Wheatley had never cared much for silence. Oh, sure, the scientists had always reminded him that "silence was golden" (odd how they never reminded the other cores). Rather funny phrase, that. What did it mean, anyway? That you'd be rich if you kept quiet? Well, as far as he knew, personality cores didn't exactly get paid. And even if they did, he really couldn't use money. Not like he could drop off his rail and go shopping any time he wished. Which was unfortunate, really. He was certain they sold spare limbs at the human shops, and a pair of legs and an arm or two would've been just the ticket.
But anyways, after the scientists went and kicked the bucket, so to speak, Wheatley decided he really didn't like silence, golden or not. He was a bit biased though, he had to admit. After a few hundred years of it, it got old quickly. That's when he started to talk to himself.
He'd always been a bit of a chatterbox – er – sphere. Chattersphere. But having no one to talk to worsened the problem. It got so bad that he ended up voicing all his thoughts aloud, blabbering all day just so he could hear a voice, even if it was his own. After having an argument with himself about how it really wasn't his fault he'd forgotten everyone in the Relaxation Vaults, Wheatley came to a stunning revelation.
He was lonely.
It was ridiculous, he knew, for a robot to be lonely. Why would scientists program him to feel loneliness? But then again, it was also ridiculous to program a robot to have an accent and gender, and well, he had those, too. It was all completely mad.
However, mad or no, he was lonely, and quite honestly, it was driving him bloody bonkers.
That's when he had the idea about the Relaxation Vault. Oh, sure, Wheatley hadn't maintained it properly, and nearly all of the hundreds of test subjects were most likely – well – past the whole "living" stage. But there had to be some that were still knocking about.
And sure enough, there were. Six humans. Six blissfully warm, breathing, more-than-likely-brain-damaged humans. He'd wake one up, they'd escape this wretched hell-hole, find more humans somewhere, and tada! No more miserable loneliness.
That was his hope, anyway.
As it turned out, humans were a bit more fragile than Wheatley remembered them being. And all his time alone hadn't really improved his planning. Of course, the fact they refused to listen to a word he said (and often berated him) didn't help matters. And so, one by one, they bit the proverbial dust in decidedly unpleasant ways. Tragic, really. And completely unnerving. Nasty business, death and all that.
By the time he woke up the last test subject, he was such an anxious bundle of nerves he almost dropped her Relaxation Chamber right off the rails. She was a thin, pale, bedraggled example of a human, who'd been so out of it when she awoke she'd walked into a wall. And, to top it all off, she was mute.
Wheatley was completely devastated at first; all that hard work, and he had ended up with perhaps the one human in the entire complex who couldn't speak a word. But he soon discovered an unexpected bright side to her silence.
She was an excellent listener.
He'd rambled on and on and on, and she never ignored him, or told him to shut up, or threatened to throw him off the side of the catwalk if he spoke another syllable. She just listened and nodded, doing as she was told, paying attention as he babbled on. Not only that, but she was really quite clever, and extremely athletic, running, jumping, and ducking obstacles as if it was child's play.
Now that the lady was actually holding him in her hands, facing her, Wheatley had the time to get a proper look at her.
Wheatley quickly realized that what he had mistaken for "brain damage" at first must have simply been grogginess from her very long slumber, because, other than her lack of speech, she seemed to be every bit as competent as any of the scientists he had known.
And you know…after she'd woken up a bit and the initial shock had passed (he made a mental note: human women look terrifying after they wake up), he came to notice that she was actually…well, actually quite pretty. Beautiful, even.
Err – you know, for a human.
He must have ended up staring at her a bit longer than he intended, because the next thing he knew, the lady had glanced down at him with her gray-blue eyes, looking curious.
"Huh? Oh! Sorry, it's nothing, nothing, I was just…I've never really been this close to a human before," he explained hastily, feeling anxious, "I mean…you have so many parts that I've never really noticed. And some of them are completely worthless!"
She raised an eyebrow.
"No really!" He insisted, "Like hair, for instance. I mean, what good does hair really do you? It looks rather nice, true, but you can't really move it around, or have it fetch things for you. Same goes for eyebrows. You can move them up and down to make yourself look menacing, I suppose. And…um…let's see, what else…"
Wheatley stared at her a few minutes, and, feeling her fingers around his handles, remembered more.
"Fingernails! That's what they're called, aren't they? Now why on earth do you need fingernails? I mean, hands, yes, they're fantastic, and fingers! Fingers are bloody brilliant! You can bend them and pick things up and move them in all sorts of wonderful ways, but do they really need nails? I mean, what is the worst case scenario that would happen if you damaged them? 'Help! My legs got torn off!' and then someone else comes in, and is all, 'Help! I broke my fingernails!'. I mean, honestly! It just doesn't have the same urgency, does it?"
The lady chuckled softly, and Wheatley brightened, and continued his rambling.
"And lips! Lips are completely, utterly useless! They're just little mounds of flesh that just kind of sit there, around your mouth. They move a bit, you know, and look quite lovely when you smile, but they really don't do anything."
Wheatley paused, and continued thoughtfully.
"Although…you know, I suppose they would help with that whole 'eating' thing you humans do. And other humans move them quite a bit when they're talking, so they must lend a hand with that too. You know, forming words, and such. But you don't really need them, do you? Seeing as you can't say anything and all…"
Suddenly, the amusement left the lady's face, leaving her looking hurt and somber. Unconsciously, she raised one hand to her face, her fingers trailing over her lips. Her eyes fell to the ground.
Wheatley froze, and tried to backpedal.
"Oh, no, no, no! I didn't mean that as an insult! I just was wondering why you have lips when you can't…AHHH! I mean, you not talking, it isn't really a bad thing! Not that I want you silent! I'd actually prefer it if you could talk and…NO! That doesn't mean I don't enjoy being around you! I mean, if you actually could speak, who knows if I'd still want to be around you, and…BUGGER! No! I'd want you to speak if you could! But you can't, so lips are useless to you and…BLOODY HELL…!"
The lady had stopped walking now, and Wheatley saw out of the corner of his optic that the catwalk had ended, and bellow him was a gaping black abyss. He quickly turned back to face her, and noticed that her face was unreadable, her gray-blue eyes trained on him.
Wait…even though he'd repeatedly insulted her, surely she wouldn't…!
Well, actually, now that he thought about it, human did tend to be sensitive about those sort of things. A few wars had been started over them, he'd been told. And the former test subjects he'd woken up had threatened him with death for less.
His monitor shrank in fear. He began to panic.
"N-No, no, no, no, wait! Please! I didn't mean it! Don't drop me! Please! I-I…!"
She returned her other hand to his handle, and raised him up slowly.
"NO, NO, PLEASE!" Wheatley screamed, his optic twisting in terror, staring from the chasm back to her unreadable face, "DON'T DROP ME! OH, GOD! DON'T DROP ME! NO! DON'T…!"
A flash of emotion passed over her eyes, and he squeezed his optic shut, trembling violently, preparing for what was sure to be his last few moments of existence. Or several hours, depending on the depth of the pit.
But she didn't drop him.
Instead, he was met with a soft warmth pressing against his body. He slowly opened his optic.
He was less than an inch away from the lady's face. Her eyes were closed, and her lips were gently caressing his outer shell. Their heat seemed to radiate all the way through him in a wave of pure bliss. She drew away, and smiled at him.
Wheatley just stared at her.
Because for perhaps the one time in his incredibly long existence, he'd been struck speechless.
She laughed – a full-blown laugh – before she turned the corner and jumped, smoothly landing on the catwalk bellow.
Finally, a few minutes later, Wheatley gathered himself enough to speak up.
"A-Ah," he stammered, sounding both delighted and bewildered, "So that's what you use them…the…the lips…for. That w-was…that was a kiss, right? Y-Yes? Wow! T-That was…err…it felt…really, really good. Does it…does it feel like that to a human? Well, I suppose it wouldn't, because they have l-lips to…eh…to use…to kiss you back…"
The personality core paused for a moment, before trying to sound casual.
"Soooo…how much do a pair of those…lips, I mean…go for, exactly? A lump of gold? Or maybe shiny rocks? I've heard shiny rocks are valuable…because, you know, I'm pretty sure I have some back pay coming…"
The lady just giggled. Wheatley wasn't quite sure what to make of that, so a moment later he spoke up, sounding a bit shy.
"Could you maybe…d-do that again…sometime, luv? You know, not now, you don't have to do it now, but maybe after we escape? Of course, if you wanted to do it again now, that would be brilliant…"
She grinned, shaking her head.
"Oh, yes, of course!" Wheatley said hastily, clearing his non-existent throat, "We should wait…yes, definitely wait until we escape. So…um…back to finding the portal device, then! Yes. The plan. Find the portal device, get to an escape pod, and then you…eh…you kiss me…er…right?"
That made her laugh again, and she winked at him with her beautiful eyes, before continuing down the catwalk.
"Right then!" Wheatley exclaimed, wanting to get to the surface more than ever, although for a completely different reason, "Off we go, luv! Portal device, here we come!"