"You can stare at her until you drop dead from old age, and she'll never wake up."

"I know."

He sighed, his eyes wandering over her motionless form. It had only been a couple days since he'd given her to the liquid black of never ending sleep. He wished it hadn't come to that, wished he could wake her somehow. But that was impossible.

She was bound to the system now. The only way to wake her would be to hack deep into the program, and while he did have fair computer skills, he wasn't able to do so without risking her life again.

Silently, he crept closer. Despite the dismal situation they were both in, Doug was happy to finally see the woman close up. The way she lay there, barely breathing, part of him thought that perhaps she might wake if he just nudged her a bit. But no, that wasn't going to happen. He could pick her up and carry her from there, but to be separated from the relaxation vault in such a way, to have the connection broken so suddenly like that, he'd be carrying a living vegetable.

"You should leave. Get out while you can."

"I know."

He stood right next to the bed, close enough to touch her. He couldn't let her out. She would just lay there. Asleep. A dreamless sleep, at that. Forever. For all intents and purposes, she was dead. Or maybe a little worse than that. He wasn't sure.

But she had a chance.

That was why this long sleep was better than the other long sleep, because though it was small, there was a chance someone would come and wake her up.

She could live.

She could be free.

After everything he forced her to go through, she deserved that chance, however small it really was.

And what then, if she did wake up?

Would she be taken care of?

"You won't live to see her awaken. There is nothing you can do to help her."

"…."

Carefully, as if he might stir the sleeping girl, her slipped a leg onto the bed and lent down to hover over her. She looked so calm, peaceful….innocent. If he hadn't seen her files, known everything she'd done, he likely wouldn't have thought her capable of such a feat as destroying her.

"I'm sorry." he whispered, "I can't help you anymore than I already have….Chell."

His heart skipped as he spoke her name, the taste of it bittersweet on his tongue. She'd never hear his words, never know who he was. Never know how he ruined her life, nor how much he gave up to try and put it right again.

He leaned in just a little closer, just enough for his lips to graze over hers. It was wrong. He wasn't worthy to be in her presence, much less touch her without her knowledge or consent. But he couldn't help but indulge himself.

Just..

..this..

..once.

"Sleep well, my angel." he murmured soothingly to her, before he stood again and made his way back out of the room, pausing to pick up the cube he'd left on the floor. Instead of turning to go back up to the surface, however, he chose to travel deeper into the hell they named Aperture.

"What are you doing?"

"I want her to have something to wake up to, if she ever does."

"How do you know she'll see? Or even care?"

"I don't. I'm doing it anyway."

"Why?"

He didn't answer. He didn't want to. Because there was a part of him, a dark and selfish part, that hoped she'd see his paintings, and remember them. Know that they were for her, and her alone.

Even if he couldn't truly meet her, even if she'd never know his voice, his face, his name….

He wanted her to know, at least, that he'd existed.