A/N: Mood whiplash

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Break

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They rarely quarrel, but when they do, it's ugly.

This time it's Chell's fault, and she knows it, and she doesn't try to shift the blame.

Not too much, at least.

She's being ridiculous and she knows it, but she still resents him sometimes. Resents him for what he did to her, for being so clueless, for being so affable and contrite and affectionate that she could not help but forgive him.

She forgave him, let him into her home, into her bed, her routine, and now he's so entangled in her life that there's no hope of extricating him anymore. She needs the company. She needs his company, and she does care about him.

Maybe she loves him.

She tucks her face into her knees, balling up tighter, leaning back against the outside wall until she can feel the splintering siding digging into her skin. It would be so much simpler to just hate him, because then she wouldn't care when she hurts him.

And she does, she know she does. She has days where the sound of his voice makes her panicky and all she can hear when he chatters innocuously about whatever he fancies is furious demands and vicious jeers, and so she ignores him completely until the words come slower, more hesitantly, and finally stop.

She has days, like today, when she can't stand for him to touch her, and she shoves him away, and today he finally called her out on it.

He rarely yells, but when he does it brings sour memories right back to the surface and all she wants is to either hit him or run.

She wishes he was still in space, that he was still a core, that he'd attached himself to someone other than her, that she wasn't saddled with the responsibility of him or his feelings for her.

She wishes she were a better person for his sake.

She doesn't move when he comes to sit beside her, but when he puts his arms around her muscles seize up and she suddenly feels ill. There are several moments of tense silence. When he murmurs the meek apology that she should be offering him she breaks like glass and starts to sob, and it's hours before he can calm her down.