April 19, 3010
She was warm, but her alarm was going off and her bladder wanted out. She was comfortable in bed, but her bladder was insistent. She turned her alarm off blindly and pushed off the covers, getting really cold, really fast. Much faster than usual, she thought. Wonder why that is? It wasn’t supposed to get that cold last night, and I don’t remember opening a window. She sat up and the room spun and her head began throbbing. Lying back down, she tried to open her eye. It felt like someone had put sand paper and broken glass under her eyelid last night and now they were whacking the sides of her head with sledge hammers. At least her nightgown hadn’t bunched up on her while she was sleeping. Small favors, she thought.
Her bladder was being very insistent and she forced herself to her feet, using her bed frame to steady herself as she opened her eye a slit. She knew her way around the apartment blind, but she wanted to be careful with the way the walls and floor were misbehaving and rotating like they were. Through the slit, she noticed it was a lot lighter at this time of the morning than it usually was. I must have left the curtains open last night. Finding her way and taking care of her business, she looked into the bathroom mirror. She looked like hell. Her hair was an owl’s nest and her eye was very blood shot. It must have been a hell of a night, she thought. I wonder what happened. And she noticed that she was only wearing her panties. Well, she thought angrily grabbing her robe off the back of the door, that explains the cold. Then it started filtering back. Too much light, hair of the dog, half naked. Fry. He got me drunk, took advantage of me and left. That bastard!
Wait, if he took advantage of me, why would he put my underwear back on? That makes no sense. Walking back into her bedroom and getting her monocle, she found her nightgown folded (badly folded, but folded none the less) on her chair. This still wasn’t making any sense. Walking out into her living room, she saw it was a mess, but she vaguely remembered it being worse last night. Fry’s stuff was still piled up in the corner, so he obviously hadn’t run out on her again. Where the hell was he? Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the light on her answering machine blinking. Hitting the playback button, the machine announced that the message was left at 10:30 AM.
“Leela,” Hermes said. “We got work ta do. Where in Babylon are you?”
There was a click, followed by “Hermes,” Fry said. “Sorry I forgot to call this morning. Leela’s not coming in today. She has, uh, stomach flu. Yeah. She barely slept last night.”
“Well, who’s going to fly da ship? We got deliveries ta do today.”
"Well, how about-." BEEP. The machine turned off, cutting him off midsentence. If Hermes called at 10:30, what the hell time was it now? She headed into the kitchen and found her coffee mug and a bag of donuts on the counter next to a note. Adjusting her monocle, she read:
Had to go to work for you this morning. We both had a rough night, but I was in much better shape than you were this morning. Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of the ship for you. I took Nibbler with me, just in case. I’ll call you when we get back. We need to talk about a few things.
He went to work for me? What the hell time is it, anyway? She looked at the clock and had to grab her monocle. It was almost 1:30. He got her drunk, apparently didn’t take advantage of her, got her breakfast, went to work for her, and let her sleep it off. She shook her head and smiled as she took some aspirin and started a pot of coffee. I wonder what he wants to talk about. Does he remember what happened last night?
Deciding not to wait for him to call, she went to her bedroom to get her phone. More conscious this time, she noticed that some of the pictures on her dresser were disturbed. There were two in particular that she noticed. She picked up Gracie’s ultrasound and put it back into the top corner of the mirror where he (Who else could it have been?) had taken it from. It was the only baby picture of Grace that Leela had. It was too painful for her to see her baby in the pods at the NICU, let alone take a picture her. No. In the ultrasound she was still perfect. That’s the way she wanted to remember her.
The other picture was one that had been taken on the boat rides in Central Park. She didn’t remember taking the picture or even the ride. She only knew it happened because she found a camera in Fry’s things before they were moved to Brooklyn. On impulse, she developed the film and found this picture. Rushing back to his apartment, she rummaged through his things again and found other things that startled her. Sitting in the bottom of the box was a case with a holophoner in it. Sitting inside the case was a velvet bag, with his wedding band inside. She opened the top drawer of her dresser and pulled the bag out. Instead of one ring, though, there were now three inside: her engagement ring and their matching wedding bands. She kept them to remember him by. To remember that someone had truly loved her once, before everything had changed.
Closing the drawer and wiping her eye, she decided not to call him. It had been years since she trusted any man, but she thought after everything she had seen so far this morning, Fry deserved the benefit of the doubt. He said that he would call her when they got back, and she trusted him to do it. It was odd, trusting someone after so long, especially him. But it felt good to do it. It made her feel younger, happier. Feeling a little better, she decided that she needed a shower.
As she stood under the water, she tried to remember what had happened last night. She remembered putting Fry to bed around 7, and being disappointed that he fell asleep and they couldn’t really spend any more time together. She went to her room to read for a little while, but she was still up at 10 and feeling like she needed a drink to help get her to sleep. Just stress about the Professor. That was all. Nothing to do with Fry. Then Fry came in, gagged on, and then dumped out, her liquor. He asked her to order a pizza, and… Then what? It was all a blur. We must have had a good time, if I was almost completely naked by the time I went to bed. Ah, she thought smiling, whiskey you are the devil. Maybe Fry remembered. He probably did if he wanted to talk to her about a few things.
Her coffee was almost ready as she got dressed again and put their picture back. If things went well, maybe she’d be able to replace it with one she did remember taking. Sighing at her fantasy, she went to the kitchen to eat and wait for him to call.
Fry sat in her chair on the bridge performing the pre-flight checklist, Nibbler napping contently in the corner. He hadn’t wanted to leave this morning, but after promising him ham, Fry had to struggle to control the little poop machine. For a reason Fry could never understand, Nibbler always understood him when he promised him food. Was that little overgrown guinea pig intelligent?, he thought. Naw. Probably just smart enough to understand what food was.
He was still a little hung over, but he had a long time and a lot of coffee to sober himself up this morning before Hermes called. All he was left with was a headache and a short temper, being made shorter by the second by the long list of barely adequate systems that the Planet Express ship had.
“All right, all right all right,” said an accented voice behind him as the door opened. “What’s all this then? Amen.”
“Another dead bishop on the landing, vicar sergeant,” he replied automatically. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Bender. “I’m filling in for Leela today, Bender,” he said. “She’s sick. What’s with the accent?”
“Detective parson, Madame. Sick? Sick? Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Say no MORE! A piston engine?,” he shrieked in a barely feminine voice, edging on panic. “What about point-ed sticks? One of the cross-beams has gone out of skew on the treadmill? Dim of the Yard? Consternation! Uproar! Bicycle Repairman? Bicycle Repairman!!!,” he begged, sobbing, as he grabbed Fry by the shirt and shook him.
Fry reached down and opened his casing, flipping his voice modulator from Monty Python back to normal.
“Oh, sweet Lady Electricity. Thanks, Fry. I don’t know why I ever installed that damn thing. It’s been nothing but trouble. If I had sung about sperm or Spam or cross-dressing lumberjacks one more time, I think Susu would have tried to kill me. So where is Big Boots?”
“I told you, she’s sick,” he replied completing the list. He checked only five of the thirty items on the list as satisfactory, with the other twenty-five being barely adequate. I’ve been spoiled by equipment that actually works, he thought. Gotta get the Professor… No. Not anymore. Cubert will have to fix this.
“Sick, eh? You want to know what I think?”
“Not really Bender, but you’re probably going to tell me anyway.”
“I think,” the robot continued, ignoring Fry, “that the two of you interfaced last night, and she’s staying home out of shame. She is now, like last night, faking it.”
As he turned to say something to Bender, the door opened. “Package secure ma’am, uh, sir,” she said, sitting down at her station. “Hey. Who’s been messing with my chair?”
“Let’s do this,” he said, putting his foot down hard on the accelerator. There were three startled gasps as the ship leapt out of the hanger. Bender and Nibbler, not strapped in, flew to the back of the bridge. Susu, who was strapped in, grunted as the G-forces pushed her hard back into her seat. Fry smiled as he rocketed past the moon, still flooring it. Been a long time, he thought, as he set course for Gideon 3.
Two hours later, as they slid into the hanger, neither Fry’s headache nor his temper had gotten any better. Susu had done her job without incident, but Bender… He knew that his friend was trouble, but it had taken a seven year separation to realize exactly how much trouble. He had a greater respect for Leela for having to put up with the both of them for as long as she did.
“I don’t know what your problem is, Fry. You had plenty of time to get back to the bridge after I turned off the auto-pilot. He was cheating in our drinking contest. And he was counting cards, too. Ya can’t trust ‘em, I tells ya!”
“That’s not the point, Bender. I set the auto-pilot so I could use the bathroom. I was gone five minutes and we nearly flew into an asteroid field. I’d rather not lose second member of my family in two days, especially since it would have been me. I like being alive. It’s one of the things I’m good at.”
“College life’s made you soft, Fry. You used to laugh at danger. Welcome it. What happened to you?”
“I grew up, Bender. It happens to humans.”
“And that’s another reason that machines are better than you organ sacks. I’m outta this dump,” he said, lighting a cigar and pulling out a beer from inside of himself.
Shaking his head, Fry went over to where Hermes was standing and handed him the paperwork.
“Any issues wit da delivery, Fry,” he asked, stamping the forms.
“No more than usual, apparently. How much longer is Planet Express going to be open?”
“Dat depends,” Hermes said, looking up. “Tomorrow afternoon after the funeral is da readin’ of da will. At dat point, we’ll see.”
“Hate to see the place close,” Fry said looking around.
“So would I,” Hermes agreed. “I don’t need ta go lookin’ for a new job, mon. I like dis one.”
“Cubert should get the place, so he’ll probably have you and Leela keep running it.”
“We’ll see tomorrow, mon. Anyting wrong wit da ship?”
“Anyting? Try everyting," he said handing over the pre-flight checklist. “Five items out of thirty checked out as satisfactory. The rest were barely adequate. That thing is a flying deathtrap, Hermes.”
“Always has been, mon. Upgrades are expensive. Insurance isn’t. And since almost everyone here doesn’t have a next of kin listed on deir forms, it’s even cheaper. No one ta sue us when da ship goes down.”
“I can’t believe you,” Fry said. “No, wait. I can.” Shaking his head, he said, “Have Cubert or Amy check the right side engine. It kept trying to overheat. I’m going to see how Leela is doing.”
Cubert was standing at the top of the stairs, blocking his out of the lab area. Fry could smell the alcohol coming off of him in waves. “Well, if it isn’t the disappearing idiot,” he said, his voice dripping with contempt. “Where’s the eyeball?”
“Leela,” he said, trying really hard to control his already frayed temper, “is at home. She’s sick.”
“Sick of work, or sick of life? She’s tried that before, you know. Couple of times, now.” Making a ripping noise, Cubert ran his fingers across each of his wrists. “She should just do it and put us all out of her misery. One less alien freak.”
Fry leapt up the stairs at him, grabbing him by the throat and slamming him down on top of the lab table. “Your father just died, Cubert, and you’re drunk. So, I’m going to give you a break this one time. If you ever say that again, there won’t be enough of you left to bury. Do we understand each other, nephew?”
“Yes?,” he said hesitantly, voice filled with fear.
“Yes, what?,” Fry said putting more of his weight down on top of Cubert, tightening the grip on his throat.
“Yes, Uncle Phil,” he croaked.
“That’s better,” he said easing off of him. “Just remember that you and I are the only ones left of my entire family. Almost fifteen hundred years of history is down to you and me. Do you understand what that means, Cubert? It means that you have to grow up and stop acting like an ass. You are smarter than almost every being in the universe. Use your brain for once. As a Fry, you're a good looking enough guy, but acting like a total ass to everyone that you think is inferior is a good way to get yourself killed. I’m not the biggest or the baddest guy out there, and I threw you around like a rag doll. Remember that.
“I’m going to check on Leela. I’ll see you guys later. Call me if you need us for anything, Oh, and Cubert, you might want to change your pants.”
About ten minutes or so after she sat down to eat, Leela heard her apartment door open and Nibbler yipping excitedly. Fry followed a few seconds later, her keys in one hand and a bottle of Orange Slurm in the other.
“Sorry,” he said setting the keys down on the table. “I needed these this morning and you weren’t really in any condition to ask. How are you feeling? How long have you been up?”
"I’m feeling much better, thanks," she said, smiling and taking a drink of her coffee. "Thanks for breakfast, by the way," she added. “I’ve only been up for about half an hour or so. Everything go ok with the delivery?"
"Perfectly," he said, slumping down in the chair next to her. As the caffeine rush was wearing off, he was starting to feel exhausted. He hadn’t really slept since Tuesday night and, with as busy as today had been already, it was starting to catch up with him. "Bender gave me some perspective into what you had to go through with the two of us for all those years. I am so sorry for everything we did. I honestly don’t know how you got through it without killing one of us."
"Oh, you find ways," she said, putting her hand on top of his. "Thank you, Fry. You didn’t have to do it. You shouldn’t have done it. You must be exhausted. You should rest."
"I am exhausted and I’ll rest soon, but we need to talk for a few minutes first."
"Oh," she said, bracing herself for what was coming. "What do you want to talk about?"
"That picture of us on your dresser. Where did you get it from? When did we take it?"
She sat staring into her coffee for a long time. Finally, “That picture was taken during the time skips. It must have happened a day or two before our wedding. I don’t remember it ever happening."
"Where did you find it?"
"There was a camera in the box of your stuff that Bender didn’t sell. I’m not sure who packed it, but it wasn’t me. I checked the pictures, and that was the only one that stood out. The rest were site-seeing photos of some forest and a city that I couldn’t recognize."
"Did you find anything else in the box?"
"I think you know what I’m looking for, Leela."
Sighing, she finished her coffee and got up, saying, "I’ll be right back."
The wait, although only a few minutes, seemed like an eternity. Taking a long drink of his Slurm, he hoped that he knew what he was doing. She walked back into the kitchen carrying two things he recognized: one was his holophoner case and the other was a purple velvet bag. Checking the case first, everything looked in order, if in need of a cleaning. He opened the bag and looked inside.
"Why," he said, looking up at her.
"After you left, I was hurt. When I found out I was pregnant, I was very angry. When I found out I was a mutant, I was horribly depressed. When I found the camera, I was lonely and angry with myself for driving you away. I kept them to remind me that I was happy once. And that once, someone loved me very much for who I was and not what I was. I was a fool, Fry. I’m sorry for what I did to you. Can you ever forgive me?"
"There’s nothing to forgive, Leela. Can you ever forgive me?"
"For running away. Not being here when you needed me. Or when she needed me."
"There’s nothing to forgive, Fry. You didn’t even know about any of it. The one person I can’t forgive is myself. I never told you and I should have.”
He took her hands and held them for a while before nodding. Picking up her right hand, he slid the diamond ring onto her third finger. "Pretty woman like you needs to be wearing this, not just letting it sit in a drawer."
"Fry," she said hesitantly. "Philip, what are you doing?"
Ignoring her, he slid her wedding band on next. "There," he said, still holding her hand. "Much better. How does that feel?"
"Why?," she said, looking at her right hand through a watery eye.
"Someone still loves you very much for who you are and not what you are. Or aren’t, for that matter. And that person still wants you, very, very much."
"What happened last night, Fry?"
"We got drunk and tried to throw ourselves at each other. I stopped you and you thought it was because you were a mutant. You started screaming at me, and then you ran into your bedroom and passed out. I tried to tell you that I wanted you, but I wanted you to remember it and not think that I was trying to take advantage of you. I respect you too much to do something like that to you."
"I hear it now, Fry. That counts," she said, leaning in and kissing him. "And right now, neither of us is under the influence of anything."
"Leela," he said slowly, trying not to sound too eager.
She rose and pulled him to his feet, pulling him after her, out of the kitchen and towards the bedroom. "It’s been a very long time, Fry, and neither of us remembered it happening the first time. I don’t want to forget it again."
Grinning, he let her pull him along into her bedroom.