first things first. these guys actually like each other. this is a key aspect of their relationship. benrey, obviously and textually, digs gordon freeman - you dont flirt that heavily with guys you arent into, and so much of what he says and does is geared around making gordon crack up. thats pretty gay.
but the counterpart to this is that gordon freemans pretty fucking gay for benrey, too. you may say, “oh, but word of god says its not requited!” and to you i will say: bull shit. gordon is uniquely obsessed with benrey compared to all the other characters. if gordon didnt like the fucking guy, he wouldnt giggle with him and share in-jokes with him and bring him up every 5 seconds when benreys not around. thats concern, bro. thats worry. thats real shit
but i cant blame people for thinking that gordon freeman genuinely doesnt like benrey. benreys partially responsible for some of the worst things that have happened to him, the Arm Thing among them. and gordons very insistent afterward that he doesnt like benrey. he even goes so far as to try to kill benrey a couple times. to this, i must argue that gordon freeman is just kind of a dick.
lets talk facts here. canon. Lore. from the moment we hop into gordons shoes, we can see that he is a jerk to every npc on his way into black mesa. this is his default: a dude who just runs his mouth and says rude shit. he calls tommy a freak within 5 minutes of meeting him. he infantilizes the guy and barely considers him a real scientist. he doubts that bubby is a real name for like no fuckin reason. in “real life”, this is because its funny, and wayne is trying to make a funny half-life stream. in a textual sense, this is because gordon “hlvrai” freeman is a dick. this is the way he acts, consistently, throughout the series.
(brief aside: this is why the whole “gordon is a nice guy and a great dad” characterization baffles me. the way he actually acts in canon is, in short, bitchy and lacking in self-awareness. and i love that for him, i really do. it makes the moments where he just tries to be a nice guy stand out. but thats the thing: his intermittent moments of decency and kindness are not the whole of his personality! this dude kind of sucks most of the time!)
the way that gordons general asshole attitude extends to benrey is complicated. in fairness, benrey makes it his job to annoy the shit out of gordon as much as possible, and that warrants a negative attitude, but gordons pretty paranoid and ends up blaming benrey for nearly everything that happens to him, regardless of if its warranted. this is a pattern he exhibits both before and after the Arm Thing. its a little bit of a dick move! especially considering that, prior to the whole “betrayal” subplot (which was not exactly planned very far in advance), benrey is no more malicious or annoying than anybody else gordons having to travel with.
(okay, this is kind of a subjective evaluation, but still. my point stands that benrey is not any more of a hindrance to his progress than anybody else in the science crew, and neither is he particularly more violent or murderous. hell, gordon freeman has probably killed more guys than benrey. benrey just tends to get.......special treatment.)
all that said, i am still convinced that gordon really fucking likes benrey. please consider with me the following: it would be remarkably easy for gordon to just ignore him and do what he has to do, but he doesnt. he could stop engaging. he could stop thinking about benrey. he could stop bringing benrey up to the rest of the crew every time benrey leaves to do his own thing for awhile. but he doesnt. and, again, yeah, the extra-textual reason for this is “two guys are doing an improv comedy thing and bouncing off of scorpy is kind of the point”, but within the text it reads to me as gordon not being about to get the dude off his mind.
and this is in addition to all the times we see gordon being genuinely nice and receptive toward benrey! its in the little things: laughing the hardest and longest at benreys jokes. only ever reciprocating that stupid underwater “BBBBB” thing with benrey. trying to catch benrey when he falls, despite his insistence moments earlier that benrey should hop in the wack ass crystal generator and get hypermurdered. fondly remarking that benreys sweet voice sounds beautiful. his sort of flustered responses to most of benreys overt flirting. none of this is the way normal people react to a guy they hate. this is all fuckin gay to me, man.
its this combination of the outward insistence that gordon hates benrey with his inner eagerness to be around him and think about him and engage with him that gives off strong “repression” vibes, to me. for whatever reason - pride, embarrassment, resentment - gordon maintains a front of hating the guy and wanting to kill him for a lot of the series, but it doesnt gel with the way he fucking giggles and plays along half the time that benrey starts fucking with him. its a game, and that game is one of the only ways gordon knows to manifest affection for him.
(remember “oh my god, hes got a knife!”? that was the gayest shit i ever seen in my life. tittering like a schoolgirl while benrey chases him around like “im gonna get you haha”. insanity.)
the cool thing about repression is that you can have it manifest in a lot of ways! and this is where things like “headcanons” and “my own personal affection for repressed bisexual men” come in. a lot of how i characterize their relationship is an extrapolation of a lot of things like gordons canonical insecurity issues/anxiety, gordons whole anti-bootboy thing screaming “internet wokeboy who means well but probably has a lot of repressed baggage” to me, etc.
how do you get massive amounts of sexual repression out of what you see in canon, you might ask? well. if wayne would stop having gordon talking about being jerked off by the suit, or talking about chugging a 40-gal drum of potion and having to hold his piss, or worrying about being eaten by benrey the moment he sees benrey at setscale 10, maybe i would have a higher opinion of gordon “hlvrai” freeman and whatever latent psychosexual issues hes got going on. but here we are
i havent even touched yet upon how benrey feels about gordon. this one is helpfully made a little more plain by the fact that benrey very much wants to suck his dick in canon. (i dont even have to go into details. we all know.) but IMO the best part about this ship isnt just that they dig each other, but how. benrey gets overtly flirtatious in the second half of the series, but IMO his preferred method of flirting is just fucking with gordon: chasing him with knives, shoving him around in a bathroom, trying to get scans of his feet. but all in like a slapstick, giggly, fun-and-games sense, you know? at least when it works.
a lot of the time, though, it doesnt work out that way. he clearly just likes doing it whether or not gordon responds positively. which is, you know, Weird. not very nice. but also in line with the way everybody else treats gordon freeman. gordons kind of the universes chew toy in any given universe, and the same holds true here. hes kind of helpless......subjected to 4 demons attempting to make his life as difficult as possible. in a way its cathartic.
sorry. i got sidetracked. anyway, benrey very much likes to mess with him and unnerve him and demean him and i will be perfectly frank with you: that is hot. i have problems and illnesses and one of them is that i am a masochist who goes crazy for that kind of thing. calling gordon a “dirty lil boy” and telling him to “look at the mess [he] made” is some straight up kink scene shit.
i like to imagine that a lot of this behavior isnt caused just by the guy who played him wanting to be funny and antagonistic, but by benrey as a character not really understanding what constitutes “pushing a joke too far”. hes not human, and whatever he is doesnt have a very normative way of understanding the world around him, full of people who actually get hurt for real and die for real. benrey expresses what seems to be genuine surprise and distress after the Arm Thing, as if he didnt know that his actions would have serious consequences. and it doesnt seem to fully sink in afterward, either.
it reads a lot to me like hes used to video game rules and treating people around him like NPCs. if they get hurt, its no big deal, because its not real. he likes jamming random buttons on gordons interface and seeing what comes out. its probably a lot of fun for him, the same way that seeing a streamer or a youtuber suffer for our amusement is fun. its like, you know, in my opinion, gordons very cute when hes frazzled. hes also cute when hes laughing. pushing gordons buttons has a 50/50 chance of either of these things. and this is how he ultimately flirts with gordon: by pulling his pigtails.
but at the same time, benrey does legit care about gordon and knows some boundaries. benreys the one most often shooting at enemies to protect gordon, and he spent most of the last act trying to convince gordon to turn around and not fight him because they were friends (best friends, to be specific). he just lacks a lot of the emotional intelligence it would take to express the feeling of “he digs gordon and likes seeing his face get all red and sweaty regardless of the cause”. and gordon lacks the emotional intelligence it would take to express the fact that he doesnt know if he likes or hates benrey and hes scared as hell that its the former
because, lets be real. unironic benrey-liking is a sign of problems disorder. just look at all these words ive written about it.
can you imagine? this bizarrely powerful, non-human entity that can shrug off gunfire and grow to the size of a building has decided that youre his new plaything. benreys the bored guy booting up skyrim and fucking around in the console, and gordons the hapless favorite follower that hes taken a liking to. its a really fun dynamic IMO
after all this, its safe to say my title is a little misleading. the asterisk stands for * and So Is Benrey, Actually. they are both kind of awful dudes who thrive off of teasing each other and they deserve each other. and i am crazy about it. thank u for coming to my TED talk
the first thing is, obv, watching the series. i have to include this one b/c i feel like quite a few ppl in this fandom.....like.....havent. there is a certain way of characterizing him as an Epic Mischievous Gamer that is, uhhh, very much a fanon thing that ppl see on tumblr and imitate and flanderize all to hell. but, like, im an obsessive little weirdo who will rewatch things over and over again to take notes on characters’ behavior and dialogue and i really gotta recommend just sitting back and listening to how benrey talks.
hes not dropping gamer references constantly. hes not making every single sentence out of his mouth some obnoxious quip. hes slow on the uptake and drops conversations entirely if he doesnt care about them. he has never once said “cringe” before and whenever i see a fic that has him doing it multiple times i feel minutes shaved off of my lifespan. the #1 tip i can give here is to not have benrey talking in fucking 2010s gamer lingo every time he opens his mouth. please
(i feel partially responsible for the spread of this kind of characterization. my first 2 fics have him doing stuff like that every once in awhile. sometimes i debate going back and changing them, but like, benrey saying “poggers” one time aside, i think they hold up pretty good. so i havent. something something historical accuracy)
the more i wrote about him, the more i tried digging into the aspects of his character that i found the most appealing. some people are really into his polite side. i am really into his bullying side. so i would watch the bits where benrey really has his “gordon bullying” mode cranked up to 11 and make note of how he acts, how he talks. trying to replicate it. “benrey saying epic random shit to piss gordon off” is much less his vibe than, like, demeaning gordon, and i feel like the bathroom skit is the ultimate manifestation of this. it is genuinely my favorite bit in the whole series b/c its so ideally representative of their weird-ass dynamic. this fuckin high school bullying LARP in the middle of a public restroom. god in heaven
the less you lean on the crutches of “gamer lingo” and “wacky non-sequitur”, the more it forces you to think about how he behaves. what motivates him. and generally, like, he operates on his own wavelength. he doesnt fully understand everything thats going on around him and selectively chooses what he tunes into. and, most importantly, he just wants to play games, man. benrey likes goofing off with the science crew and playing mind games with gordon. he fails to understand the gravity of his actions a lot of the time b/c hes not human, and hes not operating under the same social guidelines.
(this is the part where people like to speculate exactly what kind of non-human he is, and i think this can be helpful for setting up his motivations! me, personally, i am of the opinion that hes just a video game guy made real. kind of like a live-action cartoon character. so hes operating on video game logic a lot of the time, and doesnt grasp that consequences for actions are different for normal people who cant noclip or respawn. a kind of lack of empathy that manifests in him being capricious, indifferent, detached......purely oriented around “getting his job done” and “chilling” and, naturally, “fucking with gordon freeman“.)
ultimately it boils down to distilling just what i like out of their interactions and trying to Manifest it repeatedly. i go crazy about their actual canon interactions and i want to write things that hit the notes i like: two guys who are mutually kind of obsessed with one another, for better or worse, and engage in a lot of play fighting (and, you know, genuine fighting, too) as a sublimation of it. best frenemies, if you will.
i think that a lot of the problems people have in writing benrey is that they kinda just project whatever attributes they want in a lover onto him. like, man, i like cute shit as much as the next guy, but do you really think that the dude who bullies gordon freeman while hes having a panic attack is gonna tenderly stroke gordons hair and wipe his tears and tell him that everythings gonna be okay? no, dude. even when benrey expresses any kind of concern, he does it in a way that communicates that he doesnt understand the gravity of whats going on and he doesnt “get” why gordons lying on the ground yelling, or why gordons howling in pain after getting his arm cut off. he is not an empathetic guy. hes actually kind of a creep!!! a lil freakjob! the weirdness and the lack of humanity are what make him hot!!!!
and this is what makes it own so hard on the rare occasions he does show empathy! its the same reason why its so cute when gordon stops bitching for 0.5 seconds and tries to be nice! theyre earned moments, not character defaults. and cutesy/lovey-dovey shit with these two is definitely doable, but i would love to see more of it take into account the fact that these are two dudes who fucking suck and who especially suck at being emotionally open with each other.
as far as characterizations that i really like........okay. full disclosure. the biggest reason ive been losing my shit over the catmaid freemind fic is b/c the author is one of the few people who really taps in to what i like about benrey, and what i like about his relationship with gordon. hes teasing. he likes to use his perceived authority to bully people. hes weirdly protective of gordon. but hes also just, like, a chill dude who wants to play video games. and he legit likes gordon and expresses affection for him in some of the most in-character ways ive ever seen
like. deliberately spilling milk on the couch and flatly going like “oops.” b/c he wants gordon to sleep in his room......playing nurse by doing fuck-all apart from giving gordon powerade while hes sick and keeping the volume on his video games low......kicking barmey under the table for making fun of gordon being dogboyed.......it is all exceptionally cute shit and its delightfully in-character. i feel so bad for the author b/c im a frenrey head and i am primarily reading it for those two. but god they do it so well.......im hooked. im obsessed
the first thing i need to communicate about gordon is that this dude sucks. and i say this in the fondest way possible. he is a bitch from the moment he drops into the world until the moment he goes out. if you dont believe me, give it another watch! gordons mouthy and rude for no real reason, at least so far as “being a regular dude on his way into work” goes, and this dude goes around calling his coworkers names with zero provocation. (of course, we all know that the reason is because its a funny guy improv stream that borrows a bit from freemans mind, but im talkin from a character sense.)
but my argument isnt just that gordon freeman sucks. its that he sucks in a very specific way that i find insanely endearing. i love this dude. i love to hate him. hes awful in a very mundane sense - weve all known a guy like this, at least if youve spent too much time online - and its cathartic to watch him suffer because of it.
gordons a smart guy. as written, hes gotta be - hes a recent MIT grad, on his way to work at a top-secret research facility to do weird shit with crystals and theoretical physics. but the thing about smart guys is that theyre often......selectively intelligent. we can see this in the way that he has a hard time navigating his surroundings, and needs the science crew to guide him through it and keep him alive.
this is one of those things that is a natural consequence of somebody going through the game for the first time, but that i am interpreting as “gordon is kind of stupid sometimes”. its uncharitable but its not like he doesnt deserve it. he likes to boss around the crew as if he knows what hes doing, when he often very much does not, and is fond of demeaning their intelligence. hes real bad about this with tommy in particular, treating him like hes a kid whos playing at being a scientist when tommy is actually a decade older than him. all i am saying is that gordon ought to stay humble. hes awful cocky when he perceives himself as better than others.
which, i think, tracks with how cocky he gets when he gives up on the whole “well-meaning citizen” thing and just unloads bullets into people. he puts up a front of being a Nice Guy, you know, just some dude caught in a bad situation who doesnt like seeing his companions obliterate every NPC they come across, but that doesnt stop him from cackling like a fucking madman and mowing down aliens (and soldiers) every once in awhile. when he stops seeing himself as helpless and starts seeing himself as the one in control, the gloves come off. he gets mean. and i think thats very sexy of him
this, among other things, is why i am insistent that gordon freeman is a control freak. he desperately wants to be in control of the situation at all times, shepherding around the science crew primarily by bitching at them, but its of limited success. its futile. sisyphean. tommy, coomer, bubby, and benrey exist almost to torment him with exactly the thing that would make him suffer the most: a gaggle of people running around causing problems for him, but he cant go anywhere without them b/c hes reliant on them to make it out alive.
its perpetual suffering, and its cathartic to watch. and funny, too. and if youre a little weirdo like me, its very, very enjoyable. how twisted up he gets when nobodys listening to him! how sweaty and frazzled he must look. its cute, and it also makes me want to reach through the screen and shake him and tell him to just be a little nicer. he wants control but he doesnt know how to attain it, he doesnt know how to play nice like a real leader. i think its a neat contrast to gordon freeman as we know him in HL2, where he literally is the leader of the resistance and has to live up to it. this is gordon freeman but if he was moe through helplessness.
“helpless” is, i think, a great way to describe him. a core bit of imagery in half life is this sense of railroadedness and helplessness, with gordon freeman being put into play like a chess piece and having no choice but to move forward. and this iteration of gordon leans into that by being totally dependent on the science crew in order to make progress and Not Die. and hes also subject to the whims of benrey, local eldritch weirdo who has basically made it his life mission to fuck with gordon.
gordons anxieties dont help with that. if he wasnt so fun to stress out and fuck with, the science crew probably wouldnt do it so much! too bad for him that they like fucking with him so much that he was driven into a panic attack (multiple times, even, depending on your interpretation). hes got that real neurotic mindset. always worrying about shit that could go wrong, and attempting to exert control over his surroundings in an effort to control the anxiety.
IMO the real way to nail the Neurotic Gordon Freeman Experience is to combine the ever-present anxiety with his pervasive sense of self-loathing. he openly states that he has no friends and nobody seems to like him, and to that, i really gotta say, i wonder why. he doesnt really seem to factor in that hes kind of a bitch, and has way too high an estimation of his own intelligence relative to everybody elses. its really one of the worst ways to be: aware that people dont like you, but unaware of exactly why. if he was like, 10% nicer, he probably wouldnt have had half as many issues getting through black mesa, but also, its funny to see him squawking his way through the game. so, you know.
its stuff like that that makes me headcanon him as a dude with low self-esteem in general. convinced that hes not likable, not attractive, out of his element......impostor syndrome, except that theres some truth to it. this is a guy who truly does not realize how good he has it: he really is just an average shitty dude, and yet, somehow, benrey took a shine to him. some poor motherfucker out there actually likes him and wants to suck his dick. thats dedication
also, i keep bringing up “repression” when i talk about gordon. and hopefully, what ive been talking about helps explain why. he has a strong desire to be a regular dude, not just murdering his way through black mesa, but if hes pushed hard enough he leans into it. gets bossy. picks up a cigar off a dead soldier and takes a long drag, before smacking forzen around with a pistol and ordering him around. gordon freeman is a regular, kind of anxious guy who likes competitive swimming and streaming on justin.tv and making anime references, and he is also a guy who takes a filthy pleasure in making a trained soldier his bitch. and i didnt make up any of this shit - this is purestrain canon, baby. this is a guy with problems
to me, this screams the kind of guy who represses a lot of shit b/c he doesnt feel like its morally decent. you run into this guy a lot online: the wokeboy, the online leftist, the guy who spends too much time on social media websites. (like reddit. i think he would actively use reddit and he would never get any appreciable amount of karma but he never stops posting. its sisyphean! cathartic.) from the way he talks about “bootboys”, i think it tracks. he knows about imperialism, he knows about feminism, but at the end of the day hes your average american white dude who struggles with internalizing it.
a lot of those dudes struggle with sex and gender issues. (dont we all.) when youre trying to be a Good Person(tm), you spend a lot of time thinking about your own relationship to sex and kink and all that shit. and i maintain that a too-online dude who buries a lot of his control freak tendencies would also try to bury a lot of weird sexual shit in an attempt to seem Normal and Well-Adjusted and not like a little freak. i justify this by the sheer number of times gordon blurts out weird sex shit as a joke. there are only two outcomes to making that many piss jokes: either youre secretly a piss guy, or you lathe-of-heaven yourself into becoming one. i will stand by this
ive talked a lot about why this dude sucks. now, let me talk to you about what makes gordon so much fun to write. first things first: hes funny! a subjective evaluation, yeah, but both in- and out-of-character, hes aiming to be funny. and being the straight man to everybody else plays into that whole “helplessness” thing.
secondly: underneath it all, there is a good dude under there. gordon worries when his companions get hurt, he tries to clean them off and patch them up, and hes got his lil leftist heart in the right place. you could even read a lot of his bossy, bitchy demeanor as him wanting to make sure everyone gets out okay and doesnt hurt themselves. when it comes to animals and anti-imperialist sentiment, gordons a pretty good guy.
hes the kind of guy who would probably see a dog on the street and get excited and play with it, but would get really prickly about the correct way to put dishes in the dishwasher. control freak tendencies.
finally, subjecting such a miserable, tormented guy to even more psychological anguish is really, really fun. you feel a little bad for him, but he kind of deserves it. so many problems he goes through are purely of his own making, and if gordon would just relax and quit trying to hard to maintain control - of himself, of the people around him - and own up to having Problems and Issues, he would be a happier guy. but thats why its fun to bend him until he breaks. being a little control freak myself, putting gordon freeman thru psychosexual torment is cathartic.
when it comes to writing his thought processes, the fact that he is canonically some kind of psychotic (yes, i am boldly claiming this. suck me) and i am also canonically some kind of psychotic makes it easier to write what i think his thought processes are. i just give him my brain issues of “getting lost in thought” and “overthinking fucking everything”. a touch of paranoia helps. even if i dont explicitly label him as schizophrenic please know that i am writing him as a paranoid little nutcase at all times because, uh, you write what you know.
paranoid. anxious. of the mindset that everyones out to get him (which isnt helpful when everyone is out to get him). repressed and deeply Not Normal but trying so very fucking hard to be normal and well-adjusted. a control freak with sadistic tendencies who also really, really likes getting bullied by his best frenemy. a hapless little nerd who sounds really cute when his voice starts to break from nerves. and, most importantly, a dumb jock. do not ever forget this.
thats gordon freeman, babey. hope that helps
i think its really nice......like.....2 fucked up guys. they are both fucked up in very specific ways that make them perfect for each other
like.....just......the way it would transform from "mocking" to "genuine" to. you know. horny. benreys convinced that theyre best friends way before gordon is, and the way he calls gordon friend in canon is so, like.......its loaded! its fucking loaded!! the kinda malicious, sing-songy cadence he uses......its impossible to tell how much hes just tryna make fun of gordon or get his goat......and what if gordon starts using it back, like, ironically at first, to make fun of benrey for it.......throwing his hands up into the air while exasperatedly saying, yeah, sure, were best friends now, apparently. but see thats the thing about doing things ironically is that if youre not careful youll end up doing them for real
and like......can you imagine?? gordon freeman doesnt have friends. he says it like 3 different times. what makes you think this dude has ever had a Best Friend. no. absolutely not. the first guy he calls his "best friend" in his entire life and its fucking benrey. but,.......like........i think once he starts owning up to it a little......owning up to it being genuine and just casually saying it without malice in it......it would probably feel.......good. like, secretly, buried deep down in gordons brain where he never has to acknowledge it, it feels good to be somebodys best friend. hes never been somebodys best friend before......hes never been subject to the kind of intimacy of knowing somebody so well that his other friends associate them with one another, that theyre kind of a unit
even if hes still mentally classifying him and benrey as "frenemies", something just hits a little different about him being best frenemies with benrey, okay
and.......like......the thing is that benrey doesnt have any other best friends now, either. hes got friends, yeah, and quite a few more than gordon does, b/c gordon is a huge bitch who just cannot make friends for the life of him......except for benrey, who somehow looked at how fucked up this weird little man is and decided that this was his new play thing. (and gordon decided he liked being played with, b/c hes a little fucking freak.) so like......its not just that theyre best friends anymore........its that hes benreys best friend. his best friend. the possessiveness of it........
its got so much fucking intimacy packed into it b/c theres no way in hell gordon freeman would acknowledge their relationship as anything more than platonic even when theyre playing weird, giggly d/s games in a fucking public theater bathroom
theres just......theres just so much shit like that. stuff that only the two of them can get up to with each other without it being "weird". (which is to say, its very fucking weird, but they manufacture this whole fucking sub-reality when its just the two of them that makes it all seem Highly Regular And Normal. like, fucking. headcrab baseball. hold on i need to talkk about headcrab baseball)
they are both just so astronomically weird and fucked up in ways that mesh together really well and would probably mesh terribly with 99% of society. like gordon is a fucking disaster and benrey is.......well, hes benrey
but when theyre together they get to play these fucked up little games with each other and do this little dance around wanting to kiss each other stupid and they just get to do shit that they couldnt do with anybody else. like headcrab baseball
you think any other human being alive would throw headcrabs at gordon freeman so he can try to smack them with his crowbar (and then laugh at gordon and call him an idiot when he misses and now hes got a face full of headcrab and hes running around yelling for help)?? I Think The Fuck Not
theyre just perfectly fucked in a way that makes it to where they kind of got their own little sub-reality going on. a little fucked up space that only they occupy, doing the fucked up things that make them happy that nobody else would get
its just a them thing. isolated to just them, something they can enjoy together thats objectively awful but perfect for this couple of fucking disasters
normal people would look at them doing this and be like "are they okay? like, no, seriously, do these guys have problems? disorders??"
and what i am getting at with this is that like........maybe there are other things. just between the two of them. things that gordon lets himself get up to with benrey b/c its not weird anymore when theyre in sub-reality and its just the two of them, right? like kissing? fucking? things that best friends do with each other all the time, right?
what i am getting at here is that. you know. in my mind gordon freeman is a repressed bisexual who wants to be on top b/c this is less gay, somehow. but.......you know........they can get up to weird shit together that only the two of them would be able to do with each other.......it would be kind of cool, if. gordon wanted to trust his best friend with being the only person to rail him in the ass
ITS FUCKING HARD TO TALK ABOUT LIKE......THEYRE NOT TENDER GUYS.......but they keep fucking approaching romance and tenderness asymptotically b/c there is something wrong with them and they sublimate that shit in every way other than the explicit.......its like its just another fucking Game between them. yet another form of gay chicken like when gordons going off about how he hates the guy and wants him to die and then spends the next 10 minutes obsessively talking about benrey and worrying about him and wondering where he is
gordon fronts at being pissed off about it but he just keeps fuckin playing along and seeking out benrey to be inevitably jerked around by him and it gives me brand new illnesses......he fronts at so fucking much b/c he is afraid of male intimacy/intimacy in general b/c he has no fucking friends
its like......its like hes always pushing back......if hes an asshole upfront he knows that theres no risk of people trying to be friends with him and so he doesnt have to fear inevitably disappointing people/them not being friends with him anymore and leaving him behind.......but he is just as much of an asshole to benrey as he can possibly be and benrey just keeps coming back to fuck with him and never leaving him alone........
like.......straight up, he is a bitch. gordon “hlvrai” freeman is a bitch. he is a jerk literally from the moment he hops into the game! before the res cas even happens! lots of people like to be like “you cant just make him angry.....hes not angry hes just stressed out ):” but this is not true. hes not, like, yelling-angry, but he is just mean for no fucking reason a lot of the time. and hes very, very pathetic too. hes kind of like......moe thru helplessness......he strikes me as a very high-strung person that has no idea what hes doing, like, ever. hes got a Woke Boy complex but he kind of falls into that common internet pitfall of “believing that having the right beliefs makes him a good person even though he is a fucking asshole”. he thinks that he is a smart guy and knows better than the others even though he is like.......he is remarkably stupid in other ways. very selective intelligence. prime example that having an advanced degree does not actually mean you are smarter than others by default
so like i dont really understand the softboy thing a lot of the time. i think people kind of watch this series and just project whatever traits they want onto these characters even if it is fully at odds with what we actually see. (i do this too sometimes. gordon is anxious and stressed out canonically but the neuroticism that i give him is, admittedly, a stretch.) he is a lot more like the freemans mind gordon than i think most people want to admit. but like. seriously. watch the series again. this gordon freeman is not very nice. frankly, i think the rare moments in which gordon gets over himself and just acts like a nice guy are all the more potent because hes a jerk most of the time! this dude sucks!!! he is an average mcfucking nobody with no friends (again, because he is kind of an asshole and he really likes putting people down and making fun of them) and cringe interests and, somehow, benrey took a look at all of that and said “yeah i would fuck that” anyway. gordon really, really does not know how good he has it
also, you know. repression is cool! i think the way he treats benrey in the first 3-3.5 acts smacks of some deep fucking repression. “ohhh i hate benrey oh i wish he would just leave me alone.........oh shit benrey left me alone. wheres benrey? is he lost? i wonder what benreys doing right now. hey guys wouldnt it be crazy if benrey were here right now” WHO are you trying to FOOL. everyone in the science crew is like 2 seconds away from telling him to shut the fuck up about his obvious crush but hes still trying to convince himself that he hates benrey even when hes giggling like a fucking schoolgirl at the guy. god. i hate him. i love him but i hate him
tbh the thing i think about the most is how exactly they deal with, like, everything that Happened between them. like its benreys fault he got his arm cut off, man. even if (theoretically, in my personal headcanon) benrey doesnt exactly Grasp a lot of the shit he did that pissed gordon off (like ok taking the whole “what happened to your arm???” thing at face value, instead of as the (obvious) joke that it is? it makes me feel like he didnt understand the consequences of his actions as much as.....like.....somebody who Gets human shit would), they still gotta like talk about that shit eventually if they wanna get to know each other as anything more than enemies, or frenemies, or “dudes with a fragile detente in place who sometimes play video games and fuck”
and like.....i feel like the way benrey doesnt Get things isnt necessarily, like, entirely in good faith either......if that makes sense.....he seems like he deliberately doesnt Get things, and he can be kind of malicious about what he decides to wrap his head around and what he doesnt. like, hes deliberately obtuse, bu then sometimes hes actually obtuse, and i think that can be difficult to deal with as like......a real trait, instead of just a “haha funny improv character” trait.
his method of just completely dropping a topic if he doesnt know how to riff off it/make it funny (as an improv thing) is also something that is not super conducive to building a Real Relationship if you go full “death of the author” and interpret it as, just, not giving a shit about topics that dont interest him/are emotionally difficult
and gordon is like. Neurotic. hes anxious, hes depressed, hes got PTSD, hes graying at 27, etc. (okay like 2 of those things are just headcanons but whatever, they fit.) he probably isnt coping well with jack shit after black mesa! (and thats, yknow, how i write him.) before he can handle, like, a capital r-Relationship, he really needs to work on his own shit instead of fucking a dude with a massive crush on him. but, uhhh, too late, lmao. you work with what youve got. and, like, theres a lot of......working around each other that they would need to learn how to do if they ever wanted to be anything more than “friends with benefits who sometimes feel a certain way about each other”.
benreys got like that distinctly non-normative way of viewing the world and interacting with people (and, you know, i know that this is just a personal interpretation of an amalgam of behaviors primarily intended to be funny, but im already in this deep so why pretend like im not taking this a little seriously) and he also seems like he just gets a kick out of fucking with gordon.
and gordon thinks his off-beat behavior is so fucking funny, which is like, the foundation of why he likes benrey so much (and come on. weve all watched the same shit. weve all seen how much hes like “its not like im worried about benrey or anything but also oh god where the fuck is benrey”), but again, when theyre not, like, forced to be around each other by circumstance, that means that theyve actually gotta........learn to bend around each other. theyve gotta tear down whatever stupid acts theyre putting on and figure out how to just be Genuine with each other
and thats why i think it would take a good long while post-canon for them to figure each other out and really develop solid Feelings-feelings for each other. that shits hard. they clearly both like each other a lot but they also clearly love getting under each others skin (which is what i, personally, love about them). i like writing shit where theyre committing to the bit, right? putting on an act, playing the game.
being vulnerable is a lot fucking harder and thats why im starting that shit with benrey and gordon getting crossfaded and gordons Massive Emotional Repression being torn down and just letting all the bad feelings out. its gotta get worse before it gets better. benrey tried to kill him man. even if it may not have meant the same thing to benrey that it did to gordon, they still gotta, like, deal with it, man