Uh-oh! In attempt to get Skipper to move on in his love-life for Valentine's Day, Kowalski uses Erotic Mind-and-heart restabilization methods (otherwise known as hypnotically-induced romance) on him, resulting in Skipper asking Marlene on a date... and of course she said yes, but when King Julien get's jealous and the "love-spell" proves itself "unbreakable", it became a full blown mission to get the lead penguin back to his old, violent, not-so-clingy self before Valentine's day is yesterday's news... literally!
Love was in the air for sure, as Valentine's day was sure-fire around New York City. Although Central park is the most common of romantic spots in that area, it wasn't the pond or the picnic area's that have the most heart (as most humans say they are), but rather the hearts of the animals of the zoo...
"I looooove valentine's day!"
"Mort! get yourself and this card off the FEET!"
business as usual, Lucinda thought, watching her brother, Julien, put up with Mort's grabby habits, even on the most romantical day of the year... and this year, I'm to convince Kowalski that magic is indeed real.
Maurice didn't need mind-reading powers to know what was on his duchess' mind: "Trust me, milady, not even the one I choose for my valentine would convince him that," (he was talking about Darla, the baboon) "besides, you know he still has a thing for D...O... R..."
"No need to spell it out, Maurice," Lucinda sighed, "I know who you are speaking of... but the Doris and Kowalski relationship, or 'Dorwalski', as my idiot brother might be putting it, isn't meant to last. You shall see... every year for the past three years... would've been five in a row, if not for them ending up on our island... anyhow, every year Kowalski sneaks over to the Dolphin Pool to ask that fashonista freak to be his Valentine, and every year, she tells him 'no'. The least I can do is be there to give him the cry-upon shoulder, if you get my drift."
"You do realize that kind of relationship is called 'stalking', right?" Maurice said, "Besides, he's got little chance sneaking out this year... Skipper got the whole HQ under lock-down... literally!"
"Oh no he don't! I got skills!" Lucinda had just got out the amber-mirror (made from the heart of her decimated Alchemy teacher, Salasi) and passed by Mort and Julien looking for a high vantage point, laughing at the high-jinx ("Get a tree you two!") before summoning her power (and that of the spirit world) to overwhelm the electrical locks and three of the four penguins burst out... Private paired up with Lolly (one of Eggy "JJ" the duck's sisters... how embarrassing), Rico saved his Ms. Perky doll (whom Julien often calls "Carlotta") from the snowdrift Skipper thrown her into earlier, and Kowalski ran straight to Doris... prompting Lucinda to begin countdown: "5... 4... 3..." WHAP!
Kowalski was flipped out and back onto the iced-up water in the penguin habitat by Doris' tail.
"It got worse," Lucinda chuckled, "that's about 2.7 seconds faster then usual, and she didn't even speak to him, not even to call him a 'nerdy-birdy'!"
Comforting Kowalski (and trying not to laugh as the concussion caused him to talk in nonsense for a short while), Lucinda marched right up to Skipper's face and practically demanded to know why he was such a valentine's day scrooge... she even told him not to classify it "Or else I'm just gonna have to consider telling Amy to get you guys back on phony-soy-fish-cakes again! Now spill it!"
unaware all his men were eavesdropping and heard the threat, it was clear the team leader had no choice but to fess up: "Fine... a few years ago, when my men and I first came to the zoo, there were actually five of us, the extra one was a female named Josephine. My men seemed to take a liking to her as a showgirl, but I knew better then that. I had a relationship that grew as we did, and I was about to make her my official girlfriend when she told me that she was scheduled to be transferred to another zoo. She never told me where, but she did say that it was the same zoo her fiance lives in! The only thing worse than seeing her happy bout it was that she broke the news on me on Valentine's Day... I vowed to never, ever celebrate again, and I even tried to keep my men from suffering the same fate... I DON'T KNOW WHY KOWALSKI KEEPS TRYING!!!" Lucinda then slapped him in the face and left, as usual, without a trace. "GET OUT!" Skipper thundered at her.
After that, Skipper was as stubborn as ever when the rest of the squadron insisted he should move on (after all, he was married himself and divorced... as the wedding was only a sham to protect the reputation of Lola the bobble-head after he got drunk on bubbly apple-cider in Africa... caressing her and getting blackmailed for it). Skipper told them, however, "I'm not sure that's a good idea, men.", which (unlike "you can't make me!") shown them that a part of him actually wants to do it, but his attempts to stay macho get in the way. Knowing that much, Kowalski had an idea, and told his teammates about it while Skipper was out getting more coffee grinds...
...Kowalski never told anyone before, but he had purchased an "Erotic Hypnosis Heart and Mind Rehabilitation Cheat-sheet Kit" last year to persuade Doris into taking him back, but since there's not even the slightest hint of willingness in her, he wasn't able to use it. Clearly, Skipper needed this more then he did, so Kowalski gave everyone there assignments: Private will give Marlene the otter the message to meet with Skipper in the HQ in half an hour, Rico will stand guard so none may disturb in the meantime, and Kowalski himself will use the kit (like a regular hypnosis kit, but was romance themed, and the spiral watch with heart-shaped numerals glows in the dark!) upon Skipper.
Private didn't like the idea: "Why am I the messenger instead of the hypnotist?!"
Kowalski shook his head, "Private," he said, "I seem to recall we all seen your so-called 'expertize' in hypnosis, and we both know that I did my research on the topic. Remember when Lucinda bugged us for her fear of thunder?"
"Kalam-o!" Rico agreed, and soon it was agreed that Operation: Hypnotic Love was put into action.
Skipper was confused as to why Rico volunteered for look-out duty, but not so much as when Kowalski had a stool out for him and stated that he needed therapy. "I promise you Skipper," Kowalski said, "the memory of Josephine won't hold you back on Valentine's day anymore, and this will make it all the less of a hassle for you to move on with your love-life."
"None of that permanent brainwashing?" Skipper said, in suspicion.
"Skipper if by chance you get stuck in this state of mind you are put into, one would do whatever it took to bring you back to reality... Soldier's Honor!"
"And our rankings...?"
"Unchanged as usual."
"Very well Kowalski, I trust you... for now. Although, I think that this is a stupid idea."
Kowalski gets annoyed when any of his ideas are called stupid, but he stayed calm and spoke as monotonously as possible as he swung that special watch to-and-fro in front of Skipper's eyes:
"Look at the watch... and relax.... you are getting sleepy... your eyelids are getting heavier... and heavier... and heavier still... your eyes are following the sway of this watch now... you can't look away... and every blink will make it harder... and harder... to keep your eyes open... you are falling into a deep sleep... you are now going into a trance... once you can no longer see the watch... your sole focus... would be only the sound... of my voice."
Skipper still thought it was a stupid idea, but his eyes really couldn't get away from that watch, glowing in the semi-darkened room, and before he knew it Kowalski's hypnotic suggestions took hold, and he was falling asleep... Skipper even yawned a little, and it wasn't until that happened did he considered resisting, but it was already too late for that, as his eyes were soon so heavy that he couldn't open them even if he had the will to... he couldn't see anything, let alone the watch, and wasn't conscious to even the idea of resisting... he could only stay focused on Kowalski's voice:
"Skipper, notice the peace you are in now... this is the kind of pleasure you should feel when you awaken to see Marlene... do you still remember her?"
"M-Marlene?" Skipper found himself saying, in a strangely calm tone while he slept.
"Yes, Marlene is coming here, and you should be prepared... you love Marlene, and you know it."
Skipper couldn't help smiling, as though mentioning the name of that otter had brought her to him in a dream in his otherwise blank-minded slumber, "Yes."
"Listen Skipper, the next time you see Marlene, you won't be able to resist showing that love to her. In fact, you will ask her on a date that day, insisting until she agrees, and when she does, you will make it the best Valentine's day ever for both her and yourself. Do you understand? Marlene is your valentine."
"Marlene... my valentine."
"As you make that goal realized, do whatever seen fit to win her over in return, and be her valentine as well, as you want her love."
"Be ... valentine for ... Marlene."
"Skipper, I'm about to clap you awake now, and when I do, you will have no recall that you were ever in this sleep, but you will, in the back of your mind... and the bottom of your heart... recall your role for this day, and begin to live up to it. Do you understand? What is your mission?"
Skipper started to resist again, as there was still a part of himself that believes that this method would fail, but quickly enough, that resided, as in a decision to wait until it does: "D-date Marlene... be her valentine, and gain her love."
"Good. You'll awaken on three, and all I had said will be true... one... two... three!" CLAP!
Skipper opened his eyes, shook himself awake, and looked around. Kowalski separated his flippers and repositioned them to the very stance he took when the hypnotherapy session began. When Skipper saw that form, he became completely oblivious to the spell he was practically under... a love spell.
"See Kowalski," he stated, proud of the "resistance" he had made,"I don't feel any different. Told you it won't work!"
Skipper turned around, and there Marlene was, at the HQ main door. In Skipper's eyes, she was lovelier then ever, and he found her irresistible.
"What's going on here?" she asked (and Skipper was already washed over by the sound of this otter's voice), "Private told me you had something to ask me... and what's with the half hour wait?"
"Well half an hour is enough time to rehearse, Marlene," Skipper said, suddenly oblivious to the words coming out of his own beak, "and I was hoping that, sometime today, we can go on a date."
"Well... I don't know. Don't you have some top secret projects you gotta work on, or a big mission or something?"
"Marlene, for today you are my greatest mission yet. Besides, my schedule is actually a clean slate this time of year. I really want to go on a date with you."
"Well... I don't know."
"Please?! It's not often I give anyone an opportunity to be my valentine... and you the approved romantic selection for the task! Lucky you!"
"Aw! That was most sweet of you! You'll be my valentine in return, right."
"Then consider it mission accomplished, Skipper. See you at noon." Marlene said, as she headed home to freshen up.
"Noon it shall be..." Skipper responded, and his love-shining eyes narrowed to a gleam as he let out a sigh, watching her leave.
Rico then noticed the clock and acted up.
"Oh dear!" Private said, "You are actually right! Skipper, do you realize that gives you only ten minutes to get ready?"
Skipper noticed the time and panicked.
"Hoover Dam, Private! So much to do in so little time! Kowalski! Map out approvable dating spots for Marlene and I to live up to the best Valentine's Day ever! Rico! Whip up a meal to give The Ritz a run for the money! Private! I'm going to need you to bring me my best tie and a few breath mints... anchovy-paste is definitely not the best kind of fish-breath to make an impression on the ladies!"
With all the chaos that was going on with the penguins, King Julien began to get a little nosy, but his suspicion turned to jealousy as he notice Skipper and Marlene leave together... with a picnic lunch... holding hands! "Oh no you do not, flightless bird," Julien whispered, "Marlene is a valentine only fit for the king."
Despite it being winter in that area (making it hard to believe they had a snake-and-salamander problem earlier), a picnic on the top of the zoo bell-tower seemed to be the perfect idea for this date, as it was mostly fish, candy hearts, and enough hot cocoa for two. Julien, driven by his jealousy, decided to ruin this relationship every way he could... he snuck a sled on the rooftop so that there picnic would slide off, thinking that Marlene would believe Skipper set it up as a cruel joke, but those two embraced on the way down and landed in a snowdrift, laughing in relief. Then Julien figured that if he tossed ice-shards at her while the couple was strolling around the habitats of the zoo, she'd be more hurt emotionally then physically, but Skipper, focused on his love for Marlene, intervened the shards and chopped them up into a cupid ice-sculpture, Marlene was actually impressed. As the last and cruelest stealth blow, Julien took note on how cozy Skipper and Marlene were by the boiler, all well listening to smooth jazz. Acting quickly, the nutty king switched the tunes to polka (something even he wouldn't use on a date... otherwise he wasn't too picky)! Marlene and Skipper reacted together, and both threw snowballs at the radio just to get it to turn of. While grabbing for more snow, just to make sure, Marlene's hand and Skipper's flipper touched reaching for the same spot on the ground.
The love-spell Skipper was under had grown too strong for him to bear, and he couldn't prevent what was coming out of him... a peck onto Marlene's lips! From that point, Marlene practically fell for Skipper, even though she happened to notice he was acting very strange lately... even for him!
This was the last straw in King Julien's eyes, and he feared the worst beforehand, with a bamboo bo staff in his outing-bag (a Valentine from his sister, to make up for the "I Told You So"). Never did the royal pain want it to come to this, but his father (before passing away to predators) always expected him to be able to fight for the women he loved. For Marlene, Julien would've battled anyone, even with the knowledge that his opponent won't let him win, but his majesty had long prayed that he didn't have to fight his own (possible) BFF!
The king could no longer stand it, he knew it had to be done, and he let his presence be known, challenging Skipper to a dual "for the beautifical woman".
Strangely, Skipper didn't even respond to Julien's offer to fight him, no matter how loudly and annoyingly he yelled, no matter how badly he pestered... Skipper's only focus was Marlene, and how much he loved her!
Julien could not believe what was happening: The girl of his dreams and his best friends were both actually giving him the cold shoulder... for each other! Could it be possible to be losing a courtship duel when the opponent hasn't even attacked you? Julien asked himself, it is seeming so. Defeated and broken in heart and inner-spirit, King Julien gave a silent farewell to both of them, and walked back to his Lemur Kingdom where he wallowed in his own self-pity... the depression was even deeper then when his robot friend, Lemmy, got blown up! "Worst Valentine's Day ever... and it's only my second!"
Turns out, Marlene did notice Julien and his antics, and told Skipper how proud she was of him that she respected her as a fellow animal, not some love trophy to be won. His response was a shocker, though: "Of course not... whatever makes you happy, Marlene."
Now Marlene had every sense of suspicion... she was hoping Skipper would make changes in himself, but not this quickly! then she noticed that the gleam that's in his eyes when he's trying to be nice to her (usually) was gone. His eyes were glazed, and focused, and somewhat bloodshot, and somewhat unblinking...
Mind control! There was no other explanation to the sudden change, she just knew it. She waved her hands in front of him, snapped her fingers... nothing worked, he was lovesick in a way that isn't true. Kowalski, Private, and Rico, who had been spying on them to make sure Skipper doesn't do anything he might regret later while in his "condition" and came out of hiding to help, and tried to disrupt his focus with whatever noises required (safety regulations on Rico's behalf of course) all while explaining everything to Marlene, who demanded to see the box the "love-spell" came in while Skipper was distracted trying to get her a decent bouquet (a real challenge in that time of year). Sure enough, Marlene found the kit had an instruction manual, and they wasted no time getting it to Phil and Mason, and Phil found something in the fine print:
"'Warning:'" Mason said, speaking for Phil, "'This particular romance experience is made merely for flights of fancy. Any use to encourage a genuine relationship can and will lead to seemingly permanent damage of will and loss of realism of disastrous outcomes with false soul mate, followed and ended only by a emotional shock leading to certain grief.' I say, that is quite a curse. Looks like Skipper is stuck this way unless you find a way to break his heart... again."
The gang was beginning to wonder how to do that, when Duchess Lucinda charged in in rage!
"There you Slimy sculpins are!" She screamed (referring to the penguins), "I've been looking all over the zoo for you three... especially you, Kowalski, but for reasons alongside the currently serious business."
"Stalker!" Marlene jirred.
Lucinda scowled and tightened the scarf this otter had around her neck (a red one she selected for the date),"I'll deal with you later..." she then redirected herself to the penguins, "Boys I don't know how it is that you got Skipper over his previous love life gone wrong so quickly... well, love lives if you count the doll... anyway, it was a mistake for him not getting the royal permit to date Marlene beforehand! My brother has been jealous then brought to tears do to that sickening snuggling in the snow in a not-just-to-keep-each-other-warm kind of way and I won't... wait a minute! Is that a manual for one of those love-spell kits? You idiots! Don'tcha know that those things are for imaginary love stories only?"
"Actually," Kowalski admitted, "we are just finding that out." Private and Rico nodded in agreement.
Lucinda slapped herself in the face (almost in the same way the real Skipper does when somebody... Julien, usually... is making more a fool of himself then usual), and sighed, "And I suppose you didn't know that the charm lasts forever if the heart cannot be broken, huh? You birds really messed things up big time, especially with my brother, I mean, really, you are all lucky none of you are the jealous type like he is!"
"That's it!" Kowalski and Private said together, (Rico didn't understand "What's it?") and the girls silently approved on realization of what's going on.
"Where is the most likely place for Skipper to see it?" Lucinda asked, eager to be part of one of Kowalski's brainstorms, "I'll be sure that Marlene gets there in time."
"Remember that Skipper is out getting flowers..." Private noted.
"Affirmative," Kowalski stated, "and brainwashed or not, we know Skipper well enough to say he'd get a vase for them by stealing one of the mugs from Alice's office. Rico, do you still have the roses from that New Year's gathering and the lilies from that funeral detour?"
Rico nodded and coughed up the plastic flowers, and in assurance that Ms. Perky wouldn't mind her gift was pre-used, he spritzed it with a floral perfume he planned to give her... for effect.
"He might have real ones by now," Marlene figured, "I insist that you find a way to destroy that bouquet... non-lethally... and lure him to the office with your phony flowers before dark. I think a sunset would be the right touch for a love-hate scenario."
Rico followed through on this plan, and actually had fun teasing Skipper this way. Meanwhile, in the hall to Alice's office, Kowalski and Private where guiding a blindfolded King Julien to a "regally suitable surprise".
The sun was setting, and Rico gave Skipper the phony flowers. Convinced by the scent that they were real, and too deep in his post-hypnotic trance to double check it, Skipper was just on his way to Alice's office... and as expected he came in style via the window.
Lucinda stayed hidden, but was in an angle where her brother can hear her whisper: "Now."
Julien removed the blindfold and was surprised that it was Marlene standing in front of him, and before he could ask anything about it, she jumped up upon him, wrapped her arms gently around his neck and... she kissed him, like she meant it!
Skipper managed to hold the newly "vased" bouquet for a few seconds, but he turned around and saw Marlene kissing Julien, and he was shocked to breaking that fine piece of china.
Julien was beginning to realize what was happening to him as he returned her embrace and, by a powerful urge brought to him by that kiss, the lord of the lemurs couldn't help but slowly-yet-passionately close his eyes. Both he and Skipper where in a love spell, but while the set up weakened the one on the penguin enough for him to come to his senses (he loved Marlene before he was hypnotized, and always will), King Julien's was, in comparison, self-induced, and he felt as though he was dreaming, even though he knew it was real... at least real enough for him.
"Marlene, how could you...?" Skipper said, just one moment before shaking himself awake, and taking the handle from a near-by broom, "RINGTAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Julien broke out of the kiss and chuckled as he re-obtained his bamboo bo-staff, "Oh... so now you are wanting to be tussling for the heart of a pretty girl, yes? As king, I command you to bring it on!"
The fight was hardly bearable, but at least it proved Skipper was almost back to normal, but due to it's tenacity, Marlene had to wait until they thrown each other wall to wall before intervening, giving a speech as to the fact that although a part of her likes how both of them flatter her in there own ways, the love on Valentine's Day isn't meant to last forever, and they will have other chances to find true love unconditionally.
Such words had restored Skipper's memory of the glowing pendent that caused all this trouble, and slapped his lieutenant for swinging it in front of him: "Kowalski, when you said you'd do whatever it takes to bring me back from la-la land, this wasn't what I would've had in mind... next time slap first, then something stupid. At least consider yourself lucky that this holiday is no longer boycotted on account of Josephine."
Marlene then noticed the spark in his eyes when he winked at her... it wasn't the watery look he had when he asked her for a date and became her submissive slave, but rather the properly dedicated look of a true soldier of love... Skipper was indeed back to normal.
"Um..." King Julien looked confused, "who is this Josephine of which you speak of."
Lucinda's crazies kicked in as she couldn't stop herself from blabbing: "She is only this female penguin that Skipper used to have a crush on before she informed him on Valentine's Day that she was already matched up... two-timer! Anyhow, Kowalski tried to use a mind and heart control ritual to help Skipper forget all about her and move on... with Marlene! Mr. Know-it-all messed it up biggly, though, and the team leader of the penguins would've been sweetening up to her without really knowing about it to the end of his days if he wasn't brought to his senses with a re-broken heart. Oopsie!"
"Sis, are you saying that all this happened just because Skipper was being place under some kind of freaky love-spell?!" King Julien tried to calm down, as he figured the best Valentine's Day gift he could give his sister is for her to see he can handle these things maturely, and he walked off with a smile: "glad I could loan you my kingly assistance."
Lucinda shook her head: "You are just saying that because Marlene kissed you!"
That night, as Private and Lolly had hot cocoa together, Kowalski was taking reading lessons from Lucinda, and Rico was singing a love song to Ms. Carlotta Perky, Marlene and Skipper were going out ice-skating, for a real date, and had passed by the lemur habitat, where they found King Julien fast asleep, wrapped in the red scarf he impulsively took from Marlene, with a smile on his face.
"Should we... try to get it back from him?" Marlene asked.
Skipper just winked at her, "Eh, no rush, Marlene. At least he'd be out of our hair for a while."
Yes, love was indeed all over Manhattan, especially in the zoo, and despite the few kinks, that year turned out to be the best Valentine's Day ever.
END OF ARTICLE