?

Log in

No account? Create an account
do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Parks and Recreation fic: The Best Campout Ever 2/2

December 27th, 2014 (09:38 am)
rejected

feeling: rejected

Split for LJ. Part one is here.



-o-

This is Leslie’s meeting, but Ann is the one with actual triage experience. Although Leslie hates to give up control, she knows there is no one better to trust in this situation than Ann Perkins.

Beautiful, capable, medically savvy Ann Perkins. If only her brainstorming skills could match her medical prowess.

But that’s not the point.

No, the point is Andy.

He’s in a sitting position now, but when Ann goes to kneel next to him, Leslie notice he looks worse than before. There’s a visible sheen of sweat on his face, and he’s almost colorless with dull, glassy eyes.

The sweat and the eyes, might seem normal. But the colorlessness, well, that’s clearly an issue.

“Okay, Andy,” Ann says. “We’re going to take care of you.”

Andy’s head lolls, and he looks at Ann hopefully. “More marshmallows?”

“Um, no,” Ann says. “We’re going to the hospital.”

Andy appears crestfallen. “But I really want marshmallows.”

“You ate them all,” Tom reminds him.

“No, he ate half of them,” April says. “I hid the other half in a safe location.”

“And it’s not really relevant,” Ann says. “We really do need to get to the hospital.”

Andy shrugs, lumbering to push himself up. “Okay--”

There’s a collective gasp, and Leslie is moving forward to stop the inevitable disaster, but Ann and April are on the same page for once. They both reach out, steadying Andy and holding him down. Despite the fact that Andy is much larger, he can’t put up much fight.

Instead, he seems to deflate. “I think marshmallows is a better plan,” he says, clearly winded now.

April leans closer to him protectively. “What’s wrong with him?”

Ann hesitates, looking from April to Andy to the rest of them. “I think he could have appendicitis.”

Andy makes a dismissive noise. “Well, that’s nothing,” he says. “I heard you totally don’t need those things.”

“Yes,” Ann says slowly. “But yours is probably inflamed. If it’s not taken out, you could die.”

Andy sobers, eyes widening almost comically. “I’m going to die?”

Ann quickly realizes her mistake. “No, I didn’t say that--”

Andy turns his wide eyed shock to April. “I’m going to die?”


April countenance is decidedly stricken. She looks at Ann, a mix of horror and anger. “Is he going to die?”

Ann shakes her head rapidly. “No, no, that’s -- not what I said,” she says, but she’s faltering, badly. Ann, the beautiful wair. She doesn’t know her own power. “We just need to go.” She looks back to the rest of them guiltily. “As soon as possible.”

This is spoken calmly and reasonable.

Andy takes a hitching breath. “Because I’m going to die!”

April has gone white as well, and she fumbles to unzip her backpack. She opens it widely, pulling out a can opener and a pack of hot dogs. “I’ve got the supplies!”

Everyone looks at her.

Leslie sees all five can openers and, inexplicably, Ben’s tent pegs.

Which at least explains why Ben can’t pitch a tent.

This is somewhat of a relief.

Except, this is no time for relief.

“Damn, girl,” Donna says. “Did you steal my air pump?”

April shrugs, glancing nervously back toward Andy. “What?” she asks. “I was preparing for disaster. And look! Disaster!”

From the ground, Andy looks up at her fondly. “That’s my wife,” he says, and his words are noticeably slurring now and his coordination is poor. When he reaches for April’s hand, it settles on her boob.

Then again, that might be purposeful.

Then he reaches for the open bag. “Oooh, look,” he says. “Marshmallows!”

“No,” Ann says shortly, moving the bag out of his reach. She looks up to Leslie. “We need to get him out of here. Now.”

Ann’s looking at Leslie.

Tom and Donna and Ron and Ben and Chris and even Jerry are looking at Leslie.

April is looking at Leslie.

God help her, even Andy, with his feverish, vulnerable, pathetic puppy dog eyes, is looking at Leslie.

This is her campout.

She’s in charge.

Damn it, this is her time to shine. To show her team how it’s done. To validate her power as a woman in a position of authority. To prove her worth, to herself, to her team, to all mankind.

And to help Andy.

Mostly to help Andy.

Swallowing, she nods stiffly. “Okay,” she says, rubbing her hands together. “Let’s do this.”

-o-

It requires all of them.

Leslie takes point, but honestly, her team is pretty good at anticipating her instructions. Donna volunteers to find her friend the park ranger, to help direct an ambulance through the park access roads. Ron sets about making a stretcher from a sleeping bag and two large branches, and Tom is strangely helpful while distraction Andy through the worst of the pain.

Chris and Ben help move Andy to the stretcher, and with Ann’s careful directions, they pick Andy up and start back. Ron, naturally, goes ahead to clear a path of any major debris, because they all agree that the last thing Andy needs is to fall off the stretcher and exacerbate his condition. Jerry, for what it’s worth, stays behind to clean up the campsite, and Leslie makes a mental note to send someone back later to clean up whatever Jerry tries to clean up so things are actually cleaned up.

Ann walks by the stretcher, checking Andy’s vitals every bit or so. April clings close to Ann, and even though she’s insulting and condescending the entire time, she’s also the one asking Ann to check Andy every five minutes, just to be sure.

For his part, Andy doesn’t complain. Leslie is not certain if this is because Andy is cool and calm and collected or if he has no idea what’s going on. With Andy, it’s hard to tell, and Ann has guessed his fever to be over 104, so there’s even more reason to be suspect than normal. But then, he also asks continually for marshmallows, which should indicate that he’s at least aware of where they are and what they’re supposed to be doing.

Except no, Andy probably could just as easily have delusions about marshmallows on a regular basis. That means nothing.

Either way, they’re getting him out of here.

Everything is going to be okay.

Taking up the rear, Leslie looks back. Ben’s tent still isn’t upright, and Tom’s phone is still missing. Donna’s air mattress is waiting, and Ron’s fishing pole is ready to go. Chris has a full bag of supplements, and Ann has her beautiful and well intentioned notebook ready for work. April and Andy have their half-ripped tent, filled with everyone else’s supplies, and Jerry--

Well, who knows what Jerry’s got.

Leslie’s easel still stands, empty and waiting.

It’s hard to walk away.

She had plans; she had goals. This had never been a vacation for her; it had never been a superfluous chore or an indulgent getaway. She’d had the whole thing figured out, and it wasn’t supposed to be like this. This whole mess is going to put her behind schedule. More than that, the debacle is going to put the entire parks department at a standstill when they should be surging forward.

It feels a little bit like failure, Leslie can’t and won’t deny it.

That’s when Ann pulls their caravan to a stop, going to her knees next to the stretcher. “Andy?” she asks, a little louder now. She reaches out, squeezing his shoulder. “Andy?”

On the stretcher, Andy doesn’t move. Leslie, eyes fixed ahead now, closes the gap in a few short paces, and she sees that Andy’s eyes are close, his face almost translucent.

“Andy?” April asks, leaning nervously over Ann’s shoulder. “Andy!”

Ann reaches down, taking his pulse. She waits a few moments, then swallows and nods. “He’s just passed out,” she says, chewing her lip uncertainly. “Probably just the fever.”

“So he’s okay?” April asks, more than a little anxious. “He’s okay, right?”

Ann gets to her feet, eyes meeting Leslie’s. “We really should move it.”

Most of the time, Leslie’s not much for understatement. In actuality, she’s just not very good at it, because every time she tries it, she has the undeniable impulse to further clarify herself to make her point even clearer. After all, if you can say something forcefully, why bother saying it less so? Impact is everything; bam, bam, bam, right in the face.

But she has to admit, this instance is unsettlingly effective. There’s a strange, tense silence, and it’s Leslie move.

“You heard the nurse!” she announces, waving her arms forward. “Move, move, move!”

No one objects; no one complains.

Because Leslie knows that some failures are going to happen. Some are acceptable; some can even make you better.

Leslie keeps her eyes on the stretcher.

Some failures, maybe.

Not all of them, though.

-o-

Their trip to the campsite took over an hour. A painful, awkward, uncomfortable hour.

The way back, they make it in twenty minutes. An efficient, well paced, streamlined hour.

The ambulance is waiting, and Donna is there with her park ranger in an entirely platonic way. Tom’s pants are dirty, and Ron has been without food for hours. Ben and Chris work the stretcher together effortlessly, and April and Ann get into the ambulance almost in tandem. Jerry’s not there, which is about the greatest gift he could ever give any of them.

And Andy -- well, he’s still alive, so Leslie will take that.

Her team.

That’s what makes them special.

Frankly, that’s what makes them Leslie’s team.

-o-

After the ambulance leaves, Leslie can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

Sure, the swell of pride she feels for saving Andy’s life is not without its merits, but even so, she’d had an night planned for brainstorming, team bonding and personal growth.

Sighing, she looks back up the trail.

Ron comes up close. “I’ll head back,” he says. “And clean up whatever Jerry has tried to clean up.”

Donna saunters beside them. “Derek here says we can use his ATV,” she says.

Leslie raises her eyebrows. “Derek?”

“Ranger Wilkins, if you must,” she says, waggling her eyebrows suggestively. “But when this is all said and done, it’s all Derek to me.”

“I can start running and be there in literally five minutes,” Chris says. “Get a head start.”

“And hey,” Ben says with a nerdy, endearing, attractive smile. “Taking down a tent is probably easier than pitching one, right?”

Tom sighs in melodramatic fashion. “Fine, I’ll go back, too,” he says, as though it is the most off putting thing in the world. “But only because my phone is still there. I know you all say it’s gone, but I can feel it, calling to me. I can’t abandon my baby.”

Leslie smiles, because all the failures of the evening aside, it feels good to still have her team next to her. “We can get it picked up in no time,” she agrees, letting her optimism buoy her spirits.

“Leslie,” Ron says. “That is true for us. You, on the other hand--”

“Hey,” Leslie says. “This is my campout.”

Ron smiles fondly in the way that only Ron can. “This has never been about a campout,” he tells her. “You know where you belong.”

Ben pecks her on the cheek. “I’ll see you at the hospital in the morning.”

It’s not how it usually goes, for her to be the last one to understand things. It’s not just her campout. More important, it’s her team. If Leslie has learned anything about her time in a position of power, it’s that she has to do the things that matter most and sometimes, just sometimes, she has to delegate.

That’s hard for her -- okay, it’s almost impossible, and it goes against every instinct she’s ever had -- but this is Ron and Donna and Tom and Chris and Ben.

Not Jerry, though. God only knows what he’s doing at the campsite right now.

If she can’t trust them, who can she trust?

(Besides Joe Biden and Michelle Obama and several other select people, but that’s not the point. Not really, anyway.)

“Yeah,” Leslie says with a decisive nod. “Okay.”

They start off, and Leslie stands idly.

“Thanks,” she calls after them.

This is the right decision, and she knows it. She still feels disappointed, of course, but that’s only to be expected. She’s Leslie Knope, after all, and this is another failed Parks Department Campout. It’s not easy to see her dreams go up in smoke, and it’s even harder when they don’t even get the chance to do that.

Literally, they had barely had the campfire going. So there’s hardly enough smoke to support the metaphor, and honestly, that’s disappointing, too.

But somehow, even with all this, she feels a little proud, too.

-o-

At the hospital, it’s not hard to find Ann.

Because Ann is her platonic soul mate, her best friend. Ann Perkins is the most magnificent creature on the Earth. All the elements are drawn to her in a spectacular fashion that Leslie will never fully comprehend but always, always appreciate.

That, and she’s in the waiting room.

“Hey!” Leslie says, hurrying toward her. “How is he?”

Ann smiles tiredly. “He’s in surgery,” she says.

Her heart clenches in her chest. “Oh my God!” Leslie exclaims.

“They red lined him up there, because he had perforated,” Ann explains.

“That’s bad,” Leslie says. “That’s really bad, right?”

“Well, it’s not great,” Ann says. “But we got him here fast, and he’s already on a broad spectrum of antibiotics. And, I mean, they do this surgery all the time. Recovery might be a little longer because of the infection, but people don’t generally die from an appendectomy. He should really be fine.”

“Really?” Leslie asks. “They’re not just saying that? Because sometimes doctors say that, and then everything goes wrong--”

Ann shakes her head. “I really think he’s going to be fine.”

Leslie looks at Ann. She inhales. Then exhales. “I’m so glad you were there.”

“Well,” Ann says. “Where else would I be?”

“It’s just so weird, when you think about it,” Leslie says. “All those years ago, you and I had never met. You never knew anything about the parks department, and you were still in your grunge phase with Andy.”

“And now I’m an employee who somehow hangs out with my ex and his much younger wife,” Ann concludes with a frown. “That is weird.”

“No,” Leslie corrects, despite the fact that it was her idea in the first place. “It’s perfect. It’s meant to be.”

Ann’s lips turn up in a smile. “Well, when you put it like that.”

“I do,” Leslie says. “Emphatically.”

Ann hesitates awkwardly. “Yeah, I know,” she says. Sighing, she tucks her hair behind her ear. “Look, are you staying?”

“Me?” Leslie asks. “Yeah, I -- I guess I am.”

“I may go see if I can pull an overtime shift while I’m here,” Ann says. “That’s the best way to get the fast track on the OR progress.”

“Oh, okay,” Leslie says. “I’ll just...wait here--”

“April’s at the desk, filling out paperwork,” Ann says with a nod in the other direction. “I offered to help, but--”

Leslie understands. “I got this one.”

“Yeah, I know,” Ann says.

“Thanks,” Leslie says. “For everything.”

“It’s nothing,” Ann says. “Just another annual Parks Department Campout.”

Leslie chuckles.

Then stops. “You were right,” she admits sheepishly. “They really are horrible.”

“They are eventful,” Ann says.

“I plan team building disasters,” Leslie realizes.

Ann squeezes her forearm affectionately. “It’s not all bad.”

“Really?” Leslie asks hopefully.

Ann shrugs. “We do keep showing up, don’t we?” she says. “That’s kind of the whole point.”

Leslie watches her go, considering that.

They do show up.

Year after year, no matter what she plans, her team shows up

She has to beg, threaten, coerce, drag and bribe.

But they do show up when it counts.

And she knows they always will.

-o-

It’s also not hard to find April.

April is not her platonic soul mate, and she’s not Leslie’s best friend. April Ludgate Dwyer is not the most magnificent creature on Earth, though she would probably claim to be the most fearsome creature in the outer gates of hell, if she could. And truth be told, the elements are downright terrified of her and with very, very good reasons.

But she is making something of a scene at the desk, which certainly narrows it down a little bit.

“I don’t know, what’s your social security number?” April says. “Maybe I should personally terrorize you during the hardest moment of your life and see how you like it?”

The woman behind the desk balks and is probably about to call security, when Leslie swoops in. “Hey, hey, hey,” she says, glancing at the woman with a winning before settling her eyes on April. “Everything okay?”

April shrugs one shoulder and doesn’t quite meet Leslie’s eyes as she slumps back dejectedly. “She’s trying to torture me with inane details instead of letting me check on my husband.”

Leslie looks to the woman.

The woman gives a long suffering sigh, which in Leslie’s opinion, is overdone. “It’s standard admittance paperwork--”

“You’re a witch,” April hisses. “You probably pick off every fifth patient to sacrifice to your own voracious appetite.”

The woman gapes. “Well, I never--”

“Look, can we work on this in the waiting room?” Leslie asks, nodding to the papers. She looks from the woman to April with a smile that entire belies the threats. “Maybe use a clipboard and sit in some uncomfortable chairs? Can we? I do love filling out paperwork in uncomfortable chairs.”

April flounces back in her chair.

The woman purses her lips primly. “Just make sure it’s complete.”

“Yeah, of course,” Leslie says, picking up the papers.

April sulks as she gets to her feet. “You’re still a witch,” she mutters as she leaves.

Leslie tries to smile apologetically. “Long night.”

“It’s a long night for everyone,” the woman replies.

“Not for witches!” April calls back. “You flourish the dark!”

Leslie keeps smiling, but turns and follows as April slumps her way to a chair and sits down. Sitting down next to her, Leslie looks at the half complete form. “Okay, this isn’t so bad,” she says, scanning the information. “I can fill out most of this for you.”

“You’ll need my social security number,” April mumbles.

“Nope,” Leslie says, printing the letters neatly. “See, there?”

April makes a face. “Why do you know my social security number?”

“It’s on your application and all your tax forms,” Leslie says. “I have them all memorized, though I promise you, it’s just a matter of habit. I would never dream of using your identities.”

April slumps further in her chair. “Whatever.”

Leslie keeps filling out the form. “They sure do ask a lot of questions on these things,” she says with forced levity. “Good thing I know your insurance number, too.”

April doesn’t reply.

“Although you may have to help me with Andy’s medical history,” Leslie notes, flipping to the next page. “Because this stuff is all related to parents and grandparents, and I could probably go on generation back, but two--”

She stops when she realizes April isn’t responding. She expects a glare, but April isn’t glaring. April’s face may be stony, but her eyes are wet. She’s slouched but rigid.

This isn’t a joke. There is no punchline. They have a lot of fun at the office, mostly at the expense of one another, but there’s more to them than that.

So, so much more.

“Oh, April,” Leslie says, putting the clipboard aside. “He’s going to be okay. You know that, right?”

“That’s what Ann said,” April admits, and her voice sounds pinched. She blinks rapidly, reaching up to wipe away a tear. “God, I hate Ann.”

“That’s fine,” Leslie says gently. “But she’s a good nurse. She knows what she’s talking about.”

April wipes away another tear. “It’s just Andy--” Her voice cracks, and she can’t finish.

Leslie sighs, putting an arm around April and drawing her close. “I know,” she says.

April nods, breathing heavily for a moment. “Just...don’t leave, okay?”

Leslie squeezes her a little tighter. “I’m not going anywhere.”

-o-

Leslie finishes the paperwork and turns it in, and she gives a little glare to the woman at the desk just for spite.

No one terrorizes the parks department.

Except the parks department.

And their significant others.

And okay, anyone can terrorize them, that’s sort of how public office works. But that doesn’t mean that Leslie won’t exact revenge in an appropriate and governmentally acceptable way.

Such as a vicious glare.

With that deed done, she settles back down next to April and offers to call her family or Andy’s. April declines, though, and Leslie decides not to push the matter. April and Andy have supportive families -- Leslie knows this, no matter how much April tries to hide it -- but the two of them have found a special kind of balance. They deal with things in their own way, and Leslie has come to respect that.

It’s taken years, but she’s come to respect that.

She checks her phone periodically, receiving updates from Ben and Tom and then Ben again, who tells her that he loves her, which isn’t so much an update but it’s exactly what Leslie needs to hear.

Next to her, April sits with her legs pulled against her chest, her face drawn expressionlessly. Some might think it indifference, but Leslie knows better.

They talk a little, about Champion and about work and about Mouserat, just because. Leslie is tempted to tell her about some of her latest plans at the office, but it doesn’t seem like the time or place. April may be a captive audience for once, but not for the right reasons. Leslie is driven and obsessive and probably compulsive, but she’s not cruel.

Mostly they just sit.

It’s a little hard on Leslie, because she’s used to being active. It’s not her thing, to sit by and do nothing. In her mind, she goes over a few dozen things she needs to do and another several dozen that she wants to do. She thinks about how far behind she is, about how hard she’ll have to work to catch up on things. She thinks about making muffins and writing emails and making checklists.

But she looks at April, and knows that sometimes doing nothing is the most important thing of all.

-o-

It’s Ann who finds them, sometime after two AM. April is drowsy, but Leslie is awake and creating a to do list on her phone while switching back and forth to the latest version of Candy Crush.

“Hey!” Leslie says, nudging April gently.

The younger women comes awake instantly, blinking up at Ann. “Did you kill him?” she accuses.

Ann smiles back. By now, they’re all pretty good with April-speak. “He’s out of surgery now,” she replies. “He did great.”

“So he’s going to be okay?” Leslie asks hopefully as she gets to her feet.

“Well, he’s got an infection, but it looks like they’ve got it under control,” Ann says. “They’ll keep him here a few days to monitor things, but he’s doing better than they expected.”

“So you didn’t kill him?” April asks, less accusing now and just more tired.

“No,” Ann says.

“But not for a lack of trying,” April mutters as she gets up, too.

“If you like, you can see him,” Ann offers. “He’s getting settled in recovery, and I can probably sneak you up there.”

“Whatever,” April says. She tucks her hair behind her ear. Then she sighs, moving forward in a jerky motion to give Ann a hug.

Ann looks surprised, but hugs back.

April reaches out her arm and pulls in Leslie.

It’s the strangest, most awkward hug Leslie has been involved with in quite some time.

It’s also, she decides, probably among the best.

-o-

Ann works her magic, and April gets to stay with Andy. Ann says she’ll just stay on for a while to pick up some more overtime. Leslie texts everyone the good news, and finds herself without anything to do.

That’s ridiculous, though.

Leslie always has something to do.

Given the poor outcome of their planning sessions, she has more to do than ever.

She gets herself a cup of coffee and texts Ben that she’ll meet him at the hospital in the morning. Ben offers to help her, but she tells him there’s no reason.

This is her disaster.

It’s up to her to fix it.

-o-

The next morning, she’s the first to arrive back at the hospital. Ann looks tired, and she’s finishing up her shift. She looks surprised to see Leslie.

“Did you even sleep?” she asks.

“No, of course not,” Leslie says. “But neither did you.”

“I took a two hour nap in the lounge,” Ann says.

“Oh,” is Leslie’s reply. “I drank two pots of coffee and ate three muffins.” She lifts up the box. “Want one?”

Ann looks at Leslie, then at the muffins. “That’s not healthy, you know that, right?”

“Eh,” Leslie says as Ann takes a muffin anyway. “I was counting on staying up anyway, so it wasn’t anything.”

Ann shrugs, taking a bite. “But what did you do?”

“Well, I made the muffins to start,” Leslie says. “Not so easy to do since I technically had to break into the cafeteria to use the oven, but I did prevail.”

“Um,” Ann says. “Okay.”

“And while they were baking, I spent some time organizing the goals I had intended for the campout and reorganized them so I could tackle them this week,” Leslie explains at a full clip. “Granted, the activities work better with groups, but I created a schedule of one on ones and small groups that I think I can fit in throughout the week to achieve a similar effect.”

“You really are serious about your brainstorming, aren’t you?” Ann asks, chewing around her muffin.

“It’s not just the ideas,” Leslie says. “It’s about connecting with the team. That’s what makes the campout so important. We lost out on our team time.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” Ann says, eating the last of the muffin. She looks at the bag in Leslie’s hand. “What’s that?”

“Oh!” Leslie says, beaming now as she pulls out the items. “That’s just a few things I picked up for Andy. There’s a scrapbook of his greatest City Hall moments. It was a little rushed, but apparently April steals my phone on a semi regular basis, and most of her photos are of Andy or fat pigeons trying to fly. So I had a good selection to pick from -- of Andy. I didn’t use any of the fat pigeons.”

Ann looks vaguely uncertain what to say.

Leslie picks up the other item in the bag. “And I bought a stuffed mouse with a guitar.”

“How did you even find that?” Ann asks, this time appearing somewhat impressed.

“Oh, the gift shop,” Leslie says.

Ann tilts her head. “The gift shop doesn’t sell stuffed mice with guitars.”

“No, but they sell stuffed mice,” Leslie says. “And I had ordered a selection of plastic guitars off eBay a few months ago. It took me some time to figure out how to attach the two, but I think the result was definitely worthwhile.”

Ann looks like she wants to ask another question -- probably something inane about why anyone would buy overstock of small plastic guitars -- but ultimately decides against it.

Leslie puts the items away. “So how is Andy?” she asks.

“He’s good,” Ann says. “He woke up a few times, and he’s coherent. He’s got a fever, but it’s only moderate now. The doctor is really optimistic.”

“That’s great!” Leslie says. “Can I see him?”

“Yeah,” Ann says. “He’s in room 204, just down the hall. April is passed out in there, so you may want to be pretty quiet.”

Leslie grins, picking up the mouse again. “You know me,” she jokes, making the thing do a little dance. “Quiet as a mouse.”

-o-

It’s actually not hard to find room 204. In her time at the parks department, many members of the team have found themselves on this floor. Jerry, when he fell into the lake and told everyone he’d been mugged. Ron, when he’d had a hernia. Chris and April, both with the flu. Even Leslie had been in that very room with the flu on one occasion. And Andy, well -- falling into the pit several times had only been the start of his accident prone nature.

It’s a bit of a miracle, she supposes, that nothing more serious has happened. Her team is amazing and awesome and she loves them, but they are sort of a disaster waiting to happen. It strikes her that her ability to keep them on track at all is actually pretty impressive, all factors being considered.

She knocks softly on the door, and then lets herself in. Like Ann said, April is passed out in a chair. Andy, however, is staring at the ceiling. As she approaches, he turns his head, face lighting up with a smile. “Leslie!” he says.

“Hey, Andy,” she says quietly, coming closer. “You look better.”

That much is true. He does look better. He’s still pale, but his skin is no longer eerily translucent. And he’s not sweating as much anymore, and there is no hint of pain.

“Dude, I feel better,” Andy says, very seriously. He motions to the IV. “Whatever they’ve got in that thing, it’s amazing.

Leslie chuckles. “Well, given that you had emergency surgery, I think you deserve it,” she says.

“It’s totally worth emergency surgery,” Andy says. “I mean, it’s like I’m floating. Did I mention that it’s amazing?”

“Uh, yeah,” Leslie says. “You did.”

Andy shakes his head, as if in awe. “I wonder what other organs I can rupture to stay on this stuff,” he says. “Kidneys aren’t so important right? I can do without a kidney?”

“No, Andy,” Leslie says. “No more ruptured organs, please.”

“Yeah,” he says, sounding somewhat disappointed. “I guess maybe it’s not worth it. They keep waking me up every hour or so and it’s so annoying.”

“Well, and you did almost die at the campout,” Leslie reminds him.

“Riiiight,” he says, eyes going wide in concern. “I totally messed up your campout out, didn’t I?”

“Oh, no,” Leslie says quickly. “You didn’t.”

“Yeah, I did,” Andy says in self deprecation. “Aw man. I puked all over the place, and then I passed out. We didn’t even get any work done.”

“Well, no,” Leslie concedes. “But there are more important things.”

Andy’s face contorts. “Damn it,” he says, growing agitated. “I screwed everything up again!”

“Andy, it’s not your fault,” Leslie says. “Your appendix ruptured.”

“I know,” Andy says. “And it hurt, like, a lot. And there were dancing marshmallow people. Were there dancing marshmallow people?”

Leslie frowns. “No, I don’t think so.”

Andy looks crestfallen. “Man, I wanted that part to be real,” he says.

“Well,” Leslie consoles awkwardly. “Maybe next time.”

Andy’s face breaks into a grin. “We should totally put that on the schedule for next year,” he says. Then his face brightens. “Hey, we should have another campout right now!”

Leslie laughs indulgently. “Somehow I don’t think your doctor would like us pitching tents and starting fires.”

Andy considers this. “Good call,” he says. “But we could just eat marshmallows and brainstorm. Isn’t that what the campout is all about anyway? All of us together in one place?”

It’s Leslie’s turn to consider this.

“And besides,” Andy says. “I have the best drugs.

“You know what, Andy,” Leslie says. “You’re a genius.”

Andy truly beams. “I may have lost my appendix,” he says, tapping his head. “But I didn’t lose my brain.” He pauses. “At least, I think so. I should probably ask next time they come in.”

Leslie tilts her head but decides not to comment.

“Hey,” Andy says. “Do you want to see my scar? It’s totally gross with the stitches--”

He’s lifting up his shirt, and Leslie shakes her head quickly. “No, no, Andy, really--”

Unfortunately, Leslie is too late to stop him.

But it’s not too late to salvage her campout once and for all.

-o-

It takes some work, but she’s Leslie Knope. She’s capable of the impossible.

Well, not technically, but pretty close. The impossible is, frankly, impossible, so no, Leslie can’t do the impossible. But Leslie has pulled off her share of impressive feats before, so she’s definitely capable of the difficult.

That just doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.

All that aside, she has to gather her supplies. She texts her entire team and tells them to meet her in Andy’s room that afternoon in no uncertain terms. She checks with Ann regarding hospital policy, and makes sure that Andy is indeed on his way to recovery.

It all works out.

Of course, for Leslie, it usually does.

-o-

When everyone arrives, Leslie is ready to go. Andy is awake and upbeat. April is marginally better rested and no longer wants to kill everyone. Leslie has a small fake campfire in the corner, and there’s a platter of hot dogs and marshmallows on a tray behind the curtain.

They had originally been next to the bed, but Andy kept trying to eat them, which Ann had said was a very bad idea.

It’s a bit of a tight fight, but it’s a slow day at the hospital and Andy doesn’t have a roommate. They pull in extra chairs, and sit on the extra bed, and Leslie stands next to her easel with a smile.

“Thank you all for coming,” she says. “I know it’s been a crazy day, but I feel like taking the time for us to come together is important.”

“I’m not at the office,” Ron says. “I won’t complain.”

“I’m fond of male nurses,” Donna adds.

“And I think most of us were going to visit Andy anyway,” Ben says.

“And I was already here, so it was nothing,” Andy says.

“Yes, well,” Leslie says. “We’re glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re all here. I know the campout didn’t work out. We didn’t come up with a single idea, and we didn’t even complete one item on my agenda. In a lot of was, it was basically a failure.”

Her team watches her skeptically.

“But,” Leslie continues. “After talking to Andy this morning, I realized that the campout was never about brainstorming ideas. No, it was about coming together and working as a team. And sure, we didn’t have any ideas, but our teamwork was unparalleled. I watched each of you spring into action when you were needed. You didn’t doubt or turn away. You rose to the challenge, and we worked together to make sure that one of our own was okay. We did it for each other, and that’s the point. Together, we can achieve anything.”

She looks at them each, at Tom and his new cell phone, at Donna eyeing the nurses, at Chris and his wide smile, at Ron and his folded arms, at Ann and her beautiful face, at Jerry and his horrible sweater vest, at April and her glower, at Andy and his ridiculous grin, at Ben and his amazing butt.

Her team.

“So,” she says, picking up her marker. “Let’s go ahead and finish what we started.”

They nods, and there’s a small murmur of approval.

“Hey, that’s great and all,” Andy says. “But first, I think I have to take a crap. It should only take a second, but I need some help getting out of bed--”

He’s already moving, though, which means, of course, he’s already falling. There’s flying blankets and clattering IVs and the entire team rushes forward as Andy’s bare backside is revealed to the world.

Yes, Leslie thinks, her team.

-o-

After Andy successfully goes to the bathroom and has his IV fixed, they spend an hour brainstorming. They come up with some pretty good ideas.

Not great ideas, but workable ones. They’re a start, at least.

Even so, it’s their best campout yet.

Leslie reflects at the office later, while she puts together her scrapbook of the event. After everything, she comes to one, overarching conclusion: Andy will just have to almost die everywhere.

She frowns, no. That’s not true. He shouldn’t almost die every year. That’d be terrible. And mean and cruel and unnecessarily risky.

Unless it turned out like this, because this was pretty awesome.

But no, that really is terrible. Andy had emergency surgery. That’s not awesome. In fact, it’s not even an idea at all.

It’s just bad luck.

Or good luck.

Or luck.

Or really, it’s just her team.

With the parks department, there’s no telling what will happen.

She just knows that it will always, no matter what, be amazing.