Sorry I forgot about this:
Disclaimer: If you recongize it then I don't own it. All recongized materials belong to their respective peoples and I make no money off of this.Somewhere in the New Mexico desert:
“Hey, Xander, what’s that?” Dawn asked, breaking the comfortable silence that had permeated the car for the last hundred or so miles.
Xander shook off the semi-trance the road had cast on him and slowed down a bit to glance at Dawn, “What’s what? Where?” He questioned as he tried to scan the rather desolate landscape of New Mexico’s desert.
Dawn sighed and gently took his head and turned it so that he was looking in the same direction she was. “There. What’s that? It looks like a person trying to flag us down. Should we stop and see?”
Xander looked around at the empty landscape again and wavered, “I don’t know. If he’s having car trouble, where’s the car? There’s nothing out here for miles.”
“Xaaanderrrrr. This is New Mexico, in the desert, during the day, we’re more likely to be abducted by aliens than be pounced by a vamp or something equally evil. Most of the desert dwellers who would actually, actively interact with humans are friendly, remember? ‘Sides, he looks human and pretty beat up, maybe his car went off the edge there and he got clear just in time.” Dawn rationalized patiently as she waited for Xander’s inherent White Knightness to kick in and override his caution.
Xander stared hard at the road ahead of them for a few more seconds, then just as they were about to pass the stranger and he had appeared to have given up, Xander sighed gustily and muttered a soft, “Fuck.” As he stopped the car and glared at Dawn and the man starting to make his way over to the car. “Dawnie, if he kills us I’m going to kill you.” He growled as the man finally reached them. Xander motioned for Dawn to stay in the car and Xander eased out as the man came to a stop.
“Oh, man! You have *NO* idea how glad I am you stopped! It seems like I’ve been trying to get someone to come help for like forever. Thanks, friend.” The stranger nearly babbled as he smiled widely at Xander and gave a friendly nod.
Xander looked the guy over and granted that the poor man definitely looked the worse for wear. What he could see of the jeans were battered and torn in a spot or two, the shirt looked like it had smoke damage and the black leather jacket was very dusty and looking like it had gone a few rounds with Tyson and lost. The guy’s hands had what looked like minor burns on them, his face, while handsome, had a nasty looking gash going from the right temple nearly down to his chin, and his hair was a bit fuzzier than the curl should have allowed.
The once over only took a few seconds, but when Xander's gaze returned to the stranger's blue eyes, he saw the recognition and respect of one Knight to another shining behind the friendliness. Xander nodded and replied, “Not a problem. What happened if you don’t mind my askin’?”
At that the stranger shifted a little from foot to foot and glanced away, “Umm, actually it’ll be better if I show ya. I promise I won’t hurt you or the young lady but my friends are still trapped in the semi down there.” He evaded as he motioned towards the gully’s edge a few dozen feet away.
All of a sudden the stranger danced back as the car door in front of him swung out forcibly and Dawn climbed out with a determined glared at both the guys. “Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!” She ordered as she reached back in and took the keys from the ignition to go open the trunk. After fetching flashlights/clubs, rope, and first aid kits she slammed the trunk shut and stared impatiently at the stranger, waiting for him to show them the way.
The guy glanced back at Xander who just shrugged and went over to grab his flashlight and first aid kit saying off handedly, after he was out of swatting range, “When she gets like this it’s better to just go along with her.”
“A mini-Bonnie, take charge and stubborn as a mule, gotcha. Come on, the wreck’s over here,” the stranger said with a sad grin as he started to lead them to an easy access point to the bottom of the gully.
When the trio reached the bottom Xander and Dawn were shocked to see a black with gold accent semi and trailer laying drunkenly half on its side. From what they could see something very big and very heavy had broadsided the vehicle hard enough to cause it to be folded nearly in half, where it was creased there was a long tear that looked like it had be ripped open a bit more at some later point in time. It also appeared that the truck had been there for awhile, if the dust and sand accumulated on and around it were any indication.
The two stunned Californians turned to start peppering the stranger with questions only to find him striding quickly towards the wreck, stopping under a side door in the trailer. “Well, you two coming or not?” He called impatiently as he again started dancing from foot to foot.
Xander and Dawn exchanged looks and as one nodded, agreeing that they had come this far, they might as well see it to the end. With that they started towards the wreck a bit more slowly than their new friend had. Once there, Xander set all their stuff off to the side and boosted Dawn up until she could balance herself partially on the trailer and worked the rust loose enough to finally pop the door open. After vaulting herself the rest of the way into the doorway, Dawn turned around and took the supplies as Xander handed them up and then slid back a ways on the mouse eaten carpet so that Xander could boost himself in.
After helping each other up, the two found that holding onto the walls while walking was a good idea as the truck’s angle was just steep enough to make balancing upright difficult. When they reached the end of the corridor, Xander took the lead and flicked on his flashlight as it was rather dark through that section. He stopped at the entrance to the main section of the trailer and motioned for Dawn to stay put as he took in the true level of wreckage that the attack and time had wrought.
Thanks to the tear in the hull the interior of the trailer was lit dimly, like a cave. Xander took a deep breath and started to truly look around, trying to be as detached and analytical as possible considering he was staring at three dead bodies. He give a little shriek and jumped to the side instinctively as he realized that his right foot was almost on top what appeared to be an older man’s mummified head, some of the gray hair still clinging to its scalp.
“Xander?” Dawn asked softly as she tried to peer over his shoulder to see what had made him jump.
“It’s alright, Dawn Patrol. You don’t want to see this, trust me. Just stay put for a bit longer, okay? For me?” Xander assured her as he gave her the dread puppy dog eyes. She wavered for a few seconds but then nodded, deciding that if it was bad enough to make him want to protect her, it was bad.
Xander gave her a sad smile in thanks and turned back to the first corpse, from what he could tell the poor old guy had been crushed by the mainframe computer tower that covered most of the mummy. He moved on to the next closest one, which he thought was a woman given the few long strand of brittle hair around her. Apparently, the computer she had been working on fell on her as well, with the monitor, unfortunately, falling screen first onto her head. Xander grimaced in sympathy and moved a bit farther into the room to see the back of it more clearly. What he found was a sleek, black 80’s Trans Am leaning against the cliff-side of the hull. When he peered through the gloom a bit harder he was able to make out a newly familiar black, leather jacket. Time, the elements and the local wildlife had taken their toll on the bodies until what was left wasn’t all that pretty.
As Xander drew back and was about to tell Dawn to go back to the car to call someone when he noticed the stranger that had led them there calmly sitting on the edge of the Trans Am’s hood, patiently waiting for Xander to finish his examination of the space.
“That’s you, isn’t it? How long have you been down here really? And who are they?” Xander asked, with a wave of his hand at the other two bodies. He noted that the guy was a bit transparent and his wounds were more noticeable and severe.
The man sighed and replied sadly, “Yeah. That’s me. My name was Michael Knight. The two behind you were Bonnie Barstow and Devon Miles. And this,” he said as he motioned towards the car he wasn’t sitting on, “is KITT. Knight Industries Two Thousand. And my best friend. We were great together. God! I’m sorry, Buddy.”
Xander allowed Michael a few moments and then tilted his head as he asked, a bit worriedly, “You act like the car was alive. It’s not possessed, is it?”
Michael gave him a startled look then nearly fell off the car laughing. Once he got himself back under control, he shook his head and explained, “No, KITT isn’t possessed. He’s an AI, Artificial Intelligence. As far as I could tell, once I got over the shock of being a ghost, his CPU wasn’t damaged when the diagnostic equipment arced so all you should have to do is put a new car battery in and he’ll wake back up. But before you do, could you remove our bodies? He doesn’t need to see us like this.”
All of a sudden a voice from near the tear in the hull spoke up, “I can do ya one better, pal.” Both men turned to face the new intruder, dropping into fighting stances that covered the other’s back without realizing it.
“You’re Whistler, aren’t you?” Xander questioned cautiously as he slowly came out of his stance. “Buffy said you looked like a reject from a bad 70’s pimp movie.”
Whistler glared at Xander before turning to Michael and in a rather gentle tone for the Balance Demon told him, “I can ‘port the bodies outside and cover them so that neither KITT or Dawn have to see them.” Michael studied the demon for a moment before nodding slowly. Whistler smiled and the next moment all three bodies were carefully laid out with white sheets draped over them out of respect.
Xander gave a quick look around without thinking about to make sure the bodies were actually gone before calling, “Alright, Dawnie. It’s safe.” Dawn rushed to Xander’s side before it registered that Michael was there and transparent and there was a new person.
“Hey. So what’s the what?” She asked after pausing for a moment to take in the room and give a nod to Whistler.
“That’s what I’ve always liked about you, Kid. You take everything in stride,” Whistler complimented with a grin before turning serious again. He turned towards Michael and drew himself up, “Michael Knight, once known as Michael Long, your last duty to this plane as guardian of this gravesite is now discharged. You are free to go onto your reward with the Powers’ blessing.” He relaxed a bit and grinned a bit sadly, “Go home, friend. Your friends miss you.” Xander and Dawn waved good-bye as the ghost of Michael Knight faded from view. Then they turned to Whistler expectantly.
Whistler turned back to the two Sunnydalites and sighed, “And now for you two. Might as well sit down, this is going to take a bit.” He suggested as he gestured towards KITT as a perching spot. Xander and Dawn glanced at each other apprehensively before sitting side by side on the slopping hood. “Okay. Ten years ago an enemy of Michael and his people rammed this semi over the edge of this cliff. Everyone was instantly killed but when the others went onto their reward the Powers kept Michael here to guard this place. Michael didn’t know that though. All he knew was that he was stuck here, trying to flag down any passerby. Unfortunately, for him the Powers were wanting someone very specific to find this site so even those could normally see ghosts couldn’t see him and the semi was hidden from view.” He paused to see how good these two were on the uptake. He was betting Dawn caught what was implied first. A few seconds later and Dawn proved him right by sitting straight up, her eyes alit and narrowed a bit at Whistler.
“Xander. The Powers were waiting for Xander to come along and find him, weren’t they?” She accused with an underlying growl.
Whistler gulped slightly and took a step back as he raised his hands in defense, “Hey, it wasn’t my idea. But yes. Xander was tagged as the new heir to the Knight Legacy.” Privately he started praying that this Summers' woman wasn't as violent as her sister or mother.
Poor Xander’s confused and clueless brown eyes bounced back and forth between the Demon and the Key as he tried to get his brain to accept and make sense of the last few seconds. He held up a hand to stop the impending dismemberment and whimpered, “Huh?”
Whistler dropped his head and muttered under his breath for a few seconds about what he would like to do to everyone who destroyed the young man’s self-image. When he felt a bit more in control he looked back up and into Xander’s eyes as he stated forcibly, “Alexander LaVelle Harris, you were never meant to be the Zeppo. You are a Champion, always have been, always will be. That’s your lot in this life. Angelus named you truly when he called you the Slayer’s White Knight, but now it is time for you to step away from her and let her stand on her own two feet. Your true destiny lays elsewhere and at long last you are ready for it. You are a true heir of Wilson Knight’s dream, a lone crusader to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless in a world of criminals that operate above the law. From now on you don’t have to worry about the evil that goes bump in the night because you’ll be to busy taking care of the human evil that boldly walks in broad daylight.”
Xander blinked dazedly at Whistler for a few moments then gracefully slid off the car cackling like the Hyena that had once possessed him. Dawn watched him worriedly while Whistler just leaned back and waited, having expected this reaction. Finally Xander got ahold of himself and returned to his perch, trying to catch his breath as he replied, “Thanks for that, man. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. So. Really what are we supposed to do? Figure out a way to get the car back to whoever it now belongs to or what?”
Whistler grinned a bit meanly and informed the poor human, “KITT now belongs to you. As the new Knight you get the car, the palatial mansion in California and are now the Lead Investigator and figurehead for the Foundation for Law and Government with access to all the contacts and resources the Foundation has. Congratulations.”
Xander stared at the demon for a few more minutes, sure that the punch line was coming, but when Whistler just grinned and nodded it sank in that he was serious. Dawn blinked in surprise as the most stable of the Scoobies passed out, slid down the hood to land in the spot he had just vacated.
She stared at her prone friend for a few more seconds then pinned Whistler with an icy glare as she asked sweetly, “Why don’t you just tell me what’s going on and I’ll explain it to him later, humm?”
Whistler shifted nervously and nodded, “Yeah. Sure. Not a problem. I know better than to upset a Summers’ woman. The ruckus your Mom caused up there when the Powers allowed Buffy to be pulled back that last time…….” He drifted off with a shudder at the memories. “Okay. Basically what’s going to happen is when you guys get KITT up and running, the car part of him just needs a new battery, a tracking chip will initiate and ping someone back the Foundation, namely, Reginald Cornelius the Third, who’s been running the Foundation since these guys disappeared…..”
Dawn interrupted with a snort, “Reginald Cornelius the Third? Boy, did his grandfather hate the family or what?”
“Actually he goes by RC3 to this day. He’s the last surviving human member of this group so expect some survivor’s guilt from both him and KITT. They were coming back from dropping RC off at college back East when they were attacked, so he’s got that whole ‘If only I had been with them….. Why did I decide to go to college all the way over here….etc., etc., etc.,’ thing going still.” Whistler paused in his explanation to gaze sadly at KITT. “That poor guy didn’t immediately shut down when everything happened. He knows they’re all dead and blames himself for Michael’s death since he was what pinned and electrocuted the guy. In fact, his last memory before shut down is watching Bonnie’s body twitch every time the monitor sparked. That’s one reason the Powers want Xander with him, they both know that kind of guilt and can help each other heal from it.”
Dawn sat there and absorbed all that for a moment before asking, “Okay. Where do I fit in? ‘Cause we both know that if Xander was supposed to do this alone I wouldn’t have been able to go along with him when he bolted from Slayer Central.”
“Smart and beautiful. Always a dangerous combination. The Foundation already had a computer geek that’s up to Bonnie’s standard so you can be the grease monkey. Keep the car parts going and all that. RC has already taken over Devon’s job of running the Foundation so the computer geek and you would split Bonnie’s old job and Xander would have Michael’s.” Whistler explained with a glance at the still comatose man.
“And that would be what exactly?” Dawn asked suspiciously as she crossed her arms and glared, not liking that her Xander was probably about to be put into mortal danger…. again.
“Basically what he had always been doing, he gets to ride around and save people in trouble. But instead of demons and such the trouble will usually be all to human. And this time he’ll have real backup in you, Oz and more importantly KITT,” Whistler explained with a shrug. “Now, we need to get you guys out of here. I’ll transport you, Xander and KITT up to the road, put the bodies back in here and then wait just long enough for you to get everything in Xander’s car transferred over to KITT, including the battery, and get out of here. Then I’ll lift the concealment spell cloaking this place so that it can be found. I think these guys have been waiting long enough for a proper burial, don’t you?”
Dawn nodded and with a little magical help maneuvered a just coming around Xander into the driver’s seat and then slid over him to settle into the passenger side. Another nod and a good luck sign from Whistler and they were sitting beside Xander’s old car with their gear beside the car.
“Ow. Dawnie, what hit me this time?” Xander complained as he finally came completely around and sat up a bit.
Dawn couldn’t help it, she giggled as she answered him, “You, ummm, fainted.”
Xander shot her a glare and was about to retort when he realized several things at once, one: he was in KITT, two: they were all out of the trailer and back up by the road and finally there was no sign of Whistler. “Umm, Dawnster, what happened? I remember Whistler trying to hand us some BS about inheriting the car and everything and now we’re up here and no Whistler.”
Dawn sighed and motioned for him to get out of the car, “Come on. I’ll try to explain as we load up. I don’t think we have much time.” And as the two friends transferred emergency kits, of both the mundane and supernatural varieties, and various other things they had accumulated over their four month trip across the States, she tried to explain to Xander what all Whistler had told her. Xander stared at her in disbelief until she whapped him upside the head and told him to believe her and Whistler and get over it.
The last thing Dawn did was exchange the two batteries in the cars. She figured if Whistler didn’t make the old car disappear then it would be a good idea to make it look like the battery had died and they had caught a ride. She also was smart enough to figure out that ten years of desert heat evaporated any gas left in KITT’s tank, so she siphoned their gas over as well.
Xander was in the driver seat trying to decide which button to push first once Dawn finished hooking up the battery when all of a sudden every bell and whistle in the car started making noise and everything that could light up did. Xander yelped out, “I didn’t do it!” in reflex as he tried to jump back and threw his hands up in a classic ‘I didn’t touch it’ move.
Under the hood Dawn leaned against the engine cackling as she tried to see well enough to finished tighten the last bolt to the battery. She had just dropped the hood when KITT came completely back online after ten long years.
“Who are you?! Where am I?! Where are Michael, Bonnie, and Devon?!” Came the rapid fire questions as KITT realized he was in the hands of strangers. Dawn and Xander exchanged sad looks through the windshield, then Dawn motion for Xander to answer him before KITT decided they were a threat.
“Okay. First off my name’s Xander Harris and the young lady standing in front of you is Dawn Summers. I’m not quite sure where we are beyond somewhere in the New Mexico desert, closer to the Arizona boarder than anywhere else. As for your friends…..,” Xander paused as he shot a helpless look to Dawn.
Dawn sighed and knelt down in front of KITT’s front bumper, rubbing a hand gently on his hood, “What do you last remember, honey?” She asked quietly, wanting to see if it was possible for an AI to suffer from traumatic amnesia like a human.
“We were on our way back from taking RC to college. Devon and Michael were discussing stopping in Sunnydale California to see about a young hacker Devon was trying to recruit for the Foundation. Bonnie was updating some of my programming….,” KITT “voice” drifted off as the rest of his memories came back online. “Watch out!!!! Devon!! Bonnie!! Michael!!!!! NOOOO!!!!” He wailed as Xander and Dawn both instantly tried to hug him any way they could and began to croon under their breath. Neither human had any idea how much time had passed before KITT’s mournful keening finally tapered off.
“How did I get out of the trailer? And where are their bodies? How long has it been?” KITT asked subdued as Dawn slid into the passenger seat and began petting his dashboard.
“A friend of ours helped us get you out. They are still down there but we’re sure someone will be coming along to gather them shortly and it’s been ten years.” Xander replied quietly as he and Dawn exchanged glances.
“Tell ya what? How about we continue to get to know each other on the road. There’s nothing here but pain and dust. We’ll tell you how we found you and you can tell us about your friends. That sound good?” Dawn offered as she started to feel the concealment spell on the area drop.
KITT agreed by allowing Xander to start him up and pull them out onto the road. But before anyone could start asking questions the monitor in the middle of the console beeped and a black man of about forty appeared in the screen.
“What the *fuck*?!?!” Came the yelp as the person in the screen looked up. He paused then glanced upwards. “Shut up you three. This is freaky enough for that kind of language. KITT?!?! Oh, man! Is that really you?!?!?! You’re alive?!?!? Who’s that with you?!?! Where’s the others?!?! What *HAPPENED*?!?!”
KITT was silent for a few moments as the shock that at least this friend had survived and stayed with the Foundation before finding his voice circuits and replying happily, “RC!! It’s so good to hear a familiar voice after so long. Yes, it’s really me. These are Xander Harris and Dawn Summers. They found us.” KITT paused for a moment then continued in a sadder tone, “RC. The others are dead. They have been for apparently ten years. That’s how long it’s been since we were attacked by that madman Garth and Goliath. He rammed the side of the trailer and pushed us over a cliff into a gully here in the New Mexico desert. The others died instantly. I don’t know what happened to the driver.” He paused again before nearly babbling, “RC there was nothing I could do!!!! It all happened so fast and then everyone was dead! I—I---I crushed Michael against the side of the trailer when it fell. I couldn’t stop myself from sliding.”
Dawn began crooning again as Xander and RC traded looks of helplessness, RC ignoring the tracks his tears had left for the moment. Then RC pulled in a deep breath and ordered, “Okay. First off, *none* of it was your fault KITT. I know you don’t believe me but it’s true. Second, I want you to come home to the Foundation. Bring your friends since their names sound familiar. I’ll start rounding up our contacts and get someone out there to retrieve the semi and bodies.”
RC paused as if debating with himself about something then added, “If it makes you feel any better Garth and the Hell Bitch that spawned him are dead. Have been for about eight years. The driver survived the initial crash so Garth hauled him away and killed him elsewhere with Mommy Dearest looking on, what they didn’t count on was a deputy sheriff who couldn’t be bought or terrorized witnessing the murder. They were brought up on those charges and when word finally reached me that something had happened I raised a big stink about if they killed the driver then they had already killed everyone else and the bodies just hadn’t been found yet. They went away for all the murders and were killed in prison about a year later. I managed to acquire Goliath by saying it was stolen property and have been taking my survivor’s guilt out on it.”
“So you knew they were already dead or at least suspected it,” Xander stated rather than asked.
RC shrugged. “I figured they were, but I was hopin’ I was wrong. You know, the whole as long as there’s no body then they could have survived and were hiding or something deal.” He made a showing of shaking the melancholy threatening to descend off and looked sternly back into the monitor again, “Come home, buddy. We’ll sort everything else out then. RC out.” And with that the screen went blank.
“So that was RC? Nice to see that ten years of running a Foundation hasn’t killed his street edge,” Xander quipped with a smirk.
Dawn giggled and smacked Xander on the arm, “Be nice. He’s going to be your boss you know?”
“What do you mean, Miss Summers?” KITT inquired curiously and he ‘watched’ the by-play between his two passengers.
“Call me Dawn, please. You say Miss Summers and I start looking for my fire breathing sister,” Dawn insisted with a pat on the dashboard. “As for the RC being boss thing, the friend who helped us get you out of there also told us that the reason it took so long for someone to find you was because beings higher up the cosmic food chain decided that Xander was going to be the new Knight heir. See, Xander here has been my sister’s White Knight since he was fifteen so the Powers That Be decided to shift his focus from what my sister’s fighting to what you guys fight. And I get to be your grease monkey thanks to that year of Vo-Tech I took back in high school ‘cause I was bored. That is if you don’t mind?” She trailed off hesitantly.
“For what it’s worth Michael gave his blessing,” Xander quickly assured the AI. “His ghost had been haunting the site since the wreck happened so we were able to talk to him before he was released onto his reward. And he knows it wasn’t your fault.”
KITT remained silent for several miles after that last confession and the two Scoobies let him alone, knowing that he needed to come to terms with what had happened in his own way. Instead the two humans tried to keep the tension in the car to something just below screaming by discussing anything and everything they could think of pop culture wise. Partly to keep themselves entertained and partly, in a roundabout way, to catch KITT up on some of the things he’d missed in the last ten years.