Disclaimer: I own nothing. If I did, it would denote I COULD write well and therefore could be making vast quantities of money on my own account. But I'm poor, so.... If you recognize it, it belongs to the great entity that is Disney.

The Dutalian fish fillets were in the oven, the table was set elegantly for two, the sauce was simmering quietly on the stove, and two silver candles sat in the middle of it all, standing at attention, waiting to be lit. Which was precisely what Delbert Doppler now set out to do. Holding the lit match above the first candle with his right hand, he let his gaze fall to the grandfather clock in the corner of the dining room for the umpteenth time. Fifteen 'til six. She'd be here in 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes until Amelia, in all her grandeur, would come waltzing in the door, tired from a day at the spaceport and looking forward to a warm meal. Hopefully, she would love the menu. Hopefully, she would adore the table setting, with fine Canian china and crystal goblets. And hopefully, HOPEFULLY she would find the entire setup utterly romantic --say, romantic enough to accept any ...er, proposals that may come her way. Delbert finished lighting the first candle's twin, and blew out the match. *Well,* he thought to himself, *I'll know in 15 --no, 14 minutes. Fourteen minutes!?!* He glanced back at the clock hurriedly. He had only 14 minutes to finish preparing the most romantic evening of his life ...and here he was standing in his robe and slippers. He made a mad dash upstairs, making a beeline for his room. He threw open his closet doors. "What the hell should I wear?!" he panicked, pushing hangars full of clothing around. *What does one wear to an important thing like this?* he puzzled. Suits, coats, shirts and the like flew around the room as he quickly scrutinized, and rejected, outfit after outfit. By the time he passed up a brown suit set, he looked into his closet and realized that he had nothing left to reject... Save that old space suit he bought from that two-headed salesman. He smiled to himself, as the hideous old suit reminded him of his first encounter with his beloved feline lover, however well she may have gotten the best of him that day.

"Let me make this as ...MONOSYLLABIC as possible. I don't much care for the crew you hired. They are... How did I describe them, Arrow? I said something rather good this morning before coffee..."
"A ludicrous parcel of driveling galoots, ma'am."
"There you go-- poetry!"
"Now see here...!"
"Doctor, I'd love to chat --tea, cake, the whole shebang, but I have a ship to launch, and you've got your outfit to buff up."

As nostalgic as the antique was, it simply would not do for the occasion at hand. *Then again,* he sighed to himself, *None of these seem to do the trick either.* His eyes flew to the beside clock. Seven minutes. Terrific. Here he was, setting up for one of the biggest evenings of his life, and the best attire he had was a maroon robe and matching slippers. While the matching pajama pants were rather nice, they tended to really kill the whole "romantic evening" theme he had going. With six minutes remaining until the captain herself was due to arrive, he decided that now was not the time to be picky about which color most flattered his looks. He grabbed the first formal get-up he could find and threw it on. As he straightened his collar in the mirror, he admired his choice. Maybe pressure was good for him ...he picked out a good outfit anyway. He returned downstairs, dimming the lighting slightly in the dining room and stirring the dark brown sauce on the stove one last time. Two minutes to spare. Looking in the mirror in the hallway, he stared hard at his reflection. Something was ...off. *But what?* he asked himself. He turned his head to the side, analyzing his profile. *Are my glasses crooked? No-- they're fine...* He glared again at the image of himself, which, predictably, glared back. He was so caught up in thought over what was missing, that he didn't hear his doorbell ring until about the fifth time it did so. Shaking himself out of his reverie, he looked confusedly towards the door. Amelia knew she was welcome, and therefore never knocked. Who was it then, and why, WHY were they bothering him while he only had --he glanced at the gold clock in the hall-- 55 seconds until the love of his life walked through the door? He sighed, frustrated, as he opened the door.
"Hiya, doc!" B.E.N., Sarah Hawkin's new inn-rebuilding overseer, and currently an overall pest-and-a-half smiled broadly from the other side of the threshold.
"Uh, hi. Why are you..." Delbert began, as B.E.N. strutted into the doctor's den.
"It's been a while, Doc," B.E.N. said, throwing himself onto a leather recliner, "Like what ...three, four weeks?"
"Six days."
"Ah, but it FEELS like an eternity."
"Truly, I'm sure, but I..."
"This place is looking good doc! Did you redecorate?"
"No, I..."
"New furniture?"
"No..."
"Ah! I've got it. You've gone feng shui. I find the look very peaceful myself..."
"Is there a REASON you've stopped by?" Delbert inquired through gritted teeth.
"Why? Do I need a reason to say 'aloha' to a good friend I haven't seen in so long?" B.E.N. asked, his eyes growing large and "tearing" up, "I just want to keep in touch..."
"Look, it's nothing personal, I just have a very big evening planned."
"Ahhh... I knew I smelt fancy dinner cooking. Whatcha making?"
B.E.N. rushed into the kitchen, sifting through the pots on the stove.
"Look," Doppler said, now thoroughly fed up, "If there isn't a real reason you're here, please, I beg you, leave."
"Real reason? Well, I was told to bring this to the captain. The guy gave it to Sarah knowing that she knew 'her captain-ness.' Sarah told me to see that she got it, and I figured she'd be here," B.E.N. said, thrusting a letter into Delbert's hand as he used his other mechanical digits to sample the sauce.
Delbert looked at the envelope. It was white and long, with nothing but "Captain Amelia" written across it in loopy black letters. He tucked the envelope into the breast pocket of his coat and turned toward B.E.N..
"Look, Amelia will be here any second..."
"No kidding. What's all this for anyway?"
"It's very important that you leave now..."
B.E.N. ignored him, "You didn't decorate like this for that shindig we had four months back. Yes, I distinctly remember drinking out of REGULAR glasses."
"B.E.N. PLEASE..."
"This must be something really, really, important to break out all that fancy china!"
"Yes, it is, so would you kindly LEAVE!?"
"Oh, oh! I get it! Doc, you sly bugger... Why didn't you tell me you had intentions to pop the question?"
Delbert rolled his eyes, but couldn't hide his blush.
"That's it, isn't it? Whoo! This is great! I wanna be the best man; I call best man! I tell you, this is just FANTASTIC. The wedding, and the reception ...and of course, the honeymoon..."
"B.E.N...."
"Oh! And all the little ones to follow! Ah, the joys of parenthood."
"Please... B.E.N.."
"And I'll be able to look back on it all and say I saw the magical moment just before those two crazy kids decided to get married!" the robot exclaimed.
"Oh? Who's getting married now?" a female voice spoke from the doorway.
B.E.N. grinned. "Well if it isn't the beautiful br--"
Delbert clamped his hand over the robot's mouth. "Bronze goddess ...he's been calling you that the whole time he's been here," he interjected, trying to cover the robot's near-fatal spill. "If he continues such talk I may have to disconnect his main circuits," he stressed, throwing a meaningful, and somewhat threatening glare in B.E.N.'s direction.
Amelia cocked an eyebrow at the two, who were now suspiciously grinning. "Bronze goddess?"
"That you are, milady," B.E.N. smiled.
Amelia rolled her eyes, then stopped and sniffed the air.
"Well, Doc here has a lovely dinner planned, so I'd better be going," B.E.N. said, heading toward the door. He watched Amelia head toward the kitchen. "Say, what were you baking anyway?"
"It's..."
"ON FIRE!!" Amelia cried from the kitchen.
Delbert and B.E.N. both ran to her side, where she was throwing a pitcher of water on the fish fillets ...or what used to be fish fillets.
"Oooh, tough break," B.E.N. whistled. He received a dark glare from Doppler. "Whoa ...gotta go!" He escorted himself quickly out the front door.
Meanwhile, Delbert looked disheartened at his burnt dinner. *Well, this is going just swimmingly...*
"Aw, dear, that's quite all right," Amelia tried to comfort him, "I had a large lunch anyway. I could really use something sweet if you have it..."
*Perfect. I forgot dessert.*
"I really only invested time in this," Delbert said, holding up the pan with the burnt fillets.
Amelia cast a pitying look at him and kissed his forehead. "I'm sure they would have tasted fine; assuming your cooking skills are better than your knack for words," she grinned.
"Not that much better, apparently," he sighed.
"No worries. I've had a positively hellish day, and I just want to wind down anyway." She headed for the living room; Delbert threw the charred pan into the trash and followed her. She took a seat on a broad red sofa, and motioned for him to take a seat next to her. When he did, she leaned back against him.
"Let me tell you, thing are positively falling apart down at the spaceport. The contractor who said my stateroom would be finished two weeks ago is still requesting more time. And get this, the rookie lieutenant I got last week --remember the Tandarian?-- well he managed to rip one of the port side sails! On top of that, Raymond, the captain of the Nefarious is now Crescentia's newest bachelor, and if he tries to 'dazzle' me with one more cheap pickup line I'll pop him one right in his presumptuous jaw."
"You're being flirted with?" Doppler questioned.
"Oh don't worry, you're twice the man he is... Ok, so maybe not by means of actual body mass or linguistic know-how," she smirked, "But he's a ruffian and a pig and has quite the sailor's mouth."
"Well ...good. Indeed, was does he have that I don't?"
"Massively muscular arms, defined pectorals, a military rank, and a pet iguana, but who's counting?" she smiled, kissing him on the mouth.
"I could get an iguana," he mumbled under his breath.
She chuckled and stretched. "No need to, dear. You're all the high maintenance I need right now."
"Right."
She settled into his arms and closed her eyes. *Hmm,* Delbert thought, *This might be the opportunity I need to...* He carefully reached a hand toward his jacket's left outer pocket. *It should be right here ...where is it?* Suddenly, the whereabouts of his missing ring dawned on him. The left outer pocket of his ROBE. The one he changed out of only a half an hour prior. *Damn.*
Amelia suddenly stirred. "I think I'll head to bed." She stood and headed for the stairs.
*Good. I can get the ring...*
"Coming?"
*Oh. She's heading to BED. VERY GOOD.*
He straightened his coat as he stood. "Yes." He watched her carefully, grinning as she ran her hands along the opening of the coat.
"You won't need this," she said, removing it slowly.
All he could do was grin like an idiot ...after all, his night just went from "yowch" to "yowzah," all in less than 30 minutes. As she folded his coat, an envelope fell from the breast pocket to the floor.
"What's this?" she asked the smiling doctor.
"Oh, B.E.N. dropped that off just before sex ...six. Six."
She smiled at his Freudian slip, and opened the letter. Her smiled quickly faded into a frown. Delbert watched her facial expression changed and inquired about what the note said.
"Apparently the naval heads have requested the Legacy help escort a fleet of royal ships from Nexus VII to a planet in the Procyan nebula."
"Why?"
"Pirates, love. Hoards of them. That and the Gandorian navy about halfway to the nebula. Nasty group to get mixed in with. No guns leaves you highly vulnerable out there."
"Why would royalty want to go through such dangerous space?"
"It beats the asteroid belt that surrounds the shortest distance to."
"I see," he sighed. "When do you leave?"
"They want us to arrive at Nexus VII in two weeks, so.... tomorrow."
"Oh."
"Which means I have to round up the second half of a crew by tomorrow morning..."
"So you'll start tonight," he grumbled, taking his coat from her.
"I'm sorry, Delbert."
"Oh, I know it's not your fault. Get going so you don't have to be up all night."
She nodded and headed for the front door. "I hope I can round up enough qualified crew members in time."
"I could recommend a few."
Amelia laughed. "The last time I let you pick a crew, I ended up with a few broken ribs," she shrugged her coat on, chuckling, "Quite frankly dear, you're horrible luck."
She kissed him once then headed for her carriage. He sighed, leaning against the door frame, "Horrible luck indeed."


To be continued...

Ok ...be gentle. This is my first fanfic EVER. Reviews are always welcome and greatly encouraged. Flames are reluctantly accepted, but via e-mail please. Let me know I suck in private so that I may keep some of my pride. If anyone likes it, I may continue :)

CaptDuck96@netscape.net