You'll Get Used to It
"Mike, have you talked with Kitt?"
Looking up at Zoë, he grinned. "Considering that he's my partner?"
She looked over her shoulder at the AI, who was currently conversing with Karr, watching the two young women cleaning his undercarriage before getting out of the way and lowering the older AI back onto the ground. "No, have you really talked with him? As in asked him if he understands what he's going to do."
Mike paused his over-confidant reply in order to answer truthfully. "He knows that there's a high chance that the KARR-2 will be destroyed, and that he might have to play an integral role in that mission. He doesn't want to, but he knows that there's a high chance of that possibility." Crossing his arms over his chest, the former Army Ranger watched as Kitt moved out of the way to let Karr roll forward. "He's really begun to shine, Zoë. He's really becoming his own person."
"He's a machine . . . how can he become a person?" came the soft query.
Mike grinned lopsidedly and asked, "Zoë, have you talked with Kitt?"
She gave him a frustrated look. "I talk with him all the time, Mike."
"Not our Kitt."
She blinked then looked to where Billy was sitting slack-jawed as the CPU of the original Kitt was explaining something away. Mike grinned. "Go sit with Billy. Kitt's been talking about a lot of his former exploits, adventures, and missions. I think that you'll like what he has to say. And I think that you'll understand that he's more human than a lot of those who are around us." He walked over to where Gabrielle was moving over to sit against Karr's left fender, passed the cars, and walked into the kitchen. He looked to his left, where Torres and Charles were having a quiet but heated argument. Torres was close to snarling, and Charles was keeping calm.
Mike kept the partition between himself and their line-of-sight while he started to quietly make the coffee, listening to what they were arguing about.
"This was completely out of line, Charles!"
The older man sighed. "Alex, there was no way that we could let this menace slide."
"So you thought that you'd hijack Kitt and take care of this problem?"
"I honestly didn't have anything to do with Kitt coming here."
"Then who called him," Torres snapped.
"You already heard him. And you disregarded him."
There was a pause, then a low tone of a growl, which got Graiman to speak again. "What's that look for?"
"That killer out there called him?! The KARR-1?"
"That Karr has learned something. He has learned respect for life. He's reformed."
Mike heard an angry rev from outside, identifying the engine to that of the Firebird in comparison to the Mustang. He winced. Karr was listening to this.
"I think you should understand that the KARR-1 has learned much since his activation." Charles paused before continuing, possibly to evaluate what reaction he was getting out of Alex Torres, Mike assumed. He silently stirred in the sugar and cream to his sister's coffee, and the cream for Sarah's coffee while listening to Charles' continuation. "I think that you have a lot to learn about the AIs that were activated before Mike and Sarah were even born."
"I don't need to learn anything about defunct former projects that went awry, causing destruction and multiple deaths. They should have been permanently offlined years ago!"
That was when Mike heard Gabrielle's warning shout, followed by the solid slam of something hitting the wall. He took the coffee out, handed Sarah's mug to her and the other two to Gabrielle. Without thinking, he flung himself between the wall that separated Karr and Torres, flinging his arms wide and taking a broad stance. "Karr!"
He heard the car roar forward again, and flinched, turning his head away before hearing the tires squeal. Something brushed his legs, right below his knees. He heard the deep growl of Karr's voice causing his jeans to tremble with the bass. "Move."
"I'm not going to move," he replied, his voice quiet, not scared, but respectful of the power that he was facing down.
"I do not want to harm you. Now move." But Karr didn't edge forward, but the powerful engine under the hood snarled.
"If you harm Torres, you'll harm Doc Graiman."
"I will not hurt or kill Charles Graiman."
"The chances of accidentally hurting him is not something I want to take, no matter how much I hate Torres." Mike drew in an unsteady breath. "Neither me or Michael, and especially Gabrielle would let you be offlined. None of us would ever let that come to pass. I promise you. I would and will do everything in my power to keep that fate from happening to you."
Gabrielle watched as her brother and her AI faced each other off. She saw how Sarah was frozen to the spot, how everyone was focused upon this conflict. Then slowly, slowly, Karr backed up, reversing into his maintenance berth, turned his lights off, but kept his scanner running, the golden line smoothly running back and forth with its distinctive hiss.
Mike followed Karr, and came to stand beside the AI's shell, just beside a fender, leaning against it casually, being a man's man by not getting emotional, just reassuring. Gabrielle walked up with both mugs just in time to hear Karr murmur, "I almost run you over, and you come after me to rest against my fender?"
"Hey, you didn't bust my kneecaps," Mike retorted, accepting his black coffee from Gabrelle, holding his hand out for her mug. "Up on his hood. I think he needs it."
She nodded, and honestly, Mike classified how she sat up there as "cuddling." Smiling at his adorable little sister half-curled up on Karr's hood, he set his coffee on the workbench and grabbed a blanket off of the couch to settle around Gabe, tucking her feet in and patting Karr's hood before moving over to lean against Kitt.
"I wish that you would sit on my hood like she does on Karr."
Mike's head swiveled to look at the dashboard of his AI, and he smiled, then obliged, chuckling, letting his legs hang down off of the side in case either of them had to move. "Got lonely, partner?"
Kitt didn't answer for a long moment. "I enjoy your company, Mike."
The man smiled and patted the side of the car. "I enjoy yours, too. I don't know how I managed without you, Kitt."
"Oh, burn," Zoë whispered, grinning as Sarah faced Mike off.
He stumbled for a moment, then put his mug down and held a hand out to her. "Care to join me?"
"I suppose I could be won over." Sarah accepted his hand, sitting beside him on Kitt's hood.
The young AI released a low sound of happiness, causing the three humans in close proximity to him to smile. He was really learning, and he was really becoming his own person, just as Mike had hoped he would be. He picked his coffee up and rested his free hand against the metal of his partner's shell, rubbing it a few times in reassurance.
This was how Knight Research should have been running from the start.
An engine snarled to life.
Gabrielle's hands stilled from where she had been working on a report of her diplomatic mission to Canada regarding the return of a criminal who had escaped to America. International stuff annoyed her, and Karr was unhappy about the amount of water that was prevalent in the northern country. "Karr? Don't kill Torres."
Her comm-link relayed his response. "I am not running my engine, Gabrielle. Neither is Junior."
She froze for a half second, then scrambled out of the room and darted through the old mansion halls to get to the garage. The hired staff of the mansion knew the Knights very well, and knew that if there was to be someone running, there was usually a good reason behind it. They also knew to get out of the way. Too many people had been literally run over while either the elder or younger Knight was called out on an emergency. Usually, however, it was the newer staff who were knocked over, and when they demanded that the older staff stand by them in defense, they quickly found out that the older staff took the side of the Knights. Why?
Because there were usually lives on the line.
Once Gabrielle was in the garage, she skid to a halt, staring at the car now idling.
Her dad was sitting behind the wheel, grinning like he was young again, looking ready to peel out. She grinned and got out of the way, darting into Karr's open door, seeing her elder brother diving into Junior's seat, and all just in time to take off, chasing after the refurbished Knight Industries Two Thousand with yells of exhilaration. All three AIs synched up communication links and were passing information among themselves while Kitt tried out his new body, getting used to the feel of the concept car.
"Damn, he's fast! Karr, what is he?"
"A Firebird, just as I am. Only his is the concept for the 2011 version."
"It's pretty hot."
"That's what you had said about me."
She heard her father and brother laughing at her. "Sugar-bear, nothing is as sizzling as the 2002 Trans-Am Firebird."
"That's better," Karr said smugly. "Now never call me 'sugar-bear' again."
"Except for a Mustang," Mike shot in as he and Junior slid behind Karr and Gabe on the highway, still following Kitt.
"I have to disagree," Kitt's tenor replied. "Trans-Ams are better than Mustangs."
"Guess you're outnumbered, boys!" Gabe replied as she gunned Karr's engine, shooting ahead of her father and taking the lead. Time to play!
Their celebratory joyride lasted long into the night.
Author's Note: I want to thank you all for all your reviews! I'm sorry that I haven't gotten around to telling you that in the previous chapter. About half of this chapter had been part of Chapter 4, which is why this has been updated so quickly. It'll probably be a week or so before I'm able to update with Chapter 6. I hope that you enjoyed this chapter! Please let me know what you think! Reviews inspire me!