Undertow

BY : pronker
Category: +M through R > Penguins of Madagascar
Dragon prints: 1371
Disclaimer: I make no profit from this fanfiction set in Dreamworks' Penguins of Madagascar franchise. I do not own its characters, basic premise or settings.

"So the Petting Zoo has dwarf fainting goats now? Why wasn't this on my morning report?"

The three billy goats wrenched their attention away from the lone nanny. "Boys, we got ourselves a busybody," said the one middling in size. "Remember what we did to the last busybody we met?"

Two heads lowered. Two hooves stamped. Two upright tails whipped in the evening breeze like car antenna trinkets that Jack-In-The-Box restaurants didn't hand out any longer. "We give 'em the treatment, right, Chark?" they chorused.

The middling one sized up the newcomers. His charcoal coat afforded effective camouflage in the dark paddock that housed Randy The Sheep and The Three Were-Bunnies, as Skipper privately termed the bunnies with ferocious MMA skills. Randy snoozed, but the bunnies foraged among the grass of the far west end. At this part of the zoo, lighting only rimmed the paddock with little effect in its middle and on a moonless night such as tonight, penguin darkness vision came into play.

Private snickered, already high spirited because of being on an Official Date. "You do realize your horns have been sawed off?"

It was up to Skipper to defuse the situation and he stepped up to the plate. "Now hold on, Belligerent Caprines. You don't know the lay of the zoo land yet - "

" - and you're the head honcho around here? Who says?" Chark stiffened and then relaxed. "We're fixing to take over this Petting Zoo. We did it in Nashville and we'll do it here, Yanks."

An unholy shriek issued from one of the two goats as they edged nearer to the two penguins. Private moved to stand back to back with Skipper. "Some first date," he muttered out the side of his beak.

"I'll make it better, Private. I promise."

"It's not your fault, I didn't mean - "

"Watch out, here come the bunnies!" Skipper shouted. He and Private dove one to each side of Chark as Fluffer, Nutter and William bounded up to the group. They sat respectfully to the side, their combat abilities muted to the penguins and likely invisible to the goats.

"Hewwo," said Fluffer. He licked a paw and groomed his ears. "Skippeh and Pwivate, good to see you. And you goats, too. We haven't been pwopewwy intwoduced." He stuck out his dry paw. "I'm Fwuffeh, this is Nutteh and this is Wiwwiam." The bunnies nodded in perfect politeness.

Chark looked at the offered limb without moving to complete the greeting. He peered towards the nanny goat who was absorbed in bedding down her two kids whom she would join in slumber. "Better stay away from the scrimmage, bunny. It'll rip off your fur." The other two billies chortled.

Skipper tried again. "Like I said, you goats don't know the standing orders around here - "

"Orders? By you? l don't take orders from any animal, bird. Now if you was a spider monkey, I might consider it. I might." Chark's potbelly bloated even more with his tough words.

Private firmed his stance, back stiff and flippers in attack position. All fond notions fled of chatting up the soft bunnies and scratching the places that they couldn't reach. Battle mode again, he thought. And I want love tonight. Pinfedderers!

"Take a chill pill, goats. There's more than just the two of us to keep the peace." All right, Skipper, negotiating to find common ground is a proven strategy, so employ the tactic you know. "We'll braid your lips in ten seconds flat if you don't calm down." There. Threats were standard operating procedure in negotiating, right? He needed a refresher course. Damn, he'd wanted love tonight and the mood was spoilt. He glowered at the three gruff billy goats.

Chark displayed even more ire as he tried to steal home. "Get off our turf! It's triple filtered fescue and we don't want you on it!"

Damn again. Private and he had no luck in love tonight because these three ornery critters were loaded for bear. Skipper dropped negotiating as a strategy. Routine One it was to be: Kick 'Em In The Crotch. He glanced at the target area. Er, what the flank steaks? Where were the targets? They couldn't have been - oh hell. The goats had been gelded. No wonder they overcompensated for what they were missing! Pity colored his opinion of the poor guys.

Private noticed the sitch, too. "Skippa, they're - "

"Don't say it, scrawny bird," blatted one of the goats. "We got balls where it counts."

Fluffer, Nutter and William burst into tenderhearted tears. "Aw aw aw n-n-noooooo, s-say it isn't soooo, poah unnatuwal g-g-goaties - "

The paddock atmosphere charged with a foul blended stench of upcoming battle and overwhelming pity. Chark swept his head down while his beard swung like a bell. The other two joined him, pawing the ground as if the paddock were the Plaza de Toros and bleating strange noises that resembled humans hollering in great distress. "We're wethers and proud of it! Go Rocky Top!" came their battle cry.

"Private, Modified Routine One!"

"I'm on it, Skippa!"

The bunnies' sobbing increased to heartrending proportions.

Chark and the others charged two steps, Skipper and Private touched tails as they backed into each other and William fainted. He was not the only one.

Chark and his buds stiffened, eyes protruding. They fell onto their sides.

"They awe dead, dead, deeeeead!" cried Fluffer. "Poah, poah unnatuwal goaties!" He fell on Nutter's breast. The two bunnies clutched each other, inconsolable.

Private came down from battle stance and poked warily at Chark. "They're still breathin'. Will they be all right?" He turned to the bird he loved. "Skippa?"

Skipper's fight or flight response had always been hair trigger. It took him a moment to answer what his brain provided. "They fainted." He willed himself to relax. "We don't need to do anything for or to them, although I'd like to slap them silly for all the trouble they caused. Stupid mammals."

Fluffer and Nutter clustered around William and either ignored the remark or put their friend's welfare before any petty insult. They fanned fresh air into his face and then William sat up groggily. "What just happened?"

"Hey, that's my line!" Private turned his flippers out helplessly. "So they do this all the time?"

"I'll ask Kowalski later, but yeah, I think if they get excited enough it happens. Meeting such penguin manliness blew their circuits."

Fluffer hiccupped. "They awe wascawwy neighboahs. I weawwy, weawwy want them gone." He turned hopeful pink eyes to his penguin friends. "Can you awwange it?"

Nutter and William shrugged. "It's a big Petting Zoo meadow, Fluffer, and there's room for goats, I mean, Randy isn't much nicer than these three are," offered Nutter. "For right now, let's table the request, okay?"

"Listen to your pals, tiny lagomorph. Kowalski messed with the zoo's relocation computer before with mixed results, remember?" The quiet minute lengthened into two as they all remembered.

Private took upon himself the unofficial burden of Morale Officer. "Righto then, gents. Care for a spot of groomin'?" He waved his flippers for effect. "It's ever so soothin'."

The three bunnies glanced at each other before nodding. Their fur succumbed to expert patting as fluffing and a little bit of preening crept in. Twenty calming minutes later, the five sat in a companionable circle to watch the goats recover and stagger away.

Chark looked over his shoulder at them almost out of earshot. "Got off lucky, you did, birds."

"Yeah yeah, sure sure." Skipper felt magnanimous to animals who had suffered such a loss. Even if it were in babyhood, it had to have hurt. He crossed his legs tightly, only to see that Private and the rabbits had done the same. "So, Private, ready for snowcones? Luigi might still be in the park, but if he's gone, there are vending machines over by Alice's office."

Private stood. "I am, Skippa. This date is turnin' out unexpected, but I like it all the same."

Fluffer, Nutter and William looked at each other with wide eyes, but when Fluffer finally gathered the nerve to ask a relevant question, the penguins' commando speed had whisked them into the park proper.

IOIOIOIOIO

"This is nice, Private."

"It is, Skippa."

One stolen snowcone later, Private and Skipper sat under Fred's tree as they licked opposite sides of the cherry snowcone. Skipper thanked his lucky stars that squirrels were daytime creatures and nighttime snoozers. Given his living sitch, privacy always was hard to come by and on a date he desired it even more. If there was no substitute for solitude as he'd always said, there also was no substitute for one on one time. He pushed the flat of his tongue against the base of the snowcone's paper where red met white to make a soppy corona.

"Mmmmmmmmmm."

Private's tongue collected the sweet syrup as it ran down the sides of the icy cone. "Yummmmy, wot?"

"Uh huh."

They finished the treat and peered up through the branches at the autumn constellations. The Ploughman and the Bears danced their neverending dance, Orion swung his bodacious club and the night turned crisp. Penguin shoulders relaxed into the tree trunk and touched. Private looked long at Skipper and Skipper looked long at Private.

"We can't go on like this, Skippa."

Skipper shot into alert mode. "What? Why do you say that? What's wrong?"

Private realized his error. "Sorry! I only meant that we can't go on wonderin' if we're goin' to kiss."

Quick to alert, less quick to relax, Skipper stumbled, "I'm not good on a date when I'm nervous."

"I make you nervous? Me?"

"Yeah, a little, yeah."

Leading came as naturally as breathing, yet on a date like this one, the consequences loomed over Skipper's head like a figurative Kitka bearing down on a helpless pigeon. He was searching for more words when Private took over.

"We're not goin' to feel comfortable until we know where this datin' stuff is leadin' us."

Perfectly said! Skipper could only nod.

"I don't know about you, but the suspense is killin' me."

A few words surfaced. "Let's end the suspense."

Private looked as if he dredged up courage from a spot inside he'd never plumbed. "Let's."

Skipper curled a flipper around Private's neck to pull him in as Private touched Skipper's flank tentatively. Private brushed his beak's tip to Skipper's before laying his head over to his shoulder and opening wide enough to allow a plunge inside. Skipper licked an entrance as Private squeaked and darted his tongue to rasp on top of Skipper's, making him clutch Private's shoulders and bend him backwards. The trunk proved sturdy leverage for a kiss that lengthened until the two broke apart, gasping.

"That was a bloody good kiss!"

"Wasn't it just? I think we both found out something in record time."

"I think so, too!"

Skipper leaned back against the trunk as if poleaxed with relief. "This will work like a million bucks!"

The night became dreamlike. A timeless time descended as two little penguins opened themselves to the stars and to each other without any more physical contact. It wasn't until Fred scratched on the branch outside his hole that the birds roused from the lifechanging night.

"Hey, you two. Good morning, or is it goodnight? Wait, I can see you plainly, so it's daylight. What are you up to with my tree? Is that carving? Is that a heart? Were you playing cards? Can I play, too?"

Skipper and Private waltzed away from the tree in dawn's early light, flippers entwined and steps sure.

IOIOIOIOIO



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