Kitt's readings had levelled out. The alarms had stopped ringing every five minutes and the AI had stopped blindly fighting their attempts to help him. She'd not expected Michael to stay, let alone do for his partner what he was doing now.

"Okay.... This horse walks into a bar, and the barman says, 'why the long face?'"
_horses naturally have long faces
"Precisely." He was only at the start of his repertoire of jokes and Kitt had already spent half an hour trying to understand the humour behind the first five.
_stating the obvious is funny
Michael considered that one. "Sometimes. Depends how you do it."
"You'll like this one. Two fish in a tank, the first one says, 'so what do we do now?' and the second one replies, 'I don't know, I've never driven one of these before'."
_a pun a play on the word tank
"Now you're getting the hang of it." Michael glanced from the screen to where Bonnie was gazing at him. He furrowed his brow inquisitively, but she just smiled and nodded. He was doing good. Smiling back, he looked again at the screen.
_another Mi another
A warm feeling washed over him. "I'm here, Kitt, I'm with you. You want another, let me think.... Okay. Two eggs in a frying pan. The first egg says, 'wow, it's hot in here!' and the second one says, 'Shit! A talking egg!'"
He watched the screen. There was nothing for a second, and then,
Michael couldn't contain his soft laugh.
_another one that makes sense
"Okay. A longer one." Turning from the screen, he lifted the headset cord over the furthest engineer and walked over to lean against the amber light-bathed wall. "A computer programmer, who has led a long and happy life, dies and goes to heaven. Saint Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates and offers to show him around. The guy says, 'sure, why not?' So off they go, St Peter showing this ex-computer programmer around Heaven."

"Bonnie." She looked up from her screen at the engineer - Rob - sitting next to her. "We have a problem."
"We have many." She moved to sit closer to him, to take in what was happening on his screen. He'd been performing a memory purge in an attempt to clean out the virus from Kitt's long-term memory. The purge had been running smoothly, with the status lines scrolling up his screen at a rate of three per second for about five minutes. And then they'd stopped.

Michael brought one foot up against the wall, stretching his hands out over his thighs. "This guy can't believe his luck! There are huge houses, internet cafes as far as the eye can see - all of them offering hours and hours of free networked Quake. Finally, after seeing everything he could wish to see, they come to this massive house on the edge of Heaven. 'Wow,' says the guy, 'who lives here?' St Peter tells him it's God's house. As they get nearer, the guys sees that the house has these giant golden gates at the bottom of the long drive, and they have the letters 'B. G.' sculptured into the metal."

Bonnie and Rob watched, their hearts hammering, as the scrolling text began again, faster, rapidly filling the screen and moving so fast that their eyes merged the thousands upon thousands of actual lines into one single line.

Michael pushed off the wall to move where he could see the monitor for Kitt's reaction as he reached the punch line. "So the guys asks, 'why 'B.G.?' St Peter looks really embarrassed as he turns away before answering, 'it's awful, but sometimes God likes to pretend he's Bill Gates."

Michael watched as his partner's reaction appeared on the monitor.
_Miegalk hyvfdbm fbdr rbjhf sfjds fdjknfd fhe hjln
"Secure the system! Lock down the memory!"
"Now! It's moving into ROM!"
The activity around him had suddenly notched up into high gear. People were typing furiously, moving from one desk to the next to check status. Michael could do nothing but stay out of their way. He wrapped his arms around himself, suddenly cold. "Come on, Kitt. I need you, Partner, you can't leave me, not now, not after everything we've been through. Please, Kitt, fight this."
The quiet, professional engineers had suddenly become innovators, talking across and over one another but each one hearing everything else that was said, searching for an idea, a solution.
"How's the lock-down doing?"
"It's not working!"
"How about if we firewall the different parts of the system?"
"Good idea!"

Michael closed his eyes, mentally reciting an old prayer he once knew as a child. "Come on, Kitt, it can't end this way." He felt tears stinging his eyes as the calls of the engineers assaulted his ears. While he had no real understanding of what they were saying, he did know they were talking about trying to save his friend's life. "You have to fight this."
"That's it!"
Bonnie watched as the readings slowly steadied again. The rate of scrolling text on Steve's screen dropped to a crawl.
"That's it," Michael murmured, eyes not leaving the monitor displaying Kitt's replies. "Come on, Partner, stay with me."
He thought he could hear the sighs of relief. Steve leaned back. "It's stopped."
Bonnie shook her head, playing the complete professional at the moment, her emotions deeply, harshly buried. "That was way too close." She glanced up at Michael. He was white, but still talking into the mouthpiece, still calming his traumatised partner.

Michael saw the word appear on the screen, letter by letter, and he felt like crying once again. He could barely believe his own ravaged emotions but he didn't have time at the moment to question them. Moving to crouch down in front of the monitor, arms on the work surface between the two engineers, he rested his chin on the back on his hand.
"I know you're scared, Kitt. But you don't have to be. We're gonna get through this. There are people here who are here to help you. Bonnie's here...." It was a struggle to keep his voice level. "You're gonna be fine, you just have to hang in there for me. Think you can do that?"
He locked his eyes on to the screen and he waited a long few seconds before he read Kitt's reply.
_i can try


Bonnie leaned back and checked her watch. They'd been at this almost nine hours. They seemed to have halted the spread of the virus but they still had to get it out of the system and they had no idea of the damage that had already been caused. She looked across at Michael. He was sitting on the floor with his back against the wall. He'd angled the monitor so that he could read it from there but at the moment he had his head bowed. She could see his lips moving. How he'd managed this for what was getting close to five hours, she had no idea. He hadn't left his partner's side yet and she knew he had to be in need of a break.

Rising, she crossed to him and crouched down in front of him, making sure she didn't block his view of the monitor. "Take five minutes," she whispered above the background noise of the machines. "Get some air, I'll go for coffee and sandwiches."
Michael pinched the bridge of his nose and rubbed his eyes. Then he nodded and held up one hand, fingers spread in a 'five minutes' gesture. She nodded back and rose, heading out to find the engineers some sustenance.

"Kitt, I need to go for five minutes."
The reaction was the fastest reply he'd had this morning.
_no please dont leave me stay
"I'll be five minutes, Kitt, I promise."
"Kitt," he knew he'd have to be firm or he would never get out. "Set your timer, can you reach your timer?"
"Set it for five minutes, okay? I promise you I'll be back before it gets to zero. Okay, Pal?"
The response was hesitant.
"Good. Now set your timer, I'll be back in five." It was like he was reassuring a frightened child instead of an advanced artificial intelligence. But at the moment, that was how he imagined Kitt must be feeling. Despite the computer's denials, Michael had long ago realized his partner was capable of feeling and emotions. Since the incident with KARR he'd been convinced that Kitt felt as those around him did. Sighing, he took the headset off and dropped it carefully to the desk before heading outside.

The sun was still shining, over head now. One of the engineers was standing some feet away, smoking, and Michael approached him. When he turned around, Michael found it was actually a 'she'. It surprised him, he hadn't noticed any females working in there.
"Hi, I...." She smiled at him and without him having to finish, she fished a crumbled packet of cigarettes from her jeans pocket and offered them to him. "Thanks." She even lit it for him.
"You're welcome," she told him with another smile. "Don't worry, he's gonna be okay." Michael tried to speak, but he found the lump in his throat wouldn't let him. She shook her head. "You've been talking for five hours straight. You don't have to make conversation with me." And she left him standing there, not quite believing the support they had, and the understanding.

Taking a long drag on the cigarette, checking his watch, he started to walk. The last year had gone passed in a whirl. His life had changed beyond recognition, and after a short rebellion, he'd changed with it. Eighteen months ago he would have laughed at the idea of a talking car, doubled-over with hilarity if someone had suggested he would befriend it. Yet in all his life he couldn't recall anyone who'd been closer to him than Kitt was now. He couldn't imagine a day without the sleek black TransAm's cheeky computer. He didn't want to have to.

He started to wonder what they'd do if they did lose Kitt here today to a virus picked up from some outside network the AI had interfaced with, probably at his command. Could they just... create another one? Would there be the same voice, the same learning curve? Would they try to clone his friend from the backups they had? Would he be the same? And yet what worried him the most was, would he be able to tell the difference? There seemed something very wrong about simply recreating Kitt. He was unique, had every right to be. If the technology existed to clone humans, would it be morally right to do so?

He checked his watch again. Two minutes had passed. Pulling another drag on his neglected cigarette, he tapped the ash to the ground. He rarely smoked. A hang over from his academy years, he only tended to now in times of stress. This was his first since he'd become Michael Knight. He'd spent all morning comforting an AI who was fighting for his life. A year ago it was something he would never have imagined himself doing. This morning he hadn't thought twice.

Kitt couldn't die. The mere notion would have been unbelievable twelve hours ago. He'd always seen himself as the vulnerable one, Kitt as his untouchable saviour, his bodyguard, his protector. To have a partner like him, someone utterly dedicated to keeping him safe, was an addictive feeling. He knew that the risks he took had gotten more and more dangerous as time had passed, simply because he knew Kitt was there to save his ass if something went wrong. But now it was the other way around, Kitt desperately needed him and he only had his instinct to guide him. He could keep the AI occupied while those so much more qualified than him worked to save Kitt's life. He felt next to useless.

Sighing, he dropped the cigarette on the ground and stamped on it. He headed back into the facility at a jog and headed into the toilets before returning to the AI lab. It was relatively quiet. Bonnie wasn't back yet but the rest of the engineers were hard at work. Picking up the headset again, Michael slipped it over his head and positioned the microphone.
The AI's countdown had reached twenty-five by the time his partner spoke. The happy response came immediately.
_michael you came back
He felt his heartstrings pulled at hard. "Kitt, Pal, of course I came back. I'm here for you. I just needed to answer the call of nature."
_more information than I needed
Michael could barely believe his eyes. He chuckled, shaking his head gently. "You're amazing, Kitt. If I haven't told you before, I apologize."
_not needed any more jokes?


The next hour passed in peace. Michael was really scraping the barrel with his jokes, he could even see the nearest engineer to him wincing at some of the terrible punch lines he was coming out with. But Kitt didn't seem to mind. Where usually he'd be groaning in mock-pain, he was simply asking for more. Michael couldn't have known that his partner was using the constant input as a defence mechanism of his own, and that giving the AI something to concentrate on was just delaying the inevitable.

Bonnie had brought sandwiches and sodas. Mid-afternoon, Michael needed once again to answer nature's call.
"I need to go again," he told his partner, standing up and shaking some blood into his sleeping legs. "Two minutes. Want to set your timer?"
_no i trust you
Michael was touched. "You have my word." He left the headset on the floor by the wall and indicated to Bonnie that he was popping out. She nodded and turned back to her screen. Exactly three seconds after the door had closed behind Michael, all hell broke loose.

Status readings that had been holding steady for most of the day suddenly started to report critical failings across the board. Data, memory, disks, even the neural pathways began to break down.
"What the fuck?!" Steve started to bark commands to the rest of the team who obeyed them without question. But after a minute, he simply called, "Ideas, people!"
"What happened?" Bonnie asked him, standing next to him, watching as he desperately tried to stop the flow of damage.
"I have no idea, it just...."
The engineer who was sitting closest to the monitor on which Kitt's replies to his driver's almost-constant talking glanced at it. And then up. "Michael's gone," he said suddenly.
Bonnie raised her head. "He just needed the toilet!"
"No, I mean, Kitt's got nothing to hold his attention."
Steve caught on immediately. "So what would he do?"
There was a silence, and then Bonnie piped up, "Stretch."
"Like you do when you've been sitting in one position for hours. You lean back and stretch. He's reached out and touched every part of the system."
Steve's face fell. "The virus is in the neural nets, it's in him."

Jenny - the girl who'd given Michael a cigarette outside an hour or so earlier, threw back her chair and bolted for the door. She ran the short distance to the Gents toilets and threw the door open. The expression on Michael's face as he looked up was something she would never forget, even though at that moment it barely registered.
"You have to get back to him, now."
Michael didn't question it. Whether he was finished or not, she didn't find out. She simply let the door close and two seconds later he joined her, running into the lab ahead of her and dropping to his knees on the floor, grabbing up the headset and speaking into the mouth piece before he'd had a chance to put the headset on.
The cascade of failures paused.
_michael somethings wrong something happened
"I know, Pal. Just stay with me, okay?" He glanced at Bonnie who just nodded at him, waving her hand in a circular motion, indicating he should just keep talking. "I think they think you missed me, Kitt. So I'll stay here for now, if that's okay?"
_i would like that
"Good. I think I'm all out of jokes...."
"Hey! They're A-class jokes I've been telling you there, Buddy. But like I said, I've run out, so I'll have to start on stories from the academy."
_oh no really
"You are so ungrateful." He kept the affection clear and bright in his voice. "Okay, so, first year."

Bonnie could barely believe what had happened. As soon as Michael had spoken, what should have been a terminal failure in all systems had simply stopped. The readings had levelled out, albeit lower than before. It looked as if Steve was right, and the virus was sitting within the neural network, dormant until Kitt touched the rest of his systems.
"Now what?"
"We purge the neural nets. It's the only way. We firewall that system so that Kitt can't accidentally touch anything else, and then we purge... him."
Bonnie took that in. "And what will that do to him?"
"It shouldn't do anything to him. It should just clean out the virus."
"Well... we've never done this on a live AI before. Memory and disks are one thing. Kitt's... so much more than that."
Bonnie didn't like it, but she knew they didn't have a choice. She nodded. "All right. Let me get Michael to explain it to Kitt, then we'll do it."

Crouching before him, she handed him a piece of A4 paper on which she'd written a few simple statements.
"We're going to cut Kitt off from the rest of his systems except input and output to you and the monitor.
It'll scare him, but it won't hurt him. Keep him with you, keep him occupied.
We will then purge the virus directly from him.
He may feel uncomfortable.
Keep him calm.
Should take about three minutes once it starts.
When I tell you, ask him to access the other systems. Stop talking to him for a minute.
Explain this to him, wave when you're ready. When we start KEEP talking, about ANYTHING"
Michael read what she'd written and nodded. He kept hold of the paper.

"Kitt, as fascinating as my stories are, I just have to explain to you what Bonnie's going to do to make you better, okay?"
"They're going to cut you off from your systems, just leave you with me, just for a few minutes, all right?"
"Hey, you know me and computers, Kitt. I just do as I'm told. I'll be here, I won't leave you, I promise. Is that all right."
_i suppose so
"Okay. They need to purge you of the virus you've picked up. Bonnie says it'll be uncomfortable for a few minutes, but it shouldn't hurt."
"I know, Kitt. To be honest, so am I."
Michael smiled. "Because I need you, Pal. I don't wanna lose you to some simple virus."
_not simple complicated
He chuckled. "I'm sure it is, but that doesn't change the fact that I need you to make it through this for me. I'm counting on you to come through for me this time."
_ill try
"I know you will, Pal. And I'll be here, to hold your hand, so to speak. So, are we okay with this?"
"Good." He caught Bonnie's eye and waved. "You just listen to me, Kitt, don't worry about anything else that happens."

They firewalled the systems one by one, a very secure block that would let neither a virus, nor Kitt through it. Michael watched one or two erroneous characters appear on the screen, and just assumed Kitt was getting nervy as his interfaces with the rest of whatever he had started to be blocked to him.

When they shut him off from main memory storage, he was left with just enough to stay aware. One moment he'd known who he was, where he was, what was happening. The next, he knew nothing. He was intelligence simply existing somewhere. And there was a voice, calming, soothing, words that he understood even if they held no context. He continued to process the words, to listen.

Finally, they blocked his neural nets from the processor. Kitt ceased being able to think. He no longer had the capacity for fear and he simply held on to the vibrations of Michael's voice like a lifeline. If it were to vanish from his grasp, he would simply cease to hold up the neural pathways, would let them fail because he knew nothing of consequence.

Steve started the purge as soon as he could. Kitt's life was balanced on a knife-edge. But they could hear Michael's constant stream of words, some of them utterly meaningless, others a monologue on everything as he merged the history of his life with what he'd read in the newspapers the previous morning.

All the while, Kitt moved from node to node, following the vibrations of the voice that almost felt familiar somehow. It felt safe.

A shiver passed over him, like a whisper of something cold.

Then it hit. A wave of freezing agony that drove through him like steel, tearing him apart in an instant and putting him back together in the next. He screamed, yet the sound didn't leave him, instead it echoed around his own empty mind, round and round until he thought it might destroy him from the inside out. He lost the soothing voice, the vibrations that had been so calming. He lost everything but the sharp, deafening cry in his mind....

"Purge complete," Steve stated after what had seemed like a eternity. "Drop the firewalls. Slowly." He emphasised the last word as first processor, then memory, then all the other peripherals were opened up once more to the AI who existed there.

Kitt looked around.
_michael help me please help me
Michael couldn't remember a time when he'd been so relieved to be interrupted. "It's okay, Kitt." It was almost as if he could sense his partner's panic. "It's all right, Pal. I'm here, I've got you, you're safe. It's all right." He carried on the litany until he saw the next words appear on the screen.
_what happened
"Remember I told you, they were shutting your access off to the rest of your systems, to purge the virus from you."
_did it work
"I think we find out in a minute." He looked over to Bonnie, and she nodded. "Okay, Kitt. They want you to..." he glanced down at what she'd written to remind himself, "...access your other systems. Can you do that for me?"
"Do it slowly, Pal." He didn't quite understand why, he just thought he'd grasped what had happened when he'd gone to the bathroom.

One system by one, Kitt reached out and stretched himself carefully through the system. Traces tracked and monitored his every move, while the status readings were watched with critical eyes. They remained level, in fact, as Kitt gained confidence, they gained in integrity.
"We did it," Bonnie breathed quietly, as if there was a spell here she didn't dare break. Even Michael had fallen quiet. The figures rose, from 23% to 35%, upwards to 54%, 62%, 76%. The relief in the lab was almost tangible.

Michael just wanted to hug someone. He let himself slide down the wall until his ass hit the floor. Pulling his knees up, he lowered his forehead to them, closed his eyes and let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
"Welcome back, Kitt," he murmured, mostly to himself.
"It's good to be back." Michael started, his head snapping up before he realized that the voice had come through the headset. Not the cold, neutral tones of the base station, but the warm, familiar voice of his partner. He smiled and dropped his head back to his knees. He wished he could express everything he was feeling right now, wish he could just let Kitt know somehow.

But maybe Kitt did know, because just for a moment he thought he felt a little warmer than before.


Michael dropped into the driver's seat of the car and smiled as the door closed itself. "Good to be home?"
There was a satisfied hum from the voice modulator. "I feel good," Kitt admitted, a little self-consciously.
"Don't you ever do that to me again."
"It wasn't on purpose, Michael."
His driver frowned. "Yeah, well, if you would go mixing with all these strange computer networks...."
"It's part of my job," the AI responded, indignantly. "When you give up dodging bullets, I'll consider staying on my own side of their Firewalls."
Michael chuckled as he leaned forward to fire up the engine. "Like that's ever going to happen."
"My point precisely."

Bonnie watched as Michael peeled the beautiful black TransAm out down the drive, crunching gravel under the wide alloys. Everything was all right again, until the next time. She could only hope that they wouldn't have too many crisis while Michael Knight was working for them. Then again, she'd come to realize, over the last twenty-four hours, just how good he was in a crisis. And just how deeply he did really care for his partner.

Smiling to herself, she finally decided it was time to get some sleep.