Title: "Skipper's Special Private"
Author: Pirate Turner
Rating: PG for mild language
Summary: Private's set to leave the flock!
Warnings: Slash
Word Count: 1,872
Date Written: 29 August, 2010
Disclaimer: Rico, Kowalski, Private, Skipper, and the Penguins of Madagascar are & TM Dreamworks and any other respective owners, none of which are the author, and are used without permission. Everything else is & TM the author. The author makes absolutely no profit off of this work of fan fiction, and no copyright infringement is intended.

Skipper had barely emerged from his afternoon swim when he was greeted by Rico and Kowalski running to him with pure looks of panic on their black and white faces. Skipper held his flippers out before him as he commanded, "Calm down, men! What's happening this time that you boys can't handle without me?"

Rico answered in a series of incomprehensible quacks that had Skipper looking to Kowalski for an explanation with a dark and furious expression upon his face. "What's the meaning of this?" he demanded as Rico continued to quack and wave his flippers in erratic movements through the air.

"It's Private, sir," Kowalski stated urgently, swallowing his own lump of nervousness that had risen into his throat at the look that had befallen Skipper's feathery face upon the news that Rico had just spoken. "He's leaving!"

"Surely you boys have misunderstood him. Private would never leave us! He's got to be going out to get a candy bar or something to surprise some one, probably even one of us! Don't you have a birthday coming up, man?"

Rico gave his head a violent shake, squawked louder, and quickened the pace of his lashing flippers. Why couldn't Skipper understand that Private was abandoning them and that something must be done to stop his error immediately, before it was too late and his little brother was gone forever? He vomited, and a coil of rope sprung out of his mouth. Even as he was busy extracting its entire length, Skipper started shaking his head and moving his flippers in a dismissing notion.

"I'm sure that won't be necessary, Rico. You can eat that rope right back up, because we will not be needing it for Private." He marched pass them, his feathers straight and stern. This was nonsense! Private wouldn't leave them!

Kowalski bravely grasped Skipper's feathered shoulders as he started to stalk pass him. Skipper gave him a pointedly demanding look, and Kowalski hung his head in shame. "It's my fault, Skipper." He ignored Rico's violent protests that Private's departure was not caused by him but rather the very penguin to whom Kowalski was set to apologize! "I told him. I should not have told him, but he asked me and I - I did not think - !"

"You told him what precisely, Kowalski?" Skipper demanded.

Kowalski raised teary eyes and gulped again at the anger he saw radiating in Skipper's beady, dark orbs. He knew that that fury was about to become a thousand fold its current strength and all of Skipper's mighty fury would be directed at him! His tail feathers shook behind him, betraying his fear, but he dared not clamp his flippers over them lest he bring Skipper's attention further to his quaking trembles.

When Kowalski failed to answer him, Skipper grabbed his shoulders and shook him. He demanded again, with one eyeball glaring straight into Kowalski's frightened, doelike eyes, "You told him what precisely? Spit it out, penguin!"

"I - I told him the - the definition of - of - "

"Of what?" Skipper demanded, a cold fear beginning to inch into his gut and heart, though he silently refused to admit its presence in his higher region.

"Of expendable!"

Cold fear snapped through Skipper, striking his very core and coiling around and squeezing his insides like an angry anaconda. "You didn't!" He glowered at Kowalski with such fury that both Kowalski and Rico shook through to their very talons.

"I - I did!" Kowalski squeaked his admission and hung his head.

Skipper swiftly slapped him twice with both flippers, then scuttled off, calling behind his shoulder, "I'll deal with you shortly, Kowalski! Your so-called genius will be the end of us all yet!"

Rico squawked in concern to Kowalski the moment Skipper was out of their sight and took his dearest friend into his flippers. He held him as Kowalski's face continued to burn, and they waited fearfully to see the outcome of Skipper's furious wrath and Private's misery.

Private was heading to the ladder, with his head hung and a suitcase dragging the floor behind him, when Skipper came down. He jumped the last few feet of the ladder and whirled around to face Private. "What's the meaning of this, Private?" he demanded, pointing a flipper at the suitcase the smaller penguin carried. "No penguin swims alone!"

"Why should you care?" Private retorted. "You - You said I was expendable! That means you don't care what happens to me, because I'm the one in the group who contributes the least and the one who won't be missed!"

"That isn't true!"

"It isn't?" Private demanded, fighting to keep his trembling from showing to Skipper. The older, more experienced penguin held his heart in his flippers, though he'd never dare tell him, and he alone held the power to either crush all his dreams for eternity or return to him the meaning he'd, evidently mistakenly, thought his life had possessed. The next few words out of his Skipper's mouth would either condemn him for eternity or save him from the utter and complete Hell he knew his life would be without his loved ones.

"Of course it isn't! You may be the one who contributes the least to the team in way of intelligence and weaponry, Skipper, but this crew wouldn't be half the team we are if we didn't have you!"

"It wouldn't?" Private asked, tears streaming down his feathered face.

"No, it wouldn't! We wouldn't!" Skipper paused as he considered the mess into which he'd just inadvertently gotten himself. Just what did Private do to help them all so much? He couldn't put his flipper on it, and yet he knew he'd be completely lost if not for Private. He shook himself as he felt himself beginning to drown in Private's big, dark eyes that were not quite as sad now as they had been a second ago.

"Really?" Private asked in a very small voice. Dare he hope that Skipper meant what he said and was not simply trying to help him feel better?

"Yes, really!" There was the strength of truth behind Skipper's words for he knew what he said was true, but yet he hoped that Private did not ask him the reasons why. He didn't dare to tell him that he was the penguin to whose image of open arms, hopeful eyes, and silently offered but constantly ready love he clung to when he found himself in the worst of situations. The team needed Rico for his eternally exhaustive supply of weapons and other gadgets and Kowalski for his genius intelligence, even if it did, at times, seem to cause them more problems than it solved, but he himself needed Private.

The thought of a world without his sweet, little Private in it, waiting to reassure, support, or love him, or any combination of the three that he should give him a chance to fulfill, at the mere drop of his flipper, chilled him to the deepest, furthest recesses of his heart and soul, areas of his hard core that no one was supposed to touch and only Private had managed to wriggle his way into through the years they had been together, was the most horrible thought his brain had ever conceived. Indeed there had been countless horrible images that had flittered through his mind and he'd had to deal with over the years, but none as terrible or tragic as a world without his beloved best friend shining his merry light through the darkness of his soul. Such a world, Skipper silently realized, would be worth neither fighting to protect nor surviving.

Private had dropped his suitcase. His flippers were now folded demurely behind the curve of his sleek back. He looked to the floor beneath their feet where he drew an invisible circle on the concrete. Only he knew that, it was, in truth the mending arc of a broken heart. "So . . . " he spoke up meekly, " . . . I'm not . . . expendable, . . . after all?"

"No, of course not! I'm really sorry I ever said such a crockpotted thing, Private! It was inane of me! I don't know what I was thinking! You're not expendable! You'll never be expendable to me!"

"Aw, Skipper, that's the sweetest thing you ever said to me!" Sniffing tears, Private rushed across the small distance that still separated them and threw his flippers around Skipper. He hugged him so tightly, tears leaking from his eyes, that Skipper could barely breathe within his grasp.

Hesitantly, slowly, almost as though he was afraid his whole world and, in truth, his whole persona would crumple apart into shreds if he dared to be so gentle, Skipper put his arms around Private and hugged him back. He gasped when Private squeezed him even tighter, and then his whole world spun when Private's beak gently touched his feathered cheek.

"Oh, Skipper," Private cried, "I'm so happy I'm not expendable to you!"

Skipper dared to hug him a little harder and choked back his own tears that welled within his heart and throat. "I'm sorry, Private. I was wrong to say that you were, because you'll never be expendable. You keep this team going."

Private didn't ask how he kept the team going when he contributed so little in the way of truly valuable assets. Instead he understood Skipper's unspoken words, that he would never be expendable to him for he kept him going, and locked them away inside his heart to keep and cling to forever more.

A sharp cough made Skipper look up at the hole to the outside world. Kowalski and Rico peered down at them. "We take it that Private is staying?"

"Oh, yes!" Private exclaimed, still hugging Skipper. "I'm never going anywhere!" He beamed up at his beloved hero, his tail feathers shaking jubilantly.

Skipper smiled back down at the handsome, innocent face of the penguin he cherished more than he'd ever cherished anything or one else, more, indeed, than he'd ever thought he would care, let alone love, anybody. "Good," he whispered, "because I'm never letting you abandon this team, Private." To himself, he thought, with heated tingles still coursing through his being from the spot on his cheek where Private had kissed him, {And I'm never washing that cheek either!} He patted his back and hugged him once more before forcing himself to gently extract his being from his hold for the sake of his image.

One day, he promised himself silently, one day, a long, long time from now, he would retire, and when he did, if Private still wanted him, he would let himself speak the truth of how he felt for him and openly hold, care for, cherish, and love the penguin with whom he longed to do so now. The shining light of love filling Private's eyes as he gazed up at him silently assured Skipper that Private would always want and love him and would wait forever for him to acknowledge him in that special, eternal way if that was what it took. Their hearts were tied together forever, and both penguins knew it even if they didn't dare to speak a word of it where any other being could hear.

The End

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this story, or any of my other writings, I hope you'll consider joining my brand new fan fic land comm - /FanFicLand - where four teams compete with weekly drabble challenges and monthly longer fic challenges to see who can reach 5,000 points first!