"You look terrible."
Leslie Knope is trying her damnedest to stay in the shade at Pawnee Municipal Pool but let's face it, this town -- Leslie has noted repeatedly in her journal that Pawnee's Parks Department needs someone with a real knack for effective tree placement -- isn't known for shade. Her third shift as a Junior Lifeguard (In Training) at the Pool ended a half hour ago, and judging by the raw feeling creeping across Leslie's shoulders, her SPF 15 decided to retire roughly an hour before that. Her mother is a no-show (Board meetings sometimes run over, Marlene has a habit of repeating when she taps her fingers on the steering wheel, waiting for Leslie to close the car door) and Leslie was following Plan B: Wait at the Pool and Read Your Book (The Magician's Nephew). She looked up.
Another Junior Lifeguard (In Training) stood silhouetted by the sunlight, bright arcs streaming out around her like and angel or an actress in a porn film.
"Thanks, you too?" Leslie answered with what she hoped was the appropriate level of rancor, tugging at her towel. The uniform black one piece, while absolutely reasonable to the city's lifeguard program, wasn't very flattering.
"I'm Ann," said the silhouette. "Are you just going to sit there in the sun like that? Because you're really getting burned, and it won't be safe for you to come back tomorrow like that."
Leslie stuck out her hand and waited, patiently (enjoying the bit of shade that Ann provided) until Ann returned the hand shake. "Leslie Knope," she said. "Pleased to meet you. My mother is coming to pick me up, but I'm afraid she's running late." She smiled, the kind she practiced in the mirror. Leslie Knope. Hope I'll see you at the polls in November!
Ann's shoulders lifted and dropped. "Well you can't stay out here." She stepped to the side, and suddenly, Leslie could see her face.
She was beautiful.
Ann bit at her lip and held her towel up with arms crossed under her chest. "I have aloe at my house. Come over and I'll fix you up, okay? Then you can call your mom so she won't think you were kidnapped." She ducked her head. "I just got my license. My car kinda sucks."
"I'm sure it's perfect."
Leslie -- for once in her life -- didn't say anything as they entered the cool darkness of Ann's front hallway, stopped quickly in the bathroom (Ann handed her the bottle of aloe wordlessly), then ended up in Ann's room. She kicked off her sandals and winced. Everything hurt.
She closed her eyes and opened them, inhaling slowly the muted woody scent of Ann's house. Her room had posters of bands and actors and snapshots of friends taped in clusters. Her bedspread was blue flowers.
"Whoever hired someone as pale as you really needs to get their head checked," Ann said. "Aloe."
Leslie handed over the bottle, groaning as her muscles shifted underneath her skin.
The bottle made an indecent sound as Ann squeezed lotion onto her palm. Leslie looked over her shoulder to catch a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror over Ann's dresser, the redness across her nose already turning into blisters. "I already knew CPR. And the Constitution."
Ann smiled. "Shoo-in."
"I'll be okay tomorrow, right?" Leslie asked, trying not to sigh as Ann applied small globs of aloe onto her back, smoothing them into her skin in small circles.
"With more of this stuff. And a lot more sunscreen." Ann lifted the strap of Leslie's suit and gently, gently wiped aloe onto the skin under it.
Leslie looked over her shoulder again, pleased to see the look of focus on Ann's face. She looked calm, like a cat just before sleep. But the concentration was there, in the smooth movements of her eyes and the firm pressure in her lips.
She was beautiful.
"Would you -- I don't want to presume, but. My mom's pretty busy, and my back's really hard to reach--"
"I'd be happy to slather you up, Leslie Knope."
Leslie released the breath she didn't know she'd been holding and let the aloe sink into her skin.