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Plants Are People Too

Posted on Sat Aug 8th, 2020 @ 7:04pm by Alden Loxley & Daiyu

Mission: The Milk Run
Location: On Board Fortune’s Echo
Timeline: Day 10 - Evening

He hadn’t really paid much attention to the little cactus plant that sat covertly in its small dry pot in a recess of his cabin’s wall. Not more than a passing glance and the occasional (when he remembered) drop of water to keep it alive. In return, said gymnocalycium had caused exactly zero trouble since Alden had taken possession of the space aboard the Echo. The only reason he considered the tiny moon cactus now was the equally quiet, and way more mysterious new member of his crew.

Was she though? Crew? Alden smiled at the thought that had automatically assigned the small, nervous young woman to his protection. He needed to stop picking up waifs and strays… didn’t he? And yet, that method of recruitment had accounted for most of his existing crew so perhaps that was why Daiyu had slipped so easily into his good graces. Dangerous, Alison had said, it was dangerous to think this way, that everyone was a potential friend, but even with his best attempt at conjuring paranoia, Alden couldn’t imagine the fragile little lady being a threat.

So, he stopped outside her cabin door now, cactus in hand, and knocked twice in quick succession on said portal.

“Hey, Daiyu,” Alden called softly. “I need your help with something, please?”

The door down to Daiyu's bunk cracked open just wide enough to allow a single eye to peek through. "What can I do?" Her voice was soft and questioning, not quite childlike but very demure.

Alden held up the cactus as evidence of his serious failing with regards to botanical matters. "It's a matter of life and death," he said quietly.

"What did you do?" Daiyu asked. "That poor cactus... So neglected."

"Um," Alden looked suitably guilty. "I did nothing. Never really had to look after plants before. Just people... horses... cattle." He reached a hand up to touch, but not push, her door and tilted his head to the side as he asked. "Would it be okay to come in?"

Daiyu turned around without answering, but left the door open. Inside her cabin she dug around various compartments, mumbling as she searched. Finally finding what she was looking for.

"Cacti are not meant for the black," she said in a louder, chiding voice. "You have overwatered in place of inadequate sunlight. Would you drown a person simply because they needed to sleep?" She connected a multiple bright lamps to converge on a single spot on her dresser and then put the potted cactus there. "You obviously can't be trusted with this little one. Maybe I'll return her after she's dried out and gotten her strength back."

He stepped inside the cabin, surefooted, but slow, then Alden took up a position over to the side, neither blocking the exit or crowding his newest addition. He let slip a smile as Daiyu chastised him, content that he had drawn her interest from any wider concerns and focused her energy on something useful. He hadn't forgotten her reaction to being released from that pod prison, or those words about her lost plants.

"It seems not," he agreed, offering a shrug and an apologetic nod. "But since I can't be trusted, I think it would be better for our lil cactus here if you took charge from now on. If you get the feeling, somewhere in the future," Alden added. "That I might be trustworthy, you just let me know though. Deal?"

"That's what I just said," Daiyu said as she poked a drainage hole in the pot. "But why do you trust me? After I told you I ate the others, I mean."

Alden frowned. "I trust you with the cactus," he clarified, though that was a half-lie. Letting her stay on board his ship was definitely a form of trust, yet he decided to consciously remain in denial on that score for the moment. She was, after all, a tiny slip of young lady, right? "Ate the other... plants..." He wondered out loud, turning it from a thought to a question with the tone of his voice.

The words stung Daiyu like an insect bite. She visibly flinched and threw Alden a painful, grimacing scowl. "I didn't want to. I didn't know... know how long... I would..." Her voice cracked as her scarred face began to wet with tears from her dark almond eyes. Slowly, like a melting snowman, she collapsed into a squat and hugged her knees against her chest as she hid her weeping face in her forearms.

"Aww, hey...." Alden's voice was soft and worried, as if were speaking to a younger sibling who'd just been yelled at unfairly and deserved some love and support. "I didn't mean to..." Upset you.

"It's okay, Daiyu," he told her gently, taking a step closer so that he was within reach, and though Alden didn't yet attempt to touch her, he crouched down to be nearer the young woman's level. "You survived," he added, heartstrings duly played. "That's a good thing, alright? You did what you had to do." Then, finally, unable not to attempt to comfort, Alden reached out a hand and lightly rested his fingers on Daiyu's arm in what he hoped was a gesture of comfort.

Daiyu recoiled slightly from Alden's touch. "Why did you do that?" she asked. "Don't I... disgust you?"

He kept his hand in place, didn't move a muscle, and waited while she asked her question. "I just..." Alden paused. "I wanted to let you know you were safe." A frown deepened on his face at Daiyu's second question. "Uh, no?" He shrugged, wanting to know what made her think like that. Baby steps, Alden decided. "Daiyu, did someone else tell you that you were?"

At the question Daiyu jerked her head away and looked down. She avoided answering directly. "How could I not disgust you? I... I am flawed. Marred. Inside and out." Memories of Brother Pervis flashed through her mind. Her eyes drifted to Alden's hand on her arm. "Nobody touches me for pure reasons."

That sentence brought a darkness to Alden's expression, a grim frown that had nothing to do with Daiyu herself, and everything to do with someone who might imbue a young lady with an impure touch. He had some experience in that area, though it had been complicated.

"None of us here are flawless," he said, and he gave Daiyu's arm a light supportive squeeze. "But you have my word that no one on my ship will harm you. And if anyone tries to touch you like that again, I'll end them."

Swords swing both ways though. Daiyu was not without sin herself. She was a killer after all. "And ... If I improperly touched another?" Her dark almond eyes peered up at him. "Would you end me too?"

There followed a long moment of silence as Alden locked his dark blue gaze with Daiyu's own. She'd suffered abuse of some kind, of that he was currently sure, but that didn't excuse her from enacting her own on those he cared about.

"It's a possibility," Alden said. Seemed a good time to explore this topic a little deeper though. He retracted his arm and sat crosslegged down on the floor opposite Daiyu. "Someone hurts you," he said, "and you hurt them back. It's understandable. Someone helps you, and you hurt them anyway. Not so much. Do you care about the difference?"

Daiyu rose to her full height and threw off her robe, revealing her almost naked body. The scars looked proliferous like flesh-colored vines, and more than just lacerations and cuts. Some suggested burn marks while others were clear remnants of medical incisions like an olive-complected Frankstein's monster.

"DO I LOOK LIKE I CARE ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE?!" she screamed at him. "THIS IS WHAT HELP GOT ME!" She fell to the floor on her hands and knees and simply wept.

Silence resounded loudly for a second or two as Alden's brain caught up with current events and struggled to find the words to express any part of this brand new horror. He winced in the aftermath of Daiyu's scream, mouth open, eyes reflecting a new horror to add to his existing collection. And this one? This had top billing.

No. He thought. No, she didn't.

A soft mantra of Chinese cursing began the man's restoration of a path to some kind of normality, his mental steps continually tripped by the sight of that young woman and the mess some fucked-up team of assholes had made of her. Body and soul.

Fear spiked. Sympathy crashed with disbelief and revulsion.

"Daiyu. What the Kuh Wu Ching Soh did this to you?" There was a steely anger twisted about his mood now, and none of it was directed at her. No one deserved that. Did they? He didn't reach towards her this time, Alden was mesmerised by the chaotic mix of torturous detail mapping a nightmare across the young woman's body.

"Who did this?"

"I don't know know!" Daiyu wailed into the floor, still on her hands and knees. "IdunnoIdunnoIdunnoooo..."

Naked, wounded (even past tense) young ladies who were screaming and crying.... This was absolutely a hands-off 'conversation' and Alden realised he'd subconsciously backed up slightly.

"Daiyu," he repeated, forcing calm into his voice against his better judgement. "You don't remember, you can't say, or you don't know?"

"Wŏ bù zhīdào," Daiyu whimpered softly. Then she pounded the floor with her fist and repeated it in a shout. "Wŏ bù zhīdào!!!" (I know not)

Enough.

"Enough!" He didn't realise he'd spoken the word out loud until she reacted, but Alden was very conscious of reaching out to grab a firm hold on the young woman's wrist. He held them both there, in place, no twisting, his force exerted only hold Daiyu's arm and prevent her from continuing to smash into the deck. "Daiyu. Stop."

To the contrary, Daiyu began to thrash against Alden's grip. Her wailing turned to angry grunting right before she bit his forearm above the wrist.

"OWWWW!" He yelled out, pulling his hand back as swiftly as he could and backing away out of immediate reach.

Something primal awakened within Daiyu. She went from biting to snogging, but no less aggressive for the transition. Teeth and tongue meshed together as much as lips all along Alden's neck and shoulder. Feral grunts and snorts accompanied the harsh grasping from Daiyu's fingertips that held Alden's hair in a death grip.

"No-no-no-no-no-no-NO!" Alden scooted backwards, but Daiyu moved with him until his back was against the cabin's door. He held up his arms to unsuccessfully defend himself, resisting the urge to kick out and punt her back across the floor. "Gerroff!" He managed, unable to bring himself to grab outwards at her skinny little naked form, pushing palms outward in a futile attempt to stop her.

Another yelp of real pain followed as she grabbed his hair and Alden then tried to manhandle his tiny attacker into a bear hug. "DAIYU! OW! STOP. IT! LEGGO!"

Daiyu licked Alden from his collar bone to his ear, then let out a growl as she nipped at his lobe a little too hard.

Well that escalated quickly.

"OW! Daiyu, PLEASE. Stop!" He said, one more time, his voice coloured with minor desperation mixed with a growing horror as he firmly grabbed her shoulders. Then Alden pulled her body in against him, her back to his chest, and wrapped his arms tightly around hers, trying to contain the little demon girl. "STOP, Mei Mei," Alden insisted. "It's okay, it's okay..." It wasn't though, was it? Someone had seriously fucked this kid, in more ways that one. "Just stop..."

As suddenly as her advances had begun, Daiyu abandoned them and crawled underneath her blankets.

"Get out!" she shouted from her bunk. "But leave the cactus!"

He stood up, slowly, checking the various locations that sang out in pain, and Alden simply stayed there for a moment, face aghast, breathing a little quickly as he tried to process this new development. She... yeah... she really had.

"You licked me," he said, and it sounded strangely confusing to hear those words spoken out loud. "Daiyu? I don't..." Alden wondered what he could say that would help and came up short. This was, well, new in a really bad way. He took the few steps that brought him close enough to reach out and 'comfort' her, then thought better of it and backed up again. "I'll get out," he said. "But... I want to help." Not go to the Special Hell though, he considered privately.

"No more uninvited licking, okay?" Alden requested, wincing as he spoke the words. He opened the door and stood a moment in the doorway. "If you can handle that, you can keep the cactus."

"Zǒu kāi!" she shrieked from beneath her blanket. Go away!

"Okay," he said, with a soft sigh of surrender to his absolute failure and definite sense of being utterly freaked out. "I'm going... 'Night."

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