A/N: A companion piece to a little drabble I wrote about GLaDOS. She's a fascinating character. I found many fans (and even the wiki) speculate that Caroline could have been Chell's mother, due to their similar appearances. The "adopted" references lend some credence to this theory as well. I had to thus play around with the relationship between Chell and GLaDOS, since she is in a sense Caroline.

The title is a reference to the end song, when GLaDOS admits she didn't delete Caroline and in fact still has a conscience. But this statement appears on the screen as [REDACTED]. ;) Reviews are always appreciated too, friends!

Disclamer: Portal (C) Valve.

x x x

One arm resting loosely on the charred steel cube, the dark-haired woman felt considerably shaken as she looked out across the golden fields of grass. The natural sunlight felt bright on her eyes, the blue of the sky almost blinding.

She had made it. She was alive. And she was free.

The thought still sent Chell's mind reeling. After all of the testing, the brushes with death, the endless trekking through the labyrinthine ruins of Aperture Laboratories…she had lived to see the light of day.

Maybe more surprising to her was the fact that she hadn't in fact escaped, per se. That horrible, deranged computer had let her go.

The former test subject drummed her fingers against the metal idly. She was having a difficult time digesting all of this. By all reckoning, an AI should be predictable. Run on a program, designed for pure logic and efficient reasoning. Then why, oh why, was GLaDOS such an enigma to her?

Waking up for the first time in Aperture, Chell had found herself alone and confused. Cold though she tended to be, GLaDOS had been her only guidance and encouragement in the lifeless facility. Her voice was calm and soothing, like a mother speaking to a child. And despite the underlying hints, it had still been a gross and unforgiveable betrayal when she had found herself on that platform heading into a fiery death.

She couldn't believe how much the past few days had changed all of this. Each event stood out in her mind like a flash. The AI's anguished cry as she was wrenched from her body, Wheatley's betrayal, and the journey through the abandoned testing sites with only the potato-bound GLaDOS for company.

It went against her better nature to join forces with her enemy, especially when it was for the purpose of putting said enemy back in control of an infinite amount of power. Yet, with each step Chell took toward overthrowing the rogue core, she slowly began to actually trust the computer. She hardly recognized GLaDOS when she reacted to the recordings of Cave Johnson and Caroline. Her emotions were almost human; sadness and respect toward the dead man, shock at her relationship to Caroline, and an overwhelming sense of fear about what this all meant.

This was not the same diabolical maniac that had put her through hell so many years ago.

Chell smiled knowingly as a bird careened by overhead, crying out joyfully in the sunlight. Being a potato had humbled that seemingly unbreakable creature. But she still had felt an impulse of absolute terror going through her as she collapsed in Wheatley's so-called "lair," her last vision of the powerful AI towering over her helpless, exhausted, and completely vulnerable body.

Her thoughts were jumbled and bleary, but they were full of dread. I'm going to wake up in another test chamber. She'll keep me alive down here forever; put me through experiment after experiment, taunting me all the while. I'll never see another human again.

Waking up hours (or maybe, days?) later in the heart of Aperture, Chell was met with the sight of two little bots staring curiously at her. The injuries that had covered her body from the explosion's shrapnel had been carefully dressed, and she guessed there must be some hell of a drug running through her for there not to be much pain. A vague feeling of disorientation hung about her head, but that sensation vanished instantly when the pair of bots stepped aside to reveal the imposing form of GLaDOS.

Only by instinct did she flinch away from the sight of her, much too beaten and defeated to summon up her usual defiant nature. The computer picked up on this, but rather then drawing pleasure from the other's fear, she instead withdrew slightly into herself. If machines could show an expression, Chell imagined that GLaDOS would be conveying a sympathetic frown.

Admittedly, her words were somewhat lost on her former test subject. Still dazed and apprehensive, the human had difficultly following the conversation. An intense moment of fear ran through her when the announcement read out that Caroline had been deleted, but before she knew it the elevator was carrying her upward, GLaDOS's soft, almost maternal chuckle following after her.

And, while she appreciated the lovely angelic choir of turrets, she wished she could have told the sarcastic AI that pointing them at her in the elevator was in fact, not funny.

The conclusion she had come to was…she couldn't entirely blame the computer for her behavior. Judging from Wheatley's disastrous response to becoming the controller of Aperture, the overwhelming omnipotence came with a sinister price. As GLaDOS herself explained, this immense power and the ingrained desire to test simply came as a part of the job.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Maybe that was true even of an artificial lifeform. The difference between her and Wheatley, however, seemed to be that GLaDOS was intelligent enough to learn from her mistakes and now held her cruelty in check.

Well, in the end, she did still have a long journey back to civilization ahead of her. Chell stood up, dusting her orange jumpsuit off, only to notice a pink slip of office paper conspicuously peeking out of her breast pocket. Removing it, she stared at the note, which was watermarked with that all-too-familiar cake symbol. In the typical printed-out font of Aperture's computer systems read a short message:

Dear Sir or Madam,

On behalf of Aperture Laboratories, we would like to thank you for your recent participation in our vital experiments. Our cutting-edge innovations would not be possible without the help of our wonderful force of volunteers! We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Chell frowned. Beneath the message, in a different font, were two tiny additions.

P.S. Goodbye.

P.P.S. And, yes…I'm sorry. Isn't that what you were wanting to hear?

The woman released a long sigh, smiling to herself as she tucked it back into her pocket. Heaving the companion cube up onto her shoulder, she had to wonder if perhaps it wasn't the only friend she made down there after all.