Ben is drifting off, watching behind the scenes clips from last night’s Survivor with the iPad on his chest, when he hears the screech.
It’s shrill and abrasive, just enough for him to jolt and roll out of bed, struggling to untangle himself from his sheets. He yanks open his bedroom door and sprints down the hall, hoping not to slide into the wall again in his Batman socks. His heart pounds relentlessly as he sweat starts to form in his hairline.
“Hey, are you alright?” Ben asks quickly. He gulps when he sees the mess. Chocolate batter coats the kitchen tile, the mixing bowl long forgotten in the corner near the fake ficus Leslie needed to spice the place up a bit. He rubs his forehead, stomaching churning slightly because chaos and disorganization always push him into overdrive, the disarray of it all overwhelming his senses. But none of that matters, especially when he spies the tears swelling in Leslie’s beautiful blue eyes. They remind him of the ocean, serene and never-ending.
Wait. No. Not beautiful. They’re okay eyes.
Leslie’s coated in chocolate. It’s in her hair, on her leggings, and splattered on her flannel.
But it isn’t her flannel; it’s his. Maybe she just got their laundry mixed up again.
He pushes away how cute she looks in it and focuses on taking care of her.
“Are you hurt?” he asks, kneeling down beside her on the ground, where she’s sank against the cabinets. He softly wipes off the smudges on her cheeks with a wet rag. But Leslie’s eyes are clouded and glazed. This isn’t her. She’s usually bubbling with excitement. Mistakes and messes mean nothing to her. She lives for long nights doing paperwork and candy binges and movie marathons.
She’s lived with him for five months. He knows her footsteps and her laughs and her whispers. He knows how soft her hands are and how perfectly her tiny palm fits in his. And Ben wonders if this is because of her new job at the Pawnee Parks Department or if her mom’s alright or if something horrible happened to that pony Li’l Sebastian.
“Leslie, you gotta talk to me.”
She inhales shakily and glances at her hands in her lap. “Dave… Um, he… broke up with me?” She says it like it’s a question, but it’s definitely not. “And the mixer wasn’t screwed on right, and it… sploosh…” she trails off, gesturing slowly around her.
Leslie met Dave at the last college party of the year. Ben was at that party too. He never took a liking to Dave. Ben spent so much time protecting and having fun with Leslie that he’d forgotten that they weren’t actually dating. It caused him to lash out and act like a childish jerk, and it caused her to stop speaking to him until graduation day. And, now, they’re twenty-three and still baby-faced and trying to navigate the world together as roommates.
She’s always the strong one, and Ben’s just… Well, he’s Ben.
He instantly wraps Leslie up in his arms, and she hides her face in his neck. He frowns when tears slide down his skin. And he holds her. He holds her like she’s the only person in the world. He holds her like these are their last moments together. He holds her with everything he has.
They sit here like this until Leslie’s cries disappear, and she falls asleep in his embrace.
Ben cleans her up, takes her to bed, and bundles her in blankets, whispering that he’ll make waffles in the morning before clicking the door closed.
14. Lab Partners AU
“Get out of my seat, Wyatt,” Leslie demands, plopping her books on the table. “You sit over there, remember?”
He smirks. “No can do, Knope. I’m your lab partner for the day.”
Leslie’s face falls. Fudge. Fudge on a freaking cracker. Ooh, that actually doesn’t sound that bad! But that’s beside the point. The point is that Ben’s a stupid poop face, and he makes her skin crawl. Literally crawl. It can’t remain still for even three seconds when she’s around him because he’s the world’s most awful human being. After losing to him for Class President for the upcoming school year, she literally wants nothing to do with him. If she could never see him again, that’d be great.
“What happened to Andy?” she questions harshly. She refuses to sit down, even though the bell just rang.
Ben shrugs, tapping his pencil on his lab notebook. “I guess he… sorta got his head stuck in a pumpkin or something?”
She blinks. “It’s May.”
He nods, and has his smile always looked like that? “Yes. Yes, it is.”
“Miss Knope,” Mr. Davidson calls. Leslie turns around sheepishly. “Take your seat.”
“But –” she tries to interject. She has a binder for this somewhere. A binder for when Ben Wyatt speaks to her or they get paired together for projects because it’s bound to happen. They’re both honors students, in the same grade, and share six out of eight classes together, and it bites her in the butt more and more every single day. No. Every single hour of every single day.
Mr. Davidson sighs. “I don’t have time for another filibuster today, Leslie.”
Leslie groans and complies. Her elbow accidentally touches Ben’s, and she hisses. Is he a vampire or something?
“I’m not that bad,” Ben reassures, as if he’s choosing his words carefully. “I already did my half of the write up and everything. We just have to do the experiment.”
She eyes him. “Um, you’re the worst, okay? No one even wants you here.”
He holds his hands up in the air innocently. “Wow. Okay. My bad. We’ll just do this in silence then.”
And that’s exactly what they do. Ben measures everything out meticulously, taking notes as Leslie mixes. He calculates the equations as she watches the liquids begin to bubble. He shares his work with her wordlessly, and she does the same.
“You’re a jerk,” she tells him after twenty minutes of everything being way too quiet for her. Sure, the students around them are acting like hyperactive chimpanzees, but Leslie doesn’t have it in her to be still and hushed for this long.
“You may’ve mentioned that already. Anything else?”
She scoffs. “How did you beat me for Class President? Did you cheat?”
“Nope,” he says. “Just gave the voters what they wanted.”
“And let me guess: They wanted a vending machine and less classes and the fruit punch in the water fountain to be replaced with actual water?”
He glances over at her with his eyebrows furrowed. “Sore loser much?”
“I’m not a sore loser, Benjamin!” she screeches. “I’m super chill all the time!”
He snorts. “Sure, Knope. Sure.”
Leslie crosses her arms over her chest while Ben digs back into the equations. She watches him fill in numbers and add them to his lab notebook. Stupid. He’s so stupid. How did a jerk like him even come to exist in the first place?
Mr. Davidson announces there are only five minutes of class left, and she packs up her stuff while Ben zips his backpack.
“I am sorry, you know,” he tells her. “I really did think you’d win.”
She scrunches her nose. “Really?”
He nods. “Your idea to host bake sales once a month for the homeless was pretty awesome.”
She smiles and shoulders her overstuffed bag. “Thanks.”
Prostitute/Client AU -- Ben and Leslie (don't care who is the prostitute tbh)
Did I steal this from True Romance? Yes, I did. When struggling to write, steal plots. That’s my advice to all you young whippersnappers out there in tumblr land.
“Can I sit here?”
They’re the only two people in the theater so there’s plenty of seats that aren’t next to him, but she’s small and pretty and looks fairly non threatening so Ben nods and says, “Sure,” moving his popcorn out of the way.
She beams and sits down, placing her giant soda into the cup holder. “Red vine?” she asks, taking the package out of her purse, along with a box of chocolate covered gummi bears.
35 One of them trying to get the other off drugs AU
This is… Kind of that? Ish? But really it’s mostly Ben and Leslie rushing their relationship at 18 and Ben being an idiot jerk butt.
“Ben,” Leslie’s voice is quiet and unsure when she steps out of their apartment building and sits beside him on the last step. She sounds as if she’s walking on egg shells and it breaks Ben’s heart
“Leslie,” Ben means to reply in a light tone, almost teasing, but the second the words leave the tip of his tongue he knows he’s coming off curt and frustrated. Later he’ll blame his tone on the stress from school and work; after all, they only graduated high school a few months ago. Now they’re already working, going to college, and living together. It’s a lot to take in at a very quick pace.
Which is why he always ends up on the stoop of their apartment complex with a cigarette between his shaking fingers. Leslie hates that he smokes, she made that quite clear on their first date, and yet Ben just can’t shake the habit.
He blames school and work, but deep down he knows it’s the fear that everything is moving to fast. So fast that he just can’t get control of his life to save everything before it slips through the cracks.
“I thought you were trying to quit,” Leslie’s voice drips with disappointment, he doesn’t have to face her to know she can’t even make eye contact with him.
“Ben there’s a lot of serious dangers and risks associated with smoking-”
“I know the dangers of smoking Leslie,” he doesn’t want to snap. He hates getting angry with her, but it just happens. Ben’s heard it all before. The lectures, the advertisements, the posters, the commercials. It’s all the same. It just isn’t easy to quit a habit he’s had since he was fifteen.
“I know you do, Ben. I do. It’s just, you’re not-” Leslie shakes her head, as if she’s thought better of it and wants to backtrack.
“I’m not what, Leslie?”
“Nothing,” he can see her eyes welling up with tears and it makes him wonder when things got so bad. When their high school sweetheart romance met the stress of the real world and started to crack under the pressure.
“No. It’s something. What is it?”
“You’re not even trying Ben!” Her voice cracks when she shouts and she bites her lip, probably willing the tears to not fall. Random neighbors glance at them from across the street and Leslie lowers her voice to a pained whisper. “You promised you were going to try to quit five months ago and you haven’t done anything to try. It’s just constantly cigarette break after cigarette break and-”
“God, Leslie, It’s harder to quit than you think! I can’t just throw away every pack of Marlboros and be cured! It’s not like that! It’s like,” Ben pauses and stares at the sidewalk. Mouth turned down in a scowl and brow furrowed in anger before speaking again. “You wouldn’t understand.”
He regrets the words before they’re even spoken. She’s already upset and disappointed and now he’s making comments like this. Digs that he knows will infuriate her even further just because it’s the only way to avoid talking about it.
“Then help me understand Ben! Just talk to me for once about this! I want to help you and if I don’t understand then why won’t you talk to me about it!?”
Ben moved to stand up, but Leslie catches the sleeve of his jacket, asking again why he won’t just talk to her.
And it just slips out.
“Because you’re never here to talk to Leslie!” Ben runs his free hand through his already messy hair as the words fall out without caution. “You’re working or you’re in class and you’re never fucking here to talk to, okay?”
When he finally wills himself to make eye contact with her Leslie is practically emotionless. There’s a few tears traveling down her cheeks, but other than that she’s just completely still and eyes dull. So unlike the Leslie Knope he fell in love with. The Leslie Knope with bright eyes and bold opinions who could debate with the force of one thousand suns.
But now she’s not debating or arguing or retaliating in any way. No, she’s just sitting there. Silent and unmoving.
He waits for her nose to scrunch up, for her to raise her voice, for any sort of anger to just boil over.
But it never comes.
Instead, Leslie nods and stands. He thinks he hears her say I have to go before she’s walking away in the other direction.
Remember that time Ben wanted to trick Leslie by planning a bunch of gifts and giving them to her the day before their anniversary, but then, when Leslie got tied-up with her job and couldn’t be there for his surprises, instead of making her feel bad for putting her career first or pressuring her into sacrificing work for their relationship, he just took pictures of all the things he had planned and gave them to her in a scrapbook?
I FINALLY FINISHED IT! In honor of the brave national parks employees that rebelled against Trump’s anti-science agenda, I have drawn a revolutionary pic of the Parks and Rec characters! <3 REVOLUTION!