Disclaimer: Parks isn't mine, it was created by the wonderful Mike Schur, bless his soul.
To be honest, when Leslie gave him the Washington monument figurine on election night, he didn't recognize the box at first. It never occurred to him that she would keep the box when he gave her that pin, though it probably should have. He'd seen the inside of her house after all.
He'd had quite a bit on his mind at the moment, and it wasn't until hours later that he remembered, and even then it wasn't until he saw the way she looked at it.
"Hurry up Ben, they're waiting for us!" Leslie yelled as she gave him a light shove down the hallway.
"You're the one who stopped in the middle of the hallway to make out, not me!" Ben reminded her, giggling as he stumbled slightly to the door. He was pretty tipsy.
"Yeah, I did." Leslie said, her voice suddenly lowering. Even drunk, Ben knew what was coming.
"Just because my ass is there doesn't mean you have to grab it at every turn, Leslie." Ben admonished, turning around and giving her the most stern look he could muster, while knowing he was making googly eyes at her. She looked really pretty, especially with that little smirk on her face. Maybe he should –
"No more kisses, Ben, the others are waiting and we have to get to J.J's soon, I'm starving."
"Fine, fine. After you m'dear." He pulled the door open and bowed, grinning up at her like a drunken idiot, which he supposed he was at that moment. She curtsied before walking through the door to the room where he'd left it, letting out a cackle as she did so.
"There it is!" Leslie exclaimed, pointing to the box laying on the table. She practically ran up to it, grinning, and Ben followed her, full of happiness caused by a combination of victory, alcohol and sappy love. Leslie picked it up and balanced it on her palm.
"Okay honey let's go!" Ben grabbed her hand that wasn't holding the box and made to pull her towards the door, but she just stood there, running her thumb over the box and staring at it with a smile that was almost more sad than happy.
"What's wrong?" He asked, moving to stand next to her, though not letting go of her hand.
"Do you remember this box?" She asked softly, not taking her eyes off of it.
Ben looked at it for a moment, struggling to clear his mind. What did she mean 'did he remember it'? She'd only just given it to him. Looking again at the half sad, half happy look on her face, he suddenly remembered another time he'd seen that look.
"Is… is it that the box the Knope 2012 pin was in?" Ben asked, his voice now soft to match hers, flooded with unexpected emotion.
She just nodded. "I kept it. Well, obviously." She chuckled a bit. "When I went home that day I just sat it down on the coffee table and stared at for a while."
"Leslie." Ben whispered, turning to her and looking into her eyes. He was unsurprised to see tears in her eyes behind her smile.
"I eventually took out the pin, but I didn't move the box for weeks. Not until Ann made me. She thinks I threw it away, but I just kept it in a drawer in my desk. Beautiful, naïve Ann."
She sighed. "And then when I went to get the figurine, I remembered it was there and I just… figured it was symbolic or something, I don't know." She looked a little insecure all the sudden, laughing nervously as she wiped a tear away.
"I get it." Ben smiled, and brought his hand up to tuck her hair behind her ear. The gesture reminded him of their early relationship, when touching her was still such a new experience, and innocent hair touching was like second base.
And he did get it. That box symbolized the end of their short relationship. A relationship they had to give up in order to put her dreams first. Except they hadn't given it up, of course. Not really. And now here she was, putting him first, only without giving up their relationship this time. No, as far as Ben was concerned they were never going to give that up again.
"Anyway, we should get going." Leslie handed him the box.
They walked out of the room together, Ben holding the box in one hand. As he looked down at Leslie, now back to a mostly happy smile, he thought that he was going to use this box again someday, only next time there would be no sadness in her smile.
A/N this is my first fic! Just felt I had to announce that.