Afternoon, and there was a knock on the door…
Kowalski, who was sitting against a mural of the HQ, looked up from his book that he was leitura and stared at the door. Private rolled over from within his bunk and glanced at the door, as well. Skipper groaned and made his way towards the fonte of the sound. He seemed to be doing most of the work, lately. The others only seemed to be interested in quarrels and drama. The leader longed to go on another successful mission with his teammates; like they used to. Otherwise, life at the zoo was beginning to lose its meaning. But something kept him going…
When Skipper swung the door open, he was immediately confronted por his neighbor, who was panting for breath. She appeared to have been running or something of the sort.
“Marlene! What’s the pro-”
The lontra smiled, stepped forward, and wrapped an arm around the pinguim “No, no, no! Don’t say anything! Just…just c’mon! Follow me!” she laughed, guiding Skipper towards the exit.
He nervously turned his head to look back at the others, “Eh…I’ll be back, shortly, team! Just, uh…stay on your toes while I’m gone…” he finished just before the door slammed shut.
A long, awkward silence followed.
Private eventually looked to Kowalski and decided to say something. At first, he hesitated.
“I’m not telling you, Private…”
“So, what’s this all about, Marlene?” he asked as the couple walked through the zoo and towards the otter’s habitat.
“What, can’t two friends just hang out, once in a while?” said Marlene, with a smirk.
“Of course! It’s just…” he paused when he was given a curious glance, “…you can never be too cautious!” he suddenly stood straight and stiffened his posture as he walked. However, his face clearly expressed a nervousness that was thought to be hidden.
Marlene narrowed her eyes, but retained her smirk, “Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well…it never hurts to be a little-”
“Am I not trustworthy, now?”
“Marlene, I was just-”
She walked closer to Skipper, for a moment, and gave him a light push, followed por laughter.
“What, am I one of…Dr. Blowhorn’s spies…or something?”
“Blowhole…” he corrected with a sigh.
Marlene continued to chuckle, never realizing how cute Skipper appeared when he was frustrated.
The two eventually reached the otter’s home.
Inside, Rico was applying the final touches to Marlene’s cave. He had just lit the remaining candle when Skipper walked in from behind.
“Rico! How’s life at the cave?” he clapped the heavyset pinguim across the back. Marlene quietly followed close behind, not noticing the scene that had occurred.
Rico slightly smiled and forced a chuckle, wasting no time in leaving the vicinity. From past experience, the last thing he wanted was to get involved with romance. From this point, the pinguim chose to linger near the entrance. Marlene and Skipper, of course, continued to head deeper into the tunnel.
“So, what do you think?” questioned Marlene, who turned to Skipper and rested her hands on her hips.
Skipper's eyes expanded at the sight of the decorations. For a moment, he was speechless. Marlene used this moment to make her way to the stereo, pushing a button to play the prepared piece. In response, Skipper tilted his head and rubbed the back of his neck with a flipper.
“Well, Marlene…this is very unexpected, but-”
“Oh, I knew you’d say that!” she interrupted, pulling Skipper towards the centered red table, “C’mon, let’s just sit for a while!”
The confused pinguim was placed into a stone chair, opposite of Marlene’s side of the table.
“Tell me all about your little missions…” Marlene rested her head on her hands, her elbows on the table, and leaned progressivo, para a frente with a smile.
Skipper laughed, shaking his head in disbelief, “Is this a joke?”
The lontra narrowed her eyes.
“What? No!” her head shot up, “Why would you say that? Isn’t everything nice? I mean…is there someone else?”
“You’ve got it all wrong, Marlene! Everything is…well…the cave looks nice; very nice! But…you’ve yet to tell me why I’m here. Wait, what did you-?”
“Eh, you’re right! I’m just overreacting, I guess.” she laughed, “Um, you wanna dance?” Marlene suddenly hopped to her feet, pulling Skipper from his table.
I’m moving too fast.
I need to calm down!
Just calm down, Marlene!
No big deal…
…he’s just a penguin!
An attractive penguin.
A very attractive penguin!
Skipper reluctantly joined in her enthusiasm. Marlene grabbed his flippers and set them on her hips. He looked down at what she had just done and glanced back up.
“I’ve never really done this, before…”
Marlene blinked, “Are you serious?”
“Well…yes…” he looked away, embarrassed.
The lontra giggled and looked down at both of their feet. The pinguim did so, as well…
“It’s really easy. You just…step with the beat.” She paused, guiding Skipper’s feet with the use of her own, “Just…do this…and then bring this foot around here. And then do it again…”
The pinguim grunted in frustration as he stumbled a bit. Marlene unintentionally caught the penguin, preventing him from falling flat on his beak. Skipper chuckled nervously, stiffening to once again maintain his balance. Marlene could only smile at the scene. For a short while, the two simply remained embraced and stared at each other; the only sound being that of the song that played from the stereo. So far, things were starting to pick up the pace. The mood was finally beginning to set, and Skipper seemed to feel comfortable in Marlene’s presence.
Marlene began to laugh, “What’s wrong, Skipper? You’re shaking! Skipper?”
However, Rico couldn’t urso to watch any longer. The romantic setting only reminded him of his doll.
Perhaps he could use this time to his advantage.
And so he did.
He chose to turn and leave while the two lovebirds were getting busy. He made his way out of Marlene’s habitat and towards his home.
Early night, and there was a knock on the door…
Kowalski, who was still leitura his book, looked up and stared at the door. Private remained asleep from within his bunk, leaving the intellectual with the job of answering the knock. Only, it unexpectedly answered itself. The door quickly swung open and Rico waddled in, looking very calm and collected; a rare sight. He almost ignored Kowalski, stepping past him and walking along as if he wasn’t being watched.
“Erm…Rico?” he asked, setting his book aside while rising to his feet.
The heavyset one said nothing, as usual, and continued his venture through the HQ.
“Rico, what are you doing here? Where’s Marlene?” he continued to ask, following the silent pinguim throughout the area.
Rico simply made a low sound that resembled a growl. Kowalski sighed and stopped following him. Instead, he folded his flippers and watched. Finally, Rico came across his doll. It had been lying in a corner, all this time. He didn’t waste any time in hoisting the plastic woman over his shoulder. Then, he turned and headed for the door. Kowalski blinked once he understood what was happening. He suddenly took a few running steps towards the other pinguim and reached out for his shoulder.
Although he meant well, Kowalski was then confronted with a cold glare. Rico had swiftly turned, stopping the intelligent one in his tracks.
“Look, I simply need to tell you…” he hesitated, causing Rico to arch a brow, “…I’m sorry, Rico.”
Kowalski followed this statement with the attempt of a hug.
Sadly, Rico forcefully shoved Kowalski away.
“Rico, I’m not like that, anymore…” he sighed, feeling hurt that their relationship would ever come to this, “I’ve changed.”
In response, Rico shook his head and narrowed his eyes, “Liar…” he muttered, pointing to Kowalski.
“No, it’s true! I’ve done much thinking during your absence.”
Rico simply shook his head once more.
At first, it wasn’t clear as to why he was being so stubborn. Of course, after little thought, he soon realized what he was referring to.
“You’re upset that I lied to Skipper…”
“You never thought…that I was a freak?” Kowalski muttered, lowering his head in shame of asking such a question, “You…only wanted me to be…honest?”
Rico sighed and dropped his doll on the ground. He then stepped progressivo, para a frente and wrapped his flippers around the hurt friend.
Kowalski did the same, doing his best to retain the tears from forming. He was sick of weeping…
“I miss you, Rico…”
And then he picked up his doll and left…
It almost happened in a flash.
Kowalski was left standing near the door, silent from the emotions that filled his heart.
From behind, Private yawned and sat up while rubbing his eyes.
“Who was that, K’walski?”