Fidget tried not to laugh, good-naturedly, when he was handed the cereal box. Subtly, he snuck it back into the pantry and grabbed the correct box instead. He thanked Archer, waving the box and adding to the illusion as he turned towards the stove. Listening quietly as Archer spoke, he grabbed a mixing bowl and prepped the batter.
"I’m sure there was a reason… you just might not remember it in the face of kindness." With another sigh, he grabbed a pan and poured the first of the batch into it as the stove burner began to heat up. "I never met him… but Spine always spoke so highly of him. I doubt it was the same Michael… it’s become clear to me that parallel universes are a thing that truly exist… but I suppose it’s nice to know that his kindness expanded across all forms of his life."
He stood diligently in front of the stove, spatula in hand, flipping the pancake when necessary before dumping it onto the plate he had grabbed and pouring in the next to be made. “Spine and I were never an item, as much as I would have liked back then, and as much as my diluted mind tried to warp things. He did things to cheer me up when I was sad, sure… played guitar with me, told me interesting facts that he had learned recently… but it was all friendly. It wasn’t the same. Devon was… Devon. Nothing else to say there.”
"But Smokes…" Suddenly, his voice softened, and the broad grin was completely evident in his tone. He bit his lower lip, giving a small laugh as he thought back through all the memories. "It’s not hard to cheer me up… but occasionally something happens that completely kills my mood, and it seems like no matter what’s done, I can’t pull myself out of it. Every time it happens, Smokes will put on my wig and parade around speaking in this terrible French accent. It always works without fail to get me smiling again. He’d kill me, if he knew I told anyone, but… it’s one of my absolute favorite things that he does.”
Putting the second pancake on the plate with the first, he smiled at Archer over his shoulder, setting to work on the third. “It’s nice… having people to do things like that for us~. I’m glad you had someone like that in your life… even if they’re not in it anymore, for whatever reason.”
Archer began to chuckle at the picture of Smokes with Fidget’s hair and faking the accent. He laughed so hard tears pricked at the corner of his eyes. He gasped, wiping them away and covered his mouth to try and quiet his laughter. “… but he’s so… so… grim. So stoic.”
Once he calmed from the laughing fit he nodded his head. “You deserve someone who can do that for you. I’m glad he treats you well. If he wasn’t I might have to have a talk with him.” He scowled, shaking a finger in the dark.
"I still see Michael from time to time… He always asks how I’m doing…" He frowned, dropping his head in his palm. "I remember now why I ended it… it was because he was mortal. I had met Death, an alternate version of the Rabbit Walter bot… he sort of-" He cringed at the memory. "He was a murder bot. I’m not even sure how that started… first thing he did was tear my eyeballs out and by the next week I was moving in."
He sighed again, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “He hurt me, but I thought it was okay… because we would still have each other… over time. We could never leave each other or die… and then he just sort of… disappeared… and I was lost. I met other people. Peter, Steph, Song…. Daisy was my only other relationship. I had nothing in the span of 90 years to compare to… I just thought that was how it was supposed to be. But times have changed….”
He smiled warmly, giving Fidget’s shoulder a gentle squeeze. “You deserve someone who can make you smile everyday. Who wipes away your tears and fights so you never have to feel pain… and at the end of the day you lick each others wounds and know that you have each other’s backs. Through financial trouble, emotional hardships, and illness. Someone who never makes you ashamed of being who you are, speaking your thoughts or voicing your fears…. and someone who you feel the same for…” He chuckled lightly, shaking his head. “I think I actually learned all that from watching the two of you… however brief I’ve known him. He is a good man. He’s good to you. I can respect that.”
|shojo: Shojo screamed from behind the gag in her mouth, struggling against the ropes that bound her to the chair. She picked the wrong day to visit the three brothers. Jimmy was already unconscious, oil dripping down his mouth, and Fox struggled to keep his eyes open. Smokes kept on fighting, refusing to talk and refusing to show a shred of weakness. And it was killing him. She cried for all three of them, begging the attackers to stop.|
Fox held his mouth open so she could look inside. He nodded his head yes. “Tape… tape woorks.” He winced, the oil was already pooling in the back of his throat.
Smokes groaned at the lift, his hand clenching into a tight fist. Surprised he still had the strength to do so. “…. Ben-ji… he’s… our mechanic.” He barley got the words out before falling into a heavy coughing fit. He was burning more and more smog, filling the room with it. Spitting up thick sludge and green matter.
"Smowksy… wing…" Fox nodded to his brother’s wedding band. "It teleports… we should go thewe naow…"
Fidget smiled, nuzzling into Archer’s hand at the scratches to his head. “You wouldn’t even get mad when we’d start kicking each other in the middle of the night because one of us was hogging the blankets.”
He stood to his feet slowly, body still sore from the untreated damages and utterly exhausted — especially after such a fitful sleep. Though, he kept his disposition cheery. “I don’t think it’s ever a wrong time for breakfast. Cookies aren’t very nutritional, though… maybe some pancakes would do a better job. Who knows… Lucy might find a new favorite~.”
He extended a hand, helping Archer up off the sofa before leading the way into the kitchen; hands instinctively going to toy anxiously with his long hair, only to stop when there was nothing but air to grab. He sighed through his nose, glancing over his shoulder at Archer. “I like our chats… they’re never boring~.” He began searching the pantries for any instant pancake mix. Too exhausted to make anything from scratch.
He chuckled at the memory of the three of them trying to cram into one bed. “Even if I got caught in the crossfire.” He pointed out with a smile. He took the hand and slowly stood. He wobbled a bit to one side, eyes squinted as he followed the light of Fidget’s eyes and core along.
He smiled, standing in the center of the dark kitchen and feeling around. “No never boring… have I told you about the first time I went through my burning phase with Michael?” He smiled softly at the memory, opening a cabinet and pulling out a box he thought was pancake mix. Between the darkness and not having his glasses, he handed Fidget the cereal box with a triumphant smile. “I was… in the stage where I had lost most of my emotional control… all I wanted was pancakes. He was so sweet he kept making them for me but I started getting upset. Telling him the pancakes kept making terrible puns.” He snorted a laugh. “So he took a big bite out of one and handed the rest to me and said ‘Well now he can’t talk anymore.’ ” He paused, trying to control his laughter. “He was so sweet… And somehow that reassured me to keep eating them. It didn’t matter to him that my mind was broken. He understood and worked with it…. Every time I eat pancakes I think of him.”
He sighed sadly, crossing his arms over his chest as he shook his head side to side. “Why did I ever break up with him?… How could Lucy not enjoy pancakes. They are the epitome of good feelings. Nothing can be sad when pancakes are involved.”
Jimmy frowned, dropping his clothes and things on the floor. “Yeah… well-” He paused and his eyes went wide. “Home made ice cream!? How do you do that???” He gasped, crawling back onto his chair and watching Smokes and Fox continue to eat. “I feel bad now… should I give you money for this?”
"Don’t worry about it Jim." Fox smiled, ruffling the top of his head. "We got it covered."
Smokes lifted his head, giving Carmina a raised brow. “We can help ya fund… I mean we don’t got much but we have some put away.”
"With a LOT of cranking," she said, chuckling. "Thought my arm was gonna fall off trying to get it to mix. Finally I decided to call it ‘marbled’ and save my arm. When it’s summer, and miserably hot, I’ll bring over my churn, or you could visit me. My dogs and I always love company."
She looked at Smokes, then back to Fox and Jimmy. “Oh sweetie, don’t feel bad! Like I said, it’s a birthday present. Now if you two boys wanna chip in you can, but I don’t want you to feel pressured. giving your blessing to my idea, and your permission, is a lot.”
"You boys need any refills on anything. Perhaps another beer for you darlin’?" She asked Smokes, noting the bottle was almost empty.
Jimmy beamed. “I would love to come visit for summer! We could make ice cream everyday! I’m pretty strong too… I could do it so you don’t have to.”
Smokes blinked rapidly at the offer for another drink. A big smile curled to his lips, unable to keep it back. Most would make some antagonistic comment. She knew him so well. “Yeah… that’d be great.” He nodded his head, finishing off his bottle and handing her the empty one to recycle. “Just wait till next week when I get my roll in… I can give ya like… $200.”
Fox finished chewing and looked over the table. “I’m good… just getting seconds if-… if thats alright?”
Fidget settled down to sit more comfortably, once Archer was awake; folding his arms on the sofa cushions and resting his chin atop them. “It’s only 2 AM. Sorry… I know it’s stupid to wake you… you’re just as tired as everyone else, but—… I can’t sleep.” He raised his eyes to look up at the man pitifully.
"I just can’t relax… no matter how hard I try, I can’t fall asleep. I’m always half-awake… I can hear everything, and some part of me in the back of my mind is conscious of everything going on around me, but I still dream… and it’s all unpleasant. I wake up wondering if it’s true… if any of it’s happening… and I panic before I remember where I am."
Picking at the fabric of the couch, he lowered his gaze, scoffing a laugh. “I feel like a child again…” He couldn’t keep the small smile from his face at the sentiment. “Seems like Benji and I were always running to hide in your bed, for some reason or another, as kids… guess it’s comforting to know that some things never change. Having a little trouble sleeping, and what’s the first thing I do…? Not wake up Smokes, not muscle through it, not preoccupy myself in some other manner… no… I’m out here pestering you.”
Archer smiled softly, stretching out his arms and cracking his neck. He yawned and flopped back down on the couch. “I understand how you feel… it is a very hard adjustment.”
He patted the top of Fidget’s head lightly and kept his smile. “Don’t worry about it… I enjoy being pestered. Its one of those rights you get when you become a parent. I welcome it….” He yawned again and rolled his legs off the end of the couch. “Even on your worst nights… you two were never a bother.”
"You are so used to being on the defense… having to keep eyes in the back of your head… its hard to release that instinct… but what I’ve found is its best not to fight it… if you can’t sleep, get up and do something distracting."
He tilted his head, still blind as he tried to read the clock on the cable box. “… Is 2 am too early for breakfast?” He turned back to the automaton. “I don’t think either of us had any… ‘real’ food…” He chuckled lightly, patting Fidget’s head again and scratching his scalp. “And I’m sure your friend would always love more cookies… we can chat, do something productive until the feeling passes, eat, and try to sleep again… Any sleep… is better than no sleep….”
His sleep was restless; hands and feet twitching, legs occasionally jerking hard enough to startle him awake. If it wasn’t the movements of his own body, it was the unsettling dreams. After the fourth time of being woken up, he could feel it in his processors that he wouldn’t be getting back to sleep for quite a while — if at all.
With a soft sigh, he gave Smokes a cautious glance, ensuring the tinbot was still fast asleep before using his lithe form to his advantage and slipping soundlessly from the bed. It was always a trick to weasel out of Smokes’ grasp, but thankfully the tinbot was a heavy sleeper. Treading as lightly as he could, he snuck out of the bedroom and crept his way into the living room.
On instinct, he made a bee-line for the sofa. Lowering himself down to sit on his knees beside it, he gave Archer a few gentle shakes. “Arch… Archer, wake up…” His voice was low, attempting to keep the others from waking up — though, he likely could have started yelling at Archer, and Smokes and Benji would have both slept right through it.
Lucy hadn’t moved from her spot on the end of the couch. And the infomercial, being just that, was still going on. He huffed angry every time it turned to people, and purred when it showed the food again. He knew Fidget was leaving, she could keep an eye on him and watch the show at the same time without ever turning his head. The power of the shadows.
Archer snorted at the first shake, rolling his head back. At his name called he immediately sat up. “Whuaaa? Fire?! Get in the tren-” He paused, blinking blindly in the darkness and only able to see Fidget’s core. “-ches….” He licked his dry lips and ran a hand through his hair. Instinctively searching the coffee table for his glasses but they were back in Judge Sweets office. He pouted as he remembered and turned back to the automaton. “… Is… everything alright Fidget?” Yawning and rubbing the crust of sleep from his eyes. “What time is it?”
Fox tilted his head up to the design. His eyes flickered bright and his jaw dropped. He was instantly in love. “Ooooooooo….” His shoulders slumped and he slowly walked towards it. “Yeah… that would be…. great… but… where?”
"You should put it on your back… or the back of your calf." Jimmy pointed out, then eeped. He shrunk back down, giving the tattooist an apologetic smile.
"No no… thats where I would have said too." He smiled, patting Jimmy’s shoulder. "Okay sweet heart… ready to hop on the table?"
Song nodded and sat up on the table, reaching for the zipper on the back of her dress, “oh… Um… w-will scars be a problem? Cuz I’ve got quite a few in that area that might get in the way…”
The artist frowned as he sat at his work station. “Depends…” He rubbed his chin in thought. “If they are thick and raised, they won’t take any ink. I can’t cover them. If they are flat and healed then yeah I can…”
"You could also work them into the tattoo if you want." Jimmy pointed out softly, pulling himself a chair over by the tattooist. He sat with his back straight and his hands in his lap. Not wanting to touch anything.
"They’re not very thick, no. And I would work them into the tattoo, but they wouldn’t exactly fit in." she slid one shoulder of the dress off. There were, indeed, many many scars on her back. Only two or three really reached the area that would be inked though.
Fox and Jimmy’s eyes went wide. Both of them trying not to look as worried about her as they were. Fox tilted his head to one side, rubbing his nose with his thumb. “So uh… you some kind of daredevil?” He asked with a light laugh, trying to keep it from getting serious. “You got more nicks on you than Smokes!”
"Yeah but he got most of his welded and fixed." Jimmy pointed out quietly. "Except for his lip… he likes that one… for some reason."
The artist smiled at Jimmy’s knowledge, getting his needle ready. “They don’t look bad.” He turned to Jimmy’s notebook and nodded his head. “Hows this design for you?”
Jimmy was blushing. Wait, his artwork would be used? Already? “Well uh! If you… like it!” He eeped, showing her his design.
|brass-bolts-mafia: Hey Foxy its fox. I never got a chance to thank you for my gift. I uh... you wanna show me how to work this thing?|
|Anonymous: Jimmy Brass|
He gurgled, rinsed, spit, wiped his mouth, and returned to the living room. Unaware of the toothpaste that still stuck to his cheek. He smiled with newly mint teeth, spotting the Box at her feet. “Oooooo! Whats that? Did you need to drop something off for Smokes?”
He hopped closer and bent to pick it up. “I can carry it for you. Is it heavy?”
"Maybe—…" He sniffed, keeping himself buried and his face hidden. "Maybe we can move to Earth… it’s so much more peaceful there… compared to here. Or maybe it just seems that way." He gave a short, bitter laugh. "The grass is always greener…"
Finally, he shifted, pulling himself further up against Smokes’ form to rest his head on Smokes’ chest; nuzzling up under his chin. He kept his arms firmly wrapped around the tinbot, anchoring himself, as if he were terrified of what would happen if he let go. “You should get some rest…” He paused, unable to keep from yawning. “You’ve had a long day.”
He squirmed, situating himself and further making himself comfortable. Another yawn and one last glance towards Lucy. “I love you, Smokes…” It was soft, barely above a whisper. And almost as soon as he said it, his breathing evened out as he fell into a light sleep.
He snorted a chuckle. “I’m tired?… you should be exhausted…” When he felt Fidget get more comfortable he allowed himself to fall prey to that sleepy feeling in the back of his skull. His battery was drained and he was running on fumes already, but he ignored it just long enough to make sure Fidget would be alright.
"I love ya too…." He whispered back. No glitch, no struggle, no stutter. He didn’t say it often, but he knew when he did it would mean much more. This was one of those moments that warranted the word. He didn’t feel cornered to say it, it rolled off his tongue. The way it should.
He gave a few strokes through Fidget’s hair when he felt the titanium bot was asleep. Sighing relieved smog clouds. He gave Lucy a quick glance. History had taught him to worry when the shadow fiend was near, but it kept Fidget safe in jail… it wouldn’t wait to attack when things would be harder, would it?
His eyes dimmed, warning signals to recharge. He didn’t have much time to question it. Dropping his head hard on the mattress next to Fidget’s head. Immediately offline, with the occasional mumbling of binary code in his sleep mode.