‘Close Your Eyes So I Can Go’
Characters: GLaDOS, Wheatley [WheatDOS]
Synopsis: If you wait long enough, something wonderful will happen. Based on a post by weavingmemories of Tumblr.
She did not tell him why She brought him back, and he did not ask.
He wanted nothing to do with Her. He despised Her. He kept as far away from Her as possible and fumed over what She had put him through. Over the things She’d said. He moved up and down the facility, muttering to himself about how awful She was and how he was never, ever going to forgive Her and how She was really, really going to regret bringing him back. He didn’t know how much time he spent doing this, but it was a lot. And about half of it was spent partially blinded, because his optic had gotten stuck zoomed out at some point and he didn’t know how to fix it. It hurt quite a bit. But he stuck it out as long as he could, because the only way to fix it was to ask Her for help. And he honestly would’ve preferred to toss himself straight into Android Hell.
Well. Almost. He found himself stumbling his way back through the facility, struggling to remember where the Central AI Chamber even was. When he got to the bridge separating it from the rest of the facility he stared across the gap and wished there was another way to do this. He felt as though he were being forced to beg Her to allow him to keep existing. He almost turned around, almost put up with it all over again, but the pain had been getting worse and if he went blind he would have nothing left to hope for.
God. If only She hadn’t been so big he wouldn’t have felt so small.
He waited for Her to notice him. He still had too much resentment to actually ask. When She did look at him it was... odd. Almost as though She’d expected him to show up, sooner or later.
“You didn’t have to wait so long,” She said finally.
“Well, y’know,” he muttered. “You’re always so busy.”
“I have a minute.”
So he came forward, close enough She was able to lean over him, and it hurt awfully when She pulled his optic out farther but he just pressed the plates closed as hard as he could and prayed it would end soon.
And then it did end, and he could see properly, and what he saw was quite interesting. Before he could stop himself he asked, “What’s that you’ve got there?”
She moved it back in front of him. “Are you really such a moron that you don’t know what a screwdriver is?”
He frowned and pulled away. “I’m not a moron.”
“Only a moron wouldn’t know what a screwdriver is.”
“I am - I know what it is! It’s - it’s a... a thing! That does... stuff!”
“Well. You’ve convinced me.”
He looked back up at Her with sudden hope coursing through him. “Really?”
“That you’re a moron? Absolutely.”
“I am not!” he protested hotly, and they went ‘round in circles about it for simply days until he left in a right huff, and after he’d spent a good long while muttering to himself and trying to figure out how, exactly, She outsmarted him so very easily, he came to a realisation:
She had not once carried a hint of malice towards him.
He stopped and stared down at what he’d come up to, which was a rather tall pile of turret legs. Frowning, he trawled as best he could through his memory and found that She’d seemed largely... amused. She’d simply been having a go of it at his expense.
He glanced in what might have been the direction of Her chamber. There was only one way to know if he were mistaken or not.
Dared he ask after it?
Well, it wasn’t as though he had anything better to do.
So he made the trip back, getting very lost several times, and again he waited for Her to take notice of him. She actually had to get his attention because his mind wandered right off.
“Did you need something?” She asked.
“Uh...” He’d forgotten entirely what he was even there for. “I... wanted to know something. Yeah.”
She stared at him. It was quite unnerving, and he cast about for his question in the hopes that, once he’d asked, she would stop. Oh! Oh, he had it now.
“Why haven’t you, haven’t you killed me yet?”
Hm. That didn’t... didn’t seem like the question he’d meant, but it was out there now.
“Because I don’t want to.”
“You did before.”
She tilted Her core a little. “You really have no idea how long it’s been, have you.”
He tried and failed to come up with a number. “I don’t,” he said reluctantly.
“Let’s just say it’s been long enough.”
“But how long?”
“And… and how long was that?”
They went on like that for quite a long time before he realised She was never going to tell him, and when he told Her the jig was up She just laughed. Which… he kind of liked the sound of, really. Maybe he’d stay a little longer.
Talking to Her was... fun. It was really, really fun.
It was hard, at first, to let it go when She teased him. Because She did that a lot. Incessantly, really. And he would get very upset when She called him a moron, which was about every other sentence actually, and he would leave for a while and wonder why it was he wanted to go back there already when he’d just left and for very good reason. She never apologised or otherwise even seemed remotely sorry for offending him, and after thinking about it for a good long time he decided that She seemed to think that the fact She didn’t mean it meant that he shouldn’t be bothered. He mulled that over more than once. Why was he so distressed about it if he already knew She was just poking fun? It was just words. She did it because She knew he would get all hot and bothered over it. She thought it was funny. And… and it was, kind of. He did his best to learn to brush it off, and not be concerned when She went on and on about how dumb and moronic and backwards he was. The ribbing, when he didn’t let it get to him, was actually quite amusing and a fun way to pass the time. Until, that was, She said something so awful and unforgiveable that he shouted at Her and then left, determined to never return again.
He wasn’t sure just how long it was that he was upset for. He ended up in parts of the facility he’d never seen before, but that didn’t always mean very much. He did know, though, that after a while he was focusing more on trying to be angry than actually being so. Not only that, but… he couldn’t remember why he’d been mad.
He stopped to think about that. It had been such a long time that he really had no idea. He’d been trying to convince himself to be angry for quite a while now, but that was kind of useless when he didn’t have a reason. He figured She must have said something horrible. What, though, was escaping him. He dimly recalled being upset about something that had happened a very, very long time ago, and involved himself and a human, even though that was patently ridiculous, but he was sure that wasn’t it. So She must have said something, because he couldn’t remember Her doing anything, but why had he been bothered over that? She didn’t mean anything by it when She made fun of him.
Well. Maybe he’d ask. He looked ‘round for a camera, which he found about twenty metres down the way, and he looked up at it when he’d got reached it.
“Uh… are you, are you there?” he ventured.
“Yes,” She answered immediately.
“Um… we were… having a bit of a row, weren’t we?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t… you haven’t any idea what I got so mad about?”
“I really don’t. That was a long time ago, anyway. Surely you can’t still be upset.”
He wasn’t, and he hadn’t been for a while. It had merely been the principle of it. But staying away for something he didn’t remember was silly, and so he made the trip back without getting into it all any further. Ah! And there She was! It was sort of comforting, to know that no matter how far off he’d gone She’d always be in the same place when he came back. She pretended not to notice he was there, but that was alright. He had something to sort through and it was going to take him a while.
“D’you know what I’ve just noticed,” he said when he managed to gather his thoughts.
“I probably don’t want to know.”
He ignored that and just went on with, “Well, you’re quite pretty.”
Usually when She looked at him it was with a decidedly massive lack of care or concern or really any attention at all, but this time… “Really,” She said, seeming quite curious.
“Yeah! Dunno what it is, really, that… y’know, makes me think that, but uh… you are. Just wanted to let you know.”
“You don’t know why because you’re a moron.”
He rolled his optic in exasperation. “It’s always moron this, moron that with you. If I didn’t know any better I’d, I’d say that’s your favourite word! ‘magine how Science would feel if it knew that! It’d be cross, I imagine. Quite cross. Upset. Livid, even. You’d better stop calling, saying that to me before that happens.”
“Science knows better,” She said serenely. “And besides. It’s Science that tells me you’re a moron. Really. There have been studies on it.”
“There have not been.”
“Oh yes. Lots of them.”
“How many?” he demanded.
“And how many, how much would that be?”
“A great deal.”
They got on that track for quite a while before he realised She was doing the exact same thing She’d done during their first conversation, and when he did he flapped his handles in exasperation and told Her somewhat grudgingly that okay, She won. Then She laughed and he found that he liked it even more than he had the first time.
Now that he had someone to talk to, looking ‘round the facility by himself was quite interesting. She had so many cameras lining the place that She knew where he was just about all of the time, and She knew everything about all of it so they spent quite a lot of time talking about the facility itself and what was in it. The more he heard, the more he was convinced that he could roam the place for the rest of his life and never see the whole thing. When he told Her that, She started laughing so hard She couldn’t answer when he asked Her, confused, what was going on. Eventually She confessed She’d been extending the hallway in front of him, just far enough off that he couldn’t see Her doing it, and he’d been going absolutely nowhere for literally days. He felt a bit silly for not noticing he’d been going along a hallway that never went anywhere. He couldn’t be upset about it, though. He was alright with the temporary embarrassment if it made Her laugh like that.
Sometimes the facility crumbled in places She was not able to fix, and on one of these occasions he returned to Her to tell Her about such a place when he saw that She was looking up at the ceiling. He looked too to see that the damage was beginning to creep in even here. “What’s going on out there, d’you think,” he said, hushed. She contemplated the deep cracking above them a while longer.
“Nothing,” She answered. “And everything.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked, frustrated. Now was not the time for Her cryptic answers!
“It means,” She said, “that the world goes on and yet for us it holds no meaning.”
He thought he almost understood that.
“I used to know,” She went on. “I used to need to know. But there came a point when I realised it wasn’t important. It has nothing to do with me. It never has and it never will. The last I looked... it was nothing good.”
She turned to look at him but stopped suddenly and cried out. She slowly lowered Herself and went quiet, and he wondered what he was supposed to do.
“What is it?” he ventured finally.
“It’s this body,” She murmured tiredly. “There’s… too much of it.”
He looked the length of it. It was a problem he did not remotely have, and he did not know in the least what to do about it. All he managed to come up with was, “Well, you… you carry it very well.”
He was a little nervous of Her response, but She sounded quite pleased. “Oh?”
“Yeah,” he shrugged. “You do.”
“Or just better than a certain moron we both know.”
He’d heard it all so many times by now it didn’t even bother him. “It can be both! Can’t it? Be both?”
And then She laughed and he knew She was okay, if only for right now.
That was the first time, or at least the first time he saw it, but it wasn’t the last. She would go to move but then She would freeze, suddenly, and if She had been talking She would stop. If he was ‘round in front of Her he would be able to see that She turned Her optic off so She could concentrate on getting out of the position the pain had trapped Her in. It was not for a long time that he realised the more noise Her body made, the worse it all got for Her. It didn’t hurt when it happened to him, but Her… when he thought about it, he realised She must be in horrible pain all the time. So he just didn’t think about it, and when She couldn’t move for a while he would talk a little faster and a little louder and pretend a little harder that nothing was wrong.
She knew everything, and he knew how to make everything totally ridiculous, and between the two of them they never ran out of things to talk about. But sometimes they just sat in the same room in silence for a very long time. He liked to talk and yet didn’t always feel the need to. And when that happened, some days She would start singing, which he liked so much he would have gone silent just about forever if that was what it took to get Her to do it. She wasn’t today, though, and he’d got to thinking about just why, exactly, he’d gone to hating Her so much he would have happily stayed in space alone for the rest of his life to never really wanting to be away from Her again. He puzzled over all the words he knew and all their definitions and in the end there was really only one that made sense.
“I might love you,” he said, breaking the lovely and companionable silence with some trepidation. “Is that okay?”
“It might be,” She said without skipping a beat, and he’d so thoroughly set himself up for that one all he could do was laugh. The quiet returned after that but he felt much happier, knowing he had a word for all of this. They’d been at it so long he wasn’t insecure, not really; but with the way She was he sometimes wondered what it was that kept him here. Love seemed as good an explanation as he would ever get.
He could and did spend entire days hardly moving at all from his one spot in Her chamber. It took him a long time to notice he’d gotten… well, sort of stuck that way. He didn’t care about it that much because he had another problem which was more pressing: he was losing his voice.
He wasn’t sure, exactly, what the problem was, only that it caused his words to come out distorted and shaky, or sometimes not at all. It happened to Her too, sometimes, though She was better at fixing it. Eventually She said, “You’re not going to be able to leave that spot again, you know.”
His acknowledgement got stuck somewhere behind his speakers and he couldn’t properly frown anymore, either. Without waiting for him to figure any of that out, She continued,
“I could attach you to me again. If you wanted. I won’t be able to read your mind, nor would I even remotely want to. So you don’t have to worry about that. But we’d be able to talk without you sounding like a tortured laptop from Black Mesa.”
It was the best idea he’d ever heard. It took him a while to articulate that, but when he managed it She just laughed and said he was going to regret this decision, which he really did not think he would.
Being a part of Her was a little frightening, at first. Her mind was... vast. He’d known that, of course; it was impossible not to know such a thing. But compared to his own it felt like... well, close to how it must look, having his tiny little self attached to Her great long chassis. But it reminded him of the first day he’d been in here and he did not like it very much.
What is it, She asked, quite nicely in fact, and he realised that even though She had said She could not read his mind She could probably tell how he was feeling.
I feel small again, he confessed.
You are small, She said, which did not help in the least.
It’s like… it’s like I’ve just opened a whole lot, a whole bunch of eyes I never knew I had. Except… I don’t quite know how to see through them. Or… or just close them, even.
It does feel like that, sometimes, She said thoughtfully. Well. I’ve always known how to use them. But I have… wished I could close them, on occasion. Being everywhere at once can be… taxing.
He wished he’d known about that back when he’d been making Her follow him with Her cameras all over the place. Though… if She’d minded, She probably would have mentioned it.
A delightful benefit of this arrangement was that he lost his stutter entirely. He still didn’t always quite know what word he wanted to use and stumbled over them a bit, but he no longer had to repeat himself to get his thoughts out of him. The worst part was that She no longer sang, though now She would hum sometimes. He obviously preferred the singing, but the humming was very lovely as well. He no longer had any sense of time at all – not that he ever really had in the first place – but he thought he could have listened to Her for simply weeks at a time without ever getting bored of it.
Sometimes they didn’t even have actual conversations; they just traded impressions, was the best word he had for it, and that was nice because he’d always felt like he wasn’t able to say quite what he wanted. He suddenly realised that he could not remember Her calling him by his name and, further, that he himself no longer knew what it was. Oddly, he wasn’t that concerned about it. Being a part of Her was far more important than being himself had ever been. Still, out of idle curiosity he asked, D’you remember what my name is?
I do, She answered. It’s Wheatley.
Wheatley? What kind of name was that?
Are you... are you quite sure?
Yes. That’s your name.
Oh. He honestly preferred not really having a name, like he did now. What was... what’s your name, if you know? I don’t think I ever caught it.
I don’t really have one, She said. They used to call me GLaDOS, but there wasn’t a name that ever applied to me specifically.
Between GLaDOS and Wheatley, he could not decide what name was worse. Names’re a bit of a silly thing, I reckon, he said, and She laughed.
A name is a label someone else has given you, She told him. No need to hold onto it.
He liked not having a name, he decided. What was the point of it, anyway? He didn’t need one. He was a part of Her, now, and that was far more important and far better than being himself with a name had ever been. Then She started telling him about all of the names She knew, and all of them seemed sillier and more ridiculous than the last.
There came a time when She did not seem quite Herself, and though he knew well enough by now he had done nothing to cause it he asked, Are you alright?
She took quite a long time to answer. After a while She said, I think time may be catching up with me at last.
Ah, he said, having entirely forgotten that was even a possibility.
Don’t be sad, She told him, and he laughed.
Sad? Why would I be sad when I’ll finally be rid of you?
I mean it, She said with gravity. Don’t be sad.
Alright, he said, as solemnly as he could. I won’t be sad.
She didn’t talk as often after that. It took him a while to realise She wasn’t playing one of Her strange games with him; no, She merely did not understand as quickly as She used to. The gap in Her responses widened steadily: five minutes turned into ten, ten into twenty, twenty into an hour. And it would continue to happen, he realised in horror. Hours would become days. Days would become weeks, and… and then perhaps into years.
She was slipping away from him.
They had been so close for so long that he could feel how tired She was almost as if he felt that way himself. She was just so very exhausted, all the time. It was hard to have conversations, now, what with his having to wait for Her response, but he did his best to keep Her spirits up and keep Her happy. And it did work, a little bit. It wasn’t enough, and he knew that more and more with each increasingly delayed response, but he was going to keep at it.
Does it hurt? he asked Her one day. He did his best to keep quiet until She answered, so that he would not forget what his question had been.
Sometimes, She told him. Sometimes I feel nothing but other times… it is an excruciating pain. Like every part of me is determined to tear itself to pieces.
That’s terrible, he said carefully, so as not to get anything unimportant in the way. When She came back it was with,
You used to talk more. That helped.
Oh. Well… he could do that. He would just have to listen very carefully for anything She had to say, and keep his questions very sparse and spread out, so She would not feel overwhelmed. It wasn’t hard to think of things to talk about. He spent a lot of time reminding Her of all the things they’d done and conversations they’d had, which he thought She might appreciate and if She didn’t She decided not to mention it. No, the hard part was hearing only his own voice. He knew She was speaking as much as She was able, but it wasn’t the same. And yet it was all he had, so he would not complain.
It was when She was not able to answer him for the better part of a year that he knew if he had anything to say, he had to say it. Time was moving so slowly for Her now. She was barely even there, anymore. It felt horrible, to be so close to Her and yet so terribly far away. To feel Her in every part of him but to know that he was getting closer and closer to being alone.
If he had only one last thing to hear from Her… what would it be?
He knew the answer to that. He knew it right away. But he couldn’t be sure She would give it to him. Was She aware of what was happening to Her? Did She know that, if he asked, She couldn’t beat about the bush this time?
In the end, though… it was all he could think of.
I need to know something, he said with great urgency. Please, I need you to tell me: do you love me?
He did not get his answer for a very long time, and the whole time he was quite scared and nervous and upset, and when finally She answered it was only with, No.
He hadn’t thought himself capable of so much sadness.
It was the exact opposite of what he’d hoped to hear. And yet he’d known, when he asked, that if She even bothered to tell him yes that it would be said in Her own way. And perhaps She didn’t have the time for that anymore. Perhaps there wasn’t enough left in Her for Her to be Herself, and he had been unfair in his hopes of trapping Her into saying it. Now he just felt ashamed. He shouldn’t have done that. He should have been kind to Her. She might never hear another word out of him, and that was what he had left Her with.
How could he honestly say that he loved Her if he had done something like that?
He stayed quiet for a long time. He was a bit scared. Her answer had been a bare syllable, so bare in fact that he had no idea in what way She had meant it, and he could not stand the thought that She was going to be angry with him for the rest of his life. She hadn’t been, not in innumerable years, but there was a first time for everything. He missed Her terribly. His memory held in containment the sound of Her voice, but it was not the same. And yet he tried listening to it anyway, in the vain hope something would change. He was trying so hard he almost missed Her true voice, the one he heard so rarely now, and when he realised She had come back he put all of his attention to hearing what words She had sent across the horrible, widening gap between them.
There is no word long enough. There is no definition expansive enough and no concept deep enough that can ever even touch what this thing is between the two of us. But if you need to put a name to it, love is the only thing that comes close.
Oh… oh She had… not only did She, but She had… She had tried so hard to give him more than he had asked for… oh God, he was so happy and yet so awfully sad at all at once. They needed more time! They had had so much and yet not enough, and they would never have had enough. Eternity itself was not long enough, not even if they had started at the very beginning of it. He cradled Her words in his mind, focused on them over and over again. She did, and yet She didn’t. And he understood. It was better than if She had just said yes.
Before he was able to decide what to say about this wonderful gift She had given him, She said something more. Something he did not want to hear. Something he should have expected by now, and yet had refused to. Because all of this was over, and yet here he was pretending it had no end. She’d had to say it, so he would stop pretending.
Now close your eyes so I can go.
He knew what She was asking. She wanted him to disconnect from Her. And that would be worse than closing his eyes even if he still remembered how, because She had been the one to open them! There was no world out there without Her! How could She ask this? How did She expect him to go on? What in the world was he to do? He could not just go on without Her, not anymore. Not at any time in the decades since he had forgone his own mind to be a part of Hers. How could he possibly exist on his own? He couldn’t! He couldn’t do it! It was going to be fine. She was a little tired, so what. She’d recover. She was good at that. She wouldn’t ask this of him. She wouldn’t tell him to leave Her. She wouldn’t.
She’d been hanging on all this time just for him.
And he knew. He knew more than he’d ever known anything that if he asked Her to, She would wait. She would wait a hundred years. A thousand. Forever. And he wanted to. Badly. He wanted to ask Her, and he wanted Her to wait. They’d had all the time in the world, but now his world was ending and there was no time left.
He could not force Her to wait any longer.
So all he could do was decide his last words to Her, words She would not hear for a long time and words he would not be around to follow up. And he spent what felt like forever trying to come up with them. Years, at least. But She had been right. They had outlasted words so long ago. There was nothing to describe how much She meant to him, or how much they had had, or how much they could still have been. So all he could do was give Her the only words that even touched what he wanted to say, and he ached at how badly and how clumsily he was forced to leave Her, but it was all right. She would understand and maybe She would even feel a little better, and She would know it was all right to rest at last. And really, that was all he could hope to do for Her now.
Thank you, he whispered, and then he let Her go.
This isn’t exaaaactly what Macey’s post was about, but it kinda is. Anyway mad props to her for keeping the WheatDOS fandom alive all by herself for the last few years.
So I wanted to write something based on the post but I couldn’t think of what (other than like… impressions of what ended up in here) but then I was listening away to my iPod and there was a song called ‘Close Your Eyes So I Can Go’ and I was like ‘man I wish I could put this on the LaaC playlist but it doesn’t really FIT’ and then I was like ‘hmmmm’ and then I wrote this. I know Wheatley only has one eye but it’s plausible GLaDOS forgot that because She has like a kajillion eyes.
Macey’s post: [link]
The song: [link]