Penny does not regret dragging the gang to the beach. Her boys need sunshine and socialization. She does, however, regret not stalking Kurt’s Instagram before picking the beach they were going to. Because of course he’s joined a recreational volleyball league that sets up at the court right behind the spot Sheldon deemed ideal to set up their camp. And there is no way in hell she’s going to convince Sheldon to move, so she hunkers down under her wide-brimmed hat and prays Kurt doesn’t notice them.
Her luck holds until early afternoon when a just-drunk-enough-to-sway Kurt saunters over and obviously leers down at her bikini. Eventually, his gaze makes it past her boobs and up to her face. His leer turns into a smirk. “Penny?”
She glares over her sunglasses and frowns. “Nope, Captain Kirk.”
Behind her, Sheldon wheezes out something approximating a laugh. “That was sarcasm.”
Penny reaches back and absently gropes until she can pat his leg. “Good job, sweetie.”
“I’m going for a walk,” she announces abruptly, then rolls to her feet and walks away before anyone can protest.
She doesn’t breathe easy until she’s a solid half-mile down the beach and no one seems to have followed her. She feels slightly guilty for leaving the boys alone in proximity to Kurt, but hopes the crowded beach is enough to deter any violence.
She makes her way back about an hour later, finds Kurt’s group has moved down to another court, and relaxes, enjoying the rest of the day with just a little more awareness of her surroundings than she would usually employ at the beach. There’s a bonfire and dance on the beach that night, and it only takes a bit of bribery toward Sheldon to convince the boys to stay.
Penny is letting herself get lost in the crowd dancing near the fire when a pair of hands slide around her waist. She smiles and keeps dancing until she hears Kurt’s familiar voice in her ear, then jerks away and walks the other direction without looking back. She can hear him cursing and shoving through the crowd behind her. She glances toward the empty stretch of open beach outside the firelight, then decides there’s safety in numbers and slips through gaps too small for Kurt to fit through, buying herself a little time. She moves toward the bar set up on the far side of the DJ’s booth and scans the crowd, looking for any possible salvation.
Her gaze lands on a pair of men at the far end of the bar, casually leaning in each other’s space. Both men are built. The blond is clean cut and wearing blue board shorts and a gray hoodie. The slightly shorter guy is scruffier, a little more devil-may-care, with dark hair curling almost to the shoulders of his dark hoodie. His jeans are much more suited to the chill of the beach at night than the blond’s board shorts. Both have their fingers wrapped around the necks of beer bottles and don’t seem to have a care in the world.
Penny observes all of this in a matter of seconds, then decides to trust her gut practically screaming at her that these guys are safe. She makes a beeline for them.
The scruffy one raises an eyebrow under the bill of his cap when she stops in front of them.
Penny smiles, wide and apologetic. “Would it be too much to hope you guys are the type to save a damsel in distress?”
The blond makes a strangled sound.
Penny turns her smile on him. “Save a girl from the asshole of the century?” She hears a scuffle and round of curses in the crowd behind her, winces, and resists the urge to turn and look. She can practically feel Kurt bearing down on them.
The dark haired guy reaches out with his free hand and hooks his fingers into one of the belt loops of her shorts, and shifts a bit, somehow managing to tuck her into his side between him and the blond while simultaneously putting himself between her and the crowd.
Penny can’t quite track the move, but she’s impressed. She smiles gratefully. “I’m Penny, by the way. Thank you so much, sorry if this leads to a fight. Kurt, my ex, is a little hot-headed.”
He grins down at her, slow and easy, all old school charm. “Pretty sure I’d fight the Nazis again as long as you keep smiling at me like that, doll.”
Penny’s jaw drops.
Penny catches her breath and beams up at him. “Hi.”
He chuckles then shoots a glance at the blond.
Penny’s brain catches up with the situation and she turns her head to the taller man as well. She raises an eyebrow.
James reaches out and pokes him in the stomach with his beer bottle. “Say something, punk!”
His blush spreads.
James leans down to faux-whisper, his lips brushing against her ear sending a shiver through her. “He’s not so great talking to the dames.”
Penny wrinkles her nose. “‘Dames’? What is this 1940?”
The blond’s blush spreads impossibly further, but he manages to open his mouth long enough to blurt, “You’re beautiful.”
Penny, despite knowing it was coming, melts a bit.
James snorts against her hair. “Real original, punk.”
Penny elbows him.
The blond glares, then turns a softer gaze back on Penny. “I’m Steve.” He offers her his free hand.
She reaches out and grasps it, then doesn’t let go.
He smiles and shuffles his feet, edging closer.
Penny snorts. “Someone as big as you should not be so adorable.”
He smiles sheepishly. “Can’t help it, doll.”
Penny rolls her eyes. “Not that I don’t like it, but ‘doll’?”
Steve shrugs. “Uh, about that 1940 thing…” He trails off, and James tenses behind her.
Penny squints up at him, then back at James, something niggling at the back of her brain trying to connect Nazis, dames, doll, 1940, James, and Steve.
A commotion in the crowd, then Kurt stumbling into the bar next to them, brings reality crashing back in. “Penny! There you are! Come on and finish the dance, babe.”
Penny huddles back into James and wrinkles her nose at the sheer amount of booze she can smell sweating off her ex. “Not interested,” she tells him coldly.
James’ arm tightens around her waist, a silent reassurance.
Steve steps forward, between them and Kurt. “Think you need to be moving on, sir.”
Kurt snarls. “Fuck off, man, this isn’t any of your business. Who the fuck are these tools, Penny?”
Penny just smirks.
James sets his beer on the bar. In another move Penny can’t quite track, she’s spun into Steve’s arms and James in right up in Kurt’s space. “I really suggest you leave, pal.”
“Or what?” Kurt scoffs.
There is nothing friendly about the smile that twists James’ lips. Penny shivers.
Kurt is apparently too drunk to notice the threat. “This is between me and her, pal, and you can fuck off.” He reaches out in a clear attempt to shove James’ shoulder.
James’ left hand shoots out and catches Kurt’s wrist and he twists until a pop sounds.
Kurt cries out and drops to his knees.
James hauls him back up by the collar and he gets right in Kurt’s face. “Ever come near her or try to talk to her again, I’ll break more than your wrist. Clear?”
James drops him in a heap and turns back to Steve and Penny.
Penny catches a glint of torch light off his left hand and her brain screeches to a halt.
“Penny? Shit, Stevie, I think I scared her.”
Penny rapidly shakes her head. “No! Oh gosh, no! Not scared. That was actually super hot. I just… uh, I just realized who you guys are.” They both tense until her eyes light up and she laughs. “I am going to be the most envied and hated woman in the world.”
Steve relaxes marginally. “You actually want to be seen with us?”
Penny cranes her neck to give him a Look. “Who the hell wouldn’t?”
Steve shrugs. “Could put you in that whole damsel in distress position a lot more often.”
Penny shrugs back. “You guys will save me, right?”
“Always,” James answers fiercely.
Penny beams. “Then we’re all good.”
Both men look at her with something like wonder.
When a police officer interrupts the moment, Penny is shuffled back to James in another move she can’t quite track - she gets the feeling that’s going to be happening a lot - and Steve seamlessly takes over handling the officer. Somehow, Penny isn’t surprised when the officer hauls Kurt back up off the floor and starts guiding him toward the parking lot.
Steve comes back to them and blushes as he takes Penny’s hand. “Uh… would it be too forward to ask you to come home with us?”
She leans her head back against James’ chest. “He always gonna be this blushy around me?”
James snorts. “We might be able to break him of it eventually.”
She looks back at Steve. “I’d love to. I just have to tell my frien- oooh.” Her smile turns a bit manic as a slightly concerning glint enters her eyes. “Sheldon’s gonna shit a brick.”