<"What do you mean she didn't know what a girl is?">
Granted, Hyacynthia waited until Amity fell asleep before pacing out of the room slowly and letting the human rest. Argonia waited for her outside, where the two of them engaged in heated conversation about the new turn of events so late into the white Affini's life.
<"Exactly what I just said. She literally asked me what a girl is, I had to explain to her the very concept of sexual dimorphism, which led to even more questions… I am not a biologist Argonia, I can't answer all of them for her."> A look of worry flashed across Hyacynthia's face, to which her friend chuckled softly.
<"Look at you, all worried over this one sole human. I'm going to admit, it's adorable how much you've grown attached to her."> One stern look from the former admiral was all that needed to bring Argonia back on track. <"Jokes and teasing aside, however… Maybe we can ask Xaxavex to come over? Explain to her about human biology and so on. I'm sure it knows far more than either of us do. Plus, it already treated her before. Familiarity and all that.">
Hyachnthia sighed. <"It's just that… She trusts me, but she's still afraid of other Affini. It'll take a lot of work to help her undo the fear that was instilled into her, but… Maybe you're right. She needs to talk to a professional, and a professional needs to talk to her.">
Amity Whitebloom, 1st floret had a lot to deal with. At least now she had a word to describe what she was. A girl. Turns out, everyone on the ship with her was male, and she was a fe-male, which sounded weird because it had the word male in it anyway. But, being called a girl made it simple enough. Would explain a lot about why she felt so much discomfort with her old self. It was… The wrong body for her, after all.
Though of course, it didn't stop there. Her Mistress, Hyacynthia, could only answer so many questions before having to refer her to someone else. And so, with Hyacynthia in the room to comfort her, she met with the Affini who apparently saved her life. Doctor Xaxavex Sildway, 8th bloom.
It was hard to talk to it. Mostly because Amity wasn't used to talking to a walking mass of vines with several eyes poking from random spots. At least the way it spoke was familiar enough for her. It was that same language she heard her caretaker speak in the gardens, if not more focused now. She still had no idea what the language meant, but with Hyacynthia there as a translator, she got enough information about her own condition to finally grasp her situation. And knowing that this doctor was the one who saved her life and gave her a new, more stable heart, was a good bonus on top of that.
Really, being a pet didn't seem that bad. Hyacynthia was there with her, and she made sure Amity was as comfortable as she could get. She even watched how Hyacynthia pulled out a branch, and grew a fruit right in front of her, or so that was the term for them. She's eaten them before, so it was fair enough. And enjoying the sweet taste was a welcomed reprieve from being fed through a tube.
Alas, she was still bed bound. Xaxavex told her that she is going to need some more time to adjust to her new heart before they could let her out, not to mention they needed to monitor her closely in order to make sure no abnormalities were found down the road.
At the very least, they opened the windows.
She never imagined a planet could have so much life on it. Not the silent, non-speaking plant life. But sophont life. She was apparently in a relatively high floor of some massive complex, which granted her a relatively nice view of everything the Affini Core world had to offer. There was so much! Glowing signs made of gentle vines that were modified to illuminate, clear skies as far as the eye could see, even if it wasn't much in her case. True, most of the further away buildings and structures were blurry and unparsable, but that didn't stop her from appreciating the colors. An entire rainbow of hues, from the white of her room to the furthest shining glint of the stars.
Speaking of her eyes… It was something the doctor asked her about. It said they could fix her eyes, but she refused. She was used to this now. A reminder of the journey she went, not of the person she was. And either way, she knew that her Affini wouldn't let her get hurt.
Her Affini. It was a nice thought.
It was only a few more short days of rest before Amity was allowed to leave her hospital bed. Xaxavex still seemed worried about her wellbeing, but her caretaker convinced it that Amity needed some time to socialize with other sophonts who weren't her prospective owner, said owner's friend, and the one doctor who's checking up on her.
Walking out to the hall felt overwhelming at first. So many sophonts and Affini. The halls themselves didn't even make a lot of structural sense, not to someone like Amity at least. Where she was used to square-ish halls and corridors with doors that lead to rooms, as it turns out, the Compact's home territory doesn't work that way. And the halls were less about the convenience of allowing one to step around with a pair of legs, as much as letting a plant-based lifeform move about in any direction they so choose. In fact, even the very room she woke up in was a relatively recent fabrication, made explicitly for her exclusive care and to ensure she wasn't overwhelmed upon waking up.
Not but before she was given something new to wear. It was called a sundress, and the one she was given was plain white, which accented her hair nicely.
Hyacynthia carried her from there. Using her own vines to climb down, all while resting Amity softly on her lap. In a sense, it didn't feel that much different from how they first met. A hurt human and a living world, learning to understand one another in their own way.
Once outside, however, it became utterly clear just how alien this world was. Almost every single building and home, or habitation unit as Hyacynthia explained, was grown out of the ground here. Trees, even bigger than the one she remembered, stretching endlessly into the sky and serving as homes and locations of interest for many an Affini living here.
She felt the urge to run again. To curl in fear. The only thing keeping her still and calm was her caretaker keeping her close physically. As it turns out, physical touch and intimacy didn't have to include pain or sweat. They could just be comforting and enjoyable.
The first place they visited seemed to be what Hyacynthia called a park. It was like her garden, but much smaller, though even then Amity couldn't see the end of it, impeded sight notwithstanding.
They sat down at a warm enough spot. The suns shining bright above them, filling both Affini and floret with energy. She didn't realize just how much the warm light of a sun could reinvigorate her. And for the first few minutes, things felt fine. She was just sitting there, feeling what she now knew as grass tickle her legs. She was even given a fruit to munch on, which busied her racing mind for the time being.
That is… Until she was noticed.
"Master, master! Look! There's another human here! Can we go say hi?" She looked up to see… Another human. A girl, which she could now tell, carried about by an Affini with a range of blossoms from purple to bright pink. The girl herself seemed to be so vibrant in hue. Her skin was glistening and healthy, and her hair was a mess of rainbow strands each of which tied together into a nice braid. Which prompted Amity to look at her own skin, and how utterly pale it was. A proper reflection of the Affini who she was with, if nothing else.
They began to approach, when Amity instinctively went behind Hyacynthia, shaking slightly. She felt a wooden arm hug her. "It's okay dear. Try and take deep, slow breaths for me, okay?" That soothing voice managed to break through her fear, and she slowly breathed as the human and her owner got close enough for a conversation, even if the other floret pouted as soon as they did.
"Aww… Is she shy?" The question was directed towards the white-clad Affini instead.
"In a sense, yes. But I'll ask her if she wants to talk." Hyacynthia turned around, pulling Amity just a wee bit closer. "Amity, do you want to try and talk to them? I promise you that I won't let any harm come to you."
"O-Okay." She managed to squeak out, as she felt herself lifted to Hyacynthia's lap. "This is Amity. She's a new floret, and is extremely delicate. So do ask her before attempting any physical touch, okay?" The other floret gave a nod and Amity was let down to the grass, as the other Affini sit next to her owner and began chatting with her.
"So, what's your name?" The rainbow floret asked. "My name is Emily, and I'm happy to meet you!" She came for a hug, but stopped herself short. "Can I… Hug you?" It dawned on Amity that this floret wasn't used to asking for physical affection, but she appreciated the sentiment all the same.
Amity thought about it a bit, and nodded. "I-I'm Amity. Nice to meet you." She leans in, and the other floret hugs her tightly, causing her to squeak a bit as she felt her chest get smothered. "Oh, sorry!" Emily let her go shortly after. "Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you."
A bit of awkward silence fell between the two before Emily finally spoke up. "So… What planet do you come from?" She mused. "To be honest I'm not really that familiar with the Core Worlds, Master only takes me here when he's visiting and that's not that often either.
Amity wasn't sure how to even begin and answer that. Would she just say she was a clone made with the express purpose of hating the Affini? "I… Was born on a ship, actually."
"Ooooh!" Emily's eyes sparked, quite literally, leaning closer to the irony maiden. "What's it like? I hear humans born on ships tend to be like, all floaty? I had a friend who was born on a ship, though I haven't seen them in a long while. Maybe I can introduce you two!"
"Oh, umm…" Memories of the captain yelling at her through the glass of the escape pod flashed against her mind. "I'd… Rather not talk about it…"
"But… Why?" Emily genuinely looked confused. "I mean… Are you okay? I've never really met another human who's this timid to be honest…" It occurred to Amity that her conversation partner may genuinely not grasp the concept of trauma. "I-I mean sure, sometimes you have a floret who's owner makes them all shy and reserved because they like it that way, but… Your Mistress doesn't look like she's into that?"
"I'm not sure I understood?" The more this talk kept on the more Amity looked utterly confused, which Emily clearly noticed.
"Umm… Hmm…" She looked to the purple and pink Affini who was currently busy speaking with Hyacynthia. "Hey Master?" She walked over and tugged his side. "Umm… Can you help me explain something to Amity?"
"Sure thing flower." Amity watched as the male Affini pat his floret's head and she practically melted in bliss. "U-Umm… So humans have been pets for forever, right?"
She got a nod of approval. That made Amity both confused and somehow worried. "But… Amity seems really sad? And I thought we didn't feel sad anymore?"
Now it was Hyacynthia's turn to interject. "Amity isn't like other florets, dear. She comes from a rather… unique origin." Emily's owner seemed to have caught on rather quickly, the pink glimmer in his eyes flashing in that alien gold hue as he pat his pet some more. "Mhmm. She might be a bit different, but I'm sure she's as nice as any other floret. Okay?"
"Okayyy~..." Amity couldn't help but stare as the other floret hugged her owner's side and melted away under the relentless pats, mewling and begging like she was born to do so.
She sat there, hugging her knees softly. She felt something come up inside her, an emotion that didn't feel so nice. She… Wanted to feel like that too? She wanted to be happy, that made sense. But somehow seeing Emily drown in bliss like that twisted that need into something else. And that something else made her get up, walk slowly towards Hyacynthia, and hug her side too, unsure if she's doing it right or not.
"Aww… Alright. I think she might need some time for her own." She felt Hyacynthia's leaves and vines drape across her long hair, and… She didn't feel that way. Or maybe she did? One look at Emily confirmed to her that she's just. Not the same. "Have a good day, you two."
The other Affini and his loving pet walked off, leaving Amity be. Only when they were far enough, did Hyacynthia address her pet with a soft voice. "You were feeling jealous, weren't you?"
Maybe? She didn't know. "I… Think? I just wanted to feel like her because she looked really happy and I didn't get to feel that way too…"
"Indeed… It's natural to feel jealous sometimes Amity. And it's okay. You see… Humans like Emily have been born into the life inside the compact from the very beginning. She doesn't know any other way of living, and that's okay. It doesn't mean your life is any less valid or worthy of love, I promise. She also seemed to be heavily dosed up on xenodrugs, not to mention her haustoric implant."
Amity nodded gently, leaning into her Affini caretaker. "Am I going to have to be like that too?..."
"The heuristic implant? Yes. But it's not that bad. It'll give me an easy way to monitor your health and administer medicine as it's required. As for being drugged up like that? Not unless you want it, sweetie. " She watched as Hyacynthia's head leaned in, and her lips pressed to Amity's forehead. It wasn't as intense as she saw it with the other floret but… The sensation was nice. "As your Mistress, it's my duty to love you and care for your needs in any way possible. You can be honest with me and ask me for whatever you wish."
Amity mused, tracing a finger against the soft grass. "What's… Love?"
Hyaycnthia held back a gasp, as another conversation about the complexities of emotions took place. A lot of things that Amity felt towards her Affini finally clicked into place, and for a brief moment, she almost felt okay with herself.
Until the scream of the human she killed passed through her mind. If only she deserved to be loved too…