Memories of Her.
Summary: Ben remembers all the wonderful and upsetting times that he and Leslie had been through since the first day they met, she was a pain in the ass, but she was his pain.
Disclaimer: I do not own Parks and Recreation or anything of the characters.
Ben woke to the sound of a baby's cry, he opened a bleary eye and reached over to grab the baby monitor and muffled it in his hands. He was on crying duty tonight and really didn't want to wake the sleeping Leslie next to him, she stirred slightly but the cry didn't seem to wake her and she remained in her deep sleep.
He pulled himself out of his bed and dragged his feet towards the nursery where their three babies slept, or supposedly slept. The three birch cribs stood next to each other, Ben analysed the sound before realising that it was coming from the first crib. He trudged over and leant over, the sound was coming from Wesley, his tiny mouth stretched open as wide as possible as a bleating noise echoed around the room.
Ben reached down and cradled his son, turns out he wasn't hungry nor did his diaper need changing. Wesley just needed some cuddles and reassurance, Ben stayed there soothing his son for about ten minutes before the infant finally drifted off back to sleep. Ben lowered the tiny baby back down into his crib and watched him for a while; just to make sure that he was back in a deep slumber.
He moved on and looked at the two other cribs, Sonia occupied the middle one and hadn't stirred at all during her brother's crying episode, neither had Steven, all three were just fine for the moment.
Ben dragged his feet back into the bedroom, yawning audibly. He glanced at the clock as he covered himself back over with the blankets, 4:58, he would have to be up in an hour.
Was there any real point in going back to sleep? He would have to be up and getting ready for work in an hours time. He could get up and watch old episodes of Star Trek; they would always be playing at this time on some channel.
Leslie stirred next to him and turned in her sleep so she was now facing Ben, he smiled as she did this, he had a clear view of her face in the morning rays. She looked so beautiful, her blonde hair tussled over her face and her mouth parted slightly, her breathing was rhythmic and soothing.
Sometimes he couldn't believe his luck, he had the perfect wife and three beautiful children, when he was living in a rented studio flat in Indianapolis he never thought in a million years he would be this lucky. His life truly began that fateful day when his boss at the time told him to go to a small town about an hours drive away.
Ben smirked, that was so long ago, he still couldn't get over the fact that the annoyingly stubborn blonde woman he clashed with on his first day in Pawnee would one day end up becoming his wife. He remembered that day so clearly, how he and Chris Traeger walked into the Pawnee department ready to demolish the entire government with their full-proof system of good cop/bad cop.
Chris had started with a motivational speech on how they were here to merely 'tinker' with the budget. Leaving Ben to swoop in and completely destroy all hopes that people were going to get out of this in one piece.
He sat in a room with Ron and Leslie both watching him, Leslie looked anxious as Ben prepared himself. He could tell from the way Leslie was desperately trying to side-track from the issue and insist that everyone in her department was useful and the place would collapse if they were fired that she was going to be a pain in the ass. He just had to plough through and refuse to let her walk over him; he'd done this for years now, this was going to be another easy job, Pawnee was a small town after all.
After about a grand total of two minutes into the budget meeting, Leslie snapped.
"You're a jerk".
Ben had been called worse, this slid right off his back, usually people called him names when they were scared for their own jobs, a selfish action, but when Ben looked at Leslie and saw the fiery passion behind her eyes, he realised that she wasn't frightened for her own job, she was angry and scared for her friends, her colleagues and she wasn't going to let Ben get away that easily with taking 40% of her department away from her.
He really met his match with her.
Their next encounter at April's birthday was a drunken mess, on Leslie's behalf that was, she really pissed him off that night, partly because he was fed up of her assuming that this was all her fault, but that still didn't stop Ben inviting her out for a hangover beer the next day. For some reason, he just could not stop thinking about her, it was mainly out of annoyance, he couldn't please everyone in this and he wouldn't dare tell her that it was her job on the chopping board, not anyone else's.
The one thing that Ben both respected and hated about Leslie was just how determined she was, once the government had officially shut down he came to his make-shift office to find his inbox packed with emails and meeting requests from Leslie, she wasn't backing down at all.
Albeit Ben was furious when he found out about the 'Freddy Spaghetti' concert that was supposedly cancelled was now suddenly back on thanks to her, however when things seemed to go south for them he didn't stand back and say 'I told you so', something inside forced him to go to his car and drive over to Eagleton, there he found the singer and shoved a fistful of $100 dollar bills into his hands and in so many words told him to come back over to Pawnee.
That day he went to bed wondering why he had done that, why he had gone to a different town and paid a children's singer a lot of money out of his own pocket for someone who gave him multiple headaches.
He was fascinated by her, nothing romantic, there was a curiosity about her and Ben wanted to stick around long enough to see what else she could do.
The next day Ron had passed the baton to her and she attended all the budget discussion meetings, Ben wasn't sure how she did it, but somehow Leslie had pulled together several plans on how to save as many jobs as possible, there were binders, PowerPoint presentations, leaflets all detailing what could happened, each with a different solution on how to bail themselves out. Sometimes she spoke until her voice grew hoarse, Ben realised everything that he said to her and Ron before wasn't strictly true.
There was only one Leslie Knope and she was the reason Pawnee was special.
Ben remembered the day he finally realised he had fallen for her, the day she got sick with the flu, he had taken her to hospital and offered to take care of her presentation for her. His line of work was at the point where he had cut what he could, now it was time for Pawnee to take the reigns and stand on its own two feet, he wasn't there to cut the budget anymore, he wanted to see it thrive. He could handle this meeting with ease, or so he though.
Leslie snuck out of the hospital and turned up at the Chamber of Commerce meeting, she looked pale and bedraggled but she was determined to go through with it. She insisted that, as it was her department and her career on the line, she made this work.
There, she stood up in front of a crowded room and made her speech, it was word for word perfect. All symptoms of her flu vanished as soon as she stood up and opened her mouth. It was magnificent, Ben was astounded, every time he thought that this was it, there was no way Leslie could surprise him any more, she would do something like this. And every time she surprised him, his heart would flutter.
He liked her, he knew he did, he didn't stay up all night making his family's sacred chicken soup for no reason. She was on his mind; he wanted to see her again and soon. The next morning he turned up at the hospital and presented her with the soup and the waffles. His heart pounded against his chest as they spoke that day, he then found Chris and they both decided that it might be best to stay in Pawnee for longer, for work purposes of course.
About two weeks later things changed for both of them, Ben somehow ended up becoming Leslie's boss and a stupid government rule meant that neither of them could act on their feelings. Ben hated thinking about that time, how hard it was for both of them to be around one another. Then they got together and promptly broke up so that Leslie could run for city council. That was their low.
Ben tried to shove those thoughts right to the back of his head, he hated the thought that at one point in their lives they couldn't be together, no matter how desperately they wanted it. All those longing glances at each other, the conversations where both of them just wanted to drop everything and start kissing, those memories hurt.
But one sweet memory he had was that day in the smallest park. That day where Leslie said 'screw it' and she meant it. Ben could see the tears brimming in her eyes as she spoke, she was shaking in the cold and also in fear that Ben might turn on his heel and walk away forever. In that moment he tried to imagine if he did, but he just couldn't, he couldn't bear the thought of walking out of her life and leaving her behind. He needed her.
The next part was a hazy blur, he acted completely on instinct, it was as if he blacked out and his body acted on its own. He grabbed Leslie and pulled her into a passionate kiss, a good two months worth of kisses he needed to give her.
Their relationship was concrete from their on, despite it costing Ben his job and Leslie's campaign was in turmoil for a good few weeks. But it was so worth it all, even after the bad times at least they could come home to each other, things just seemed better all of a sudden when they laid their eyes on one another after a long day.
Their lives had been such a whirlwind, they had survived so much together, Washington, a crazy impulse wedding, a recall vote, two lost jobs, a job offer in Chicago…and of course the triplets.
Sonia, Wesley and Steven. Those three beautiful babies that Leslie brought into this world, yes he was terrified at first but right now he couldn't imagine them not being in his life, the long nine months before they could finally meet their babies was torture, after the initial shock set in all they wanted to do was hold their children and begin their journey into parenthood. He remembered every Doctor visit, scared that something could be wrong since it was such a high-risk pregnancy, but every time three heartbeats were picked up. Three strong, fast beating hearts, that sound was music to Ben's ears, every kick he felt against his palm brought a smile to his face, it was stressful and so hard for Leslie, but at the end of it all, it was so worth it.
And now here they were, a couple, a family. Ben was still so surprised that this woman was the same person who gave him so much grief when they first met. Did she think the same sometimes? How this cynical, stubborn man would one day become her husband?
A sudden buzzing startled him; their alarm was going off. It was time for another day at work, Leslie stirred and opened her eyes, realising she was face to face with Ben she smiled.
"Good Morning, what are you doing awake?" She asked, a look of concern on her face, "Did the triplets keep you up all night?"
Ben's heart swelled with affection, "No" He said, "They were just perfect".
He leant in and kissed her, a long, romantic kiss. He had spent the good part of this morning re-living every good bad and ugly moment of their crazy life, he didn't care that he would probably need about thirty cups of coffee later and would spend the day yawning, it was so worth it.
Maybe he'd do it again one day, remember all the times at the beginning when they had a dislike for each other, she might have been a pain in his ass, but at least she was his pain in the ass.
Fun fact: I was going to name this story 'My Pain in the Ass' but that might seem a bit suggestive…
I hope you all enjoyed this!