“You can’t keep on like this.”
“Ophelia…” the affini in the room purred out.
Lamiaceae Nepeta, Eight Bloom, had spent her third bloom tending to an adorable Adirian sophont, and the resemblance to terran cats meant she had a particular affinity for feline shape and behavior. Principally, she had cat ears, but she had also learned to leverage her biorhythm into a close approximation of a house cat’s purr. It was soothing to Ophelia, she’d admit.
Ophelia hadn’t ever had a therapist this good, before. Admittedly, she hadn’t been able to afford many therapy sessions, and then there had been issues with Oncidium… Ophelia had been out of therapy a long time, and what she’d seen hadn’t been great, but Lamia actually listened. She offered real solutions to Ophelia’s problems.
Ophelia felt an ache in her heart, wondering what it would be like to be hers, but she knew Lamia was married to her job. And Ophelia had devotions of her own to stop it from happening.
A sharp prick in her arm, and the world sharpened.
“Did… did I…?”
“Yes,” Lamia frowned. “I am. Concerned, Ophelia. This is a bad trend. You can’t focus-”
“The class F’s help, when I need them.”
“If you can remember to take them. And you can barely walk, and yet you won’t use mobility aids, you won’t accept surgery, you won’t accept a health care worker aiding you even.”
“The surgeries would be wrong.”
“How do you know?”
Because the whole body is wrong, Ophelia thought to herself. But out loud she simply said, “I know because I’ve looked. Why would I do something as big as surgery if I don’t even like the results?”
“What do you mean, petal?”
“Do you need a class D?”
Ophelia clenched her knuckles.
“Then I need you to explain what we can do to make the results feel better.”
A long pause, before Lamia extended a needle from a flower, glistening already. Ophelia quickly continued.
“I don’t want to look human.”
Lamia tilted her head.
“Class G’s can help with that, if you wanted. And there are numerous affirming surgeries available, although many require a haustoric implant.”
“Mm. And that’s not an option. Besides, what I want is too extreme, from what I’ve seen.”
“And what do you want?”
“I want to be a creature of bone and ink and feathers. I want to fly instead of walk, and I don’t want all the gross squishy bits.”
“Not possible. I know. Look, it’s already four. Can I just…”
Lamia looked disconcerted, but she nodded.
“We’ll continue this next week.”
“Sure thing doc.”
And Ophelia left, but Lamia sat in thought while she waited for her next patient. They’d need to keep a better eye on Ophelia Lamark.
“I’m home,” Ophelia sighed as she entered the hab unit.
There was no response, but she hadn’t expected one. Not that she lived alone; quite the opposite. But Oncidium was a particularly nervous person since the Compact.
And why wouldn’t it be? Its existence was a crime. It shouldn’t be allowed to exist, by all Terran orders. And even if those were overturned by the Compact, what would it matter? It wasn’t really human. It wasn’t protected by a treaty.
Ophelia didn’t think domestication sounded that bad, but Oncidium did. It had been under the influence of someone else, controlling its thoughts before.
It was only after Ophelia had triple bolted the door (illegal modifications), taken off her coat, and started the tea water that Oncidium had clanked into the kitchen.
“Therapy go well?” it asked.
“Fine,” Ophelia said.
She must have looked off though, because Oncidium tilted its head. Its servos creaked. They really needed replacement, but since the invasion spare parts had been harder to come by. There needed to be justification, and Ophelia wasn’t going to risk an inspection, and Oncidium’s safety. The repairs would just have to wait until Ophelia could find the parts.
“Okay, it wasn’t fine,” she admitted.
“Poppy,” Oncidium started, “are… are you okay? Can I help?”
“I don’t think so. I just wish a new world had a place for us in it.”
She leaned forwards, falling into her best friend’s arms.
Best friend felt trite. So did partner, which they technically were, and to say anything else felt wrong. They were simply two non humans who existed in the same space and would be miserable without each other. It was a shame no one had made a word for that sort of thing.
“I love you very much, Poppy.”
“Yeah,” said Ophelia. “Yeah, I know.”