Fan Fiction

Parallel Lives - A Road Not Taken, part 5
By Graham Dawson

“That was embarrassing.”

They were stood outside the rather run-down looking Sisters of Petulant Mercy clinic a little way from the corner of Quatzl Avenue. The street itself was still wet from the rain that had fallen all night, but the sun – feeble as it seemed to be on this world – was rising high and the sky was as clear as when they’d arrived, so that the wet concrete and stone sparkled like polished glass, making their surroundings almost too bright to look at. All three of them had to shade their eyes against the crystalline glare as the sunlight chased down the length of the street, leaving them no shade to turn to.

Leela shrugged the Applied Cryogenics jacket she’d borrowed a little closer to her neck and then turned up the collar. Despite the bright light this world still felt much cooler than she was used to, though her counterpart seemed to have no such problem.

“It was necessary,” she said, feeling a little put out. “Besides, he’s friendly for-”

“I get it,” the other answered, cutting off Leela before she could utter the hated word. Blue glanced down at the pack of mineral supplements and energy bars gripped between her fingers. “You could have mentioned it’s a V.D. clinic.”

“You wouldn’t have gone,” Leela replied. She looked up at the sign, which gave little clue as to what the clinic actually did beyond being a medical institution. “It took my parents a whole day of arguing to convince me to go for a check-up.”

Blue winced as soon as she heard the word “parents” and, for a moment, Leela was worried she’d make a scene or retreat back into the almost catatonic weeping she’d resorted to the night before. She made a mental not to avoid mentioning the subject for a while and turned away to look up the street, which she’d always remembered being busier than it seemed to be on this world. In fact there was barely even a queue of traffic.

“That’s... weird.”

“Whaff?” Blue swallowed the mouthful of energy bar she’d tried talking through and licked her lips. “What’s weird?”

“Everything seems so quiet here. Where is everyone?”

Blue looked up and down the street in obvious confusion. She narrowed her eye at Leela. “Your world must be awfully crowded if you think this is quiet.”

Leela and Fry looked at each other, then at the street, unspoken but jealous thoughts passing between them.

“It doesn’t matter,” Leela said shortly, shrugging at her coat again. There were some disadvantages to this world. “We’d better head over to the D.M.S.V. and see if we can get your license sorted out. Have you got the forms?”

“Sure,” Blue said, holding up a sheet of paper with an official looking stamp on it. “The doc said I was in good shape apart from the mineral deficiency. This should be a snap!”

The stamp came down heavily on the form with a loud and very final thump that splattered just a tiny bit of ink on the page. The stamp’s owner, a young woman who would have been attractive if she ever smiled, but was otherwise merely intimidating, placed the stamp back in its niche and pushed the form across her desk with a single finger, as if she wished to have as little contact with it as possible.

“I’m sorry, your re-licensing request has been denied,” she said briskly before turning to her computer screen. “If you wish you may apply for a new license application form with Request eleven thirty-two B, however you will need to fill out request requisition forms fifteen and thirty six as well as declaration-”

“Never mind,” both Leela’s said simultaneously. The clerk raised her eyebrow and gave them a pointed sideways glance before returning her attention to the screen. Fry leaned forward to see if he could get a view of what she was writing but the clerk spotted him and pushed the screen around and out of sight. She raised her eyebrow again; somehow it had a strangely commanding effect on him... and then she did smile. Fry hurried to turn away before she could speak and followed Leela toward the doors.

“That was a bust,” Blue said, staring at the red stamp on her papers. When she looked up again her eye was starting to water; the beginnings of a tear started to trickle down her cheek until she roughly wiped it away and stuffed the papers in her pocket. “Well, thanks for the help. I’m going home to get drunk again.”

“Wait, there has to be some way we can sort this out,” Leela said. She pulled the papers from her counterpart’s pocket, ignoring her protesting squeak, and held them up to the light. “These were in perfect order, I don’t know why they would have denied them.”

“I don’t particularly care. Can I go now?”

Leela shook her head but her companion was already pushing her way out of the door. She sighed, grabbed Fry’s arm and followed her out.

There was a surprise waiting for them as a familiar voice spoke. “Leela, isn’t it?”


Leela halted just past the threshold of the door and looked around, trying to gather her bearings. She peeped past the edge of the door and saw her alternate self a short distance away, staring down the street at a copy of Fry, though this Fry was relatively smartly dressed in a button-down suit and sporting a Bureaucrat badge on his lapel. Of course his shirt was hanging loose and he was still wearing sneakers but the effect, Leela had to admit, was quite impressive. She gave her own Fry a sideways glance and then returned her attention to the other one.

“Where...” her doppelgänger’s voice shuddered as she stared at Fry. “Where were you?”

“What? I... well, when I lost you I eventually realised I’d need to get work somewhere. Professor Farnsworth didn’t want to take me in so I decided to go back to the Cryogenics lab.”


“They ran the tests again and, well, here I am.” He smiled at Blue and held out his hands over his suit, but then his smile faltered as he regarded the woman. She had her hands over her mouth. “Are you okay?”

“Where were you!” Blue took a step toward the new Fry, her fists raised, her face flushed with anger and pain as she glared at him. He backed up a step, eyes wide with fear even in the bright sunlight streaming down between the buildings. “You bastard, you weren’t there when I... you let... WHERE WERE YOU?”

Oh brother, Leela thought. She touched Fry’s chest, indicating he should stay where he was and then stepped out on to the street.

“That’s enough.”

The alternate Fry stared at one Leela and then the other in confusion. Leela could see the fearful question in his eyes as he considered the possibility of suddenly being beaten up not once, but twice, and so she held out a placating hand.

“Fry, this isn’t how it looks. I’m not even sure how it looks actually, but...”

Fry’s double seemed to finally gain control of his jaw, which snapped shut, though his eyes were still wide. He looked at Leela again.


“Not as such,” Leela said. She turned away from him and took hold of her counterpart’s arms again, ready to wrestle her back in case she did something stupid, but Blue’s fight was already gone. Her unseeing eye stared off into the distance and her skin, far from the ruddy flush it had shown moments earlier, had taken on a deathly-looking pallor. Leela snapped her fingers in front of her eye a few times. “Great. She’s in shock or something, we need to get her somewhere quiet.”

“We can use my office,” Fry’s counterpart said, pointing up at the second floor of the building. Leela blinked in surprise and looked up at the bank of panoramic windows that wrapped its way around the second floor.

You have an office?”

“Oh, sure. It’s right this way, I’ll just sort it out with security. And call me Phil,” he added as he rounded the corner.

“Fry, wait!” She let go of her alterself and turned to stop him but he’d already rounded the doorway. There was a beat as Leela considered what might be happening, whether she should go and find out, and then Phil returned, pale-faced and clutching his lunch bag to his chest. He looked at Leela, and it seemed as if he was exercising a considerable amount of self-control as he spoke again.

“Why am I standing in the doorway?” His voice shook a little as he spoke.

“Well, you see...” Leela looked skyward, trying to think of a way to explain their problem. Was there time? “We’re from another universe,” she finished lamely. Well, there was nothing like the truth in times of trouble.

“Oh... like Star T-”

“I wouldn’t say that if I were you...”

“Oh, yeah.” Phil shrugged and turned to watch himself walk out from the door. He frowned at the sight; Fry frowned back at him, unconsciously mirroring his counterpart’s actions. “Does my hair really look that geeky?”

“Geeky?” Fry frown grew even deeper and he pinched at his counterpart’s clothes. “I’m not the one with the dorky suit,” he muttered.

“I’m not the one who evidently wears the same scruffy pants every day of my life!”

Fry put up his fists and started bouncing from one foot to the other in a pathetic parody of a boxer's hop. “I’ll show you who’s scruffy you stuck-up-”

“That’s enough!” Leela grabbed both Frys by the hair and pinned them up against the wall.

“Now, I don’t care what you two think of each other. She...” Leela looked over at her counterpart, still stood in the middle of the sidewalk, only now she had her left hand clamped around her right wrist and her arm seemed to be shaking. “I need help, apparently, so both of you had better knock if off before both of me do something stupid.”

Both men slipped down the wall on to their rear ends when Leela let go. Fry rubbed his head and stared up at Leela with a hurt expression; Phil just stared at the ground for a moment, then turned to look at Fry, curiosity tempered by worry in his eyes.

“Maybe we should take the back door,” he said slowly as they stood up, regarding each other from a short distance apart. “It would seem odd to have two of me walking in together.”

“Just pretend they’re all drunk,” Fry said, before demonstrating what he meant by stumbling around the sidewalk. He laughed to himself, a sound that faded away when he noticed his alternate wasn’t laughing with him. “Jeez, did they ram a rod up your ass when you got that badge or something?”

“That was meant to be funny?” Phil rolled his eyes and motioned toward the corner of building. “Come on, we can get the elevator from the parking lot straight to my floor, that way only my secretary will see us.”

Leela stopped in her tracks. “You have a secretary?”

The elevator opened on to a brightly lit corridor, facing a blank, pale grey wall that seemed perfectly smooth until you got up close enough to see the faint stucco of a badly applied spray paint. Phil leaned out and peered up and down the corridor, then stepped out, and hastily tucked in his shirt. “Come on, this way.”

They followed him out, Fry and Leela supporting Blue under each arm. Her head lolled against her chest but she seemed to be paying at least some attention to where they were; every now and then she’d open her eye and look around, though most of the time she just fixed a gaze on Fry. It didn’t seem to matter which, the dark look of betrayal was always the same. Fry had tried returning her stare a few times but the gaze was so steady, and so empty, that eventually he gave up trying.

If the streets were deserted, the interior of the building felt emptier still. Fry glanced up and down the corridor a few times as they followed Phil, certain he could feel eyes burrowing into the back of his head every time he looked away, but when he glanced behind him there was just more empty corridor. Not even a security camera – though he was sure they could hide cameras in just about anything these days.

Phil halted at a door just before what seemed to be the corner of the building. He leaned over the door and tapped a code into a keypad at the side.

“Here we go, make yourselves at home,” he said as he pushed the door open and disappeared inside.

The office was spectacular, with windows along two walls of the office, though the far window was partly hidden by a partition that separated what was evidently a waiting area and the secretary’s desk from Phil’s own private office. Fry's nostrils flared slightly as the scent of freshly brewed coffee wafted through the air just as Phil turned back from a small pot that was perking by the secretary’s desk and held up a mug.


“This is incredible,” Leela said. She helped Blue down to a couch by the window and then turned to look out at the city. After a moment she turned back and took the coffee from Phil’s hand, then offered it to her counterpart. Blue, her eye fixed on a spot just beyond the coffee table, pushed the drink away.

“Granted, the view isn’t that spectacular... how on earth did you get an office like this?”

“Well I was going to explain that to you, um... her...” Phil’s voice faded away as he regarded the two Leela’s. He didn’t look confused, though, which Leela found interesting. More puzzled. “When they re-ran the aptitude tests the computer came up with a different occupation for me. I’m a flying instructor attached to the central bureaucracy, or I was for a while, until I got promoted. Now I just stamp things.”

Phil picked up a rubber stamp from his secretary’s desk and held it up to his face with a dismissive air. “It pays well, but I’d rather be flying again.”

“I’m having trouble with this idea that you could actually fly anything,” Leela said with a dubious glance toward Fry. He was standing by the window, staring up at what few clouds had stuck around since last-night’s rain, completely oblivious to the conversation.

“The computers said I had a natural aptitude for it. I guess all that time on Falcon Four did it.”

“You played those lame flight simulators?” Fry turned from the window with a dismissive sneer. “No wonder you’re a dork!”

Phil blinked at the insult and raised his eyebrows but, again, he refused to be drawn. He turned to the secretary’s desk and leafed through a few pieces of paper.

“So, tell me, what were you in here for?”

Leela put down the coffee – it smelled good, but she wasn’t really interested.

“We’re trying to get my, her, space captain’s license back. The clerk downstairs denied it,” she added. Leela leaned down and plucked the papers from Blue’s pocket. Blue made a half-hearted grab for the papers but was just a little too slow for Leela, who held them out of reach until she could hand them to Phil.

“Well I can’t see why she would do that,” he said, pausing on the second page. “I mean apart from the obvious depth perception problem there’s nothing here that would count against you. I’ve licensed one-eyed pilots with far worse records than this.”

Blue looked up. “You have?”

“Sure, there was this one guy... wait a moment.” Phil stood up, placed the papers on the desk and smoothed them out, then pressed an intercom button. “Sandra, are you in there digging through my files again?”

The voice that replied sounded very blonde. “Uh... I don’t know, am I?

“Sure you are,” Phil said with a small grin. He winked at Leela and let go of the button for a second.

“I told here there’s an incomplete section twenty six in there somewhere, she’s spent the last month trying to find it” he said with a chuckle. Leela figured it must be some sort of bureaucrat joke. “Sandra, can you find an eleven sixty-two stroke B and a fifteen dash Z requisition please?”

Right on it...” Phil leaned back on the desk. A moment later his office door opened and a – yes, blonde, Leela thought with a sigh – woman in a pink dress and hair tied up in a severe bun walked out holding a small folder in her hands. She stopped when she saw Leela and stared right at her.

“Don’t say eye,” Leela said, bunching her fists before she could stop herself. Sandra blinked and smiled.

“I wasn’t thinking it. Oops!” She put the top of the folder over her mouth and giggled nervously. “Sorry, I’m all over the place today. You...” Sandra’s voice trailed off as she turned and spotted Blue. And then Fry. She blinked again a few times and placed the folder on the desk as she turned, very deliberately, away from the scene. “You want me to cancel your afternoon appointments, Mr Fry?”

Phil, eyes now fixed on Blue, nodded slowly. “Sure. Oh, and can you go and find out who denied this application downstairs please?”

“Right away, Mr Fry,” Sandra said, taking the note Phil handed her before wiggling out of the office. She paused at the door, looked back at the strange group and, for a moment, her brow twisted up in confusion, then she was gone. Phil got up from the desk, wandered into his office and closed the door behind him, leaving the three alone in the reception area.

“I can’t believe that jerk.” Fry slumped down on a convenient chair with a loud sigh. He picked up a magazine and thumbed through it aimlessly, then tossed it back on the table. “How come he gets all this great stuff and all I get is a stupid delivery job?”

I heard that,” Phil said over the intercom. Leela turned to Fry and mouthed a silent reprimand at him, but Fry just buried himself in another magazine and ignored her. Phil opened his door again and wiggled a finger at her. “Can you all come in here please?”

Phil retreated back to his office again. Leela and Fry looked at each other and shrugged, then turned to follow until Leela realised her counterpart was still sat down. She turned around and looked at herself. Blue hadn’t moved an inch from the place she’d sat down, not even to look at the magazines. She was staring at the table, her face slack and blank.

“Hey, come on, this is your job, not mine. You should be dealing with it.”

“I can barely deal with being sober.”

Blue flopped over on her side and let out a plaintive sigh. Leela waved Fry into the office and walked back over to Blue, who groaned as Leela dragged her upright again but didn't resist.

“You’re embarrassing yourself,” Leela said. She hooked an arm under Blue’s shoulder and lifted her to her feet.

“Why can’t you just leave me be?”

“Because I want to go home, and getting you your job back is apparently the only way I can do that.” Even if you are possibly insane, she didn’t add.

Leela tugged at her counterpart again and, by degrees, managed to lurch her into Phil’s office, where she dumped Blue on the chair in front of Phil’s desk and then went to lean against the wall, panting slightly from the exertion of dragging herself across the room. I need to lose some weight.

Phil smiled at them both from behind his desk. In the far corner, Fry stared at his counterpart with barely disguised contempt, but Phil seemed quite determined to ignore him as he tapped away at his screen. For a while the sound of his industrious typing was the only thing that broke the silence in the well apportioned office until he looked up at Blue with a sour expression.

“All right, I’ve found out why you were denied. Someone’s put a permanent block on your license.”


“Who would do such a thing?” Leela walked over to her counterpart’s chair and put her hand on the back, just far enough forward that her fingers brushed against Blue’s shoulder. She looked up at Leela, resignation clouding her eye, and then down at her hands that rested limp on her knees.

“I know who...” she turned to look at Phil, suddenly very earnest. “Can you do anything about it?”

“I’ll have a look,” he said as he tapped at the screen again. A warning popped up though, oddly, Phil smiled at the sight.

“Looks like I can help you after all. There’s supposed to be an accompanying request for confirmation on a block like this but there wasn’t one recorded, which means that the block isn’t actually permanent. I’ll just remove the block and you can have your license back.”

“When?” Blue leaned toward Phil with an almost hungry look on her face.

Phil leaned back from her sudden eagerness. He laughed nervously. “Right about now,” he said, as a slot opened up in his desk. A message tube rose up and then ejected a message capsule into Phil’s waiting hands. Phil opened up the capsule and pulled out a sheet of paper. “Voyla.”

“It’s ‘voilà’,” Fry muttered. He pointed at Phil. “Yeah, I can speak French better than you do, how do you like them bananas!”

“I earn forty thousand dollars a year,” Phil said without looking around. Fry’s shoulders sagged in defeat. He slumped back against the panelled wall and grumbled under his breath. Phil flattened out the papers on his desk before holding a stubby pen toward Blue.

“You just need to sign here and here. And here. Initial here here and here, nose-print there,” he added, holding out an ink pad while Blue rattled off a string of signatures. Leela and Fry looked at each other, a strange understanding passing between them as Phil rattled off a list of extra places to sign or mark. She walked over to stand by Fry while they watched.

“It’s like he’s Hermes.”

“Only more handsome?” Fry finished. He held up both thumbs toward himself and grinned. “You know that’s what you were gonna say, Leela.”

“No, actually, I wasn’t going to say anything,” Leela retorted. She folded her arms and looked away for a moment, but couldn’t help her view dragging back to the sight of Phil’s industriously bureaucratic rambling. Her eye narrowed. “He might be rich and better dressed, but...”

The unfinished sentence hung in the air between them. Fry, in a moment of unusual clarity, realised he probably shouldn’t say anything to Leela right at that moment, so he clenched his jaw and watched his mirror-self shuffling paper instead. He could feel something wiggling inside his gut at the thought of what she might have said but, after so many disappointments from that quarter, he didn't know if it was worth the trouble to find out.

One final stamp and a smiling Phil handed over a completed pilot’s license to Blue.

“All done. I’ll just-”

He was interrupted by the buzzing intercom. Phil rolled his eyes and reached out to press the flashing line button. “Yes?”

There’s a Miss Proctor on the phone for you, Mr Fry. She said it was urgent.

“Oh, Morgan... put her through.” Phil looked up at Blue again and his smile faltered. She was staring at him, her brow wrinkled and her expression frozen in shock. “Are you all right?”

“You... you know... her?

“Morgan? Sure, I... hang on,” he added as the phone on his desk rang. Phil picked it up and settled it to his ear. “Hi honey, how’s things? What?”

Phil turned away from the desk and looked out of the window. Every ear in the room strained to hear the other half of his conversation but he had the phone pressed to close to his ear. “Right. I’ll... you what?”

Honey? Leela mouthed at Fry. He shrugged and shook his head as if to say don’t go there. They both looked down at Blue again to see how she was reacting, though Fry probably knew better than Leela herself; he could easily recognise the sort of closed look Leela had when she was about to chew him out for something, but this Leela’s lack of confidence seemed to have betrayed her now, to the point where she seemed unable to work up the courage to say anything. He was almost thankful, even if it was a loser version of himself that would have got the dressing-down. Leela in a bad mood was not a sight he liked to see.

“All right, I’ll look into it. Yeah. I love y- right. I... right. See you later.” Phil turned back to his desk and put the phone down, then he carefully rested his hands on the sheer ebon surface and rattled his fingers a few times. He fixed a thoughtful look on Blue and tipped his head to one side as he considered his options. “That was... educational. Does someone want to tell me what’s going on?”

“You know Morgan Proctor,” Blue said. It wasn’t a question, in fact it sounded more like an accusation than anything else. She gathered up her papers and pushed the chair back. “Thank you for your time, Mr Fry, but I think I’ll be leaving now.”

“Wait...” Phil stood up and put his hand on the papers. He looked into Blue’s eye, his own eyes wide with... something. Longing? Whatever it was seemed to give Blue pause to think, as she slowly sat down again. Phil smiled a little sadly at her. “Morgan... Miss Proctor... just told me she was the one who placed the block on your file.”

“I knew it! That bitch-”

“Is my wife,” Phil finished coldly. He glanced over at Fry. “I guess you never met her in your universe?”

“Oh, we did,” Fry said quietly, shaking his head at the memory. The idea of marrying that woman was more than a little scary. Then again what could you expect from someone who played flight simulators?

“So you two are married...” Leela said, just as quietly.

“And she had me fired,” Blue added with some feeling. She brandished the papers at Phil like a shield. “She always had it in for me, ever since she came in to replace Hermes. So I had a few crashes that week. Everyone crashes their ship now and then, they’re practically built to be crashed! And then she refuses to give me compassionate leave to bury my own damned parents, and these people say you were supposed to be there to stop me killing them!”

Blue leaned over the desk, grabbed Phil by his lapels and dragged him across stacks of paper and stationery, knocking them all over the floor. “You’re in it together aren’t you! You and her, you made me crazy so you could, could have... have something, I don’t know what it is but you... you...”

Phil struggled against Blue’s grip. “I didn’t even know she was working there!”

As fast as she'd grabbed hold of him, Blue let go again. Phil fell on to the desk with a loud thump. Blue slumped back into her chair, completely spent, and heaved out a gut-wrenching sob that had Fry and Leela by her side in an instant. They looked at each other across her head; Fry shrugged and backed off again to lean on the wall, leaving Leela alone to deal with the problem. Phil joined him a moment later, surprisingly unperturbed by the whole ordeal, though he looked at Fry with renewed interest.

“You spend a lot of time with this woman?”

Fry nodded. “Yeah.” He looked at his alter-ego, took in the suit and the still-ruffled shirt, then turned to look around the office before letting his gaze rest back on Leela again. “This is one screwed up world.”

“Tell me about it,” Phil said quietly. He held up his hand. There was a ring on his finger, and when he saw it Fry felt a pang of jealousy. Every single version of himself he’d met so far – all two of them – had been married. Happy. It wasn’t fair!

Phil let his hand drop again. “I don’t think Morgan would...”

His voice trailed off and they looked at each other. Of course she would, they both thought at the same time.

“In my world she tried to have Bender’s mind erased so she wouldn’t get demoted.”


“A robot. He’s my friend,” Fry said. He was looking at Leela again, unable to take his eyes off her in case she disappeared or something. He managed a quick glance at Phil.

“I always wanted a robot for a friend,” Phil said. Even Fry could hear the sadness in his voice. He patted his alter-self’s shoulder and tried to smile as Phil continued speaking. “Morgan said it was a stupid idea. She thinks all robots should have their personalities removed because it makes them inefficient.”

“Did you ever disagree with her?”

“You don’t disagree with Morgan.” Phil’s reply was accompanied by a smile that withered almost as soon as it appeared. He looked around his office and when he spoke again there was a bitterness in his voice that hadn’t been there before. “She’s my wife. I’m supposed to love her and sometimes... sometimes I see that woman I fell in love with. Mostly all I see is... she didn’t even take my name, said it was a waste of resources to change all the paperwork. Can you believe that?”

Fry nodded. He definitely could believe that of Morgan. There had been flashes of a woman who might have been fun to know but a lifetime of bureaucracy had wrapped her up in an impenetrable shell of red tape and efficient bluster. With everything he'd learned, it was getting hard to be angry at this rich and successful version of himself. Well, maybe he could be a bit angry; the guy did have such a nice office. Probably had a nice house in the suburbs too. And a car.

He turned, ready to let forth with another jibe to needle at the nerd but he was already gone, kneeling beside Blue, holding her hand and patting it gently while Leela looked on from a short distance.

“I’ll try and help you. You need to have your flying skills assessed by a flight instructor before you can officially fly again,” Phil was saying. He picked up Blue’s papers and handed them to her as he stood up. “Morgan can be prickly but I’m sure I can reason with her over this. She can’t place a block on your file without a very good reason, and once I’ve assessed you she won’t have it.”

Blue took the papers and looked into Phil’s eyes. “You... you’d do that? For me?”

“Sure! It’ll get me out of the office for a couple of days. Besides...” he sat on his desk and regarded Blue for a moment before going on. “If these two are anything to go by we could have been good friends and I guess I sort of owe you for how things have turned out.”

He winked at Fry again and then smiled at Leela before standing up. Fry was starting to find that wink annoying. Phil made his way back around the desk and poked his intercom again. “Sandra, I’m going out for a couple of days, take care of the paperwork for me will you?”

Right on it, Mr Fry,” Sandra replied. Phil picked up an attaché case was in the process of loading it when the intercom buzzed again.


Should I be duplicating all your paperwork now, sir?

“No... why would you do that?”

Oh. No reason.” The intercom clicked off. Phil stared at it for a moment, then looked up at Fry, his brow furrowed in something like confusion. He finished packing his case and snapped the lid shut before looking at the assembled group again.

“Right. I’ll just swing by my place to pack some things and then meet you... where?”

“Planet Express,” Blue said. She stood up. “It’s where your wife keeps my ship.”

Phil smiled again, though more nervously this time. He held up a placating hand. “I’ll talk to her. Just meet me outside the building in an hour.”