“First Impressions”
April 19, 2014


    "How's it lookin' on connecting to the camera feeds, Kowalski?" Skipper asked his lieutenant.

    "Just fine, Skipper. Just a few مزید minutes," Kowalski answered. "I have to say, the HQ is in pretty good shape for not being used in a number of years. Things are coming together nicely, and we've only been back for a week."

    "I concur. آپ got those light fixtures, Rico?" Skipper asked, looking up at Rico on his ladder, fixing a light to the ceiling.

    "Uh-huh!" he grunted.

    "Sir!" Private said, dropping into the HQ and running to him. "I have a report!"

    "What is it, Private? And why the rush?" Skipper asked.

    "It's the neighbor! She's —"

    Before he could finish, an وٹر, اوٹار dropped through the hatch and looked around in awe.

    "So this is where آپ guys go off to all the time," she said. "How did آپ guys do this?"

    Skipper glared at Private. "How did she find out about this?" he asked sternly.

    "She kept asking where we go after closing hours! Then she insisted on coming over! I didn't know what to do! I couldn't stop her!" Private explained.

Skipper smacked him on the back of the head, causing him to whimper. "So? آپ don't lead her down here! آپ should've stalled!" he scolded.

    "Sorry, Skipper! Sorry, sorry!" Private کہا shamefully.

    "Hey! آپ don't have to be so rude to the little guy," the وٹر, اوٹار said, going to Private and gently patting his head where Skipper had slapped him.

    Skipper looked at her irritably. "Listen, dollface —"

    "Marlene," the وٹر, اوٹار interrupted.

    Skipper rolled his eyes impatiently. "Look, Marlene, first آپ come down here unauthorized, and then آپ start telling me how to run my unit? I don't think so. Consider your tail outta here," he said, pointing to the hatch.

    Marlene put her paws on her hips. "Um, rude. I just wanted to come over here to welcome آپ guys to the zoo since I obviously can't come over during open hours and آپ disappear after closing," she said.

    "Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but this isn't our first time here. We just took off for a few years and decided we liked it better here. The rest of the story is classified. Now, if آپ don't mind, we're a bit busy," he said, gesturing toward the hatch.

    Marlene narrowed her eyes. "Well, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but I didn't drag myself over here just to be shot down سے طرف کی some arrogant, disrespectful jerk!" she argued.

    Skipper stared at her incredulously. "Well, excuse me for defending my right to privacy!" he shot back.

    "If آپ have been a resident in this zoo before, آپ would know that you're in New York now! Privacy's got nothing to do with it!" Marlene retorted.

    "Please! I value my privacy as much as I imagine آپ do!" Skipper snapped.

    "Guys!"

    Skipper and Marlene turned at the sound of Private's voice.

    "Stop it! Both of you! Arguing doesn't solve anything. We're going to be neighbors for who-knows-how-long. And I for one think it best if we all just get along," he کہا sternly.

    Skipper replied with "She started it!" at the same time Marlene replied with "He started it!" while pointing to each other. They stared at each other irritably at their simultaneity.

    Private rolled his eyes. "Look at you! You're both acting like children. آپ should be ashamed of yourselves. Apologize to each other now," he ordered.

    Skipper looked at him in shock. "Private, it's one thing when آپ give me orders, but you're ordering me to apologize? Why do I have to apologize anyway?" he asked sharply.

    Private just looked at him with an irritable grunt.

    "Fine, I'm sorry."

    Private and Skipper turned to Marlene.

    "I shouldn't have intruded. I know one of my pet peeves is an uninvited guest," she کہا without meeting either of their gazes. "I'll go, all right?"

    With that, she turned toward the hatch and left them standing there with their beaks hanging open.

    Skipper let out a guilty sigh. "Wait here, Private," he کہا as he followed her out.

    "Marlene," he called as she reached the edge of the habitat's island. She turned at the sound of his voice.

    "What?" she asked, facing him with her arms crossed, not meeting his eye.

    Skipper narrowed the distance between them. "Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot," he کہا calmly. "How 'bout we just — start over?"

    Marlene sighed and brought herself to make eye contact. "I can agree to that. I don't want there to be hard feelings," she agreed, letting her arms drop to her sides.

    Skipper smiled slightly and held out his flipper. "Skipper," he said.

    Marlene took his flipper. "Marlene," she replied as they shook.

    "So, am I still 'some arrogant, disrespectful jerk'?" Skipper asked with a smile.

    Marlene thought for a moment. "Still figuring that out," she answered with a sideways smile. "Do I still 'consider my tail outta here'?"

    "Oh, most definitely," Skipper answered without hesitating, causing Marlene's smile to fade. "But," he continued, "I hope you'll come back sometime. Maybe when we're not so busy and can get to know each other."

    Marlene smiled again. "Count on it."