The four of us entered Barney's hospital room, but before we got too close to his bed where he was resting, I quickly grabbed onto my friends as I thought about the things I had just said to them and whispered, "You guys, I just realized something. I'm lying to myself when I've said that I've never given up on him. It's not true. I gave up on him back when he first slept with you, Robin. I told him we were no longer friends and I didn't speak with him for weeks. It took him almost dying to get us back together, then. What if this is one of the first things he remembers? What if he begins to think I hate him? What if…?"
Marshall interrupted me as he said, "Ted, relax. The five of us have been best friends for over eight years and we've done a lot of great and crazy things. I think any of those memories will come back to him first. Don't worry about it."
"You're right," I responded. "Thanks."
"No problem," he replied.
As soon as I relaxed again, we walked around the other side of the curtain and stood on both sides of Barney's bed. He was asleep when we entered, but our movement woke him up and he slowly began to look around at each one of us as he searched his mind to try to remember who we were.
Lily was the first of us to speak up as she softly asked, "Hey Barney, how are you feeling?"
He groggily answered, "I'm tired and my chest hurts a little, but I think I'm all right. The doctor said that my friends were waiting out in the hall to see me. Was he talking about each of you?"
"Yeah, Buddy," I responded. "We're here."
"I wish I could remember who you were," Barney replied. "The doctor explained that I was shot."
Marshall answered, "That's right, but don't worry about that now. I'm Marshall and this is my wife, Lily."
I continued as I said, "I'm Ted and this is Robin."
"Are the two of you married?" Barney asked.
"No!" Robin and I both said together and then chuckled.
Robin responded, "No, we're just really good friends. We all are. It's good to see you awake."
Barney smiled as he replied, "I'm glad to be awake. When will I be able to go home?"
"The doctor hasn't said when you'll be released, but when you are, we can either bring you home to your apartment and Robin can stay with you in your spare room until you're better, or we can bring you back to Ted's apartment, where you'll be able to stay in his spare room," Lily answered. "Or if you want, Marshall and I can take you home with us, but I don't think you'll be very comfortable there. We're a little bit too luvy duvy for you, or so you say. I think we're just perfect."
"I think my apartment will be fine," Barney responded as he laughed and then looked up at Robin. "And you won't have to stay with me. I'm sure I'll be just fine on my own. Besides, maybe by then my memory will be back."
Marshall nodded, "I'm sure you're right. You're one of the smartest people I know; at least intellectually. Each of us has done some pretty wild and crazy things."
Barney started becoming drowsy as he softly said, "I look forward to hearing all about the things we've done, but I think I'm too tired to hear it tonight. Will you be here tomorrow? And my family?"
"Of course we'll be here," I replied. "And I'm sure your parents and your brother will be here too. Get some sleep."
"Thank you," Barney answered as he sank down into his pillows and drifted off to sleep.
We left the hospital and all crammed into one cab as we asked the driver to take us to MacLaren's. After seeing Barney so unsure of himself and everything else, it made us feel strange. We needed something to help take the edge off.
We were all quiet for most of the trip until Lily finally broke the silence as she said, "Well, Barney seemed pretty chipper despite what he's going through. I mean, I would be terrified if I woke up with no memory of who I was and then started talking with friends, who felt like complete strangers to me."
I responded, "That's just Barney. I mean, just because he's lost all of his memories, doesn't mean his personality and behaviors have completely disappeared. He may have seemed fine, but I think he was just hiding his fear for us. When was the last time he allowed us to see him upset?"
"The night he broke up with Nora," Marshall replied. "He was pretty upset that night."
"Yes, but he left a minute after we arrived," I said. "Why? Because he didn't want us to know it."
Robin agreed as she responded, "Ted's right. I've seen him flip out and act crazy, but I don't ever remember seeing him depressed."
As we arrived and walked into the bar, Marshall replied, "He's going to be fine. Let's get something to eat. I'm starving. I've been craving buffalo wings all day."
"When are you not craving buffalo wings?" I asked mockingly.
"That's a good point," Marshall answered. "If only MacLaren's had a buffalo wing eating contest to see who can eat the most buffalo wings. Or maybe they could have an all you can eat wings night. That would be cool!"
I raised my hand toward Marshall for a fist bump and responded, "So cool; slap this!"
Marshall responded to the fist bump as he said, "You know, I think I'm going to go speak with Carl about these ideas, right now."
As Marshall got up to speak with Carl at the bar, I turned to Lily and asked, "How are feeling lately, Lil? We've been so wrapped up with everything that been happening with Barney, that we've forgotten to make sure you're doing ok; you know, with the baby and things."
"Ugh, that's right!" Robin replied as she slapped her head in frustration. "I am such a horrible best friend."
"No, I'm doing fine," Lily answered. "I promise. Other than the morning sickness, this pregnancy's a piece of cake. And Marshall's great at being a dad."
"Just wait until you give birth," I responded. "Marshall's totally going to faint."
Robin laughed as she took a sip of beer, causing her to spit it back out. She began to laugh even harder and we joined her. It was then that Marshall came back over and he started to laugh with us, not realizing we were initially laughing at him.
As we got our laughing under control, he asked, "What's so funny?"
I replied, "We were laughing because we all think you're totally going to faint when Lily gives birth to your baby. Then, Robin spit out her beer when she began to laugh. It was hilarious!"
"If I pass out, it's not going to be because I'm weak, all right!" Marshall retorted. "Just because my dad fainted every time one of us was born, doesn't mean I will too. Just leave me alone."
We continued to laugh at each other about a number of different things and it felt really good to be happy again for the first time in weeks. Once Marshall and Lily left to go home, Robin and I headed back upstairs to my apartment and just talked. It wasn't long before she suddenly broke down and began to cry. I just held her and listened as she admitted that she was afraid Barney would never remember us and never be the same man she fell in love with again. I didn't admit to her that I was just as afraid for Barney as she was.