Cyclopes Mama, Martian Mama
PART: 1 of 1
RATING: PG (Adult thematic material)
PAIRINGS: None, mentions Amy/Kif
CAST: Amy Wong, Leela, Bender, Fry, more to come.
DISTRIBUTION: simpworks.com, TLZ, my site.
NOTES: Inspired by some recent thoughts on the 'rama fandom. Title inspired by a Pam Grier film.
"Can you clear out the loading bay?"
Amy Wong moaned at the request, nudging a lock of jet-black hair out of her mouth. "But I've got a date with Kif in an hour!"
Turanga Leela - her generally merciless supervisor - let out a grunt of complaint as she emerged from the ship's underside. Pushing up her welder's mask, she fixed Amy with a glare of irritation. "We need to get the ship ready for transport by the morning."
Amy sighed, giving a firm nod as Leela disappeared beneath the ship. Once Leela had reignited the welder, Amy indulged herself in pity, grumbling a string of curse words as she unlocked the ship's docking porthole and slipped inside. Leela knew how hard it was for Amy to get any time alone with her boyfriend - somehow, she had to understand that forcing her to work overtime would wreck two month of intensive planning. With her luck, Amy knew that she'd probably not see Kif for another two months - if Zapp allowed it, if they bribed him with another chance to see his evergreen crush...and the current source of Amy's irritation.
If she lived to be a hundred, Amy Wong would never understand Leela.
It was true that they had a certain unspoken friendship between them - a sisterhood formed from their being the only two women working for Planet Express. They often talked about dating and fitness, and worked out together regularly. But outside of the exterior experience of being a woman, they had little in common. Leela was physically aggressive and had a tendency to deal with problems through violence, and yet knew nothing of how to deal with the opposite sex in a romantic relationship. Amy, in the opposite sense, knew how to work through problems mentally with her technical expertise - and knew how to deal with men in a thorough manner. Because of their differing approaches to life there tended to be a chasm between them - an unspoken annoyance and simmering anger. Sometimes, Amy wished to breach the gap - the parts of her that'd grown up when she fell in love with Kif - but the differences between them were so large. Amy, deep down, felt that Leela was just too serious to be a closer friend - she was much closer to her Mars U sorority sisters.
Sweat dripped down her face, staining her pink terrycloth suit - good thing she'd planned a shower before meeting Kif at the Hip Joint. Amy mopped the rust-colored floor, trying to scrape out an olive oil slick that Bender had left in the middle of the cargo hold - how it had gotten there, she had no clue. Wasn't it Leela's job to keep him in check? She could be thankful for one thing - most of the crates had been organized and stacked by Fry and Bender before their break. Now she just had to make room for the new delivery...that would involve re-arranging sacks of flour that had been tossed in the middle of the hold. At this pace, it was possible that she could leave by nine - not that it was likely she'd be able to leave then, with Leela the Slave Driver in charge. Grumbling, she pushed and shoved at the sacks, tossing them over her shoulder, pushing them with her feet, carrying them in outstretched arms - this labor was positively twentieth century. Why had she left her gadgets with Leela? Oh yes - because she claimed she needed them to fix a minor tear on the underside of the hull.
A decent amount of empty space appeared in the belly of the ship, thanks to Amy's careful and unrelenting work. Satisfied, Amy re-opened the hold and peered out into the artificial light illuminating the docking bay.
"I think I'm finished."
The sound of welding ceased. Leela re-appeared, pulling off her work gloves and pushing up her mask, standing and walking toward her. Amy stopped herself from giggling - Leela looked like a primitive robot in her baggy tan protective overalls. Leela paused to fuss over a strip of fading paint near the ship's rear bumper before following Amy into the hold.
When she saw what had been completed, Leela released an annoyed tsk. "We need more room."
"More room?! What are we transporting?"
"Two tons of Styrofoam packing peanuts to UPS Twenty-Five." Leela tossed down her gloves and pushed a t a discarded crate. "These need to be moved toward the tail of the ship."
"Fry and Bender put those there."
"Well, they're asleep in front of the couch in the lounge - we're going to have to move them if anything's going to be done."
"Spleesh! Can't we finish it tomorrow?"
"No! The Professor said the delivery wouldn't be ready until after noon - we're already losing a hell of a lot of time in the transit. Everything has to be perfect by the time we get in at nine."
"This is so bogus! It'd be different if you had a date."
"No, it wouldn't - I have a responsibility to my job and it needs to be fulfilled."
"Right," and beneath her breath, Amy whispered, "You on a date - that's like science fiction."
She nearly dropped the box. "I get plenty of dates!" Leela protested.
"Surre you do!" Amy's tone was purely facetious. "One every year!"
"Hah! The only reason YOU used to get so many dates is because...."
"I don't want to hurt your feelings, so I won't say."
Amy shrugged. "Okay, then I will - I used to be easy. But there's no shame in being easy when you're good at it."
"That's not what I meant," Leela sighed. "Amy, I know you have a brain and that you know how to use it. Why is it that when I try to use MY brain you think I'm old-fashioned?"
"Because you are. That's why guys won't go out with you."
"Maybe it's because I have principles - or is that too hard for you to accept?"
"Humph!" Amy stormed toward the door. "You're just jealous because I have a relationship. All you have is Nibbler!"
"I'm NOT jealous of you!"
"Good - I have a date to get to. Have fun cleaning up by yourself!"
Leela sputtered. "You're not going anywhere - if you do, I'll dock your pay!"
"Nothing's going to stop me from going out that door!" On cue, the loading bay slammed shut. "That's a dirty trick, Leela."
"What trick? I didn't do anything."
"Seriously?" Amy began to pound on the door. "Hello? Anybody? Can somebody help me?"
"You're getting dents in the door! Move over!" Leela pushed Amy aside and began to hammer at the metal. "Fry? Bender? Professor?"
A snore could be heard from the outside.
"That's Bender!" Amy gasped.
"BENDER!" Both women shouted in unison. They pounded and yelled for help, but to no avail.
"It's no use - he's turned on his sleep mode." Leela panted.
"Do you know where Fry went?"
"He's probably still in the employee lounge. Do you have a phone with you?"
"I knew I should've designed a passage from the galley to the loading bay! Stupid titanium hull!" Amy complained, kicking it - and hurting her toe. Cursing in Chinese, she sat down on a crate - and to her surprise, Leela sat beside her. "What are we going to do until we're rescued?"
"I guess we're going to have to resort to some ancient form of communication." Leela noted.
"You mean talking?" Amy worried.
"That's the one." Leela sighed.
"Ai-ya." Amy grumbled.
"So...who was your first?"
Leela shoved a sweat-soaked handful of hair behind her ear. "My first?"
Amy rolled her eyes. "Spluh! Your first boyfriend!"
Leela snorted, kicking absently against the box she sat upon. "Amy, this isn't The Golden Gloves Girls!"
"That show is so cool! The little Italian grandma-bot gets all the best lines, though."
"Yeah, but whenever she makes a wisecrack the women she lives with hit her on the head!"
"And then her head pops up and it makes that neat buzzing noise..."
"My point, and I do have one, is that I'm not going to sit around and swap sex stories while we eat cheesecake."
"I'd kill for a cheesecake right now," Amy admitted, patting her gurgling stomach.
"You EAT cheesecake?"
"Duh! It's my favorite flavor of Femislim!"
"PLEASE don't tell me you've never had a big, honking slice of cheesecake filled with strawberries..." Leela cut herself off, holding her growling stomach.
"Only when I was like, fat. Fattening foods totally end up interfering with my cuteness."
Leela visibly muzzled her disgust. "I still don't know why someone as intelligent as Kif is would want to date you!"
"That's Kif's best quality - his terrific taste," Amy grinned. "And I was right, you are jealous!"
Leela calmed. "No, I'm actually very happy for the two of you. I can't imagine spending the rest of my life holding hands with Kif. I need...a little more in my relationships."
"That's what I used to think," Amy confessed. "But when I met him, I just felt - I dunno. You know that feeling you get in your tummy just after you take off? I feel like that when I look at him. It's like I'm sixteen all over again."
"You mean fat?"
"Kidding, kidding," Leela said jocularly. "You have changed quite a bit since the two of you started dating. You're more..."
Amy gave her a sour look. "I know you think I used to be trampy, but that's hitting below the belt."
"I don't have the right to call anyone that..."
"It's all right, Leela - I can take the truth."
"Then yes, you were a little trampy."
"And proud of it!"
Leela chuckled and shook her head, expression condescending.
Amy sunk lower in her seat on the cardboard box. "I wish I could understand why we don't get along."
That was a level of self-analysis that was deep for Amy. "Maybe it's because we're so different from one another."
"We have things in common."
"Yeah, but we look at the world in opposite ways. Maybe we're just too different to be friends."
"I always thought we were. I am the mother of your children, after all."
Amy smiled. "I forgot about that."
"My first was Sean." The girls shared a grin - a sudden spirit of camaraderie was in the air. "What about you?"
"I was at a mixer on Greek Planet when I locked eyes with a guy on the pole vaulting team..."
A knock sounded at the door. "Amy! Leela?"
The two women were on their feet and at the door in a second. Their voices came in a mutual shout. "FRY!"
"Leela! Amy! Are you in there?" Fry called.
Leela snorted at his question. "No, our bodies are stuck in an alternate universe and our voices somehow got left behind in this dimension."
"Oooh! Stay there and I'll figure out how to cram them together!"
"Fry! We're locked in the storage hold of the ship!"
"Why didn't you say so?" Both women heard a scuffling noise outside near the loading bay, becoming louder and louder, turning into a regular pounding against the outside of the hull. "Stupid titanium shell!"
"Don't you dare damage this ship! I spent an hour welding a patch on today!" Leela chastised.
"I'm trying not to." Fry's voice was suddenly closer. "Is there a button somewhere that opens the whatchamajigger?"
Leela rolled her eye. "Yes, it's right next to the hoosits."
A long pause. "Is the hoosits colored green or red?"
Amy pressed herself against the door, trying to make her voice mightier. "Do you see any keys lying on the floor?"
Scuffling, a loud 'ow' and a hollow clanging noise. "No, but now I have a bruised knee."
"Bender really must have my keys, then!" Leela relayed to Amy, then shouted at Fry, "you're going to have to manually de-activate Bender's sleep mode."
"How do I do that?"
"Open up his chest cavity and look for something big, round and white on the inside of his door, then press it until he wakes up," Amy requested.
"This sounds a lot like popping a pimple," Fry demurred.
"DO IT," both women ordered.
The sound of metal squeaking and clanging echoed through the docking bay. Suddenly, Bender's snoring ceased and he began a series of meaningless squalls of confused disgust.
"Ahh! Don't hit me, Bender - it's me, it's me!" Fry squawked
"Fry! What the hell're you doing?" Bender shouted.
"Leela told me to..."
"You touched me! YOU TOUCHED ME INSIDE AND I FEEL VIOLATED!!"
"Calm down! I had to wake you up, and Amy told me to..."
"I dunno what you humans do for fun, but we robots don't like fleshwads poking at our insides - it's not natural! Unless they're mechanics or something..."
"Bender! Where did you put my keys?" Leela cried out.
"Crap, I must be getting sober - I'm starting to hear voices...Leela's voice...oh, why are all of my imaginary voices annoying?" Bender remarked.
"I'm not in your head! I'm stuck in the ship!" Leela yelled.
"With me!" Amy added.
"Gah!" Bender's voice became more muffled. "What the - show yourself, fleshpods!"
"Bender, I would love to do that, but - " Leela was cut off by Fry.
"Are you sure you didn't lock the keys inside the cab of the ship? I used to do that all the time with my dad's car."
"NO! I remember leaving them outside." Leela bellowed.
"I don't see them, guys - and there's nothing left on the floor but Leela's blowtorch. You didn't see anything, did you, Bender?" Fry asked.
"Uhhh..." Bender hemmed and hawed.
"I recognize that 'uh'! Bender, what did you do with my keys?" Leela questioned.
"Uh, I...gave them to Zoidberg! It's all Zoidberg's fault!" Bender protested.
"Zoidberg has the day off," Leela flatly uttered. "What did you do with my keys?"
"You know that mouse we had in the wall in the bathroom that you told me to kill? I was playing with Nibbler in the john again..."
"Bender!" Leela protested.
"Hey, it ain't my fault he likes hiding in the wastebasket!"
"If one hair on Nibbler's head is out of place..."
"He's fine! I made Bender to leave him with the Professor after he came out of the bathroom." Fry said.
"What did you do then, Bender?" Amy interrupted.
"Yeah, so, I was trying to find something to stab it with, and I found your key thing...." Bender explained.
"Are you trying to tell me," Leela began to pace as she spoke, "that a mouse has my keys?"
"On the bright side, I think I dented his head with my last swing..." Bender said.
"Bender, go back to that mouse hole and try to snake out my keys. Fry, keep an eye on him - neither one of you are to leave until I have my keys back!" Leela ordered.
"Aww, why do we have to do what they say?" Bender complained. "Besides, what about Amy's keys?"
"Yeah," Leela turned to Amy, "you said yours were outside with your purse."
The relief on Amy's face was replaced swiftly by distress. "I left my stupid keys back home this morning! I meant to ask you for a new one to the ship!"
"That's easily fixed - Fry can get a taxi to your place…"
"They're at my sorority, Leela! ON MARS."
Leela moaned at the revelation.
"Great! Now I REALLY don't have to do what you broads say!" Bender cheered.
"Are you nuts?" Fry exclaimed. "Have you ever tried to say no to Leela?"
"That pimple don't scare me!" Bender sniffed.
"Bender," Amy said, in her most seductive voice, "I have a big bottle of fancy wine from my parent's place back at my apartment. If you'll get us out of here, you can have the whole thing."
"What's the vintage?" Bender asked.
"2021 Martian Le Grange."
"Sacre Bleu! To the lavaratorie!"
Amy groaned as Bender's footfall became distant. She sank to the floor, resting her head against her knee. "I'm so hot," she moaned. "And we've been in here forever. Kif's probably stuck back on the Nimbus, shining Zapp's shoes and wishing he never met me."
Leela gave her young friend a sympathetic look. "Kif knows you'd never intentionally skip a date with him. Call him when we get out of here. He's probably transparent with worry by now."
"I hate making him scared," Amy scratched at her knee. "He has panic attacks way too easily."
"It marks his sensitivity," Leela dragged a sack of flour closer to the door and sat, cross-legged, across from the younger woman. "And THAT is one of his best qualities."
Amy grinned, then gradually sobered. "You know something, Leela?"
"I never thought I'd end up here."
"This isn't exactly my favorite way to spend a Friday night, either," Leela joshed.
"No, I mean - I totally never thought I'd be an engineering student, working for a delivery company."
Leela frowned. "How long did your parents wait before they had your career chip scanned?"
"They never wanted me to get a career chip at all - when I was born they delivered me on Mars to avoid me getting tagged. When I got older someone found out the truth and blabbed to some of Dad's ranching buddies, so they tried to pay off the Earthen government to make sure that I wouldn't have to get one," she uncrossed her legs, dangling her legs over the edge of the flour sack. "But they wanted me to be well-rounded, and to be well-rounded you have to have a little experience on Earth. My mother's still mad at my dad - she always wanted me to be a hostess on their spread in Mars."
Leela scratched her chin thoughtfully. "I'm not surprised - Inez has always wanted you to settle down."
"Mom's always wanted me to be someone I'm not," Amy said tartly. "Every day, she would lead me to the big bay window on our second floor landing, spread her arms out and say, 'all this be yours one day, Amy, so you listen to your piano teacher and become fine lady to make Wong Enterprises proud." Leela chuckled at Amy's dead-on impression of Inez Wong, and Amy continued, "when I turned seventeen and started my senior year, they asked me if I wanted to keep living on Mars and take a different major at the U - anything I wanted, 'cause no one was going to snoop around about my career chip at a university my parents own - but I wanted to get chipped."
"Because I knew that if I didn't, they'd find a way for me to end up back on the spread serving cocktail wieners to oil barons. I had my worst fight ever with my parents about getting chipped. My mom threatened to disown me if I didn't start 'making grandchildren' for them, and my dad threatened to cut off my allowance. Do you know how I got them to stop bugging me?"
"How did you get them to stop bugging you?"
"I promised to give them a grandchild by the time I turned thirty."
Leela smiled. "And I guess you did."
"Yup! And I didn't even have to wear ugly maternity clothes to do it! Anyway, two weeks later I got chipped, and I found out I was meant for engineering. And I was really happy about it, 'cause I was always good at drawing stuff, and I had always liked science and math. My mom and dad thought engineering wasn't a 'suitable career' for me. So I whined and begged and worked myself to death on my science and mathematics courses to bring my average up to an A+ in my senior year at high school. Eventually, they let me enroll in engineering courses at Mars U."
Leela listened to Amy's tale with clear amusement on her face. "I'm shocked that Inez and Leo let you leave home to live with your sorority."
"My mom actually wanted me to do that. She was a pledge when she went to school, so she wanted me to know what that was like. By then I just wanted to get out of the house. What about you? Were you happy being tagged as a cryonics officer, or did you ever want to do anything else?"
"I never really wanted to work in cryogenics, actually, and I've wanted to fly since I was a teenager. But before that...uh...well..." Leela seemed distracted as her cheeks turned a shade just south of pink. "You've got to swear you won't tell anyone else I told you this..."
"Tuh, Leela! If you want, I'll pinky swear!"
"That's not necessary...I haven't done that since I was seven..." But Amy held out her pinky, and Leela sighed, extending hers. The girls shook their fingers together with ceremony. Then Leela considered the conditions safe enough for honesty, and admitted her secret.
"When I was five, I wanted to be a holoballerina." Amy burst into laughter. "You said you wouldn't laugh!" Leela complained.
"No - I - didn't! Amy gasped out, through bursts of melodious joy. "But Leela! A holoballerina! In little pink toe shoes! WITH YOUR BIG FEET!! "
Leela gritted her teeth against the annoyance. "And I suppose your parents paid for years of practice for YOU, didn't they?"
"No, they didn't."
Leela smirked, satisfied that Amy hadn't, for once, experienced one of Leela's fondest wishes.
"I quit after two lessons. Sweating isn't cute." Leela's frown could have frozen the desert, and Amy, aware of Leela's physical prowess, began to wipe away the tears of merriment. "We all dream big when we're little - I'm sure we're not the only five-year-olds ever to dream about being ballerinas."
"I suppose," Leela tapped the tow of her heavy boot, staring morosely at her covered toes. "When I had my career chip scanned for the first time, I felt depressed for a week. I had been dreading taking introductory courses in high school because I knew I wasn't cut out for cryonic counseling."
"I don't like being bored."
"Yeah. And you're not really very good with people."
Leela snorted. "Yes, that," she leaned backward against the door, closing her eyes. "When I lived in the Orphenarium, I always hoped I'd be able to go somewhere far away. Guess I got my wish."
"I thought your wish was to meet your parents."
"Isn't a girl allowed to have more than one wish?"
Amy shrugged. "I've always wondered what Munda and Morris are like."
"They're too easy on me, sometimes. But I love them," Leela smiled sadly. "Amy, I never really knew what love was as a kid. I felt tolerated by my supposed friends and liked by my teachers and the workers at the Orphanarium, but I'd never felt loved until I met Sean," her eyes became distant as she recalled her long-gone relationship. She came back to herself and concluded, "I guess that's why I keep settling for men who aren't good enough for me. I take pity on the weak ones, because I was once weak, and I guess I still am."
Amy mopped more sweat from her brow. "You know that about yourself. We know that about you. Why do you keep doing it?"
She closed her eyes. "Old habits? I don't know - sometimes I think I know my own mind entirely, and then I'll do something that appalls me so much that I'll wonder why I bother getting up in the morning. Like nearly marrying Al to save my own species, or getting a second eye. I'd always had a hole inside of me where my past should have gone, but now that I know my folks, I feel stronger - like I know what real love is. Like I could finally give myself a real life instead of an endless adventure."
Amy nodded. "I'm really tired, Leela."
Leela noticed that Amy did indeed look exhausted - her jogging suit was sweat stained, and her eyes were droopy. But Leela understood that her friend wasn't simply sleepy. "I know. You told me. But it can't be very late..." No response came. "Amy, did you hear me?" But when Leela opened her eye, she understood what was wrong.
Amy sat propped against the door, her eyes shut tight, hair plastered against the side of her face, and her face was pressed against her own arm, lolling slightly backward. The heat in the cabin was stifling, Leela realized. And Amy wasn't sleeping - she was passed out cold.
"Amy!" Leela reached through the short distance between them, pulling Amy upright. A sick feeling coated Leela's stomach - Amy felt like a dead weight in her arms. "Wake up!" she begged, shaking the younger woman slightly. Amy lay like a limp rag against Leela's breast. Frantically, Leela wished for a way out - wished for her wrist computer or a cell phone. Then she wondered why Amy suffered, but Leela remained unaffected by the heat - then she felt the heaviness of the material in Amy's track suit, contrasting it to her lighter tank top was revelatory. "You've got to wake up again. You're sweating a lot, and you've got to be losing water that way. Amy, you have to hold on!"
Amy's lashes fluttered, but she wouldn't awaken. Leela pulled her forward, arranging her unresisting shape until her head rested against Leela's knee. Leela felt, odly, much like a mother in that moment, and she cradled Amy's head gently in her lap. Then, most unmotherly, she began to slap Amy's face in an attempt to wake her up.
After the third blow, Amy jumped awake, avoiding Leela's hand. "Oww!! I didn't mean to steal your scrunchie! It just looked better on me..."
"Amy, wake up!"
The smaller woman looked up at Leela, conscious of her position on the woman's knee and the uncomfortable angle of her neck. "How did I end up on the floor?"
"You passed out. It's got to be over a hundred degrees in here," Leela rubbed the back of her hand across her forehead. "I think you're dehydrating. Damnit, if I had my wrist computer with me, I could at least give you a drink."
"It's all right," Amy sighed. Her voice came out in a weak moan. "I want to go to sleep, Leela."
"No! If you pass out, I might not be able to get you to wake up again!"
"But I'm sooo sleepy..."
"You can't go to sleep - you need to stay awake to see Kif."
Amy's eyes opened wider. "Poor Kiffy. I forgot about him..."
"He's waiting for you at the Hip Joint, remember? You need to stay awake so you'll be able to dance..."
"I'm going to wear my new red shoes. The ones with the sculpted heel and the little gold stars on the tip of their toes..."
Leela masked her amusement. "I saw your dress this morning. The pink one, with the thick straps."
"Uh huh. Kif said he'd try to bring the tuxedo I bought for him last year..."
"I'm sure he'll be dapper. You know you have years ahead to live with him."
Amy smiled. "And years to finish college?"
"Did I ever tell you what I want to do with my life, Leela?"
"No, I don't think so."
"I want to go into commercial design. I can really see myself thinking up newer, faster ships. Hovercars. All sorts of stuff. Maybe with my own design firm." That goal was so unexpected of the sorority princess that Leela had assumed Amy was that the mutant woman was taken aback. "Maybe I'll be able to convince Kif to retire after his tour of duty with the DOOP is up. He's so proud of having stuck it out for this long...I don't think I could ever convince him to resign. I want to be ready for the next ten years."
Leela's smile wavered. "Does that mean you're going to leave us?"
"Someday. I mean, working in mechanics is totally ruining my nails." Amy's hand flopped limply across Leela's. "I'm going to miss you, Leela. You're not a lot of fun, but you're cool to hang out with."
The fairly accurate assessment of her character made her wince, but she squeezed Amy's hand a little too hard. "But you're not going anywhere yet."
"No...." Amy's eyes closed briefly.
"AMY. Stay with me."
Her eyes opened. "Spleesh, Leela, don't yell - the echo's terrible."
Leela knew, but she needed to keep her friend conscious. "Fry will be here soon, with Bender, and the keys...I promise..."
"What about your dreams?"
The question was unexpectedly confrontational. "My dreams?" Her natural practicality returned. "I don't really have dreams."
"Everyone dreams, Leela. I'd like to hear them..."
Leela felt embarrassed to ever have submitted to the whim of fantasy. "They're not very original. A husband, a family - a good commission coming in every week."
Amy giggled. "People would be so surprised to figure out you're old-fashioned. Especially Fry. He thinks you're a super-modern exotic goddess or something."
"Didn't he feel the same way about you when you were together?"
"Nah - we were always just friends - sometimes, I think that's all he ever wants from a girl. A friend who likes good snu-snu. Fry didn't worship me, and I didn't put pressure on him. It was an easy relationship, but I didn't feel much for him. Then again, I didn't want to. You know something, Leela? You're too hard on him. At least he doesn't try to get us killed like on purpose like Bender..."
Something about discussing Fry made Leela subtly uncomfortable. Amy's head began to droop against Leela's legs - suddenly, she tried to sit up, but fell back with a groan against her knees. "Don't spend your energy. Try to relax."
"Leela, if I don't make it out of here..."
"Don't even think about that."
"I mean it. If I don't make it out of here, you can have my new hovercar - the red one. I want you to tell Kif that I love him, and tell my folks to sell my ponies - wait, I'd rather they slaughter them for horse meat. Who wants used ponies?"
"You're not going to die, Amy. We'll get out of here."
"I promise if we do, I'll meet you for coffee every morning."
"Really? You want to spend time with me?"
"It'd be awesome. I don't have any real girlfriends, Leela."
"Huh? You hang out with a whole gang of women at Mars U."
"Yeah, I hang out with them. We're not close friends." She rested her head against Leela's knee. "I really need to rest."
"Amy. Don't go to sleep! AMY." But the younger woman had passed out. "Damnit! What am I supposed to do now?"
A horrendous sound burst forth from the opposing wall. With great violence, the metal peeled back, giving way to the form of Bender. He emerged into the hull with nonchalance, smoking his cigar, and Leela could only stare at him with an open mouth.
To Leela's questioning gaze, Bender shrugged. "Eh. It was too much trouble."
"Take Amy - she needs help." The desperation in Leela's voice spurred Bender to action, and he picked up the young woman and carried her outside of the ship...not without sneaking her new pearl earrings into his chest compartment. When Bender cleared the way, Leela burst out into the fresh air. The effort of keeping Amy alert and the aftereffect of the heat nearly made her collapse.
"Leela - did I do the right thing? Bender couldn't get the keys back, so I told him to ram through the hull."
Leela opened her eye. Fry hovered over her, his expression over worried. "Get Amy to the hospital. She's in bad shape."
Fry's face resculpted itself into a mask of disappointment. He turned and began to tend to Amy. Recovering her composure, Leela put her hand on Fry's shoulder.
"You did the right thing," she reassured him. His smile showed relief, gratitude - none of the usual carnal amusement with which he ususally regarded her. Leela thought to herself that, perhaps, Amy was right - she was too hard on him. Maybe it would be better for all of them if she changed a little bit...
Leela stared at the pointillist portrait of Richard Nixon situated opposite her in the waiting room. If she squinted hard enough, the colors solidified.
Abruptly, the picture became fuzzy, then changed into a fruit bowl still life. "This show's boring too," Fry complained, and he pressed another button, switching it into a portrait of a man from the early twentieth century. "Eew - isn't that 'The Kramer'?"
"You have absolutely no taste for fine art," Leela complained, reaching for a magazine and flipping through it. This hospital had such a poor selection of entertainment options. Lost for something to do, Fry plopped down next to Leela on the chair.
"What was it like in there? Did you have one of those near-death experiences when you see Jimmy Hoffa dancing the polka with Jim Morrison?"
"No, nothing like that happened. Amy and I just did a lot of talking, until the heat started to get to her. But even at the end she was completely with me." Until now - when Amy's doctor had closeted her away from them, shunning visits from all but Kif, for whom Amy had called out deliriously.
Fry was suddenly on his feet, rushing off to the right - Leela's poor peripheral vision forced her to put down the magazine and follow his progress to the end of the hall, where he talked animatedly with Kif. Relieved, she rushed over to meet them - and noticed the alien was transparent, two high marks of red over his cheeks.
"...She'll be fine with fluids and rest," Kif shifted her shoulders. "Oh, goodness - she seemed so tired. I was so worried when Fry called me." The green began to rush back into his face. "Leela, are you all right?"
"The doctors said I'm healthy - all they gave me was a glass of water. It was an experience I never want to go through again, Commander Kroker," Leela admitted. "Amy was very strong during the ordeal."
"I'm not surprised. Amy is an amazingly bold woman." He curled his finger at Leela, urging her to bend over, so he could whisper into her ear. "Zapp insisted on accompanying me here. Perhaps you should go in next?"
"Thank you - I will. Would you try to contact the Wongs?"
"I've been trying for an hour - their phone is off of its hook."
"Keep trying. Fry, keep an eye out for Zapp....and watch out for Bender, too."
"Aye aye, captain."
Fry's mock-obedience amused Leela - and she needed a laugh at times like this. She entered Amy's room quickly, and noted that the younger woman lay comfortably on her hospital bed, her eyes closed, in a green tissue gown barely visible beneath the light blue blanket.
Leela sat down beside Amy's bed, gently picking up her hand. Amy stirred and smiled at Leela.
"Hey." Leela squeezed her hand. "I'll be quiet and let you go back to sleep."
"No, it's okay," Amy yawned. "How do I look?"
"Leela, I'm wearing a paper dress and my hair's all knotty. I must look like..."
"Amy..." Leela's voice held a gentle warning - they both seemed to realize that things like vanity weren't so important anymore.
"How did we get out?"
"Bender walked through the hull."
"No! But what are you going to tell the Professor?"
"I think I'll persuade Bender to tell him that he was on a spree of sobriety. It's his fault we were locked in, and he should take the blame."
"How are you going to get him to agree to that?"
"I don't know - take him to Elzar's?"
"Good idea. Leela?"
"I know this sounds stupid - but promise me you won't give up on your dreams."
A tear came to Leela's eye. "Only if you promise not to give up on yours."
"Okay," Amy yawned.
"I really think I should let you rest," Leela pulled her hand away from Amy's, standing up and heading toward the door.
"Leela?" Amy called.
"I'll see you on Monday at O'Xzornax - Dutch treat, okay?"
Leela smiled. She had believed that Amy would conveniently forget about their promise - that she would back out of her bargain and not want to spend time with Leela. But perhaps she had more to learn about Amy's character.
"Did you think I'd forget?"
"I don't believe you thought I'd forget. You'd have to be crazy to forget about a day like this," Amy said.
Leela gave Amy her best devil-may-care hot-shot pilot smile. "Yeah, Amy. I guess you would have to be."
There was a pact between them now - a silent agreement to withstand the world between them. If Amy would never forget, then Leela would always remember. They would endure together as most women did. On luck. On booze. And on love.