Ten Years After
3RL01 2006 July 15
This fic is dedicated to my friend Carrie who in her own unique way inspired it (and not the way you'll think when you're done reading it).
Thanks to Kriebs and Chug A Bug whose comments on the message board led to a better ending than what I originally had in mind.
Nominated for Best Drama - 2007 FMMB Fan Fiction awards
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.
"Gets to works, Fry. I don'ts pays youse to watch clocks.".
"Yes, sir, Mr. Ticino. Sorry sir.".
Fry hastily resumed what he was doing, stealing glances at the clock when the boss was out of sight. It seemed like five o'clock was never going to get here. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the digits clicked over that magic 5:00. Fry laid down his work and headed for the door along with the rest of the crew. He stood impatiently in line, picked up his time card, punched out, and was finally out of the building, feeling the burden of the work week lifted from his shoulders.
Now, another kind of burden would quickly settle in.
Fry stopped by his favorite bar on the way home and joined several of his friends in one of their impromptu Friday evening celebrations.
They weren't really his friends, they were just guys he hung out at the bar with - other beings like himself that had no where else to be and needed some diversion and some contact, however superficial, with other beings.
Fry was on his second beer when he felt the black mood start to settle over him. He sighed - it was going to be another one of those weekends.
For his third round, Fry ordered a double shot of Old Thunderbolt, a potent and inexpensive local spirit. It tasted like paint thinner and was as smooth going down as a glass full of gravel, but when you needed something drowned in a hurry and on a budget, it had no equal.
"Uh, Oh." one of his compatriots said, "Fry's hitting the hard stuff again.".
"Yup." another observed. "Let's move to that table over there.".
"What up with that?" the newest member of the group asked.
"Fry gets all busted up over somethin' in his past. My money says it's a woman, but he won't talk about it. When he hits the hard stuff, he gets all mopey and he's a real drag to be around. We just quietly move to another table and leave him alone.".
"He don't follow?".
"Nah. He don't even notice. He'll sit there for an hour and do a couple of those, then he'll leave and not say anything to anyone. C'mon, kid, let him be.".
Fry flopped down on the bed in his seedy and squalid room. He felt it coming on and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. He didn't have enough money to properly drown it; all he could do was take the edge off the pain and wait and watch as it came on - like watching an avalanche coming at you and knowing you can't out run it.
He reached over the edge of the bed and slid the bottom drawer of the nightstand open. He rummaged around and pulled out a faded picture - it's frame broken and mended with duct tape in two places and the glass cracked. He looked at the picture. Why he did that he didn't know - it just made it worse and brought it on quicker - but he couldn't help himself.
The picture was only in focus for a few seconds, then the tears came on and he couldn't see it clearly anymore. He buried his face in the pillow and sobbed. He tried to hold it off, but the descent into the black abyss had already started and he could no longer control it. Like being sucked into a black hole, all he could do was hold on and go along for the ride. His mind wandered back ....
"Please don't stop playing, Fry. I wanna hear how it ends.".
At those words, Fry's heart had leapt a thousand feet in the air. He turned and looked out over the empty Opera Hall. Except it wasn't quite empty - she was there! She'd stayed. She stayed for him.
Fry smiled. A warmth filled his heart, filled his entire being - the warm glow of love and hope.
Fry turned, walked back to his chair, and with a practiced flick of his coat tails sat down and picked up his holophoner. He took just a moment to clear his mind, then he raised it to his lips and began to play, all that feeling in his mind and body finding an outlet.
He wasn't conscious of time - it could have been hours or it could have been seconds - he just didn't know. But he knew when he was done and he lowered the holophoner to his lap.
A fuzzy montage flowed through his tortured mind - the walk home, the good night kiss, the floating feeling as he somehow walked back to the Robot Arms.
That first date after the opera. It had gone well enough. Well enough to justify another date a week later, and another one after that, and others. During that period, he was as happy as he could ever remember being.
But then something changed. He hadn't noticed it then, but in looking back on it, it was all too obvious. She was starting to pull back, to become more distant again. She didn't always accept his offers to go out anymore.
Then the blow fell ...
Fry listened to the phone ringing.
"Talk to me." Leela's voice said.
"Hi, Leela, how ya' doing'?".
"Oh, hi Fry. I'm fine.".
"So, um, you wanna do something tonight?".
"No Fry, I can't, I'm busy. But look, I'm glad you called, there's something we've got to talk about. Can you meet me in half an hour?".
They met in the park.
"Fry, look, I know this is going to be hard on you. It's going to be hard on me too. There's no good way to do this, so I'll just come right out and say it. Fry, we can't go out anymore. I've met someone, and I want to explore that relationship.".
Fry was stunned. He blinked. He shook his head. He ran that back through his mind to make sure he'd heard right. He felt his life crashing down around him. His heart felt like an icy stone.
"Leela, .... what ....?". Words failed him. He stood there in disbelief, mouth hanging open.
"Fry, I'm sorry. These things happen. I know how you feel, and I know how this must hurt you. But please understand, I've got to do what's right for me. I'm very fond of you - you've been a good friend these last five years, and I hope we don't loose that.".
Even in it's current state, Fry's mind recoiled at the horror of that moment and refused to recall anymore. It fast-forwarded ...
Work had become a nightmare.
Day after day, he was near her, but she was daily further away.
Week after week, she got happier, he got sadder.
He tried to distance himself from her, but he couldn't help but overhear the snippets of conversations - Leela telling Amy about the date they'd been on the night before, about some gift he'd given her.
All the rest of that summer and into the fall and the approaching winter, Fry slipped deeper into an abyss. He hardly talked anymore. Even Bender was starting to notice that he wasn't himself.
The next blow fell at the company holiday party a few days before Xmas.
Fry had been there for some ten or fifteen minutes when they walked in, arm in arm.
He looked to be a year or two older than Fry, and maybe an inch or two taller. He had an air of confidence about him. Even in this crowd of strangers, he moved easily - he talked knowledgeably about science with the Professor, business with Hermes, fashion with Amy, poker, wine, and cigars with Bender, and food with Zoidberg.
And Leela, she was positively radiant.
It was an awkward moment when it was his turn. Leela performed the introduction, even though Fry had heard it five times already. Fry stumbled his way through, exchanging just enough pleasantries to get by. Everyone seemed relieved when the professor made some amusing remark that distracted them, and Fry took the opportunity to drift to the sidelines, slide unnoticed out a door, and leave.
He stayed away from work all though the rest of the holidays.
He was walking in his first day back after the new year when he noticed the rest of the crew gathered around Leela in a state of excitement, looking at something. Naturally curious, Fry moved in to see what was going on.
"Oh, Fry's here." Amy squealed excitedly. "Fry, come look at Leela's ring. It's ..... uh ... oh.".
Fry was staring, mouth open. There, on Leela's left hand, was a ring with the biggest diamond he'd seen in a long time.
Fry made an inarticulate noise.
The rest of the crew was suddenly self conscious, the happy mood broken. They looked like they'd all rather be somewhere else.
"Fry ..." Leela started to say, but stopped. Fry had turned his back and was slowly walking back toward the door.
"Fry, wait ...".
Fry never heard. Never stopped. Never looked back.
He left Planet Express without a word to anyone. He went straight to his bank and drew out what money he had. He went to his apartment and threw his clothes into an old, battered suitcase.
He took one last look around the apartment, his eye stopping on a framed photograph on his dresser. He took the photo and placed it in his suitcase.
He looked at his holophoner for a moment, holding it like some cherished memory. Then, tears streaming from his eyes, he laid it gently in it's case, closed and latched the case, and laid it on his bed.
He picked up his suitcase, left the apartment, and went to Grand Central Station. He was on the next train out of town.
His money took him as far as a small whistle stop town in the mid west. Then There he started what would become the pattern for the next two years - he'd find a job, work for a few weeks, then move on, never forming any attachments, keeping people at arms length.
Sometimes work was hard to come by and he'd beg from door to door. He spent more than one night in county and small town jails. Sometimes he walked from one place to the next, other times hitch hiking, or on the bus if times had been good. Finally he'd landed in a medium sized town on the west coast and found a job in the shipping department of a local firm. He had only intended to stay a few weeks, but the town was big enough that it was easy to stay reasonably anonymous, and he was tired of always being on the move. So he stayed and settled into the humdrum life of a lonely working drone.
A sort of fitful sleep finally arrived and snuffed out the worst of the memories, but vague nightmarish dreams continued to plague his mind all night.
Off in the distance a great bell was peeling.
Fry tried to ignore it, but it was getting louder, faster, nearer.
He pulled his pillow over his head, but the noise grated it's way though.
Fry rolled over onto his back. He didn't feel very good - he never did after a night like that. He needed more sleep, and he was emotionally and physically drained. Not that there was much left to drain any more.
He opened his eyes. Sunlight was streaming in around the edges of the window blind.
The bell rang again. This time Fry recognized it as the telephone, and groped for it.
"'lo." He said weakly.
"Frys, is thats youse? Are youse sobers?".
"Oh, crap, it's the boss. What does he want?" Fry thought.
"Yeah, it's me, and I'm fine." Fry lied.
"Ise gots this importants package thats needs to be delivereds right aways. Gets your butts in heres.".
"It's Saturday." Fry complained. "It's my day off. Can't it wait until Monday?".
"In cases youse forgots Fry, youse is on calls for this weekends. Now if youse wants to haves a job on Monday, youse gots half an hours to gets your butts in heres.".
The line clicked and went dead.
Fry groaned. He closed his eyes and wished evil things on his boss for a moment. Then he dragged himself out of bed.
Fry rushed through the space port. The first leg of his return flight had been three hours late getting in and it was a crap shoot if he was going to make his connection. He dodged around a group of women in blue hats; bulldozed his way through two skin heads in white robes that stepped into his path and tried to offer him a flower; and sprinted down the hallway that led to his gate.
Gasping for breath - the years had not been kind to his body - he arrived at the gate to find it closed and a solitary employee gathering up paper work.
"Noooo." Fry groaned.
"Were you supposed to be on this flight?" the attendant asked. "Sorry, sir, it just left. If you go back to the ticket counter, they can try to get you on another flight.".
"Thanks." Fry said dejectedly. He leaned against the wall for a moment, catching his breath, then turned and trudged back the way he'd came.
The one bit of luck that went his way was there was no line at the ticket window. The clerk look bored.
"May I help you sir?".
"I hope so. I missed my connection." Fry said, sliding his ticket across. "Is there anything else I can take.".
"Let me check." she said. She looked at Fry. "Rough trip?".
"Yeah. I got yanked out of a sound sleep Saturday morning to make this rush delivery. An hour and a half after the 'phone rang I was in space. I don't even know what day it is.".
"It's Tuesday, sir. Ahh, here we go. There'll be another flight in 3 days.". She pulled a photocopied sheet out from a cubbyhole and handed it to him. "This is a list of local hotels. If you mention this line, they'll give you a 10% discount.".
Fry sighed in defeat. His eyes went moist. He wanted to cry.
"I don't have enough money for even one night. Isn't there anything else?".
The clerk looked at him. She saw it dozens of times a day, and she'd grown indifferent to the plights of travelers. But this had been a quiet day, and in the eyes of this one she saw some deep pain, some hidden trauma, but also some tiny spark of drive that, though almost buried by a lifetime of defeat, kept him plodding on. Something moved her.
"I'm sorry, there aren't any commercial flights that will do you any good, but let me check a couple of things. Why don't you go sit down over there and rest and I'll call you in a few minutes.".
"Mr. Fry, wake up, I found something.".
Fry sat up, momentarily confused. The clerk was calling him.
He got up and walked up to the counter.
"Sorry, I must have dozed off.".
"That's OK Mr. Fry, traveling can be hard on a person. I found you something. I called a friend of mine who works over in the freight terminal and there's a private cargo ship heading for Earth that will be leaving soon. They've agreed to take you in exchange for the cash value of your ticket. I can arrange the transfer, so all you have to do is get yourself over there.".
"Yes! Make it so, please." Fry said, cracking a slight smile. "And thank you so much.".
"You're welcome Mr. Fry.".
She told Fry how to get to the freight terminal and find her friend who would guide him the rest of the way.
Fry thanked her profusely and set off. She watched him go. She smiled. She'd done her good deed for the day.
"Good luck Mr. Fry. You seem like a nice guy. I hope everything works out." she said softly.
It took Fry almost half an hour to walk over to the freight terminal and locate the clerk's friend. She made a telephone call and told Fry to wait.
A few minutes later, a pimply faced kid who looked 16 or 17 walked into the room, looked around, spotted Fry and said "You our cargo?".
"If you're headed for Earth, I sure am.".
"Swell, follow me. Millsap is the name, but everyone calls me Mills - it's easier. Logistics Support Specialist for Empire Express. They ain't fooling me any, it's a fancy way of saying delivery boy. What's your moniker?".
"Yeah, you know, handle ... alias ... name.".
"O'Fry? That's a funny name, sounds kind of Irish, but not really. Where are you from?".
"No, it's just Fry. I'm from the 20th century originally. It's a long story.".
"I bet. You can tell me when we're in space. Let's step on it. The Captain can be a real rag when things don't go right, and we held up our departure for you.".
The rest of their walk was in silence. They rounded a corner and entered a hanger. Fry suddenly stopped and stared. The ship that sat there looked a lot like the old Planet Express ship, except it was orange and it had "Empire Express" emblazoned along the body.
"C'mon Fry. Lets not hold things up. I don't want to catch the wrath of Kahn, if you know what I mean." Mills said, pointing up at the ship.
Fry forced himself into motion and up the steps into the ship.
Mills secured the hatch.
"Better hang on." he told Fry. "The Cap'n will want to make time as soon as the indicators show the hatch is secure.".
As if on cue, the engines wound up and the ship pitched back. Fry grabbed a handrail and hung on.
He was experiencing severe deja vu.
Once the flight settled down, Mills motioned to Fry.
"Come on up to the bridge, the Cap'n will want to see you.".
They walked onto the bridge. Two steps in the door, Fry froze, unable to move another step.
Mills, not noticing, was saying to the person in the pilot's seat "Here's our cargo Captain, in the flesh. Meet Mr. Fry.".
The Captain turned around, her one large eye staring.
Fry made an inarticulate gurgling nose; his eyes rolled up and he collapsed.
He was having a dream, but it wasn't one of his usual ones. He was running, down endless halls and around endless corners, always confronted with more endless halls. He was running from some vague, ill-defined terror. Another corner, another turn - suddenly he was face to face with a monster - a huge monster with horns and fangs dripping blood, one giant eye, and purple shakes for hair. He tried to scream ....
He woke with a start, bathed in sweat.
His head was cold.
Something was blowing cold air up his nostrils.
He opened his eyes. A bright light shown down from overhead. A shadow moved around off to the side.
"Wha ... happened? Were am I?" He asked.
"It's Ok." a voice said softly. "You fainted. You're in the ship's medical bay. There's a cold compress on your head and we're giving you oxygen. How do you feel?".
"Yes Fry, I'm here.".
Fry tried to sit up, but she put her hand on his chest and gently pushed him back down.
"Just take it easy for a minute, Fry. Here, this should help.".
He heard a click and the bright light overhead turned off.
Fry blinked a couple of times and looked around.
Leela was standing next to the table looking at him. She looked like he remembered, still in good shape - a couple of lines in her face that weren't there before.
"Oh thank god." He said. "For a minute I thought I'd been abducted by aliens.".
"Same old Fry. It's good to see you again.".
"Uh huh." Fry said. A pause. "So, ummm, how long was I out?".
"Maybe 10 minutes. You gave us a little scare for a moment there. Come on, let's try sitting you up.".
She took the compress off his head and took him by the arm, assisting him into a sitting position.
"Ok. We'll just have you sit there for a few minutes and make sure you're going to be Ok.".
They were silent for a couple of minutes.
"It's been a long time Fry.".
"Ten years, give or take a few, but who's counting. How's what's his name?".
"That's been over for a long time. We lasted less than three years.".
"Sorry to hear that.".
"Don't be. Fry, pardon me for making this observation, but you sound a little bitter.".
"Can't imagine why." he replied. "After all, people have their hopes and dreams crushed and their lives flushed down the toilet every day. What's to be bitter about?".
"It wasn't my fault. I did what I thought was right at the time. You could have found a more constructive way of dealing with it.".
"Maybe. Or maybe that's just how we did things back in the stupid ages.".
Leela closed her eye. A profound sadness was welling up inside her. He was pretty far gone.
"I want you to know that I looked for you after you left. I wanted to know where you were and that you were all right. But I couldn't find you.".
The gears in Fry's brain were clashing. If she had looked for him, she still cared. But she was engaged at the time. He was having difficulty reconciling those thoughts.
"Why did you waste your time looking? You had the love of your life, what did you need me for?".
She sighed, then moved over to him. She laid her hand lightly on his.
Fry cringed at the touch - he'd spent so many years avoiding getting close to anyone that it felt ... not right. He started to pull his hand away, then checked himself.
If she noticed, she gave no indication.
"Fry, ever since you were unfrozen, you've always been kind of a special friend to me. In our own ways, we were both orphans here. I felt a special bond with you, and there was ... there is a need in me that only that special friendship can fill. I know you're angry and bitter, and I guess you have a right to be, but that's how I feel.".
"And what about my needs?" Fry asked. "Were you thinking about my needs when you were flaunting him in front of me? What was I supposed to do, put my feelings in a jar and keep 'em in the freezer so I could be there when you needed your special friend fix?".
Leela threw her hands up in exasperation, and paced around the room once. She stopped and looked at Fry again.
"Fry, I'm sorry. I f*cked up. Big time. Ok? I made the biggest mistake of my life. Is that what you want to hear me say?".
"No ... yes ... hell, I don't know. It doesn't matter anymore anyway.".
Fry wiped the tears off his face with his sleeve.
Leela moved in once again. She reached out and took hold of Fry's arms, looking him directly in the eyes.
"Fry." she said softly. "Can we try again?".
"What do you mean?".
"Come back to New New York. Let's see if we can't be friends again. I know it won't be easy for you. I know it'll take some time. But I know there's a way we can be happy - maybe you were right all along.".
"And what happens if you meet someone else? What happens then? Just how much more do you think I can take?".
"I'm not going to meet anyone else, I know that now. You aren't going to have to take any more.".
"Leela, I don't think I can. I don't feel anymore. It's been so long, and I've worked hard to suppress it - I had to do that to keep what little sanity I had left - I just don't see how it would work. You'd be miserable, I'd be miserable, we'd be better off going our separate ways.".
"No Fry, you still feel. You're feeling pain right now. And that's all you've felt for a long time. You've tricked yourself into thinking that's all you can feel. But it isn't. The old Fry I used to know ... and love, he was capable of feeling all kinds of things. We can get help, we can bring him back.".
"The old Fry is dead, Leela. He started dieing ten years ago. And not all at once, just a piece at a time. What you see here is just an empty shell. It can't feel anymore.".
"Fry, stand up.".
It was the old Leela, in command.
Fry slid off the table without even thinking about it.
She moved close to him and put her arms around him, squeezing him tightly.
Fry felt her chest quiver, heard her sniffle. She was quietly crying.
"Please Fry, if you won't do it for me, do it for yourself.".
Fry stood there for a moment.
"I should be feeling something." He thought. He searched his soul, but there was only emptiness.
He gently pushed her back away from him.
"Leela, I'm sorry. I can't. You had your chance. It's too late now.".
She stood there looking at him, tears in her eye.
"It's never too late Fry. Not if you don't want it to be.".
"You just don't give up do you? Forget it Leela, it's not happening. I'm tired. Is there somewhere I can lay down for a while?".
"I brought you some food. We'll be at Earth in a couple of hours. The Cap'n told me to bring you breakfast and find out where you want us to let you off at.".
Fry sat up. Mills had a tray with coffee, orange juice, eggs, bacon, and toast. It smelled good.
"Oh, thanks. Ummm, Portland or Seattle would be fine. I can catch a train from there.".
Mills left and Fry attacked the tray of food - it was the best thing he'd had in a long time.
Mills was back in a few minutes.
"She says Portland will be easiest to get in and out of this time of day.".
Fry nodded and grunted, his mouth full.
A few minutes later he sat back, pushed his tray aside, and sipped his coffee. He'd forgotten just how pleasant a good breakfast could be.
Mills walked in again.
"Finished with that?".
"Yeah. Sit down Mills, I want to ask you something.".
"Sure thing, Mr. Fry. What?".
"Aren't you a little young to be working a job like this?".
"No, I'm 23, Why? Oh, I know, you thought I was like 17. People are always makin' that mistake. Makes it a bitch tryin' to order a beer most places.".
"Did you know I used to be a delivery boy for Planet Express?".
"Yeah, the Cap'n told me. I'd kinda got the impression you two used to work together.".
"Tell me something then. I'd swear this is the old PE ship. Is it?".
"Sure it is. It's the same outfit. The old codger that owned it kicked off close on 5 years ago. The new owners had to reincorporate under a new name, some kind of legal thing I guess. Anyway, they couldn't agree on a name, so they ended up picking one nobody liked.".
"The Professor died?" Fry said, another wave of sadness washing over him.
"Yup. Lab accident. Some kind of crazy experiment involving a goat, a toaster, and a bag of frozen peas. I'd only been here a few days at the time and spent the better part of my first week cleaning up goat crap. At least I think it was from the goat. Most of it. Anyway, I damn near quit, let me tell you.".
"Well, at least he died doing what he loved." Fry said sadly.
They were silent for a moment.
"So who are the new owners?".
"Cubert Farnsworth is one of 'em. I guess he's the old guy's kid, but how someone the old man's age can have a kid his age ... ewwww, that's just wrong." Mills shuddered.
"One of 'em? Who else?".
"I don't know. Some relative of the geezer.".
"Wait a minute!" Fry said, sitting up suddenly. "The Professor didn't have any relatives ... except ...".
"Some shoestring uncle." Mills filled in. "The suits had a lawyer all lined up to have him declared legally dead 'cause he hadn't been seen in years and no one could find him, but the Cap'n, she was insistent that he was still alive and she fought 'em tooth and nail. If she'd a' let it go, she'd probably have walked away with a nice fat bonus. As it is, the Cap'n is still payin' off her lawyer and some chick on Mars holds power of attorney. It's all kind'a nutty if you ask me.".
"Yeah, kind of nutty." Fry said quietly, studying the rivets in the floor.
Fry stood in the lounge of the Portland spaceport, watching through the window as the orange ship disappeared into the clouds.
He stood there long after it was gone. Finally he turned and headed towards the bus stop.
"Here we go again." the newcomer said.
The waitress had just set a double shot of Old Thunderbolt in front of Fry.
"That's two weeks in a row. Fry's really starting to hit the skids. C'mon guys, time to move.".
Out of the corner of his eye, Fry watched them go.
"Loosers." he thought.
He picked up his drink and looked at it .
"Loosers just like me.".
His mind drifted back over the events of the last week. It replayed the conversations with Leela and Mills. It drifted back further ...
"Please don't stop playing, Fry. I wanna hear how it ends.".
At those words, Fry's heart had leapt a thousand feet in the air.
His thoughts lingered on that moment in time ...
Deep inside of him, something stirred. Like an ember from a fire long ago suddenly being exposed to the air again, there was a faint glimmer of light, a tiny bit of heat, the barest wisp of smoke.
Fry sat looking at his glass for a long time. He was almost in a trance. He felt himself being pulled through the glass and into his distorted reflection, the sights and sounds and smells of the bar receding into the distance. He was floating above a swirling maelstrom of pain and despair. At it's center, a tiny eye in the middle of the storm, a pinpoint of light struggled to sustain itself amid the raging storm that surrounded it.
At first, Fry was merely a spectator, watching with detached interest as one might a televised news story of a tropical storm. But then he noticed something. That point of light - it felt .... different. It reminded him of something ... something from long ago ....
He edged in just a little closer. Hope. He felt hope.
He was conscious of the bar again, his glass in front of him, the thumps and screechs of the music from the juke box, snippets of conversations, laughter, the clink of glasses and bottles, the smell of stale smoke.
He sat for a few moments, his mind blank. He looked around
"I wanna hear how it ends too." He said quietly to himself.
He extended his arm and slowly poured the contents of the glass on the floor.
He got up and walked out.
"Uh, Captain, there's a message coming in." Mills said hesitantly. He was treading on eggshells lately, she'd been in a real mood ever since they'd left Portland the week before.
"Ummm, so, like, shouldn't we read it?".
"Deal with it.".
Mills pressed the button.
"It's from HQ, for you.".
She sighed. "What's it say?".
"They want us to pick up some cargo at LAX and bring it back to base on our way back.".
"LAX? Christ, you know what getting in and out of that place will be like. Why us? There must be a dozen other outfits that could get it there before we even get back to Earth.".
"Hey, don't shoot the messenger." Mills said.
Leela just growled.
Leela stormed down the sidewalks of the city in the gathering darkness like a locomotive with a full head of steam. The occasional pedestrian she encountered steered clear, giving her a wide berth as she passed, as if they could sense the menace at a distance.
"Three hours." she fumed. "Three frickin' hours circling to get in. Another hour to get to the terminal. Another hour to get out. And another hour in that god awful convoluted path to get out of LAX air space. And then Hermes wants all of his bullshit paperwork right away. Another frickin' hour wasted.".
Just then a figure stepped out of an alley and pointed a knife at her.
"Hey lady, give ...".
He was out cold before he ever hit the sidewalk. Leela never broke her stride.
"I don't know why I put up with that chicken shit outfit. Bunch of incompetent cretins.".
She turned the last corner near her apartment. As she approached, she saw a figure sitting on the steps, a battered suitcase sitting next to him. She slowed to a halt.
"Fry, what ... what are you doing here?".
"Waiting for a friend.".
"Oh.". A pause. "Anyone I know?".
"I have a feeling you do. If you've got a few minutes, I'd like to talk to you about her.".
"For you, Fry, I've got all the time in the world.".
. -. -..