Fandom: Parks and Recreation
Summary: Ben’s sister goes to Pawnee for the holidays.
Disclaimer: I do not own Parks and Rec.
A/N: Okay, a little background: this was actually written last Christmas as a follow up to “Smallest Park”, around when the internet was into the idea of Anna Kendrick being Ben’s sister (who, fyi, plays her here), but for a couple different reasons (mostly me being super busy) was pushed to the side, and after it was too late I decided I would just post it the next year. However, these spoilers are threatening to make it even less canon than it already is. As a result, here’s Christmas in September (or a Christmas Rosh Hashanah – whatever flouts your bout.) Unbetaed, not at all my best work, and again, sufficiently made AU by time. If this softens the blow, I'm working on a Parks Spy AU. I feel like that makes everything better. (and I would love it if someone could bounce ideas off with or look it over - I have a beta but could always use more help :)
The first thing you need to know about Katie Wyatt is that she graduated top of her class at Harvard University. Yes, the younger sister of Ice Clown Ben Wyatt hasn’t just overcome the dark shadow her brother left behind, but she continuously exceeds him at everything she tries, from Model UN (she super-duper did it) to interacting in front of the camera (in grade school, she was head of her elementary school TV station.) Residing in Chicago, Katie spends most of her time working and hanging out with her live-in boyfriend, Jack, who is a member of the city’s police force.
She’s also a lawyer. And occasionally the bane of her brother’s existents. It’s not that he’s not proud of her, because as her older brother and friend he’s extremely proud, but Ben would be lying if he claimed he hadn’t ever cringed at her endless list of extraordinary accomplishments. He can’t help it! When you’re the laughing stock of your home town, it’s not exactly fun to have a younger sister (ten years younger, to be exact) who outshines you in every aspect of your adult life. Being told “your sister is doing so well with her life” isn’t much better than “suck it, Ice Clown”.
And okay, maybe he’s a little jealous. But come on, you would be too.
Of course, he hasn’t seen her in almost two years now. Since moving to Pawnee, Katie has had no desire to visit (“Benjy, what exactly inspired you to move to a place that still uses AltaVista?”), and aside from last Christmas, she’s had to work pretty non-stop, preventing her from taking any big breaks. And in the time they’ve been apart, Ben has gotten a new job, found a place he can truly call home, and met the love of his life, so despite the lack of brother-sister bonding, he’s feeling pretty good about things. Just because Katie has achieved more success, technically speaking, doesn’t mean he’s a failure. It just means he wants different things.
It’s a cool, December day in Pawnee, weeks before Christmas and thus one of the busiest times of the year, not least because of the shopping. Ben and Leslie have recently come out, so to speak, to the entire office, including Chris, and while most people were ecstatic, he most certainly was not. After a lengthy trial where both their jobs were hanging by a thread, Chris voted to suspend them both for three weeks, a fairly mild punishment in Ben’s opinion. Leslie, of course, couldn’t agree less, and since coming back to work, had been dedicating a healthy chunk of her life to getting back in Chris’ good graces.
It, surprisingly enough, was not an easy task.
“Leslie,” Ben said one morning before work, “you don’t have to do all this. Chris is a jerk, and if he’s not going to be happy for us, then what reason do we have to please him?”
“Because he’s our boss! And because we chose to break one of his most important rules,” Leslie got out, speaking so fast that Ben could hardly keep up. “Ben, what we’re doing is technically wrong, and the only way we’re ever going to earn Chris’ trust back is if we accept responsibility for what we’ve done and deal with the consequences, no matter what they are.”
“But we already have.” Leslie gave him a look. “Okay, you’re right. Just please do me a favor and don’t drive yourself insane trying to win his approval.”
She gave him a begrudging smile. “I’ll try.”
And so was his life right now. Dealing with the perils of Chris constantly trying to find reasons to be dissatisfied with his and Leslie’s work, and the pleasures of being in a real relationship with her. Getting to publicly call Leslie his girlfriend made up for any and all hardships that it may bring. And the best part? That Leslie definitely felt the same way.
Yeah, life’s been generally pretty awesome as of late.
But back to today, two week from Christmas, everybody either going crazy from shopping or the thought of spending time with their families. Ben, however does not have that luxury (or is it turmoil?) Both his parents have chosen to spend the holidays with their respective partner’s families, and since Katie has shown no interest in coming to Pawnee, he’s decided to accept Leslie’s invitation to spend Christmas with her family. It’ll be nice, he thinks; Marlene still seems to like him even after he put her daughter’s political career in jeopardy, and Ben really likes to idea of meeting the rest of her relatives. It makes this thing seem more real, like him and Leslie aren’t breaking up anytime soon (or ever), so she’s more than okay with introducing him to her family, and more importantly, making him part of the family.
Ben likes to sound of that.
And so, on this fateful day, when he hears the sound his twenty-seven year old sister saying “hi, Benjy”, Ben can’t help it if all the hairs on his back stick up and his eyeballs roll out of his head.
“… Katie,” Ben barely gets out, trying to fathom how and why she would be in his office, two weeks before Christmas, “what – what are you doing here?”
She’s changed her look since the last time they met, wearing a pretty red plaid shirt under her blazer, and her brown hair has grown and gone darker. She’s also gotten rid of her bangs (Ben never liked them anyway), and instead of sporting her normal ponytail, she’s worn her hair down, a couple of pieces clouding her face.
“Benjy, I don’t even get a hug before you start questioning me?” she starts, smiling and moving in to hug him.
“Sorry, sorry,” Ben breaths, hugging her, “I just… can’t believe you’re here. How’d you get time off work?”
“It turns out that never missing work means that I have like twenty vacation days, so I thought I’d come and surprise my favorite brother.”
“Yeah, I’m you’re only brother,” Ben says, finally smiling and give her a big, tight hug. “Wait – what about Jack? Please tell me he’s not parking the car?”
“Oh…” she suddenly lets go of Ben and looks down, “well, if you must know, we broke up a couple weeks ago.”
“Oh, Katie, I’m so sorry. I know you were really serious about him.”
She shakes her head, lightly smiling. “Don’t be sorry. We just wanted different things.” She bites her lip, and Ben swears he sees her zone out for a moment, before squeezing her eyes shut and looking back up at him, a quaint smile plastered on her face. “Anyway, I don’t want to talk about him, I want to talk about you and your new life here in… what’s it called? Zorp?”
“Pawnee,” he corrects her, “and catching up sounds like a great idea. How about I take you to dinner tonight? Where are you staying?”
“Well, um, that’s the thing. This visit being so impromptu and all, I thought I could maybe stay with you,” she says, smiling up at him. “I mean, you have room at your place, right?”
“Well, um… this is it.”
Ben wishes he had had more time to clean up, maybe have a talk with April and Andy before he took his baby sister to their house. The place hasn’t been properly cleaned all month (Ben’s been busy with Leslie, Andy always thinks April’s going to clean, and April never cleans), and thus looks like a destroyed blanket fort and smells like pop-rocks. The couch is without any cushions, not all the Halloween decorations have been put away, and Ben’s pretty sure Andy and April were trying to fry jellybeans last night (he was over at Leslie’s.)
“I know it’s a little rough around the edges,” Ben says, leading the way through the messy house, “but it grows on you.”
“I bet,” Katie quips, raising an eyebrow. “Hey, don’t you have roommates?”
“Yeah, they’re at work… which is actually where I should be right now. Listen--”
“You want to leave me here?”
“Just for a couple hours. I swear, it’s not dangerous,” he tried to persuade her. “Just, you know, hang out or play X-box or something.”
“Benjy, why can’t I just go and spend time with you at work? I won’t cause any trouble.”
“I don’t think that’s the best idea,” Ben says, looking for the couch cushions. “I’m not exactly the boss’s favorite guy at work lately. I don’t think bringing my baby sister in will help with that.”
“But I thought you were working for Chris? Doesn’t that make you, like, the permanent employee of the month or something?”
Ben shakes his head. “Not exactly.” He finally fixes the couch and finds her the remote, handing it over, “listen, Katie, I know this isn’t exactly the Ritz, but try not to be that negative. Your room is back that way,” he says pointing. “Please don’t go sneaking around?”
“Okay, I – wait, am I staying in your room?” she asks, noticing the Star Wars poster on his wall. Ben lays his head low. “Where are you going to sleep?”
“I’m staying at a friend’s house,” Ben says, heading for the front door. “I’ll be back at five-thirty.”
“Bye, Benjy,” she says, looking around the house. “I’ll do my best not the burn the house down.”
“And that’s why you guys can’t do anything too crazy for the next couple days,” Ben told Andy and April, finally finishing his fifteen minute seminar on how to act in front of Katie. “Do we all understand?”
“So,” April starts, “you want us to take her to the Snakehole Lounge and give her a bunch of shots and introduce her to Jean Ralphio before feeding her pig’s blood?”
“No,” Ben sighs, putting his head in his hands. “Okay, let’s start over, we need to--”
“Hey guys,” Leslie chimes in as she walked up, Tom right behind her, “what are all talking about?”
“Ben’s sister is in town,” Andy starts.
“And Ben’s teaching us how to corrupt her,” April finishes.
Ben barely had time to get out a quiet no before Leslie claps her hands together and gives him a big smile. “Your sister! Ben, you have to introduce us!”
Ben lightly shook his head, “I’m not sure if that’s such a good idea.”
“Why,” Tom asks, “is your sister blind or something? No, she’s a bigger nerd then you, isn’t she?”
“No Tom, that’s not it, it’s just--”
“Oh, please Ben, please, please, Ben please, please, please. Pretty please, Ben, please, please, please--”
“Okay!” Ben shouted. “Leslie can meet her, but I’m sorry Tom, I don’t think it would be so great for you guys to meet.”
“Why can’t I meet her, Benjamin?” Tom asked.
“Yeah, why not?” Leslie agreed.
“Why not, why not?” Tom, April, and Andy started chanting.
Ben let out a frustrated sigh, pulled his wallet from his back pocket, and took out an old photo. “Here,” he said, shoving it in Leslie’s face.
Everyone was quiet for a moment, as Leslie (and later Andy, April, and Tom) stood shell-shocked, staring at the photo. Leslie let out a faint wow, while Andy and April looked back and forth between Ben and the photo. Tom’s reaction, however, was the best (worst?)
“Ben, you fuckwit!” He shouts, everyone else staring at him oddly “How dare you not tell me that you had a hot sister! I thought we were friends, man.”
“Okay now Tom, don’t get too over the top--”
“No!” Tom shouts, throwing the photo in Ben’s face. “This is a complete violation of the friend code! When you have a hot sis, you always tell your available buds. I thought we were friends.”
“Oh Tom,” Leslie starts, “don’t make this a bigger deal than it is.”
“No, it’s too late,” Tom says, pushing his hand in Ben’s face. “I’m sorry, but there is simply no way I could forgive you for what you’ve done. Benjamin, you and I are donezo.”
Ignoring the mock shocked sounds from April and Andy, Ben attempted to put his hand on Tom’s shoulder. “Tom, I never told you about Katie because, well, you’re not really her type.”
“What, is she not hot?” Tom asked.
“Well no, but--”
“Then your sister is my type! Honestly it’s like you don’t know me at all.”
“Listen Tom, she just got out of a long relationship and--”
“Don’t beg Ben,” Tom interjected, “it makes you look like an even bigger nerd.”
“You’re a horrible friend” April said under her breath.
“But Tom, please--”
And of course, right about now, his phone started buzzing.
Ben sighed. “Hold on a second,” he breathed, answering the phone. “Hey Katie. Yeah, I’ll pick you up for dinner around six. It’s a pretty nice place… Yes Katie, they do have nice restaurants in Pawnee. No, they’re not all novelty restaurants. Okay, Katie. Okay. Bye--”
However, before hanging up, Ben looked around the room at Leslie, Tom, Andy and April, clearly hanging on to every word he said. “Wait,” he quickly said, “actually, if it’s all right, I’m bringing some friends to dinner. Yes, I know I said it would be just the two of us. I’ll take you out again tomorrow. Yeah, it’s only going to be…” catching Leslie’s stern eye, “well, it might be kind of a big group. Just my girlfriend, and her best friend, and her boss, and my roommates, and the rest of the Parks Department… yes Katie, I know how you feel about big groups, but trust me, you’ll like these people. Oh, and Katie, please be nice,” looking over at Tom, “I’ve got a really great friend to introduce you to. Okay, okay bye.”
As soon as he hung up, Leslie happily squealed, while April said in a bored voice “do we have to go,” and Tom began to fake-cry, tightly hugging Ben.
“What’s going on out here?” Ron asked, stepping out of his office due to all the commotion.
Leslie, who was attempting to hug Ben (Tom hadn’t let go just yet), looked up and said in the breathless voice “we’re going to dinner.”
“So everyone, this is Katie, my younger sister,” Ben announced to the table, trying not to blush. “Katie this is everyone.”
“Hi,” Katie said in a too-cheery voice. “And who might everyone be, Benjy?”
Ignoring the laughs of Andy, April and Tom, Ben attempted to introduce the entire table. “Well, this is Leslie, my girlfriend,” he started, gesturing to his side, “and that’s Ann, her best friend, who’s also the city health manager, and then there’s Andy and April over there, who are also my roommates. And that’s Ron, Donna, Tom and Jerry, who all work in the Parks Department with Leslie. And well, that’s everybody.”
“Wow,” Katie said in a mock-shocked look, “that’s a lot of people.”
The entire group simply stared oddly at her, all most likely surprised at her appearance. It’s not as though Ben was particularly ugly, but yes, Katie did sort of look like a super model compared to him. As her older brother, who had spent most of his life thinking of her as his kid-sister, even Ben had to admit she was unusually beautiful. He wasn’t that thick.
“So Katie,” Leslie immediately chimed in, “where did you go to school again.
“I went to Harvard…” And now they all started staring again, because now they knew the other reason people always preferred his sister to himself; she was kind of a genius. “I graduated top of my class, 2005.”
“Wow,” Leslie gasped, a huge smile spreading on her face, and they were off, talking colleges and politics and the works. As they were chatting, Tom sneaked up behind him, pulling him off to the side.
“Hey, Benjamin, what’s your sister’s favorite Vince Vaughn movie?” he asked in a whisper, like it was the most important thing in the world.
“I don’t really know, Tom. She doesn’t talk about him much.”
“Well, think of something!” he silently shouted (because, yes, that is possible). “Come on, Ben, my entire future with your sis rides on this!”
“First off,” Ben started, “Katie just got out a long relationship, so I don’t really think she’s looking for a new guy. And second, how on Earth would a Vince Vaughn movie have anything to do with your potential romance?”
Tom simply shook his head. “If you have to ask, then there’s clearly no hope for you, Benjy,” Tom said as he walked away.
Ben rolled his eyes, glancing around the room. Katie and Leslie were clearly wrapped up conversation (figures his sister and girlfriend would get along great), with Ann happily hanging in the background. Andy and April were heavily making out, while Ron and Jerry were enjoying their meals, and Donna was messing with her phone. All in all, Ben thought the night was turning out alright (no one had been hurt, so he thought things were relatively good.) As the desserts were being served, Leslie came and sat back down with Ben, taking a scoop of his ice cream and said in a cheerful voice, “your sister is amazing, Ben! I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned her more.”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Ben said sheepishly. Really, he doesn’t know why he didn’t mention her. Even though her accomplishments heavily weigh out his own, he shouldn’t punish her for it by not letting be part of his life. Really, what exactly was he so worried about?
(It’s at that moment that he gets the answer.)
Feeling pretty fucking good about his life, Ben looked across the room to find Katie and Tom talking; her laughing wholeheartedly at what Ben can only hope is a joke and Tom looking more pleased then ever.
“Good lord,” Ben groaned, dumping his head into his hands. “Of course. Of course my baby sister would be into Tom.”
Leslie made a grossed out face before going “hey, it might not be that,” in a reassuring tone. “He may just be telling her a funny joke. Come on, you know how hilarious Tom can be.” At that moment, however, Katie, who was still laughing uncontrollably, grabbed on to Tom’s arm affectionately and said in a voice loud enough for the entire party to hear, “my god Tom, you’re like the funniest guy ever!”
“And maybe your sister is a little into Tom,” Leslie said begrudgingly. “Wait, I thought you said she just got out of a long relationship. What was he like?”
Ben sat up, shaking his head. “He was a muscular, intelligent, bad-ass police officer. Pretty much the anti-Tom.”
“Well,” Leslie slowly contemplated, “maybe that’s why she likes Tom, because he’s so different from her ex. Why did they break up?”
Ben paused for a moment, trying to think of why they may have ended. “You know, I… don’t know.”
At this, Leslie lightly raised an eyebrow. “Maybe you should find out.”
“You’re friends are really cool,” Katie said as they walked up the steps to the house. “And Leslie is, like, the female version of you. Only more positive.”
Katie looked up at Ben, sensing an odd coldness in his voice. “What’s wrong, Benjy?” She asked.
“Katie,” started, guiding her to the porch swing and sitting down, “what are you doing here. And try and be honest. I know it’s not easy for you.”
Katie rolled her eyes, sitting down next to him. “I’m here because I haven’t seen my big brother in almost an entire year, and maybe I missed him a little bit.”
Ben raised an eyebrow.
“Okay, and I had made plans to spend the holidays with Jack, but obviously that’s not happening anymore. And Mom and Dad are doing their own things so I just thought--”
“And you thought you’d tagged along with whatever your brother was doing for Christmas,” Ben interjected.
“Well, I do have a lot of vacations days.”
Ben let out a frustrated sigh, dumping his head into his hand. “Katie, you can’t just show up and expect to be able to hang out for the rest of the month. I have work and stuff.”
“Well I can’t go back to Chicago! Jack said he’d be moved out by Christmas, but I’m not going to risk to possibility of having to live with that man for another second.”
“Katie,” Ben sighed, faintly shaking his head, “why did you and Jack break-up. And please don’t bullshit me.”
Katie immediately looked down and started messing with her hands, twisting her fingers and clicking her nails. “It’s like I said before. We just, you know, wanted different things.”
Ben raised an eyebrow, again.
“Fine,” she huffed. “I thought we were going to get married one day, and as it turns out, he didn’t.”
Ben lightly touched her shoulder, rubbing it gently. “I’m really sorry, Katie.”
But she simply shook her head, giving him a bitter smile. “Don’t be, I’m totally over it.” Then after a moment, perking up, “and now I get to spend the holidays with my amazing brother, so it’s a win-win.”
At this, Ben sat up, shaking his head and squeezing his eyes shut. “I’m going to meet Leslie’s family for Christmas.”
“Great, I’ll come with you!”
“You haven’t been invited.”
“Well,” she said, attempting to nuzzle his shoulder, “I’m sure once you explain the situation, Leslie will be dying to let me come.” Then, after his repeated silence, “I’ll sleep on the couch. I’ll clean, I’ll cook meals, I’ll--”
“No, I can’t stay?” she asked tentatively.
“No, you aren’t sleeping on the couch,” Ben started. “You’ll stay in my room, I’ll ask Leslie if I can sleep at her place for the next couple weeks.”
Katie erupted into a wide smile. “Oh Benjy, thank you, thank you, thank you!” She shouted, giving him a massive hug as the swing continued to move. “You will not regret this, I promise!”
“Yeah, yeah, okay,” she said, smiling despite himself. “Just do me a favor while you’re here.”
“Don’t call me Benjy.”
So apparently, despite their fairly juxtaposed personalities, Katie and April get along amazingly. In retrospect, Ben should have seen it coming, as they both get a kick out of seeing Ben squirm (at seven, Katie had a bit of a mean streak – reserved specifically for Ben) and are around the same age. Maybe their lifestyles are a little paralleled (Katie works at a lawyer at a high paying firm in Chicago while April is married and ‘works’ at the Pawnee government), but their deep amusement at anything out of the ordinary is not, and it’s never more apparent then when Ben walks into the house twelve days before Christmas to find the girls shouting “chug, chug, chug!” as Andy downs a huge bottle of eggnog, a large pile of empty cartons sitting next to them on the floor.
“Um… what exactly is going on here?”
Katie immediately looked up, smiling, and ran over to him. “Benjy- I mean, Ben.” Andy (who had eggnog running down his shirt) and April giggled. “We were just trying to figure out how many cartons of eggnog Andy can chug before he explodes. Or, you know, pukes.”
Before Katie has time to explain anymore, Ben says in a snippy voice “can I talk to you for a moment,” as he’s dragging her off into his room. “Katie,” he starts in an annoyed voice, “what is going on?”
“Well I think the definition I gave you pretty much summed it up--”
“No, I mean,” he said, frustrated, “what’s going on with you? You graduated from Harvard and now your shouting ‘chug’ while my roommate gulps down cartons of eggnog. Katie,” he started shaking his head, “this isn’t like you.”
“I know, it’s just that…” he started, shrugging, “I never really had a chance to do shit like this in college, what with studying to be a lawyer and all, and now that I have some free time on my hands, I want to have fun with it.”
Well, he couldn’t blame her for that. Even though he was only in office for two months, Ben did certainly have a crazy period afterwards, getting drunk and wasting all his time doing pointless, kids stuff (to clarify, this would usually consist of getting drunk of wine coolers and masturbating to Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi, but this was still pretty crazy for him.) And Katie, who spent her entire adolescence and early twenties working hard and getting things done (Ben remembers that like was like a less enthusiastic Leslie), probably hasn’t had any chances to just let loose and be wild. Thinking about it, she defiantly deserves a little crazy time, and better it be hanging out with April and Andy then snorting coke with some pimp name Grizz. Andy does has some level of maturity lodged in his brain, right?
“You promise me you’re no having some sort of life crisis?” Ben asked, a begrudging smile peeping up on his face.
“I promise, Benjy,” she said, placing her right hand on her left shoulder like she was saying the pledge. “Excuse me, Ben.”
“Go crazy,” Ben said with a smile.
However, two seconds later, Tom arrived, shouting “Tommy Timberlake is in the house” as he entered.
“Um,” Ben started as Tom came over to them and put his arm around Katie, “what is Tom doing here?”
“Oh, I invited him. I thought it would be super fun if hung out.”
“Yeah,” Tom said in a cocky tone, “she invited him.”
So maybe this crazy period was going to be a little crazier then she thought. “Great.”
“Okay,” Leslie starts, walking through Target like she’s on a military exposition. It’s preciously ten days till Christmas, and it’s only recently be revealed that neither Ben, Andy, or April own holiday home attire and, according to Leslie, that’s simply unacceptable, thus Ben, Katie and Leslie are currently on a mission to make the house cheery. “Week already have a tree, Ann is helping Andy and April bake cookies,” she says, ticking up her fingers like check things off a list. “But we still need ordainments, lights, tinsel, and of course lots of candy.”
“Candy and cookies?” Katie asked under her breath, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes,” Leslie snips, “we need plenty of candy-canes to hang on the tree, and then of course we need a ton more for eating purposes, and then--”
At that moment, the announcer came on, reminding the customers that they were currently have a sale on all items in the fifth aisle. “Oh,” Leslie shouted, causing Katie to jump, “I’ll be right back,” and with that, she was rushing off across the store, leaving Katie and Ben to attempt to select decorations that she will be satisfied with.
“So,” Katie started, walking backwards as Ben pushed their cart, “how long have you and Leslie been going on?”
Ben chuckled, throwing a couple boxes of lights into the cart. “Publicly, about four weeks.”
Katie suddenly stopped, raising an eyebrow. “And privately?”
Ben rolled his eyes, moving into the next aisle and trying to decide on which kind of wrapping paper would please Leslie best (reindeer vs. showmen; obviously a tough call.) “Privately, we dated a bit last spring, but had to break up because of her campaign. We only recently got back together.”
“And when you say privately, you mean…”
“Secretly, Katie,” Ben said in slight frustration, throwing both kinds of paper into the cart. “Leslie and I dated in secret.”
Katie then let out a high-pitched laugh, causing a few people to stare. “My god Benjy, you’re such a rebel. I didn’t know you had it in you.”
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t that big a deal…”
“No, I think it was,” she said, an evil smile spread on her face (Ben suddenly has flashbacks to when he was seventeen and she used to always walk in his room while he was with a girl; at seven years old, no less), “did you guys, like, sneak around and make out in closets? Ha! What would Mom and Dad say?”
Ben was just about to tell Katie that it wouldn’t matter what they said, because he’s a thirty seven years old an can do whatever the fuck he wants, when Leslie walked back up, dumping a huge pile of decoration into the cart.
“Okay Ben, now I know you said earlier that it would be a bad idea to spend all out money on decorations, but come on,” she said, picking up little American flag ordainment and waving it in Ben’s face, “how can we not buy this?”
Ben let out a small sign of relief, happy to have his sister quiet for a moment. “It’s great Leslie.”
“I know I – oh no! I forgot to get enough candy-canes, I have to go back.
Because she had a chance to rush off, however, Katie piped up. “Wait, Leslie, let me come with you, help you carry all the boxes,” she said, smiling. “You can’t ever have enough candy, can you?”
Leslie raised a happy eyebrow, laughing lightly at Ben’s little groans. “Okay, great,” she breathed, moving closer to Ben. “I don’t know why you haven’t talked about her more, Ben, she’s delightful.” And with that, they were off, leaving Ben all alone to figure out what would be a better present for Ron; bacon or steak.
“Hey Ben,” Leslie asks, strutting into her living room, “what do you think Katie would prefer for Christmas; an encyclopedia of every Harvard or an encyclopedia of Pawnee, aka, my book.” It’s now six days till Christmas, meaning that Leslie is in hyper-holiday mode. Both her and Ben’s places have been sugar-coated in holiday decorations (though he’s beginning to feel like Leslie’s place is more his than his own home, since he hasn’t slept there in like a week,) and the tree in her house already had a butt-load of presents tucked under it. “Because I know it might seem a little self-absorbed to give her a book I wrote, but come on, its got everything she could ever want to know about Pawnee. Ever!”
Yes, the race to Christmas was in its prime. Almost all gift had been bought, cookies were being made, and the number of x’s on his calendar was on its way to being non-existent. The only really big thing left for any of them was to get something for Katie, since her arrival (and the news that she would be staying for the holidays) was so recent.
“I think that giving her a copy of your books is a great idea,” Ben said, smiling. “It totally beats what I bought her.”
“Oooh. What’d you get you?”
Ben scooted over to his briefcase and got out a thick book that said 101 Most Important Lawyers of the Last 1000 Years. “I got it for her in the summer when Borders was going out of business. It’s not really that good or anything, but I don’t know, I thought she might like it. I mean, I had been under the impression that she’d be getting in the mail and not in person, but whatever.”
“Well, I think it’s great,” Leslie encouraged, setting some more presents under the tree. “Sooo,” she said in a cute voice as she sat down next to him on the couch and scooted close, “what did you get me?”
“No way,” Ben said with a chuckle. “You’re not getting a pipe out of me until Christmas morning.”
“Oh come on,” Leslie started as she followed Ben, who was heading for the kitchen (apparently, being in a real relationship with Leslie meant that we was starting to develop similar feeling towards sweets). “This is our first holiday season together. You can’t expect not to try even a little bit to get you to confess what you got me.”
“You can try,” Ben said, cookie in his mouth, “but nothing will come of it. In my house we had a long family tradition of waiting till Christmas morning to learn what out presents are.”
“And in my house we have a tradition of sneaking around until be found our presents.”
“Fine,” Ben decided, taking one last cookie from the jar before putting it back on the shelf. “We compromise. I give you one hint about what the gift may be, and if you guess it right, I have to tell you the truth.”
Leslie contemplated this for a moment, clearly weighing her options. “Okay, but it has to be a hint that I can work with.”
“Alright,” Ben said, thinking. “Here goes; it’s something very magical.”
Leslie paused for a moment, deep in thought, and Ben considered for a second that her brain might explode if she didn’t figure it out (which was impossible -- right? There is no way that Leslie could get the entire gift from the words “it’s something very magical”.) But then, after a couple minutes, she started jumping up and down like a crazy person, a manic smile playing on her face. “You got me the Harry Potter 8 box-set!”
“Actually, that’s not--”
“With a bonus Gryffindor robe, wand, and hat,” she squealed, taking his hands in hers and jumping like a rabbit.
For Christmas Eve Eve (according to Leslie, that counts as a holiday) the entire Parks department plus Ann, Ben, and Katie head over to Leslie’s for presents, cookies, and the day’s first showing of A Christmas Story. In all pretty fun, hanging out with his friends and seeing the looks on their faces when they opens his gifts (for Donna, he bought a pink cashmere sweater; she screamed.) Right around when that one kid gets his tongue stuck to the poll, however, Ben catches Tom and Katie kissing under the mistletoe, and up and out of his seat before the teacher even notices..
“What’s wrong?” Leslie asks Ben in the kitchen a couple minuets later. Ben nods in the direction of Tom and Katie. “Oh my,” she says, giving Ben a sympathetic look. “Well, we all knew it was going to happen some time.”
Leslies slightly nods. “I think we did. But look on the bright side.”
“What. That they’re only kissing?”
“No,” Leslie said, shaking her head. “That it’s Christmas Eve Eve, and that in only two days we will be amercing ourselves presents and baked-goods galore!”
Christmas day turns out to be pretty alright. After exchanging presents in the morning, Leslie and Ben pick up Katie at Ben’s place and head over to Marlene’s, where they meet the rest of Leslie’s family. Ben is universally liked (by the end of the festivities, Leslie’s aunt Carole has even started calling him Benny.) Katie fairly welled received too, and after a long day of eating cookies and singing Christmas carols, they finally head out, Marlene inviting Ben and Katie to come back for thanksgiving, and winking at Ben before whispering “I’m glad things are going so well between you two.” It’s with full stomachs and worm, coco filled bodies that they drive over to Ben, Andy, and April’s house.
The real party, however, hasn’t even started.
When Leslie, Ben, and Katie arrive at the house, they find Andy and April cleaning, the place actually looking fit for people to hang out in. It’s not long before Ann, Ron, Donna, and Tom (Jerry’s invitation got lost in the mail…) have arrived, along with a string of different friends and what-not. Bright lights shine as holiday music plays and almost everyone dances, various presents being exchanged and cookies being devoured, everyone having a great time.
It’s around 11:30 when Leslie finally waltzes over to Ben, having said hello to every party guest (because you can’t be on the city council without having enough graces to greet all your party guests). He’s been sitting in the corner for a while now, nursing a beer and slowly eating Leslie’s homemade sugar cookies.
“Hey,” she greets, sitting down next to him and grabbing a cookie, “is everything okay?”
“Yeah,” he sighs, looking down and wrapping an arm around Leslie, who takes his wine glass for a sip. “It’s just…” His eyes move to the other side of the room, Katie and Tom getting talking and laughing in the left corner.
“Ah,” she sighed, handing his back his glass. “You know you can’t stop them from getting together, right,” she whispers into his ear.
Ben lightly smiled. “Yeah, I know,” he said, taking another cookie from the tray. “It’ just, Tom really isn’t the kind of guy I saw my baby sister dating.”
“I know, but it could be a lot worse; she could be interested in Jean Ralphio.”
“Excellent point,” Ben said, looking at Leslie as “White Christmas” (performed by Bing Crosby, of course) came on the stereo. “Hey,” he starts, finally getting up and holding his hand out to Leslie. “Let’s dance.”
Leslie barely has time to answer before they’re out on the dance floor (which is really just the living room), swaying to the music and smiling brightly at one and other.
“So,” Leslie starts, putting her arms around his neck, “how’s this Pawnee Christmas treating you?”
Ben looks over his shoulder to see Andy and April dancing as well, along with Donna and Ann and, sadly not to his surprise, Katie and Tom. Ron was standing in the corner, sipping a large glass of gin and eating a ham, and Jerry and Gale snuggling on the couch while Millicent and Chris talked outside in, what Ben was just noticing, falling snow! And then he looks down at Leslie, her head now staring out the window at the snow. She looks back at him and lightly laughs (Pawnee hasn’t had snowfall on Christmas day in a couple years), a huge smile spread on her face, and Ben’s never loved her more. The song is tuned up as people begin to flock outside, the cool air barley fazing them as they step into the winter wonderland. It’s not long before Andy and April have started a snowball fight, and nobody (sans Ron) is safe. As Ben watches Katie pound Tom with snowballs (she was caption of all her sport teams, of course), Ben quietly whispers into Leslie’s ear “I can’t wait till next year.”
Without moving her eyes from the fight (priorities!), Leslie gently took Ben’s hand and squeezed it, saying in a silent voice so only they could hear “me either.”
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white