Disclaimer: The greatness that is Dr. Horrible does not remotely belong to me, and I intend to return the character in more or less the same condition that I found them.
A/N: Beta'd by HyperCaz. Thanks!
"No sign of Penny, good. I would give anything not to have her see—"
Penny was back against the wall, crouched low, trying so very, very hard to be invisible. She started when she heard her name. Surely this—lunatic—didn't mean her? How many Pennys could there be here?
"It's gonna be bloody, head up Billy Buddy, there's no time for mercy."
Billy Buddy. No.
Penny could see the resemblance now. He looked different, with those ridiculous goggles on his head and his eyes possessed with something she couldn't place. Penny could see him now, really see him, for the first time. Words, fragments flashed through her mind. "My thinking is, why not cut off the head?" "I meant, Gandhi." "There's this job—"
"Here goes no mercy!" Dr. Horrible had his death-ray leveled at the still-frozen Captain Hammer. Was he hesitating? Then his head turned slightly, and Penny knew that he'd finally seen her.
"No," she mouthed. She'd have liked to shout it, but her throat had gone dry as death, and she had no air in her lungs to say it anyway.
There was a slight change of expression in his face, a wry twist of his mouth that could have been a smile or a grimace. Then he turned back to his nemesis, and fired.
Penny wasn't quite sure what happened next. She thought the gun might have exploded—that would account for the burst of noise, and the shockwave that threw her against the wall. Her vision went dark as she blacked out for a second.
Someone started to scream, and Penny knew with a sudden certainty that Captain Hammer was dead. That didn't bother her as much as she thought it would. She lay slumped against the wall for a moment, considering this. The screaming continued though, and Penny groggily decided she should try and help whoever it was. Actually, it was several people by now. The hall had been almost empty, but there where still about a dozen people strewn about the hall, and they where all starting to panic.
When she stood up, the first thing that Penny noticed was that part of the roof had caved in. For a second all she could do was stare in horror. The police and paramedics where already there, and they where loading people on to stretchers and carrying them to waiting ambulances. Penny barely even saw them. She'd finally found what she was looking for-- a crumpled, white-clad figure on the floor below the podium.
She picked her way across the hall to him. He was half-covered by a large piece of podium, but from what Penny could see it had actually protected him from the falling plaster. She lifted it off of him with a strength she didn't know she possessed, and knelt down in the rubble beside him.
Penny reached out and touched his face, wincing in sympathy as her fingertips grazed a darkening bruise above his eye, fingers tracing down his jaw line to settle on his throat. It had been years since Penny had put her CPR training to use, but she could still find a pulse. If there was a pulse to find…
His eyes opened and he gave her a twisted smile.
"Penny," he murmured. "I did it." Then he fainted.
Penny looked down at him, feeling awkward and unsure. Behind her, the paramedics where lifting the body of Captain Hammer onto a stretcher. Penny looked away, but not quickly enough. Her main impression was that there was, indeed, quite a bit of blood, and that was the most she wanted to know. Penny closed her eyes, and waited for someone to help her carry Dr. Horrible--Billy--whatever-- out.
* * *
She didn't have to wait for long. Penny opened her eyes as someone gently tapped her shoulder. It was a thin, apologetic-looking man whose hands left damp patches on Dr. Horrible's lab coat when they carried him out of the hall. There was a battered station wagon waiting for them, and Penny supported all of Horrible's weight for a moment as the man who'd quietly introduced himself as Moist opened the side door.
It took a few moments to maneuver Dr. Horrible into the back seat. Moist slammed the car door, and mumbled something to Penny, then ran back into the building. He came back moments later holding the ray-thing Dr. Horrible had frozen Captain Hammer with. It slipped out of his grasp, and Penny caught it before it could hit the ground.
"Thanks. He'd kill me if I broke it."
"Are you gonna come with us?" Moist asked. Penny didn't know. What else was there to do? She had a feeling that if she went back into the hall she'd be arrested for helping a murderer escape. She'd seen the looks people had given her as she waited by Dr. Horrible, a terrifying mixture of shock, disgust and fear, and she'd known that only her proximity to the Doctor was protecting her. Even unconscious, he had kept the police and reporters away, as if they feared that madness was catching.
Penny made a decision. "I'm coming." She told Moist. He gave a tired, lopsided grin and shuffled to the driver's side. Penny waited him to unlock her door, then collapsed into the passenger's seat. Once in the car she finally let herself give in to exhaustion. Her hands where shaking, and she felt weak and clammy like she was coming down with the flu. Must be shock, she thought.
"Where are you taking him?" Penny asked after a while.
"Back to our place. It's not far." Moist didn't take his eyes off the road. He seemed to be having a problem holding on the steering wheel. Penny wondered if she should offer to drive.
"Do you think he'll be alright?" It was a childish question, but Penny honestly didn't know, and she wasn't even sure of the answer she wanted.
"He always pulls through."
* * *
Dr. Horrible was still out cold in the back seat when the reached the apartment. Moist unlocked the front door, then went in front carrying Dr. Horrible's feet. He pushed a connecting door open with his back and gave a startled grunt as his hands slipped on his friend's boots and almost dropped them. Penny grimly held on to her double fistful of lab coat.
She hadn't been sure what to expect from Billy's house, and even less sure what to expect from Dr. Horrible's. The kitchen and hallway looked like Billy lived there. The living room was Dr. Horrible's domain. The room was dimly lit, but Penny could still see the tubes and random fluorescent wiring that crisscrossed the room. She would have liked to look around more, but Billy was getting heavy, and all she wanted was to sit down and breathe.
"Put him down over here." There was an overstuffed couch in a shocking shade of avocado along one wall. It was easy to set him on it after the ordeal of getting him into the car.
"You okay here?" Most asked her. Penny nodded. "I should go – uh – park the car…"
When Moist was gone, Penny settled a pillow under Billy's head and unbuttoned the collar of his lab coat, then took off his goggles and set them on the computer desk. With the goggles gone Penny had a much harder time seeing him as Dr. Horrible, murderer and villain. Even though he was still wearing the coat, the sight of his face had turned him back in to Billy, laundry-buddy and frozen-yoghurt friend.
Penny shivered. She felt alien and confused. What was she doing here? She had abandoned Captain Hammer, who had after all been some form of boyfriend, in favor of helping his murderer escape. That couldn't have been the right choice. Penny wondered if she should leave now, before Moist returned, but she still couldn't bear to leave Billy like this, bruised and unconscious.
"Penny?" She jumped. He was awake, and staring at her with those intense blue eyes. There was still a touch of insanity in them. Had it always been there? Penny couldn't remember.
"Are you alright?" she asked.
"My head feels like a building fell on it." It was a lame joke even from him, and Penny didn't smile. "What about you?" There was a real concern in his voice that Penny hadn't been expecting.
"I'm fine. What happened Billy? Why—" There where so many possible endings to that question crowding Penny's mind that she didn't even try to finish it. Billy supplied on of the possible questions on his own.
"Why did I kill Hammer? Because I had to; it was going to end like that sooner or later anyway, except it probably would have been me in the body bag."
"But it wasn't just Hammer, Billy. There where dozens of people in that room. How many of them are injured or dead now?"
His eye twitched. "I tried to get as many people out as I could." Penny couldn't answer. "I'll get into the League now, I'll be able to make a difference!"
"The League?" Penny was almost past caring. Almost.
"The Evil League of Evil. I was hoping to get in with my Superhero Bridge dedication plan, but when that, you know, didn't work out, they said the only way in was murder. I didn't want to kill anyone, but then, that day we met Hammer at the Laundromat, he said some things—and there was nothing I wanted more then killing him." It came out in a frenzied, tumbling rush. There was something close to panic in his face, like he knew how close he was to loosing Penny forever.
"Nothing you wanted more? Not even me?" Penny's voice was quiet, blameless, and Billy flinched like she'd slapped him.
"It was for you," he said, voice as soft as hers. "I knew I could never have you as long as he was alive."
Penny blinked. "Is that really what you thought? He didn't own me, Billy, and neither do you." She'd been sitting on her heels next to the couch. Now she stood and glared down at him. "And if you honestly think you do, you're as bad as he is. Was. Whatever."
"I'm sorry!" He floundered for a second. "But really Penny, what kind of a chance did I stand next to him?"
"A good one," she informed him. "I waited for you all day yesterday at the Laundromat. You never came."
There was a noise in the hallway. Moist was back.
"I'll see you later, Billy." Penny didn't look back as she walked to the door, didn't react when she brushed past a startled Moist in the kitchen. And she waited to cry until she reached the street