Ava is comfortable. Incredibly comfortable.
Well, this is workable. She can certainly make do with it. Drift for a bit.
Why is Ava comfortable?
The question pains her to ask; she’d much rather just enjoy it while it lasts. This really does need explaining, however.
Comfort is decidedly not part of Ava’s daily life. While plain floating in zero-g could be described as ‘comfortable,’ such is so standard and constant that it only really counts on a physiological basis. Everything in-between, from her claustrophobic padded locker of a quarters, to the dozen bruises she currently sports thanks to the interior of the Blackthorn’s Promise otherwise being nigh solely comprised of metal, is wholly not comfortable.
For as important a query as it is, she isn’t going to squander this moment entirely. She’ll quite possibly never be this comfortable again, literally until the day she dies. She’s certainly not going to test it by opening her eyes.
She instead opts to go by touch, starting a lazy wave to see what she bumps into. It doesn’t get anywhere, because it’s immediately blocked by some great layer of fabric. Ava thus sets to work on gradually processing what it is, reluctant to think too hard for risk of failing to return to prior levels of comfort.
..Well. This isn’t her sleeping bag, nor a blanket, but a verifiable quilt’s worth of fabric. Quantities of fabric of outright world-ending proportions.
Stars, this is- this is a literal, proper bed quilt. Ava hasn’t touched one of these in years.
Wait, this is a literal bed, too! There’s a whole mattress beneath her! And gravity!
Oh, Ava has reason to be concerned now. She does not have the money spare to be staying in a bed this nice while on shore leave, so.. is she in someone else’s bed? Why would she be in someone else’s bed? Ava’s asexual, and last she checked she had no significant others, so how is she in..
Begrudgingly, she blinks her eyes open. Best case scenario, last night she spontaneously got on casual-cuddling-in-bed terms with someone. That’d be nice. Impossibly unlikely, but nice.
The lights are dimmed. She’s in a bedroom so well-furnished that she’d expect it to be planet-side, if not for the handles recessed into the walls and ceiling for zero gravity. The warm lighting and colours make the room homely, even. Heavens above has she missed actual rooms instead of the purely functional metal corridors of ships and stations. The warmth of them. The comfort.
More pressingly, however, is the affini sitting at a desk somewhat too small for them, side-on from Ava, too engrossed in reading from their tablet to have noticed that she’s awake.
Her memory is certainly back, now. Waking up in a bed is so at odds with her prior predicament that she didn’t quite connect the dots.
..The relative upgrade from certain death in space, to lying in bed near an affini that hasn’t actually noticed her yet, seems to have tricked her brain into not falling apart at the seams again. Yet. Maybe she can keep this going.
The good news is that these surroundings suggest a fate less dire than expected, so Ava is actually relieved if anything. She probably isn’t going to be tortured if her blood would ruin the carpet. Actually, the desk being better sized for her than the affini suggests that this might even be her room. Whatever the context for it, oh if she could have this room.
What the context actually is, though, is thoroughly unguessable. She’ll just have to wait and see.
..And by wait and see, she is absolutely still going to enjoy this bed while she can, affini in the room or no. She settles on cautiously watching them, head still on pillow, while she ekes out further comfort for as long as it takes for them to notice.
This affini looks quite unique, actually. Most striking is the colour: whereas most are a shade of vivid green, the one before her is less saturated, as if the leaves and vines have a hint of frost to them; the colour of chrysoprase. The leaves themselves are more numerous, and she sees no bark on the affini whatsoever. Their flowers are less saturated still, a multitude of colours all approaching white, and she spots what looks to be red-and-white striped tape around some of their stems.
Maybe this affini is ill, even? Ava’s no botanist, and while nothing about them seems to be wilting, the faded colour and the tape definitely give off the impression. She nonetheless considers them aesthetically pretty, at least; there’s even a prominent white flower imitating how a human might wear one in their hair.
For the entirety of Ava’s observation, they’ve been fidgeting, messing with the tape of one of their flower stems, and intermittently reading from their tablet before pointedly focusing on something else. Oh, and they just glanced at Ava.
“Ah,” Ava states, buried in quilt up to her neck, head still on pillow.
“Ah!” the affini exclaims, almost simultaneously.
The room falls into awkward silence. They’ve gone stock-still, eyes wide. Ava gingerly pushes herself to sit up-
“I’m so sorry how long were you lying there were you scared of me oh roots I didn’t mean to- you must’ve felt-“ they forcibly shut their stream of consciousness off. She didn’t quite catch all of that, but she thinks the gist is that they don’t want her feeling scared? She should stop this from escalating.
“I’m okay,” she quickly offers, finishing the rise to sit up. “..Morning.”
Okay, that may have been de-escalation, but it definitely wasn’t a normal response. Should she be panicking? The average person would probably instead be panicking.
She genuinely can’t formulate an emotional response with so little to work on, though. It’ll just have to wait.
“..Morning, Ava?” they return, caught entirely off guard. Snapping out of it, they regain their composure by smoothing down some of their leaves, before turning to face her fully, hands in lap. “Sorry for that! First, know that you’re safe, and that we can go at your own pace. It’s okay if you’d like to take a moment? Or, we can begin with introductions, or an explanation first?”
..Introductions sound like the diplomatic answer. The right one. She nods her head. “..Introductions sound good.”
“Right! ..So, we’ve um, actually already met in a sense.” Their leaves prickle back up; Ava has seemingly picked the wrong answer. “..I’m Emmy, the one you spoke to before. Or, Emmenanthe, First Bloom. I- we figured you might want to talk to someone you already kind of knew? But I totally understand if you’d actually rather it not be me- I can leave and get someone else if you want?” they rush to finish.
..Ava might need a second to think? This affini was- is, Emmy, apparently? She sounded genuine about it, at least.
The person that saved her from space is actually real, that’s good. Said person is also an affini, that’s.. neutral, since she still saved Ava from space. The intentions for doing so are unknown, but the fancy bedroom suggests that she isn’t going to torture her, so that’s a solid ‘neutral’ too. The final verdict is thus a resounding good, she guesses.
“Good!” Ava announces, to the immediate visible confusion of Emm- Emmenanthe. Ah, she isn’t privy to Ava’s internal monologue, right. “I mean, it’s good that you’re real? And are here right now. It’s appreciated. Thanks.” Emmenanthe has both saved her from space and apparently waited at her bedside out of consideration. That should be thanked.
Said affini still looks no less confused. “You’re.. not upset?” ..This must actually look very weird from an outside perspective, a human sat in bed and an affini in a too-small desk chair, having this thoroughly odd and cordial conversation.
Anyway, Ava still hasn’t established what having been captured by the affini means, if not torture, so she actually doesn’t yet have any significant complaints. And Emmenanthe is the one that answered her distress call, so. “Well, I’m definitely not angry that I wasn’t left in space? ..I’m not upset at you.”
Ava just deadpan told an anxious plant alien twice her size that she’s not upset at them. This is absurd. Something is wrong with her. She should be cowering or running or asking questions or something-
“..Good!” Emmenanthe concedes, a vast amount of tension visibly draining from her body. Wait, was it the fear that Ava was going to be upset that had caused all that fidgeting before? “Um, thank you, Ava.” She has totally thrown this affini off, hasn’t she? “I suppose you’d like an explanation, now?”
Ava nods her head. “Please.” Please.
Emmenanthe clears her throat. “Under Section 43 of the Treaty on the Methods, Limitations, and Procedures for Human Domestication, you were acquisitioned by the Affini Compact for having been embarked on a rebel ship. After that, a council was convened, which decided that you were not to be forwarded for mandatory domestication. However, they did deem that the situation prevented you from sufficiently demonstrating compliance, which is technically classed different from non-resistance, so you’ve been placed on something called a ‘precautionary watch’, up until we arrive at an Affini-controlled planet where you could choose to stay.” Ava thinks she got all that. “So, in effect, we’re roommates for the next few months! And don’t do crime because you’ve essentially got a suspended sentence?”
..Ava still feels equally clueless. The affini seems to have left out a lot of much-needed context.
“..So this is my room?” She clarifies, first.
“Yes! We can order some things to make it more your own in a bit, too,” Emmenanthe confirms.
“And I’m allowed out of the room?” Again, clarifying. That wasn’t explicitly stated.
The affini’s voice grows softer. “Y-Yes, you’re allowed out the whole hab! You’re not my prisoner. Everything’s okay, petal.”
Ava gently nods. This feels dreamlike, in how little apparent sense it makes. “..And we’re roommates?” What that actually means decidedly needs clarifying.
“And we’re roommates. I’ll help you settle in,” Emmenanthe answers, with no further explanation. It’s apparently obvious what ‘roommates’ means. ..Wait so is Ava literal roommates with her?
“..And what’s the catch?” Because there obviously is one. Emmenanthe must still be getting to it.
“A-Ava, the catch is that you’ve been removed from your old life without warning and without your consent. There’s nothing much else, but I can imagine this is still very unpleasant?” Ava is taking this well, she’ll admit. “-You won’t be able to contact anyone outside of the Affini Compact, so..”
“..I don’t really have anyone I’d like to contact? And this seems like a material upgrade, at least,” she states, looking around the room proper. Wait, what’s she wearing? She glances down, finding herself in white pyjamas with thin black twirls in-sown. That took a while to notice. Also is that a watch on her wrist?
“I’m certainly relieved, then.” Meanwhile, Ava has found that this watch has no clock face. It’s a plain black band, maybe elastic? A light tug reveals that it doesn’t stretch.
“Emmenanthe, what’s this?” Ava queries, holding her wrist up.
“..Ah.” Her leaves familiarly prickle back up.
“Ah?” Maybe this is the catch. Somehow. However this band on her wrist can be the catch.
“That’s for knowing your vitals. A-And your location. ..Just for me to know that you’re okay?” the affini’s voice grows smaller towards the end. “..We can take it off after a week or two, once you're settled. Sorry.”
That’s.. not so bad, really? Emmenanthe must be overthinking. If the consequences of being caught are just being her roommate, and wearing an electronic tag for half a month, then Ava may as well have won the galactic lottery. “No worries, it’s fine.” The bedroom alone more than makes up for it, actually.
Emmenanthe looks thoroughly baffled again. “..Ava, are you sure nothing’s wrong? I don’t want you saying that everything’s okay just to appease me. It’s alright if you feel bad, or don’t like this; I’m not going to be mad at you.”
“..I honestly feel fine? I’m aware that this probably isn’t a regular response, but I really do feel fine, I think.” It's the truth.
“Maybe you would like some time alone to process? You don’t have to, of course,” she suggests.
“..That sounds reasonable. I probably should do that?” Ava had ought to be feeling different, she’s aware. Emmenanthe’s suggestion sounds like a good one.
“I'll give you a moment, then, Ava.” Emmenanthe offers a reassuring smile, lifting up from her chair, and- stars above affini are tall. Ava’s head just had to track well over 45 degrees to follow her. “I’ll just be in the front room, okay? Come through when you like.” She picks up the tablet, light bathing into the room from a brightly lit hallway as she takes her leave. Ava catches the affini hesitate for a split second as she glances back, before closing the door behind herself.
Right, time to process. Realize the correct emotional response to this situation and start panicking, as a normal person would be.
Ava doesn’t know how to process. She’s alone and she feels no different. And she’d look awfully silly if she just went through back to Emmenanthe after a whole ten seconds.
She instead settles on taking stock of the bedroom. Her bedroom, apparently. It’s hers! Bed included! She’ll get to sleep in it again! This is- Stay on track, Ava.
The room is fully furnished, but doesn’t look lived-in. No personal touches. She has no complaints, though; there are lots of warm hues, a soft carpet, and a comfortable looking cushioned chair in the far corner. Though whether to call it a chair or mini-sofa is the question, seemingly an intermediate size for both humans and affini alike. She looks back down to the bed, and yes, it’s longer than any human would have use of. And quite luxuriously wide, for a single.
Also included are some shelves, a wardrobe, a full-length mirror, and the prior mentioned desk and desk chair. The room is otherwise exceedingly spacious. The curtains beside the bed suggest an exceptionally large window, as well.
She slips out of bed and makes her way to the desk (and stars, walking on carpet again is nice), checking the top drawer for contents. It’s actually neatly stocked with pens, combs, and other basics to one side, and a dozen neatly stacked matchbox-like cartons on the other. She picks one up.
Estradiol. They’re boxes of oestrogen tablets. Oh- thank fuck, she still has her hormone medication. The thought that she might not actually never factored into prior considerations of being captured, having assumed she wouldn’t be living long enough to need it.
Ava checks the other cartons, also finding progesterone. So this is why she was asked about her medication; so they could keep providing it. Lovely. She breaks into a box of either, popping the medication out of its foil and placing it under her tongue to dissolve.
She should give Emmenanthe a heads up for procuring her medication, when she heads through to her. She still needs to clarify what exactly is going on, but thus far it seems entirely more pleasant than she could’ve anticipated.
‘And what if she isn’t still there?’, an intrusive thought posits, out of the blue.
Okay? That sounds possible, if unlikely. Something urgent could have come up, and the affini could have left Ava alone on the assumption that she can handle herself for twenty minutes. Why is this of note? She has no problem with the prospect.
Ignore the uncomfortable heat crawling up her skin, and the feeling of mild alarm seeping into her. She’d be completely fine being alone for a while. She has been alone an innumerable number of times before, and nothing has changed. Not that she is alone. Emmy is just outside. She really isn’t alone.
..Ava hastily makes for the door anyway. Just to check. And she was about done surveying the bedroom anyway; leaving is a perfectly normal course of action to take now. She can check the wardrobe later.