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Author Topic: "Well, It's Not Like I Have a Life or Anything" - Gorky's Fanfiction  (Read 1945 times)
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Space Pope
« on: 03-28-2009 22:01 »
« Last Edit on: 03-28-2009 22:14 »

So: many, many, many years ago (let's say, y'know, two of three), I had a fanfic thread here at PEEL that I updated semi-regularly. Because of the support of a small group of dedicated, masochistic PEELers, I managed to punch out two half-decent fics before...well, quitting. It's not that I didn't enjoy writing fanfiction; it's not even that I got myself one of them "lives" people are always talking about. It's more like I ran out of ideas, inspiration, and any semblance of motivation. I wrote a lot of half-decent regular fiction, which was pretty fun.

But I digress. The point is, I recently started writing Futurama-based stuff again. I guess I was inspired by "Into the Wild Green Yonder"; it rekindled my obsession with all things Futurama. An obsession that, unfortunately for the rest of the world, I must express in fanfic form.

Anyway: I figured I might as well make myself a new fanfic thread, so that I could once again burden people with my "ideas". I considered bumping my old thread, but decided against it for two reasons: 1.) I'm lazy, and 2.) That old thread is ridiculously unorganized (and, at this point, full of half-finished fics that I have no intention of finishing in the forseeable future), and I figured it might get kind of confusing for those brave souls who may want to read my new stuff. I hope that's okay with the mods; if it's not, I suppose this thread might be closed, at which point I could do some mergin' with the old thread, which would further confuse everybody (especially me, since I'm not so bright). Still, if starting a new thread was wrong, feel free to close it, oh powerful mods; I apologize for the inconvenience.

As for my current fics: I'm working on two at the moment. One is a post-ItWGY story; one is a re-telling of "Bender's Big Score" from Leela's point-of-view. I'll post the first part of the latter story today, on account of it's the one I'm focusing on most earnestly at this particular moment.

But first, an explanation/justification/unnecessary ramble: As much as I enjoy BBS, I've always felt that Leela--both as a character and as a player in the Lars saga--wasn't as fleshed out as she should've been. I think BBS is probably the shippiest episode ever, when you view it with the knowledge that Lars is Fry, and (since I'm a shameless shipper) I wanted to explore the Leela/Lars relationship, both in an effort to make Leela a bit more sympathetic, and to try and justify/understand her actions in the first place.

In short, I'm writing this fic because I'm insane.

Still, I hope anyone who accidentally wanders into this thread hoping to see something indicative of actual ability enjoys it.


Hermes loses his head in a bizarre limbo accident, and Leela finds it almost anticlimactic. She’s worked at Planet Express for nearly eight years now, so dismemberment is nothing new to her. Still, she feigns sympathy, shock, concern. After all, the guy was decapitated—he at least deserves some phony sentiments of goodwill.

His pudgy, dented body is being examined by a curvy doctor whom Fry has christened Dr. Goodensexy. Leela feels offended on the doctor’s behalf; she considers kicking Fry’s ass, as a show of sisterhood (or just for the hell of it), but decides against it. It’s just Fry, she reminds herself. He’s a harmless idiot.

This is more or less her mantra. It’s an all-purpose chorus that has prevented her from kicking Fry’s ass on numerous occasions.

Leela taps her foot involuntarily, the way you might bite your lip if you had no gum readily available: it’s as if her foot is still contemplating the ass-kicking proposition. She tunes in and out while Hermes berates the doctor, apparently because she is a bimbo.

She would never admit this aloud, but the Head Museum is kind of a sentimental place for Leela. On the day she met Fry—and proceeded to chase him all over New New York—this was the spot where she realized the stupidity of the slogan YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO. The spot where she decided to quit her crappy job.

Another thing she’d never admit, at least no more than once: Fry had played an important part in that decision.

Really, if she viewed all of the city in terms of her relationship with Fry, most places would be sentimental. Which is why she doesn’t think in those terms too often.

She happens to tune back into the conversation just as Hermes says, “I’m not in a jar yet, ya bimbo!”

The doctor brays like a slutty donkey—making Leela much less sympathetic to her cause—slaps her forehead, and says, “Lars, got another jar job!”

Leela hears the squeak of wheels and turns towards the doorway. A guy—he looks forty-something—walks in, pushing a cart with the obligatory pickled heads. “Oh, sorry, doctor,” he says. His voice is calm, reassuring; he sounds unfairly, naively serene. “I was disinfecting Courtney Love—“

He looks up at Leela; something in his expression seems to shift. “Oh, hello,” he says, oozing a charm that is off-putting in its naturalness.

Taken aback by the guy’s self-assurance, she goes on the defensive. “What are you looking at?” she says. “Is it the eye?”

He smiles. “Guilty as charged. It’s a nice-looking eye, and there’s plenty of it.”

“Oh,” says Leela, returning the smile. She knows he’s fed her a line—a strange one that, because of its confident delivery, seems somehow flattering—but damn if it’s not working. Squinting slightly, trying to get a clearer look at the guy, she says, “Do I know you?”

And maybe that’s a line, too, but the moment the words leave her mouth, she realizes there’s some truth to them. It seems like she could easily place this guy’s face, if given the proper frame of reference. She chews the goofy-yet-suave pick-up line over, like a food whose taste she knows but whose name she’s forgotten.

“Apparently not,” says the guy. “Hi, I’m Lars.”

“Oh. I’m Leela. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to be met.”

They both laugh, and even Leela can tell it sounds corny—at the same time, though, she doesn’t much care. It suddenly occurs to her that she hasn’t been on a real date in a good four years. As she’s considering breaking that streak, Hermes again interrupts her thoughts. “Pick up ladies on your own time, you shiny-headed goat,” he says.

Lars shrugs at Leela, still grinning. He walks over to where Hermes’s head is sitting. “Sir, you’re just a little enraged ‘cause you’re dying.” He lifts the head into a jar. “Up and away!” he says.

Leela watches this display, pursing her lips slightly. She’s never seen someone so enthused about their job, particularly one that involves cranky severed heads. Or maybe she has. She remembers how Fry used to get excited about their missions, back when he first arrived in the year 3000; she found his zeal similarly misplaced yet cute. She wonders how long Lars has been working at the Head Museum; she wonders why they’ve never met before.

Amy bumps Leela’s shoulder. “Lars is so flirting with you,” she says.

“He is so not,” Leela says, finding it hard to contain a smirk. “He’s just being polite.”

Then—and, in all fairness, Leela should see this coming—Fry butts his pointy orange head into the conversation. “Who does he think he is, being polite to you?” He rolls up his coat-sleeves, which proceed to unroll a second later. “You want me to beat him up?”

She’s beginning to regret not kicking his ass when she had the chance. Pushing him back, she says, “No. Stop being so immature”, which is another mantra.

Fry stalks away, muttering something about showing Leela who’s immature. She rolls her eye at the antics which, unfortunately, define her daily life; when she tries to refocus her attention on Lars, she sees that he’s left the room. Leela tries not to take this absence personally. There’re a lot of dirty musicians here, she tells herself. I’m sure he just got called to some emergency with Tommy Lee or Axl Rose or Cher.

She plans to look for him in the museum once this crisis passes, but then there’s an incident with a Frenchman, and Rastafarian marital discord, and deliveries to be made in the nude; in short, life as usual interferes. Missing out on more time with Lars bothers Leela, but not as much as it probably should. For once, she truly feels the sort of confidence that she usually fakes: the confidence that, regardless of what the universe throws her way, things will work out exactly as she wants them to.


This past week, the universe has decided to be a real son of a bitch. Not only has Leela been scammed by disgusting nudist aliens—she’s also been forced to do their bidding. Plus, she’s got a splinter in her finger, which is not a big deal; it just seems superfluously unfortunate.

She’s scolding Bender for kowtowing to the aliens, when she hears the lounge door slide open. “Greetings, Earthlings,” says a familiar voice. Leela turns from the window to face Lars, passing a hand over her ponytail in an attempt to look remotely attractive.

“Oh, hooray,” says Fry, and though she’s not looking at him, Leela imagines he’s scowling. “It’s handsome Lars and his fabulous jars.”

“Hello, everyone who isn’t Leela.” Lars focuses his eyes on his omission. “And a special hello to everyone else.”

Leela smiles. As she opens her mouth to respond, Hermes admonishes her and Lars to “shut their lockers and get to class.” He asks how his body’s doing. Leela hopes he gets it back soon, because strangling him will be so much more satisfying that way. It’s not that she hates Hermes, exactly—it’s just that, at the moment, she doesn’t see murdering him as so immoral. It’d be like killing any annoying pest, a fly or a cockroach or Rush Limbaugh.

Lars tells Hermes that his body’s behind schedule, thanks to Nudar and his pink cronies. Hermes is upset about this, flying into a tirade that Leela’s not all that interested in. Instead, she studies Lars. He’s smiling at Hermes knowingly, as if he’s watching a rerun on TV, reassuring and comfortable in its familiarity. She figures he’s used to the lamentations of body-less heads, since he works with them on a daily basis.

When Hermes shuts up for a moment, Lars says, “Well, maybe I should get going.”

Fry stands up, motioning to the doorway. “Yes,” he says, “I’ll show you out.”

Amy says, “No, Leela will show you out.”

Leela, somewhat embarrassed by the display, decides to put an end to the argument. “No,” she says. “Leela will show you out. Me. Leela.” This choice of words is mortifying in its own right, but Lars seems to find it charming.

He smiles. “Lars would like that,” he says.

They exit the lounge, Lars trailing only a few inches behind Leela. They’re walking almost diagonally from each other, and she can feel his arm buzzing near her side as she leads him down the hallway. She’s nervous, but comfortable at the same time. She knows she might say something stupid and off-putting; yet, somehow, she feels as if Lars won’t judge her for these missteps.

“Your co-workers seem nice,” Lars says, apropos of nothing.

“They know how to make a good first impression.” She laughs a little, self-deprecatingly. “Unlike me.”

“You can give yourself a bit more credit.”

She glances at him out of the corner of her eye. “Yeah?”

Lars nods. “Trust me.”

And it occurs to her that she does trust him. She’s said about two words to the man since they met, and yet she trusts him. Maybe she’s an idiot.

They reach the front door, much too quickly for Leela’s liking. Returning to his original statement, Lars says, “So, your friend Fry seems nice. Are you and he dat—“

“Nope,” Leela says.

“Good,” Lars says. “Because I was maybe thinking of asking you out for dinner.”

“Oh. I’ll start maybe thinking about saying ‘sure.’ When?”

“Let me maybe give it some thought.”

They share a small laugh; Leela feels light, inside and out.

“Tomorrow at eight?” Lars says.


The automatic door closes on Lars, more abruptly than Leela would like. He doesn’t seem too taken aback, though. Through the glass, he mouths, How ‘bout Elzar’s?

Leela nods, smiling. She gives Lars a small wave, which he returns. He turns to walk away, and Leela watches him go. When he’s disappeared behind the curtain of hover-cars and prostitutes covering the city streets, she starts heading back to the lounge. Lars asked me out, she says to herself. Lars asked me out. She says it again and again, a poem with only one line, the chorus in a song whose verses have yet to be written.


Leela once told Fry that she’s not impressed by a guy’s message—she’s impressed by the guy. Which is essentially true. But, if she’s being completely honest, she knows she’s got a weakness for men with power. She’s dated doctors and aides to the mayor, men she’s felt weren’t crummy or unimportant. This attraction to supposedly strong men, she knows it’s almost anti-feminist. The last thing she wants to admit, even to herself, is that she wishes a man could just save her. There was a time—before she met her parents, before she had a true family—where she wanted to find a guy who could define her. She’d spent her childhood feeling like a freak, an outcast; she’d always felt weak, socially. Dating those at the echelon of society made her feel equally important, made her deficiencies seem inconsequential.

Of course, these dating decisions had nothing to do with following her heart. She doesn’t like to admit it, but the only guy she ever dated because she wanted to was Sean. And their pairing is generally seen as the most mismatched, destructive relationship since Elizabeth Taylor and anybody. Sean’s lack of ambition—coupled with his lack of social skills, hygiene, and intelligence—eventually wore on Leela’s nerves; dumping him was the easiest decision she’d ever made. (And the most enjoyable, since she’d literally kicked his lying, cheating ass out of her apartment.) Still, she’d felt a pang of sorrow and regret when the relationship ended. Truth is, he was her first love. She’d actually allowed herself to fall for somebody who was…well, like Fry.

So she’s not entirely shocked by her attraction to Lars (though comparing him to Fry seems a little unfair). He’s not a powerful man; as far as Leela can tell, his social standing is non-existent. But he’s kind and he’s sweet and he’s endearing, and there’s a serenity and confidence to him that she almost envies. He’s a real man, she realizes—he’s strong, but in an entirely different sense of the word. It’s like he’s open to the world’s disappointments because he knows they’re eventually going to end in something good. It’s like he knows there’s a reward awaiting him somewhere along the line.

And Leela wants to be that reward. For once, she wants a man to depend on her as much as she depends on him.


“He asked you out? And you said yes?”

Leela is headed for the bridge, and Fry is following her. He sounds angry and affronted, like somehow accepting Lars’s invitation is a betrayal. Leela keeps telling herself it’s not.

She sighs. “Yes, Fry, I said yes. Lars is a nice guy.”

“I’m a nice guy, too.”

Leela considers disputing this, but her heart’s not in it. “I know you are,” she says. “But Lars is nice in a…different way. He’s more mature.”

“What’s so mature about him? Is it the beard? Because I’d gladly grow a beard for you, Leela. I mean, it’d mean staying away from open flames, so I’ll no longer be able to express my taste in music via Zippo lighter, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice for you.”

“It’s not the beard, Fry.”

Fry sighs. “I don’t get it. How can you say Lars is more mature than me?”

She’s getting annoyed by this conversation, so she just picks an arbitrary example. “Well, for one thing, his checkbook doesn’t have the Hulk on it.”

Fry appears ready to dispute this, but he’s ambushed by the Nude Aliens Three. Leela is almost thankful for the interruption, because it allows her time to think about what she’ll wear on her date. She feels like a seventh grader getting ready for a stupid middle-school dance; she can’t help but feel giddy.

Surprisingly, this excitement doesn’t fade all day. For a few moments it coexists with the excitement brought on by hearing Nibbler speak, but other than that, Lars is the only thing on Leela’s mind. She wonders if this makes her selfish.

The couch in the Planet Express lounge is perhaps the most uncomfortable piece of furniture Leela has ever sat on, but she’s always felt preparing for a date should be equal parts optimism and torture. It puts you in the appropriate mindset; you’re open to both complete contentment and utter disappointment. The bipolarity of modern romance is something she’s accustomed to.

She’s working on making her eye—of which, she’s been told, there’s plenty—seem normal, but she can’t tell if the eye-liner she’s using is accomplishing just the opposite. Hermes and Fry are sitting to her right, and she turns to them. “Be honest with me,” she says. “Does my eye look monstery? I don’t want to look monstery for my date with Lars.”

Hermes, predictably, ignores her question completely. “At least a monster has a body…” he says, and this is the point at which Leela loses interest. She swiped Lars’ business card from Hermes earlier; now she takes it out to examine his hologram. He’s not quite as handsome when he’s translucent, but Leela’s breath still catches a little. Suddenly, she’s inspired. “Oh, I think I’ll wear that slutty dress I’ve been saving for Easter.”

Fry grabs the card out of her hand. He glares at Lars’s image and expresses a desire to punch him in his “ruggedly good-looking face.”

Leela sighs, taking the card back. “Fry, calm down. This isn’t a competition.”

He looks up at her, his gaze intense; when their eyes lock, Leela realizes it’s been a long time since she’s truly focused on Fry. She feels something shift; her shoulders slump a bit, her lungs almost hurt. In a voice that’s heartbreakingly quiet, Fry says, “But it is.”

She shakes her head, slowly. “No, Fry, it’s not.”

And he lets his eyes fall away. “Then why does it feel like I’m losing?” he says.


That's all for now. I've never been all that great with updating regularly, so I guess it could be a while before I post the next section of the story. I'm sure that's not such a tragedy.

Future Shock

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #1 on: 03-29-2009 00:59 »

It's turning out to be pretty good... I'm not sure, but I think the end part wasn't from the movie. It looks like a Leela point-of-view movie transcript right now, maybe more made up parts? Good.

Space Pope
« Reply #2 on: 03-29-2009 03:39 »

Ah. I had been wondering if you were considering writing anything again, Gorky. As I think I mentioned, I read some of your old stuff. [About a year and 2/3rds ago]. I think we somewhat differ in our opinion of the movies, but I guess I can safely say I'll be reading this.
And you don't have to worry about anyone closing your thread, it's totally all right to make a new one. I'm pretty sure it's not a problem.

Bending Unit
« Reply #3 on: 03-29-2009 18:30 »

In short, I'm writing this fic because I'm insane.

I know the feeling..

Anyway, I do think there are a lot of holes in BBS that would be interesting to fill in, and I agree Leela seemed a bit OOC on that one.  Welcome back to fanfic; I remember reading some of your earlier thread.   People who write thoughts in complete sentences are always a plus  wink

Space Pope
« Reply #4 on: 04-20-2009 05:53 »
« Last Edit on: 04-20-2009 06:06 »

Future Shock: Yeah, that first part was primarily a transcript with a wee bit of narration. (On that note: thanks to the Infosphere for the BBS transcript; 'tis invaluable.) And that last line from Fry wasn't from the movie (mainly because it's far too sapy for canon Futurama; but we'll ignore that). Glad you think it's good.

km: If I remember correctly from the threads over in General Discussion, you're not a big fan of ItWGY, right? I personally loved it, but I think your complaints were valid. Maybe I've just got low standards. At any rate, though, I'd be honored to have you as a regular reader. I've lurked in other fanfic threads here at PEEL, and you're always able to provide both ego-boosting compliments and constructive criticism. And that's most certainly a good thing. So thanks for readin'.

JustNibblin: Again, I'd be honored to have you read this fic. I've been plugging my way through your thread for a few weeks now (I read "Death Clock Countdown" about a month ago but never got around to reviewing it. Mini-review: I thought it was awesome; you showed an incredible understanding for the depth of the show and the characters, considering how new you were to Futurama at the time. Amazing stuff.) and will post a proper review when next you give us an update.

Anyway, here's an update from a lesser writer. It kind of reads like a romantic comedy, but I tried to make it less nauseating than one. Hopefully, I succeeded.


Leela wishes that she had the old Nibbler back: the cute one, the ravenous one. The mute one. It’s not that he’s talking too much, exactly; he’s just talking about something in which Leela has very little interest.

“How much do you know of this Lars person, really?” he says. He and Leela are sitting on her bed; he’s lecturing, and she’s brushing her hair.

“I know who he’s not,” Leela says, and immediately feels like a jerk. She doesn’t know why she bothers being so dismissive of Fry when he’s not even in the room. It feels like an act, but who’s her audience?

“I assume you’re talking about Fry,” Nibbler says. “And I apologize, but I fail to see what, exactly, you find so repugnant about him. He cares for you deeply.”

Leela sighs. She’s not naïve. She knows Fry has a thing for her; hell, he’s professed his love on more than one occasion. But she can’t see, from a practical standpoint, why his supposed love is reason enough for her to reciprocate his feelings. She doesn’t mean to seem cold, but she’s pretty sure she doesn’t love Fry. At least not in the way he expects.

“He’s not repugnant,” Leela says. “He’s not a lot of things.”

“I’m simply offering my opinion, Leela. I’ve known both you and Fry for a long time. Of course, I’ve kept my mandible shut for the most part, but I’ve been quite the observer.”

Leela turns to look at him. It’s pretty hard to take him seriously when he’s wearing that adorable red cape. “Nibbler, sweetie, I mean this in the most polite way possible: would you mind shutting up?”

“Would you at least admit that you care for him, too?”

“Okay,” she says. “I care for him. He’s my friend.” The truth is, Fry is her best friend. He’s the only person who has been there for her unconditionally, the only person who has accepted her for exactly what she is. She can’t imagine her life without him, but indispensability isn’t the same as compatibility. It’s not like Leela’s been picturing she and Fry in romantic scenarios, but on the few occasions where she’s entertained the notion of dating him, she hasn’t been able to sustain the concept for more than a few minutes. There’s something missing, some X-factor; there’s something that keeps them from getting too close.

She’s got theories as to what, exactly, this factor is. Maybe it’s Fry’s immaturity; maybe it’s her pride. Maybe it’s an actual scientific force, something that repels them just when it seems like progress is being made. She’s not sure if the problem lies with Fry, or her, or the universe at large. But that’s hardly important.

Nibbler says, “He’s more than your friend, Leela, he’s—“

“My co-worker. Please tell me that’s the word you were going for there, Nibbler.” She stands up and passes a hand over her dress. “Now can we stop talking about this? Can’t you go back to worrying about the time sphere? I really think that has more bearing on the fate of the universe than who I choose to date.”

It takes Nibbler a few moments to respond. “Of course,” he says. He clears his throat. “You’re right.”

It’s pretty warm for an autumn evening, but Leela’s not complaining. She walks down the sidewalk slowly, savoring the balmy breeze—one of the few things in New New York, she suddenly realizes, that is completely non-mechanical, natural, genuine. The breeze sweeps over her skin; the fabric of her dress moves with the wind.

As she walks, she inspires hoots, hollers, and the other disgusting noises commonly associated with horny construction workers—it’s the impression she is hoping to make, but these are not the people she cares about impressing.

One of the guys says, “That dress is really workin’ for ya, sweet cheeks.”

Leela groans. She could punch the sleaze right in his jugular, but she’d rather not risk messing up her outfit.

“Yeah, it’s a great dress,” the guy says. “It’d look even better on my bedroom floor.”

Okay, forget the outfit.

Two minutes later, Leela has beaten the guy to a bloody pulp. Actually, not a pulp—more a puree. Terminology aside, he’s lying in a pile on the sidewalk as Leela saunters off. She overhears him muttering, “I meant it literally. It’s a hardwood floor; it could use a rug. Jeez, lady.”

Hearing this, Leela feels minutely guilty. But then she’s approaching Elzar’s, and she can see Lars standing beside the specials board, facing the brick of the building. And suddenly, she feels much better.

She walks to him slowly, quietly. Closer now, she realizes that he’s talking to himself. “Okay, Lars,” he’s saying. “Don’t mess this up. I mean, obviously you don’t mess this up…but still, don’t mess this up.”

Leela coughs, and Lars looks up at her. For a second, she sees something different in his eyes, something like fear. But it’s gone in an instant, a flash of lightning, and then he’s grinning at her. “Hey, there,” he says.

“Hi.” She smiles, folds her hands together at her waist; she hopes it looks cute.

Lars looks into her eye, and his grin seems to go from cocky to goofy, confident to awestruck. After a moment, he swallows. “Uh,” he stammers. “I-I got you flowers.”

He lifts an arm, almost jerkily. The bouquet is small, simple; it’s composed entirely of daisies. Leela can’t shake the curious feeling that Lars probably picked these himself.

“It’s beautiful,” she says, reaching her hand out and curling her fingers around the stems of the flowers. Her knuckles are touching his.

“Yeah,” Lars says. “Beautiful.”

Neither one of them speaks for a moment. Lars swallows; Leela watches his Adam’s apple bob in his throat. She wonders if he’s nervous—it seems out of character for him, though she’s only just met him.

“Um, we should go inside,” she finally says, gently prying the bouquet from Lars’s grip. She smiles.

“Right,” Lars says. “Sorry.” He shakes his head, exhales. “Now look who’s making a good first impression.”

“Technically,” Leela says, “it’s a third impression.” She smiles at him. “And you can give yourself more credit.”

They walk into Elzar’s, Lars’s hand on the small of Leela’s back, guiding her. His hand is steady, certain; clearly, the nervousness was just a phase. He’s made reservations—already, Leela notes sardonically, this puts him ahead of most of the pinheads she’s dated in the past—and a man with a self-consciously French mustache leads them to a table near the back of the restaurant. It’s intimate, but not so secluded that Leela feels obligated to, say, hold Lars’s hand over the table and confess her darkest secrets.

A boy at the orphanarium once pulled a trick like this: acting on what she assumed was a dare, Tommy Carson walked over to her lunch table one day—a dilapidated, mockingly expansive formica table of which Leela was usually the only occupant—and sat across from her. He smiled and said, “How’s it going?” and Leela was so overcome by the seeming sincerity of the gesture that she spilled what was essentially her life’s story up to that point. She told him everything, but her two fatal admissions had been 1.) that she enjoyed the broccoli that supplemented nearly every meal at the orphanarium; and 2.) that she wet her bed on the first night she’d been allowed to sleep in a bunk as opposed to a crib. The next day, Tommy shared these two tidbits with the other kids, and Leela was known as The Broccoli Bed-Wetter for the next four years.

It was around this time that Leela started building emotional walls, the kind that could withstand the tossing of both insults and leafy greens. The only way to avoid getting hurt, she decided, was to make yourself invincible. Or at least to pretend you were invincible. When you get right down to it, denial is her response to pretty much everything that happens in her life—both the good and the bad.

The “French” waiter asks Lars if he’s interested in seeing the wine list. Lars squints at Leela, and his lips curve upwards in a half-smile. “No,” he says, looking at her and not the waiter. “I think we’d prefer champagne.”

Leela sits up a little straighter in her chair.

D’accord,” says the waiter. “What kind of champagne, my bald-headed monsieur?”

Lars raises an eyebrow at Leela; he’s full-out smirking now. Turning to the waiter, he says, “You have anything domestic?”

“But of course,” he says. “But it is, how you say, cheap. Not the kind of drink you’d like to purchase when you are trying to impress une mademoiselle.”

Either he’s from the Republic of French Stereotypes, or he took two years of French in high school and he’s eager to impress the customers. “You’re saying it’s moderately-priced?”

Leela has no idea what’s going on, but she’s still mesmerized by Lars’s performance.

“That is a euphemism, sir, but oui.”

“Well…” Lars cups his chin. His smirk dissolves; his voice grows softer. “She does deserve the best.” He clears his throat. “Do you have anything domestic that’s not, how I say, cheap?”

The waiter nods.

“Good—bring us a bottle of that.”

When the waiter leaves, Lars turns back to Leela. “One out of three’ll have to do, eh?”

She frowns at him. “Huh?”

He looks away, scratches at the back of his neck. “Uh, nothing.” He picks up his menu. “Have you eaten here before?”

Leela is thrown by the sudden change in topic, but then she remembers that a first date is fifty-percent throat-clearing—until that initial awkwardness dissipates, you’re left with banal, non-conversational questions like the one Lars has just asked. In a way, Leela is disappointed that they’ve fallen into this trap; for some reason, she expected more of this date, this man.

“Yeah,” she says, leafing through her own menu. “I think everyone’s eaten at Elzar’s at least once—it’s part of the New New York experience. It’s like riding the tubes or getting mugged or visiting Hugh Grant’s tomb.”

Lars chuckles. “Personally, I could do without Grant’s tomb.” He shudders. “And Grant’s movies.”

“You’ve seen his movies?”

He shrugs. “Some of them. I’m kind of a…history buff, when it comes to the Stupid Ages.”

She’s never dated anyone who was a buff at anything—she’s never dated anyone who was buff, period. “How did that happen?” she asks.

“Uh,” he says, “working at the Head Museum, I get to talk to a lot of people from the twentieth century. They’ve got some interesting stories.”

The mention of the Head Museum provokes the resurgence of a thought that’s been in Leela’s head ever since she met Lars. “How long have you worked there?” she says. “I’ve been there plenty of times, but I’ve never seen you around.”

He leans over and covers his mouth, like he’s intimating some huge secret. “My work is so glamorous that I can’t do it in front of the museum-goers. The higher-ups don’t like us to look happy doing our jobs—it gives people the wrong idea about the actual amount of fun they can have at the place.”

She knows he’s joking, knows she should laugh—but she’s too focused on the fact that he’s about two inches away from her face, that she can smell his cologne, that she can make out the individual, fine hairs of his beard. She could easily kiss him right now. Quite easily.

As she considers acting on this impulse, she hears the tell-tale bad accent of their waiter. “Here we are, then,” he says. “One bottle of champagne.”

This is when they both pull back. Lars looks up at the waiter. “Thank you,” he says. He takes the bottle and glasses from Phony McFrenchy’s hands and sets them down on the table.

“My pleasure, sir.” He stands up a bit straighter, like a soldier with a cummerbund. “May I please have your menus?”

Leela doesn’t eat at restaurants too often, but she knows that traditionally, the waiter takes the menus after you’ve ordered. “Oh, but we haven’t—“

“No problem,” Lars says, handing the waiter the menus. He must notice the way Leela is squinting at him, because he smiles at her and squeezes her hand. “Don’t worry—they’re mood menus.”

“Mood menus?”

She looks to the waiter, who holds up the menus like flashcards she forgot to study. She notices that one is flashing blue, and one is flashing pink. “It is not so difficile, miss. You page through the menu, yes? You decide what meal you would like, subconsciously—”

“And the menu changes colors to match the food you’re thinking of.” Lars laughs, delighted. “I requested them when I made reservations. I thought they sounded kind of neat.”

“Yes,” the waiter says. “Neat.”

“So what’d I order?” Leela asks.

The waiter examines the pink menu. “Pavlov’s Parmesan Pomeranian.”

“But why would I ever want something so revoltingly delicious?”

“As I said, miss, the menu caters to your subconscious desires.” He shrugs, closing the menu. “What seems repulsive superficially could be what you really want in le couer.”

He seems earnest, but Leela can’t look at him without thinking about oversized berets and novelty French flags. “Yeah,” she says. “Um, poignant stuff.”

Tres,” he says, nodding stiffly. And then, finally, he leaves.

When he’s out of sight, Leela sighs. She looks at Lars; he’s grinning. “Someone’s enjoying himself,” Leela says, but she’s smiling back.

He shakes his head; his voice is quiet, like he’s speaking more to himself than to Leela. “I never thought I’d see the day that you were shocked by 31st century technology.”

“What do you mean?” she says.

“Uh…” He looks away. “I’m just surprised that you’ve never heard of, um, mood menus.”

Leela looks down at the tablecloth. Picking up her fork, she lightly scratches the fabric. “Yeah, well, I don’t get out too often,” she mutters. It comes out more bitterly than she intended, though she’d be hard-pressed to say who exactly she’s mad at.

Lars takes her hand again. “Hey,” he says. Something about his voice, the tone of it, untwists something in her chest. It makes her sit up a little straighter. When their eyes meet, her breath catches for just a second, the way it does when someone lands a punch you weren’t expecting, causes an ache you can’t identify.

But Lars looks serene. He smiles, softly. “This is the greatest date I’ve ever been on,” he says.

And she thinks she’s heard that somewhere before, but she can’t remember where. Besides, it hardly matters. Right now, she’s much more interested in the feel of Lars’s skin pressed against hers, the warmth of his hand on hers. Right now, she’s wondering if he’s ever kissed a woman before the appetizers showed up.

He leans in first, and Leela feels relief and trepidation in equal measure. Kissing him now could be a mistake, a disappointment—chances are, though, it will be the smartest thing she ever does. She leans forward, too, and she’s beginning to close her eye when she sees the waiter approaching. A part of her brain—the part she rarely listens to—tells her to keep leaning. But of all the people who could witness her first kiss with Lars, the pseudo-Frenchman is probably the least appealing possibility.

So she pulls back, reluctantly and not quite gracefully, smiling at Lars in apology.

“The food is served,” says the waiter, setting two plates on the table. Leela makes sure to glare at him as he walks away.

When she looks back at Lars, he’s pouring the champagne. He hands her a glass, and lifts his own. “Should we make a toast?” he says. “To you?”

Leela holds up her glass, not quite as high as his; she lets it hover over the table, uncertainly. Normally, she’d be all for a toast; in fact, she imagines that Lars could give the most charming, perfect toast she’s ever heard. With most guys, she craves compliments; she needs some kind of assurance, some way of knowing that they’re actually interested in her. But, right now, she’s sure Lars is interested. More than interested—damn near entranced, really. So who needs a toast? Leela’s always waiting to hear the right words, always trying to find a way to qualify what she’s feeling. But right now, with Lars, she doesn’t think words are necessary. They would cheapen the way she thinks Lars feels about her. And, to be honest, the way she thinks she feels about him.

She sets the glass down on the table. “No,” she says. She watches Lars’s face fall, and realizes that she’s given him the wrong idea. She reaches for his hand, which is still suspended in mid-air, and molds her fingers around his. “I mean, I just think…I get it, Lars.” She smiles. “You don’t have to say anything yet.”

She recognizes that she’s being vague, but Lars seems to understand her meaning. His face brightens, and he sets his own glass down. Her hand is still atop his, following his movements. She lets it rest there for a moment; then, she pulls away, slowly.

Lars swallows. “This date’s getting kind of serious,” he says. Then, as if he’s recoiling at his own wording, he hastily adds, “Not that that’s bad. I-I mean, I didn’t mean serious in the commitment sense of the word. Because, you know, commitment’s good. Very good.” He sighs. “I just mean that, well…I like to think I’m kind of a fun guy.”

Leela might have been put-off by his first statement—how he could sense that, she has no idea— but he’s managed to recover well. So she nods at him, almost amused. “Yeah? How do you mean?”

“Can I see your champagne?”

She hands it to him, a bit skeptically. “You’re not going to get embarrassingly drunk and start dancing on the table, are you?”

“Does that happen on a lot of your dates?”

“Well, sure,” she says. She lowers her eyelid, tries for a mock-seductive tone. “But usually I’m the one doing the dancing.”

Lars laughs. “Now that you say that, I’m starting to rethink my own idea of fun.” He’s not looking at her as he speaks; his attention is focused on the glass and a fork that he’s grabbed from his unfurled napkin. Leela watches as he lifts the glass and places the fork beneath it. He pulls one hand away and, like a magic trick, the glass is balancing like an amateur tightrope walker.

“Impressive,” Leela says.

Lars carefully points the glass in her direction. “Drink it,” he says.

She raises her eyebrow. “What?”

“C’mon,” he says. “Drink it. This is much harder than it looks.”

“Looks pretty simple to me.”

“It’s easier than balancing a beer mug on a toothpick, but that’s more a parlor trick.” Lars grins at her, suppliant. “This is me trying to dazzle you.”

It’s kind of working, she thinks but doesn’t say. Feigning annoyance, she rolls her eye and says, “Okay, if you insist. But—“

“Oh, I do.”

Lars tilts his wrist and the glass tips; champagne threatens to spill onto the table. Leela cranes her neck over the table, trying to catch the drops of domestic booze on her tongue. She misjudges the distance between her mouth and the lip of the glass; she bumps her nose against its bowl. “Get closer,” Leela says, laughing. “I can’t get it.”

He stands up a little, and Leela balances her elbows on her knees, trying to create a better angle. She manages to get a small sip of the champagne—cool and slippery in her mouth—before she notices the glass shaking slightly.

This is when she realizes that Lars is laughing, too. “Drink, quick. I can’t balance it much longer.”

“Wait, I—” She maneuvers so that the remainder of the champagne slides down her throat.

“Yes!” Lars effortlessly pulls the glass away and sets it back on the table, along with the fork.

Leela chuckles. “This is so much fun, Lars,” she says. She would’ve said it anyway, just to reassure him that the date wasn’t getting too serious; it’s a nice plus that he has actually managed to entertain her. “Most men are intimidated by the fact that I could kill them with a flick of my wrist.”

“Well, not me. ‘Cause if you do, you’ll be stuck with the check.”

Just then, Elzar sidles up to their table. He’s carrying a spice weasel—a kitchen aid that is, in Leela’s opinion, bordering on animal cruelty—and he’s wearing the phony smile of a proprietor who would much rather be enjoying the company of expensive intergalactic hookers than interacting with the customers. “Folks,” he says, “care for a little fresh-ground executive?”

“Please,” Leela says.

Elzar makes a move like he’s cocking a gun, and the weasel shoots out a cloud of pink dust. It dissipates in front of Leela and Lars. And maybe she’s tipsy, but she swears she can make out the shape of a heart. Lars must see it, too, because his eyes go half-lidded and he smiles a slow, gorgeous smile. For her part, Leela toys with a lock of her hair. She’s new at seduction, but she thinks it suits her nicely.

“Don’t get excited, kids.” Elzar’s voice manages to ruin the mood. “This thing’s got heart-shaped nostrils.” The glee in his voice is particularly disturbing as he points the tail-end of the weasel at them and says, “You want to see it make a star?”

“No!” they say in unison.

“Eh, suit yourself,” he says, walking away from the table.

Leela lets out a breath she hasn’t even realized she’s been holding. She notices that Lars is still looking at her, studying her. “You want to know a secret?” he says. His voice is different, thicker; Leela wonders if spice-filled mammals have the powers of an aphrodisiac.

“Yeah,” she says.

“I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for this date.”

Leela peers at him. She should say, But you just met me. She should say, Maybe you’re just impatient. She should say, You’re exaggerating.

But what she says instead is, “Yeah.” She says, “Me, too.”



Space Pope
« Reply #5 on: 04-21-2009 06:17 »
« Last Edit on: 04-21-2009 06:19 »

km: If I remember correctly from the threads over in General Discussion, you're not a big fan of ItWGY, right?

Heh - Teeeensy little bit of an understatement there. Apart from the opening song, some of the parts with the Donbot and the rest of the Mafia, a few scattered jokes here and there, and the very ending with them flying into the wormhole (did think that was a fairly good idea, leaves matters ambiguous and open), I pretty much hated it. Most of the rest of it. To be honest, however, I don't have much use for any of the movies, really, and in general just think none of them ever touched the series episodes. So it might be a little bit hard for me to properly critique this.  As a retelling of BBS from Leela's perspective, though, it seems pretty credible so far.

At any rate, though, I'd be honored to have you as a regular reader. I've lurked in other fanfic threads here at PEEL, and you're always able to provide both ego-boosting compliments and constructive criticism. And that's most certainly a good thing.

That's awfully nice of you to say...  also ego-boosting...  but I don't always go on so
much, seriously.      I just try to do what I can, anyway.

Never used to think that my somewhat 'literary' background would come in handy on PEEL...

(I read "Death Clock Countdown" about a month ago but never got around to reviewing it. Mini-review: I thought it was awesome; you showed an incredible understanding for the depth of the show and the characters, considering how new you were to Futurama at the time. Amazing stuff.)

And I for one would also love to read some of your reviews of fics, Gorky; you're obviously very literate, and I'm sure the awesome authors could benefit from your comments as well.

Now as for this then - I have to admit I was finding it being in the present tense a little distracting, but that's just a personal thing, and I'm already getting used to it. Otherwise, it's well-written, and it's good how you try to add in touches of humor. I like the three bits about the guy saying "I meant it literally. It's a hardwood floor; it could use a rug", Hugh Grant's tomb, and Pavlov's Parmesan Pomeranian. Nice.  (Tasty).  Again, literate and articulate throughout, and though I'm not much of a fan of the original subject matter (BBS) hopefully you can, like JN said, go some way towards showing Leela being more in-character than she, or Fry, or just about anyone else, was in that movie then.

Space Pope
« Reply #6 on: 04-21-2009 12:49 »

Heh - Teeeensy little bit of an understatement there. Apart from the opening song, some of the parts with the Donbot and the rest of the Mafia, a few scattered jokes here and there, and the very ending with them flying into the wormhole (did think that was a fairly good idea, leaves matters ambiguous and open), I pretty much hated it. Most of the rest of it. To be honest, however, I don't have much use for any of the movies, really, and in general just think none of them ever touched the series episodes. So it might be a little bit hard for me to properly critique this.  As a retelling of BBS from Leela's perspective, though, it seems pretty credible so far.

I certainly agree that none of the movies were anywhere near the quality of the original series--it's just that, if I had to choose which one fits best when held up against the original 72, I'd pick ItWGY. The characterization, at least IMO, was spot-on. In the other movies, Fry and Leela in particular managed to annoy, repel, and disgust me at various points; I felt like they were finally acting like themselves in the last movie.

As for the credibility of this fic, I think I'm taking certain, somewhat self-indulgent liberties when it comes to its telling. For starters, I'm finding it kind of hard to write Lars, 'cause....well, even after the big reveal at the end of BBS, I still didn't like him all that much. And the movie makes it pretty clear that he's supposed to be our hero, so I suppose he should be a bit more likeable. So I've taken to writing him as, essentially, Fry with a better vocabulary, quicker wit (or at least my paltry version of wit), and a bit more confidence. BBS, to me--and I think this was to serve its suprise ending--didn't give us enough of an indication that Lars was essentially Fry personality-wise, just with 12 years of experience tacked on. And, to me, it's probably fair to assume that Lars would be a bit more Fry-like when he's experiencing things with Leela that he hasn't already seen played-out in front of him (their introduction at the Head Museum in particular).

Speaking of self-indulgent...that paragraph kind of was. Sorry 'bout that. 

That's awfully nice of you to say...  also ego-boosting...  but I don't always go on so much, seriously.      I just try to do what I can, anyway.

Never used to think that my somewhat 'literary' background would come in handy on PEEL...

I think an appreciation for non-Futurama fiction definitely helps when it comes to critiquing fanfic. In a way, it makes you hold fanfic authors to a higher standard of quality, and I think that's a good thing for both the writer and the reader. So thanks for being such a nerdy bookworm, km. wink

As for this fic: I decided to write it in present-tense because, to me, it makes Leela's obliviousness to the Lars-is-quite-clearly-Fry thing easier to pull off. I thought it would be better to discover the Fry-like things about Lars with Leela; going the past-tense route, I think it would've made her cluelessness less organic. Actually, that explanation's kind of dumb; let's just say I'm writing it in present-tense because I'm pretentious. And I know that many people are not big fans of present-tense. When I'm writing non-fanfic (which I guess is just regular fiction), I reserve present-tense for first-person narration; in the third-person, I think the story winds up reading more like a script than a narrative. So I guess that means I'm breaking my own rules, but I hope the present-tense isn't too big a turn-off.

Once again, thanks for the insight, km. (I stand by my opinion that you are a fanfic-reviewing pro.) And, if you find the story less than engaging as we go on, feel free to stop the agony. wink Honestly, I could see why disliking the source material would sour your opinion of this adaptation. But thanks for sticking around for now; I promise you'll barely regret this.

Space Pope
« Reply #7 on: 04-21-2009 17:58 »

Fanfic-reviewing pro?   Guess I'd better start charging then...
Yeah, I couldn't much stand Lars either.  He rankled me.  They really messed up with him, I feel, along with just about every other 'new' character in the films..  ...  But yeah, I get what you're saying about what you're trying to do with this adaptation, and where it's going.
Future Shock

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #8 on: 04-22-2009 05:12 »

I delight in the descriptions of parts in the movie so well it makes more sense the next time you watch it. And you did well by not making it all a part from the movie. And it gives a 'before' and 'after' and also some nice, shippy quotes. Great, great stuff.

Space Pope
« Reply #9 on: 04-26-2009 19:11 »

Thanks for readin', Future Shock. I'm enjoying your fanfic, too, for what it's worth.

Now, this is the first scene I've written that isn't bookended by actual moments from BBS--so, if it's really, really bad, then I guess we can blame it on my own lack of creativity.


Leela is starting to hate her job even more than jaded thirty-somethings traditionally should. Ever since Planet Express became Scammer Central, her resentment has grown exponentially day by day. Mathematically, she’s not sure that’s possible; she’s considering asking one of the Globetrotters to work out a proof. It might be nice to have her workplace misery spelled out for her in electro-chalk.

Lately, her job has consisted of hauling crates of junk into the ship, watching Nibbler chide Nudar for using the time sphere, and sitting at the conference table attempting the paperwork that Hermes can’t manage with his misaligned head. That last one is her least favorite use of company time, mainly because Hermes insists on sitting beside her the whole time, criticizing her and cursing Dr. Zoidberg’s name.

“Damn crawdad,” he says to Leela now. “I oughtta cut his head off, den reattach it backwards—see how he likes dem bananas. Although just cutting his head off would probably solve more problems.”

“Uh-huh,” Leela says, less than disinterested. Death threats from Hermes have become like date requests from Fry—so frequent that she’s unfazed by them. She resumes reading the tiny print on one of the forms, barely comprehending both its meaning and its relevance.

“I’m not sure if I can manage de gruesome task on my own.” Hermes pauses. “Are you doing anything tonight, Leela?”

“I have plans,” she mutters dismissively, though she feels her pulse quicken. Last night’s date with Lars has been playing in her head at random points; right now, she’s picturing the smile on his face as he suggested they go mini-golfing. It’ll be fun, he told her. I’m still worried you think I’m boring.

Don’t worry, she said, shrugging. I’ve dated lots of boring guys. To me, boring is like normal.

Well, then I think you deserve someone…abnormal.

Which would have sounded horrible if Leela didn’t find it so sweet.

“Hey, you!” Leela recognizes Nudar’s voice. “Undersexed cyclops.”

Leela sighs and looks up at the pink alien standing across the table. “Yes, oh nauseating scamming overlord?”

The sarcasm in her voice is lost on Nudar. He smiles. “I like that. Fleb,” he shouts, “order us some new business cards!”

“Oh, Lord,” Leela says, placing a hand against her temple. Then, louder, “You needed me for something, Nudar?”

“Oh, yes,” he says. “We’ve decided that keeping up the pretense of a delivery company is both unprofitable and unnecessary. We’re transparently evil aliens—why bother with the façade? Besides, your planet appears to be suffering from some collective learning disability; we can scam the pants off you morons without even offering shoddy ‘merchandise’ in return.”

“Is this your self-serving way of telling me I’m fired?” Leela asks, not wholly disturbed by the prospect.

“Fired?” Nudar laughs. “Of course not. You make for cheap, attractive labor. No, I just need you to haul all the junk we intended to sell to Entrepot 9, for storage.”

“If it’s so useless to ya, why don’t you just set fire to your whole inventory?” says Hermes. Leela doubts that’s ethically sound, but then she remembers who’s making the suggestion.

“We considered it,” says Nudar, “but compliant company arson is such a messy thing. Requires lots of paperwork.”

Leela can hear Hermes salivating. She stands up, smiling, barely glancing at the homicidal pyromaniac sitting beside her. To Nudar, she says, “You make a good point…Your Nudeness. I’d be happy to make this delivery.”

Hokey as it sounds, Leela means what she’s telling him (well, at least that second sentence). She hasn’t made a delivery in weeks, and her last foray into space resulted in Planet Express being sold to immodest aliens. So she’d like to improve her track record. And she misses piloting, really, misses the swift precision of the ship and the certainty of her hands on the wheel. She misses that sense of control; she’s beginning to forget how it feels.

“Alright,” Nudar says. “Gather your crew and get your carcasses in motion.”

Leela sets out to find Bender and Fry. She spots the former in the hangar, toying with one of the many artifacts littering the place, in both a violation of company policy and the laws of space-time. As she gets nearer to where Bender’s standing, she can more clearly discern what he’s holding. It’s a paddle made out of wood, with a rubber ball attached to it by a string. “What is that thing?” she asks him.

“I have no idea,” he says. “I nabbed it from some kid’s pocket in 1960s Old New York while I was looking for a menu from the original Famous Original Ray’s.”

“Why would Nudar want a menu from a pizza place?”

“Hey, I don’t question our amazing alien overlords. I just do what they force me to.”

Leela rolls her eye. “Sorry, my mistake.” She looks at Bender’s souvenir. “What do you think it does?”

He pulls the ball from the paddle, so that the string is taut. Then he lets go of the ball, letting it smack painfully back against the wood. “I bet my ancient robo-ancestors used it to somehow kill humans.” He makes the stance of a Blernsball player ready to swing a bat; Leela notes, idly, that the principles behind this supposed weapon and the Earthican pastime appear similar. “Come on,” Bender says, “let me try it on you.”

As Leela readies herself to whomp some metallic ass, she hears Fry’s voice. “Bender,” he says. Leela looks up to find him emerging from behind a pile of junk in the corner of the hangar. He is wearing a trophy, upside-down, on his head; it reads, SUPERBOWL XXIX. This somewhat lessens the authoritative impact when he tells Bender, “Leave Leela alone—I already told you that’s not for human-killing.”

Bender groans, frustrated. “Look, meatbag, you’re usually on the receiving-end of this arrangement, so maybe the concept’s lost on you—but it’s fun to use someone’s ignorance against them.”

Leela is tempted to point out that Bender’s ignorance got him in his current predicament, but she figures it’d be futile. And, at any rate, Fry doesn’t seem too bothered by the robot’s insult. The trophy sits askew on his head; he straightens it out in that solemn, self-consciously grown-up way of his. He does everything without irony—Leela finds it almost endearing.

“Bender,” he says, “I have no idea what you just said. But”—he grabs the paddle from the robot’s hands—“if there’s one thing I do know, it’s the twentieth century. Well, that, and all the words to the Mighty Mouse theme song, but I guess those two are kind of related. Anyway, it’s called a paddle ball.”

Bender scoffs. “Well, that’s an obvious name.” Mentally, Leela adds, says the robot who’s named after what he’s programmed to do.

“Anyway, it’s not a weapon—it’s a toy. My brother Yancy used to have one, when we were little.” Fry starts demonstrating how to play the game; he bounces the ball up and down against the wood. “He wasn’t all that great at it, but he liked to beat the snot out of me with the paddle.” He stops bouncing the ball; he examines it, almost scientifically. “Hey, wait—I guess it could be a weapon…”

Leela senses that this is the point where she should interrupt this train of thought. Over the years, she’s become an expert at shutting Fry up when he’s incapable of doing it himself. It’s a more aggressive version of finishing each other’s sentences, a side-effect of being friends with him for almost eight years. She says, “Look, guys, we have a delivery to make.”

“Correction,” Bender says, grabbing the paddle ball from Fry’s hands. “You two evolutionary mistakes have a delivery to make. I have to stay put, in case our alien masters need me.”

“But Nudar said—“

“’But Nudar said, but Nudar said,’” mocks Bender. “Take it from someone who’s programmed to listen to everything Nudar says: don’t listen to anything Nudar says.”

“Moron,” Leela mutters.

As if he’s been summoned, Fry loosens his posture and takes the trophy off his head. He sets it on the ground. “I’m ready to go,” he tells Leela with a shrug.

She hesitates. Normally, she’d have no problem making a delivery with Fry alone. But this is the first time she’s seen him all day, and she doesn’t think his absence was accidental.

“Uh,” she says. She considers asking Amy to accompany them, to diffuse any possible tension, but when last Leela saw her, the intern was sitting on the lounge couch, sniffling and eating some green gummi worms. Hermes is wallowing in self-pity; the Professor is doing long division with a visiting basketball team. That leaves Zoidberg, who only makes situations more awkward by his presence.
Which means Fry and Leela will have to manage on their own.

“Okay,” she tells him. “Let’s get out of here.”

The ship is already stuffed with boxes, not just in the cargo bay—the crates also lay scattered in the bridge. They are full of so-called products that, Leela assumes, are meant as consolation prizes to the alien’s dupes. As one of these dupes, she is probably entitled to most of this junk.

Fry seems to be thinking the same thing. While Leela sits at the helm, readying the ship for take-off, he pries the lid from one of the containers. “Ow,” he says, and Leela hears wood splinter.

“Are you okay?” she asks, an automatic response to most of the ill-advised things Fry does.

“No,” he says, a bit petulantly. Leela hears the creak of the lid opening. “I’m not some little kid you have to look after, you know.”

Great, she thinks. This’ll be a blast.

She says, “I know that, Fry.” She looks over her shoulder, attempting to make eye-contact with him. He’s pawing through the contents of the crate, his head facing downward, practically buried. Her mind flashes to a similar tableau: Fry powering through barrels of candy hearts, searching for the perfect one to express his feelings for her.

She blinks tightly, shakes her head. With uncharacteristic clumsiness, she takes off; the ship lurches at first, and Fry says, “Ow” again. This time, his voice is noticeably muffled. She glances behind her; all she sees are Fry’s legs sticking out from the box, upright, like a flagpole with pants. “Okay,” he mumbles. “Now I might be hurt.”

“Sorry,” she says. She puts the ship on auto-pilot, then walks over to where Fry is stuck. She stands there for a moment, amused. “I might like you better this way,” she tells him.

“I’m not sure I’m still breathing,” Fry says.

Imminent death has a way of sobering things up. Leela grabs a hover-chair from behind one of the consoles and brings it to the crate. Standing atop it, she grabs Fry by the ankles and begins to pull. The box is tall but narrow, and it’s packed tight with worthless knickknacks; there’s too much resistance and pressure for Leela to yank Fry out smoothly.

She hops off the chair and stands back a few feet to assess the situation.

“Am I dead yet?” Fry asks. His voice sounds like he’s crammed a considerable amount of cotton balls up his nose.

Despite herself, Leela’s getting a little nervous. At the same time, though, she’s also annoyed. Who but Fry would be stupid enough to pull a stunt like this?

She holds her right arm straight out in front of her. Grasping her wrist-a-ma-jig with her left hand, she aims for the top left corner of the box. She presses a button; a laser shoots out. The beam cuts through the wood as Leela traces the seams of the crate’s face. When the laser reaches the corner again, the wall falls. A cascade of junk shoots out from the box.

At first, Leela can’t see Fry in the haphazard heap. The only indication of life is a sputtering cough emanating from somewhere in the pile. Leela follows the sound, reaching down and feeling around the mishmash of plastic and other synthetic substances; there are so many different varieties of crap that it’s hard to distinguish one trinket from another. Finally, her hand hits something solid. She recognizes the feel of Fry’s jacket. She plunges her other hand down and grabs Fry’s arms. Gripping each arm at the elbow, she hauls him up into a sitting position. Random objects protrude from his hair; there are bags under his eyes. Mostly, though, he appears unharmed. Sitting there, he looks like the battered prize buried at the bottom of a cereal box.

“What up?” he says to Leela, a little hoarse.

She sighs, relieved. She sinks down to the floor beside him. “How did you manage that?” she says.

“I’d rather not discuss it.” He swirls a hand in the mess of tokens covering his legs. “Thanks for, you know, not letting me suffocate.”

The way he says it, he sounds almost surprised by Leela’s effort. “Um, no problem,” she tells him. And then, for the hell of it, she adds, “Best friends are hard to come by.”

Fry’s eyes widen. Leela wonders, suddenly, if she’s ever told him that she considers him her closest friend. Obviously she’s given him a lot of evidence to the contrary; still, she’s always thought of it as a given, one of the few things in life she doesn’t have to explain away with words.

“Really?” Fry says.

Leela shrugs. “Yeah.”

They sit in silence for a minute; Fry is studying her, or at least performing an approximation thereof. After a moment, Leela looks away.

“So,” she says, indicating the multicolored junk pile, “what do you think of all this, uh, stuff?”

“I dunno,” he says. “What is it?”

“’Sorry We Scammed You’ gifts from Nudar and company.”

Fry pulls something out of his hair—it’s a green plastic DOOP soldier, one of those dumb kids’ toys. “I think they’re kind of neat,” he says, regarding it. “Although now aliens own my soul. So, in the grand scheme of things, this probably isn’t going to make me feel much better.”

Which is as close as Fry gets to clarity. Leela realizes this.

She smiles at him, and goes to stand. “We should probably clean this mess up,” she says, helping Fry get to his feet.

“I’ll handle it.” He holds up the DOOP figurine. “But I’m keeping this,” he says, shoving the toy in his back pocket.

Leela heads back to the helm. As she navigates the ship in the direction of Entrepot 9, she hears Fry dutifully tidying up. Just as she’s meditating on how nice this is, how the silence is uncomplicated and companionable, Fry says, “So, how was your date with Lars?”

It’s a question with no real antecedent; Leela certainly didn’t see it coming.

“Um…it was nice,” she says. She’s actually been looking for an excuse to talk about last night—more specifically, to gush about last night—since she came into work this morning. But no one has really asked her about it—which isn’t all that surprising, considering she works with a bunch of jerks. So why isn’t she grateful for Fry’s question? Why can’t she tell him the truth—My date was amazing, Lars is amazing, I’ve never had such an incredible night—without feeling like a jerk?

“Just nice?” Fry asks.

“Uh…yeah.”  But her mind is racing to tonight, to seeing Lars again. She doubts anyone has ever been this excited about mini golf. And so her voice is hollow as she says, “It was pretty much an average date.”


« Reply #10 on: 04-28-2009 16:50 »
« Last Edit on: 04-28-2009 20:17 »

I really love where this is going. I was actually very happy with Bender's Big Score, but I see your point about fleshing Leela and Lars out more, and while I understand they had to play down Lars' and Fry's similarities for the shocker ending, it'll be interesting now that we all know they're one and the same to see the similarities; I definitely think you're doing a great job of it right now (love the little "abnormal" quip, for example). Also, I'm really just in love with your style- it has a very even, natural flow and I think you really stay true to the characters.

While of course you're going to have to rehash a lot of the movie since this basically just IS the movie with more character development, I think you're doing a great job of keeping things interesting despite the fact that we know a lot of this already. Love the conversation between Leela and Nibbler. And your last update is great and proves you have a good handle on the characters and know what you're doing- I love the trophy hat bit and the whole crate scene. Very Fry-ish, cute, funny, and stupid.

And I apologize for being a weird, creepy lurker- I actually had read your stories on your ancient thread and loved your style and sense of humor even then, so it's great to see you back in the fanfic world. I look forward to more updates, and I definitely look forward to your post-ItWGY story smile.

Space Pope
« Reply #11 on: 04-29-2009 06:29 »

Now, this is the first scene I've written that isn't bookended by actual moments from BBS--so, if it's really, really bad, then I guess we can blame it on my own lack of creativity.

It's not really, really bad at all; it's not even really bad... in fact, it's good. Much better than the BBS parts. (Better than actual BBS, I mean). Once more, I like your insertions of
humor - I loved this line:

Mathematically, she’s not sure that’s possible; she’s considering asking one of the Globetrotters to work out a proof.

, the bit with the paddle toy, "the Professor is doing long division with a visiting basketball team", Bender's line about not listening to what Nudar says...  Maybe you should write an original story again.
I guess that's what your other one is going to be. Meanwhile I liked the expansiveness of this part and found it to be more interesting in that it didn't involve any recounting of
the movie.    (As I said, it's harder for me to critique those parts).

That observation about the Professor is so casually absurd.

Space Pope
« Reply #12 on: 08-03-2009 05:53 »
« Last Edit on: 08-03-2009 05:54 »


Well, it's nice to see that taking a four-year break from the fanfic world didn't break me of my fundamental writing habit: never updating. Ever. (Other habits include writing, y'know, garbage; and the egregious overuse of italics and em-dashes. But I digress.)

Anyway. Some responses to my loyal, two-strong fanbase:

Frynold: You're too kind. And it's sort of cool that you've read my older (read: embarrasingly crappy) stuff. It's not creepy at all, I promise--it's actually pretty flattering. Thanks for readin'.

km: Glad you enjoyed the decidedly un-BBS update. This next update relies pretty heavily on the movie, but it's more or less original, so I hope you can get on-board with it, too.

About this update: It's more or less an attempt to dramatize that dating montage between Leela and Lars. As such, I'm sure it's pretty dry in places. But hopefully it doesn't put y'all to sleep. At least not completely.


Leela once went on a field trip with the orphanarium, where they were to ostensibly visit Bogey Beaver’s Mini-Golf. But it slowly became apparent, as the crummy bus sped past Bogey’s dam, that Mr. Vogel had tricked the kids. What he’d called “mini-golf” turned out to be an afternoon of roadside clean-up along the New Jersey turnpike. And, although Mr. Vogel was sincerely apologetic—“I’m sorry, children, but the government considers you tiny, less sexually deviant prisoners”—Leela felt betrayed.

“I mean,” she tells Lars now, as they’re driving to a mini-golf place in the next galaxy over, “I guess Vogel had no choice—“

“—You gotta do what you gotta do,” Lars recites dispassionately.

“—But it was still a rotten thing to do to a bunch of kids.” Leela has often wondered if her general mistrust of men can be traced back to this initial deception. She supposes this is the sort of personality defect women traditionally blame their fathers for, but she never had the chance.

Lars removes one hand from the steering wheel and places it on Leela’s arm. “You’re right,” he says, his voice increasing in emotion. “It sounds terrible. It’s just, I never knew…um, I mean, if I had known, I wouldn’t have suggested mini-golf. Do you want to do something else?”

This is why Leela doesn’t like to talk about her past. It’s not that her childhood was so tramautic—she firmly stands by the belief that growing up in the Orphanarium inspired her to work harder at life; in a way, it molded her into what some people might call a fabulous person—but it was by no means ordinary, either. Yet people inevitably zero-in on the supposed tragedy of her upbringing, and their pity just serves to highlight Leela’s unconventional existence. She’s always wanted to be seen as normal, but her own life tries its damndest to prove otherwise.

So why did she share this anecdote with Lars in the first place? She doesn’t even like to discuss the Orphanarium with her parents, for fear they’d feel guilty about the decision they made. Thinking about it now, Fry is the only other person she’s ever shared her past with.

But she’d much rather focus on the future. “Nah,” she tells Lars, smiling. “I like mini-golf. And, actually, that afternoon I spent cleaning up garbage wasn’t so bad. Although we were working alongside actual prisoners.”


“No, no,” she tries to reassure him, “it was still a good learning experience. I mean, uh…at least I got to meet new people.”

“Ah, so it wasn’t a total loss,” Lars says with a rueful smile. “But why would you guys be doing garbage pick-up in the first place? I thought we’d taken care of the whole littering issue.”

“Well, not in New Jersey.” She laughs a little, reminiscing. “Besides, there’s garbage in the city now. It’s become a bit more socially acceptable, ever since my crew shot that huge ball of it into space. Did you hear about that?”

Lars chuckles. “I may have read about it in the paper.”

The mini-golf course is built in an asteroid belt located in what is known, colloquially, as the Cheap Date Quadrant. The course is neighbored by a virtual reality plaza that simulates walks on the beach, a community theater whose productions are of questionable quality, and an Olive Garden.

Once they’ve rented the usual equipment—putters, balls, and spacesuits—they head for the first hole. Despite her reassurance to Lars, Leela has often entertained the notion that she hasn’t played much mini-golf in her life because the game conjures images of orange jumpsuits and so many large, bald men in need of major dental work and several pounds of deodorant.

Really, though, it’s because she sucks. She manages respectable scores on the first two holes, of which she’s proud—but her technique is lacking. Her putts have this frantic quality to them—she suspects she’s putting too much force behind her swing—and the ball bounces against the various obstacles in random zigzag patterns until it somehow finds its way to the hole. It’s as if the ball is a rat eager to find its way out of a maze, but it’s unsure of where to go and is also slightly brain-damaged.

After the third hole—where the ball travels in such a haphazard way that Leela considers asking it to take a sobriety test—she turns to Lars, standing behind her, smiling. Their scores so far are comparable, but he has proven himself a much more graceful golfer. “Are you amused by this?” she asks him, but she’s smiling, too.

“Not at all,” he says. “But I wouldn’t be opposed to giving you some pointers.” He smiles, almost sheepishly. “I mean, if you wanted.”

“Well,” Leela says, pretending to mull the proposition over. “I guess that would be okay.”

“Great.” Lars places his hands on Leela’s shoulders. “Stay here.”

He hops to the hole (which is being guarded by a cheesy-looking astronaut holding a flag) and retrieves both their golf balls. The way he bounces on the green—it’s like he’s relishing the zero-gravity. Leela’s mind flashes to she and Fry, jumping over craters on the moon.

“Having fun?” Leela asks Lars as he makes his way back to where she’s standing.

“Like a kid on a moon bounce,” Lars says.

“What’s a moon bounce?”

“Oh, it was this twentieth century trampoline-like thing. Uh, Neil Armstrong’s head told me about it.” By now Lars is once again standing beside Leela. He places one of the balls on the ground. “So, ready for your lesson?”

Leela nods. She shifts, lines the side of her putter up with the ball, about six inches back. Lars is cupping his chin, scrutinizing her stance. She feels like a specimen, something anomalous and perplexing—which, to be fair, isn’t new for her.

“Let me guess,” she says. “I’m already doing it wrong?”

“Not wrong,” he says. “Just not right. Here, move in closer.”

She supposes it’s a coincidence that, as Lars says those words, his hands settle in the crooks of her elbows. “Right,” Leela says. “Closer. How come?”

Pressing his torso into Leela’s back, hovering his head over her right shoulder, Lars says, “You’re compensating for the distance between the putter and the ball by swinging too hard. The closer you are, the lighter your swing can be.”

“Someone’s been watching a lot of Palmerbot golf tapes,” Leela says, turning slightly to meet Lars’s eyes.

“I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands.”

“I know the feeling,” Leela says.

Lars grins. “Well, hopefully we can remedy that situation.”

Their eyes stay locked for one more moment, but then Leela remembers that she’s supposed to be improving her currently non-existent mini-golf skills. So she returns her attention to the fluorescent orange ball lying there on the green, and says, “I think I’ve got it.”

Lars steps back—which is good, because the physical proximity is beginning to distract Leela. “I think so, too,” he says, picking up his own putter and leaning against it, like a cane. “Give it a shot.”

She straightens up for a moment, sizing up the goofy astronaut. This whole situation has a very space-western feel to it, like she’s at the Oxygen-Potassium Corral or something. Focusing on her swing, on using a light touch, Leela smoothly makes the putt.

Amazingly, the ball rolls in a straight line. Despite the fact that her timing’s a bit off--the astronaut’s right leg swings down to block her shot—Leela manages to sink the putt by way of dismembering the cut-out.

Leela is slightly shocked by her success, but also proud of it in an almost childlike way. She turns to Lars, and the warmth she feels for him seems a bit disproportionate to the situation. Still, she finds herself leaning into him, closing her eye.

Suddenly, a laser shoots between her head and Lars’s, the equivalent of an overprotective father flicking the porch light on and off at the end of his daughter’s date. Reflexively, Leela pulls back, gasps. She turns to see that damn astronaut firing a gun at her and Lars. And, once again, she is reminded that everything in the future is either organic or robotic, that everything winds up with a mind of its own.

Dodging the beams with a degree of grace, Lars grabs Leela’s hand. “You want to maybe go someplace quieter?” he says, grinning.

A half-hour later, she and Lars are sitting in his car, overlooking the Cylon War Memorial. The drive here was relatively subdued; Leela couldn’t help being a bit saddened about once again missing out on an opportunity to kiss Lars (of course, she has no idea how kissing works, logistically-speaking, when both parties involved are wearing space helmets; still, she reserves the right to feel gypped). Of course, knowing that Lars planned on taking her to what her high school classmates used to call Makeout Point, her annoyance was half-hearted at best.

Leela used to spend hours sitting in her room at the orphanarium, wishing a guy would take her to this very spot. Of course, like most of her childhood dreams, this never really panned out. Now, glancing over at Lars, she realizes she’s been well-rewarded for her wait.

Lars meets her eye, and reaches for her, smiling. Just as Leela allows herself to think that this time things will work out, the ground begins shaking beneath them. The cliff’s overhang breaks, and car begins a steady plummet towards the ground. Clinging to Lars, Leela prepares herself for imminent death (a foregone conclusion that she’s well-versed in dealing with, seeing as how 90 percent of the deliveries she’s made while at Planet Express have nearly resulted in her untimely demise). She takes little comfort in Lars’s embrace; she feels him trembling, even as he turns the key in the ignition, enabling the hover-car to actually, well, hover.

Once their free-fall has been suspended, Leela and Lars sigh in unison. Relief at not being killed is also a common emotion on Leela’s behalf, and she’s surprised to find that Lars has mastered it, as well. She can feel his heart racing through his chest, and she imagines that her heart is beating in-synch with his.

A sense of serenity comes over her, but it is squelched about one millisecond later, when the remainder of the unstable cliff comes crashing down on the car.


“The Acme Ironic Death Preventer,” Lars explains, breathless, “was the best thousand dollars I ever spent.”

Leela and he are standing before the boulder that crushed Lars’s car. Everything happened so quickly, and Leela’s not quite sure of the specifics, but she’s choosing not to dwell on how, exactly, she and Lars managed to escape death.

The car itself remains beneath the piece of cliff, and Leela wonders how she and Lars are going to get back home. Her brain is pulsing, adrenaline and fear combining to give her a splitting headache. Though she probably couldn’t, say, lift a 2,000-pound boulder, retrieve a battered vehicle, and drag said battered vehicle several hundred miles into New New York City limits even on a good day, she sure as hell isn’t in any condition for manual labor at the moment.

Lars has his hand draped over her shoulders, and he must sense the tension in her body, because he pulls her a bit closer and asks, “Are you okay, Leela?”

She nods. “Just a little, uh, shaken.”

He squeezes her shoulder. “I’ve got it under control,” he says. Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out a cell phone. “I’ll call Septuple-A. Do you want to sit down?”

Leela sinks down against a tree trunk, planting herself firmly in the dirt. She doesn’t want to get too comfortable here.

Lars paces around the perimeter of the boulder, presumably trying to find a signal. After a minute, Leela hears his voice. “Hello, my name is Lars Fillmore,” he says. “I’m at the Cylon War Memorial, and I’m having some car trouble, and—what? Yes, I’m aware that ‘severe steaming of windows’ doesn’t constitute car trouble. I promise you that this is the real deal….Two hours? Okay, sounds great. Thank you.”

Leela closes her eye, exhales. Normally, she’s able to keep her cool in situations like this. She’s dealt with psychotic, jilted space ships cutting out her oxygen and gravity; she’s dealt with Robot Mafia hijackings; she’s dealt with vaporous Star Trek fans attempting to blow her up. Brushes with death shouldn’t faze her like this, and yet she’s finding it surprisingly difficult to even her breathing, return her heartbeat to its normal pace.

And she realizes, suddenly, that as she felt the weight of that cliff closing in on her, she wasn’t afraid for her own life: she was afraid for Lars’s life. She’s known the man for less than two weeks, and already she can’t stand the thought of losing him.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why she’s so scared right now.

Her eye still shut, she feels Lars sit down beside her. He runs his hand down the length of her arm, and entwines his fingers with hers in the dirt. “Leela?”

“Hmm?” Despite her prior conviction against it, she’s now allowing herself to become a bit too comfortable for the circumstances.

“Are you awake?”

“No,” she says. “I mean, yes.”

He laughs, quietly—more an exhalation than a full-out chuckle. “Sleep,” he says. “I’ll wake you up when this is all sorted out.”

“I don’t want you to be lonely,” she slurs, already surrendering to her own tiredness.

“Come here,” Lars says, his voice soft, and he pulls Leela closer. She leans her head on his shoulder. Pressing her nose against his neck, she breathes in and lets herself drift into sleep. The last thing she hears Lars say before she’s gone completely is, “If this is loneliness, I’d like to spend the next thousand years this way.”

Leela is awakened by a disturbingly familiar voice. “Yous sures ya don’t needs to be towed?”

“You said the engine’s fine, right?” Lars’s voice. “It’s just the body that needs work?”

“Wells, yeahs—buts, I means, if yous’ll allows mes to be blunts?”


Leela opens her eye, slightly. Lars is standing with his back to her; next to him is a fat guy in a sweaty tank-top, a guy Leela remembers seeing at a truck stop once. The car sits before the two men, in a heap that—though hardly presentable—still appears to be functional.

“This cars looks like craps,” says the mechanic. “It mights looks more dignifieds on the backs of a tows-truck. Folks don’ts expects beautys from somethin’s hangin’s offs the backs of Sal’s trucks—no sirs.”

“I can handle undignified,” Lars says. “Besides, I planned on taking a detour before heading back into the city, anyway.”

“What sorts of detours?”

“Um…kind of a romantic one.”

“Ohs, I sees. You don’t wants no mechanics hangin’s ‘rounds when yous puts the moves on the cyclops over theres.”

“Hey,” Lars says, an edge apparent in his tone. “Her name is Leela. And she’s not just some cyclops I want to put the moves on, okay? She’s an incredible woman who I’ve been waiting for, for…ever.” Hearing this, Leela can’t help but lean forward; her interest is officially piqued. Some stray leaves rustle beneath her. “I mean, I lo—“ At the noise, Lars looks over his shoulder, to where Leela sits beneath the tree; she quickly closes her eye, feigning sleep. “—Care about her,” he says. “A lot. So I’d appreciate it if you didn’t insult her like that, okay?”

“Whatevers,” says Sal. “Yous can just pays me, thens.”

Leela keeps her eye closed for the next five minutes; finally, she hears Sal drive away. She can make out Lars’s footsteps as he approaches her. “Leela?” he whispers. “Are you awake?”

“No,” she says, affecting grogginess. She opens her eye and smirks. “I mean, yes.”

Lars smiles and helps her to her feet. As her eye adjusts, she realizes that the sun is already up. Apparently, the two-hour wait for the mechanic wound up being much longer. Leela figures he was delayed by a tobacco-spitting contest or a jug-blowing symphony or something.

“How long was I asleep?” she asks Lars as he leads her to the car.

“Well,” he says, “you didn’t get the doctor-recommended eight hours or anything.” He opens the car door—what’s left of it, anyway—and waits for Leela to sit before closing it and heading for the driver’s side. “But you came kind of close.”

“So three hours?” she says, picking at the stuffing that is leaking from the seat, and trying to avoid being impaled on a spring rising dangerously close to her leg. “Four?”

“Trust me,” Lars says. “I’ve taken much longer naps.”

When he starts the engine up, the car sputters to life like the Professor clearing his throat—shaky, bubbly, disturbing. Lars drives tentatively at first, as if he fears the car will spontaneously disassemble, like a dream you wake up in the middle of. He doesn’t talk much; he seems to be focusing his attention solely on arriving at their next destination without incident.

After about twenty minutes on the road, Leela says, “So I heard something about a romantic detour?”

“Huh,” Lars says. “Must’ve been a dream. I only remember mentioning platonic detours.”

Leela tries to contain a smile. “Is that so?”

“Maybe,” he says. “If I was planning a romantic detour, though, I might want to mention to you that we probably won’t be getting back into New New York until this evening.”

Leela peeks at the clock on the dashboard. It’s almost noon—on a normal day, she would have arrived at Planet Express three hours ago. She knows this should panic her, that she should feel guilty about missing work. But, though she was never overly loyal to her previous boss, she feels even less of an obligation towards Nudar.

“I should probably call Planet Express,” she says, off-handedly.

“There’s a fuel station at the next exit,” Lars says. “I need some dark matter, and you can use their phone. I’d let you use mine, but I killed the battery playing Tetris while I was waiting for the mechanic.”

Five minutes later, Lars pulls into Donnie’s Dark-o Matter, and while he’s filling the tank, Leela wanders over to a bank of videophones lining the side of the building. She fishes in her pocket for some change, plunks a few quarters into the machine, and dials Planet Express.

The phone rings four times before the screen flashes to a stock photo of the Planet Express ship. A voice says, “You have reached the former Planet Express Delivery Company. Sorry, but no one is interested in answering your call at this time. You are not free to leave a message. If you are calling in reference to a package that has failed to be delivered or money that has suddenly fallen out of your possession, we direct you to the following image.”

A picture of Nudar—eyes downcast, smile menacing—appears on-screen. Below him is a caption: ALL YOUR ASSETS ARE BELONG TO US.

Leela rolls her eye. “Oh, Lord,” she mutters, preparing to hang up.

Just then, the screen cuts to static and Leela hears a familiar voice. “Wait,” it says. “I’ve got it.”

The static cuts out and Fry’s face pops up. He is standing in the lounge, fiddling with something off-screen. He’s not looking at Leela, and it occurs to her that he doesn’t yet know it’s her on the other end of the line. For a moment, she considers hanging up before he comes to this realization, though she’d be hard-pressed to explain why, exactly, this is her first impulse.

As if she’s trying to prove a point to her own subconscious, Leela clears her throat and says, “Uh, Fry? It’s me.”

His hand stills. Turning to face Leela, she notices how wide his eyes are. “Leela,” he says. “Where are you? I was so worried when you didn’t show up for work this morning.” He squints. “Are you sick? I mean, you don’t look sick, but maybe the connection’s just bad or something.”

“I’m not sick, Fry.”

“Are you sure?”

Leela nods, suppressing a smile. Fry’s ignorance is somehow more tolerable—endearing, even—from hundreds of miles away.

“’Cause if you are sick,” Fry says, “I could come over. I have experience tending to sick people. I used to be in charge of helping with my mom’s hangovers the morning after all major sporting events. The Mets’ ’93 season almost killed her.”

“Fry,” Leela says. “I’m not sick. I’m at a gas station. With, um, Lars.”

“You’re still with Lars?” Fry crosses his arms, glares. “Wow, a gas station. That’s where he takes girls on mature dates? I swear, Leela, if I went on a date with you, it’d be about a thousand times classier. I mean, what’s this guy’s idea of romance, anyway? I’ll tell you one thing—I bet he’s never made anything worthwhile out of macaroni.”

After about six years of Fry’s daily date requests—and subsequent daily disappointments—Leela’s learned that it’s best to let him rant. However, she only has so much patience, and so when Fry stops to take a breath, she cuts in. “Look, Fry, Lars’s car broke down. We had to wait for a mechanic; it took a few hours. That’s why I’m still with him.”

“That’s the only reason?” Fry asks, his eyes lighting a little. “Because his car broke down?”

Leela sighs. “Sure.”

“So where are you guys, exactly?”

“A few miles from the, uh, Cylon War Memorial,” Leela says; she pretends not to notice Fry wince at the name. “I’m calling because I’m not going to be coming into work today. We’re not far from New New York, but Lars wants to take a…detour. Before we get back into the city.”

Fry frowns. “What kind of detour?”

Leela hesitates just slightly, before saying, “A romantic one.”

“Oh.” Fry’s face doesn’t fall, exactly, but it seems to be dangling by a thread.

“So, um, anyway,” Leela says, biting her lip, “I’ll be back kind of late. But I’ll definitely be at work tomorrow. Could you just let Nudar know?”

Fry nods, slowly. Then he says, “A romantic detour?”—almost to himself. He looks down for a moment, puts a finger to his pursed lips. This could pass for deliberation, Leela thinks, although she doubts Fry is capable of such a thing.

“Fry?” she says. “You’ll tell Nudar?”

“Yeah,” he says, distractedly. “I’ll tell him.”

Leela cocks her head, as if this will help her better understand what’s come over Fry. Finally, she decides it’s not worth pursuing—a pensive Fry is something you rarely see, but she figures the cosmic order of things will sort itself out. Soon enough he’ll be back to watching TV, alternately destroying his intestines with Slurm and his liver with beer.

“Well then.” Leela clears her throat. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, Fry.”

He snaps out of his reverie—or whatever this current trance is—long enough to offer her a smile. Warm, soft, simple. That, at least, is something she recognizes.

Future Shock

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #13 on: 08-03-2009 16:07 »

Ha ha, Ironic Death Preventer. Good one, Gorks.

Space Pope
« Reply #14 on: 08-03-2009 21:21 »

This next update relies pretty heavily on the movie, but it's more or less original, so I hope you can get on-board with it, too.

Yes, and as usual it's quite well-written, too. I suppose I'm more-or-less used to the present-tense style, and I enjoy passages like this -

The mini-golf course is built in an asteroid belt located in what is known, colloquially, as the Cheap Date Quadrant. The course is neighbored by a virtual reality plaza that simulates walks on the beach, a community theater whose productions are of questionable quality, and an Olive Garden.

Quips like "Donnie's Dark-o Matter" and "ALL YOUR ASSETS ARE BELONG TO US" are good [and well-placed] too.  Also, irony is nice.  All in all, I like how you are inserting humor and how your Fry, particularly, seems very much in character.  Probably moreso than in the movie.

Space Pope
« Reply #15 on: 08-09-2009 19:43 »
« Last Edit on: 08-09-2009 19:51 »

Big ol' thank yous to both FS and km for readin'. You are brave souls, indeed.


The sun is just beginning to set as Lars parks alongside a sign that reads HOT SOAP BUBBLE RIDES. All Leela sees is a run-down fence, behind which sits a trailer and a pick-up truck. It occurs to her that this must be a home business, a tourist trap designed to make easy money for some backwoods bumpkin. Of course, Leela has no idea if where they are right now actually constitutes the backwoods; she has lost track of what particular road they are on. It’s funny, because piloting the ship has conditioned her to driving without a frame of reference, without the abstraction of road signs—but when she finds herself coasting along a real highway, with mile-markers and exit signs, she easily forgets where, exactly, she’s supposed to be.

“This looks like someone’s front yard,” she says to Lars, as he opens her door for her. This is a statement she would usually make with a hint of disgust, but she manages to keep her tone neutral. This isn’t exactly her idea of romantic, but she refuses to admit that Fry, in his bitter rambling, was somehow right.

Lars laughs. “Yeah, it’s not so great, location-wise. But I promise you’ll love it.”

He leads her to the other side of the fence, where a lizard in a denim jumper is slumped against a pyramid of green barrels. He has orange hair, and Leela observes, amused, that every species has to have a Fry. When the reptile sees them, he hops to his feet and gives them a lazy and insidious smile, the smile of a salesman. “What can I do for you folks?” he says, and Leela is almost surprised by the fact that he speaks in a drawl. She expects all reptilian beings to hiss their syllables like perturbed, deflating balloons.

Lars pulls out his wallet and says, “We’d like a ride, please.”

“No problem,” says the lizard. He takes the cap off his head and holds it out, a beggar looking for loose change. “That’ll be eight dollars.”

Lars puts the money in the hat. The lizard directs them to a wooden bench near the opening of the fence. Lars takes Leela’s hand, and they step onto the bench together. The lizard produces a plastic wand from a back pocket, then dips it in one of the open barrels. He puts the wand to his mouth, blowing a huge bubble around them. As it passes over her, Leela has the same sensation she used to have as a kid, running under the arc created by a sprinkler; she feels shrouded in something insubstantial, protected by something transparent.

They ascend slowly, the world below them getting incrementally smaller. She feels Lars’s grip on her hand growing tighter, and this gives her the courage to look up instead of down, to see what she’s gaining as opposed to what she’s leaving.

“God,” she says. “Look at that sunset. It’s so…I don’t know. Beautiful. I don’t see them all that often, you know? I’m always at work too late; I leave to go home and it’s already dark outside. I don’t get to see anything actually…”

“Mature?” Lars says.

“Yeah, sort of.” She sighs. “I miss the…progression, I guess.”

He nods. “But you know,” he says, slowly, “just because you don’t see something change, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed. And it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the finished product.”

Leela turns to look at him. His eyes are fixed at some point in the distance, but when Leela follows his gaze, she doesn’t see anything but the orange sky, rolling hills, the tops of trees. She moves in a bit closer to Lars, lowers her voice to whisper. “This really is beautiful.”

They’ve reached a crest; they are coasting steadily in a straight line over the landscape. Leela feels weightless, a sensation she doesn’t attribute entirely to the fact that she’s floating in a bubble. She turns to Lars, only to find that he has the same idea. She closes her eye, but opens it a moment later when she realizes that she and Lars are getting farther apart.

She hasn’t kissed a guy in what seems like forever, but she’s still pretty sure this is the opposite of how things are supposed to work.

She is drifting in a separate bubble now. She places a hand on either side of it, squinting as Lars floats away from her. He seems concerned for just a moment; then, he pulls a bottle out from his pocket. Leela realizes he’s brought along his own soap, which he now uses to reconnect the bubbles. She races back over to him, laughing a little.

Finally, she wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him. And it’s funny, but the feeling that consumes her in this moment seems like it’s been progressing for a lot longer than two weeks. It is the moonlight proceeding a sunset that she never got to see. But she intends to follow Lars’s advice; she intends to revel in the beauty, instead of dwelling on where it came from.


In Leela’s experience, great nights are usually followed by lousy mornings. Maybe it’s a matter of relativity—because she doesn’t think there’s much that could compete with her marathon date with Lars—or maybe it’s a matter of cosmic comeuppance. Maybe she’s only allowed to be happy in small doses.

She decides to get to work early; ideally, she’d like to be settled at the conference table with piles of paperwork surrounding her before Nudar and his ilk show up. She’s so expendable to the new management that she doubts they actually noticed her absence, but on the off-chance that they’re irritated by her deplorable work-ethic, she figures this show of dedication to promptness will afford her a bit of respect.

As she approaches the front door of Planet Express, she notices Fry sitting slumped against the front door, eyes closed. He’s not snoring, which is how he usually announces his boredom at company meetings, so Leela assumes he’s just resting, and not firmly entrenched in sleep. She walks over to where he’s planted on the sidewalk, and she prods him with the toe of her boot. “Fry,” she says.

He sighs. Eyes still closed, he says, “Hey, Leela.”

She can’t tell if he’s irritated or just drowsy, so she decides to tread carefully. “Um, can I axe you something?”

Fry lets one eye open, slightly, and he peers at her with trepidation. “What?” he says, his voice small.

Leela smiles at him and does her best imitation of humility. ”Can I sit down?”

And now he opens both eyes, nods. He moves over a little to make room for Leela, then tucks his knees up as she tries to settle comfortably on the concrete. Eventually, she winds up emulating Fry’s pose. “So,” she says. “What are you doing out here so early?”

“I was out kind of late last night,” he says, “and when I got home, Bender had an extension cord sitting in a pile in front of our door. Which means he’s in the apartment with a fembot.”

Leela briefly considers the symbolism behind a coiled extension cord, then shudders. “Ew,” she says.

“I know. And I wasn’t really in the mood to see other people—or, uh, machines—falling in love, especially not after the way I spent my evening. And so I just walked around the city for a while, and eventually I crashed in front of Planet Express.”

She looks at him out of the corner of her eye. “So how did you spend your evening, then? What made it so horrible?”

Fry suddenly straightens up against the brick of the building; his voice comes out shakily. “Uh, well, you know, I just went for, um, a bus ride.”

If she was having this conversation with anyone else, she’d question the very impulse to ride a bus for fun. But this is Fry, whose weird behavior is easily attributable to either his IQ or his past in the Stupid Ages. Accepting this, she asks, “Where to?”

“Um…” He rubs the back of his neck, looks down at the pavement. “You know, just around.”

“Around the city?”

“Among other places, sure.”

“What other places?” she asks, becoming a little suspicious. She knows Fry is essentially harmless, but right now he’s treating her questions as accusations; he’s stuttering like a suspect who’s forgotten his alibi.

He runs a hand over that ridiculous fork in his hair, so that his eyes are covered. He groans. “Promise you won’t kick my ass?”

Of course, that practically ensures that whatever Fry is about to say will be worthy of an ass-kicking. But Leela nods tightly, tucking her feet beneath her, just to be safe.

“Well, I kind of wound up at a florist. Because, um, flowers are nice, right? And then—and this was a total coincidence, I swear—I came across this, um, place. This Hot Soap Bubble Ride place.”

Leela shoots up to her feet in a nanosecond. “What?” she asks, fuming. “What the hell were you doing there?”

Fry slinks down, collapses into himself. “Um, enjoying a hot soap bubble ride?”

Leela sighs and begins pacing in front of Fry. “You idiot. What would possess you to follow me on my date with Lars?”

He mutters something that sounds like “Love,” which makes Leela want to slam her head against the building.

“Damn it, Fry, I was on a date. A date. That’s a private occasion, and one that I would prefer you not spy on. I can’t believe you would do something so stupid. And I truly mean that this time. You’ve actually impressed me with your ignorance.”   

“Look, I understand why you’re upset. But I just thought…I thought…”

“Clearly this was a doozy,” Leela says, crossing her arms.

“I thought you…wanted me there. I don’t know. It sounds stupid. But when you called from that—that gas station…I thought maybe it was because you were having a cruddy time with Lars. I guess I thought it was a hint or something.”

Leela exhales, and meets Fry’s eyes for the first time in several minutes. “A hint?”

“I thought you wanted my help but didn’t know how to ask.”

And it occurs to Leela that she’s always going to have these conversations with Fry, and they’ll never get easier. She can be as blatant or as subtle as she wants, as kind or as rude, but she’ll always wind up hurting him. It’s unavoidable, and for a moment she recognizes that the only way to really stop the cycle is to give in to his advances. But that’s not an option, especially not after last night, and so she sits back down next to Fry and readies herself to break his heart for the thousandth time. It’s like riding a bike to her, a skill she’s mastered; but, always, it feels like she’s riding without a helmet. Always, she has to be careful with the words she chooses.

“Fry,” she says, her voice soft, “I didn’t call you because I needed rescuing. I didn’t even call you specifically. I mean, if Bender had answered the phone, I would have told him the same thing I told you: Lars and I got held up, so I wouldn’t be coming in to work. It wasn’t code for anything.” She sighs. These next words, she knows they’ll hurt. But she needs this finality, needs to let Fry know where she stands, emotionally. “The truth is, my date was pretty…incredible. I know you don’t want to hear that, but I need you to understand. I’m serious about Lars; I really care for him. So you and me…we’re just friends, okay? That’s all we’ll ever be. And I’m sorry if that hurts you to hear, but it hurts me to see you so…hung-up on me.”

She puts a hand on his shoulder, smiles wryly. “Actually, it flatters me. But I’d be much happier if you could find someone who…reciprocates. You deserve to be as happy with another person as I am with Lars. I really want you to be happy.”

“I’d be happy with you,” he says, hoarse.

Leela bites her lip. “Aren’t you happy with our friendship?”

“Of course, but—“

“Then you’ll have to settle with that. I don’t want to lose you as a friend, Fry, but you have to stop putting me in this position.”

He meets her eyes. “Okay,” he says, barely a whisper.

They sit in silence for a moment. Leela looks up to see that the sun is rising over the buildings. “We really should get to work,” she says, standing. “I’ve got a lot to catch up on.”

As she goes to open the door, Fry says, “I’m sorry I wrecked your date.”

“You didn’t wreck anything, Fry. It’s fine.”

“Well, if it’s any consolation, my bubble popped and I wound up landing in a tree. I got a branch somewhere a branch should never, ever go.”

Leela can’t help but laugh. “I’m sorry.”

“Normally, I’d ask you to survey the damage, but after that speech you just gave, I guess it wouldn’t be too appropriate?”

“No,” she says. “Not exactly.”

“Didn’t think so.” Fry moves to get up, but Leela notices his hesitation, the way he winces a little.

“Here,” she says, grabbing his hand. “I’ll help you.”

He gets to his feet with what appears to be only a modicum of difficulty. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” Standing there, Fry’s hand in hers, a thought occurs to her. “Hey,” she says, “how did you know where Lars and I were, anyway?”

“You told me you were taking a romantic detour.”

“Yeah, but that’s not exactly a concrete location. How did you know we were at that bubble ride place?”

Fry shrugs. “It is romantic,” he says. “I mean, I would’ve taken you to the exact same spot.”


Jeez, this is pretty maudlin. And, y'know, boring. Thank god it's at least fairly short. Condensed melodrama.

Space Pope
« Reply #16 on: 08-13-2009 06:19 »

Hmmm...it's so quiet out here in fanfic land. Optimistically, I take the lack of response to mean that people are reading, but are either too polite to tell me how horrible they think this is, or too honest to flatter me with undeserved praise. Or maybe no one's reading.

No matter. I still come bearing a painfully/painlessly short update.


Although she supposes Planet Express’s true competition lies with Fed-Ex and Pack Mules ‘R’ Us, Leela thinks her company is best compared to a zoo. They have reached a state of controlled chaos here; crazy things happen, but there’s never any real threat to anyone’s safety. Like animals in cages, her co-workers bounce around and bicker and occasionally fling bodily products at passersby—but no one ever really gets hurt. It’s all in good fun, all for spectacle.

Which is why Leela doesn’t bother to look up when she hears a loud clunk coming from the hangar—she’s used to a little daily commotion. She is sitting at the table in the conference room, reading over some forms while Hermes attempts to peer at them over her shoulder. She has resorted to shielding the paper with her arm, the way she used to guard her test answers from prying eyes in elementary school.

“Hermes.” She sighs. “Can you please just let me read in peace?”

“You’ll be restin’ in peace if ya don’t move your arm. I’m jonesin’ so badly for some well-written, mind-numbing copy dat I got de shakes.”

She rolls her eye. “You’re such a backseat bureaucrat. I can’t even—“ Just then, she hears a gunshot, something smashing. Live ammunition: that’s definitely new.

“What was dat?” Hermes says, just as another shot is fired.

“I’m going to find out,” Leela says, getting up from the table. She shoves some forms in front of Hermes. “There, go nuts.”

After she’s stepped away from the table, she closes her eye and evens her breathing. For a moment, she eliminates all the background noise, and all she hears is her own heartbeat. This is how she focuses; this is how she keeps her cool. This is total clarity, a beautiful stasis, and it lasts for only a second; then, the reality of the situation pours back in, and Leela hears a barrage of lasers, a voice screaming something. Fry’s voice.

“Damn it,” she says, and then she’s off in the direction of the noise. She runs towards the lounge, and as she passes the couch, where Amy sits unperturbed, the door to the hallway slides shut on the tail of Nudar and his two henchmen. She follows them down the corridor, and through the sonic assault that’s currently pummeling her eardrums, she hears the clank of Bender’s foot-cups behind her. A moment later, he catches up to her and promptly shoves her against the wall.

“Sorry, Purple People Eater,” he says as he runs past, “but bounty hunting ain’t your territory.”

Once Leela is back on her feet, she follows the ruckus to the locker room, trying not to connect the frequency of the gunshots with the likelihood that Fry has been killed. But as she approaches the doorway, she realizes that Bender and the three aliens have stopped dead in their tracks. She hears Bender laugh, about ten feet away now. “You missed,” he says. “…Oh great master.”

She finally catches up with everyone, her breathing heavy—not from exhaustion, but from panic. A quick survey of the room tells her that Fry isn’t here. “What just happened?” she asks, recognizing the hysterical quality to her voice. “What did you do with Fry?”

When no one answers, she pushes past Bender, not at all gently, and stalks up to Nudar. “You heard me, pinky: What the hell did you just do to him?”

Nudar laughs, stroking his gun. “We didn’t do a thing,” he says. “Well, unless you count chasing the human through the building while shooting lasers at his vital organs a thing. I consider it more of an inconvenience, personally.”

She grabs one of the ridiculous gold chains hanging from Nudar’s neck, and pulls him much closer to her than she’s really comfortable with. “You bastard,” she says, her voice coming out choked. “Where. Is. Fry? Give me a straight answer or I’ll wring your neck with your own gaudy taste in jewelry.”

She notices a flash of fear in Nudar’s eyes, which pleases her immensely. “Feisty thing, aren’t you?” he says, pulling her hands away from the necklace. “Anywho, your friend is gone. He used the time code and took a one-way trip to yesteryear. I have no idea where or when he is, but I wish he would’ve had the courtesy to let us kill him before he just disappeared like that.”

Your friend is gone. Suddenly, Leela is finding it very hard to stand up; she takes a seat on one of the benches, and watches as Bender and the aliens leave the room.

For some reason, knowing that Fry is all alone at some random point in time—as opposed to being vaporized—does little to console her. No matter how you look at it, he’s been erased from her life. She doesn’t even get the finality of a funeral, the small comfort of a spot in the cemetery she can visit.

“Don’t be so upset, girl.” Leela looks over her shoulder to see Bubblegum Tate standing behind her, wearing nothing but a towel. For the first time since she burst into the locker room, she realizes that she is surrounded by a very naked basketball team hitting the showers after a theorem well-proven.

Leela exhales shakily. “He just…disappeared. I mean, I’m glad that he’s okay now, but…he’s gone. I can’t…I just feel like—“

Tate puts a hand on her shoulder. “Look, I know you and the F-Man had some unfinished emotional business. It’s like your game’s been called on account of rain—or, if we’re talkin’ ball here, it’d be more like a leak in the auditorium roof. Anyway, you feel bad ‘cause you’re pumped up for something that’s been canceled. And I know that feeling. That feeling is most uncool. But games are called all the time; you’ll get over it. I mean, in my case, there’s always the cheerleaders—if they don’t have any other plans for the night, I take ‘em out to dinner or something. Always makes me feel better.”

She frowns at him. “You’re saying I need a cheerleader?”

“It’s an analogy,” he says, “but sure. Anyone who might be able to root for you, make you feel better. Don’t tell me there’s no one there on the sidelines, just waiting to help.”


Space Pope
« Reply #17 on: 08-13-2009 08:52 »

Oh, I'm still here, Gorky.  In actual fact I saw this post of yours earlier today in my explorings; it gave me great pleasure, I agree with it, I highly approve of it..  Good calls.  Props.   Now, is the line "...but bounty hunting ain't your territory" a bit of a tribute to Rush Moon at all?   (Or is that actually from the movie..?  - argh - I haven't watched the movie in ages...)   Anycase, interesting that from Leela's perspective she of course doesn't know what happened to Fry.

I love Bubblegum Tate.      I commend you also for, "...hitting the showers after a theorem well-proven."
And, believe me, I don't flatter fics if I think they suck.        :P

« Reply #18 on: 01-14-2010 05:56 »

Yikes... I hope I'm not inconveniencing anybody by bumping this thread after a million days, but I only just found it again after completely and utterly forgetting I had any fanfiction to catch up on at PEEL. Since I just read the last two installments (sorry I went and disappeared... I'd forgotten I'd even de-lurked until I looked at my posting history, which then caused me to recall this thread), I figured I'd go ahead and review in the hopes that you'll eventually return to this thread and I'll not have bumped it in vain!

Nice narrative of Leela and Lars' date... it was a pleasure to read, even while knowing what was coming. Like km said, your quips are great and all well-placed; it really is reminiscent of a Futurama episode for me, since those little jokes are hidden in signs and the like all over episodes. And good call on the Acme Ironic Death Preventer!

Good job giving Fry a motivation/reason to go date-stalking, too (other than being nosy and in love :P). It's very like him, since when it comes to Leela, Fry has a tendency to act as heroic as possible.

Annnnddd, finally, I absolutely loved the scene you wrote between Fry and Leela outside Planet Express. It was very heartfelt and honest and I really felt for poor Fry in that moment. I think Leela can sometimes reject him very flippantly (for the sake of a joke, of course) in the series, but it's always nice to read these kinds of real moments when his feelings for her are actually taken seriously.

Fry shrugs. “It is romantic,” he says. “I mean, I would’ve taken you to the exact same spot.”

:) Love it.

Hope you decide to continue- sorry for the bump!

Space Pope
« Reply #19 on: 04-20-2010 04:14 »
« Last Edit on: 04-20-2010 04:16 »

*Big ol' bump*

Belated thanks to both km and Frynold for reading this story. (For what it's worth now, km, that bounty-hunting line was most definitely a nod to "Rush Moon." I've been wanting to reread what's been written of that story thus far; perhaps I'll do so in the near future.)

So here's a teensy, tiny, barely-there update. It's the literary equivalent of a mini-skirt, that's how unsubstantial it is.


Weekday afternoons, the Head Museum is usually empty, save for the occasional group of school kids on a field trip. Or at least this is what Lars tells Leela when she tracks him down in the Hall of Starving Artists. He is sitting on an upturned cardboard box, eating lunch out of a brown paper bag; when he catches Leela’s eye, he shifts to make room for her to sit next to him.

“So what brings you here?” he says, grinning. “Did you get separated from the rest of the class?”

“Um, yeah.” Leela sniffles. She hasn’t been crying, but both elements—tears and ample amounts of snot—have been threatening to pour out at a moment’s notice. Now, though, as she’s sitting leg-to-leg with Lars, the duo has backed off, like a rival army that knows it doesn’t stand a chance.

At Leela’s hoarseness, Lars seems to perk up. He turns toward her and places a hand on her knee. “Is everything okay?” he asks, obviously concerned.

She shakes her head. “No,” she says. “I feel weird coming to you about this, but I’m kind of—well, really—upset.”

“What happened?”

“It’s about Fry,” she says, purposely detached. She tries—tried—to avoid mentioning Lars to Fry, and she’d like to do the reverse now. Lars is her boyfriend, and though she hasn’t sensed even a hint of jealousy on his part, she’d like to downplay Fry’s importance in her life when speaking to him. Of course, showing up like this— clearly torn up about Fry’s disappearance—is probably counterproductive to that end.

“Oh?” Lars says, furrowing his brow. A moment later, his eyes widen. “Oh. God, that’s right. The day after the bubble ride…”

Leela tilts her head at him. “Wait, what?”

Lars coughs. “Uh, so, um, what’s wrong with Fry?”

“He was being chased by those skuzzy aliens—they were trying to kill him—and he used this, uh, time code that we happened to come across. He used it to go to the past.”

“I see,” Lars says, nodding. “That’s awful, Leela. I’m so sorry.”

Leela looks down at her lap, clasping her hands between her knees. “It’s just…I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him, you know? I’m not even sure I understand why he did it. I mean, I know that Fry answers to the ‘flight’ impulse more than he does to the ‘fight’ impulse, but why couldn’t he have held out for another minute? I was only a few feet behind Nudar and Bender; I was on my way to help him.”

“You were?” Lars says, sounding almost shocked. “You knew that, uh, Fry was being chased? And you were going to help him?”

“Of course. He’s my friend.”

“Right,” Lars says. “I’d expect no less.” He squeezes her knee. “I know you cared about him a lot.”

And she recognizes a sadness in his voice. She looks up to meet his eyes. “I care about you a lot, too,” she says. “That’s why I came here. I needed a…cheerleader.”

“Well, my pompoms are in storage.” Lars smiles. “But I am here for you, Leela. Whatever you need.”

“Thanks.” She puts a hand on top of his. “Right now, I’d kind of just like to sit here with you.”

He says nothing, just nods. Leela moves closer, to rest her head on his shoulder. She closes her eye. After a long moment, she says, “I wonder what it’s like.”

“What what’s like?” asks Lars, his voice soft.

“Disappearing like that. Like Fry did.” Behind her eyelid, all she sees is black—nothingness—and before she can squash the thought like a bug, she imagines that maybe the time code led Fry nowhere. She should be posing this question to Bender, who recites that time code like he once recited dialogue from All My Circuits, by rote, but sitting here with Lars, the question slips out before she can think better of once again mentioning Fry.

Lars says nothing. Leela hears his pulse quicken in his neck, his jugular drumming against her ear. Finally, he sighs; Leela feels his shoulder heave like the Planet Express ship during lift-off. “I think…I think it’s only scary for a second. Like when you’re flipping through channels on TV and you see a horror movie’s on—a really gruesome one—and you’re lucky enough to switch the channel before you see anything too horrible. It’s just a flash, you know?”

What Leela thinks, but does not say, is that the truly scary part must come after: once you reach your destination, and realize you’re entirely alone. “I feel so…guilty,” she says instead.

Lars puts a hand around her shoulder. He murmurs something that she can’t quite make out, just a few slurred syllables, probably meant to soothe her. But if she didn’t know better she’d think he was saying, “Me too.”


It'd be really nice if I could somehow finish this fic before the start of the new season--that is, before it becomes completely irrelevant--but I'm sure that won't happen.

Space Pope
« Reply #20 on: 04-20-2010 05:55 »

Oh, I thought you'd probably abandoned this!  You do continue to do a good job of conveying Lars' guilt and feelings and conflicting emotions and such.  I'll root for you to finish it before the start of the new season, too, then.  (Whether or not you think you can).

(For what it's worth now, km, that bounty-hunting line was most definitely a nod to "Rush Moon." I've been wanting to reread what's been written of that story thus far; perhaps I'll do so in the near future.)

Mm.. I sent you a PM.
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