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We Cannot Start Sinking (Leslie, Mark, Ann) PG - shoutoutout

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August 7th, 2009


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11:53 am - We Cannot Start Sinking (Leslie, Mark, Ann) PG
Title: We Cannot Start Sinking
Author: shoutoutout
Pairing/Character: Leslie, Mark, Ann
Rating: PG
Summary: The way Leslie, Mark, and Ann weave themselves into each other's lives after the season one finale. Title taken from Biomusicology by Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
Word Count: 3157
Spoilers: Rock Show
Disclaimer: I don't own Parks and Recreation or the characters, no copyright infringement is intended



"I think I love him," is what she says when she sees Ann in the doorway, ponytail crooked and bangs messy. "Him, Mark, this guy."

Ann takes the seat beside her, stretches out her neck left and right until a muted pop escapes between two vertebrates, and looks at Leslie. "I think you're still a little bit drunk."

Ann's smiles are like windows, clean glass and summer days, where the light just pours in as soon she she lets it, but Leslie is drunk and Mark has two broken legs all because of her, so the hospital stays dark despite Ann's efforts. "Yeah, I think I am too."

"You know, it's not your fault," she starts, motioning towards Mark, "This isn't your fault."

Mark stirs and Leslie watches, fascinated, before turning back towards Ann. "We shouldn't have even been at the pit."

"Yeah," Ann nods, smiling slowly. "Kind of a stupid idea."

Leslie laughs just once, like that's even possible, before correcting, "His stupid idea. But usually his ideas are so, so right, Ann, like he knows everything, that I just went along with it. I always do."

"Well that must be your problem then, yeah? Always going along with what Mark says?" She leans back, Ann, arms behind her head and stretches again, her body lithe before crumpling back into comfort and God, Leslie is tired. "But then, I guess I'm not one to pass judgement, right? It's weird, but I was having a horrible night before this."

Leslie jerks and looks at her horrified. "And Mark breaking both his legs made it better?"

"Well, no, not really. Not like that," she replies, staring into her lap, playing with the belt loops of her jeans. Quieter then, "But it's nice to be away from Andy sometimes, even if it's just the hospital."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

They let the air go silent. Leslie eyes finally settle on Ann, on the skin right below her ear. Her eyes blur and refocus three times over and she might fall asleep right there, drunk and miserable, staring at Ann's neck.

"But I guess you don't really get that, huh?" Ann continues, like time just skipped over that tiny moment of thin, thin air. "With him, you don't ever just want to not be with him. That would be nice, I think."

Leslie leans forward, runs her finger along the edge of Mark's sheets. His face is soft in sleep, like his cynicism dissipates with dreams, and it almost makes her feel better.

"It would be nice."

--

Ann doesn't get home until 3 in the morning and the entire neighborhood breathes deep with sleep.

She sits in one of the chairs Leslie and Mark had left, stares deep into the pit, her time split between looking at the dirt and looking at the stars. She tries to imagine what they were talking about while she fought with Andy inside, if they laughed about Leslie's date or discussed like, government processes or something. She tries to imagines what she and Leslie would have talked about, probably the same things, more or less, and then wonders why she's thinking about anything at all. Why she can't just sit and be.

She walks away quickly a few minutes later, embarrassed and frightened, when she imagines herself being beaten and mugged out there, left abandoned and broken in the pit, and it's just a little too vivid, a little too real, so she crawls into bed beside Andy and falls asleep hating herself.

--

Mark wakes up with a splitting headache and teeth caked in plaque. Hospitals suck, he thinks, and sighs when he sees his legs propped up in casts.

He wishes he had been drunker, wishes he didn't actually remember everything that happened, the way the earth spun past his eyes, the dirt up his nose, being rejected by Leslie Knope. But as it goes, he remembers everything and it makes him feel scuzzy all over.

Ann walks by his room, in scrubs and carrying folders so he knows she's working. She's busy, he figures, so it's all right that she only checks up on him once.

--

"Well, huh," is what he says when he sees Leslie in the doorway, eyes tired and lips thin.

"How're you feeling?" She asks, resting her head against the door frame.

"Like my legs are broken," and he tries to smile but it's just noon and that seems a bit early.

"I just, I wanted to apologize," and it's sweet, her nervousness, but he doesn't say. "I feel like this is all my fault."

"Oh, c'mon. We were drunk. I was drunk. It's not like I really knew what I was doing. Don't worry about it, Leslie." They're supposed to be comforting, his words, but she looks so uptight in the doorway that he realizes he doesn't understand her, not one bit. "Come sit down."

"What are you going to do?" she asks, inching her way into the room.

He sighs and scratches his head, decides he could really use a shower, and readjusts himself on the bed. "I dunno, actually. Get worker's comp for awhile, maybe buy an Xbox."

She smiles at that, leans against the medical equipment, and gives him a look so full of longing that he wants to just shake her, grab her shoulders and knock some sense into her, shout, "Snap out of it," because it hurts him almost, the looks she gives him.

"How much do you remember?" Leslie fails spectacularly at hiding the emotion in her voice.

"Not much, really," he replies, meaning everything.

Leslie shuffles a bit and her eyes go all big like saucers. He's really glad there are no cameras this morning. "I was just wondering because, well, it was sort of horrible. For me -- I mean, I'm sure it was sort of horrible for you too, actually really horrible, probably more horrible, but -- yeah, you just kind of fell. And I watched."

"Well, I remember thinking that the pit looks a lot deeper from the bottom, that's for sure." Mark smiles but he's pretty sure it looks more like a frown.

"I've got to make some calls, y'know, try and explain to Ron what happened," she starts, and she might as well have just kissed him and shined his shoes, "But I'll be back, Brendanawicz. I'm not giving up on you, not that easily," she punches his shoulder and it's a joke, the way Leslie's said it, but it settles in his stomach and it's like guilt incarnate.

Mark figures he should mention the other events of the night, maybe apologize for the kiss and the subsequent humiliation, but he has two broken legs so he gives himself the gift of keeping his mouth shut and avoiding that conversation altogether.

He doesn't think Leslie minds let alone notices.

--

She doesn't mean to hover but she can't help it when she sees a flash of blonde going into Mark's room. Ann finds a few files to rifle through meaninglessly until she hears, "Oh, hey Ann," against her back.

Leslie looks like she hasn't slept. "Hey, how are you?"

"I'm feeling better, thanks," and her smile -- she wonders how Mark can take it, knowing how Leslie feels about him, when her smile for Mark is probably ten times more than the one she's giving Ann right now. It must make him sick. "You've been checking up on him, right?"

She shouldn't feel this guilty, she really shouldn't, but something dislodges in her horribly as if Leslie just punched her in the throat. Mark is sort of a skeevy but he's Leslie's friend, Ann's friend even, and in that moment the full weight of responsibility falls on her. "Well, he's not my patient and it's been a busy morning but... yeah, I'm checking up on him. Don't worry."

It's almost worth it, Ann decides, for the trust in Leslie's sigh.

"Why don't you come over tonight," she offers and tries to be a good friend because Leslie is clearly hurt about something more than Mark's broken legs. "Andy's going out with his friends to celebrate the show last night. We can watch bad movies or something."

Plans are made halfheartedly and as Leslie walks off, Ann takes a moment to steel herself before heading towards Mark's room.

--

"Leslie."

"Hey, Ron, it's Leslie."

"Yes. What do you want?" She imagines his mustache moving with his words.

"I -- it's sort of hard to say."

"Then you can just say it on Monday. Bye."

"No, wait!" It's hot all of a sudden and Leslie can feel wet spots start in her armpits; she can't remember why she thought it was a good idea to make this call in her unmoving car in the hospital parking lot. "It's Mark, he... had an accident."

"All right?"

"It's all my fault, Ron! We were at the pit and -- and he just fell in! And now his legs are broken -- both legs -- and we don't have a city planner and I'm pretty sure he hates my guts." She should've at least cracked a window.

"Leslie."

"I guess my overall point is... Mark won't be in on Monday."

"That's fine. We'll talk on Monday when we're actually getting paid to talk." Now she imagines just a mustache moving. It makes her feel a little better.

"Hey, Ron?"

"Yes?"

"This pit... I'm not going to get my park. It's always going to be just a pit, isn't it?

There's a pause and she thinks she can hear bacon frying. "I don't know, Leslie."

She starts the car, cranks up the air conditioning, and feels sorry for herself for just a moment. "All right. Thanks, Ron."

--

"I have lots of beer," is what she says when she sees Leslie in her doorway, the sun setting somewhere behind the pit and throwing shadows across her face.

"I'm not a big drinker, Ann. People end up with broken legs when I drink."

"Sure," Ann agrees, ushering Leslie inside, "But I'm only good at Rock Band when I'm drunk and you need to be impressed." Leslie's wearing her Pawnee Parks & Recreation windbreaker which makes a distinct swishing sound and is way too big on her (though she'll never say as much).

Leslie looks around the living room and she's been to Ann's before but there's something new in her eyes that Ann hasn't quite figured out yet. "So Andy's out?" she asks, taking off the windbreaker which now sounds entirely too loud in the quiet of Ann's house.

"Yep."

"I'm still upset I never got to see him play. I bet it was wild." She scrunches up her face and grumbles, "Stupid tête-à-tête."

Ann laughs easily and something about that fact makes her inexplicably happy. "You didn't miss much, really. Now sit," she commands, and Leslie does so almost immediately, accepting an open Heineken even if she wasn't sure about drinking. Taking care of people is Ann's thing, it's what she's actually really, really awesome at, and she's been around long enough to see that Leslie needs someone more than a sub-committee member right now.

If she's honest with herself, Ann probably needs a friend just as much.

They watch Miss Congeniality 2 and even though Leslie hasn't seen the first one, she grins at all the right places and giggles with her fourth beer bottle pressed against her lips. "I've always wanted to go to Vegas," she mumbles, turning towards Ann with slightly glassy eyes. "I bet I'd make a fortune."

"I'm not too sure about that," Ann says, wondering when it was exactly that she memorized Leslie's smile.

"Well, all right. We could be showgirls then. I like Sandra Bullock's hat," she starts, reaching for a handful of popcorn and another beer. Something quick crosses Leslie's face and then she's singing. "Hey sista, gold sistas, remember, Ann? Remember? Giuchie, giuchie, yeah, yeah, dada. Viva las Lady Marmalade!"

Leslie's a fun drunk if nothing else.

When the movie ends, Ann crawls towards the TV, crouching off-balance to plug in the X-Box, a task which feels as complicated as disarming a time-bomb in her slightly drunken state. She shoves a plastic guitar in Leslie's hand and quickly runs through the basics of playing Rock Band before picking a song. Leslie says something goofy like "Kick it!" and it's maybe the most hilarious thing she's ever heard.

Ann's way better than Leslie which is sort of embarrassing because, really, does she not have a life? She feels a sudden and overwhelming need to explain herself. "This is pretty much all Andy did when his legs were still broken... and also the two weeks his legs weren't broken but he still just stayed on the couch." Ann wonders when that will stop making her angry, if she'll ever stop being angry.

"Oh," Leslie says vacantly, eyes squinting at the TV. "Maybe I should buy this for Mark."

Ann's glad she can just focus on little colored bars riding towards her: green, red, yellow, blue, orange. "You don't owe him anything, Leslie."

"I do, though," she nods, "I really need him to not hate me. I sort of just... need him." Leslie's voice is soft and it makes something vile churn in Ann's stomach.

"There are other -- Mark's not the only person --" and she's trying really hard to not let her voice betray anything that will make Leslie upset. It's too much, Ann thinks, how protective she's gotten. It makes her miss several notes in a row.

"Without him... I don't think we're going to get a park. We need him. I need this park."

"Oh," and of course it's about the park, with Leslie's it's always about the park. "We'll get the park, Leslie, don't worry." The word park sounds harsh on Ann's tongue; she's said it too many times.

Her stomach settles but there's still something ominous about Leslie needing the park, something that makes it seem like Leslie is still on the verge of breaking completely. Ann doesn't think she has it in her to work on this issue just yet, especially since it feels good when Leslie laughs and nudges Ann's shoulder so she messes up. It feels like they believe each other.

Andy comes home then, just as drunk as they are, and his eyes light up like a child's when he realizes what they're doing. He ends up playing the drums for them sloppily and, as it turns out, they all really like Rock Band.

--

Andy is so right: Ann's pancakes are awesome.

Leslie tries to tell her as much at the breakfast table but it comes out more like, "Awfum pahcahks, Awn," and Leslie only gets a "chew first," instead of an honored thanks... which is fine because the awesome pancakes are thanks enough.

"Pass the syrup, Les," Andy says and when Ann shoots him a stern look he begrudgingly adds, "Please."

Leslie loves mornings and eating with Ann and Andy feels like family. "Thanks for having me over, you two have a lovely house."

Ann chews bitterly. "You mean I have a lovely house."

"Oh, c'mon, babes," Andy sighs, doing something to Ann's thigh beneath the table. "That was like two days ago!"

They start to talk in strained voices but still, Leslie feels all warm inside like her soul is wearing socks straight from the dryer. She wonders if it's too soon to call themselves The Three Amigos.

It's not until she's outside and seeing the pit so close to Ann's house that she realizes pancakes might fix a lot of things, but they don't fix everything. It's just -- the pit is so deep when she's standing at the edge, deeper than the ground should open up, that's for sure, like it's deeper every time Leslie looks at it.

It makes her stomach hollow when she thinks of Mark.

--

"Here," Ann says, placing a little cups of pills and water in front of him. "You need to take these."

Her voice sounds so distant and Mark wholly regrets hitting on her the other night. "Sorry," and his throat feels dry, "About the other night. I -- that's not me... usually."

She softens with that and her patience is amazing. "It's all right, just don't let that happen again. Really."

"Believe me," and he's being extremely obvious in his attempts to lighten the mood, "When it results in broken legs, I won't."

"OK," Ann says with humorless, quirked eyebrows.

It's apparent both of them are too tired. Mark's tail bone really kills because the angle of the bed is slightly off and it's making everything he thinks tinged with bitterness. He really wants to not be so cynical, so indifferent, and he's trying but it's hard.

"You need to call her or talk to her or something to let her know you don't hate her. She thinks you hate her."

"Oh," and of course she's talking about Leslie. He should defend himself against Ann, she must think he's the worst kind of person ever, but she looks set in thinking he's a scumbag and he can't blame her. "I don't hate her..." he trails off, feeling almost helpless.

"Here." She shoves his cell phone in his hand, going so far as to flip the cover open. "Call her. And make it fast, Brandon will be in for your sponge bath soon. You need to makes this right, Mark."

Ann leaves quickly, like if she's there she'll scare him out of doing it, and he makes a note to try and win back her favor, to make her think he's not such a dog.

He really needs her on his side.

"Hi, Leslie?"

--

"Welcome, sub-committee members!" is what she says when she sees them all in the doorway, Ann expertly managing Mark's wheelchair. Tom and April are right behind them and it makes something wonderful light up in her chest when she sees all their hopeful faces.

Everyone takes a seat and she begins the meeting. "I'd just like to start with a big welcome back, Mark. Mark's back, everyone!" She pauses for applause before, "I'm sure you all know he had a minor accident but he's rallied like a trooper so I'm pleased to announce that we are now the most handi-capable sub-comittee in all of Pawnee government! Represent!" She tries to get the clapping going again. For the cameras, "We've had two guys in wheelchairs now. Take that, Animal Control."

Ann and Mark smile at her and she thinks she might be the luckiest woman in the world right then. Their dedication is inspiring.

"Woo!" Tom shouts and pumps a fist.

"That's the spirit, Tom." When she's president, she's keeping all these people in her cabinet. They're just that awesome. "All right, down to business. Let's talk park."

Because really, she can't wait to get this park.

--


(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:lz1982
Date:August 10th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
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I really liked this--all the subtleties going on beneath the surface.

"We've had two guys in wheelchairs now. Take that, Animal Control."

Hehe.
[User Picture]
From:michellek
Date:September 6th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
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This is great; I especially love the way you write Ann.
[User Picture]
From:adventurepants
Date:September 27th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC)
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I LOVE this.
[User Picture]
From:jessnick05
Date:October 26th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
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I enjoyed this a lot. The character voices are great. Particularly love this Ann, how she sees Leslie (and how she sees herself, actually) and how protective she is of Leslie. And there's some lovely turns of phrase in this but in particular I loved this line: Ann's smiles are like windows, clean glass and summer days, where the light just pours in as soon she she lets it, but Leslie is drunk and Mark has two broken legs all because of her, so the hospital stays dark despite Ann's efforts.

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