Mitchell reached to open the door with some apprehension. Was he really going to do this? Not that opening doors was an issue, don’t get me wrong. It’s about the building that this particular door belonged to: a domestication centre. Mitchell had been struggling all his life and was tired of it. He took a slow breath. Visiting a domestication centre didn’t automatically make him a floret, he reminded himself, even if possibly becoming a floret might be the exact reason for his being here. He opened the door and slowly walked in.
“Good evening cutie! How can I help you?”
“I, uhm.. Hi?”
“Oh, I’m sorry little one. Did I startle you? I’m so, so sorry. Please take all the time you need. Would you like to sit down?” Without waiting for an answer, Daisy reached with one of its vines to pull over a chair and at the same time used a few other vines to get a glass of water. “I’m Daisy Osteospermum Fifth Bloom, ae/aer by the way.”
Mitchell just stared at aer. He should be able to words, damn it!
“Take your time little one. We have all the time you need. Would it be okay if I pat you?”
Mitchell nodded. After maybe 15 minutes, he found his words again. “I would like to learn more about what it means to be domesticated. Like, I’ve seen and interacted with plenty of florets and Affini, but I still feel like I don’t get the full picture.”
Daisy smiled. “Could you tell me why you’re considering domestication and what your apprehensions are, little one?”
How did ae know?! He hadn’t said he was considering it or that he had apprehensions, right? Or, better put, that he had secretly already made the decision, but was looking for excuses to stop himself from volunteering. Not that anyone could ever know that. WAIT! When did ae start asking the questions?
“I only said I want to learn more about it! I never told you I’m considering domestication! How did you know?!” Mitchell yelled. “Oops! I’m so, so sorry! I didn’t mean to yell” he quickly added, making himself small.
“Shall we move to another room? A little privacy might make you feel more at ease, perhaps?” Mitchell just nodded. “Don’t worry about your little outburst cutie. Would you like me to carry you?” ae added, noticing he didn’t move at all. After a minute, Daisy picked him up and carried him to a small room. Daisy considered sitting him down in aer lap, but decided against it, continuing to pat him.
Mitchell didn’t know how much time had passed before he regained control over his body. He was sitting in a small, dimly lit room, together with Daisy. He stole a quick glance at the Affini before lowering his gaze and staring at the floor in embarrassment.
“Welcome back little one. I notice you seem quite anxious about being here. With your permission, I would like to give you some class E to help you calm down.” Daisy patiently waited for him to answer.
“I.. I’m so sorry. Why can’t I just function like a normal person?” He hesitated for a moment. “Class E is for helping with anxiety, correct?” Daisy nodded. “Then I would like some class E please.”
Daisy held up a vine, revealing a little blue flower. “Just breathe in deep for me.”
Mitchell took a deep breath and within seconds the effect of the spores hit his nervous system. He couldn’t suppress a sigh of relief. “Thank you Daisy. Thank you so much.”
“Shall we try again? Why don’t you start with telling me your name?”
“Oh, okay. I’m Mitchell Stone, he/him.”
“Nice to meet you Mitchell. What can I do for you today?”
“Well, uhm.. I came here to ask for information on domestication. About the process I mean. I guess I already admitted that I’m considering it, but like, how would I go about doing this? I already looked up a model domestication contract, but how would I find an Affini to be my eventual caretaker? Owner, I mean. And who would decide on additional clauses to be added to the contract? And how would those be decided on? And would they be able to keep me safe from my family?”
Daisy had been patiently listening, until ae heard that last question, which immediately caught aer interest and got aer concerned. “What about your family? Why would you need to be kept safe?” Noticing the expression on his face, ae added, “I’ll get to the other questions in a moment.”
“About that…” Suddenly Mitchell felt exhausted, as if his sleepless nights were finally catching up with him. “I, uhm… I feel very tired, but I’m afraid of going back to my family. Is there any place I can sleep?”
Daisy thought for a second and then answered. “What about you come with me and you can sleep in my hab? I can give you some class Z to help you sleep if you like and then I can answer all your questions in the morning.”
“But what if anyone from my family would see us together?”
“With your consent, I could carry you and shield you from prying eyes with my leaves.” Before Mitchell could finish nodding, he was scooped up in Daisy’s vines and felt himself nestling comfortably in the vines carrying him to safety.