Wherever she was, Serena was comfortable. Her head felt heavy, cloudy. As her eyes slowly and drowsily blinked open and closed, she found her vision was quite hazy. Still, she was certainly comfortable. Whatever bed she lay in was far and away the nicest she’d felt since, well, actually since not that long ago at all. And it wasn’t just the bed, the sheets were soft, the ever present distracting rumble of ship-board commotion was absent, there was actual, honest to goodness gravity. Serena was having a bit of trouble piecing together where exactly she was, though. And, frankly, the idea of scraping her thoughts together enough to work out the answer sounded like a chore. So instead of trying to figure things out, Serena instead decided to bask in it all. How could she not? her whole world was so cozy and distant and wonderfully peaceful. She rolled over in bed, and found her face buried in something smooth and soft and warm that made her whole body feel delightful tingly.
Just above her, Serena heard a pleased purr from a familiar voice, and a sleepy groan. Someone was in bed with her, stirring gently beside her. Some indiscernible amount of time later, there was a soft gasp, and suddenly a hand was gently running through Serena’s hair. The touch sent delightful sensations fluttering through her consciousness. Like a rock skipping across a pond, each wonderful touch sent ripples of electric awareness through her mind, only for her thoughts to still again the moment the feeling dissipated. Luxuriating in the touch, Serena nuzzled closer; the hand gently reached under her neck, and shifted her head to rest atop something soft and warm. The sensation elicited a moan of such sublime delight. A soft giggle sounded from above her, and, recognizing the sound, Serena slowly cracked her eyes open.
“Kenzieee,” she cooed weakly, smiling wide at the sight before her.
“Hi love.” How strange, Kenzie sounded so far away, but she was right there, looking down on Serena with a contented, sleepy smile. Any confusion was brushed away when Kenzie leaned down to place a soft kiss on Serena’s forehead, which replaced her thoughts with raw bliss. Squirming softly in place, Kenzie stroked Serena’s cheek, then gently stilled her wriggling by lightly pressing a hand to her chest. A sound at the farthest reaches of Serena’s awareness caught Kenzie’s attention, causing her to look up and off toward the other side of the room. Serena watched as Kenzie smiled, and said… something to whoever she was looking at. Keeping track of it all was getting hard, the drugs were starting to creep back over her mind, so Serena closed her eyes, and fell asleep to the feeling of her girlfriend stroking her hair.
Eventually, Serena awoke again. This time, her mind felt a bit more in one place and time instead of scattered in every direction of the cosmos. With her eyes still closed, she couldn’t ascertain much, but she was somewhere comfortable, though it didn’t feel like the bed anymore. Somewhere, she could hear the sounds of voices, though they were soft and muddled as though she were underwater. Wearily, Serena opened her eyes, her blurred vision focused slowly, far slower than usual, but as her surroundings grew sharper, she took a moment to ground herself. She was in a living room, on a sofa, across the room a television was playing some show she’d never seen. The room was dimly lit, with soft overhead lights casting a warm, but dull glow.
Stirring, Serena propped her up on her elbows and felt a light tug on one of her arms as she shifted. Her eyes moved to find the source of the feeling, and she realized someone was holding her hand; Serena hadn’t even noticed them sitting on the other end of the sofa. Now that Serena thought to look, she realized that her legs were actually draped across their lap, as well. Her vision trailed up the figure and, right, it was Kenzie. She was with Kenzie now. That felt like it should have been a bigger deal than Serena’s mind was making of it. It also felt like something she should actually be a little nervous about? Logically Serena knew that before Mirabilis had let her into her hab unit, Serena had been worried, frightened by the state she’d find Kenzie in. But now, mustering any feeling besides relaxed contentment seemed both difficult and unappealing.
Noticing her girlfriend was awake, Kenzie turned to her, and gave a warm smile. At the very least, Serena was glad that smile could still make her heart skip a beat with or without affini drugs in her system. And, oh, right, she was on affini drugs, wasn’t she? Mirabilis had taken her to her hab unit after Serena had tried and failed to convince the affini she would blow herself up if they didn’t do what she asked. Idly, she wondered if this was something she should be worried about. If it was, she wasn’t. A stroke of her cheek brought Serena back to reality, and she met Kenzie’s gaze. “Welcome back,” Kenzie breathed.
“How long was I out?” Serena muttered with a sleepy vocal-fry.
“About sixteen hours?” Kenzie mused, scratching her chin as she thought. “Between the drugs, the stress, and what I’m sure was a very unhealthy sleep schedule back on Petrichor, I’m sure you needed it.”
For a moment, the idea of having slept for that long stressed her out, she’d lost a whole day. Then Serena remembered that didn’t really matter. What had she lost a whole day of? The realization didn’t stop her from grumbling over it a little, though. Looking around, Serena took in more of her surroundings. “This is Mirabilis’ hab unit, right?” She asked.
“Yep!” Kenzie chirped brightly. “She brought you home last night. After… Whatever happened. She told me you were kind of anxious, and asked her to dose you, in case you don’t remember.”
“I vaguely remember that,” Serena muttered, trying to put the scattered and blurred pieces of her memory back together. “I wasn’t expecting it to be so strong though.”
“Ah,” Kenzie giggled. “She didn’t mean for it to be that strong either, actually. She’s used to dosing me, and I have a much higher tolerance than you do, clearly. Apparently she was so worried about your anxiety that she didn’t really consider that. We considered bringing you up, but she was worried that if we did, your anxiety might come back with a vengeance from how drastic of a shift suddenly being pulled off the sedatives would be. Plus, well, you were really adorable last night and I wanted to cuddle my doped up girlfriend. I must say, if I’m half as cute as you were last night when I’m high, then I totally get where the affini are coming from.” Gently, Kenzie reached to boop Serena on the nose, causing her to blush and squirm a little in frustration.
Kenzie just giggled, and reclaimed her spot on the sofa, pulling Serena closer as her gaze returned to the television. “What are we watching?” Serena mumbled.
“Oh this?” Kenzie looked back over. “Just some affini show. I’m not really following the plot but I like to have something on while I’m relaxing, y’know?”
Sitting up, Serena rearranged herself on the sofa, and sat herself beside Kenzie, leaning her head against her love’s shoulder, while her arms snaked around Kenzie’s waist. “I never knew that about you,” she murmured thoughtfully.
“When was the last time we had any time to do nothing but relax?” Kenzie had a point.
“Fair.” There was something about the way Kenzie was acting that Serena couldn’t place. Not something wrong or different, just something which felt important, but which continuously eluded her. She brushed the thought aside, she could think about it later once the drugs had fully worn off. Instead, Serena decided to appreciate the moment. Her gaze fell on Kenzie’s face, watching her as she idly stared at the screen, the way its glow illuminated Kenzie’s face and reflected off her beautiful green eyes was entracing, “You’re not wearing your shades,” Serena observed.
“Oh yeah,” Kenzie perked up, turning to look intently into Serena’s eyes and moving in close as she spread an eye wide with two fingers. “The affini installed these tiny filters on my pupils which compensate for my light sensitivity issues,” she explained. “I still tend to wear my shades when I’m out, ‘cause long exposure and things which are especially bright still tend to bother me. But the affini doctor says that the filters should be all I need, and it’s probably just a placebo that I still get headaches without them. Still, nobody’s complaining, the whole point of the placebo effect is it works, right?”
It was as she watched Kenzie casually and happily explain her eye-mods, as though it were any other day, that Serena realized just what it was which had been nagging at her only moments ago. Kenzie was normal; she was herself. Obviously, this was a good thing, but Serena had spent so much of her mental energy, had worked herself up so much over the notion that something horrible and irreparable had been done to the woman she loved. Clearly though, the more she spoke to Kenzie, the more she realized that was wrong. Which was, of course, a relief, but still a bit of a surprise, and not enough to completely exonerate the affini in her mind. “You seem… well. You seem Happy.”
A look of confusion crossed Kenzie’s face, as though Serena had just informed Kenzie the skies on earth were blue. It wasn’t wrong, but it was such a given that even pointing that out was a bit strange. Then Kenzie seemed to think on the comment for a moment, and a look of sympathetic understanding crossed her face. “Sweetheart, yes. I am. I'm very happy. The affini really do just want everyone to be taken care of, and Mistress has been nothing but kind, loving and respectful to me.”
“And your, um, ‘Mistress’ is…” Awkwardly, Serena gestured around them.
“Yes, Mira,” Kenzie answered. “She’s a good owner.” That word, owner, it didn’t sit right with Serena, Kenzie wasn’t a thing, she wasn’t property. The distaste must have been visible on Serena’s face, as Kenzie paused, and took a moment to more carefully consider her words before continuing. “I know it might seem uncomfortable that my relationship with Mira is inherently built around an uneven power dynamic, but I wanted this, Serena. Being her pet makes me feel safe, relaxed. I don’t really have responsibilities or anything substantial to worry about, and I have far more agency over my own life than I ever did in the rebellion, or before that when I had to choose between working a shitty job or starving to death on the street. Mira is considerate, funny, and a good conversationalist; she respects my wishes, my independence and my intelligence when I want to be taken seriously, and she indulges and dotes on me endlessly when I’m feeling submissive to her. I’m happy under her care.” There was an air of finality to her statement. Her words carried an unspoken implication that if Serena wanted to change Kenzie’s mind on the matter, she wouldn’t be able to. Comfortingly, Kenzie gave Serena’s hand a gentle squeeze as she leaned in closer. “I would like it if you could be happy here, under her care as well.”
Nervously, Serena shifted in place, breaking eye-contact and reflexively staring toward the door outside. “Do I have a choice?” She whimpered.
“I don’t know,” Kenzie admitted, with an honest soberness. “I had a choice, but I didn’t give the affini reason to believe I would be a danger to myself or others if left undomesticated,” she trailed off, shuffling uncomfortably, then gently cupped Serena’s cheek, forcing her to look into Kenzie’s eyes once more. “Serena, Mistress didn’t tell me what you did, but she says you caused a lot of trouble. What happened?”
Something about Kenzie’s tone, the worry bordering on disappointment, made Serena just want to hide away from it all. She had threatened people’s lives, threatened her own life, threatened Mirabilis, who Kenzie clearly cared deeply for. And sure, the danger had never been real, but the affini quite possibly didn’t even know that. And, if her plan had worked, she really would have been threatening her own life. Then there was Kenzie, if they had given Serena the gun, Serena would have used it to try and take Kenzie away from here. Could she even say that was the right thing to do, anymore? If nothing else, Serena was certain now any attempt to do so by force would have hurt Kenzie in ways she could only guess. Crushing guilt was crowding in all around her, tears streamed down her face as she attempted to look away, but caught herself against Kenzie’s firm grip. Seeing her girlfriend’s distress, Kenzie released her, and Serena curled inward.
“Hey,” Kenzie whispered. “It’s okay. Whatever you did, I’m not going to be mad. You’re not in trouble. Or, if you are, the worst thing that’s going to happen is you’ll get to live here with Mistress and me.” Kenzie drew Serena closer, letting her rest in the crook of her neck as she composed herself.
“I um,” Serena began, before trailing off as she looked for the right words. “Do you remember that story you used to tell? The oven scam story?”
“Yeah,” Kenzie answered, clearly a little confused as to why this was even being brought up.
“I did that.”
Time stretched on agonizingly slowly for the next few seconds of uncomfortable silence as Kenzie pieced together what Serena actually meant by that. When she finally did speak up, Kenzie’s tone was a mix of shock, incredulous bewilderment, and endless amusement. “You threatened the affini with an oven?”
“Um, yeah,” Serena answered awkwardly, her cheeks reddening at how ridiculous it sounded when Kenzie put it that way.
“And they bought it?” She asked between giggle fits. Any hint of the grave worry Kenzie had shown earlier had completely evaporated, replaced by what seemed to be amazement and boundless amusement.
“Uh, yeah. I mean, Mirabilis wound up calling my bluff because well… it’s a long story but as far as I know they believed the oven thing.” Her girlfriend’s amusement was infectious, and soon Serena was laughing right along with her at the ridiculousness of the situation. “Actually you know what? They still might not know, we should maybe explain to them that it wasn't real.” A hint of worry crept over Serena as she realized that, then, she took one look at Kenzie’s face, and they both burst into uproarious laughter. When they had finally laughed themselves to the point of exhaustion, Kenzie and Serena curled back up together, and the more subdued mood seemed to reintroduce her lingering anxiety. “Still I, I was trying to get a gun so I could threaten suicide and steal you away from here, and now. I dunno, knowing that you didn’t want to leave, knowing that if I’d succeeded it would have hurt you, I just… I can’t.”
“Why did you do those things?” There was no hint of judgment in Kenzie’s question, she seemed to just be sincerely asking.
“I thought the affini were going to hurt you, that they maybe already had. I wanted to save you,” Serena explained. This had to be where things turned bad, right? Where Kenzie was horrified by the idea that Serena would try to hurt her Mistress. What if the affini had done that to her? Made her mostly normal, but undercut it with unflinching loyalty to the point of zealotry. Serena clutched Kenzie tightly, flinching into her as she prepared for the worst.
Instead, what she got was a soft little coo, and a gentle squeeze. “Darling, I’m not mad at you. The rebels told us horrible things about the affini, but they were wrong. It’s not your fault you believed them; we were at war. The way the Terran Accord was, the way the rebels still are, believing different things are even possible isn’t easy. The way I see it, you went to extreme lengths against impossible odds to save me from what you thought were a race of horrible plant monsters. And, regardless of whether you succeeded or not, that’s kind of romantic as fuck.” Kenzie giggled, leaning in close and pushing Serena back down onto the sofa. “It’s sexy too. My dashing rescuer, risking it all to save me from the clutches of the dastardly affini, only to get tangled in their vines herself.” She leaned in closer, bringing her lips so close to Serena’s that they gently brushed together as she spoke in dulcet whispers. “Do you like how it feels?” She asked. “Their drugs, their power, your helplessness? You do, don’t you? I can see it in the way you squirm whenever our lips touch. You’re still sensitive all over, aren’t you? It’s okay to want this, Serena. It feels good to let go. You can trust them; you can fall, and they’ll catch you every time.”
The drugs had to have worn off, or, at least, that’s what Serena had thought. Clearly she had been wrong, as Kenzie’s seduction had completely reignited their grip. Every brush of Kenzie’s lips against her own, every caress of Kenzie’s fingers across her, every tickle of Kenzie’s hair against her neck sent Serena spiraling into more and more gasping, aching, yearning pleasure. “You know,” Kenzie whispered lasciviously, “there’s something I’ve been wondering for a long time.” Delicately, she ran her tongue along Serena’s cheek, drawing out a long, low moan as her body lit up in indescribable pleasure. Unable to stop herself, Serena began to squirm, flailing her arms under Kenzie’s ministrations, only for Kenzie to pin her in place at the wrists as she loomed over Serena on her hands and knees. “And that’s, how would it feel to kiss you, while we’re both drugged out of our minds?” Without another word, Kenzie leaned down, and captured Serena’s lips with her own, forcing her tongue into her mouth and stealing her whimpering gasps.
Serena was lost, the universe around her narrowed and dwindled until she could only consider the feeling of Kenzie’s lips on her own. Nothing had ever felt so good as those lips on hers. Time ceased to pass for Serena as she fell into an endless, empty abyss of stillness and thoughtlessness and pleasure. When she came to, Kenzie was still there, looming over her hopelessly out of breath. Her mouth hung open, and there was a distant, glassy eyed look to her which was, frankly, incredibly hot; was that how she had looked? Serena couldn’t help but idly wonder, perhaps even fantasize. Some semblance of focus returned to Kenzie’s gaze, as her dilated pupils narrowed and her lips twisted into a satisfied grin. “Damn,” she whispered. “You look really fucking hot when you’re incapable of thought, you know that?”
“Um, right back atcha.” Serena stammered, causing both to giggle.
Kenzie collapsed forward, and Serena pulled her into a hug, rubbing the girl’s back gently. “And that was with both of us on the come up. Imagine how good it will feel when Mistress doses us ‘til we can’t remember our own names and orders us to kiss until we pass out from the pleasure.”
And suddenly, a brand new anxiety sunk its hooks into Serena. “Will… will she even want me?”
“Darling,” Kenzie breathed, pressing a kiss to Serena’s cheek. “Of course she wants you. Some days, everything Mistress plans to do to us when she finally has you is the only thing she can talk about.”
“But, she thinks I tried to kill her. I tried to take you away from her.” What if Mirabilis never forgave Serena? What if she didn’t let Kenzie ever see her again because Serena might try to steal her?
“Knowing her,” Kenzie assured. “That probably just makes her like you even more. You were brave, and resourceful, and your motives were pure. Everything you did, you did because you love me, and Mistress knows that. There’s no way you haven’t already endeared yourself to her. I’m sure she’d be happy to take you as a floret.” When Serena’s only reply was an uncomfortable silence, Kenzie shifted, propping herself up so she could look Serena directly in the eye. “Is that what you want?”
The question hit Serena like a vine on a Terran gunship. With a few words, Kenzie had trapped Serena, had forced her to consider something she was by no means ready to answer, but couldn’t possibly ignore. After a long silence, trapped under her girlfriends intent gaze, Serena sighed, and answered. “I want to be with you.”
“You can be with me without becoming her floret,” Kenzie replied.
“I know,” Serena muttered. She actually hadn’t known that, but it felt pretty obvious in hindsight.
“So answer me, dummy.” Kenzie lightly tapped Serena on the cheek with one finger, then affectionately kissed her nose.
Opting instead to avoid the question entirely, Serena gave Kenzie a searching look. “Do you really trust her?”
“I do.” Not even a hint of hesitation could be heard in Kenzie’s voice.
Perhaps by this point she was just asking to avoid addressing the elephant-shaped plant in the room, but Serena decided to press the issue. “She’s never hurt you?”
“Of course not!” Even considering that possibility seemed to come as a shock to Kenzie. “And she never would, I mean, unless it was the fun kind and I asked her to.”
Frowning, Serena looked away. At this point, could she really continue to ignore all the evidence that Mirabilis and the affini at large really were benevolent? She took in her surroundings, the safety, the luxury, the detail. It was sort of hard to see all of it in the dark, but, actually, that was another thing, wasn’t it? “Does Mirabilis keep it dark in here because of your eyes?”
“Yes and no,” Kenzie answered. “She definitely keeps it this way for my benefit, but she actually likes the dark too. Her flowers only bloom in dim light.” Realizing what Serena was up to, Kenzie huffed a little, then pinched her cheek. “Now, quit stalling, and answer the question. Do you want to be hers?”
In a stroke of good luck, before Serena could respond, she was promptly saved from the question. That, however, was where her luck ran out, as she was saved by the front door to the hab unit sliding open, revealing the towering form of Mirabilis. At the sound, Kenzie perked up, face brightening. “Mistress!” She cried happily, beckoning her over.
“Hello dearest,” Mirabilis chirped as she crossed the room in two long strides, then sat down on the sofa’s currently unoccupied end. Casually, she reached over and ruffled Kenzie’s hair; from the way her face scrunched up and her eyes momentarily glazed over, Kenzie was more than happy to receive the attention. After greeting her floret, Mirabilis’ gaze fell on Serena. “And how are you feeling, Serena?”
“Um, I’m okay,” she mumbled. “I didn’t y’know, hurt anyone or anything like that did I?”
“You gave us quite the scare, dear, but we all know your heart was in the right place. Nobody is mad at you.” For some stupid reason, hearing Mirabilis say that actually made Serena feel a lot better. “There is… a lot we all need to consider. Moving forward, some decisions will need to be made about your actions, and how to respond to them. Fortunately I’ve put in a good word for you. The fact that your actions caused nobody any lasting harm, and were motivated not by any sort of misguided 'Free Terranism,' but out of fear for Kenzie’s safety has also lent you a lot of sympathy. I can’t promise anything, but I think as long as you continue to behave yourself, like you did after we got home last night, and continue to make my darling floret here happy, we will be able to come to a solution which everyone finds amicable.” Wordlessly, Mirabilis reached over, and plucked Kenzie up off of Serena, depositing the girl in her lap. Mirabilis took a moment to shower Kenzie with affection before hugging her tightly.
As she watched from the other side of the couch, Serena couldn’t help but feel a pang of envy. Strangely, she couldn't tell who it was directed at. A moment later, Mirabilis’ gaze drifted back to Serena, and saw the look on her face. Without warning, Serena suddenly found herself wrapped securely in vines, then deposited on Mirabilis’ lap right next to Kenzie. Surprising nobody but herself, Serena didn’t offer a shred of resistance as the affini held the two humans close, and lay back. When all three were settled and comfortable, Mirabilis spoke, glancing down at Serena. “So,” she began. “I believe before I interrupted you two, Kenzie had asked you a question?”