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Nostalgic Nights

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The Jon wasn't used to feeling afraid. It didn't sit right with him, and the koi fish in his chest flitted around anxiously in response. The Jon stood in front of the only door in the Manor, leading to the Hall Of Wires. He shifted his weight back and forth in uncertainty, before finally raising his hand and knocking on the door.

The doors slid open with a hiss and The Spine's eyes widened. Sadness crossed his face before he hid it with a wide grin.

“Hello, The Jon. How are you doing?” he asked, his tone light but his eyes searching the gold robot's face with worry.

“I'm fine, Spine!” The Jon said, his voice as chipper as always. He grinned up at the taller automaton. The Spine looked down at him, his expression softening into sadness.

“Are you sure?” he whispered, and The Jon's smile crumbled.

“N-no. I'm... I'm scared.” he admitted, hugging himself. “I don't want to... I don't know when I'll be back online. What I'll miss...” he shook his head. “I'm going to be alone. Or I'm not going to be anywhere. I mean, the parts of me that make me myself, I guess. The robot parts are gonna stay here but I think I'm more than that. And I don't know what will happen to that.

The Spine grabbed the Jon's hand, snapping him out of his existential crisis, and pulled him into the Hall of Wires. After a second of hesitation, The Spine pulled the smaller automaton close, his arms wrapping around The Jon like he was afraid he'd drop then and there. The Jon leaned his head against his chest, the quiet whirring and ticking of The Spine's machinery calming him. A second later, he sighed and took a step back.

“I was... I didn't want to be alone.” he admitted, his hands wringing nervously as he spoke. “Y'know, when I... when the soda pop runs out. And Rabbit was already all broken up about this, so I figured...” he shrugged. “Are you okay with me staying in here for a while?”

“Of course, The Jon.” The Spine said immediately, taking the other bot's hands in his own. “I'd be more than happy to keep you company for a while.” he said, smiling at The Jon.

“Thanks, Spine.” he said, some of the apprehension leaving his face as he looked up at the silver bot. A second passed before he remembered that his hands were still in The Spine's. The touch was comforting, reminding him that he was still alive, he could still feel. He didn't want to move his hands at all, content with even the smallest touch. He met The Spine's glowing eyes with shy apprehension, so different from the fearfulness he'd been showing earlier, and clasped The Spine's larger hands in his own, taking a step forward. Knowingly, the Spine freed his hands and wrapped the brass robot in his arms again, letting him burrow his face in his chest contentedly.

“You know, I have a couch. We don't have to stand here.” The Spine said a few minutes later, The Jon enjoying the reverberations of The Spine's baritone voice in his chest.

“That might be more comfy.” The Jon conceded. The Spine took his hand, reluctant to lose physical contact with The Jon, and pulled him toward the middle of the room. Nestled in the wires were several pieces of furniture and some shelves holding a random assortment of old souvenirs from memorable past performances.

“Geez, Spine. That's from, what, nineteen oh-three? The first state fair we played at?” The Jon said, pointing at an old flier in a picture frame, advertising “Colonel Peter A. Walter's Steam Man Band” in bold text.

“Yes. I keep quite a few of our fliers, actually.” The Spine said, somewhat self-conscious. Not many people- or robots- had been in what he considered his place, hidden among the wires and far away from prying eyes. The Jon looked around with wonder at all of the things The Spine had, memories coming back as his eyes took in each object on every shelf. The Spine cleared his throat after a minute, gently pulling The Jon to a comfortable couch. He sat down and The Jon curled up against him, taking his top hat off and leaning his head on The Spine's shoulder.

“Hm.” he said quietly to himself after a few minutes of comfortable silence. “What's that from?” he asked, pointing at a vase of dried flowers.

“Those are from nineteen sixty-eight. A child gave them to me and said 'one day, I'm going to build robots as amazing as you.'” The Spine chuckled. “It was very sweet, and the flowers were lovely.”

The Jon smiled. He liked The Spine's almost wistful tone when he remembered pleasant things.

“What about that flier? I don't remember much about it.”

“Nineteen eighty-nine. New Years party in Vegas. I don't think any of use were ever hit on as heavily as we were that night.” The Spine laughed, and The Jon grinned.

“I remember that one! Rabbit had to be pulled away from that one girl. I think they kept in touch though.” The Jon giggled. “That was a fun show.”

“I agree.” Casually, he leaned his head on The Jon's, looking over the fliers he had framed with new eyes. “Remember that one?” he asked, pointing at one near the bottom shelf.

“Of course, The Spine. That was our most recent show.” he sighed. “Our largest audience too, I think!” He grinned, the excitement of the full theater in front of the band still fresh in his mind.

“Indeed. It was a wonderful show.” he sighed.

The two were quiet for a moment before The Jon spoke.

“If... I mean when I'm powered back up again, d'ya think much will have changed?” he asked, nestling closer to The Spine.

“No.” he said quickly. “I don't think there will be much time to change anything, actually. I know Peter will work to get you back up and running again as quickly as possible.”

The Jon nodded contentedly. “You're right. You usually are.”

He could feel the emptiness in his boiler, feel his body struggle to keep moving with so little fuel. The Jon ignored that as he pointed again to another flier.

“I loved that show. It was an outside show and the weather was really nice, plus there were so many fireflies that night... It was raining stars while we sang.” he said dreamily.

“And afterward, we got to ride a Ferris wheel.” The Spine added. “That was fun, even when Rabbit tried to climb out of the ride.” The Spine chuckled. The Jon laughed quietly, then was quiet for several minutes as he read all of the fliers.

“Hey, Spine? Just so ya know, I love you a lot.” he said suddenly, almost casually.

The Spine looked at him with surprise. “I-I love you too.” he said.

“I maybe shoulda said that sooner.” The Jon sighed. “Maybe... there were lotsa things I should've said sooner, but better late than never. And now I wanna do something I really shoulda done sooner.” he said, and pulled The Spine's face to his own, kissing him hard on the lips. The Spine returned the kiss eagerly, tangling his fingers in The Jon's curls. They parted a moment later, both blinking and smiling at the other.

“I wanted to do that for a while.” The Jon admitted.

“And when you're repaired in a few months- no, weeks- we're doing that again.” The Spine promised, as The Jon leaned his head against The Spine's shoulder again. The Spine rested his head on the brass bot's and sighed contentedly.

The Jon's gears began whirring slower as he struggled to keep his eyes open.

“I'm still kinda scared, Spine.” he admitted, his words slurred as he struggled to make his jaw move.

“I swear, The Jon, you will be fixed soon. I'll make sure of it.” The Spine said, trying to keep his voice strong. The Jon managed a final, small nod as his gears slowed to a halt.

The Spine looked at him, blinking through the oil that welled in his eyes that threatened to spill over. There was a grin still on his face, and if it weren't for the complete silence in the brass automaton's chassis, The Spine could have fooled himself into thinking The Jon was only asleep. The Spine pressed his lips against The Jon's head one last time, before gathering him up in his arms, taking him from the Hall of Wires and into the basement workshops.

It wasn't until he was back in his Hall of Wires that he let the oily tears that had been threatening to spill fall.