Author's Note: Oh, man. It's been a long time since I updated this story. I'm so sorry! But now (finally) I have a new installment! Yay! This'll be the last conversation to the series of vignettes, I think; it's more of a story, really, but I think it still counts. I sincerely hope you enjoy it, and remember: feel free to leave a review! I absolutely love hearing what you think.

Happy reading!

Conversation

"Fellow astrophysicists… We are fortunate in this Empire to have at our fingertips many of the needed instruments and minds necessary to further our discoveries and understanding of the vast Etherium around us."

The Board would appreciate his speech to them. He was sure they would like how it flowed together, with no faulty hesitations, no bumbling phrases, and certainly no flimsy anecdote in the beginning. It sounded smooth, clear, and professional; like a fine wine.

Of course, this was no time for business. Fine wine, perhaps, later, but this was much better than business. Doppler stared at himself in the mirror. It had been almost forty minutes since he had pulled on his tuxedo, slipped into his cummerbund, and fumbled with his tie before Sarah had straightened it for him. He was nervous again, but not insurmountably. He wanted the ceremony to go just as smoothly as the introduction to his speech, and then have the reception be a warm welcome to the new Mr. and Mrs. Delbert Doppler. He was nervous that something was going to go wrong.

Sarah Hawkins and her son, Jim Hawkins, had had the good grace of attending to Doppler during this flustering time before the wedding. Sarah was standing about, fixing Doppler's lapels and carnation, encouraging him, and offering other sentiments. Jim, now a boy of almost seventeen, sat on the edge of boredom in a chair.

"Sarah…" Doppler muttered, turning and walking toward her apprehensively. "Do you suppose…? Perhaps the string quartet I hired hasn't practiced enough. Perhaps they'll hit a wrong note, or screech, or perhaps…? And then what? I'll…"

"You'll be startled by the mistake," Jim, who had been partially quiet up to this point, offered. "You'll be so startled, in fact, that you'll cry out in surprise. And just to make things worse, just as you scream, Captain Amelia will start her march down the aisle. She'll be startled by your scream and trip over a freak crease in the carpet, and go tumbling to the floor. You, seeing this, will run to help her, but somehow you'll manage to mess up your course and go careening into the table of hors d'oeuvres. You'll be covered in cheese dip and toothpicks and little hotdogs, and the chef—he'll be furious—he'll come rampaging into the room and—"

"Jim!" Sarah scolded her son, silencing the boy at the sight of Doppler's ever paling face. Jim smiled and laughed. "Anything's possible, Mom," Jim concluded, and Sarah shook her head warningly, turning back to Delbert.

The canid looked a little sick. "Oh, Delbert," Sarah winced at his face, which was transitioning from a pallid tone to a tinted green, and she tightened his now loosened tie. "Not… Not everything is possible; you know that. The chances of that actually happening are slim to none. Pay no attention to him."

Doppler pushed passed Sarah gingerly, loosening his tie. "No, no… Yes, you're right. You're right; I have much better chances of each of those violinists blowing up simultaneously than I do in Amelia being so tactless that she'd let herself trip over a crease in the carpet," he admitted, and reached the mirror to watch his reflection as he fixed his glasses. Jim stifled a laugh.

Sarah shot Jim another gentle, admonishing glance, and then averted her gaze to Doppler's reflection in the mirror as he began to speak again. "I'm just—nervous," he said, laying an emphasis on the word 'nervous' as though it mildly disgusted him.

"Oh, Delbert," Sarah offered him, "that's okay. Come on, now, stiff upper lip—" and she tightened his tie—"What are you nervous about?"

Delbert reached into his left pocket and produced an assortment of note cards. "This speech, that's what!"

"Oh, that."

"Yes, that." Delbert turned around to face Sarah again. Sarah fussed over his lapels once more before stating comfortingly, "Well, that… That's something you're doing for a friend. Snarf… needs you to."

Delbert's Best Man, Snarf, was a Flatulan. He spoke an impaired version of English through his many tubes and whistles, and was practically incomprehensible to everyone except Delbert. An incomparably eloquent speaker in his own language (the much laughed-at yet much-studied language of Flatula) however, Snarf had been one of the few best choices to deliver a speech at the reception. Unfortunately, as he neared the finished composition of ardent and moving syntax, Snarf had been beset with anxiety and despondency that no one at the wedding would be able to understand him if he delivered the speech in English. Thinking nothing of it at the time, Delbert had benevolently offered to deliver the speech for him, which Snarf had excitedly agreed to. Now, however, with both Snarf's heart-warming, tear-jerking words of tenderness and encouragement for Delbert and Amelia, along with the speech he had to deliver to the Board next week swimming in his head, Delbert was feeling slightly overwhelmed. Nevertheless, he suppressed this agitation for what he considered to be the better, and had tried to ignore it as much as possible. This was his wedding day. He wasn't really supposed to be thinking about speeches.

Delbert's tongue slid across his lips. "I know," he told Sarah, stiffening his upper lip. "It's true, there's… nothing to be nervous about. I've just got to be the Board—the bald—the bold—the boldest I can be."

Jim was almost on his knees for laughter. Sarah, looking at Delbert, was obviously restraining a chuckle of her own. "That's right, Delbert. Be bald."

XXXXXXXX

Delbert couldn't stop grinning. The ceremony could not have gone more smoothly-- there was no freak crease in the aisle; the string quartet's playing was incredible, he hadn't run into any hors d'oeuvres—nothing had gone wrong. In fact, if the philosophy that perfection is nonexistent was true, this ceremony had at least come quite close. Quite close, indeed.

Amelia had donned a kind of fragrant, almost shy appearance when she'd donned her gown, and had stepped down the aisle with tentative, feminine beauty that only Delbert had been allowed notice of until now. Seemingly, however, the wedding gown and the ceremony had been the key to unveiling that hidden, more porcelain quality about Amelia, for as soon as the reception came and she'd changed, her strength was back like nothing had happened to it.

The guests were plentiful. Enthusiastic aunts, great uncles, and first-cousins-twice-removed from both the bride and groom's family mingled with close friends like a group of people who had known each other all their lives. Everybody wanted their chance at congratulating Delbert and Amelia, and, as aforesaid, since the guests were plentiful, so were the congratulations, and Delbert and Amelia got no moment together for some time.

Delbert, although unable to stop grinning, was nevertheless in the process of an escape attempt from a particularly large relative of his, a great-something-or-other whose name was Myrtle, when he spotted Amelia easily excuse herself from a group of bow-tied triplets and their mother, who must have been a guest that a guest had brought. He bid his large relative a short but sweet goodbye, and hurried across the room toward where he had seen Amelia.

When he got there, his new wife had disappeared. He hovered a moment, wondering what his next move should be, until he was pulled quickly into a tight embrace and a kiss trained fully onto his mouth.

Breaking the contact after a while, Delbert pulled away and looked into the very eyes he'd wanted to see all afternoon.

"For a married couple, we don't see much of each other," Amelia commented at last, smiling unusually radiantly.

Delbert looked her over. "You looked…" and Delbert paused dreamily, searching for the exact adjective he wanted to use to describe her. Alighting on a word fairly quickly, he continued, "…You looked pulchritudinous in your wedding dress."

Amelia laughed. "And you looked 'pulchritudinous' in those tails. Your tie, however," Amelia ran her hand down his chest to his tie, and tightened the article, "you loosened during your vows."

"I did?" Delbert asked incredulously. "Oh, that must have tormented you."

"It did. Many a comment went through my mind for the duration of the ceremony, of which I think I'll spare you… for now."

"Thank you," Delbert said, kissing her forehead. Then, gingerly, he took her hand. "Do you mind if I stay with you for the rest of the time? I've found it very difficult to leave you."

Amelia lifted her right eyebrow just slightly. "I wouldn't mind at all, sir. I should be extremely happy in your company."

Delbert lifted her hand and kissed it. "Thank goodness," he said, smiling. "Nervous anymore?"

"Not a bit."

The rest of the time was indeed spent with Amelia. They met guests together, and conversed with great-somebody's-grandfather, and who's-other-distant-relative, all having heard about the occasion and thrilled to pieces to be there. Amelia's aunt called Delbert a 'brilliant bibliophile' (which struck him as quite fitting for someone from Amelia's family to say), for, she disclosed, the family had long dismissed the idea of their space captain getting married. Amelia, holding his hand, smiled impishly at this, and stated that it had merely been the Legacy's broken mizzenmast and therefore its incapacitation that had kept her there long enough for Delbert to slip a ring on her finger. Delbert only smiled; he couldn't think of anything to add to this except 'Fellow astrophysicists, we are fortunate in this Empire to have at our fingertips many of the needed instruments and minds necessary to further our discoveries and understanding of the vast Etherium around us'.

In fact, as the time to deliver Snarf's oration drew nearer, he could not drive either of the impending speeches from his mind. He enjoyed greeting and conversing with the guests; Amelia could remember all the family's names that she had ever met, however briefly, with such quickness she sometimes had the name before Delbert did, even if the guest was one of his relation. It was a wonder to behold, but Delbert could not stay focused upon the topic the guest would bring up, and Amelia would carry the conversation as Doppler swam around, suddenly mightily distracted by the two speeches jumbling in his head. He wanted to have a part in his Reception and not a nervous breakdown over one silly speech delivery, but for whatever reason he could not stop thinking about it. How did Snarf's speech begin? 'Fellow witnesses to this bright occasion… love is good, and healing, and happy—and we are gathered here to witness the holy matrimony of these two souls, whose love for one another has brought them hither, in this holy setting to be wed, now to be together 'till death do they part, exactly as it should be for man and wife.' Just the introduction, Delbert recognized, would send the whole gathering to tears; this realization only increased the anxiety, for he now knew that he had to get it just right.

This anxiety went on for the rest of the Reception and on to the Reception dinner soon after, when Amelia finally inquired upon his wide-eyed mesmerization.

"Delbert, darling, you look like an addled fish. What's happened?"

She was sitting close beside him at the center of a table stationed in the head of the room, looking out upon all the guests in attendance, where they were seated at little, rounded tables with food placed happily before them. Sarah, Jim, and Snarf, as well as a few of the ushers and bridesmaids, were seated on the outer edges of the table where Amelia and Delbert sat, occupying themselves quite nicely.

Delbert shrugged and fixed his glasses. "Nothing has happened… It's what's going to happen that's bothering me."

"What's going to happen, then?"

"You remember Snarf's speech. You know the whimsical offer I made him about delivering it for him," Delbert sighed, putting his fork down. He was the happiest he'd ever been in his life, if it wasn't for this oration he had to worry about!

"Oh, that," Amelia said quietly.

"Yes, that," Delbert drawled, feeling strangely as if he'd already shared this conversation with someone. "I can't seem to put it out of my mind. It's almost fully undressed me—distressed me. It's almost fully distressed me." Silently Delbert cursed himself; what an embarrassing fumble.

Amelia tilted her head just slightly, dismissing his blunder for the time being. She touched his arm encouragingly. "You'll do fine, Delbert. Surely you're prepared to deliver it?"

Delbert nodded unsurely. "I think… I don't know. I've been running it through my head for some time and I seem to have it memorized, but…"

"What?"

"I have a speech to deliver to the Board as well, you know. I get the two jumbled up."

Amelia's hand retracted from his arm to stifle the smile that flew to her features. "Oh, Delbert!" she laughed. "You mix them up?"

Delbert looked at her. "And why not?" he asked lightly. "I'm only the most reliable in my tongue-twisting. Do you know that about a week ago I got the two jumbled up during just the introduction? I began by saying, 'Fellow astrophysicists, we are fortunate in this Empire to be gathered here to witness the holy matrimony of the instruments and minds necessary to further our understanding of the vast man and wife."

Amelia closed her eyes tightly, her fingertips still pressed against her lips, in an attempt to control her laughter. Presently she succeeded, and drew in a deep breath. "Well," she stated thoughtfully, "better to call the man and wife vast during a rehearsal instead of now."

"That's just it, though, I'm almost positive I'll do something like that again. I'll embarrass everybody, including Snarf. Including you. I don't want to do that today."

Amelia smiled and shook her head. "You won't, Doctor. Very little you do anymore will embarrass me."

Delbert laughed once. "Thanks," he said wryly.

Amelia bent towards him a little and kissed him lightly. "You'll do beautifully."

Delbert wet his lips. A slight guilt began to grip him as Amelia replaced her hand upon his arm and turned her attention to Sarah at her right. Delbert was worrying over nothing at all, and even worse, worrying on his wedding day. He scolded himself reproachfully—who did he think he was? And to voice his trivial anxiety to his brand new wife, one who deserved all of his attention on such a day!

He stopped wringing his hands on the table. What was he so worried about? He had delivered speeches before, of all sorts of genres. Perhaps not two orations in so short a time expanse, but there was a first time for everything. Life had shown him that.

Amelia had shown him that. Amelia—the woman he was marrying—she had shown him so many things. She had shown him that he was much stronger than he had believed. Ever since Treasure Planet—ever since he had met her—he was discovering new things about himself that he never thought were there before. There was a confidence that emanated from Amelia whenever he or anyone else was around her, and Delbert had found with elatedness that she could transfer some of that exquisite energy if she so pleased. He could do anything and be anything when he was with Amelia.

Delbert reached into his pocket and pulled forth the note cards of Snarf's Best Man speech for Amelia and him. Scanning the script with his eyes, he could remember each word and sentence, each bright connotation and fluttering, flawlessly constructed phrase and fawning diction. Upon reading the written word, he felt a slow, a steady relief seep into him. He did not feel nervous anymore.

These words that Snarf had written down articulated in the English word every single, loving emotion he had ever known for Amelia. How could he feel nervous about orating such beautiful prose when it came directly from his heart? Well—it had come from Snarf's head, but the meaning, the very core of the lines were a mirror image of everything Delbert had wanted to say, to make known, to Amelia. He simply hadn't had the words for it. Now he had. What had he been so nervous about? There was now nothing he wanted to do more.

"…Delbert," he heard Amelia address him suddenly. Snapping his head back up, he looked into his wife's radiant eyes, and heard the pixie ring of spoons hitting glasses.

"It's time to deliver Snarf's speech," Amelia informed him gently. He smiled. "I suppose I can't keep them waiting," Delbert said, replacing the note cards into his pocket. He wouldn't need them anymore.

Standing, he felt as though his head hovered twenty feet above him. He took in a deep breath, gazing around at the friends and family that had come in honor of his wedding to Amelia. Amelia—the woman he loved. The woman he belonged with. The woman he was about to give a speech for.

He raised his wine glass. This was it.

The last thought that flitted through his mind before he spoke was how much the Board would appreciate his speech to them.

"Fellow astrophysicists. We are fortunate in this Empire to…"