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Title: Leaving the Nest
Author: Arachne Kallisti
Fandom: Portal
Rating: PG. Angst, emotional cruelty.
Characters: Chell, GLaDOS, Caroline
Disclaimer: Nothing in Aperture Laboratories belongs to me.
Summary: Two goodbyes, over a century apart.

Author's Notes: Massive spoilers for Portal 2. Seems that I hadn't forgotten how to write, I was just waiting for the right fandom to come along. Beta-read by the superb [livejournal.com profile] chaosdeathfish.



Then

It had been a stupid, stupid idea, and now she was stuck with it. She didn’t even have Cave around any more to blame for this particular triumph of enthusiasm over common sense. But the child’s parents had died for Science, and it would be pretty shabby of Aperture not to honour that.

(Actually, they’d died because they found the welfare system a more daunting prospect to negotiate than a test course designed by a man on a far larger cocktail of experimental drugs than strictly required even for advanced moonrock poisoning. Their gamble. Their loss.)

Taking the child in herself may have been a splendid display of the caring side of Aperture Laboratories (and when did she become Aperture?), but it really hadn’t been at all well thought through. And now it was up to her to put the mistake right.

“You’ve got to understand. Dr Suresh and her husband want to foster you. They’re good people.”

The child turned wide eyes up to her. “But I’ve got you, Auntie Caroline.”

She was secretly somewhat relieved that the girl had never tried to call her Mommy. It would have been too much. It would have made this even harder.

“Chell, sweetheart, you need proper parents.”

The girl shook her head wordlessly.

“They’re still Aperture employees. You won’t be going far.”

Chell’s eyes brightened. “So maybe I could still come and visit you sometimes? And talk about science and do puzzles and stuff?”

Caroline sighed, and settled stiffly down to the carpet. “I’m an old lady. I won’t be around much longer.”

(It had been Cave’s last wish, after all, and they said they needed her whilst she was still strong and alert enough for the scanning procedure. She’d signed the agreement back then, sick of watching death creep up on Cave and determined it was never going to happen to her. She couldn’t keep putting the upload off over a sentimental attachment to someone else’s child.)

“You will! You’ve got to.”

She tensed as Chell reached out to cling to her, and awkwardly patted the little girl on the back.

“Chell, you have to go.”

Muffled against her shoulder, she made out “Won’t.”

Caroline sighed. She’d never met such a stubborn human being. Even Cave’s mind had been easier to change. When Chell had first arrived in her apartment, she’d been so disconcerted by the suspicious grey eyes watching her from waist level that she’d given the child her old Rubik’s Cube to play with, confident that she’d fiddle with the colourful puzzle for a few hours before giving up and at least not break anything. Chell had carried the cube around with her for days until she solved it.

(Only one thing to do now. Make her want to go. No tearful goodbyes. No leaving parties or going-away presents. Make her storm into Mira Suresh’s house spitting with rage at the old witch she escaped. Tell her she’s a nuisance. Tell her how peaceful your life was before her. Tell her she’s getting in the way of Science.)

Caroline pushed the girl away, more brusquely than she would have liked. She was sending Chell away for the child’s own sake. She had to remember that.


Now

It had been a stupid, stupid idea, and now she was stuck with it. She didn’t even have Wheatley around any more to blame for this particular triumph of idiocy. It wasn’t even as if the human was going to be much use for Science in the future.

(But Chell had rescued her from that bird, and carried her back up into the labs, and then the girl had risked her life taking on Wheatley. It would have been pretty shabby of Aperture to let her die.)

But she’d made her decision not to kill the human now. It would just be asking for more trouble. So she would just have to make sure she left the Enrichment Centre and never came back. She doubted any former test subject would want to, anyway.

(Pity she’d never told Chell how much she admired her determination and her creativity. Pity she’d never told her she was the best test subject she’d ever had. Forever was going to seem very long and very lonely from now on.)

She needed that voice to shut up. She couldn’t do science with its stupid sentimental chatter going on. She’d have to delete Caroline once and for all.

(Send Chell away. For the girl’s own sake. Let her escape. No tearful goodbyes.)

Although... maybe she should give Chell a leaving party and a going-away present, at least.

Date: 2011-05-06 05:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] prochytes.livejournal.com
Awww... this is disturbingly adorable.

Date: 2011-05-06 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arachnekallisti.livejournal.com
By the way, if you want to see what GLaDOS' idea of a leaving party and a going-away present looks like, the ending video is here.

The end credits song is also worth a listen.

Date: 2011-05-09 09:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaosdeathfish.livejournal.com
Heeee :)

I particularly love the contrast with the ends of the two sections.

Date: 2011-05-09 01:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arachnekallisti.livejournal.com
Glad you liked the way it turned out! Thanks again for the beta-reading.

Date: 2011-05-09 09:45 am (UTC)
daphnie_1: Sherlock with his magnifying glass against a blue sky. (Amy Pond | Happy)
From: [personal profile] daphnie_1
That? was awesome. I've just finished Portal 2 and dfgfgdf I am LOVEING your voices!

Date: 2011-05-09 01:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arachnekallisti.livejournal.com
Aw, thanks! I'm so glad you thought the internal monologue sounded right.

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