Title: Legenfamily 6/6
Word Count: 1228
Summary:Three years after their divorce, a night of passion could bind an estranged Barney and Robin together forever.
I do not own HIMYM or anything vaguely related to it. This is my own what-if imagining only.
“I mean,” Barney said, “that being with you at Supermutts, and I do not mean only the sex, was the only time I’ve been truly happy or alive in longer than I would care to admit, and I think you feel the same way. We can keep circling around this for the next eighteen years, with an innocent kid in the middle of it, or we can settle it now.”
Robin dropped her gaze, white teeth worrying her lower lip. “I don’t even know where to start.” She grasped his lapels with ice cream sticky fingers even as she stepped back from his embrace.
Images of smaller sticky fingers clutching his lapels urged him onward. “I have to make a phone call. Just go with it,” he added at her questioning look.
In the space of a heartbeat, her phone sounded in its charger. She crossed to it with long, slow steps, ponytail swishing over her shoulders. “Hi. This is Robin.”
“Hi, Robin. This is Barney Stinson from GNB. We, ah, shared a table at the Supermutts fundraiser.”
The barest hint of a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Blond guy in the Armani tux, right? The man with the really big,” she let the sentence dangle for a second longer than comfortable, “check? The check cleared, no problem.”
He allowed himself a moment to drink in the loose wisps of hair that waved around the high curve of her cheekbones, the way she looked back at him over her shoulder for half a second. The mutt’s tail thumped against his leg. “I’m glad, but that’s not why I’m calling. I had a lot of fun hanging out with you after your speech and I wanted to know if you would be interested in having dinner with me later this week.”
“I don’t know. Took you two months to call me.”
Barney’s free hand reached down to smooth the mutt’s wiry coat. The dog leaned into his touch. “Yeah, jerky move, I know, but I’m kind of nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve done anything like this. You’re smart and successful and fun and gorgeous and I really, really like you. I was afraid you might say no.”
“Hm. I had fun with you, too, but I wasn’t sure you were all that interested.” She turned then, to face him fully, her features open and vulnerable. No mask here, no television smile to mask the tears drying on her skin. Only Robin, who knew the worst and the best of him. Robin, the only person on this earth who would choose her own misery if she thought it would mean his happiness, the only one who would make the same stupid choice he had made for her.
He shifted the phone to the other hand. “Trust me, I am extremely interested in seeing more of you.” In every context.
“In that case, Barney Stinson from GNB, yes, I will have dinner with you. I know a great place called my couch. It’s right by the on ramp.”
“I think I know where that is. Meet you there.” He ended the call and dropped the phone back in his pocket. “Hey. Sorry I’m late. Good thing you were able to get a table.”
Robin settled into the couch and patted the empty seat next to her.
Barney slid into it, close enough to soak in the heat from her body, without actual contact. She would always, always stoke this fire in him, but there was time enough for that. They would have a lifetime, this time; a lifetime counted not only in years, but in decades. This moment, too, was precious. He reached for the closest takeout container and lifted the lid. “Want to start with chicken?”
A sickly green tinge bloomed over Robin’s face as she clambered over Barney and made a mad dash for the bathroom. The unmistakable sound of vomiting followed. Barney closed the lid and gathered the food. They’d eat later. The Yorkie darted between his legs and the Greyhound sideswiped him as all five dogs rushed the window at once, their barks ringing off the walls.
“I got this,” he called in Robin’s direction and set the food down on the counter. “What do you guys want, huh? What’s going on?” It took him only a moment to make out three familiar faces pressed against the glass, three bodies crouched on the fire escape. He pulled back the curtains and opened the window.
Lily climbed through first, followed by Tracy and then Stanislav, the traitor. Lily dusted herself off and swept the room with a glance. “Did you really think we were going to go home without at least a glimpse of your baby mama?”
Barney’s brow creased at the sight of Tracy’s smug composure. “I thought I lost you on the subway.”
Tracy shrugged. “I doubled back and got on the next car.”
“Well played.” Barney acknowledged her efforts with a tilt of his head. She was a fast learner, that one. Ted taught her well. “Et tu, Stanislav?” Barney grabbed his folded overcoat back and tucked it under his arm. “How did you two get him to lead you here?”
Lily answered with a sly smile. “We found a common language.” She tilted her head toward Stanislav, who fanned a handful of twenty dollar bills. “We knew you’d eventually end up at your baby mama’s apartment, so where is she?”
“She’s over here.” Robin’s voice came clear, quiet, and strong from the hallway. She’d taken her hair down and switched the Supermutts shirt for a plain white tee. Her gaze flicked over the three newcomers, but the gentle smile that came straight from her heart, Barney knew, was meant only for him. “It’s me. I’m having Barney’s baby.”
“Really?” Tracy asked. Her eyes grew wide and she clutched at Lily’s arm. Both of them looked first to Robin and then Barney for confirmation. The collective squeal pierced the air and egged the dogs to the next level of barking.
Lily’s hands shook with excitement. “Miracle! Get over here, both of you. Group hug.” Lily reached out to drag Barney within her orbit, while Tracy took Robin by the hand. “Stanislav, you too. He brought us here,” she added at Robin’s silent question.
Barney draped one arm about Robin, the other about Lily. This was good. This was right. This was more true and real and precious than any temporary fix. He would never let this slip away from him again.
Tracy pulled away first. “Does this mean you two are back together? Are you getting married again?”
“One thing at a time, okay, Tracy?” Barney asked, his arm still resting across Robin’s shoulder, his fingers threaded through the soft spill of her hair.
Robin cleared her throat. “My executive producer already asked if we’d be willing to get remarried on the show in June.”
“Yes.” The answer leapt from Barney’s tongue of its own volition. “If that’s what you want. I will marry you on your show, in a church, on the beach, on the moon. Tomorrow, next week, twenty years from now. Where and when doesn’t matter, as long as I get to spend the rest of my life with you and the awesome little person we made together. We are going to be legen-wait for it-family. Legenfamily.”
Title: Legenfamily 5/6
Word Count: 1550
Summary:Three years after their divorce, a night of passion could bind an estranged Barney and Robin together forever.
I do not own HIMYM or anything vaguely related to it. This is my own what-if imagining only.
Barney juggled the packages in his arms and rang Robin’s buzzer with his elbow, angling his wrist enough to steal a glance at his watch under the streetlight. Eleven thirty-eight and forty-five seconds. “It’s Barney. Can I come up? Lily knows.”
Robin buzzed him up without a word. She met him at the door to her apartment, five dogs swirling about her slippered feet. “What the hell, Barney? Did you tell Lily?” She crossed her arms under her breasts and glared at him, hard. The Yorkie between her feet drew back one side of its mouth in a snarl. “Inside. Now. Guys, get back.” She shooed the dogs enough to allow Barney to slip through the frenzy of fur. The fawn Greyhound leaned against him, leaving a generous sprinkle of light hair against Barney’s charcoal pant leg.
“She guessed.” He extended his packages en masse, as a peace offering. “Can I put these down? Don’t worry, I covered.”
Robin jabbed a finger toward the coffee table in front of her overstuffed couch. “That’s not encouraging.” She snatched one of the paper bags from him and peeked inside. Her scowl softened by the slightest degree. “Maple brown sugar ice cream gets you one minute to explain. It also gets you the case of LaBatts I bought last week, because I’m sure as hell not going to be drinking it anytime soon.”
“No, I’m good, thanks.” A clear head was what he needed most right now. He set down the pizza box and other two bags on the coffee table, nudging aside a pile of paperback books. “There’s Chinese, pizza, chicken, and you already found the ice cream. I didn’t know what you’d want.”
“What I want is for you to plant it and explain to me what Lily knows and how she knows it.” She made a straight path to the kitchen, dogs trailing in her wake. Her long legs were bare under a familiar pair of navy blue boxers.
Under any other circumstances, he’d have made some crack about her being in his shorts already before he had a chance to sit down. Not now, though. He stepped over the Yorkie and flopped onto the couch. “She guessed. She has super mom powers of intuition. Everybody got to talking about the usual kid stuff, and I may not have reacted with the appropriate disdain.”
From the kitchen, the silverware drawer rattled, then slammed.
“Marshall said Rose saw her first Disney movie, and now their house is buried in princess everything. The phrase, ‘I can’t wait for that’ may have been uttered. Lily zeroed right in on that and asked if I finally knocked up some random skank.”
All five dogs’ ears flattened to their skulls as Robin’s curse split the air. “I am going to kill you.”
“Relax, I told you, I covered. Your name never came up. All I said was that I had not knocked up a random skank.”
“Great.” Robin dropped onto the cushions on the other end of the couch and flipped the lid off the ice cream container. The Yorkie immediately claimed the lid for a prize and dragged it under a nearby chair. “You know she’s not going to let that go. If the woman you knocked up wasn’t a random skank, then it’s somebody you’re actually dating. That kind of information is like blood in the water to a shark. She’s going to want to meet your girlfriend. She’s going to want at least a name, unless you intend to assign sexual partner numbers, which I do not want to know.”
Neither did he. That part of the fearless moral inventory had left him with the cold sweats for weeks. “I said I didn’t want to talk about it, then one of the robots tackled Mexican Wrestler Ted and shorted out. I used the resulting confusion to beat a hasty retreat.”
Panic flashed in Robin’s eyes. “She could have followed you.” She dropped two spoons on top of the books. Two spoons. He’d take that as a good sign.
He shook his head. “I took a circuitous route here, lost Tracy on the subway and the cab that Lily is even now following to Staten Island contains Stanislav, a dancer of my height and build, wearing my overcoat. She won’t be able to grill him, either, because his English is sketchy at best. Unless one of his cousins is still awake and willing to translate. Then we’re screwed.”
“What about Marshall and Ted?”
“Please. They’re headed to their respective homes to relieve the sitters. They won’t have a chance to know anything until the girls fill them in, so you and I have time to get our stories straight.”
Robin jabbed her spoon into the ice cream. “We don’t have stories. We had an accident. We made a mistake.”
“Hey. Our baby is not an accident. A surprise, sure, but not an accident. Being with you was never a mistake.” Barney picked up the second spoon, taking in the title of the book on the top of the pile. “So You’re Having a Baby, Eh?”
Robin shrugged. “It’s Canadian Parenting Monthly’s book of the year. My boss had it messengered over. She thought it might be a good choice for our first book segment.” She paused long enough to stuff a spoonful of ice cream in her mouth and swallow before she made a half turn toward Barney. “Nancy asked if the father was going to be involved.”
“Did my name come up?”
She dashed a drop of ice cream from her lower lip with a flick of her tongue. “Yeah. It did.”
Barney pushed past the familiar tightening sensation in his groin. Clear head. “So you can tell your boss, but I can’t tell our friends? I want to tell our friends. I want to tell my mom and my dad and Sam and Cheryl and JJ and Carly. I want to tell everybody.”
Robin launched herself from the couch, ice cream tub still in hand. “That’s different. The network doesn’t care about my personal life. They care about shooting schedules and segment topics. Lily and Tracy and Marshall and Ted are going to want details. They’re going to assume there’s something going on between us.”
Barney scratched the Golden Retriever behind one ear and hauled himself to standing. “There is something between us. No matter what terms you and I use to refer to each other, we’re going to be family for the rest of our lives.”
The Dalmatian and Golden Retriever collided as they attempted to follow Robin’s path back to the kitchen. “We’re not a family. We’re divorced. Divorced parents aren’t a family.” She shoved an impressive spoonful of ice cream into her mouth, her eyes brimming with unshed tears. “We stopped being a family the second you took that off ramp. Nothing you can say will change that.” Her expression crumpled, all the anger dissolving into closed eyes and scarlet blotches on nose and cheeks.
“Hey.” He wove around the big shaggy mutt and wrapped his arms around Robin from behind. “You’re right, I can’t undo the past three years, but I can tell you one very important thing about that off ramp; it doesn’t exist. There are only two off ramps left to us, Sherbatsky; eighteen years and death. That wasn’t an off ramp in Argentina. It was a detour. The only mistake I made was not fighting for us then, but I am here now, and I am not going anywhere.”
Robin turned in his arms. He knew that brave face she struggled to put on for him, knew how much it cost her to even try for it. “Don’t do this. Don’t be nice. Ted is nice. Be Barney.”
It took nothing at all for him to lift the melting ice cream tub from her hand and set it on the kitchen passthrough counter. “This is who I am without all those defense mechanisms in place. I don’t gamble anymore. I don’t smoke. I don’t bang anything in a skirt, nor do I want to, and I am stone cold sober. So, this guy telling you he will do whatever it takes to make your life and our child’s life better, this is me. This is what I’ve always been beneath all of the self doubt and insecurity, stripped down, laid bare, and for once, I do not mean that in a sexual context.” He cupped the back of her head in one hand, his thumb brushing the base of her ponytail. “Please say something.”
Her lips formed shapes, but sound didn’t come. Wet lashes lowered to cast dark shadows on her cheeks. Her throat worked. “How do you mean it?” she asked at last.
Title: Legenfamily 4/5
Word Count: 1015
Rating: PG-13 (mature themes)
Summary:Three years after their divorce, a night of passion could bind an estranged Barney and Robin together forever.
“Good morning, Ms. Sherbatsky. Ms. Friedman said you can go right in.”
Robin took three deep breaths. Funny how Tracy’s advice actually worked. She nodded at the receptionist and pushed open the door to the executive producer’s office, her heels silent on the carpet.
Nancy Friedman, executive producer of the tentatively titled Robin show, swiveled in her black leather desk chair. Red-tipped fingers steepled under a chin that had seen a little work; good work, too, the still-pink scar nearly hidden by a sweep of hennaed hair. “Eight thirty on a Thursday morning. Please tell me you haven’t changed your mind, because the boys upstairs will pitch a fit. Papers have been filed and money has changed hands.”
Robin blinked. “What? No. I’ve wanted this job for literally my entire life. It’s not that.”
Nancy pointed to the pair of white cushioned chairs opposite her black lacquered desk. “Well, fears relieved in that case. What’s on your mind?”
Robin settled into the closest seat and crossed her legs. Sit up straight. Confident smile. Sell this. “I’m eight weeks pregnant.” She counted fifteen seconds of silence and two sweeps of Nancy’s dark lashes.
“Well.” Nancy bent to withdraw a yellow legal pad from a lower desk drawer and select a pen from the chrome cup next to a framed portrait of the perfect family. Nancy, a silver fox in gray pinstripe and two immaculately groomed teenagers, one girl, one boy, and a Golden Retriever lounged on a lush green lawn. Nancy clicked her pen and scrawled Robin’s name on the top line. “First things first. Congratulations?”
Breathe. “It’s a surprise, but yes.”
Nancy sketched a quick smiley face in the margin. “Mazel tov. Mommy healthy? Baby healthy?”
“Yes and yes.” Robin allowed the tension to ease from her shoulders. So far, so good. “I feel fine, and I can film the entire season as scheduled. Maybe we can get a few episodes in the can ahead of time to compensate for later months.”
Nancy made another notation on her pad. “Sounds like you’ve given this some thought. I agree. We’ll do as much as we can now, and let you enjoy baby later.” A click of her pen, then, “I’m sorry if this is too personal, but will dad be involved?”
“My dad isn’t the most nurturing person, so probably not.” Robin paused, fidgeted under Nancy’s questioning gaze from below plucked and penciled brows. “Oh. You didn’t mean my dad.”
Nancy flashed an indulgent smile. “Nope.”
I will be as involved as you want me to be. Barney’s words came as clear to Robin as though he sat beside her. He’d reach over and hold her hand, were he really there, give a supportive squeeze and turn that megawatt Happy Barney grin on Nancy. That’s all it would take to leave no doubt at all that this new development was the best thing that could have happened for him, for Robin, or for the show. If Barney believed it, everyone else would, too. Especially Robin herself. She squeezed the phantom hand back, then worried the finger where her wedding ring used to be. It felt bare now, downright naked.
She covered her left hand with her right. “It’s my ex-husband.”
“Barney Stinson, from GNB?”
“Only ex-husband I’ve got,” Robin said with a nervous laugh, then gave herself a mental smack. “We plan to bro-parent. Co-parent. He makes up words.” Connectitude. Linkativity. “Blond guy. Wears suits. Likes Scotch.” She was talking in sound bytes now, two word nuggets that had no place in a professional conversation but let her stall while her brain searched for words that would actually make sense. Barney would jump in here, take over and fill Nancy in on the bare facts until Robin regained her composure. She glanced at the empty chair. The words she needed here were his. He’d come if she called, and that was why she couldn’t. “Involved. Yes. He’s going to be that. We’re working it out.”
Nancy’s lips formed an O. “This is a day for big news. I am not in any way telling you what to do with your personal life, and certainly not for ratings,” she paused. “Okay, if played right, an on-air could be ratings gold. It’s April now, we could pull a few strings and be right on time for June.”
“Who’s getting married on-air?” Then it hit her. We’re working it out. “Whoa, hold on there. Little hasty, don’t you think? Not that I’m questioning your expertise. Hello, Emmy.” Robin waved at the statuette that cuddled against a potted plant atop Nancy’s chrome and glass bookcase.
Dig yourself in deeper, Sherbatsky. Phantom Barney’s voice coiled in her ear. He’d have that slanted grin aimed right at her if he were here, and he’d steer the conversation back where it ought to go. She hated the thought of needing him, hated that the image of his phantom hand holding hers settled her nerves by any degree, but it did. “He should really be here for this sort of thing.”
Nancy’s head dipped once. “Of course. This must be a lot to take in all at once.”
“It’s a little overwhelming. I know this isn’t the best timing, but –“
Nancy dismissed Robin’s concern with a wave of her pen. “Babies come when babies come. I had my first when I was producing public access in Chicago, and found out I was going to have my second the same day I got my first job here. Talk to your maybe not so ex and decide how much you want to share with your viewers. We’ll work with you. I’ll call a meeting and we’ll make a plan. For now, don’t worry. Be happy. This calls for the good stuff.” She lay down her pen and opened another drawer, withdrawing a square gold box. “Godiva makes everything better.”
Robin clapped a hand over her mouth, her stomach roiling. Did chocolate always smell like that? “Not everything. Excuse me.” She leapt out of the chair and made it to the ladies’ room in record time.
Title: Legenfamily 3/5
Word Count: 1049
Rating: PG-13 (mature themes)
Summary: Older and wiser, a divorced Barney and Robin face an unexpected development that could bind them together forever.
Barney waited until Robin’s cab pulled away from the curb and into the steady flow of traffic. He’d almost slid into the seat next to her, caught in her orbit once more. She needed the space, he knew that, the same way he needed, with a desperate hunger, not to be alone. He checked his watch. The meeting would be over by now, all but the last few stragglers gone. Good enough. If he couldn’t talk to Robin, his big brother was the next best thing.
No elevator this time. He took the stairs two at a time, his footsteps echoing on the tiled floor. “James?” His voice bounced off the basement wall. The chapel door swung open before he even touched it. Barney brushed past his brother and slid into the seat nearest the door. “Robin’s pregnant.”
The seat creaked as James slid in beside him. “Is she sure? I thought she couldn’t have kids.”
Barney nodded. “Yeah. That’s why she went,” he gestured above them, “to some specialist upstairs. She thought she was sick. Like when Mom had to see Dr. Schulman,” he added at James’s questioning look. “But she’s not sick. She’s perfectly healthy and two months pregnant. Her doctor said being able to conceive at all was a million to one shot, but they should both be okay.”
For a moment, James only sat there, hands clasped between his knees. “That’s good to know and I’m glad she’s okay, but I’m more concerned about you. That’s some pretty big news. How are you doing?”
“I don’t know. I know what I,” he made air quotes with his fingers, “ought to say. Oh no, how could this happen? I ruined my life. I ruined Robin’s life. I ruined the life of some poor kid who gets stuck with parents who were already divorced three years before the kid was conceived in a hotel elevator.” Or back seat of Robin’s car. Or the VIP suite’s couch, bed or shower. “I don’t feel any of that, and I don’t want to go out, get drunk and bang some random chick. When I put Robin in her cab, I wanted to get in there with her and I don’t even know where she was going. Lame, huh?”
“Nah. My little brother’s all grown up.” He bumped a fist against Barney’s shoulder. “You want to know what I think?”
Barney plucked a small envelope from the back of the seat in front of him and folded the flap over and back, over and back. Stubby pencils, the same size and shape as cigarettes, taunted him, two years, one month and eleven days after his last smoke. “Are you asking as my brother or as my sponsor?”
Figures. “Go ahead.”
“As your sponsor, I have to ask you one question. Was sex with Robin casual?”
The flap of the envelope tore off in one swift motion. “No. I love her. Being with her,” he bent to pick the torn flap off the floor, “was the only time in the last three years I’ve felt whole. There was nothing casual about that.” There hadn’t been. The connection between them, so strong that it was a force unto itself, had roared and raged, devoured the two of them until they were spent and exhausted. It danced now about the edges of his consciousness, pulling at his senses. “It wasn’t about having sex with Robin. It was about having sex with Robin.”
“But you still count it as inner circle behavior, which you defined as casual sex.”
Barney took out his wallet and stuffed a pair of twenties into the envelope. “Is there someplace to put these?”
James pointed toward a plain wooden box marked with a brass cross, affixed to the far wall. He didn’t get up to let Barney pass. “They’ll appreciate that, but you still need to answer the question. Sex in a committed relationship –“
The envelope crinkled in Barney’s hand. “Robin and I are divorced. We don’t have a relationship. I see her on the news. I hear about her from Marshall and Lily. They always apologize for bringing her up. That’s not a relationship.”
“If you could erase that night with Robin, and everything else in your life would remain exactly the same, would you do it?”
Barney didn’t need even a second to think about that. “No.”
He ran his thumb along the edge of the envelope, soft where the worn paper had torn. “Hanging out with her, talking with her, being with her; all of that was as good as the sex.” Maybe better.
“If it wasn’t casual, it wasn’t inner circle. You’re doing better than you think.”
“Robin only called me because she’s pregnant. I’m a fortysomething sex addict who works in a bank and hangs out in church basements with his brother. She’s going to have her own talk show. We live in different worlds. What happened after the Supermutts fundraiser was a fluke. It’s not going to happen again.”
James shifted in his seat. “If she really didn’t want you in her life, she could have not contacted you at all. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing great, and that’s all I’m going to say today as your sponsor. As your brother, I want to be there when you tell Mom. She’s going to flip.”
Barney fixed James with a glare. “I only told you because you’re my sponsor. Robin doesn’t want anyone else to know yet. She made me promise this would be just between us.” He crumpled the envelope, then lay it across his thigh to smooth it again. “Look how great I did on that. I want to make this all better for her, and I can’t. I don’t have an awkward divorced pregnancy guy. I am the awkward divorced pregnancy guy, and I have no idea what comes next here.”
“What comes next,” James said, rising from his seat, “is you sticking that envelope in the donation box, and then coming out to the island to have dinner with Mom and my dad. There’s another meeting out there, afterwards. We’ll be talking about step nine. Might get some good ideas there.”
Barney hauled himself to standing. Step nine. Making amends where possible. “I might. Sounds good.”
Title: Legenfamily 2/5
Word Count: 1682
Rating: PG-13 (mature themes)
Summary: Older and wiser, a divorced Barney and Robin face an unexpected development that could bind them together forever.
Author's Note: This was meant to be the Robin-is-#31 story, but soon took a turn of its own. I do not own HIMYM, its characters, or anything vaguely related to it. This is my own what-if scenario.
Barney’s words slammed into Robin with the force of a hurricane, cutting through the barrier of protection she’d erected around herself. He’d said the word, she hadn’t, and that fact brought wit it a measure of relief. “Yes.”
There was a pause on the other end of the line, and the sound of elevator doors. She could see, as well as if they were face to face, Barney massaging his temple as if that would help him understand this surreal conversation. “I don’t understand.”
Neither did she. “I just came from the doctor. Can we please not have this conversation over the phone? Where are you?”
His answer came right away. “I’m in the lobby of the Harmon building.”
“Small world.” Robin scanned the lobby with a quick glance. No wonder the man never took a bad picture. She didn’t need a camera to capture him now. The sight of him, framed by the brass elevator doors sent a surge of yearning coursing through her. His gray suit, blue shirt, shoulders ever so slightly broader than before, hair still thick and blond, all combined into one glorious image that seared itself into her soul. Barney could blend in or stand out as he pleased, an ability only honed by the passage of time. Right here, right now, he wanted her to see him, and she did. “I’m in front of the big clock.”
“I’ll come to you,” he said, and the connection cut off.
Robin sank onto the marble bench, no longer trusting her legs or her judgement. She’d meant to call somebody else first. Anybody. Lily or Tracy. Even Ted. Marshall. Her own mother. Her finger had hovered over Loretta’s name on her contact list –still under ‘Mom’- before some primitive part of herself had chosen Barney. Like that ever resulted in good decisions.
By the time Barney reached her, he’d acquired flowers. Real roses, white tipped with red, surrounded by a froth of baby’s breath and wrapped in white tissue. Definitely not the magic prop he could pull out of his sleeve. At least he wasn’t mad. Not yet. She’d keep this image, too; the guarded hope in his blue eyes, the way his brows and the corners of his mouth both tilted up by the slightest degree. The crease in his forehead, still the biggest giveaway of his confusion. “Hi,” he said, and for the space of half a heartbeat, Robin rocketed back in time to the day of their wedding.
A lump formed in her throat. “Hi.”
He extended the roses with a rustle of tissue. “These are for you.”
“Thanks.” Robin accepted the gift and scooted down the smooth, cool surface of the bench to make room for him. She didn’t know what to say next, didn’t know what she could say. There was no time to build up to her news with polite small talk about family, mutual friends, the weather, or how much good his donations to Supermutts had done. “So, you’re in a sex group?” The question flew out of its own accord.
“Twelve step group for sex addiction.” His correction held no anger, only a statement of fact. “It helps.”
Robin shifted in her seat. “I’m keeping it.”
Barney’s brows flashed upward. “The bouquet?”
“That, too. I’m having the baby.” There. That was out.
“Okay,” he answered, and a heavy silence fell between them.
“That’s your reaction?” Robin asked when the quiet grew too loud. “Okay?”
Barney regarded her through darkened eyes. “Did you want me to tell you it’s not okay to have this baby? I’m not going to do that. I’ll support whatever you want, but you can’t put something that big all on me.”
Robin fingered the paper that cradled her roses. “I’m not. I literally just found out, okay? I thought I was sick,” she watched the weight of the word settle on Barney. “I was so sure I couldn’t have kids, ever, and then the doctor tells me I’m having one. I have your baby growing inside me and I need more from you than just okay.”
The slow shake of Barney’s head and the odd tilt of his mouth weren’t the response she’d expected. “I know, and you’ll get it. I expected to be having this kind of conversation a long time before now. Ten years, maybe twenty. I had responses prepared, but they don’t apply now.”
“We would not be having this conversation twenty years ago.” But we could have. The path her life could have taken dangled out of reach. She might have returned Barney’s knowing look, the slight upthrust of his chin that first night at MacLaren’s. Whether that would have ended in a one night stand or a marriage that didn’t crash and burn after three short years, she didn’t know, but it would have been one hell of a ride.
Barney jabbed one finger into the air. “Challenge accepted. If, nay, when, I master the art of time travel, my first stop will be to go back twenty years before this very day, where twenty years ago me will pick up twenty years ago you.”
“Oh, you would?” Robin couldn’t hold back the grin that tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Yeah, probably.” She lay her hand on her still-flat belly. “At least this isn’t the first time we’ve had this kind of conversation. Guess last time was a dry run, huh?”
“Guess so.” Barney’s gaze rested on her hand as it rested there. “I will be as involved as you want me to be.”
The tissue crunched between her fingers. This next part was going to be hard, and he wasn’t helping, caressing her with only a glance. “Thanks. There’s um, one more thing.” She fixed her own sights on a spot on the wall over Barney’s left shoulder, a trick that would pass for eye contact with most people, but this was Barney. Even after all this time, he knew all her tricks. Eyes it was. “Nobody else can know about this.”
“Call me crazy, but I think our friends are going to figure this out. Hiding behind boxes and giant teddy bears only works on TV sitcoms. Maybe you could convince your more gullible friends, let’s say, Ted, you were just getting fat, but how are you going to explain the tiny person you’ll suddenly be carrying around everywhere?”
Robin shrugged. “I’ll get a nanny.”
“A hot nanny?”
“A hot male nanny. I’ll get a manny.”
Barney waved a hand in dismissal. “Nobody says ‘manny’ anymore.”
“You do know I can fact check that.”
He flashed a mischievous grin. “I’m counting on it.”
“I’m serious. Nobody can know about this until I tell them.”
“Why wouldn’t you want people to know?”
She silenced him with a look. “It would be awkward.” She ducked her head, her hair falling forward to cover the blush that burned her cheek. “Nobody knows you and I,” this was all still so new she didn’t know what words would fit. “That we had a date,” she said at last. “I have a lot going on right now. I’m the spokesperson for Supermutts. Yesterday, I signed a contract for my own talk show.”
Barney’s high five came so fast she met it on pure instinct. “Awesome news, but I already got you the biggest bouquet that vendor had. Hear that, kid? Your mom has a talk show. Prenatal five.” His hand stopped a millimeter shy of her midsection. “Can I?”
No hovered on the tip of her tongue. “Sure.”
The warmth of his touch seeped into her core. “Hi. I’m your dad.” When he took his hand away, she felt the loss. “There’s really somebody in there?”
“There really is,” she said, “and that’s why I don’t need people I barely know anymore asking me very personal questions.”
A muscle twitched in Barney’s jaw. “If you mean Marshall, Lily, Ted and Tracy, they don’t have to be strangers. They’re our best friends.”
“Were. We barely have anything in common anymore.”
“Au contraire. As of today, we’re all parents.” He paused, the lines at the sides of his mouth, deeper now, and more enticing than ever, creased. “We’re parents.” A sense of wonder threaded through his voice with that, his face lighting from within. “Robots versus Wrestlers is this weekend. You should come.”
Robin shook her head. “I can’t.”
As quickly as it had come, the light extinguished, a prickly caution sliding itself between the two of them. “I get it.” The tightness in Barney’s voice told Robin he didn’t get it at all, but the topic of conversation needed to end. “I still buy your ticket, you know. Every year.”
An elderly couple, white-haired and impeccably dressed, strolled past, the woman elbowing the man and tilting her head toward the roses Robin still cradled. The man smiled, slipped his arm around his companion’s waist and as they walked away. That should have been us. Still could be, a quiet voice in the back of her mind whispered. Shut up. “I know.” There wasn’t room enough for the person she’d become to sit with the ghosts of all they had been to each other crowding their box. “Maybe next year.”
“Kids under five get in free. Sorry,” he added at her scowl. “Too far in advance?”
Another silence settled, this one softer, more companionable. Almost the way it used to be. Almost. Robin counted the roses, touching a manicured fingernail to each bloom in turn. Thirteen, not twelve. Once upon a time, she’d have called that a sign, but she didn’t believe in signs anymore. It hurt too much. Facts never lied. Facts, she could trust. The too-familiar warmth of Barney’s hand covering hers, that she couldn’t trust at all.
“Hey. You and I don’t have to be strangers. I don’t think we can be, if we’re going to co-parent.” The light of an idea seized him, his enthusiasm reaching out to draw her in. “Better than that. Bro-parent.”
“Bro-parent. Yeah. I think we can do that. Want to start by walking me out?”
Title: Legenfamily 1/5
Word Count: 1062
Rating: PG-13 (mature themes)
Summary: Older and wiser, a divorced Barney and Robin face an unexpected development that will bind them together forever.
Author's Note: This was meant to be the Robin-is-#31 story, but soon took a turn of its own.
New York, 2019
Barney made his way to the podium at the front of the brick-walled basement chapel, hands in pockets to conceal a bad case of the shakes. Three steps shy of his target, his phone vibrated in his suit pocket. He took it out to watch the image of himself and Robin in their wedding finery filled the screen. He should have changed her caller ID. “Sorry, guys. Emergency.” He put the phone to his ear and turned his back to the group. “Are you okay?” His pulse pounded as he waited to hear her voice.
For the second-longest three seconds of his life, the line was silent. He heard a catch in her breath, then, “We need to talk. Now. Not on the phone.”
Language deserted him. “I’m in a meeting right now. Can I call you back in an hour?”
Another pause. “You’re in a meeting. I get it. You don’t have to call. Forget it. It’s stupid.”
Stupid, from Robin, meant serious. Sweat beaded on his brow. “I really want to talk to you, but I can’t leave this meeting. Sixty minutes. I will call you. I promise.” He dropped the phone back into his pocket and took a deep breath before gripping the edge of the podium. “Hi, my name is Barney, and I’m a sex addict.”
“Hi, Barney.” Two dozen voices sounded as one, enfolding with security and acceptance.
His shaking subsided. “I’ve been free of high risk behavior for seven weeks and three days. It’s been hard.” He coughed into his fist. “Bad word choice, but appropriate. That was my ex-wife on the phone, and right now, all I can think about is how beautiful she is and how great it would feel to lose myself inside her even one more time. That, and exactly how long it would take me to get to a bar and zero in on some girl who kind of looks like her, and how empty I would feel after.” He closed his eyes, his fists clenching as he concentrated on the moment. I feel frustrated. I feel afraid. I want to know why Robin called me.
He let the usual responses to an unexpected heavy silence pulse through him, voices that had become as familiar as his own heartbeat shoring him up when he might crumble. A deep, rumbling, “Feel for you buddy,” came from a seat near the back.
“Stay strong.” Those words came in quiet, halting, broken English from one of the middle rows.
He raised his hand, palm out, at the sound of the woman’s voice. If he stopped for questions now, he’d never get through the rest of this. “We’ll have some time for discussion in a few minutes.”
“Barney.” No question this time, and the voice came from far closer than even the front row. “Your phone is still on.”
Robin? Barney whipped the phone out of his pocket and swallowed a curse. Heat scorched along his cheeks and jaw as he ended the call.
James rose from his seat in the second row. “Talk to her. Take a minute and then call her back. I’ll take over here.”
“Thanks.” Barney’s composure crumbled the second the chapel door closed behind him. He made a beeline for the plain wooden bench set into the wall beneath a portrait of some saint he couldn’t name. God. Robin. God. That was all the prayer he could manage. If anybody was listening, it would have to be enough, because he didn’t have anything left.
He wasn’t perfect, but most days, he did okay. Most nights were slightly more difficult, interminable, and weighted down by a soul-crushing loneliness. He stayed away from bars, attended conferences by satellite rather than travel. He'd joined a men's only gym, taking over James's membership, easing Tom’s concerns and providing himself a safe haven at the same time. He'd never been in better physical shape in his life, even if he couldn't let anyone else appreciate that fact.
Except that he had, one glorious, shameful, legendary night seven weeks and three days ago. He knew, from experience, that there was no place, no time, no state of mind in which the sight of Robin Sherbatsky would not cause him to throw good sense out the window and lose himself in the irresistible splendor of her. Seven weeks and three days later, he still couldn't shake the image of Robin, standing at the podium of the grand ballroom in the Coronet hotel, couldn't forget the way she held every ear with her impassioned speech on how the love and companionship of her rescued dogs got her through the darkest time of her life.
She hadn’t mentioned the divorce specifically, but Barney knew. He'd written two big checks to Supermutts Dog Rescue that night, one from GNB, and one from his own account. Handed them to her personally and shaken hands for a photo op, a powerful surge of need coursing straight through him.
It hadn't mattered at all that the two of them hadn't been in the same building, let alone the same room in three very, very long years. The chemistry and connection between them was still there, all the stronger for having been denied. He'd meant to walk away, after a few minutes of mature, civil conversation. He’d meant to call James and talk it out, but there hadn't been time.
All it took was Robin's "Walk me to my car?" That tilt of her head, the touch of her hand on his arm, and everything that was them roared back to life, desperate and starving. They'd made it as far as the elevator before falling on each other like wild animals. Elevator, her car, elevator again, this time up to the VIP suite, where time had ceased to exist until morning.
She'd slipped from his arms in the pale light of dawn. Her dogs needed to go out, she’d said when he asked her to stay. He couldn't argue with that, and he hadn't. They'd promised to keep in touch, but neither of them had, until now, seven weeks and three days later. He hauled himself to his feet and started for the elevator.
Seven... weeks... and... three... days. Barney stopped in mid-stride. The old anxiety clutched him in its grip. He snatched the phone from his pocket and called up Robin's number. "Are you pregnant?"
Title: Rekindled 1/1
Pairing: Barney/Robin, Barney/Ted friendship
Word Count: 1407
New York, 2030
Summary: Barney finds the first test to his and Robin's rekindled relationship stands beneath her window, holding a blue French horn.
"Robin? I can’t find the corkscrew." Barney stopped short, the door to Robin's kitchen swinging shut behind him. The dogs’ barking echoed off the walls. "What's going on? The mariachis aren't due until Tuesday."
Robin turned from the window, a bright spark of pain in her eyes, lips pressed together in a thin line. "It's not mariachis. It's Ted."
"Ted?" Instinct prickled along Barney's spine, propelling him toward Robin's window. He leaned out into the cool night air. He blinked. It wasn't a ghost, though it might have been. Ted Mosby, once again standing beneath Robin's window, hefting the blue French horn heavenward. The same old hopeful tilt of his mouth, so jubilant it bordered on pathetic, faded away as he registered Barney's appearance. Ted had never looked old before, but he did now, the old radiating off him in waves. This wasn't good. This wasn't right. It wasn't even Ted.
Robin paced a short track from window to couch, her face gone pale, tight lines forming about her eyes and mouth. The dogs followed in her wake, whimpering their confusion, colliding with each other as they all tried to be in the same place at the same time. Shaking hands pushed the hair back from her face, revealing the beads of sweat on her forehead. "I can't do this," she said in a tight whisper, eyes gone wide and pleading. "I can't do this again. I can't," a gulp of air, "Ted. What is he even doing here? Why does he have that," she shut her eyes, tight, tears seeping through the dark sweep of her lashes, "that thing? I can't do this."
"You don't have to." Barney wrapped Robin in his embrace, holding her with all the strength within him. "I got this." He guided her to the couch and dropped a kiss on her cheek. One deep breath, two quick strides to the window and he leaned out, his most gregarious smile in place. "Teddy boy! Stay where you are. I'll be right down." To Robin, he added, “I’ll come home as soon as I can.” He snatched his keys from the dish on the table by the door and strode down the hall to the elevator.
He didn't have to think about this. Pure instinct drove him forward. Putting Ted in a cab and sending him home would be the easiest course, but that would only dump him on Penny and Luke. This wasn't a matter for kids. It was a matter for adults. For friends. For bros. The sooner he got this settled, the sooner he could get back to Robin. Home to her.
He pocketed his keys and punched the button for the elevator, then took out his phone. "Call Mosby home."
The ding of the elevator came at the same time as Penny's voice. "Uncle Barney?"
"Hey, there's my girl," he answered, and punched the elevator button that would take him down to the lobby. "Your dad's with me. We're going to go hang for a while and I'll bring him home soon. If you want Uncle Jerry to come stay with you and Luke until we get there, just say the word."
Even over the phone, Penny's exasperated teenage sigh came through loud and clear. The elevator doors opened. "We're not babies. Is my dad okay?"
"Yeah," Barney answered, crossing the tiled entry with long, quick steps. "He's fine. He's just...sad. You know you're my favorite niece, right? Don't tell Daisy or Rose I said that"
"I won't," Penny said, then ended the call with, "I'm waiting up."
She would, too. She’d done it before. A kid shouldn't have to look out for their parent. This had to end. Penny deserved better. They all deserved better. Barney paused for only a moment to drop his phone back into his pocket, adjust a button and step out into the cool of the night. "Hey, Ted, know where we haven't been in forever? MacLaren's. We should go. My treat.”
Ted stood rooted to the same spot, blue French horn cradled in his arms like a sick child. "I came here to see Robin."
"Robin's busy. You got me tonight. Taxi!" He flagged down the passing cab and, in a single fluid motion, grabbed the horn from Ted and slid into the back seat. "MacLaren's Pub," he said to the driver.
Ted climbed in after him. "Give me the horn."
"I'm not giving you the horn."
The cab pulled away from the curb and into traffic.
Ted glared at Barney. "Why were you in Robin's apartment?"
Barney let out a long breath. No way to build up to the truth Ted didn’t want to hear, but it had to be said. "This wasn't the way I wanted you to find out. Robin and I are -"
"No!" Ted lunged for the horn, but Barney stuffed it through the open partition so that it landed in the empty front passenger seat. "You and Robin are not getting back together. You don't deserve her."
"Whoa. Got to stop you right there. Maybe I don't deserve Robin, because she is the most awesome woman on the planet, and I’m me, but she's a person, not a prize. She can be with whoever she wants."
Ted crossed his arms and glowered. "And she wants to be with you?"
"Yeah, she does."
"But she's been coming for dinner." Ted’s brow creased, eyes darting back and forth as though examining a blueprint for a building that shouldn’t stand but did.
Once upon a time, this conversation would include wild gesticulations, yelling, and somebody would insist the cab stop in the middle of traffic so the offended party could storm off in a huff. This was different. "Robin is your friend. So am I."
The cab came to a stop outside MacLaren's. Barney reached over Ted to push open the door. Ted slid out of the cab,leaving Barney barely enough room to do the same. He slipped the driver a fifty. "Drop the horn off at Carmichael's and keep the rest for yourself." They descended the steps and slid into their usual booth, ordering two beers from a waitress Barney didn't recognize. It had been too long.
Ted let out a long breath. "Robin never said anything about getting back together with you."
"I asked her not to, not until we knew where this was going and we knew you could handle it."
Anger flared in Ted's eyes. "News flash; I can't. Tracy's been gone six years, and I can't do this on my own anymore. I was telling the kids about how I met Tracy, and in the middle of it, it hit me. I'm ready to be married again. I don't want to date. I don't want a girlfriend. I don't want girlfriends. I want a wife. I'm single, Robin's single, we're over forty. We had a deal."
No more evading the issue. "Ted, Robin isn't single."
"What?" The disbelief in Ted’s voice prickled the air.
"Robin asked me to marry her again, and I said yes. Robin is engaged, Ted. Her window is closed and it's not going to open again."
Ted took a deep swig of his beer. "Great. I'm too old to date my students, who are the only single women I see on a regular basis, I have teenagers, none of whom have single mothers, oddly enough, and I am not hanging out in bars in Westchester. Where do I even start?"
Barney leaned back in the booth, casting a long, sweeping glance around the room. Some skills didn't fade with time, or lack of use. "Silence, please. The master is at work. Allow me a moment to scope out the talent."
"Did you say you just got engaged to Robin?"
Barney nodded. "I did, and some skills do not fade with time or lack of use. I'm not looking for me. Consider me your personal shopper for the evening."
"I don't want a wingman."
"I didn't say wingman,” Barney let out a breath of pure indignation. “I said personal shopper. Mmmhmm, we have a winner. Over by the bar, blonde, early forties, good nails, a little zaftig, sensible heels. Very nice. Now show us that ring finger." He waited until the woman accepted her drink from Carl. "No ring. Perfect." He was out of the booth in a flash, to tap the blonde on one cashmere covered shoulder. "Haaaave you met Ted?"
HIMYM fanfic: "Twice in a Lifetime"
Setting: Post-season nine
Summary: Barney objects at Ted and Robin's wedding
Note: I do not own HIMYM, the characters or anything even remotely related to it. This is my own speculation, after a friend asked for a story with this scenario as a birthday gift.
New York, 2031
“We are gathered here today,” Judge Marshall Eriksen began, “to witness the marriage of Robin Charles Sherbatsky Junior and Theodore Evelyn Mosby. If there is anyone here who has reason why these two people should not be married, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”
A creak of wood broke the silence as one of the guests stood. “I know a reason.”
Robin blinked as a familiar blond, suited figure pulled himself up to his full height in the rear of the grand ballroom of the Coronet hotel and adjusted the knot of his tie. “Barney? What are you doing here?” Her ex-husband was the last person she expected to see at her second wedding, and yet the mere sight of him, the sound of his voice, made her stomach flutter in a way her current fiancé never could. “I swear I didn’t invite him,” she whispered to Ted. Decent, reliable, patient, safe, understanding Ted, who stared, not at Barney, but at her, lips pursed with the question he didn’t have to ask.
“I am here,” Barney said, slipping from the pew and advancing down the aisle, “because last night, you called me, sloppy-drunk and sobbing your guts out. You asked me if you’re doing the right thing, marrying Ted. I didn’t have an answer for you then, but I do now. Don’t marry Ted. You’ll mean well, and he’ll mean well, but you’ll feel trapped and you’ll feel guilty because you can’t be what this nice, respectable guy wants you to be. You’ll hate yourself and you’ll hate him. You already hate me, so I don’t have anything to lose.”
Robin shook her head. “I don’t hate you,” she said, her voice a strained whisper. This couldn’t be real. Any minute now, she’d roll over, one of her dogs would lick her face and life could go back to normal, even if she couldn’t begin to guess what that normal would be.
“I hate you.” Ted’s jaw clenched.
Oh yes, definitely real. Damn. Robin eyed the double doors directly behind Barney. She could clear the distance between the wedding arch and those doors in roughly twelve point eight seconds if she kicked off her shoes and hiked up her skirt. Only problem was that she’d have to get by Barney first. Double damn. Either the aisle was shrinking, or Barney was coming walking toward her.
“I wasn’t going to come here.” Barney let out a long breath and rubbed the back of his neck. “I swore I wasn’t going to come here, and when my phone rang last night, I was packing for a week in Tahiti. Then I heard your voice, and everything changed. So, I’m here, and I think you shouldn’t get married to Ted because you should be married to me. I am here because you’re the other half of me and I’m the other half of you. All of our broken places fit together, and they can’t ever fit that way with anyone else.”
Ted’s features pinched, brown eyes widening. “You called Barney last night?”
Robin only nodded.
“You didn’t call me.” Ted turned to fix a paternal stare at Penny and Luke. “Did Robin call me last night? Did one of you not pick up or not give me a message?”
“No, Dad.” Luke answered for both of them. “The only call last night was from Grandpa Clint.” Luke tilted his head toward his grandfather, who’d come armed with acoustic guitar.
Robin let out a long breath. “I called Barney. I was scared and I was sad and I was drunk and I didn’t know what to do. The one thing I knew for sure was that he promised he would always tell me the truth. So I called him, all right? I called my ex-husband the night before my wedding to my future second husband, because marriage is scary and hard and I stink at it.”
“You don’t stink at it.” Barney’s mouth shaped into the slightest of curves, the almost imperceptible shake of his head the last thing Robin needed to see and still maintain any sense of composure.
“Yeah, well, you bailed out of our marriage pretty darned fast. If I was such a great wife, why didn’t you stay? Why didn’t you fight for us?”
Barney raked a hand through his already disheveled hair. “My leaving didn’t have anything to do with your failings as a wife. You were, and are, awesome. You knew what you wanted and where you were going, and I was just,” he paused for a self-deprecating shrug, “I was just me. GNB was gone, my blog was a joke. I wanted to make you happy, and I couldn’t. You deserved better.”
Ted stepped forward, putting himself between Robin and Barney. “Are you seriously trying to talk about your divorce in the middle of my wedding?”
“Our wedding, Ted.” Robin’s voice drew all attention back to her.
Ted’s mouth creased in a frown. “That’s what I said. This is my wedding to you.”
“No.” Robin steeled herself against the fear that rose from deep in her gut. Ted was safe, the fear told her. Dependable. Ted would rescue her from the lonely grind her life had become. Or, another part of her whispered, she could rescue herself. “It’s not.” She slid the diamond ring from her finger then, pressing it into Ted’s hand and closing his fingers about metal and stone. “This doesn’t work between us, Ted, and it never will. I don’t love you that way. We’re friends, really, really good friends, but that’s it. We can’t get married to each other just because you miss Tracy and I miss Barney.”
Barney’s brows flashed upward, blue eyes dark with suppressed hope. “You miss me?”
“You’re an idiot for coming here, you know that?”
“But am I your idiot?”
Robin shoved her bouquet at Lily and turned to face Ted one more time. “What you and Tracy had, that was once in a lifetime. Don’t settle for anything less this time around, okay? Don’t settle for me.” She straightened Ted’s lapel, kissed his cheek and stepped away from the wedding arch. “You will always be my idiot,” she said as she slipped into Barney’s outstretched arms, and she knew then that she was finally, finally home.
Barney folded her into the circle of his embrace, holding onto her like a drowning man would a life raft. Robin buried her face in the place where his neck and shoulder met, the wool of his suit soft and warm beneath her cheek, only looking up when Barney tilted her chin to receive his kiss.
Marshall cleared his throat. “I now pronounce you un-divorced. That’s Barney and Robin,” he added, “not Robin and Ted, who are not married. Everybody got that? Robin and Ted are not married.”
Lily swatted at Marshall with both bouquets, hers and Robin’s, leaving a swath of yellow pollen across Marshall’s black sleeve. “You can’t un-divorce people.”
Marshall shrugged. “I had to say something. Besides, I think they un-divorced themselves.”
“So,” Barney raised one brow and tilted his head in Marshall’s direction. “Is he right? Are we un-divorced now?”
Robin needed no time at all to answer. “Yeah. We’re un-divorced, but I think we should probably get out of here. Clint has his guitar, and he looks twitchy.”
Barney winced. “Good call.” He laced his fingers through hers and gave a supportive squeeze. “Ranjit is waiting outside, and there’s a flight to Vancouver leaving in two hours.”
“Guys.” They both turned at the sound of Ted’s voice. “Take this.” Ted reached into his breast pocket and withdrew a plain white envelope. “The keycard opens the penthouse bridal suite here at the Coronet, and there’s a flight leaving for Jamaica in the morning. When you find a love that comes twice in a lifetime, you shouldn’t have to settle.”
None of them ever had to settle again, for the rest of their lives. Barney and Robin spent the night in the bridal suite, got remarried on the beach in Jamaica, and three years later, stood up for Ted and his new wife at a wedding that everyone involved agreed was legendary and well worth the wait.
There's been much talk in certain HIMYM fan forums about aspects of storytelling and promises mde to viewers/readers. The original "twist" of Ted seeing a girl across a crowded room and dciding she's the girl he's going to marry - but she isn't- got un-twisted by the "twist" at the end of the AU fanfic, where Ted is implied to finally get Robin a couple of decades after he first sets eyes on her. It becomes exactly what it promised not to be in the end, adn that makes me angry, as a viewer, as a romance fan, and as a writer.
If however, we look at it as Ted pointing out his "future bride" across a crowded room to his best friend, Barney, and in the end, Robin does end up happily married, but to Barney, not Ted, now there's a twist. All of the chasing and scheming and longing, and the real reason a romance would never work between Robin and Ted was because Robin was never meant for Ted in the first place. Robin never wanted Ted. Robin was meant for Barney. She wanted Barney.
Ted understanding that, and his supporting Barney and Robin's love, their eventual marriage, led him directly to his own true love, Tracy. Meeting Tracy was easy and effortless and like stepping into the life that had been waiting for Ted all along. He didn't have to make it rain for Tracy, as it was already raining when he met her.
The lesson Ted learns is that he doesn't ave to beat his head against a brick wall to win the love of his life. Love can't be forced. When it's there, when it's right, it happens. It happened wen Lily knocked on the door to a strange dorm room Marshall answered. It happened when Barney and Robin weren't even looking for love, because they were too busy running away from rejection and pain. it happened when Ted let go of an impossible fantasy - Robin did not, and could not ever be what Ted wanted, because what Ted wanted, who he wanted, was Tracy.
That's the lesson I'd want Ted to impart to his kids, as they're coming to an age where they will be interested in exploring romance. Real, true, lasting love can't be rushed. It can't be demanded or manipulated. When it's right, when they are ready, it wil be there, and they don't have to worry about losing it, because real love will last through whatever life brings.
This is where, if it were my story, Tracy would come into the room, chiding Ted for taking so long and ask him if he's told the kids yet.
Luke and Penny would assure Tracy that Ted told them everything.
Tracy would look surprised: that's their reaction? They're not even a little excited about such big news? Not disgusted at their parents? Not embarrassed?
What big news? Why would they be disgusted or embarrassed?
Ted takes Tracy's hand and tells her he was getting to that.
Tracy rolls her eyes at Ted and confesses they are having another baby. The later in life pregnancy wasn't planned, but they're happy about it, and that this new baby is going to grow up in an extended family full of love.
A family, Ted puts in, that started when Uncle Barney met Aunt Robin, or actually, it was before that, when Aunt Lily met Uncle Marshall. No, if they're going to the very beginning, tat would be when Ted met Uncle Marshall.
Tracy stops him here. At this rate, the new baby will be born by before Ted decides when the family started, and then he'll have to start all over for him or her. Breakfast is ready. Tracy made pancakes, and those pancakes are going to sign selections from Rent.
"Seasons of Love" plays softly in the background as the Mosbys head off for breakfast, t he focus now on the upcoming addition to the family. It's implied that Marshall, Lily, Barney, Robin and assorted cousins, both two and four legged, will be arriving later in the day.
Everybody else got their happy endings. Barney and Robin stayed married, and ellie was their miracle baby, wanted and welcome, even though Barney and Robin were fine with and having a great time as a childfree couple. Ellie becomes a very well-travelled little girl, having set foot on four continents before her tenth birthday. Marshall and Lily combined work and family life. Marshall gets to do a lot of good for a lot of people as a judge, and Lily works from home as an artist, her family and her creativity surrounding her every day. The group would meet regularly, adults, kids, dogs, and they all live happily ever after, weathering the ups and downs of life. The final shot would be of Ted, Tracy, Marshall, Lily, Barney and Robin on that front porch, looking out at their kids and possibly grandkids, playing in the summer dusk. They all made it. They're all happy, and they all agree that the best years are yet to come. Roll credits.
That, for me, would have been a fulfillment of the promises we were made in the early days of HIMYM. Not only the romances, but the friendships and the individual character arcs. My favorite piece of writing advice of all time comes from a college English professor: a story is the journey of a main character going from wanting something to either getting it or accepting that they will never get it. When either of those things happen, the story is over. If that character is going to have a different story, then they have to want something else.
Given Ted as our protagonist, we know he wants to meet the love of his life. Standard sticom setup would have that be the first girl he notices in the pilot. We were promised that wasn't the case, and yes, Robin was not the mother, but Penny, Ted's own daughter, lampshaded the problem. Tracy, the putative heroine, was barely in the story, which was all about Ted wanting Robin. Sure enough, Ted somehow finds that blue French horn, and Robin is somehow in her old apartment again (why on earth would she want to live there again?) and golly gee, it's like the last quarter century never happened. Only it did. Ted's search for love ended when he met Tracy, the mother from the series title. If that wasn't the point, if that wasn't the case, then the series has the wrong title and we were promised the wrong thing.
Word count: 633
Summary: A few years down the road, Barney and Robin get their stories straight while an important meeting looms. Pure fluff.
Standard disclaimers apply: I do not own HIMYM or anything vaguely related to it. This is a tribute.
"I'm going to say this is all Ted's fault." Barney straightened his tie and shifted in the orange plastic chair.
"How is this Ted's fault?"
"Whose permanent markers were involved here? And who leaves permanent markers lying out in the open where any visitors with impulse control issues can get at them? Architects, that's who. Mark my words, what lies behind that door," Barney jabbed a finger at the door next to their chairs with dramatic vehemence, "could have been completely avoided if Ted Mosby kept better track of his tools. I am deeply, deeply ashamed as well as aghast."
Robin pretended an intense interest in the contents of her purse and fought a losing battle with the flutter in her stomach. Even now, Barney's indignant-yet-misguided-man-on-a-mission routine had her wanting to pull him into the nearest closet and have her way with him. There wasn't time for that, though. Any minute now, the scariest door in the world would open and they'd have to pretend to be rational adults. "Yeah, that would work, if nobody involved had ever met you before. What's your plan B?"
"My plan B? More like our plan B. Not planning on throwing me under the bus here, are you? Because if you're running out on this meeting, I'm going with you." Barney jerked his head in the direction of the door. "That room haunts my nightmares. The artwork..." his voice trailed off into an incomprehensible shiver.
"We can't run," Robin said, even though she'd entertained that very possibility at least a dozen times on their way here. "Lily knows where we live, and she has a key. If we don't stay and face her now, she'll only let herself in while we're sleeping and take the knob off our bedroom door until she gets what she wants.”
Barney's brow furrowed. "In that case, Plan B will include writing the school a big fat check."
Robin handed him the checkbook. "We did produce the kid who used permanent markers to draw handlebar mustaches on all the faces in the US Presidents posters during naptime. Don't laugh, it's not funny." The admonition came as second nature, but she matched Barney's smile with her own. They had to admit, the kid had an amazing grasp of perspective for a five year old, and they would have gotten away with it if he hadn’t signed his name. "Here," she held out a small red and white tin. "Take a breath mint. I can still smell chili dog on your breath. Did you really have to ask for double onions?"
"Can you let that go? I had a craving." Barney took the tin, popped two mints in his mouth and closed the lid. "I cite rule 86 of the Dad Code. The modern father is both involved and evolved, sharing all aspects of parenthood. When we are pregnant, we have cravings."
Idiot, Robin thought, but she wouldn't have him any other way. "How is it, again, that this is the second pregnancy where you get cravings before I do?"
"Involved and evolved," Barney said again. "I tell you, we are going to revolutionize parenting."
Robin lay a hand over the small curve of her belly. "Why do I feel like I need to apologize to this kid already?"
"More like for her. You think our firstborn is the only Sherbatsky-Stinson spawn who will ever pull something like this? He’s going to teach her everything he knows, and they both have us for parents. This school,” Barney added as the door swung open and Lily waved them inside, “is doomed. What do you think, four zeroes on that check?”
“Four sounds good,” Robin agreed, her gaze settling on the precisely drawn navy blue handlebar mustache perched above Lily’s scowl. “And it’s definitely Ted’s fault.”