Just what the universe needs! Another Knight Rider thing from yours truly. Hey, at least this one's just a one-shot. ;) Really, it was supposed to be an installment of "Time, and the Killing Thereof," but as I was playing with it, it started to fly crooked, looping off in an odd sort of interior monologue. (Which is proof positive that one really should not contemplate/write fanfic while reading anything written by Virginia Woolf.) "Time" isn't about monologue, interior or otherwise, and is instead all about the dialogue. Of which this has not much and only at the end. So, this ended up not fitting into that anthology at all, and it became its own strange little thing. Basically, it was written as an attempt to get into Michael's head in order to get to know him a little better; I'm well aware that he's my weak link when it comes to writing KR stuff. I don't think I accomplished my goal at all, but this is a fun voice to write in, regardless. It's one that I don't often use, so it was fun to pull it out and dust it off. So all is not lost. And I thought I'd share because, y'know…because.

The silence is enough to kill you. It gives you a feeling of impending doom. You start imagining big, black storm clouds grumbling and flashing on the horizon and then you start wondering when the lightning's going to strike you. Because when he's silent, there's usually one of three reasons behind it, and none of them is good. There could be something wrong with him and that's something that, really, I don't want to think about because God knows I can't fix him, and the people who can fix him are usually hundreds or even thousands of miles away at any given moment. Scary. Or, he could be going all doom and gloom on my ass, contemplating the not-too-distant future that scares the living shit out of him, though he'll only rarely admit to such an emotion. When he goes off swan diving into that pit, it takes a huge effort to drag him out of it, and that's an effort that drains both of us. That's never fun. But, more often than not, it's Option #3 that's keeping him quiet: I've said or done something to piss him off.

The last category, in all honesty, is in some ways the worst because it's the one that gives me the guilts. The other two are more or less beyond my control, but the third…Yeah, that's all me when it happens. And he's a forgiving soul, yes, especially where I'm concerned, but he never forgets because he can't forget, even if he really, really wants to. So the latest injury I've done to him will conjure up memories of all the other similar, sometimes identical, occasions that I should have learned from but didn't because I have terminal case of "can't remember shit." Which, of course, directly conflicts with his terminal case of "can't forget shit." So his irritation builds and builds and while I've yet to see him actually explode – and I hope to God that I never do – he does end up in a snit. A snit of gigantic proportions, sometimes. A snit that can go on for days – Weeks, even – if he gives it enough gas and it digs into him and starts to fester. And when you spend practically every waking moment plus a whole lot of your sleeping moments with him, much less when your life sometimes depends on him being alert and well-disposed toward you, him being in a distracted and pissy mood is a bad thing.

Not that he'd ever intentionally let anything happen to me. He can't do that, really. Oh sure, he'll make all kinds of very creative threats about unspeakable uses for grappling hooks, but he knows and I know that he won't actually follow through on any of those threats. Because he can't, at least not without someone doing the technological equivalent of brainwashing him first. Still, if he gets really pissy, he's not at all above pushing things to their very limits whenever he thinks he can get away with it. Like, he'll come charging to my rescue at the last millisecond rather than at the last minute, just to put the fear of God – or at least of him – into me.

And then, of course, there's the silence. His silent treatments are the stuff of legends, and I'm the one who's on the receiving end of…Well, of all of them. No, wait. That's not completely true. He gave Bonnie the silent treatment once. Once. Once as opposed to the…oh…dozens that he's given me in the two years and a seven- odd months of his existence so far. For a being who's supposed to be designed to be compatible with me, I sure do have a talent for pissing him off. I suppose that says something about me more than it says anything about him, though. And it says something bad. Or at least something really, really weird.

Anyway, silence. And it's been going on for a while. Hours now. Hundreds of miles of nothing but road noise. That's never a good sign. If we're not actually talking about all kinds of stuff, or if we're not arguing about something that's usually very, very stupid or very, very ludicrous or both, then he's often just making random noises every so often, maybe just to remind me that he still exists and to let me know in that oh-so-subtle way of his that he's bored out of his RAM chips and is wanting entertainment of some sort.

Which he'll sometimes provide for himself. Regrettably. Because in recent months, he's adopted for his own diabolical purposes a silence-filling tactic of my own: He's taken to turning the radio on and finding something on it that will annoy me. I annoy him with rock and roll when he's not in the mood for it. And only rarely is he in the mood for it, and that's a very recent development and it really only works with certain groups. Like Queen. You really don't want to know what happens when he's in That Mood and "Don't Stop Me Now" plays. Let's just say that he can do stuff that stunt drivers can only have wet dreams about and leave it at that. Anyway, I'll annoy him with obnoxiously heavy rock and roll; he'll annoy me with stuff like NPR or, if he's feeling more on the frisky side of annoying, nauseatingly sugary pop. And then the Radio Wars are ON, baby. Hey, it's better than complete silence.

And he's silent now. And I have to wonder why. Well, OK, I don't have to wonder why. But, God help me, I do. So I slouch down into a more comfortable position in the driver's seat and mentally review the past few hours, trying to pinpoint the "something" that I said or didn't say or didn't say but really, really should have said that's resulted in him being ticked off at me. But there's nothing, really. In fact, the last thing that was said was something that he said, some disparaging remark about the nutritional content of my lunch…

No, wait! Aw, crap. After that snarky remark of his, I told him to shut up, didn't I?

Damn. He's real sensitive about the "shut up" thing, and you'd think that by now I'd know that, that I would've have learned. That I'd know not to use that particular phrase anymore. Then again, you'd also think that, after almost three years, he'd get the concept of a rhetorical remark. You'd think, given that he's way smarter than anyone or anything else on the face of the planet, that he'd've learned by now how to tell the difference between an actual command and a simple, exasperated comeback, a last ditch effort to say, "You're right and I'm wrong and I'm so very, very sorry and I have no stunningly witty reply to make," without actually saying those humiliating words that leave a bitter taste in my mouth. And he has gotten better, but he can still be crazy literal sometimes. Usually right when I don't want him to be. Like now.

But you know, I think he does it deliberately. Just to piss me off. Because I swear to God, he gets off on intentionally pissing me off sometimes. But then again, I guess it isn't so surprising. Because I sometimes get off on intentionally pissing him off, and he was consciously and deliberately designed to learn from me, to adapt to me, to become exactly what I need him to be. So, unfortunately for him, that means that he's becoming more like me over time. So it's not like I should be offended by his quirks because when all is said and done his quirks are my quirks, all carefully observed and learned from and patterned after me, all based on how I treat him. But sometimes you just don't like the man in the mirror, you know? You don't like to be reminded that, as a human being, you are obliged to be a gigantic asshole sometimes. You can't help it and, really, you don't always mean to be. It's just what happens.

And most people don't have a mirror like him. One that talks back. One that's all too happy to keep a running catalog of all your flaws and who finds joy and a deep level of job satisfaction in reminding you of each and every one of them on a regular basis. One that remembers every single instance of you being an ass. That's the kind of mirror I have, and it's…humbling. And he can't help being what he is or becoming what he is, slowly, becoming. When he's being an ass to me, it's just a reminder to me that I'm an ass because he wouldn't – couldn't – be an ass to me without me having been one to him first. And when we first met…Damn, I was an asshole to him. A big, gaping one. Look up "angry asshole" in the dictionary at the time, and you'd've seen a picture of me. So, him learning to be an asshole started all the way back on Day One, thanks to me. My handiwork, right there. A legacy to be proud of. Because when push comes to shove, how he develops over time, over the course of his life, is something that is pretty much entirely in my hands. Sure, there are a few other influences here and there. Bonnie's the biggest one. And then there are the people we meet while doing what we do. But mostly, it's me.

And it's a responsibility, you know? A big one. Really big. He's like a child in a lot of ways. He came into the world as a pretty blank slate…sort of. I mean, most blank slates aren't way smarter than anyone else on the planet like he is, and he's been that way from the moment they flipped the "on" switch or whatever the hell they did to bring him to life like Frankenstein's monster. He knows…everything. Or at least he has the capacity to know everything. The potential to know everything. And what he doesn't already know he can find out very quickly and very easily, if he wants to. Like, scary-easily. He's like fifteen thousand Einsteins crammed into one little tiny CPU. Way, way, way ahead of everyone else, even geniuses like Bonnie, and he knows it and he's not afraid to let everyone else know it, too. And while on the one hand the ego that he's got on him can be at turns highly amusing and vastly annoying, even I acknowledge that he's completely entitled to have it. He has no reason to be modest. No reason whatsoever. And, really, I rely on his magnificent…brain. CPU. Whatever you want to call it. I rely on it heavily. So it's not like I can complain about it. Well, I can. And I do. Often. And I'm a big enough man to admit that it's usually nothing but sheer envy that fuels the complaining. But really, I shouldn't complain at all.

But then there's the other side of him. The side that's an easily-bruised child. He has all this knowledge but little experience to balance it with. In fact, at first, he had absolutely no experience. Had no idea about the so-called "real world." But really, even though it means that he's had a number of rude awakenings, it's also been sort of a blessing. Because things that I take for granted, things that I've seen a billion times, wonders that should amaze me but somehow don't because I've become so damned jaded over the thirty-some years of my life, will fascinate and excite him. He's like a wide-eyed little boy and the whole entire world is his own personal Disneyland. He wants nothing more than to run around like a maniac, see everything, interact with all the characters, and ride all the rides. Really, to see the world through his proverbial eyes is an amazing experience because he takes nothing for granted. Nothing is mundane for him. For him, everything is new and shiny and intensely interesting. Everything. Even boring things. It's an outlook on life that I hope he never loses because being around him has a remarkable effect on some people, me included. They'll start to see through his eyes and start to be less jaded. They'll start to see the remarkable in the mundane, just like he does.

Case in point: The other day, I came out of the mansion, and as usual he was out front waiting patiently for me. I said something to him as I came down the steps, but he didn't answer me as he usually would. Why? Because he was too busy. Too busy watching ants going about their anty business a few feet in front of him, carrying stuff as they marched single-file across the width of the driveway that he was sitting on. He was amazed by these tiny little bugs, amazed by their military precision and their ability to carry something much larger and heavier than they are and by many other characteristics that ants apparently have, all stuff that he knows somewhere down in his databanks but that he'd never taken the time to sit and really notice, much less to appreciate, in the real world before. So, he found them fascinating, fascinating enough that all of his attention had been focused on them. And damn me if his fascination didn't inspire me to plunk myself down on my ass near him and then watch the stupid ants, too, something that I hadn't done since I was a kid…and even back then I was doing my best to fry them with a beam of sunlight focused through a magnifying glass rather than simply watching them doing their thing. And then, when we left after more minutes spent watching ants than I, at least, wanted to admit to, damn us both if we didn't navigate the driveway loop backwards instead of forwards, just to avoid committing mass ant-icide.

But that's him. That's what he is. That's who he is, and that's the effect that he has on people. Even though he's often working the hell out of that snarky, sarcastic attitude that he'll cop at the drop of a hat, he's really the gentlest soul I've ever known, and it's a gentleness that he's retained even in the face of some really shitty things happening to him over the course of his brief life. He still has it even though he's often been betrayed and disappointed by the world that is his playground. Because bitterness and grudges and recrimination and all that kind of stuff is just not his style, and… Well, sure, he has the capacity to annoy the holy living hell out of me and some days it seems like he's living for doing just that… But far more often he simply amazes me. He amazes me every day – Just about every hour, even – with something that he says or does, with the way that he sees things, with his innocently alien perspective on everything.

Because of him, I see the appeal of having kids, which is something that I'll likely never do, given my bizarre and sort of homeless kind lifestyle. He's my home, really. We're each other's homes. Where I go, he goes and vice versa. And since I have him, not having a normal "settle down, get married, buy house with white picket fence, have kids, live happily ever after" kind of life doesn't seem like so much of a great, tragic loss. And it's easy to understand why Bonnie "mom"s the hell out of him, too. Because her life isn't and probably never will be normal, either, and he's her baby, her outlet for all that maternal devotion that she'll swear up and down that she doesn't have a drop of, not even when she's in a scarily protective rage over him and is threatening to rip my nuts off because of something I supposedly did or allowed to happen to her precious, precious baby.

And I can't say that I blame her, really. God knows I've wanted to rip the nuts off of some guys who've just mildly insulted him, much less who've done any kind of actual damage to him. Because Bonnie's got the right idea: He is precious. Unique. Complete irreplaceable. He goes through life nailing selected people right in the heart with a grappling hook, and if you're in that select group, it happens fast, so fast that your head spins and you don't know quite what's happened. And once he's got you snared, he never lets you go. Ever. To this, I can personally attest. I look back into the not-too-distant past, remember some of the things I thought or, God help me, that I actually said within his earshot during the first few months of our working relationship, and I wince and mentally kick my own ass. Hard. I've apologized to him for my attitude toward him, even, something that he brushes off as completely unnecessary, declaring that he has no feelings to be hurt or pride to be injured. Which of course is pure, Grade-A bullshit. He has plenty of both. A full range. I really don't want to think about why, much less how, he has such things. I just know that he has them, and I know that he wouldn't be half as endearing if his protests were true and he truly didn't have them.

Which brings me back to my point. He has plenty of emotions. The one he seems to indulge in the most is general pissiness. Like right now. And I can't take it anymore. Because I know it's my fault, and guilt just isn't something that I handle well. So, I slouch down even further into the driver's seat, such that if I slouched any farther I wouldn't be able to see over the dashboard, and I say, out loud, "I'm sorry."

"I beg your pardon, Michael?" is the immediate and entirely mild reply.

"I'm sorry," I repeat.

"Whatever for?" he asks, and in my head I see a confused dog with its head cocked to the side and its ears perked up. That's how it is. Anything he says evokes some kind of mental image in my head. I guess it's how my head got over talking to a person who isn't a person in the flesh-and-blood sense, a sort of incorporeal spirit who has no face to see and no body language to read.

"For whatever," I answer with a shrug. "Whatever the hell I did or said that's got you pissed off enough to give me the silent treatment."

"I'm not pissed off, as you so colorfully put it," he insists. "Nor was I giving you any kind of silent treatment. I was merely…conducting an experiment."

Oh God, there goes that sinking feeling. Freudian psychoanalysis heading my way by express fucking delivery.

"Do I want to know?" I warily ask.

"Probably not," he answers, and I can practically see the smirk in his voice. Swear to God, the dashboard shapes itself into a smirk for a split-second.

"But you're gonna tell me anyway," I surmise around a suddenly nervous swallow.

"Of course," he replies in that serenely self-satisfied way of his, and I sigh in defeat as he explains, "I was merely wondering how long of a silence it would require before you would feel an overwhelming need to apologize for something that you didn't do. You broke far sooner than I expected, by the way. I suppose I should offer congratulations for managing to surprise me."

Damn, he's good. But I'll never admit to it. Never. Instead, I smile sweetly and inform him, "I hate you, you know."

Just as sweetly, he answers, "I know. And I'm sure you know that the feeling is mutual."

And we drive on. And I plot my revenge…

Never heard "Don't Stop Me Now"? Well, you might not have, if you're an American who's not particularly a Queen fan, since it wasn't one of Queen's big, iconic hits here on the American side of the Atlantic. Or you might have heard Katy Perry attempt to sing it, which…uh, yeah, let's not go there, huh? Girl can't even remotely sing it on-key. It's never a good idea to try to cover a Queen tune that even Freddie Mercury, with his vocal power and his 4.5-octave range, sometimes had trouble with. But, ANYWAY! If you're a Knight Rider fan, it is, IMO, a song you should know. 'Cuz it screams Kitt, both in terms of lyrics and the song's sheer, unrestrained feeling of joy. And, it's a song from '79 or so, so it's one that wouldn't be entirely out of place on the show. So, check this out, if you're curious, and let your mind conjure up mental pictures: www. you tube watch?v= OPx-nUqLMtc