Obtaining scholarships was mostly painless. With Bender’s stellar test scores and his status as a self made orphan, thousands of dollars flocked to him without him having to do so much as lift a finger. His second plan-Law School Limbo, as he called it-had gone off without a hitch. It was not that he had much of a desire to be a lawyer, though he looked forward to the free champagne, but rather a firm belief in his personal freedom that motivated Bender. Prison did not fit into his life story, and anything could be sacrificed to avoid it.
A fantastic lie, thought Bender. He would build his life from a fantastic lie. “And it’ll be fucking awesome!” He leaned back in his chair, putting his arms behind his head, grinning from ear to ear. His life started now.
“See ya, Blair!” he called, grinning. “And Berkley, too, I guess!”
As her brother descended the front steps and into the beginning of the rest of his life, Berkley felt a sharp pang in her chest. Yes, she’d escaped years of verbal abuse and it’d only cost a measly college tuition, but the household felt so empty now. She had never been close with Blair (and thought her to be boring as a fish floating to the top of its bowl), and Monk and Loki could only bring her so far in her quest for human interaction. “I’ll think of something,” she sighed, running her fingers through her hair. Boredom could only satisfy her for so long.
The drive had taken all night, but Bender arrived to Sim State’s campus wide awake. In the space of an excessively long car ride, his goals had gone from beyond the stars to within the reach of his eager fingertips. He had only one, major problem.
He was hopelessly, pitifully poor. And Bender, while he hated to be many things, hated this the most.
With this sad fact in mind, he dialed the college board.
“I’d like to apply for a charter,” he gulped, “to be a Greek House. Your roommates help pay rent, right?”
“Aren’t you a freshman?” sneered the voice over the phone. “Freshies can’t apply for charters. You’re still new meat.”
“I have twenty dollars,” Bender snapped.
“Doesn’t change what year you’re in, honey.”
“My parents are dead,” snapped Bender, “and my name is Bender fucking Belue. Heard of me?”
“Oh, yes. So terribly sorry about your loss. We’ll have that charter right over!”
Being an orphan had never been so great.
His next stop was the gym. There were sure to be eligible fraternity members there, and he could take care of other business, as well. While law school was a necessary goal, his other ambitions were far more personal. “Once I’m stronger,” muttered Bender, “I’m going to make me one motherfucking robot, and it’ll be the best bartender Pleasantview’ll ever see. And if it ever goes crazy and stuff, I have to be strong, because I’m going to take it down like a lady of the evening, like that song says and shit.”
It seemed a very noble aspiration.
“Say,” said one ginger twin to the other, “does this gym have uniforms?”
“Ya know, Fred, I’m not sure,” replied the twin on the left. “Say, who’s that guy muttering to himself?”
“I saw him on the news once; he had a bizzaro name. Bender Belue or something like that.”
“Shut up!” Bender hissed. “Think my name’s funny, do you? No need to ask yours. Red hair and a hand me down robe? You must be a-!”
“Fuck off, you slimy bastard, we’ve heard that one before.”
Bender slipped, swearing under his breath. A chorus of laughs celebrated his fall. He really could use a drink. And some new clothes, thought Bender. His young adult khakis were very uncomfortable, and he was sure the douche bag look wouldn’t be winning him any new frat members.
He’d really missed his childhood sweater. While it was a pain in the ass during the summer, it was very comfortable. And in an odd, uncomfortably sentimental way, it reminded Bender of his father, who had not dropped him as a baby. And so he was left with hardly one hundred dollars, but armed with a grey, cotton sweater, which he saw was made in China. Did they even have booze in China? Bender wondered as he turned to leave. Nah, he decided, probably not, and if they did, it was probably rice beer or some weird crap like that. In a rare moment, he felt sorry for the poor Chinese, and wished that someday, they would be blessed with a can of cold, quality beer.
Woah, the gym is full of soulless people. The place is seriously teeming with gingers.
Bender whipped around, and his constant, meandering thoughts came to a pause.
“I’m Starla,” she said, shifting her weight uncomfortably. “Um, why are you looking at me like that?”
Bender had never seen a woman quite like her before. She appeared driven, a quality Bender admired, and possessed brown hair, something Bender wished to see more of in his predominantly blond family. He only hoped she knew how to make a good drink.
“Just admiring the scenery,” said Bender. It was strange, thinking of a woman like this. Perhaps she was an exception to the road whores and soccer mom bitches. A double bolt coursed through him just looking at her. That had to mean something, right?
“My scenery?” blushed Starla.
Bender dug through his memories, trying to remember how his father had snared his mother. Nothing came to mind, and so he decided, tentatively, to wing it. “The only scenery in the room,” said Bender, stepping forward.
“Wow,” she smiled. “Listen, I’ve got to head, um, to the treadmills and all. Here’s my number. Call me later?”
Oh god, Bender, what have you got yourself into?
He rushed home, rapidly dialing a familiar number.
“Bender?” asked Blair, sneezing. The flu had been going around the house again, and Berkley was marooned in bed, slightly worse off than her older sister.
“Listen, listen, fucking listen!” Bender shouted. “You have experience with girls! You can help me!”
“Oh god.” Blair winced.
“Can you come to my new place?” Bender asked. “You can even bring that dumb bitch, Berkley, if you have to.”
Blair sighed. “Just for you, Bender. I’ll be right over.”
Within an hour, the doorbell rang.
“I feel so young,” mumbled Blair, glancing back at Berkley, who stood at the edge of the lawn, shuffling nervously. How had her younger brother grown up so fast?
“Come on in!” Bender called.
“You’re so fucking short!” Bender exclaimed.
“Time’s a bitch, isn’t it?” smiled Blair. “How’s college?”
“Oh, you know, binge drinking and Adventure Time marathons. Not so different from elementary school.”
Breaking away from the hug, Bender decided it was time to acknowledge his less fortunate twin.
“So I’m thinking-!” began Berkley.
“Cool, really fucking cool,” said Bender. He’d play nice today, he decided, just since he hadn’t seen her in a few months.
Berkley sighed and stepped outside. She’d never find an opportunity to ask him. Bender wouldn’t listen to a damn word she’d say, anyway. She would have to take him by surprise another day.
“I’m going to head home,” said Berkley. “I’m not feeling so hot.”
“Thank fuck,” said Bender, waving goodbye. “So long!”
“Whatever,” Berkley snapped, turning on heel and briskly walking away.
“Hey, Blair,” Bender called to his older sister, standing on his porch, “want to play catch?”
“So I met this girl,” Bender started, tossing the ball clumsily, “and she seems really fucking great.”
“What’d she do?” Blair laughed. “Mop your floors? Give you a blow job?”
“Er, neither, and that’s why I don’t know what to do. Do I call her up? Make her drink? Hell, she should make me a drink! What am I even talking about?”
“Wow, you’re really in a funk over this. Call her up,” said Blair gently. “Take her out to eat, and then back to your place. If you’re serious, ask her to be your girlfriend. If she says no, don’t bother. If she says no, but keeps trying to get you, tell her to fuck off. Then she’s not worth it.”
“And if she can’t make a good drink?”
“Drinks aren’t what’s important,” Blair laughed. “I wish I could be in college. You’re not failing out of school and don’t have confusing a siren of mixed signals on your ass. You have it so easy.”
“Bullshit!” Bender scowled. “Drinks are the most important thing about a woman!”
The next morning, he decided to follow Blair’s advice. The diner seemed like an affordable place-ugh, affordable! How he hated to classify things by their price tag!-and so he invited Starla to lunch there.
“So tell me about yourself,” said Bender. “What’s your favorite beer?”
“I’m more of a vodka girl, myself,” replied Starla.
Bender raised his eyebrow. “Classy as fuck, are you?”
“Er, yeah,” said Starla. “I guess you could put it that way.”
“Hey, can we get some vodka over here?” Bender asked the waitress, winking at Starla. This flirting business was becoming more natural to him, though he still had a bitter distaste for most women. Was Starla even that special? he wondered. Disturbed, a cold chill ran through him. Perhaps she was only typical. Even worse, perhaps he was typical.
Nah, there was no fucking way he could be typical. To prove this, he proposed a toast.
“To freedom!” Bender said. “Fucking freedom! And vodka! Fucking vodka!”
“I like freedom,” said Starla, taking a sip. “And vodka.”
“I could do this all day,” Bender quipped. He cocked his head to the side, noticing his date fidgeting and glancing from side to side. “What’s up?”
“Hey,” said Starla slowly, “let’s go back to your place.”
“Sure,” swallowed Bender. While he knew what this implied, he was not quite sure whether he was ready. He’d never even kissed a girl, let alone slept with one. He didn’t even like them that much.
The drive home was silent, on the verge of awkward. For once in his life, Bender could think of nothing to say. The prospects ahead were foreign, daunting. As they stepped out of the taxi, Starla pulled him to the side; her breath tickled his ear. Bender shivered.
“I know I haven’t said much,” she whispered, “but I want to do things with you. Dirty haven’t showered in a week sort of things.”
“I’m a very clean person, actually,” replied Bender, voice perpetually loud.
“We’ll work on that,” she pulled him closer, closer, closer..
Their kissing became frenzied, almost desperate. She was harsh, sloppy, almost punishing; her tongue was a probe, exploring his mouth as if it were a fabled cavern. Bender coughed, pulling away. “Shit,” he breathed. Exhilaration. If not for the act, then for her.
“I’ll make you a drink,” Starla said, winking.
“AWH HELL YEAH!” He pumped his fist in the air, and followed her into his house.
Maybe girls weren’t so bad, after all.
While Bender received an education in the finer arts, his phone rang off the hook. Once, twice, eight times. Finally, a mournful dial tone sounded, sending a shiver through his caller’s spine. “Shit,” she said under her breath. “I’ll have to find him in person.”
“I hope you’re ready, Bender Belue,” Berkley said. “I’m not your chew toy anymore.”
As the clock struck nine, Bender leaped from the couch, leaving Starla with a cold beer and an above average hickey. “Shit!” he hissed, glancing at the clock. “Finals!”
As he ran to the finals, he felt not a worry in the world. “I’m going to do just fine,” he smiled. “Just fucking fine.”
A/N: Aaaaand he made it. Don’t worry!
So I decided I’m going to put my little comments at the end, rather than at the beginning. Is it weird that my writing soundtrack has become an awkward blend of Lou Reed and Pomplamoose? I don’t even know how that works, but for some reason, it keeps me going.
Strangely, I cut a lot of things from this chapter. Some will come into play later, some were alluded to, but some I may just have to mention here. Monk aged up, and is so cute! (:
Bridget is one scary ass ghost, isn’t she? That is the most menacing lamp I’ve ever seen.