|The Dynamic Duo
Author: Dr. Breifs Cat PM
Ben discovers yet another reason why Leslie Knope is the most amazing woman in the world: she's a Batman fan.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Humor - Words: 1,532 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 8 - Published: 05-25-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7021391
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Dynamic Duo
He doesn't know why he's embarrassed to ask her.
When Ben felt a sudden urge to catch up with what had gone on in the world of superheroes in the past year, he went to his roommate. It was a stereotype, and one that rankled him, but Andy was childish, bright-eyed and believed that art should be about fun. But Andy had wrinkled his face, blew out a harsh breath and admitted that he didn't know if there was a comic shop in Pawnee. He suggested asking Leslie. She knew everything about the town. Ben had muttered an awkward thanks and changed the subject. Andy was the first person he'd been open with regarding his feelings for Leslie. Andy was in his corner and Ben appreciated that - but now that he and Leslie were together, and their relationship was one slip away from costing them both their careers, Ben couldn't afford to be truthful with him.
Honestly, he doesn't know why he's embarrassed to ask her. Leslie knows that he's a nerd. He hadn't opened a comic since leaving Indianapolis as an auditor. There had just been so much to distract him in Pawnee: the Harvest Festival, Leslie, adjusting to (and appreciating!) the sheer oddity of the town. So much had been going on that he had not felt any particular drive to read comics. He had simply stopped wanting to escape his life. Leslie has never seen him with an issue of Captain America in hand and he's not sure he wants to change that.
Leslie owns blue, star-spangled Wonder Woman panties. He's seen them. On her.
Even though he is no longer looking for that escape, he still appreciates a fun story and finds inspiration in the larger-than-life figures. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.
But even so, he has to steel up his courage. Ready himself. He stands in the doorway of the office Leslie used to share with Tom, a healthy physical distance away from her. Operation: Shutdown is in full swing. He and Leslie have both worked hard to keep their professional lives from overlapping as much as possible, as to better conceal what goes on in their off-hours. When being together is inescapable, he needs to maintain space. But Andy is down at the shoe shine stand and apt to mill about the Parks Department with April. Ben fears not asking would be more conspicious than waiting.
"Hey." He's trying to sound casual. He leans against the frame. Ben is almost positive he can remember doing that in past conversations, so he hopes it looks somewhat natural.
Leslie looks up from an open binder, upon whose pages she had been scratching furious notations and amendments, with a face that clearly states: are you serious? Operation: Shutdown. He is not supposed to be here.
Ben balks, but just for a moment. "Do you know -" it is a dumb opener, of course she knows, "- I was just wondering if, maybe, there was a comic book store in Pawnee."
It is an innocent, friend-type, non-illicit question. She relaxes and brightens. Ben wants to move closer to her, but settles for knocking his head lightly against the wood.
"Yeah," Leslie answers, "we've got three. I'll show you the best one, if you want."
He grins. That huge, face-splitting I shouldn't say 'I love you' yet, but I love you grin. "Yes," he says. "Let's do that. At some time. That is not now."
"After work," she supplies, with a smile and a firm nod.
"Yes," he says again, backing out of her office. "I will see you then. There. Actually here, outside, maybe, because I don't know where we're going."
She calls his cell at 7:30. The building has been deserted by then, but it is an early quitting time for Leslie.
The store is huge, clean, brightly lit and well-organized. There are long rows of boxes stuffed with back issues, shelves full of collected editions, and displays of statuettes and action figures. Ben can see himself here, a regular customer, absolutely. He makes a beeline for the trade paperbacks while Leslie chats easily with the store keeper and pokes around the latest releases. He doesn't entertain the notion that she would take him to the sort of place to have a 'girlfriend rule' for more than a moment. But even if it was, Leslie Knope is a Pawnee Institution herself and he can't imagine anyone telling her that she may not touch their wares. Still, he tries to keep it quick, grabs the two Captain America books that he needs to catch up on what he has missed and makes his way back to her side.
Just as she slaps three issues of Batman, Inc. onto the counter.
"Just these?" the clerk asks as Leslie digs through her purse for her wallet.
"Just Bruce," she affirms. "I just can't get into Dick as Batman and Damian is such a turd."
"He's gotten better," the clerk says with a shrug. "I like him."
"Batman is an institution," Leslie protests. "Changing Batman is like...like changing the penny."
"That also happened," the clerk points out.
"I know," Leslie groans painfully. "They got rid of the Lincoln Memorial." She turns to Ben at this proclamation with great, big puppy eyes. "They took the Lincoln Memorial off the penny."
But all he can say is, "You like Batman."
"I love Batman," she corrects. "Batman is the best. Let's go to Gotham City."
"It's not real," he says, squirming. She keeps suggesting trips. As jokes, as misdirections, as things that are clearly impossible. He loves Pawnee - really, truly loves it - but it if was at all possible in their situation, he would sprint her away on a romantic getaway the moment she gave it her approval.
"But if it was!"
"But if it was, we'd go."
"Yay!" Leslie chirps, jubilantly clapping her hands. "Gotham is our fictional sister city."
"And Poison Ivy is the director of their Parks Department?" Ben teases.
"God, Ben, she's a eco-terrorist. She'd never work for the government. What's wrong with you?"
Ben glances at the clerk, who slowly shakes his head. "Everything. Clearly." He clears his throat, loud and forced. Subtly, her fingers slip around his hand. She's only playing. He knows this, but he still feels like he's done something wrong. "How come," he begins, trying to shed his embarrassment, "how come I didn't know this about you? The Batman thing."
Her hand falls away and she shrugs. Too much affection in public is dangerous. "I talk about it," she offers. "I was Batman for Halloween once."
"Really?" he asks, grinning.
"Tried to get Tom to be Robin, but he wouldn't go for it. I was going to let him be Dick, too. The ladies love Dick." She clicks her tongue and gives a stage-wink, which is probably why Ben admits:
"I was Robin for Halloween once. Chris's idea. It was a pretty generic costume, though. I don't know which one I was."
"I bet you were Tim," she declares, grinning wide. "Analytical, dedicated to the cause and a total dork."
Ben grins back. "Then you're Steph," he replies, and suddenly, he realizes how completely Steph she is.
But Leslie wrinkles her nose. "I'm not Batgirl," she complains. Even though her expression is one of exasperation-tinged annoyance, Ben is delighted that she knows. The Batgirl in her mind is not the 60's Adam West redhead, but the determined blonde of Batman, Inc. "It's such a cliche. I don't want to be the sexy sidekick."
"Stephanie Brown is not a cliche," Ben declares. Leslie isn't Steph because Steph is the girl. She isn't even Steph because Steph was, for a long time, the girlfriend of the Batman character he himself relates to. "Stephanie Brown was the very first female Robin." Leslie rolls her eyes and mutters something about Carrie Kelly. It sends a genuine thrill through him, but he presses on. "Stephanie Brown is a symbol of women - double standards and what women can accomplish when they fight back." Leslie gives a half shrug - acknowledging, but not impressed. "Her book is about a team of women, saving a town and inspiring girls." He knows he's speaking Leslie's language. "Steph is sunny and upbeat. She has a can-do attitude and doesn't let anyone take it away from her. She's a blonde energizer bunny Pollyanna that only eats waffles. You are Steph."
Leslie looks up at him, sardonic expression and deadpans, "Stephanie works in a library."
Ben opens his mouth to argue, but thankfully, his brain registers that he's lost before he can retort. "So, you wanna just pay for these and go?"
Disclaimers: All standard disclaimers apply to characters, places and situations for both Parks and Recreation and Batman.
Thanks to my betas, Cherry and Redglaresdisciple.