Life is so Wonderful
Steam Powered Giraffe Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
Two weeks had passed. Rabbit, The Jon and The Spine practiced as often as they could, playing songs they had played many years ago. The Jon started writing his own songs as well in a funky, 1970’s-vibe like “Juju Magic” and “Sound of Tomorrow”. Though Rabbit talked about makeup a lot, she had balked at putting any on. Her usual excuse was that she wanted the design to be perfect and didn’t want to distract from the music just yet.
After days of mac and cheese and bologna sandwiches, The Spine decided on his own that it was time to take financial matters into his own hands. He took the elevator down to the basement and sought out the head of household.
“Five, you in here?” he asked the hallway of the sixth-floor basement.
“Spine? I’m in number three,” he answered. The Spine found him dressed the part of the scientist with his white lab coat and goggles perched on top of his head. He looked very much like the first Peter Walter, so much so that The Spine did a double-take when he turned around. “What’s up?” Peter asked, putting down a voltage meter with which he was testing equipment.
“I wanted to discuss something with you, are you free?”
Peter shrugged. “Not getting anywhere, so might as well.” He took a seat on a stool and motioned for The Spine to do the same. He walked to the stool, but remained standing.
“I understand that finances are... tight, lately.”
Peter sighed. “Did Wanda say something?”
“I told her to go easy on you. You know how she is.”
The Spine grimaced. “Yeah. But she’s right. There are two more mouths to feed and we’re not doing anything to help out in this tough time.”
“So what do you propose, Spine, you wanna get a job?”
The Spine laughed lightly. “No. I think we can help, Rabbit and I, or at least I can. I didn’t think about it until Wanda chastised us for taking the ‘57 Chevy out because there’s a gas crisis on.” He raised a knowing brow at Peter who pouted and shook his head as if he didn’t know what he was getting at. “March 17th, 1963 I retrofitted the ‘57 to run on Blue Matter.”
Peter Walter V’s jaw dropped open. “You... did what?”
“I was the one who retrofitted the ‘57.”
“To run on Blue Matter. You did?”
“March the 17th,” he repeated. “I finished at about four in the afternoon. I remember being glad it was done because Sid Caesar and the McGuire Sisters were on Ed Sullivan that night and I would have missed it if I’d finished later.”
Peter slowly slipped off his stool and without breaking eye contact approached the young man standing across from him. “Are you serious? You did this and you remember who was on TV that night?”
“Well, I sure do!”
“I don’t! And I think I probably watched that with you! Spine, that’s not normal to have such a clear memory.”
The Spine frowned. “Well, I don’t know, Five. It seems normal to me!”
The scientist clapped his hands once and laughed a surprised, delighted laugh. “Spine! This is great! Where’d ya put the schematics for the conversion?”
His face fell. “You did keep notes, didn’t you?”
“Um... No. I didn’t. Five, it’s all in here,” he said and pointed to his head.
“All of it?”
To prove a point, The Spine rattled off a series of numbers, equations and instructions that made even someone of Peter’s intellect dizzy. “Ok! Ok!” he shouted, laughing. “Spine. This is great! So, you know all that. Do you know how to fix The Jon?”
The Spine gave him another perplexed look. “We all do.”
“Well all what?”
He sighed. “We all know how to fix The Jon. We had to be programmed to make repairs on the battlefield. Though, Rabbit wasn’t as good at it because he... she...” he shook his head. “When she was a robot he refused upgrades. His... ach. Forget it, I’m using female pronouns from now on, it’s just too confusing! Her mind didn’t retain as much as mine was able to because she refused upgrades. Something about not wanting any of Pappy’s work to be altered. Not that it matters a whole hill of beans, now.”
Peter rubbed his chin and walked slowly back to his stool. “I see. Well, good. When can you start work?” he asked with a grin.
“I can work with you when we don’t have practice, so starting tomorrow morning.”
“Good. Spine? Speaking of Rabbit, I haven’t spoken to her in a while, I...” He put his hand on the back of his neck and bowed his head, looking sheepish. “I said something I shouldn’t have to her and I think I scared her pretty badly.”
“Oh?” The Spine feigned ignorance and sat on the stool across the lab table from him.
“Yeah. I apologized to her immediately. I just got carried away, I mean, she seemed like she was flirting with me!”
The Spine pursed his lips and nodded. Because he already knew what had happened, he remained calm. Peter Walter V was lucky that this was the case. “I can see how that would happen. She’s powerful cute.”
“I feel really badly about it. I would never just come out and say something dirty to her or anyone else. I guess maybe I’ve also been holed up in here too long. Whatever, doesn’t matter. Point is I’m sorry and I want to tell her that. Could you tell her for me and let me know if she’ll accept my apology? I’ll say it to her face but I just don’t want things to be awkward between all of us.”
“I understand, Five. I’ll ask her.”
“Good. Thanks, Spine.” Peter cocked his head to one side. “Spine, Spine,” he repeated. “Have you thought about a new name?”
This took the former robot by surprise. “I didn’t, but Rabbit did. She had a few ideas for us both but none of them sound right. I don’t think there are any that fit me at all. The closest in sound is “Spencer” and that’s kinda nerdy, don’t you think?”
Peter laughed. “Yeah sure, way more nerdy that ‘The Spine’. Well, maybe you’ll find one yet. If not, I don’t have any problems calling you Spine.”
“That’s good...” The Spine got up to go and winked at Peter Walter V. “...Five.”
The Spine convinced Rabbit to talk to Peter and the two met face-to-face for the first time since the incident. He was both surprised and relieved that it went so smoothly. Rabbit was eager to completely regain her confidence and happiness and Peter was eager to stop feeling so guilty about what he’d said. After their meeting, Rabbit skipped into the salon in which The Spine was reading a tattered paperback copy of Brave New World and stood in front of him until he put down the book.
He sighed. “That’s good.”
“Jon’s off getting maintenance with Barbara right now, I think it’s a good time to work on our makeup,” she said, whispering the last word.
“Our...? Oh, for the robots,” he whispered back playfully.
She grabbed his hand and pulled him up out of his chair and together they went in search of anything they could get their hands on.
In an enormous black-and-white tiled bathroom that had been part of Peter Walter I’s suite of rooms, they laid out all that they had found. Various lipsticks, eyeliners, powders, crèmes and other things were scattered over a long table before an equally long mirror. Rabbit pulled up a frilly, white chair, sat, and stared at her reflection. “Well, at least I’m already copper-colored!”
“And I’m so pale I’m practically silver. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.” He stepped up beside her chair and put his left hand on her left shoulder.
Rabbit nodded. She felt small and dainty in the feminine surroundings of Iris Walter’s dressing table. Her pearl-handled brushes were laid out as if she would return any moment. Perfume bottles stood with their contents evaporated to a dark brown at the bottom of each cut-crystal vial. Sitting there, Rabbit felt more connected to these people than she ever had before. She looked up into the mirror at The Spine’s reflection looking down at her sitting in the chair. The way his brows were arched and his mouth was curled into a soft smile sent shivers from her toes up. She covered his hand with hers and smiled up at the reflection. “Oh, I get it now,” she said. “It all makes sense.”
“Why we were created in the first place. Pappy loved Delilah Moreau so he wanted to show her how he felt about her. He made us to deliver that message to her, and later, when he married Miss Iris, we were his messengers then, too. Those songs--those loves songs we sang, I never really got it. I knew they meant everything to Pappy, but I never really fully understood why--and how could we?” She looked into his eyes in the mirror and sang, “‘Night and day, you are the one...’, ‘...Sweet, comic Valentine, you make me smile with my heart...’ ‘They asked me how I knew my true love was true, oh, I of course replied something here inside cannot be denied...!’ That’s it!” she shouted and turned her head to look up at him. “That’s exactly it! I love you with all my heart!”
The Spine bowed low and kissed her. He didn’t need to say a word in reply. After a few moments Rabbit pulled away and was surprised that her face was so warm. She cleared her throat. “We should get to the task at hand, right?”
The Spine laughed and agreed, still wanting to take it slow, but overjoyed that she had shown him such a genuine display of affection.
Rabbit pulled a folded piece of paper from her pocket and spread it on the table. Crude designs were scrawled on the paper and tucked inside was a photo of the two of them as robots from the 1940’s. “So I was thinkin’ it should be a little like this.”
The Spine nodded and raised a brow. “Looks doable.”
Rabbit giggled. “The Jon’s gonna be so surprised!”