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“Say it.”

Leslie stiffens at the demand, watching his hand as it creeps up her dress.

“The preacher said to pray, Leslie,” Ben whispers. “Are you going to deny him?”

They're alone in the pew in the back of the packed church, all dimmed lights and stained glass windows. It's Ben’s father that stands on the stage, all attention on him as he brings the people into prayer, unknowing that his son has his hand resting on the inside of a girl’s thigh.

A girl that never even went to church until the last three weeks… just to see the preacher’s son.

“Say it,” Ben hisses near her ear, just as his finger slides under the waistband of her underwear, her good church dress slowly sliding up her legs. The church begins to speak in unison, and so does Leslie.

“Our father,” Leslie begins, her voice starting off strong, “who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name.”

Ben’s hand dips lower, and he does not speak, just watches as her breath hitches. His thumb presses against her clit and she turns to look at him, just for him to grab her chin and face her forward again.

“Pray, Leslie. Eyes closed. You're talking to the Lord, aren't you?”

She shuts her eyes and continues.

“Thy kingdom come.” His fingers spread her legs, just gently. “Thy will be done—” She chokes on the words as he traces her, rubbing his finger up and down, and she swallows down a tiny whimper. “On… on earth as it is in heaven.”

“Steady,” he tells her. “Quiet.”

But one finger slowly slides inside her, in the back of this crowded church, and she still has a prayer to finish. She squeezes her eyes shut tighter, and her legs spread wider.

“Give us this day… our daily bread.” The last words are nothing but a desperate whimper as his finger curls inside her. “And forgive us for our trespasses—” He adds a second finger, his palm brushing her clit, and her entire face flushes, bright red in the dim church lights. “As we forgive those who— fuck.”

She hisses the word with an accompanying moan, cut off by Ben’s hand over her mouth. It only lasts a second, her chest heaving, and he doesn't relent, raising his hand to where she most aches to have it. He circles her clit in agonizing circles, his other hand gripping her hair at the back of her neck, pulling just so.

“Now, Leslie, is that the kind of language we use in the Lord’s house?” he asks her, and she doesn't have to open her eyes to know he's smirking. His grip tightens on her hair. “Next verse. Pray.” His fingers working on her clit speed up, and her chest heaves. “You're in God’s house and you’re acting like a sinful whore. You need this verse.”

Her breathing is heavy and her voice low as she prays, her nails digging into Ben’s arms. “And lead us not into temptation,” she moans, as quiet as she can be, and the irony is not lost on her, “but deliver us from evil.”

She is building quickly, her thighs clenching and her whole body trembling as she tries to keep it under control, but now his thumb is rubbing her clit and his fingers have returned to fuck her with reckless abandon, pushing in and out of her, so filthy that she feels the shame wash over her, turning her on all the more, bringing her closer and closer to orgasm.

Leslie lifts her chin, struggling to catch her breath, writhing against Ben in their church pew. “For thine is the kingdom,” she gasps, her hips bucking, “and the power,” she whispers, feeling the burning of her scalp as he pulls her hair, “and the glory—”

She explodes with a tiny gasp of “forever and ever,” her head thrown back, his hand back over her mouth. He continues to stroke between her legs as she trembles beside him, trying and failing to be as still and quiet as possible. She's left a hot and whimpering mess with tangled hair and soaked underwear and a bright red face. She whispers praises under her breath not for God, but for Ben and his fingers, Ben and his tongue, Ben and his affinity for sinful acts even as the preacher’s son. Tonight, she’ll be kneeling, but definitely not for the Lord.

Ben pulls his hands from her underwear and grins at the state of her, popping a finger into his mouth. “Amen.”

Chapter Text

Leslie doesn't know what she's doing here.

When he sent her the invitation through the mail, for a long time she was convinced he sent it to her by accident. She threw the envelope across the room and drank almost an entire bottle of wine before she was able to revisit it, and there was no mistaking it.

Join us for the wedding of Benjamin Wyatt and Caroline Jones.

It's addressed to Leslie Knope, and she couldn't deny it— Ben is getting married. To some woman she doesn't know. And decided to invite his secret ex-girlfriend.

Leslie sits in the pews of the church in one of her finest red dresses, her palms shaking as they lie flat on her thighs. The music is starting and, oh god, there he is. He's in a tux that fits him just right, flatters him perfectly, and it strikes her that this is the first time she's seen him since he left Pawnee just a year ago.

Just a year ago, they had cut off their secret relationship, and now he's getting married.

She's beautiful. Leslie can't deny that. And she's tall. Brunette. Skinny and elegant and stunning and everything Leslie is not. His bride-to-be walks down the aisle and she dazzles the room, stealing the attention of everyone in the audience. Even Leslie watches her, her brows furrowed, trying to picture this woman with Ben.

Her Ben. Trying to picture her kissing Ben, getting into bed with Ben, being the one he tells everything to. Being the one he trusts more than everyone, that he goes to first, that he looks at with love in his eyes just like he used to look at Leslie.

It doesn't fit. It doesn't work. It's all wrong.

Ben looks up and he sees his bride-to-be, in all her glory and her silky hair and flowing white dress. The change in his face is instantaneous. His eyes soften and he grins, choking back happy laughter. His chest heaves and his face is red, and Leslie knows he's crying. He's so in awe of this girl that he is crying, he sees his whole future with her, a family and a home.

She wonders, not for the first time, if he would still be looking at Leslie like that if she had just said screw it.

They come together. They hold hands. They say their vows, and Leslie hears none of it. There is only a loud ringing in her ears, static in her brain, her vision blurring with bright lights and blinding white and tears that she can't stop from coming.

Only one line cuts through the static.

“Does anyone object?”

Leslie's heart pounds in her chest, her palms sweaty, clutching the fabric of her dress in her fists. She could say something. She could stop this. She could.

“Speak now, or forever hold your peace.”

But she doesn't.

She is silent.

The happy couple says I do and then they kiss, and Leslie just stares down at her hands, where bright red marks have formed from digging in her fingernails.

Leslie loves him.

And now no one will ever know.

Chapter Text

“Just kiss her. It's not a big deal.”

Not a big deal? Not a big deal? Leslie’s bottle points directly at Ann, only a few inches to her right, and everyone is staring at her. Leslie’s very first college party, and everyone is staring at her, and she knows her face is burning bright red.

“Hey.” Ann grabs Leslie’s hand, and she twitches. “You know we don't have to do this if you don't want to, right?”

The crowd around them giggles. “Actually, it's in the rules…”

“Oh, shut the fuck up, Mark,” Ann snaps, and a chorus of oooohs follows it. “What's it matter to you anyway? It's seven minutes in Heaven, you wouldn't see anything.”

Tom pops up from behind Mark, waggling his brows. “Personally, I think you ladies should just have your seven minutes out here—”

“Not a chance, creep—”

“— or at least start the making out here and take the rest to the bedroom. You know, just so we know you're really playing by the rules.”

Leslie squeaks and covers her mouth, and Ann just sighs, standing up. “Come on, Les. We don't have to do anything you don't want to. We’ll just talk, if you want.”

So Leslie takes Ann’s hand and follows her into the tiny coat closet, the door clicking shut behind them. 

It's eerily silent.

Leslie stares down at her hands, barely there in the dark of the closet, shuffling back and forth on her feet. “Look,” she starts, taking a deep breath, “it's not… it's not that I don't want to.”

“Please don't feel pressured at all,” Ann replies quickly. “I mean— I just… if you wanted to, I'd be more than happy. It's just—”

“It's just that I'm confused.” Leslie squeezes her eyes shut before taking the chance to look at Ann across the way. Her eyes look brighter in this lighting. Soft. She looks soft. Her heart thuds in her chest and she leans back against the closet wall. “Because I'm not… confident in my sexuality like you are. And I don't know how to be. And that feels unfair to do to you.”

Ann is silent for a while. Probably too long, considering all they have is seven minutes. She takes a step closer and Leslie can feel the warmth of her, the feeling that makes her stomach twist up into knots. “Just answer two questions,” Ann whispers, and Leslie nods. “Do you like me?”

Leslie swallows hard, and she nods.

Ann grins, takes another step closer, until she practically has Leslie pressed up against the wall. “And do you want me to touch you?”

Her body thinks before her brain does. “Please,” she chokes.

“Then just relax,” she breathes, and then she’s kissing her.

Ann is kissing Leslie, and at first she gasps, surprised at the whole reality of it all, just to sigh into Ann's mouth, melting into her. Ann’s lips are soft and part against hers, her tongue darting out to trace along her bottom lip— and that's when things start to move even quicker.

Ann has Leslie pinned against the wall of the closet, her hands in her hair and at her hip. It's foreign, really, to be at Ann’s mercy, when Leslie is so frequently the steamroller, but it's such an erotic change of pace that Leslie once again finds herself whispering, “Please,” directly into Ann's ear.

Ann delivers. Her hand on Leslie’s hip slides to her thigh, playing with the hem of her short dress. Leslie’s breathing is heavy, and the clock is ticking, and everyone is outside waiting for them— it's now or never. She bucks her hips against Ann’s hand. Just to send the message.

Her fingers are small but by god, they are powerful. They slip under the waistband of Leslie’s underwear and press against her clit, prompting Leslie to gasp, fully gasp out loud. Ann takes this as her cue to bring her lips back to hers, swallowing her moans as she pushes two fingers inside her, and the ease in which she can push inside is all Ann needs to know just how into this Leslie really is.

“Breathe,” Ann whispers against Leslie’s lips, her forearm working between them. “It's okay. Breathe. I've got you.”

Leslie twists her arms around Ann’s neck and digs her nails into her shoulders, at her blouse, into her hair. She grinds against Ann’s hand in a hurried frenzy, her breathing high-pitched and desperately, her whole body trembling with a need she's never felt before.

She cums with her lips still pressed to Ann’s, writhing against the wall, trying to regain control over her body and her wobbling legs. Ann barely did anything, and Leslie is besides herself. Her knees are shaking and she's clinging to Ann for support.

“Oh my god,” Leslie gasps, her eyes wide and glassy. “No one… no one has ever made me finish before.”

Ann grins, bringing her fingers to her lips. “Maybe because you've only ever been with shitty guys before,” she adds. “Also, we should probably head back out there. It's seven minutes in heaven and we’ve been in here for fifteen.”

“Oh my god.”

Chapter Text

“Ben? What are you doing?”

His hand freezes on Leslie’s stomach, his chest pressed to her back. They're the only two in the small, dimly lit room, Leslie leaning on the table and staring through the glass in front of her.

Tom is leading a focus group on the other side of the glass for Leslie’s campaign— much needed after the last bowling fiasco, but Leslie still isn't exactly taking the criticism well. She's tense, and Ben can tell. Her jaw is set and her shoulders are hunched, gripping the table until her knuckles are white.

So, he crept around her and started tracing her hips, her waist. He's just being a good boyfriend— she needs to relieve some tension.

“Babe?” Leslie asks again, but Ben doesn't move his hand. He just clutches a handful of her blouse.

“You need to relax,” he whispers near her ear, moving her hair to the side to press a kiss to her throat. “You're entirely too stressed.”

“They're talking about me in there! That guy said my hair was too bright!”

Ben chuckles, eyes flickering up to look through the glass. There's a kind of power, in this setting, to be able to see them while they can't see him. Tom leads them in conversation and none of them have any idea that Ben’s fingers are now pulling at the button of Leslie’s pants.

“I like how bright your hair is,” Ben breathes, and he pulls her zipper down.

“Ben,” she squeaks, looking between him and the glass. “We… we can't do this here. The focus group is right there—”

“And? They can't see us.”

She trembles as Ben’s hand dips lower, her breath catching in her throat. “But we can see them.”

He growls, latching his teeth to her neck and sucking. “Good.”

So Leslie doesn't stop him. She doesn't stop him as a hickey blossoms on her throat and she doesn't stop him as he slides her pants and her underwear down over her ass, definitely doesn't stop him when he bends her over the table and starts to fumble with his own belt buckle.

“Ben,” she whispers, as his hand slides between her legs, pulls at the buttons on her blouse to expose a breast. “Ben.” Leslie shudders at the indecency of it all, parting her legs as far as they can go, squeezing her eyes shut to avoid looking directly into the eye of Tom or any member of the focus group.

But Ben has other ideas. Her shame is inevitable, playing a key part. He wants it.

The hand between her legs rubs at her clit until she's wet and trembling, and she lowers her head in her hands. She bites down on her own fist and chokes on a moan— one that Ben definitely notices.

His free hand grabs a fistful of her hair and tugs, forcing her head upwards. “Open your eyes,” he demands, and she feels his erection against her thigh. “I want you to look right at them as I fuck you.”

She whimpers, but does as he says, staring right through the window. Tom is pointing at the board and asking another question, back and forth with another man in the group, and for some reason now their voices are just static in Leslie’s ears, incapable of being heard, not when her boyfriend is digging his fingers into her hips and ramming into her, pushing so furiously and so deeply into her that she shrieks. Ben moves one hand to slide over her mouth, effectively shutting her up, keeping her head held high.

“Shut up,” he hisses, rocking his hips against hers, pounding in and out so recklessly that it's almost scary, the idea that they could easily be caught. She moans into his hand as his skin slams against hers, filling her up. “Look at them, Leslie. Look through the glass. They're talking about you.”

They are. She hears her name. She doesn't know if it's good or bad, only the feeling of Ben as he slides in and out of her.

“What do you think they would say if they knew about this?” Ben asks through heavy breaths, his hand on her mouth lifting her up so she can see better. Her eyes are glassy, watching the focus group, tears in her vision. “Do you think they know their City Council candidate is such a whore for her campaign manager? That she lets him fuck her just behind the glass? That she gets off on being seen?”

She slams her palm against the table as she cums, her back arching until she meets his chest. She fumbles around for his tie to pull him closer and just seconds after she finishes, he's emptying himself inside her with a stunted groan, leaning forwards to wrap his arms around her.

On the other side of the glass, there's the sound of papers and chairs shuffling, and everyone starts to rise.

“Uh… Ben?” Leslie squeaks, her pants still at her knees. “They're… they’re done.”

“What?”

“Ben! The focus group is done, Tom is going to be in here any second now, what do we do?”

“Shit,” Ben swears, pushing himself up off the table. He takes in his girlfriend, still bent over with her pants down, breasts spilling from her open blouse, messy between her legs with insane sex hair to boot, and he panics. “We run.”

Ben zips up his pants, doesn't even bother to fix Leslie, and hoists her over his shoulder, bolting for the door. Leslie screams with surprise, clutching onto him for dear life, wriggling in an attempt to get her pants back up to her hips.

The door slams shut behind them just as Tom walks in, flipping through a binder, to be met with an empty room… and Ben’s belt lying across the table.

Tom throws his arms in the air. “What the hell?" he sighs. "Horny nerds.”

Chapter Text

“You going tonight?”

“Yeah. Apparently they want me to bring Avatar and fifty pairs of 3D glasses and a 3D capable television.”

Ben looks resigned to this, not exactly surprised. And for some reason, that warms Leslie, the idea that Ben already understands April and Andy in this way without running in the other direction. He's not mad. Just quietly amused.

“Well,” she grins, “I will see you there, with all of those things.”

They're walking now, down the halls of City Hall, just as they always do. It's no different from any other time, no different from any conversation they've ever had, but something about Ben is different. Slightly on edge, his guard up. 

“I was actually coming to see you,” he says, and her gut twists. “I wanted your advice on something.”

And because Leslie loves it when people run things by her, her spirits immediately lift. “Oh, yeah?”

“My boss in Indianapolis…” Ben stops, in the middle of the hall, and she does too. It's just the two of them. And he looks somehow more nervous than before. “He wants me back on the road in a week.”

Her instant thought is oh. Just oh. Because for some reason, she never let herself think about Ben leaving. For some reason, his extension had cemented his place here in Pawnee, in her mind, and now he is just as much a part of it as anyone else. She couldn't really picture him leaving.

Ben continues quickly. “But then this morning Chris offered me a job, to stay here in Pawnee and work for him.”

Oh.

And it's maybe the first time she's ever been left speechless. She stares at him with her mouth slightly open, her eyes a little wider, and she knows she looks shell shocked, so totally unlike herself. He could leave. Ben could leave and might never come back. But he also might stay.

And he's asking for her help in deciding.

She clears her throat, shuts her mouth. “Do you want to do that?”

“Well, I don't know,” he admits, and her heart skips a beat. “I've been moving around so much the past few years, it might be nice to stay in one place for a while. What do you think?”

She pauses again, much longer this time, and it hits her. It hits her. She gapes at him, unable to stop looking at him, and all she can think is that she doesn't want him to go. Pawnee is supposed to be his home. He just… he just fits here. Doesn't he?

“Well, this is a great city,” she splutters, feeling as if she's just spitting words out without thinking of them. “You know, it's definitely the best city in Indiana, probably America, possibly the world.”

“Sure,” he grins.

And she just keeps staring at him.

She wants to tell him to stay. She wants to ask him to stay. Stay here. In Pawnee. With her.

She doesn't know why the words won't come. She just panics.

“But on the other hand,” she says, “you've put in twelve years with the state government.”

Ben frowns, and puts his head down, and he actually looks sad. He looks sad at her response, at her lack of an opinion, because Leslie Knope is always so opinionated but just when he needs it most, she can't do it. Why does he look so sad?

And why did Leslie say that?

“So, you think I should say no to Chris and head back to Indianapolis, or…?”

Please don't do that, she wants to say. Please don't leave. But what comes out instead is, “It's a tough call.” And he's just looking at her with those eyes, still frowning, still guarded, and there's a new tension between them that wasn't there before. “You know what I would do? You should make a pros and cons list. That always works for me.”

“Yeah,” he mumbles, avoiding her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Okay, maybe I'll do that.”

She wants to sit with him and make one for him. She wants to tell him that there are all the cons in the world to leaving and all the pros to staying are Pawnee and Leslie Knope.

“Excellent.” She shakes his hand. She doesn't know why she does it. It's awkward. “Nice talking to you.”

It signals the end of the conversation because she needs to walk away. She needs him to turn around and go back to work and leave her to her thoughts because she's letting her emotions get a hold of her. She can't look in his eyes and make a choice or else the decision will only come from her heart, and not her head.

But she wants him to stay. She's not ready to let go of him yet.

Their story can't be over yet. Can it?

Oh my god, Leslie thinks, clutching her stomach. Oh my god. I have a crush.

It comes to her with sudden clarity. She wants Ben to stay. Because she wants to be with him.

Shit.

Chapter Text

Things have been weird with Ann today.

Ben kind of gets it. They're campaigning and campaign strategies can get a little hardcore. They're not always the nicest. Ben knows this, he knows how to play the game in order to help Leslie win, and they all want Leslie to win. So if that means making the tough calls as they drive along on their bus tour, then so be it.

But Ann still acts weird.

He has half a mind to ask her about it, but he honestly wouldn't even know where to begin. They're not particularly close. Which is the strangest thing, considering when Leslie wanted those she trusts the most closest to her, that was instantly a stand off between Ann and Ben. Leslie means so much to the both of them, so they should be able to talk to each other, right?

So why is Ben almost scared of Ann?

She finds him, later. Leslie is speaking to a member of the press, all who ask her about Bobby Newport and his father, while Ben stands a little off to the side, just watching her. He does this a lot— watching her, as if to memorize her, further commit her to memory, as if a part of him is still afraid she might slip away from him again. 

His jaw is set and his knuckles white by the time Ann touches his shoulder, and he jumps.

“Woah, there,” Ann steadies him, as Ben nearly drops his clipboard. “Someone's tense. What's the matter with you?”

I keep thinking offhandedly about the possibility of Leslie leaving me again and never being able to get her back, but it's fine. What about you? “Nothing,” he says. “Just thinking. I— uh, what's up?”

She narrows her eyes at him, not quite believing him, and it strikes him that perhaps Ann knows him better than he thought she did. Probably Leslie's fault. “I wanted to talk to you.”

Ben swallows hard, chances a quick glance back at Leslie. “Um, about what?”

“About her, actually. Leslie.”

“You… you want to talk to me about Leslie?” Instantly, his brain fills with reasons as to why this conversation is taking place. Did something happen to Leslie? Is she okay? Is there a situation he isn't aware of? “Oh god,” he chokes. “What's wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong,” she says, and her arms cross over her chest. “But I just need to have this talk with you. I realized I never got to have it.”

Oh god.

“I need you to take care of her, Ben,” Ann says, and it's so totally not what he expected. “I know you love her. And she really loves you. And I’ve just… I’ve noticed how serious the two of you have gotten. This is the real deal, isn't it?”

Ben feels his chest tighten, and he can only answer with deeply cut, vulnerable honesty. “It is,” he whispers. “I just… I would do anything for her.”

Ann nods. “Good. I hope it stays that way. Because you better not hurt her, Wyatt.”

“I wouldn't dream of it—”

“I'm serious.” She has her finger pointed in his face, her eyes narrowed, and somehow she feels much taller than him now. “Don't you dare hurt her. You don't want to know what I'll do. Stick by her. Be there for her. Do not fuck this up.”

He wants to tell her he would never, he wouldn't dream of it, that all he wants to do is hold on to her every second of the day to make sure she never goes anywhere ever again, but he doesn't get the chance. Ann is already walking away.

Ben sighs, putting his hand to his brow. At least now, he feels a little better about Leslie staying with him. 

He's also definitely a little bit terrified of Ann.

Chapter Text

They always knew the risks. They really did.

It was Ben who would stay up all night reading, looking through the preparedness binders, researching odds and risks and possibilities and praying to any god that his wife will be alright. It was Ben who panicked.

It was Leslie who walked around with boundless optimism, as if nothing bad could ever happen to them. She pressed her palms to her stomach and kissed her husband’s worry away, kissed his frown lines and the crease between his eyebrows. She knew the risks, she knew what could happen, but she was determined. She said it would be alright.

It was supposed to be alright.

It started with cramps. Not even Ben was pessimistic enough to see that as a sign.

Leslie was in pain and Ben kept bringing her home from work early. She would fight every time because “It’s still early in my pregnancy, babe, I’m not supposed to take time off!” but her back was killing her and she kept running to the toilet to throw up and no amount of massaging her stomach made it any better.

“It's triplets, Leslie,” Ben told her, curling his arms around her and pressing his lips to her hair. “It's going to hurt. It's going to be a lot. Let me take care of you. It's okay to go home early when it hurts.”

They didn't see the signs. Not then.

Then came the blood. And Leslie’s breakdowns.

She had blood on her palms when Ben found her kneeling on the bathroom floor, shaking and mumbling nonsense to herself. He pulled her up and ran her hands under the sink, brushed her hair out of her face, quieted her as she cried.

“I don't get it, I don't get it,” she whispered, staring at her palms and the way the water turned pink. “Why does it hurt? Why can't I do this? Am I not good enough? What's wrong with me? What did I do?”

Ben tried not to cry, tried not to break down when she was already so broken, because now he had to be the strong one. He held her against his chest so she could listen to his heartbeat and told her that she was strong, she was capable, there was nothing wrong with her. She would have these triplets and they would love them forever, love them with all their hearts, and it’ll all be worth it in the end.

At the end of the day, they decided on three names. Stephen. Sonia. Westley.

Leslie loved them with everything in her. She sewed their names into pillows and bought three stuffed zebras. One for each of them, she said. So they can name them, so they can each have another friend.

They thought it was alright.

The doctor’s words were ringing in their ears because for some reason, in spite of knowing the risks, having the signs right in front of them, they didn't see it coming. They'd become blind with optimism and stuffed zebras so by the time the news was given, it didn't feel real. Ben stared blankly and Leslie didn't even let the doctor finish talking before she was running out the door. She barely made it to the bathroom before she collapsed.

Ben found her sobbing until it scratched at her throat, something raw and real and painful. He pulled her into his arms and she fell into his chest, unable to find words just yet. Her whole body shook and she grabbed at her stomach, digging her nails into the skin as if to punish herself for losing her children, as if it was her fault.

“I was so careful,” she screamed into Ben’s chest, the words echoing against the bathroom tile. “I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. Our babies.”

He wanted to tell her that she did nothing wrong, this wasn't her fault, just like he did that day he found her bleeding in their bathroom at home. He wanted to be strong for her like he was then, but his emotions hadn't seemed to catch up to him yet. He held her tightly but his head was high, his eyes staring blankly at nothing in particular. There was a scary emptiness in his face that had never been there before, as if he wasn't there at all anymore. As if his soul had left his body.

Leslie kept apologizing.

And Ben just kept staring.

Chapter Text

Ever since Leslie brought back the Harvest Festival, every year it's been a hit in Pawnee.

And this year, it's even better. Because this year Leslie gets to attend with Ben, now officially her super sexy and awesome boyfriend that she is never much in love with. 

She gets a thrill out of it, really. Holding his hand as they walk through the Festival. Getting to stop and kiss his face whenever she wants and not have to worry about who might see. He doesn't let go of her the entire time, either, and he holds her especially tightly when they pass by the memorial made for Li’l Sebastian.

“Hey,” Leslie says suddenly as they walk, squeezing Ben’s hand tighter. “Bet you can't knock down all those pins and win me a stuffed raccoon.”

Ben eyes the booth warily, but being around Leslie for so long, it's made him more competitive. Besides, winning a stuffed animal for his girlfriend? It's just the kind of normal couple thing they've never gotten to do before, and it's for that reason that he absolutely feels the need to do it now. To help him feel normal.

So he smirks. Drags her over to the game. “Oh, you're on, Knope,” he laughs.

He doesn't win the first time. Ben prides himself on having a good throwing arm, since he played baseball in high school, so he chalks his first failure up to be rusty. It's fine, he thinks. He’ll get it. He just has to aim right and flick his wrist in just the right way…

He fails again.

“What?” he shouts, shaking his head. “Why is it… never mind. No. I got this.” He gives more money to the guy behind the booth and pulls his arm up again.

Leslie giggles behind him. “Feeling a little rusty, babe?”

And it's so nice to hear her call him babe openly in public that it distracts him— and he misses again. Leslie laughs openly from next to him, her cackle that he loves so much, clapping her hands together.

Ben huffs. “You making fun of me?”

“Maybe,” she laughs. “Are you sure you can do it though? It's looking a little rough—”

Ben shuts her up with a kiss, just because he can. “Shut your mouth,” he says, lingering against her lips, his hands in her hair. It shines even brighter in this sun. “I've got this.”

He definitely doesn't. He keeps missing. He isn't even getting better, either, knocking down more pins each time. Really, he's doing miserably. Yet he keeps giving the vendor more and more of his money, sweat breaking out on his brow, way too determined to get his girlfriend that stupid stuffed raccoon because she deserves it, dammit.

“This is impossible,” he cries, his wallet significantly thinner. “This game is rigged. It's actually impossible, it's a trick. How… how dare you, sir!” He points at the vendor, who raises his arms in surrender. “You tricked me! You… I can’t… you snuck in an unwinnable game—”

“Here,” Leslie says, passing on a dollar to the vendor. “Let me try.”

Ben steps aside, raising his arms, as she prepares to throw. “Go ahead, fine. But I'm telling you, babe, it's all for show. They pull out these big prizes just because they know no one can win them, just to taunt you—”

“I did it!”

His jaw completely drops to the floor as Leslie knocks down all the pins on her very first try, laughing uncontrollably at the look on his face. She points out that stuffed raccoon and holds it tightly in her arms, burying her face in its fur, grinning at Ben from between its ears.

“Awww, babe,” she coos, patting his chest. “You did your best. I still love you.”

She kisses him, and all Ben can do is shake himself out, looking at her in awe. Of course. Of course.

“God,” he says to her. “You can just do anything, can't you?”

Chapter Text

He's gone.

He’s fucking gone and all Leslie can think is this is all Jen’s fault.

They were supposed to get their life back. They were supposed to go home and have dinner together and just be a normal couple, for once in their goddamn lives, but Jen Barkley had to come and pull the rug right out from under her.

Leslie went to visit him in DC and that’s when it became abundantly clear this wasn't going to work anymore. She didn't recognize Ben. Being in this environment changed sweet, dorky Ben into some political monster, cold and unfeeling, someone who was capable of leaving his girlfriend outside on his doorstep in the rain. Someone who didn't care that she was crying, didn't care that she loved him, didn't care for her apologies.

It’s over. Ben is gone.

And the first thing she can think, soaked from the rain and trembling with heartbreak, is that Jen Barkley will pay. Jen Barkley will understand the pain she's gone through because of her for months now, even before she wedged herself between Leslie and Ben. And she knows just where to fucking find her. 

Jen’s office is dark and it's empty. She sits alone behind her desk as if nothing is wrong, like nothing has happened, like the entire world didn't just turn upside down.

And maybe Leslie goes a little crazy.

Jen instantly starts yelling at the state of her, how her clothing is soaked and she's getting everything wet, but Leslie doesn't care. She doesn't care. She grabs a picture frame off Jen’s desk and tosses it, listening to the way it shatters, like music to her ears, and it's enough to make Jen break.

Jen is up from her desk and grabbing Leslie’s hair, twisting it until it hurts, it fucking hurts, pushing her until she's pinned against the wall. Her face is an inch from hers, tilting Leslie’s chin up, not afraid to look her in the eye.

“You took him from me,” Leslie whimpers, shaking from the cold, her scalp burning. “You did this. You took him. He's not him anymore.”

“I did not take Ben from you,” Jen hisses, right in Leslie’s face, her grip on her hair twisting tighter at every word. “He did this all on his own. I couldn't stop him.”

“No! Shut up!” Leslie shoves at Jen, beating at her chest and her shoulders with her fists, losing herself completely. “You took him! If he had never— if you had never— I lost him and it's your fault—”

And Jen is not one to take beatings. She releases Leslie’s hair in favor of grabbing both her wrists, pulling at Leslie and then slamming her back into the wall with enough force to make her falter, a dull thud against the surface, leaving Leslie heaving, trying to breathe. “Shut up,” Jen whispers, holding Leslie’s wrists on either side of her head. “Shut up. I tried to stop him. For your sake, I did.”

“Don't say that,” she cries. “Don't pretend like you've ever cared about me or Ben.”

“No,” she says. “I won't. Not like that. But I knew a breakup would hurt both your work.”

“He shouldn't have come in the first place. You—”

“I am not at fault for Ben leaving you.” Jen is breathing heavy now too, so close their foreheads are practically touching. “It is not my fault he doesn't love you anymore.”

“He does love me. He just…”

“No, Leslie. Ben doesn't love anything anymore.”

And something about that breaks Leslie. Something about it turns her into someone else. She's not sure why she does it, except maybe to feel something. Maybe to remind herself what it's like to be close to someone, as if she's still loved, as if she's still wanted. Maybe it's just pure self-destruction, pushing herself past the point of no return, as if eager to find a way to somehow ruin her life further.

So she kisses Jen. It's better than fighting her, better than yelling. It's rough and it's messy and it hurts, but through it she can release all her frustrations, all her pent up aggression, all the feelings she can't put into words.

Jen does Leslie one better. She takes control.

She kisses Leslie back with a ferocity she’s never felt before, not even with Ben. She grips Leslie tight enough that she worries she might break, she might simply snap in half, fragile under Jen’s power. Her hands are on her wrists and on the sides of her neck and pulling at her hair, her teeth capturing Leslie's bottom lip until it bleeds and she's whimpering.

“Please,” Leslie whines, hot tears running down her cheeks. “Please. I just…”

Jen grabs her hair by the top and tilts her head up so her neck is exposed, giving Leslie a steely gaze, as if she's another political opponent she's scoping out. As if this is nothing more than a debate that Jen needs to win. Leslie knows. She's seen this look on her before. 

“What do you want, Leslie?” Jen asks her. Her voice is soft, but Leslie doesn't dare mistake it for tenderness. Jen is not going to fix her heart, she’s not here to make her feel better— she's here to make her shut up. To make her move on.

This is the first step.

“I need to forget this,” Leslie cries, trembling. Her voice cracks. “I want to forget him.”

“Oh, hon,” Jen grins. “I'm great at helping when it comes to forgetting men.” 

Chapter Text

“What are we doing, Ben?”

The words are whispered in the dark, in the dead of the night, on Leslie’s couch. They don't move to the bed, because that makes it too real. That makes it seem like they meant for this to happen, like it was always going to happen. But on the couch, they can pretend. They can wake up in the morning and lie and say it was an honest mistake and won't happen again.

They're sitting too close to each other and Ben is touching her knee.

“I don't know,” Ben says, his voice raw with honesty. He clutches Leslie’s dress with a closed fist, the frustration evident in his shaking against her thigh. “But we can just… we can blame it on the wine.”

“We haven't had any wine.” That’s a lie. They've had a glass each. But that's not nearly enough to excuse the way his hand cups the back of her neck, the feeling of his breath against her skin. It's so wrong, so wrong. “What would she say? If she found out?”

That's what makes Ben’s jaw clench. It makes him pause, as if he's reconsidering for a brief moment, his hands tightening in her hair, on her dress. He squeezes his eyes shut and for a moment, Leslie thinks he will let go. He'll say he's sorry, that he shouldn't have let it get this far, and he’ll walk out of his house, back to his wife. Back to his daughter. Back to his home, where they wait for him. Where they trust him.

“Don't,” Ben breathes, like it pains him. His hand slips to her waist and then he's grabbing her, pulling her closer until Leslie is straddling his lap. It's the farthest they’ve ever gone before. Before now, it's been all flirty banter and stolen glances and forbidden feelings so poorly hidden, never talked about out loud. Leslie grips his shoulders, feels the muscle there, presses her palm to his chest. “Don't talk about her,” Ben says, looking up at her. “Tonight… let's just… I want to be someone else.”

“What do you want to be?”

He leans forwards until his lips touch her neck, whispering against her skin. “Yours,” he says. “Can we do that?”

She wants to. She so desperately wants to be his, ever since she met him. When he came to Pawnee with the same wedding ring on his finger that he wears now, with a picture of his young daughter in his wallet, Leslie loved him then. She shouldn't. But she did.

He was just supposed to be her secret crush. But then he started looking at her the same way she looked at him.

“Ben,” she gasps, her fingers curling into his hair. She's always wanted to touch it like this. His hands creep up her thighs under her dress. “You love her.”

“Maybe. But I might love you.”

“Don't say that. Don't give me any kind of hope. Your family—”

“I can't leave them.” He's perfectly honest. He won't pretend, not tonight, not until the morning comes. “But I can't live my whole life not knowing what it's like to have you.”

Leslie really, really shouldn't give in.

But she does.

She unbuckles his belt just as his hands reach her hips under her dress, and this is the point of no return. This is where they can't stop themselves, they've gone too far, so they might as well take the full path to destruction. From here, they are quick. They waste no time, as if they could be interrupted at any moment. As if reality might kick in soon and they need to act before it does.

He pushes her underwear aside and brushes his thumb over her clit, where she is aching, soaking, waiting for him. She moans, pressing her forehead to his, freeing his cock from his jeans.

Ben lifts her up and pulls her back down, impaling her on his cock. He fills her up and she writhes against him, stifling her groaning, gasping into his ear. Her nails dig into his shoulders as if to ground herself, to steady herself. She wants him. She wants him.

They shudder together, breathe together. They don't let go of each other. A tear slips down her cheek at the intensity of it all and he is so gentle in brushing it away, his thumb swiping across her cheek, holding her just so.

She tries to make this easier.

“Maybe…” she whimpers, as he bucks his hips against hers, “if we don't… if we just don't kiss, it'll be easier to pretend that this is nothing. So we can forget about it tomorrow.”

“No,” he says instantly, without a hint of hesitation. He holds her tighter, as if his life depends on it, his moan low in his throat as he sinks further into her. “No. If I'm going to have you, I want all of you.”

They both gasp as their lips meet, for the very first time, his tongue like sweet poison on the inside of her cheek. She's addicted. It strikes Leslie that all the worst things in life sometimes taste the sweetest— but she has always had a sweet tooth.

He just might ruin her life.

And she will let him.

Chapter Text

You have to go to Washington.

I was being selfish.

You put your whole life on hold for me. The least I can do is try to return the favor.

Leslie doesn't regret these words. She can't, not when it comes down to it. Washington was an excellent opportunity for Ben, and she couldn't let him pass it up in good conscience.

But she does kind of wonder what it would be like now if she never told him to go.

For the first month, everything is okay. She doesn't see him, but that's fine. They video call everyday. He smiles at her the same way he always has and he tells her he loves her. He texts her goodnight and sends three hearts, everytime. And Leslie will smile and sleep soundly, wishing he was there, but knowing he's okay. They're okay.

The second month gets a little weirder.

She still hasn't visited but Ben insists it's because he's just so busy. He wants to see her, he says, but the campaign is really picking up. He would have no time to give to her. Their calls get shorter and shorter and he looks more tired in each one, sweat on his brow and bags under his eyes, and he doesn't elaborate on why. Just that he's busy. That she shouldn't worry. That he loves her.

Goodnight texts with three hearts.

The third month comes and Leslie feels cold in bed and none of her shirts smell like Ben anymore. She starts to feel like she's being irritating, when she calls him, and he doesn't answer as often as he used to. And when he does, it's less than five minutes at a time, his voice clipped and cold, and she can't help but wonder if Washington is just hurting him. A couple days go by when he doesn't call at all but Leslie says it's fine, it's fine. She knows he loves her. They've gone through worse and made it out alive.

Four months in and he sends her a goodnight text, this time with only one heart.

And it shouldn't mean anything, really, but it does.

Because he never says good morning. Never says good afternoon, never asks how her day went. He doesn't call her and when she calls him, it goes to voicemail.

But it's fine, Leslie thinks. He's just busy. Once he's free he’ll get back to her. He has more important things to tend to than her.

She’ll survive.

She texts him everyday. She'll tell him what she eats for breakfast and the latest work antics, how Jeremy Jamm has tried to ruin her plans this time, whatever racist thing Milton said, or sexual thing Dexhart said. She texts him about Tom’s latest business ideas and about her girls nights with Ann, and how Chris is doing as City Manager. She tells him she misses him. She texts him about how pretty the skies look and how she wishes he could see how clean the parks are right now, and she tells him she misses sleeping next to him. How she hasn't been able to sleep the same way ever since he left for DC. She's getting only three hours a night and sometimes she thinks she's going crazy.

He still doesn't answer.

Around month five the panic sets in.

Ben is supposed to be back in Pawnee in a month and he hasn't said a word to her in even longer than that. His last text to her is that goodnight message with only one heart, everything sent after that left completely unanswered. She scrolls and she scrolls and all she sees are her own messages and she panics.

No one can possibly be that busy.

Is he dead? Is he lost? Did he lose his phone somewhere? Maybe he got a new number and hasn't figured out how to contact her yet. Maybe he hasn't received any of her messages and he’s wondering why she hasn't texted him.

Because if he could, he would absolutely be texting back, right?

Her messages to him get a little crazier.

‘Ben.’

‘Please answer.’

‘I need to know you're okay.’

‘Please, please talk to me. Talk to me.’

‘I love you.’

‘I miss you so much. I can't do this without you.’

‘Come back.’

‘Dammit Ben. Please. Come back. I love you.’

‘Please…’

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Nothing from Ben at all.

Leslie is heaving into her pillow with broken sobs, her laptop open on her bed. His profile is up and he's better than ever, he's been posting, he has time. He's happy. Ben is happy. 

Out of all the possibilities she considered, she never imagined this. She never thought that Ben just didn't want to message her anymore, didn't feel the need to, found so many things that were more important than her.

It strikes her that this is his way of leaving her. That they've likely been broken up for over a month now.

And all she can ask herself is why? Why is he doing this? Why didn't he say anything? Why did he take the cowards way out?

Why doesn't he want her? Why isn't she good enough? Why does he hate her? Why?

Ben never does answer Leslie ever again.

Chapter Text

Ben knows the end is near.

He tries to hold it off for as long as possible. Tries to pretend it's not happening, that everything is okay. He wakes up next to her and he smiles and holds her a little tighter, breathes her in, tries to be okay.

Their relationship has an expiration date.

Leslie talks in her sleep and Ben stays up all night just to hear her. He stays up all night because falling asleep means wasted time. Closing his eyes means he's not looking at her and if he's running on borrowed time, he doesn't want to miss a single moment. Not even for sleep. No matter how tired he gets.

He tries to stay positive, but the whole world is shaded gray.

They've had so little time. And he can't help but think if he had just been a little braver, kissed her a little sooner, they could've been together longer. He could've had more time to memorize her body and the way she throws her head back when she laughs, how her tiny fingers tighten their grip on his arms when he whispers in her ears, the way she smiles at him like he's just held up the world. They could've had more.

But maybe then it would hurt more, now, even more than it already does. Maybe then it would be too late. Maybe this way it's better.

He can do this. He can make a clean break. He can give her the damn box and then she can go and live the life she's meant to, without him, because he only holds her back. It'll destroy him, but she's worth it. To see her rule the world someday, it's worth it.

He tries to do it. He holds her extra tight that night and he silently cries when she finally falls to sleep, brushing her hair off her face and watching as it fans out on their pillow. He keeps his grief to himself so that she can sleep, when she so rarely gets it, the first in a long line of selfless acts he will make for her.

When she wakes up, he kisses her for a very long time. He kisses her like it might be their last. He reaches out to her as her eyes flutter open and he revels in the way she seems wide awake in only seconds. Her eyes are bright and she smiles instinctively upon seeing him, which only serves to make him want to cry again. An arm hooks around her waist and his hand presses into her bare skin, pulling into her warmth, pressing his lips to hers. 

He starts to choke up a little but if she notices, she doesn't let on. Both his hands reach up to cup her face and keep her close, parting his lips against her, uncaring that they're barely awake and it's not even seven and they both have morning breath. He doesn't care, because this could be his last chance. They have to go to work and then they're going to dinner tonight and he'll give her the box, he’ll finally be brave enough to do it, and it'll be over, and he’ll never kiss her again.

He tries to memorize her with just this one kiss. His hands shake as he holds her face and he forces himself not to fade away, to stay present, to remember every little thing, about how perfect his life is, at this exact moment in time, before it all fades away.

She looks just as shaken as he is when they finally pull apart. They pretend neither of them know why.

He tries to do it. But she flees at the restaurant. He holds his face in his hands and he tries so hard not to cry again, because he's in public, and she left right as he finally got up the nerve to do it. He was finally, finally brave enough, pulling the box out and setting it in front of her, asking her to open it. And she leaves him here, alone, and she doesn't come back, leaving him to his thoughts. 

He sits in that restaurant and faces the stares of the people who know he's been ditched. He holds that stupid box in his trembling hands and he can't move, can't breathe— he has no idea how he’ll ever work up that kind of nerve again. He needed her to be here, needed her to listen, needed her to look him in the eye and understand that he didn’t want this, but it had to be done. And now she's left him to drive home alone with a box that haunts him, with only the memory of that last kiss.

It might be the cruelest thing she's done.

She disappears for a whole day and Ben feels lost, staring empty-eyed around City Hall with that damn box sitting in his office. When Leslie finds him later she looks at him with such a sense of finality that he knows this is it, that it's over.

There are tears in both their eyes. They smile through it, just for each other.

He tells her that she makes campaign speeches in her sleep and all he can remember is yesterday morning, kissing her like the world was ending, and it already feels like so long ago. He looks at her as she holds that pin and she already feels so distant, so far away from him, and if it didn't hit him before, it definitely hits him now.

It's too late for them. The expiration date has passed. Leslie gets up and she moves on, just as well as she always does. She takes all their combined strength with her and leaves him some sort of shell of a man that he was with her, someone who is sharp and angry and wound up and has no purpose here, not anymore. That bit of hope he had died as soon as Leslie walked out the door.

He wishes, as she leaves, that she would turn around and kiss him, just one last time.

Just one last time.

Chapter Text

It starts, like most bad ideas do, with getting ridiculously drunk.

Andy and April come to visit Ben and Leslie in their DC home, all the kids away on sleepovers, and it's supposed to be a chill night, a calm one, where the two couples drink wine and complain together and reminisce about the old Parks Department days when none of them ever thought they would be where they are now.

And it starts that way, really. But somewhere along the way one glass of wine each turns into several bottles, giggles turn into crazed laughter, and tiny pecks turn into soft gasps and colliding tongues.

The two couples have all but forgotten each other— Andy and April on the floor, Leslie straddling Ben on the couch. Nothing too bad, they're careful. Just making out, and maybe Ben’s hand slips to Leslie’s ass and maybe April grinds down on Andy a little too purposefully. Either way, it's enough for worse decisions to be made.

“Ben,” April snaps, sitting up from Andy, her hair already a wild mess. “Ben. Stop groping her for a second.”

And Ben really doesn't want to, because Leslie is soft and in his lap and doing that thing he likes with her tongue, and he's definitely already hard. But April is insistent, so he pulls away, wraps his arms around her waist instead, and tries to keep his drunken vision clear. “What d’you want, April?”

“I have a bet for you,” she says, a little breathless, her nails digging into Andy’s shirt. “I bet… I bet that I can get Andy off before you can get Leslie off.”

Any other time, Ben might've turned beet red and run for the hills, but now he just giggles, high pitched like a little boy. “No you can't.”

“I know that I can. I'm an expert. Andy calls them my million dollar blowjobs.”

Andy grins goofily from under April. “It's true! It only took her thirty seconds one time.”

“That kind of sounds more like a you problem—”

“Bet you can't do it, Ben,” April cuts him off. “Bet you can't.”

Oh, god. Ben can feel his competitiveness rising to the surface, especially against April. Around her, he always feels like he has something to prove. And he doesn't say that he's definitely also made Leslie cum in thirty seconds (which, in his humble opinion, is a far more impressive feat than getting Andy to finish), he just sets his jaw, holds Leslie tighter, and stares April down. “Bet I can. You're on. Right here, right now.”

“Oh, we’re doing this?” Leslie giggles, and Ben just scoops her up and throws her down to the carpet, settling himself at her hips. “Right now?”

“Right fucking now, babe.”

April smirks, something slightly evil, kind of scary, and she shuffles down Andy’s body and starts to unbuckle his jeans. “Get ready, then. On my signal.”

Ben should probably question why and how in the world they're all okay with getting their partners naked and performing sexual acts right next to each other— but the amount of wine is his system stops him from caring too much. He's got something to prove, goddammit, and the two couples used to hear each other have sex through the walls all the time. This is only a step up from that, right? 

Whatever. He's got to beat April and Leslie really does look good enough to eat.

April starts tugging Andy's jeans down, so Ben sets to work himself, pushing her dress up around her hips and hooking his fingers into the band of her underwear, dragging it down her thighs. She squeaks and squirms as he tosses the garment aside, a little flushed, a little embarrassed— he can tell by the way she shudders when he positions himself between her legs, spreading them just so, goosebumps on her skin.

“Just relax,” he whispers into the skin of her hip, while April wrestles Andy’s boxers down across from them. “It's just me, honey. Just relax.”

Leslie takes a deep breath, nods, and curls her fingers into his hair. He can feel her gentle tug at his scalp, and he breathes in the scent of her. Her breath is shaky and she's already wet for him.

“Ready?” April calls out, and Ben chances a quick look just to make sure she isn't cheating. “Go!”

April wraps her fingers around Andy’s dick and descends upon him, just as Ben jolts into action. He throws Leslie’s legs over his shoulders and shoves his tongue inside her, pressing his thumb to her clit, just like he knows drives her wild. And it's now that he realizes he is actually at a slight disadvantage here— it is infinitely easier to get a guy to cum off a blowjob. 

“Fuck,” he hisses between Leslie’s legs, as he can hear Andy already losing himself to their right. Leslie is digging her nails into his hair and her hips buck, but it's not enough, definitely not enough, not when April is bobbing her head like a goddamn expert. No, they only just started, but Ben already needs to be quicker.

He knows just what to do.

Knowing exactly what gets Leslie off the best, he reaches a hand forward and pulls on her dress sleeves, tugging until they're dragging down her shoulders, the fabric bunching around her waist. His hand grips her breast, and then tugs her bra off, further exposing her, and he knows his plan is working as she moans, her nipples hardening under his fingers, her hips rolling underneath him against his face. He works with her shame, works with that specific little kink of hers, as she only grows more aroused.

“Ben,” she gasps, as he holds her hips down to suck on her clit. “Ben, Ben, please—”

His free hand pinches a nipple, twisting it just so, reveling in the way her gasps turn into tiny shrieks of pain. And it's so deeply erotic, so intimate an act to do right next to two friends, that it serves to turn Leslie on all the more, her cheeks burning bright red, Ben’s dick straining in his pants. Andy and April are not to be outdone, as two people a little more used to public displays of affection, Andy not afraid to make a little noise and April moaning deeply in her throat… but it still doesn't come close to Ben and Leslie.

Ben practically has Leslie naked on the carpet, holding on to his hair for dear life. His fingers roll and twist her nipples and just as he knows she's building, he can feel it, he trails his hand down her body, tongues and sucks her clit, and then proceeds to slide two whole fingers inside of her. Her back arches and she shoves her hips into his face, practically grinding against him, and that is when Ben knows he's going to win.

He pushes his fingers inside her and curls, hitting that spot that makes her go crazy everytime, and she explodes against his face, writhing under him, pulling his hair so furiously it burns, her eyes squeezing shut and her mouth open, leaving her gasping and swearing filthy obscenities.

Leslie is just coming down from her orgasm when he hears Andy grunt besides him, April swallowing and wiping her mouth against her hoodie sleeve. April glares at him, knowing damn well she's lost, and Ben celebrates his victory in the best possible way— kissing Leslie. She tastes herself against his lips, sucking down on his bottom lip, as his hands connect again to her breasts, kneading them without bothering to be gentle.

“Ben,” she gasps, as if she's forgotten they still have company. “Ben, I need you. Inside me. Right fucking now.”

April crosses her arms over her chest, still straddling Andy. “You guys are going to fuck right now, aren't you?”

And Ben can't even find it in himself to lie. “Oh, I'm going to fuck the shit out of her.”

Chapter Text

“Leslie, how about you tell us your story? Your testimony, if you will.”

She stands behind a podium on a tiny stage for a group of maybe twenty, and it's the worst possible time to put under the spotlight. Ben knows this; he’s grinning wickedly in his back row seat, watching her as she gets in position.

“Of course,” Leslie says, trying to act like she's not watching Ben. But he has that goddamn remote shoved in his pocket where she knows his hands are now, and her thighs clench in anticipation, anxiety, fear. Shame. “Um, I didn't actually always believe in God. Or any kind of God.”

This revelation has the expected result. A few glances, a couple whispers, eyes that look her up and down. And that's when the buzzing starts. Soundproof, not so anyone can hear it— but Leslie can feel it. Ben starts off with going easy on her, the vibrator on its lowest setting between her legs, but it's enough to make her squirm, enough to make her cast her eyes downwards at the podium as if she's consulting nonexistent notes.

“I started believing recently,” she lies, as the vibrations continue relentlessly. He plans on giving her no breaks. “I came here with my mom one day. I wasn't going to come back, but I… I met a friend.”

A friend. A friend who currently has very explicit plans to publicly humiliate her, a friend who ups the setting on the remote in his pocket until Leslie has to grip the podium so tightly her knuckles turn white. She sucks in a breath, tries to restrain herself, tries to act normal. The church stares at her, waiting, maybe wondering why she's taking so long to keep speaking.

“He's the preacher’s son,” Leslie says, and it comes out more like a gasp. Her underwear is flooded at this point and her knees threaten to buckle. “He… introduced me to God. He showed me what I was missing.”

Her legs are shaking behind the podium and her eyes squeeze shut. This is impossible, this is so impossible, and oh god, why won't Ben stop? Why won't he give her even a second’s break? He is relentless and smirking and he sets the vibrator to its highest setting, enough to make Leslie gasp audibly, quickly covering her mouth with her hand.

“Leslie?” a member asks, rising from his seat. “Are you alright?”

“I'm fine!” she snaps, maybe a little too aggressively, a little too breathlessly. “Don't get up, I'm fine, I'm fine. I'm just… I'm emotional.”

More like her legs are going numb and she is squirming, holding onto the podium for dear life. She knows her face is bright red and moans keep threatening to escape her lips, and Ben is going to make her cum right here in front of this church, isn't he?

She tries to continue. “He… my friend, he taught me… prayer.” So many prayers. “The Bible.” Smacking against her backside. “Worship.” On her knees, like a sinful whore, a dog. “And now I'm a believer.” She believes in Ben. “I thank him every—”

A low moan escapes her throat, so sensual and so unmistakable that it's a miracle she finds a way to cover it up. She covers her face in her hands and starts to sob, really sob, like the story is too emotional to get through, just as Ben sends her completely over the edge.

She is gasping, shuddering, her body won't stop shaking. She's short on breath and she just keeps crying, hugging the podium, bucking her hips just so, pressing her thighs together and silently begging Ben to end it, to stop the vibrations, he’s already made her cum, goddammit, what more does he want?

It doesn't stop until the preacher touches her shoulder, moved by her emotional display. And Ben… fucking Ben— he just laughs. So silently, in the back, switching the remote off. 

As it turns out, not even God can save her when it comes to Ben Wyatt.

Chapter Text

When you're a political leader, there's always a chance you'll get hurt. It's just part of the job. A risk you take when you're sworn in. 

Ben accepted this risk when he became a Congressman. He understood this meant his life would become a little more dangerous, but that was alright. He could live with that— because it was just supposed to be his risk. No one else's.

But now his wife is on her knees in front of him, red pooling from her gut where she took a bullet that was meant for him. For him.

“Oh my god,” she chokes, pressing her hands into her stomach. She continues to collapse until she's on the floor, and Ben holds her, just holds her, pressing her against him. “Oh god, oh god, Ben, Ben…”

She’s stumbling and she's crying, she's sobbing, and Ben holds her. There's no one around, not yet, and this was so stupid of him, so so stupid, to choose to go out on a walk with her without telling anyone where they would be. It's dark and his phone is at home and he doesn't know where to turn.

“Why did you do that?” he gasps, his voice raw, holding her face with two bloody hands. “Why would you ever do that? Why? That was meant for me, it was mine, why did you, why…” Why did she step in front of him? Why did she save his life? It should be him lying here now, him bleeding out, him in this much pain.

Leslie can't answer him, she just chokes, and she cries. It is gut wrenching and she's trembling, trying to find her breath. “Ben, Ben, it hurts, it hurts… please Ben—”

“What can I do? Please, Les, fuck, I need my phone, oh god— where's my fucking phone?”

“Ben I can't do this,” she says, all one breath, her face twisting. “I can't do this I can't do this I can't do this, make it stop—”

“I'm gonna make it stop, babe, I promise, I promise. I need… I need my phone, I need… help. I need help. HELP! GET ME SOME HELP, PLEASE!—”

But she holds his face as he screams until his throat is raw, digs her fingers into his cheeks and tries to meet his eyes. “No, no, let me go, Ben—”

“What?”

“I can't do this— Let me go. Make it stop. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, babe—”

“What are you saying? What the fuck are you saying?”

The blood pools and she gasps, her face so pale that it's ghostly. The pain washes over her and she screams, actually screams, heaving into Ben’s chest. “Just get it over with,” she sobs, and her hand slips from his face to his shirt, to his tie. “I'm gonna die anyway.”

“Leslie, don't say that. Never say that. You're not going to die, you're not allowed to die, especially not for me.”

“Let me go, Ben, please—”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Just kill me,” she breathes. “I want you to. I need you to. Make it… make it stop hurting. Please, please, get it over with—”

It's inevitable.

“No!” Ben screams, holding her tighter as she claws at him, claws at her blouse, at her stomach, pressing at it as if to keep the blood in. “No, no, I love you, how could you ever suggest…? No, we’ll find another way out of this, you have to live…”

“Ben.” She is stern, pleading, desperate. “Please, Ben, if you ever loved me, you’ll do this for me.”

If he ever loved her. 

He said he would do anything for her. Anytime, anywhere. And maybe it's selfish of him to keep her here with him when she's in so much pain. Maybe it's selfish to keep her alive just so that she can slowly die, all because he can't bring himself to kill her with his own hands. He tries to imagine it, a reality in which he touches her with the intention to break instead of heal, murder instead of love.

No. No, it's impossible. No, he's okay with being selfish. Ben needs to be selfish.

“No,” he tells her, pushing her hair out of her face. “No, I love you, and that's why I'm going to keep you alive.”

That's why he's going to save her.

Chapter Text

“I hate you.”

“Shut up—”

“I need you to know, I hate you so much—”

“Shut up,” Ben hisses, clapping his hand over Leslie’s mouth. He grips her shoulder and firmly presses her against the bathroom door, covering her with his body. “You kissed me first.”

She pushes her arm up and wrestles his hand away from her mouth. “I'm drunk! I can still hate you—”

“We’re both drunk, Leslie.”

“So maybe I was thinking this is the perfect time to absolutely slam some sense into you—”

He pushes her again, slamming her back into the door. The Snakehole Lounge blasts music on the other side, vibrating against the door, celebrating the twenty-first birthday of a government employee Ben doesn't even know. “What? You think you can seduce the auditor into giving you money? Into letting you keep your job? Is that what this is about?”

Leslie huffs a little scream of impatience, writhing against Ben in a way that makes his cock twitch. He groans, low in his throat, as she continues to fight him. “No,” she insists, her face bright red, full of passion. “No, I didn't think that. This isn't planned, you asshole. We got drunk and I kissed you and now I have every intention of slamming sense into you for being so cold and unfeeling—”

“How? By getting on your knees? By sucking my cock? Is that going to make you feel big and accomplished and in charge?”

“I hate you so much, I hate you—”

Ben covers her mouth again, more firmly this time, before pulling the buttons of her blouse undone with nothing more than a flick of his wrist. She releases a muffled squeak of shock as he raises his hand to her breast, squeezing just so, cupping it as if he owns it. “You don't get to slam sense into me, do you know why? Because I’m going to fuck sense into you, Leslie. And you're going to shut up and listen to me.”

Her words are muffled against his hand, wriggling against him. He pushes her shirt completely off her body and snaps her bra off, reaching for a nipple and twisting it until she gasps. “Do you understand?” he reiterates.

A shudder runs through her body, and she nods.

Ben releases her breast and slides down her stomach, working eagerly at the button of her pants now, his other hand still pressed over her mouth. He starts to slide the fabric down her legs, eager to get her as completely naked next to him as he can. “Leslie,” he hisses, as he shoves her pants across the bathroom floor. “I'm going to fuck you, with my fingers, right up against this bathroom door, do you understand me? I have every intention of shoving my tongue inside you until you scream, loud enough for everyone outside to hear you, so you'll be reminded who’s actually in charge here. You are not calling the shots, Ms. Knope.”

She moans at this— actually moans, and that combined with how damp her panties are when he runs his knuckles over them tells him everything he needs to know. “Don't speak,” he instructs her, before he lifts his hand from her mouth in favor of sliding her underwear down her legs and shoving them into his pocket. She won't be getting those back at any point tonight. He grips her thighs and spreads them, just enough to give him proper access, before pressing his fully clothed body back against hers, his fingers coming to rest just gently around her throat.

“Look at me,” he tells her, and her eyes flicker up to meet his, widening instantly as he pushes two fingers inside her, curling them slowly. “You're so wet. Jesus, you like this. You like when I tell you what to do, don't you?”

She doesn't say anything, just whimpers as his fingers slide in again, allowing his thumb to circle around her clit. She's trying her best to be quiet, which normally Ben would encourage (it's his first day as an auditor in Pawnee, he really should not be stripping the Deputy Director of the Parks department naked), but right now, he really wants to work with her shame. He pounds his fingers inside her until her whole body is shaking with the force of it, reveling in the way her face burns red, she squeezes her eyes shut, she tries to keep her moaning at bay. He pulls her own hand from her mouth and presses against her clit, shocking her just enough to produce a low, growling moan from her throat that makes her back arch against the door.

“You're going to think about this at our next meeting,” he tells her, rubbing merciless circles against her clit. She's panting, holding onto his collar and his tie for dear life. “When we have our next budget meeting, and I tell you you can't do something, you'll start to squirm in your seat because you'll be picturing my hand between your legs, telling you what to do. You'll pretend like it doesn't turn you on, but it does.”

Leslie moans, whispers his name under her breath, and Ben can tell she's getting close. Never one to go against his word, he pulls his fingers from her, making her whine with the loss, but he's already getting on his knees. He hoists her up the bathroom door and lifts both her legs to sit over his shoulders, gripping her hips and shoving his tongue inside her, refusing to give her even the slightest break. Leslie shrieks, slams the door with her open palm before grabbing his hair for support. She's absolutely heaving, shaking above him, his tongue exploring her while his fingers still work away at her clit at a rapid pace.

“Scream, Leslie,” he commands between her legs, sucking hard on her clit, running his hand up her trembling thighs. “Cum for me. Do as I say. Scream.”

The orgasm rolls through her as soon as he demands it, feeling her explode with his tongue between her legs. Her fists bang furiously against the door, her back arching, pulling his hair, her lips falling open in a very worthy scream. He continues to rub and explore and lap at her as her screaming turns into low moaning, and then exhausted whimpering, her naked body going limp in his arms. 

Ben lowers her to the floor and rewards her with one final kiss— to her lips, if only to make her taste herself on his tongue. “Good girl,” he tells her, with only a hint of smugness. Her eyes flare, just only just so. He considers it a victory. “I'll see you at work tomorrow, Ms. Knope. Hopefully with more clothes on.”

When Leslie finally steps out of the bathroom after him, there are definitely more than a couple stares throughout the Snakehole Lounge. But Ben doesn't care. He's too drunk to care, and he's still got the taste of an infuriatingly beautiful woman on his tongue.

He’ll figure it out when he's sober.

Chapter Text

It's been five years since they called off their relationship without telling a soul, and four years since he’s watched her through her office window, so he's supposed to be okay.

They parted amicably, even. They both knew that this thing they had, it was unsustainable. There were too many things in the way and it just wasn't meant to be, not when the universe was so against them. They pretended it didn't hurt and they moved on.

And he moved away, and all was supposed to be well. They were friends. It was fine.

They're both very important people now, both expected at this ceremony, and he tells himself it's fine because they were friends. Because it's been so long, it must not mean anything to either of them now. But when he spots her across the room in a shimmering gown, and her eyes meet his, there's a feeling in his gut he can't ignore.

“You're here,” she says to him. Her smile is bright and it shows in her eyes, but then again, she's always been good at pretending. “I haven't seen you in… wow, a long time.”

The words are stuck in his throat, his hands start to shake. “Yeah.”

“This isn't weird, is it?” she asks, noting how he clenches his fingers. “You look a little sick—” She reaches for him then, her tiny, deft fingers stretching towards him, as if to soothe him, some kind of habit or reflex that she probably doesn't even realize she's doing. But he notices, he sees it, and her palm on his knuckles burns with the contact— he jerks away.

“Don't touch me,” he gasps, pushing her arm away and stumbling back. “Don't… don't do that.”

Her eyes widen, looking between him and her own open palms. “I— I’m sorry, I didn't even realize— I thought that we—”

“You thought wrong.” He holds his burning hands to his chest, right up against his heart, and decides all on his own that maybe it's best if they never see each other again. They're not the same as they used to be. They're two different people, the love they had long since dead, leaving two ghosts in its wake. “It's different, now. It's too late.”

And when he walks away from her, he finally allows his heart to break.

Chapter Text

No number haunts Ben more than thirteen.

Not because it's a traditionally unlucky number, although there is a sort of irony in that. No, specifically its thirteen minutes. A thirteen minute drive that he can't take, a thirteen minute drive that she won't take, a thirteen minute distance between them that feels farther and farther away everyday.

It should be nothing. It's only thirteen minutes.

It should be nothing, but instead it's everything. And every single damn day Ben wakes up and thinks about her, and how badly he wants to see her again after a very long four months. He wonders what it would be like to hold her again, or even so much as laugh with her again, watching as she breaks out into a contagious giggle that makes his heart swell.

And then he remembers, with sudden clarity, that he could do all that. After all, Leslie's only a thirteen minute drive away.

Ben hovers outside his car with his keys in hand, finding it difficult to get in, or even unlock it. Because if she wanted to see him, she would say something, right? She would've asked him by now, even so much as texted him just to say hello.

So instead he stares at his phone. She's just one text message away. That's infinitely easier than thirteen minutes.

But still, nothing.

It isn't until Chris sends Ben with instructions to ask her about a work project that he realizes he’ll have to face this issue on his own. He has to be strong enough to pick up the phone and act like he's okay, act to the whole world that nothings wrong at all, even if deep down he's still hopelessly in love with her and she can't even find it in herself to ask how he is.

For several minutes, they pretend as if nothing is wrong at all.

“Oh. Ben, hi!” she exclaims, her voice rising higher in pitch, and Ben can't help it— he grins.

“Hey, Leslie.”

They talk for a while, seemingly about everything, but in reality it's nothing. It's so empty, some hollow form of what they used to be. They pretend like it's all the same, bouncing off of each other, all smiles and soft laughter, the dream team they once knew and loved.

Until it sinks in. And laughter becomes more nervous, there's more awkward pauses between questions. And while Ben calls for her, loving the sound of her name on his lips, she grows more and more unresponsive, becoming much more distant, and he can see it all again— he’s seen this happen before, he knows just how this film ends.

“Uh,” he starts, clearing his throat, before taking the leap with no preparation at all. “Leslie. I was just thinking, we should talk more. Maybe hang out more. What do you think?”

She's silent for just a beat too long. “Oh, I— I mean, you think we should?”

“I mean, why not? We never talk anymore. You never reach out to me.”

“Well.” There's another pause, too heavy to be anything but painfully telling. “I've only ever been a call away.”

“And I’ve only ever been thirteen minutes away.”

She knows exactly what he's talking about. There's no need for clarification. He's just sent this conversation straight to the deep end, into something casually cruel, all in the name of being honest.

“So have I,” Leslie responds, choking on her words. “You know, it's a two-way street. It's the exact same distance, you could've come to see me, but you didn't.”

And Ben is done pretending. He's so done with pretending.

“Because you left me, Leslie . I told you I loved you, I told you I would drop everything for you, go into battle for you, and you left me. So yeah, I haven't reached out, because at this point, I'm pretty sure that's your job.”

“I couldn't let you do that for me. It's too much, too much for any one person to give. You have so much life to live, Ben—”

“And I wanted to live it with you.” He needs to calm down. He's practically yelling now, his voice raw with emotions he's been holding in for too long. He knows she has too, if he can only find it. If he can just get her to break and let all those walls come falling down… “I offered to do that for you because I wanted to.”

“But I couldn't let you,” she whispers, and for a moment, it sounds like she might be crying. “It's okay, Ben. I can get used to settling if it keeps you safe.”

And that would almost be painfully romantic, if it didn't serve as a punch to the gut.

“The fact of the matter is, we’ve both only ever been thirteen minutes away from each other, and we never once moved. No matter where you cast blame… neither of us moved.” It's a crime that he's still so hopeful. But for him, wanting is enough. The hope of it all is enough. “But it doesn't have to be this way, does it?”

Leslie only sighs. “I mean… that should really say something, don't you think, Ben?”

She hangs up not long after that, leaving Ben alone once more. And even though this whole time she was only ever thirteen minutes away, it only took her nine to break his heart again.