Author's Note: After making (almost) everyone cry with my fluffy Valentine's Day fic called These Old Bones, I figured I'd better write something nice where everyone is still alive. There was the suggestion to do an alternate ending where Chell does accept the treatment, but I figured some things just need to be left how they are. Personally I think it's some of the best dialogue that I've written, so instead I'll write another story. There's always more room for ChellDOS in our fat, greedy little hearts.
"What are you doing here, Tubby? It is not your designated Semi-Regular Day of Infiltration and Interruptions." GLaDOS grumbled, the metal of her chassis giving a groan as she spun around to face the elevator. "It's not Friday, it's not Thursday. It isn't even Wednesday. You're early. And you didn't even call to let me know beforehand. What kind of monster does that to a person? I might have been incredibly busy and have no time for you. Then you would have wasted all your efforts, and it would have been your fault. Not mine. But you probably would have murdered me for it anyway."
"So you don't want me to test?" Chell raised an eyebrow.
"What kind of question is that? Of course I want you to test. I always want you to test. If you hadn't been so desperate to leave me here all alone, then-"
"So what you're saying is you weren't actually doing anything?"
"Yes I was. I was doing...important, science-based things that you'd never understand." GLaDOS argued.
"That's funny. It sounded to me like you were singing to a box full of birds." She thumbed the direction of the screeching beasts, which quickly had a cloth tossed over their prison to muffle both the sound and hopefully cause them to want to sleep.
"I wasn't singing. I was teaching them their war songs so that they can frighten their enemies while swooping into battle."
"Sounded more like Mary Had a Little Lamb to me." Chell scoffed, a small smirk upon her face as she looked up at the yellow eye of her robotic companion.
"Yes. Mary had a little lamb, whose fleece was made of razor sharp barbs coated in botulinum toxin. And everywhere that Mary went, spores of botulinum were sure to germinate and grow. Thus causing widespread panic and death, and leaving Mary a perfect candidate for a federal prison sentence for mass murder and crimes against humanity."
"I may be missing a few parts of my childhood, but I'm almost certain that's not how the song goes. But hey; it's none of my business."
"Why are you here, anyway?" GLaDOS queried, welcoming the topic change that would negate the need to explain away her momentary stumble into the adorably cute trap that those pesky little monsters had laid for her. How dare they coax her into singing for them!
"No reason. Just took the day off. Figured I'd come down here and talk to you." The former test subject muttered, shuffling her feet a little under the supercomputer's scrutinizing gaze.
"You're definitely not here for testing. You didn't bring your boots. You don't come down here just to talk to me. Is it some kind of human holiday up there?"
"No! I don't know why you'd think that." Chell was far too quick at answering that, and she bit her tongue when she realized that GLaDOS was probably syphoning some kind of information from somewhere by her silence.
"Valentine's Day. Hm. Apparently it is an obligation for humans to buy each other flowers and chocolate, and spout meaningless promises to one another in an attempt to be romantic. This is apparently something that they can't do any other day of the year. Are you really buying into that nonsense?"
"No." Chell muttered, before plonking her backside down on the nearby desk that held the main computer console. It was a half truth. "I'm just...sick of seeing all those flowers and hearts and little teddy bears that have 'I love you' written all over them." She poked her tongue out with a grimace.
"What you mean is that you haven't received any, despite the fact that you assure me constantly that you are quite popular in your new life amongst your fellow primates."
What was the point in lying?
She gave a reluctant nod. "Yeah."
"That's surprising." Her unexpected announcement must have caught the test subject off guard, because her blue eyes turned up to meet her from where they were scraping the floor.
"Yes. I would have expected that you would be inundated with requests to procreate."
"I swear, if you make any jokes about child bearing hips..."
"I wasn't about to do any such thing. What kind of person do you take me for? I was just going to point out the benefits of having love handles."
Chell set her jaw and eyes in a stony glare.
"Also, upon further observation in comparison to other members of the human race, I have determined that you aren't, in fact, entirely unpleasant to look at. Believe me, that's a bonus. So you have that. Perhaps the saying that the meek will rule the world has finally come to fruition and they are intimidated by your tenacity. You should work on that." GLaDOS added, her voice only slightly warmer. But it still managed to bring about a little smile to the dark haired woman's face.
"You're terrible at compliments."
"They're actually my best feature. Besides intelligence and stunning good looks, of course."
"Oh, I have plenty." The AI reassured her.
An awkward little silence fell over the two of them as the test subject swung her legs over the edge of the desk, not really knowing what to say. GLaDOS had been right about her never coming down here just to talk. Despite her popularity, she'd never quite gotten the whole small-talk thing. She liked to be around people, but testing was a way for her to interact with GLaDOS without having to come up with lengthy conversations to keep her interested. It was probably incredibly boring for her to have to wait all that time for her to process what had been said, think of something to say, and then to actually say it. And now she was only dragging it out.
"You probably think I'm pathetic, huh?"
"Well, ha ha. Laugh it up, because- what?"
"I don't think you're pathetic. I think you're alone, dateless, and too chubby for your own good. But you're not pathetic. One of those things has already been remedied, and the other would take far too long to accomplish in one night unless I drag the liposuction machine out of storage."
"That still leaves me dateless. Which is the point of this stupid holiday."
"You never were very patient. Close your eyes."
"Are you trying to set me up with a turret again like you did on my birthday? Nerf darts in replacement of bullets still don't make for great dinner conversation. Then again, neither do turrets."
"Close your eyes." GLaDOS repeated more firmly this time, and her will was met with an exasperated sigh. But she'd done it, and that was what was important.
Immediately she switched off the lights to the main AI chamber, the delicate manipulation claws coming out from the floor to deposit a small table and a chair nearer to her chassis. A checkered tablecloth was flicked out over the top of it, and one by one, pieces of cutlery and dishes of food were put into position.
Chell opened her eyes just in time to see a claw shaking out a smoking match as the last candle was lit, bathing the immediate area in a golden glow. Everything else was shrouded in a darkness so deep that she could barely even see the supercomputer, save for that yellow eye and the fact she was leaning in close to the table. And the table in question was laden with the most delicious looking hunk of roast beef that she had ever seen in her entire life; dripping with fatty goodness and surrounded by all the trappings. Roast potato, carrots and pumpkin, bright green peas and beans. And a bottle of a delicious looking red wine that was currently being poured into a wine glass that sparkled in the candlelight.
"Don't think that you're special or anything. You owe me dinner, you monster."
The test subject dumbly blinked at the supercomputer looming there at the edge of the light.
"What? Would you have preferred lamb?"
She let out a bark of laughter, and slid off the desk. "Actually, roast beef sans neurotoxin sounds just fine to me."
With a couple of sniffs, she followed her nose eagerly towards the table where the chair was pulled out for her by another claw. A napkin was placed over her lap before GLaDOS backed away a little bit to watch her curiously. The beef had already been carved up and served, with a mouth-watering pinkness in the centre and crispy outer edge. It was cooked to perfection, and best of all, it was still hot. All that was left was to pick up the gravy boat and slather the fragrant sauce all over it.
Chell took a tentative bite from the end of her fork, and just about fell out of her chair.
"Oh my god. This is delicious." She almost moaned.
"It's food. Of course you like it. Now talk to me, because apparently I've been forced into becoming your date this evening and I deserve at least that much. I know I said you weren't pathetic before, but you are spending Valentine's Day with a computer instead of getting yourself impregnated through the improper application of prophylactic devices. Just remember that."
"Hn." Chell snorted, and turned her eyes back to her food. She was probably eating a little too quickly, even though there was plenty to spare. But it was pretty damn good. GLaDOS actually deserved the compliment she had gotten for it.
Another little silence fell over them before she felt the supercomputer staring at her again, and she felt compelled to meet her optic. GLaDOS was just hanging there, a little tilt in her head. As far as Chell was concerned, she was spending too much time with those birds to be picking up habits like that.
"Do you actually want mini humans?" the AI queried. It sounded genuine.
"Oh. I uh-...I don't really know. Maybe. One day. I'll have to find someone first, and-"
"Calm down, and stop babbling. I was just curious. I'm not going to test it by stringing you up and filling you with various-"
"Just stop there. That sounds disgusting. I'm perfectly capable of finding a partner. I just...haven't yet. That's all." Chell waved a hang with a grimace. She was quite glad that GLaDOS hadn't decided to serve cauliflower and white sauce. She wasn't sure she could handle it after that mental image. Still, it didn't stop her from shoving some more taters into her gob. They didn't even bear the distinctly metallic taste of Aperture.
It was slightly strange, having the AI watching over her while she ate. It was a far cry from having those red-eyed cameras secretly watching. With those, she could practically pretend she was still alone. Not here though. And yet, she found she didn't mind it as GLaDOS swayed back and forth like some kind of snake waiting to strike. It was rather hypnotising, and lulled her into a restful state. The rest of her dinner was eaten in silence, and she couldn't help but wipe up the last of the gravy from the plate to suck it from her finger. Chell wished there was more room in her belly, but she knew that her generous portion had been more than enough to keep her filled for a good while.
"So...Was it any good?"
GLaDOS looked eager to hear the results of her decidedly non-scientific labours that had definitely taken longer than just a couple of minutes to create. It was almost endearing, and made the test subject smile. The table and chairs were whisked away faster than they had appeared the moment that Chell had stood up, so she found that crossing the floor to stand in front of the white-faced giant was unimpeded.
"It was great. And thanks for putting up with me. I know I probably set science back twenty years."
"Fine. I set back science by thirty years by being a dateless loser, but I appreciate it. One day I'll figure out a way to repay you for actually being nice to me for once."
"I accept cash, credit, cheques, test results and the donation of your still warm corpse to science." GLaDOS helpfully informed her.
It was with a little guffaw that Chell actually wrapped her arms around the supercomputer's head for a hug.
"Oh no. Get off me! Are you performing a manual override? HELP! HELP! SHE'S KILLING ME! Orange! Blue!" the AI yelled, though it was hardly as serious as it could have been. Their relationship had changed too much by now for it to be little more than a joke.
"Very funny." The horrible lunatic pressed her mouth to the cool metal of her faceplate.
"Ugh. Disgusting. Keep your gravy soaked lips away from my optic. I have to see out of that, you know. I don't need brown streaks everywhere."
Chell was sure she would have grimaced if her face was capable of showing that kind of emotion. Instead, the supercomputer had to settle for shrinking the glowing yellow light to show her distaste for the woman's choice of actions. But she scrubbed the smudges away from the whiteness anyway, if just to placate her. She wasn't about to make mention of the fact that GLaDOS was pretty much covered in grime and cracked paint anyway. After all, the test subject was the one that was responsible for her period of enforced downtime that led to her looking like that in the first place.
"Thanks again for dinner. I'll be back on Friday, as usual." Chell emphasised with a small pat on the AI's head, so there wouldn't be any more misunderstandings.
"No wonder you can't get a date. That's when most normal humans are out ingesting poison and flailing their bodies under strobe lights. I assume they are testing some hypothesis regarding seizures, though I can't imagine how that is conducive to finding a permanent mate. Perhaps it helps them to determine which partner is most likely to stay with them in times of sickness and stupidity."
"Actually, it's more so that they can get drunk and fuck like rabbits without worrying about what happens in the morning."
"Hm. Hypothesis one: Sensory input from flashing lights causes an increase in sexual impulses and memory loss. I'll have to test this..." GLaDOS murmured, starting to turn away in thought.
"You are NOT testing it on me, so don't even think about it." Chell warned, holding up a finger as she entered the elevator.
"I wasn't going to!" GLaDOS protested, quickly scrubbing her name off the file she was building of potential test subjects.
"You'd better not." But the doors closed and returned the female to the surface with a little smile on her face. She wasn't around to hear the AI's final words.
"I was going to test you on hypothesis two. That slipping aphrodisiacs into your wine and sending you off to play with the other humans will result in more humans. Phase one of testing, complete."
GLaDOS ticked it off the list, and turned her attention back to her birds.
"Now. You will all join me for a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Turret. Begin."