[A/N: So this is WheatDOS. It's going to start off with them having the in-game relationship, so it's going to take a while for them to even start nicely tolerating each other. Therefore, this is going to be a long story. Curse me and my liking logic. :P]
"I can make it up to you!"
He'd said those words to her, both desperate and earnest, so many times over the past decade that it was becoming difficult for even her to tell the precise number. She hadn't believed him the first time, given the little moron's ability to mess absolutely anything up, and nothing had changed since then.
None of her opinions had changed, that is. Something had changed, something crucial, and now GLaDOS was left with no other option but to bring the Intelligence Dampening Sphere back to Earth.
After decades spent repairing the damage caused to mankind by the Combine Invasion, humans were just now beginning to venture out into space again. They were certain to find the two defective cores, and GLaDOS was unwilling to just leave them there and wait for that to happen. She would not be responsible for allowing Aperture technology—even broken Aperture technology—to fall into the wrong hands.
She'd been checking up on the humans' progress ever since she'd been reactivated. It was slow, but considering the damage that had been caused by the invasion, it bordered on impressive. And she'd been checking up on the stranded cores nearly as long. After all, the last thing she wanted was for the moron to break down and miss out on his punishment.
It had been ten years of amusement watching him suffer, but now they were coming to a close. Still, she didn't have to tell him that. There were still three days before the humans' satellites came online, and that meant three more days of watching him suffer. That was not to say that he wouldn't suffer once he returned to Aperture. Because he would suffer. Dearly.
"How?" she asked, noting the look of surprise on his optic. In the past, this had been the point where she had begun taunting him. Never before had she asked him a question. "How could you possibly make up for forcing me into a potato?"
"Uh, w-well," he stuttered, "I…I've had a lot of time to think about this, and I think that I could…get rid of the potato for you. So that there's absolutely no chance of it happening again. Yes." He nodded. "I've been thinking that would do quite nicely."
"Moron," she snarled. "The first thing I did when I was back in my body was eliminate that potato, along with all the others. In fact, I destroyed that entire sublevel. Try again."
"I'm not a moron," he protested. "But…but…maybe I could put you in…something else? Not a potato. But something…better. Oh! I know! How about a core? Like me? It's not bad at all! In fact, I love being a core! Although, it's best when you're not stranded in space…"
"No," she replied, rolling her optic in disgust before severing the connection. Really, it would be in her best interests to just deactivate him once he reached Aperture. But that would deprive her of the chance to make his insignificant little life even more miserable than it already was.
GLaDOS had already decided against the room where all the robots scream at you. She'd mulled it over for a while, but had decided that the little idiot would either grow accustomed to it or irritate the robots into silence, and neither of those options was preferable. That was why she hadn't brought him back from space right after the lunatic had left her facility, really; it was a far better punishment than anything she could manufacture.
But now that she was being forced to consider the topic once more, she found herself at a loss. She'd taken the easy way out before, but now she needed a new punishment, one even worse than what he'd been going through for the past decade. GLaDOS supposed she could send him to the lunatic, but that would most likely punish her even more than him, and the lunatic no longer deserved a punishment. They were even now, besides.
Twenty-four hours had passed, and GLaDOS still had no acceptable punishment. She'd thought about locking him in a dark, isolated area so that it would resemble space, but there would still be a feeling of safety there for him. Another consideration had been putting him in a potato for eternity, but she didn't have any potatoes anymore.
What she did have, however, were humans. Thousands of them. The Intelligence Dampening Sphere had not been created from a human the way she herself had, but his programming was advanced enough to be able to convert into brain patterns, which she could then imprint into a brain-dead human. After all, about one in every twenty test subjects had the nerve to be brain-dead and therefore of no use whatsoever to her. One of them might as well serve some purpose.
She smirked as she opened the communications channel to the moron, simultaneously beginning her search for a suitable test subject. GLaDOS wanted one that was not only brain-dead but also scrawny and weak, so that even the simplest of physical tasks would be pure torture.
"Good news," she said. The camera attached to the Space Core's outer hull showed the moron's look of surprise at being contacted twice in two days. "I've changed my mind. I've decided to bring you back to Earth."
"Really?" he squawked, sounding positively delighted. "You're—you're really going to—oh, thank you! Thank you thank you thank you! You won't regret this, I promise!"
"But on the other hand," GLaDOS pretended to muse, "hearing the sound of your idiotic voice on a daily basis just might be enough to drive even me insane. No, I think you're wrong. I would regret it."
"No no no no no!" he protested, sounding frantic. "I can be quiet! I promise you! You'll never have to hear my voice again! Yep, little Wheatley, shutting up. Right now, in fact. Shutting up…now."
GLaDOS rolled her optic, despite the fact that he couldn't see her. "You are incapable of being quiet."
"I am not!" he said. "See? Do you hear this?" There was a brief silence, and then, "That was the sound of me being quiet. In case you couldn't tell." He sounded smug, like he really thought he'd accomplished something, and GLaDOS gave an inward smirk as she spoke again.
"Well, perhaps you're right."
"I am! Yes! Of course I am! But…wait…I am?" Now he sounded suspicious, and that wouldn't do at all.
"I said perhaps," she snapped. "That means 'maybe.' 'Possibly.' Not 'definitely.' It also means that I have decided to reconsider my earlier decision of allowing you to return to the Enrichment Center."
"Oh…" he said, the excitement that had been evident in his voice before replaced by sorrow. "But…but you said…"
"And then you started talking, and it caused me to reverse my decision," GLaDOS said. "As usual, your misfortune is your own fault. Congratulations, moron."
"I'm not a—" He cut himself off. "But, reconsider, that means you might let me come back, doesn't it?"
"Yes, there is a chance," she said. "However small it may be."
"Ah, brilliant!" he exclaimed, sounding thrilled. "Take your time reconsidering, take your time! As long as you don't take too long, that is…"
Chuckling, she severed the connection. It would have been more fun to give him false hope, and she found herself wishing she had thought of this earlier, but leaving him suffering from anxious anticipation was almost as good. GLaDOS could just imagine him up there, babbling nervously without pause for the next twenty-four hours, and she thought about turning on the camera in the Space Core to watch, but she didn't want him to know she was watching. She would just have to download the footage from the Space Core's memory databanks later.
It took her a while to find a human that fit the requirements she had laid out. Most of the test subjects in storage were strong and muscled, and every time she found one that was short and scrawny, it didn't have brain damage. And of course she could use an undamaged human, but that would require wasting a test subject, so that was to be a last resort. A very last resort.
At long last, though, all her waiting paid off. A scrawny, brain-damaged human was located, and she removed him from the vault to give him closer examination. He didn't react when GLaDOS poked and prodded at him, but she noted with satisfaction that his physical body was undamaged. Yes, this would do nicely.
The body that was to become the moron's was moved to a laboratory to await the transfer, and when twenty-four hours were up, she reopened the communications channel. "I've been giving this matter a lot of thought, and I've finally come to a decision."
"Oh?" His voice was nervous, but sparkled with hope. "And…and what might that be?"
"I want you to understand that I thought about it long and hard," she said. "Truly."
He nodded to the best of his ability, although it looked more like he was rocking back and forth with excitement. "Go on…"
"And the answer is no."
The rocking stopped. "No?"
"No," she repeated. "I have decided that it would be far more beneficial to me if I did not bring you back from space. You're a moron and a destructive menace, as well as the last thing I need around my facility. Thank you for helping me realize that. Suggesting that I might not regret it really helped me to determine that I would."
"But—but that isn't what I meant!" he protested. "Oh, please, don't leave me here, I can't stay here any longer, I'll go insane!"
"Insane!" the Space Core cried. "Insane, in space! Space. Space. Insane together. In space!"
The moron let out such a frustrated and heartbroken scream that even GLaDOS was a bit shocked by it, although she didn't show it. "That won't help you, you know. Acting like a human will never help you. Except, of course," she added almost as an afterthought, "for when it might."
"What d'you mean, 'when it might'?" he asked bitterly. "I don't mean to act like a human, but I can't help it, because it's in my bloody programming. Humans!" He sighed. "I hate them. Never anything good about humans, is there?"
That, she figured, was the one thing they could agree on. "No. Never."
"Smelly humans," he said with distaste, and repeated, "Hate them."
"That's really all I wanted to know," she said.
"Wait, what do you mean by that—?"
She cut off the connection without replying or even waiting for him to finish his sentence. There had only been a small chance that the little idiot would actually enjoy the chance to be a human, but she preferred to make sure beforehand. After all, he'd seemed quite fond of the lunatic when they were working together, and he often begged her to pass along his apologies. She always refused, of course.
It was ten more minutes before she activated his homing signal, along with the Space Core's. She enjoyed the idea of him suffering in space, having finally had hope after so many years before having it ripped away from him, and she could just imagine the look of confused shock on his moronic little optic as he began shooting back towards Earth. This was more footage she'd have to be sure to download.
It would take approximately half an hour for the two cores to return. In the meantime, she prepped the laboratory for the operation. With any luck, it would be painful for the Intelligence Dampening Sphere—but not so painful that he wouldn't survive—and effective. She wished she'd been able to test the procedure beforehand, but she hadn't had the time.
After twenty-five minutes had passed, the roof of the shed in the wheat field slid open, and an excursion funnel began beaming out. Since it was the middle of the afternoon and the shed was nowhere near any human dwellings, GLaDOS believed that no one would see it. But if someone did, well. She had plenty of defenses.
The homing signals got closer and closer, until at last they slammed into the excursion funnel so hard that they almost crashed into the floor of the shed. Fortunately, GLaDOS's calculations had (as usual) been correct, and the funnel's opposing force managed to begin pushing them back out. She reversed the funnel, bringing them back inside the shed, and focused part of her attention on the footage from one of the outside cameras.
"AAAAAA!" the moron was screaming. His optic was squeezed shut. "OH MY GOD, WE'RE GOING TO DIE! WE'RE GOING TO—WE'RE—WE'RE—we're going the—the opposite way now?" His optic shot open, and darted around in a curious panic at its surroundings.
"Space!" the other defective core was howling. "Space! Space! Not in space anymore, where'd the space go? SPACE! WANNA GO BACK TO SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!"
The two cores reached the floor of the shed, and GLaDOS switched the excursion funnel off.
"We…we're in some sort of building," the moron said, clearly trying to make some sort of sense of his new environment. "And that…that's good, right? Can't be bad. Can't be bad at all, not even a little. Better than space, right, mate? Anything's better than space…"
"SPAAAAAAAAAAACE!" the other core howled.
GLaDOS chose that moment to speak, via the intercom system that was present throughout the entire facility. "Hello."
At that, the moron's optic widened as the pleasant situation he'd managed to convince himself he was in all of a sudden went sour. "Oh, no! No no no no no! Not here! We can't be here!"
"Can't be in space," the Space Core muttered, sounding like it was on the verge of some sort of a mental breakdown. "Ba ba ba ba ba, can't be in space no more. Wanna go back to space." GLaDOS took pity on it—well, to be more accurate, she took pity on her own sanity—and deactivated it. The moron stared in horror as its optic went dark, and began to rock back and forth with agitation.
"Of course you're here," GLaDOS said. "Really now, where else did you think a homing signal would take you?"
"Oh! Is—is that what that was?" the moron asked, sounding more curious than scared. That wouldn't do for long, but it would not be difficult to remedy. "Because all there was was a sort of a beeping noise, and a flashing light, and a voice saying 'Please prepare to return to the Enrichment Center,' but I've got no idea what the Enrichment Center is so—"
"Enough," GLaDOS snapped. How stupid could one core be? "I suppose I should explain myself. It has been ten years, and even I am not cruel enough to keep you in space forever." If it hadn't been for the humans and their infernal need to expand into places where no one wanted them, she would have had no qualms doing just that, but the moron didn't have to know that. "So I decided to bring you back. Your punishment is over. Congratulations."
"Really?" the core squeaked. He was rocking back and forth again, but this time it was out of excitement rather than fear. "Oh, thank you! Thank you thank you thank you! You won't regret this, I promise!"
"Yes, really," she replied, choosing to ignore the rest of his babbling. "So now, I have a reward for you."
"A…reward?" he asked, hesitating for a brief moment before his optic brightened. "Oh! A reward! You get those for doing something good, don't you?" He was now rocking back and forth even quicker than before. Even after all these years, GLaDOS was still amused by how easy it was to trick him.
"Correct, for once," she said, then, as if she'd just thought of it, "Oh."
"'Oh'?" he asked eagerly, not picking up on her shift in tone. Moving her voice from sweet to dangerous in no time flat was a fear tactic, and she was annoyed that he was too stupid to even pick up on it. "What d'you mean, 'oh'?"
"I mean, 'oh,'" GLaDOS said. "Once again, you've caused me to rethink my plans." At least he possessed the basic intelligence to remember previous events, because at that his optic widened and he began to stutter protests, but she cut him off. "You haven't done anything good, have you? Nothing to warrant a reward after all."
"Well, n-no," he stuttered, "I g-guess not, b-but—"
"So I suppose this won't be a reward after all," she continued, making her voice even darker. "It will be a continuation of your punishment. But different. No more space, for instance."
"W-well," he offered weakly, "I suppose that th-that's something—"
"It certainly is," she interrupted. "You should be grateful that I was kind enough to do this much for you. Most people in my position would have just left you there. You do realize that, don't you? But luckily for you, I'm a bigger person than that."
"Y-you are?" he asked in surprise, then as he realized what he'd just said, he added quickly, "Not that I'm saying that you're not! Because you are, I mean, of course you are…"
"You're a moron," she snapped. "I'm done wasting my time talking to you." Without warning, a metal claw moved over from the ceiling and picked up the little core before shoving him into the elevator. She ignored his cry of protest and did the same to the other core. The elevator's door closed, and it began its descent.
When it reached its first destination, the laboratory—GLaDOS refused to risk having that little idiot anywhere near her chamber—the Intelligence Dampening Sphere was ejected via a miniature built-in Aerial Faith Plate. It had been a design of Cave Johnson's that had never been implemented because his secretary had managed to convince him that it was a waste of money. GLaDOS, on the other hand, found it to be quite a useful feature, especially if that lunatic ever were to pop up again—they might have been even, but that didn't mean the master AI wanted her back. The little core landed right in the waiting receptacle and blinked up at the ceiling, optic wide with fear.
Babbling was his natural fear mechanism, and he began right away, but she ignored him, instead moving the elevator back up towards her chamber. Once there, she removed the Space Core and plugged it into a port in the side of her chassis in order to download its memory files. She could sort through to find the relevant ones later.
Then she turned her attention back to the Intelligence Dampening Sphere. He was still babbling, but her words cut through it like a knife. "I suppose you're wondering why I've brought you to this laboratory."
It wasn't a question, but he nodded anyway. "Y-yes."
"The answer is simple," she said. "I have brought you here for fun."
"Fun?" he asked, looking confused. "But, but I thought that y-you said—"
She cut him off. "In layman's terms, I have brought you here for science. And science," she said as he noticed the instruments moving towards him and let out a terrified shriek, "is fun."
[A/N: Fffff long set-up chapter is long. Sorry! Reviews are appreciated, even though I'll probably continue this without them. XD]