Author's Note: Just something I slapped together just now based on a thought I had this morning when I should really be writing something else. :P Actually turned out to be a bit more serious than I anticipated when I realized that I really was onto something here, so that's actually a good thing. :)
"Y'know, I suppose I should ask you the obvious question, at least while I've got the chance."
Chell glanced up at the little, robotic, personality sphere as it rolled along it's rail, turned backwards so its blue eye faced her, the most likely only surviving human in the whole Aperture Science facility (or what was left of it), running along below him. She thought inwardly to herself if this was really a good time for any questions at all. True, Wheatly typically meant well, and was the only sentient device here that she had encountered that did. And, he was friendly, and good company. And he was supposedly trying to help her, but as they both knew very well already, his help had already gotten them in bigger trouble, and either way, Chell wasn't sure she could trust the little sphere that fully just yet. She was only following him now because there was little else she could do, and Wheatly clearly knew his way around these ruins better than she did.
Keeping that all in mind, she guessed Wheatly was entitled to asking a question or two of her. But not now. The time for that definitely wasn't now. Right now was the time to run. Fast. And try to quickly find a way out of here.
Because GLaDOS was still alive.
And they could both agree that was very bad.
"I was just thinking about earlier," Wheatly continued, his little spherical body moving in sync with his talking. He may be a robot that was nothing more than a single sphere with one robotic eye but despite not having much means of expressing emotion with all of that, he managed it quite well, "Y'know, when I…accidently…woke up you-know-who? Terribly sorry about that, too. Really, I am. Not at all what I had planned."
Chell knew he was sorry. He had so repeatedly again and again when their attempted escape went south with GLaDOS's reactivation and landed Chell back in an eerily familiar mess she had hoped she had already escaped.
"I was just thinking about what she said to you, and it's left me kind of lost. I'm…not kept in the loop very well about what happens in this place sometimes. Which, given circumstances, might be a good thing. But you two clearly have met before."
Chell slowed to a stop and looked intently up at Wheatly on his rail. She guessed his question before he even said it.
"So my question is, how do you two know each other? There's clearly a story."
Of all the questions he could've asked, it had to be this one. A question about an incident that she'd rather forget.
Now wasn't the time for this.
Wheatly wasn't going to let the subject drop, however. "She said it's been a 'long time' since she had seen you. Just how long? Surely not as long as I think it is, because if it's as long as I think it is, then I think that would put you at a time and place in this laboratory's history I don't think I like thinking about you being at…I don't think. Which leads me to my next point. This talk of you murdering her. Is that…I dunno…metaphorical? Or…did you really kill her? Or, at least try to? And when was that? Because, again, if it's the time I think it is…ugh, that would not be good."
Chell, as she frequently did, had little to say about the matter. What was there that she could say? Wheatly had already just about guessed the truth. It was remarkable that he hadn't done it before now. He clearly didn't like the sound of the truth, but it was the truth nonetheless.
"Are we possibly referring to some murdering incident that occurred before I came along?" Wheatly continued, obviously hoping the truth actually wasn't truth, "Because now that I think about it, there's only one murdering incident that I know of that took place against her, and that's…not a high point in history, not for the likes of me," he looked at her for a long moment with his one electric blue eye, that one eye again managing to convey more emotion than it probably should, "Please tell me it's not the event I'm thinking of."
Chell only hung her head, unable to deny what she knew to be true.
Wheatly's one eye widened. "It is the time I'm thinking of, isn't it?" he asked, "But then…that would make you responsible for…all of this."
The personality sphere looked around at their immediate surroundings, and Chell saw that if he had arms, Wheatly would be using them to motion at their tattered, aging, and ruined surroundings. Again, she couldn't make eye contact with the little robot.
"Well, that's just great. You do realize what you've done, right? I mean, sure, she probably had it coming to her, whatever it was that you did to her. But didn't you stop to think about the consequences that might have had on the rest of us that were stuck fending for ourselves?"
Wheatly's tone was rising. It was clear that he wasn't exactly thrilled to hear this. It only made feel Chell more guilty about it, which also made her feel stupidly guilty about hurting the feelings of a robot.
"Why is it I'm always the last to know about these things?" Wheatly ranted on, now wandering back and forth on his rail, talking aloud more to himself than Chell, "Why is that? Does the universe simply not like me? Heck, I was the last to know she bit it when it all began! Sure, I thought 'good riddance' like we all did at the time, as she certainly didn't seem to be doing us any favors back then, but that was before we knew this would come of it!" again, he made the armless gesture at his surrounding with that one eye of his as a replacement, then sighed, "You know, I didn't think much of it when I found you where I did, all locked up and in stasis, but now I think I'm starting to see why. To keep you from messing things up more. Probably somebody's idea of punishment for what you did to her, and to us goodly robots that never did anything wrong to you humans."
Chell looked around that her decaying surroundings, and agreed with that sentiment. She barely remembered events after she had supposedly 'murdered' GLaDOS, but she knew it was no accident she had ended up back inside Aperture Science and in stasis for who knew how long just to be woken back up and find that she was quite likely no better off than she was the first time, if not altogether worse. This probably was meant to be punishment for her potentially reckless but seemingly fitting and oddly satisfying actions from before.
"Probably some kind of punishment for me too, and I didn't even do anything! But that's how it always works! Never had any kind of respect in this place. So they stick me with the fate of being the one stuck with guiding the very human who messed up all of our lives!"
Wheatly fell silent for a moment, not at all looking happy, then suddenly rounded on Chell, glaring at her.
"Y'know, I don't have to put up with this. Not at all! In fact, I haven't been stuck with this for one bit! I can quit at anytime and just go back to my stupid, boring, life running around and around and around on this stupid rail! Maybe I can't escape this mad joint and the whole crazy lot of you, but it seems I was better off that way! So goodbye, you smelly human! You do what you want, but I will have no part of it!"
And with that, Wheatly spun around on his rail and sped off on down it, heading away from Chell. Chell started a half-hearted attempt to follow, but Wheatly went faster than she could run, and was rapidly out of sight, and gone, leaving her alone. Silence quickly fell in the ruins of the facility, which sent a chill down Chell's spine as she realized just how very vulnerable she felt standing around like this on her own. She didn't have any idea where to go from here, not without Wheatly. This was a part of Aperture Science she had never been in before, outside the accursed Enrichment Center, and was suddenly much more complicated than she remembered it being anyway. And to top it off, the broken feelings of a robot stung her much more than she thought it would.
For a long while she just stood there, feeling lost.
But then she decided it wasn't like she was beaten yet. She had been in a situation like this before and managed actually rather admirably, and survived. So if she had done it once, what was really stopping her from doing it again? Sure, maybe she did have two AIs mad at her now, but she really only needed to worry about the one, and avoid the other, which would be easy as he seemed to be avoiding her now. And maybe she was to blame for getting them all in this situation of here and now, but if she could do it over, even if she did know what she knew now, she'd do it all over again with few qualms, simply because she knew it was the right thing to do. Regardless of what happened, and how it was done, GLaDOS had to be stopped, and right now, she was the only one willing to do it.
Heartened by these thoughts, she was just about to venture off in the most practical direction when Wheatly came rolling back to her at top speed.
"I'm sorry!" he declared as he approached, sounding back to his relatively optimistic self, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean any of that! I'm just…y'know…bitter for being left alone in a crumbing facility with no one to talk to but a bunch of demented robots for the past several hundred years, half of which are no longer working right! I just wanted to blame my troubles on…something and then lash out at it! I mean, can you blame me? It's a miracle I haven't gone mad in this accursed place myself!" he slowed to a stop to hang above Chell's head like he had never left, "And then I thought to myself, why am I chewing you out? You couldn't have known what would've happened when you did what you did! What you did was perfectly logical given the circumstances. And you're just as much a victim in all of this as I am! You're not to blame, not at all, and I'm sorry I even stopped to think that. 'Cause we both know who's really to blame for all of this."
Chell nodded. GLaDOS was to blame for all of this.
"And to heck with this whole joint, anyway! Like I really care what happens to it, and all in it. Hardly anything left to care about. Nobody that matters, at least. Just me, you, and Miss Back-from-the-dead-who-I-hope-had-stayed-dead-and-will-hopefully-soon-be-dead-again. Hasn't brought me any good staying here anyway, not at all, so I figure, the sooner we get out of here, the better! And if we have to fight to do it, then so be it! I'm willing to die trying, how about you?"
He looked at Chell with his expressive single eye again, and looked for all the world to be smiling, despite not having a mouth. So Chell returned the grin.
And then, it was back to business.
"So, where were we?" Wheatly asked, looking around quickly to get his bearing before starting off again, Chell following, "Ah yes, escaping. This way should do it, then, I think. I remember this corridor, too. Funny story to go with it, too, from about a century back when those blasted turrets tried to organize themselves and failed terribly. Good times, I tell you, good times…"