Fan Fiction

A Different View, part 3
By Graham Dawson

Chapter Three – Hot Coffee

They reached the Robot Arms in record time thanks to a little creative driving by their Cab-bot, and despite a detour to drop off Amy’s oversized pile of shopping. Fry even left him a tip.

Inside, they found Bender clutching a beer on the couch, surfing channels and mumbling occasionally about deliveries. He didn’t turn when they closed the door.

“What’s up losers?” Bender intoned, taking another draught of his beer. He looked up at the clatter of bags and boxes dropping to the floor, patted his chest compartment and winked at Leela. “Hey, want me to help you with that?”

“No I’m good,” Leela said, shuffling a few bags closer to the wall and placing her own modest purchases on top of the pile. Amy sat down on a box and glared at Bender.

“What about you Fry, want a hand with your junk? Oh wait that’s right, you don’t have any now!” Bender laughed out loud until he saw Fry’s faint look of confused disgust. He looked at Fry again. “You see, because you’re not a man any more, and junk is... and... aaww come on Fry, it’s funny!”

“I don’t get it.”

“That’s probably because you’ve spent so much time with Sir Grumps-a-lot there,” Bender retorted, waving his beer at Leela. She rolled her eye and folded her arms. “Come on Fry, you always used to laugh at my crap jokes. What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing,” Fry said. “Well, everything. I’m sorry, Bender, I really am. I don’t want to lose our friendship but I’m in a really weird place right now. I just need a little space. Time to... to adjust, you know?”

“Time to adjust, huh?” Bender stood up. He threw his unfinished beer into his chest and faced Fry head-on. “A little space, huh? That’s women’s talk for quitting and leaving, Fry. That what you’re doing? Quitting and leaving?”

“No! I’m not doing that at all, I just, you just need to back off a little, that’s all.”

“Oh I need to back off. I need to give you a little space!”

“Pretty much,” Fry said. Leela closed her eye and put a hand to her face. This was not good. For the second time that day she found herself standing between the pair of them.

“Look,” she said, glaring at Fry and Bender in turn. “You two are going about this completely the wrong way. Bender, Philippa isn’t going to disappear and stop being your friend just because she’s a she. And Philippa, you need to remember that Bender is your friend. Your relationship is going to be very different from here on in, now shut up and let me watch the television.”

Leela grabbed the remote and dropped on to the couch with a grunt, where she changed channels until some sort of news program appeared. Bender went and stood next to Fry, and they both watched her for a while.

“Wow,” Bender said eventually. “She’s in a real ballbreaker mood today.”

“I wouldn’t know about that,” Fry said. She elbowed Bender and smiled. Bender laughed a little bit. “I know it’ll sound like soppy girl stuff to you, Bender, but I do love being around you, and I do find your jokes funny. It’s just hard.”

“Yeah. Maybe.” Bender looked at his fingertips. “Anyway, I got a note about a TV delivery coming tomorrow morning. You know anything about that?”

“Weelll, I may have slightly ordered a fifteen foot plasmatron.”

“Oh. Oh.” Bender looked around the apartment. “Right. Fifteen feet you say? Well. I...” He suddenly threw his arms around Fry, who yeeked in shock.Fry, you’re the best girlfriend a guy could ever have!”

Fry half-shrugged and tried to untangle herself from Bender’s arms. “Thanks, I think.”

“Don’t mention it,” Bender said. He pulled out a cigar and sat himself down on the couch next to Leela. “So what’s so important about the TV then?”

Leela pointed as a ‘breaking news’ graphic appeared on the screen. “This. Now quiet.”

Fry sat down next to Leela and stared at the screen as the music played out. Then half of the pair she’d come to associate with just about every major news and entertainment program appeared on screen, grimacing at the camera. She moved over a little to let Amy sit next to her, forcing Leela to shuffle over as well. Leela grumbled, but kept her eye fixed on the screen.

“Good afternoon Puny Humans,” the great green alien intoned solemnly. “Pathetic specimens of humanity infesting Earth settlement New New York City were panicked into a stampede after lights appeared in the sky above their chaotic and ill-planned city. We now go live to Fifth Avenue, where puny female co-host Linda has the latest update. Linda?”

The view changed to fifth avenue, right outside the Mandroid’s Cellar. Linda was standing in front of a camera, holding a comically oversized microphone and peering at something below the frame. “So I said of course I’d love to see their new swimming pool but- what? Oh!” She quickly adjusted her hair and looked into the camera. “Thank you Morbo. I’m standing here where the first eye-witnesses appear to have seen what happened.” Linda paused for a moment as a still-frame from a handheld camera was flashed up, showing Fry, Leela and Amy from an angle that put the camera inside the Mandroid’s Cellar. Amy and Leela glared at Fry. She grinned nervously and tried to sink into the seat.

“The women pictured were unavailable for comment, having left the scene shortly after the events, however several other witnesses claimed that bright orange lights appeared in the sky heading east, only to disappear moments later. City authorities have not yet released any comment, though an official at the Earth Orbital Space Command Centre has told Sqrt2 News that the apparent objects were not space-craft and not any known natural phenomenon. From Fifth Avenue, New New York City for Sqrt2 News. Morbo?”

“Thank you, Linda.” Morbo appeared on the screen again, shuffling paper. He looked at the camera. “With news of the DOOP’s successful negotiations with the Ruklisk still fresh in their feeble minds, some commentators have speculated that today’s events may have been the end result of a power-play by the Ruklisk prior to their sudden acquiescence in the face of the uncompromising stance of superior human specimen Captain Zapp Brannigan of the Starship Nimbus. Other commentators believe this may be part of a larger attempt by that honourable race to terrify the pathetic species that infests this planet into paranoid catatonia in order to soften them up for a full-blown invasion. Morbo finds that this statement ignores the potential for humans to scare themselves witless with nothing more advanced than shadow puppets.

“The DOOP leadership have announced a press conference tomorrow morning where they are expected to reveal the terms of the new treaty with the Ruklisk. Morbo hopes abject surrender was amongst them, as it would prepare this world for my people’s inevitable victory in the coming war of conquest. YOU WILL ALL PERISH! This is Morbo for Sqrt2 News.”

Leela turned off the TV and stared at the blank screen for a moment. Then she stood up. “That wasn’t as helpful as I’d hoped.”

“This is network television Leela,” Amy said,. “If you expected them to actually be informative you’re dumber than I am.”

Amy nodded in triumph, then suddenly realised what she said. She mouthed a silent ‘oh’ and sat back on the couch, trying to avoid everyone’s gaze.

Fry looked up at Leela; hell, it was something she’d done ever since she’d arrived here, why break the habit now? “What are we going to do?”

“Nothing,” Leela said. Her voice sounded a little distant. She looked down at Fry. “I’m going home. Are you going to be all right tonight?”

Fry nodded and tried to smile. It almost worked. She touched her hair as she thought about what to say next. It needed styling or something. At least it was clean. “I’ll be fine I think. Maybe we could get together after work tomorrow for coffee.”

“I’d like that,” Leela said. She looked at Amy. “How about you?”

“I can’t, I have a big sorority party to go to uptown tomorrow night. You can come if you want.” Amy smiled hopefully, but Leela shook her head. “Fry?”

“I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that,” Fry said sadly. She thought about how the old Fry would have reacted to such an invitation and groaned inwardly. So many odd memories that needed excising. Odd thought to have, too... “Thanks for taking me shopping today. I enjoyed it. A lot.”

“Oh. Oh! Perhaps,” Amy asked shyly, “you can come with me again some time?”

Fry glanced at Leela, who shrugged and looked away. “Sure, I’d like that.”

“Great! We can hit all my favourite shops! I could take you for a manicure!” Amy jumped up from her seat and skipped – skipped – toward the door. She paused by the pile of shopping. “Fry, you have to get me one of those eOdels! I will do anything, just get me one. Please?”

Bender sat up. “Anything?”

“Not now Bender.” Fry batted Bender’s arm away from her head and grinned at Amy. “Have mine, I can get another one.”

“You mean it? Thanks Fry!” She reached into the pile and plucked the miniature music player from the depths. Amy hugged the box to her chest and spun around a couple of times. “You’re the best!”

The door hissed and Amy was gone. Leela walked over to the shopping and retrieved her own meagre selection. “That was very sweet of you Philippa,” she said as Fry joined her by the door. “Are you sure you know what you’re going, saying you’ll go shopping with her?”

“Not really, but if she’s paying who am I to argue?”

Leela shouldered her bags and took Fry’s hand. “It was nice. You’re a good friend, Philippa.” She gave her a quick hug and squeezed her hands. “I’d better get home, I have to feed Nibbler before he eats the neighbour’s cat again.”

Leela stepped back and looked Fry up and down. “You’re making a great woman, you know that?” She followed Amy out of the apartment, leaving Fry alone with her thoughts.

And Bender’s.

“You know what I think,” the robot said after a moment. Fry waited the obligatory half-second that Bender allowed as a sop to anyone who might want to interrupt. “I think you should get yourself some fancy hosiery and-”

“Don’t push your luck Bender.”

“It was just an idea...” Fry heard Bender stand up and clump toward his room. “Oh, oh you could-”

“Does it involve you using me to make money in some sort of exploitative mantrap on the internet?” Fry turned around and glared at Bender. “Because if it does I’m probably not interested.”


“Goodnight Bender.” Fry turned to her room, then paused. She looked back at the forlorn robot, suddenly feeling guilty. “If it makes you feel better, someone needs to be home when the new TV arrives.” When Bender didn’t move, Fry edged a little closer. “I bought us sports cable?”


The next morning saw Fry stumbling into work almost an hour late. She practically crawled up the stairs to the lounge and collapsed on the couch with a groan. Fry closed her eyes as soon as she hit the cushions and didn’t even notice when Leela entered the room.

“Wow, are you okay? You look like hell,” Leela said, pulling Fry upright. Fry groaned again. “What’s the matter?”

Fry slumped in the seat, shielding her eyes from the sunlight streaming through the window. “I didn’t sleep very well last night. Every time I rolled over these damn things would... Leela how do you cope with it?”

“I suppose you sort of get used to it,” Leela said slowly. “To be honest I never thought about it before. Let me guess, you kept rolling on to your front.”

Fry shut her eyes and slowly nodded her head. She flopped back on the couch and spread her arms out with a plaintive sigh. “I never thought I’d miss being able to do that.”

“Want some coffee?”

Fry nodded. “Oh yes. Strong as you got. In fact just bring me the raw coffee and a spoon.”

“You’re in luck, I found some Turkish espresso in the back of a cupboard this morning. Besides,” Leela added as she walked away. “It looks like we’re not going to be doing much in the way of deliveries today. Business has been pretty slow recently.”

The kitchen door closed behind Leela just moments before the hangar door opened, admitting Professor Farnsworth. He shuffled in and paused at the threshold.

“Good news ev-” Farnsworth grimaced and peered around the room. His gaze rested on Fry. “Oh.”

“Sorry Professor, just me right now,” Fry said. She opened her eyes and looked at him. “Leela will be back in a few minutes if that helps.”

“It doesn’t help at all!” Farnsworth slowly turned himself around and shuffled out of the room, mumbling to himself. Fry cast a tired gaze toward the door and then let her head loll back against the couch. She laid an arm over her eyes to block out the light.

Her relief was short lived.

“Hey, wake up lazybones, your coffee’s getting cold.” Leela poked Fry until she sat upright again.

“Thanks.” Fry managed to pull herself upright. She took the cup Leela proffered and immersed her head in the thick steam rising from the coffee’s surface. “Oh I needed that,” she said after a moment, keeping her eyes closed. She took a deep breath of the steam. Her eyes snapped open. “Wow this stuff is strong.”

“Yes. Be careful with it, you don’t want to overdose on caffeine before this afternoon, remember?”

“I think I might have already.” Fry looked into the coffee. After a moment of thought she put it down on the table and stood up. “The Professor was in a moment ago. I think he has some sort of announcement to make.”

“Perhaps we’ve got a job,” Leela said with a smile. She rubbed her hands together with glee. “An actual job. It’s been so long since I flew that I’ve almost forgotten how. Come on, he’s probably in his lab.”

Fry grimaced. She wasn’t so sure about going up to the lab again. Last time she’d not been able to get up to the door without her heart fluttering. She hung back a moment. “I think we’d better check the conference room first,” she said quietly. Leela gave her a gentle look and then nodded.

“Okay, you check the conference room, I’ll take the lab. One of us should find him.”

“Oh. Yes, that would work. I-” Fry was interrupted by a PA speaker crackling to life. Feedback whistled around the building. “When did that get installed?”

“Beats me,” Leela said. They looked up at the ceiling as the PA crackled again. Professor Farnsworth’s echoed after it.

“Attention employees, this is an announcement, h’yes.” There was a pause and more feedback. Farnsworth’s voice was stilted and monotonous, as if he was reading from a script. “Good news. Everyone. Due to. The lack. Of. Gainf-”

“Oh gimme that you silly old mon, mon,” Hermes’s voice cut in. He coughed into the speaker a few times. “Good morning employees, due to the continuin dearth of available work we are no longer goin to pay you to be here sitting on your idle buttocks, until and unless you can supply the appropriate Bureaucrat Non-functional Employment License. All pay is therefore suspended until an order comes in. Of course we will expect you to remain on duty for as long as required to maintain a speedy response time in such an eventuality. Please have a productive and pleasant day.”

“I could have said it better,” Farnsworth said, before the speaker cut off. There was a moment of silence as the two women contemplated what they’d heard.

“I guess we’re getting that coffee early then,” Leela said, heading for the door. “There’s that nice place across the road, or we could try somewhere else.”

“I think some other place would be best. That one across the road has... memories.” Fry glanced at the coffee shop as they exited the building. Last time he’d been there had been the first time she’d been able to tell Leela how she really felt. It was strange. She knew in her head that she had loved Leela, but now she couldn’t muster it. The feelings were there but, filtered through her new mind, were radically different, as if what had been a sort of lustful pursuit had turned into something completely different.

Fry realised she’d stopped walking and jogged to catch up with Leela, who had paused at the street corner. She smiled at Fry again. “Come on lazy bones, I thought all that Turkish grunge would have had you bouncing off the walls by now.”

Fry managed to muster a half-hearted laugh. Leela peered at her and tutted. “You really didn’t sleep at all last night, did you.”

“Not a wink. I think it’s the familiarity of my room back home,” Fry said as they crossed the road. There was surprisingly little traffic around. “It’s like it;’s my room, but it’s not my room, if you see what I mean. It’s a man’s room, I wasn’t really comfortable in it any more, and that’s on top of... well.” She glanced down and the grinned nervously. “Don’t make any jokes.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Leela said. They came to a small coffee bar in a side-street called ‘Maxine’s’, with a pair of steel tables on the pavement outside, and several overstuffed couches behind the windows. A few bookish patrons slumbering in the deep folds of upholstery barely acknowledged Fry and Leela as they entered the bar, though a slim attendant waved to them from behind the counter.

“What can I get you lovely ladies,” he said as they approached. He paused at the sight of Leela’s eye and raised an eyebrow. “Hey aren’t you the one that-”

Leela glared at the young man. “If this is about Brannigan...”

“Oh. Oh no, no, whatever that might be, I have no idea.” The attendant fiddled with his cups nervously. “No, you were the woman that opera a few weeks back was about, weren’t you?”

“Why yes, I was as a matter of fact,” Leela said, softening remarkably fast. She smiled at the young man. He straightened up and smiled back.

“You’re a lucky woman, having someone write an entire opera for you. And the tragedy of it all too... some of my patrons were talking about it for weeks afterwards. Is it true he’s disappeared?”

Fry and Leela glanced at each other. “Something like that,” Leela said after a moment. She looked at Fry again and her eye seemed to mirror Fry’s own thoughts. The attendant cleared his throat and looked expectantly at the pair.

“So what’ll it be?”

“Two regular coffees, ooh, and a vanilla danish,” Leela added. Fry felt compelled to look under the counter at the delights. She shouldn’t... should she? “Oh go on, treat yourself,” Leela said playfully.

“Well, if you say so, better make it two,” Fry said, giving Leela a wan smile. Leela paid the attendant, accompanying it with another smile and they moved off to a far corner of the bar.

“Who knew a place like this could still exist,” Leela said as they sat down. Fry felt herself sinking into the deep cushions and tried to shuffle around so that she didn’t completely disappear. Leela gave a quiet laugh at her apparent discomfort. “The pain of having such a cute little butt,” she said with an evil smile.

“I’m not going to dignify that with a response,” Fry replied. She wiggled about again, found herself a comfortable spot and sat back just as the attendant brought out their coffee and danish.

“Back in a second,” he said, departing with the tray, only to return a moment later with a large steaming pot of coffee. “It’s not often we get anyone famous in here, no matter how fleeting it might have been, so... refills on the house. My treat.”

“Well thank you very much, uh...” Leela peered at the attendant’s name-badge. “Samuel Happy To Help.”

“Just Sam will do,” the man said with a grin. He neatened up their table a little and then retreated behind the counter again, where he picked up a book and began to read.

Fry picked up her coffee and sniffed at it. “Oh, that’s not bad.” She took a small sip and then peered at the Danish, hunger flashing through her belly, chased by a strange sort of shame. Leela was already attacking hers with gusto. “You know, right after I found out what had happened I promised myself I wouldn’t act like a stereotype.”

“Eating a few pastries isn’t a stereotype, Philippa,” Leela said. She brushed a crumb from her lip. “Some women are ice-cream munching sugar addicts, just like some men are beer-swilling idiots. It’s just the way things are.”

“I guess.” Fry ignored the possibly unconscious jibe. She fingered the pastry and then tasted it. “Doesn’t taste so bad,” she said, before taking another bite.

“You’re just paranoid because you’re still remembering how you used to look at women,” Leela said, before polishing off her pastry. She washed it down with some coffee and then daintily dabbed her lips with a napkin. “You’ve got to relax a little, be yourself.”

“Myself. I’m not too clear on what that is now,” Fry responded sadly. She looked up at Leela; that look was in her eye again and Fry wondered if she had it too. She felt it. A sort of distant loss that grew more remote every time she thought about it. Perhaps Leela was going the same way? Perhaps...

“You said it yourself, you are what you are. Just relax and let your heart do the thinking for a bit. Don’t let those memories dictate to you. They’re not the sum of your existence. Well they are the sum of your existence, but they’re not everything you can be.”

Fry nodded and looked down. Had she really finished off that entire pastry without noticing? Incredible. She looked over at Samuel. “Hey, excuse me, have you got any cookies in this place?”

Samuel smiled and nodded. “I have a large selection, miss. I’ll bring you out a few samples.”

“Samples,” Leela said, leaning close to Fry. “Philippa, you sly minx, getting us free biscuits!”

“Hey, if he gives them to us free it’ll be because of you, not me. You’re the famous one.”

“You wrote the opera,” Leela said. Fry cast her eyes down at the table and sighed, to which Leela replied by putting her hand on Fry’s. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right. I’d hoped the ending would...” Fry looked up at Leela again, right into her eye this time. “I’ve told you a thousand times how I felt. Now I’m finally in a position where we can really relate to you and I don’t feel it any more. At least, not in the same way.”

Leela’s smile faltered for a moment and she blinked hard a few times. Then the smile returned, a little broader. “We’ll always have danish,” she said brightly.

Fry returned the smile. “There’s more than that, Leela. For the first time in my life I can talk to you as an equal. I’m happy. I thought I’d lost my shot at it, but I got another in exchange, and if I have to spend a year like this then it’ll be the best year of my life.”

Fry slipped her hand out from under Leela’s and then placed it on top. Leela sniffled. “That’s the sweetest, saddest, most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Me too,” Samuel said, sliding a plate of cookies on to their table. He stood back a little. Both women stared at him. “What?”

“Can’t you see we’re having a moment here?” Leela said. She gave Samuel a stern look but he just stared right back at her, and then smiled again.

“On the house,” he said. He winked at Fry and then turned to walk away.

“What are you doing,” Fry said, nudging Leela’s arm. Hard. Leela grimaced and rubbed her biceps.

“Should it matter?”

“It matters enough if we want to keep coming to this place,” Fry whispered, though loud enough to get her emotions across. “Besides, he’s...”

Leela raised her eyebrow, and then her eye widened; a singular sight. She put her hand to her mouth and gasped. “Philippa, what are you saying?”

“He’s... cute,” Fry eventually managed. She blushed. Leela put her other hand to her mouth to stifle a laugh. “Oh come on, can’t a girl make an observation?”

“A girl can, for sure,” Leela said in between quiet chuckles. She managed to pause long enough to pour herself a fresh cup of coffee, over which she peered at Fry, who turned red again. “It’s healthy and completely normal to say it. He is cute,” Leela observed, glancing at the counter. “I wouldn’t argue with that for a moment. It’s just... you.”

“I’m embarrassed enough without you reminding me,” Fry said, stirring her coffee absently as she looked toward Samuel again. She suddenly realised what she was doing and decided to search through the cookies. Eventually, after retrieving something tasty, she risked another look at Leela. She was looking at the counter as well, a slightly dreamy look on her face, and Fry felt an odd stab of jealousy. Not for Leela though, which was odd. She looked at Samuel again. “Damn. My first real crush and I’m already competing? This is too far out.”

Leela looked at her. Then they both burst out laughing.

Time passed, punctuated by a few strange happenings that resulted from the changes wrought by the accident. A tweak in the earth’s magnetic field sent a dozen or so birds flying into a volcano. A few stray particles of air sent swirling from their correct course caused a hurricane to form on the Great Lakes three months later, in Andalusia the very surprised-looking face of Cliff Richards appeared on a thousand tortillas, and the orbit of Mars was changed such that in several centuries it would be almost half a degree warmer on average. A single misplaced worker caused an ant-colony on the coast of Peru to gain sentience and begin formulating the conquest of the colony next door, only to be wiped out a week later by a freak wave sixteen meters high and three wide, caused by a microscopic eddy current off the coast of Japan that had suddenly turned in the wrong direction. After that things generally died down; so much change was simply lost in the noise and so much more would never have any impact in less than a million years.

Planet Express started to pick up jobs again soon after, mostly long-distance courier work, which pleased Leela no end as it allowed her to indulge in a little racing in the deeps, and it pleased Fry because it got her out of the world now and then. In between drops they spent a lot of their time at Maxine’s, passing the afternoons in idle chatter with each other and the regular patrons, who seemed enamoured with them both to varying degrees. Fry spent a few days flirting with Samuel until it became clear that he only had eyes for Leela, and it seemed that Leela, free of any latent concern for Fry’s potential feelings toward her, was starting to fall for his blandishments too.

Fry spent that week in a jealous huff but eventually realised that she would have had a hard time of it if things had gone the other way; some aspects of her new sexuality remained uncomfortable to think about. Instead she busied herself with the day-to-day of her job and minimal social life, and she even consented to a few shopping trips with Amy for form’s sake, incidentally amassing a rather large collection of fancy clothes that Fry figured she’d probably never wear. But what the hell, Amy was paying for them.

The one problem she faced was Bender. Whilst everyone else had accepted the change, or at least grown used to it enough to not notice any more, Bender seemed to hold a very specific sort of grudge against it. Fry tried to find ways to restore their friendship without breaking Leela’s admonition to not ‘hurry him up’ but it seemed, as the weeks turned into months, that there was a barrier between them that had never existed before, and eventually she gave up. For his part, Bender at least maintained a sort of formal acknowledgement of her existence but nothing more. No more trips to the pits and bars, no more crazy schemes and late-night parties.

Fry knew she should feel bad about it but she just couldn’t muster the feelings. She was, as she explained to Leela and Amy on the last day of their latest jaunt, having too much fun.

“Well perhaps you could try getting your own place,” Leela said after a moment’s thought. The ship was drifting along in a high earth orbit while they waited for a landing slot, and the three of them were sat in the galley with their now obligatory cups of coffee, passing the time. “It’s not like you two really even see each other outside of work any more.”

“I really don’t know about that though,” Fry said. She screwed up her face as she thought. Decisions were so hard. “I mean, he’s my friend, I owe it to him to at least try.”

“It’s obvious he doesn’t want you as a friend any more,” Leela replied. She touched Fry’s arm and gave her a comforting smile. “Sometimes you just have to acknowledge these things and, as the men say, ‘move on’.”

Fry frowned into her coffee. “It was never like that. I’m sure it wasn’t.”

“You moved on pretty fast after we split up,” Amy said with what might have been a frown or just hard concentration. It was hard to tell sometimes. “And so did I, come to think of it.”

“Face it Phi, you two aren’t working.” The communications alarm bleeped. Leela made a face and stood up. “That’ll be our landing slot. At least think about it, okay?”

“Okay,” Fry said, staring at her hands on the table. She waited for Leela to leave before standing up herself. “I guess we’d better go with her.”

“Wait.” Amy put her hand on Fry’s and motioned her to sit down again. “Look, Fry, I know you’re upset about Bender but Leela’s right, you’re just not working together any more.”

“I can’t just move out though. He’s my friend! It wouldn’t be fair to him.”

“What about you, Phi? You should be thinking about yourself now and then. I do,” Amy said with a pout. “A lot.”

“Yes, but you’re-”

“Just like you, remember? Not that I’d be the first to listen to Leela when she’s in that sort mood but she’s right, Phi, we’re very similar. You just have a few more issues than me is all.”

“But it’s such a nice apartment...” She looked up. Amy gave her a sympathetic smile. “I... it would... look, he’s my friend. I can’t just decide to up and leave after nearly six years of living with him. I know that our interests aren’t so much the same any more-”

“Guh! Phi, they couldn’t be more different! He’s a guy, he does guy things that most women wouldn’t be seen dead doing, and now neither would you.”

“That’s not fair Amy. There are lots of women who like the things I used to... like... ah.” Fry twiddled her fingers and glanced around the galley as if it would somehow pass on the conversation to Bender. “I’ll talk to him tomorrow,” she said sadly.

Fry pushed back from the table and left the galley. She paused at the ladder and looked back at Amy. “He was the first person I met here who was nice to me. I think he even liked me. How would you feel if you had to leave someone like that?”

“Oh Phi...” Amy stepped over to Fry and put an arm around her shoulders. “Everyone likes me.”

The entered the bridge to find Leela swearing at a blank viewscreen. She thumped the control column and almost growled at Fry when she came near. “What do you want?”

Fry put her hands up and backed away. “Uh... just... visiting?” She looked out of the windows at earth; their orbit seemed to have changed but it wasn’t any lower. “I take it we’re not going home yet.”

“Hell no, that fat, arrogant son of a...” Leela closed her eye and sighed. “We’re being held in place until the Nimbus and her escort have made some sort of victory pass over New New York and Washington. They said it’ll only take a few minutes, though I expect Zapp will managed to screw it up anyway, but the time it takes to get everyone organised afterwards means we’re stuck up here for another half hour.”

“That big ship flying over New New York? I wish I could see that...” Fry said, a wistful expression fleeting across her face. She walked over to the windows and peered out into space, where she could see they were just passing over the Arabian Steppe, glowing pale grey-green in early morning light. She turned and looked at Leela. “I’m going to have a talk with Bender soon, but I need to find a place to stay before I do.”

Leela smiled a broad smile. “There might be an apartment in my building you could-”

“Oh, no. No offence, Leela, but I need something a little more... airy.” Fry sighed and rubbed her eyes, wondering where all her emotion had gone. It felt wrong talking about this so calmly. “And I need a little time first.”

“Weell... okay, it’s not something to rush in to,” Leela replied. She glanced at the chronometer and then at the view screen again. “I could-”

Leela’s sentence was interrupted by the viewscreen as it suddenly burst into life. The oversized visage of Zapp Brannigan appeared out of the fizzling static and contrived by some strange miracle to appear even more smug and unbearable than usual.


“Leela,” Zapp noddeed. He backed away from the camera and stuck a pose by his command chair. “Right now I am passing over the White House at this ship’s maximum allowed speed in an atmosphere. It is a very tense and difficult manoeuvre that requires a great deal of concentration by all involved in its operation. You may then wonder why I’m calling you at this particular moment.”

Leela glared at the screen. “Maybe your crew have managed to contrive a situation where you can’t screw up, and so you’re bored?”

“Ahhh, Leela, the games we play...” Zapp glanced around his command deck with a shifty eye before going on. “I am due to be honoured at a diplomatic function that will be the culmination of my latest grand strategy to protect the earth, yadda yadda and so on, and I will need a certain sexy female to accompany me.”

“Forget it Zapp, we’ve been there already.”

“You’ve been to Eridani?” Zapp looked puzzled until Kif whispered something in his ear. “Ahh, the wit of the woman. So we are at a stalemate, you and I. No matter, I shall have Kif here assign me some other beautiful female for the evening.”

On the edge of the screen Kif’s shoulder’s slumped and he sighed. Leela rolled her eye. “So, I guess this is goodbye then. Not a moment too soon either.”

Zapp straightened up and looked suitably anguished. “Leela, wait.” He walked toward the monitor again. “I have one more suggestion before you leave.”

Leela sighed and folded her arms. “Go on. And this better be good.”

“I have discretion to invite a certain number of guests to the par-” he paused and smiled. “Conference, I should say. I want to invite you and some of your more photogenic friends. It would be beneficial for all involved.”

Leela frowned and was about to tell Zapp to take a hike when Amy touched her shoulder. “Leela, can we go? Please? I’ve not been to a decent party for nearly a month.”

“Oh I don’t know...” she turned from the screen and killed the audio. “Amy, this is Zapp we’re talking about. He’ll do something stupid and then try to get me into bed.”

“Again,” Amy added, leaping back in case Leela lashed out at her. Leela growled at Amy, who stuck out her tongue. “Come on Leela, it’ll be fun!”

“Yeah,” Fry added, stepping forward to support Amy. “At the very least it would give us something to do for a few days, and I bet the Professor would love rubbing shoulders with all those rich and powerful people. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?”

“Oh I know exactly what.” Leela looked a the screen; Zapp was conversing with one of his crew about something. Probably ordering himself a new velour shower cap, Leela thought bitterly. “Well... against my better judgement, perhaps.”

Amy cheered. Leela turned back to the viewscreen and activated the sound again. “Okay Zapp, we’re coming, but I reserve the right to bring a date who isn’t you.”

Zapp’s face fell, but he rallied magnificently. “I accept the challenge of besting your... ‘date’. I shall see you in one week on Eridani Prime, and then the contest shall begin anew.”

The screen blanked out before Leela could get a retort in. She scowled at the screen, then turned on Amy. “You got me into this. If anything goes wrong...”

“Nothing will go wrong, Leela,” Amy said with an evil smile. “We have Philippa to run interference for you now.”

“What?” Fry put her hands up protectively and backed away. “Oh no, no way, I am not going anywhere near him, not in a million years.”

Leela looked over at Fry with a thoughtful look. “He doesn’t know what happened to you...”

“You could play a cousin or a long-lost sister,” Amy said with a cheerful, almost vacant grin on her face. She pinched Fry’s cheek. “Come on, it’ll be fun. You can just talk man-talk or something.”

Fry batted Amy’s hand away, frowned and shook her head. “No way.”

“We’ll talk about this later,” Leela said, fiddling with the ship’s controls. She powered up the engines and started altering their orbit. “At least all that talking passed the time. I don’t think I could have stood being up here another minute.”

Fry sat down at the communications console and stared out of the window, her mind racing. Buying dresses had been one thing, but she’d never actually expected to wear them. The planet tilted as Leela manoeuvred the ship for re-entry, giving Fry a brief glimpse of passing continents and distance orbiting craft jostling for space in the relatively crowded shipping lanes above Earth. Suddenly the Nimbus appeared in the distance, rising up from the atmosphere over the Atlantic like a giant grinning shark. She was easy enough to stop; the bevy of support craft following in her wake left a glittering trail through the tenuous air, pointing almost directly toward them. “Leela?”

“Yuh-huh? I’m a bit busy right now Phi,” Leela said, her eye concentrated on a guidance screen.

“I think we need to go a different direction,” she said, warily eyeing the DOOP ship, which was coming awfully close now. The fear in her voice must have got to Amy, who followed Fry’s gaze and gasped.

“Bun tyen-shung duh ee-dway-ro!” Leela turned at glared at Amy, who put her hands over her mouth and tried to smile apologetically at the same time. “Sorry...”

“Damn that idiot,” Leela said as she realised what was happening. She overrode the landing computer and turned the ship ssharply to port. The computers blared course warnings at her as they moved to avoid the Nimbus, and then started to warble a constant re-entry warning. “This is going to be very interesting...”

Amy grabbed hold of her seat. “Define interesting.”

The Planet Express ship bucked and started to tumble as the Nimbus roared past, setting off a flurry of fresh alarms as the sudden shift in attitude was miss-matched by the gravity generator. Amy swore again as she was tossed across the cabin. Fry managed to hold on to her seat, but felt bile rising in her throat as the gravity within the ship shifted and twisted, sending her into momentary free-fall.

The moment passed. Leela managed to right the ship, though they were several miles off their course already. She grumbled and set about returning them to the correct heading. Fry pulled herself from her seat and went over to Amy, who lay groaning on the deck near the rear bulkhead. “Amy? Are you all right?”

“Oh... never better,” she replied faintly, before pushing herself up. Amy hissed in pain when she moved. “Ai yah, I think I broke something!”

“Might be a fingernail,” Fry said, putting an arm under Amy’s back. She lifted the young woman to a sitting position. “Come on, you probably just pulled a muscle or something. It’ll help if you walk it off.”

Amy grimaced as she was pulled upright. She staggered over to the communications console chair with Fry’s help and sat heavily down.

“I won’t ask what you called Zapp, much as I’d like to join in,” Leela said, making a few adjustments to their course. Earth filled the windows now as they descended across the Atlantic. She turned from the console and looked at Amy. “How-”

The comms console beeped. Amy peered at it. “Huh. Nimbus calling.”

“Unless it’s an abject apology I don’t want to know.” Leela turned back to her console, her eye concentrated on the readouts and she tried to right their course again. Amy shrugged and activated the comms.

“Amy? Are you there?”

“Kif!” Amy sat up in her seat, then hissed again and grabbed her side. She muttered something under her breath and then spoke up. “Kif, what the hell was that?”

“Oh Amy, my love, I’m so sorry. Did you get hurt? I’ll-”

Amy grimaced at Kif’s emotional display. “Kif, please, I’m fine.” She rolled her eyes at Fry before going on. “What was going on over there?”

“Amy, it was horrible. Zapp kept demanding we make a pass at Leela. I think he’s gone completely mad.” There was a pause. “Again.”

“And you want me to go distract that guy?” Fry shook her head. “No way. I’m not-”

“Quiet!” Amy turned back to the console. “Kiffy, why aren’t you on visual, I haven’t seen you for months!”

“I’m sorry Amy, most of our visual comms are still out of action after that plasma bolt hit us and we’ve not laid into drydock to get them repaired yet. The Captain had us spend all our time jerry-rigging a working visual on the bridge so he could pose for diplomats.”

Leela glanced over her shoulder. “Plasma bolt?” She looked at Amy and Fry. “Like the ones we saw over fifth avenue that time?”

“I, uh, if, if you say so,” Kif replied cautiously. “It hit the main engines and sent a shockwave through the ship’s gravity system, so that Zapp ended up stabbing the lead Ruklisk negotiator. Don’t believe him when he says it was bravery and skill that won the negotiations. It was a complete accident, but he’s been unbearable ever since.”

“Aww, poor kiffy...” Leela coughed loudly. Amy turned and glared at her. “Come on, you’ve been in love before haven’t you?”

Leela looked over her shoulder at Amy. “Not like that,” she retorted.