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    It had been five days since the ship had been trapped in the slowsands of Xarthus 34, and Lord knew how many days before the rescue ship would even reach the quadrant they were in. 

    Leela sat at the captain’s chair, her hand’s joints physically hurting from how hard she’d been gripping the main thruster lever. 


    Not for the first time that quarter of an hour, she forcefully pushed it forward, the ship’s engines whirring to life only to violently groan and screech from the thousands of pounds of sand slowly engulfing them. 

    Stupid, stupid, stupid!

    “Damn it!” she growled, pulling the lever back and slumping in her seat from frustration. 

    She wanted to kill them. This wasn’t a new occurrence—wanting to kill Fry and Bender during a mission happened far more frequently than she’d like—but she really did want to do it this time.

    She got up from her chair and walked over to the ship monitors, checking their statuses for the umpteenth time as if that would change anything anyway. Oxygen levels would be good for a week, they had enough dark matter (not that it mattered) to last them several days, and food and water would last another week. 

    Really, this usually wouldn’t be bad. This usually would just amount to a forced vacation, and she could kick back and finally dig into the long pile of novels she’d neglected. 

    But no. 

    Someone had to dare someone else to drink all the alcohol on the ship in one night while a responsible third someone else was sleeping and couldn’t stop them. 

    She didn’t bother looking when the main cabin door opened. 

    “Leela…” Even without looking, she could tell how worried he was. For a moment, she even felt bad at being so angry. “Leela, he’s really not doing well.”

    “I know,” she replied, frustrated at him and herself. “Did you check the kitchen again?”

    “Yeah. I found nothing.” He paused. “Are you sure we can’t just use the ship’s power?”

    “We’re already using backup energy, Fry. If he uses it all, the oxygen systems will shut down,” she pointed out, curt.

    “… And that would be bad.”

     “Yes,” she replied, and wished she had alcohol for herself. “It would. Besides, he needs alcohol-based fuels. We don’t know what being on only electricity would do to him, and I’m not about to find out.”

    The last thing she wanted was the accidental electric overdose of a friend on her conscience. 

    “So, what do we do?”

    “I’m thinking, I’m thinking,” she replied. “Wait, I know!” 

    She walked towards and past him into the corridor, making a beeline for a supply cabinet. Once open, she scanned it a minute before finding and grabbing the first aid kit. She zipped it open, riffling through its contents for a second, before calling out: 

    “Where’s the bottle of rubbing alcohol?!”

    Fry walked into the corridor, and just by looking at his sheepish, nervous smile, she was angry all over again. 

    “Weeeeeell… Remember how the dare was he had to drink all the alcohol on the ship? Wait, Leela!”

    She was already walking further down the corridor, forcing herself away from Fry lest she gave him a reason to need the rubbing alcohol. She instead made her way to Bender and Fry’s shared cabin, closing the door behind her so her brain had to deal with only one lunkhead at a time. 

    No sooner did she turn around, however, her anger subsided, replaced with concern.

    Bender had seemingly fallen off the bed and was now lying on the floor in a puddle of his own oil, audibly groaning in pain. Heavy rust surrounded his mouthpiece like some sort of copper beard, as well as—frighteningly for her, never having seen him this bad—his neck and parts of his body. 

    “You stupid, sober idiot.”

    Bender, only just realizing she was there, turned to her and frowned. “Hhhheeeeeyyy,” he slurred, feebly pointing a finger at her. “I didn’t hear you calling Fry an idiot, too…”

    “That’s because I expect Fry to be one. I expect you to be a jerk, not an idiot.”

    “Ooohhh,” he replied, lowering his hand and having the audacity to smile, pleased. And then frown again. “Hheeyy, wait-a-minute!”

    “Bender,” she asked, trying to be serious. She knelt down next to him and placed a hand on his chest. As much as he annoyed her, she also still cared for him. “Can’t you, I don’t know, power down? Go on energy-saver mode? Something?

    He reacted immediately.

    “But I don’t want to!” he slurred, surprising her when he grabbed onto her hand. “Don’t make me!”

    Leela blinked at him, thrown off. This was a first. Ninety percent of his on-mission remarks were how much he would prefer being in power-saver mode to doing his job. 

    “Why don’t you want to?”

    “‘Cause then I won’t be awake with you guys,” he replied with as much urgent sincerity as he could muster in his state. “What if I miss something fun?”

    Whatever remained of Leela’s anger melted away. “Oh, Bender, that’s very sweet of you,” she said, wrapping both her hands around his. Evidently, she didn’t want him to be sober, but she couldn’t deny thinking of the saying, ‘drunken words are sober thoughts.’ Or, well, technically for this, sober words are drunk—Anyway. 

    “But,” she continued, gently but firmly, “you can’t keep this up, so as your captain and friend, I’m ordering you to go on power-saver mode.”

    Bender turned his head away from her, pouting. “Awww, you’re no fun…” he slurred. 

    “Isn’t that good, then?” she asked, and when he turned to her, she grinned cheekily at him. “Now there’s no fun for you to miss out on.”

    He seemed to process that for a few cycles and then, to her surprise, let out a silly sober giggle. “That’s funny,” he said, genuine. “You’re funny, Leela. You should be funny more. It’s funny.”

    She laughed. “I’ll try my best, Bender. Now, come on.” She got up and extended her hand towards him. “Let’s get you into bed.”

    “Yyeeah, yyeaah…”

    He held her hand and used her help to hoist himself onto the bed with a great, whirring groan. Once he was entirely on it, Leela grabbed the covers and tucked him in… Which, in retrospect, was probably useless for a robot, but it at least made her feel better about the state she was leaving him in. 

    “Alright,” she said, patting him on the forehead. “Good-ni—”

    “Wait!” he exclaimed, grabbing her wrist. “What if you guys do fun stuff without me while I’m powering down?”

    Leela smiled, endeared. “I’ll have Fry come and keep you company so that won’t happen, alright?”

    To her surprise, he blinked at her, not exactly annoyed but… something. 

    “Why can’t you stay?” 

    Leela blinked at him, genuinely confused. He wanted her to stay back? 

    “Me?” she asked, and said the following without malice, just as a… fact she thought was clear. “Bender, you think I’m boring. You’ve told me I’m boring.”

    She didn’t particularly care, to be clear. She knew she wasn’t the life of the party by any means in any situation, which is why she was even more surprised, and admittedly somewhat flustered, when Bender slurred with not an ounce of insincerity: 

    “You’re not boring.”

    Leela frowned. “I’m not?”

    Bender clumsily shook his head. “Naaaah, just annoying sometimes when you want me to do stupid work. But you’re fun most of the time.”

    Leela didn’t know what to say. If he wasn’t sober out of his circuits, she would think he was playing some sort of prank on her. 

    “I don’t understand. Why would you lie about it, then?”

    “‘Cause you expect me to be a jerk,” he replied, and just as her heart began to compress in her chest, he slurred, “Nah, it’s cause I am a jerk.” 

    He then let out another string of silly, sober giggles while she affectionately rolled her eye. Right, there was the Bender she knew and loved. 

    “You’re all right, Big Boots,” he said, still holding her hand, his visor lowering to prepare for power-saver mode. “Stick around…with… your ol’ pal, Ben…der…”

    And just like that, he was fast asleep. 

    Leela watched over him a moment, a smile on her lips. Sure, he was a jerk, but it was nice to be reminded that he cared deeply about her somewhere in his programming. It made it much easier for her on the days she wanted to practice martial arts on him. 

    “Goodnight, Bender,” she said sweetly, leaning over to kiss him on the forehead before walking away and immediately being pulled to a stop. 

    Startled, she looked down to find Bender still holding her hand. Tightly. Very, very tightly. 

    “Oh, crap.” She looked towards the door. “Fry?! Can you please bring me the power tools?!”

    I want you all to know I’ve been losing my mind over leeler for the past two weeks, and let me tell you, I am never again complaining about raritwi being unpopular because the leeler fandom is me and like four other people, this is TRULY WRITING FOR THE LOVE OF IT

    anyway if any of you want to make me feel better and also have tumblr, here’s my leeler blog so you can give me pity likes and i don’t feel lonely lmao



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    1. Gearcrow
      Mar 17, '24 at 10:17 am

      Gave this a shot because you absolutely convinced me on this ship in the car. This is super cute. I thought it might feel a bit weird to read tender moments from Bender, because he really is such an incredible ass in the show XD, but this works really well. Also just continuing to be in awe of how well you write characters in a way that feels authentic and accurate to the source material. Aces all around on this one.

    2. Naduran
      Oct 18, '23 at 10:49 am

      I’m a bit late, but I am fully onboard for for more of this.

    3. A Deer
      Sep 22, '23 at 3:54 pm

      This was a fun story to read. I like how in character Leela’s POV in the narration was as well as Bender’s interaction with her. Fry was on point too. Especially the humor of the bet with Bender to drink all the alcohol. Bender and Leela’s moment at the end was sweet. Bender expressing himself like he did felt very much like him. Definitely could picture this story in my head as part of an episode. Great story!

    4. SigmasonicX
      Sep 10, '23 at 11:29 pm

      This was really nice! Definitely felt like a scenario that would happen in the show, and the Leeler scene was cute.