Ok I'm pretty sure this is a one shot. There might be a continuation of some sort, but I still have to think of it. I came up with this late at night, like 4 up till morning. I couldn't sleep.
Credit to AlwaysRemainMe for the title :)
Disclaimer: I don't own PoM… but I do owe Fish N Chips :3 And To Fish Or Not To Fish.
"Soldiers, come here! A new show is about to come on: Fish N Chips!" Skipper yelled out from the television spot. "And I've got a brand new order of fish to match the occasion."
Rico shrieked out in happiness, rushing over and swallowing a couple of fresh fish in one, long bite.
"Ooo Fish N Chips!" Private exclaimed excitedly, taking one fish out of the container. "I heard it's based on the classic penguin novel: To Fish or Not To Fish."
"Kowalski's favorite." Skipper commented matter-of-factly. "If only he would come out of his L-A-B and watch it with U-S!" he yelled out loudly, sighing angrily once he got no response.
He rolled his eyes and sat on a chair "Fine! Don't come! As if we need you!"
"What is wrong with Kowalski anyways..?" Private asked timidly. All he knew was that he has been a bit... Off, lately.
"He isn't coming out of his lab." he sighed, stating the obvious. He shook his head, "It's not natural!" his voice rose again, as if maybe Kowalski could hear him. "Not even red Alaskan salmon will bring him out!"
Rico and Private gasped at the same time, a bit taken aback.
"I should go talk to him. It sounds serious." Private glanced at the lab, worried.
"Please!" Skipper begged. "Not even a phone call from Doris will bring him out." he grabbed Private dramatically, pulling him closer. "He is creeping. Me. OUT!" he choked out, one eye staring directly into his.
Rico nodded his head, making weird hand gestures.
"Alright... I'll go talk to him."
Skipper let go of Private, much too Private's relief. "Don't come back here until he is ready to talk with Doris and eat red Alaskan salmon, got it?"
'That will be hard to do' he thought sarcastically.
"Sure thing Skipper" he saluted, as if he was about to go alone on a solo mission.
He started heading towards the lab, tiptoeing, frightened a bit. Kowalski on his "mad scientist" mode is not so much fun. And that's from experience.
He glanced back at Skipper and Rico, who were giving him a 'thumbs up' sign. "Great help they are" he muttered and opened the door slowly.
He entered the lab, instantly coughing from the amount of dust that was piled up in the room. When was the last time Kowalski had cleaned up here?
Not only that, but the dim lights made him bump into things and crash over various items. Was one lamp lighting the entire room?
Private got up on his feet and continued to walk, observing his surroundings as not to fall again. Dirty. Unorganized. 'Is this really Kowalski's lab? He thought in bafflement.
Kowalski was sitting on his rusty old chair, back hunched, staring into space. "Oh thank God you're here!"
The penguin's expression was unreadable, almost blank. His features were focused.
His work area was filled with scattered papers and broken-down experiments. His notepad was to be overflowing with notes.
He looked like a rotting zombie. One that has been paralyzed or frozen, Private determined.
"Kowalski?" he questioned, slightly surprised. He waited a few moments and repeated his name again. Once he didn't get a reply, Private decided to slap him lightly on the shoulder, not enough to hurt him but just enough to daze him out of his daydream.
"Kowalski! Talk to me!" the young penguin's tone hinted desperation, as he was worried for his teammate. Has he finally cracked?
"Why would there be anything wrong?" Innocence? Unlikely. Private crossed his flippers over his chest, quite annoyed. "Tell me what's going on." his eyes were wide with curiosity.
"The puppy dog eyes? Really? Now that's just low." his voice was dragged and tired, bags covered his dark eyes.
"Please?" he continued to beg. Kowalski sunk his head to his flippers, sighing deeply. "Do you want to know what happened?"
Private gave out a small, eager smile and sat on a chair next to Kowalski. "Yes I do."
A few moments passed. "I am unintelligent, ok? There! Are you satisfied?" he muttered annoyed, looking out the window. He seemed a bit embarrassed, as if he just announced his greatest secret on national TV.
The young penguin scoffed, "Unintelligent? Yeah right! Kowalski, you are the brightest out of all 4 of us. You know everything." the smile on his face meant to be reassuring, but it only seemed innocent and naive.
"Not everything." he commented drily. "I know plenty of things…that I am certain of, but there will always be something I won't know."
Private gaped at him. "Well of course you can't know every single thing. No one can achieve such a thing. It's impossible." The answer was simple, right? Then what was his problem..?
The tall penguin shrugged and looked back at the computer, typing up random scientists' names and writing them down on the little space that was left in his notepad. "Private, have you ever started…to think?" he lifted his eyes from his notes.
"Ok maybe I'm not as smart as you, Kowalski but I am capable of thinking and have done so in the past."
"I didn't mean it in an insulting way. It's just... I believe that every person was born with a purpose, you know?" his eyes focused on nothing in particular, just a random object on the other side of the room.
Private stared at Kowalski confused. He wasn't sure what he was getting at, but it was certainly something he didn't understand.
"Most people take for granted their existence. Though, lately, I have been thinking. Maybe a bit too much, but nonetheless so."
Private decided not to comment on the fact that you are forced to think every second of every day, since your brain is constantly working. He noted it as an unnecessary remark and continued to listen.
"What's my reason for existence? Science? Too Specific. Love? Not quite what I'm looking for. Knowledge? ... Maybe." he took a glance at all the laid out subjects he had written on his whiteboard.
"Knowledge?" Private repeated the word; as if it was the most absurd thing he has ever heard of. That was what's bothering him..? That's what's been causing him to act all weird?
He sighed, again. "Yes, knowledge. As you see, time is limited. I have already wasted so much time and have so little of it left!" he looked at his failed experiments in disappointment.
"I crave for that knowledge; for that experience.
There are so many interesting subjects to study, so many unforeseen mysterious unknown to the universe. I want to be the one to figure them out."
Silence followed as Private was trying to comprehend what Kowalski meant by "unforeseen mysteries".
The clock ticked, echoing in the small area of the lab.
"You seek to discover unforeseen mysteries? That's seems a bit difficult given the fact they're unforeseen and they are mysteries."
He was talking logically, what any kid his age would conclude from the speech Kowalski gave him.
"The reason it's difficult is what makes me want to discover it. Not only that. Physiology, Analogy, Astronomy, Biology, Physics, Neurology, Geology... Each of the subjects takes a lifetime to master and to actually comprehend. One on its own is a tool. All of them mixed will give me uncontrollable knowledge. Knowledge equals power." his eyes were bloodshot, and he scanned the list of theories he needed to prove.
To Private, he was talking nonsense. "Knowledge is not the only thing that brings power, Kowalski."
He turned his gaze towards the young penguin. "Ha, I've been thinking about that too. In that entire buzz, all of those discoveries, I would still like to experience all the little things. To fall in love, to laugh, to spend time with my friends. Time leaves no space for it all. And then... I start to think again. My mind clogged with all these thoughts. Is it the root of this entire problem? Thinking? If I didn't think, I wouldn't feel the desire to know more. Yet again, if I didn't feel, I wouldn't feel the need to laugh. To fall in love. Maybe if one of those has mysteriously disappeared, I would have time for one, clear path."
He said it so fast, as it was so simple, as if he had it all thought out. Maybe he did already think it through.
"One clear path? What do you mean? Isn't your path to train and go on missions with us?" he asked innocently. It almost sounded as if Kowalski was... Choosing a different path.
He glanced guilty at the ceiling "There is so much more for me to explore..."
"I don't understand. Why are you telling me this?"
"Private. I am thinking of devoting my life to research and science. I don't know if there is space for an elite force team in there."
Private shook his head. "No. You are not doing this. You are not leaving us!" his voice was shaky, and his expression darkened.
"The Nile is not just a river in Utah..."
"You are being a complete jerk!" he burst out "You know what? It's YOUR choice whether you want to put aside time for your closest friends. It's YOUR choice. But if you want to go and search the world, trying to figure out all the "mysteries" it contains then knock yourself out. But you're going to fail, Kowalski! You're going to fail. You're going to come back here on all fours, begging to join our team, because you will realize your life is a failure and there is no such thing as ultimate knowledge!"
"Private I didn't mean-" a loud slam on the door interrupted his sentence.
He had never seen Private this mad. He thought he would understand.
"Skipper, Kowalski...!" Skipper cast a knowing look towards Private. "I know."
"Wha-What?" tears threatened to fall out of his eyes.
"He's leaving tomorrow. He said he wanted to explain it to you his way."
"No… I-I don't understand." Private choked out. He turned his head towards Rico, who just frowned sadly.
"He will return, Private. He just needs to figure himself out."
I still don't know if this is a one shot, but for now it is. Should I continue?