Belladonna squeaked as she sneezed for what seemed like the fiftieth time that hour, pulling another tissue from the box and, once used, throwing it at the compiler, missing again. Grumpily she got out of bed and gathered up the small pile of them she had also missed on previous attempts as well, dumping them in and wondering why nobody had invented a little mini compiler to go on a bedside table for just this purpose.
She mildly scolded herself for moaning this much about something so small. Only a month earlier she had been typing herself into early arthritis and crippling her back in a horrible Lindon corporation office. Shoddy air con, 16 hour shifts, bone breaking crunch on top of that some weeks and worst of all, the most criminal negligence of the whole office was that the chairs didn’t even go spinny. Some killjoy in upper management had calculated how much wasted productivity was spent on people spinning in their chairs and had decided to replace them with ones bolted to the floor. The poor quality leather was barely padded and they rattled as soon as they were brought in, having been bought cheaply from a more productive office elsewhere. The manager responsible for such an atrocity had been thoroughly domesticated by a particularly sadistic affini, appearing on a show about building renovation and being made to test all the new, extremely comfortable furniture while blissed out of their mind on class-A’s, much to their embarrassed horror. Whenever their owner wasn’t cooing at them ze had cackled zir core off the whole time.
Now though? Now she had a chair that not only went spinny, but was the most comfy thing she had ever sat on, molding itself into whatever position she wanted. Not that she did her old job any more. Who would want to write out with loan balances still to be repaid each month and payment plans attached when there was no more debt? Not her, that was for sure. Now spinny chairs too could be liberated to their true purpose - spinny while gaming.
Unfortunately that was not to be today though. As she slunk back to bed, wrapping herself under the covers, she got just comfortable enough that it was of great annoyance to her when she remembered that she should probably have gotten a glass of water while she was at the compiler.
Groaning, she pulled the covers off again and stomped over to the compiler, getting three glasses of water so she wouldn’t have to move again for a while. The room temperature would make them warm in a way she disliked but at least she could bundle up and not leave her bed.
Her joints creaked as she curled back up, bundling the duvet around herself and shivering. This cold was really beating her this time around. She had always been susceptible to them but at least this time there was no boss to yell at her for dropping productivity as she tried not to drip onto her keyboard. Nope, instead she could stay here, toasty warm with whatever she wanted at just a simple request to her hab AI Habitha.
“Habitha, can you make some nice incense or something to ease my nose, I’ve got a cold”
“Oh sweet-pea, of course I can”
Soon the hab was filled with a pleasantly soothing smell. Her nose eased up a bit on the swelling, allowing her to breathe a little easier. She rested for a few minutes more before...
“Dingey dingey ding dong! There’s somebody to see you cutie! How exciting!”
She sighed in a fondly exasperated fashion. She had turned the AI to English- Boring previously but it had sounded so despondent and bored that she had turned it back again. Now the mildly patronizing tone was slowly growing on her, even if it was a bit embarrassing when people came to visit.
“Who is it Habitha?”
“Iiiiiiit’s a new affini friend to look after you while you’re sick!”
“Wait, what!? I didn’t ask for that?”
“I sent the request after you said you were sick. Your vitals are a little strained, so I got you some help”
She sighed, of course the affini had programmed that into their habs AI. It would have been strange if they hadn’t. Still, now she had to deal with a stranger at the door while she was not feeling her best. Quickly she looked around at the state her room was in, clothes thrown haphazardly in the wash basket and a few others on the floor along with several cups of previous hot beverages yet to be decompiled. Ordinarily she would have been on top of everything but with this damn cold...
“Hey cutie, your visitor still wants to know if they can come in and say hello!”
“Gah! OK fine, let them in. I’ll meet them in the lounge”
Swearing, Belladonna grabbed a dressing gown and threw it on, trying to ignore the dizziness that hit her as she got up too quickly, almost failing when she sneezed again, swore, wiped her nose and staggered out to meet her guest. She waved non-committally with a groaned “hey” before flopping down onto her sofa and closing her eyes again.
“Sorry you got dragged out here, I’m not going to be great company but I’m fine, really. It’s just a cold”
“Oh petal, you look really poorly. Here, let me give you something for that”
A needle tipped vine snaked it’s way towards her though she barely noticed until it pricked her and a warm sensation flooded her muscles, forcing them to relax slightly. She still let out a little “Ah!” before melting back into the couch though, something the affini picked up on.
“Oh buttercup I am sorry, I forgot even a little pinch can be a lot stronger to you terrans when you’re sick”
“iss fine. Jus warn me next time please?”
She at herself across from you in one of the affini sized chairs she’d had delivered a while back so her friend’s master was able to be comfortable when he brought faer to visit. The same friend who kept on telling her to let them and their master help her when they visited, trying to clean and cook when they were the guests! Such silliness, of course she had to be the one to do those things, they were her responsibility after all.
Through her mildly bleary sideways vision on the couch she could see that she seemed to be on the taller side for an affini with fuzzy moss draped down her body in the approximation of a long dress.
“My name is Valeriana Hyssopus, Fourth Bloom, It/She. You’re Belladonna Grimrose, She/Her yes?”
“Yep, in the sneezy flesh”
“Good, well done on answering me so nicely after that little shock petal”
Belladonna flushed a little more than she already was, being bunged up and all.
“I’m not that sick, it’s fine. I just need to rest for a few days and I’ll be fine again”
“That’s the spirit petal! And I’ll be more than happy to help you do just that”
“No, I mean, it’s alright. I can manage on my own”
Valeriana’s face fell a little before giving Belladonna a disappointed look mixed with pity, making her look away in shame a little. She didn’t need anyone to look after her, she would be fine after all! She’d fought off worse colds and it wasn’t like she wasn’t already managing to slouch about the hab well enough to get what she needed.
“Now Belladonna, there is nothing wrong with getting a little help. I know you’re an independent sophont but everyone needs a little help when they’re sick, even affini although it happens quite rarely to us. Why don’t you let me get you something to eat? Your records said you haven’t eaten much other than crackers since you woke up and you could do with something hot to warm you up”
Without further ado it went to the kitchen, compiling something, chopping it up and setting it to cook on the stovetop. Belladonna for her part just groaned a little and buried herself further into the couch. Of course the plant wouldn’t let her just deal with it herself. Even at her most organised there was always something that an affini would go ahead and help with whether she asked them to or not.
Still… the smell now floating in from the kitchen did smell good, better than good even. A pungent aroma already had her drooling a bit.
“Here we are dear. One chicken soup and some warm buttery bread to go with it”
“You made me chicken soup?”
Belladonna couldn’t help but chuckle.
“You know I think there used to be like, this thing where chickens had some sort of medical properties because apparently chicken soup used to always be used to cure people of colds back when there still were chickens around. Used to only be rich people who could get anything close to what an old earth chicken used to be like nowadays.”
“Well lucky for you we made our chicken soup medicinal for you cuties. Lots of nice xenodrugs to pep your immune system up a bit while keeping you relaxed so you don’t go rushing about too much when you should be resting”
She eyed the soup with suspicion. She knew very well the sort of effect xenodrugs could have on a person and as much as she knew she already had something in her system from Valeriana earlier it was still another step to ingest them by her own actions.
“Come on petal, eat up. You need to keep your strength up if you’re going to get rid of that nasty cold”
“What are the side effects of the drugs you put in here exactly?”
“Oh nothing much, just a little fuzziness and drowsiness. Nothing like the strength we’d let florets experience, don’t you worry”
It gave Belladonna a little wink of sorts, moving a little leaf over one eye before prompting her to start eating. She carefully sat up, groaning again as her body still creaked a bit, even with whatever Valeriana had put inside her system earlier still there. Gingerly she took the tray and dipped the bread in the soup, sniffing it suspiciously before resolving that it smelled far to good to be worrying about the drugs in it at this point. Taking a bite she moaned long and low as delicious warmth flooded her mouth.
“Awwww, such a good cute girl. I take it you like it sweetie?”
Belladonna tried to glare at her but it came across more as a pout, making Valeriana chuckle. Gradually she made her way through the soup as Valeriana continued its way doing… something around the hab. Quite what it was she couldn’t make out but the soup made her far less interested than she normally would have been in what someone else was doing with her stuff. As much as she didn’t want to admit it Valeriana had been right, she felt much better. Whatever was in the soup made her body feel a lot less heavy than usual.
Unfortunately with that came a small loss of spacial awareness as she accidentally let go of the spoon, hearing it clatter against the tray before landing on the floor. Luckily there hadn’t been any soup on it at the time else she would have had to clear that up as well.
“Are you alright dear? Ah, I see. Poor petal, the fuzziness can sometimes make it a little hard to co-ordinate but you cuties always feel so much better afterwards. Come on, lets get you another spoon”
She took the one on the floor and replaced it with a new one, holding it in front of Belladonna’s face. She tried to take it from the Affini’s grasp but it held firm, shaking its head before scooping the last of the soup up with it and holding it out.
“Just to be safe”
“I can… I can do that myself”
“I know you’d try ever so hard sweet-pea but lets be careful now, hm? You’ve dropped one already, and it’s only one teensy little spoonful left”
It slowly moved the spoon towards her mouth, Belladonna sighing and grumpily accepting the last of the soup. She just about held back a moan at the taste although Valeriana’s smirk let her know that it knew she was holding out on it. It cleared away the tray before returning and petting her head gently.
“How are you after all that sweetie? A little tired still?”
“Yeah, a little. I’ll be alright though, imma just take a nap here”
“Now now, you could just let me carry you to the bed where you would be more comfortable”
“I don’t need that, here’s comfy enough”
“Not for the amount of sleep that you truly need petal. You look exhausted, come on, wouldn’t it be nice just to settle down in bed all cosy and warm?”
Belladona pouted at her again before grumbling something about not needing to be taken care of. But the headpats continued, so very soft and tingly, especially after whatever was in the soup. Maybe if she just grumbled at being moved and fell asleep here then Valeriana would let her be. She tried to lean her head against the sofa only to find something far softer there instead. Turning her head she saw Valeriana had placed some vines as a little pillow to prop up her head. At first she thought it was just propping her up so she didn’t sprain her neck, but soon said vines started to weave their way into her hair to scritch the back of her neck in way that was enough to melt her, drawing a distressed little whine from as she pouted up at it again.
“That isn’t a no, is it little flower?”
Belladonna let her shoulders droop as she gave in.
“Fiiiiiiinnnee, I’ll go to bed again. But I can walk there myself”
She forced herself to stand up, wobbling a little before grabbing for the sofa for support but again finding Valeriana’s vines instead.
“You’re a little unsteady petal, wouldn’t it be easier to let me carry you? I know you’re a big strong independent girl who ‘don’t need no plant’ but wouldn’t it be nice to just let yourself relax? Just for a bit while you’re still unwell?”
Belladonna considered her options. On one hand she was reticent to let any more be done on her behalf, especially when she hadn’t asked for any help. But…. Gosh she was tired, and Valeriana was so very comfy…. So very very comfy…
Belladonna let her weight lean against it as she mumbled unintelligibly. Valeriana was more than happy to run with it though, vines gently scooping her up and bringing her head to rest gently against its shoulder as it slowly moved towards the bedroom.
“There we go, isn’t that so much nicer? Just let me take care of you little one. I’ll have you all tucked up soon enough”
She felt herself gently lowered onto sheets that felt a lot cleaner than earlier, eventually realising that Valeriana had changed them while she ate. She was finding it difficult to truly care that another thing had been done without her asking for it, letting herself revel in the softness of the sheets, a crisp coolness soothing her body and it’s fever. She couldn’t be annoyed at Valeriana really, she had made things significantly easier for her, removing the need to push herself into discomfort while sick.
Valeriana’s vines gradually began to retract, eliciting an unbidden whimper from Belladonna. She found herself reaching out and gently grasping a thicker vine, pulling it towards her face and gently rubbing her face a bit along it as she settled down, using it as a pillow. Valeriana couldn’t help letting a quiet high pitched squeal out as it saw fit to scritch the back of her head again. Why had she acted that way? She was never this…. needy, almost demanding. She didn’t need this so why had she reached out unbidden and just…
“Do you want to cuddle little one? Some nice cuddles to send you to sleep?”
She couldn’t speak, stuck between feeling selfish and the pleasant feeling of comfort that Valeriana’s vines brought her. She turned her sluggish neck muscles to look up at it, Valerianan recognising a pleading look to make the decision for her, smirking as it pulled it’s form into the terran sized bed, filling it entirely as she wrapped a few vines around the indecisive terran.
“See petal, isn’t it nice when you let others help you? There’s more time and energy for scritches and everything”
Belladonna just let a long whine out before desperately snuggling down further into Valeriana’s vines. A few more vines added to the scritching movements and she was out like a light.
3 days later
Belladona Hyssopus, First Floret was not sleepy, not at all! On the contrary she was full of energy and want to do…. something. She wriggled about, felt her owners vines caress her, and immediately gave up trying to get up, opting to squeal happily as she snuggled them close. This was what she wanted to do of course! Who could possibly want anything else? After all, she felt wonderful.
“Hello dearest. Did you have anything you needed to do today?”
“Cuddle you Mistress!”
“Of course dearest, but anything you have to do alone I meant?”
“Nope, I can ask you to help can’t I”
Valeriana smiled, wide and full of glee.
“That’s right little one. I will always be around to help you. Very good girl!”
2 days later
“So, you wanted to clear things up with my little petal yes? Well go on, ask away. I won’t judge”
Trixie gave Veleriana a scathing look before turning her attention to the little ball of snuggling happiness intertwined in its vine, an utterly blissful look on her face the likes of which they’d never seen on her before. If they were being honest with themselves it scared them. How could she be so calm after having given away so much of her freedom? This weed must have done something to her, there was no other explanation.
“So let me get this straight, you were sick and this plant came around, took care of feeding and caring for you and now you don’t want to do things without her help any more?”
“But why? You can still do things on your own, you always could. You were like, super competent and stuff! She’s made you rely on her rather than yourself. That’s just not right, she took away your independence!”
“I mean, I gave it away actually”
“But she took advantage of you in a vulnerable situation. If you hadn’t been sick then maybe you would have said no to all that stuff”
“But because I was sick I eventually didn’t and it was a good decision because everything worked out! I got better extra quickly and I got Mistress and it got me and we both got snuggles!”
She sounded positively delighted, giggling away happily to herself as she snuggled some of the plant’s vines closer.
“You could still do more now though couldn’t you? Surely it’s better to cultivate some independence so that you can do some cleaning on your own at least sometimes or… I don’t know, something!”
“Yeah I hear you, independence could maaayyybbe one day be important for some weird reason that Mistress will never let happen that stops her being able to help me, but consider…”
Belladonna held up a finger solemnly before snuggling even deeper into her mistress who was grinning at her.
“Helpful plampt comfy”