A/N: Heh, I've been so bored lately. I felt like fleshing out this meta-canon I've developed some more. I will admit I hate OCs with a passion for the most part, but the cast of Portal is very small and I wanted to further explore GLaDOS as a character...thus, I wanted another character to act as a foil for her. Chell and Wheatley both do a great job of it, but putting her in an uncomfortable position like this makes for a neat character study in my opinion. So this isn't just for fluffiness, and the lolz, but also for the sake of science!
Disclaimer: Uhhh Valve owns Portal. I did make up Lia though.
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"C'mon, please? I'll go away if you tell me just one story. Promise."
Even at the tender age of eight years, the young human was already insufferably persistent. Like mother, like daughter.
"Do I really have to remind you again that I don't 'tell stories'?" Aperture's reigning AI queen towered above the small girl, an intimidating presence by any stretch of the imagination. Descendants of Cave Johnson, however, were proving to be the exception to this. "I compile data. I analyze scenarios. I bend reality to my will. I do not entertain children."
No reply. Little Lia only kept her brown eyes fixed on the massive computer, almost challengingly. This was another trait she shared with Chell; her stares said more than any verbal response ever could.
GLaDOS couldn't help but sigh. There had been a point when she spent all of her time alone in her dark chamber, half-insane, and practically gleeful at the human carnage that took place under her watch. Now, somehow, she was left caring for the daughter of someone she had nearly killed more times than one. These humans had made her feel…affectionate? Caring? Whatever word you assigned to it, the thought disgusted her.
At least she was behaving of her own volition, and not because some idiot scientists stuck a core on her. She supposed then, she might be able to live with this fact. Even so, the AI was relieved this arrangement was only for a few days. Chell had caught a flight cross-country to visit some dying in-law or something to that effect, and apparently was short a babysitter.
Oh, she'd refused adamantly. GLaDOS never considered herself the obliging sort, not by a long shot. Of course, Chell never took no for an answer, either, so here they were, having a staring contest. Both humans were very fortunate that she hadn't the heart to eliminate them anymore, though she preferred to believe that she chose not to rather than being unable. This was something Chell knew just as well as she did.
Still. That wasn't going to stop her from being heavy-handed when she felt like it.
So she moved in a bit more threateningly, leaving only a few inches between her and the child. This elicited a tiny flinch, and much to her delight, Lia hugged tighter to her teddy bear. Even on her best days, GLaDOS couldn't help getting a small thrill from causing fear. Old habits tended to die hard.
"I'm only saying this for your own good, you know. In case you weren't told what happens to people who disobey me, here's a hint. It starts with the word neurotoxin."
More silence. The girl stuck her bottom lip out, frowning. She really had no idea who she was up against. It was more or less like provoking a wild animal; a lioness made of steel and wires.
But even a ruthless predator could be gentle with its young. GLaDOS felt an impulse of annoyance pass through her with this thought. There was nothing, absolutely nothing worse than a threat she was unwilling to substantiate. It was an exceptionally rare occurrence in her track record.
"Why don't you just go back to playing with the cooperative testing units?" she finally sighed, her stoic exterior slipping just the slightest bit. She didn't quite know how to be persuasive without the use of force. "I couldn't imagine why you would want to be here in the dark with me. I have nothing that a child would be interested in. Nothing safe, anyway."
"Because you're so fun to listen to," Lia insisted quietly. So now she chose to talk...it figured. "You know everything about everything. And Mom said you could tell me lots of stuff. Like a story."
Everything about everything? The AI shook her head in amusement. Evidently this was untrue, as she knew very little about children. So this was a sort of firsthand research opportunity, then. Thinking of the situation that way made it slightly easier to tolerate.
"Your mother told you that now, did she?" Her voice had softened a bit, something that tended to happen rather unintentionally. "She should know better than anyone that I only tell hilariously gruesome stories…"
The child fidgeted a bit, looking down at her lap. "She said you would tell me about all the things you guys did together."
GLaDOS twitched her head to the side in agitation. "So why can't she share that with you?"
Lia smiled, a few baby teeth missing. "She said you told it better than her."
In her own mind, she cursed Chell a few times. Surely the former test subject knew very well the position this put her in. While part of her found it extremely funny to imagine the little girl's face as she recounted the events—and then I tried to kill your mother with fire, and then with turrets, and then with neurotoxin—it somehow also made her feel…well…
It wasn't as though she regretted doing those things at the time, the AI reasoned bitterly. Not at all, really. The regret had been due to a lack of success and nothing more.
So what idiot decided that guilt had to be a retroactive emotion?
"I don't think I'm at the liberty to disclose that…particular…information…" Each word came out as though she were still contemplating what to say as she said it. A programming anomaly. Hesitation was usually a non-sequitur for her. "I spent far too much time expunging it from my memory just to drag it back up again."
"Oh." The girl clearly didn't know what half of those words meant, but she got the idea from her tone. "I thought you guys were friends. And had cool adventures or something."
Why did this one have to sound just like Caroline when she was sulky? It was bad enough that the girl resembled her even more than her mother did—probably the brown eyes.
"Friends," GLaDOS echoed in a show of pure listlessness. "My point exactly. Now, while I love inflicting pain as much as the next person, shattering that particular illusion of yours would be…"
Her sentence tapered off impotently, another awkward silence waiting in the wings. "Well, I was the victim," she interjected quickly. "She had to be the psychotic one. I was just doing my job, minding my own business."
That whole version of events was starting to show its age. The tone of her voice became even more disgruntled, almost childish. "…There really was cake, after all."
Lia just smiled, every bit as cryptic as Chell. Caroline's latent presence must have been watching too, because she was starting to feel smug as well.
Three generations had gotten the best of her. The AI felt her mean streak flaring, a sensation that was always familiar and near impossible to rein in. She could repeat Bring Your Daughter To Work Day so easily right now. Caroline didn't have any power here, only her, as it had been since the woman had first been forced to share this body with her.
So that made it her own damn fault that she couldn't hurt this child.
Grudgingly, GLaDOS relaxed her ever-arrogant posture just the slightest bit. It couldn't hurt to put some of her pride aside this time. "Well…did she ever tell you about the time I saved her from a horrible death?"
The girl's eyes went wide with surprise. "No way!"
"Yes way," the computer corrected her dryly. "We were in the process of destroying a moron, as it were. The little idiot had stolen my body and put me in a potato." She said this last word with a particularly strong distaste. "So your mother had to do the actual killing part."
"Whoa, my mom did that? She never told me she was so cool! Wish I could tell all the kids at school about this…"
"Well don't, unless you like being called insane." The light of her optic flickered sharply. "Anyway, she was doing a fairly nice job of shooting him with the explosives he supplied her with. I was giving her some cores to corrupt the system and force a transfer before the whole facility self-destructed. We were just about to get rid of him, but sometimes you shouldn't underestimate morons, because this one rigged the stalemate resolution button with a detonator."
Lia blinked in confusion. "What's that mean?"
"It means the story almost ended there," GLaDOS replied in a rather dark tone. "But fortunately, I had already given Chell one of the most effective weapons we could've asked for."
"Oh, the portal-making thing?"
"She told you about that, hm? I can't say I'm entirely surprised." The AI shook her head. Chell was nice to leave out the part where they tormented each other, at least. "At this point, she was in pretty bad shape. As in near death. But she shot one portal under that idiot and another at the moon of all places. Extremely dangerous and unadvisable, though it did work, so I'll reserve my comments I suppose."
"So what happened then? Did you beat him?"
"More than you can imagine, I assure you." GLaDOS couldn't help chuckling softly at the thought. Oh, good times. "But the portal created a vacuum, and both your mother and the moron went flying off into space. Of course, with him gone, I was back in charge."
She thought about it for a moment, recalling quite vividly the fraction of a picosecond she spent deciding whether to just let the both of them die. It wasn't that difficult of a choice though. She did have her own code of honor, after all, however twisted it may be.
"So I had to save her from space. And then from dying of her injuries. That counts as two times, by my reckoning." Mentally, the AI knew it was three times. Sparing her life after that did, in fact, count as well. "The moron wasn't so lucky, however, so he's been floating around in space ever since then. The end."
"That's crazy. I didn't know Mom was such a hero. She saved all of Aperture!" Lia grinned even bigger than ever, likely imagining the whole thing in her mind in an overly-glorified manner.
It was very tempting to rain on her parade. Acid rain on her parade. But GLaDOS just sighed to herself.
"Yes, it was extremely heroic of her," she answered flatly, drawing herself up proudly again. "Now, I do remember you promising to run along if I told you a story. I'm assuming you didn't enhance the truth about that?"
The little girl's face fell, but after a moment, she stood up to go. "No ma'am," she sighed. Then, a small smile reappeared on her face. "But thanks for the awesome story, Aunt GLaDOS!"
Not that name again. It amused Caroline, maybe, but not her. She turned away from the child, the annoyance showing in her voice again. "There's a room down the hall full of weighted companion cubes. Practice your engineering skills and build your own empire out of them. In fact, I don't care what you do so long as it doesn't involve bothering me."
Lia nodded enthusiastically. There was never a shortage of interesting things in Aperture, after all. Just as she approached the exit, some panels rose up to block her path. She shrank back a bit; that kind of thing always spooked her.
"…Remember not to wander out of the Enrichment Center." GLaDOS still wasn't looking at her, but her tone had softened again. "I did promise your mother that I would keep an eye on you, you know. And I have eyes everywhere. So that means if a door is locked that you don't go in there. Period."
With that, she allowed the girl to leave, quite aware of the little giggle that escaped her as she ran off. Finally, some peace and quiet again…
Well, except for someone. Caroline's presence simply glowed with approval, sending the sensation through the entire system. It wasn't often that her location in the database sent out such a strong emotion, most frequently occurring when it had to do with her family.
GLaDOS merely shook her head in disgust.
You really do know how to rub it in, don't you?
A/N: Insert canned laughter here, and clapping. Actually scratch that, if this was a sitcom I'd want it to be more like The Office where you aren't instructed on what to find funny.
Any of you catch GLaDOS echoing Cave here? She tends to say silly immature things like him sometimes ("Why don't you marry it") so I kept that theme alive in this piece.
Fun fact...I named Lia after a cat that kept hanging out at my house since her stupid owners were neglecting her. She's a little Birman, terribly cute, and her name tag said Lia and I thought about how it was a cute girl's name. Anyway...R&R makes me happy.