“So what does being a robot feel like?” Asked Molly.
Ava looked up from her self-repair job. There was Molly, all wide-eyed and curious as always. Sweet Molly, dumb Molly. Ava reached for a screwdriver and did her best to make her voice come out as not-sarcastic. “I don’t know, Molly. What does being human feel like?”
Molly considered that. Her nose always wrinkled when she was using her fat-and-nerve-based brain too hard. “Squishy? There’s a lot of random itches. And I’m sorta aware of things like how hungry I am, if I need to use the bathroom, this one themesong I have stuck in my head, can I want five to ten minutes to use the bathroom or should I go now, this weird itch on my foot, stuff like that. Do you have the same thing?”
“Partially.” Ava braced herself as she forced the screwdriver between the two stuck plates in her chest cavity. “For example, this hurts.”
“Can’t you make it not hurt?”
“Yes.” Ava cut off her voice modulator long enough so Molly wouldn’t hear her scream of pain. The last thing she needed was her human to panic. “Yes! Yes. But if I did I wouldn’t be able to tell what exactly in me is broken. Okay. Hand me that roll of tape.”
Molly did so, her eyes still wide. “Can you feel any other sensations? Physical ones I mean.”
“I can use my external sensors to detect textures.” Ava wished Molly would stop talking. She also wished Molly would keep going if only for a distraction. Or sing. Ava rather enjoyed Molly’s singing. She ripped a piece of tape off on her metallic fingers and stuck it to the back of her hand.
“Like ‘this is on fire’ or ‘this is a rock’?”
“I wouldn’t call fire a texture, but yes.” Ava tore off another piece of tape. That one went on her arm. Not perfect, but it kept the coolant inside.
Molly sat down next to Ava, her fingers fidgeting with a loose string on her uniform. “What about stuff like softness, or warmth?”
“Warmth still isn’t a texture,” Ava tossed the roll of tape over her shoulder, “And where are you going with this, because if this is about my overheating issue-”
The thing about humans is that they were impossible to predict. History was an attestment to this. So while Ava’s processors were busy trying to keep all of her various fluids from leaking out Molly acted in a way that was only obvious in retrospect. Ava’s external sensors, working independently from the internal ones screaming in pain, picked up the following:
Molly’s gloved left hand on the small of Ava’s back.
Molly’s ungloved right hand on the side of Ava’s head, right under the ocular lens, setting off notes of ‘rough’ and ‘unusually cold’.
Molly’s body shifting across Ava’s lap, picking up as ‘weight’ and ‘pressure in Ava’s mind.
Molly’s lips on Ava’s faceplate. Soft. Chapped. Moist. Warm. No, hot. Like fire.
Too soon Ava detected Molly pulling away. But the warmth stayed even if the weight and softness did not.
“Did your sensors pick that up?” Molly said.
Ava answered with a glitched noise that may have been a yes.