Delicious Surprise, Part 13
See part one for disclaimers!
Leela heaved a sigh as she greased Zoidberg's head. "Hold still," she insisted.
"No! My Uncle Irvin died like this! I won't let you boil me alive!"
"Zoidberg, if we were going to boil you, we would have done it a long time ago!" Leela pointed out.
"Yeah, like that time you used my toothbrush without asking," Fry said.
"What?" Amy wondered.
"To brush his claws. His LOWER claws."
"My feet were filthy! The claw polish does nothing. NOTHING!"
Leela grunted as she gave Zoidberg's lower half a mighty tug. Despite her strength, she lost her grip and tumbled backward, and Zoidberg remained tightly wedged.
"My worst fear is coming to life!"
"Being stuck in a small place?" Leela asked.
"Not being able to go to the bathroom?" Amy asked.
"No! Zoidberg can't eat!"
"Er-um...I think I may be of assistance," Kif offered.
"How are you gonna do that, Kif?" Amy asked. "You're just a squishy guy whose body's made mostly out of a system of bladders... hey! I think you've got something."
As Kif slithered into the pipe beside Zoidberg, Leela fetched herself another cup of coffee.
"Hey Kif...did I ever tell you about the time me and Leela met Amy on the moon?"
"You mean right before you decided to have Lilah?" Amy interrupted.
"Spluh! You kept hyperventilating whenever Leela said the word 'baby'. She called you baby once and you choked on a hard candy! Then I think Zoidberg ate it."
"Uh-yeah. Anyway, Zapp was just sworn into office as Earth's president..."
"...It's FASTCar season, Fry. Why on Jupiter would I want to watch Zapp get sworn in?"
Fry stared blankly at his wife and her getup. Leela had always been a speed demon, but Fry had never pegged his wife as the FASTCar type.
"Uh well...you guys did do the bouncy mcbouncebounce..."
"So?" She tucked a FASTCar baseball cap down tightly over her hair. "Zapp was the worst lover I've ever had. The WORST."
"Oh yeah?" he smiled slyly. "Was I the best?"
"No, Sean was. But you're a solid second!"
Fry groaned, then, glancing at the printouts in Leela's hand, asked, "That's a lot of tickets. Who're you going to try to get to come with us?"
"Probably Zoidberg and Bender; Hermes is busy, of course, and the Professor is in his Angry Dome..."
"...He's not too happy that we lost that delivery of Nutria-Bars over New Florida this morning, is he?"
"Yeah. We'll never get a return-deposit on those." She pointed out playfully.
The phone rang suddenly, and Leela rushed over to answer it.
"Leela!" the familiar face of Amaryllis Wong piped.
"Amy, how are you? I haven't heard from you since X-Mas!"
"Oh, I'm stellar. I heard from Kiffy that Zapp was elected Earth President; real bummer."
"Oh yeah. Uh, Fry and I have an...'appointment'... for the afternoon, and we have to be go-"
"-Anyhoo, I'm in the Milky Way for the next few hours; think you could swing by the moon for a little picnic?"
"Picnic?" muttered Leela.
"There's someone I'd like you guys to meet."
"Meet?" Fry tried to mask his stunned expression, but Leela could not. As far as she knew, Kif and Amy were still together. True, it had been two long years, in which Amy had traveled a thousand universes and Kif pretended to approve of Zapp's beliefs, but they had remained in frequent contact. Why would Amy dump Kif?
"Okay, we'll be there as soon as we can." Leela shot Fry a dumbfounded look as she hung the phone up.
"Something's not right."
Leela nodded her agreement. "Amy's done something, but I can't figure out - what - "
"Better go find out."
She nodded. "Goodbye FASTCar."
"Waitaminute!" Bender poked his head in from the kitchen area. "Gimmie those!"
"Sure. We were going to ask you to come, anyway." She handed the tickets to Bender before she and Fry made their way to the PE Ship.
"Heh heh," laughed Bender to himself. When they were out of earshot, he called, "Oh, Zoidberg?"
"What? The parasites in the egg salad are causing horrible stomach cramps? Yay, Zoidberg will get to operate!"
"Nah; Wanna come to a FASTCar thing with me?"
"Of course, my friend! Zoidberg is the ultimate FASTCar enthusiast!" Confusion clouded his expression. "What's a FASTCar?"
"You got 500 on ya?"
Zoidberg pulled a clawful of objects from his pocket. A few clattered to the floor: tin soda-pop rings. "Reveal all to Zoidberg!"
Bender smirked, wrapping an arm around his friend's shoulders. "Zoidberg, my friend, it's time I taught ya the fine art of scalpin'..."
After two hours of combing the surface of the moon, Leela and Fry couldn't locate Amy. Somewhat distressed, they left the amusement park and followed their instincts, landing outside of the park's structure. Leela was reminded of her adventures with Fry on the Moon's surface years before and had to laugh to herself; this time, with years of understanding between them, she felt a sense of comfort in his eccentric love of the stark landscape.
"One small step for man," he uttered, making his careful way onto the chalky surface. "One tiny leap for mankind."
"You're about the sixty millionth leaper, Fry."
She sighed dramatically, giving her husband the once-over. "I wonder where Amy is."
"Maybe we shouldn't worry about her now."
Leela smiled. "Uh-huh." She wrapped her arm around Fry's waist, and he did likewise with her. "It's peaceful out here. I understand why you wanted to see it like this now."
Fry nodded. "It makes me want to-"
" - To - ?" she asked seductively.
The helmets of their space suits clinked together, preempting their kiss and causing a chorus of laughter.
"Oww!" Fry rubbed his nose.
"I should have known better," Leela sighed.
Fry smirked. "I can't help it if you go to my head, Leel."
She patted his back. "You know, Fry, I meant to ask you-"
Her communicator began to beep, and, as if by the magic of prediction, Amy appeared on the screen.
"Leela! Are you lost?"
"No! We looked all over the park for the two of you and - "
"Spluh! We're in the picnic area!"
"Behind Dr. Mopsy's Vomit Comet and the new Boulder Palladium!"
She gave Fry an odd look. "Didn't we just pass by there?"
"Yeah, but I didn't see anyone who looked like Amy; just a huge bodybuilder guy with a pink blanket-"
"Bodybuilder guy?" Fry nodded. "We'll be right there," Leela concluded.
"But I wanted to-"
"Later. We've still got things to talk about, but later."
Fifteen minutes afterward, Leela and Fry had paid double for re-admittance to the park. Frazzled as they were, they still found the picnicking area quickly this time.
Amy looked good for her hiatus; a bit older, more mature, but highly polished, in a revealing pink sundress. She embraced Leela, and smiled.
"Guys, this is my boyfriend..."
But Leela had already recognized the man her friend was dating.
"-And that's how I became an alligator wrestler."
Leela ate her carrot stick with an expression of boredom. Zombie Jesus, why had she once liked Sean so much? Viewing him from the other side of the blanket, he seemed a boring blowhard.
Fry, however, had a twitching eye and a glare of jealousy fixed upon his face. Leela masked her smile, amused that he would actually think that, once won, she could be so easily lost. Sure, Sean was buff, with a thick head of blond hair, and had an exciting job wrestling space alligators at the zoo on Jupiter 12. But her true love remained Fry.
"But enough about me, Leela. How's the marriage doing?"
"Oh, Fry and I are doing just fine. We're still working together for Planet Express, been married two years, and we're planning on having kids."
"Oh yeah," Sean smirked. "You were always talking about that. Yackity yack."
Leela glared at him. "Soon. Very soon. In fact, we're going to start trying tonight!"
Fry choked on a mouthful of potato salad. "HUH?!"
"Oh sure, Leela," Sean laughed. "You're such a procrastinator."
"Yeah, well, it would've been you, but you were too interested in your STAMP collection."
He winced. "You know how much they mean to me! They're MY children! And at least I don't need to change THEIR diapers!"
Leela scoffed. "Oh yes. We just had to run all the way to Planet Philately to get that stamp of Queen Elizabeth's head printed upside down!"
"Upside down? Who would want junk like that?" Amy asked.
"It's worth 500 dollars," Sean snapped.
"Uh-Leela; I think we need to go powder our noses..." Amy said, getting up from her place on the cloth.
"Oh yeah - mine is a bit shiny."
As the women retreated, Sean spoke to Fry.
"Boy, Leela's a lousy cook. I remember when I would sleep over at her place, and the only thing she could make was wheatgrass pancakes! Bleah! I bet you do most of the cooking at home, right boy?"
"How dare you talk about my wife's pancakes!! You jerk!"
Seconds after they slipped into the restroom, Leela blurted out, "Okay, spill it."
Amy cursed quietly in Martian, and tried to hold the stall closed with her toes. "I can't think while I go, Leela!"
Leela abandoned her lipstick and jammed the door firmly closed with her elbow. "Fine." She waited for Amy to try the stall again before saying, "I'm not letting you out until you tell me why you dumped Kif!"
"What?! Leela, I totally didn't dump Kif!"
"Bull! I know for a fact he would never have dumped you!"
"Stupid non-working laser locks! Leela, there's a huge space cockroach trying to crawl under the stall!"
"Woops," came a voice from the adjoining stall. "Sorry. Say, can I have some of your tissue? I'm out of it here."
A roll of white flashed over the top of the stall.
"Kif didn't dump you?" Leela whispered.
"No!" Amy whispered back. "He said something about having to keep me safe...that whatever Zapp was doing, it was too dangerous for me to be involved. He CRIED when we broke up, Leela."
Leela held her breathing steady. "Is that why you asked to meet us?"
"Yes! But you can't tell anyone, Leela. I swore to Kif that I would try to stay safe, and I promised him that I'd try to keep everyone we love safe, too."
"Then why Sean?"
"Spleck! I don't care about him! He could be smashed into vapors for all I care! I just got his name out of your black book, when you threw it away."
Leela's pride puffed a bit.
"...It was, like, the only name there!"
..And was swiftly squashed.
"What's going on, Amy? What's going to happen?"
"I wish I knew, but Kif wouldn't tell me. He just said-"
" - What?"
"That Zapp was going to appoint him to his cabinet. And that it was best for us all to stay safe. That's why I'm coming back to Earth with you and Fry tonight."
"Okay." Leela released her grip on the stall's door, allowing Amy to emerge into the restroom. The two friends busily went back to applying their lipstick, waiting for the cockroach woman to leave. When she did (with a hearty sigh), Leela continued.
"Fry and I will help any way we can."
Amy smiled grimly. "I don't think any of us can do anything."
"Amy, please, just tell me-"
"It's not anything I know. I just feel something, Leela..."
"Okay..." She hugged her friend. "Let's not talk about it, we'll just go back out and check the boys."
Leela wasn't surprised to notice that Fry was losing, badly, at thumb wrestling when she and Amy re-emerged. It was bright purple and he was gasping in pain. She intervened.
"Okay, fellas, break it up." Sean frowned, releasing Fry.
"No wait! I declare another thumb war!" cried Fry.
"Sorry, Fry." Leela kissed her husband's cheek. "We need to get back to Earth."
"Uh - yeah," Amy agreed, collecting her pocketbook. "I had a lot of fun, Sean, but I think we should start seeing other people."
"But this is our first date!"
"Spleesh! And you're smothering me already!"
That evening, Leela stood alone on the roof of the Planet Express Building, watching the stars again. Inside, Doctor Zoidberg regaled Amy and Fry with tales of his time at the FASTCar event.
"...And then Earnhardt the Four Hundreth took a hairpin turn! His car careened wildly into the audience before exploding in a hail of sparks! Oy! Whatta mess!"
"Did you get any souvenirs?" Amy wondered.
"I suppose, if you count this as a souvenir." He held out something red and shiny.
"Uh, Zoidberg - that's a kidney."
A pause. "Ah, then Zoidberg will feast tonight! Anyone want a slice, why not?"
"Eeew!" Amy cried.
"How did you do, Bender?" Fry wondered.
"Eh, I lost a hundred bucks on bad bets, but at least I found a new - ah - friend."
"Bender, are you talking about me?"
"Hush, my love."
"Bender, is that a dipstick?" the Professor asked.
"Hey, don't make fun of her mother in front of her! She's very sensitive!"
Leela smiled to herself, her tension somewhat eased by the laughter wafting up the stairs. A pair of red-clad arms wrapping themselves around her waist, for once, didn't cause even a slight surge of panic.
"Nice night." Fry nibbled her neck before resting his mouth against her earlobe.
"It is," she agreed. "Fry, I know I went too far, saying we'd try to start a baby tonight. But, well, one of my ex-lovers is President of Earth, and when I saw Sean today, I kind of went a little crazy... It just seems like everyone else has gotten to their goals, and I'm only half-way. No offense."
"S'OK." He let silence rest between them before continuing. "You know, what do you think about it? You and me, and a baby?"
She turned, looking into his eyes. "Fry, are you joking?"
He shook his head. "Nah; I mean, I don't want to wait around for something else to happen, you know? Zapp's the president. Who knows if we'll even be here tomorrow. We have to think a little bit about what comes later, and I suck at that, so you're gonna have to help me."
Her grip tightened on his shoulder. "Don't say that, Fry."
"It's true! He destroyed a whole ship, and the only thing he can do really well is lead a bunch of troops off a cliff. I saw that in a newsreel."
"But - tonight? You and me?"
He took her hand. "You and me. How fast can you get us home?"
She smirked. "The speed of sound fast enough for you?"
Fry could barely contain a triumphant 'yes' as they headed toward the door.
"Could you please stop talking about lovemaking?" Kif begged.
"Are you embarrassed?"
"No, every time I giggle, I lose air!"
Amy and Fry remained quiet, watching the metal of the pipe bulge with each exhalation. Suddenly, the metal fixings exploded, revealing a puffed-up Kif and a panting Zoidberg.
"Freedom! Sweet freedom! Zoidberg can taste the air!" He picked up Kif, planting an exuberant kiss on the alien's cheek before he grabbed Fry by his jacket. "The loons, my friend! Can you hear the loons?"
"You're crushing me!"
Zoidberg released him. "And now to write my name in the ash!" He skittered over to a door, "Wub-wub"-ing all the way.
"Want to tell him the door is jammed?" Amy asked sardonically.
Leela re-entered the room as Zoidberg skittered back in a panic. "Friends! The door is stuck!"
"We know that, Zoidberg."
"Why didn't you tell him?" Leela asked Fry, who shrugged.
"Meh," they uttered together.
"Good news, everymon!" announced Hermes. This was met with varying degrees of enthusiasm. "Anyone want to ask what it is?"
"You called Dwight and he's coming with the plow?" Leela asked.
"How did you know?"
"Dunno," Amy said. "'Cause you're easy to predict?"
"What? That's an insult, Mon! I'm gonna go to my office and-"
"-sort the file cards," the rest of the crew concluded.
Hermes stomped out, and a brief silence filled the air. It was disrupted by the sound of a laser firing in the distance.
A glance out the window set Amy to cheering. "Here comes Dwight!"
The majestically huge ash laser plowed through the drifts in front of the building. Suddenly, the door was free, and it burst open. Zoidberg rushed out into the ash, followed by Fry and the others, leaping out to taste the sweet air of freedom.
"Thank you, Dwight; your dad's inside," Leela called.
But the person standing before them was clearly not the athletic son of Hermes Conrad. With a sigh, he removed his mask.
"No!" Leela whispered.
Fry rushed back to her, taking the steps two at a time, then whirled to face their erstwhile rescuer.
Standing before them, a ragged and dispirited Zapp Brannigan said nothing, but stood among the ash drifts, forlorn.