Painting and music. Painting, music, movement. Days of this routine set Chell in a sense of comfortability. Now, Rattman had taken an old Aperture radio and was tweaking it with a screwdriver. Chell watched, optic focused on his hands and the radio. Rattman looked up and smiled at her.

"Trying to get it to play a song I want you to hear."

Chell made something of a smile with her optic and watched for a half hour. Then, she played the song she'd heard before he started tinkering with the thing. It was loud, upbeat, and something that seemed instinctively familiar to her. Rattman smiled and laughed as he heard her 'sing'.

"You're quite the character, you know."

Chell stopped the song in the middle and then restarted it, loudening the volume higher... higher, higher, higher. Eventually Rattman stopped and covered his ears.

"Keep it down. He needs his ears."

"She doesn't mean it."

Kind or not, he winced when Chell's volume raised even more and when Chell's optic looked at Rattman once again and saw his face, she cut the music off altogether. Rattman smiled.

"It's okay. I just didn't want it that loud."

She watched him work for a while longer before starting to play the music again, raising the volume until Rattman started to wince and then lowering it again and watching his face relax. He tinkered and tinkered away at the radio and then, finally, he stopped and looked up at her with a smile. Music started playing from the radio again and Chell cut off her own music to listen to it. Rattman screwed the back of the radio into place again before putting it down once more.

"There. Listen to this."

"Exile, it takes your mind again."

Rattman smiled as Chell watched. "This is my favorite song. It's beautiful."

"Exile, it takes your mind again."

Rattman sighed, seeming at peace with the song and his head nodded slightly. Chell watched him.

"You've got suckers luck. Have you given up?"

Chell focused back on the radio and the repetitive lyrics. This song was different from the other two. This one had speech and talking, yet it had the same melodic quality to it.

"Does it feel like a trial? Does it trouble your mind the way you trouble mine?"

Rattman shifted and Chell thought he was going to stand up and paint on the walls, but he crawled over to her instead, pressing against her side and wrapping an arm around her. Chell felt warmth and her optic curved into a smile again.

"I feel for it, the song. The lyrics speak to me. It's how I feel a lot of the time."

They listened to the rest of the song and then it stopped and started over again. That's when Rattman stood up and started painting. Chell listened and watched as always.

"Exile, it takes your mind again. Exile, it takes your mind again."

He painted the girl in the orange jumpsuit with brown hair, wide gray eyes and a determined expression sitting on a companion cube. His paint brush worked back and forth, back and forth.

"Oh you meant so much. Have you given up?"

When she looked closer, she could see liquid slipping from his eyes down his cheeks, tears.

"Does it feel like a trial? Does it trouble your mind the way you trouble mine?"

He wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his jacket, creating a slight orange smudge on his cheek.

"Does it feel like a trial? Are you thinking too fast? You're like marbles on glass."

Inside the cube was a gray, human baby with it's hands on the surface of the inside of the cube, looking through a window where the heart should be.

"Vilify. Don't even try. Vilify. Don't even try."

The song went on, repeating itself in a soothing melody. Chell felt warmth within her as she listened to the song, playing her own favorite song out of the two she heard, the turret one, over it. The sensation created an odd clashing sound. When it ended, she listened to the other song some more before joining in again, increasing the volume and getting louder, almost overpowering it. Rattman stopped painting to look back at her and glared, but Chell paid him no attention as she continued to play her own song.

"Well, I suppose we all have our own favorites."

He raised the volume on the radio before going back to painting. Chell raised her own volume and continued her strange smile as the warmth from deep within emitted from her. Chell looked over at the other cube and raised her volume a little more, staring at it. Softly, the other cube started playing it's own tune. Chell froze, stopping her own song to listen to a whole playthrough of the new song before starting her own again, adding to the tune of the one from the radio. It created a large, loud mess of songs that was somehow still unique and beautiful.

"It's chaos. Can't concentrate on a damn thing. Like the voices in my head, only with music," Rattman grumbled.

They all continued playing as Rattman painted until he finished and started eating, facing the two cubes. Rattman's cube stopped playing music when he started eating.

"You should wipe your hands first or you'll ingest the paint."

Rattman rolled his eyes before continuing to eat.

"She's like my mother," he said to Chell.

He did pause though if only to turn off the radio, leaving Chell the only one playing music. Rattman watched her before tapping her front with his toe to get her attention. Chell stopped her music and looked at him.

"Why don't you try playing the song I played?" he asked.

Chell blinked at him and was silent. For a while, there was no sound but the wet dipping of Rattman's fingers in beans and the sound of him eating them. No words from either Rattman or cube and no music. Then, Rattman's cube started playing it's song and Chell listened properly this time, staring at the other cube as it played the music. When it finished, Chell played her own, much shorter song. Then the cube played it's song. Then Chell played her own song again. When the cube played it's song a third time, Chell was silent for a long time before starting to play the song the cube had played. The cube joined in halfway and they played together.

"Hey," Rattman complained, "Why sing that one and not mine?"

"Maybe she doesn't like your song."

"Why not? It's a good song!"

He paused and watched Chell, looking slightly jealous. Chell looked back at Rattman, but didn't stop playing. Then, Rattman's face relaxed and he looked apologetic.

"Oh, you can't. Singing words is too difficult."

Chell looked back at the cube while they continued to play together.

"Well, you should keep trying. I just know you can do it if you try hard enough."

That night, he fell asleep with his body pressed between Chell and his cube, either arm resting on top both of them at his sides to Chell and the cube playing music to each other. They sung throughout the night, filling the room with music. When Chell was starting to look bored, Rattman's cube played a new song and Chell learned to copy that one.

The next day, Rattman woke up and stretched, eating some breakfast while lazily leaning against Chell, whom had finally stopped singing. When he was done, he smiled at his cube, giving it a hug before strapping it to his back. He put his cans on Chells surface and picked her up, traveling with her throughout Aperture. Then Chell and the cube began singing to each other again, this time singing two different songs at once and creating a disturbing, but still musical, sound. Due to the rather loud music, he didn't hear the two approaching robots until they were in sight.

He made a turn and froze, holding onto Chell tightly as he saw the strange looking creations that looked like they were made from a personality sphere and a turret. Their eyes fixed on Chell and the sphere punched his hands in the air, the sphere spinning around in it's body. The turret waved at Chell and Rattman looked at them and then down at Chell. Rattman felt the tendrils of paranoia sinking in. They were here to take away his modified cube!

"GET AWAY!" he shouted, getting angry and slightly delusional. "Minions of the evil Goddess. You can't have her! Find your own!"

They turned to each other and high-fived, making sounds at each other before running forward in enthusiasm.

"Stay back! I'm warning you!" Rattman warned, lips peeled back as he snarled.

They kept running towards him and he ran to a desk, slowly because of the added weight of Chell, and panted. With mad eyes, he glared at them and took a can off of Chell's top surface, chucking it at the sphere, hitting it in the eye. It stopped and covered it's eye before making angry noises and shaking it's fist at Rattman.

"THERE'S PLENTY MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM!"

"This is madness. Let it go. If they want her, let them take her. You can't win this fight."

"Shut up," Rattman said, causing the turret to pause, stopping it's running and looking at Rattman, putting a hand on it's head in confusion.

"Give them the cube and be done with it. Please."

"How can you say that? She's your friend too!"

The turret threw it's hands up in the air and made angry noises, thinking that no one said anything. At this point, the sphere had walked over to the turret and put a hand on it's hip. The turret turned to the sphere and pointed at Rattman.

"We've only known her for a short time and we have no other choice here. Let them have her."

"NEVER! She's mine. I won't let those evil things take her from me too."

The sphere shrugged and the turret shook it's head. Two cans were tossed at them by Rattman, hitting them both in the optic. They jerked back and looked at him in alarm.

"SCUM! GET AWAY FROM ME! Goblins, fiends! Tumors!"

They turned and ran for cover behind a desk. The turret ducked as a can flew over it's head, barely missing it's target and a radio hit the sphere so hard, it lost balance and fell over before crawling behind the desk for cover.

"DEMONS!"

Another can was chucked forward and it hit the desk.

"You're running out of cans. This can't go on for much longer."

"You're wrong!"

The sphere bravely pulled it's portal gun closer to it's chest and creeped forward, ignoring the turret's warnings and peeking out from behind the desk. A can hit it in the face and it lurched back before leaping out from behind the desk, taking the brunt of the last five can's before aiming it's gun and making a portal behind Rattman, another next to it, and running from one portal to the other. It ran out at Rattman, a determined look on it's face and Rattman, in an act of complete and utter stupidity, threw the only thing he had left at it, Chell.

The sphere was knocked back, but then it looked down at Chell and the turret had peeked over to see what was going on by this point. The sphere looked at Chell, Rattman, and then back at Chell before the turret gestured for him to hurry up already. The sphere ran from portal to portal and both machines started running away as fast as they could.

"HEY! GET BACK HERE! GIVE IT BACK!" Rattman yelled, letting out an angry cry as he gave chase.

Rattman ran as fast and as long as he could, but he was only a human and the robots were much faster. Eventually, he had to stop, panting as he clutched his knees in utter exhaustion.

"I'll get you back. I promise," he gasped.

"You're completely insane. You know that?"

"Just... Just stop. I... I can't lose her too. I can't."


Well, here's the next chapter. Hope you enjoy it.