The small bell at the entrance jingled, causing Ickle to glance around the customer at the checkout desk to see who came in. Penwright smiled and waved over at her, and she quickly waved back before returning her attention to ringing up her customer’s order while he distracted himself by looking at her stock of blank notebooks and journals.
With the last customer of the day taken care of, Ickle breathed a sigh of accomplishment and walked out from behind the counter to greet her guest.
“Good evening, Penwright!” she said cheerfully. “How are you today?”
He smiled as he replaced the small journal he was looking at on the shelf. “Doing quite well, thank you,” he replied. “Weather’s a bit chilly, but still pleasant for a stroll through town.”
“Let me close up the store real quick, then we’ll head upstairs,” she said.
Ickle quickly counted and cleared out the bits in the register while Penwright flipped the front sign to “closed” and locked the front doors. After dropping off today’s earnings in her safe, she trotted back over to Penwright, who was removing his felt coat.
“Shall we?” she said, gesturing towards the stairs leading to her apartment.
“Lead the way,” he replied with a smile.
They walked upstairs, where Ickle unlocked the door and stepped inside, Penwright closing the door behind him. Her ear twitched when she heard a sudden ripping of fabric and a surprised yelp from Penwright.
“Aw, darn it!” he shouted in frustration. She turned and saw him looking at a not-quite-so-small tear in the shoulder of his black collared shirt where the door handle had caught on it.
“Oh my goodness, are you all right?” she asked.
“Yeah, it just ripped my shirt,” he said, trying to keep his voice level. He sighed in exasperation. “Doggone it, I hate it when this happens.”
“Hold on, I have a needle and some thread here,” Ickle said, trotting to the breakfront in her living room and pulling out her sewing kit. She retrieved her spool of black thread and frowned. “Oh dear.”
She held up the spool, revealing a sparse amount of thread left on it. “Not really, I’m almost out of thread on this one. I have some more in my bedroom closet, though.”
“I’ll go get it!” Penwright quickly offered, already trotting to her room.
“It’s in the small wooden box on the top shelf immediately to your left!” Ickle called back as she walked to the kitchen and set the kettle on the stove. She heard him opening the door to her closet and moving a few things around.
“Oh hey! You have some paintings back here!” Penwright called. “More of your abstract dream catchers?”
Ickle’s heart suddenly froze, dread filling her stomach. Half-running, half-flying, she dashed to her bedroom in a panic. “No! Don’t look at them!”
It was too late. Penwright had already pulled off the cloth dust cover, revealing a painting of Ickle lying under a tree, wearing a crown of flowers, white lacey stockings, and peach-colored panties. His face turned red as he stared at it, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. He mutely glanced over at her, and she shrank away, hiding her bright red face beneath her wings.
Penwright’s mind finally caught up and he quickly replaced the dust cover over the painting. “I-I’m sorry!” he said, his words tumbling out of his mouth. “That was rude of me! I won’t go poking around your closet again!”
Ickle peeked through her feathers at him. “It’s…it’s okay,” she whispered, her voice tight with embarrassment. “You didn’t know, and you didn’t mean anything bad by it.”
“Oh, well, I still apologize,” he replied, to which Ickle just nodded behind her wings. They stood there, glancing at each other and shuffling awkwardly in silence.
“Tea?” Penwright asked after a while.
Ickle lowered her wings a little and nodded at him. “Tea sounds good.”
He walked by her and quickly out of the room. Ickle stared at the covered painting leaning against the wall in her closet, her cheeks still burning with embarrassment. She sat in her room even after she heard the kettle whistling, still feeling awkward about the whole situation.
It wasn’t until after she heard the soft clink of a saucer settling on her desk that she looked up, spying the blue glow of Penwright’s magic disappear from the steaming tea cup. She sighed quietly, realizing that she was starting to act a bit rude herself.
“You can come in, Penwright,” she said. “It’s okay, I’m not mad.”
He tentatively poked his head in through the doorway, still looking a little embarrassed himself. “You sure?” he asked. “I can leave now if you want.”
Ickle shook her head. “No no, it’s all right. I’m sorry, I’m being rude by making you feel uncomfortable.”
Penwright raised an eyebrow in confusion. “Making me feel uncomfortable? If anypony should be apologizing, it’s me for digging through your things like that.”
“It’s okay, really. You didn’t know and you were just curious.”
Silence hung in the air for a moment before Penwright stifled a chuckle. “Shall we continue counter-apologizing each other for a couple more rounds, or should we just move on and drink some tea? I should warn you, though, that my capacity for guilt is extremely high.”
Ickle snorted a laugh. “No, tea sounds like a better idea,” she chuckled and the two of them walked back to the kitchen with their tea cups. They sat in silence as they sipped their tea, but the mood had lightened considerably enough so that it wasn’t nearly as awkward as before.
She then noticed that Penwright was staring into the distance just past her, deep in thought. “Something on your mind?” she inquired gently.
“Hm?” He blinked and looked at her, snapping out of his reverie. “Oh, no, it’s nothing.”
“It’s okay, you can tell me.”
He hesitated for a moment, then took a deep breath. “If…if you don’t mind me asking,” he started a little uncertainly. He glanced at Ickle. “Just…how did you end up posing for that painting? In that outfit?”
ask-princess-hailee asked: Don't forget about the snow dear. I'll be bringing it soon.