Perturbance

Chapter 5

by Leafstone

Tags: #D/s #dom:female #f/f #pov:bottom #scifi #sub:female #bondage #disassociation #dom:plant #drugs #drugs_are_bad_ok #Human_Domestication_Guide #hurt/comfort #medical #nevermind_drugs_are_good_now #ownership_dynamics #sadomasochism #sub:the_horror_of_existence_in_a_caring_universe #transgender_characters

CN for discussion of death, an upset floret, a poor sophont getting triggered, and a brief medical scene.

ping ping ping ping

The shuttle gently pinged as it slowly approached and then smoothly docked with the mind boggling bulk of the Sequoioidium. The ship was so large that coming in to dock looked more like they were falling onto a flat surface then docking with another vessel.

Lena gulped anxiously as the airlock engaged and began cycling, and then squawked in surprise as Ana scooped her up out of the wheelchair, supporting her in her vines easily as she strode aboard the ship. The terran could do nothing but stare in awe and shock, as an overwhelming huge structure stretched up and around the both of them. Fractal arches sprawled out in lazy spirals throughout the ship, greenery growing all over everything making it appear like a lush expansive forest, not a bustling capital ship. And everywhere she looked, there were affini. All shapes, sizes and colours, chatting and going about their business, a center of empire, a freshly conquered world below, but here, all the comforts that a domineering plant alien could ever want. And almost inconsequential next to the affini, their pets, their "florets" was the term she kept hearing. Xenos and humans both, clad in bright colourful clothing, collared and leashed or snuggling in the arms of an affini, looking around with blown out, dazed expressions, or looking up at their owners with an expression of mind-melted adoration and bliss.

Her gawking was interrupted as Ana casually strolled aboard a maglev shuttle and punched in a destination. Lena had the sudden realization that being held in the affini's vines like this, she looked like a floret herself. It didn't help that she was wearing a loose skirt (easier to slip on and off then pants) and a colourful crop top that exposed her stomach, with an implanted flower still sticking out of it. She blushed furiously at the thought. Being owned, and collared, and drugged and petted...her train of thought was shattered as Ana brushed a vine gently down her cheek. "We're here, little one."

They were standing outside a hab unit, flowers on vines growing around the door in a colourful display, surrounded by a mix of other hab units and what appeared to be an eclectic mix of restaurants and various stores.

Ana fiddled with a control on the door of the hab for a moment before plugging something into the implant sticking out of Lena, eliciting yet another strangled squawk of protest. "There you go, now you'll be able to come and go from the hab as you please. Well, once you're able to walk. And only until we remove the implant. But you'll be able to for a bit at least!"

The front room of the hab was a study in contrast. One part of it was covered in a soft moss-like covering, with a grotto filled with trickling water. Another part was filled with what looked like antique radio equipment, in various states of repair, and yet another part looked like it had been hastily cleared for guests, a pile of paper teetering on the edge of a table, with a couch and several chairs placed in view of a large vidscreen. "I meant to have this cleaned up more before you came, but well, things just got away from me a bit."

She gently placed Ana down on the couch, vines slipping out from under the terran until she was free, and slipped into the kitchen, leaving Lena blinking in confusion and clutching a handful of flowers, some purplish-gray, others large and pink. Purplish-gray...sweetbrier? And the pink ones. Were they sage?. Strange.

"Now, in terms of where you will sleep, I normally just sleep on the moss, it's nice and soft and comfortable, but I did configure the hab to have a bedroom for you to use instead." Ana's head popped over the edge of the couch, supported on a column of vines stretching from her body still in the kitchen. "We'll start your physical therapy soon, but I figure a nice welcome meal was in order first. I was thinking maybe some ravioli all'arrabbiata might be nice? With...iced cream? Did I say that right?" Ana beamed at the baffled looking Lena.

"Close enough," Lena laughed. "Although I'm not sure how I'm going to eat, seeing as I still can't lift my arms."

But the affini was already gone, humming away in the kitchen with the gentle clatter of dishware as she prepped the meal. Lena looked down at the flowers the affini had left in her hand and smiled softly.


It turned out that Ana was going to solve the issue of Lena not having use of her arms yet by simply feeding her. Ana watched her closely, waiting until she finished chewing and swallowing one piece, before a fork held in a vine would stab another piece of the delicious, still steaming, spicy pasta and bring it up to her mouth, another vine tapping her on the side of her chin to let her know when to open. It was a strange and altogether intimate experience, leaving Lena to do nothing but wait and obey and enjoy the explosion of flavours that each bite contained. Every so often, the affini would pause to tenderly wipe Lena's face clean with a cloth. It should have been infantilizing. It should have been humiliating and set Lena off into a state of righteous indignation. Yet somehow it just felt...right.

Once Lena was full, but long before the pasta was done, Ana whisked the leftovers away to a stasis cube and gathered her up in her vines. "Well I'm sorry my dear, we've put it off as long as we can, but it's time to start your physical therapy."

Lena sighed and nodded grimly. "Alright, let's do this. You've been very kind to me, but the sooner I'm healed, the sooner I can be out of your hair. Err, vines. Leaves? sprouts?" She shook her head in confusion. "Whatever."

"Oh darling, never think that you're a bother or in the way at all. I quite enjoy having you entangled with me! So how this will work is quite simple. I will be supporting you the entire time. You won't fall, but as you get more used to moving with my assistance, my vines will start adding more resistance, forcing those cute little muscles to work harder until you build up your strength again!" Setting words to action, vines erupted out of Ana, wrapping around and securely holding Lena's arms, legs and torso, supporting and holding her up in a latticework of vines, like she had become the trestle they grew on.

Lena glanced back and bit her lip. "But what if I push too hard and rip one of your vines? I don't want to hurt you."

Ana burst out laughing, leaving rustling and her green eyes sparkling with amusement. "Oh my sweet little sprout, you couldn't tear one of my vines even if you were at full strength. And even if you were to bite down on one of them, it wouldn't actually hurt me. I don't feel pain the way you sweet terrans do. Now enough stalling, we're going to get you walking across this hab before we're done tonight, petal!"

When Lena was young, her school had a physical education class. She had absolutely hated it. There had been one day a year that had stuck out as the high point of suffering. A day where they'd make everyone go through a gauntlet of different exercises. She would normally end the day bruised and sore and hide herself in her room with her homemade radio equipment to sulk.

Walking across the hab made that day of hell seem like a day at a spa. Each step her legs shook, every swing of her arms, enforced by the vines gripping them, made her whimper, and after a few steps she was already sweating. The only things keeping her going were the vines holding her up and the whispered encouragements in her ear. "You can do this, little one. I'm so proud of you. Keep on going".

Fifteen agonizing minutes later, they had reached the hab door, and Ana swept Lena up and cuddled her close. "I am so proud of you Lena! That was wonderful, you did such a good job." Lena laid there in her arms, covered in sweat and grinning victoriously.


After a quick shower, with just a few vines staying in the bathroom to help Lena out while she steadfastly refused to think about how the vines were able to tell what she needed help with, Lena was plopped back down on the couch, leaning against Ana as they both sat there, a few vines gently combing her hair.

"So, what's with all the old squawkers back there?" Lena asked with a jerk of her head towards the solid third of the room that was filled with radios. "I recognize some of them, I used to tinker back when I was young, rummage through old electronic scrap to find stuff to work on, but there are a bunch that look like nothing I've ever seen."

Ana wiggles a few vines proudly. "Do you like them? I've been collecting them for a while now. Some are old Terran ones, but I also have some Rinan and some Andranu there as well. Adorable little species, the Andranu, shame about their planet."

Lena made a small questioning noise.

"Incredibly tectonically active. They were quite happy when we showed up. When you aren't half falling asleep on me, we can look at them together."

Lena fidgeted, shifting as much as she could as she gnawed on her lower lip. "Before we go off to bed, ummm, I was wondering. Some of the meds I was taking down on Earth, is there any way I could get access to them again?"

Ana frowned in thought for a moment before pulling out her tablet and scrolling through it for a moment. "Oh! Those Terran Class-G's you were on. Well, I could certainly try and get them synthesized for you if you want, but well..." Ana trailed off a bit awkwardly. "We do have much superior versions that are grown here on the ship, they're safer, a fuller profile, act much faster, really a big overall improvement. I could get you a prescription right now and pick it up after putting you to bed if you like?"

Lena thought about alien chemicals swimming through her bloodstream, day in and day out, changing her. A small bit of her cried out in fear, but was quickly smothered by the rest of her at the thought of finally speeding up her transition a bit. "That sounds absolutely lovely. Thank you Ana, for everything."

With that, Ana scooped Lena back up and got her ready for bed, before carrying her to the empty, quiet bedroom. Tucking her in gently, she brushed some hair out of Lena's face and gave her a smile. "I'll be back in a bit petal, you can just drift off to sleep."

And she was gone. Lena was all alone. She was on an impossibly huge alien ship hovering over the Earth like a new moon, still so weak that even rolling over felt like a herculean effort, but she was alone again. She hadn't been alone since that fateful day when she decided to take the first of those damn pills. It should have been a relief. She should have drifted off to a peaceful sleep, enjoying the quiet while she could.

She lay there in frustration. Why couldn't she sleep? What was wrong with her? She had been living alone for years, falling asleep now, alone, no I.V. sticking out of her, no affini sticking their heads in to see how she was doing. It should have been easy. Lena sat there and stewed.

Eventually, she heard the hab door swish back open as Ana came back in. The affini poked her head in and saw Lena laying there, unable to sleep. "Oh you poor little sprout. Would you like me to give you something to help you sleep?"

More drugs. But these ones were safe right? These ones wouldn't take away her humanity and leave her an emotionless drone. "They...they're safe right?" she all but whispered.

A vine gently stroked her hair. "Safe as can be. Breathe in deep for me." And as Lena breathed in the bundle of yellow flowers that Ana pressed to her face, she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.



Lena woke up suddenly. There wasn't any of the usual fuzziness that came with waking up, she just went straight from asleep to wide awake. Looking around, she saw no trace of Ana, not even a vine. Just an empty, off white room with a ridiculously huge bed in the middle. This is foolish, said a voice in her head, even as she summoned all her strength and rolled over. You're going to hurt yourself, it warned as she slowly inched her way towards the edge of the bed.

With a thump Lena rolled off the edge of her bed, tangling in her blankets to lay in a triumphant heap on the floor. After a moment, the door opened and Ana poked her head in, concern clear on her face. "Oh stars. You shouldn't be awake for another two hours still. Must have forgotten to take into account the kidney and liver implants..." Ana muttered to herself.

Lena just grinned up at the concerned affini with an expression of triumph. "I did it Ana. I made it all the way out of bed."

The affini laughed as she scooped the little terran up into her vines. "Yes you did my darling. Yes you did. Now let's get you up and moving."

Having her teeth brushed was no less humiliating in the morning than it was the night before, but a plate full of pancakes made up for it, even if Ana still had to feed it to her bite by bite.

During a pause from Lena eating, she looked at the affini and bit her lower lip. "Ummm, Ana, did you happen to get those Class-G's when you went out last night?"

Ana pulled out a flower with a smile, with a sharp needle in the middle. "Of course darling, right here. This is necessary medication and I would never withhold it from you or keep you from getting it. Now just keep chewing." And with that, there was a small prick, and then Ana was disposing of the needle, a fresh one already starting to grow up in its place. "That should be good for several weeks, and I'll make sure you have a prescription with you so you'll be able to get an injection at any affini clinic."

"So Ana," Lena asked, once the pancakes had been reduced to a memory. "What do you eat? I haven't seen you actually eat anything since I've met you, but like, you have to get sustenance somehow right? The propaganda kept talking about how you were going to drink our blood and stuff, but that didn't sound very feasible back then, and it seems less so now."

Ana looked surprised for a moment, blinking with confusion. "Well mostly we just use water enhanced with various beneficial chemicals and some photosynthesis. My grotto is filled with enhanced water, it's very refreshing."

Lena cocked her head, her curiosity getting the better of her. "So how do you know how to cook so well then? If you and the other affini don't need to actually eat solid food?"

"Well generally we learn it for our florets. I could of course just compile any food we wished to have using the compiler over there," she gestured over to a box built into the wall with a series of controls next to it. "But I find cooking for someone to somehow make the food taste just that little bit better, and well, I figured that I should learn how just in case I find some cute little human to scoop up and make into my pet."

As a human currently scooped up in Ana's vines, slowly working through PT exercises, Ana's proclamation left Lena feeling very funny, and more than a bit wary. Nevertheless, the day continued on, heavy PT exercises followed by resting on the couch, watching old cooking shows, and occasional digressions to the pile of radio equipment, the two of them excitedly comparing different models and taking things apart to see what was inside, or trying to put things back together for the sheer joy of seeing if they could work again.

It wasn't until they were tuning a radio and came across one of the STC control frequencies that Lena's focus slipped. The voice on the other end wasn't familiar, distorted enough by the old radio that it was impossible to make out if it was human or affini, but the words felt like they were dragging Lena down, back into a void of directing without a direction, efficiency without a goal, endless words threatening to spill out of her.

A sharp sting in an arm was followed by a calm warming sensation that slowly spread through her, slowly her thoughts down and pulling her back to the present. She found herself curled up in Ana's arms, adrenaline and fear forcing her body to move where sheer willpower had failed. Vines curled around her, softly and gently soothing her as she lay there and cried silently.



Lena lay curled up in Ana's lap, letting the affini's gentle petting soothe her. "I'm so sorry Lena," Ana apologized. "I should have realized that the radios might trigger you. The last thing I wanted to do is hurt you."

Lena stirred and looked up at the worried affini. "I noticed. That's kind of your species' entire thing isn't it? You don't want to hurt people, or let them hurt themselves, and you'll do anything you can to stop it."

"Exactly!" beamed Ana. "And we have quite a lot of power to stop you adorable sophonts from doing it."

"Heh." Lena chuckled. "You do at that. But it's fine. It was a war, and people get hurt at war. Getting through it with just a few new triggers to work through is comparatively light."

Ana frowned. "I can assure you, little one. When we captured your little Terran ships almost no one was injured. And no one died."

Lena laboriously reached up and gently stroked Ana's wooden face. "Oh Ana Poaceanum, you beautiful creature. Of course people died. Maybe not at the hands of the affini, but people die in all sorts of ways during a war. There were two gas tankers out near Neptune, before you reached the system. I'm not sure why none of the controllers showed up, I've heard they all had fled the system, that they were so overworked none of them could even show up, all sorts of things. But either way, there was no STC. And a whole bunch of people died. Sam and Bill used to tell stories about how soldiers would get injured and die all the time, just in training accidents. Hey, actually," Lena struggled and tried to sit up, overbalancing and falling over the other way before being carefully caught by Ana's vines. "Is there any way to find out what happened to them? They were both military STC, they got shipped off to the front. Could you try and find out maybe?"

Ana's grin was a bit forced, as she tried to process what Lena had just told her. How many sophonts had been killed, just because the affini had shown up? It was better than the alternative for sure, but still. Her voice however, was as crystal clear as ever. "Of course darling, I'll send out some inquiries, shouldn't be too hard to find out what happened. Now, what do you say about a bit more physical therapy eh?"

Lena rolled her eyes. "Yes Mistress," then promptly turned bright red, squeaked and clamped her hands over her mouth.

Root and seed that colour is very pretty on her. I'll have to see what I can do to get her to blush like that again. Ana grinned predatorily as her vines pulled the terran to her feet. "That's the spirit dear, now up we go."



Lena groaned as the affini carefully tucked her into bed. Her muscles felt like the spaghetti that they had eaten for dinner, but she could already feel the strength starting to return to them. "Goodnight, petal," Ana said as she closed the door. Lena was alone again. Damnit, why hadn't she asked for more of that sleeping drug while Ana was in here? Class Z's she had called them?

It was half an hour of lying there before Lena struggled free of the blankets, cursing quietly. Grabbing the wall to support shaking legs that still refused to hold her weight and dragging a blanket with her, she opened the door. The hab was dark, only a tiny bit of light from the various electronics keeping it from being pitch black. Heading towards the grotto more by listening for the sound of softly flowing water than by sight, Lena found the sprawled out mass of leaves and vines that was Ana at her most relaxed.

"Lena? Did you need something?" the mound quietly stirred.

"Not a word" Lena grumped before flopping down on some vines and curling up.

Ana paused, the gentle rhythm of leaf and vine temporarily halting as she considered the terran cuddled up against her, eyes closed and brows furrowed. With supreme gentleness, several vines carefully brought the blanket up around Lena's shoulders, and rearranged themselves to hold the human in her vines. And then the hab was silent, save for the constant gentle rustle of vine and leaf, and the soft snoring of a human, finally able to rest.



Lena stared at the hab door nervously. It had been a week since she first arrived on the Sequoioidium, and Ana had decreed that she needed to get out of the hab and move around, for her health if nothing else. She had graduated from being wrapped in a lattice of vines for moving around to what amounted to a harness around her torso and chest, some vines wrapped around her upper and lower arms, and some more supporting her legs. Even those were more there to catch her in case she stumbled than to actually hold her up.

"Do I have to do this? The hab is plenty big enough for me to get exercise, isn't it?" Lena's voice trembled slightly. She had never been much of a person for socializing outdoors, and that was before everything that happened.

A vine snaked past her and opened the door. "We talked about this petal. It'll be good for you to go out and see the ship instead of being shut in here with me. And I have a surprise for you as well."

Sighing reluctantly, Lena started walking forward, with only the barest nudge of assistance from Ana. "I hate surprises."

The ship was just as majestic and overwhelming as it was before. Every part of the design seemed to be built to remind Lena of the overwhelming power of the affini. She still wasn't sure whether that was supposed to comfort her or frighten her.

"So where are we going anyways? I assume you have some kind of destination in mind." Lena asked in between carefully controlled breaths. Her strength was steadily growing, but her stamina was lagging behind slightly.

"There's a lovely park about two kilometres away. They have an adorable iced cream stand there, perfect as a reward for a sophont who's doing so well with her 'PT' as she insists on calling it." Ana's vines tugged on Lena as she strode off slowly, making sure she had no choice but to follow.

Lena kept looking around as they walked. There were more sophont races here than she knew existed, but by far the most common, behind the affini of course, were humans. The vast majority of them were florets, with collars, flowing colourful clothing, and small scars on the side of their neck. With a start, Lena realized that many of the people they were walking by probably assumed she was a floret herself. She was wearing bright flowing clothes, although that was more to give room for her flower implant than out of any preference, and she even had an affini's vines wrapped around her. The only difference was her lack of a collar, and even that wouldn't be too noticeable at a distance. Dirt this was embarrassing.

Ana was right. The park was lovely, someone had clearly put a lot of effort into designing it so that the trees and flowers and bushes would form a cohesive ecosystem, while still giving lots of rooms for walking around, exploring, and private shaded areas to relax in.

Lena stared at an affini and floret pair relaxing on the grass as they got closer. Was that.... "Sam? Is that you?"

The floret stirred and looked up with characteristic dazed eyes. They looked softer, happier and more relaxed than Lena had ever remembered them being. "Mx. Helianthi! Look! It's Lena and her owner!"

They stumbled awkwardly to their feet and raced towards her with a laugh.

Laughing in delight and relief, Lena wrapped them in a hug. "I'm so glad you're safe Sam! I was so worried about you out there."

Sam gave her an unsteady grin before flopping back into the waiting arms of their affini. "Nah, it was a good thing Lena. If I hadn't been, then I never would have met Mxtress." They frowned in confusion, eyes squinting. "Lena, where's your collar? I thought...huh?"

Sam's owner gently patted their head, reducing them to a happily mewling puddle. "Aster Helianthi, Seventh Bloom. I wanted to thank you for being such good friends with my Sam back when they were on Earth. I'm delighted to finally get to meet you."

Lena stammered out some sort of greeting at Sam's affini before looking down at them. "I guess they made it out of this whole mess ok then eh?"

Sam giggled happily. "Yeeeep. No more silly uniforms, no more marching, no more saluting."

"Hey Sam," Lena asked curiously. "What happened to Bill?" Is he a floret around here somewhere as well?"

Sam's face fell, and they turned and buried themselves into Aster. It was Aster's voice that answered, sad and regretful. "I'm sorry Lena. Bill didn't make it. There was some sort of accident with some pressurization controls on his ship."

The world suddenly seemed very small and cold and dark. She had talked about it with Ana, about how people got injured and died in war. But the idea of a universe without Bill in it just felt so wrong. Her knees buckled, and only Ana's vines kept her from collapsing entirely as she gathered up Sam in a hug, the two of them just holding each other, remembering their missing companion, a trio reduced to two.


Lena stirred groggily, feeling Ana's vines slipping out from under her as the affini got up and moved around. "What time is it? Ana why are you up so early?"

The affini's voice drifted back from the kitchen. "Well I figured you'd want some breakfast before your appointment dear. We're getting your implant out today."

Lena shot up. How had she forgotten? She was finally getting that flower out of her! No more worrying about it getting snagged on something as she walked, no more having to wear either loose flowy dresses or crop tops, she'd finally be free. She sprang up, stretching up onto the tips of her toes before strolling towards the bathroom. "Thanks Ana, I'm so excited to finally get this thing out of me. I know it saved my life, but well, I like big comfy sweaters ya know?"

Breakfast seemed to go by super quick, the affini casually dipping her roots in some enhanced water as Ana ate the delicious eggs and toast she had somehow managed to whip up. She admired the bouquet on the table for a bit as she ate, a strange mix of hollyhock, aster, honeysuckle and purple sweetpea flowers. She still had no idea when Ana found the time, but there were always fresh flowers every day in intricate bouquets.

Lena all but skipped out of the hab, her small bag of clothes that Ana insisted she keep slung over her shoulder. Ana walked behind, seeming a bit more subdued than usual. Her eyes were the green of moss, with almost no shine in it. The clinic was in another part of the ship altogether, but the shuttle made the journey quick, a mere half an hour. Ana's vines kept twining and untwining together, small flowers opening and closing.

Finally they reached the clinic, walking in next to each other. The receptionist, one of the strange jellyfish-like creatures Lena had learned were called Spectrum Jellies, looked up in interest as they approached.

"Anaphylaxis Poaceanum and ward, here to see Teridopsi Allumnia." Ana stood up straight as she spoke, holding her head high.

Lena blinked and stared at her affini in confusion. "Your...your name is Anaphylaxis?"

Ana looked down with a frown. "Of course it is my little sprout. What else did you think Ana was short for?"

"Do you...do you know what Anaphylaxis means?" Lena ventured cautiously.

"Of course! It's from one of your older languages, it means something like caring over and over again. Quite a beautiful word I thought." Ana said proudly.

Lena could only stare with her mouth open. "Well. Umm. Huh. It's a very nice name Ana. Very nice name."

Teri bustled in, leaves fluttering. "Ana! Lena! I'm so glad to see you both again. Let's get you back here so we can get that implant out, eh Lena?"

And with that they swept the two of them into a small examination room.

Lena looked up at the examination table and made a small noise of concern. The table was level with her head, there was no way she'd be able to make it up there. Her concern lasted only a moment before Ana effortlessly lifted her up and plopped her down on the edge of the table.

"Alright Lena, now you may feel a slight tugging as I do this, but just focus on Ana and it'll be over before you know it." Teri said calmly, gathering up various implements in their vines as another vine turned Lena's head to look at Ana.

Ana smiled at her, wooden face making the gesture seem more stiff than usual. "Are you excited to get back to your apartment Lena? I understand the inspectors found that your building was sufficient for human habitation, once they made a few upgrades, although there are better units available if you wish of course."

"I...I guess" Lena stammered, trying to ignore the strange tugging sensations from her midriff. "I honestly haven't thought about it much. I don't even know what I'm going to do with myself when I get back."

Ana laid a vine on her shoulder. "Well if you do decide to go back to STC at all, I'll be doing some more comms up here, so we'll be able to talk. And you have my overnet information, so I expect to hear from you plenty."

Lena gave Ana a pained smile as she felt something slithering around. She'd been here before. Gotten close with someone, close enough it felt like they eclipsed everything else in her world, but something always changed, and then they'd move apart. They always said they wanted to stay in touch and talk, but it never seemed to last.

"All done!" Teri popped up and flicked out a vine, a lollipop at the end somehow ending up in Lena's mouth before she could blink.

"Uhhh, thanks Teri. I should be going though, have to hurry if I want to catch the next shuttle down." Lena apologized, pulling the lollipop out of her mouth. It was a very good lollipop.

Ana walked her out of the clinic, pulling her into one last embrace as they stood on the path out front. "I'm going to miss you, my darling Lena."

One vine brushed some hair out of Lena's face, leaving behind a flower, tucked behind her ear. And then Ana walked away, heading off to do who knows what.

Lena stood there for a moment, before pulling out the flower to look at it. She pulled the daffodil to her nose, breathing in its sweet scent. For just a second, she allowed herself to fantasize. She'd run after Ana. Go up to her and tell her that she wanted to stay with her. They'd tinker with old radios, she'd figure out something to cook for her affini instead of the other way around, and she'd finally have someone who wouldn't leave her.

With a sigh, she tucked the daffodil back behind her ear and walked off to the shuttle.

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