Life is so Wonderful
Steam Powered Giraffe Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
Rabbit trudged up the stairs, stepping lightly and slowly, her bare feet feeling the worn treads and noticing for the first time how threadbare everything was: the carpet, the wood under it where it had worn through, the railings with their chipped paint, the dinginess of the wallpaper and the cobwebs and dust on picture frames that lined many of the halls.
On the fourth floor they had their bedrooms. At the top of the stairs was The Spine’s room, then Rabbit’s own room, then The Jon’s room. She stood at the top of the stairs and willed herself to walk to his door and not continue on to her own room where she could bury herself in the covers and try to let the rage wash away in blissful sleep. Maybe he was sleeping right now. “Maybe he’s busy being a jerk-face,” she muttered under her breath, composed herself and knocked on his door.
“Spine. It’s me. We need to talk.”
“Spine. The Jon sent me. He wants me to talk to you.”
Her blood boiled but she clenched her jaw tightly and thought of the sad look on The Jon’s face before spitting out “No.”
“Leave me alone.”
“That’s it, I’m coming in!” she burst in the room and was not surprised to see a lump that was The Spine’s curled-up form under the covers of his bed, facing the windows. The Spine’s room was neat and tidy. The drapes were open and California sunshine filtered in through the windows. A light breeze made the air fresh and inviting. She glared at the lump and stomped up to the opposite side of the bed. “Come on, Spine, cut it out. You’re really tickin’ me off.”
His voice was muffled by the comforter he had tucked over his head. “That’s the idea.”
“What?” she cried. “Why?”
“Just go away.”
“No.” Rabbit folded her arms and sat down heavily on the edge of the bed, her back to him. “The Jon said I can’t come back down until I’ve straightened you out,” she paraphrased. “So you better tell me what bug crawled up your butt, ‘cause I’m not leavin’ until ya do.” There was an awful silence again and Rabbit frowned and bit her lip. “I mean it, Spine. You better start talkin’!”
After a short while she felt him move and stole a glance over her shoulder to see him sit up slowly, clutching the covers around himself. He sighed and his voice came out at a whisper. “I can’t say anything, Rabbit. If I do...”
Rabbit gasped lightly and put her hand to her chest. Something about the way his shoulders were slumped and how he sounded and the words he chose sent a shiver down her back. “Please?” she asked, dropping her previously acerbic tone.
“Just go, please! I can’t...” he begged her.
Rabbit turned back to face the door again as if the sight of him was painful to her. “No! Spine, what’s wrong?”
“It’s you, Rabbit.”
The color fell from her face and she trembled. “Me? Wha-what did I do? Did I make you upset?”
“Spine, no! Oh!” she cried in alarm. “What...?” Rabbit put her hands to her face. “Oh, I guess these are tears,” she hiccupped and tasted her fingers. “They’re salty.”
“Please, Rabbit!” The Spine pleaded, his voice cracking. “Go away.”
“NO!” she shouted and spun back around. “You gotta tell me what I did! I’m not gonna let you be sad, we gotta resolve this, The Spine! And until then I’m gonna stay right here! In fact...” Rabbit closed her eyes and launched herself across the bed. The Spine cried out in alarm as the young woman laced her arms around his chest and hugged him from behind. “I’m not going to let you go until you tell me!”
His muscles tensed but he did not push her away. After a few moments, his shoulders slumped again and he hung his head. Rabbit smiled and hugged him a little tighter. “Ha. Gotcha,” she said and snuggled her head against his right shoulder. “Mmmmmmm,” Rabbit hummed. “I can hear your heart beating. It’s beating so fast, The Spine.”
The Spine brought his hands up and gingerly placed them on top of hers. He twisted toward her slowly and she loosened her grip, but kept her fingers locked together, refusing to let him go. Now they were facing each other and Rabbit smiled up at him. “I don’t want...” The Spine began, seeming to struggle with the right words as he looked into her eyes. “I can’t...” He whispered and lowered his head until their noses touched. His arms folded across her back, pulling her close to him and she made another pleased, humming sound, smiling and hugging him back. Rabbit lifted her chin and their lips connected.
“Whoa!” she cried and pulled back. “What was that!”
“Oh, God, I’m sorry, Rabbit, I...” The Spine said, flustered. “This is what I didn’t want to...”
She did not pull away. “You felt that, too, didn’t you! Wooo!” she shivered. “What was that? It felt like... electricity, sort of!” Her eyes were wide and she beamed an excited smile at him. “Do it again!”
Without waiting for approval, Rabbit lunged and kissed him deeply, making happy humming noises. The Spine gave in. He kissed her back and ran a hand through her thick, brown hair. However, he, being the more sensible of the two, he pulled back and held her shoulders, pushing her gently away. “Whoa, wait, wait wait wait, Rabbit. Slow down, we can’t... we can’t...”
“We can’t what?” she teased.
“I shouldn’t be in love with you!”
Rabbit laughed. “Spine, have you looked at me lately?”
“Well, sure, but we’ve lived together for 80 years!”
“So...” The Spine’s argument looked feebler and feebler by the moment. “So, I guess it’s just me, then. I feel like I shouldn’t love you.”
“The hell with it. Love me. I love you!”
He boggled. “You do?”
“Of course! Technically I’ve always loved you, just, now...” she grinned. “Kiss me again!”
“Kiss me!!” Rabbit shouted gleefully and waited for him to bow his head to hers again. This time, the kiss was longer, deeper and both of them stopped suddenly and stared at each other in disbelief.
“Wow...” The Spine shuddered.
“Yeah...” Rabbit licked her lips. “What was that? I feel like, I’m aching!”
“Uh...” his pale face flushed. “I think that might be ‘desire’. We should, uh... we should probably slow down, Rabbit. I mean, this is all so new...”
She put her hands around his neck and smiled at him. “Ok, The Spine.”
“And I’m not sure we should let anyone else know we’re... like this.”
“Oh?” Rabbit asked and cocked her head to one side. “Why not?”
“Well, half of what made me so anxious about how I felt, and still does a bit, is that I was worried what The Fifth would think, and Wanda, Norman, and The Jon.” He folded his hands over the small of her back. “I’m sure Jon wouldn’t mind but I don’t want him to feel left out. It’s bad enough I’ve treated him so poorly lately.”
Rabbit made a face. “You have a point. Ok. It’ll be our secret!” she said with a sly smile. “As long as I can make you happy. You promise me something, though, Spine.”
“Anything,” he quickly agreed.
“If you feel bad again, you tell me. Don’t hide anything from me.”
“Agreed. I promise.”
They kissed once more before reluctantly returning to the drawing room where they found The Jon seated on a divan, waiting for them. Rabbit gave him the thumbs-up and the automaton tackled them both, hugging them tightly.
Hiding their feelings from the other inhabitants of Walter Manor was both easy at times and difficult as The Spine and Rabbit became more comfortable around each other. Rabbit liked to steal kisses whenever she could and it both thrilled and annoyed The Spine that she would do so when others were just around the corner. Surely, he thought, someone would hear her giggle, would catch a glimpse of her hand in his, or the crimson blush on his cheeks. This day he finished showering (one of his favorite things about being human was getting clean) and wondering where Rabbit could have gone to (one of her favorite things was trying to peek at him getting clean). He hung his towel up and walked back to his room, dressed once more in hand-me-down black jeans and a black t-shirt with white letters “ELO” written inside a lightbulb on it. He didn’t have to look very far as he heard the sound of her bare feet pounding up the stairs toward him. The Spine grinned and stood at the top of the stairs, bracing for a hug-tackle, but his smile fell as he saw pain and tears on her pretty face.