5 - Dead Paper

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

Solanum was laying face down in her bed again. It’d been a week since she first dosed Autumn and things had gone… well, since then. Or rather, as well as they could be considered. She was eating and drinking properly, calm during her daily exercise, only panicked a *little* when it came time for Solanum to dose her again.

The problem Solanum was having was two fold. One, she was too sapping cute.The morning after her first dose she had slept in all bundled up in a ball with a pillow pressed to her chest. When she awoke, it was with a glassy eyed haze and a calm smile that just made Solanum want to melt out of her wood entirely and- don’t! Think! About! That!

The second problem is that it was time to move her out of the medical wing. This elicited another round of debate about how she needed an affini who could handle her special needs, who didn’t have other pets on hand, so on and so forth until all the gazes in the room settled onto Solanum once more. She debated, protested, practically begged, then ultimately caved and proceeded to spend the rest of the day attempting to clean the mess in her living quarters.

Perhaps her depression really was getting to her, because now that she was actually paying attention to it her home was a trash heap. Shed leaves all over the place, clothes kicked about haphazardly, and books that were left wherever they fell. This was no place to raise a pet- NOT! a pet, Solanum reminded herself again. Just a human rescue that was exceptionally scared and confused and ill and required extensive personal care and was also technically a prisoner of the Affini Compact.

Perhaps the situation was a little unorthodox.

But this also left Solanum with more questions to answer. How much space would Autumn need? Did she need clothes? Probably. Should she be allowed to travel freely around the affini habitation ring? Tough call, would help her socialize but she could just as easily be frightened senseless and crawl even deeper into her metaphorical shell. What about food? Humans ate food, right? Solanum needed to prepare. She needed to do things.

So Solanum proceeded to lay face down in the bed for another hour.

“Sooooo, where am I going?” Autumn asked, always one step right behind Solanum and clinging to one of her vines closely. Sol would find it absolutely adorable were she not distracted by how awkward the situation was for her.

“There’s only so many places we can keep you for now, so…” Solanum trailed off. Every time they passed by another Affini Autumn made a small ‘eep’ noise and tucked herself closer under Solanum’s vines. Probably wasn’t ready to socialize then. At least she felt safe around Sol. “You’re going to be staying with me for now.”

“Are you *sure* you’re not trying to make me your pet?” Autumn poked her head around and stared up at Solanum inquisitively.

“No!” Solanum shouted suddenly, and once more immediately cursed herself out for it. Autumn had jumped backward at the sudden outburst, hands raised over her head defensively and shaking visibly in worry. “I- sorry, no, I’m not trying to turn you into a pet or anything. But you’re still technically our captive and thus our responsibility and I’m the only one able to take care of you for now. So.” Solanum gestured weakly. “We’ll be living together, I guess.”
"For how long?"
"Until I determine that you're well again and we decide what to do with you."
"Well, what are the options?"
"We can't release you back to the human government for obvious reasons, so either we're going to have to find you somewhere in Affini space and release you there or get you set up in a good home."
"So I'm not being turned into a pet now, but it can still happen later." Autumn's shoulder slumped visibly at that.
"If you demonstrate that we can't leave you to your own devices or ask to be taken in, yes."
"Who would ask for that?"
Solanum paused and turned to face Autumn directly. “Didn’t you call us in on yourself?”

“I-” Autumn forze in place. “I, uh, well, yes but I didn’t actually *know* what I was getting into and-”

“I know, I know, you were under extreme mental duress and didn’t fully comprehend your actions.” Solanum quietly gestured for Autumn to come in close again, which she did by quietly slinking in underneath Sol’s cover of leaves once more. Sol tried, and failed, to not reminisce about the many times that Streum had been in the same place, pressed up against her body and chuffing comfortably against her. She couldn’t escape the memory of reaching down and running her hands along Pollyon’s horns or feeling Streum’s fur flow under her touch and-

“Uh, Solanum?”

Sol blinked out of her visions and realized that her hand was resting on top of Autumn’s head. “Sorry,” She said brusquely and tucked her hand behind her back. “Force of habit, I guess.”

The two walked in an awkward silence from there, until Autumn quietly spoke up once more. “You looked distracted,” She said. “Were you… thinking about someone?”

“I’m not ready to talk about that.”

Autumn was, as per the new norm, incredibly confused. At this point though, she had learned to throw up her hands on trying to parse things and just asking Solanum. That was just easier, even if some part of her brain kept nagging her about how that was an intended goal and some kind of pre-domestication practice or just to get her guard down or- oh they were in the affini habitation ring now.

The stark difference in feel from the shared space to affini space was immediate upon passing through the border. The air became thick and warm with a vague, heady sort of feeling that sent sparks dancing over the surface of Autumn’s brain. Her initial step faltered into an awkward shake, followed by leaning heavily on Solanum for the remainder of the trip.

The halls felt too large, the doors too tall, the vegetation claustrophobic. ‘Designed for affini’, she had to remind herself. It wasn’t too big, she was simply small in their world. She felt especially out of place now. Like a- no, don’t finish that thought.

The other affini she passed were friendly, though she didn’t understand a word they spoke with Solanum along the way. When one reached out in Autumn’s direction she flinched and ducked behind Sol. To her relief, Sol took the hint and draped her cloak of leaves over Autumn to hide her away from further interaction for the rest of the walk. Not that it stopped her from occasionally peeking out from between the vines, especially whenever another human happened to pass by.

They all wore the same dreamy expression on their face. A sort of distant bliss punctuated by a gasp of awe whenever their owners showed them any affection. They didn’t even seem to recognize her presence really, not with how unfocused their eyes were. As they passed she even noticed a small scar along their necks, all of the same size, shape, and location.

She couldn’t get those people out of her mind even as they left her vision. The way they walked, the way they talked, they way they *adored*. Unbidden thoughts echoed their clumsy footsteps and dreamy movements but with her body in their place. With a leash attached to the collar that suddenly felt so heavy on her neck. She imagined Solanum running her hand along the side of her face and under her chin, tipping her face up to look into those dull red eyes-

“We’re here.” Solanum spoke, and Autumn immediately tripped over her own heel and fell forward. Solanum’s vines grabbed her with little effort on their part and pulled her back up to a standing position. Sol herself didn’t even flinch. “Hab unit 82-4e.” She tapped a sign next to the massive door. “I’ll have the door coded to your collar so you should be able to go in and out without trouble. For tonight though I’ll need you to stay inside, understand?” Autumn nodded, now silently flooded with embarrassment. She hurriedly walked in after Solanum, and in her haste stumbled headfirst over a waist-high mountain of books. Solanum once again caught her, and this time lifted her body over the stacks of books to deposit her into some kind of chair instead.

Ah. Solanum must’ve been much more depressed than she was willing to let on. This place… was a mess. Books stacked haphazardly onto themselves over the floor, chairs, and desks. A stack of half-heartedly folded clothes were thrown over the back of a couch or sticking out from behind a door. All in all it seemed as if Solanum had, over the course of about ten minutes, desperately attempted to make the place seem even a facsimile of livable for her.

This was just sad. Now Autumn felt sorry for the affini of all things. Maybe she’d be able to sneakily tidy this place up if she was going to be stuck here for now.

"Here is the kitchen. I've already stocked it with some food, though I couldn't stock any knives for silverware. Or forks, actually. So, uh…" Solanum paused, her vines curling inward awkwardly. "We'll figure that out later, I guess. Over here is where I sleep.” She gestured to the door that was slightly ajar with clothes spilling out, then nudged the clothes back inside to close it completely. “You’re free to enter anytime you need though I ask that you avoid doing so unnecessarily.”

“Keeping any dirty secrets in there?” Autumn teased.

“If I see you rustling through my things like a lonely dog too often I might just decide to treat you like one.” That might have been a joke, but it was hard to tell with how flat Solanum’s affectations were. Regardless, that shut off any further jests from Autumn.

“Over here is the… what do you call it? Living room?” Autumn stepped into the next room, where empty book shelves stood in contrast to the variety of books all over the floor. A large elaborate couch filled most of the center space, and given the difference of scale Autumn felt as if she could lay down in it, splay out her limbs, and only barely reach the edges. “I got you a tablet for personal entertainment. If you need something more then feel free to help yourself to whatever is around. Or ask for it and I’ll see about getting it for you.”

Autumn stood at the entrance to the living room and stared at it. Something felt off, and she couldn’t quite click what until she took a step in and felt a leaf crunch underfoot. That was it. Dead leaves, dead paper, a couch fit to sleep in, and Solanum. There wasn’t anything else in the room, no photos, no wallpapers, no plants, no signs of life.

“Solanum, you need help.” Autumn said automatically, then gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.

Solanum froze in place. Her leaves seemed to stand on end for a moment, her eyes wide open and her fingers curled awkwardly. “This is the restroom,” She continued on as if nothing had happened. “It should be compatible with your physiology. Next to it is the bath. It’s built for my size so be careful using it.”

“Solanum,” Autumn crossed her arms and tapped her finger.

Sol walked up to a curtain and pulled it aside to reveal a small bedroom. Well, small for her scale. To Autumn it was unreasonably large. There had already been a bed her size set up there next to a chevroned window to space. Next to it was a luggage case and…

Well that room had nothing else in it either.

“This will be your space. Feel free to redecorate as you wish. I won’t intrude there unless invited or emergency mandates.”

“Solanum, it’s plain as day that you’re not okay.” Autumn tried to step in front of Solanum to interrupt her prepared speech, but all she managed was to get stuck between stacks of books and awkwardly flop onto the couch instead. 

“Upstairs is largely storage, I ask that you don’t go there simply so you don’t accidentally get hurt by anything I have up there.” Solanum brushed right past her and walked directly to her door, one hand sliding it open as she unceremoniously kicked the pile of clothes that attempted to spill out. “If you need anything else, let me know and I’ll take care of it.”

“Sol, wait-”

Solanum slid the door shut behind her and a pronounced click resounded as it’s lock sealed.

Autumn sat there in disbelief. She’d just… ignored her!? Confusion quickly turned to anger, and anger turned into a righteous fury. How could she do that!? She’d spent all that time fussing over her human problems while literally rotting away surrounded by metaphorical corpse material!!!! “Solanum Vitis you IRRESPONSIBLE-” Her voice cut off as one of her cuffs gave a small chirp and started showing a blinking yellow light. Right. Calm down. Take inventory. She now lives in an affini hab ring apartment with a plant that's highly focused on a human’s well being while simultaneously resigned to empty depression for herself.

Autumn had seen more than a few rebels be taken by the empty ennui of despair. Ones who broke down crying. Ones who wasted away. One in particular who just… stopped. Medical review found nothing wrong with her body, but she didn’t respond to any external stimuli anymore. She just lay in bed, staring blankly forward, until they were forced to abandon her at a medical facility and hope for the best.

Autumn decided that she didn’t want to see Solanum end up like that. It simply wouldn’t be fair after all she’d done for her. Autumn sat upright and looked upon the task before her. Step one: Clean this place and breathe some life into it.

That quickly proved to be harder than she’d like to achieve because she couldn’t read affini to understand any of the books and her strength still hadn’t completely returned. So all she actually accomplished was moving a few stacks from one side of the room to another, and lightly sorting them by color. But it was a start! And not once did she stop to think about that nagging feeling that she didn’t deserve any of this or that Solanum would come right out of her room and start beating her with a metal rod. Progress!

With a job well done Autumn flopped down upon her new bed, tossed the random selection of blankets over herself, and went off to sleep enjoying the view of the stars.

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