Celosia and Sola are seated on the opposite side of the operating room. Behind a small wall to give Nem the needed amount of privacy for the work.
Eventually Celosia looks over at Sola. Flashing her new friend a weary smile, while this is assuredly what both of them wanted. She also understood that Sola likely wanted to be the one to break Nix’s will. "So… how are you actually holding up? Our precious petal is asleep. You can speak freely."
Sola looks down, almost appearing to wilt. “I don’t know, Nix is my first floret, I was really… looking forward to having her all to myself.” She smiles weakly, up at Celosia. “Yet, I know she, despite winning her case, I knew deep down that Nix needed to be domesticated. I tried my best, but I was just too soft because I didn’t want to… hurt her? I don’t know. Then you come in, apply just the smallest bit of pressure, and it is like…bam, Nix crumbles.”
"I wouldn't say it was the smallest. Almost everything I did was planned out to appeal to Nix." Celosia reaches over, pulling Sola into a hug. Intertwining their vines together. "I was also simply told what to do, Pearl's recommendation was taken into account… and when I realized what needed to be done, I knew I needed to do it myself." She smiles softly at Sola. Not wanting to hurt her new companion, but knowing this is an important lesson for her to learn. "Sola I need you to be honest with me, when I was breaking Nix's walls down. She was crying, scared, struggling to accept her needs, and I had to let her, in order for her to take that step herself. Could you have looked at that, and kept pushing, knowing that you know better, that she needs it to happen, without backpedaling? Without apologizing, and giving Nix all of the leeway she would need, to retreat into her walls yet again?"
Sola’s form shudders, before going perfectly still, she shakes her head. “No… I would break down, and give her space. It took so much and only with the… aid of having recently harmonized and spoken with you, that I was able to push hard enough to insist that we follow the full rules of the game. That is what… rips me up inside the most. How can I be a good owner, if I can’t push through to have Nix do something hard, that I know is good for her.”
“With help.” Celosia pulls Sola’s head over to the glass. Gesturing towards Nix’s currently sleeping form. “I do believe that you are capable of taking care of her, you’ve shown that fact repeatedly during your time with her, during her initial recovery. But she was a feral, and you didn’t know how to handle that. Your strategies were all perfect for if she was a volunteer, but that’s not Nix. She’d been damaged by her time on the Free Spirit, to the point where she craves safety, and control, but due to her imprisonment tries to run from her needs.” She slowly pulls away from Sola, looking down slightly as her form tightens back up. “It’s why I’ve been so interested in her domestication. I saw a scared little lizard, who couldn’t allow herself to be cared for due to that fear, so I started chasing her. I saw where your attempts failed, and I made sure I would not, because for the first time in many years, I actually cared that deeply about a sophont.”
Sola stares out at Nix, squeezing Celosia’s vines as she slowly turns her head, looking at her partner. “I love Nix, so deeply. And… thank you for loving her as well… for loving her enough to put up with my weaknesses.” She whimpers, leaning into Celosia. “Thank you for… caring about my feelings enough to work towards such a new situation to keep me involved, even with you having the full capability to just… take Nix for yourself, leaving me to try and find someone else.”
“Sola, I was never going to be able to take Nix from you.” Celosia’s words are slow and quiet, as if she’s unsure she’s even comfortable admitting this. “I wouldn’t betray your trust, or any of our friends, simply for the pleasure of having a floret I can genuinely connect with. I saw your messages every night, I would read through all of your ideas for what to do with her, if she had to become a floret.” She gently rubs Sola’s hand, her entire body shuddering and shaking. “So when she was let free, even with the provision of being under constant checkups which was intended to be a subtle way of getting her domesticated either way, without harming her mentally, I knew I had to help you both. I… honestly expected to have you send me away, and do it yourself, after my first try. But instead you accepted my desires. You prioritized the possibility that I could actually make Nix happy, and that’s what you wanted more than anything. It was such a surprise, and I’m glad you did.”
Sola chuckles a little bit. “Honestly, I want what is best for Nix, and what would make her happy. If it were to not be me, I would give up, and let her be happy. If she genuinely would have been the happiest, and healthiest, not being domesticated. I would have been perfectly fine being just a friend… I know this is what she needs, and there is a bit of me that is really happy to know I am not alone helping her.” She nuzzles Celosia gently. “Nix is independent enough that I do think we can both continue doing the jobs we enjoy, while she is able to do what she enjoys, without us… While at the same time, with two of us, we can split duties really easily. Beyond that… our harmonizing… synching up and talking at nights. I’ve grown to care about you as more than just a friend, or a coworker. I… am starting to love you Celly, in the same way I do Nix, I just… have a hard time externalizing my emotions, because I'm always afraid of hurting someone else's feelings.”
Celosia smiles, leaning into Sola’s side as they both look over Nix. Feeling her and Sola’s rhythms, starting to drift closer to one another naturally as they sit there, neither party having to focus on it as they quietly harmonize together. Waiting for their precious floret to be returned to them. “I feel similarly, but please promise me that you will never call me Celly, in front of anyone.” She laughs lightly to herself, pressing her head against Sola’s.
Nem walks out of the operating room, smiling softly at the pair. “Good news you two, everything went exactly as expected. Nix is over there, still asleep, she should start to ‘wake up’ in another hour. So you’ve got enough time to get her home, and turn the lights down. I’ve already sent instructions on her care, to both of your datapads.”
Sola grins, squeezing Celosia a little bit. “Thank you Nem.” She looks at Cel before drifting back to Nem. “I do have… one question. I’ve noticed that Nix would never really fall into a hypnotic trance by looking into my eyes, part of it being that Nix doesn’t look at eyes much, but I know I have looked into her eyes long enough that she should have been affected, even if resistant. Would you happen to have a theory as to why that is? I am just curious.”
“It could be because of her reduced depth perception, due to only having one eye, and then combining that if at a distance your eyes would be too fuzzy, in her vision to have their normal effects. It should have started working whenever she’s in her glasses.” Nem nods to themselves, leading Sola and Celosia over to Nix.
Nix’s face has a brand new flower, while looking similar to the first. This one doesn’t have a vine that rolls up and over her head, instead going through her body to connect more deeply to the spinal implant. Her other eye is covered with a patch, to make sure if she wakes up early, she won’t have to worry about being in a room with too much light.
“I can agree with Nem, I actually had her look into my eye last night, while she was wearing her glasses. She did get at least slightly dazed.” Celosia nods, leaning down and picking Nix up as gently as possible. Starting to move her limbs to help Nix curl up, to be deposited in Sola’s chest next to her stuffed salamander.
Sola once Nix is tucked comfortably into her cubby, closes up her chest a little more than normal, blocking out light from getting through. “Thank you, I was worried about that.” She smiles. “We will see you around Nem, and if more comes up with Nix’s eyes, we will be requesting you for sure.” She stands up and after some pleasantries, begins to leave with Celosia. “I think we are going to need a bigger bed, while Nix got an affini sized one, it will still be cramped with all three of us on it.”
“Agreed, we will have quite the undertaking to consolidate what all of us need in a hab.” Celosia walks next to Sola, using her cloak to assist in blocking out the light. “We’ll figure it out together though. For now we need to prepare for the day Nix gets back to being fully coherent. I have an idea on how to make her contract signing feel special to her. After all, our little lizard deserves the best.”
Sola smiles, leaning into Celosia. “That she does, and I want her to have the best and most special experiences ever. With how scared she was… and I think deep down she will be for a while, making things special is going to be so much more important.” She feels her rhythm quietly thrum in tune with Celosia. Embracing the feeling without bringing it up. “What is it you have in mind?”
“Well I was imagining making a little movie for our precious Nix, having Pearl and Jason help with the ‘acting’ and tell her their story.” Celosia laughs to herself. “I remember Nix bailing on going to movie night the first time, so surprising her with a super special movie, as an introduction to affini movies, sounds perfect to me.”
Sola fights to stop her vines from rustling, not wanting to disturb Nix in the slightest, but immensely happy with Celosia’s idea. “Well it will be a very rushed production, but we could set it up as a bunch of interviews, Nix getting to hear all of her friends' opinions of her. Being supportive and recounting how she’s changed, since she arrived.”
“Exactly, while I would love to see a movie about Nix’s perception of her experiences. I’d rather have our floret be the star of that one, and I don’t think we’re quite there yet.” After a few minutes, they arrive at the entrance to their hab. Celosia quickly opens the front door, starting to adjust the entire habs lighting. Shifting it down, to be as dim as is needed to be safe for Nix.
Sola meanwhile goes to the bedroom, and opens up her cubby, carefully extracting Nix, and setting her on the bed. Once in, she gently removes the eyepatch, setting it down on the nightstand. Sola double checks the lights, before taking a seat and leaning back, looking over the bed and their floret, keeping watch just in case anything happens.
As Sola carefully hovers over Nix. The floret slowly rolls over onto her side, nestling into the plushy that had been placed into her arms.
This silence lasts for an hour, Celosia staying in the living room, and preparing a meal safe for Nix to eat once she's awake.
Suddenly, Nix’s eye starts just barely drifting open. Her eye now a black slit with a blue exterior, she opens and closes her mouth several times. Clearly enjoying the feeling of it moving, not even becoming aware enough, to look over and address her affini. Who she can only barely tell is here, thanks to the gentle rhythm that's permitting her mind. Giving her vision is currently nothing more than gently flowing colors, the lights being turned this low, keeping the color from overwhelming her.
Sola smiles and moves to pick Nix up, keeping her plush near as well. “Hello Nix, I’m glad you are up. I bet Mistress Celosia has a nice meal ready for you.” She gently rocks Nix, beginning to move through their hab. “Your eye and flower are beautiful, I can hardly wait to see the whole set of body mods together. Our cute little lizard.”
Nix immediately starts wiggling around, as she’s pulled up into Sola’s waiting vines. Colors starting to crackle and pop across her vision in time with the vines movements, causing her to take her only recourse, letting out a desperate squeak. Immediately being rewarded with the feeling of Sola’s hand, running up and down her cheek, lulling her back down into relaxation.
“Sorry sweetie, I’ll try to move slower, I didn’t realize your vision would be that sensitive to movement too.” Sola brushes Nix’s cheek and hair, slowly carrying her into the kitchen and to the affini sized portion of the dining room counter. “Hey Celly, guess who is up.” She keeps rubbing Nix’s cheeks and neck, letting her vines wiggle up the back of Nix’s neck particularly.
Celosia turns around, placing two nutrient mixtures down onto the table, alongside a very plain pasta. Having made sure it would be something Nix enjoys without being overwhelming for the girl to be fed. “You’re lucky that she’s absolutely out of it right now.” She gently places her hand over Nix’s eye. “Now let’s get our Petal fed and back in bed, she must be quite overstimulated.”
“I was under the impression that she just needed the lights low.” Sola pets Nix a little more, starting to get the pasta onto a fork, using her vines to move Nix’s mouth through the eating process. “There we go, just let mistresses do all the work. Such a good lizard girl you are.”
“I assume that for most sophonts it would be so, but with how sensitive she is to noises, and lights, along with how her vision works changing significantly. She’s probably very confused.” Celosia gently places a straw into Nix’s mouth, watching as she starts to take miniscule sips. Watching how Nix fiddles with the plushy in her arms. “It’s absolutely precious how calm she’s staying even through it though.” She leans into Nix’s ear. “We’re very proud of you Nixy, you’re such a good girl.”
Sola giggles a little at Nix’s little squirms. “Such a big girl. I am sorry for taking your eyepatch off too soon. Once you are done eating, we will just lay down and cuddle, and we will keep the room dark too.” She gradually passes on the feeding to Celosia, while she herself works Nix’s jaw, and keeps her upright. “Such a good and calm girl.”
As she’s fed, if it ever takes too long for a bite to be provided Nix lets out a little squeak. Celosia quickly providing another mouth full for her. “And talkative at that, I might wanna give you some class W’s when you’re more clear headed, just to have the pleasure of hearing more of these little squeaks.”
“I know right? Nixy has always been very reserved about various xenodrugs, but I think between the friends she made, and now being our little cutie, we can guide her comfortably through various classes and doses.” Sola’s vines wiggle, and rub Nix’s back. “I bet you would love being all helpless, and cuddly. I’ve also read that lizards like to sunbathe, which I’m sure having a cute doll and another cute friend would help you enjoy it more.”
Celosia starts putting away the dishes from the group’s meals, watching Nix writhe in Sola’s vines. Simply letting her partner look after Nix. While she cleans everything up, forcing herself to get it done, knowing that the two of them are going to spend the rest of the day loving on their floret, and not be ready for when Nix regains consciousness, if she doesn’t. “I’m going to message Anthurium, and Resin, once you two are in the bedroom, so I can get the movie ready in time. After all if I don’t we’ll both just snuggle Nix until she’s responsive, and then likely longer after that.”
“You are right there, thank you.” Sola slowly stands up, holding Nix as closely as possible, laying a vine over her eye while she makes her way back to the bedroom. Once inside, Sola turns the lights fully off laying down, keeping Nix in the center of the bed with little pets, as well as making sure the ‘Nix’ plush is cuddled up too.
Celosia walks into the Cyber Cafe, her form wound just as tight as it used to be as she goes up to the front counter. Seeing Jason smiling and humming to himself, quietly playing a board game against himself while he waits for more guests to arrive.
“Hello there Jason, how’re you doing little one?” Celosia smiles softly, leaning down in front of Jason. Not as familiar with this one of her friends' wards, but trying to make a more positive impression now that she’s going to be Nix’s owner.
Jason smiles up at Celosia “I’m doing fine Miss Cel, how are you?” He motions across the board to a seat. “Please, sit down, my mistress will be back in just a moment.” He wiggles a little bit “If it is ok, how is Nix doing? I haven’t heard anything since we gave Sola the game, has it been fun?”
Celosia laughs to herself, sitting down next to the boy starting to gently pet him, while she looks over the game board. “I’m sorry we’ve not kept you properly updated, but the game is actually already over. Nix lost to me, and we are getting her domesticated.” She gently pulls her datapad out of her chest, pulling up several pictures of Nix, in her new collar, and dressed up in Celosia’s companion dress. “This was thanks to her new girlfriend, giving me some advice.”
Jason smiles and looks over the pictures, before wincing. “So, even with us helping set her up, Miss Sola couldn’t push through? I was… really worried about her not being able to be forceful enough with Nix. Miss Sola is so nice and kind… I feel a little bad that she lost.”
“Do not worry, I have no intention of stealing Nix away from Sola.” Celosia takes a breath, her vines rustling as she looks over the images. “We are going to both be Nix’s caretakers, but you are right, she was unable to be forceful enough. I had a conversation with her about it, and I’m going to be helping her with that half of Nix’s domestication.” She flips over to a picture of the completed board game. “She did actually manage to push the domestication rule to be final for Nix. Thanks to you confiding in her about your worries, and thanks to Pearl I set up a day that walked Nix all the way down the mountain, while still giving her a way out every step of the way.”
Jason lets out a breath, and relaxes. “That is good, I didn’t want Nix doing… something stupid. I don’t think she was quite as bad as I was, but she had that perfect blend of the old Pearl and the old me that… I really didn’t think it would have been good to be left alone.”
“I couldn’t agree more, and that’s why I’m here. I wanted to have you and Pearl help me record a mini movie, something to both help sell Nix on domestication, now that it’s something she knows is happening. As well as just helping her self image.” Celosia flips over to her DMs with Sola. Showing off several images of Nix asleep, curled up in Sola’s vines with her brand new flower eye prominently displayed. “She’s recovering from her new eye implantation right now, so we’ve got about a day and a half to record it.”
“I would have preferred to have a little more time, but I think we can record enough that it will be a fun home video. I’ll call Pearl right up! We can brainstorm some stuff that we both would have wanted to hear early on from other florets, and you can talk with our mistresses to get it all worked out on that end!” Jason begins typing out a few ideas he has before sending a message to Pearl.
“I would have also preferred more time, but I also believe Nix will respond to a more simple ‘home video’ as you put it.” Celosia nods, letting Jason busy himself with messaging Pearl. She looks over at the back room and notices Anthurium as she walks out, holding a meal and bringing it over to one of the groups seated on the other side of the cafe.
BoardPainter: Hey Pearl, Miss Cel is here, and is asking for us to help with making a movie to comfort Nix about becoming a floret!
PearlLilly: Wow, she’s really efficient isn’t she. I swear I just told her what Nix wants last night!
BoardPainter: Yeah she is! Also Miss Cel and Miss Sola are going fully into the shared floret joint owner thing. So Miss Sola isn’t going to be left out either! It is really great!
PearlLilly: That’s such a relief, I’d feel really bad if I caused Sola to lose Nix because I tried to help. Sooooo, what’s up with the whole movie thing? Is it going to be just describing our daily lives?
PearlLilly: OH OH OH, I’m Nix’s girlfriend now! Like for real, not just crushing! I did it!/srs
BoardPainter: NICE You two look adorable together, so I’m excited to see more of my best friends! Also the movie is gonna be us talking about what we would have wanted to hear from other florets, when we were first made ones. Then us showing off a few things for fun. I’m thinking we describe how it feels to be on certain xenodrugs, maybe have like, ‘Day in the life of a Floret’ as the title if that helps inspire you?
PearlLilly: That does sound like a lot of fun! Alright, I’ll go start talking to my Mixtress, about having our hab ready to record, when you all get here! We even just finished the plushy for Miss Celosia, so we can use that in the movie!
Jason grins and looks up to Celosia. “Miss Cel, we are all set to start our home movie. Pearl, and Resin, are setting up to record. Also we will be use the you plushie in the movie, that way you can gift Nix the movie, and the plushie together, and have it be a big part.” He cleans up his game, entirely stuck in his head, as he confidently holds his arms up to Celosia waiting to be picked up. “Come on, let's go get Mistress Anthurium.”
Anthurium looks down at Jason, having been standing behind him the entire time he was absorbed with his conversation.
Celosia simply points behind Jason, letting the floret turn around and recognize his owner is right there. An absolutely delighted expression on her face.
“Now Jason, we can’t just abandon the cafe in the middle of the day.” Anthurium gently picks Jason up, pulling him in against her chest. “But I can call some help to see if there’s someone willing to fill in for us. You go with Cel, and get started on the movie. I'll be there just as soon as we slow down enough for me to close, or when a replacement arrives, okay?”
Jason blushes but smiles. “Thank you Mistress, and sorry for not thinking about that. We will start off with the just me and Pearl recordings. I hope to see you soon!” He hugs Anthurium as hard as he can, before looking back at Celosia. “Come on, we should hurry so we have as much time as possible to do this!”
Celosia nods, gently plucking Jason out of Anthuriums vines. “I promise I’ll take good care of him. See you soon, Anthurium.” She gives a little wave, walking out of the caffe and heading towards Resin’s hab unit. “Now Jason, why don’t you do the camera work for Pearl’s half, then Pearl will do it for yours, then I can do it for the part where you two are both being cuties with your owners.”
“That sounds like a fantastic idea Miss Cel! That can also give me more ideas for what I should do during my own part.” Jason playfully curls up in Celosia’s grasp. “So, you got to give Nix her domestication. How did you do it? Oh, did you shuffle the cards in a special way?” Jason playfully winks at Celosia.
“Yes, I shuffled the cards to dance down the flowers towards the end of the road. Then I started things off with simple appealing ‘and’ ideas, stuff like taking a bath, she accepted the and on the first two, and that got her on to the ones she’d find more scary. Which led to her refusing, going down further and further, finally I let her not do one and pull another, and that was the ‘floret’ card. I declared enough spaces to get her into the domestication center, and she couldn't bring herself to ask me politely not to go down.” Celosia’s form rustles in satisfaction during her explanation, starting to gently scratch under Jason’s chin. “Watching her give in to her needs was exhilarating, and I’m betting someone did a lot of work, in order to make this game very easy for someone to rig like that, didn’t he?”
Jason practically purrs and nods. “Yeah, Mistress and I went a number of rounds in a row, making sure it worked fine under ‘fair’ rules, and under a ‘flower to flower’ set. We had to make sure everything worked just fine. I made a few guesses into Nix to determine step count to task ‘difficulty’, and I think I got it pretty good.”
“You got the difficulty perfect, Petal.” Celosia nods to herself, continuing to gently pet Jason during their walk. “I believe we will use the game more in the future, to really work out Nix’s issues with forcing herself not to depend on others.”
After a few more minutes the pair arrive at Resin’s hab. The door slides open to reveal that the entire thing had been moved around, a massive pile of plushies sitting in one corner, the couch moved to be seated in front of one of the windows out into space. The kitchen was set up in case they decided to do a cooking segment.
Pearl is of course seated on top of her pile of plush. A distant smile on her face, as Resin rushes around the hab setting everything up in advance. “Hello! Pearl got a little worked up about everything being ‘perfect’ for this movie of yours, so she’s having some quiet time right now. What do you think of the set?”
“I think it is fantastic! We can make something Nix will absolutely love!” Jason looks up at Cel and gets let down so he can inspect it a little more, before sitting next to Pearl, and just kind of talking at her with his ideas. Occasionally he would rub Pearl’s back, making little circles between her shoulder blades.
Resin and Celosia continue to prepare the hab for another few minutes. Getting a camera out and setting it up facing the couch, starting to grab a few of Pearl’s favorite plushes, and placing them down. A full sized beeple, a new one that’s a small blue lizard, a massive plush lilly, lining the couch with the set to give it more character.
“Alright you two! We’ve got everything set up for the first recording, we’ll have Pearl go first, and then Anthurium will be bringing a few things that remind her of you Jason so we can decorate your backdrop to better represent you.” Resin grins, walking over and picking Pearl up, giving her a little prick on the thigh, flushing the class M’s from her florets system.
Pearl shudders, and slowly stretches. “Thank you Mixtress, and I love your ideas Jason! We are going to give Nix all the support and love she could want, and then some!” She giggles a little bit. “All in all, I’m excited to give Nix examples of how being a floret doesn’t do anything but improve life.”
“And I’m very excited to hear what you have to say.” Resin starts to brush Pearl’s hair, bringing her over and setting her down in front of the camera. “Are there any particular stories that you’re excited to get out there for your new girlfriend?”
“Of course, I’m going to start with talking about…” Pearl looks over at Jason, giving him a little nod, before turning back to Resin. An incredibly anxious expression on her face as she looks up at her owner, unsure if Resin would even be comfortable with this idea. “Jason thinks it would be good to talk about how we were domesticated. With mini ‘recreations’ of before and after.”
Resin frowns, taking a moment before nodding to itself. “Alright.” It leans in, planting an incredibly gentle kiss onto Pearl’s forehead. “If you believe you’re ready to talk about it like this, I’m so proud of you. I’ll give you the memories back, but only until the cameras are off, if you ever get overwhelmed I’ll pull you back to us.”
Pearl bites her lip, shuddering at mention the blank spot in her memories. The worst thing she’d ever done, the reason she was banned from lying to anyone, ever. “Thank you Mixtress, I just really want Nix to… know who I am. I don’t wanna hide any part of me from her, even if it’s a part I myself am not ready to keep.”
Resin nods, gesturing for Jason to come over. Having Celosia pick the boy up, holding him in the lap as she acts as a chair. Giving him the ability to control her to get the best angle for the shot.
“Okay, I’ll give those memories when it’s time, but for now. Just tell your lovely girlfriend about how much she’s changed since you first met her, okay?” Resin slowly backs out of frame, keeping a calm warm smile on its face as it does.
Pearl turns her head to look in the camera, getting a thumbs up from Jason. She takes one last deep breath, as she pulls a small smile onto her face. “Hey Nix, I know this is a kinda awkward way to tell you this story but-” She reaches over, grabbing the beeple plush off of the couch. “The first time you visited us at our shop, seeing you hide behind your lizard plush, curled up in Sola’s chest. It reminded me of a precious beeple I’d met, then I got a look into your eye…”
Pearl sighs, gently petting the plush. Barely maintaining eye contact with the camera as she goes into thought for a moment. “You looked so scared, scared and riddled with more guilt than you should ever have to shoulder on your own.” She chuckles a bit to herself. “That’s why I was happy to see you were with Miss Sola, she’d help you. Make you feel better about yourself, and being around people.”
Pearl’s expression becomes distant, just for a moment. Her mouth opens but no words come out. “It reminded me of someone else, someone quiet, who was scared… hurt.” She winces, her chest tightening. “And ever sense, I’ve just wanted to run and give you the biggest hug. To tell you it’s okay to trust, to let yourself be cared about, because that’s what I needed to hear when I arrived.”
Pearl starts laughing lightly, it’s slow and pained but she has a smile nonetheless. “You on the whole are a lot sweeter than I was, more open to the baseline trust that I couldn’t give, but looking at you I saw it. The gears in your head telling you to play the long con, to trick your way into ‘freedom’ because that’s what you need.”
She sniffles, rubbing her eyes to stop tears from leaking out. “But it’s not, it’s not what any of us need, not really. When you’ve been hurt in ways like the cosmic navy did, you need all the care you can get.” She chokes out a little sob. “Hearing that you have blood on your hands, all I could think of is how much it must hurt, how much you must blame yourself.”
Taking deep breaths, she pauses for a moment, holding her hand out to keep Resin from swooping in to comfort her. “But I just want you to know, I don’t blame you. You were scared, and I know what it’s like to be scared for your life. You will do incredibly visrally stupid things, things you can’t take back.” She bites her lip, taking a breath as a torrent of emotions normally suppressed by her implant crash through her system.
“That’s why you need to trust your affini, to let them take that pain away from you.” Pearl looks over at Resin, giving her it a little nod. Barely having two seconds before Resin is wrapped around her fully, vines cradling Pearl like she is the most important thing in the universe. “Trust them to care, to forgive, and to help you become better.” She chokes on her words at the end, taking one last deep breath. “I love you Nix.”
After a moment Jason stops the recording, frowning slightly as he looks over the recording, hoping that it wasn't going to need to be something done in multiple takes.
After a few minutes Celosia gives a satisfied nod. Patting Jason’s head, as she looks over at Pearl who's mostly calmed down. "You did a great job Pearl, now do you wanna do the next part? Or do you need some more time."
Pearl takes a breath, looking up at Resin. "Yeah, I think I'm ready, we just need to give Mixtress a minute to give me the memories that I need for the next part." Despite how simple she tries to make it sound, everyone can hear the uncertainty and fear in the girl's voice.
Jason feels his heart clinch at the mention. Struggling with the idea of actually talking about this without his owner around.
Resin simply quietly plucks Pearl off of the couch. Walking over to the plushy mountain and placing her down in it. "Alright, I'll be right back with your memories. You just enjoy your time calming down."
Resin walks through the pair's bedroom, walking up to the book shelf. Moving a few of them to the side, and pulling out a small doll. One based on Isaac, a hole in the shirt where he’d been shot.
Resin's leaves rustle as she looks at the doll. Her chest tightening at the thought of giving this back to Pearl once again. Taking a moment to consider if she should forbid it.
Painfully slowly she walks back out into the living room. Looking down at Pearl, seeing the girl smiling and showing Jason pictures she'd taken of her and Nix while they were cuddling on their date. "Alright… it's time, if you respond well after you can keep them, but as always I'll have final say."
Resin kneels down, gently placing the doll into Pearl's hands. Pulling out a needle and inserting it into Pearl's thigh, watching as her expression shifts to a distant stare. "Pearl sweetie, you are sitting under a nice cherry blossom tree. Out in the park, you'll remember what's in that tree when you wake up."
Pearl's expression shifts slightly, from distant emptiness, to a pained wince. Fully shifting into tears running down her cheeks, her hands tightening around the now all too familiar doll.
Celosia gently guides Jason away. Sitting down on the ground next to him, a small frown on her face, understanding why this could be good for Pearl and Nix, but also hating seeing someone so precious in such pain. "Pearl… I've started the recording, this one is whenever you are ready."
Pearl gently grips her doll, pulling it against her chest as she looks up at the camera. "Nix, the-" she chokes, closing her eyes and whimpering. "The reason I'm so sure the affini, and everyone else will, and already have forgiven you. Is because they forgave me, like you know I was a feralist. And a dedicated one at that, this is a problem for many reasons, but most of all…"
Pearl gently raises the doll up, letting the camera take in the finer details. It was a boy, with messy black hair, dressed in a intricately stitched companion dress. One that mirrors the one Pearl wears every day at the toy store, the hole in it feeling all the more out of place. "This was my best friend, his name was Isac."
It's a struggle to even keep the doll in her hands with how much they are shaking. "You don't know it but you've met him before." She starts laughing weakly. "You and Sola sat under his… grave on your first date. Of course I didn't know that when I gave her the recommendation."
Pearl bites her lip, fighting the urge to give up halfway. To call this good enough, and ask for the memories to go away again. To remove her shame.
"I… I'm the reason he died, I had an illegal communicator hidden in our bunk." Pearl gently places the doll down in front of her. Her hands shaking too much to keep holding it, but also not wanting to damage it under any circumstances. "It got found, and I lied. I told the captain he was the one who owned it, I both outranked and had a positive reputation… they believed me."
"It was only a week after official surrender, and we were all things considered we were a larger ship. He got thrown in with the rest of the perceived defectors." The entire time she speaks, Pearl's eyes are locked with the camera. Fighting the urge to look down in shame. "They planned to execute him first. As a message to scare the rest back into line possibly."
Resin finally moves from her position. Picking Pearl up, and holding the girl in her lap, gently running her hand over where tears are falling. "This is when we arrived, a small group of affini boarding preemptively since they planned to start executions."
Pearl starts to sob, Resin gently pulling out an injector. Pressing it into her thigh, watching as Pearl goes from sobbing to completely still. "Nix, Pearl tried to save her friend. Both were shot by the captain before we boarded. Pearl lost her arm, and Isaac tragically lost his life."
Resin gently turns Pearl around, leaning her floret up to look into her eyes. "Pearl has never been able to live with this fact. It made every day unbearable for her. I took it away, because I love her so much, and want her to be willing to let herself love people, and not view herself as a monster."
Resin gently hums to itself, taking the doll and hiding it in her chest. "I believe the reason my precious Lilly asked to tell you this story. Is because she doesn't want you to feel that same way. You're not a monster for being scared, and trying to save yourself. Just like she's not a monster for what she'd done in her past, if you never decide to lock those memories away."
Resin pauses, turning to smile at the camera. It's compassionate but shows clear pain in every inch. "If you can take them in and grow from it, I am more happy than I can properly express. But if you can not, if you ask for them to be taken away by your owners, until you're ready to face them, or if you never want to see them again. Not a single one of us will judge you, no one will."
Resin slowly stands up, cradling Pearl against her chest. "Now if you do not mind, I need to take my precious Pearl back. Please, I know you will want to support her about this… but let it be in the past, and love the Pearl you have now. I know I do."
Resin gently kisses Pearl on her forehead, taking a moment as her form loses a majority of its tension, walking away into their bedroom. Quickly closing the door behind them, leaving Jason and Celosia to make the rest of the movie.