Emmenanthe’s head lands on the pillow with a soft thwump.
She’s dimmed the lights a little. Her thoughts are- scattered, and she’d like to think clearly? So she’s retreated to bed, hopefully for lack of bright lights and hard surfaces to help still them, make them useful. The pillow is pleasantly cool, grounding.
There’s still a restlessness in her body though, unruly leaves prickling up the moment her attention drifts from them. She feels all fuzzy.
She’s still kind of stressed? -and she doesn’t quite know why.
It started with Ava, obviously. Emmenanthe was on radio interception, and while that wasn’t quite stressful in itself – she’s done this a few times, now, – it was all certainly busy; listening to the panicked words of frightened sophonts, and relaying the information to boarding groups. She had just helped intervene in one terran’s announced plan to go for some scuttling charges, for which they were very safely collected on their way.
-Then she had caught on her screen a signal from where one shouldn’t have been. And then she listened to it, and felt the most panic that she’s ever felt this bloom, and hurriedly got the attention of a supervisor as she began to reply.
..But it was okay in the end, and Ava was made safe too.
By then it was all nearly over, only a couple of sophonts still being searched for, who’d found some especially inventive hiding spots. Euphorbia popped over to see how she was doing, and Emmenanthe maybe quite readily shared how scared she’d been that Ava might realise she was an affini and panic while still out in space. Hugs were shared. It was alright in the end.
But she still feels stressed. Less stressed, but still. More than she should be, for everything being okay now. She thinks it's stress?
She’s since walked back to her quarters, mind busied by something, and fallen into bed to tackle it. There’s a pressing awareness that she can’t parse, her thoughts a discordant fog as they fail to work out what it’s of. She thinks it must be important. Something missed, maybe? Something she should’ve done?
She’s had no luck, yet, despite having thought over everything that happened several times now. It could just be discontent with how close Ava came to not making her message, being helped, but- she can’t afford not to be certain. It’s something important.
The affini makes a self-frustrated noise. If she’s stressing this much over it, surely she does have an idea of what it is. She's just- trying to reason it out, when she already knows it, deep down. Enough idle thought would probably take her to it.
-Well. That's worth a try, actually.
..Emmenanthe just lets her mind still, for a minute. She feels for something to start with; sees what her attention freely brings itself to.
The start to a line of thought actually catches. She budges to sit up.
Should she go check on Ava? -Though she’s in good hands, and she’ll be asleep right now.
She could visit once Ava’s awake? -But she’ll still be in good hands, and she’ll probably be scared with her new surroundings.
She might visit once Ava’s settled? -Yet she’ll be in good hands, and today will be an uncomfy memory for her by then, won’t it?
..The line of thought ends there.
There’s nothing more she can do. She’s helped another sophont, she’s done her bit. Ava’s safe and sound.
-She said she’d visit? She knows it was under false pretences, and that it wouldn’t be helpful – likely unhelpful – but- she said she’d visit. She said that, and it feels deeply wrong now not to.
But she can’t justify it, either; it wouldn’t help.
A pitiful sound of defeat escapes her. She’s made no progress. She collapses back onto the pillow again.
..Oh. Emmenanthe realises two things at once.
She really wants to help Ava more.
She knows the next step in helping sophonts.
Wait- That is a massive leap in logic- No, no. Absolutely not.
She certainly doesn’t want to take Ava as her fl- ward; she has no reason to be best for that.
The complete sense that thought made for a split-moment has entirely thrown her off. And- this isn’t that. It’s not.
(She has before determined that she’d like a floret, one day. When she's ready. It would be nice. Cosy. Cute.)
It’s not that.
It’s normal to feel a little- responsible, after the danger Ava was in, she thinks? Responsible affini feelings. Of course she wants to help more, and make sure she’s kept safe.
She just- isn’t up to something like that yet. She’s only in her first bloom? She’s only just left her home system to come out and help, to have some positive impact on the universe as she grows. She still has too little life experience, just 102 years.
So that aspect of helping Ava should be safely reserved for someone else. That’s not for her to be doing.
-Though, she really needn’t fret this much about just.. thinking about it? It’s not like she could just up and claim Ava; she just says whether she’d like to, and an immense, potentially sapient system of bureaucracy and neural networks digests records, brain scans, and thousands of seemingly unrelated data points across the universe to conclude objectively who’s most appropriate out of everyone who’d like to. It works.
She couldn’t do harm with any decision made. Even if she volunteered to take Ava, she couldn’t be wrongly allowed. The only question is just whether she’d like to.
And by all likelihood it won’t be her, obviously, unless she’s genuinely the best for Ava? But she’ll have volunteered, just to be safe, and she’ll be happy in knowing she’s done everything to help.
Just in case Ava were to need her, for whatever reason, you know? Some terrans do bond to the first affini they speak to. -Not that she thinks that'll be likely here, at all.
It won’t be her, but-
Emmenanthe remembers to note that Ava said she’d like some jumpers, when she writes the application.
Emmenanthe startles as her tablet beeps.
-She even knew when it was going to, but- she found herself a little caught up in her thoughts, as the time got closer. -Not that she should’ve been; she can very safely expect the message in her inbox to start with a sympathetic apology.
She still promptly sets upon the device, tapping to the new entry.
It starts with congratulations.
“-Ah,” the affini makes.
It goes on to state that Ava is now a ward under her care.
She reads every word of it. It next details that the wardship is precautionary, not a result of domestication; Ava will be cohabitating with her for two months, before she’s granted terran legal autonomy. Then there’s a note kindly stating that Ava’s wardrobe has been stocked with extra jumpers. Following, there are several attachments of associated bureaucratic paperwork scans, Ava’s medical notes, guides on the caretaking of terrans, and instructions on how to prepare between now and when Ava is due to wake up in their shared hab.
..Emmenanthe carefully places the tablet down by her side, brings her knees up, and hugs herself. A happy warmth has bloomed across her every vine. There’s a small, happy, triumphant giggle.
“Oh gosh.” She gets to really help Ava. She gets to introduce her to everything great about her new life. They’re going to live together for a bit!
-It's not domestication. That's- possibly good? Though a two month precautionary wardship is effectively a ticket to the same thing, for most terrans? -Not that she thinks that'll happen here. But-
She’s going to take care of Ava, a warm glow assures.
Emmenanthe makes it back inside the living room, the hab’s front door sliding closed behind her. She falls back against it as she loses tension, only mildly overplaying her exhaustion; her freshly grafted flowers all ache at the stem.
There’s an approaching padding of footsteps, and Euphorbia excitedly pops out from the connecting hallway.
(It’s a very Terran hab, hallway and excess of right-angles included. Ava needed rest too much to ask for preferences, but a familiar and segmented space was suggested by the profile her scan made.)
“Emme! She’s here!- Ah,” Euph falters, and quickly strides over to tend to Emmenanthe. “..You weren’t joking when you said you take to grafting badly, were you?” the affini sympathises.
“It wasn’t even a lot! Agh,” she woes. It’s unhelpful biology, from when parasitic flora was ever a concern to her pre-uplifted species. The petals will probably fade a little, too.
“Hug?” Euph offers.
“-Thank you,” she readily accepts, and Euph pulls her into one, arms over shoulders.
“Know what’ll cheer you up?” Euphorbia sets.
That happy warmth picks back up. Her head tilts onto Euph's arm. “I think I know,” she smiles.
Euph pulls back to exclaim: “-And she’s really cute!”, immediately pulling a small laugh out of Emmenanthe.
“-I still can’t believe I’ve done this, gosh.”
“I can’t believe you were first! But-” she amends, “it’s very you.”
“A- Very me?” Emmenanthe plays along.
“Ava’s the first feral you’ve spoken to, and you’ve gone and made her your ward, you romantic!” Euph giggles.
“Hey you! I was just- trying to be helpful!”
“I know,” Euph smiles. “Now, how about I let you get to fawning over her? It’s not too long now until she wakes up.”
“I- Thanks for the help, Euph."
“Of course; I got to see your cute new ward!” she says, breaking the hug. “Catch me up on how today went later, if you can?”
Emmenanthe happily nods. “Will do.”
“Best of luck, then! I know you’ll do well. Seeya, Emme.” The door slides open for Euph as she gives a parting wave.
“See you!” she waves back.
The hab’s door slides shut again.
A moment passes.
Emmenanthe pivots and makes for the hallway. She feels so, so cheery, and a bit nervous, and a little daunted for what’s just to come, but- Ava’s here, now!
First door on the left, she- nearly rushes in, before remembering herself.
She gently opens the door, taking care to not let too much light from the hallway in as she enters. The bedroom has its lights dimmed. It’s cosy, with soft carpet, a curtained window (made opaque: she doesn't know if Ava would be comfy seeing space again yet), and a bed entirely oversized for a terran, and-
And Ava’s head just peeks out from under the covers, partially hidden in a messy short bob of hair.
Emmenanthe nearly melts on the spot, despite only seeing her from the other side of the room. She’s so cute. She’s so small. She can hear her light breaths.
She carefully, quietly comes closer, taking a seat on the desk chair beside the bed. It’s a little small for her, better proportioned for terrans.
Ava is more cute. She looks so peacefully asleep.
Gosh, Emmenanthe feels happy.
She maybe stares a little, cataloguing all the little features of Ava. She has a cute nose, too. Terrans are cute.
She- also spots a little bruising, along the side of her jaw, from where she’ll have bumped it in her suit. She’s read the medical notes: Ava’s already been given some medication to keep any of the pain away, so she should hardly even notice them, but- Emmenanthe nonetheless wants to give her a really long hug.
Otherwise, Ava also looks a little sleep deprived. Emmenanthe should make sure she’s getting enough from now on.
-Also on the topic of medication, she made sure to stock the desk drawer with Ava’s HRT. She’s also grafted some class-Gs, but- that should obviously wait until Ava agrees to it.
She’d- ought to think more on how it’ll go, when Ava wakes up. She already has a rough outline.
The affini moves her chair back over to its desk, as to be a little less distracted by Ava. Tries not to glance over to her every five seconds.
-Ideally, Ava might be immediately happy to have been rescued. That’s- certainly a possibility. In which case this’ll go really well, and she can get right to a cheery introduction to Ava’s new life, and many hugs. That would be really nice.
..Also possible is that Ava is very much not happy, when she wakes up. Angry, or really, really scared. She might even be a feralist? That’d not be good- but she has the materials to work with it, still.
While she didn’t graft very many xenodrugs, she did get a couple of class-Ms and class-Es, to help Ava if she panics. They’ll calm her down and make her all passive and pliant, while she takes care of her, and- Ava can’t stay too angry or scared if Emmenanthe proves she’s nice by wrapping her up in a blanket and watching telly with her, can she?
And if she’s a feralist, then- even more blankets and telly, and cups of tea, and hugs.
It’s honestly something in-between that may be hardest for Emmenanthe to handle well. She’s only met non-feral, happy terrans before. And while she's aware of what open terror or hate could look like too- she isn't sure about suppressed fear, or other bad emotions that aren't readily expressed. She could very quickly learn, but that wouldn’t be quick enough.
Worse than Ava panicking immediately is if she starts on the edge, and Emmenanthe fumbles it such that then she panics. That would make it much harder for Ava to trust her, and using xenodrugs to calm her then would probably be much less easily forgiven. That wouldn’t be good at all.
..If she’s unsure, she’ll hold back and give Ava as much space as possible, then. Just be friendly and comforting.
She’s sure it’ll work out. She’s going to care of Ava.