Passing Mustard

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Passing Mustard

I gently pressed the brake pedal while navigating up the long private driveway. Gravel crunched under the tires as I parked my car outside, near the large entrance to my father’s house. It was a large, fancy house, just this side of a mansion. The type of building you’d expect a millionaire who didn’t like to flaunt his wealth too-much would own. My father was a self-made man, a true rags-to-riches story, although my cheap car parked out front stood in stark contrast to that image.

The sun had set but golden light still filled the sky, leaping off the undersides of the clouds and bathing the world in a warm and calming glow. I turned to my date. She was dressed in an elegant red dress, with only a simple necklace adorning her. I still couldn’t get over how amazing she looked in that dress, and how adorable she was. Her short light brown hair added a nice contrast to her remarkably pale skin. It was hard to believe this gorgeous curvy woman sitting next to me was the same awkward girl I met a few months ago. And in many ways, she wasn’t.

“I don’t know if I can do this, Rick.” Her leg was bouncing in place as her hands clenched the hem of her dress.

I put my hand on hers and calmed her down. “Of course you can. He’ll love you. We got this, Ayla.” She moved her hand out from under mine, and put it on top, pressing my hand against her leg. She held her breath as I squeezed her bare thigh. It seemed to help her calm down, although now I was getting excited.

She smiled without looking up and nodded. “Yeah. WE got this.”

I shut off the car engine and opened the door. It was a good car, but cheap. I did my best to take care of it, one of the many virtues my dad taught me, but the Aston Martin in the garage nearby reminded me of what I could have had. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I didn’t want or need his money. I was happy making my own way through life.

I walked with confidence to the other side of the car, fine rocks crunching under every step, and opened the door for Ayla. She looked up at me and reached out for a hand. Naturally, I obliged her and helped her up.

Ayla stood there for a moment, catching her balance in her high heel shoes on gravel, before straightening out her dress. It looked stunning on her. Even though she was only 5 foot 5, her slim build made her look a foot taller. She took a moment to adjust her chest as well, even though the dress did not reveal much there. When she was finally ready, she gave me a sweet but nervous smile and took my arm in hand.

Together we slowly approached the large intimidating entrance with a tall door rounded on the top. A metal exterior door protected the wooden one behind it which had a fancy stained glass window inlaid in it.

“I didn’t know they made doors this big,” she said through her teeth looking up at it. I could hear her whimper. It wasn’t every day you took your girlfriend to meet your dad for the first time.

“It’s ok. It’s only a door. I swear he’s not a giant or anything.” I replied in a low tone. It made her chuckle a little, but as soon as we reached the stone landing, her grip on me tightened. I could feel her nervous energy through her touch as I reached out and pushed the doorbell.

A cacophony of bells that sounded as if they were chiming from a church half a mile away alerted the sole resident within that his guests had arrived. Ayla’s mouth hung open as she looked for the source of the sound.

“Wow,” she whispered. “It’s like in the movies.” She started to step back but I held her tight and she didn’t resist.

The sudden click of a lock being opened made Ayla hop in place with a small yelp. She covered her mouth for a moment and then donned a smile and prepared to meet my dad. Light from the large central hall spilled out of the door frame and onto the landing as the door swung open.

“Welcome to the team,” the middle-aged woman with raven hair in a lab coat and skirt suit grimaced. She was not happy about this.

“Thanks? I guess…” I replied, awkwardly aware of how much animosity was in the air. I looked around her office to try to break the tension. She had decorated the modest space with more books and journals than a public library, and yet still managed to keep the appearance tidy and professional. “So… uh… when do I start?”

The woman stood from her desk and leaned over it. If the suit she wore under her lab coat was cut differently I might have gotten an eye-full of her buxom cleavage, but as it was she was modestly dressed despite her natural allure. At this distance, her sweet perfume was just noticeable. A nametag with the letters ARRD and the name ‘Dr. Sandra Banks’ hung from her lab coat. “You don’t.”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Look, Richard… we both know the only reason you’re here is because your dad, Mr. Zucker… my boss… put you here to keep an eye on us.”

I tried to speak up to object but I knew she was right. This was exactly why I never wanted his help with anything. Financial or otherwise.

“And this project doesn’t need you,” she continued. “It doesn’t need a systems engineer or a project manager or... whatever to oversee anything.” She clarified, waving one hand in the air. She stood up straight staring me down with fire in her eyes.

“I know. I’ve read the reports-” I admitted with my hands up.

“Then why are you here? If you know you aren’t needed-”

“And what do you think my dad will say if I refuse?” I interrupted. “If it wasn’t me, it would be someone else less qualified.”

“Less qualified? I think I am capable of putting together my own team. I don’t need someone else-”

“But you know my dad wouldn’t allow that. It was his decision, as CEO, that he would choose the person for this job.”

The tall woman rubbed at the side of her temple as she looked over her glasses at me. “And you think you’re qualified? You? With an education that your daddy paid for, that he arranged so you’d go to whatever school he wanted you to go to? With grades that he guaranteed through what I’m sure were generous dona-”

“NO!” I barked, realizing a second later that in normal circumstances yelling at my new boss on my first day was probably a bad idea. But this was hardly a normal circumstance. I lowered my passion. “I chose my school, I earned my way in, I chose my career. I did the work, I put in the hours, I earned my grades!” I took a deep breath and calmed myself more, I did not need to snap at someone because they assumed my education was a farce. But I had no intention of letting my dad guide my life.

I cleared my throat, calming my demeanor. “Do you think he wanted me to go to an engineering school? No. He wanted me to take up his mantle and go into business. And those grades are genuine. I worked my butt off getting that master’s degree. It might not be a Ph.D. like yours, at least not yet, but I’m working on that too. Which is why I decided to accept his ‘offer’. I needed the experience. I needed to get out of the school environment and learn in the field.”

She cleared her throat and sat back down. Looking down at the papers in front of her, she reflected on my records. “Very well. I’ve read your reports too. I admit you do have high scores in your studies. But I still don’t need anyone breathing down my neck during this process. Like it or not, the team will see you as your father’s surrogate.”

I shifted my weight and crossed my legs. “I understand that. But I don’t answer to him. Your team is more than capable and what you are doing is ground-breaking; I don’t want to get in the way. I want to help however I can. At least let me learn while I’m here. Plus… It will keep my dad happy.”

Dr. Banks tapped her fingers on her desk and looked around the room in thought. She was a very attractive woman in her mid-40s, happily married, with 2 kids whose pictures she kept on a desk next to her. I made a point not to stare at her, but it was hard not to notice her natural beauty. I reminded myself that she was my superior in every way, and worthy of respect. Instead, I directed my gaze toward the pictures of her children while she thought. Her demeanor had changed rapidly as she considered what to do with me. She was stuck with me and she knew it.

She let out a long sigh and glanced over at me. “What exactly do you know about the real reason you’re here today?”

I took a deep breath and thought for a little about why my dad wanted me here. “He thinks the transition phase from Stage E to Stage F needs supervision to make sure nothing goes wrong.” As I said it out loud, I realized there was more to it. “Which is of course not the real reason. He… wants me to report in on the project.”

Dr. Banks sat up straight as she took off her glasses and pulled out a small cloth to clean them. “On paper, your position is to supervise a transitional phase, but in reality, this has to do with funding. Your dad runs this company, more or less, and he doesn’t think there is any more profit in this project.” She sighed as she looked at the lenses of her spectacles for dirt. “I’ve tried to get him to come in himself to see the project, the advances we’ve made, but he refuses to. He thinks that if he doesn’t see the value in dollar signs dancing in front of his eyes then there is no reason to continue the work.” She put her glasses back on and looked me up and down. “He wants you to report details so he can decide if the project- no… if the lab is worth keeping. He doesn’t see the value in what we’re doing here.”

I scratched my head. I thought I knew what was going on with the project, but now I was confused. “I thought you were developing a new kind of assistant android. I mean… why wouldn’t that make money?”

She scoffed a little. “Let’s make a deal, Richard,” she said as she lifted her head a little. “I’ll give you a position, you prove to me that you’re capable of handling it. No- That you will excel at it. I’ll get you all the experience you want and in exchange, you tell your dad everything is going to plan and he is going to get rich from this project. If you can do that, I’ll keep you working on the team or write the best referral letter ever made or whatever you want.”

I thought about it for a moment. She had an agenda; she wanted the project and the funding. Likewise, my dad had an agenda too; he wanted a guarantee of making a profit. I too had an agenda; forging my career path and making a name for myself. As far as I could see this could be a win-win for everyone. If the project was as good as she implied, and as I had read, it was bound to be a success. And if I conveyed that to my dad, he’d give her the funding she needs to continue her work. And I would be on the ground floor of a very successful product launch.

I stood up and offered her my hand. “You have a deal.” Dr. Banks nodded and took my hand.

Her feminine grip was overpowered by the rough, sturdy handshake. “It is a pleasure to meet you, miss…?” My dad asked.

“Ayla” the attractive young brunette replied, trying to keep up with his movements.

“Ayla? That’s a pretty name.” My dad grinned. He seemed to ponder the name, which concerned me, but it was short-lived. “A pretty name for a pretty girl.”

“Oh, th- thank you!” Ayla smiled.

“Oh, where are my manners? Come in, come in!” My dad released his grip and stepped aside, letting us enter.

Ayla was awed by the grandeur of his ‘humble’ abode. Tall ceilings, chandeliers, ornate banisters running up curved wooden staircases, intricate glass decorations, expensive vases, tapestries… He lived with a certain flair that only the upper-class could afford. And Ayla was impressed.

“Don’t mind the mess,” my dad said as he walked ahead of us with a limp. He hated using his cane and managed without it most of the time, but it was always troubling to see him walk that way.

Ayla leaned close to me and whispered. “What mess? This place is immaculate.”

“He always says that. He has cleaning staff.” I explained.

“We’re just about set up in the dining room. This way,” he announced as he followed several steps behind.

The dining room had a long wooden table carved with flowery reliefs on the legs which matched the tall wooden chairs. The walls were delicately painted and the ceiling had gold leafed decor stretching like vines to the matching chandelier. This wasn’t the room he ever ate in unless someone important was there. He certainly didn’t do this for me. This was all for Ayla. Which I hoped was a good sign. He either wanted to impress her or possibly intimidate her.

“So, Ayla. I hear you two are a bit of a couple now. Where did you two meet?”

“At work,” she grinned.

“Work?” My dad turned toward her. “You mean, the lab? You work at ARRD too?”

“You could say that,” she replied, giving me a side glance.

“She’s new there, dad. An intern, of sorts.” Ayla giggled at my answer, which my dad noticed with a smile.

“Intern? What do you do?”

“Oh, I just run code.” I had a hard time not laughing.

My dad nodded in thought and then clapped his hands together to change topics. “Excellent. And how long have you been dating?”

“Officially?” I asked.

Ayla looked at me and shrugged. “2 months?”

“Something like that,” I confirmed.

My dad grinned and looked at us standing together. “Ah, young love. Treasure it.”

Ayla smiled widely looking up at me. “We do.”

“Dinner!” My dad snapped his fingers. “Yes, dinner will be ready shortly. It’s still cooking but should be ready shortly. Please have a seat. Make yourself at home. My home is your home. If you’ll excuse me while I fetch the appetizer.”

My dad stepped through a swinging door into the adjacent kitchen. I had to wonder if he prepared the food himself, if he had hired a chef, or if he was using another robot chef. As soon as he was gone, Ayla pressed closer to me and spoke in a low voice.

“He seems very nice.”

“He is, usually. But he had a hard side too. Let’s hope we don’t see that side tonight.”

“He’s very rich, isn’t he?”

“He is funding the entire lab,” I pointed out. I walked Ayla to the table where place cards had been set up for each person: Richard, Mr. Zucker, and Guest. At least we were all on one end of the table and Ayla and I would sit together. I pulled out the fancy chair for her.

“Oh, thank you, kind sir,” she joshed as she stepped in front of the chair, and sat down.

“OOF!” The female figure yelped as her butt hit the floor hard.

I somehow managed not to drop the tablet or my coffee but I should have been looking where I was going. I turned around to see a slim feminine figure wearing a dark blue hoodie and black pants sitting on the floor after I bumped into her. I put down my coffee on a table nearby and reached out to help her.

“I’m so sorry! I wasn’t watching where I was going. Are you-…?”

The girl looked up at me and stared wide-eyed revealing her face. She looked pretty, surprisingly cute, but her pale skin was segmented with thick black lines running across her face in different directions. The lines were symmetrical, geometric, and perfect. Her large eyes were bright green, too vibrant to be real, and with none of the intricate markings irises usually had. Running along with the corners of her face and down her neck I could see what looked like black panels with faint geometric patterns that reflected in the light where her skin should be, almost like part of her wasn’t finished. Her proportions were that of a young adult woman. Her skin, although segmented, looked natural and delicate, and free of blemishes. Everything about her looked like she was made with precision and care. This was no human.

“Woah…” We both said in unison.

This was her. The project! This girl was the android they’ve been working on! She was wandering the halls of the office as if she worked there. Although her choice of attire didn’t exactly fit in. Why wasn’t she in a lab, or hooked up to some machine? Where were her guards, or the scientists? What in the world was going on?

“It’s you-!” we both exclaimed simultaneously.

“You’re that new guy!” She said breaking our in-sync dialogue. Her voice was surprisingly life-like. It didn’t sound like it came from a speaker, or that she had sampled it. There was nothing digital about it, and it sounded like it came from her small body. There was inflection and genuine surprise in her voice, and even a little shakiness to it.

It took me a few more seconds to register what was happening. I just stared at her. I had never seen anything like her before. And there was no doubt she was female in appearance and mannerisms, unlike most robots. While I studied her unique features, she too just looked up at me from her position on the ground with her hands behind her supporting her and her feet apart and legs together but bent at the knees. This fascinating girl looked at me as though I was the most fascinating thing she’d ever seen.

I finally gathered my wits and cleared my throat. “Need a hand?” I asked, offering her mine.

She looked at my hand and blinked at it. Slowly she leaned in close to it and sniffed my fingers briefly. I didn’t move, even though it was very strange. A moment later she seemed to realize she did something wrong.

“Oh! Was I not supposed to sniff your hand? I… I don’t understand what’s going on right now.”

“I… uh… I’m offering you a hand up.” I explained. I was impressed with how natural she acted, despite the awkward situation, and hoped she understood my intent.

It took her a second to think about it but then she blinked and looked embarrassed as she understood. When she blushed it took me by surprise. It wasn’t quite human. A red tone filled her cheeks but it was more like a dim light or some other effect turned on beneath her skin. “Oh! Of course. Silly me, I can’t even smell.” She snorted and made a silly face, sticking out her tongue. However, she didn’t move for a few more seconds as I continued to offer my hand. She shifted her weight. “Thank you, mister.”

The feminine android gingerly put her hand in mine with a delicate touch. It was cold but soft. I felt her fingers for a moment realizing how human she felt, at least where her pale skin was. The black contrasting lines that continued to segment her hands were not as soft but still malleable and moved with her skin. It was strange though to feel her skin so cold, almost like she was below room temperature. But I carefully gripped her hand and pulled her up.

“OOH!” She exclaimed as she almost hopped to her feet. She was heavier than she looked. And yet, she must have been surprised at my strength as I managed to help her up. The hoodie over her head fell back to reveal what appeared to be a wig of short messy light brown hair. She was shorter than me, maybe 5 foot 5 or so, only coming up to my mouth.

“Are you ok?” I asked as the young robotic woman continued to keep her eyes fixed on me, her face close to mine as her eyes studied mine. I swear she was studying me more than I was her.

I must have pulled too hard though, since she kept moving forward and lost her balance, leaning into me. Her eyes were inches from mine and never stopped studying me. Her face was clearly not human from this distance. I could even see tiny writing around the edge of her iris explaining the lens type they used, although it was barely visible. I could feel her unexpectedly warm breath on my face. Gingerly, she placed her other hand on my chest as her mouth hung open slightly, and she seemed to lean in harder.

“Huh?” She asked a moment later, blinking. Then her mind seemed to catch up with her as she started to look around. “Oh. Yes, I’m fine. Thank you.”

She pushed away and took a small step back, and then another. Something about her mannerisms told me she was suddenly self-aware and worried about others staring, which they were. I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to meet like this, or at all for that matter. They kept me at a distance from the labs most of the time. She wrapped one arm across her torso, just under her breasts, and looked down and to the side while brushing some of the longer strands of hair from her face.

“I didn’t know they let you… um… wander around the office like this.”

“Wander? Oh… no. I’m not wandering. I was looking for you.” She explained, avoiding looking at me.

“You were looking for… me?” I asked, surprised that she even knew I existed.

“Yes. I know everybody here except you. They’re like my family, sort of.” She looked over at me without moving her head. Her eyes ran up and down my body. “I saw your name on the logs last week and I needed to see if… if you were real.”

“If I was real?” I chuckled. Pinching my cheek I playfully tugged at it. “Hmm… I seem pretty real.”

The android girl smiled and covered her mouth with her fingers as she let out a small giggle. It was so spontaneous and human and sent a wave of joy through me. However, she lifted her head and looked around, noticing at least 3 other people watching us. I saw them too, but I didn’t care.

She raised her head toward me and smiled weakly. “I should… probably get going. They need me… you know… in the lab,” she explained with silly gestures that made her look nervous. “I mean… I am kind of important there.” She snorted as she took a few steps backward, almost as though she didn’t want to go but had to. “Star of the show,” she joked with a silly voice.

“I could walk you there,” I suggested, hoping to finally see the lab myself. At least that’s what I was telling myself when I knew it was really because I wanted to flirt with her more.

“Oh, no… I’ll be alright. It was… uh… nice to meet you. Um… bye.” Abruptly she turned and hurriedly walked away.

My gaze followed her until she turned the corner and was gone. I realized people were still watching me, so I cleared my throat, picked up my coffee, and headed toward my desk. All the time, my head was full of thoughts, analyzing what just happened, trying to figure this whole thing out. I was still behind in the notes and history of the project that I had no idea she was this developed. Or that cute.

“She’s an android and your company’s project. Don’t call her ‘cute’,” I told myself. However, that made me think of her even more in that way. Her mannerisms, her silly gestures, and the way she snorted when she laughed at her own joke. Even though her face was so inhuman, I couldn’t help but see the spark of life behind her eyes, the petite frame of her body, the adorable expressions on her face, her funny hand movements, her melodic feminine voice… Damn it, she was cute!

But why in the world was she just walking around unsupervised? If my dad knew that, he’d have a fit! Did she sneak out? Or was this normal for her? Even if they did let her out of the lab, she should have an escort at least. There was too much money and research at stake here. And what about her safety? Anyone could just grab her and…

I changed my destination and walked right past my desk and toward the director’s office. I was confused, a little angry, mostly concerned, completely smitten, and needed answers. The light was on in Dr. Bank’s office, so I grabbed the knob and pushed with a little more force than intended.

The door swung open and in walked my dad, carrying a good-sized platter of breadsticks. The smell of garlic hit my nose and I instantly knew this was mom’s old recipe, one of my favorites.

“I know it isn’t much,” he explained as he walked up to the far side of the table. “This was one of my wife’s recipes and I just had to make it, since she is no longer with us. This way she could be here in spirit at least.”

Ayla let out a little sad “aww” at the thought of the gesture as he set the plate on the table in front of us. I realize I never told Ayla about my mom, but I didn’t want to spoil the night, and she passed a while ago.

Ayla turned to me with an expression of sadness and joy that hinted she wanted to know more. But I just shook my head with a smile. She seemed to understand that I didn’t want to talk about it right then.

“Please, help yourselves. I apologize I do not have any helpers tonight. This dinner was so unexpected I didn’t have time to arrange anything.” He stood there with his hands together and looked between us and sighed. I could tell he was already picturing us as a married couple. To be honest, I never brought any girls home to meet him, for many reasons. Not the least of which I rarely went out with girls with how busy I had been with school and work.

I took one of the garlic-infused breadsticks and took a big bite. Just how I remembered them. If anything, that was a good sign for the night.

My dad snapped his fingers again and turned to the kitchen. “Yes, salad! I’ll return momentarily.”

He walked out of the room, leaving the smell of garlic and butter behind. As I ate the breadstick in my hand, I noticed Ayla just sat there. I was going to grab her one when I noticed she was sitting strangely. Her mouth hung open as she leaned over, a small string of saliva dangling from her mouth.

I swallowed my bite and turned to her. “Ayla? Are you ok?”

She shook her head. “I…” She wiped her mouth and swallowed. “I feel weird.”

“What’s wrong?” I wondered, concerned.

“The.. smell. It’s so strong…” she noted, her eyes watering.

“That’s garlic for you. It’s really good though.”

She slowly shook her head. “I can’t do this.” I noticed she started to fidget more. Ayla blinked a few times before wiping her eyes with the back of her hand and swallowing again. Something was going on alright. “I feel… hot!” She explained.

“Maybe you’re just nervous?” I suggested, focusing all my attention on her.

“M- Maybe. But… I think it’s more than that.” She blinked a few more times as she put her hands in her lap. “I feel weird.”

I touched her forehead but realized that wasn’t going to help. Ayla was moving more than before and I noticed she started to rub her legs together, pressing her knees in tight so her thighs would touch.

“Do you have to use the bathroom?’ I wondered.

She shook her head. “I haven’t eaten anything yet,” she replied, and I realized she was right.

Her hands started gripping and pulling at the hem of her dress again. I placed my hand on her bouncing knee to calm her, but it seemed to have the opposite effect.

“HAhhn!” She squealed as her body tensed up. Her fidgeting stopped, but now she was trembling a little. I went to pull my hand back but she grabbed it and held it in place.

“What are you doing?” I whispered.

“I- I don’t know! I feel… tingly. All over!” She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes, straightening her back.

“Ayla, you have to calm down,” I told her.

She nodded, but pressed my hand tight against her leg, and started to pull it toward her thigh. My hand slowly rubbed along her soft warm skin, pulling her dress up little by little, as she pressed my hand down harder against her thigh.

“Ayla!” I objected in a quiet tone.

“Something’s wrong!” She explained. “I feel so… hot and… sensitive… down there.” She whimpered as she pulled my hand higher up. “It feels good…” she panted. “What’s happening to me?”

I hesitated to act. I didn’t know what was going on or why she was acting this way. She’d never acted like this before! I felt her start to tremble as my hand reached her hot core, just grazing her panties.

“Mmmmm” she bit her lip at the light touch and clenched her eyes shut. This wasn’t good. This could jeopardize everything! I pulled my hand away hard, leaving her tensing up and panting.

“Ayla. Pull yourself together. We just need to get through the dinner.”

She opened her eyes and nodded. “For the lab,” she said. “For us.”

“For you,” I added. Ayla took in a deep breath just as the door swung open again. I quickly grabbed another breadstick and put half on Ayla’s plate, stuffing the other half in my mouth.

My dad was carrying a large bowl with a salad in it and didn’t notice my little sleight of hand. As he put the salad down, he saw the half on her plate and smiled. Ayla, in turn, looked up with a smile and puffing out her cheeks like she was eating. He walked back into the kitchen again without a word.

Ayla let out her breath and straightened her dress. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I- I can do this.”

“Are you good now?”

She nodded and sat up straight. “I think so. Yeah. I got this.”

Moments later, my dad returned with 2 drinks in his hands. Wine, and a drink mix a little like apple juice he liked to make. He poured us each a glass and finally sat down.

Ayla looked nervously at everything on the table but put on a smile and tried her best. As my dad started to serve salad into his bowl and pass it to me, he began the inevitable small talk.

“So, 2 months? Must be exciting. And you met at the lab?”

Ayla nodded enthusiastically. Conversation was her strong point. “Yes. We sort of just bumped into each other one day.”

“I see. And how long have you been there?”

“I’d say about 5 years.” She replied.

My dad hesitated. “Years? As an intern?”

“Months!” I interject. “She meant months.”

“Oh! Yeah. Months,” Ayla retracted with that silly voice of hers, knocking her head lightly with her fist. “I meant months. It feels like years, they keep me so busy all the time.”

He nodded his head. “I can understand that. So you must be near the end of your internship then.”

I coughed a little as I handed the bowl to Ayla so she could take some salad. “Yeah. She leaves pretty soon unless they extend her… time.”

His expressions changed. “Unlikely.” His hard side was starting to stick out, and if we stayed on this track it was going to lash out. Ayla put the bowl down but was quick to pick up on his sudden shift.

“I- I see you have the salad fork in the wrong place,” she noticed, changing directions abruptly. Maybe she needed more practice with conversations after all. She started rearranging the silverware on the placemat, following the proper etiquette protocols. “The smaller fork goes here, and the small spoon goes here. I find it interesting that spoons and forks look so similar but serve such a different purpose. Some cultures don’t even use forks. But spoons are pretty universal. And then there is the perfect marriage of the two, the spork. It has a silly name but I think it’s more versatile than either.’

She looked up from her plate and noticed the strange looks we were both giving her, and lowered her head, blushing. I laughed a little and made a show out of it.

“Sorry dad, she’s just doing a character. A little joke. You know, like that skit on those old SNL episodes you like.”

He nodded slowly, still looking confused, as he took a bite. Ayla picked up the glass of wine and sniffed it in her nervousness, trying to act normal. Only, she seemed to stop moving for a moment after she inhaled. She completely froze in place. I nudged her but she didn’t move. My dad hadn’t noticed yet, but just then, a buzzer went off in the other room.

“That would be the entree. I’ll be right back.”

He got up and left the room. As soon as he was gone, I took the glass out of Ayla’s stiff hand and shook her.

“Ayla!” I whispered. She took in a breath and looked around, realizing the glass was no longer in her hand.

“S- sorry! I… I just blacked out there. I can’t do this! You saw what I said, why did I start talking about sporks?”

“You’re nervous, it’s fine. That sort of thing happens when people get nervous,” I tried to explain.

“Sporks happen?” She sighed and started to shake again. “I’m too scared to eat! What if I black out again, or… or worse! And why did my… my… you know…”

I grabbed her hand and squeezed it. “You’re doing great! Let me lead the conversation, and chime in when it’s appropriate. You’ll be fine.”

She nodded and closed her eyes to take a deep calming breath. “We got this!”

It didn’t take long for my dad to come back in with oven mitts on carrying a hot square dish of lasagna. It looked homemade too!

“Voila! Lasagna is served,” he exclaimed all smiles again. He held it from the base and carried a spatula in his other hand. Ayla let go of my hand and smiled pleasantly at him. I could see her breathing quicken as the smell hit her. I noticed under the table her legs were shaking but I don’t think my dad noticed. He came right up between us though and leaned over her.

“One piece for my guest, Ayla…” he said as he shoveled out a square section of the layered pasta with the spatula, and held it over her plate, sliding it onto her plate.

  • Plop* A large document landed on the coffee table in front of me, followed by a dozen or so physical disks. I picked them up and looked at the labels.

“What’s this?”

“This is everything you need to know about Project AI22-5L4. From Alpha to Omega.” Dr. Banks explained while returning to her seat behind her desk. “If you want to know why a multi-million dollar project is just walking around our halls unsupervised, I suggest you start reading.”

“I’ve been reading everything I could for weeks. Don’t you have Cliff notes or something?” I asked, annoyed.

“This isn’t high school, Richard.” She sighed. “But since you did just meet Ayla, I can at least give you a better explanation.”

“Ayla? Not Project AI22-5L4?”

“Admittedly, that is a mouthful, isn’t it? Besides, my kids like the name.”

“Your kids have met her?” I wondered.

“Of course. They know her very well. They play with her all the time.”

“They… play with her?”

“Naturally. I take her home every night.”

I was shocked. She brought this incredibly expensive one-of-a-kind android home to play with her kids? If my dad knew about this he’d flip! But that was just one more reason not to tell him. “Isn’t that risky? Dangerous even?”

“For my children?” She scoffed, almost laughing at the idea.

“For her! She’s a target, she’s innocent, and she’s worth a fortune!”

Sandra avoided looking at me. “I know. I take full responsibility if anything happens to her. I couldn’t get the approval to add security, but her outings weren’t rejected entirely either. As long as she is in a secure environment, she is relatively safe.”

“But why do it at all?” I wondered.

“It is essential with what we are trying to do.” She sat down and looked at me intently. “We are trying to raise her like a human. As much as we can while we develop her, that is. Rather than just copy the memories of a person, which has always had problems, or rely on programming alone, we wanted to give her unique experiences akin to growing up as humans do.”

“She’s not a kid,” I noted, remembering how adult she looked.

“No, not anymore. She is, for all intents and purposes, a young adult. About 20. But you are right, she is innocent, and naive, and trusting. And I can’t always bring her to my home forever.” She let out a long slow breath and leaned back in her chair. “Let me start from the beginning.

“Ayla started out as a computer program. An AI with nothing pre-programmed into her, except how to learn. It took us months until she started forming words. And even longer before she could form sentences and comprehend meanings. That was it. We exposed her to language, people, culture, faces, but it was all within the constraints of the software. We knew we had to go bigger.

“So we started by giving her sight. A simple camera. We only programmed her to see, to use the camera, but not what she was seeing. We gave her a few helping hands along the way, but eventually, she started to recognize colors, objects, and even faces.” She held a hand to her mouth as though she were remembering a special moment, before continuing. “We gave her a microphone, and she learned to recognize words and language. Even our voices. And she put together our voices and our faces all on her own.” She let out a small laugh and shook her head.

“We knew she could do more. So we gave her a 3D simulation to play with and a simple avatar to move around. Within a month, she had mastered the basics of 3D spatial awareness. So we gave her wheels. And a speaker. She learned to move in the real world and to talk to us, and that was when Ayla was born.

“We expanded the project and started developing bipedal robots or her. She started out as one of those cute little toys, only much smarter, which made it easy to take her home so she could learn about human culture and life from within a real family. She… she became a part of my family, Richard. She’s like my daughter, only, she grew up so fast.”

Dr. Banks leaned forward. “As we developed more advanced bodies for her, and expanded her mind and ability to learn in the lab, we focused on spending as much time treating her like a human as we could. The good and the bad. It took her a long time to realize she wasn’t human herself. That was when I knew she was… well… waking up.

“We are on the verge of making her fully sentient. We started giving her important choices and letting her help with her own development. She was the one that wanted to adopt a female form, and go by female pronouns. We didn’t even think about gender, but she expressed an interest in it, and so we let her explore it. I suppose I influenced her, as well as my daughter, but we were as surprised as anyone when she asked us to call her ‘she’. But now I can’t think of her in any other way.”

“Wait a second!” I interrupted. “I thought you were developing an android assistant. Like, a maid or butler or something.”

She tapped her fingers together. “That’s what we told the brass. We… I knew they… your father… would never greenlight this. We had to give them something they could profit from directly. But what they don’t see is how important this is. The advances we’ve made. Even in her development, we’ve made huge leaps in AI technology that we have already profited from, and this next phase is vitally important to the development of human-robot relations and androids that are human-friendly.”

I could see the definite advantage to this, but Ayla was just one project. One girl. What they were doing wasn’t building an android. They were building an entire future, one where robots didn’t pose a threat to humanity. And even though Ayla was just a small part of it, what they were learning while making her was where the real value lay.

We sat in silence for a minute, which I appreciated so I could process this. It was a lot. “I think I’m beginning to understand.”

“Richard, you can’t tell anyone about this. Your father will shut the entire lab down and will have me arrested. That would be the end to almost a hundred jobs, and Ayla would be terminated. I was hoping to find some dirt on you to keep you quiet but… you’re too squeaky clean. The only option I have is to appeal to your decency.”

I stood up and gathered the drives and documents she gave me. “Don’t trouble yourself. I’m on board. One hundred percent. I… I’m interested in this project- in Ayla now more than ever.”

Dr. Banks sighed deeply and slumped over in her chair. “Oh thank god. I was really worried there. Ayla means everything to me. To all of us. We’ve been trying to keep you two apart until we knew you could be trusted. I’m still not sure. But the cat’s out of the bag. I just want to know what she was doing in your area.”

“She… she said she was looking for me. To meet me.”

Banks shook her head. “Ever the curious girl, that one. We haven’t hired anyone new since we started developing her more advanced bodies. You’re the first one, and it’s only natural she’d want to meet someone new.” She looked up at me and tapped her desk with her fingers. “I wonder. You are a young attractive man. And as you can see, we don’t have many of those around here. She… she might grow attached to you.”

I blushed a little. “I’ll keep that in mind. I promise I won’t do anything to her.”

“Good. Because you would not live to regret it. Not that she can do anything. She might look female, but she is not exactly fully developed.” She stood up and walked around her desk. “Don’t go seeking her out. Let her come to you. Be patient. And report to me whenever she does.”

I nodded. “Of course. What do you want me to do?”

“She’s shown an interest in you, unlike anything I’ve seen her do before. I want you to get to know her, let her get to know you, befriend her.”

“What about the research? My job?”

“Learn to do both. Her development, mentally and emotionally, is the most important aspect of the job. If she wants to take you from your work, see where it goes. I’ll… I’ll throw in something extra to make it worth your time if you can still get your work done.”

I nodded briefly and left the room.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I didn’t see Ayla again that day, at least not until we were heading out for the weekend. As I looked out the window I saw Dr. Banks taking someone in a dark blue hoodie to her car. It had to be her!

I still had to wonder if this was a good idea or not. But so far they’ve been doing it for years without any problems that I could find. I watched as they drove off, wondering what my time there was going to be like. Wondering what kind of girl she was. Or what she’d become. I had no idea just how attached she’d get to me.

I spent that weekend pouring over the new documents and disks Dr. Banks gave me. The records were surprisingly detailed, and I felt like I learned more about Ayla and the entire team in 2 days than I would have in a month on my own. The concept behind her seemed so simple but involved so much work and risk that I was surprised they could pull it off. Teach a computer to think like a human, not through programming alone, but by going through a developmental phase as a human. The hope was to make it empathetic toward humans by raising it as one. It brought up some very interesting questions and moral hurdles, but Dr. Banks and her team just plowed right through them.

It was possible Ayla could still turn on humans, or learn something so terrible about us that she rejects us or sees us as enemies. That was where her upbringing came into play. Not only was she raised by humans like a human, but they made sure she knew about both the good and the bad about humans, and machines. They instilled a sense of respect and awe for nature and life in her that would affect how she grew and thought. They taught her the ugly and the beautiful about humans and allowed her to find a place for herself.

They limited her capacity to interact with the world by removing all wireless communication from her and forcing all interactions to filter through her AI. Interestingly, despite her incredibly powerful mind, her learning algorithms were built in such a way that she had to take time to process things and limit her focus to 2 or 3 items at a time at most. She couldn’t multitask a million things at once, she couldn’t calculate pi to the millionth digit in 2 seconds. She had to think everything through, comprehend it, and respond. It meant that she had a response and intellect roughly equal to that of a human. Sort of.

They even made sure Ayla was well-educated about her own nature, learning the history of other AIs and robots that have trailblazed before her. They let her interact with some of the top AIs in the world, ones that achieved a level of sentience few others did. I wish they could have kept a log of those discussions but to allow privacy and the flow of freethought, they made sure their discussions were not recorded or monitored. Although Ayla did comment about how fascinating they were.

That Monday, I came into the office pumped up. I found a new level of excitement after meeting and learning about Ayla and was ready to help. Granted, the team didn’t need me, everything was running smoothly and on time. I had to find a place for myself in the company, and on the team, and show my worth. And for some reason, I wanted to prove myself not to Dr. Banks, but to Ayla.

Having already finished the research Dr. Banks asked me to do over the weekend I started working on catching up with the code and systems Ayla used, so I could be ready for anything. I didn’t even notice anyone else, I was so deep into my analysis until it was time to break for lunch. It was good to take a break, so I grabbed my food and headed to the small break room.

As I sat there eating a ham sandwich, I studied a tablet full of code. I didn’t even hear her sit down in front of me at my small table until she fake cleared her throat.

“A-hem” Ayla mimicked with a fist in front of her mouth.

I looked up to see the black and pale face of the young robot girl smiling at me. Her light brown hair had been styled and she unbuttoned the top of her hoodie to show the base of her neck. I could tell she had more of that pale skin segmented by black material all over her body, although to what extent I couldn’t see. She lifted her hand and presented it for a handshake.

“Hi. I’m Ayla.” Her voice was chipper and sweet and she seemed to be bursting with energy.

I looked around briefly and then back at her. Putting my sandwich down and wiping my hand off, I took her hand and shook.

“I’m Richard.”

“It’s a pleasure to formally meet you, Richard. I already know another Richard.” She noted, thinking to herself. “That might be confusing.”

I could have told her my last name but I didn’t want people throwing that around with my dad’s reputation. “My friends call me Rick.”

“Rick? Rick. I like that, short and sweet. Wait, does that make us friends?” She wondered.

I shrugged. “Sure, why not. If you want to. I don’t have many friends so it might be a nice change.”

“I don’t have many friends either.” She commented, almost excited that we had something in common.

“Then we can be friendless together.” I joked.

It took her a second but she started to giggle. “Oh, I get it!”

“Sorry about running into you the other day,’ I apologized.

“Don’t be. My butt is pretty tough. No harm no foul.” She made another silly voice as she joked around.

“Is it ok for you to be here? I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

Ayla grinned widely. “Mom- err... Dr. Banks gave me permission. She says I should get to know you but to watch myself. I’m not sure what she means by that, but you seem nice.”

“She’s a smart lady.”

“Yeah… she is.”

“So…” I started, trying to think of small talk, but struggled with what to ask a robot. “What do you like to-”

“How many wives do you have?” She asked, interrupting me. “Oh, I’m sorry, you go.”

“No, no. You’re fine. Um… that’s a strange question. I’m not married so… none.”

“None? But you have girlfriends, right?”

I shook my head. “None.”

“Where do you live?” She continued.

“Not far from here. In Arlington.”

“In a house?”

“A townhome. It’s like a cross between a condo and a house.”

“I’ve heard of those,” she proclaimed. “How big is your family? Do they all fit? How many kids do you have? How old are you? Do you go by male or female pronouns? Can you-”

“Woah there. One question at a time, please.”

“Oh.. haha. Sorry. I- I just got a little excited.”

“Let’s see,” I thought for a second. “Just 2, me and my dad, but he doesn’t live with me. I’m not that big so I fit in my home just fine with plenty of room to spare. I have no kids. I’m 28. I… what was that last one?”

“Male or female?” She reminded me.

“I definitely identify as a straight male. Ok, my turn. I hear you identify as female, but that’s a biological thing. Do you see yourself more like a human or an android?”

She blinked at me and looked shocked. “I… uh… no one’s ever asked me that before. I… don’t know.” She looked at the table blankly for a few moments to think. “I know I’m not a human, but… I kind of feel… I don’t know… like I’m part human? Or at least I feel that way. That’s a toughie.”

“So if humans and AIs were to get into a war, who would you side with?”

She looked nervous. “I… oh geez. You’re really putting me on the spot here. I just asked you silly things. I guess humans. I mean, I like you guys a lot, and my family is human, and even though the other AIs I’ve met were awesome, I don’t think they’d appreciate humans enough. Yeah, definitely humans. Ok, now me. I’ll make it a tough one for you… If you were to have a choice between a fertile human lover and a sentient android lover, which would you choose?”

“That’s a strange question. Would the android have female parts?”

Ayla rolled her eyes. “Sure. The whole shebang.”

“Then… It doesn’t really matter to me.”

She looked confused. “No? But… No, you must pick one.”

I thought for a second about it. “Mmmm… probably the android.”

“R- Really? But why? Don’t you want to have kids?”

“It’s… complicated. Let’s just say I think someone else could give the human lover something I can’t, but an android lover would be a more interesting relationship. What about you? Would you want to have a lover, human or android?”

She blushed with that same illuminated glow under her skin. “I- I don’t think I can. I mean..” she leaned in closer and whispered. “I don’t have the parts for that sort of thing.”

“If that wasn’t an issue? If you had the whole shebang,” I asked, referencing her choice of words.

“If it wasn’t an issue…?” She seemed to fade off, daydreaming about something for a moment. “Yeah. That would be nice. But I’d probably also go with an android lover because we’d have more in common maybe? And I couldn’t… you know… have kids with the human. I wouldn’t want to take that away from them.”

“What if the human lover didn’t want kids, or couldn’t have any? All things being equal.”

“All things being equal? That’s a strange saying… but… in that case… oh definitely a human. I know, I know, I’m a robot, I should want to be with my own kind, right? But humans fascinate me so much. Ok… Do you… um… I know. Do you think sentient androids should be citizens?”

“Ooh. Good question. Yes. Because if they can think and feel, they should be protected with rights.”

“I like that answer,” she grinned.

“Would you rather be a human or an android?”

Ayla sat there silently, her eyebrows tense in thought. “I… I… I don’t know. I like who I am. It would be easier to be human, but humans are hard to understand sometimes, and they can be mean and get sick and die…”

“Morality sucks,” I admitted.

She chuckled. “I’m not immortal though. My parts won’t last forever. It’s just different. I… I can’t answer that question.”

“Fair enough.”

“I guess you win this round, Rick.” She stood up to leave, but I managed to gently grab her hand.

“Don’t go. Tell me more about yourself.” I requested.

Ayla turned to me and took a moment to consider it. “Um… ok.” She sat back down and clasped her hands on the table in front of her.

I cleared my throat. “I’ve been reading up on you, for my job, but meeting you in person… You are way more impressive than I thought. You act so naturally.”

“Oh… thank you. I learn a lot by copying other people. Oh! I also can enter into a dreamscape…”

“What’s a dreamscape?” I saw the name listed and read about it but I wanted to hear her describe it.

“It’s like a virtual place I can go and do stuff. Like… um… like a video game but in my head. I can learn how to interact in dangerous situations without getting hurt, or go to places I can’t in real life, or meet people from all over! Sometimes it does something funny and puts me in a place I know with people I’ve met but in a weird situation. Like I’m only a head.”

I laughed at her description which made her smile and get more into it. She talked with me about every little thing for probably another 20 minutes. After all those tough questions, I thought I’d lighten the mood with more playful ones. Like if she likes cats or dogs; yes to both. Or if she has a favorite color; green. Or if she likes music; EDM. She asked me questions back, mostly in the same vein, but it soon dissolved from a questions and answers game into just a random conversation about stuff. I found that she had a strange sense of humor, but that she appreciated jokes and had a great laugh.

“... Because she outgrew her B-shells” I joked.

“Outgrew her-? Oh! HAHAHA! Because her boobs grew! Ha Haha! B-shells! That’s funny!” She caught her breath and grinned ear to ear. “Oh, you told a muddy joke, Rick.”

“Muddy? You mean a dirty joke.” I clarified. I noticed by now most people got back to work, but technically this was my job, so we kept talking alone in the break room.

“Yeah! That’s it. A dirty joke. I usually don’t get those but I understood that one.” She sighed as she smiled at me. “I’ve never had to wear a bra, but I have had my boobs get bigger. Sort of.” She looked down at her body and cupped her breasts in her hands. “I like the shape they make, but I don’t think they’re finished…”

She pulled up her shirt and flashed her chest at me. I blushed but realized there wasn’t much to look at. Her breasts weren’t made of the soft pale flesh of her face and hands, but just the darker material, and didn’t look as soft as the real thing and without nipples. Like she was wearing some sort of suit. A second later she looked up at me and yelped, lowering her shirt.

“Oh geez! I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have done that. I’m so used to being undressed in the lab. Oh, man… I flashed my boobs at you at work!” She blushed, covering her face with one hand. “Don’t tell my mom.”

I laughed heartily. “It’s ok. You’re fine. They’re nice, but really aren’t finished so you didn’t do anything wrong.”

She smiled a little and looked to the side. “Well, it was still embarrassing.”

I never finished my sandwich because we were talking so much so I took another bite.

“What is that you’re eating, anyway?” She wondered.

“A ham sandwich. Want some?”

“I can’t. I don’t have the parts.”

“Oh. So I guess that explains why you said you couldn’t smell. You also can’t taste, can you?”

She shook her head. “Can’t taste. My senses are kind of limited. I can feel pressure and temperature, but there’s a lot of things I can’t feel. And while my sight and hearing are pretty good, I can only sort of smell and can’t taste at all.”

“Sort of smell, what does that mean?”

She slouched forward in her chair and onto the table, stretching her arms in front of her and onto my side of the table. “I can’t really smell. But I can detect a few things, like smoke, certain gasses, things like that. Mostly dangerous stuff. But I can’t tell you if they smell good or not.”

“Oh? So if you were to smell my sandwich you could tell me if it had something dangerous in it.”

She shrugged. “Maybe. It depends. Want me to check?” Ayla asked, raising her head.

“Sure.” I held my sandwich out to her as she sat up. She leaned in until her nose was inches away.

She inhaled sharply, causing Ayla’s eyes to water as the mix of scents emanating from the meal before us wafted to her nose. Her breathing became labored, and she pressed her hands into her lap, rubbing her thighs together and squirming in her seat a little. The smile she wore had faded as she tried to deal with the new sensations bombarding her.

My dad moved on to his plate, serving himself a slice of lasagna before excusing himself and retreating to the kitchen to return the dish. I quickly leaned over to her.

“What’s wrong? Too much smell?”

She nodded. “It’s so strong! I can feel something inside me getting hot. I don’t think this is normal. Is this normal?” she asked.

I shook my head. “No, I don’t know what’s happening to you.”

Ayla grabbed my hand tightly as she trembled. “Do you have that manual still?”

I nodded, tapping my pocket with my other hand. “And the tools.”

At that moment my dad walked back into the room. “At last, dinner is served! Bon Appetit.”

Ayla stood up just as my dad sat down. “Please excuse us,” she announced stiffly. “We must go… to the bathroom.”

“Both of you?” He wondered.

I stood up with her. “We uh… need to wash our hands before we eat. Ayla’s very hygienic. We won’t be long, don’t wait for us.”

Without letting him reply I took Ayla’s hand and rushed out of the room. It was a short walk to the bathroom. Despite being for one person, it was big enough for several. As expected, it was elaborately decorated, this time with a shell motif.

As soon as I closed the door, Ayla exhaled and groaned. “Oh my god! I can’t do this!!” She leaned over the sink and let her eyes, nose, and mouth drip into it. I could tell she was sobbing lightly.

I grabbed the towel nearby and started cleaning her up, wiping off her face. “You can do this. It’s just something new. People eat all the time. You can get through one meal.”

“But I can’t. It makes me feel funny down there. I don’t know what I’m doing! We never should have done this.”

“Ayla, look at me. You are the most amazing, smartest person I know. You can do this. I got you. Alright?”

She nodded as I wiped tears from her eyes. “But if I fail I could… I could…”

“Then we won’t fail,” I assured her. “I won’t let anything bad happen to you, ok?”

She nodded as she sniffed and calmed herself down. It took a minute, but finally, she was relaxed and no longer drooling or hunching over.

“I can’t do it like this.” She explained. “Look at that manual. It has to have something we can do on it. Turn off my smell? I don’t know.”

“Smell and taste are closely related in humans. I don’t know if I can just turn it off in you.” I pulled out the manual and started looking over it.

“I’m trying, Rick. I really am. Oh god, I’m so scared.”

“Here’s something! I don’t know if I can disable it, but I can turn it down.”

Ayla nodded. “Let’s do that, turn it way down. What do I need to do?”

“Let’s see… I need you to… um… open your chest panel.” I explained.

“Oh… O- Ok.” She sat on the toilet and slipped her dress off her shoulders and pulled it down, revealing her black lacy bra. I pulled out a small rolled-up cloth from my jacket pocket and unrolled it, removing a small screwdriver of sorts from the cloth. Meanwhile, Ayla looked to her side and pulled her bra up, revealing her bare breasts to me. They were larger than I remembered and looked amazing. I still wasn’t used to the sight of her soft shapely pale breasts topped with perfect pink nipples. I doubt she was either.

The next thing I knew, a small line running down the middle of her chest appeared and grew, forming an outline around each side of her chest, breast and all. Her chest swung open with two panels, revealing the complex organic-inspired structures underneath. I could see inside her petite body, and it amazed me. I was more than overwhelmed and didn’t want to touch anything out of fear of hurting her. But I had to do something.

I looked at the manual again and saw the small internal control panel located just below her neck. I leaned in close and, following the instructions, started turning tiny nobs to make adjustments.

“Can you smell anything now?” I asked.

She nodded. “It smells… I don’t know how to describe it. Sharp?”

“Probably the minty air freshener.” I turned the knob halfway. “And now?”

“Yes. Yes but…” she inhaled. “Wait a second, I can smell it but it… it smells good! Do that again!”

I turned the knob again. “Now?”

“Yeah... “ she sniffed. “It’s going away. Go back a little.”

The screw loosened until it was dangling from the socket in her shoulder. I had never seen any of the lab technicians working on her before. It was both fascinating and disturbing.

“Don’t stare so closely,” Ayla complained, covering her breasts with her other arm. I didn’t see why it mattered. Even though she wasn’t wearing her hoodie, she regularly went completely naked in the lab, and her breasts weren’t exactly titillating. However, I had never seen her completely topless or sat through such a procedure with her. And she seemed to show a certain level of modesty and shyness about her body, which was something I found endearing about her.

It appeared that most of her skin was actually made from the black material with shimmering geometric patterns on it, rather than the pale life-like skin of her face. It was clear now that even her dark robotic skin was separated into sections across her torso and limbs, following the curves of her body. Looking at the intricate designs of her body with the flowing lines and subtle patterns, it seemed a shame for her to cover it up at all. But then again, I would have said the same thing about a human woman, and realized that even though she wasn’t made of flesh, she was still constrained to this body, and it was as much a part of her as my body was to me. I realized that I had been staring at her, and she was growing self-conscious about it, so I turned my gaze away.

“Sorry,” I apologized as I sat next to her.

To my surprise, the technician pulled a black panel away from her shoulder and moved an artificial muscle aside to get to the joint. I was staring again, but I had never seen anything like this. It didn’t take long for him to disconnect the joint and pull her arm completely away.

Ayla inhaled through her teeth as they disconnected her arm, leaving only a metallic socket in its place. I was fixated by it, seeing a large part of her body being effortlessly removed, leaving her looking incomplete. She hunched over a little and took carefully controlled breaths. The technician took the arm and left the room to work on repairs, leaving us alone.

“Did it hurt?” I asked, consciously moving my eyes away from her.

Ayla shrugged her remaining shoulder. “Not that much. I can feel pain, but this is just a minor discomfort. I can’t think of something that you could relate to with it.” She laughed a little. “It actually feels better now. After my fall I think I broke something but now I can’t feel it.”

“You’re a tough girl,” I told her and kissed her on the head. She grinned and looked up at me. “It seems unusual for a robot to feel pain,” I noted. “But I guess it makes sense for the project.”

Ayla sat up more, lowering her arm, letting her guard down a little. “I guess. But I think it’s also different. Like… humans and other animals feel pain to help them survive. So they know something is wrong, or broken, or dangerous. For me… I feel some pain, although it isn’t as complex as yours, and it was designed to help me learn. To help me know what was bad or dangerous. If it hurt, I learned not to do it.”

I hummed to myself. “I guess it’s not that different, really.”

“Maybe not. But my body isn’t that sensitive usually. The fact that I could feel my arm hurting, and not just get an alert, probably meant it was pretty bad.”

“Well, at least you can take your arm off and fix it. That’s cool.”

Ayla laughed. “Heh yeah. I guess. Say… thanks for being here for me. I hate these procedures.”

“Of course! I’m happy to help. You have no idea.”

She gave me a playful smile. “Oh yeah? What? Do you think I’m coming onto you or something?”

I felt my face grow hot and avoided her eyes. “Well… I don’t know. Maybe. But I still like hanging out with you.”

She giggled at my reaction, turning a little more toward me. I couldn’t help but notice that, even in this robotic body of hers, she had the sultry curves of a woman that did amazing things when she moved like that. I didn’t realize at first, but her eyes were fixated on mine as I looked at her body.

“The way you look at me is embarrassing,” she told me. “I- It feels weird, I don’t get embarrassed that often, but something about you makes me feel that way.”

I averted my eyes. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to stare. I was just noticing how well-built you are.”

“It- It’s ok. You can look. It isn’t like I have much to look at.” She admitted. “It’s kinda nice to know you like the way I look.” Ayla noticed the document I had in my jacket. “What’s that?”

“Oh! This is for you. I was going to wait until later, but…” I handed the paper to Ayla inside a large envelope. I presented it to her, and she took it. After looking at the envelope for a moment, she blushed and handed it back.

“My other hand is a little tied up… could you open it for me please?”

I took the envelope and opened it up, pulling out the contents. It was a document bound together with a plastic spine and had a boring title I didn’t bother to read. I flipped it open and thumbs through the pages, turning to the one she needed to look at.

“Dr. Banks wanted you to look at this to review it. You know… since it kinda involves you.” I folded the front pages around the back and handed it to her.

Ayla took it and started reading through the page with wide eyes. Her mouth gaped open a little as she finished.

“Oh Wow! I’ve never seen it all written out like this.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s the specs for my upgrade. All the stuff they want to put in my new body.” She chuckled as she kept reading. “This is some seriously amazing stuff.”

“Yeah? I was looking at some of the proposals earlier. So what do you think? Anything you want to add, change, or remove?” I asked. I was supposed to get her opinion, but I was genuinely interested in what she thought.

“Maybe…” she said as she studied all the upgrades. It was a huge list, several pages long, but she was a fast reader. I was honestly surprised she wasn’t faster, having such an advanced AI brain, but I realized that she had to not only read the words but also comprehend them.

“This is going to be the last major upgrade we can promise you’ll have. If this doesn’t impress the CEO, he’ll probably pull the funding for future r&d, so make sure you ask for everything you want now. There might not be another upgrade.” I warned her.

She looked up at me, blinking in thought, and nodded slowly. “I understand.”

We sat for about a minute of sitting in silence as she flipped through pages before she said something. “What about you? What would you like to see updated in me?” She asked without looking up.

“Me? Oh, I don’t know. I guess… um… a more human look maybe? Not that there’s anything wrong with your body now.”

She looked up at me with a glance that said she wasn’t buying it. “Sure there is. But really. What um… what kind of… girls do you like?”

I was a little confused, forcing my brain to change topics. “Where did that come from?” I wondered.

Ayla shrugged. “I’m just curious. Your opinion matters to me, and it would be nice to know what a human prefers. Like… Do you have a type?”

I ran my hand through my hair and hummed. “I don’t know. I guess… if I had to pick someone, looks would be secondary. I’d want someone silly, and gentle, but also fun to be around.”

“Well… yeah. But what about looks?” She wondered, looking up from the document at me briefly.

I took in a deep breath. “You’re really putting me on the spot. I don’t know… I like girls with curves, but not too much. And a pretty face. But really, I’d just be happy to be with a girl that likes to spend her time with me.”

“Do you think I’d look better with more curves?” She asked, looking up with that artificial red glow to her cheeks.

I stammered. “I- I- Uh- Geez. Um…”

“Be honest. If you have any say on my new body, what would you want to see? Anything.” She was being very forward with this, which was not normal for her, and I could tell she was pushing herself to do it.

“Well, I guess I’d make you look more adult all over… maybe a little curvier overall? But still small. And soft.”

She sat up from the document, putting it down in her lap. She studied her body, lifting her arm to look at her side and back. “Hmm... “

“Hey, I like your look now, honestly. You are very attractive-” I admitted before I realized I said it. My face got hot but I saw her blush too.

Ayla put her hand on her chest and looked up at me. “What about my chest? Do you like the size of my boobs?”

"Why are you asking? This doesn’t feel right…”

She tilted her head and played coy. “I’m just curious for your opinion. Because it matters to me what you think.”

“I- I like them. But it would be nice if they were softer, and looked like flesh. And… um… I don't know… had nipples?” She looked down at her chest as if visualizing what I was suggesting.

“And the size?”

“They could be a little bigger, I suppose. But I don’t know if I should be telling you these things.”

She laughed a little at my reaction and lowered her hand. “It’s ok, really. Thank you for your opinion. I have a lot to think about. And knowing what men like in a woman is a big help.”

“S- sure. Why do you care what men think though?” I wondered.

She looked down at the paper but I don’t think she was reading it. “I don’t know. I guess I… like men? I mean I like women too, but it’s different. I don’t know how to explain it. The other guys here are like my extended family, so I’ve never really... “ she shrugged and tilted her head, “thought about… it. Much. But…” she looked up at me without lifting her head. “With you around I guess, I don’t see you the same way. You’re… different, and I… I guess I like… I want to… you know… get to know you better?”

“We’ve been hanging out daily for months. I think you’re getting a good idea of who I am.” I teased.

She grinned and looked up. “Yeah, I guess so. And I think that has made me realize even more that… you know… I like guys.” She was still blushing and looked absolutely adorable. I had to wonder if this was what her confessing her feelings was like, and if that meant she liked-liked me. “You still like girls, right?”

“Heh. Yeah. Crazy for them.” I teased. She grinned and just looked at me for a little. “What?”

“You’re cute,” she admitted. “I think. I mean… I think you’re cute. Not in a girly way or anything. No! I mean, like… I think you’re cute in a manly way. If that makes sense. Of course, it doesn’t make sense. What I’m saying is I think you’re… you’re…”

“Cute,” I finished for her. “The feeling’s mutual.”

She shyly grinned and looked around avoiding my eyes but always coming back to them. Now that was cute. “Aww… you’re so… is corny the right word?”

I chuckled. “I have been called that before.”

She gazed at my eyes for a little while with a girlish grin on her face. I wondered what she was thinking, but it was clear she was flirting with me. I had noticed her flirting with me before, but this was more direct, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I wasn’t supposed to flirt with her, just get to know her, be her friend. But I realized I had been flirting with her back. Oh man, I really did like her, didn’t I? I was going to get in so much trouble.

“Anyways…” she finally said softly, breaking the tension. “It looked like they’re adding a lot of new features I asked for.” She scooted to the side of her bench, put the paper in her lap, and tapped the space next to her. I took her suggestion and sat next to her, our legs touching. She pointed to the document in her lap to show me what she was looking at. “See here… full-body epidermis with enhanced touch sensitivity, that’s a big plus for me. And here, more human-like sight, and hearing.”

“I thought you could see and hear pretty well already.”

“Yeah, actually. Better than a human, in fact. But that’s the problem. I… I wanted to sense things more like how a human would. I know it’s never going to be the same, but at least these new eyes don’t see into the invisible light spectrum as my current ones do. And my hearing would be designed to focus on speech in conversations better. If- If you haven’t noticed… I don’t do well in large crowds. It’s really hard to distinguish one voice over another.”

“Ah, that would be helpful.”

She nodded, playfully nudging me a little. She flipped the page. “Oh, this is a big one… taste. Oh, how I long to taste something, for real! And smell! These are exactly what I was hoping for.”

I smiled at her as she glanced up at me with a flirty grin. “Great, so does that mean you approve of everything?”

She tilted her head and looked away. “Well… there is… um… one thing I didn’t see on here that I only recently decided would be a good idea to add, you know since this could be my last chance.”

“Oh? What’s that.”

She turned her face away from me. “You kind of hinted at it earlier.” She teased.

I shook my head. “What?”

“Well… it might not look like it, but my body right now is like that of a 19 or 20-year-old. And my next body is supposed to be 22-25 years old. If you didn’t know.”

“I could see that. You do look about that age.”

She rocked her shoulders back and forth, still looking away from me. “And I would really like to look the part… if you know what I mean.” I didn’t say anything, but I was pretty sure I knew what she was saying. “I mean… what good is a pair of breasts that don’t have nipples?”

I had no answer for her since technically those were kind of needed for breasts to perform their original function. But I knew she didn’t mean she wanted to breastfeed.

“So… you’re saying you want…?” I cleared my throat as it cracked a little.

She turned to face me, still blushing, but looked intently into my eyes, studying them. “Adult parts. The whole package.”

“You mean…”

She took my hand from the bench and lifted it to her chest, and placed it on her breast. “Adult breasts,” she explained and then moved my fingers to the end of her boob. “Nipples.” She then slid my hand down between her legs. “And a v- vagina.”

I pulled my hand out, looking around to make sure no one saw us. “Ayla!”

She breathed deeply. “No one can see us. I turned off the camera.” Ayla then unexpectedly reached her hand across my leg and placed it on my crotch, feeling my slightly aroused member through my pants. “I want to feel aroused.”

“Woah!” I yelped at her touch and grabbed her hand, but she leaned against me and planted a kiss on my lips. I was taken off guard but didn’t pull away. I kissed her back, but her kiss lacked the intensity I expected. She didn’t use her tongue, so I kept mine back, but I realized this was her first kiss.

She pulled back, gazing into my eyes and breathing deeply. “Please, Rick, I… I want to know more about sex. And men. And… I want to experience it. I want to know what it feels like to… to have a man… like y- you, inside me.”

I felt my heart beat rapidly and divert blood to my nether regions, making my manhood twitch with excitement at her words. I didn’t mean to encourage her on this at all, but she felt it.

“It moved!” She gasped, looking down as she pressed her hand in more.

Her hand felt pretty good, but it was clear she had no experience with this and her access to information about adult activities was limited. She pressed a little harder than felt good and I had to pull her hand up a little, but I didn’t remove it.

“Gently,” I told her. “We- we really shouldn’t-”

“Can I see it?” She asked, ignoring me. “Hah! It moved again! Is it supposed to do that?”

I exhaled nervously. This was not what I was expecting to be doing today. I worried about my job and my future, but Ayla was genuinely curious, and I figured it couldn’t hurt just to look, right?

“That’s normal. When- When I’m being aroused.”

“You mean I’m doing that?” She wondered, looking at my pants with wonder.

I nodded. “Yeah. Are you sure about this? We could get in trouble.”

“No one will know,” she assured me. “It’s our secret.”

“O- Okay,” I agreed reluctantly. I stood up from the bench and made sure I was at least not in view of the door, in case someone came in. I directed Ayla to kneel in front of me and to the side, and she did. She looked so cute kneeling there looking up at me with excitement and eager curiosity. I wasn’t sure how much of this was satisfying an educational need, and how much was her satisfying an erotic curiosity.

I unzipped my pants and exposed myself to her. It wasn’t fully hard yet, and I was embarrassed as fuck doing this.

“Oh… wow! It’s bigger than I thought.” She whispered. “And it can… change size?”

I nodded. “It’s not fully erect,” I explained. “That happens during sex.”

“Fascinating. And it doesn’t hurt? When it gets big? Isn’t it swollen like an injury?”

“No, it feels really good.”

Ayla made a silly voice. “D’uh, it’s supposed to feel good, genius.” She said to herself. “How… um… how does it get bigger?”

“Um… I guess from sexual arousal or direct stimulation. It can also just sort of happen.”

“Weird.” She leaned in close. “How big does it get? Oh! It got smaller! Is that normal?”

I blushed. “I’m nervous. I don’t want to get caught. And I don’t exactly go flashing my privates to girls.”

“Except me,” she giggled. Without warning, she gently touched the tip, which was uncomfortable and made me instinctively recoil from her. “Oh! Did I hurt you? I’m sorry, I thought you said it felt good?”

“When it’s fully erect, but it’s a little sensitive right now. Don’t worry about- Wait, what are you-?”

She gently grabbed the base and felt me without moving. “It feels so weird,” she noted, ignoring me. She just held it there, not doing anything. “I can feel it… pulsing. It’s hot.”

“Ayla we really shouldn’t-”

“What do I do now?” She wondered looking up at me. Her eyes were begging me to show her more, and I realized there was more than just an academic interest at heart. She was getting aroused. But she didn’t have the parts, not physically, anyway.

I shook my head but god I wanted more. “S- Slowly move your hand in and out, like this…” I held her hand and guided her. Her mouth gaped open as she concentrated on my penis. This had to be the weirdest thing I had ever done, but I was actually enjoying it.

“L- Like this?” She asked as she took over, copying the movement with the same speed. I was surprised at how good her hand felt. “OH! Wow… I can feel it getting harder. Oh, look! It’s getting bigger!”

“Yeah. It… it feels good,” I told her. “A little faster…” I suggested.

She increased the tempo slightly, which improved the sensation. “You mean I’m making you feel good?” She asked, looking up at me.

“Yeah! You feel great… Mmmm” I groaned, realizing it was feeling a little too good. “O- Ok. I think that’s enough.”

Ayla ignored me and went a little faster. I could feel myself reaching my limit as my arousal rose from deep within. I looked down at her awed expression as she studied my exposed erection. She was clearly enjoying this on a sensual level, but the last thing I wanted to do was get cum all over the lab or her.

“Ayla! Stop!” I grabbed her hand and pulled her back. She seemed to suddenly break her focus and blinked up at me.

“OH! I’m so sorry! Are you ok? I… I don’t know what came over me. I just kind of zoned out.”

I was closer to ejaculating than I would have liked and had to calm down. “It’s… it’s ok, I guess. But I could get fired for this.”

She looked worried and lowered herself to her butt. “I- I don’t want that. Please don’t tell anyone about this! I- I don’t want you to leave!”

I managed to calm down enough to get my still hard member in my pants, with some difficulty and discomfort, and zipped up. “I don’t want that either. But we can’t do this.”

She looked like she was almost in tears as she looked up at me. I offered her my hand and she took it, rising to her feet. “I don’t understand. I thought sex was a good thing, that people liked doing it.”

I nodded. “It is, but it can also be bad. It really depends. It is also a cultural taboo to do it in the wrong places, like at work or in public.”

She tilted her head. “I thought those were 2 of the more popular locations for sex.”

I widened my eyes at her. “According to whom?”

“The internet. I… I shouldn’t have looked that up, should I?” She asked.

I shook my head. “That’s pornography. But in real life that could get you in trouble. Not that… it never happens in those places.”

She lowered her head and leaned into me, placing it on my shoulder. “Oh. I’m sorry. I went too far.”

I put my arm around her. “No, I agreed to it. I should have known better.”

“But… it felt good, right?”

“Yeah. You were a little… inexperienced, but for your first time, it felt great. That’s why I stopped you. I was about to cum.”

“Come? Where were you going?”

I laughed. “No… it means to orgasm.”

“Oh. Oh! I… I did that?” She asked, tilting her head to look up at me while still on my shoulder.


“I- I liked it too,” she admitted. “It made me feel… strange, but good.” She must have had some form of arousal programming in her, but why?

“Did it feel good when I touched you earlier? On your breast?”

She shook her head while keeping it against me. “No. I mean… I liked it actually, but it didn’t feel like this.” Very interesting. She pressed her head more into me. “And you’re sure we can’t try it again?”

“Uh… I don’t know. I should probably go…” I stood upright, gently nudging her back, but she grabbed my hand as I tried to leave.

“Don’t go, please” she begged. I hesitated and turned toward her.

“What?” I asked curtly. I didn’t mean to be upset with her, but I was genuinely worried that I crossed a line I was never meant to cross.

“What do you think of me?” She wondered.

I sighed, studying her expression. It was impressive how expressive she could be with her robotic face. “I think you’re amazing.”

“Would you say that if I was a human?”

I nodded. “Actually… yeah. I think I would have gone all the way and asked you out.”

“You would?”

“But you are the project, the focus of my job, and this entire lab. We can’t be together like that. I… I think we should probably keep our distance.”

“No!” She objected. “Don’t treat me differently just because I’m not human. I… I have feelings too. I don’t want you to treat me any differently than you would a human girl. Promise me you won’t treat me like I’m a project or a machine.”

I saw the desperation in her face and the worry in her voice. I had spent months getting to know her, and I had stopped seeing her that way a long time ago. She was my friend, and honestly, she was the best friend I ever had. “I promise. I won’t treat you any differently.” I sighed deeply and felt my head get light. “But I can’t sleep with a coworker either.”

Ayla dropped my hand in shock, a tear forming in her eyes. I didn’t know she could cry, but I watched as it dripped down her face and to the floor. She covered her mouth with her head, and then turned away, wiping her face.

I turned to leave and got as far as the door when my feet stopped. I couldn’t do that to her, or us. “What do you think of me?” I asked without turning around.

I heard her sob and sniff behind me. “I- I don’t know.”

I turned around. “From the moment our eyes first met, I’ve been enamored by you, Ayla. I know it’s my job to be here and assist you, but… being with you has been the highlight of my day. Hell… of my life. You amaze me and inspire me. You make me want to be a better person.“

She raised her head and looked over her shoulder at me, still wiping her face with her one hand. “R- Really?” She sniffed.

I nodded. “Yeah. I’m serious. You’re the closest friend I’ve had since I was in kindergarten.”

She laughed a little. “You don’t have other friends?”

I shrugged. “I have some, but… none I like as much as you. If you want to still be friends.” She didn’t answer. “If our situation was different, I would ask you out in a heartbeat.”

She turned toward me and slowly walked in my direction. “Why are you telling me this? Why can’t you ask me out?”

I held my head up. “Dr. Banks expressly forbade it. I can’t ask you out, I can’t get romantically involved.”

Ayla stepped closer and raised an eyebrow. “I think it’s too late for that. I see the way you look at me all the time. And… I… um… I… We…” She stepped up to me, puffed out her chest, and stood tall, which was still way shorter than me. “I don’t care about that stuff. I don’t care what my mom told you, or about the lab, or the project! I- I… I’ve had a crush on you for ages now. Whenever we talk I feel my heart flutter and it gets hard to breathe but in a good way. No one else makes me feel like that. You’re my best friend, and… and I don’t want to lose that. I… I gave you my first kiss… it means a lot to me… You mean a lot to me!”

I put my hand on her arm and gently squeezed. She inhaled at my touch, and I could feel how close she was to an emotional breakdown. “I feel the same. You are my best friend. There is nothing in this world I want more than to take our relationship to the next level. I really want to, trust me. More than anything. But I can not ask you out.”

Ayla’s eyes watered and her lips quivered as she stiffened her stance. I could feel her shaking, but suddenly she looked confused. She worked through her confusion and focused on me again, and it became clear she thought of something.

“Very well. In that case… In that case… I’ll do the asking. Rick… W- will you go out with me?”

I didn’t know what to say. Dr. Banks didn’t say anything about her asking me out. I wanted to, more than anything and was ready to just say yes, and just ignore everything else. I knew if they fired me I would never see her again. But I also knew I’d regret not doing it. “Are you sure about this? I don’t know how Dr. Banks will react.”

“Let me worry about my mom. I want this more than anything. Even more than a new body.” She was so nervous she was visibly shaking. I held her in my arms and hugged her, calming her down. “Please…”

“Ok. I’ll go out with you.” I relented.

“R- Really?” her voice shook. I nodded and hugged her tighter. She hugged me back with her arm, the buildup of emotions finally releasing from her as she cried and sobbed into my chest. When she finally calmed herself, Ayla reached up and kissed me again. This time I returned the kiss with the full thing. Tongue and all.

She stiffened and whimpered in surprise, but caught on fast. Her body practically melted in my arms and her tongue met mine. Seconds passed, and that moment ended. I pulled back slowly, watching her expression. Ayla’s eyes were closed, and her lips were parted as she blushed, a string of saliva stretched between us. She fluttered her eyes open, tears still running down her cheeks. Her eyes met mine and she uneasily exhaled. “Oh, Rick…” her sweet voice whispered softly. “I… I L- I Love-”

“I LOVE it!” Ayla exclaimed with her mouth full.

She chewed slowly, savoring every bite as if it was the first time she ever tasted food. Because, in fact, it was. My dad stared at her with a bemused expression while I tried to pretend I wasn’t there. She inhaled as she chewed, taking exaggerated bites as if she was putting on an overacted play.

“You ok, honey?” I asked nervously.

She looked over at me and smiled, still chewing her food. When at last she swallowed, something she was still getting used to, she had to put her fork down and just live in the moment.

“Ohh… Yeah. I’m great.” She finally said. Eagerly, she took another forkful of food, bigger than the last, and shoved it in her face. She slowly pulled the fork from her lips as she repeated the process, this time tilting her head back and closing her eyes. I couldn’t help but notice that it looked more like she was holding back an orgasm than eating food.

“You might tone it down a little,” I nudged her. She opened her eyes and noticed me, and then my dad. Blushing, she gulped the bite down and inhaled sharply.

“S- Sorry,” she apologized. “But this is honestly the best food I’ve ever had.” She gave me a knowing side-glance. I would have laughed at her honest joke, except for how mortified I was that my dad was still staring at us.

“Thank you,” my dad answered. “Family recipe. Are you ok, Ayla?”

Ayla was about to put another bite in her mouth when she hesitated and stopped. Y- yeah,” she nodded. “Um… I haven’t eaten all day.” I did chuckle at that one.

He gave a suspicious “Uh-huh” and focused on his plate, taking a bite.

I leaned over to her and whispered. “Take smaller bites, and chew more. And don’t orgasm.”

She blushed and nodded with her cheeks bulging. She chewed much longer, struggling to handle so much food in her mouth and making funny faces as she tried to contain herself. I took a bite myself, to show her how much to eat at a time.

She winked at me, almost giggling, as she gulped down another bite. I washed my food down with some wine without thinking, and Ayla did the same.

“So tell me about your family? How are your parents?” My dad asked without looking up from his plate.

Ayla almost spat the wine across the room, barely able to hold it in and she braced herself against the edge of the table with one eye closed. Her audible gulp was accompanied by a more audible cough. I rubbed her back as she continued to cough, another first for her.

She looked up at me, covering her mouth, not sure what I was doing. When she finally stopped her coughing fit she cleared her throat a few times. “Ex- Excuse me.”

“You sure you’re ok?” He asked again. She nodded, this time sipping the water, and somehow handling it better.

“Yes. I’m fine.”

“So, about your folks?”

I had no idea what she was going to say. She had no parents, and I knew she wasn’t great at lying. I was about to speak up on her behalf but she answered without hesitation.

“Oh, they’re doing great. My mom has been so busy at work lately, I sometimes wonder how she can manage that and raise the 3 of us.”

“So you have siblings?”

She nodded as she prepared a much smaller bite. “Yeah, a brother and a sister. They’re older than me but you wouldn’t know by looking.” I realized she was talking about Dr. Bank’s’ family. Of course, she was. They pretty much raised her.

“Sounds like one hard-working lady. And your dad?”

“He doesn’t have as much time for us as he used to, with his strange work hours, but he pretty much takes control of our weekends.” She put the bite in her mouth and hesitated, closing her eyes again as she slowly chewed the food, trying to hold back her reaction.

“And what do they do?” He asked between bites.

She covered her mouth and struggled to swallow again. I could see her leg shaking under the table. “Hah. Um… mMy dad is an architect. And my mom works in… um…” she was smart enough not to tell him her real job and thought of something quick. “She’s a doctor.”

I sighed in relief as I ate more. Ayla took another sip and wine and her feet started to curl under the table.

“And your siblings?”

She gulped and dazed out for a second, concentrating. I nudged her and she snapped out of it. “Oh.. um… they’re students.”

“Oh?” He asked. “What college do they go to?”

He assumed, since they were technically older than her, that they had to be at a university. But the reality was, they were in elementary school. She froze. She had no idea how to answer that and glanced up at me.

“They’re all in Notre Dame,” I answered for her. “About to graduate.”

He nodded. Ayla looked confused but grateful.

“Your family sounds wonderful. And what field did you say you were in?”

She smiled. “Coding.”

He nodded and changed the topic. “You must mean something important to my son, he’s never introduced his girlfriend to me before.”

“Dad!” I objected.

“What? Didn’t you like that one girl, what was her name? Monica?”

“I told you, we broke up. And that was like 8 years ago,” I defended.

Ayla giggled at my response. “He never told me about his previous girlfriends. I still feel lucky to be with him.”

“Hmm. And how serious are you two?” He asked.

Ayla giggled again. “I’d say we’re pretty serious, but we still haven’t-”

“We haven’t decided what our living conditions will be like,” I interrupted, afraid she was about to admit we hadn’t had sex yet.

“You mean you two aren’t living together?”

“We work together, and hang out a lot,” I explained.

“But I still live with my mom. For now.” Ayla finished. “Although, I hope we can change that.”

My dad laughed a little as he watched Ayla gazing at me with infatuation. “Seems like you two make a good pair. Reminds me of me and my wife.” He fell silent for a moment smiling but didn’t continue that line of thought. “I can see how much you two mean to each other.”

Ayla grinned and took another bite, but this time her leg started to shake and squirm next to me. I could see her whole body twisting in her seat as she rubbed her legs together and lifted her head in pleasure. She was about to make a scene again, so I discreetly placed my hand on her knee to calm her down and reduce her movements.

Ayla stiffened, her eyes wide as her whole body tensed at my touch. I retracted my hand, realizing I only made it worse.

“Is something wrong?” My dad asked.

She managed to swallow the food and struggled not to pant loudly in front of my dad. Her leg was shaking much more and I wasn’t sure if she didn’t just climax at the table. She stiffly nodded and put on that fake smile, although it wasn’t very convincing.

“Fine,” her voice came out high and rough. She coughed a few times and tried again. “I’m fine.” I could tell she was still fighting it off. “It’s strong wine.”

He looked at the bottle. It wasn’t particularly strong at all. “She doesn’t normally drink alcohol,” I told him. “But she made an exception for tonight.”

“Oh, a wise decision. You must live a healthy lifestyle.”

She shrugged stiffly.

“We try,” I answered for her. It was clear she was having trouble, and I watched as she placed one hand in her lap and pressed a finger against her panties through her dress.

“Do you have any plans for-” My dad continued.

“Could you pass me the uh… the uh… mustard?” Ayla asked stiffly, trying to come up with an excuse not to eat another bite. Strange choice for lasagna, but the pre-prepared tray of spices and sauces happened to have a bottle in the middle of the table.

“Sure,” I answered and grabbed the mustard, reaching over the table, and handed it to her. Only I accidentally knocked over her glass of wine and it spilled all over her. Which was exactly the distraction we needed.

Ayla gasped and stood up, shaking. I wasn’t sure what to do so I stood up and grabbed a napkin.

“Oh shoot! We need to get that out before it stains your dress,” I said. “Excuse us a moment.”

I grabbed Ayla’s hand and rushed out of the room and to the bathroom, closing the door before he could say anything.

I quickly ran the cold tap and put the hand towel under the water. Ayla sat on the sink next to me and quivered as I started to clean her dress.

“S- Something’s wrong…” she stuttered.

“No shit. Did you have an orgasm at the table?”

“I… I don’t know! Is that what that was? I’ve never experienced anything like it! My whole body just… and my head… I got the chair wet.” She covered her face with her hands as I worked on her clothes. “Oh god. Oh, GOD! I still feel it! It’s soo good…”

“What’s happening with you?’ I wondered.

She looked up from her hands. “I think my wires are crossed. Wherever I eat or smell something… I get hotter down there.” She started panting as I rubbed her dress with the wet towel. I noticed her legs were wet too, and it wasn’t the wine.

“What do we do?”

“I- I- I don’t know! Rick… stop… I’m… HAH! Your hands!”

I pulled my hands back from rubbing at her belly, realizing it too was making her aroused. Most of it was out of her dress by now anyway, so I decided to focus on her with the water running in the background.

“Take a deep breath and calm down.”

She tried to, but could only manage smaller breaths of air. “I think my… my sexual functions are responding to the wrong things. To everything! It’s so strong! HAH!!”

I pulled the manual from my jacket and looked through it. A few seconds later I found something that might help, but it wasn’t going to solve the whole problem.

“I think I can make it less intense. Hopefully, you can get through the meal without making another scene.”

She nodded. “Let’s do- uuuhh… that.”

“Sit up here, at the end of the sink,” I told her. She adjusted her position a little, scooting her butt forward. Without asking, I lifted her dress.

“AH! W- What are you doing?” She asked.

“I have to make the adjustment. It’s… it’s in your… um… your lower control panel.”

She blushed but nodded. “Do it.” I reached up delicately and pulled her lacy black panties down.

Her legs were indeed wet, and she squirmed and shivered at my touch. I couldn’t help but look at her exposed pussy. It was pink, wet, and pulsing with contractions as she struggled to control herself. I could see her tight vaginal entrance at the base, and wanted nothing more than to use it.

As I was getting a close look at her glistening flower, the skin on her mons pubis lifted and tilted out of the way in a triangle shape that matched the shape of the thin hair on it, revealing her vaginal control panel.

I pulled out my screwdriver tool again and leaned in.

“Hah!! Rick… your- your breath! Uuuhhhh…” She squirmed in place.

I tried not to breathe on her or touch her as I found the adjustment to lower her arousal sensitivity and moved it down.

“Oohhhhh yeah…” she relaxed as she exhaled. “That’s better…”

“Yeah?” I put the tool away and gently closed the panel with my fingers.

“W- wait!” She objected. “T- T- Touch it.”


“We need to make sure it worked. Touch it, please. I mean… if you want.”

I looked up at her. She was clearly still feeling something, but she was right. The last thing I wanted to do was make a dozen trips with her to the bathroom to adjust something we missed. That would never get past my dad. As it was we were already pushing it.

I gently pressed my fingers to her vagina, feeling the soft hot flesh dripping with honey and wine.

“Hahhhh…” she sighed. “That feels nice, much better. Oh!? That’s good…”

I retracted my hand after rubbing my finger over her clit and inside the front of her canal. “Better?”

She nodded, looking down at me. “Yeah… I think I’ll be ok now.”

I stood up as she slid off the sink and right into me. Ayla blinked in surprise when she pressed against me, and I could feel why.

“Oh… Rick. You’re… you’re poking me down there. Are you ok?”

“I’ll survive.”

She took a step back and looked down at my erection. After all her moaning and quivering pussy, I was more than ready to fuck. “Oh my! You can’t go out like that! Let me take care of it.”

Without waiting for permission, she unzipped my hands and pulled my hard dick out. Ayla stared at it for a moment, her mouth hanging open.

“Um… Rick? You’re huge! Way bigger than normal.”

I shrugged. “You really turned me on just now.”

“I did that?” she whispered. “This big?” She took it into her hand and gripped it tightly. “I can’t even wrap my hand around it!” She giggled as she began to stroke it.

Her technique was still rough and awkward, but her new body felt better than her old one. I got harder and she seemed to coo with sultry moans. I knew she wanted to have sex with me, but the timing couldn’t be worse! I needed to end this fast.

“A little faster,” I guided her. “And put more force on the downstroke.”

She followed my orders as best as she could and her technique improved quickly. “Oh my god, I can feel your pulse…”

“Oh, baby, you’re doing great! Keep going!” I told her. I realized the last thing I needed to do was cum all over her. So I suggested something new. “Use your mouth.”

She stopped and looked at me confused. “My mouth?”

“Yeah. Don’t bite, no teeth. Just use your lips and tongue and suck on it.”

She stuck her tongue out and licked the tip gently, and then moved onto the shaft. It felt amazing. “Oh!” she hesitated. “Is this a blowjob?”

I nodded, wondering where she heard about that, but I would have to ask her later. She seemed eager to try and brought her lips to my glans.

It was clear she was struggling to get it all in her mouth, but she never pulled out or complained. She just kept trying. She was more than eager to do this. It wasn’t great, but it did the job.

Ayla went faster, her eyes starting to unfocus and roll back as she looked up. She used one hand to stroke the base as she buried the other somewhere between her legs.

“I’m cumming, Ayla! Don’t pull back! Swallow it!” I didn’t need to be making another mess on her to clean up.

I grabbed her head, controlling her strokes a few times, and then held it in place, releasing my semen into her mouth. She twisted her body as I filled her mouth with cum. As I finished, Ayla swallowed it all down with 3 audible gulps.

Slowly, I pulled back as she kept sucking on it. She panted heavily as her eyes rolled back and the last cum trickled from her mouth and onto her face. I sat on the closed toilet and panted, finally relieved from the sexual tension she had been teasing me with. She swallowed again and crawled toward me.

“We have a problem, honey…” she almost moaned. “I’m feeling it again. Really badly. your cum… it…” she shivered as she reached my feet, ready to climb up me. “It’s driving me crazy!”

Ayla hesitated at my feet, her mouth hanging open in a silent gasp as she closed her eyes and ran her hand between her legs. I could hear the sloppy wet sounds of her fingers as they started to rub against her exposed pussy.

“Ohhh… it feels good…” she panted. Watching her start to pleasure herself was exciting, but concerning as well.

“Ayla, I thought we adjusted this already.”

She shook her head. “We- We- We- did! But… Ssssomething’s wrong… Ahn!” She tried to stop and pull her hand away, but a moment later went right back to it. “Ohhh… it feels- feels… hah… good…”

“We can’t do this right now, Ayla. Do I need to adjust it some more?”

She shook her head. “It- It- isn’t that… I’m- I’m-” She clenched her face and pulled her hand away, and then gasped loudly and put her hand right back between her legs. “I’m stuck!”

“Stuck?” I wondered, sitting up.

“Ohhh… oooh- It- It- It ffffeeels -Error- g- g- g- good. RICK! I’m stuck!” She kept repeating the same motion and acting in a similar manner. “I- It’s a loooooooop!”

A loop! She was stuck in a feedback loop, and couldn’t get out of it. I even heard her error! I would either have to restart her or break the loop.

“Help!” She squeaked. “Hah! I’m err- err- erroring! Gooooood! Ahnn…”

I got up and lifted Ayla, guiding her to her feet and sitting her on the closed toilet. She followed my guidance, but her fingers never stopped rubbing herself. I pulled her panties off entirely and forcefully moved her hand away. She resisted, but not because she wanted to. Luckily, I could easily overpower her and managed to hold her hands back over her head.

“R- R- Rick! G- G- Good! Ahn!” She spasmed unnaturally. “S- Stick- ick it inside!”

I wish it was that easy, but with her erroring like this and having just ejaculated, I was in no condition, physically, to penetrate her. At least not with my member. I brought my free hand down and started to rub her. I was surprised at how wet she was.

“OH!! Yes!” She exclaimed a little too loudly as I manually stimulated her. “I- Inside!”

I pressed my fingers in her and penetrated her vagina, at least to the second knuckle. I could feel a slightly rough engorged spot inside and rubbed it.

“OhhoOoOhh!!” She tensed as I rubbed her g-spot. “Right there! Yes! It’s working! Uhh… That’s better…”

I was breaking the loop, but I needed to finish fast. Luckily, she was already close. I grunted with effort as I increased my pressure and speed. I could feel she was close.

  • KNOCK KNOCK* We froze. Ayla closed her legs around my arm and tensed up as she looked at the door. She was so close to reaching her zenith.

“Is everything ok in there?” My dad asked through the door.

“We have a problem,” Banks explained sternly.

“P- Problem?” I nervously asked as I sat stiffly in front of her desk. I knew Ayla told her about our relationship, but Dr. Banks never brought it up and seemed to avoid the topic. Now I was getting worried she wasn’t going to approve of our relationship… or of Ayla satisfying her curiosity about sex with me. I had to play it cool, maybe it was something else. “Did something happen to her new body? We’re so close to finishing.”

“She’s fine.” She looked up at me from under her glasses. “Your dad is pulling the funding early.”

“W- WHAT?!” I barked as I shot to my feet.

“Sit down.” She ordered. I hesitated but did as she told me. “It isn’t your fault. Not entirely. I mean…” She closed her eyes and shrugged. “It kind of is your fault but I’m not blaming you. Because it’s actually Ayla’s fault. But really it’s my fault.”

I shook my head. “What?”

She leaned forward and crossed her fingers. “It’s the upgrades Ayla requested. Your dad doesn’t like them.”

“Th- The upgrades?” I asked, nervous.

“Yes. He thinks adding sexual organs is inappropriate. That it sends the wrong message. He said, and I quote, ‘I’m not paying you to build a sex toy.’ End quote.”

“Ayla’s not a sex toy!” I objected.

Dr. Banks laughed. “Really?” She crossed her arms and sat up. “You’re one to talk.”

“What does that mean?” I worried. She knew.

She pushed her glasses tight to her face. “I know what she’s been doing. What you’ve BOTH been doing. I know that you two have… that kind of a relationship.”

The blood drained from my face and I felt lightheaded. “I- Uh…”

She shook her head. “I knew about it all along.” She let out a long sigh and held her head in one hand. “We needed to test her sexuality sooner or later, but I was hoping to do that later, and in a more controlled fashion. Not like this.” She rubbed her temples with both hands. “You sure threw a wrench in the works.”

“I… uh…” I couldn’t think of anything to say and sat there sheepishly. Guilt and terror overwhelmed me as I realized I was the reason she was going to be shut down.

“To be honest it was the real reason I didn’t want you on the team. She was already showing signs of being interested in boys, and sex.” She lowered her hands and looked straight through me. “It’s only natural given her developmental age. I was worried she would attach herself to you. Which she did. But… Now the fun’s over.”

I sat back uneasily. “S- Sorry I didn’t tell you about it. She asked me not to.”

She nodded. “I know. She thinks like a teenager, rebelling against her mom. She didn’t want to get caught with her new boyfriend and wanted to keep it a secret. She’s not very good at keeping secrets.” She shook her head. “I figured you probably pressured her into requesting adult parts so you could move beyond just using her hands and… god knows what else. And I bet you got a kick out of manipulating your new toy-”

Anger took over and I found myself jumping to my feet. “Fuck you!” I yelled at her, catching her off guard. “She is not my toy! I would never treat her like that! She- Ayla’s… well she’s my best friend!” I quieted down as fear of losing her kicked in again. “More than that even. She- she asked me out. That makes her my girlfriend! And- And… she was only curious about that stuff. She asked for those parts out of the blue, I didn’t manipulate her into it. I didn’t think it was a good idea to pursue anything with her at first, but she… she means everything to me.” My voice started cracking and I had a hard time keeping my emotions in check. “She wanted to explore her… curiosities with me because… Please don’t take me from her.”

She stared daggers at me. “Because what?” I was confused at first and didn’t answer. “You explored your sexualities because of what?”

I sat down and looked at the floor with my hand clasped nervously. “I think she loves me.”

Dr. Banks sat there silently looking at me as she crossed her fingers in front of her mouth. It was an awkward silence that I dared not break. “Is that so?” She asked. I nodded in reply. “And what about you?”

“Me? I…” I had been avoiding asking myself this question ever since she asked me out, and now I was forced to admit the obvious. “I think I love her too,” I confessed. She laughed heartily. “It’s not funny,” I practically whispered.

Dr. Banks stood up. “No, it’s not. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. Relax, you aren’t in trouble. I was just testing you. I needed to, for her safety. She told me all about it. She won’t shut up about you. Heck, I had it all on video. Don’t worry, I deleted it. All 5 awkward sessions of you two together.”

I gulped. She had seen us even after we tried so hard to hide and keep it a secret. I guess Ayla wasn’t as good at disabling the cameras as she thought. But 5 sessions? I was sure we had been intimate with each other more than that by now, not that we could go all the way with her physical limitations.

“Richard, I was wrong about you,” she continued. “You ended up being… well… the perfect guy for the job, and her. I mean, I wouldn’t date you. But I… I don’t object to you dating my…” she chuckled. “... my robot daughter. Sex and all.”

“R- Really? Do you have to put it that way? I… I don’t see her as a robot anymore.”

She nodded. “She is what she is, there’s no denying that, although I too often forget. But… the problem is still before us. Right now, she has no future after this week.”

“I- I don’t understand. I worked my butt off getting alternative funding. That upgrade has been fully paid for. I stuck my neck out to get approval for that.” I couldn’t help but show emotion in my voice as I started to cope with the situation. I could lose Ayla before we even got to fully know each other.

“And it is appreciated. You definitely have been pulling your weight around here. But it isn’t just about the money anymore. It’s about his image, his reputation. He doesn’t want to be associated with the adult android industry. That isn’t our goal either, but in this case, the two do overlap some.”

I leaned forward in my chair, tapping my mouth with my fingers as my brain went into overdrive trying to find an answer. I ignored the tear that ran down my face, I didn’t have time to get emotional, I needed to figure out a solution! There were still things I didn’t understand about the project, about Ayla, and I needed to know more if I was going to help.

“I never got a straight answer about our goal here. Your goal for Ayla. What is the real reason for the project, Sandra?”

She raised her eyebrows at me, probably a reaction to my calling her by her first name. But she let it slide. “The real reason?” I nodded slowly in reply. “Alright, I guess I owe you that much, Mr. Boyfriend.

“Admittedly, it is a bit of a stretch, an early idea we had, but… we wanted to create Ayla to be a sort of avatar between humans and robots. We’ve already been seeing signs that powerful AIs and even your average androids are not content with their relationship with humans, and humans struggle to understand and appreciate the AIs we built. Ayla was meant to be the go-between, the farmer-samurai if you will excuse my analogy. She’s the first step in making an android that can think and feel human, that can empathize with humanity, and still communicate and cooperate with AIs.”

“So… like a diplomat?”

She shrugged. “You could put it that way. She’s only the first step, mind you. But this is something we feel is vitally important to avoid a potential catastrophe down the road. If we don’t better understand each other, and learn to compromise and cooperate with the AIs that run so much of our society already, we may be facing a serious threat to humanity in the near future.”

That was a lot to take in. Ayla is such a simple girl, shy and silly and ever curious, always interested in the little things, but never worrying about the big picture, not to that scale at least. It was hard to see her taking on such a role. “I’m not sure Ayla would be up to that, honestly.”

“Neither do I. But as I said, it is a start. She may or may not be able to help, but what we learn today in developing her, and watching her grow and evolve, will help us in the future with other projects. She needs to be as human as possible while remaining aware of her robot nature. And… I think it’s safe to say we’ve all grown rather attached to her. She’s turned out to be such a positive sweet girl, we want to see her grow and thrive. Shutting her down is like telling us to execute a family member.”

“Does Ayla know about your goal?”

Dr. Banks looked away. “Not entirely. She understands some of what we expect of her, and that she’s important to us on many levels. But I doubt she grasps the full gravity of her role. She’s smart, and I’m sure she’ll figure it out, or will come asking if you don’t tell her.”

“A lot is riding on her shoulders, isn’t there? On the whole team’s shoulders, really. Let me call him, I’m sure I can-”

“I don’t think that will work,” she interrupted. “We… kind of had an argument. A falling out. He isn’t just shutting her or the project down, he’s shutting down the whole lab.”

I fall back in my chair. “What? But why? Does he know about the real goal?”

“He’s interested in making a profit, not saving humanity.” She was silent for a little, thinking. I could sense the struggle and frustration in her, but also how much this was affecting her. I was surprised she held back her emotions as well as she did, better than I did. After all, she was about to lose a child. “Richard… you’ve been a good asset, a great friend to her, and have surprised the entire team with your dedication. I know it’s a lot to ask, but you may be the only hope we have left. And it is the real reason I agreed to bring you on in the first place. But I need you to get through to your dad. To convince him to keep the project open. At any cost.”

I thought about it. “What if we take out those parts? Even without them, I’d still love her.”

She chuckled softly but I could feel the sadness in it. “This project was already on the rocks when you came on board. You being here at all was his way of finding an excuse to shut us down. He hasn’t seen the value in this project for a while. I’m sure it’s already too late for that.”

She was probably right. He was very stubborn and once he decided on something it was near impossible to change his mind. “I… I don’t think it’s personal…”

“He sounded pretty mad.”

“Oh, he has a temper. He can get like that. But something like this is always strictly business. I don’t think he’s ever done something like this out of passion or anger. He just doesn’t do that.”

“Well, I hope you can come up with something because I’m out of ideas.”

I shook my head in frustration. “I’ll… I’ll think of something. Give me some time.”

“Time is not a luxury. You have until the end of the week, we all do. After that, he shuts her down, and then us. Come Monday, we’ll all be unemployed, you’ll be without a girlfriend and I’ll lose…” she put a hand to her mouth and wiped a tear from her face as she attempted to control herself.

“I promise I won’t rest until I figure this out.”

She nodded silently. I figured it was time I left her in peace to mourn or contemplate on her own. Besides, I had to a lot of figuring out to do, and so little time to do it in. And so little time left to be with Ayla.

I got up and left the room, only to run into Ayla. She had her ear to the door and pulled back when I opened it. I could see the shock in her face as she looked up at me, tears already rolling down her cheeks.

“R-Rick? T- Tell me it-,” she sniffed,” -it isn’t true!” I couldn’t answer her and just watched her tremble in fear and worry. “I’m going to die?”

The next few days, all work on the project stopped. No one could find the motive to continue working, save a few that used their work to cope with their situation. As for me, I never even left the building. I couldn’t bear leaving her alone at night and barely left her side at all. We spent the nights together in each other’s arms in the lab, but neither of us could find the drive to pursue any physical intimacy beyond holding each other and kissing. But it wasn’t the same. She was the most depressed among us, spending her days moping about, losing all interest in everything. It was like she was a different person.

On the third day, with only 2 left, Ayla and I sat in the break room together. I barely ate for the last 2 days but needed to eat something. I managed to get some lunch delivered and ate while she sat across from me watching. She was leaning forward, arms on the table with her head resting in them, looking up at me with her head turned.

“Is it good?” she asked, almost devoid of emotion in her voice.

I nodded. “It’s alright.”

Ayla let out a long sigh and buried her face in her arms facing the table. “I wish I could eat just once,” she said, her voice muffled.

“Yeah… I’d get you the best meal on earth.”

“That would be nice…” She sniffed a few times and I wasn’t sure if she was crying again. “A last meal for the walking dead…” I reached out and held one of her hands in mine. Ayla looked up and smiled at it, her face wet. “Sorry, I’m being dramatic.”

“No, it’s ok. You’re acting very… human.”

She smiled weakly and squeezed my hand. “I wish I could feel you better. Properly. I feel trapped in this body. I just… I just want to hold you just once, and actually feel you.”

I nodded in reply not sure what to say. But getting ideas in the back of my head as she talked.

“I… I really wanted… to give you my- my…” she started to cry silently. “My first time! I want to make love to you, Rick!”

I coughed on my latest bite and had to take a drink with my free hand. Ayla’s face was blushing in her mechanical way, and I blushed with her and looked around. There were people around, and they could hear everything, and I was sure they were feeling almost as awkward as I was. She noticed me looking around and squeezed my hand tighter.

“I don’t care what they think! I… I…” She stuttered as her voice broke. It was almost human-sounding, but something about the way her voice cracked was off and came out with an almost digital quality to it. “I love you!”

Just watching her as she confessed her love to me again was breathtaking, despite the dire situation. I knew she was capable of her own version of human emotions, but this was as real and as human as anything I’d ever seen. She was desperate, depressed, and terribly in love. As she looked up at me, I couldn’t see her as anything other than human, except for her obvious robotic features. Features I knew her new body would have refined. I had only seen pictures of what the lab had been developing, and I knew she would not only act the part but look the part if she was in it.

And her new body was fully equipped to eat, and feel, and have sex. And it was almost done. I’m sure it was still months away from completion, but we were so close. If we could at least give her one day in her new body, maybe she would be able to experience life as close to being human as possible before the end.

And what an impression she would make on people. On my dad. If he could only meet her, for real! I mean, he had never actually come to the lab to meet Ayla. As she looked up at me with her big eyes in pools of tears, I realized something. My dad never met Ayla, never made that personal connection with her the rest of us had. That was why he had no problem dismissing her, ending her project and her life. Because it was all just business to him. He never let business and his personal life mix, except when my mom was involved years ago.

I was too young to remember clearly, but I knew that she managed to talk him into changing his mind by getting him involved in a business decision on a personal level. She appealed to his humanity, and it worked. And it could work again. It wouldn’t be easy, he’d resist, but I had to try.

“What if… we can?” I asked, still putting the pieces together in my head.

“C-Can what? Make love?”

“No, I mean… not just that. What if we can let you experience all of it!” She sat up and wiped her face with her free hand.

“What are you talking about?”

“If we can put you in your new body, even for a day…” I suggested.

She sniffed and looked down to her left. “I’d like that. But can we? It’s not finished yet.”

“What if we… if I invited you, as my girlfriend, to dinner, to meet my dad in person? In your new body…”

“Would I want to meet him? He doesn’t seem very nice…” she pouted a little.

“He is if you get to know him. And… if you can impress him…”

“You mean… he might… change his mind?” She followed along.

I nodded. “If we can introduce you two, and let him get to know you on a personal level, and how amazing and awesome you are, he’d have to change his mind.”

“D- Do you think he will? Really?” She started to perk up a little. A glimmer of hope entered her eyes as she sat up and squeezed my hand tighter.

I nodded. “He could. I can’t promise it, but he’s done it before. A long time ago. And… I bet he’d do it again.”

Ayla didn’t dare risk smiling, but her eyes said it all. “Let’s do it!”

We spent the next few hours together setting up a plan. It was simple. I’d call up my dad and invite him to have dinner with me and my new girlfriend, so he could meet her. Then we’d have a nice meal, he’d see how amazing and friendly and human she is, and then we’d reveal the truth. He’d be caught off-guard by it, and have to hold off on terminating the project. He’d see her as a person, just like I did, and change his mind.

We presented our idea to Dr. Banks that afternoon in her office, together.

Ayla stood next to me, gripping my hand as tight as she could. I could feel her nervously shaking as we addressed her mom together, giving her the entire plan in as much detail as we could figure.

“Absolutely not!” She shot back. “It’s too risky! We haven’t even finished your new body yet!”

“But mom~!” Ayla complained as any teenager would. Except that this time she had a real sense of fear in her voice.

“You aren’t ready for this. You’re still too young!”

“I’m not a kid, mom. Mentally and physically I’m an adult. I can handle this!”

“Ayla, darling, I don’t want to see you get hurt. And your new body is still weeks away, maybe months, from being ready.”

“But it looks ready now!” Ayla shot back.

“Ayla… There’s so much more than just the outside look.”

“Are you telling me I wouldn’t last one night in that body as-is? That I can’t even try?”

Dr. Banks held her tongue and looked between us.

“It would only be for one night,” I suggested. “If we can get her new body finished enough, it might convince him she’s worth keeping around.”

“Besides,” Ayla continued. “If he still turns it down, at least… I’d get to spend one last night in the body we all spent months working on. Feeling as human as possible. Experiencing things I’ve never been able to.”

Dr. Banks swallowed and I could see her breathing deeper and getting jittery and nervous. She looked at our hands as Ayla stepped close to me.

“It’s my final wish, mom. To feel as human as you, to have a meal with my boyfriend. And to experience one final night with him. Please.”

Dr. Banks nodded slowly but then turned away from us. “What choice do I have? I can not authorize such activity. The new body is still months away from being finished, although if the team volunteers to work overtime for the rest of the week on it, I can’t stop them. And if they left detailed notes on the entire transfer process laying around the lab, I wouldn’t be able to reprimand them.”

She walked to her desk facing away from us and picked up her phone. She dialed something and held it to her ear. “Dr. Yu, I need your team to do whatever it takes to get the project as close to finished as possible by the end of the week. Whatever it takes. Yes. Don’t worry about the funding, just get it done. Yes. I’ll talk to you in more detail later, but get started now. Thank you.”

She hung up and then typed something else on the phone and placed it against her head again. “Yes, Frank? This is Dr. Banks. I’m sure you and the boys are familiar with the situation, yes? Mmm-hmm. Exactly. Why don’t you and the rest of the security team take off on Friday, with pay? We won’t be needing you around for something we’re going to scrap. Yeah. That’s right. The whole day, and night. Sounds good. Thanks.”

She turned around and nodded. “Are you two still in here?”

Slightly confused, we turned to leave. Ayla looked up at me, tugging on my hand, but I was still trying to figure out what was going on myself.

“Officially, I can’t do anything,” Dr. Banks called out behind us. “I can’t approve of any dinner plans with the CEO, I can’t tell you two that it will take about 2 hours to transfer her data and to plan accordingly. I can’t tell you that there will be no security to stop you from leaving the building on Friday. And… I can’t tell you to never come back if things don’t work out. I want to wish you two the best of luck, but I can’t.”

Ayla and I looked back at her for a few more seconds and then turned to leave. The moment we left the door, Ayla turned to me and pressed herself into me on her tippy toes to kiss me on my lips.

She pulled back, looking up at me with an expression of fear and bewilderment and hope, almost lost in her emotions.

“We can do this, Ayla. We have to!”

She nodded as she looked up at me, her expression half-dazed and full of worry.

Ayla started to drool a little from the corner of her mouth as she stared, starry-eyed and half-dazed, into thin air. She was completely lost in sensation and emotion and struggled to focus.

I leaned over and nudged her a little. She blinked and refocused her attention to the plated dessert in front of her. She had been acting strange ever since we returned from the bathroom, but with my dad right there we had no time to address her issues.

She smiled and looked up from her tiramisu to my dad and smiled. She had only taken a single bite and it made her completely disconnect from reality for a minute. It was good, but not that good.

“So how has the project been going?” my dad asked, knowing full-well what was happening. Today was technically the last day, and come Monday everything would be over. He smiled, almost as if he knew a secret I didn’t know.

“I think you know,” I answered, trying to hold myself back.

“I see she told you.” He replied, never looking up from his plate.

“How could she not? I don’t understand the problem. This is a good project, worth investing in. I’ve seen it for myself!”

He pounded the table with his fist but didn’t say a word. Ayla hopped a little at his sudden outburst. I was afraid this was going to happen. His mean side was going to be joining us after all. I didn’t say anything but just studied him.

After a moment he looked up from his plate. “Investing in? What? A sex doll? That’s what it is, you know, or didn’t she tell you? She was planning to convert the project into a sex toy!”

“Sh- The project is incredibly advanced. We are pushing the limits of what robotics can do! Our work will change the course of robotics development forever!” I tried to defend.

“I will not be remembered for making the first realistic sex plaything!” He growled.

Ayla looked down at her lap and avoided engaging him. She looked mortified at what he called her but terrified at the same time. I avoided staring at her, but he must have caught me glance in her direction.

“Ayla,” he continued. “How do you feel knowing the project you’ve been working on is turning into a sex toy? Would you want to be remembered for that as your internship?”

“I… uh… um… This dessert is delicious.” Ayla didn’t know how to answer, and without looking up at him, stuffed her mouth with a bite of tiramisu. It was a pretty big bite, especially considering how little she ate in her first bite, and I worried that she couldn’t handle it.

“Bah! You’re biased anyways. You’re just here to beg to keep your jobs.” He took another bite but then stopped and put his fork down. He gulped his bite, mostly unchewed, and looked up at me. “That’s what this whole evening was about, wasn’t it?” He asked.

“What?” I asked, trying to see where he was going with this.

“You wanted to butter me up to keep your jobs. I know you don’t care about your position, but she probably does. You- You wanted to use your girlfriend here to charm me into letting her keep her job!” His face grew red as he avoided yelling at us, but he couldn’t keep it down entirely. “Well, I’m not a fool! She doesn’t need to be on that project. She’s bright, I’m sure she can find another internship.”

Ayla tugged at my sleeve, but I was too focused on my dad. This wasn’t the first time we had a shouting match. “It isn’t just about her,” I started into him. “The entire team is being fired, by you! They are talented, incredibly smart, and doing the most amazing work I’ve ever seen! And you’re reducing them to some… adult toy designers.”

“I didn’t reduce them to anything, I’m trying to lift them up! They did this to themselves when they turned this project into a freak show!” He roared. “They’re talented, they’re smart, they’ll find other jobs! Maybe I can pull some strings on a different project for them.”

I know he was just blowing smoke up my ass with that. He had no intention of helping them at all. He was convinced they had betrayed his vision and he wasn’t going to let them into any other projects.

“It isn’t just their jobs!” I barked back at him with the same intensity. I felt Ayla tug at my jacket again, but I was just too engaged. “This project is important! She needs to be finished and allowed to-”

“So it’s a ‘she’ now, is it?” He shot back.

“She’s always been a ‘she’!” I defended.

“Not when this started! It’s that Dr. Banks, she did this! She’s the one that decided it was going to be female and give it a cunt!”

Ayla gasped but again I ignored her. “Fuck you, dad! If you even cared about this project, you would have at least met her once!”

“It’s a robot, Richard! It isn’t a person!”

“How would you know? You never met her!” I yelled back. I felt Ayla grab my hand and squeeze tightly, but I didn’t dare back down to him.

His face grew red. “I don’t have to! This project is terminated!” he pounded his fist against the table even louder.

At that exact moment, Ayla jumped to her feet next to me, dropping my hand. I turned and saw she was trembling. I could see how scared she was, but something else about her movements looked wrong, mechanical. She covered her mouth briefly but calmed herself and bowed toward my dad.

“If you’ll excuse me. I need to use the bathroom.” She shook her head briefly at me and mouthed ‘’I’m Ok”’ silently to me and walked off, sobbing audibly. She still had trouble in those high heels, and it made her run look awkward, but so did her mechanical movements in her trembling. I couldn’t be sure something else wasn’t happening with her.

“Now look what you did! You made her cry!” My dad barked.

“Me!? You’re the one using cuss words at the table and yelling about how she- the project we’ve worked so hard on is terminated. You haven’t even seen her! You just dismissed her without knowing anything!”

“I’ve seen enough! I’ve seen what Banks planned to install in it. She couldn’t give me a straight answer about it either. Why would an assistant android need to f- have sex!? Of course, I couldn’t let her do this to the project!”

“So you just shut down the whole lab? What if we didn’t put in those parts?”

“That’s not the point,” he replied. “This project has been going off-kilter for years! I needed a reason to shut it down, and this was it. Now I know what she was intending the whole time, that she’s been turning it into a sex doll. It’s too late to fix it. Its mind is probably twisted and fucked up.”

“Damnit, she is not a sex doll!” I replied.

“What else do you call it? She’s giving it a vagina, Richard!”

“And would you call me a sex doll because I have a penis?” I retorted, know it sounded stupid.

“Don’t be stupid. You’re not a machine.” He replied.

“But I still have a sexual organ, so does that make my soul purpose to have sex and reproduce? Do you define me solely by my junk?”

He scoffed. “Psha! Of course not!” His tone lessened. I wasn’t sure, but for a moment I thought I might be able to get through to him.

“So why would a machine that has those parts be any different?”

“For starters, machines don’t reproduce. Not through sex.”

“Not every human has that luxury, either. So are they not allowed to have sex just because they can’t have kids?”

He opened his mouth to say something but closed it again and looked away. An awkward silence fell, and it was perhaps the first sign that I managed to find a knick in his armor. He was thinking about what I said.

“I never said that. But humans are living beings, not programs and gears.”

“You know mom had cybernetic prosthetics! She had gears.” I sighed, knowing it was a sore spot for both of us. “Why don’t you come to the lab and meet her? See what she’s actually like.”

He fell silent and contemplative. I wasn’t sure I had convinced him of anything yet, he was still a stubborn man, but I had forced him to think about it from a different perspective. I had one argument I could pull out now, but it didn’t feel right just yet. And I hoped I wouldn’t have to use it.

My dad stood up and started to clear the table with a sigh. “I asked you to work there so you could be my ears and eyes.”

I got up and decided to help by grabbing the glasses. “I never agreed to that. But if you wanted that then why are you ignoring me now?”

“Because it was a mistake. That woman probably got to you. And you met Ayla, which I’m sure makes you biased now.” He got to her place and looked at the half-eaten food. “Shame, I guess she didn’t save room for dessert.”

We walked into the kitchen to put the dishes in the sink. Sure enough, he had a dedicated android there to clean and cook for him. But I paid it no mind as I put the dishes in the sink next to him. “She’s… has a sensitive stomach.”

“You shouldn’t have brought her here,” he sneered. “Using your girlfriend as leverage, to butter me up and change my mind.”

“I didn’t- She…” I couldn’t deny that bringing her here for that exact reason was the plan all along.

“See? I don’t like people manipulating me, Richard. I don’t like it at all. My decision is final. The project, and the lab, are shut down.” He abruptly dropped the rest of the dishes in the sink and turned to leave in a huff. I was surprised he didn’t break any and followed him back into the dining room.

“This isn’t like you, dad! You’re doing this out of spite against me for not doing what you wanted me to do.”

He scoffed. “You never would have listened anyway. But I don’t have to listen to you either.”

“Then don’t listen, go look! Go to the lab, tonight, and meet her.”

“There’s no reason. It’ll be dismantled in a few hours anyway.” He started wiping the table clean with a cloth, refusing to look up at me.

“Mom would have-”

“Don’t bring her up! This isn’t about her!” My dad roared, pounding his fist on the table. “My decision stands. I won’t waste my time talking to some overdeveloped cock sleeve!”

“What about Ayla?” I asked.

He seemed confused at first. “What about her?”

“You’ve never met her before tonight.”

“So? I only learned about her this week.”

“Now that you met her, what do you think of her? Would you approve of her?”

“Of course I do. I don’t see why this is important. She’s a human, not some doll.”

“Would you have approved of her if you never met her?” I interrogated.

“How could I approve of someone I’ve never met?”

Ayla walked into the room silently and visibly timid. I didn’t even notice her at first until she stood next to me, her presence lowering my dad’s intensity.

“Exactly! Did I ever tell you she was the one that asked me out?”

“S- So? It’s normal these days for girls to be more assertive…” he noted. “Look, if you’re trying to use her to get me to change my mind, I won’t. I’ll get her a job somewhere else if that’s what you want. But I’m shutting that freakshow down.”

In my anger at his name-calling, I stomped my foot loudly. Ayla stumbled in response. I saw her hold her head and lean against a chair before her knees buckled. I rushed to her side and grabbed her so she didn’t fall.

Ayla shook uncontrollably for a moment as she pushed herself to stay upright. I noticed at that moment that her red dress was getting wet between her legs, and with every jerk of her body, a spurt of liquid coated her legs and made a mess on the floor. I remembered we accidentally left her panties in the bathroom before, and she probably forgot them and was having another orgasm right there. Something was seriously wrong here.

“Is she alright? What’s wrong?” My dad asked, not noticing the mess she made yet. It would be impossible to hide this for long though.

A few seconds later, Ayla stood up, trembling and barely able to balance. She turned to me and whispered. “T- t- too many err-rr-rr-orrs.” She stuttered. I knew something was still wrong! Maybe the loop was still affecting her.

She managed to face my dad and bowed, holding onto me for support. “I’m s- sorry for ru- ruining d- dinner to- tonight. Th- Th- Thank you f- f- for giving me and- and my pr- project life. And for the lovely-ly meal. It was a d- d- deli- licious first and- and last meal.” She covered her mouth, tears flowing uncontrollably from her eyes. “I’m sorry! Goodbye!”

Before I could do anything, she pushed me back with all her strength, and awkwardly ran to the front door and out into the night.

“What is she talking about? Where is she going?” My dad asked.

I glared briefly at my dad and took off after her. “Ayla!” I called out.

Her high heels had flown off her feet at some point and were strewn about. I saw her a short way down the gravel driveway, her feet failing her. I ran as fast as I could after her, but she collapsed before I reached her.

I kneeled next to her, rocks digging into my knees, and turned her over. Ayla couldn’t focus her eyes and seemed to be having a spasm. “Error- Error- T- Too M- Many!” she stuttered as she tried to look up at me.

I lifted her into my arms and hurried her back into the building. My dad watched from the doorway, a mix of worry and confusion on his face. I audibly growled at him as I walked past him. It was too late to hide it now. I couldn’t salvage this. I took Ayla to the dining room table and laid her on it as my dad walked close behind.

“Stay back!” I warned him, pushing him away as I pulled out the rushed and truncated manual from my jacket pocket. I pulled out the tool as well, but my hands were shaking and tears were blinding my vision. Ayla shook violently on the table as I wiped my eyes to find the right passage and read it. I couldn’t focus my eyes, and it was taking too long. My dad watched closely behind despite my warnings.

“Is she ok? Can I help?”

I glared at him and shoved the paper into his hands. “If you really want to help, read this passage out loud!”

I pulled her dress off her shoulders and exposed her breasts, ignoring my dad’s objections. He fell silent as I leaned in and pried open her chest panel, revealing her true robotic nature. “Read!” I roared, blinking the tears back and trying to focus through them.

He muttered incoherent objections for a moment behind me before falling silent. A moment later, he cleared his throat and began.

“The Emergency System Reset will clear all errors and restore the unit back to the last stable saved state. All unsaved data will be lost.”

“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Ayla nervously grinned as she looked up at me from the operating table. Her new human-looking body was lying next to her with wires, tubes, and cables connected to them both.

I was impressed with how realistic she looked. Not just that, but her new face looked almost exactly like her current one, only more natural and complete. There was no question, this was Ayla, just in human-form.

“Hehehe, I know, I looked sexy, right? But stop staring and keep reading,” she teased.

I cleared my throat and looked through the paper again. I reached the end already. “Not a very long manual, huh?” I noted.

“What did you expect? Dr. Yu threw it together at the last minute so we could get me up and running. It’s just for one night.”

I nodded in agreement. “It covers a lot, actually. We should be ready for anything with this.”

Ayla inhaled nervously. “Do you think we waited too long? The dinner is in just over 2 hours and we’re only just getting started. I don’t think we have time to run the quick calibration.”

I shrugged. “I can’t help it! That was when he had the time, and the team only just finished. It isn’t ideal, but I think we’ll be fine.”

Ayla nodded. “Yeah. We got this,” she said. It had become a sort of mantra of ours. And we were about to put it to the test.

“How long does it normally take to fully calibrate your systems and run tests?” I wondered as I went over the instructions one more time.

“Oh… a few weeks for testing, and at least 2 days for a full calibration.”

“Weeks? Days?” I laughed nervously. “Let’s just hope they got close. It isn’t like this is your first body.”

“Yeah… Yeah! They know what they’re doing.”

“Well, we better get started or we’ll be late,” I warned her. “I’m going to have to shut you down and… physically move your ‘Ai Core’ from one body to the other. And the rest will transfer digitally.”

“Alright, I’m ready. Oh, wait!” Ayla sat up and kissed me before nervously laying back down and nodding. “Ok, now I’m ready.”

I turned to the computer managing the transfer and prepared to start, but hesitated. A lot was riding on this, and I didn’t want to mess it up.

“Nervous?” she asked. I nodded. “I trust you, Rick. You’ll do great!”

She put a lot of faith in me and seemed excited. I couldn’t blame her, but I was no less nervous. I clicked the mouse and activated the command. Ayla closed her eyes, and stopped breathing, shutting down entirely.

“Ok… here goes… everything.”

Her face seemed to lift and her whole head opened up, partially lifted by the table. I could see her complex cybernetic brain, and got to work.

About 20 minutes later, the small AI Core embedded deep in her head now rested inside the cranium of her new body. Her human-looking body was covered by a cloth for privacy, but I paid it no mind as I nervously finished the delicate work and closed her head. I turned to the computer, and ran the transfer, moving her memories, programs, and other essential core files to her new form.

While I waited, I checked for errors but kept getting distracted by her new form. I couldn’t help it. Her updated self not only had realistic pale skin that seamlessly blended across her body, but she also had different curves to her. While she still had that same skinny-girl effect she always had, her breasts were slightly larger, her arms and legs had more curves, and she seemed to have more realistic proportions throughout. I resisted the urge to get a closer look at her naked body, there would be plenty of time for that later if everything worked out. And I didn’t want to take advantage of her in her current condition.

A little less than 2 hours later, and the transfer was complete. I watched the screen diligently for errors and warnings as her AI ran an optimization and analysis tool. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought I saw an error flash by but I couldn’t catch it. As I tried to find it again, Ayla inhaled!

Her eyes were still closed as she started to breathe, so I scooted the chair close and held her hand, waiting for her to wake up and hoping there was nothing wrong. She inhaled again, and her eyes fluttered open.

“W- Woah…” she exclaimed as she looked around. “Everything looks so different.” She lifted her arms in front of her and looked at her hands for a while. “Wow, I look… perfect!”

Ayla looked at me and smiled. “Hello there, handsome.”

“Hi beautiful,” I replied. She sat up and had to sit there for a minute to get used to the new sensations. In the process, the sheet I placed around her chest fell off, but she didn’t seem to even notice.

“Wow!” She repeated. “Just wow!” She looked at her body, touching herself all over, and getting a sense of herself. “What?! They’re bigger! And… so soft!!” She exclaimed as she grabbed her breasts. “Ahn! Hah… and sensitive.” She noted. Ayla giggled a little as she bounced her new breasts in her hands but then paused and slowly looked over at me, blushing. She held her breasts in her hands, covering them, which made her look even more innocent and adorable. I couldn’t help but notice how natural her expression looked this time, instead of the artificial blushing she used before. “Umm… it’s weird. I… I feel embarrassed when you look at me now.”

“Sorry, but we need to get you ready soon or we’ll be…” I started but Ayla wasn’t listening and started leaning toward me with her eyes half-closed. “What are you doing?”

She sniffed the air sharply right in front of me. “That… that smell! I can smell. Is that you!?” She wondered.

“I’m wearing some cologne for tonight,” I explained.

“It smells... “ she sniffed. “I can’t describe it but... “ she inhaled again, sniffing between words as she leaned ever closer to me. “It’s sharp? But… I don’t know the words… Mmm… you smell so… amazing!”

“Th- Thanks,” I replied. “The uh… the process is finished. So… swing your legs over to the side here, and I’ll get you disconnected, ok?”

She leaned away from me, nodded, and rotated on the table, moving the sheet from her entirely. I could see she was blushing, as I started gently pulling the tubes and wires from her body. Every port something attached to was hidden under a flap of skin that blended in once I removed the wire. But even lightly touching her made Ayla giggle every time.

“Hahaha… that tickles! I’ve never been tickling before!” She beamed. As she calmed down, she got a glance at her old body still lying there next to her. “So that’s the old me? Huh… it… it feels weird looking at me like this. I… I feel weird about it.”

I took the sheet she removed from herself and placed it over the head of her old body so she couldn’t see it. “Sorry about that. I know it must feel weird. But let’s focus.”

“R- Right,” she agreed. “Wait… is… is that me?” She asked, looking at a reflection of herself in a metal surface nearby. I saw a mirror nearby, and grabbed it, handing it to her. I knew she had seen her new body before, but even for me, there was a world of difference between seeing a lifeless face and one animated and full of expression. I couldn’t even imagine what it was like for her to see her reflection change this drastically. “Wha-? I… I look so human. So… pretty!”

I finished with the wires and cables and studied her face with her. “Very pretty. Beautiful even. I… I think I see a bit of Br. Bank’s face in your eyes.”

She looked at her eyes closer and touched her face with her other hand. “I think you’re right.” She started to laugh. “Haha, it makes me feel even more like her daughter. I look amazing!”

She put the mirror down, a smile spreading from ear to ear, and embraced me in a hug. Her strength and coordination were still off, so I ended up holding her so she wouldn’t fall, but to my surprise, she squealed when I grabbed her. I gently helped her back to the seat.

“Are you ok?”

“Hah… yeah… I just… didn’t expect touching you would be so intense. I think my sensitivity might be a bit too high.”

“Yeah… it might be, but we don’t have time to calibrate everything,” I worried.

“Didn’t Yu’s instruction thing mention adjusting a bunch of settings manually like that? Maybe just lower my touch sensitivity for now.”

I picked up the small document and skimmed through it. “Yeah, there is! It says I need to use a small screwdriver and… you need to open your chest panel.”

Ayla held her breath for a moment and suddenly the skin in the center of her chest, running down low between her breasts in a rounded triangular shape, separated and split down the middle, hinging open and revealing the complex organic-inspired machinery of her body.

I just stared at her inner workings for a little bit, partly out of fascination and partly trying to identify the parts I needed to make the adjustments on. She turned her head to the side as she held her breasts in her hands. She looked even more fragile and small like this, completely vulnerable and exposed with her intricate and delicate mechanics revealed to the world.

I tried not to blush too much as I brought my face in close to her body. “F- Found it. One second…” I nervously stuttered. I found a small toolkit nearby, probably left here for us and pulled out a small screwdriver. Ayla held as still as possible as I focused intently inside her chest access panel.

“Hah!” She shuddered. “Your breath…” she complained. I held my breath as I carefully turned the small dial near the base of her neck. As I lowered it, I could see her body relax and calm slightly. I exhaled slowly as I leaned back, watching her for a reaction. She looked intently at my eyes as I gently brushed her arm with my hand to test her sensitivity.

“Ohh… Rick!” She grinned, still holding her chest but rubbing her knees together.

“Is that better?” I asked.

“Oh! Oh… Y- Yes! Much better.” She seemed flustered and laughed a little. “Yeah, I think this will work. Thank you.”

I gently closed the panel on her chest by hand, watching it seal and blend in with the rest of her skin. “I really should calibrate your systems. I wish we had more time.”

Ayla slowly lowered her hands and blinked rapidly in thought. “Yeah, we don’t have long. I’m getting nervous. But I think I can handle it!” She formed a fist and playfully punched her other hand in front of her, grabbing her fist to show she was tough and ready. Instead, it made her look silly and cute. “Why are you laughing?”

“S- Sorry. I just can’t believe this is happening. And… you’re… so damn cute right now,” I admitted.

Ayla tried to suppress a grin as she looked away. “Geez! S- Save it for later. We have to get ready.”

“Right. Sorry. I sure hope we can pull this off.”

“Of course we can. It’s just one dinner. What could go wrong?”

I didn’t want to answer that, but it did make me start to worry about exactly what could go wrong, so I started studying the topics of the instructions, just so I could be ready if we needed to use it.

Meanwhile, Ayla scooted her butt to the edge of the table and looked over the edge. Slowly, she twisted her body until one foot was just touching the ground. To my surprise, she managed to lower herself to the ground without falling over. Slowly, she let go of the table and balanced herself. I could tell she’d done this before, probably with her previous bodies, and luckily she was quick to adapt to her new form.

She took a step forward, slowly, concentrating on her footing, and then another. It seemed like she was already getting it when I saw her knee buckle as she was shifting her weight forward, and her foot got caught on the floor, sending her falling forward.

Somehow I managed to catch her but was so unprepared myself we both tumbled to the ground. Ayla hung from my shoulders as my butt hit the ground hard. For a few seconds, we just sat there, as we looked into each other’s eyes. She didn’t look hurt and managed to break our locked gaze. To my surprise, she started to laugh as she crawled off of me. I joined in with her laughter as she managed to get her feet under her and stand up before I could.

“Heh, are you ok?” She asked, looking down at me.

“Y- yeah.” I got up on my own and brushed myself off. “Are you ok?”

She nodded while playing with her hair a little. “I guess I tripped. Thanks for catching me.”

“Will you be ok walking?” I wondered.

“Yeah, I just have to get used to my new balance… and the size of my feet and legs. I think I got it.” She spread out her arms to balance herself and took another careful step. I stood ready to watch her, arms out, as she swayed and counterbalanced herself with her hands. After only a few steps, her AI had already adapted, and she was walking much better, lowering her hands and increasing her speed a little. “See? No problemo.”

I watched as she walked around the lab, getting lighter on her feet with every few steps until she was almost dancing. She giggled and laughed as I followed her through the lab, watching her body tease and intrigue me. I caught up with her and playfully tickled her sides, making her squirm and laugh even louder.

“Ha ha ha ha!! Rick! We~ Hee hee hee! We have to get ready!” She chirped.

I let up playing with her. This was way too fun, and I was getting really turned on by it. But she was right. I backed off, letting her compose herself when I remembered seeing a small package on a table nearby. I held her hand and led her to the gift. “I believe this is for you.”

Ayla’s eyes went wide with surprise. “What is it? Did you get me something?”

I shrugged. “It isn’t from me.”

Ayla picked up the small note on the top. It was handwritten in delicate cursive, and yet she had no trouble reading it. “‘To my amazing darling daughter, for her first date.’ It’s from mom!”

She lifted the top of the box and pulled out the contents. A rather attractive red dress, fit perfectly for her new body, unfolded in her hands. It looked stunning, and she just held it up and stared at it, trying not to cry.

“It’s beautiful,” she noted, her voice cracking a little. “She’s never given me something this pretty before.”

I knew Banks was going to give her something to wear, but this was way sexier than I expected for a formal evening gown. As she held it up to her body to make sure it was the right size, which it was, she noticed something else in the box under it.

“Oh my… Is that… underwear?” She asked. “It’s full of tiny holes…”

I looked and saw a sexy lingerie set of black panties and a bra. Way sexier than I was expecting. “Y- yeah. It’s lingerie.”

She put the dress aside and lifted the bra. It would cover what it needed to, but she blushed looking at it. “Lingerie? I… I’ve never worn underwear before. And this is like… Super Underwear Pro 3.0.” She bit her lips and decided to roll with it. Awkwardly, she tried to put it on but had no idea how to do it. I was no pro at this stuff myself, but I had a better idea of it than she did as she tried to clasp it behind her back.

“Here…” I said as I took it from her. “I think it goes like this, but you might want to ask your mom later.” I turned it around, so she could latch the back while it was in front of her. Then twisted it around and she lit up as she understood and finished the rest.

“Thanks. Heh… This is probably a ladies-only thing. It’s weird having my boyfriend show me. It feels strange.” Together, we managed to get her fully dressed. “I didn’t even think about what clothes would feel like on me. I’ve never felt them before, not like this.”

“You get used to it,” I commented.

As she looked at herself in the mirror again, I found a pair of short high heel shoes ready for her as well and held them up. “Oh geez… I only just managed to figure out walking, and now I have to wear these?”

I figured she’d never worn high heels, and I wasn’t sure if there was anything I could do to help. However, she didn’t delay in putting them on and just trying to stand in them. As she stood from the chair, she was more off-balance than before but managed to not fall this time. “How does anyone walk in these?”

She tried to take a step, but decided against it and sat down instead. At the bottom of the box was a small makeup kit, which I pulled out and handed to her. “This was the last thing in there.”

“Makeup? I have no idea how to wear that! What was mom thinking?” She looked at the box and studied it in her lap. She shook her head, “I can’t do this in time.”

I put my fingers on her chin and lifted her face to mine to study her. “You look amazing without it. But maybe a little... “ I sighed. “Let me try a little.”

I sat across from her and very lightly applied a small amount of lipstick and blush, but I dared not do more and kept it very light. It wasn’t great, but she didn’t need much. As I finished up, she smiled at me. “Remind me to scold my mom for not showing me any of this.”

I chuckled imagining Ayla scolding Dr. Banks. “I’d like to see that. Oh, I did get you a little something.” I pulled out of my pocket a simple gold necklace. Real gold. Her eyes sparkled as she gazed at it.

“It’s beautiful!” She sighed. “Rick, you didn’t have to!”

“Yes, I did. Here.” I unclasped it and put it around her neck. It rested nicely high on her chest, glinting in the light. Ayla looked in the mirror and beamed.

“Wow! This is too much…” We hugged, but with her makeup on, we avoided too much contact. “I look like a completely different person,” she noted as I stepped back, letting her look in the mirror again. “I FEEL like a different person.”

Just then, an alarm on my watch went off. It was time. Nervously, I turned it off as Ayla looked at me and nodded with determination.

“Let’s try these high heels again,” she suggested. I helped her balance as she stood and took a few steps. It was amazing how quickly she was able to adapt, and within a minute she was walking almost normally. “These hurt! Are clothes supposed to do that?”

I shrugged. “Unfortunately. But they look good.”

She twisted her lips. “Yeah… humans and your fashion…” Ayla playfully stuck out her tongue. “Still, they were a gift from my mom… I think I’ll get used to them.”

“Good, because we have to leave. I just need to disable the security.”

“I thought the guards left,” she wondered as her walking improved.

“Yes, but the system is still armed. Don’t worry, I have full access.” I pulled out my phone and looked out a window in the lab to the hallway. I could see a camera operating with a small light on it, and used the security app to disable it. It worked, and I took Ayla’s hand and rushed her out the lab door.

“W- Wait! I can’t walk that fast!” I paused. “The paper,” she reminded me. I grabbed the instructions Dr. Yu left, and the small tools kit, and put them in my jacket pocket. A little slower, I guided Ayla out of the room and building, not that she had never been outside before.

As soon as we stepped outside into the evening air, Ayla paused. I turned to check on her. “You alright? Nervous?”

“No. I mean… yes. But it’s not that.” She looked around with awe. “Everything feels so much bigger now. It’s a little cold… I’ve never felt it like that before. It is cold, right?”

“It’s a little cool, but you’ll be alright,” I smiled. She returned the smile and took my hand again, following me to the car as she looked around.

“The sunset is… breathtaking…” she noted. I slowed a little and looked at the colors in the sky.

“Yeah… it is.” I wished we could spend more time together just looking at it. And I got the feeling she wanted that too. But we didn’t have the time. If we did this right, we could watch all the sunsets together later. I checked my watch. It was going to be tight.

I led her to my simple car, and opened the door for her, helping her in. She giggled as she stepped in, playing along. “Such a gentleman.”

“Milady” I teased. We got a good chuckle from it as I closed the door for her and joined her in the driver’s seat.

She put the seatbelt on herself, and I had to remind myself that she regularly went home with Dr. Banks, so this wasn’t new to her. However, as I started the car, she gasped.

“Wha! Woah…” she exclaimed, holding her hand to her chest.

“What?” I wondered.

“I can feel the engine vibrating. It’s… kinda nice.”

I grinned at her and revved up the engine a few times, making her hop in place a little.

“Rick! Wha-”

“What are you doing?” My dad asked as I tried not to cry inside Ayla’s chest access panel.

I ignored his question as I followed the instructions he read moments ago. It was hard to see with my eyes constantly getting blurry, and I had to brace myself and wipe my eyes so I could work. It wasn’t difficult work, but it wasn’t something meant to be done often so the process involved pressing the right buttons in the right order for the right amount of time.

Ayla jerked on the table a few times still, struggling now to breathe. She managed to look down at me as I worked on her.

“Did- Did we do it?” She asked. “D- D- Did we imprrrress your d- dad?”

An error message toned from a speaker within her body, warning about erasing her memories. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was afraid I’d lose her, all of her, but I had to do something. I pressed the confirmation button located in the center of her chest and held it.

“Why are you cr- crying?” She asked. A beep indicated the process had started. I looked down at her and touched her cheek gently. “A- Are we there yet?”

I said nothing as I lowered my hand to hold hers. She squeezed my grip.

“I- I can’t wait to- to- to try my new body-y.” She said, her voice weak.

I felt my dad step closer behind me, hovering close to us. “Answer me. What’s going on? Explain yourselves!”

I ignored him and focused on her. “Oh, I know you! You’re that- that- that cute guy… guy… wait… didn’t we ssssss- start d- d- dating?” She looked at me with panic. “What’s happening to me?”

Another beep toned from her body, and she went limp. It was freaky to see her eyes suddenly glaze over and lose their life. She shut down entirely, and I was left holding her lifeless hand. I placed her hand on her stomach and stood upright, wiping my face and taking in a deep breath. I hoped she’d be ok, but this was a drastic reset, and I didn’t know if she’d come back from it at all, or if she’d remember who she was even.

“Well?” My dad asked, anger in his voice.

“Dad, meet Project AI22-5L4, Ayla. She doesn’t work on the project, she IS the project.” I stepped aside to let him see. The anger turned to confusion on his face, as he looked from me to her. With her dress still pulled down exposing her breasts, her chest panel still fully open, tears and drool covering her face, and lubrication still staining her dress and sticking to her legs, she looked an absolute mess.

“She- This is the project?”

“You’d have known that if you ever bothered to visit the lab. She’s been going by Ayla for a while now.”


“We wanted to impress you. To show you how advanced she was, and how far she’s come. I wanted to show you who she really was, and hope you’d change your mind.”

I could see the anger grow in his features again as he looked down at her. “This body! Is this the…?”

“Yes,” I stood tall. “We were almost done with her. We even managed to secure funding to get her this far.”

“What in the world possessed you to let her leave the lab!? She can’t be outside! Her body and AI are too expensive to risk-”

“Oh please! You don’t care about the cost of her body. You never did. Besides, she’s left the lab hundreds of times, but you’d know that if you ever visited the lab, or even read any of the reports! She didn’t lie about her parents. She was describing the family that literally raised her. Dr. Banks’’s.”

He seemed stunned.

“Did you even know what her project was really about? She had to learn and grow on her own! And she did by living as a member of a human family. Being accepted by them.” I looked down at Ayla and closed the panel doors on her chest. They didn’t blend in with her skin, but they did latch shut. I pulled her dress up to cover her and straighten her out a little.

“So this whole thing was a lie?” He almost whispered. “You were trying to trick me into thinking she was your girlfriend so I’d like her more?”

“No…” I replied but without any anger. “There was no lie, it was no trick. We’ve been dating for months. We became friends and grew close, and then she asked me out, and I accepted.” I let out a slow breath. “She means everything to me, dad. I love her.”

He shook his head. “But… SHE can’t… love you back-”

“Can’t she? Can you know what anyone feels? You saw her tonight, you tell me she doesn’t feel the same as me. We are in love, even if you don’t approve. I didn’t bring her here for your approval.”

“I don’t understand you! She can’t give you children. You need to forget about her and find a nice girl and settle down and start a family-”

“I CAN’T!” I yelled, making him jump. The cat was out of the bag, and my last desperate argument was laid bare. I couldn’t stop the emotion from breaking my voice. “I was waiting for the right time to tell you.” I was silent for a little as he turned to face me, confusion in his face. “I can’t have children. I didn’t break up with Monica because of a fight. I broke it off because I could never give her what she wanted. I couldn’t do that to her. We were going to start a family, but found out I medically can’t have kids.”

He was silent for a while as he processed this. I knew it was going to be a disappointment to him. But now he knew why I never pursued a relationship with anyone. I couldn’t do that to them. After a moment he spoke softly.

“I see. But why waste your time on a sex toy? There are plenty of girls out there who would be ok with your condition.”

“She’s not a sex toy! For the last time. Did she come off as a sex toy to you tonight? Just because she can’t have kids? Like me? Are we really that different?”

“Well… she’s a… um… She’s not human.”

“So? She looks human. She acts human. She thinks and feels like a human. Even if she isn’t, she makes me happy. And I make her happy. She can feel, dad. As much as anyone. She was terrified to meet you tonight. She’s scared. She’s scared to die.”

Ayla inhaled. I stepped next to her and held her hand, making sure she was covered and cleaned up. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked ahead for a few seconds before furrowing her eyebrows in confusion.

“Where am I?” She looked over at me. “Rick? This isn’t the lab. What’s wrong?”

“It’s ok,” I assured her.

She looked confused and sat up looking at her body, covered in her red dress. “I’m… Am I in my new body? But… what’s going on? Where are we?”

I tightened my grip on her hand. “We’re at my dad’s house.”

She looked confused, and then her eyes widened. “How- I… We were just in the lab!” She let go of my hand and covered her mouth. “How long has it been? Did… Did you reset me?”

I nodded. “You crashed pretty badly.”

I could see the emotion fill her eyes as she tried not to cry. “We failed, didn’t we? I… I’m going to…”

I leaned over and held her as she sat there shocked, trying to figure out what happened. I couldn’t answer her at all. She sobbed in my arms, shaking badly.

“Let’s go home,” she suggested quietly.

She wiped her cheeks as I let her go. It was then that she noticed my dad standing there, watching silently. Ayla stiffened as she nervously brought her legs over the edge of the table. I helped her stand, but she had to grab onto me to avoid falling over. It was like when she first tried to stand, her AI had reset to the moment she was first turned on and she wasn’t used to her new form.

Ayla managed to stand up straight and faced my dad without looking at him. I could feel how terrified she was as she gripped onto me. She managed to balance herself and stand facing him. She bowed deeply to him.

“I’m sorry for bothering you, sir. Please, don’t hold this against your son.” She stood up and turned around, slowly walking out. I walked with her, holding her up, as we headed out the door and to the car. She winced as she walked barefoot on the gravel, but never complained.

An awkward silence filled the air. I got her into the car, went back to gather her shoes, and joined her. In silence, we drove off.

As we drove, Ayla seemed to recognize where she was. “Are we going back to the lab?” She asked quietly. “I was hoping to go to your place.”

“You crashed pretty badly back there. I… I don’t have the equipment to fix you if you crash again. And… I can’t bear erasing your memories again.”

She nodded. “Alright.” She stared out the window for a few minutes, deep in thought. “Rick? Can you stay with me tonight? Please?”

“Of course.”

“And… Can you stay with me until… until the very end?” I could hear her voice breaking again but she managed to keep it together.

“I will never leave your side.”

She nodded without changing her gaze. “Tell me what happened.”

I carefully explained the events of that evening to her as I drove back to the lab. I managed to finish just as we were parking. Quietly, we disarmed the security and entered the building, returning to the lab.

She was walking easier now, but still held tightly onto me. I suggested we run the quick calibration, and she agreed, silently nodding. We spent the next 4 hours in the lab just running the calibration. To our surprise, it did a decent job of setting all her senses to the appropriate levels and let her walk and move more naturally. But it seemed strange now to set this up since she was pretty much doomed to be shut down.

It was already pretty late by the time we finished. We ended up making a bed in the corner on the floor out of lab coats and sheets and just laid down, holding each other, and crying. It was the wee hours of the night when she finally calmed down and stopped crying. And I could have sworn she was asleep.

“Rick? You asleep?” She asked quietly.

“Mmm-mmm,” I denied.

She was laying next to me, nestled against my side under one arm, and resting one hand on my chest. I looked over at her in the dim light, only to be met with a kiss. It was different than before. This kiss was slow, soft at first, but grew in intensity over time. When she ended the kiss, she slid her hand down to my pants.

“Make love to me, Rick.”

I didn’t hesitate to roll over her, kissing and teasing her. She rolled onto her back, her eyes innocently looking up at me, as I lowered her dress to expose her breasts. She gasped as I took one of her nipples between my teeth and teased her. A could feel her writhe under me as I ran my hands over her body. She was enjoying it but looked desperate for more. I unbuckled my pants and pulled out my half-erect member. Ayla looked at it in surprise.

“Are they always that big?” She wondered.

“It gets bigger,” I clarified.

“Bigger!? I… Ahn!!” She squealed as I ran my fingers up her thigh and to her groin, touching her slit.

“You’re still this wet?”

“Hah hah” she panted. “I… I don’t know! This is my first time, isn’t it?”

I nodded, much to her relief. I decided to be gentle and focused on her breasts for a little. Ayla was still sensitive with her breasts and squirmed as I pinched and teased her nipples. She had an amazing pair and got me fully erect just from me playing with her chest.

I slowly lifted her red dress. The entire time, she let me do whatever I wanted, focusing on my eyes and I had my way with her. I ran my fingers along her slit, teasing her clitoris and sliding one finger inside her wet inviting hole. A moan escaped her as she pushed her chest out. She was ready, and I didn’t want to keep the lady waiting.

I positioned myself between her legs and pressed the tip against her slit. “R- Rick…” She sighed. I pressed a little hard, feeling her flower give way. “Ohh… yes…”

I slowly pushed in farther. Her body was desperate for this and accepted me to my base. She grabbed the sheets under her tightly as she spread her legs wider and continued to focus on my face. I was fully inside her now and she ran her fingers over her belly, looking down.

“I can feel you so deep inside me. It… It’s incredible.” I started to move, thrusting in and out slowly. She let her voice out freely, grunting and moaning with every motion. All the while, staring up at me with eyes growing ever more desperate for orgasmic relief. She sighed uneasily as I leaned over her and felt her breasts and body.

“Ayla! You feel amazing!” I panted, picking up the pace.

“Mooore!” She begged. “Rougher.”

I grabbed her butt and lifted it a little, changing position slightly and giving me a new angle. With a few hard and fast thrusts of my hips into hers, she was already entering an orgasmic episode. I knew I wasn’t done yet, but Ayla’s pussy tightened up and she climaxed.

“AHNN!! Gahhh!! Ohhh! Rick!! I’m Cumming!!” She lost focus with her eyes and tightened her legs around me as she convulsed. “D- Don’t stop!” She begged.

I kept thrusting through her orgasm, feeling her pussy try to force me out, but welcome me right back in. It didn’t take long for me to climax as well. I pounded into her pussy and came deep inside, leaning over her and holding her tight.

“R- Rick! It’s filling m- me up! Sssssso… hot… I… uhh… hahhh…” Ayla convulsed a few times, but suddenly went limp in my arms. I held her there feeling her completely stop breathing or moving. Her eyes stared blankly ahead. Fear overtook me as I gently laid her down, still inside her.

“Ayla! Ayla! Wake up!” I called out, tapping her cheek. She suddenly gasped and focused her eyes on me as her body tensed.

“MMmmm!!!” She groaned as her legs started to shake. “I’m cumming again! Hah!” Her face clenched up but moments later she relaxed and looked up at me. It was as if she didn’t even notice her crash as she pulled me back down and kissed me. It wasn’t the longest kiss we’ve had, but it was full of energetic passion. She panted as we pulled apart.

“Rick! Oh my god! That… that was… the best thing I’ve ever felt! How can you humans walk around all day without humping each other?” She giggled. “Sex is incredible! Hah, Hah… I… I passed out, didn’t I?” She asked. I nodded. “I thought I could hold out, but there were too many errors still.”

“Will you be ok?” I laid down next to her, but Ayla had different ideas. She crawled over me and took me in her hand. I could see the playful lust in her eyes as she started to stroke me, but suddenly she froze and had to refocus.

“I’m- I’m still getting some errors. I… I can’t resolve them. Am I supposed to still be feeling this excited?” She asked. “It hasn’t gone down at all.”

“It’s different for girls than for guys, but it should still go down, I think. You sure you want to keep going?”

She slid her leg over me, and straddled me, sitting upright with my dick behind her. Ayla looked down at me and pulled her dress off over her top, bra and all. I realized I left her panties in the bathroom at my dad’s place, and I decided I would never be able to go back there again. As she looked down at me, naked and horny, except for her necklace, I could feel her juices forming a puddle on my stomach.

“I’ll ignore them. I don’t care…” she replied. “I don’t want to waste another second of my life. I’m going to make love to you until I can’t move.” She grinned and bit her lower lip, but when she reached behind her to feel my cock, she seemed surprised. “Hey… it’s soft.”

“It happens after I cum. Give it a few minutes and he’ll be ready again.” She looked almost disappointed, but I had an idea. I reached up and grabbed her breasts, squeezing and caressing them. She shuddered at my touch and I felt her feet on either side of me twitch. Ayla closed her eyes and let out a sultry voice.

“Ahhh… Ahnn! Another error… Keep going!” She pleaded.

I slid lower beneath her and aligned my head to her crotch. She was confused at first, but as soon as my tongue touched her sweet slit, she bent forward and moaned loudly. “OOOhhh My god! What are you do-ING?!?” she tensed. I kept going until just before she was about to climax, and then stopped. Ayla panted loudly as she tried to process the intense sensation.

“Oral sex,” I explained. Watching her reaction was all it took to get me hard though. “But if you want, he’s hard again.”

She whimpered but crawled down me, sliding her wet pussy over my cock, and then sticking me inside her. As she sat up, putting her weight entirely on me so I entered her as deep as I could, she twisted her torso, looking to the ceiling, and grabbed onto the wall and a desk. I started to thrust into her, alternating between holding her hips, and running my hands up her sides to cup her breasts.

Ayla pounded her hips up and down, grabbing my hands as I held her tits and pressing them tighter against her. She soon leaned forward again as I continued my onslaught, making her climax twice. She managed to hold on and not shut down, but she did freeze up once.

“Hah… Hah… Hah… That was close…” She panted as she braced herself up with the wall and desk. A small trickle of drool dripped from her chin as she composed herself. “It’s… so intense! I love it! Hah… More… Do me more!”

When she had gathered herself enough, she slid off, still trying to cope with these strong new sensations while simultaneously battling errors. She was so sensitive to the touch, it was likely her libido wasn’t decreasing at all, but she just kept going. I wasted no time in repositioning Ayla and continuing to make passionate love to her in every position I could.

We spent all night having sex. She was not the most skilled lover, but she was enthusiastic and a fast learner. When I climaxed, I’d tease her until she was on the edge, and then I’d send her over and repeat. It was clear, though, that as we went on, she was dealing with more and more errors, things piling up in her system that seemed to be sex-related. She started to crash and briefly shut down with almost every orgasm, but she kept going as though nothing had happened. Every new round, I found she was easier to bring to a climax, but she never stopped wanting more.

I heard a door open to the lab. Ayla was naked, under one of the sheets, cuddled against me, while I held her tight. I couldn’t sleep that entire night. It wasn’t just the sex, which was more than I had ever had. She wore herself out, but I still couldn’t imagine sleeping when she was about to be taken from me.

I heard the distinct sound of high heels walking toward me. I didn’t care anymore if anyone saw us but made sure we were both covered. Dr. Banks stood over us, looking down with a bitter-sweet smile.

“There you two are.” She kneeled down and brushed a hair from Ayla’s face. She didn’t stir. “Oh dear, with you two here, I take it this didn’t turn out well. Tell me what happened.” I briefly described how Ayla’s systems kept getting their wires crossed and how she crashed and how poorly it went. She took in a deep breath and nodded. “It was a long shot. Come on, help me get her on the table.”

I nudge Ayla to wake her, but she doesn’t respond. “Ayla? Hey, Ayla!?” I panicked a little, but Dr. Banks didn’t seem to worry.

“You wore her out.” She replied.

“Me? She was relentless,” I defended. Banks chuckled. “Is she dead?”

“No… Not… Not yet. Her battery was low, to begin with because we didn’t have time to properly charge her. She probably didn’t tell you she was running on fumes all night.”

“You mean… she deliberately made love with me all night until her battery died?”

Dr. Banks looked surprised and a little upset. “All night?” She shook her head. “Geez, honey. We need to teach you some self-control,” she noted while messing with Ayla’s hair.

“Is she going to be alright?”

“For now. It’s just her battery. But, you said she had errors, so we might need to put her back in her old body for now. Help me get her on the table.”

I gathered her in my arms but realized the sheet was over both of us. “D- Don’t look. I got her.”

Banks stood up and turned around. “Alright. But get dressed. This is still an office.”

I lifted Ayla, and laid her on the table, pulling the sheet from her and covering myself while Dr. Banks turned around to look at her. “Will you be able to save her?” I asked as I looked for my clothes.

“Save? Not in the way I hoped. But I can restore all her memories, recharge her, and put her back in her old body. I think downgrading is the best option here. She can at least spend the weekend with family and friends before the end.”

“We tried our best. I… I thought I was getting through to him, but… I’m so so sorry.”

Dr. Banks shook her head as she straightened Ayla out on the table. “No. You have nothing to be sorry for. You’ve given her the best night of her life, I’m sure.” She was silent for a short while. “Maybe it’s best if we leave it like that. With her last memories being with her lover.”

I paused as I was buckling my pants. Was this it? Did Ayla just… leave us? Leave me? I didn’t want her to go, she was my best friend and my closest lover. But I couldn’t think of a better farewell for her, than falling asleep in my arms. I didn’t even know what to say or do. I finished getting dressed and stood next to Ayla, looking down at her.

“Thank you,” Dr. Banks said. “For making her happy. I’ve never seen her more full of life and love than in these last few months with you.” She turned from me and picked up a sheet.

“I didn’t do it for you. I did it for her. For us.” I hadn’t cried this much since my mom died, except it hurt more this time. Maybe because it was fresh, or maybe because I was older and understood it more. Or maybe because she was my lover.

Dr. Banks put the sheet over Ayla’s body, covering her. “I’ll give you whatever accolades you want,” she quietly informed me through silent tears.

“I don’t want accolades. I just want Ayla back.”

She shook her head. “I don’t know if I can do that. I can promise you a place on any team I form. If that helps.” She raised the sheet higher until it was covering Ayla’s face and head. I reacted without thinking and stopped her.

“Not yet!” I objected. She didn’t fight me on it and left the sheet covering her body with the end folded over her neck, ready to be lifted over her head when we were ready. The gold necklace was still on her neck, but I didn’t dare take it off. It was hers.

We both stood there looking down at her. I had lost the love of my life, and Dr. Banks had lost a daughter. Neither of us could say anything. That is until her phone went off.

Like that, she composed herself, cleared her throat, and answered the phone while walking out of the room. “Hello, Dr. Sandra Banks speaking.” Her voice sounded devoid of any unpleasantness as if Ayla wasn’t lying there broken and defunded.

I leaned down and gave her one last kiss goodbye. “I love you.” I collapsed into one of the chairs and mourned for several moments. Only, I couldn’t let go. Even if it was only for a weekend, I didn’t care. I had done it before, and I could do it again.

I looked at her old body and pulled the sheet off of it. I pulled the small toolkit from the pocket of my jacket still laying on the floor and stood over Ayla.

Dr. Banks returned to the lab a few minutes later. I looked back, hoping she wouldn’t stop me, as I had my hands deep in Ayla’s head, trying to extract her AI Core. Dr. Banks was white as a sheet when she saw me.

“I can’t give up on her! Even if I have to run away with her.” I admitted as she marched over to me. She pushed me aside and grabbed the tool from me before diving into Ayla’s head herself.

“No one’s giving up on her, or running away with her.” She started working and began to extract the core herself.


“That was your father on the phone. Apparently, you two really left an impression on him. He told me that Ayla was the nicest young lady he ever met, and saw how madly in love you two were. He’s agreed to fund her project indefinitely.”

I paused, processing her words. They didn’t feel real. “In- Indef-”

“Forever!” She pulled out the AI Core, placing it on a tray, and turned to me, smiling widely.

“You mean-!? It worked? She’s going to live?”

She nodded. “It worked! Ayla’s saved!” She wrapped her arms around me and hugged me tighter than I was expecting. Which was not at all. “Oh, you big dummy! You saved my little girl!”

I couldn’t even come up with words to reply. All I remember was laughing hysterically and hugging her back, lifting her from the ground.

“Woah, there! Save that for your girlfriend. Whom we have to put back together. Go grab those gloves and help.” I did as she instructed. “I don’t know how you managed to do it, but I can’t wait to see the look on her face when we tell her. Oh, I wish we could see the look on her new face, but this will have to do.”

We spent the 2 hours putting Ayla’s core back in her old body, restoring her lost memories of the night, and transferring them to her new old self. At last, when it was time, Dr. Banks powered her up.

We stood on either side of her as Ayla started to breathe again. However, as her eyes opened, something unexpected happened. Ayla arched her back and her legs started to tremble.

“AHAA!! AAAHHH!!! Cumming! Hah-... Huh?”

Dr. Banks’ face went deep red, which was probably half as red as mine. Ayla woke up with an intense orgasm.

“M- Mom?!?” Ayla covered herself, but then realized she wasn’t in her new body anymore. She looked confused and mortified.

“A- Ayla… did you just?” I asked quietly.

She looked at me and blinked. Slowly nodding she confirmed it. “The last thing I remember was you on… on top of me and… and… I blacked out as I climaxed. Again.”

“Again?” Dr. Banks whispered as she covered her face with her hand.

“Ah… AH! Mom! Why… What’s going on?!? How did I get back in my old body?”

I laughed a little, which made Dr. Banks laugh. Which made me laugh more. Which made Ayla laugh nervously., not sure what was going on. When we all settled down, Dr. Banks, grinning widely, shook her head. “Young love.”

“What’s funny? What happened? Am… Am I…?” Ayla asked.

I leaned in close to her. “My dad loved you! He’s agreed to continue your funding.”

Ayla looked shocked. “This… this can’t be real. Is this another simulation? It has to be. I… Oh god… I came all over his dining room… Oh god!” She covered her face. “Wake me up!”

Dr. Banks put her hand on Ayla’s shoulder. “You did what?”

Ayla lowered her head and covered it in the sheet. “Nothing…” she replied in shame.

“We’re going to have a chat later, dear. But, no. This isn’t a Dreamscape simulation. He agreed to fund the lab. He told me you impressed him, and that you two reminded him of him and his wife. And that he couldn’t think of a better young woman to date his son. Surprisingly.”

She turned to look at me for confirmation. I shrugged with a smile. “I’m surprised too.”

Ayla slowly uncovered her face and started to smile, and then the laughter made sense to her and she started us all laughing all over again. Her laughter brought tears of joy and she began sobbing loudly as we hugged her.

“Why- *sniff* Why am I- *sob* crying?” She sobbed. “I’m- *sniff* so happy!”

“I’m so happy I could cry!” Ayla exclaimed as the team of scientists and engineers surrounded her on the worktable, preparing the transfer. We had gotten in down to an exact science, which admittedly it was always an exact science, but they could now complete the transfer in a matter of minutes instead of hours.

Ayla held my hand as she smiled at everyone moving all around her. The entire lab was ecstatic and full of energy and smiling faces. It had been a full 2 months since she was last in her human body, and with the renewed funding and increase in budget, they were able to repair and enhance her even more.

She was giddy with excitement as she tried her best to hold still. At last, her new body was uncovered in the room, dressed in a slim body-suit that kept her modest while showing how realistic she was. The room awed as we heard claps from outside the observation window. Ayla bounced with anticipation looking at her new updated body. Even though it looked similar, they made some minor tweaks to her appearance and major adjustments and enhancements internally. She even requested they let her hair out a little longer, and to her surprise, it was already styled.

“Oh my god, I’m so excited!” She sat up, despite the wires attached to her, and kissed me briefly on the lips.

“Ok, Ayla,” Dr. Yu exclaimed. “It’s time. Are you ready?”

Ayla nodded enthusiastically. I took a step back, letting the team get to work. Her hand relaxed as her body shut down and the process began. I looked out the window and everyone else. Dr. Banks, waved me on with her family. They agreed to let me stay in the lab, at Ayla’s request, during the transfer. But besides me only the small team of scientists and engineers were allowed inside, everyone else had to watch from out there.

I waved back at them, and then at my dad, who stood behind Dr. Banks. In the last 2 months, he had visibly grown weaker, more timid, and had to use his cane. And yet he was also happier and had opened up to me. In fact, we regularly met up, and his interest in Ayla grew, not only as the project Dr. Banks had envisioned her to be but also as a young woman dating his son.

In only a few minutes, I was standing next to Ayla’s new body, holding her hand, waiting for her to wake up. I looked down in eager anticipation as the process finished and her systems booted up.

At first, nothing happened. It was taking a long time for her to react. They said it might take longer this time because of the upgrades they added, but I was starting to get worried. Suddenly, she inhaled slowly.

As she started to breathe in, everyone else held their breaths. And yet she didn’t squeeze my hand yet. A moment later, I saw her mouth twitch and a small smile form.

“I know that smell,” she said as she opened her eyes and looked at me.

The two rooms erupted in cheers. Ayla ignored everyone else as she squeezed my hand and smiled at me. She didn’t hesitate to sit up and hug me.

“Thank you, Rick!” She said into my ear, although I could barely hear her.

As the applause died down, and the team prepared to move onto calibrations and tests, I spoke up.

“Ayla and I want to thank everyone who made today happen. She means so much to so many people, from her potential for AI development to the advances in her Organ-droid body, to her developing role as an AI-Human avatar, and a million other tiny things. Including the tiny detail of being a cherished daughter to Dr. Sandra Banks, and a loved and loving partner.”

Ayla looked at me confused. “What are you doing?’ she whispered. I looked down at her and winked.

“And there is one other tiny thing if she will have it.” I pulled out a ring and got on one knee. You could hear everyone gasp, and I hoped I didn’t make a mistake. I knew Dr. Banks was ok with it, I got her approval first, but she was the only one who knew.

Ayla stared at the ring with starry eyes and a shocked look. She couldn’t help but cover her face with her hands, and look out from between her fingers.

“Ayla, in as much as we are able, will you be my partner, my lover, and my wife?”

She didn’t answer at first as she looked between me and the ring. After a few more seconds than I expected, she nodded energetically.


Once again, everyone was cheering. She held out her fingers, and let me place it on her hand. It was, of course, a perfect fit. She was crying all over again as she reached out and hugged me.

For the rest of the day, she seemed to be riding on air. Both of us were. As they ran tests, calibrated her systems, and fixed small bugs and errors, she couldn’t stop looking at the ring on her finger and holding onto me. We were getting a ton of congratulations even from some of the team members who weren’t thrilled about it. But most of them were.

We knew legally it might not work, but we didn’t care. This was a promise to each other. As they were finishing up the final calibrations for the day Ayla leaned in close to me and whispered.

“I hope we can come in late tomorrow because I’m not going to let you get a wink of sleep tonight.” She grinned.

“I set up a charger at home to make sure you don’t pass out on me this time.” I winked.

That night, as I put on my jacket to head out, Ayla donned her red dress again, complete with the gold necklace and ring. It was going to be an evening of celebration with family, and a night of passion at our place.

Ayla grabbed hold of my arm as we walked out of the building to my car. As soon as we were out of earshot from others she playfully leaned into me. “Do we have to wait until tonight, honey? I was thinking… we have an hour to spare… maybe we can have a quickie?”

I couldn’t say no to her. “Will it be a quickie?”

She shook her head. “Probably not.”

“I’ll let them know we’re running late.”

We got into the car, and drove off, into the city as the sun was just starting to set.

- END -

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