update time! I thought I'd mix things up and change the story's perspective for a chapter or two. I was getting tired of writing from Leela's POV. Thanks spaceCase and Arkan for your help, as always
“I’m walking on sunshine! Oh oh oh! I’m walking on sunshine! Oh oh oh!”
Fry sang happily as he exited the Robot Arms Apartment building and began his daily walk to work. The morning was warm and bright, and the city was already wide-awake. The streets were packed with hover cars, their occupants engaged in that age-old ritual called the morning commute. Overhead, the spires of the great buildings were bathed in the glow of sunrise. A few ships arced overhead, their exhaust plumes illuminated the same golden orange.
A passing Signoid recognized Fry’s tune and smiled at him before continuing on his way. The delivery boy grinned and quickened his step.
For the hundredth time that morning, thoughts of the night before popped into Fry’s consciousness. It had only been a little more than four hours since he had left Leela standing at the door of her apartment. She had been about to say something just before the closing elevator doors had cut her off, he was sure of it. There had been a look in Leela’s eye right then; like she had just realized something wonderful. Then she had smiled and opened her mouth as if to speak, but then the doors shut and the elevator had whisked him away from her.
“But what was she going to say?” He had spent the whole rest of the night unable to sleep, wondering. By all rights he should have been exhausted, and in fact every once in awhile his body was sending him signals that it needed rest in the form of giant yawns. Still, Fry couldn’t have fallen asleep even if he had wanted to. There was just too much on his mind. Besides, he could catch up on his sleep during the long, monotonous hours he was about to spend cooped up in a spaceship.
“I should have gone back up to her apartment…” He had been about to do it too, but he had been so afraid that Leela would be angry at him for closing the elevator doors while she was talking to him… Eventually he had convinced himself that it would be safer to talk to her in the morning. Now, as he rounded the corner of -e^(iл ;)th street and stepped onto Sharpton Boulevard, he realized how foolish that had been.
“Leela wouldn’t have yelled at me. Why do I always get so nervous around her? My insides get all wiggly, like they’re made out of jello. There’s no way Leela will like me if I’m jello-y all the time.”
Once again images flashed through the delivery boy’s mind. Leela stood in her doorway. The look in her eye was so warm; so kind, and it was directed straight at him. He knew without a doubt that he would give anything to have her look at him that way again.
Fry reached a decision. When he got home from work he was going to head back over to Leela’s apartment. He wouldn’t ask her out; that would be looking for trouble. It would be too direct and besides, Leela had turned him down so many times in the past that Fry was beginning to wonder if force of habit alone was keeping her from dating him. But it didn’t matter. Just being in her company would make him happy.
With one final turn the Planet Express building came into view, silhouetted by the morning sun. As Fry reached the front door he paused for a moment and smiled. Today was going to be a good day.
Everyone was already present at the conference table when Fry came bounding in. Hermes looked up from his stack of papers long enough to give the delivery boy a disapproving look and then went back to collating. Everyone else just continued staring idly into space, obviously wishing they were somewhere else.
Fry stopped a few feet from the door, confused by what he saw. He was ten minutes late, which was actually really early by his standards. Why was everyone sitting around doing nothing? Why hadn’t the meeting started yet?
The delivery boy winced when the answer came to him. “Oh crap. Hermes is gonna kill me. I’m the Captain now that Leela’s gone, or at least until the professor finds someone else desperate enough to take the job. They can’t start the meeting without me.”
Suddenly Fry was aware that everyone was staring at him, probably because he was standing around in the middle of the room like an idiot. Red faced, the delivery boy crossed the few feet to the conference table and took his customary seat. With a pang he realized that the one next to him was empty; the one that by all rights should be supporting Leela as she fought valiantly to stay awake through one of Hermes’ morning accounting speeches.
Clearing his throat, the red head sheepishly addressed his fellows. “Umm, sorry guys. I guess I didn’t realize that you can’t start without me anymore.”
Hermes crossed his arms. “Fry mon, until we find someone to replace Leela, you’re da actin’ Captain. Dat means you have to be at work on time every day. You can’t be showin’ up whenever y’please and cuttin’ work early like you used ta. If you can’t handle dat, well, we’ll just have ta find another delivery boy who can.”
Fry gulped and nodded his understanding, but said nothing. It wasn’t fair that Hermes was pushing him into this new responsibility. Fry had wanted to be the Pilot, not the Captain. Besides, it wasn’t as though he was getting paid for this temporary promotion. Then again, there were times Fry wasn’t even sure he was being paid, period.
“Alright den. I was afraid I might be making a mistake letting you be da captain, but if you-“
Bender cut off the Jamaican mid-sentence. “Let’s see, you’re trusting a four hundred ton spaceship and all our lives to someone who tries to sneak up on his reflection in the mirror… Nope, makes sense to me.”
Hermes did the smart thing and continued as though Bender had said nothing. The robot was still sore about not being allowed to pilot the ship, and until he blew off some steam it would be best to just ignore him.
“-but if you think dat you can handle it, den lets start da meeting.”
Hermes sat down and heartily resumed his collating. There was an awkward silence, after a few moments of which Amy and Fry exchanged puzzled glances. Hermes looked up and stared pointedly at Professor Farnsworth, who as it turned out, was sound asleep. Zoidberg poked the old scientist, but there was no response.
The crustacean’s eyes went wide.
“My God, his third heart isn’t beating! He’s dead!”
”Professor?” Hermes called. Again there was no answer. “Professor!”
Farnsworth awoke with a start, his eyes darting from one person to another without comprehension.
“Huh-wha? Where am I?”
“You’re at Planet Express, Professor,” Fry said. “It’s time for you to tell us what today’s mission is going to be.”
Farnsworth regarded the delivery boy as if he were speaking Neptunian. “What are you talking about? I don’t even know who any of you are! What’s this Planet Express you’re blabbering on about? Now Fry, Bender, and Zoidberg, listen up.”
Zoidberg was ecstatic. “Hurray, I’m useful!
“Umm, yes well…” continued Farnsworth. “Today you will be making a delivery to, uhh…”
“Caduceus VIII, the hospital planet,” Hermes added. “I remember da name because my favorite stapler is called da same thing.”
“What are we delivering?” Fry asked.
“Heh-wha? Oh yes, right. You’ll be delivering something with which no modern institute of medicine can be without, one thousand pounds worth of old magazines.”
“Aww man…” Bender grumbled, “Old magazines? I can’t make any money by stealing those. Count me out.”
With Leela gone it would be up to Fry to browbeat the robot into doing his job. The delivery boy put on the sternest face he could muster.
“Bender, you’ll do what the professor tells you or I’ll make you scrub every last inch of the ship with a toothbrush.”
Everyone except Farnsworth (who had once again fallen asleep) stared at Fry with their mouths agape. They had never heard such a tone of command from their pointy-haired friend. The stack of papers slid from Hermes’ hands and landed on the table with a plop.
Fry blushed slightly, knowing that he didn’t have the guts to back up his threat. It was hard enough even to sound menacing. The only way he could even pull it off was by imagining what Leela would say if she were here.
Bender rolled his eyes. He had been Fry’s best friend long enough to know when he was bluffing, not that it wasn’t plain to everyone else in the room as well. “Alright skinbag, keep your space pants on. I’ll come on the stupid mission. Just don’t expect me to do any actual work. Bender’s got some standards, baby.”
Hermes overrode Fry as the red head was about to speak. The Jamaican was becoming impatient, anxious to get back to his office and start his morning form-stamping routine. “Ok, so dat’s all settled den. Professor, do you have anything to add?” Farnsworth’s only response was a loud snore. Hermes jabbed him none too gently.
The Professor jerked awake once more. “Huh, what? Oh yes, right. Off you go!”
Try as he might, Fry just couldn’t get comfortable in the Captain’s seat. It wasn’t that it wasn’t well padded or anything. In fact, he had spent many hours in the past piloting the ship from this very chair while Leela took a break without feeling any discomfort, but that had been when he wasn’t the captain. It had been Leela’s chair then, and Fry had been borrowing it with her permission. Now the exalted seat was his, and the delivery boy couldn’t quite suppress the feeling that he was somehow stealing it from her.
The bridge hatch swished open and Amy came walking into the compartment.
“Hi Fry. I’m done fixing that turn signal light that burned out. You can go ahead and take off as soon as I’m out of the way.”
“Thanks Amy.” Fry stopped his squirming for a moment. “Hey, wanna come with us? Bender’s still sore that I got to be Captain instead of him and, well, it would be nice to talk to someone besides Zoidberg.”
The Martian intern shook her head. “Nope, sorry. I’d like to, but the Professor wants me to help him out in his lab today. Maybe next time.”
“Oh, alright.” Fry tried not to show his disappointment. “I guess I’ll see you later then. Oh umm hey, could you tell Bender to get up here? I think he’s asleep in his cabin.”
“Sure, no problem. Do you want me to call Zoidberg too?”
“No, leave Zoidberg where he is. He’ll just get in the way.”
Amy shrugged. “Ok, sure. Anyway, have a nice trip. Bye!”
With a final wave, the intern strode off of the bridge. Fry waited a few minutes for her to exit the ship and walk across the hangar bay before powering up. The muted roar of the dark matter engines built through the hull. Amy’s figure disappeared into the depths of the building. Bender sauntered onto the bridge and took up his station.
Excited beyond all reason, Fry prepared to step on the gas pedal and start his first mission as Captain. With a light touch Fry gave the starship some gas, and the sleek rocket lifted a foot off the floor. Ever so gently the delivery boy adjusted his pitch, and the nose drifted upward. There was a loud crunch. Cursing to himself, Fry pressed a button on his HUD. The hangar bay doors slid open, revealing a patch of sky. But then, just as Fry was about to kick his vessel into high gear, something swooped into his flight path, something too bizarre to register in the delivery boy’s mind. Fry gawked for a long moment at the green shape that had no right to be floating there in front of him.
Bender, just as startled as Fry but quicker on the rebound, was the first to speak. “What the hell? There’s another Planet Express Ship?”
That’s certainly what it looked like. Somebody had made an exact copy of the professor’s ship.
“What the heck is going on here?” Fry wondered aloud.
The red head wouldn’t have to wait long to find out. The other craft abandoned its position over the Planet Express building and settled down in the abandoned lot across the street. A single figure emerged from under the ship a few moments later. Fry, having no clue as to what could possibly be going on, but aware that he was in charge and therefore had to do something, took his foot off the gas pedal and let his ship settle back into the hangar. As soon as the engines died he and Bender were out of their chairs.
A minute later, the robot and the delivery boy ran from the front door of Planet Express. Moments later they rounded the side of the building and the strange copy Planet Express Ship came into view. Fry stopped in his tracks. Leaning against the ship’s starboard fin was a familiar purple-haired cyclops.
“Leela? What are you doing here?” Fry didn’t think he could get any more confused.
Then Leela spotted him, and with a cry she came running. At the last moment Fry put his hands up to protect himself, thinking his friend had gone quite mad, but Leela broke through his guard like it wasn’t even there. Fry suddenly found himself enveloped in her arms. Shocked beyond words, the delivery boy could only return her embrace as the woman wept silently into his shoulder.
@spaceCase: I know you didn't like the -e^(i*pi) joke, but I jsut couldnt take it out. I guess I'm just too big a geek
Also, for anyone that doesn't know, -e^(i*pi) = 1, so Fry was really on 1st street.