Skipper barged into the пингвин HQ, Kowalski still close behind, his head hung low with dejection. The first thing he noticed was Private lying on the table, bandaged, bruised, and unconscious, with Rico hovering around him.
He made a B-line to where the young пингвин lay and visually assessed his injuries. After deciding that his wounds although serious, weren’t life threatening, Skipper demanded to know what happened.
Kowalski began to explain how Private had climbed the дерево to rescue the kitten, how he was so close to saving сказал(-а) kitten, and how the branch gave out under his weight. His voice growing еще frantic every moment, guilt reverberating throughout.
The head пингвин only nodded.
“No one else was hurt right, Ты and Rico are fine?” He asked looking out for the well being of the rest of his team.
Kowalski gave a slight nod, “only Private.” Kowalski's eyes fell upon innocent пингвин with concern.
Again Skipper nodded and the room fell silent as the penguins began to take in events that occurred.
Skipper placed a flipper to his beak as he stood still, Остаться в живых in a sea of thoughts. Kowalski had sat down and buried his face into his flippers, still feeling guilty about the whole situation. Rico was standing near the table, a melancholy look upon his face.
Finally a soft cough pierced the silence.
Without hesitation Rico, Kowalski, and Skipper snapped their attention to the injured Private.
Again another cough was heard, but this time it was much louder.
The three rushed to Private’s side. He began to squirm a bit, not sure where he was или how he got there. Then a familiar face filled his vision.
“S…Sk…Skipper?” he asked softly, as another cough found it’s way out of his mouth.
“Yea Private it’s me. How Ты feeling?” Skipper asked worriedly.
“Yea I bet Ты are. Ты had quite the fall,” Skipper responded with a little bit of a chuckle, “but you’re going to be alright.”
“What happened to me Skipper?” He questioned curiously.
"Don’t worry 'bout that young Private, we’ll explain it when Ты get better. Right now Ты better get some rest, Ты need it.”
Knowing his condition, Private agrees with a short nod and closes his eyes, instantly falling asleep.
After having Rico Переместить Private to his bunk to be еще comfortable, Skipper asked to see Kowalski outside.
As they exited the HQ Kowalski could feel his eyes begin to tear up. He begins rambling before Skipper even gets a chance to utter one word.
“I’m sorry Skipper, it’s all my fault, this should never have happened,” Kowalski’s voice was broken as he tried to hold back tears, “I should have better analyzed the situation, came up with better options, put the right plan into action. I’m not fit to be a leader Skipper, I’m sorry.” Kowalski turned his head towards the ground and let out a deep sigh.
“Kowalski look at me.” Skipper demanded in a firm voice. Kowalski snapped his head to come eye to eye with his commander.
“Listen to what I say,” Skipper continued, “It was not your fault. There was nothing Ты could have done about this. Accidents happen, and that’s what this was, an accident. Ok?”
Kowalski nodded in agreement.
“But I still don’t think I’m ready to lead this team yet.”
“Kowalski Ты are ready to lead this team. If I didn’t think Ты were ready I wouldn’t have put Ты in charge when I’m not here. Ты are еще than capable to be a fine leader, I know Ты have it in you, and I’ve seen it before.” Skipper reassured.
“Thanks Skipper…I needed that.” Kowalski had a new found confidence. “I promise that I will be the best leader that I can be when Ты aren’t around.”
“That’s the attitude that great leaders have Kowalski, you’re already on your way.”
Kowalski smiled and threw his flipper to his forehead in a salute.
Skipper returned the salute and Kowalski dashed back into the HQ, leaving Skipper to his thoughts.
Standing alone, in the cool New York air, Skipper couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt building up inside. He knew, as he had told Kowalski, that it was an accident, and there was nothing he could have done about that, but what if he had been there?
Would it have really mattered if I was there? Would I have made a difference? Could all of this have been avoided?
These Вопросы floated in Skippers head, never to be answered.
Then a disturbing thought formed in his mind. Although he had confidence in Kowalski, his team needed him, but so did Marlene. Their relationship was just beginning and he couldn’t just leave her like that. He was going to have to choose between the two.
If he chose his team he would be spending less time with Marlene and possibly putting their relationship under stress. And that was the last thing he wanted to happen.
But if he chose Marlene over his team he could be putting the others in jeopardy. What if someone got hurt again, или worse…
Skipper shuddered at the thought.
He knew there was no way he could balance the two, one way или another he would he was going to have to choose between his two loves.