A/N: Sorry this update took so long. RL gets in the way sometimes.
Having slipped away from the camp unnoticed, Ginger wandered down one of the lesser used paths, still in a state of shock over the news. It's all your fault, her inner demon whispered, taunting her relentlessly. Wracked with guilt, new tears flowed down her checks, adding to the tracks already present.
In the dog eat dog world of Hollywood, Ginger quickly learned that vanity and selfishness was simply a way of life. In fact, it was a matter of survival, and Ginger was very good at it. She had learned early on in her career to push down any feelings of guilt or remorse about things she did to stay on top. But the feelings where still there, nevertheless, and now, they were surfacing with a vengeance.
Soon after being shipwrecked, Ginger had tamped down most of her "survival behavior" but ten years in the movie business had left its mark. She tended to be self centered and often thought nothing of using her woman's wiles to get her way with the men. Inside, however, she wrestled with her conscious, especially when it came to her behavior towards Gilligan.
Ginger knew the hapless young man was abnormally shy when it came to matters of the heart, yet she teased him relentlessly because of it. At times, her playfulness was nothing more than good natured banter. Other times, judging by Gilligan's expression, it bordered on torture. Add to that, anytime Gilligan was blamed for a mishap, she didn't hesitate to jump on the bandwagon.
The juxtaposition of all this constrained guilt was taking its toll and Ginger descended into irrepressible weeping, her body wracked by the intensity of her sobs. Unable to see where she was walking, Ginger wandered of the path and soon became entangled in the underbrush. She tripped and collapsed into a quivering mess, so overcome with remorse, she didn't realize she had landed in quicksand.
Mary Ann was still in awe at the conviction Gilligan had shown earlier, in fact, she was sure she would stumble if not for his supportive arm around her waist. Yet, the pride she felt for Gilligan and his newfound assertiveness, was tempered by the knowledge that her island family was coming apart at the seams. By the pensive look on his face, she was sure Gilligan was thinking the same thing. When they arrived at the lagoon, he took her hand, steadying her as she sat down on the log.
Gilligan did not join her right away; he remained standing, hands behind his back as he scanned the surface of the water, as if he were on the deck of a ship. Mary Ann knew he was lost in thought. She patiently waited for him to break the silence.
"Mary Ann, are we doing the right thing?" he said at last.
His question stirred up conflicted feelings. She knew they were standing at a moment of transition in their relationship. Was Gilligan wavering now that he had time to process everything, or was his concern for the others really holding him back. Mary Ann chose her next words carefully.
"Gilligan, it bothers me too that everything is falling apart. But we have to do what is right for us," she said.
Gilligan sat down next to her and took her into his arms. "I know," he offered. "But is this what's right for us."
"Things seemed so much clearer this morning," admitted Mary Ann. "I guess I didn't expect things to end up this way. But except for Mrs. Howell, they still haven't apologized," she added, as a feeble attempt at protest. Subconsciously she already knew how this would play out. She and Gilligan were going to stay with the others.
"You know what I sometimes wish for," he began. "I wish you and I were alone together on the island. We could do what we wanted and whatever we did would only affect us."
Mary Ann clung to him tighter. Unbeknownst to him, Gilligan had put words to her deepest fantasy. She relished at the thought of the two of them frolicking playfully on the island alone, making love whenever they wanted without the fear of being discovered or admonished by the others. But she would soon come to the realization that a fantasy is all it would ever be.
"Me too," she added, nuzzling his neck, still lost in her daydream.
The Professor exited the girls hut after finding it empty. He knew Ginger had taken the news, about the two youngest members of the group leaving, especially hard. He assumed Ginger was okay and just needed time alone, but he found it impossible to shake the foreboding feeling that something was dreadfully wrong.
As he passed by the Howell's hut, he heard sobbing coming from inside. For a moment his spirits were raised thinking she might be with the Howells. He went to knock, but stopped short when he realized it was Mrs. Howell who was crying. Her husband's voice, for once soothing and compassionate, could be heard as the millionaire comforted his wife.
Leaving them to their privacy, Hinkley approached the table where the Skipper still sat, apparently lost in thought.
"Skipper, have you seen…"
Roy Hinkley stopped when the Captain looked up at him. In the four years he had known him, he had never seen the big man shed a tear, but when Jonas Grumby looked up, Roy saw huge drops of moisture running down his face.
"I'm sorry, Skipper. I was looking for Ginger."
"She went to her hut," he replied, drying his eyes and apparently forcing down his emotions.
"She isn't there," said the Professor. "She was quite upset, Skipper. I'm going to go look for her. Sorry to bother you."
The Professor turned to leave when the Skipper said, "Wait a minute. I'm coming with you."
"Skipper, it's obvious that you're upset. I can…"
"Sorry Professor," replied the big man. He was in full command mode now. "My responsibility," he added.
Struggling to keep her head above the quicksand, Ginger had gotten herself hopelessly trapped in the mire. She finally managed to take hold of a dangling vine finding that if she kept still, she didn't seem to sink any further. She knew she was too far from the camp for anyone to hear her, but she began screaming for help.
After a while she gave up, as the knowledge of what was happening with their little group overwhelmed her. He screams for help were replaced by sobs of grief. Maybe this is what I deserve.
Gilligan was still engaged in deep conversation with Mary Ann when the Skipper and Professor interrupted their discussion.
"Sorry to interrupt," asked the Professor. "Have either of you seen Ginger?"
"No Professor," answered Gilligan. "She's not in her hut?"
"If she were in her hut would we…" The Skipper stopped himself from yelling and Gilligan braced himself for a cap swipe. But it never came. Instead, Gilligan saw a look of great pain pass across his friend's face.
"I'm sorry, Gilligan. I didn't mean that." The big man turned to the Professor. "Let's try the beach, maybe she went down there."
As Gilligan watched his friend and mentor walk away, he considered what to do next. Even though the prospect still scared him, he really wanted to run away with Mary Ann and build a life together. He had thought it all out and he was sure they would be able to take care of each other. Gilligan was well able to provide food, shelter, and firewood, and Mary Ann knew how to prepare meals, mend clothing, and take care of laundry. They both had basic first aid skills, and both of them knew how to start a fire. And most important, they were willing to work as a team, learning from the other. In many ways Mary Ann and Gilligan were ideally suited as an island couple. They would have no trouble surviving on their own.
The same couldn't be said for the others. While the Skipper and Professor both had the skills necessary for survival, they also had the responsibility of taking care of three people who would not survive without considerable help. The Howells had never done any type of physical work in their lives, not to mention the fact they weren't exactly spring chickens anymore. And Ginger, would she be able to put aside her vanity in order to do what was necessary to survive? Gilligan wasn't so sure. Even now, she was nowhere to be found. Was she off somewhere feeling sorry for herself, or was she in trouble? Gilligan knew, if he and Mary Ann left the group, the workload for the Skipper and Professor would double.
One of the most important lessons Gilligan learned in the Navy was every person onboard ship depended on each other to perform the tasks assigned to them in a careful and concise manner. When that didn't happen, people died. Onboard the USS Independence, Gilligan had seen that very scenario play out, burdened with the knowledge it was his mistake which cost a crew member his life.
William Gilligan came to a decision; he couldn't allow himself to make the same mistake twice. He looked down at Mary Ann and reached to help her up. Taking her gently by the shoulders he gazed into her eyes, praying she would understand.
"We have to go, Mary Ann."
"To help find Ginger," he replied.
Mary Ann smiled and nodded her head and somehow, Gilligan knew she understood. Hand in hand, he led her back to the huts.