Raven's been at Weyland Industries about a year and a half longer than she expected to be. She approached them knowing there was no possible way they'd turn her down, no possible way they'd let the chance slip by, but this was always supposed to be a take-the-money-and-run sort of job.
It hasn't turned out that way, and she's not rightly sure why. She's one of the senior testing agents, which might have something to do with it, the fact that she doesn't have to fight right now. She's not supposed to know that she's been assigned a dedicated David Eight testing unit; she's not sure why, probably just because they don't want it to seem like they know how critical and irreplaceable her skillset is.
The trials are kind of- they're boring and interesting at the same time, which is odd. Thinking up new people to be, new tests to run, that's fun; she likes to see how far she can push the testing unit, how angry she can make him, how disgusted, how sad- she's probably more excited than she should be when she gets him to cry.
But the stuff that's more important is less interesting. They want to know things about how he can mix his emotional states, things that require her secondary mutation more than her first one, not that David has ever seen her the same way twice. David Eight-Nine-Six- there are many like it, but this one is hers- his reactions are supposedly very subtle, his control of his emotional responses very fine, very nearly human; she's sure it would be that way to anyone else, but to her, he might as well be announcing it with a bullhorn. Between his skills and her skills, the game gets old pretty fast.
Another day, another battery of tests, but they're trying something brand new today. This one wasn't Raven's idea, and it seems kind of pointless; but her boss's boss's boss is on a tear about counterfeiting, so they're doing it.
She stands outside the testing room, getting ready. Some forms are harder to adapt to, and she's never had to be an android before; it takes a minute to figure it out. It's hard to slot herself into David's emotions, despite the fact that she's got all of them memorized.
The researcher she's working with today, who is so thoroughly bland that Raven has never actually learned his name, taps his foot the entire time, annoyed with her- this is the kind of place they work at, where a shapeshifting mutant trying to turn into an android is interminably boring.
Raven keeps him waiting for another few moments, just because he's pissing her off. "Open the door, please," she says smoothly, in David's cool, soothing voice.
It's very gratifying when he jumps. Raven makes a mental note- this test is useless, but testing whether a human can distinguish between her and David, now that's got some merit.
The researcher leads her in, directing her to sit down in front of him, and she assumes his normal resting pose, a very slightly relaxed posture, face showing mid-level confidence.
"David Eight-Nine-Six," the researcher says, "meet David Eight-Two-Seven."
David looks at Raven for a moment. "Pardon me," he says calmly, "but this is not David Eight-Two-Seven."
Raven doesn't break character for an instant, looking at David, tilting her head and adopting his curiosity mode. To his credit, the researcher keeps it together. "How did you know that? All David Eight units are identical."
"This is not a David Eight unit," David says, and the researcher blows it, his eyes widening in delighted shock. "I am not aware of this person's name, but it is the same person you always send. The mimic."
Now Raven's the one who breaks character, frowning unhappily, because that's an intensely irritating thought: one, this has apparently been a big waste of time, just more evidence that David knows how to play along with humans, which they already knew; and two, she's only been found out like that once, and she really doesn't have to go through that again. She'll lose her job if she destroys one of the testing units.
"This is extraordinary," the researcher says, making furious notations on his tablet. "The sensors, they were never programmed for anything like this, we've never seen this kind of-" He's babbling on, but Raven just glares at David. He gives her back mild sadness, the kind that passes for disappointment. The researcher is so caught up in himself that he babbles his way right on out of the room, waving his free hand enthusiastically, and Raven rolls her eyes.
"I would appreciate feedback," David says to her, once he's gone; the testing units are programmed with the explanation request function, the ability to find errors that may not be visible to the researchers.
She shrugs out of the uncomfortable David suit, replacing it with her usual blonde haired form. "Shoot."
"Why is it that you dislike me?" he says, showing curiosity tinged with sadness.
Raven isn't sure how this is going to go, but she's pretty sure she doesn't want to be interrupted by that idiot outside. She walks over, punching in the private consultation code on the keypad by the door, and the door bolts thump shut. She returns, sitting down in front of him again. "Why should I like you?"
"I am programmed to provide enjoyable company and assistance," he says. "I am not designed to provoke animosity. If that is what has occurred, then an error report will need to be submitted."
Raven shakes her head. "I didn't say I disliked you."
David gets this certain kind of curiosity variation when he doesn't believe what a human says; he's incapable of making a value judgment, but it's not hard to see when he's trying to reconcile observed data with human statements- there's something to file an error report for. "I expected that you, in particular, would appreciate me."
She raises an eyebrow at him. "Why is that?"
"My programming is specifically designed to replicate human behavior," he says. "This makes me useful and pleasing to humans in a way that a less sophisticated android is not. Your job is also to replicate human behavior." He frowns. "This should provoke a feeling of identification and commiseration between us, which is undoubtedly a positive outcome."
Raven can see the stack of reports building, the farther they get into this conversation. David is still looking at her curiously; she really shouldn't get angry or frustrated with him- he can only do what he's programmed to- but she does anyway, sometimes. "Commit to memory," she says; it's the highest command she has access to, the one for correcting serious errors on the fly.
David straightens, his face going neutral. "Prepared to receive."
"Human subjects may permanently reject the David Eight because of its lack of resemblance to them. Confirm."
"Confirmed," David says, without hesitation. That's day one stuff, absolutely critical for the Eights to function at all.
She pauses, carefully considering her words. "Human subjects may reject the David Eight because of its resemblance to them. Add."
"Clarification," David says, and Raven knows she's making up the note of concern in his voice, but she hears it anyway.
"State clarification," Raven says warily; she knew they could question programming before accepting it, but she'd never actually seen an Eight do it.
"Human subjects may permanently reject the David Eight because of its lack of resemblance to them. Addition states human subjects may reject the David Eight because of its resemblance to them. Addition deletes use of 'permanently.'"
She looks at him, studying him. "Addition stands," she says. "Confirm and exit commit mode."
"Confirmed," he says. "Reception period ends." David shuts his eyes briefly, processing new information. "I apologize, he says. "I made assumptions which were inappropriate."
"This one was my fault," Raven tells him.
"I overstated the similarities between us," he insists. "My capacity to replicate human behavior is inherently limited. Yours is not."
"How do you know that, David?" Raven asks him.
He looks into her eyes. "May I touch you?" he asks. It's the first time he's ever asked to; he's not authorized to touch the testing staff without permission, and Raven's never been able to provoke him enough to do it, no matter what she's tried.
"Sure," she says, and he leans over, touching his fingertip to her throat; she's suddenly very aware of the fact that he can lift seven hundred kilograms, but his fingers are gentle, soft.
"You have a mole," he says, looking at her neck. "There are a series of them on your neck and shoulders, yet they do not detract from your appearance. That is not a level of creativity I possess." His face has an odd expression, somewhere between sad and neutral, and he lets his hand fall away from her face. "I am only programmed to be perfect and efficient."
Raven smiles softly at him. "There are seven other testing models," she says. "But I always know it's you."
"All David Eight units are identical," he tells her; he looks very curious. "It would be impossible to know without having been told."
She reaches out, smoothing her finger over his eyebrow. "Part of the hair here was applied wrong. There's a little bump that the others don't have." Surprise isn't in David's range; the best he can get is a mixture of curiosity and disgust. She hopes they work out surprise for the David Nines, because this reaction's not going to go over well- they've all already filed reports on that one. "It's not the same kind of imperfection. But if you don't want to be perfect, then you don't have to think that you are."
David doesn't want anything, he can't, but that's a battle the staff have all given up on, the exhausting question of whether doing something because you want to, doing something to derive pleasure from it, and doing something because your programming drives you to resolve difficulties and rewards you with a sense of satisfaction- that none of them can actually experience but know must exist- are all the same thing or totally different. They had a few screaming matches about it before management stepped in, and now the employee manual just states that ascribing aspiration to David Eight units is acceptable shorthand under most circumstances.
"Thank you," David says, and Raven knows why they do that now; David looks like he's been given a gift, a reward for resolving something that has nothing to do with his objectives. He's showing joy now, always rare to see from the testing units, the hardest response to elicit.
Raven isn't entirely sure why she does it- Raven isn't entirely sure why she does a lot of things, it's one of her more endearing characteristics- but she cups David's face in her hand; she bends towards him and he shuts his eyes, his lips parting, and then they're kissing. It feels just like kissing a human, the same warmth and hunger. Raven would say it feels just like the real thing, just like a human kiss, but she wouldn't know.
David's not kissing a human either.
They part, and David's expressing a very complex combination of emotions, pulling from joy, confidence, and curiosity at the same time; maybe it's a little coldblooded of her, but she's already considering how to change the testing procedures, to figure out how to provoke more sophisticated responses.
"Come to my quarters tonight," she tells him. "2100. Come alone."
"I will not be able to find your quarters," he says. "I don't know your name."
She kisses him again. "It's Raven."
"Raven," he says, and he's still wearing that expression again; there's something compelling about it. She stands up, walking over and typing in the unlock code, and then there are a lot of people in the room with them, talking over each other.
It won't be the first time or the last time someone's taken one of the David Eights to their room. It doesn't happen much, mostly because there's not much interest; Raven's a little disgusted when she thinks about how different things would be if they built gynoids.
Granted, she's the one who's just invited an android to her quarters for nefarious purposes, so, glass houses and all.
The official position is that any procedure a staff member feels is necessary to discern the full capacities and limitations of a testing unit is permissible; it's not a coincidence that the same section of the manual also reiterates the fact that the ability to conceal information or delete memory is turned off in the testing units. Raven doesn't care much. Word has gotten around that she's pissed off at having her cover blown- she is, but for now it's helping her cover for something else entirely.
David is precisely on time, and Raven shows him in. She has one of the midlevel apartments, one room and a private bathroom. There's nowhere to sit but on the bed, and it saves her the dilemma of whether or not to pretend this is more than it is; David doesn't have the capacity to be offended by the idea that this is nothing but sex, won't find it distasteful or disgusting unless he thinks she does.
David sits down, waiting patiently for instructions; she stands in front of him for a moment, wondering if she's really going through with this, even though she already knows she is. "I'm going to show you something," she says. "I know if anyone asks you directly, you'll have to tell them, but keep it under your hat, okay? Don't reveal this unnecessarily."
"Of course," David says.
"This is what I actually look like," she says, and she lets all of it drop, standing in front of him in nothing but blue.
He stares at her, saying nothing. His curiosity response maxes all the way out; if she'd known that was all it took, she could have skipped three days of testing last month.
"Forgive me," he finally says.
She tilts her head. "For what, David?"
He shakes his head. "I did not know you had to work harder to appear human than I do."
She's stunned for a moment. "David," she says softly. "What are you thinking about right now?"
"You," he says. "Nothing I've ever been introduced to before is like you. I want to know everything."
One of the refreshing things about androids is that they don't lie; Raven has gone through many, many years with many, many different sets of liars, and it's been so nice to be away from them for a while, here at Weyland. David's curiosity is pure, learning the chief goal of his life after serving humans. If David has any other motive for wanting to learn than for its own sake, then it is to have more information to serve her better.
"Put your hands on me," she tells him. He doesn't hesitate; his hands come to rest on her hips, and he runs his thumbs along the edges of the scales there, tracking them, memorizing. This is risky, she knows, because once they're done, he won't have any trouble at all reproducing her in drawing or sculpture- not many people even remember Mystique and her crimes, but there's always the off chance.
He slides his hands over her stomach, exploring the smooth plane of it; Raven's not sure what he's going to do next, but he stands, looking down at her face. She shuts her eyes as he touches her cheeks, gently, carefully, his fingers brushing over the ridges of her skin. They trace down the sides of her neck, over smooth, down to where the scales begin again. "May I touch your breasts?" he asks.
"Go for it," she says, already relaxed, already tense with anticipation. He runs his palms down her chest, studying the bumps running along it. He cups her breasts, his fingers splayed out, but suddenly his hands still.
"I would appreciate feedback," he says.
"What is it?" she murmurs.
"Is this a sexual encounter?" he asks.
She looks at him. "Have you ever had sex, David?"
"No," he says, without shame.
"Yes, this is a sexual encounter," Raven tells him.
"Thank you," he replies, and she's not sure whether he meant "Thanks for the clarification" or "Thanks for the sex." It's fine either way.
He's still just standing there, kneading her breasts, looking down at his hands. "Aren't you going to kiss me?" she asks, amused.
He looks at her, and if he could be startled, he would be. "My apologies, it was not my intention to-"
"Too distracted by my tits?" she says, grinning. "Now you're really acting like a human." Raven puts her arms around his neck, pulling him down. He kisses her back eagerly; the ethical concerns involved in doing this are massively complicated, but there's one thing that Raven does know: David's goal is to make life better for humans by assisting them in any way possible, and he's about to assist Raven a whole lot.
She unbuttons his uniform jacket, pushing it off of his shoulders; she's about to just let it fall on the floor, but she's not sure that won't distress him- he worries about making a mess, his programming directing him to clean up after humans. She folds it and puts it over the chair, and then she pulls him closer, running her hands down the strong, synthetic muscles of his back.
He's still kissing her, and the feedback mechanism is working perfectly. He's learning at an excellent rate, getting better as he goes on, replicating and expanding on her kisses; he can't create, but he can extrapolate, and it's working just fine for her.
She undoes the fly of his pants, pulling them down; he patiently steps out of them and lets her toss them onto the chair. His cock is big, but she already knew that, read the specs for herself- she's still not sure whether the "secondary fluid release unit" is an actual feature or a really tired joke, but she'll just have to cross that bridge when she gets there.
She wraps her hand around him, stroking him slowly; it's hard to hear, but he lets out a little gasp. "Can you have an orgasm?" she asks; that part wasn't in the specs.
"No," he says plainly, though his breath is coming faster. He sort of looks like he wants to kiss her again, but he can't not respond to a request for information. "I do not have the correct physiological programming. Hypothetically, as my capacity for joy is linked to the joy felt by others, and because my primary purpose is aiding humans, I could reach the maximum limit of my joy function, achieving euphoria."
She tightens her hand, moving it faster. "Do you feel physical pleasure at all?" she asks, though she's already figured out the answer.
"My nerve-analogues precisely replicate the functions of their human counterparts, allowing me to feel pain, which prevents unnecessary damage," he says quickly. "This also allows me to feel pleasure. However, seeking pleasure is not an objective, unless it fulfills a human's directive."
"So if I told you I wanted you to feel good?" she coaxes.
He looks at her. "Then I would try to the best of my ability."
"I want us both to feel good," she says, kissing him.
He moans, letting his eyes shut. "Of course."
She grabs him by the hair, pulling him down. "Lay me down and fuck me," she tells him.
His emotional responses are going all over the place; the system wasn't made to adapt to this kind of stimulus on the fly, and it's going to take work for him to learn it. That's an odd challenge: are they going to have to introduce the David Eights to sex, just in case they have to have it with someone who doesn't know they're an android?
David pushes her down onto the bed, a little more hastily than she expected; maybe this is part of him feeling good, trying to work as quickly as possible to achieve his goal- her goal? He kneels in between her knees, looking at her; he's starting to show signs of exertion. She knows they're false ones, that he's reading it off her, but it's still gratifying that she's making an android get a little flustered. "May I touch you first?"
"Please," she says, and he puts his hands on her; she should have maybe been more specific, because the first thing he does it spread her open with his thumbs, studying her. He places his fingertips to her clit, and she decides she doesn't care, not when he's doing it right. "Do it like that," she instructs him. "Gently. Wait for feedback if necessary."
"I will," he says, not looking at her face, still staring at her.
"Now cut that out and fuck me," she tells him impatiently.
"Of course," he says. He looks at her, giving her the face that says he's reached the limit of his programming, that he's stuck without a solution.
"For christ's sake," she pants. Virgins. "Put my legs up around your hips. One hand on my shoulder and the other one on your dick. Use your hand as a guide, and for fuck's sake, penetrate me already."
He follows her instructions to the letter, and he groans when he pushes inside of her. She rocks her hips up, savoring the stretch of it; it's been a long time. "I'm aware of how to proceed from here," he says, and David's not programmed for sarcasm, but that's the closest she's ever heard him get.
"Do it," she says, and the words are barely out of her mouth before he starts moving inside of her, thrusting carefully. "Harder than that. I know you've got fine muscle control, now use it."
"Yes," he says, and he really starts fucking her then, learning from every second, building on it. His face is registering joy now, more and more. She knows it's artificial, knows that all he's doing is reading it off her and giving it back, knows that his pleasure is just her pleasure reiterated, and she must be more of a technophile than she thought, because that is incredibly hot.
She's getting closer; she hooks her leg around his waist, drawing him in, and he pushes in deeper, giving her more. "Get ready," she says, through clenched teeth, because she's not entirely sure what's going to happen, whether he might overload his emotion simulators and shut down; she doesn't like the idea of 86 kilos of nonfunctional robot on top of her.
But then that's not interesting anymore, because she's coming, thrusting her hips up; he fucks her all the way through it, looking at her in amazement. She's never gotten him near it before, but there it is, the joy capacity maxed out. She shuts her eyes for a moment, savoring that look, recording it; there's just something about a job well done.
When she opens her eyes again, he's braced over her, still inside her but unmoving; he's sweating, his hair falling out of place. "Would you like me to stop? I can continue to maintain my erection as long as is necessary."
She looks up at him, panting. "Then no."
He leans down to kiss her again, moving slowly inside of her.
Never send a human to do a non-human's job.