Reach for the Gun
It happens too fast.
It's almost seamless. One second she's serving Sheldon a Long Island ice tea, because getting him drunk is a guilty pleasure of hers. And the next a shot rings out and they're both crouched under the counter. Sheldon must of vaulted right over Penny realizes dimly, but there's a gun, she knows the sound, there's danger, and everything feels like it's happening to someone else and Penny's just along for the ride.
She looks at the glasses behind the bar. She can barely make out the reflection of the silhouettes of the people holding the restaurant up, but the weapons might as well be glowing to her eyes. Penny grew up on a farm, her grandfather had been a soldier. Her father had taken her hunting with the same handgun he'd gone to war with. And that's not counting the riffles, handguns purchased for house protection, and the dozen others weapons that littered her childhood.
She knows guns, they don't really matter. It's the two people holding them that worry her. She's been to the ER enough times because some idiot got his hands on a gun.
One of Sheldon's hands finds hers and Penny finds the death grip comforting. He's something to worry about that isn't herself.
Penny's heart tries to beat it's way out of her chest, but her breathing stays calm, perfectly even. She thinks she might be in shock. Or maybe some delayed denial reaction, Sheldon would know, but there's so much screaming that Penny knows he wont be able to hear her if she tried to ask. And she really must be in some kind of shock because this is so not the time and Penny shouldn't even be thinking about this at all when there are people shooting guns.
This is the cheesecake factory. Penny's worked here for years. This is not the kind if thing that happens at the cheesecake factory.
A voice starts shouting over the din. Penny knows the noise that the person with the gun is making are words, probably in english even, but she can't understand anything through the pounding of her heartbeat in her ears. Sheldon slowly, carefully begins to move, and Penny follows automatically. Like her brain had already made the decision that she goes where he goes, and her body can only follow.
Sheldon raises his hand, and the one he has trapped in his grip comes with. The people are quiet now, the screaming has stopped and now they're on their feet with their hands in the air.
Penny thinks distantly that it looks like a really messed up party. Everyone's hands up in the air and and stalk still because everybody desperately, desperately cares.
The people throwing what is hands down the worst party Penny has ever attended are dressed like burglars straight out of the movies. Who wears Ski masks in California? These two, apparently. One of them is rail thin, even through the baggy black hoody he has on. Penny's familiar with the trick. The thing is, on druggies; crack heads and heroin addicts, baggy clothes doesn't hide their body shapes so much as emphasize them. The other's broader, those are football shoulders, Penny's slept with enough line men to know them.
But her eyes don't linger on the men. They keep sweeping between the guns. Only the thin one knows what he's doing. He holds it with both hands, aims the gun at the center mass of his targets. The other one holds it one handed, his other hand around a burlap sack. Straight from a script, Penny thinks, he holds the gun like it's a prop.
There's more shouting and everyone throws their cellphones to pile at the thin ones feet. Sheldon fumbles, one handed and Penny squeezes his hand reassuringly. Her own hands are steady as they reach for her pocket. She throws the phone, surprised at the ease with which she takes aim.
She keeps waiting for the fear to come. For her hands to shake, the terror freezing the blood pumping through her. But it doesn't. Instead adrenaline sings through her veins. It's like being in Junior rodeo all over again. Waiting with baited breath for the gun to go off, for the timer to start. It's waiting for action, all acute anticipation.
Somewhere in the back of her mind a plan has already taken shape. She just has to wait for her Que, that one perfect moment when it's right to act.
It's too bad Eduardo doesn't know about the plan.
Instead of waiting sensibly for the thin burglar to turn away, one of the bus boys, Eduardo, tries to be a hero. He tries to tackle the broader guy from far too far away. Penny isn't surprised when the gun goes off again.
For a moment she's twelve years old again, and its drunk uncle Carl on the floor and with blood dripping down his chest.
Sheldon let's go of her hand and drops to his knees. The motion drags Penny back to the present and its Eduardo on the floor, blood stain blooming on his chest, Sheldon's ugly jacket had come off as he reached over to apply pressure on the wound.
At least it's not a terrible loss. It had been one hell of an ugly jacket. And wow, again not the time to think about that kind of thing. The kids just been shot in front of her.
Penny's not terribly fond of Eduardo. She doesn't hate him or anything. It's mostly just jealousy. Eduardo's so young and full of energy, just looking at him is enough to make Penny feel tired sometimes. Older somehow, beaten down by life and clinging desperately to her dreams. It doesn't mean he deserves a bullet wound. It doesn't mean he deserves to die.
The taller thin guy keeps the gun aimed at him. Like one shot might not be enough.
Then he moves the gun, points it at Sheldon instead.
It's unacceptable. Sheldon is not Eduardo. Sheldon is not getting shot.
Penny doesn't think. There isn't a thought process attached to tackling the thin guy. It had been part of the plan, but the plan is different now. She doesn't know the rest of it.
At least the guy goes down when she tackles him. She grew up in the heart lands. Baseball may have been her sport of choice, but she'd grown up playing flag football with everyone else. She knows how to tackle someone to the ground. Penny grabs onto the slider of the gun and wretches it straight out of his hands.
Then she whacks him over the head with the butt of it. Penny rolls away, manages to kick the thin guy in the face in a move that makes her really grateful she got into yoga. He lies still.
Penny scrambles away on her knees, all but jumps to her feet.
There's still the broader guy with the gun. If she's honest, she's surprised she hasn't been shot already.
It's instinct. Years of hunting trips plant her feet evenly, both hands grip the gun, and aims it at the center of his head.
There's no time to think. The other gun is coming up.
Penny takes the shot.
Red spreads wetly over his shoulder, he drops the gun. Falling to his knees.
Sheldon, too close, far far too close, long limb-ed and still applying pressure to Eduardo's wound, has the presence of mind to kick it away.
An older woman makes a grab for it.
A moment of silence follows. All anyone manages to do is breathe.
Then, once the realization that the danger has been averted, a muted cheer goes through the crowd.
It sounds like it's coming from really far away. She feels frozen, staring at the body on the ground. Her eyes feel locked onto the bloody shoulder.
Oh, Penny thinks, I missed.
She has to take her finger off the trigger. Her hands still aren't shaking. She'd almost killed a man.
They should be.
So if you guys have read any of my stuff before, you've probably figured out I don't do angst well. It's become a Huge problem. Almost all my on-going fics are at a standstill because I can't get angst scenes right! Heeeeeeeelp! How do you get better at writing this stuff? I know practice and blah blah blah. That's why I'm trying to write this fic. This shit is supposed to be traumatic right? I could still really use any tips you guys have tho, fyi. I have no idea where I'm going with this, except that hopefully it'll be an angst bomb, cuz I really need to learn how to make them. Thanks for reading!