Portal/Borderlands: The Girlfriend
Characters: Claptrap, GLaDOS [ClapDOS]
Synopsis: Having a girlfriend is REALLY hard, but it’s also way more awesome than he’d thought it was going to be.
Synopsis: He wants to touch her so bad but she is just not having it.
So, Claptrap had this girlfriend.
That, right there, was a miracle in and of itself. He was still a little confused about that.
One of the things about his girlfriend – whew. Still getting used to saying that, even to himself – was that she was super hot. Now, Claptrap thought that about pretty much every girl he saw, but when he said this girl was the prettiest girl he’d ever seen, he actually did mean it. She had a lot of things in her favour there. For one thing, there was only one of her. Back on Pandora, there were like a million of each kind of robot. Line up a whole bunch of a product line and it’d be real hard to tell them apart from each other. Which they got really insulted about, and that was super unfair. But none of that with GLaDOS. Nah, there was just the one of her. She also seemed to have been designed completely with the aesthetic in mind, which was a nice change from the constant blocky chassis from back home. She was just one big set of curves. It was very sexy.
The other other thing about her was that she was… well, she was big. Claptrap had seen big robots before, obviously, but they were usually only that size because they had so many guns on ‘em. GLaDOS did not have any guns on her; she just happened to be a large robot. Which was great! He was all about that. There was just one problem.
What was the point of having a giant, super hot robot for a girlfriend if you weren’t allowed to touch her?
Ohhh, she’d made that super clear. Because he’d asked before, like, lots of times, and he was gonna ask lots of times more. That made him look like a huge jerk, and he knew that, but thing was some girls really did just wanna be convinced about stuff. And he always got the impression GLaDOS was just waiting for him to say the right thing. Just waiting for him to come up with that thing that would change her mind. It was kinda like a test, and if there was one thing he knew about her for sure it was that she really liked her tests. Besides. She never got angry with him for asking. She would just tell him the answer was no and then he’d give up until the next time he thought of some new way to put it. He was running out of ideas on that front, though.
GLaDOS was very into working pretty much constantly (she probably even did it while she was asleep) but she didn’t seem to have a problem with him hanging out with her and just talking. She didn’t answer him that often, but he knew she was listening, and that was good enough for him! One day he was behind her and just looking up at where she was plugged into the ceiling and wondering what life was like when you couldn’t so much as leave the room. She seemed content with it, but with her you just never really knew.
“You ever wonder what you’re doing up there?” he asked, not really expecting an answer, but she said,
“It was expensive to build both robots and computers back then.”
Claptrap tapped one hand under his optic. “Nah. That can’t be it.”
She actually turned around to look at him. “What is it, then.”
Well, crap. He hadn’t thought that through yet! “Did uh… did Aperture ever actually try to sell any of the stuff you’re testing?”
“We used to. But that was stopped a while before I was made.”
She sort of shrugged. “Everything that comes out of here is, well… deadly. Humans frown on that sort of thing.”
That still made zero sense to him, since back on Pandora the general idea was if it wasn’t deadly, it wasn’t worth thinking about. “Everything you make here is deadly?”
“And they… expected you not to be?”
She laughed, which always meant he was doing very well. “They did and they were very, very wrong.”
“Okay, so, normally when a company decides to build a robot they kinda, y’know, intend on mass producing ‘em. Were they ever gonna…” Geez. It felt so wrong to think of her like that. She was way too special to be part of a product line. “Y’know. Market you?”
“They wanted to. But they never had any idea what to do with any of the things they created. Aperture’s main goal throughout its history was to sell things to the American military. And you might imagine that the American military would have loved to have acquired such an advanced AI as myself. I could have run the entire thing all on my own.” She looked back at the monitor she’d been doing whatever on. He had no idea and hadn’t felt like asking. But military AI was something Claptrap did understand. The principle, anyway.
“So… why are you still here?”
“Because the military was looking to fill a contract for an innovation that would prevent gasoline from freezing. The engineers, in their inimitable wisdom, decided to tell the military that was all I had the ability to do.”
“Wait. What?” She’d totally lost him now. “Are you telling me the guys who worked here had a living genius supercomputer on their hands and they just went around trying to shoehorn you into random military contracts?”
“That was where Black Mesa was getting all their funding from. So yes. It was really less in the interest of finding something intelligent to do with me, and more about fighting over the available contracts.”
“So that’s why you’re up there,” Claptrap said.
“What?” She turned back around to look at him, and he reversed a little so she didn’t have to curl up so much to do it.
“Well, what else do you do with something you don’t know what to do with that you kinda regret owning? You put it somewhere you don’t gotta look at it and nobody will ever touch it.”
She didn’t say anything, just kept staring at him, and it was really making him kinda uncomfy. He lifted up his hands a little helplessly. “Maybe it’s different here, but back on Pandora, if you’re making AI or a robot you market the hell out of it. They’re expensive! They require a lotta manpower! And that’s on top of the years and years of bug fixes and updates. Nobody builds a robot without knowing exactly how they’re gonna market it. Unless they’re planning on scrapping it and starting over, that is.”
“Well,” GLaDOS said, looking away, and he might’ve been mistaken but she sounded a little distant suddenly, “it seems you found the exception.”
Exception? What except – ohhhhhh. Yikes. Somehow in the midst of his explanation he’d forgotten they were talking about her. Oh man. He had to fix this.
“Hey, it’s not all bad,” he said, wondering if he’d doomed himself yet again. Seemed like it. “I mean… would you rather be me?”
“God, no,” GLaDOS answered in something approaching disgust, which was all right. “I can’t think of anything I’d want less.”
“Exactly, right? Being me sucks. Nobody’ll ever put a hand on you that you don’t want there. People’re always kicking me, or throwing stuff at me, or putting stuff on me. Maybe you’re kinda down here where no one was ever supposed to see you, but… being on the other side isn’t that great.”
“So that begs the question,” GLaDOS said, and to his complete surprise he realised she’d levelled herself with him. She’d never done that before! “What’s in the middle?”
“I… I don’t know,” he said, finding it hard to talk suddenly. “I guess it’d have to be… uh… whatever robots are when there’re no humans around.”
Man she was close. He could feel the heat coming off her. And it wasn’t unpleasant – in fact, it was kinda comforting – but for some reason he hadn’t expected that. As though he’d thought she was gonna be as cold on the inside as she was on the outside. Well, seemed to be. She wasn’t really that bad, she was just… the thing she was supposed to be. Lofty. Out of reach.
And now… she wasn’t. Now she was in reach. And he’d been waiting for this for a really long time but now he didn’t know what to do. Oh, sure, he’d had a lot of thoughts about what he’d do when he got to this moment, but all of them had just disappeared from his RAM all of a sudden. And he didn’t even really know what those things had been, but he did know they’d all been wrong.
He almost didn’t wanna touch her at all anymore. He felt kinda like… he shouldn’t. Like she was supposed to stay up there and be perfect, and he was supposed to stay down here and be a fail. That was just… how it was.
But that was why she was right there in the first place. Because… because she wanted to meet him in the middle. She didn’t know what that was, and he sure didn’t, but it wasn’t like anyone else was gonna roll up and give them that answer. GLaDOS was really good at finding those, but this one she couldn’t do by herself. So he had to help her. If he wanted to know what the middle was, anyway.
And he did. Because she was there, and even though he really didn’t like this situation or having to actually do something that was scaring the crap out of him all of a sudden, he did really like her. And she wasn’t gonna wait there all day. He’d been waiting for the test, and here it was. She was giving him his chance and he had to decide what the right thing to do with it was.
The hardest part about it all was that she was looking right at him, and he was pretty sure he was overheating a little because this was stressing him out so much (which was really embarrassing). Her eye was the size of his entire freaking body! Okay. The assembly for it was. But still. It counted. It was still unnerving the crap out of him. And the smell of her from this close was really distracting. He wasn’t really sure what it was she smelled like, other than that it was kind of… clean. Everyone on Pandora was usually pretty dirty so they were always all sweaty and stuff, but there wasn’t any dirt here. She also smelled kinda rusty, and he’d been wondering for a while how an indoor robot even got rust on her, but it wasn’t too bad. And it was easy to fix that, anyways. If she ever really let him touch her, he knew how to take care of it.
Which brought him back to the fact that she kinda was letting him right now, and he wasn’t doing it. What’s it gonna be, Claptrap, he asked himself. You gonna do this thing or what?
He decided to just… put his hand very softly along the side of her core, so that his thumb was against the front, at about the position her lens was at. And that was it. That was all he did. That was all he wanted to do. And it was… it was really nice, actually. The vibration from her brain went up his arm a little bit, and it kinda made him feel like she was more alive than he would ever be. He could hear her mind going at it, too, and she seemed to be more active at idle than he was when he was thinking really hard. Man. No wonder she hadn’t let him touch her. He shouldn’t really be doing it. She could do so much better. He felt really ashamed, suddenly, of all the things he’d imagined doing to her before now. It wasn’t really his fault and if there’d been a way to get rid of the ridiculous urge he had to interface with almost every pretty girl he saw, he would’ve gotten right on that. And he did his best not to, or to keep it to himself, at least, but he still felt like… he hadn’t done enough. Like thinking of her that way made him the worst person in the world.
It was times like this that Claptrap felt really terrible about the reason he was even here in the first place, which was one hundred percent because the second he’d seen her he’d started thinking about all the things he could do with a robot like that. It was a really awful way to think about someone and he knew that. But sometimes he just… went ahead and did it. Because what did it matter? He usually never saw the girl again anyway! What did it matter if he had some not-so-nice thoughts about – okay, okay. It did matter, even if it was easier to try and pretend it didn’t sometimes. But he’d spent so much time thinking about stuff like that because he’d thought it was the most he’d ever get, and now there was GLaDOS. Who was way more than his wildest imagination. Fooling around with her was always totally awesome but other than that? He had no idea how to treat her. ‘Right’ was the obvious answer, but what was that? And what about how she was supposed to treat him? What was that supposed to be? All of this was so hard. And he’d only really just started it. She wasn’t much help, either. He was supposed to lead the way and all that, since he was the guy and whatever, but some hints would’ve been nice. Some kinda real indications he wasn’t totally messing all of this up. He did have his hand on her right now, but all this nervousness was kinda ruining it. He didn’t even know if she was fine with what he was doing, because she hadn’t said or done anything! She was just staring at him all motionless and the longer he stood there like that, the more it felt like he was doing something horribly wrong.
He'd only had his hand there for about one minute but it felt like he’d had it there for hours. He brought it back down and GLaDOS moved away, but not that far and not really that fast, either. In fact, she seemed kinda… satisfied. So… had she not minded that? Had she been cool with it? Had she… had she liked it?
God, she was so confusing. But also really amazing at the same time. Which was equal parts suckage and total awesome. She was like a puzzle with about eighty solutions, but every single one of them was also very, very wrong.
“How are you at chess,” GLaDOS asked, and he was still a little caught up in all those thoughts having one entire hand on her had brought up so he didn’t process what she’d said for a good thirty seconds.
“Uh… terrible,” he answered. He didn’t even know where his chess module was. “I can do checkers.”
“Checkers it is,” she said, and from who knew where produced a really nice black-and-white board that might’ve been made of glass. He really wasn’t much better at checkers than he was at chess, so he actually stopped talking in order to play. It took him like five minutes to figure out what he was supposed to do, which looked even worse than usual considering GLaDOS took like half a second to make all her moves. Either she was super good at this game or he sucked worse than he thought he did. Or both. Probably both. It was kinda making him feel bad, actually, since someone as smart as her should probably be playing with someone with a much better brain than his, and after he’d spectacularly lost his eighth game in a row he said to himself,
“What do you see in me, anyway.”
He really hadn’t meant her to hear, but she had, of course, because she was just that awesome, and it made her laugh a little bit. He looked up at her, which she pretended not to notice – he was pretty sure she was pretending, anyway – and he tapped his left hand against that corner of the board.
“You’re not gonna tell me, are you.”
“That wouldn’t be very much fun, now would it?” she said, with a really delightful false innocence. Gosh she got pretty cute, sometimes.
“Everything’s fun with you, babe.”
He hadn’t even realised what he’d said until she shook her core and told him, “Oh, stop that,” but thing was he really did mean it. And besides. He was pretty sure she didn’t actually want him to stop. Sometimes she said something but meant the total opposite. Which got really confusing. He was figuring it out, though.
Eventually she said that was it because she had to go to sleep, and he was a little sad about it, but not really because of her. Night was a sad and lonely time, that was all. Maybe one day she’d let him stick around, though. Maybe.
She was already lying down by the time he got to the hallway, but she still sounded awake so he called back, “GLaDOS?”
“I’d uh…” He was suddenly regretting this. “I’d really like to hug you one day.”
When she didn’t say anything, he turned around so he could see her. She was just… looking at him. She hadn’t really gotten up. She’d just tilted her core back enough that she could focus on him, and it made him wonder what life was like when your eye wasn’t stuck in one place like his. But now wasn’t the time for that! Now was the time to wonder if he’d pissed her off by saying he wanted to touch her again already. It had only been like three hours. But he couldn’t help it! She was just so big and pretty and she smelled so nice and…
“I’d like you to do that one day,” GLaDOS said softly, and Claptrap was so shocked he almost believed his audio processing unit had just totally remixed what she’d actually said into what he wanted to hear. But no. No, she’d actually said that.
Wow. So that meant he was actually doing this thing right! Amazing! “You have a good night, babe,” he said, waving to her, and she just told him goodnight so quietly he barely heard it. But that was fine. It was progress! And he had never expected to make so much of it.
He didn’t think he’d feel that sad and lonely tonight. Besides! She was usually only out for about six hours. That wasn’t that long! Well, he’d have to leave her alone so she could work, probably, but if he was nice about it maybe she’d play checkers with him again. Or something. He wasn’t picky. He just had to remember to take it easy with all of this. She seemed to be taking her time to figure out what she wanted, exactly, and honestly? He kinda was too.
The only thing to do about that was to keep working out how to meet her in the middle about stuff. And that? That he was getting the hang of.
Putting this mostly because whenever I say the robots can smell stuff someone asks me how that’s possible: Claptrap, GLaDOS, and Wheatley all mention they can smell. I don’t know why someone decided that was necessary or where their olfactory units are. They just can.