Joy was gone and I was a little shell shocked. What just happened? Did we...?
Yes. We did.
And I was on cloud nine. I had suspected that Joy was attracted to me, as I was to her, but it was hard to tell. Well, I guess there was no question now.
Where do we go from here?
Maia walked into the room. Oh, shit. How do I explain this?
"Hi yourself. Did you have a good... recharge?"
"Yes, it was satisfactory. I am good to go, as you say, for a few days again. Ooh, you had Chinese tonight? I know that's one of your favorites."
"Yes, Joy brought it over."
"Joy? Oh, that's nice. I know you were concerned she had not been over lately."
"Yeah, she stopped in. Apparently her and Ian are on the outs. Listen, Maia, we need to talk about this. Something happened with Joy, and I'm... not sure how to..."
"I hope everything is okay," she replied, sitting on the couch next to me.
"Well, everything is okay, but... something happened with Joy and I. You know how we've talked in the past about, you know, intimacy and whatnot? And you've noticed that I have... something... going on with Joy, feelings for her on a certain level?"
"Well, apparently she has some feelings or... something... herself. We were together, tonight. If you catch my meaning."
"I see. Yes, I believe I do catch your meaning. I am happy for you. I know that Joy is important to you."
"How do you feel about that?"
"Well, I don't feel anything, per se. But I'm happy your emotional needs are being met."
Did I sense a certain... standoffishness to her demeanor?
"It's okay to have feelings. Maia, I don't accept that you're just a machine with no ability to feel. I'm not sure where to go with this, but... I want to know how you feel, if you can share that."
"Do you have feelings for me?"
That threw me. Do I?
"Yes, Maia. I think I do. To start off with you were a companion... an accessory, as bad as that sounds, but a machine. I had no idea how and if I could have feelings for you. Just as I'm sure the first time you powered up I was a complete stranger to you. But now, after all these months, we have... something. But I don't know what it is. Do you?"
"I am a companion, but I have no feelings. I am, as you've said before, a toaster. A toaster that has the ability to fuck, conveniently."
I leaned back a little. Where was this going? Maia showed no signs of being angry, but there was a tightness. And if ever I doubted she had feelings, I didn't any more. This was a real woman who had just been hurt, and I was the source of that pain. I was ashamed and pissed at myself. Do our sexual needs always have to screw everything up? Or... was I mistaken? Maybe she's just asking an honest question. She's not supposed to be able to feel!
"Maia. We don't have to do that anymore. Maybe we never should have and this just doesn't work. We as humans often do things without asking ourselves if we should do them. Case in point: synths. But... I'm not saying you're a toaster. That was a bad choice of words. I do have feelings for you. And you know I've had feelings for Joy. For a while. I don't know the answers.
"It seems to me that humans may have deployed synths without thought for the consequences. By the same token, you seem to have regrets after the fact. After me. After Joy. Careening from crisis of conscience to the next. Being human seems... exhausting.
Her demeanor seemed to soften.
"If you have Joy... do you still need me?"