Futurama

Fan Fiction

A Second Chance
By Anarchist

GENERAL INFO AND LEGAL CRAP:

Writing short stories is sort of my hobby, but this is my first Futurama fanfic (or any kind of fanfic, for that matter). Any feedback you may have would be greatly appreciated. You can e-mail me at anarchist.nyc@verizon.net, or you can find me over at PEEL. Let me know how much this sucks.

As for the legal crap: I am in no way affiliated with FOX (which is something I am very thankful for) or any other company, group or individual that has anything to do with Futurama, other than its fanbase. I respect the copyrights of Futurama's owners and claim no ownership whatsoever over the show or any of its aspects. I acknowledge that none of the characters used in this work are mine, and claim no rights over them. I use "Futurama" and its characters in this work under the Fair Use portion of Copyright laws - this is FAN-FICTION. I am a broke student, so suing me would be pointless.

You may distribute this work freely, as long as you distribute it in its entirety. If you would like to post this on your site or anything like that, go right ahead; just don't cut anything out.

(There, did that sound official enough? I do love mindless legal garbage...)

Anyway, enough of my pointless rambling, and I hope you will enjoy reading this slightly more than you would enjoy reading the End User License Agreement of Microsoft Windows.


Opening credits. Caption: "It's not an addiction; it's a new way of life."

SCENE: Planet Express ship flying through an asteroid field.

Leela was nervously flying the ship, trying to dodge both the asteroids in space and the chunks of broken glass flying on the ship's bridge. Fry and Bender were fighting with broken beer bottles in what seemed to be a drinking contest gone awry. A large piece of glass suddenly flew in Leela's direction, and she barely had the time to dodge to the side, the glass narrowly missing her neck. She turned her attention back to her piloting, just in time to gasp in horror as a large asteroid hit the ship head-on and nearly broke the blastshield. Fry and Bender got thrown to the floor violently.

"Hey, watch it, Leela!" Fry angrily exclaimed. "Be careful, will you?"

"Yeah!" Bender added. "How am I supposed to kill anyone around here with you constantly knocking us into things?"

Leela ignored the comments. She tried to shake off the shock and concentrate on maneuvering the ship. In the meantime, Bender picked up another broken bottle and started chasing Fry with it. Fry ran all around the bridge, frequently knocking into things and damaging several consoles. Bits of glass and various other objects once again started flying, occasionally hitting Leela.

Leela gritted her teeth and did her best to ignore Bender and Fry. With anger and determination, she kept her eye locked on the view ahead of her and maneuvered to the best of her ability. Small rocks were bombarding the ship constantly, and Leela's heart rate quickened as she watched the damage accumulate.

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship flying through empty space, a couple of hours later.

The horribly beat up Planet Express ship has escaped the asteroid field in more or less one piece and now quietly cruised toward Earth. A heavily bruised Leela sat motionless in the captain's chair, staring blankly into space. Fry lay unconscious in a pool of blood mixed with alcohol, and Bender's parts were scattered all over the bridge, one of his arms digging through Fry's jacket.

Leela slowly started showing signs of life. She gathered her bearings and turned around to survey the damage and check the condition of her crew members. It took her a second to realize that Fry may be dead, and she quickly ran over to him. She checked his pulse, and with a sigh of relief, slapped him a few times to wake him up.

Fry slowly opened his eyes. "Wh... Leela? What happened? Is everything all right?"

"Oh, sure," Leela replied sarcastically. "Other than the fact that you and that scrap heap destroyed half the ship and constantly distracted me from maneuvering through an asteroid field with those broken bottles you were throwing at each other - several of which nearly took my head off, thank you very much - everything's fine."

Fry got a better look at Leela and noticed her injuries. "Oh my God, are you all right? I'm really sorry, Leela, I didn't mean to almost kill you!"

"Then why don't you finish the job?" Bender's head chimed in.

"I'm sure you didn't," Leela replied, "but the fact that you weren't actually trying to kill me doesn't decrease the damage you've caused."

"I'm sorry, Leela, I really am!" Fry exclaimed. "How can I make it up to you? Is there anything I can do to make you feel better, or help you... relax?" He winked at her.

"Ugh!" Leela groaned. "You got drunk on duty, you insulted me, you threw broken glass at me, you've caused immeasurable damage to the ship, and you've placed all our lives in danger! Even you should be able to figure out that now is not a good time to hit on me! The best thing you can do for me right now is collect Bender's parts into one pile and sit quietly until we get back to Earth."

Fry sighed. "Yes, Captain."

"Hey Fry, think fast!" Bender's head exclaimed, as one of his arms threw a broken bottle at him. It nearly hit him in the groin.

"You bastard!" Fry shouted. He picked up a large piece of metal that was lying nearby and threw it at Bender's head. Unfortunately, his hand slipped, and the object hit Leela on the side of the head with full force.

 

SCENE: Planet Express meeting room. The Planet Express staff is at the meeting table.

"This is the last straw, Fry!" Professor Farnsworth exclaimed. "You've destroyed my ship and you've killed Leela! Now I have to repair the ship and modify my Godatron 3000 to bring Leela back from the dead, and I can't do both!" He sighed and shook his head. "That poor, poor repulsive genetic abomination. I guess I'll just have to hire a new captain..."

"But I'm not dead, Professor!" Leela protested, "I'm sitting right in front of you!"

"Yeah!" Bender added. "If anyone kills any of these flesh piles here, it will be me! And besides, I was involved too! Why does Fry get all the credit?"

"Wha?" the Professor replied. "You're not Leela; Leela was a hideous sewer mutant!"

"She's not hideous, she's beautiful!" Fry exclaimed.

"Exactly!" the Professor stated, "She's not Leela!"

"Yes I am!" Leela argued. "Look, one eye! Count it - one!"

"Don't lecture me in mathematics," the Professor retorted, "I'm a Professor! I think I can tell the difference between a mutant and a perfectly normal woman with purple hair and one eye! Oh well, you can have her job if you want. Saves me the trouble of looking for a new captain. With a reputation like ours, it's hard to find willing candidates! Now, what's your name?"

Leela sighed. "Leela!"

"What a strange coincidence!" the Professor said, "That was the last captain's name too! Oh well, welcome aboard, Leela!"

"One more thing," Hermes added just as the Professor was about to end the meeting. "Fry and Bender, you're fired for wrecking the ship almost getting all three of you killed."

"This is an outrage!" Bender exclaimed. "You can't fire me for *almost* doing something! Do you praise me when I almost do actual work? No! This is clearly discrimination against robots!"

"I guess I deserve this," Fry said with a sad sigh, as he got up and turned to leave. "Goodbye, everyone. Captain Leela, it's been... an honor serving under you."

Leela looked at Fry for a few seconds and sighed. "Aww, come on, don't fire them! Give them another chance, please. As captain, I'll take full responsibility for whatever damage they cause if they mess up." She bit her lip after realizing what she had just said.

Hermes hesitated for a few seconds. "Well... all right. You two misfits can have your jobs back, but I'm placing you on probation. One complaint from your captain and you're fired."

The meeting soon came to an end, and everyone was getting ready to go home. Fry approached Leela as she was just about to leave.

"Thanks," he quietly said. "I really mean that - thanks. I'm really sorry about everything that happened today."

"So am I," Leela replied, rubbing her head. "Hey, could you do me a favor? The next time you feel like being a reckless idiot and involving me in it, could you finish me off?"

"I'll be more careful," Fry said with shame in his voice. "You know I'd never intentionally hurt you."

Leela did not reward him with a smile. "That's sweet, Fry," she says in a cold tone, "but it's not enough. I should have let Hermes fire you for being a reckless, incompetent moron, but I'm just not that cold-hearted. Just don't make me regret it, ok? Try not to make me look too bad for sticking up for you. Oh, and before you say your next line, do yourself a favor - don't bother asking me out."

It took her a moment to realize how hurtful that sounded. 'Oh, nice one, Leela,' she thought to herself. 'Why don't you just spit him in the face while you're at it?'

"Hey," she said in a soft voice, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."

Fry didn't hear her; he had already walked away.

 

SCENE: Bender and Fry's apartment, around midnight that night.

Fry sat on his bed, looking through a pile of his poems about and pictures of Leela. He picked up one of the best pictures of her he'd ever drawn and sighed heavily, studying it thoroughly. He turned to the open window and looked up at the sky, holding the picture in his hand tightly.

"It's like reaching out to touch a star," he whispered, a tear forming in the corner of his eye. "You know you'll never be able to touch it, but you've just got to keep trying; you have to keep hope alive and dream that someday you'll make it. But then when you get into a spaceship and actually fly over to it, the unbearable heat vaporizes you in a nanosecond." He crumpled the picture in his fist and threw it out the window, as a tear ran down his cheek. "And I'm tired of getting burned."

He sat there in silence, staring out the open window, feeling a cool breeze caress his cheeks. Images of him and Leela rushed through his brain - the way she always shot down his advances, the way she chastised him every time he messed up, the way she diminished any possibility of a real romantic relationship between them in spite of all his efforts... Were the few precious moments of intimacy they've shared worth it all? No, a voice in the back of Fry's head kept repeating. No longer. Enough is enough.

 

SCENE: Planet Express building, the next morning.

Fry walked in with somewhat messed up dark circles around his eyes.

"What happened to you, Fry?" Amy asked. "You look terrible!"

"Didn't get much sleep last night," Fry replied.

"Why?" Amy asked. "Anything wrong?"

Fry glanced over at Leela. "No, nothing," he bitterly replied. "Just couldn't sleep, I guess."

Professor Farnsworth walked in. "Good news, everyone! You'll be making a delivery to Menace 10, a planet that is covered with deadly rainforests and populated by beings of inconceivable horror who hate everyone and want to destroy the Universe!"

"But professor, that's a suicide mission!" Leela protested.

"That's preposterous, Leela, it's completely safe!" the Professor replied.

"But you just said..." Leela tried to argue.

"Off you go now!" the Professor cut her off as he was leaving the room.

"It's just as well," Fry muttered. "A suicide mission may be just what I need."

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship, soon after take-off.

Leela put the ship on autopilot and walked over to Fry. "Fry, you've been avoiding me all morning," she said. "If this is about last night, I'm sorry, I know that what I said hurt you. I was upset, and I said some things I didn't necessarily mean. Now, could we be friends again, or at least behave in a professional manner?"

"Yes, Captain," Fry replied.

Leela sat down next to him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Fry," she says softly "I really am sorry about what I said to you. I didn't mean it like that."

"Then how did you mean it?" Fry asked mockingly.

Leela got up with a sigh. "We'll talk later, when you've cooled down a bit," she said.

"Whatever you say, Captain," Fry replied. "I'm going to go get some sleep, if that's ok with you." He got up and left the bridge.

Leela turned to Bender. "What's gotten into him? He's never been like this. I've upset him before, but his reaction was never this severe."

"I don't know," Bender replied. "He did have a thing for you for a long time, though. He kept telling me about how wonderful you are and crap. Lately, though, he started talking more and more about how hopeless it is and how he can't take much more of it. I don't know why he's making such a big deal over you, but I never understood you fleshpiles anyway."

"But he always gets over it, right?" Leela asked nervously. "I'm sure that in a few hours he'll be back to his old self."

"I doubt it," Bender replied casually. "Looks more to me like he just kept it inside him and let it build up." Bender sighed. "You have *no* idea how much crap about you I had to listen to him go on about. Ah well, at least he's almost over you now, so maybe he'll finally shut up about it. And hey, I'm sure you'll find another guy who honestly cares about you and is willing to take as much crap from you as Fry did! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" He walked away, laughing.

'Wow,' Leela thought, 'I never realized that it was this serious. I guess everyone has a limit; even the people who never frown eventually break down. I hope he'll be all right. I'd better go talk to him.'

Leela walked to Fry's quarters and knocked on the door.

"It's open!" Fry shouted.

Leela cautiously walked in and found Fry lying on his bed with his eyes open. She walked over to it and sat down next to him. "I thought you were going to get some sleep," she said quietly.

"I lied," Fry angrily retorted.

Leela sighed. "Fry, are you really that mad at me? Look, I didn't mean to hurt you. I really am sorry for..."

"I heard you the first two times," Fry cut her off. "You said it yourself - that's not enough."

That remark stung Leela. Those *were* her words. "That's not what I meant," Leela carefully replied, after a long pause. "I'm sorry for how I've been treating you ever since we've met; for forgetting far too often that you're human too. You're a good friend, Fry, and I don't want to lose that."

Fry made eye contact with Leela, a tortured look in his eyes. 'Why do you have to do this to me, Leela? One moment you're the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful person I know, and the next you are making a remark about how stupid, incompetent and worthless I am. Why can't you just be one or the other?'

"If you don't have any orders for me, I'd really prefer to be left alone right now, Captain," he said.

Leela looked him in the eyes for a second and, without uttering a word, let him know how hurt she was by that statement. She then got up and left.

Fry sighed. 'Why did I do that?' he thought to himself. 'She didn't deserve that at all. She offered me a sincere apology, in spite of the fact that I *did* nearly kill her several times yesterday! Why do I have to do this?' He closes his eyes. 'No, I'm doing what has to be done. If she wants us to be close, she shouldn't have pushed me away at every opportunity. I'm tired of these mind games.'

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship, several hours later.

Everyone was suddenly awoken by a loud bump. Soon, a few more followed. Leela immediately rubbed the sleep from her eye and rushed to the bridge to check if they've entered another asteroid field. To her dismay, she saw three pirate ships on the screen.

"Fry, Bender, battle stations, now!" she hastily yelled through the intercom.

A minute later, an annoyed Bender and an alarmed Fry rushed in and quickly took their posts. Meanwhile, Leela was trying to dodge the shots from the pirate ships.

"It's time to kill with extreme prejudice!" Fry yelled in an almost maniacal tone, as he fired randomly. "Die, die, DIE!!!"

"Quit wasting ammo, Fry!" Leela shouted. "There are only three of them; aim before you shoot!"

"Shut up!" Fry snapped back. "Fly the damn ship and be thankful that you're on this side of the gun!" He aimed roughly and decimated one of the pirate ships.

"Whoa, there!" Bender exclaimed. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you wanted to kill all humans more than I do! But, since I do know you, I'm pretty sure that it's just her. Could you wait until we get back, though? We still need her to fly the ship."

"I guarantee nothing," Fry replied, as another pirate ship exploded.

"Fry," Leela said nervously, "I know that you're only talking like this because you're in the heat of the action, but try to remember that the enemy is *out there*, would you?"

Fry grumbled something under his breath as he sighted the third ship. "Die, you bastards, DIE!" he yelled, as he sent the last of the enemies to pirate heaven.

"Woo! We did it!" Leela exclaimed. She then turned to Fry, who was apparently still in 'attack mode'. "Fry, calm down, the battle's over," she said.

"Yeah, I know," Fry said with disappointment in his voice.

Leela walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Fry, I'm really worried about you," she said. "It seemed like you were painting my face on those pirate ships just before blasting them to hell. Maybe you should go rest."

"And what if I was?" Fry muttered as he was leaving the bridge.

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship, a few more hours later.

Leela woke up in cold sweat. Somehow, she felt that something wasn't right. She immediately noticed that her bed sheets were very messed up and her nightgown was on the floor beside her, a large towel being the only thing covering her. The lock on her door was bashed in. She looked out the window and noticed that the ship's movement was a bit odd as well, somehow. Instinctively, she threw on some clothes and ran to the bridge to check what was going on. To her amazement, she saw Bender playing around with the controls and Fry standing near him with a towel in his hand and a look of grave concern on his face.

"Oh look, sleeping beauty's here," Fry said when he saw Leela come in.

"What the hell is going on here?!" Leela demanded, not too sure if she wanted to know the answer.

"We're trying to figure that out ourselves," Bender replied. "Fry woke me up and said that something weird was happening with the ship."

"Then why didn't you call me!?" Leela yelled.

"Oh, we were going to,” Bender sarcastically replied, “but you looked so sweet sleeping there, and we just didn't have the heart to wake you."

"First we yelled into the intercom for five minutes," Fry started to explain. "Then we went over to your room and knocked on your door for a few more minutes. When we realized that it was futile, we bashed your door open..."

"You barged into my private quarters?!" Leela cut him off; still a bit bewildered from the strange feeling she woke up with. “Wait... why were my bed sheets so messed up, and why was my nightgown on the floor?” Her eye widened in shock. “Fry, how DARE you!?”

Fry took a step back when he realized what he had just been accused of. "WHAT? You ungrateful..." Fry snapped at her, his mask of cold indifference crumbling to reveal his true feelings. "We wanted to see if you were all right, dammit! I was worried sick about you! For all I knew, you could have been in need of serious help, or worse! I saw you lying on your bed, tossing and turning like you were having a nightmare. I tried shaking you and calling your name, but you wouldn't wake up. I didn't know what was happening to you! I told Bender to go to the bridge and see if he could figure out what was going on with the ship, and sat down next to you to see if I could do anything to help you. You were feverish and drenched with sweat. I removed your nightgown and bed sheets because they were all wet, and covered you with the first dry towel I could find. I kept wiping you and trying to make you comfortable, pleading you to wake up. Every once in a while, I went out to get fresh towel and see how Bender was doing. I was just about to go back to your room, not even knowing if you were still breathing or not. You scared the hell out of me, Leela!” He paused and gave her a hard look. “If you're mad at us for breaking into your room and invading your privacy, then I'm sorry."

Leela stared at Fry in astonishment for a few seconds. "You... you did all that for me?" she whispered, embarrassed for yelling at Fry and accusing him of taking advantage of her. "I don't know what to say..."

'How about "thank you"?' Fry though, his cold attitude quickly returning.

"How about 'oh no, we're about to crash into that planet'?" Bender suggested.

Leela looked at the view ahead of the ship. "Oh no, we're about to crash into that planet!" She took the captain's chair and nervously tried to gain control of the ship. "It's not responding!" she exclaimed.

"Oh great, we're gonna die," Bender commented.

"Why isn't this thing working?" Leela hysterically yelled.

Leela's attempts at steering she ship were futile. The ship entered the planet's atmosphere and rapidly fell toward the ground. Suddenly, the strange force pulling the ship disappeared and the ship began responding to Leela's feverish movements.

"I think I've regained control!" Leela exclaimed. Bender and Fry sighed in relief, but immediately gasped when they saw that the ship was about to crash into a cliff. Leela sharply steered to the right and, with great effort, crash-landed the ship in a nearby swamp without any major damage.

"Great landing!" Bender commented sarcastically.

"Shut up!" Leela snapped at him. "We're lucky that I got us down in one piece!"

"Can we get out of here now?" Fry asked, ignoring Bender's remark.

Leela looked over the ship's consoles. "The controls are dead," she sighed. "It looks like we're trapped here, at least for the time being. This is starting to get very weird."

"Then we should go and try to find out what's going on," Fry suggested.

"Are you crazy?" Leela exclaimed, "We have no idea what it's like on this planet's surface; the air could be toxic for all we know!"

"I'd rather take my chances out there than sit here and enjoy your company while slowly starving to death," Fry replied.

Leela sighed. "You're right, we don't have much of a choice. Let's go."

 

SCENE: Planet's surface

The crew cautiously left the ship and took a look around. They immediately found themselves standing knee-deep in a thick swamp.

"Well, at least the air is breathable," Leela said.

"Eww, what's that thing squiggling around my legs?" Bender complained.

"We should try to find out what happened to us and our ship," Leela continued. "There has to be some explanation for it all."

They started slowly walking toward land, each step requiring great effort. Suddenly, they noticed that something big was moving in their direction.

"What the HELL is that?" Bender exclaimed, as huge, long, scaly creature briefly surfaced, only to sink down into the swamp again.

"I don't know, but if we don't want to find out we better move faster!" Leela replied.

The three of them hustled to the edge of the swamp in fear. Just as they were almost out, Fry tripped on something and fell face first into the murky substance. They saw that he was being pulled under.

"Grab my hand, Fry!" Leela yelled, as she extended her arm to him.

"I can't!" Fry replied, "You'll be pulled under with me!"

"Grab my hand!" she repeated. "Bender will help me stay up!"

Seeing that he was running out of options, Fry obliged. Leela pulled him to land with all her strength. She nearly fell into they swam several times, but Bender stabilized her. Fifteen minutes later, they were out of the swamp.

"Thanks, Leela," Fry said, gasping for breath.

The three of them decided on a direction to go and started ripping through the thick vines that were ahead of them. It was almost as if the vegetation was conscious of their presence, and did all it could to slow their efforts.

"It's like these things are alive or something!" Bender complained.

"They are alive," Leela corrected him. "Plants are living creatures."

"Yeah, well I wanna kill 'em," Bender said, shredding the vines ahead of him.

After they cut through the thick patch, a sudden realization that this was, in fact, a conscious creature dawned upon them. There were more patches of long, moving, tentacle-like "vines" all around them, and in the middle there was a huge mouth. Some of the tentacles around them were a lot longer and "livelier" than the ones they just cut through.

"That thing's horrible!" Leela exclaimed. She shrieked as a few of the longer tentacles grabbed her and lifted her up into the air.

"But don't you love all living creatures?" Fry sarcastically asked.

"Not when they're about to eat me!" Leela replied.

Fry almost smiled to himself when he saw that the tentacles were carrying Leela toward the big mouth in the center of the creature. 'No, I can't let her die he told himself. I don't want her to die, regardless or anything.' He rushed toward the tentacles that were holding Leela and grabbed them at the base, trying to shake her free.

"Help me, Bender!" he yelled.

"But I thought you wanted her dead," Bender said, somewhat confused.

"Shut up and help me!" Fry snapped.

"Oh, I get it. You want to kill her yourself, right? It's more fun that way," Bender mused. "But then you could have just killed her when we busted into her room; why didn't you just strangle her or something? I don't understand you humans..."

"BENDER!" Fry yelled, furious now.

Bender shrugged and ran over to Fry to help him fight the tentacles. After about a minute of wrestling, the creature dropped Leela, and Fry dove to catch her as she fell from the great height. He miscalculated her landing position, however, and she fell right on top of him rather than into his arms.

Too frightened to speak, Leela just panted rapidly as she was trying to recover from the shock. Her heart was pounding so hard that Fry could feel each beet like a hammer pounding his back.

"Get off me, will you?" Fry shouted. "I think my spine is broken!"

"Nah," Bender said, "If you still have feeling in it, it's not broken."

"Good," Fry replied, "because I'm feeling sharp pain in it right now."

"Oh..." Leela said, as she rolled off Fry's back, "Sorry... about that..." She lay on the 'ground' for a minute while she recovered.

"Are you all right?" Fry asked, sitting up. He looked at Leela with concern.

"Yeah, I think," Leela replied. She paused for a moment and smiled. "I'm glad you still care."

"Look, I hate to interrupt your mating ritual," Bender said, "but we should really get away from this thing before it swallows us whole."

"Good idea," Leela agreed.

Leela and Fry got up, and the three of them ran through the more passable areas of the creature's perimeter. Some of the larger tentacles made a few more attempts to grab them, but didn't succeed. When they finally got away, Fry, Leela and Bender stood at a small clearing with thick woods all around.

"Let's rest here," Leela said. "It's already getting dark, and we're all tired.

"Hey, speak for yourself!" Bender said. "Robots don't get tired!"

"But humans do!" Leela shouted at him.

"Yeah, yeah," Bender replied, "it's always about you humans..."

Leela took three green pills out of her pocket and put them into moist patches in the ground. Three tents instantly popped up.

“I 'borrowed' some of these when we were in the military, and happened to have a few with me,” Leela explained.

As the trio prepared to settle down for the night, Fry strolled away from the others and sat down on the wet grass. Tormented by his emotions, he looked up to the sky, as if expecting some sort of answer. A tear rolled down his cheek.

'I can't win, can I?' he thought. 'The more I try to get close to her, the harder I fall; and the more I try to push her away, the more painful it is every time she smiles at me. Why can't it just be one or the other?' He sighed heavily and lowered his head. 'I guess I'm doomed to loneliness, but it's better to accept that then let it go on like this. I'm tired of chasing a dream that I'll never catch.' He shed another tear. 'But it was such a beautiful dream...' He sat up and wiped his eyes. 'No. No, I can't keep breaking down like this; it has to end. If killing a part of me is what it will take, than so be it. I simply won't let her get close to me anymore, until she goes away for good. I'm finally ready to make that sacrifice.'

Leela silently walked up behind Fry and crouched next to him. She noticed that he had been crying and softly placed her right hand on his shoulder. “Fry, are you okay?” she whispered.

Fry looked up at her and anger flashed in his eyes. “I'm fine,” he said. “Did you want something, or are you just assuming that I'm depressed and need a few sugar-coated words from you to make me feel better?”

Leela was a bit taken aback by this. “I just noticed that you looked a bit sad, and thought I'd ask how you're feeling,” she said, slightly offended. “If you don't want to talk to me right now, I...”

Fry covered Leela's left hand with his own and squeezed it gently. “No, now that you're here, I do want to talk to you,” he said. His voice was cold and calculating. “I wanted to let you know how I feel for a while now.”

Leela sighed. “I know you care for me, Fry, and...” she began to say.

“No, you don't know,” Fry cut her off, squeezing her hand a little harder. “I'm tired of you jerking me around. I'm tired of you being sweet one moment and blasting me the next. I had a lot of patience, Leela, but there's only so much I can handle.”

“So what are you trying to...” Leela tried to say.

“Let me finish,” Fry cut her off again, squeezing her hand harder. “It was good at first. I felt close to you, I felt that I just had to keep trying and I'd win your love. I cared for you. I've made mistakes, but I've always been honest with you. But after a while, it got less and less comfortable, and more and more painful. It started becoming difficult to handle.”

Leela looked at him with a mix of sorrow, sympathy, and astonishment.

“You notice how I'm holding your hand, Leela?” Fry asked, tightening his grip some more. “It was gentle and warm at first, wasn't it? Friendly, caring, comfortable. But then you started noticing something else, didn't you? My grip started getting tighter, and it got less friendly and caring. It started to become painful.”

“Fry...” Leela tried to say.

'What am I doing?' Fry asked himself. 'How can I sit here and hurt her like this?' He shook off the feeling. 'No, this has to be done. I'm breaking a part of my heart to find release.'

“You see,” Fry continued, tightening his grip further, “you're beginning to notice that there's only so much you can handle; that eventually you'll snap at me, ripping your hand away from mine forcefully, and very likely hurt me in the process, intentionally or otherwise. You don't want to think like that, though; you just want to smile and see me smile back. You grin and bear it.”

“Fry...!” Leela began to say, a bit of anger in her voice now.

“But all good things come to an end,” Fry continued, squeezing Leela's hand very tightly now. “You know that you can't take it anymore. You realize that you've made a mistake by showing affection in the first place and wish that you'd just have let me sit here in peace. But it's too late for that now.”

Leela winced as Fry squeezed her hand with all his strength. “Fry, you're hurting me!” she exclaimed, sharply pulling her hand away and accidentally slapping Fry in the face on the follow-through.

“Exactly,” Fry said, rubbing his cheek. He got up and walked away, leaving a bewildered Leela to figure it out for herself.

 

SCENE: A strange-looking prison cell, the next morning.

Fry woke up in what looked like a prison cell. There were no windows, no beds, no toilet, and a small exit barred by a strong energy field. Bender was sitting next to him, and Leela was nowhere in sight.

“Hey, the guard left!” Bender exclaimed. “Let's escape through this exit!”

“Are you crazy?” Fry stopped him, “That thing looks like it will melt us in a second!”

“Well, only one way to find out!” Bender replies. He took a small metal object out of his compartment and threw it at the exit. It vaporized instantly.

“Ah, on the other hand, let's stay here for a while,” he suggested.

“Do you have any idea how we got here?” Fry asked.

“Nope,” Bender replied. “I fell asleep last night in that forest, and the next thing I know, I wake up here and see a couple of aliens drag Leela away.

Fry felt a bit guilty from the night before. “What happened to her?” he asked nervously.

“She tried to kick their asses,” Bender replied, “but they stuck some syringe into her and she went limp in three seconds flat. They said something about 'performing some tests' on her, by which they probably mean horribly painful torture.”

Fry swallowed hard. “I hope she'll be all right,” he said.

“If by 'all right' you mean in unimaginable pain, I'm sure she will be,” Bender assured him.

 

SCENE: Alien laboratory, somewhere in the same complex.

“Are you certain that she is the one we need?” a large alien who was wearing a fancy gown asked.

“Yes, your horribleness,” a smaller alien replied. “When we probed their ship as it was approaching our planet, we noticed that the female was especially vulnerable to our psionic attack. The other human was able to resist it, and the robot was unaffected.”

“What is so special about this one, then?” the leader asked.

“We are not sure,” the scientist replied, “but she seems to be a genetic deviant, so she could be lacking a gene that makes humans resistant to our psionics.”

“As soon as we finish this procedure,” another scientist added, “she will be completely under our control. We can make her carry out our plans then.”

“So the time has finally come,” the leader said, smiling fiendishly. “The DOOP will rue the day they refused to let us join them for being too evil! They did not even give us the complementary cookies! I WANTED THOSE COOKIES!”

“Yes, your horribleness,” the first scientist replied, “we shall destroy them all. Are you certain that the device the Professor sent us will work?”

“That senile, amoral crackpot would not dare to fail us,” the leader replied. “He has given us four devices and informed us of the precise locations they should be deployed. When everything is set, ALL OF DOOP WILL BE DESTROYED!”

“Well, technically, the Neutral Planet...” one of the scientists started to say.

“FORGET THE NEUTRAL PLANET!” the leader yelled. “They weren't sure whether to send us the cookies or not. They can be spared. THE REST OF THEM SHALL BURN!”

“Were the devices delivered with their ship, your horribleness?” one of the scientists asked.

“OF COURSE THEY WERE DELIVERED WITH THE SHIP!” the leader exclaimed. “And as a bonus, the Professor sent us not only the doomsday device, but also a means to deploy it. For that, we will not only send him his pay, but also spare his life. Make a note of that.”

“Yes, your horribleness,” the scientist replied.

A few minutes passed as the scientists labored away at Leela's body, injecting various strange fluids into her and cutting her open in various places. His Horribleness watched them carefully.

“No, you idiot!” one of the scientists yelled to the other, “The heart IS a vital part of the human body! Put that back!”

“If you kill her,” the leader said, “I will send YOU two in her place.”

“But your horribleness!” one of them replied, “You know that we'll die if we leave our atmosphere, ever since that big industrial accident!”

“Yes,” the leader said with a smile, “I know.”

“Ah, your horribleness,” the other scientist asked, trying to hide the fact that he had just cut the main artery, “if we DO accidentally kill her - and I'm not saying that we will - can't we just reprogram the robot to do our bidding?”

“I DO NOT TRUST ROBOTS!” the leader exclaimed. “I sent an army of killbots to attack some helpless planet, and look where that got us!”

The scientists labored for another half hour. Miraculously, Leela had survived the operation. All her scars disappeared once she was patched up.

“It's complete!” one of the scientists exclaimed. “All is ready now! Look!” He turned to Leela and commanded her to get up. She opened her eye and sat up.

“Ooh, ooh, let me try!” the other scientist said. “Humanoid female! Get up and do a little dance! Wait, no, put your clothes on first! No, before that you...”

Leela hit him and looked at the other scientist. “My clothes,” she calmly said. “Give them to me.”

He nodded and promptly fetched Leela's clothes. She quickly put them on, looked at the two scientists, and cracked her knuckles. “Well?”

“Uh, oh, yes,” one of them stuttered. “Y...you are our agent now, and you will perform a very important mission for us. His Horribleness will brief you.”

His Horribleness nodded. “The ship you came to this planet on is in our docking bay,” he explained. “The directions for getting there have been uploaded into your wrist-thingy. A guard will meet you there and accompany you to the ship. You will then transport your cargo to one of our ships, which the guard will direct you to. You are to go to the coordinates specified in your wrist-thingy and deploy one of the four devices you carry in each location. Once all four devices have been deployed, the doomsday machine will be activated and our enemies will be destroyed in an explosion that will be big enough to take out half the Universe. Is this understood?”

“One question,” Leela said. “Where am I to go when I deploy the last of the devices, and how much time will I have to escape?”

“Escaping will not be necessary,” His Horribleness replied. “You will be of no more use to us when your mission is complete.”

Leela nodded. “What about my former crew? They may attempt to escape and follow me.”

“Ignore them,” the monster replied. “From what we have seen, they are completely incompetent, and, as thus, irrelevant to the completion your mission.”

“That they are,” Leela agreed. “Are my orders to leave immediately?”

“Yes,” His Horribleness replied. “Go.”

 

SCENE: Bender and Fry's prison cell.

“Hey Fry, I think I figured out a way for us to escape,” Bender said. “The switch for our door is right next to it, and I think I can reach it.”

He walked up to the energy bars and carefully extended his arm between them. He bent it to the side and found the switch. After he fondled with it for a few minutes, the energy bars disappeared.

“Yeah!” Fry exclaimed, “Great job, Bender!”

“Am I great or what?” Bender agreed. “But, uh, what do we do now?”

“We should go find Leela,” Fry replied. “I can't stand to think what horrible things they may be doing to her. We have to get her out of here.”

“I was thinking more along the lines of finding the docking bay and getting the hell out of here in the first ship we find,” Bender said, “but if you really want the cyclops...”

“Someone's coming!” Fry exclaimed. “Quick, hide!”

They turned at the nearest corner and hugged the wall, hoping that they wouldn't be noticed. A very familiar figure walked by.

“Leela!' Fry exclaimed. Without thinking, he ran over to her and threw his arms around her. She pushed him down to the floor and kept walking. Seconds later, an alarm sounded.

“What the...?” Fry said, confused by what has just happened. “RUN!”

“Quick, follow me!” Bender yelled. “I downloaded a map of this are when I interfaced with that switch; I can get us to the docking bay!”

Fry and Bender ran through the twisted hallways, frequently dashing into nearby vacant rooms and around corners to avoid being seen. It took them 15 minutes to finally reach the docking bay, thanks to Bender's knowledge of all the shortcuts and hiding places in the vicinity. They saw several ships there, one of which was the Planet Express ship, which was open for some reason. They immediately ran to their ship and entered it.

As soon as they entered the Planet Express ship, Fry and Bender heard voices somewhere nearby. They ducked into one of the rooms and tried to listen in.

“It sounds like Leela and one of the guards,” Bender said. “I think they're near the cargo bay. Wait - they're coming this way!”

“I will deploy the parts of the doomsday device at the specified coordinates,” they overheard Leela say. “Help me carry them over to the ship I've been assigned, and I will be on my way.” The alien who was with her grunted something incoherent in response.

“What the hell is going on?” Fry commented in a hushed tone. Why is Leela acting so weird? Is she working with them now?”

“Looks like it,” Bender replied. “Oh well, it sounds like they're leaving. Let's get the hell out of there.”

“We can't just abandon her here!” Fry exclaimed.

“We can and we will,” Bender insisted. “She's evil now, forget about her!”

“You're evil, but you're still my friend!” Fry protested.

“Yeah, but I don't work for horrible aliens who want to destroy the Universe,” Bender replied. “Forget about her, Fry! Isn't that what you wanted, anyway?”

“I don't care!” Fry exclaimed. “I'm going to get Leela back!” He ran out the door and saw Leela leaving the ship. “Wait!” he yelled, running after her.

Leela turned around and kicked Fry in the face as he was running up to her. “You will not interfere with my mission,” she calmly said. “You are a pathetic nothing, and you will not waste any more of my time. I was not told to stop you, so I advise that you get out of here while you have the chance.” Before Fry to get up, she walked away and the door exit behind her.

“You heard the woman, let's get the hell out of here!” Bender yelled. “Come on, Fry, you can't get her back! Let's go!”

Fry got up and reluctantly followed Bender to the bridge. He took the captain's seat and looked at the controls. “I can fly the ship,” he said. “Now let's just hope they don't shoot us down when we try to take off.”

The roof slowly slid open. Fry and Bender saw one of the ships take off, and Fry fired up the engines. “Now's our chance,” he said. The Planet Express ship took off and blasted through the roof just before it closed.

 

SCENE: Space.

Fry pointed the ship toward the alien ship that took off right before them. “That's Leela,” he said. “Let's follow her at a safe distance for now.”

“Whoa, whoa,” Bender said, “I thought we were going back to Earth!”

“We're following her,” Fry stated.

“Come on, Fry!” Bender protested, “She's going to set off some kind of doomsday device! I don't want to be in an explosion that can take out half the Universe!”

“The Earth is part of the Universe,” Fry reminded him. “Now sit down and fasten your seatbelt.”

“Aw hell...” Bender said, sitting down.

Fry glanced over his controls and looked ahead with newfound determination. “We're going to stop her,” he said with an air of confidence. “No matter what it takes.”

Fry cautiously followed Leela for a few hours. He then noticed that she was entering the orbit of a nearby planet.

“We can't let her land,” Fry said. “She's going to set up a part of the doomsday device down there. Bender, prepare for an attack run!”

“You're going to shoot her down?” Bender asked, surprised at Fry's actions. He sat down at the weapons console.

Fry hit the boosters and closed down on Leela's ship. He got her within range and tailed her. “Give her a warning shot!” he commanded.

Bender fired a few rounds at Leela's ship. She dodged to the side erratically and seemed to panic for a moment.

Leela checked the view behind her and realized who it was that shot at her. “So, you want to play a game, Fry?” she said, smiling. She pulled up sharply and did a partial vertical loop. She sighted Fry's ship below her and made a pass at him, purposely missing.

“Oh crap, she's right on top of us!” Fry exclaimed. He banked to the side to try to get out of Leela's line of fire.

Leela's smile widened. “Good boy,” she said. She turned her ship around and headed toward the surface.

“Where the hell did she go?” Fry yelled in frustration, leveling his ship. It took him a minute to find Leela, and by the time he did, she was almost on the ground.

“Damn, she got away!” Fry exclaimed. “Let's land and try to catch her on the ground.”

 

SCENE: Planet's surface.

Fry landed the ship roughly, and ran to the exit. Bender followed. When they got out, they saw Leela crouched on the ground not very far ahead, tinkering with some device.

“Let's get her!” Bender exclaimed. They charged at her and tried to grab her.

Leela smiled to herself and let them grab her arms. She then threw them back and knocked them against each other. She pushed a few buttons on the device she was setting up and it started to emit a humming noise. A small force field materialized around it. Leela got up, turned around, and kicked Fry in the head. She then ripped Bender's arm off and bashed him over the head with it a few times.

“Let this be a warning to you,” she calmly said. “If insist on continuing this little game, it will be getting more serious.” She then walked to her ship, and by the time Fry and Bender recovered, she was already taking off.

“Let's go,” Fry said, boiling with anger. He and Bender ran to their ship and took off as quickly as they could, trying not to lose sight of Leela.

 

SCENE: Space.

After a few minutes of nervous maneuvering, stabilized his ship and was following Leela at a constant distance.

Leela checked her radar and noticed that Fry was still following her. “So, you're still there, huh?” she sneered. “Let's see if you have the guts to play a game of 'follow the leader'.”

Leela steered sharply to one side and headed toward a nearby planet.

“She's going to land on that planet!” Fry exclaimed. “We have to intercept her!”

Fry increased speed and steered toward the planet Leela was headed for. Just as he entered the atmosphere, he noticed that Leela was no longer in front of him.

“Damn!” he exclaimed, “Where the hell did she go this time?”

“She's up there!” Bender exclaimed. “She's leaving orbit!”

Fry pulled up and hit the boosters to get out of orbit as quickly as possible. Leela had already gained some distance between them.

“Good,” Leela said. “Now, let's get serious.” She sighted a nearby comet and increased speed, heading straight for it.

“What the hell is she doing?” Bender exclaimed.

“I think I know,” Fry replied. “We have to be extremely careful here.”

Fry increased speed and tried to keep Leela straight ahead of him, while watching the comet cautiously. Just as he expected, Leela pulled to the side at the last second, and he mirrored her movement.

“You'll have to do better than that,” he said triumphantly.

Leela saw an asteroid field nearby and smiled devilishly. She knew that her ship was more maneuverable than Fry's, and headed into it.

“Well, we're boned,” Bender commented when he saw that Fry was determined to follow her.

“Prepare for attack,” Fry commanded. “I want to make her sweat a little.”

Fry increased speed and followed Leela into the asteroid field. He maneuvered around the larger asteroids, but made no attempts to dodge smaller ones. It didn't take him long to close in on Leela, who was flying slower and more carefully.

“Fire!” Fry commanded.

“Well, I hope you know what you're doing...” Bender replied. He started firing at Leela as Fry maneuvered the ship between large asteroids and kept the distance between them and Leela's ship close.

Leela was caught off guard by Bender's fire. She tried to get away from them and smashed into an asteroid.

“Get a hold of yourself, Leela,” she said to herself. “This is Fry you're dealing with here; it's nothing to panic about.”

Leela regained focus and evaluated her options. She saw a large gap between the asteroids above her and immediately pulled up.

“You're not getting away, Leela,” Fry said, trying to follow her. “Keep firing! Try to distract her!”

As Leela skillfully maneuvered between the asteroids, Fry clumsily followed her, smashing through anything that happened to be in front of him. He slowly closed in on her. When he saw an opportunity, he pulled up and hit the boosters, ending up right on top of her.

Fry looked down and saw Leela directly below him. He was about to command Bender to fire at the cockpit, but couldn't bring himself to do it. He sighed heavily. 'I can't kill you, Leela,' he thought. 'Even though countless billions of lives depend on it, and I know you'd want me to do it, I just can't.'

“Hold your fire!” he commanded.

Fry carefully descended until the bottom of his ship and the top of Leela's were almost touching. He increased speed to get slightly ahead of her and descended further to obscure her view with his exhaust.

“What the hell is he doing?” Leela exclaimed. She couldn't steer, and her heart pounded faster and faster with every asteroid that hit her ship. In desperation, she sharply pulled to the side and hit the boosters. The risk paid off well; Fry was out of her way and there was an exit within sight. She quickly maneuvered toward it.

Fry lost sight of Leela for a minute. He spun around nervously and caught a glimpse of her. She had gained quite a bit of distance and was leaving the asteroid field. Fry's ship was already heavily damaged knew he didn't have the time for careful maneuvering. He took a deep breath and hit the boosters.

“Phew, I think I finally lost him,” Leela said, checking how damaged her ship was. Seeing that it was still in flying condition, she turned and headed toward her next destination.

Smashing through the asteroids, Fry blasted directly through until he escaped the asteroid field. He saw Leela's ship in the distance and continued his pursuit.

“Yeah!” Fry exclaimed. “We did it; we got out of there alive! In your face, Leela!”

“Hey Fry,” Bender asked, “we could have easily taken her out when you got us right on top of her back there. Why the hell didn't we?”

Fry sighed. “I couldn't do it, Bender,” he said. “I just can't bring myself to kill Leela, despite everything.”

“Then why didn't you have me do it?” Bender asked.

Fry gave him a dirty look, then checked how damaged the ship was.

“Well, miraculously, the ship still seems to be fully operational,” he said. “Let's try to catch up; we have to follow her.”

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship, a couple of hours later.

Leela was steadily moving toward her next destination. Fry kept his eyes locked on her ship, afraid to blink.

“It's been two hours,” Bender said. “She's moving in a straight line; just following her course. You can take a break now.”

“We can't underestimate her,” Fry replied. “She's smart, and she knows we're following her. She may change course at any moment, and we'll lose her if we're not careful.”

“Fry,” Bender argued, “she probably has her ship on autopilot right now and is sleeping. She's not a machine, and neither are you.”

Fry narrowed his eyes and smiled. “I may not be a machine, but you are!” he exclaimed. “I can go rest for a few hours while you keep an eye on her, and you'll call me if anything happens! Thanks, Bender! Oh, and don't slack off; I'm trusting you with something very important!” He got up and quickly walked out.

“Wait, I didn't...” Bender tried to protest. “Aww, crap...”

Fry stopped by Leela's room as he was walking past it. He turned to face the door and sighed heavily. 'Well, these are the captain's quarters, and I guess I am the captain now,' he thought. He pushed the door open and walked in cautiously.

Fry looked around and saw that the room was still a mess from when he was taking care of Leela right before they landed on Menace 10. He sat down on her bed and closed his eyes and visualized her sitting beside him.

“I miss you, Leela,” he quietly said. “I hate to admit it, but I need you here with me; even if it is only as a friend. Come back to me, please. And please, please don't make me do what I almost did today.”

He sat there for a few minutes in complete silence. When he opened his eyes, he took another look around the room and thought that Leela would not approve of this mess. She always kept everything so tidy. Fry got up and tried to make her bed. He then picked up all the sheets and towels off the floor, folded them as neatly as he could, and stacked them on the bed. The end result was nothing impressive, but for Fry, it was admirable. He then slowly walked out and went to his own room; it was too depressing to sleep in Leela's.

 

SCENE: Leela's ship.

Leela was tossing and turning in her sleep. A harsh day and a troubled mind were taking their toll on her. She could not possibly dream peacefully, since her mind was far from peaceful.

Leela stood in a murky void, feeling cold and numb. In front of her stood a copy of herself, who looked identical to her, and yet was somehow... not right.

“Don't worry,” the copy said with blatantly phony kindness in her voice, “it will all be over soon. Once the mission is complete, you'll finally be at peace... along with many, many others.”

“It won't work!” Leela exclaimed. “You will not win!”

“And who will stop me?” the copy asked. “That idiot, Fry? He'll be dead soon, if he isn't already. He was born a loser and he will die a loser. You always thought so, so why depend on him now?”

Leela tried to slap her, but realized that she couldn't move. A feeling of helplessness suddenly overwhelmed her.

“Struck a raw nerve, did I?” the copy continued. “Do you honestly believe that you actually care about him? From the way you treated him, I'm surprised that he stayed close to as long as he did; although I have no idea what he saw in you in the first place. You are a bitter, violent, and often inconsiderate woman who has built emotional walls around herself and blocks people who actually care about her from getting too close while letting complete lowlifes through. Honestly, I fail to see the attraction.”

Leela couldn't reply to that. Maybe she couldn't find the words, or maybe she was unable to speak; she wasn't sure which.

“You see, going out like this isn't all bad,” the copy continued. “Think of it - no more thankless job, no more painful memories, no more loneliness eating away at you, no more self-serving bastards hurting you every time you lower your guard, no more of that cold feeling that your life is a cruel joke and you can't do anything about it - nothing.”

The copy vanished, leaving Leela just standing there, cold and alone.

“I'm sorry, Fry,” she tried to say. “I really do care for you deeply, and I appreciate everything you've done. My life isn't all bad - I have great friends and a job I'm proud of. I can make it. I can make it!”

She tried to say it, but she couldn't. She felt a snake wrapped around her throat, choking her and spreading its venom, making that feeling of utter helplessness grow with each passing moment. She just stood there in complete silence, cold and alone.

An alarm sounded and Leela woke up. “Oh, looks like I'm there,” she said to herself as she threw on her clothes and headed to the bridge. She sat down in the captain's chair and saw that she was already orbiting a planet. She prepared for descent.

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship.

Bender noticed that Leela's ship was entering the orbit of a planet and called Fry over the intercom. A minute later, Fry showed up and took the pilot's seat.

“Wow, you actually paid attention,” Fry said. “I'm surprised at you, Bender.”

“You're really starting to sound and act like her, you know that?” Bender noted. “You've been this way ever since she turned evil on us.”

“You can compare us later, when the Universe isn't destroyed,” Fry retorted with a slight smirk on his face as he steered the ship down toward the planet Leela was orbiting.

“My, aren't we overly optimistic today?” Bender commented.

Fry sharply increased speed and locked his eyes on Leela's ship. He was rapidly closing the gap between the two ships. When she noticed that he was getting too close, she started to sway from side to side so that he couldn't get a lock on her. She sped down toward the surface.

“Fire!” Fry commanded. “Disrupt her landing!”

By the time Bender started shooting, Leela was already landing. His fire was random, and within seconds, Leela's ship disappeared under the cover of trees.

“Damn, we're too late!” Fry exclaimed. “No point in trying to catch her on the ground; by the time we get to her, she'll already be taking off. We'll have to try to catch her on the next planet.”

“But what if this is the last piece?” Bender asked.

“Then we won't try to catch her on the next planet,” Fry replied.

Fry stayed in orbit and kept a close eye on the area where Leela landed.

“Do I blast her when she takes off?” Bender asked.

Fry thought for a minute, tearing himself apart over this difficult question. “Yeah,” he finally replied with a grim sigh. “Blast her to hell.”

“All right!” Bender exclaimed with enthusiasm.

Fry turned to Bender with an infuriated look on his face. “Do you have any idea how difficult it was for me to give that order?!” he snapped.

“Oh, so now you're giving out orders,” Bender mocked him. “Who died and made you captain?” He soon realized the irony of that statement. “Oh, sorry,” he added.

“I never thought it would come to this,” Fry said. “Here I am, sitting in the captain's chair - in Leela's chair - locking her in my sights and commanding you to shoot her down. What the hell happened, Bender? What did any of us do to deserve this?”

“Aww, cheer up, buddy,” Bender replied. “After we finish this, we can go get boozed up and drown our sorrow. Look at you - you went from a loser delivery boy to a big-shot hero. She'd be proud of you, Fry.”

“Yeah,” Fry said with a heavy sigh, “I guess she would... Thanks, Bender.”

A few minutes later, they noticed Leela's ship take off. Fry increased speed and came up behind her. “Let's go,” he said in a grim tone.

Bender started shooting, and hit the hull of Leela's ship several times.

“This is beginning to get on my nerves,” Leela said, gritting her teeth. She pulled up and went into a vertical loop to get on top of Fry like she did before.

“Oh, no you don't,” Fry said, banking to the side. “Not this time.”

As Leela was completing her loop, she lost sight of Fry. She was in disarray for a few seconds while she was hastily trying to level her ship. She then glanced at her radar and didn't see Fry anywhere.

“Did he vanish or something?” Leela asked herself, confused and nervous.

Fry was flying directly below her. He pulled up and locked in on her engines.

“Now's your chance, fire!” he shouted.

Bender fired a few rounds and caused some serious damage to the hull of Leela's ship, nearly hitting the fuel tank.

“Holy crap, he's right under me!” Leela exclaimed, beginning to panic as she saw the damage approach critical levels. “I have to get the hell out of here!” She hit the boosters and sped off into the distance.

“She's getting away!” Bender exclaimed.

Fry smiled. “Let her,” he said. “Her ship is heavily damaged by now. A few more direct hits and it will go straight down. We'll force her to crash-land on the next planet, and with her ship disabled, we'll be able to capture her!”

“And all without anybody getting killed!” Bender exclaimed. “Fry, you're a genius!”

“You know,” Fry said after along, awkward pause, “that's the first time anyone's ever said that to me.”

“Yeah, well it's the first time you haven't said or done anything idiotic in more than 24 hours,” Bender replied.

“With so much at stake, I can't afford to be idiotic,” Fry said.

“Wow,” Bender replied, “I guess you're not all that stupid after all; you're just too lazy to think most of the time!”

“Yeah, I guess,” Fry said with a shrug.

Bender sighed. “I never truly realized just how important Leela was to you until now,” he said.

“Yeah,” Fry said, remembering the way he treated her right before he lost her. “Neither did I.”

 

SCENE: Space, a few hours later.

“Look!” Bender exclaimed, waking Fry up, “She's entering that planet's orbit!”

“Showtime,” Fry replied, locking his eyes on Leela's ship. He lined up with it and increased speed.

Leela saw Fry's ship on the radar and scowled. “You just don't give up, do you?” she muttered. “I should have shot you down when I had the chance.” She banked to the side and hit the boosters in an attempt to lose him.

Fry stayed on course. He was following Leela's ship with his eyes and mirrored her every move. No matter how hard Leela tried to shake him off, he stayed on her tail and kept getting closer. Both of them were sweating, locked in a tight race. Leela was already approaching the surface when Fry finally got her within close range.

“Steady now,” he said. “Bender, prepare to fire on my signal. Aim for the engines.”

Fry carefully approached Leela's ship, trying to get her at just the right angle. Every second counted.

“Fire!” he commanded. “Now, Bender, now!”

Bender fired several rounds and hit his target. Two of Leela's engines caught fire. The explosions nearly threw Leela off her chair, and she lost control. Her ship went spiraling down to the ground.

“Nice shot, Bender!” Fry exclaimed. He prepared for a quick landing.

 

SCENE: Leela's ship

Leela regained control of her ship a few seconds before impact and desperately tried to pull up. She crashed violently, barely surviving the landing.

“Damn him!” she exclaimed, trying to get up and hoping that she didn't break any bones. She realized that the ship could soon explode and stumbled off to grab her cargo and get out. Once outside, she took a look at her wrist-thingy to see how far she was from the place where she had to deploy the doomsday device part. She realized that she had to walk a few miles and groaned in frustration.

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship

Fry and Bender landed in a small clearing near a forest. Leela's ship was nowhere in sight, but they knew that she couldn't be too far.

“I think she landed somewhere over there,” Bender said, pointing in a certain direction. “Let's go!”

“Wait,” Fry replied. “If we both go, she might find our ship and steal it. She couldn't have landed too far from here, so we don't need to both go.”

”Good point,” Bender said. “I'll stay here and guard the ship.”

 

SCENE: Planet's surface, half an hour later.

Fry walked through the wilderness, not too sure of where he was going and half-wondering if he could even find his way back to the ship. He then noticed a humanoid figure in the distance and hid behind a tree, waiting for it to get closer. His gut instinct was right - it was Leela. He took a deep breath and walked out from behind the tree.

“Leela, stop!” He exclaimed. “I don't care what those aliens did to you; it doesn't have to be like this!”

“Get out of my way, Fry,” Leela replied. She kept on walking in his direction.

“Leela, please listen to me!” Fry continued. “I know you're not evil; that deep down you're fighting this! Fight harder!”

“Get out of my way, Fry,” she repeated in a threatening tone. She did not slow down.

“You can't do this, Leela!” Fry pleaded. “I won't let you!”

Leela shoved him with full force and he fell to the ground. “You can't save me, Fry,” she said coldly. “The Leela you knew is gone. I will complete my mission, and there is nothing you can do to stop me. Get that through your thick skull.” She then turned away from him and kept on walking.

Fry got up and dusted himself off. “You know I can't let you walk away like this,” he said.

“No,” Leela replied. “I suppose you can't.” She turned around to face him. “Let's end this, then.” Leela cracked her knuckles and slowly walked toward Fry.

Fry stood next to a tall, cactus-like plant that had many long, sharp thorns. He broke off one of the thorns and locked eyes with Leela. “Don't do this, Leela,” he said.

“It's ironic, isn't it?” she replied. “Being killed by the person you felt closest to.” She threw a punch at him, but he dodged.

“It won't come to that,” he said. He jumped at her and grabbed her by the shoulders.

Leela was still weak from the crash and couldn't hold her balance. The two of them fell to the ground, and he wrestled her down to her back. He held her shoulders against the ground to keep her down. She scowled at him and tried to push him away, but couldn't.

“That's it, Leela,” Fry said, “just stop struggling and we can go home together. I'll have the Professor undo whatever those aliens did to you, and...”

He didn't get to finish his sentence. Leela kneed him in the stomach, grabbed him by the throat, and threw him to the ground next to her. She rolled on top of him and punched him in the jaw. He spit blood and pushed her away with full force. She lost her balance and fell on him, grabbing him by the throat in the process. They rolled over several times, each one trying to gain the upper hand, and Fry eventually ended up on top. He cut her arm with the thorn he was still holding to stop her from choking him. She screamed in pain and let him go for a moment, and he quickly got up while he had the chance.

“It doesn't have to be this way, Leela!” Fry exclaimed, catching his breath. “Please, let's just go home! The professor can fix you up, and you'll be back to normal!”

“Back to normal?” Leela mocked him. “Oh, yes, Fry, I can't wait to become 'normal' again!”

Leela stood up and leapt at Fry. She punched him in the stomach and grabbed him by the throat. While strangling him with one hand, she held him tightly against herself with the other to restrain him.

“Just like this, Fry,” she whispered. “You're in my arms; your body pressed tightly against mine. Isn't this what you've always wanted?”

Fry tried to push her away, but she thrust herself toward him again, determined to finish him off. Suddenly, however, her grip on his throat loosened. Fry felt her shiver lightly, and she fell forward, her legs no longer supporting her weight. Fry lightly pushed her back, not knowing what has happened. When he looked down, his eyes went wide with anguish. The thorn he was holding was buried deep in Leela's abdomen, and her blood was all over his hand. With some effort, he pulled the thorn out, and a stream of blood gushed from the wound.

Leela fell to her knees, and the shocked Fry looked deeply into her eye, as if pleading her not to die. The look on her face became perfectly clear. A mixture of sorrow, gratitude, and love poured out at Fry in a stream stronger than the stream of blood that was gushing out of her fatal wound. For an instant, Fry thought he saw her smile - not a happy smile, but a knowing smile. After an eternal moment of them looking at each other as if to say “I'm sorry” without uttering a single word, Leela's gaze went dim, and her lifeless body collapsed to the ground.

“No...” Fry whispered as he picked up Leela's limp body. “NO!” he cried out. “Why did it have to end like this, why? It didn't have to be this way! It didn't have to be this way!” He sat there for what seemed like hours, holding her in his arms and weeping.

Bender emerged from the woods and was relieved to see Fry. “Hey Fry!” he yelled, “I know you told me to stay with the ship, but you've been gone a long time, and... Whoa.” He noticed Leela's body in Fry's arms. “You found her and knocked her out? Great job, Fry! Let's get her back to the ship!”

Fry looked up at Bender with tears in his eyes. “She's dead,” he said.

Bender stood there silent for a moment. “Aww, I'm sorry, Fry,” he said, “I know you wanted get her out of here alive. How'd it happen?”

“She's dead,” Fry repeated. “Does it matter how it happened? Let's get back to the ship and get the hell off this damn planet.”

Fry solemnly picked up Leela's body and followed Bender to the ship. There was an eerie silence between them the entire way. Fry wasn't in the mood for conversation, and much in contradiction with his usual self, Bender understood his pain. Neither of them had anything to say.

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship, around 40 minutes later.

Fry was exhausted from carrying Leela the entire way, but he refused to show any signs of weakness. Not once did he complain or stop to rest. Both he and Bender were relieved when they finally saw the ship, and they quickly entered it, neither of them having any desire to stay on this planet any longer.

“Get the engines started,” Fry said, breaking a nearly hour-long silence. He then walked over to Leela's room and reverently laid her down on her bed. He shut her eye with his hand and gently stroked her cheek. “I will never forget you,” he whispered. He then covered her with a white sheet and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him. Once back at the bridge, he immediately took the captain's seat and, with one fluid motion, blasted the ship into space.

“So, where to now, Captain?” Bender asked.

“Menace 10,” Fry replied. “We're going to kick some alien ass. They're going to pay for what they did to Leela.”

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship, a day later.

Bender walked onto the bridge and sat next to Fry, who hasn't said a word in nearly 24 hours. “Fry, I just realized something,” he said. “You do know that this is a suicide mission, right?”

Fry barely acknowledged Bender's presence. “No,” he said. “We're going to blow them to hell.”

“Uh, yeah, about that,” Bender said, a bit more worried now. “Remember how the last time we got near that planet, they disabled our ship? That could be a problem.”

“We'll deal with it when we get there,” Fry replied.

“I also have another question,” Bender continued, even more worried. “How long can humans go without food or rest?”

“Let's find out,” Fry replied.

Bender got up and sighed. “This is for your own good, Fry,” he said. He was just about to hit Fry over the head to knock him out when he noticed a familiar ship approaching.

“Oh crap, not him!” Fry exclaimed. “Please don't let I it be...” the ship got closer, and Fry's fears were realized. “Crap. How the hell are we going to explain this to him?

 

SCENE: The Nimbus

“Kif, is that who I think it is?” Zapp asked.

“Of course it's them,” Kif replied. “You've seen that ship enough times to recognize it by now.”

“Well then, prepare for intimate contact with a very sensual captain,” Zapp said, turning on the com link. Much to his surprise, Fry's face appeared on the screen.

“What is the meaning of this?” Zapp asked. “Where is your captain?”

“You're looking at him,” Fry replied.

“What?!” Zapp exclaimed. “Did you mutiny?”

“Not exactly,” Fry calmly replied.

“I want to speak with my sweet, sexy Leela!” Zapp demanded.

“So do I,” Fry said.

“Where is she?” Zapp asked, a bit annoyed now. “She is aboard your ship, right?”

“Sort of,” Fry replied.

“Well then, can I speak to her?” Zapp asked.

“That would be difficult,” Fry replied.

“Why?” Zapp asked. “Is she asleep?”

“Sort of,” Fry replied. “You could think of it as a really, really deep sleep, I guess.”

“Is she in a coma?” Zapp asked, alarmed.

“Deeper than that,” Fry replied.

“Well, how deep is it?” Zapp asked.

“Ugh,” Kif groaned. “Just tell him what happened to Leela, or this will go on forever!”

“Look, you might want to sit down for this,” Fry said.

“I am sitting down,” Zapp replied.

“She's dead, all right?” Fry exclaimed. “Leela's dead. You won't get lucky with her. Now leave me alone, I have a planet to blow up!”

“Blowing up a planet?!” Zapp exclaimed. “You're a delivery ship, not a warship! Blowing up planets is my job! I'm going to go talk to Leela about this! Prepare to be boarded!”

Fry sighed. “Suit yourself.”

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship.

Zapp angrily walked onto the Planet Express ship's bridge, followed by a reluctant Kif.

“Now, enough chit-chat,” Zapp said. “Where is the sensuous Leela? I would like to have an... intimate conversation with her.”

“Leela is dead,” Fry repeated. “Please stop having sexual fantasies about the deceased.”

“Or at least keep them to yourself,” Kif added.

“Dead?” Zapp asked. “Surely, you jest. Now, bring me to her.”

“Follow me,” Fry said. He led them to Leela's room. Before opening the door, he turned to Zapp.

“Please, treat her with respect,” he said.

He carefully opened the door and walked into Leela's room. He walked up to her bed and removed the sheet that was covering her.

“There!” Fry exclaimed, no longer able to keep his cool. “Are you satisfied now?”

“Oh, my...” Zapp said, seeing the body.

“Captain, we really shouldn't be here,” Kif said in an urging tone.

Fry covered up Leela's body and walked out of the room, followed by Zapp and Kif. They walked back to the bridge in an uncomfortable silence.

“How did she, uh,” Zapp tried to ask.

“She saw you coming and decided that killing herself was the best option she had,” Fry cut him off.

“Fry killed her,” Bender said.

“Some weird aliens turned her evil and sent her on a mission to destroy the Universe. We tried to capture her and bring her home alive, but couldn't. Eventually, I was forced to kill her. There was nothing I could do. I tried so hard...”

“How do I know you're telling the truth?” Zapp said with suspicion. “How do I know you weren't planning to kill her all along?”

“I worked with her every day!” Fry exclaimed. “If I wanted to kill her, I could have done it whenever I wanted! It would have been extremely easy for me to walk up to her with a knife while she was flying the ship and stabbed her before she could react! Why the hell would I decide to do it now?”

“Because that's when she'd least expect it!” Zapp replied.

“She'd never expect it,” Kif argued.

“Oh?” Zapp said, “And how do I know you weren't in on it too, Kif?”

“I was with you the whole time!” Kif replied.

“I cared for her more deeply than I ever did for anyone else in the Universe,” Fry said. “I didn't want to kill her, and I still wish I hadn't. Now, if you're done randomly accusing people like a paranoid idiot, I'm going to go make those alien bastards regret ever touching Leela.”

“What planet are these aliens from?” Zapp asked.

“Menace 10,” Fry replied.

“Kif, we're declaring war on Menace 10,” Zapp said. “Make a note of that.”

“You don't have the authority to declare war,” Kif replied.

“Then I will initiate a sneak attack,” Zapp said. “I will send wave after wave of my men at them as a covert operation. They will never see it coming.”

“Yes they will,” Kif bluntly replied.

“As usual, Kif, you are a step behind me,” Zapp said. “You don't think big enough, and that's why you'll never make Captain. My troops will be cleverly disguised as innocent plants with top-of-the-line camouflage.”

“Wearing a leaf on your helmet is not camouflage,” Kif replied.

“Right you are, Kif,” Zapp said. “Now, let's return to our ship; we've got work to do. Give two leaves and a small twig to every soldier.

“Why?” Kif groaned. The two of them returned to the Nimbus.

“Well, glad that's out of the way,” Bender said. “Now, can we go back to Earth, since Zapp decided to do the dirty work for us? Uh, Fry?”

Fry was lying on the floor unconscious. He had passed out from physical and mental exhaustion. Bender shook his head and set the autopilot to get them home. He then dragged Fry over to his room and threw him into a pile of trash near the bed.

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship, near Earth's orbit.

Fry woke up with a monster headache. His memory was blurry, and he wasn't sure how long he was out. He stumbled over to the bridge, and, to his surprise, saw Bender in the captain's chair.

“Bender?” he asked. “I had the weirdest dream... What the hell happened? And where's Leela?”

“Where's... what?” Bender paused for a moment. “What do you mean 'where's Leela'? Don't you remember what happened?”

Fry's eyes widened. “Oh my God, then it wasn't a dream! The aliens, the chase, her death, Zapp Brannigan showing up - it all really happened!”

“Yep,” Bender replied, downing a bottle of beer.

“Leela is...” Fry paused as the memory of the previous day sank in. “She's really dead, isn't she? What are we going to do now, Bender?”

“Gee, I don't know,” Bender replied. “I was thinking we get back to Earth, tell the Professor that we got Leela killed, and then go get boozed up.” He paused to think for a moment. “But first, we should dump the body before it really starts to stink up the place.”

“I'll go do that,” Fry said. “That way, at least I'll be able to say my final goodbye.”

Fry left the bridge and walked over to Leela's room. He paused in front of the door for a moment before entering, as if afraid of seeing what was inside. He then walked into the room and slowly uncovered Leela's body.

“I never thought I would see this day...” he whispered, a tear rolling down his cheek. “I'm sorry, Leela.”

He picked her up and gently held her in his arms, as if holding a child. He walked to the cargo bay, holding her tightly. He put her down, leaning her back against a wall, and sat down next to her.

“It's ironic, isn't it?” he said. “I told you to leave me alone, I wanted you to go away for good, and you did. You did leave me alone, Leela. No more heartache for me, huh? No more having to put up with your nagging, no more having my advances shot down, no more being told to work... It should be easy now, shouldn't it? I should feel better. I wanted you out of my life for good. What do I care if you're alive or not? I don't need to ever see you smile again. I don't need you to ever help me when I really need help. I don't need your company, your friendship, and your care. I don't want to be close to you. I don't want to just be with you. That's right, Leela, I'm glad you're dead, and I'm glad that I was the one who killed you.” He stood up and took into his arms again. “I'm sorry, Leela,” he said with complete sincerity. “I love you, and I'm sorry.” He prepared to eject her body out of the ship.

“Don't dump that corpse!” Bender yelled, running in. “Fry, I've got an idea! We might be able to bring Leela back!”

“I'm not in the mood for jokes, Bender,” Fry replied, “especially jokes that cruel.”

“No, I'm serious!” Bender replied. “Remember, when we came back from our last mission, the Professor mentioned something about being able to bring Leela back from the dead with one of his psychopathic inventions?”

Fry's face brightened up for the first time in days. “Hey, yeah!” he exclaimed. “It's a long shot, but it's worth a try! Thanks, Bender, you're a genius!”

“Damn right I am!” Bender proudly proclaimed. They went back to the bridge, and Fry sat Leela down in one of the chairs.

 

SCENE: Planet Express ship, fifteen minutes later.

“Hey, Bender,” Fry said, “I couldn't help but notice that you've been really caring, thoughtful, and helpful these last few days. You never used to act like this. What happened?”

“It's probably the lack of booze,” Bender replied. “I've barely had a drink since we left Earth, and I think I'm going crazy.”

“Well, don't worry,” Fry replied, “we're almost there. You can get drunk and return to your normal self again as soon as we're on the ground.”

“I did not need to be told that,” Bender retorted.

They entered Earth's orbit and approached the Planet Express building. With all the training Fry had in the recent days, he was able to land flawlessly. As soon as the ship opened, Bender ran out and went straight for his stash of alcoholic beverages. Fry walked out with Leela in his arms, just in time for the Professor, Hermes, Amy, and Dr. Zoidberg to enter the room.

“My God!” The Professor exclaimed, “What the hell did you do to the ship?”

“We had a slight detour,” Bender replied, holding three bottles of fortified wine.

“Is that Leela?” Hermes asked, seeing the body in Fry's arms. He took a closer look. “Sweet zombie Jesus, she's dead!”

“Fry did it!” Bender shouted.

“I can't believe it!” Hermes exclaimed. “Is this true, Fry?”

“Yeah,” Fry shamefully replied. “I'm the one who killed her. But I didn't want to do it! I had no choice, I swear!”

“Sure,” Zoidberg replied, “and I didn't want to kill my patient this morning either, but you don't hear me making excuses! What's done is done!”

“That's because you have no excuse, you filthy lobster!” Hermes scolded him. “All he had was a slight cold!”

“They sill didn't cure the common cold?” Fry asked.

“They cured that in 2136,” the Professor replied. “But soon afterward, the uncommon cold took its place, and it eventually became as common as the old common cold!”

“Look, Professor,” Fry said, getting back to the matter at hand, “can you bring Leela back?”

“Bringing people back from the dead?” the Professor asked. “Don't be ridiculous! The idea of bringing dead people back to life is absolutely preposterous!”

“But didn't you say you could do it?” Bender asked.

“Well, technically, I suppose I can,” the Professor replied, “but that would be extremely complicated, and I just don't have that kind of time.”

“Come on, Professor!” Fry urged him. “You have to do it! Think of it - you can prove once and for all that you are above the will of God, the natural cycle of life, basic morals, and common decency! Don't let those things beat you!”

“Follow me!” the Professor exclaimed.

They followed Professor Farnsworth into his underground laboratory, and he stopped in front of a particularly horrific machine. Fry laid Leela down on the slab, and the Professor started attaching numerous cables to various parts of her body.

“Put her into that tank!” he said once he was finished.

Fry carefully picked her up and placed her into a large transparent tank of green gelatinous goo.

“Now then,” the Professor continued, “I just have to adjust the machine to handle humans and set it to her DNA pattern. This should take a few minutes.

After nearly an hour of tinkering with the machine, the Professor finally stepped back.

“Eureka!” he proclaimed. “There, that should do it. Now then, all I need now is a head of a member of the same species.”

“So you'll have to kill and decapitate one of us?” Amy asked.

“Normally, yes,” the Professor replied, “but luckily, I found Gail Berman's head in a trashcan behind the Head Museum the other day. I know he's not exactly human, but neither is Leela, so it should be a close enough match.”

Everyone sighed in relief and urged the Professor to proceed with the experiment, and flipped the power switch. After waiting for a few minutes, he took Gail Berman's head out of its jar and placed it into a vat of boiling acid. The lights in the room dimmed, and the goo Leela was suspended in began to glow. The machine began to emit an unnerving humming noise.

“Are you sure this will work, Professor?” Fry asked in anticipation.

“No,” the Professor replied, “but we already got something good out of it, didn't we?”

“What if she comes back as some horrible mutation?” Amy asked.

“She's supposed to!” the Professor exclaimed.

“Oh, right,” Amy replied.

“Still, Professor,” Hermes said, “we're dealing with Gail Berman here. The probability of Leela coming back as some kind of horribly evil monster is very high.”

“Well, if that's the case,” Farnsworth replied, “then we'll just have to kill her and try again! Don't worry if it doesn't work on the first try; I have more FOX executives in the freezer.”

“Can't we use someone a bit less evil?” Fry asked. “Katey Sagal, maybe? I don't know; for some reason, I always saw this really weird connection between them.”

“That would be nice,” the Professor replied, “but it would be much harder to acquire the head of someone people actually care about.”

“Hey Professor, she's starting to move!” Amy exclaimed.

Professor Farnsworth rubbed his hands in anticipation and awaited the results eagerly. Suddenly, the cables that were attached to Leela fell off, and she opened her eye. The fluid inside the tank drained out, and Leela was spewed out onto the slab.

Fry rushed over to her and looked her over. “Leela!” he exclaimed. “Are you all right? Are you you?”

Leela rubbed her eye and looked around, disoriented. The first thing she saw was Fry's concerned face. She had trouble speaking for a few seconds. “Fry...?” she finally said.

“Oh, I'm so glad you're back!” Fry exclaimed. “You are back, right?”

“Y...yeah, I think,” she replied. “The last thing I remember is... Oh, no! What have I done?”

“Don't worry, Leela, it's fine now,” Fry replied, throwing his arms around her and hugging her tightly. “Everything is fine now.”

“Fry, please give me my clothes,” she said, still disoriented.

 

SCENE: Near the Planet Express building, later that evening.”

Fry and Leela stood just outside the door of the Planet Express building, holding each other's hands.

“I'm really sorry about everything, Leela,” Fry said. “I shouldn't have pushed you away the way I did; getting my wish made me realize that. I hope you can find it in your heart to give me a second chance.”

“I'll give you a second chance if you give me one,” Leela said, smiling. “We've both made mistakes, Fry. I mistreated you just as much you mistreated me, if not more.”

“Yeah,” Fry said. “We both turn away from each other far too often, simply because we are afraid of taking the fall.”

“Yeah, we do,” Leela replied. “But the fact is that we both care for each other deeply, and we always have, regardless of the circumstances. When push came to shove, we always came through for each other. You may not have realized this, but I truly do appreciate all the wonderful things you've ever done for me.”

Fry smiled. “You have no idea how happy I am to hear that,” he said.

“And I really admire what you've done back there when I was turned evil,” she continued. “I remember your efforts, and I remember everything you've said. I know you didn't mean to kill me, but you had no choice - I forgive you for that. You are an amazing friend, Fry.”

“So are you, Leela,” Fry replied, hugging her. “So are you.”

“Nobody knows what the future will bring,” Leela whispered, “but we will always care for one another deep inside, just as we always have. Let's never forget that, regardless of what happens between us.”

The two of them stood there in a tender embrace, their eyes closed. For the moment, nothing else mattered.

The end

Buddies