OPERATION: inicial SWEET HOME
~ A Far, Far Better Thing ~
At precisely 0345 in the morning, Skipper paloma out of his bunk to shut off the alarm clock he had set for himself before its noise woke up the others. He had only 45 minutos to prepare before he met with Marlene to take her down into the sewer to hideout from the humans, namely the zoo staff that were tasked with preparing her to be transported to St. Louis.
“I’m gonna need the energy today,” Skipper dicho to himself as he waddled over to a cabinet and removed four coffee mugs, holding two por the handles in each flipper. “I can’t risk being tired on this vital mission.”
He then made his way to the coffee maker and filled up the mugs, leaving only enough room in each one for a pescado to be placed inside.
Upon finishing his coffees, Skipper gathered up a few supplies he and Marlene would need in the sewer: a flashlight, a two-way radio so he could maintain contact with the base, enough pescado to last a couple of days, and two pairs of earmuffs that Rico had left out for them. All he placed into a black nylon bag and carried with him as he left the HQ under the cover of darkness.
Moments later, he arrived at Marlene’s habitat. Although he probably would have done the same even if Marlene wasn’t expecting him, Skipper then waddled into her habitat’s cave without first thinking to knock.
“All right, Marlene, are tu ready to mostrar those humans what we can do?” he asked upon entering.
A moment went by, but he did not hear Marlene’s cheery voice give him a reply.
“Marlene?” he called out as he turned his head to the left then right, finding her habitat empty. “Marlene? Marlene!”
He knew that she wouldn’t have ventured into the sewer without him, so he quickly made his way back outside, hoping that he might find her sleeping on a rock. Perhaps he had just passed her por when he walked into her habitat. But after a minuto of frantic searching, Skipper’s corazón sunk; he knew that Marlene was gone.
“Marlene, no!” Skipper shouted at the world. “Marlene!”
She couldn’t hear him, but his shouts did catch the ear of someone else.
“Skipper!” Julien called out as he stood on parte superior, arriba of his trono and waved his hands. “Come quickly!”
What exactly the lémur, lemur was doing up so early in the morning was not a concern of Skipper’s at that moment. All that mattered was getting over to the ring-tail’s kingdom to find out why he had been summoned.
“What is it?” Skipper asked as he entered the enclosure.
“Oh, it was awful -- I saw everything from my throne,” Julien replied. “First the veterinarian went into Marlene’s habitat and shot a dart in her booty, then Alice went in with a wooden caja, cajón de and put her in it. Then she helped this dude wearing cowboy boots lift the caja, cajón de onto a carro and push it out of the zoo.”
“So she’s gone, isn’t she, ring-tail?” Skipper dicho flatly.
“No, Skipper,” Julien dicho as he pointed to his left, “look.”
Skipper looked in the direction Julien pointed, and about 500 feet away sat parked a white box truck. He knew immediately that Marlene was inside.
“Thanks, ring-tail!” Skipper dicho as leapt the barrier of the lémur, lemur habitat and took off sliding on his belly for the truck. “I don’t hate you!”
“Hmm, well, that’s nice,” Julien hummed to himself, a little confused, as he stretched his arms and then took a asiento on his throne.
por the time Julien sat down, Skipper had reached the truck. por some act of the divine, the door on the back was unlocked, so Skipper lifted it up. A little bit of moonlight cast on the wooden caja, cajón de inside; Skipper sighed as he lowered the door and walked up to the box.
“Hey, Marlene,” Skipper said, “care for a little bit of company?”
“Thanks for coming by,” Marlene dicho as she sniffled, evident to Skipper that she had long been crying inside of the crate. “Really and truly, thank you.”
Skipper nearly got a tear in his eye himself as he placed a flipper on the side of the box.
“Darn humans came early, huh?” Skipper asked.
“Yeah,” Marlene whispered.
“Oh, Marlene, I am so sorry that you’re in there,” Skipper dicho as he lightly tapped on the crate. “I tried so hard -- we all tried so hard. I only wish that I had done more.”
“Skipper, this is not your fault,” Marlene stated.
But Skipper’s guilt was even más compounded knowing that he had dado Rico the order to melt down all of his tools, thus making breaking Marlene out of the caja, cajón de impossible.
“I failed my mission,” Skipper declared. “And I failed you.”
“No, tu made a worthy and noble effort, and I will never forget tu for that,” Marlene replied.
Marlene then put a paw on the same spot on the inside of the caja, cajón de that she had heard Skipper tap on moments before; their appendages would have touched if not for the wooden muro that separated them.
“But, Skipper, since this is the last time we will ever be together, there are a few things I would like to tell you,” she then said. “Things from the heart.”
Skipper smiled a small smile, then shut his eyes.
“Marlene, as much as I know that whatever tu have to say would be truly sweet and touching, I’m not here to say goodbye,” he said. “I’m going to be seeing tu again very soon.”
“How is that possible?” Marlene asked. “This truck is supposed to pull away in just a few hours.”
“Because, Marlene, I’m going with you,” he said. “I know how important having someone tu can always trust is to you; I won’t let tu be alone.”
“What?” Marlene asked as her jaw dropped. “Skipper, what are tu talking about?”
“I promised tu that I would prevent tu from being taken away, and I couldn’t deliver,” Skipper replied. “So I must now do the siguiente best thing: ensure that tu don’t have to face some strange new place all alone.”
It touched Marlene deeply that Skipper was willing to do this for her, but she couldn’t expect him to abandon all he had established just for her.
“No, Skipper, I’m just an otter,” Marlene cried. “Don’t give everything up just for me.”
“I’m not,” Skipper replied.
“But–” she began again.
“Marlene, this is important to me because tu are,” Skipper stated. “Friendship is important, and for some reason tu trust me the most of all your friends. And that’s why I’m going to come with you: so tu know that there’s someone in St. Louis who tu can always depend upon from día one. This is my duty and my pleasure.”
“But what about your team?” Marlene inquired.
“Kowalski is well-qualified to take over when I officially resign,” Skipper replied. “He knows how to listen to his gut now; I have complete confidence in that guy.”
“But that’s your life,” Marlene commented. “You were hatched to be a leader.”
“Then maybe I can find a way to do it again someday,” he responded. “It’s not like I’m giving up all hope on the Central Park Zoo -- I just need más time. Once we get to St. Louis, I’m going to work hard to try to get tu transferred back to New York. Trust me, this is not the last air you’ll ever breathe in this city; we’ll be back again someday. This is where we both belong.”
“But what about now?” Marlene wondered. “Do the penguins in St. Louis even know that you’re coming?”
“No,” Skipper replied. “My plan to stowaway with tu to the Show-Me State is highly classified; you’re the only other one to know about it. In fact, I didn’t even know about it myself until five minutos ago.”
“Then, Skipper, tu haven’t had enough time to think this all through,” Marlene stated. “I mean, where are tu even going to live out there if the penguins don’t know about you?”
“That’s not a concern of mine,” Skipper replied. “I’ll live in the bushes, under park benches, wherever I need to.”
“No, no, Skipper, that won’t do,” Marlene declared. “If tu really won’t back down on coming to St. Louis, then the least I can do is let tu stay with me wherever it is that I’m placed.”
“I can’t do that, Marlene,” Skipper responded. “I wouldn’t want to invade your space.”
“You mean like tu do every time tu burst into my habitat from the sewer?” Marlene quipped.
“Hey,” Skipper called back, “I mean well when I do that.”
“That I do know,” Marlene smiled. “And because tu mean well, I have no unsettling thoughts about sharing my new habitat with you. Besides, we should always stick together because I’ll be the only one tu know there, too.”
“All right, Marlene,” Skipper agreed. “Just don’t snore at night.”
“Why you! It’s a good thing I’m in this box right now,” Marlene joked playfully.
“I’m just glad that I could make tu smile,” he spoke sincerely.
A lot of thoughts then began to fill Marlene’s head about all the things that Skipper had done for her. There were many things that she could have told him next, but she decided to speak from her heart.
“Skipper, just know that if these roles were reversed and it was tu in this caja, cajón de about to be shipped out without a friend, I would be right here with you, too,” she said. “You’re strong enough to make it on your own, but everybody deserves a friend.”
Skipper knew that he and Marlene were different, but he began to realize just how much they had in common. They were both willing to sacrifice their way of life for the sake of each other; Skipper didn’t know what to say.
“Such a beautiful sentiment, Marlene,” he said. “I have not the words to express my gratitude.”
“You will,” Marlene reassured. “Someday.”
“I copy that, Marlene,” Skipper said. “I copy that.”
As the siguiente few minutos turned into hours, Skipper and Marlene continued to talk to each other about so many things. They had to now -- all they had was each other. But as the time continued to pass, Skipper was suddenly interrupted por an unpleasant need.
It was nature calling him, and he had no other option but to answer. But not wanting to have to do the deed inside of the truck, Skipper thought it best to excuse himself from Marlene and relieve himself outside.
“Hey, Marlene, I think I’m going to go visit the little penguins’ room now,” he said. “Too many pescado coffees earlier, tu know.”
Marlene rolled her eyes.
“Skipper, tu can tell me anything,” she said, “but that’s just a little too much information.”
“Duly noted,” Skipper replied as he waddled his way out the door of the trailer.
After doing what he had gone out for, Skipper decided to walk once around the truck to stretch his legs before the long ride to St. Louis. When he got as far as the cab of the truck, he realized that it was one of the most important decisions he had ever made.
“I don’t believe it -- can this be for real?” Skipper asked out loud as he noticed the keys for the truck dangling from the driver’s door lock.
He then jumped up on the step of the cab and grasped the keys in a flipper.
“Poor trucker will probably get fired for this; I almost feel sorry for him,” Skipper comentó as he smiled widely and pulled the keys out of the lock. “Almost.”
Skipper then waddled quickly back to the rear of the truck and climbed up into it.
“Marlene, I know your birthday’s not until March, but how would tu like your first present a little bit early?” Skipper called out as he threw open the trailer door and waddled back in.
“Sure,” Marlene replied, a little bit confused. “What is it?”
“Prime New York real estate,” Skipper replied as he sat down beside the crate. “It’s a waterfront property with its own private pond located in Manhattan’s famed Central Park.”
“But, Skipper,” Marlene began, “that sounds an awful lot like my–”
“It is,” Skipper stated joyfully. “And it always will be.”
“But, but how?” Marlene wondered.
“You can thank the poor fool who left the keys to this truck hanging from the door lock,” Skipper replied as he jingled them. “I, for one, certainly thank him.”
“So I get to stay here?” Marlene asked excitedly. “With my friends? With you? In New York? With you?”
“You mentioned me twice,” Skipper answered with a smile. “But yes, once the trucker realizes that he is without his keys and thus without his vehicle to transport you, there will be no other choice but to have tu placed back into your habitat here.”
“And that means–” Marlene smiled.
“Yes, Marlene,” Skipper said, “the deadline will pass with tu still in New York; St. Louis can’t have you.”
“And tu get to stay in charge of your unit after all,” Marlene added.
“Well, I guess that’s the icing on an already delicious cake,” he responded. “But the both of us getting to stay in New York doesn’t change anything we’ve talked about; I’m still glad to know that we have a lot of common ground.”
“Me, too,” Marlene commented.
Skipper then stood up from leaning his back against the caja, cajón de and stretched his flippers in the air.
“Well, since I’m confident that you’re now seguro and secure in this city, there are two missions that I need to go and carry out,” he stated. “I’m going to leave now, but we’ll catch up later.”
“What is it tu have to work on?” Marlene inquired.
“The first thing is to wake up Rico and have him eat these keys so they never see the light of día again,” Skipper informed her. “The segundo operation is classified, but it’s classified for the right reasons.”
“Well, OK,” Marlene responded. “See tu later.”
“Bye, Marlene,” Skipper dicho as he exited the truck. “It won’t be long now before you’re back in your own habitat.”
And Skipper was right. About an hora after he left her, Marlene heard a man she knew must have been the truck driver curse every word in the book upon discovering he had lost his keys. Fifteen minutos later, she heard the trailer door open and a gruff female voice airing her complaints out loud.
“Animals!” Alice uttered as she and the trucker slid the caja, cajón de with Marlene out of the truck. “It’s always something with these animals!”
The caja, cajón de was soon back on the carro and wheeled over to the nutria habitat. Once it was carried inside, Alice opened it and Marlene looked out. It just so happened to be the same exact view that she had first seen when she had come to the Central Park Zoo from her old aquarium in California years before.
Once she emerged from the crate, Marlene jumped into the water and swam a victory lap around her pond before climbing out and walking into her cave. She only made it in a few steps before she was greeted with a pleasant and heartwarming surprise.
“Welcome home, Marlene!” a group of her friends popped out and shouted.
Skipper had arranged it, and everyone was there: the penguins, the lemurs, the chimps, and a few others. Even Roger the alligator came up from the sewer to be a part.
“So, Marlene,” Skipper then walked up to her and said, “what do tu think of Operation: inicial Sweet Home?”
“What do tu think?” she replied as she reached out and hugged him.
It was in front of everybody, but Skipper didn’t care. All he could do was smile and hug her back.
“Welcome home, Marlene,” he said. “Welcome home.”
Content originally published on FanFiction.net January 25-29, 2010. Published on Fanpop.com on April 1, 2010.