In a haze of love and flirting from Millie, and not entirely unwelcome flirting from Millie’s mistress, Petal had barely had the ability to process time for what had apparently been the last week. It was time for her next appointment at the clinic. She hadn’t quite managed to leave the house again since then, partly because she didn’t need to, but mostly because Millie had been spending the whole time with her mistress, and as fun as messaging Millie’s mistress was, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to actually meet her in person. Not until she’d made her decision.
Petal looks at her lists of pros and cons. What she had written in the ‘cons’ column tended to follow a few major themes: she shouldn’t just give away her political rights, she shouldn’t just give away her personal freedoms, she shouldn’t just become a pet out of gratitude, she doesn’t need to be domesticated to get what she wants.
Millie’s mistress had made it clear that Petal didn’t need to become her floret to spend time with Millie, or with her. She’d even made it clear that she wouldn’t use xenodrugs to force Petal to become a floret. Actually, she’d said that she wouldn’t let Petal become her pet just because of the ‘xenodruggies’. She really liked to tease Petal with that word, and Petal really, really hated it, because it always seemed to work. Either way, being told that she wouldn’t be allowed to become a pet because she was high on xenodrugs was both reassuring, and somehow incredibly hot, especially since Millie’s mistress then proceeded to spend the next hours, or possibly just minutes, describing how if Petal really wanted to be her pet, she’d make Petal beg, in almost excessive detail.
Petal had left the ‘pros’ column completely empty, she didn’t need any more encouragement on that front. She didn’t need to write about how she wanted to feel all of the pleasure that the Affini could give her, about how she wanted somebody kind, caring and ridiculously hypercompetent to take care of her every need, about the rush she feels whenever she thinks about being as happy and content as any of the florets she seen, about how much she wishes she could just exist as a creature of pure bliss, about how even the haustoric implant sounded less like an invasion of her body, and more like an endless hug for her soul.
Petal sighs, and stands up. The allure is strong enough without having to see it written down. Petal heads to her wardrobe, and looks at herself in the mirror. It’s only been a week, but she’s sure she can see some changes, other than the loss of facial hair, and the few centimetres or so of extra hair. There’s no one thing she can point to, but she does have to admit, for a week, this is ridiculous. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but she’s even noticed just a tiny bit more volume to her chest.
Maybe she should see about getting Millie to help her with makeup and stuff, before their date tomorrow.
PurpleFlower: hey Millie
PurpleFlower: do you reckon you could come by before our date tomorrow?
PurpleFlower: and maybe do another makeover or something?
RainbowSprinkles: oh my stars þat sonds amazing!
RainbowSprinkles: u should tootllay waer that super pretty dress!
RainbowSprinkles: or maybe i could get you someþing from misþtress?
PurpleFlower: We’ll see? I think I still have that dress somewhere
Sitting in her wardrobe, constantly taunting her with how much prettier than her it is. Maybe she’ll actually feel like she won’t ruin it, after a week on her class-G regimen.
RainbowSprinkles: u shud find it!! u made it look suuuper amazing
Petal just stares at that message for a long minute. She almost thinks she could cry. How did Millie always manage to say the perfect thing? The worst part was, she was pretty sure Millie didn’t even know how to lie. Maybe she was always like that, or maybe her Mistress had taken away her lying privileges, or something. Why did that have to sound so hot?
PurpleFlower: thank you.
RainbowSprinkles: ur welcome! but u shud probblbly stop chatttning and go to your vet þnigy!
PurpleFlower: Yeah, yeah, I’m going
RainbowSprinkles: good girl!
RainbowSprinkles: love you!
Petal was expecting it, and it still hits her like hypermetric shock every time she reads it, or hears it, or sometimes even when she just thinks about it too hard.
She’d actually managed to leave at a reasonable time for her appointment this time, partly thanks to the helpful prodding of Millie, possibly at her Mistress’ behest. Apparently Millie’s Mistress was busy again today. Not the most convenient timing, but she’ll have plenty of time with Millie tomorrow.
The receptionist gives Petal a polite wave. “Doctor Vinia’s just finishing up her paperwork from her last appointment. I’ll let you know when she’s free?”
Petal nods and goes to have another cup of water from the water cooler, if only for the novelty of drinking water that hasn’t been perfectly compiled, atom by atom. What kind of a world is she living in, where something so outlandishly ridiculous as atomic compilation seems like the boring, ordinary option. She crushes the cup with a satisfying scrunch, before dropping it in the ‘bin’ to be recycled into whatever it would become next. Maybe it was just a closed loop of cups. A whole atomic compiler, capable of making practically anything you could want, dedicated to making there always be cups for a water cooler that they actually ship the water in for.
There’s a polite throat clearing from the receptionist. “Miss Michaels? Doctor Vinia is ready to see you now.”
“Thanks.” Petal takes a deep breath before she opens the door. She really should ask Delphinium about the Notice of Intent. Maybe it’s not that weird. Maybe she does it for every sophont she cares for, just to make sure they have somewhere she feels comfortable sending them to. Petal steps through, Delphinium is sitting at her desk, looking down at some papers written in Affini-script.
“Miss Michaels, it’s a pleasure to see you again.”
“Um, yeah, you too, Doctor Vinia.” Petal takes her seat in the slightly oversized chair.
“Please, like I said last time, call me Delphinium.” She’d also said to call her mistress last time. Maybe she’s waiting until Petal sits down before she starts up with all of that again. Maybe all Affini are just aggressively flirty when they think they can get away with it. “So, have you had any unwanted side effects over the last week?”
“No, it’s all been pretty good. Kind of amazing, to be honest.”
“We get that reaction a lot. I see that you’ve been using hair-growth lotion, have you had any problems there?”
“Uh… not really?” Delphinium didn’t need to know about the time she got some on the back of her hand and needed to compile herself another razor.
“Not really? I’m afraid that I’ll have to ask you to be a bit more specific than that, my dear.”
“Okay, so, I maybe got some on my hand when I was taking the gloves off one time. It shaved right off, though!”
“Well, that should be fine. Just be careful not to get it anywhere else. Did you have any adverse reaction to the class-As I provided on your last visit?” At Petal’s confused look, Delphinium clarifies, “the inhaler?”
“Oh, well, no, not exactly…” Delphinium raises an eyebrow-shaped leaf. “I guess it was just a bit stronger than I was expecting. It wasn’t bad, or anything.”
“Yes, xenodrugs have been known to take unprepared sophonts by surprise. But I’m glad to hear that the experience ‘wasn’t bad’. Now, for your second dose in your class-G regimen, I’ve made some minor improvements and I believe that I could provide it to you through inhalation without any noticeable drop in effectiveness.”
“Oh.” Petal definitely shouldn’t be disappointed by no longer needing an injection. “Uh… would the injection still be better?”
“Well, injections almost invariably are the most consistent to apply a dose, but-”
“Then I’ll take the injection.” Delphinium’s eyes flicker gold for a moment. “Of course, if you’d prefer an injection, I can continue to provide that service~.”
“Can we do the breathing thing again, though?”
“If you found that helpful, then of course we can do that, petal.”
Petal just nods, not trusting her voice after hearing her name come from Delphinium’s lips. Vines. Vine-lips. Although she’s pretty sure that Affini faces have nothing to do with talking, and they just lip-sync, or vine-lip-sync, she supposes, to the noises they make so that it’s easier for terrans.
“Do you remember what to do?” Petal nods. “Good girl, just breathe along with me, and it’ll be over in no time.”
Petal looks into Delphinium’s eyes as they gently flicker gold and purple. She feels her breathing slow to match Delphinium’s, and she barely notices anything more than a pinch where the affini’s needle enters her. It should hurt, at least a bit, but it just feels good. Almost intimate. She thinks she can feel a warm rush spreading to fill her whole body, starting from where Delphinium has gone ever so slightly inside her. She feels warmth, and compassion, and pride, and she’s almost disappointed when Delphinium takes her flower away, gently stroking over the injection point with a vine. Petal can almost feel herself drifting off. For some reason, it reminds her of when she felt for Millie’s implant.
“There we go, good girl. You took those nice xenodruggies so well~.”
Wait, what? Did she just say ‘xenodruggies’?
“Uh… xeno… druggies?”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Delphinium smiles down at Petal warmly, who despite her uncertainty, can’t help but smile uneasily back up at her. “It’s just something a friend of my darling floret said. I thought it was just so adorable.”
Petal can feel the blood drain from her face. Her breathing hitches for a moment, and she could even swear her heart missed a beat. ‘Her darling floret’? How could Petal have been so stupid! Of course Millie was Delphinium’s floret, why else would somebody as amazing as Millie take any interest in her, unless her Mistress told her to. Why would Millie have gone to all of the effort of being kind to somebody like Petal if she hadn’t been told to.
“I’m sorry, was it too much, Petal?” Delphinium sounded concerned. Just like she always did on the messenger, whenever she was worried that she’d overstepped an unspoken boundary.
“I- um-” Petal could feel herself starting to hyperventilate.
“It’s okay, Petal, just breathe for me.” Of course she knew her name! Of course she was going to use it to just reinforce how completely hopeless Petal had always been to her. The moment Petal heard her speak her name she should have known there was never any real chance for escape. Of course it was ‘when’, not ‘if’. Delphinium had already domesticated her, and she was just waiting for Petal to realise it.
No. Petal can’t afford to calm down, she has to get out of here, she has to get away from Delphinium, she hasn’t made her decision yet, Delphinium doesn’t just get to decide this for her. Not unless it gets worse. Not unless Petal starts to spiral out of control. Not unless Petal proves to everyone that she can’t care for herself, that she never could. That she needs a kind, caring, and hypercompetent owner to take care of everything for her.
Petal feels a sting, finally, as a cool calm spreads through her body from… her upper arm? Petal looks, and sees a bright pink flower pressed against her. It pulls back, and Petal can almost feel herself following it, but actually no, her body’s staying right here it just feels like it’s moving and there’s a needle on the flower and it’s really quite pretty, and it’s attached to one of Delphinium’s vines, which is also really pretty, which is attached aaall the way back to Delphinium, who is super duper pretty, and oh! She’s saying something.
“-give you a counteragent-”
That sounds complicated. Petal just wants to watch Delphinium’s eyes. They’re super pretty, although she seems worried. Her face looks completely normal, like she’s just talking to Petal like everything is normal, but it still feels a bit worried, somehow.
Petal feels another sting, and her mind latches on to the middle-ground the xenodrugs seem to have found for her, between panic and utter distraction.
“I’m so sorry about that, my dear. I definitely didn’t want to cause you any distress. Do you feel like you’d be up for talking about it?”
“Nnnooo.” Petal can hear the slur in her voice. Her whole body feels sluggish, but as the new xenodrug settles, she can feel it sort of coming under control. She doesn’t feel bad anymore, at least. But talking about this with Delphinium, is… too much. She needs to think about this. A lot more. “Maybe later?”
That seems to relax Delphinium a bit, almost absent-mindedly she reaches out a vine to pet Petal’s head, and all thought just seems to disappear until the vine pulls away. “Okay. Would you like to stay here for a bit?” Petal shakes her head, at first to give her response, but then because she just can’t stop the motion. Delphinium stops Petal’s head with a gentle caress from a vine. “Would you like to go home?” Petal nods, again only stopping when Delphinium stops her. “Would you like me to come with you?” A firm shake, that takes a vine on either side of her face to stop.
Delphinium taps out a message. “Okay, I’m going to give you a little bit more of the counteragent, so that you’ll be fine to walk around and everything, and Julia, the receptionist can help you get home. Does that sound good?” Petal nods, and she feels her mind clear, just a bit more.
The receptionist walks in, and she and Delphinium help Petal down from the chair. Before Delphinium lets the receptionist take her away, she passes Petal a small piece of paper. “If you need anything, don’t hesitate to get in touch.” Petal unfolds the paper, to see exactly what she knew she would.
Well… fuck. Petal lets the receptionist lead her away. She can still feel Delphinium’s concern radiating from behind her.