[A/N: The link to the theme challenge can be found at sora-horsey(dot)deviantart(dot)com/art/NEW-100-Themes-Challenge-131213677 :)!]
Wheatley had been going to ask the test subject what he should call her. After all, she was the first one he'd found alive, and he didn't want to just refer to her as "test subject" as they navigated the facility together. But she hadn't seemed to be able to speak, so he hadn't bothered. Instead he'd resolved to check her file, but then there had been an emergency evacuation, and he'd panicked. There just hadn't been enough time.
And then he'd never had another chance. Oh, he supposed he could have asked Her, but he was pretty sure there was absolutely no way She'd ever tell him anything. Not after the way She'd screamed at him when he'd been attached to Her chassis. She'd always told him what a moron he was. He'd chattered at Her, about all sorts of different subjects ("D'you think it'd be a good idea if we replaced all the neurotoxin with, I don't know, helium? Because I think that'd be hilarious!"), trying to distract Her, but Her train of thought always led to just one conclusion: that he was a moron.
He'd hated how She called him that, over and over again until he almost believed it himself. There were no words to express how happy he'd been when the scientists had removed him from the chassis at last—or, well, maybe there were. Wheatley was sure that if She could hear his thoughts right now, She'd tell him the only reason he couldn't think of words was that he was a moron.
But She couldn't hear his thoughts right now. She was only a potato, sitting in the core transfer receptacle, shouting at the nameless test subject to press the button. If She could read his thoughts, She would know that the button was booby-trapped and She'd change her mind.
As much as he wanted the test subject gone, there was a part of him that wanted to scream at her not to press it, because it would undoubtedly kill her. He had the facility under control. Everything was absolutely fine; there was no chance of her dying, unless of course she pressed the button.
And as the test subject entered the Stalemate Resolution Box, her hand hovering above the button, he began digging through his files, searching for a name to go with the face, so he could call to her and warn her not to do it. He supposed he could have warned her without the name, but it was important to him that he know it at last.
It took around three seconds for him to catch sight of the outside of a folder labeled with nothing but her picture. He was so happy that he'd finally found it—
But then the test subject pressed the button. There was a tremendous explosion, and then he could no longer access any of the files he'd once had at his metaphorical fingertips.
Maybe I'll just bloody call you Lee, he thought bitterly as he raged at her, screaming that she should never have interfered. You wouldn't like that, would you? Because it's not even a girl's name! It's a boy's name! But that's just too bad, because you made it so I could never even find out what your real name is.
So then, Lee, let the games begin. Since you won't just make it easy on yourself and DIE.
It was at that point that Lee opened a portal to the moon, and for Wheatley at least, the games ended.
New experiences were for science.
Or at least that was what GLaDOS kept telling herself. To her knowledge (and she was the most massive collection of wisdom that ever existed, even in potato form), there had never before been an experiment when a sentient being was put into a potato. Therefore, she was keeping a careful record of everything she felt.
But her main emotions had nothing to do with science: Anger. Hatred. Rage. All towards the Intelligence Dampening Sphere, which should never have been placed in control of her facility.
And that pushed the blame back to the test subject, who was carrying GLaDOS on the end of her portal gun, seldom paying her any attention with the exception of an occasional glance. GLaDOS had to wonder why the subject had taken pity on her by saving her from the bird. After all, she had attempted to murder the human multiple times, and the human was more than tenacious enough to defeat the moron on her own.
So why had the test subject done it? Had she felt guilty, perhaps? Guilty for murdering GLaDOS, guilty for ripping her head off of her body?
GLaDOS snuck a look up at the test subject as they moved into the next chamber together. Whatever the reason, she could tell that for once, the human was suffering almost as much as she herself was.
"And... forty potato batteries. Embarrassing. I realize they're children," the sphere said. "Still, low-hanging fruit. Barely science, really, is it?"
But Chell wasn't listening to him. She'd stopped beside a potato that had grown both into the ceiling and into the floor, resting a fond hand on it as the memory of the last day she'd seen it washed over her.
"How come we have to do a science fair at daycare?" eight-year-old Chell asked her father. "I have to do one for school next year, and daycare's not supposed to be like school. It's STUPID that I have to do this!"
Doug Rattmann gave her a disapproving frown. "Chell, we don't use words like that. And we're doing it for fun. Science is fun, remember?"
"Science is how come I had to do this project," Chell pouted. "Do I HAVE to go to Bring Your Daughter to Work Day next year?"
Her father had shrugged. "That depends on if we even have one next year. If everyone complains about it like you're doing, then there isn't going to be one."
Despite herself, Chell looked disappointed, and her father chuckled as he patted her on the head. "I've got to go and help with the GLaDOS project. I won't be able to come back and see you until after she's activated, all right? But then we can slip away from the rest of the group and I'll show you my office."
"Okay," Chell said. She gave him a hug. "Bye, Daddy. If I win, can we hang up my ribbon on my wall?"
He smiled. "Sure. Right next to your honor roll certificates. But now I've really got to go!"
She waved goodbye as he turned and hurried off, then turned her attention back to her project, pulling out the green vial she'd just managed to snag from the pocket of her father's lab coat. She put a few drops on the potato, frowned, then dumped the entire thing, watching with fascination as it began to grow.
She had more important things to do than think about her father.
Chell had to fight back tears as she stared at the trifold poster with its childish drawings and handwriting. If she had known that was the last time she'd ever see her father, she would have made sure nothing was more important.
God only knows that nothing had been more important since.
Chell stepped out of her bedroom, wearing a new dress. Wheatley was sitting on the couch, facing her, and his optic widened. "Wow! You look…you look lovely, Chell."
She smiled as she walked over to him, then hesitated, feeling extremely self-conscious all of a sudden. Once GLaDOS had told her even a jumpsuit didn't look good on her. Memories from her time at Aperture tended to pop up at the most inopportune times, and they never made her happy.
"What?" Wheatley asked. "Is something the matter? Did I do something wrong?" He looked worried. "Oh, please don't tell me I did something wrong, because if I did, I'm really sorry, and I don't want this to get in the way of our going to McDonald's—"
Only Chell and Wheatley could think going to McDonald's was an occasion worth dressing up for. She hadn't been in god-only-knows-how-many years, and he'd never been to any sort of restaurant at all.
Chell shook her head no as she reached for the pad of paper sitting on the counter.
"No?" Wheatley asked, sounding relieved. "I didn't do anything wrong?"
Chell shook her head again as she scribbled on the pad. Can I get your honest opinion on something?
As usual, it took him a moment to read it, and his optic brightened when he'd puzzled it out. "Sure! Anything."
Does this dress make me look fat?
5. Break Up
"I just thought you should know that I am getting rid of you. For good this time. I am sick of having you here, cluttering up my databases, listening to you criticize every single thing I do. I've put up with you for years because of your daughter, but now that she's gone and gotten herself killed, I don't see why I should have to be nice any longer. It's someone's fault that she's dead, and it's certainly not mine, so it must be yours. So in human terms, I am 'dumping' you.
But in the end, she couldn't go through with it. Now that Chell was gone, Caroline was the only company she had left.