Disclaimer: I don't own Knight Rider or any of its characters. No copyright infringement is intended.

My thanks to Tomy for beta reading, Cyberkat for tense help (although its my fault if I still got it wrong), and Vega for encouragement.

WARNING: This story is dark - very, very dark. It's rated R for graphic descriptions of violence. Please don't read it if you are sensitive to those sorts of things. Let me repeat - really, really dark.

-knightshade





Often times we're stronger than we think we are . . .



Reeling



"Is this desire,

Enough,

Enough,

To lift us higher,

To lift above."

-PJ Harvey



It wasn't so much a road anymore, as a set of loosely held together chunks of asphalt that sometimes shifted and caused the tires to plunge into the larger gaps. The sun beat down on the mass of man-made black rocks, causing the heat to rise off of them in shimmering waves. The desert was stiflingly still and quiet, except for the whine of the turbine engine that propelled the black car along the remains of the road.

Bonnie half-heartedly lifted her hand to turn up the air conditioner and found the controls annoyingly just out of reach. The car had been designed with someone else in mind - someone taller, with broader shoulders, and a much longer reach. She was about to lean forward when the small orange light above the control flicked on by itself.

"Thanks," she said quietly, not expecting a response.

They hardly talked. Both were shocked silent and had been for most of the desperate flight away from Los Angeles. The few words that had passed between them were pleasantries. She didn't even know where they were going, but she trusted Kitt's judgment. He was taking the less traveled roads, driving deeper into the desolate desert.

The light reflecting off of the beige hilltops was blinding, but sunglasses hadn't been one of the items she had thought to bring. She had just stuffed whatever was handy into a bag she kept in the back of the semi.

Bonnie leaned her head back against the seat and closed her eyes, briefly. She had no desire to fall asleep, but her eyes were tired of the harsh glare. It was a toss up as to whether staying awake was better or worse than falling asleep. Slightly better, she thought. She kept reminding herself that she needed to buy sunglasses the next time they were at a gas station, but every time they stopped, she forgot. Or maybe she was just punishing herself.

A fear of flying. That was really the only reason she was alive. But her mind liked to twist that and tell her that a fear of flying was the only reason they were dead. If Kitt had been with Michael, instead of with her, Michael would still be alive, and maybe, so would Devon. Bonnie was going to regret winning that argument for the rest of her life.

After they had wrapped up their last case, Devon had insisted on flying home. He had said it was too long of a drive and he had too much to do. Of course Bonnie hadn't wanted to fly, but the prospect of driving the whole way by herself hadn't been appealing either. Normally Michael would have taken Kitt and gone on ahead of the semi, but Kitt had suffered significant damage when a pair of bullets managed to sneak through the grill protecting his scanner. They hadn't come anywhere near his CPU, but some of his other systems had been malfunctioning. At the time, she had argued that it would be dangerous for Michael to drive all the way across the country with Kitt in that condition. Now, her guilt told her that she would have been right behind them if they had needed her. But it had just made sense to have Michael fly home and Kitt stay with her - she would have needed him for a few days either way. She'd promised he would be good as new when they got back to the Foundation. So Michael and Devon had flown home and she had lived up to her promise. Kitt was back to normal by the time they arrived.

"Kitt, can we stop for a minute?" she asked.

"Yes, Bonnie."

There was a slight drag as the car decelerated and stopped along the shoulder of the road. To avoid being spotted, they only risked stopping in towns when they needed gas. When they just needed a break, they pulled off the road and found a secluded spot to rest and let Bonnie stretch her legs. The fewer people who saw them, the safer they would be.

The crunch of gravel under her feet and the slight rustle of the wind through the scrub brush seemed much too noisy when Bonnie got out of the car. They were louder than nothing, which made them deafening. She walked a ways from Kitt and stopped, looking out over the barren wasteland where they were hiding. It went on forever, sun-baked and endlessly thirsty. It was almost as if she could feel the dry, hot air taking the moisture from her body. She wished it could take everything. She was afraid that if she sat down in the desert, she wouldn't get up again. It would be easier that way, to just lie down and die, but then who would take care of Kitt? Even through the haze in her mind, she recognized that he was still her responsibility.

Bonnie shivered and wrapped her arms around herself. The air seemed to be warming only the surface of her skin and leaving the inside of her body cold. The fabric of her clothes felt strange, like everything else she touched. She felt . . . insulated. Like somehow, the life force that animated her had pulled back and deserted everything within an inch of the outside world. It was holed up and hiding too.

* * *

It was almost nightfall. The sun had set twenty minutes earlier and the sky was a brilliant, royal blue that faded slightly near the horizon. Kitt watched as Bonnie slept fitfully in the driver's seat. It was strange having her there. He knew it was probably normal to feel out of sorts, but the whole situation was beyond his ability to grasp. It didn't help that as soon as they had left the city, he had locked away all memories of what had happened. He had pushed them to the back of his memory module and cordoned them off, much like he would do with a virus. He knew that Michael was dead, but beyond that, he didn't have the details. Now it had gotten to the point where he was afraid of what was lurking in that dark corner. He had never sealed off his own access to anything before. What didn't he want to know? Wasn't the fact that Michael was dead terrible enough?

Kitt didn't normally have any sort of physical reaction to his emotions, but now, for some reason, he felt like there was a crushing weight on him. Everything was responding slowly, like his system was bogged down by a difficult task, but he wasn't doing anything except driving. Even accessing his voice module seemed complicated and not worth the effort, but he didn't understand why.

The only thing Kitt understood was that Michael was gone, and he had no idea what he was going to do.

* * *

Bonnie found herself back in the semi again. She kept telling the driver to go faster. There was something she needed to do, somewhere she needed to go, but the truck just wouldn't move fast enough.

In the next instant, they were back at the Foundation. Bonnie knew that there was something in the garage she didn't want to see. She had that foreboding feeling that told her something was terribly wrong. But she left the semi anyway - she always did. She walked out into the garage and flicked on the overhead fluorescents. Then everything in her head went dark and she had to lean against the black truck to keep from falling over. Michael was lying against the wall of the garage, his head tilted to the side, his eyes open and fixed. Lengths of ugly bloodstained cord bound his wrists and ankles. She heard the same annoying screaming that burned in her ears every time she found herself there. It always took her a minute to realize that she was the one doing the screaming.

She didn't want to, but she couldn't help looking again. Michael was lying in a large pool of his own dark red blood, several organs exposed from a nasty jagged cut through his abdomen. There were several smaller cuts on his arms and legs. Three of his fingers were severed and laying next to his body.

Bonnie felt her stomach constrict and the world start to spin. Then she was in Devon's office. She didn't want to go there -- she knew what she was going to find -- but in her dreams, as soon as she fainted, that's where she ended up. Bonnie stared beyond the desk at the chair that was turned away from her. She struggled to stop, but her dream self walked forward, around the desk, to find Devon slumped in the chair. He had been killed as horribly as Michael had been. She reached out to touch his neck, and his mouth moved. A thin river of fresh blood spilt along his chin.

"Why did you let this happen?" his body asked, his eyes still dead.

Bonnie lurched forward, waking up from the nightmare, stifling a scream. She was still in Kitt. They were still driving in the desert. Breathing heavily and near panic, she managed to gasp a plea. "Kitt, please stop."

Kitt complied and she quickly got out. She doubled over and was forced to contend with a bout of dry heaves.

Eventually her stomach settled down and she curled into a fetal position, leaning against Kitt, resting her cheek on the cool, smooth metal of his skin. She concentrated on her breathing, because it was all she could do. She still couldn't cry.

This was the first time Devon had spoken to her in her dreams. Usually she was just forced to relive finding him. Now her guilt was threading itself into her nightmares and making it even harder to cope. Bonnie knew without a doubt that both Michael and Devon were dead when she found them, but it hadn't been that long. The blood around them had still been wet and they hadn't been completely cold to the touch. If she had just gotten back a little sooner . . .

"Bonnie?" Kitt asked tentatively.

She didn't respond. She couldn't find her voice just yet.

"You need to eat something. It's been days."

"I can't," she said, irritated that he would even suggest it at the moment.

"Then at least drink something," Kitt prodded.

Bonnie didn't get up until she felt her legs would hold her. She was shaking and the desert chill had her teeth chattering. Kitt popped the trunk and she opened the cooler they had stashed there. Inside were granola bars, bottles of juice, and bananas that had already turned brown. They had bought the provisions just outside of Los Angeles and continued to fill the cooler with fresh ice when they could, but Bonnie had hardly touched it. Everything tasted like sand.

Most of the ice in the cooler had melted, so she was forced to plunge her hand into the cold water to pull out a bottle of juice. She gently closed the trunk, but instead of climbing into the car, she walked passed Kitt's hood and headed out into the desert.

"Bonnie, where are you going?" he asked anxiously.

"For a walk," she answered. She didn't know why Kitt hadn't just ejected her from the car and driven on, on his own. There was no reason he should want to stay with her. She was responsible for the death of his partner.

"It's dark. You won't be able to see," he said

"I prefer it that way."

Bonnie was annoyed when Kitt flipped up his headlights and spotlighted her as she walked away from him. Determined that she was causing him more harm than good, Bonnie used the light to walk faster. She heard Kitt's engine turn over and then the crunching as he drove over the shrubs and gravel behind her.

Bonnie stopped and turned around, her arms crossed defiantly across her chest. "What are you doing?"

"Going for a walk."

Bonnie started to roll her eyes angrily, but caught herself and squeezed them shut instead. "Leave me alone."

"I can't."

"Yes, you can. There are several people who can take care of you. You can go back to the Foundation." She paused and drew in a breath. "Why would you want to stay with me, Kitt. I got them killed."

"It wasn't your fault."

"If I had let you and Michael go . . ."

"We don't know that that would have changed anything."

Bonnie clamped her jaw shut; this was why she didn't want to talk. Of course it would have changed things. They would have been alerted that there were intruders. Michael would have been inside Kitt where he was safe. But a part of her still recognized that she didn't want to lash out at Kitt.

"Bonnie, I miss them as much as you do," Kitt said, softly. "I miss Michael so much, I don't know what to do. It hurts to remember him."

Bonnie didn't say anything.

"Please come back. You're all I have left. I can't lose you too."

There was a long pause between them before Bonnie dropped her arms to her sides and walked back to the car. She lingered next to the open door, gazing out at the desert, her jaw set. Then she took her place in the driver's seat.

"Thank you," Kitt said as he backed up and rejoined the road that was taking them wherever they were going.

* * *

"Bonnie," Kitt said.

She looked up, surprised to hear his voice, unprompted. "Yes?"

"We're being followed."

Bonnie sighed, thinking that she just couldn't take anymore. She turned around to look through the rear windshield, squinting against the reflections of the early morning sun. She couldn't see anyone. "Are you sure?"

"I'm afraid so. They're staying far enough away that they're only visible when we're on long stretches of straight road. But I've been monitoring them for a while now. Two men in a gray sedan."

Kitt paused. "And I'm afraid they've been following us since we left Los Angeles. I believe they must have changed cars because I noticed this vehicle a few miles outside of the city, but it turned off. I'm sorry, I missed the replacement car."

"It's okay." Bonnie knew she should be scared, but she didn't have the energy. Maybe this was just how it was supposed to play out. "What would you and . . ." She bit off the rest of the sentence, unable to say his name. "What should we do?"

"The desert gets rocky about 30 miles from our current position. There are several smaller hills and valleys where we could lose them. Then we could cross the open desert and take another road out. The vehicle they're traveling in isn't fit for off-road driving."

Bonnie nodded. "Okay."

"There's one problem. We'll have to travel a significant distance through the desert and I'm already at a point where I'm going to need to refuel soon. There's a small gas station a few miles from here, but I don't think its safe to stop."

Bonnie craned her neck to look behind them again. There was still no sign of their pursuers. "Can we put a little more distance between us and them before we get to it?"

"Of course."

"Then we'll just have to be quick."

The car accelerated gently, causing the bumps in the road to be a little more jarring and the scenery to pass with a little more blur. They had been driving above the legal limit, but nowhere near Kitt's top speed.

Within a few minutes, they came upon the gas station Kitt had mentioned. The sign outside the 'town' said Vasten, but there was nothing there but a gas station, a trailer, a diner, and the sign. It was a dusty way station in the middle of nowhere and it looked completely deserted.

They pulled into the gas station and for a moment Bonnie was afraid that it was abandoned, but she peered through the dirty windows of the storefront and saw someone move. The pumps were the old style that didn't take credit cards. She had been avoiding using them anyway, in case someone was monitoring her accounts. She got out and started to fill Kitt's tank while nervously watching the road.

"They've increased their speed, Bonnie," Kitt warned.

She glanced at the ridge overlooking the valley they were in and saw something glint. That had to be the car. It was at least 15 miles away, so she figured they had time. Nervously she waited until the pump shut off, and then hurried inside to pay the bill.

The outside of the store gave the impression that it was about to fall down and the inside wasn't any more confidence inspiring. Everything looked old and used up. There was one refrigerated case that held milk, soda, and a variety of beer, but the glass was cracked and there was a puddle of water underneath it on the floor. The lone rack of candy and snacks was covered in dust. An older man wearing a baseball cap stood behind the wooden counter, absentmindedly wiping down the cash register with a dingy, gray rag. There were several rolls of lottery scratch tickets in the glass case below him.

"Nice, day, huh," the man said as Bonnie quickly pulled out her wallet to pay for the gas.

"Can I get you anything else?" he asked.

"No, that's . . ." Bonnie froze as she looked up at the man for the first time. She recognized him as one of the goons that they had been after in Washington. There was a brief moment of recognition when he realized that she knew.

Bonnie darted for the door, and yelled Kitt's name, but the man burst from behind the counter too quickly and caught her arm. She turned and went for his eyes, but he saw it coming and caught her hand. He yanked her arm roughly behind her, and forced her back against the wall so that he could get an arm against her neck. Then he pulled out a long, vicious looking knife and held it just below her jaw line.

Kitt pulled up to the door, but it had all happened too quickly. Bonnie knew there was nothing he could do to help her.

"Stay put, or I'll slit her ear to ear," the man said, motioning through the open door at Kitt. He wearily pulled Bonnie away from the wall, and slid behind her, keeping the knife at her throat. He pulled her upper body back against him and clamped his free arm tightly around her waist.

"Now we're just going to wait, nice and quietly, until my friends arrive," he said, ominously.

* * *

It seemed like an eternity before the nondescript gray sedan pulled up to the gas station. The front doors of the car opened and two men in business suits got out, one holding an automatic weapon. Kitt was stunned. The other man was Brian Teverly. He was the whistle blower who had come forward in their case in Washington. He had helped put his brother, Chad, in prison for racketeering. How could he be involved with this?

"You didn't think you were going to get away with destroying our little business did you?" Teverly asked, aiming his comments in Kitt's direction. "Because of your meddling, I had to sell out my brother to survive."

"You were involved?" Kitt asked.

"Yes, I was involved," Teverly snapped. "I planned and orchestrated the whole thing. When I realized the Foundation's merry little band was looking into it, I knew the only chance I had was to play the turncoat. I managed to get out unscathed, but you destroyed everything."

Kitt understood. He and Bonnie had been driven out here on purpose. It had seemed like the vast desert would be the perfect place to hide, but now it just meant there was no one who could help them. Teverly had probably even known exactly when he was going to need gas. They had been completely overmatched from the start.

Teverly carefully walked around Kitt's prow so that he was standing between Kitt and Bonnie on the passenger side of the car. "Open your door."

"No, Kitt," Bonnie said as the knife was pushed against her throat.

Kitt sat motionless.

"Open the door. Unless you want to see Bonnie here eviscerated like your other friends," he said with a malicious grin. "She'd be a lot more fun to torture too. We were a little pressed for time in Los Angeles, but out here, we have all the time in the world."

Eviscerated? Kitt reeled at the word. Could that possibly be right? The prospect horrified him. He contemplated accessing his memories just to make sure it wasn't true, but now wasn't the time. He needed to get them out of this. He said nothing.

"I'm not going to ask you again. If you don't open up, you'll watch her die a slow, hideous death."

Bonnie shuddered but didn't move. Kitt knew he didn't have any choice. He released his door, and Teverly pulled it open, resting his hand on the window. "Graham, the gun please."

"NO!!!" Bonnie screamed and with all her strength brought her head forward, then reversed direction and slammed it into the man's chin. It was just enough to knock him off balance and she turned and threw her elbow into his stomach, as hard as she could.

Kitt took the distraction as an opportunity to put the car in reverse and accelerate. His door knocked both Teverly and Graham off their feet. Graham hit his head on the concrete and went limp, apparently unconscious. Bonnie dove for the gun that had fallen to the ground in the confusion. She got to the butt just as Teverly grabbed the barrel. He looked up at her and laughed before pushing the gun back at her. Kitt cringed as the unexpected motion caught Bonnie completely off guard and caused her to stumble backward. Somehow she managed to cling to her grasp of the gun and pull it with her. Teverly followed through and the butt ended up smashing into her stomach. She grimaced and fell to the ground. He laughed at her again. "Stupid girl."

Bonnie rolled on her side, one arm wrapped around her stomach, tears in her eyes. Teverly picked up the gun and turned back toward Kitt. Bonnie pulled in one leg and kicked him as hard as she could in the back of the knee. He pitched forward and lost the gun. Again the two of them scrambled for it.

"Bonnie, duck!!" Kitt yelled.

He was thankful that she didn't question, and just reacted. It was too late for the man behind her to stop his forward momentum. The knife sailed by her head and planted itself firmly in Teverly's neck. Teverly looked up, shocked, as blood started to pour from his mouth. The man who had previously held Bonnie stared back, just as shocked.

"Bonnie, the gun!"

She lunged forward and grabbed the weapon from Teverly. She turned to point it at the only man still standing.

He grinned. "You wouldn't."

She stared back, shaking. Kitt didn't know what she was going to do. He was worried this wasn't over yet.

"Give me the gun," the man said.

He laughed and took a step forward.

Bonnie pulled the trigger. The bullet pierced his left shoulder, and he spun backward, falling to the ground, grasping at his arm. Bonnie stood up slowly, keeping the gun on him. She walked toward him, her face a mask of rage and pain.

"Bonnie, don't." Kitt said.

She stood over him, shaking violently, the gun still pointed at him.

"BONNIE!!"

She tilted the gun up and rammed the butt of it into his head. A deep gash appeared above his ear and he dropped to the ground, unconscious, but alive.

Bonnie slowly checked to see that all three of them were incapacitated. Kitt noticed the fierce shutter that passed through her. She slowly lowered the gun and put it on the passenger's seat. Then she stumbled over to the driver's door, which Kitt opened for her, and fell hard into the bucket seat. Kitt was frightened by how badly she was shaking.

"Bonnie, are you okay?" he asked.

She shook her head 'no' and tears welled up in her eyes. She lowered her head into her hands and started sobbing.

Kitt did a medical scan and determined there was nothing seriously wrong. She would have some bad bruises, but there wasn't any internal damage from the hit she'd taken to the stomach. He quietly closed the doors and darkened the windows, letting her cry.

Kitt watched silently, deciding that it was probably healthy that she was finally grieving. It was something he hadn't done yet. They were safe, perhaps now was the appropriate time to remove the blocks he had put around his memories. He hesitated, remembering what Teverly had said. Maybe it was best if he never remembered.

But then he looked at Bonnie. She didn't have that option. What would she say if she knew that he had just shut the whole thing out? And would it be right to never remember what had happened to his partner - the person who meant the most to him in the world? Was it right to just shut out the memory of his death because it was painful? Kitt didn't think so, but every time he went near those memories, he felt an overwhelming anxiety.

Finally Kitt decided he had stalled long enough. In a moment of courage, he ran the subroutine that unlocked the memories.

He remembered returning to the Foundation, late at night after most everyone had left. He wasn't actively scanning, so he didn't even realize there was a problem. He was surprised that the garage was dark though. Normally Michael would be there, waiting for him to return home.

Bonnie finished a few things and then lowered the ramp. Kitt wasn't in any hurry to leave the semi - it didn't matter to him where he was parked. But then he heard her take in a sharp breath and scream. Startled, his whole system responded. He immediately scanned the garage and was horrified by what he found.

"Michael?" he asked, not willing to believe what the medical scans were telling him.

Without being consciously aware of what he was doing, Kitt slowly backed the car down the ramp and turned to look at the scene before him. The look on Michael's face. The image seared its way through his mind, burning everything it touched. He was shocked, unable to think of what he was supposed to do. Bonnie had backed away and was leaning against the semi, shaking.

"Michael?!" he asked again, hoping that there was something wrong with his systems. Someone was playing a sick joke. This couldn't be real!

Bonnie took a step toward Michael's body, but then backed away sharply, doubled over, and threw up. Kitt still didn't know what to do. He sat there, unable to move, useless.

He heard Bonnie whisper Devon's name before bolting for the entrance to the main building. It finally dawned on Kitt to scan for others. There wasn't anyone else alive in the building, but Devon's body was in his office. Kitt tried to call out to Bonnie, to warn her that Devon was dead, but he was too slow. She was already gone.

Kitt turned his attention back to Michael. The look on his face. There was no getting passed it. He wished that Bonnie had thought to close his eyes before she left. They were haunted and frightening.

Struggling against the horror of what had happened, Kitt reluctantly edged towards Michael. He positioned himself so that his wheels spanned Michael's legs and then continued to drive forward. He covered over the parts of Michael's body that had been horribly hurt and mangled, making the wounds disappear beneath his undercarriage. He was trying to shield and protect Michael, even though he knew it was too late. He wanted to take everything away, to fix it so that nothing had ever happened. He stopped when his prow was gently touching Michael's slumped head, just above the jaw.

"I'm sorry, Michael," he whispered. "Please. I'm sorry I left you alone. Please don't leave me, Michael. I'm sorry."

He kept repeating the words over and over, but Michael wasn't responding. He was gone.

At some point, Kitt realized that Bonnie was back in the garage, leaning against the wall for support, watching him. She was deathly pale and he was sorry that he hadn't been thinking quickly enough to stop her. He should have spared her from having to see Devon too.

Kitt backed away from the memories and tried to focus on the present. The core of his being was shaken. He remembered the rest in bits and pieces. He had seen the car approaching on long range scans, had realized that they were in danger, and had coaxed Bonnie into getting her bag. He remembered fleeing the Foundation, leaving Michael lying in the garage, his eyes still open.

"Oh, Michael," Kitt said softly. "Oh, Michael. Noooooooooooooooooo." It wasn't a wail, but a soft cry that lingered, barely loud enough to hear.

After several minutes of wading through the depths of his grief, Kitt composed himself enough to ask the question that had been bothering him the most. He knew the answer, but for some reason he needed to share his horror over it with the one person who would understand. "They suffered, didn't they?" he asked softly.

Bonnie looked up briefly and nodded. Then she laid her head down on his steering wheel and hooked her arms around behind it. Together, in the dark, quiet cabin, they both finally cried.

knightshade

December 8, 2001