Fen kept her eyes locked on the floor as she followed Mera to Bree's room. She hated that she had to do this. She never meant to hurt Bree, she just got too excited. She wasn't going to let it happen ever again.
Mera stopped Fen outside the door to Bree's room, "Wait here for a moment while I talk to her"
Fen stepped back, allowing Mera to enter the room.
Fen could hear them talking through the walls but it was too muffled to make out any words. They were talking about her. What were they saying!? She had to know.
Fen eyed the door, suppressing every urge to burst through it and demand them to spill what they were saying about her. Maybe she should press her head to the door to listen in without them ever knowing.
She held herself back. This was exactly why Bree was mad at her in the first place; she didn't need to make it any worse.
The seconds counted up as Fen grew more and more impatient.
'It's fine' she told herself over and over. Things were going to be fine! She'd apologize to Bree and everything would work out just great!
The door slid open, revealing Mera, "She's hesitant, but she agreed to talk with you." Mera stepped back into the room, allowing Fen to enter.
Bree was sitting up in the bed with her arms crossed over her stomach. She was staring Fen down as she watched her approach. Fen would have found her pouting face adorable had she not felt so awful.
"hi Bree," Fen gave her a timid wave hello. Bree didn't respond at all.
"I'm sorry." she apologized, "I didn't mean to hurt you. I just thought…" that wasn't right, she wasn't thinking, or she hadn't been when she drugged Bree. "well… I guess I wasn't thinking. But I wanted to help you. I saw you hurting and wanted to do everything I could to fix it but I got excited and I messed up.” Bree shifted in the bed, Fen continued. “I’m so sorry, and I get it if you don’t want to see me again, I just had to apologize because I did something stupid.”
Bree’s expression changed. Her lips weren’t locked into the harsh frown from before, they were slightly parted, she looked like she wanted to say something, but she didn’t know what. Fen looked up at her eyes, her brow was still furrowed but she didn’t look angry anymore.
An uncomfortable silence settled over the room as Fen watched the terran’s reaction play out on her face as she processed the things Fen had said, until eventually, Bree broke the silence, “Okay”
“Okay?” Fen repeated.
“Okay,” Bree nodded, “Apology accepted.”
Fen could almost feel several new flowers blooming all along her vines. That was the best thing she could have possibly said… Well maybe not the best thing, but It was an awesome outcome regardless.
“But” Bree interrupted Fen’s mental celebration.
It was fine, Fen wasn't expecting a ‘but’ but it would be fine! That just meant Bree was willing to work things through.
“You don’t get to drug me, I don’t know what’s up with that but you should definitely ask before you inject someone with anything”
Fen could work with that. It wasn’t the greatest, but hopefully she’d be able to build her trust back up and figure things out from there, “That sounds good to me” Fen looked at Mera who was smiling to herself in the corner, clearly pleased with the compromise between the two.
“So… what now?” Fen asked Bree, who offered an unsure shrug in response, “Okay, Well I guess I’ll see you later then?”
“I guess so,” Fen left the room
Fen didn’t know how she felt. Of course, she was thrilled that Bree hadn’t outright refused her apology, or even worse, denied her the opportunity to apologize in the first place. It was a hollow victory. Bree was still apprehensive of Fen, it was reasonable, but it hurt to know that Bree thought of her in a negative light so soon. Maybe it was for the best that Bree started with the worst impression of Fen. Now, Bree’s opinion of her could only get better.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bree couldn’t help but feel restless. It had been nearly five days since arriving and she was desperate to see anything other than the plain white room. A few Affini would visit her every day to check up on her or deliver food and her new prescriptions. It took a while for her to get used to the plant aliens instead of the humans that she’d been used to, but it was becoming less and less of a shock when they would show up at her door. That made it quite a shock when Mera came in with another human trailing behind her.
Bree figured he was fairly tall, but he still couldn’t compare to the Affini’s height. Bree’s eyes locked onto him the moment he appeared behind her. Who cared about the plant blooming from her leg, there was another human!
It was a relief to see another human, she’d begun to feel so out of place, but seeing this man quelled her anxieties, she wasn’t completely alone out here. She wasn’t alone alone, there were the Affini here taking care of her, but it was nice to see another real human face and not the approximations of faces that the Affini had made of leaves, wood, and vines.
Bree waved to the man as Mera began inspecting the wound on her leg, but the man didn’t respond, It was like he hadn’t even noticed Bree. Why would he be here if he wasn’t going to assist in her care at all?
Then Bree saw it; his collar.
He had an actual collar. There was a skin-tight black band that wrapped around his neck proudly announcing that he was a pet.
Calyx hadn’t been joking, the Affini did make humans into pets. She needed to do whatever she could to avoid ending up like the man before her, his eyes glassed over as he blindly followed Mera as if she held him upon a leash.
“Well, Ms. Bree, it seems as if your leg has been healing up nicely” Mera twisted her mask into a crooked smile, “You’ll be out and about it no time whatsoever! We’re just going to place you into Cal’s care until you’re healed enough to properly take care of yourself.”
Bree continued looking at the man… or would it be more correct to only call him a pet now?
Mera seemed to notice her lack of a response, “Oh! So you’ve noticed Wyatt!” She turned to face him, “Wyatt, pet, look at me,” She snapped. That seemed to get his attention as he turned to face the two. “I apologize, He’s a little out of it right now. He’s coming down from a rather intense xenodrug high, He would have been with his owner had she not been called in to help with a new batch of domestications that just came in.” She looked back down at Wyatt as his gaze lost focus and began to wander around the room once more, “Not that I’m complaining, he is rather cute. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Bree froze up at the question. What was she supposed to say? ‘Yes this human being who you have turned into a pet is cute’ That was ridiculous! She simply nodded awkwardly in response to the odd question.
Mera smiled at Bree’s agreement before resuming her professionalism and returning to the topic of her care, “So! Calyx will be here shortly to take you to their hab and then I can free up this room for someone else!”
“Wait? that fast?” Bree’s mind was trying to keep up, there was so much happening, She’d expected to get at least a day or two of warning. Sure she’d gotten bored of the room but she wasn’t ready to be kicked out so abruptly. “What about… What about my sleep! I need you to help me sleep or I’ll get nightmares again!”
“Bree, honey” Mera knelt on the floor beside Bree and held her hands reassuringly, “Cal can take care of that too. Nearly every Affini has access to xenodrugs, not just me. I'm sure They’d be more than happy to help you with anything you need for the week, and then we’ll work out what’s next, okay?”
It didn’t help Bree’s nerves much, but Mera didn’t seem intent on letting Bree stay much longer and Bree had to accept that. Bree took control over her breath again. She needed to prove that she was stable so she didn’t end up like Wyatt and having a panic attack about the thought of moving rooms wouldn’t do her any favors on that front. She was eventually able to mostly calm herself and nod to Mera, "Okay… thank you for everything" she motioned to her leg.
"Of course darling, I'll see you in a week to get those flowers out" Mera turned around and left the room, Wyatt following shortly after.
Calyx opened the door to Bree's room and stepped inside with a huge smile on their face, "Alright Bree! Are you ready to get out of this hospital?"
"I guess? I wasn't expecting this today, but to be honest I was getting bored as heck so I guess now is as good a time as ever." Bree shrugged, masking her panic.
"Okay then," Cal stepped to the side of the bed, "here let me help you," Cal offered a hand and several vines for Bree to support herself as she climbed off the bed.
Bree slid to the edge of the bed and dangled her feet over. It had only been a few days, it shouldn't be that hard to walk right? But just to be safe… Bree grabbed onto two of Calyx's vines and hopped off the bed.
Her feet hit the floor and for a moment things seemed to be going well. That was, until her leg collapsed at the first command to step forward. The vines in her hands had reduced the load on her legs but it wasn't enough to keep her up, but several more vines wrapped around her limbs before she smashed her head into the floor and concussed herself.
"Alright nope," Cal lifted Bree up and held her close to their chest and started walking, "I'm just going to carry you back to my hab"
"What!?" Bree cried, "don't you have like… wheelchairs or something?" she tried to wriggle her way out of the vines but they only tightened around her more.
"Oh thank the stars" Bree relaxed as Calyx carried her, presumably to wherever the wheelchairs were stored.
Calyx made a rumbling noise from deep within their chest, "We do, But. It would be a whole ordeal to sign off all the paperwork to use it just the once. And besides, carrying you is so much more fun" one of Cal's metallic eyes seemed to dim for a moment before returning to its usual navy hue. Were they… trying to wink at her?
Bree didn't want to admit it, but being carried like this was oddly relaxing. She didn't have to worry about where to go or keeping up with anyone she was walking with, she could just relax.
How long had it been since she'd been able to actually relax? She'd been a mess of nerves and anxiety ever since the war started in full, so that ruled out nearly seven months all on its own. Before that she'd been out of her parents house for nearly four months, she definitely hadn't relaxed at all in that time. Her most generous guess put her at a full year. Had it really been that long? Surely not, there had to have been some days that she spent on herself? No. Even on the days she took for herself she was actively trying to distract herself, those hardly counted.
It really had been a year since she'd been able to stop worrying and let herself drift off. She really wanted to complain but it was far too easy to sink into Cal's soft vines and leaves to drink in the sweet fruity scent that permanently wafted off of them. Bree liked it too much, but she couldn’t let Cal know. Maybe they'd make her a pet if she showed any signs of weakness.
They carried her through several halls and out into a far more open space, it almost looked like the old pictures of terra she’d seen rolling hills, grass, trees; it was so… nice. She could feel the warmth of the light on her face, it was so calming. She almost wanted to close her eyes and soak up all the artificial starlight that she could. There were dozens of affini, terrans, and other races milling about the place, enjoying everything that the area could offer. The few interstellar ships she’d been on hardly had enough room for showers. How did the Affini have any luxuries like this on their ships? Maybe this was just a leisure ship. But… that didn’t make sense, why would they have captured her settlement in what was essentially a cruise ship?
“Cal,” Bree called for their attention, “what kind of ship is this?”
“Just a transport ship,” They stopped walking to focus on Bree, “Why do you ask?”
“A transport ship? That doesn’t make any sense, how can you afford all this?” she motioned to the open park around her.
Cal laughed, “Oh honey, you have no idea do you?”
Bree was confused as ever.
“Affini don't do money. Why should we? There’s more than enough of everything to go around”
“Wait then why do you have a job? Why are any of you doing any of this?”
“Well, silly little terran” Cal booped her nose, “It’s because we want to. Mera likes being a doctor, I like my job, that’s why I do it. Unlike your Terran Accord, we try to make sure everyone is cared for” Cal resumed walking through the park.
That couldn’t be right, could it?
Bree knew the Accord was shitty, but was it really possible to just get rid of money as a whole? Why hadn’t they even been trying to take care of everyone?
Cal carried Bree into another hallway. Bree only barely noticed, her mind still caught on the Terran Accord. They should have taken care of her. She shouldn’t have had to-
Cal stopped abruptly, “Alright, Bree, here we are!”
There wasn’t anything special about the door, which genuinely surprised Bree. With how extravagant everything else had been she almost expected each door to be specifically catered to each Affini, but looking down the hallway revealed an expanse of near-identical doors with only a few with any sort of decorations. Bree tried to get a closer look at them but they were all too far away for her to make out anything but the vague shapes dotting the white walls.
Bree had never really been in a place to comprehend just how much bigger the Affini were. She’d been around almost exclusively Affini for the past week, but it didn’t prepare her for the scale of an Affini-centric living space. Everything was so big.
Cal carried her into the central room of the hab unit, placing her on a couch that was much bigger than any bed she’d ever seen, let alone slept on. She could only imagine how big the bed would be.
“Stay there for a moment,” Cal said, as if Bree could go anywhere anyway. The drop off the couch alone was nearly four feet, she was definitely stuck. Even from her position on the couch she felt so small, she’d feel so much smaller when she was eventually on the floor. She scanned the room, her eyes coming to rest on the window opposite the door. It led straight out into space, she couldn’t even see the planet that she’d been on until the prior week. No doubt that the ship had long abandoned the still unnamed planet, maybe even the system entirely. There was no telling how fast or how far the Affini ship could have travelled from what was supposed to be her home.