Delicious Surprise, Part 6
Disclaimers in part one!
The story will now include a couple of canonical elements used in "The Devil's Hands..." and "Bend Her". This doesn't effect the trajectory of the story, but will add to it.
Rating goes up this chapter, for violent content.
Lilah came awake with a snort, then rubbed the back of her head, realizing that she had dozed off and banged her head against a wall.
Bender stomped over to her, opening his chest plate. A flood of pre-packaged snacks and cans of Slurm rolled onto the bench between them.
She stared for a moment before ripping into a bag of Times-Standard Choritos, otherwise known to her mother as "re-processed Mexican-flavored newspaper clippings".
"How did you pay for all of this stuff?" she wondered. "You didn't steal it, did you?"
"Nah," Bender glanced at his hand. "Besides, the three-finger discount don't count as stealing."
"How's that so?" She eyed him suspiciously.
"I negotiated with the vending machine. It was easy to get a lot of crap because....uh... my...uh...fellow robot..." She clearly wasn't buying it. "You wanna starve?" He glared.
She shook her head. "No, it's okay. I'll pay for it somehow."
Bender shrugged, sitting down beside Lilah with a bottle of Pennzoil Small Batch. The young woman continued her snack, feeding Nibbler a few tidbits. As they finished their meal, the Professor woke.
"Professor Farnsworth?" Lilah asked, rushing to sit in front of the pedestal.
He grunted, eyes bleary. "Yes, yes, who the robot devil wants me?"
"Good lord, Leela, what happened to you?" he goggled. "Oh, it's you, Lilah. What do you want?"
She was relieved he finally recognized her. Over the years since his 'retirement', the professor had become slightly more senile. Calling Fry his nephew was a serious error. As far as she knew, it was the other way around. Knowing Farnsworth, he probably wanted to forget.
"Uh, remember? You were going to tell me why my mother's afraid to fly."
"Leela's afraid to..."
"Yes! We've already gone over that!"
Farnsworth glared at her. "Very well. Since I have nothing to do until they clean my jar, we might well discuss what happened to your mother before your birth." His gaze shifted to Bender. "Get out those surveillance discs!"
Bender grumbled. "You said you wasn't gonna save those!"
"I said a lot of things when I had a body! I didn't have a high-tech security surveillance system installed in your antenna while you slept for no reason!"
Bender grumbled, reaching behind the pedestal and pressing a button. The veneer opened, revealing three discs, all of which were labeled "Planet Express Security Cameras, Version: Bender." Bender selected the disc marked "3000-3010"
"Fast forward to XMas Eve, 3003." Instructed the Professor.
Bender opened his mouth and a tray slid out. He dropped the disc into it, and it retracted.
"It all began one fateful day...a magical, happy day filled with bloodshed, violence and media sensationalism!"
"My mom? Media sensationalism?!"
"Don't interrupt! Yes, a happy, magical day..." He paused for dramatic effect, and his eyes lit, projecting an image onto the wall before them.
"But I want to hear..."
"The day your mother killed the Robot Santa!"
Lilah gasped, the sound of her shock drowned out by the sound of her own heart beating as the footage continued.
Leela moodily arranged a bowl of holly on a table in the Planet Express reception area. While the men in their circle of friends were obliviously happy, she and Amy felt rather low.
Amy's problems were, as usual, of the romantic sort. Kif couldn't get away from DOOP over the holidays, something Amy considered a major tragedy. Since Zapp needed Kif back on the Nimbus, Amy would have to jet off alone on XMas day for Mars and face the rest of the Wong clan on her own.
Parents were Leela's problem as well; she hadn't been able to secure a day pass for Munda and Morris. It seemed unfair that their first holiday as a real family would be spent apart.
Well, there was a good side to things; she would be able to spend the entire day with Fry. She watched him smile happily to himself as he helped the professor decorate the mantle. She set aside her disappointment, realizing that she should be grateful to have her boyfriend.
It still felt funny, thinking of Fry that way. But they had been seeing one another steadily for six months, and she hadn't developed an interest in anyone else. She hadn't been this interested in a man since Sean. Her eyes narrowed as she thought of how they had broken up, how relationships could be so temporal...
She jumped when he wrapped an arm around her waist. Fry winced as her elbow landed in his side.
"Sorry!" she blurted. "It was just my reflexes."
"Tell my liver that!" Fry gasped.
"I can get you a new one, if you need," Zoidberg interjected from across the room.
Leela rubbed Fry's stomach gently. "Is that better?"
"Yeah. You don't have to do that; you're my special girl, not my mom."
She smiled; 'special girl' sounded so quaint.
"Uh...I have something special to show you tonight. It's your XMas gift. Can you meet me early at my place?"
"You want me to be alone with you? In your apartment?" She teased.
Fry coughed. "Uh...yeah." The last word came out on a squeak.
"Okay; I'll get there two hours before dusk, to avoid you-know-who."
Fry grinned and went to help the professor untangle a strand of lights.
Leela hummed to herself, unable to stop smiling.
Amy frowned. "You're gonna keep rubbing it in, aren't you?"
Even though Leela felt sorry for both Kif and Amy and their long sepparation, after years of enduring Amy's popularity with the opposite sex, teasing the girl felt good. "Yes, Amy. Yes, I am."
Leela glanced at her communicator as she knocked on Fry's door. It was three in the afternoon, leaving her two hours to get back home before dusk arrived. Damn daylight savings time.
"Come in, Fleshbag!"
Leela rushed into the apartment, not at all surprised to see Bender mixing together a drink.
"My latest creation!" Bender enthused. "I call it nog-nog!"
Leela cautiously dipped a cup into the punch bowl and took a tiny sip, which ended up back in the cup. "What's in this?! Why do I taste motor oil?"
Bender frowned. "You guessed my secret ingredient!" He swiveled back toward Leela. "Hey, are you blind?"
She waved a hand in front of her eye. "No, why?"
"Good!" he laughed, dumping the empty container into the garbage. "Those jerks at Valvoline were wrong again!"
"Hah hah. Where's Fry?"
"In his room. I'd knock before I'd go in, though -- I don't, but he might want you to."
Leela found Fry's room directly next to Bender's... the door completely covered in signs warning Bender to keep out. Light glowed from a crack at its foot, and a soothing tone warmed the air.
"Fry?" She said softly. The light diminished.
She entered his room, finding Fry on his bed, a Holophonor pressed to his lips.
"Oh, Fry, you've been practicing all this time?"
He nodded, "I've been taking lessons for a year, ever since I had the worms."
His words rocked her, tears coming to her eye. She couldn't quite believe that she meant so much to anyone.
Fry sat up, continuing, "I'm not really good, but I've been trying hard on this one piece. I wrote it for you." He took a deep breath before placing the instrument to his mouth.
Leela watched in fascination as a cartoonish image of herself appeared against a blue background. As though from frames of stop-motion animation, the cartoon turned a cartwheel, then produced a blaster gun. The miniature her fired three shots into the air, little pink rays that grazed the actual Leela's ear.
From the left side of the picture, another figure, unmistakably Fry, hopped into the picture. The figures cast one look at each other before hugging, and rolling end-over end across the blue ground. Then the Fry figure kissed the Leela figure. After one last tumble, their bodies twisted into a heart shape. Fry stopped playing and it disappeared.
Leela gazed at the place where the heart had bloomed, taking it all in. This man had sat by her bed for two weeks, hoping she would come out of a coma. He had cared about her so warmly that she had been afraid to even consider the possibility of his love.
And now this. All for her.
"Happy XMas, Leela," he said.
"That was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen!"
Fry smiled bashfully. "You don't have to lie; I know it wasn't that great. I mean, I've seen other guys make up whole worlds with their holophonors. I couldn't even make us look like real people..." She quickly kissed his cheek.
"It doesn't matter if it wasn't perfect! It matters that you cared enough to make it." She hugged him. "Fry, you've just made me realize how much I l-" There was a loud rattle, and the bathroom window shattered.
Fry threw himself and Leela to the floor, and together they rolled under the bed. They stared up wide-eyed as the gunfire continued
"It can't be Santa, can it?" Fry whispered. "He doesn't start his rounds until dusk, right?"
An evil laugh filled the air.
"Definitely Santa." Leela grumbled. "What's he doing out so early?"
"Hey, you could be in a worse position." Fry pointed out, and she laughed.
She smiled. "I'd be very happy to stay here, but I promised my folks I'd see them today."
"But you can't go anywhere, not with him out there..."
"I know." Leela sighed. "Well, I'll stay here until it quiets down, okay?"
"Okay," he echoed. They lay together, and eventually slept.
Leela awoke to pitch darkness. Why was she on top of Fry? Oh.
She lifted a cautious ear. It was eerily silent. Perhaps Robot Santa had finished his rounds, and it was safe to visit her parents. Carefully, she disentangled herself from Fry's embrace, leaving a gentle kiss upon his cheek.
"I love you, Fry," she whispered. Her own words surprised her, but, Zombie Jesus help her, it was the truth.
He smiled in his sleep.
Leela crept alertly down the alley behind the Robot Arms. She spied a grating between two dumpsters.
"Leela, honey!" her mother's voice came, "You're late."
She knelt. "Sorry, mom. Santa got here early."
"We saw," her father said, "there's something different about him this year. He seems more psychotic than normal."
"More psychotic? Dad, if Santa goes any more insane in his mainframe it could mean death to all of humanity! Anyway, I brought this for you." She held out a wrapped package.
"Ohh, sweetie, you shouldn't've!"
"It's no trouble; I saw the gift you and dad snuck through the heating vent last week."
"No, no..." Leela smiled. "C'mon, open it!"
Morris eagerly tore into the package, gasping at what was revealed. "How beautiful!" He showed his wife the gift; a framed picture of Leela at the Planet Express Company Picnic...with her arms wrapped around Fry."
"Who's that with you...wait a minute, isn't that that Fry fellow you dated when you were a teenager?" Morris asked.
"You mean to tell me the two of you are finally together?" Leela's blush was a solid confirmation.
"Morris, I told you last week that Leela and Fry were dating again!"
"I knew that! And you knew that too, unless that was MY knee stuck in my third kidney while we were spying on Fry last, uh..."
"You guys have been spying on my boyfriend?" Leela gasped.
"Sweetie, we've been watching you every day since we left you at the Orphanarium." Munda said.
"I guess it kind of extended itself into watching Fry, since he's the only guy who's seemed serious about you." Morris continued. "Can you forgive us?"
Leela thought for a moment. "You know I can't stay mad at you guys." She smiled. "So...what do you think of him?"
"Well..." Munda began, "he's lazy."
"...and he plays video games too much of the time...." Morris continued.
"...he actually remembers what Star Trek is..."
"...and he picks himself in strange places."
"But he loves you a lot."
"So we like him."
"And he would do anything to take care of you."
"He already has. Remember what he did with her hospital bill?"
She blinked. "What did Fry do?"
"Morris!" Munda hissed, "we said we'd let Fry tell her!"
"But what did he do?"
"Dollishski?" Leela muttered in confusion. Suddenly, there was a burst of gunfire. "Get down!" she shouted to her parents before diving into a dumpster.
Leela held still, waiting for the gunfire to stop. Instead, it got louder. Despite the awful stench that surrounded her, she finally had to breathe.
Something beside her moved.
She almost screamed, until she made out a familiar face in the dimness.
"What are you doing here, Doctor Zoidberg?" she whispered.
"No, what are you doing here? Zoidberg is here because these are the best dumpsters in town." He let out a pleased but very muted trumpeting sound as he gobbled a can of rotting dolphin.
Leela gulped back a mouthful of bile. "Santa's seldom been this manic. And I've never heard of him coming to earth before dusk."
Zoidberg nodded. "It appears that his programming has finally gone facacta."
"Facacta! Haywire! After operating for hundreds of years without error, there's a fault somewhere in his circuitry making him misbehave! His horse finally jumped its bun!"
The gunfire had ceased. "See? You're wrong, Zoidberg. How did you know about all of that circuitry stuff, anyway? You can't even remember that I don't have five fingers!"
He shrugged. "I've always studied the fearsome Santa Robot, hoping that his awesome power might unlock the key to receiving to regular, hot meals. You see, Leela, the key to Santa Robot's life force is..."
Leela shoved the lid open, ignoring him as she glanced around her.
"...that everyone believes so strongly in him. My theory is that if everyone simply stopped being afraid of the Santa Robot, his circuits would become so overheated by the improper response that he would malfunction and go kaboom!"
She glances over her shoulder at Zoidberg. His words made sense, but surely there wasn't a need to kill the robot. He wasn't even anywhere in sight at the moment. But... in the distance... no, she couldn't make it out...
"Leela! Don't look!" Munda hissed from the sewer.
"What's happening? My depth perception is awful!"
"Robot Santa...he's attacking the Orphanarium."
Suddenly, the blurs in the distance became very clear to Leela. At the end of the lane stood Santa, firing missiles at the building. One sliced the head off a fleeing child.
Leela gasped. Then her face hardened, and, leaping from the dumpster, she tore down the street in the opposite direction.
She made it to the Planet Express launching bay in record time. Behind her, she heard the Professor ranting at her foolishness.
"Leela, you crazy woman, get down! The Santa Robot's gone mad! Ohh, I told Mom this would happen!"
"Professor..." She paused halfway up the gangplank. "Tell Fry I love him, if I don't make it."
"You fool! Santa Robot's indestructible! And you're even more foolish for loving Fry!"
"If I don't destroy him, everyone will die! And if it ends up taking my life in the process, I'm not afraid to do it!"
"I should put a conically-shaped hat on your head, to prove your foolishness!" Professor Farnsworth ranted.
"Leela! You'll..." Amy started, as Leela took off. "Kill Fry if anything happens..." she said quietly.
Leela sat at the controls, coated in sweat. The battle had been going on for hours. The PE Ship wore a jagged hole in its starboard side; Santa Bot wore a matching hole in his gullet.
A crowd had gathered a short distance away, a mass of life she was barely aware of. If she had looked out her window, she would have seen Fry and Bender among them, clinging to one another in pure fear.
Leela glared at the menacing figure before her. All she could see was red; the red stains coating his arm; the blood of innocent orphans coating his hands.
"You've been a naughty girl, Turanga Leela," the Robot proclaimed.
"And you fired on innocent children who did nothing but follow your rules!"
"Follow my rules? I don't think so." He held up a tiny, decapitated, brown-haired head. "Little Billy didn't brush his teeth last night." He flicked the skull over his shoulder. "And little Susie?" He held up a blonde girl, her eyes bulging with the weight of the presents he had stuffed into her. "She picked her nose in church. They all deserved to die, Leela! But you, you're the worst little girl I've ever seen! Ah ha ha ha!"
Leela stared at the robot in disbelief. She had been taught for her entire life to beware Santa; to stay low all XMas Eve. To follow the rules, so that she wouldn't die. And because most everyone in the galaxy had been taught as well as she, very few people died from Robot Santa's wrath. It had become a game, a fun way to spend the night.
But Santa Bot had violated the rules.
A missile blasted into the side of the PE Ship, rocking Leela back and forth in her seat. A glance at her monitors told her that power was failing.
Santa Robot's eyes glowed a bright red. "What do you want for XMas, Leela?" He smiled, "Maybe a pogo stick? A pony? Your spine to stay in your body?"
"That last one!" She blurted.
"Ooops, too late." He began to peel back the interior of the ship like a can of tuna, cackling like a greedy tot.
As she sent a groping had toward her ray gun, Zoidberg's words flowed back to her. The crustacean hadn't ever been a source of logic, but inches from death she decided to waste her final breath on his suggestion.
"I don't believe in you."
He stopped cackling, staring at her blankly. "What?"
"I said, I don't believe in you."
He began making odd noises, as though his gears were running backward. "Leela, you don't mean that." He sounded afraid, giving her just enough hope to continue.
"Yes I do! I don't believe in an evil, murdering robotic Santa Claus that kills children while they lie sleeping in their beds!" Her fingers had finally the gun, and she swiftly hoisted it, blasted him with its full power.
He coughed, staggering, leaking battery fluid upon the ground. "But we've had good times, Leela! Don't you remember that sled I brought you when you were five?"
"It fell apart on my first trip downhill!" she shouted, slamming her finger down on the trigger. Santa screamed again in anguish.
"I don't believe in killing for fun!" She glared and announced, with absolute authority, "I don't believe in you, Robot Santa. No one, in the entire world, in the entire galaxy, anywhere life exists, will EVER believe in you, ever again!"
Santa looked to the left, to the right. Hundreds of New New Yorkers stared back at him, knowing that Leela's words were truthful. Fear and awe had been washed away by his brutal carnage. There was no going back.
"Error," he bleated. "Disbelief mode engaged; beginning shutdown procedure..." Santa let out one last grinding shriek before exploding in a hail of sparks.
Leela stared blankly at the mess before her. Battery acid and booze rained down on her battered windshield, over the gore coating the street. She eased the ship to a soft landing before leaping out, a pair of scissors in her hand.
In almost manic fury, she sliced and hacked at the pieces. Wires were severed and chips stomped on. She stopped only when nothing remained, not even a souvenir for the shocked crowd.
She fell to her knees in exhaustion, then lifted her head at the gentle touch of a hand.
"Leela," Fry said, wide-eyed, "that was so amazing!"
The crowd began to buzz. That lady killed Santa! Applause rang through the streets. Santa's dead!
Leela staggered to her feet, leaning against Fry's shoulder for support. Joy warred with nausea and fear inside her heart.
"Leela, how do you feel?" Fry asked.
"I ruined hundreds of years of tradition in three hours," she said soberly. "I feel..." She straightened and grinned. "...amazing."
They found Bender with his visor firmly shut and both hands covering his face. "Is it over yet? Is she dead? And did she have any bank accounts we could..." He trailed off, opening his eyes. "Oh."
"Oh," she echoed, smiling. "Hello, Bender."
He stared at the carnage before them, releasing a slow, long whistle. "I don't know whether to be really happy or stay away from you for a long time."
"Do both." Leela said, kissing Fry's cheek. "Want to walk me back to my place?"
Together, they headed down the street.
"So, how did you figure out Santa's weakness?" Fry asked.
"That wasn't me...actually, it was..." She saw a lonely figure with a hunched walk scurrying away across the street. She sprinted across the lane. "Dr. Zoidberg." She shocked them both by hugging them. "Thank you!"
He froze perfectly still in her embrace. "Meh, it was no trouble." Suddenly, he wailed. "Now I'll never eat!"
Guilt washed over Leela. "Well, what if you come over to XMas Dinner tomorrow?"
"Is Bender cooking?"
"I hope not."
"I'll wear my good bib!" He chattered excitedly, headed back to the PE building.
Leela and Fry resumed their journey. A block from her apartment, Mayor Poopenmeyer and his assistants interrupted them. After a statement to a flashbulb-popping crowd of reporters, he offered to give her anything in New New York.
She thought for a moment, then said. "Please, make sure those orphans have a decent burial."
"You could've had anything in the whole world," Fry whispered, "and you wanted those kids to be buried. That's so... nice, Leela."
She smiled. "I have everything I really want."
The Mayor shook hands on their deal; it was the least they could do for a national hero like Leela. They left the happy couple to their travels.
When Leela was out of earshot, he whispered to his advisors. "One mass grave, coming up."
They were reluctant to part as the sun rose over New New York. The world would report on Leela's deed now. That Santa's final rampage had cost an inordinately high number of lives this year, a sure sign of his malfunction. That if the young, brave captain hadn't stopped him massive casualties would have taken place. Santa had died at approximately four in the morning, and, as the sun came up over New New York, a renewed sense of peace filled Leela.
"Fry...Did you hear what I told you, before I left you tonight?"
"I think so...'Don't eat the monkey?'"
"No, you dreamed that." She pulled his head close to hers, "I said that I loved you." The words were almost a whisper.
His expression showed pure disbelief. "Really?"
She nodded, "Uh-huh."
He almost bounced in her embrace, inspiring a soft laugh.
"You're the most amazing woman in the whole universe, Leela." He said.
"Aren't you going to say you love me, too?"
He stared at her in amazement. "You couldn't tell?"
She smiled. "Yes. You may have said it before, but I just want to hear it once, for me."
He gazed into her eye. "I love you, Leela." His embrace strengthened.
"What did you do with my hospital bill?"
He froze, then pulled away from her embrace. "How did you hear about that?"
"My mom and dad have loose lips." She smiled.
"You beat it out of them?" He gaped.
"No!" She frowned "Tell me. I want to know."
He gulped. "I paid them."
"Oh, Fry; I can take care of myself. You didn't need to do that!"
"I wanted to; Hermes bought the cheapest kind of insurance on the market, and they ran a lot of tests on you, and I didn't want you to wake up to a big bill..."
She hugged him again. "I'll have to pay you back."
"You don't need to."
"I want to." She kissed his jaw.
He looked upward. Tied onto the archway over their heads was a familiar green sprig. "We're under the mistletoe again."
He smiled. "Can I?"
This time, there was no Robot Santa to interrupt them
"From now on," she whispered, placing her head on his shoulder, "for that. You don't need to ask."
"Leela, Sweetie! We're so proud!"
Fry almost choked on his own tongue as they broke the embrace.
"Mom!" Leela hissed.
"What, are we interrupting... oh, you were kissing Fry again."
"They're always kissing."
"Uh, hi, Mr....Ur...Mrs....Leela." He finished.
"Yeah, hi, Fry...don't touch my daughter!"
"What? That's what fathers are supposed to say!"
"Mom, dad...Happy XMas."
The foursome stood in silent awkwardness.
"So, what are you planning for today?" Munda asked.
Leela squeezed Fry's hand. "Right now, I'm going to go home and make out with my boyfriend in peace."
"Whoo hoo!" exclaimed Fry, as Leela lead him into the building.
"Oy." Muttered Morris to himself as he watched the youngsters go into the building. "What a night."
"Remember when we were like that?"
"Yeah, a long, long time ago." He thought upon this for a moment. "I hope those jerk cockroaches in Leela's apartment don't talk about her behind her back like ours did when we were kids."
Munda laughed. "Leela's lucky enough not to have cockroaches. Let's not think about it, and leave them alone. They deserve it."
Morris thought upon this for a moment.
"Fine.." he wiggled his brow. "Now, you wouldn't wanna follow our kid's great example, would ya?"
Munda giggled, leaning into her husband's embrace and beginning their own journey home.
The image on the wall flickered out. Lilah shook her head to clear the cobwebs caused by this rather fantastic story. One sound filled the room: the professor, snoring.
Lilah blinked, looking around for Bender. It figured that he would get bored with the tale and just drift off. He was probably as grossed out as she felt at that moment. The notion of watching her grandparents make out was not one she wanted to reflect on again.
She relaxed against the seat then spied Bender across the hall, in the natural history exhibit, staring at something in the distance.
"What are you doing?"
He poked her. "Shaddup, meatball!"
"Oh...you want to flirt with one of the maid bots?"
He shook his head.
"I don't get it. You look like you've just seen a ghost."
He pointed one finger before him. "I think I did."
A golden maidbot polished the interior of a case, her expression distant, sad.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Maybe I would."
He continued, very reluctantly. "That's the only fembot I ever loved, kid. That's Angelyne."