Leslie jumped onto her bed, her knees bumping Ben's ribcage. He woke up with a snort. "What? What's happening?" He looked around in a panic until his eyes focused on Leslie. "Oh, good. Andy has these emergency drills sometimes, and I thought—"
"We are facing the worst blizzard Pawnee has had in forty-three years," Leslie announced. "Perd Hapley had a very convincing map. Ben, this is terrifying."
"Leslie, please." Ben scrubbed a hand over his eyes. "I'm from Minnesota. We get snow, like, seven months out of the year."
"And as much as I'd like to spend time appreciating your deep devotion to ice-fishing and wood chippers," Leslie replied, "I think we should go make sure April and Andy and Tom and Ann are properly prepared." She yanked the covers back. "Up and at 'em, Ben."
Ben sat up. "You have snow chains for your car, right?"
Leslie leaned back into the room, a parka already tugged over one arm. "Ben, please."
Thanks to the Ludgates, April and Andy had plenty of toilet paper and canned food, as well as electric heaters and all the blankets and sheets in the house which, Ben noted, were mostly actually his. Tom had an impressive amount of self-heating clothing and a fireplace that fit on his coffee table. Ann, however, was still winterizing her windows when they arrived at her house, just minutes before the worst of the blizzard hit.
"Sweet, baby bunny Ann," Leslie cooed. "Thank goodness we made it here on time."
Ann raised her eyebrows, shaking loose snow off the parkas she'd gathered. "I have been through a few blizzards before, Leslie." She smiled. "But thank you."
"Need help with the windows?" Ben asked. "Or I could check the radiator."
"Actually, I think I'm all set," Ann said. She followed Leslie into the kitchen. "I'm sure everything will be fine."
The lights flickered, flickered, and then went out.
"Well." Ann's voice seemed to echo more in the dark, and it was underscored by the wind howling outside. "Mostly fine."
The power outage only lasted twelve minutes, but it was enough to send Leslie into emergency coordinator mode. Ann handed Ben a mug of coffee and settled next to him on the sofa. "Where'd Leslie go?"
"She's checking your boiler," Ben replied. "And something about your hot water."
Ann grinned. "And you're having coffee?"
"Yeah, well." Ben shrugged, sheepish. "I don't actually know all that much about plumbing."
"Right." Ann set her mug down and leaned against the back of the sofa, and proceeded to explain boilers using disgusting medical metaphors and terminology Ben was pretty sure Ann was making up on the spot.
"I don't know a lot about piping, but I'm pretty sure plumbers don't routinely snake the Uruk-hai." He chuckled as he finished his coffee, setting the mug on the table with a ceramic clink. "But nice try."
Ann snickered, and that's when Leslie appeared, plopping down in the scant space between them. "Ann, are you being adorable again?"
"I am explaining how indoor plumbing works to your adorable boyfriend," Ann replied, and Ben was barely registering the compliment before he realized that Leslie was, yes, planting a very enthusiastic kiss on Ann's lips. On her lips, and Ben blinked three times, and Ann was laughing and shoving at Leslie's shoulder.
"Uh," he managed. "Is that. Um. I know you two are—"
"The two of you," Leslie said, and then she was pulling Ben into a long kiss, and she tasted like coffee and cotton candy.
Ben's watch was snagged in a yarn throw, and he'd lost track of his pants a good while ago, as well as his button-down shirt and one of his socks. His tie, however, was now looped around Ann's neck. Leslie rose from where she was kneeling on the carpet. "This is okay, right?"
"God, Leslie," Ann groaned, "yes, it is way more than—"
"I was asking Ben," Leslie corrected, "but I'm glad that's working for you." She did something, twisting her wrist, that Ben didn't quite see, because Ann's arms bracketed his vision, but the way she jerked against him was amazing. "Ben?"
"What?" He threw his head back, hit it against the back of the sofa a few times to focus. "Sorry, what was the question?"
Leslie curled her other hand in the hem of his undershirt. "This is okay?"
"Yes!" Ben caught a lock of Leslie's hair and smiled at her. She was tousled but radiant, and he loved her. "Absolutely yes."
Leslie turned her face and pressed a kiss against his palm. "I know we've talked about this before, but logistically, it is a little complicated."
Ben looked up at Ann, who nodded, and then back to Leslie. "When did we talk about this?"
"Last week," Leslie said.
"Yeah," Ann chimed in, slightly breathless. "When we went to Mangia's?"
"You had the salmon," Leslie clarified.
Ben frowned. "When you said that you and Ann had a special—"
"Yup," Leslie said.
"And then Ann told me that she didn't mind sharing—"
"Yes," Ann replied.
"God," Ben said. "I thought you guys were doing a thing. Like a routine?"
"Oh," Leslie responded. "Really?"
Ann curved forward and touched her lips to Ben's jaw. "You are so cute."
"We were very clear," Leslie said.
"This is," Ben gasped, "a very strange conversation."
Ann rose again. "You get used to it."
Leslie giggled, and Ben nodded. "Yeah."
The blizzard lasted for four hours before it tapered off into regular, heavy snowfall. When Ben opened the door, a knee-high snowbank fell inside. "Okay, that's a lot of snow."
"Told you," Leslie murmured sleepily, emerging from a pile of quilts and clothing. "Forty-three years."
"I will never doubt you or Perd again," Ben said, grunting as he shoved the door shut again. "We'll probably be stuck inside for a while."
Ann rubbed her arms as she returned from the kitchen. "Leslie, I think I'm out of marshmallows."
Leslie sat up straight. "Ben, put some pants on."
"Let me guess," Ben said, "you've got snowshoes in your trunk?"
"Better," Leslie said.
"She has an emergency cocoa kit," Ann clarified, and Ben ducked as Leslie tossed her car keys at him.