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A Collection of One-Shots

Chapter Text

Ron was utterly furious. That was made abundantly clear when he continued to throw a tirade of insults at Leslie as they packed the car.
And she put up with it, for some reason. Tom, who actually shot Ron, hadn’t come forward, and if Leslie learned anything in Girl Scouts, it was don’t be a snitch. She had learned that the hard way when she had caught Milly Miller (her real name) sneaking lollipops and, when she told the Camp Counsellor, Milly Miller dunked her head down the toilet for the next week.
It wasn’t that Tom was capable of dunking her. That was genuinely laughable. But she had a feeling she knew why he hadn’t come forward. He had done something stupid- not getting a hunting license was a huge offense, and she knew what her co-workers were like. Rightly or not, he would never hear the end of it. At least this way, he could owe her big time for the remainder of their working relationship. Was that mean?

Oh, who cares, because since she wouldn’t tell on him, that meant that she wasn’t hearing the end of Ron’s hurtful comments. And they were really quite hurtful for someone who was wrongfully accused.
“I don’t know why I ever trusted you to be deputy of my department,” Ron said loudly, prompting an eye roll from Donna as she went past. “Someone that bad of a shot isn’t worth having.”
“Are you done now?” Leslie heard Donna say. She was too busy shoving her bag into the boot of the car, ignoring how her eyes stung.
“Not hardly!” Ron barked back.
Leslie peeked around from the car and saw Ann talking avidly with Tom by the entrance to the cabin. Tom was shying away from her, and then Ann poked him in the chest. Leslie’s spirits lifted slightly. Beautiful Ann was looking out for her- hopefully this terrible day would finally turn around.

Leslie came around from the car, just in time for Ron to keep berating her.
“It’s utterly disgraceful, Knope! Next time we go on a group activity, I don’t think you’ll be invited.”
“What?” Leslie asked.
“You might shoot another person in the head and this time they won’t be as lucky as I was!”
“Ron-” Tom started, hurrying over. Ann ran after, looking dismayed.
“You’re the most irresponsible person I’ve ever met! I don’t think I can even call you my friend after this!”
Silence. Leslie swallowed a lump in her throat and looked down. Ron continued to stare daggers.
“Ron, I know you’re in pain-” Tom said slowly. “And I don’t want to add to that…”
Ann slapped him on the back of the head.
“Ow! Okay, well… technically it wasn’t Leslie who shot you. It was me.”
Ron stood up and looked at him. From behind Tom, Ann could see that there were probably a million different thoughts running through his head.
“I didn’t have a license,” Tom continued slowly. “And I didn’t want to get in trouble. I know it’d probably be jail time, so…”
“Are you kidding me?” Ron practically roared. “That’s insane!”
Ann stepped in. “It really was. And Leslie took the fall for him. So, can you stop being a dick to her and be a dick to the person who actually shot you?”
Ron patted Ann’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.” He turned around. “Leslie, I’m so-”

Leslie wasn’t stood next to them anymore. The three of them glanced around, but she wasn’t nearby. Donna got out the car and walked over to them.
“If you’re looking for Leslie, I think she went into the woods after he shouted at her.”
“Why didn’t you stop her?” Ann asked, throwing up her hands.
“Y’all left me to pack the car! I don’t know where Mark and Jerry are, but they’re not here. Maybe they’ve gone to take a whizz or something, I don’t know.”
Ron buried his face in his hands. “That isn’t good.”
“You were being really harsh,” Ann spat as she moved around the car to scan the trees. 
“I thought she shot me, woman!” Ron retorted as he moved to stand next to her.
“Still! She’s my best friend who didn’t rat out Tom and actually saved his ass!”
“She has a point,” Tom cut in as he slunk over to them. “But Ron, please don’t murder me.”
Ron looked for a second like he was extremely tempted, but instead he shook himself.
“It’s fine,” Ron said curtly. “I’ll go and find her- it’s my fault this happened.”
“That’s fair,” Tom said with a grin. Everybody turned to give him a dirty look.
“Scratch that, it’s your fault, but I’m going to fix it anyway because I’m a responsible adult.”
“Okay, that’s fair,” Tom whined slightly. He went to go sit in the car and Donna joined him.
Ann turned to Ron. “Do you want me to come with you?”
“No, you should stay here in case she comes back.”
Ann bit her lip. “Okay.”

***

Leslie sat on a tree stump and cried. Then she berated herself for crying. She was a strong and powerful woman, and she was crying because Ron said he didn’t want to be her friend?
It was so unfair. Why couldn’t Tom have just got a license in the first place, so she didn’t have people thinking she shot somebody?! It was utterly humiliating. And she didn’t think she had ever seen Ron that angry before- and she hated the fact that it was at her.
She was broken out of her thoughts when she heard footsteps approaching. She looked up and, sure enough, Ron was moving through the woods towards her. Leslie silently cursed how bright her outfit was. All she had wanted to do was cry for two hours and then move on with her life. Was that too much to ask?

He stopped just shy of a metre away from her.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know that you were taking the fall for Tom.”
Leslie wiped her eyes furiously. “Well, yeah.”
Ron moved to stand awkwardly next to her. “You did the right thing. You saved Tom’s ass.”
Leslie didn’t reply, she just put her head in her hands. Ron rubbed his face, stressed.
“I didn’t mean it when I said you were irresponsible. Or that you couldn’t be my- be my friend. I don’t think that would be true even if you did shoot me.”
Leslie laughed shakily before looking up at him. “I know. It’s because you’re in pain. Because Tom shot you.”
She stood up and Ron patted her shoulder. She went in for a full hug, and he hesitated for a second. Leslie thought he wouldn’t, but then he was squeezing her back. When she pulled away, she gave him a teary smile.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated.
“I know. Now let’s go home so someone can fix the back of your head.”
Ron harrumphed. “Agreed. I love the back of my head.”
Leslie laughed loudly. “I know!”



Chapter Text

Leslie shifted in her sleep in Ben's bed, but felt a shooting pain in her lower stomach. She jolted awake, and scooted over to notice a red stain on his sheet. She slowly pulled Ben's arm away from her hip, and nervously stood up to analyze the situation.

This happened before with an old boyfriend, and he yelled at her. She tried to yell back, but she was in pain and cranky and sad, so she felt more like crying than fighting. Now she just avoids the subject entirely when she can, which isn't always easy.

She's not ashamed of it, she's just too exhausted when it happens to deal with people getting annoyed about it.

Leslie paced the room before she remembered that she should probably go to the bathroom. She reached for her purse, and breathed a sigh of relief when she found one tampon in it.

In the bathroom she realized she had bled on her pants, but it was fine. She just needs to find some kind of stain cleaner for the bed.

//

She should have known April and Andy don't have anything as responsible as a stain remover.

Ok, this isn't a big deal. Is there bleach somewhere?

Maybe she could get the sheet off the bed and into the wash. Wait, Ben is in the bed. How would that work?

This would be so much easier if they were at her house. Even though she has too much stuff, at least she doesn't have too little of anything and she isn't missing any important items.

Ben wakes up somewhere during her endless mental tirade. "Leslie?" He says groggily.

She immediately jumps back onto the bed to cover up the stain. "Hmm?"

He frowns at the leap she made to the bed. "Mind explaining why you just did that?"

"Ummm... I..." This isn't convincing or helpful. "... do mind actually."

"Leslieeeeeee." He whines.

"Beeeeeeeeen."

"Okay, well, do you want breakfast?" He stands up and reaches for her hand. Leslie hesitates.

"Leslie, you are not good at being sneaky. What's going on?"

"Nothing! What makes you think something is going on?" And why is her voice getting so loud, for that matter? "And I am excellent at being sneaky."

"No you're not. More importantly, you not jumping up in excitement at the mention of breakfast is a big one." He slowly comes to realize she has been frozen in place for a while. Ben attempts to gently pull her off the bed and she freezes again, a pained look on her face.

"Leslie, what did you-" He finally manages to move her a couple inches and pauses. "Oh."

"I'm sorry!" She exclaims, loudly.

April knocks on the wall they share. "You two shut up!" Damn, she's grouchy. Must not be a morning person, though it's not all that surprising.

"Leslie, it's not a big deal." Ben says after he stops staring at the wall in horror of other things they possibly heard.

"It isn't?"

"Of course not." He says, bewildered.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah... Leslie, what's going on?" Ben feels like a broken record asking that question, but he needs to know she's okay. He wants to protect her and always make her feel happy, but she shouldn't be so hesitant to tell him stuff. That seems out of character for her, she's usually pretty open.

"I was with some people who weren't very... tolerant of the whole thing." She feels another cramp, and clutches her stomach, and Ben's heart breaks at the sight of her in pain.

"What 'whole thing?'" He says, reaching for her hand again, Leslie finally taking his.

She gives him a pointed look.

"No, I mean, why is it a 'whole thing?' It's not your fault." He steps closer to her and kisses her gently on the forehead.

"Do you really mean that?"

"Of course. Back to my question. Do you want breakfast?"

She finally jumps up in excitement, and he drops his forehead to hers.

"Thank you, Ben."

"Anytime. When are you going to learn you're not sneaky?"

"Never!"

He fake gasps. "So you admit it?"

"NEVER!" She leans into him as he opens the bedroom door for her.

Before Ben can reply, a loud and painful-sounding groan comes from April and Andy's bedroom.

Chapter Text

What does it feel like to know that all your friends are gone?

No, it’s fine. It’s fine. Leslie knew it was fine.

You’re totally alone- and without your friends, you’re nothing.

I’m Leslie Knope!

Even Ben is gone. He knew you were worthless.

It was strange. Leslie could feel the pressure pushing down on her like someone was stepping on her chest and crushing it. She was dreaming- she hoped so anyway. Staring into the abyss and feeling the utter hopelessness leaking out. She was totally alone.
Where was Ron when she needed him? Oh god, even Ron wasn’t here. The darkness was swallowing her up.

You are totally alone- and without your friends, you’re nothing.

***

Leslie gasped awake. She took some deep breaths, both of them catching in her throat. Before she could make another move, however, she felt Ben leap up beside her. He quickly helped her sit up, and even just the touch of his hands on her body made her feel ten times better.
“Deep breaths,” he instructed. “Did you have a nightmare?”
“Yeah,” Leslie replied. “Ugh it was awful.”
Ben hummed beside her, and for a while all they did was wait for Leslie to calm down. When she did, she brought her hand up to her face. She had been crying.  He noticed too, and slowly wiped her tears, pausing occasionally to give her kisses. She felt her heartrate slowing. He was such a calming presence when he wanted to be.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Ben murmured.
“Not yet,” Leslie replied. “Can we just… lie for a minute?”
“Of course,” Ben replied instantly, and he wrapped his arms around her in a protective embrace. She sighed softly.

***

It was strange. Usually dreams faded within minutes of waking up, but this one stuck in her mind. It was especially strange since the dream didn’t even make sense- it was an intense feeling rather than a sequence of events, and Leslie hated that she couldn’t systematically work through it.
In her eyes, any problem could be solved. But it was a lot harder when it wasn’t at all clear what she was looking at.
“Your thoughts are loud,” Ben said softly. “What are you thinking?”
“I’m just… confused,” she said slowly. “The dream didn’t even make sense, I just… I felt so alone.”
“You’re not alone,” he said. “Not ever.”
“I know,” Leslie said, and she believed it. Even if the dream had seemed real, she really wasn’t alone. She was one of the least lonely people on the planet.
“Good, I’m glad,” Ben said quietly, kissing her again. “Do you think you’ll be able to go back to sleep?”
With his arms around her? Definitely. “Yes.”

And so they fell back to sleep. Together.

Chapter Text

April and Andy were minding their own business in Ramsett Park, sleepily leaning against each other when a woman came up to them and started talking.

"Andy Dwyer? Is that you?"

Andy looked up to see a tall, skinny blonde with big green eyes.

"Susan?"

April woke up and glared at Susan.

Susan was a little stunned at April's threatening gaze, but she turned back to Andy.

"Yes, it's me! It's been too long!"

"I guess it has."

Susan looks around, her eyes circling back to April. "And who is this?"

"This is my wife, April. We got married last year."

Susan's happy expression visibly dampens a little at this news. "Oh... well. That's something."

Andy smiled proudly. "Yeah, it is."

Susan pulls out a card and pen and starts writing something. "If you ever want to..." Her gaze flickers back to April for a moment and then back to him, " ...catch up, here's my number."

She hands him the card and Andy hesitates but takes it.

"I got to run. But call me sometime, alright?"

"Maybe."

Susan quickly walks away to her car, and April finally sits herself up. "Who was that?"

"Girl from high school. We dated for a little bit. I can't remember her last name."

"Oh. Did she break your heart? Can I go murder her?" April grins, already forming a plan.

"We just kind of drifted apart. Do you know what that means? I've heard a lot of people say that about people just losing touch or something. Did I use it right?"

April smiles and rolls her eyes. "Yes you did, Andy."

"Nailed it."

Chapter Text

“There you are!”
Tom dragged Leslie by the arm into the hospital ward and was greeted by an incredibly exasperated Ann Perkins. Tom put on his best smile.
“Aw! Were you waiting for me, Ann?”
It only hurt a little when she totally ignored him and put all her focus into Leslie, who was currently trying to catch “thousands of tiny fireflies in the air.”
“Yeah,” Tom continued. “I think her brain is melted. She took all the medication.”
I know,” Ann said, shining a light into Leslie’s eyes and making her groan. “She stole it from April and Chris to go to that stupid meeting.”
“What time is the meeting?” Leslie asked, pushing away from Ann to turn to look at Tom. “Do we have time to get some fresh socks from my house first?”
Tom followed behind Ann as she took Leslie’s arm, leading her back into the hospital room. Leslie sat on the bed and Ann took her temperature. She looked like she was about to snap in half from the stress.
“Err… boo-boo? You actually did the meeting already,” Tom reminded Leslie.
“I did?”
“Yeah and you actually crushed it.”
Ann froze, before looking at Tom in confusion. “She did?”
“Yeah! I don’t know what to tell you, but she did. Ben was really impressed.”
Leslie promptly bent over to vomit on the floor, so that was when Tom dashed off.

***

The vomit was cleaned up. Leslie apologised multiple times, and it actually made Ann a little irritated.
"I'm not annoyed about the vomit."
"What then? You're all..." Leslie gestured wildly with her hand, giggling a little.
Ann frowned. “Okay, you do realise that if you try and escape again this time it’ll genuinely hurt my feelings? And you stole poor Chris’ medicine! And April’s! Who I don’t like at the moment but still, she’s very sick and you took her medicine away. Do you understand how bad that is?”
Leslie blinked up groggily at Ann as she tucked her into the bed. “Yes. I think I understand.”
Ann chuckled. “How many heads do I have?”
“Four.”
Leslie was now back in hospital scrubs and actually getting rehydrated with fluids. Ann had no idea how she managed to keep it together for that meeting but honestly, sometimes she thought that Leslie was some kind of magical creature. Any normal person would have collapsed, or just melted.
“I’m sorry I ran away,” Leslie said, catching Ann’s expression. “I just needed to.”
“You didn’t need to,” Ann replied, feeling her forehead. “You put yourself at risk.”
Leslie sat back, suddenly feeling very tired. Ann caught that, so she went and turned off the light.
“Love you Ann,” came the quiet, sad voice from the bed.
Ann rolled her eyes. “Love you too. But you’re a pain in the ass.”

***

The next time Ann went to check up on Leslie, that lanky Ben was just leaving.
“Oh, hi!” he said, smiling. Ann smiled back.
“Hey! What’s got you in such a good mood?”
Ben squirmed. “Oh! Well, Leslie did a great job at the meeting. I did try and get her to go back to hospital but-”
“-but she openly refused and sometimes it’s easier to just go along with it? I feel that.”
The two of them smiled at each other.
“I brought her some soup. She preferred the waffles, but hopefully she’s going to eat it at some point.”
“That’s really nice of you,” Ann said. “I’d better check on her, although she isn’t my favourite patient at the minute. Granted, she isn’t my least favourite either.”
“She’s a comfy middle,” Ben said with a laugh. “Anyway, I’d better run. See you later!”
“Bye!” Ann watched him leave, a confused smile on her face. This guy was nice, if a little awkward.

She entered the room to see Leslie just finishing off the waffles. Ann laughed inwardly at the fact that the soup was practically untouched. Leslie perked up at the sight of her.
“Hi!”
“Hey.”
“Listen, I know you’re annoyed at me for not doing what you said. I’m sorry.”
“I’m annoyed at you because you put yourself in danger,” Ann replied, a stern look on her face.
“I don’t really care about stuff that though, to be honest,” Leslie told her. "Danger... stuff."
“It’s not like you ever do what I say anyway,” Ann spat, and instantly regretted it, partially because Leslie was her best friend, but also because she was on duty, and if she could keep it together for April, she should really be keeping it together for Leslie. But it was sort of different with her.

Leslie didn’t reply right away. She moved position in the bed so she was sitting up totally and fixed her with a sad look.
“Ann, you should know that I take your advice totally to heart. I would only not do it if I totally disagreed. You should also know three other things. One- I love you more than anyone, ever. Two-work comes before my own happiness but should never come above yours. So I’m sorry.”
Ann grimaced. “It comes above your happiness? That’s a terrible rule.”
“But work makes me happy, so it all evens out in the end!”
“And what was the third thing?” Ann asked. Leslie frowned.
“What?”
“You said I needed to know three things.”
“Oh…” Leslie frowned. “Maybe it was that the room is twisting into many different shapes. But it’s actually sort of pretty, so I don’t mind.”
“Leslie,” Ann said as she checked her temperature. It had gone down, that was good. She was probably still dealing with the after-effects of the medicine overdose. “You legitimately scared me before.”
Leslie sighed. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
“Is that so you won’t scare me or because you realise you need to take care of yourself?”
“I don’t need to answer that question, I’m sick.”
Ann rolled her eyes for what felt like the thousandth time that day. “Well, you’re doing better. Do not take that as a reason to leave.”
“I won’t! I have work here.”
“You actually don’t. I found it under the bed and hid it.”
Leslie grinned for the first time the whole conversation. “Ann! You devious bastard!”
“Will you just do as I say?”
“I will.”
The two women smiled at each other. Ann reached over to pat Leslie’s arm.
“Hey. I’m glad you’re feeling better.”
“Thanks, Ann," Leslie said with a yawn.
Ann moved to shut the curtains. "So what's the deal with you and Ben?"
She turned around, but Leslie was already asleep. Ann sighed slighty, a soft smile on her face.

Chapter Text

Ben kept telling her that she needed to take a break from work, but Leslie wouldn't listen. She couldn't. Pregnancy was hard, painful, debilitating, and humiliating how she couldn't seem to do one thing herself. She needed something she could do.

Leslie knew Ben didn't mind helping her and making her feel comfortable, it's what they've been doing for each other for their entire relationship. But the pregnancy self-pity and guilt and hormones didn't help anyone.

So she continues typing up her document, almost done, almost ready to be emailed. She shifts around on the bed, as a sharp cramp goes through her body and leaves her in shivers, the laptop sliding from her lap to the bed.

This position isn't bad. She could feel herself drifting off...

No. Work time. Leslie sits up.

She looks to her laptop. The document is blank. What?

"Crap on a cracker." She mumbles.

She frantically reaches for it and freaks out, tapping keys, numbers, symbols, trying to figure out what happened.

Oh, wait. There's probably some kind of undo button.

Leslie's eyes scan quickly over the screen for it, but can't seem to find it anywhere. Pregnancy brain maybe? Ugh. Where the hell is it?

Leslie starts running her hands through her hair in her stressed state, and slides back down to her comfortable position on the bed. Only this time that wasn't what mattered.

As the sheets filled with the wetness of her sobs, she heard a presence in the doorway. And then a voice.

"Honey? Oh my God, what happened?" He rushes to her side at the bed, running his hands through her hair and gently pulling her up into a seated position.

Sweet Ben. Whenever she freaks out about something small, he never makes her feel like she's being silly.

She couldn't hide it, as much as she wanted to. "I-I was trying to-" She hiccups. "-write s-s-something and it deleted, and I-" She hiccups again. "-can't find it." Her voice cracks many times through her nervous stutter of an explanation, and she sobs even more.

"Do you want help?" Ben makes sure to ask, remembering Chris' warning about solving all her problems for her and not listening to what they actually were. So far, Leslie didn't seem to have any complaints about that specifically, so he's doing well. It's been hard, though, the sight of her in tears breaks his heart.

"Y-y-yes please." She stares into his brown eyes, hers wide and blue, and he couldn't resist her even if he wanted to. So he gives her a quick kiss on the forehead and sits on the bed with her.

"So how did you delete it?" He asked, making his voice as casual as possible. But he's Ben Wyatt, Human Disaster. Those kind of skills don't come easy.

Leslie sobs again, but tries to compose herself. "The computer just slid off me, and then I laid down for a second, and when I came back up, it was just gone. In a matter of seconds. And I can't find the DAMN BUTTON to fix it."

Her voice only cracked a few times in that explanation, but the sadness turned to pure anger when she brought up the button. Yikes. He forgot about the mood swings for a second.

His adorable, sexy wife was 5 months pregnant, and she didn't want to admit to the exhaustion, insecurity, and uselessness that she felt. She's yelled and cried about everything lately, and he doesn't blame her. It doesn't bother him, she's doing all the hard work of keeping their children alive and bringing them into the world, he's actually glad to get caught in the crossfire.

Problem was, he already found how to fix her document, but would that make her feel bad? 'Not at the moment,' he thought, 'she probably just wants it back.'

So he took a risk and fixed it, smiling as Leslie's face went from stressed, to confused, to excited.

Leslie grins adorably, and attacks Ben's face with kisses. He gladly returns them, revelling in the fact that Leslie was happy again, and it was because of him.

"Stupid pregnancy brain." She mutters into his mouth and he smiles, their teeth bumping together haphazardly.

But he wouldn't have it any other way.

Chapter Text

Ben jolted awake, covered in sweat. He let out a moan of protest, but then Leslie’s arms were around his back and she was kissing his neck gently.
“Are you okay?” she asked him.
Ben took a deep breath. “I think so- just a nightmare.”
Leslie made a noise of sympathy, pulling the duvet back a little and helping him sit up. Once he was up, she switched the beside lamp on.
Ben didn’t miss the way she looked at him- there was so much love in her eyes, and he had to smile at her, even though his heart was racing.
Leslie yawned into the back of her hand. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Ben bit his lip. “Are you sure? You need to be up in a few hours, I wouldn’t want to interrupt your sleep.”
Leslie gave him a soft look. “Honey, you’ve been dating me for two years now. You should know better than anybody that I see sleep as a bonus.”
Ben rolled his eyes fondly. “That’s not a good thing.”
“What I’m saying is that I don’t mind. You’re clearly freaked out.” She paused. “Unless you don’t want to talk about it and would rather sleep, I’m fine either way. Whatever makes you happy.”

“Can I talk?”
Leslie nodded and opened her arms, and the two of them lay back down with Ben in her arms. He loved being held by her- it was one of the best feelings in the world. They looked at the ceiling. With the dim light of the lamp on, the room was bathed in an orange glow.
“I… I think I was lost somewhere. All I know is that there were people yelling at me, but I didn’t know where I was. It might have been about Ice Town, or maybe people yelling at me because of an audit… either way, everyone hated me, and…” he trailed off. Leslie didn’t miss the little shake of his voice at the end of the sentence. She hummed at him.
“Poor Ben.” She squeezed him tighter.
“Yeah…”
“Well, I know for a fact nobody here hates you. And no matter what people might have said to you in the past, they were all idiots. Who could ever hate you? You’re my favourite person in the world.”
“Aside from Ann?” Ben asked with a chuckle.
“I wasn’t going to mention her so as to not upset you, but yes. Although, you’re on top.”
She said that through gritted teeth, and Ben laughed. “Honey, I know you love me. Don’t worry.”
Leslie grinned at him. “Ha! You know I love you! Well everyone else loves you too!" 

Ben chuckled again. “Thanks, babe.”
“They really do,” she said, a little quieter. “And I know those people were terrible to you, but things are different now. If anyone ever did anything to be mean to you, I’d punch them in the face like when you punched that guy in the bowling alley.”
“That was pretty cool,” Ben agreed.
“It was so cool!” She leaned down to kiss his head. “You’re the best, Ben Wyatt.”
“Thank you, babe. So are you.”
He felt a lot calmer now. Talking to Leslie about his issues was always the right decision, because she always knew what to say. He breathed out slowly, and Leslie knew that meant he was feeling better. She turned off the light, and the two of them snuggled down together.
“I love you,” Leslie whispered, and Ben felt his heart soar.
“I love you too. Thank you.”
“Any time.”

Chapter Text

Ann gave her reflection in the mirror a chastising look. She knew she should cut herself some slack. She just had a baby 6 weeks ago, no one could blame her for not looking like a bombshell. But that didn't make her feel any better.

Her mom told her it was the norm, and she knew it, but deep down, maybe she had a mentality that it was going to be different for her.

She still had about 15 pounds of baby weight to lose, not to mention the old stretch marks and sagging skin on her stomach.

Ann pulled her baggy shirt back down over her body, not being able to take any more.

She could always call Leslie for reassurance, but she didn't know if she wanted it. Ann just wanted to go back to the way she was.

It didn't make sense before she had her baby, and it didn't make sense now. Obviously there were going to be a lot of differences. She just hated that that fact applied to her new body.

She pulls her hair into a messy bun and walks out of the bathroom. Chris is on the ground doing pushups, a mild sweat glistening his skin, his muscles evident against his royal blue jogging shirt. Ann flops onto the bed and groans.

Here she was, feeling disgusting and horrible, and he looked better every day. It's just not fair.

Chris heard the noise and sat up on the ground, looking over at his girlfriend with concern.

"You okay?"

"Yep. Great." Ann said, muffled against the pillow.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. If we don't count my disgusting stretch marks, I'm fine."

Chris winces at her self-deprecation. "Ann Perkins, how can you say that? You have LITERALLY never looked more beautiful than you do right now."

"Not a compliment." She replied shortly.

He stand up to sit on the bed next to her. "What's going on?"

"Besides the whole 'I'm-fat-and-disgusting' thing?"

"Ann."

He only called her by her first name if he was sad or disappointed. When he was ecstatic (which was honestly most of the time) you could tell in the way he spoke to her and everyone else.

"Ugh, fine. I'm a slob and you're seriously exercising right now and you look better than ever."

"You know that's not true. Give yourself a break, you just had a baby."

"Will that still be an excuse a year from now? 5 years from now? 'Cause it doesn't seem like I'm going to change anytime soon."

"Well, there are going to be permanent changes. We won't get to be alone as often as we'd like, and we won't have time to do whatever we want. We won't get to have a good sleep for a long time. There's going to be a whole new person in our physical and emotional proximity for at least 18 years, and they'll rely on us for support. Maybe your body isn't what it used to be. But you'll bounce back soon and maybe you won't look exactly the same, but you'll be even more beautiful than ever. You did all the hard work on bringing Oliver into the world, give yourself a break." He kisses her hair.

Ann sits up and sniffs. "Really?"

"Of course, Ann Perkins! And honestly, if you could, would you change any of this?"

"No! Of course not. Then we wouldn't have Oliver."

"There you go, then."

Chris pulls Ann into his lap lovingly, and she lays her head on his chest. Poor girl, she did all the work carrying their child and keeping him alive; he'll help her and their child feel better in any way he can.

After a few minutes of silence, Ann pipes up.

"You're the best baby daddy in the world."

"So are you."

Ann pulls her head up suddenly. "I'm the best baby daddy?" She raises an eyebrow.

Chris laughs, loudly. "No, you're the best baby mama."

"Alright." Ann giggles, and a loud high-pitched cry sounds from the other room.

"Not again!" Ann says, hiding a smile but failing, as Chris gently pushes her off his lap to go get Oliver.

"I'll do it." He says.

"Bring him with you so we can all cuddle together."

"My thoughts exactly, Ann Perkins!"

Chapter Text

Leslie had been unhappy all day, and her friends had all called her crazy. She didn’t think it was crazy- her best friend was thinking of leaving! She was acting perfectly rationally!
Ron was the one, as usual, to talk her out of her insane tirade, but it didn’t stop her from feeling the horrible pain twisting in her gut. She wasn’t acting crazy anymore, but she was still desperately sad.
She swallowed that down, though. She thought of what she was going to say to Ann, and she practiced it over and over again.
When Ann appeared in her office door, Leslie gave her a sad smile. Ann smiled back. At the heart of it all, they understood each other. Ann knew that this would break Leslie’s heart. And deep down, deep deep down, Leslie knew that if Ann wanted to do it, she would never stop her.
That was the energy both women took to their conversation.

“I’m sorry,” Leslie said straight away. “I was acting crazy today.”
“It’s alright,” Ann replied. “I know you didn’t mean it.”
“I was being selfish.”
“Well…”
“No, Ann. Don’t rush to my defense- I was being selfish.”
Ann quirked the corner of her mouth up in a smile. She was actually going to agree with her, but decided to stay quiet.
“If you decide to leave Pawnee, I’ll support you. And your new best friend will love you so much.”
Ann frowned. “Hey! Who said anything about a new best friend?”
“Well, you’ll be so busy in Michigan that you’ll definitely forget all about Pawnee. And I suppose that’s okay, as long as you’re happy.”
Ann rolled her eyes. She was going to ask if Leslie was joking, but the look on the woman’s face told her that she wasn’t. She looked sincere- and quite depressed.

“Leslie,” Ann said gently, grabbing her hand and squeezing it. “If we do leave Pawnee, you can bet on all of Ron’s gold that I wouldn’t forget Pawnee, and definitely not you. Never ever. You’ll always be my best friend, understand?”
Leslie sighed softly. Ann couldn’t tell if she was going to cry or not, but then she burst into tears, and she was pulling Ann in for a hug and squeezing her tightly.
“I just love you so much,” Leslie wailed. “I’m sorry I was crazy and didn’t support you at first, I was just worried you’d leave and forget about me.”
Ann hugged her back, feeling a few tears slip out herself. “I could never forget you, Leslie! That would be physically impossible, and even though I never would, I don’t think you’d ever let that happen either!”
Leslie laughed into Ann’s shoulder, before sitting back and wiping her eyes.
“If you decide to do it, I’ll support you,” Leslie told her. “And then I’ll make a whole horde of binders on the situation- specifically your future town, travel distance, best waffle venues…”
Leslie went on, babbling, and Ann smiled as she watched her best friend get on board with the situation. Leslie was great- when she was on your side, she was really on your side. And Ann knew that there wasn’t a chance in hell that Leslie would never not be on Ann’s side, because she was the best friend in the world. Once she stopped acting crazy, anyway.

“Hey,” Ann said softly, stopping Leslie’s monologue for a second. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Leslie replied instantly.
They hugged again, and Ann knew that there wasn’t a chance in the universe that they wouldn’t be best friends for the rest of their lives.

Chapter Text

Ron wasn't interested in caring about people. Deep down, he felt a strong kinship with the Parks Department gang. But he would never admit it. Not even to himself.

When he lost his longest and closest frie- work proximity acquaintance to his own stubborness, he was pissed.

He didn't care about Leslie, not at all, he wanted to think. He just didn't like change, that was all.

For sure.

That was his excuse for not telling her about Morningstar. He knew she would be upset, and he wasn't looking forward to a change such as her sudden absence in his life. Turns out, not telling her put the writing on the wall.

Everyone was talking about how childish this fight was. But he disagreed. They were so different, they were bound to have a falling out. He had his side of the story, she had hers, that was never going to change. He didn't want it to anyway.

But then again, why should he think about it? He'd rather spend time with his family or hide in his cabin to eat steak and drink whiskey.

He ignored the fact that it didn't bring him as much joy as it used to.

He's been alone most of his life by choice. Now he has a family, and Leslie has hers. They didn't need each other anymore...

...Did they?

Chapter Text

“What’s wrong?” Ben asked her.
Leslie looked up from the document she was filing at the kitchen table to look at him quizzically. “What do you mean? I’m fine.”
Ben squinted at her, a sad smile on his face. “No, you’re not.”
Leslie sighed a little, putting the binder down. “You’re right. I’m not.”
He always knew when she was having a bad day. They didn’t happen often- or maybe they happened more than he thought, and she was just good at burying herself in work to distract herself. That was something they were trying to work on. Leslie did work because she loved it, but sometimes she did it because she loved to block out whatever bad things she was feeling.
And they had been together long enough for him to read her like a book.
He moved around the table to reach her, wrapping his arms around her in a hug. “Come on,” he said to her gently. “Let’s come and sit for a while.”
“But I’m not finished with this binder!”
“Honey, I will bet our house and all our savings that that binder is for a project due in at least three months. I know how well-prepared you are."
Leslie let out a soft breath of a laugh. “Alright, Wyatt. You got me there.”

***

“Do you want to talk about what’s upsetting you?” Ben asked her once they were on the sofa. She was sat practically on his lap, her head on his shoulder. He ran his hand through her hair, the other one resting on her knee. She sighed softly.
“I don’t even think I’m upset. I’m just a little down.”
Ben felt his heart clench a little. He wracked his brains for any reason why she could be like this. “I haven’t upset you, have I?”
Leslie looked at him. “Of course not. You’d know if you had,” she added with a chuckle, prompting him to smile. “No, I think I’m just having a bad day.”
“I could call Ann?” he asked. “She always cheers you up.”
“That is true,” Leslie replied. “But I think I just want to sit with you right now. If that’s okay?”
“Of course,” Ben told her. “Of course it is.”

***

She was leaning against him, the silence comfortable. Ben was worrying, of course he was, but if she said all she wanted was to sit with him; if that would improve her mood, then you can bet every cone of dunshire that he wouldn’t be moving for a long time.
After about an hour, she sat back. He could see her eyes were watery, and she hastily wiped them.
“I feel better now,” she told him. “I think I just needed a hug.”
“You can always just ask, honey,” he told her. “I know that things have been a little rough lately. The recall was only a few months ago, and then Ann left…”
She winced, and he regretted instantly that he was basically listing her problems. But then she smiled.
“Yeah. But I am so lucky to have you here with me, to make me feel better. I love you.”
“I love you too,” he replied straight away, leaning in to give her a soft kiss. “What do you want to do tonight?”
“I don’t mind,” she said with a soft sigh. “As long as waffles are involved.”
Ben pulled out his phone. “You got it, babe. I’ll call JJ’s.”
She leant back against him. “Thank you, honey. Thank you so much.”
Ben wanted to say you don’t have to thank me- you never have to thank me, but he knew she knew that. She was just being the lovely person she was, so instead he just hummed softly and kissed her sunshine hair and let her lie against him for as long as she needed.

Chapter Text

Leslie flops on the couch in tears. Ben wanted to help her, comfort her, make it all better, but he couldn't. Her best friend had left to start a new life with her boyfriend and soon-to-be baby. He wasn't sure anything could comfort her for a while. Even the waffles she just ate with everyone at J.J.'s Diner didn't seem to do anything to ease the pain.

"I miss her already." Leslie mumbles into the couch cushion.

"I know, honey." He says, soothingly as he tentatively sits on the couch next to her sprawled out figure.

"Will the pain ever go away?" Leslie sits up and leans her head on Ben's shoulder.

"I don't know, Leslie." He rests his hands on her shoulders, rubbing them gently.

"Enough about me." She wipes her eyes and tries to put on her bravest smile, but it comes out more like a grimace. "How are you doing?" Leslie asked him.

Of course his very selfless wife would ramp down her feelings to see how he was doing. He should've known.

"Babe, I'm fine." He wasn't.

"You're lying." She sniffles.

"I guess I am a little." He's okay with that for now; he just wants to make her feel better.

She rolls her eyes at him, and they dampen again, like she just remembered Ann and Chris leaving Indiana.

Ben's hands move from her shoulders to her sides, gliding past her ribcage to her hips to pull her into his lap. Leslie buries her face into the crook of his neck and they sit there in silence.

"At least I have you." Leslie whispers, probably unaware that he even heard her.

"Ditto." He whispers back.

Her breathing changes, slowing to soft involuntary noises, and he realizes she's fallen asleep.

He's sleepy himself, it's been a long day, so he carries her into their bedroom, and they cuddle all night.

At least they have each other.

Chapter Text

Leslie groaned loudly, waking Ben up. It was early morning.
“You okay?” he asked tiredly, rolling over to face her.
“No. I feel like a boat.”
“You look amazing, honey.”
“Ben!” Leslie whined. “I’m in my pyjamas and I just woke up. How can you possibly think that?”
Ben leaned over to give her a kiss. She looked sleepily at him, but the corners of her mouth were turned down in a sad little pout. His eyes softened.
“You always look amazing,” he affirmed. “But especially right now.”
“You’re a liar,” she said coyly.
“I’m not! You’ve got three crazy kids in your belly and you still look like a supermodel. You’re acing this pregnancy Leslie Knope style.”
“That’s sweet, honey, but you have to say that.” The pout was back. “I’m aching all the time, I feel gross. I always need to pee and I’m so tired all the time. I love them to pieces but they’re also sort of ruining my life.”
Ben laughed loudly. “I’ll remind you of that when they’re eighteen and leaving home.”
“Shut up,” she moaned, and he laughed. Then he was kissing her forehead.

“Leslie. I know you must feel self-conscious- I can’t imagine how hard it must be to carry three babies, or the struggles of being a woman-”
“Yeah, because you’re a man.”
“-but I do know that you are incredible. Everyone thinks so. Do I need to ring Ann and get her to tell you how amazing you are?”
Leslie blinked back a few tears. “Maybe.”
Ben laughed, kissing her forehead again. He found Ann’s contact in her phone before hitting dial.
“Hello? Ben?”
“Hi, Ann,” Ben said tiredly. “I hope you weren’t asleep.”
“No,” Ann replied with a laugh. “Nobody gets any sleep in this house. Especially not Chris- he’s still out on his beat the sun run. What’s up?”
“Well, Leslie thinks she looks like a boat and I wanted a second opinion,” Ben told her as Leslie groaned next to him.
“Am I on loudspeaker?”
“Yup.”
“Leslie! You’re amazing, sweetie! And you look incredible. I think you look better than I did when I had one baby, let alone three.”
“Ann!” Leslie wailed. “You have always looked incredible.”
Ben smiled as Ann laughed down the phone. “I agree with your husband, Leslie. You’re amazing. I love you and I really miss you.”
“I really really love and miss you too,” Leslie told her.

When the phone call ended, Leslie snuggled down against Ben, still feeling a little mopey, but definitely better than before.
“Thanks for that,” she told him. Ben smiled.
“It’s alright. I’m here for you whenever you need bolstering. I love you so much.”
“I love you too. And I can’t wait to have these babies.”
“Aww, me too-”
“So they can finally leave my body!”
Ben just laughed and kissed her.

Chapter Text

Ann walks into her living room and spots Chris heavily engaged in vigorous push-ups.

The man's a god at exercise, so he hasn't even broken a sweat, snd she's pretty sure he's on the 1000th one by now. It's a weird phenomenon.

She lays her hand on her protruding belly. She smiles at the evidence at their soon to be first child.

She looks at Chris with concern when she hears a grunt. "You okay?"

He immediately stops to talk to her, sitting cross-legged on his mat. It's something she noticed when they got back together. He'll drop everything to attend to her needs.

"Ann Perkins!" He whips out his trademark finger guns.

She chuckles good-naturedly and her face turns serious. "What's going on?"

"What?" He's face is filled with confusion for a moment before his eyes light up with understanding. "Oh, that? I accidentally ate white bread so I was just burning it off!" He says cheerfully.

"Okay." That sort of explains it. "I think you'll be fine without having to do that."

"Ann Perkins, are you encouraging me to be unhealthy?" He asks, a little shocked.

She can't tell whether or not he's being serious, so she lets out a self-deprecating chuckle. "Not at all. You're in fine shape though, you shouldn't worry so much."

"I have 2.8% body fat, my body's a microchip, A grain of sand could destroy it. My body's a microchip!" He exclaims, as if reminding himself of that fact.

Ann laughs, remembering that day in the hospital when they were first dating and he informed her of this. Ah, memories.

"Well, I'd ask you to have breakfast with me, but it looks like you're still freaking out about the bread."

"I'll eat a lovely salad with you with my self-made dressing."

"And I will eat 12 cheeseburgers and a jar of peanut butter." Ann mutters, rubbing her pregnant belly again in contempt of her increased appetite. "Ooh, do you think we could get pizza too?"

"Why not?" Chris replies, and he jumps up energetically to her.

"How are you not exhausted?" Ann asks in disbelief.

The question goes unanswered when he drapes an arm over her shoulder, and she starts thinking about food again.

Chapter Text

“Can you believe we did that?” Leslie whispered.
They were lying in their bed, having left the Parks department (and their sleeping friends) over three hours ago. It was well into the night. Ben could still feel the buzz of alcohol in his system, or maybe it was the fact that he was riding high right now. He had never felt happier.
“Of course I can,” he replied. “Deciding to get married early was the best decision we’ve ever made.”
“Ever better than the decision to get married in the first place?” Leslie asked with a chuckle.
Ben grinned. “Okay. Second best decision.”
“What about the decision to move in together? Or the decision to-”
“You get my point,” Ben said, his grin getting wider. Leslie laughed.
“I know. I’m only teasing. But it does make me realise that we’ve made a lot of good decisions together.”
“We have.”
“And a few bad ones.”
“We don’t have to talk about that right now. All that matters is that we’re back together.”
Leslie hummed. “And we’re married.”
“We are.”

She leaned over and kissed him. They had kissed a lot that night- among other things- but she would never tire of the feeling of his lips on hers. And he would never tire of when, when she leaned in, she smiled ever so slightly before closing the gap.
“It’s you,” he whispered. “It’s you and me, forever.”
“I know,” she whispered back. “I can’t believe it. I am riding on such a high right now.” She pulled back. “Do you think the others are okay?”
“I’m sure they’re fine,” he replied.
“They really can’t hold their alcohol.”
“No,” he said with a laugh. “They can’t. Except Ron.”
Leslie chuckled. “Well, yeah. Even snake juice couldn’t keep him down for long.”
The two of them chuckled.
“Wow,” Leslie whispered. “We’re going to have so many fun times together. Just thinking about our future… it makes me so, incredibly happy.”
“I can’t wait,” Ben replied, leaning over to wrap his arm around her, pulling her closer to him. “I can’t wait until you’re the President and I get to be First… Man.”
They both laughed.
“Unless you’re President before me,” she countered. “But then I’ll run against you next time and then I’ll beat you.”
Ben pretended to look offended, before kissing her again. “I am absolutely counting on it.”

A few minutes passed.
“I’m not tired,” Leslie told him. “I’m too excited to sleep. I just don’t want this night to end.”
“Me neither,” he told her. “I just want it to go on and on.”
Leslie rolled over to properly face him. “Well… we could…”
Ben raised an eyebrow. “Again?” Then he cocked his head. “Wait, why am I even questioning this. Yes. I would very much like to do that.”
Leslie laughed, and pulled him in closer. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Soft kisses turned to passionate ones. And the night went on.

Just the two of them, together.

Chapter Text

As Andy drives to the vacation house he and April were meant to spend their honeymoon in, two thoughts come to him.

One, he's married! That's crazy, right?

And two, he's totally lost. He's supposed to turn right, right?

"Uh, Andy?" April says. He can hear the smile in her voice. Wait, is that a thing? You can hear a smile? Well, he can sometimes taste pizza just from the smell of it, but that's only when he's really hungry... and in need of some dangerously high amounts of pizza, which, by the way, is pretty often.

"Yeah?"

"I think you're supposed to turn left." She says, trying to hide her giggle.

"You're so smart, how did you know?"

"That's what it says on the GPS." April smirks at him.

Andy chuckles and turns around.

"I'm bored." April says, annoyed.

Andy glances at the GPS. "I don't understand this at all, but I think we're almost there."

He drives in silence for a few minutes before she pipes up again.

"What'll we do when we get there?" April says, staring out the car window.

It's Andy's turn to smirk now. "Well," he says, "I can think of a few things."

April whips her head around to look at him and feigns a groan. "Ew, stop." She fails at containing her amusement and starts laughing.

He doesn't say anything more; he just takes her hand as they continue driving into the unknown.

Chapter Text

Ann had given birth to her second child in the spring. Leslie and Ben were there within a few hours, of course they were. Chris had been on the phone to Ben as Leslie frantically packed the car with the presents that she had accumulated over the past few months.
“Everyone is happy and healthy. We also have a surprise for Leslie.”
“You do?” Ben asked, a smile in his voice. “What does that mean?”
“You’ll see, Ben Wyatt.”

Leslie had been a ball of energy in the car, but she was even worse when they actually got to the hospital.
“ANN!” Leslie said, in the loudest stage whisper Ben had ever seen. He rolled his eyes fondly, moving to hug Chris, who had a big hug on his face.
“Leslie!” Ann said, a grin on her face.
“You look radiant. And so does the baby, oh my goodness. The most beautiful child I have ever seen!” She paused, turning to wince at Chris. “Aside from Oliver, obviously. Sorry.”
“And… our children?” Ben said, his face confused. Leslie waved him off, moving to hug Ann.

“Hello, little one!”
“She’s a she,” Ann told her. “Meet Leslie.”
“I’m pleased to meet you,” Leslie whispered. “What’s her name?”
Ben looked at Chris, getting the gist immediately, and feeling a burst of happiness. Chris nodded, a  grin on his face. Ann’s own grin got wider.
“Meet Leslie,” she said again.
“I know, she’s met me, we're well acquainted. But what’s her name?” There was a long pause. Leslie froze, her eyes wide. “Oh. Oh.”
Before they knew it, she was crying tears of joy.

“Oh, you guys. Are you- are you sure?”
“Of course!” Ann said. “Of course we’re sure.”
“There is literally nobody else we would rather name our child after,” Chris said. Then he moved to take the baby, so Leslie could hug Ann tightly.
“I love you so much,” Leslie told Ann, who laughed.
“I love you too, Leslie.”
“Do you mean me or the daughter? Wait, stupid question. That’s the last time I’ll say that, I promise.”
Ann just laughed and squeezed her tighter.
When that was complete, after what felt like hours, Ben hugged Ann, and then the baby was returned and Leslie moved to hug Chris, and then Ben, who squeezed her tightly and kissed his wife’s forehead.

“She’s beautiful, you guys,” Ben told them. Ann smiled at him.
“Thanks, Ben.”
“She takes after her beautiful goddess mother,” Leslie said. “And her Dad too, of course.”
“Oh, it’s all Ann,” Chris said, kissing Ann on the lips. “Definitely.”
“Little Leslie,” Ann whispered.
There was so much love in that room, and the amount of love for Little Leslie only increased. She was just as radiant as her namesake, and Ann knew she had made the right decision in who to name her after. She never once doubted it.

Chapter Text

Ann's getting ready to go to bed when there's a knock at the door. Then another. And another. And a dozen doorbell rings. That's definitely Leslie.

She opens the door, and Leslie walks in with a red box, sporting her crazy eyes. Oh lord, what does she have up her sleeve this time?

"What's up?" Ann tries to ask casually.

"I thought we could make a scrapbook together, or just crafts if you don't feel up to it." She holds up the box, and Ann peers in. It's filled to the brim with paper and scissors, and- good lord is that glitter?

"It's 11pm. I have a shift tomorrow. Also, I'm a bad artist." She goes for a joke, but it falls flat.

"Oh." The hopeful look in her eyes dampens, and Ann starts to think it's about more than scrapbooking.

"Screw it. Let's do this."

As they sit cross-legged on the floor taking out materials, Ann can't stop herself from asking.

"Is something wrong?"

Leslie bites her lip. "No, can't a girl come to her best friend's house late at night to make a scrapbook?" She sputters out quickly.

Ann narrows her eyes at that while picking up a pair of scissors.

"Well, if the girl is Leslie Knope, then yes. But come on." Ann bumps her knee against Leslie's playfully. "What's up?"

Leslie sighs. "I miss Ben."

"Oh, Leslie-

"I know, I know, I shouldn't, I'm running a campaign right now. I think I just need to keep reminding myself why I gave him up." She sighs again. "Is that weird?"

"Not at all. I still kind of miss Chris." She admits shyly, even though Leslie already knew about that.

"I know." She whispers. "I guess we're kind of in the same boat, huh?"

"I guess we are." Ann muses.

The next few minutes fly by in silence; Leslie passionately cutting out paper hearts.

Ann gestures to the design she made on the cardstock. "What do you think?"

"Oh, Ann, you sharp, lovely, little dove, you're too beautiful to be artistic." Leslie says, with a look of awe and pity on her face. It's a facial expression she's become familiar with over the years.

Ann rolls her eyes at the criticism at the same time as feeling slightly weirded out by the compliment.

After they're done, they clean up the floor and play Twister.

This is what best friends are for.

Chapter Text

Leslie cursed. Of course her car had to break down on the one day it was pouring it down, right in the middle of her commute to City Hall. She had managed to pull over and was now sat in the car, trying the engine. No joy. The rain was battering the roof of her car.
Ugh, she was going to be late. She didn’t even care about her car- it was an old piece of crap and she needed a new one- badly. But her first priority was getting into work.

She called a company who said they would come and collect the car, but that didn’t solve the issue of getting into work. Maybe she should call a cab, or even ask the car guy to give her a lift?
Before she could think on that for too long, she spotted a set of headlights coming down the road, and then the car next to her beeped softly. She squinted to see who was in the passenger seat and groaned again, but this time it was for a different reason.

It was Ben- cute, funny, amazing Ben, who she definitely had feelings for but, well, Chris had sort of banned that. If she wanted to keep her job? No cute Ben.

Ben rolled down his window. Leslie did the same, and the sound of the rain got much louder.
“Are you okay?” he called. Leslie winced.
“Car trouble- don’t worry about me!”
Ben frowned. “Have you called somebody?”
“Yeah,” Leslie told him. “I called some scrap people. This car is totally busted. Now I’m just waiting around.”
Ben frowned harder. “That’s not fun. Do you want a lift into work?”
Leslie’s brain said no. No- don’t spend too much time with him. It’ll only make it harder when inevitably you have to-
“Yes! Yes please, that would be great.”

So less than five minutes later, Ben and Leslie were on their way to work. Leslie thanked Ben again for the car ride, and Ben was as polite as usual.
“It’s really no problem,” he told her. “I couldn’t leave you stranded.” Ben laughed. “You practically run that place. It’d burn to the ground without you there.”
Leslie’s heart fluttered a little. “Err- thank you.”
They smiled at each other, but now they were sat in silence. The tension was killing Leslie. Especially when they hit a red light and Ben took his hands off the wheel for a moment. They hovered in the air, before settling on his legs. God, he had nice legs. God, he had nice hands. Leslie wondered what he could do with those hands.
No! Stay focused. You want to be president someday. You can’t be president if you get involved with him.

“So, what are your weekend plans?” Ben asked with a smile, and Leslie fell a bit in love with him.

***

Leslie sighed. It had been a week since she and Ben had broken up- amicably, of course, and Ben had been a total sweetheart- but she had felt that weight on her chest since then. It was Friday now, and Ann had invited her round for movies, but she had a few hours in between. Maybe she could get some crying in and then fix her makeup before she went round to Ann’s.

She left City Hall just as huge droplets of water fell from the sky. It matched her mood, to be perfectly honest.
As she walked to the car park, she felt a rush of anxiety as she spotted Ben walking there too. He had a huge umbrella, of course that man was prepared for anything. Leslie had checked the weather this morning and it had said sunny. But now it was raining.
Why was he coming over to her? God he was getting closer, he was-

“Do you want to share my umbrella? We’re walking the same way.”
“Err- no thanks, Ben.”
“But you’re getting soaked,” he commented, giving her a classic Ben look of disapproval.
Leslie cursed inwardly. “Alright, fine. Thanks.”
The two walked in silence. He was holding the umbrella, so all she had to do was walk. Just walk to her car, politely thank him, then drive home and cry and then eat a bucket of ice cream.
“So, what are your weekend plans?” Ben asked, and Leslie’s heart broke a little.
“Nothing really,” Leslie replied. “Work.”
Ben chuckled drily. “Is that all?”
“I’m seeing Ann tonight,” she said quietly, and Ben nodded.
“That’s nice.”
“What about you?”
“Not much. I might give Twin Peaks another spin.”
“That’s cool.”

They finally got to their cars, which just happened to be parked one car away from each other. Leslie hesitated, before giving him a smile.
“Thanks for the umbrella, Ben.”
“No problem,” he replied.
The two stood in silence. Ben moved slightly, and Leslie thought he was going to say or do something, but then he pulled out his keys and unlocked his car. Leslie was disappointed. Why was she disappointed? It had been an amicable break up. She had her career to think of.
“Well… see you around, I guess,” Ben murmured.
“Yeah, see you around,” Leslie echoed, and the two of them looked at each other miserably.

Leslie got into her car and watched him drive away into the rain.

***

The rain hitting a roof had always been a pleasant sound. Leslie had loved it, ever since she was a child. It made her feel so content, so at peace. It helped her brain switch off.
She was sat on the couch, listening to the rain, feeling happy.
“Are you comfortable?” his voice said beside her.
“Of course I am, I’m leaning on you,” she replied with a giggle. He laughed.
“You’re lucky I don’t mind being leaned on.”
She turned and looked at Ben, and he gave her a smile. They kissed gently, but it never got old.
When their lips parted, she turned and looked out the window again, watching the rain as it lashed down onto the street.
“So, honey, what are our weekend plans?” he asked her. And Leslie smiled.
“Anything, as long as we’re together.”
Ben sighed contentedly. “That’s fine by me.”