Benny Blues

Benny Blues

When he gets kicked out of the space program, Benny can't risk protesting. He's lucky they're not reporting him; he is a Master Builder, after all. Benny tries not to cry and asks if he can keep his spacesuit. They give it to him, cracked helmet and all. He cries. Lenny cries too, after he walks out with him, and they spend a night holding each other and sobbing for the stars.

The other Master Builders ask him why he wears the suit all the time, but to Benny, it's obvious. Not only does it help with his dysphoria–it hides what he likes to call "unfortunate developments," and even before hormones, he was rarely misgendered while wearing it–but he's an astronaut first and everything else second. Even now, he can't quite keep his feet on the ground. Most of his days are spent in Cloud Cuckooland–it may still be within the confines of gravity, but at night, he can go outside and look up at the stars and imagine he's among them once more.

Lenny doesn't stay with him. There's an unspoken rule that you aren't allowed entry into Cloud Cuckooland if you're not a Master Builder. Still, Benny manages to sneak him in one night; didn't Unikitty say there were no rules? Lenny knows Benny's a Master Builder, and he knows Lord Business is the bad guy, so it's fine.

Joy lights up in Benny's heart as he watches Lenny looking around. "Whoa," he says softly. Benny loves how quiet Lenny is, how his natural volume is a whisper when he doesn't need to speak up. "All this was made by Master Builders…"

Benny laughs. "Who else? This is a Master Builder hideout! We can build whatever we want, here–like this!"

He can already see the pieces clicking together in his mind–Benny darts around and grabs the bricks he needs, building up the structure as fast as he can. Lenny sits down and watches; from this angle, the sunlight reflects off his helmet, so Benny can't see his expression, but why wouldn't he be smiling? He's Benny's boyfriend! And Benny's a Master Builder! And now Benny's building a spaceship for him!

Benny clicks the final piece into place and flops into the clouds next to Lenny. "Spaceship!" he says, gesturing at the spaceship.

Lenny turns his head away. Benny's smile disappears. "Is everything okay?" he asks. "I thought you'd like this."

"I do, I just…" Lenny shakes his head. "I miss space, that's all."

"Oh," Benny says. "Yeah, I… I miss it too."

"I wish they'd let you back," Lenny says. Benny can see his face, now, and he's not smiling. "It wasn't fair that they kicked you out just for being a Master Builder. That's–that's not fair, no matter what President Business says."

"I know," Benny says. "It… it really sucks." He puts an arm around Lenny's shoulders. "But it's not all bad! You're here! You didn't have to leave with me, but you did! And I'm happy you're here!"

Lenny still doesn't smile. He barely even looks at him. "Benny," he says, almost too quiet to hear, "there's something I need to tell you."

"Okay! What is it?"

He hesitates for a long moment. "They're letting me back into the space program," he finally says.

Benny blinks. "What? Why?"

Lenny digs his hand into the clouds. "They're not really involved in President Business' thing," he says, "they just… can't have Master Builders in the program, because it puts everyone in danger. But… they know I'm not a Master Builder. So they're letting me back in."

"But…" Benny looks up at the sky. It's still daytime, but the moon is visible, a thin crescent. He was on the moon, once. "Does that mean you're leaving?"

"You understand, right?" Lenny whispers. "Please understand. If you had the chance to go back… you would take it, right?"

"But I don't!" Benny's hand reaches up to the crack in his helmet, feeling the jagged edge. "I–I don't have a chance! I'm not ever going to get to go back, and–and I want to!"

"I'm sorry." The glare is reflecting off Lenny's helmet again. "I–I can't say no. I don't regret walking out with you, but I need to go back, now."

"You're really leaving," Benny says, more to himself than anyone else.

"Please, Benny, I need you to understand," says Lenny. "I'm not a Master Builder. I need to–even if I didn't go back to space, I need to work, earn a living, save up to transition, and… I can't not do that."

Benny doesn't say there are other options, because none of those options are space. He runs his hand through the clouds, over and over, and stays silent.

"Should I go?" Lenny asks.

No, Benny thinks. He should stay, and not go to space, and keep living the life of a Master Builder, on the run from Lord Business and the Super Secret Police, because Benny doesn't want to lose him.

"Yeah," Benny says. "I think so."

Lenny leaves. Benny builds another spaceship and tries to distract from his sadness. He thought he had healed from when he lost space, and now he's bleeding all over again.

He tries not to cry. It doesn't work.

A long time later, Master Builders aren't hunted anymore. Benny stays on the ground anyway–it doesn't hurt as much when he knows he could go back to space anytime he wanted. Probably. He hasn't really spoken to the people running the space program yet. He hasn't spoken to Lenny in over five years, which hurts, but Benny can deal with it.

He goes to space! Not entirely willingly, but he's in space again, and he has most of his friends–and General Mayhem seems nice, even if she kidnapped all of them. A girl with a spaceship can't be that bad.

"Benny, do you like spaceships?" Queen Watevra Wa'nabi asks, and Benny's pretty sure the Systar System is what he's been looking for his whole life.

Just before the wedding, the queen has Mayhem show Benny the spaceship planet. "We've had it set up for a while, but there was always something missing, you know?" Watevra says cheerfully. "I'm glad you're here now, Benny!"

Mayhem lets Benny pilot the spaceship for a little while, until he does too many loop-de-loops and starts going in the entirely wrong direction. "This way," she says, taking back control. "We don't have a lot of time."


They land the spaceship. Benny jumps out as soon as Mayhem opens the hatch. "Hi, everyone!" he shouts. "My name's Ben, but you can call me–"


He freezes.

Lenny drops the drill he was holding. "Benny," he says again. "How did you get here?"

"How did you get here?!" Benny yelps. "I didn't–I thought–"

"After Apocalypseburg, the space program was a mess. The Systar System stepped in and offered to sponsor it for us." Lenny shrugs. "Or something. We're here, now."

Benny looks around. He recognizes a few of the other astronauts, if only by the color of their suits. A grin spreads across his face.

"This is great!" Benny nearly tackles Lenny in his rush to get up close and starts chattering on and on. "It's been years! I'm so happy to see you! You look different, but you're still you! How are you? What have you been doing? Why aren't you smiling?"

Lenny shakes his head. "Benny, I thought…" He swallows hard and continues. "I thought you'd never want to see me again."

"What?" Benny frowns. "Yeah, I was upset at you leaving… but I missed you! A lot! And I got space back, so it's okay now!"

Overcome with emotion, he hugs Lenny close to him. The next moment, he lets go and stumbles back. "Oh, sorry, I guess you might not like me now, 'cause it's been years, and… and…"

Lenny smiles and hugs him back. "I missed you too, Benny," he says. "Do you think we could start over? Get to know each other again?"

"No way!" Benny says immediately. "I mean, we don't need to start over–I like all the time I spent with you, Lenny. I wouldn't give that up, ever!" He pauses. "We should probably catch up though. Maybe after the wedding?"

"The wedding which is soon," Mayhem comments from behind them, "and that we really shouldn't be late to."

"Oh! Right!" Benny hops backwards and does a full three-sixty spin on one foot. "Lenny, you should come with us!"

"Benny, all of Systar is going." Lenny laughs. "I'll see you at the reception."

"Okay!" Benny grins and waves. "Bye! I'll see you soon!"

He hops back in the spaceship and grabs at the controls again. Mayhem gives him a gentle reprimand and pilots it back herself. His grin doesn't go away. Lenny is here, they don't have to start over… nothing could possibly go wrong now.

Unless the wedding doesn't go through and Ourmomageddon sends everyone to the Bins of Stor-Age.

But that's not gonna happen.


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