Disclaimer: I don't own POM or any of its characters.

Hey guys and gals, I'm back on the writing scene. I'm very sorry to tell you that the wait for Medical Emergency's sequel will continue. I decide to write this and a few others to keep the writing muscles working. I'm currently stuck in my first, and by default my worst, case of writer's block for Medical Emergency, so feel free to give ideas. I doubt this will be as good as my earlier work, but it gives me some decent practice. Last time it was more Kowalski-centric, this one will focus on Skipper's thoughts.

Chapter 1

The penguins sat on the couch in their HQ, watching a marathon of Private's favorite soap opera, an activity that had become an increasingly large part of their daily lives. They hadn't had a mission in weeks and each day seemed to blend into the next. All was quiet in the zoo, as each animal settled down for the night.

"I can't believe that Brad could betray his best friend's trust like that. They were like brothers! " Private wiped a tear from his eyes as he spoke.

Kowalski handed Private a tissue from the box on his lap. "I know! Love can be so cruel!"

Rico had regressed into a fit of sobbing as he held his doll girlfriend in his arms.

"What kind of man could pursue his brother's true love and run off with her? Is nothing sacred?"

Kowalski winced at Private's word, but his teammates were too enthralled with the story to notice. "Well, maybe Brad had feelings of his own and he acted on them. I mean you, can't really blame him if he was attracted to Martha. Besides, she and Scott weren't even a couple."

Private couldn't believe what he was hearing. "What? They're soul mates, they belong together."

Skipper had never seen such a sorry sight in all of his life. His squad of highly trained operatives was arguing about characters on a television show, a soap opera no less. "Men, I think we're starting to get soft." He walked over to stand in front of the television and addressed his men, irritation clearly visible on his face. "What happened to the disciplined team of penguins I used to know? Look at us now, our years of training going to waste. We've gotten too comfortable in this zoo, too gullible and relaxed."

Private spoke up nervously. "We just haven't had that many missions recently, Skipper. Maybe the zoo just doesn't needs us as much it used to."

"On the contrary, young Private, there's danger behind every corner. Beginning tomorrow, we are going to take our training to a whole new level and whip you boys back into shape." Skipper turned around, went to the back of the television, and yanked the chord out of the socket. "Lights out, men. See you in the morning at five hundred hours."

"But Skipper, that's two hours earlier than usual." Private almost never disagreed with his commanding officer, but he felt it was a little extreme.

"Well, as Benjamin Franklin once said "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." Kowalski chimed in.

"I like you way of thinking, Kowalski. Time to hit the hay, gentlemen." Skipper watched as Rico and Private climbed into their respective bunks. He was surprised to Kowalski just standing there with a nervous look on his face. "Yes?"

Okay Kowalski, you can do this. Just take a deep breath and say it. "Skipper, I was wondering if I could talk to you."

"Go on."

Come on, there's nothing to be afraid of. "It's kind of personal." Other than the threat of a beating, getting kicked of the team, or some kind of unimaginable punishment.

"It's okay, Kowalski, we're all family here."

"I think I would feel more comfortable if it was just the two of us, Skipper." Kowalski looked over at Rico and Private who were watching them attentively.

"Okay, Kowalski, let's go."Skipper went around the couch to the ladder that leads up to the secret entrance of the penguin exhibit. "Private, you and Rico better be asleep when I get back."

Upon hearing him, they quickly rolled over in their bunks.

Now comes the hard part. Kowalski watched his leader climbed up the ladder and followed suit.

When they got to the top of the penguin exhibit, Skipper was quick to get down to business. "So, what did you want to talk about, Kowalski? It must be either really important or really embarrassing for you to not want Private or Rico to hear."

"Actually, it's a little bit of both."

"Come on out with it, man!"

Now or never. "I wanted to talk to you about Marlene, more specifically, about you and Marlene."

I guess I'm not as good at hiding my feelings as I thought I was. "What do you mean, me and Marlene."

"Well, it just the way you two act around each other. Whenever she's around, you have this big smile on your face. Sometimes, it seems like you're flirting with her. She often comes to the HQ just to see you. Most recently, you've been spending a lot of time at her habitat. To put it simply, I was just wondering if there was something going on between you two, uh, romantically."

If only it was as nice as you make it sound, Kowalski. I'm head over heels for Marlene, but it's just not mutual. "No, were just friends, more like acquaintances really. I don't harbor any romantic feelings toward her whatsoever. Besides, a leader has no time for such things. Why did you want to know anyway?"

"I was thinking about asking her out on a date."

Skipper's immediate shock was clearly visible on his face. "What?" Looks like I've got some competition.

"To, be honest, I really like Marlene. She's kind, understanding and always looks for the best in people. When she talks, it's hard to not get lost in her beautiful hazel eyes. Doris is very nice, but there's just something special about Marlene that I can't even put into words." Kowalski sighed, happy to have finally gotten this off of his chest.

"Sounds like you've got it bad, Kowalski. If you like her that much you don't have to have my permission."

"So, you're fine with me pursuing a relationship with Marlene?"

Just great, my best friend is in love with the same girl as me; only he's going to ask her out. This couldn't possibly get any worse. "I'm happy that you found someone, Kowalski. A little surprised, but happy for you none the less."

"Thanks, Skipper. It would mean a lot to me if you could be there when I ask her."

Apparently, it can get worse. "Of course I'll be there. What are friends for?"

"Not to ruin the mood, but I thought you frowned on us having any kind of romantic relationship."

"The way I see it, if you think that a relationship won't impede upon your duties, then I'll trust your judgment. Besides, Marlene usually tries to help on our missions in some way or another."

"Thanks, Skipper. I'm glad that we had this talk."

Well, that makes one of us. "If that's all, soldier, let's get to bed. We've got a big day tomorrow."

"See you in the morning." Kowalski returned to the ladder and descended.

Skipper looked over at Marlene's habitat, filled with sadness, disappoint and even anger. Why did I lie about my feelings? Why didn't I say he couldn't ask her out? How am I supposed to feel if she says yes to him? What if she says no? Now I have to spend the rest of my wondering what could have been, all because of my fear of rejection. I guess Kowalski was right after all. Love can be so cruel.

Skipper descended the ladder solemnly, eagerly awaiting the dark nothingness that sleep would bring.

After finishing this chapter, I didn't really like it that much. This isn't a Marski story, but I can't really say it's Skilene until closer to the end. Like always, I urge you to review. Don't feel bad about leaving a negative review, because it helps me make the changes that will improve both the story and my writing skills.