The months went by as Fry’s book tour continued. He had been traveling the galaxy once again leaving Leela back in New New York, but she didn’t mind. They talked every day and she had even gone with him a few times. The Professor was able to transmit Fry’s interviews from across the galaxy so the crew could watch their friend build his reputation. Fry had also been able to convince Meredith to schedule the farthest destinations first, that way when things were wrapping up he’d be back on Earth, he’d be home. Fry had also kept his promise to Leela, keeping away from the paparazzi, but that hadn’t stopped all the TV interviews asking about his encounter with the TMZ reporter. Meredith had been right: people ate that up. Fry’s life seemed to be turning around; he had everything he’d ever wanted: fame, money, fortune, wealth. At least those were the things Bender told everyone he’s always wanted. What really mattered to Fry was that he had Leela back and he wasn’t going to screw it up this time. He had been waiting for the right moment and decided that he wanted it to be special.
Meredith had scheduled an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, on what happened to be Leela’s birthday. Fry promised that he wouldn’t be home too late and they would still have the night together. The parties and TV shows had become too much for Leela, she was a bit tired of going all the time and agreed to stay home and DVR the show so Fry could watch himself later.
Fry slowly opened his eyes, breathing hard and he realized he was laying on his bed, in the apartment he and Leela had bought before he went on tour. The large window allowed the midday sun to come inside, blinding him. His feet were at the head of the bed and his head at the foot. He carefully sat up swinging his legs over the side and putting his hands up to shield the light. He was still in his clothes.
He had a hangover, his head was on the verge of exploding and the sun hurt his eyes. A loud buzzing noise from the overhead lights in the hall and bathroom across from his room rang in his head loudly. He needed painkillers and maybe his sun glasses to stop the pain. He swore at that moment to quit drinking but he knew he was kidding himself. Fry walked around the bed and found his sunglasses on the night stand and slipped them on, the strain on his eyes relieved. The glasses made the world seem bearable. He walked to the bathroom where the buzzing noise grew louder and he stood over the sink staring at his reflection in the mirror, thankful he had the glasses on so he couldn’t see his bloodshot eyes. He opened the medicine cabinet and popped two extra-strength pain killers which worked surprisingly fast. The lighting seemed to grow dimmer and the ringing in his ears stopped.
Fry went through the door that separated the rest of the apartment from the bedroom and bathroom corridor and found a message waiting for him on the machine. It was Bender. He had joined Fry at the show and the after party the night before.
“Hey Meatbag! Are you still asleep? Well, WAKE UP ALREADY! You should watch your show, that is if Leela wasn’t too pissed to record it, with that bitch of a publisher you have scheduling it on her birthday. Yeah, Leela called me and really chewed me out. So what? We went a little overboard last night. Whatever, that’s the business. I’ll talk to you later Fry. Watch the show!”
There was a click and the line went dead. Fry made his way into the spacious living room and sat on the end of the leather sectional in front of his 70 inch flat screen. The floor to ceiling windows were closed with blinds and Fry began to think Leela left the ones in their room open to punish him. Whatever, he thought turning on the TV.
The show’s theme song began playing and Fry saw himself sitting on the couch next to the desk that held Jimmy’s head in a jar.
“Welcome back everyone, we’re here with bestselling author Phillip Fry and have been talking about his new book in his trilogy: Second Chances.”
The audience clapped and Fry nodded. “Yeah, great read, go buy it.”
Laughter erupted and Jimmy nodded to the copy of the book that was on a stand next to him. “Well based on these numbers, I’d say that only two of you out there haven’t bought it yet. But I’ve read the book and it is a great read, he’s being truthful here folks. But the ending was spectacular, and-spoiler for the two of you who haven’t read it yet- the ends with the death of Detective Peter Jackson.”
Fry nodded knowing what was coming next.
“Now, why the hell did you kill off Peter? What were you thinking?”
“Good riddance.” Fry said laughing. “No seriously, it was a good run, but he was too simple for me and I thought it was time for a change, a time to explore new things.”
“Well we’re glad to hear that. And how’s the tour been going?”
“Good, but I’m glad to be back here in New, New York. I’ve missed the city-“ he paused as people began to clap, “and I’ve missed my girlfriend Leela.”
“Isn’t that sweet? But you have been in the news with your parties and…you’ve got into a fight with the paparazzi?”
“Yeah, I know. The guy was really in my face and I lost control. It wasn’t cool, I know that.”
“Well, I believe we’re out of time. Thank you Fry for being here with us. And the two of you who haven’t bought the book, go get it. Now.”
Hmm, at least I was funny, I can live with that. Fry heard the door open behind him and shut off the TV as Leela walked in.
“Hey, did you watch the show?” she asked from the kitchen.
“I didn’t say anything stupid if that’s what you’re asking.” He paused, he had been losing his temper a lot lately.
“Whoa, okay grumpy. You want some aspirin?”
“What? Now you’re going to ride me for drinking?”
“You know what Fry? Just go back to sleep.”
He knew he should have followed her advice but he was angry. Mostly at himself, but Leela was there, a displacement. Walking over to the kitchen he leaned against the archway.
“What? Now you won’t talk to me?
“Well this morning I was angry. You promised you’d be home by ten and showed up at six AM, passing out when you walked in the door with Bender behind you.” She turned to face him. “Now I’m over it. What about you? Are you angry?”
He sighed and ripped off his glasses. “It’s this goddamn tour; everything’s gotten out of hand.”
Leela softened and placed a hand to his face. “Oh Fry, it’s almost over. Then everything can go back to normal. We can get back to our lives and you can start writing again.”
“Really?” he said surprised.
“Yes. You love writing, who am I to take that away from you? So what if you have to leave for a few weeks out of the year? I’ll still love you.”
He smiled. Suddenly his anger washed away and he took Leela in his arms. “I love you too. Hey, tonight, let’s go out for dinner. Just you and me. I mean, we didn’t get to celebrate your birthday last night. We’ll go to Cavern on the Green.”
Leela smiled. She had been having some trouble recently calming Fry down when he went off but it seemed to work this time.
“I’d love that.”
Fry sat in his office in front of his computer, his fingers hovering above the keys. The words Fallen Flames by Phillip Fry stared back at him, but the rest of the page was blank. His head throbbed, his fingers had cramped up from being in the same position but he hadn’t written a word. Not one word. He hadn’t written since that night he sat up in his hotel all night thinking about Leela and he ended up scraping that. It was a short story he’d written to refine his writing, nothing bestseller worthy. He had no deadline for a next book but knew that Meredith and Ken would be asking for a new manuscript soon. The blank screen brought his head ache back and decided to go old school, pulling out a notebook and pencil. He tapped it furiously and gritted his teeth as the clock ticked and ticked. The paper was glowing in the darkened room. He wanted to cry, to scream out in frustration. His back ached from being hunched over. The pencil snapped form the force of his hand squeezing it. Finally he stood up whipping the notebook across the room with an agonizing groan.
Leela stood outside Fry’s office, leaning against the wall. She lowered her head and sighed. She could hear Fry pacing around muttering to himself. Leela remembered him telling Meredith that the writing became more like work, it wasn’t fun anymore. He was looking for something different. Taking a breath she walked inside.
“Hey,” she said as he picked up his notebook and tossed it on his desk.
Fry didn’t answer; he just stared at his framed book covers on the wall. Closing his eyes he soon felt Leela’s arms around his abdomen and her head rested between his shoulder blades.
“I don’t know what I’m gonna do Leela, I can’t write. I don’t want to.”
She kissed his neck. “Don’t worry, you’re blocked, you’ll get over it.”
He turned around and smiled. Leela could feel the tension in his muscles fade.
“Why don’t you go get dressed for dinner?” she said smiling. “You can write later.”
A short time later Fry and Leela sat at a small secluded table in Cavern on the Green. Fry picked apart a piece of meatloaf while they were waiting. He looked up and saw Leela with her chin rested on her fist as her other hand drummed the table. Fry slumped and shook his head.
Leela looked up. “What?”
“I’m sorry about how pissy I’ve been acting lately. You know what?” he reached over and took her hand. “This is your night…and I was going to wait until after dinner, but I feel like I’m going to explode if I don’t do this now.”
Fry went in his pocket and pulled out the small velvet box sliding it across the table.
“Fry, what is this?” she asked softly.
Leela’s hands were shaking. The velvet was soft against her skin, her fingers slipped trying to open the small box. Never before had she been so nervous. Inside was diamond ring. It was small: a single band with a small diamond in the middle, but she didn’t care. She realized that Fry had bought the ring years ago, he had planned on asking her then. She began crying. Part of her was sad; sad that her mother wouldn’t be there to watch her get married to the man she loved. But the other part was ecstatic. She looked up and saw Fry smiling broadly. Fry dropped to one knee as she stared opened mouth at the ring in her hands.
“Leela, will you marry me?”
“Yes!” she screamed.
Fry stood up and pulled her to her feet taking her in his arms. When he finally pulled away he took the ring out of the box and slipped it on her finger. Leela grabbed his face and kissed him. She could feel the stubble along his jaw as she ran her fingers along it. Fry broke this kiss sooner than she would have liked him too, but he then picked her jacket and led her out the back door to the car waiting outside. He dropped his foot on the gas and raced home.
Leela sat on the couch wrapped in Fry’s robe, her legs under her, watching the rain fall outside looking at the diamond on her finger. Fry was still fast asleep, it was after all five AM and she had no intention of waking him up anytime soon. He’d barely slept the last few weeks; she wanted him to get some rest. Maybe then he could start writing again, he could be happy again, they could be happy again. Leela looked at the magazines on the table and thought back to about two months ago. Cosmo was doing an article about Fry’s books and Leela was asked by the editors to talk to the reporter as well. The reporter had insinuated that Leela had been sleeping with Fry for the publicity, something that was put in the article. She discarded the “rag mag” when it came in the mail and never spoke about it. But that didn’t mean that it hadn’t been eating at her since she read it.
She debated whether or not to call her father and tell him about Fry’s proposal; she really wanted to tell him in person. Leela knew her dad would be happy, but he was aware of Fry’s growing anger and drinking issues. But she knew it would pass, he was stuck in a rut. Right? She thought.
“You can come in,” she said suddenly looking over her shoulder when she heard a sound behind her and saw Fry standing in the arch way. He looked groggy and his hair was a mess but Leela couldn’t help but laugh as he stood in front of her wearing a pink silk robe that ended half way down his thigh.
He nodded at her. “There’s my robe.”
“Yeah, that one isn’t your color.” She laughed.
Fry plopped himself down on the couch and put his arm around her. “Aren’t you observant?”
She stifled a chuckled and rolled her eye. “Please, I heard you when your feet hit the ground. You’re about as quiet as a draft horse.”
“Well you won’t hear me complain when the comparisons involve a horse.”
“No?” she asked looking up at him. “No complaints here either.”
The rain beating against the window began to light up and the sun began peeking out through the clouds. He looked over and noticed Leela staring at her ring.
“You gonna call your dad?”
“No,” she said smiling at him. “I thought we should go down there and tell him ourselves.”
“What’s got you up at this hour?” he asked after a moment.
“Gossip.” She said after reflecting for a moment. “I’ve been thinking lately, about how…ugly gossip is. Everyone says that they hate it, but we all feed on it like crack.”
“Leels, where’s this coming from?” he asked sitting up straight facing her.
Leela uncoiled her legs and faced him. “It’s just that, I’ve been dealing with rumors and gossip ever since you revealed to the world that I’m your muse.” She paused and shook her head. “Someone made a snide comment that I slept with you for publicity.”
“Wait, what? Was it that Cosmo reporter? That day you had been acting strange when you came back from the interview.”
“Fry it doesn’t matter who. I mean, it’s not the first. I do get some looks and I can hear people whispering...”
“I knew that Lois Lane said something to you.”
“Did you even hear what I said?”
“Yes,” he said, “and my advice is to consider the source. Leela, these reporters just want to get into your head, get some sort of psychological leverage on you.”
Leela scooted to face him and rested her hands on his shoulders. “I want you to listen to me Fry, and listen carefully because this is important. Okay?” he nodded and she continued. “Good. I know that this life is…different, to say the least and I know you love me. I do. But there are sometimes I feel like you believe you’re with me, but your running parallel. Do you get it?”
He nodded again and she said, “You don’t.”
“I do. You’re upset that some reporter made an unfair crack.”
She took her hands off his shoulders. “You’re not hearing me.”
“Hey,” he waited for her to face him again. “I am hearing you. You felt like you had just started getting your life on track after we broke up. Then my books came out and I returned to New, New York. And what did I do? I thrust you into the spot light, somewhere where you weren’t comfortable. Now you're frustrated because I-I did everything but consider your feelings, I had everything planned out in my head and I thought it was good.” He took her hands and grazed his thumb over her ring. “It might be too late, but I’m considering them now. I’m sorry, I let it get too complicated.”
She didn’t know what to say and she finally smiled. “I guess you were listening.”
He smiled and chuckled. “We just had a Dr. Phil thing, didn’t we?”
“Yeah, sorta.” She laughed.
“Because it felt like it.”
“And I’m sorry too, about how rough I was on you when you first came back.”
They smiled at each other and leaned in for a tender kiss. When they parted they sat there and held each other, resting their jaws on each other’s shoulders.
“And you know? I’m good with rough.”
“Oh really?” she said pulling back and giving him a sly look. She ran her hand down his chest. “How rough?”
He ran his fingers though her hair. “Wanna find out?”
Leela gasped as Fry picked her up and carried her back to the bedroom.
Fry sat at his desk, his laptop closed in front of him and a notebook open to notes he had scribbled down the last few weeks. The names of characters with short back stories, and a simple plot were waiting to be brought to life on paper. He wanted his next novel to be great, scratch that amazing. He set a daily schedule to get over his writers block: 1500 words a day and he would sit there until he finished. No distractions, no breaks to watch TV or answer the phone. He decided he would lock himself in his office; every electronic device except for his computer would be turned off and the Internet disabled. No distractions, he reminded himself. He went over his notes once more before opening the lid to his laptop. It was starting to help, although on some long days he wrote 1500 random words on a page. It was technically writing 1500 words, even though he knew Meredith would not approve.
He looked at the picture on his desk of him and Leela and smiled. She was going to marry him, he couldn’t believe it. He also couldn’t believe the comment that stupid reporter said. Fry restrained himself from calling the magazine and complaining, but he figured it would only give them something else to write about. He then thought about exactly how much he loved her, and what he would be willing to do for her. Kill for her? But then what? Leave her alone? Allow her to move on if he was in prison? Or would she wait for him? Or grow old alone?
Fry looked at the blank page in front of him and thought about how he once said that as a writer nothing was more terrifying than the horror of a blank page. Although he figured that being shot at would be equally terrifying. But he braced himself and then began typing.
Fry bursts out of his office with a stack of papers fresh off the printer and a smile on his face.
“Leela?” he said rounding the corner into the living room. When he didn’t see her on the couch he turned around and saw her standing at the kitchen counter. “Leela!”
She turned right before Fry picked her up and swung her around kissing her.
“Wow,” she said after he set her down. “Someone’s happy.”
“Chapters One through three of Fallen Flames,” he said waving the papers around before kissing the sheets. “God I’m good!”
“Really?” she asked. He handed her the stack and she flipped through it before walking into the living room. “Wow Fry, I can’t believe this.”
“I know! I just sat down and when I started writing I couldn’t stop. Almost five thousand words!”
Leela smiled and sat down on the couch and began reading. “’ A storm approaches. It is still over the horizon, but there is lightning in the air.’” she paused. “Wow, pretty strong opening Fry.”
“Yeah?” he smirked. “Keep reading.”
“’But the first hint of this storm is not thunderclaps. It is a knock.’” She silently continued reading and flipped the page. Fry sat next to her watching her eye scan the pages and watching her smile.
“I think you’ve got another best seller here sweetie.” She said.
“Really? Because while I was writing-“
She shushed him and kept reading.
Leela sat on the couch flipping through a magazine as Fry continued typing away in his office. He had been in there for three hours since he finished his first three chapters. He might finish that book today, she thought.
She looked over her shoulder when there was a pounding at the door. Leela threw the magazine down on the table and opened the door. On the other side was a tall man with a shaved head in a suit. Leela saw the gun holstered on his hip next to a NNYPD badge.
“Excuse me ma’am, are you Trunga Leela?”
“Yes,” she said warily.
“I’m Detective Booth; I need to speak to you about a murder that took place at your work.”
“What?” Leela asked taking a step back. “A-a murder? Who was killed?” she turned and called out to Fry in the other room. “Fry! Fry get out here now!”
He opened the door and stuck his head out. “What? I’m in the middle of killing a senator’s daughter.”
“Fry,” she said blushing as Booth raised an eyebrow. “There’s a detective here.”
Fry’s eyes went wide and he laughed nervously averting his eyes. “Oh, well I’m not really killing a senator’s daughter. I’m a novelist I kill people for a living.” He paused. “In my books!”
He finally looked up and cracked a smile. “Oh my God, Zack.”
Fry walked over and shook his hand. “Leela, this is Zack. One of the detectives I interviewed for my books. How are you man?”
“Well, I was good until I realized that you and Leela worked at the crime scene.”
“A body was found in the Planet Express bathroom. We need to head over there now.”