A Parks and Rec fanfic by thelow-cal-calzone-zone
"Thank you," Leslie said as the waitress plopped a plate of waffles in front of her.
"And I brought you an entire can of whipped cream," the waitress, Flo, said. "Since you’re always asking for more." Flo set down the can of whipped cream and turned her attention to Ben. "Are you sure you don’t want anything to eat, Mr. Mayor?”
Ben shifted in his seat. “I’m not mayor yet.”
"You might as well be after that debate the other day."
"Ben is up sixty percent in the polls," Leslie said as she topped her waffle with a mountain of whipped cream. She smiled at her husband. "Ice Town is finally behind you."
"We’ll see," Ben said, staring down into his coffee cup. His eyes were bloodshot and his hair ruffled.
"I’ll certainly be voting for you, Ben," Flo said, "Let me know if you all need anything else."
As soon as Flo disappeared into the kitchen, Leslie pulled a five-inch binder out of her oversized purse and slapped it on the table. “Okay, I know you’re hung over, but these last two weeks of campaigning are crucial.”
"Jamm’s approval rate is only 2%, but two days ago his approval rate was 1.5%, and we can’t let him make a comeback."
"I made you a schedule for the next two weeks; everything is planned to the minute starting right now," Leslie flipped open the binder and read from one of the pages, “‘8:37 a.m., the candidate will eat waffles with his beautiful and intelligent wife.’ We’re right on track! Except you’re not eating anything. You have four rallies and press conference today, you need to eat something. You don’t feel sick, do you?"
"Leslie, I need to talk to you about something."
Leslie took a bite of pure whipped cream; she didn’t like the sound of this. Ben was using the same apologetic, shamed tone he used that time when he forgot to pick up the triplet’s from school because he thought Leslie was going to get them.
Ben sighed. His eyes were twitching and he fidgeted as if he were being interrogated by Joan Callamezzo.
"I had…a lot of SnakeJuice last night."
"I know," Leslie said, "you were a disaster when Donna and Tom brought you home."
"I’m sorry. I knew I shouldn’t have drank that much…or anything at all. But Tom kept chanting "treat yo self, treat yo self, treat yo self" and Donna kept calling me uptight and I thought a little wouldn’t hurt, but you know how it goes—"
"Ben, you’re babbling. What happened?"
"I…" Ben looked down into his lap. "I…made out with someone."
Leslie’s stomach turned. The whipped cream tasted too sweet in her mouth, and if she felt that if she took another bite she would be sick. Never before had sugar been repulsive to her, not even when she had been recalled from city council.
"I’m sorry," Leslie said, "what did you say? There was this ringing in my ears."
"I kissed someone. But it didn’t mean anything. We were both very drunk and as soon as I realized what was happening I stopped it. It didn’t even last a minute.”
Leslie stared at Ben, mouth slightly agape, her expression blank.
"Leslie? Why aren’t you saying anything?" Ben waited for his wife to respond, but when she did not, he reached across the table and put his hands over Leslie’s. "Listen, I know this is bad and that if the media gets ahold of this I could lose the election, but what’s most important to me right now is that we are okay. I know I can’t take back what happened, but I will do anything I can do to assure you that it was a mistake and will never happen again. Our marriage is my top priority.”
Leslie pulled her hands away from Ben. “Who was it?”
Ben looked out the window, avoiding Leslie’s stare. “That’s…that’s not really important.”
“Ben. Who. Was. It.”
Ben bit his lip.
Leslie absentmindedly picked up her fork, clenching it so tightly that she could feel the cool metal dig into her skin. “It’s someone I know, isn’t it?”
Leslie could see sweat stains starting to form around Ben’s armpits. Her heart dropped as she remembered standing in Ramsett Parks on a cool night several years ago, the smell of campfire heavy in the air and her ears ringing with the sound of the Reasonablists playing their hymns to Zorp on Ron’s handcrafted flutes. But most distinctly, she remembered a small, brown-haired reporter who touched Ben Wyatt’s arm as she spoke to him.
"It was Shauna, wasn’t it?!" Leslie jabbed the fork as she spoke and Ben pressed his back against the cushion of the booth as the twines of the whipped-cream-covered utensil came dangerously close to his face.
"God, Ben, I can’t believe you would be so stupid! It’s just a matter of time before this is all over the news. Your election will be over and how am I supposed to explain this to the kids?”
"Quiet, Ben! I’m trying to figure out how I can fix this." Leslie pulled out her phone. "There was nothing in the Pawnee Sun about this, which means there’s still probably time for me to talk to Shauna before she goes through with publishing the article. Unless…you don’t think she would go on Pawnee Today, do you? God, this is such a mess, I can’t believe you would do this, Ben.”
"Leslie, listen to me," Ben grabbed Leslie’s hand and took the phone from her. "It wasn’t Shauna."
"Then who was it?"
Before Ben could answer, a loud thump caused everyone in J.J.’s Diner to turn and look towards the front door. There, sprawled across the tile floor, was Jerry/Gary/Larry/Terry Gergich. A beautiful blonde woman leaned over the large man, fussing over him as she helped him to his feet. The woman, Gayle Gergich, slipped her arm around her husband’s and led him to a table. But before the couple sat down, Gayle spotted Leslie and Ben seated near the window. She waved and rushed over to their table.
"Great," Leslie muttered, "this is the last thing we need."
Ben groaned, letting his face fall into his hands.
"Good morning!" Gayle Gergich said with a smile so bright you could use it as a flashlight. Jerry stood behind his wife looking down at his feet, refusing to make eye-contact with either Ben or Leslie. "I hope we’re not interrupting, but Jerry and I just had to come over and say something to you."
"That’s very nice of you, Gayle," Leslie said, "but Ben and I are in the middle of—"
"Oh dear." Gayle’s smile fell. She leaned over the table and put her hands over Leslie’s. "We are terribly sorry for interrupting. We’ll leave you two alone, I promise, but Leslie, I do hope you can find it in your heart to forgive Ben the way I was able to forgive my Jer-Bear. And if you need anyone to talk to, Leslie, I am here for you. Just remember that everyone makes mistakes and that forgiveness and honesty is so important to any healthy marriage."
Leslie’s breath shortened. “Wh-what?”
Jerry took a deep breath and said, more to his feet then to anyone in particular, “I’m so sorry, Leslie. It was all a misunderstanding. Both Ben and I drank too much SnakeJuice and he was telling me about the latest chapter in his Star Trek fan fiction and, well, one thing led to another I guess. But I promise you, it didn’t mean anything.”
"It—it…what—didn’t mean…" Leslie looked at Ben, but his face was still buried in his hands."
"We should probably go, Jerry," Gayle said. Again, she slipped her arm around Jerry’s and led him to a table on the other side of the diner.
“Jerry?!" Leslie whisper-shouted at her husband. "You kissed Jerry?! Ben—look at me!”
Ben sighed and let his hands fall away from his face. Red blotches marked where his fingers had been pressed to his face; his eyes watered. “I’m so sorry, Leslie. You know…it’s just…Jerry and I have developed this really great friendship and…you know, he’s really not that bad of a guy.”
Leslie closed her eyes and willed every molecule of her body to become weightless, to lift up into the air so she could fly away to Washington D.C. or Hogwarts. But alas, her butt remained firmly planted to the sticky seat of the booth. This was not a dream.