A/N: Yeah...so I haven't written in months and all of a sudden this idea happened. I can't keep myself from writing it. But I'm happy it came up. Even if there likely aren't many people skulking about this wing of ffdotnet Pardon the grammar. If I think about it too much things never get written, so I tried very hard not to. Anywho, I hope someone out there enjoys this even part as much as I did. :)

So, without any further ado. Five times Penny almost discovered Dr. Horrible, and the one time she did. Takes a bit of a different turn than the movie (obviously), with an unfortunate lack of singing and a lot more character-y...stuff.


Chapter 1: Van


Frowning, clipboard in hand, Penny walked back along the alleyway. As far as first impressions went, that one had certainly been her worst by far. And she couldn't help but feel disappointed at the lackluster encounter. She turned her head to look back, but he—Billy—was already gone. Penny sighed and move on.

It figured. She'd seen him around, Wednesdays and Saturdays as he'd said. She thought he was pretty cute. Yet they'd never spoken before today. Although he had startled her yesterday with a mumbled something or other about the air. She'd just smiled, unsure how to follow up with that and thinking he might be shy, that maybe he didn't quite know how to break the ice; but after today, both with his attention constantly veering from the phone in his hand to something out by a van in the distance, and his derisive dismissal of her endeavor, the red head had decided he was a bit of a jerk.

As for the fish metaphor? Well that was another story completely.

When Penny had recognized him from the laundromat, she'd had some delusions about the two of them hitting it off, maybe making plans to meet somewhere after she was finished volunteering, get to know each other, and maybe, just maybe, one day in the forseeable future, she would find herself swept off of her feet. For real this time.

Clearly he held no interest in taking part in her ridiculous fantasies.

Oh well. She was busy anyways. There was no time for happy endings for those fighting to right the wrongs in the world. It was a mess, after all.

So immersed in her own little world was Penny, that she almost missed the shouts of terror and the crashing of trash cans sounding behind her.

She couldn't move, couldn't even force a scream from her throat as her end barreled ahead full-force to meet her. Not that it mattered, anyway. By the time her brain caught up with what she was seeing, it was already too late. It was over. She would pass along unnoticed, unwanted, and with only a single signature on her petition to show for all her efforts.

Penny's eyes squeezed shut at the last moment. She heard the impact, the loud, dull thunk, coupled with a sharp cracking of the windshield. She felt the air coursing through her hair as her body jerked violently about, and the sudden halt as she landed belly side down...somewhere. There was a squealing sound followed by another crash before the humming of the motor died away into a steamy hiss.

'Dying isn't so bad,' she thought vaguely, still blissfully unaware of the pain her mutilated body must be going through. She must be in shock. Death was turning out to be an unexpectedly pleasant experience. It was very warm. Very soft. Very comforting. And it even smelled of her favorite, fresh scented fabric softener.

Wait. What? That couldn't be right.

Penny's eyes snapped open at once, and a bright white assaulted the entirety of her vision. Her eyelids fluttered, trying to block out the light that seared her overwhelmed senses, but to no avail. It wasn't a light, she found, once her sight sharpened at bit. It was cloth. Intrigued, and still overtaken with shock, Penny unpinned a hand from between herself and the white whatever-it-was to let her fingers skitter reassuringly over the material. It was thick, a bit course, but most importantly it was real. She took a steadying breath and a fistful of the fabric and chanced the opportunity to scope out her surroundings.

Large blotches shrouded her vision, keeping Penny from focusing on more than one detail at a time, but there was a white clad arm curled tightly about her shoulders, a familiar looking phone with some odd pictures she couldn't make out on it, and the steaming, badly beaten in front side of a van.

"You idiot!" an angry voice above her spat out. The stunned red head started at the unexpected sound, and she clenched the cloth more tightly. Looking up, one detail at a time, she could make out messy, dirty blond hair, and a large pair of welding goggles masking her savior's eyes. And he was snarling.

"Dr. Horrible, I should have known you were behind this." This time another voice. Blinking furiously to get the spots out of her eyes, Penny squinted toward the van. It kind of worked. His was a familiar face, in any case. One she had seen on the news countless times before. Captain...something. Her numbed mind didn't feel quite up to the task of remembering, but he was the city hero, that much it afforded her.

"You almost killed her!"

"I remember it differently."

All too soon, Penny's pillar of warmth was gone and her fist filled with nothing but air. She hadn't noticed her legs quaking beneath her until they refused to hold her, abandoning her to her knees on the cold, hard pavement.

Oh look. Those were her pamphlets scattered about everywhere. And that was the metal clip to her clipboard. That must have been what she heard collide with the van. Her eyes trailed after several blank petition forms, the form with one lonely name, and then settled on a single white boot. The splotches were fading away now and Penny watched dumbly as the man in white stomped over to the hero, ranting all the while.

"Is that really the only way you know how to deal with anything? Just bash it in without any regard for the consequences? That's reckless and unprofessional and just plain...uncreative! Those coordinates were preset! Once the van started, it would have stopped here no matter what! This," he waved the phone in the frowning hero's face and pointed to something above the van, "was to make sure that nothing like that," he gestured toward Penny, "would happen. But you ruined it, and I couldn't control it, and someone could have been hurt, and it's all—" he jabbed an angry finger into the larger man's chest "—your—" jab "—fault!" Jab. Then the doctor backed down, somewhat deflated, and added miserably, "Not to mention the Wonderflonium must have bounced; it's probably useless by now..."

The city hero eyed the the shorter man with consideration for a moment before shrugging it off.

"You make a valid point, Doctor."

"Exactly, so nex—" but the threat-to-be was cut off by choking noises and Penny noticed that the hero had the blond by the throat.

"But that's not all I can do! Right, so where were we?"

The captain smirked down at the struggling man, and Penny grasped for the railing behind her. She had to get to her feet. She had to put a stop to this. Somehow.

"It's curtains for you, Dr. Horrible. Lacey, gently wafting curtains."

The doctor stopped struggling for a moment and the captain's eyes flicked behind all the white to lock on Penny's own. He smiled, and she really couldn't help but be captivated by it. Maybe it was just the shock, but no one ever noticed quiet little Penny. And now she was here, in an abandoned alleyway with a smoking van and two notable men who had gone out of their ways to rescue her from it.

"Don't worry, Miss, I'll have this villain locked away soon enough. He won't be hurting you again."

"Don't," she started weakly, wrenching her gaze from dazzling smile to struggling villain. "He saved my life."

The hero frowned, confused at her words, but when Penny's legs gave way again, sending her sliding down the metal railing, he tossed the gasping, oxygen deprived man into the side of the van in favor of aiding her. Later, bundled in the sturdy arms of who she now knew was Captain Hammer, Penny noticed the rear doors of the van swinging open in the wind, but Dr. Horrible was no where to be found.



I don't know about you, but I just love the thought of the Doc ragging Hammer on how to do his job.

Feedback muchly appreciated but not required.

Also, next chapter's way longer. :)