So, I did a thing and submitted CDaSH to a fanfiction contest on Sweek. I'm trying to dive back into writing, and also do some signal boosting for myself while I'm at it. (I have an original story I've been hacking away at for a number of years, so I figure the more readers, the better. Or something.)
Anyway, if you feel so inclined, voting opens on August 27, 2018 and closes on September 16, 2018. It looks like you do actually have to sign up and join in order to vote, which is annoying, but it doesn't take that long. I'll post the links in my FF bio for where the fic is located on Sweek, and also the voting page. Go vote! Tell your friends!
As a thank you for taking the time to read this (and maaaaybe taking the time to vote?), here's a little one-shot for you…
The flat was small and unassuming. The name "Narbacular" had been tidily written on the mailbox. Inside was one bed, one bath, and a small kitchen off to the side of the equally small living area. No pictures on the walls, aside from a large, metal circle with a battered pink heart embossed in the center, which hung in the entryway.
But it was home.
Initially, for appearances' sake, or perhaps deference to rules and traditions that they only vaguely remembered, they had started out sharing a room with two beds. But both were prone to nightmares, and one day when Chell had returned from the library (she was stubbornly trying to gather as much information as she could about Aperture, and Wheatley gave a silent cheer every time she reached another dead end in her research) – she came home to find that he had pushed the beds together.
"Just seemed like the right thing to do," he explained as she came to stand beside him in the doorway of their room. "Saves us from having to run back and forth in the middle of the night. Also, I got tired of tripping over that bloody rug."
Chell smiled and gave him a sly nudge with her elbow. "Then why not just get rid of the rug?"
Wheatley flushed and hastily yanked off his glasses to polish them.
"Ummm. Because I'm, uh, I'm quite fond of it? I mean, it's got a lovely…pattern…"
His babbling continued until Chell tipped up onto her toes and kissed him on the cheek.
"I like it," she told him, and smiled the small smile that always made his heart drop out of his chest and melt into a puddle of conversion gel.
That bed was straight where Wheatley headed one blustery afternoon in March. He let himself into the flat, placing his keys on the hook, and leaving his sneakers in a heap on the floor by the door. They landed alongside two pairs of Long-Fall Boots, which he and Chell had never quite gotten around to putting up, and sat collecting dust and cobwebs. (Wheatley was fairly certain a mouse had moved into one of the boots, but he sure as hell was not about to bring it to Chell's attention, because the mouse would have been evicted on the spot, and possibly Wheatley as well for having concealed its presence to start with.) He hurried past the kitchen and halted at the threshold of their bedroom.
(Their bedroom. Nice ring to it, that.)
The room was dim, and a familiar, wonderful form was curled up beneath the blue blanket on the bed, taking a nap.
He knelt down by the side of the bed and watched her for a few moments, and then whispered, "Hey. Chell-bell?"
She stirred and then sighed. Sleepy grey eyes greeted him a moment later, followed by That Smile.
"Hi," Wheatley said happily, watching her.
Chell was his world. As far as he was concerned, the sun rose and set on Chell, and it was the most exhilarating feeling in the world to know she felt the same way -except when he was subletting their boots to mice, of course.
(He really, really needed to find that mouse a new shoe.)
"Hey," she yawned. She reached out a hand and gave his scruffy, wind-reddened cheek an affectionate caress, then frowned. "Wheatley, you're freezing. What've you been up to?"
He grinned and clambered into bed beside her and snuggled close, grateful for the warmth under the covers. In his opinion, "Spring in Upper Michigan" was an oxymoron.
"So, I was thinking," he began, "and I know a lot of times that's dangerous. Me, thinking. Just leads to a lot of trouble, and also, um, destruction? But, I thought this was a really, really good idea, so I just kind of went with it."
Chell was more awake now, and not a little alarmed. The last time Wheatley had had a "really, really good idea," she ended up having to explain to their landlord why the microwave had been superglued to the ceiling. ("I was trying to save counter space!" Wheatley had protested.)
"Okay…" She waited for him to continue.
Wheatley was still wearing his jacket under the blankets, and he reached inside the front pocket and pulled out a small package, a wrapped, flat square that was a little larger than his hand.
"We're gonna be eating ramen for the next two weeks, but I think it's worth it," he explained as he handed it to her. He leaned back against the headboard, stretching his legs out, and said, "Open it!"
Chell looked down at the package, wary. It appeared innocuous enough - wrapped in brown paper, To Chell, From Wheatley scribbled across the front in black Sharpie. Curious, she slipped her thumb under one of the taped flaps and began to tear away the paper.
Inside was a book - a board book, intended for very young children.
She tore off more of the paper to reveal the title, and then her breath caught in her throat.
Chell's eyes flooded with tears. This had been her favorite book as a child, and she had not seen a copy of it since before The Event.
She looked up at Wheatley in amazement. "How –"
"Used bookshop," he explained, smiling as Chell began to page through the book with trembling fingers. "I remembered you always reading it in the corner at school. Took me months to track it down. And," he added, "I really don't want to tell you this, but you, Miss-Clever-Like-a-Fox, would catch it anyway…"
He reached over and opened the interior flap of the book, which revealed the date of publication, and the publisher's name and address – Aperture Press, Cleveland, Ohio.
"Cleveland?" Chell turned to look at Wheatley in confusion. "But the facility is here, in Michigan."
He shrugged out of his coat and tossed to to the foot of the bed. "Satellite office, maybe?" he suggested, lying back down beside her. "More of my memories are coming back, and I don't remember anything about Cleveland. Still, though, it's a lead."
Chell gazed down at the book for a few moments. Then she gave Wheatley a sidelong glance.
"I thought you didn't want me following up on any leads."
He burst into laughter and rolled onto his side, propping his head up on one hand to gaze up at her.
"Well, no," he agreed, "and that's the whole point, innit? I'd rather not go back and have round two with Señora Psychopath. Round one was more than enough, thank you. But," he smiled, sounding upbeat as ever as he finished, "since when do you ever do what I want?"
Chell's eyes took on a mischievous gleam, and Wheatley gulped, remembering their midnight activities two days previous.
"I mean," he sputtered, "since when do you ever do what I want other than that." He paused, his eyes growing hopeful. "Er, wait. Are you saying you want to do that again? Or that you want me to want to do that again -"
Chell reached up and neatly plucked his glasses off his face.
He just looked at her, wide-eyed. "I'm talking too much again, aren't I?"
"Yes," she said, and then she kissed him.