The Florette's Dilemma

25- Days

by Motherlygirl

Tags: #dom:female #drugs #Human_Domestication_Guide #pov:bottom #scifi #anxiety #depression #dom:plant #f/f

Trigger warning for more discussion of kidnapping and mental health abuses, trauma, cancer, and potentially the tackiest Eva reference I'm going to make (edited)

The next few days of Mane's life were significantly less eventful. Effus started to sort through paperwork properly arranging an eventual transfer of the human's guardianship. Mane would occasionally peek over her shoulder at the paperwork in question but invariably the documents made her eyes glaze over (and not in the fun way). Aria took Mane places, such as a colorful Old Terran styled arcade that featured several VR rigs allowing one to snuggle with theoretical recreations of Terra's lost fauna, to a fun little rock climbing jungle gym sort of place for florets, and to the restaurant where she'd met Ih. Multiple times. Ih was inevitably the girl who waited on them. Mane suspected this may not have been a coincidence. 

When Mane had alone time she buried herself in every text she could find on the affini domestication. The ARGOS' library, she was told, was vast and complete. Ursula told her it was almost reminiscent to a good twin of the short story Library of Babel's titular setting. She wanted to go there sometime but the Crest's own collection was none too shabby itself. She learned a lot. That haustoric implants, for one, were grown from a sampling of an affini's cells and surgically grafted directly onto the subject's spine. She found a painfully boring tome on the subject and when she got to the legal ramifications of domestication she found one line in particular that stood out. 

"In becoming a floret, a Terran forfeits their legal rights." She underlined, circled, and highlighted that line in three different colors (and did each task angrier than she'd done the last). She wasn't brave enough to bring it up with Effus but she couldn't help stewing over it anyways. Besides, her fate was sealed. If she started arguing with these plants they would just pump her full of brain poison until it constituted about a third of her bodily fluids. No, she was a corpse that didn't know it was dead. 

And a compliant corpse stayed pretty for longer. 

Mane read less upsetting fare as well, of course. She devoured romance novels, the most interesting content the library in the affini part of the Crest seemed to be allowed to have, at a voracious pace. She was told the human section had its own, smaller library. It had its own distinct selection as well. Asking to go there felt like it might raise a yellow flag, though, so romance novels became her bread and butter. She spent every possible second sequestered in either her fort or the bathroom, consuming words at a breakneck speed. Mane lamented not having a room of her own, but that too felt like a dangerous emotion to express. Effus removed her cuffs the night of the appointment, and explained that Erias had filed to make her do so and that the appeal had been passed. 

Mane felt a sense of awe, which came and went in waves, at the influence Erias seemed to hold. She seemed to be an elder even among the immortal, star-hopping affini. How old did she have to be to achieve that status? Was that...heart of hers a deformity? Some kind of tumor? Or was it a vital organ she simply chose or had no choice but to leave exposed. If so, why? Was it some kind of defect? A show of vulnerability for her clients, to reject the affini's cultural hard on for untouchable superiority? Or was it a defiant expression of the same, a show of mock vulnerability performed sheerly in boast, as if to say, "come. Test me at my weakest and see just how powerless you really are, I dare you?" 

Mane pondered these matters in a dazed loop for days. The news were, shockingly, somehow not against the terms and conditions of her access to the tablet, so she used those as an outlet too. Affini news were painfully saccharine to the surprise of not a single being with a pulse-reading them almost made her feel sick. It was therefore self care, she reasoned, to ignore them entirely in favor of the more grounded information from the few local human outlets not run by florets. 

Rebels were taking her father's death badly, it seemed. His connections to Greshul Corp, and the well-known fact that he was expelled for his refusal to mistreat his underlings as badly as Uncle Seth wanted him to, had earned him a following even outside of the rebel circles he aided and abetted. Lots of people in Terran forums, including some who once had family that worked for him, mourned his loss. Many were outraged with his killer. 

In this digging, Mane learned that the affini seemed to be keeping her a secret. Whether this was motivated by concern for her safety or more calculating pragmatism was hard to say. She wasn't especially interested in having to discern that for herself, in any case. It seemed like far too much work for far too little. 

She tried not to dwell for too long on the consequences of her deed, either. These people didn't know her father-not the version of him that she lived with. He was a better boss than he was a father. She knew that from experience. There could be no ethical leadership under capitalism-god knows he hadn't truly been one-but he was an honest man with at least a basic human compassion for the laborers under him and he performed their duties alongside them. He was the brother of the CEO, and he had power none of them ever would-this was the only reason she'd ever found employment, after all-but compared to his compatriots…

She remembered the story of one of the planetary migrants on Greshul's payroll breaking down in tears at her father's departure, knowing that his replacement was going to work them to the bone and replace those that failed. 

Less than two months later someone died. 

Okay, Mane answered to herself, but he made you go to work the day after you got hit by a car. 

Sure, she rebuked, but he did give you the day off when Melody dumped your puppeteering ass. 

Mane laughed. Tears came down her face. She still felt as though he'd made the right choice. It felt like a bad joke, that being checked by an automobile (comparatively lightly and for her own hubris, in any case) was a less devastating malady than being broken up with.

Hell, he'd spared her longer when her hands had a bad case of poison ivy than for both of those combined! Though...the poison ivy was indirectly his fault for having her trim the hedge when she didn't have access to any good gloves, whereas both of the others were squarely on her. Plus, working in the sun with leather gloves on had made her hands even worse, whereas the bruising and exhaustion from the car accident wasn't made notably more severe by her labor the next day. 

Her mind occasionally, in those transitional days, drifted back to a specific sentiment that she saw in the places where she lurked. 

That Cain's killer should have taken Seth. That it was a horrible injustice for Cain to die while his brother lived. This was the only outrage at her murder that truly affected her.

The first time she saw it she flashed back to that night fourteen years ago. Her uncle pulling up to her aunt's home and rescuing Mane from her. What had he said when he arrived? She...couldn't remember any more. That part of her memories lacked the staying power, reinforced by trauma and years of grudge holding, that the kidnapping itself held over her. His exact words weren't that important, she supposed. What mattered is that he picked her up from the woman who lied to her face about her mother and brought her to a home that felt The next morning Seth drove her back to her mother. She learned later that Cain had tried to have her mother put in a mental institution, but that it fortunately saw through his shit.

"You're coming with me," Her father had said to her mother. When she scoffed and asked why, he answered simply "I have your son." 

She and her mother had both feared that morning that this would happen. When the cops couldn't tell her father to leave because his name was still on the property, when the stupid asshole insisted that Mane only wanted him gone because she was told to ask him to leave, when he finally left only because he heard that Mane had to get ready for school…

It occured to Mane, and this part she didn't remember, that the only reason her father didn't get joint custody was because Mane straight up threatened unprompted to run away from home if he did. 

Through that, Uncle Seth had supported her mother however he could...or so she'd thought as a child. He was rich, after all, the money to hire a lawyer that would crush Cain into dust would cost him nothing. 

Her father used to say that the CEO of Greshul Corp had been "more machine than man." It had always seemed absurd coming from the man who treated her so cruelly and walked over his wife like he did, but...only recently, Mane had considered that maybe it wasn't such a hypocritical insult. Perhaps it was injustice that she murdered Cain so violently while Seth was still out there.

She knew how that felt, after all. 

She remembered being five years old, sitting besides her mother in front of a casket.

Her grandfather, who had always fixed her toys and been so patient with her where her father and brothers never had. Her grandfather, who smiled and accepted the shitty cupcakes she made for him in the girly little oven every time he visited. Her grandfather, who deserved far more than her or her father to be allowed to live, lay dead. Killed by cancer. Killed by something affini medicine could have stopped.

She remembered asking her mother, her mind set on Sunday school, "so...when's he coming back?" That's how it worked, wasn't it?

"He's...not." Her mother answered. 

"Oh." Little Mane's stomach fell. The reality of death and human impermenance struck her all at once like a bomb. "That means I'll never see my pop pop again." 

Eva Greshul turned to hide her face from her youngest child and sobbed. 

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