To her credit, Mirabilis had managed the incredible amount of self-control it took to keep Serena’s trip both mild and over quickly. She had long since lost count of the number of times she had held Serena’s squirming, whimpering form and felt the nigh irresistible urge to keep the good times going with another injection. But Serena was not her floret, as much as she behaved that way while under the influence, and Mirabilis had promised a less intense ride this time around. Mirabilis was a lot of things, but she was not a liar. That didn’t change how stars-forsaken cute Serena had been, or the fact that allowing the girl to come down from such a lovely high so soon felt like an act that should have been documented somewhere on a list of war-crimes. Regardless of how she felt about it, though, after a few hours, the effects began to wear off, leaving Serena mostly lucid, but still recovering while Kenzie was absolutely down for the count.
Admittedly, Mirabilis wasn’t too surprised by Serena’s wakefulness, she had barely been up half a day by the time her brain started to properly fit back into working order. Still, with Kenzie asleep, and Mirabilis too anxious about what a more lucid Serena might get herself up to without Kenzie there to rain her in, Mirabilis found herself in an awkward situation which affini very rarely had to deal with: being forced to make small talk with a completely lucid human she barely knew, but still felt responsible for. The two sat quietly, back on Mirabilis’ couch, each occupying their own cushion with a reasonable amount of space between the two. Both sets of eyes stared forward, staring at, but not really watching whatever show was on the television.
At some point, Serena coughed, clearing her throat as she did. Mirabilis looked over to her expectantly. Seeing she’d caught the affini’s eye, Serena froze for a moment, opened her mouth and closed it, then coughed again. Since she was basically auditioning to be the girls Mistress, Mirabilis saw fit to try and rescue Serena from the awkwardness. She half reached out with one of her vines, then stopped realizing she couldn’t actually use any of her usual tactics, then opened her mouth, letting it hang open for a second, found nothing to say, and shut herself back up. She thought she heard Serena start to mumble something, and perked up.
“Did you say something dear?” Mirabilis asked.
“Huh? No no I just—”
“Sorry I thought you—”
“Had to hiccup.”
“Oh I—my mistake. So you weren’t—”
“No, It’s fine I... mean. Unless you?”
“No not really.”
“Ah.” A soft grunt escaped Serena’s lips and Mira perked up again.
“Hmm? Are you okay dear?”
“Y-yeah. I just, uh, nevermind.”
More silence followed, Mira internally screaming at herself for being somehow confident enough to talk Serena out of threatening to blow up the ship, but incapable of starting a simple conversation without sticking a needle in someone.
“Is Kenzie um,” Serena began. “Is she okay to sleep alone?”
“Oh, yeah,” Mirabilis nodded. “She had trouble at first, but the reason I’m sitting on the side of the couch closer to the bedroom right now is because I have a few vines still back in bed for her to cuddle with.”
“That’s kind of you.” Serena murmured, sounding actually quite grateful. Mirabilis considered responding, but a cursory glance toward her couch companion indicated Serena seemed to have more she wished to say. “Kenzie is… different now that she’s with you. Not in a bad way. It’s just, that vibrance, that carefree nature and confidence, she rarely showed it before.”
“We haven’t really had the chance to discuss it in depth; I have, however, gotten the impression that her past was difficult. Not that this comes as a surprise. One of the reasons we were so eager to domesticate your kind is that just about every single one of you seems to have your own little collection of custom tragedies.” Truthfully, Mira had no idea what all had happened to her floret before they had met, but that possibly made things even worse, leaving her mind to run wild with the worst possible things she could dream up. Worst still, was the seemling very likely possibility that those at the top of the Terran Accord were capable of evils far greater than she could ever stand to dream up.
“There’s a period of her life, just before she joined the Terran Cosmic Navy, that she doesn’t really talk about. I get the impression she didn’t sign up for the navy by choice, it was probably either enlist or be sent to prison.” The mere mention of that word, ‘prison,’ caused Mira to stiffen. Such a reprehensible practice, she couldn’t bear the thought of Kenzie suffering in a place like that. For her own sake, Mira pushed the thought aside. Serena seemed to notice Mira’s discomfort, and her gaze a little at the sight. “I met her a few years before the war, I got a long-term contract from the Cosmic Navy delivering expensive and important equipment for them. Kenzie was assigned to keep some of the more complex mechanical cargo properly maintained, in working order, and ready to go once it was delivered. Took her a few months to really warm up to me, but when she finally did I got to see that vibrant person under there. She started to make friends, come out of her shell; there was always that shadow of her past lingering, but she was mostly okay. Then the war happened. We started losing, stress piled on. Things got even worse when Kenzie’s CO split off to join the rebels and took her with. The average soldier in the rebellion can be okay, can be like we were, but the leadership is composed of the most fanatical and xenophobic of the entire cosmic navy. If you thought the Accord was bad…” Serena trailed off, shuddering. “We weren’t loyal, we were just scared, but you can’t say anything like that in the rebellion. That’s how you get spaced; Kenzie lost everyone she trusted but me to tribalism and paranoia, and it kind of broke her. I’d hoped that when we got out she could start to heal, then we got separated and I just—I wasn’t sure I’d have someone to come back to.”
Was that an undercurrent of gratitude Mirabilis detected in Serena’s voice? She wasn’t sure; honestly, everything she’d just heard had left her well and truly rattled. Serena had given the barest, vaguest of accounts, but still, she filled in enough that Mira could connect the dots between what Serena had left out. The thought of Kenzie going through all that, even of Serena going through it, she couldn’t bear it. At some point, Mira realized she had started to tremble. That was when, to her surprise, Serena scooted over and took her hand.
“You know,” she began. “Seeing the way you react to this stuff. It’s a bit strange, for so long now I’ve seen you affini as these untouchable, impossibly strong and smart and capable beings. That was only made worse by everything I went through after my… attack. But now that we’re actually talking. I’m not sure, I guess the fact that just hearing about some of the things we used to consider normal makes you react that way it’s… well, it’s kind of cute. You’re more vulnerable than you seem,”
“Perhaps the reason individual affini seem so strong and capable is that we didn’t grow up in a system that chewed us up and spat us back out. It’s that same reason why hearing stories like that hurts so much,” Mirabilis mused soberly, then turned to Serena. “You understand, right? That’s the point. It’s why we do what we do; so you don’t have to go through that anymore. And there’s also because, well, you humans are absolutely precious.” She winked, flashing a grin.
Serena smirked in amusement, then nodded thoughtfully, and began a slow, careful reply. “It’s a nice idea. For a long time, I was the only one there for Kenzie. She was weak, so I had to be strong for her. But with you, she isn’t like that anymore. Honestly, with the way she is now, it almost feels like she’s the stronger one. And I guess seeing all that I have, I can’t deny the appeal of getting to let go.”
“It must have been hard.”
Mira paused, looking from Serena’s hand, which now tightly clutched hers, to the brave little human who had done so much for her beloved pet. At some point, she had scooted in closer. At some point, she had started to look scared, a little uncertain, in need of care. Mira looked to her, and gave a small smile. “Serena, would it be okay if I held you?”
* * *
Serena awoke in Mirabilis’ lap. She wasn't entirely certain how she'd gotten there or how long she'd been asleep, but she found she didn't mind. Languidly, she stretched and looked around, thinking about what she should do with her day. Then she realized it didn't matter; she had nothing she needed to do with her day. She could do whatever she wanted. With an amused little chuckle, Serena realized what she wanted to do most was go back to sleep, so she did.
The next handful of days passed in such a manner which made their delineation rather difficult. With no set schedule or responsibilities to compartmentalize the passage of time in her mind, Serena drifted, gently being pulled along a string of slow, lazy days which did little to differentiate themselves from one another. She would spend her time catching up with Kenzie, sleeping or napping whenever she saw fit to, exploring the nearby districts of the Baiera with Kenzie and Mira at her side, and, of course, being taken on delightful drug trips under Mira’s supervision.
At night, she would find herself still wide awake after Kenzie had been put to bed, and so, she would spend her evenings alone on the sofa with Mira, much like she had on her first night. The second night, Serena was far less nervous and awkward around the affini, she instead found herself relaxed, and actually sitting quite close to Mirabilis. They talked long into the night, Serena opening up about the difficulties of looking after Kenzie during the war and rebellion, her worries and loneliness during their long absence, how scared she had been when she first saw Neptune’s Tempest being captured. It didn't take long before Serena again wound up clutched close in Mira’s arms. When the third night began, Serena started to take her place next to Mira on the sofa, then paused, looked to the affini, blushed a little, and asked whether it would be okay if they cuddled. Of course Mira had said yes. By the fourth night, Serena didn't even bother to ask; she simply plopped down right into Mira’s grasp, and the two began to comfortably converse about whatever it was that came to their heads.
During late morning on the 6th day, Serena found herself silently and patiently waiting for Mira to administer her daily xenodrug dose, watching the affini expectantly as Kenzie—who had already been dosed—gasped and moaned delightfully in her Mistress' grasp. It was then and there, as she sat still, quietly, patiently and pleadingly looking up at Mirabilis, when Serena remembered that she actually had to give Mira permission. And with that, Serena realized something had changed in her. She hadn't felt a lick of worry or stress in days, she was happily dressed in a soft, brightly colored affini companion dress, and she was quietly waiting to be dosed with some drug that she hadn’t even thought to ask after the effects of—instead implicitly trusting in the notion that Mira knew what was best for her. That was when Serena understood that she and Mira needed to talk.
Her realization, and the talk it necessitated, did wind up having to be put on hold, at least for a little while, as Serena wound up spending the rest of her morning and most of her afternoon wrapped up in vines, wordlessly begging Mira to make the bliss she felt last forever. But when Serena found herself blinking slowly back into awareness, lying on her side in bed between Mirabilis and Kenzie, she understood there really was no way around it: Serena wanted to be Mira’s pet. And, in that comfortable quiet, basking in Kenzie and Mira’s comforting presence, Serena took her girlfriend’s hand, gently tugged one of Mira’s vines to get the affini’s attention, and embraced her new reality. “Mira?” She murmured sleepily.
“Yes, dear?” Mira asked.
With a soft smile, Mirabilis leaned in close, and planted a gentle kiss on Serena’s forehead, wrapping both her and Kenzie tightly in her arms. “Gladly.”