Penny changed dramatically over the next few days. Although her person was never completely void of black, her clothing began to show splashes of color here and there. She was quiet, though, and her jokes didn't have their usual edge. But there was a definite improvement in attitude, and she had even made a brief visit to the Waterfront one night. She was slowly but surely coming out of the shell of guilt and grief she had created.
Exactly 5 days after Kellerman had his "talk" with Penny, Logan came in with a grin so wide, it could've been used to cross the Hudson River. He refused to answer any questions without a lawyer present, and though everyone's interest was piqued, they eventually left him to bask in his own secret. Around 2 o'clock or so, his secret was revealed, and his plan to cure Penny of the blues was put to the test.
She was in the coffee room, taking a late lunch break when Lennie Briscoe walked in.
"Hey, kid. Long time no see."
"Lennie," she said with a smile. "What are you doing here?" She got up and hugged her old partner.
"I had some vacation coming...I can never think of a place to go. So I thought, 'What the hell, I might as well visit Baltimore for a few days.'"
"But why now?" She asked, her suspicion growing by the minute. "Why did you choose this particular week?"
"My new partner is driving me crazy," he confided in her.
Lennie could never keep anything from Pen...she was the daughter who didn't hate him, unlike the two real daughters he had. "And Mikey called me up and asked if I could come down." She was about to yell at him when he stopped her. "But I didn't come alone..."
Logan took his cue, and entered the room with a baby asleep in a carrier, the rest of the shift behind him. With this motion, the child woke up and looked at them. At that moment, whatever part of Penny's heart that was still frozen with guilt and anger melted in a second. She lifted the child out of the carrier and held her close.
"And who is this precious little thing?" she asked.
"That's my granddaughter - Julia's daughter."
"She's so beautiful...but what, you asked to borrow her for a week, or something?"
Briscoe laughed. "Nah. Julia needed a break from the kid, and Logan said that you needed a reminder, so I figured this little bundle of joy would do the trick."
Penny handed over the child to her grandfather and a number of her fellow officers circumvented her to play with the baby. Kellerman lingered by Mike and Penny as she turned to Logan.
"I had forgotten."
"I know," he replied.
Pen reached up and hugged her old friend, who knew what it took to make things right.
"'If you're lost you can look and you will find me,'" he whispered in her ear.
She stepped out of the embrace with a look of pleasure on her face and finished the line, "'Time after time.'"
"Always and forever, Babe."
Gee, after noticing that the squad room was bare, had wandered in on the scene. "Detective Briscoe, how nice to see you again."
"Same here, Lieutenant."
"But I believe that everyone else has some work to do," he continued. "And I'm sure that I don't have to remind anyone that red names do not change to black by themselves."
Everyone took the hint, leaving Penny to finish her lunch and talk to Lennie. "So, what's her name?"
"You're gonna love this one, Graham. Remember how you were talking about the perfect name for a cop's kid?"
"Yeah...that was a while ago...I said..."
"You said that the perfect name would be Miranda..."
"Because of the Miranda warning...wait, Julia didn't..."
"I told her that story right after we had that conversation. I told her that I should've named her that. Well, she liked the name so much that she decided that if she ever had a daughter, she'd name her Miranda."
"You are too much, Len, you know that?" she giggled. "And why do you have a new partner, whatever happened to Profa...wait a minute, when he gets married, he's outta there, isn't he?"
"Another one of you leaving me in New York for Charm City. The department decided that I'd get a new partner starting in January, and Profaci could help break him in until he leaves," Lennie explained.
"Why don't you like this new guy?"
"God, Pen, it's awful. Not only is this kid greener than a Christmas Tree, but he's some kind of techno wizard."
"Techno wizard?" she inquired.
"Yeah, he has all these new fangled gadgets. He carries around this cell phone, and a laptop computer..." Lennie shook his head. "I have enough trouble with typewriters."
Penny glanced at her watch. "Look, I gotta get back to work. You have a place to stay down here?"
"Logan said I could stay with him."
"You haven't seen the size of his apartment." She rolled her eyes as she spoke. "Why don't you stay with us? We have a house...complete with a fold out couch."
"Well, if Logan asks, you twisted my arm."
She handed over her keys, gave him the address, and had a couple of uniforms drop him off, instructing him to make himself at home. When Penny returned to her desk, she realized that the weight that had been lessened a few days earlier was now completely gone. She was happy. And for that, she was thankful.
"For God's sake, Pen, put some pants on."
Mike Logan waited on the couch for Penny's return as she ran upstairs to her room. They were the only two in the house, save Miranda sleeping in her carrier a few feet away from him on the coffee table. Mik and Tara took Lennie out shopping, much to his dismay, in order to give Penny some time alone with the baby. They didn't know what it was about the child that had healed the wound caused by Tommy's death, but they figured that she should spend as much time with Miranda as possible. Of course, as usual, Logan went and ruined their plans...but Penny figured what her roomies didn't know wouldn't hurt them. Besides, she had invited Kellerman over...of course, she told him to come around 4, to give her some time with the child, and Logan had showed up at two.
And here it was 3:30, and Logan was yelling at her. On the way back to the living room, she unlocked the door, so when Kellerman got there, he could just come in as she had instructed him to. "That good enough for ya?"
She was wearing a man's white dress shirt that just about covered her butt, and had added a pair of plaid boxers to put her friend's mind at ease.
"Don't you own any of your own clothing?"
"The boxers are mine. And I like this shirt...I think it's Profaci's..."
"Does he know you still have it?"
She thought for a moment. "I didn't even know that I still had it until today, so I'd have to say no."
"What am I going to do with you?" he shook his head at her. She sat next to him on the couch, leaning against the armrest in the corner, and faced him. She shrugged her shoulders and gave him a playful smile. What could he do but smile back? "I'm glad to see you're feeling better."
"Thanks to you," she said.
"And Kellerman," he reminded her.
But she was far from forgetting that fact. "And Kellerman."
"You wanna tell me about it?"
She considered his question carefully...after all, she had felt totally exposed that night, and she wasn't sure if she was ready to do something like that again. But this was her best friend she was talking to. "Do you really want to know?"
"Of course, Tink."
"I don't know what it was he did...something he said? I was lost, Mike. Trapped in a tunnel of grief. There was no way out. And I was feeling so sorry for myself that I couldn't begin to think of anyone else. But Kellerman snapped me back into reality." She smiled as she recalled that night. "He basically said that I was being a proud little bitch and I should cut the act."
"I'm sure he didn't use those words."
"'Course not, Robin. I would've kicked his ass if he did. But you're missing the point. He called me Penelope, Mike. I never thought that my name could sound so beautiful...then he told me that he knew me." She paused and looked Logan in the eye. "And I cried. I cried and cried and cried...and it's funny. He let me. He just stood there and held me...and he let me cry."
Mike understood where she was coming from. Penny had cried exactly once in front of him. It had been after a long hard week of work, and a particular case had really been bothering her. It happened to everyone in Homicide once in a while. She burst into tears at his apartment, and he did what he could to comfort her - he told her that everything was going to be all right, he said, "shhhhhhhh" a number of times - but that only made her angry. She yelled that everything wasn't going to be all right...and that she didn't want to shush. She left his apartment in a huff, him realizing his mistakes too late. She had never cried in front of him again. "He's a hell of a lot better with you than I am."
"I wouldn't say that..."
"Why not? It's true."
"Do you remember that day we sat down and made those lists?"
"You mean those lists of what we were looking for in a significant other?" he asked, vaguely remembering the event.
"Yeah. Most of the stuff I wrote was simple, but my top three have never been fulfilled by anyone. Not even you. And I always thought that was because my standards were too high, but now I'm wondering if maybe they're possible."
"I always thought they were, Pen. I'm a guy, so I'm supposed to tell you that you should settle for what you can get, but I won't. In fact, maybe I should've said this a long time ago - All those guys you've gone out with...I never thought they were quite good enough for you. You shouldn't settle. You should get what you want. You're wants and needs aren't impossible to satisfy, you just haven't found someone that can."
"Until maybe now...'He should make me laugh, but let me cry.' So far, Kellerman's the first to meet that one." Miranda began to cry at that moment, and Penny got up and carefully lifted her up. "What's the matter, honey. Are you hungry?"
"Maybe she has to be changed," Mike suggested.
"No, her diaper's ok. Here, hold her while I heat up some formula." She handed the baby over to Mike, who was wearing a worried expression.
Pen headed for the kitchen, and just when she was about to bring the bottle back to the living room, Mike appeared. "Almost ready?" he asked, the worry no longer present on his face.
"Yup," she replied, leading him back to the living room. He sat on the couch and held the bottle as Miranda ate her lunch. "You men," Penny observed, "Are always scared to death to hold a baby, but once you have one in your arms, you're completely confident."
"That's because you women are the ones that get to carry them for 9 months, so you must have more experience than we do," Logan shot back.
Penny was silent until he finished feeding Miranda. After he burped her, he stood up her carrier so she'd be in a sitting position, and played with her. "You'd make a good daddy."
As she made this statement, Kellerman walked in. He had noticed Logan's car out front, so wasn't surprised to find the two of them inside. He didn't want to interrupt them however, so he hung back and listened to their conversation.
"No way, Pen. You know how it works. Parent hits child, child grows up and has children...child hits children. Those children grow up..."
"No, never. You'd never do that. In all the time I've known you, you have never raised a hand to me. You'd never hit a woman, and we're a lot tougher than children, so I'd have to say you'd never hit a child."
"You can't break the cycle, Pen. Anyway, I wouldn't want to chance it and find out. But you on the other hand...you'd make one hell of a mommy."
"Oh yeah. My parents were just as bad as yours and you know it," she retorted, but regretted it as soon as she said it. "Wait, I didn't mean it. My parents weren't as bad as yours. They were the exact opposite...but that doesn't mean they were right."
Mike sat back and sighed. "We're both going to be screwed up parents, aren't we?"
"Not if we learn from our parents' mistakes."
"Why do you have to be right all the time?" he asked.
"Because I'm the smarter one," she replied.
Before she could move, Logan grabbed her and tickled her. She began to laugh uncontrollably, threatening him between gasps for air. When he finally let her go, she fell off the couch.
"I'm going to get you for that."
"Try and catch me," he challenged, jumping up and running towards the kitchen.
Penny leapt up a moment later, and as she sprang over the couch, noticed Kellerman for the first time. "Hey, Kellerman. Excuse me for a minute."
Kellerman chuckled as he heard pots crash, followed by Mike running back to the living room with Penny on his tail. She finally managed to knock him over, pinning him down on the ground. Both were out of breath, and Mike's hair was tousled. As Penny held his arms down, straddling his stomach, she whispered something that made him laugh. She got off of him and was about to greet Kellerman properly when Logan knocked her to the ground.
"Dammit, Mike, how many pounds have you gained?" she groaned as he rolled off of her.
"Apparently too many," he said, helping her up. "And now," he addressed the couple, "I think I'll try to go find Lennie and the girls...God knows he's probably in shopping shock." He gave his Penny a kiss and was out the door.
"Come," Penny instructed as she sat down on the couch. "Sit."
Mike took of his coat and threw it on the easy chair. He leaned over and gave Penny a kiss before sitting next to her. "Hey, pretty Penny, how are ya?"
"I'm fine, how are you?"
"How long were you standing there?" she asked.
"I heard you two talking about your parents."
"Ah, our parents. Between the Logan family and the Graham family, it's a sad subject indeed." She glanced at the now sleeping infant before continuing. "Curious about my family, Mike?"
"Only if you comfortable talking about them."
She nodded. "Good answer. It gives me an out. I'm not going to take it, but it was nice to have the option. Before I continue, however, I'd like to remind you that curiosity killed the cat."
"If you don't want to tell me..."
"I guess I've put it off long enough, and now is as good a time as any. My mother was French, as you already know, and my father English. My mom played the violin, and my dad was a businessman...don't ask me what business, I really don't know. They met in New York, fell in love, got married, and decided to have children. Enter me. The problem with my parents is the fact that they liked the idea of having children, but they weren't sure what to do with me once they had me." She shrugged at the idea. "I was almost like a toy. Something to mold in their image...it was decided that I was going to follow in my mother's footsteps and become a musician, so the lessons began when I was young - twice a week for the guitar, piano, and violin, with voice lessons once a week, usually the same day as one of my violin lessons. The voice lessons weren't so much so I could be a singer, they were to teach me how to use my voice as yet another instrument."
"How long did they last?"
"The lessons? By the time I was in high school, there was nothing left to teach me, so they stopped. I continued to practice though, and because of those lessons, I found it easy to pick up melodies off the radio. I can read sheet music, but if I hear a song a number of times, it's just as easy for me to play it...but I'm losing sight of the subject. My mother traveled and played with different orchestras...in fact, I spent a year in France when I was little. By the time I was in 6th grade, I was no longer a child, but a young adult. My parents didn't know what to make of me...so they didn't make anything. They traveled more, and I stayed behind in our lower east side apartment. It allowed me tons of freedom, which was a both a blessing and a curse. I only really started getting to know my parents right before they died. We had gone through almost a year of not talking prior to that, due to my choice of career."
"You didn't turn out the way they wanted," he said.
"No, I was my own person. It took them a while to understand that."
"I'm lucky, my parents were always close at hand. My mom was home all the time, and even though my dad was always tired from work, he tried to spend time with my brothers and sister and me."
"You have brothers? And a sister?" Penny was surprised he hadn't mentioned them before.
"Two older brothers, Drew and Greg. A younger sister Kate."
"I guess you were never lonely, then."
"Not really...Drew and Greg spent most of their time trying to get in trouble, while I spent most of my time trying to stay out of trouble. And Kate held her own against us when we tried to gang up on her."
"But I bet you guys protected her, huh?"
"Hell yeah. Nobody messed with our sister and got away with it," he laughed. Miranda stirred at the noise, but remained asleep. The two looked at her for a minute before Kellerman remembered the question that had been nagging at him since the baby's appearance. "I've been meaning to ask you," he said, lowering his voice, "What had you forgotten?"
"They day Lennie showed up...you said to Logan that you had forgotten."
Recognition crossed her face, "Oh, that. It's kinda silly...it happens to me sometimes, especially because of our line of work...I had forgotten life."
"I mean," she continued, trying to explain herself, "I'm surrounded by so much death all the time that I forget about life."
"No, I understand. It make sense," he reassured her, leaning forward. "How are you doing now, Pen?"
"I'm fine, really. And I've been meaning to thank you for that." He started to protest, but she stopped him. "No, Mike, this is important. First I was introduced to Julianna, then Lance came back to see me...Tommy dying like that...no, Tommy being murdered like that was the last straw. Something snapped, and I sunk so far down in this well of darkness that I couldn't find my way out. I died that night, and was only going through the motions of being alive until you followed me to the cemetery. You reminded me of who I was - stupid me I had forgotten that too - but not only that, you reminded me that there are people out there who care about me."
"I did all that?" he asked in disbelief. "I don't think I can take that much credit."
"But you did, Kellerman. I don't know how, but somehow you managed to get through to me in a way that no one else was able to," she paused and frowned for a moment. "For the life of me I can't figure it out. And even when I started to break down, you didn't make me fell weak..."
"What...because you cried? That's ridiculous."
"Oh really? And when was the last time you cried, Michael Scott?" she asked with amused seriousness.
"That has nothing to do with anything, and you know it," he replied, privately enjoying the fact that she had called him by his full first and middle names.
She sighed and sat back against the arm rest. "It has everything to do with it. I was never one of those girls who cried all the time - you know the kind I mean - but on occasion I'd have myself a good cry. Once I became a cop, I knew that had to change. It's not so much that I cried less, it's that I made sure never to get upset in front of my fellow police officers. And when I made it to Homicide...forget it. It was hard enough to get the guys to accept me as an equal without me bursting into tears during a heart-wrenching case or breaking up with a boyfriend. I made myself stronger than before, and unfortunately, it became part of my life both on and off the job." She paused to think of those first few months of Homicide before continuing. "Since then I've wept on very few occasions, and even then I always felt like I was being weak and caving in. I guess I adopted the attitude I felt the other detectives did."
"Penny, you're a very smart woman, but that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my entire life. There's absolutely no shame in letting your emotions out, whether it be in the form of laughter or tears."
"That's the funny thing, Mike. I feel exactly the same way when it comes to everyone else, but when it comes to me I change the standards..."
"That stops here and now. Promise me that you won't hide your feelings from me."
"That's preposterous, Mike..."
"Promise me," he repeated seriously.
"Ok, fine. But only if you promise me the same thing."
"Fine," she restated. There was a silence between them that filled the room, and for the next 10 minutes they said nothing to each other. "You were really worried about me, weren't you?" she asked, this time being the curious one.
"Yeah. Me, Mik, Tara, Logan, and the entire squad room."
"What the heck is that supposed to mean? You were the one lost in the Black Lagoon, or whatever, of course you weren't worried," he said.
"Yes, but is it worse to be looking for someone who is lost, or actually being lost yourself?" He moved to answer, but she wouldn't let him. "To be honest, I don't know. I won't make that kind of judgment. But there's one thing that I learned from my experiences always holds true."
"'Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.'"
"Thank God for that," Kellerman commented, and the two spend the rest of the afternoon taking care of the baby together.
Just to remind y'all, school is still in session. And during Winter Break I get to work, work, and work some more. I've started the next section, but it'll be a while until I finish it. So keep an eye on my homepage, and stay tuned...