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Critical Mass

Author: Red_Line
Email: red_line@sbcglobal.net
Website: Red_Line's Futurama Fan Fic Stash

futurama point . fan fics . red_line . critical mass

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0RL07 28 June 2008

Author's note: Here is what I believe to be the first fan fic to build on Bender's Big Score and Beast With A Billion Backs. It was released on FMMB, and a few hours later on TSFFC just 4 days after the official release of Beast. I fully recognize that following episodes may well render it invalid. I'm willing to take that risk. My first fic was written as a result of what I saw as "unfinished business" in The Devil's Hands, and likewise this is an attempt to make something out of BBS and BWABB.

Many thanks to Tornadoboy for acting as muse, sounding board, and fact squarer.

Disclaimer: The Futurama name, characters, and settings belong to their respective copyright owners. This is a work of fan fiction which has no commercial intent or value and was created soley for my own amusement and for that of other Futurama fans. The author would appreciate it if this work is not placed on websites or reproduced in any form without his express consent.

The Planet Express ship flew through the empty tracts of space, on it's way home to Earth after a long delivery run. An icy silence, broken only by the noises of the ship and the occasional brief words absolutely necessary for it's operation, gripped the bridge.

Leela sat rigidly at the controls, gripping the steering yokes and concentrating on the traffic ahead; and equally not concentrating on a certain delivery boy who was seated off to her left. And in fact, she was trying hard to show that she was deliberately not paying the slightest lick of attention to said delivery boy so as to convey the impression that he might as well be invisible.

"Damn him!" she thought furiously, her grip on the yokes tightening. "Six years! Six years he's been after me to go out with him. He says he loves me. He finally starts getting his act together, and just when I realize I could be happy with him, he runs out and takes up with that bimbo."

Almost involuntarily, she cast a quick glance at Fry, saw he was looking at her, and just as quickly looked away, but not so quickly that she didn't notice his hastily averted gaze.

Angry at herself, Leela jerked the ship into the left lane and stomped on the throttle to pass another ship. The artificial gravity pumps, which the professor had bought used from Sal and Sons Salvage, were a little undersized for the job they were sometimes called upon to do and as a consequence were a little slow responding to the move. Fry clamped one hand over his mouth in an effort to keep his stomach in and held on with the other. The rear view screen on the console in front of him displayed the grill of the truck Leela had just cut off, along with blinking icons of a horn and a raised middle finer, indicating that the truck driver was concerned about the execution of their maneuver and wished to call their attention to it.

"Jeeze Leela, watch out." Fry said, also somewhat involuntarily.

Leela shot him a withering glance that caused Fry to shrink back into the seat and try to make himself as inconspicuous as possible.

"Why's she so mad at me?" he wondered, racking his brain as he replayed the events of the last few weeks in his mind, trying to find the reason.

Fry really would have preferred to be anywhere but the bridge of the ship, but there was nowhere he could go that wouldn't be occupied by his other coworkers, and nobody was really comfortable to be with at the moment.

Bender would be in their cabin, and if he went there, Bender would retell his much embellished tale of the League of Robots and how he, Bender, saved the Universe, and Fry was tired of hearing it.

Amy was down in the engine room trying to trace down some noise she imagined she'd heard. Really Fry suspected, she'd be crying and that other emotional stuff girls did, and he did not want to hear about Kif and Zapp for the seemingly thousandth time.

And Zoidberg was probably in the cargo bay, rooting around for something to eat and otherwise being their "parrot" in case of any air leaks. And Fry really didn't want to hear yet another rendition of how the "robut" took him away from the "fabulous buffet".

The only other place he could hide would have been the bathroom, but is was another eight hours to Earth and he'd certainly hear about it if he spent the whole time in there.

So the least uncomfortable place to be was here in the icy silence of the bridge with Leela, where he could at least be near her.

A few minutes later Fry chanced another glance at Leela. She was still studiously ignoring him. He sighed quietly, not wanting to draw her attention and wrath again. His glance lingered, stretching into seconds, and then tens of seconds. He felt the weight of the lonely depression starting to settle over him again.

"Oh Leela, why won't you give me a chance? I love you. All I want to do is hold you and make you happy, and I know I could. You loved Lars, and I'm Lars. Why can't you love me?"

Fry sighed again, this time loud enough to catch Leela's attention.

"What are you looking at, Fry?" she snapped, jolting him out of his reverie.

"Huh? What? Um ... nothing." he said, the last word trailing off.

Fry shifted his gaze and studied the floor at his feet.

"Well see that you keep it that way."

Fry sat silent and still for a moment, then leaned back and closed his eyes. Maybe he could sleep for a while. Maybe he'd have one of those things – like a headache with pictures except you were asleep - of a place where there was someone who loved him, someone who would accept him for what he was, someone who didn't turn out to have a tentacle fetish.

Over the next few minutes, Fry kept his eyes shut and tried to get comfortable. Reality, such as it was, slowly faded out.

"Fryyyyy." a very pleasant voice called to him.

Fry looked around, suddenly unconscious of his surroundings. It was dark, but not completely black. More of a gray, with maybe just a hint of mauve.

"Huh? Whazzat? Who are you? And where are you?"

"It's me Fryyy, and I'm over herrreee."

Fry sort of turned towards the sound that wasn't really a sound. It was all very odd. A sort of ephemeral half body surrounded by a halo of light floated before him.

"Leela?!? Don't hit me, please!"

"Relax Fry,I'm not going to hit you. I'm not solid enough. I need to tell you something."

"Oh, OK. What?"

"Don't give up Fry."

"Don't give up? Don't give what up?"

"Don't give up on Leela. She loves you."

"She doesn't love me. She loved Lars. She doesn't want anything to do with me."

"She's upset with you because you took up with Colleen. You didn't give her enough time."

"Time? How much time does she need?"

"She needs time, Fry. Time to come to grips with the death of Lars. Time to come to grips with her own fears."

"I don't know... I just get so lonely. And she ..."

"Don't give up on your dreams, Fry. It's easy to fall into the trap of telling ourselves that we have to be realistic, to give up on silly dreams, to start talking down to ourselves. Would you ever tell someone else what you tell yourself? It's harder to be positive and hold on to them, to believe, to dream BIG. But we need to. You need to. And she needs you to."

"Really? Are you sure?"

"Hey, I'm just a vaporous apparition in your dream, what do I know? Talk to her Fry. Tell her you're sorry. Be her friend."

The floating half-Leela was fading, growing transparent.

"Wait!" Fry called, trying to reach out to the fading Leela. But the more he reached, the further she receded into nothingness, and Fry suddenly felt like he had reached too far and toppled over in a sort of a slow somersault. And as suddenly falling ... falling ... falling ....

The world suddenly went from being a very soft, quiet place to a very rough, hard place.

"Clumsy oaf." he heard Leela's voice mutter.

Fry opened his eyes, and in a moment realized he was on the floor of the ship's bridge. And things hurt.

"Ow." he said softly.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Leela twist the steering yokes. The world tilted and he rolled over, his shoulders striking the seat post and his legs flailing against the console.

"Ow." he groaned again.

Getting a solid grip on the seat, he slowly worked his legs back under him and maneuvered back into it.

"Umm, Leela, uh .. how long 'till we get home?" he ventured.

Leela's eyes darted to the bridged chronometer. "Six hours." she said in a clipped tone.

"Uh ... thanks. .. Um Leela?"


Fry recoiled at the hardness of her voice, but summoned up his courage and pressed on.

"Uh, Look Leela, I know why you're mad at me. And I guess you have a right to be ..."

"Damn right I do." Leela retorted. She instantly regretted it – she had vowed to hate Fry in silence and felt that any reply was a sign of weakness.

"I know. And, well, what I wanted to say was I'm sorry. I' m really sorry."

Leela bit her lip. A dozen retorts flashed through her mind and it took all of her will power not lash out at him. Instead she cut off another truck. The horn and finger icons lit up again.

Fly clung to his console until the gravity sorted itself out.

"I know ... now ... how hard Lars' death was for you. And I wasn't there for you. I'm sorry."

Leela stared intently ahead for a moment. Finally she looked at Fry.

"Sorry? That's it, you're sorry? You sure are sorry - you turned your back and hopped in the sack with the first bimbo you met. You're as bad as Zapp."

Fry stumbled a step backwards and dropped into his seat as if he'd been pushed, stunned and at a loss for words.

Leela too seemed to deflate. Her head hung down.

"What a fool I was. After Lars died, I thought, for a minute, that you and I might ... amount to something. That maybe you were the one for me after all. God, I can't believe how stupid I can be sometimes."

"Leela, I ... I didn't know. I mean there were all those times before that I thought, just maybe, you were starting to like me, but you wouldn't go out with me. Even after the opera, when you stayed, I thought for sure then. But it was just like all the other times."

Fry hung his head.

"How was I to know ..." his voice trailed off.

Fry closed his eyes and swiveled his seat so his back was toward Leela. He didn't want her to see the tears flowing from his eyes.

Leela didn't need to see him, she heard the emotion in his voice. And this time the retorts that bothered to show up were slow and half hearted. And somewhere deep in the recesses of her mind was a tiny voice she was desperately trying to ignore going "he has a point you know". She felt her eye growing warm and moist.

"You could have given me some time." she whispered.

"Time." Fry said with some heat, turning towards her. "I've given you six years Leela. How much time do you need? You at least found your parents. I've got nobody. Nobody ... but you. And you don't even want me."

He turned away again.

"And I need somebody." he said quietly.

Leela wiped the tears out of her eye with the back of her hand. They sat in silence with their own thoughts for a few minutes.



"That's not true."

"What's not true?"

"That I don't want you."

Fry sighed.

"What do you want then?"

Leela bit her lip.

"I don't know what I want anymore" she said softly.

Another silence oppressed them for a few minutes.

Words from the dream floated through Fry's mind: "Be her friend".


"What Fry?"

"I'm really sorry. I never wanted to hurt you. I only want you to be happy. And so, um, can we try again?"

Leela looked at him.

"What do you mean try again?"

"You know, let's try to be friends again and see what happens. If you need some time, I'll wait; as long as it takes. I promise."

Fry smiled hopefully.

A tiny smile graced the corners of Leela's lips for the first time in weeks.

"Maybe ..." she said hesitantly.

Fry pressed on. "I mean, I'm lonely, you're lonely. That's kind of stupid, isn't it?"

The smile crept up another micron.

"Yeah, it is kinda. You aren't going to ask me out now are you?"

"No. Not unless you want me too."

"No, not yet."

"Ok. I'll wait 'till next week on that."

Leela settled back into the pilots seat with a relaxed, easy grip on the steering yokes.

"You do that, Fry." she said with a smile.

. -. -..

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