The Love Dinghy

Leon wondered what it meant to be dead. He wondered, is it to be bereft of thought? Maybe it’s just eternal agony? Maybe, just maybe it’s a sense of peace knowing that everything is over and nothing could hurt you anymore.

He hoped for the last one because he felt he was about to find out.

“Sooooo.” Jaime said, wrapping her black-furred arms around his chest. Her hot breath tickled his ear as she purred. “You DO remember what today is, right?”

His hesitation was his downfall. As he searched for words, he felt claws digging into his chest, and Jaime spoke again, her words sweet, yet laced with vitriol. “You DOOOO remember, right?”

“O…of course.” He said, letting out nervous laughter. “It… it’s Valentine’s day, kitten. H…how could I forget?”

She clearly did not care for that answer as her claws dug deeper into his flesh. He dared not wince because, like any true predator, the moment she smelled weakness Jaime would pounce on him like a cat on a mouse, and not in the good way. Leon bore the pain, not letting out any sound until Jaime sighed and retracted her claws, pulling away from him.

He heard her step away and when he turned to look at her, a black tail slapped him in the face and he sputtered, pulling long strands of hair from his mouth. She looked at him and sniffed, crossing her arms across her moderately endowed chest. “Serves you right.”

“Kitten, come on, I didn’t mean… it’s just, you know, consumerist holidays and all that, right? Clearly you’d rather me show this affection every day rather than just one, right? Haha…” He trailed off as she looked at him with contempt, the irises of her green eyes having turned into vertical slits.

“How long have we been together?”

“T…three years?”

“And how many times have I told you I love Valentine’s day?”

“Uhm… a lot?”

Jaime’s black, feline ears went flat against her long, raven-black hair and she snarled, bearing pointed canine teeth. “A LOT!” Her mood shifted and she began to sniffle, rubbing the palm of her hand, which had feline pads upon the fingers, across her human-looking face. “I thought you loved me!”

“Honey, I do! I love you so much, but it’s just one day!”

“IT’S NOT JUST-!” She paused mid-sentence and then let out a sigh. She seemed to deflate like a balloon losing air and her erect ears and tail sank down to add to the effect. She gave him one more look before waving her hand and muttering, “Whatever…” She turned about and walked away, feline tail swishing behind her.

Leon sat on the couch in silence as he heard the door to the bedroom slam shut. He looked down at his hands, gripping them into fists before placing them to the side of his head and sighing deep. How in the name of God could he have fucked up that badly? He knew that she loved Valentine’s day more than she loved smoked tuna and ear-rubs, but he frankly couldn’t remember why. It didn’t help that work had kept him long hours over the past month and frankly, he had flat out forgotten about the holiday.

“Yeah, like I can just tell her that.” He muttered to himself, rubbing at his eyes with the palms of his hands. He knew he’d fucked up bad this time, but it was already three in the afternoon and there was just no time to set up a proper date like he’d done the past few years. He hung his head and resigned himself to a fate of sleeping on the couch tonight. He thought about it for a moment. Okay, maybe he’d be sleeping on the couch for a month instead.

But did it have to be this way though? He felt a surge of energy (or fear) power through his form and he looked up from his stupor. No… no he couldn’t let it end like this. He may have forgotten Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t do something about it before it was too late!

He hurriedly took out his phone and searched for various restaurants she liked, finding to his disappointment that they were all booked way in advance. Alright, fuck, how about a centaur-pulled sleigh? Nope, also booked. The Sharps Pub?… No, not even he was that desperate. He kept on searching despite the original failures but still found nothing that was open!

He looked in despair at his last ditch attempts and almost resigned himself to his fate once again when he noticed on the bottom of the screen an ad for “Captain LeVron’s Love Cruise.” He didn’t really read much beyond, “booking still available” and immediately paid for a reservation. He sighed in relief, turned off the phone, and got up to think about how he was going to word this to Jaime to get the least amount of scratches…

—————————

“Nyahaha, I see!” Jaime said, holding onto his arm as they walked down the moonlit pier. “You wanted to take me somewhere special, so that’s why you played dumb before, hmm?”

Leon could feel her claws slowly digging into the flesh of his arm through his heavy jacket. He chuckled and pulled her in close to himself before planting a kiss on her head. “Kitten, come now, when have I ever left something to the last minute?”

“Uhhhh, is this a trick question?”

“I… look, I’m sorry about earlier, but it was just part of the set up. You remember how happy you were when I said I DID actually have a surprise?”

“I don’t remember it quite like that.” Jaime said, tapping her chin as her ears twitched. The wind off the water rustled the red dress she wore, accentuating her lithe form. “I seem to recall sighing in exasperation as you kept whatever this is a secret from me.”

“Relief, exasperation, same thing.” He said, smirking.

“Yes, well… I suppose it was a nice surprise after all.” She fidgeted a little and held her large, black purse close to her side as she leaned close to him, her body vibrating as she purred. “I mean, normally we have a nice dinner together, maybe some wine on the balcony… but what on earth could you mean by having us go to the pier of all places? You know I’m not a fan of boats…”

Leon looked up at the dock numbers, scanning for dock thirteen. He spotted it two docks away and smiled broadly, letting her off his arm as he walked behind her to put his hands over her eyes. She giggled and let out a small, “Nyaaaa!” as he led her toward the dock. She held her furred arms out in front of her giggling the whole time like a schoolkitten until they reached their destination.

Leon noticed a crude sign at the corner of the dock proclaiming, “Captain LeVron’s Love Cruise, right this way into a journey you’ll never forget!” He read the sign with a growing worry, and slowly turned his gaze to the ship docked there. He stopped in his tracks, mouth going dry as dread forced a cold sweat to bead on the back of his neck.

“Nya? Why did you stop? Nyhaha, we’re here, right? Ohhh the waiting is killing me!” She put her hands upon his and quickly pulled them down, freeing her vision. Her tail waved back and forth furiously and her ears stood up tall in excitement as she looked at the sight before her.

She stood there, motionless, for a long while before her ears flatted to the base of her skull and she turned her neck so slowly Leon could swear he heard the muscles in her neck as they tightened. She gave him a look of utter contempt and said in a flat voice,

“What.”

Leon gulped and said, voice stuttering, “S…surprise?”

The boat tied up to the dock before them was not very large, in fact it appeared to be a modified fishing vessel for a small crew. It was made of wood that had seen better days and the crude, white paint slapped along the side clearly needed to be redone. The one-man wheelhouse was painted red and had various heart decorations upon it, and Leon noticed that the iron railings were also decorated with what appeared to be paper mache hearts.

The small deck was adorned with a table draped in a white cloth that had maybe a few stains on it, and two rickety looking chairs, also painted a garish variety of red and pink. The finishing touch to the whole valentine’s vessel was the elaborately written, stylized, “SS Looooooove” written on the side in faded gold lettering.

Jaime let out a low grumble in her chest that was in no way a purr. While most cats can either purr or roar, Jaime could somehow do both. Leon knew from experience just how angry she could be, and he hurriedly waved a hand out toward the vessel, saying, “It’s so rustic and romantic! You always said you liked natural things like this!”

“I said I liked NICE things also!” She said, giving an exasperated meow. “I don’t know why I thought this wouldn’t turn out this way, I should have known you’d half ass something at the last minute. Just… just take me home.”

“Come on kitten, don’t be like that, it might not look like much, but I’m sure she’s got it where it counts!”

“Where could it possibly have anything anywhere?!” Jaime groaned/

“Oh ho ho! The man is right my dear little kitty!” A deep, female voice said from behind them.

Both Leon and Jaime jumped, the latter letting out a low hiss, her claws springing out as her hackles rose. The newcomer let out a loud belly laugh and held out a human-looking hand in peace, using the other to wipe at her eyes as she tried to speak through her laughing.

“Oh ho ho! Oh my, oh my, no reason to be so scared, it is only I, Captain LeVron!” She looked the two of them over before nudging Leon and winking. “Mmm, she is a feisty little kitten isn’t she?”

Leon gulped and held out his hand to her. “I… uh, pleased to meet you Captain, but I think that-” He cut off mid sentence as instead of meeting his hand with hers, the Captain instead slapped a large, white, slimy tentacle into his hand. She shook it vigorously and he was forced to go with the motions, watching in confusion as he took her in.

The Captain was a tall woman, taller than himself, and she most clearly was not human. Her torso very much looked human but her skin was pale, almost snow white and seemed sort of rubbery in consistency. Her hair was long and silvery-white, hanging down around her red eyes and resting on the shoulders of her blue, antique captain’s jacket. Her most striking feature however were her ten long, rubbery tentacles that sprouted from where her legs should have been and writhed gently on the ground.

Well, perhaps that was a wrong, eight of them were actually arms as she was clearly a Kraken.

“Oh no no no, you have the handshake of a dead fish!” She said, sighing and pulling away before putting the smile back on her face. “Are we all ready to board?”

“Erm.” Leon said, looking over at his girlfriend, the feline woman giving the Kraken a look of utter disgust. He gulped and said, “I think we might be having… other plans this evening.”

“Nonsense!” The Captain said, slapping a tentacle around both of their shoulders, the suckers upon them sticking tight to their clothing. “You wanted a night to remember, hmm? It’s Valentine’s day after all, the greatest day of the year for the Cruise of Love!”

“Leon, get this overgrown pile of calamari off me right now!” Jaime said, staring daggers at him as she tried to free herself, her claws seeming ineffective at puncturing the rubbery flesh of the Kraken’s tentacle. He tried to break loose himself but found it utterly impossible. He was about to shout for help when she lifted them both high into the air with little apparent effort and placed the couple over the railing and onto the deck, still kicking and screaming.

“Mrrroooooow!” Jaime shouted, dropping to all fours, her tail straight up in the air. She made ready to pounce, even while wearing the small red dress like she was this evening. For some reason she didn’t complete the motion however and instead looked at her purse before gathering it up. This hesitation cost her though, and in that moment the Captain crawled up and over the side with her appendanges, beaming proudly at the captive couple.

“All aboard I see, and we didn’t even wait for the gangplank!”

“Y-you can’t do this!” Leon said, standing up and walking to her, feeling a little wobbly as the deck swayed under his feet. “We paid good money and we have the right to leave as well as if want!”

“Ah, but it is because you paid good money that you must go!” The Kraken said, looking utterly unfazed. She waved at the man and said “Pease, take your seat as we prepare to cast off and-oh!”

Jaime leapt forward at the Captain, looking nothing so much like a panther leaping out from the jungle. Faster than the eye could see, three arms shot forward from under the Captain and plucked the Catgirl out of the air, wrapping gently around her waist and arms. Jaime hissed and spat, but the Captain merely chuckled and delicately put her down, waggling her finger.

“Please keep your arms, legs, and tails on the boat at all times if you’d please!”

The Catgirl glared daggers at the Kraken, but did little more than hiss and spit at the her as LeVron hummed and went about removing the mooring line with her appendages. Jaime whirled around to Leon and hissed, “What the hell did you do? Did you even research this?”

“S…she has five star rating on Yelp?”

“How many reviews?”

“O…one.” He said, gulping. “From a… uhm… ‘tentacle-fan’ and… ah hell it’s her isn’t it?”

Jaime sighed and placed a hand on her forehead, shaking her head. “God, how long is this supposed to last anyway?”

“Uhhh…” Leon said, looking at the reservation on his phone. “It says it’s a three hour tour… Which is not ominous at all when you think about it.”

Jaime looked down at the dock, then to her arms and legs. Leon could tell she was considering making a jump for it, but she gave one final look to him and sighed, the fight going out of her. “Come on…” She whispered. “Let’s just get this farce over with.”

Leon watched her grab her purse with some delicacy and walk over to the table to sit down on one of the chairs. It creaked horribly and she groaned, placing her face as flat on the table as her ears were to her skull. He hesitated from joining her, looking over instead to the Kraken who was reaching a long tentacle over to the dock. She pushed off the concrete pier and they slowly drifted out and away into the dark waters of the bay.

The Captain made her way to the wheelhouse and a moment later, the sound of a whirring engine starting filled the air and the craft, which seemed like any form of technology should break it in half, began to propel forward at a faster clip. The captain rummaged around behind the dirty glass of the wheelhouse and a loud, static crack came from a nearby speaker, making Jaime cry out and place her hands over her delicate ears.

The discordant noise only lasted a moment before the Kraken said, deep voice magnified. “Goood evening ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We’re now leaving the dock on our way out into the bay. Please enjoy the complimentary music as we move into more open waters. Your server will be with you shortly to bring you refreshments.” There was a clicking sound as the speaker was hung up and a moment later soft, rather clichéd romantic music played.

Leon watched for a moment longer but found the Kraken utterly engaged in steering the vessel. He sighed and walked over to the table, sitting down on the other rickety chair and running his hands over his face and into his hair. He looked down at Jaime and saw her glaring daggers at him from behind her arm as she lay over the table. In the corner of her eyes he could see the beginnings of tears forming, and he knew then that he’d well and truly fucked up.

For five minutes they both merely sat there as the sound of the engine and cheesy romance music saturated the air. He looked down at his hands and opened his mouth to say, “I’m sorry” when he was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a tentacle holding a bottle of wine before his face.

“Refreshments?” The Captain’s voice called from over the loudspeaker.

Leon looked over at the tentacle to find that the Kraken hadn’t left the wheelhouse, but was merely stretching her long appendages out. Another arm holding two wine glasses also appeared and before they could say anything, she deftly uncorked the bottle with a sucker and poured the red liquid into the two glasses, setting them before the couple and then placing the wine into an ice bucket that another arm had delivered.

“Enjoy!” The Captain said before closing the speaker in a hiss of static.

The couple looked at the wine glasses and then over to the Captain. Jaime sighed and picked up her glass, sniffing it once before downing the whole thing in one gulp. A look of distaste came over her face and she shook her head, smacked her lips a few times, and then shook in disgust. “Ugh… this wine is disgusting.” Despite this, she reached over and grabbed the bottle from the bucket. She made to pour it in her glass before pausing and then throwing the glass over her shoulder so she could drink straight from the bottle.

Leon noticed a tentacle snapping out to grab the glass before it hit the deck, though the Captain made no rebuke or any motions at all. He frowned and looked at his own glass before gently placing it on the table. As soon as he did, it jumped into the air when Jaime slammed the wine bottle on the table. He fumbled with the glass, keeping it from spilling, and sighed as he placed the glass back on the table, intact.

“Kitten! Careful, you’ll break something.”

“Bah, break something. This whole boat is going to break, nya.” She shook her head, some color coming to her cheeks. “What a disappointment, nya.”

Leon frowned at her change in tone. Clearly the wine was better than she’d led on as she only let her natural feline accents slip into her speech whenever she was excessively happy or drunk, though he figured she was probably just tipsy at the moment.

He listened to the sounds of the cheesy music and the engine while the salty wind rustled his hair. The boat was moving faster than expected but they hadn’t quite gone out away from the other vessels in the bay either. He noticed other ships out in the water, bobbing gently while happy looking couples dined together, love mingled in their gazes. He looked to Jaime and only saw a deep loathing in her eyes, ears flat, and tail flicking in agitation.

Leon rubbed this face with his hands before sighing and saying, “Jaime, I’m sorry. I messed up, I really thought that… maybe I wasn’t thinking.”

“Nya-o, you weren’t.” She said, looking down. “You know I hate water too, nya. Stupid boat…”

“I know but… why come then?”

“Because of you- ” She was cut off as the speaker cut in again,

“Here we are!”

Leon blinked in surprise as the engine cut out, stalling the advance of the boat. The salty wind stagnated some, and only the cool breeze off the water came in instead of the powerful gusts from before. He frowned and looked about, seeing nothing before them but the open water and some small, rocky outcroppings nearby, buoys ringing them to keep boats from crashing. Basically, not much of a view.

“Aww what the fuck is it nya-ow?” Jaime said as the Kraken made her way out from the wheelhouse to the couple.

“How was the trip? Growing your sea legs mmm?” The Captain said, chuckling while her arms and tentacles waggled. She looked out over the dark waters and shrugged, “I suppose we’re here earlier than expected though…”

Jaime hissed and said, “Fantastic, nya. Nya-ow take us back to shore so I can vomit this wine everywhere, nya.”

“Oh my, someone liked the wine!” The Kraken said, lifting up the empty bottle. “It pairs so well with dinner, a shame there isn’t any left.”

“There’s some…” Leon said, holding up his glass. Jaime swiped it from his hand and, with feline grace, downed it like a shot before slamming the glass on the table. Leon blinked once before shrugging and laughing weakly, “Guess not.”

“Hmm hmm, well then, I suppose we’ll have to get another bottle for dinner then. I’m sure the two of you will find it magical! Now, if you’ll excuse me…” She made to leave when Leon raised an objection.

“Wait, this is where we’re stopping? It’s not really… you know.” He waved his hand. “All that romantic.”

The Kraken smiled and winked at him knowingly. She made her way below deck then, leaving Leon to sit there, gaping. Jaime chuckled before letting out a low growl, “I guess getting drunk is the silver lining on this shit sandwich, nya?”

“You don’t even like to drink.” Leon said, frowning. “You always regret it later.”

“Oh nya-ow he remembers things about me!” She said, letting her claws extend into the tablecloth, making a few new tears. Her expression wasn’t angry, merely tired. He noticed her toying with her purse again before she yawned and said, “What do you think she’ll serve, nya?”

“Uh… squid?” Leon said, shrugging.

“Pfff.” Jaime let out, chuckling at the bad joke. “What, she’ll chop off one of her tentacles and fry it up, nya? She’s got 8 of them, so it’s fine, nya?”

“She has ten, and only two are tentacles, the rest are arms.”

“Pfffff, what are you, a biologist, nya?” Jaime said, reaching over the table to push on his arm.

“Well, yeah, I am.” Leon said, smirking. “And you got on me for forgetting things.”

“A cat never forgets anything, nya!” She said, her ears standing up, tail flicking back and forth. “It’s known by everyone.”

“Oh, and what else does everyone know?”

“That this stupid boat trip sucks, nya.”

The mood instantly changed for the worse as Jaime’s expression fell. Leon frowned deeper than before as she looked down to the deck, her ears tucking down again. She played again with the tablecloth and realization came over him as he asked, “This isn’t about the boat is it? It’s not even about me getting something last minute?”

Her ears stood up straight and her cheeks reddened further , though she still didn’t look at him. “Nya? Nya-o, it’s… it’s not…”

Leon leaned over and put his hand over hers, giving her a warm smile. He opened his mouth to speak when he froze, looking at something behind her with confusion. She blinked up at him and then narrowed her eyes before whipping around to see a tentacle floating over her head. She froze, her ears standing up and faster than the eye could see, she lashed out with an arm to grab it. It pulled away just in time to avoid her however and dragged backward, the Catgirl swiping at it furiously.

“Oh boy, here we go…” Leon muttered as Jaime lost all pretense of civility, leaping up and down to grab the tentacle like a cat with a string toy. Of course, that’s exactly what was happening here. She may be so very human-like, but in the end Jaime was utterly inhuman, something he often forgot. He groaned and shouted, “Captain, please stop this!”

A deep chuckle came from the source of the tentacle and it pulled away to reveal the Captain coming from below deck, an assortment of food on various plates held in most of her appendages. Jaime made one last swipe at the tentacle before the Catgirl realized what she was doing and she stopped, looking utterly mortified.

The Kraken chuckled again and placed the dishes on the table before winking to Leon. “Can’t fight our natures, hmm?” She said to Jaime, “Come, come, sit down miss! The food will grow cold!”

He didn’t know how to take this candid statement, so he merely looked down at the spread as Jaime took her seat, burying her face in her hands. There was a small salad for each of them, a cup of what appeared to be a seafood gumbo, some bread, and a main dish of…

“Oh you have got to be kidding me.” Leon said, looking at the food. “Is this squid?”

“Never!” The Captain said, looking horrified. “It’s octopus!” She pointed at the dish of under-steamed octopus legs in a bed of roasted greens, some of which looked a little too roasted for his liking. She poured more wine for the two before smiling and asking, “Is there anything else I can do to make your experience more comfortable?”

“You can leave, nya…” Jaime said, the sound muffled through her fingers as she still held her hands over her mouth. The Kraken nodded and went back below deck after bowing and giving a resplendent, “Bon appetit!” The two were once again left alone on the deck of the still vessel out in the middle of the bay, surrounded by the sounds of the waves and cheap music.

“So.” Leon said, pointing at the food. “It actually is squid… well, octopus I guess. You like octopus, right?”

“I am so embarrassed, nya.” Jaime said, still hiding her face. “How could I have done that, nya?”

“Kitten, it wasn’t so bad.” Leon said with a reassuring voice. “It doesn’t bother me at all!”

“But it’s embarrassing to just act like some kind of house-cat, nya!” Jaime said, throwing her arms up to the air. “I’m better than this, n-nyo.” She caught herself at the end there before muttering something dark and shaking her head. “Can’t even speak right.”

“I think you speak just fine.” Leon said, shrugging. “And I like your more… feline side. It makes you more interesting.” He remembered how the Captain had highlighted this behavior, and he found himself smiling as she said without thinking, “And it’s part of why I love you.”

Jaime’s shoulders tensed up and she looked up at him with apprehension. “Even… after the way I’ve been acting tonight, nya?”

“Of course…” Leon said, chuckling. “Besides, it’s been my mistake this time, I don’t blame you.” He held out his hand to her and she paused before reaching out to entwine her fingers in his. They sat like that for a few moments, and Leon took in the softness of the pads on her hands, as well as the wonderful fur on her fingers.

Jaime gave a feline smirk, her cheeks still red as she muttered, “Well… it’s a rotten boat in an awful location with shitty wine and what smells like overcooked food but…” She sighed, speaking a little more candidly, “But I guess you’re here, so that’s what matters, nya.” She glanced back at her purse and her fingers tightened. She looked back at him and made to pull away to take the bag when the music cut off with a sharp sound like a record player scratching.

Jaime’s ears immediately stood up and then flattened down as she growled, “Oh what the fuck is it this time, nya?”

From below deck the sound of an accordion being stretched sounded, the music muffled by the distance, but clearly audible. There was a moment of silence and then a slow, discordant sound of the accordion being compressed played as the Captain emerged from below, her appendages pulling her up to the couple.

The accordion, an old thing that looked like it belonged to some Italian man with a trained monkey, was held not in her human-like arms, but instead in her tentacles, which played the instrument with some modicum of skill. She raised her arms into the air as the accordion was stretched out and she said, the music hanging in the air, “Your dinner entertainment.”

“No, God damn-” Jaime tried to say as the Kraken began to play in earnest and sing,

“Oh thiiiiis is the night! It’s a beautiful niiiiight and we call it the Belllllllaaaaa Notte!”

Jaime put her hands on her ears as the Kraken sung off key, her voice getting to even Leon. They both looked at her with utter disdain as she sang and neither one could even think about eating with this noise. The Catgirl stood up after a minute of this, her claws coming to the fore, and the utter anger in her expression seemed to strip the Kraken down. She took a step toward the Captain to voice her outrage, but before she could she heard, “THAT’S ENOUGH!”

The accordion fell flat and both the Captain and Jaime looked at the quietly fuming Leon. He took a few steadying breaths before holding up a hand toward the Kraken and speaking in a firm voice. “Captain, you appear to be a nice person, but your business leaves a LOT to be desired. Your boat is disgusting, your music is awful, your food looks like a monkey made it, and frankly I have no idea why we’re so far out in the bay when there’s nothing out here but some rocks.”

He took a deep breath and continued, “Honestly, I felt Jaime was jumping to conclusions, but she’s right. This has been awful. In fact, the only part of the voyage that’s good in any way is that Jaime is here with me, and I can’t even enjoy that because YOU keep interrupting us when we’re talking.” He groaned and placed a hand to his head.

“So just stop with this music and let me spend time with her.” He sighed, deflated, “That’s all I really wanted on Valentine’s day anyway.”

Jaime looked at him with wide eyes, her expression one of surprise. “Y… you really mean that, nya?”

“Yeah, I do.” Leon sighed. “I’m just sad I couldn’t make it as nice as you deserve. I know you really wanted something special for Valentine’s day.” He hung his head, “I’m sorry.”

Jaime bit her lip, her ears falling flat. “Leon I… I do care about Valentine’s day but it’s not because of the holiday itself, but because of what it represents, nya.” She reached into her purse and took out a small package, handing it to him.

Leon took the package and looked over the heart decorated wrapping paper before gently opening it up and pulling out a small picture frame shaped like a cat’s head. In the center sat a picture of Leon and Jaime, both smiling wide as they held hands inside a photo booth. As he looked over the photo he began to remember the night it was taken, Valentine’s Day, three years ago…

“Oh.” He said, remembering.

“It was the night you said you loved me for the first time, nya.” She gave a genuine, full spirited smile. “That’s why I love Valentine’s day so much.”

“Jaime…” Leon said, ignoring the Kraken to walk over to the Catgirl and embracing her. She reciprocated the gesture and the two stood there on the deck, holding each other in their arms despite the cool wind of the bay and the presence of the Captain.

“Ah, isn’t that something.” The Kraken said, chuckling. “And it looks like we’re just in time for the main attraction.”

Leon and Jaime looked out over the bay, seeing nothing particularly different. A moment later, Jaime’s breath caught and Leon followed her gaze to the little islands nearby and, to his amazement, he saw them light up.

It was not a man-made light, but instead a soft glow of some creatures upon the rocks which gave off a variety of colors that were red, green, even purple in one section. Leon studied a particular pattern of red glow in the center of the mass and his eyes went wide as he notice the shape they made.

A heart. They made a glowing, wonderful heart.

“It’s beautiful…” Jaime said, her breath coming in shallow as she held onto him while watching the light show.

“This is the niiiiiight, it’s a beautiful niiiiight.” Began the Captain from behind them, and while the quality hadn’t really changed, something about the atmosphere most certainly had. Though her presence was annoying, neither of the two wished to make her stop. They watched as more and more of the strange lights appeared all over the little islands until the Kraken finished her song, the accordion slowly winding down.

Leon and Jaime looked at each other, his human eyes looking deep into her feline eyes. She whispered, “Happy Valentine’s day.”

Leon smiled the same as he had in that picture three years ago. “Happy Valentine’s day. I love you.”

She shivered and purred, then stood up on her toes and kissed him deeply for a long while before pulling away, breathless. She took in a quick breath and said, “Acceptable, but promise me you won’t do this last minute shit again, nya.”

“I promise that I will not last minute book a boat ride with only one yelp review.”

“Nya… good enough.” She leaned forward again and kissed him under the stars and the ethereal light of the rocks out in the bay.

As the cold, February wind rushed over the boat, they stood in each other’s embrace, oblivious to the gentle chuckling of the Kraken who Captained the SS Looooooove. She moved away from the couple and pulled a small book out of her jacket labeled, “Captain’s log.” She looked over the numerous listings of couples who had booked her cruise and wrote next to their reservation, “satisfied customers.”

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