EverStarcatcher on DeviantART requested that I do a Chell x Narrator. And so I did.


Michelle, I think I've got it now. I've got a plan so we won't get lost anymore.

The man adjusted his slate gray bowtie and smoothed out the wrinkles in his little white gloves. He checked the story's script in his hold, tucking the ink pen he'd been scribbling the printed words out with back over his ear. When he saw himself proper and tidy, he again called attention to the woman beside him.

Michelle, are you listening?

The woman whom this man referred to as Michelle leaned against the beige wall, her eyes only a quarter open and staring lazily into oblivion. She asked for more time in the form of a grumble, and that apparently was not an acceptable answer.

Michelle!

A gloved hand took her shoulder, shaking her violently back and forth. In a second flat, she was jolted back into awareness, and she pushed herself away from the wall to stand next to her companion.

Compared to the man in the bowtie and gloves (which were always teased about how they made him resemble the iconic cartoon mouse), Michelle, who preferred to be known as 'Chell', didn't look so prim or orderly. She always kept her hair tied back, giving little to no effort in doing it. She had her white cotton shirt with the sleeves rolled up in order to not bother her much. Her orange jacket was secured tightly around her waist, and was also rarely used. The purple rings beneath her eyes told everyone of her lack of sleep, not that her occasional periods of drifting off didn't already give that away.

But running around an office all day was difficult work. The man, who labeled himself the title of 'Narrator', had the very important responsibility of caring for a story and describing it as they went along. A peculiar job to Chell, but she brushed it past her a long while ago.

Unfortunately, they made a wrong turn of direction, nearly crippling the story, and getting them lost for hours.

Try to keep yourself awake. This is important, the Narrator advised. Look at this.

He presented a thick yellow Line™ across the floor of the office. It™ stretched to an unbelievable length, of which It™ didn't seem to have an end. He seemed proud of his work, putting on a satisfied grin.

I call This™ the Adventure Line™. Just a simple measure to prevent us from losing track of the story.

And so they followed the Adventure Line™.

It didn't take long for Chell to raise her eyebrows at this Line™, for It™ swerved in zigzags at times, sometimes unnecessarily taking a loop around tables and chairs. At times, It'd™ go to the extremes and splay across the ceiling.

She informed this to the Narrator.

Nonsense, said the Narrator. Do you think I'd put my faith in the Line™ if I had any beliefs that It™ was anything but dependable?

It's™ fool-proof, Michelle; I'm one hundred percent sure of that.

Chell snorted inwardly. It was like trying to convince a gullible child that the existence of Santa Clause stood solely on the grounds of fantasy. But she was in no position to protest if she wanted to keep the Narrator in a friendly, non-argumentative mood.

And even when the Line™ began to swerve into nooks and crannies unattainable by the two, bouncing right back on course afterwards, the Narrator still kept a lively spring in his step, conducting the way for the search of a story.

At least one of them had a happy time on this long-winded adventure.


Chell had enough.

They continued to follow the Line™, ultimately racing around in a convoluted circle not once, not twice, not three times–but twelve times.

That stubborn Narrator just wouldn't give it up. His optimism became heavily forced around the eighth circle about, but still he insisted the story was just around the corner, that the Line™ would never ever fail on them.

Too bad he didn't realize his blunder by the third circuit.

The sake of his composure no longer was of any importance to Chell. She pulled the Narrator back by the vibrant yellow sleeve of his suit and expressed her opinion as kindly as she could.

What? The Narrator flinched back, aghast by Chell's audacity to even question the helpfulness of the Line™.

Come on, Michelle, please, he pleaded. The story's on the Line™.

He held the mess of papers up to Chell's face, and she plucked them from his hands, skimming through each page, analyzing each instruction they displayed with a grain of salt. The only instruction displayed underneath the endless scrabbles of black ink was just one word, and this word angered her: 'Line™'

And if we just walk a little bit further, I strongly believe we'll finally get back on track–

Chell shoved the papers back at him crossly before he could finish his excuse, which was basically the equivalent of stressing an uncompromising, unwavering 'no'.

She stormed to nearest available door, opening it wide.

You're not really going to leave, are you? asked the Narrator. He made it sound more like a statement rather than a question.

You're just going to give up? Just like that?

Chell kept her back towards him, one arm clutching the white frame. She finally shut the door behind her, and it gave off a dull, hollow thump, leaving the Narrator to deal with his own problems.

In return, he stomped a foot to the floor in exasperation, soon exclaiming a theatrical "Well… I never!"

With his hands cupped around his mouth like a megaphone, he haughtily shouted at the door:

And I thought they said you were 'tenacious'!

His arms flopped to his sides when he didn't get an answer. He looked back to the yellow Line™, the Line™ that he believed would never go on the blink, and he let out a tiny whimper in defeat.

Right… the story.


The irony of this situation made Chell deliberately knock her head against the wall.

After leaving the Narrator in a fit of frustration because of their constant misguided treks around the office, she was already lost on her own.

Slogging her feet forward without even lifting them off the carpet, she was about ready to collapse right there in the middle of the hallway. It's not like it would gain any puzzled glares. Everyone in the office had just disappeared off the face of the planet.

Something caught her eye.

Not you, she hissed in her head at the sight of that deviant of a Line™. It™ peeked out from beneath the floor, turning around the corner, revealing just enough to make Itself™ be seen.

She laughed at It™ when she simply turned the knob of another door and took another path.

There It™ was, peeping out from the ceiling.

So Chell took another door.

It™ greeted her on the walls.

She took another door.

It™ splayed down the corner.

She took another door.

This Thing™ just kept mocking her.

Chell grew annoyed and took another door, only to have it refuse to open for her. She checked another, and another, and another, and another, and another, until she realized that every single door was locked.

She sent a nasty glare in the Line's™ direction, before unwillingly deciding to follow It™.

This time, It™ hardly deviated, keeping a steady path onward. The more distance Chell covered, the more masses of crumpled up paper she had to drag her feet through. Curious, she acquired one, and smoothed it out.

'Exit Office 427. At the two doors, walk through the left one-

Walk through the right door, past the employee lounge, then walk through the nearest door-.

Go down the maintenance lift out of what can be assumed as spite for the story. Go right-.

No, left-.

-Somewhere-.

Enter the garage, going back on track-somehow stumbling into the monitor room... inexplicably (?).'

She looked at the next one.

'Exit Office 427. At the two doors-,

IMPROV STORYLINE

... Apparently, improv is really, really boring.

Chell held back a laugh when she read the last part, covering a hand over her mouth.

'Exit Office 427. At the two doors,-

Really?

Backtrack, entering blue corridors.With the story back on track-

After hitting a dead-end, backtrack again to get on with the story- enter some random attic that had absolutely no relevance to story (?)

-WIN THE GAME-'

Each time she finished reading a piece, she'd fold it up and pick up another piece to read, like following a trail of litter.

'Follow the Adventure Line™'

'Second circuit.

Third circuit.

Fourth circuit.

Fifth circuit.

Sixth circuit.

Seventh circuit.

Eighth circuit.

Ninth

Line™'

'Michelle left.'

'It's not like I need her.'

'Really.'

'Honestly.'

'Without a doubt.'

'-I don't have a clue-.'

'Right.

I can handle finding the story on my own.

The Line™ knows where it is.

-I hope-.'

'Thirteenth circuit.

Fourteenth circuit.

Fifteenth circuit.

Sixteenth.

Seventeenth.

I'm going absolutely nowhere-somewhere. Definitely somewhere.'

The Line™ disappeared under a door as Chell picked up the last note.

'Stupid Line™.'

She could practically hear the bitterness in the Narrator's voice as she read that one simple line.

Looking up, she saw that the door in front of her actually led to the office broom closet. Upon opening the door, she wasn't surprised of what she witnessed.

The Narrator sat against the wall of the closet, hugging his knees. His shoulders were slumped over rather awkwardly, and he possessed a tired, peeved expression while he rested his chin on his arms.

Upon noticing Chell, he glanced up at her, then at the dust-bunnies littering the cement floor, and mumbled through his crossed arms:

I may have misjudged the reliability of the Line™.

Chell could've easily called the Narrator out on this one, describing all the things that she had proven right all along, and boasting about it, effectively snuffing out the his pride. But she just simply puffed out a breath, swung the door back, and sat by the low-spirited little man on floor.

I honestly don't know what to do anymore… I'm completely lost about this. I don't even know where I'm going. And the story… well, that's out the window, isn't it?

Chell's eyes light up faintly. She unfolded the paper she saved, promptly picking the pen out the Narrator's hair. He failed to protest, or even give a small retort about what exactly the lady was doing.

Chell scribbled a sentence onto the paper–

'IMPROV STORYLINE?'

And she gave it the Narrator.

Very cute, Michelle, he said, not entirely amused by her joke. But the story's just rubbish at this point. It's best to not even try.

Chell crumpled the paper up and stuck the pen back over his ear. She let her head lean against the tool shelf, not even caring how uncomfortable it was.

I initially thought that story was everything. If there is no story, I am not me. I'm a narrator, right? My profession lies in that story. If the story is gone, then I'm gone with it. To simply put it, it's similar to a 'do-or-die' kind of concept–not as 'deathlike', though–but, still.

And… my apologies for all that Line™-nonsense from earlier. Got so desperate, I sort of went a little blind.

Chell, speaking inaudibly, also gave her apologies for all that 'Line™-nonsense', and for taking her anger out on the Narrator.

It's alright now. It's basically history.

The Narrator then made a psssht noise through his teeth, most likely in jest.

And here I am, sitting in a broom closet, pouting about a story that's now ceased to exist. At least we still exist–that's a nice thought.

He didn't notice that Chell had already closed her eyes.

I'm sure you've handled worse back in your time. I can understand if this whole situation came across as ridiculous to you.

He chuckled to himself.

I'm surprised you put up with me for that long. It's award-worthy.

But–you can agree that it was kind of fun, until went downhill, that is.

Running around, aimlessly looking for what isn't there–it's an adventure within itself.

The Narrator refused to speak for a while after that. He became noticeably stressed.

He picked at his gloves, as if impulsively.

You don't meet a whole lot of people here. If I can precisely recall, it's mainly just me in these offices... and the story...

I'm fortunate to have a real person like you I can talk to, even if you're not the greatest conversationalist. I'm not one to judge that.

It was a pleasure getting to know you. I can tell you're a great person… I should really be thanking you for just staying here.

He flinched in surprise. It became known to him that Chell was sleeping soundly by his side for the entire duration of the one-sided conversation. His shoulders slumped over again, a good sign that he was about ready to carp.

But instead, the Narrator leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the temple of her head. As soon as he did that, he stood up, dusted off his vest, and left the closet, declaring to no one in particular that he needed time to catch some fresh air.

The greatest smile spread across Chell's face.