Half Life Fan Fiction
Misery Loves Company
By Kraven Ergeist
Though Alyx Vance was regarded as a tough girl by most people who knew her, she was hardly invulnerable. She had her moments of weakness, just like everybody else. She hid them well, but they were there for those who were close enough to witness them. Her mother had known about this all too well before she passed away. And her dad…
The showerhead had long since run out of hot water to bury herself in, but she remained under its cold, rough cascade all the same. She hardly felt it. The noise drowned out the world around her, and the temperature was causing her to hyperventilate without realizing it.
She didn't care.
It was hours after she had first stepped into the shower that knocks and concerned calls sounded from behind the bathroom door. They went unheard, as the heir to the leadership of the resistance lost herself to the cold forgiving waterfall. She didn't want to venture back out into that world of hurtful truth. Here, her solitude was a comfort, a familiar, un-alarming state of existence where one person pampered them self, confined from all view. Here, being alone was normal.
Out there, her solitude was a curse. She had no mother, and now no father. She was the last of her family, the sole survivor of the name of Vance, and doomed to lead the resistance on her own.
She was on her knees as tears blended with freezing cold spring water that came straight from an underground well where White Forest received its water supply. She balanced her weight on the top of her skull against the sterile, institutional beige tile walls of the shower stall. In her mind, all she could see was the Advisor ripping into her father's spinal column and…
The door finally opened. She expected a nurse or one of the female members of the resistance – there were depressingly few in number, but she knew every one of them, and any would have come in to try in vein to offer sympathy.
Instead, she saw Gordon.
Gods, he was the last person she wanted to see right now! Not now, not like this! Why was he here!? Couldn't he tell she wanted – needed to be alone!? Her face lit up in shame as she tried to raise her voice to scream at him, but all that came out was a traumatized sob.
Gordon's eyes were averted as he mechanically shut off the shower knob, ceasing Alyx's senseless waste of White Forest's water supply. In his other hand was a towel, which he deposited almost casually over her shoulders, covering most of her body. Only then did he turn his eyes upon her.
Alyx was a being of vibrance. Even when she was deflated of energy, she still seemed so full of life, like any hardship needed only some quantity of time to get over. He suspected, however, that this was a diligently contrived mask that she wore to protect herself from the harsh world that the Combine had put them in. She had been brought into this world of mayhem and war, and had been at its mercy since childhood. So it stood to reason that she maintain a tough visage for all to see.
Which is why she so desperately did not want anyone to see her like this, least of all Gordon, the person whose faith she needed the most. She couldn't stand the thought of him seeing her at her weakest moment, and having the image of herself she had worked so hard to instill in him shatter like so much glass.
But still, the tears wouldn't stop – the thought of Gordon seeing her cry only made her remember why she was crying in the first place, which caused her to once again relive it for a brief moment, which only made her cry even harder. She hardly had the energy to lift her head, let alone stand up. Her body was made of jelly, and her eyes were swollen red.
"Gordon…" she managed, huffing each syllable out with a sob as her throat constricted around each gasp of air. She suddenly realized she was shivering, and that Gordon's hands had not left her back, drying her with the towel that he embraced her with. She felt weak and exposed, but he spoke not a word, and made not a sound as he diligently dried her off, his hands lingering perhaps longer than was necessary, but they gave her warmth.
Her face finally lifted and she managed to look into his eyes. His hands slowed their work as his piercing gaze bore into her like a siren, his calm, stern face a bastion of stability and fortitude.
He was her strength. He was her weakness.
"Oh Gordon…" and all of the sudden, the tears flowed freely. She collapsed against him, her partially damp arms draped over his shoulders, dampening the plain white button down that made him look like the professor he was that he wore as the HEV suit was cleaned and recharged. Her tears bled into the collar of his shirt, as his arms pressed into her back, offering himself to the storm of her misery. She let out a sob as her whole body shook against him, soaking up every bit of warmth he offered.
She would never have made it this far without him, and she knew it. She, her father and the resistance owed him everything, and she felt like a coward and a fool by sitting here, closed off from the world and weeping about her woes. But Gordon offered only patience, and abided her selfish whims to feel sorry for herself and mourn her lost father. She knew every moment she wasted here only increased the unlikelihood that there would be anything waiting for them at the Borealis.
Still, she allowed herself to savor this moment, soaking in as much of Gordon as she could. She wanted to hold onto him forever, to burn his essence into her memory. He was all she had left.
He brought his hand up to her face, brushing aside a tear with his thumb as he smiled down at her, not inquiring or demanding anything from her, but simply being her silent companion. No one had offered her so much and asked for so little. She felt greedy and ashamed to have made him break decorum by walking in on her like this, but she was grateful nonetheless.
It softened the blow of reality, the knowledge that Gordon was still with her, and he would never abandon her. It made facing the knowledge of her father's loss and the fact that she still had a job to do that much more bearable. She still felt the grief…but maybe…
She leaned into Gordon's caress and kissed the palm of his hand out of gratitude, her eyes still full of tears.
His response was only silence. Familiar, comforting silence.
Maybe, with him by her side, she stood a chance.