It had been three weeks since the Horizons was captured. Two, since the Asturtium had brought Petal to Cordola, along with however many affini and their respective florets.The time had passed in something of a blur, but today, she finally had it, the form that was the answer to all of her problems.
Something that Petal had learned on the Asturtium was that the Affini loved their paperwork. They had forms for everything, and that meant that Petal could get what she needed without needing to leave the comforts of the hab the Affini had literally sent her to the planet in. She hadn't even needed to leave the hab to leave the ship! She still did leave the hab, on occasion, but not that often. Technically, they had given the person that she used to be the hab, but she could always fix that when she found the appropriate paperwork. It was probably the next thing on her list.
She filled out the blessed form quickly. Affini paperwork could be complex, but she'd quickly discovered that you could ask the clerks to fix everything for you, so long as it was obvious what you wanted. She had felt a bit bad about it at first, and so she'd write the occasional "please" or "thank you" in the margins, but after living on an Affini controlled world for a week, she'd come to realise that the only people working at the records office genuinely wanted to be there.
She'd have realised it sooner, but it took her a week before she decided that she should probably leave her hab occasionally to make sure that none of her affini neighbours got too worried about her and decided that she needed to be a pet after all. When she had, she’d discovered that the only people doing any kind of labour were the people who wanted to be doing it.
She still writes all of the "please"s and "thank you"s on her forms, which probably has some paperwork obsessed affini calling her adorable. Maybe even the whole clerks' office calls her adorable, but she can live with that, especially if it means that she gets to deal with her transition on her own terms.
Satisfied that the form is as good as she'll get it, Petal sends it off. This is a particularly important form, so she'd actually written both a "pretty please" and a "thank you very much" . It probably won't get it processed any faster, but Affini bureaucracy is shockingly fast.
Sure enough, only a few minutes later, she receives a response. She even notices that someone has written a "you're very welcome" on it, but there's a certain laziness to the lettering that makes her think it was probably whomever filed the response's floret, rather than the actual clerk.
Jez Michaels, Independent: Request for Class-G treatment regimen provisionally accepted
Yes! She was finally going to get the body that the Affini had promised her!
Wait. Provisionally? What kind of provisions?
They skimmed the rest of the forms. The Affini weren't supposed to be stingy with drugs, and they were giant plants, it's not like they had any reason to gatekeep human gender, even if that weren't entirely antithetical to their "helping people be the best version of themselves” thing.
Oh, okay. That made more sense:
As you are an independent, you will need to attend a registered clinic to have an appropriate treatment regimen planned. See attached document for...
Okay, she needed to actually have a prescription or whatever. She could live with that. And the helpful Affini had even given her the form she needed to make an appointment, and it looked like there were even some forms for updating her name and pronouns. And aw, their floret wrote "Good luck!" on the appointment form. Petal smiles, before quickly filling out the form to make an appointment at the "Happy Vines Human Clinic", writing a big "thank you for all your help" at the bottom. She wasn't sure if she meant this particular affini, or the Affini in general, but right now, Petal was feeling pretty thankful to everyone. Everyone made out of treestuff, at least. Petal sends the new form off, and goes to get some food from the compiler.
She sits back down on the couch with her food, a particularly tasty Affini-designed nutrient bar, and finds the response, unsurprisingly, along with a personal note, which was new. She has an appointment in two days time. Perfect, enough time for her to prepare, not enough time for her to freak out, or to have to dread how long it was taking. She decides to open up the personal note while she takes a bite of her bar.
I think I speak for all Affini when I say that it has been an absolute pleasure to help you on your journey towards a better you. I'm sure everything will go well, but I hope you will let me know the details of the exact course that it takes. Vernonia Letlens, Fifth Bloom (he/him).
That was… surprisingly nice to read. The idea of the entire Affini Compact, which Petal had come to learn was Very Big, all caring about her was utterly ridiculous, and probably true. Not literally, of course. She'd only met the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction of all Affini, but every single one genuinely seemed to care about each and every thing and each and every one as important in their own right.
Oh, the note had come with a note of its own. "P.S. My overnet messenger ID is IronThumb".
Right. That. Petal had been meaning to set up her account for that since the day she met Millie, who had also insisted that they add each other. She’d just… gotten stuck on the “choose a name” screen.
Petal opens up the messenger program on her tablet, and finds herself on that very same screen. She stares at the empty box where her name is supposed to go, before dropping the tablet on her coffee table in frustration. Right next to the paper copy of the Human Domestication Treaty (abridged) she'd had delivered to her, back on the Asturtium. She'd thought it would probably be good to know how it actually worked, but never made it past the first few pages. Most of it seemed to be various forms of condescension, mostly in the form of calling humans cute and adorable and in need of big, strong Affini protection, and it was big.
It was such a big book, in fact, that she'd decided to use it to press- the flower! She'd almost forgotten about it! Petal carefully opens up the book, gently leafing through the pages until she finds the right page. She gently takes out the flower. It looks like it’s still in good condition. She closes the book, and carefully places the flower back on top of it. She then goes over to the compiler to have it make a frame. On the way, she picks up her tablet, and finally enters her name. The first one she'd actually chosen for herself, come to think of it. ‘Petal’ had just kind of… happened to her.
Then, she puts down the tablet to pick up the frame, and takes it over to the coffee table, then she puts the flower in the frame, and looks around her hab, before deciding to put it next to the door to her room, she puts the frame against the wall, and it readily accepts its new decoration. Then, she goes back to grab the tablet, and sends a message to Millie. An affini probably could have done all of that at once, or at least most of it, it’s not like they run out of vines the same way that humans run out of hands. So unfair.
PurpleFlower: Hey! I finally sorted out my account stuff.
PurpleFlower: I don't know if you remember me, I'm Petal. we met on the Asturtium?
PurpleFlower: you called me a good girl and gave me a makeover
Petal was just about to put the tablet down when there was the ding of a response. Apparently Millie’s mistress wasn’t too busy with her right now.
RainbowSprinkles: i almost got worried because i never heard from you
RainbowSprinkles: but þen i remembrered you had an affinini so everyþing was fine!
Oh right. Petal never actually told her about her not actually being a floret. It just never seemed worth it. She probably should tell her now, though.
PurpleFlower: Oh, actually I'm an independent?
Wow, Petal, smooth. Better just… quickly move on from that.
PurpleFlower: But I have great news!
PurpleFlower: I have an appointment to get on class-Gs!
PurpleFlower: In two days!
RainbowSprinkles: ur gonna be so CUTE!!!
RainbowSprinkles: u alredy are so its gonna be super amanzig!
RainbowSprinkles: u have to send me pics!
Petal can feel herself blushing. This happened the last time she saw Millie, too. Compliments from her seemed to have a way of just stopping Petal from being able to think about anything else. At first, Petal had thought that maybe Millie had been lying when she talked about how cute Petal was, probably trying to make her feel better, but it hadn’t taken Petal very long to realise that Millie didn’t actually seem like she could lie about anything, even if she wanted to.
RainbowSprinkles: we shud toltaly meet up!
Oh right. Petal didn’t even know that she was coming to Cordola when she met Millie, so it’s not like she’d know that Petal wasn’t on the Asturtium anymore.
PurpleFlower: Are you still on the Asturtium? I got off on Cordola
RainbowSprinkles: reely? so did we!
Millie was here? On Cordola? Petal should be overjoyed, but she just had this sinking feeling in her gut. Like everything was going to go wrong, like any kind of connection she could form would just be another way for everything to go wrong. That she’d finally have another friend, just to have to-
She hears a beep from her wrist. The Affini had taken their xenodrug laden cuff away, but Petal quickly found that it had actually helped her to have something to warn her when her thoughts were getting bad. She had compiled herself something similar to the Affini cuff, but without any of the xenodrugs or tracking stuff. And she could turn it off if she wanted to.
Petal stares at her pressed flower, and takes a few deep breaths. Nothing bad was going to happen to Millie. Even if Millie were an independent terran, the Affini wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her, but even the worst of the terran separatists knew better than to hurt an affini’s floret. Millie was going to be fine, and as much as Petal hated to admit it, she could really use a friend.
PurpleFlower: When can we meet up?