13 - Dense As A Sack of Bricks

by Fluxom

Tags: #cw:gore #cw:noncon #D/s #drugs #f/f #graphic_violence #hurt/comfort #scifi #accidental_conditioning #anxiety #blood #depression #disassociation #dom:female #dom:internalized_imperialism #dom:plant #Human_Domestication_Guide #medical_play #mindbreak #paranoia #self_care_is_over_were_doing_drugs_now #self_harm #self_harm_is_over_were_still_doing_drugs #sub:female #xenophobia
See spoiler tags : #awake_surgery #parasite/symbiote #plant_vampirism #sadomasochism #torture

cw for oblivious gay activity, and later a bout of self-harm adjacent hyperfocusing

Autumn was remiss to admit it but she actually quite liked getting adored. Her various social outings with Solanum were accompanied with another inspection first, often to make sure she brushed her teeth. Or, if Autumn simply couldn’t decide what to wear, Solanum was willing to handle dressing her too. Or, if Autumn had trouble sleeping the night before and was too tripped out on beta… whatever the number was, Solanum would simply handle basically everything involved in her care from toe to tip. 
Autumn was also remiss to admit that a large portion of the times were because she liked having Solanum’s attention and would thus intentionally leave herself a touch unkempt.

Inspections were a simple routine that started with words, and then quickly Autumn had figured out Solanum’s motions such that she’d follow simple gestures. Fingertips again the side of her jaw to open her mouth, against the side of her chest to raise her arms, the side of her hip to raise a leg, under her chin when Solanum wanted to move her head around, a gentle prodding on her back in the direction of somewhere she wanted to Autumn to walk towards, and countless other small acts of body language that slotted right into Autumn’s otherwise scattered memories for more precise things.

Over time Autumn found herself quite used to the routine overall and appreciative of how Solanum would run her hand through Autumn’s hair in a rare display of affection afterwards or, if she was feeling particularly bold, even hold her hand while they walked. 
“Autumn, dear.” Solanum spoke after one of many such inspections. “How would you like to go out to lunch together?”

Autumn blinked in surprise, then tried to mull over the idea in her head. “Go… out?”

“I suppose it has been a bit since you’ve been outside the affini hab ring, hasn’t it?” Solanum spoke as she smoothed the dark sleeves over Autumn’s scars. “I was thinking you’ve been on your best behaviour for a while now, and I feel it’s safe for you to be allowed free roam of the station again. So… lunch? There’s a restaurant on the market strip where my friends like to take their pets when they feel like spoiling them.”

“Not afraid I’ll get lost?” Autumn tried to tease just to get a reaction out of Solanum. Instead of the expected surprise or confusion though, all she got was a thoughtful rumble from within the affini’s chest before she reached up, tapped the front of Autumn’s collar, and pulled back her hand to reveal she had connected a vine to it in a makeshift leash. 
“There, now you’ll be right by my side no matter what.”

Autumn felt her face turn every possible shade of red in sequence, then invent a few new colors just so her ears could follow suit. “I, uh, this, ah, Sol, babe,-”

“What?” Solanum answered flatly like always.

“Isn’t this a bit, you know?”

“No, I don’t know.” Oh roots she was actually that dense wasn’t she? “You’re not wrong for worrying about getting lost, there are always crowds of people around the main paths and it’d be terrible for you to be caught up in them. This is the most reasonable method for us to stay together then.”

Autumn was sure that holding hands would accomplish the same feat nicely but was frankly too busy feeling like her brain was melting in embarrassment to say much of anything. This was absurd! It wasn’t how you lead around a friend, it was how you lead a- a- a-

Solanum gave the leash a small tug to pull Autumn’s attention back up to her. “Is there a problem, little one?”

“N-no, ma’am.” Her knees were absolutely not shaking in some confused feeling that was busy torching her forebrain. This MUST be some kind of confusion. Or the lingering effect of the drugs. Autumn decided that whatever it was that was messing with her head right now, it was most certainly the result of something being done to her and not coming from within herself.
“Good. Lunch then? I think you’ll quite enjoy it.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Autumn’s voice was a faltering mess of embarrassment that peaked into a surprised gasp as Solanum actually led her out into the hallways of the hab unit. The lead only gave her a few feet of wiggle room before it’d tug her back towards Solanum’s side. It felt… she didn’t dare finish her thought about what it felt. Whatever vague wisp of a thought she felt at the beginning of that line gave her a sense of nausea. Seeing other pets, all in a delirious haze, led by a similar sort of leash as they passed, only managed to make that vague nausea tighten around her gut as well.

The first breath of air outside the affini hab ring hit Autumn like a wall. She hadn’t realized how used to the feeling of the affini’s air she had gotten and the weird sparkling feeling it left over the surface of her brain as well. The human’s air felt all too cold and clean in comparison, and it left an aching sense of sobriety in her as she continued to breathe it in.

Autumn decided to not think about that too much. Instead she thought about more concrete things like how her reflection looked exactly like one of the affini’s dazed pets, with a bright colorful dress dancing around her in the slight breeze like a beautiful flower- Autumn decided to stop thinking about THAT too. She dimly felt that she was going to rapidly run out of things to think about at this rate. Other people? The humans she passed on their walk barely paid any attention to her, at most glancing up towards Solanum or sparing her a pitying glance like some sort of- hrm, no, not that either, then.

Autumn did her very best to try not to think of anything at all. As it turned out, having absolutely no thoughts and keeping her head empty was rather difficult when she didn’t have beta… something or another surging through her veins. She could probably ask for some, that would help. Though that felt like a bridge too far for her still.

“Would you like to get ice cream later?” Solanum turned to ask her, tugging her hand a little to draw Autumn closer through the crowd. The human had been so wrapped up in her own thoughts she barely noticed how she’d drifted from Solanum to the edge of her lead several times on the trip there.

Autumn stumbled forward from the tug and landed against Solanum’s body, hands instinctively going up to grab her vines for balance. “Ice cream?” She asked in a touch of confusion. That sounded really good, actually! “I’d like that a lot!” She smiled. The rest of the walk was a touch easier with the promise of one of her favorite desserts in mind.

Packed hallways quickly gave way to open corridors designed somewhat akin to a shopping mall. Chevroned windows along the ceiling revealed the expanse of space, with multiple floors of businesses and corporate stores that had been hastily retrofitted to fit the economic demands of their new owners. To Autumn’s surprise, Solanum bypassed the need to find stairs to go up by simply reaching up to grab a sturdy rail and lifting the two of them in a single graceful stroke. “Here we go,” Solanum’s voice seemed almost chipper as she set Autumn back down onto her feet beside her, and gestured to the restaurant before them.

Autumn was slightly less than surprised to see the main clientele seemed to be other affini and their dazed out pets. However, she was very pleasantly surprised to see that the far side of the restaurant opened up to a balcony area that looked over the wide open park of the station. Instead of the tight view within the mall, the park had a wide sweeping window above that curved down to the walls, giving the park the sense as if it floated through space if one stood far enough away from the two walls that connected to the rest of the ring.

“Table for you and your pet, ma’am”. The waitress had already led them to a table next to the end of the balcony as Autumn was lost in thought. Solanum gave her an appreciative pat on the head, and the woman’s eyes fluttered in delight at her touch. Ah, another pet then.

“She’s not my pet, but thank you little one.” Solanum answered as she lead Autumn into her seat.

The waitress looked perplexed for a moment, then raised a hand to her collar. “But… the leash?” Her brows furrowed in an attempt at thought.

“It’s so she doesn’t get lost, of course.” Solanum answered with a touch of confusion in her voice now as well. Oh dirt, she really was that dense. Autumn just quietly melted into her seat in embarrassment.

“Okay!” Their waitress answered in a tone that made it clear she didn’t really get it at all.

As it turned out, Autumn missed eating food that she didn’t have to be involved in either making or cleaning up after more than she would have thought.  Even if it was just appetizers, Autumn still felt a sort of deep contentment that eating at home hadn’t quite given her. She relaxed back into her seat, hands content over her stomach and head lazily dropping to one side to idly stare out over the park. “I think your friends gave good advice, Sol. This is a nice spot.”

Solanum hummed in affirmation, her own eyes lingering across the vegetation around them as well. In contrast to the human food, she only has a large glass of some red liquid she'd draped her roots into.

“Something on your mind?” Autumn prodded her affini with her foot against Solanum’s calf.

“I’m just remembering, I think the first time I ever saw you was right…” Solanum gestured to a patch of grass by the edge. “Over there.”

Autumn paused in silent contemplation, mentally rewinding everything back until the moment she was in this station again. The memories were hazy but… she could still feel the impression of having seen an affini in such a park before. Then panicking in belief that she was found out. The worry that used to rule her didn’t even manage to grasp at her heart anymore. She giggled. What a contrast. “Did you know I was a rebel then?” She asked.

“No, but if I did it would have made your little run more understandable.”

“I had thought you knew who I was and were going to detain me.”

“If I did I would have.”

“What would have happened then?”

“In the same circumstances?” Solanum gave a low rumbling hum as she pondered that. “I suppose you would have run either way, and you’d have ended up in some medics hands regardless, so…”

“No secret tricks for catching me before I ran off?”

“Little one, you darted the moment I saw you. So, no. You would have…” Solanum traced a finger along the edge of her chin. “Still ended up in the medical ward, but detained by heavy security instead. If we determined you weren’t a risk you’d just be kept under light sedation so we could ask you a few questions and if you were compliant then we’d send you off on the next affini ship as a lucky someone’s new pet.”

“Hrmm, no luck for me there then, huh?”

“You aren’t surrendering in this supposed timeline, so things wouldn’t quite play out as nicely for you there.

“Yeah, but we both know how it went when I *did* surrender.”

“Fair enough. More realistically given your psychological risk we’d have kept you under heavy sedation, performed a full medical exam, and then moved you into one of our life support pods that’d keep you under and safe until you were in the arms of an affini that could handle your needs.”

“Let me guess, my needs in this case mean drugging me, implanting me, and controlling my thoughts until I’m a happy little domesticated pet?”

“Assuming you don’t break down enough times that they throw up their hands and make you a class o pet instead.”

“So, probably that.” Autumn answered with a wry sort of chuckle.

“I think this is a better timeline, even if it’s a touch more busy for me.”

“What's up, sluts!?” A rough voice suddenly jolted the two to full alertness as they looked over to see Pyrus perched beside them. Solanum shot Autumn a small glare as if to say ‘this is your fault’ for the language. Exima poked their head out from behind him, followed by Allium right after.

Solanum muttered some VERY colorful affini curse words under her breath before she replied. “Pyrus, why must you insist on using those human curse words.”

Pyrus opened his mouth to answer, but Exima cut him off with a light ribbing to the side and slipping forward ahead. “Because he is a child who wants the humans to think he’s cold or whatever.” A muffled ‘hey!’ came out from behind Exima after that.

“I think he’s cool.” Autumn replied.

“See?” Pyrus poked his head up over Exima’s shoulders. “She gets it!”

Allium leaned over Exima, elbow on his shoulder to block out Pyrus again. “You don’t need to flatter him, little one. He doesn’t deserve it.”

“So what brings you three here anyway?” Solanum asked as the three other affini invited themselves into the open seats at the table.

“Exima got dumped.” Pyrus answered bluntly as ever.

“It’s true.” Exima bemoaned.

“They’re so sad that we’re taking pity and prancing them about crown until they feel better.”

“Also true.” Exima whined.

“With Daucus?”

“No, Lamium” Exima leaned forward, head in their hands. Solanum went wide-eyed, leaves out in surprise, muttering another rather colorful word under her breath in the process. “He wanted to go to the core systems, I wanted to stay out here. We both agreed it was time to part ways.” Exima leaned forward with a sad sort of sigh that culminated in them flopping face-first into the table. “I hoped it wouldn’t be bad since it was a mutual decision, but it still hurts.”

Solanum put a hand on their back. “I’m sorry.” Exima replied with something in their language, which Pyrus responded to in kind, and in short order the group of affini were chatting in their own tongue far faster than Autumn could keep up even with her limited grasp of it. She gave up trying shortly after and sat back waiting for her food to arrive, feeling vaguely that this must be what it’s like for the dogs at a family danner.

Mercifully, she didn’t have to wait long as soon the waitress returned with her lunch proper in tow, complete with a lovely drink and a set of silverware that includes- ah,

Sitting atop the set of silverware was a knife. Reflecting lights brilliantly off it’s metallic surface and sharpened point facing away from her. Was she allowed to have this? Autumn looked up towards Solanum and saw she was distracted consoling Exima’s broken heart (did affini have hearts?). She looked over to the other two, Pyrus and Allium, to see that they were entirely oblivious to her plight. Okay then. Maybe they didn’t care because nothing was wrong.

Autumn grasped the knife by the handle and was immediately struck by the unfamiliarity of the sensation. She hasn’t been allowed to even touch something like this in a while. For good reason, considering what was hiding under her sleeves, but. Well. Hrm. Autumn continued staring at the blade, slowly losing focus of the rest of the world as small beads of sweat started to form along the back of her neck. Okay then. She can handle a knife. This is easy. She’s done this plenty of times before. If it were a problem Solanum would have already taken it out of her hands. Just don’t think about turning the blade against her own skin and digging it into her wrists to draw blood. Definitely don’t ponder about whether or not the edge would even be sharp enough, or if she’d have to really force it against her skin to get something.

Autumn did not think about that at all. After all, if anything was wrong, Solanum would have stopped her. Ergo, nothing was wrong! At all!!

Despite reminding herself that Nothing Was Wrong At All, Autumn’s hand was still shaking while holding the knife. A soft yellow light blipped on from underneath her sleeves. Maybe something was a little wrong. A vine slipped around the handle of the blade in her hand and gently nudged it out of her grip, followed by a second vine just as gently taking her fork afterwards. “Here, little one.” Solanum spoke to her in a hushed tone. “No need to worry about that now, hm?”

A third vine rested under her chin to tilt her face up towards Solanum, then prodded the side of her jaw to prompt her to open her mouth. Meanwhile, the first two vines got to work slicing up her lunch and serving it to her. Autumn probably should have felt demeaned by this. But all she did feel was a sort of dull haze as she obediently followed Solanum’s gestures to enjoy her meal.

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