it's not a walk in the park

two. cushioned wounds

by cloverfin

Tags: #Human_Domestication_Guide #multiple_partners #nb/nb #polyamory #scifi #bondage #cuddles #D/s #discipline #dom:male #dom:nb #exhibitionism #hypnosis #m/m #m/nb #puppy_play #sub:male #sub:nb #trans_egg #transgender_characters

somehow between ch 1 and ch 2 I remembered how to write so the chapter length will probably be going up a bit! 

This is a high-key self-indulgent imagining of how a Class - J cafe would look and also what I would want the Affini to be like.  The goal is low-sad high-fluff!  

[chapter two: cushioned wounds]

 Valentine next woke up in the vines of an Affini. The light around her was soft, artificial, and cut through the fog of drugged sleep, pushing her to open her eyes and look around. She found herself in a room that she could only describe as being made of pillows. All around her were pastel blankets, cushions, and a few objects that looked like the pet beds she saw in old Terran media. It was all overly soft as if someone was worried that a single hard corner would damage the inhabitants of the space.  

She hated it. The Affini might think Terrans were pets but this was beyond demeaning. It may be cute, and it all looked so comfy… but no, this was just condescending to think that she needed to be kept in such an adorably decorated prison cell. She definitely didn’t want to wriggle out of the vines holding her and feel that green, mossy-looking blanket in a nearby nest of pillows. 

She tried to get a good look at the Affini holding her, but from what she saw it could’ve been any of the thousands that inhabited her planet. The vines were lined with needles, so they clearly took design elements from an evergreen tree. The needles were softer than expected, while somewhat prickly they had the effect of a short, wiry fur rather than being uncomfortable to touch. It was embarrassingly comfortable to curl up around her captor’s vines, and she snuggled closer without even realizing it until the Affini laughed softly. 

“Are you comfortable, little one?” An unfamiliar voice rumbled from under her, shocking her awake.  She picked herself up and out of the vines, stumbling back several feet and tripping over a pile of pillows, and falling onto her butt.  

"I'm not little!" she squeaked, struggling with the blanket she fell into and just getting hopelessly tangled. Fuck this was embarrassing. How did she instantly feel so incompetent around these stupid giant plants? It definitely wasn’t that they were so big and strong, and beautiful. That couldn’t be it, she definitely wasn’t thinking about that at all. 

Now that she was untangled from the blanket, and out of the Affini’s lap, she could see around the rest of the room. In one corner, two Terran boys were curled up in what looked like a cat tree. There was a second Affini behind some kind of counter, past which was another room just like the one she was in now, with several more Terran “pets” and Affini around tables with tea, coffee, and small pastries.

“Where am I? What is this?” She snapped, looking anywhere but the swirling eyes of the Affini in front of her. 

“Well, my flower, this is a cuddle cafe. It’s a lovely place where little domesticated cuties live until an Affini adopts them.” 

“So why am I here? I’m not an ownerless floret or anything, I’m independent!” A soft note of despair tinged her sharp words. Of course, she wouldn’t be independent anymore. That delivery person sent a social worker to her apartment and she promptly tripped over her own feet and had two different panic attacks. They look for any opportunity possible to recommend drugged slavery to any Terran they found, how would her case be any different after the massive fuck-up that was the house call. 

“Well you certainly were, petal, but Root and Aster decided that it would be safer if you were under a short-term wardship to assess your condition. If you’re a good girl we can probably have you back on your feet and your own as quick as a month or two.” 

“Don’t call me that!” Something felt wrong, hearing that weed call her a girl in that way, something making her skin crawl at the idea that these aliens saw her as a girl in a way that she wasn’t quite ready to think about. 

“Call you what?” 

“Good girl.  It’s demeaning, I’m not a child or animal.” That was a passable excuse for the spine-shuddering discomfort the term gave her. She couldn’t tell this Affini that she didn’t know who, or what, she was. It was too personal, it wasn’t safe to let other people know she was anything but unflappable.  

“Alright, petal. What would you rather I call you when you’re doing something worthy of praise, then.” 

“Just, don’t.  Let me go, stop calling me cutesy nicknames, and just let me get back to my room.”

“I’m sorry, but your room is gone. That whole building was entirely unsafe. The Affini compact will replace it with updated habitation units, and you will be guaranteed one if the wardship ends in independence, but you cannot return to your previous home.”

“WHAT? All my stuff was in there, all my clothes and- and all my personal stuff. Are you just, destroying memories?”

“We’ve collected all belongings stored in your habitation's three bedrooms. It’s all in storage while we figure out what to do with you. Flower, your cuffs are signaling that your heart rate is high. Will you please try to calm your breathing for me?”  So that’s what that beeping was. “I would like it if you were able to remain awake so you can settle into your temporary lodgings.” 

“Calm down? You just kidnapped me, took all my things, and you’re telling me you’re going to figure out what to ‘do with me?’” She paused, and took three deep breaths in and out, agreeing with her captor that staying awake would be better than another dose of sedatives. She was tired of getting knocked out by those stupid cuffs and their stupid drugs. “What is there to figure out? Doesn’t this usually mean I’ll be taken to your house and treated like some hypno-slave until I ‘agree’ willingly to domestication or you trick me into ‘endangering myself’ and domesticating me against my will? You already took my friends, what’s one more stolen Terran to you xeno-freaks!” 

“Your friends? Was that why the apartment was empty?” 

“Yes! You Xenos stole my friends and now they’re all drugged up and left me behind all alone in that fucking apartment,” she swallowed the sob that was building up. Her anger at being taken by the Affini began to ebb as she was once again swallowed by the loneliness that had filled the apartment she pretended was home. If she was being honest, it was like a breath of fresh air to be somewhere other than the cramped and dirty room. Still, it was the last place she’d felt happy before everyone left. She refused to leave those memories behind for the apparent comfort being offered here. 

“Petal, I promise that your friends either went willingly or were taken for their own safety. We may love taking care of sweet sophonts like yourself but it’s never without reason.” 

She wanted to believe what they were saying but it was improbably that her only friends found something better than the freedom they had together with collars around their necks. Not even the wonderful, delicate collars and carefree lives the propaganda videos promised, with their days spent curled up in their owners' vines.  Not even with the promise of advanced medical care that allowed their pets to change their bodies however they liked… well maybe it sounded kind of nice when Valentine thought carefully about it. 

Surely there was no harm in at least asking her captor’s name, it was weird thinking of them as “the affini.” 

“Well, if I’m going to be here for months, you might as well give me something to call you.” 

“My name is Juniperus Branch, sixth bloom.  You may use the Terran pronouns he, him, and his for me.  I already know your name, but can you tell me what pronouns you prefer, little flower?

“I don’t know.  Everyone uses she/her for me, but it’s not really something I’ve considered. Those will do, for now, I guess?”  For some reason it felt wrong, giving the Affini - Juniperus - her pronouns. Something about them always felt wrong to her but it wasn’t worth thinking about with everything going on. Not like Terrans were all that nice about that line of thinking anyways.  Being a girl was safer than exploring other options when those other options could mean getting harassed for being “different” or “wrong.” 

“Alright. Please let me know if you’d like to try something different, I want whatever makes you happiest.” 

Happy? That wasn’t an emotion she’d been allowed to feel for a while. Safe and peace could be allowed with multiple locks between her and the outside world. Anxious was always in the background of her thoughts, sometimes pushing to the front and keeping her frozen in place under the desk where nothing could ever get to her.  Well, at least if the anxiety came back this room was full of places to hide so it couldn't be so much worse than her bedroom in the apartment… Maybe just a small shred of happiness wouldn’t be so bad.  

“Would you avoid using feminine terms for me? I don’t know what I want my identity to be but somehow I don’t think it’s the one people have assigned to me.”

“Is it too presumptuous to ask if you’d like for us to try using more neutral pronouns? I’ve been told Terran language uses they and them to signify a gender-neutral person or a person of unknown gender and that seems like what you’re asking to be treated as.” 

Huh. Valentine knew people had other options but never thought of trying those options on herself even in the privacy of her mind. Or would it be, their mind? Internal gender thoughts were weird anyways, it’s not like there were social standards to live up to in their thoughts. Nevertheless, it sounded nice to think of themself as something other, other than a girl, other than a Terran in some way. Sometimes, comfort could be allowed, and it would make Juniperus happy if she was happy so maybe it would prove they could be trusted with independence.  

“I think that would be alright. But, us? You’re the only one I’ve been talking to?” 

“The cafe is owned by myself and my good friend Irisent, the one over by the desk. He doesn’t work with the florets in the cafe as much as I do, since he has two lovely florets of his own, but he’ll be as much involved in your wardship as I will.” 

“Only two? Don’t you guys like, own all the workers at this cafe or something?” 

“All? Oh goodness, no.  Most of the cafe florets belong to one or another of the many Affini on this ship.” 

Ah. Fuck. They were on the ship. No wonder they saw no windows in the room if there was no outside to be seen. Valentine supposed it made sense, to take the wards up to the ship. The cuffs they were wearing certainly made it seem, to some degree accurate but not entirely, that she was some kind of prisoner. 

“I do have one sweet little floret of my own, he and Irisent’s Terran floret are the ones sleeping over there. They’d very much like to meet you but got so excited about the idea of a new friend that we had to settle them in for the night a little bit early, poor darlings.” 

“Night? What time is it?” 

“Oh, it’s just about 19:45 by Terran clocks, just the right time to start settling you in with a late dinner before bed. If you’ll come with me, the kitchen is just past Irisent’s desk. We had chicken parmesan for dinner and there’s a serving for you, but if you’d like something different I can compile whatever you’d like.” 

“I’ll just take what’s ready, thanks.”  They beat off the vine attempting to wrap around her waist and scoop her up. “I can carry myself, stop touching me!” 

“Ah, sorry petal. You already have a nasty track record of tripping and falling so I thought it might be safer to carry you.” 

“No, thank you. It’s not that uncommon to lose your balance when surprised by 10-foot tall vine monsters from space.”  

“Alright petal.” Juniperus was clearly holding back a laugh, how embarrassing. They followed behind him to the kitchen, behind a door cleverly disguised by a seam in the padding on the wall. 

It was a large kitchen, with counters nearly as big as Valentine was, and a strange collection of devices. One looked similar to Terran ovens, but much more high-tech. Another was a large box with a clear front, displaying all the kinds of food one would find in a refrigeration unit, but some of it still looked steaming hot, like the plate that Juniperus pulled out and set on the large kitchen table. The final strange device was set into the wall and looked a little bit like a microwave without a door. 

“Sorry you couldn’t eat dinner with us, the Class-Zs lasted much longer than we were expecting them to, you nearly woke up on the shuttle so you were re-dosed and it clearly kept you under for a nice long while.”  Juniperus offered them a vine up to the seat of one of the chairs, and while it was frustrating to need the help, they acknowledged that they’d never get up onto the chair on their own. 

After a few bites into the chicken and pasta, they finally processed what they were tasting. The tomato sauce was smooth, with no chunks of tomato or onion to make it an unpleasant texture, and no spinach like their mother used to insist on including in every pasta sauce. Just chicken, sauce, spaghetti, and cheese, with a beautiful chunk of garlic bread on the side that they were saving to mop up the last of the sauce. Compared to the easy pre-made meals they’d been eating since the Affini arrived, and the synthetic sustenance bars they lived on before the invasion, this was beyond amazing. Almost a little too perfect, but who were they to complain about fresh, warm food?  

Maybe this whole thing, this wardship ordeal, wouldn’t be so bad if they could eat like this every day. The rooms they’d seen arguably felt safer, with no windows and secure doors and the soft place they could burrow into and hide if the world was too big. The condesencion and ownership things, Valentine could live without. But maybe they could ask the Affini to make their hab unit like this when they were independent again. Maybe they would stay on the ship so the rebel gangs wouldn’t be able to get to them.  

When the last bite of their dinner was gone, Juniperus took away the plate and handed Valentine a mug filled with hot cocoa, topped with tiny marshmallows shaped like flowers.

“Drink up, and then we’ll get you clean and into comfortable clothes, and find somewhere for you to settle in for the night, alright flower?” 

“I told you to stop it with the pet nicknames. My name is Valentine. And I don’t need help getting clean and changed, so don’t even think about it!” They huffed, giving Juniperus a side eye from where they hovered, clearly just waiting for a chance to tangle them up in their stupidly fuzzy vines.  

The bathroom was another trek across the pillow-room and hidden doorway away from the kitchen. In it was a large deep pool they supposed was a bathtub, a huge shower, and a ridiculously gigantic mirrored vanity with a stepstool up to the counter so that Terran-sized sophonts could use it. The vanity had labeled drawers and a cabinet that listed the supplies and clothes within. Juniperus reached into two of the drawers and pulled out a soft hoodie, flannel pants, and brushes for both hair and teeth, handing the toothbrush to Valentine and settling the other supplies on the little bench next to the tub. 

“Would you like a bath or a shower, little Valentine?” 

“A bath would be nice, but maybe don’t fill the tub up all the way. I don’t quite fancy a swim.” 

“Of course, come check the temperature to make sure it’s comfortable.” 

With a little adjustment, the bath began to fill with warm water and soft pink bubbles, until just up to their knees in depth. When Juniperus was satisfied that all way to their liking, they left with a “Just call if you need anything!” and Valentine stripped off the pajamas they were in when they were taken from their home. They folded them carefully and tucked them behind the vanity, fearful that the Affini would take them and they’d never see the last thing they had from home ever again.  

The bath was lovely, just perfect to soak away the anxiety that had been sinking its claws into their mind like a stubborn wild animal. They found bottles of shampoo and conditioner by the side of the tub, and a small detachable showerhead came away from the large bank of faucets so they could rinse their hair after lathering the soaps into it. 

After Valentine got out of the tub, they found a big fluffy towel hanging by the bench with the clothes Juniperus left out, so they quickly dried off and slipped into the new outfit. A quick brushing of hair and teeth later, they opened the door to the bathroom and stepped out. 

“Juniperus? Where should I sleep?” 

“Ah, there you are! Here, I’ve scooped out a little nook in the corner for you, would you like to pick out a plushie from the compiler before we settle you in?” 

Plushies? They hadn’t had one since they were a kid, but they always loved to look at them longingly in stores when they were an older teen. For some reason, they never bought themself any when they were living on their own, maybe it was a residual shame from their mother making fun of their “childish interests.” 

“Yes, please! Do you have any dragons?” 

“I think so, let me search the catalog.”  A quick search using the datapad Juniperus was holding found pages upon pages of dragons. They selected a larger one in a soft sage green that looked very floppy and soft, and a few minutes later the other Affini walked by and dropped it into Juniperus’ waiting vines.  

Juniperus scooped them up as well, with only a couple of soft squeaks of protest. After all, they were sleepy, and with the plushy delivered to their arms, it wasn’t so bad to be carried. The plushy was almost as big as Valentine and so soft and fluffy that all protest at being picked up was smothered by fleece and stuffing.  They were carried to a small alcove dug out in a large pile of blankets and pillows, a particularly mossy-looking comforter spread out and a large, treetrunk-styled bodypillow lining the spot clearly intended for their head. 

They were set down in the middle of the alcove, and both Affini worked together to tuck Valentine in carefully, settling the pillows around them so nothing would fall onto them during the night but they still felt settled in and surrounded so that it was less like sleeping in a large open room. Somehow, without Valentine even having to ask, they knew to tuck a water bottle in close by so they could grab it if needed in the night. By now they were just too tired to protest at how the pair was treating her like one of their “florets” and too busy nestling themselves into the cubby and around their new dragon plushy. It was honestly kind of nice to be taken care of for once, and the two Affini seemed to understand exactly what they needed to feel safe enough to sleep.

As they left, the lights dimmed and a soft sound filled the room like old Terran TV shows had in the background when characters were in the woods at night, but even more natural. With that and the softer, deeper light that filled the room, it was as if they had been transported to an old Terran forest for a camping trip. It was deeply comforting. Within moments of being tucked in with the new dragon plushy, Valentine was struggling to keep their eyes open. The pillows and soft blankets finally pulled them into a deep sleep, the sounds of the night drifting through their pleasant dreams.

As always, love getting comments as long as they're not mean 

Probably going to be a minute before the next chapter, I have exams this week :-:  It'll hopefully be in the next couple weeks but Inktober is eating up a lot of my time as well.  

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