Disclaimer: I do not own Steam Powered Giraffe nor any of its characters or any characters in their lore. I just do very silly things with words.
Delilah had never been this ill. The last of her longevity potions had not only failed to sustain her, but had also run out. Her landlady, in all kindness, had called for an ambulance and saw her into a hospital. She meant well, but the doctors could only make her comfortable and refused to admit the people she most wanted to see.
She needed to see Viviana... but they wouldn't let her darling wife in to see her. And a vampire could only go where they were invited.
And now she was just... waiting. Waiting for the last struggle for breath. Waiting to drown in a mixture of her own blood and sputum. The doctors could do nothing for her. Nothing, besides giving her more opium and waiting for her last breath.
Delilah didn't open her eyes when she heard the glass break. Opening her eyes was too hard. Breathing was almost too hard, but not breathing still hurt more than trying to breathe. She was awake, but too weak to move. Too drugged to open her eyes. They had already cut her hair. Now they alternated between propping her up in the open sunshine and attempts at hydrotherapy.
She barely had the strength to moan when someone lifted her into a sitting position.
"Shh, shh, shh, there now," cooed an unfamiliar voice. No. Not quite unfamiliar. She vaguely remembered it from somewhere. "Drink this. It will help you, and you will be free."
It tasted sweet. And finally made breathing too painful to endure.
Thaddeus Becile waited until the dead of night to extract Delilah from her grave. Any moment, now, she would be waking again. Back from the dead.
Walter's histrionics had been... epic. He even had his ridiculous metal monsters in tow in some bizarre form of mourning. Thaddeus had kept away. Laughing at a graveside was sure to get him locked away where he couldn't help her. And if he didn't help her, she would die for real.
He opened the coffin. Already, his Green Matter potion was restoring signs of vigour. Her lovely hair was growing back. Visibly so. Admittedly, it was growing back black, but no cure was perfect. He ran a gentle hand over her pale cheek. "Delilah... my darling Delilah. Wake up."
Her eyes had turned green. They were still a little milky, but that would change. The flush of life returned to her as she breathed in. "Am I?" she whispered. "Am I your darling?"
"Yes," he breathed. "I am. I'll love you for the rest of my life. I'll keep you safe. I'll protect you. I'll make you well. Just come with me. Love me back. It's all I ask." He helped her out of her grave. Hauled himself up and re-buried the box. Let Walter come and weep over an empty coffin. Over a decoy. He deserved it.
"Ask," she repeated. "Come with me. Love me back."
It was all he ever wanted.
Captain Alexander thought his latest passengers were a little on the odd side. Okay, a lot on the odd side. The fellow doted after the lady. The very sick lady. She spent most of her time in their cabin or in a chair when he took her out to take in the sunshine. Both looked... rather green.
The fellow, Becile, told an interesting tale. He and his fiancé were going to Egypt for her health, and he feared she would not make it across the atlantic. They'd been holding off on her nuptuals due to her illness, and now it looked like she would never improve.
And, to be fair, she did look like she was next to Death's Door.
The ceremony was short and small, with just the two of them, himself, and the bosun for a witness. She had to be coached in her responses, the poor dear.
But there was still something... strange... about the entire affair.
Captain Alexander worried at it in his mind for the entire trip to Egypt. Spent most of his free time watching the lady and trying to work out what was wrong.
He didn't get it until after they disembarked at the mouth of the Nile.
She wasn't breathing.
He worked this out a little too late to warn Egypt, but he had a friend in San Diego he could warn. Captain Alexander laid on all sail and steam for New York. If he hurried, he could get a telegraph to Walter Manor inside of a fortnight.
So hard to think, now. Under the green. Random memories assaulted her. Faces without names. Names without faces. Feelings without meaning. Words without context.
Thaddeus was a constant in her days, now. Filling her with the green that kept her alive. That gave strength to her limbs.
That made her weak to his words.
The green crystals were her only food, now. His solution of green her only drink. His words... her only thoughts.
And yet... she remembered other words. Awkward, bumbling words of another man. The sweet comfort of a woman she once knew.
Thaddeus promised her the world remade in his image. He made the other green ones build things for him, but kept her separate in his bedchamber. Made her say the words he wanted to hear.
So hard to think.
But she remembered...
A giant giraffe with her name.
The colour blue.
The image of a man in white. His features were fading, now. She could remember he was tall... and almost endearingly foolish whenever he spoke to her.
She and Viviana always laughed about him.
Who was Viviana?
A name without meaning... under the green.
But it was that echo of a love that sparked whenever Thaddeus called Delilah "my love". It was that echo that made her kiss. Made her surrender nightly to his invasions of her body.
And afterwards, there was always the green. And forgetfulness.
Thaddeus Becile had the woman he loved. Every night, she loved him. And every morning, he and his Green Matter minions made more copper elephants. The copper elephants made more minions... and so on.
Today, the Nile. Tomorrow, Africa. The next tomorrow... who knew?
He would make Delilah his queen, just as he had made her his wife. Just as he had made her his lover.
He could rule the world. And the very last person he would put under his thrall would be that idiot Walter.
Unstable green matter. Ha! It was the perfect healthy sustenance. He ate and drank it. Breathed it in when he directed his factories. It had done him no harm! Every day, he felt more powerful.
Every day, he had more power.
More and more!
There would be no end to it.
He would conquer the Earth. He would rule the moon. He would raise an empire in the very stars! He would have a dynasty and all would bow to him. Servants for every need. Everything he could want and more.
No-one would dare stand against him!
It was all rather a shock when he came against that idiot Walter ahead of his planned revenge.
He'd made the giant giraffe into a weapon. The musicians into soldiers. Four metal men, a steam-powered giraffe and one blue-matter lunatic should not have overpowered his army of elephants and undead minions...
They should not have had the means or the method to beat him.
He ran from his green matter palace. Forgot his queen in favour of saving his skin.
She was almost done, anyway.
All she ever did these days was repeat one phrase.
Delilah saw him again. One last time. The man in white.
He was white, now, too. White and blue. His blond hair turned black.
Just like hers had turned black and limp.
She lacked the strength to do much, without the green. Now that Thaddeus had gone. But she remembered him.
Colonel. Peter. Alexander. Walter.
His metal men put down their weapons. One said, "This one ain't a fighter, Pappy."
Another said, "It's a girl. Hitting girls is bad."
Colonel Walter stepped forwards. Cupped her face gently. So very gently.
He was weeping.
"Delilah," he said. "What did he do to you?"
And she said the only thing she knew how to say. A plea for mercy. The only thing she wanted out of anyone in this world. The only thing she needed.
"Kill me?" she begged. "Bury me again?"
It was a relief when he finally did so.
Colonel Walter was stoic as the coffin descended again into the earth by her gravestone. His four metal sons didn't understand, so he kept his tears for privacy and for his beloved Iris.
Viviana could have helped her. If only...
There were too many 'if only's in this world. Far too many.
Including, to much of his regret - if only he'd known dear Iris was pregnant before he'd left for Egypt. Now he had to wait until she survived the twins' birth before their marriage.
He'd saved Delilah from Becile's machinations, true. But it was a pyrrhic victory at best. Self defeat at worst.
If only he'd brought Viviana with him.
But now there was only a grave. And apologies. And silence.
"I'm sorry," he said.
Viviana cut him dead.
If only he'd stopped Becile before he hatched this mad plan...
"I'm sorry," he whispered to the tombstone.
Unit Three hugged him. "Maybe she'll wake up tomorrow," he said.
If only his boys knew what death was. He tried to explain, but they had no idea. They were only a few months old. They'd seen the Green Matter zombies get up again and again, until they literally fell apart.
They didn't know why this one was still 'sleeping'.
If only he'd told the cemetery staff to guard this one grave.
The Spine said, "Can we get our hands back, please?"
He had his life. He had his boys. He had his lover. He had twins on the way. It didn't seem very fair.
If only he'd invited Viviana to visit Delilah...
He had a sort of happiness. But he felt like he didn't deserve it.
Colonel Peter A. Walter could not save Delilah. Not in the way he wanted. But he would make sure that his robots had the power to save the world. He would work on that for the rest of his days.
People came and went. He knew that. But his machines were built to last. They would carry on his wishes long after he joined Delilah in eternal repose. They would spread love and happiness wherever they went. They would help the helpless. Give hope to the hopeless. They would... they would give joy to the joyless.
And maybe, in time, they would teach him how to smile again.
But not today.