And now he was an adult.

He had moved into another den, a place that needed his help. He was an accomplished healer, now, who knew how to help everybody. People admired him. He felt like he belonged.

But Cornflower hated it. It hated the structure, the day-in day-out, the same faces. It wanted out.

It didn’t matter to Acorn. He hated Cornflower. More than once, he had attempted to get it off, wrapping himself in thorns and vines, cutting blood circulation, running head-first into rocks. But it remained, taunting him.

It was still roughly the same size. But it had more control over him. He would go into dark trances.

Cornflower would waste both of their time making these… things. He didn’t know what they were, and he didn’t care to ask. They were the “Cornflower-Things” and he kept them in a corner of his chamber, where they slowly accumulated. They came in many shapes – a leaf wrapped around a rock with stems, a flower that had been flattened by a large stone, berry-stain pawprints on a piece of bark – but they all meant nothing to him.

He resented them, but getting rid of them made things even worse. One time, he had thrown out a Cornflower-Thing – he couldn’t even remember what it was, anymore – and woke up to find himself covered head to toe in bleeding scratches. It wasn’t like anyone even asked him what had happened, but it was embarrassing for him.

He couldn’t date. Cornflower was unruly, making arbitrary commands, demanding to not be here. He would blurt out humiliating comments, dumb pick-up lines, and he would have to run. So he didn’t date.

His few friendships were strained, and they eventually dried up. It didn’t matter to him. He kept to his work.

And now he was dying in a cave.

But at least he was alone, unobserved. And he knew what that meant.

“Cornflower?” he asked, with the last of the strength and the air in his lungs.

There was an itching in the back of his head. The voice that came out was much older than the last time they had spoken: “I don’t want to talk to you.”