The creature didn’t like where he was being held. It was too warm. And dry. Far, far too dry. And he didn’t have enough room to stretch out his tentacles.
It wasn’t fair. He just wanted a tasty treat. There was this tempting metal thing floating in the deep ocean, and he could hear all the tasty soft things mucking about inside. He thought it would be child’s play to bust it open and have a little snack. Just like those clams he used to eat when he was just a spawnling!
But the soft tasty things inside were strange. Their upper form looked similar to his upper form, but their tentacles were far too few and too short. They moved with such rigidity it was a wonder they could move at all! They must have been some kind of eel though, a close cousin perhaps, because they used electricity to shock the heck out of the creature before he knew they could even do that. He woke up in this dry square little cave.
He didn’t like the cave.
He couldn’t get out of the cave. Not until they opened the door at least. After that, he was confident in his ability to overpower them and be free.
And then she arrived. He thought it might be a ‘she’ anyways based on how much bigger she was from the rest of the eel-cousins, but to be honest, he wasn’t sure. Nor did he really care. Beauty transcended morphology in his opinion, and oh, was she beautiful! Three of her four tentacles were petite, lovely little things, all covered in some kind of black hard algae. But her fourth tentacle was a glorious metal appendage with the image of a bright red star fish emblazoned on the side! Her upper form had brown cilia that flowed down in waves and her eyes were jellyfish blue.
It was love at first sight!
Day after day the eel-cousins brought the beauty to him, and day after day she would unwind a long thin black tentacle extension out of her metal appendage. She spent hours lightly licking him with the soft little knots on the end! It was such sweet torment; to be touched for only brief seconds! She chattered at him like the eel-cousins did, but he knew that true understanding could only come from physical communion.
He wanted to reach out to her so badly, to bridge that gap of understanding, but his progenitor taught him better manners than that. He waited, patiently, for her to close the distance; to reach out with her other limbs and embrace him as a mate should. Until then, he restricted his movements to returning her light caresses, as is proper courtship behavior. He didn’t want to mess up this opportunity! He would happily stay in this dry cave as long as it took to woo her to his side. Escape could wait until after their courtship was complete, and then they could leave together.
But one day his mate-to-be did not return.
One of the stupid eel-cousins came in with its own long black tentacle and attempted to seduce him away from waiting for his love.
Its attempts were pathetic. He couldn’t even feel them! How would it ever seduce a mate if it couldn’t put any force into its caresses? The eel-cousin’s black tentacle flailed about with none of the grace that his beloved showed. He was offended at how they were clearly mocking their courtship.
He missed his would-be lover. He grew restless and debated about renewing his efforts to breach the dry cave. In the end he decided to stay; perhaps his love would return to him in time. Surly she felt the instant connection just has he did?
The eel-cousins came in greater numbers to attempt to mate with him, chittering all the while. This angered him; one could only have a single mate! The bond was sacred and he had clearly already chosen his mate-to-be!
He thrashed around, damaging the little eel-cousins whenever they came too close to him. He even managed to grab a few to snack on for later.
Eventually his metal limbed beauty was brought back to him. He was overjoyed at her return!
But the lovely creature was damaged! Strange red fluid seeped from her face and limbs. He wasn’t sure what that fluid was, but it probably wasn’t good. He had to help her! Heal her, if needed! How could he call himself a worthy mate if he wasn’t willing to aid his beloved in times of scarce food and injury?
Before she could react, he reached his many tentacles out and reeled her in towards his center mass.
She thrashed weakly; whatever was wrong with her must have caused her to panic. He would sooth that away for her. Comfort her in this time of physical hardship.
He gently tasted her with his suckers as he cradled her close. With those soft touches came the mental communication he had been pining for ever since their first careful tentacle grope.
Oh sweet moon, she was filled with so much pain and fear! So much that he sat stunned for a moment. Truly his mate-to-be was a resilient creature, to withstand such suffering.
She chittered slowly at him, and via their mental connection he finally understood her flirty words.
“If you’re going to eat me, please make it quick.” Her voice was quiet and adorable; so light and high compared to his own throat sounds! It must be because it came from such a small chest cave.
Surly this must be a colloquialism.
“Rest easy, my mate-to-be, I will bring you comfort,” he sent back to her via stimulation of her nervous system.
Oh, poor thing! She was disoriented from whatever had happened to her!
“Let me heal you,” he pleaded. “You’re in so much distress!”
He could feel his beloved lean into his comforting grasp. Waiting for her to decide was agony, but he would not force his mate-to-be in any regard. Eventually she nodded and he felt her mental agreement. Her torment was immense.
Healing tentacles worked their way around his mate-to-be.
The black algae that covered her seemed to be removable? Excellent! The more direct skin contact he could get for his tentacles, the smoother the healing would go. His many appendages wormed their way under the algae-coverings and his suckers tasted every inch of available flesh. His two upper form limbs attached to the sides of her head, aiding in the mental connection.
Oh, she was sweet! Salty like home and with a pleasing flesh-tang as well. What a privilege it was to be allowed to taste her! He squirmed in pleasure and rippled his limbs further around his love; his suckers kneading her flesh. She moaned in response. He engaged carefully and sought out the many cuts and breaks to her skin and secreted pleasurable healing mucus onto them.
He…may have gone a little overboard with the healing mucus.
Totally justifiable! She was injured and the mucus would directly stimulate her nerves, blocking out the pain of injuries. And so what if he was feeling a little over protective? His mate-to-be should never be in pain. The very idea offended him.
As his tentacles explored her for more injuries, he noticed she had a fifth tiny tentacle hidden under the hardened black algae coverings! It was rapidly growing in size, though still tiny in comparison to her other tentacles.
He prodded it with one of his smaller arms.
“Oh! That’s, ah! Ah! Oh, please,” she said between heavy breaths and whimpers of pleasure. He felt very smug; his healing mucus was working well. Already he could tell that much of her skin was unblemished again and all of the red fluid had stopped leaking out.
Then that tiny tentacle of hers started producing mucus too, though only a small amount at the tip.
Oh, what a generous mate-to-be this beauty was! She was attempting to share her own pleasure mucus with him, injured though she may be. He swelled with pride and love. She was a good choice for a mate.
He coiled one of his smaller tentacles around his love’s leaking appendage, and coaxed the fluid out of her. It would be rude to force her to exert herself while still recovering from injury, even to produce a gift for him. He was so thrilled to share this with her!
In the mean time, he continued to explore the possible injuries on his beloved’s body. The metal tentacle felt and tasted delightful. He dedicated several of his own appendages to exploring it properly.
But wait! The thin black extended length of that metal appendage had been removed; the part that she had so charmingly flicked at him at every opportunity! They cut off a part of his mate-to-be’s arm!
How dare they! No wonder she was in pain!
A small petty part of him wailed inside. He loved that part of her metal appendage. It licked so delicately against his skin!
It was no matter. He loved her still, and together he would help her re-grow that black flexible length if and when she felt ready for such an event. He marveled at her resilience under the face of such adversity.
As he investigated, his deep probing tentacles discovered an access hole to the digestive system. At first he was cautious about further investigation, but his mate-to-be writhed with intense enjoyment when he carefully probed its entrance. He could feel her mind pleading for him to continue with his examination.
Just to be sure he wasn’t harming her, he slavered more mucus all over the area before he gently inserted one of his smaller tentacles in. The knowledge he would gain of his beloved’s health would be invaluable and she seemed to really enjoy the attention.
Reviewing her responses, it seemed she had been lacking in comforting contact for quite some time. There was a desperate needy quality to her groans that made him want to redouble his efforts. He would heal her and bring her joy at the same time.
He was going to be the best mate ever.
Soon after that her smallest tentacle produced its own glut of mucus. He lowered his mouth to sample the taste.
It was delicious! So full of proteins, vitamins, and minerals! What a gift, what a precious treasure his mate-to-be had bestowed on him! No wonder this tentacle was smaller; it contained such valuable fluids.
As pleased as he was with how happy he was making his mate-to-be, he was completely dismayed to discover how much damage her form had taken over her lifetime. Not only was she desperately underweight, but many, many scars marred her pale glowing flesh. He could feel the echoes of old bone brakes across most of her skeleton and, oh, her mind! Her mind had been terribly damaged by electricity. It was a surprise she could function at all.
His heart ached for his beloved.
“Tell me what creatures attacked you, mate-to-be, I will crush them and we can dine on their flesh,” he crooned to her. He slowed down the motion of the tentacles around her, pausing the healing so she could properly answer him.
“H-handlers,” his love stuttered out. “Punishment for not taming you.” He felt images of the eel-cousins in her mind as well as flashes of a chair that oozed electricity.
He felt dizzy. The eel-cousins were keeping her prisoner, and instead of harming him as they commanded, his beloved dared to court him at every chance. She had uncoiled her most sensitive tentacle near him and danced around with all the stunning beauty of a seahorse in a current. And while winning his heart, she sealed the fate of her own torment. They cut off the sweet limb she used to delicately flirt with him, damaged her flesh, and then electrocuted her mind!
Such an act of love, of dedication…he was consumed with awe and sorrow in equal measure.
Right then and there, he vowed to spend every effort to giving his mate-to-be a life of pleasure and freedom. Any treasure he could find would be hers; the freshest tiny squid to eat, the softest kelp to rest upon. No length was too far to go for the match to his heart muscle.
“Oh my love, my healing mucus can only do so much in such a short time. Will you come with me, away from this terrible place, where I can heal your mind as well as your flesh? You will want for nothing, and swear on my heart muscle that you will live in peace and joy for the rest of your days,” he entreated.
He was so nervous. He’d never asked a potential mate home with him.
“We…we could leave?” She sounded so uncertain. “But. They would find me and then they would recondition me. They always do.”
Misery and fear poured off of his mate-to-be.
“No! No, I swear this. They will never take you from me. I will protect you.” He was adamant. He could do this. The little eel-cousins would never know what hit them.
“Always, my beloved.”
His mate-to-be reached out with one of her flesh tentacles and brushed his face tenderly. He could sense the confusion in her as well as the lingering effects of the mucus that covered her. “What’s your name?” she asked.
“You may choose what to call me.”
“How about Steve? You look like you might be a Steve.” She smiled, showing cute tiny nubby little teeth. How did she eat with such dull teeth? He was fascinated. “I…I don’t remember my name, so I guess you can call me what you like, too.”
He thought for a moment.
“Bucky. I will call you Bucky.”
She smiled. “Alright.”
Steve disentangled his limbs around Bucky and let her collect her black algae coverings. Among them was the long thin length of tentacle that had been cut from her metal limb. She picked it up, and flicked it back and forth before coiling it up to rest on her hip.
It didn’t appear to need to be attached for Bucky to use it. Steve felt his heart swell with hope. Perhaps his love wasn’t as damaged as he feared! He looked forward to leaving this place and tangling their long limbs together again as they finished their sweet dance of courtship.
Together, the two of them waited for the door to open and for freedom to be theirs.
And when they left, Steve made sure Bucky took his thin black tentacle extension with them.