Title:  Damaged
Author: knightshade
Rating:  PG

Disclaimer:  Knight Rider and its characters are definitely not mine – see Universal and Glen A. Larson.  I just borrow them and occasional get them all dinged up.

Author’s Notes:  This takes place within the time frame of Disintegrate.  If you haven’t read it, this might be a tad confusing.  And while this one is PG, it does deal with the aftermath of Disintegrate, so if that one makes you uncomfortable . . .

Thank you to Almighty Hat for the beta read. 


Damaged


Why?

Was it humiliation?  Or maybe some failed sense of protectiveness? 

I just don’t know.  I wish like hell I did.

Bonnie was tried of the menagerie of shadows in her room.  They were slowly starting to become familiar, slowly becoming a part of her routine.  She tried focusing on the dark shapes that filled her bedroom instead of thinking about . . .

Don’t.

. . . things she’d lost.  Why was it that trying not to think about something made it almost impossible to think of anything else, she wondered?  Bonnie decided there was no point in trying to fall asleep.  Her body had grown accustomed to odd hours and late nights anyway -- sleep deprivation was starting to feel normal.  She threw back the covers and gave up for the night.  

Not bothering to turn the lights on, she hunted through her closet looking for her robe.  She tried not to think about how alien even her walk-in closet felt.  The clothes were on the wrong side - opposite of how she had them in her old closet.  It was backwards, like everything else here.  Even the ocean was in the wrong place – lying to the east of the city.  Everything here was conspiring to throw off her sense of direction.  She closed her eyes against the familiar disorientation and grabbed down her robe.  She pulled it around her shoulders slowly, her energy already waning. 

Bonnie eased out into the hallway, not even bothering to flip on the light as she stole past the switch.  The glow from the streetlights outside made a pale intrusion into the hallway through the open bedroom doors.  The light bumped into the flat edges of the boxes that still littered the hallway – they were just waiting there to trip her up.  She stopped and stared at them despite her better judgment.  She willed herself not to think about what was inside.

Why can’t I even unpack the pictures?  They’re just pictures . . .

She thought about finally putting the boxes away.  What if she carried them down the steps to the basement, right now, in the middle of the . . .

Knight

. . . night, and finally put them away where she wouldn’t have to look at them?  She saw herself slinking down the stairs in the darkness, silently piling the boxes in a corner, like a burglary in reverse.  She studied the flat, angular edges.  The lights from the street shone on the boxes, giving them an aura like stones in an ancient ruin.  She sighed and moved on.  They were too heavy, contained too much -- she wasn’t up to dealing with them tonight. 

Maybe tomorrow.

Bonnie forced herself to keep moving down the stairs to the kitchen.  She used the balls of her bare feet to feel her way in the dark.  There was no point in turning on a light.  Lights never helped anything.  She remembered how, back then, they had all sat in a perfectly black room.  She remembered hoping that somehow it would stay dark.  It was too hard to avoid looking at things in the light.

The kitchen was to the left of the staircase.  The green LEDs of the stove clock greeted her with a glowing ‘3:23.’  That wasn’t unusual these days.   The tea pot was sitting in silhouette in front of the clock, the green numbers rolling down its curved edges.  Bonnie didn’t bother to pick it up to see that it had water.  She had filled it before going to bed.

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

The package of herbal tea was taking up a squat, square space on the counter.  Bonnie flipped on the burner, mesmerized by the pale blue flame that licked and curled around the bottom of the tea pot.  She dropped a teabag into the bottom of her cup and sprinkled in a small bit of sugar, listening as the stream of individual grains hit the porcelain, sounding like one of those rain sticks made of cactus branches.  She closed her eyes and waited for the telltale whistling of the boiling water.

Boiling.  Scalding.  Angry

Like I was earlier today.

 *    *    *

The mall was overly bright and garish.  Jessica had been flitting from store to store, gabbing excitedly the whole time while Bonnie tried to feign enough interest to keep her sister happy.  Jessie and Mark had decided to redo their bedroom and she was giddy with all the decorating options.  Bonnie was holding a bag of throw pillows that she had to keep switching from hand to hand.  They weren’t that heavy, but the bag handles kept biting into her hand if she held them too long. 

“I just don’t know about the print we saw in the gallery.  I think the gray tone would look nice but it’s kind of cold for a bedroom.  What do you think?”

“I’m sure it would look very nice,” Bonnie said, unable to muster much interest.

Jessie stopped to look at her.  “Are you all right?” she asked.  “You’ve been quiet all day.  Did things not go well with Ted last night?”

Oh, they went just perfectly.

“No, I’m just tired, I guess.”

“Ahhh, tired, huh?” Jessie said knowingly.

Bonnie’s hackles went up immediately.  She was still angry about being blindsided last night.  Jessie had told her they were having a get together and had convinced her to come.  Bonnie had gone despite the fact that she wasn’t feeling up to being around people only to find that there was only one other person there -- one of Mark’s single coworkers.  And he had obviously been given a different story about the ‘get together.’

“No,” Bonnie said angrily.  “Not like that.”  Ted had walked her home and there had been a very awkward moment when she had dodged his attempt at a kiss.  “And I didn’t appreciate you not telling me you were setting me up.”

“If I’d told you, you wouldn’t have come.”

“Then maybe you should have taken that as a hint,” she fumed.  Bonnie picked up the bag of pillows and headed for the mall exit.  She was done – whether or not Jessica was.  Jessie silently followed her out the door.  They burst out into the bitter air and Bonnie had to fumble with her coat.  She hated this kind of weather.  It looked like a beautiful sunny day when you were inside, but it was actually freezing cold once you got out into it. 

“You know, I don’t get it,” Jessie said, her own Barstow temper on display.  “Ted’s a nice guy.  He’s got a good job, and in case you didn’t notice, he’s gorgeous.”

I noticed.  I. . . just. . .

“He’s okay.  He’s just not my type.”

“No one’s your type lately.”

Bonnie squeezed her eyes shut against that truth, willing herself not to think.  Ted had warm eyes, an easy smile, and lean runner’s muscles.  He was exactly the kind of guy she normally found attractive, but for some reason being around him just made her feel lonely and isolated.

He had a rugged chin -- like Michael.

It didn’t help that he was obviously looking for a serious relationship.  She just couldn’t deal with that right now.  She wasn’t interested. 

Damaged.

Bonnie tried to shake it off, but that fear had been creeping out of the darker corners of her mind over the last few months.  No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t quite banish it back.

Jessie had stopped, perched her hand on her hip, and seemed to be studying her.  “Look, when you said you were taking a job out here, I assumed you finally decided to settle down – maybe find someone and get married.  But I’ve had to drag you out of the house.  You don’t seem to want to do anything.  Is everything alright with you?”

Nothing’s alright with me.

Bonnie whirled away from her sister, letting anger overwhelm everything else.  It was easier that way.  She headed for the car, not even pausing as she tossed her anger back over her shoulder.  “I’m fine.  And you don’t have to plan out my life for me.  I can take care of that . . .”

“Bonnie!!”  Jessie suddenly grabbed her arm and yanked her back so hard that she almost fell.  A pickup sped past them, right where Bonnie had stepped out into the road.  The driver swerved and the sound of the blaring horn finally sliced through Bonnie’s confusion.

“What are you doing?”  Jessie demanded.  “Are you trying to get yourself killed?”

No . . .
I don’t think so . . .
I don’t know . . .

Bonnie stood there mouth open, staring at the spot where she had been standing.  “I didn’t see him coming,” she said, too shocked yet to move. 

Jessie let out a shaky breath, “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to yell at you like that.”  Bonnie knew that her sister wasn’t really angry, she was just scared and didn’t know how else to react.  Jessie finally let go of her arm and stepped back.  “You really haven’t been yourself since you moved out here, you know.  Are you sure you’re okay?”

No.  I’m not okay.

“Yes.  I’m fine.  I think I just miss California.  I guess I’m a little homesick.”  She picked up the bag she had dropped and looked at Jessie.  Then she checked both directions twice before crossing the busy mall drive.

Jessie’s expression had softened with concern and she followed Bonnie out into the parking lot.  “You just need to get settled in and meet people.  But if you don’t like it out here, you can always go back.”

Bonnie tried not to skip a step or let her sister hear the breath that was knocked out of her.

You have no idea how much I wish that were true.

*    *    *

Bonnie slowly realized that the teapot was whistling – its shrill shriek burned off the fog in her mind.  She poured the boiling water into her mug and watched the flame for a moment before turning the burner off.  She took her mug and sat down at the table, wrapping both hands around the warm cup.  She had picked her usual chair, at the head of the table, looking back into the kitchen.  As always, she focused on the little red dot on the counter where the phone was resting in its cradle. 

She wanted to call Michael.  The longing was so intense it was a solid weight squeezing against her chest.  But she had no idea what she’d say.

I’m sorry to call you in the middle of the night, but I really needed you . . .
I feel like I’m falling apart.

Deciding that the tea had steeped long enough, she pulled out the bag and let it slump down onto the saucer, a waterlogged heap.  She took a sip or two, not bothered by the fact that it burned her lip and the roof of her mouth. 

It would just be nice to hear his voice.

Restless, she got up from the table and went to the window to open the blinds.  The moonlight was a cool blue on the patches of snow and glittering icicles that framed the window.  The light crept across the slats of the blinds, creating a pattern of bars across her arm and the cushions of the couch.

She could sense the red light from the phone even with her back turned.  It bored into her, leaving a hole that just kept growing.  She didn’t even know what number to call.  He could be at the Foundation, but most likely not.  She didn't want to call Kitt.  She assumed he was angry with her.

Why shouldn’t he be?  This is the second time I’ve abandoned him.

But I could just call the Foundation on the off chance that Michael's there . . .

Despite her better judgment, Bonnie found herself moving toward the phone, as she did on so many nights.  She stared down at the receiver, knowing she was going to pick it up.  Like a sleepwalker she languidly reached for the phone.  The dial tone was startlingly loud.  It was incessant, demanding, and for some reason it always made her lose her nerve.

I miss you.
All of you.
And I’m really sorry.

The dial tone changed over to the harsh, repetitive, ‘off the hook’ buzz.  Hands shaking, Bonnie lowered the receiver back down to its cradle.

Maybe tomorrow.


------------------
-knightshade
April 23, 2005