It was around seven-ish, somewhere during August. A hazy summer heat had coated Azlu, making the whole place feel lazy and somewhat calmer than it's usual busier state. Penny was home, listening to records and lost in one of her sketches, fingers dirty from the graphite pencil she used. The blond raised a hand to push her hair away from her face, smearing some of the silver-gray on her cheek
She is like a cat in the dark
And then she is the darkness
A smile curled her lips as Fleetwood Mac drifted through the speakers of her record player, setting her to swaying even as she worked. It was a fleeting little expression, though, the smile, as she regarded the thick paper she worked on, dissatisfied with the image. As if on cue, Penny was pulled from her contemplation by the shrill ringing of the phone on the wall in the kitchen.
"Ma? Are you gonna get that?" Penny only glanced up a moment, out her bedroom door. No one responded. With an eyeroll and an exasperated sigh PJ picked up her work and set it beside her on the bed as she got up to stand. Wiping her dirty hands on her bare thighs and leaving gray streaks on her skin-kissed skin, Penny walked down the hall and into the kitchen. In the summer heat and privacy of her own home, she'd chosed to wear little more than her smallest pair of hotpants and a cotton, crochet halter top. Her bare feet stuck to the linoleum
floor as she answered the pink phone still ringing on the wall.
"Martyn residence, make it good," Penny said as she brought the phone to her ear. Almost as soon as she picked up the phone, a loud metallic sounding crash bellowed out from the other end, followed by a mumbled slur of curses. Penny winced.
Of course, it was Roddy, "AH SHIT, crap, cock suck- OH! Penny, I didn't expect you to pick up first thing."
It was odd for Rodney to sound so flustered. For someone usually so calm and collected, rare moments of agitation like this stood out more so. Penny bit her lips and briefly covered the speaking end of her reciever as she tried to stifle a little snort of a laugh.
"Well, I don't know where my mom is. Probably out or in for a bubble bath, as is the Martyn women's Friday night tradition," she told him, amusement still in her voice. She switched the phone to her other ear and leaned back against the kitchen wall where it hung as she said, "Anyway, you got me! What's the skinney, Roddy?"
"Um, right the skinny, well ah, this is Peej, I've ummm, gotten myself into a bit of a bother, yeah, yeah! I could really do with your help on this one I think, you know me, not the brightest bulb in the box and all that," he was just about audible through the phone, but it was slightly fuzzy. It were as if the phone was being passed around from side to side, white noise distorting the quality a bit.
Puzzling over her friend's (they were seeing each other, sure, but they were still friends, too, right? It's not like he'd given her a ring or anything and they were still in high school and all and they hadn't... Penny found herself blushing briefly.) bizarre speech pattern and the poor phone connection, Penny pushed herself off the wall when he said he needed help. She asked, "I'll be right there. Where are you? On a payphone?"
"Ummmm no... no, I'm at my place, it's this thing I've found you see, I just can't figure it out," There was a momentary pause, he seemed to be thinking, "I think it's dangerous though, I dunno."
Vague Rodney was vague, but Penny was ready to move anyway. She was already looking for her shoes and rollerskates as she said, "Yea, okay, I'll be there in ten."
Penny left the kitchen in a rush and pulled on a pair of socks as soon as she got to her room, so fast she left the drawer open and reached for her skates instead. Lacing up the boots in a blur, she then tied the laces of her Chucks
together er and threw them over her shoulder along with her to-go missions backpack. It had a few basics but most of the supplies were in Rob's van. Had Rodney called him, too? If it was dangerous, he ought to have. No Skates In The House
was a rule, but Penny carefully stepped through the shag of the living room carpet in them and then rolled to the front door.
"Ma, if you're home, I'm going to Beth's!" She announced to the maybe-empty house and was out the door before there was any chance of reply or protest.
Out on the street, the lame summer sun was starting to dip toward the tops of the trees, as if directing her toward Rodney's house where it sat at the edge of the encrouching Washington forest. Penny was right on the time it took to get there, about ten minutes - it was about the fastest she could do on skates; whens she drew near the house, the blond spied a thin line of smoke streaming from one of the cracked windows of Rodney's house. The smoke grew, though, as she watched it, closing in. Her heart lept into her throat as she saw what she thought was flames past the curtains and she gave a kick, powering toward the house. Still in her skates, she sped up the walkway and almost slipped up the stairs to the home's porch as she fumbled to get her skates off.
"Rodney?" She called, and finally her foot slipped out of the boot and she crossed the porch to the front door, bursting through so quickly that the door flew back and slammed, making the wall shudder and the umbrella holder fall over. "Roddy?!"
Coughing and a smattering of curses and swears errupted from the kitchen, where a thick cloud of smoke and smog bellowed from an open oven. Rodney was desperately trying to waft the smoke away with a tea towel but he wasn't having much luck. It was only after nearly wapping her with the thing that he noticed Penny at all, so engaged was he with his current crisis. "PENNY! Fu-!" Another bout of coughing interrupted him.
Roddy looked around for a moment, before disappearing into the cloud. Through the muddle and mess it was hard to tell what was what and where was where exactly, but whatever Roddy did seemed to help things along. Slowly but surely the smoke began to drift out of the house. Clumsily fumbling his way back over to her, Rodney took Pennys hand and lead her back outside.
He looked relatively casual for once, different from his usually fashionable and selected self. He was just in a simple white tee, with some washed out faded jeans (both of which were now slighty soot stained of course). The silly bugger wasn't even wearing shoes. He attempted a smile but it didn't come across as very reassuring. Nervously, he ran a hand through his hair "Hiya"
Penny was in shock. Should they be outside? The smoke was clearing, sure but what had he set ablaze to begin with? She coughed lightly, gaping at him as she looked him over - casual and soot covered to match her graphite smudges, still on her face and thighs, unbeknownst to her.
"Dangerous, huh?" Was all she managed, to start, her voice cracking slightly. They stood together on the grass of front lawn, he barefoot and she in her knee-socks.
He laughed awkwardly, still rubbing that same spot at the back of his neck. Roddy still held her hand in his, as was his usual habit, but his grip was different now for some reason. Not as reassuring and solid as it often was, he held her loosely, anxiously. He was averting her gaze too, instead deciding to stare absently at his feet, "Who knew cooking could be so tricky huh? Heheh..." His laughter simply fizzled out into a embarassed frown.
"My mom," Penny mused, trying to return the smile to his face. "She can't cook a thing, you know that."
He sighed, almost sadly, "Shit I'm sorry Peej, I tried my best but- Fuck! I promised I wouldn't swear tonight or anything either, aw shit.." He continued to mumble in frustration and unease.
Penny arched an eyebrow and tugged a little on his hand, squeezing the one he held and then claiming his other for herself, holding them inbetween them. She smiled and knit her brow together, confusion setting her eyes to search his face, asking with laughter light in her voice, "Roddy? What is this?"
He looked up at her, eyes wide and unsure. His mouth opened and closed at least three times, the words sitting patiently at the tip of his tongue, but lacking the confidence to make themselves known. Eventually he decided looking at something else might make his confession that little bit easier. He turned his head with a wistful sigh, opting to look at the lazy beauty of the setting sun.
"I just wanted to do something nice... for you. Just you."
Watching his profile, Penny adjusted her stance slightly, shifting her weight from one side to the other and in doing so, shifted slightly closer to Rodney. She licked her lips thoughtfully, praying she wasn't blushing - though color had brightened the high points of her cheeks. Fighting through a smile and all the things she wanted to say, Penny pushed her tongue against the inside of her cheek, dropping her gaze a little to where she still held his hands and squeezed lightly.
"There's an 'us' somewhere in that statement, you know," she told him. "Cause I don't want to do something that you won't enjoy, too. That's kind of how this works, right?"
She released one of his hands and slipped it up his arm and over his shoulder to rest at the back of his neck, finger tips slipped lightly into his hairline there. She didn't force him to look back at her, but it was encouragement.
That's when he turned. That's when he looked at her, for how could he not? How could he ignore the almost painful urge to not look upon that face, how could he ignore the shivers she sent down his spine simply at her touch? Easy answer was, he couldn't. And he didn't.
She had something on her face. Initially, he panicked, thinking she'd burned herself due to his stupid schemes. He rubbed the pad of his thumb across it gently though, and was relived to see the mark fade away; Penny scrunched up her face a little, curiously looking at him. A face like hers should remain as unblemished as possible. She looked lovely today. Not to say that she didn't every other day! Oh god no. But something about the colours in the sky, the tone of the lighting, it set her face alight, but just in the right way.
Of course he couldn't help himself. He leaned closer to her, perfectly happy to seal the deal..
"OI, RODDERS! WHAT THE FUCK'S GONE ON IN HERE?!"
Penny's heart was busy pounding in her ears, thinking about his lips that she barely heard the yell to Roddy, but then he was pulling away and for a fraction of a second, she was mad. Her brows drew together in a glare and she looked to see what or who was drawing the Brit's attention; her hand dropped off his neck but the other still clasped his hand.
For a moment he simply stood there, eyes closed and lips now firmly sealed into a frustrated frown. There was a second or so of silence.
"I SAID, WHAT THE FU-"
Rodney suddenly turned.
"I BLOODY HEARD YOU GODDAMIT!"
Will's head suddenly popped out from around the corner of the front door. Save for the fact that he was (somehow) taller that Rodney, and had a mess of brown curls instead of blonde, the lad looked almost like a exact clone of his younger brother. He even had the same frown on his face and everything.
Penny's glare locked on Will but in a voice low enough for only Roddy to hear, she said, "Why didn't you let the house burn down?"
She didn't know how Rodney wanted to publicize their relationship, so she was half-anticipating him letting go of her hand and making distance between them.
The glare Rodney sent at him was practically terror inducing. But, of course being the older sibling, Will took any inclination of a threat from Rodney with about as much leverage as he would a grain of salt. Then suddenly and without a single word, Rodney took Penny's hand in his firmly and led her into the house. Without even giving Will another glance he took Penny through the kitchen, into the hall, up the stairs and through the last door on the right.
Apparently Rob had been into Rodney's room once, but otherwise none of the gang had really ever seen it. There was no need to really, certainly not in Rod's eyes. He always thought that his place wasn't as useful as say Rob's scrapyard or Beth's seemingly endless supply of books. His room was just, his room. Nothing particularly special or noteworthy, a bit like him sometimes really.
But not much time was allowed for Penny to really analyise the place initially. For as soon as they were behind closed doors, Roddy took her face in his hands, and kissed her right where she stood.
Penny's face flushed as she felt him grasp her face and her heart skipped a beat. She'd been too busy puzzling over what was going on in that moment - he took her to his room! Penny had always filed that into a "sacred space" for him, and hadn't expected to ever see it. That is, she wanted to, but she wouldn't ask or anything. And now she was, with the door closed, and he was kissing her. She took a moment to enjoy it and then gripped him by the front of his shirt and kissed back, her lips pressing back against his, parting just slightly as she tipped her head.
His arms automatically wound their way around her waist, keeping her close. He allowed himself a rare moment of solace with her, allowing himself to enjoy the moment. Rods shoulders relaxed, he seemed calmer in her embrace. it was a long time before he parted from her, and even then he didn't let go of her completely. A very small shy smile crept its way across his lips.
"I'm sorry, that was um... nice."
Penny took a breath like a swimmer breaking the surface after a dive into the pool - it was a gaspy little thing and brought attention to how he made her head spin, but she didn't dislike it. Her fingers were in his hair again, at the back of his head, her arms had come up and looped around his neck. She was getting pick ups from him, from being in his room, but they were pleasant, his downtime - homework, guitar, the smell of him after a shower... Penny blushed and brushed the end of his nose with hers.
"Don't ever apologize for that. Always kiss me that way," she told him, timidly biting at her lower lip through a soft smile. "And often."
The sheepish smile turned into a giddy grin. He looped his arms tighter around her lower back and pulled her up off the ground, her legs winding around his hips. He was smiling so genuinely, how absolutely honestly happy was he right then.
"You remember that day I called you a Godsend, you don't need me to tell you again do you?"
"I mean, it's nice to be reminded," she teased, matching his grin. She secured her grip around his neck some, in addition to her legs around his hips; she trusted him, but there was a little voice telling her it'd hurt if she fell, and it'd be a new round of challenges to explain that
kind of a thump to Will, who was still in the house somewhere.
"But yes, I remember," she tipped her head and leaned her forehead against his, searching his eyes.
He chuckled, low and contentedly. It was a laugh that almost sounded too... real, to belong to a guy like Rodney. In truth, it was most likely due to the fact that he laughed so little in the first place. Carefully, as if he were holding some priceless treasure, he carried her over to a kinda beat up looking armchair that sat in to far corner of his room. He flopped down into the chair with a happy sigh, never taking his eyes off her for a minute.
Rods room gave a fairly decent insight into the lad himself in truth. It was (admittedly) a bit on the messy side, but not catastrophically so. It was the smallest of the bedrooms, you could pick that up easily enough. Everything felt close and compact, yet never uncomfortable. His Gutair was sat carefully next to the chair, in truth the thing had seen better days, but it still sounded fine (at least to Rodney it did). A few posters adorned the wall here and there, a T-Rex one here, a Queen one there, with good old Davy Jones taking pride of place above Roddy's head board.
PJ adjusted slightly as he sat down, so her legs wouldn't dig into him against the comfortable cushion of the arm chair, but otherwise she stayed where he held her. She could feel him still looking at her, but Penny's curiosity got the better of her and she glanced around his room, smiling as a few puzzle pieces fell into place.
"Hmm, the wolves' den," she said, tone light, playful - happy. Her fingers played with the short hairs at the back of his head, stroking them down and then running through them again. "Brighter than I imagined."
"I'm not a complete and utter hermit, I promise," he said.
Her touch was more than soothing. He allowed himself to lean back and relax into the chair, a hand absent mindedly stroking the small of her back rhythmically. He followed her gaze around the room for a while, quietly pondering what she could be thinking. A small blush suddenly managed to flush across his cheeks.
"Sorry about the mess though, I didn't quite think our evening would pan out this way."
"Oh, completely intolerable," Penny rolled her eyes a little and gave another glance about his room. An idea came to her and she grinned briefly before pressing close to him and stealing a kiss - a little deeper than the last - and then pushing off him. His hands ghosted along her skin as she passed, secretly yearning for a longer embrace. She went to the window and opened it, peering out quickly before half-way climbing out it.
"Follow me," she looked back at him with a grin. She pointed at the guitar beside him and said, "And bring that." He gazed at her uncertainly, almost sadly for a brief moment, fearing she'd had her fun and was now leaving him to it. But when it dawned on him what she was up to exactly, Rodney couldn't help but grin.
Then Penny was through the window and carefully manuevering herself across the room and eave of the first story to pull herself up onto the second story roof of Rodney's room. Careful on the slope of the roof, PJ finally settled at the highest point of the house, facing his backyard and the sprawling forest beyond; the sun was licking the tops of the oldest, tallest trees now. It wouldn't be long until it gone, but it would be hours until full darkness fell.
Rodney followed, rather less gracefully than Penny had gone however. Long lanky limbs taking that bit more extra effort to wiggle through a window (especially with a clunky gutair in tow). Upon reaching the top he automatically linked his hand with hers, smiling into the sunset.
"This isn't too bad I suppose."
"Nah, not too bad," she grinned and happily squeezed his hand, leaning her arm into his and then tipping her head to lay it upon his shoulder. Contentedly sighing, she enjoyed the moment of coexisting, watching the sun set, the warmth of him against her side despite the summer's heat. She wiggled her toes a little, feet still covered with socks, then abruptly sat up and took her weight off him, tapping her fingernails against the body of his guitar.
"Play for me?" She smiled, crossing her legs and looking attentive. "I've only heard you play stuff for gigs, so," she made a little gesture that meant 'play whatever you want.'
If he'd been blushing before, he was practically turning into a Chameleon at this point. A pink flush worked all the way up from the bottom of his cheeks right to the very tip of his ears. He shuffled a little, a sweet sort of pride shining through that dopey grin of his. He began to arrange himself, sitting fully upright and placing the gutair in his lap so that he was still able to play the thing, but at the same time remain close to Penny. In fact so not wanting to lose contact with her, Rodney carefully wound one of her arms around his waist.
"Umm... well then,"
He had to think for a while. What could he play for her? It couldn't just be any old song, dearie me no. It needed to be something special, something that meant... well, something. He looked at her, taking in all her lovliness in the setting sun. It came to him in the end of course.
Rodney cleared his throat, "Just... promise me you won't giggle or anything. Love songs were always more a speciality of Rob's really."
He quickly looked down at the gutair, fearing he'd become far too distracted if he kept his eyes on her. The tune he'd chosen was gentle, matching the tone of the hazy evening. It was steady and sweet, and he felt there couldn't be a song more perfect for her.
"Everyone stares when you walk in the room,
They stare when you go.
You've got so much control.
How could anyone say no.
They rarely do,
That's why you're you,
And why you're winning."
"And I don't even miss you at all,
"Caught in the light, you would idly spin,
Your skeleton ring.
See it shine when you sing,
To the window with no meaning.
From Tennessee your harmony,
Would leave your spirit."
"And I don't even miss you at all,
"Silver the shores of isles I've known,
Boulevards of dancing boats"
"You keep the old ember burning,
With meadows in mind.
As the coaches go by,
These thoughts of you'll never die,
They rarely do.
That's why you're you
And why you're winning"
"And I don't even miss you at all
"Silver the shores of isles I've known
Boulevards of dancing boats"
"Silver the shores of isles I've known..."
Penny was lost in him. His voice, his face, the sound of the guitar, the fluidity of his fingers cross the strings - it was hypnotic and beautiful. It made her chest ache like heartbreak and her arm around his waist clutched against him, holding onto his shirt like it anchored her in place. The blond pressed her lips together tightly and butt her head against his shoulder as he finished, turning her face down to hide her blushing.
"That was..." She sighed, a dreamy thing and squeezed her arm around him. "You're amazing."
He gazed at her lovingly, complete and utter adoration in his eyes.
"Not nearly as much as you are..."
Temptation overtook him. He claimed her for another kiss, one far more intense than the last two. He couldn't really describe what he felt in truth. He just needed to hold her, be with her, claim her mouth for his own and nobody elses. The guitar had dropped out of his lap when he freed his arm so he could twine it around her. Physically forcing her to stay close to him, for he didn't ever want to lose her touch again.
She could do nothing to hide the color that tinted her cheeks, happy color - not a shameful, embarassed brush, but joy when he looked at her that way. And then his mouth was on hers again and it made her head spin, her fingers slipping up into his hair as she pulled him close to her even as he pulled her into him; there was no need to force her anywhere when it regarded Rodney, as she went willingly. The kiss sent a wave of fireworks through her, or so it felt, all the way down to her toes.
The parting from the kiss was lingering and hesitant, both parties not really wanting to release their hold. The demand for air was the only thing forcing them apart at all really. Rodney was eager in truth, already leaning in for another kiss when-
He wanted to keep all of his focus on her, every last bit of it, let her consume him fully... but he just couldn't. Suddenly, he turned his head to the bodering woodland. Eyes that had been clouded with a longing devotion were now sharp and focused on the indistinct workings of nature. It was calling him, teasing him like a siren on the rocks. His grip on Penny tightened.
"Roddy?" She had been waiting for him to kiss her again - or was it continuing the last one? Semantics. - when his demeanor shifts and she blinked slightly, then followed his blue-eyed gaze curiously, into the woods.
It was a cruel longing that he felt for those woods. For he knew, if he left her and went, he'd gain nothing. He'd simply wander and hunt, wonder and think, only regretting and wallowing in his apparent lacking. Goddamit he'd fucked up so much tonight though. I mean sure, thankfully things had gone relatively well eventually, but this was no way to leave his lady love.
But... what if he didn't have to?
Rodney returned his gaze to her. There was something ever so slightly different there now. A lot of love still remained, but deep down within it lay something wild, unpredictable and new. Dare I say, it was animalistic.
"Penny, would you... come with me?"
His request surprised her. She blinked at him and then quickly broke out into a grin. Her green eyes darted out into the forest, considering how she would build up her defense but not if she would go. Penny nudged his leg with hers.
"Well, if we're going, let's go!" She told him and then slid from her place off the roof, down back toward his bedroom window and climbing back inside. The blond trotted downstairs, stopping by the door to put on her well-worn sneakers and then waiting for Rodney.
He wasn't far behind her, barely doing anything to ready himself in truth. Rodney took one of her hands in his and intertwined their fingers. It seemed this was becoming a habitual thing to him, hand holding of all things.
He took the lead of course. Over the garden wall, down the dirt path, through the hole in the brambly thorn and then across the fields and into the woods. The routine was more than clockwork to him now, which for once, he wasn't too bothered about. It allowed him to keep almost all of his attention on her, and that was more than fine by him.
They were a matched pair, if ever there was one. She kept his pace, trusting him to lead her down his path, her footing sure in his wake as they went. Still holding his hand, she watching him, only glancing around periodically to get her barings. The forest was coming alive around them as the sun hung low in the sky, beams lacing in and out of the branches. It wasn't dark enough yet for the fireflies to come out in number, but she could spy a few glinting in the ferns that clustered along the floor inbetween trees, deadfall, and the myriad of foliage that only most belonged to this region; the rest, though few and far between, were of another realm all together.
He liked this time of the day. The time when it wasn't quite night yet, but the sun was giving up its last few precious rays. That special time where the world was still light, but no stars or sun shone in the sky. Usually, this special time would soothe him, calm his soul and lift his spirits. But tonight, it did something altogether more different. It was all her doing of course. Rodney wasn't quite sure how exactly she did it, but somehow, that girl just managed to set his heart alight. He was nervous, but happy, excited, but a little bit scared too.
They'd managed to wind their way relatively far in at this point. Trees surrounded them, all signs of the bordering fields lost from view. His heart felt like it was going to jump right on out of his chest at this rate.
He needed her.
There was a change in him, here and when his blood called like this, but she'd rarely seen it so free like this - usually, he honed it for a task and tucked it away again or dismissed himself when something such as this came upon him. To see him like this riled her own blood, sent it burning through her veins - all for him.
Why was it the sun always set faster than it rose? Even as it darkened around them, the otherworldly plants that grew in Azlu's woods came alight, sending a pale green light into the atmosphere, mystical lanterns. Penny squeezed the hand she held of his, stepping close to him and resting her free hand lightly along his jaw.
With a noise that could only be described as a rather animalistic growl, Rodney snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her against him. He claimed her for a kiss, one that was far more passionate than the previous ones. Almost like instinct, his free arm wound its way up past her shoulders to the back of her neck. The movement made it so his hand now rested behind the ties that held her top in place, an admittedly accidental outcome but one he didn't complain about nonetheless.
A surprised whimper slipped from her throat at his growl and as he seized her, but it died as his mouth met hers and she melted into the kiss. Pressing her body against his, the hand that had been along his jaw slipped up to where the back of his head met his neck. Feeling his fingers at the ties of her halter, she broke the kiss, drawing back only enough to rest her forehead against his.
"I'm yours," she told him, a promise and an invitation. She then lowered herself onto the floor of the forest in the small moss-carpeted clearing they'd found themselves in and guided him down with her.
They stayed for hours, just the two of them, completely entangled with each other until the wee hours of the morning. It was a night neither of them would ever forget.