Title: Of Jane Austen And Penguins
Era: During the run of the TV show
Summary: Skipper gets zapped and acts weird. Cliché, much? After two years in the fandom, I'm just poking a little fun.
A/N Pretentious story alert.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a penguin commander in possession of a propensity for touching what he should not must be in want of a cure for the predictable consequences. The corollary to such a theorem is that his team will move Heaven and Earth to procure a cure.
However well-organised the infrastructure of such a team, seemly leaders provide for contingencies in the lamentable occasion of their indisposition. Where less seemly penguinkind has failed - and who among us knows in depth the stresses of leading a sterling team of redoubtable kungfuing penguins? - the delights of a more typical accommodation to plot become apparent amid explosions, profound changes to leaderly character, and remarkable ineptness by subordinates during successive attempts to remedy the situation, and are improved by the writer's craft.
Such was the experience of Skipper and his compatriots on an otherwise clement April morn. Slapping a faulty water pump in the depths of their pond pursuing an unwise attempt to make the recalcitrant mechanism work again flamed an electrical shock jaggedly outlining Skipper in turquoise. His team ferried him à la Charon to the water's surface to take refuge on their faux floe.
The three had but barely reassured themselves of his respirations in and out in a regular fashion when alarum struck. "I forget how to swim," voiced Skipper in fearful tremolo. He tottered to the floe's edge to peer into cerulean depths averaging two fathoms.
Here was a perplexity requiring the zenith of Kowalski's options. No penguin of spirit could long survive total separation from his water; indeed, the Mind would take flight after the Spirit, although before the Body. In the press of urgency, he addressed the difficulty with a practical initial solution as he hoped beyond hope that the second option would prove unnecessary to bring to light of day. In previous predicaments, command devolved to the lieutenant as a matter of course, but never for more than two weeks. Kowalski realised his place as interim captain suited his Beta personality and in rare humility wished for his permanent hierarchical position never to change. "Rico, hork up some water wings," he said.
Rico (stout fellow he!) obliged with alacrity. "'Kippppaaaaahhhh, putdeseon." Within a short span of time, an erstwhile leader owning impeccable seamanship credentials trembled on water's edge, nearly encapsulated in Speedo (TM) supporting devices.
Skipper was surprized by his fear. He had never been considered a Nancy Cat; in the case of his crippling fear of needles, his Character overcame the stygian darkness of terror in the course of events when Private's life depended upon his commander's courage. Skipper held that prideful memory before him as he stepped off into the Deep.
Several of the habitat's neighbours complained of tinnitus for up to three days afterwards upon hearing inglorious shrieks of "Halp! Haaaalllpp! Water got up my beak!" followed by "I'm on it, Skippa!", "Kwitchermoanin!" and a roared "Option Two it is! Toss him to me!"
Private's anxiety having soared to Level Thirteen Out Of Ten, he demanded results using terms rude and direct, unlike the faultless politesse he generally espoused. He pecked the water wings, which surrendered their integrity with two pops. "K'walski, do somethin'! Now! This minute!"
Rico revolved the happenstances in his mind after he yanked off the shriveled water wings. Skipper and he had been friends for years and several times in those years a certain je ne sais quoi sashayed into Rico's thoughts: despite their non-familial connexion, he and his commander were like unto brothers of blood in their love of action and disregard of consequences, more so than any other two team members excepting the mourned Manfredi and Johnson. All ruminations crystallised into a rejoinder supporting Private's and it burst forth thusly: "Yah. Whuthesed."
Kowalski was now taken aback. Demanding options was Skipper's prerogative, and his alone. Should his team mates beg, that would be acceptable and Kowalski's distress with his fellows was such that he delayed treating the spluttering commander held between his legs as the two arranged themselves sitting upright, spoon fashion. Raising a brow that crept upwards as high as it ever could, he observed icily that "he did not wish to impose his options on the team in situ and if any other penguin held a braaping better idea he would listen well does anyone want to say something? Like right this nanosecond?"
In the natural vehemence of his utterance, he squeezed Skipper's waist to a point beyond the compression necessary to steady him upright. Skipper wheezed in the manner of a geriatric goose as his eyes bulged like Muscat grapes and Kowalski saw the offence that scientific Pride had led him to. "Wait! You're both right and I was in error. Rico, a snorkel, if you please."
Rico and Private graced Kowalski with a snorkel from the former and a forgiving smile from the latter. With obeisance to the Austenesque "It isn't what we say or think that defines us, but what we do," the team set to work with a Will. By actions of the strongest mutual regard, they played at soothing baseless fears. With snorkel in beak and guided on two sides by Tugboat Rico and Tugboat Kowalski, Skipper's indomitable iron constitution of mind and body recovered. Private assayed the rôle of Entertaining Diversion as he utilised his considerable lung power to swim along the bottom of the pond, imitating various fish that Skipper focused upon as he breathed without hyperventilating through the apparatus whilst getting his face wet, which esteemed instructors deemed crucial to the learning process.
Private was a trevally, butting his head against the bottom; he morphed into Dave The Octopus with a swishy wiggle of hip and spray of black ink in the habit and practice of cephalopods; he natated like a flounder until Kowalski gestured him to the surface. The interim intrepid leader called upon his inner strength as he faced the dread of Option Two with aplomb.
"Private, take over nanny duty when I get in the middle. Sir, hold me up and please forgive me for being you for the next hour. Rico, swim behind us to oversee that this all doesn't go into the dumpster."
To describe the defined hour in any detail would be indelicate; it must serve to note that Option Two produced the desired cure as Kowalski thrashed, blubbered and flailed whilst Skipper's instinct to help by leading diverted his mind from his Fear so his Spirit could defeat it. Role reversal richly rewarded, neither penguin found himself displeased with the results.
As Kowalski acted full bore panic with falsetto screams, Skipper laughed at great length regarding the portrayal of himself and the hour ended with the four of them in effortless camaraderie.
"It's good to have you back, Skippa."
Kowalski had strained his vocal cords and could only nod.