Five Things That Did Not Happen To Penny
"Love your hair."
Penny looked up and blinked a few times. "What?"
The blonde man seemed to wilt under her gaze. "No, no, I, uh, love the…" Suddenly he straightened and gulped. Fidgeting a little now, he mumbled, "I love your hair."
Penny blushed, smiled, and reached up to twirl a strand of hair around her finger. "Thank you."
He faltered, eyes going to everything but her. "Um. Yeah. It's long. And. Um. Red." Hesitantly, his gaze met hers.
Seeing him blush and gulp again, she offered, "I'm Penny." She pulled herself up onto the washer. Then she patted the machine next to her.
Slowly, he pulled himself up. A small glance at her. "I'm Billy."
A gloved hand shot out and pulled. Penny stumbled out of the street and landed heavily in open arms. The man who saved her (oh, her hero) was still moving, arms jabbing at something.
The van slowed and halted to a stop only inches away from where she had been standing, its engine pinging as it cooled.
Slowly, she looked up. It was a blonde man with a pair of strange goggles sitting amidst the general spikiness of his hair. And, oh, his eyes…
He looked down at her.
A light bulb clicked on. This was the man she always saw at the laundromat.
Then suddenly she was pulled from his arms and crushed to a solid chest. It was another man, this one also vaguely familiar. It was that—oh, what was his name? Captain Something.
"Ah, Dr. Horrible. It's you again." Such an arrogant voice.
Then, bordering on a yell, strained and tight and angry, "You moron! You almost got her killed!"
"I remember it differently." One muscled arm went up. There was a strangled sound. Penny looked up. That Captain Whoever was choking (her hero) the guy who saved her.
She stepped out of the man's arms and looked up at him. "Excuse me, but this man saved me." Both me looked at her, shocked.
Then that Captain guy's face slid into a smug expression. "You must have hit your head—"
He took a step closer, but she held her hand up. "No. I'm fine." She tugged that blonde man, that laundromat-guy, that Dr. Horrible, from the Captain guy's loose grip. Then she turned and started to walk away.
About a block away, she stopped and turned back to the man. She reached out and touched the red mark ringing his neck. He started at the touch, eyes widening.
"Are you okay?"
His blue eyes widened a bit more, white showing in slivers around the iris.
She just smiled a little and wrapped her arm around his. "C'mon. Let me take you to the soup kitchen. We can get some food there."
Another little light bulb clicked on in her head. Dr. Horrible. A wannabe villain. What was she thinking, inviting a villain out to eat?
But an almost shy smile turned the edges of his lips up and his whole face lit up, and the thought vanished from her head.
Penny stood, the bowl cradled in her hands and walked over to the line. Captain Hammer was still a little hungry. The one problem about being a superhero, he told her, was always being hungry. She, of course, had not missed the lewd wink or the seductive grin, but she, a little flustered, had merely gotten up and went back to the line with his bowl.
She glanced at the man behind the large soup pot and noticed it wasn't anyone she knew. As he kept his eyes away from her and ladled soup in the bowl, she peered closer. Then, laughingly, she asked, "Billy?"
The man jumped, said, "No, no—," in a familiar voice, coughed, said in an unnaturally deep voice, "No, miss, I'm not—"
But she just reached up to pluck the fake black moustache he had on off and smiled. "Billy, since when do you come here?"
His eyes were trying to avoid her again.
"I, ah—" His eyes jumped to her. Then, a little grandiosely, he said, "You've inspired me." He made a little theatrical gesture with his hands. The ladle went with the movement and soup splattered the wall behind him. He winced while she just laughed a little.
"And why the moustache?"
His eyes avoided her again, this time going to something behind her and staying. His eyes became a little haunted, a little shadowy. She turned a little. He was staring—no, glaring—at Captain Hammer.
"What's wrong with Captain Hammer, Billy-buddy?"
The shadow in the blue of his eyes drifted away a little at the nickname. But his voice was cold as he replied, "He's such a jerk, Penny." She opened her mouth to defend the hero, but Billy continued on quickly. "If you just go past his looks and his title as a hero, you'll see."
She looked over to the hero. It was only now that she could see Captain Hammer cringing away from the homeless woman that was trying to shake his hand. And, well, he was so vulgar (did he only want sex from her?). Plus there was how he had pushed her into the garbage, like that villain, Dr. Whoever, had pointed out. But he had saved her.
"Billy," she said, turning back to the soup pot. But he was already gone, the kitchen door still swinging.
She took a bite of frozen yogurt and watched as Billy slowly opened his. Would he be upset for her? She thought of all the things he had said to her—that pie analogy made her smile a little—and figured he would be glad for her.
What had made Billy dislike Captain Hammer so much? Had he just seen that jerky part of the hero that had only been apparent to her after stripping away the glossy exterior?
She glanced at him.
…Was he jealous? That sent a little thrill though her and caused butterflies to erupt pleasantly in her stomach. She and Billy…would definitely work better than her and Captain Hammer, she could see that much. But would he want it that way?
Quietly, she said, "I think I'm going to stop seeing Captain Hammer," and then stuffed some more yogurt into her mouth.
He looked at her for a minute, eyes wide, and then a slow smile spread across his face.
She swallowed and stirred the melting yogurt with her spork. "I was wondering if you'd like to go out to eat tonight." Yes, straight from breaking it off with Captain Hammer to saying she wanted to see her laundry-buddy.
Billy was gaping at her like a fish. "I'd…" He gulped and his mouth turned up in a small smile. "I'd like that."
The villain walked up to the stage, muttering to himself. She crawled a little further, hiding in the shadows of the chairs there.
She could hear Dr. Horrible now as he stopped in front of Captain Hammer and aimed that gun at him. "It's gonna be bloody, head up Billy-buddy, there's no time for mercy."
Billy-buddy? She stood.
He straightened up. "Here goes no mercy."
Eyes widening, she ran to him. The gun on the opposite balcony started making noises. Dr. Horrible—no, Billy, her sweet, dear Billy-buddy, turned towards it just as she ran into him. Captain Hammer yelled out something and unfroze as they flew through the air. They landed, her on top of Billy.
Penny pulled herself up and looked down at Billy's face. His cheeks were a little sunken, his mouth and jaw tense, and his eyes were so dark, so dark and haunted, with heavy shadows emphasizing the shadows in the blue of his eyes.
She was only able to say, "Oh, Billy—," before her arm was grabbed and she was tugged up.
Captain Hammer smirked down at her Billy. "Dr. Horrible, what are you up to now?" He nudged the gun with the edge of his boot. Then he glanced up at the other gun on the balcony. "Another failure?"
Billy, her poor, poor Billy, merely turned his head away, defeated. That action made Penny push away from Captain Hammer and fall on Billy. Captain Hammer leaned down and tried to pull her up, but she merely wrapped her arms around her Billy. The hero leaned down again, this time to pick up the gun. He aimed it at Billy.
"He's a villain." His grin became mocking. "Or a wannabe villain, anyway."
His finger tightened and the trigger and Penny narrowed her eyes. Then she did something she never thought she'd do: she kicked out and the heel of her shoe met Captain Hammer's, er, hammer. The hero curled in on himself and fell over.
Penny turned back to her dear Billy. His eyes were on Captain Hammer's curled form. Then they went over to her. So sad, so haunted.
She smiled and placed her hand on his cheek. "C'mon Billy. Let's go take care of you."
His expression turned into something broken. "Penny…Bad Horse…he's…"
She placed her hand over his mouth. "It doesn't matter. We'll take care of it later." She stood and then pulled him up. He had to lean heavily on her, but the warmth of him made her smile a little more. "Let's go, Billy-buddy."