The light of two moons flickered off the blade in my hand. A crimson liquid dripped from its edge. Drip. Drip. Drip. Tonight happened to be a bad night… and not even for anything in particular, just bad. Mood felt off. Thoughts felt off. Too much noise. Felt too hot out. The moons seemed a tad out of phase. Some nights were bad nights. I got too clingy or too anxious or too me.
Something always felt so satisfying by taking a blade and drawing it across my skin. A release of sorts. All the pain became physical and dripped away, drop by drop. Red blood on pale skin always looked sort of pretty… and I was making it weird. Of course I couldn't let myself enjoy this unironically. I couldn't let myself just enjoy things, enjoying things would be good—even if it was self-harm—and good sat on the not okay list.
"Even in a perfect utopia, I can't just fucking be happy." I muttered to the night air. A confession of sorts. The night collected secrets from many souls, mine included.
"Wren?" Called a familiar voice. Her voice. That affini that set her eyes on me despite my every warning. She'd hate me. Eventually, she'd hate me.
In the middle of my small rooftop garden I sat, bleeding onto the flower beds, holding a knife, a single glimpse of me would get me domesticated. Danger to myself, that's all I was. That's all she'd see… and she'd be right. How could she not be? The affini were perfect immortal all-powerful plants that controlled everything, with a hundred thousand years and a hepta-septillion souls or some other big number with a made up name.
Sanguinea called out again. "Hon, I can smell blood… I'm coming up." A brief stab of anxiety almost had me try and hide the blatantly obvious, but her form rose over the safety fence. Four eyes locked with mine and I froze up. She slithered rhythmically closer and closer.
The knife hid behind my back, and my arms. Splatters of blood covered everything around me. I forgot to breathe.
Her serpentine torso rose before me as her vines slowly encircled me. Some brushed against the splatters and a few more reached behind my back and slowly pulled my arms out into the bright moonlight. "Wren, sweety, care to explain this?"
"It's uhm… not what it looks like?" My brain made me say things sometimes. Dumb things. Awful stupid bad—
"I see." She pried the knife out of my hand and wrapped my cuts in her vines. A light pull tugged me towards the rooftop door. "Come on dear, we're getting you cleaned up."
A million emotions played out across my heart, culminating in my warbling lip, and a few tears. I expected her to be angry, to shout, maybe confused yelling but not… patient. "You're not angry?"
"I'm many things… but not angry. Never angry." She hissed calmly as we passed into my home and the lights came on illuminating us both in its soft glow. The bright red of her own leaves covered up the red of my wounds. "Your blood tastes delicious by the way."
I blinked as I was guided down the stairs. Dumbfounded and at a loss for what to say, I asked, "What?"
Her vines reached over to my compiler taping away while she sat me down and held me there. "As I said, your blood tastes quite exquisite. Though we should try to keep it inside you, yes?"
"Right…" Something held me in a suspended disbelief at it all. This felt far too casual, and I felt as if any moment something would drop and every bit would become real and visceral, the yelling, the fighting, being taken into her care forcibly.
"Would you like to talk about what led to this?" Pulling my arms outstretched towards her, she began the work of stitching the larger cuts and bandaging the rest. Dozens of vines worked in perfect harmony. As delicately as she worked, it still hurt. More than the original cutting. Enough to have me wincing, and attempting to writhe. She held me firmly in place, refusing to let my arms budge even a nanometer while she worked.
Pain acted as both a source of clarity and distraction. My words waited until her work neared completion to form. "I… I had a bad day."
"I'm listening, hon. We have all night." Her calm blue eyes locked my own in place for a moment.
"Nothing. My brain just felt bad… and maybe I felt dysphoric again… and maybe I just got used to doing this. I felt bad and I took one of the kitchen knives… I'm going to be your floret now, aren't I?"
The last wrapping finished up, and the biotech bandages clung to my flesh. "Terran brains are known for their instability. As for your domestication… what would you prefer happen?"
"I'd rather not become a floret." My eyes refused to meet her own. My rejection of her advances loud and clear. She wanted a pet, and I just couldn't inflict myself upon her.
"Because you see yourself as a burden. You've mentioned. So let me pose a hypothetical, hon. If you were a wonderful sophont who existed so splendidly your presence could not possibly be a detriment to any, what would you prefer happened?" She let my arms fall to my sides, and coiled back to eye me curiously.
Sitting upon the couch, I clung to myself anxiously and tried to imagine her hypothetical and couldn't… so I created a new sophont who fit the parameters and wondered what I thought would be best for her. My mind acted unwilling to drop the presented question, despite it being ridiculous. Me? Not a burden? I couldn't if I tried, and I did try.
More gears turned and I gave her an answer. "Hypothetically, it'd be best if she were domesticated, but I'm not her."
A lone vine brushed up against my cheek. "I beg to differ."
Staring up at her, I told her for the millionth time. "I'm terrible. A burden. You'll regret ever attempting—"
"No. I won't. I'll take care of you."
My eyes drifted down and onto the bandages wrapped around the full length of my forearms. "It's rotten work."
That same lingering vine tilted my head up to face hers. She pulled me in with her four soul-piercing metallic orbs. "Not to me, not if it's you."
For a long moment, our eyes stared into each other. Each of hers shimmered gold. Mine slowly filled to the brim with tears. Then I stood up and collapsed into her waiting vines, sobbing out a pain so deep it long filled with an ocean of tears. She held me. Sanguinea held me so tight I thought she might never let go. Then again, did any affini ever truly let go of their floret?