Petal has been staring at the clothes in her wardrobe for what feels like hours, and she’s running out of time. After checking with her affini, Millie had told Petal that she was free to hang out the next day. Which was now today. And Petal still couldn’t decide what to wear.
She’d narrowed it down to three choices. The first was the shapeless black clothes that she had been wearing when she’d needed to go outside, about the same as what she used to wear before she got dragged into the navy, but far more comfortable. The second was something almost, but not quite, as shapeless as the first, but with a long skirt instead of the baggy pants she’d been wearing. The third was the Affini Companion dress she’d worn the day that Millie had given her a makeover.
Petals runs her fingers gently down the dress, marveling at its softness, and the way that even the slightest shift in the fabric seems to cascade throughout the patterns traced out across it. She pulls the dress down, and holds it against her body as she turns to look in a mirror. It really was beautiful, and attention-grabbing, and Petal can’t help but think how much prettier it would look on basically any other body, and she couldn’t possibly-
Petal closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, letting it out in a long sigh as she turns back to the wardrobe. She opens her eyes again, and puts the dress away, giving it a last almost reverential stroke before pulling out her usual clothes. They were boring, especially compared to the dress, but boring was safe. Unless being boring was going to disappoint Millie. Thinking about seeing the gorgeous floret’s face slowly slip from joyful contentment to anything resembling disapproval would be sure to elicit a beep from Petal’s bracelet, so she puts the shapeless baggy mass back in her wardrobe.
Which just leaves the outfit with the skirt. It certainly wasn’t anywhere near as amazing as the dress, but it also wasn’t explicitly trying to be as unidentifiable as possible. She pulls it out of the wardrobe, and puts it on before looking at herself in the mirror. It looks fine, and it feels comfortable, in a way that her shapeless clothes never did, and without the pressure of living up to the dress. She should have worn this the first time she went out of the hab. She almost feels more herself than she did after Millie’s makeover. It’s not who she wants to be, not yet, but it’s where she is on that journey.
Even for a Terran colony, Cordola has always been pretty small, near the edge of what used to be the Terran Accord that was furthest away from galactic center. It had been relatively stable, before the war, and so the Affini were still in the process of bringing the colony up to Affini standards. Apparently The Affini were expanding the unimaginatively named Cordola City according to a model they’d developed on some luxury world. The upshot of this was that the old city had been left largely intact, the Affini updating buildings and technology to meet their standards when and where they deemed it necessary, but otherwise largely allowing the people who wanted to to stay where they were.
The more impressive parts of the colony, at least as far as Petal was concerned, were the Affini built sectors. There was the Affini District itself, which they’d built over what had been the industrial sector, replacing the ugly factories with gorgeous Affini architecture seemingly overnight, and Petal’s favourite part of the city, where the Affini district crept into the borders of the old city. From above, it probably looked like the Affini district was spreading into the old city like roots from a seed.
Around the edge of the Affini district, and where it crept into the old city, the designs were built to a standard that was intended for Terrans and Affini to share, everything was big enough for the Affini, but anything important was still available at a human height, just like Petal's hab.
Petal’s hab was just inside the Affini district, near the base of one the outgrowths into the old city, and it turned out that Millie's hab, or her mistress's, rather, was actually pretty close. She was almost surprised that Millie hadn't walked past and randomly knocked on her door, she was so close. Maybe her mistress hadn't been as busy of late.
Petal and Millie were meeting at a park that was about halfway between their two habs. Rather than setting a firm time, which had never worked well for Petal, and certainly didn’t work for Millie anymore, the two had agreed to meet a bit before noon. Petal had arrived a bit early, and had sat down on a bench to wait for Millie. She could have sworn that she’d been awake the whole time, but after a particularly long blink she opens her eyes and feels a weight against her shoulder. She turns to look, and-
Millie is leaning on her shoulder.
Millie is leaning on her shoulder. She almost looks asleep. She does look asleep. Millie has fallen asleep on her shoulder, and it’s the most adorable thing she’s ever seen. It’s also one of the most surprising things that Petal has ever seen. Petal tries to stop herself from flinching, but can’t.
“mrmmrmr?” Oh stars. Oh stars no, this is too cute. What is Petal supposed to do when something this cute is happening right in front of her! Petal holds still, in case there’s still a chance that Millie might fall back asleep.
“mmm…” Millie definitely seems to be waking up, pulling her weight off of Petal’s shoulder to look at her with a confused expression for a few seconds. She must-
“Petal!” As soon as Millie seems to recognise her, she wraps her arms around Petal. She’s so close, Petal can feel Millie’s warmth spread from every point of contact she has with the floret, which was, and all of it seemed to be going straight to her face. “You’re awake!”
"I- I was just resting my eyes!"
Millie giggles, and squeezes Petal tighter. "Then why weren't you blushing like this when I cuddled you before?"
"Y-you were cuddling me before?"
"Maaaaybe." Millie giggles. "But if you were awake, shouldn't you know?"
"W-well, I- Did- did you?"
Millie giggles again as she gives Petal another tight squeeze, before letting go and jumping up to her feet. "Nope! Except I maybe did lean on you a bit. You were really cute after all. I think I maybe fell asleep for a bit."
"Oh, okay. Um, me too, maybe."
"I know." Millie is smiling down at her, and Petal can feel her heart flutter. "You were asleep when I got here, so I ran around the park for a bit, and then I got tired so I sat next to you and then I guess I fell asleep too!"
"Oh, really? I'm so sorry I-"
"Why would you be sorry? It was a super cute way to start our date!"
"Oh." Well, so long as Millie was happy. Wait a second, did she say- "w-wait, did you say… d-date?"
"Well yeah! Isn't it?" Is it? "I mean, it doesn't have to be, if you don't w-"
"I do! I just... didn't realise that it was."
"Oh, that's fine! Sometimes I don't know what's going on until somebody tells me, too."
How reassuring. Petal has the situational awareness of a floret.
"So, uh… was there anything that you wanted to do?" Petal had never really understood how to do the whole dating thing.
"Yeah! Hang out with you!" Millie speaks with a voice of such unrestrained joy that Petal can't help but believe her.
"Other than that. Or, like, as well as that."
"Oh, uh…" Millie's face scrunched up adorably in concentration. "Not really? Maybe we could cuddle more, or, uh… I guess I'm kinda hungry?"
"We should totally get some lunch, then!"
"And maybe afterwards we can take some xenodrugs and cuddle!"
"Oh, uh… I've never really… taken xenodrugs before. I mean, I guess I was given some when I was on the Asturtium? But like…"
"Oh, really? You should totally try some! Maybe you could get some when you get your class-Gs!"
Petal tries to think about asking for affini xenodrugs, and blushes, and then imagines telling Millie why that's a terrible idea, and blushes even more. "Uh.. maybe? We'll see, I guess?"
"You totally should! It makes cuddling cuties even better! And the sex is amazing!"
"What? It is!"
"I haven't… done anything like that, since… being Petal."
"Do you want to?" Petal looks at Millie, and can't see anything but compassion joining the usual expression of joy she has from being a floret.
Does she? Thinking about it feels like… like thinking about the dress. "I… I don't think I'm ready for all of that."
"Is flirting okay? And what about cuddles? And kissing?" Petal blushes, looking down, but nodding in answer to each question.
Petal can feel Millie's warmth as she leans in closer. "What was that, Petal?" Even looking down, Petal can see Millie's body in thought-stopping clarity, and when Millie puts her fingers to Petal's chin to direct her attention up to the floret's eyes, she can't help but slowly take in every inch of her. Millie certainly doesn't seem to mind the attention.
"Um… y-yes?" If it were possible for her to be blushing any more, being so embarrassingly tongue tied in front of Millie would definitely do it.
"Yes what?" The compassion hasn't exactly left Millie's expression, but it seems to have mostly been replaced by a playful, almost predatory expression. She knows exactly what she's doing to Petal, and she can't decide if that makes it so much better or so much worse.
"Y-yes, to flirting," Millie strokes her cheek, and Petal can't stop herself from letting out a gentle whimper. "Y-yes, to cuddles," Millie moves her hand to the back of Petal's neck, and pulls her head in closer. Petal moans and closes her eyes, 'and yes, to- to kisses."
After Millie doesn't do anything for a second, Petal opens her eyes to see Millie's face a few scant centimetres from her own, watching her with an expression of adoration that Petal can hardly believe is directed at her. As if she were waiting for just this moment, a huge grin spreads across Millie's face.
"Good girl, Petal!"
Before Petal can even begin to think of a response, Millie's lips are pressed against hers, and any thoughts that might have been starting to form evaporate in the searing heat where Millie's lips touch her own.
Petal's awareness of anything other than Millie evaporates just as easily as her thoughts, as her entire universe narrows down to a pair of lips pressing against another.
Eventually, Millie pulls her lips away. Petal thinks she can hear herself let out another whimper. "You know, it feels even better on xenodrugs."
"Kissing, cuddling, everything, really!"
"Wha-, huh?" Petal is utterly confused.
"It feels so much better on xenodrugs."
That's impossible. "That's impossible."
"Then why don't you get some tomorrow and find out~?"
"I… yeah, okay, okay, I will."
Petal looks up at Millie, just in time to hear her repeat, “Good girl, Petal!” before climbing on top of Petal and stopping her thoughts with another kiss.