Undertow

BY : pronker
Category: +M through R > Penguins of Madagascar
Dragon prints: 1223
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.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral majesty refined the sense of otherworldliness that Padre Alfonso experienced on the steps of Chichen Itza. The darker parts of Mesoamerican life interested him intellectually; the lighter parts of American life interested him more. He scanned the procession of animals as if he could have seen four little penguins in the building. He couldn’t, but only because their black and white forms blended so well into the shadows of the niche of La Virgen de Guadalupe. An animal in the procession might have called their pose cowering, but their leader preferred the term stealth mode.

“Why are we here, Skippa?”

Skipper sighed. “Ask the right way, Private.”

“Um — why are we here, sir —– ”

“Kowalski, help him out.” La Virgen provided shelter, as she had in a greater sense during Skipper’s tenure in Mexico’s jungle adventures. For today, Skipper yearned to soak in memory of when he was not so much a leader, but a follower of a great Cause under a greater leader than himself. Selecting this niche sounded self-absorbed when he thought about it, so he didn’t think very hard.

“A clue? Very well, sir. Private, why is this day different from all others? There is only one logical option.”

Rico paid no attention to the exchange. The sounds and scents of tortoises, llamas, and cockapoos surrounded him in sensory bliss. Padre Alfonso’s blessing made him want to pet every one of his fellow animals and he could hardly stand still.

“We’re here because it’s fourth October? Oh, you know I’m rubbish at math! Just tell me!”

“Math is the purest of sciences, but math only guides us here on the proper day. Think of love.”

Private glanced at Skipper, who returned his attention to Padre Alfonso’s blessing. Of necessity, the various animals could not be expected to hold their positions for a lengthy time since they had no commando training. The only exception might be the police horse standing at attention at the caboose end of the line. She swept her ears forward to pay heed to the good father’s words, taking them to heart. Skipper did likewise because he wanted to blot away any trace of allowing his feelings for Private show to his team. In his zeal, he missed seeing the speculation and yearning wash over Private’s face.

Entranced by his leader’s focus on the occasion and wishing with all his heart to learn whatever meaning the fourth of October held, Private stuttered, “L-Love? You m-mean love for that certain Someone, or, or — ”

Kowalski turned from hauling Rico back into the shadows. The scientist realized that the overwhelming nature of the cathedral’s majesty and the presence of animal life in vastly different forms came close to swamping Rico’s self-control. Any moment now, Rico might catapult from the shadows again, yowling in rapture at the way animals, humans and the Divine gathered together for the ceremony of the Blessing of the Animals. It was no wonder, really, that Skipper never ordered attendance at the ceremony before this. Was it because Skipper’s leadership sense figured that Rico and his second in command were an item and that Kowalski provided an anchor for Rico’s explosive psyche in a cathedral setting? Kowalski’s respect for his leader rose higher than before. He tightened his flipper around Rico’s shoulder before answering Private.

“Not that kind. It’s the sort that some call Sloppy Agape.”

“Wot?” Private broke out of his hushed voice and made a service dog growl in his direction from her crouch at her master’s feet.

That disrupted Skipper’s laser beam focus. After giving a threatening look at the canine breaker of the peace, he signaled Shut Up The Blabbermouth, a routine so new as to yet have no number. Kowalski and Rico hustled Private between them to each slap a flipper over the young penguin’s beak. Only Private’s eyes showed his abject apology.

Skipper leaned in, beak-to-beak in a stage whisper. “Agape, Private, is what we birds feel for all our fellow animals without specializing which ones, yes, even the mammals. In a general way, it’s why we commandos do what we do. Before you ask, agape extends to humans, because they’re just big furless monkeys, right? It’s the humans’ Blessing of the Animals on October 4th that sets the mojo on us all. We’re here today for that reason, ¿comprende?”

As Kowalski and Rico warily released him from their grip, Private looked cross-eyed at Skipper’s beak a whisper from his.  He shivered a little. Skipper backed away without another word to concentrate on Padre Alfonso’s conclusion. At his sterling example, the team listened hard, as well.

Private remained between Rico and Kowalski, bolstered by their presence even though his attention flickered. When Alfonso intoned from his human point of view that animals ought to be “a help to us, continue to protect and sustain us” and then something about cheeses, Private heard the words clearly in Skipper’s voice. After all was said and done and the team lay in their bunks at day’s end, Private ventured a request into the still night.

Lights out meant get ready for sleep and Skipper admitted to himself that this October 4th proved as peaceful a one as he’d ever experienced. Damn, that had made his day to see Padre Alfonso once more. The sermon by Alfonso from the steps of Chichen Itza remained in his heart after others faded. One moment of reflection followed another, thoughtfulness this time making him relaxed rather than antsy. He jolted back to duty at a loved voice. Eh, so Private asked for something? “Speak up, young Private. What did you want?”

“I said that I’d quite like a beach trip. I want to see the sea, so to speak.”

“For a special reason?” Any commander worth his halibut probed for underlying unrest among his troops. Was this a simple request or something deeper?

Private patted the place beside him where Skipper had rested every night during their ‘relaxation’ exchange trip to Åland, well except for those wrenching nights when Skipper lay injured on his makeshift hospital bed. He came up with a reply in his most innocent voice. “Oh, well, um, don’t you think that we as penguins ought to renew ourselves with the briny? Jump in and swim in deeper waters than our pond? Splish splash and take a bath in — ”

“All right, you’ve sold it enough. We’ll come up with a battle plan tomorrow morning.”

“Not everythin’ is a battle, Skippa.”

“So they tell me. Lights out, all.” Today’s Blessing brought out some feels in Private. Interesting.

“Aye, sir.”

“Yup!”

“Sweet dreams, Skippa.”

IOIOIOIOIO
 



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