Leslie and Ann lie on the floor of the Parks Department, Leslie humming bits of Lady Marmalade off-key under her breath. Their champagne flutes are ... somewhere. Ann turns her head to the left, and then right, and then left again, just to be sure. Everything is bright and muddled, and she squints looking up at the florescence. "Do you know where the glasses went?"
"Ya Ya Da Da," Leslie half-sings. "Ann."
"Leslie." Ann sort of nods.
Leslie's eyes look blurry, and Ann isn't sure if it's because she's had too much on too little food, or if it's because Leslie has. "We are going to build a park. With our own brains. With our own hands." Leslie shoves her hand in Ann's face, and Ann's eyes cross trying to follow the movement, watching Leslie's fingers wiggle and touch her nose. She laughs, a quiet puff of air like a single giggle. "Independent ladies!" Leslie hollers, curling her hands into fists and throwing them above her head.
There's a crash that sounds very quiet, especially followed by Leslie's scream: "Aaaahhhhh!"
"You found the flutes!" Ann smiles, using her elbows to sit up and look at the scene: the glasses knocked over, one of them broken, pieces scattered, a small puddle of champagne on the linoleum. Her face falls.
"Blood sisters!" Leslie's shoves her fist toward Ann again. There are two small cuts along her first knuckles.
"Ew." Ann grimaces.
Leslie sits up, stares at her knuckles and pouts. "I'm bleeding, Ann. Ann, I'm bleeding." A beat. "You're a doctor!"
Ann blinks, watching a little circle of blood, almost like a mosquito bite, form against Leslie's skin. "Nurse," she corrects.
"Fix me, Ann!" Leslie smiles brightly, her eyes overflowing with it. Ann thinks everything about her is bright and overflowing.
"Okay." Ann nods, trying to clear her head. Champagne always makes her brain a bit more mushy than other alcohol. "Yes." She stands up, wiping her hands against her jeans before holding one out for Leslie. Leslie takes Ann's hand in both of hers, and Ann helps her up, giggling when Leslie stumbles against her and they trip against someone's desk. Leslie mumbles something that sounds like "Stupid Jerry."
They make it to the women's restroom, and Ann shakes her hand until Leslie lets go. She washes her hands thoroughly with soap, counting in her head. She gets distracted briefly when Leslie asks, "How many sexual partners is average for a woman my age to have had? Medically spoken" -- a twist of her frown -- "speaking."
"I'm not a gynecologist, Leslie. I don't normally ask." She smiles a little at Leslie in the bathroom mirror, the bottom of it spotty with dried water. Ann stares, thinking about grabbing a paper towel to wipe it away, but she starts counting to 20 instead, scrubbing the soap already lathered on her hands.
"Right. Right ... what about you, beautiful, majestic Ann?"
"Leslie," Ann says. She goes for serious, but struggles to turn the faucet off with her elbow and just steps aside instead. "Wash your hands with soap."
"To fight inflection," Leslie says, rolling up the sleeves of her sweater and carefully pumping a glob of soap into her palm.
Ann's tongue feels heavy in her mouth, and she thinks the word, carefully hearing it pronounced in her head before she speaks: "Infection."
"I'm not going to get an infection, am I?" Leslie asks, splashing some water as she turns to Ann in alarm.
"No. You're washing hands." Ann nods and stands up straight. She wants Leslie to believe her, wants to come off knowledgeable and professional.
"You're the best nurse in all of Pawnee." Leslie turns back to the sink, sticks her hands under the water for one Mississippi -- Ann counts -- before turning the faucet off. She shakes her hands out and then takes the paper towel Ann offers. She rolls the paper towel into a ball and walks over the trashcan, tossing it in. "Hit the rim!" She laughs. "Touchdown!" For the third time, she throws her hand into Ann's face. "Stitch me up, Doc."
Ann looks at the cuts. They're small and shallow, hardly any blood spilling out. Truthfully, Leslie probably doesn't need a bandage. But Ann asks if she has a first aid kit anyway.
"Are you freaking--? Ann. This is the Parks Department. We get really--" She bends her knees and does half a squat. "We get down and dirty. Of course I have a first aid kit."
Leslie rummages through three desks before she finds a box of Band-Aids. Ann opens one and gently sticks it across her knuckles, stretching it over both scrapes. "There. All fixed."
Ann goes home with Leslie.
It's not the way she expected her Valentine's day to go, but she doesn't want to spend the rest of the night with Mark -- especially when her traitorous traitor brain is caught on Andy dedicating that song to April. And Leslie is sad because she ended things with Justin, and it's an easy out. "Are you sure you're okay?" she asks, sitting on the sofa and pouring two large glasses of wine.
"I'm fine, really," Leslie assures. "Just tired."
There's a sag to her shoulders and a dimness to her eyes that agrees with the statement. "I'm sorry." She hands Leslie the wine. It's the sweetest bottle she has. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"Not really." Leslie shrugs. "We just have ... different personalities."
Ann smiles small. "Okay."
"And I'm not not saying how I feel because he's your friend."
"I know." Ann takes a sip of wine. And then a gulp. And then another.
Leslie arches her eyebrows. "Are you okay?"
"Fine." Ann smiles tightly, and then drinks her glass as fast as she can while Leslie browses her DVD collection.
They're halfway through Mr. Smith Goes to Washington when Ann asks: "What do you think about Andy and April?"
"What?" Leslie does a double take.
Ann worries her bottom lip. She finished Leslie's glass and the bottle, and she only had a few pretzels and a small slice of dry cake at the senior center. Long story short: the wine's gone to her head. "You work at City Hall."
Leslie eyes her suspiciously, reaching out to touch the back of her hand to Ann's head. "Are you sick? Do you have amnesia? What year is it? Should I call 911? Have you been replaced by an Ann clone?"
Ann sighs, and her chest feels tight. She's sad, but Leslie's got concern in the arch of her eyebrows, and her hand has moved to Ann's wrist, soft and warm and comforting. "A little buzzed. No. 2010. Er, biscuits?"
"Oh, thank god, it's you," Leslie says, pulling Ann into a hug. "I knew the real Ann would never forget our secret clone word."
Ann smiles against Leslie's shoulder and stays there until she feels hot all over. "Can't breathe," she mumbles.
"Sorry." Leslie releases her. "Now, because we're the best friends in the whole universe, you have to answer me for real, okay? Are you okay?"
Ann swallows. She picks at a thread on the quilt that Leslie draped over their laps and tries to settle on an answer that won't make sober Ann feel a thousand times more embarrassed than she should. She isn't even sure what exactly she's upset about, and that's the worst part. If she doesn't know why, it means she doesn't know how to fix it. She looks at Leslie: Some hair stuck to her forehead, mouth set in a thin line and gaze focused on Ann, encouraging but not demanding like she often is. Leslie would do too much to fix it.
"Because you're my bestest friend in the whole universe," she says, words just barely slurring, "I'm okay"
"I'm going to hug you again, make sure you can breathe."
Leslie pulls at her arm, and Ann rests her chin on her shoulder this time, closing her eyes and feeling Leslie's hands rub soothing circles into her back like she knows Ann needs it. Leslie smells like stale air freshener and too much perfume, and Ann squeezes her eyes shut until she feels dizzy and nauseous. She falls asleep with her head on Leslie's lap, to the feeling of Leslie's hand carding through her hair and the sound of Paine confessing his guilt to the Senate.
"I'm really, really, really, really, really, really cold." Leslie tries to throw the end of her scarf over her shoulder, but it hits her mouth and she spits, like there's some cotton or wool or whatever-it's-made-of stuck on her tongue.
"It's so freezing," Ann agrees, rubbing her gloved hands together as they stand outside City Hall. Ben left, Ron drove everyone else home but Jerry/Garry, and when Jerry/Garry offered to take them, Ann shook her head and Leslie said, "Nooooo thank you."
Leslie called Ben, and he's on his way over, but she wanted "to feel the warm chilly glow of Christmas weather," so they're locked outside.
"This was a bad idea," Ann says. The wind has gotten stronger since earlier in the evening, and she wipes at her nose. It's snowing, thick fluffy flakes that would look good on film.
"It's okay, I know how to deal with hypothermia."
"We're not going to get naked and huddle together for warmth."
Leslie frowns. "Ann, you sweet, dead snow dove, you don't want to be responsible for my death."
Ann shakes her head, smile itching around her mouth. "We're properly dressed for the weather, and its not even below zero. We'll be fine."
Leslie lets her teeth chatter away, and Ann can't help but laugh. The vibration in her chest eases the chill, and she whacks at Leslie's arm to get her to stop.
"This is the best Christmas I've ever had," Leslie says quietly. She holds her hands out and looks up at the sky, tongue out to catch snowflakes.
It's funny, Ann thinks, Leslie has always had an unstoppable optimism, a belief in herself and the world despite obstacles that would make anyone else take heed. Ann's seen her discouraged -- human, she said once -- but she's still an energetic ball of sunshine, someone who bounces back with fire instead of giving up. She deserves for the world to believe in her the same way she believes in it. "We all believe in you," Ann says. "Pawnee will see."
"Yeah." Leslie spins around. "Pawnee is the bes--" She wobbles, one hand spread over her stomach and the other over her chest. "Oh no."
She runs toward the bushes and Ann follows, reaching Leslie just in time to catch her elbow as she skids to a stop and vomits into the branchless shrubbery. Ann grimaces, pulling Leslie's hat off her head and doing her best to gather her hair into a ponytail at the back of her neck.
Leslie's cheeks are flushed, her eyes are wide and bright, and her laugh, more often than not, is loud, reverberating around the room with the edge of a cackle, unrestrained. She's absolutely sloshed.
"Ann!" Leslie screams into her ear. Ann flinches, but throws an arm around her waist to steady her. "I won!"
"You did good," Ann assures.
"I'm a debate queen!" She turns toward the rest of the room: there's plates and trash on the counter, folding chairs stacked against the walls, and a broken television balanced precariously against the arm of the sofa. Champion's on April's lap, a beer in the hand not petting him. Andy jumps around in front of Donna and Tom, and it reminds Ann of his Rocky impression. Ben's tucked into the corner of the couch, elbow on the arm and head in his hand, eyes drooping as Chris chats his ear off. Ron's cooking bacon, and Ann may not be as drunk as Leslie is, but she could go for a slice.
"You were incredible," Ann agrees.
"Bow to me!" Leslie says, but nobody is paying attention, and Leslie goes to curtsy herself, taking Ann awkwardly with her. "I can win this thing, don't you think?"
"I do." Ann smiles.
Tonight was nuts, and the spin room got her head spinning enough that she's only had half a beer. Between quickly looking up statistics, hearing Chris effortlessly make everything sound positive, and trying to keep Tom from inappropriately comparing the candidates to parts of the female anatomy, Ann hasn't had a lot of time to really think about how she feels about either of them. Or anything. But Leslie is warm against her side, and even though Ann knows she's not part of the Parks team -- and sometimes she feels like an outsider before Leslie sweeps her along -- she knows these people are her friends, detached and colorful objections Ron and April might give won't change that. Not tonight.
"I couldn't have done it without you," Leslie says, still addressing the entire congregation. And then: "Speech, speech, speech!"
Andy joins in first, and then April follows his lead, and then everyone is chanting, and it's approaching 1 A.M., and Ann finds Leslie clearing her throat above the ruckus, extracting herself from Ann's side and pointing to her: "You're up!"
"Me?" Ann frowns. She has not had enough to drink for this.
"You!" Leslie points at her, face serious, leaning in close. "You, Ann. You can do this. You."
"Choke on it!" April calls.
Ann glares. "I guess," she starts, wringing her hands and looking around the room, not quite making eye contact with anyone until she reaches Leslie. "I always knew Leslie could do anything. And I'm proud of her for doing this."
"Aww," Leslie coos, pulling Ann into her. "This is my best friend! Isn't she beautiful?"
Chris says: "She is the most beautiful Ann Perkins, I know," and Tom catcalls.
"I could not have done the thing tonight without her, or tiny, sexy Ben." Leslie winks at him, and he smiles a tired smile back. Leslie's words slur, and almost all of her weight is on Ann now. "I could not have done this tonight without the support from each and every -- all of you. Thank you, and stay fresh Pawnee." A beat. "Tom taught me that."
Everyone claps, and Leslie's grin cracks on her face, tears brimming in her eyes. She's beautiful.
Ann tells her that when they're leaning against the back of the sofa together later, Leslie's eyes closed as she hums "Get On Your Feet." She says: "You're beautiful."
"Pfft, Ann, You're beautiful, too."
She pats Ann's arm a few times, words fading: "Beautiful, beautiful Ann."
Leslie's shoulders relax, and she breathes a sigh, but Ann can't tell if it's relief or nostalgia or accomplishment. The screen on the wall reads 12:00 A.M., and Ann holds up her champagne flute to clink with Leslie's.
"That's it." She smiles, small but real.
"You did it, Madame President." Ann takes a sip of champagne. "How does it feel?"
"Like ... I did everything I ever wanted."
Leslie and Ann lie on the floor of the oval office. Their champagne flutes safely on the table with the empty bottles. Ann's head is fuzzy, and she tugs at her blouse because it's too hot in here. Leslie's quiet. "Hey, now you can travel around the country getting paid ginormous amounts to give speeches," Ann offers, rolling onto her side so she can look at Leslie.
"Yeah." Leslie frowns. "I guess."
Leslie rolls over, too, facing Ann, and she reaches out, grabbing her hand and swinging it. "I don't know." Her brow furrows and her eyes flit around the room. "I like giving speeches. I like inspiring the public people. But I don't want to just ... do that. It's like, ever since I was a kid I had goals. I don't have any anymore." Silence stretches between them, and Ann would really like chicken nuggets, but she doesn't think that's a good segue.
"Ann? Who am I?" Leslie asks.
"You're ... Leslie Knope." Ann squeezes her hand. "You're a wonderful wife, a magnificent mom, and you're a damn good president. You're my best friend, and I can't wait to see what you do next."
Leslie leans in close and whispers against her ear: "What if I want to drink another bottle of champagne and play hide-and-seek on my last night in the White House?"
"Let's do it."