Futurama

Fan Fiction

A Different View, part 2
By Graham Dawson

Chapter Two – $hopping – Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Credit

Night in New New York was bright and dark at the same time, or a darkness enhanced by the studding of garish advertising and signage that cluttered the streets at every level, enticing pedestrians with porn, booze, book-reading festivals – oddly popular these days – and religion of every stroke. Fry wandered past it all, trying to make sense of her newly re-arranged priorities. The lustre everything had held for the old Fry seemed to pale and wash away as she came close to her old haunts. The bars she hung out in had a different feel to them. Men, and a few women, looked at her in a different way as she entered and left. Once or twice she tried wiggling her hips our pouting a little to see what the reaction would be, but after the first few jeers and cat-calls it became boring, and more than a little disturbing in some cases. She didn’t bother advertising herself after that.

Not everything about her had changed. Book-reading still didn’t appeal, as much as she tried to force herself to consider it, and the bars, despite all the new problems, were still a good place to hang out and get drunk.

Fry found she missed some of the other entertainment, but in an abstract sort of way. A distant, nostalgic way, like you’d miss an old book or an worn out pair of pants. They held almost no attraction at all now.

She wandered the streets of the city until the night was deep and the crowds began to thin out. An address rested in her pocket, a large warehouse near the docks. With a bravado she didn’t quite feel, perhaps some sort of hormonal remnant filtering out of her body, Fry stepped across the street to the warehouse entrance.

A burly man in a rough coat leaned on the wall by the door, sharing a cigarette with a low class hookerbot. They straightened up as Fry approached. The man pulled at his coat and winked at her. “What do yous want in this part of town lady,” he said with a cheeky, and somewhat leery smile.

“I’m here for the bout,” Fry said, glancing at the hookerbot, who seemed to be holding her arms in a peculiar fashion. She took out the scrap of paper and held it up in front of the man’s nose. “Bender Rodriguez’s party.”

“Rodriguez you says? Good robot family, don’t knows whats they would be doing in heres.” The man scratched his nose and looked over the paper, pausing now and then to run his finger along the bigger words. He nodded at the hookerbot and stepped aside, pulling the warehouse door open a fraction. Darkness filled the void behind the door. “Enjoys your visit miss,” he said, waving Fry inside. The door closed, plunging Fry into a darkness so deep she could almost believe she was back in her coma again. But then another door cracked open, casting a bright yellow light in the gloom, and accompanied by a loud, continuous roar and the sound of revving engines.

Fry edged toward the light and the door, which opened on to a huge arena pit sunk into the floor of the warehouse. Tiers of seats lined the pit and crawled up the walls of the arena thirty high or more, and were filled to the top with people of all shapes and sizes, mostly robots, with humans and then a few of the more exotic aliens in amongst them. In the central pit a pair of battle-bots, modified to have a superficial resemblance to the female form, scrambled across a slick of oil almost three feet deep to grapple clumsily for the crowd.

Fry spotted Bender almost instantly, standing up about half way up the tiered seats, right on the centre-line of the pit itself, where presumably he could get the best view. She briefly wondered how he’d managed to score such good seats, then realised she probably didn’t want to know.

Fry pushed and jostled through the crowd, conscious of the body she was still getting used to in some ways. She got close to Bender and saw he was surrounded by hookerbots and hangers-on – somehow, he was making it big tonight. She didn’t know how, or why, but he was. This worried Fry for some reason. She always remembered him as being a bit of an ambitious loser. Perhaps he was just having a run of good luck.

“Fry!” Bender waved to her, gold rings glinting on his fingers. It was like him to be so ostentatious whenever he got the chance. Fry pushed her way past the last of the crowd and stumbled to a halt beside Bender. “You made it then?”

“No, you’re just imagining I’m here,” Fry said sarcastically. She suddenly felt very tired. Bender motioned for her to an upholstered seat to his right, before clunking down in his own seat. He took out a cigar.

“Mind if I smoke?”

“Go right ahead.” Fry frowned. “Wait, you’ve never asked before.”

“You’ve never been a woman before,” Bender replied. He leaned back and blew a few smoke-rings. “So what do we call you now? Just out of interest you understand, I mean, you’ll have to get new birth certificates and everything so it all has to be in order...”

Fry folded her arms and glared at him. “You are not going to get anywhere near my papers, Bender, I have a credit rating to think about. It was bad enough when you faked the Professor’s social security details to get that car.”

“Yeah, well-”

“Which you then proceeded to lose in the bay!”

“But... but it was fun!” Bender whined. He sagged, or did the best robot equivalent, and shook his head. “Fry, you’ve changed. And not just in the interesting physical way either. You’re... different.”

Fry realised how tense she had become and tried to let herself relax. Man. She was fast turning into a real bitch. “I’m sorry Bender, it’s... hard, adjusting to all of this. You’re right, it was fun.”

They sat back and watched the muddy pit for a while. The battle-bots clashed again, grunting with anachronistically feminine voices as gouts of oily mud shot into the air. Somewhere under the stands, outside the arena, Fry could hear powerful engines revving and robot voices shouting to each other over the noise. The silence between them lengthened as the battle was fought to something like a stalemate.

“Philippa,” she said eventually. Fry turned to look at Bender, who seemed to be unusually interested in his cigar. “I mean, it’s practically the same name anyway.”

“Easy enough to change I guess,” Bender said. He drew on the stub of his cigar and then tossed it into the ring, before pulling a new one from his chest compartment and lighting it in a single fluid motion. “Philippa J Fry. Kinda neat.”

“H’yeah...” Fry smiled at the name. It felt adventurous, but safe at the same time.

“You just decided that now huh? I suppose Leela didn’t have anything to do with it?”

“Nothing.” Newly minted Philippa Fry shook her head and stared at the pit. Leela. She was... “Bender-”

“Quiet, they’re starting the next round.” Bender sat back as the two fembattlebots advanced on each other again, now holding large overstuffed pillows. “Oh man this is the best bit. They hit each other with those giant pillows, and the feathers go everywhere!”

“That’s... great.”

“Come on Fry, even humans enjoy this bit. You used to love it!”

Fry peered at her feet and cast her mind back to him. He had enjoyed it. Now, she found it amusing, but distantly so. Weren’t women supposed to be the emotional ones? “I... can’t...”

“Fry, you have changed.” Bender stubbed out his cigar and swallowed it. He gave Fry a worried look. “You aren’t going to tell me it’s degrading to watch this are you? I’d hate that.”

“I wasn’t,” Fry said. She put her hand on Bender’s stumpy claw and smiled at him. “I just don’t know if I’ll enjoy it as much as I used to.”

Bender coughed up his cigar and lit up again with a loud sigh. “That’s so sad. Go for it baby, hit her again!” The crowd roared their approval as a torrent of feathers shot across the arena, burying one of the combatants in an implausibly fluffy pile. The feathers stuck fast to the slick coating of oil on both battlebots.

Fry giggled to herself at the sight of the robots, which were now trying to hold on to each other for support on the slippery ground. She turned to Bender again. “Oh, it’s not so bad surely? Having a female friend has to have some advantages?”

“The only advantages I can see would be if I could film you and Amy making out.” Bender turned his head very slowly toward Fry. “People pay a lot of money for that sort of thing.”

Fry gaped at Bender. The old Fry would have jumped at the chance – though Bender wouldn’t have wanted to film that. Now? “Absolutely not!” The force of her own reply shocked her; but it was nothing to what she said next. “I’m not a lesbian.”

Bender’s eyes rattled in their sockets. “The Fry I know would never have missed an opportunity to make out with a girl like Amy. You... you are Fry, aren’t you?”

Fry nodded mutely. Even when she’d felt a momentary crush on the doctor outside the hospital she’d figured it was just a thing – she’d had similar feelings for almost an entire hour in high-school once, thanks to raging hormones and the mistaken swapping of a Dr Pepper for a Coke – but this was something completely different. I’m not attracted to women at all! The change was more profound than she’d thought. She was a woman. Not a man in a woman’s body. Not a freak. A woman, and memories be damned.

Bender watched her impassively, smoke trailing from the seam of his mouth as he neglected to exhale. Fry couldn’t lock down her feelings again. Something welled up inside her, a strange sort of fearful dread of what she had become and what she had lost. “Oh god... I think... I think I’m going to cry...”

“What, now?” Bender stood up in a panic. He grabbed Fry by her collar and dragged her from the stalls. “I’m not letting a woman-friend of mine be seen crying in public. Think of the damage to my reputation!”

“What reputation?” Fry sniffed, rubbing her watery eyes as she almost flew over the seats, trailing behind Bender like a cometary tail. Bender turned and seemed to grimace at her.

“Cutting remarks too. This is worse than I thought.”

Fry sobbed without knowing why, though by the time they reached the arena doors she felt a little better. Perhaps some fresh air would help. Bender kicked the door aside and unceremoniously deposited Fry in the twilight of the reception area. He turned back to the arena.

“Wait, Bender.” Fry stood up and put a hand on Bender’s shoulder. He turned his head to look at Fry, eyes just a little sad. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine... Fry. Fine.” Bender turned and sighed. He looked Fry in the face. “But I think I’ve lost my best friend.”

Fry shivered at the look on Bender’s face. What little there was of it anyway. She screwed up her eyes. “You haven’t lost me Bender, I’m just a little further away.”

“Maybe.”

“Try me again in a few months.” Fry patted Bender’s shoulder. Then, without thinking, she leapt forward and wrapped a quick hug around Bender’s neck. The robot jerked back in surprise and yelled something incoherent, but then seemed to relent. He hesitantly patted Fry on the back a couple of times. Fry pushed back from the hug and swallowed, trying not to let a tear out. “You’ll be okay?”

“I... bah.” Bender waved an arm and pulled away from Fry. He pushed back through the door and paused on the threshold, where the light gleamed off his polished skin, surrounding him in a vague golden halo. Bender gave Fry one last look and then pulled the door behind him, casting Fry back into the darkness.

“That could have gone better,” Fry muttered to the shadows. She slouched from the room, gave the doorman and his hookerbot friend a casual wave as she left the build and made her way out into the night.


Leela heard the bell, but her bed was so warm and soft she didn’t want to bother answering. Then the bell rang again, and finally someone started pounding on the door, lurching her from a really nice advertisement where she... huh. Gone.

With a grimace Leela crawled across the bed and glared at the clock. “Three in the morning? Who in hell...” She pulled on a nightgown and stumbled through the half-lit apartment to the door, which rattled under another pounding. “I’m coming, I’m coming, hold your damn buggalo!”

Leela peered through the peeper. A woman stood outside, red hair trailing and wet from rain. “Fry?”

“Leela, you have to let me in, I didn’t know where else to go!” Fry wailed. She pressed her hands against the door and peering into the peeper from the other side.

“Fry what...” Leela unlocked the door and yanked it open. She ushered the distraught woman inside. “What happened to you. You’re soaked!”

“I know, it’s been raining since two,” Fry said. She sniffled and sat down; Leela shuddered at the thought of what all that water would do to her brand new couch. “I think I fell out with Bender, and I’ve been wandering around the streets since midnight because I don’t want to go home and find him mad at me...”

“Oh honey...” Leela sat down next to Fry and pulled her into a hug. Fry sniffled and nervously tugged at her hair. “You don’t need to worry about Bender. He’s probably forgotten about it already.”

“Really?”

“I’ve learned that things we might take really seriously are like water off a duck’s back for some men, especially a manbot like Bender.” Leela said, stroking Fry’s head. Water puttered and dripped on to the couch and her pants. Better get a towel... “Most men are like that really, they don’t seem to care, or their priorities are just different. Well you should know, you used to be one.”

Fry raised her eyebrows stared at Leela for a moment, then put her head in her hands. Leela let out a sigh; it probably wasn’t the best time to remind her about that, she realised, just a little too late. “I’m sorry Fry-”

“Philippa.” Fry looked up, and tears were in her eyes again. “I’m not Fry, not the way I was. Bender said it tonight, I have changed, and a lot more than I thought. Leela...”

She didn’t break down in tears, which Leela would have only found embarrassing, but the poor woman did curl up against Leela’s shoulder, keening into her nightgown and wiping her eyes occasionally. Leela patted Fry’s shoulder and rocked her back and forth a few times, but eventually she had to do something; her gown was getting soaked. “I’m sorry F... Philippa. I have to get a towel. In fact you should probably get out of these wet things.”

Fry tensed up. “I can’t do that!”

“What?”

“I... because we’re gonna have sex!” she wailed. Fry threw herself on to the couch and curled up into a tight ball, shivering, whilst Leela stood by and stared at her friend. She reached out to touch Fry’s shoulder but Fry shied away from the touch and wailed loudly. Leela shrugged and wandered off to find a towel.

When she returned Fry was still wrapped up in a sniffling huddle on the couch, completely ruining the upholstry. Leela grimaced. “Come on, you have to get dry or you’ll catch your death.”

“But we-”

“Damnit, Fry, stop that!” Leela threw the towel over the huddled woman and sat down. “What on earth gave you the idea that I’d even be interested in- oh no, no I didn’t mean it like that!” She sat back as Fry started bawling. After a minute or two she pulled a box of tissues out from behind the couch and started handing them over. By the third she was resting her chin on one hand, staring at the wall as she tried to blank out the wretched snivelling. She wondered if this was how men... no. That wasn’t really fair. Fry was not in the best frame of mind.

Eventually they were faced with a pile of tissues large enough to qualify for their own height marker. Fry stared dejectedly at the pile, her eyes puffy and red, sniffing occasionally. Leela rubbed her back a few times and peered into the empty box. “This is what I get for splashing out on triple quilt...” she dropped the empty box on the floor and turned to Fry. “Now what’s this rubbish about us having sex?”

Fry blinked her eyes and looked at Leela as if she’d only just noticed she were there. “Oh, that. Well... it’s kind of embarrassing.” Fry pinched her finger and twisted at the end as if it would open. “There’s a lot of films, uh, porn films, where a girl goes to see her friend, and somehow she gets wet, and then the friend gets her to change out of her clothes and then they...” she glanced over her shoulder at the bedroom. “I couldn’t do that. I’m not...”

“Well it’s not likely even if you could and were. Fry, this is me you’re talking about. If it was likely before, it...” she paused, running the sentence through her head, but there was no way to put it that wouldn’t result in using up another box of triple quilt. She sighed. “Look, you need to get out of those wet clothes and you probably need a shower to warm up. There’s some clean robes in the bathroom.” Leela stood up, taking Fry’s arm and guiding her up as well. She gently propelled her toward the bathroom. “I’ll make us some coffee and then we can talk.”

“About what?” Fry paused in pulling off her coat and looked at Leela.

“Everything. This is going to be a whole new experience for you.” Leela smiled and would have winked but for her single eye. She rubbed her chin and yawned. “I guess I won’t be getting any sleep now anyway, so we might as well make use of the time.”

Fry sort-of smiled and slipped into the bathroom. Leela waited until she could hear the sound of running water before she moved again. She yawned, stretched, and then glared at the water-stained couch for a moment. “I sure hope that thing won’t show up when it’s dry...” The towel she had brought in was a little damp but it brought out the worst of the water, reducing the stain from horrendous to merely intolerable. Leela grimaced.

Fry – Philippa – seemed to be a walking sack of neuroses and emotional baggage, and just a step away from a nervous breakdown which, given the circumstances, probably wasn’t too surprising. Leela threw the towel into the laundry basket and meandered toward the kitchen, trying not to let sleep trip her up.

Sex. What a stupid thing to think about. Maybe if “she” had been a “he”, but then she still was he, at least in memory... Leela frowned. She didn’t like the implications of that particular thought, so put it out of her mind as she began making the coffee. Still, it might be prudent to see if there was a way to turn Fry back.

Fry spent a long time in the shower, even singing at one point in a wobbly mezzo-soprano that never quite managed to be pitch-perfect. She eventually emerged looking much calmer – and warmer – wearing an old blue robe that was far too big for her. Leela felt a pang of jealousy as she realised that Fry had a slightly better figure than her, or at least a slimmer one. She dropped an extra lump of sugar into Fry’s coffee before placing it on the coffee table.

Fry slumped down on the now-dry couch and groaned in relief. “That is so much better,” she said, eyes closed and a big smile on her face. She pulled the robe a little tighter before grabbing the coffee Leela had left for her. “I’m sorry about what I said before, Leela. It was stupid.”

“It was fear talking. I know I’ve said it before but you’re still getting used to yourself. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a bunch of male memories in my head, but I bet it wouldn’t be pretty.”

“No. It isn’t.” Fry took a sip of her coffee and grimaced. “Did you put extra sugar in this?”

“Certainly not,” Leela said, looking away for a moment. She managed to keep her blush hidden, but it was probably a good idea to change the subject. “So what happened with Bender? You said you’d upset him.”

Fry sat back, wrapping her hands around the coffee. Slender hands, Leela noticed, with long fingers that she could only dream of having. She forced herself to look at Fry’s face.

“Bender. He said he’d lost his best friend. Do you think he meant me?”

“He could have meant his last bottle of booze for all you know, Philippa.” Leela paused to see Fry’s reaction. She smiled at hearing the name. Leela smiled too before going on. “He’s worried about losing a friend but you can prove he doesn’t have to worry about it. And he wouldn’t be that worried anyway. He’s a man. No, he’s a manbot. He’s also Bender.”

“But he seemed so vulnerable.”

“Fry... Philippa.” Leela shook her head and stared at her coffee while she ordered her thoughts. “One thing you’ll have to learn now is that a lot of men will seem vulnerable when they’re actually hiding emotions they don’t want to acknowledge. Bender... Bender is trying to come to terms with this as much as you are, and he’s doing it the only way he knows, by putting it out of his mind. If that means pretending he’s lost his friend for a bit then that’s how he’ll do it.

“You just have to let him work through it for a bit. Don’t try and hurry it up either. I made that mistake so many times with men and look where it got me.”

“Oh I don’t know, you seem to be doing all right,” Fry said, looking around the apartment, which had been spruced up quite a bit since the last time she’d been there. She fingered the robe. “You have a lot of clothes. All I have is a few shirts and a pair of pants that barely fit any more. You’ve got a reasonably nice home, friends, a good job...” she shrugged and drank more coffee. “And you have parents who are actually around to talk to. What do I have?”

Leela swallowed and looked into Fry’s eyes. She touched her hand. “You have me.”

Fry smiled, though it was a little sad. She put the coffee down and took Leela’s hand. “A few weeks ago I would have done anything to hear you say that.”

“I know. For what it’s worth, and for all it’s different, I’m saying it now.”

“Thanks Leela. That means a lot.” Fry retrieved her coffee and sat back in the couch with a contented smile. “I never imagined it could be like this. Talking, I mean, without having to try and convince you I was worth talking to.”

Leela raised her eyebrow. “Fry, you were always worth... well okay sometimes I had a little trouble relating to you, but you never hid your emotions from me. I appreciated that more than I let on. Not even Sean wore his heart on his sleeve like you do. Did. Um...”

“There, now you know how I feel all the time these days. It’s so confusing.” Fry glanced into her cup and put it down empty. She wrapped her arms around herself as if she was cold. “There are times when I almost feel like I’m in a dream and about to wake up, and everything will be back to normal, and there are times when I think that all the old me was just a dream, and that this is normal. Leela...” she closed her eyes and swallowed a few times. “I... I don’t know what to do.”

“Come here,” Leela said, shifting over to sit next to Fry. She put her arms around Fry’s shoulder and squeezed a little. “You shouldn’t think about things like that. Right now you just need to get some rest. Tomorrow we’ll go and talk to the Professor about this.”

“I already tried that, he said it would take years to work it out.” Fry sighed sadly. “Years? The way he talked about it, I’ll never be able to go back.”

That might not be such a bad thing. Leela banished the traitorous thought from her mind. “There’s always a way, Fry. You just need to use a woman’s touch.”


“Absolutely not, there’s no way I can do that. None!”

Leela balled her hands on the conference table and leaned toward Farnsworth with an ugly glare. “You have a responsibility to do the right thing, Professor. If you can’t do it then-”

“I’m telling you it’s impossible.” Farnsworth swatted at the box in front of him, knocking it over. Pills flew everywhere. “I don’t care what that quack says, I’m not putting those things up there! I refuse!”

“Your funeral,” Leela said, rolling her eye. She glanced to her side, where Doctor Zoidberg was clicking his claws together and quietly crooning in his native language. Her gaze returned to Farnsworth. “The alternative is having Zoidberg here give them to you intravenously.”

Farnsworth gulped hard. He began gathering up the pills, his hand firmly gripped around the box. “All right, but I warn you the results won’t be pretty.” He started pushing pills up his nose. Leela grimaced. It was only fortunate they weren’t suppositories; The Professor would probably have started with them there and then.

“Well now that’s out of the way, we can talk about Fry’s predicament.”

“Yes, yes, the poor dear...” Farnsworth smiled over at Fry, then sneezed. A pill ricocheted off the table and bounced off Zoidberg’s shell. He looked up and made a questioning noise but Leela quieted him with a raised hand.

“Professor, Fry says you told him it would take years to figure out what happened.”

“Oh yes. Centuries! I’d probably be dead long before I even worked out the basic theory. There’s no point in even starting now.”

“What if you don’t need to work out the details though?” Leela paused to watch Farnsworth’s reaction; nothing. His face was blank though, frankly, that wasn’t unusual. “Why not just work out enough to re-create the conditions of the accident.”

“What? That would be preposterous! It would mean adjusting the inverter coils on the matter transporter, re-aligning the grid matrix, not to mention cleaning the cheese off the planck delimiter arm...” Farnsworth seemed to go blank again, which was often the look he took on when he was thinking hard. “The possibility of intersecting the same universe is fairly small but that can be increased by allowing for our relative motion through the universe and adjusting the targeting bus... Leela!” Farnsworth stood up and gasped. More pills rattled from his nose. “You might actually have figured it out!”

“Really?

“H’yes, it’s just a matter of getting the same situation and then letting it reverse itself. It’s so simple only a dunderhead would think of it!”

Leela frowned. “Gee, thanks.”

“Oh you’re welcome,” Farnsworth said with an idiot smile. He resumed pushing pills up his nose.

Fry slowly sat up, her face a mixture of hope and fear. “How long will it take?”

“Oh, several months, possibly even a year, there’s so much to do. But it can be done! I shall begin at once!”

Fry and Leela high-fived and then hugged until Fry pulled back. “This means I have to spend the next year as a woman.”

“You’ll survive. Just stick with me,” Leela said, stroking her elbow. “And don’t get any silly ideas again.”

“On my honour as a woman,” Fry said, and then burst out laughing. She turned to the Professor with a wide grin. “So when are you starting?”

“Oh right now,” Farnsworth said. He grunted, and sweat beaded his brow. “Or I would if I could move my legs. I told you those pills would be trouble.”

Zoidberg stood up and put a claw to his chest. “Don’t worry, I have what we doctors call a contingency for this.” He walked across the room and grabbed an upright trolley from the wall, which he then slid across to Farnsworth. The professor grumbled as Zoidberg shoved the trolley under his feet.

“Ow! Watch it you imbecilic homaridae!”

“Just tell me which way is the lab and I should have you there in six to eight weeks,” Zoidberg said, wheeling the Professor from the room. Fry watched them leave, then turned back to Leela with a smile.

“Thanks Leela, I owe you one.”

“It’s nothing, Fry.” Leela paused and smiled. “Philippa.”

Fry’s smile faltered for a second. “I chose that name when I was sure I would be this way forever.”

“You want to stop using it?” Leela tugged at her own elbow nervously. “If I offended you I’m-”

“No no, it’s okay. It’s fine, I like it. I am a woman right now, I might as well be myself.” Fry took Leela’s hands in her own and smiled again. “Perhaps we should give everyone the news.”

“News travels in this place faster than we could spread it,” Leela replied, glancing over her shoulder. Almost on cue the door opened and Hermes emerged, carrying his customary briefcase, a grim expression on his face.

“What’s hanging Hermes,” Fry said with a smile. Hermes drew up short and stared at Fry in surprise.

“Great mother of all that’s green and snaky, you are a woman! I thought that cracked lobster creature was just rambling insane... This is wonderful news!”

“It... it is?” Fry asked, taken aback. She put her hands on her hips. “What’s going on?”

“Oh nothing, just the possibility of a huge tax relief for hiring a new female employee. They have a quota now you know.”

Leela gaped. “What, that’s ridiculous!” She and Fry stared at each other.

“Not at all. By the way, Fry, you’re fired. Also, you’re hired again. Welcome to the team!” Hermes flipped open his briefcase and held several pieces of paper. “Sign this please, and this resignation letter, and finally this waiver for benefit to you from any potential tax breaks related to your employment that Planet Express might gain.”

Fry examined the letter first, taking her time to read it carefully. “This thing says I’m leaving the company because of Irre...con...sile... that thing, differences. What differences?”

“You’re employed as a man but you don’t have man tings in your pants! That different enough?”

“Does it count if I’m still wearing boxer shorts?”

“Ooh.” Leela took Fry’s arm and moved her aside a little, ignoring Hermes’ protest. “Are those really as comfortable as everyone says they are?”

“Well, when you’re a guy they tend to ride up a bit and strangle-”

“Ladies, please!” Hermes rattled his fingers on the briefcase impatiently. Fry and Leela simultaneously let out a plaintive groan and then giggled at the coincidence. They turned to face Hermes; Fry sat down and looked over the papers again. “Everyting in order there?”

“Oh. I suppose it is. What the hell, I think I might even get paid a bit more.” She signed the contract and the letter, ignoring the waiver much to Hermes’ chagrin. He gave them both a pained smile as he neatly folded the waiver and slipped it into his pocket, then returned the other papers to the briefcase.

“Ladies.” He closed the briefcase and carried on his way back to his office. Leela stifled a laugh and sat down with Fry.

Fry glanced at the door as it closed behind Hermes. “That was-”

“A coincidence,” Leela finished. She screwed up her face for a moment as she thought, then: “I always had you down as more of a briefs guy.”

“Oh.” Fry looked around the room just in case someone was listening. “I was, mostly, but sometimes you just have to hang a little loose y’know? But then they crawl up and get all twisted at the back, and you just have to start adjusting them and then everyone’s looking at you... they don’t seem to be doing that now, though,” she added thoughtfully, and stood up. Fry tapped a finger against her mouth as they made their way to the lounge. “Crawling up I mean. Not that I think people are looking at me or anything,” she added quickly. “Still, I think I’m going to need some new clothes. These pants are far too long and until this morning I’d been wearing the same bra for nearly three days.”

“Clothes? Oh no, that’s definitely not my job. I’m moral support, emotional support, mental support... if it has support in it, that’s my job. But not clothes.”

“I’ll come to you if I need a girdle then,” Fry said.

“Hey!” Fry ran ahead of Leela’s swipe and stuck out her tongue. Leela glared. “I’ll have you know I... oh what’s the use. Lets go see Amy before we kill each other.”

As she and Leela passed through the door, Fry and Bender saw each other at almost the same moment. The robot turned, seemed to do a double take and leaped from his place on the couch. “Fry, you’re here!”

He ran forward and grabbed Fry by the shoulders, rocking her back and forth. “You’re here, I’m so glad! I thought I’d lost you!”

“I’m glad to see-”

“Never mind that, I have a guy I’m talking to who wants to buy ovaries. You have ovaries, right? Being a woman and all?” Fry’s jaw dropped; she tried to reply but only managed to gurgle. Bender seemed to notice something was wrong. “If it’s a problem for you, they’re offering thirty grand a pop.”

Leela interjected her arm between them. “No Bender.”

“But-”

“No!” Bender sagged again. He gave Fry a pleading look, and for a moment Fry felt herself wondering...

“Aww...” Bender turned and slumped back toward the couch, muttering just loud enough to be heard. “It’s not like you’re going to be using them any time soon anyway. Stupid female solidarity...”

Leela took Fry’s arm again and lead her toward the back of the room. “I hope you weren’t thinking about actually doing that,” she said quietly. Fry shook her head.

“No. Well. Thirty thousand dollars wouldn’t be so bad, would it? It’s only one ovary.

“Would you have sold your testicles when you were a man?” Leela pouted and thought about the question for a second. “Actually don’t answer, I’m not sure I could take it. Come on, Amy must be around here somewhere.”

They left Bender mumbling on the couch. He turned to watch them leave, a frown crushing his eyes in darkness.


Fry remembered Amy’s shopping sprees from when they were dating, and the almost casual way she would throw money at clothes and shoes and accoutrements that she almost never wore. It was a shame that the two of them weren’t the same size or the whole trip wouldn’t have been needed. They weren’t, though; she’d checked her measurements against what she remembered of Amy’s and, incidentally, wasn’t so jealous of her any more.

Leela was tagging along, of course. Moral support seemed to be a full-time job. Amy had seemed a little cold when they arrived, declaring rather haughtily that Fry looked scruffy and poor, which was technically true – she’d never said it before though, or, if she had, Fry had never noticed. She tried to put it out of her mind. Fortunately Amy was too shallow to hold any real malice toward people and by the time they reached fifth avenue the three of them were happily chatting away. She almost felt normal. Almost. The feeling might have been easier to maintain if her pants weren’t wide enough to fall down at the slightest provocation. The belt she had borrowed from Leela was only doing so much.

Fifth avenue. She remembered the street from old New York; it as very different. Wider, taller, like so much in this city, and cleaner. A lot cleaner. But, apart from that and the row of trees down the centre of the road that made it resemble a Parisian boulevard, it felt similar enough. Shops were the thing. Saks still had a huge department store there, though now it fought for dominance against Virgin/Ia Fashion and Food, Uptown Slob and the ‘Momcorp General Apparel and Home Boutique’. For some reason it made Fry feel a little proud to see Saks still standing after so long, even though she’d never once been in the place.

They stopped in the shade of a tree and looked up at the glowing signs.

“So,” Amy said after a moment. “Where do you want to go first?”

“Oh wherever you want, Amy. I’m kinda new at this.” Fry looked up and down the avenue. The retail behemoths stood astride rows of smaller shops that jostled for position along the avenue frontage, selling everything from cheap clothes to electronics to games. Fry felt a distant longing.

“Mom’s is out,” Amy said, dragging Fry back to earth. She reflexively looked up at the big Mom logo hovering before a grand gothic-iron tower. Didn’t seem very inviting anyway. “And Saks is where I go when I want to really splurge, so that’s out right now too... so that only really leaves Virgin Aya.”

“I thought it was ‘Ear’,” Leela said, staring at the sign. “Can’t they just pick a name you can pronounce?”

“Gleesh! That’s why I don’t come shopping with you any more, Leela. You’re always so farbeld picky about things!” Amy popped on a pair of shades and stalked toward Virgin/Ia in a huff. She grabbed Fry’s arm, dragging her along in her wake. “Keep up with me if you want, Leela, but don’t expect me to talk for at least five minutes!”

Fry shrugged at Leela as best she could and stumbled to keep up with Amy. She looked over her shoulder; Leela was following, but a little distance behind. Perhaps she knew something Fry didn’t. “What are we getting first?”

“Underwear,” Amy stated, maybe a little harshly. She paused at the doors and started counting off on her fingers. “Then we’ll get you some pants, a few blouses, maybe a nice coat, some hats, a few pairs of shoes, some dresses, you need dresses if you’re going out in the evening.”

“Sounds-”

“Skirts, sarongs, ghuptchas, dancing shoes, ball shoes, boots, riding trousers.”

“Look I really appr-”

“Nightdresses, shifts, pyjamas, you’ll need slippers too, and some swimwear-”

“Hold it, no way, I’m not spending all my money on clothes. I’m only going to be like this for a year at most and you’re talking about enough clothes to last me a lifetime! I’ll get some underwear and some pants that actually fit me... ok and maybe some shoes. And pyjamas.” Fry paused and shook her head. “But that’s it, nothing else.”

“Damnit, you’re as bad as Leela. Why can’t I have someone who’ll just go shopping with me?” She glared at Fry, then at Leela as she in turn arrived at the doors. “You people and your credit limits!”

Amy stormed through the door, grumbling in chinese as she disappeared into the depths of the store.

“So,” Leela said after a moment. “Now you know.”

“Yikes.”

Leela leaned on the door. “Don’t worry about it, five minutes in there and she’ll be right as rain again. We can catch her up once she’s hit the beachwear department.”

Fry nodded slowly. She’d never understood it before and it seemed that she didn’t quite understand it now. “So... you aren’t going to spend a fortune on clothes too, are you?”

Leela just laughed and opened the door. “Come on, Philippa, time to learn what a woman does in here.”


It turned out that mostly they argued, or at least Amy and Leela did. They were arguing by the time they reached the underwear and hosiery department, where Fry reckoned there were enough different species of women’s underthings to keep a taxonomist busy for years. Or she would if she’d known what taxonomist meant; instead she just stared at the rows of flimsy garments in near-terror at the extreme volume of choice, and then turned to Leela and Amy for help. After another long argument the two managed to settle on fitting her with some fairly run-of-the-mill garments that were actually quite comfortable – though, Fry reasoned, that was probably because they were designed for her body now. She didn’t tell her companions about the time she’d tried on her girlfriend’s bra in college, not least because the thought made her brain hurt now.

With that sorted they made their way to the clothes that didn’t embarrass her, though she did notice Leela make a quick detour into the menswear department. Leela returned looking faintly embarrassed herself, clutching a tightly wrapped packet. Fry could guess what was in it. Amy just looked mystified. Leela laughed nervously when she asked but didn’t tell.

Pants, shorts, shoes, a few accessories – she gave in and bought a plain looking swimsuit, reasoning she’d have to swim at some point – and then Fry was suddenly incredibly bored with it all, especially the constant shouting over which exact style they had to pick, what colour matched her skin and how skanky something made her look. She had what she wanted, but Amy seemed to want to keep going, moving from rack to rack like some sort of predator, while Leela seemed content to follow on behind offering sage criticism and derision. After a while Fry decided she’d had enough; she paused at the end of a row of leatherette dresses that probably had enough material between them to cover a single small woman and waited for Amy and Leela to move out of sight.

She quickly bolted for the elevators. Fortunately she had managed to keep all her purchases separate from the others and had them bagged up and paid for in no time, after which Fry skipped into a booth to change into some of it and was soon back out on the street, roaming up and down the boutiques and shops that seemed to go on without end.

Fry came to a stop outside a gaming store. Every kind of electronic entertainment was arrayed behind the great glass window. She pressed her face up to the glass and peered into the slightly dim interior, where shelf after shelf was filled with games of all sorts, and comic books, and just about everything else she’d ever dreamed about owning when she was a kid. Only better.

She trailed her hand along the window as she entered the shop and paused just beyond the threshold, adjusting to the atmosphere. Certain kinds of shop have certain kinds of smell and this one smelled right. She wandered down an aisle of shelved holding what looked like every comic book ever printed. A few of them seemed to be reprints of titles from the twentieth century; they held up well next to the more contemporary books. Fry fingered one of them for a moment and let memories slide around her mind...

A loud, nasal and somewhat arrogant voice broke her reverie. “Hey, can’t you read the sign?”

Fry turned to the counter near the back of the shop. A fat, balding Neptunian in a faded blue shirt stood behind the counter, staring at Fry with barely concealed contempt. He pointed at a prominent sign on the back wall.

“No flashbacks in the store,” Fry read slowly. “Oh. I’m sorry, it’s just been so long since I saw some of these things.”

“Oh really.” The proprietor folded two of his arms and leaned forward to examine. “And if I were to ask how long, I expect you would tell me a hundred years! I cannot believe such lies would be promulgated within hearing-range of my perfectly preserved merchandise.”

Fry wandered over to the counter, trailing her bags just off the floor. They were getting heavy. “Actually it’s just over a thousand,” she said, not quite leaning on the counter. The Neptunian seemed nonplussed but at the same time apparently pleased that she wasn’t grubbying up his glass. Even if it was incorruptiglass. “I was frozen in the twentieth century.”

“You’re a Cryonaut?”

“If that’s what they’re calling it now, I guess so.”

“This is... oh my, I hear about them, but I’ve never had one in my shop before. I cannot imagine... you were alive during the first golden age! Can I ask, did you ever meet Mr Stanley Comic?”

Fry frowned, trying to place the name. She looked down at the books again, spotting a copy of the single edition New Justice Team. She giggled at the way they’d drawn Leela and the muscle-bound idiot that was meant to be her. Or him. She couldn’t quite make the connection with that parody of male virtue. It was actually relieving... oh yes! “You mean Stan Lee? Guy who invented Spider Man?”

“Yes, Stanley Co... wait, are you saying that we have his name wrong? This cannot be!”

“Don’t sweat it, I get names wrong all the time. Even my own.” Which was true, she did now. Philip or Philippa? Perhaps she should have picked something else. “No I didn’t meet him, but I would have loved to if I’d had the chance. Probably. Comic-books were more of a hobby than an obsession. I was more into games.”

The Neptunian looked her up and down. “Such a shame, you seemed for a moment as if you had potential. Still, you may be able to help me with something. I have a few editions in my vault that need to be identified, but I cannot for the life of me place their provenance.”

“Well, sure.” Fry smiled at the Neptunian, who gestured toward the back of the store with one arm.


Fry shivered in the vault. “Right. I understand why you keep it cool in here, but do we have to be in our underwear?”

“It is necessary to prevent a static fire,” the Neptunian said matter-of-factly. He ran his fingers along shelved of neatly packed first editions and rare books. Fry watched him, hands wrapped around her shoulders against the chill air. “Also, I find it refreshing compared to that overheated steambath you call an atmosphere.”

“Just don’t get any ideas,” she said. The Neptunian turned to her with a haughty stare.

“Miss Fry, to have any ideas regarding you I would need to see at least an extra pair of arms. Though, I have to admit, your skin is turning a rather charming shade. Now...” He held up a pair of books in slim plastic envelopes. “What can you tell me about these? I do not recognise the style and the plotting seems incredibly overblown and illogical. For the record, they turned up in a dig in Alabama.”

Fry looked at the books. They were ancient, crudely printed on crinkled cheap pulp that was almost black at the edges, badly drawn, consisting of a dozen or so tiny strips originally printed for the palm-sized books that Fry remembered being shoved into her face more times than she could count. “Oh lord, will that man never leave me in peace?”

“You recognise them?”

“Oh yeah, I guess they made a compilation of the damn things after I left. My advice? Shoot them into the sun.”


Leela and Amy eventually found Fry slumped in a bench outside a grubby-looking comic-book store, sucking on an ice-cream and watching life pass by along Fifth avenue. She had several bags on top of the Virgin/Ia-branded carry-bags, and a couple of plain cardboard boxes. Fry waved to them as they approached and then returned to her ice-cream with relish. Amy gawped at the extra purchases.

“Fry, what’s this? You bought things without me?”

Fry shrugged and continued licking her ice-cream. “I saw a few things I wanted,” she said and turned to look at the shop. The Neptunian owner waved at her from the window; Fry waved back and winked. “Nice man.”

“Fry, please tell me you didn’t do anything stupid.” Leela sat down next to her friend and pulled the ice-cream away for a moment. “You were just shopping right?”

“Well, I did help him sort a few of his comic-books.” She glanced at the pile of goods next to her, which Amy had started to finger through. “Apart from that all I did was buy a lot of stuff from him. It’s weird, normally when I go out I’ll buy one or two things and then go home again. Now, I got a new games console, you see, so I had to have a few games to go with it. Then I figured I’d better get an extra set of game-pads and a wheel, because there’s a racing game in there, and then I thought I should get the little three-dee goggle attachment that went with it, and after that I sort of got a bit carried away. I hope Bender doesn’t mind getting a new home theatre system tomorrow...”

They stared at him. Leela rubbed her face and blinked. “My god,” she said eventually, staring at the pile of tat. “I hate to say it, Fry, Philippa even, but you’re more like Amy than you realise.”

“I hope that was a compliment,” Amy said. She pulled a box from one bag and peered at it. “Is this the new eOdel player? They aren’t out for another month! How did you get it?”

“In there,” Fry said, pointing over her shoulder with her thumb. “You go to all these designer places that don’t buy in new gadgets until they’re actually released, so they can hike up the prices for brainless, uh...” Fry’s voice trailed off as Amy stared at him. Fortunately she seemed more interested in getting her hands on the eOdel than being insulted. “Places like...” she looked over her shoulder at the sign above the shop. “Places like Mandroid’s Cellar here tend to have pre-release stock for real nerds to drool over. All I had to do was prance around in my underwear for half an hour.”

“Fry!” Leela and Amy both cried in unison together.

“Have you no shame?” Leela added.

“Yeah, he’s, like, forty or something,” Amy said a moment later, peering at the window. “Though his nose is kinda cute...”

Fry looked genuinely hurt. She blinked a few times, looking between Amy and Leela as if she didn’t know what to say. “It’s not like you think. He was in his underwear as well-”

“That isn’t better Fry.” Leela folded her arms. “I can’t believe you. You said you were different, but you’re just like Bender was. I... Fry, how could you!”

“Leela, just lis-”

“No, this.... ugh!” Leela stood up and would have walked away if Amy hadn’t caught her arm. “What?”

“Leela, wait.”

They both turned to look back at Fry. Her lower lip was quivering. She sniffed. Leela closed her eye and sighed loudly. “I can act too you know.”

“But all he wanted was help with his comic-book collection,” Fry wailed. She put her head in her hands and sobbed. “All I wanted to do was help, I didn’t think you’d be mad at me for that! I’m not like Bender. I’m not- going- to- auugh-”

Amy and Leela looked at each other again, eyebrows raised. They turned away from Fry and Amy grimaces. “Quite a bawler isn’t she?”

“All right, I can’t act that well,” Leela muttered, casting an embarrassed glance over her shoulder. People were staring. It seemed there were still a few things this newly minted girl needed to know about how to behave. “Perhaps it really was innocent.”

“We all make mistakes Leela,” Amy said, giving her friend a pointed look. Leela sighed again and turned around.

“Philippa...” The name seemed to shock Fry out of her mope. She looked up at Leela, eyes red but not too watery, and swallowed. “I’m sorry for shouting at you.”

Fry managed a wan smile. She rubbed her eyes and sat a little more upright. “It’s-” she choked, swallowed. “It’s okay Leela, I guess I should have thought about it first.”

Leela and Amy pushed the bags to one side and sat down on either side of Fry. “I sometimes get that way too, you know,” Amy said. She looked at Leela and winked. “It’s because you’re so impulsive and carefree. Some people don’t quite understand that.”

Fry looked up at Amy. “I don’t know, I never bought five-thousand dollars worth of stuff before. Is this how it is for you all the time?”

Amy nodded, but Leela shook her head. “Not everyone is a stereotype, Philippa. Some people are-”

“Frumpy!” Amy leaped up from the bench cackling. Unfortunately, as she turned her foot caught in one of Fry’s bags and she tripped, landing on her butt. “Ai!”

“Serves you right for interrupting,” Leela said with a triumphant smile. She turned back to Fry. “Now Philippa, about now is where I suppose I should tell you to be more sensible and stop being so impulsive, but I’m not going to.”

“You’re not?” Amy and Fry both asked in unison. Amy pulled herself up off the floor.

“You’re not going to be your usual stuck-in-the-mud killjoy self?” Amy looked around. “Fry, you stay here while I look for the real Leela.”

Amy made a show of looking behind the benches before stalking off toward a tree, which she rounded several times before turning to look back at Leela and Fry, hands on her hips.

“I don’t understand,” Fry said as Amy returned. “Am I doing it wrong or something?”

“I can’t tell you what to do, Philippa. Well I can, when we’re at work or you’re doing something stupid or life-threatening, but apart from that.” She squeezed Fry’s hand and then patted it gently. “You’re your own woman. If you want to get a discount by ‘prancing’ then, I suppose, it’s up to you. Just don’t expect me to get involved.”

Fry frowned. “If that’s what you think...” she made a show of drying her eyes on her shirt. “Oh I’m such a wreck, I’m no good at this. How will I survive a whole year?”

“The same way we all do,” Leela said. Amy perked up.

“Oh you mean she’ll get a trust-fund too?”

Leela let her eye rest on Amy until the younger girl shied away. She leaned across Fry and grabbed one of the bags. “Okay, we might as well get you home. It’s getting late. Amy?”

“Hn?” Amy was standing a short distance away, looking up at the sky. She suddenly pointed up. “Wuh de tyen ah!

Leela looked up. A gobbet of orange-pink light was moving across the sky at an alarming speed. “Too bright to be a ship, too slow to be an asteroid...” she glanced around the sky. “Look there’s another one.”

They watched the strange objects hurtling across the sky until they faded to nothing near the visible horizon. Fry clutched at her massed bags with a strange feeling growing in her gut. Something about the light felt familiar.

“We’d better get back, this has to have made the news,” Leela said. She grabbed a pile of bags. “Come on, we’ll call a cab.”

Buddies