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Why Couldn't It Be Me

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Ben sat at JJ's with Chris, spinning his cup of water on the table. He'd just finished telling Chris all about the Parks Department, how he didn't want to cut their budget.

"So, you're saying we shouldn't cut their budget?"

"No. We shouldn't. Leslie is the type of person who will make it work." Ben insisted. Chris really wanted to argue, Ben was being completely stupid. The only time he's this passionate is when he's in love. And he was being way more passionate than normal.

"We both got offered a job here, you want to take it. What's keeping you here?" Chris asked. He was absolutely meddling.

Ben sighed. "If I told you, it wouldn't go over well."

"It's Leslie, isn't it?" Chris asked. He didn't need an answer. Ben's face flushed red, and he glanced down to stare at the table. "It's okay if she's what's keeping you here. You know if you take this Assistant City Manager job you can't do a thing about it."

Ben nodded. "Yeah, I know. But it's not just her. I'm so sick of being a State Auditor. I can't stand barging into random offices and ruining everything people worked so hard to build."

"This is because of how she reacted isn't it?" Chris asked. Ben sunk lower into the booth and nodded. Meeting Leslie changed how he thought about everything. Ben normally loved his job, after he ruined things he was able to haul ass right out of the town and it didn't matter. He just couldn't tear down bright, bubbly, and happy Leslie. He felt like such an asshole tearing Leslie down.

"Ron warned us that Leslie was going to be crazy passionate about all of this." Chris reminded Ben, who nodded. "Just admit it, Ben, you like Leslie."

"Yes! Okay? Fine. Yes, I really do like Leslie."

He couldn't stand when Chris was right. He totally liked Leslie, and yeah maybe the only reason he decided to take that Assistant City Manager job was because he liked Leslie. Maybe he knew that he'd see her often if they worked in the same building. So what? No big deal.

"On a completely different note, they hang out at a gay bar?" Chris asked looking puzzled. Ben nodded. 

"I guess Leslie accidentally married two gay penguins, so now she's a 'gay icon'. So the owners let the whole department hang out here." Ben explained.

Little did Ben know, that wasn't the only reason they were allowed at the gay bar.

***

"He's that bad?" Ann had asked, as the first round of shots came to the table.

"He's such a jerk. I know he's just doing his job but he's doing it like an asshole. But you can do your job without being a jerk, Ben." Leslie grumbled, she downed her shot, slammed the glass down probably a little harder than necessary. Ann took Leslie's hands, smiling softly at her from across the table.

"Don't let him get to you, babe." She replied, rubbing her thumb on Leslie's hand. "He's just not worth it."

"I yelled at him three times in less than twenty-four hours," Leslie admitted. Ann almost choked.

"Christ Leslie." She laughed. "You're so cute when you're all angry."

Leslie smiled softly at Ann. She wanted to agree that he wasn't worth it, but Jerk Ben was trying to cut the Parks Department budget. Which meant firing people. She cared too much about everyone in that office, no one was getting fired on her watch.

"I know. I guess he's not all bad. But he just wants to fire people. I don't want him to fire anyone" Leslie pouted. Ann couldn't help but smile at her girlfriend sitting across from her.

"Of course that would annoy you. You have the biggest heart. How about we go to JJ's, get you some waffles before you get too drunk?"

"But I want to get drunk," Leslie whined. "You brought me here so I can get drunk."

"I know, but it's better to be drunk at home. After we get waffles we can go home, get drunk, and make out on the couch. Sound good?"  Ann asked. Leslie nodded, Ann, placed a kiss on her lips once they stood up.

Every time Ann kisses her, Leslie can't believe Ann is hers. She still gets butterflies in her stomach when Ann kisses her or holds her hand, or cuddles her. When Leslie met Ann for the first time, Ann was fresh out of a breakup, and Leslie was discovering more about her sexuality. What Ann told Leslie was going to be a "simple sexuality experiment" turned into way more than just that.

Ann took Leslie's hand, took her to the car. Leslie placed her hand on Ann's thigh as they drove to JJ's.

"I'm sorry all I've been doing is complaining about Ben." Leslie apologized. Ann shook her head no, taking one hand off the wheel to hold Leslie's hand.

"Don't apologize. He's an asshole."

Ann and Leslie walked hand in hand to JJ's diner. As they approached their usual booth, they saw Ben and Chris sitting across from each other.

"Jesus," Leslie mumbled to herself. Ann shook her head.

"Don't focus on them. Focus on me." She smiled softly.

"How can I focus on anything but?" Leslie asked, making Ann grin.

Ben looked over and finally noticed Leslie and Ann sitting in a booth, talking and laughing. He knew Leslie had definitely told Ann all about how much of a jerk he is. He knew he was about to be number one on the list of people Ann hated.

Ben sat back in the booth, nursing his water cup. He looked back over at them again, what he saw almost made him spit out his water. Leslie was leaning over the table to kiss Ann.

"There's another reason why they're allowed at Snakehole." Ben mumbled, looking down at the table.

"Ben, are you okay?" Chris asked. Ben sighed and shrugged. He glanced back over at Leslie who lit up when a platter of waffles got placed in front of her. He watched Ann laugh and smile at Leslie.

"It's not like I can do anything anyways. Even if I was willing to go through an ethics trial."

"You are so jealous," Chris stated, stifling a laugh. It wasn't even a question. Ben was very obviously jealous of Ann. She gets to hold Leslie, she gets to sleep next to Leslie, she gets to go on dates with Leslie. Everything he wants to do, Ann gets to do instead.

"I'm not jealous," Ben mumbled. He just wants to scream and stomp his feet like an angry five year old who's not getting his way, maybe steal Leslie while he was at it. As Ben and Chris got up to leave, they overheard parts of Leslie and Ann's conversation.

"I better get that makeout session you promised," Leslie smirked, sipping her hot chocolate.

"When have I ever deprived you of an Ann Perkins makeout session?"

Leslie giggled and nodded. "That's fair."

***

"Okay. So I've decided to not cut your budget, and I am in fact taking that Assistant City Manager job, alongside Chris." Ben said, coming into Leslie's office. She looked up and smiled at him. That smile. It absolutely killed him. She could light up a whole entire room with that endless energy.

"Thank you so much, Ben!" Leslie exclaimed, standing up from her chair. "I'm glad you decided to take the job."

"That means I'm technically your boss now." He jokes, eliciting an eye roll from her.

"Oh, whatever." She smiled. "Hey look, I'm really sorry I've been such an asshole to you since you got here."

"Don't worry about it. I tend to get that kind of reaction from people. You're just so passionate."

He wanted to kiss her. His jealousy right now was through the roof. He knew if he kissed her, he'd fuck up whatever friendship they were in the process of building right now. That and Ann could come in, and he somehow cares enough to not fuck up her and Ann's relationship.

Before Leslie could reply, Ann was knocking on the door of her office. "Oh! Am I interrupting?"

"Not at all, babe. Just finishing up." She smiled. 

"You know where to meet me." Ann winked, leaving the office.

He noticed Leslie giggling and blushing. She regained her composure to finish up their talk. Although it was very obvious she wanted to sprint out of the room and go meet Ann.

"I know I can be super passionate, and you were coming for something I didn't want to lose." 

He nodded, he understood. Of course, he understood. His job as a State Auditor was to barge into places unannounced and claim he was cutting their budget and people were getting fired.

"Anyways, I have to go meet my girl.  I'll see you around Ben." Leslie, smiled, grabbing her bag and hurrying out the door.

Ben walked up to his new office, placed himself in one of the chairs. He just wanted to scream. He wanted to scream, throw things, break things. Ben knew he was being ridiculous. He's acting like a child. But goddammit Leslie Knope is just sitting there rubbing the fact that she's not even straight in his face. Even if she and Ann were to break up, it's not like he'd have a chance. 

Chris knocked on Ben's door and invited himself in. "Ben Wyatt."

"Hi, Chris." Ben greeted. 

"How was your chat with Leslie?" 

"It was actually good, surprisingly. She apologized for yelling but she wants to be friends."

"That's good, right?"

Yes. Well no, he wants to be more than friends. She completely friend-zoned him without even knowing it. But he'd just have to deal with just being friends. Maybe somewhere along the line she and Ann would break up- god Ben just shut up. 

He was mentally destroying himself trying to figure out what he wanted to do. How to reply to Chris' comment that he's just now just realized he'd left unanswered. Before Ben could even think about what he was saying, the words just flowed out.

"I just want to kiss her Chris! Ann has Leslie wrapped around her finger and I'm never going to get to have her! Every time I see her I just want to do all the things that I know for a fact Ann gets to do." He basically yelled. As of now, he was blissfully unaware that Leslie and Ann's meeting spot was right outside Ben's office.

***

Leslie's jaw was basically on the floor. Ann held her hand tightly, looking Leslie up and down. She was trying to read Leslie's facial expressions. Ben Wyatt was confessing his love for her, to Chris. She gave Ann a reassuring look. A look that told her, Leslie wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. No matter what Ben would throw at them.

"You are her boss and she's gay, Wyatt." They heard Chris exclaim. "I've been trying to be nice to you Ben but you just can't have her. Between Ann, her sexuality, professionalism, boundaries. I get it, you're jealous but you have to get over her, Ben."

Ann rested her head on Leslie's shoulder. She placed a soft on her head, making Ann smile. "I'm not going anywhere, Ann."

"I trust you." Ann smiled, picking her head up to look Leslie in the eye.

Suddenly the door to Ben's office flung open. Ben stalked out, immediately halting when he saw the two girls sitting on the bench. He'd just thrown a whole jealousy temper tantrum, while she was sitting right there. His face flushed red, as he stood frozen, unaware of what to do or say. Chris came out soon after, also unaware of the girls' presence on the bench.

Ben spun on his heels and sprinted back into the office. Chris, however, came to talk to the girls.

"Ben, likes me?" Leslie asked Chris, hanging on to Ann for dear life. Chris just sighed and nodded.

"I'm trying my best." He began. "It's against policy anyways, so you should be safe. Just let me know if he tries anything."

Ben paced around his small motel room that night. Leslie was filling his head and he just couldn't get her out. He ran his fingers through his hair as he basically sprinted back and forth. He splashed water in his face and picked up his phone. A missed call from Leslie, then a text, also from Leslie. 

"Meet me at the bench on Lot 48. We need to talk about this."

***

"What do we do, Ann?" Leslie asked, sitting next to Ann on the couch. "From what Chris said, he's being relentless."

"Maybe he just needs to hear the no from you?" Ann suggested. Leslie looked at her, tilting her head slightly. 

"Are you sure?"

"Les, baby. I trust you." Ann replied softly. Leslie smiled, sitting on the coffee table.

"And after you talk with him," She began, but couldn't finish because Leslie was already kissing her. Ann giggled when they pulled apart, nodded. "Yes. You'll get your Ann Perkins makeout."

"So, what do I tell him?" Leslie asked. Ann contemplated before answering.

"Well, do you want to be friends with him?'

"Are you comfortable with that?"

"Yes. Because I trust you." Ann reminded her.

Leslie smiled. "Okay. I'll text him to meet me at the park outside."

Ann nodded. "Go get em, babe."

Leslie fired off the text and went to wait outside.

***

He drove there without responding. He saw Leslie sitting there, hands stuffed in her coat pockets.

"Wyatt." She greeted, standing up from the bench. "So, I know you're jealous of Ann and me."

"Wow. Straight to the point."

"Because Ben! You had a fit in the office about how jealous you are. I don't know what you're going to try to do. Jealousy can turn people really ugly, Ben. Even if it's the jealousy talking and not you"

Ben nodded. "I know. I'm sorry. I'm trying to get past it. Just seeing you and Ann sucks, Leslie." 

Just thinking about it made him burn with jealousy. But it wasn't the angry type of jealousy. It never was. He was sad, distraught. This talk was basically just, "I know you want me, and you're jealous but my girlfriend and I are crazy happy right now so suck it up, Benjamin Wyatt."

"I know, okay? I really do. I had a talk with Ann today, and she wants to be friends. So do I. You just have to tell me when you're ready."

He nodded. "I'll take you up on that."

"I'm sorry. I don't even know what I am in terms of my sexuality, I just know I love Ann."

Ben nodded. It was getting easier to hear. "Go enjoy your Ann Perkins makeout session."

Leslie laughed and smiled apologetically. "I will trust me." She pulled her hands out of her pockets to push herself off the bench.

He didn't miss the ring that glistened in the single streetlight above the bench.