Winter Days - Part 13

When Mike was finally able to tear himself away from Penny, he had slowly eased out from under her, laying her gently on the couch. He made his way over to the closet, where he took out his warmest, softest blanket and covered his sleeping girlfriend with it. She did not respond to the movement, and remained in a deep sleep. Kellerman sat on the other part of the couch, watching her sleep for he didn't know how long. Her face shone of innocence when under the influence of the Sandman, and her rhythmic breathing brought a kind of contentment to Mike, unlike the worry it had stirred up when she was in a coma.

All of a sudden, it was night. Hours had flown by while Kellerman sat, a silent witness to his sleeping Penny. He forced himself to get up and turn on some lights. He checked the time - it was almost 6. He called Mik and Tara, and keeping his voice low, informed them that Pen would be spending the night with him. After sitting through numerous jokes about what exactly the couple had planned for the evening, he explained that Penny was fast asleep, and he didn't want to disturb her. The two girls agreed, and he promised to bring her back the next morning.

Kellerman made himself dinner - a ham and cheese sandwich - and turned the TV back on, keeping the volume low. Penny awoke only once during the course of the night, around ten o'clock. The news had just started, and Kellerman was munching on potato chips when she suddenly sat up and looked around the dimly lighted boat in a mild panic. Her eyes finally rested on Mike, who got up and knelt next to her as soon as he noticed her moving. She said nothing, and was clearly afraid, existing in a state of half-sleep where she couldn't recognize where she was or who she was with.

"It's ok, Pen. You're safe here."

His words seemed to satisfy her, and Penny laid down once again, returning to her slumber. Mike stayed by her side a few minutes longer to make sure that she wasn't going to wake up again. When the news ended, he changed into an undershirt and navy sweatpants, and stretched out on the other part of his couch.

Winter Days - Part 14

Kellerman woke up around 9. As he yawned, he wondered why he hadn't pulled out his bed...and found the reason a few feet away, still asleep. He smiled to himself as he sat up and listened to her soft, cat-like snores. He decided to make breakfast before waking her up, which left only one major obsticle...he couldn't cook. So Mike simply filled two clean bowls with corn flakes and set them on the coffee table. He went back to the kitchen, grabbed two spoons, as well as a carton of milk...he was about to wake her up when he realized that he hadn't brought out anything to drink. He wasn't sure what she wanted, but he sure as hell could use some coffee, so he started his Mr. Coffee and returned to the living room once again. But something was still missing...what was it?

"Oh yeah," he said, softly laughing at himself. He went to the cabinet on the far end of the room and carried a small box wrapped in shiny blue wrapping paper back to the couch with him. Kellerman hid the gift under one of the many throw pillows laying there, and turned to Penny. Now he was ready for her.

He walked over to her with careful steps, each one softer than the last. When he reached her, he stood over his own personal Sleeping Beauty for a full minute before descending to his knees. Her cute little snores had subsided, replaced by slow, deep breaths. She was lying on her back, her hair running wild on the pillow beneath her head. The blanket he had placed over her the night before was tangled on her legs, but smooth upon her torso, ending a few inches shy of her chin.. Her arms were motionless, one lazily hanging off the couch and the other buried under the blanket somewhere. Her eyelids fluttered ever so slightly while the rest of her face remained still, her cheeks pale and her lips pursed.

Mike knelt at her side, intending to whisper in her ear as means of waking her up, but she so reminded him of the enchanting fairy tale that he couldn't fight the temptation to be romantic. He leaned over and kissed her.

"Mmmm..." Penny said as soon as Kellerman disengaged his lips from hers and opened her eyes. "What a wonderful way to wake up."

"I thought you'd like it."

She smiled and stretched on the couch, still not fully awake. "How long have I been out?"

"Since around 4 yesterday."

"Yesterday?" she asked as she sat up, her hair all poofy and out of control.

"Yeah," Mike replied, trying not to laugh at Penny's newest look, "You conked out in the middle of "Midnight Lace." "

She reached up and began fixing her hair by combing it with her fingers, "Well, I must say that I actually feel rested now. Maybe I should sleep here more often."

It had just been an offhand comment, not a loaded innocent remark. Mike knew that, and yet he wished she meant it. "Maybe you should."

His reply caught Penny off guard. Cobwebs of sleep still hung in her mind, so her thinking process was working a little slow at the moment. She didn't realize what she had said until Mike replied, but at the same time, she couldn't say that she regretted the comment. "Maybe I will."

Kellerman reached under a nearby pillow and produced a small present. "Happy birthday, Penny."

"What's this?" she asked with a little girl grin as she fingered the small box.

"It's your birthday present from me."

"Mike, you know that you really didn't..."

"I know. But I wanted to."

Penny carefully unwrapped the package to reveal a rectangular box. Within the box laid a gold chain, upon which a gold heart hung. On the heart, etched in beautiful, yet simple, lettering, was "P.G.+ M.K." She picked up the necklace and held it into the sunlight that was pouring through the open blinds. The sun danced on the gold making it sparkle with the light of a million stars.

"I know you women like big diamonds and fancy negligées, but..."

"Shut up, Mike," Penny said as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Damn, she couldn't get all weepy over a silly thing like this...but it was so sweet. So simple, so subtle, so beautiful. She opened her eyes once she had a hold on herself and once again looked at the gift in question. "It's perfect."

"You like it?" Kellerman asked hopefully. He had wanted to get her something special, but wasn't quite sure what. The typical woman-type presents didn't seem to apply to Penny...she was special. She deserved something different.

"To quote a wise woman, 'I don't need diamond rings or 18 carrot gold...satin sheets are very romantic, but what happens when you're not in bed?'"

"That's good, 'casue what you're holding in your hand is only 14 carrots."

She laughed and gave him a hug, "Thank you so much Mike."

"It's my pleasure," he responded, returning the hug.

"Will you do the honors?" she asked after breaking the embrace and handing the necklace to him. She turned away and held her hair up, offering her bare neck.

Kellerman never had an opportunity to actually see her neck so close, so clearly, before. It seemed silly, but he never really noticed it before. And as he opened the clasp of the necklace and gently placed it around her neck, he knew that sometime in the near future he would explore that lovely neck in great detail, courtesy of his lips. "There," he said when he was finished.

"I want to go see," she said, and ran to the bathroom. The charm fell about an inch below the collarbone, which to Penny was the ideal length. The letters were small, but very clear, so she knew anyone's eyes that came across it would be able to appreciate her present to the fullest. She came out of the bathroom glowing, much to Mike's pleasure, and sat beside him on the couch. "What now?"

"Breakfast," he said, offering her a bowl of cereal.

"Prepared by a master chef," she continued, accepting the bowl and holding it as he poured milk into it. All the time her mind looking forward to her return to work, where she could show off her gift.

Winter Nights: The days are sometimes bad...the nights are *always* worse...
Winter Days: Go back to the earliest days of the coldest season...
Weeping Willows: Back to a time when the willows wept for no one...
Beginnings: Go back to the Beginnings...
Chapters: Still not sure of the order...come on down...
Sources: Some things a girl just can't make up...see what words aren't my own...