House of Flowers

by priestessamy

Tags: #D/s #dom:female #f/f #multiple_partners #pov:bottom #sub:female #bondage #breath_play #clothing #Human_Domestication_Guide #pov:top #scifi #trans_egg #transgender_characters

CW for a person realizing that maybe they're kinda sorta not doing so great mentally, and not knowing how to handle it. Also sometimes if you squint, you can see the beginnings of the polyamory.

Ophelia held the pretty teal dress with the layered skirts up to her body and looked herself over in the mirror. It suited her perfectly. Of course it did. Everything the affini produced was incredible. Plus she made a damn good model. She turned back to Sera who gave her an approximation of a smile. “That looks lovely. Think you’ll take it home?”

Right! She could just do that! This required some serious getting used to. Not in a bad way. Over the last few years, Ophelia had gotten used to not being terribly concerned about her income, so she’d been able to spend wildly — and occasionally got a thrill out of it. But there had also been those years when she really struggled — surviving on instant meals, crashing on friends’ couches. She’d seen both sides of capitalism, and no matter which way she looked… good fucking riddance. “I might as well!”

A leafy vine brushed her cheek, sending a small shiver through her. It wasn’t quite as potent as Cam’s touch, but still lovely. Oh stars, now she was thinking about that night again. She might never forget it — the parts she could actually remember, anyway. Her cheeks began to burn, and Sera gave one of her bright laughs. “I’m sure Cam will love it.” Did affini have mind reading powers?

“Is it really that obvious?”

Sera started for the door, giving her collar a light tug. “Jake isn’t likely to have noticed anything, but sometimes affini can see the after-effects. It’s mostly scent-based.”

Oof. Was it hot out here? The sun was so bright. She was definitely overheating from that. And not from the knowledge that every affini they passed could smell her pathetic desperation. “Uugghh… This is so embarrassing.”

“Not at all! It’s absolutely darling. You’re bonding in record time.”

Flustered and nearly stumbling over her own dumb stupid feet, Ophelia let herself lean up against Sera for support. She was rewarded for her submissiveness as the affini wrapped part of her cloak around her. It was a move that felt possessive, which only raised further questions. Cam had effectively put Ophie in Sera’s care. The two of them were friends, close friends. Was it normal to swap pets like that? That also reminded her of the others, going off on their own errand. What were they up to anyway?

She was too preoccupied to notice a crack in the sidewalk. Without missing a beat, Sera lifted her over it, and then decided to just keep cradling Ophelia in her arms. Affini seemed to like the princess carry, and she couldn’t blame them. They were just the right size. It reminded her of when she was younger and she would pick up her cat and cuddle it the same way.

“What’s on your mind, little one?”

“A lot,” she said before giggling softly, still quite embarrassed about just how easy she was to read.

That earned her a pleasant tremolo and a pat on the head. “Well, we’ve got plenty of time, and we’re still in the learning phase. So please don’t be afraid to ask.”

Right! She was living with nerds. Of course they would be only too happy to lecture on demand. “Is it normal to just trade off florets like that? Even fake ones?” She couldn’t quite keep the tone of disappointment from her voice.

At least Sera was nice enough to not tease her for it. “So long as there is trust between the two affini. And while Cam and I may enjoy sparring from time to time, I trust her deeply.” That made sense. The two did have the energy of an old married couple from what she’d seen thus far. She wondered how deep that trust went.

“What do you think they’re getting up to anyway?” Ophelia remembered their brief conversations in what she assumed was their own language. Secrets, secrets… could be lots of fun. But also she loved knowing things.

To her surprise, Sera emitted a noise that was… maybe kind of sad? “I’m not saying anything shocking here, but Jake is a bit of a puzzle. And Cam has already put in a great deal of work understanding how you terrans think. I still need time to properly study the culture that dominated the Terran Cosmic Navy so I can help him better. In the meantime, she’s much better equipped to deal with his… personal issues.”

Ophie smirked. That was putting it mildly. Even just on a surface level, he had difficulty knowing how to have fun or let loose. She couldn’t even imagine how deep his problems went. But Sera was right, Cam was dangerously intelligent. She’d only seen a fraction of that, just before her brain was utterly melted. Ohh, stars, that was so awesome. No! Focus, dammit! “I gotta admit, I’m eager to see what he’s like with some of that baggage taken off his shoulders.”

“You and me both, sweetie. Now! Back to you. Tell me all about your night with Camilis. I want details.” The hand that had been constantly petting her traveled down to tickle lightly at her belly.

Ophelia squealed and wriggled “It wasn’t even that big of a deal! She just used some, um…” She trailed off for a moment, trying and failing to recall what it was. Had Cam even told her the name? She remembered… red. But beyond that, the whole thing was a blur. “Well, whatever it was. It was just like… being really high. Everything felt so good. Even the air tasted better.” She flushed as she remembered the conversation that had led up to her first taste of xenodrugs. “It’s weird, um…”

“Ohhh? What’s weird, cutie?” Grrr, the way her voice lilted up all high and teasing like that! How dare she?

Besides, she wasn’t sure how to properly explain what it had been like to so perfectly vibe with an alien being. But then Ophelia remembered that she didn’t need to explain it. Sera probably already knew about that stuff. “We also have some kind of… thing? Like even just by being herself, Cam was able to draw me in. It was really nice.”

Sera smiled down at her again. “You synced up to her biorhythms. I thought I had seen the signs, so it’s good to know I was right. Of course it can still develop over time with any floret. But I hear it’s quite glorious when it occurs naturally, so soon after meeting.”

Something else came flooding back to her, causing Ophelia to gasp loudly and start poking and prodding at Sera’s chest plates. “I didn’t put it together! Ahh!!”

Now it was Sera’s turn to laugh and wriggle, though she got the impression that was mostly playing along with their banter than anything that Ophelia was actually doing to her physically. “Put what together, flower?”

She was grinning so broad that her cheeks started to hurt a little bit. “Jake! He was all like, ‘ohh, she’s unsettling, the room gets hot and my chest is all tight’ and I thought it was just a crush. But no! I think it’s that— that thing you just said!”

Her playfulness drained a bit and Sera looked at her more seriously. Ophie worried momentarily that she had overstepped some boundary. Maybe it even showed on her face, because she immediately got some more gentle soothing headpats. “I… don’t know about that, sweetie. Could be, I suppose. Or it could be part of the terran fight-or-flight reflex.”

She’s deflecting so hard. She wants it to be true but she won’t let herself hope. Cuuuuute! “Well, until Cam works some magic on him, we won’t know for sure. Stars, I hope she does. I think he’ll be alright once he can just relax.”

An image flashed in her mind of Cam holding Jake close and pressing a flower to his face, the same way she had done for Ophelia. And a knot of jealousy twisted up in her chest. What if biorhythms weren’t enough? What if Cam enjoyed the puzzle box soldier — he was so much more of a project than her. Ophelia had folded so easily. What was fun about that? Would the two of them be officially traded off? Then it was just her and Sera, both jealously wishing things had worked out differently. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d gotten her heart broken.

The touch of a large hand to her cheek snapped Ophie back to reality and she looked up at Sera. Oof, no, that was a shitty thing to think. She should be so lucky to have someone like this to watch over her instead. She smiled weakly, but that didn’t seem to be quite good enough.

Sera frowned softly, vines twisting with worry. “Is there more, dear? It’s alright if there is. We’ve got nothing but time.”

The dress in her hands was wrenched tight between both her fists, knuckles almost white. She eased up her hands, and watched with relief as it unfurled without a single wrinkle. Damn, even their clothes are superior. Ophelia forced herself to take a breath and calm back down. “Do you think Cam would even want me as her pet?”

The worry turned quickly into surprise, followed swiftly by the warmest, kindest smile she’d ever seen — and that was impressive since it was just an imitation. “Is that all? Oh darling, I don’t think you have a single thing to worry about. If you two really did bond that quickly, it’s only going to get better from here on out. I’ll let you in on a little secret…” She leaned in closer until their faces were inches apart. “I’ve seen the way she looks at you. And when this silly project is over, she’s not going to let you get away. If she does, I won’t let her live it down. She’d be giving up on a perfect floret.” She received a viney kiss on the forehead and a reflexive coo escaped her.

“Thanks, Sera.” She looked around from her arm nest and realized that the affini had spent that entire conversation walking back to their hab. “Hey, you like terran entertainment. Want to watch one of my old vids? You can learn stuff, and I can marvel at how incredible I am. It’s win-win.”

“I’m going to have to insist!” Sera carried her inside their massive home, going straight to the couch. In a fluid movement she was up on the cushions and dissolving into a formless mass of plant life. It probably should have been horrifying, but it was so damn comfy. And Sera really was beautiful, all teal vines and bright white leaves with those dazzling flowers. “Do you have a preference for what we watch?”

“Ooh, let’s do… Hey, vid screen, can you put on Terran Naval Academy?”

“Now now, little one, ask properly!” She was shocked by the stern simulated voice addressing her in much the same way the real affini did, the way Cam did, making her flush all over again.

“Mnf. Vid screen, would you please play Terran Naval Academy? Pretty please?”

“Good girl!” it chirped before starting the movie for them.

“A-Anyway, I think you’ll find this one pretty funny.” She sunk deeper into Sera’s mass and relished the strange new form of cuddling.

“Oh, is it a comedy?”

“Nah, it was supposed to be a drama. But I think in light of recent events, it’s going to hit pretty differently.” The lights dimmed around them as they settled in to watch. While some of the boring exposition played out, she offered up one last question. “When the three months are up… will we still get to see you and Jake?”

A few vines wrapped comfortingly around her torso like a hug. “Oh sweetie. I’m going to have to insist…”

Camilis moved along the sidewalk with Jacob, enjoying a comfortable silence. She quite liked that about him. Ophelia was darling, but she certainly did like to talk. Jacob didn’t bother with small talk. Granted, that meant he was more likely to be spending too much time in his head, which could create its own problems. But for now, she tried to keep herself from worrying too much. They had plenty of time to figure this out.

He did eventually break the silence. “Where are we going anyway?”

She gestured ahead of them to a hab that was slightly more colorful than the ones around it. The main material of the building was a soft yellow — or at least it had started out that way. Nearly every visible surface was covered in painted flowers. The sheer variety of them reminded her of Serafa’s ostentatious cloak. As much fun as she would like to have figuring out the mystery that was this former soldier, she knew that duty would ultimately fall on her friend’s shoulders. She could provide ciphers and keys, but Serafa would need to do the hard work.

This was where they would obtain the first key.

“I suppose you could call it a greenhouse. Though for the sake of accuracy, it would be more appropriate to call it a xenodrug nursery.”

His look of bewilderment was darling. “I hadn’t really put any thought into how it all worked…”

That was hardly a surprise. Much of affini culture was still a mystery to the terrans. In a process she had unintentionally picked up from Serafa, she withdrew her tablet and made a note to come here another day when they were being recorded. It would be good for the audience to see this as well. There was still so much education to be done! “Yes, terran drugs are almost exclusively produced in factories now. Or, well, they were. No longer. We cannot allow their production to continue. It is hardly a stretch to say that they fall under the classification of ‘harming others’. But your primitive drugs were mostly plants, no?”

He nodded along thoughtfully. “True.”

One entire side of the hexagon was completely open, and both floors of the interior were in full view. Even from the outside, the strong scent of so many flowers all blooming together was potent. A look down told her that Jacob was having some minor difficulty adjusting, though he was forcing himself to not show it. The poor thing.

As precious as it was that he was trying so hard to be strong and brave, it was hardly wise for a non-affini to enter this place without protection. A stand outside the building provided a collection of rebreathers for any species that might need to enter. Camilis reached out and plucked one of the terran models. “Here, darling. You will be needing this to avoid being overwhelmed.” On impulse, she went to affix it around his mouth before remembering his aversion to touch and stopped herself. Instead she simply placed it in his hands, trusting that he could figure it out. He was clearly quite intelligent!

Sure enough, he placed the rebreather over his mouth and secured the bands until it fit snuggly around him so that he was no longer inhaling all the raw xenodrugs in the air.

With that done, she resumed walking into the hab, giving the leash a very gentle tug. The flowers were being tended to by an affini and two busy little beeple. Each of them offered a friendly wave as they went about their business.

She could see Jacob staring and rumbled with light laughter. “Ah, you’ve never seen beeple before, have you? They were our very first domestication project.” She held out an arm, and without a trace of hesitation, both of the fuzzy darlings gathered to nuzzle into her vines and smell her flowers. “Their society has been invaluable to the Compact. Thank you, dear ones.” She gave each a gentle pat on the head before sending them back to their work.

With her terran in tow, she began to walk the rows of planters and trellises, occasionally brushing a vine cautiously against the petals of flowers. “I do not begrudge you any hesitations you may hold with regards to our xenodrugs, Jacob. Goodness knows, terran culture had a complicated relationship with drugs for millennia. ‘These ones are good and we will allow you to have them if you pay exorbitant amounts of credits for them — or you can simply suffer and perish without them. These ones are bad and shall go unregulated and if you use them you are a monster worthy of punishment.’ It must have been terribly confusing.”

He hummed thoughtfully and started to reach out for a nearby bloom of brillium cerulea, and she swiftly wrapped a vine around his wrist to stop him, pulling it back down to his side. “To be clear, our drugs can be dangerous in their own way without regulation. That blue beauty is a strong paralytic, best used with proper mixing and exact delivery.”

“Then what’s the difference?” As soon as he said it, his face contorted and he looked down at the ground. As though he had done something wrong by simply asking a question.

So much work to be done…

“We do not require anything in exchange. You can, if you wish, come here any time you like, smell every flower, pierce yourself with each needle. And you would swiftly find out why that is a poor idea, of course. But I can take one of these and add it to my collection. The only regulation is the sense required to use it properly.”

“If it’s so dangerous, why grow it at all?” His question was less fearful this time, and he did not look nearly so uncomfortable raising concerns.

“Because it can be used to pacify a naughty little sophont before they can do something dangerous. Or because you are in possession of a floret who enjoys helplessness so dearly that they want their very ability to control their body wholly removed.” She reached out, then stopped herself before she instinctively made some motion of affection and undid all this careful work. “There is no stigma. We have xenodrugs for medical needs, and others for recreational purposes, and there is significant overlap between the two. But they are all grown and tended to with the utmost respect.”

She paused her lecture, and her movement, to bring her full attention back to Jacob. “The other night, I administered a minor dose of euphoria carnatia to Ophelia. She enjoyed several hours of heightened sensations, then came down without any sort of crash. She slept the appropriate eight hours terrans need. Did you notice anything amiss with her since then?”

A flurry of emotions passed over his face, and they were difficult to keep track of. Camilis had recently gone on a tear, researching terran expressions. She felt as though she was becoming skilled at reading the nuances, but the speed at which he shifted was difficult even for her. Shock at the initial declaration, and something resembling disappointment. Then a more muted surprise as she pointed out Ophelia’s normal condition that morning. And finally a hesitant acceptance of her words. He worked so very hard to keep himself in check. Once he was no longer wasting such energy on unnecessary barriers, what kinds of wondrous things could he achieve? “Alright then. Your drugs are superior and amazing. The affini reign supreme once again. What are we doing here, Camilis?”

“Ah! I have been grandstanding. Apologies. Let me see here…” She resumed exploring the nursery for a time, humming deeply. “Here we are.” As she explained before, she plucked a small black flower from the dirt and held it carefully. No one complained or stopped her. She was free to harvest as much as she liked.

Camilis wished that there was a less extreme-looking version of it, but this was the xenodrug most likely to provide the effect she was looking for. The petals were technically more of a purple color, but so deep as to seem black upon first glance. There were five petals in total, growing on an angle, giving it the appearance of a rotor blade. At the center was a tiny thorn. It had the faintest glimmer from the sap that coated it.

She motioned to the affini running the nursery. “Excuse me, can we get a container for this?”

“Of course! Is this a gift?” His voice was gruff but affable.

She could not resist a hint of drama, glancing down at Jacob and nodding. “Yes it is.”

He returned a moment later with a small hexagonal box the same color as the petals. Camilis passed it off to him cautiously and he deposited it inside before artfully binding it closed with some bright white ribbons. “There we are, one nyx victorium. Would you like me to deliver this to a hab in the city?”

“That will not be necessary. This little one can handle a simple errand like that. Mm, I tease, he can handle plenty of complicated errands too, I would imagine.”

They shared a light laugh together. Jacob waited patiently until the exchange was done and the xenopharmacist placed the package in his hands. “What does the… nyx victorium do, exactly? And should I be worried?”

Camilis shook her head and began leading Jacob back out of the nursery and through the neighborhood. “We will continue to treat you privately as, effectively, sophonts. Nothing will ever be done against your wishes. However, we have all noticed the scars left on you by the culture that raised you. They can run quite deep, in some very unexpected and overwhelming ways. When and if you are ready to face those things, this xenodrug can be extremely helpful. It acts… Hmm, I suppose it might be reminiscent of terran alcohol. It will ease the military discipline, and stop the urge to throw up defenses.”

He once again displayed a series of complicated emotions, and she struggled to keep up. Disappointment, injured pride, grim realization, defeat, hope. Perhaps that last one was projection on her part. “But we don’t have to use it?”

“Gift-giving does not operate in quite the same way as I understand it did for terrans. Serafa has done her best to explain it to me. We give with no expectations. As you saw, I obtained that flower without any sort of exchange, much like your coffee this morning. Serafa could obtain one just as easily. I give it to you as a sign that I care about your mental health. And if you should ever feel ready to tackle those scars I mentioned, you can gift it to her in turn. That box will keep the bloom alive for several weeks, so there’s no need to rush.”

He walked along beside her, deep in thought. They were nearly back to the hab when he suddenly stopped moving. Camilis nearly didn’t notice until she felt her vine leash go taut. She turned back and saw him standing stock still, looking down at the container. His face had officially become impossible to decode. “Am I really that bad?”

“Bad? No!” She crossed the distance back to him in a single stride. Even knowing that he had difficulty with physical contact, she ignored that and wrapped him up in a tight hug. “No, little one, I am sorry if that is the impression you were left with. Serafa and I care about you, and we want to see you become your best self.”

To her infinite surprise, she felt his muscular little arms wrap tight around her torso, holding her close. He even let out a small sniffle as his grip tightened slightly. “I-I don’t… know what to do…”

“Let us help you. All of us. Myself, Serafa, even Ophelia. We can help you. You just have to let us.” She spoke softly to him, forcing herself to not accidentally push him into anything he wasn’t ready for.

Camilis was concentrating so hard on not unintentionally affecting him that she almost missed his whispered response. “…okay. Together…”

In one fluid motion, she lifted him up into her arms and he remained nestled in against her chest. She allowed herself a little hopeful rumble. This was good, this was progress.

One step at a time.

She carried Jacob into the hab, momentarily wondering if Serafa and Ophelia were still exploring the neighborhood since all the lights were out. But then she saw the two of them bundled up on the couch with the occasional flash from the vid screen lighting up the room. Ophie gave them a lazy wave from somewhere within Serafa’s vines. Taking a cue from her friend, she made her way over to join them, dissolving into her natural form with Jacob still nestled within her. There was technically enough room for both affini to stretch out comfortably. But she still insisted on letting her own plant mass mingle and lace together with Serafa’s. This living situation was having unintended side-effects.

Not that she was going to complain.

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