notes. Gift!fic. The tense is all wonky. I don't like it, but it will do for my self-proclaimed big sis! Merry Late Christmas!
He is mysterious and she doesn't know him. He gives her a penguin with a polka-dotted scarf, reveals himself to her and she is surprised—she does know him. In fact, she loves him.

Penguins & Polka Dotted Scarves
For StarsWatchAsIDance, a loyal reviewer & my self-proclaimed big sister.





(songs I've been repeating over and over again)

Lay All Your Love On Me – Amanda Seyfried & Dominic Cooper (Mamma Mia! Soundtrack)

She is very petite, he notices, his smoking golden bronze eyes scanning over her slightly short, 5'5" form silently. She doesn't notice him—of course she won't, he practically blends into the shadows—still whirling around gracefully, placing her small feet onto the shining wood of the dance studio as if she's done this all her life, which, in actuality, she has.

He nearly betrays his position by laughing (a rare occasion, his friends—the very few he has—are sure, him laughing) when her shoulder-length, wavy black hair escapes from the confines she has placed it in—just like old times. Pausing in her movements, she sighs, rolls her eyes, and reaches up to fix the disaster she calls her hair.

Suddenly, a thought flashes in his head, and he slips from where he's standing, his eyes still fixated on her every move, but he reminds himself about the job he has to do, and he moves almost as fluidly as she does, releasing himself from the darkness of the shadows and out the dance studio's door before she can notice him.

He doesn't even notice that she does. A confused smile spreads over her face—she can't really recognize him, but she's sure she knows him from somewhere; it's his eyes—before she shrugs and goes back to dancing, trying to ignore the curious shiver running down her spine.

Talk about ninja-like.

/ x /

Sweating profusely, she packs her things up after spending about five hours at the dance studio, where she'd been readying herself for an important Winter Charity Function in two days.

Her small, light stature had led to her being the one to fly on a nearly invisible string over the entire crowd at the River Blossom Center of the Arts on December 12th, dressed in a shimmery, silver angel costume while releasing artificial snow over everyone in attendance—they did have to pay for tickets, though, but, then again, the money was for charity.

Really, she thought the artificial snow was pointless. They lived in Boston, for goodness sakes! The committee could've just lugged buckets of the tremendous amounts of snow covering the entire city of Boston over to the dance studio, shoved it into the huge freezer that they kept for who-knows-what, and given it to her to sprinkle the real snow over everyone who actually came.

She sighs. They didn't even have to pay for the real snow. The artificial snow, however, they did have to pay for that; really, they were just pieces of Styrofoam broken into little pieces, and she saw no point in paying for it. The stupidity of the, supposedly, "cheap" Head of Committee.

Finished with packing her spiffy, new dance shoes, and other dance paraphernalia, she opens the door of the dance studio and bumps into the, who would've known, Co-Head of Committee.

"Miss Holt," said Co-Head of Committee says, upturned nose and all, "I hope you've been practicing. We wouldn't want you to get injured while 'flying', now would we?"

Translation: we don't want to pay for the hospital bills if you do hurt yourself.

Penny smiles sweetly at Mrs. Ingram. "Of course I've been practicing. I've been here since two." Mrs. Ingram glances at her watch: seven-fifteen.

"Very well." Mrs. Ingram grins saccharinely. Penny can tell it is artificial, just like the snow she has bought for Thursday night's charity show. There must be a reason she bought the snow in the first place, and Penny can see it in her ridiculously made up smile—they are both fake. "See you on Thursday!" Mrs. Ingram waves her Kiss Me Pink nails sweetly at Penny before turning and letting the poor girl escape from this God-awful dance studio.

Why she even takes dance lessons here, she has no idea why.

"Of course." And, without further ado, Penny turns and walks through the shiny, glass doorway of the humble establishment, unlocking her royal blue car with a simple pressing of the black key's opened-lock button.

She slides into the front seat with practiced ease, starting the engine with a slightly loud purr, and backs out of her parking space in a few minutes. It takes her a while to realize the lack of music surrounding her and wonders why that is—she never forgets to turn on her stereo.

The Mystery Guy flits into her mind, and she shakes her head. She can't be distracted about him, can she? She doesn't even know him.

Unless, of course, she does.

/ x /

Two weeks pass quickly, and, finally, it's the day Penny has not been waiting for: the day of the Winter Charity Function. With a long-suffering sigh, she slips into the silvery Angel's dress, and waits for her cue.

The crew harnesses her into the 'safety' equipment, assuring her of the security of the less-than-trustable accessories. But, still: she has to fly anyway. No point in doubting the already doubted.

Her turn finally comes, and, gracefully, she dances in mid-air, a feat harder than what it looks like. Dancing above the comfortably seated, in the skies where birds normally are—not humans, especially not humans in thin, silvery Angel's dresses—is something not everyone can do.

Penny smiles brilliantly, dancing as smoothly as possible, trying to keep herself from her mind's pessimism—that the line would break, that she would fall to her death—but she strays there anyway, something a bit ironic, and jinxed when she is not staying in one place anymore, but plunging to earth.

Screams erupt from the citizens still safely planted on earth, and, suddenly, Penny wishes the fake—like the snow and Mrs. Ingram's hostess-like smile—wings on the back of her Angel's dress is real, and she could fly, but, sadly, it is not—as fake as ever, and she closes her eyes, readying herself to die from the impact of the ground rising up to meet her—

And is thoroughly surprised when her eyes shoot open and she is in Mystery Guy's arms. "Hi," she tells him—as calm as one can be when, a few seconds previous, she'd been diving to her less-than-desired death.

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief as they crowd around Penny and Mystery Guy—the audience gasping with pure relief, while the Committee, save a few more . . . kinder members genuinely happy to see Penny alive and not broken on the floor, glazed eyes staring at nothing, gasped because they still didn't want to pay for the hospital bills.

"Thank you, Jared," Miss Ingram gushes, pushing her way to the front of the crowd and giving Mystery Guy a name. Penny tilts her head to the side—she had known a Jared, loved a Jared . . . before that Jared left.

"Yes," Penny speaks again, smiling at Jared. She has to admit about Jared being a very nice name for Mystery Guy—she still calls him Mystery Guy because he has always been that in her eyes, but, now that she knows Jared's name, she may start using Jared in place of Mystery Guy in her mind, even though the name still strikes her steadily mending heart in places they do not want to be struck. "Thank you, Jared."

He smiles at her, a little hesitantly, perhaps, but she realizes with an odd little thrill in her tummy, that he doesn't smile at Miss Ingram. She likes him already.

"You're welcome," he replies.

She blushes as she meets his fiery bronze gaze—blushing something she is not used to because Penny Holt is not someone who blushes easily—at least, after Old Jared left. So why can he, of all people, manage to make her blush so easily . . . and just with a polite reply?

And it is then that she realizes her body being above the ground, courtesy of Jared. "Um . . . can I go down now?" she mumbles meekly.

"Oh . . ." Do her eyes deceive her, or is he blushing? She smiles inwardly, nearly falling onto her rear end as he lets her down, too preoccupied with the realization of Jared blushing to realize her footing. For being a dancer, she is still very klutzy.

"Um . . ." He smiles. "You okay?"

"Yes, I am, thanks." Penny and Jared hadn't realized that the audience, the Committee, and everyone except the two of them had left. Until now.

Awkward . . .

"Er . . . what did you think?" Penny breaks the uncomfortable silence.

It seems as if he jolts back to earth, thoughts still running through his mind, as his brown-bronze eyes seek hers again. "What did I think of what?"

"The . . . erm—Charity Function Performance . . . thing."

Thing? She asks herself, again blushing furiously under his gaze.

"Oh." He smiles at her, suddenly not as mysterious as his smile reveals his personality—sweet and mysterious. "You were amazing."

"Oh . . ."—seems as if oh is their favorite word now—"thanks."

Opening his mouth to reply, he suddenly blurts, positively bursting at the seams with what he wants to say to her—"I got you something."

"What?" she asks him. "You got me something? I don't even know you!" She didn't want to make her words sound so harsh, but, without meaning to, she has.

Softly, he sighs. "Don't you recognize me, Pen?" She doesn't even think about the fact that she hasn't introduced herself to him—her name must've been on the program.

Pen . . . "Don't call me that," she tells him. Old Jared had called her Pen—Pen was his favorite nickname for her. "Please."

"Why not?" he asks, keeping a considerable distance away from her. He can tell that she is upset—more than upset, in fact.

"Because . . ." she doesn't know why she keeps on talking, confiding things she hasn't even told her best friends, but she does. "Because my ex-boyfriend used it before he . . . he left."

"Ex?" Jared doesn't care about being nosy—if anything, he needs to know.

She glances at him for a second, a question in her eyes, but she replies anyway, "Well, not exactly. I was only seventeen. He told me we needed a break . . . he had to move to Ontario."

"Oh. I'm sorry." She smiles at him.

"Thanks, but you don't have a reason to be sorry. You didn't even know Jared."

He doesn't say anything, doesn't meet her eyes, barely moves, and she tilts her head to the side again—a habitual gesture. "What is it?" she asks him.

Finally, he looks at her, and she feels her breath catch, but she doesn't know why. "Nothing."

"It's not nothing!" Penny insists, crossing her arms over her chest, shivering subconsciously.

Jared notices, a hint of worry entering his eyes—those smoldering bronze eyes—and he asks her, partially because he is worried and partially so he can divert the topic, "Are you cold?"

"Yes," she breathes. He hands her his jacket, revealing a form fitting gray collared shirt with sleeves rolled halfway up his arms, and a small glimmer of the white muscle shirt he is wearing underneath. "Thanks."

"You're welcome. Penny, I got you something," he repeats.

She blushes prettily again, and he smiles. "You didn't have to."

"I wanted to." And, momentarily, it seems as if she's forgotten the subject.

"Thank you," she whispers softly, once he gives her a slightly mushy, middle-sized package, wrapped pretty well for someone who isn't exactly the best gift-wrapper. "Are you sure there isn't anything food-like in here?

He grins, chuckling. "Nope."

Delicately, she tears the package open, giggling when she sees a medium sized stuffed penguin clothed in a polka dotted scarf. She had talked to Old Jared about penguins and polka dots; how did he know? Regardless, she appreciated the present. "Thank you, Jared!" she cries, throwing her arms around his neck in her favorite form of a hug.

"You're welcome," he laughs, relishing the feeling of her in his arms. His eyes close, and suddenly she's pulling away, leaving a feeling of loss, even though she is still in front of him, two feet away.

"Now, really, why did I get a present from you?"

"Because I missed you," he finally admits.

"What?" she asks him, feeling a shiver making its slow way through her body. "I don't recognize you. Have you been stalking me?"

He chuckles, grabs her wrist with surprisingly gentle fingers, and pulls her flush against him. She gasps, bringing her hands to his chest, meeting his eyes with her own confused gaze.

"Of course not, Pen. I can't believe you don't recognize me. Seven years is enough for you to forget me? I'm hurt, Pen, very, very hurt."

Her mind works overtime—7 years ago . . . Jared had left. "Jared?" she asks him. "Old Jared?" she smiles slightly. "Not that you're old, I mean, but—oh, I'll just shut up now."

"Penny," he whispers, chuckling lightly, his face so startlingly close to hers. She's grown a little; he doesn't have to bend as low as before. "I still love you, you know."

"I—I know." She takes the plunge, even if he suddenly has to move back to Ontario again. At the age of twenty-four, Jared Copeland was a graduated college student, looking for a job as a teacher, and Penny Holt was a dancer, born and bred. "I love you too."

He kisses her then, softly and almost a bit hesitantly; she responds, cupping his face with one hand, and smiling against his lips as he pulls away a fraction of an inch. Again and again, he kisses her, not able to get enough of her, as they reintroduce themselves to each other, and, even after 7 years of a different kind of separation, the two still love each other.

/ x /

"So," begins Jared three years later, wrapping his arms around her waist from behind as she stares out at the gorgeous view from their newly bought, newly moved-in house, his left ring finger glinting in the sun filtering through the huge bay window as he moves closer to her, "what do you think we should name her?"

Whether he was talking about the penguin with the polka-dotted scarf he'd bought her three years previous or their baby, he didn't exactly know.



notes. Voila! All done! Hope you love it, Priya! :) Merry Late Christmas, everyone! Please tell me if I made mistakes with anything!

Reviews are much appreciated. I'd love to know your thoughts. Constructive Criticism is much appreciated. I am absolutely in love with this oneshot for some weird, insane reason.