The Florette's Dilemma

39- I Shouldn't Be This Upset

by Motherlygirl

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

Cw for bad thought spirals, transphobic abusive family, and mention of a funeral service. 

Mane emerged from the darkness of the arcade on slow, cautious steps. She held her tablet nervously next to her ear and wasn't looking forward to whatever might come out of it. Sure enough, the voice coming from the other end belonged to Effus and it sounded worried to boot.

"Is something wrong, little one? Have you gotten lost?" It occurred to Mane that Effus had been calling her "little one" for...for a while. Had she started doing that as soon as they met? She couldn't remember well enough to confidently say whether she had. How did Mane even feel on the topic? She kinda liked that nickname, but it was entirely plausible that she only did because it reminded her of Ursula. She decided to unpack that later, though. Presently she had no time for it. "Little one? Dear? Is something the matter? You're breathing heavily- gosh, did somebody hurt you? Have you gotten into a fight?" She was starting to panic. Did she know something that Mane didn't? The Terran sighed and shook her head. 

"No, Effus, I'm fine. Just a tiny bit tired because- well," the realization hit her that she'd been scrounging on the floor looking for something which wasn't even properly lost. She felt her face heat up with embarrassment. "I didn't sleep that well. I woke up from my nap and couldn't sleep, so…"

"Mane…" Effus muttered. That time, Mane heard the voice not just from her tablet, but from two feet away. The two locked eyes and Mane hung up with her tablet. Effus hesitated slightly before she did the same, and when she did she sighed at the same time. "Mane...you got lost again, didn't you?" 

"I…" Mane looked away. "No. I just...Isawacutegirlandshe was sadsoI helped her look for something that she had dropped." Mane blushed harder. She felt regret in her heart. "We didn't find it." God, that was kinda pathetic of her wasn't it? The dumb little toy would be fine, it could easily be replaced if it wasn't, and even then, it wasn't even the girl's. Hers was going to be fine. Being so torn up over something so inconsequential…



"At least I'm not a pathetic crybaby that runs begging to the transes when I need something," she could hear her sister jeering in her head. Why had that only-

Right. She was crying over something and her brainworms were telling her it didn't matter. It reminded Mane of...her. One might expect this connection in her thoughts to rob the wriggling insecurities of their power, but no such relief came. She could dissect her awful thoughts all she wanted and it wouldn't make them go away. It wouldn't magically fix her to know where she was injured. 

"Hey, hey, heyyyyy, darling? Darling, it's okay, gosh, Maaaaaaaaaaaane," Effus voice twisted with an odd cocktail of concern and affection. It resembled how her mother's, how her friends' and teachers', would on the rare occasion that Mane truly let herself crumble. A vine wrapped itself around her. She didn't have it in her to resist it this time, nor did she want to. "Sweetheart, there theeeere, are you sad you couldn't find it?" Mane shook her head no. That was stupid! She was a grown ass adult, crying over a plastic toy! 

"I'm fine," said Mane with an unconvincing smile, "it's fine, I'm fine." She sniffled and tried to force her face back to normal. It...actually worked, which was a rarity here on this ship. "See?" 

"Sweetheart...I can feel your heart. You're not fine. You feel bad you couldn't find it?" Mane shook her head. That couldn't be it. It was absurd. 

"I looked everywhere," she said with pain in her voice, "It wasn't anywhere! I shouldn't be so upset-"

"You shouldn't be upset?" Effus asked. She sounded interested. Mane realized her misstep but it was already far, far too late for her to have any hope of backpedaling. "What do you mean by that, little one?" Mane waited half a second in the hopes that Effus would add some words of wisdom and give her room to wiggle free, but she was thrown no such lifeline. She had no choice but to proceed from there, and to do so with her usual level of worry. 

"I-I…" Mane whimpered. She tried not to hear her sister in her mind mocking her for being a crybaby, for getting upset so easily. Tried not to let her brain condemn her for failing the only human on this ship she had even tried to help out. She tried not to cry. She failed, she failed at all of it, she failed just like she failed that girl, she failed just like she failed everyone stupid enough to let her try to help them, everyone who wasted their time on her, just like she had failed her parents, failed her grandfather, failed her family, failed failed failed failed failed failed

She failed. 

"I…" Mane forced her brain back to the issue at hand. "This was-it's so SMALL, and I'm getting so fucking upset and wasting your time and it's fine it's FINE can we do something else?" She was a waste of time. At least her family would acknowledge it. 

"You can't even get a fucking job!"

"How does it feel knowing your entire family hates you?"

"No matter how many pills you pop you'll always be a disgusting man." 

"At least I'm not so delusional I don't know what a fucking woman is!" 

Useless useless useless useless useless.

"H-hey, dear, Mane sweetie-" Effus tried to coo to get her attention. It didn't accomplish what she'd hoped it would. "Little one, are you alright?" 

"I'm fine, I'm fine!" Mane insisted. "Please, I promise!" The tears in her eyes were readily apparent proof that this wasn't true. "Let's just go, you wanted to give me my medicine right? And groom my hair and stuff? We can go do that!"

-----------

Effus twitched. It wasn't with anger, but pain. She wanted to help this poor little thing, reach into her head and pluck these painful feelings out and...dirt. Relax. Getting angry at Mane wouldn't help, and getting angry at her brain wouldn't help either. She had to remember what Erias said the previous night: peace and patience. 

"Let's please just go!" Mane pleaded. "I'm fine, I promise!" 

"Dear," Effus protested. But you aren't fine, she wanted to say to the poor little human, please just let me help you. But it was clear lingering would only make the problem worse, and she knew now that pressing Mane only caused problems. "O...okay. I'm not convinced, but if you want to go do something else I will happily provide. Come, let's get you washed up and such okay?" Mane nodded weakly and allowed Effus to take her walking. Effus' roots contracted with pain as she contemplated what Mane had managed to say before she started having this panic attack. She tried to help a girl find something, and failed to find it, and was upset about that? Poor dear. "I'm sure you did your best, sweetheart, nobody would-"

"D-don want. Talk b-bout it." Mane heaved. She was properly crying now. Effus nodded slightly and grasped Mane's wrist in a gentle little circlet made of her vines. 

"That's okay dear. Come, come." Was she doing it right? She remembered when she blew up the previous week and felt shame wash through her petals. Well. She was going to do BETTER now, damnit. She rested a small mass of plant matter on Mane's shoulder but Mane pulled away, so she retracted it. Her core felt like it was going to shrivel up. She walked in silence and they soon arrived at their destination: the Sophont Care Center. 

"We're here, darling. Do you want to go in alone, or with me." 

"...alone." It hurt Effus to hear that, but she knew that Mane wouldn't be saying it if she didn't need alone time. 

"Okay, Mane. I'll be right here at the entrance. Take as long as you need to in there, alright? Here's your medicine. I wrote the instructions on a leaflet." She pressed a bag of medicine into Mane's hand and the girl accepted it. Mane turned and disappeared into the center. 

Effus, were she human, would have sighed. 

What happened in the arcade? 

"Mane…" 

----------



Aida lounged around in a lounge (fittingly) in the Crest's recreational center. One of many in the human section of the ship, it didn't see all that much use. It was, still, used often enough, and it wasn't like the affini would need or think to shut it down if it didn't. In any case, Aida was quietly lounging with a book in her hand. It wasn't doing a very good job holding her attention, though. 

"I'm boooooored!" She groaned. Two other florets raised their heads to look at her, but quickly returned to their duties. 

"Try drugs?" Asked a little robot body that she saw there sometimes. Or was it a robot buddy? A robot...operation buddy, perhaps? He had introduced himself at...some point, she remembered, but she hadn't quite been sure which he said at the time. At this point, she was scared to ask.

"I'll pass, thanks," Aida answered with a faint smile. "Wanna play ping pong?"

"My arms are too blocky to perform well at ping pong, sadly," the robot friend replied in a robotic voice that she knew for a fact was entirely optional and that he was doing manually. "They don't. Bend very good." He "flexed" his long, not very articulate arms inwards as far as they'd go as a demonstration. They were, in fact, quite poorly optimized for table tennis. "I'm good at beeping though. Beep!" 

"Beep!" Aida booped the buddy's smooth glass visor face. Both of them shared a playful giggle. "Wanna see...hmmm…wanna see if anyone will join us for hide and seek?"

"Oooh, hide and seek!" Hide and seek was this floret's favorite game, which he didn't remember telling Aida during an infodump the last time they met. "Hide and seek! Floret hide and seek!" The friend slid in circles and clapped with his impractical square shaped grabbers. "Yay!! Let's find friends!" He zoomed all about in search of willing sophonts to have fun with.

"Oh my god I love him," muttered Aida under her breath. She decided to join him in his quest to set up hide and seek. She asked a handful of florets, one of which was another friend in a robot body. A much more humanlike robot body, to be clear, but they were still neat. She found these sorts of matters fascinating, in all honesty, though she was entirely too attached to her flesh and blood to want to leave it ever. Seeing other cute pets operating these shells, though, it did put a smile on her face. They all seemed so happy, and the robot bodies varied so much in so many ways- whether big and supremely noticeable, or small and subtle. This was to say nothing of florets (and the odd, very rare independent Terran) who allowed their bodies to be physically altered, like the cute girl with the bear ears that she saw in the ARGOS's library from time to time. Life was just...so varied here in the vessels that resided in affini space. It gave all sorts of warm, wonderful feelings to Aida. 

"I found two friends!" Reported her robot friend, who zoomed in circles clapping his boxy robotic grabbers as he did. "Excited! Excited! Excited!" Awwww, that was cute. Was he saying "excited" himself or was the body housing him programmed to do that on its own? It was powerfully endearing either way, Aida felt, but she was still curious which it was. She saw two sophonts behind him, only one of which was a floret she recognized. They had literally doll-like skin, with big blushy spots on their cheeks. Aida found the idea horrifying in a vacuum, but seeing it make this sophont happy took the edge off enough that she still enjoyed seeing it on them. 

"Hi! I found two," Aida said back. As she did, she gestured behind her first at the robot buddy she'd enlisted and then to an independent Terran she knew who was named David, who was sitting nearby on a couch playing on a handheld game console. They immediately perked up and looked at her, confused. 

"What am I doing?"

"Hide and seek!" Trilled her robot buddy. "Hi new friend! My name is Friemd!" 

"Oh my god he's adorable." Normally David would playfully bully or pretend-dismiss Aida, both well aware that it was a jest made fully aware it wouldn't hurt her, but they seemed taken by Friemd's excited puppying. "I love him." 

"Me too!" Aida gestured at Friemd's head- which resembled a VR headset with an outward-facing LED screen that served as a face. "Look at the little visor! It changes color with his mood!" 

"Aaaaaaah," Friemd whined, pivoting in circles. His screen turned red at the sides and his eyes became a pair of "greater than/less than" signs. "No bully! Only play!" 

"You heard the buddy," David said with a smirk. They hopped off the couch. "Who's gonna be the seeker first?" 

"You're not a floret so it can't be you," Daisy teased. "Friemd's body is kinda clunky and hard to conceal, it's only fair if he gets to do the searching first." 

"No fair, no fair!" Friemd protested. His arms- the entirety of each arm- flailed up and down. "I have heat vision! It's not fair for me to go seek!"

"You could just not use it, if you wanna be fair" Daisy suggested. She wasn't sure if he genuinely didn't want to do it because he'd have an unfair advantage or if he just wanted to hide. Both were perfectly good reasons, of course (and even if they weren't, this was his favorite game), but she wanted to find a way to gently encourage him either way. "But you don't have to if you don't want to, kay?" 

"I can...seek? It's...fair?" 

"Yeah buddy," David chimed in, "plus, he-er, heck, you can still use it if you want. I'm the only independent here and I don't mind."

"Why do you specify that?" Asked the other robot in a female voice. They sounded less...upset or curious, and more worried. 

"Oh, simple. Florets are typically not as averse to losing, cause...ya' know. But does anyone mind?"

"I don't," the other robot answered. She sounded relieved. Then they added, "I'm Lummi, by the way. Genderfluid, she/her right now." 

"Pleased to meet you," David replied, "David. Nonbinary, he/they." 

"Ite," the doll-skinned floret chimed in. She seemed very happy. "Nonbinary or xenogender, I...guess? I'm never sure what the right wording would be. Dollgender but I still use she/her. For now anyway." 

"Nice to meet you!" Aida beamed. "I'm Aida. Binary trans girl, I know I know, boring. She/her."

"I'm Friemd!" Said Friemd. "He/him, but in a 'look at that funky lil guy!' Kinda way! Beep!" All eyes looked to the second sophont that Friemd had recruited. They shrugged awkwardly.

"I don't...really...know. They/them for now I guess? Call me Netty?" 

"Okay pals!" Friemd nyoomed in circles. He clapped again. "Let's go into the gymbasement!" Everyone murmured agreement that yes, Friemd was a friend, and they should go wherever he wanted to have their little game, and also that they would love a little Friemd soundboard. As they went on their way to said basement, they passed a room where the news was on. None of them paid attention to it.

"A funeral and passing service for the first human in affini space to pass on through violence is currently being scheduled. The Crest's crew has decided to use the ARGOS's Grevin Park as the site of the service. When asked why, the affini cited its dedication to one of the only affini to pass away during the terran pacification effort. Some worry that rebels may attend, but rest assured they will be unable to cause any harm and any who take action there will be swiftly subdued."

x63

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