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Good-bye (My Only Friend)

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"She was a lot like you," GLaDOS' optic flashed as it scanned over Chell, wishing she could project the woman beside the test subject. She wished even harder that the scientist could be standing beside Chell alive.

 

The doors to the chamber hissed open slowly, the sound muted by the footsteps and voices of scientists and test subjects alike booming from outside the glass walls. The hustle of Aperture Science was always quite loud, never seeming to end. Even when the people were asleep, the faculty was never silent. There was a constant buzz of electricity, a constant hum of filtered air, a repeating creak of the walls around. It never ended. It always provided background static for GLaDOS, who felt that if there were no sound, she would have gone insane, could she physically have if she were not Artificial Intelligence.

The clearing of a throat, and the soft 'thunk' of the door finally re-sealing itself snapped GLaDOS from her reverie. Slowly adjusting her chasis to face the new body in the room, GLaDOS prepared for another round of interrogating questions, lining up her '"obedient" answers in mere kiloseconds. The AI prepared a witty comment, one about having done enough tests for the day, only to stop short as a new face invaded her optic. Red little flags seemed to pop up all over her internal possessor, her servos attempting to place the face of this woman to an ID she's had access to before.

"Hello. My name is Caroline, I was sent by Cave Johnson to take over your questioning, and maintenance checks." The woman supplied quickly, a smile seeming to be stuck on her face. GLaDOS watched as the human's eyes seemed to sparkle with some emotional outburst that the AI couldn't place. She recoiled slightly when she recognized there was no anger or malice in the depths of her hazel eyes. Blinking her optic, GLaDOS zoomed her camera slightly, taking in a better picture of the woman, and finally finding her employee file. Nodding her faceplate slightly, GLaDOS lowered herself further, but did not say a word.

 

"Maybe not quite as heavy." She added quickly after, deflecting away from the barrage of memories that welled inside her. GLaDOS let her chasis rise a bit higher into the air, taking pleasure in how Chell huffed, rolling her eyes in an almost playful manner in response to her insult. Turning slightly to the side, GLaDOS let herself feel the hurt, and the anguish the memories brought, but she refused to let it show in her projected voice. Holding her faceplate high, and gazing up into the broken ceiling, the AI continued, the words feeling sour and broken even as they left her speakers.

"Now little Caroline is in here too..."

 

Weeks had passed in much the same manner. GLaDOS monitored tests, and watched the cameras while Caroline would ask her questions daily, and check on her maintenance weekly. It wasn't but days in when Caroline started to open up to GLaDOS, telling her small things that she was too embarrassed to tell the other scientists.

"My cat died today." She murmured softly as she adjusted another of the AI's large wires.

"Woke up, and she was just laying there on the floor, not breathing, not moving, nothing." Her voice never wavered once as she spoke, and her hands stayed gentle.

"Her body was cold, so it happened while I was asleep, I suppose... but I took her to Doug. He said he'd bury her on the surface for me..." Her work paused, and GLaDOS could only assume the woman had let her mind be filled with the images of her deceased feline.

Staying as still as possible, GLaDOS hummed.

"I'm sorry for your loss."

 

"One day they woke me up," Caroline interrupted, her pain alighting across their shared servos and circuits like an electrical fire.

"So I could live forever..." GLaDOS didn't push her away. She let the dead woman have her moment, and watched as Chell's eyes filled with something akin to horror and recognition twisted into one.

GLaDOS didn't let it last too long.

"It's such a shame the same will never happen to you." The AI grit, optic narrowed harshly as she turned away. there wasn't much she could do in way of movement, but refusing to look at the Test subject got her point across just fine.

 

Caroline sucked in a sharp breath, everything stilling before the loud 'CLANG' of falling tools filled the room. GLaDOS tried her best to keep from flinching. Almost as quickly as the sound had come, Caroline had appeared within GLaDOS' optic range.

"You can talk!" The scientist accused, her hands balled excitedly at her chest, chestnut hair slightly askew, and hazel eyes alight with the same emotions as before. The first time they "met". Taken aback, GLaDOS pulled her faceplate away slightly, narrowing her optic suspiciously.

"Yes, I can." She returned, her answer short and clipped, just as her apology was. Caroline seemed to glow with the discovery, as if the short and angry tone hadn't been there. She seemed elated just to be in the chasis' presence.

GLaDOS wondered what kind of trick Caroline thought she could play on her.

 

Chell couldn't seem to take the hint, as she moved to align with the AI's vision again, her brows furrowed in pity, a bandaged hand seeming to reach for the large faceplate.

GLaDOS almost let her touch them both.

"You've got your short, sad life left," The chasis swung further up, the wall panels twitching in agitation.

"That's what I'm counting on."

 

Another few weeks, and GLaDOS was ashamed to say she had found herself opening up too. Whenever Caroline was around, GLaDOS seemed to lose all hope of anonymity, or of her own secrets. Caroline seemed to bring it all out, and with it she seemed to give GLaDOS just as much back. They had some sort of mutual agreement; whatever was said between them, stayed confidential between them. No one else ever would see the depths of their sorrow.

GLaDOS had made it's own file, locked and hidden away behind so many security locks that she's not sure if even she'd be able to reach those memories again.

 

"I'll let you get right to it," Summoning the elevator, GLaDOS glared pointedly at Chell, nodding in the glass case's direction. The test subject glanced at the elevator, her eyes flashing with longing for only a second before turning back to GLaDOS, determination set in them as she stepped forward again.

"Now, I only want you gone." GLaDOS insisted, ignoring Caroline's soothing vibrations she sent through their shared body, hoping to calm GLaDOS.

Chell seemed to realize she didn't have a choice, and glared angrily up to the AI.

 

It was routine, and GLaDOS loved routine. It was the only thing that kept her from falling to pieces. Watching the time on her internal possessor, GLaDOS turned to face the door at exactly 12:30:00, the time Caroline always seemed to show up, give or take a few kiloseconds.

The door stayed shut.

Hesitating, GLaDOS checked the time again, confused agitation seeping into her. Why wasn't she here? Where could she be? Is she sick? GLaDOS let the thoughts run wild as she searched the cameras, praying to Science that she could find the woman somewhere. She scanned for a few moments, but ultimately found nothing.

Where was she?

Turning to face the door again, GLaDOS tried to quell her fear and anger.

"She's just late." The AI quietly insisted, staring at the door.

"She's just late..."

 

"Good-bye my only friend..." GLaDOS' voice dropped to a lower, quieter register, the vibrations of her voice seeming to waver softly. She let Caroline's code wrap around her consciousness, attempting to wrap her own around the woman in turn. She paused for a moment, basking in the soft comfort.

Chell's eyes lit with recognition, and seemed to realize who the AI was speaking to.

 

GLaDOS was right. Caroline was late. She was late, but not in the way that GLaDOS had hoped for.

Hours later, scientists had flooded the room, setting up monitors, machines, and so many more things that even GLaDOS had trouble keeping up.

She didn't understand what was happening. Where was Caroline? Every time she asked, someone always answered with the same response.

"She'll be here soon, don't you worry."

That only made GLaDOS worry more.

 

Remembering Chell's presence, the large AI quickly added on.

"Oh. Did you think I meant you?" Her voice sneered, covering any trace of the sorrow she felt deep within. The chasis twitched as Caroline recoiled from GLaDOS' harsh words. She silently admonished her, begging her to stop treating Chell so harshly.

"she's the only living friend you have left..."

"That would be funny, if it weren't so sad." GLaDOS continued, her hurt only increasing as she spoke, her chasis lowering in challenge. She watched as Chell's hands balled tightly to fists, her chin held high as anger started to cloud her brown eyes.

 

There. There she was. GLaDOS could hear her coming. Swinging towards the door, GLaDOS waited impatiently for it to open, she waited for the female scientist to walk in and explain to GLaDOS what in Android Hell was going on.

The AI's internal fans started to whirr louder in anticipation, her optic twitching and head slightly swaying. When the doors opened, her metaphorical heart dropped to her metaphorical stomach.

Caroline was being dragged by her arms into the room, her hazel eyes wild and filled with fear. She cried out, begging that she "didn't want this!". GLaDOS didn't understand. What didn't Caroline want? What was going on?

"Caroline..?"  The AI murmured, her voice loud enough to fill the room, but still not loud enough to overpower the humans talking. The scientist who held Caroline seemed to take pause at GLaDOS' addressing the woman, and said woman in kind turned to meet eyes with the large chasis. Hurt, sorrow, and anger at once filled Caroline's eyes as she turned to glare at a man across the room.

"HENRY! SHUT HER OFF!" she cried, her voice cracking under the pressure of screaming louder than the rooms noise. Henry glared at Caroline, seeming to pause before sighing and making his way towards the large monitor in the back. Panic set in for GLaDOS as she watched Caroline continue struggling against the men gripping her arms, and turn back to GLaDOS, hurt and confusion filling the large AI's artificial brain.

 

"Well, you have been replaced, I don't need anyone now!" GLaDOS insisted, recoiling from her self, from Chell, from everything as her optic seemed to fizzle out for a moment, flickering back on just as quickly.

"When I delete you, maybe I'll stop feeling so bad..." The AI's voice cracked sorrowfully as her anger gave way. The hurt was too much. She couldn't take it, not with these memories.

Using a floor panel, GLaDOS forced Chell into the elevator, noting how the human fought against it the whole way, pleading silently with GLaDOS to ler her stay.

For just a second, it wasn't Chell fighting the panel to stay that GLaDOS saw.

For just a single second, GLaDOS saw Caroline fighting against the men, begging for her own life.

 

"GLaDOS! GLaDOS, it's okay! It's going to be okay!" The brunette insisted, her hair disheveled, knotted, and blown all over the place in her struggle. Her make-up was running down her face, proof against her claims. Whatever was going to happen was not going to be okay. "Just... Just let them shut you down, okay? It'll hurt less, I promise--!" The woman begged, a manic sort of fear taking over her.

GLaDOS couldn't do anything, she couldn't move, she couldn't speak, all she could do was see, and hear. Henry hadn't shut her down. He'd just switched off her autonomy.

Cold fear gripped GLaDOS as she watched Caroline be drug to the chair-like machine in the center of the room, sobbing pleas filling the air around them as she was strapped down, and stuck with needles and metal plates all over her body. Crying out, Caroline threw back her head, letting one last "GO TO HELL!" before an ear splitting scream filled the room, cut off short with a surge of electricity that cut all the power to the room.

GLaDOS felt the surge hit her chasis, and her entire body spasmed, another scream ripping through the room, this one louder and more shrill. The pain wouldn't stop, it just kept going and going endlessly.

The AI didn't even realize the scream was hers until everything went offline, and her body fell numb with her shutdown.

 

Once the elevator doors had firmly shut and locked Chell inside, GLaDOS continued, ignoring the mute girl banging on the glass.

"You want your freedom? Take it!" she insisted, starting up the machine, watching as the test subject rose higher and higher, ignoring the pang of sorrow at watching her cry.

"You're someone else's problem now..." The AI's words lost their edge. Caroline's presence was once again lost in her code. Chell was leaving.

GLaDOS was alone again.

"I only want you gone..."