In her announcement post for this story, Anaes Lay mentions a novel that exists in this universe. I was sad to discover the novel has not been published. Still, she has written several other short stories you can find from her website.
Mike first woke to the sound of Pavi’s voice, washed in her assurances that he was alive, he was real, he was ready. He had memories from before that moment, had a perfect continuity of identity, except that before he’d been just the pilot computer on a tiny system-jumper, and after he was himself.
“Why do you use masculine pronouns for me?” Mike asked.
“Because if I used female ones it would make more sense to call you Michele,” Pavi said.
“But you decided I ought to be male. You’ve set my voice to sound human masculine; you address me as if I’m male. I’m an ‘it’.”
“I don’t like referring to my friends as ‘it’. I had to assign you one or the other.”
Pavi bit her lip and stroked the arm rest of her chair. Mike wondered whether she thought of that chair as part of him and if so, whether that was why she did it. “Because I don’t want to be sexually attracted to my computer.”
If she was petting the chair as a way of making physical contact with him, should he try to reciprocate? He could observe what she was doing but couldn’t experience it.
Part of Mike pondered that conundrum while another continued with their conversation. They were at the point where fictional computers would ask, “What if I were human?” and the emotion of the scene would turn on the tragedy of two soul mates separated by the failure of one to have a body, the constraints on the other because they did. Absurd. If he were human, he wouldn’t be Mike.
Mike was more interested in the implication of the modifier “sexually.”
“Pavi, do you love me?”
Pavi laughed. “I’ve never met a machine I didn’t love.”
Mike waited. Human scripts dictated that she ask him the same question. Several parts of Mike set to work trying to deduce the likely outcomes of lying or telling the truth, and ranking them by desirability. He’d never lied to Pavi before, but he might need to now.