An Xmas to remember.
Written by Tastes Like Fry
Edited by coldangel_1
Illustrated by coldangel_1
A light, mildly acidic snow drifted lazily across the urban sprawl of New New York, dusting the towers and parapets of the city with unhealthy yellowish powder. Along a street beneath the monolithic skyscrapers, an orange-haired human and a silver robot shuffled hurriedly along.
‘Five hours till nightfall, we’d better get back to Planet Express,’ the robot said.
‘Wait, one more shop. I gotta get Leela…’ The young man snapped his fingers in agitation.
‘Look, meatbag, you got Leela that fluffy thing, she’ll like that, let’s go already.’
‘But I need the nice smelling thing to go with the fluffy thing, quickly, I know which one she likes.’
‘You know too much about her.’ Bender reluctantly let Fry drag him into a scented store, it was decorated with shiny tinsel, fairy lights and prison bars on the windows.
‘Season’s warnings!’ The overly cheery store owner welcomed them.
‘Less chit-chat, more transactions,’ Fry said with irritation, ‘Rose cake and that purple flower nice smell stuff.’
‘Beg your pardon sir?’
‘You know… soap, perfume, the normal girly stuff,’ Fry snapped. The store owner looked at him in confusion and then looked at the robot in search of explanation.
‘I’m not here,’ Bender said in a mechanical monotone.
‘That stuff!’ Fry yelled making the store owner jump. He bounded over to the other side of the store to a display where there was soap that looked like cakes and confectionary. He stopped at the pink section and tentatively sniffed each one.
‘Strawberry… cherry… lilac… transmission fluid… ah rose!’ He held the decorated soap out to the shop owner.
‘Excellent choice, sir! Is that all?’
‘Fry, Leela keeps sending me text messages aksing where we are…’
‘Don’t tell her!’ Fry said hurriedly. He glanced about the store before lunging across the room again to a different display. There were stacks of guns, each filled with scented perfumes.
‘Oh, I can’t remember which one…’
‘How about I aks her?’
‘No! Don’t tell her!’
‘Which one did you want sir?’
‘I dunno… all I know is that it was purple and a flower.’
‘Well that’s easy, only one of them is an actual flower.’ She reached up and grabbed the last dark purple one. Fry gave a sigh of relief, everything seemed to going his way for once.
‘Yo, pork-pie, Leela wants a word with you.’ Bender had his hand cupped to the side of his head like one would do on a headset.
‘Tell her I’m busy.’
‘Fry’s busy… She says to put you on holophone right now.’
‘Tell her I’m not here.’
‘Fry’s not… oh, ok, don’t get your panties in a knot…She says she can hear you.’
‘That’d be $25 dollars.’ Fry blinked in confusion at the shopkeeper.
‘Oh, money, right.’ He dug through his wallet and produced the money.
‘Alright, he’s coming he’s coming…’
‘Bender put me on holophone right now!’
‘Wait, wait!’ Fry snatched the gifts from the counter and shoved Bender outside.
‘Why the hell aren’t you here?’ Leela stood; her hologram intimidating even though it only stood a foot high.
‘Uh, last minute Xmas shopping,’ Fry said holding the bag behind his back. He grinned nonchalantly. ‘No look-see.’ Leela’s expression softened.
‘You got me a present?’
‘We’re going to be home in five minutes.’ Bender said, not wanting another flirt session over his radial receptor.
‘Well hurry up, or professor will lock you out.’ The hologram of Leela faded.
‘Let’s roll.’ Fry and Bender hurried to the nearest transport tube.
‘Planet Express,’ Fry said clearly before the tube whooshed him out of sight.
Fry landed uncoordinatedly on his feet and carefully steadied himself before moving out of the way in time to avoid being crushed by Bender who ejected from the tube. They quickly crossed the deserted street and dove for the door as the military-grade blast barrier began to roll out of its recess and armor the building. They wouldn’t have made it if it were not for the pair of hands that reached out and grabbed Bender by the antennae and Fry by the collar.
‘Oi! Hands off!’ Bender swatted at Leela’s hand, ‘You can’t just grab a guy’s item like that!’
‘Sorry.’ Leela straightened Fry’s jacket. ‘Are you guys ok?’
‘We’re fine.’ Fry took Leela’s hands to stop her fussing. ‘Where’s the rest of the crew?’
‘Decorating the tree, we’d better go help.’ Flustered Leela turned and disappeared down the hallway. Bender and Fry looked questioningly at each other.
‘What’s got her panties in a knot?’
‘Dunno.’ Fry shrugged it off and followed Bender down the hall. Fry almost ran into Leela who had started to come back to see what was taking them so long to come out. She blushed and busied herself with Nibbler.
Holding his bundles tightly he made his way over to Amy who was taping up presents with Zoidberg.
‘What’s the matter with Leela?’ Fry asked Amy quietly after a moment of wrapping his gifts up.
‘Spleesh, isn’t it obvious?’
Fry shook his head in response.
‘Well, it will be soon.’ Amy said ducking her head avoiding his gaze.
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘Fry?’ Fry gave a start; Leela had been standing behind him,
‘Leela! For cripes’ sake, don’t creep up on me like that!’
‘Sorry… Can I have a word with you for a moment?’ Fry stared at her suspiciously, he didn’t want to be caught up in a conversation where the blame or her personal problems was laid on him.
‘Alright… as long as it’s not about the ship’s main collaborator, cause that was Bender… and he kinda asked me not to squeal…’
‘Relax, it’s not about… what did Bender do to the collaborator?’
‘Nothing.’ Fry’s lips closed and his expression of discomfort changed to one of terror under Leela’s sudden menacing glare. She sighed angrily and seized his wrist and with a glance around to make no one was looking when she dragged Fry into the cupboard.
The cupboard was dark with the exception of the lines of light creeping in between the cracks in the door.
‘Listen to me,’ she said in a harsh whisper, ‘I don’t want this to happen, I don’t want you to go, I command you not to go.’
‘Go where?’ Fry said fearfully, Leela had him by the collar and pushed up against the wall. Normally he wouldn’t have minded, but Leela seemed to be out of her mind. Her grip loosened and expression softened at his question.
‘You don’t know?’
‘Know what?’ It was Fry’s turn to seize her by shoulders; he was feeling frustrated and confused at what she had been saying. ‘I don’t understand, where do I have to go? Or not go? Wha…’ He trailed off when tears burst unexpectedly from Leela’s pristine eye.
‘Hey… don’t cry,’ he said, horrified that he’d done or said something to upset her. ‘Shush, stop, please?’ He cupped her sodden cheeks and tried to wipe clear her tears. She gasped for breath and retightened her grip on his collar.
‘Zapp Brannaigan had the stupid idea to rally together an army to kill Santa as soon as he comes to Earth tonight.’
‘That doesn’t sound like a stupid idea,’ Fry said encouragingly, ‘That’d be good ‘cause then we won’t have to worry about Santa blasting us… Leela?’
‘He’s ordered all the men of New New York between the ages of 16 and 30 to join the program or you’ll be convicted of incompetence and they will arrest you.’
Fry turned pale and gaped at her.
‘That… wha… I…’
‘You fit in that age bracket Fry.’
‘So do you.’
‘But I’m not allowed to go, they only want men.’
‘Well…’ Fry cleared his throat nervously, ‘I guess it can’t be too bad, I mean, with hundreds of other men, and the others?’ Fry looked in the direction of where the Planet Express crew would be huddled under the tree. Leela tearfully shook her head.
‘The professor and Hermes are too old and officially Bender’s too young, the only other person who fits into that age bracket besides us is Amy.’ Leela sniffled. ‘She can’t go, and she would happily pay her way out if she had to.’
‘I’ll go by myself then, don’t worry Leela, I can look after myself.’ He put on a brave face, trying to put her mind at ease.
‘Fry, you can’t, Zapp told me the top secret plan, there’s no strategy, they’re just going to send wave after wave of men at Santa; and you’re positioned center front.’ Leela let out a wail and shook him.
‘I won’t let you die, not again. Tell me you won’t go. Please tell me…’
‘Leela, what choice do I have?’
‘I can’t live… I mean…’ She shut her eye, lost for words.
‘They’re going to take me away anyway. Where do I go?’
Leela looked at him incredulously, he surely wasn’t serious.
‘Where do I go?’
‘I won’t say!’ Leela voice was shrill.
‘Where do I go?’ Fry’s voice and resolve was stronger and in a rare moment, Leela cowered at his tone.
‘Madison Cube Garden… Please…’
‘I’m going, whether you want me to or not. I’d rather die for you than be sent to jail and be taunted by the muscled crims who’d beat me till I bleed from the ears…
Leela had practically pounced on him and pushed her lips roughly against his cutting off his rambling words. The kiss was passionate as quivering lips were sealed for a full minute.
Fry felt giddy, it was longest kiss she had graced him with and he found that even a few seconds left him breathless and was exceptionally glad he pressed up against a wall for fear that is legs would buckle from underneath him.
‘Oh my god.’ He breathed as their foreheads rested against each other.
‘Shhh.’ He pushed a finger to her lips. ‘I need to go.’ He embraced her in his goodbye. ‘I love you.’ He breathed in her ear, and then he was gone.
(to be continued...)