Stranger In A Strange Land, part 7
By La Belle Leela
(Sidewalk outside Planet Express, 08/05/3008, sometime after Midnight)
"Ohhhhhhh, Bender is great,
Beeeender is great, BenderBenderBenderBender, IIIIIIIS
GREEEEEAAAAAT!" Fry & Leela stood silently as they saw it
was Bender coming down the street, singing at his maximum volume, and
dragging what appeared to be something human behind him. Bender
stepped under the streetlight at the corner, when Fry and Leela saw
this, they broke into a run. They gasped when they saw Bender was
lugging an inebriated, and unconcious Dave behind him. "Ooowaaahh!"
grunted Bender, "You're alot heavier than Fry, squishy!"
Bender said as he dropped Dave's legs to the pavement. "Bender!
what the hell are you doing?" shouted Fry & Leela in unison.
Bender faced Leela & Fry,
gesturing to Dave by pointing back over his shoulder, "Ahhh,
sausage link here was feelin' kinda down, and I was bored, as usual,
so I figured tonight being Ladies Night down at the bar, I'd take him
down there, have us a good time, rather than mope around here, or at
my place!" Leela studied Dave's sprawledout body on the
sidewalk, "How much did he drink?" she asked Bender with a
worried tone in her voice. "Aw, just 4 bottles of Boomshine,
(freakin' lightweight!)." The last part muttered under his
breath. "BENDER!" That stuff's only good for stripping
paint, or for robot fuel! did you stop to think, or tell him that?"
Leela said angrily. "Relax big boots, dummy here has quite a
tolerance for the stuff! I mean, Fry was throwin' up after only 5 or
6 shots!", "Well, we can't leave him out here, c'mon guys,
grab a leg." said Leela as she picked Dave up by his arms. They
carried Dave down 4 darkened city blocks, Leela becoming increasingly
agitated at Bender's stupidity. They reached the entrance to The
Robot Arms Apts, Leela proceeded to chew Bender out some more while
they waited for the elevator. Fry flung open the door, they carried
Dave inside, placing him gently on the couch, turning him on his
side, just in case. Leela waited a few minutes, just to be sure Dave
was still breathing, then headed for the door. "You two make
sure to check on him from time to time, he's gonna wish he was dead,
when he gets the mother of all hangovers in the morning." Leela
closed the door behind her, "ohhh we'll check on him." said
Fry with a mischevious grin plastered on his face, as he held up a
black marker pen. Fry & Bender giggled as they looked across the
room at Dave passed out on the couch.
(Planet Express building, 08/05/3008,
"Where in Bob Marley's ghost are
Fry and Bender?" shouted Hermes. The morning meeting was
supposed to start at 8am sharp, and Hermes was livid with rage. Fry
and Bender strolled in to the meeting, well over an hour late. "Sorry
everyone, we kinda overslept." Fry explained as Bender
interrupted him "yeah 'coz we were up so late drawing on-OW!
Hey! knock it off!" said Bender as Fry punched his side to quiet
him, so not to let the others know about their little "surprise".
Fry & Bender were still snickering a little as they took their
seats at the large, round conference table, letting Hermes continue
with his briefing. After 30 or 40 minutes into the meeting, the sound
of the large roll-up door in the hangar distracted everyone. Dave
came walking in, passed by the conference table without saying
anything, and headed for the locker room. When he returned, everyone
stopped, and looked at him, not saying a word. Fry & Bender
couldn't control themselves anymore, and burst into loud fits of
laughter. "What de hell's so funn-oh, sweet manta ray of Montego
bay!" snapped Hermes. Fry managed to stifle his laughter enough
to stand up & point to Dave's face, which was covered in black
marker scribbling, mostly anatomical obscenities. Bender had written
a large mass of ones, and zeros all over Dave's left cheek, &
neck. "Uhhhh, Dave, have you by any chance looked in a mirror
this morning?" asked Leela. Dave walked back into the locker
room, and quickly exclaimed "Ohhh, you guys are ASSES!"
Bender was especially proud of his pranking, and laughed even harder
when he saw the binary graffiti again, when Dave emerged from the
locker room. Leela cast an angry scowl in Fry & Bender's
direction, they stopped laughing immediatly. "Hey what's the big
deal, he lived didn't he? Serves him right for passing out."
said Bender. Leela didn't reply, she just sat quietly, still staring
daggers at Fry and Bender. "I can expect this kind of behavior
from Bender Fry, but I'd thought you'd grown out of this sort of
stuff. I thought you would have handled this with a little more
maturity. Fry didn't understand, Leela was genuinly concerned. "Fry,
he could have died from drinking that stuff last night, and all you
two could think about was drunken shaming!"
Bender yelled, "What are you
getting so worked up about Leela? He was never in any danger of
dying!" Hermes interrupted the argument, "Fight it out
later! You three have a job to do! These anvils ain't gonna deliver
'demselves to Stumbos-4!!!" A few hours later, Dave & the
Professor had replaced the damaged fusion extrapolators in his hover
truck's fuel cell. "Perhaps you'd like to go test drive it?"
asked Farnsworth. Dave sighed "Maybe later." Dave answered.
He was still very pale, and fighting the detox shakes from last
night. Dave left the hangar bay, walked into the TV room to lay down
for a while. Amy was already on the couch, watching All My Circuits.
"Woah, you look like robot hell!" exclaimed Amy. Dave
winced "Ohhh, please, not so loud!" Dave sat on the side of
the couch opposite Amy, they sat quietly, watching Calculon monologue
his way through yet-another wedding. "So,,,you & Bender have
a good time last night?" said Amy. "Well, O'Zorgnax's isn't
really a bar I'd hang out in, maybe it was just because it was Ladies
Night, but I prefer a darker, quieter place to punish my liver."
Dave said with a little smile. "Leela was really angry with Fry
& Bender, what did they do?" Dave turned his head, pointing
to the sore, red parts of his face where he'd spent the better part
of two hours scrubbing off Fry and Bender's obscene writing. Amy let
out high pitched giggle, "Hah! Drunken Shaming! I see that alot
at Mars University, especially around Spring Break,,,and Rush,,,and
midterms." Dave sat quietly, trying to settle into the corner of
the couch cushions with his eyes closed tightly, to keep the daylight
from the large bay window from getting through. Amy switched off the
TV, "Dave,,,can I ask you a serious question?", "Sure
Amy, what is it?" Dave answered groggily. Amy hesitated a bit,
trying to word her question carefully. "I noticed you seem to
give Leela alot of attention, what is it you like about her?"
Dave though for a moment, his brain was still in the midst of an epic
Neal Peart-esque drum solo from the hangover. "Amy,,,Leela isn't
like any other woman I've ever known. Physically, she is incredibly
beautiful,,,heat incarnate!, for lack of a better term. What's even
better about her is, I get this sense that she has this amazing inner
beauty, it's like her soul gives off this energy, which just makes me
feel really good, I can feel it all through me!" Dave replied
with a really big smile spreading across his face. Those words
temporarily made him forget the pain from the hangover. Amy spoke
"Oh,,,well,,I was just curious Dave, Leela's kinda like a big
sister to me. Not literally a sister, but I like to think of her as a
sister, since she's been there for me when I've had relationship
problems, or fears. Someday I'd like to return the favor for her."
Dave looked at her quizzically, "What are you saying Amy?"
She sighed heavily, "What I guess I'm trying to say is,,,I don't
wanna see Leela get hurt again." Amy explained to Dave about
Shawn, Adlai, Chaz, and she started to explain about Brannigan, but
Dave cut her off, saying he'd already crossed paths with that loser,
no explanation needed. "Amy, I think it's great you look out for
Leela like that, she's blessed to have a friend like you." Dave
paused, "But, yeah, I really do like Leela, alot! I just haven't
been able to work up the nerve to ask her if she'd like to go out for
coffee, or a walk, or something." Dave hesitated, his next words
came with a little difficulty. "Amy, please understand, I want
you to know that I've been hurt too, several times, and the last
woman nearly drove me suicidal, broken love is a pain I know all too
well." Amy's hand flew up to her mouth as she gasped. Dave
looked Amy in the eyes as he continued, "Amy, please know
this,,,I don't ever want to do anything to hurt Leela, I'd never
forgive myself." Amy looked a little distressed at first, but
she smiled at Dave, placed her hand on his knee, "Dave, it's ok,
I really appreciate you being honest with me. I just wanted to know
your intentions for Leela." Amy stood up, walked towards the
door, she stopped before leaving the room, and said "Dave, if
you & Leela do manage to start seeing each other, I just think
you two would be a great couple." Dave managed to give a little
smile, as he winced from the pain in his head. "Thanks Amy."
He settled back into the couch cushions, pulling the blanket over,
and around his head, to try and block as much light, and sound from
reaching his head as he fell asleep.
A few hours later he awoke, his
headache mercifully had stopped, but in it's place was a kind of
thirst usually associated with a trek across the desert. Dave
stumbled over to the small kitchen in the next room, opened the cold
water tap, and consuming several glasses of water. His thirst
vanquished, Dave let out a loud, satisfying belch. He looked around
the office to see if anyone was in. The Planet Express ship sat
silently in the hangar, Dave looked up at the ship's windows, "no
lights on, and it's after 6pm, they musta gone home" Dave
thought. The only person Dave found was The Professor, dozing
peacefully in his recliner back in his lab. Returning to the
conference table, Dave found a note "Dave - Hope you are feeling
better, if you leave, please lock up behind you. - H. Farnsworth"
Dave heard a rustling outside, probably Zoidberg rummaging through
the dumpster looking for dinner again, he thought. Dave decided to go
out, see some more of the city. The steel roll-up door clattered
shut, Dave snapped the padlock bolt closed, and climbed back into his
Hover-truck. The early evening sky had become considerably cloudy,
and a light rain began to fall. Dave sat while his truck warmed up.
He noticed Farnsworth had installed another switch on his dashboard.
The switch was guarded, and marked "MASTER ARM". Dave knew
this placard meant The Professor had installed some kind of weapon in
his truck, but decided that a crowded city street wasn't the best
location to test his theory.
Dave drove around for the better part
of an hour, he decided to park, and walk around a bit. Turning down a
small side street off the main avenue, Dave spied a parking space big
enough to accomodate the truck, and let the Dodge settle against the
curb with a gentle bump. Daylight was nearly gone, the streetlights
were starting to illuminate one at a time. All the sights, smells,
and sounds were mesmerizing. Dave walked around the large shopping
complex, admiring all the amazing 31st century gadgets, devices,
appliances, and clothing fashions each shop window had on display. A
group of young Neptunian women walked by, stopped, stared at Dave's
outfit for a minute, then continued on. He must have looked strange
to them, he was just dressed in his usual attire of a black T-shirt,
blue jeans, and black leather work boots. Dave heard one of the
Neptunians giggle as they walked away "Did you see that? he
looked sooooo 26th century, spluh!" Dave smiled a bit as he
walked on. He stopped in front of a large department store, "Alien
Overlord & Taylor". He entered the store, pausing to watch a
TV monitor featuring an old woman, her grey hair up in a double bun
give a speech about robot oil. "Hmmmm, that's gotta be that Mom
person Fry was telling me about" Dave thought.
Dave browsed through the store's three
levels for nearly an hour, before heading down to the food court for
some coffee. He found a seat in a empty part of the center atrium,
relaxing while the coffee cooled down enough to drink. Dave watched
as the milling throngs of people, robots, and alien races of all
sorts walked by. It was finally sinking in that he was living in a
time he never would have seen, if his lifetime had run it's course
back in the 21st century. When he finished, Dave strolled back
through the 1st floor of Alien Overlord & Taylor, back towards
the street exit doors. Dave rounded a corner, passing a large display
of Lightspeed Briefs, when he nearly jumped out of his skin in
surprise! Right in front of him, no more than 20 feet away, stood
Leela! She was standing at a checkout counter, not facing him, so she
had no idea he had seen her. Leela was engaged in conversation with
the young woman ringing up her purchase. Dave nervously edged his way
behind another display rack, pretending to study the price tags on a
pile of folded slacks, hoping Leela wouldn't see him, until he could
think of something to say to her. When Leela finished her transaction
with the clerk, she headed for the street exit. Dave had to act, his
mind was racing, he finally had the opportunity to talk to Leela away
from the Planet Express office, just the two of them. He kept trying
in vain to think of something to say, "why can't I just go up
and talk to her!, not just trail her like some creepy stalker!"
he thought. Leela had nearly a half a block head start, Dave was
having difficulty keeping an eye on her. Leela walked fast, Dave
could only manage to see her purple ponytail bobbing, as she made her
way down the street. It was dark now, the streetlights, and neon
signs from the shops shone brightly on the rain-slicked streets.
Leela turned right at the next
intersection, down the side street Dave had parked his truck on.
"Leela must live nearby, she didn't hail a cab leaving the
store." Dave thought. Leela darted across the side street, Dave
was nearly a full block behind her, but still managed to see her
cross the street, and start to go down a darkened alleyway. Dave's
pace quickened, he didn't want to lose her. Words, or no words, he
was going to say something to her tonight, anxiety be damned! As Dave
walked closer to the alley, he heard what sounded like shouting,
glass was breaking, A Fight! Dave knew what he'd heard next couldn't
be good, he heard Leela's high pitched "HEEEEE-YAHHH!" Dave
instantly broke into a run! The alley was long, and as he turned the
corner, he saw Leela execute a flawless high-flying kick to the face
of one of the two others he saw in the alley. She knocked the first
assailant out cold, but Leela slipped, and fell on the wet ground as
she completed her kick. Leela yelped in pain as she landed on her
back. The second assailant stood there staring at his unconcious
partner. He growled "youse knocked half his teeth out, youse
gonna pay now!" Leela was trying to stand up, but Dave could see
she seriously injured her leg in the fall. The second thug flashed a
knife from under his coat, maliciously staring at Leela as she
crawled backwards towards a dumpster & brick wall to try and pull
herself up to a defensive position. Leela's eye was wide with fear as
the knife-wielding thug advanced towards her. What happened next
couldn't have been anything short of a miracle. From out of the
shadows, Leela heard someone running, in nanoseconds, Leela saw the
thug get hit in midsection, and go down hard! Leela had been in many
a fight, violence was nothing new to her, but she had never seen
something as viceral as this. Her rescuer had the thug pinned to the
ground, landing one savage blow after another to his face. What
little light there was in the alleyway illuminated a ghastly scene.
Leela's attacker was getting the beating of his life, the pavement
around them was splattered with blood, and pieces of broken teeth.
The thug's beating was over as quickly as it had begun. The
samaritan's back was turned, Leela could not identify him in the dim
alley light. The stranger stood up, administering one final, savage
steel-toed kick to the head, knocking the thug out cold. Leela's
heart was thundering faster than a dark-matter reactor. She prepared
to defend herself, as the stranger turned around, and started walking
to where she lay. "Who the hell are you? identify yourself!"
she demanded. "Are you alright Leela?" the man said, as he
steppped into the light. Leela nearly fainted from the surprise.
"DAVE? y-y-you? I-I, where'd you-what just happened?" She
was shaking like a leaf, and starting to sob. "Leela! relax,
it's over, you're safe now." Dave spoke in a very calming tone.
He knelt down on the ground beside her, checking her over for
injuries. "Dave, Dave, where are they, they-he's got a knife!"
Leela said sobbing uncontrollably. Dave pointed over to the two
unconcious thugs on the ground "You clobbered the first one,
that guy there had the knife," Dave said pointing to the second,
well bloodied assailant. "He's out cold too, you're gonna be ok,
just tell me if you're injured." Leela composed herself "My
ankle,,,I think it's broken." Dave replied "I saw you fall
on it after you took out the first one. Do you think you can stand?"
Leela suddenly reached over, and threw both of her arms around Dave's
neck, and burying her face in his shoulder. "Oh I was so scared,
he-he was gonna kill me!" she cried as Dave held on to her. "I'm
here for you Leela, you're safe now" Dave kept re-assuring her,
as he gently stroked her hair. When her sobbing subsided, Leela sat
back up, looking Dave in his eyes, "Oh, I'm so embarassed, I
should have been able to take both of those bastards down, just
common street thugs!" One of the beaten-up thugs began to stir.
"Leela, can you stand?" Dave asked her again. Leela took
hold of Dave's arms as he pulled her to her feet. As soon as she was
up, she yelped in pain, and started to lose her balance. Dave caught
her, "Awright, I'm getting you to a hospital now!" he said.
"Put your right arm around my neck, and hold on." Dave
said, and with one swift movement, Dave picked Leela up in his arms,
and started to carry her towards the side street. "My truck's
parked not far from here Leela, hold on to me." Dave looked down
at Leela's face every few seconds, even through her pain, she smiled
at him when he looked at her. Dave took great care not to exacerbate
Leela's injured ankle When he placed her in his truck. He made sure
she was comfortable as possible before driving away.
(Taco Bellvue Hospital, 08/05/3008, 2130 NNY time)
The emergency room doors flew open as
Dave carried Leela in to be treated. Dave placed her down gently in a
chair, and went for a nurse. Dave hadn't even noticed his own
injuries. The fight with the knife-wielding thug had left Dave with
several cuts to his hands, as he disarmed him, and Dave's adrenaline
was so high, he didn't feel the pain. Leela was admitted, placed on a
gurney, and sent to an exam room. Dave yelled to her "I'll be
right here Leela, you'll be fine." as she was wheeled away. A
doctor led Dave to another room, he sat beside a small table with
first aid gear laid out. The doctor examined Dave, "Well, aside
from the lacerations and bruising, you'll be fine. What happened to
you & the young lady?" Dave explained the whole story, as
the doctor waved a silver metal cylinder back and forth over his
cuts, sparing no details of the attack. "She was incredibly
lucky you were there." Dave looked up, "Yeah, helluva way
to meet a girlfriend."
Dave's injuries now bandaged, he
returned to the admitting lobby to wait for Leela. He stopped at the
nurse's station, a tall dark female nurse was on duty, "How is
she? is she okay?" The nurse asked "who?", "Leela,
Turanga Leela, she's got the ankle injury." Dave said. The nurse
pulled a chart, flipped through it a bit, "She's gonna be just
fine honey, jus' relax." the nurse replied in a thick Jamaican
accent. Dave asked "Is it ok if I go see her?", "We're
not supposed to, but it's not too busy tonight honey, go on back
'dere, she's in 1224." Dave found the door, opened it a little,
knocked twice, "Leela, are you decent?", "Yeah, come
on in." Dave opened the door, Leela was lying on the exam bed,
she was sedated, but extremely happy to see Dave. He walked over,
hugged Leela tight, "Doc says your ankle's gonna be fine."
Dave noticed the metal bird-cage looking cylinder that was affixed to
Leela's right calf, extending down to her foot. "I just wanted
to check on you before the doctor comes back.", "Thanks
Dave, it was nice of you." she said with a bright smile. "I'll
be right outside waiting Leela, don't worry, you'll be fine."
Dave assured her, as he walked backwards out of the room.
It was almost midnight when Leela was
discharged from the hospital. She was walking under her own power
again, it was as if her ankle wasn't broken at all. Dave was napping
in a chair by the main entrance. Leela smiled when she saw him, she
walked over, gently placed her hand on his shoulder, Dave immediatly
snapped awake, looking right up at Leela's smiling face. "Heyyy,
I'm all set, we can go now." she said. The night air was
unusually cool for August, as Dave and Leela stepped outside of the
emergency room doors. "Would you like me to drive you home?"
Dave asked Leela? "I wouldn't have it any other way." she
(Outside Leela's Apartment building, 08/06/3008, 0045 NNY time)
Dave slowed his truck to a stop
outside the dingy 10-storey apartment building where Leela lived.
Dave exited first, walked around to the passenger side, and opened
the door for Leela. Dave extended his hand, Leela gladly took hold,
stepping out of his truck. They walked up the stairs to the entrance.
"Thanks again,,,if you hadn't been there,,,that could have
really turned ugly Dave.", "Leela, I would have done it all
over again without a second thought!" Leela said nothing, she
fixed her eye on his eyes, "You gonna be okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, my hands got dinged up a bit, but I'll live." Dave
said laughing a little. "Sooo, I guess this is good night."
Dave said. Leela walked down one step to where Dave was standing,
placing her arms around his shoulders, and resting her head against
his chest, as Dave put his arms around her back. They embraced for
only a moment, but Dave wished she'd never let go. "Goodnight
Dave, I'll see you in the morning." Leela said, as she walked
through the lobby doors to her apartment.
Dave stood out on the sidewalk until
she was gone. Before he turned to walk back to his truck, Dave looked
up, The night sky was clear and starry. Dave stood silently, like he
had done many times before, he offered his silent prayer "God, I
did something incredible tonight, I think she might be the one!"
Dave drove back to the Robot Arms Apts, Fry was snoring loudly on his
mattress in the corner, Bender was snoozing, while muttering his
usual "Nnnnngh, kill allll huuumannns!" Dave settled onto
the couch, closed his eyes, and a few minutes later opened them, got
up, walked over to the window, stared out at the twinkling New New
York skyline, and whispered "Good night Leela."