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Fanfic: Catching the Clock 9.21, Part Two


Across the church in her room, his bride isn’t as sure. 

No matter how much Robin has tried to tell herself to calm down and that she’s just being irrational, she still can’t shake the fear.  On the contrary, in the past half an hour it’s grown to out-of-control proportions.

Maybe she shouldn’t even try to be calm.  Because if there is an issue she needs to figure it out.  Now.  That’s the whole ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ part of it.

And Gary Blauman’s sudden appearance hasn’t helped matters any or done anything to ease her mind.  Just the opposite, as a matter of fact.

The past few years she’s seen Blauman several times in passing while visiting Barney at work.  But he’s more the guys’ acquaintance than hers.  The last significant encounter she had with him was the night of Ted’s party.  And that’s not exactly the best memory to recall at a time like this…..



April 2009

It’s a Friday night in New York City and the gang’s having a party at the apartment to celebrate the good fortune of Ted being fired so that now he’s free to start his own company, Mosbius Designs.  Though they’d been planning the party for two weeks the gang swiftly depletes in numbers when the day actually arrives.  Marshall has to stay home and take care of Lily who’s down sick in bed with “the sniffles”, and after only a couple weeks Robin’s still adjusting to her grueling new schedule and was falling asleep in the living room waiting for the guests to arrive until Ted told her it was okay to just go to bed.  Now it’s down to just him and Barney and a room full of assorted well-wishers, most of them friends of Ted’s or people he knew from his brief time at GNB or from his old architectural firm. 

Forty-five minutes into the party, once a good number of people have arrived, Barney gives a toast to honor the man of the hour.  “To Ted’s complete inability to follow directions and design a simple ETR room, without which he wouldn’t have been fired leading to the current pursuit of his dream….which he hopefully won’t blow in a similar fashion.  To Ted!”

The others are either used to Barney or already buzzed enough not to notice the eccentric nature of his toast and they all just raise their glasses, cheering and repeating in kind, “To Ted!”

As they’re finishing the group toast, Barney sees Blauman in the crowd and waves to him, motioning that he’ll meet him across the room. 

Meanwhile in her bedroom, Robin has quickly discovered that as wonderful as it sounds – and it sounds heavenly – the prospect of a good solid ten hours of uninterrupted sleep with no need to get up before the dawn is just not going to happen for her right now.  She couldn’t even keep her eyes open an hour ago on the couch, but after forcing herself to get up, use the bathroom, go into her room and change into her pajamas she was already feeling more awake then before.  Then just as she was starting to relax again the party began to pick up.  Now after rolling over for the tenth time and even putting her pillow over her head it’s become clear there’s no way she’s getting any sleep when there are this many people loudly talking and cheering in the apartment.  As a result, she decides to take refuge in the one quiet place left.  Grabbing a spare pillow, slipping her iPod into the pocket of her pajama pants, and wrapping a blanket over her shoulders she opens her bedroom door to make a beeline through the party and up to the solitude of the roof.

“So Ted….What’s his situation?” Blauman asks Barney from the place they’ve managed to carve out near the kitchen table.  “Does he get around a lot like you?  I mean, is he looking for something serious or does he just want a little fun?”

“Ted’s a good bro, the best.  He thinks he wants something serious but dude’s still getting his life together, as this whole party attests.  He’d deny it but he’s as up for ‘a little fun’,” Barney repeats with air quotes, “as I am if the opportunity presents itself.”

Blauman brings his hand down on Barney’s shoulder, grinning.  “I read you loud and clear.”

Barney’s not sure what that means and before he can ask he notices Robin come out of her bedroom, snag a bottle of beer, and head up to the roof.  From that moment on the only thought in his head – both heads actually, what up! – is getting out of this conversation as quickly as possible so he can join her up there.  It’s the early spring, a very temperate night with clear skies and a blanket full of stars.  In an atmosphere like that, the two of them alone, one thing could lead to another…..

“Listen, Blauman, there are a mess of hotties here tonight.  I’m sure you wanna go talk to one of them.”  He looks around for the nearest hot woman to palm him off on.  “For instance….that girl over there talking to Ted,” he recommends, totally selling his bro out and failing in his wingman duties but he has a prospect of his own to look after – the prospect – so it’s every man for himself.

Blauman shoots him a confused look.  “No, I….Barney, I thought you realized I’m – ”  Before he can finish the sentence Barney’s already gone, so with a shrug he sets his sights on his target for the night.  Because an opportunity is just about to present itself.  “Is that the Teddy Roosevelt biography?” he asks, walking over to Ted.

Up on the roof, Robin’s sitting leaning back against the low wall already several swigs into her beer with her earbuds in, her eyes closed, and her head laid back on the pillow she’s propped up against the hard brick, just trying to relax.  She’s doesn’t even hear Barney climbing up onto the roof until he’s already over the wall and standing there next to her.  “Hey,” she says surprised, removing her earbuds and resting them against her shoulders.  “What are you doing up here?”

“Following you,” he replies as brazen as Barney has always been.  Or used to be.  Still is most of the time….it’s just that sometimes there are these moments where it feels like maybe the both of them are a little unsure of what they’re doing. 

But this is apparently not one of them, as he boldly crouches down to sit beside her, ignoring the fact that he hasn’t been asked.  It’s a small detail, really; they both know she would have invited him to join her anyway.

Barney gazes over at Robin bathed in the combination of moonlight and New York City lights and she’s positively stunning.  Her long dark hair is flickering gently in the soft breeze and she’s wearing these pale pink pajama pants with some kind of subtle flowering ivy trailing down in vertical stripes.  She has on a slightly darker pink and blessedly clinging – with no bra underneath – long sleeve top.  She’s got a blanket over her shoulders but when the wind blows just right he still catches the outline of erect nipple.  She looks soft and feminine and like absolutely everything he wants sitting right there within arm’s reach.

But he doesn’t reach because she isn’t his to reach for.  Not that he wants her to be his….Or maybe he does.  He doesn’t know exactly what he wants anymore.  He only knows it begins with his lips against hers.  That much he’s sure of.

Since he can’t reach for her, he teases her gently instead, hoping to strike up some of their banter he enjoys so much.  “It’s kinda weird the way I keep coming up on rooftops and finding you in your pajamas,” he remarks, referring back to last November when she was staying with Marshall and Lily shooting empties on their roof and he came up to join her, daring to broach the topic of what almost happened on Shelter Island – and he got to hold her and be held by her under the guise of learning how to shoot.  “Not that I’m complaining.  A woman in pajamas is one step closer to bed.  But still, pajamas on a Friday night at ten o’clock?  It looks like living with Ted’s rubbing off in all the wrong ways.”

“I’m not becoming lame like Ted,” she answers, a tad defensive at the very idea.  “But I have been up since three in the morning, and the loud and cramped party downstairs chased me out of my bedroom, so I think that’s a valid excuse.”

He tilts his head in concession to her point, taking the bottle from her hand – again without asking – and drinking a healthy mouthful.  But she doesn’t protest.  Surprisingly, she doesn’t mind at all.

Barney takes another swig and then hands the bottle back to her, picking up an earbud off her shoulder.  “What are you listening to?” he asks before moving close enough to put the earbud into his ear and see for himself.  Robin picks up the other and puts it back into her ear and they sit like that for several minutes, just sharing the earbuds and passing the beer back and forth until the song goes off.  Then he takes the earbud back out to question her.  “Beyoncé?”

“What’s wrong with that?” she asks, dropping her earbud again too.  “It was an iTunes top download.  She’s hot.  Everyone loves Beyoncé.  I thought she’d be on your list of ‘Celebrities I Wanna Bang’.”

“True, true, and true.  I’m not knocking it,” he clarifies, “but….I don’t know.  It seems like you’re a little down.  And those circumstances call for a different musical choice.”

“Such as?” she inquires, already guessing he’s going to name some kind of 80s hair band.

He thinks about it for a second and decides, “The Scorpions.”  Then he proceeds to sing the rest.  “Here I am.  Rock you like a hurricane – are you ready, baby?” he purrs giving the final line all he’s got, which ends up being equal parts amusing and seductive.  When she laughs he smiles and it spurs him on to continue with more.  “Or you could always go with classic Aerosmith.  “Just gimme a kiss,” he sings again, now with air guitar.  “Like this!”  He leans in closer, making a kiss at her.

That has her laughing even harder, causing him to laugh too, until their eyes meet and they’re so close together and the laughter dies down, replaced by something else entirely.  Robin bites her lip, smiling and shaking her head, and looks away.  “You’re an idiot,” she says softly.

Barney ignores that; the words were said too sweetly to be a true slight.  “Or, you know, you could just keep it simple and go with Poison, “Talk Dirty To Me”.”  This time he purposefully captures her gaze.  “You’re good at that.”

Robin feels a flush spread down her neck.  “That’s not true.  When we slept together you were the one talking dirty to me, saying how wet I – ”  Catching herself, she stops.  “Never mind,” she mumbles.

Barney’s eyes dance at her response.  “I wasn’t talking about that night.  I meant the time not long after we first met when I was trying to get out of a date with a fake emergency call that you volunteered to make, but instead you moaned to me through the phone, calling me ‘Daddy’ and ‘Big Boy’.  It was because of the way you mocked me for lack of creativity that inspired me to come up with the Lemon Law – still one of my best to this day.  So your talent for dirty talk is not only a turn-on, it’s also a muse.”

She smiles and he presses his luck a little further.  “I wasn’t thinking about the night you and I slept together.  I thought it never happened?  But now that you mention it….you have a good memory.  I did say that.  But as I recall, neither one of us did much talking that night.”  She looks away again and he can see that he’s made her blush, actually succeeded in making Robin Scherbatsky blush.

“Anyway,” she changes the subject, “back to criticizing my music choice.”

“I wasn’t criticizing, just suggesting something off my Get Psyched mix, although maybe for a situation like this I need to make a Sleepy Time mix.”

“Isn’t it in your best interest to keep the girls awake?” she teases him now, taking another swig of beer.

“Ha-ha,” he remarks, reaching into her pants pocket – a move which makes her go absolutely still – and snatching out her iPod.  “What else do you have on here?”

Now that his hand in no longer in her pants Robin recovers normal use of her body, putting her earbud back in as she watches him flip through her music collection before eventually deciding on a song.  He puts the other earbud into his ear again too and she passes him what’s now become their bottle as they sit silently together listening to her music.     

After a while Barney moves in closer to reduce the tug of the cord on his earbud.  In doing so his hip and thigh press into hers and her heart gives a little flutter at the contact.  She’s immensely attracted to him; there’s no denying it.  And what’s worse, it’s not just a physical thing.  She feels – and that’s terrifying.  But like it or not, she does.  She feels happier and more alive when she’s with him, even doing simple things like listening to music together.  It’s like he’s gotten inside.  He got a hold on her heart without her permission and now he’s in there and there’s nothing she can do about it.

He said Beyoncé wasn’t appropriate for a time like this and yet the lyrics of the song they were listening to earlier come floating unbidden back through her mind:   Remember those walls I built? Well, baby, they’re tumbling down.  And they didn’t even put up a fight.  They didn’t even make a sound. That’s exactly what’s happened to her.  He’s gotten past her walls without her even realizing.  He’s staked out a piece of her heart and now and she can’t get him out no matter how hard she tries. 

It’s the most conflicting feeling because as much as she enjoys it when she’s with him, and there’s no denying that she does, she still wants him out – out of her heart for good.  Feeling things for anyone is a risk, but feeling something for Barney Stinson is suicide.  So she acts counter-offensively, removing her earbud and inching back away.  “How come you’re not downstairs picking up some woman?”

It’s an abrupt turn in the conversation.  Barney’s not sure what caused this shift in mood but he can sense it all the same. 

“There has to be a 7 or a drunk 8 down there,” she asserts, attempting to get back to safer, bro-like repartee.

“First of all, I only pull 10s,” he begins, following suit to her change in pace.

Robin laughs out loud at that.  “I’ve known you for three and a half years, and wingwomaned for you.  I know that’s not true.”

“I occasionally sleep with lessers,” he admits, holding up a finger to emphasize this next important point, “but I do that as charity work, because 6s – or 5s with a big rack – need to be boned too.

Her eyebrows pull down in a disgusted look but there’s still a smile on her face.  “Nice.” 

“But tonight I’ll admit I was bored with it,” Barney tells her candidly.

“Bored with your so-called ‘charity work’?  Or bored with the 7s and 8s?”

“Bored with the whole scene down there.  If I wanted to I could get any of the women at Ted’s party, easily.” 

Robin nods at that.  He could seduce just about any woman at any time.  She has no doubt he’d have little trouble getting each and any one of the women down in the apartment to have sex with him.

“It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.  There’s no challenge to it, no thrill.  It’s just a numbers game at this point,” he confides, thinking of his list of not quite two hundred that he still needs to finish to show up Matthew Panning, so at least there’s that.  “I’d rather be up here with you.  You’re a worthy intellectual opponent, more fun to spend time with, and you’re better than all those girls downstairs put together.”

Robin feels that flush creeping down her chest again and she can’t help the flattered smile, but her eyes regard him with charmed suspicion.  “And you can always hook up with a girl later,” she shrewdly ascertains.

That hadn’t been on his mind, but he won’t pass up this chance to amp up the flirtation between them, especially since just a few minutes ago she voluntarily brought up the night they slept together.  “I’d like to hook up with – ”  He falters, not quite bold enough to say ‘you’, and settles on “ – someone, yes.  If she’d let me…..I know exactly what I’d do with her if she’d let me.  Things that would make our eyes cross in pleasure, things that would make her feel sensations she didn’t even know she was capable of feeling, sensations so good she wonders if she can stand a second more – and that’s when she crosses the plateau into something even more pleasurable still.”

The look in his eyes as he describes it is so dead sexy Robin wants to offer herself as the hookup, wants to pull him to her by his tie and kiss him senseless, climb onto his lap and make him remember how good it was between them.  Rein it in, Scherbatsky, she admonishes herself and instead wonders aloud, “How are you gonna get the hookup you want if you’re up here talking to me?”

“Who says the two are mutually exclusive?”  Barney holds her eyes steadily, studying her carefully as he makes the next thinly veiled insinuation.  “Maybe I can have both.” 

A beat passes between them while his statement hangs heavy in the air.  He’s so close to her she wouldn’t even have to use his tie; all she’d have to do is lean in.  And he smells so incredible that again her mind conjures up the image of him having both with her, right now. 

But she pulls herself out of it, fairly certain that’s not even what Barney is suggesting.  They flirt a little, sure, but since the falling out with Ted last year Barney doesn’t blatantly hit on her anymore…..Or maybe it has nothing to do with Ted and it’s just because he’s now had her already and consequently lost any further interest.  Whatever the reason, she knows she’s the one whose mind has taken a dirty turn here and she has a long drink of beer to distract herself and regain control.  “Maybe.  But if you wait too long all the 7s and 8s will be gone.”  He’ll have to settle for a 6 or maybe even a 5 without a big rack, which would be unthinkable for him.

Robin’s ‘maybe’ was noncommittal, but it still leaves Barney soaring in victory of the fact that she didn’t say no.  He wants her to know that he’s willing to sit tight with that for now; he’s willing to wait if it means he can get the ‘yes’ later.  “Even if we stay right here all night just talking, that’s fine by me.  I think I can eventually have both.”

“And what if you can’t?” she ponders aloud.  That’s been the interesting question for her.  In the years that she’s known him Barney has made it clear that her friendship does mean a lot to him.  She knows he cares about her.  But how does that stack up in relation to his own pursuits?  How would things shake out if the two were in opposition to each other?  Would he put being a good friend to her above the easy booty call waiting downstairs?

“Then I still want to stay here with you,” he answers with no hesitation at all.  Even if he can’t ‘have her’ have her, just being with her right now is still more interesting than the women downstairs.

“You don’t mean that,” she laughs doubtfully.

“I do mean that,” Barney verifies in that tone he uses when he’s trying to convince her she’s the second most awesome person he knows only she just doesn’t seem to believe him.  “Robin, you’re my bro – nah, you’re higher than a mere ordinary bro like Marshall or even Ted.  You’re my laser tag partner.  You frequent the cigar club with me.  We’ve been to Bang Central Station together,” he adds suggestively, and it makes her grin like he knew it would.  “There is nothing more important to me than finding out why you’re really up here.”

Robin’s caught off guard by that.  “What do you mean?”

He gives her a look.  “Come on.  You’re not just tired.  If you were that tired you’d have fallen asleep even with the noise.  I’ve seen you dead tired.  I’ve seen you fall asleep eating ribs.  I once saw you fall asleep into your pancakes.”

She frowns, quietly admitting, “I found syrup dried into my hair later that day.”  Taking another long drink, she passes him the bottle and he does the same. 

“This isn’t about being tired.”  Barney bumps his shoulder into hers, giving her a gentle smile.  “Talk to me.  Tell me what’s going on with you.  I mean it.  I truly want to know.” 

“Really?” she asks, still skeptical.

“Yes, really,” he rolls his eyes.  “Geez, Scherbatsky.  Who knew you’d turned so girly on me?”  He gives her back the bottle and waits until she looks up at him.  “You can start by telling me all about how your new show is going.”

Robin’s genuinely surprised and pleased to hear him taking an interest.  Much like her dad, none of them seem to take an interest in what she’s doing even though it’s important to her.  They couldn’t even pay attention to one of her shows.  “You want to hear about Come On, Get Up New York!?” she asks hopefully.

“Sure I do,” Barney encourages her.  “The episode where you delivered the baby was impressive, but earlier this week when you had that International Pride day and you sang the lyrics of “Boom Boom Pow” in French for our neighbors in the Great White North, that was TV gold.”

“You do watch my show!” Robin exclaims ecstatically.

Seeing how thrilled it’s made her pulls the rest of the truth from him.  “I TIVO every episode.”  She smiles at him breathtakingly, but he has to qualify it just a little to protect his pride lest she discover his dirty little secret of how much he adores her.  “I have to make sure our video resume landed you a position that’s doing you justice.”

“Well you might want to cancel your season pass then,” she says chagrined, draining the rest of bottle.  And now it’s his turn to ask her what she means by that.  “It’s so early in the morning, for one thing.  Who’s even watching?  You may be my only viewer.  And….I guess it’s just not what I thought it would be.  It’s really not that different than where I was before, and I – ”  Realizing she’s blathering on, Robin stops herself.  She’d love to unburden herself to Barney.  She’d love for him to really care.  But he left the party because he was bored and listening to her complaining has got to be even worse than that.  “But it doesn’t matter.  It’s stupid…..I’m sure you don’t want to sit here and hear all about my problems, particularly when you could go back downstairs and get some.” 

“No, Robin,” he admonishes, a hint of gentle exasperation sneaking in.  “I want to hear about your stuff.  I want to help you.  I want to hear all about it.”

She lifts her empty bottle, shaking it.  “I’ve run out of beer, and you never even had any, and I know you don’t – ”

“That’s no thing; I can go on a beer run,” Barney declares, already standing up.  “You’ve had a long day, so just stay here.  I’ll go down and grab us some beer and I’ll be right back.”

“Are you sure?” Robin asks, unable to keep the smile from creeping up on her lips at the thought that Barney is choosing her over a room full of available, easy sex.

“Positive.  Barney Stinson is as much an expert on work-related affairs as he is on bedroom affairs,” he says with a devilish grin.  “Whatever it is, I’ve got the answer.  Just wait right here.”  He gives her one last smile before disappearing back over the wall. 

In his wake Robin settles back against the pillow, laughing a little too herself.  There’s no refuting how excited and happy she is to have him with her tonight really listening and caring about her issues.  She’s never waited for a man in her life.  And as dangerous as waiting on Barney Stinson is – as any of her emotions and feelings relying on his appearance is – she can’t help feeling he’s the only man who ever has been worth waiting for.  And that damned Beyoncé song haunts her again.  Maybe Barney was right; maybe it was a bad choice, because the lyrics flood her heart again:  It’s like I’ve been awakened.  Every rule I had you’re breaking.  It’s a risk that I’m taking.  But I ain’t never gonna shut you out.

It’s not by choice, she knows.  She’s just incapable of shutting him out; she’s tried.  So for now she just gives in to it, laying her head back, putting the earbuds in, and going along for the ride with the very scary feeling that Beyoncé may be right about Barney being everything she needs and more.

Downstairs, on his way hurrying back from the kitchen, Barney runs smack into Ted.   “Dude, you’ve got to get rid of your co-worker,” he stresses, refusing at this point to identify him as his own friend.

Barney glances over to the couch where Ted was sitting.  On it now are just that same girl he was hitting on earlier and Gary Blauman.  “Blauman?” Barney questions.  “You can’t out-game Blauman?”

Ted bristles.  “He knows a lot about Teddy Roosevelt, okay?  You still work with the guy.  Just get rid of him.  I’ve got a decent shot at sex here and the girl’s a solid 8.  You’ve got to appreciate that.  Please, Barney,” he takes to begging when his other tactics didn’t work.  “From one wingman to another.  Every second away from her I’m losing ground.” 

“Look, bro, I would,” Barney answers reluctantly, “but I’ve got a thing going I’ve got to get back to.”

“Ahh, I get it.  Quid pro bro,” Ted answers slyly, thinking Barney’s trying to blackmail him into arranging his own hookup.  “Well, here…”  He hastily scans the room, grabbing the arm of the blonde secretary walking by who used to work with him at his old firm.  “Ashli, have you met Barney?” Ted says, pushing the woman at him and walking back to the couch.

And because timing is a bitch, Ted’s old work friend happens to be clingy, and slutty, and too dim to take a hint.  She instantly gloms onto him and he can’t seem to tactfully extricate himself.  He’s still trying to work his way out of that mess, finally opting to just be blunt despite any ensuing anger and just tell her he’s with someone, when Blauman comes over before he can.

“Barney, you’ve got to help me out.”  Blauman pulls him slightly aside.  “I’m trying to arrange a little somethin-somethin but that’s really hard to do when there’s a third party hanging around.  If you could just distract – ”

“I can’t.  I’m busy right now,” Barney answers tersely, tired of this whole ridiculous situation and impatient to get back to Robin.

“I see,” Blauman smirks, looking towards the blonde at Barney’s right.  “I help you, you help me.”  Thinking he’s doing him a solid, Blauman pulls the blonde back over and starts talking Barney up to her.

No,” Barney whines beneath his breath.  “Will everyone just stop helping me?”

Back up on the roof it’s been three songs and ten minutes and Robin’s been waiting and waiting, wondering what’s taking so long to grab two beers.  Finally she gets restless and heads down to check for herself.  Climbing back in the apartment, the first thing she sees is Barney.  His back is to the window but she’d recognize that silhouette and suit – and the man in it – anywhere.  The second thing she notices is the scantily clad, bleached blonde woman hanging all over him, enthralled at his every word. 

The stab of jealousy, disillusionment, and injured feelings shouldn’t be there….but it is.  “Of course,” Robin mutters bitterly.  Because she should have known better and she’s got no one to blame but herself. 

She swiftly changes direction and heads into her room before he can see her, heads back to bed disappointed. 

What was she thinking imagining Barney Stinson would ever put her first?

****

The next morning even after showering, changing into a pair of comfy sweats for a quiet day at home – a habit she falls into whenever she’s had a setback and is depressed – and blow-drying her hair, Ted, Gary Blauman from GNB, and the woman whose name she ultimately discovered is Steph, are still sitting on the couch locked in some sort of battle of wills, or hormones. 

Whatever it is, Robin’s in no mood to put up with it, still stinging from what happened last night and hating herself for believing for even a second that it would turn out otherwise, and she just ignores them.  Grabbing the paper, she pours herself a bowl of cereal and sits down to eat her breakfast as if they aren’t even there.  Although when Ted has a sleep deprived outburst of “Would you just pick one of us already so I can either have sex or go to sleep?!” she can’t refrain from replying “Smooth, bro” around her cornflakes.

Not surprisingly, Steph leaves after that and Ted goes off to bed to get some sleep just as he said.  Giving up, Blauman too is about to head home but asks to use their restroom first.  As soon as Blauman closes the bathroom door, that’s the moment Barney picks to let himself into the apartment.

Finding Robin alone, which is what he’d hoped for, Barney heads over to stand beside her.  “Hey,” he says cautiously, not sure if he should sound happy to see her or completely indifferent as he has no clue why she took off on him the night before.  “So what happened last night?”

Robin scoffs indignantly at that.  “You’re asking me?” 

It’s clear by her tone that he’s done something wrong and she’s miffed at him, though he has no clue what his transgression was.

“But, hey, it’s no big deal,” she continues, making it very clear that it is.  “I’m the one who told you to go back to the party and score your 8 for that hookup you wanted, so easy breezy.”  She gets up and walks away from him, brings her bowl to the sink.  “I just thought since you told me I was more important and asked me to wait that you’d be coming back.  But that’s probably a classic play, right?  How to deal with the overemotional talker.”

“No,” Barney answers dumbfounded, following her into the kitchen.  “Where would you get an idea like that?”

“When I finally got wise and came downstairs and saw you with your latest conquest,” she replies, brushing past him to walk into the living room.  “But that’s okay.  You ditched me for some bimbo, so whatever,” she shrugs.  “You’re Barney Stinson; what can I expect?  I mean I thought it was ‘bros before hos’, but you know…”

Now Barney understands and he feels hot, niggling dread creeping through him as he crosses into the living room to her.  They came so close to a breakthrough last night, he can’t let her think that about him.  He has to get back on her good side again.  “Robin, I swear, I didn’t ditch you for the bimbo.  I didn’t even have sex with her.  I promise you that’s not what happened.”

“It wasn’t what it looked like?” Robin mocks.  “Come on, Barney, you can do better than that.”

“We didn’t have sex.  That’s not what you saw.  Ted thought he was being a good wingman by hooking me up with this girl he knew.  I was just trying to get rid of her so I could get back to you.  I even had our two beers in my hand – did you see that?” 

“Yeah, one for you and one for her.”

“No, I swear,” Barney promises, stepping closer and putting his hand on her arm.  “They were for us.  Leave no man behind and all of that,” he reminds her, referencing their very first night broing out.  “I still believe it, Robin.  I wasn’t ditching you.  I got away from her as politely as possible, but when I went back up to the roof you’d already gone.  I came back downstairs, tried your room, but the door was locked.  I thought you ditched me…..And then I told Ted I was leaving and I went home.  Alone,” he clarifies before she even bothers asking because he knows that’s her next remark.

Robin doesn’t know what to believe anymore.  She knows what she saw, but his story is plausible.  And he sounds so earnest and sincere.  But with Barney – habitual liar that he is – that usually means nothing.  Still, he hasn’t made a habit of lying to her.  With her, he’s usually brutally honest about every detail of a hookup, far more than she cares to hear.  “You really didn’t have sex with that girl?” she asks him uncertainly.  “Tell me the truth, Barney.”

Pinning her with his eyes looking squarely into hers, he vows, “I didn’t have sex with her.  Honestly.  Standing you up and abandoning you there just to bang some random girl, that’s not something I would do.”  Robin gives him a pointed look.  “Alright, it’s totally something I would do,” he admits with a smile but says the next part seriously.  “But not to you…..Okay?”

Robin slowly smiles now too, closing her eyes in embarrassment for overreacting.  “Okay.”  She’s got to get a hold of herself before whatever this weird thing is she’s feeling or having or whatever it is with Barney starts making her act really crazy.  “You’re right.  I’m sorry.  I should’ve given you the benefit of the doubt.”

“It is bros before hos, Robin.  Always.”  Barney holds up his fist for her to bump and when she does, along with one of their patented explosions, he grins, laughing.  “That’s more like it.”  He grabs her arm and pulls her down on the couch to sit with him.  “Now tell me what you were going to tell me last night.  Tell me all about what’s going on at work.  Take your time; I have the whole day free.”

Robin’s eyes light up with mischief.  “I’ll get to that, but first let me tell you how pathetically Ted blew a sure thing this morning.”

“Ted can’t even manage to bang a sure thing?  Imagine that.”  Barney shakes his head. 

“Oh this was a good one too,” she giggles, resting her hand on his arm.  “You only missed it by like ten minutes.”

Barney turns to her, grinning in anticipation, when Blauman comes walking back out of the bathroom. 

“Oh hey, Barney,” Blauman greets him.

Robin looks up, annoyed at the interruption.  She’d honestly forgotten the man was still here.

“Hey, Blauman,” Barney responds, equally lacking enthusiasm.

“I bet you had quite a time last night,” Blauman snickers. 

Barney can see it all before it even happens, like staring at a house of cards and watching as someone swipes a hand across it, knocking them all down.  There’s nothing he can do to stop it, only brace himself for what’s to come.

“We all heard you doing that girl in the bathroom.  It’s better than I got, that’s for sure.  It took me all night to realize I was barking up the wrong tree.  But you….congratulates, man.”  He raises his hand for a high five.  “It sounded like a good time was had by all.” 

It feels to Robin like someone’s just thrown a bucket of ice water on her.  It’s that much of a shock to the system – discombobulating, outrageous and disgusting all rolled into one.   “So let me get this straight,” she says, standing up and stepping away from Barney to face Blauman eye to eye.  “You’re saying Barney had sex with some girl in my bathroom last night.”

“Yeah,” Blauman says, confused.  He doesn’t know what’s going on but he’s aware of the change in the room.  “Some friend of Ted’s, I guess.”

“I see,” she nods, staring daggers at Barney.

“I’m just gonna go,” Blauman mutters awkwardly before taking off, but no one pays him any mind.

It’s obvious to Barney that he’s caught in a lie, but not all of it was a lie.  Most of it wasn’t.  He only took the easy sex in the bathroom after he saw that Robin had gone and it felt like a rejection from her.  He had no idea that she’d actually come downstairs and gotten the wrong idea.  He really hadn’t ditched her for the bimbo; that was the important part.  But this morning she was already peeved and he knew that if she found out the rest she’d be mad or, worse still, disappointed in him.  He didn’t want either, so he lied.  “Okay.  I did have sex with her.  But that was only after you’d gone to bed.  I didn’t stand you up so I could be with her, and I did leave alone.  It was only – ”

“Barney, just go home.”  Robin turns her back on him, walking to her room.  “I don’t want to hear any more from you,” she says a second before closing the door.

****

The next day he finds her in the apartment again, waits until Ted leaves, and then apologizes to her candidly, explaining that he’d only lied because he didn’t want to risk their friendship with her getting the wrong idea and thinking he’d abandoned her for ready sex, because that wasn’t how it happened at all. 

Barney is so serious and pained while he’s saying it that Robin knows right away he’s genuinely telling the true this time. 

“So we’re good?” Barney asks nervously.  “You’re not mad at me anymore?”

“Yes, we’re good,” Robin smiles.  And they are.  But as friends.  She can’t allow herself to even momentarily consider the idea of anything more.  Because believing him before still makes her feel like one of his gullible pickups.  And it bothers her – hurts her, to tell the truth – the ease with which he could lie right to her face, and so sincerely too.  Her, of all people.  They are the two outsiders and she’s always felt like they have this understanding between them.  But the fact that he wouldn’t be honest and straightforward with her – and then lied about lying – makes her wonder if he’s even capable of telling the absolute truth.  And that thought makes it too scary to entertain the idea of ever being anything more than friends.



Robin runs a hand over her face as she pulls herself from the memory, watching her reflection in the mirror, a picture perfect bride wearing a very troubled expression.

It wasn’t so much the sex that bugged her that morning.  Yes, she was jealous, but she’d felt at least vaguely that way about all of Barney’s conquests for a while at that point.  Whenever she felt that way she’d just remind herself they didn’t mean anything to him and that helped a lot.  But regardless of jealousy, or envy, or wanting it to be her, or whatever it was, they weren’t even remotely together.  He could sleep with whoever he wanted, wherever he wanted, and she couldn’t rightly be mad at him for that.  But it sucked that he hadn’t been there for her while he was off on his own interests – because no matter what he said she couldn’t believe he hadn’t enjoyed the girl’s flirtations more than he let on when he went back and slept with her later that night.  And she hated that he’d lie to her about it that way.

Robin puts her head all the way into her hands now, closing her eyes and reminding herself that was four years ago.  Barney’s changed.  They both have. 


…..But has there been enough change, she wonders.  Because that’s kind of the same thing that happened when she called him to help her and he didn’t come to the park because he was too busy off having his fun.

Dear god, she wishes he would have just come through for her that day, or somehow gotten her locket for her since then.  Against all rationality in the back of her mind she kept wishing that he’d somehow pull it off for her in the week and a half in between.  Because that was the sign she’d asked for, finding her locket still after all these years.  That was the signal that their marriage is destined to last and everything will be okay.  If he’d been able to somehow magically find it, it would have been this perfect sign that their love is a modern day fairy tale just like Lily’s scrapbook said and it’s meant to be and nothing can come between them, ever.  It would have been that ultimate preassurance that it’s alright to marry him; it won’t end in disaster like her parents’ marriage did.  And if he’d only just shown up at the park – if he’d even tried at all – that would have proven Barney is always there for her, he always comes through. 

As it is now, she keeps hearing her mom’s words repeat in her head:  a marriage will only last if the man is safe, dependable, and never-fail there for you.

Well, Barney Stinson is about the most dangerous man any woman could choose for a husband.  He hasn’t always been dependable either.  In fact sometimes he can be downright unpredictable, and it’s hard to fully know what you can and can’t believe when he has such a history of lying and doing it so well.  And that day in the park at least he wasn’t there for her.  Now this Blauman memory has brought another such time to mind, albeit in the distance past.

Panic has set in, cold and debilitating, and she can’t think straight, can’t seem to discern anything anymore – what’s important and real and what’s trivial and insignificant, what’s a genuine concern and what’s just paranoia, what’s a critical problem and what is simply fear talking.  She’s all confused and scared and jumbled up inside and she can’t figure out what to make of it. 

But she’s supposed to get married in exactly thirty minutes.  She’s supposed to make the biggest commitment of her life in just a half an hour, a commitment that for years she thought she’d never make. 

…..And she doesn’t know if she can do it.  She honestly feels like she can’t.  It’s her and Barney.  Her and Barney.  What are they doing getting married? 

She’s having a serious crisis here.  So she calls for the best man. 

Because two and half years ago he promised her he’d talk her through this moment and get her down that aisle.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AN:  I wanted to explain in this chapter how Robin’s “serious crisis” came on so suddenly other than just her mom’s nonsensical ramblings about Barney being like Robin Sr. (which is ridiculous and doesn’t fit her dad’s character at all).  Plus however her mom spooked her, and she obviously did, Robin still went to the church, had her hair done, put on her wedding dress and so forth.  Even spooked, at no time in the three hours in between does she try to call it off.  So I wanted to show it as being an irrational freak-out because the time was now upon her, but also a freak-out that needed just the tiniest new catalyst (on top of everything else) to set it off….and enter Gary Blauman. 

I chose the Blauman flashback that was presented in the episode because Robin’s hair was too long for it to be set in Season 6 or 7 so that placed it in Season 4 or 5, and late Season 4 just made sense in terms of providing an additional reason why she was reluctant to go for it with Barney in the first place and why she says in “The Leap”, “It’s Barney….but it’s Barney” – and of course remembering those reasons for her reluctance isn’t going to be helpful at a time when she’s already freaking out.

One last thing if there was any confusion, in the flashback Barney makes a reference to last November when Robin was staying with Marshall and Lily and what happened up on their roof, that’s a callback to an earlier flashback I wrote in 9.13.


AN #2: The chapter for 9.22 will feature not only the lead-up and the wedding itself but also all of the reception as well as the wedding night and morning after (I feel like I’ve already covered the honeymoon in my chapter for 9.16 so there won’t be any more of that included) so that in the next chapter I can start doing time jumps.  The point being, it’s likely going to be a very long finale chapter, and the whole story has been leading up to this so I want to do it justice.  That means this next update won’t be as quick as the others have been recently, but I hope it will be worth the wait (I’ve certainly enjoyed working on this part of the story).

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
unzadi
May. 5th, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC)
:He puts the other earbud into his ear again too and she passes him what’s now become their bottle as they sit silently together listening to her music.:

This right here is the intimacy that I love about these two, captuerd beautifully. This is the Barney and Robin I love.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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