written for the wonderful mollivanders-at-lj's birthday!
Monday morning, Ann brings Leslie coffee topped with whipped cream, just like she always does. This time, though, it comes with a caveat: not eating dressing-free salad for lunch, but information.
Ann's sneaky like that. You have to be sneaky if you're a good nurse, Leslie's pretty sure.
"So," her best friend says, moments after handing over the coffee, "where were you this weekend? I tried to find you and you weren't at your house, or the park, and then I figured that I might as well check to see if you were in the office-"
Leslie shrugs. "Taking some time for myself. Nothing special."
"You never really take time for yourself," Ann responds," so tell me the truth, or I'll take back the coffee and get Chris to make you lunch."
Because she doesn't want to suffer through another vegetable loaf (and who does?) Leslie caves.
"Hey, thanks for coming over," Ben says, hand behind his head. "I haven't seriously moved my stuff anywhere in, well, years."
"I figured," Leslie says, smiling up at him. "But no fear. I'm very good at helping people unpack and move in, plus, I brought my own labels."
"That's great, that'll be really helpful," Ben smiles. "And thanks for coming over so early too, I would have figured that you were asleep considering how long you stayed at the office yesterday."
"What? No, I've been up since four," Leslie explains. "So. Where do you want to begin?"
Ann smiles, slow and wide. "You were at Ben's?" she asks. "Socializing, or, uh, you know... fraternizing."
Leslie pours some sugar onto the coffee; Ann winces. "I don't know what you mean, Ann, the relationship between Ben and I is entirely professional. We both have jobs to do and we do them. Professionally."
"Yeah, which is why you were at his house on 7:30 on a Saturday morning helping him unpack."
Leslie tilts her head. "Do you see it like that? Because I don't see it like that."
"I totally see it like that."
Leslie opens another box, hoping that the sound of ripping tape won't wake up April and Andy. Ben's already sorted through his clothes, organizing his ties by color on some sort of hanging tie rack thing that she knows organized people have. Tom has one, but when she mentions it to Ben he makes this face that's half-amused and half-horrified.
She wonders what's in the box she's opening and hopes it's books. She's learned her lesson about spying (mostly) but this could be her only chance to see if Ben owns a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt or A People's History of the United States. Or three pocket editions of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. She can't be the only one.
Ben hurries over from his box, which seems to be full of files and other financial statements. "You, uh, you don't have to open that one, it's fine, I got it."
Leslie channels her mother and fixes him with a good glare. "Benjamin. I am helping. As your friend."
(Also, she's insanely curious.)
It pays off less than a minute later. Who said curiosity killed the cat? Cause satisfaction totally brought it back.
"It was a box of Star Wars figurines?" Ann looks like she can't even believe what she's saying. She sips her coffee, black with skim milk and organic sweetener. Sometimes Leslie thinks she needs to fix Ann's eating habits. "I don't even think Andy had many of those left. Maybe just a few of the super rare ones."
"Yeah, well, Ben had a whole box." Leslie shrugs. "But I don't know. It was cute."
Ann raises an eyebrow. "Cute?"
"He was protective of them. Look, it's like- me and my idea binders! They're organized in a very specific fashion and they mean a lot to me."
"Leslie, those binders, while a little frightening, are necessary for your job. I don't really think that you can compare the two that easily."
"Ann. It was cute. Like the gay penguins, except much less controversial."
"Star Wars action figures?" Leslie asks. Ben's- huh. Ben's blushing.
"I, uh, yeah. They're- some of them are from when I was younger and some of them are from college. You know." He pauses. "You don't need to tell everyone at the office that I have a collection, that's not necessary."
"You know I wouldn't do that," Leslie says. "I mean, it's Star Wars. I get it."
She lightly bumps his shoulder with her own. "That you're a total nerd, obviously."
Ben groans. "You sound like Tom."
She smiles. "Sure, but I mean it in a good way."
Ann looks positively delighted. "Wait, so what happened Sunday? Why didn't you pick up your phone then?"
"Oh, you know." Leslie fishes around in her desk drawer for her emergency can of whipped cream. Ann was way too stingy. "He took me to JJ's for brunch and one thing led to another and we talked for a while."
"Leslie, you totally ignored my calls."
"We talked for a long time,' she corrects herself. "And it was nice. More than nice."
Ann sits back, managing to grab the whipped cream can on her way. Sneaky Ann. "Well, I'm glad you had a good reason for ignoring me this weekend. You have my permission to do it again."
Ann's a good friend.
A couple of dozen feet down the hall, Ben is really glad that he's staying in Pawnee.