Fan Fiction

A Different View, part 8
By Graham Dawson

Chapter Eight - Normality

Fry’s eyes snapped open. A dark room. A hospital room. Dawn light glimmered through a gap in the cheap curtains that hung over the window. Machines bipped and warbled in the background. Fry groaned and flopped back on the pillow. Had it worked?

The questioning of the event, a voice said in Fry’s mind, would not exist had you succeeded in the plan you carried. One thing has changed, though; you were not the only one with a desire for another’s welfare. Consider it a final parting gift.

Fry groaned and sat up as memory of the voice faded. She held her head in her hands, nursing the pounding ache behind her eyes and groaned again. “Great. I still have boobs.”

“And very nice they are too.” Fry looked up in shock at the voice. Bender was sitting on the far side of the room, smoking a cigar. It was herbal. It still stank.


“In the flesh, baby,” Bender said, thumping his chestplate. “Or not.” He blew a smoke-ring, then stubbed out the cigar on his head and swallowed it. “You look like crap.”

“I feel like crap. How did...” Fry stopped and looked Bender up and down. He sported a few shiny patches where some of his parts had been replaced. “Nice to see you walking about again.”

“Yeah. That Sam guy is pretty handy with a soldering iron. I feel a hundred and ten percent.” Bender hurcked up the cigar again and held it out to examine it. There was a microchip embedded in the side. “Aww, I don’t know where these things keep coming from but they’d better not be important.”

Fry giggled. She looked around the room but, apart from Bender, it was deserted. Her joy faded away. “Where’s Leela? I thought she’d be here.”

“Yeah. Well... honestly, I think she went out to pee,” Bender said, examining his cigar again. He held up a lighter to it and then seemed to think better of the idea. “She’s been taking turns with that boyfriend of hers to watch over you.”


“Yeah. They haven’t been serious about it though. Every time I come in here they seem to get all angry and run off to a closet down then corridor. At least I think they get angry. Leela’s face turns really red.”

“Oh.” Fry pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her chin on them. There wasn’t much else to say. Bender rocked his eyes about a little and returned to his spot by the window. He opened the curtains, and then the window itself, and leaned out to smoke his cigar. Fry blinked and smiled at the robot. It wasn’t like him to be so considerate.

She turned on the TV and watched the news for a minute. It didn’t make particularly pleasant viewing, with stories of a brewing war between the Democratic Order and the Ruklisk, and snatched tales of invading fleets appearing as if by magic in the middle of DOOP space. Fry grimaced and switched it off.

The door opened. “All right Bender,” Leela said as she came in. “You can go home and- oh. you’re awake.” Fry nodded. Leela walked around the end of the bed and stood leaning on the guard rail. She stared at Fry, her face an image of studious neutrality.

Bender turned from his window and took in the scene. “Ahh. You going to get angry again?”

“Ang... no,” Leela said, frowning. Bender managed a fairly good approximation of a shrug and light-stepped from the room, humming to himself. The smell of cigars and alcohol faded after him. Leela turned around, leaning back in the guard as she looked out of the window. “So. You’re awake.”

“Yep.” Fry lowered her knees and leaned back in the bed a little, making herself comfortable. When Leela didn’t speak again she crawled out from under the covers and knelt at the guard-rail beside her. “You’re not saying much.”

“That’s because there’s not much to say,” Leela replied. She folded her arms. Fry raised her eyebrows and then frowned.

“Wow. I remember getting the silent treatment before but it never felt bad until now.”

“Hah.” Leela stood up and walked over to the window, where she looked out over the small portion of the city she could see. Fry shrugged and clambered from the bed, reasoning she should at least put on some underwear now.

“Did anyone bring my pyjamas?”

“Second drawer down,” Leela said, turning around. She stared at Fry again, mouth working as she tried to form what she wanted to say. “Fry, how could you do this?”

Fry paused half way through pulling clothes from the drawer. “Do what?”

“This. Choose to be...” Leela sighed and sat down on the bed next to Fry. She put her hands between her knees and stared at them. “You know, if you’d done what you promised to do we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”

Fry pulled on her pyjama pants and sat down next to Leela. “It worked out all right didn’t it?”

“That’s not the point,” Leela replied, screwing up her face. She looked at Fry. “You based your decision on your feelings toward me. As far as you knew changing everything back was the better choice, but you didn’t choose it.”

“Leela, I didn’t have a choice.”

“You mean you didn’t let yourself-”

“No.” Fry stood up and walked across to the window. She leaned on the window-frame and started out at the city. “I don’t really remember much of what happened. I know that I tried to change things, but it didn’t work. I couldn’t...” she turned around to look at Leela. “It wasn’t a choice I could make. No matter how much I understood what had to be done up here,” she said, tapping her head, “I just couldn’t change how I felt in here.”

Fry put her hand on her heart. Leela rocked her head to one side and peered at Fry, her cheeks colouring up slightly. She stood up. “I told you...”

“I know, Leela, and I’m sorry.” Fry leaned back on the window and tucked her hands under her armpits. She closed her eyes. “All I can do is apologise. I’ve been apologising for how I felt for you ever since we met, why should now be any different?”

“That doesn’t matter now, Fry,” Leela said. She stood up and walked toward the door, then paused with her hand on the handle. “You could have got us all killed.”

“Like I said, it worked out all right.”

Leela suddenly punched the door, caving in the cheap wooden veneer. “Damnit...” she turned and glared at Fry. “It could just have easily screwed up completely, Fry! Don’t you get it? You can’t make decisions like this based on your feelings!”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s not safe! It’s dangerous!”

“Oh like you’re all so cold and logical all the time,” Fry said, letting her arms drop again. She could feel her hands balling into fists and forced them to straighten out again. Leela massaged her knuckles, still glaring at Fry, but didn’t say anything else so Fry carried on. “You just can’t accept that I might actually be right about something.”

“Now that’s not fair.”

“Oh, as if any of this is fair,” Fry said, downcast. She looked up at Leela again. “Everything works out for the best but you don’t want to see it that way. You’re the one who made the mistake. You’re the one taking your anger out on me for being right. How is that fair?”

Leela scowled at Fry. “You...” she sighed and turned away. “I don’t feel like arguing with you right now, Fry.”

“No. If course you don’t,” Fry said quietly. She turned and looked out of the window, watched the traffic skim by far below and above.. “I guess I’ll be out of here in a few days. Maybe I’ll see you at work.”

“Maybe.” Fry waited until the door had closed before she looked back into the room. She fought the urge to run out into the corridor after Leela and concentrated on finding the rest of her pyjamas.

Dearest Diary,

It’s me again. Who else would it be? Samuel, perhaps, who seems to have taken a great interest in reading everything I’ve written to you about him. I have a lot to say today, but I don’t know how to say it, which is something that may surprise you. It surprised me.

First, the good news. Samuel proposed to two nights ago, after a wonderful dinner that he cooked for me himself. I’ll get back to that in a moment though, because I want to go over the bad news too.

I have had an argument with Philippa. A big one. I think I just blew away any chance we have of fixing up our friendship after the last argument. I just hope she’s able to see past the mistake I made. That’s right, I made a mistake, and she called me on it. It hurts to hear someone point out when you’re wrong and at the time I was so angry with her for making what I thought was a bad decision, without really thinking about why it was bad in the first place. The only reasons I had to think that way are moot now. She said it best; things worked out all right.

But I was still angry. I’m starting to realise part of the anger was at myself, for reasons that I can’t even tell you right now, dear diary, because they hurt so much, and because I knew she was right. I don’t like being wrong.

And yet, in the end, I’m glad I was, because this way I at least have Samuel. Dearest Sam, he’s so sweet. He reminds me of Fry back when she was a he.

Philippa once told me that she doesn’t worry about the future because it would send her crazy, and that she only ever thinks about now. Samuel said the same thing as well once. That night I finally realised what that meant. I said yes.

Normality. It was a strange concept, the idea that this was normal, real, not some strange dream. Philippa watched the traffic far below snake its way past the Robot Arms, her hands against the thick glass of the window, then up at the sky, at the waning moon still visible against the pale blue morning. It seemed to be a suitable metaphor for her own final transition. She turned away and looked back into what could now reasonably be called a living room. It had a carpet.

Bender was in her bedroom, painting. He was whistling. He had even picked wallpaper. Philippa tried to work out just when the robot had changed but she couldn’t put her finger on the precise moment. Even the herbal cigars, supposedly better smelling, had all but disappeared.

The robot stopped and looked at her. Philippa smiled at her friend. “That looks very nice, Bender.”

“Great. Hey, whatever the ladies want, huh?” Bender carried on whistling as he picked up a spry gun, then started to sing a little. “Paintin the walls, pretty things gettin made... doo doo doo doo gonna get laid...”

Philippa laughed for the first time in days. Some things would never change. She stacked up all her old clothes and piled them into a bag. There was surprisingly little. “Bender? I’ll see you at work, okay?”

“Sure thing. Hey, there’s a new version of the Ninplaybox out. If you go past that store again flash the guy a little ass for one, will you?.”

“Very funny,” Philippa said. She put on her coat – the only thing she was keeping from back then – and slipped out of the door.

She decided to walk to work. The weather was nice, the air was fresh, and frankly she couldn’t afford the cab ride after all the money she’d spent on changing their apartment. Bender tolerated it. She knew he wouldn’t be happy about some of the changes, but he tolerated it. That was the one difference about him.

Philippa found herself in a park a few blocks from the Planet Express building. She’d been here before a few times, back when walking alone had been a therapy and not just something to do for a few hours. There were other people here now, taking in the view, enjoying the fresh air. An attitude of wonder and relief had come over New New York after the attempted invasion, though it had never got anywhere near the ground. Sometimes people just needed reminding of the moment.

She looked up at the sky. Somewhere up there the fleets were still patrolling, hunting down the remaining Ruklisk and their slaved minions. A sizeable portion of the Democratic Order had been subverted by the time the tide turned. Nobody knew if they would ever be turned back. Philippa didn’t particularly want to think about it. She looked down again, casting her gaze around the park. That was when she saw Leela.

She was sitting under a tree, reading a book with her little pet thing Nibbler by her side. The creature looked up and gibbered when Philippa approached. For a moment it seemed to give her a strange, almost angry look that Philippa decided had to be her imagination. “Hi Leela.”

“Oh. Hi.” Leela carefully folded up her book – she’d been writing, not reading. It was a diary. She didn’t look up at Philippa. “How are you?”

“Still female,” Philippa said, pouting a little. Leela smiled in spite of herself. “Bender’s painting.”

“I heard about that.” Leela sighed and looked up at the sky. She seemed to be thinking about something. “I guess you got the invitation?”

“I did. I’m surprised. Getting married after a week of dating. That’s not like you, Leela.”

“I felt like being impulsive,” Leela said. She picked at the grass and let it float away in the wind. “I’ve had two people tell me that the moment is what matters. Perhaps I should listen to them more...”

Philippa turned and sat down next to Leela. She stroked Nibbler’s belly; the little creature kicked his leg and purred. “I’m surprised you sent me an invitation”

“It was Sam’s idea,” Leela replied. She picked up her diary and started to stand up.

“Leela, wait.” Philippa stood up, facing Leela. The other woman refused to look at her. “I’m sorry, okay? I said things... I was confused. We were stressed, I was terrified of losing you again.”

Leela peered at her. She fingered her diary, tapping out a tuneless tattoo on the leatherette binding, then suddenly grimaced. “Tell me it was jealousy or something,” she said. “Or that you were trying to get Sam into bed, or drunk... anything. Tell me you didn’t mean what you said.”

Philippa shook her head. “It’d be a lie, Leela. I can’t lie to you.”

She reached out to touch Leela’s arm. There was no flinch. Leela licked her lips very slightly and looked at the floor. “Honesty is a rare commodity these days,” she said. There was a moment of silence, then she looked up at Philippa again. “You really meant it?”

Philippa nodded. She took hold of Leela’s free hand and held on to it with both her own. “I still do, and it that makes you uncomfortable, well, I can just go away. I’ll join the navy, or move to another planet.”

“No...” Leela’s eye was full of longing, but Philippa could see it she’d never admit to anything. She nodded slowly and let go of Leela’s hand, before turning away. “Phi, hold on a second.”

Philippa paused. Leela’s hand rested on her shoulder and gently pulled her back around. They stared at each other for a long time, just letting the world pass by, not caring. It was as close as she’d ever get.

“You want to maybe get some coffee later?”

“I’d love to.”

“Me too,” Sam said, stepping out from behind the tree. He smiled and took Leela’s hand. “I know this nice place down the road. The owner’s an idiot but-”

Leela slapped Samuel’s shoulder. “Quiet you. We were having a moment.”

“I know,” Samuel said. He looked back at the tree. “Actually I was waiting to see if it would turn into more than a moment, but then I realised we have to get down-town to pick out the rings.” He smiled at Philippa. “Would you like to join us?”

“Sure, if Leela doesn’t mind,” she said quietly, looking at Leela’s eye. Leela nodded and then smiled.

“Why not?” She hooked her arms for them both and and grinned as they reciprocated. “Now this is more like it,” she said as they walked out of the park and on to the streets of the city.

“Hey, what about Zapp?”

“What about him? He was... oh, shit. I’d better call Amy.”

“At least he’ll be able to tell us what velour tastes like.”