A/N: currently working on the next chapter for Target Acquired.

In the meantime - drabbles! :)


Chell was warm, her breath uneven, her body curled tightly around the gently humming body of the core. Her shoulders heaved with a long, low sigh, as she fought to remind herself that the darkness of this room, the feel of cold metal and the sound of whistling wind were not a part of back there, but a part of her new, safe world.

It was hard to believe. Hard, when the only companion she had clicked and whirred when he moved, his honeycomb eye still broken from bad times. She knew that he had nightmares, too—sometimes at night, she heard him.

He'd whimper. It was a long, low sound of utter fear, and his accent would become a slippery, stuttering mess of panic, his eye a fully-constricted point of almost-white. Sometimes, she'd lean over the edge of her bed, seeking to comfort him, but other times, she would not.

She had not forgotten what he had done to her. Sometimes, the memories would wake her up at night, too. Nightmares always left her with a burning feeling in her throat, a watery, prickling feeling in her eyes. But Chell did not cry.

"Are you all right up there?" Wheatley's voice was quiet, almost slurred, as if he was half engaged in sleep mode. The vibrations it sent through his small frame echoed in her very heart, and she held him closer. "Bit late, and you must be feeling better by now, dear. Been holding onto me for nearly half an hour—you don't need to prove yourself again, luv, I know you've got an excellent grip. Very strong, an admirable quality, if you will, useful, considering I don't have hands—hey!"

He had revolved his faceplate up to gaze at her as he spoke, and his eye lit her shadowy face. Dark circles haunted her normally clear, crystal eyes, and they sparkled bright blue with a ring of tears.

"Luv, you're…" Wheatley had never seen Chell cry. He blinked twice, plink plink, shocked and confused. His constricted optic bounced around inside his hull, "Why are you all wet? Have you—oh god, you're leaking! You're leaking, luv, that's probably not a good sign, are you all right? Don't answer that. Of course you're not, and I haven't got any of the required physical resources to help you, I can't—"

"Wheatley."

Chell's voice was deep, barely audible over the core's panicked rambles, but the two syllables hung in the air between them heavily, and instantaneously Wheatley's eye relaxed back into a solid, sapphire glow.

"It's all right."

"What'd'you mean, it's all right? Of course it isn't, luv, you're—"

"Crying," Chell supplied, her voice strong.

"Oh."

Wheatley knew that crying was a perfectly normal, human bodily function, and even knew enough on the subject to know that humans often cried when they were under stress, afraid, or upset. He had simply been too panicked, too groggy, and too shocked by the sight of such a phenomena occurring in his favorite human to step back and remember that this was not the first time he'd ever seen a human cry.

The notion that his favorite human, dear Chell, must have been experiencing enough unpleasant feelings to create tears left him feeling oddly hollow, even with her magnificently warm humanness pressing in on all sides of him. He recalled the faces of the people he'd seen sobbing back when he'd ran the relaxation vault—twisted, ugly faces—and resigned to never let her face contort into such unpleasantness on his watch.

"It'll be all right, luv." But the words sounded hollow, even to him.

Chell gripped him tighter. In retaliation, Wheatley tucked his handles closer into his shell, and snuggled his faceplate down into her warmth. The repetitive beating of her heart was soothing and comforting, a lockstep rhythm matched only by the cycling of his internal drive.

"It's all right."

His words caused her to shift again, to raise her chin off from the top of his shell to peer down at him, her tears glistening azure against his optic light. She bit her button lip, a crease forming between her beautifully-shaped eyebrows, and Wheatley watched her diligently, as he always did. "I'll protect you, luv. You're safe and sound."

Chell let a sigh escape her as she smiled with a shaky chuckle, and breathed, low; contentedly. When she spoke, her voice was barely audible as more than a whimper.

"That's all I ever need." Chell pressed a light kiss to the side of his optic plate.