Doug went back to the University two days after the funeral. His whole world had been shattered, and he'd never felt anything like the heavy sickness in his heart. The previous day he'd been so distraught that he'd forgotten to take his medication. The result of his neglagence had been his collapsing on the hotel room floor in a nervous breakdown, his uncle having to pull him together.
So now he walked into Professor Lucia's lab and flicked on the lights. He'd already begun straightening out the shelves before he noticed the other figure in the room. "Wednesdays are your day off." He said flatly.
Cassy stood up. "I know. I wanted to talk to you."
"Why?" Doug's gaze was filled with apologetic compassion. "You're not stupid. You read it." She nodded sadly. "I know you want to leave, to run away."
"Don't give me that. You're afraid of me, aren't you? You know I could lose myself at any moment."
"Cassy, listen to me. You need to get away from me. It kills me to say that, but it needs to be said. I'm saying it for you. I know it doesn't seem like it, but you have to believe me that-"
"Douglas Rattmann!" The way she said his name, the way she cut him off from his distressed thoughts, it reminded him of his mother. He fell silent and allowed her to continue. "When I read it, I... felt something. I felt all the pain you've been through, and it was terrible. When I was in Sweden, I learned a phrase that I've been wanting to call you since the day I heard it. Doug Rattmann, you are min kärlek, and I never want to leave you again. Min kärlek means 'my love'. I love you. I love you and I need you with me and I'm not letting your stupid schizophrenia take you away from me!"
Doug couldn't speak. He could only walk toward the woman he'd loved his entire life. All the years apart had not softened the feelings. It had only made them stronger in this moment. This glorious moment neither wanted to end. When he managed to make his voice work, the words were all that was in his heart. "Don't let it. Even if it takes me away from myself, don't let it separate us. Promise me."
"So, what are your plans after you graduate?" Cassy asked as she pulled on her blouse.
Doug watched her from his rumpled bed. "My uncle promised me a job at his lab."
"Have I heard of it?"
"Maybe. Aperture Science Innovations?"
Cassy dropped everything and turned toward him. Cave Johnson is your uncle?" Doug nodded. "Well, that explains it!"
She leaned over the bed and kissed him for a long moment. "How incredibly smart you are." He caressed her, and she followed suit, the two of them almost getting carried away. "I have to go. I told my roommate I'm helping set up for Professor Lucia's new experiment."
Doug got up and kissed her goodbye. "See you tomorrow, then?"
She traced the details of his bare chest with her hands. "I wouldn't have it any other way." She pulled his head to her lips and whispered "Min kärlek". When she was gone, Doug got dressed for sleep. But first, he stood by his window and looked up at the midnight sky above. I wish you could have met her, mom. She's all I've ever wanted.
The relationship continued going strong for a few months after the affair. Doug was wandering around the campus three weeks prior to his graduation when he head Cassy yell his name. When he turned, her eyes exerted an alarming radiating of fear. He would never forget that sight. "Doug, I need to tell you something."
Cave sat at his desk reviewing lab reports when he heard a knock at his door. "Who is it?"
The voice that responded surprised him. "I- it's Doug. I- I called before I came. Greg said he'd tell you."
Though he'd never been informed of any call, Cave told him to come in. The blank yet astonished look on his nephew's face caused him to stand up to address him. "Doug, what's wrong?"
His expression didn't change. "You know that girl I've been seeing?"
"Yeah. Cassy, was it? Why, is something wrong? Is she alri-" Cave suddenly understood. "Is she... Doug, is Cassy pregnant?" Doug nodded slowly as he began to break. Cave took him in his arms and tried to stop him from crying. "Just hang in there. It'll be okay."
"I know." He said between sobs. "I'm just... I'm so happy."
The thunderous applause was a new experience for Doug. He exited the stage and was soon met up with by Cave. "Hey, Doctor Rattmann!" He gave him a congratulatory hug. "You still interested in that job?"
"Of course." He responded. "I need to take care of my family." The words sounded strange coming from his mouth. My family. I'm going to be a father.
"Doug!" Cassy ran over to them and hugged him, congratulating him with a kiss.
After introductions, Doug took Cassy's hand. "Let's skip the graduation party. There's something I need to do." Cave gave him a knowing nod and left them. Doug led her to his car and began driving. About half-way to their destination, he pulled over and told her to put on a blindfold. "Trust me." He assured her. They eventually arrived, and Doug cut the engine. He opened the passenger door and helped Cassy out, and once they were in place, he told her to take off the fabric from her eyes.
She did, and muttered an astonished "Wow..." to no one in particular. They stood on a small stone bridge in a wooded area in their hometown. It stood above a small stream, which reflected the scene above it.
"This place..." Said Doug, feeling his pocket to make sure its contents were still there. "This is the place I looked at you for the first time. My mother had sent me to the store, and I had to go by this way. I heard a voice, a girl singing, and I saw you sitting right here on this ledge. I don't think you saw me, because I hid. But I couldn't stop watching you, listening to your sweet voice. There I was, nothing more than a child, taken away from everything I'd ever known by a girl I knew nothing about. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. And now that we're having this baby, this is the perfect time to ask." He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small velvet box as he knelt down before the woman who looked as if she were about to cry. "Cassandra Dasley, Cassy, I would be honored if you would marry me."
She seemed almost to freeze, having not seen this coming. The seconds seemed to go on forever, and for a moment, he almost expected denial. It wasn't until she spoke that he knew for sure what her answer was. "Doug... Min kärlek..." He placed the ring on her finger, and they kissed in all of their love and passion.
Doug glanced over to the calender on the desk of his lab and counted the days. Just two more months. Two months before he was a married man. And in about three weeks, a father. He smiled to himself and thought about how things would change. Cassy and the child would move in with him at Aperture, and when he would get off his shift, he would be greeted by the smiling child and his wife, whom he would have had to pull himself away from that morning with all of his strength. And when the child was finally asleep-
His thoughts were cut short by the ringing of the desk phone. "Aperture Science Innovations. Dr. Rattmann speaking."
"Doug! Doug, min kärlek, you need to come!" Cassy said from the other side of the line. Her voice was filled with excitement and slight but growing pain. "Doug, it's time!"
It took a moment for Doug's mind to comprehend what she'd said. Time? Right now? But there was still three weeks until the due date. "I- I'll be right there!" He hung up the phone and began bolting through the halls, stopping only at the sight of his uncle's assistant. "Greg! Tell Mr. Johnson that my fiancée is in labor right now and I have to go!"
"I will. And congratulations!"
Doug thanked him, and as he resumed his mad dash for the exit, he yelled back one last thing. "Make sure you do!"
So when Cave was sitting in his office and Greg ran in, he was somewhat confused. "What's the rush?" He asked.
The man was breathing heavily from running from one side of the facility to the other. "About... fourty-five... minutes ago... Dr. Rattmann... wanted me to tell you... that his fiancée... is having her baby..."
"Well why the hell didn't you tell me fourty-five minutes ago?" Greg apologized as Cave stood up in a hurry. "I swear, one more slip-up like this and I'll find a woman that can do your job twice as well!"
Doug burst into the hospital room. Cassy was laying on the bed, and as much as she wanted to greet him, the agony of childbirth was too great. He ran over to her and took her hand, whispering to her all the while. "You're doing great. Just hold on. There you go, just like that. I love you." The whole time, nurses and doctors rushed around the room, yelling conditions and ordering procedures. Doug didn't really start listening to them until they began sounding frantic.
"Her heart rate's rising!"
"Blood pressure's at 147/83!"
A nurse took Doug's arm. "Sir, I'm sorry, you have to come with me."
"What? No! I- I can't!"
"Stay with us, ma'am!"
"We're losing her!"
Doug called out Cassy's name as two nurses had to escort him into the waiting room. He was sitting in one of the chairs when he heard someone address him. "Doug! I'm sorry I'm late! Greg can't do anything around there! Where's Cassy? Don't they let you in the room with her?" When Cave saw the hopeless look on his face, he understood that something was very wrong. He didn't know what until one of the nurses that had been in the room entered.
Doug jumped up, his desperate heart begging for her well-being. "Dr. Rattmann... I'm sorry." All at once, his whole world fell apart. My Cassy... My little Cassandra... How could this happen...? His entire life had been spent dreaming of her, wanting nothing more than for her to love him as much as he loved her. And what had it come to? More loss, grieving, and pain. That was all he ever got in life, all he deserved. Cave embraced him, Doug not caring how weak he looked. He was weak. No... She can't be gone. Why am I such a failure? What's the point in living anymore? "Dr. Rattmann?" Doug looked up at the nurse through his tears. "The baby. Would you like to see her?"
He and Cave followed the woman, their hearts heavy. Cave couldn't shake the sorrow he felt for his nephew. First the death of his father, his diagnosis and the struggles it brought, the loss of his mother, and now the only woman he'd ever loved. His whole life was down the drain. The thought of his own family was surely the only thing keeping him together. With his sanity already decaying, how would he go on after this?
The walk seemed to last an eternity. The tears still slid down Doug's face; tears he'd wanted to cry many times before. Since the day he was born.
Those eyes. Strange, yet captivating. Almost magical...
There is no magic. He thought. It's all in your head. I don't deserve a wife, or a child, even the precious gift of life. This is how it's been- how it will be- all of my life. I'm a disgrace. I can't do this. Not alone.
She'd rather be dead than be with you...
He didn't bother pushing the voices away. I'll never be able to look at myself the same way again. I don't want to be in this world if this is how it's going to go.
"Dr. Rattmann," The nurse held a bundle of pink blankets. "Your daughter."
"My... my daughter..." He whispered to himself, trying the words for himself. The nurse began to hand him the girl. "C- could I sit down first?" She nodded and he did. He took the infant in his arms ever so gently. She had his brilliant blue eyes, and, thought there wasn't much to speak of, his onyx hair.
"Did you two come up with a name?" Cave asked, looking over his shoulder.
Doug nodded. "Breanna." He looked into the pure, innocent face of the newborn. Why do I continue living? This is why. She needs me. And I need her. My entire purpose in life is laying in my arms. She's perfect. And I'll be perfect. For her. I'll make sure that her life will be better than mine. He managed to quiet the noises in his head. Screaming insults, a dull roar, then silence. He took advantage of this moment of peace to whisper to the tiny child. "It's okay now. Daddy's here. It'll be okay, min kärlek..."
Doug opened his eyes before the dream could continue. He was glad, relieved, for the rest was too painful, even more so than anything else. He'd been awakened by the sound of his name being called. He looked over to his companion cube. "Someone's coming down the elevator!" He grabbed the cube and scrambled to a hiding place before the cameras and turrets could activate.
The lights in the test chamber flickered on, and Doug saw the figure of a woman entering. Can she truly be awake after all this time? The woman had dark hair and, though Doug couldn't see them, he knew her eyes were blue-grey. Uncle Johnson's eyes... He'd prepared for this moment, painting on the walls to help her, even opening a panel to let her into one of his dens, to tell her she wasn't alone. But he wouldn't reveal himself. Not yet. He wouldn't distract her with the desire to keep him safe. All he could do now was wait.