disclaimer: disclaimed
dedication: no news is good news.
notes: i have been trying to parse penny for a long time. this isn't what i wanted it to be, but it's close.
notes2: better now — oh wonder.

title: yellows and greens
summary: It's not that Pam don't like the doc. It's that she don't trust him. — Pam, Penny/Harvey.






Pam ain't the greatest mother in the world.

Yeah, fuck off, she knows how it looks.

Here's what they never tell you about being the town drunk: it's the little things. It's the side-eyes, and the sympathetic tutting, and the fact that no one in this damn town could give a twice-damned horse's ass about sobriety when the saloon opens at noon and the is too broke to be even worth the fixing.

It's your little girl, shoulders slumped in on themselves, helping you to bed and tucking you in like you aren't her mother.

So, yeah, Pam knows she's sure as shit not great at the whole parenting thing. Penny deserves better than the late nights and the beer-stained carpet and the TV flickering, white light against the shadows on the wall, the silence turned up so loud that Pam can finally hear herself think.

Shit, there are a lot of things they don't tell you about being the town drunk.

But none of them are what to do when the doctor comes a-courting, poppies and muffins and a shy little smile that turns Pam's stomach with nausea. She hasn't thrown up in half a decade, and she's not gonna upchuck now. Her skin feels like old parchment in the winter cold.

Pam might not be a great mother, but Penny is all she's got.

Won't be the first time a smart girl twisted herself up inside over a pair of soft eyes and a low voice and a promise about forever. Won't be the last, neither. The valley has a habit of it, same as its barkeep who'd knew her before she'd been star-eyed at a soldier and less bitter than she is, now.

The drink had been easy when the leaving had been hard.

And Penny, bless her heart, had kept her nose stuck in books. It kept them both sane. Yoba knows it's easier to guzzle a beer than it is to actually talk to her daughter about her daughter's father.

And sure, sure, the doc ain't one whit like Pam's husband had been. He ain't half that smooth. Been five years Harvey's lived in Pelican Town; that's a man settled, right and proper, and Pam don't begrudge him want of a little companionship.

World's rotted clean through. It don't hurt to take a little happiness where it's to be found.

Be better if he left Pam's baby girl out of it, though. Because it ain't that Pam don't like the doc. She likes him fine. Upstanding young man, for all that she thinks men can be young and upstanding at all.

It's that Pam don't trust him.

Yoba knows, that's worse.

The farmer's a dyke, and she's dead helpful.

Frankly, it's a damn shame that she's holed up with that artist bird. Of all the people in the valley, the farmer is the only one as might treat Penny half so well as she deserves. Pam ain't gonna say that aloud, though. Yoba knows who might be listening.

"What d'ya think of the doc, kid?"

The farmer hoists the basket of turnips higher on her hip—damn nice girl, damn good gardener—and blinks.

"He's cool, I guess," she shrugs. She's maybe twenty-five, brown skin and curly brown hair, speckled over with sun-brown freckles. "Quiet, though."

"You ain't talked to him much?"

"Nah, not really," the farmer says. "Not my type, you know?"

Pam guffaws. "Sure, sure! Not your type!"

"Yeah," says the farmer, grins kind of lopsided, kind of shitty. "Not my type at all. Anyway, hey, you want these or no? They grow like weeds, I dunno what I'm gonna do with them all."

Pam does, in fact, want the turnips. She waves off the farmer's offer to hang around for a while; she's still a kid, and Pam is a tired old saw, and no kid ought to be spending her free time with a tired old saw when the sun's out.

The farmer goes, and Pam is thirsty in her soul.

It's hardly noon. The radio is a static crackle, nothing but white noise over the airwaves. She'd hated that, when she'd still been allowed to drive. The silence made her crazy then, and it makes her crazy, now.

Beer, at least, makes the static bearable.

Gus'll be opening the saloon soon enough. It's only a hop-skip-jump away, a two-minute walk, hardly out of the way. Shit, it's so close it'd be almost a damn shame not to indulge.

Penny'll be disappointed.

(Yoba, but Pam hates disappointing her baby girl. Yoba, but she doesn't know how to stop.)

The air buzzes humid against her skin. Summertime, hot and muggy, blooms outside the window of the trailer. One drink, Pam figures.

To clear her head.

Penny is out there watching the river. Ain't nowhere else to go, in Pelican Town; ain't nowhere to get in trouble. Not that Penny would get into trouble, Pam knows. Her baby is a good'un.

If the doc messes her around…

Pam don't want to think about it.

She don't want to think about it at all.

Pam wakes to the pounding of a headache, the plink-plink-plink of rain against the tin above her head, and to the faint sound of Penny's laughter.

Yoba, Pam can't remember the last time she heard Penny laugh. It's a dreamy sound, soft and sweet, same as Penny always is.

Hurts, though.

Pam can't stand that she ain't surprised to hear the doc's voice. He talks low and quickly, stumbling over his words. Nervous little bastard, ain't he?

"—there's no one flying today, of course, with the rain, but next time—?"

"I'd like that," says Penny, and Pam has to close her eyes. Even with no light, she can't kick the headache or the horrible thought that maybe Penny would be better off somewhere else. Ain't nobody gets out of the valley alive, but Penny ought to have the chance. The doc will tie her down here, and then Pam's baby girl will be stuck, will end up feeling trapped just like her daddy, and what then?

It'll kill Pam is Penny turns into her. It'll kill her dead in the ground.

'Cause it still ain't that Pam don't like the doc. She likes him fine. He's decent, as fellows go. Not one bad word said about him, she's sure. Rumours get around right quick, these parts. If he ain't been decent, they'd have run him out of town, doc or no doc.

But she still don't trust him.

And Yoba knows, that's worse.