The Other, Part 19
September 12th, 3003
By Rye Guy
Skyler walkes down the hallway of an apartment building with a brown bag full of groceries in his arms. Upon reaching apartment 1I, he stops, takes a deep breathe, and gently knocks on the door with his free hand. But there's no response from inside so he knocks again only to have the same result. The third time he bangs on the door hard until he hears Leela shouting from inside,
"I'm coming! I'm coming! Who is-" she opens the door "-you." she utters resentfully. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, you haven't left your apartment in over a week. Figure'd you might be running short on food." he holds the bag up to eye level.
A little reluctant at first, she forgets her pride and dignity and takes the bag from him. "Thanks. Bye." she tries to shut the door but Skyler has already placed his foot in the doorway. "Wha-?"
Skyler grins nervously "Mind if I come in. Just for a minute, I swear."
Leela looks down. Seeing that he's wearing boots, she knows stomping on his foot won't work. With an annoyed sigh, she allows him to enter. She carries the grocery bag into the kitchen where she puts the food in it's proper place. Meanwhile, Skyler observes the surroundings. It's a sad sight; trash everywhere, mainly tissues. He sees that bringing groceries was the best thing he could do for there are food wrappers and packages scattered about the apartment indicating that she was running out of food. Once all the food is stored, Leela folds the bag to put in the trash can. There is an akward silence between the two as she does.
Skyler speaks up, "Leel-" she cuts him off.
"About that day, at Robot Hell...me about to get that abortion...I wanted to thank you for saving me. Just before you showed up I had changed my mind. Right at the last second; I was afraid it was too late."
Skyler looks down to his feet "Oh, it was...it was nothing. I just wanted to stop you from making that kind of mistake." His thoughts suddenly go back to what she said to him just after they had escaped...
--"I did it once, I can do it again! It's my life; let me make my own decisions!"--
"Leela, uh...not to pry into your personal business. But something's been bugging me about what you said to me that day."
Her eye widens, "Oh right, that." she sighs sadly, "When I was 17, I dated this guy named Shaun. He was real popular at school and I had a bit of a crush on him. Well, one night we're at this party. Everyone's drinking and Shaun asks me to dance. It was my first time drinking and my first time at...that...too. He was gone the next morning and later I found out I was pregnant. Shaun wouldn't take any responsibility for the baby. He acted like he never even knew me. I had no family of my own and I was nowhere near ready to try and raise a child alone. So, I did the only thing I could. It still haunts me to this day. Then, after losing Fry, I promised myself I wouldn't let any more lives end because of me. But I've become so weak."
Skyler can't find the words to say that could wash the tears from her eye, or the pain from her heart. All he can do is put his arms around her and comfort her. She begins crying on his broad shoulder.
"Weak? You're only weak if you doubt yourself. I know without a doubt that you are one of the strongest people I've ever known." Her cries soften and as she begins to lift her head, she hears him say in just a faint whisper "I love you."
"What?" she pushes him away and steps back.
Skyler fumbles for words "I meant...uh, I mean. It's just..."
"Oh, I see. I'm all alone and vulnerable and here you come hoping to get something out of me. Is that it? It is isn't it?!"
"No, Leela! Please listen!"
"Get out!" she grabs her dented laser gun from a counter drawer and holds it at Skyler's head.
"Leela?" he yelps in alarm.
She forces him out of her home and slams the door behind him. He turns and bangs on the door.
"Leela, hear me out. Please!" even though he gets no response at all from her, he feels compelled to continue. "Leela...we're all here for a reason. There is a purpose for all of our lives, for our existence in this world. Don't ask me to explain why but I KNOW what mine is. You're killing yourself with your grief. You want Fry to come back right? Then you need to keep believing that he will. I do. Things don't always make sense in this world, but in the end the only thing you really have left is faith for a better tomorrow. That's why I'm here. 'Cause if you lose faith...then it's all over Leela."
Nothing. Not so much as a peep from the other side of that door. Feeling as though he has failed, Skyler turns and walks toward the stairs. When his foot hits the first step, the sound of an opening door and a woman crying cause him to freeze and turn to see a tearful Leela standing in the doorway. She shakes her head.
"Skyler, you go on and on about faith and destiny and being strong. I only want you to tell me who you are. Tell me how you know so much about me and the others. Or somehow explain why when I look at you..." she struggles to breathe as se begins sobbing "...I look at you, and I see the same glimmer in your eyes that I see in Fry's."
He does not budge; not one bit, as he responds. "I wish I could. The funny things is, everything can all be explained with one answer. But if I told you, then everything I've worked so hard for could be destroyed. All I ask is that you trust me. I will never harm you. I only want what's best for you; and the best is Fry."
She takes a long look at the young man, "How is it that you're so sure that he'll be back?"
He grins "The same reason you are." he turns his head to face her "He promised." And with that, he descends the stairs leaving her to think over his words.
As she wipes her tears, she briefly glimpses down and spots something. It's an old photograph, folded in half down the middle. She carefully squats down and picks it up.
"Must have fallen out of his pocket while we were struggling."
Unfolding it, she is surprised to see what the picture holds. She sees herself, Fry and all of they're co-workers at Monument Beach, gathered around Fry's sand castle. She assumes that Skyler must have gotten it from Fry and Bender's apartment because she remembered seeing the picture there several months ago. But she finds it odd that it is now so faded, torn and old. Sleep depravation beginning to take it's toll on her, she doesn't give it much thought and heads back inside and into bed.
"I'll just take it back there tomorrow." she yawns.
The next morning...September 13th, 3003...
Leela is walking to work. Out of her apartment for the first time in over a week. It all seems so strange to her how everything feels so different, so calm, so safe and tranquil. It's just as if it were any other day. Almost as if her life had returned to normal somehow. And as strange as it may seem, Leela can swear that she senses the presence of someone watching her. Not a bad presence, but a peaceful one. The tail of her maternity dress flowing in the gentle breeze, she smiles at this new and wonderful; yet familiar; feeling. Before she knows it, she is standing outside of the Robot Arms apartments. Soon, she is at Bender and Fry's apartment door. She knocks and is met by a yawning Bender.
"Bender? Shouldn't you be at work by now?"
"I should. But I can't today. Religious holiday."
Leela crosses her arms as she has heard this exscuse before, "Oh, you don't say? And what, pray tell, is today?"
"Robodan. It's a Muslimbot holy day."
"Since when did you become Muslim?"
"Since when did you join the Spanish Inquisition?" he snaps back.
She sighs with a slight chuckle and smiles, "Look, I just need to come in for a second. Is that alright?"
"Sure. Come on in. But make it quick. I've got some praying to do and I need to make room for the card table."
Leela walks in and to Fry's bed. Skyler's obviously very neat because she almost doesn't recognize Fry's part of the apartment because now it's very clean. Almost spotless. She steps to the nightstand where the picture used to stand, but of course isn't there because the frame broke a long time ago. So she opens the drawer and there lies the frame face down inside. She picks it up and is shocked to see the picture already in the frame.
"What in the world? Bender, did you make two copies of this picture?"
"No, why?" he responds already seetting up his card table.
"Has Skyler made a copy of it?"
"What am I, his keeper?"
"Well, you've been living with him for 9 months. I figured you of all people would know."
"Look, Skyler's a nice guy and all but he's way to secretive. All night long he's making noise. Either exercising, kung fu fighting the air, or talking and making other sounds while he's asleep."
"Wait, what does he say when he talkes in his sleep?"
"Let me think. Usually just crying out for his dad, followed by sobbing, followed by grunting in pain and shouting in anger. Then he wakes up screaming. That's pretty much his average night. I don't know, why don't you go ask him about it? He's at Planet Express."
"No prob. Now hurry up and go. I got my poker buddies coming over to pray to our...Robodan god like...figure person...yeah."
Taking the incentive, she leaves.
Several minutes later, Leela finds herself coming up on Central Park on her route to work. Wanting to unwind and think a few things through, she goes on in. Following the trail; she looks all around to see children in the playground, being pushed on the swing or spun around on the merry go round by their moms and dads. She can't help but picture herself and Fry as one of the many families out there. The sun shines bright and birds are singing as they fly overhead. She happens upon a bench by the pond where she can rest for a moment. Taking a deep breathe and exhaling, she unfolds Skyler's copy of the photograph and looks admires it for a second. Her eye wanders upward to the pond. The water glistening from the mid-day sun. Ducks and geese in the water, bobbing their heads down underwater in search of food. One duck does it but goes down to far. It's feet are flailing in the air giving her a brief moment of amusement. She folds the photo back up and sticks it in a pocket on the side of her dress before returning her attention to the water.
"I'd forgotten how beautiful it was out here."
"It's not as beautiful as you." adds a familiar voice.
Leela smiles, "Thanks Fry. But you've used that line bef-" she freezes. Her head slowly turns to look over her shoulder where she sees someone that makes her not believe her own eye. For there stands a young man in a black coat with spikey red hair, a goofy yet endearing smile, a cute little bump on his nose, and a horrible scar going across the face from just above his right eye down to his left cheek.
She stammers, "F-F-Fry?"
Her eye so full of tears, she can't even see; Leela jumps up and quickly throws her arms around him and holds him tight, sobbing into his chest.
"I thought I'd never see you again !"
Fry gently caresses her back and holds the back of her head, "Shh, shh. It's alright now. I'm back Leela. Back for good."
She lifts her head and the two share a long passionate kiss. A kiss nine months overdue.
Okay, everyone. Turns out things are still busy. So instead of promising that the next chapter will come sooner than this one did; I'm just going to assume that my hectic schedule will remain hectic, allowing me little time to work on my fics. So, I'll work on them in my spare time and get them up as soon as they're done. Of that you can trust me. BTW, those of you e-mailing me about "The Heavy About Love" need not worry. I haven't forgotten it either.