Bluer than Blue
-A Portal / Doctor Who Crossover-
By Chibi Ra Chan
Note: This is it. The accumulation of all my nerdery. I am proud of this one. This was the first time in a very, very long time that I got giddy at the thought of writing. I love both Portal and Doctor who dearly and this is the first time I have written anything extensive for either one. Please pardon any tiny discrepancies between the canon and this story, because while I did my best to stay true to both canon's somethings had to be tweaked.
On that note; This story takes place after the events of Portal 2 and right before the fiasco of 'Doomsday' in Doctor who.
Please enjoy and tell me what you think.
Forever and Eternally,
Space was, as the fact core had predicted, largely empty.
And Wheatley was quite sick of it.
It was just too big; it was dark and it was boring. Nothing to do all day. Nothing. Except float around, talk to Rick whenever he floated by, try and talk to the space debris, which let me tell you, makes absolutely horrible conversation partners, float some more, attempt to talk to the increasingly Earth-sick Space core, and think.
Thinking was what Wheatley had come to hate most. And it wasn't because of the obvious 'haha the intelligence dampening sphere is a moron and doesn't like to think' reason either. It was the fact that no matter what he tried thinking about, Science, literature, flashlights, it all ended back at the subject of how monstrous he had become and how truly sorry he was.
The only thing he wanted was to apologize to her, to make her understand that he hadn't meant to almost kill her several dozen times. It was Her chassis that had blinded him. He would never want to hurt her under any other circumstances, never.
She had been the only person who hadn't thought he was a moron.
'And I have obviously proven her wrong.' He thinks somberly. 'Only a moron would try to kill the person who was trying to help them.'
Left alone with mostly his own thoughts, the personality sphere was doomed to drift through space alone and think about how everything had gone so monumentally wrong, without any real hope of fixing it.
He can not recall how long he has been in space when it happens. It could have been years or it could have been picoseconds, he was never very good with time, the human concept of it was vague and uninteresting to him.
One moment he is drifting through space trying to figure out if there was any chance he could hurl himself into the sun and the next he feels the atoms in his core agitate violently and he is being tugged.
It is almost like being on the management rail again, so he doesn't notice that he is practically docking onto -something- until he feels the ions that power his internal battery flare to life and begin to grow bombard with each other. The feeling, one of the few organic ones cores could honest to goodness feel, was like a current running through his hull. It made his processors do double duty to keep up with how fast his thoughts were racing.
Most of which were fear.
He was docking on to something. In space. There shouldn't be anything to dock on in space. There was a very good chance that the blue thing he was attached to, which his ion heightened mental capacity told him was a few shades darker than his optic light, was something She had sent to finish him off.
It had to be.
Wheatley wouldn't put it past Her to change Her mind about how being trapped alone in space for the rest of his miserable battery life wasn't punishment enough for everything he had done to Her.
It sounded like something She would do.
"Oh god, oh god, oh god, I'm going to die. I am docking on something, something I was probably not meant to dock on and I am going to die. This is the end for you Wheatley, the last hurrah before you go to android hell, because She said that exists and lets face it; after what we've done we are defiantly going there. Oh I never got to tell her that I'm sorry and now I'm going to die, in bloody space of all places! Somehow it doesn't seem exactly fair, I am dying, going to be dead, dead dead dead dead de- Oh. Hello!"
It is then that he notices that the tall gangly looking human that is leaning out of the blue whatever-it-was-he-was-docked-to.
"Hello. Hitching a ride on my TARDIS?"
Wheatley's blue optic moves in a approximate pantomime of blinking. "N-no. At least I don't think so. Though I'm not exactly sure what a Trady thing is. I am however, pretty sure I am dying though."
The human pushes a pair of black glasses up the bridge of his nose and makes a face. "Well that doesn't sound good."
"No. I'm going to have to go no on that one. It is not good. Good would be the exact opposite of what dying is." Wheatley blames his surprising calm in the face of near certain death on both his super charged ion battery and some measure of 'the space crazies' as Rick had phrased it.
"I'd imagine so. Well your dying is slowing us down so you can either die a bit quicker or you could come in and we can try to keep you from doing that dying thing. Whichever works better for you."
Even with all his mental deficiencies Wheatley knows that the latter is probably a stretch, if not an outright lie, if this blue Tardy thing was really sent by her, but he really REALLY didn't want to die alone in space.
"Uh, the second option please. Definitely going to have to go with option B. Please and thank you."
And that is how Wheatley meets The Doctor.
"Fact: The Intelligence Dampening Sphere has disappeared out of it's earth orbit."
With barely a squeak GLaDOS rearranges Her panels, wires, and components away from the screen She was using to watch the co-operative testing bots and regards the fact core with her optic.
She had decided to spare the so called fact core the emergency intelligence incinerator and after a few upgrades and adjustments its facts were now 98.6% accurate. But it would seem that that 1.4% of falsity was going to rear it's ugly head very often.
"That's impossible." Her voice is calm and has a synthetic quality to it. "That little idiot can not 'disappear' from orbit. He can get hit out of orbit by space debris or he can fall into the orbital zone of another body; I'm hoping for the former myself, but he can not simply disappear."
"The fact core has scanned for him twice. The only logical explanation is that it has disappeared."
"Then your facts are wrong." Honestly it was so hard to find decent slightly recycled cores to do ones bidding now a days.
"The fact core has scanned again and there is no trace of the intelligence dampening sphere in the entire solar system. The fact cores facts are completely factual and interesting."
GLaDOS almost sends him to the incinerator, but decides against it. The human adage of 'If you want something done right, do it yourself' seemed to hold some truth after all.
"We'll see about that."
She runs a scan in the background of her systems and returns to taunting the orange bot for is lack of speed, fully expecting to find the flaw in the Fact core's observations. A few moments later however, Her processors alert Her that he was not spewing falsities after all.
She double and triple checks the results, but each time they come back the same.
Wheatley was gone, vanished, disappeared. And even GLaDOS, with all the science in the world at her proverbial fingertips, could not explain why.
Rose Tyler has seen many man-machines in her lifetime, more than probably any other human being on earth, and they were all pretty much you'd expect from a robot; stocky, cold, monotonous, emotionless, empty.
But this little metal ball, Wheatley he called himself, was a far cry from the usual robot.
The Doctor had pulled him from the side of the TARDIS and since then he'd been speaking rapidly, his little blue eye-light-thing dilating and contracting swiftly as he rambled on and on in unintelligible gibberish. It had been going on for at least ten minutes now.
Rose did not know what to make of the metal ball, but he certainly wasn't the worst thing that could have crashed into them.
"He seems more man than machine the way he's going on and on like that. Have you ever seen anything like it?" She whispers as she stands next to the Doctor; both watching with amused faces at the little metal ball of energy rambled on and on about something she wasn't entirely sure of.
"Nope. I can't wait to find out though."
"Why is it, er, he, speaking so fast? I can't understand a word of what he's saying."
"It's the ions in him," he whispers to her quietly. "The TARDIS charged his batteries so he's running a mile a minute." He smiles and she can tell he finds this fun.
"Will he be okay like this?"
"Oh yes, he'll be fine the charge will fade in a few minutes, he'll be back to normal then. Whatever normal is for him anyways."
Sure enough, in ten minutes Wheatley's processors begin to slow to their normal speed and he finally stops talking. The strange metal ball stays quiet for a moment, looking around at the interior of the time machine and then at them with what she is certain would have been a curious expression were he human and had expressions.
"So. It's bigger on the inside." Is the first coherent thing he says. "I like that."
Rose smiles and laughs.
He would fit in just fine here.
When Wheatley is finally settled down and assured that 'She' (whoever 'She' is) had not sent them to kill him, he is charmingly amicable toward answering their questions.
"So what planet are you from?" Rose asks excitedly. It wasn't very often that they find a machine man that wasn't trying to kill them. And in all honesty she didn't think little Wheatley had it in him to hurt a fly.
"Earth, what other planet could I be from?" he answers with an air of indulgence, as if he could not fathom there being other places one could be from. He sends a look towards the Doctor. "I think there's a bit of brain damage in this one mate. She seems to think that people can go to other planets. A shame too, the pretty ones always seem to be brain damaged."
The Doctor frowns a bit and ignores the core's chattering in favor of thinking about his previous statement. The technology in the timeline of earth they were traveling near when he had docked to the TARDIS shouldn't have been able to make Wheatley. It should have been beyond their abilities.
It is then that he notices the tiny insignia on the upper right of his hull. His shoulders tense minutely, but Rose and Wheatley do not notice, for they were too involved in a conversation about how his optic light worked, and how Rose thought it was the second bluest blue she had ever seen. The first being the TARDIS of course.
The Doctor had seen that insignia before; Aperture Science Innovators, later Aperture Laboratories. An upstart applied science laboratory based in a Michigan salt mine. He in a previous form nce had to intervene in order to stop a accidental invasion of Mantis men.
He remembers the man in charge of the facility, a not exactly helpful but loud man named Cave Johnson who was convinced that he had been a witch. The Timelord had taken offense to that and had warned the man that messing with the timeline was a dangerous thing.
It had not ended as well as he would have liked but he had had to move on and hope that his assistant, a pretty, level headed woman, would be able to convince him to take caution with his technology.
But that was in the 1960's there was almost no way that they were still functioning long enough in the future to make Wheatley.
Unless something had gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Wheatley nearly panics when he pulls out his Sonic screwdriver, but once Rose assures him that no, it won't kill him and no, it won't hurt, he reluctantly allows the Doctor to scan him.
The blue light of the instrument blends into the blue of his optic, and besides a vague buzzing in his gyroscopic balancing system, it does not hurt.
The Doctor smiles and Wheatley is reassured that everything is okay, but Rose sees the telltale crinkling of the Doctor's eyes and the hand that runs through his hair and she knows that he has figured something out.
Wheatley is awed when they finally explain to him that the thing that he had docked to was, for all intents and purposes, a time machine. He has been around massive and impressive machinery all his life, hell he WAS pretty impressive machinery himself, but this took the cake.
He falters for a moment and if he had a body he would have cringed. She had used cake to make the test subjects cooperate. The reminder of her and her cruelty was a bitter taste on his proverbial tongue and he tries to move past it as quickly as possible.
But the momentary pause in friendly chatter does not go unnoticed by the doctor and his companion who notice that a few words and phrases sent the little 'Personality core', as he had called himself, into a momentary depression.
Rose feels bad for the metal ball, but is curious as to why he was simply floating through space thinking someone was going to kill him.
Sitting on the floor of the TARDIS, Rose gathers the surprisingly heavy core into her lap. Wheatley sputters and the Doctor quirks an eyebrow. The blonde woman sends him a pointed look and realization dawns. She was going to try and sweet talk information out of him.
The Doctor nods and sit down as well. Rose pats the side of his hull like one would comfort a pet or a small child and Wheatley calms considerably. "Soooo, my friend, tell us, why were you spiraling through space?" he asks good naturedly.
The personality sphere grows quiet, the panels on his hull pantomiming human sadness. "I was being punished." He forces out.
Rose decides that she doesn't like seeing the normally chipper core so sad. It was unnerving. "What could you have possibly done to get shot into space?"
Now his panel slides completely shut and his voice seems distant, much less synthesized, as human as could be. Even the Doctor leans forward to hear his answer.
"I was a monster to her. An absolute monster."
Then he doesn't say anything for a long time.
"What's wrong with him Doctor?"
"The people who built him, they didn't exactly build him."
"Could you be anymore vague?"
"I don't think he was always the way he is now."
"You can't mean-"
"You said it yourself, he's more man than machine, only you were spot on. He used to be human, but they changed him."
"That's horrible! Does he know?"
The Doctor only sighs and that is answer enough.
That first week aboard the TARDIS he tries to explain why he was floating in space, with mixed results.
"I was built to be a moron."
There is silence for a moment before Rose, sweet Rose, steps in to reassure him. "Oh, Wheatley you're not a moron. Sure you're a bit dense, but not a moron. Who would say that?"
Wheatley agrees with her but it is neither here nor there. The Doctor simply listens.
"SHE would. She runs the entire facility; Aperture Laboratories. They're the ones that built me, She says that I was made to be the biggest moron the world had ever seen, so that they could hook me up to Her and make Her behave."
Neither miss the fear and awe that comes across every time he mentions 'Her'.
"But I didn't work, or I did work, maybe a bit too well. I'm not entirely sure, I don't remember that far back really, and all of this comes from what She said. Not the most reliable source really, She always lies. Always. GLaDOS always lies." Saying Her name makes a violent tremor run through his hull.
Wheatley trails off for a moment, but he catches himself and starts again. "Right! So She is a monster. A horrible, terrible awful monster. She killed all the scientists that built Her and ran the facility how She saw fit."
"When I pulled you in you said that you were a monster to 'her'? Was she the one that punished you?" The Doctor asks thoughtfully.
"Oh yeah." Rose remembers, "Is that her? Gladys, or GLaDOS is that the name of girl you were a monster to?"
"No!" he nearly yells, startling everyone, even himself with his outburst. "I mean, no. They're different, completely different. There is her and then there is Her. She is GLaDOS." He can't bring himself to tell them about the other her though, not yet.
"So the one that sent you floating around the stars is a robot?" Rose asks hoping to smooth over her mistake. "You talk about her like she's God or something."
Wheatley snorts, a function he was not aware that he had until this very moment. "Almost luv. She's like me, only better. Or worse. She's huge, terrifyingly huge. She has an entire room to hold her processors and Chassis. A right old monster, the first time I met Her, or at least the first time that I remember meeting Her, she squished me. Completely crush my hull! If Jerry and the nanobots hadn't fixed me then I don't know what-"
They both give him pointed looks. "-But that isn't the point now is it? No, it's not sorry then. The point is that She was the one that punished me, not Chell. Never Chell."
The Doctor is content to let him go on with his story, but Rose senses that the tale was getting to be too much for the personality core and stops him, saying he can tell the rest later, that it was getting late.
It is a lie, but Wheatley is thankful for it nonetheless.
"I'm not sure about him."
"Well I think he's sweet, charming in a bumbling sort of way."
"He's Aperture technology, last time I was there they weren't exactly responsible."
"Aa." There is a lull in the conversation before the blonde woman shrugs. "I suppose we could keep him around for a bit longer, until we get back to Earth proper. I mean how much trouble could he get into?"
"I mean it's nothing you can't handle right?"
"Then it's settled!" The Doctor sighs and Rose pats his cheek fondly. "Give him some time. We have enough of it. Besides the TARDIS was the one that picked him up, she trusts him. I think we should too."
He is weary of them at first.
He was sure that She had sent them and this blue box, which he now knew was called a TARDIS and that is contained more than trace amounts of time travel, to kill him. It seemed something the mistress of Aperture Science would do.
But they had been nice to him, by not killing him. He appreciated that more than he could ever articulate, the whole 'not being dead thing' and they had taken him out of his endless orbit of space: also very endearing to him.
But Wheatley was still a bit skeptical to tell them of what he had done.
To be completely honest the man that called himself 'The Doctor' scared him a bit. He liked Rose fine enough, what with her smiling all the time and her desire to talk to him but the Doctor was a bit different. He was warm and he smiled and laughed kindly at his sputtering but Wheatley could tell that there was something under the surface.
Chell was like that too; so much determination and mystery underneath all the skin and hair and brain damage.
Not that he thought that the Doctor had brain damage, in fact he was probably the least brain damaged person he had ever met.
And that's what scared him; there was a very real a chance that he'd realize how horrible he was and send him back into space.
Wheatley knows that he isn't particularly smart, but he isn't a moron. Even he could put it together that Rose and the Doctor were different from regular humans, if they were really human at all. Normal humans simply didn't traverse the galaxy.
He knew that the TARDIS and her crew were his only chance at getting back to earth.
Back to her.
They take Wheatley with them.
Mostly because they aren't exactly sure what to do with him. Even the Doctor, with nearly a millennia of wisdom at his disposal was not sure what they would do with the old Aperture core.
The obvious thing would be to take him back to earth, but without really know what his functioning was or why he had been 'punished' in the first place he couldn't just toss him there.
Of course that issue could easily be fixed by simply plugging him into the TARDIS and let her figure out his programming, but when he had suggested it, Wheatley had panicked and begged them not to.
That in itself was suspicious.
Still the Timelord couldn't bring himself to really think anything ill of the core. Unlike other strange people/creatures that he and Rose had met, Wheatley had nearly no interest in him or his timelord abilities. The closest to interest had been when they had mentioned going back to current earth after a good adventure or two.
Then he had perked up considerably. Something was waiting for Wheatley back on earth, and the Doctor had every intention of seeing what it was.
"I think he's homesick."
"What makes you think that?"
"Come on, you can tell just by looking at him."
"Doctor, he's a metal ball."
"That's besides the point. You see the way he perks up whenever someone mentions earth, or when he is reminded of 'her', whoever she is. I know you see it, better than I do, womanly intuition and all that."
The Doctor is right, she knows it, but she's grown fond of Wheatley and the chatter that having him around invokes.
"I just want him to tell us on his own. So can we let him stay, just a bit longer?"
And like always when faced with the infamous Rose Tyler charm, the Doctor relents.
"Just a bit longer."
"Just a bit longer."
In between visiting Viking controlled England (which Wheatley was both terrified and fascinated by) and falling into the orbit of a planet of never ending night (The core was proud to say that it was his flashlight function, along with the sonic screwdriver, that had saved them from the alien monster thing that was kidnapping and eating the locals) they build him his own management rail.
"For when you don't feel like sitting in one place." She says brightly as she helps attach him to the cable line. "Or when you don't want to go with us. I can't imagine it's fun for you to be carried around through history all the time."
Wheatley didn't mind being carried by Rose. He was quite fond of her at this point. But the thought is what counted.
He can hardly contain himself when he is firmly attached and zips around the main control room with reckless abandon.
"This is great! Bloody amazing really! I feel as free as a- well, as free as a thing that doesn't have to be carried around everywhere. Which is pretty free! I have to say, this is your greatest invention yet Doctor! Man alive this is fun, I wish you could feel how great this is, because let me tell you, it is great. Completely an utterly great. I wonder if I can carry you on this thing? Can I carry you? I mean you don't look too big. I think I could carry you. What do you say, want to go for ride Doctor?"
And who could say no to an offer like that?
Certainly not the Doctor.
The years have not been kind to Chell.
Not that life ever was particularly kind to her from the get go, but there was a special kind of melancholy that washed over her life after her expulsion from Aperture Science.
She couldn't explain it even is she wanted to, she had no voice to make her thoughts known outside her head. No one would understand what she had been through. How could they? Her life was so bizarre that if it had not had happened to her than she wouldn't have believed it.
In fact there were days when she isn't all that sure it happened at all. Weeks and months removed from the testing track made it easier to forget the sterile smell of the labs, or the steel to her captor's voice. There are times when she can no longer remember the exact shade of Wheatley's optic and so it was simple to believe that she had imagined it.
As time went by it was easier and easier to believe it was nothing but a crazy dream; a nightmare that got out of control. It was almost better for her to believe that it wasn't real.
But when she lays in her soft bed, the only real comfort she allows herself to have, her fingers twitch with the memory of a portal gun and the remnants of neurotoxin, asbestos, and moon dust poisoning courses through her veins making her shake violently, she knows. She sees the cuts that have healed into scars on her arms, the burns on her chest from turret fire, the scars on her shins from her the original implanted long fall springs that still throb with pain. She sees them; and feels them; and Chell knows that it was real.
It is in these times that she wishes she could to talk to someone, anyone about it. But she knows that it wouldn't be enough even if her vocal chords could work. Chell wanted someone who understood what she had seen, what she had lived. She wanted someone who had lived it with her, who didn't need words to figure out what was wrong with her.
Chell misses Wheatley.
And she hates herself for it.
Later that night, at least he thinks it is night, it was hard to tell in space-time, after they are all tuckered out from playing with his management rail, he finally tells them the truth.
"Back at the enrichment center, there was this girl…"
Both heads snap to meet his optic, which is looking at the ground with what seemed like shame. The Doctor and his companion stay quiet lest he get distracted and stop talking.
"Well, she wasn't really a girl, not really that would make her a child and she was not a child, not at all…"
Maybe intervention was needed after all to keep him on track. "Go on…" The Doctor says encouragingly.
"Right! Moving on, there was this girl, woman, Chell." If possible Wheatley looks even more forlorn. "Her name was Chell and she was a test subject. Once upon a time she was awoken from cryosleep by Her, uh, GLaDOS her I guess. It feels weird to say her name like that. Unnatural it is. But she was woken up after She flooded the facility with neurotoxin and killed all the scientists. The second time.
Chell was supposed to test the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Devise for Her. I'm a little hazy on the details, but Chell eventually took Her down and the facility started to break down. Somehow she ended up in deep cryosleep though until I woke her up."
Rose can't reel in her curiosity. "How long was she asleep?"
"Well it was a long time, the enrichment center was on the edge of collapse, I'd say about 9-9999999999999999999-." his programming begins to glitch and the personality core is stuck in an seemingly unending loop.
"That long eh?" The doctor remarks before righting him again with a few pulses of the sonic screwdriver.
"-ago. Huh? What happened?"
The Doctor grins impishly. "Nothing, go on with the story."
"Oh, okay. So I woke her up. I wanted to get out of the facility, it was horrible being there alone for so long. No talking, no sounds, only creaking panels. It was terrible, absolutely terrible. I- I was supposed to be in charge of keeping the other humans alive, but well I wasn't able to- That is to say that- It's not because I wasn't smart enough! Because I was. AM! I still am, I just couldn't…"
Rose pats his hull soothingly and he continues.
"Anyways, so I woke her and we worked together, trying to find a way out. But it turns out that She wasn't dead after all, She was only offline and I might have possibly rebooted Her. Completely by accident! That's when she crushed me and threw Chell back into testing. We had a quite an adventure trying to break out again. Chell is quite the quick thinker, even with all the brain damage. And she is great with a Portal gun, let me tell you, it's like she was born to test! You wouldn't believe how great it felt to have her solve a puz-"
He stops, his ocean blue optic wide as he catches what he's saying and his excitement turns somber.
"….nevermind. The plan was to find our way to Her chamber and do a core transfer. Basically unplug Her and plug me in. Then I'd get us both out of Aperture and that would be that. But-"
He is stuttering again and it all Rose can do to comfort him in someway. "You can stop if you want. Save the rest for another day."
Wheatley considers it but shakes his entire hull to answer no. The Doctor smiles, almost proud of the little metal ball.
"I can do this. I can, I just…. So the core transfer happened, and I was in charge of the whole facility. Me, tiny little Wheatley, the moron, the biggest moron who ever lived, was in charge of everything! I was about to send her to the surface but something happened.
It was like all of a sudden I wasn't me, I felt everything, everything was a part of me, it was brilliant, bloody brilliant and I didn't want to leave. And I had to test. I don't know how She dealt with it, the facility, the Chassis. It does something to you, you know? Testing was all that was important and I made her do it for me.
She was my only friend and I made her test, again. And when she wouldn't I tried to kill her. I almost did it too, a lot. I guess I'm just lucky that I really am a moron, or I really would have killed Chell. I was a monster; a complete and utter monster who only wanted what was best for me.
It's no surprise she took me down, I mean I deserved it right?" he doesn't let them answer because he is suddenly zipping back and forth on his management rail, as if pacing. "Of course I deserved it! I was horrible.
It's no surprise they worked together to boot me out! Chell and Her, together, a team. Oh it drove me mad! It made me mad, not even the synthesized anger that Chassis made me feel, but real anger. I was the one that turned against her and but I was the one that felt like I had the right to be mad! I don't. I don't blame her for what happened. It was completely my fault, I deserved to be stuck in space."
He stops his 'pacing' and goes still, his optic closed, voice tender and remorseful.
"Chell was my only friend, and I nearly killed her dozens of times. I didn't even get to apologize. I was monstrous and bossy and I would take it all back if I could. Honestly. I just wish I could tell her." He opens his optic and looks at the doctor who has a strange look in his eyes. "Doctor, I have no right to ask, but would it be okay if we made a super quick trip back to earth? I just want to apologize."
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" the blond woman asks softly, "What if doesn't work out the way you want it to. What if the big computer lady didn't let her go? What if she wasn't able to escape?"
"She did. I know it. Even if I really am a moron, designed to come to the worst conclusions possible, I know she's okay. I can almost feel it. She's alive and free of Aperture. I know it."
No one says anything for a moment. Rose is still unsure but the Doctor is thinking a mile a minute.
"Please Doctor, She's brain damaged, she needs me. And…. And I need her."
It is then that the last of the Timelords blows a raspberry, runs a hand through his messy hair, and grins.
"Wheatley, I don't know how, but you managed to dock onto the only thing in the universe that could help you back. You're bloody brilliant mate!"
If Wheatley could have cried of happiness, he would have.
"Fact: The Intelligence Dampening Sphere's signal has reappeared. The Intelligence Dampening sphere is back on Earth."
Her immediate reaction was to whirl around in Her chassis and franticly scan the planet for the trace amounts of Wheatley's bio signature Herself. The nagging itch of not knowing how or why his signal had simply vanished had gnawed on Her consciousness for years.
GLaDOS had tried to rationalize the disappearance the best She could. She tried to convince Herself that his batteries had gone dry, or that he had wondered into the asteroid belt and had been bludgeoned to death, it sounded like something the moron would get himself into.
But GLaDOS' intelligence wouldn't let Her believe it. Aperture technology wouldn't allow for his battery to run dry for years without recharging. And as much as She would like to think of him screaming as he was bombarded with asteroids, it was unlikely that such a thing would happen and he would go online again now.
No. It takes every ounce of GLaDOS' self control to calmly wait until the test was finished before addressing the Fact Core.
"Crash landing?" Her voice is tight.
"Negative. The Intelligence Dampening Sphere is functioning at peak capacity. Beyond peak capacity."
"That is impossible." GLaDOS actually does whirl around to see the tiny core.
"It is fact."
"I am quite tired of hearing you say that, so now you won't be saying anything."
And before the core can say anything else to infuriate Her, She turns off his power supply and his pink optic goes dark. She'll reactivate him later, if She feels like it, but now She is more concerned about other things.
Stretching Her reach out through the facility, it is only a matter of moments before She has all the data before Her.
'Impossible.' But it was just as the fact core had said, Wheatley was back on earth, and his battery was running at capacity. And that was what alarmed Her. If Her data was correct, and it was, then something had altered the ionic charge in his processors. It was beyond what the scientists had been able to install in him.
He would stay active for centuries.
GLaDOS is completely unable to stop Herself from destroying the collection of data and machinery in absolute seething rage.
The little idiot would end up living forever, and She could no longer do anything to stop it.
She is not sure why she decided to go back there, to the place where she had been expunged from GLaDOS' facility for good. It had not been something she planned by any means. In fact, the absolute last thing she wanted was to be anywhere near there, lest the AI change her mind and drag her back into testing.
But her feet had itched with the need to run and before she knew it there she was.
The fields were not covered in wheat anymore, it was far too cold for that. Instead of golden foliage, there was only patches of barely alive greenery and rain soaked dirt.
It was a far cry from the poetic reunion that she was expecting. She felt nothing, other than exhaustion from a good three mile run, towards the first piece of real land she could remember seeing. All in all it was rather anticlimactic.
Chell doesn't know why her hopes had been up, or even what they were up for. She sighs and readjusts her ponytail, grown long over the years. She is ready to go back.
And that is when she hears it; a strange whooshing sound, starting softly, but growing in pitch and volume until she feels as if the noise is thrumming from the very core of her bones.
Maybe it is.
Chell sees a flash of light and then, at the edge of the horizon there is a smudge of the bluest blue that she has ever seen. Her heart beat wildly in her rib cage.
Without pausing to think, she is running towards it, so quickly her brown boots seem to barely touch the muddy ground, and in that moment Chell feels like she is flying.
"Is this what the outside looks like? Kind of dull and gray if you ask me." Wheatley has never seen the surface world of earth before and now that he's looking at it all from Rose's arms, he isn't all that impressed.
They land in what looks like a deserted field. The sky above them is gray with bits of sunlight peeking out from behind dark clouds and the ground below them is brown and soggy.
"Frankly I don't get why she wanted to get here so much. I mean look at it, it's all wet! What if I short circuit before I get the chance to see her? What if she short circuited? Do humans short circuit? I'm not sure about that one-"
Both the Doctor and Rose ignore his nervous rambling, something he had been doing since this morning when they let it slip that they were close.
"How are we supposed to find her Doctor? She could be anywhere. How long has it been since he was launched into space anyways? For all we know Chell could be D-E-A-D by now."
"Oh don't worry luv, Chell won't be on a diet, she doesn't need to. No matter what She said." Wheatley chimes in brightly. (Completely wrong on the spelling to Roses relief.)
"You know you don't give me enough credit Rose Tyler. 945 years worth of traveling through time and space, I think I know how to park my own TARDIS in the right time."
"How long Doctor?"
"Three years, fourteen hours and twenty seven minutes. It was the best I could do."
"Three years! So what, we just stand here and wait for this girl to randomly walk intp an empty field?"
The Doctor shrugs, unable to keep the grin off his face. "Basically, yes. That is the plan."
"How is that going to-" Her words are cut short as she realizes that the fussing Wheatley has gone completely still in her arms. More alarming is the fact that he has also gone silent.
Rose turns her head and is taken aback. Standing before them with a shocked expression is a short woman with long brown hair that hangs in a lose ponytail over her shoulder and gray eyes that shine with shock in the dim lighting.
Wheatley's voice is barely above a ghost of a whisper. "Chell."
The Doctor loved happy reunions; they so seldom happened when he was concerned, so when they did occur he liked to help them along if at all possible. Which usually ended up NOT helping, but the Doctor prided himself on his good intentions.
So he rescued a doomed core from outer space and recharged his batteries so that he would last much longer than he was ever designed to. Big deal. It was only a few millennia and it was mostly by accident, no harm no foul right?
So he had the TARDIS signal the girl, Chell he thinks her name is, funny name, but he rather liked the sound of it, to find them in this remote field. Frankly, it wasn't the worst thing that he had done, or would do in his lifetime.
As far as the Doctor was concerned, he was moving along a process that would have taken decades to happen, maybe even never. All too give Wheatley the chance to say he was sorry.
However, he didn't count on Chell, who had seemed so nice in Wheatley's descriptions, glaring daggers at them and the core that they had in their care.
"Uh, hello. Long time no see, you know being in space and all that. So, uh, how have you been- Wait wait come back come back!"
The brunette makes no attempt to stop, and he can feel Rose growing agitated next to him.
"What? Are you just going to leave! You can't just walk away from him, he traveled all through time and space just to find you!" Her voice is high pitched with anger. "We went through thousands of years of history, saw Vikings, aliens, monsters, more aliens and you're all he could talk about, just you!"
The woman stops walking away, her back ramrod straight and her fingers clenching into the material of her black pants. Her body language screams that she wants nothing more than to flee, but doesn't.
"I'm not saying you have to forgive him, but at least hear him out. He's come a long way for you Chell."
The doctor can't help but laugh when she turns around, her face carefully blank, and walk about towards them, her eyes trained on the metal miracle of science in Rose's arms.
"I just love happy reunions, they're always so fun!"
Wheatley can hardly believe that Chell is standing right in front of him, alive and not killing him, which he was thankful for.
He can't help but notice just how different she looked this time around. She wasn't wearing the mandatory orange jumpsuit that the test subjects all wore, not that he really expected her to, she wasn't a lab rat anymore. Instead she wore black close fitting pants and brown boots with a matching top. He thinks he sees a hint of a light blue tank top under it but he isn't too sure.
Her hair is longer, it seemed to have grown and it reminds him of the plant life that over ran the facility while She was offline.
Wheatley shakes all thoughts of Her out of his mind, he wouldn't let Her ruin this for him. He had better things to worry about, like Chell who had every right and probably intention to kill him or flee.
"Okay so that last attempt at an apology, was horrible. I know it, you know it, they know it, it's universally known. So I uh…." he didn't think it would be this hard to just spit it out, but Chell's blank stare made him nervous, more nervous than usual. "Look. I know you probably hate me- and you should! I was a monster, an absolute monster. I can't even begin to explain how horrid I was to you. You were the only one since I was activated to ever be nice to me and I betrayed you. It was low, beyond low, I feel like, oh what's the name of the little creature that hisses and moves around on it's belly?"
"A snake?' Rose attempts when Chell makes no move to fill in the blank for him.
"Yes! That's it! A snake, I was a snake in the grass, a bottom feeder. And I am sorry. Terribly, unbelievably sorry."
Chell tilts her head to the side in a fashion that he remembers meant that she was thinking hard and rushes to convince her of his sincerity.
"It was the chassis, you have to believe me. That power it was unbelievable, and it was like there was this little voice in my head nagging on and on and on to test. I had to test, I NEEDED to test. It was so overwhelming, and you know better than anyone luv, I'm not that strong. I was no match for it, Her systems were too much for me.
And then you were running around with Her in the Potato, without me. Which made sense since I was trying to kill you…which I am sorry for. Have I said that already? I am really REALLY sorry for that. But I just got so mad seeing you and her together, sharing little jokes, well not you obviously, but that's not the point! The point is that I was horribly jealous and mad and it made everything worse."
Wheatley finally dares to look back at Chell with the sincerest look his bluer than blue optic could manage.
"I didn't mean it, any of it. Please Chell, you have to believe me. I am so sorry. So very sorry."
There is silence between them, the only sound is the light rustling of the wind. Wheatley is unable to take the silence, it has always driven him mad with nervousness, and closes his optic, waiting for whatever punishment Chell was going to give him.
His only solace was the fact that he was almost certain that the Doctor would put him back together after she was done ripping him apart, piece by piece, panel by panel, bolt by bol-
Chell squats down so that they are something akin to eye level, her gray eyes filled with the determination that she was so famous for and it is all he can do to keep from looking away. She sighs; her eyelids flutter close and she lays her forehead against his hull.
He can't feel it, her skin against his steel panels, not really. But he knows that having her close to him like this, feels great. He thinks that if he had a heart it would all be a flutterr right now
Wheatley knows that she has forgiven him and it feels wonderful.
She forgives him.
She knows that it is stupid and that she probably shouldn't but she does.
Chell can't stay mad at him and to be quite honest, Wheatley wasn't smart enough to come up with a plan this intricate, which apparently included travel through time and space, (She would have to figure out a way to ask the core about that later) just to get back to her.
Right now she just wanted someone to talk to her, someone who understood, and Wheatley with all his babbling and idiocy, was that someone.
The blonde woman who is holding him shoots a look at the odd man leaning against the blue box. She smiles, shrugs and nods encouragingly at her. With great reluctance, she hands the personality core over to her. "Sorry I yelled at you earlier, I just got a bit emotional that's all. I'm Rose by the way, Rose Tyler. And this is the Doctor." Said man smiles and waves.
Chell wants to ask what he could possibly be the Doctor of, but obviously can't. Wheatley however seems to know what she's thinking and explains, his optic is practically beaming with happiness. "He's not a real Doctor, not really. He has this blue box called the TARDIS and it lets him do all this Timey-Wimey Spacey-Wacey stuff, I wish you could have seen it luv!"
"Timey-wimey, I sort of like that. Mind if I use it?" the Doctor asks and Chell shrugs.
The woman, Rose, looks at her with a strange expression. "Not to sound rude, this is kind of a big occasion for the both of you, so why aren't you talking?"
Chell's face burns and she looks away. Surprising enough Wheatley's big mouth saves her from the embarrassment of trying to explain without words that decades in cryosleep had ruined her vocal chords. That tended to be a hard concept to pantomime.
"Oh she can't do that! I mean I think she used to be able to but cryosleep short circuited her talking box. Is that what it's called Chell, a talking box? Am I close at least?"
She smiles and nods yes.
It is Rose's turn to blush in embarrassment. "Why didn't you tell us? Now I look silly. I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to be rude, I was just running my mouth off without thinking again."
Chell does her best to smile. These people were strange, Rose and the mysterious Doctor, them and their bluer than blue box. But Chell had seen enough miracles and curses of science to understand that sometimes it was better not to know.
And judging by the strange undercurrent of sadness in the Doctors' eyes as he looked over them, no matter how large his smiles may be, she knew that it was unlikely that anyone, even Rose, would ever truly understand him.
Still, he had brought back the one person, thing, core, who would ever really get her.
And for that she was eternally thankful to the Doctor.
With a cry of 'I just love happy endings!' and a few whispered word to Wheatley, along with a plea for her to not let the core get into any trouble, The Doctor and Rose board the TARDIS without them.
"What did you tell him Doctor?" She asks as he is readying the controls for their departure. He doesn't answer quickly, rather he takes his time adjusting the levels and buttons that would make them leap through time carefully.
When he does answer, it is in a strangely quiet tone that only puts Rose on edge. "Just that I have a feeling that we'll be meeting again someday."
Rose blinks not understanding. "I don't understand what that means." He says nothing. "Why would you say that? Doctor, what's going to happen to them? Why would he be seeing you again? We took him back so that he could be with Chell." Her voice holds an note of panic which implores the Doctor to answer.
"He's a machine Rose, she's a human. A human that has been exposed to who knows how many poisons in testing. A human that's going to-"
He stops speaking, but it doesn't matter. She knew what he meant, and it broke her heart.
"She's going to die before his batteries run out isn't she."
The Doctor says nothing.
"You said it yourself, the TARDIS charged his batteries! Wheatley is going to live forever while Chell -" She can't bring herself to say it either. "That's not fair It isn't fair, not to Chell and not to Wheatley."
"It's not fair! What is he going to do? He can't be by himself, it will drive him mad! He needs her, and she needs him!"
"Rose calm dow-"
"No! I will not calm down, You know as well as I do that leaving her will kill him, he loves her and she probably loves him in her own way and they're doomed because one is going to see the end of time and the other is-" A horrible epiphany washes over Rose and her face drains of color.
Now she understands why the Doctor didn't want to talk about it.
It hadn't been a coincidence that Wheatley had docked on to the TARDIS, not at all. The TARDIS had chosen him, picked him and charged him on purposes. She knew that Rose, or anyone really, couldn't stay with the Doctor forever. No human could.
So she picked someone, or something that would be able to. The TARDIS had picked Rose's replacement herself.
"I'm sorry Rose." he mutters. It is small and useless to say, and it does nothing to quell the queasiness in her gut. There is nothing that either of them can say that will unchange what is to come for Wheatley and Chell.
Or for them.
"I think I want to pop back home for a bit, see my mum if that's okay with you." Rose attempts a smile, but it is strained. The Doctor puts on his glasses and nods, before silently setting their course.
There is nothing else to be said.
"Now pay attention, this is going to be something really spectacular." Wheatley advices from her arms.
Sure enough, the wind picks up, and the whirling sound from earlier begins to echo through her bones again, making her giddy with an unknown feeling. It grows louder and louder and the TARDIS begins to flicker in an out of vision until with one last screech, the bluest blue box that anyone has ever seen vanishes completely.
She sighs deeply, suddenly very tired and very sad. She isn't sure why, she had spent all of twenty minutes with these people, but seeing them leave hurts her somehow.
"Don't worry luv, this happens whenever it leaves." Wheatley says in a quiet voice, as if he too knows what she is feeling.
Maybe he does.
"It's always sad when he leaves. He's a strange human, if he even is one that is. He has the ability to make you feel safe and warm and special when your around him." the former test subject is amazed that the so called moron had changed so much, yet somehow remained exactly the same.
She hugs the core tightly to her chest and hears the whirl of his processors and the hum of his components and it is all she can do not to cry.
It has been a long day.
Wheatley continues, looking at the place where the TARDIS had just been with a analytical eye, Chell rubs the side of his hull as she too gazes at the spot.
"But when he leaves, and he always has to leave, you feel empty, and lost. You feel alone. But it will pass, I promise. I may not be the Doctor, but you've got old Wheatley to keep you from being alone Chell. Always."
She has missed him; him and his bluer than blue optic, so like the TARDIS, but it is better. It is better because it was Wheatley and he is hers to listen to, to talk to in her limited way, to be there for her, to understand her.
Just like the Doctor had his TARDIS, Chell has Wheatley.
A mad man and his box.
A test subject and her would be tester.
And that is enough.