chapter eleven

Devon stood beside Michael as they watched Bonnie and a few other techs work their magic on Kitt. He had been badly damaged in the attack, but the real threat was the bullet that went through his grill and hit the engine. It came so very close to striking the CPU, but thankfully luck was on their side. Devon cleared his throat. Michael tilted his head to the side to show he was listening. "Cameron had six guards." he said quietly. "We got five of them, the three you took out and two that Kitt trapped. The sixth one vanished without a trace, as did the woman Mandy says she saw. Cameron hasn't told us who she is yet."

Michael nodded absently. "What about Lauren?"

"It was just as she said it was." Devon said, his voice even softer than before. "Her brother has leukemia, and their insurance won't cover all the medical bills. The amount Cameron offered her would have given her brother the help he needed."

"No excuse." Michael whispered.

"No, it's not." Devon agreed. "But it's understandable." He hesitated a moment. "Are you going to stand here until they finish Kitt? You know Bonnie will tell you when everything is done."

Michael shook his head. "I can't feel him, Devon." he said, and it hurt the old man to hear the fear in Michael's voice. "I know why – I know he's not gone – but I have to see him. To remind myself. You understand, right?"

Devon nodded. "I do." Bonnie had been forced to shut down Kitt's CPU so she could check for any programming damages. Cameron had been after the technology as much as he was after revenge. When Bonnie shut Kitt down, she had also shut down the neurolink. Devon had been glad they had told Michael and Kitt what needed to be done. Michael's reaction was almost frightening.

Almost. He put his hand on Michael's shoulder, as close as he could come to a comforting gesture. He could still see the fever in Michael's eyes, but the young man refused to rest. He wasn't allowed with Kitt. The room needed to stay static free. So instead he stayed just outside the room, watching through the window. At least he was up and moving. Frankly, Devon was surprised Kitt hadn't ripped Michael a new one for staging a rescue mission in his condition.

"Kitt will be all right."

"I know." Michael flashed him a tired smile. "I'm just – I should have seen it." He leaned against the glass window, his breath fogging up the view. "Cameron Zachary. Who else would have been so determined to take Kitt from us? I should have known the minute Loren came into the picture." He hesitated. "What's going to happen to her?"

"I'm not sure." Devon replied honestly. "I haven't told anyone what happened. I wanted to talk that over with you and Kitt first."

"She could have killed us."

"You would have died for a good cause."

Michael couldn't help but laugh at that. "Real assuring." he shot back with a grin. Suddenly, he frowned. "Devon, Zachary needed more men than just what he had. Heck, he had more people than that when he attacked us."

"I know." Devon assured him. "We can't seem to track down the woman or his missing guard, but we figure sooner or later they'll show back up."

"You and Agent Freeman?"

"Yes. He said to thank you for not killing them this time."

"Tell him I'm happy to oblige." came the dry response. Suddenly his head shot up, and a relieved smile crossed his face. Bonnie had reactivated Kitt. He reached across the link to his partner, feeling the emptiness inside fade away. /Are you all right?/

/I could be asking you the same thing./ Kitt shot back, and Michael could hear the familiar exasperation in his voice. /Honestly, what are you doing out of bed? You do realize you have a 101.5 fever, right?/

Michael laughed aloud, making Devon smile. /Nice to have you back, Kitt./ he teased. /You may now exit mother bear mode. It's down to 99.9./

/Still, you should be resting./

/I'll rest when I can./

Devon was watching him intently. "Is Kitt awake?" he asked, but he already knew the answer. Only Kitt had ever been able to make Michael laugh like that. Michael nodded, already in a better mood. Bonnie turned to glance at the window, and Michael grinned at her. He motioned coming in, and she shook her head. He frowned, but didn't say anything. Devon did. "The room still needs to be clean." he reminded Michael.

The driver shook his head. "I know. I just really don't like this."

"You need to get some rest." Devon said, taking note of the way Michael was swaying on his feet. Michael shook his head again.

"Do you know the last time I actually slept in my room?" he asked.

"I believe it was during the Coltrane case." Devon said.

"Before that actually. During that case, Kitt and I started staying together. I never told you, but someone bugged my room. We never could figure out who did it, although now I suspect it was Bonnie's mentor. I started staying with Kitt after that." He glanced over at Devon. "You're not mad?"

"No. Just surprised." Devon answered honestly. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because I wasn't even sure that's what it was." Michael answered. "I didn't want to freak you out on a maybe." Bonnie motioned for Michael to come inside, and with a happy smile he walked into the room. Bonnie said something to him, he laughed, and Bonnie and the techs left. Devon smiled at Bonnie as she came to stand beside him.

"Is Kitt all right?" Devon asked.

Bonnie nodded. "He will be now. The first thing he did when I woke him up was ask for Michael." She shook her head. "I have to admit, I'm jealous."

"Why is that?"

"Because Kitt isn't my baby anymore. He belongs with Michael now."

In the room, Michael slid into the driver's seat. "Looking good, buddy." he said with an easy grin. "Bonnie work all the dents out?"

"Those dents, as you put it, would have blown another car to pieces." Kitt shot back, warmth and amusement clear in his voice even without the link. "However, I am fine. I'm glad you are, too."

"Just a few bumps and bruises." Michael assured him, pressing his hand against the dash. "I actually had to sleep in my own room the past few days."

"A few days?" Kitt actually sounded shocked. "I was asleep that long?"

"Yeah." Michael hooked his fingers on the wheel and squeezed gently, as close as he could come to a physical hug. "You had me worried, pal. I don't know what I'd do without you."

"You'd survive." Kitt said calmly.

"I don't know about that anymore. I really don't." He hesitated. Kitt could feel his confusion and fear, and he knew his own emotions echoed his driver's. The link had opened up a whole new level of their relationship, and neither were too sure what to do with it. It was wrong to run away, but at the same time, stepping forward scared them both. Kitt reached out to him, and Michael accepted the embrace. "How about this?" his driver said suddenly. "Let's never find out, all right?"

"Agreed." Kitt said. He didn't say it, but Michael knew that Kitt felt the same. No one would ever think twice about it though. After all, supposedly Kitt was programmed that way.

Distantly, Michael wondered what everyone would do when they learned that Kitt's programming had changed on its own. He wondered if he was the only one who knew it.

For the moment, though, he put all thoughts of changing programming, missing bodyguards, and evil plots from his mind. For the moment, there was only him and Kitt, as close as they could be and closer than anyone could ever understand.

They would always be that close. Always.

The End

An: Woo! Another story down! Never fear – the Anam Cara series is not over. I have been requested a prequel to this series, so I'm going to start working on that one next. Be on the lookout for Black Friday, the story of what happened in the Coltrane case, and before all this mess started. There will also be another story that takes place after this one, but I'm going to do the prequel first. So drop me a line and I remain yours truly,