Delicious Surprise, Part 7
Part one for disclaimers!
Vaguely ribald humor makes this one a PG-13; nothing beyond the level of "Spanish Fry", though.
Fry stirred to wakefulness on the couch. His arms were still around Leela and he gave her a gentle hug. He still felt very, very lucky to be her husband, even if it meant having to take care of her when those horrible nightmares returned.
He shuddered at the thought of them; best to focus on the good times. Chief among those would always be the night he asked Leela to marry him.
"Today's Valentine's Day!" Fry chanted to himself. It was one of those impossible-to-forget dates, especially to someone as in love as he was, but it never hurt to keep reminding himself. He rushed about the PE Building, looking for a particular wrinkled face.
"Professor?" he asked his elderly nephew. "Could you help me get onto the internet?"
Professor Farnsworth snorted, "Fry, you fool, can't you figure out how to log on by yourself yet?"
"But the last two times, I did it with Leela. And I can't ask her to help today, 'cause I want to do something special, and she can't know until tonight..."
"Oh, stop your infernal babbling!" Farnsworth grumbled, "I'll start the machine if you'll just get in the suit without complaining."
Suited and ready to go, Fry stepped into the worldwide web and tried to orientate himself. He began strolling in the direction of a glowing sign reading "Shopping" before a small mailbox hopped up to him.
"Welcome!" it said cheerfully, a piece of yellow mail sticking out of its mouth. "You've got mail."
"Thanks..." Fry said, withdrawing the letter from its mouth. Instantly he was inundated with reams of paper. He shrugged to himself, deciding to read through them.
"Spam... spam... oooh! Coupon for I Can't Believe It's Not Spam!" He shoved that back into the mailbox.
"You've got mail!" the box peeped again.
"...spam... picture of a naked fembot in binary code... aww, they're sending Bender's stuff to my inbox!" He tossed it back in. "Oooh! 'Make your hot dog a foot long...'"
"Fry, we're on an hourly rate!" The Professor's voice rang out.
Fry sighed, shoving the rest of them mail back into the box before following his original path to the sign.
Suddenly, a lovely young lady appeared before him. "Hey, ASL?"
"Huh?!" His eyes were locked on the bright "shopping" sign in front of him.
"Aww, come on! ASL?"
"Age, Sex, Location!"
"I'm standing right in front of you, can't you tell?"
The girl looked him up and down as Fry hurried down the street. "Uh, I'm 24/f/right here. Wanna cyber? Please!! I'm so lonely and horny in this tiny tank top!"
"I may have a year ago. But now the only girl I've ever loved is dating me, and I wouldn't think about cheating on her. Sorry." The girl didn't stop her pursuit; Fry wondered why the Professor hadn't blocked out the instant harasser option before he stepped online. He ended the girl's pursuit with a simple wave of his hand. She banged into the invisible barrier Fry left behind, instantly reverting to her true form; that of a balding, plump forty-year old in a sweaty tee-shirt.
His connection crushed, the man's image began to flicker before he said. "Tell them... my last words were... L... O... L!"
Fry shook his head as he entered the store.
Which instantly transformed into the world's largest mall.
A woman in a very short skirt and very high hair offered him, "Viagra! Now in suppository form!"
"Nope; I'm set in that department."
"How about a free can of Slurm?"
"That sounds like a trick... but why would you be holding that cool, luscious bottle of Slurm if it was?" he reached for it, only to have the girl pull back her hand.
"Uh-uh; you have to forward these cans to over a hundred of your friends to get it free!"
"What?! That _is_ a trick!"
"But everyone loves forwards!" He backed away as she shouted, "If you don't, you won't have any friends! EVER! And you'll go bald..." She sighed, watching him retreat. "I'm so desperately lonely."
Suddenly, a very suave-looking man appeared before her. "Hey, cutie. ASL?"
Fry made his way to a jewelry store, hurrying now. The instant he set foot inside, a blond-haired salesman jumped into his path.
"Hello young man! In search of a deal today?"
"Yeah... I was wondering what you had in an engagement ring?"
"Ahh!" A red siren began spinning, emitting an ear-splitting whine. A stampede of salesmen ran from the back room and filled the sales floor, shouting to Fry that they could get him the best deal.
"Back off!" the first salesman shouted, shoving and kicking with all of his energy. "He's mine!"
"I think I changed my mind," Fry mumbled in a tiny voice. The salesman struggled free of the throng, pulling Fry over to an ornately lit display case behind a clear glass wall. The other salesmen continued to pound on the glass partition, though the siren had gone quiet.
"Now, would you like to starve for four years, or just two?" The clerk pointed behind him, showing off diamonds about the size of his fist. Fry caught sight of a poster behind the clerk's head; the woman in it was smiling rapturously, but her hand dragged against the ground beneath the weight of the stone. "Ahh, the DeBeers LeBehemoth; a very popular choice. Now, it will only ensure that you live in a hovercar for five years. But it sure will be worth that happy look on the missus-to-be's face!"
Fry stared blankly at the price tags in front of him. "Uhhh... can I buy one that would involve no starving at all?"
The clerk glanced at him over the rim of his glasses. "A cheapskate, eh?" Fry glanced sideways at the glass and was unsurprised to see that the other clerks had suddenly disappeared. The case pivoted to reveal a far more darkly lit interior, leaking something green and slimy, and containing three rings.
Fry squinted to see his options; one was greenish in color, and somewhat fuzzy. Another seemed to have some sort of spider creature where a diamond should be. The third was the most normal-looking. "That one!" he pointed to the last ring.
"Mmm... funny, they usually pick the one with the spider." The clerk withdrew the ring, blowing on it before putting it under a microscope. "As you can see, the quality of our diamonds are unsurpassed."
Fry leaned over the counter, staring into the microscope. It still looked like a plain gold band. "I don't see anything."
"Oh, my mistake. I only had it on 1000/50." He turned up the magnification, and Fry could almost see the glow of a minuscule diamond.
"Sorry," Fry said. "This isn't good enough for Leela."
The salesclerk's eyes brightened. "Leela? THE Leela?"
"Uh... she doesn't like it when I brag about her." He grinned. "Too bad she's not here! Yup, I'm going to marry Turanga Leela, the chick who killed Santa."
"Well, now that changes everything!" He smiled. "Would you like your diamond bigger than a doll's head or bigger than President Nixon's head?"
"Why does everything you sell come in head-sized increments?"
"Look, I'll work my side of the street. You work yours."
Fry shook his head, "Leela deserves something... I dunno... something she can wear but not worry about it falling off if she gets into a fight with a space demon or something. She likes to do stuff, so I don't want it in her way." He muttered to himself. "Think, Fry... if you get her a diamond-studded scrunchie, she'll just say you're copying that you from the other universe."
"That what from the what?" The clerk asked.
"Never mind," Fry sighed. Then his eyes brightened. "Hey, do you guys do custom settings?"
"For Turanga Leela, we'll move the heavens and earth if we have to. Really! We have a machine that can do that!"
"Don't... But I think I have an idea." Fry doodled something on a piece of paper. "Can you do this on a plain gold band?"
The jeweler squinted at the drawing. "In five minutes or four?"
"Wow, it'll only take five minutes?"
"Sir, we could do it in three if you'd just shut up and pay us."
Fry quickly emptied his wallet onto the counter. He winced. "I don't think I have enough for this..."
"How much do you have?"
"Hmm..how about in credit?"
"We'll take it!"
"...just as long as you and your fiancée tell everyone where you got this ring."
"Great. We'll Fed-Fax it to you in four minutes."
Fry watched them run his card through a scanning device, accepted it back, and lifted off his helmet, returning him to the PE Building.
Sure enough, in four minutes the Professor's Fed-Fax machine beeped and spat out a package, which landed on the floor with a thud. Fry hopped out of his suit and rushed over to it, then ripped it open.
The Professor looked at the contents with mild interest. "Oh my. That appears rather expensive. Are you sure Leela wouldn't mind a diamond-encrusted blaster gun?"
Fry shook his head. "This means more to the both of us than that ever could." He smiled at Farnsworth. "Prof, I know we aren't really close or anything, but I'd like for you to stand up for me at the wedding."
"I'd be delighted to be your best man!"
"Uh, no, I was gonna make Bender that."
"Ohhh... well, I'll make a fine usher..."
"Hermes and Zoidberg."
"Fine! I could stand in the background, drooling banana mush all over the ground and babbling about the glory of silent holograms!"
"Why not? And my training in jazz and tap could finally come into use!"
Fry's expression showed confusion, but he reached out and hugged his elderly nephew anyway. "Thanks." He felt a set of bony hands groping against the back of his neck. "Professor, I don't have any valuable junk in my pineal gland."
"Nonsense! Now just bend over a little farther."
Fry excused himself swiftly, leaving the Professor to find another way to extend his lifespan.
Fry carefully lit the final candle before sitting down in a welcoming comfortable black chair. "Are you sure you don't mind if I use the office for a little bit? I did bribe you enough, right?"
"Oh, no trouble at all. Offices have multiple uses... IN THE FUTURE!"
Fry rolled his eyes. "Yeah, thanks, Terry." The man who had welcomed him into the thirtieth century stood smiling in front of the desk. "That means you can go."
"Oh. Well, goodbye..."
"From the Future, I get it..." Terry retreated, frowning, and Fry took quick stock of the surroundings he had created.
"Okay. Candles... check. Wine... check. Ring... ohmigod, where did I put the..." He found it in his jacket pocket and sighed. "Okay, Fry, calm down... so what if you've never done this before? You've never been in love before! Hundreds of guys have done this before you though, so don't worry if you don't know what to do, hah hah hah... stop talking to yourself!"
Footsteps in the hallway made him sit up straighter. Leela's voice sent his heart fluttering into his throat.
"Why did they have to put it on the sixty-fourth floor?! I hope Fry likes me sweaty... what a way to spend Valentine's day... I get all dressed up to meet him somewhere romantic and he leaves a note telling me to meet him here... stupid tubes _would_ be out of order... climb sixty flights up... Hmm... candy hearts on the floor? 'I Wuv U'... 'Stay Sweet'..." Her voice rose. "'You're My Man'?" She burst into the office, following the trail to what used to be her desk at Applied Cryogenics.
Picking up the final heart, she read in a very soft voice. "'U Leave Me Breathless.'"
He smiled. "Hey. I like you sweaty."
Leela wore a lovely dark violet dress with a cut-out navel, and lighter opera gloves; all were slightly sweaty from her climb. "I thought something was going on. How did you convince Terry to let you in?" Then she took a long look at her surroundings. Candles set up everywhere possible. Soft music playing in the background. A bowl of candy hearts on the desk, alongside his holophonor. Mistletoe hanging from the ceiling.
Leela knew exactly what that meant. "Fry..." She whispered softly.
He walked from behind the desk, falling to his knees. "Leela, I'm not good at speeches. But I know I want to be with you. Sometimes, I feel like it was meant to happen, even if I didn't love you right away. I think it started when I drank that emperor, and Bender told me that they had juiced you to death. The idea of you dying made me so sad that I started to cry. And, well, no other girl ever made me cry...except for Mary Ellen Clegg, but a punch in the nose doesn't count." He took a deep breath. "It's been four years since I met you, and it got better and better and worse and worse, even when you kept telling me no. I couldn't give up trying, because I love you." He pulled a small box from his pocket and opened it.
Leela gasped again, even more softly. Inside the velvet box was an elaborately carved ring featuring an image of two hands linked together. At the place where their fingers linked lay a glittering heart-shaped diamond.
"Inside, it says 'Leela leaves Fry breathless." She stood still, her eye wide. "Uh. In case you didn't know, I just asked you to marry me."
Leela reacted as strongly as he imagined she would: by crying.
He stood, wrapping his arms around her and leaving the ring on the desk. "Hey... what does that mean?"
She shook her head. "I don't know." She dashed away a tear. "It's so much... I've been through a lot these past few months."
"Do you need to think about it?"
She didn't pause before saying, "No! Fry, I've thought too much when it comes to you and me. Maybe I should be more impulsive...without all of those attempted killings." She smiled. "I know I don't want to be with anyone else... Fry, why are you blocking your ears?"
"I said 'Why are you blocking your ears'?"
"Leela, I can't hear you! I'm blocking my ears so I can't hear you tell me no!"
She pulled his hands away. "Fry..." She said, rubbing them gently between her own.
He screwed his eyes shut tightly, as though to hide from the truth.
"I'll never love anyone else... What?"
"Yes. Yes, Fry, I'll marry you, yes!"
He laughed out loud, hugging her tightly, then dipping her backward for a kiss.
Somewhere outside the door, they vaguely heard, "Have a happy marriage... IN THE FUTURE!"
They would never see the coat flourish that accompanied those words. Terry was very, very proud of it, too. But all that greeted him was a door being kicked shut in his face.
Fry gave Leela an involuntarily strong squeeze as he slipped back into unconsciousness. Marrying her had been the luckiest thing that had ever happened to him.
He couldn't admit to himself that it was also the hardest