Tenacity

You don't have to care about anything for now.
It is the last thought you elaborate, a moment before you slip and fall among the currents of unconsciousness. The glass is strong and safe around you – your cocoon in a spiral of walls, surrounding the vault with the fragments of your story. It is made of lost minds, of thoughts that never stop fighting; it shows graphs and arrows and cries of help, slices of cake, prisoner ladies alone with their tears. You have painted your mind on a roll of cold paper; it is all you, and her, will ever leave to this world. You have molten your lives in the same chemical reaction, confounded the formulas in your DNAs.
You and her, in fact, are exactly the same. Well, to be honest, Chell is sleeping while you are only trying to; it is impossible, though, in your eyes. The lights are blinding and the colours are fading from your senses, leaving you with the pulse of your dying heartbeat. All you can feel is the fresh pain in your leg, the waves of a red river, the quiet cries of your only friend.
You may lose consciousness soon, but you know it won't be over. She has to face her enemy once more, and it all cannot end with you, nor without you. You will just be there, between past and future.
The images form over your eyelids, large and clear. Memories of gold on your freezing fingers, slowly chanting the sleep into your ears.
You stood, hungry, tired, and listened – after months, something was moving, and it was her. You could barely believe your eyes. It was true. The spheres few and the acid smokes rose, but the idle test chambers shook under her steps.
You know new light will break through the ceilings, while her vibrating screams will pierce the air again. It cannot end otherwise; Chell was strong, is strong. There is no doubt she'll make it.
A flash of pain. The cryo-chamber is not working properly; when your heart beats on the rhythm of these visions, you are just half-asleep and twitch and grind your teeth in pain. But there's no use clinging to the freezing blood you have left. What for?
You think about the cold trapping your limbs. That must be how you feel like when it finally happens.
If you think about it, she may be your only reason to live on – but you, unlike most people, do not need a reason to. You won't let anything take your life, the only thing you really hold as yours. And she is just as determined; she would survive just for the sake of it, just to make death run and run after her, livid with anger.
Tenacity, they called it. Someone scribbled the word in her record – it was a bad thing, a problem to be forgotten. They put her to sleep forever. Now that she is flying through the test-chambers, their bones crumble and fall in the pits of acid. You laugh soundly.
No one could survive Aperture without tenacity.
In fact, as you remember well, you swore you would survive forever. You promised it to your whole facility, so many dying breaths ago, when the hopes of everyone dissolved in dust. You repeated it among the furious bites, after each tin of beans you left behind; you whispered it on the bottom of each waterless tank.
The promise went on in time, even beyond those borders painted in dried blood.
You are cold now. You don't breathe, and yet you see her. Did you keep your promise? Or is is true, that you are living in her eyes only?
She seems to look at you when she laughs. She is warm, alive, burning red. The dirt has no weight on her joy – the wheat is golden between her fingers, and the sunlight on her skin throws its rays in the depths where you lie. Her friend is there as well; it will always keep her company, as its brother did for you.
He, in fact, is still there at your feet; he resembles you, stubborn, tenacious, faithful. He will not leave your side. Souls like his, like yours, do never change.
Life has marched on, she has reached her goal – it is time to take care of yourself, without any worries about her. Stop the memories, the corpses, the glowing reds and painful whites, the terrified scribbles, the oceans of brownish grey.
You and Chell made the same choice then – you never gave up. And now, at least for you, it is time to claim what you deserved.
Silence comes to take you back home, within the peace you had lost. Your hands are in silent prayer on the shards of broken glass, the black stain wraps your leg in a precious shroud. Everything is quiet in you; but the subtle grin, that rebel shadow of curve in your ice-cold lips, will never accept to fade.
In the end, you are sure she is just like you. She is another lonely goddess, a twin soul; and there is nothing, nothing in the world, you wouldn't have given to see her smile once and for all.
She does at last – before letting her go, you choose to keep a bit of her for your own. A beam of golden sun will do for you.


A/N

I didn't mean to kill him, really ç_ç
Seriously, friends, I hope Doug is alive, as improbable as it can be. But if you read Lab Rat... well, it seems the most natural conclusion. Forgive me. ç_ç

Doug is the first Portal character I grew fond of - even without knowing who he was - and the first I wrote about, in my language. The writings in Portal charmed me more than anything else. You can say they are the first hint of something going wrong in there; they chill your bones, indeed. And I chose I would write the story of the people who had left them.
When I knew he was a character, I fell in love with him right away. I wanted to write more about him, and here it is - tenacity, strength.

Hello Doug, I hope we'll meet again. 3