I quickly got off the phone with Robin before explaining what little I had been told, threw on my jacket, and ran out the door. I caught a cab and made it to the hospital within twenty minutes. As soon as I walked in, I spoke with the receptionists at the desk, who told me to take a seat in the waiting room for a doctor to come out and speak with me.
Since Marshall and Lily lived out in Long Island, Robin was the first to arrive after me and as she did, she ran towards me and frantically asked, "What did the nurse say? Is he going to be all right? What happened?"
I put my hands on her shoulders and quickly responded, "Whoa, easy, Robin; just slow down! The nurse didn't give me any information about his condition yet. I have no idea how he is or what happened to him. All I know is that he's been here for a little over a month."
"And no one called us this whole time?" she cried. "That's ridiculous! What kind of hospital is this?"
"Barney probably told them not to inform us he was here," I answered. "He doesn't want us to know where he is, remember?"
Robin sarcastically replied, "If that's true, why would they inform us now, hmm?"
Before I could say anything else, Marshall and Lily came in as quickly as they could as Lily asked, "How is he? Have you heard from the doctors yet?"
"I haven't heard from them yet, but I'm sure they're pretty busy and will come to speak with us as soon as they can," I replied.
"I can't believe he's been in the hospital this whole time all alone," Marshall said sadly.
Lily pulled his arms around her for comfort as she responded, "Maybe he hasn't been all alone. Maybe James, or Jerry, or his mom has come to visit with him. They did tell us they didn't know where Barney was, but they could have just told us that to keep us from finding out he was here."
We continued talking amongst ourselves quietly as we sat down in the waiting room as we were told to do. Forty-five minutes passed and we still hadn't spoken with a doctor yet. We were all beginning to grow impatient. After waiting for another ten minutes, I decided to get up to speak with the receptionist again to find out what was taking so long, when I saw a doctor finally walking toward us.
The others stood up and joined me as the doctor came over and I was the first to speak up saying, "My name's Ted Mosby. I received a call about our friend, Barney Stinson. How is he?"
The doctor looked at us gravely and answered, "I'm afraid that his condition isn't good. He's stable, but I'm not sure for how long or if he'll ever come out of it."
"What do you mean?" Robin asked more angrily than she meant to. "What happened to him?"
"I'm afraid that a little over month ago, your friend was shot twice in what the police suspect was a mugging, although as far as I know that hasn't been confirmed," the doctor replied as both Robin and Lily began to cry. "You'd have to speak with them about the details. The first bullet hit him in the upper part of his chest, closer to his right shoulder than in the middle. Luckily for him, the bullet didn't hit any of his vital organs, but he did lose a lot of blood and we had to put him on a ventilator to help him to breathe. We almost lost him twice while we were operating on him. He's off the ventilator now, but we still have him hooked up to a tube running under his nose to keep the air circulating properly."
I interrupted as I asked, "You said that he was shot twice?"
The man continued, "I'm afraid that the second bullet was the more severe of the two. It struck him in the left side of his head, just above his ear. The bullet didn't enter far and thankfully, we were able to remove it safely and without any obvious complications, but he's been in a coma ever since he was brought in. We won't know the extent of the brain damage caused until he wakes up, if he does at all."
Robin collapsed to the floor as she cried even harder and I knelt down to hold her in my arms to try to comfort her. Lily was also about to collapse, but Marshall helped her over to a chair so that she wasn't sitting on the cold, hard floor in her condition. He too held his wife in his arms.
"Why wasn't I informed that this happened when it did a month ago?" I asked as both Marshall and I fought back the tears that threatened to fall from our eyes as well. "I am Barney's emergency contact. I should have been informed."
"Your friend has been registered here as a John Doe up until this afternoon because when he came in, he had no form of identification and no one here knew who he was," the doctor responded. "The police weren't able to figure out who he was either. We only learned who he was from a doctor, who used to work here, as she came today to wait for her husband as he got an ex-ray taken. Her husband shared the same room briefly with Mr. Stinson, she told us who he was, and where to get his medical records sent from. If it weren't for her, we still wouldn't know who he was. I assure you, we are doing everything we can for your friend. Does he have any family members you can contact?"
Marshall answered, "I got into contact with them on our way here. They'll be here when they can. I told them we would keep them informed until they arrive. Thank you for your help, Doctor. Can we see him now?"
The doctor replied, "I'll take you to him. Don't worry about the visiting hours. I'll speak with the nurses about letting you all stay with him for as long as you want. He's been alone long enough."
"Thank you," I said again.
After the man led us to Barney's room, he left us alone, as we slowly walked over to stand by his bedside. We couldn't believe what we were seeing as we looked down at our friend lying there so still. He was the last of us we ever expected something so tragic to happen to. Before the whole disaster with Kevin occurred, he was like a kid hyped up on tons of sugar and coffee. Even afterwards, he still acted like he was Peter Pan. Now, he was just like the dying Tinker Bell, waiting for us to clap louder and louder until our belief in him restored his health. If only it were that simple.
"I can't believe he's been here all alone this whole time we've been looking for him everywhere else," Lily said sadly.
Marshall nodded as he added, "And we were just celebrating his birthday. This is so unreal."
I responded, "I'm sure Barney's going to be all right. He's continued to hold on for this long."
"Why?" Robin finally spoke again angrily. "Right now, all Barney knows is that he has just lost his best friends and that he's all alone. This isn't fair. I never got the chance to correct my mistake. I never got the chance to tell him, to tell him that I love him."