It had been a few months since GLaDOS had let Chell and Wheatley leave the Enrichment Center. After Chell had opened the portal to the moon, she had refused to let go of Wheatley, and GLaDOS had finally just pulled them both back in under the condition that Chell "get the moron out of here."
So she had. She had taken Wheatley back to her apartment—first she'd had to get an apartment, and that hadn't been easy given her lack of credentials, but she'd managed—and it had taken him a long while, but at last he'd stopped apologizing for what he'd done.
"All right!" he enthused. "Now that you've forgiven me, it's time for me to forgive you!"
Chell had raised her eyebrows at that. "Forgive me for what? For saving your life? Don't make me regret that."
"No no no no no," he said quickly. "For not catching me!"
She snorted. "Oh. Are you still going on about that? I did my best!" And there was a slight catch in her voice that betrayed her thoughts, betrayed that she thought the whole ordeal might have been avoided if she'd only just caught him.
Or at least, it would have betrayed her thoughts to anyone but Wheatley, who just kept right on talking. "Oh, well, I know you did, luv! And that's why I'm going to let you try to catch me again."
"…You sound like you're serious," Chell remarked after a brief pause. "When are you ever going to need to fall again? And I'll probably have a hard time catching you, so you might just wind up falling again. Doesn't sound pleasant."
"Well, it's not," Wheatley admitted. "But it's okay, because I know you can catch me! I'll just fall right off the top of that bookshelf over there and you…won't miss. Right?"
Chell was skeptical about the ability of any of Wheatley's plans to succeed. "I don't know about this, Wheatley."
"Don't worry!" he said, sounding as cheerful as ever. "It'll be fine, because I know you won't drop me a second time."
So with a sigh, she agreed. He was heavy, but somehow she managed to get him up onto the bookshelf, with the use of a stepladder. She just hoped he wouldn't fall on her head.
"All right!" he said. "I'm rolling off on the count of three. One…two…threecatchmecatchmecatchme!"
But Chell had dived off to the side when the sphere had started to fall, and he hit the ground with a loud thud. It wasn't that she didn't want to catch him, but she couldn't catch him. She hadn't realized just how large he was until he started falling towards her. Not only that, but he was made of metal. She was made of water and very-easily-crushable bones, and she was pretty sure she would break something if she tried catching him.
And she was going to explain that to him that when he hit the ground, but along with the thud was a sickening crunch, and Chell's heart lurched as Wheatley suddenly stopped talking. "Wheatley?"
There was no response, so biting her lip, she rushed over to him, rolling him over so she could look at his optic. It was no longer lit up. "Wheatley!"
She stayed next to him for almost ten minutes, pleading with him to wake up, but he didn't. And finally, she wrapped her arms around him, pressed her face against the top of his core, and began to cry.
It wasn't for another ten minutes that she heard his voice again. "ungh…Chell?"
"Wheatley!" she cried, wiping tears from her eyes as she let go of him to look at his lit-up optic. "I thought…I thought you might be…"
"You didn't catch me," he accused. "I really thought you would this time!"
"I know," she whispered. "I'm sorry."
"Well, it's all right," he said, his voice chipper once again. "We'll just have to try again! That way I can forgive you twice."
She laughed through the tears that still hadn't quite stopped. "No. No more falling, all right?"
He looked disappointed. "But then how am I supposed to forgive you? I mean, I don't think I properly can unless you catch me!"
"I can't catch you," she said. "I tried." He didn't seem to have noticed that she'd jumped out of the way, and she wasn't going to bring it up. "I'm not letting you fall again. You'll have to think of something else I can do to get you to forgive me."
He considered it for a moment, and then his optic brightened. "Oh! I know! That thing you were doing when I woke up. Could you do that some more? Because that was nice. I think I could forgive you if you did that just a bit more."
Chell blinked. "What? You mean this?" She reached her arms around him again, pulling him close.
"Yes!" he said. "Just like that."
"Okay," she said with a smile, pressing her cheek against the top of his core. "I can do that."