Delicious Surprise, Part 8
For disclaimers, see chapter one!
I've caught a mistake in the previous chapter: when we head into the flashback, it should, of course, read 3003, not 2003. All fresh versions should have this corrected.
Brief lyrical quotations from the Beatles songs "Norwegian Wood" and "In My Life" are used in this chapter. All songs are Lennon/McCartney compositions, and probably belong to Michael Jackson at this point. But the emphasis is on the word "brief"; this won't turn into a songfic.
Very brief lyrical quotations from "I Will Always Love You", as performed by Dolly Parton, are also used, even though Bender's the one singing it.
Also quoted: the Paulie Shore song "Lisa (The One I Adore)". (Remember that one?)
Also quoted is the song "At Last", as popularized by Etta James, but covered by many artists, including Celine Dion and Eva Cassidy. Once again, don't own, and brief quotations.
Don't let all of these lyrics put you off; they don't even make an eighth of the story.
Part of this chapter is also fondly based on the fan art of FemJesse, whose lovely pieces featuring Leela and Fry listening to music inspired a scene in this chapter. A kind of a homage, if you will :) .
Also, try to find the Bloom County reference. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Dedicated with love to my beta, Dave. Fic does a 'shipper's heart good, no?
"What?" Lilah whispered, shoving Bender forward. "Go after her!"
"Hell no!" Bender whispered, ducking behind Lilah.
"What're you afraid of?"
"I ain't afraid of nothin'!" Bender mumbled sharply, his voice a parody of its usual overconfident self.
"Bender, you've carried a torch for Angelyne for a long time now. You'd think that you'd want to..."
"Whatever yer thinkin', you got it wrong, meatball," he snapped. "I gave up Angelyne so she'd be happy with Flexo. I wonder what the dumb jerk did..."
"Isn't she a bending unit, like you? Why would she be working here?" Lilah interrupted.
"Any idiot could get reprogrammed into bein' a butlerbot or a maidbot. She probably lost her job at the plant."
"Bender, I'm ashamed of you. There's someone you loved, who loved you, standing over there vacuuming a fake penguin's behind, and you're not even trying to make conversation with her! You'd think after losing the Countess..."
"Don't bring her up!" Bender hissed angrily, and she wilted.
"Sorry, Bender. But... go say hello. That's my advice."
"Yeah, sure, kid," he replied dully, and she knew that she couldn't help him any further.
He said nothing as she walked back to her bench at the Head Museum. Lilah knew that there wasn't any way that she'd fall back to sleep at this point. Opening her cell communicator, she tried to call home, then the PE Building. Receiving busy signals at both numbers, she gave up.
She didn't, however, put down the phone. There were functions she had forgotten about. She worked through several layers before finding a menu of videos she had uploaded.
She groaned in embarrassment. Her first steps, her first word; all synched up from her father's recordings of those moments. But her favorite, as it was "directed" by her Uncle Bender, was her parents' wedding.
Since she had nothing better to do, she selected it. A procession of hand made "title cards" proclaimed that Bender Bending Rodriguez was the creator, director and sole owner of the video "Wedded Bits". Another title appeared:
Leela groaned to herself; a glance across her kitchen table told her that at the moment, Fry wasn't much happier.
"Okay, this caterer says he'll do the job for five-fifty, but we have to provide our own oven," he said. "This one says he'll do it for half-price, if you'll do a commercial for them. And this one says we should have booked him two years ago."
Leela groaned. "Ho, you think that's bad? Try booking a band!" Her face betrayed desperation. "How do you feel about hiring a Martian-Latvian Folk Polka band named 'The Mighty Gleep-Glocks'?"
Fry shrugged. "Do they use dulcimers?"
"This is hopeless!" She dumped the yellow pages in a drawer and sank back into her chair.
"Leela, nothing's ever hopeless! You're great at organizing stuff!"
"I'm great at organizing battles and strategies, not at finding a dress that doesn't make my butt look fat!"
"Then don't go shopping with Amy!" She glared, and Fry cleared his throat before continuing. "You shouldn't be working so hard, Leela. We should both be relaxing after what we've been through. I'm sure we can get a wedding planner, I mean, how hard could that be?"
"I specialize in getting everything done quickly, efficiently, and with style...IN LIMERICK!! There once was a wedding called..."
Leela hung up the vidphone with a sigh, mopping her brow. Fry, surprisingly well collected, sat sipping a can of Slurm and watched her quietly.
"I told you: hopeless. That was the fifth one!"
He shrugged. "We could hire that German guy, what was his name, Adolph?"
"Fry, that was Hitler's clone!" She sighed again before continuing. "He was close, but I don't think I could march in goose-step for that long."
Fry shrugged. "Let's just calm down and do the basics." Leela found a clipboard, and they settled in the Lounge to discuss what needed to be done.
"Let's see; everyone in town wants to help..."
"But they're only doing it so they can advertise themselves. My life's been nothing but ads for the past few months, and I'm sick of it! Banner ads, commercials; I even have a Playtex ad on my bra!"
Fry leered, and she sighed, not as annoyed as she once would have been.
"Well, the last twenty stunts you tried were sorta cool," he said.
Leela shook her head. "No thanks. Besides, I'm running out of space for temporary promotional tattoos."
She scratched her arm, accidentally activating one shaped like a beer can. "Leela says: Try Lo-Brau!"
"No I don't!"
"Yes you do!"
She pinched the skin. "Not on my off-time."
Fry smiled. "What did you always dream of doing when you were a kid?"
Leela's expression turned fond. "Well, in my head it sort of looked the way it did when I almost married Al. But what I really want is a nice ceremony at the First Amalgamated Church." Her eyes brightened. "Maybe Bender could get that robot preacher that did our first ceremony!"
A ghost of a smile crossed her lips. "And maybe a reception at the Waldorf Monstoria?"
"The Waldorf Monstoria!" Amy exclaimed, hidden behind the open door of the refrigerator. Leela and Fry jumped in surprise at the sound of her voice as she emerged. "My folks own that place!"
The pair exchanged a glance.
"It wouldn't be too much of an imposition?"
"Spleck no! Leela, you're like, my oldest and dearest friend. It'd be my wedding gift to you. What day do you want?"
"August twenty-sixth." Fry said randomly. He looked to Leela, expecting her to say no, but she shrugged.
"I'll call my mom! And I think I found the perfect bridesmaid's dress, Leela!"
"Well, it's more like a bikini..."
Leela ground her teeth.
"Calm down, sweetie." She looked up, surprised. "Honey?" Less of a response. "Pet-name-to-be-announced?"
Leela groaned, laying her head on the table.
"Can ya do that louder? My audio's not picking it up."
"Bender!" Leela and Fry cried together.
"What?" Bender unsuccessfully tried to hide the camcorder behind his back. "Okay, don't get mad."
"Too late!" Leela snapped.
"But the Eeek network offered me a ton of money to film your wedding and everything leading up to it, so they can put it on TV!"
"I thought Reality TV went out of style back in 2020, during that Anna Nicole Smith and Osbourne family deathmatch," she noted.
"Yeah, but people'd do anything to watch your wedding," Bender replied. "They gave me a couple of hundred thou to cover the whole thing. Twenty-thousand more if I catch either of you naked."
"Well that's too bad, because if you do, ever, I'll find the biggest magnet I can and..."
"Never mind!" Bender blurted.
"And..." They looked at him expectantly. "Okay, ya jerks! I'll give ya half the dough!"
The twosome agreed, satisfied. But as soon as they weren't looking, he cackled quietly to himself.
The Day Before The Wedding
Leela stood in the middle of the largest ballroom of the Waldorf Monstoria, watching white-tuxedoed robots and human assistants set things up for their reception.
She glanced over the information sheet that Inez Wong had given her that morning, but she had trouble making sense of it; she was pretty frazzled by the events of the past few days.
The reception was scheduled to host about a hundred people. Leela was surprised that she and Fry knew so many. The list included their close circle of friends, and also Leela's parents, for whom she had secured a day pass.
Then there was Bender, who had spent the past week practicing his banjo in preparation to play the reception. She winced at the idea of an entire night of banjo-driven hip-hop, but knew that it meant something to her friend to play a tune onstage for her and Fry.
She had even invited Sean, out of courtesy, and much to Fry's jealousy. To mollify him, she had allowed him to invite Lucy Liu's head. That had turned the wedding into a bit of a social event, and Eeek had upped their price. Sadly, most of the money would be going into the wedding's production.
Fry and Leela had both sworn a solemn promise not to invite Zapp or Michelle. She was confident of that promise. It seemed to make the endless babble of Inez Wong endurable.
"...And then you meet wedding coordinator. She wearing pink dress. She new, but she good."
Leela nodded. "Thank you, Misses Wong."
"Oh, it no problem. This wedding costing our Amy half of what a real wedding gift would. She gave her sorority sister expensive hovercar for a gift when she married! This cheap, compared to that!"
Leela gritted her teeth, thanked Mrs. Wong, and turned off her communicator. Swiveling toward Bender, she asked, "Could you not focus on my behind so much?"
"But your ass gets a 8.0 Neilsen average! The network wants more of it! And that talking FemiSlim injection tattoo on your hip is a hit with the young males!"
"That's because I'm hot and sexy for the summer bikini months!" the tattoo announced.
Leela's steely glare drew his camera firmly onto her face. "We need to meet the coordinator. Now."
They left the ballroom, finding the pink-dressed woman chattering away on her phone.
"No, I needed those yesterday! And if I wanted an ice swan, I would've asked for it!" The familiar voice struck Leela with horror, and when the brown-haired woman whirled around, naked confusion showed on her own face.
Leela's "Michelle?" combined perfectly with Michelle's "Leela?!"
They laughed nervously together, while Bender zoomed in on Leela's panicked face. She would have been perfectly happy to see Michelle under normal circumstances, but her promise to Fry was about to be shattered in a very public way.
"Finally, some dirt!" he said to himself.
"It's nice to see you again," Michelle said, and from her tone, Leela knew it was the truth. "So you're getting married! Who's the lucky guy?"
"Uh... Actually, it's Fry."
Michelle blinked at her old acquaintance. "I knew pickings were slim in the thirtieth century, but wow..." She trailed off before continuing softly. "Philip's into interspecies dating?"
Leela's smile hardened. "Actually, Fry - er - Philip and I are from the same species. It's a long story." She noticed an obscenely large diamond glittering on Michelle's ring finger and continued, "So you and Paulie are getting married, too?"
"Yup! We moved back to New New York last year; Paulie got a role on Broadway. He's playing Richard III."
Leela mentally made a note to avoid that revival, while Bender laughed out loud. Michelle chose to ignore them.
"This is about the only thing I'm qualified to do in the thirtieth century. So, back to business: the Wongs are taking care of most of the details. I think it's to encourage Amy to get married. I know that's why they invited Zapp Brannigan..."
Panic crossed Leela's features. "What?"
"They invited Zapp. They think he'd be perfect for Amy..."
Leela moaned to herself, but continued to march behind Michelle. At least the promise was broken at both ends.
"Anyway, they got the nicest caterer for you..."
"Wait, we don't need a caterer. Hermes and LaBarbara offered to do that for us."
Michelle shrugged. "Leela, you need to learn how to ditch losers... oops, that'd leave you single. Anyway, get rid of them, 'cause you have Elzar at your disposal! Now, the flowers..."
"I meant to ask you about that. Do they all have to be so... white?"
"Leela, it's a theme. Everything's white, except for the food, which is all pink."
"I hate pink..."
"Now, as for music, I've lined up one of New New York's hottest DJ's, Scratch Katz 5000..."
"Hey!" Bender yelled.
"...We promised Bender and some friends of my parents that they could..." Leela began.
"Why?" Michelle cut her off.
Leela smiled at Bender, who continued to film the proceedings, then leaned close to Michelle and whispered in her ear. "To stop him from doing the catering."
"Okay, what's your song?"
"Only the most romantic one in the whole history of the universe: 'I Will Always Love You'."
"Leela, that song's about breaking up."
She frowned. "What?"
"Duh! 'I hope life treats you kindly'..." Michelle sang.
"...'And you have everything you dreamed of'..." Bender joined in.
"Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds are breaking up! And she's totally dumping him. Fry didn't get it either. You're made for him. And, hello! More ditchable losers! Robot bands are so out! I signed up the head of Etta James to sing to you and Fry," said Michelle.
"That does it!" He tossed Leela the camera and stomped over to the nearest tube. "You kin make me wear a tie, you kin make me give a long, boring speech, but taking away my music's a low blow. You and Fry are on your own, blinky!"
Leela's jaw dropped at Bender's words, but she didn't have time to reply before he was sucked away to the ground floor.
"Etta James?" Leela asked weakly.
"You know - she sang 'At Last'. Her jar at the Head Museum was all dusty, so I signed her up at half-price."
Leela sighed. "Michelle, I know you're working very hard on this, but..." She gestured at the bright white color scheme, the prissy china place settings, the stark, fake white birch tree at the center of the room. "This isn't me and Fry."
"Yeah, I know. But Mrs. Wong thought that the nicer the wedding is, the more romantic it'll be, and the more Amy'll want to marry Zapp." Her eyes brightened. "But wait until you see who I lined up to be the best man!"
"But we promised Zoidberg that if Bender quit, he could..." At that point, an assistant wheeled in the head of Carrot Top from a back room.
"Hey! I look like Wendy!" the head cried, his red hair pinned up in little clips. "I'm the burger girl! Arrgh!!"
Leela was completely still, except for the muscle under her eye. It twitched. The camera, forgotten in her hand, recorded it in excellent detail.
"I think the bride needs some complimentary champagne," Michelle noted. "Magnum or glass?"
"Bucket," spat Leela.
Two Hours Later
"Miss, my massage won't have any effect at all if you don't relax."
Leela glanced at her. "We're not paying you to think."
The masseuses grumbled, then continued rubbing Leela's shoulders. The only sound was the rubbery slap of tentacle on back. Leela was wired; the alcohol she had consumed during Michelle's presentation hadn't even made her tipsy. Her mind was filled with the image of all-pink wedding dinner, a staple of the Waldorf for over a thousand years.
"I'm so sorry my mom's wrecking the wedding, Leela," Amy sighed. "I should've known that when she agreed to let us use the Waldorf, it had something to do with me making grandchildren."
LaBarbara snorted. "I thought that after Kif had all of those babies, they'd leave you alone, mon."
Amy laughed. "That's what I thought, too. Then they remembered that it'll be twenty years before they see the kids," she said, curling an arm under her chin. "I don't think she'll leave me alone until he puts a ring on my finger."
"Do Kif's people believe in that?"
Amy shrugged. "I think so. But he's too shy to ask, and I don't think I'm ready yet. It'll be a year before I can graduate from Mars U, and I don't want to get married until then." She was silent a moment. "These past few months without him have been, like, the hardest ever. I'm so glad he's coming to the wedding."
Leela nodded. "That's one good thing about Zapp coming, he'll bring Kif. It's something nice, considering Bender's gone and I have to keep filming myself, and Michelle and Zapp are going to be at the wedding, and everything is white and pink at my reception, and the head of CARROT TOP is the new best man -" She winced beneath the masseuse's grip. "Ow! Watch the suction cups!"
"I told you not to tense up, lady, er, whatever..."
Amy smiled. "But hey, I'm wrecking your bachelorette party! My folks didn't pay for us to head back to Spa 5 for nothing!"
LaBarbarbara laughed. "Indeed; Amy, what did you line up for tonight's entertainment?"
Amy shrugged. "I sent Bender to a bunch of different stores, but the only thing he could find was a copy of "Calculon's Wildest Outtakes."
"That's weaker than Ziggy Marley's head's last solo project!" LaBarbara protested.
"Hey, Calculon saying a bunch of four-letter words; it gives me goosebumps." Amy joked.
Leela sighed to herself. "LaBarbara, I meant to ask you... how do you and Hermes stay so happy? What's the secret to a good marriage?"
LaBarbara shrugged. "Oh, I just yell a little. Keeping his ego in check helps. But my big secrets are: love, patience, respect, patience, understanding, a lot more patience, nagging, wheedling, emotional castration, and more patience."
"That's all it takes?" Amy asked wistfully.
"That's it," said LaBarbara, firmly.
"...so that's it? Hickeys and bananas?" Fry asked Hermes.
"No, ya fool! I said GIVE her a hickey and she'll GO bananas," Hermes corrected, finishing the rest of his Lo-Brau.
Fry leaned back in his easy chair with a heavy sigh; his bachelor party just wasn't the same without Bender. "Are you sure you want to stay in there?" he yelled in the direction of his friend's room. The answering silence was expected but wholly unwelcome.
Well, he couldn't blame Bender for feeling isolated. Now that Fry knew that Mrs. Wong was dead-set on wrecking his wedding day so that Amy would take interest in Zapp, he didn't feel too hot, either. The idea of having to see Michelle on what should be the happiest day of his life was bad enough, but their friends were being squeezed out of the wedding.
Fry hadn't ever fantasized about what it would be like the day he married, as Leela most likely had. Most of his childhood fantasies involved jetting off to Mars, playing to sold-out arenas, and flitting through the lives of many beautiful women. He'd never had a thought of commitment, let alone a real wedding.
Leela had changed everything for him; now he wanted a wedding that included his friends and family. He still felt guilty that Dr. Zoidberg had gone home crying when Bender had blurted out that they had been removed from the reception. Hermes had taken the news with cool detachment, thanks to the amount of beer he had already consumed, while the Professor, not having had a large role in the ceremony, slept through the entire conversation.
"Fry, mon, it's getting late; the strip clubs are callin' our names."
Fry shrugged. "Are there any left where the dancers have two arms and aren't covered in metal?"
Hermes held up a hand. "Don't tell me about your weird fetishes, mon. Me and LaBarbara will pick you up tomorrow."
"You're still coming?" a surprised Fry asked.
Hermes nodded. "Even if ya don't want my jerk prunes on the table, yer still my friend." He handed him a shoebox. "Especially if you hide this."
Fry looked over the shoebox with curiosity. "Eww... smells like an art teacher's office." He shrugged and carried it back to the bedroom. He had some serious thinking to do.
Two More Hours Later
Leela landed her hoverbike on Fry's fire escape, having left a drunk and sleeping Amy and LaBarbarra back on the ship, which she left at the PE Building.
Soft musical strains emerged from his slightly-open window. She quietly opened it the rest of the way, picked up the camcorder, and climbed in.
Fry lay on his bed, eyes closed. On the floor sat a record player from his time, spinning music that, impossibly, was even older than he.
His eyes opened, and he smiled; the awkwardness between them had dissipated with time, so he didn't feel the need to straighten up. He did offer her a hand, and she sat down.
"I guess the bachelor party didn't go well," she offered.
He laughed ruefully. "How was the bachelorette party?"
She shrugged. "Calculon knows a lot of four-letter words."
He sat up, leaning against her shoulder. "We could sneak off and get married in the Nebulous Zone. They have twenty-four hour chapels."
She shook her head. "That would defeat the whole purpose of our being mad. You are mad, aren't you, Fry? Because of the Wongs?"
He nodded. "I want Bender to be my best man, and to play his banjo at the reception. And I want Hermes to serve us jerked prunes and for Zoidberg to make a toast, so that Bender won't."
"And I don't want to have to film my own wedding. And I want flowers that are more than just white..."
Fry shrugged. "Guess we're going to have to confront the Wongs tomorrow, baby." She frowned at the new nickname.
"Forget about them, and don't worry about that now. Unless you want me to call you Phil or something."
He shook his head. "I like the way my last name sounds, when you say it." She smiled and he continued, "they're not doing it to hurt us. It's just that they want Amy to be happy."
"She is. That's the problem," she said, leaning her weight against Fry. "We don't even have a song of our own."
"I know. That's what I was working on."
"Really? That's sweet. I always dreamed that I would walk down the aisle to 'I Will Always Love You'." She frowned. "Until Michelle ruined it for me."
"How about 'Walking On Sunshine'?"
She shook her head. "It's nice, but not really romantic."
"Michelle ruins a lot of things; she told me the ending to 'The Sixth Sense' before I got to see it!"
"Oh, have you seen the sequel? It turns out that Haley Joel Osmitt is the one who's de-" Fry glared at her, and she smiled sheepishly. "Sorry." She began unstrapping her boots. "What are you listening to?"
"Some old Beatles records."
"Chamber music. Interesting." The left boot came off.
"They're... well, they were... my mom's favorite band."
She paused. "I'm sorry, Fry."
"She used to play 'Revolution' to get warmed up for the football season. The Bills were her favorites."
"Wow; she must've been disappointed when the entire eastern division was sold to Rupert Murdoch for a sack of chicken feed."
"Ouch," winced Fry. "It would have broken her heart." A long moment passed before he continued. "I took these records when we went down to Old New York. Listening to them kind of makes me feel closer to her."
Leela put an arm around her fiancÚ. "That's so nice. I never had anything to remind me of my folks."
They listened to the music in silence. The song changed, and he jumped from the bed. "I love this one! It reminds me of you!"
Leela took off her other boot and sat Indian-style on the bed while he danced around his room, mouthing the words to the song.
I once had a girl
or should I say, she once had me...
She swayed to the music, and he took her hand, spinning her in circles as McCartney and Lennon searched for a chair and dealt with a "mod" girl they could not comprehend.
They collapsed onto the bed, laughing heartily at their own foolishness.
"Why does that remind you of me? It's about a guy having a one-night-stand with a girl. When she leaves to go to work, he burns her apartment down," Leela stated.
Fry lifted himself onto his elbow. "That's what it means to you? I thought the guy was so into her that he was waiting around for her to come home."
Leela shrugged. "Either way, I don't see how it reminds you of me. Anyway, it's still a good Beatles song."
"Do you know anything about them?"
She nodded. "We used to sing 'Yellow Submarine' at the Orphanarium; it's one of those songs that sounds really good when a lot of people sing it together, no matter how bad they are."
Fry smiled. "They're from before I was even born." He sat up, carefully placing the delicate album back in its sleeve before putting a new one on. "This one's more about me." She listened attentively.
This song was softer, quieter, with a lot of piano. But the lyrics touched Leela, as they really did reflect Fry's attitude. He sat beside her on the bed, and she relaxed into his arms.
Tho' I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
And though I'll often stop and think of them
In my life, I love you more.
"Is that how you really feel?" she whispered.
He nodded. "I miss Yancy and even my folks, but I love being here more." He kissed her gently.
She sighed. "They're all nice songs, but none of them are ours."
"What song did Michelle suggest?"
Leela shrugged. "Something about 'At Last'."
"Never heard of it. But Michelle has awful taste in music."
"If I have my way, we'll be at Bender's mercy tomorrow." She watched him lie across the bed, and joined his embrace.
His eyes opened. "That sentence makes me really uncomfortable."
"Me too. The things we do for our friends," she said, groping for the camcorder's OFF button. She fell asleep as the Beatles sang about wanting to be here, there and everywhere with their loves.
August 26, 3004
Leela and Fry's wedding day
Sunlight gently drew Leela from sleep. She knew, in rapid succession, that she was alone, in Fry's bed, and completely dressed except for her shoes.
"Wake up, Leela!"
She jumped at the sound of Amy's voice, and, opening her eye, saw the girl pointing a camcorder at her.
"Amy, what are you doing?"
"Spluh! The network wanted to know why you turned off the camera right after you and Fry laid down together. They sent over another one, but since Bender wasn't around, they told me to run it. So, how do you feel?"
"I'll feel better," she got up and rushed to the bathroom, "after I take a shower."
Amy waited impatiently outside, listening to the sound of water running and a dryer whooshing, before a clean Leela emerged.
"Did you know Fry has a hairdryer?" She sounded amused. "A real, twentieth-century-style hairdryer..." She sat to put her boots on.
"Yeah, but did you notice all the different colognes he had?"
"I was wondering about those."
"He tried out a new one every day, to see if it would impress you."
Leela blushed, pleased and somewhat ashamed, as she crawled out through the window. "I need to take my bike back to my place," she said. "Meet me at the church. I'll pick up my um-laundry before I get there."
Amy nodded; any segment involving Leela's parents would be carefully left unfilmed. They had developed code words to prevent anyone from learning that they were mutants.
Amy only hoped that it would work.
"You're a star now, sweetie!"
"A real, live star," Morris said happily, hugging his daughter as they walked the streets of New New York. "Your show's a big hit down in the sewer."
Leela shrugged. "I only agreed to it so he wouldn't end up doing something awful at the reception." The group stopped in their tracks as a peace officer approached them.
"Woah; you mutants don't belong up here."
"Look, we've been through this before," Leela said. "They have a day pass from the governor."
The officer squinted at the pass. "This don't look real. But since you're Leela, I'll let it slide." He smiled. "Can you give me an autograph?"
Leela did as he asked, while her parents stood in the background, pleased.
"Thank you! And may I say that for freaks, the two of you did all right by your daughter."
"Thanks... I think," Morris said, and he escorted his wife and daughter into the First Amalgamated Church. After years of knowing how badly the citizenry of New New York treated mutants, it suddenly felt like a personal offense to Leela, and a tendril of anger curled inside her.
Fifteen minutes later
Leela smiled in satisfaction at the mirror. The only thing that had gone right the entire week had been the selection of her dress. Far more modest than the one she had selected for her near-wedding to Al, but not as old-fashioned as the one in which she had married Fry the first time, this one was a simple, elegant sheath dress, sleeveless, with a heart-shaped bodice. The skirt was an uncomplicated bubble, with enough room to allow her to dance.
She lowered her veil over her hair, which hung in a loose halo about her head. Fry rarely saw her with her hair down, and for once, she thought it fit the dress.
"Amy? Are the flowers here yet?"
"The only flower I see is one Leela, the most sexful lily in the valley."
Leela whirled around, staring at Zapp in disbelief.
"Please say you're not trying to make another pass at me."
"No, my aggressive kitten."
She sighed in relief.
"...I'm here to win you back with a campaign of woo!" He glanced over his shoulder. "Now, where did I leave Kif? Oh, never mind." He pulled out an index card. "'The most erotic part of a woman is the booby, and you have two, which makes you muay sex-ay...'" He looked up from his cards, "Or is it one? Cyclopses always confuse me..."
"But I haven't gotten to the part about massage oils yet..." A graceful crescent kick sent him ducking backward, out of the room.
"And don't you even THINK of objecting at the ceremony. I'll have my dad beat you up!" She paused, menace in your voice. "I wouldn't want to get blood on my nice dress."
Zapp grinned. "You win this round, my feisty pet. I see you're the hard-to-impress type. So, may my words be marked: I will become President of the United States to win your love!"
"Yeah, right," Leela snorted, rolling her eye and closing the door.
Amy entered through a side door, her arms filled with flowers. "These just came."
Leela picked up a fragrant bouquet; she realized that they were the same type and shade that Fry had picked for her while he had worms. "How in the world did Michelle know..."
"She didn't," Amy said happily. "I canceled her order and had them all replaced."
Leela grinned and hugged her. "You know, Amy, you're sort of like a little sister."
"You mean your cute sister?" Leela's grip tightened perceptibly, causing Amy to gasp.
"Yeah. And I'm the strong one," Leela teased.
A knock at the door broke their embrace. Morris entered, looking uncomfortable in his tuxedo. He gasped at the sight of her.
"Leela, you've always been beautiful to me, but you've never looked so happy. You're glowing..." He paused, studying her closely. "Have you been near any nuclear waste?"
"No!" She smiled, accepting his embrace.
"Nah," Amy smiled. "If Leela was glowing for any reason, it'd be because she was..." her eyes widened. "No way!"
"Amy! No!" She took her father's hand. "I'm not going to tell you why," she whispered, at a tone below her father's hearing. "But definitely, no."
Amy shrugged, picking up her bouquet and following them down to the waiting room.
When they arrived, a camera was already clicking away. Scruffy squinted through the lens, urging Amy, Munda and LaBarbara to smile widely.
"Get closer. Scruffy can't get you all in the shot."
A flurry of photographs later, Leela observed her wedding party with satisfaction. LaBarbara, Amy and her mother all wore navy-blue dreses, floor-length, though with different adjustments to flatter their figures. Dwight had been, after a brief argument, designated a "leaf boy" instead of a "flower boy", and would sprinkle a path of green leaves in her path. Cubert had been named ringbearer due to his close proximity to the Professor and Fry.
They all looked tired, overheated, and cranky. And Leela said, half to herself, "We look like... a family."
"We do," Amy agreed, smiling.
The wedding march began to play. Her father's arm linked with hers, and ahead of her, she watched the Professor link arms with Amy, finally having found a purpose in the ceremony.
"Garish as your 'sister'," he made finger quotes to Amy, "looks, it's time for her to marry my uncle. High time," he said, affectionately. "High time."
They walked slowly from the waiting area to the main part of the church, first Dwight, throwing his leaves more at Cubert than the aisle; Cubert, defending himself handily. Munda on Zoidberg's arm, making a very odd-looking couple. LaBarbara with Hermes. Amy on the Professor's arm, moving at the speed of a snail.
Leela lifted her eye to a fidgeting, nervous Fry at the end of the aisle. He went still at the sight of her, and a smile crept across her lips. Her father walked her very slowly down the aisle, and she had time to look into the faces of her friends. She recognized a few fellow orphans, though Adlai wasn't among them. Too close to the front of the church, she saw a crying Zapp Brannigan, being "comforted" by Kif. She tensed briefly, and then a very sweaty hand caressed hers.
And Fry helped her up onto the altar.
He mouthed that she was beautiful; and she knew he looked very handsome in his black tuxedo and light purple cummerbund. The church itself had been draped in red and violet ribbons, and she knew without being told that her friends had done it. Her father and mother gave her to be married, and the robot preacher began speaking about peace and union.
But her eye was for Fry only.
The ceremony passed in peace; she had worried about Zapp, but Kif had taken him, sobbing, from the chapel before the vows.
She had opted for traditional vows, not being able to think of anything beyond wanting to say, "I love you." Fry, however, had written his own.
"Leela, when I saw you, I was scared. I guess that's normal, 'cause I'd never seen a girl with one eye before. And then you probed me. Pause for laughter."[dw I laugh but only on the inside. Good mixture of comic and tension.] The chapel was still. "Then you followed me to the Professor's. I don't know why you did, but you stuck by me. I know I would have died more than once without you, so that made me happy. I told you before that I don't know when I fell in love with you. That isn't really true. I knew I loved you on the Titanic, out there, under all of those stars. I keep thinking of stars when I see you, Leela. I guess that's because when I was a kid, stars were the most important thing in the world to me. I guess I'm not a kid anymore, cause you're way more important to me now than they could ever be. I love you, and I promise to hold your head when you get sick, stay up at night with our kids, and go to really boring stuff like symphony concerts just because you like 'em. And I promise to die first." She gasped as he continued. "Because I don't want to live on this planet without you."
His words left her stunned. The exchanging of rings passed in grave silence.
Leela recognized the bright band he slipped onto her finger. It fit so perfectly, and it felt so familiar. "My old ring?"
He smiled. "I had Amy get it out of your locker." She blushed, taking his hand and slipping the band on. "I kept mine under the bed, in a box with all my other important stuff."
"You really have a box?" she whispered. "In my coma, I dreamed you..."
"Children, this is all very nice," the robot preacher interrupted. "But I got to pronounce you man and wife!"
His knees trembled. Her fingers shook.
"Then, with the power vested in me by the DOOP, recognized by the First Amalgamated Church and the state of New New York, may no man, beast, creature, vegetable or mineral put asunder what has been brought together. I now pronounce you man and wife!" Leela saw a very familiar grin spread across Fry's face before he grasped her and dipped her into a kiss. They united in a passionate embrace, as their friends hooted with joy.
Few voices distinguished themselves. "Go on and kiss de girl, mon!" Hermes yelled.
"Hermes! Don't be yellin' while they kiss!"
"Fascinating! But disgusting! I'm puzzled..."
The church erupted in applause, and over the din, the robo-preacher raised his volume. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mister and Misses Philip J. Fry!"
Leela squeezed Fry's hand as they stood beneath a tube marked: Bride and Groom.
"I can't believe you kept this." She smiled. "I should have known, but I'm so happy you did."
"Yeah, and I thought you threw yours away."
She shook her head. "I never could've done that."
He kissed her cheek. "I really can't believe you're my wife."
She hugged him. "You'd better believe it!" Despite it all, he looked somewhat sad. "What's wrong?"
He shrugged. "I wish I could've found Bender before the wedding. I really wanted him to be my best man."
She hugged him. "He was there in spirit."
"When your mom started drinking from that flask of rum?"
She frowned. "No!" She looked up, into the tubes. "Well, let's make our entrance!"
He nodded, releasing her hand before allowing himself to be sucked upward.
When they both landed, it was with a gasp of surprise. The white theme had been completely replaced; tablecloths were red, banners were purple. Bright red balloons hovered everywhere. They were so stunned that they didn't notice the presence of their friends until they began applauding.
"Surprise!" A familiar voice shouted.
"Bender!" Leela cried. "How did you do all of this? And why?"
"Eh, I had a lot of help."
"Zoidberg blew up the balloons!"
"And no one denies Bender Bending Rodriguez his moment in the spotlight!"
Leela wrapped her arms around Bender's neck. "I don't say this a lot: but this was very nice, Bender. Thank you."
He froze, then smiled. "Uh, thanks..."
"Those are fake pearls, Bender."
"I was just measurin' em!"
Leela daintily mopped barbecue sauce from her lips and pushed away her plate. She heard Fry belch beside her.
"Good? Great! Excellent work, LaBarbara!"
"Aww, it was nothin'." She sipped her champagne. "Hermes is quite the cook, y'know."
"Ahh, a little sawin', a little jerkin', some rum, a bit of coconut. It's no trouble!"
Zoidberg, for once completely sated, trumpeted as he emptied his drink. "And my toast, did you like it?"
"Sure," Fry said, and Leela leaned over the table, patting his claw. "You don't need to worry. We aren't going to die if we mate."
"But that's physically impossible!" Zoidberg cried. "Zoidberg always loses his friends!"
Her gaze shifted to the stage, where a band played an edgy but bright melody that she recognized as "Walking on Sunshine". "You know, that band isn't bad. What's their name: The Cherry-Popping Doodads?"
"Daddies; those are their heads. The lead singer used to be taller," noted Fry.
"You can credit me for that," the Professor said. "Them being here, not the singer's alleged tallness. That Michelle woman was going to hire some sort of awful punk ska band called the Paulie Shore Experience. I heard them practicing an awful song with that red-headed demon... 'Lisa, Lisa, the one I adore...'" He shuddered. "I dismissed them."
"Dismissed?" Fry worried.
"Chloroformed, dismissed... eh? What's the difference?" the Professor shrugged, sucking up a strawful of slop.
There was a short drumroll, and the lead singer announced, "Time for the couple's first dance. Ladies and gentlemen, the head of Miss Etta James."
Bender pulled his banjo out of his compartment and wheeled Etta's head onto the stage. "Thank you!" said Etta. "This one's for Fry and Leela."
Fry led his bride onto the stage, and they slowly swayed to the muted sound of a slow horn-and-banjo version of "At Last".
As they swirled across the stage, Leela caught sight of her various friends. Terry danced by, in the clutches of an Amazon. LaBarbara and Hermes were together, and Amy and Kif. She stifled a smile as she saw Doctor Zoidberg shuffle past with Professor Farnsworth.
The Wongs stood at the back of the room, where a sniffling Zapp leaned against Inez Wong, weakened from his recent crying jag. She could have sworn that she heard the woman mutter to herself.
"Maybe we should be happy Amy like squishy green alien."
my love has come along
my lonely days over
and life is like a song
"You know..." Leela said, nuzzling Fry's cheek, "Michelle's right. This is a nice song."
"For once, yeah. I like it." He kissed her cheek. "I think it really is ours."
oh and then the spell was cast
and here we are in heaven
for you are mine at last
"I know you're excited about our honeymoon... but can we dance a little bit longer?"
He kissed her temple. "Uh-huh. I love you, Leel."
She brightened. "Leel! I love that. I love you..."
"Fry. Just Fry."
They danced on through the night. Though they switched partners, they remained with one another in spirit. A rich cake was cut open and distributed. At last, footsore, they grinned at each other, silently cueing their flight from the reception, and made a break for the door beneath a hail of rice.
Leela heard the shouts of her friends behind her, urging them to have fun, to write. She paused at the tug of Fry's hand halfway up the gangplank.
"Wait: where are we going?"
"That's Zoidberg's surprise!" He clacked his claws together.
The Professor handed them an envelope of tickets.
"You're headed to Fabio362336, the most romantic planet in the solar system!" Amy enthused.
"Have fun, meatbags," smirked Bender. "Just don't tell me nothin' about it when you get back."
"You guys! This is too much!" Leela cried.
"Where did you get the money?"
"Uh-heh..." Bender laughed.
"Blame it on Bender," Amy smiled.
"Yes; he insisted on spending the money he's made from your reality show on those tickets," the Professor added
"Yeah..." Bender glared.
"That's so nice!" Leela cried.
Fry smiled. "How long did they have to hold the magnet to your head?"
"Two hours," Bender whispered. He started waving.
Fry's hand locked into his bride's. "Ready to go on another adventure?"
She smiled. "With you? Anywhere." Leela turned quickly on her heel, tossing her bouquet into the crowd.
As they disappeared up the tubes, the triumphant "Yee-haa" of Bender filled the room... as he caught the bouquet.
Lilah wiped away a tear as the credits rolled. She knew why her parent's relationship was so special, and this was physical evidence of their love.
Anywhere, her mother had said. How had she gone from that, to fearing motion?
None of it made sense. But even the most incongruous puzzle pieces were once part of a whole.
Her family was so right; it seemed so meant to be. Those warm thoughts were just enough to send her to sleep.
"Angelyne?" Bender whispered. "Angelyne!"
The maidbot dropped her duster, staring at him in disbelief.
"Bender! What are you doing here?"
"I'm stuck with the meat- I mean, I'm here to rescue you from a life of dishpan finish!"
"Bender...I don't think I can do that now."
Because... I'm so recently a widow."
"Yes. Flexo's dead."