Dull grey eyes watched the soft light streaming in from the window, all the noise of daytime hours fading to silence as the world around her shut down for the night. An endless cycle of activity and rest, directed not by one's own choice but whether or not the sky happened to be bright or dark. A glance at the clock told her that it was almost midnight, the beginning of another day still hours off. In the moment, it felt as of that first ray would never flood into the quiet room, though from experience she knew that not to be true. Time went on, no matter what. All things on the Earth could come to an end, and the seconds would continue on, dragging the universe with it in it's unrelenting grip.
If she could stop time, stop things from changing, then she would. She would stop everything, all of reality itself, if it meant she could stay there. In her bed, with his arms wrapped around her, his heat seeping into her cool skin.
But you can't, can you, love?
She blinked, watching the moon, hearing the voice that would never be able to reach her, not really. Wheatley was far away, if he was even still alive. He was right, she couldn't. Time was beyond her control, beyond anyone's control. A mass of chaos, of constant movement, a rush of energy even when all else was still.
You can't do anything. Powerless. Helpless. Now you know how I feel. Do you even care? Of course you don't care. Who cares about little Wheatley?
She had. She still did. Yet, it didn't matter anymore. There was no getting him back. They couldn't get him back on their own, and if they tried to get help from those who could, Wheatley would be taken away to another lab. To be dissected and experimented on, because outside of Aperture there were no living Artificial Intelligence. None that could think on their own, that could make decisions, that could feel. Getting him back would have only hurt him more.
No one can hurt me as much as you have, love.
Chell shifted gently, carefully untangling herself from Doug's embrace. It was a slow process, she had to stop several times, to let him fall back into a deeper sleep as every movement threatened to pull from his restless dreams and into reality. Once free, she sat up, and looked down on him, taking in how his fingers dug almost desperately into the blankets now he no longer had her to hold on to. Her gaze shifted to his face, eyes clenched shut, mouth turned downward in a frown. The older he got, the more fragile he looked, a hollow man of glass that could be broken with the slightest touch. Though she had done her best in the passing years to protect him from any danger, including herself, he had only degraded further.
She sighed, and in the quiet room, she could clearly hear the rattle of her lungs.
What is that poor bastard ever going to do without you?
Turning from him, she slid her fall boots off so she could walk without making any noise, and stood, swaying for a moment as she tried to adjust. She moved around to his side of the bed, to the dresser on the far wall, and opened the top drawer. Tugging the bottle out of it's hiding place in the corner, she took out two small pills and swallowed them. He was almost out again, though he didn't seem to find the loss of his medication too bothersome. He'd commented more than once that he must be taking them then forgetting he'd done so, but he hadn't yet told his therapist what was happening. It could pose a problem if the doctor decided to monitor him, but until then she would continue her theft, if only to keep her own nightmares out of her head.
You know what you are? Selfish. But that's not anything new, is it?
She put his bottle back where she'd found it and returned to sit on her side of the bed. It would take time for the core's voice to fade before she could slip into sleep without his ranting. He was always angry with her, enraged as he was the last time they'd met. She hoped that in truth he had calmed, if only slightly, but she didn't know. She couldn't know. She would likely never know.
Not quite as cautious as when she'd left, she laid down beside Doug again, pulling him close to her to curl around him. He immediately latched onto her, a tiny whimper bubbling up from his throat. Her name spilled from his lips as his face found the pulse in her throat, drawing as close as the boundary of their own skin would let him. Though he was taller than her, the scientist had always felt small in her arms, a tiny, trembling thing that wept for her. What was he going to do without her?
He would die. He'd almost died more than once even with her presence in his life, what else was going to happen if she left him? She couldn't even warn him what was coming, not with his undeserved belief in her perfection, in her immortality. An angel in human form, and no matter how she worded it, there was no convincing him otherwise in a way that wouldn't destroy him or otherwise simply be ignored.
As he squeezed as hard as his feather touch would allow, Chell felt a pressure in her chest, an overwhelming urge to cough that she bit back. Within moments her lungs were burning, her eyes closed to prevent them from watering, a tiny tremor running through her that he wouldn't be able to miss. Doug, though she knew he felt it, didn't draw attention to her momentary shudder, only murmured her name again, breath warm against her neck. She knew him well enough to know that it wasn't that he didn't notice, it was that he didn't want to notice. He wanted, needed to see her as the flawless being that reflected back at her in his eyes. He needed her to be perfect, or he couldn't find it in himself to function.
She let out a long breath as the flare of agony faded, her chest gurgling louder than before, though she seemed to be the only one who heard it. Her hands went to his hair, nails gently grazing along his scalp, a soothing, repetitive motion. Before long, he was asleep again, trusting in her health as he'd trusted her throughout her life, both inside and outside of Aperture.
A peace settled in over her as she finally started to drift off herself. All she had to do was survive longer than he did. Then he could be happy for the rest of his life. And then she'd be happy, too.