This oneshot evolved from a discussion a friend and I had regarding Subject Delta's motives throughout the game. Just a theory! Reviews are appreciated, and I'm always open to discussion! Enjoy!

Upon Reflection

"Love is just a chemical, no matter the origin. We give it meaning by choice."
―Eleanor Lamb

Subject Delta was granted the ability to think, but discovers quickly that such a thing should be granted to only those with the ability to sustain it. Consequently, not him.

He rifles through his thoughts in the same way a person rifles through propaganda leaflets. One knows there is a degree of deception to the majority, but it's so hard to tell which speaks truth, which are lies and which are truth embellished with lies, or which are simply the twisted imaginings of an Adam-choked Splicer (in Rapture's case, anyway).

His memories are gone, scrubbed clean by the whims of scientists so his person can be moulded into something single-minded and dangerous (though they still call him a golem and a frankenstein with such distaste it is as if they didn't have a hand in his creation at all). He has only now; his past is gone and he doubts his future will be a protracted one; the surface isn't even a memory anymore, but a reality that never existed.

All he knows is Eleanor. All he can think about is Eleanor. His very being, purpose and drive revolve around Eleanor. Eleanor, Eleanor, Eleanor.

They said he'd been relieved of the mental conditioning subject to all Big Daddies, but that is only true in part: the bond is mental conditioning, and it is that very bond that keeps him alive and derives him of free will. He searches for Eleanor with deranged passion; it pains him physically and mentally to be apart from her. He must find her. He must. There is only that choice, none other. Don't they know it's driving him crazy?

And so he considers, or tries to, with his poor, abused Big Daddy brain, if he truly loves Eleanor.

She is mine, he thinks in a possessive frenzy. Mine.

He thinks he detects that same desperation in other Daddies as they defend their Little Sisters against his bombardments. He thinks he hears angry pleas in their inhuman groans and roars: please stop, she is mine, don't take her I need her she is mine, please make it stop, she is mine but make her stop –

They are his kin, and he feels bad, but he won't stop because he understands what it means to be a Daddy, he acknowledges their intelligible pleas, real or not, but mainly it's because… Eleanor wants him to. And he can't defy Eleanor. Because he loves her.

I love her.

There's something fierce in the way he thinks that word. Angry. Angry at the world for reasons that buzz in his brain likes wasps and bees. He can't catch them but they buzz noises so angry and infectious so he can't help but succumb, even if he can't analyse them closely and is left to simply wonder about their origin.

He shakes his big, heavy head and tries to think. Think. Clearly.

But the answer remains the same, overpowering and garish like a flashing, neon sign:I love Eleanor. I love Eleanor. I love Eleanor.

He finds Mark Meltzer's diaries and he contemplates that man's love for his daughter in the detached way that only Big Daddies can. He acknowledges Meltzer's heroic love, and thinks, jaggedly, that it isn't at all like what he feels for Eleanor. It can't be. It isn't. And when he kills Mark in the laboratories and lifts Cindy onto his back he is so angry – so angry at why this had to happen and why –

But then it fizzes away like all the thoughts he shouldn't be thinking. Because Big Daddies aren't allowed Bad Thoughts. There is Little Sister. Eleanor. Only Eleanor. His purpose. His love.

A part of him fears what would happen if she was taken from him, if he would simply be an empty shell in empty armour, damned to roam terrible Rapture until madness claimed him. He fears that, and he hates himself for it, because then Eleanor is no longer a purpose constructed by way of a bond, but one of his own making.

Always, the recorded words of Gilbert Alexander haunt him ('Today I saw one kneeling near a Gatherer's Garden and... crying') but that wouldn't be him. No. Never.

They told him he had free will.

They lied.