Petal felt surrounded by comfort. That makes three times in the past however long it had been. They hadn't exactly been in much of a state to keep track of the time. If this keeps up, they might actually get used to it.
"Awake again, dear?"
Oh. The Affini is here again. Or is that still?
Petal opens their eyes. This time, they're looking right up at the Affini, and they feel tiny. Like a petal. This the first time they’re actually looking at her properly, and… wow. Even sitting, she’s taking up most of the height in the room. She looked a lot like the Affini from the propaganda, a humanoid body made mostly of vines, leaves and bark, but in amongst the vines that would correlate to a human’s hair, she had a streak of small, purple flowers.
They turn to check their surroundings, and they notice that they're still lying down, right next to the bed, only now it seems like their head is being cradled in the lap of the Affini, the blanket having been replaced with a more colourful one. They try to sit up, but this time the blanket doesn't seem to budge. They try to squirm themselves free from the blanket, and it seems to have a bit of give, but it's strange. If the blanket was this heavy, why wasn't it crushing them?
"Is that a yes, flower?"
They brace themselves, and while their cheeks do start to feel warm, there isn't quite that same rush they felt when the Affini called them "Petal". That was... probably good? Well, it meant that their name actually was "Petal", and they weren't just attaching themselves to whatever the Affini had called them last. They should probably ask the Affini for her name. They were pretty sure Affini had names... yeah, in the propaganda, they'd always introduce themselves with names like... Flowery Prettyname, Nth Bloom.
They must still be recovering from the xenodrugs.
"If you let me know that you're awake, then I can help you up, and we can find you some food?"
Their stomach growled. Traitor. But they guessed that technically so were they, so they might as well talk. "I'm awake." It wasn't fair that the Affini got to have such a pretty voice, when they were stuck with whatever their stupid hormones decided to give them.
"Very good, my dear," the Affini cooed, as she ran a vine softly down Petal's cheek.
They felt a tingle wherever the vine touched, and they flushed, their blood also apparently having decided to betray them to the Affini. All of their body seemed to be in cahoots against them. It must be the xenodrugs.
"I'm going to take away my vines, and then we'll stand up, okay?" Her voice sounds almost musical, and Petal can feel themselves nodding along.
Wait, vines? They look down just in time to realise that what they thought was a colourful blanket was actually a part of the Affini: vines, covered in small purple flowers that were in her hair, woven together from either side of them.
"Are you a shapeshifter?" They meant to keep that thought inside, but apparently they're just asking invasive questions now.
"In a way. I can reshape my body to suit my needs, although more complicated forms do require a bit more coordination."
"Oh." Well, that was just completely unfair. How much easier would everything be, if they could just reshape their body to suit their needs.
The Affini stood up. Well, her torso just sort of shifted a bit up, her legs reshaping under her and a pair of vines snaked under Petal’s arms to pull them up with her. She barely ended up any further off the ground, but it’s not like the room was big enough for her to get any taller. Show off. She pulled the vines out, ruffling Petal’s hair and sending shivers down their spine as her vines went past. Okay, that was definitely not fair. Because of the xenodrugs.
“There we go. Now, my dear, do you think you’re up for walking? Or would you like me to carry you~?” She asked her last question with an even more musical trill, and Petal found herself genuinely considering asking the giant plant lady to carry them around. Those xenodrugs really were potent. They raise their arm to look at their bracelet. It couldn’t be big enough to hold that much, but even human drugs usually didn’t need a lot.
“There are drugs in this, aren’t there?” They tap the bracelet with their other hand. Their filter really wasn’t doing well under the onslaught of xenodrugs, was it?
“Some,” the Affini admitted, “just in case of emergencies, or distress. The cuff also allows us to monitor your vital signs. Of course, since you were so well behaved on the ship, you’ll probably only get a collar if you ask for one~.”
Yep. That sounds like the Affini from the propaganda, completely convinced that all humans need is a few kind words, xenodrugs and some physical affection, and they’ll all just fall over themselves to become pets. The fact that it actually seemed to work at least some of the time just made it worse.
“I’ll walk. Unless, well… how far away is it?”
“Not far, even for a cute little human like you.” Great. Now she’s complimenting them. How is that supposed to be fair?
“Then I’ll walk.” Somehow, that sounded less ‘asserting their boundaries’ and more ‘asking for permission’. Oh well, it’s probably still better that the Affini thinks that they’re just going to go along with things for now. Especially since it sounds like she isn’t actually planning to forcibly domesticate them.
“Well then, my dear, follow me.” The Affini swishes out of the room, leaving Petal staring after them. “Are you coming, dear?”
Oh, right. They start walking after the Affini, and finally remember the question they actually did want to ask. “Oh, um… by the way, what’s your name?”
“I almost thought you were never going to ask~.” The Affini turns back to face Petal, reaching down to shake their hand. “Delphinium Vinia, Third Bloom.” Yep, Flowery Prettyname, Nth Bloom, just like they thought. “And yours, dear?”
“Oh, uh-” Don’t say Petal, Don’t say Petal. “... Jeremy.” They wince. They didn’t say Petal, but did they really have to say that?
“... The other human called you ‘Jez’, would you prefer it if I called you that?” She almost sounds concerned. They stare at her, blankly. Nobody else had thought to ask. Maybe it was because they were just used to Petal being Jeremy, and didn’t have any reason to need to think about it, but still. It felt nice to be noticed. They could even still ask her to call them Petal, although the last two times she did that, Petal was unconscious within seconds. Better stick to Jez, then. At least for now.
“Yeah. Jez is fine.” They look up, and notice the hand still reaching out towards them, and put their hand in it. Their hand is tiny inside the Affini’s, Delphinium, they remind themself, who gently shakes their hand. Rather than just letting go, Delphinium pulls each of the vines making up her hand away individually, reforming it just a few inches away.
The last few vines tilt Petal’s hand until it’s facing palm up, and one of them deposits a small purple flower on it, like the ones in her ‘hair’ and the blanket of vines she had covered Petal with. They stare at the flower, completely unsure of what it was supposed to mean, or what they’re supposed to do with it, or-
There’s a sound like wind whispering through branches, and they look up at Delphinium’s face. Her expression still seems polite, except for her eyes, which are giving off a purple glow that almost matches her flowers. Petal looks back down at the flower, and then back up at Delphinium.
Delphinium just flashes them a smile and turns to leave the room. Stepping out from the door, she stretches her body out to what Petal thinks must be at least twelve feet, maybe more. Still confused, Petal follows after her, and she starts leading them through a short series of massive, empty corridors. Petal stays fairly close to Delphinium, and only stops to stare up at just how tall she is twice along the way, their fingers still gently holding the flower.