She shouldn’t, but Petal could definitely see herself getting used to this. Being carried by a frustratingly attractive giant plant lady and her pet/Petal’s girlfriend. Petal looks up at Delphinium’s face to see the affini looking down at her with a warm expression. Petal wonders if she should ask Delphinium a question, but she can’t think of anything, except well…
“Are we there yet?”
“Not yet, my precious Petal, but soon.”
Wait, what? She didn’t think she’d actually said it out loud! Why did her mouth have to keep betraying her like this? If she’s already embarrassed herself, she might as well keep going. “How soon?”
“Very soon, my dear, very soon. In fact…” Petal could feel herself being lifted out of the blanket by Delphinium’s vines, and lowered towards a door. Her door. One of Delphinium’s vines reaches down and wraps around Petal’s arm, using her hand to open the door to her hab. Delphinium just used her as a key. To her own house. And there was nothing Petal could do to stop it. She’d barely even realised that it was happening until her hand was being made to open the door. She was being puppeteered. Her body made to move not according to, or even against, her will, but entirely irrespective of it. Completely at Delphinium’s mercy.
That wasn’t supposed to sound so appealing, damnit.
Millie is pulled away from Delphinium to join Petal, and both of them are deposited on Petal’s couch, the vines mostly withdraw, but Delphinium leaves a vine behind for each of them. Millie starts to play with hers immediately. Petal eyes the vine in front of her, uncertainly, before it shoots forward and starts to ruffle her hair, and Petal’s hesitance is simply replaced by pleasure.
Delphinium starts to look around the room, and Petal tries to rise, but is stopped by the vine that had been petting her pinning her to the couch. “I have to make an inspection, my dear. Make sure there isn’t any more feralist propaganda lying around.
“Do you really thin-” The vine moves up to shush Petal.
“It’s not that I think I’ll find anything, it’s just that there’s no reason not to look, especially since you are a good girl, and having nothing to hide, anyway~.” Well, Petal didn’t want her finding her list of pros and cons. Although she wasn’t entirely sure if the problem would be that Delphinium would be insufferable because she’d made it, or disappointed because there were only cons. Maybe even both.
“I- I don’t have anything to hide.” There’s also the flower, of course, but Delphinium already knew about that. Everything else was… probably fine.
Delphinium steps over to some shelves on the wall, and reaches out a finger-thick vine to run over the shelf, before rubbing it against another similarly sized vine. Is she- Is she checking for dust?! “Hmm…” Did she find dust? Was Petal supposed to be dusting? She thought the hab did that for her!
Delphinium steps over towards the kitchen, Petal’s bowl she used for her ice cream before, along with maybe another two or three, or five other bowls that the compiler had made for Petal to eat from sat next to it, waiting to be decompiled.
Petal could feel Delphinium raise a questioning eyebrow, even with her looking at something else, halfway across the room. “I, uh… I just never got around to decompiling them, I guess?”
“I see. And were all of these bowls once filled with ice cream?”
“W-well, uh… maybe? But, but, it’s got some sort of nutritional supplement in it.”
“You’re welcome. But still, when was the last time you had something to eat that wasn’t ice cream?”
“Uh…” Petal tries to think, but the only thing she can remember is that she thinks she got Millie, that one time? “Uh… with Millie?”
“Uh-uh.” Millie disagrees. “You got ice cream then, too. It was really cute!”
“I see, thank you Millie” The vine that Millie is playing with reaches out to pet her hair. “And before that, Petal?”
“Uh… maybe the Horizons?”
“Where I presume you only had access to… what were they called, ‘synth cubes’?”
“And when was the last time you had an actual meal, my dear?”
“Well, um… I… I can’t remember…” Petal’s voice shrinks, and she looks down. Delphinium is definitely going to be disappointed in her. Petal can feel Delphinium’s vine gently pushing her chin up to look all the way up at Delphinium, her voice filled with compassion, maybe a tinge of a surprisingly welcome pity, and what Petal thought might have actually been excitement.
“Well then, my dear. It sounds like we absolutely must change that! I’m sure that Verne won’t mind fetching some supplies for us.” Delphinium pulls a tablet out from her chest, and taps out a quick message.
“Do you have any preferences, any types of food that you might like in particular?”
“Uh… no? Not really? Sorry”
“Oh, my dearest, you don’t need to be sorry in the slightest. Maybe Verne will be able to find something suitable in your records.” Wait, what, her records?
“Yes, of course, I thought you said that you’d made an effort to see what the affini know about you. You did have access to your records from the Office of Transitional Neoxenoveterinary Archebureaucracy, did you not?”
“Well, yeah, but… there was a lot? And it didn’t seem that important?”
“Not important? Flower, dear, nothing could be further from the truth.” Delphinium shrinks in on herself, before surging towards Petal. Her face, the only part of her that maintained any semblance of a human form, stops moving a short distance from Petal’s, with a warm smile. It was completely unfair that Delphinium gets to be that cool.
“Those records are everything we could find out about you, from official records, to… ‘marketing’ data,” Delphinium said marketing with the same kind of vitriol that Petal’s crew had reserved for anything affini, “every purchase you’ve ever made, every time your image has ever been recorded, everything you've ever seen, or done or searched for on the overnet. It’s all a reflection of who you were, and that makes it precious beyond words, my dearest Petal.”
Oh, fuck. That means that Delphinium could have seen… anything! Everything! All of the worst possible parts of Petal. And she probably has.
And she still wants me, Petal feels herself think. Fuck, that is so much less fair than all the rest of it put together.
“Regardless, I’m sure that Verne will be able to figure out something appropriate. He does enjoy the odd chance to demonstrate his skill at investigative bureaucracy.”
Delphinium spins as she brings her vines in to stand up straighter again, but she leaves the vines that are attending to Petal and Millie with them. “Now, while we’re waiting for him, I should probably continue my investigation, hm?” Delphinium continues to play with Millie, and stroke Petal’s hair as she steps her way over to the pressed flower, she pulls the frame off the wall, and inspects it with tiny, delicate vines.
Seemingly satisfied that there’s no feralist propaganda hidden in the frame, she places it back on the wall, before making her way over to the last object of interest in the room. The coffee table, with the treaty. Where Petal was hiding her list. She couldn’t help herself from getting just a bit more anxious, but a reassuring stroke down her cheek from Delphinium’s vine seemed to just draw that all away.
“Human Domestication Treaty, abridged. Interesting choice of reading material.”
“I uh… thought I should probably learn what the rules were supposed to be?”
“Oh, the rules are simple, my dear. Be the best self you can, and let us deal with the complicated parts. How much of it have you read?”
“I, well… I maybe didn’t really get that far, just, like, the first section, maybe?”
“Oh, I see. So that would mean that this,” Delphinium shoots a vine towards the book, which comes back holding a folded piece of paper, “isn’t a bookmark? Were you perhaps trying to hide feralist contraband, and in a copy of the treaty, no less~?” Petal can tell that Delphinium is just teasing her, but that only makes it worse, as Petal’s face grows increasingly flushed.
“Then you won’t mind if I take a look at what it says?”
“I- w-well. M-maybe?”
“Maybe you would mind? It’s nothing untoward, I hope?”
“I- y- you’re just going to look at it whatever I say, aren’t you?”
“Well, yes, but it’s always fun to tease a cutie like you~.” Delphinium opens the paper, and looks at it for a few seconds. “I see. Had you perhaps already been considering domestication?”
"Well, you know. You and Millie keep bringing it up, and I thought I should at least think about it, even if I don't want it."
"Oh, of course. How very sensible. Only, I couldn't help but notice that you've left one half of this blank. Have you been unable to think of what you might gain from domestication, or have you been afraid that if you write it down, you'll have to confront just how much you do want it~?"
It's phrased as a question, it even sounds like a question. But Petal is absolutely sure that it isn't a question, and that Delphinium already knows the answer. That she's just daring Petal to lie, and have her lies torn apart. Or that she's daring Petal to tell the truth, so that she can deconstruct that, too.
"W-well, um… I- I guess-" Petal drops silent as she feels a tension in the air.
"No, no, this I will not allow." Delphinium almost sounded angry, forceful, certainly. "The rest of these objections fall into three categories: misconceptions to be corrected, social conditioning that can be gently overcome, and attempts to pass off what you want as something that you don't as an excuse to permit yourself to write those things you desperately want. This one, however, while still fitting into both the first and second categories, is not a concern I will allow you to even consider."
Delphinium brings the paper up to Petal's eyeline, another of her vines pointing to the offending section.
they deserve better than me
"I will not allow anybody to say such a hurtful thing about anyone in my care, especially not you. In addition, it is not your place to judge what I or my floret deserve. You may either remove this from your list, or I will have to make you." Another vine brought out a human sized pen.
Petal almost wanted to see how Delphinium was planning to make her, but Delphinium also seemed unusually serious, so Petal took the pen and wordlessly crossed out the offending words, another of Delphinium's vines providing a surface so she didn't push through the paper.
they deserve better than me
"Good girl~." The sudden shift in mood was palpable. Petal almost could have sworn that she felt a wave of Delphinium' usual pleasant flirtiness wash over her, and she blushed. Delphinium took the pen back from Petal, and crossed out the same section again and again, until it was completely indecipherable. "There. Much better."
"Now, while we're waiting for Verne with the groceries, why don't we go through this, and see if I can't help you with any of these concerns? Oh, and, Millie, dearest, it looks like Petal has been having a hard time writing out why she might like to be a floret. Do you think you could help her with that?"
"Of course, Mistress!" Oh no. Millie is way too enthusiastic about this. Delphinium carefully tears the page in two, and passes the blank 'pros' page, along with a number of colourful pencils, over to Millie. Who takes it all with glee. And giggles.
Petal doesn't have long to think about this, though, as Delphinium brings herself around behind the couch, her head resting just above Petal's. She holds the 'cons' page in front of them and passes Petal back the pen.
"So, my dear, why don't we see how many of these concerns of yours I can address~."