Futurama

Fan Fiction

The Acid Test
By Red_Line

1RL07 2006 December 17

This is the seventh fiction in my Eight Hours to Earth series.

The inspiration for one of the plot lines in this story was suggested by Kriebs, and I am indebted to him for kindly permitting me to develop the idea.

Disclaimer: The Futurama name, characters, and settings belong to their respective copyright owners. This is a work of fan fiction which has no commercial intent or value and was created soley for my own amusement and for that of other Futurama fans. The author would appreciate it if this work is not placed on websites or reproduced in any form without his express consent.



“Phew! I’m glad that’s over.” Fry said as he slumped into the seat on the ship’s bridge.

“Too bad I couldn’t help you on this one, meat wad. Corrosive high temperature atmospheres don’t bother your pasty fleshy hide – that crap would melt me down in one of your heartbeats.”

“Bender!” Amy said, “They’re just as bad for humans. Why do you think Fry had to wear that special suit and go through all that decontamination and stuff. Guhhh!”.

“Guhhh!” Bender mimicked. “Bunch of whiners. You sound as bad as Fry did last night.”

“What was wrong last night?” Leela asked, giving Fry a concerned look.

“Oh,” Bender said, imitating Fry this time, “Fry’s honey smoogums didn’t show up at the pub so he was all “Where’s Leela?” and “I wonder if something's wrong with Leela?” and Leela this and Leela that. That’s practically all I heard all night.”

“I explained all that this morning – I had a headache. I was going to call, but I fell asleep.”

“It’s OK, Leela, I was just worried about ...”

“Waaa, waaa, waaa.” Bender interrupted. “That’s all I ever hear about anymore. If the new barmaid hadn’t come over and sat on his lap he probably never would have shut up.”

“Excuse me?” Leela said, sitting up and looking at Fry.

“Oh, don’t listen to him, Leela. He’s overdue for an oil change.”

“I may need an oil change, but you just don’t want the cyclops here finding out you been foolin’ around ‘cause you don’t want to get your face punched so far down your throat that you’ll have to walk around with your fly open to see where you’re going.”

“Fry?” Leela said sweetly, “What is this tin can talking about?”

“Nothing. Really. It’s just that there’s this new waitress down at O’Zorgnax’s and she’s one of those friendly kinds.”

“And just how friendly is she?”

“Well, you know, she’s one of those touchy-feely types that puts her hand on your shoulder or arm or hand and she’s real friendly and ... you know ... like that.”

“Uh Huh. Did she sit on your lap?”

“Uh, well, it wasn’t really in my lap, she just sort of sat down beside me. It’s no big deal.”

Leela looked at him for a moment. Fry sat there trying not to fidget and hoping his discomfort didn't show.

Finally Leela smiled and said “I know the type. I’m sure it was all perfectly innocent.” She turned her attention back to piloting the ship.

Fry quietly breathed a sigh of relief.

“Oh, sure.” Bender said. “Just ‘cause the token robot said it there’s nothing to it. You fleshwads always take the word of your own kind over a poor old honest hard working robot. I bet if Amy had said it, you’d be givin’ Fry the third degree.”

“I wouldn’t have said it.” Amy said, “I would have been trying to beat some sense into Fry last night if there were anything to it.”

“But there isn’t anything to it, is there Fry?” Leela asked.

“No. Absolutely not.”

“See Bender. There’s nothing to it.”


“Good news, everyone. Today you’ll be going to Sulpherous 3.”

“I’m gonna go out on a limb here,” Leela said, “but this sounds like another one of those places with a really nasty atmosphere.”

“Oh my no. Not at all. It’s a sunny little gas giant with an atmosphere of deadly poisonous gases and atomic maelstroms thousands of miles across.”

“Uh huh. Just like that place we went yesterday.”

“Oh my yes.”

“You’re boned.” Bender whispered to Fry, who nodded.

“All right,” Leela sighed, “What’s the cargo?”.

“Oh, no cargo. I just need some more hydric acid for my laboratory and Sulpherous 3 is the best source for that because it’s free. You can’t just turn on a tap and get hot and cold running hydric acid you know. Do you know how much the supply houses get for that stuff? I’m not made of money, leave me alone!”

Bender sat up, taking a sudden interest.

“So, that stuff is worth money you say?”


“Phew! I’m really glad that’s over.” Fry said as he slumped into the seat on the ship’s bridge.

“Yeah, me too skintube. My ass was starting to get tired of sitting here.”

Bender lowered his voice and whispered to Fry “Did you get me a couple of bottles of that stuff?”.

“I tried too, but they just dissolved.” Fry whispered back.

“Oh, crap. No wonder the Professor was so anal about that special container. Wonder if he’s got any more of 'em? Hey, Fry, want to go raid the old guy’s lab when we get back?”

Fry stretched and yawned, then said in a normal voice “Nah, I’m tired. I just wanna get something to eat, maybe watch a little tube and go to bed.”

“Oh, sure, you’re too “tired” to help your old pal Bender. I know what the deal is – you just want to get to the pub to see your two eyed girlfriend.”

“She’s not his girlfriend.” Leela said.

“Yeah, Cindy isn’t my girlfriend.”

“Oh, so we’re on a first name basis now are we? How sweet.”

Damn!” Fry swore to himself as he recognized the danger signals in Leela’s tone. “Not really. You know what O’Zorgnax’s is like – any time you get someone working there whose name you can actually pronounce it kind of sticks in your mind. ... At least it does for me ... you know?”

Leela smiled.

“Yes, Fry, I know. So what else do you know about her? Does she have any outstanding qualities that stick in your mind?”

“Yeah, there’s a couple of things that stand out ...” Fry stopped – Amy was snickering and he suddenly had a vision in his head of a robot waving it’s arms and saying “Danger Will Robinson!”. For a brief moment he was very afraid that he might be eating through a straw for the next couple of months.

Then he realized that Leela was laughing.

“Got you, Fry. Men are so predictable. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”


“Thanks for coming Amy.”

“Hey, no problemo Leela. What’s on your mind?”

“It’s probably silly, but, well, you’ve got more experience in these things than I have, so um, could I ask your opinion on something, you know, relationship type stuff?”

“Uh Oh. What’s Fry’s done now?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all. I trust Fry completely. Do you think there could be anything to this new waitress at the Pub? Fry’s dropped her name in conversation more than once, and to hear Bender talk they’re practically in bed together. I don’t believe him for a minute of course, but, well, I know it doesn’t make any sense, but I’m worried.”

“Have you talked to Fry about it?”.

“Well, sort of. I haven’t come right out and asked him. I’ve kind of hinted around at it, but he just brushes it off like it’s no big deal.”

“Maybe it isn’t a big deal. Maybe she’s just one of these naturally flirty types and there’s nothing to it.”

“I’m sure that’s all it is but I’d like to make sure.”

“Well guh! Why not just sit him down and talk about how you feel?”

“I know, that seems like the logical thing to do, but I’m afraid I’ll come off as the jealous bitch and that wouldn’t do any good.”

“Good point. Ok then, we’ll try devious.”

Amy rooted around in her pockets until she found her cell phone, held it against her forehead, closed her eyes, and concentrated. After a moment she put it to her ear.

“Hello? Is Dol there? What? Oh, sorry.” She hung up.

“Oh!” Leela said, “Is that one of those new thought activated ‘phones? I haven’t seen one before.”

“Yeah. They say it's supposed to be simple, but I'm having a hard time. I get a lot of wrong numbers. You have to be real careful what you think about. Like the other day I was trying to make a call and this really hot guy walked by and I got the fire department ...”

“Amy!”

“Huh? Oh, Guh. I’ll try again. .... Dol? ... Hi, it’s Amy. I’ve got a job for you. ... It’s not much, a couple of hours one or two evenings, that’s all. ... What? ... No, you don’t, in fact, just the opposite – it’s just a simple snoop job. ... No, it’s a friend’s boyfriend ... Ok, tomorrow at Ten. I’ll be there. Bye.”

Amy flipped her phone shut and dropped it in a pocket.

“What was that all about?” Leela asked.

“I know a freelance female Private Investigator. She’s very good. She can go to a place 7 nights in a row and you’d never know she was the same woman. You should have seen her at this one party I went to, she'd duck into the ladies lounge and come out totally different. One guy I know danced with her three times and though it was a different ..."

"Amy!"

"Huh? Oh, Guh. Anyway, I’ll have her hang out in O’Zorgnax’s for a couple of nights and see what Fry’s up to. I’ll need to borrow a picture of him.”

“I don’t know. Maybe this is getting a little carried away.”

“Spluhh! When it comes to keeping your man, there’s no such thing as a little carried away.”


“Phew! I am so mondo glad that’s over.” Fry said as he finally worked his way free of the special space suit.

"Yeah, yeah." Bender said impatiently. "Did you get it?"

"No problem." Fry said. "That thing didn't melt like the last one did."

"That's cool." Bender said, rubbing his hands together in greedy anticipation. “Come on, we better get up to the bridge or Big Boots will get cranky ... er.”

“Bender, I really wish you wouldn't call her that.”

“What? I said boots this time.”

They entered the bridge. Fry walked up behind Leela, bent down, and kissed her on the neck.

“Fry, please, not at work.” she whispered. Then in a normal voice “Did it go OK?”

“Yeah, no problem. It gets hot and smelly in that suit, that's the worst part.”

“You decontaminated everything properly, didn't you?”

“Yeah, I said no problem. I know the drill.”

“I'm sorry Fry, I know you do. I just have to be sure.”

Bender, meanwhile, was rooting around in his chest compartment, grumbling “I know there's one in here somewhere.”

He pulled out a bottle, held it up, and looked at it.

“Empty.” he grumbled in disgust. He rummaged around some more. He pulled out a couple of wallets and laid them on the console next to his seat. Then several wristwatches, a pearl necklace, two TV remotes, and a flower pot with a wilted fern in it were added to the pile.

“Fry.” He said at length, “I'm outta beer. Do you have any?”

“Sorry Bender, you drank all of mine last trip.”

“What about that six pack what's her name gave you?”

“What's this?” Leela asked.

“Um, it's nothing. That's the one you drank the other day at the apartment.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

“Fry, what's this about?”

“Nothing, Leela, really. It's just as we were leaving the pub the other night Cindy slipped me a six pack of beer.”

“Yeah,” Bender said. “She was ever so nice about it. “Something to keep you warm on a chilly night” she said. Or was that what the kiss was for? I can't keep these organic things straight.”

“She is the friendly type, isn't she?” Leela said. Outwardly, her tone was normal, but Fry caught the subtle edge in it.

He gulped.

“Tell you what guys, let’s all go to the pub when we get back – I think it’s about time I met the other woman.”

Fry’s forced smile looked like a pained grin.


"Are you guys ready to go yet?"

"Give me a few, Leela. I've gotta put the hoverdolly back in the ship and close up."

"Ok, Fry. I'll be in the lounge."

Fry pushed the dolly onto the cargo elevator and raised it into the ship. He pushed it into it's storage rack, latched it in place, and went to the intercom.

"Bender?"

"It's all clear. Bring it down."

Fry went to the storage compartment and moved some stuff out of the way. He dragged the heavy bottle out and over to the elevator. Bender was waiting for him at the bottom, tapping his foot impatiently.

“'Bout time, meatbag.”

“You try moving this thing. And I had to move all that junk that was in front of it out of the way and then put it back. The stupid croquette set fell over and I've been chasing balls all over the cargo bay. Where we going with this thing?”

“How about the bathroom. You guys don't use that, right?”

“We use it all the time. You're the one that don't use it.”

“Oh, yeah. Ok, how about the Emergency Chemical Burn shower? No one ever goes in there, right?”

“No, Bender, we all use that too. Come on, let's find a place for this thing before Leela starts wondering what happened to us.”

“Ok. Ok. Don't get your organs twisted. I know, in that thing over there.” Bender said pointing.

“Hey, yeah, that's a great idea. No one ever looks in there. What does “combustibles” mean anyway?”


Fry, Leela, and Bender slid into a booth at the pub.

“Hi Bender. Hello Phillip ... oh ... um, you’re ... uh ... new.”

Leela slid her hand down Fry’s arm, took his hand, and said “Hi, I’m Leela, Fry’s girlfriend. You must be Cindy. Fry’s told me so much about you.”

“Hi. Phillip never said anything about you. I didn’t know I had competition.”

“You don’t.” Leela said, smiling.

The two women stared at each other for a moment, sizing each other up.

“Right. How about I take your drink orders?”

“Olde Fortran.” Bender said.

“Shitz for me.” Fry said.

“Altarian Comfort, straight up. Make it a double.” Leela said.

“Whoa Leela,” Bender said “you don’t usually hit the hard stuff like that unless you’ve just been dumped by whatever looser you slept ....”

There was a sharp metallic “whang” from under the table. Bender jumped and yelled “Owwww!”.

Leela smiled and leaned up against Fry.

“I’ll be back in a jiffy with those drinks.” Cindy said with a wry smile.

“Bender,” Leela growled when Cindy was out of earshot, “if you can’t learn when to keep your big mouth shut I will take great personal pleasure in ordering Amy to hammer an empathy chip into your shiny metal hide.”

"Bender ... big mouth shut ... ordering Amy ..." Bender mumbled in a mocking imitation.

Whang!

“Owwww!”

“Um Leela, it is a little unusual.” Fry said. “You usually go for beer, or those girlie drinks.”

“I just felt like something a little different tonight, that’s all.”

“Nah. I’ll tell you what is it, meatbag. She’s showing off aga ....”

Whang!

“Owwwwww!”

Bender scowled at Leela as he rubbed his legs under the table.

“So that's the enigmatic Cindy.” Leela said. “She not as pretty as I'd imagined, ... seems kind of ... hard if you know what I mean.”

“Mmm, I guess.” Fry said.

“Hard, ehh?” Bender said, rubbing his chin. “Hmmm.... hang on, gotta do a search ... no that's not it ... no ... ah, “harsh or severe in dealing with others”, “lacking delicacy or softness”; oh! I got it. Like you.”

Whang!

“Owwwwww!”

“Didn't I just leave this party?” Cindy said as she returned with two bottles and a glass on a tray.

“Bender, and Phillip.” she said as she sat their bottles down in front of them, he hand passing over Fry's and she removed it.

She picked up the glass off the tray and sat it in front of Leela.

“We're all out of Alterian Comfort, so I gave you some Old Thunderbolt instead.”

“Old Thunderbolt?” Leela exclaimed. “That's the cheapest rot gut there is.”

“Oh, I'm sorry,” Cindy said. “I've worked in bars for a long time and you get to know the various types of customers, and well, I just had you sized up as a Thunderbolt drinker.”

“Well I'm not. I don't want it, take it away and bring me some Jim Laserbeam instead.”

“Oh, I'm sorry, the health codes say that once I've set it on the table, I can't take it back. You should have told me before I sat it down. You'll just have to buy it. Maybe you could give it to the robot here.”

“No way.” Bender said. “That crap will corrode my anodes. Besides, Leela, you were swilling down crud worse than this when we were on Cyclopia and you were snogging that cockroach ...”

Whang!

“Owwwwww! Will you quit that?”

“Mmmm. Just as I thought.” Cindy said. “If you need anything, just wave. See you later Phillip.”

“What did she mean by that?” Leela asked as Cindy moved off.

“I dunno.” Fry said.

Leela growled. Without thinking, she picked up her glass and took a healthy sip. Almost instantly she spit it back out in a noisy spray.

“Bleech. That stuff tastes like paint thinner.”

“You kids will have to excuse me.” a dripping Bender said. “I need to go to the little robots room.”


“Are you sure you want me to report in front of a third party?” the woman said, casting an uneasy glance at Leela.

“Yeah, go.” Amy said, waving her hand.

“All right.”

She pulled out a note book, flipped a couple pages, and started reciting in a even monotone.

“I entered O’Zorgnax’s Pub at 1935 on Tuesday, October 14, 3006. At 1941, I was approached by subject #1, whom I had identified as the waitress in question, and we transacted a routine drink order. At 1952, subject #2, [acronym=also known as]aka[/acronym] Mr. Fry, entered, accompanied by a gray bending unit, serial number 2716057. Subject #2 and companion seated themselves in booth number three and were immediately attended to by subject #1 ...”

“Excuse me.” Amy interrupted, “maybe just the highlights.”

“All right.” she said, a trace of annoyance flickering across her face. “On average, subject #1, your waitress spent seven seconds with each female and alien customer and stopped by their table once every 14 minutes. With male customers is was 22 seconds every 11 minutes. Subject #2, Mr Fry, beat the field with 48 seconds of attention every 3 and a half minutes. Subject #1 made physical contact with no alien or female, and thirteen male customers including Mr. Fry. Average duration of the contact with the male customers as six seconds except for Mr. Fry who rated 18 seconds. In addition she sat down next to him twice, in his lap once, and tried to kiss him once.”

Leela’s eye was a slit.

“Umm, Dol,” Amy asked, “did Fry solicit the attentions of the waitress?”

“Not that I observed.”

“Was Fry reciprocating her advances? And Dol, let’s slip out of PI mode and just give us your feel as a woman.”.

“Ok. No, Mr. Fry was trying to be stand-offish, but he was being polite. In my opinion, he isn’t the type who can just tell someone, especially someone attractive, where to get off.”

“Yeah, he’s had that problem before.” Leela growled.

“Was the waitress just being friendly, or was she on the make for Fry?”

“That’s an easy one. She’s definitely got the hots for him. She’s friendly to the customers, but she’s all over Fry. Not as much as she’d like to be, and boy would she like to be.”

The PI paused for a moment, glancing back and forth between Leela and Amy.

“Um, I don’t get involved in this kind of stuff as a rule, but if you need someone who could go, umm, discuss things with your waitress, I might know some people who might know people ...”.

“No, thanks.” Leela said, flexing her fists. “This I can handle myself.”

“Umm, Leela, take it easy and let’s think this through.” Amy said. “Dol, thanks, I think that’s all.”

“Ok. Do you want a written report?”

“Nope. That’s good enough.”.

“All right, Good night.”

After Dol had left, Leela turned to Amy and said “Ok, Amy, give me one good reason why I shouldn’t march straight down there and knock that little home wrecker into next week?”.

“Guh! Fry.”

“What?”.

“Leela, do you love Fry?”.

“Of course I do. So much that it hurts sometimes. What’s that got to do with it?”

“Then sit down and let old Auntie Amy explain the facts of life to you. Fry hasn’t done anything wrong, but this woman has the hots for him. You go down there and rough her up, what do you think Fry will do?”

“I don’t know. It’s hard to tell with him sometimes.”.

“Ok, lets try a different one. What would Fry do if you told him he couldn’t go to that Pub anymore?”

“Well, I guess he wouldn’t go, but I don’t think he’d be very happy about it.”

“You’re right, he wouldn’t be happy. Do you remember that time that Fry got all excited when he found a copy of some movie from his time – that corny comedy with all the funky space ships and the big hairy thing and the “princess” with the cinnamon bun hair-do? I’m gonna paraphrase a line from that movie that you need to think about very carefully before you do anything - “The more you tighten your grip, the more will slip through your fingers.”.”

Leela sat there looking at Amy for a long moment. Her eye started to get moist.

“Amy, what am I going to do? I don’t want to loose Fry, but I don’t know how to fight this.”

“Leela, you’ve got fight fire with fire.”

“What do you mean?”

“Look, when you weren’t interested in Fry, he spent his entire time trying to find ways to get you to like him. He almost never even looked at another woman. Now that he’s got you, he doesn’t have that single minded focus anymore. Fry’s pretty loyal, and I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about, but it doesn’t pay to take chances. You’ve got to kick it up a notch, give him something new to focus on before his barmaid friend does.”

“How do I do that?”

“Easy. Come on, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.”


"Haven't you gotten rid of this thing yet?" Fry asked.

"These things take time, meatbag. You've got to put out feelers, find the right contacts, develop a relationship, that kind of stuff."

"OK. So why are we putting it up here?"

"It needs light. Yeah, that's it, light. It was too dark in that cabinet."

"Well, it ought to get plenty up here." Fry said as he struggled up the ladder to the professor's angry dome with the heavy container. "Hey, Bender, wasn't this glass green before we filled it?"

"Huh? Green? What color is it now? ... Nah, it was kind of like that. It's OK."

"I could have sworn it was green."


Leela’s wrist comm beeped. She bent down, picked it up, and looked at it. It was Fry calling.

She pressed a button and said “Hi, Fry.”

“Hey, Leela. What cha’ doin’?”

“Amy and I are shopping. We’re still going out tonight, right?”

“Oh, sure. In fact I was just calling to let you know that I have reservations for 7:45.”

“That's great. Why don’t you pick me up at my place at seven.”

“Pick you up?”

“Yes, Fry. You’re taking me out. On a date. So you get to come to my place and pick me up.”

“Oh, Ok. I guess I’ll see you at seven then.”

“Sounds great, I can’t wait. I’ve got to go now Fry. I’ll see you tonight. Love you.”

Leela hung up and set her wrist comm down. She took the dress off the hanger and looked at it.

From outside the changing booth Amy’s voice said “Not bad. Could have been a little less Captain and a little more girlie, but for you that was pretty good.”

Leela ignored Amy’s comment, in part because she knew it was well intentioned, and in part because she was focused on getting into the dress Amy had picked out.

“Amy, I think I’m going to need this a size bigger ...”


The door to Leela’s apartment hissed open.

“Hi Lee .... um Amy? What are you doing here?” Fry blinked in confusion.

“Hi Fry. I’m just leaving. Leela will be ready in a few minutes. See you later.”

Fry watched her disappear down the stairs, shook his head, and went into the apartment.

“Hey Leela, I’m here.” he called.

“Hi Fry.” came her voice from the bedroom. “Make yourself at home. I’ll be out in a few.”

“Ok. Don’t be too long. Our reservation is for 7:45 and you know what getting a cab will be like this time of day.”

Fry sat down in the only chair in the living room and leaned back. He put his hands behind his head and relaxed.

In her bedroom, Leela looked in the mirror, re-re-checking herself yet again. Everything was perfect. She was ready to go. Except that Amy had told her to make Fry wait. “Don't leave this room until 20 after.” Amy had said. Leela still didn't understand why – Amy's reasoning didn't make any sense to her, but she seemed to know what she was doing when it came to men so Leela paced and fidgeted and watched as the hands of the clock slowly glaciated their way around the dial.


The bedroom door opened behind him.

“Ok, Fry, I’m ready.”

Fry glanced at the clock as he got out of the chair.

Jeesh, look at the time, we’re not going to make it. Leela’s never been this late before, she’s usually ready to go before I am. This is more like Amy used to ... eh?”

“Oh! Wow! Umm, new dress?”

“Yes, it is Fry. Do you like it?”

“Yeah. You look great! You’ve, uh, done something to your hair too.”

So far, so good.” Leela thought, smiling.

“Yes, I did, Fry. It’s nice of you to notice.”

She’d walked close to him and was fussing with his tie.

“Sorry I’m a little late.” she said softly.

“Uh, that’s ok.”

She pulled Fry closer to her. Their arms slid around each other. Their lips met.

After a long moment, they separated.

“Mmmm. I’m having second thoughts about dinner.”

“Me too. You, uh, want to skip it?”

“I’d love to Fry, but I haven't eaten much today don’t want to be distracted by a growling stomach. Come on, let’s get going and see where the evening leads us, ok?”

“All right.” Fry said, smiling in anticipation.


The taxi deposited them in front of Elzar’s restaurant.

“I think we’re just about on time, Fry. We’re lucky they’d just released that cab from the crime scene.”

“Yeah, and it was nice of them to let us use that tarp so you wouldn’t get blood on your new dress.”

Leela took Fry’s arm as they walked into the building. Elzar himself was standing by the podium.

“Good evening folks, ready to kick it up a notch?”

“Yeah. Reservations for two for Fry.”

“Ok then, step right this way.”

He led them to a table in a corner of the nearly full dining room.

“You two have a good time. Your server will be right with you. Bam.”

As Elzar walked away, Leela looked at Fry. He was staring at her with a glazed kind of look and an enigmatic smile. She smiled back.

He really loves me.” Leela thought, feeling a fiery tingle run through her. “Maybe ... tonight’s the night to ‘kick it up a notch’. Ohhh, I want too, I just don’t know if I should. I wonder what Amy would do? ... Oh, stupid, Leela. You know what Amy would do.”

Meanwhile, Fry was thinking “God I love her. She sure looks hot tonight. I’ve never seen her act like this before.”

They sat there staring into each other's eyes for a moment.

“Fry,” Leela started to say softly, then stopped because his expression had changed to a combination of surprise and dismay.

She sensed a presence behind her.

A cold chill ran down her spine.

“Hi, I’m Cindy and I’ll be ... Phillip! Oh, and, um ... Sheila.”

“It’s Leela.” Leela said icily. “What are you doing here?”

“Oh, I’ve been working here a couple of nights a week. It pays better than the pub. Isn’t this a coincidence – that you’d come here on one of my nights and out of all these tables you’d get one of mine.”

“Yes. Quite a coincidence, isn’t it? Almost too much of one. Come on Fry, let’s go somewhere else.”

“That's not very nice.” Cindy pouted.

“Umm, Leela, we aren’t going to be able to get in anywhere else for hours. We’d just end up at a greasy spoon somewhere. We might as well stay. I’m sure it’ll be OK.”

Leela sighed. Deep down, she knew Fry was right, but she was bitterly disappointed; Cindy’s presence had just driven all of the magic out of the evening.


Man, Leela sure went from hot to cold in a hurry. I wonder what I did?” Fry thought. “I better say something. ... what? Blernsball? No, that’s always a touchy subject with Leela. Work? No, that’s no good either, it’s been boring as hell lately – just run of the mill stuff. Ah! I know ...”

“Cindy is a really good waitress.”

Leela gave him a sour look.

Oh, that’s real clever, Fry.” she thought. “You’ve sat there off in ozone land for the last five minutes and that’s the best thing you can think of? You might have at least tried blernsball or something about work. But no, the best you can do is compliment your two eyed girlfriend.

Leela felt a painful pang at that last thought, recalling Bender’s words from a few days ago.

“She’s certainly been attentive to you.” she replied in an acidic tone, “I never got the avocado dip or the refill on my water that I asked for.”

Fry grunted noncommittally.

That didn’t help at all,” he thought, “she looks really unhappy now. Maybe I should have tried blernsball or work after all. Damn. What could have happened? I don’t remember doing anything. Maybe it’s one of those female things Bender’s always telling me about.

Leela sighed.

Damn it all. This was supposed to be a special evening to distract Fry from that bimbo and all it’s done so far is just the opposite. And I’m being a royal bitch. Come on Leela, get your act together or your going to push him right to her. First order of business, get out of here.”

Leela took a deep breath. She smiled.

“Fry, I was thinking ... this is taking a really long time, and I’d kind of like to spend our time ... privately. Let’s go and just grab something quick somewhere and get back to my place. Ok?”

Fry looked confused.

Now what’s gotten into her? I wish she’d thought of this sooner, all we’ve had so far are the horse ovaries and if we bail out now it’ll cost me a fortune for nothin’ ...

Fry’s thoughts were interrupted by Cindy’s arrival at the table with a tray.

“Here are your sorbets.” she said. She sat Fry’s down in front of him and as she did so her tray tipped. The other one slid across the tray, hit the edge, and toppled over. The bulk of it’s frozen contents spilled straight into Leela’s cleavage, the remainder splattering down the front of her dress and into her lap.

Leela let out a scream and jumped up as the ice cold concoction ran down inside her dress. Her face was as red as a beet.

“Oooopsie.” Cindy said. “Sorry.”

Leela glared at her. She put one arm under her breasts in a vain attempt to keep any more from running down and with her other hand scooped as much out from between them as she could.

“You’re gonna be sorry.” She said. She took the hand full of sorbet and with a flick of her hand flung it in Cindy’s face.

Cindy screamed and stumbled back a couple of steps. She grabbed a glass off an adjacent table and flung it’s contents at Leela. A burgundy stain from the wine was added to the front of her dress.

“You little b...” Leela was saying as she advanced.

“Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! Ladies! Kick it down a notch. What’s going on here?” Elzar said, suddenly appearing and interposing himself between Leela and Cindy.


Leela stormed down the street.

“Damn that little bitch, she did that on purpose.” Leela grumbled to herself. “Lousy frickin’ evening, what else could go wrong?”

As if on cue, she felt the first few raindrops against her arms and face.

She stopped, held out her hand, and looked at the sky.

Within seconds the heavens opened up and the rain poured down. She let out a long, sad sigh.

“You had to ask, didn’t you Leela? Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse ...”

At that moment a truck flew past, spraying her with a dousing of water from the gutter.

Leela stood there with her eye closed, hair matted down on her face, soaking wet.

She took two faltering steps, leaned on a mail box, crossed her arms in front of her and laid her head down on them, crying.

Suddenly she felt something cover her shoulders. She turned her head and looked. There was Fry, looking almost as soaked as she was, putting his jacket over her.

“Come on, you’re soaked. Let’s get you home.”

He took her hand and they started down the street.

They reached her apartment building. Fry pulled out his access card and swiped it at the door. He led Leela to her apartment and into the bath room. He dug out two towels from the closet and handed them to her.

She's hasn't said a word. She must be really pissed.

“Umm, I’m sorry you had such a rotten time tonight. Cindy can be such a klutz sometimes. Elzar fired her right after you left.”

“Good.” Leela spat. It was the first word she'd said to Fry since leaving the restaurant.

Fry sighed.

“Uh, well, are you going to be OK? 'cuase I'll just be going now. See you later.”

Fry turned to go.

Oh, no.” Leela thought, finally starting to come out of her funk. “He's going to leave and he probably thinks I'm upset with him. Come on Leela, snap out of it. You're a fighter, not a quitter.

“Fry? Please don't go yet.”

Fry turned back toward her.

She moved closer to him and slid her arms around him.

“You're soaked Fry. You'll catch a cold if you go back out. Why don't you stay here and dry off and warm up?”

“But Leela, I don't have any dry clothes I could put on.”

Leela managed a small smile.

“You don't need any clothes.” she whispered.

Fry looked at her for a long moment. He sighed.

“Leela, I'd love to. Really I would. But I'm cold and wet and tired, and I don't feel very good. I just want to go home and crawl into my own bed and sleep for about a week. Ok? I'll see you later.”

Leela watched the door slide closed behind him. Tears flooded her eye.

“Oh Fry.” she sobbed quietly, “I tried so hard to make this a really special night. Why did she have to spoil it?”


“I don’t see why we’ve got to keep moving this thing all the time, Bender.” Fry grumbled as he struggled up the stairs with the carboy. “What was wrong with the last three places we had it?”

“Because it’s taking a little longer to unload that I anticipated; I’ve got some offers but I’m holding out for a better price. Also because the old guy keeps poking his nose into places he hasn’t been in months.”

“Well, I hope you get rid of it soon. I’m getting tired of this. Hey, have you noticed that this glass keeps changing color? Is it supposed to do that?”

“Oh yeah. They all do that. Don’t worry about it.”


“Good news, everyone.”

“Ok Professor,” Leela sighed. “What kind of tropical paradise are you sending us to today?”

“No, no, my dear, this isn’t about a delivery. Oh my no. I have an important announcement to make.”

Everyone sat expectantly around the table, staring at the Professor while he stared blankly back.

“I think he needs to be rebooted.” Bender said.

“Professor, mon, you were going to make an announcement.”

“Whaaaa? Announcement? I didn’t say anything about an announcement. But I do have some good news to tell you. Oh my yes. You see, business has been picking up lately and Hermes is having a hard time keeping up with it all and still getting all of his collating and stapling done, so I’ve hired an office receptionist to help out. She’ll be going out with you on your next few deliveries to learn the ropes of the business.”

Farnsworth pressed a button on the arm of his chair. Behind him a door hissed open.

“Everyone, I’d like you all to meet Cindy.”

“Hi everybody. Hello, Phillip.”

Leela spun around to look, her mouth hanging open and her eye wide in surprise.

“You!”

“Hi Lena”.

“It’s LEELA! L-E-E-L-A.” She turned around. “Professor! She’s a waitress in a bar, what makes her qualified to work here?”

“Oh my, well, you see she meets all of our most important employment requirements; She has a pulse, she doesn’t mind our abysmally low pay and dangerous working conditions, and ...”.

Farnsworth leaned closer and whispered “ ... she’s the same blood type as I am.”

“What da’ Professor means is ....” Hermes interjected, “that she’s got good customer service skills.”

“Yes, that’s it.” Cindy said, walking slowly behind Fry and running her finger tips across his shoulders as she passed. “And I just know there’s going to be lots of intangible benefits to working here.”

“That's one way of putting it.” Leela growled. “You could also say she’s a slut.”

“It looks like some of us could use some lessons in customer service.” Cindy said. “I hope, Mr. Conrad, you consider these things when you’re hiring ... and firing ... the people who interact with the paying customers. First impressions are ever so important, don’t you know?”

“Oh, I do.”

“All right everyone, I’m glad to see we’re all getting along famously. Now, about today’s delivery, you’ll be taking a load of loofahs to the Sponge Festival on Tarpon Seven. Off you go.”

Farnsworth made hand motions shooing them away.

“Phillip, will you show me around the ship? I’ve never been on a real space ship before.”

She was just taking his arm when Leela barked “Fry! Bender! Go get the cargo loaded.”

Leela turned to Cindy. “And you. Let’s get one thing straight right now. That’s my ship and I’m in command. You’ll do exactly what I say when I say it. So, you sit and wait here until you’re called.”

Without waiting for a reply, Leela turned and stomped off in the direction of Hermes’ office.

“Man, Big Boots is really in a snit about something today.” Bender said to Fry.

“Yeah, I don’t get it. Maybe she’s got another headache or something. Come on, we’d better get busy or she’ll have us scrubbing the engine room floor with a toothbrush again.”


“Hermes, I do not want her on my ship.”

“Leela, mon, it ain’t your ship, it’s da companies’ ship. If da Professor wants you to take her you got to take her.”

“But there’s no point to it. She’s going to work in the front office, why does she need to be with us?”

“You heard da Professor, he wants her to see da whole operation.”

“What’s to see? We fly somewhere, dump the junk, and fly back. If we’re lucky, nobody tries to kill us.”

Hermes closed his eyes, sighed, and rubbed his temples.

“Leela, mon, I think Cindy was on to somethin' about your attitude. Just take her an’ get it over with.”


Leela strode onto the bridge of the ship and dropped into the pilots seat.

“Are we loaded?” she asked briskly.

“Yup, all set.” Fry replied.

“Great. Let’s get this show on the road.”

Leela started manipulating controls. Inside the hanger, warning lights flashed and a klaxon honked as the elevators lifted the nose of the ship skyward. Aft, the blast deflector swung up from it’s recess in the floor. From deep within the ship came the sounds of the engines running up.

“Uh, oh.” Fry said to himself as the deck started tilting back. He started latching his seat belts.

“Phillip, what’s happening?”

“Um, Cindy, you’d better get up front and sit down quickly. We’re going to take off. Hurry.”

She gave Leela a scathing glance as she scrambled up the increasing slope of the deck toward the couch.


The sonic boom was still reverberating in the PE building. Hermes sat at the conference table, ears ringing and sheafs of paper floating down around him like giant snowflakes.

“Dat’s goin' in her personnel file.” he grumbled.


“Is it safe now?” Cindy said, peeking over the back of the couch once they were in space and settled into a normal cruise.

“Oh yes, it’s perfectly safe.” Leela said. “So long as a meteorite doesn’t hit the window. You don’t want to be nearby when that happens.”

“Oh? Why not?”

“Ever seen what a body looks like after it’s been sucked through a hole the size of your little finger? Not pretty. Makes a hell of a mess on the hull of the ship too. But it does usually give the rest of us, I mean the crew time to get out of the compartment and seal it up. Amy, did you get the meteorite detector fixed yet?”

“No, not yet.” Amy answered meekly, hiding a smile and knowing full well there wasn’t any such device.

“Oh well, we’ll just have to risk it.” Leela said brightly.

Cindy moved quickly to the rear of the bridge and stood behind Fry.

“Phillip, why don’t you show me the rest of the ship now.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Leela said, “But I need Fry at his station. Bender, why don’t you take Cindy on a tour of the ship?”

“Why don’t I take you on a tour of my shiny metal ass?”

“Umm, Leela, I don’t usually have anything to do until ...”

Leela shoved the yoke sharply forward. The artificial gravity generators howled in protest.

There was a cry of surprise from behind her as the deck dropped out from under Cindy and she slammed face first into the rear bulkhead.

“Leela, what the ...”

“Sorry, I thought I saw a meteorite.”

Cindy staggered back from the bulkhead.

“Owww.” she moaned, feeling her nose.

“Ooops, there’s another one.” Leela wrenched the yoke hard right.

There was a scream from behind her as Cindy flew across the bridge and landed against the electrical switchboard, bumping the handle of a circuit breaker in the process and shutting down the artificial gravity.

“I tried to tell Hermes, but he just wouldn’t listen.” Leela said as the gravity faded. “We really shouldn’t allow civilians on the bridge during flight ops. It’s for their own safety. Uh, oh, is that another one?”

She twitched the yoke back. Cindy, now dazed and floating in the zero gravity, fell back toward the bridge door which dutifully opened and let her sail through. She landed with a “thud” against the far wall of the corridor. The door swooshed shut.

Leela reached out and touched a control on her panel. The “door locked” indicator came on.

“Fry, would you be so kind as to restart the gravity please?”

“We aren’t going to run into any more meteorites are we?”

“No, I think we’re through all of them now.”

Fry unlatched his harness, aimed at the switchboard, and pushed off. He floated across the compartment, grabbed the lever, and pushed down. He floated upward.

“Dammit.” he muttered.

He grabbed one of the other levers. He pulled on it and pushed on the other. His body rotated around in a circle.

“Doh, stupid zero gravity.”

He hooked a toe against a conduit on the ceiling and tried again. The lever snapped over with a loud clunk. The lights went out.

“Fry, would you please get the lights while you’re right there?”

“Yeah, yeah. Just a minute.”

Fry levered himself around and down until he had his feet on the deck and finally succeeded in getting the breakers turned back on.

As they felt the gravity come back up to normal, there was a muted sound from the other side of the door as something slid down the bulkhead and landed on the deck.


“I'm back.” Fry said as he walked on to the bridge. “And I got us all free tickets to the sponge festival.”

“That's very thoughtful of you Phillip.” Cindy said.

"That's very thoughtful of you Phillip." Leela mimicked to herself.

"Can we go Leela?"

"No, Fry, we can't. We've got to get started for home."

"Oh, come on Leela, please? We don't have any other deliveries to do today and we have plenty of time."

"I think, under the circumstances, that Mr. Conrad wouldn't mind if we took a little look. I'm sure he'd agree it would be good for moral. All work and no play, don't you know. Don't you agree Phillip?"

"Yeah. Come on, Leela, it'll be fun."

"Alright. Fine. Let's go look at the stuff we just delivered." Leela yielded with poor grace.


They were walking down a seedy waterfront street. On their left was a row of shops that had seen better days. Once thriving business that served the needs of ships and sailors now eked out a meager existence catering to tourists. Only a couple of small taverns retained some semblance of their former glory.

To their right, a seawall kept the raised ground of the street from eroding into the water. Ladders and steps led down to docks at which innumerable small boats were tied up. Further out, across a narrow expanse of water, a dozen fishing vessels rested at anchor, their masts looking like a barren forest in the wintertime.

“Ohh, Phillip, let's look in this one” Cindy said as they passed a shop.

She grabbed Fry by the arm and steered him through the door.

Leela sighed to herself and silently followed them into the shop. It was like all of the rest – narrow aisles lined with display cases and shelves crammed with all manner of junk for tourists to buy. Cindy had steered Fry to the back end of the shop.

Leela stood there, keeping here eye on them.

"Fight fire with fire, huh?" She thought.

Leela glance quickly around, then walked up beside Bender who was pretending to study a large sponge that he was holding on his left hand while his right hand scooped a pile of fake pearls into his chest compartment.

"Bender." she whispered.

"What! I'm not doing nothin'." Bender jumped, trying to close his door quickly.

"Yeah, whatever. Twenty bucks to run interference on the bimbo."

"Fifty."

"Twenty and I overlook your excess weight on our return flight."

"Cash in advance."

"Fine. Here.” Leela said as she handed him a bill. “Get ready."

Leela started to go around Bender but he moved over and blocked her way.

"Hey Leela, check out this sponge." he said.

"Bender!" Leela whispered, "What are you doing?"

"Earning my twenty bucks. You said to run interference on the bimbo."

"Not me, you idiot. Cindy. And after I get Fry out of here."

"Oh."

Leela pushed her way around Bender and walked up behind Fry and Cindy who were looking at a display case full of sea shells. She waited until Cindy was looking the other way, then took Fry's arm and said "Hey Fry, you gotta see this. Come on."

She hustled him down the aisle toward the door.

Cindy took a couple of seconds to realize what was going on.

"Phillip." she called as she started after him.

"Hey Cindy, check out this sponge." Bender said, suddenly appearing in her way.

"Um what is it Leela?" Fry asked as they stepped out through the door into the afternoon sunshine.

Leela squinted both ways up and down the street.

"There Fry." She said, pointing at a small boat tied up to the pier. A man in some sort of sailor's uniform was sitting in it, smoking a cigarette and reading a newspaper. A sign said something about a tour. "How about taking a tour of that ship? That sounds like fun."

"Um, Ok Leela. Yeah. What about Bender and Cindy?"

"Oh they were having fun back in the shop. We'll catch up with them later."

They had arrived at the boat.

"How much?" Leela asked as she hustled Fry down the steps and into the boat.

"Two space doubloons each." the man in sailor suit said.

"Here's five bucks. You can keep the change if you untie this thing and get us moving quickly."

"Sure thing Lady." the man said, pocketing the bill. He untied the line from the post, picked up an oar, and pushed the boat away from the pier.

"Phillip! Wait! Dammit Bender, get out of my way." came a call from the pier.

"No, wait, you have to see this sponge." came Bender's voice.

"Hey, you! Stop! You can't take that out of the shop without paying for it."

Fry and Leela looked up. A very frustrated looking Cindy was trying to run toward their boat while Bender tried to stay in front of her, waving a big long sponge in her face with one hand while trying to hold his bulging door closed with the other. Strings of sea shell necklaces dangled out, preventing the door from closing all the way. Loose fake pearls kept dropping out, making to going slippery for the pursuing shopkeeper.

The trio had almost reached the pier when the shopkeeper made a grab at Bender's arm, yanking in back. Bender's door popped open and the load of swag he'd collected spilled out, chief amongst it were several handfuls of the fake pearls.

Down on the water, the trio in the boat heard the commotion from above.

"Oh, no." Leela moaned.

Cindy, Bender, and the merchant came flying off the dock in a hail of fake pearls, arms and legs flailing.

"Cannon Ballllll!" Bender yelled.


The PE ship descended into the hanger and touched down hard, bouncing on it's landing legs. Even as it's drive systems were still spinning down, a motley collection started descending the steps.

Leela led the procession, her hair matted down on her face and her pony tail plastered to her back, limp and lifeless. Splotches of mud clung to her pants and her boots squished as she walked.

Behind her was Fry, looking like a drowned rat. The sleeves of his jacket hung over his hands, still dripping. His sneakers were now a dirty brown and a string of iridescent blue seaweed trailed from one of them.

Cindy followed, a rag she'd scrounged from the engine room wrapped around her chest; her white blouse having turned translucent in the water. Her skirt hung rigidly from her hips, starched stiff from the partly dried sea salt.

Bender clanked awkwardly down the steps, his joints creaking and moaning. "Why didn't someone tell me that was salt water? Wait up guys. I need an oil can."

Amy followed behind, carefully trying to avoid stepping in any of the drips and puddles left by the crew ahead of her. She missed one, let out a yelp as her feet slipped out from under her, and landed with a “splat” in the wet spot on the floor.

She grumbled Martian curses as she got up and pulled the soggy seat of her pants away from her behind.

Hermes met them in the conference room.

"Great barnacle of Bermuda, what happened to you guys? And why are you so late?"

Leela scowled and handed him a sheet of paper.

"What's dis?" Hermes looked at it, then looked at the crew in disbelief. "A bill for damages? A boat? Clothin'? Sea shells? Fines for litterin' and civil disturbance and concealin' stolen property? Leela mon, I want to see you in my office."

"Hermes, I'm soaking wet and crusted over with alien salt. I'm going home to take a hot bath and dry out. We can talk about this tomorrow."

"No. We gonna talk about dis right now. I send you out on a simple job an' you bring me back a bill for damages dat's twice what we made."

Leela rolled her eye and sighed.


Fry stood in a puddle in the hallway outside Hermes' office. The "Chewing out in progress" sign was flashing.

"Phillip," Cindy said as she walked up. "why are you still here? You've been standing there for nearly an hour and if Mr. Conrad sees you here he might decide to yell at you for a while."

"I know, but I have to wait for Leela."

"Why Phillip? Did she order you to?"

"No."

"Well then you don't have to stay. There's no reason why you should get reprimanded for her mistakes, and besides that you're cold and wet and you look miserable. You need a hot shower and a big fluffy towel and then a big mug of hot chocolate."

"Yeah, that sounds good, but ..."

"Well I have an idea ..." she said, sliding one arm across Fry's shoulders and placing the fingertips of her other hand on his chest. "Why don't we go back to my place? I have a very hot shower and a couple of nice big fluffy towels. And I make a mean hot chocolate."

"Umm ..." Fry stared to say as he took her hand that was on his chest.

There was a whoosh sound next to him.

Oh, No!” Fry thought, closing his eyes as "Danger, Will Robinson" flashed though his mind again.

"You'd better be giving dancing lessons." came Leela's hard voice.

Cindy took her arms off of Fry and turned around to face Leela, hands on her hips.

"Why do you always have to stick your nose into my business and spoil things?"

"You know what's funny? I've had the same thought about you once or twice."

"Oh yeah? Well I think ..."

Hermes' door whooshed open again.

"What are you t'ree still doin' here? It's after hours and I wanna' go home, so get out."

Leela and Cindy stood glaring at each other.

"Well, go on." Leela said.

"No, you go first." Cindy said.

"I'm the Captain and I'm ordering you to go first."

"We're not on the ship so I don't have to." She turned to Hermes. "Mr. Conrad, would you please tell her to go first. After what she did on the ship I'm afraid she might hurt me."

"Leela, mon ..."

"Alright already." Leela said rolling her eye. "I'm going. Come on Fry."

“Oh no you don't, Phillip is coming with me.”

“Um...” Fry started.

“Like hell he is.”

“Uh...”

“It's not your decision to make. You can't order him around either, and he's decided he's going with me. Haven't you Phillip?”

“Well, actually ...”

“Over my dead body!”

“That can be arranged.”

“I'd like to see you try.”

“Come on you t'ree.” Hermes interrupted. “I said out! Leela, the rest of ya', get movin'.”

“Ok, ok, I'm going.”

She turned and stomped off down the hall, little geysers of water spritzing out of her boots with each footfall.

"Come Phillip, let's go." Cindy said, taking his arm.

"Umm, no." Fry said as he gently disengaged. "I'm going home. Bender's going to need more oiling."


Fry was wishing for the good old days, like last week, when he could just be bored in staff meetings. Now he was sitting uneasily in between Leela and Cindy, who were shooting daggers at each other with their looks.

Something cold touched his ankle.

He flinched and moved his foot away from it. He looked down and saw Bender’s extended arm trailing across the floor. The arm started reeling back in, a finger making “come here” motions. Fry’s eyes followed it back to a doorway off to the side. Bender was standing there, motioning to him. Fry glanced around the table uncertainly. Hermes was droning on at his flip chart. Leela and Cindy were still making faces at each other, the Professor was either asleep or dead as usual, and everyone else was comatose.

Fry eased out of his chair and started tip-toeing across the room.

“Fry, mon, where you goin’?”

“Uh, the bathroom?”

“Well get back as quick as you can. Dis is important stuff. And see if you can find Bender while you’re at it, I don’t believe it takes him dis long to drain his radiator.”

“Um, sure, be right back.”

Fry walked out the door. Bender was hiding just on the other side.

“What?” Fry asked.

“Fry, we got a little problem. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘you’ and by ‘problem’ I mean ‘that acid stuff is leaking all over the place’. Well, see you later chump. I’ve got to be somewhere else until the smoke clears.”

“Umm, Bender ...”

“No time to chat. Got to ... oh! Leela, aren’t you supposed to be in the staff meeting?”

“So are you two. What’s going on out here?”

“I was just coming back when Fry stopped me and was telling me about the acid leak.”

“Acid leak? What acid leak?”

“Did I say acid leak? Fry, what’s this about an acid leak?”

“Um, well, it’s ... uh ... I don’t know. What acid leak?”

“Bender?” Leela said, a hard tone in her voice.

“All right. All right. There's a little acid spill in the attic. Nothin', much, to worry about. Can I go now?”

“No, you can't go until we check this out. Chemical spills can be very dangerous. Come on you two.”

Leela ran for the stairs with Fry right behind her and Bender sauntering along behind. They ran up three flights of stairs. Leela arrived first, with Fry huffing and puffing a few seconds behind her. She pushed open the attic door.

A cloud of foul smelling whitish vapor wafted out.

“Phew.” Fry said, pinching his nose.

“Yeah.” Leela replied, making a face. She pushed in through the door and peered into the room. It was full of smoke and there was a gaping hole in the floor. A few fragments of crazed, discolored glass lay near the edges of the hole.

“Oh, good lord.” Leela said. “Come on.”

They started back down the stairs, passing Bender who was still on his way up.

“Hey! What? But it's up ... oh, never mind.”

They burst into the Professor's bedroom.

There was a hole in the canopy over his bed and more smelly vapors.

“Cool! Check this out.” Fry said, looking through the hole in the mattress and down into the lab below.

“Not cool.” Leela said, “come on.”

They ran back out the door, passing Bender again.

“Now what? If they can't make up their minds I'm not going to chase them all over the building. I think I'll just wait here until they figure out if they're coming or going. A little nap would do the old circuits a load of good right now.”

Fry and Leela entered the Professor's lab. In the ceiling of the room was a hole, whitish smoke was wafting off the edges of it and a liquid was dripping through.

Their eyes followed the drips. A lab table directly underneath had a large hole in the middle of it and underneath, a puddle of liquid bubbled on the floor, giving off white smoke.

“Oh, Lord, I know where it's going next. Come on Fry.”

They ran back down the stairs. Cindy was just starting up at the bottom.

“Oh there you are, I was wondering where you went. Where's Phillip? Mr. Conrad wants ...”

“Out of the way, you.” Leela said. “We've got gahhhhha!”

Just as she was passing Cindy Leela tripped and fell forward. She got her arms out in front of herself just in time to break her fall. The impact with the floor knocked the wind out of her and she lay there for a moment, gasping.

“Next time you want to run the stairs, let me know and I'll get you some scissors to carry.” Cindy said to Leela's back. She turned around just as Fry came down the steps.

Cindy stepped in front of Fry and said "Phillip, what's going on? Is something wrong?"

Leela slowly pushed herself up off the floor.

“Owww, my boobs.” she groaned. She stood up unsteadily and looked at Cindy.

“You did that on purpose you little ...”

“Phillip!” Cindy shrilled, jumping behind him.

“Leela.” Fry said, “She didn't do anything to you. It was an accident. I saw it from up there.”

Leela looked back and forth between the two of them for a moment. She took a deep breath, and winced.

"Owww." she said, rubbing her breastbone. “We'll settle this later. Right now we have a bigger problem to worry about. Come on.”

Leela turned and walked unsteadily into the conference room.

"Leela, mon, what took you so long and why were ya' makin' all that racket just now?"

"Sorry, Hermes, I ... slipped on the stairs. We have a problem, someone left a container of some kind of acid in the attic. It's broken and it's eating it's way down ...."

She was interrupted by a noise from somewhere overhead. “Gaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” came Bender’s voice, growing louder. With a crash a section of the ceiling collapsed in a cloud of white smoke and a gray metal object dropped through and banged to the floor. Bender lay there in a pile of bubbling liquid and debris, groaning.


“Oh lordy lou.” Farnsworth exclaimed as he examined the hole in the floor. “We need to neutralize this immediately before it dissolves the whole building. For that we’ll need some Dihydrogen Monoxide. As luck would have it, I keep a supply on hand in my lab.”

“Professor!” Amy said. “Isn’t that dangerous stuff?”

“Oh my no.”

“But Professor, I had to do a report on it in freshman chemistry, it’s basis is the unstable radical Hydroxide. That’s used in a bunch of caustic, explosive, and poisonous compounds like Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerin, and Ethyl Alcohol.”

“Did someone say alcohol? I’m in.” Bender said.

“Oh my, yes, Bender, you are in. You’ll be our applicator. We’ll fill you up with DHMO and you need to spray a fine mist of it everywhere you see any Hydric acid contamination.”

“Oh, crap.”


“How it going down there Bender?” The Processor called as opaque vapors rose from the hole.

“Crappy. This is going to take forever. I’m just gonna give it one good hosing off.”

“Oh my, No. That would cause ...”

There was a sudden explosion.

Leela jumped toward Fry as a geyser of steam, smoke, and debris mushroomed up out of the hole. She was thrown back by the force of the blast. She hit the floor, rolled onto her front, and covered her head with her arms. All around clumps of dirt and chunks of concrete, metal, and plastic were raining down.

Leela started to lift her head to look around when she head a noise from high overhead.

“Gaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” came Bender’s voice, growing louder.

There was a sudden crash and clatter as something metal landed nearby. Leela ducked and covered her head again.

More metallic things were crashing around the room. One landed with a hollow thunk like an empty oil drum.

Things were silent again. Leela looked up. The room was full of smoke and debris littered the floor. There was dirt everywhere and a fine black ash was gently filtering down like tiny snowflakes.

“Fry?” Leela called as she scrambled to a standing position and looked around the room.


“Phillip? Phillip, are you all right? Speak to me.”

Fry opened his eyes.

“What happened?” he said groggily. He realized he was on his back and someone was laying on top of him.

He felt hands on the sides of his face.

“Phillip? Are you OK?”

“Yeah, I’m fine ...”.

There was a "clump" noise right next to his ear. He turned his head toward the sound, blinked a couple of times, and focused. Grey boots. He followed them upward. Black pants (balled fists on hips). Further up. White tank top (covered with splotches of mud and black speckles). Up. One eye, closed to a slit. Purple hair.

“Well, well, well, isn’t this cozy. Are we comfy?”

Fry blinked, momentarily confused. If Leela was up there, who was ... oh!

“Uh, Cindy, you can let me up now.”

“Yes.” Leela said icily, “you can let him up now.”

Cindy stood up and faced Leela.

“Don’t get all cross with me. Someone had to make sure he was all right and I didn’t notice you rushing to help him.”

“Well excuse me for not trying harder but there was this minor little thing called an explosion – maybe you missed it? - and it blew me across the room.” Leela snapped back."

“Oh you do need to be excused. Fortunately Phillip was there and pushed me to safety. “ She threw her arms around Fry and hugged him. “Thank you, Phillip.”

Fry wasn’t sure what to do with his arms. He was wearing an embarrassed expression. He looked at Leela, who was glaring back at him, arms crossed in front of her and eye narrowed to a slit.


“I think we've got all of them.” Fry said as he laid the door to Bender's chest cavity on the pile of parts next to Bender's head.

“It's about time, meatbag. Now how about putting me together?”

“Amy is beating the dents out of your body now, Bender.” Leela said. "You'll just have to wait until she's finished."

“And dat's gonna have to wait until we're done with staff meetin'.” Hermes said.

“Hermes,” Leela said, “Don't you think, under the circumstances, that we should forget the rest of staff meeting for today?”

“No.”

“Hermes!” Leela said, getting exasperated, “There's a huge, smoldering hole in the floor; there are holes from the attic to the basement; there's mud and dirt all over the place, and we need to reassemble Bender.”

“Dat's not on the agenda. We'll cover all dat in the new business section.”

Leela rolled her eye as everyone started taking their seats around the conference table.

“Really, Mr. Conrad, you would think some people would be more conscious of proper business protocol.”

“Yes, you'd think so, wouldn't you Mr. Conrad.” Leela mimicked. “Especially someone who was new and who doesn't know her place yet.”

"Knowing my place? Look who's talking. I would think that a Captain who knew her place wouldn't have just cost the company a huge claim for damages."

Color rose in Leela's face.

"That" she said in a hard, even voice "was your fault."

"My fault? Surly, Mr. Conrad, you don't believe that? I was just an innocent bystander. The authorities on Tarpon Seven thought so."

"Only because you vamped the snot out of them. It was a disgusting performance."

"You're just jealous because men like Phillip are attracted to me. You don't know what makes a man tick and the best you can manage is a string of one night stands."

Leela stood up quickly, sending her chair rolling back across the room.

“All right you little bitch, you've just crossed the line. I’ve had all I’m going to take from you.” she said.

“Leela mon, sit down. ‘Dis isn’t appropriate in ‘da workplace.”

“You're right, Hermes, I’m sorry. Come on bitch, let’s take this outside.”

“Phillip will protect me, won’t you Phillip?”

“Leela.” Fry said quietly, “please don’t do this. It’s not necessary.”

Leela stood there, breathing heavily and flexing her fists.

“Ok, Fry. For you, I won’t. This time.”

Leela sat back down, forgetting that her chair wasn’t there, and with a surprised “Whooop” fell on her back, arms and legs flailing in the air.

“Really? Leela, this is so sudden. I never knew.” Zoidberg said.

Cindy was laughing.

Leela's hands appeared on the edge of the table as she pulled herself back to a standing position. If looks could kill, her glare would have left another smoldering hole in the floor.

“See Phillip, see what you’d be spending your life with. And do you know something else Phillip? She’s not an alien like she claims to be. Do you know she’s a sewer mutant?”

“Yes, I know. I don’t care.”

“You should care. Do you want to have children someday Phil?”

“Yeah, I guess. What’s that got to do with anything?”

“She’s a mutant Phillip, she’s probably sterile. And if she’s not, she probably can’t have children by a human.”

Fry glanced at Leela.

“You don’t know that ...”

“Look, Phillip, look at her face. She knows. Did she ever tell you that Phillip? Did she?”

Fry was looking at Leela as if he was seeing something for the first time.

“Fry ... I ...” Leela faltered. Her eye was tearing up.

“Is it true Leela?”

“I ... I don’t know, Fry. Maybe.”

“She’s lying, Phillip. She knows she can never have children with you. Your genetics aren’t compatible. I’m 100% human Phillip. I can have all the babies you want.”

Fry was glancing back and forth between the two women.

Cindy was standing tall, her shoulders back and chest out, the picture of supreme confidence.

Leela looked worried.

“Leela... “ Fry started so say.

“I’m sorry Fry. I honestly don’t know if we could have children. I never thought about it. All I know is I love you.”

“She says she loves you Phillip, but does she show you? She doesn’t act like it. I’ve seen how she bosses you around. And she doesn’t give you anything in return. I’ve never seen her hug you or kiss you; she barely even touches you. You’re a man Phillip, and you need a physical relationship.”

She walked up behind Fry and put her arms around him.

“And I can be very physical.”

“You get your hands off of him!” Leela said, storming forward, fists balled.

Fry stepped forward and grabbed her arms.

“Leela! Stop!”

They stood there, straining against each other.

“Let me at her Fry.” Leela growled.

“No Leela. If you want her you’ll have to go through me first.”

After a second Leela stopped pushing. Her arms dropped to her sides. She was visibly deflating. Tears were welling up in her eye. For the first time in his memory, Fry thought she looked defeated.

“Ok Fry. If that’s the way you want it.”

With a muffled sob, Leela turned and slowly started walking away.

“Leela, wait. What's the matter? Where are you going?” Fry asked.

She stopped and turned back to face him.

“Away. I can’t fight this. She wins. I won’t give you any trouble. Goodbye Fry.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Fry said with unusual vigor. He walked over to her, took her hands, and looked straight into her eye.

“Leela? What's the matter? I don't understand.”

“If you want her, Fry, you can have her."

“What? Leela, she means nothing to me. In fact, she’s really starting to get annoying. I love you. I always have and I always will.”

Leela sniffled.

“Do you really meant that Fry?”

“Yes, Leela, I do. There’s only one star in my sky, and you’re it.”

“Oh, Fry ...”.

Leela pulled him close and held him tightly.

“Kiss me, Fry. Kiss me like you really mean it.”

From across the room came voices:

“Guhhhrosss.”

“Great Venus’ ghost, mon, dis’ ain’t on the agenda.”

“Zzzzzzzz.”

“Aww, Jeeze, will someone turn me so I don’t have to watch this?”

"Phillip ...."


“Fry?”

“Mmmm?”

“Why wouldn’t you let me take her out?”

“It wasn’t worth the effort, Leela. You just didn’t need to.”

"Oh but I wanted to. I would have been so much fun."

"I know. But I didn't want you to get in trouble."

“That's sweet of you Fry. If I promise I won't get into any trouble, would you excuse me for a few minutes?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks. I’ll be back as quick as I can.”

Leela gave Fry a quick kiss, then let go. She walked over to the Professor’s lab table and started rummaging around in the drawers. Everyone was watching her with a puzzled expression.

“Ah, ha. Here we go.”

Leela stood up straight with a smile on her face. In her hand she held a meter long length of pipe.

She walked over and took Cindy by the upper arm, said “Come on, missy, you and I are going to have a little heart to heart girl talk.” and started hustling her toward the back door.

“Phillip! Save me, Phillip!” Cindy screamed.

Fry just smiled.

The door banged shut. Everyone stood there looking at it.

“Fry mon, shouldn’t one of us do somethin’?”

“I’m not going out there.” Fry said. “You do it.”

“No way, mon. I found out I’m allergic to Leela’s moods.”

Fry shrugged and sat back down in his chair. He put his feet up on the table, folded his hands behind his head, and started whistling “Walking on Sunshine”.

Everyone else slowly took their seats, casting concerned glances at the back door.

After a few minutes of uneasy silence broken only by Fry’s whistling and the Professor’s snoring, Hermes cleared his throat.

“So, Bender, how about ‘dem Yankee’s mon?”

“Screw the Yankees.” Bender said. “Get someone to put me back together.”

“Uh, ‘dat’s later on de agenda. We gotta wait ‘till everyone’s back before we can go on.”

“Lousy stinkin’ Robert’s Rules.” Bender’s head grumbled from the floor.

The silence reasserted itself until a few minutes later when the back door opened and Leela strolled in. She ignored her chair and sat down on Fry’s lap, sliding one arm around his shoulders. She tossed the pipe, now twisted into a very neat pretzel, onto the the conference table.

“I’m back.” She announced. “We can get on with the meeting now. I have a business item.”

“Um, well, open to ‘da floor isn’t until the end of the agenda.” Hermes said uncomfortably. “But I t’ink we can make an exception just ‘dis once. Go ahead.”.

“Oh, sure. We can make exceptions for the cyclops, but I can’t scratch my shiny metal ass until the rules say so. A bunch of rules, I might add, that were written by one of you fly bait coffin stuffers, while we robots ...”

“Bender mon, shut up. You’re out o’ order. Leela has da’ floor.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Thank you, Hermes. Cindy has asked me to inform you that she has resigned from Planet Express effective immediately. She apologizes for the short notice, but urgent personal business called her away suddenly.”

“Uhhh Huhhh.” Hermes said slowly.

“Does Scruffy need to dispose of another body?” came a gruff voice from behind them.

“No, that won’t be necessary this time.” Leela said.

“Oh my, that’s too bad." Farnsworth said. "As luck would have it I need a fresh one for a new experiment. Fry, I want to see you in my lab right after the meeting.”

“Sure thing, Professor.” Fry said.

“I’m sorry, not today Professor.” Leela said. She looked Fry in the eyes and said “Fry and I are taking the afternoon off. We have some personal business we need to attend to.”

“We do?”

“Yes, Fry, we do.”

“Hey! Meat bags. Down here. Before you two run off to do gross organic stuff, how about putting me back together?”

“Yes, Bender, we couldn’t forget you. You’ve been so supportive and such a help through this whole little episode that you deserve some special treatment.”

“Damn straight I do. If it weren’t for old Bender ...”

Leela’s foot lashed out, sending Bender’s head rolling across the floor and into the still smoldering hole.

“Damn you Leela ...”

Bang!

“Oww, I’ll get you ..”

Thunk!

“... Eghhh! I swear ...”

Whang!

“... Ooof! if it’s the last thing ...”

Sphlook.


Fry and Leela strolled down the street hand in hand. Fry carried the pipe in his free hand.

“Umm, Leela, shouldn’t we have tossed this thing in the fusion boiler or something?”

“Why? Don’t you like it?”

“No, it’s not that, it’s cool and all. But even in my time they could get enough blood and stuff off things like that to send people to prison for life.”

“Fry, what are you talking about? While Cindy and I were talking I bent that pipe. I do that for fun sometimes. I’ve been trying to make a pretzel for quite a while now and that’s the first time I’ve had one come out good. I made it as a gift for you. I thought you might like to hang it in your apartment.”

“Oh. ... uh, thanks. I’ve got a perfect spot for it on the living room wall. Not to change the subject, but uh, this personal business, my place or yours?” Fry said, his voice growing suave.

“Neither.".

She stopped, turned to face him, and took his hands.

“About Cindy. I'm sorry I got so bent out of shape about her. But she was hot for your bod and, well, I had to try to do something. I didn't want to loose you.”

“Loose me? Leela, you should know better than that by now.”

“I know I should. I'm sorry. Fry, do you love me?”

“You know I do. That's a silly question.”

“How much do you love me, Fry?”

“Umm, well, lots. I mean, I'd like to get married someday. How about tomorrow, are you free in the morning?"

"Fry, please. Try to be serious for just a moment."

"I was." Fry said quietly.

“Ok, here's the biggie. If we were to get married, would you want to have children?”

“Umm, yeah, I guess so. I never really thought about it ... much. Do you?”

“Yes, I think I would. But Cindy was right about one thing – I'm a mutant, and just because I'm the least-mutated mutant ever born doesn't mean I can have normal, human children. And you are your own grandfather, it's anyones guess what that will do.”

“So, uh, what do we do?”

Well, to start with, we talk to an expert. After Cindy and I got done talking and she left, I made a couple of phone calls. One was to my mother, she recommended a doctor who specializes in alien genetics. He’s mutant friendly and very discrete. I called him and he’s interested in our case and is working us in this afternoon. It’s just a consultation, but eventually we’ll go back and he’ll run some tests. We’ll find out for sure if we can have kids or not.”

“But you’re not alien.”

Leela shrugged.

“Mutant, alien, it’s all the same thing.”

“Oh.” Fry said, a slight trace of disappointment in his voice. A mosaic of thoughts slowly pieced themselves together in his mind. The picture started becoming clearer and suddenly he brightened. “OH!” he said.

Leela smiled. She pulled Fry close to her.

“And then after we get done at the doctors,” she whispered, “maybe we can go to your apartment and see if we can’t find a good place to put that pipe of yours.”

. -. -..

Buddies