Fry, Bender, Zoidberg, the sideways hovertruck, 2.7 billion Nixonbucks, the assorted contents of a convenience store, a pile of human organs, the fixings from a fancy coffee shop, and the contents of a dumpster burst through the main entrance of Planet Express. A wave of glass, plaster, and other debris surged through the entrance hallway and into the main hangar, upsetting the conference table and utterly ruining the zebra-striped lizard skin covers on the chairs. The truck slid completely into the building, before finally coming to a rest. A steady rain of Big Pink, exploding Slurm cans, windshield glass, and Nixonbucks pelted everything inside the main hangar, while a lopsided sign reading
“ACCIDENT FREE WORKPLACE FOR 2 DAYS”
reset back to zero again. A flock of disturbed owls flitted throughout the great open space of the hangar.
Groaning, Fry unbuckled his seat belt and landed on top of Zoidberg, who in turn was already lying on top of Bender. Fry had a moment to be grateful that the truck had tipped over onto its right side, and not onto its left, before the startled Decopodian squirted ink all over his jacket.
Bender gave a mighty shove, and Fry and Zoidberg tumbled through where the windshield had been, falling to their hands, feet, and claws amidst a mash of circuit boards, broken glass, and sugar packets. Eyes closed against the fine dust swirling around, Fry moved his hand forward and felt something wet and squishy, embedded with chunks of broken glass. Against his better judgment, he opened his eyes to learn that he was massaging a human stomach.
“May I have that?” warbled Zoidberg cheerfully, eyes riveted on the stomach.
“Hold on. I may need another one before this is through,” Fry moaned, clutching his own stomach and trying to focus all his concentration on preventing himself from hurling onto the floor. Fortunately, his own stomach was empty, since he had eaten nothing other than his Bachelor Chow from last night. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the other stomach, since its contents had just oozed over Fry’s hand, creating a smell that caused Zoidberg to urdulate in pleasure.
“Great sugarcane in a hurricane-“
Still a bit dizzy from the crash, Fry lifted his head and managed to focus his eyes on Hermes, who was peeking from behind an overturned chair, the lizard skin covering his head. Out of the side of his eye he caught a motion, and turning, he saw Amy gingerly duck out of the restroom, shoving the door open against a pile of debris.
Seeing these familiar faces, despite the expressions on them, brought a flood of relief to his mind, and suddenly he was exhausted. He wanted nothing more than to rest his head on this floor. Using his left arm to clear away some Slurm-soaked circuit boards, he lay his head down onto the ground, closing his eyes for a moment, enjoying the solidity in a way that only pilots and soldiers could appreciate. He knew the police were coming, but he wanted only a moment….
Tap, tap, tap…
He didn’t want to, but the sound left no choice—it was too close to his head. Raising his eyes up, he saw a gray boot tapping the floor three feet in front of his face.
“This is going to be good, isn’t it?”
Sitting up, he looked higher. Black pants, white T-shirt, purple hair, tight-pursed lips, hands on hips – well, he had been hoping for this, hadn’t he? So why did he feel like two stomachs were now lying on the floor?
Her hand was poised over her wrist thingy.
“I was pretty sure you got my message a couple of days ago. So let’s call the police now, before you start on the excuses, OK?”
The words were barely out of her mouth when a chorus of sirens drifted from the newly widened entrance of Planet Express. Risking a peek over his shoulder, Fry could only see a sea of flashing lights dashing to a halt in front of the street. Robots, humans, and aliens were already bursting out of the police hovercars, even before they had fully stopped. He even saw a firetruck and ambulance pull up. Before his hopes had a chance to rise at the sight of the ambulance, he saw the hearse arrive.
Leela frowned down at her wrist.
“Funny, I don’t remember ordering the precognitive call feature—“
Fry had never seen Bender move so fast, as his friend dashed by Leela and headed directly toward the gaping hole that used to be the Planet Express Entrance. Actually, toward a wall panel that had miraculously missed being taken out by just a few inches. Bender slapped a big red button on the panel.
Suddenly the dolomite-reinforced exterior walls slid sideways, sealing the entrance, just as the first officers were converging on the entrance, guns drawn.
The air was filled with low rumbling and slamming sounds, and the sunlight streaming through the windows throughout the hangar was suddenly cut off, plunging the entire interior into a pale gloom. Fry blinked his eyes, then understood. Bender had activated the Professor’s Xmas defenses. The Planet Express building was now a fortress. They had a little time. But to do what?
The interior floodlights in the hangar burst on, casting everything into a harsh light. Leela’s eye flicked away from the overhead windows back down to Fry, then over to Bender, who was now languidly pimp-walking back to the truck.
“Bender, care to explain what’s-“
“Sorry, can’t chit-chat. Got three minutes to stuff away a couple billion bucks. Hammerspace, don’t fail me now—“
And the robot launched himself into the truck cab, expanding the hole in the back of the cab, seizing armloads of cash, and cramming it into his chest as fast as the servos on his arms could operate.
All this had happened so quickly that all the carbon-based life forms in the room had remained frozen in place. Now Zoidberg turned back to fishing for organs on the ground, while Hermes, Amy, and Leela turned toward the red-haired delivery boy, still crouching on the floor in front of Leela.
“Um, funny story,” Fry began, before he felt a hand grab his jacket and lift him off the floor.
“What in the HELL are you doing here?” the cyclops growled. And then her nose wrinkled. “And what’s that smell?”
Good question, Fry thought. Over the past two days he had slept in a dumpster, cleaned a Cygnoid pizza oven, kissed a dirty bank floor, and had been splattered by Slurm, human guts, off-world baby poop, and Zoidberg’s ink. It was all kind of blending together into a generic “Warning! Do Not Touch!” miasma. He futilely tried to wipe off the ink, while speaking quickly.
“Somebody’s after me.”
“Yeah, I figured that out.”
“Good. I mean, not the police—well, they’re after me too now, I guess-“
“Leela, I didn’t run away. I didn’t get my memory wiped. Something or somebody took me.” A new thought fought its way through his tangled feelings. “They might have even wiped my memory when I didn’t want them too.”
Leela seemed less than impressed. “Took you.”
“Yeah. So you see, I didn’t abandon you or the baby.”
Fry glanced sideways toward Amy’s voice. The young Asian woman was staring at him like he had just swallowed an owl.
“Yeah. Little-little- Eureka!”
“You’ve got it?”
“Yeah! Eureka. The little baby Leela had from our relationship that she wanted to keep secret—uh--crap.”
He didn’t want to look over at Leela, preferring instead to watch Amy’s and Hermes’s eyes open wider and wider until he half-expected them to join the other eyeballs he thought he had seen scattered on the floor…
“Guys, I don’t think Fry is feeling well, “ Leela said, voice as calm and steady as if organizing a routine delivery. “Let me talk to him alone for a moment. Hermes, can you get the Xmas doors back open for us?”
The bureaucrat scratched his chin.
“Problem is, dere’s a retinal scanner under dat button. I think we’re gonna need the Professor.”
“Fine, can you go find him them?”
“Um, actually, Hermes,” Fry began-
“Hermes.” It was a simple statement, but there was a quaver in the way Leela pronounced the name that impelled Fry to look back at her. She seemed calm, but then he looked down at her hands. They were balled into fists, and were quivering slightly.
“Sure, Leela. I’ll get ‘im. Come on, Amy. I’ll head on up to the lab. You search the Angry Dome. He was pretty upset abou’ that cable bill the other day-”
The intern started to follow the Jamaican, but Fry had time to notice Amy dawdling at the door, just before his captain spun him around.
“So you’ve decided to come clean after all. Just spill it all out in front of everyone.”
“I’m sorry, Leela, but please, you gotta believe me. Something isn’t right. I didn’t leave on my own.”
Her eye bored into him, lid narrowed. It was almost as if an F-ray were scanning him.
“I see. You were kidnapped. Sure. And why didn’t you happen to mention this last time?”
“Well, Bender just figured it all out.”
“Just before we robbed the bank this morning.”
“How convenient for him then, huh? Don’t you remember the time when he told you that you could fly, right around the time that off-world medical school was offering $10,000 each for Earthican bodies?”
“Yeah, good times, good times. Thank god for Thompson’s Teeth and Bone glue. But look, we don’t have a lot of time here—“
Even now he could hear some faint pounding on the thick doors sealing the hole of the front entrance, and some official-sounding voice being projected over the street outside.
“But wait, wait, Fry,” she said silkily, grinning tautly. “I want to hear more. Who wants you? Why this complicated scheme to abduct you during--what must you admit--must have been a very convenient time for you?” The sarcasm in her voice was as thick as those diaper contents still oozing down his underpants.
“I don’t know who, and I don’t know why,” he replied simply. “Wait, I have a feeling-“ he rummaged around in his coat. There was the spare can of Bachelor Chow, but—how could he have trouble finding it?—ah yes, the interior pocket.
The case was long gone, left behind on the floor of Leela’s apartment, so it was a little scratched, maybe even a little dented. But considering what it had gone through, Fry thought the holophoner still looked lovely as it lay in his hands, gleaming in the harsh light of the overhead lamps.
Smiling softly, he looked up toward Leela’s face, then started. Maybe it was the white glare of the lights, but her face seemed to have gone pale, almost white, which made her lipstick seem positively florescent.
“The holophoner. That’s your holophoner.”
“Well, yeah,” Fry said.
“How’d you get that?”
“Um, don’t you remember? It was in your closet. Last night.”
And then something happened that Fry had not seen since Leela had first admitted sleeping with Zapp. She blushed. Deeply, suddenly, and vividly.
The coffee cup smashed onto the floor.
“Damn, sorry. Don’t know why I’m so fidgety.”
She turned away from the closet door. He was nervous too. She could tell from the voice. And suddenly, she felt much calmer. He was nervous too. That was kind of sweet.
She walked out into the living room and into the kitchen, where he was clumsily trying to mop up the coffee with his tie. Chivalry wasn’t dead after all. A faint memory of a young man standing in a puddle on a street corner elbowed her way into her mind, and she shoved it right back. No more of that.
“That’s OK. There’s plenty more cups.”
He looked around her kitchen. For the first time, she noticed how sterile and rather depressing the whole room was.
“Do you have a broom?”, he asked.
Smirking, she pulled her laser gun out of her dress’s hidden pocket.
Hidden pockets for weapons kept going in and out of style. Fortunately, pacifism was in this year, at least according to Amy, so she had gotten the dress during a fire sale. Literally.
“Better. A laser gun.”
Shooting things was very relaxing, but as the vapors of what had once been her souvenir mug from her days as Beck’s groupie (don’t think of it), her startled date (he was a date, she could call him that, right?) leapt back a few feet. Even as she worked to suppress her fear that she had weirded him out, she noticed and admired the combat stance he had automatically tensed into. Strange and mysterious past indeed. Violent too, from the likes of it. A hunger she had not felt in a long time squirmed in her stomach, and she realized she was grinning lopsidedly at him.
What was she supposed to be doing?
“So that’s why you don’t have a dustpan,” he whispered, smiling.
And suddenly the tension and her fear of rejection were broken, and she knew that everything was fine, and was going to be just fine.
“I live very frugally,” she whispered back. “Except for clothes. Certain kinds of clothes. For special occasions. Let me show you. I’ll be right back.”
And now she was back in front of her closet, sliding back the mirrored door, staring at her reflection, at her eye, as she had had all her life. At times she hated how she looked, despite all the mantras she had repeated to herself from the holohelp downloads in college. But now—now she actually admired how well her hair matched her dress.
And the door was sliding open, and her hand was brushing along the tops of her outfits. She felt like she was cataloging her past, with each dress a memory.
She frowned. Something was not right. Something was missing, or out of place. But as she stole a look in the closet, everything seemed to be in order, dresses organized as usual. She stared hard at one of her favorite purple dresses. For a moment she thought it was to the right of that threadbare, tacky green dress that she could never bring herself to donate. But no, everything was fine, in place. A little disquieted, she ran her hand across the dresses again, and then the top of the shelf. All the knickknacks were there, including that damn holophoner. Speaking of things to donate—it was high time she got rid of that. In fact, she would do it tomorrow.
Plucking the negligee from the closet, she closed the door and changed, yellow dress a pile on the floor. Wow, it was cold in here after all. She stared at herself in the mirror, rubbing her left calf with the opposite foot.
Awkward memories with this outfit, but somehow it didn’t seem to matter anymore. She had paid for her misjudgments. She could let go of the past. Shyly, she opened the door of her bedroom.
She didn’t have to worry. He was struck dumb. He was delighted, and she was delighted in turn. Funny, smart, a gentlemen, yet bearing a shady past, financially secure, and yes, good-looking—could he be the one? Did she really care right now?
Apparently not, since they were now lying on her bed, her feet were tingling, her nerves beyond ticklish, and her soul on fire, her hunger devouring her thought. Is this just lust? No, the burn was deeper. She felt like she had finally reached the end of a long winter journey, and was now bundled up in front of a fireplace. And then she allowed herself to stop thinking and just enjoy the delicacy of his touch. She couldn’t really resolve specific details after that, but she remembered looking over at the stand next to her (their?) bed, and staring at the picture of them dancing together. And somehow she suddenly felt that some day they would not be two but one, forever. A tear ran down her face. A tear of joy. Her years of suffering in the orphanarium, the hollowness of her working years, the hell of her mistakes at Planet Express, all melted away. She was happy. Her journey alone through life was over.
But why did she keep thinking she heard a faint giggling?
“You were there. Last night.”
“Of course I was there,” said Fry. “I broke in there to get the holophoner, because I think something wants it-“
“In my closet.”
“Yeah, your closet. And I got trapped when you brought Gary in, and then-“
He trailed off, astonished. Leela had, if anything, gotten even redder in the face, and she looked away for a moment, both of them struck dumb. From above they could hear the faint hum of hovercars as the police floated above the building, probing for potential entry points.
“You watched us. I remember hearing you laughing.”
Fry risked looking around. Bender was still rooting inside the cab, and he could see Amy by the conference table, twenty feet away, staring at Leela with the same puzzled look Fry knew he must have on his face. Looking back at Leela, he saw her staring at him again. Except for a faint flush in her cheeks, her face had completely drained of color again. And then, a small tear formed at the base of her eye and ran down her face.
“I—I never thought you’d do something like that. I thought you were weak, lazy, and a slob, but basically decent. A friend. Once.”
And then she was red again in the face. But it wasn’t from embarrassment, Fry realized. In fact, he had never seen her face like that before. He tightened his grip on the holophoner, instinctively.
“That was one of the sweetest memories I ever had, and now all I want to do is forget it. I want to forget you. I want you gone. For good. I want you to rot away in jail.”
“No way,” Fry said, confused. “They’ll get me for sure then.” The look on Leela’s face scared the hell out of him, but it was time to be a man. He had to stand up to her, explain what was going on.
“Fry?” Amy said. “What do you think you’re doing, hiding behind me?”
Fry looked up from his crouch behind Amy, next to the table.
“Um, wanted to have a clear view of things”. He fought to keep his voice from squeaking. “Help me, Amy. I don’t know what’s going on.” He touched her on the elbow, but she flinched away.
“Hold him, Amy.”
“What in the shi-ganga is going on here?”
“You know last night how Gary was coming over?”
“Yeah, how’d that go?”
“Ask Fry. He spent the whole night watching from my closet.”
Amy swiveled around and stared at Fry, mouth open.
“I didn’t do anything like that,” squeaked Fry. “I mean it was close, but I was really, really glad it didn’t happen-“
“But you have my holophoner. See it there in his hands, Amy? I got that from Zoidberg months ago, and kept it hidden in my closet. I didn’t tell anyone. Funny, I was just about to get rid of it. “
Amy looked Fry up and down, as if trying to spot horns on his head.
“What’s this about a baby?” Amy asked.
Leela was now standing a few feet away, facing Amy, breathing heavily. “Doesn’t matter. Please help me or move out of the way.”
Fry peeked over Amy’s shoulder. “No Amy, she’s not making sense. I didn’t watch, Gary left-“
“What this about a baby?” Amy persisted.
A vein above Leela’s eye throbbed, and she looked like she was contemplating just tossing Amy aside. Then she took a breath.
“You know Fry and I had a relationship. He told you, before you kissed him.”
Now Amy was red, along with Leela. The Asian intern nodded mutely.
“Kissed?” Fry said. “When did I kiss Amy? I mean other than all of times on Mercury, in the closet over there, in the Alpha—um, I’m gonna be quiet now.” He looked around. The nearest hiding place was gonna be the truck again. That or under the table.
The women didn’t even seem to notice Fry. They were staring directly at each other.
“Fry got me pregnant. When I told him the baby was going to be—mutated, he ran off. After kissing you.”
“No,” Amy whimpered. “I mean, you had hinted that Fry had left you in a hard place, but I never thought—“.
The two women stared at each other, as if having a staring contest. Then Amy burst into tears.
“Oh, Leela, I’m so ashamed I kissed Fry last year. I don’t like to think about it. I’m so sorry for that, and everything I said about your eye.” She struggled with herself for a moment, then said, “I’m just so jealous of you sometimes. Except for your fashion sense. There, I said it.” She struggled to smile.
Caught off guard, Leela’s expression relaxed, and she even smiled back a little shyly.
“It’s OK, Amy. I mean, it did hurt, it hurt for a long time. But I don’t hold it against you.”
“Of course it hurt. But I’m happy, really happy, that you’ve got Gary now. I mean, other than-“ she jerked her head back toward Fry “-it’s sounds like it worked out OK last night?”
Leela shifted her eye from Amy to Fry, then back to Amy, then grinned.
“Last night was one of the most magical nights of my life. I learned I love him. He’s a gentlemen, well-off, hasn’t stabbed me in the back, and he has this troubled past—“
“Ohhhh, he’s hinted that to me too,” Amy said. “Sounds so romantically tragic-“
“-and very mysterious,” finished Leela, turning her gaze back to Amy.
Both women sighed in unison, stared at each other, silently for a moment, then burst out giggling. Then, impulsively, Amy stepped forward and gave Leela a warm hug, leaving Fry standing, nonplussed, a few feet away.
“I’m mysterious,” muttered Fry darkly, a lump forming in his throat. “Well, OK, maybe not. But my past is kinda sad too. I miss my dog and stuff…” The two women didn’t notice him, and Fry could see Leela had her eye closed, smiling gently. He stared down at the floor, eyes swimming, half-expecting to see his own heart lying on the floor, along with the others being rooted out by Zoidberg.
Hel-lo? Fry’s brain said. Her eye is closed? No one’s watching you? Shouldn’t you be running for your life?
Fry grunted, then sidled gently away from the pair, picking his way cautiously through the trash, toward the truck. As he ducked back through where the front windshield used to be, he cringed when he heard a loud and jovial “Hello! My good friend Fry!”
Zoidberg leaned against the hood of the truck. “Why are you going in there?”
Zoidberg. He always kept forgetting Zoidberg, Fry thought, as he hurried inside, trying to keep the holophoner from banging on the windshield frame.
Isolated bills were fluttering inside the cab, and the hole into the back of the truck was now Bender-sized. The bending unit was clearly visible inside the cab, frantically trying to cram fistfuls of dollars into his chest. He was starting to have trouble keeping his chest plate from bulging out.
“Bender!” hissed the delivery boy. “Bender, we gotta get outta here! Hurry up.”
“I’m workin’ at it! How about you grab a plunger and let’s see how long it takes to cram a billion bucks up your ass,” replied Bender, piqued.
“Leela says she doesn’t remember last night. She just remembers me spying on her and this jerk Gary.”
“She’s trying to get me and let the police in.”
“She can’t. Only the Professor can unlock that particular door. Why do you think I store my special contraband in here?”
“Oh yeah, I forgot. Hermes is gettin’ the Professor.”
Bender paused. “OK, I care about that.”
“Over here, Leela.” Amy said, just outside the cab.
“Look, wormburger,” Bender said. “Go after the Professor. Keep him away from the door. You’re mostly fat, but I’m pretty sure you have enough muscle to keep the old geezer pinned down-“
“But Hermes! He was Olympic Limbo champion-“
Something seized Fry by the collar of his jacket and dragged him out of the cab. He dropped the holophoner.
“Enough of this,” Leela said.
But Fry was already wiggling out of the jacket, the extra can of Bachelor Chow knocking him on the head as he dropped to the ground. He grabbed the holophoner and began to run.
“Stop the Professor!” yelled Bender, exiting the truck, moving awkwardly and painfully. “I’m goin’ to Hermes’ office.”
The entryway to the corridor was fifty feet away, and Fry made a beeline for it. He saw Amy moving in from the side to cut him off.
“Stop being so glambic, Fry—whoa!” The intern had stepped on an old pizza box and lost her footing, falling to the floor. But Fry heard a pair of big boots kicking trash out of the way behind him, closing in on him.
At that moment a small mound of trash shifted, exposing an unconscious Nibbler, chirping weakly. Fry glanced at Leela’s pet briefly before speeding past, but he heard the boots pause.
“Oh Nibbler! You OK, sweetie?”
And now Fry was in the corridor, pounding past doors, climbing stairs, panting heavily, his heart hollow, completely confused about the past, and no idea what to make of the future.