An: Yet another plot bunny that won't leave me alone. This is a one-shot unless you want more, and it has nothing to do with the other story I had going by the same name. It could be thought of as a tie-in to The Best Ride and Sisters Knight, but you don't have to read those to understand this or vice versa. That in mind, please enjoy this one-shot.
For Those We Love
"Approximately 20 minutes." Kitt responded. "Relax, John. We'll get there in time." The man in the driver's seat, John Clay, simply nodded tightly. Kitt could tell he was stressed. Then again, the man lived in a permanent state of stress. Even at barely thirty, his blonde hair was streaked with grey and blue eyes had crow's feet at the corners. He reached up to adjust his tie. Kitt had to hold back his contempt. Why was he wearing a suit and tie when he only knew he was going to have to run? It wasn't something Michael would have done.
Michael hated monkey suits, as he put it.
"Say, Kitt, I have a question for you."
This time Kitt couldn't hide his irritation. "If I tell you to be quiet, will you ask anyway?" he spat out.
John ignored him. "Do you have a thing against me? You don't treat me the same way you treat Mr. Miles and Bonnie."
Kitt had to wonder how someone as brilliant a scholar as this man could be so stupid at times. Of course he had a thing against him, but it wasn't something John could control. He couldn't help the fact that he wasn't Michael. "You don't treat me the same way you treat Bonnie and Devon. Why should I be any different?" he asked.
"You're a computer, Kitt." John pointed out in his reasonable voice. "Unless someone programmed you a particular way, you shouldn't have anything against humans in general, much less me in particular."
And there was another reason Kitt couldn't stand the man. "I do wish you wouldn't refer to me that way."
John shrugged. "Why? That's what you are."
Kitt fell silent. John sighed. "All right, Kitt. I'll drop the subject. Let's stop and get something to eat, huh? Mr. Miles can wait a few minutes for his report." He gently guided the Trans-Am into the parking lot of a diner and put it in park. "I'll be back." Kitt didn't respond. John sighed again and got out. Kitt was relieved when the door slammed shut, never mind that it was a bit too hard for his liking. At last he was alone.
How long had it been? Two months since Michael had – two very long months. John was the third driver Kitt had gone through. Devon had been pleased that Kitt would actually talk to him. The other two thought Devon was feeding them a line about an intelligent car. At least John had treated Kitt with some semblance of respect. The only reason Kitt had said anything to him at all was because John was about to press the eject button at 120 mph. As much as Kitt hated the man, it went against his programming to let him smear his guts across the highway.
That might cause a traffic accident.
Distracted as he was by his own thoughts, Kitt almost didn't hear the commotion from behind the diner. For lack of anything better to do – John hardly needed his constant surveillance and Kitt had refused to allow him to have a comm. link – Kitt listened in on the conversation.
"I just need a few more days!"
"That's not good enough. I told you the rent was due yesterday. I can't let you be late all the time –"
"I'm not late all the time, just most of the time." the first voice protested. There was something so very familiar about that voice, that slightly quirky tone. Kitt tried to zero in on the voice, but there was a lead canister blocking his scanners. Kitt silently ran through the list of curses he had picked up from Michael. He hated the few things in the world that actually used lead. It was such a –
Wait. Wait. The two men moved into scanner view. Kitt's processor almost shut down in shock.
The oldest of the two – the man who had spoken second – shook his head. "I want to give you a second chance, Mike, I really do. I just can't afford it. You know that as well as I. This is a business."
The man he called Mike heaved a sigh. "I know, Jay. I know." He brushed his hands off on his pants. "Maybe we could work out a different agreement. I could do some leg work for you."
Jay shook his head again. "No. You wouldn't like the kind of work I do."
Mike barked out a laugh. "I don't doubt that." He took a step back. "I'll see ya around, Jay." Jay gave him a brief nod and walked back into the diner. Mike slumped against the brick wall. Kitt quickly locked on to him, getting as clear a visual as he could.
It wasn't needed. Kitt knew exactly who he was. He revved his engine, trying to get the man's attention. Apparently that was all it took. Two months suddenly seemed like such a short amount of time. The man's eyes widened in shock and relief. He took a step forward.
Kitt saw his mouth form a cherished word.
The AI quickly shifted into reverse, searching for an easy way out of the parking lot. Trust his dumb luck to get a driver who insisted on parking where it was closest to an entrance and not an exit. The only route out and to the man was through another parked car. Kitt was willing to risk it. He revved his engine again, getting ready to take out the poor, defenseless Prius (not that it was a total waste). The man's eyes flickered around, searching for a path to him. Kitt felt elated. He recognized him!
Suddenly, a shadowed figure appeared behind the man. Kitt quickly adjusted his scan. This new person was armed, and coming straight at Mike. Kitt couldn't stop himself. "Michael – run!" He used his voice projector to sent the sound directly to Mike.
The hoped-for reaction. Mike took a quick look behind him and darted off, drawing the shadow with him. Kitt backed out of his spot and found his way back to the street, following Mike's signal as far as he could. There was nothing he could do to help now – Mike was too far away and Kitt couldn't get back into the back alleys where the chase was. Suddenly, the signal vanished. Kitt slammed on his brakes and skid onto the sidewalk.
That was where John found him three hours later, looking rather hassled and strained. "Kitt? What's wrong, Kitt?" he demanded. Kitt didn't respond. John ran his hand across the hood. "Are you going to let me in?" Kitt unlocked the door. John slid inside and pressed a few buttons. "Mr. Miles, I need to talk to you."
Devon's face appeared on Kitt's screen. "What's wrong, Mr. Clay?"
"Kitt's malfunctioned. I need to bring him in."
"So what's going on?" Bonnie asked, walking up to Kitt. They were once again back in the semi, but this time it was John leaning against Kitt's hood as if he belonged there. John shrugged.
"I don't know. He took off and hasn't spoken to me since. I don't know what's gone wrong." he said.
"Maybe nothing went wrong." Devon said quietly.
"Very astute, Devon." Kitt said darkly. "The malfunction was not on my part. It was on yours."
"Mine?" Devon sounded startled. Kitt had never sounded so angry or hurt. "What have done to upset you?"
"You told me Michael Knight was dead." Kitt hissed. "You lied to me, Devon."