A/N: The. Last. Chapter.
Chapter Thirteen : Oh-Dark Thirty
The whisper turned into a stressed yell, and the young penguin opened her eyes to find two green familiar ones staring back at her. She gasped and jutted back before noticing who's eyes they were. "C-Cube!?" She relaxed a little, but still felt her face heat up. Athena wondered if she was blushing. He smiled at her before backing up a little, not sitting down even though the girl made a space for him. She tilted her head questioningly, but stayed quiet as he looked around. It was almost two thirty in the morning. What was he doing here at this hour?
The otter finally sighed and gripped one of his wrists tightly in a paw. "Listen... I don't have much time. I told Roz that I forgot some stuff down here. I don't think she bought it, but she didn't mind so..." Athena's eyebrows knitted together and rose, and Cube got the hint that he should just get to the point. "Sorry. It's just... I couldn't go without saying good-bye. I mean, it didn't seem right, and--" Athena's eyes grew as he said "go" and "good-bye". What did he mean, go? Go where? When she asked him this, he shifted uncomfortably, taking another step backwards. "We... found a letter. From our Uncle Charlie down in Florida. He said... he thinks he saw our sister arrive in his zoo." Athena watched him explain, and suddenly it got VERY hard to breath. And why was the air so... blurry? Everything he was saying sounded like it was leading to...
"...So, we're going to have to go find her, make sure she's okay." That. That was what she knew was coming. And what she didn't want to hear. She stood up, making him jump backwards, and stared at him with her deep brown eyes. Eyes that held knowledge of just about anything and everything... except for why they had to leave. It didn't make sense, why did they have to go?
"Your sister is probably fine there... why do you have to leave?" She asked, sniffling a little bit. He grinned, a sad, pitying grin. Athena knew she probably wouldn't be able to talk him out of it, but she still tried, even though, each time all she got was that same look of pity and sorrow. "Cube... You can't leave." Her last ditch attempt to get him to see to reason.
He sighed, running his paw over the top of his head, before pulling at his fur. Athena's two small flippers were wrapped around his paw, as if somehow, that could keep him there with her. "If Elli, or Marshal, or Buttons were missing for years... and you didn't know where they were, or if they were okay, or even if they were alive, Athena," She stopped trying to interrupt him and hiccupped softly. "Wouldn't you go after them? Even on the tiniest note that they might be alive somewhere? Look at their parents before you answer that."
Athena glanced at her uncles' bunks. Each one had one little penguin to take care of, that they had risen from eggs and, even though they were adopted technically, they were... theirs. Pulling just one of the hatchlings away from his or her father... Athena's eyes met Cube's once again, a couple of tears falling from them. Gallantly, Cube wiped them away, trying to keep her feathers from matting. "B-but... I d-don't want you t-to go, I--" She gasped, realizing what she was about to say.
Cube didn't take his eyes off her as her shoulders shook with silent sobs. "I know." She looked back up to see him smile. "Me too." At this she could feel her heart swell with happiness, and her flippers flew around his neck in a giant hug. It felt so bittersweet though. Why did he have to leave now, like this? It wasn't fair... or very nice of him... Then again, it wasn't his fault. He had to find his sister... She kept repeating that over and over to herself as he set her back down on her bed. "But... it's not like you'll be all alone. You'll still have your dad and... Well, not your dad, 'cuz your adopted. I MEAN!" He tried to hastily correct himself (again) "Not that... he's NOT your dad, but... I... just put my foot in it... again." He took a deep breath while Athena chuckled a little bit. He got nervous so easily, especially around her. It was cute, though.
Roz looked around the zoo one last time. She had had some of the best times of her life here. Seeing her mom, Skipper, and all the new mini's... That was definitely a shocker. Who knew all these animals were the parenting types? At least the zoo wasn't over run with little monster idiots, like back in California.
She stopped, looking over at the penguin's fake iceberg. Cube had vanished into it a while ago, undoubtedly to say good-bye to Athena. She rolled her eyes. How he could have developed feelings for the girl so soon was utterly beyond her. Sure, she had become friends with her, to say that she had NO feelings for her would be... callous and untrue. But to say that she had strong feelings for her... She found herself facing the rock sculptures of Julian's throne. Roz climbed it with ease before noticing she was face to face with the boy prince, J.J. She blinked. He was really cute when he was asleep, a thumb in his mouth and his fist closed around his tail like a security blanket.
What made him like her, she had no earthly idea. She didn't even want to hazard a guess. Roz's eyes narrowed as she thought back on all the advances he'd tried to make on her over the past few days... How long had it been... what, a week? Not even that. No matter. They were leaving, so... The prince groaned in his sleep, holding his tail closer to him. Prince J.J was annoying to say the least. Obnoxious at the best of times, mind-boggling at the worst.
Roz knelt down and stroked his head, behind his ears, making him kick a little bit and causing the girl to chuckle. There was something charming about him, though. She jumped from the throne and landed neatly on the sidewalk, brushing herself off. "Good-night, sweet prince." She said with a grin. "And good bye."
He smiled again and took a step back, looking at the clock. It was a quarter till three already. As soon as he said it was time, Athena could feel a fresh wave of tears threatening to emerge. Cube rushed back to her bedside and making sure she was tucked in, nice and tight. "When are you coming back?" Her voice sounded strange to her, so hoarse and strangled. He shrugged. No clue. They were silent for a while, before Cube jolted to life, as if he had just been hit with a lot of cold water.
As he went to stand up, Athena's small (but strong) flippers held him still. He put a paw to her eyes, closing them softly. "Maybe one day, you'll wake up... and this will all just be a dream."
Athena chuckled sadly. "You and I both know that's not even true." Her heart skipped a beat as she heard Cube laugh.
"Alright then… How about this… It's been fun. And if it's meant to be, I hope we meet up again." His final words. After a few minutes, she felt the gentle pressure release, but refused to open her eyes... not until she counted to a hundred... billion... The tears stung her eyes. He wasn't coming back, was he?
Athena had only reached seventy-two when her eyes flew open and she kicked her covers off. Cube was no longer in the incubation chamber... or the penguin's den. She rushed up the ladder, and looked around. No sign of them anywhere... Not even at their habitat, where their mom was sitting up. She didn't even notice Athena peaking in on her, Marlene just sat there... staring at the sleeping Peanut, who's arm was subconsciously reaching for siblings he didn't even know had gone.
The park in front of the zoo was empty... cold, dark, and barren, like Athena felt.
So that was it. They were gone.
And no one knew if they were ever coming back.
Seven thousand, two hundred and eighteen. Athena counted to seven thousand, two hundred and eighteen before falling asleep, and even when she did, she was abruptly woken up again by Marshal telling her to wake up, and shaking her. She hid further under the covers, not wanting to even think today. "What's wrong with her? Athena! Get up, come on, we need help finding Roz and Cube." Ah. The tortured subject has been touched upon at last. She fought the urge to cry again (She wouldn't cry... She would NOT cry again.) and wiped her eyes under the blankets.
"...gone." Was all that she said. Well, more like croaked. Marshal looked at Buttons, who shrugged, and they proceeded to pull away the blankets, which fell off with ease. Athena sat up, her eyes were red and very blotchy.
It took a second for the boys to get over their shock, but when they were, Marshal was finally able to ask; "Whoa. What's wrong with you, Athena? Wait... what do you mean, gone? What's gone?" Athena sniffled a bit, repeating her chant over and over again in her head. She will not cry... she will not cry...
Taking a deep breath, she tried again. "Cube... and Roz... They're gone." The boys blinked, and the chant fell through, new tears falling down her already tear-streaked face. Her loud sobs woke up everyone that wasn't awake already, (Just Private, Kowalski, and Elli) causing them to clamor around her bed, concerned. "Cube and Roz l-left... this morning! They... h-had to g-go to F-F-Florida, and... They're probably in Virginia by now, and... Dad, I don't t-think they're coming back!" She yelled, burying her face in her flippers. The impact of what she was saying finally hit. Roz and Cube were gone... Kowalski went to do emergency recon, telling Private to go find Skipper and let him know what happened. Elli and Marshal decided to let the rest of the zoo know what had happened, and Marshal gave Buttons a stern order to stay with Athena, and try to get her to calm down.
Buttons took the task with curious seriousness, and when Marshal looked back as he was leaving, he could see the penguin holding her carefully, mumbling something to her while she cried on him.
Peanut woke up a few minutes later, his mom watching him with beady eyes. "Hey mom. Wha... what's up?" He looked around, feeling something was missing from the get go. "Where are Cube and Roz? We have a massive game to play, and--"
"Peanut." Marlene interrupted him and patted her lap so that he would sit down. He got up and stood near her, but didn't accept the invitation to actually sit down. "Your brother and sister left... early this morning. They went to go find Renni, and... I don't know when they'll be back." She avoided saying the real word on her mind. If. Peanut watched her, not believing a word she was saying. This couldn't be, it wasn't possible. They wouldn't just leave without saying good-bye. It had to just be a mean trick, right?
He looked to his mother, trying to gain some clarity, but when none came he stepped back, clutching his head. Suddenly, he had a really bad headache. But when he turned around to go outside and get some air... and saw Skipper standing there, looking as if he needed to apologize for something...
The penguin's flippers reached out to him. "Peanut..." He started, but the boy didn't want to hear it. He growled, and pushed him out of the way, running... somewhere. Anywhere.
At the same time, Prince J.J couldn't figure out what all the hustle and bustle was about. Everyone looked so sad, and yet, here it was, an excellently beautiful day. The sun was shining, and everyone should be happy! "Maurisa!" He yelled, causing the girl to appear close to him, wiping an eye. She had just heard what happened, and was surprised at the prince's lack of feeling. Even King Julian was at least a little sad. Albeit, he had Maurice and Mort act sad FOR him, but still... he looked sad when he was told for a second. "What is up with all of the smiling upside-down? There should be more right side up smiling, as that is the right way to smile." He noticed she was crying and hopped down to examine her closer. "Maurisa... You too have the upside-down smiles?!" She sniffled. He obviously hadn't heard the news.
As she told him the story, his smile, too, turned to an upside-down smile, in his own words. When she was done, his paws were clutching at his chest, like he needed to grab something from there. "Apparently they're headed for Florida... J.J.? Are you okay? No one knew it was going to happen, so it--"
"--didn't say good-bye." Maurisa stopped talking to listen to him, but his voice sounded so small and so far away that she had to lean in to hear it. He sat down where he was, and she got down on all fours. "She didn't say good-bye to me." The girl lemur leaned back so that she was sitting on her knees. Is that all? Why did that have him all torn up? "I... I mean, I know she didn't LIKE me... I didn't know she HATED me... To not say good-bye..." Whoa. He was REALLY torn up about it, emphasized by the amount of thick tears in his eyes.
"Prince J.J, she didn't HATE you--"
"She didn't say good-bye to me before she left!" He yelled, letting himself cry a little. "What would you call that?!" Anything after that was hard to make out, and his father picked him up soon after, to try to comfort the boy and get him to stop crying.
The mood in the zoo was somber over the next few days... but as days turned into weeks, and weeks to months with no sign of the fun-loving brother and sister team... things slowly began to return to normal. Time changes all things, however, and sure enough, J.J returned to being the crazy dancer, Peanut got into more trouble (though, because he was angry or because he was a natural-born trouble-maker, no one knew), and Athena went back to being the brainy one. Everything went back to normal.
Much, much, much, MUCH later...
Marlene loved spring cleaning. It felt good to clean out the old dust... only to make room for the new dust. She chuckled at the thought and went to shake out the pillows when she saw something fall from behind one of them. The otter picked it up... and gasped at the sight of it.
"Hey mom. What's that?" Peanut, who was a bit older now, had just walked in from playing with Eggy and Marshal. She smiled and handed over the picture, so that she could sit down and bury her head in her arms. Her son watched her with a raised eyebrow before looking at an old photo and smiling. It was from a talent show, from what seemed like a once-upon-a-time. They were all so young... And there, right next to him, were his brother and sister... Cube and Roz. He was about to hand it back when he realized there was something written in pretty letters on the back.
One day soon, we will be a family again. Love, Rozalin and Cubert.
A/N: So, Cube and Roz have left behind everything they care about to search for their sister. And thus ends Geeze Doumani! I know, kinda a sad ending, but, well, watcha gonna do? I want to thank ALL of you for your input and kind words, and Ponytail30527, girl, you know how amazing you are, you don't need me to stroke your ego anymore :D. To everyone: Your reviews, everything made this story continue, even though I really wanted to quit at times. Just for you, I went ahead and put up a chapter that goes along with this in Moondance, called "Do You Remember". Go ahead and read it if you're all teary eyed, or even if you're not, that's cool too. It'll cheer you up. Don't forget to review, and I'll see you another time for another adventure!
Some of my lines have come from popular shows or books or something else I like.
Roz and Cube are about the same age, but she always refers to him as big brother, because he grew up quicker than she did. Peanut is younger than Roz is, though.
In "A Very Special Day", Roz wasn't as playful or happy as she was in this story.
Mort is the least mentioned character in this whole story. The most mentioned? Marshal.
It's my own opinion, but I honestly think that if Roz and Cube hadn't left, she and Marshal would have at least tried to go out. It probably wouldn't have worked out. :) As for Cube and Athena… Well, let's just say I'm a STRONG Buthena supporter ;)
During the writing of this whole story, Ponytail and I were RPing with the characters, and sometimes, it was hard to keep storylines straight!
I don't like Buck and Jack. At all. Or Fred. But I do LOVE to hate all three, so… In went Buck and Jack! Fred wouldn't have fit in.
Athena's song changed SO. MANY. TIMES. I couldn't think of just one for her, I love how she can sing and I wanted to just… run with it! Considered songs were Emotions by Mariah Carey, Jai Ho by The Pussycat Dolls, Paparazzi by Lady Gaga, Believe by Yolanda Adams, Disturbia by Rihanna and Heaven is a Place on Earth by Ultra Flirt. In the end, I went with Kids in America by LEN, because I think it fit better.
Roz and J.J. There's a pairing I LOVE! Will you see more of them? Well, that's more of a question for Ponytail, I think.
While everyone else has only one cute and cuddly li'l mini to worry about, Marlene has FOUR. Peanut, Roz, Cube and Renni. She ties with Mother Duck (Maddie), who has Lucky, Eggy, Lily and Nellie. Unless you count Maurice, who had to take care of Maurisa... and Julien... and when Julien forgot (most of the time), got to take care of J.J. And possibly also Mort.
This chapter was the first I wrote for this story.
Most animals don't have hair (they have fur), or blush (that I know of), or have arms (instead of flippers). So I'm EXTREMELY grateful that no one pointed that out and was particularly asinine about it. I said it, I know I did... but in a show that allows penguins to make T noises without teeth, I figured my minor misconceptions would be jim dandy.
I didn't own anything in this story, except for the plot, Roz, Renni, Cube, and Charlie. Everyone else either belongs to Ponytail (minis) or the creators of Penguins of Madagascar (Everyone else).