[A/N: This is a sequel to "You've Got Your Short, Sad Life Left," which can be found at .net/s/6996559/1/Youve_Got_Your_Short_Sad_Life_Left , but it can pretty much stand alone. Unlike SSL, this one will have bits I mean to be depressing, which could mean a lot of things, but just so you know in advance.]
A twin pair of headlights made their way over the well-worn set of tire tracks that ran through an empty wheat field to an old, ramshackle shed. The door to the shed was slightly ajar, as it always was. As the headlights stopped moving and turned off, an elderly woman stepped out of the car.
It was dark, and she was really too old to be driving even during the daytime, which was why she hadn't returned to Aperture in almost a year now, but she had no children to drive her, and most of her friends had either passed on or were also too old to drive.
Besides, what would she say when asked why she needed a ride to an abandoned shed? "I need to visit with the possibly homicidal computer who's both my friend and the person my mother lives inside"?
Making her way to the shed, she pushed the door open.
"Chell," GLaDOS's voice greeted her as she entered. "This is a surprise. It's been a long time. Three hundred fifty-two days and thirteen hours, in fact."
Chell gave a small smile at the familiar bitterness in the AI's voice. "I'm sorry. It's a bit of a trip, you know."
"Now that you've mentioned it, I have developed a solution to that dilemma. When you leave the Enrichment Center this upcoming time, perhaps I will allow you to take a portal device with you. That way, you will be able to visit more often."
Chell nodded as she stepped into the elevator. "That'd be nice."
"I'm not sure if I'll be able to come visit you again," Chell said, watching GLaDOS carefully for any change in expression. "I really shouldn't be driving."
"Chell. We have been participating in biweekly visitations for the past fifty-seven years." GLaDOS's voice was pleading, and Chell frowned.
"I know. I'm sorry."
"You don't have to leave. You could stay. I still know how to bake a very good cake…"
One corner of Chell's mouth quirked up in a smile. "Bribing me with cake again? Just like old times…but no, I can't stay here."
"Why not?" GLaDOS asked. "Other than me, you have neither family nor friends. There is nothing keeping you in that desolate little town you refer to as 'home.'"
"First of all, it's not desolate, it's home," Chell snapped. "I don't have another one. Second, I do have friends, and third, I wouldn't exactly call you 'family.'"
Chell sighed. "Okay, fine, maybe I would. But my other points still stand."
"Well, you're wrong. You do have another home. Here. At Aperture."
As the elevator entered GLaDOS's chamber, Chell blinked the memory away, instead focusing on the AI, whose optic was focused on her in turn. The elevator landed, the door opened, and Chell stepped out.
"At Aperture?" Chell asked with a blink. "Aperture's not home, GLaDOS."
"Wrong. It's my home."
"But not mine."
GLaDOS sighed. "Perhaps not, but it could be if you let it."
Standing up, Chell placed her hand on the cool metal casings that surrounded GLaDOS's optic. For a moment they stared at each other, both looking sad, but then GLaDOS pulled away. "Stop that."
Chell smiled. "Goodbye, GLaDOS."
"Hello," the AI replied. "I did not think that you would be returning. Therefore, there is no cake. Sorry."
"It's okay," Chell said, ignoring the sarcasm in the last word. She made her way into the chamber—when had just walking that far become so damn hard?—and with a wince, sat down on the floor.
"You are not well," the computer observed right away. "I should have guessed that you would only return if you needed something. If you expect me to have you healed after neglecting me for the past three hundred fifty-two days and thirteen hours, then—"
"I'm not sick," Chell interrupted. "Just old…it's kind of snuck up on me over the past year. And I don't think there's any kind of medicine you have that can cure old age. Also, I know if I were sick, you'd help me, no matter what you say." She locked her eyes on GLaDOS's optic. "Wouldn't you."
It wasn't a question, and GLaDOS opted to neither argue nor agree with it. "You are correct that there is no cure, as you call it, for old age. But there is something else…"
"Whatever it is, I don't want it," Chell said. GLaDOS's optic searched her eyes, questioning. "I came here to die."
"What makes you think I will let you leave?" GLaDOS asked. Three glass panels shot up in front of the elevator, blocking the entrance. "After all, it would be better for both of us if I keep you here. You would be far safer here inside the Enrichment Center than out in a world where something tragic could happen to you at any time."
"Safer? Maybe," Chell said, walking over to the glass panels. "Happier? Better off? No." She turned back to face the computer, knowing after all these years what exactly the best way to deal with a tantruming AI was. "I know you won't keep me here."
After a moment, the panels dropped and the elevator door opened. Chell stepped in, and as it closed behind her, she looked at GLaDOS and pressed a hand to the glass.
"Die?" GLaDOS asked with a snort. "Don't be ridiculous. You are not sick, nor are you overly frail. I would even go so far as to estimate that you have several years of life left."
"But don't you see? I don't," Chell said. "I've been getting weaker and weaker for a long time. I know I'm going to die, and it's bound to be soon."
"You're giving up," the AI realized. "After all these years, you are giving up."
Chell's eyes narrowed. "No."
There was a beat of silence, then GLaDOS sighed. "Assuming you are correct about your body's deterioration, why would you return here? Would you not rather die at home, where your friends are?"
"I am going to die at home," Chell said, looking up at her. "You were right. This is my home. And you are my friend."
There was another brief silence, then, "I will not allow this to happen. You were right as well. I would help you if you were sick, and old age is a form of sickness. You may stay in a relaxation vault until such a time as a cure can be found. The elevator is now ready to take you there."
Chell looked behind her as the door opened, then back at GLaDOS, shaking her head with a chuckle. "You're really not getting this, are you? I don't want to be cured."
"If the idea of spending time in a relaxation vault is not appealing to you, there is also the option of having your consciousness downloaded into my databases."
"GLaDOS, I don't want—wait," she said, curious despite herself. "Into your databases? Like Caroline?"
Chell blinked. "Wouldn't that—wouldn't that hurt?"
"Theoretically, no," GLaDOS replied. "I have been experimenting with the process for years now, although I have never encountered the possibility of testing the improved version on a human before."
"Well…" Chell said, thinking it over during what she knew must be a brief moment of insanity. "Well…no. No, that isn't why I came here."
"In that case, I'm sorry, Chell. I cannot allow you to die."
The elevator door closed with a whoosh, and as it lowered into the ground, a gas began hissing out of the floor. Coughing, Chell stood up. "GLaDOS, stop it. You and I both know that you aren't going to force me into your databases. You haven't forced me into anything for what, sixty years now?"
"Fifty-eight. But the difference between then and now is that then, your life was not in danger. Now, it is."
"Yeah, from you!" Chell protested. "You want to rip my consciousness out and force it into you. What the hell happens to my body when you do that?"
"I place it into a stasis pod alongside Caroline's until such a time as a cure for old age can be found," GLaDOS informed her. "You have nothing to worry about."
"Except you!" Chell yelled. The gas had filled most of the room by then. "GLaDOS, listen to me. Don't do this."
"If I don't, then you will die. And as I said, I can't allow that to happen. I am sorry, Chell."
"I came here to die! Because you're the closest thing I have to family, and you're supposed to be my friend, and this is my—"
"The more you talk, the more gas you take in. Just so you know."
Chell fell silent, instead reverting to just staring at the AI until the gas became so thick that all she could see was the glowing yellow light of her optic. Coughing even harder now, she dropped to her knees, still holding out hope that GLaDOS would change her mind and vacuum out the gas like she had with the neurotoxin so long ago.
She held onto that hope all the way until she blacked out.
[A/N: This was meant to be a onsehot in which old!Chell asked GLaDOS to put her in her databases, but it was really difficult to write, and it evolved into this. I have some ideas about where it's going to go, but no idea how long it's going to be, so. Thanks for reading!]