Thank you all for your wonderful comments! I love writing the talking head parts. I haven't seen them in many fics so I wanted to incorporate them here.
As always, please leave comments. I can't become a better writer unless I know what I'm doing wrong.
Ben was gripping the steering wheel as if it was the only thing keeping him on Earth. The dread of having dinner with Marleen Griggs Knope was enough to make him forget gravity existed.
"She's really not a bad person Ben. This is going to be fine." Leslie tried to reassure him but she was not as equally convinced herself. Her mother only invited her over for dinner if she had ulterior motives.
"Remember that this is the woman you tried to convince me that was a Philippine woman because you were afraid to tell me she was your mother."
"Yes, but she hasn't told anyone about us. That's a good sign." Leslie Knope, always the optimist. Ben rested his forehead on the steering wheel and let out a low groan.
"I feel like I should throw up before I go in there. It might make me feel better."
Leslie watched him with a little smirk on her lips. He turned his head when he heard her giggle.
"What?" He chuckled himself. It was hard to not smile when he looked at her.
"Are you always this nervous when having dinner with your girlfriend's parents?"
"No, but they have never been as intimidating as your mother."
"Did you ever have one clean a shotgun at the kitchen table when you came to pick them up? I always thought that would be fun to witness."
"I was from a small town in Minnesota. They all had guns, and they always cleaned them on Fridays."
Ben was pushing his roasted potatoes and bleu cheese turkey meatloaf around his plate. They were making laps at the Indy 500, and the potatoes currently had a two second lead.
"Is there something wrong with the food?" Marlene asked, clearly having noticed that he was playing with his food more than eating it. Ben's eyes snapped up, glancing from Leslie to her mother.
"Uh, no its, um, not that. It's really good. I'm just, uh, um…" Why was he always stuttering?
"He's just nervous about the Little League Tournament. There's a lot to do in the next couple of weeks. It's going to put Pawnee on the map." Leslie reached over and squeezed Ben's hand.
"I thought you were planning it?"
"I'm only helping a little bit, you know I'm worthless when it comes to sports. Did you know Ben here use to play short stop on his JV team?"
"Really? I guess that's where you get your quick response time from?"
"Uh, yeah, funny." Ben tried to laugh but it came out as a forced guffaw. Leslie's phone started to ring, giving Ben a quick break from being on the spot.
"Leslie, we don't take phone calls at the dinner table."
"I know, Mom, but I can't really afford to be detached from society right now." She pulled out the phone and sighed. "It's William, probably calling to strategize. I wish he would just let me run my own campaign. I'll be right back." Leslie started to leave the table much to Ben's chagrin. Once he turned away from watching her, he realized that he had Marleen's full attention.
"What are you doing?" She asked him. It was a bizarre question, and fully not what he expected.
"What am I…what?"
"With her, what are you doing with her?"
"Dating? Enjoying each other's company?" He answered, shrugging his shoulders.
"You sound unsure about that." She pressed. Ben took a deep breath in, and let it exhale slowly between his teeth.
"I really like your daughter. I have never met someone like her before. She makes me a better person just by simply knowing her. And I am truly grateful for that. Before I met her, I was just an audit drone, moving from town to town, not really caring just going through the motions of my job. But the way she cares about Pawnee and the citizens of this town, made me care. And I know if it gets out that we're dating, and it will make both of our lives very difficult, but as long as I have her, everything will be right in the world."
Marleen silently analyzed him. Before this would have made Ben want to crawl under the table, now, after giving his little speech, it just pissed him off. "What?"
"Oh, nothing. I'm just glad to see that Confident Ben has reappeared. I prefer that version of you. Leslie deserves that version." Marleen gave him a brilliant smile, which he returned. Leslie came back into the room and sat down at Ben's side.
"Okay, so that little dilemma has been resolved. What did I miss?"