Aero pulled into the school parking lot at 2:27. His F150 growled as he switched off the ignition. The hot middle of June sun beat down, immediately warming up the truck now that the air conditioning wasn't running. It was the last day of school, and his girlfriend Talli was waiting for him to come pick her up. He'd gotten out of school a couple weeks earlier and had driven the 4 days to get to her.
College, he thought to himself, is the worst when you're far from the one you care about.
He looked at his watch and then at the doors.
"After driving for 4 days, you'd think that 3 minutes would be speedy quick," he mumbled. "I hate waiting."
He got out of the truck and walked into the school to the front office. The registrar called him over.
"Can I help you with something sir?"
"Yes ma'am. I'm here to pick up Talli."
"Of course. What's your name sir?"
"Aero. I'm an out of state friend, visiting for the summer."
"That's nice. Would you like me to call her down?"
"No thanks, I want to surprise her. Can you give me directions to her classroom?"
"Sure." The lady wrote the directions on a little memo pad and handed Aero the sheet.
"Thank you!" he said as he walked out the door and down the hallway. He found the door and knocked twice. A teenager with close-cropped hair opened the door.
"You need something?"
"Yes, I'm here to pick up Talli. Could you tell her that her ride is here?"
"Sure, whatever." The student turned around and looked over at Talli. "Some guy's here to pick you up."
She packed her books into her bag and walked over, peeking around the corner to see Aero standing there. She ran out and wrapped him in a hug.
"What are you doing here already?" she squealed. "You're not supposed to get here for another couple of days!"
They walked out to Aero's truck as they talked, Talli grinning and holding onto Aero's hand.
"Obviously, picking you up from school. Roads were clearer than I was expecting." He grinned as she playfully shoved him then pulled him back into a hug.
"I've missed you so much! I can't believe you got here so quickly."
"How did you get here?" she looked at him questioningly. "Cuz this is your truck, I recognize it from the pictures. Don't tell me you drove here. I thought you were going to take a bus or something."
"Me, on a bus for that long? 16 and a half hours to New York on a bus with people I knew was bad enough. I drove here. 4 days of travel. Where do you think I've been the last few days?" Aero groaned and leaned back in the seat. "I've been living out of this truck. Didn't even get a hotel room. Just drove and pulled over to sleep. Stocked up on food, which explains the multitude or wrappers and bottles."
Talli giggled and kissed his upper lip. "Your truck looks like a guy's truck. Nothing out of the ordinairy."
Aero turned to look at her. "I usually keep it so clean though."
"You, keep anything clean? Yeah, right."
Aero looked at her, frowning playfully. "Contrary to what you might think, I try to keep this truck clean. So
I kinda let everything else slide."
"Everything was dirty BEFORE you got the truck," Talli snuggled up under his arm and smiled.
"You got me there. You win," he hugged her to his side and drove out of the parking lot.
"So how was the drive?" Talli looked up at him curiously. "It couldn't have been much fun."
"The end justified the means." Aero grinned back and leaned down to kiss her nose.
"What's that supposed to mean?" She looked confused.
"It means that getting to be with you made driving all this way worth it."
"Awww," she snuggled closer, wrapping her arms around his waist and looking up at him with warm brown eyes. "So where are we going? You must have some plan."
"I was hoping you'd tell me somewhere to go. I don't know this town too well. Remember I've only been able to come out here a few times."
"Yeah, but I figured you knew our places by now." She lay her head against his shoulder, humming along with the radio.
Aero said nothing and continued driving, a small smile on his face and thoughts of his plan for the day glinting in his eyes.
After a few minutes of silence, Talli leaned up to poke him. "Come on. Tell me where we're going."
"Nope! It's a surprise. Plus, you should be able to figure it out. You live here after all. I'm just a visitor."
"Oh come on, you might as well have lived here from all the pictures and talks about you visiting."
"Still doesn't mean that I know that much about this place. And can't you figure it out already?"
Talli looked around at the houses, the sky, the land itself. "Wait, the mall? Marine World? Where where where? I still don't know."
"You'll find out when we get there love."
Talli sat next to him with her arms crossed and her face pouty. "You really aren't going to tell me? Why not? I wanna know!"
Aero grinned as he pulled off the road into a parking lot. "Can you figure it out now?" He parked in a parking spot and cut off the ignition. "You guessed here already."
She looked around again and giggled excitedly. "Marine World!" She hugged him around the waist and rested her chin on his chest. "Good choice. I like it!"
"I'm glad you do." He leaned down and kissed her nose. "Now come on. Let's go have some fun. You still have to show me everything after all."
They opened the door and Talli ran off, dragging Aero behind her. "Come on, move it! We have a lot to see."
Playfully, Aero pulled back, putting up just a little resistance. "At least tell me where we're going first."
"Nu. You wouldn't tell me, I'm not telling you!"
Aero grinned wider and leaned down to kiss her cheek as they walked. The lights glinted against her eyes as they walked, making them sparkle more than usual.
"Already having fun and we haven't even done anything yet, huh?"
"Well, yeah. I'm in one of my favorite places with my absolute favorite person."
"Awww. Come here," he said as he wrapped her in a hug and carried her along. "Now which way? I don't know where to go and you're not getting down."
Talli crossed her arms and pouted. "No fair. You'll figure it out!"
"Not necessarily. Or is it really that obvious?" He grinned as he nodded over at the scrambler ride. "Is that where we're going?"
." Talli scowled at him. "Messed up the surprise."
Aero kissed her cheek and playfully jostled her. "Did not. I was gonna guess it in the next few seconds anyways. You ready to ride?"
Talli perked back up and nodded. "Mhmm. Of course I'm ready to ride."
They walked up the entrance ramp hand in hand, Talli grinning from ear to ear. She looked up at Aero, who, as usual, was already looking back at her. She hugged him around the waist. "I'm so glad you got to come visit. It's been forever."
"That's true. It has been longer than usual. You been ok?"
"Yeah, everything's going better now. College is a lot different from high school."
"I could've told you that. A lot more fun too though."
They lapsed into thoughtful silence, just enjoying each other's company. She snuck her hand into his, feeling the slight calluses from his class ring. Gently, he squeezed her hand and pulled her closer.
"You know, all the times I've been over here to visit, you've never brought me here."
"I know. Wanted to have you all to myself. No distractions."
"Oooh. I get it. Still, we're here now and you have me all to yourself."
"True." She got up on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. "I'm just happy to be with you."
"Me too. I
." He stopped as they got to the end of the line and boarded the scrambler car.
"You what?" she looked at him inquisitively as the ride started to move.
"I don't know. I just know that I'm glad that you're mine and that we're actually together in the same place for once."
"You got that right."
Aero grinned as the ride started spinning them. Talli sat across the car from him, holding onto the bar to keep from sliding around. About midway through the ride though, she let go. She spun around and bumped into Aero's side.
"Well hello there," he said, grinning from ear to ear. "Miss me too much to stay on the other side of the car?"
Talli blushed sheepishly. "Kinda. And I wanted to give you something."
Talli pulled him down so that they were at eye level and planted a kiss on his lips. Aero grinned and kissed her back, wrapping his arm around her waist. They broke apart as the ride ended, both smiling and laughing.
"So how was the ride?" Talli asked.
"It was good. I enjoyed riding with you. Wouldn't have been nearly as much fun without you."
"Oh, so you wanna try something else?"
"Nah, let's go play some games. That's the main reason I wanted to come here with you. Then we can go to the condo and relax, maybe watch a movie or something."
"Ooh. I like it." She pulled him in the direction of the games and walked up to the skee ball booth. He paid for 2 games, one for himself and one for Talli.
"See who gets a higher score?" Aero asked.
"You'll see me get a higher score than you. I'm a master at skee ball."
"I don't doubt it. I never play skee ball."
"Were gonna have to fix that."
Talli and Aero picked booths side by side and started the game. Talli's first ball hit the 5,000 mark. Aero's only went into the 2,000.
"Tsk tsk. You're gonna have to do better than that if you wanna beat me," Talli teased.
They rolled again, Talli hitting the same mark and Aero getting up to 3,000. And so the game went. At the end of the game, Aero had scored about 30,000. Talli beat him with a score of 53,000. Aero looked over at her and shook his head.
"You beat me. Fair and square."
"I just have more practice."
Aero perked up and pulled her to his chest. "You know why I'm still a winner though?"
"Why?" she asked, swaying back and forth in his arms.
"Because I have you," he said, tilting his head down to kiss her. "I love you."
"Awww. Baby!" She hugged him tighter. "I love you too!"
"You wanna ride something else now?"
"Sure!" She climbed up onto his back, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. "Piggyback ride!"
"Meant one these rides, not me!" Aero grinned. "But I can give you a piggyback ride. Seems fair enough." He walked around looking for another ride. They finally settled on the Ferris wheel.
But I'm scared of going up that high," Talli buried her face in Aero's hair.
"It'll be ok. I'll be right there with you. You can hold onto me the whole time."
She looked down at him. "You promise?"
"I promise," he smiled encouragingly up at her.
"Yes baby girl. I pinky promise." He looped his pinky through her's and walked towards the ride. She smiled at him, kissing his cheek and resting her chin on his shoulder as he walked.
The line didn't take long to get through. They boarded a car and waited while the other riders got on.
"I'm glad they gave us this car to ourselves," Aero said, hugging Talli's waist from behind. "Means I get to have you all to myself."
Talli smiled and turned around in his lap. "It means I can finally do this again," she said, pressing her lips to his and holding his lower lip between her's. "I can finally be held again. You have no idea how much I've missed you."
"I have some idea. I've been missing you too you know." He held her in his arms and kissed her back. "This take care of the fear of heights?"
Talli broke away and giggled. "Mhmm. Definitely." She held his hands and looked into his deep brown eyes.
"Good. I'm glad." He sat on the floor of the car and sat her in front of him, knee to knee. "So, what's your favorite thing about today?"
"It hasn't happened yet."
"Really? What's it going to be?"
"Snuggling with you before I go to sleep."
He grinned wider and held her hands, swinging them back and forth. "That's so sweet!"
"Every moment I've been with you."
Talli blushed and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him close as the ride slowly made its way back down. "I love you."
"I love you too."
They rode the rest of the way down in silence, Talli holding onto Aero's arm and grinning at the sky above them. When they got to the bottom, Talli pointed at a booth near the exit of the ride.
"They do custom henna tattoos!"
"Let me guess, you want to get one?"
"I want both of us to get one. Of our imprint mark."
"Ok. Where are we getting them?"
"On our wrists for now. I don't know where I wanna get the permanent ones when the time comes."
"Make them mirror each other so they're like two halves."
Talli nodded and tugged on his arm as they walked over to the booth. They both sat down and told that artist what they wanted. Aero pulled out his phone and showed the artist a picture of the marking. Ten minutes later, they each had mirroring swirls on their wrist.
"These are so cool! They're perfect!"
"Mhmm," Aero nodded. "They are. Ready to go home now?"
They walked towards the exit of the park, but before they got there, something caught Talli's eye.
"Ooh ooh! Aero, look in that shop!"
"What is it?"
"In the corner of the window. Those two plushies, the ones that look like they're holding hands. They look like our characters!"
"You're right," Aero said, walking towards the shop. "You wanna get them?"
Talli nodded again, jumping onto Aero's back. "Of course I want them!"
Aero picked up the two plushes and carried them to the cash register. The cashier rung them up and nodded at the two toys. "Would you like me to bag those?"
"No thanks, we're good," Aero responded, handing him the money.
Aero and Talli walked back towards Aero's truck, Talli skipping ahead and twirling around with her plushie.
"This is so cool! I mean, these are almost exactly the same, except they don't have hair."
"I know. You'd think they'd been made specifically for us."
They looked at each other and grinned. "Nah," they both said at the same time. He helped her up into the truck. Climbing up into the driver's seat, he started the engine and drove towards the condo. Talli relaxed in the big comfy seat and flicked on the radio, singing along the whole way home. Aero just listened, smiling and humming along when he knew a song.
Finally they got to the condo. Aero carried his bags to the guest bedroom and set them down before walking back out the TV room.
"What movie are we going to watch?"
"I don't know. Top Gun? I still haven't watched it and you said you liked it."
"Sure, pop it in. Then come over here. I want some hugs from my baby girl."
Talli nodded, slipped the disc into the DVD player and sat down in Aero's lap.
Aero hit play and settled down on the couch with Talli leaned against his shoulder.
Talli hugged his waist. She didn't notice the white fur that had appeared on her fingers, or the gray fur spreading up her arm like a velvety glove. She didn't notice her ears sliding up to the top of her head and becoming pointed. One ear flicked Aero's nose. He looked down and smiled. Slowly, the fur spread further. It appeared on her toes as they morphed into delicate paws. It continued upwards, wrapping around her legs and covering her hips and bottom. Then Talli felt an enormous pressure in the base of her spine. Looking behind her, she saw a hugely fluffy gray and white striped tail pushing its way out of her jeans. The fur rose up and covered her back, giving her a slightly fluffier section on the back of her neck.
"Aero, what's going on?"
"What do you mean?"
"I have a tail! And fur!" She gestured to her body as the fur covered her belly and shoulders. The fur slid down to cover her breasts, becoming super soft and fluffy between them.
"Yeah. I see that. Didn't you always though?"
Already, Talli could tell that the transformation had brought with it a mental change to everyone around her. She sighed and looked at her new hands.
"Still, it feels like something is missing."
As soon as she said that, the fur rose up her neck and covered her face. White triangles of fur appeared on her cheeks and her hair grew just a little. She squirmed as the bones in her face rearranged, giving her a short feline muzzle. Her teeth became points and her nose turned pink. She looked up at Aero and smiled.
"So, you have fun today?" she asked, wrapping her luxuriously fluffy tail around his waist.
"Well, yeah. Of course I did. I had you didn't I?"
She nodded and hugged him. As she pulled away, she noticed that his brown hair was a little darker, longer and straighter. She smiled again as she watched his ears be covered in white fur and rise up into points on the top of his head.
"I love you Aero," she whispered.
He kissed her cheek before murmuring, "I love you more."
"I'd argue but I don't think it's worth it right now."
Slowly the white fur spread over Aero's body, covering his arms in thick fur. The fur on his back was a little thicker than that on his front. The fur grew up his chest and became scruffy on his shoulders and neck. The fur spread down over his waist and onto his legs, making them digitigrade as the fur finished covering his now paws. A white fox tail ripped a hole in his jeans as his face started shifting. The bones realigned in the shape of a fox's muzzle and his teeth got sharper. He hugged Talli again.
"Something doesn't feel right. My backsi
." He was cut off as 8 more tails pushed outwards, each with a different colored tail tip. "That's better." He grinned and wrapped his tails around her, pulling her back into his lap.
"This is awesome," she purred. "I'm glad we got to be together. And this wasn't a bad movie."
"Nope. It's a pretty good one, granted I was too busy paying attention to you to watch much of it."
"Awww. Aero!" She leaned back and kissed his chin. "So what now?"
"I say we relax. Snuggle. Be us."
"I like it."
"So do I."
Talli looked down at her wrist. "Hey Aero, look! The imprint marks. They're glowing now!"
"Well that's weird. Wonder why."
"Because they're magic and we're a really good couple?"
"Seems like a fairy tale almost but yeah. That could be it."
"I know how to end our day now," Talli said, glancing up at Aero.
"And how is that?" he asked, holding her hand.
"Well, like this," she answered, slowly pressing her lips to his.
Aero wrapped his arms around her and kissed her back. She wrapped her tail around his waist and pulled him closer, kissing him a little harder.
"I love you Aero."
"I love you too Talli."
He stroked her cheek, keeping their lips together.
"More than you'll ever know."