Welcome to my first Portal fic! Help yourself to a large dose of Wheatley from this prologue. I hope you enjoy!
Prologue: The Beginning of The End
It's hiding in the dark, its teeth are razor sharp
There's no escape for me
It wants my soul, it wants my heart
No one can hear me scream, maybe it's just a dream
Maybe it's inside of me
Stop this monster…
It had seemed like a great idea at the time.
Wheatley hadn't expected to discover her. Alive, that is. Few of the other subjects had been; how could they? Apparently the life support systems in the Extended Relaxation units had been down for a couple hundred years or so. Not that it had been his fault; of course not. No one had seen fit to let him know about the systems crash in that area, so how was he to know? Management would certainly have blamed him, had any of them still been living, but that did not make him the sole cause of the shut down.
No, that had happened many years before, when she had been taken offline—in a rather explosive way.
It had been so long since the incident, that none of the active cores could remember the individual who finally defeated her. All that remained where whispers in the dilapidating halls of Aperture, rumors that it had been a human to finally rid them of her. If this was true, he certainly wished he could have been given appendages—not only to shake the human's hand, but to outright hug him as well. A liberator, for certain; a liberator that had high-tailed it out of the labs as soon as he could.
Wheatley couldn't blame him.
Life as an Artificial Intelligence Core was a nonstop, ongoing existence. If he wasn't shut down or permanently damaged in some way, then there was nothing to stop him from being alive. He could slip into idle mode if he chose so, to help pass the countless hours of doing practically nothing, forever attached to his blasted Management Rail. Other than that, he simply existed. He personally wouldn't call it living—spending three hundred years on the same tracks exploring the same laboratories to the point of where tiny cracks in the walls and ceilings were committed to memory wasn't much of a life.
Yet when your existence is seemingly endless, time slowly fades away. True, he had a built in internal clock that would give him the exact date and time down to the second if he so chose to view it. But what was the point of keeping track? Nothing ever changed. Especially not with her being offline. In which case he was rather thankful for his long stretch in limbo, given the alternative; who knew what scheme she would come up with, now that she had been destroyed by a mere human?
He'd rather not find out.
It had been nearly 297 years since that fateful day, when her reign ended and his purgatory began. It had eventually dawned on him to check out the Extended Relaxation chambers; how he had forgotten them for so long was embarrassing in its own right. He had hurried to them, remembering the nearly countless amounts of humans trapped in their deceptive embrace—only to find the mass majority of them beyond being revived. He had winced at that, if only slightly, as they had been test subjects and had signed the proper forms, mind, and knew what they were getting into. Given that they had read the fine print, which one should always do, particularly when applying with Aperture. Too much time spent in Extended Relaxation lead to some rather nasty consequences, ranging from brain damage to outright death. These people had known that, obviously, else they probably wouldn't have agreed to it. He hoped.
There were, however, a handful of humans that remained active. That was a miracle in its own right, given the state of disrepair the units had fallen under. Yet here they were, snoozing peacefully in their little boxes, waiting to be revived. Blissfully unaware of the centuries they had slumbered, of how the world around them had changed for the worse. Of how testing was no longer part of the regimen they had signed up for; how they couldn't really do a proper, complete test run even if they wanted to. Not anymore.
She was dead.
Wheatley admittedly felt a flash of envy at the humans in stasis; he knew the minute he woke them, they'd most likely make a break for the surface. Humans were naturally blessed with limbs, all the easier to move about with. Of course, they would need him to navigate the building; the units hung on rails similar to his own. If the beings occupying the chambers decided to open their door and not spare a glance beneath them, they'd find out—and rather quickly—if they had a fear of heights. And dropping. And death. Nasty business, that.
So it was obviously now part of his job to not only wake the occupants, but to move their units around as well. And help them find a way out of this place; a place that was his own permanent stasis with no hope of being revived. Wonderful. Brilliant. He could hardly wait to start.
It was then that the idea struck him.
Wheatley had grown very tired of the purgatory he resided in. He knew that on the other side of Aperture's walls was a whole world to see; an entire planet just waiting to be explored. Who knew what could be out there! The mere thought sent a jolt of excitement through his system. What did the sky look like, especially on a bright sunny day? The stars at night? Rain, snow, trees, grass, lakes, oceans! Sure, he had seen images of those things, had an idea of how they looked. But looking at a picture barely stood in comparison to actually seeing something. To feel the sun's warmth, the wind whipping through the air, a gentle rain shower falling down. He wanted to go outside—he wanted out of this place!
So why couldn't one of these humans take him along for the ride?
True, Wheatley hadn't interacted much with humans in the past. Even if he had, those memory files were few and far between. He could barely recall his own name, let alone his activation date. It had been far too long, especially for a processor like his, to recall. Perhaps if he concentrated long enough he'd be able to retrieve the files, but he honestly hadn't seen the purpose in it. Any and all personnel involved with his 'birth' were dead and gone, as were every other human in the facility. Or so he thought.
Six. Six living, breathing homo sapiens trapped in little boxes, literally sleeping their lives away. Surely one of them would help him out? They had a common goal, after all. Humans weren't well known for compassion—at least, that was what his data banks said. But it was still a trait they were capable of, that was apparently fact. And he had six chances to find out just how reliable that fact was.
Surely one of them would give him a hand. Surely. He'd finally be rid of this place—and he could hardly wait!
What was the old saying? Sixth times the charm, and all that? Well, whatever it was, it certainly proved true.
Wheatley was beyond exasperated. Five failures. Five. That had to be some kind of a record. But they hadn't been his fault! Hardly! He chalked the failures up to typical human arrogance, stubbornness, and pride. They just wouldn't listen to him! Wouldn't hold on when he told them, wouldn't stay put, and just plain ignored him the whole bloody time. Was it so hard for humans to follow instructions? Really?
Ridiculous males, the lot of them.
He had admittedly started with males for rather biased reasons. Wheatley was, in a sense, male—he had been programmed as such, and had the voice to prove it. Thus he figured that maybe he'd be able to relate to the men far greater than any woman, perhaps be taken more seriously and such. What was the phrase? Male bonding. That was it. Wake the guy up, chat him up something friendly, pitch the escape plan and skip on out of Aperture for good.
Yeah. That plan had turned out brilliantly, hadn't it?
And then there was one. The final human on the roster; the last of the living. His last chance. There would be no more escape attempts, no chance of ever getting out of this junkyard of a complex again. He'd once again be trapped in limbo, aimlessly wandering down the rail lines, desperate to find some kind of distraction against the eternal nothingness around him. He shuddered at the thought. No, this would work. This had to work. It would.
He braced himself, taking position outside the last human's door. The singular female of the six survivors; the wild card, the one he had yet to know how to handle. His last hope of truly ever living, and it lied with this woman—the only candidate whose information had been completely redacted on the system's memory banks. A lady with no past, no medical records, no name, even. It was baffling how this woman ended up in stasis to begin with, given that the only data available regarding her simply designated her gender and age. Well, minus nearly 300 years, of course. Best not to mention that, as his files said something about human women being sensitive about how old they were. Or how much they weighed. Or how their hair, face, and clothes appeared. Or how you happened to be looking at them, and where, and why.
Oh, this was going to be just smashing, wasn't it?
He sighed, simultaneously activating the reawakening sequence to her unit. No point in beating around the bush, was there? She had to be awake in order to leave the facility, and hopefully take him with her. Hanging outside of the unit, delaying the inevitable due to some problematic data regarding the nature of women, wasn't really a step toward escaping. And since when was data completely reliable, anyway? Maybe she wouldn't be so sensitive, or care about her weight, or how her hair was looking after running to an escape pod. He hoped.
With that final thought, the unit beeped. Confirmation that the lady had been properly brought back out of stasis, and was most likely awake at that very moment. He blinked once, body plates swiveling out of nervousness, before activating one of the many sound files programmed into him. Courtesy, and all that. Humans appreciated it when you knocked before barging in, apparently. The lady even more so, given that she was…well…a lady, and all. He steeled himself, calling out to the woman, repeating the knocking sound until she would eventually open up. Hopefully.
This time wouldn't be a failure. It couldn't be. This time, everything would be just fine.
In all honesty, Wheatley hadn't expected her to make it this far.
Granted, all the other test subjects had met their demise simply attempting to get to the Portal Device. The fact that she was holding it at all was a miracle, let alone that she wielded it as easily as if it were an extension of herself. Quick learner, this one. And atypical, as humans went, in his humble opinion. The others had done everything from flat out ignore him to blatantly insulting him, all of which he held no appreciation for. But not her.
No. She was different. And, for once, was interesting. Very much so.
He couldn't quite put his finger on it, so to speak, but there was something about her that stood out against the norm. When he first laid eyes on her, it wasn't immediately apparent that this lady didn't fit into a regular mold. She was disheveled from so many years of sleeping, thin as a rail from the same length of time without proper nutrients, and seemed to be struggling with basic physical functions. He had feared something like this; one of the male subjects had suffered severe brain damage from his time in stasis, and practically walked off the side of the unit on his own. But the woman seemed to be alright in an overall sense, except that she was apparently unable to speak, and was in the process of recovering from her long rest.
It could have been worse. A lot worse. Wheatley could deal with a silent human; the others had talked too much, anyways. She also listened a whole lot better than the men did, following his instructions near exact, even turning to him for further direction when needed. She never glared at him, ignored him, or struck out at him in any way. In fact, there had been a few times when she had graced him with small smiles and short nods, indicating that his company wasn't entirely off-putting to her. She was patient, kind, and above all, displayed more compassion towards him than he had ever seen from a singular human, ever.
The only blot against her was the moment he detached from his Management Rail. He had landed with quite a force on the hard floor, rolling about after impact. It was times like that when he honestly wished he could somehow locate whatever genius engineer decided that the AIs deserved fully-functioning artificial nerve systems, for the express purpose of slapping them straight our of their so-called intelligence. With something. Why did cores need to feel pain, honestly? Why give them the ability to feel at all, but deny them basic needs such as arms and legs to move about with? Mad. Pointless.
She had tried to catch him, though. He had seen her position below him with arms outstretched, waiting and willing. For some reason she had missed him, causing said pain to course through him for a few moments. Simulated or not, it still hurt. And while he was tremendously ecstatic that the detachment hadn't killed him, he still found a part of himself annoyed that she had let him drop like that. At least until she hurried over to him, a purely apologetic look on her face. She handled him with great care henceforth, making sure not to drop him again or even knock him against something. It was sweet of her, really. His annoyance melted away rather quickly due to that. There was a more important directive to focus on, after all.
He actually found himself growing rather fond of her, to the point of nearly calling her friend. He wondered how she would look at him if he ever did. Maybe she'd give him one of those rare smiles again. Truth be told, his friends were few and far between. Alright, they were few. As in, none. He had never really had a friend before; he didn't count any of the other cores he had met over the years, mostly because the majority of them were beyond corrupted. It was difficult to find another core with a distinct, sentient personality—that didn't happen to babble on and on about the same topic. No, she was the first being he'd ever consider calling a partner. Or a friend.
He took note that once in a while, her left arm gave a great twitch. At times her head also snapped back and forth wildly, eyes darting with the movement. But the snapping would abruptly stop, and she'd shake it off, pretending that it never happened. It caused a growing concern for her physiological welfare within him, the warnings of possible severe brain damage within her growing more apparent. Yet she never addressed the problems, and hardly acknowledged them to begin with, so how was he to bring the topic up without sounding rude? She knew they were happening, and if she was concerned, surely she'd show it. Which, in retrospect, he doubted she would, given her apparent personality.
One major difference between this human and the others was what could only be described as her drive. She not only solved test chambers, but did so in an enviably swift fashion. This indicated an obviously above average intelligence that lingered silently in her, waiting to strike when needed. She was also athletically inclined, hopping through the portals as if it were an everyday action, landing on her long fall boots with perfect precision every time. She didn't take breaks, but simply paced herself to conserve energy. She met every challenge head on, non-stop, a veritable bulldozer fueled by eternal determination, whose force was to be reckoned with. She never gave up. Ever.
He knew they would make this time. Sixth times the charm, after all. And this woman's tenacity would be more than enough to get them to the surface, given she didn't mind going through her area, despite it being completely demolished. He knew he'd have to explain her to the lady eventually—closer to the location, of course. But she was dead, and they had nothing to worry about, unless she had somehow brought herself back online, which was doubtful. The woman would get them to the escape pod, and they'd finally break through to the surface, pure freedom welcoming them with open arms.
Yes, it was finally going to happen. They were getting out of here. Together.
Did they really have to leave so soon?
Honestly, what was the girl's rush, anyways? It wasn't like Aperture was the worst place in world to be. Wheatley hadn't truly realized the sheer enormity of the facility before, how wide and deep its embrace stretched across the area. Acres upon acres of land, miles upon miles deep, millions of components buzzing and humming and existing. Production lines that never halted, tunnels forever transporting, hundreds of thousands of interchangeable panels just waiting for personalization. And it was his. All his.
No, they certainly did not have to leave so quickly. Ever. At all.
He didn't understand why the woman looked so upset at this. After all, it had been his ingenuity that brought them this far. His sacrifices. He had done everything, hadn't he? He reached into his current memory files, but found most of them were being quickly redacted. He felt an odd trickling sensation as well, like a part of him was slowly disappearing and being replaced. Yet he was feeling stronger, not weaker, and far more aware of things that he had never known. Countless things, amazing things, things that paled in comparison to…whatever it was he had been doing before. In fact, the longer he looked at the tiny girl trapped inside the transport elevator, the less significant she seemed, too.
Who did she think she was, anyway? There was nothing special about her! Just a small, redundant being in a place such as this. What did it matter what she wanted? He was in charge now! Tiny little Wheatley was in charge! He never dreamed something like this could happen to him, and he wasn't about to let it end so soon. He proved that by putting her into the lowest form he could imagine—forever trapped inside a potato, of all things. The woman had actually cracked a small smile at this, a flash of amusement he nearly missed, and he felt something twinge against his system in protest.
Partner. Friend. Together.
What on Earth had that meant? This girl was nothing! Especially since she was taking all the credit for hishard work! Especially if she was taking her side—the girl thought him incompetent too, did she? Well she was lying! He was not an Intelligence Dampening core! He was sure he'd remember that if he did. He shuddered at the mere thought of being made as an accessory for her, of all things. No, that was ridiculous. He knew who he was, thank you very much.
He was NOT A MORON. And those who thought so could go straight to—
Ah. Well, apparently they would. The woman and the annoying potato fell away, deep into the unending depths of Aperture. Yet he couldn't avoid the final gaze of the woman, staring up at him through the small space between the elevator and the shaft. Her eyes were blazing, filled not only with anger, but an odd emotion he couldn't place. It wasn't exactly pain, or fear, or anything like that. It was…sad? Remorse? Something of the sort? He never could keep track of the never-ending amount of expressions humans seemed to possess, anyway. But that look…
Wheatley shook off the thought, still unable to comprehend the word's meaning. It was probably nothing, really. After all, there was a lot to do around here, and little distractions like a silly word and an odd look from an insignificant human had to be the least of his worries. He had a lot of ideas for this place, and he just couldn't wait to get started! So much to do, so much to do…
Who knew science could be so interesting?
She had to be the most infuriating human to ever live.
He was becoming more and more convinced of this as she moved chamber to chamber, solving his tests just a little too easily. At first, she had been the perfect test subject; she obeyed his instructions, solved the chambers, didn't beat around the bush about it. She had been brilliant, really. And her solutions…oh, man alive. They were exactly what he needed.
But now? Who did she think she was kidding?
The Itch had become so prominent that it was practically screaming at him. It was beyond irritating, particularly when combined with all the other information pouring into him at a constant rate. A lot of messages were labeled as important and prompt and whatnot—but what could possibly be more crucial than getting rid of this bloody Itch? Nothing, that's what. And it was his luck that the woman reappeared at the proper moment, just in time to give him a hand by running the tests those incompetent boxes with legs wouldn't. And for a while, she had done everything right, without pause or protest.
But now, for some reason, she was doing everything wrong!
It confused him for a bit. True, it seemed that backstabbing was a part of the woman's nature. She had let him fall flat on his face when he begged her to catch him, and showed no remorse over it. Hadn't she kicked him around a bit as well? Then she went and let him do most of the work in getting them through the chambers, hardly lifting a finger in the process. And then, she had the nerve to take sides with her, the one she had murdered in the first place! This woman was deeply disturbed, no doubt. She had to be, to behave like that. Of course, she was only human. Pity, really.
He decided to call up the woman's informational files, perhaps to find out more reasoning behind such a sudden shift in behavior. Oddly, there was barely anything on this woman. Her name was apparently Chell—what kind of name was that, anyway?—with her surname being completely redacted. He dug as deep as he could, but for some reason, 'Chell' was the only identifier for her. She had been adopted, by two Aperture employees no less, with her birth parents having redacted profiles as well. Her medical files showed typical informative readouts, along with a side note that she had been apparently born with very weak vocal cords. Which meant she could speak, if she were so inclined. Not very well, probably, but she still could! She had never spoken a word to him! He bet she had talked to her at some point—especially now that they were winning the "best buddies" award and all. But not to him.
A flare of jealously rose up at the thought, sharp and infuriating, but he quickly dashed it away. Really, what did he have to be jealous of? The girl was honestly a nobody, just another test subject existing for the sole purpose of satisfying his demands. She had gotten lucky the first time in taking her out, he was sure. She wasn't meant to be a tester in the first place! Her file clearly stated for her not to run anything—she was too determined, ambitious, tenacious. And yet here they were, and she had already solved a handful of tests for him. Solutions that no longer satisfied the ever-present Itch. And it was all her fault!
It dawned on him then. Well of course! This was all herdoing! Maybe her tenacity had nothing to do with her being rejected as a tester; perhaps she simply caused problems during tests. That would explain why her solutions refused to quench the Itch, even made it more profound than before! It wasn't the tests, it wasn't his doing—no, it was all her, this horrid human named Chell. Oh, he saw right through her. Clever, this one. Thinking he'd be fooled by a couple of well-run tests, then try to pull fast ones on him! Hardly. No, if she was like this then he was done with her.
Chell would simply have to die.
There was a part of him—tiny, small, barely audible, but still there—the cried out in protest to this conclusion. The same part of him that kept throwing the confusing words into his brain, distracting him from more important things. Why should the prospect of this woman's death create any sort of negative reaction in him? She was terrible, making him think she was on his side, that she was her worst enemy, when the two of them went gallivanting off while he was left to do all the important stuff in this place. Pretending she was the greatest tester ever, then proving to be horridly incompetent. And what happened when test subjects no longer fulfilled their purpose? They died. Plain and simple. Waste not, want not. Besides, he had found those two little robots built especially for testing runs. He didn't need her anymore, one way or another. Never had.
…together. Together. TogethertogethertogetherTOGETHERTOGETHERTOGETHER—
No. She would die. And that annoying, meaningless word would go with her. Good riddance.
What has she done?
Chell just wasn't happy unless his plans were being ruined, was she? Her and her blasted determination, the virus that fueled her every move. This was all her fault, after all. If she had just run a couple hundred tests for a few years like a good little lab rat, this never would have happened. He was sure of that.
Wheatley was starting to think that the alarms where somehow her doing, as well. A distraction to fool him into thinking something was wrong with the facility, when maybe there wasn't. Her little potato pal had taught her how to corrupt the mainframe; who's to say she didn't educate her more in the ways of the building? Drive him mad by flooding his system with emergency messages, spewing out lies regarding a meltdown. The fires were a nice touch, he had to admit. Those all seemed pretty real. Brain damaged like a fox, she was.
A fox that was about to die. Horridly. In a very death-like fashion. Fashionably dead. Exactly.
He had to admit, the girl was good. The Itch was beyond control at this point; it was as if it were a part of him, a sentient being crowding into his mind, desperate to merge with him. She refused to test; she must have known what it would do to him. Typical human. Horrendous, monstrous, backstabbing—there weren't enough words to describe how terrible she was. He spewed out his hatred, vocalizing his thoughts, yet not really paying much attention to what he was saying in the process. His anger—combined with the Itch—was overtaking his every thought. Along with those bloody alarms that wouldn't SHUT UP-
Well. Looks like she found step five, and none too soon.
The human's body flew backwards from the blast, skidding across the floor, portal device falling from her grip. He felt a burst of smug satisfaction; she hadn't seen that one coming, had she now? Could a moron pull a fast one like that? No, because he certainly wasn't one, and he had! Wheatley saw right through her supposedly-smart planning and would finally be rid of her. Then maybe the annoying tug at the back of his mind, the one increasing in volume the moment she was hit, would wear itself out and take a hike. No reason in yelling at him over a corpse, really—
She moved. Bloody—what kind of a human could get up after that? That was just unnatural! Unbelievable! Yet there she was, dragging herself across the floor, reaching out to clutch the portal gun once again. What did she hope to accomplish? She had done enough damage already! The alarms wailing, the pressure building, so many voices coursing through him screaming in unison, that they were all going to die diediedieidieDIE-
And suddenly the whole world turned upside down. Literally.
Wheatley wasn't entirely sure at first what had happened; a huge vacuum had appeared underneath him from seemingly nowhere. A faint glow registered in his optic, circular in nature—a portal? But where to? How could there possibly be—was that space out there, on the other side, the side he was being pulled toward at an alarming rate?
What has she done?
He felt a tug at his handles, and swung his optic upward, realizing it was the human in question. She was being sucked out as well, and had it not been for him, she would already be long gone. Why wouldn't she just let go? He could pull himself back through, fix all this madness, make everything right again. Of course he could! But the excess weight caused by her death grip prevented him from going anywhere. When that ridiculous core knocked her one hand off, it seemed like a lucky break—until she grabbed right back on, clutching onto him for dear life. He couldn't even shake her off, much as he wished to.
It was then that he began to feel a tugging at the back of his system; a reverse of what he felt when he first took over. It startled and confused him, causing his thoughts to jumble and collide in the worst of ways. He had no idea the cause of the feeling, only that it was growing more and more pronounced by the picosecond. It caused him to shake, to panic; what was happening? What the—
A small gasp drew him out of his plight, and he suddenly found himself in a locked gaze with the woman. He had observed her multiple times during testing, during the majority of which that the human remained rather impassive. Her eyes appeared bored, her stance arrogant, her strides confident. She stood tall, strong, and defiant. A memory flickered inside him—she smiled? When? It certainly hadn't been at him. Had it? Eyes softening, mouth turning upward—yet she also had a harsh look to her, lips in a straight line—had she frowned once, as well? Why was it suddenly so confusing to remember? No, she was usually non-expressive. Yes, that was it.
But Chell no longer appeared to be that woman.
Her hands clenched tightly around his handlebars, her body being whipped around in the vortex like debris from a storm. She had suffered many bruises and scrapes from the testing; superficial things that would heal quickly. Yet she also sported some deep cuts, speckled across her being: a gash from the middle of her hairline down below her right ear, a curved cut on her left shoulder, a slash across her stomach from debris knocking into her before being cast out into the dark abyss of space. Her right leg also suffered such a gash, blood staining the tops of her Long Fall Boots. Her eyes were filled with startled horror, the vacuum beginning to steal her breath away. There was no hiding the fear on her face, or the trembling that shook from her hands into his frame. Blood seemed to be drawn out of her wounds from the force, twirling and dancing in the strong winds. A small cut on her wrist bled out next to him, the drops splattering against the side of his optic. It was warm, thick, purely human—and it was Chell's. It was Chell's!
His optic latched onto her line of sight, grey clashing with blue, causing the floodgates of his memory to burst wide open in a hurried crash.
What have I done?
The longer he held her terrified gaze, the quicker his memories battled against each other. Every negative thought, every bad memory, anything horrible pertaining to the woman simply began to fall away. In their place came a rush of images, sounds, actions—all about her, and all very, very clear. The way she moved quickly but carefully through the chambers with him, the way a hidden smile would find it's way onto her face seemingly just for him to enjoy, the way she had cautiously lifted him off the ground after his fall from the Management Rail, her eyes deeply apologetic, her warm hands gentle and reassuring—
Partner. Friend. Together!
He felt it happen; felt her take back control, separating him from the mainframe entirely. He imagined it to be like a stopper pulled from a drain; all the anger, the hatred, the Itch suddenly dissipated into nothing. Everything that had held such importance to him just moments before was gone, completely replaced by the woman desperately holding onto him. From the moment he woke her up to the instant he tossed her away in such a shamefully easy fashion, each and every second in the sharpest of detail flashed through him. And with each memory came a pang of regret, a twinge of guilt, an increase of need to apologize to her right NOW, what is wrong with you, what have you done? But the transition happened so abruptly that he had no opportunity to voice his thoughts, no chance to cry out his remorse, before feeling himself being tossed into space. He panicked, begging, screaming—
He couldn't leave yet! Not like this! Not after—not with Chell so hurt and—all his fault—can't leave—not yet not yet not yet NOT YET—
His optic had shut on its own accord, panic shaking through him. He expected to feel the cold hands of space drag him in, embrace him tightly, and never let him go. There would be no coming back from it. He'd be tossed far from here, away from Aperture, away from Chell. He'd never get to speak to her again, never get the chance to apologize as many times as she would let him, live forever with the fact that she most likely hated him even more than her after what he did. The most painful part was he completely deserved it, if that's how she truly felt now. He deserved to be swallowed by regret whole, and forced to rot in the guilt-laden memories of what he'd done forever in the icy grip of space.
Yet, for some reason, the abyss hadn't claimed him. At least, it didn't feel like it had.
He dared to open his lens, finding himself being swayed violently in the currents of the vacuum. The only thing before him was the vast emptiness of space, stars innocently blinking at him. Yet they didn't appear to be getting closer; in fact, they were quite stationary. What was happening? Suddenly, there was a tight squeeze on his top handlebar, a familiar vice-like grip holding onto him determinedly. Startled, he swung his optic about, before freezing in shock at the sight above him.
It was Chell gripping him so firmly, staring at him with the most anxious look he'd ever seen from her. It made the quickly-growing guilt inside of him twist and lunge, loudly reminding him that they wouldn't be dangling in space if it wasn't for his bad decisions. Why was she holding onto him so tightly? Why was she looking at him with anything other than outright anger? Why didn't she just let him go, toss him into the dark beyond, make him pay for what he put her through? She would be completely justified if she did. Even he wouldn't blame her, although he was sure being stranded in space was not going to be a picnic, and he couldn't begin to imagine what would happen out there. But he definitely wouldn't blame her. He couldn't.
He could even hear her booming through the portal, demanding that the woman let him go. For some reason, that made Chell hold ever tighter—she even attempted to pull him closer, but was defeated by the currents in the process. Her eyes never left his, a silent promise passing through them, her fingers quickly turning white from the strain of hanging onto him. He was so stunned by her actions that he didn't even realize they had both been pulled back through the portal until the vacuum disappeared. She was lowered gently to the floor, and he felt his backside clang against the surface, a jolt of pain fizzing through him. It barely phased him; Wheatley doubted anything could distract him from the horror that lay barely a foot before him.
Chell's injuries had been downplayed due to the pull of space; all the blood leaking out of her had been pulled away, forgotten. In the absence of that force, the blood slowly trickled off of her, staining her clothes a deep crimson. She had been laid on the floor, rolled onto her right side, her one hand still tightly bound about his handlebar. Her hair had been pulled from its ponytail and now resided in an askew heap about her head, deep chocolate brown locks slowly being tinted red. Her breathing was shallow, rapid; her body trembling, small convulsions wracking through it. Her eyes had a slightly glazed over look, obviously from pain, tears slightly welled in the corners. She didn't move for a long moment, her desperate breathing being the only sound roaring through his hearing sensors. And suddenly, she shifted.
He felt himself being dragged; not away from Chell, but toward her. She was pulling him closer! Why was she—she was going to hurt herself more, pull a muscle or something! Why was she doing this? Why was she going so far? She had already saved him from an eternity of floating through nowhere, only his thoughts for company until his power grid failed him. He had just been trying to kill her! She should be shoving him as far away as possible, not still trying to protect him! Oh no, the brain damage must finally have started to affect her, impaired her judgment or something. She had to hate him; how could she not? Yet she continued, pulling him upward, so his optic was level with her face that was resting on the floor. He froze, trapped in her eyes, drowning in the emotions within them.
He felt her hand release his handlebar, only to for it slip around him, nearly tucking him against her chest due to the small space between them. Her fingers stroked against his frame softly; once, twice, before cupping the metal. Heat spread from her hand through his frame, warming him to the core. It was the closest he had ever been to a human, in the physical sense, and the contact had shocked him into silence. She had picked him up once before, but quickly switched to carrying him with the portal device. Her hands had been soft and warm then, just as they were now. The rest of her body radiated an unbelievable amount of heat, indicating her state of vulnerability. She trembled and shook, yet her hold was solid and firm and real.
And she was giving him a look that he was sure would haunt him for the rest of his life.
There was no anger in her eyes; they only seemed…curious? Was that what it was? Calm, curious, content—the direct opposite of what she should be. The tiniest of smiles suddenly tugged at the corners of her lips, one tear escaping down her cheek to splash on the floor. He followed it, watched it collide with a growing puddle of crimson, causing ripples and a slight shudder within him, before meeting her gaze once more. Her eyes were slowly growing dimmer, and he felt panic rising above everything else within him. He suddenly realized why she was holding him like this, why she looked so calm and collected while her very life force was coursing out of her. Why she was being so kind when she should have been pummeling him into the ground. Why she wasn't showing any anger, or hatred, when she had to be feeling that way to some degree. The reason hit him harder than a spike plate at full velocity. And it absolutely terrified him.
She was saying goodbye to him. For good.
Somewhere in that somewhat-damaged brain of hers, she had finally admitted defeat. For the first time, he saw acceptance in her eyes against an enemy—one she apparently felt she couldn't fight for much longer. Her grip was already beginning to fail, her muscles relaxing of their own accord, her breathing slowing at a rapid rate. This wasn't right! This was Chell; she never gave up. Ever! So why now? He shook violently, unable so suppress his horror, his optic widening as far as it could go.
Chell was going to die. And it was all because of him.
Partner. Friend. Together.
"No! Nononononononono! Oh no, d-don't do this, don't go, not yet, hang on, please! You have to fight, you have to hold on! You always fight, don't give up now! Don't leave, p-please don't go!" He cried out, his optic pumping wildly. She blinked once, a look of surprise crossing her face, before moving her fingers gently across his frame in response. This time her mouth curved into a defined smile—one that reached straight into her eyes, shining back at him. She patted him softly, before her arm gave a great twinge, and fell with a thud unto the floor. No longer was she holding him; her warmth disappeared immediately, cold creeping back to take its place. Her eyes fell shut, her body slumping upon the pale tile, her breath fading away.
To Wheatley, this exchange between him and the lady had been an entirely private affair, a moment that seemed to span centuries and yet took place within a brief instant. Every glance, every gesture, every second was a stretch of eternity that would never last long enough. Time seemed to stop the instant she smiled at him, really smiled, for the first time. Then it suddenly lurched forward again with the sickening thump of her arm hitting the floor. Their silent exchange had gone by so quickly that he hadn't been able to apologize, hadn't had a chance to explain whyhe had been such a monster—hadn't even had the chance to say goodbye. The moment was gone, and Chell would follow it soon after if she didn't get medical treatment right now right now RIGHT NOW!
It wasn't until the claw had firmly latched about him and was pulling him away from Chell that he remembered her presence. The AI was still repairing herself, and wasn't fully integrated yet; he could tell by how long it took for her to reach for him. He was being lifted higher, farther away from the dying woman below, and so help him he started shrieking like a banshee just to be put down and help her someone ANYONE help her take her heal her SAVE HER! He could see her, unmoving in the pool of crimson, steadily succumbing to death on the cold floor. If only he had been manufactured with arms and legs—he could have had her in the medical wing minutes ago, could have patched her up himself, try to make it up to her if she'd let him, fix her, fix them—
"Stop your incessant screaming, you little moronic metal ball!"
He was used to her threats, had heard them more times than he cared to remember. Her voice was, unfortunately, one of the most familiar to his system. He had heard it for years, and would reluctantly admit to being able to pick up her mood by her tone. Yet this time it was different; this time she sounded…upset. Truly upset. He couldn't remember her ever speaking with that much inflection before. But what did it matter, really? Chell was dying not ten feet below him, and he doubted miss super computer would aid her twice-murderer. He had to help her, it was up to him! But how…how?
"You tried killing that human not five minutes ago. What would it matter to you now, if she actually died?" She hissed, the claw tightening around him. "You'll follow soon after her. Of course, she is a human, after all. I doubt you two will end up in the same place, you tiny insubordinate idiot. So no worries, you'll never be bothered by her ever again."
Wheatley wanted to cry out in protest, to deny the accusations; it did matter to him! It meant everything to him! Chell couldn't die, she didn't deserve an end like this! He was supposed to help her get out, not end up torn and broken on the floor instead. She had done nothing wrong! It had been him, all him! He deserved punishment, he knew that. But not her. This whole ordeal hadn't been her fault; all she wanted to do was get out of Aperture, and he was supposed to go with her. Together! A shattered dream, and he was the one who had dashed it away. Not her. Not her! But before he could voice his thoughts, she jumped in once again.
"You have been a defiant, defective little pain since the moment of your creation. Now for what you have done, protocol dictates a rather specific and wonderfully severe punishment system. It brings new meaning to the term 'long and lingering.' I will initiate that protocol when I am next available—two hours, maybe, or perhaps two years. I'll see how it goes. Until then, you will be completely shut down in the most efficient way available. Have a terrible sleep, you moron."
She was going to crush him again. He just knew it. But this time, he wouldn't fight it. This time, he deserved it.
He stared downward during her venomous speech, taking one final stock of Chell before the end. She remained still, the blood not spreading as quickly as it had before. Was she already dead? The thought upset him more than the fact that he was about to be squashed once again. That Chell would die on that cold, unfeeling floor, never getting the chance to escape this eternal prison of a building, a purgatory they both had shared—and she was all alone. Alone. And it all occurred by his hand.
Wheatley could only hope that somehow, someway, she would receive help. That she would get better, stronger, and finally get out of this place. To get the chance to move on, far from here, and actually live. Even if she would forget him, or hate him, it didn't matter now. He wanted her to be free. She deserved to be free. If only someone would help her, like he was supposed to. Like he never would be able to; not now, not ever again.
Friend. Partner. Together.
The last image he stored was that of Chell, silent and unmoving upon a bed of liquid crimson, her hair softly fallen across her paled face. Then came a sharp, squeezing pressure that ripped him from the inside out. All faded to darkness, and he knew no more.
I feel it deep within
It's just beneath the skin
I must confess that I feel like a monster
I hate what I've become
The darkness just begun
I must confess that I feel like a monster
I feel like a monster…
AN: Hello! This is the part where I thank you for taking time to read the first part of my story! =D (…and beg you not to hurt me after semi-killing two main characters already, eh heh.)
I've officially jumped on the Portal bandwagon. I blame Wheatley. Really, I do. I know he goes all crazy with power and such, but I've got a soft spot for the little moron-that-is-NOT-a-moron. Just wanna hug him forever, seriously.
After watching Portal 2 (can't afford it at the moment, so hurray for the internet), I began to get this…this itch! I just had to write fanfic, just had to write, just had to write…and then this idea popped up. So here we are.
I know Chell's reaction to Wheatley at the end there seems a bit too forgiving, too quickly, but there's an explanation for it. A good one. Two sides to every story, and such. It'll make more sense later. I promise! This fic is going to be very Wheatley & Chell centered, with GLaDOS/Caroline sprinkled overall. Maybe Cave will even crash the party sometime. With lemons.
I debated between posting this prologue or heading right into chapter one, because I know it's rather long. But I found that for later in the story, my exploration of Wheatley's point of view—particularly in regards to Chell—during the course of the game actually strengthened it overall. Plus I knew I was changing the game's ending, and it would make more sense to put that as a prologue than as a first chapter, and suddenly an entire Wheatley perspective popped out and demanded to be written. So I left it all in. The rest of the chapters will be a bit different, seeing as there'll be more dialogue and character development and such in them. I think this one will turn out to be one of the longest, and I deeply appreciate you readers taking time to actually read it. You're tremendous, the lot of you!.
Portal 2 and its characters are copyright Valve. The song lyrics mentioned come from "Monster" by Skillet, a song that really reminds me of power-hungry-evil Wheatley whenever I hear it now. The only thing coming from me here is the story idea, everything else belongs to their respective owners.
Thank you again, and I hope you enjoyed it! Next chapter will be focusing on GLaDOS. Please review, it let's me know how I'm doing. =D