God this is my first piece of fanfiction I ever went through seriously... and it's just so messed up! Plus, I'm not the first to have my plot concept, it seems *glance at Rye Guy, Hil* Nah I'm kidding you both, I'm sure both of your fanfictions are fantastic. This one... is not. It's weird and makes no sense, but if you're willing to read it then I'm glad it isn't wasted effort.
Much, much, extremely much thanks goes to Luis and Robiben for helping me write this; both were great beta-readers and helped me out greatly on individual scenes and the entire plot. If either of you are reading this, just want you to know that you deserve a heck of a lot of credit for helping me with this. I DIDN'T FORGET ABOUT YOU BOTH!!
But I digress. Aw, hell, just start reading it already, if you're so into the author's note!
Leela knew that she and Fry were meant for each other, but she'd been too confused by her emotions to admit it so many times before. She'd hurt him so many times, and still felt she could never be forgiven. Of course he would forgive her, but she could not forgive herself for it.
The worst yet had happened after the fiasco at the Metropolitan House of Opera. After Fry played the end of his opera to his very best, she thought that maybe they would have a happy ending together as well. After all, the holograms he had created seemed so happy together...
Safe under the canopy of strange trees, twisted and fanned over into a vaulted ceiling, the rain could not penetrate and drench her. The dark storm clouds above were drizzling their alien precipitation on everything else. Some rows of chapel seats had been hastily arranged in the swampy mud, and Leela had taken her seat already. The wedding was under way.
Leela turned her one eye sadly to the place that Fry should have been sitting. She felt tears well up as she imagined him beside her, cheerful and alive. Nothing could bring the dead back, though, no amount of wishful thinking or mourning would make the slightest difference. They never even recovered the body; it must have been cremated and scattered by the wind. The accident had happened too fast, Leela regretted.
There were no goodbyes.
Kif took Amy's hands in his own. The Preacherbot raised his mechanical arms. "You may now kiss the bride."
The two pulled into a close embrace and pressed beak and lips together. The Wongs were crying; Kif's parents, brothers, and sisters, all Krokers, were crying; everyone was crying tears of happiness. Leela knew the ones that were streaking her face were anything but tears of joy.
An agonizingly long time passed. Leela began to fidget, her thoughts going back to the wedding that she'd divorced from during the time skips. It was all too familiar now, this very scene. With a bit of imagination, she was reliving that awful moment of confusion once more. She felt as though the bottom had dropped out of her stomach, because she felt cold and empty despite being bundled in several layers.
It was too much for her to watch them. Silently, save the squelching of her boots, she rose and left the makeshift church. Rain beat down on her and soaked her to the bone as she tried to find her way to the Planet Express ship, her transportation to this desolate wedding. In the wet haze, she spotted it, and broke into a clumsy run to avoid further abuse from nature.
It was already 10 am sharp when Leela made it to work. She stumbled through the main door, her single bloodshot eye rolling around madly as it tried to make sense of everything around her. The whole Planet Express building seemed distorted and spinning, which was not a good sign.
Amy, in her usual skimpy outfit, was working on the Planet Express ship's damaged weapons cockpit. Bender stood behind her carrying a toolbox and an unopened beer, which he eyed menacingly. Without turning around, she made a demand.
"Wrench!" Bender slapped the tool into her outstretched palm and she began cranking away.
Leela opened the door and sat down as quietly as possible in the conference room area. Bender's head swiveled around and let out a low whistle. "Look who's two hours late, it's our favorite one-eyed chumpette!"
Leela gave him a frosty glare. Her slurring speech formed one distinct word. "Shaddup."
"Spleesh, Leela, what's gotten into you lately? Is it that time of month for you, too?" Amy turned around and gave Leela a friendly wink, but that was lost on her as the drunken cyclops became enraged.
"You're so thick sometimes! All you care about is image, what's on the outside, the wrapping paper on the box! It's so hard not to but I wish I'd stopped doing that... it's too late! God damn it!" She stopped her ranting to find them staring at her. "Leave me alone!"
Amy finally looked away long enough to nudge Bender. "I think this is your cue to leave. Time for some girl talk, if you know what I mean."
Bender just rolled his eyes. "Listen, missy, I was a girl once too. I think I can handle this kind of stuff. What do you take me for, a dumb guy?"
Amy nodded. Bender shrugged and lowered himself down from the top of the ship with his extend-o-matic arms, after shoving the beer he'd been holding, as well as the toolbox, into his compartment. Amy slid down the nose of the ship and landed hard on both legs, looking just fine. She waited until the door shut behind the robot before speaking.
"What happened to you? You look awful, you're late, you -" Amy stopped to sniff Leela's breath. "Have you been drinking?"
"So what if I have?" Leela pouted. "Who're you to tell me what to do with my life?"
"I'm your friend. I care about you. In fact, I never told you this before, but I've always looked up to you like a role model. I don't want to see you beating yourself up like this... and over what? Fry's death?"
"Do you know what it's like," Leela began with a wistful frown, "to have what you've always been looking for right under your nose, but when you finally discover it, out of nowhere some stupid hover car crash kills him?"
"There, there, Leela... we all miss him. Now where's the reliable, bossy woman we know and love?" Amy patted Leela on the shoulder with the hand she was wearing her wedding ring on. It caught Leela's eye.
"That ring should be on my finger," Leela hissed. She turned away from Amy.
Amy huffed, pulling her hand away. "It could have been on your finger if you hadn't been such a zidiot and just accepted Fry for who he was! Even I did! He was a great guy, and it's your own fault that you missed out. Maybe next time you'll be luckier."
The slap that followed resounded in the otherwise empty hangar.
Amy rubbed her check, now decorated with a red hand mark, and only gave Leela a look of pity. A small watery glimmer shown at the edges of her eyes, to the untrained eye it was invisible. A single tear rolled down Amy's cheek.
Leela collapsed into her hands and just started sobbing. Amy fell back into a chair next to Leela and sighed. "Look, maybe you need some time off for the sake of your mental health."
Leela looked up and sniffled. Her eye now had a puffy redness around the edges to add on to the whole look of weakness. "I'm sorry! I can't believe I just did that, it was so selfish of me and rude and. I can't lose anyone else now, oh god... Amy, please forgive me!"
Amy grabbed Leela's arm tightly. "Listen, Leela, you are going to take a one-week vacation from work or I'm never going to speak to you again. Get it?"
Leela nodded weakly and Amy let go. She got up and started walking to hallway that led to the main door. Amy called out one last threat as Leela began to exit the room.
"One sip of alcohol and you are so busted!"
Leela picked up the toothbrush and began to put toothpaste on it. In front of her was her round bathroom mirror, which always reflected her empty bedroom in it through the bathroom's open door. Mirrors had never bothered her.
She brushed, minty whitish foam building up in her mouth on her teeth. It was her normal, daily routine. She'd go get some clothes on and be off to work before she knew it. Humming to herself, she finished and spat out the toothpaste and saliva. Then she shifted her gaze from herself... to the room behind her.
There, in the mirror, was Fry. He was smiling at her, sitting at the edge of her bed and watching her as though she'd left him for a moment and he was waiting for her to come back. It was highly unnerving, but totally realistic. A shiver ran down her spine.
When she turned around, there was nobody in her bedroom. She let out a shaky breath, confused. My mind is playing tricks on me, that's all. I'm just tired. There's nothing wrong...
She turned back to the mirror. Fry wasn't on the bed any more; he was standing sorrowfully in the doorway, leaning against the frame. His face was no longer smiling and bright, it had turned upset, frowning, almost scared for her. He never moved from where he was, but she could clearly see his chest rising and falling, and his eyes blink once in a while. The perfect illusion of the man she loved and lost. Too perfect.
She turned around again. Nobody there. God, this is getting weird, she thought to herself, maybe I should just... stop trying to look. He's clearly upset about something. Maybe he knows I can see him and he doesn't want me to.
She gripped the counter that the sink was embedded in with the palm of both hands, still facing the doorway as if Fry would materialize for her. For the longest time, she waited, her eye rolling in every direction and her heart pounding in her chest. Where was he?
Finally, she gathered up her courage. She was going to look at the mirror again. If it wasn't real, it couldn't hurt her. Especially the image of a dead lover. Why would Fry harm her? She spun on her heels and looked.
There he was, behind her. One hand was wavering unsteadily above her reflection's right shoulder. She began to turn her head, adrenaline pumping through her veins and curiosity overruling her caution, but stopped herself. She felt something touch her shoulder, lightly, and screamed.
Her fear got the better of her. She whirled around and came face-to-face with Fry, still screaming, tears of panic streaking her face. She was practically eye-to-eyes with him, hers widened in horror, his narrowed with malice glinting in them. Then something sickening began to happen; Fry's skin was peeling and rotting away as though he were being fast-forwarded past the end of his life. Dark blood dripped from his now-eyeless sockets and various cuts. It pooled in his mouth and covered his bruised hands. Bones cracked as he moved them, hair was thinning and whitening, bony fingers reached to grab her around the neck. She did the only thing her mind would let her do, and that was to turn around again. As she did, the cold lifeless fingers closed around the back of her neck, and her breathing became rapid and fluttering.
She saw, through the reflection, him moving his jaw, speaking with vocal cords so wasted away it was like reeds rubbing together in the wind. The mirror in front of her shattered.
Glass flew everywhere. The shards whistled past her head, some narrowly avoiding her skin. Each piece was still reflecting the zombie behind her. One final shard was tossing through the air, one with a shape like an arrowhead. As it pierced her heart, she heard the long-dead and real voice of Fry, faraway, calling to her. Calling something she hoped she'd never hear.
"Your time is almost up!"
Leela opened her eye suddenly, feeling a rush of fear subside. She felt like shit. Empty pizza boxes, soda cans, Starfishbucks coffee cups, half-finished Chinese take-out cartons, and a scraped-clean gallon of ice cream littered her floor. She's been sleeping splayed out over the couch with her head on the carpet, hair falling everywhere. Her head was pounding.
Better find some aspirin, she thought to herself, and more coffee.
She'd stayed home from work for almost a week now; doubtless it had been bad for her physical health to be eating greasy food, but she felt a lot better now that she'd had time to think about what had happened only weeks ago.
Nibbler bounded into the room, chattering nonsensically. He stopped to sniff one of the big cardboard pizza boxes, and then opened his mouth wide.
"Nibbler, no! The doctor said you had too much fiber in your -" She winced as he chewed and swallowed, "diet."
She rubbed her temples with both hands and entered the bathroom to wash up. As she did so, she was struck with déjà vu. Fry had appeared in her dreams as a zombie, sneaking up behind her in that mirror each time she tried to look for him. She felt a cold presence in the room with her, but shrugged it off.
I'm being paranoid, she chided herself, trying to feel reassured, nothing's going to just... sneak up on me.
She splashed some cold water on her face to wake herself up and dried it off with a nearby towel. Aloud, to Nibbler, she began to talk as she headed back into the living room. "Nibbler, I'm gonna go out for a walk. I'll be back by lunch to feed you, if you don't demolish all this garbage first."
Leela pulled her lime-green coat out of her closet and put it on over her tank top, zipping it up all the way. She needed a long time to think today.
Flames licked up the sides of the hover car. The crackling was loud to her newly repaired ears. Leela shielded her eye from the blinding light, struggling to move. She ran her hand around until she found she was being constricted by a seatbelt, and unbuckled it shortly.
There was broken glass everywhere. It was littered all over the floor and dashboard, even some in her lap that glinted from the fire. She didn't know how long she'd been unconscious, or how much air was left in the spacecraft. She began to pound on the door next to her, but it wouldn't budge. Disbelieving, she turned to Fry for help.
"Fry, help me get this - AAAH!"
Next to her, Fry was clearly not able to help open her door. He was lolling in his seatbelt with blood running from glass cuts all over. The firelight made him seem alive, but she could see by his closed eyes and still chest that he couldn't possibly be.
I couldn't have done anything.
Her vision going blurry with tears, she fiddled with his seatbelt buckle. Her fingers wouldn't do what she wanted; he stayed locked in. She refused to believe he was dead. He had to be sleeping. Yes, that was it; he'd just been knocked out. If only she could wake him up...
Sobbing, she threw her arms around his body, her head rested on his shoulder. Time was meaningless now. The end would probably come soon for her as well.
Fry wouldn't have wanted me to die.
Leela lifted her head after what felt like hours of crying and whispering comforting words to deaf ears. The flames had begun to encircle the hover car. If they got to the gas tank, it would all be over. She began to feel fear. A painful end to her life was almost upon her. She let go of her dead friend and relentlessly started to smash out the window, her only way to escape an obliterating end.
The glass finally gave way and left her a hole big enough to escape through. She gave one last look behind her, unsure of whether she should have seen it in the first place. Then, swiftly, she went through the hole and to safety some blocks away.
Nothing can bring the dead back.
It was the loudest explosion she had ever heard.
The pitter-patter of mildly acidic rain against the awnings of various buildings coupled with the splashing of puddles and honking of traffic, were comforting noises. Leela suspected that she'd be scared if the city became quiet, instead of relieved. New New York was always vibrantly full of human, alien, and robotic life, and the only place Leela had ever grown up in.
Her umbrella was back in her apartment room. She preferred the feeling of the cold water on her skin, especially since her mutant heritage protected her from being burned by it. Humanity had overcome pollution.
There was a coffee shop a few blocks away that had opened recently; she hoped she could drop by it sometime to get breakfast, hopefully on a day off of work so she wouldn't be rushing. Her footsteps were so quiet she wondered if she was really walking at all.
Soon she was immersed in thought. Her head was turned down so that she couldn't even see where she was going, but she was coordinated enough not to trip or walk into the busy street. Once or twice she was bustled by a rushing tourist or alien, but that was the extent of it. She practically didn't look up when she ran smack into someone who was coming down the street.
"Oh, sorry," she apologized quietly.
"No problem," the man she ran into reassured her. He moved to get around her. That voice is familiar...
She turned around in time to see a blur of color turn a corner into an alleyway. "Wait!"
Whoever she had run into didn't stop. She sprang into action, running as fast as she could to catch up with him, only to discover that he was around another corner on the other side of the alley. Confused, she made it to the other side and looked both ways.
There he was, waving down a taxi. Her eye widened in surprise as she him turn his face in her direction.
He froze, his eyes filled with fear at hearing his own name. Leela took slow but sure steps toward him, squinting. I don't believe my eye.
She was only a few feet from him when he took an uneasy step backward and almost plunged into oncoming traffic. Her hand shot out and grabbed his wrist, leaving him teetering at the edge of the sidewalk. His expression of relief was only momentary.
"I watched you die, Fry. I saw the hover car explode with you in it."
There was a long silence. Fry continued to dangle between her and the oncoming cars. She could see the acid rain trickling down his face and leaving small burn lines, as well as seeing the numerous white scars where glass had ripped apart his skin. He looked extremely wound up from something; his muscles tensed and his face was becoming hard and unemotional.
"Wait, give me a chance to explain, please."
"How are you going to explain this to me? Do you think I'm stupid? Did you think this was funny? Have you any idea how much grief you put me through, not to mention everyone else you knew?"
He opened his mouth to speak when he was interrupted by a ringing noise. In his jacket pocket was a cell phone, which he grabbed and made to open. Leela hoisted him back onto the sidewalk and snatched the phone, while still holding Fry's arm in a tight grip. It flipped open to a video screen. She narrowed her eye suspiciously as she peered at it.