Leela couldn’t believe it was morning already. She squinted her eye and saw a light appear in the window from behind the curtain. She listened. No phone ringing, no voices, and soon the sound of a hover truck began to disappear and the lights dimmed. Leela smiled. Looking at the alarm clock she saw it flash 1:03 but she knew it wasn’t right. Fry’s phone was next to her and it read 5:17. She calculated the amount of time the power had been out.
Fry drew a long and slow breath, Leela felt his chest expand against her back and the warm exhale on her neck. Wow, she thought, he’s actually spooning me. She settled herself back against his chest pulling the blanket tighter around them in the stifling cold of the room. The heater was on, she could hear the sound of it humming but Goosebumps covered her skin. As she laid there she wondered what it was about Fry that made him so extraordinary. Well, she thought, he’s passionate, that’s for sure. Exciting and surprising, uh-huh. Hmm, tender too, and at the right time, but not too soon, and not too much-thank God. Leela felt him stir and rolled over so she could face him. I still have my armor, she thought as he gave her a tired smile and pulled her close falling back asleep, but Fry got in anyway. She wondered why it took her so long to fall for Fry in the first place, even though she would say there was a spark when they first met. He had never had problems voicing his feelings, but his certainty was no match for an even greater force; her denial. There was always something there, but it always seemed like the more she realized it, the more she denied it. Why else did she put herself in dead end relationships all the time? It was her way of avoiding a serious relationship in fear of getting hurt.
Though the denial about her feelings for Fry was over, that was for sure, Leela wondered about any other denials she was dealing with.
None. Absolutely none.
She thought about it more and frowned.
Why was she always uncomfortable when Meredith was around, or when she called? Why did she feel the need to watch her and Fry like a hawk whenever he’d be pulled to the side by her? Why did she get up and leave the party when he was on stage with her?
Leela looked back at Fry and saw his eyes slightly open. Smiling she decided that she didn’t need to worry about Meredith now and ran her hand along his jaw before kissing him. She felt him move slightly and soon she felt his hand running through her hair. He’s playful too, she thought back to her list of what made Fry great. Leela realized she could be playful as well and pushed him on his back to prove it.
The sound of Fry’s phone startled them awake a few hours later. Leela sat up and smiled, the heat was now blasting and the room no longer felt like an ice box. She heard Fry groan as he sat up. The bed springs creaked as he moved around trying to sit up against the headboard.
“Is that my wakeup call?” he said groggily.
“You already had your wake up call.” Leela said poking him on his chest.
“And I answered.” he relaxed by putting his hands behind his head.
Leela laughed and picked up his phone frowning at the caller ID.
Fry sighed and took the phone, his thumb hovering over the ignore button.
“Fry?” Leela said putting a hand on his arm. “Listen, I may not like Meredith, but I understand she’s your boss. So if you need to answer it, go ahead and answer it. It’s alright.”
He looked at the phone and answered it. “Hello?”
“Fry, listen I need you to get to the space port right away.”
“You have a book signing and reading in LA this weekend.”
“Since now. Get over here in an hour. If you don’t I swear I will drip honey on your eyeballs and release a thousand fire ants.”
She hung up and Fry smiled at Leela. “Okay tell me, what’s worse; having a thousand fire ants on your eyes or…” he pulled up a review of his book on his phone, “reading to a crowed ‘Prose so horrible it sent me screaming out into the snow.’?”
“Don’t listen to those critics. One bad review isn’t going to stop people from buying your books…so where are you off to now?”
“LA, for the weekend.”
“Then I guess I should get going,” she said beginning to get up.
“No wait!” she turned as Fry took her hand. “Will you go with me? Please?”
She smiled. “Of course.”
Leela picked up Fry’s burgundy shirt off the ground and slipped it on. “I’m gonna take a shower, you start packing and then we’ll head over to my apartment so I can pack.”
An hour later Fry and Leela got out of his car in front of the entrance of the space port. Fry gave his key to the valet and watched as he drove off. He slung his bag over his shoulder and held his suitcase in one hand as his other one was entwined with Leela’s.
They got to the desk where Meredith said his ticket would be waiting.
“Hi, my name’s Phil Fry. My publisher said there would be a ticket waiting for me.”
“Yes Mr. Fry, there’s one right here.”
“I was wondering if there was another seat next to mine, or if there are two seats available somewhere?”
“Actually there is one right next to you.” she typed something into the computer and handed him the two tickets. “There you go.”
Fry and Leela made their way to the gate as people snapped pictures and waved at him.
“Is it always like this?” Leela asked as he waved to a group of people.
“Yeah, pretty much. Does it bother you?”
“No, it’s just…different for me.”
He chuckled, “You get used to it, but luckily it’s never been so overwhelming.”
The two of them got on the ship still holding hands and took their seats. Leela sat right next to the window and Fry sat next to her in the middle seat.
“I’m so happy you agreed to come.” Fry said, “I get so lonely at these things.”
“I’m glad I agreed to come to.” she said taking his hand and resting her head on his shoulder.
Fry smiled but it soon disappeared as he heard the familiar sound of high heels and then Meredith appear next to him looking through her bag. She only glanced up for a moment and nodded. “Good you showed up, I guess I won’t need the fire ants then.” Meredith looked back up and saw Leela sitting next to him and tried to hide her anger.
“Leela, what a surprise.”
“Hi Meredith, Fry invited me along.”
“He did?” she said taking a seat next to him. “How nice.”
Fry could feel the tension between them and closed his eyes. Thank God this flight is so short.
“Attention everyone this is your captain to inform you our trip has been extended by three hours.”
Fry moved awkwardly in his seat and his eyes shifted back and forth between Leela and Meredith who were both looking at him out of the corner of their eye(s). Sinking down in his seat Fry mentally cursed the captain. Crap…
As Fry and Leela stood outside their LA hotel room he put his sunglasses on his head and smiled at Leela, something she hadn’t seen since they got on the ship.
“We are going to have so much fun this weekend.” Fry said opening the door. “I mean, these readings don’t usually take long, so we’ll have lots of time together.”
Fry put his bag on the floor before lying down on the bed. “I am dreading this reading. I mean what if they hate it?”
“Don’t worry, it was one bad review.” she said sitting down next to him.
He sighed and rubbed his eyes as Leela turned on his laptop and hit a few keys before turning it to him. “Hey, if you really want to feel bad about yourself you should read the review in the Times.”
“Really? What’s that damn paper saying about me now?”
“’Phillip Fry’s exciting finale reminds us what pulp fiction is all about. It keeps you guessing until the very end and at the same time reminds you that true love is forever.’”
Fry was staring up at the ceiling with his hand up to his chin as she read and finally spoke. “It used to be such a good paper; to see it fall so hard is sad, really.”
Leela picked up the pillow and smacked him with it. “Shut up. I’m proud of you.”
“Of course.” She said kissing him.
He smiled as she hovered over him. “You remember that when I say something stupid in front of your dad.”
She laughed and brushed his hair back.
“How is he?” Fry asked.
“He’s alright. He misses my mom; it’s been pretty tough on him. But he’s doing okay…You know he missed you.”
“He did?” he asked sitting up.
“Yeah, he always liked you. I mean, you’re the reason I can go see him whenever I want. You made him realize that I wasn’t embarrassed by him or my mom.” She paused. “You gave me a family Fry, and I’m glad you’re part of it.”
Fry smiled broadly and looked over at his bag where the small velvet box containing the engagement ring sat.
“I’m glad you feel that way…Listen, there’s been something I’ve been meaning to ask you for a long time.” His eyes shifted to the bag and then back to her.
“Yeah?” she asked feeling her heart pounding.
He stood up and walked over to the bag reaching inside. “I’ve been saving this for you for years.” He said, his back still facing her. Turning around he hid the box behind him and smiled. Taking her hand he knelt on the floor. “Leela, I-“
He was interrupted by a pounding on the door. “FRY!”
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” He muttered. “Hold on.”
Slipping the box in his pocket he made his way to the door. Meredith stood on the other side tapping her foot.
“Meredith, how nice of you to stop by.” He said unenthusiastically.
“We’ve got to get to the bookstore now otherwise we’re gonna be late.”
He was about to protest but decided against it. The last thing he wanted was to get in a screaming match with his publisher.
“Alright, we’ll meet you in the lobby.”
He closed the door and smiled at Leela.
“So what were you going to ask me?” she said standing up.
“Uh…” he paused and placed his hand on the doorknob. “Would you like to go on a date tonight?”
“Sure.” She said trying to hide her disappointment.
Fry cursed Meredith and opened the door. "Lets go."
“’As the two of them stood in the 35th Precinct, Peter watched Laura wanting nothing more than to just take her hand and rush out of there. Away from the case, away from murder and mayhem. Somewhere the two of them could just be together…’”
Fry looked up at the crowed of people in front of the podium he stood at. Leela sat in the front row while Meredith was somewhere else, probably dealing with press and the store owner. But Fry saw Leela and just smiled as he continued reading. He knew exactly how Peter felt. At that moment he wanted nothing more than to stop reading, take Leela by her hand and leave. Take her down to Santa Monica and watch the sun set then get down on one knee and pull out the ring he held in his pocket. But he knew that it was impossible. At least for the moment.
He continued reading and finally arrived at his favorite part. It was a part he had written especially for Leela, it seemed to sum up his feelings for her.
“’As the two of them stood on the rooftop of the theater Peter turned taking Laura’s hand in his. ‘Listen, I don’t believe in much, but I believe in us. And no matter the obstacles, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never get rid of me…I love you.’” He looked up and saw Leela smiling. When he glanced over he saw some of the women tearing up and he couldn’t help but smile a bit inside.
Damn, I am good!
Finally he was nearing the end and the women had brought out the tissues for the heart wrenching conclusion.
“’She watched as the light in his eyes faded and she squeezed his hand for the last time as the wind gathered up her hair. Good, she thought, no one will see my tears.’”
He closed the book and everyone stood up clapping. After signing a few autographs Fry stood back and watched people waiting in line with copies of his book. Leela walked over putting her arms around him.
“See, didn’t I tell you? They loved it.” She kissed his cheek and he kept his arm around her shoulders. “That was a very touching ending. Very…moving.”
Fry watched as she restrained herself from laughing.
“Are-are you making fun of me?”
“’As the wind gathered up her hair. Good, she thought, no one will see my tears.’” She paused and looked at him. “How does wind gather up hair?”
“Oh, you’re telling me how to do my job.”
They both laughed and Fry hugged her tightly.
“But I guess you were right. I had nothing to worry about.” He looked around and saw Meredith talking to someone. “Oh good, she’s distracted. Let’s get out of here.”
The two of them started heading towards the door and Fry thought they were home free, until he heard Meredith calling his name.
“Damnit.” He muttered.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” she asked.
“What? We’re done here. Leela and I have plans.”
“You can’t just leave. We have a meeting with the press.”
Fry sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Meredith, you need to stop scheduling things without talking to me first. But Leela and I have plans, so you’ll just have to handle it on your own. Like you always have.”
“But they want a quote from the author.”
He paused and nodded. “Alright. Tell them, that any questions they have for me to direct through you, because I’m going out with my girlfriend.”
Taking Leela’s hand he began to walk out but Meredith grabbed his arm. “Fry, I’m serious. Get your ass over there now.”
Leela stepped between them, feeling she had seen and heard enough. Meredith was obviously not going to listen to Fry so Leela was going to make her listen.
“Don’t talk to him like that.” She said swatting her hand away.
“Excuse me?” Meredith asked. Fry swore he could see her horns sticking out of her forehead.
“You heard me. Fry and I haven’t seen each other in two years, we’re best friends and I love him. So just cut him some slack.”
“Listen to me eyeball.”
Ooh, Fry thought, big mistake Meredith.
“I’m Fry’s publisher, which means I make all the decisions. When I met him he was just a lonely kid with a manuscript and I turned him into a bestselling novelist. So don’t tell me what I can’t and can’t do.” She said giving Leela a petty jab.
Fry tensed up. Uh oh.
The next thing he knew Leela shoved Meredith, and then Meredith shoved back. By this point people were trying to ignore them but failing as they turned their heads but shifted their eyes. It all happened so fast, but Fry watched as Leela punched Meredith. She fell to the floor and Leela looked over at Fry, both with a shocked look on their face.
“Oh no.” she said, “This is bad isn’t it?”
Fry couldn’t help but chuckle. “I’ve wanted to do that for years. You are so hot.”
Meredith stood up and wiped her nose. She was about to throw a punch at Leela but Fry quickly put himself between the two of them.
“Okay that is enough!”
They, along with everyone in the store looked at him surprisingly.
“You are both going to listen to me. First of all Leela, I’m sorry but you can’t punch my publisher in the face.”
“What? You just said that was hot.”
“No, no it was. It was very hot.” He smiled and turned to his publisher. “And Meredith, Leela is the love of my life and no matter what you say or do you’re not going to break us up.”
“Fine.” They said unanimously before turning and going off in different directions before muttering under their breath, “Bitch.”
Fry rolled his eyes. “Well, that went better than I thought.”
Leela and Meredith had both disappeared and Fry was a bit thankful. He needed some time to clear his head, get his priorities straight. He thought about calling his agent Ken and see what he could do about getting a new publisher. The agency surely had other representatives that could handle his manuscripts.
The bright California sun blinded him as he made his way towards Santa Monica. Putting his hand up Fry shielded his eyes as he reached in his computer bag for his sunglasses. He continued walking and digging though his bag before suddenly stumbling back. He saw a young man; probably in his early twenty’s standing in front of him rubbing his head. A pen and notebook was in one hand and a video camera was hanging from his neck.
“Oh, sorry about that.” Fry said.
“No, it’s alright-“ the man stopped short when he saw who he was talking to. “Oh, Philip Fry.” The man lifted up his camera and snapped a picture with a small digital one from his pocket. It was then Fry saw his ID tag from TMZ that was on his jacket lapel.
Oh crap, he thought.
“Mr. Fry, what can you tell us about your new book?”
“Listen buddy, I’m not giving an interview right now.” He tried to walk around him but the young man persisted.
“Oh come on, just give a little statement for your fans.”
Sighing Fry turned around. “It’s great, buy it.”
“Why is it great?” he asked as Fry began walking away.
Fry turned around again. “Listen I already told you, I’m not giving an interview.”
Continuing his walk Fry made his way in front of a crowded bistro as the man followed him.
“Mr. Fry what was the deal in the bookstore with your girlfriend punching your publisher.”
“None of your damn business, alright?” Fry said raising his voice.
People began to stare as the paparazzo continued and Fry finally stopped dead in his tracks. The man walked around him getting a clear shot of his face. As he continued asking questions Fry felt his blood boil and finally lost all control.
He reeled back and threw a punch making contact with the reporters jaw. The man stumbled back before landing on the hard concrete. Fry looked around, seeing everyone with their cameras or phones out.
“Shit,” he mumbled. “I’m boned.”
That night Fry, Leela and Meredith sat in Fry and Leela’s suite on the couch. Fry sat between the two of them, but they had decided to put their differences aside after they had to bail Fry out. Entertainment and Earth Invasion Tonight was on the large flat screen and Fry had his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. Morbo and Linda sat on high stools and the music faded as the camera focused on Morbo.
“Welcome puny earthlings to Entertainment and Earth Invasion. Tonight we have the head of TMZ, the head of Harvey Levin. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US HARVEY!”
“Well thanks for having me Morbo, Linda.”
“So Harvey,” Linda said. “We understand you’ve brought some clips for us.”
“Yes I have. Now you know the job of TMZ is to stalk celebrities and catch them doing everyday things and completely blow it out of context.”
“So, here are some of the clips our reporters have obtained today.”
The screen cut to Calculon at his plastic surgeons office as a familiar voice called after him.
“Ooh! Ooh! Calculon, what are you getting done today?”
“Oh Lord,” Leela said looking at Fry. “Who gave Bender a video camera?”
“…It was his birthday gift.”
“Shh!” Meredith said, “Look.”
Fry’s angry face filled the screen as the reporter’s voice pestered him. Suddenly Fry’s fist flew past the lens and a smacking sound was made off screen and the camera was soon facing upwards towards the sky. The angle changed to a witness’s camera as Fry reeled back and punched the reporter in the face.
“Aw hell.” Fry said as he buried his head in his hands.
Leela gently rubbed his back as she watched the video repeat over and over. Finally the screen went black when Meredith turned off the TV.
“Great job Fry, you punched out a paparazzo. Do you have any idea what this will do to the sales of your books?”
“It’s going to screw it all up.” He said flatly.
“What? No! People love it when celebs get into fights with the press. This is probably one of the smartest things you have ever done!” she grabbed her bag and stood up. “I’m going to call Ken to get you on some talk shows. This book is going to be great!”
She ran out and Fry leaned back in his seat. “Wow. I did not expect that.”
Leela moved her hand and took his hands looking at the bruised pattern on his knuckles. “You really clocked him.”
Fry shrugged. “I don’t know what came over me. It happened so fast. At least Meredith didn’t take it the wrong way.”
Leela looked closely at his hand making sure that nothing was broken and finally let go. “You better be careful Fry, who knows what could have happened? You could have gotten really hurt, or be sued for assault.”
“I know, I know. Don’t worry, it won’t happen again, I promise.”