A/N: An alternate ending along the same lines of the movie, but a little different. Please R&R. I own nothing!
As Johnny sat at the table, the world spun around him. He tried to focus on his cards, but it was useless. He couldn't handle it anymore. He couldn't handle the gambling. It was too strong. Johnny felt like vomiting. He tossed his cards down and walked out, his gambling buddies calling after him. He stepped outside and took a deep breath, exhaling the crisp, cold air as he leaned against the brick building. He had to get away, away from this life. He had to start over. The only thing holding him back was Penelope. Sweet, charming, unassuming, honest, dearest Penelope. His heart shattered because he knew he couldn't give her what she desired most. Tears came to his eyes as he reminded himself that he couldn't make her happy, so he shouldn't see her ever again. It would just make it harder on both of them.
He went home, showered, shaved, and went to the old theater to see Sam, who grudgingly gave him a job. He mopped the floor, and with every swish of the mop, he thought her name on a steady beat. Penelope. Penelope. Penelope. He couldn't stand it. The last time he had seen her had nearly killed him. He had refused, and broken her heart in the process. He couldn't just stand there and mop. He walked to the piano, his mop and bucket forgotten. The piano drew him to it, tantalizing. His fingers itched to play it. He sat down at the keys, and poured his soul into the piano. Rich, soulful notes filled the space around him, and he played a song. A song for Penelope. As the music spun into the air and wove around him, caressing him, tears streamed down his cheeks. The piece eventually ended, as his brief relationship with Penelope had. And Johnny was left at the piano, practically heartless.
"Johnny." Sam said from behind him. Instantly, Johnny snapped up the mop and bucket and continued to swab the floor.
"Sorry, Sam." Johnny apologized. "I got carried away."
"Yeah, you did." Sam nodded. "To a place where that was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard in my life."
"What?" Johnny asked, pausing with the mop. He'd never seen this side of Sam, all soft and kind.
"If you don't go to that girl and ask her to marry you, your a bigger idiot than I thought you were." Sam said.
"What girl, he says!" Sam laughed. "The girl you were playing that gorgeous piece of magic for! Anyone with any love for anything could see it was for a girl you love!"
"I can't marry her." Johnny said, brokenly.
"Why on earth not?"
"I can't make her happy. She's different, and....I'm not the kind of guy she needs."
"What kind of guy does she need?"
"Someone like her. Rich."
"Ah. Problem." Sam nodded.
"I can't be with her, and I can't stand it."
"Well, I'm not turning into an old softie overnight, Johnny, but play all you like. Just get the floor done, yeah?"
"Okay." Johnny nodded.
Just days later, the Penelope story broke over the airwaves and in print across the city. Johnny was cleaning the theater that afternoon, when Sam came in with a newspaper in hand. "She needs "someone like her"?" Sam quoted Johnny, holding up the newspaper. "You fell in love with Penelope, the overnight news sensation?"
"She's not a sensation!" Johnny defended Penelope. "She's wonderful, and beautiful, and amazing......I love her."
"Oh, you've got it bad."
"You can see why I can't marry her, right?"
"I guess." Sam nodded. "Doesn't really make too much sense to me, but of course, I'm me."
"I don't really get it either, I just know I can't make her happy, and loving someone means wanting what's best for them, even if it doesn't involve you."
"And is this what's best for her? Being a part of a media circus while people wait to see if she'll marry this sappy blue-blood Edward Vanderman?"
"It's what will make her happy."
"But is it the best for her?" Sam pressed.
"I don't know." Johnny admitted. "But I do know that it's what she's dreamed about her entire life."
"Why is that the same thing?" Sam asked.
"I don't know if it is or if it isn't." Johnny conceded. "I just want her to be happy."
"I don't know much about cursed girls, but I know that that idiot Vanderman couldn't make anyone with half a brain happy." Sam snorted. "Go out there and get your girl!"
"No." Johnny said firmly. In the coming weeks, he followed the Penelope story through the news. He kept every picture the papers printed of her. He hoped beyond hope that she was happy. And he stayed far away from her. He heard that she'd been spotted attending the theater, but hadn't gone. He could've, but decided not to, deeming himself incapable of being around Penelope. He continued working over his music, and applied for a job, far away from the town he had grown to love, but the one that held him captive to his addiction.
That Halloween, there was a knock on his door. Johnny was feeling particularly inhospitable, since the papers had lost track of Penelope. He hadn't heard about her in weeks. He was a little glad, because every time he looked at a picture of her, it needled his heart. Johnny was also sad, because he didn't know what was happening to her. He opened the door, and his heart skipped a beat. It was Penelope! Or was it? He focused in on the person standing three feet away from him, and realized it was a girl dressed like Penelope with a Penelope mask. His heart broke all over again. The friend of the girl who looked like Penelope was asking if they could use his restroom. He nodded mechanically. "Sure."
The girl dressed as Penelope entered the apartment, used the bathroom, and reemerged as Johnny folded the last shirt into a trunk of clothes. "Are you moving?" she asked.
"Yes." he said. "Out of town job." He had no idea why he was offering her this information.
"Getting out of the city?"
"Yeah. Out of the city and away from the poker tables."
"Ah." she nodded.
"I've been playing gigs, and my music seems to be doing well." he said. He crossed the room to his piano, and stroked the keys.
"You lied to me!" the girl cried triumphantly. "I guessed piano, and you said--"
"Penelope?" he asked, shocked. He walked to meet her as she crossed over to him, and he kissed her. She melted into his arms, and after a moment, regained her composure.
"I'm sorry--I don't usually kiss perfect strangers." he apologized, turning red.
"It's good that we know each other then, huh?" she smiled.
"I had to tell you, Penelope. I'm not a blue-blood. I can't break the curse."
"It's okay, Johnny." she said, removing the mask. "It turns out I could, all along."
The mask revealed the real Penelope, normal nose and all, and Johnny realized that he had grown to love her old nose. He took her into his arms and kissed her again. "I love you." they both said, in unison, and laughed.