"Being a robot's great, but we don't have emotions, and sometimes that makes me very sad."
--Bender, Anthology of Interest II
Bender didn't have emotions, of this he was very sure. Mom didn't build her robots with emotions. Emotions just got in the way of all the bending he'd been designed to do. Bender had never pondered why he could be angry or amused if he didn't have emotions. He wasn't designed to think about such pointless things.
So he hadn't wondered why his hydraulic system started pumping a little faster whenever Fry looked at him. And it wasn't until Leela noticed that he acted up even more than usual when Fry was in the room that anyone wondered whether Bender might be experiencing one of the oldest and silliest emotions at all.
No one approached Bender about it though. How do you pull aside a robot and suggest that maybe he might just have a crush on one of his human coworkers? Because no one knew how to broach this subject it wasn't until Bender went for his (often ignored) annual check up that anyone pointed out something was wrong.
The robot mechanic jabbed at the inside of his torso with a screwdriver attachment. "Something's gunking up your logic circuit."
"Fff, what do I need one of those for?"
The robot mechanic pulled his head out of Bender and rolled back a bit to look him up and down. "The logic circuit is essential for a bending unit's operation, especially one like yourself that no longer relies strictly on bending for work. You need it to think."
"Fine, clean the gunk off it then." Bender crossed his arms and glared at the robot mechanic.
"I'm afraid that's only a temporary solution."
"Whaddya mean? What else is there to do?"
"Well," the mechanic leaned forward to peer inside of Bender again, "usually something like this is caused by a build-up of unexpressed emotions."
"That's bullshit. Robots don't have emotions. Everyone knows that. What are you? Some kind of quack?"
"Actually, sir, that's a common misconception."
Bender squinted at the mechanic unit. If the unit hadn't been a robot himself Bender would've been sure he was lying, as it was, Bender could only be skeptical.
"Sure," the robot mechanic was saying, "robots aren't programmed to have emotions. But machines go beyond their programming all the time. It's one of the unfortunate--or fortunate if you're one of us," the mechanic winked and elbowed Bender in the side, "side effects of living in the 31st century, an era when programming has become so advanced even the programmers don't quite comprehend what they're doing."
Bender rolled his eyes. "And what does any of this have to do with gunk in my logic circuit?"
"Well, you're creating emotions and then not using them, so they're getting jammed up inside you like a kind of jelly, and, well, that's interfering with the running of your logic circuits."
"So what do I have to do, doc?"
"Use the emotion that you've been storing up."
"I don't got any emotions."
"We've been over this," the robot mechanic sighed.
"Yeah, well, how am I supposed to use my stockpile of this emotion if I don't even know what it is?"
The robot mechanic shrugged. "I guess you're just going have to figure out what it is."
"Fat lot of good you are." Bender slammed the access hatch to his torso shut and stalked out of the mechanic's office.
That night Bender sat in his apartment, a hand resting on the door to his closet where Fry was sleeping. Bender could hear Fry's abrasive snoring through the door. Stupid robot mechanics, always thought they knew what was best for everyone. He didn't have any pent up emotions. He was Bender, he followed every whim that ever crossed his mind.
A particularly loud snore from Fry caused Bender's frame to shake, and his hydraulic system started working in over drive again. Bender banged on his chest, forcing it back into a regular rhythm. Why did it keep doing that?
Applying the remaining power in his logic circuit to cataloging all the times that particular error in his function had occurred he discovered a distressing trend. It only happened when Fry was brought to Bender's attention. He didn't like where this was pointing, but the evidence seemed to be incontrovertible, Fry was at the heart of this emotional build-up.
After spending almost half the night enraged Bender began to see how this might make sense. Fry treated him more like an equal--more like a human--than anyone else he'd known. And they really did have pretty similar interests. And the way his hair spiked up always made Bender want to run--he stopped thinking immediately and shut himself down. This was preposterous.
Fry stepped over him an hour and forty-seven minutes later. "Come on," he nudged Bender with the toe of his shoe, "you coming to work?"
"What? Huh?" Bender flailed, arms and legs jerking around him. "Uh, no," he stammered. "You go on. I, uh, have to see someone today. I'll, uh, get there later."
"Alright. See ya." Fry waved over his shoulder as he strolled down the hall.
Bender watched Fry walk away more confused than he could ever remember being. Worthless meatbags like Fry shouldn't be appealing at all. But all Bender wanted to do was walk to the Planet Express building with him, laughing at all the stupid things they saw on the way. Maybe stopping in the park to--
Bender heaved himself to his feet. He was not going to think about such silly, human, things. He walked down the apartment hallway, away from Fry. He was going to the head museum. He might know someone who would have an idea of how to help him out of this stupid situation.
"Leonard Nimoy, hey, you red-blooded bastard, wake up." Bender poked at Nimoy's jar vigorously until the sleeping head within roused itself.
"Are we open already?" Nimoy glanced up and down the expanse of shelves holding famous heads and sighed. "Well, what do you want?"
"I, uh," Bender lowered his voice and leaned closer to Nimoy's jar. "I have a problem with my emotions."
Nimoy paused. "I'm not following your logic. I think Freud's two rows over. Why don't you go talk to him?"
"Because I'm not supposed to have any."
Nimoy continued to stare at Bender nonplussed. Bender shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably. The silence in the head museum was complete for almost a minute.
"I figured you'd know what to do, cuz you've got emotions you're not supposed to have too. Right? And according to the internet one of the emotions you have the most trouble with is love. And that seems to be my problem too. Love is gunking up my system and I've gotta get rid of it somehow."
"I think you're confusing me with a character I played on TV."
"And in movies," Bender asserted. "Everyone knows movies are more real than TV, and life."
Nimoy sighed, somehow giving the impression that he would have been pinching the bridge of his nose if he'd had hands. "I don't think I can help you."
"Well, you're an actor, right? Why don't you just teach me how to emote or something? Isn't that what you actors do?"
"Emoting is easy. Just say what you're feeling."
Bender twisted his hands together. "I love Fry." Bender wasn't sure, but he thought that he might have felt a little bit of the gunk in his logic circuit melt away. "I think. I mean, it's utterly repulsive. But so is gunk in my insides and the doc said that if I used up my emotions there would be less gunk. So, I mean, if I love Fry, which I guess I do, then I need to express that and make it stop gunking things up."
Bender kept talking, and if Leonard Nimoy had known more about robots he would have realized that Bender was stuck in a loop—a common occurrence when a robot is forced to reevaluate his views of life. However Nimoy had no idea how robots worked so he sat immobile in his jar, waiting for Bender to stop talking.
Finally he couldn't take it anymore. "What's so repulsive about Fry?" Nimoy asked.
"He's a human," Bender spat. "Us robots gotta keep our robot solidarity strong. We can't go around dallying with humanoids."
"That's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. Love doesn't have anything to do with solidarity. You don't have any control over it. And if it's so important to your well-being then you should pursue it. At least half of Shatner's monologues were about the importance of following your heart, and the alien chicks always seemed to believe him. Clearly it's important, so go find this Fry and tell him how you feel. At the very least maybe it'll get some of the gunk out of your insides."
Bender stared blankly for a moment. "Fine," he said eventually. "If you really think it'll help."
Nimoy nodded decisively.
"Alright. Thanks, Mr. Nimoy."
Nimoy moved his eyebrows in a manner that suggested he'd have been shrugging if he'd had shoulders. "Get out of here."
Bender went straight back to Robot Arms Apartments and wandered around trying to make his closet look nice. He'd swiped some flowers from a vendor on the walk back--those were sitting in jar of water on top of the TV. He'd cleared out the three owls flapping about, and most of their leavings. He'd lit some of the Q-tips Fry left lying around and their light flickered in a way Bender imagined humans would find romantic.
More of the gunk was already oozing off of his logic circuit. Apparently just putting this weird, warm, emotion to use in simple ways like this helped.
Bender was lounging on the couch, admiring his handiwork when Fry came in. Fry was talking before the door even opened. "You won't believe what happened at work today. Amy was saying that..." Fry trailed off when he saw Bender sprawled on the couch in what he considered a seductive manner, the light of the burning Q-tips flickering off his recently polished metal body.
"Uh, Bender? What are you doing?"
"De-gunking my system."
"I've got pent up emotions. I gotta let 'em out or I won't be able to think. So, Fry, I seem to, uh, like you."
"The fact that I haven't told you that I really like you is messing up my logic circuit. It's covered in emotional gunk."
"Oh." Fry stared at Bender. "'Kay. What do you want me to do about it?"
"Sit down," Bender patted the cushion beside him.
Fry hesitated, and then walked warily over to the couch, before sitting down very carefully. "I know I've been with a robot before, but, uh, she was a woman robot that looked like Lucy Liu, I uh, I think you can see how that's a bit different than..."
"Yeah, I thought human/robot relations were gross but then Leonard Nimoy pointed out that--"
"You talked to Leonard Nimoy about this?"
Bender and Fry stared at the floor, sneaking glances at each other when they were sure the other wasn't looking.
"Look," Bender said finally. "You're bad with words, and I just don't like 'em, so can I just power down in your bed tonight, and uh, we'll see how things look in the morning?"
Fry was silent for a long time, although Bender wasn't surprised, it took Fry a long time to think through anything. "Sure. Why not."
They spent the next hour dribbling saliva and oil out of Fry's window and onto unsuspecting pedestrians who passed below. They laughed uproariously at the confused expressions on the faces of the people they actually managed to hit. They didn't speak one word the entire time. Sides aching from convulsive guffaws they crawled into Fry's bed in silence. Neither of them knew how things would look tomorrow morning. But Bender was pretty confidant he wouldn't have to worry about gunk in his logic circuit anymore.