Title: "The Quest For The Purrfect Valentine"
Author: Pirate Turner
Dedicated To: My most purrfectly wondrous and infinitely beloved, my Muse, my Captain, my husband, my love, Jack - I love you, sweetheart; happy Valentine's Day, my King!
Rating: PG-13 for referenced sexual activity
Summary: Berlioz's urgent question leads Thomas to reflect on two valentine attempts he got wrong before he got it all right.
Warnings: Het
Word Count: 2,072
Date Written: 30 January, 2011
Disclaimer: Thomas O'Malley, Duchess, Berlioz, Toulouse, Marie, Madame, Edgar, and the Aristocats are & TM Disney, not the author; are used without permission; and may not be used without permission. Everything else is & TM the author. The author makes absolutely no profit off of this work of fan fiction, and no copyright infringement is intended.

"Daddy! Daddy!"

Thomas looked up, his furry, pointed ears perking forward, as his son ran out of the mansion and headed straight toward him. The tom's green eyes flicked to the area behind his son, but he saw nothing chasing him. Yet something was clearly bothering the tyke. He held out his paws and caught him just as the kitten realized that he was going a bit too fast to be able to stop easily without tumbling into the former alley cat. "What's wrong, tiger?" Thomas queried softly.

His kitten squirmed out of his paws and sat down before him, a sudden businesslike demeanor falling over his tiny form. He drew himself up, puffing out his soft, black fur with importance, and then leaned forward and confided, "Today's Valentine's Day, the day for lovers."

Thomas smiled, and his whiskers twitched. "So it is," he said, lovingly petting the top of Berlioz's head and ignoring the paws that both tried to bat his away and quickly smoothed his fur back down. "The day for lover - " Thomas coughed and quickly rephrased his declaration, "The day for love!" He peered in concern down at his adopted son who could no more have been his kitten than if he'd helped the love of his life to actually give birth to him. "So what's the problem, buddy?"

The kitten blew out his question before the shyness to which he refused to admit could silence him from getting the help he so desperately needed. "Whatdoyougetforyourvalentine?"

Thomas blinked, and whereas his expression came from his surprise, Berlioz took it to be confusion. "You know," he continued, a tad bit more slowly, drawing his paw through the ground and letting his nervous gaze drift down to the blades of grass through which he moved his paw, "the one you love, your sweetheart, Momma. Not that I'm asking what to get Momma. I already kissed her this morning, but what do I get for . . . for some one like Momma . . . and not Marie either but . . . but . . . but a . . . you know . . . another girl?" His last word came out in a squeak.

Thomas' smile turned up a brighter glow, and he beamed down at the nervous, little kitten before him. "You've got your first lady!"

"Well, not really. I mean, I don't know if she's that much of a lady, but I . . . I kinda like her."

Thomas chuckled and pulled his son to him in a furry, one-legged hug. "Rule number one, Berlioz: never say that to a girl. All girls, and women, want to be ladies. Even if they're not, they still want to be called a lady."

"Okay," Berlioz agreed readily enough, "although I don't see what the big deal is. Why should they want to be a lady?"

Thomas shrugged. It was mystery enough to him that some of the toughest female alley cats he'd ever encountered were still determined to be called ladies; he'd earned more than one mark with another's claws by making the mistake of failing to consider them ladies when he had been growing up in the back alleys of Paris. "I don't really know, tiger," he admitted with a soft sigh. He rolled his muscular shoulders in a shrug. "That's just one of those mysterious women things, but never make the mistake of telling them you think they're not a lady or that they shouldn't want to be one."

"Okay," Berlioz said, "but what do I get her?"

For a moment, Thomas thought about asking just who the lucky lady was, but then he pushed the thought aside for it had clearly taken a lot of courage for Berlioz to come and ask for his advice in this matter and he certainly didn't want to make the poor kitten any more nervous about the important task laid out ahead of him for today's holiday. Bast knew it was hard enough trying to pick out the purrfect present with which to impress one's lady love without having the complication of making a tom's true feelings known for the first time. That thought immediately took Thomas back to the first Valentine's Day he'd shared with the mother of his kitten, the truest feline lady he'd ever known and the only female in all the world who had, and could ever, completely capture his no longer quite so wild heart.

He'd thought for certain his first gift would wow her for he'd dug through every trash can in the country in search of just the right fish, but when he'd dropped before her one of the largest fish bones he'd ever seen before in all his life, Duchess had pulled away, lifting her delicate, white paws into the air and crinkling her lovely, pink nose in clear disgust. She'd insisted on thanking him as properly as she could, but he had seen the dismay on her face and his heart had sank beneath his paws. He'd wanted to impress her, and yet instead he had proven himself to still be an alley cat at heart.

He'd gone out again immediately and come back with a can of tuna he'd slipped out of Madame's cupboard, a place he'd understood that the butler had had complete control over before but that Madame now handled as she had no intentions of ever again hiring any more "riff raff", as she so indelicately put the term, to come into her home and possibly harm her darlings. Thomas was both glad and proud to be considered one of those darlings, though he still hesitated to show his true feelings about the more dainty aspects of his life, and he had felt somewhat guilty over stealing away the can. That guilt had been assuaged by only two things: the fact that he knew the can would eventually come to his family any way and his determination to find just the right present for his lady love.

Unfortunately, Thomas had overlooked one simple fact. He had no idea how to open the can as it did not come with one of the fancy, new pop tops. He had been attacking it with all twenty of his claws, desperately trying to peel the silver sides apart, when Duchess had walked up behind him and curiously asked what he was doing. He'd been so surprised by her lovely voice suddenly sounding behind him that he had fallen over onto his back and gazed up at her with eyes as large as saucers. She had laughed, causing his cheeks to burn and his tail to tuck between his furry, orange buttocks.

The moment she'd realized his unease, Duchess had ceased her laughter and had immediately started trying to make him feel better, but although Thomas had allowed her to think he was okay and his embarrassment vanquished by her kiss, he had continued to be bothered inside. He had wanted to get his new wife the perfect valentine, but every attempt he had made had blown up in his face! He had taken his leave from Duchess and prowled through the courtyard for the rest of the day, thinking of possible other gifts that he'd given the ladies in his life before and, one by one, discarding every possibility for although all of the others had pretended to be ladies, Duchess was the only lady he'd ever really known. Fish bones, mice, and romantic trash can dinners were as far beneath the delicate, beautiful paws of the lady he loved with all his heart, soul, body, and the very fiber of his being as the worms squirming in the dirt many yards beneath his own paws were physically beneath him.

At last, towards dusk, he'd heard Duchess calling his name, and he'd plucked a quick rose from a nearby bush, wincing as the thorns had struck him in his small mouth and pink tongue, and had gone home to her. By the time he had reached her, she'd been nearly completely beside herself with worry, and his guilt had surmounted when he'd seen the shimmering tears reflected in his beloved's baby blue eyes. "Thomas!" she had cried, whirling to face him, her long, white plume of a tail completely fluffed out with her worry. "Where have you been?"

He had sat down before her with a heavy sigh, the rose dropping from his mouth and falling to the ground between them. His tail had lashed out and then curled around his behind as he'd admitted, not realizing she'd also seen the droplets of blood that had fallen from his mouth with the rose, "Thinking."

"Thomas, darling, you're bleeding!" Duchess had exclaimed, rushing to his side.

"It's nothing," he had nonchalantly dismissed the cuts from the rose's thorn with a roll of his shoulders.

"It's not nothing," she had purred gently, touching her nose to his furry cheek and making his heart leap for joy with that simple touch. "You got hurt carrying that rose, and you did it for me."

He had gazed into her beautiful eyes, hearing his heart thump the maddening rhythm of unyielding love more powerful than the grandest passion that only she had ever enticed within him within his ears, and had realized that, at long last and purely by accident, he'd just brought her the valentine's gift to wow her. That realization had brought a brilliant smile bursting across his handsome, furry face, and Thomas had drawn a heart in the dirt beneath them with his claws without taking his eyes from his wife's for even a heartbeat's moment. "I do," he spoke softly and truly, his tail swishing happily, "everything I do for you."

"I know," she had assured him, beginning to purr and leaning close to him, "and I am the luckiest lady in all the world because of it and because you love me!" She had kissed him then, and that kiss had soon been followed by a night filled with blazing hot passion that had sent him yowling for hours and then left them both purring contentedly, cuddled sweetly together, for the rest of the night.

Thomas' tail swished in present day and thumped the ground as he gazed out into the distance, not seeing his surroundings and having forgotten about his kitten's dilemma in the remembrance of that first Valentine's Day shared with his beloved wife and filled with the glow of their love as they'd made memories he'd treasure forever.

"Daddy!" Berlioz wailed, and Thomas finally returned to himself, blinking as he refocused his attention onto his distressed kitten.

"Yes?" he asked, having forgotten the question.

"What do I get her?" Berlioz asked.

"Love," Thomas answered, swishing his tail and smiling hugely again as he saw his beautiful, beloved wife prowling toward him. "Love," he answered again, standing up and curling his long, furry tail around the rose that was waiting behind him. He confided as he strode forward to meet his wondrous soul mate, "And a rose never hurts. Happy Valentine's Day, love!" He greeted Duchess with a kiss and then sat their traditional rose before her paws.

"Oh, Thomas!" Duchess exclaimed joyously and began to shower her loving husband with delicate, sweet, and yet also oh so passionate kisses. The white tips of their tails entwined in a loving heart as Berlioz looked away in disgust.

"Romance," he said, making a face and sticking out his tiny, pink tongue. He'd get her a fish, and that was that. Stalking off in determination, he shook his head in bewilderment. Why did every one have to go so nutty over Valentine's Day any way? Who really needed a day just to show that they loved some one?

Then he thought of the kitten he'd grown to admire and gave a deep sigh and an awkward grin. On the other paw, it never really hurt to show that love, or at least, he'd never seen it hurt any one so far. And, he admitted, Mister O'Malley did have something right for he'd clearly completely won over his mother, kept her heart for years, and would continue to keep her heart forever. He knew that much from just watching them together and seeing how happy they both were together, and he hoped that he could find that happiness with his new, young friend. Turning to a bush, he claimed a rose and headed off on his own journey of love.

The End