My first Dr. Horrible fanfic! I love this show so much! (I'm knitting dolls of all the characters, tee hee.) Be kind to a newbie and review, even if it's negative. HAPPY (BELATED) THANKSGIVING!

So this is set right after the second Bad Horse Chorus, the one telling Billy to "Go kill someone, signed Bad Horse". It's before Brand New Day, presumably at a laundry trip between the Bad Horse letter and the laundry day where Hammer shows up.

Laundry day. Penny had always enjoyed the short walk to the Coin Wash, the smell of detergent, and the feel of warm clothes in her hands. Now, she found herself eagerly looking forward to Wednesdays and Saturdays, where conversations with her Billy Buddy turned quiet amusement into a day-brightening experience.

He seemed perpetually nervous, as if he feared he might annoy her with his presence, yet this shyness made him all the more endearing. Though she had only known him a handful of weeks, she felt completely comfortable with him. She told Billy of things within herself that she would never discuss with Captain Hammer, who didn't seem concerned with the intimate details of Penny's soul.

Captain Hammer was a whirlwind adventure; Billy was a Sunday picnic to relax in. Hammer was a man; Billy was a friend.

Yet there was something hidden behind Billy's crooked smile, something that glistened in his too-intense eyes when he didn't think Penny was looking. She knew that he was hurting inside and feared that his gentle heart was near breaking. But each time Penny tried to uncover the source of her compassionate laundry buddy's sorrow, he evaded her questions with complaints about his dissatisfying job. It was apparent to Penny that there was a deeper problem that an unfulfilled desire for promotion, though she did not press the issue. When the time came for Billy to unburden himself, she would be there with a warm hug and a frozen yogurt.

Penny had decided not to tell Billy the details of her latest date with Captain Hammer, for she had noticed Billy's tense behavior every time the subject came up. It was rather dull for the most part, anyway; Hammer had taken her to the dedication of the Superhero Memorial Bridge, where she heard speeches about the highly successful crime fighting team comprised of the mayor, the LAPD, and superheroes. It seemed to Penny just another way for Hammer to exhibit his wonderfulness, which she had secretly begun to doubt. The most exciting event was when Hammer attacked an ineffectual super-villain (Dr. Something?) who had come to disrupt the ceremony as a display of his power. Hammer might be conceited, she thought, but he did excel at his heroic duties.

The bell above the Laundromat door jingled, bringing Penny out of her reverie. The door opened slightly and fell shut several times, drawing a discordant tune from the bell as it moved.

It was much too still a day for the glass and metal door to be moved by the wind. Penny stood and peered over the row of washing machines behind her, scanning the sidewalk outside for the cause of the door's motion.

A blonde head hunched into the black shoulders of a baggy sweatshirt struggled to push through the small opening in the doorway.

Penny rushed forward as Billy made yet another attempt to kick the door open with his sneaker-clad foot. She laughed warmly at her awkward friend, taking his white plastic laundry basket and placing it on the washing machine next to hers.

"Thanks, Penny," Billy mumbled, clearly embarrassed.

"No problem, Billy Bu-" Penny paused and stared at her friend, the smile sliding off her delicate face as she took in Billy's appearance for the first time.

Billy's left eye was swollen completely shut and his lower lip was puffy and scabbed where it had recently been split open. It was no wonder he had had such trouble with the door; his left arm was in a sling.

"My God, Billy, what happened? Here, sit down. You look absolutely horrible!"

Billy obeyed, blushing oddly at her words. He leapt up again moments later, wincing, as Penny took his clothes basket and began sorting his colors and whites. "I can do that. You don't have to-"

"It's okay, Billy Buddy. You just sit down and rest." She gathered the white clothing into her arms and put them in the wash, returning to Billy with a paper bag in her small white hands. "I was hoping you'd come today; I brought you something."

Billy felt the aches in his body ebb away as Penny carefully placed a cup of frozen yogurt in the hand of his injured arm and a plastic spork in the other.

They sat in comfortable silence, eating their frozen yogurt. Penny got up to change the laundry when the timer rang, but returned to Billy's side seconds later.

After some minutes, Billy became aware that Penny was staring at him out of the corner of her eyes. She seemed about to ask him something that never quite made its way past her lips. He considered simply ignoring it and continuing to eat his yogurt, but she was making him nervous. "What?" he finally blurted out, sounding angrier than he had intended.

Penny drew back, hurt visible in her large, soulful eyes.

"I'm sorry," Billy muttered, reaching his right hand toward his true love and accidentally poking her with his spork. "I'm sorry. I'm having a really bad week."

"It's fine," Penny assured him, placing a hand on his hunched shoulder. "I was just going to ask what happened to you."

Billy could not bear to tell this gentle creature the awful truth. If she ever discovered that he was a villain, she would never speak to him again. And she was in love with Captain Hammer. Though it broke Billy's heart, he wanted her to be happy. Hammer was a hero; naturally every girl's dream. Telling Penny that her boyfriend beat him up and nearly knocked his head off with a car would hurt her.

"I got mugged," he mumbled, praying that he sounded convincing. Penny said nothing, so he kept talking, making up details to prove the truth of his words. "Coming home from my friend's house Monday night. It was really stupid, too. I didn't have any money except half a roll of quarters I use for laundry. So they got kinda mad."

He stopped his rambling explanation, for Penny had forced all words from his mind; she was hugging him as tightly as she could without putting pressure on any of his injuries.

After several blissful seconds, Penny released her friend, stood, and began fussing with the laundry, trying to hide the growing blush on her ivory face. "You can tell me the truth, you know," she stated without turning around.

"Wh- what do you mean?"

"I know you, Billy Buddy. You were nervous telling me what happened; I think there's something you're hiding."

Lowering his head, for Penny would surely see the lie in his visible blue eye, Billy muttered some nonsense about having nothing to hide.

He hadn't heard Penny return, almost expected that she would leave after catching him in his attempt to conceal his actions. The warm, thin arm that snaked around his shoulders proved him wrong. "You don't have to tell me anything at all. You don't even have to sit here with me. But I'm here if you need me, okay? Whenever you want, not just on laundry day."

Whenever he wanted? Billy wished nothing more than to spend the rest of his days talking with Penny at the Coin Wash. "Thanks, Penny. I really appreciate it. And it's not that I don't trust you; I do. The whole situation is just incredibly complicated … and unfair."

The buzzer on the nearest dryer rang, signaling the end of Billy's final load of laundry. It would be so easy for them to simply say goodbye and part ways, for Penny to worry about her own problems, not this man's, for Billy to retreat into his shyness. But neither of them moved; this was where their hearts told them they needed to be.

"Is your wrist broken?"

"I, uh… I think it's just a bad sprain. But it still hurt after I wrapped it, so I figured I should keep it as still as possible for a while."

"You think? Billy Buddy, you did go to a doctor, didn't you?"

Billy blushed. It was humiliating enough that Penny was doing his laundry as he sat uselessly on a plastic chair a few feet away. Now she was worriedly asking him about the injuries her boyfriend had caused, injuries of which she must never know the source.

"Well, I took a bunch of biology classes in college and I did some first aid volunteer stuff for a while. I- I could deal with it." Penny seemed about to protest, so Billy decided to continue his explanation. It would be easier to control the situation if he confessed a half-truth. "I wasn't supposed to be where I was when I got hurt."

Penny's well-meaning battery of questions was momentarily impeded by this statement, but working with the homeless at Caring Hands had taught her not to let the shock of the stories people told her affect her efficiency. "You could have gone to the emergency room and told them that fib about getting mugged."

Billy shrugged uncomfortably. Penny sighed. How could she help her friend if her most simple suggestions upset him? "I worry about you, Billy. You're such a sweet person, but there's so much pain in your eyes. I think you're in trouble, but I don't know how to help."

She worried about him. Billy smiled, ignoring the pain in his lip caused by the motion. It wasn't love, but it was a start. Bad Horse's latest message shot through his mind, tearing the smile from his face. Nothing that Penny could do would take away this dreadful choice he had to make. Only by joining the Evil League of Evil could he effect drastic change in the world. But Billy was not as horrible as he made himself out to be. He hated blood; he nearly passed out in dissection labs in college. The thought of taking a human life revolted him; he couldn't do it! And yet he couldn't throw away his chance to join the League.

The girl of his dreams sat mere inches away from him, her hand resting on his bandaged wrist, assuring him that she would look after him. Why let pride stand in the way of a deep conversation between them, of his potential salvation?

He phrased it so that it came out as a philosophical inquiry, not a plea for advice. "Is it wrong to do something evil to change an unfair system?"

"Is this about that rotting fish stuff again, Billy Buddy?"


"Your philosophy on change. 'A total overhaul of the system,' I think you said? That we have to change the way things work, not just treat the symptoms like we do at Caring Hands."

Billy blushed, pleased that she remembered his words so well. "Yeah, I guess that's what I mean."

Penny nodded, her eyes full of understanding. "I thought about that for a while after you said it. And I've decided that the system could be changed without a revolution or someone blowing something up. If everyone signed petitions, volunteered their time, and helped out where they could, the system would follow that trend. I know you want things to happen to you, want life to work out, but just be careful, Billy Buddy. I don't want to see you get hurt."

"You mean you don't want to see me break any bones," Billy muttered darkly, readjusting the sling supporting his arm.

"Exactly," Penny laughed. "You know, Billy, you should stop by Caring Hands. See what good comes out of treating a symptom."

Somehow, Billy doubted that spending a day with the broken people left as debris in the wake of mankind would make him feel better. But Penny was offering to spend time with him outside of the laundromat, in a place where she had had dinner with Captain Hammer. It would be sheer idiocy to refuse her.

"When do you work there? I'll see if I can stop by."

"I'm there whenever they need me, really. There's not a schedule. But I'll definitely be there tomorrow for most of the day."

Billy's only job at the moment was being horrible, which did not set have work hours. Tomorrow, he decided, he would be taking a vacation. "What time would I be most useful?"

Penny smiled. A new volunteer! "Well, we'll have to be careful with that arm, but you can still help set tables and serve food. Do you think you can be there around eleven?"

"Sure, I'll be glad to help. Treating a symptom is better than just being angry."

"Thanks, Billy Buddy. And look after yourself, okay? Don't do anything rash."

Billy nodded, taking his laundry basket under his good arm. "I'll see you tomorrow, Penny." God, that felt good to say! "And thank you for all the help, and the yogurt."

He walked out the door that Penny held open for him and floated home, not feeling the aches of Captain Hammer's attack. A warm sensation coursed through his veins, something he had not felt since that day so long ago when Penny- whose name he did not even know yet- casually smiled at him. Such a small word, but powerful enough to erase even Bad Horse from his mind: hope.

What do you think of chapter one? Please tell me, because I'm really unsure about this piece. I think I'm gonna hold Chapter 2 until I get at least 5 reviews, so if you want more, TELL ME! (Or if you want me to take this down and die.)

PS. If I personally told you to review, please do! :=)

PPS. Wow, now I'm just begging, ain't I? Good thing I have no dignity to lose!