Silver hand over silver hand, The Spine stood like a soldier in the fall winds, looking to the freshly carved rock done by his hand. No one really knew outside of the manor; family, friends, fans, no one. Not even his girlfriend knew, but that wouldn't last long.
That one night, that one beer, that one tear shed. It all led up to the most painful stone carving for The Spine; two graves for two members. Leaves of reds and burnt oranges covered the dead grass around his black dress shoe-covered feet. The dirt was starting to settle, as was all of the others. Their crying stopped, Peter went into the basement, and She left him alone.
Death left him alone, The Spine. His love, Death herself, left him alone, left the others alone. But sadly, not these two. The two behind the bots, the ones who changed out batteries in the youngest bot and the two that held the beat and tune going on stage for years. Michael and Matthew. Friends, family, dead.
"Leave me alone," Michael hissed behind the wheel, Matt beside him with a sigh, released by the seat belt tugging on his chest as Michael slowed to a stop at the local QuikTrip. "I mean, she leaves me for my best friend. Matt, you could have done something!"
"Can't stop love, dude. If Jingle wants to love up to a robot rather than a human, let her," Matt replied. "Jon left UpGrade for her, so I'm sure UpGrade's having the same conversation with Spine by now."
"They're leaving for Kazooland in about a week, too!" Michael said loudly, acting as if he hadn't heard Matt's words in the small Chevrolet. It was the Walter Family car, let used by only the band members who were trusted to drive a vehicle, and those who were running errands and picking up supplies from drop-off areas by the shady figures Peter talked to at a constant.
"Let her go, Mike," Matt growled. He was no therapist, but he was still there for Michael, despite how annoying it was getting. Sure, Jingle an Michael had been together since a month after she was created from the basics of Matt's dead little sister, but that didn't mean he could huff and puff and blow out Matt's mind with his pestering of him to get her back for him.
"I'm getting a beer. Want anything?" Michael asked, unbuckling his belt and letting it slap and slam against the desk it protruded from. Matt glared at Michael then.
"A beer? While driving? Are you really that stupid?" Matt questioned, looking into the QuikTrip to watch the other people of San Diego leave and enter, as if their lives depended on that one pack of cigarettes or sugar-powered doughnuts.
"Yes, Matt. I'm so stupid as to risk our lives over my depression of a broken heart caused by your dead sister. Shut up," he grunted, opening the door and stepping out into the brisk night air. It was October, and usually October wasn't this chill, but this week it was, and would feel that way for them for many more.
"Get me a Coke!" he yelled from inside the silver car, scratch marks from various clawed hands of robots permanently etched into the metal. Michael waved, letting him know he heard him, and entered the QuikTrip. A mom with her two tired-looking kids walked past him leaving with three bags of what looked like various candies and bags of chips. An old man purchased a lighter with an American flag on it while Michael passed the counter to the back end of the store.
As Michael ventured towards the drinks, Matt pulled out his phone, going through his texts. A new text from Peter made him groan. "U guys need 2 b here asap" it read. Great. Another shut down, accident, or robot threatening another robot. Just what the two needed.
Michael returned to the car with a bud-light and a coke-a-cola, passing the two to his bestie. "We need to get back to the manor, so you're not having this," Matt scolded, putting the bottle at his feet and opening the plastic bottle of soda for himself. Michael strapped himself in, glaring at Matt.
"Then I'm having it when we get there," he replied, starting up the engine. "And you're dealing with whatever. I'm having my drink, then going to bed."
"In Janelle's bed? Or my bed, since you gave yours up for Rabbit's mattress fort back in May?"
"On the couch," Michael yelled, pulling out of his parking spot. Matt instinctively grabbed hold of the car door, leaning back in his seat uncomfortably. He didn't trust Mad Michael. No one did. Last time he was mad he ripped Spine's wires out his neck. Everyone was afraid of him for three days; avoiding conversation, avoiding him.
Now Matt was in a car driving down the high way with a very upset Michael Reed, a bottle of beer at his feet and his Coke griped tightly by the cup holder, his heart beating in his ears and his hands shaking. "M-Michael? Mind slowing down a bit?" he asked, looking over at him with his blue eyes wide.
"Yeah, man," Michael replied, snapping to attention and releasing his foot slightly from the gas pedal, Matt letting out a sigh of relief.
According to the crash report, someone veered into the lane, causing Michael to hit the diving wall and total the car, the beloved beings inside. Peter decided it would be better for Michael's family not to know and to tell Matt's, for they were sort of known to that pain. They knew Janelle was dead, and they would now know Matthew was, well, you can only guess.
Jingle wasn't informed until the next morning, wondering why Michael hadn't changed out the batteries on her charger deck like he did ever night before. Jon and UpGrade were busy packing when they heard, both astounded. Rabbit was coloring on Matter Master David's face while he slept when she found out. Hatchworth was playing with spiders when he found out. Everyone else found out by telecommunications via Steve and Bee-Bop.
And now Spine stands over their graves, looking between the one with drum sticks on the head to the one with a pair of goggles on the head. Michael Philip Reed, Matthew Elton Smith, and beside them both lay the one he dreaded the most, the one who he saved after being thrown from a vehicle, Janelle Maryanne Smith-Walter.
Gabi put the two men in nicely pressed suits, made their hair look fancy, and lay them with flowers and their prized possessions. Matt's drumsticks were in the back of his shirt, and Michael's goggles were around his neck. Jingle didn't get to go to the funerals, but was walking up behind Spine, her Speed Racer plush toy in her hand. It was vintage, given to her by her Pappy, Peter the Sixth, from one of the previous Peters who owned it.
"Spine?" she asked, startling him, "What is Pappy working on?" Her vocoder was cracking from over use. She had been screaming in the vaults for the past day and a half. Spine turned slowly to look at her, seeing her hands damaged and pieces missing from her face. Spine let out a sigh of steam and walked to her, putting a hand on her shoulder.
"Pappy is working, so let him work. You know not to ask questions about what he's working on."
"But, I want to know if he's making Michael and Matt all better, like how he promised me." Their green eyes locked and he could see the oil remnants on her face and the golden colour of the plates in a dripping-down pattern.
"Yes," Spine said softly, "he's making them all better." Jingle, better known from her given name of The Wheel, smiled at him kindly, and he smiled back to her. "I'm going to stay out here for a while longer. Would you like to say anything to them before your battery runs dry?"
She nodded and slipped past him, looking to the two stones, then to her own. She sniffled, then knelt before Michael's, setting Speed Racer against his stone. Spine stood back, watching her every shaking move, seeing how badly she was affected. Her brother and her love, gone, ripped from her in an instant.
"Michael," she started, a little bit of static coming from her vocoder. "I am sorry. You were leaving me alone, and you did not respond to me when I called. You were not there when I was having nightmares, or when I was shutting down. No one was because they expected you to be there. I am sorry."
The Spine hung his head, Rabbit putting a hand to his shoulder. She must've walked over to them while Spine was watching, because she wasn't there before. Together they watched as she leaning over and kissed the stone ever so gently, wiping her face and falling back onto her bottom, curling up against his stone. A hand slipped into Spine's from his other side, surprised to see the pink-faced robot taking off her hat and putting it to her chest, sniffling.
"Jingle, would ya like to say somethin' to Matt?" Rabbit offered, stopping her from crying. She looked to her older sister and nodded, looking to the other stone. With great effort, she crawled to his stone and sat, crossing her legs and leaning against the stone, looking at the detailed etching of his name. Hatchworth walked up and stood next to UpGrade, pushing up his glasses.
"Matt, I miss you," was all she said before coughing and crying out, wrapping her shaking and damaged arms around his stone and crying into it. Spine looked to Rabbit who was wiping her face of her tears. So was Jon, who was covering his face and heaving. Rabbit kindly put a hand to his back and patted it in a rhythmic beat, looking to him with concern.
There they all stood, the magical five, watching and crying as Jingle sat and sobbed. They all remembered the fun times they had with the both of them them, all the concerts and parties and running around the manor in fixation over hitting one or the other. But there they all stood, feeling sympathy, regret, remorse, over The Wheel.
There all six robots of the Walter Robotics family were, at the edge of the Walter Cemetery. Rabbit, The Spine, The Jon, UpGrade, Hatchworth, and The Wheel; a family, and a broken one in rapid succession of death, replacements, and updates.
The wind blew, a whistling sound coming from the many holes in Hatchworth's face. The robots looked to each other, then UpGrade walked forward to Jingle, putting a hand to her shoulder and squatting down.
"C'mon now, Jingle," she said softly and sadly, "Let's go inside before it rains, kay? We can watch Speed Racer," she offered, looking back to the other bots who nodded. Jingle nodded and UpGrade helped her stand, walking with her and the other bots back into the manor, that empty feeling deep within all of the bots. The humans were gone. Who wouldn't feel empty?