Bree was making excellent progress. It had only been two days and Calyx was impressed by her resilience. Bree could stand on her own once more and only needed little assistance walking, for which Cal had crafted a wooden cane for her. Cal had seen her gently poking around the flowers that had sprouted from her leg. After the first time it sedated her, she'd lost her initial apprehension for the implant, having seemingly replaced it with a calm curiosity.
Bree's curiosity was something that Cal hadn't expected. The otherwise timid girl could go on and on asking questions about the Affini. It might have been annoying if it weren't so adorable to see her interest sparking up upon seeing something new along with the dozens of questions that would inevitably follow. Cal, of course, was happy to answer them. It gave them something to talk about while they watched over Bree as she practiced using her leg once more.
Another important aspect of Bree's stay with Cal was evaluating whether or not she would need to be domesticated or not. Cases like hers were always a little tricky. She'd been immediately opposed to the idea of becoming a floret, but with Terrans as young as her it was often the case that they needed the care of an owner even if they wouldn't admit it. The only thing for Cal to do was to wait and see how she held up.
"Calyx?" Bree called from the living space, interrupting the reports Cal was making.
"Yes, Bree?" Cal said as they exited their room, to see Bree leaning against a couch with as much of her upper half on the seat as she could manage.
Bree had more or less claimed the larger couch as her own; she spent a good amount of her time on the couch, sleeping or doing whatever on the datapad that she'd requested; Cal never asked. Bree usually needed help climbing up, the seat was nearly her height, but even in the low gravity of the ship her injury kept her from climbing up on her own. However, her inability to climb up did not prevent her from trying her hardest.
"Darling, you can just ask me to help you up in the first place" they strolled across the room and lifted Bree onto the seat "you don't need to get stuck before requesting my help."
Bree pouted as she straightened up on the cushion, "but I should be able to take care of myself!" she flopped back into the seat and threw her hands to the side in frustration.
"Bree, honey, you're recovering from an injury, you don't need to prove anything right now. What you do need, is care, which is why you're here" Cal gestured to the hab. "You might be able to take care of yourself normally, but not in an Affini hab, and definitely not while you can hardly walk." They lifted her cane from the floor and set it to her side.
“But… I- You shouldn’t have to do-”
“But I don’t have to,” Cal reminded her, “I want to” Bree sank into the couch even more, “Now, darling, It’s time for bed” Cal sat down next to her and prepared the sedative flower that Mera had suggested they use for her.
Bree grumbled to herself in quiet resentment and pulled away from the vine.
“Now, Bree. You’re under my supervision for the week, but tomorrow I have a few errands to run but you’re going to need to come with me, so you can either sleep now” Cal nudged the flower closer to Bree, “Or you can sleep tomorrow while I carry you around the ship, and get my business done, The choice is yours, I don’t mind either way”
Bree’s face went completely flush, “Okay” She squeaked, “Now is good”
“Good girl” Cal purred, offering the vine once again. This time Bree quickly buried her face in the flower, clearly trying to hide the blush that had spread all across her face. Bree’s eyes quickly lost focus as she inhaled the airborne drugs. Calyx watched closely as the drugs took hold. Bree’s eyes drifted closed and she began snoring softly into the flower. Cal retracted the vine and laid Bree down on the couch before heading back to their room for the night.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Waking up was hard. Bree was so comfy, why should she have to get up? With the recent disappearance of her recurring nightmares, she’d gotten the best sleep in as long as she could remember. Eventually, she had to get up though, there were lots of noises coming from somewhere nearby, and it was getting to be too much for Bree to ignore. Cal had already gotten up for the day and was moving about the living space, but that wasn’t particularly surprising. Apparently, the Affini needed less sleep than humans did, so Cal was typically up before Bree even started to wake.
Bree pulled herself up on the couch, resting her body against the huge armrest. As she began to move, Cal seemed to notice that she had awoken. They turned their attention to her as she began taking in her surroundings.
“Oh, Bree! Good, you’re awake! I was beginning to worry that I’d have to dress you and bring you along with me before you even woke up”
Calyx hadn’t been serious about that, had they? There was no way they’d actually carry her sleeping body through the ship if she’d refused the drugs. She’d been planning on accepting them anyway. She just needed to keep up her refusal act until Cal released her to live on her own. The Affini wouldn’t make her a pet if she was a bad pet, obviously not so bad that they’d drug her so hard into submission but enough to not be worth it. She was walking the thin line of distasteful reluctance between willing acceptance and aggressive refusal that would keep her independent.
It took a moment for Bree to really process everything that they’d said, but one section in particular really stood out, “I… Dress me?”
“We can't have you going out in those clothes, they’re all ripped up and dirty!” They were right about that. She’d been wearing the same clothes for nearly a week and they were clearly falling apart, she was even missing an entire pant leg, “but don’t worry, I have an Affini companion dress prepared for you!”
“Companion… dress?” Bree didn’t like any part of that sentence, Well… not the dress part, but she still wasn’t sure that she’d feel comfortable wearing a dress in public just yet.
“Yep!” Cal seemed completely oblivious to her apprehension, pulling out a folded piece of colorful fabric from between two wooden plates on their torso, “Here it is!”
“And… what about it makes it a ‘companion’ dress?” Bree asked.
“It’s the type of clothing that florets typically wear” Bree’s expression dropped, and suddenly Cal seemed to realize her issue with the dress, “Oh! Sorry, I should clarify, it’s to signify that you have an Affini watching over and taking care of you, it’s not just for pets, but that is the typical usage.”
Bree still wasn’t very convinced, but Calyx had so casually announced that they would have dressed her anyway that it didn’t really matter whether or not she wanted to wear it, she was going to end up wearing it one way or another. She sighed in defeat, and grabbed the dress, “Okay”
She looked ridiculous. There was no way that Cal expected her to go anywhere in this dress, It didn’t even cover her scars at all! Even so… the dress was cute. Bright pink floral patterns lined the bottom hem of the dress and gently curled upwards toward her waist. Bree knew she should feel humiliated, wearing it was the first step to becoming a pet. Seeing the dress whenever she looked down gave her such bubbly euphoria, she could hardly stop herself from giggling to herself every time she saw it.
Wait… giggling? Bree didn’t giggle. She couldn’t even remember the last time that she’d laughed, but it definitely wasn’t a giggle. Where had it come from? Was it the drugs? She briefly remembered Cal explaining the possible mental side effects they would have on her. That’s probably what this was, but Bree had no ground to complain, she felt better about herself, even if only marginally so. It was nice to be able to be happy again, even if it was just the effect of the drugs on her mind.
Bree stole one last look at herself before she managed to force herself out of the room. Cal had been waiting patiently outside the door, holding Bree’s cane ‘just in case she needed it, she'd refused the cane thrice already. Bree had been able to walk all on her own since that morning. Her gait was a little off-rhythm and she had a bit of a limp but she could get around just fine. The dull ache in her calf was simply a sign that she was healing.
Bree emerged from the room, desperately avoiding Calyx's gaze. She didn’t need them to see the embarrassment plastered across her face.
"Okay, Bree, are you ready?"
How could they be so calm about this? She was wearing a dress that had the exact implications that a collar would. Why not get it over with and leash her right now? Maybe she should fight back. At least then if she were forced into being a pet she'd have the dignity that came with her resistance.
"Bree?" Calyx repeated, drawing her attention once more.
"I- oh- sorry, yeah I'm ready" she stammered, finally looking up to meet their gaze.
Bree thought she was getting good at recognizing Cal's emotions; apparently, she was not. They looked like their normal calm and cheery expression, but there was an unusual stillness across their body. Normally their entire body would flow and shift slightly, but they were holding themselves perfectly still. She almost might have mistaken them for an actual plant had she not known better. There was clearly something on their mind, something that they were trying to hide from her. Something nefarious, like their desire to turn her into a docile, mindless pet. Bree wasn't going to let that happen, she had to stay vigilant and show absolutely no weaknesses whatsoever.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It seemed Calyx would need to make another stop in their errands, Bree was not a fan of the clothes that Calyx had on hand. They probably should have asked her what kinds of clothing she liked, but they didn’t have enough time, they were barely able to get the other two Terrans situated before Mera told them that Bree needed to be out of the infirmary.
Even if Bree didn’t like the clothes, it wasn’t all bad, besides she did look absolutely adorable and her embarrassed blushes made her even cuter. It was going to be hard to see that go, but ultimately wasn’t Cal’s decision. Bree wasn’t their floret. There was no point in trying to dictate her every decision.
That was always the hardest part of their job, they took care of these adorable little sophonts, but they were never their florets. Eventually, they’d be deemed capable and allowed to be independent, or they’d be domesticated and given to or even choose some other Affini to own them. Calyx couldn’t let themself get attached, it was always so much harder to see them go when they did.
Bree trailed behind Calyx as they walked through the ship, practically hiding behind them. Any other Affini that saw the two would likely assume that Bree already was a floret hiding behind the safety of her owner. Shy sophonts were always so adorable, a fact that was not beneficial for Cal’s opinion of the precious Terran.
Their first stop was to a grocer, they needed to pick up some food for Bree. "so, Bree, what kinds of food do you like?"
"I don't-" free started before taking a moment to think, "fruit is good… and vegetables?"
"you don't sound too sure about that" Calyx teased. Bree's only defense was a stammer that died out after a moment. "don't worry about it little one," they ruffled her hair with a steady vine. 'fruits and vegetables are plenty good," they scanned the shelves around them before plucking a few items that they'd come to understand many Terrans were fond of.
"any kinds of dishes in particular?"
Bree stopped waking as she pondered the thought. Calyx nudged her back with a vine, reminding her to keep walking forward, "c'mon Bree, let's not get stuck in your head right now. It's a simple question"
"oh… well- I… I don't really know. I've just been eating nutrient bars for so long…" she trailed off as she looked around, "I do miss bread though- oh! And pizza!"
"Okay Bree, we'll get some good food figured out for you." Cal forced a smile down at Bree. They still couldn't believe how badly the Terrans treated each other. Living off only nutrient bars had to be terrible, and considering the Terrans technological level, they probably tasted horrible. Bree- no, every Terran deserved much better than that. It was terrible that they were fighting against the Affini's loving embrace. They'd heard stories of the poor malnourished Terrans that had been found in those dreadful navy-
Cal only then noticed that Bree had been saying something, "sorry, could you repeat that? I didn't quite catch it"
"oh… well it wasn't that important, you can just ignore me" she trailed off and averted her eyes to the floor.
"Darling." Calyx lowered themself to just above Bree's height and gently - but firmly - tilted her chin up so she had to meet their gaze, "I asked you to repeat yourself cause I want to hear what you said. I am your guardian for the time being and as such everything you have to say is important, understood?"
Bree nodded meekly in their grasp, a tinge of red blossoming on her cheeks.
"Good. Now, what were you saying?" Calyx could allow shyness, which was adorable and harmless, but this self-deprecating talk was never healthy. That kind of stuff was exactly why Bree was under review for domestication, but they wouldn't let Bree get away with any of it on their watch.
"I- I asked if you - if any Affini really - eat. Cause you are plants, most Terran plants don't need to eat, but they also don't move or talk or anything."
"Good girl," Cal lowered their vine, giving Bree control of her head once more, "was that so hard?"
She shook her head, her cheeks now entirely red.
"And, as for your question. For the most part no, of course, we still need water, oftentimes infused with nutrients that we need to survive. But only a small portion of Affini are capable of eating, mostly consisting of those who were uplifted from already carnivorous plants" they were always happy to quell Bree's curiosity, and the fact that she might think otherwise was worrying.
The two continued walking in silence as Calyx finished browsing for groceries.