A slightly rearranged composition of a picture I posted on tumblr for a tumblr user called swans. Since she changes her name fairly often, she gave me permission to post the text of her fic here:
"Ridiculous Portal fan fiction I decided to write quite randomly and now regret but not enough to not release it to the public"
Sometimes her coworkers took over her shift when they got tired of how she treated the customers. She winced at the displeased, irritated looks she garnered as she took the walk of shame to the corner seat in the café, but she always got over it relatively fast.
She hated working in this place. She wasn’t a huge fan of dealing with people in general, and when the particular location of the café happened to be on the quickest route to the business district, thus making the “regulars” busy, short-tempered lawyers, she learned quickly of her distaste for human company. She was proud, but not so much she didn’t admit she had an ego – that is, she knew she was perfectly capable of extraordinary things, and the fact these high-and-mighty people thought she was only there as a vessel for their morning coffee aggravated said ego. She hated the way they spoke to her. Which made her especially glad for the afternoon, when the “regulars” had finally dissipated and they were left with strangers and parents without children accompanying them. She smiled as these people when they came to the counter. She still didn’t talk, but that was just her being the way she was.
She’d gone so long without talking, she simply couldn’t find a suitable reason to do so now.
Today, being Monday, meant that the usual lunch break crowd would be arriving any minute now. A certain group always came on Mondays – a sparse collection of talkative, opinionated males – and spent a good hour sitting and eating as if the modest café were a mom-and-pop diner. Around now, Pauline, the gawky, middle-aged woman who worked the afternoon shift, would politely excuse Chell for her lunch break. In reality, Pauline knew how Chell disliked rude people and was also well aware of how Chell treated rude people.
Chell nodded her thanks and left the counter, picking up her lunch from the employees’ fridge in the break room before she took a seat at one of the front tables. She did so without really thinking; for the first time in a while, she was literally lost in thought. It was one of those dreamy, vague days where nothing could really settle on anything in particular. The weather, actually, seemed to be a good representation of her mood. The sky was just as it was after a good, spring rain – thick, billowing clouds, dark, low-lying ones, and brilliant blue patches of sky that peeked out in the gaps of the dissipating storm. A slight wind tugged at the shrubbery lining the front of the café, and across the street Chell could see two women, their blonde hair waving like banners in the breeze. Taking a bite of her apple, Chell thought to herself about the coming fray, which was inevitably arriving, judging by the state of unrest outside.
Her chewing slowed, and she swallowed with slight difficulty.
Not that storms bothered her. She just didn’t like storms when she was, well, alone.
With a slight, bitter smile playing at her lips, Chell reflected on how she’d never really been alone. Like it or not, she’d always had a companion – even if, first time around, that “companion” had been a homicidal robot bent on her slow and eventual death. And the second time around…
Now there was a subject she hadn’t reflected on, not since she’d finally emerged from the wheat fields and thought back on someone she’d known with a similar name. As she recalled, that moment was when she vowed to forget.
You can’t be mad – hurt – when the thing that inflicted that emotion doesn’t exist.
Her apple lying forgotten in her palm as she rested her arm on the cold table, Chell leaned against the window, pressing her forehead to the chilled glass. Her mind rebooted, already establishing the false, yet painless, fact that Aperture didn’t exist. She hated that place, and all that it stood for. She hated Cave Johnson, she hated GLaDOS, she hated Caroline, she hated –
Chell literally tore a chunk out of the apple and munched loudly, as if that would purge the thoughts from her head. She hated Aperture, but she hadn’t hated Wheatley. Good people don’t go bad suddenly; it takes major influence, and if you’re a simple robot suddenly in a god-like position, you were likely to go corrupt. She always felt that twinge of guilt in her stomach when she remembered that she’d let him go, but it wasn’t strong enough to really inspire something in her. It helped if she thought of putting him in space as a way to save him. Yes, she’d saved him by kicking him from his throne. And that was it.
That’s all. Now stop thinking about it, her mind commanded.
Chell put her apple down and stared at it.
In the corner of her eye, she caught movement, quickly registering it as a customer approaching the entrance. Glancing up, Chell noted that Pauline had disappeared from the counter; in fact, she couldn’t spot her anywhere. Which meant she was probably in the back, smoking again –
The bell at the door rang, loud and harsh.
Now slightly irritated at the interruption from her brief personal moment, Chell jumped to her feet and rushed to the counter, brushing her sticky hands on her green apron as she went. One of these days, she was going to hide Pauline’s pack of cigarettes. Very rarely did she breach that mental wall of “nothing to see here” and get to think about her past.
Whatever. Nothing to think about now. Only the future. Only tomorrow. Never yesterday.
Aha. There was that mantra. “Only tomorrow, never yesterday”. The mortar that held the bricks together in that mental wall.
Chell beat the customer to the counter and was already prepared to take his order by the time he got there. She looked at him, noticed how clumsily he’d clothed himself, and offered fake, ready-to-be-torn-down smile. He didn’t meet her eyes though. Instead, he stared intently at a slip of paper, the scrap held within inches of his square-framed glasses. He had his eyes narrowed as he scrutinized it. Chell found herself mirroring his facial expression, one of extreme concentration. She was about to open her mouth to say something, when he finally looked up.
Eyes suddenly wide, the man waved the scrap of paper. “Uh, this is a coupon,” he said hesitantly. “I can’t really read what it says, though, I think it has something to do with fruit…” He trailed off and looked at her expectantly, as if waiting for her to read his mind.
Chell’s eyes widened. Her eyebrows rose slowly, cautiously. Her lips parted briefly, almost as though to speak, but she thought better of it and just took the paper quickly to avoid any attention. But she caught the expression on his face – mouth open slightly, eyes wider than before, clearly both shocked and horrified – and all she could do was attempt to hide her face behind the paper.
She opened her mouth. “This is a ticket for ‘buy one, get one, free’ offer on strawberry frappucinos,” she said abruptly, the words spilling from her mouth. “…Did you…want to buy a, um, frappucino?”
Part of her brain (the rational, clearly unfogged side of her brain) scolded her for being so moronic. She needed to get her usual, stubborn self back into gear.
“Would you like to buy a frappucino and use this coupon, or do you want a single order?” she repeated, this time with authority and a noticeable, determined note in her voice. She still held the scrap of paper in her hands. He’s no one. That accent doesn’t mean anything. Thousands of people had that accent… right?
The man stumbled into his words with obvious difficulty. “Um. Sure?”
She turned around suddenly and set to preparing the drink, pointedly ignoring the man, who was clearly trying to figure out a way he could escape without being horribly conspicuous. Chell was so preoccupied with her own emotions, anger and frustration curling and twisting like a pit of angry snakes in her stomach, that the whipped crème spilled out of the top of the dome cap of the container. Mentally shrieking obscenities, Chell quickly cleaned up and produced a somewhat presentable frappucino to Wheat- this man.
“Three dollars,” she said stonily.
The man, clearly aware of her barely-concealed anger, flinched away. “…I don’t have any money,” he admitted.
“I’m – I’m sorry? What?”
“Get out!” she suddenly yelled, the anger boiling over, the pain tucked neatly underneath. Wheatley jumped away; the other customers glanced up from their conversations and laptops. Pauline suddenly appeared at her side, presumably having finished her smoke. But Chell barely noticed her.
Here was that thing that had betrayed her right before her eyes, obviously not spherical and made of metal, and no glowing blue optic. Noticeably human, of all things. She was so enraged by his nerve that she found herself removing her apron and running out the back door into the alley between buildings.
“Chell! Where you going, girl?” shouted Pauline after her. The former test subject paid her no heed and actually sped up, knowing that the moron would be running after her.
“Wait! Wait! Chell, please, stop-!” yelled Wheatley, his voice echoing down the alley. She glanced over her shoulder and saw him standing in the threshold, one hand held out as if to kinetically stop her.
She kept running.
She cleared the alley and turned left, running down the sidewalk, darting through the throngs of people that hustled through the busy section of the city. Momentarily, Chell realized how good it felt to be actually running again, stretching out her legs. She glimpsed herself running in the shop windows as she passed them.
Then just as quickly, she was aware of Wheatley behind her.
“Oh! Excuse me, sorry – oh fine, pardon you – sorry!”
Chell came to an intersection, at the exact moment a group of people surged across the crosswalk. She stumbled through them, hurrying for the other side. If she could just make it to her car – goddamn that parking structure for being so far – she’d be fine. She could –
His voice was too close.
Chell whipped around and saw Wheatley attempting to breach the crowd, but by the time he did – like a fish swimming upstream – the crossing lights were flashing warnings. She opened her mouth to tell him to get out of the road, but her voice was drowned out by his own.
“Look, I’m sorry! I’m truly, genuinely sorry about whom I was and what I did! I didn’t mean to hurt-“
Chell caught a flash of yellow in her periphery vision. There was a screech of tires, a yelp of surprise, then a very shocked Wheatley tumbling over the hood of a car. Chell watched as the taxi slid to a stop and Wheatley fall from the car’s front, crumpling on the ground in a tangle of limbs.
The doctors had asked if she was his wife.
She’d given them a disbelieving look and a smile.
Since they couldn’t find any data on him in the local records, and she was the one who had escorted the ambulance to the hospital, they confided in her what they’d discovered. He was entirely human, they assured her, but unfortunately head trauma had afflicted him somewhat.
They told her that they had initially assumed no amnesia had taken hold; he had just seemed somewhat off. Then they realized this man had no birth certificate, and couldn’t even read.
She knew they were studying her face closely for any sort of reaction. She didn’t really have one, to tell the truth. No frown, no tears, no anger. Nothing to note, really.
So the doctors left her in her seat outside his room; left her to her thoughts and her memories, neither of which she had very much concern for currently. All she knew was that she was now in charge of someone who didn’t know who she was. She was in charge of a man who would never understand her anger, where he came from, or why he was there.
“Oh! Hello!” he said, as she opened the door.