The commotion in the lounge was drowned out by the roar of the Planet Express ship as it descended, a little the worse for whatever hazards it had encountered on its journey. Fry could see a few nicks and scratches in the paintwork and a nasty scorch mark on the starboard wing.
The second the ship touched down an incredibly pale-faced Yancy came tearing down the gangway and underneath the balcony to the lockers. Fry almost tipped head-first over the railing as he tried to watch his brother though, fortunately, Amy managed to catch the back of his jacket before he fell. He smiled a thanks at her and trotted down the stairs to the lockers.
Locker-rooms always look the same and always have that distinct slightly damp leathery smell no matter how well they’re cared for. Of course this one was no different, though Fry did notice there wasn’t the usual odour of stale Slurm about the place. When I get back I’ll clean out my locker, he thought. And then he frowned. That was assuming he ever got back.
“Hey, Yancy? Bro?” Fry edged through the locker-room, listening cautiously. Yancy hadn’t looked very happy in the brief glimpse Fry had of him, there was no telling how he’d act, and he wasn’t keen on getting into a shouting match so soon after the last one. He eventually reached the bathroom. It was locked.
A loud groan was the only answer he got at first. Fry was just wondering if he should try and break in to help his brother when the lock shot back and Yancy emerged, shaking and pale. He leaned on the door-frame for support and groaned again.
“It’s insane.” Yancy wiped his sleeve across his mouth. He stumbled over to the benches and sat down heavily. “It’s absolutely, utterly insane...”
Yancy gestured across the hangar at the ship. Veklerov was walking around it, inspecting the hull with scan-o-scope goggles panted firmly on his face, making notes on a computer pad. Fry shrugged and sat down next to his brother. He looked incredibly pale.
“It’s just the ship.”
“Just... you’re kidding, right? That thing goes out into space! You can die in space!”
“You can die down here just as easily you know,” Fry retorted, his mind running back over the many, many times he’d almost died right out on the streets of New New York.
“Down here doesn’t suck your lungs right out of your mouth and make your eyeballs explode.”
Yancy stared at Fry as if just realising who he was talking to. That annoying cynical sneer was back again, the angrily assumed superiority that Fry had always hated from his brother who, let’s face it, wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box. And that’s me saying it Fry thought, surprised at himself and harbouring a certain guilty pleasure at the little pun he’d come up with. His brother seemed confused by Fry’s lack of terror at the thought of space flight, too. Oh he knew there was danger involved, but the sheer excitement of being out there...
“It’s no big deal, that’s what the ship is for. Didn’t you ever want to go into space when we were kids?”
“No, it’s stupid, and it’s dangerous.”
“Couldn’t you just go work somewhere else?”
Yancy’s only reply was a half-hearted gesture toward a ‘You Gotta Do’ poster on the wall, one that Fry had completely forgotten about, largely because he enjoyed his job too much to care. Oh, sure, there were times when he got dumped on, and the pay wasn’t brilliant, but the chance to go out into space, hang around with his friends... he realised he was staring at the ship and smiling. Even if it wasn’t ‘his’ ship – or Leela’s – it was still the ship.
“You’re telling me you like going up in that thing?”
Fry felt like he’d been punched. Yancy’s disgust couldn’t be more obvious if he’d spat in Fry’s face.
“Yeah, it’s fun. I get to see things that most people never even dreamed about. I’ve been to the moon, I’ve seen things you wouldn’t even believe! How many people from our time can say that?”
“You’re as crazy as he is,” Yancy yelled, gesturing at Vek as he entered the lockers. The pilot paused at Yancy’s outburst and made a face before continuing to his locker. Which just happened to be where Leela’s locker normally was.
“Hey, isn’t that-”
“So many questions eh? What is with your family, always asking questions and shouting at people?” Vek stuffed the goggles into his locker and pulled out a coat, which he slung over one shoulder. “Yanchovich, go secure the primary buffer panel before you run off home, I don’t want it just falling off again. And you,” he added, pointing at Fry. “Professor wants you in his lab again.”
“Did he say what for?”
“Well... did you see what for?”
Vek finished putting on his coat and started to pull a few personal items from the locker. “Nope!”
“Can’t you find-”
“Zacroy rot! Niet!” Vek slammed the door of his locker and marched toward the rear stairs. Fry leaped up, managing to catch up with Vek just as he reached the door. He grabbed the pilot’s coat and tugged at it. “What?”
“What did you say?”
“Perestan mne jabat mozgi svojimi voprosami!”
The door slammed shut in Fry’s face, leaving him none the wiser and feeling more than a little insulted. He wandered back out into the hangar to find Yancy, stood near the ship’s port wing, holding an odd contraption in his hands and staring at the more obvious damage to the ship’s hull. He turned slightly as Fry approached, grumbling at the machine in his hands.
“This is supposed to be Amy’s job, she’s the one with the engineering degree.”
“She is?” Fry glanced over his shoulder at Amy, ignoring his brother’s muttered complaints about his life. “Well, anyway, back home Leela does most of it.”
“Oh, yeah, the great fixer. Damn...” this was directed at the device Yancy held, which had started beeping a loud complaint. “Piece of junk!”
He threw the device to the floor and then kicked it for good measure, eliciting a series of shrill bleeps. The machine exploded in a shower of sparks and smoke that set the owls hooting and flapping around the hangar. They quickly settled down to add their own unique contribution to the damaged ship’s hull.
“Cram it, Phil! Just shut up! I’m sick of this job, I’m sick of this whole damn place and the last thing I need is you telling me how great you think it is!”
“Well... fine! Fine, I was just going to ask if you wanted to get a drink after work, but I guess you don’t need your stupid little brother around.”
Fry turned away from Yancy but then stopped. He looked back at his brother, trying to work out just what was going through his own head at the sight. “Yancy I haven’t seen you for nearly six years.”
“Six years, a thousand, what difference does it make? You screwed up my entire life, Phil! I was... I was going to propose, I had a job offer, I could have done anything but you had to get ill and convince me to help you out. Just one time, you said. Just once! Look where it got me!”
Yancy kicked the smouldering machine at his feet again, gave Fry a final haughty glare and stormed off back to the lockers. The owls high above seemed to be hooting laughter at Fry as he slouched after his brother, the way it seemed he always eventually did, with his face burning and his stomach clenched and boiling through sheer frustration. Was nobody in this universe going to be nice to him? Maybe if Leela... no, that was about as likely as him being made pope.
He heard Amy calling down from the balcony. She smiled at him. “What’s the matter, Red?”
“Oh... it’s nothin, just junk and stuff. I have to go see the professor about something, you wanna come?”
“Sure. Gotta look after the old guy anyway. Wait there, I’ll be right down.”