Human to Machine and Back Again, Part 5
Summary: Short drabbles for the Wheatley x Chell pairing. Ten per chapter, fifty total. Human Wheatley, non-human, AU, canon, anything goes.
AN: Complete! I really hope you like the final drabbles, since I battled a bout of writer's block recently, so this chapter was difficult to get out. This isn't the last you'll hear from me; I'll be writing a multi-chapter story in coming weeks, so stay tuned for that. There may be some adult situations, but I'm hoping I won't have to bump it up to an 'M' rating. I hope I'll add enough twists to keep it interesting :)
Thank you to everyone! I've gotten more reviews/alerts/favorites than I could have imagined! Thank you to the reviewers of the story: NewMoonBloodTears, Kawaii Usagi Chan San, Xanjen, Jason Grey, Weskette, WybourneObsessed, KThxBai and to Mystic 777, who reviewed every chapter! I probably wouldn't have continued the story without any interest, so thank you to everyone! On to the final chapter of drabbles!
Chell returned to the bathroom after applying the lavender body lotion. Wheatley looked at the door, thinking there must be more preparations a human female requires for bed. Perfect time to investigate and take notes, he thought.
So far, he noted, Chell took a shower or bath (don'tthinkaboutitdon'tthinkaboutit) since she emerged completely wet in a bathrobe. She also applied some lotion to her legs and arms and thighs—he felt another spark arc across his hull. Apparently, don't think about that, either.
While taking reference notes (he figured he'd need them later if they'd travel further through the complex), he heard the click of the door's locking mechanism. She finished whatever she did in there now. Shifting his eye over, hoping to gain some more documentable information, he saw—was that her?
Chell stood there in the doorway, wearing something very different. Lots of… um… lace, and not enough… fabric… Wheatley's broken thoughts attempted to describe. Her outfit certainly was slightly intimate. She wore a light green tight-fitting tanktop with lace blossoming from the edges, and a pair of short (so very short, Wheatley noted) black shorts. The shorts accentuated her slightly curvy, yet athletic thighs, while the tight tanktop showcased her form and accenting her chest.
While Wheatley's optic focused on the cleavage shown between her breasts in this bold outfit she found, he blacked out for the second time that night.
Apparently, he can't withstand that much teasing, Chell thought.
After Wheatley came to—it'd only been a few minutes—he looked back up at her. A rush of some emotion ran through his circuitry at the revelation of what happened, and that she knew how she affected him. Unable to move on his own, he spun his eye toward her, realizing she still wore the same outfit that caused his blackout. He quickly looked back at the lamp, which held his attention earlier. If he'd been human, he'd likely have an impressive shade of red splashed across his face.
Chell made a sound—a light whistle—directing Wheatley's attention back to her again. Looking at her face (don't look down or you'll black out again, Wheatley kept murmuring to himself), some sort of expression was painted there. Taking note, her eyebrows were gently raised, and a mild smile lit up the room. Pity? Teasing happiness?
"So, um… I can't really explain just what happened back there. One moment I was fine, but the next, I shut down completely, requiring an emergency reboot. I really think there's something seriously wrong with me… and then blacking out a second time! How does that happen?" Wheatley rambled, trying to take the attention off of him.
Chell watched as his optic shifted around the room uncomfortably as he spoke. Although his reactions indicated he wanted to look at her, he probably felt anxious and nervous about her reactions, trying to focus on just about anything else within the tiny room. She then thought of something that should help cheer him up a little. Reaching her hand toward him, she lightly placed it on the side of his hull.
Immediately, his eye darted up toward Chell's face again, then leading to her shoulder, arm, and where her hand was. She was touching him? At that realization, another short circuit happened, a jolt of electricity arcing across his cracked shell. Her other hand moved so it touched his other side, bringing his optic back to her face. Seeing it, he couldn't help but smile—but since he physically couldn't—his lower shutter moved upward resembling some strange smile.
And finally, he felt much more at ease around her.
Chell always was an animal lover, ever since she was a young child. Her most fond childhood memories consisted of her petting the family cat Buddy, or playing fetch with their Golden Retriever. Following her escape from Aperture, she knew she wanted to adopt a pet to keep her company. She walked into the local animal shelter one day, hoping to find the right companion. Living alone was too lonely for her taste, so finding a "roommate" sounded like a great idea. She explained what she wanted, and the volunteer immediately spoke of one pet.
"We had a cat come in about a month ago. Poor thing… he was a stray that came in the worst condition you could imagine… but we nursed him back to health, and he's ready for adoption. We estimate he's about a year old, and very lively. Interested in meeting him?" Chell shook her head yes, and the volunteer walked back in moments later with the cat.
Chell couldn't believe what she saw. A blue-point traditional Siamese, long and agile, looked up at her with his striking, brilliant blue eyes. He tilted his head and mewed, trying to gain attention. And again, and again. She fell in love with him at that moment; she had to take him home.
After filling out the proper adoption paperwork, she returned a week later to bring him home. Placing him in a cat carrier and leaving the building, they got in her car and drove off to Chell's apartment. She quickly noticed the cat's mannerisms—he had a hard time being quiet, usually filling the air with the sound of his melodic voice, and she saw him playing with and biting his own tail.
At that moment, the perfect name came to her: Wheatley. The cat really was just like her friend, the cordial personality core. Thinking for a moment, she determined this Wheatley would be her replacement for the one she lost to the infinite area of space.
Wheatley looked around they huddled in. Only three—himself, Doug Rattmann, and a small girl he'd manage to save—escaped to this area away from that deadly neurotoxin she'd released upon her awakening.
"I'll go check the facility neurotoxin levels and figure out when things are safe enough." Rattmann said as he left their candle-lit safe haven. They had to kill the facility's power to stop the GLaDOS project and the flow of deadly gas. That left Wheatley here with the girl he'd saved.
He looked over in her direction. She was a daughter of an Aperture employee, since children didn't normally exist in the facility. Quite short, with her legs curled up near her chest. Most of her dark hair fell free of her messy ponytail, and her fearful light-blue eyes showcased an inner determination he surely didn't have at the time.
He hadn't had much experience with younger children in years, but he thought he'd try. They could be stuck there for quite a while longer. "What's your name?"
"I'm Chell. My dad's here somewhere, can you help me find him?" She quietly replied. She spoke with a finality to her words, indicating she likely just wanted answers.
"Don't worry," He replied. "Just call me Wheatley. I'll make sure to help you out, alright? We'll find your dad soon, just you watch."
Chell looked at him, mildly smiled back and nodded her head once. He couldn't help but smile, he'd made a new friend that day.
There's a key difference between a house and a home, Chell bitterly noted.
Within a house, a person's physical needs are met. They have a roof over their head, windows to let the sunlight shine through during the day, and a bed to sleep in. A person can live within a house, sometimes with other people, but not necessarily thrive. No connection exists between the person and the dwelling, always causing the individual to desire more from life.
A home is where the heart is. You invite friends and family into a well-kept home, with warmly-painted walls, tasteful paintings and beautiful photography placed well throughout. At a home, you curl up at night with a loved one on your favorite sofa, with a cup of hot chocolate steaming in your hands, warming your entire core from the inside as the sweet, hot liquid flows down your throat.
Chell looked around her drab apartment and sighed. This place could never act like a home to her—probably never, she mused—without her only friend to share it with.
Following Wheatley's human transition, Chell quickly noted that his coordination was poor, and his fine motor skills were highly lacking, to say the least. So, Chell decided to find a fun activity for him to improve his body's movements.
Trying to get him to jump rope failed miserably. He tired far too quickly, and managed to trip himself on the rope, falling face-first onto the asphalt. She also tried getting him to play some first-person shooter video games. He showed some slow progress playing the one-player campaign, but he failed terribly playing online for the first time, and refused to play any more (He really can't take rejection and losing well, can he? Chell said to herself). More recently, she tried teaching him to cook. He responded well to that one, since he felt that over time he could help her out around the apartment more, but after making a complete mess of her kitchen one afternoon to make salty cookies, ("There's a difference between salt and sugar? They look the same.") she needed a new idea.
After he stumbled across her easel and acrylic paints—literally—her idea came. She'd teach him how to paint.
After giving him some introductory lessons ("The paint goes on the canvas, not your shirt, Wheatley."), she turned him loose one afternoon on a blank canvas. All she instructed him to do was to paint anything he wanted, but to try not making too much of a mess on the floor.
She returned a few hours later from errands around town, to find his completed painting still on the easel in the living room. The painting was crude, with shaky object edges and some unusual proportions, but she could make out the subject: her. He'd painted a picture, from memory, of her sitting on her favorite chair the easel had been pointed at. She smiled, her plan worked perfectly. Moving the easel back to the wall it normally sat, she went off to find him to let him know just how good of a job he did.
I'm innocent! I know I am!
She dragged me back in and saved me from an eternity wandering the depths of space alone. Now, there's this yellow light in my vision, but it's hard to see exactly what it could be, my eye cracked some time ago—
-Oh, no. Don't let it be Her—
"So you just had to drag this utter moron back in through that portal, didn't you?"
Yes, Chell saved me! Hold on, something isn't quite right here… why can't I talk? She… She disabled my speakers! This is nothing but an internal monologue!
"Remember what I said earlier about killing him? Is it alright if I do just that? Well, I eventually will after what he did to me, but maybe I'll put him in the incinerator first. Then the room where all of the turrets scream at you. He'll be tortured before his murder. A painless killing is too… merciful for him."
What? I'm going to be tortured and then… killed? Bloody hell! It's not my fault! None of this was my fault! Once I was plugged in, the chassis overwhelmed and corrupted me! I'm not at fault!
"Hmm? You're not going to give him up? Even after this halfwit betrayed you with promises, sent into the bowels of this facility, threw you through tests with bottomless pits and tried to murder you, you still want to save him?"
Chell? Even after being bossy and monstrous and all, you still… like me?
"You lunatic. Fine, keep him. Let him murder you this next time. I'm done. Just go."
She was the star of his meager existence.
She was smart, even with the suspected brain damage. She also was athletic, even with her body's natural soft curves. One thing he couldn't deny to himself was that she was breathtakingly (if only he could breathe) beautiful.
He stared out at the stars surrounding him and that moronic space core, wishing for the chance he never had while trying to help her escape the abandoned hellhole known as Aperture—to prove she truly was a star.
Her touch felt like electricity arcing across his skin, causing him to shudder. He almost withdrew from the contact, shying away from her delicate, smooth skin touching his in any way. Something about her seemed pure and beautiful, and by touching her, he corrupted that notion with his rough hands. Regardless of what he thought, he couldn't pry himself from the electrifying contact she provided. To him, it didn't matter that the contact was by no means sensual—just holding hands—but to him, it felt as intimate as a deep, drawn-out kiss. Not that he'd ever kissed anyone, but based on movies he'd watched before, that's how it had to feel, right?
Suddenly—probably only to him since Wheatley focused almost completely on the sensations her touch provided—Chell's other hand made contact with the back of his neck. It was one thing to touch another's hand, but their neck? His face flushed red, and he couldn't bring himself to look into her icy blue eyes. The feelings from her touch which his nerve endings detected were driving him bloody mad. He couldn't stand the sensations, but at the same time, he craved them more than he expected.
Looking into her eyes, finally, a thought occurred to him then: had her eyes always been this close? Just as he attempted to stutter a response to this current predicament, he detected she was moving closer to him. On a nervous impulse, he tried to shy away from whatever she was doing, but the hand on his neck held him there.
Her lips touched his.
His first kiss, he thought. A fiery feeling raged through his senses at the thought of Chell's lips touching his, completely engrossing him in the moment. He craved more, more, more, more…
This certainly was better than how the movies depicted it.
Chell couldn't believe machines could be programmed to feel.
She knew Wheatley and GLaDOS could both feel pain, since she'd witnessed their yells and terrifying screams of physical pain on a few occasions: GLaDOS's haunting screams during the first core transfer and Wheatley's painful yell as he crashed on the ground following his bold disengagement from his Management Rail.
She knew Wheatley could also feel emotions. Much of the time, he went through the facility happy as a puppy, though at times frustrated, curious or scared. However, regardless of what she'd encountered so far, nothing could have prepared her for the stuttered words she heard next:
"I… I think I might love you." Wheatley timidly and quietly spoke to her.
How is it even possible for technology to love you? Chell was left completely speechless by Wheatley's strange comment. Could technology—something not even human or alive—be programmed to feel love? How do you react to that?