Pearl’s eyes feel glazed over, each slow blink taking no end of effort from the girl. Simply watching as she’s carried through the halls of the ship, in her hammock, but other than that entirely uncovered. Which would normally be enough to drive her to a panic, whether it be from fear of judgment, or tactical disadvantage, but right now she doesn’t mind.
The experience feeling more like watching a nice video about a walk, rather than the intimate horrifying experience that actually taking one would always feel like.
After a few more minutes of barely observed walking, the only thing to listen to is the affini holding her, speaking in a tongue that she’d never had the chance to learn. The group arrives at the Honey Pot, Resin making sure to guide the group over to one of the more secluded booths.
Pearl is then very slowly moved around, and placed not on the booth, and instead on the center of the table. Back scooted up to lean against the wall, and her arm quickly being moved by vines, and tucked around Twig, to keep him from falling out of her arms.
“Alright there you go petal. This is the best I could think of to give you a good view of all of us while we talk.” Resin smiles softly, reaching over and gently rubbing Pearl’s cheek. “There will be no secrets, I know you’re strong enough to handle everything.”
“I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this.” Anthurium leans back slightly, sighing and shaking her head. Taking occasional glances over at Pearl, not hiding her unease regarding the sophont.
“I can, you’re a softy deep down Anthurium, after all how do you think you ended up with Jason anyway.” Celosia laughs, reaching over and patting Pearl on the head a few times. “She’s just trying to scare you, because she’s mad about what happened yesterday, and doesn’t want it to happen again. It’ll be fine… I think.”
Pearl watches as Resin and Celosia start to take turns petting her, unable to so much as flinch as the pets are heaped upon her. Finding Resin’s touch paradoxical in nature, comforting, but also absolutely unnerving in that fact. Celosia on the other hand, the vines on her hand feel far too soft, uncomfortably so during the pets without anything else to focus on.
“I thought Resin said we aren’t going to lie to her, she’s sitting precariously on the edge of what she can get away with, you shouldn’t be saying anything that could risk the impression that she can get away with anymore of this behavior.” Anthurium huffs, tapping her fingers on the table as she stares at Pearl. The girl assuming that the plant is trying to stare a hole clean in her head with the level of intensity to her expression.
“I’m afraid that Anthurium is right petal, you will need to be on… honestly much better behavior than I am concerned you are emotionally capable of currently.” Resin sighs, its vines bundling up around one another, having wanted to slowly flow into this conversation rather than crashing into it. “But I’m going to need you to try.”
“More so Resin is going to need you to do.” Celosia nods, waving down the beeple waiter that is drowsily buzzing around the restaurant. “If you attempt whatever little plan is on your mind, we will be forced to take actions to prevent it from even being a possibility in the future.”
“Which would entail, likely either removing your memories before being taken in by Resin, or putting you on permanent class J’s.” Anthurium turns her head away from Pearl, starting to gently pet bramble. Mostly as a way to fill her attention and calm down. “That of course would be down to a group vote. So Resin would not be able to protect you as thoroughly next time.”
“We would like some waffles, eggs, and bacon for my floret please.” Resin smiles at bramble, giving him a few pats on the head, before turning back to look at Pearl. “And I intend to insure that this last week, before your implantation goes by as quickly, and smoothly, as possible.”
Pearl, for her part, is actually trying to pay a small amount of attention. But due to her exhaustion from both last nights breakdown, and this morning's events, she finds herself dosing away into the closest thing she can get to a nap without fully falling asleep.
The idea of trying to ignore Twig’s vibrations passing through her head once, before drifting away as the plush continues to vibrate against her chest. The idea of trying to cut off the comfort it provides internally being declared foolish at best.
As she waits for her breakfast, both Celosia and Anthurium continue to talk at her. Giving an all too large list of different warnings, or recommendations to improve her behavior, of course all of this falls on absolutely def ears. Pearl not particularly caring about any of the affini’s opinions now that they’ve declared themselves unwilling to just kill her.
After another few minutes of ignoring the commentary of the peanut gallery. bramble returns holding Resin’s order for Pearl’s meal. “Here you go Mix Resin!” he buzzes up, putting the meal down on the table, getting more pets from all of the affini, before wandering off again.
Resin quietly starts to cut up Pearl’s meal, following in its florets footsteps in ignoring the other two affini. Simply nodding along with everything that is being said, well aware that none of this will actually be retained by Pearl by the time they get home, and simply planning its next steps out internally.
“Resin, hello?” Celosia’s head detaches itself from her shoulders, sliding on vines over in front of Resin to distract it from the meticulous task of feeding its frozen floret. “Are you in there?”
Resin glances over at Celosia, shrugging slightly as it slides a bite of bacon into Pearl’s mouth. “Just focused on Pearl, I appreciate all the advice.” Its voice retains a level of minor annoyance, still not quite over the fact that its floret had been shown not only a sophont on class O’s, but her old captain.
Celosia nods slightly, looking over at Pearl. “I know this is all probably feeling really annoying, but I am genuinely trying to help the two of you.” She slowly pulls her head back over on top of her shoulders, electing to go quiet for the remainder of Pearl’s meal. Having caught the hint in Resin’s tone that it doesn’t want to hear much more from her right now.
After a few more minutes of careful feeding, Pearl is hoisted from her position on the table into Resin’s vines. The affini quickly flowing out of the booth and looking over at Celosia and Anthurium. “I will see you both on Pearl’s implantation day… I promise there will be no more accidents. Goodbye.” And with that Resin turns away and marches back to its hab.
Pearl is very gently dumped down on to the couch, Twig landing on top of her, as her body limply flops over onto its side. Her one eye that isn’t pressed against the couch, watching as Resin slides a vine out and injects her with something. All of the muscles in her body almost immediately tightening back up out of anxiety. “GAH!”
“That’s one way to say thank you.” Resin looks down with an unamused expression. Slipping around pearl, and helping her sit up on the couch. “So, now that we’re home, I need to know how much of all of that you actually listened to, before shutting down and ignoring everyone other than me.”
“It’s a bold assumption to say that I wasn’t also ignoring you.” Pearl scoffs to herself, as she wiggles away from Resin’s supportive vines. Her arm remaining wrapped around Twig as she eyes Resin wearily.
“Because I know that you can’t help but allow my voice to grace your ears at this point.” Resin pats Pearl on the head lightly, watching as she folds her body up around Twig. Clearly making an effort to ensure that Resin can’t get a hold of him. “Also I know you know better than to think you can keep Twig from me, if I really wanted him.”
“Yeah, but maybe I’d like to pretend that I can.” Pearl gently runs her hand along the bottom of the plush. Having to take slow deep breaths to keep herself from going back into the panicked state she’d slipped into this morning. “And if you know taking him would hurt me, then you won’t do it.”
“Indeed, after all, I’ve explained what he’s doing to you, and you’re not even attempting to get rid of him. There’s no good reason for me to take something that’s making you weaker, back.” Resin reaches out and runs the side of its hand against Pearl’s cheek, watching as she shudders and raises her chin ever so slightly.
“The only reason I don’t try to banish him, is because I do not know what will happen without you or him around.” Pearl takes a deep shaky breath, as Resin’s vine starts to scratch right under her chin. “And if I was paying attention to anything, it would be the fact that I’m on close watch from now on. I don’t wanna do anything that would force you to start using… the other drugs on me.”
“If you would like, I can simply allow you to have a bath alone to see how you feel fully in private.” Resin grins, slowly pulling its hand away and watches as Pearl’s chin just for a second chases after its hand. “Unless you feel like you couldn’t handle being without me already?”
“You are goating me, and I understand that.” Pearl slowly unwraps her arm from around Twig. Pushing him out of her lap and onto the couch. “But I will play your game, and leave Twig right here until after the bath is over.”
“If you say so.” Resin flashes a grin at Pearl, reaching down and scooping the girl up into its vines. “I’m going to carry you there, just to help you get inside, and set everything up for you. Don’t worry, I won’t pet you unless you ask politely.”
Pearl groans, leaning back as Resin starts to carry her through the living room and towards the bathroom. Abstaining from giving Resin the satisfaction of a verbal response. Internally preparing herself for whatever a complete absence of biorhythm will feel like.
Resin makes sure that each step is more enthusiastic than the last. Bouncing Pearl up and down as they walk through the bedroom, and enter the bathroom. Leaning all the way over the tub, before plopping Pearl down against the cool tile. “Alright, just pass me your pajamas and then I’ll get out of your adorable hair.”
Pearl falls back as Resin lets go, landing flat on her ass, and starting to as quickly as possible peel the pajamas off. Hiding herself behind the wall of the tub, to minimize prying eyes from Resin. Not wanting to feel any more visually undressed than absolutely necessary.
Tossing the clothes over the edge of the tub, she takes a deep breath, mustering the most respectful voice that she can manage. “Alright, I’m ready for my solo bath now!” She flashes a far too convincing fake smile up at Resin, having gotten more than enough practice with pretending to be fine with any situation she's in, in the past.
“Alright petal, I’ll be riiiight outside if you need anything!” Resin taps a few times on its datapad, causing the bath to start to fill up to Pearl’s shoulders with warm water. A few vines wiggling their way off of its form and waving at Pearl. “Have a nice bath.”
Pearl nods slightly, her eyes tracing Resin’s movements as she walks out of the bathroom. Exhaling sharply, and flopping backward into the water once she’s allowed at the very least the illusion of privacy. “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck me.” She starts to laugh lightly, shaking her head from side to side to get all of her hair wet.
Wading her way to the opposite edge of the pool, Pearl starts to feel cold… Not horrifically so, but somehow there’s a chill in her chest that isn’t cured by the warm water splashing up against her.
“Great… that’s not a bad sign, not at all.” Pearl runs her hand up and down her chest, eyes flicking over to where her replacement limb should sit. ‘And I can’t even think about getting that back now, I’ve gotta escape while down an arm… great.’
Reaching the edge of the tub, she grabs the green container, dumping a bit onto her head. Mostly out of habit, rather than being in the mood to actually go through the motions of getting cleaned up. Knowing that if she skips out on any steps Resin is more than likely to force her to do it anyway.
Dunking her hair under the water, once, twice, over and over. Each and every movement mechanical in its rigidity, causing the tub to start to bubble ever so slightly with soap. Pearl keeps her eyes glued shut, running the last day through her head over and over, trying to find a falt, a small flaw in the system that could possibly be exploited.
Of course all she manages to pull out of her head is the datapad, without exception it appears to be the single careless mistake that Resin makes each and every night, so unless she starts being drugged to sleep the plan shouldn’t need to change… even if leaving Twig behind is starting to seem more and more unfavorable.
“Alright, I’m done!” Pearl shouts hanging onto the side of the tub as the water starts to drain down under her feet, back into the inner workings of the ship. Leaving her shaking ever so slightly from the chill of being left out of the water without a towel.
Resin walks into the bathroom, holding Twig, a towel, and pajamas. “Alright Pearl, it’s up to you, the towel and pajamas are obviously not a negotiable thing, but do you want me to give you Twig back yet?” It flashes her a small smile, knowing that she’s capable of seeing the thorns hidden behind the sweetness.
“Just give me the clothes, I don’t need Twig.” Pearl grumbles, starting to scratch against the inner part of her thigh. Feeling more than a little tempted to ask for Twig alongside them, but holding back mostly to avoid overindulging and allowing the risk of developing even more dependency on the plush.
“Alright, so no Twig tonight got it.” Resin’s grin only widens as it very obviously shoves Twig inside of its chest. Forming a visible cage that the plush is being kept behind. “If you want your cuddle bug, you’ll have to come over and willingly nestle into my vines.”
Pearl’s cheeks turn pink, her hairs however wet finding a way to stick up in indignation. Of course there was going to be a catch. “Will I at the very least still have my show to sleep with. Or are you going to keep that away from me too now?”
“I was considering it.” Resin nods, walking over to the side of the tub, picking Pearl up ever so gently, obviously making an attempt to minimize contact. “But that would be cruel, exploiting a physical illness to break you down, so I’ll allow you as long as I don’t see any more bad behavior over this next week.” Putting Pearl down, it takes a step back away, putting the towel and set of purple pajamas down next to Pearl.
“Oh goody, you do have some level of standards.” Pearl plucks the towel off the ground, immediately getting to work scrubbing herself down. “And are you like, trying to minimize contact to tempt me now?”
“Absolutely, it’s been made more than clear to me, that despite your stated hatred of it, you crave physical comfort, meaning making you come to me for it will both demean you, and ingrain in your head that you just need to ask me to do things for you, and I will.” Resin turns around, starting to walk back out of the room. “I will be waiting in our bedroom, setting a little step stool to help you get up yourself. You can join me for bed whenever you’re ready.”
Pearl’s body locks up at how brazen Resin had gotten since this morning, while bluntness has always been a tool it used to manipulate her, not dressing it up or making it go with a spoon full of sugar to be more tempting to go along with, instead electing to use simple precise truth. Which in her experience, has always been the most devastating tool in someone like hers arsenal. “Well… I’m fucked.”
It takes a few minutes for her to force herself into the pajamas. Their obnoxious level of fluffiness almost getting in the way of movement, as the top is more of a sweater than a sleeping shirt.
As Pearl walks back into the bedroom, she’s met with Resin laying down on the opposite side of the bed, facing toward Pearl with the data pad leaning up against Twig’s cage. Its entire body tensed up to make sure not a single vine is out of place, nowhere that could be deemed as ‘accidental’ contact allowed on its form. “Hello again Petal, are you ready for bed?”
“Yes.” Pearl slowly walks up to the little steps, carefully making her way up them. Making sure not to rush herself and risk tripping on the way, hoping to avoid as much closeness with Resin as possible. “Thank you for giving me privacy for my bath.”
“Oh of course.” Resin taps on the datapad, to turn on the app for Pearl to pick out what she wants to watch today. “Now I wont be allowing you to take the datapad away from Twig, after all it would be quite rude to him to not let him watch too.” It flashes her a small smile. “But just tell me what you want to watch and I’ll turn it on for you.”
“Fine fine, just turn on the last episodes of the show I’ve been chewing my way through.” Pearl waves her hand at Resin, flopping down onto her side and glaring at the screen. Cursing the fact that tonight’s inspection of what she can do on the datapad, is going to be much riskier in comparison, to even the normal nightly investigations.
Both due to the very real possibility of falling asleep too close to Resin, and having that damned rhythm sink its way deeper into her mind, as well as the possibility of even the smallest movement of the datapad waking Resin up giving the affini’s vines this time are lining the edges of the screen to hold it in place against Twig’s plush chest.
“Alright petal, if the show ends before you manage to fall asleep don’t be afraid to just give me a tap, and I’ll switch the show for you.” Resin uses one hand, reaching out and tugging the beds blankets down slightly to help Pearl get herself tucked in for the night.
“Yeah yeah, I’m sure it won’t be a big deal.” Pearl reciols away from the hand, waiting for it to slide away, before slipping under the covers and watching closely as Resin turns on the show. Only having a few seconds to glimpse at the affini script before the episode starts up, the entire thing running in terran.
“Alright, if you say so.” Resin rolls over onto its opposite side, its vines dancing along one another to keep Twig’s cage in the same spot, despite Resin being fully facing away from Pearl. “Good night Petal.”
“Good night… Resin.” Pearl mumbles out the last word, lazily watching the cartoon as the exhaustion from the day starts to creep back in. The gentle vibrations from across the bed feeling similar to a weak magnet, not enough to force her hand, but instead a constant weak tugging in the back of her head. Promising how nice it will feel to scratch that itch once again.
The second half of this show’s final season slowly passes by, Pearl’s eyes get heavier and heavier. The show that had once started as barely a distraction, capturing her complete attention as it wramps towards the ending. All of the characters coming together to save the girl who got hurt in the last season, and stop the evil invading force.
As the last episode rolls to its conclusion, Pearl can’t help but let a little whimper out. Watching as the group finally reunites after a decade, the thought of being able to hold Isaac like that again floating through her head on loop.
With a shaking hand, Pearl taps the button to send her back into the show selection area. Immediately relieved to see that her plan would not require leaving the show selection area tonight, given that while all of the shows names in text are in affini script, the pictures all have terran on them. Allowing her to very slowly start the process of trying to find out how to equate terran, and this version of affini, to one another. Her determination to escape this damned ship finding another spark.