Author's Note: Mark-centric, with Mark&Leslie friendship. Spoilers for "Freddy Spaghetti."
Mark did keep her roll of red tape, just as he promised he would.
Not that he could forget where he came from, not that he could forget the woman who gave it to him - it was impossible to forget Leslie Knope, after all. She made people - she made him - want to believe in the power of the people and government.
On the two occasions a year he sent her a card - Christmas and her birthday - he took the roll of red tape out from its position in his top desk drawer, tore off a small piece of it, sealed the envelope shut with it, and then put the roll back, for a later time. Leslie would love receiving mail, and would make a grand show of it, and her eyes would light up when she saw the envelope. Even as he moved onto other jobs beyond his first away from City Hall, it was one of the last things to be packed away and one of the first to be unpacked again. It was what it was - a simple token of affection from an old friend.
He was the last person to be surprised about hearing about her climbing the governmental ladder - first by running for, and winning, a retiring state Congressman's seat and leaving Pawnee behind for the bright lights and cool exterior of Indianapolis, then by parlaying the experience garnered into a run at larger things.
It was absolutely no surprise when he opened his newspaper one day, many years after the last time they'd seen each other in person, that night overlooking the lot, and saw a headline about her being elected as the first female Senator from Indiana. It wasn't quite her oft-repeated goal of being the first female President - at least she was the first female something, though, right?
He sent her a letter to her new Washington DC office address - more like a note, really: "You've come a long way, Senator Knope, from that pit of yours up to the Capitol steps. Well done." As usual, he sealed it in his customary way, the scrap of red tape holding the envelope closed.
He didn't expect a response, especially not a personalized one - he fully expected a form letter - but when he opened his mailbox one day a few weeks later, he saw an envelope postmarked from DC, handwritten in a loopy script. Inside, on formal Senate letterhead, was a standardized form letter from someone he once knew as more personal than that. His eyes scanned down the page as he read the last sentence, written in a matching handwriting to the one on the envelope: "Thanks, Mark! It was always a park, not a pit, in my eyes, but I couldn't have done it without you!" It was personally signed as well, in a grand flourish, with a large L and a large K.
That Leslie Knope: she never did anything on a small scale, and he knew her star would only grow brighter. There was no way she was going to let it fade, not now. Not ever. And he would continue to watch her star rise from afar, always her silent supporter behind the roll of red tape.