So, a better description of this fic than I can fit in the summary: this fic is going to deal with gender issues in a decidedly more serious way than the episode "Miss Understanding", this time on the part of Julien. If this subject matter makes you uncomfortable, please click Back. If you still send me flames, they will be ignored and you will have no right to say I didn't tell you what was coming. I am not transgendered myself and, while I've researched it to the extent that I feel confident writing this, I'm not an expert, so if you see that I'm screwing anything up, tell me. Julien's personality is not going to change for the purposes of this fic - he's still going to act like a spoilt, ditzy jerk. This is not intended to make fun of the transgendered, merely to keep Julien acting like Julien. One's gender identity and whether or not it matches one's biological sex does not change whether or not one is a pleasant person. While I don't think any of the characters involved would cross the line into intentional abuse, other characters will misunderstand, say and do thoughtless things, make hurtful assumptions, etc; keep in mind the characters' views are not mine. Also, try to be more understanding than they will be towards transfolks in real life, okay? More detailed explanations will be revealed through the story. For further information on transgender/genderqueer/etc issues, go to Google. Stupid questions sent to me will be ignored.
The inhabitants of the zoo were woken, as usual, by noise from the lemur enclosure. For once, however, it was not music but screams of terror.
"Come on, you stupid wannabe monkey, it's just a checkup!" Alice readjusted her grip and yanked at Julien, trying to detach his grip from the enclosure wall. While she didn't speak lemur and thus couldn't understand his actual words, the screeching and clawing got the message across. "Just ... a ... routine ... checkup! Don't make me get the tranquilisers!"
"Maurice, help me! I do not want to be doing this thing!"
Maurice sighed and shook his head. "Sorry, your majesty, but I really think you have to get your checkup."
"I don't want to!"
Maurice took hold of Julien's paws and, in the process, "accidentally" prised the ringtail's grip free from the wall, allowing Alice to shove him into a carry cage.
"TRAITOR!" Julien scrabbled at the cage and swore loudly. "Penguins! Help your king! HEEEEELP MEEEEEE!"
Private, hearing the shrieks outside, leaned out of his bunk and looked up at the hatch. "Should we help him?"
Skipper slid up the ladder and knocked the hatch out of the way. "Why? We all have to take the checkups, it won't kill him."
"Yeah!" Rico popped up beside Skipper, watching Alice retreat towards the Animal Care buillding.
"Should we at least go and check up on him?"
"Negatory, Private. He doesn't need help and he definitely doesn't need encouraging."
"Oh, come on, Skipper! It's not fair to leave him alone in the hospital."
"Oh, you're making that face again! That's your 'cute and cuddly' face! Do not make that face at me, soldier! ..."
Private continued to make the face. "Please?"
Skipper sighed. "Fine."
Carefully, the group approached the Animal Care building. Julien's screams and swearing continued to float from the window.
"OW! Put me down – stoppit NONONONO NOT THE FEET! Ahh ... No! Tail even worse! Ow ow OW!"
Private shuddered and clasped his flippers. "Ooh, that doesn't sound nice at all."
"Pfft. He'll be fine." Skipper waved dismissively. "Not like he's getting a shot. Urrrrrgh." He winced, remembering his own experiences with the zoo vet.
There was a loud shriek from Julien. "AAH! COLD!"
"Ah, sounds like the thermometer," said Kowalski, sounding like he was enjoying Julien's suffering far too much. Rico cackled.
"Ooh. Hang in there, Julien, it's nearly over!" Private yelled up to the window.
The screaming tailed off into whimpering, and eventually stopped. There was a rattling noise and a click, and the veterinarian's voice said "Back in the cage you go. There, that wasn't so bad, was it?"
"Y-y-yesss. Yes, it really was," hissed Julien. The vet, not understanding, ignored him. The sound of running water indicated the vet was washing his hands, and a rattling suggested Alice was picking the cage up.
"Everything okay here, doc?"
"Yes indeed, we have a fine healthy lemur here. And you're a beauty, too, aren't you, girl? Yes you are, I bet your little friends love you!"
The penguins looked at each other and blinked.
"Uh, that vet needs to pick a better time," Skipper muttered. "And I don't think much of his taste. Or his pickup lines."
Kowalski tried to peer in the window. "Somehow I don't think he's talking to Alice. Must be someone else in there."
Rico grunted "Who?"
"Good question, Rico – who? Marlene had her checkup yesterday, and the badgers are both still in their habitat." Private gestured towards the badger enclosure, where Becky and Stacey were charging frantically around and giggling as usual.
The door opened and Alice left the building, holding Julien's carrying cage in one hand. The penguins hid behind a trashcan, and as usual Alice failed to notice them. Julien was curled up, shaking violently, and glaring in the direction of the vet's building. The penguins put it down to post-checkup shock and thought nothing of it. Alice opened the cage and deposited Julien back in his habitat, where he scurried back to his throne, scooping up his dropped crown on the way, and curled up again in the throne, still shaking.
Maurice and Mort emerged from hiding and slunk up to the throne.
"Uh, your majesty?"
"I am not talking to you. Stupid traitor making me do stupid checkup."
"Look, I know it sucks, but we all have to do it."
"Yes, yes, I do not care. Still stupid checkup." Julien sighed. "Stupid checkup with the poking and the touching and the grabbing everything and knowing ..." He shuddered violently, then looked down and snapped "Do not even be thinking about it, Mort! I am not in the mood!"
Mort, who had been reaching one paw towards Julien's feet, withdrew it rapidly and looked innocent.
"Hey, ringtail!" The lemurs looked around to see the penguin squad jumping up on the wall. Skipper waved. "Problems?"
"Yes. Stupid penguins not helping me when I needed help and stupid traitors and stupid humans making me do stupid checkups!" Julien angrily shook a fist at Skipper, who remained unmoved. Mort took the opportunity to grab Julien's feet again, and was promptly kicked off.
"Yeah, we're all very sympathetic. Did he find anything? Anything which would require quarantine?"
"Hey, stop sounding so hopeful!"
"Sorry, Julien, but look on the bright side, it's over now!" Private said cheerily. "Oh, was the lady in there with you alright?"
"Well, we heard the doctor talking to a girl, and we don't think it was Alice."
"Girl? ... Oh. Oh! Uh. Hehe. I ... didn't see." Julien twined his tailfur in his fingers and chuckled nervously. "Go check, she might still be there. "
Skipper glanced sceptically back at Animal Care. "Hm. Well, no lasting harm done to you, so we'll see you around, ringtail. C'mon, men."
As they headed back to the surgery, Skipper hissed quietly to the others "Something's smelling fishy here."
"Can't be us, we haven't had breakfast yet," said Private, sniffing at himself.
"Feeesh!" Rico cheered and clapped.
"Not now, Rico. No, I mean about our prosimian friends' behaviour. Did you see? He told Mort not to touch his feet and Mort actually listened. Okay, not for long, but still." Skipper waved vaguely.
"Good point," mused Kowalski, tapping his chin in thought. "If he's upset enough to really scare Mort away it must have been serious."
"More serious than the thermometer?" Private winced. "I hate it when they use the thermometer."
"Sssh!" Kowalski jumped onto the windowsill and peered inside. "Coast's clear. C'mon ..."
The other three jumped up beside him and looked into the surgery. It was empty of both animals and humans. There wasn't even another carrying cage lying around.
"Huh?" Rico glanced around as if expecting the mystery female to appear out of nowhere.
"Must be in the next room," Private commented. "Permission to look around, Skipper?"
Permission was granted, but careful snooping revealed nobody else up for treatment. The vet was busy at the computer, and all the temporary holding enclosures were empty. Skipper scratched his chin.
"Something not right is going on here ... yes, Rico, what is it?" Rico gestured wildly back in the direction of the lemur habitat and babbled. Skipper listened closely and interpreted. "... Yeess. Good idea. Let's go ask him ..."
Julien had got over his discomfort and was lounging on the rebuilt "Super Comfy Pamper-Time Floaty Throne", filing his toenails. Mort was watching in fascination and being ignored, as usual.
"Ow!" Julien yelped; he'd jumped and stabbed himself between the toes with the file as Skipper reappeared over the wall. "What, what is it you are wanting, annoying penguin?"
"Well, it's the darndest thing, but we went to the Animal Care building, and there's nobody else in there," Skipper said with a disarming grin. "We haven't seen anyone else come out today, either. So we can only conclude that either our vet's developed imaginary friends, or he was talking to you."
"Huh? Well, yes, he talks to everyone who goes in for-"
"He called you 'girl', ringtail."
Julien's expression froze. "Oh. That." He chuckled and broke into an uneasy grin. "Uh, well ... you know how humans are, they can't tell the difference with other species. Very stupid species, they are."
"Well, I guess you're right there," Skipper said, wincing as he remembered the chaos that had ensued when Alice had assumed she knew better than the penguins what their genders were. "Sorry you had to put up with that. I'll leave you to whatever it is you're doing."
"Okay, bye bye now!" Julien waved, still grinning. Skipper mentally filed this away as suspicious behaviour as he jumped back down to the path.
"Definitely something fishy, boys," he said in an undertone. "If the vet really did just make a mistake, why's ringtail letting it get to him? Well, normally he'd let it get to him, but normally he'd be complaining to anyone in earshot. This time he doesn't seem to want to talk about it."
"Julien doesn't want to talk about something? But he talks about everything!" Private pointed out. "Constantly!"
"And I'm suspicious about the claim that the vet doesn't know," Kowalski added. "Unless lemurs and humans are drastically different in that anatomical region – which I admit is possible, I'm not an expert in that field – surely a veterinary surgeon would know the difference? They're both mammals, how different can they be?"
"Yeah!" Rico said, nodding vigorously.
Skipper's eyes narrowed. "I think we might do well to keep an eye on our royal friend ..."