Tightropes and Fences
A/N: At long last, the Melman/Gloria fic I promised Funkywatermelon over a month ago! Enjoy!
Madagascar belongs to DreamWorks SKG. Last time I checked, I didn't own any talking zoo/wild/circus animals.
"Hey, Melman! Look at me!"
The young giraffe craned his growing neck around to the hippopotamus' enclosure, hazel eyes glancing around the empty habitat. "G-Gloria?" he stammered.
"Over here!" the hippo called, and Melman looked over to their newest neighbor's pen.
On the high pedestal in the center of the enclosure were Alex, the lion cub who had barely spoken a word to anyone in the week since he'd arrived, and Gloria, both grinning. "Lookit this!" the young hippo shouted, before launching into a series of dance moves that had Melman's jaw dropping.
"Wha…how..?" the giraffe stumbled.
Gloria finished her dance routine with an elaborate twirl, giggling. "Alex taught me," she said, enveloping the cub in a tight hug that had him gasping for breath.
"Well, that was certainly crack-a-lackin'!" Marty opined in that odd twang of his. "You've got moves, Glo'! Nice job teachin' her, Alex."
Alex smiled embarrassedly, rubbing his head as he plopped himself down onto his pedestal, Gloria having finally released him. The young hippo then set her sights on Melman.
"Hey, why don't you come over here, Melman?" she invited, beaming kindly, "I'm sure Alex could teach you too."
Melman's green eyed gaze switched from Gloria, her form silhouetted by the zoo's dim, "closing-time" lights, and down to his hoofs, supported by gangly, sticklike legs. Clumsy and inadequate when compared to Gloria's smooth movements. But then his eyes flickered still to the low wall between them, which did nothing to even keep them in. He could climb over that barrier. Could be with her. It was nothing, even for a hypochondriac like himself. He still managed a forced smile, heading back into the slim brick building he called home.
"Oh...uh, n-no thanks, Gloria. I…I'll pass."
And thus the barriers in his mind remained.
Returning blearily to consciousness, Melman instantly knew something was wrong.
This wasn't his plush, straw padded bed back in neither the circus car...nor the soft patch of grass back in Africa. The ground was much too hard for dirt or wood… and there was noise. Loud, raucous, blistering tumult of voices, it sounded like, cheering, banging, voices. Flashes went off behind his closed eyelids, ones that seemed familiar…
Abruptly, Melman's eyes snapped open and he rose to his full height, horrified by what he found.
He was back at the zoo, just like they'd always wanted; just as they'd wanted since landing unjustly in Madagascar. But it was nothing like they'd imagined.
The crowds were there as they'd always been, but not for him. They held the usual Alex the Lion merchandise, foam fingers and balloons bobbing up along the throng. Cameras flashed blindingly, the people cheered obliviously…and…. And they were trapped. Enclosed.
Chain link fences surrounded each enclosure, looming ponderously over the four of them…taller even than Melman. Everything was muted as the giraffe examined his predicament, in complete shock. They were trapped.
The giraffe's head snapped to attention at the voice, and to his mixed relief and horror found Gloria safe, but on the opposite side of the fence. He quickly ran over to her side, and saw the panic clearly in her eyes.
"Do you know what's going on?" he questioned, glancing around at the stadium spotlights trained on them all. Gloria shook her head, pressing a hand against the fence.
"No, but DuBois must've darted us. Alex hasn't woken up yet." Gloria met her love's gaze with her own worried one. "Melman, how are we gonna get out of this?"
Melman stumbled over his words, feeling like a gawky youngling all over again. "I…I don't know," he finally admitted, allowing his forehead to fall against the fence. Gloria mimicked him, so that their brows touched.
"The wall between our habitats just seems that much taller, huh?" she chuckled with a soft smirk.
The giraffe sighed. "At least I was able to dance with you before this…" Melman's hoof knocked lightly against the fence, doing nothing other than making it tremble. They were trapped—each of them apart from each other, but most importantly, he was divided from her. Never again would they dance together, be free together…
And thus, his barriers became more than a mentality.
"We've known each other for a long time, right, Gloria?"
The hippo glanced up at her partner, though neither missed a step in their dance routine. The Atlantic Ocean gleamed in the distance, and the humidity failed to really affect the pair high up on the tightrope. Melman's head was bowed, as it naturally was for him to communicate easier with his companions, his eyes glued to the ground several feet below.
Gloria smiled. "Yeah, Melman. We have." The giraffe released her with a flourish, and she went into a spin before he pulled her back. "Why, honey?"
"Oh….no reason," Melman blanched, though his dance moves were not hindered by his nervousness.
Gloria rolled her eyes. "You wouldn't bring it up if it were for 'no reason', Melman. Is something wrong?"
"Hm?" Melman blinked, sill avoiding her gaze. "No-no, why would y-you think that, honey?"
"Because you're stuttering," Gloria smiled.
The hippo giggled. "Melman, what's this really about? You bring me up here to practice our routine, when our next performance isn't until we get to Orlando in two weeks." She noticed that the giraffe still failed to catch her eye. "What is it, baby?"
Melman swallowed, spinning around in perfect cadence and taking Gloria with him, as they had practiced for weeks so that it became almost natural. "Well…Gloria…I…I wanted to ask…."
"Yes?" Gloria pressed, her calm demeanor masking an impatiently burning anticipation.
Her partner swallowed again, the pair still dancing. "What I mean is…well…Gloria, you know that I l-love you, right?"
Gloria smiled. "Of course, hun."
Melman took a deep breath, and she could see the resolution in his eyes forming. "Well….then….I wanted to know…will you….will you mar—"
"Yes," the hippo interrupted, much to Melman's obvious relief, beaming wildly. "Yes, Melman."
The giraffe blinked suddenly. "Yes. You said yes." Before Gloria could agree to this, Melman had released a joyous whoop to the heavens, spinning her around in gleeful abandon.
And thus, all barriers fell.