What Sunlight Tastes Like

Chapter 1

by Fallenlog

Tags: #asexual #Human_Domestication_Guide #scifi #sub:male #dom:the_inescapable_reach_of_the_affini_compact #m/m

Just your friendly neighborhood ace indulging in the fantasy of an "adult in the room" saving humanity from the throes of late stage space age capitalism.

Herschel cowered behind the couch. He hadn’t done this since he was small, and the size of this couch harkened back to those early years. Everything in the hab unit and aboard the Sphenophylla felt that way. Familiar, mundane objects far too big for an adult terran to use without looking ridiculous. Looking ridiculous, that was a lark. Herschel tugged at the collar clasped snugly around his neck. He often found himself forgetting it was there, much to his chagrin. 

The more unsettling thing he kept forgetting was his right arm, or rather lack thereof. Most of his right side was bandaged up, and whatever painkillers the Affini had given him were working to an absurd degree. Not only did he feel no pain, but his usual anxiety wasn’t there. It struck him as odd that he was more conscious of his lack of anxiety than the lack of one of his limbs.

“Come on out little flower” a sing-songy voice crooned. “I don’t bite.” Herschel tensed up, inches away from peeking his head out from behind his less-than-hidden hiding place. His breathing sped up, but as the now-familiar placid calmness washed over him he managed to squeak out a “N-no thank you”. There was a pause before the couch moved slightly as the Affini sat down on it. “When you do feel like making an appearance, I’ll be here reading. Just remember, when it’s time to sleep you’re coming with me no matter what. I won’t let my new floret spend the night on the ground.”

Herschel jumped as a tendril snaked its way behind the couch. It didn’t make any sort of attempt to grab him or even probe around for him, instead just laying there. Tip-toeing around it, Herschel stepped out into the open. He stole a glance upwards at the massive arboreal titan lounging on the couch: Connifred Myrtales, third bloom. His new owner. 

The Affini looked up from his book, meeting his floret’s gaze for a moment before Herschel cast his eyes downwards. Connifred smiled and extended a vine to him. “Let me help you up.” Herschel steeled himself before reaching out and taking the vine in his hand. More vines snaked down and gently scooped him up, placing him onto the couch next to Connifred. Once seated on the massive sofa, the vines retreated into the Affini’s body leaving Herschel still holding the first vine. 

The vine felt comforting against his skin. It gave off a slight heat, and had a flexibility to it unmatched by any Terran plants Herschel could recall. Connifred turned the page of his book and snuggled into the couch, beckoning Herschel over. The vine Herschel held gently tugged him towards Connifred, into a position next to his lap. Herschel cautiously leaned against the Affini and felt himself relax. 

Breathing deep brought a scent of cloves and pine and Herschel found himself slipping away from the waking world. 

“Private Goldbaum, wake up!” Herschel jolted upright at his post aboard the newly rebel-affiliated Regan’s Glory. He’d been standing watch next to the hangar entrance, now considered a “vulnerable point of entry” by the Affini forces. After what happened to the CNS Gabriel’s Horn, every less-than reinforced window or point of entry was considered ripe for invading vines to smash through at any moment. 

Being only a private, Herschel wasn’t going to be stationed anywhere particularly important. Especially after his first major outing with his Strike Command unit had him fleeing from battle at the first sign of trouble. He was teased mercilessly for this fateful act of cowardice, especially when it became known that the sign of trouble that sent him running was nothing more than practice rounds going off. 

Strike Command was the tip of the spear. The rebellious hotshots with something to prove, and the first in line to be cannon fodder. “Swift and unencumbered” was a fancy way of saying “not granted proper combat armor”, at least for the front lines. There were valiant, undaunted Terran Strikers, and there was Herschel. He hadn’t the brains nor connections to be a scientist or engineer, and at that moment he wanted nothing more than to be back in his bunk re-reading one of his favorite pulpy mystery novels. 

“Damn weeds could be on us at any moment.” The commander muttered to himself angrily. “Apologies Commander Ventura, this has been my 14th hour on duty!” Commander Ventura turned around and got right up in Herschel’s face. “Did I ask you for an excuse!?” Herschel was thankful for his helmet’s air filter as the fog from the commander’s breath obscured his vision. “You’re nothing but a coward, filled with excuses in the vague shape of a man!” The commander stomped away and Herschel steeled himself, firmly deciding that when trouble came and it was time for action, he wasn’t going to run. 

“Fight or flight” is often used to describe the basic Terran instincts when faced with danger. There’s a seldom mentioned third option too, but “Fight, flight, or freeze” doesn’t have the same ring to it. Herschel was sure he wasn’t going to run, and when the time came to put his new resolution into action, he unfortunately became well-acquainted with the fabled “third option”. 

Herschel felt himself being lifted up and jolted awake. Vines surrounding him like the bars of a gardener’s prison. He was pulled close to Connifred’s chest, and the familiar warmth and scent drained the fear from his body. He lazily ran his hand against the cloak of leaves and fir needles that covered the Affini’s broad torso. 

Connifred rustled jovially at his floret’s touch. His first Terran had already captured his heart and he couldn’t wait to further get to know the little lovely once they’d gotten better acclimated to their new home. Saguaros had warned him that Terrans formed bonds easily, but experiencing it was a leap beyond reading or hearing about it. 

Not wanting to disturb his tranquil terran, he carefully lay down onto the bed, keeping his floret steady against his chest. There. Safe and sound. The way he could feel his floret’s body respirating was calming. A constant in and out that marked his presence even when fast asleep. Truly a blissful moment. 

Connifred’s eyes widened when he realized he’d forgotten to ready his terran to sleep. He groaned internally at the realization that he’d need to get up from their cozy place in bed, but the internal groan morphed into excitement when he realized that he’d get to clean his adorable new floret in the bath.

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