“Well, what do we have here?”
As he slumped to the floor, he felt a hand release his shirt. Oh, so he couldn’t fly. But that disappointment was outweighed by the delight he felt hearing the sound of that voice. Leela! He looked up and gasped. She had two eyes!
Then he realized there were two Leelas standing in front of him. And two green spaceships. He clapped his hands to the side of his head to steady the ringing, and his double vision cleared. After a few moments he was able to look into the face he never got tired of watching. Recently they had had several very early deliveries, and he had found he loved to watch her eating breakfast cereal, much to her annoyance.
“What rock did you slither out from? World too tough for you? Coming back with your tail between your legs?”
Could something slither with a tail between its legs, he thought? So many mysteries in life…
She tilted her head to the side, and her ponytail slipped slightly onto her shoulder. Every week he found something new he liked about her face, her manner. So he knew that when she tilted her head she was in a playful mood.
For some reason, he suddenly remembered a nature special he had accidentally seen last week…
The Arcturian slafhok likes to play with its food before it eats it. Last year seven-card stud seemed to be the behavior of choice…
And she wrinkled her nose, which meant—
“And what’s that smell?”
Oh yeah, he hadn’t showered yet. Had to admire dumpster smell. It just didn’t quit. Why did the bad smells always seem to last longer than the good ones?
He chuckled, and then realized that even though there was a terse smile on her lips, her eye wasn’t smiling at all. It was cold. Very cold.
Oh yeah. He was late. Had missed the delivery. Time to turn on the charm.
Grinning seductively, he raised an eyebrow.
“Did you miss me?”
She was staring at him intently, as if looking for something. Then the temperature in the hangar dropped further.
“I thought you might come back someday. So I’m prepared. Well, let’s get this over with. Follow me.”
And she strode past him into the locker room. Fry scrambled to grab his jacket and ran after her as she exited the locker room into the corridor, carrying a small folder.
Amy walked out of a room and almost collided with Leela, who glanced at her briefly and moved on without breaking stride.
“Hey, Leela, what’s going on?”
“I take it you know Fry is back.”
“Yes I do,” she said cautiously.
“Then it’s probably best for you to hear this as well. I don’t want to repeat myself.”
Amy watched Leela’s retreating back and followed in step. Fry struggled to keep up, but he was getting a bit out of breath, and by the time he arrived at Hermes’ door he saw Prof. Farnsworth, Hermes, Leela, and Amy standing inside. Bender and Zoidberg were nowhere to be found. There was a strange atmosphere of formality in the office that Fry had rarely felt outside the DOOP army, his bank, or Bender’s fantasy blernsball meeting night.
“Hermes, has Phillip Fry requested his job back?”
Phillip? Did she just call him Phillip?
“Well, he hasn’t formally submitted a request, but it seems he intends to.” She spun around towards Fry.
“Are you planning to work here again?”
“Are … you… planning.. to … work… here… again?” she said in a tone of voice one would use with a very small child, or a foreign tourist, like someone from Toledo.
“Yeah, I’m working here.”
She turned back to Hermes. “Then I need to inform you that if Fry is rehired, I will be handing in my resignation immediately.” She held up a piece of paper.
Hermes shifted in his chair uncomfortably, but Fry managed to notice that Hermes did not look completely shocked. Neither did Amy. Farnsworth was asleep. In fact, the only person completely struck dumb was he.
“May I reques’ the reason behind dis course of action?”
“As you no doubt know, Section 38.198.6 of the Employment code of New New York, revision 6, states that no valid reason for request of termination of employment need be given by the resignee when requesting career chip reassignment.”
“Dat’s true,” Hermes nodded. “Do you have a list of prospective alternatives, per 38.198.8?”
“Yes, right here. I’ve located a few open career chips in other transportation agencies, and I can always return to my former position at Applied Cyrogenics. But it’s surprising how many companies are interested in a one-eyed pilot. Even if her eye is as big as a dinner plate.”
Hermes looked confused, and Farnsworth let out a snore. But why did Amy look like she wanted to melt into the floor? And why were the two women looking towards him like that? Fry looked over his shoulder, and saw a janitor sweeping past the door. Wow, PE had a janitor? What had that guy done to get both of them so furious? He wouldn’t want to be in his shoes right now, since both Amy and Leela were getting angrier by the second.
And then his brain finally managed to catch up to the conversation.
“Wait, you’re quitting because of me? Why?”
“Again, I have no obligation to explain my reasons for leaving. If Fry is too stupid or too much of a pathetic liar to understand why, I have no obligation to spell it out to him.”
“By Jah’s beard, lets all jus’ settle down here!”
“I’m fine Hermes. Really. It’s your decision. Take all the time you want. I’ll be adjusting the Number 3 converter on the ship, since it’s acting up again. Notify me when you’ve made a decision.”
And she turned and walked out of the room.
“Calypso’s fury,” muttered Hermes as he nudged the Professor with his elbow, then looked at Fry.
“You have two minutes to work things out before I make a decision. Go.”
Fry went and scrabbled after Leela’s ponytail, currently disappearing around the corner.
“Leela, wait,” he said, skidding behind her.
An arm shot out and he found himself pinned against the wall, staring down into her face. He kept forgetting how strong she was. She was so used to her eye that he forgot that she wasn’t your usual human. Normally he felt protected by her strength, but this was definitely not normal.
“Oh, by the way-- hello, Fry. Welcome back.” Her voice was steady, and she smiled a little at him. “Now I know you’re a little on the slow side, so I’m going to speak slowly and clearly. Nod if you understand what I just said.”
He swallowed, and opened his mouth to speak, but she gently rotated her forearm, squeezing his windpipe shut.
“I don’t want to hear excuses from you. Just nod.”
She had never reminded him of his slowness in such a brutal and blunt way, and he was unnerved. Of course, she usually didn’t try to choke him either, and that was slightly troubling as well. In fact, wasn’t he supposed to be nodding to stay conscious? He nodded.
“Regardless of what Planet Express decides, I do not want you to come near me, talk to me, or try to communicate with me in any way. Do not try to talk with me through Bender. Do not approach my parents. If you ever get this close to me again, I will probably hurt you.”
Spots started to appear in front of Fry’s eyes, but fortunately he had learned from past experience that he didn’t need that much oxygen to think in the first place, so he was still able to listen, and to notice that Leela’s arm was beginning to shake…
“In fact, part of me, a part of me I’m not particularly proud of, wants to hurt you now. Please, for your and my sakes, do not ever come near me again. I will repeat this one more time for your benefit, to make sure we understand each other. Do you agree that you will not ever speak to me again?”
Terrified and choking, Fry nodded.
“Do you understand that you will not write me on paper or by e-mail?”
He nodded again. Leela was still slightly smiling, almost as if she were enjoying a private joke with herself.
“Do you understand that you will not use our mutual friends or my parents to try to talk to me?”
Darkness was starting to close in on the edge of his vision, but Fry didn’t dare struggle. He nodded.
“Good.” She released the hold and smiled pleasantly. “At last I think we understand each other completely. I feel better now. Goodbye”. And she was gone.
Fry understood, but found he could not comprehend. He stumbled back into Hermes’s office. Farnsworth was muttering something into Hermes’ ear, and Fry could pick up the words “dissection,” “organs,” and strangely enough, “towel,” but that was about it. Hermes turned to Fry, and in that instant, from the look on Hermes’ face, Fry suddenly had a flash of insight. He was about to be fired from Planet Express.