Everything was hazy. Then Leela heard her phone and realized it had been ringing for a while. She tried to shake her drowsiness away as she answered. The screen lit up with a panicked looking Amy and if her hair was any indication, she just woke up.
"Leela! I've been calling you forever! Are you alright?"
"Uh...yeah. Why?" The mist was starting to pull away and she was able to think a little more clearly. At first she noticed there were no flu symptoms rearing their ugly heads, so at least taking the few extra minutes to wake up would be a fair trade off. Not that it ever wasn't. She'd done this plenty of times before, which was why no one could ever recall her being sick.
"Because," she started to blurt out. "Well." She suddenly seemed very uncomfortable. Whatever she had been worried about, she wasn't too keen on sharing her source. "I kind of..."
Leela's voice came out with a little more edge then she meant it to. "Amy?"
The girl's head drooped. "I got an e-mail from Fry. He asked me to call and make sure you were okay. If you didn't answer I was going to go over there. But it you were fine, he wanted me to tell you to check around but to be careful."
"Check around?" She was confused by the statement, but brushed a bit of purple bangs out of her face and nodded. "Alright, if he thinks it's that important. Did he say anything about being back?" She tried to stay calm, but she couldn't hide all of the excitement that fueled her question.
"No. Just that he'd only talk to you about it."
After allowing herself a quick stretch, Leela got the feeling something was out of place. Whatever it was, it wasn't big enough to make her realize it right away. Even so, something just felt wrong. An observation of the room gave her no clues. Her closet was closed, the grate next to her headboard was intact, and nightstand and everything on it were in the same places as the night before.
"How could he tell me when he's coming back unless I already knew he was back," she thought out loud. It was the last thing she looked at, so her eye lingered on her wrist-com. If she had any inclination before to slap her forehead and shout 'duh', she would have acted on it now. Probably very hard and very loud.
Leela snatched the device up and punched a few keys as Amy smiled. "I was just going to say that. If he sent me something, he sent you something too." She was tempted to ask if there was anything like a kid in the backseat asks 'Are we there yet?', but she thought it would be in bad taste. And for once, she didn't do it anyway.
There were two messages that weren't there last night. The first was an online coupon for 20% off a ten pack of white tank tops. After discretely saving it, she moved on to the next one. It was labeled 'hey' and had been sent at 7:13 a.m.
Leela knew she should be happy. And she was for about a second. Then it warped into a knot in the pit of her stomach. It was a layer kind of thing; first it was unnerving, then it was unnerving because of just how unnerving it was. In spite of her own feelings, or because of them, she forced herself to open the e-mail.
im back just like i said. dont know when ill see you..sorry leels. ill get ready then wait here i dont feel too good. if im out just wake me up i wanna see you too.
She sighed; it was so little to go on. He didn't even say where he was. Mentioning that he didn't feel good didn't help much, but it was something he just needed a nap to get over, it couldn't be as bad as it sounded. All she wanted now was to find out where that nap could be taken.
"Amy? That e-mail he sent you, when did you get it?"
"It was...seven twenty-six. Why?"
She grinned. "No reason." Anyone would have told her she got hers first, but self consciousness was a harsh mistress. That was when that nagging feeling came back. Wanting anything to fight it, Leela started to reach for the picture on her nightstand. Somewhere along the way it got sidetracked and this resulted in her snapping her blanket up. She looked along her bed before it settled and took on a confused look.
"What are you looking for," Amy inquired.
"I can't find Phil."
The Martian did a double take. "No guh! If he was in your bed I'd think you would have noticed by n...oh, you mean the cat, right?"
Leela fought disbelief. "Yes, cat Phil. Not Fry Phil. What would he be doing in my apartment?"
Amy pondered, then smiled lasciviously.
Okay, I don't need this particular conversation path, Leela thought. Change of subject time. "Amy, I know it's a lot to ask, but could you do me a favor?"
"Aye aye, Captain." Her answer was accompanied by an enthusiastic salute. Evidently she thought her friend had been through enough teasing at this point.
"Give Bender a call and see if Fry's home," she said as she swung her legs off her bed.
"What makes you so sure he's coming back today?"
"Just a feeling. He had to send those messages from somewhere, so in the very likely event that our cook doesn't pick up, call Planet Express and ask Hermes to look around." She snapped the communicator onto her arm and checked the time. "He should be there by now."
Amy nodded. "Anything else?"
"That's it, thanks. I'm going down there myself once I get changed and-" A small crash from the living room got both their attention. Suddenly Fry's warning to be careful didn't seem so misplaced. "I'll call you back."
Leela clicked off the phone before the girl on the other end had a chance to protest. Pushing herself from her bed smoothly, she tip-toed to the door and was sure to go around the three squeaky spots in the floor. As she did before every fight she had time to actually prepare for, she drew a deep, calming breath and counted to five. Once centered, she opened the door and took her usual fighting stance.
The room was in the ramshackle state she'd imagined, but the person or persons that caused it were long gone. Her gaze slid across the place. While there were things on the floor and her only chair was on its side, it didn't look like anything was missing. Looking down, she gasped when she saw spots of blood. The largest was a mark in front of her door. Smaller spots were on the carpet leading out the door and there was even a few on the ceiling. The door was jammed open, a broken lamp preventing it from closing all the way. That must be why Phil's not here. At least, I hope so.
Her kitchen was worse then the living room because of the amount of glass in the cabinets and she took a shard in the foot as she inspected the damage. After dealing with the offending piece, she gathered her usual outfit and peeled off her pajamas to get changed.
I must have been really doped up if I didn't hear all that smashing. And someone must have made noise if there's blood everywhere. She didn't bother dropping her top and baggy shorts into her hamper. Her mind was preoccupied with the spot of red that had been under her pillow. She was surprised she didn't see it before, but without making her bed there was really no way she could have. Suddenly not wanting to be in a room that made her think her pet had been hurt, Leela saved her clean-up for later and kicked her crumpled lamp out of the way as she left for work.
It was a lovely day. Not a cloud in the bright, blue sky and there was a soft breeze that kept it from being too warm. All in all, anyone stuck in an office would have been very jealous of the woman they saw walking past the windows. She was lucky enough to enjoy one of New New York's rare gorgeous days. Then again, they had no way of knowing her mind was too busy to register the warming sun or the cool air. What looking like mild annoyance, perhaps caused by a change in plans, was really a much toned down mental turmoil.
She wasn't even paying any attention to where she was going. With her brain busy, her feet took it upon themselves to carry her to work. They knew the way and were more then used to being on auto pilot. Foremost on her mind was whenever there was man or beast named Phil around her, she couldn't seem to catch a break. Different emotions welling up, her legs more then once began to conspire with her vision to start a sprint. A block and a half from the red building that doubled as a hangout, though no one was sure why they'd started hanging out at work in the first place, their petition won and she dashed the rest of the way.
Amy was just inside the front doors, pacing in a small circle as her fingers fiddled with the cuffs of her sweatshirt. Not the kind of state you'd want to find someone in. She started when she saw Leela, but recovered before walking over. "I've got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?"
"I need good news right about now." On top of everything, her heel was starting to throb and she could feel the bandage coming loose.
Amy's face brightened considerably, all worry fleeing her. "You were right. Hermes found Fry asleep in the lounge about twenty minutes ago."
Too happy to even smile, Leela started to move towards the stairs. Amy had to catch her arm to stop her because she didn't see a point in getting her hopes up. "There's still bad news."
The woman's single eye closed and she sighed as dozens of situations formed in her mind. Because Fry was a part of these situations though, they all morphed to involve some sort of bodily injury. He'd lost his hands (twice!), his nose, and even his head, but it always turned out fine. Maybe the bad news wouldn't be so bad after all. "What is it this time? I really need to tell him something."
"Then you need to go this way." Leela found herself spun around and ushered to the entrance by the young engineer. Once back on the sidewalk and in the sun, she pointed down the street. "I didn't see him, but Hermes told me Fry was beat up pretty bad. He's on his way to Taco Bellevue right now."
She'd started to walk away when Amy called her. "Hey...since when do you braid your hair?" Leela felt around, then quickly pulled her scrunchy loose before tying up her usual ponytail.
"Since a few days ago. I just felt like it." Not wanting another interruption, she took off running.
Why are the nice days when everyone gets themselves hurt, the receptionist at the E.R. had time to ask herself during a lull in the action. All morning it was crazy. The kid that almost took his eye out with a science experiment, the woman who fell off a ladder doing Atheismo knows what, and that red-head. Looked like he was in a bar brawl or something. Got his nose crooked pretty bad too.
Before that last parade of people, she'd checked the clock and knew she had a break coming. She turned away from the paperwork detailing her latest admission and found the clock missing. Between her and it was a face both framed by and half hidden behind hair that matched her can of grape soda. Being so used to the sights of aliens the word might not have even crossed her mind, but purple locks weren't something seen everyday.
At first, worry had fueled Leela's pace. Then she realized she was running into a conversation she wasn't sure she was ready to have. All the time she was supposed to be planning out her words she spent split between finding comfort in her tabby and pining for Fry's presence. That meant she had no idea what she would tell the delivery boy when she saw him. She couldn't just chicken out and say nothing; if she kept her word to a coin she had to keep it to herself and to him. Being direct was one option, but she couldn't imagine just blurting out 'I love you' even if it was true. She couldn't figure out how she was going to cram a week's worth of thought into one morning, but walking to the E.R. rather then taking a tube would definitely help.
"...help you? Miss?"
"Can I help you with something?"
Leela shook her head. Her latest dive into her own mind had left her staring blankly at the other side of the counter. It was kind of embarrassing, really. "I'm looking for Phillip Fry. My friend told me he was brought here this morning."
A few keystrokes and the nurse nodded. "You were told right. It says here that 'Fry, Phillip J.' was admitted and is now resting in the ICU."
"Can I see him?"
It was then that she got the question no one wants to get while looking for answers. "Are you family?"
Crap! Crapcrapcrap! Faced with that, the shady and more manipulative part of her mind opened up. Quick, lie! Lie your teeth out if you have to.
I can't do that.
Yes, you can. It's not going to hurt anyone.
That's not the point.
No, it's not. The point is your friend is hurt and alone. How many times have you lied to get away from lover boy?
She only slightly reeled at her own mind referring to him in such a manner. Did you really just call him that?
Yes, you did. Now answer the question, how many times?
Exactly. Think of this one lie to get closer to him as your way of evening things out. Now...lie like a rug!
"No, I'm not."
"I'm sorry, but it's family only." She paused before going on. "Of course, if you were married or even engaged I could let you in. Little loophole."
Leela's head snapped up and she was met by an innocent smile. It seemed she wasn't the only one that wanted to bend the rules, so she decided to take the blatant offer. "We are engaged."
"Good for you," the woman smiled and reached for a phone. "This will just be a minute." After a few seconds, whoever was on the other end picked up. "Dr. Pyke? There's someone here to see Mr. Fry...Mm-hm...His fiancé," she started, looking up and mouthing 'name'.
"Leela...yes......really?" Her tone was disbelieving, but when she looked up again her features were pulled into a grin. "Alright, I'll tell her." After hanging up, she moved her hands together on the desk. "It's a good thing you showed up; it seems he's been asking for you."
"He has? So he's okay?"
"He's stable now. Pyke said he was drifting in and out, but conscious or not he kept mentioning your name." She stood, and then leaned over to point at the floor as well as the different colored lines painted there. "Blue leads to intensive care. The doctor will meet you and give you more details."
She nodded and started to follow the line to a set of double doors, but again she was stopped before she could get clear. "One thing...I won't stop you if you can't tell me, but if you're really engaged you should know his blood type, right?" The nurse was looking at her computer screen, so she was probably waiting for a lie.
Turning again, Leela simply called over her shoulder. "He's type B."
After the person she thought was an alien was out of sight, she filled in the blank blood type spot in the chart. That's good to know if he needs a transfusion the next time he shows up.
While standing outside of the room Fry was in and watching Dr. Pyke leave, Leela wondered how a situation like this could come to pass. All the dangerous places they'd been to and all the hostile beings they'd met and somehow Fry managed to get beaten to a pulp without even leaving the planet. At least, she could only assume he hadn't left. He told her he was nearby and it would be hard to give her a warning about her own apartment if he didn't think there was something to be wary of.
"In a way he's lucky, Pyke had told her. "All his injuries just need time. We thought he might have internal bleeding, but really his arm is the worst of it.
Fry rolled his head when he heard the door open, but a curtain blocked his view. He didn't feel any pain for the first time that day, but his left arm was in a sling and he was very aware of his right eye being swollen shut. Turning the other way to get a look around, he had to squint against the bright light filtering through the window. Well, I'm not at work anymore. I wonder what happened. Oh man, I hope Leela's okay.
He closed his uninjured eye and sighed, letting his head drop back into the grove it formed in his pillow. As he did so, he was unaware that the person he was worried about was watching from no more then five feet away. She silently moved to his bedside and had to force back a grimace; more of the right side of his face was puffed up and the immediate area around his eye was starting to turn dark purple.
Fry, what happened to you? She shook her head and smiled warmly. "Hey idiot."
His eye opened slowly. No way. Once he saw her, he just had to smile back. "Hi Leela."
After a few minutes of catching up, Leela ended up sitting on the edge of Fry's bed despite the chairs in the room. Most of this time was spent going over his wounds, which they both soon admitted weren't hospitalization-worthy. His eye was dramatic, but would take the least amount of time to heal. Second in the race to maim him was a tie between the gash on his leg that needed some twenty stitches to close and the three bruised ribs that doctors just had to x-ray to make sure they weren't broken. This also helped determine that there wasn't any blood pooling from a punctured lung.
Last, but very far from least, was his over-extended elbow. It wasn't life threatening by any means, but it was the main reason he'd been given painkillers. It was Pyke's expert opinion that it wasn't any sort of accident. Most likely someone had pulled Fry's arm backward almost to the point of snapping his tendons. Like everything else, he refused to talk about it and stayed fixed on getting out of there as soon as possible.
"I hate hospitals," he muttered while Leela helped him get his pants and shirt on. It was the third time he'd mentioned that fact. Once when she called Amy and again while they were waiting for her to drop off his clothes.
"You hate hospitals? But they're there to help you get better."
"I know. It's the smell. Y'know, that alcohol and rubber glove smell?" When she nodded, he made a face to further his point. Then he stood and she draped his jacket over his shoulders. "It just reminds me of the times I was sick enough to come here."
"But you weren't sick the last time you were here, remember?" Hoisting his arm up, Leela help it behind her neck and leaned slightly to keep his weight from pulling at his stitches. "You kept breathing in that smell because of me."
Fry shook his head. "That wasn't your fault. It was my decision to stay." He gave her shoulders a squeeze as they slowly hobbled to the door. "Y'know I don't even remember that smell being around that whole time, but now whenever I even see this place the first thing I think of is you in that bed."
Leela could only assume it wasn't visible, but she could feel a shudder through his arm. Her time in a coma was obviously not one of his favorite memories. They stayed silent about the whole thing while he was being discharged, but when they got into the fresh air Fry looked up at the imposing building.
"Hey, Leela? Do you think hospitals have memories?"
That question seemed a little deep for him, but he went on without waiting for an answer.
"I think they do. I think as soon as I got here, this one said, 'Hey, aren't you the guy that needed his arm and leg reattached because a crab doctor chopped them off three years ago?' And when you showed up it said, 'You're the one that was blinded by a spice weasel two and a half years ago.' A talking hospital, that would be cool!"
Leela stared blankly as a part of her pondered and tried in vain to appeal to what used to be her higher sense. And this is the guy you fell in love with?
Yes, quit asking. "You're still feeling those painkillers, aren't you?"
He nodded and took a deep breath. "My side feels kind of tight, but it doesn't hurt."
All the memory talk (even Fry's morphine induced bits) had given the more lucid of the two an idea. Still holding her friend's wrist and waist, Leela did a 180 and walked them right back through the front doors much to the surprise of Fry and the nurse behind the counter.
"Hello again," she said as she smiled. "Forget something?"
Fry turned to face his friend. "Yeah, did we?"
Leela shook her head at them, then released Fry's arm and turned to face him. "I was just thinking...maybe we should make a new memory for you. So you don't put up a fight every time we have to bring you here."
He nodded after a moment, though he wasn't sure if anything could override the images that were conjured by the scent of iodine and floor cleaner. "What were you thinking of?"
She held his left arm, gingerly lifting it over her head and letting the sling go around her shoulder. Given his state, it was the best hug he could manage. About a second later, Fry chuckled nervously when he felt hands clasp behind his back.
"Uh, Leela? What are you doing?"
She didn't answer. Rather, she answered by kissing him. Either/or. Once the shock wore off, and that took less time then he thought it would, his eye shut and he took a deep breath. For the first time since Fry had noticed that 'hospital' smell, it didn't make him sick. It was still there; cool air, antiseptic, whatever smell white tile has...but instead of associating it with sick people and quacks with stethoscopes, all he could register was the scent of something sweet and the feel of soft lips.
The pair caused a bit of a fuss when they got back to work. About 85% of this was caused by the resident robot who, if he had his way, would have extended his arms, tangled them around Fry's broken body, and squeezed for all he was worth. As it was, Leela allowed him a hug only after he promised not to use more then one atmosphere of pressure on his 'pet'.
"Buddy!" Bender easily lifted his roommate off the ground and rocked him back and forth. "I missed you so much I cut back on my alcohol intake!"
Fry wasn't so sure if this statement was true, so he looked over his co-workers for answers. Leela shrugged at him, Hermes shook his hand in an 'eh' fashion, and both Amy and Zoidberg nodded. Shimmying his hand free, Fry patted Bender's back and didn't notice he was being pick-pocketed. Even if he did he wouldn't have done anything about it because after so long, he knew stealing was the robot's time at a spa.
Leela watched the reunion from the conference table, smiling at the biggest fuss Bender had ever made about someone other then himself. She could tell when someone sat next to her, but she didn't really notice until Amy started speaking.
"So, have you told him yet," she asked casually.
"Told him what," was the answer, with the usual amount of 'play dumb'.
"I don't know...maybe that you love him, you'd be lost without him, you want to jump his bruised bones?"
"When you put it like that," Leela laughed, "then no, I haven't told him."
"What?!" Her ire provoked, Amy tossed all thoughts of self-preservation out the window and prodded the captain's shoulder. "Why not?"
Brow furrowed slightly, Leela swatted the girl's hand away. "Let me put it this way: I didn't tell him in so many words."
There was a furious and confused blinking for a few seconds. "It's three words. How can you say it in less?"
Leela leaned forward and whispered the events at the hospital into Amy's ear. Everyone turned when they heard the Martian squeal loudly in response to the information.
"Amy, are you okay," Fry asked.
She nodded as she started to turn red in the face, grinning cheekily. Then Leela roughly patted her back.
"She's fine." Still forcing a smile, she leaned into the intern's ear again. "Tell anyone and I'll make sure the Professor gets about eight pints of fresh blood."
After a long and mostly pointless fight with Bender, Leela won out and walked out of PlanEx with Fry's arm around her neck. She said she just wanted to keep an eye on him, but in reality she wasn't sure the robot could resist the temptation to try and sell the 'defective' human's organs as he slept.
I can just hear it now, she thought. "Me making money off his liver is what Fry would have wanted. He wasn't going to make it anyway." Stupid robot.
Fry forgot to feign shock at the state of the apartment, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference to Leela. She walked him right into her bedroom and let his arm slip free. She then stretched and he heard something in her back pop. "Alright, get comfy. I'm going to straighten up and see if I can find a blanket for me."
"Wait...you're sleeping on the couch?"
"Yeah." She nodded, and then crossed her arms. "You didn't think I'd be sleeping with you, did you?"
"Well, I...see it's, um..." he stammered for a bit, then gave up and tried his puppy eyes on her. "Pleeease? I'd feel better if you were close to me."
After ruffling his hair, she agreed and walked out. He could hear about ten minutes of glass clicking as she cleaned and started to worry about what had happened that morning. Maybe we shouldn't even be staying here. Really, there's no way I can do what I did again. Nah, now that Leela's not sick she'll be able to hear if anything happens.
Just before they settled in for the night, Leela pulled up her blanket and turned to her side. "So...you were going to go to sleep without telling me you were here the whole time everyone thinks you were gone?"
Fry tensed. "Uh...I don't know what you're talking about?"
"Yes you do," she smiled. "Phil." He was still rigid, so it wasn't hard to reach behind his ear and scratch gently. Fry whimpered, then relaxed and his throat actually started to rumble. Leela giggled like it was the funniest thing she'd ever heard and he shook his head.
"How did you do that? When did you find out?" Despite her reaction, he was still on the borderline of panic.
"In the E.R. When I kissed you, you purred. I guess you were too caught up in the moment to notice." She cuddled as closed as she dared and laid her head on his good shoulder. "So, do you want to tell me what really happened to you now or later?"
Fry gulped, but then hit upon an idea. "How about tomorrow? We could use the sleep."
She closed her eye, yawned, and nodded. "Good night."
The light switched off and Leela had a kiss pressed to her forehead. Fry was tired after all the action, but he still stayed up for a few minutes to think his idea through. Saturday, so she's not going anywhere. I guess I can sneak out when she's in the shower. He began to drift off, grinning at his awesome yet simple plan. She's going to love it.