Chell heard a voice cut through the silence of her sleep. Frowning slightly, she attempted to roll away from the sound- only to meet an armrest.
Armrest? Did she fall asleep on the couch again?
"CHELL! Wake UP already! Mr. Johnson'll have your head for sleeping on the job!"
Well, too BAD, mysterious perso-
Chell shot up in the desk chair she was currently occupying, scattering the papers on the desk. Her eyes darted around the room fearfully, taking in every detail. The cabinets, the desk toy, the painting above the window- they all looked so familiar but she didn't know why. Even the logo on her shirt... was... Aperture's?
She was... She was back in Aperture. Back in Aperture?
The man standing next to her had a puzzled expression on his face.
"Chell? You okay?" She barely had the presence of mind to nod. Shrugging, he gave her a box and a small piece of paper.
"Look, are you sure you're okay?" Another nod. "Well... Okay then..." He left.
Chell slumped in her chair, staring at the paper, but not really registering the words witten on it. How did this happen?
Chell, following her release from the facility, had found a small abandoned apartment in the 'city'. Which really looked more like a small town, but, anyway. She'd lived there peacefully for months.
And now... now she was back HERE.
Back in Aperture.
With human employees.
And Cave Johnson...
Where was she? Or rather- when was she? Reading the small paper, she was able to decipher two things:
1: She was in 1983.
2: Her job... was... to be a deliveryperson, essentially. Her job? She wasn't just some test subject? A small amount of relief came with this realization, immediately doused by the fact that she was 450 years in the past. And after a quick pinch-check, it became clear that she wasn't dreaming, either. The last thing she could remember before passing out last night was the wish that she knew who she was.
Well, here ya go. She was a deliverywoman for Aperture Science in 1983.
She figured it out now...
She could go back home anytime now... No?
No. There was something else then. She also had terrible taste in paintings? she tried, but to no avail. She was stuck.
'Well. Frick.' Was the only thought that she deemed necessary as she trudged off to deliver the crap in the box.
GLaDOS let out a small whimper as the scientist reached in again to adjust another wire.
"OW! Don't DO that!" she yelped as a particularly stubborn one finally popped in. The scientist groaned and rolled his eyes.
"Shut up, computer. I'll be done in a second."
"But you said that 4.927 minutes ago- OW!" she whined as he smacked her hard on the casing.
"I said, shut up! Jesus, Jeff, does this thing EVER stop whining?" he yelled down to another on the floor.
Jeff chuckled. "Not often, I can tell you that. God only knows why Johnson made us keep the voice processor installed on that thing."
GLaDOS, had she possessed a mouth, would have been pouting. "I'm not a thing! My name is Genetic Lif-"
"We get it. Now pipe down, computer."
"GLaDOS..." she mumbled under her metaphorical breath. GLaDOS didn't get it. She tried so hard to be nice to them. But no matter what, they just insisted on calling her thing and computer and not alive. She once pointed out that she never called them 'dumb humans' or anything, and they did what they usually did when she spoke: ignored her or laughed at her.
No one had ever said 'good morning' or 'how've you been' to her. No one asked her if she liked being whacked and poked at.
No one even spared her the time to say-
Chell almost fell in a dead faint when she saw where the next order went to. Central AI Chamber, it read in big, mocking letters. She felt like she was a lamb being sent to the slaughter by cruel Fate, master of the heavens and awkward moments.
Maybe they hadn't built her yet, she thought as she walked. Maybe these parts were for her... chassis or something. Yeah. But those hopes sunk like a stone when she saw GLaDOS herself being worked on in the chamber.
She didn't appear to be pleased.
Chell was this close to just dropping the box and running like hell, when she remembered something- GLaDOS didn't know her yet. Chell wasn't a test subject yet. Therefore, GLaDOS had no reason to hate her.
Chell gulped. Then she probably shouldn't start giving her reasons. She slowly stepped inside, greeting the AI with a chipper "Hi!"
GLaDOS's core shot up to look at her. The scientists in the room halfheartedly returned the greeting, thinking it was for them.
"Oh. Hi Chell." Jeff said nonchalantly. Chell was a bit irked that they didn't even consider that it may be for the other sentient being in the room.
"I was talking to her, Jeff. GLaDOS." She snapped. She didn't even know how she knew his name, but she decided to roll with it. After all, she was stuck here anyways.
"R-really?" came a high-pitched, childish voice over the intercom. It took Chell a moment to realize that that voice belonged to GLaDOS- albeit a much younger one. When Chell looked up, she realized that GLaDOS was staring directly at her, amazed. She gave a small grin in the AI's direction.
"Mm-hm." she nodded.
"Uh-Uh-Uh- Hello!" Chell had no doubt in her mind that if the AI possessed a mouth, she would have the largest, most idiotically happy grin plastered across her face.
"So, how are you?" Chell called up, handing the needed parts to Jeff, who was staring at the both of them like they'd grown extra appendages.
"I'm doing really really good except that he said that he'd be done with the wires in a second, and he said that 5 minutes ago! That's 300 seconds! So technically he should have said 300 seconds, not counting the time now because he's still working and-" GLaDOS babbled, completely and totally over-ecstatic just because Chell had said something to her. Chell just smiled, finding the normally (well, at least she was in the future) cold and cruel AI as a little ball of happy way too adorable.
"Oh really? It sounds like these guys have to learn how to read a watch, huh?" Chell said, watching as the AI's core bobbed up and down in an agreeable nod.
"Uh-huh! And, and, also, last week, Jeff and Joe were up here adjusting my... uh... something-or-other, and they said it would take them five minutes, and it took them FIVE HOURS!" She groaned.
Jeff rolled his eyes. To Chell, he said "It was more like one hour. This thing tends to exaggerate." He gestured toward GLaDOS.
Chell gave him a look. "What thing?" she asked innocently. "All I see in here are two men, one woman, and one overly-happy female AI."
"See? See? She calls me a female!" GLaDOS said smugly. "I'm not just a thing!"
It was Jeff's turn to give Chell a look. "Oh, you can't possibly think that thing's alive."
"Well, I do. She looks and acts alive enough to me." She spat.
"-And then I found out that it was the orange paint-stuff that makes you run faster, and by that time like, 18 people had already hit the ceiling really hard and... Ummmm... What's wrong?" GLaDOS asked worriedly.
Chell smiled at GLaDOS and said sweetly "Nothing's wrong. What were you saying about the gel mix-up?" As GLaDOS began to chatter again, Chell shot Jeff a glare.
Jeff loudly said "I think you should get going. You have things to deliver." to Chell. She picked up on his thinly veiled "Get the hell out of here" and was turning to leave when she was interrupted by GLaDOS.
"Awwwww. Do you have to go already?" Chell nodded. "But- But I like you! You're so nice..." GLaDOS whimpered.
"Aw, it's okay. Look, I'll probably be back tomorrow. Okay?" Chell said. GLaDOS said nothing, giving Chell the impression that she would be biting her lip (assuming she had one).
"Okay?" Chell asked again.
"... Okay. But you promise you'll be back?" GLaDOS asked, almost a little fearfully. Chell smiled and beckoned GLaDOS's core down for a quick hug.
"I promise." Chell murmured, before pulling away and heading for the door.
"Wait! I don't even know your name yet!" GLaDOS called frantically.
Chell called over her shoulder "Just call me Chell!"
Chell had a small smile on her face for the whole rest of the day. Who would have thought that GLaDOS used to be this... cute?, she wondered. And, if she was this cheerful, she thought, then what in hell could have made her so pissy 450 years later?
GLaDOS was more cheerful than she usually attempted to be that morning. Let's say, to the point of giving EACH and EVERY person that walked through the doors a chipper "Hello!"
Needless to say, 394,402 employees were thoroughly freaked out upon coming to work.
Excepting Chell, of course, who returned the "Hello" just as eagerly- electing strange looks from everyone in her immediate vincinty. Chell was incredibly excited, for that day, she'd come up with a plan. If she got GLaDOS to like her enough, it was entirely possible that she could change her relations with her in the future- possibly benefiting the both of them.
So that afternoon, she took her lunch with her to the Central AI Chamber. "Toldya I'd be back." She smiled as she strode in, noticing the way GLaDOS's optic seemed to visibly brighten at the sight of Chell.
"Oh! Hi!" GLaDOS called out cheerfully. "What's that?" Slightly confused at the quick change in topic, Chell followed the master computer's gaze to her lunch bag.
"Ohhh. This?" Chell held up the bag. GLaDOS nodded. "Ah, it's just my lunch. It's lunch break right now." she said nonchalantly, opening it.
"Lunch...? Oh-oh-oh! That's what you guys eat in the middle of the day, right?" Chell chuckled slightly.
"Yep. Although I should have probably been more careful making it yesterday..." Chell stared down at the lettuce, cheese and tomato sandwich and made a face. What the hell was she thinking last night?
"... Do those foods go together well normally?" GLaDOS asked. Chell shook her head. "Oh. That would make sense. Sort of."
"Eh. Not a total loss." Chell grinned, digging out the small piece of chocolate cake she'd wrapped in cellophane. It had taken her a good 15 minutes to go anywhere near when she first saw it in her fridge, but it did taste delicious if nothing else.
"What's that?" Chell almost facepalmed at how much GLaDOS was sounding like that inane core she'd pulled off of Her later/earlier.
"It's cake. Haven't you ever seen cake before?" Chell asked, a bit sarcastic and a bit puzzled.
"No." GLaDOS sounded worried. "Am I supposed to have?"
"Oh- No! No, it's fine." Chell said hurriedly. "I'm just surprised you haven't seen someone eating some yet. It's very popular." Chell said matter-of-factly.
"Really?" GLaDOS sounded interested now.
"Uh-huh. Especially if it's fresh- that means it's really moist and light and delicious." Chell licked her lips simply thinking about it.
"Wow." GLaDOS sighed. "That sounds really good..."
"Yeah." Chell agreed- having already finished her slice minutes ago.
"Aw. You guys are lucky. You get to eat stuff like cake and... I don't really have anything to eat with..." GLaDOS said dejectedly.
"Oh, hey, it's fine. I mean- well- uh..." Chell thought hard for something that GLaDOS could do that no human could. "Well, you can move the walls themselves. That's pretty cool."
"I... oh yeah! I can!" GLaDOS said, sounding proud. She also lifted the floor panel Chell was currently on to her 'face level', maintaining a smiling optic the whole way.
Chell grinned. "Yeah!"
The bell rang, signifying the 'GET THE HELL BACK TO WORK' rant sure to come courtesy of Cave Johnson, also known as He-Who-Will-Not-Take-Your-DAMN-Lemons, chief of the Tribe of Crazy Science. Laughing slightly at the scene building in her head (complete with She-Who-Is-Married-To-Science attempting to get the chief to not kill He-Who-Walks-With-Companion-Cube), Chell waved to GLaDOS as she walked out the door yet again, with another exchange of promises to come back tomorrow.
It wasn't until she got back to her tiny office that she was struck by a wayward thought: Did I just give GLaDOS her cake obsession? This time, she broke out into full-blown crazy laughter, eliciting fear for her sanity by even He-Who-Walks-With-Companion-Cube.
"I swear to God, she talks to the thing!"
"Kid's crazier than Doug."
"It listens to her though. Gotta give her props for that."
"Only 'cause she babies it so much!"
Chell sighed. One week into her new/old life and she was already the talk of the lunchroom. For some reason, the guys here couldn't get it through their thick skulls that, maybe, what they'd created wasn't entirely their intention. And because she had sided with GLaDOS and made a friend, she was the Misfit Toy.
"I mean like seriously! Remember two days ago? Full-blown pissy rampage- GONE! In two seconds flat!"
Oh yes. That little incident...
"Hey! Hey Chell!"
Chell turned around to find Jack standing behind her, a bit out of breath from his run down the hall.
"Uh, yeah?" Chell answered, slightly puzzled.
"It's... probably not a *huff,huff* good idea to see her today..." he puffed, leaning on the wall slightly for support.
"Mm? Why not?" she asked sarcastically, rolling her eyes. "Is she 'not alive' today? How about 'just a computer'? Oooooh, how about 'non-sentient'? I'll give you a hint: SHE'S NONE OF THEM." She was getting quite fed up with these people's obtuseness around the issue of she and GLaDOS.
"No- she's... well... for lack of a better phrase: really, really goddamned pissed-off today." Jack admitted.
"Ohhh boy. What did you idiots do now?"
"Another core." he said bluntly. "The Fact Sphere."
The corner of Chell's mouth jumped involuntarily as she recalled that particular one's commentary. 'Oh God, I dunno whether to laugh, cry, or faint...' she thought.
"OH." She coughed out, attempting to conceal her chuckle. "Well, maybe I can... sort... that out!" she said brightly, then continued down the hall toward the Central AI Chamber.
'Wow, he wasn't kidding when he said she was pissed...' she thought as she strode into the chamber. GLaDOS's normally bright gold optic was now blood red, and her normally happy "Hello, Chell!" when the person in question walked in was reduced to a grating "Hi."
"Hi, GLaDOS. Something wrong?" Chell asked, pretending to not know about the problem- with her experience from earlier/later outside, pointing out the obvious tended to make a problem worse.
"They-They-They- THE SQUARE ROOT OF ROPE IS STRING-*kksht*" GLaDOS struggled to answer even that simple question, optic growing an even deeper red (if that was even possible) as she spoke.
"Oh. New core, huh?" Chell said sympathetically, stepping in closer to the large AI form.
"Y-yeeeeeeeRATS CANNOT THROW UP- *kssht*" GLaDOS snarled briefly in frustration, then resigned to slumping almost to the floor and nodding miserably.
"Man, they can't even get a 'Fact Sphere' right, can they?" Chell chuckled, attempting to make light of the situation. "I mean, 'The square root of rope is string'? That's just plain dumb, even for these guys."
GLaDOS said nothing, only sagging lower to the floor so that her optic touched the cool metal.
Chell frowned slightly. "Aw, c'mon." She tapped the side of GLaDOS's core gently, causing the AI to look up. Chell noticed that the blood red color had reverted to the original gold, albeit a significantly duller gold- even tinged blue around the edges.
"Chin up, huh?" Chell cracked a worried smile. "It'll be off before you know it."
GLaDOS did not appear convinced, and instead stared at the floor again.
Chell sighed, sitting cross-legged on the floor. GLaDOS had gone from pissy to inconsolably depressed in 2.5 minutes, and Chell was getting rather worried.
Almost subconsciously, she had begun to hum a small tune that popped into her head.
~Cara bella, cara mia bella...~ Chell could barely recall the rather nonsense lyrics (she suspected that they were Italian) but she tried to sing them anyway.
~Ché la stimo… Ché la stimo...~ She continued to sing softly, her words echoing slightly throughout the whole chamber. She was so preoccupied with remembering the lyrics, though, that she didn't notice GLaDOS's core make its way into her lap until almost a minute later.
~Ah, mia bambina! O cara, cara mia…~ As she finished the song, she suddenly felt a lot more pressure on her legs than earlier. She glanced down at GLaDOS's optic, hoping her current emotion to be 'yay life!' and not 'kill me now!' But what she saw was not what she had expected- GLaDOS's optic was almost completely closed, letting only a tiny sliver of golden light through.
'Is she... asleep?' Chell thought incredulously- then laughed silently as Her optic slipped shut, her core leaning against Chell completely. 'This gives a whole new meaning to sleep mode...' she thought, amused.
Chell noticed that with GLaDOS quite literally passed out on her lap, the lights were considerably dimmed. Her core was also pleasantly humming and generating quite a bit of heat.
Chell bit back a yawn. 'No! You can't fall asleep!' her brain admonished. 'Cave'll kill you, revive you, fire you, and then kill you again!'
Ohhh, but she was so tired... 'No!'
But GLaDOS was so warm... 'NO!'
It wasn't like she could leave anyway... Her mind quieted with that thought.
Chell blinked sleepily, her head coming down to rest on GLaDOS's.
Five more minutes...
A/N: This will be ongoing. Eventually. But for all you newcomers to my train-wreck writing- DO NOT expect quick updates. (Actually, to prevent your hopes from growing monstrously, just don't expect any. Then, when I do end up getting my lazy ass up and writing, you will be pleasantly surprised instead of ready to murder me in a most painful fashion! ^^) For any of my followers- you prolly know where this is going. -_-; [HINT: most likely nowhere until 2013.]