Title: Passenger Seat
Fandom: Knight Rider
Summary: Michael tries to cope with the Foundation's latest case.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Universal and Glen A. Larson have that privilege.
Author's Notes: This takes place shortly after The Scent of Roses. Thank you to Pheral for the quick beta.
I walked into your dream,
And now I've forgotten how to dream my own dream.
Mother - Tori Amos
You steal a glance at the woman in the passenger seat and your heart breaks all over again. It's not that she looks like Stevie -- she doesn't -- but there's something in her voice, in the way she talks that's like salt in your wounds. She reminds you so much of the one woman you loved with everything you had. Or rather, she reminds you of that woman as she was so long ago -- Stevie, before Michael Knight happened.
"I know this probably sounds dumb and shallow, but I wanted to have a beautiful wedding. I've been dreaming about it since I was a little girl. I knew exactly what flowers I wanted and everything. Funny, I never planned for my fiance to be in jail," the woman next to you says bitterly.
She's crying and you try to hide your unease. You study your hands which are resting on the steering yoke, but not actually guiding the car. Suddenly they look out of place, foreign. You try to fight the choking feeling that invades your chest. "It's not dumb." And while you don't sound at all convincing, your voice feels like a pile of sawdust, you do mean it. You mean it from the part of your heart that's been bleeding for weeks now.
"I'm just afraid I'll never get to have that wedding," she says, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue she's dug out of her purse.
"You will," you say, and reach over to squeeze her hand -- as much for you as for her. But this you don't mean. This is an empty platitude. Stevie never got what she wished for. You remember how excited she was back then, how her eyes lit up when you opened the box and she saw the ring. God, you were both so young then. And if it weren't such an open wound, you'd laugh at how everything had changed with that one little question. For the first time in your relationship, she completely took over, and you loved it. She had always dreamed about her wedding day too. After you proposed, she threw herself into the planning with complete abandon. Her excitement was a force of nature and you got a rush out of being carried along with it. You had never seen her so happy.
But of course that all ended. It was blown apart by a muzzle flash and pain that had seared you right into a whole new life.
You try not to go down this path, but one cruel image always comes back to haunt you when you start thinking like this. It's the image of Stevie sitting alone, tearfully making phone calls -- undoing your wedding plans. Undoing all your plans together.
Which is why you were so surprised that she let Bonnie make the arrangements this time. Granted, you both wanted to get married right away. It had been postponed for so long that you didn't want to wait anymore. Or at least, that's how you felt. But there's an angry, cynical voice in your head that tells you that maybe she wanted to get married quickly because she was afraid you'd change your mind. You shove that thought back down where you keep all the other painful things. You try to distract yourself because that voice never goes away willingly. You give Kitt's dash a once over, as if you're actually looking for a problem, as if you're actually seeing any of those little lights.
Stevie had always been such a romantic. It was one of the things you loved about her. She had such an innocent nature, and you don't mean anything bad by that. It's not that she was dumb or naive - she certainly wasn't. She just approached everything with a happiness and poetic optimism that you couldn't help falling in love with. It’s so contrary to who you are. You've been through war, worked the streets as a cop, and spent too much time looking at the dark side of human nature. Shielding Stevie from that, being her protector, making her happy was a way for you to feel the warmth of that innocence. You could guard it like it was your own, even though you don't ever remember innocence being a part of your makeup. She completed you in a way that no one you've been with since has even come close to.
But she lost so much of that over the years. She became practical, to the point where the perfect wedding day didn't matter much anymore. She'd given up on part of her dream -- because of you, because of your life, because of all she went through in your name. You were killing her long before she actually died.
You console yourself with the thought that maybe that would have happened anyway. Maybe it was just the natural result of getting older -- things like perfect weddings don't seem as important anymore. But right now you're collecting guilt, so you put 'killing her dreams' up on the shelf with the rest of your failings.
"I just can't help being angry with him for doing this to me," the woman next to you says.
You wonder how many times Stevie said the same thing -- especially after she knew the truth. God, why had Devon accepted this case? Why now, when your wounds are so raw? You want to go back to the Foundation and rail out all of your pain -- make it someone else's fault for a while. But you know it's not Devon's fault. You know that to him this is just another case. All you have to do is protect a woman who's about to testify against her embezzling fiance. It's a milk run. Easy. You know that to see any resemblance to Stevie, Devon would have had to know Stevie, really know who she had been before Michael Long died.
You close your eyes, just resting them. You don't need to see the road in front of you anyway.
"Michael, are you all right?" Kitt asks. You should have known he'd see through you. He always does.
"Yeah, I'm fine, pal." You muster a smile for his benefit. You wouldn't bother for anyone else. "I'm just tired."
You know that he's running scans now and checking your vitals. You want to be angry at his intrusion into your body's private signs and signals. You want to resent him and the influence he has on your life, but you can't. It isn't Kitt's fault either.
You stare out the windshield without seeing anything beyond it. Saving the world wasn't your dream. But you wonder if having a beautiful wife, kids, and a picket fence was either. You know you wanted that. You know you wanted Stevie. But is that the same thing as having a dream? You don't think so. You became part of her dream and you were happy to live it out with her. And while you had always wanted to be a cop, you don't think you dreamed of justice or making a difference either. You fell into Wilton's dream just as you fell into Stevie's. You wonder if you ever really had any dreams of your own.
You're a practical man, with wants, needs, and desires. But you know you aren't a dreamer. So for now you'll take the cases and live this life because the other one, the one with Stevie, was taken from you again. This time for good. You push down the grief and try to listen to the woman in the passenger seat. You try to focus on the here and now, the tasks in front of you.
You just hope there's still some happiness to be found in living out this borrowed dream. Trying to ward off the feelings of despair, you tell yourself that there has to be -- it's all you have left.