In her hab, Sola takes a few practiced motions, trying to keep her nerves down. “Alright, picture done, picnic ready, I’ve got everything ready.” She smiles, checking some of her flower grafts to make sure they all look good, before turning to Anthurium. “So, how do I look?”
Anthurium is seated on Sola’s couch, petting a sleeping Jason and looking over the affini. “You look like you’re just about to rebloom from your nerves. This is going to be fine, you and Cel were able to make her almost entirely docile working together, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to just enjoy a day with her.” She pats the massive box next to her. “Anyways, you get to set up her new board game, if you ever see things starting to stagnate.”
Sola forces a far too wide smile, clearly trying to appear less nervous than she is. “Thank you Anthurium, I’m ready thanks to you.” She gives her friend a tight hug, being careful to not wake Jason. “Also, thank you for helping me set up this picnic too… as well as letting me do most of the work, with a little guidance. I just know it will be more special like this.” She takes the picnic basket, and the big box. Placing them into the cubby she normally uses for Nix. “I’ll let you know how things go.”
“I’m excited to hear about it.” Anthurium nods, running their hand through Jason’s hair. “If you do not mind, we’ll be staying here a little longer. I want to give Jason some time to wake back up, before we head home.”
Sola nods, turning the lights to the hab off to let Jason sleep. “You have all the time you need. I’ll see you later.” She leaves her hab, happily making her way towards the park by Nix’s hab. Once she gets there, Sola begins laying out the blanket. “Alright Nix, I know you can get here easily enough.” She sits down and leans against a cherry blossom tree that has white petals instead of pink, waiting for her date.
After a few minutes, Nix comes into view. Dressed in her salamander dress, with the belt that has Sola’s flower pattern as the design, around her waist. Her hair pulled back into a ponytail, alongside a new eyepatch that Pearl had made her, that has a small blue flower stitched into it.
Noticing Sola, Nix turns to see the entirely laid out picnic. Almost every one of her favorite snacks are on one side of the blanket, alongside a place for her to sit across from Sola on the other.
She slowly walks up, putting her cane and bags down first before finally addressing Sola. “Heeeey, sorry I’m a few minutes late. I kinda ended up getting a little panicked about my hair, couldn’t find a way to put it I liked, and wasted way too much time on it.” She chuckles, looking over Sola. Noticing a bunch of flower grafts that are now right where Nix normally rides along, as if they were to frame whoever was placed within. “But, you look great!”
Sola nods, patting down next to her. “You look amazing Nix, and thank you. I got Anthurium to help me with the look.” She does a little stretch, showing off some more flowers along her body. “I like your eyepatch, though I bet you are excited for your new flower. If I remember the group chat correctly, I believe you mentioned that it will be ready in three more days, right?”
“Yeah, they’re still growing it right now.” Nix crosses her legs, starting to tap along her cane anxiously. “Soooo how’s the rest of your week been? I know I kinda vanished on you after my appointment, I hope I didn’t make you worry too much. I just got really invested with a piece I started working on, and maaaaay have spent three days in my hab doing nothing but working on it.”
Sola shakes her head, smiling warmly at Nix. “It is ok, I understand, I wanted to give you some space after how… unintentionally intense, things got that day. I actually have been working on my watercolor painting. I took this time to just… paint what came to me when I thought about you. I was a little disheartened by seeing so many others with really fine details in their works, but looking at your painting, inspired me to just go with what felt right, and I think I found my own style.”
“That’s good, honestly I’ve found that focusing on theory rather than replicating what others can do, works the best for me.” Nix grabs one of the sandwiches, starting to snack on it given she’d accidentally skipped breakfast, due to how distracted she’d been this morning. “As for the overwhelming part of that visit, at least right now. Having experienced that is making ignoring your rhythm a cakewalk in comparison! So if anything you added another valuable tool to my belt!”
“That is good, I want to be able to hug you, and enjoy our time together, without needing to worry about things like that.” Sola chuckles, reaching out and rubbing Nix’s belt. “As much fun as it is having you be like jelly in my vines, I wouldn’t want to… get you like that unintentionally. I want you to be able to relax into that state willingly. I’m sorry if that sounds weird.” She sips a little of her tea, trying to calm down from her excitement of being with Nix again.
“No, that makes sense to me, my stubbornness has always been a part of the charm. It would be a crime to just throw it away.” Nix snickers, swooning back slightly. “But seriously, you’re the most considerate living being I’ve ever met, let alone affini. I bet if I talked to Cel about this, she’d say she wants to be able to get me deep down whenever.” She leans in giving Sola a side hug. “And that’s why you’re the best.”
Sola vines tighten rapidly, causing her to squeak as she gives Nix a hug back. "Thank you, and I am sure she would say something like that." She gently rolls a vine in circles along Nix's back. "So, aside from painting, how have you been feeling, emotionally? I've been worried about how you would do, nothing against it, but you always just… you really liked cuddling up when you need support, and that is partially me liking cuddling with you too." She smiles softly, despite the melancholy to her statement. "You are doing well though it seems."
“I fill the time pretty easily, and adjusting to being alone, and not having a rigid schedule, has been wonderful. I mean heck, I even slept in, a few of the days! I can’t even remember the last time I got to do that. Even with you, we were always really busy.” Nix wiggles around in the hug. “I’ve mostly been preparing myself to go back to Dinaea for my next appointment, but the worst of what I was dealing with has been kept at bay by my xenodrug regime. Like it’s all still there, but there’s this blanket of separation I’m provided with, that helps me face it better.”
Sola nods, giving Nix a gentle squeeze. "I'm happy you are dealing with it well. I am sorry for the schedule with you, on top of getting you physically in tip top shape, you… well were incredibly depressed, or seemed like it. By my research it seemed like a structured schedule, does well in those cases. Sorry if it was a bit much, I should have given more break days."
“Oh no, I was incredibly depressed!” Nix shakes her head, laughing at how plainly she can just say that. “Luckily I had a good friend to pull me out of it, like I’ve said before. I doubt many other affini would have been able to, or wanted to, get me here!” She gestures out over the park. “You took my desires, and focused on them, building me up, and allowing me to have a chance to achieve independence. I've sat down, and read the actual treaty at this point, and you very well could have just told me I was yours, and that was that… but you didn’t. I think that says a lot about the kind of affini you are.”
Sola shudders, and hugs Nix tighter. "Thank you. If you fit into a danger to yourself or others, I would snatch you up right away… but, you wanted to go for this, and I want you to have what you want, and need. I think that if you are domesticated, you will be happier if you decide for yourself to do it. That is why I'll admittedly still give it a shot from time to time. But beyond that, I don't want to step on the independence that you've earned either." She sighs, her form shuddering in embarrassment. "Sorry if I am pouring my insides out… that is the terran saying, right?" Sola playfully smirks.
“It’s pouring your heart out, but you’ve got it close enough.” Nix grabs her drink, starting to sip from it. “So how have you, and Cel, been doing, I know Celosia has been reminding me every day about your harmonization practice.”
Sola squeaks, and nods. “W-well, I've started to really enjoy being around her… Everyone is telling me it is helping me be more confident about… going for what I want… and you already know what that is.” She nuzzles Nix lightly. “It is really… odd to experience. As you could probably guess from the first time, we kind of… meet in the middle as we balance one another, and encourage each other. I pull her back from some intensity, while she pulls me forward. While maintaining it we are still ourselves, but… I guess we can understand each other better through it.”
“Well I’m glad that’s working out for you, I’m not as keen on the whole. ‘Take what you want’ angle, but honestly you all consider us a pet species, so there’s a whole lot of… stuff to unpack there.” Nix shakes her head, grabbing some of the chips, and starting to snack on them. “Honestly, the more I read about the rights an owner would be given, the more anxious about considering it I become.”
Sola raises an eyebrow, frowning at the thought that Nix is scaring herself with things she doesn't understand. “I understand, do you have any questions? I may not be the best to answer some of them, but I’d like to think I can word them in a way that you would find satisfying.” She sips some tea, happy with how the picnic is turning out so far. And hoping to make Nix feel safer with Domestication. “There may even be a few where they seem scary or such at first, but when talked about they are not nearly as bad as they seem.”
“Really? The fact that I lose what little autonomy I have left, like the lack of influence on the government, I don’t really care about that. Living in the terran accord beat that one out of me, but everything about florets is so condescending. I like being, if not equals, at least able to step up against you, or any other affini, if I get uncomfortable. I’d be throwing all of that away, and for the mere promise that my benevolent owner will be there to insure I’m not uncomfortable, and that doesn’t mean they’ll stand up for me. It just means that they will ‘fix’ the problem. Which from what I can tell, the answer is just more xenodrugs for a majority of affini.” Nix flops back, tossing a few more chips into her mouth, as she looks up at Sola. “Now I do believe you wouldn’t do that, but on the whole it’s a very… intimidating set of rules. Let alone what they listed would have happened if I’d been found to be a danger to others.”
“Well, autonomy is very much a thing between the floret their affini, and before anything happens there is of course a contract that must be filled out, so that if it's consensual both parties can make their own requests.” Sola smiles softly, gently patting Nix on the head. “While not the majority, there are a notable number of florets that have minimal drug use stipulations in their contract for a multitude of reasons. In ensuring that you are not uncomfortable, there are many ways to achieve that, such as with myself, though you know my style on that front. As for the danger to others… mandatory drugs would be a tool to maintain safe control, but really, it depends on how well a floret in that situation responds to their affini’s various actions.” She brushes her hand Nix’s hair. “I’m sorry, I didn’t really realize how big this was for you, I’m trying my best to understand, and I do get it, but, culture is different for everyone, some things are not immediately obvious.”
Nix shakes her head, trying not to focus too much on the deeper questions she has. Knowing in her gut, that while everything Sola said could actually function that way, the way things are worded make it so easy for an affini to rig the game. “Well when I was let go, that’s when it started mattering. After all, if I’d not been released, I’d just be at your whim in regards to my treatment. If you genuinely believed something I didn’t want in the slightest, needs to be done, I would be left with no choice. And when Cel started flirting, I started looking into it more, because she feels like the type of affini who would use the rules to play around me like that, and that led to me finding out just how easy it would be.”
Sola nods simply holding Nix to help her feel secure. “If it would mean anything, outside of legitimate medical needs, I would restrict all of my xenodrug usage, unless you asked for some recreational ones. You've proven to be very sensitive to them. Especially class A's.” She squeezes Nix gently. “I would take your wishes deeply into account, and try to use as many other options as there are available, before resorting to something you did not want. As for rigging, I know a good number go after various obscure portions of the treaty, to convince sophonts to sign up. It kind of comes down to how important florets are in our greater culture. The use of florets actually goes all the way back to before our species evolved the ability to freely move.”
Nix raises her eyebrow. “Well that at least answers one of my many questions, I’ve been trying to figure out why you’d all do all of this, but the answer simply being that you’ve always collected cute pets, just makes way too much sense.” She chuckles, shaking her head. “Sooooo, before I ruin our date, by stressing both of us out. I was promised a game! I wanna seeeeee.”
Sola's vines bunch up into a blush. “Well, I may have made some of my requests for the game rules when I was… I guess we could say under the influence of Cel, so if you don’t like those we don’t have to use them.” She begins opening the game box to show the intricate board, and pieces. “I… requested it as a way for if you wanted to be mine, but not wanting to saaay it.” She shudders. “Especially with your reservations we can completely ignore that rule, as I am sure it is still fun at its core.” She wiggles a little bit, releasing Nix from her grasp and looking away. “It really is up to you, and if you don’t like the premise of what brought this to be made, I can get us another one.”
Nix takes a token that looks exactly like the doll of her that Pearl had made. Twirling it around in her fingers. “Hey, don’t act like this was anyone's idea other than my own, sure you requested the board game, but I’m the one who declared you two coming after me, as a game in the first place. I’m sure the rules won't be too horrible.”
Nix lays out the map, it’s designed to look like a mountain with two sides. The left side of the mountain leads down towards a mass of vines with red flowers reminiscent of Celiosia’s. The pathway ends in a domestication center, while on the right side of the board there’s an opposing set of vines with Sola’s oranges and yellows of all different shapes and sizes. Leading to of course a different domestication center.
“Well this is a little on the nose, but this was made by Jason I’m assuming, so that tracks.” Nix chuckles a bit putting her piece down on the board, looking over at the two sets of cards.
One set is covered in blue flowers, while the other is covered with red and orange flowers. Grabbing one of the blue cards, she flips it over, looking at the text.
‘Move 3 places back towards the middle! You did it!’ Alongside this there’s a cute picture of a chibi Nix posing victoriously.
“Okaaay, I guess this is what I draw when I win… something?” Nix grabs one of the yellow and red cards, flipping it over to look at what the text for this one says.
‘Move 4 spaces down any side! You can switch sides, but not return up the mountain cutie!’ Alongside the message, this time the chibi Nix is being cradled in vines that look like a mix of Sola’s and Celosia’s.
“And that has to be for if I ‘lose’ a round.” Nix puts the two cards back into place. Trying not to assume that the loss cards are always going to be more than the win cards, as she finally starts to look into the instructions.
Welcome to Falling Petals! The one and only board game exclusively made to assist in the domestication of Nix Ave! In this game your goal is going to be staying on the top of the mountain. (Or rushing to the bottom cutie!)
Every day you will draw one card! How you decide what card you get is based on three criteria! 1. Did you take care of all of your daily self care? 2. To do so did you need Sola or Cel’s help? 3. Do you feel lonely? Tallying up all three for the day will decide what card you pull! There’s super surprise spots on either side, if you land on a flower you have to draw double of whatever card you get!
Nix starts giggling at the game, it’s so obviously rigged with a very particular agenda. But on the other hand, all the art for it is absolutely adorable, and she is under no real obligation to do anything after it ends.
Remembering Jason’s involvement, she flips to the final page of the booklet. Looking at the win and lose ‘rewards’.
If you stay at the tippy top of the board by the time all of the cards run out, Congratulations, you’re the most independent cutie we’ve ever seen! You’re such a good girl for taking so good care of yourself!
If you go the the bottom, YOU WIN! You get to go and have the two most lovely mistresses in the universe take care of you, make sure you thank Miss Anthurium for helping put this game together for you! And maybe come hang out with Jason. I miss youuuuuu.
“Yeah, yeah this is about what I figured they’d make the rules.” Nix shakes her head, a wide grin on her face. “Jason really can’t help himself, when it comes to making games he knows I can’t win.”
Sola smiles, and nods. “Like I said, I won’t hold you to the… win scenario if you don’t want it. But like… if you do want to go fully by it, either way it could be fun.” She chuckles. “Also, this is the first time I’m actually looking at the results of my requests… with Cel also putting in some ideas. Honestly I was worried the random set of just… things, wouldn’t be able to be broken down into a game in the first place. So seeing the end result is amazing.”
“Anything can be a game, if you give it a little thought.” Nix places her piece down, starting to look around the rest of the box to see if there’s any other pieces for the game.
She grabs a box labeled winner, flipping it open to reveal two much larger Sola and Celosia pieces. “There we go, I thought something was missing.”
Nix gently places each piece at their respective sides of the board. “I get that you two are going to try to work together, so I’ll have going down, work like this. If Cel causes me to take a red card, I’ll go on her side, if you cause me to take one I’ll go on yours, then whoever I reach at the bottom… even if I don’t get domesticated. Gets one free ‘convince me’ night. That sound fair to you?”
Sola nods eagerly. “That sounds fair!” Her vines rub Nix’s back some more. “And, if you want I can get some documents and history of domestication, to help you understand our culture more regarding this. I’ve been doing my best to look at terran culture… although honestly, I’ve felt like it has been a bit of a struggle, having to go and get what at this point is ancient history texts… whichever ones terran corporations haven’t damaged, or altered drastically, being few and far between.”
“I’d appreciate it honestly.” Nix takes a picture of the fully set up game board. Sending it off to FloretFinder, and to PearlLilly, before starting to pack it back up. “But for now let’s get everything cleaned up. Then we can go back to my apartment, and focus on art!”
Sola smiles, and helps Nix with the board game, before folding the cloth and packing it away along with the couple of the uneaten dishes she brought. “I’m really excited to show off, and then just getting to spend time painting with you will be a blast.”
“Heck yeah, let's get going.” Nix puts her bag back on, putting her water bottle away, as she stands up using her cane. “While I’m not that tired, being out in public is really starting to take its toll.”
“I know, I picked this park because it is close to your hab, and I knew this spot would be fairly out of sight. One thing I easily noticed with you, was that you don’t like being in the public eye at all. I just wanted to have a fun little picnic to start us off honestly.”
“Yeah, even now it feels like eyes are barreling into me from all sides.” Nix shudders, starting to lead the way back to her hab. Feeling a bit weird having Sola around and actually leading the way instead of following her.