The Faithful Companion
There is a man sitting in front of him.
"This weighted companion John will accompany you through the test chamber. Please take care of it," the cool mechanical voice of MORiARTY states.
Sherlock stares in disbelief. He has not seen another human being in all his time at the test center. He watches him carefully, unsure of what to do.
Another test. Another puzzle for me to solve in this blasted place, he thinks to himself.
Sherlock does not how he came to be at the testing center or his life before he woke in the preparation room. What little he knows, he knows from MORiARTY, who he does not trust.
The man has well kept short blonde hair. He sits with a straight back and neutral expression. Military, Sherlock thinks. He begins to wonder who the man is, and how he came here.
This John wears a grey sweater with designs similar to the cubes Sherlock saw previously, except this man has a pink heart in the circle on his chest, rather than the usual Aperture symbol.
What is his purpose? Why an actual human being? He wonders.
After a moment of staring, the man gives him a tentative, pleading smile, as if to reassure Sherlock, but does not speak or move from his position.
Is not mobile, Sherlock inducts. Therefore, he needs to carry the weighted companion, if he is to take it with him.
Sherlock points the portal gun at John, "I'm going to lift you," he states. John nods in understanding and gives him a grateful look.
A surprised expression flashes across the weighted companion's face as his body leaves the ground and floats in the empty air. The sensation is new to him.
"The symptoms most commonly produced by Enrichment Center testing are superstition and hallucinations. The Enrichment Center reminds you that the weighted companion John will never threaten to stab you and, in fact, cannot speak," MORiARTY announces in the same deadpan voice.
Sherlock raises an eyebrow. Hallucinate? He disregards the first part of the message. He will not hallucinate. It's the part about speaking that bothers him. Surely this John is capable of that. They can't have...
Sherlock decides to ask him. "Can you speak?"
His mouth opens and moves, but no sound comes out. He looks surprised and tries again.
Nothing. He continues to struggle, his had goes to his throat. Nothing.
His brows are screwed together in frustration and his face is turning red. He gives up and shakes his head.
Once able to talk, but no longer can. What has happened to him? Sherlock wonders.
He turns to the entrance of the next room, with John floating in front of him, still unsure of what to do.
"Am I just supposed to carry you through the test?" He asks.
"Do I need you?"
How helpful, he thinks sarcastically. Unaware of his own purpose.
The weighted companion is just as clueless as Sherlock.
Sherlock turns his attention to the test room before him. He climbs the steps to a narrow corridor. He continues through it, his view obstructed by John.
John glances around, a look of wonder on his face.
Suddenly, Sherlock hears a high buzzing noise approaching. Proton energy. He panics momentarily before he feels a jolt of impact. John cringes and reaches for his shoulder as he is struck.
"Are you alright?" Sherlock asks quickly.
John nods and waves his hand as if to say "I'm fine".
Is not seriously harmed by proton energy.
Maybe this companion John is useful.
"Good," he says out loud.
And so begins the companionship of Sherlock and the weighted companion John.
At first John is merely a necessary thing he must carry around. There to slow him down. The companion John does very little. He can sit on buttons, deflect proton energy, things any cube can do.
But why? Why do this? Why is he here? The question nags in the back of his brain. The answer could be the key to what's going on.
It is MORiARTY. He's doing this for a reason; trying to manipulate Sherlock somehow.
Sherlock continues through the maze of a test room, observing everything in moments. The puzzles are child's play. He can see the solutions in his head within seconds.
He carries the companion John with him. The situation feels awkward at first, though he would never admit it, so Sherlock tries to ignore him. But John keeps looking at him. He watches Sherlock's every action with curiosity and even admiration. His smiles are encouraging and friendly.
Sherlock does not understand why he does this, but it's distracting. And it bothers him for some reason. He's not used to being with someone at all times. He not used to being watched. He's not sure if he likes having John with him.
"Don't look at me like that," he snaps.
He regrets it as soon as he sees the hurt expression on John's face. John's smile instantly disappears and he mouths "Sorry."
I've hurt his feelings, he realizes, He likes me. The thought surprises him.
Sherlock does not think he's very likeable. He did not think anyone could cultivate positive feelings towards him.
"Sorry," he apologizes, "I've never been in a situation like this before."
John nods in agreement. He points to himself as if to say "Me too."
Sherlock finds himself sharing his frustration to his mute audience. He shares his experiences since waking in the test center. He explains his frustrations, suspicions. John listens carefully (though he doesn't have much of a choice) and nods sympathetically. They're in the same situation. Unknowing, unaware, unsure.
Sherlock realizes what he's doing and stops speaking midsentence.
He clears his throat.
"We better get a move on."
John does not know what has happened to him, or where he is, or what's going to happen. But he is grateful he has Sherlock. Or rather, Sherlock has him. If he had been left, under the dispenser, alone and helpless...
For some reason, he trusts Sherlock. He has no reason to, but he does. Sherlock makes him feel safe.
John does not like depending on someone else. But, he supposes that Sherlock depends on him too. They've both been thrown into this mess of unknown and both need each other to get out.
He suspects Sherlock has been in the testing center a long while. He is very closed and suspicious and slow to open up.
John worries. Will that happen to him?
Throughout the testing he finds himself glad he has John with him. He does very little, besides sitting on buttons and deflecting proton energy. But his presence is oddly... pleasant. Sherlock had not realized how lonely he is in the testing center. Even the presence of this silent companion is comforting.
At first he wonders if he is malfunctioning. More of his thoughts are focused on John and less on the puzzles before him. He realizes John is hindering him. But, he then realizes he does not care.
He did not think he would ever crave someone's company. He did not think he could become attached to anyone in such a short time. Let alone someone who had never spoken to him.
He finds himself thinking out loud. He does not know why. Maybe he does it for John's sake. He knows he cannot carry out a conversation, since he cannot speak, but he likes to think he is. It makes him feel like... he has a friend.
Is John my friend? he wonders, Is this what it's like to have a friend?
He decides that this must be what friendship is like, because he's never felt anything like it.
Sherlock quickly learns how to interpret John's expressions. It gets to a point where John may as well be able talk. Sherlock can almost hear what he would say.
Halfway through the room, MORiARTY makes an announcement, "The Enrichment Center reminds you that the Weighted Companion John cannot speak. In the event that the Weighted Companion John does speak, the Enrichment Center urges you to disregard its advice."
Sherlock cannot help but laugh. He glances at John and sees that he is grinning broadly.
"If you ever speak, then I'll know I've gone insane," Sherlock says jokingly. If I haven't gone insane already he adds to himself.
Sherlock avoids hurting John in any way. He is careful not to let him knock against the wall as he takes him room to room. Even though he knows John only feels a small amount of pain when he is struck by proton energy, Sherlock keeps him out of harm's way. There are times when he must use John as a deflector. He feels horrible when he does.
John always looks at him to say, "Its fine. You gotta do what you gotta do."
John feels he is overreacting. He is here for that purpose. He only has a few uses. Sherlock may as well use him.
But Sherlock can't stand the sight of burn marks on John's sweater. And though John tries to hide it, Sherlock always sees when he cringes in pain. It bothers him more than he thinks it should.
Sherlock knows his mental capacities are impaired. He knows he should not be so affected. He knows he is being a little ridiculous.
But then, isn't what having friend does?
Focus, he tells himself, Get through the test room.
He turns his attention back to the current puzzle.
"So, in order to open this door, I must create a portal that will send the proton energy in that direction. Then of course..." he trails off.
Through a gap in the wall he sees something. It's writing. He squints to see it better. Graffiti, eerily written on the walls. He can see drawings of weighted companions, warnings, lies.
Worry fills his stomach. Something is not right. Something is going to happen to John.
He suspects he is supposed to become attached to John. He suspects it's all a part of the test, a part of what MORiARTY has planned.
John is listening intently, nodding in agreement. He looks slightly concerned as Sherlock stops.
He raises an eyebrow as if to ask "Problem?"
Sherlock shakes his head to clear it.
"Sorry. As I was saying..."
They reach the end of test room 17.
"You did it! The weighted companion John certainly brought you good luck," MORiARTY states.
Sherlock and John share a look of victory. We've done it! Sherlock has not felt quite as successful before now.
"However," the mechanical voice continues, "it cannot accompany you for the rest of the test and must, unfortunately, be euthanized. Please escort your companion cube to the Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator."
The expression on Sherlock's face freezes and his eyes are distance. His heart freezes in his chest and his stomach seems to drop.
"No," he whispers.
John glances at him worriedly, his mouth pulled down to a frown. But Sherlock won't make eye contact with him.
This is what he's feared. He should have expected this.
A large round apparatus sits on the floor in front of them. The top opens up, revealing a deep fiery abyss.
What he's been told to do sinks in. His new friend. He must kill his friend.
He lets John down carefully and crosses his arms. There must be another way.
"No!" Sherlock cries. He throws his head back and stares defiantly at MORiARTY's security camera. "I won't do it!"
"Rest assured that an independent panel of ethicists has absolved the Enrichment Center, Aperture Science employees, and all test subjects for all moral responsibility for the companion John euthanizing process," MORiARTY reassures.
"I don't care about moral responsibility!" He snaps, insulted.
Something touches Sherlock's leg. He looks down and sees John gripping his leg. He's terrified. He crouches down and sits next to John, placing his hand on his shoulder, comforting him.
I will not incinerate you John, he says to himself.
John looks at Sherlock, with an expression of sadness. He knows what is coming, it is inevitable. And he has accepted his fate.
He is only a prop; a necessary tool for completing the task. And now Sherlock has no need of him.
Sherlock is frowning in determination, fighting back in any way he can.
"While it has been a faithful companion, your companion John cannot accompany you through the rest of the test. If it could talk - and the Enrichment Center takes this opportunity to remind you that it cannot - it would tell you to go on without it because it would rather die in a fire than become a burden to you."
Sherlock throws his arms around John and clutches him tightly.
"Is it true?" he asks. His voice is full emotion and his eyes glisten with tears.
John hesitates before nodding slowly. He smiles sadly.
"No," Sherlock protests weakly, hanging his head in despair. He cannot do this. He cannot murder his companion. John is the only person he cares for in the world. The only person he knows.
"Although the euthanizing process is remarkably painful, 8 out of 10 Aperture Science engineers believe that the companion John is most likely incapable of feeling much pain."
Sherlock lets out a sob. John touches his face with his hand. He looks up. John nods to say "It's alright."
"The companion John cannot continue through the testing. State and local statutory regulations prohibit it from simply remaining here, alone and companionless. You must euthanize it."
Sherlock swallows the lump in his throat. He must do this. He cannot sit here forever. He stands up shakily, points the portal gun at John, and lifts him over the incinerator. He holds him over the incinerator, unable to release him.
"I don't blame you," John mouths.
And then he falls to his death. Sherlock cries out and releases the breath he'd been holding. He turns away from the incinerator, grasping at his head.
"You euthanized your faithful companion John more quickly than any test subject on record. Congratulations," MORiARTY states gleefully.
Sherlock kneels on the floor sobbing.
AN: Did I really just write this?
Saw some awesome art last week and couldn't get this out of my head. You can thank y0do for the fanart (he's great you should check out his work).
Thanks for reading! Tell me what you think.