“Jesus, God, what? Shut up. What?”
“There’s nothing edible in this fucking fridge,” complains Penny, gesturing to the gigantic stainless steel monstrosity in the penthouse’s kitchen that currently contains 9 bottles of Glengoolie Blue and maybe something that was once a lime in happier times.
“Oh, yeah. You can blame my dad for that one.”
“Are you sure I can’t blame you, since you were the one who promised me snacks, only for us to wind up in this literal shithole? ”
“Couple things,” Abbiejean intones as she wanders into the kitchen, crushing something leafy-smelling with a pestle. “First, it’s a figurative shithole, not a literal one. Know your goddamn grammar, Elmer Fudd.” Penny scowls, but concedes the point. “And second…”
AJ tips the leafy stuff into a glass of something orange with one hand and gestures around the state-of-the-art kitchen with the other. “This is the nicest fucking shithole you’ve ever seen in your life.”
Penny smirks, “Okay, yeah, fair.”
“There’s gonna be food, Pen, Jesus. Just wait a second. Archer. Archer. Archeeeeer!”
“What?! I swear to God, AJ, I don’t understand why you have be up at the asscrack of dawn howling like- like some kind of howler monkey!”
AJ wrinkles her nose as her father staggers into the kitchen, his eyes bleary and bloodshot. “Um,” she mutters, stirring the tall glass of… carrot juice, maybe? It’s probably best Penny not know. “It’s almost 2 o’clock, so thanks for gracing us with your presence.”
“You’re welcome,” Archer replies with a groan, reaching out for the glass.
“And on that note of gratefulness,” AJ continues, her lips tight as she dangles the glass just out of his reach, wiggling it dangerously from her fingertips, “I don’t know if you wanna be yelling at the only person around here who knows how to make your extra-special hangover remedy.”
“What’s in that?” Penny inquires. Because this family is a trainwreck and she’s way too curious.
“Don’t ask,” AJ replies curtly, eyes still on her dad. Archer sighs in a long-suffering kind of way (the type of sigh Penny would think really belongs to the girl who’s been making hangover remedies since she was six, but she’s not going to bring it up) and takes the glass. “Fine, I’m sorry,” he rumbles, pinching his nose and lifting it to his mouth. His eyes shift to Penny above the glass and she waves cheerfully at him.
“Morning, Uncle Archer.”
“Morning, Penny. Is there a reason why you’re in my house and not off wasting your parents’ money at film school?”
“Be nice to Penny, Archer,” AJ snaps, which saves Penny the trouble of explaining that both film school and her parents have swiftly become non-factors in her life. “We were supposed to have a sleepover last night, and instead you called me drunk off your ass and we were forced to keep you from dying.”
“I wasn’t dying,” the grown man whines.
“Yeah, unfortunately,” AJ snaps back. “If you did, I could use my inheritance to buy some fucking food because apparently, you live off of expensive Scottish booze.”
Archer rolls his eyes violently, and Penny is struck by how much her cousin takes after her dad. “You know,” he continues, “you could always just ask me for money like a normal kid.”
AJ snorts, pressing her hands flat against the granite countertop as she smirks up at Archer. “I would’ve, but you were unconscious.” It’s true, Penny can attest to it. “So come on. Are you coughing up some cash or do I have to call Mom?”
Penny shuffles her feet as the Archers stare each other down over the granite-topped island. She wonders if she’d trade her homophobic parents, the ones who cut her off and kicked her out last night after finding photos of her and her girlfriend online, for this man who seems barely able to function on his own.
But then Uncle Archer breaks out in a grin and digs his wallet out of the pocket of his silk robe (because of course he keeps it on his person at all times), promptly handing AJ a wad of bills. Neither of them pauses to count them. Penny supposes this happens often enough that they don’t have to.
And, look, Penny’s parents have money, but she’s never seen people toss around dollars on dumb shit like the Archers. Aunt Lana vents about it constantly in their Skype chats.
“Thanks, Pops,” AJ says cheerfully, ignoring his aggravated groan in favour of shooing Penny towards the door. “Come on, Pen, we’re going for breakfast. And maybe some shopping.”
“Don’t you have classes today?” Penny replies, a laugh escaping despite herself.
“You said that like you had a point.”
They’re nearly to the front door when Archer calls AJ back, his voice sharp, and she rolls his eyes before doubling back to meet him there. Penny hovers by the door, still not comfortable around this much excess. Eventually, she decides they’re taking too long and cranes her neck back to be able to see into the kitchen.
The two Archers are standing together, foreheads close, Archer squeezing AJ’s shoulders lightly. He’s whispering something to her, and she nods twice before she leans into him for a wide hug and right there and then, Penny knows who she would’ve chosen if given the chance. And it wouldn’t have been for the money.
She’s back at the door by the time AJ strolls out of the kitchen, something tugging at the corner of her mouth that could be a smile or maybe a smirk. “Bring me back one of those bacon sandwiches from Starbucks, Abbiejean,” Archer hollers behind them and AJ doesn’t blink before yelling back, “You’ll be lucky if you get a goddamn scone, ” and later, after they’ve wasted their morning and most of their afternoon, Penny isn’t even surprised when AJ casually mentions that her father’s said she can crash with him as long as she needs.
She’ll have to learn to make the hangover cure, but there are worse things.