Delicious Surprise, Part 15
See part one for disclaimers!
This chapter is purposefully shorter than the others, leading to a whopper in the follow-up.
The family re-convened in the Planet Express Lounge. Dania sat cosseted between her parents, Kif gently fussing over her. Lilah sat on the couch's arm, next to Dwight. Hermes had been roused from his office, and sat beside Zoidberg, who watched with detached fascination as Bender and Angelyne flirted.
Then all concentrated their attention toward the break room table, where Leela and Fry had a strangely humble Zapp Brannigan cornered.
"Talk," Leela spat.
Zapp smiled awkwardly. "You and Fry cleaned the place up. It's almost as sexy as my lovenasium in here. What kind of fabric is this chair done in, velour?"
Fry glared at Zapp. "Tell me why you're alive," he said bluntly.
"I escaped. I had to live. I swear that I did nothing wrong in the first place!"
Leela bristled. "You had how many people killed, Zapp? How many is it now? I can't remember."
"A billion. But that's only if you don't count the unborn." Zapp shrank beneath their icy glares. "I didn't mean for all of them to die! They were collateral damage!"
"Well, Zapp. Now's your chance. Tell them. Tell them everything." Leela gestured towards her puzzled children.
Zapp smiled ingratiatingly at Lilah. "Hello, little girl. You'll be legal in what, a year?"
Leela dove across the table, seizing Zapp by the collar. His grin faded. "Don't even think of it!"
She released him roughly, nearly throwing him off his chair. Righting himself and smoothing his clothes, he turned to Leela.
"I think it's your job."
Leela groaned, realizing that she had no option but to simply tell her tale.
As Lilah watched her keenly, her mother was once again startled at how much she looked like Fry. Leela was usually the only one to notice, as even her husband insisted that Lilah resembled her. But the eagerness was all Fry's...an innocence she didn't want to crush with dark words.
"It started a week after X-Mas, on New Year's Day in the year 3006..."
She had begun by waylaying the DOOP forces patrolling the sewers. They would awake on the surface with intense headaches and stripped of their weapons. Their officers blamed it on too much shore leave, and the mutants had twenty-four hours to move to a safer region.
Leela knew that the best option for her fellow mutants' survival would be to move them further beneath the surface, into the ruins of Old New York. There wasn't any video surveillance there; at least she believed there wasn't.
Late on a freezing mid-January night, Leela slipped into the sewers, and through the darkness led over two hundred mutants to safety. Less than a hundred holdouts remained in their homes. The following evening, they were slaughtered and burned, leaving the place a ghost town.
She had tried to keep these activities quiet; Fry knew that she was visiting her parents, but not the extent of her deeds. Through Zoidberg, she had provided them medical supplies, and had purchased food supplies with her own savings. The media, DOOP-controlled as they were, had been reduced to transforming themselves into scandal rags. Their readers seemed not to notice that the mutant population was rapidly shrinking. They had been trained, in fact, not to care.
Leela was utterly focused on two goals: keeping her parents and race safe from Zapp's aggression, and conceiving a child with Fry. Everything else received perfunctory attention. Her job meandered along on auto-pilot. She protected Fry and Bender from everyday hazards as usual, but absentmindedly.
Fry was occupied with something more immediate: Valentine's Day. He hoped that they would have better luck on such a special day, as their efforts thus far hadn't been successful.
He went all out that night; reserved a table at Tavern on the Brown, planned to walk with her under the stars in Central Park, and had arranged for Bender to disappear for the evening. When the night finally came, she was beautiful but distracted.
"What's going on, Leel?" he asked, as she nibbled her greens gingerly.
"Huh? Oh, I've been a little off lately..."
"Yeah, I feel sort of sick-"
Fry's eyes widened. "Oh man! Do you think you-we? Ohmigod!"
Leela smiled sadly. "I took a test last week and it came up negative."
She nodded. "I don't know." She took his hand. "I just think I'm nervous."
"Oh," he nodded. "Because-"
He didn't dare say it out loud, but both of them knew that she had been constantly concerned for her mutant family. Zapp's activity in the sewers had gone oddly quiet, almost as though he believed that his mission had been successful. Whatever that mission was...
Leela took her husband's hand with a small smile. Dancing had become a wonderful way to release the fear she carried inside daily, and the two of them had gone out to clubs every weekend. To Fry, it was a last hurrah for their time together as responsibility-free newlyweds, but for Leela it was a desperate attempt to escape what was going on down in the sewers.
His embrace enfolded her gently. She rested her weight against his body.
"If - something - ever happens to me...I want you to know that I'm glad I finally listened to you."
He gave her a strange look. "Leel, nothing's ever gonna happen to you! You're too tough. 'Sides, I need you to save me."
"You could take care of yourself." She kissed his cheek and went on, soberly. "I just wanted you to know you were right. I wish I'd seen that we would be good for each other sooner.
"Oh yeah? Like when?"
She thought a moment. "After Valentine's Day. A guy doesn't risk his life for another for no reason." She smiled ruefully. "The world was sending me all kinds of hints, wasn't it? Universe one. Nearly dying from that bee sting." She shook her head. "I'm not a very good listener."
"You listen to me when I need you," he reminded her. He rested his chin against her shoulder. "It's been three years almost. I didn't think you'd give me two months."
She grinned. "Oh, now you're the one underestimating me."
"Dip me, Fry."
And the world became a mass of green leaves and red hair.
She stirred to life at four in the morning.
He slept innocently, despite the wicked things they had done that evening. Leela smiled to herself at the memory and settled back down for some more sleep.
A red beam drew a bead on her chest.
"GET UP!" a deep, heavy voice barked. Eye constantly searching for an escape, Leela held her hands out and rolled to her stomach on the floor.
"Whatth? Leela, what's happening."
"I don't know!" Leela felt restraints being slapped onto her wrists, and she instantly regretted her decision to lie quietly. A swift kick to his nethers dispatched the man who had bound her.
"Don't do it, ma'am!" The red dot reappeared, this time between Fry's eyes.
She allowed her hands to go limp, keeping her expressionless gaze trained on them for clues as to where they were from and what they were after.
The man's partner stepped into the moonlight streaming through the window. Leela realized that the broad-chested robot was a DOOP officer.
"What did I do wrong?"
His voice was an emotionless monotone. "We have orders from President Brannigan to bring you to Washington for trial."
"You've been named as a rebel against the Order."
"I didn't do anything against the DOOP!"
"This says differently."
As they hauled Leela to her feet, she noticed that the second officer was holding a digital copy of the morning paper. Her eye glazed with tears as she read the headline:
Fallen Earth Hero Leela Aids in Mutant Extermination!
"Didn't you know we have cameras everywhere? You make me sick, lady," the officer snapped, shoving her out of the bedroom and toward the front door.
"Fry!" she called over her shoulder
"Leela! I'll help you out, I promise!"
She reached for him, but her arms were clamped viciously behind her back. Her expression and the love in her eyes spoke for her.
And Fry was left alone in the doorway, helpless and without comfort.
"Someone knew what you were doing."
Leela touched the tips of her daughter's fingers. "I should have realized that there would be more cameras. I thought I had checked everything out before I moved my family down to Old New York."
Zapp smiled blandly. "You left out the best part, my sexy Cyclops! They dragged you outside in your underthings. The pictures my officers sent back to me got me through those cold, lonely nights during the-"
Leela's kick was lightening-fast. In a flash, Zapp was on the floor, doubled over in pain. Leela returned to her seat and slowly regained her composure before continuing the story.