Penny woke up the next day and just laid in bed for a while. When she finally decided to get up, she noticed the black suit jacket hanging on her desk chair. "Whoops," she thought to herself, "I must have forgotten that I had it on." She didn't think much of it, and decided that she could discretely give it back to Mike on Monday. She then began to neaten up her room, which was still a little out of place since last night's 'quest for the black dress.' She went on to eat lunch and curl up with her collection of Poe stories on the couch..
Back at his boat, Mike slept until noon, which was unusual for him. He took his boat out to the middle of the harbor, and thought about nothing in particular. He came back to the docks and that's when he discovered that his black suit jacket was missing. "Damn," he said, "I forgot that she still had it." By now it was mid-afternoon...he was going over his parent's house for dinner, and his mother always went on and on about how good he looked in his black suit, so he wore it whenever he went over there.
Kellerman picked up his phone and dialed Penny's number.
"Mik's Modeling Mayhem, how can I help you?"
Mike almost hung up when he heard the greeting, but then remembered that Penny's roommate Mik had been a model.
"Mik? It's Mike."
Now it was her turn to pause. Mike Logan, or Mike Kellerman? Mik decided that Penny simply had too many friends named Mike. "Kellerman?" she guessed.
"Ooooh," she sighed. "Sorry. I've never talked to you or Logan on the phone before, and I wasn't sure which it was."
"That's ok. Can I talk to Penny?"
"Actually," Mik said, looking over her shoulder, "She's kinda in the middle right now. Do you want me to tell her to call you back?"
"I was just going to ask her if I could pick up my suit jacket," he said.
"Oh, sure. No problem. We're not going anywhere," she replied.
"Great. I'll be there in 20 minutes or so."
Mike hung up the phone, put on an outfit similar to the one he wore the night before, except for the fact he went with a green shirt and a patterned tie. He pulled up in front of their house, and to his surprise, Mik opened the door before he could even ring the doorbell.
"Here you go," she said, handing him the jacket.
"Thanks," he replied, his ears perking up at the sound of music. "That's really beautiful, what CD is it?"
"We don't need CDs when we have Penny." She quietly led him to the living room, which now contained a large grand piano at which Pen was seated. Her fingers nimbly pranced along the keys and her eyes were closed. "If you want to wait, she's almost done."
He was spellbound by the scene, but managed to ask, "How do you know?"
"Because she only plays for so long. Time is almost up."
At that moment Penny stopped, but only for a few seconds before she started a slow, simple melody. "This is the song she always ends with," Mik continued before sitting on the couch to listen. Mike stayed back, leaning against the wall. The sun was setting, and at that particular time, sunlight poured into the room through a large window next to Penny. It shone all around her figure like an aura, and it made her a dark silhouette on a wall. And when Mike didn't think it could possibly get any better, it did. She opened her mouth and began to sing.
WEEPING WILLOWS, CATTAILS, SOFT WINDS, AND ROSES.
RAINBOWS IN THE WOODLAND, WATER TO MY KNEES; SHIVERING, QUIVERING, A WARM BREATH OF SPRING.
WEEPING WILLOWS, CATTAILS, SOFT WINDS, AND ROSES.
CATBIRDS IN CORNFIELDS, DAYDREAMS TOGETHER; RIDING ON THE ROADSIDE, THE DUST GETS IN YOUR EYES.
REVELING, DISHEVELING, THE SUMMER NIGHTS CAN BRING.
WEEPING WILLOWS, CATTAILS, SOFT WINDS, AND ROSES.
PARTIAL NIGHTS, CANDLELIGHT, WOODFIRES ARE BLAZING.
SOFT LIPS AND FINGERTIPS RESTING IN MY SOUL.
TREASURING, REMEMBERING, THE PROMISE OF SPRING.
WEEPING WILLOWS, CATTAILS, SOFT WINDS... AND ROSES...
A small smile appeared on her lips as she hummed the last few bars of the song. She opened her eyes and started to talk to Mik when she saw Kellerman standing in the corner, his jacket hanging over his crossed arms.
"I think I'll go start dinner," Mik said and quickly excused herself.
"You're wonderful," Mike commented, crossing the room.
"I'm good at playing, but my voice isn't that great. Mik's the singer."
"When did you get this? I know I would've remembered moving a piano in."
"About a week after we moved in, I sent for it. I decided to let professionals handle it. My parents bought it before I was born. When they died, it's one of the few things of theirs I kept," she explained.
"In an apartment?" he asked.
"No, it's been in storage for quite some time. I'd go down at least once a week to practice, but now that we have a big enough place, I thought it was about time to have it around again, so here it is."
"That was a beautiful song," Mike said, sitting on the piano bench next to her.
"My mother used to sing it to me. My dad would dance me around the living room as she did every night before bed when I was little. When I was old enough, she taught me how to play, and that was the first song I learned." She sighed and looked at the black polished surface of the instrument. "She promised that she'd play it for me on my wedding day, and I had planned on singing the lullaby to my children."
Mike wasn't sure what to say to that. "Well, it really is lovely."
She looked back up at him. "What makes it lovely is what the performer puts into it. It's not just the music, not just the words, it's the soul of the person performing it. It sounds different when Mik sings it, and it sounded different when my mother sang it. We each put a piece of ourselves in it, and that makes all the difference."
The words rang true with Mike. What had touched him the most about the song was the sorrow and hope that emanated from her. The joy and pain in her voice. "I'm going to be late, so I'd better go."
"Ok," she replied dreamily, obviously thinking about the past. Mike left her by the piano, said good-bye to Mik, and put his suit jacket back on. He smelled her perfume as he got back in his car and drove off.
"I think it's high time we initiated our newest detective," Pembleton said to Bayliss about a week later.
"You've thought of a way to get her, huh?" Bayliss asked, only half listening. It was too early in the morning to be thinking about things like this. He took a sip of coffee and looked across the table of the break room at his partner.
"A battle of the wits," he said. "That's what we're going to have here."
"With who?" Lewis asked curiously as he finished pouring himself a cup of coffee.
"Penny," Bayliss replied rolling his eyes.
"That's the new chick, right? The one Kellerman's been seeing? Man, I can't get anything out of him about her," Lewis said, sitting next to Tim.
"This from a guy who announces he's getting married before he tells anyone he has a girlfriend?" Tim grinned.
"No really, he hasn't said word one about her," Lewis told them.
"Did you ask him?" Frank said.
"Nah...what am I supposed to say? 'Hey, Mike, are you sleeping with her yet?' He's always expecting me to volunteer information about my life, you'd think he'd have the decency to tell me about his."
"Whatever you're talking about, I don't want to know," Penny said as she headed for the fridge. She poured orange juice into her coffee mug while the three men remained silent. "Ok, I take it back, tell me." She put the juice back and sat down next to Frank.
The three men looked at each other and said nothing. "Aw, come on, guys. Share with me. I spent quite a few years in a New York squad room before coming down here, I know what you talk about. It's no big secret."
Pembleton decided that now was the time to begin toying with the newest addition to the BCPD. "I have a question for you, Detective Graham."
She raised her eyebrows at his formal tone of voice, but nonetheless responded with a sly smile on her face. "Ask away, Detective Pembleton, but I may not answer you."
"Fair enough," he said, putting down his paper. "What is the meaning of life?"
"Is that all?" she said, taking a drink of her OJ. "That's easy, the meaning of life is love."
Meldrick and Tim remained silent, waiting for Pembleton to reply to her answer. For a moment Frank just looked at her...he hadn't expected an answer - especially a good answer - in such a short amount of time. "That's it? The meaning of life is love?"
"Would you care to elaborate on that?" Frank said, honestly confused, but trying hard not to show it.
"That's what I believe we've been put on this earth to do, love. And not just one kind of love, mind you, we're meant to experience all the different kinds of love. The kind between parent and child, the kind between husband and wife, the kind between friends...why, I can't even begin to list them all."
"What about all the other emotions?" Tim piped up.
"All other emotions originate with love. Love brings the greatest elation and the most excruciating pain. It is the center of all other feelings," she responded.
"Why do we work, then? Why do you come here every day?" Pembleton asked.
"Because I love my job. I love the weight of my gun on my hip, I love the shine of my badge, I love the click of my handcuffs. I love to finally figure out who did it, and put them behind bars. Why...what's your motivation behind coming here every day?"
He ignored her question and studied her closely. "But what about the bodies? What about the deaths that must occur in order for your job to exist?"
"They are necessary evils. My heart bleeds with each body I see, I don't deny that. But it doesn't make me love my job any less." She checked her watch and started to get up, "And speaking of my job, it's just about time for me to get to work, if you'll excuse me gentlemen."
She was almost out of the break room when Pembleton called after her.
"I have another question for you." She motioned for him to continue, and he glanced at Lewis before asking. "What the hell do you see in Kellerman?"
It was all she could do to not start laughing. "Well, I could say that I refuse to answer that. But then the three of you would take that as some elaborate sign about our relationship. I could tell you about all the redeeming qualities I see in him, and how I find him attractive. But again, you'd take that to have some kind of deeper meaning. So my answer to you is - You ain't getting nothin' outta me." The three sat there with blank expressions on their faces. "Cheer up guys, I like you all, but you're not weaseling any info on my private life out." With that, she went back to the squad room.
"Hmmm..." Bayliss mused, "Frank you may be the 'master of the Box,' but I'd have to say that she's the 'master of the coffee room.'"
"And how do you figure that, Tim?"
"Let's see, Graham 2, Pembleton zip," Tim said as he finished his coffee and walked out.
"How the hell did Kellerman catch a woman like that?" Lewis asked no one in particular.
"How the hell did she beat me at my own game?" Pembleton asked the air.
"Hey guys, what's up?" Kellerman asked when he found Pembleton and Lewis staring into space in the break room. The men looked at their blonde associate, still unable to figure out the inner workings of his girlfriend, and left without a word.
"Come with me tonight."
"No," Kay Howard said firmly.
"Red, come with me," Penny repeated, lowering her voice.
"Don't call me that," Kay said in a low hiss.
"You didn't have a problem with me calling you that yesterday," Penny replied.
"Yeah, well calling me that when we're alone in a car and calling me that in the middle of a crowded squad room are two totally separate things. Somebody's gonna hear you, and then I'll never hear the end of it."
"Kay, come with me to The Waterfront. It'll be fun, I promise."
"We have work to do."
"Not now," she sighed. "Later. I'm going to outsmart all the guys there. You have to be there...you'll get a kick out of it."
That caught her attention. Kay had already heard about the exchange between her and Pembleton, and was impressed at her ability to be as equally profound as the latter. Penny had been bouncing around with different detectives the past few months, the department unable to find her a partner, and Kay worked with her on many occasions. She thought Penny was intelligent and quick-thinking, as well as being extremely nice. Kay found herself actually liking the young woman, and though they couldn't be classified friends as of yet, she could see that in the near future they would be.
"What do you have up your sleeve?" she asked.
"You'll have to come and see," Penny replied mysteriously.
"Ok, ok, I'll go. Can we get back to work now?"
"Sure thing, Sarge."
The pair worked until quitting time, and stayed a half an hour later, before they headed over to the bar.
"I can't believe I'm letting you talk me into this," Kay muttered as they crossed the street.
"The way you're talking, you'd think we were robbing a candy store, or something. Don't you ever come over here to hang out with the guys?"
"I get enough of the guys at the precinct," Kay said as they entered The Waterfront.
"Well, well, well...if it isn't Sergeant Howard. And to what do we owe this special occasion?" Munch asked from behind the bar.
"Lay off, John," she snapped.
"Uncle J, any good pool players here tonight?"
Munch's eyes lit up a little as Penny's plan became evident to him, "They're all good, Pen. Knock yourself out." He turned his attention to Kay, "You want anything?"
"Not yet. I want to see what she's up to."
Kay followed Penny to the back where the pool table was. They watched Lewis and Bayliss play, Kay not really paying that much attention, but Penny soaking in both of their styles. When they were done, she made her move. "Can I play a game?" she asked innocently.
Lewis exchanged a look with Tim. They were both pretty good, and could probably beat her blindfolded with one hand tied behind their back. "You know how to play?"
"I know the rules," she said carefully.
"Bayliss, would you like to do the honors?" Lewis asked, handing him his pool cue.
"Certainly," he replied, setting up all the balls.
"Now, now, boys. Let's make this interesting. Ten bucks."
"Ten bucks? Did you hear that Sarge?" Lewis said. "Illegal gambling in our own precinct. You're not going to stand for that are you?"
"Afraid to lose your money, Lewis?" she asked, amused.
"I just don't want to take you money, Pen," Bayliss said.
"Funny, I'm going to enjoy taking yours," she replied, putting a ten dollar bill on the edge of the table. Bayliss complied and put his own ten dollars on top of hers.
"Ladies first," he said, handing her a pool cue.
Penny smiled thanked him, taking the first shot. The game lasted only fifteen minutes...Penny winning without breaking a sweat. "Next," she said, putting Bayliss's ten in her pocket, but keeping her own on the table.
Lewis confidently stepped up and put his money down. She allowed him to break, but it was no use, she creamed him too. Of course, the other men in the bar simply wouldn't stand for some young chick, policeman or not, coming in a beating them at pool, so they formed a line, each taking a chance with Penny, and each losing miserably. When Kay saw enough of the massacre, she went back to the bar and ordered a beer. Kellerman walked in, worn out from a jam packed day of work, and sat down next to Howard. After Munch placed a glass of Jim Beam in front of him, he motioned to the crowd around the pool table. "What's going on?"
"Penny's doing her pool shark impression," Munch said, obviously enjoying the scene before him.
"Where'd she learn to play like that anyway?" Kay asked.
"She's self-taught. She learned the tricks of the trade by watching the masters and she practiced with the guys in the precinct until she could beat them all. There's a number of times she told me how she got information on a case just by beating someone at pool. Those New Yorkers, always hanging out in pool halls." Munch shook his head at the notion.
"Lemme guess," Logan said the second he walked in the door and saw the commotion in the back, "Penny."
"The one and only," Kellerman muttered, drinking his Jim Beam down in one shot.
"Fellas, fellas, come on now," they heard Penny say from the depths of the bar, "I think I've kicked enough ass tonight. Let a lady through, will ya?"
"I've got perfect timing," Logan said as he made his way towards the Jukebox. He read the list of songs quickly, searching for one artist in particular. His eyes finally found not one, but two songs. He slid a few quarters in and punched in the numbers.
As soon as Penny heard the first few counts, she recognized the song. It had been a long time since she had heard this particular one, and only a few people in Baltimore would know that it was important to her. "Somebody knows what I like." The crowd finally let her through, and she saw Logan standing next to the Jukebox. "I shudda known." The actual words didn't start for a little while, so Penny proceeded to get ready. Her sleeves were already adequately rolled up, so all she had to do was fix the rest of her shirt. She pulled it out of her pants, unbuttoned the last few buttons, and tied a knot in it, showing off a good portion of her flat stomach.
She sang along with Madonna to "Material Girl" while Mike danced her around the bar. No one had ever dared to dance in The Waterfront before. There simply wasn't enough room, but somehow the two friends managed. As her favorite part approached, Logan let go of Pen and she climbed on top of the stool next to Kay, and carefully stood up. "Some boys dry and some boys lie, but I don't let them play," she sang, adopting a sexy pose by popping one foot up and letting her hip stick out a little. She reached up and flirtatiously flicked her hair up at just the right word, "Only boys that save their Pennies make my rainy day..." Logan helped her down and they continued their dance.
By this time, Kellerman sat facing the two, both his elbows leaning on the bar. Kay faced them as well, but kept her hands in her lap. "She's somethin' else, isn't she?" Bayliss asked, sticking his head between the two from behind the bar.
"She reminds me of my sister," Kay said absently.
"Carrie?" Tim asked, a little worried. He knew that she wasn't too keen on her sister.
"How's that?" Kellerman said.
"Just look at her. The girl likes to have fun," Kay said, watching the young woman prance around with Logan. "But she's not crazy." The two men looked at her in surprise. "Carrie is crazy. Penny likes to have fun, but she's got a good head on her shoulders."
"The rest of her ain't bad either," Bayless said without thinking. He glanced at Mike. "Sorry."
"What are you apologizing for?" Kellerman snapped. "It's not like we're married or anything."
"Somebody had a bad day," Tim muttered under his breath. The song ended, but another one began. 'Vogue.' "You wouldn't mind if I joined her, would you, Mikey?"
Bayliss came out from behind the bar and started to dance with Penny and Logan. Pen was overjoyed at the addition to her little dance party and eagerly bopped around both of them. She approached Kay about a minute later.
"Come on," she said, tugging at her sleeve.
"Oh no. I don't dance."
"Sure you do," Penny smiled.
"No, I really don't."
"You do now," she replied, pulling her to a standing position.
"It's not hard. Just close your eyes and feel the music. You have to feel it if you're going to dance."
Kay closed her eyes. She listened to the music. "Nothing."
"You're tapping your foot, Red," Penny said, pointing to the floor. "And that's a start. Go on, dance with Bayliss." She then focused her attention on Mike, "Are you going to join us?"
"I'm not drunk enough," he snapped.
His words hit her as if he had physically lashed out at her. She didn't know what to say to that, and her feelings were hurt. "Ok," she said, and returned to what had become the dance floor, where she found Kay dancing her heart out. "Well now, what did I say?"
"Hey, you ok?" Kay asked when she saw the look on Pen's face.
"Is Kellerman mad about something?"
Kay stopped dancing for a second. "Why, did he yell at you? He's just in one of his moods. Leave him alone tonight, I'm sure he'll be fine tomorrow."
The four continued bopping along until Madonna's last words, but by then Kellerman had left. He was dangerously close to falling completely in love with Penny, especially after watching her romp around the bar having a good time. But he wasn't sure that he really wanted a serious relationship. His mind was full and he needed some time to sort things out before his world exploded in his face.