A/N: For Teobi and JWood201, as are all my Giligan fanfictions. If it hadn't been for you two I would've lived my life forever without ever knowing of those seven castaways (well, eight including Teddy, of course). Thank you!
Disclaimer: Gilligan's Island belongs to Sherwood Schwartz (RIP). I'm simply borrowing them for a little while. I'll put them back. Mostly safely. Except I think Proffy's hair might be a little ruffled by the end of this. His socks, however, will remain perfectly in tact...
For the Love of Zingiber
or: The Scientific Love Letter
"Zingiber?" Mary Ann read aloud. "Where did you find this, Gilligan?" she asked, handing him back the folded, crumpled piece of paper.
"I think it's the Professor's," he answered, frowning as he tucked it back into his pocket. "He had a bunch of papers on his desk and moved them all and this fell out from them. By the time I'd picked it up and read it, then looked up to give it back to him, he'd gone!" he explained. "I'll give it back to him at dinner."
"What's a Zingiber?" she asked. He looked at her and blinked.
"You're asking me? That's not fair, Mary Ann!" he protested. "Although I think Skinny Mulligan got sick after eating too many Zingibers one time," he trailed off, then shook his head. "No. They were corn dogs."
Mary Ann reached out her hand and dug into Gilligan's pocket to take the paper out again. "Mary Ann!" he squeaked, not sure how he felt about Mary Ann having such direct access to his pockets. A man's pockets were private! Besides, he'd been saving half a packet of gumballs and he didn't want anyone else to steal them!
"Oh, don't be silly, Gilligan, I just want to read it again," she told him, carelessly. "Zingiber... I don't know if this is even in English," she sighed.
"Maybe we should ask the Professor," Gilligan suggested. "After all, if anyone knows what a Zingiber is, it'll be him!" Mary Ann nodded and read the paper again.
"My experience of the following symptoms leads me to a preliminary diagnosis of a severe Zingiber deficiency," she began. Her and Gilligan looked at each other, baffled. He took the paper from her and started to read it, then paused, turned the paper the right way up and began again.
"Gosh, you think the Professor's sick?" he asked, worried. Mary Ann shrugged, looking up at Gilligan with a concerned expression on her face. He looked back at the paper and started to read aloud. "I suffer mild palpitations on prolonged exposure to the subject, ex...ex-ex-rozz..." he stumbled. He frowned and handed the paper back to Mary Ann, who silently read the rest of the paragraph.
'...xerostomia during any physical contact, to say nothing of the effect to my vertiginous knees at the sight of some of your clothing choices. My brain is flooded by serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin whenever I think of you or look into your viridian irises. I am headed for a state of mental collapse, my one and only logical thought being of your exquisite features.'
Mary Ann's eyes widened.
"Gilligan, this looks like a love letter!" she told him. Gilligan screwed up his face in disgust.
"A love letter? Mary Ann, that's just silly! Who does the Professor know that speaks fluent Swahili?" he asked, pointing to the paper.
"More to the point, who would the Professor write a love letter to on the island?" she returned.
"Mary Ann, it isn't you, is it?" he demanded, so sharply that Mary Ann felt quite giddy.
"I don't think so. Why? What if it was, what would you do about it?" she asked, intrigued. He shrugged.
"Nothin'," he mumbled. He looked up at her, his eyes flashing with jealousy. "He just should know better than to send love letters to you, Mary Ann. He probably wouldn't even mention anything about the way you shrug your shoulders and bite your lip when you smile about something exciting," he told her, nodding his head firmly. She grinned at him in delight.
"That's probably the nicest thing you've ever said to me, Gilligan," she told him, shrugging her shoulders and biting her lip as she smiled at him. He pointed at her.
"Exactly like that!" he declared. He turned around and saw the Professor return to his hut. "Hey, there's the Professor, let's go talk to him about it!" he decided. Mary Ann snatched the paper from him and shook her head.
"I'd best go and do this, Gilligan. If it's a love letter, you don't want to talk about that sort of thing to the Professor, do you?" she pointed out. He shook his head vigorously.
"No, sir, nuh-uh!" he replied, still shaking his head. "I don't want to talk to the Professor about love - he isn't even my type!" he told her. Both of them paused for a moment, her brown eyes gazing into his blue-green eyes, both knowing exactly who Gilligan's type was but neither of them quite being prepared to mention it to each other yet. "Who do you think it is, Mary Ann?" he asked. Mary Ann sighed.
"Well, it's either going to be me, Mrs Howell, or Ginger," she replied.
"Unless he's going to send his letter in a bottle to Elizabeth Taylor," Gilligan argued. He paused and shook his head. "She'd never understand any of that without the Professor to translate!" he reasoned. Suddenly his eyes widened. "Gosh! You think the Professor has a crush on Ginger?" he asked. Mary Ann beamed and nodded at him.
Gilligan suddenly felt a great sense of relief that the Professor didn't have a crush on Mary Ann, followed by a momentary flash of indignation that the Professor didn't have a crush on Mary Ann. What was wrong with Mary Ann, anyway? She was pretty, for a girl, and she had nice eyes, for a girl, and she wore nice clothes... for a girl... To say nothing of her legendary pie!
"Say, Gilligan - do you want to go butterfly hunting?" she asked, suddenly.
Gilligan would never in a hundred years say so, but if Mary Ann asked him to walk barefoot over hot coals just to get her a glass of water, he'd do it. Asking him to do something as interesting as butterfly hunting was like asking him if he wanted a slice of pie. There was only one answer to that question.
"Always!" he grinned at her. They ran off to get their nets and quickly forgot all about the letter.
Later that evening, everyone was chatting excitedly around the table, exchanging news and telling each other about their day.
"And then after we found Professor's love letter to Ginger, Mary Ann and I decided to go butterfly hunting!" Gilligan told the Skipper in a loud voice just as everyone else's conversations were ending. The table fell deathly silent and eight eyes suddenly fixed firmly on the Professor. Mary Ann glared at Gilligan and Gilligan stared back at Mary Ann guiltily. He hadn't meant to say it; the words just fell out of his mouth. Besides, he thought he was just talking to Skipper. He told Skipper everything. How was he to know that everyone would go quiet just as he mentioned the Professor's letter?
The Professor stared back at everyone, dumbfounded. He always kept the drafts of his love letters to Ginger safe with all of his other papers. He didn't understand how Gilligan could have found one of them. Finally he swallowed hard and spoke up.
"Gilligan, what did the letter say?" he asked.
"Yes, Gilligan, I'd like to know what the letter said too," Ginger added, glancing meaningfully at the Professor. Gilligan shrugged.
"I dunno, Mary Ann was the one who guessed it was a love letter, I didn't even know it was in English!" he replied. He stood up from the table and thrust his hand into his pocket. "It just fell out from a bunch of papers you'd moved from your table, and then I picked it up and tried to read it, but when I turned round to give it back to you, you'd gone! Here," he added, taking out the paper and handing it to the Professor. "Gee, Professor, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..." he trailed off.
"Thank you, Gilligan," the Professor replied with a slight smile as he unfolded the paper. "Oh, this!" he laughed. "This is just a few notes I was making," he told them. "Scientific mumbo-jumbo, I really don't remember what it was about," he added, chuckling. "A love letter! Now I've really heard everything, Gilligan!" he finished, laughing loudly. Gilligan frowned.
"What scientific thing has 'exquisite features'?" he asked. The Professor's face fell at the same moment that Ginger's face lit up like Vegas.
"Flowers," he replied, quickly.
"Professor?" Mary Ann began.
"Yes, Mary Ann?" he replied.
"What's a Zingiber?" she asked. His shoulders fell.
"It's a botanical term for a particular plant. Now, if you don't mind, I think I've got some coconuts to shell," he excused himself, leaving the letter on the table in his haste to get back to his hut where he shut the door tightly behind him and half-hoped that the resulting vibrations of the door shutting would instigate a geographical phenomenon resulting in his demise by compressive asphyxia. In other words - he wished the ground would open up and swallow him whole.
He couldn't believe he'd been so careless as to drop the letter. It wasn't as though anyone would be able to understand it. Using scientific terminology was close enough to writing in a different language altogether, after all. He just hoped Ginger didn't hate him. After all, he'd only said nice things. If ever she understood exactly what he meant! Why couldn't he just say that he loved her, that his knees went weak when she wore her leopard-print bikini, that his throat went dry whenever she touched him, or that his heart skipped a beat whenever he looked into her sparkling green eyes? Anyone could understand that! Why did he need to declare undying love that would only make sense if he bought her an expository of medical terms to accompany his declarations?
There was a gentle tap at the door.
"I'm busy!" he called back, even though he wasn't.
"Professor, it's me, please let me in," Ginger called. He sighed heavily and trudged toward the door.
"Ginger," he began, wearily. "I'm so sorry about earlier."
"Oh, Professor, please don't apologise," she insisted. "I'd like to ask you about this... what did you call it?" she asked.
"Notes. Just... just some scientific notes. About scientific things," he added. She nodded.
"Now, let me see, what did you write here - 'My brain is flooded by serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin whenever I think of you or look at you'," she read. The Professor visibly cringed. "I once played a nurse in a film called Operation Lovestruck," she told him. "I remember these words. Aren't they supposed to be the chemicals in a person's brain that makes them fall in love?" she asked.
The Professor didn't know what to say for the best. On the one hand, he was very close to having his secret love of Ginger be completely rumbled. On the other hand... she knew what serotonin was! She could not possibly be any more perfect to him if she tried! He finally nodded, dumbly, smiling inanely for reasons he still wasn't particularly aware of.
"Professor?" she asked, squeezing his arm gently.
"What?" he replied, his voice cracking as his throat dried up.
"What's a Zingiber?"
"It's the botanical term for ginger," he replied. Ginger didn't know what to do with herself, she was far too excited to think straight.
"You have a Ginger deficiency?" she asked, delighted. His face turned a curious shade of purple and he nodded again, looking firmly at the floor. Suddenly, Ginger realised that she knew exactly what to do. "Well, I'm sure I can help you with that," she began with an impish grin as she grabbed the Professor by his shoulders and pressed him against the wall. "Tell me what this does for your serotonin levels, Professor," she whispered as she kissed him.
"Some people underestimate the power of science, Ginger," he finally replied, after remembering how to speak. "I like to think that I'm not one of them..."
She grinned back at him and decided to increase his serotonin levels a little further before she returned to her hut.