His stomach growls so loudly that he gets Leslie’s attention from across the room. She pauses in the middle of reorganizing her idea binders and says, “Everything okay?” The light from the window makes her yellow hair glow gold, and Ben secretly wishes, not for the first time in so many weeks, that Chris would move back to Indianapolis and take with him his rules, his matchmaking, and okay, the vegetable loaf, too, because no amount of sauce, salt, or ketchup can stop it from tasting like a pile of wet twigs.
“Sorry,” Ben mumbles, and he can feel his face reddening. “It’s nothing. I just skipped breakfast this morning because . . . there was no food. April and Andy decided to see if they could use the refrigerator door as a sled.”
Leslie tosses a yellow binder from hand to hand and then stops. She cocks her head and says, her nose scrunched up in confusion, “But it’s May?” He bites his lip to stop from grinning because this is the questions she asks, not, "Why would you use a refrigerator door as a sled?" Ben's beginning to understand why Andy thinks everything April does is cute, even when cute means eating off Frisbees or piling Tupperware under blankets because that means there are fewer dishes to wash.
“They’re planning in advance so that it’ll be ready for winter. You know, in case they have to do a redesign. Needless to say, after Andy pried off the door all the food went bad.”
“Wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier to wait for winter and just buy a sled?”
He laughs and is glad again that he stayed in Pawnee, that he had a reason to stop roaming, even if it was just for a little while. “You’d think that, wouldn’t you?” he says, and when she smiles at him, they say in unison, “But they didn’t think that.”
“Well here,” she says, digging into her bag and pulling out a bouquet of pens wrapped in a green rubber band and a fistful or receipts from J.J's before declaring, “Ah ha!” and handing him three brightly colored Easter eggs. Only Leslie Knope, he thinks, and it’s about the nicest thought he thinks he could possibly have today.
“Is this for a snack or for a hunt?” he says dryly, waiting for her to say in her bright voice, “for a snack, silly!”
Instead she hops onto her desk and says, “Come here,” patting the empty spot next to her. Ben’s not going to argue. He’ll take any excuse to get closer to her, especially if it looks innocent as this.
They sit together and pretend that they don’t know that their legs are touching, and as he’s just about to pop an egg into his mouth with his now-blue-stained hand, he says, “Wait, wasn’t Easter a week ago?” If his stomach is growling now he doesn’t want to know what it might do if it gives himself food poisoning.
She saves the day, though, as she seems to do all the time. “Actually, I just made those last night.” Leslie shrugs, not at all self-consciously, which Ben has discovered he really likes. Like, really, really likes. So much so that he’s not sure what to do with himself when he’s around her. “I really like dyeing Easter eggs, and they were selling the dyeing kits for 50% off at Food and Stuff.”
“It sounds like a fun way to spend a night,” and he’s not joking or making fun, and she seems to understand this.
“You should come over next time I’m dyeing eggs,” she says.
“I will,” he says, as Tom walks into the room and yells, “You two just need to make out and get it over with” before tossing into a chair the knock-off Fendi sunglasses he bought that time he dragged Ben to the mall for a new suit.
And Ben thinks, we should--he and Leslie--one day, and imagines his hands in her hair and her fingers pressed into his back, reds and blues and yellows inking their skin.