TLDR CONTEXT OF THE EPISODE THIS IS SET IN: Fry gets really rich in the episode for XYZ reasons, so he buys a ton of 20th Century TV videos and other stuff, and becomes a hermit living in his apartment watching hours of old TV and listening to 20th century music, completely abandoning his friends.
Rewrite of a drabble I wrote back in 2010.
Fry was… frustrating. She really didn’t get him.
Sure, Leela didn’t think herself heartless, and she understood that he missed the past, but wasting away his days watching TV, eating his weight in retro food, and just… well, being plain sad? Not to mention just outright completely abandoning his friends?
He lived in the Now! The Present! It wasn’t like he could go back, so why neglect the friends who love him now?
Additionally, Fry deciding to ditch his job meant the only other person doing deliveries with her was Bender. …Which wasn’t bad, surprisingly. Very, very surprisingly.
Yes, he was still rude a lot, and yes, she’d had to apologize to the president of Zingon 6 after he tried to steal the golden casket the late First Lady was buried in but beyond that? He’d been… okay. Decent, even.
And he seemed completely unaffected by Fry’s disappearance! Weren’t they best friends?
Ugh! Robot men.
He was sitting on the couch, feet up on the coffee table, watching some cooking show while chugging down what seemed to be his sixth beer. She’d seen him glance her way when she stomped into the lounge, so she was unsure why he was ignoring her.
She crossed her arms, stern. “Bender.”
“I didn’t steal Amy’s watch,” he replied, not missing a beat.
She frowned. “You stole Amy’s watch?!”
Now he looked at her, offended. “You deaf or something? I just said I didn’t steal it!”
Her hand slapped against her face. “Bender, if you—Oh, nevermind.” She gestured to him. “We have to do something about Fry! Don’t you care that he just left us?”
He looked back to his show. “Eeeh. I care until I remember there’s more beer for me now.”
“He’s your friend!”
He snorted. Loudly. “Friends are just the suckers who pay for your drinks.” He looked at her when she said nothing, and quickly relented when beset with her Distinctictly Unimpressed Look. “Listen, Leela, we’re not his babysitters! And I got better things to do with my time. Speaking of which!” He sat up, giving her his full attention, and gestured his beer bottle at her. “What bar are we hitting up tonight? Last night’s was fine and all, but I saw this commercial about a place on Fifth and—”
“You want to go out again?” she asked, surprised. This was the fourth time he’d suggested going out that week. Understanding dawned on her, and her expression softened. She sat down next to him and placed her hand on his leg. “Bender…”
His eyes flickered between her eyes and her hand on him, noticeably taken aback. Obviously, he felt caught. “Errr…”
Poor guy, she thought, sympathetically.
“It’s been fun going out with you, really,” she said, smiling gently, “but I can’t fill the hole Fry’s left in your heart.”
He blinked at her, confused. Then asked, “What the hell are you talking about?”
“You’ve been asking me to go out with you so much because you miss Fry,” she said as though it were obvious. Which it was.
Or so she thought right up until Bender looked at her, and if she didn’t know any better, she’d say he looked genuinely hurt.
“You think my entire life revolves around Fry? Maybe I like having beers with you!” A second passed, and then he quickly looked back to the TV, shrugging. “Not that I do or nothing. I just like drinking, and I figure you have nothing better to do with your life.” He looked at her, and even though he couldn’t actually technically smirk, she still felt him smirking. “You should be thanking me! Bet it feels nice to have a guy finally take you out, am I right?”
Leela rolled her eye, slouching back onto the couch. “God, you’re such a jerk.”
“And proud, baby!” he said, lifting his beer up into the air.
In that moment, she had half a mind to tell him he could forget about her going anywhere with him, but a thought stopped her. “Wait,” she said, “you paid for drinks last night.”
He kept watching his show, distracted. “Yeah, so what?”
“I thought you said friends are just the suckers who pay for your drinks.”
He kept watching. “You’re damn ri—Wait a minute!” He stood up almost violently, stammering over his words. “Don’t go getting any ideas! I just paid for them because—err, because you paid for the ones from Tuesday, and I just felt bad for you!”
“Aw, Bender…” she replied, genuinely moved. “I was happy to be the sucker who paid for your drinks, and it makes me happy you were the sucker to pay for my drinks back.”
“I didn’t do it because we’re friends! And I’m not a sucker!”
“Wait,” she said, suddenly, coming upon another realization, “that doesn’t make sense. I paid for your drinks because you said you didn’t have money.” She gasped. “Did you lie to me?! Bender!”
“I didn’t lie! I really didn’t have the money!” he insisted, stamping his foot on the floor. “That’s why I had to pawn off Amy’s watch so I could pay for last night!”
She placed a hand on her heart, moved once again. “Oh, Bender… You stole Amy’s watch so you could pay for my drinks?” she said, right up until she processed her own words, and then stood up, aghast. “Wait, you stole Amy’s watch so you could pay for my drinks?!”
A long time ago, back in the year of 2010, I was really into Futurama. Like, really, really into it. As in, I could quote entire sections, and could easily answer the most obscure Futurama trivia. I was also an incorrigible shipper back then too, and my main otp–my RariTwi before RariTwi–was Bender/Leela (because, as you can see, I have always been a masochist who goes for the ships literally no one ships). Though RariTwi is arguably not unpopular anymore, Leeler trained me for my early RariTwi days when it was just me and six other people because, when I shipped Leeler, and I mean this really almost literally, the entire fandom for it consisted of me and another girl. Literally. We both just kept feeding each other content like an ouroboros.
Eventually, my hyperfixation on Futurama moved to make a little room for Homestuck, and then in 2013… Well… You all know what took over my entire life since.
Anyway! What with Futurama being revived again again again again, I decided to rewatch the series for old times sake while I unpack after a move, and my God, old fandoms truly never die, do they?
I ended up reading the fics I wrote when I was a wee little baby, and my god, they ALL SUCK. So, I decided to rewrite one of them as a fun little exercise to get back into writing.
It’s also very interesting to go back to this ship now with my current sensibilities. Bender is an absolute jerk, and Leela deserves better (hot take, she deserves better than Fry too BUT ALAS), but honestly? After years of writing nice relationships that I try to make as healthy as possible, I’m allowed to have a problematic ship. As a treat. And especially because as I was self-analyzing the ship while writing this, I actually had the thought “I can fix him” which is ABSOLUTELY the thought Leela when trying to rationalize falling in love with Bender and honestly if I was able to sell a ton of people on RariTwi, THEN BY GOD I WILL DO IT AGAIN. I WILL BE THE POWERHOUSE THAT 2010 ME WISHED SHE WERE.