"What are your intentions, Detective Kellerman?"
"Huh?" Mike muttered, watching Penny walk to the very front of the cathedral where the main statue of the Madonna stood, rosary in hand.
"Never mind," he chuckled softly, brushing his hair out of his face.
"He even laughs like Logan," Kellerman thought to himself, turning back to Matt. "So you've known her for a long time?"
"Longer than anyone still alive," was his response as he opened the photo album. The conversation died somewhat after that, the only words spoken were those which explained the pictures on the pages before them. Mike saw photos of Penny as a child, marveling at how light her hair had been back then, all the way to high school. Most of them were in black and white except for the last years of high school, some of which were in color.
"Who took these pictures?" he finally asked, pointing to a few that both he and Pen were in.
"But I thought..."
"She didn't tell you the whole story," Matt explained. "My brother only knew her until she graduated high school...and even then it was peripheral. He knew that she was my friend, but even back then he didn't know her name. I called her Belle to fool my mom...she didn't approve of Penny's antics when we were kids, so she forbade me to talk to her. So I would tell my mom about Penny's latest rebellion, followed by stories of my other, well-behaved friend Belle. She came to believe that two separate girls existed, and by the time she saw Pen again, she had forgotten what she looked like, so she thought that Pen was really a different girl."
"Yeah," Matt began, "Especially in high school. Anything to get on the nuns' nerves. She'd do little things like hemming her skirts a few inches too short. Once she wore a boy's uniform to school...they totally flipped out. She smoked for a little while, more because it was against the rules than anything else...after she stopped she told me that she hadn't really liked it at all."
"Strict school," Kellerman commented.
"Catholic school, go figure," Matt shrugged. "But it was great that she found religion, 'cause I think that God's what helped her get through the hard times. Without that, I'm not sure what would've happened."
After they had gone through the entire book, the two talked quietly in the back of the church while they waited for Penny. The topics varied, from the differences between NYC and Baltimore to recent movies, but the conversation inevitably wandered back to Pen eventually. The more they spoke, the more Mike's affection for her was apparent, and the more Matt liked him. From Kellerman's point of view, not only was Matt a very easy going, nice guy and a close friend of Penny's, he was a link to her past...a way of learning more about her. Matt's stories of their childhood together fascinated him. He could see parts of her personality that survived the test of time, and the parts that had developed into something more than what they had been. He also came to the conclusion that she wasn't so much the rebel anymore, but an individual in a world where people often weren't comfortable enough to be themselves. A strong woman. A self-confident woman. One of the most intriguing and complex he'd ever met.
A few minutes later, Penny walked in front of the altar, bent on one knee and crossed herself, and started walking towards her two friends, as they continued to talk about her. Her curiosity about what they were saying matched Mike's when he was heading for the two friends who had been arguing in French. And much like that instance, the two stopped speaking upon her arrival.
"Said my prayers, so it's time to go."
The two men rose, and Matt Logan walked them to the steps of the church. "I wish you two could've stayed longer."
"You know how the job works," Penny told him.
"Yeah, yeah...and I can stand not hearing from my brother for a while, but..."
"You love your brother and you know it," she grinned, giving him a hug and kiss. "Besides you hear from me at least once a week, so stop griping."
"Nice to meet you, Mike," he said extending his hand. "You're everything Pen said you were, and trust me, that's quite a lot. Keep an eye on her, though, she apt to fly out the window when you're not lookin' and cause some trouble."
"Take care of yourself, Matt," Kellerman replied, returning the handshake.
"Now don't you two get all teary-eyed on me," Pen teased as she began down the steps. "You owe me a visit, boy. I'll be waiting..."
"Soon," Matt promised from the entrance of St. Pat's, waving to the couple until they had crossed the street. "I'll come visit you soon," he repeated to himself, making a mental note to find out how many vacation days he could take. He opened the photo album to the first picture - a small black and white one of a young girl and a young man, barely 6 years old - and smiled.
"That was absolutely fabulous," Penny gushed as they walked out of Carnage Hall. "It's been a while since I've been to a live concert, thanks Mike." She gave him a quick peck on the lips and took his hand.
"Well, if I knew I was going to get a kiss out of if, I would've done it even sooner," he replied, pleased that he had been able to bring her back to NYC and get her the tickets. "You know, Pen, I don't remember ever seeing you this relaxed," he said as they separated from the crowd that was flowing out of the doors of the building. "Music does wonders for you, huh?"
"Why do you think I learned how to play those instruments?"
"'Cause your parents made you."
"True enough," she laughed, "But the reason I continued to play when I grew up was the fact that it sets me free from my troubles...at least while I'm playing."
"And the same thing happens when you hear it."
"Especially if it's live. But if I'm listening to the radio or something, I usually have to get up and dance. I need to interact with the music...I can't just sit there. To truly experience it, I have to feel it with every cell of my body."
"You can't do that by listening?" he asked.
"The first time I hear a piece, I sit there and listen. It's the second or third time I try to bring it to another level. If the music is live though...being performed right in front of me, I appreciate it in a different way, and that way only requires listening."
"I'm sure that makes sense somehow," Kellerman said, shaking his head, "But I have no idea what you're talking about."
"That's ok. You're trying your best, Blondie."
Mike had no idea where they were going, assuming that Penny had some destination in sight. They walked a few blocks, making a turn here and there, before ending up in the center of it all, Times Square.
"I've never been here at night," Mike said as he looked at his surroundings, "It's pretty incredible."
"You ain't seen nothin' yet," was Penny's response as she led him to the Mariot Marquis Hotel.
"What are we doing here?"
They entered the lobby and headed right for the elevators. At the seventh floor Penny jumped out, followed by a slightly disoriented Kellerman, who hadn't expected the elevator to move so fast...or that its walls would be made of glass. She walked down the hall until she came to an escalator which wasn't working. This fact didn't phase her, her pace steady as she jogged up the stairs. Mike caught up with her at the top, where she stopped to wait for him.
"Back when times were hard for me...when money was scarce and friends were few, I used to come up here to get away from it all," she said quietly.
"No...a few hours later than this. When life was starting to get to me, I'd come here right after work."
"Right after stripping," he realized. She cautiously started walking away from the escalator, on what could only be described as a path. Further ahead, it made the shape of a square, with a hole in the middle, before reconnecting to form a large portion of floor. Beyond that, it split in two again, and though the view was blocked from where they were standing, Mike assumed that it ended in some kind of semicircle that attached the paths together. Beneath them were tables and chairs, a bar...in other words, a restaurant. They walked past the square, where both sides of the path had a large bench of sorts, made up of small, square pieces of furniture pushed together to form a rectangle, and continued past the section of floor that had a scattering of black leather easy chairs and couches. By that point, Mike noticed that the wall they were approaching was completely made of glass. He followed her to the point which was obstructed from view before, discovering that the path did form a semicircle like he thought. But the view was something he couldn't have begun to imagine. Through the panes of glass, all of Times Square was at their disposal - the flashing lights, the doll-like people, the never-ending sea of buildings all lay before them.
Penny leaned over the silver banister of the glass barrier that outlined both sides of the path and placed both of her palms on the cold glass windows. "If you lean over like this, you feel like you're flying."
Hesitantly Kellerman followed her example, pushing off the window to return to a standing position after only a few seconds. "Falling is more like it."
"Falling," she repeated thoughtfully, leaning over even further, so her head would rest between her hands.
"Stop it," Kellerman said nervously, grabbing the back of her coat and pulling her back to the ground.
"I've fallen before, Kellerman. It's not as bad as you'd think."
He didn't respond, keeping his hand on the small of her back so as to stop her from getting another close look at the city.
"Besides, nothing will happen here. It's safe. Even if I did fall over the railing, the glass would stop me. That's the trick...the glass. I can fly over the city here." She reached behind her and removed his hand from her coat. "Don't take that from me."
He turned away as she repeated her previous action, not wanting to watch. "Be careful, ok?"
"You afraid of heights of somethin', Kellermiester?" she asked, calling him by the nickname she often heard Meldrick use, hoping that it would calm him down. His discomfort wasn't totally unexpected, after all, she had been dragging him around unfamiliar surroundings all day. She never felt completely at ease when walking through strange territory, whether she was with a guide or not. And here it was late, after he had stayed up last night and woke up early at her whim...and she was in her own element while he wasn't...and now she was doing something that wasn't particularly safe...and he'd seen her fall before...
"Let's go back to the boat," she said, trying to hide her disappointment as she climbed back to the ground.
"No, you want to stay, we'll stay," Mike replied, turning around to face her.
"Nah, I'm done here," she said, starting to leave.
"Wait." He grabbed her arm as she brushed past him, pulling her back to face him. "If you want to stay, we'll stay."
"I just wanted to show you this," she gestured towards the city that stood on the other side of the thick glass. "You've seen it, we can go." She shook his hand off her arm and started back the way they came.
"I didn't mean to take anything away from you," he called after her.
"You told me not to take that away from you."
Penny's irritation wasn't based on logic, but despite the fact, she couldn't help but feel that way. "Whatever. You didn't take anything away from me. Let's just go."
They left the hotel without speaking. They took a cab back to the marina without speaking. They walked down the dock without speaking. Penny stewed in her own annoyance all the while, and Kellerman tried to figure out where exactly he had gone wrong...and what he could do to remedy the situation.
"It really was fantastic," he finally exclaimed.
"What?" she snapped, not turning around as she walked a few steps ahead of him.
"The view, the city, the day...everything."
Penny sighed, stopping at his boat. She was being ridiculous, or more precisely, she was being a bitch. "It was. Thanks." She stepped onto the boat, followed by Kellerman. They walked into his cabin, Penny hanging up both their coats before she sat on the edge of his still unmade bed. "Now what?"
"'Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?'"
"Why?" she asked suspiciously.
"Would you like to?"
"Mike, the day I ever call you the devil, is the day..."
"I'll take that as a yes."
He lead her onto the deck, neither of them wearing their coats, and took her in his arms. Her silver dress pajamas reflected the city's lights like a lake...a lake that lay perfectly still, with a smooth surface that looked solid enough to stand on, whose ability to reflect objects put any man-made mirror in the world to shame. He was wearing his black suit, his light blue shirt, and his black tie with the thin gray stripes - a stripe, an inch of black, another stripe, then three inches of black and the pattern started all over again. It was cold to say the least, but it was kinda fun dancing in the moonlight. Kinda romantic. And even though the light wind coming from the sea struck the couple like a thousand needles, it only helped to enhance the mood, causing the movie-like effect of wisps of hair tickling the air around them.
"Why are you so good to me?" Penny asked as they swayed to the silent music only they could hear.
"Because it's so easy."
"I wouldn't go that far."
"Ok, so it takes a little imagination on my part. So what? I like doing things for you...I like doing things with you..."
"Come on, Pen. Tell me that no one has ever done stuff like this for you before."
"You're beginning to sound like Plain Jane who sits in the back of class in high school and never had any dates, or something. That's not you."
"I'm not an easy person to love, Mike," she blurted out, looking him straight in the eye.
He stopped swaying for a moment, startled by her words, but picked it back up almost immediately. "Who ever said that?" he inquired with an uncomfortable laugh.
"You want the first one or the last one?" Her eyes moved to look just past his shoulder, into the void of her own mind. "My father was the first...when I was little. I was being difficult, as small children are prone to be, and he told me that I wasn't an easy girl to love. Since then, almost every man I've ever met has said that in one way or another, the most recent being Medil. You can only hear something so many times before you begin to believe it..."
Kellerman couldn't believe anyone could say that kind of thing to Penny, or anyone in general for that matter. It was so subltely cruel that it could attack a person's self-esteem without the person knowing it, that is, until the person began to believe it.
"Therefore, since all these different people agree on that fact alone, it must be true."
"Pen," he said, waiting for her to look at him before continuing, "Falling in love with you is one of the easiest things I've ever done." He had started the sentence not knowing where it was going, and the rest of it had spilled out unexpectedly. He hadn't meant to say that aloud.
"You love me?"
"Yeah," he replied with an embarrassed smile.
She broke away from him and walked to the edge of the boat. For a split second he thought that she was going to jump in, but quickly shook that notion out of his head. Still, this wasn't the kind of reaction he figured on. He'd only said "I love you" to two other women his whole life - his high school girlfriend, though later he reasoned that it was more lust than anything else, and Annie. And their responses were a hell of a lot better than Penny's was turning out to be. He stood rooted to his spot, waiting for some kind of sign from her...any kind of sign at all. It seemed like years, no decades, before she finally turned around.
"Let's go inside," she said quietly.
Inside...where it was warm...inside...where it was private...inside....where the bed was... "No," he told himself, "Stop it right there. She's a Catholic, remember? A strict Catholic. And besides, you didn't want to rush into anything..." "Inside?"
"Yeah," she said, her voice a little stronger now, as if she came to some kind of decision. There was something different about her as she walked into the cabin. Something in her eyes that wasn't there before...but before Kellerman could make any sense of it, she reached up and initiated a long, deep kiss. To a laymen, only accustomed to the exaggerated desire of soap opera characters, the kiss wouldn't have looked like much. But their passions ran deeper than any one-dimensional figure's did, and the fact that they didn't tear each other's clothes off didn't make the kiss any less ardorous. Penny moved her face away from his so she could see his eyes glitter in the darkness, to see if he meant what he had said. And though she saw his carnal cravings first, a closer look opened up another window, behind which lay the love he spoke of. Meanwhile, Kellerman searched for a hint to what she was feeling. She had stirred a fire in him that hadn't been rekindled in a long while, and he wanted to make sure that the night wouldn't end up as nothing. Because he had learned that when there was no love to make, all you'd make in the end was nothing. And then you'd feel worse than before.
She smiled a little when she found what she was looking for in his eyes, and went right to work loosening his tie. He leaned over and kissed her as she did, reasoning that she didn't need to see what she was doing...and he certainly wouldn't object to her feeling her way around. Off with the tie, off with the suit jacket, off with the blue shirt she liked so much...it was only when she came to his undershirt that Mike stopped himself. After he pulled it over his head and Penny, who was still fully dressed, had ran her fingers over his bare chest, he pulled away. He still didn't know if she really wanted to do this...he was raised Irish Catholic for God's sake, he knew what the church had to say about premarital sex. It didn't matter so much to him, but it might to her...and he'd never forgive himself if she woke up the next morning regretting what they did.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked, backing up a good foot away as he tried to catch his breath, as he tried to restrain himself from touching her until he got a response.
She walked towards him unhurriedly, her hips swaying from side to side with each step. Cupping his face tenderly, she brushed her lips against his, and once again pulled her face back a few inches from his, this time so he could take a good look at her. He understood what she was doing, and saw her unspoken consent in her expression. As he wrapped his arms around her, preparing to pick up where they had left off, she turned her head and promised softly into his ear, "I'll take your breath away."
Penny awoke to a sensation that she hadn't felt in a long time. In fact, it took her a few minutes of thoughtful deliberation before she could make sense of her situation. As sleep left her for parts unknown, she became increasingly aware of this sensation. It wasn't a smell...a taste, a sound, a sight...it was a touch. She had woken up in someone's arms. As soon as she figured it out, she immediately knew whose arms she was in. Penny smiled to herself, as she took her analysis a step further, realizing that the touch was skin against skin, in more places than one. She reveled in the feeling a while longer, trying to picture in her mind how they lay in the bed, using merely her body to decipher their positions in relation to each other. She was on her right side, her legs skillfully tangled around his right leg...her left arm draped lazily over his chest, and her right resting comfortably under the pillow upon which her head sat. She could feel his arm...she was guessing that it was his left arm, assuming that he was lying flat on his back...holding her near him, slipped carefully around her body at her waist. Penny opened her eyes slowly, surveying the scene with her eyes, and noted with pleasure that she had been able to "see" it accurately without the use of sight. She wanted to move, but hesitated, afraid of waking up her lover in the process. She picked up her head off the pillow, straining her neck in vain to find a clock before giving up. She decided on another method of time approximation - finding the sun in the sky and working from there. Of course, the blinds only allowed slits of light in, so she couldn't get a clear view of the sky. Finally, after once again picking up her head, this time to observe the shadows on the deck, she decided that it was probably about 10 or 11. Then again, what did she know?
Penny watched Kellerman sleep. She was surprised by the fact that he didn't snore...it had been her experience that most men did. Not Mike, though, he simple inhaled and exhaled, barely making any sound at all. Studying his face in sleep, she noticed there was a quiet tranquillity that didn't exist in him while he was awake. Penny found this newly found peace captivating, making her love him all the more. Shortly after her discovery, Mike began to stir. His eyelids fluttered open, glancing at the ceiling for an instant before they turned towards Penny. Blue staring at blue, the ocean meeting the sky...their eyes locked for a full minute, allowing wordless feelings of love and devotion to pass between them.
It was Penny who broke the spell, pulling herself into a sitting position as she untangled her legs from his, holding the sheet up to cover her bare breasts. "You are so beautiful..." she started as she brushed some stray hairs out of his eyes. And he was, in that moment, so beautiful and so perfect in her eyes that she couldn't bring herself to continue speaking. His hair was of the purest gold in the sunlight that had maneuvered its way through the blinds, his eyes deep with the hue and mystery of the sea. There were the scattering of freckles on his face...the ones that were so light you had to look twice to make sure they really existed...and that smile, his boyish grin with a twinge of dimples and the gap between his two front teeth...he was flawless.
"I thought I was supposed to say that to you," he replied in jest, rolling onto his side and facing her. He noticed that one item had remained on her the whole night through - her necklace. He was delighted that she hadn't taken it off, as if the gesture held some deep meaning about their relationship.
"I've never been one to follow the rules," she shot back playfully.
"And you decided to become a cop anyway..."
"It's more fun to break the rules when you know which ones they are."
Kellerman chose not to continue their banter, remaining silent for the time being.
"So what now?" Penny asked after a minute or so.
"Now? Now we have a few hours of free time before we start heading back..." he said, pulling her arm so she would lay down beside him.
"You know I'm not staying with you tonight," she informed him mildly as she followed his lead and returned to a reclining position, propping her head on her bent arm and hoping that he wouldn't be too put out about it.
He wasn't surprised by her statement. "I know."
"...because I wouldn't get any sleep if I did..." she continued.
Mike's lips moved to form a seductive smile. "I know," he repeated, this time with something of an alluring tone of voice.
Penny paused, fully understanding what was on his mind, but wanting to tease him further. "So what are we going to do until we have to go back?"
Kellerman knew the game she was playing, the same kind of back-and-forth conversation had occurred between him and Annie on a number of occasions, though he couldn't say that his ex-wife had been even half as bewitching as his present girlfriend. "I don't know. You have any ideas?"
He was trying to outsmart her, and she wasn't about to let him. "Nope. I guess I'll go take a shower then." She moved to get up, but expected him to stop her, which he did a moment later.
"I have an idea," he said, giving up this round. There would be plenty of time for him to win later.
"And that would be...?" she asked innocently, lying back down beside him, waiting expectantly for him to make the first move.
He propped himself up on his left elbow and leaned over to kiss her. She accepted the kiss, reaching up to pull the rest of him towards her, thankful that they had a few hours to enjoy each other's company...intent on making full use of them.
Hi everyone! Hope you're enjoying the story so far! Just a few more announcements before I slink off into the sunset and start my summer session at school.
First of all, I just want to say that the Mahoney shooting has no place in my fanfic. In fact, not even the dreaded Luther Mahoney himself will make an appearance. I've toiled over the idea of working with the incident time and time again...and came to the conclusion that it's simply too complicated to deal with. At first, I was going to make it a clean shooting (ie Kellerman admitted it all in the beginning), but then I had to wonder if Meldrick still would've abandoned him...if Georgia Rae still would've waged war on them...if Junior Bunk would shoot up the squadroom...it's too much. Too much to ponder, too much aftermath to deal with. So as far as this story is concerned, Luther Mahoney who?
Also, I'd like to say thank you to my very good friend, and Homicide convert (thanks to my obsessing!), Karen. She translated (and will in the future, little does she know) some of the fanfic into French for me. She says that it may not be perfect, but since I know about as much French as Logan does, I'll take what I can get.
I'll try not to take so long working on the next section.
And have a nice day. :)