chapter twelve

They took refuge that night in the basement level of a parking garage. Luckily, there were few guards, and none of them did more than keep a semi-watchful eye on the young woman using the safety lights to do some engine work to her car. If anything, it was instinct for them to keep an eye out for her. After all, she was a woman and that was a hot ride. Someone might try and take it from her.

If they had known anything about the woman, or even the car, they might not have been so worried.

Connor dropped the hood with a satisfied smile. "All done. Feel better?"

"Much." Karr ran a self-diagnostic program. The results came back with satisfying speed. "Everything seems to be fixed." And it didn't hurt any more, but he wasn't going to tell her that. The faults in the engine made it difficult to properly link the CPU to it, and the partial links had hurt. Connor nodded and sat on the hood, leaning against the windshield like she was prone to do. Karr hesitated, but it had to be asked.

"I hurt you."

Connor flinched. She had been trying so hard not to think about that. "You did." she said softly. "When you activated your self-destruct sequence." It was Karr's turn to flinch. He had tried so hard not to hurt her. It had been his vow when she became more than just a curiosity. Now it seemed he had failed at that.

"I truly am sorry." he murmured. "But Connor –"

"Do you trust me?"

He flinched again. Unfortunately, flinching was one of those motions that just didn't translate well in a car. Equally unfortunately, Connor knew how to read him far too well. She knew every motion he made that she should not have been able to see. "It wasn't about trust, Connor." he said, his voice if anything even softer than before. "I knew you could save me. I didn't think you'd get the chance. I thought I had killed you – I knew I had hurt you. I promised I would never do that, and I broke that promise. The Director had already changed so much, I honestly believed that I would kill you before you got the chance to save me. I couldn't do that." He stopped for a moment, collecting his thoughts.

"You don't know how much I hated myself, knowing I was breaking another promise. But I couldn't see another way."

Slowly, so very slowly, Connor nodded. "I – understand, I guess. It hurt, knowing you were fighting so hard, and I couldn't do anything to help you." Tears cut paths down her dirty face, and the salty liquid dripped onto Karr's windshield. "And for that, I am sorry. I should have – I told you they wouldn't ever hurt you like that, and I lied."

"You didn't lie." Karr said quietly. "You were fourteen when you made that promise. Neither of us could have anticipated this."

There was a pause before Connor spoke again. "Then it was neither of our faults." she mused. "It was theirs."

"Yes."

Connor rolled over to stare into the windshield. Her eyes burned with anger. "Then we'll make them pay for it." she hissed. "For everything they've done to us. It ends now."

Karr's engine rumbled, and pride was thick in his voice when he responded. "That's my girl. But first, we both need rest." He turned the engine over and opened the driver's door. Connor smiled tiredly and slid off the hood to rest in her seat. "I'll find you a hotel to clean up in. A couple of days, and we'll both be ready to take on the Director. Sound good?"

"Sounds very good." she murmured. "I don't know what I'd do without you, Karr."

Karr chuckled as he pulled out of the parking garage. "The feeling is mutual, Connor. Never doubt that."

The drive was made in silence, but there was no longer tension between them. Mistakes that had been made were now corrected, and the trust they held in each other was reaffirmed. Karr hummed in contentment as they made their easy way into the city to track down a hotel. Connor dozed lightly in the driver's seat, for once safe and secure from any who would harm her.

As Karr intended on keeping her.

/----/

Devon wasn't too pleased with the brief report Michael and Kitt had given him regarding their whereabouts the past week or so. It was lacking in detail, and it gave no explanation for why they had summoned Bonnie. There was no evidence of repairs done to Kitt, although that was what had been implied. He pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to ward off a headache.

It just made no sense.

There was a light knock on his office door, and Bonnie walked in. He stared at her. "What are you doing up so late?" he asked quietly.

Bonnie shifted uneasily. She didn't want to betray Michael and Kitt like this – and she knew they'd see it as betrayal, but something had to be done. That monster couldn't be allowed to roam free. Innocent people would die, and obviously Connor had no respect for their lives. She had to do this.

Or so she kept telling herself.

"Devon, there's something you should know.

The End

An: Whoo! Another story down! Yeah, I know, it's a crappy ending, but it's supposed to end like that. So you know what to do – drop me a line, let me know what you think, and keep on the lookout for Damaged Heart, Broken Trust, the last in the Dangerous Alliance saga! There will probably be a prequel as well, but don't hold me to that.

Until then, this is Shadowblade-tara, signing off.