Author's Note: Hello everyone! This is my first Portal fanfiction. I hope nothing is terribly out of place or so skewed in the manner of timelines that it doesn't make sense, but then again, it is fanfiction and we're allowed to do that. I've tried to keep it as accurate as I possibly can. This story is set after the events of Portal 2.
If she hadn't been prepared to be as silent as a mouse when entering the main AI chamber, Chell might have screamed. It wasn't every day that one walked into a room expecting to be dwarfed by an only slightly homicidal artificially intelligent supercomputer dangling from the roof, only to find said supercomputer strewn across the floor in a litany of pieces; systematically gutted like a hunter's kill. And even less expected on the list of unexpected things to see was for those same hunters to still be there; pawing about with their filthy hands and desecrating the remains of the omnipresent God that had once inhabited the facility. Chell could only feel anger at that. Seething, eye-prickling, eyebrow-twitching anger. She didn't pretend to hold any special feelings towards the AI, but she was her God, damn it! They had no right to touch!
She could feel her face heating up like a little furnace started by the grinding of her teeth; her palms flecked by the half moons her fingernails created against the soft flesh as she stood in disbelief at the twisted wreckage on the floor and the jagged wires hanging down where they had ripped her from her throne in the sky. Trying to yell obscenities at the black-clad soldiers and scientists milling about proved fruitless – the muscles in her throat had cramped up into a knot – ironically leaving her mute against her own free will. Well, that and the fact a hand had clamped itself over her mouth, the other arm around her ribs, squeezing so tightly it leeched the air right out of her lungs and rendering her breathless. Yanked backwards from the room, her captor had the surprising foresight to lift the former test subject off her feet to prevent the heels of her long fall boots from clanging against the metal grating on the floor as she kicked and alerting the others in the room to their position.
Chell found herself thrust up against the cold metal wall which immediately brought goosebumps to her exposed skin. That warm hand was still pressed tightly against her lips to prevent her from saying a word and she noted, with some disdain, that it wasn't an entirely unpleasant experience when confronted with the face of the person it belonged to. Had it really been that long since she'd had contact with other humans that simple warmth could-...No, it was best not to think about it.
Peering out from behind a pair of scholarly glasses were two blue-grey eyes that locked directly onto her own gaze with a critical stare. Beyond that, the face they were set in struck her dumb for just a moment in time. Pretty...older...cocky. The little twitch of her lips proved that point as she leaned in closer.
"I don't know why I thought putting my hand over your mouth would help, but if there is anything that I have learned from a lunatic like you, it's that you are entirely unpredictable." The familiar, seductive voice whispered. It made Chell shiver.
"I told you not to come back. I shouldn't have expected you'd listen even after all the horrible things you did to me. Did you come to join your friends from Black Mesa in dismantling me? Why am I not surprised. I thought we had something special. Once again, you wound me. You really are a horrible person." the AI quipped as her captive's eyes darted towards the open door, her own head shaking furiously at the mention of Black Mesa. "No? They're not friends of yours? You sure fooled me. If that's true, which I suspect it isn't, you're not going to like it when they try to take you apart. And they'll try. Believe me, I know. You wouldn't want them thinking you're a permanent employee here because of this..."
GLaDOS's slender finger trailed down the rapidly pulsating artery of her neck, slowly making its way down across her collar bone until it rested on the Aperture Laboratories logo emblazoned on the stained white singlet stretched across her breast.
"I'm surprised you even still wear that thing. You look like you've been robbing hobos. And that's terrible." The barest hints of a smirk tugged at the artificial muscles behind artificial lips. The gesture elicited a roll of the eyes from her counterpart. "No matter. You are coming with me. I'm not letting you wander around my facility unsupervised so you can destroy everything. For the third time. At least I don't need to tell you to be quiet. That's an added bonus of testing mutes, even if they ARE dangerous lunatics like you. There's less screaming."
With an iron grip around her upper arm, GLaDOS hastily spirited her off down the hallway. Completely unnecessarily she might add, thought Chell. They both knew it, but there was something in the touch of the android that unsettled her. It could have just been that she was still reeling from the shock of seeing the once leviathan-proportioned robot spread over the floor in itty-bitty pieces, all laid out for cataloging. And maybe she was picking up on something GLaDOS was feeling. Either way, it was worrying.
It wasn't long before her unwilling tour guide was scratching at a piece of metal sheeting, pulling it back to reveal a tunnel between the walls. When the panel was pulled back enough for them to squeeze through, she set it back in place and the tunnel was plunged into an unforgiving darkness that was so thick that Chell could have sworn she could choke on it. Still, she had no doubts that the AI with her could see perfectly fine. Probably equipped herself with some kind of night vision, she noted. Against her better judgement, her hand shot out before she could think of stopping herself and latched desperately onto the pristine white lab coat of the supercomputer that had made her life a living hell several times over. The silence following the action was deafening. She knew she was being examined like some bug under a microscope, so she steeled her expression into a determined grimace and pointed at her eyes before making a waving gesture that she hoped GLaDOS would interpret as "I can't see" and not "My eyeballs smell like nasty things."
She had to give the computer some credit though; she was certainly smarter than the little sphere that had led her practically in circles the last time she was here and she had a much better understanding of drama and comedic timing. Yet the vitriolic comment never did rend the silence. Instead, that warm hand wrapped around her own chilled fingers and started leading her through the tunnel. She had to admit; it was a little disturbing. Here was a being made of metal and silicone and she was less robotic than the human with her. Hunched over from the low ceiling, Chell closely followed the AI, tripping and stumbling a few times in the darkness. She should have known the silence wasn't going to last for long. GLaDOS couldn't resist taking a pot shot at her after she whacked her forehead on a low hanging pipe.
"Even when you're with me you're trying to destroy things. With your face."
Yet even when a soft light started illuminating the darkness up ahead, GLaDOS didn't let go of Chell's hand until they had rounded the corner and were able to stand up to their full heights in the alcove. A Companion Cube sat in the centre of the "room" with a little gas lantern on top that was the source of the light. There was no small amount of amusement at seeing the cube was so brightly polished that it twinkled even in the low light. It looked brand new, but on closer examination of the worn sections on it revealed that it was just well-loved like someone had been stroking it far too often. She could understand. They were such lovely friends in this mad, mad world. Two piles of old lab coats were pushed up against adjoining walls that were laden with shelves full of canned goods, books and documents, and a laptop sat open and ready for its owner on a couple of overturned crates. It definitely looked lived in. Finally letting go of GLaDOS's hand, the young woman stepped over towards a wall that was plastered with sketches resembling the many that she had seen drawn in chalk around the facility. Some of her, some of GLaDOS, other things she had never seen before. And some not so nice ones that made reference to Black Mesa and the size of their...guns.
"DON'T TOUCH THOSE!" the pile of coats screeched in a high, strained voice, scrabbling to its feet and startling the test subject into stumbling back against the android who provided a solid backing to regain her footing. "THOSE ARE THE FUTURE!"
Hm, that was odd. Chell had seen a lot of strange things in her time at Aperture, but talking coats with beards were not one of them, until now. Another one of Wheatley's experiments gone wrong, perhaps? Though, she couldn't imagine what he thought he was doing when he was creating it. Those poor, poor frankenturrets.
"[Subject Name Here], meet Doug Rattmann; your secret admirer and the very reason you were even tested at all. He is extraordinarily evil, obviously." GLaDOS sighed, dusting off her black skirt before taking a seat in front of the laptop on one of the overturned crates. She kept her attention firmly focused on the two.
"YOU! I KNOW YOU! Shhhh! Be quiet, they'll hear us!" he hissed, wild blue eyes darting this way and that before darting around the Companion Cube and grabbing a rather frightened Chell by the hand and pumping it up and down enthusiastically. "I'm Doug. Doug Rattmann."
"I just said that."
"Shhh! You can't believe her lies. Everything here is lies. The cake too. I know what's real. Don't listen to that voice." He insisted, not even glancing in GLaDOS's direction. "I put you first in the testing cue. I had a feeling about you. They didn't want you to test. But we proved them wrong, didn't we!" he gleefully whispered, before his eyes widened and he scrambled back away towards the cube. He started mumbling to himself as he scratched at the scraggly brown beard on his chin. It wasn't until he crouched down near his Companion Cube and started stroking it again while he spoke to it that GLaDOS chipped in eagerly.
"Aren't you glad that I made you incinerate your cube now?" she grinned at the woman in the orange jumpsuit. "Did you hear that, Doug? She burned it up. I bet it was screaming in horrible, burning pain. On the inside. If it was sentient. Which it isn't."
"Don't listen. Don't listen. She can't tell us what to do because we already know about her tricks." Taking out a cloth from the pocket of his jacket, Rattmann puffed a breath of warm air onto the surface of the metal box and began polishing away at it again with all the ferocity of an exasperated mother trying to get a dirt smudge off her child's face in time for dinner. All the while, Chell remained pressed up against the wall in abject horror at the proceedings. It amused the supercomputer to no end to see her like that. The open mouthed expression was the closest thing she had probably witnessed to actual communication about what the girl was feeling. It took some time before she felt comfortable enough with her surroundings and the gibbering of Doug to actually peel herself away from the wall.
"Come and sit-..." the android was abruptly cut off by the shout of Doug.
"YOU DON'T GET THE BED! It's mine! I don't trust you!" he pointed at GLaDOS, "And you smell funny!" his finger turned on Chell, who raised an eyebrow. SHE smelt funny? Clearly he hadn't taken a good sniff of himself lately. "You're sharing! Not mine! There's rules here!" he scrambled back over towards the lab coats and cardboard boxes that made up the nest that he had been laying on before they had entered the little hideout.
Share with GLaDOS? She blanched at the thought. Did androids sleep? Well, other than sleep mode, that is. But that didn't count, did it? There was no possible way that the AI would agree to such an arrangement. Yet upon turning her gaze to her nemesis, she was greeted with the sight of the back of her head, white hair pinned up in the perfect bun for a prim and proper receptionist-meets-scientist look as she tapped away at the keyboard of the laptop. GLaDOS didn't say a word, and Chell still had no idea what was going on.
This was going to be one long and uncomfortable journey.
And she didn't even have a portal gun.