History Repeating, Part 8
See part 1 for disclaimers
Note: The song Fry sings to the tune of Lisa's playing is 'Lisa, Listen To Me," a 70's hit by the group Blood, Sweat and Tears.
"Boy, this is great beer!" Fry smiled.
"The best, baby!" For a moment, Fry envied his silver companion's ability to not only hold but thrive upon his liquor. He wondered how Professor Farnsworth had come up with the revelation of powering robots on alcohol, as it wasn't the most obvious solution to the pickle of powering so many machines.
This beer really was fabulous. It was improving his brainpower!
"I gotta go take a whiz," he smiled drunkenly. Bender muttered something indifferent in response, returning to his beer and taking a long, relaxing drag from a cigar.
Fry stumbled toward the back of the room, where none of the three doors leading to the kitchen, men's and women's rooms were labeled. Fry decided that it would be worth trying his luck; the first door revealed a purple-horned, green-eyed figure happily chopping up something resembling a sausage. The middle, Fry thought to himself. Always go to the middle door. That's where they put the cars on "The Price Is Right..."
The middle door opened to a concrete hallway with a wooden door at the end of it. Fry quickly rushed down the hallway and pushed through the door.
Instead of a men's room, he found an incline, one so steep that he lost his balance and slid on his rear end down the unlit tunnel, until he landed in a heap of splayed limbs.
A momentary shock of pain immobilized him. An insistent rustling and finally the sound of a woman shouting his name drew him into a sitting position. Whatever had held him in his prone state gave way, and on a fluttering, tearing noise he backslid to the floor, where his head landed with a bang between two familiar black boots.
"Hey, Leela. Do you know where the men's room is?"
Lisa pretended not to hear their fighting, but the distance couldn't mask their angry words. Their anger reminded her of her parents' worst fights. AS angry as Homer and Marge might get at each other, Lisa understood that there remained a deep love between them.
Leela and Fry, however, were unlikely to make up with a little snuggling and a warm kiss.
"...and now you've left Bender to fend for himself alone! How are we going to get out of here?" Leela complained.
"But I delivered the package without your help!" Fry whined.
"Did you? Then where's the delivery fee?"
"Huh...I...and..." Fry wiped his brow. "There was beer!" he excused himself lamely.
"Fry!! Of all of the idiotic, empty-headed..."
"It's Bender's fault! He wanted a drink and..."
"Fry, can't you say anything that isn't stupid?!"
He shrank from the harshness of Leela's tone. "I'm sorry," he said softly, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "I did try my best...I really need a bathroom..."
"There's one next door," Lisa noted. Fry nodded, rushing through the door, his expression blank and drained of emotion.
Leela's mask of anger wavered and she bonelessly sat down beside Lisa's instrument on the floor. Lisa followed her, Indian style and adding in a soft whisper, "You're very hard on him, Leela."
"I have to be! If you only knew the number of times he's nearly killed himself..."
"My baby sister Maggie used to have a dart gun. She would play with it for hours and hours, no matter how often my mother would scold her, until finally she shot my father in the eye."
"So you understand what I mean?"
"My father screamed so loudly from the pain that Maggie dropped the gun and hugged his leg. She never went near it again, Leela. She had to learn that what she was doing could hurt someone herself."
"What does this have to do with Fry's genetic stupidity?"
"Maybe Fry isn't stupid. Maybe he's brand-new to this time and he needed a little bit of guidance instead of being yelled at for doing something that would have been perfectly safe in his -our- time."
Leela closed her eye, her hand brushing through the thin sand lazily.
"Fry really likes you..."
Her eye opened, and the hand reached for her temples. "Please don't bring up Fry's crush on me."
"It's applicable. And he doesn't just have a crush on you."
"You don't think he loves me? Lisa..."
"A wise man once said that there's nothing more beautiful than a man falling in love with a woman."
"Was he on New Crack?"
"Leela, that's not funny. Fry really cares about you."
"Even if he does..."
"And he's a nice guy. He listens to you..."
"Even if he is nice..."
"...He reminds me of a boy I know," Lisa confided excitedly. But the memory of Milhouse made her enthusiasm cool. "Oh, what am I saying?"
"I know that love seems exciting to a girl your age. But a lot of guys aren't as wonderful as you think they are."
"But Fry is..."
"How do you know?"
"I just do!"
"Fry's immature, stupid and lecherous. And I don't date stupid people."
"Well, he did follow your directions..."
"I know, but..."
"Maybe you should just relax with the bumps in the road, Leela."
"That doesn't sound like the girl I know."
"The girl you know didn't think she would be traveling through space and time. I guess I don't know what's going to happen."
"I think," said Leela, resting her fingers on the strings closest to her, "that these would sound good."
Lisa smiled gratefully.
Gradually, Lisa's noodling begat a painless world of light. It sounded like a cross between a harp and a zither, strummed gently with long strokes and careful cording.
As starlight turned to sunlight, her playing sent a melody that put Leela to sleep and made Fry dance.
"Once a girl I knew, all alone and unprepared..." he sang along. "Everyone she knew, running scared!"
Lisa smiled, "my dad used to sing that song to me, when I was a baby."
"My dad used to sing to me, too; the Battle Hymn of The Republic is still considered a song, right?"
"Not a good one, but yes." Lisa unstrapped the instrument and placed it on the ground. "I tried my best with Leela, but she's stubborn. I kind of like that about her."
"Yeah, I know," Fry lowered his head as pain rang through him. "I guess I should just give up."
"Never give up," Lisa said firmly. "I wouldn't have been here if my father hadn't persuaded my mother into a relationship."
"You don't understand what it's like to talk to a girl like Leela because-"
"I'm a child. But it doesn't mean anything to me. I understand how people think, and how they work, and I understand."
"Who can predict the future?" Lisa repeated, placing a hand on his shoulder. She was startled by the repetition. "I'm starting to lose my perspicacity again..."
"Never mind. But you're a nice gentleman, Fry. I'd be honored to have you as a friend."
"I already am your friend."
A knock at the door woke Leela and broke the cozy conversation between Lisa and Fry. All three stood to meet the elders, and only Fry remained shocked by their appearances.
"Whatt're they suppos-" A murderous glare from Leela muted his response.
"Have you learned your part, Chosen One?"
"Then let there be no delay in the proving!"
Lisa apprehensively picked up the instrument, strapping it around her neck. It was heavier to wear standing; she nearly listed over at the weight.
She regained her balance, her eyes bright as polished steel.
Closing them, she struck the first chord.