Love That Sponge - Chapter 1 - tragicclownwrites (2023)

Chapter Text

On the roof of a certain poriferan’s pineapple – the sun steadily setting in the horizon, tinging the sky orange with just a sliver of indigo - Squidward silently wondered how he ended up there.

Better yet, the question should be: why in Neptune’s deep blue sea did he agree to this?

Like a projector reel, his mind flickered back to earlier that day, during his shift at the Krusty Krab.

---

Squidward was sitting at the register, wistfully flipping through the pages of “Squid Love” before growing frustrated and tossing the book away.

“Ugh, Squidward. Why are you torturing yourself with tales of romance?” he lamented to himself, letting out a resigned sigh.

He had been bitterly alone for so long that he had stopped counting the years to avoid depressing himself further. Before he could sink deeper into his melancholy, a familiar, cheery voice piped up from the window behind his head.

“You dropped you ‘ook,” Spongebob said. The sponge balanced the discarded novella on his tongue, saliva and slobber wetting the pages.

The octopus normally would’ve found the spectacle revolting, but he was feeling far too glum to care.

“That’s no ‘ook.’ That’s just a cruel reminder that I’m single, and likely to remain that way forever,” he replied flatly, his eyes staring distantly ahead.

Naturally, Spongebob was determined to cheer him up – a fruitless endeavor, though this didn’t deter him in the slightest.

“Don’t be sad, buddy,” the poriferan assured, cupping his hands along the edge of the window. “Turn that frown upside down!”

In a cartoonish display, Spongebob physically flipped Squidward’s head, so his scowl was facing the opposite direction.

“I prefer my frowns in their traditional orientation,” Squidward muttered, snapping his head back to its rightful place.

Despite himself, the sponge felt a frown of his own traversing over his lips. He knew his co-worker wasn’t the most optimistic person around – not by a long shot – but the cephalopod seemed more morose than usual. And that simply wouldn’t do.

Before the octopus could so much as blink, Spongebob leaped to stand directly at the bow of the cashier’s boat, determination written all over his face.

“Just remember, Squidward. You have never experienced true love,” he stated with his hands resting on his hips, leaning forward as the octopus sighed. “But! That doesn't mean you will never find it! You know the saying: There's a squid for every pot!”

“Great. Let the tired clichés cascade forward. That’ll make me feel better…” he replied, his voice laced with sarcasm.

It was at that moment that the “tired clichés” seemed to give way for something else entirely: a foreign feeling Squidward didn’t think he was even capable of experiencing. The click of the Krusty Krab’s doors opening may as well have been equivalent to angelic singing, with the way Squidward clambered to the register to get a closer look.

At the front of the cafeteria was the most exquisite looking octopus Squidward had seen since Squilliam Fancyson III - not that he’d ever admit such a thing to the other cephalopod. He could practically hear the unibrowed octopus’ haughty, mocking laughter ringing in his ears at the admission.

The octopus was a shade of turquoise Squidward could only hope to replicate in his paintings, a hue that complemented her rouge pink dress nicely. Her black hair was styled into a bob, neatly cut bangs framing her bulbous forehead and long, curved nose.

He could remember melting into a puddle at the sight of her, fawning over her elegance and her artistic way with words as she slowly made her way to the register.

Unfortunately, as he fell head-over-heels, he also kept falling over himself as he attempted to speak to her. Each time he’d open his mouth, his voice would get caught in his throat, tongue tying itself into knots as sweat pooled down his face.

Spongebob tried to offer moral support, which the octopus hesitantly admitted to himself that he appreciated – despite the sponge playfully poking his nose as he did so. He allowed feigned confidence to wash over him as Spongebob suggested he ask her on a date.

“Hello! Hello? I'd like to order.”

The feminine, adenoidal voice jolted the octopus back to reality. Hunched underneath the register, Squidward felt like his gills had turned to stone.

“She’s talking to me! What do I do!?” he pleaded in a hushed tone, giving Spongebob a frantic look.

The sponge, on the other hand, had a lively gleam in his eye.

Don’t worry, Squidward! I can help you attract your true love,” Spongebob whispered in a sugary voice. The tone did nothing to quell the twisting of his stomach, the saccharine nature of it making him nauseous.

Raising an eyebrow at the suggestion, the cephalopod felt his nerves dissipate instantly.

“You!? You don't know the first thing about the fine art of romance!” he countered, annoyance filling the creases of his psyche where his anxiety occupied just seconds before.

Before Squidward could berate the sponge any further, the woman’s irritated voice resounded from above where they sat.

“Well, since no one wants to take my order, I'll go elsewhere,” she declared, turning to walk out of the restaurant.

Squidward gasped in realization. Amid his panic, he had already managed to push away the one chance he had at true love.

“What!? She’s leaving!” he panicked, lifting his tentacles to his mouth in horror.

“Oh no she’s not!” the sponge protested, playfully revving up the motor of the cashier boat – a piece of equipment Squidward somehow overlooked all the years he’s worked at the Krusty Krab.

Before Squidward could ponder how he had missed something so obvious, the boat catapulted forward.

“Hang on, buddy!” the sponge screamed as he drove the boat.

For someone who had never gotten his driver’s license, Spongebob was surprisingly efficient in this endeavor, expertly navigating the boat to block the octopus’ exit right before she walked out of the Krusty Krab – and, effectively, Squidward’s life – for good.

What happened next had been more or less a blur as the octopus continued to bumble over himself.

Leaving his dazed colleague at the bottom of the cashier’s boat, Spongebob decided to take the lead. The sponge proceeded to tell the lady octopus – who had introduced herself as Squilvia – everything he knew about Squidward that he was sure would impress her.

At the octopus’ behest, he listed off Squidward’s various talents and hobbies – such as painting, music, cooking, cleaning, and gardening. A rush of adrenaline coursing through him, the cephalopod decided to put his multiple appendages to use, effectively demonstrating these interests from the floor of the boat. Squilvia swooned with each word, growing more and more intrigued as the poriferan spoke.

Not that Squidward noticed all that much, still in a bit of a trance. However, Squidward remembered the next part much more vividly for some reason.

“But, you know what is the most amazing thing about Squidward?” Spongebob asked, his eyes brimming with tears, his voice wavering.

“It's his selflessness. His undying commitment to being a true… friend. And I know anyone who is lucky enough to go on a romantical date with this guy... would get to experience things on a whole 'nother and very special level.”

Sitting at the bottom of the cashier boat, Squidward stiffened, as he couldn’t help but feel taken aback by the speech. He knew Spongebob could be emotional and a bit over the top, crying at the drop of a hat at any given time. Still… did Spongebob really feel that way about him?

Shaking his head to will the thought away, the octopus tuned back in just in time for Spongebob to ask Squilvia – on his behalf, of course – if she was free at 8PM for dinner.

After all, why should he care how Spongebob felt about him when there was a breathtaking specimen standing right there in a pink dress, just waiting to go on a date with him?

All he registered was Squilvia accepting the offer, flirtatiously squeezing his cheek as she slipped her shell phone number into his front pocket.

“See you at 8, Squidward,” she said with a wink, moving past the cashier boat to finally leave the restaurant.

---

In the present day, just minutes before his date, Squidward could feel the grassy texture of Spongebob’s roof beneath his tentacles; the soft blades gently tickling the suckers on his feet.

The octopus sat in a lush velvet chair at a table decorated with a vase of flowers and a white tablecloth. The setting was unexpectedly nice, all things considered; though that wasn’t the most surprising part.

Following the encounter with Squilvia at the Krusty Krab earlier, Squidward had all but begged Spongebob to help him prepare for the date. The sponge had readily accepted the challenge, proposing they do a trial run, or “practice date,” for the octopus to go through the motions.

Now, across the table from him, Spongebob sat there donning a black wig, make-up and a purple dress. To finish the look, the sponge had managed to make his nose resemble Squidward’s own with a bit of “spongey magic,” as the poriferan called it.

“Now, it is the chit-chat part of the date,” Spongebob informed him, lifting a finger. Resting his chin on his folded hands, fluttering his eyelashes, the poriferan continued: “Amuse her with interesting conversation.”

Now fully aware of where he was, Squidward became rigid in his seat. “Oh... um... chit-chat... um... can you believe this weather we're having?”

As the octopus internally chided himself for how awkward he was acting, Spongebob quickly guided them along.

“Okay… good effort,” he told him, his expression communicating that the effort had been anything but sufficient. Taking in the blank look on Squidward’s face, the sponge resumed his train of thought.

“But you might want to start with something more personal! A woman may like to talk about her day, for example. She may want to bring up her promotion at work, or the wacky antics of her pet snail... or talk about how I was nearly late for our date because I couldn't decide what to wear, and then I didn't nearly have enough cash to tip the lady at the nail salon!”

As the sponge rambled, he was only vaguely aware of how real this date was starting to feel – for him, at least.

Having never been on a real date himself, the poriferan was less than qualified to be giving his neighbor dating advice. Still, he was making Squidward happy by helping him win over Squilvia. And if Spongebob could manage to put a smile on the gloomy octopus’ face, he’d consider that a success.

Even if the octopus in question was going on a date with somebody else.

Somebody… that wasn’t him.

The words taunted him, their vice grip around his heart threatening to bring him to tears.

Ever the optimist, the sponge immediately pushed the thought out of his mind in favor of something more positive. He was happy that Squidward finally found love! And it didn’t matter who that love connection was with.

After all, Spongebob had been the one who wanted to help Squidward prepare for his date. His real date.

Since 5PM, the two of them had gone over what Spongebob liked to call “the tenets of Dating 101.” These steps had vastly mixed results, depending on who was asked.

Spongebob thought they were making plenty of progress, excitedly walking the octopus through the various scenarios and immersing himself in the role of Squidward’s date. He would even switch to a higher, effeminate octave to really sell it in.

Conversely, from Squidward’s point of view, the practice date up to this point had been nothing short of a disaster.

From the moment Spongebob opened the door, the sponge had subjected him to all sorts of dating-etiquette torture: he ran to the nearest florist to buy a bouquet of tulips for Spongebob (for practice, obviously), only for the latter to sneeze on him due to allergies; he begrudgingly helped the sponge with his seatbelt, only for it to slap him in the face when Spongebob had to “tinkle” at the last minute; and now he was sitting at a table pretending to have dinner with him.

What else could go wrong? he ruminated to himself as they drove around the block to simulate traveling to the restaurant.

As if providing the answer he sought, Patrick – wearing a tuxedo – approached their table with a plate in hand.

“Dinner is served,” the starfish announced, a stoic expression on his face.

“Ooh! I’m famished!” the sponge squealed, raising the pitch of his voice as he placed a bashful hand over his mouth.

As Patrick placed the food on each of their plates, the octopus noticed there was a large bite mark in his barnacle loaf. The sea star leaned over towards Squidward; crumbs falling from his mouth.

“Don’t try to eat it. It’s plastic.”

As the cephalopod raised his eyebrows at the sea star, Spongebob chimed in from across the table, knocking him back into reality.

“Now this is the perfect opportunity to work on your table etiquette,” he said, clinching his thumb and pointer finger together. Clearing his throat, the poriferan reverted to his more feminine tone.

“Squidward, could you please pass the roasted kelp?” he asked, pointing at the bowl in the center of the table.

The cephalopod felt the corners of his lips tilting upwards as he reached for the bowl. He didn’t know why he was smiling about such a simple gesture, but he didn’t try to fight it.

However, this fleeting happiness was withdrawn just as quickly; similarly to the bowl that was snatched from his tentacles.

“Here you go, ma'am!” the starfish chirped, handing the roasted kelp to Spongebob.

Unfortunately, the sponge appeared unfazed and fawned at the offered kelp in his sickly-sweet voice. “Oh, thank you, sir!

Eyes half-lidded and coyly looking in the poriferan’s direction, Patrick leaned in towards Squidward once again.

“Hey, Squidward. Who's the lovely lady sitting across from you?” the sea star asked whilst wagging his eyebrows, his demeanor teeming with flirtation. “I think she’s giving me the ‘cutesy eye.’

Ignoring the sponge’s cross-eyed stare, Squidward glared daggers up at Patrick. He couldn’t place the emotion he was experiencing aside from a burning rage consuming his hearts, threatening to turn them to ash.

Was this annoyance? No, he knew all too well what that felt like as he’d experienced it all afternoon.

Plain anger? His furrowed brows and scowl could be misleading, but this emotion didn’t fit either.

Perhaps - as much as he loathed to admit it - this feeling was more akin to… jealousy?

Before he could stop himself, the octopus shook his head and jabbed an accusing tentacle into the starfish’s chest.

“Oh no, you don't, Patrick! You cannot just barge in here like this,” he chastised. “Spongebob and I are in the middle of a practice date!”

Much to his chagrin, the sea star wasn’t even remotely listening. The starfish continued to flirt with his “date” in front of him, with said date simply giggling along.

Feeling that same, wrathful feeling from before, Squidward fully stood up from his seat, slamming his tentacles against the table.

“Excuse me! How is this supposed to help me on my real date? Which – by the way – begins in five minutes?” he rebuked as he checked his watch for the time.

Squidward was officially fed up: this practice date had been a terrible idea. All it had managed to accomplish was making him annoyed – and jealous, for some Neptune-forsaken reason.

Spinning on his heel towards the stairs, Squidward grumbled to himself as he marched towards the exit – an action that instantly alarmed the sponge sitting across from him.

The entire purpose of the practice date was to not only help Squidward prepare for the outing with Squilvia, but to make him truly happy for once. The sponge knew the octopus would be happy if his date went well and he was determined to ensure that would be the case.

Spongebob also stood from his seat and extended a hand outward towards the retreating figure.

“Squidward, wait! You can’t leave yet – we haven’t covered all the tenets!” he shouted after him, applying some more lipstick for good measure.

Leaping across the table – too determined to care about the toppling tableware - the sponge beelined in the direction Squidward had gone.

Peering down the stairwell, the poriferan could see that the cephalopod was halfway down.

“Squidward, please! Don’t go!” he yelled after him, cupping his hands over his mouth to amplify the sound.

However, the octopus continued to ignore him as he slowly walked down the stairs. Eyes darting down the stairs frantically, the sponge could feel himself growing more and more desperate. Just as the octopus was about to reach the door, he exclaimed one last plea.

“Squidward, I… I just wanted to make you happy!”

The words seemed to have the intended effect as Squidward stopped in his tracks, a slight jolt rushing through him. Slowly turning around, he finally faced the sponge, who stood at the top of the stairs looking defeated – his wig slightly askew and his nose back to its regular shape.

He was concerned for only a fraction of a second before that concern reverted to frustration.

“Make me happy!? You know what would make me happy? If you let me get on with my life!” he bellowed up at him, the sound reverberating in the stairwell.

Spongebob quickly made his way down the stairs to where Squidward stood until he was a mere step away; the octopus’ pause had given the sponge enough time to catch up to him.

“I know, and I’m so sorry! But, Squidward, earlier at the Krusty Krab… I’d never seen you like that before,” he said, his voice growing softer.

As he glanced up to make eye contact with Squidward, the sponge continued, a rosy blush on his cheeks.

“I mean, you were so sad about being single and alone. But! When Squilvia walked in today, it was like you were a brand new Squidward! A bit nervous, sure, but you were so… so happy! So, I thought if I could help you have the perfect date, maybe then, you’d be truly… happy.”

A tinge of guilt stung the cephalopod’s hearts at the sponge’s admission. While there was no denying that the practice date had been a bust, there was also no denying how much work Spongebob had put into making it feel like a real date and giving him pointers throughout. He was even wearing a dress and a wig, for Neptune’s sake!

With a sigh, Squidward pinched a tentacle between his eyes in exasperation. He couldn’t believe he was doing this…

“Okay. How many tenets are left?” he inquired, his tone neutral and unmoving.

Spongebob’s head shot up upon hearing the question, his eyes brimming with emotion as he finally adjusted the wig he was wearing, smoothing it out on his head.

“Y-you mean it? You’ll let me help you?” he queried, his eagerness growing with each word.

“Yeah, sure, whatever. Now, how many?” the octopus replied, trying to move things along. The sooner they got to the next step, the sooner they’d be done. With a thoughtful look on his features, the sponge began to answer.

“Oh, let’s see! Hm, I think there’s about two or three more –”

“One more.”

“Oh, but Squidward! There’s still so much for you to know! We could go over at least the last two?”

“One. Take it or leave it.”

Daintily grabbing the edges of his dress, the sponge ambled down the stairs until he was standing right next to the front door, his heels clicking and clacking with each step.

“One more it is!” he declared, much to Squidward’s relief. As soon as the octopus joined him by the front door, the sponge resumed his lesson.

“Okay! Since we’re at the front door, it feels like the perfect time to go over the end of the date. This is your chance to leave an impression and sweep her off her feet!” the sponge gushed, clasping his hands together as he sighed dreamily at the thought.

“Finally, the end of this date. Something I can get behind,” the cephalopod grumbled to himself.

There was a beat as the pair stood at the door in silence. Spongebob cleared his throat, getting Squidward’s attention.

“What is it now?” he questioned, rolling his eyes as his patience waned.

“The door, Squidward. Remember what we talked about?” the sponge reminded him in a sing-song voice.

The octopus simply blinked at him until he recalled the advice from earlier, when they were in his boatmobile driving to the “restaurant.”

“’A gentleman always opens a door for a lady.’ Right,” he parroted flatly, moving to open the door of the pineapple, waiting until Spongebob had stepped outside before following suit and closing the door behind him.

The sky had darkened a bit more since they were last outdoors – the blend of purples and blues were more deeply intertwined with the orange and yellow backdrop created by the sunset.

“Oh, Squidward, this has been an absolutely lovely evening!” Spongebob said whilst bashfully folding his hands together at his side. He adjusted the pitch of his voice to mimic the feminine one he’d been using.

“It sure has,” the cephalopod replied, sarcastically.

“Well, is there anything you’d like to give me before you leave?” the sponge asked, giggling behind his hand.

Squidward’s eyes widened at the question before forming a glare, his bemusement and frustration reaching new heights.

“Now, you wait just a minute! I got you flowers and now I need another gift?” he questioned. He’d probably tear his hair out - if he had any - at this moment.

This only caused Spongebob’s giggling to evolve into rippling laughter. “Oh no, silly! That’s not what I meant.”

As his glare bore into the poriferan, Squidward silently implored the sponge to get to the point. Spongebob seemed to catch onto this, with the way he nervously pressed his index fingers together.

“Um, what I meant was – this is the part where you… you know,” he stammered, avoiding the crux of his advice. For what reason, Squidward had no idea – and it infuriated him to no end.

“No, Spongebob, I don’t know. The part where I… what?” he probed, giving the sponge a befuddled look.

The sponge only grew shier, his freckled cheeks gradually blooming into a slightly pinker hue. “W-well… you know… the part where you…”

Spongebob trailed off, pursing his fingers on each hand, and pressing them together in a motion that resembled a peck between two hand puppets.

“Will you stop lollygagging and spit it out already!?” Squidward snapped, throwing his tentacles into the air exasperatedly before clenching them into fists at his sides.

“The part where you… k-kiss,” the poriferan finally said, a vibrant red blush forming on his cheeks as he avoided eye contact. Squidward blinked dumbly at the sponge as his brain processed what had been said.

“Kiss…” he said under his breath, rolling the word around on his tongue.

Suddenly, it hit him. As his head sharply spun towards the sponge – who was twiddling his fingers awkwardly – it finally hit him what Spongebob was suggesting.

“Wait – oh no. No, no, no. I am not kissing you, Spongebob!” he protested, waving his arms around to negate the proposition.

“But, Squidward! You want your first kiss with her to be perfect, don’t you?” the sponge pointed out.

“Well, yes. But I don’t see how… kissing you is going to help me make that happen,” the octopus retorted, feeling his face grow warm.

“It’d just be practice! I mean, you even said yourself that it’s been a really long time since you’ve dated. How long has it been since you’ve kissed anyone?” the sponge pressed.

Spongebob couldn’t be sure exactly why he was pushing for this kiss to happen between them, but he simply told himself that he wanted to help his friend. Because friends give each other kisses minutes before their dates with other people… right?

Meanwhile, the cephalopod scoffed as he considered the poriferan’s words.

As much as he hated to admit it, he was quite out of practice when it came to dating in general, let alone kissing. Squilvia already saw him act like a fool back at the Krusty Krab; he didn’t need her to think he was inexperienced in the romance department as well.

Looking away from Spongebob, the octopus let out a resigned sigh. Again, he couldn’t believe he was doing this…

“Fine, I’ll do it. But, we will never speak of this again. As far as we’re both concerned, this didn’t happen.”

“You got it! My lips are sealed. Or puckered, in this case,” the sponge replied with a giggle.

“Whatever. Just close your eyes,” the octopus instructed. Spongebob did as he was told, his eyes fluttering closed.

“Let’s get this over with…” Squidward mumbled as he leaned in. In turn, the little sponge stood on his toes – even with pumps on, the action helped ease the height difference between them.

The octopus wrinkled his brows, squeezing his eyes shut as the gap between them slowly began to compress.

Squidward briefly took in a fragrant aroma – raspberries and vanilla – as he neared Spongebob’s face. The sponge typically smelled of fresh linen and Krabby Patties (which, if Squidward were frank, was not a displeasing scent by any means), but this fragrance was new and… striking.

He had yet to come this close in proximity to him during the practice date, but it seemed the sponge went all out – going as far as to spritz some perfume on himself beforehand.

Not even Squilvia could smell this good.

The thought emerged from the deepest caverns of his psyche. Silencing the voice in his mind, the octopus quickly pushed his lips against the poriferan’s.

The sensation was remarkably pleasant and sweet; Spongebob’s lips felt soft and supple against his own – no doubt aided by the copious amount of lip balm the sponge had on. Subconsciously, the cephalopod’s tensed features softened as his lips parted slightly to deepen the kiss.

Likewise, the sponge fully melted into the kiss, his hands lightly gripping the octopus’ shoulders before encircling his noodle-like arms around his neck. While he had no other romantic kisses to compare this to, Spongebob already knew that this would be the very best one he’d ever received.

With their bodies pressed tightly together, they could feel each other’s rapid pulses, even through their clothes.

Squidward ran a tentacle along the poriferan’s backside until he reached the wig. He ran his suckers through the wig’s hair until it fell off Spongebob’s head, dropping down gracelessly to the ocean floor.

Pulling apart, eyes half-lidded from post-kiss pleasure, blue eyes met red as the pair struggled to come back to their senses. Still blushing brightly, Spongebob was the first to break the silence.

“Wow, um… that was – y-you’re really good at that…” the sponge stuttered, letting out a breathy giggle alongside the compliment.

“Thanks… you, too,” the cephalopod replied absently, as if he were in a trance.

As his brain and hearts finally synced, the octopus flushed a deep ruby, alarm filling his gaze. In one fluid motion, the octopus forcefully shoved the poriferan away from him, furiously wiping his lips – a futile endeavor as the kiss lingered.

In his mind, Squidward unleashed the foulest curse words he could think of - words that would make a hardened sailor come out from the woodwork to ask him if he kissed his mother with that mouth.

“There! It’s done. Happy now!?” he snarked, attempting to cover up the flurry of emotions flooding his system.

The sponge stared at the ground as he held his hands together in an attempt to steady himself, his mind running a million miles per minute as he processed the events as well.

He kissed Squidward. He kissed Squidward? He kissed Squidward!

But, most of all, Squidward kissed him back. In fact, Squidward kissed him first.

As his lips tingled with the phantom sensation of the kiss, the sponge knew he’d be lying if he said he truly wanted Squidward to go on this date and experience that level of affection with anybody else.

He wanted to be the one who made Squidward smile and laugh. The one who got to be there for Squidward without him pushing him away – during good times and bad. The one who made Squidward turn into a pile of mush at the sight of him. The one who got to go on a “romantical date” with him, just to listen to him talk about all his passions and hobbies.

The one who got to kiss him, just like they had moments before, without having to deny it ever happening.

However, as his gaze shifted behind the octopus in question, he felt like his joints had frozen solid and his heart had done the same.

“Um, Squidward…” he said timidly, raising a tentative finger.

Like a kettle that had boiled over on the stovetop, Squidward felt like steam was emitting from his ears.

The kiss only made him feel more confused and conflicted about his upcoming date. As the cephalopod took in the sponge’s appearance – black wig nowhere in sight, lipstick smudged, dress ruffled – it became increasingly apparent what had happened.

But it was just for practice, right? It didn’t count. It didn’t happen.

Strangely enough, this rationale only made things worse.

Did he… want it to matter?

Fishpaste. Only Spongebob Squarepants had the audacity to make him feel like this right before he had somewhere important to be.

“Don’t ‘um, Squidward’ me! What was I thinking asking you for help!? I mean, puh-leeze! This entire ‘date’ has been an irritating, utter waste of my time from start to finish! I feel even less prepared for this than I did before!” the octopus barked, practically shaking from anger.

“Um, Squidward…” the sponge tried again, the pitch of his voice rising ever so slightly from nerves.

“No, you don’t get to interrupt me! In fact, don’t even look at me, talk to me, write to me or even think of me! You and I… we are not friends! And never will be,” he finished, breathing heavily.

Eyes wild and fists bawled up at his sides, Squidward scowled down at Spongebob as he slowly recovered from his outburst. However, a voice from behind him calcified the blood running through his veins.

“Then what are you two, exactly?”

Posture stiff as a board, Squidward’s pupils constricted in fear as he slowly pivoted towards the source of the voice. When he turned around completely, he could clearly see Squilvia standing there, eyes narrowed with her arms crossed.

“S-Squilvia? Y-you – you’re early!” Squidward stuttered out, grabbing at the collar of his shirt in an attempt to loosen the tautness he now felt in his throat.

The other octopus, looking unamused, stepped forward and placed her hands on her hips.

“Oh, I’m sorry… did I interrupt something?” she asked coolly.

Squidward gulped as he felt his hearts drop to the pit of his stomach. There was a small part of him that still hoped she hadn’t seen… that.

“Um… h-how much did you see?” he asked, his voice constricting as sweat poured off him like a fountain.

“Oh, only all of it,” the other octopus seethed, confirming she had seen something she wasn’t supposed to.

Double fishpaste. He was screwed.

“Oh, this? N-no, no, no. That was just – t-this is not what it looks like!” he stammered, gesturing wildly towards himself and Spongebob.

Unfortunately, Squilvia wasn’t convinced, an incensed look making its home across her features as she exhaled sharply through her nose.

“Well, I’ll let you two get back to your date. I’m leaving,” she said firmly, fists clutching her purse as she began walking back towards her boat.

“Wait, no! You can’t – please don’t leave, Squilvia! I…” Squidward pleaded after her, lowering his head as he trailed off, a feeling of resignation settling inside of his hearts.

Spongebob stood idly by, watching the scene unfold. Concern traversed over his features upon seeing Squidward so upset by the recent turn of events.

“Squidward? I’m so –“ the poriferan tried to apologize before he was abruptly interrupted by a tentacle in his face.

“I don’t want to hear it,” the cephalopod warned. “So, just, for once in your life… leave me alone!”

Squidward tore the red bowtie he was wearing from his shirt, throwing it on the ground and stomping it into the sand. With that done, the octopus stormed towards his moai, slamming the door shut behind him.

As he stared after the door, Spongebob felt a twinge in his heart. The kiss they shared had been a special kind of magical; even if it meant nothing to Squidward, the sponge was convinced he’d never forget it for as long as he lived.

While the feelings he felt from the kiss were unexpected, he never intended to ruin Squidward’s date. In fact, he had initially suggested it as a way to help the octopus prepare for his eventual kiss with Squilvia. Or so, that’s what he had told himself.

Determination wafting over him, the sponge knew he needed to make this right somehow. Even if it meant giving up on the idea that he’d ever be able to kiss Squidward again.

~

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