The scene: the farmhouse kitchen, the screen door banging closed and Whit's truck squealing out of the driveway.
The people: Penny and Drew sitting in silence, unsure exactly what happened between Whit-staring-into-some-middle-distance-for-two-days and Whit-charging-out-of-here-wow-he's-really-going-after-Cooper-isn't-he.
And then: the wait.
Because from the minute Whit's taillights disappear beyond the bend in the road, Drew and Penny are left wondering what the hecking heck is going to happen. Penny is hopeful. Drew is still moderately confused. The cows are unimpressed and are waiting for their breakfast.
Oddly, for as much time as Penny and Drew have spent together over the years, this is the first time Whit's ever been gone for so long. It's not that it's always the three of them, all the time, but this amount of one-on-one is... different. It's quieter with only one other person in the house. And a bit lonely too, as Penny quickly realizes, since she and Whit are so often hanging out.
Though this entire Whit-running-off-into-the-sunset situation is a ripe opportunity to mix a drink, sit outside and admire the fall foliage while gossiping about Whit and Cooper, now that Drew finally knows what's been going on.
Except... except that Drew's working. Working way more than just picking up the other half of Whit's responsibilities. It's autumn, it's not like the farm is as busy as midsummer. And Penny's happy to take some time off her job at the bar to cover Whit's tasks, so Drew isn't exactly swamped.
No, instead, with the clarity of the quieter schedule of fall and the departure of Whit, it means Drew's is - Penny's help or not - alone on the farm for the first time in years. And Drew looks around himself and takes stock of, just, everything. This farm his uncle left him. The business he's been trying to run. The hole that Cooper and Whit dug him out of over the summer, and how much Drew has been relying on them to keep his head above water - financially, emotionally, practically: all of it.
And he's realizing oh no he's got to get his shit together. Cause otherwise, the way this thing is going, he's always going to be relying on someone else and he'll never, not ever, get onto his own two feet running this place. Every hope his family had for him, stewarding this land and running this business - he can't do it. Or: he hasn't done it, but he can. He will. He's going to, someway or another.
So when Penny suggests an evening fire in the backyard and some fancy cocktails to sip while they speculate on how it's going out in Oregon, Drew's not in a place to put his feet up and relax.
Which is, well, expected. Cause maybe it's not just the two of them very often, but Penny has known Drew for ages and of course at the very first sign of the farm's success, he's going to drive himself down a rabbit hole of oh-shit-he-should-have-been-able-to-do-all-of-this-himself. So no, it's not surprising, but it is a little annoying that he can't just take the chance to relax.
Or the chance to hang out with her. Sit and enjoy the autumn evening, spend some time together, chit-chat about their friends, and help craft an oh-so-innocent text to Whit nudging him into spilling the details. Because really, what's the fun in watching someone dash off across the country if they're not going to pick apart every word that Whit said before he left (there were like six of them, it won't even take that long) and tease apart all the different ways everything could play out. Will Cooper be happy to see him? Will they kiss and make up? Is Whit going to be dragging himself back here with his tail between his legs? Is Drew ever - ever - going to finish whatever he's doing in the cheese room and come help Penny speculate??
Yes, he will. Later.
Which is... when?
Whenever he's done.
And this, here, in a nutshell, is where we find Penny and Drew at the start of While the Sun Shines, in which Penny finally reaches the end of her rope and Drew finally gets the wake up call that he's been oblivious to time and time again.
Because it's like this: Drew and Penny have been best buds for years. And Penny's completely clear on the fact that Drew is a) kinda turned out to be a hottie and by kinda she means: wowza, he was so awkward and gangly once and now just. look. at. him. b) the nicest guy in the world and not 'nice' like men who just want to get her in bed, but like actually: nice. a kind and decent and caring and wonderful person, c) would make an amazing partner that anyone would be lucky to have, and d) really very hot and he makes cheese. So: ideal, no?
No, because he's also got his head up his butt with unrelenting confidence issues and anxiety and the sum total of this is his inability to actually look around himself, spot his friend Penny who is also outstandingly attractive, also wonderful, and also life-long-partner-material, and do anything about the years-long crush he's had on her. Or, ok, he doesn't do nothing - he actively and painfully ignores it because there's no way someone like her would ever want someone like him.
Which, he's not wrong about. Because she wants someone who will pay attention to her. Spend time with her. Leave the fucking barn once in a blue moon and share an evening together, holy hell how long is Whit going to be gone cause it's lonely as anything to be here on the farm and basically be alone, with Drew up to his elbows in curds and worries. But if Drew could pull his head up for two seconds, see what's right in front of him, and make some room in his life for her, well... that'd be pretty damn sweet.
But he doesn't. And Penny's hanging out on her lonesome when Whit finally gets in touch, and she's even more alone when Cooper comes back, because he and Whit are just so incredibly (sweetly, adorably, annoyingly) wrapped up in each other. That new couple love where everything else fades into a dim background? Yeah, sucks to be on the outside of that, no matter how happy she is for them.
Luckily, Drew does get himself together, but that's a story for While the Sun Shines, where we pick up with these two, their missed chances, miscommunications, and misunderstandings as they sort their out lives - and their feelings for each other.