Glitter in the air

Part two

It took 24 hours for Barney to go back to his old lothario ways. It was like they never were together and the year they spent together never existed. It killed Robin. It had occurred to her that it may have been his way to move on, but it didn’t make it any less painful. Then, around 3 months later, something quite unexpected happened; she met Anita. She was a gorgeous woman that came for an interview at her show. She wrote a book for women to understand and use their power. She explained that women should use the word “no” as much as possible to empowered themselves from men.

For some unknown reasons, Robin ended up telling Anita all her frustrations and pain about Barney and Anita was very empathic to her cause. “One word from you Robin and I will give him a lesson.” She refused at first, but in the evening, after Barney and the guys started acting like morons, she gave her a call.

She admitted that she did love watch Barney squirmed to get Anita into his bed. Of course, Ted had read Anita’s book and told everything to Barney. The Casanova decided to use this at his advantage. 17 dates before sex was utterly ridiculous for him and he thought he could play Anita at her own the game.

While Barney was doing everything in his power to nail the beautiful writer, Don asked her out. “Say what?” They were still seated in front of the, now off, camera in the studio. His smile was confident.

“I said; let’s go on a date. You are not seeing your mysterious geek anymore, I don’t see why not.” She saw many reasons why not and then she remembered Barney talking about his latest conquest in a very rude way and she agreed at Don’s request. “O.K. Let’s go on a date.”

Marshall was elated by this, for he had a huge men crush on Don. Robin wasn’t so sure if she was ready to go back out there, but it was better than staying single and sad. That night, she put on a sexy, slutty red dress for her date and Ted complimented her nicely. Then, he mentioned that Barney had a superdate with Anita tonight. He explained that he helped him create the greatest date ever for Barney to get laid tonight and for a reason that came from deep inside of her; she went to changed back in jeans, cancelled her date with Don and went to the shooting range.

Of course, it was at this moment that Lily chose to tell Ted and Marshall that she was still in her mourning period of her relationship with Barney and that the three of them had been acting like big jerks. For three months, she hid herself and cried in private. She cried more than she never did for a past relationship before, her heart full of regrets. Feeling like total dickheads, Marshall and Ted, with Lily, went to tell everything to a still oblivious Barney and it was how her ex-lover ended up coming to see her, while she was armed. She had to give him the credit for ignoring the danger.

He made his presence known by a simple hello that was a pitch higher than usual. She threw him a mean look and his expression was the same as a kid that was going to pee in his pants. She shot a couple more bullets, until the barrel of her gun was empty. Unsatisfied, she yelled some nonsense and threw the gun on the counter in front of her. When she turned to look, Barney was still there, his fingers in his ears, his expression still showing fear like a young kid.

He pouted, trying to gain her sympathy. It grandly failed and he noticed. “You seem upset. Lily said you have been upset a lot since--”

She cut him. “Of course I’m upset Barney! How do you think it made me feel to hear about all your conquests? It made me feel like I was just another number to you!” He swore to her she wasn’t, his blue eyes were the shade of honesty and yet, she was still angry. “And now you are going to this great date with Anita, when I never got treated that way.”

He admitted that he didn’t know it had been so hard on her. “I knew I was bad being a boyfriend, but I had no idea I’d be so much worse at being an ex-boyfriend.” She wanted to tell him that he hadn’t been a bad boyfriend, but she didn’t have the heart to be nice to him.

He offered her a peace flag, asking what he can do to make it up to her. She randomly threw out her first idea: “Don’t sleep with Anita.”

Yet again, he didn’t miss a beat. He never did. “Done.”

She sniggered. “Barney, of course you are going to sleep with her, why else would you take her on a superdate?” He looked at her, honesty shining in his eyes. “She is not going on a superdate Robin, you are.”

It was how Barney gave her the date she secretly always wanted, with Don. Her night had been magical and Don charmed her marvellously. She gloated to her friends later on about it all and she acted like she didn’t notice Barney’s eyes, taking a shade of blue that she knew was sadness.

It was the beginning of 2010 and it had been a marvelous month dating Don. The man she had thought utterly annoying was in fact, quite charming and funny. Marshall and Lily had already met him and loved him, and so did Ted. There was the slight misunderstanding that Ted was gay, but since Robin was living with her ex-boyfriend, she had preferred to let the misunderstanding continue to exist. Don would definitely feel uncomfortable with it, so she kept her past relationship with Ted a secret. Until of course, Lily opened her mouth.

“It’s really great that you are fine with Robin living with her ex-boyfriend. The fact that you understand their friendship is very mature of you, Don.”

Let’s just say that it hadn’t been an easy conversation after that. Don did manifest his fears to her later on. She reassured him with confidence that Ted and her were history and now, she saw him as her best friend and they would never go on that road again. Even Ted, the kind friend he was, swore to Don that the train had long past and gone. When her boyfriend accepted it all with understanding and class, she thought everything would be smooth sailing from now on. She couldn’t have been more wrong. It seemed that even though Don looked self-assured and confident, he was actually quite insecure when it came to relationship and the phenomena that was Barney Stinson hit him hard where it hurt.

One night, she brought Don with her to MacLaren’s to meet with Marshall, Ted and Lily. She carefully orchestrated this night with a night Barney, who had not met Don yet (and hopefully never will), would be out of town for a business trip. She didn’t really know herself why she didn’t want Don to meet Barney, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that it would be way much worse than Don meeting Ted.

The night had advanced beautifully and everyone was having a great time, when the door of the pub opened grandly, letting Barney in, oozing with charm and swagger. He simply signaled Carl for his usual drink, which the bartender returned by a thumb up, and glided magically over them, grabbed a chair with one hand to put at the end of the booth at Ted side and his other went for Ted shoulder.

“Hey there, Theodore!” They all hid their smiles; while Ted muttered under his breathe “Don’t call me Theodore.”

Barney ignored it with a laugh and his eyes felt on Don, his charming smile still dancing on his lips. “Didn’t know you guys made the news from here tonight.” Don, bless him, just laughed at the joke. After all, he still had no idea who had entered the bar.

The anchorman kindly showed him his hand to shake. “Don.” Barney shook his hand with a firm handshake, his business handshake, and let it go to catch his drink. “Barney.” Don subtly looked around, probably wondering what connection they had with this guys.

Lily kindly explained it. “Barney Stinson is our friend, although we don’t know why.” Barney gave her a puppy look, but Ted, forever the wingman, put a hand on the blond shoulder. “Barney makes our nights legendary.”

Barney smiled warmly, impressed by his best friend attention. No adult should be so openly happy about a demonstration of friendship, yet this childish behavior of Barney was something all the gang kind of adored about him. Robin guessed that Ted wanted to Barney to feel at his place, even though she brought along her boyfriend. Compassion between exes or something similar, she guessed.

“Talking about legendary nights,” intersected Marshall, “weren’t you supposed to be on a flight for work right now? You did mention a strip club visit in a foreign country.”

Barney bent his head to the right, playing with his glass. “The North Korean closed down their illegal organs donors’ hospital without us going there, so no trip.”

There had been a silence on the booth until everyone exploded; “What do you do for a living?”

Barney drank his scotch and scoffed. “Please.” Then he stood. “Next round on me.” And left for the bar.

They all sighed, Don wondering about what just happened. “He works with the North Koreans?” They all shrugged. “Who knows?” Said Ted, “Barney is a bigger mystery than Bigfoot.” Marshall went crazy on that statement, saying the great Bigfoot was real and they all started to argue like 11 years old.

Barney came back ten minutes later with a platter; a beer for Ted, a sparkling drink for Lily, a weird and girly drink that Marshall completely adores and a scotch for her.

He passed a bottle of beer to Don: “Just got you a beer, didn’t know what you like.”

Just like that, Don was touched, moved even. Barney had charmed him. Robin was fuming for some reasons. She didn’t like Barney impressing her boyfriend. She wanted Don to hate Barney, to find him stupid, weird and other bad things guys think about other guys, not have a man crush on him. But then, it shouldn’t really surprise her, everyone had a crush on Barney at one point. She guessed it was a family trait, since even his brother, James, was very loved and popular with everyone. Barney’s mom had been quite the flower girl in the past, loved by many men. It was the Stinson gene.

Barney sat on his chair, smug smile on his lips. “Oh and for me, the number of the gorgeous Lebanese girl at the bar!” He showed them the paper. Marshall and Ted gave him the fist-bum, Ted muttering: “Respect.”

Barney theatrically put up his finger in the air. “And! The number of her gorgeous twins for Ted.” He glided another paper under Ted nose, while Lily and Marshall were “aww-ing”.

Ted’s eyes filled with fake tears, his mouth trembling. “Dude, you are the best bro ever.”

Don was laughing, enjoying himself. However, Robin was on her guard, waiting for the big bomb to launch. For an hour or two, everything was fine. Barney was telling his disgusting stories about his sex life, Marshall and Lily making puns about their marriage and Ted was being Ted.

When Robin finally let her guard down, enjoying herself, Marshall had to open his big fat mouth. “Really Robin, is Barney sex swing that amazing? Because I think he is exaggerating right now.”

They all grew cold in an instant around her, Marshall completely shocked by what just got out of his mouth, except Barney, completely obvious. “Please! Robin is one of the few that actually rocked that swing. Once, her legs were--” Ted cut him loudly. “Who wants another drink? I could use one!”

Barney stood up, always eager to please his best friend. “I’ll go get it.” And he left.

There was another silence at the table. “Your ex-boyfriend Barney is this Barney?” Don looked at her, shocked. He seemed a bit angry too, but Robin couldn’t tell for sure. “Yeah…”

Don shook his head, like to get rid of a fly hanging around. “I can’t believe it.”

Her friends didn’t know where to look and she had to admit that she didn’t know either. “I expected a geeky, ugly guy, speaking about comics. Not a young Hugh Hefner with too much swagger.” Her three friends exchanged looks.

“A geeky and ugly guy?” Asked Lily.

“Speaking about comics?” added Marshall.

“Haaaave you met Barney?” demanded Ted, imitating the one in question.

Don sighed. “When they were dating she said he was a kind and brilliant man.” Everyone’s faces showed understanding.

“It did seem like she was talking about Marshall there.” Said Ted, wise-ass-ly. Lily hit his arm and Marshall shouted his indignation, but Robin ignored them.

“I don’t see what difference it makes, Don. Barney’s still my ex; either he is a geek or a disgusting sex bunny. It doesn’t change anything.” Don stared at her. Marshall added: “And he is a geek, just a closet one.” Lily and Ted actively shook their heads in agreements, trying to put water on the fire.

“Yes, a very charming geek that you see all the time. I’m not sure I like it, Robin.” She showed her surprise. “You were alright with me living with Ted! Why being friend with Barney is any different.”

He stood up. “Yeah, well that’s different.”

She grew angrier. “No it’s not. You heard him; he went back to his womanizing ways and there is nothing left of our past relationship.” She explained in vain.

He grabbed his coat, showing his intention of leaving. She stood up too and asked. “What is so wrong about this?!”

Don put his coat on and grabbed his keys in his pocket. “When Ted entered the bar tonight, you didn’t smile at him like no one else existed.” Robin just stood there; gobsmacked “I thought you were just charmed by him; like everyone else here. I mean Ted giggled at some point!” Ted, offended, muttered that he did not, but Lily and Marshall were throwing him knowing looks. “But that’s not it. You dated him. You have history. That’s different!” Don excused himself and left like the wind.

At that moment, Barney came back at the booth. “Hey! Where did my new friend just left?” Robin actually growled and hit Barney really hard in the arm. He yelped helplessly and she left, angry.

“What did I do again?”

The next day, at work, Don blatantly ignored her until the end of the broadcast. Then, he asked her for a cup of coffee and she accepted. They sat in front of each other in silence for a moment and then he launched the bomb: “Do you still have feeling for Barney?”

Her sip of coffee got stuck in her throat. “What? No! No, no, no, no, no. Why – Why would you ask that? No, no, no, no. No.” Don, normally quite confident, stared at his cup of coffee awkwardly. “It’s just a feeling I’ve got.”

Robin stared, dumbfounded. “I mean, when I realized that Ted was your ex, I was fine, because I saw that everything was gone for you, but Barney...”

He silenced himself, leaving Robin hanging. She hated that. “Barney what?”

His eyes met hers. “There is just something that seems to hang it in air.”

Yeah, fucking glitter; that’s what, she thought, bitterly.

Robin wasn’t completely stupid. Even now, when Barney was there, something felt different. Although he wasn’t surrounded by a storm of blinding glitter anymore, sometimes she would find one left on his shoulder, on his hand, kissing his cheekbone. She really did have a thing for his cheekbones. But Robin figured out that it was a normal reaction after letting go of an addiction.

“Don, when you asked me out, you knew I had left my boyfriend recently.”

He sighed. “I know. I just didn’t expect him to be so charming and a stupid part of me thought that I was the winner in this.”

She held his hands. “You are. I’m dating you, not Barney.”

He squeezed her hand and smiled. “I guess so.” She felt him warming up to her again. She really liked Don and a part of her thought she could love him too. She wasn’t ready to lose him.

Then, he asked her: “Move in with me, then.”

She was taken aback by this and her first reaction was to run away, but she remembered the pain she caused to Ted and Barney when she did so, she remembered her feelings for Don, how much she liked him, how much she wanted to be strong.

“O.K., I will.” He smiled grandly and bent over the table to kiss her. She was making the right decision, she told herself. She wanted this and it made her happy.

A month later, after settling herself at Don’s apartment, she received a call from a broadcasting station in Chicago, offering her a dream job. She talked about it with her friends; Ted was the first one to make a valid argument.

“I don’t want you to go away, but it’s your dream and I think that if you want to, you should.” Lily and Marshall agreed but kept mentioning how much they would miss her. It touched her in an extraordinary way.

Later that night, she told Barney. “Chicago? Whoa.”

He didn’t seem quite enthusiastic, but so had been the others. He nursed his gin tonic, without much looking at her. “I think I will take it.” She didn’t know what she expected from him, but that had not been on the list.

He smiled. “You should, Canada. Live the American dream.”

The next morning, she called the station. She was going to accept the offer when a picture of her and Don together grabbed her attention. Not once, she gave up work for someone, her ambitions always being her priority. But this thing with Don, it was different. This time around, she came stronger into this relationship and she could make it work. For the first time in her life, Robin chose love over her ambitions. “I’m sorry, but I must decline. I am very grateful that you thought of me.”

The same night, she told her friends. Lily was ecstatic. “I can’t believe Robin Scherbatsky chose a man over work, you grew up so fast!” Robin shied herself away, telling Lily to shut up. Ted bought her a glass of scotch, telling her he was proud of her. Barney just stayed silence, a shadow of a smile on his face, Marshall whispering things she couldn’t hear into his ear.

The same night, she came back to her and Don’s apartment and he was waiting for her. “Chicago offered me a job today.” He announced.

She thought everything was crashing down, that her sacrifice had been a horrible mistake, until he said: “I won’t take it if you ask me not to.”

She blinked. “Sorry?” He helped her sit on the sofa with him, holding her hand.

“I love you Robin and if you love me enough to make us work, I won’t go.” She didn’t miss a beat, Barney taught her that. “Of course I do.” He smiled.

“So I don’t have to be scared that Barney Stinson will come back to steal you away?” He was half laughing, but she knew it was a real insecurity for him. She didn’t want to lose him, didn’t want her sacrifice to go for nothing, so out of sheer protection, she lied.

“Barney and me, it never was as amazing and mind-blowing as you seem to imagine. There was no passion; no feelings really, just chemistry. It has nothing on you and me.” He smiled, kissed her and then, everything was fine.

No one knew and no one had to know. No matter how much she thought that what she had with Barney was a once in a lifetime relationship, no one had to know. He burned her, marked her, made her his in ways that she never thought possible and maybe, if she didn’t chicken out of this at the very beginning, maybe she would still be in flames, deep into his embrace, melting the air around her. Again, that is something no one had to know.

Even if she loved Don, she really hated her job and even sharing it with him didn’t make it better. She told him her decision to try to find something else and he showed her his support. She was flying on a cloud when she announced the news to her friends.

“Have you quit yet?” asked Marshall. She said no, she wanted to see if she could find something first. “I know World Wide News is looking for researchers.” mentioned Barney. Her friends started to get all excited. Ted was all about coaxing her to try for it. “I know it is not a glamorous job but it’s a stepping stone. Once you have the feet in the place, you can only go up.”

The next day, she sent her résumé to WWN and in less than 24 hours, they offered her an interview. She put on her best pencil skirt, her best blouse and her most painful red heels. She walked in there with more confidence than she actually possessed, met the director and, of course, her past co-start, the pervert Sandy River.

Before leaving her first job for Tokyo, Sandy River had been doing the News at the same station as her. He was mostly a sex-obscene man that had no soul whatsoever, but Robin knew how to deal with him and River long forgot about sleeping with her. The director told her that one of the reasons they called her was because Sandy recognized her. “If you are good enough for Sandy River, you are good enough for me.”

The director conducted a very professional interview and after an hour, he gave her the job, starting in two weeks. She stood up and shook his hand. She was utterly elated. Like Ted said, it wasn’t a job in front of the camera, but it was the first step to enter in a serious news station. She was about to leave when the director stopped her.

“Oh and Miss Scherbatsky?” She turned around, hand on the doorknob. “Could you tell Barney Stinson I can’t wait for his call? The steak he promised me is calling my name.”

He had thrown these words like he was talking about the weather. Yet, Robin’s hand grasped the doorknob so hard that her palm had become red. She stuck a frozen smile on her lips. “You know Barney?”

He laughed. “I met him yesterday when I went to the GNB. He insisted to take care of my things. Extraordinary man, Stinson. You got a good friend there.”

She laughed on automatic. “Yes, I do.” She left the building fuming, her one track mind focused on hitting Barney Stinson.

She entered the GNB building like a fury and she met Marshall in the elevator. “Robin! How was the interview?” She stuck her teeth together and whistled like a snake. “Got the job.” Marshall stepped back. Funny how such a giant man could be so easily intimidated.

“Then why do you look like you are gonna shoot a moose?” She chuckled. “Oh I’m gonna shoot something, alright.”

The elevator stopped at Barney’s floor and she got off. Marshall followed her, three steps behind. She moved past Barney’s secretary without a word and opened the glass door of his office dramatically. He was sitting at his desk, Bluetooth in his ear, talking in Korean, while looking at some files in his hands; his feet were crossed at the top of his desk. He glanced at her for not even a second before returning his eyes to his files, foreign sounds rolling on his tongues. She waited. For 5 long minutes, she waited, standing in the middle of his office, glaring at him like a mad woman. Marshall was standing at the door, waiting for the show. Robin knew that tonight, everyone will know what will happen in this room, but she was far too gone to care.

Barney hung up, took his Bluetooth out of his ear and stood up. “Robin! How did your interview go?” She whistled again, like in the elevator. “Oh I think you know how it went.”

Barney opened his mouth the say something, but no sound came out. He gave a look at Marshall behind her and in a very high pitched voice, he said: “No idea what you’re talking about.” He looked like a 5 years old boy that did something in secret and had been discovered. Robin always thought this part of Barney, the child part, was adorable, but not today.

She stepped up to him her face almost touching his, he squealed. “You bribed the director of the station to give me a job, Barney!” The “Ooooh!” of Marshall was heard in every corner of Barney’s office. They both turned they eyes toward him and if eyes could kill...

Marshall uncomfortably changed his weight from one foot to the other. “Sorry, sorry. Please don’t mind me.”

Robin brought back her cold glare to Barney and he smiled awkwardly. “I did not.” She continued to glare, her knuckles cracked when she made a fist. Barney swallowed soundly. “Fine. I might have suggested that I knew the perfect woman for his station.”

Robin stepped back, angry as hell. “Suggested? Barney, you took charge of his money and offered him a lunch at a steak house.”

Marshall chuckled behind them “Nice play, Dude.” Again, if Robin’s eyes could kill.

“I mean; Dude! Come on, that is just wrong!” rephrased Marshall, a bit intimidated.

Robin turned her attention to Barney again when Marshall intersected himself in again: “Just to be sure, what kind of steak are we talking about?”

Without looking at Marshall, his eyes transfixed on her, Barney answered: “The braised T-bone at the restaurant down the street.” Robin could hear Marshall sighted. “Man, that is a nice steak...”

Robin sighted exasperated and started to walk around the office. “Seriously? This is what we are talking about? Steak? Marshall, he bribed someone to give me a job. Can’t you lawyer him or something?”

Barney cut in, angry at his turn, the little boy gone into hiding deep within him. “So what? You wanted the job, you’ve got it! No need to say thanks.” She growled something no one understood.

“I can find something without your help, Barney!” She had her pride. The last time she was looking for a job, he’s the one that found it for her.

It may not have been the dream job, but because of him she was able to stay in New York and even though, no one watched her show, it gave her great opportunities to test the field of journalism. She had so much to be thankful toward him already and she felt completely helpless in how to return it.

“NYC is a city of connections! It’s how it works here. I just asked him to give you an interview; you did the rest yourself, Scherbatsky.”

Her name sounded like bells in her ears. When he says it, for some reasons, her entire body vibrate like instrument. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to calm herself.

“I am sorry that you don’t like what I did, but I just wanted you to be happy.” Her eyes opened fast, her gaze studying him. His blue eyes were electric and brow furrowed. She saw glitter on his eyelashes and on the tip of elegant nose.

She coldly responded: “You don’t have anything to do with my happiness anymore, Barney.” On this, she left, pushing Marshall out of the way and walked straight to the elevator. The doors closed behind her and she steadied herself on the wall. All she wanted now was to go back to Don’s arms and forget every thought about the glitter on Barney’s cheekbone. She didn’t let herself questioned why.

“Robin, about that Nora girl that we had lunch with last Monday...” Robin put her magazine down on the sofa near her and gave her attention to Don. “What about Nora?”

He came near her with a glass of martini and sat with her, his arms around her waist. “Maybe we should introduce her to Barney.”

Robin chocked out on her martini. “I thought you liked her!”

He laughed. “I did. And it’s time your friend got into a serious relationship and I think Nora would be perfect.”

Robin put the martini on the coffee table and looked at her boyfriend like he was crazy. “Barney doesn’t to do serious if he doesn’t want to Don. He has always been like this and I personally don’t care if he likes it. So does everybody else.”

Don sighed heavily, put his own martini glass near hers and took Robin hands. “He had a serious relationship in the past; with you. Since then he just goes around. You understand why it makes me uncomfortable, right?”

Robin took her hands away and stood up, grabbing her glass. “Wrong. I don’t.”

Don stood up in front of her. “I’m scared that he is somehow waiting for you to come around and if he was dating another woman seriously, I wouldn’t.”

Robin sighed, deep in thought. She crossed her arms in front of her and looked at her boyfriend. She knew all about his insecurities toward Barney, it’s not like he hid them, but after almost a year of dating, she thought he had moved past it. Apparently she was wrong.

“If I do set him with Nora, he might just whore his way into her pants and leave.” Don smiled and took her by the waist. “He might not.”

She sighed again. “I guess if I ask him to be gentleman-like” Don’s lips tickled her neck and she found herself promising him that she will try to set a date for Nora and Barney.

The next day, she took Barney away from the others and frankly asked him. “I work with this girl, Nora, and she is looking for a serious but fun relationship.” Barney left eyebrow lifted. “And you are saying this to me because...”

She gave him her reporter smile, all rehearsed. “Don’t you want to meet her?”

He scoffed, looking at the ceiling. She heard him say something like “you must be kidding me” but she simply grabbed his forearm to get his attention again. “Come on Barney, it wouldn’t be so bad to try to get a real girlfriend for once. And if you really don’t like her, just don’t call her back.”

He stared at her for longs minutes. “Why is it so important to you?” She bit her lower lips, searching for a credible lie. “I just think Nora is awesome and she deserves someone awesome.” Barney took a deep breath, looking at his scotch.

“Fine, I’ll meet her.” Robin smiled at him. He pointed his index at her. “But if I don’t like her, I nail her and never call back, deal?” She flashed another of her reporter smile. “Deal.”

She didn’t really know what she expected of all of this, but the night of the date, Barney came back at MacLaren’s by himself. When they all asked how his date was, he shrugged. “Nice girl, but didn’t work.”

Lily and Marshall sighed. “Why?” Barney stared at the gold liquid in his glass for a second. “I met someone else two weeks ago.”

Everyone froze in an instant, looking at Barney like he was possessed by some sort of alien. Robin thoughts weren’t making any senses for a second. “Sorry, what? Someone? Who?”

She could see that Barney was debating whether to talk about it or not when he sighed, in resolution. “Her name is Quinn; she works at the Lusty Leopard.”

In one swoop of conflicted emotions, everyone yelled together: “She’s a stripper?!”

Barney calmed them down, gesturing to them to sit back and relax with his hands. “Yes, yes, a stripper.”

Lily made her “I’m your mother so listen to me” eyes. “This is such a bad idea, Barney.” He shrugged but didn’t say a word. They somehow always joked about that fact that Barney would probably ended up tied down to a stripper, but to actually see him dating one was a completely different story.

“She is pretty and funny. She has a brain and she likes me for me. We clicked. That’s all there is, guys.” Marshall took a heavy deep breathe. “You’re really considering a serious relationship with her.” Barney nodded and took a sip of scotch. They all looked at each other, wondering what exactly to say next, but Ted simply changed the subject and the conversation about Barney’s new girl was past for the night.

Three days later, Barney introduced Quinn to the group. Don was present too and he seemed quite happy with Barney’s relationship. “Look at them Robin, they’re in love. Told you; that was all he needed.”

Robin flashed him her journalist smile. Inside, she was quite conflicted. What Don had said, a couple of weeks ago, wasn’t wrong. She had been the only serious relationship he had. They shared something that Barney never shared with anyone after that and for some unknown reasons, Robin loved that. She loved that she had been the One, the special woman that tied down the Casanova of NYC.

But now, there was Quinn and God, she was pretty. Honey hair, sparkling eyes, stunning smile, she was everything a guy could wish for. She even promised Barney that she might consider to stop stripping if they relationship was really working. She was freaking perfect and Robin hated that, because Robin herself was starting to like her.

The most surprising thing, though, came the next day after meeting Quinn. Nora, whom Barney had only one date with, came to see her. She awkwardly said hello and asked Robin if she had news of Barney. “Saw him last night, actually. Why are you asking?”

Nora stirred her coffee, without really looking at Robin. “Did he mention me?” Robin calmly put down her cup of coffee on the counter and tried to look at Nora in the eyes.

“Nora, what are you not telling me? Did Barney act like a jerk last time? Because, if he did - ” She interrupted Robin by loudly saying no. She got a bit embarrassed and looked around to see if anyone was listening.

“Look, Robin. After diner, he brought me home, told me I was a great girl and all that but he was kind of interested in someone else.” Robin silently mouthed “oh” and grabbed her coffee for a sip.

Not really what she had expected of Barney. She knew he could be a gentleman, but only with her. Or so she thought. “But I really like him and I have been sending text messages and phoning him.” Robin almost spited out the coffee in her mouth. “Say what?!”

Nora sighed. “I know, bit pathetic. I just can’t help it. And the fact that he is so nice about that I’m almost stalking him is not helping me.”

Robin eyebrows met her hair line. “He is nice?” He was nice about a stalker? Impossible. Barney hated clingy girl more than anything else in the world. He liked them independent, like her… or Quinn.

“He answered all my calls and my messages. Told me how nice I was and I deserve to interest myself in a man that would like me.” Robin felt like she was going to be sick any minute now. Nora continued to talk about how much she liked Barney but Robin wasn’t listening anymore.

When she finally got away from the woman, she called Ted on her speed dial. “Hey Robin! I’m a bit busy right now, can I call you back?”

She took a deep breath and said: “I think Barney is on acid.”

Ted dropped the phone.

“I’m not on acid, Ted!” Barney didn’t know if he had to be offended or cracking up laughing, Robin could see it. He was stuck between two emotions, his smile twitching. Ted shook his head and made the “father knows best” expression.

“Robin made some compelling arguments, buddy.” Robin smiled smugly, while Barney rolled his eyes. He took an instant to signaled Carl for a drink and returned his attention to his best friend.

“Ted, I am not being nice to a clingy woman because I’m tripping, I’m being nice because she works with Robin.” There was a moment a silence, followed by a moment of clarity and Ted “aaahhh”, while Robin bit her lower lips guiltily.

“So really, you are nice just for me to not receive hell at work?” She had to ask. He gave her his “obviously” face that she always found crazily adorable. “Well, duh! And if you could do something about this, I would appreciate. Not only is she slowly making me crazy, Quinn ain’t very happy either.”

Ted hissed, slouching on the booth. “An angry stripper? Not sure I want to see that...”

Barney whistled a small laugh. “It’s like a cat fight, but with tigers.”

Robin could see Ted struggling with how exactly he should react to this analogy, when he breathed in and finally decided himself. “Yeah, no... It’s hot.” And he put up his hand in the air for a high five that Barney happily returned.

The blond returned his attention to Robin, his baby blue eyes begging her. “Please, do something. It’s your fault I’m in this shackle. She’s smothering me more than my own girlfriend.”

Robin tried to not tick at the word girlfriend and took a sip of her drink. “Of course, I’ll make it clear.”

Barney sighed of relief and lie back on the booth and returning the conversation about acid. Barney made a comment that maybe the moment they are living right now doesn’t actually exist and his nineteen years old self is still tripping in the college basement. Obviously, Ted went crazy scientist with a bunch of time travel theories and Robin stopped listening, mostly just bathing in the moment with her two friends.

The next day, she was on a mission. The night before, she had mentioned the stalker- ish attitude of Nora to Don and he simply shrugged it off. “It will pass.”

It probably would, she knew, but Barney hated clingy women and he had tendencies to do over-dramatic. He had been kind for an entire week for her sake and she had to add something else in the enormous bag of things she was redeemable toward Barney Stinson. So she entered her office, bought two cup of delicious coffee and went to Nora’s desk.

“Hey!” Nora smiled at her sweetly. That’s what Nora was in general; sweet. She always wondered why Don had thought about her for Barney and even now, looking at sweet Nora, Robin couldn’t see it either.

She gave the brunette the coffee like an offering. “Nora, we need to talk.”

She didn’t say anything and just took a sip of her cup. She looked down, playing with the rim. “It’s about Barney, isn’t it?” Robin sat on her desk, but didn’t speak a word. “I’m annoying him too much.”

Robin took a deep breath. “He has a serious girlfriend now, Nora. She doesn’t appreciate your attention too much.”

Nora put the cup of coffee on her desk in front of her. “I do put him in an uncomfortable situation, don’t I?”

Robin wasn’t good at showing support and comfort; that was her friends’ things. She tried to remember what Lily or Ted would do in a moment like this and she shyly put her hand on Nora shoulder. “Let him go, Nora. He’s not worth the trouble.”

She smiled sadly and looked at Robin in the eyes. “But with him, the trouble doesn’t seem so much troubling.”

Robin physically back down as much as mentally and she almost tripped on her own feet. She felt lost in a bad black and white flashback of the alley behind MacLaren’s, surrounded by broken televisions. “I like you, Robin” would ringed like bells in her ears. For a fraction of seconds she was lost but found her balance back again and focused her eyes on Nora.

“Listen Nora, Barney is not exactly how you think he is. He is showing only his good side right now.”

She laughed with humour. “I suppose you are right. I’m sorry for putting you in this situation Robin. I’ll let go.” And so she did. Nora never called Barney again. But she would see him again.

It was 2011 now and soon the first year anniversary of Don and her relationship. Robin didn’t expected much and actually saw that day like any other day. She supposed Don wouldn’t care much either, but then, he told her he reserved a great restaurant for their night. “It might not be as great as your superdate, but it is a very good restaurant.”

She never had the heart to tell him that the superdate idea came from Ted and Barney. “Mostly Ted, really. I don’t have a bone of romance in me Scherbatsky, only a boner.” Barney had joked. She knew it untrue, but she never mentioned anything.

The night of the diner, she came home early to get ready and Don was already putting his suit on. He welcomed her with a warm kiss and she really did think this would be a great night. No one needs expensive sushi, negligee and wild sex in the kitchen. Her night with Don would be calm and romantic, like two adults who are in love. But then, Don Tedded out; an engagement ring appear in her champagne flute. Last time, even though it hadn’t been for her, she completely freaked out and went crazy or the poor Ted. She wasn’t 27 anymore and she had to act rational.

“Is that an engagement ring?” She was secretly hoping for another waiter screw up, but Don smiled brightly at her. “Robin, would you marry me?”

No screw up possible there, it was for her alright. “I... I don’t know what to say...”

Her boyfriend saw her discomfort and took her hand. “Robin, we are already living together. I gave up a job for you. I think it’s the natural next step.”

She was mostly frozen in time. Seriously not knowing what to do or say. Of course, he wasn’t wrong, marriage would be the next step, and yet, her fear of commitment was yelling her to run as far as possible.

“Listen, don’t answer now. Take sometimes to think about it and answer me later.” The diner continued in silence for a moment, until Don tried to light up the atmosphere.

The next night, at MacLaren’s, she took her decision. She was with Marshall, Lily and Ted, discussing what they should do for Barney’s birthday party. The man himself had given them few legendary ideas, but they weren’t going for them. “Seriously, a party in Cuba? Does he think we’re all rich like him?” had Marshall said. Then, the rest of the conversation derived to “what does Barney really do for a living.”

Since Marshall worked for GNB too and Ted had just been appointed to design the new building by Barney himself, she and Lily thought they would discover the mystery but they both insisted that it was even more a mystery then before.

“I mean, I work for GNB and Ted is an architect appointed by GNB, but Barney is working for Atrucell, so our work doesn’t really collide with his.”

Lily asked what Atrucell was and both of them shrugged. “All we know it’s that they have building everywhere in the world and they buy many important bank or industries. What for? We don’t know.”

Ted mentioned that the office he was designing for Barney was pretty big, bigger than the one he already had, and it was on a top floor. “Why such a big office? Mystery.”

Robin was going to pitch in her own theory when Barney and a lovely Quinn entered the pub. The four of them randomly picked a lame subject, but Barney didn’t even notice. What Robin noticed, though, was the enormous smiles of their faces.

“We are getting married!” Quinn voice was more excited than loud but Robin lost her earring for a second, a whistle in her brain.

She had to blink away the surprise before finally standing up and congratulated the couple. Barney explained how much he wanted to Quinn to stop stripping and he thought it was time to make a man of himself. “I asked and she said yes!” Lily and Marshall were asking a tone of questions about the future wedding, but Quinn stopped them.

“We decided to take this engagement slow. First I need to move in with Barney. We were thinking maybe at next Christmas, in a year.”

Ted went crazy, saying weddings should be in summer so the bride shines more. Lily and Marshall shushed him and went crazy at their turn about how romantic a Christmas wedding would be. After all, Marshall has always been in love with Christmas. “You could have a real life Rudolf! I love Rudolf.”

The night went on and on, without Robin saying a word. Ted finally had a great idea. “Quinn, if you’re moving in with Barney, does that mean you super great apartment is free to rent?” Quinn showed curiosity mixed with her natural wickedness. “Yeah, pretty much.”

Ted jumped off his seat: “I’ll take it!” Everyone were a bit shocked at first, wondering why he wanted to leave his beloved apartment on top of MacLaren’s. “Lily and Marshall are miserable living on Coney Island. They can come back to the apartment and I’ll take Quinn’s. I need a change anyway.”

Of course, Marshall was moved to tears for Ted “sacrifice” and Ted smiled kindly to his friend. He had thought about for a while and it was exactly what he wanted. Since that moment, upstairs became Marshall and Lily’s and Ted moved near Central Park.

The rest of the night, they all celebrated everything that had happen that night and for a moment, Robin forgot her sadness. Much later, it was just her sitting at the booth with her scotch, the others gone for the night. That was until Barney sat up in front of her.

“Spit it out Scherbatsky, what’s with the sad puppy eyes.” She was taken aback that he had come back. She was going to ask how come he was there, we he cut her with a swing of his hand.

“Saw that you were under the weather earlier.” She smiled affectionately at him. He told her to just get it out, he was there to listen, but he will laugh about it, if it was stupid. She should be angry at that, but she knew Barney would anyway.

She finished her glass in one shot and just threw it. “Don asked me to married him last night.”

Barney eyebrows shot up to his hairline. “Will you?”

Robin looked around her, nervous. “He told me to think about it.”

He didn’t miss a beat, obviously. “That doesn’t answer my question.”

Her blue eyes finally met his and she could still see it, the remnants of glitter on his cheekbone and deep in his blue iris. She could feel the warm pressure he had on her heart.

She had always found Barney attractive, even when she was dating Ted. He was tall with a broad chest and strong arms; the kind of physic Robin always liked. She never liked blond, thinking it made them look girlie, but on Barney it was sexy. In a crowed of dark haired men, he looked fresh and he would shine blindly, his blue eyes staring at woman were like net they couldn’t help to jump into. His smile, either honest or crooked, was creating butterflies in her body and his voice, when a whisper was low and animal, making her body heat rise up. Simply put, Barney was a pretty boy with an animalistic sex appeal that could melt the iceberg in Titanic. Really, it was ridiculous how pretty he was. Man shouldn’t be pretty and she shouldn’t like them to be so, yet Barney had very manly manners that surrounded that prettiness and Robin always found it attractive.

She was so focusing on his pretty eyes, with his pretty smile that he had to wave a hand in front of her face to get her back on earth. She shouldn’t think like this about someone else than Don and she automatically felt guilty. Then, she realized. He was getting married too. She remembered her words to Nora; it was time to let him go. “I will, yes.”

Robin Scherbatsky let Barnet Stinson go. She hoped she will never have to tell how much it hurt her to do so.

“So, you and Barney are both getting married this year. That is quite unexpected.” Said Ted. He seemed partly depress now and Robin figured out it was mostly because he was the last single one in the group and dreamed of marriage and kids way before both her and Barney.

Lily held his hand in her personal motherly fashion, Marshall’s tapping his shoulder. “You will meet her soon, Ted, don’t worry.”

He smiled sadly. “The thing is, years ago, I thought that the One was Robin and then, Victoria. After, it was Stella. Every times I have a great fated meeting and it never end well.”

Robin snorted. “We didn’t have a fated meeting, Ted. Barney played “Have you met Ted?” with me.” Ted nodded sternly. “Yes, but you had been looking toward me for some times before. Barney just helped us to walk toward that fate.”

Robin never really liked fate or destiny. Like miracles, she never believed much about it and Ted’s talk about their “fated” meeting was annoying her slightly. “Stop talking about it like it was fate, Ted. Believe me, it wasn’t.”

Ted looked at her; his eyes saying “yes, it was!” and Robin rolled her eyes. Marshall interjected: “Ted, you know Robin never believed in those kinds of things, of course to her it’s different. But you are right, total destiny.”

Robin made an “arg!” sound from deep within her throat, tapping her glass in the table. “Robin?” asked Lily.

“I will crush all your fate speech right now Mosby.” He snorted, saying it was impossible. He knew fate when he saw it. Marshall nodded actively, while Lily was trying to calm Robin. “I doubt you can do that, honey. Ted is a one track mind kind of person.” Ted looked insulted for a moment.

“Guys, I will tell you my deepest secret. The secret I swore I would never say.” The three of them “oooh” and advanced themselves toward her, keen to know everything. She pointed her finger at Ted. “Remember Mosby, you pushed me.” The concerned swallowed soundly, but nodded, his curiosity eating him away.

“It was years ago.” She started dramatically, her friends hooked at her lips. “I was new in NYC and I came with some girl friends from work in a bar. This bar.” Ted jumped a bit on his seat, whispering “it’s the night we met, it’s the night we met!” like a five years old. “One of the girls had just been dumped and we were all under the obligation to hate all men that night.” Lily nodded in agreement, muttering the words “obviously” under her breathe.

“The thing is I had my eyes on a guy the second in entered the bar.” Marshall giggled like an excited 14 years old, waiting for the new Spice Girls movie. “I found him good looking, naturally relax, like those hot guys in Mad Men. Except it wasn’t on TV yet, but you get the idea…” Lily nodded and Ted smiled smugly. “But I couldn’t go talk to him because of the girls, so I gave up on the idea.” Marshall and Lily awww-ed together. “An hour later, my drink was empty and I went into the bar to get another one.” Ted started to jump again, excited that the moment he thought he knew, was coming.

“Then, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and met the eyes of the ones I will know later to be Barney Stinson and Ted Mosby.” She gave her tone something foreshadowing and dramatic, her friends hooked at her story like fishes. “Then, I thought: finally, he came to talk to me!” Marshall was almost yelling: “The suspense is killing me!”

Robin smiled wickedly, approaching her face, her friend following her movement. “I was wondering what my incredible crush would say for his first word to me. He seemed so perfect with his pretty eyes, his delicious smile...” Lily clapped her hands, excited. “It’s finally getting dirty!” Ted rolled his eyes and pressured Robin to finish her story.

She smiled like the devil. “He opened his mouth and said...” Ted was expecting the first word of their conversation, getting ready to come with his own speech into her story until Robin finally said, in a perfect imitation of their favorite player: “Haaaave you met Ted?”

There was a silence at the table. Her three friends were still advanced on their seat, mouth gapping, eyes fluttering. Lily threw herself back on the bench, hands in front of her. “Stop, stop, rewind. Are you telling us that the guy you goggled all night long was Barney?” Marshall gasped loudly.

Robin took a sip of her scotch, acting smug. “Yes. I didn’t even notice Ted until Barney introduced him.” Ted just stared at her. “See, not a fated meeting Ted, really.”

Marshall giggled: “Please, Robin, it was total fate.” She physically backed down. “I’m sorry?”

Ted smiled with a twinkle in his eyes. “It was, just not the one we thought.”

She looked around to her friends; three of them were smiling like they knew something she didn’t. It pissed her off greatly. Lily tapped her hand gently. Marshall passed his arm around his wife’s shoulders, their eyes meeting lovingly.

“Ted wasn’t your fate, Barney was.” Lily said, acting all lovey-dovey to her husband. She snorted. “Barney and me, we tried. Didn’t work out and we are now getting married to different people. It is not fate.”

Ted smiled at her with all the power of fatherhood he had in him. “You’re not at the finish line just yet, Robin.” And quoting his bro in question, he said: “Wait for it.”

She didn’t dare to ask what he meant.

When Ted, Barney and her left MacLaren’s, they all saw Ted, Marshall and Lily crying in each other’s arms, completely in distress. They didn’t ask any question and simply embraced them with everything they had. The five of them just stayed there, without moving for a long time. That night, Marvin Erikson, Marshall’s father, had died of a heart attack.

She remembered Marshall muttering all night long that he wasn’t ready for this and Robin wondered if someone was ever ready for that. Robin herself hadn’t talk to her dad in five years. She hadn’t had a really good relation with her paternal. He had treated her like a boy until she was 14 years old. At that time, her parents divorced and she moved in with her mom and little sister. A year later, she became a sensational teenage pop star; nothing really to help her shaky relationship with him.

Robin Scherbatsky Senior was a hard man, ex-CIA agent (or so she believed) and the guy scared more people than Dracula ever did. Yet, looking at Marshall at the funeral’s reception, all sad and helpless, she decided to call her dad.

“RJ.” He answered simply. No hello, no how are you. Just RJ. “Hi, dad.”

The rest of the conversation was short and nothing important or life changing happened, but for some reasons, she was glad that she called. Maybe that her father wasn’t her best friend like Marvin had been to Marshall, but he was her dad. Her father made her discovered scotch and cigars; he taught her that life was hard sometimes and that fighting thing that comes in your way was a sign of strength. He was a shitty dad, but he was hers.

After her brief conversation with her dad, she went outside the church to smoke. Barney was sitting there, on a bench, looking at his cell phone. She sat at his side. “Hey stranger.” She whispered. He gave her a small smile and respond with a “hey gorgeous” with the small tone of voice. She offered him a cigarette and he took it. “You really have everything in that purse.” He teased her. She said she went to many wakes in Canada when she was a teenager. Her father’ side of the family was pretty old, so she was used to this kind of place. “Now I know how to make an emergency kit for funerals.” He chuckled a bit and smoked his cigarette.

“I called my dad.” She said. He looked surprise for a moment and then, something of understanding passed in his eyes. He asked how it went. “No big significant talk, but I’m glad I called first.” He smiled at her, calling her the bigger man and she laughed a bit.

She looked around; the outside of the church was mostly surrounded by snow and pine trees. “This look exactly like a place Marshall would grow up in.” She said and he nodded. “Yep. All big spaces and big trees, … No wonder he grew such a giant.” He said. The Barney she knew would hate this place, but she suspected that the young kid he once was would have loved it here.

“I called my mom and told her I was ready to meet my real dad.” This confession shocked her more than she anticipated.

For years, Barney had blindly believed the word of his mother that his father was Bob Barker. He would watch The Price is Right every day, thinking that his father wasn’t there because he was too busy on TV. While growing up, he still held on to that belief, probably because he hadn’t been ready for the real reason. Then, eight months ago, his brother James found his real father. He was an old Pasteur named Sam, who looked kind and he had that very wise attitude that old Pasteur have. James had told Barney that their mother, Loretta, had refused for Sam to be a part of his education. It seemed that at the time, Sam wasn’t the most reliable man. James and his father were so very happy to have found each other and Robin believed it made Barney a bit lonelier. After that meeting, he had spent a lot of time with his mom and Robin simply let him be, not asking question he wasn’t ready to answered.

Last month, Ted had the entire gang invited to a big charity event at the Museum of Natural History. Barney had told them that last time he came here was when he was seven years old with his uncle Jerry. “It’s the last time I saw Uncle Jerry. Mom thought that he was a bad influence after what happened.” Barney, then, told them that seven years old him had took a bone of the giant Tryceraptor and throw it in the air, thus making the giant whale fall on the ground. Of course no one believed him.

The rest of the night, Robin and Barney played a game by touching the most things without being caught. After an hour, a security guard caught them anyway and brought them to his office. He mentioned that Barney had a file already at the museum and confirmed the bone and whale story. Robin couldn’t believe it. “You are sure?”

The security guard nodded: “Yeah, his guardian even signed right here: father, Jerry Whittaker.” Robin froze en Barney snorted. “Jerry was my uncle, not my dad.” The guardian supported that Jerry had checked at the father case.

Robin could read many emotions on Barney’s face at that time. He looked completely caught off-guard and it wasn’t a look she was used to. They left the museum later, making her promised that she would not breathe a word to the others. After that, Barney never mentioned his dad, until today.

“When are you meeting him?” He shrugged. He didn’t know yet. Her mom told him she had a way to contact him and she will give an address later. “If you ever need me there...” She let out. He grabbed her hand and thanked her.

Later on, Barney would go see his dad. Jerome Whittaker was now a family man with a wife and two kids. Barney got really angry at him, wondering why he couldn’t have been his dad when he seemed pretty happy to be a dad now. Jerry had a big heart and his biggest regret had to let Barney go and in the end, he succeeded by touching his son’s heart. Nothing changed really. Barney had still grew up without a father, he still had no idea how to use a hammer or a screwdriver, no one taught him to fish or to hunt, but Jerry taught him magic and at the end of the day, Barney had someone he could call a dad.

It was at Punchy’s (Ted’s friend) weddings in February, that the married popped out the news. “We’re pregnant!” There was a lot of hugging and tears and congrats thrown in the air. Barney proposed to steal a bottle of champagne at the reception bar later on. Ted gave him his disapproving daddy look, when Lily laughed. “Way ahead of you, sweetheart!” Like a magician, she got out of Marshall’s vest a Dom Perignon bottle. “You saucy mini kleptomaniac!” She passed it to Barney for him to pop it open (Marshall was still scared to open one without hurting anyone.) and Ted left for a second to get glass.

Once everyone served, Lily with her sparkling water and lime, they all clang their glasses, celebrating to new little person in our group. “I can’t wait to teach your kid how to live!” claimed Barney. The married rolled their eyes, but a smile drew on their lips.

Since Barney always trembled in fear in the notion that he might have got someone pregnant, they always thought he hated kids. It seemed that no matter how much he didn’t want to be a dad, being an uncle was totally awesome for him. Robin remembered his big brother James’ wedding.

With a homosexual brother, Barney probably had thought that James was the only wingman that would never leave him behind for the married life; yet, James found his soul mate in a sweet guy named Tom. Barney had been furious and felt completely abandon by his brother when he announced his engagement, but every bad feeling he might have had, all disappeared when James said that the wedding was to make adoption easier. Barney went crazy gaga at the idea of a baby Stinson and took his role of uncle more important than anything else. And if there was a baby in Manhattan that would be treated like royalty by their uncle, it would be future baby Erikson.

The rest of the night, they partied, danced, drank and had the most fun in forever. However, around midnight, Barney signaled them that he was taking his leave. “Quinn just finished her last shift at the Lusty Leopard. She’s feeling a bit sad, I’m gonna go see her.” He congratulated Marshall and Lily one last time and went to get his coat.

Robin followed him. “I should go back too; Don might be waiting at the apartment.” He took her coat and passed it to her. “Want a lift? I called Ranjit just now, he should be there soon.” She agreed and they ended up both outside the hotel of the reception, waiting in the cold. He got out a pack of cigarettes and passed to her after taking one. “Are you up for it?” She took one with a thank you and borrowed his lighter. After lighting it up, she gave it back to him and he lighted up his own. They both smoked in silence, watching the smoke in the air.

Barney always made smoking sexy. Well, to Robin anyway. She thought he had very nice hands and his lips would curl into something attractive every time the cigarette touched them. When he would breathe out the smoke, he didn’t do it like a weird fish, mouth fully open like some do. He would pursed his lips tightly together, letting smoke get out painfully slow but a small opening. Barney was a sexy smoker and just for that, she wished he’d never stop.

She broke the silence. “So, a kid. That’s great.” He chuckled, looking down at his feet. “Yeah...”

She smirked. “Next one might be you.”

He scoffed. He had no intention to become a dad right now, he told her. “Might ruin my awesomeness.” Then, he asked her the same question. She laughed, reminding him how much she didn’t want any children. She wanted to travel the world as a journalist, she didn’t need little munchkins tied her down in one city. “Too much hassle.”

The look in his eyes was a mystery. It’s ironic how well he knew her and how little she understood him. All she knew is that she couldn’t be so moved by him anymore and focused her sight on the sky. Then she heard a klaxon and they saw a black car coming at the entrance, Ranjit behind the wheel. They crashed their cigarette on the ground and both got in, Barney holding the door for her. They had a one hour drive to do and they passed it in silence.

“Can you believe it, Marshall? Two of our best friends are getting married this year!” Don laughed, happy-go-lucky and Marshall nodded actively. “I know, baby. So much preparation, we might go crazy.”

Barney took his place at the end of the booth, scotch in hand. “Quinn and I decided that we will start the preparations only in June, after Robin’s ceremony.”

Ted sighed with relief. Robin’s wedding was next month, in may, and he was stress about founding the perfect gift for it. Then he went on about how he was the perfect wedding gift giver and how he was glad that he had more time for Barney’s. Robin wasn’t listening much, playing with a glass of coke.

Ted, God bless him, noticed. “Since when do you drink jack and coke, Robin?”

Every eye was on her and she shifted uncomfortably. “I wanted to try something new.”

Then, like on cue, Marshall went on about the drink he invented called the Minnesota Tidal waves. It seemed a very girly drink to Robin and she was genially touched by Marshall’s antics. Barney wasn’t as moved as she was, since he pointed it out at loud. “Girly drink, much?” Of course, Marshall’s intentions to defend himself brought him to act like a total lawyer and Barney was silently listening to everything, hiding a smile in his drink. Robin knew that the blond just loved to work up his friend, finding it entertaining. Robin let herself be entertained too.

Its hours later and everyone, but Barney and her, had left. Don had coaxed her to leave together, but she told him that she was in the mood for a bit more and she would join him in an hour. Three hours later, she was still here, drinking with Barney. Barney was staring at her, his eyes creating shivers on her skin. “So, Scherbatsky, what’s up?”

She had so many things going on right now; she had no idea where to start explaining. Yet, with Barney, she knew that the trivial things about her wedding ceremony wouldn’t matter really. “Nothing much.”

He smiled slightly, drinking his scotch. “Well, something big happened two days ago.” She added.

That definitely got his interest. His advanced his body toward her across the table, begging to know. Robin smiled disappeared and so his. His brows knitted together. “What’s wrong?”

She searched for his eyes, looking for an anchor. She found them, the color of concern, glitter sparkling deep within them. She could not hide this anymore and she needed him to share her burden. The world standing on her shoulders was getting too heavy. “I might be pregnant.”

Time froze him for a second, before she saw him sat down lower on the booth, sighing. He looked at her Jack and coke glass, probably realizing there wasn’t any Jack in it. His eyes met hers and she hoped he would not look down. He didn’t.

“Going to the doctor?” he asked in a whisper.

“Tomorrow afternoon.”

He drank scotch. “With Don?”

She looked down. “He does know yet.”

He drank more. He hissed when the hard liquid passed through him. “Not sure to keep it then.” She didn’t answer. She didn’t need to because he knew, because he understood.

They had talk about it in the past, when they were dating. What would happen if she fell pregnant? They had been at it more than bunnies and Robin had voiced her concerned. He explained that he had a lot a pregnancy scare and in the end, you never know exactly how to react until you know for sure. She had mentioned that she never wants to have kids and he had smiled a smile that mean he knew things she didn’t.

“I never wanted to be a mom. Not even if I get married.” He looked into her eyes, searching for something.

“Well, you never wanted to get married too, things change all the time.” She did say anything back. She didn’t dare to reveal too much of her thoughts. She wanted to marry Don, but not once she had thought about having his children and today was no different.

“I thought I was pregnant once, with you.”

His eyebrow rose up high with that look of surprise that she found so adorable. “Only for a day, and it was mostly because I was late and Marshall was talking about having a baby all the time. But I did.”

He ordered another glass of scotch and she saw a veil of alcohol in his eyes. He was getting a bit drunker. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

She whispered a laugh. “After a day? I was mostly trying to process it and the next day, I wasn’t, so no point of mentioning it.” He kept silence.

“Barney?” She tried to hide so many feelings in her voice that she knew she failed. His drunken eyes warmed her up. “Would you come with me tomorrow?” He looked intensely at her for something that seemed like an eternity to Robin. He pushed away his yet untouched scotch and held her hand on the table.

“I’ll pick you up at your work.” And he did.

At the hospital, Robin was feeling like throwing up all the food in her stomach for that past three days. Thankfully, Barney’s presence was helping much more than she thought possible. He had sat on the chair next to her, his ankle resting on his knee, his arms behind her on the chair. He was acting like it was nothing at all for them being here, reading a magazine. But he cared and she knew, the constant pressure of his fingers on her shoulder kept reminding her.

A nurse came to get them and put them in a room, saying that the doctor will be there soon with the result. Hands in his pockets, Barney was casually leaning against the wall and she looked for his eyes. She found them stressed and wavering.

“What do I do if I am pregnant?” Her voice was a whisper and yet, his ears caught it.

He cracked his neck in nervousness. “What did you wanted to do last time?”

She knew he was referring to her confession last night and she tried to think about it. She remembered seeing a charming boy with blue eyes and blond hair, wearing a suit and giving her his father’s smile. She saw an adorable brunette girl with her nose and his sharp cheekbones making that face she knew she did when she was dying of curiosity. She had seen them beautiful and perfect, like him and her. Now, she tried to imagine the baby that might be in her belly and she can’t see anything at all. Somehow, that scared her more.

The doctor finally came and Barney approached himself near her, standing behind her chair. She felt the warmth of his body and the safety of his presence and everything seemed to be easier. The doctor was looking at her with all the seriousness of her position.

“I’m sorry, Miss Scherbatsky, but you are not pregnant.” Said the Doctor, in a heavy Japanese accent.

At the same time that relief washed over her, she felt Barney’s stress evaporating out of his body, the palm of his hand touched the lower part of her back, directly on her spine and she felt content.

They entered a cab in complete silence, but smiling. “Let’s go to the cigar bar.” She said. His smile grew wider and he gave the address to the cab driver. He bought her favorite cigar and scotch and they had an entire afternoon of gentleman’s fun.

It was late afternoon and they were both a bit under the influence of their sins. She supposed that it was the emotions of the past days, that had been a like rollercoaster, that pushed her to spill her secret.

“He was wearing a suit.” She blurted out. He crooked one eyebrow at her, his smile laughing at her. He probably thought she was drunk. She probably was a little.

“What?” he asked; laughter in his question.

She looked down at her drink, shy. “The boy I imagined I was pregnant with when we were dating, he was blond and wearing a suit.”

He hid a smile in his glass. “Hope it was Armani.” She wanted to grab his hand and pull him close to her, but she didn’t. There were too many things between them since forever.

His cellphone rang; it was Quinn. He confirmed his presence for diner and hung up. He threw her a look that meant he had to go and she smiled sadly at him, meaning she understood. He put his black credit card on the bar and asked the barman to put everything on it. She stood up to leave too, Don probably waiting for her at home. She touched his forearm as a silence thanks for paying and left before him.

The surprisingly cold air of March outside hit her like a ton of brick, cutting her breath in half. As a Canadian, she is use to cold, but the hallways of powerful winds in Manhattan are something else of this world and she let herself be swept away by it. She caught a cab and gave the driver her address. Once the cab started moving, she saw Barney leaving the club through the rear-view mirror. She tried not to stare. She really did.

It was only a month away from her wedding, everyone of her friends were talking about it and Robin was feeling pretty great about it all, until the doctor phoned her.

Back in the hospital, Robin felt lonely without Barney’s presence. Then, the same Japanese doctor met her and explained something that seemed very complicated and she missed his reassuring presence even more. There was a buzz in her mind and all Robin could think about was: “I can’t have children?”

The doctor sighed and showed some graphic on her computer screen but it was mostly a blur to Robin. “The chances of you getting pregnant naturally are below 5%. In this case, we have to call for infertility.”

She didn’t react at all. Most women might have cried, but she was just numb with the news. She saw the two children of Barney that she had imagined many years ago, beautiful and alive, in their teenage year. For some reasons, she didn’t want to let them go.

“But 5% still means I have chances, right?” Her voice was strong; a wall to protect her mind, to not show it was affecting her.

The doctor smiled a sad smile. “If it happens, it would be in the domain of a miracle.”

Well, damn it. She thought. Never believing in miracles came right back to bit her in the ass.

She bought a bottle of cheap gin and went for a walk in central park. It was cold for April, like hell had frozen over, but she didn’t have the mind to be bother by it. She walked until it was really dark and she ended sitting on a bench, looking in the distance.

She never wanted kids; that had always been a certainty in her mind. She wanted to be a journalist, going to every country on the planet on dangerous assignments and the idea of her, giving it all up for some pooping machine was incredibly stupid. But saying you don’t want kids and being told that you can’t were two different things. If one day she had change her mind, she might had tried to have kids, now it wasn’t even in the equation. Then, she saw them again, the two kids she thought she had once.

A couple of months ago, she had to let go of Barney in the most painful way and now, she had to let go of a dream she didn’t even know she had. No matter how easy she can imagine them, they can’t exist. They disappeared somewhere in dreamland and she stood up from the bench, frozen head to toes, and walked back home. She dreaded the talk she would have to have with her fiancé, but she was ready to face it. She couldn’t give them life but she will be damned if she didn’t live hers to the fullest.

“We haven’t received Barney’s answer for the reception.”

She was focusing on a TV show about ancient guns and Don was playing puzzle with the seating chart for the reception at the dinner table. “Sorry what?”

He sighed. “It’s your wedding too, you know, could help me a bit.”

She batted her eyelashes. “I did cake tasting.” She drank a sip of her beer bottle.

“Can you call Barney and ask him if Quinn and him want fish or chicken?”

She snorted half her attention still on TV. “Knowing Barney, he’s gonna go for the beef.”

He sighed again. “Well there is not beef, so make him choose.” She almost choked on her beer, all her attention leaving the TV. “There is no red meat?”

He stared at her. “No, there isn’t.” She stood up, feeling over-dramatic. “There is no red meat at my wedding?”

He ignored her outburst. “Just call him, Robin.” She took her cellphone on the coffee table and threw it at her fiancé. “Do it yourself.” Then, she sat angrily on the couch like a kid with a tantrum, while Don went for the kitchen with her cellphone.

Five minutes later, she was still muttering stuff about red meat when he came back in the living room. She didn’t notice his awkwardness at first, but his weird stance made her looked.

“He complained about the no red meat thing, didn’t he? Of course, he did. Barney knows the importance of beef.” He laughed and it sounded so very false to Robin ears and then, she knew something was amiss.

“Barney is not coming to the wedding.” She blinked her eyelashes furiously, like butterfly wings. “Yes, he does. Of course, he does.” Don sat at her side and took her hand. “Robin…” She let go of him and stood up.

“No. Barney is one of my best friends, he’s my bro, and he is coming.” Don met her eyes and he said sternly: “No, he isn’t.”She let out her breathe, trying to stop something in her chest to choke her. She sat on the couch again, feeling dizzy. “But he’s my best friend.” Don caressed her back.

“Quinn and Barney are going to a trip in Cuba. They’re taking the plane the same morning.” She stood up fast. “I’m going for a walk.” She took her sweater and left the apartment.

She walked for a long time. It was already late at night and the streets were alive only by the street lights, she didn’t even bother to think about going back. Then, without realizing, she was in front of Barney’s apartment building. She pondered about going up, but she took her cellphone out instead and called him. He answered on the second ring, but she didn’t let him say a word.

“You are so coming to my wedding, Barney Stinson or I’ll shoot you.” He chuckled. “You think it’s funny?”

He laughed again and she became furious. She was going to yell every insanity in her book when he said: “What are you doing walking outside in your pajamas?”

She looked around her franticly and spotted Barney walking toward her, a plastic bag from the liquor store in his hands. Robin thought he was gorgeous and for a second she wasn’t angry, just peaceful, bathing in his smile. Once in front of her, he hung up his phone and put it back in his breast pocket. She still had her phone stuck to her ear, looking at him when he laughed again.

“Is that blue dogs on those jams, Robin?”

She got out of her stupor and put her phone in her sweater pocket. She played a bit with her hair and closed the white sweater around her. “My little sister gave it to me.” She heard him muttering “Ah, good old Katie.” with affection. She grew self-conscious by the minute and grabbed her pajamas pants in her fist. “I didn’t realize I was wearing them.”

He took her hand that was still fisting and her fingers automatically relaxed. His thumb was tracing gentle circles on the top of her hand, near her knuckles. She focused her eyes on that. Robin was still furious at him and yet, she didn’t remember why exactly. Something was fuming and burning in her heart, hurting her throat. She heard him draw a deep breathe.

“I won’t be coming, Robin. I’m sorry.”

This time, she was the one that didn’t miss a beat. “But you have to.” He didn’t answer, his hand still holding hers. “You’re my bro. Don’t you have a code about not going to a bro’s wedding or something?”

She sounded desperate to her own ears, but hidden in the cover of the night of New York, she didn’t care much. She looked up, trying to catch the color of his eyes, he didn’t let her. He dropped her hand, took a huge step behind, distancing himself and the hand holding the bag fisted. His other hand went to massage the back of his neck. He drew many hard breathe, a tremor in his legs. “We are not bros. We haven’t been since forever. We are ex-lovers.”

He was right. For someone that always fled reality and feeling, Barney had always been very sensitive and perspective to everything. His intuition about her was always alarmingly spotted on. She knew that Ted claimed himself the expert of Robin Scherbatsky, but secretly it was Barney that held the medal.

The bastard had always been a closet genius and she had to admit she did hate him a little for it. He may act silly most of the time, but Robin knew that deep down, it was mostly because he was intelligent enough to not show it off. The capacities he would possessed always surprised her, like that time he decided to learn 100 decimals of PI for a bet with Marshal. When they were a couple, she would see things she never thought possible for Barney. He was utterly impossible and it was impossible for him to not come at the most important day of her life.

“It’s like when Ted invited you to his wedding with Stella, no one wants to be the ex at a wedding.” She knew what he meant, but they relationship was years ago. Didn’t they move on from this? She asked him.

“I don’t think it’s quite possible for me to do that.” She was surprise by his confession. “I mean, I really loved you and I kept thinking that f I had been good enough to make you happy, we would still be together.”

She tried again to look into his eyes but he obstinately refused to meet hers. “But Quinn...” His head shot back up toward her face. “I love her.” He stated, firmly. She wanted to ask if he loved Quinn as much as he loved her, but she bit her tongue, knowing it would be just plain cruel.

“I gotta go up, she’s waiting for me. We are watching Love Actually.” She didn’t know if he was ironic about this or just resolute. He signed a goodbye and went toward the door. She looked at his back, the silk of his navy blue suit was glowing slightly under the street light and her heart felt so heavy.

She had no idea what took over her and years later, she wouldn’t know either, but she just yelled at him: “I can’t have kids.”

He stopped on his track. “The doctor told me just a week after we went for the pregnancy test.” That was a month ago and she hadn’t breath a word to her friends yet, not knowing exactly how to do it. “I told Don, obviously, but he didn’t care.” He just stood there, in front of the automatic door of the lobby, not moving. “He said he didn’t want kids anyway.” She saw the plastic bag in his hand move, he was holding it strongly. “He said he didn’t care, but... but...” For the first time in six months, she felt tears burning her eyes. “I can’t have kids, Barney. I’m a defect.” It wasn’t about Don, it was about herself. She felt like a complete failure. “My dad wanted a boy so much and in the end, I’m not really a girl either.”

He abruptly turned around and let go of his bag. It made a big clang went it hit the ground but all she could hear was Barney heavy foot step coming toward her. He grasped her shoulder and slammed her against him in a strong embrace. Finally, she cried. It was the first time for her to cry about this. She just never let herself, thinking that it was for the best anyway. Now, in his arms, she was ready to mourn them; these two wonderful kids she will never get to meet, she mourned them. Her arms went behind his back to grip his shoulders. She held to him and cried.

It took her at least ten minutes for being able to speak again. “I don’t want kids but knowing I can’t even have them…” She let the rest go in the void. She didn’t need to speak anyway, not with Barney. “You are a woman, Robin. A beautiful and brilliant woman, you are made of awesomeness.” She laughed a bit into the crook of his neck.

“I’m still surprise that someone would want to marry me.” She heard his breathe on her ear and he let go of his embrace but kept his hands on her arm. “I know that when you listen to Ted, Marshall or Lily, marriage seems to be just something you do when you find someone to have your kids and share your mortgage, but it’s not. You don’t get married for that Robin, you get married to be with this person forever, to spend the rest of your life with them.” She breathed in his answer, trying to grasp his rare wisdom. “It’s not a protocol or anything like Ted makes it so, it’s for you; for you to feel that you belong with someone, to someone.”

He dried her tears with his thumbs. “I’m sorry that you can’t have kids, but don’t cry for that. Live your awesome life like you planned. Travel the world, be a great journalist and forget about things that tie you down.” She could hear the overtone saying “forget about me”, but she ignored it.

He looked at her finally. His eyes were a shade that she didn’t know the meaning. “Robin, I am not coming to your wedding.”

She was sad, she was in pain, like that day when she had to give up the kids that never were and like that day, she accepted the inevitable fate, while watching the very last glitter on his cheekbone disappeared. “I know.”

With her wedding coming in a bit less than three weeks, it became the topic of conversation of all her friend. They asked her a bunch of questions about the color of the drapes, the flower in the bouquet, all questions that Robin had no idea. Don and his sister were doing mostly everything. The only thing Robin took care of was her dress.

A long time ago, was she was young and that getting married was the dream life, Robin had wish for nothing more than a Vera Wang gown. So, with a five months pregnant Lily, she went shopping for the perfect dress. It seems that when you are looking for a Vera Wang, you can’t find one. They had desperately looked everywhere for one that was Robin’s dream dress and they didn’t find any. They came back at MacLaren’s that night completely exhausted and without a dress.

“Ever thought about checking on Internet?” Asked Ted. Robin and Lily were rejuvenated by this and Ted went to get Marshall Laptop upstairs. When he came back, Barney was with him. They all sat at the booth, looking through every dress they could find. Well, except Barney, who seemed to have no interest whatsoever.

“Ooh, Robin! Look at that Vera Wang!” It was a simple gown embroided with laces, tight around the waist; not showing much cleavage, but the back was completely open. Robin loved it instantly. “That’s it! That’s the one!”

Lily made some verification and discovered that the dress was in England but could be send out for fitting in a wedding gown shop in New York. Robin was actually starting to get excited by this wedding when she saw the price.

“Vera Wang, you son of a bitch!” Lily’s eyes were bigger than a glass of gin. “That’s not the price for a gown, it’s for a monument!”

Both Ted and Barney looked at the price, curious. They both choked on their own saliva. “Robin, you can never offer yourself something like that.” Ted said, looking pitiful. “I’m sorry.”

Lily took her hand and whispered word of comfort, but nothing really worked. She had found the perfect dress and she couldn’t wear it. She shrugged it off, like always. “It’s fine! It’s way too glamorous for me.”

The rest of the conversation mostly ran around how expensive getting married was. Then, Ted changed the subject to Lily’s pregnancy and the rest of the night went on. Hours later, at the apartment, she told Don about the incredible gown that was more expensive than the diamond on her finger. He laughed, saying that she doesn’t need a ridiculous expensive dress to be pretty. Yet, while falling asleep that night, all she could think about is that yes, she needed it.

A week later, the wedding was dangerously approaching and she was still in search of the perfect gown. Ted had told her, like he was her dad, that she shouldn’t have wait a month before the ceremony to look for it, but she ignored him. Lily had given up walking around every day for shopping, her back hurting like hell. Robin understood that the bigger her belly was becoming, harder it was for her to walk around for hours, but she missed her friend every time she entered a shop.

One afternoon, after spending her entire hour of lunch break shopping without result, she came back to work. There was a group made of the entire researchers like her around her desk. “What the hell, women?”

She parted the crowd and Nora was near her chair, eyes shining of admiration. “Oh Robin…”

She glanced down and turned her chair around. Sitting there was the gown. The more-expensive-than-the-diamond-on-her-finger-wedding-gown made by Vera Wang that was supposed to be in a very posh shop in London. It was here, on her chair.

“What? How..? What!?” She was utterly gobsmacked. No coherent thoughts were passing in her brain.

Nora touched her arm to get her attention. “Barney.” She simply stated as a matter of fact.

“Sorry?” She wasn’t processing things very well right now.

Nora smiled, full of admiration behind her iris. “He came in with this, saying that it was your early wedding present.” She took a blue envelop that was on her desk and she gave it to her.

She opened it with more delicacy that one normally used and she took the simple card out. He was saying that the dress was his way to ask forgiveness for not coming to her wedding. “I know you will look breathtaking in this. You are going to rock this marriage thing Scherbatsky. Bazinga!” She felt tears prickling her eyes. She looked down at the magnificent gown that she dreamed all her life and it was soaked in blinding glitter.

“Holy confetti, Robin! Stop it! I’m almost 6 months pregnant and I will sit on you.”

Robin threw a deathly stare at her friend, but Lily returned it tenfold. Ted was right, that miniature woman was part devil inside. Robin sat on Lily’s couch, trying to relax. “Fine, fine. I stop moving.”

Lily sighed and grabbed her hand. “I know a wedding is stressful believe me, but it’s in five days now, all the preparation are finished, no need to stress, honey.”

“I know.” She breathed. “It’s not the preparations that are stressing me; I don’t care about the flowers or colors, seriously.” Her redheaded friend looked at her like she was mental. After all, Lily had been the kind of bride that had stressed that the roses of her wedding hall weren’t the right shade of pink. Robin, however, couldn’t care less about this. Don mostly took care of everything, with his sister, creating a small ceremony with way too many people. That was the problem. Don had a huge family and even thought he never see them; he decided that they all should be there.

“I mean, only my mother, my father and Katie are coming on my side. Don had the entire Greek wedding thing going on: it’s too much!”

Lily sighed and signaled her to sit near her. Robin did so and her friend enveloped her in a warm embrace. “Robin, I am sorry to ask you this, but…” Lily hesitated and Robin pushed her to say it. “Are you sure you want to go through with this wedding?”

“Say what?!” Lily threw her the “where’s the poop” look and Robin was resolute to held her gaze.

“Robin, not once you acted like a future bride. You should be bubbling with excitement and eradiating of love.” Robin rolled her eyes. “Instead, you are gray and all made of knots like a boat.”

Robin stopped her track of mind for a second to think about Lily’s word. “Did you just compare me to a boat?”

Lily waved it off. “Not the point! Robin, do you want to get married to Don?”

She nodded actively. “Yes, yes, yes, I do, yes, yes!” The “poop” eyes came back, but she ignored them grandly and sent from heaven to save her, Barney, Ted and Marshall entered the apartment.

The three of them looked drunk at first sight. Barney directly went to the kitchen to open the fridge, Ted sat on the chair in the living room and Marshall threw himself at his wife feet, cuddling her enormous belly. “My Lily, my boy, I love you! Don’t ever leave me!”

The woman in question laughed. “Now, why would we, Marshmallow?” Ted started to weep and so did Marshall.

Marshall yelled at the top of his lungs: “ Barneeeeey, I love you man!”

Ted stood up in a flash, making Robin startled. “Me too Buddy! Let’s get married together like James did and adopt children.” Ted, in a drunken fashion, walked toward his friend that was getting out of the kitchen with a newly open beer. He grandly hugged him. “I love you so much man! Let’s go play “have you met Ted?””

Robin stood up asking for order. “O.K. guys, what’s with the big love declaration?” Lily, still sitting on the sofa, her legs trapped in her husband embrace, caught Robin’s arm and signaled her to look at Ted and Barney.

Ted had still his arms around the neck of his friend and Barney had difficulty to keep them still and standing. She finally noticed his eyes; all red, his lips; twitching and her heart hurt. Lily stood up, leaving a drunk Marshall to fall asleep on the ground and went toward him. “Oh Honey, what’s wrong?”

Barney twitched nervously and threw Ted back on the couch. He flattened his tie and rearranged its knot. “Nothing, really, I’m fine.”

“Barney, where’s the poop?” Asked Lily directly. Maybe it was the pregnancy but Lily’s motherly stare was freakishly more powerful than ever. Barney started to melt like a puddle.

“No poop! Just a bit drunk. Tequila does that.” He looked at Marshall that was muttering love words about his wife in his drunken sleep and he smirked. “They are such bad drinkers.”

Ted started to mumbled things that were incomprehensible. “Ted is so drunk, we need subtitles...” Robin stated, looking at her friend.

“He asked for a pillow.” Robin and Lily stared at Barney. “I speak drunk.”

They aahh-ed and Lily whispered something like “obviously, you would” and Robin put a pillow under Ted’s head. Their two friends started to snore loudly and while Lily took place on the chair, Barney slouched himself on Ted’s legs. The assaulted one grunted something and fell right back to sleep. Robin sat on the arm of the couch, her hand finding Barney’s shoulder.

“Lily’s right, I smell poop too.” Under the two girls’ insistent stares, Barney sighed loudly and took a big gulp of his beer.

He whispered: “Man, I’m not drunk enough for this.” And drank again, finishing his bottle in one shot. “Quinn and me broke up, she’s moving out.”

Lily “oh honey”-ed him, looking all sad and pitiful. Robin grasped his shoulder and caressed them delicately. She wondered for a moment if she was doing this for his comfort or for her to not fall down on her butt. “I’m sorry, Barney.”

He looked up at her; a small smile on his lips, his blue eyes the shade of acceptance. “It’s alright. It would have been a horrible marriage. We love each other, but we don’t trust each other.”

“Well, I think that, even if it’s a sad thing, you took the right decision.” Intersected Lily, acting like Oprah. “You don’t build a marriage on lies Barney and I’m very proud that you understood that.” She made a very motherly face again and wept a little. “My big boy is all grown up.”

Robin chuckled and Barney rolled his eyes, a smile playing on his lips. She met his blue eyes again, blue like an autumn sky, and she felt her heart leap. He was broken and sad and she was scared of how exactly he will deal with it, this time.

Two days later, Barney went back to his old self and for a moment there, Robin thought that maybe she had exaggerated her impression of his pain. However, the third day, Barney came in MacLaren’s, while she was eating with Don, with the cutest dog ever. Robin was a fervent dog lover, everyone knew that, but she never pegged Barney for it. She rapidly understood: Barney had found him in the street, named in Brover and made him is new wingman. He started to talk about making suit for the dog, when he left with it for the bar, to order something.

“Don, this is out of hand, we need to do something.” Don gave her the “really?” look and Robin fixed her eyes in his, resolute. He sighed. “Fine...”

They invited him for diner the same night and even Don, that thought she was over-reacting about Brover, went a bit weird when Barney asked him to settle a place at the table for Brover. He was going to argue something, but Robin cut him off, putting a plate on the table near Barney. “Isn’t he the cutest bro ever, Robin?” She smiled kindly. “Yes, he is.”

Don took her apart in the kitchen. “Robin, don’t encourage him, this is insane!” She mimed the word “I know” and took a look at Barney at the table. He was answering his cellphone that was ringing. “He feels lonely and sad. When I had five dogs, I did the same for a couple of days, we just need to show him our support.” He didn’t look so sure about her statement, when Barney stepped in the kitchen, Brover in the crook of his arm.

“That was Brover’s owner. It seems he ran away from his kennel and now that she came back in town and she’s looking for him.”

She grabbed his forearms, caressing him. “Oh I’m so sorry Barney.”

He sniffed; his eyes full of water. This dog was definitely not helping his abandonment issues. Lily would have a field day with this if she was here. “Want me to go with you at the owner’s place?”

His voice was small, like the kid she knew he could be. “Really?”

She smiled and they departed together, leaving Don with the dishes. He kissed her goodbye. “Don’t be too long.” He asked and let her go.

When they arrived in the right building, Barney started to walk at a slower pace. She put her hand on his lower back to push him forward. She expertly stops thinking about the tingle in her fingers and the silkiness of his suit.

“You ready to say goodbye?” She asked, getting him ready for the inevitable. He nodded.

“Thanks for coming with me.”He told her, eyes honest and beautiful. She smiled and nudged him in the arm. Her hand found the dog’s ear and she scratched him with affection.

“Oh well, you did the same for me back when I had to give away all my dogs. Remember?”

He smiled, and chuckled. “Oh yeah, we drove to your aunt’s farm upstate.” He chuckled again. “I love how she was this wise, old, chilled out, lesbian farmer.”

She laughed. “No, no, no. She is not a lesbian.” She added for a laugh: “Nor does she farm them.” He smirked at her joke. She continued to scratch Brover. “No, that woman she lives with, that’s just her special friend Maureen. They’ve live together for...” She froze for a second, letting her own word to sink in. Barney gave her his “come on, think Scherbatsky” eyes, with a wicked smile playing on his lips. “Oh.” Damn, my aunt is a lesbian.

The rest of the night went pretty well, she played the perfect wingwoman by letting Barney entered the apartment of Brover’s owner and she went back to Don’s, finishing her dessert and go to bed. She felt asleep like a rock, panic attack did not kept her awake. Well, so she told herself all night long.

Robin didn’t know exactly how the hell she ended up in Okinawa with all the places in the world, but not once since she arrived, she had regretted her decision. The Okinawa archipelago was breathtaking and probably one of the most beautiful beaches she had never walked on. The ocean was clear and warm, fishes were of thousands of colors and the wind had a delicious taste of salt and freedom. Everything was utterly perfect, except for the fact that she felt lonely.

On the third night, after a classy diner at an incredible sushi bar, she came back to her hotel and texted him. Five minutes later, her Skype was ringing on her laptop and she met his blue eyes. Suddenly, the room felt way much hotter than it actually was and she felt her cheeks burn under his stare. His eyes were sparkling, his smile utterly wicked.

“You saucy little minx, you pulled a Julia Roberts.” Barney teased her. She bit her lower lips and looked down. “How’s Lily, Marshall and Ted?”

He rearranged his seating position and chuckled. “They were worried at first, but they guessed that you would contact us sooner or later. Ted is pretty angry to have to deal with your groom, though.” He is focused on his camera, probably for giving her a stare to make her feel just a bit guilty.

She nodded. “Tell him I’ll apologize profusely when I come back.”

He smiled and nodded in agreement. “Come back from where exactly? Where are you?”

She took a deep breathe. “Okinawa.”

His eyebrows shut up. “The main island?” She nodded. “Nice chose Scherbatsky! I’m proud.”

She smiled. “Of course, Barney Stinson has been here before.” He made a “duh!” face and laughed.

When their laughter subsided, there was a silence and Robin didn’t know exactly what to say, so she just said the first think she could think about: the reason for why she called. “I feel a bit lonely though.”

His smile was a bit sad. “When do you come back?”

In 4 days, she said. She talked to him about that great sushi bar she just went. He rolled his eyes and told her that there was an even better one in a little place near the harbor. He gave her the address and she promised him to go the next day for lunch. There was another silence and Barney broke it. “I received the wedding gown this morning.”

She nodded solemnly. The night right before her wedding, she packed the minimum of stuff, bought a ticket to Okinawa on the net departing in 5 hours and she was all set to leave everything behind when her eyes had found the Vera Wang wedding gown. She had loved that dress the moment she had seen it and the fact that it was a gift from Barney made it even more precious to her. But she wasn’t going to wear it the next day, so she carefully packed it and gave it to the doorman at Barney’s apartment.

Barney cleared his throat, getting her out of her thoughts. “What happened, Robin? What changed your mind?” Oh, that was such a complicated and loaded question. Robin thought about it carefully.

In the afternoon, Don had left to sleep at a hotel before the big day and Robin had spent that afternoon with Lily, getting massages and manicure. After all that relaxation, they both went to MacLaren’s to join their friend for one last drink, before going to bed. All day long, she had not once thought that she wouldn’t go through with the wedding. Her parents and sister were there all happy for her. (Well as happy as her dad can be.) The three of them had fell in love with the future groom and everything was perfect. Until her father came to MacLaren’s, that is.

His reason was mostly because he wanted to meet her friends before the actual wedding day. He sat with them, promising Robin he would only stay for an hour and then leave her to celebrate her last night.

She knew that her dad would like Marshall. He was big (huge) and was all about a little boy pleasing his daddy. Her dad gave him a couple claps on the shoulder, calling him Erikson and just like that, Marshall had Scherbastky Sr’s approval. Of course, because Lily was a dutiful wife bearing his first child who happens to be a boy, he treated her like a goddess.

Ted was another story, at first she thought her dad wouldn’t like him much, but it seems that Ted tendencies to be a bit of a snob struck a chord on her father’s affection. The fact that Ted was currently the architect of one of the biggest building in NYC was helping a lot. Senior promised to come at the opening at Christmas Eve in 2012.

She always thought that her father and Barney would clash. They were complete opposites. Her father was all Canadian man, killing bear with his bare hands and doing some wet work for the CIA. He naturally despises everything that is Barney. He hated blond men that were funny, sensible and perspective. Normally, her dad would have hated him. He even said directly to Barney’s face that men weren’t supposed to be blond, that was for woman. Of course, Barney had surprised her yet again.

“A scotch Sir? They have a great Macallan 35. Neat?” He asked, while signaling Wendy to come to take the order. That impressed her dad. “You like scotch?” Barney had chuckled. “Who doesn’t? If you want, I think I still have some Romeo and Juliette cigar from my last trip to Cuba…” Like magic, he got two cigars out of his breast pocket and the eyes of Scherbatsky Senior just lighted up. “Yes, let’s smoke one later.”

Of course, Robin knew herself that simply liking scotch and cigar wasn’t enough to gain her father approval. She tried that a thousand of times in her childhood without any results. But now, at least, he was seeing Barney as a man and not a blond transvestite. 5 minutes later, Barney’s cellphone rang and he looked at the I.D. window. “Damn it, North Korean’s leaders are annoying this time of year…” He said very casually. He excused himself and stood up, answering his phone in a fluent Korean. He came back into the bar 10 minutes later and sat on his chair. Marshall asked what was wrong with the North Koreans. After all, everyone was dying to know what his job was.

He just shrugged. “Just complaining again that the U.S gave new big bad guns to South Korea, you know? The usual. Ungrateful bastards…” Barney seemed that have notice as well as Robin the look of complete admiration shinning in her father eyes. Barney’s smile became wicked.

With a foot in the arena, Barney went for the kill. “It’s mostly just this new weird pen pushing leader that annoyed me, though.” He took out his phone a second time and act like he was screening his contact. “Maybe I should just call my sniper guy.”

Everyone became just one big chorus. “You have a sniper guy?” Barney snorted. “Please! Who doesn’t?”

They were all going to argue when Robin Scherbatsky Senior, hater of the world extraordinaire, put his heavy hand on Barney’ shoulder and a very fatherly fashion. Something he had never – ever- done before. “Exactly, son. Exactly.”

Her father left an hour later, completely enamoured with Barney Stinson. Before leaving, he took her apart from everyone else. “Good friends you got there. That Stinson guy is a good son of gun.” He left with a pat on her shoulder, but overall, Robin was satisfied of the evening. She stayed at the bar to order another scotch and it’s when everything went wrong.

She went back to her seat, all smiles and a bit drunk. Her father had liked Barney! She was so very happy of this simple fact, she felt like to best moment of the whole year was happening right now. They all had laughed together until midnight, Ted and Marshall arguing on total silly stuff in Back to the Future, Lily rolling her eyes, here and there and Barney putting his word in just to create more mess. Her leg was touching his on the seat, her shoulder bumping his every now and then. He would look into her eyes to say something hilarious, glitter in his iris and she would giggle like the drunk she was. Everything seemed perfect, when Lily kicked her in the leg.

“It’s midnight girl, you should go back and sleep. Don’t want to miss the big day tomorrow!” Robin giggled in her glass. Ted made an oh-la-la and laughed. “Damn, she is wasted.” She finished her drink and grabbed Barney’s arm. “My daddy liked you very much. He called you a son of a gun!” He chuckled and patted her hand. “That’s good, Scherbatsky, now go home and sleep.”

She giggled even more when Marshall helped her up. She cuddled him, calling him a big fluffy teddy bear. Once outside, she lashed herself at Barney’s arm again. “Let’s share a taxi!” Lily grabbed her and pulled her away from Barney. “You are sleeping with me upstairs, remember?” Robin pouted. “But it’s the night before my wedding; I don’t want to go through to whole lesbian experience again.” She thought that maybe that fact was the same as the fact that she was the bride. She could ask for anything and get it. But not with Lily Aldrin. “Exactly, you are getting married. And girls that get married the next day don’t share cabs with another man.”

She sobered up in an instant. She stood silence for a moment, looking in Lily eyes for something she knew wasn’t there. It was because it was just her fantasy. For the past 3 hours, since her father had left, she had thought herself engaged to Barney. For 3 hours, she thought that tonight she would succeed to convince him that the night apart was just stupid, go back to his place and make love until she had to put her wedding dress and marry him. For 3 hours she had been engaged to Barney Stinson and nothing made her happier.

Lily brought her upstairs and put her to bed. An hour later, Robin had sneak out, went to her apartment to pack and left NYC for Okinawa.

“Robin?” Her eyes met his one the computer screen. “It’s ok if you don’t want to talk about it.” She smiled sadly at him. “I wasn’t in love with him, Barney. That’s just… that.”

He saw her helplessness, he saw her defiance to talk about it, and so he understood and never asked about it again.

“Just tell me a story, Mosby!!” yelled Lily, while crushing Ted’s hand.

The three of them were in a hospital room, waiting for Marshall and Barney to come back from an impromptu trip to Atlantic City. It was November and Lily was slowly getting ready to pop at any time and Ted was the biggest ball of stress Robin had never seen. Why Lily had send Marshall away so close to the delivery date, Robin would never understand. “He was stressing me too much, so I asked Barney to bring him there for a weekend. Not my fault the baby’s early!”

When the doctor came to check the advancement of the delivery, Robin got a good look at her friend’s vagina wide open with a head trying to push itself out. Obviously, she fainted. Really, she never was this happy knowing that her own vagina wouldn’t have to go through this. When she woke up, she was in the waiting room, her head on Barney’s tight.

“Want me to get you a bucket to throw up in?” He teased her when she sat up on the chair. She gave him a deadly stare and he just chuckled. “It’s alright Scherbatsky, happen to the best of us.” She mentioned that a vagina shouldn’t be able to do that and started to explained what she saw. He made a face of disgust and he massaged his neck. “Yeah, I am definitely not going to look right now.”

“Haven’t seen much of you since you’re back.” He said. It’s true that she somewhat managed to evaded him since Okinawa. After all, Robin knew that he was the reason she didn’t get married and she honestly had no idea whatsoever how to deal with these feelings. Was she ready to go back to him? Long ago, when they broke up, she had made him so miserable that the memory itself was enough to stop her. What if she still wasn’t ready, what if her feelings for Barney were too strong for her to handle? Looking deep into his blue eyes, she looked for answers. She only saw glitter, blinding her mind.

“Sorry. Been busy with the wedding cancellation and moving out of Don’s place. Summer had been crazy.” He asked where is her new place and she said she found a great apartment near Central Park. “It’s a bit expensive but I can manage.”

There was a silence between them that she didn’t like so she asked if Marshall was in there with Lily and he nodded. “Ted went to the bathroom, should be back soon.” At his words, Ted came back toward them. Robin wasn’t one to notice much. For a journalist, she wasn’t very perceptive. However, Ted seemed like he was floating instead of walking. It seemed that Barney noticed too. “Bro, what’s with the “I’m getting married and having ten babies face?”

Robin laughed under her breathe, but Ted’ smile just got wider. “Before Lily made her distress call, I was in McLaren’s having coffee with Victoria.”

Both her and Barney made an “oh” face, eye wide open. “The one that got away Victoria?” she asked.

“The one that was getting engage Victoria?” asked Barney.

Ted nodded actively and sat next to his friend. “I called her, she came. She is not engage and she wants to try it again.”

Ted’s smile was bigger than she had seen in a long time and she was utterly happy for her friend. At that moment, Marshall came to end, an empty expression on his face. They all stood up and asked for news. Marshall took a deep breath and chuckled with nerve. “I’m a father.”

They all shared an enormous group hug and she could see tears shinning in Ted’s and Marshall’s eyes. The new father shared is experience with everyone about the birth and Robin suspected a bit of storytelling going on, but she didn’t say a thing. After all, she doubted that the Erikson boy got out of his mother’s womb hurling like Nessie out of the Loch Ness. A couple a minutes later, the nurse came to say that the mother and the child were ready to see everyone.

Lily was sweaty, exhausted and looked like she went through the nine gates of hell. Yet, Robin never found her lovelier, the bundle of joy all crooked into her arms. It was the beauty of a mother and she felt a bit emotional at seeing them both together. The second Barney saw the kid, thought, he started weeping like a grand-mother. “Look at him! He is so adorable!”

Everyone smiled with love and affection for the new family and for the emotional uncle Barney. With his finger, Barney touched the little boy hand. “Thank God, Bro! You took after your mom.”

Marshall struggled to make an insulted face, but gave up fast, looking at his son. “Yeah... You’re right.” The couple kissed and giggled at their son. That was one big happy family.

“What’s his name?” Asked Ted, all excited. Marshall smiled down to Lily. “Well, since I made a promise to Barney that he could choose his middle name if he got me here in time...”

Barney’ smile was worth ten megawatts, while Robin and Ted looked at each other, uncertainty in their eyes. She doubted that had been a good idea.

Lily smiled at her son. “His name is Marvin. Marvin Wait-for-it Erikson.” Everyone took a second or two to think about it. Of course, they all agreed in unison: best name ever. Marshall and Barney high fived and Ted laughed. Robin had doubts that the name would be on the official document, but she let it go. After all, the moment was the most magical moment she had never lived.

Ted brought them all together, under his arms and looked down at Marvin. “Welcome to the family, buddy.”

“I can’t believe I’m talking to a therapist.”

It was finally 2012. 2011 had been an incredibly eventful year with the engagement of Barney and hers. Then his split with Quinn and Robin had run away from her ceremony. At least the year finished well with the birth of Marvin Erikson, but Robin had been sick of 2011 and had been grateful to enter a new year. It was already spring now and she felt like 2012 wouldn’t be so much better either.

Sitting on a big leather chair, Robin was looking at the man in front of her. She never –ever- thought she would end up right here. “Usually, I’m not the touchy-feely-talk-about-your-emotions type, but with this, I just had to be a big enough person to admit that I need help.” She chuckled. “I guess this is what growing up feels like.” She stated as a matter of fact, with a full self-belief.

The man in front of her looked at her with a dubious expression. “This is court-mandated therapy. You assault a woman.”

She laughed, pushing away an invisible fly with her hand. “That silly thing!” She laughed nervously again. “I guess we can talk about that.” She took a deep breath and started.

“You see I was going to get married to this great guy, but I ran away the night of the ceremony because I had feelings for my ex-boyfriend; Barney.” The therapist sighed and started to write notes rapidly on his pad. She tried to get a look at it, but his handwriting was too messy.

“Anyway, I’m still trying to figure out things about me and him and everything else in between and well, something happened.”

Robin was at this office and work was getting extremely boring. She had to research the origin of the smilies and seriously, it was hell. She never thought she would have to revisit old MSN messenger and it reminded her of the long and pitiful hours she spent on that chat, talking to her gay boyfriend.

“Disturbing much? Shouldn’t we talk about that instead?”

The therapist sighed. “Just keep to the point, please.”

She rolled her eyes. “Well, there is this girl I’m working with. Nora.”

“You alright there, Robin?” Nora glided toward her, like an angel on a cloud. She was always all smiles and sparkles, with a perfect little nose. Robin shrugged: “Just bored. What’s with the big smile?”

Nora eyes became shinier and she giggled. “I had a great date with Barney last night!” Robin almost chocked on her coffee. “Say what?”

It was true that Barney had appreciated Nora at their first date a long time ago, but he had already started to see Quinn and nothing with Nora had ever happened. However, Barney never mentioned his intentions of rekindling with Nora in the first place. She went on and on about their fated meeting at the Starbucks last Tuesday morning and how all her feelings for Barney just came in one big wave when she saw him there. The overly cheesy storytelling was making her shudder. Fated meeting? Please!

“You must already think that I'm a horrible person.” She said, a bit exasperate by her own conduct.

He smiled. “Robin, many of my patients are disturbed felons.” He stated. “Last week, one of them mailed me a bag of his feces.” He chuckled. “On the plus side, he remembered my birthday.” She smiled too. He assured her she was doing fine and she continued.

After that diner, Barney did his best to prove he was a good boyfriend and showered her with gift, like flower, chocolate, wine. Finally, Barney ended up coming at the office and signing to her a song before taking her out for lunch.

“Well, finally, I-I just couldn't take it anymore.” She said. “I snapped.”

He advanced himself on his chair “And that's when the assault occurred?” he asked.

She shrugged. “Not exactly.”

She stole a bottle of wine from Sandy Rivers’ office and stole Nora’s chocolate.

“So, you're drunk under a desk, binge-eating stolen chocolates.” Resumed her therapist.

She sighed. “Boy, I am not coming across great here, am I?”

He smiled nicely and added: “This is not about how you're coming across.” He paused. “But no.”

She continued her story, saying it was getting harder and harder to be around Nora, so she jumped at the occasion to get rid of her for a couple of days. Her boss, Sandy Rivers, needed someone to send in France for the G8 summit. Robin had seniority, but she immediately proposed Nora to Sandy. It seemed it would have happened anyway, since Sandy had already decided on her on the pretext he wanted to have sex with her.

“To deal with that rejection from Barney, not to mention your boss must've really hurt.” Intervened the therapist most seriously. “Why don't we dig into those emotions?”

She grandly ignored him. “Anyway… Barney forgot about one thing when he started to date Nora; his BDSes: Bimbo Delivery Systems.”

“You see, over the years, I've launched a variety of elaborate systems that are always working to get me laid.” Barney explained to his friends wisely. After all, to bang nameless bimbos has been Barney one and only gold since he ex-girlfriend from college, Shannon, dumped a 23 years old virgin him for a business man from Wall Street.

Lily didn’t seem to know if she had to be impress or sad. “I can't believe you go to so much trouble to get laid.” She said and her forever loyal husband jumped in. “Yeah, sometimes I don't even have to shower.” Lily nodded in agreement. “Mama loves it musky.” They high-fived.

Barney said that he needed to absolutely shut everything down before Nora came back and he was quite desperate. He had three days to do everything and as she understood, there was a lot to do. Robin proposed to help him, since she had a bunch a free time this weekend.

“Maybe you should write on your little chart there: Patient selflessly tried to help a friend in need.” She said proudly to her therapist.

He sighed and gave her a stare: “First of all, this is a crossword puzzle.” She looked at him like he had just told her the most stupid thing she’d never heard. “Secondly, you were clearly planning on using those three days to steal Barney back.” He stated, all very professionally. It pissed her off greatly.

“I am his friend! How dare you!” She pointed at his diplomas on the wall of his office. “God, you think you're so smart just because you went to Harvard and then Princeton and then…” She stopped a second to stare at the diploma. “Wow, Harvard again.” Man, this guy is smart, she thought. It should have made her angrier, but instead she just felt smaller. “Okay, yes, fine. I was I was trying to steal him back.” She admitted.

Robin was at Barney’s apartment, putting in boxes and the items that helped him get laid in the past. They had been at it for almost two full days and they were almost at the end of the list. After a tearful goodbye on the phone to one of his wingman, Robin looked at the list. “One last item on the checklist; disconnect the Cold Call 5000.” She chuckles fondly at him. “What the hell's that?”

Barney explained that he was able to secure the customer database from a company that sells body glitter and high-end pasties. “The Cold Call 5000 will dial every female client between the ages of 22 and 23, and leave the following message: Hi, I know this is crazy, but I saw you on the subway, and I knew we were meant to be. If you believe in destiny, come to MacLaren's tonight and find me, Barney Stinson.

They had a laugh about the stupidity of women while leaving the apartment and forgot to disconnect the phone. Without them realizing it, the Cold Call 5000 left a message on a voicemail of its one last victim.

At MacLaren’s, both of them were drinking a glass of scotch, talking and laughing together. Robin had not felt this great in months and now that Nora was out of town until tomorrow, she had Barney all for herself. Funny how she always seems to want what she can’t have.

“So, your plan was to be out on the town, dressed provocatively, drinking with another woman's man?”

She shrugged like she didn’t give a care. “Yeah… There was just one problem, Doc.”

It happened when Robin was trying to convince him to go out in some cool and private club to dance and have some fun like old times, when Nora appeared out of nowhere. She had come back early. Robin was left at the bar; staring at the man she loved, kissing her co-worker amorously.

“Let me guess, you got drunk under your desk again?” said her therapist.

She scoffed, offended. “No, Mr. Harvard. I handled things a little differently!” Robin actually got drunk under the MacLaren’s booth, while eating chocolate cake and weeping. “I suppose now you want me to talk about how it felt watching Barney and Nora walk off together, right?”

The man just shrugged this time. It made wonder Robin if he was really a therapist for a second. “I'd rather just skip ahead to the assault. My next patient thinks he's God. On the off chance that he's right, I really don't want to keep him waiting.” He joked and it made her smile.

She was still at the bar and Barney had left with Nora to go to an expensive and romantic French restaurant when a blond bimbo that looked taken directly from an American Pie movie came to her. She asked if she knew Barney Stinson. He left a message on her phone that he loved her and it was fate that they met. Robin realized that they forgot to disconnect to Cold Call 5000. She had the chose: she could tell this hoe that it was a mistake and just go home or… unleash this nut bag on Barney and Nora.

“You unleashed her, didn’t you?” the doctor asked. She shrugged.

After telling the address of the restaurant where Barney and Nora were having a romantic diner, the bimbo went running, leaving Robin alone again with her wine. It took her five minutes to feel horribly guilty. She left the bar running, asking Carl to put the alcohol on her tab and took the first taxi she could fine and went to the restaurant. When she arrived, the bimbo was already almost there, running like crazy toward the entrance, yelling Barney’s name. The lovers were still oblivious to it just yet and Robin saw her last opportunity to be a good friend and right before the bimbo got to the restaurant, Robin tackle her hard on the ground.

“Bottom line, I realized that sometimes love means taking a step back.” She said to the therapist. “Barney doesn't know a thing about any of this. But that's why I got court-mandated therapy.” She sighed. “You must think I'm nuts.”

He smiled kindly. “I think you're a really good friend.” Robin had a hard time to believe that and he saw it on her face. “As far as I'm concerned, there was no criminal intent to this assault.”

She smiled. “Well, thanks, Doc! Well, look at us! We got this wrapped up in one session.”

He advanced himself on his leather chair. “Now let's discuss how you keyed the judge's car.”

Damn it.

She met him again at a diner near WWN building. She was eating alone at the bar, grumpy and tired when he said hello. He was the last person Robin thought she would come across in NYC: her therapist. Well, he wasn’t really hers, since they had only two sessions, but it felt a bit weird to see him out of his office. He sat next to her and they talked. Not like a patient and a doctor, but like two people, trying to know each other.

His name was Kevin… something. It was a weird and hard to pronounce Indian name and she gave up on learning it. He was actually quite sweet and funny and they hit off quite well. Little did she know, they met at that diner almost three to five times a week and a month later, they were officially dating.

Her friends thought it was weird that she was dating someone that had been once her therapist, but they changed their mind when they met him. He easily charmed everyone, even Barney. It surprised her a bit. Barney was always the first one to hate all the men she would bring into the group, but for some reasons, Barney liked Kevin. Sadly, she couldn’t say it was a reciprocated feeling.

Kevin had mentioned some apprehensions toward meeting Barney. After all, he was the only one that knew that Barney was the reason she ran away from her own wedding. Kevin and Robin had a long and stressful talk about it. She told him how happy Barney was with Nora and that made her understood that she had to let go. She told him that she realized that since the very beginning her feelings for Barney were mostly just sexual tension and now that she understood that, it was easy for her to let him be with Nora. She thought with all her heart that she told Kevin the truth. After all, she has always been good to lie to herself.

She dated him for a full month before presenting him to everyone. She wanted to be sure of her feelings for Kevin. After every painful moments she went through with Barney (without him even noticing it) she was truly happy to have found someone so calm and good nature. She really liked him and she thought she could love him one day. Armed with the certainty of her feelings, she made the move to present him. Later that night, they both left toward her place, sharing a taxi.

“So that was Barney…” he whispered, looking in front of him. Her eyes felt on his face, his refusing to meet hers. “Yes, that was Barney. Is it ok?” She didn’t want to impose a complicated relationship on him. She wanted him to know everything about that past, so she could be sure that he would stay for her and only her.

“It’s ok. More good looking that I expected, but the rest is the same.” She sighed. Don had said the same thing. Why does people always assumed Barney is an ugly duck when she talk about him. Is she doing something wrong?

“Really? More good looking?” she asked. He shrugged and smiled a little. “Mostly my ego speaking. I knew he had to be, for a hot woman like you to love him so much in the past. But I wanted to be hotter, you know?” His tone was relaxed and she realized that everything was fine with him and she smiled in relief.

“Anyway, that wasn’t the biggest throw back of the night!” he added. Robin lost herself in deep thoughts for a moment.

Ted had been dating Victoria for many months now. She always thought that Victoria was the perfect girl for her friend and she was truly happy for him when he talked about proposing soon a week ago. Then, tonight, Ted stayed mostly silence. Finally, Marshall couldn’t take it anymore and asked what was wrong.

Ted didn’t want to ruin the mood, saying it was Kevin’s night, but her new boyfriend kindly pushed him to talk about what was making him miserable. “I’m a therapist, Ted. I feed myself of people’s problem. Quite literally.”

Everyone laughed and after a minute of silence, Ted dropped to bomb. He and Victoria had broken up the night before. Everyone had their own typical reaction. Robin tapped his hand gently, Lily hugged him, Marshall started asking a bunch of question and Barney left to the bar to order him a glass of a great scotch. When Barney came back with Ted’s drink, another silence came. “It’s ok, guys. I’m sad but I wanted it too. It wasn’t meant to be.” He said.

“You’ll find her Ted, she’s out there somewhere, searching for you too.” Said Lily, comforting him.

Ted himself changed the subject. “You know my yellow umbrella that I picked up years ago on St-Patrick’s day?”

Marshall nodded. “The one you stole in a bar, yes.” Everyone chuckled under their breath and Ted made an offended face.

“I did not steal it, someone forgot it there and I took it.” They all continued to laugh a bit at him and he ignored them. “Well, my point is, I lost it.”

They all showed some sympathy toward him. “I loved that umbrella. I think I forgot it in that girl apartment.”

Barney’s attention was grasped in a second. “Girl? Which girl? You cheated on Victoria, you son of bitch!” He said, jumping on his seat, excited like a kid.

Ted chuckled. “I did not cheated, Barney. She’s one of my students and she was having a study group at her place and I promised to pass there for a coffee. There were at least 12 of my students there. No cheating whatsoever.”

Marshall chuckled. “Were they your architecture students or your econ students?” he teased, finding himself very funny.

Lily rolled her eyes and Ted stared. “Architecture. Seriously Marshall, how long will you find that funny?”

Barney laughed along with Marshall. “Forever man, forever.” Kevin asked some explications and Marshall happily gave it to him.

The very first day of the very first class that Ted gave at the University, he got mistaken about the building and ended up in a huge classroom that he thought was for his class. After ten minutes of giving lectures about how to become a great architect, another teacher entered the classroom and interrupts him. This was the room for Econ305 and Ted had left running to his own classroom, completely lost on the campus and embarrass forever. Some students from econ305 still call him on it.

“You know Ted, if you had wear the Indiana Jones hat that we gave you, that wouldn’t have happen.” Said Marshall wisely.

“Well, this time, they were my students and they were very happy that I came to give them a private lecture about 17 century gothic architectures.” Everyone, except Kevin of course, made some fart noses and Ted crossed his arms on his chest like a child. “She even said that her roommate was quite jealous that her teacher would come.”

Barney lighted up at that. “A roommate? She has a roommate that you have not as a student? Please tell me you tap that!” he begged.

Ted sighed. “She wasn’t there that night.”

Barney’s eyebrows knitted together, angry. “Ted, how do you expect to bang some hot college girls if you stay so passive?” Barney stood up angry.

“I don’t want to bang some college girl.” Ted said, but Barney ignored him grandly.

“Haven’t I taught you anything my friend? You don’t deserve my banging wisdom.” On this Barney walked out of the booth and went to the bar. He came back a second later. “No, this is too big; one person storming out isn’t good enough. Marshall, with me!”

Marshall argued, obviously. “I don’t want to, man!”

Barney acted like an eight years old and begged him with his big blue puppy eyes. “Come on, bro!” Marshall shook his head, refusing. “I’ll buy you that stupid girly drink you don’t dare to order.” Promised Barney and Marshall stood up in a second.

“Sorry Ted.” He simply said and stormed out of the booth with Barney in a very fake manner.

Of course, ten minutes later, they were bored and came back to the booth; Marshall’s nursing his strawberry drink. He happily claimed that Carl even gave him a little red sombrero for his drink and Lily gave him a touch of affection on his arms. “Good for you, baby.”

The rest of the night went a bit quieter, but they still had a lot of fun. To compensate for his friend sadness, Barney started to make a bunch a silly jokes and sketches and everyone left the night with a smile.

“Barney did great, making him laugh like this.” Kevin told her. “I think the reason you are such a good friend, Robin; it’s that you are surrounded by good friends.” She smiled widely and openly at this. True, Robin was surrounded by the best of friends.

She had never expected to find herself in a situation nearly similar at this, but here she was: sitting on a bench in a main avenue of New York, at 11 o’clock in the evening, holding a way-too-expensive wedding gown to dear life. If she would have been any other woman, she might have cried too, but Robin Scherbatsky was made of strong wood.

July was hot and heavy and she thought it was going to be a great month for her and Kevin. But things started to go out of control earlier this afternoon, when Barney called her at work.

His voice was only a whisper and he started the conversation with a simple: “I’m sorry.” She had chuckled nervously, asking why. He told her without much excitement that he brought Nora to his place last night. She had expected him to bask in a glorious I-just-had-sex glow like he always do, but it didn’t come. “She asked to see my suit’s room.” She smiled a bit at that. “She saw your wedding dress.” He finally said.

She stayed silence, not exactly knowing what to say. She never in a million years expected him to keep it. When she gave it back to him, she thought he had gotten rid of it, sending it back to the London shop where it belongs. “You- -” She swallowed something hard stuck in a throat and it made her feel like throwing up. “You kept it?”

He didn’t miss a beat, because Barney Stinson never does. “Of course.”

She could hear the smile in his voice, his resolute affirmation. “It’s your perfect dress, Robin. I had to keep for your big day.”

She felt like crying but she didn’t know why until she actually told him. “I won’t ever get married, Barney.”

When she left Don for Okinawa, there was already a big part of her that thought this. She couldn’t seem to love someone completely and abandon herself into a man. Plus, the fact that she couldn’t bear any children was definitely destroying the few hopes she had to found someone.

“Don’t say that. You’ll get there. You have Kevin now, after all.” He comforted her. She stayed silent, not knowing what to say. “He may not be the one you will marry, I don’t know. But that guy will come. You are too awesome to not share it with someone else, Scherbatsky.” She laughed a little.

“So, Nora saw a wedding gown and thought you were marrying me in secret?” Robin asked, teasing him.

He sighed at the other side of the phone. “Let’s just say that she didn’t understand why I still had it. Even after I explained it, she said that it was weird for me to keep holding on to it.”

She smiled wickedly. “You should have told her you kept it for your own cosplay night.” She teased him again. He chuckled, the sound low and manly and a shiver that shouldn’t be there anymore travelled down her spine, sending sparks to the tip of her fingers.

“I would rock that dress, Scherbatsky. I’ll look like the hottest transvestite on this side of Manhattan.” He said in a very serious manner and she laughed harder. “I’m sure Nora would find you super hot in this dress.”

He snorted. “She wouldn’t if she knew that 10 butt load of crap I had to pay for it.”

She didn’t say a thing at first and then: “Did you call me so I could take it back?”

He sighed on the phone. She could imagine him pinching the top of his nose, closing his eyes hard in frustration. “I’m sorry, Robin, but Nora is not very pleased about this and I refuse to throw it away.” Then on his resolute tone he said: “You will wear it one day.”

They made arrangement to meet in a restaurant between his apartment and her work place and she hung up. She looked at her IPhone screen for a long time. She still couldn’t believe he had kept it and truthfully, that fact awakened something in her that she thought was buried deep enough. She imagined her dress, on the simple hanger, hanging in between in favorite black Armani tuxedo and his Ted Baker navy suit he bought last week. She grew a twig of envy toward the fricking dress. Maybe, she had lied to Kevin after all. Maybe Barney wasn’t just some awesome sex toy to her and maybe, she should stop lying to herself.

In anyway, she met him for dinner at Scarpetta on 14th street and they shared a great meal. He ordered the best white wine and paid at the end of the night. She did everything she could to not think this as a date and yet, her heart was leaping toward him without her control. At the end of the night, he passed her the big black bag that contained her gown. “I’m sorry I couldn’t keep it until you need it. It would have been such a great surprise.”

She smiled. “It would have been.”

He called a taxi but she pushed him to take it. She wanted to walk a bit, she told him. He nodded in agreement and was about to go in when she stopped him. “Thank you.” His eyebrows shot up, a look of surprise on his face. “I mean, thank you for everything.”

He smiled at her kindly, her heart squeezed. “It’s just a dress Scherbatsky, really. I have a crap load of money, you don’t have to worry about - ”

She cut him. “No. That’s not just the dress.”

He faced her completely, his arm casually leaning on the open door of the yellow cab. “I never said it, but thank you. Thank you for buying me the most beautiful dress in the world and not being mad that I didn’t wear it. Thank you for telling me a bunch of great restaurant and hook up spots in Okinawa instead of asking me to come back and deal with my failed engagement. Thank you for not abandoning me when I kept falling short of something. And thank you for being... well, you.”

His smile was blinding and glitter stuck to her eyelashes. His thin lips were tempting more than she could even understand, so she looked away. “Anyway, see you later.”

He bid her goodbye and jumped into the cab. She walked for a minute or two before settling on the bench she was now sitting on, holding her wedding gown like a life line.

She was with Kevin: gentle, kind, intelligent Kevin. Why did Barney keep coming back into her heart, she never understood. He was a dangerous man, always flocking around, always seeking for legendary and never settling for anything ordinary. She was still surprised by the fact that he was dating sweet and safe Nora. They were so different; yet, Barney was trying to make it work. Barney always tried hard, no matter the challenge and it made her wish to have tried harder herself when they were dating.

Robin knew she did love Kevin very much. He had made his way into her heart and he was very important to her. Yet, one or two hours alone with Barney, joking and teasing each others, she felt completely full of him. He was addictive and she felt guilty the second he was gone.

They had joked about the waitress with the huge breast: he mentioned a tone of position where he could bang her without having to stop looking at them and she, in a false disgust, explained that this woman would probably float in the sea because of her fake boobs.

This had been stupid; high school level kind of stupid. Yet, she loved every seconds of it. With Barney she could be herself in every disturbing ways without feeling weird or different. They didn’t mention Nora or Kevin for all night and she was grateful for it. It had become a night for them, about them and their old friendship (broship, he would say) that seemed a bit strained recently, since last year.

She missed that, their friendship. Since Nora and Kevin, they don’t see each other much anymore and with Lily and Marshall busy with their child, group time wasn’t as often as before. Plus, Barney said that he passed much of his free time with Ted, helping picked up chicks to move on from Victoria.

She was fighting tears with all the willpower she possessed when someone sat near her on the bench. It was a pretty woman, small stature, big brown eyes. For some unknown reason, Robin liked her right away.

“Sorry, do you mind if I sit?” the strange girl asked and Robin said no. They stayed together on the bench for quite some times when the girl said: “I’m sorry, but... Are you all right?” Her concern seemed real and it surprised Robin. Then, she noticed the tears leaving her eyes. She had started crying. No wonder the stranger was wondering about her mental state.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine.” She dried her tears with her hands and sniffed. “Just a hard day.”

The stranger smiled, knowingly. “Hard day, or a hard relationship?” Robin didn’t answer. “Hard relationship then.”

Robin chuckled. “You are good.”

The brunette laughed. “Well... I don’t want to brag but when I was a kid, I was a bit of a detective.” She said, smugly. “Plus, hard relationship? Been there. I lost the man I loved in a car accident. It was on my 21st birthday.”

Robin looked at her, eyes bigger than jawbreakers. “What?”

The woman chuckled. “I know, right? Life just sucks sometimes.” She stared into Robin’s eyes. “I don’t know anything about you, or your hard relationship, but if you love the guy, try to go for it without regrets. Regrets are the worst. There the one thing you can’t let go of.”

Robin heard a group of people yelling at the corner of the avenue and the stranger turned her heads toward them. She signaled them with her hands and stood up. “That’s my cue for my dramatic exit.” Robin laughed and she waved goodbye to the girl.

The girl stopped after a couple of step and turned around. “You know, strange woman crying on a bench, three deep breaths.” She said, holding three fingers in front of her.

Robin blinked. “Sorry what?”

The woman laughed. “Three deep breaths. Sometimes, it’s all you need.”

The petite woman joined her friend and it started to rain just a little. Robin threw her one last look before closing her eyes and took one deep breath. She missed the girl opening her big yellow umbrella before she walked away between breath number two and three and finally, when she finished, she opened her eyes and in a storm of glitter and rain, he was standing right in front of her.

“What are you still doing here? It’s been an hour.” He teased her, smile crooked. Then, the rain started to fall harder and he grabbed her arm and walked her under a small roof at an entrance of a closed shop, grabbing the bag holding the dress.

His was so very near of her, his eyes toward the sky. His blond hair was darker because it was a bit wet and a drop of water was flowing on his skin, starting from his cheekbones and her eyes followed it, until the drop disappeared into his dress shirt. His tie was slightly unhooked and the two first button of his shirt were undone. “What are you doing here?” She asked, finding her voice.

He looked down at her, his eyes the bluest of blue. “I forgot my phone at the restaurant. I came back for it and saw you.” A silence felt on them. “What were you doing here?”

She took a moment to think about it. “I was receiving unasked advices from a stranger who lost the love of her life in a car accident on her 21st birthday.” She said in one small breath.

He looked surprised for a moment and then his eyes sparkled, his smiles teasing: “Yeah… a classic in New York.” She giggled and her hand found the opening of his suit. The dress was lying forgotten on the ground. She caressed his suit, almost absent-minded, eyes focusing on his chest.

“What’s wrong?” he whispered to her. Her eyes met his and something in her exploded, showing her things she didn’t know she had in her. Tears filled her eyes and he looked worried. He was about to say something but she grabbed the knot of his tie and pull him in a long-awaited kiss.

His breathe smelled like the bottle of white wine they shared an hour ago and his tongue tasted like the raspberry sorbet he ate for dessert. But deep within that kiss, he just tasted like Barney: something dangerous and forbidden, like her first Cuban she smoked in secret in her dad’s office. Her hands found his scalp and she caressed it with her nails. He growled deep in his throat and her lips left his to taste the skin on his neck. He still smelled spicy and manly with a hint a rain and her heart implode in her chest.

Her hands crisped his white shirt, her head looking for a new angle to taste more of him. When (finally!) his tongue slipped into her mouth, he grabbed her head into his hands, his thumbs stroking her cheeks. She pressed her body against his and through the cold rain, he was warm and inviting and she burned, like a long time ago, like she thought she would never burn ever again.

His phone rang in his coat pocket and he groaned in her lips. “Ted has the worst timing…” She giggled, her teeth grazing his bottom lips. “Then forget about that phone.” She begged, her hand grasping his belt buckle and pulling him closer. His hands found her hips and behind, his lips caressed her pulse point on her neck and she melt, puddle at his feet.

His phone didn’t seem to stop, so he let go of her. “Just let me tell Ted to get bent and I’m yours.” She smiled, her eyes sparkling, her hand playing with his dark pink tie. Barney took his phone and looked at the screen. His face full of desire fell and she grew cold. He didn’t look at her once and backed off in the rainy street, turning his back on her and putting his phone to his ear. “Nora, hi.”

Her skin became colder and she fisted her hands, nails scarring her palm. She looked at his back, broad shoulder slouching just a little bit; his free hand went to play with his ear, while talking to the phone. She couldn’t hear much of his whispers, but she wished he would hang up and look at her. She resisted every temptation in her body that was telling her to embrace him, to put her arms around him, her head resting on his shoulder blade.

She made two steps back, her head hitting the closed door behind her. She closed her eyes and took three deep breathes. When she opened them again, he had hung up and he was looking at her, hands his coat pockets, rain everywhere on him. His blue eyes were clear, a color she knew meant sadness and guilt. He looked at her for a long time before pulling his phone out again. “I’ll call you a car, you’re wet.”

She bit her tongue to stop the yelling that was building in her throat. “Really? That’s what we are going to do? Ignore it?” She was so pissed off she could slap his ridiculously high cheekbones.

He sighed, looking up at the dark sky. “Robin, it’s past midnight, it’s raining, and we are in the middle of an empty street. This is definitely not the right moment to have The Talk.”

He was angry too and she wondered if he was angry at her or himself. She wanted to push her luck, to ask him to have The Talk now. She wondered if it was a good idea. He talked to a driver on the phone, giving the address to pick them up and he hung up. She tried to get his attention again. “Barney...” She whispered, his name sounding more like a question than anything else.

He growled, but there was nothing sexy about it. (Except for the fact that she found him sexy with he was angry) Then, he yelled something incomprehensible in the empty street, his voice bouncing on the walls of buildings. “You are infuriating, Scherbatsky, you know that?”

She grew angrier at him that she had been in a long time. “Sorry? I may be the one that kiss you, but you, mister, responded quite eagerly!” She yelled, pointing a finger at him.

He scoffed and passed a hand through his wet blond hair, making water splash around him. “I’m sorry.” He said. “I’m not angry at you, more at me.”

Her accusing finger fell down and noticed how broken and vulnerable he just seemed. She said she didn’t understand, why would he be angry at himself? She took his arm and brought him back under the roof, away from the rain. She thought it would be about Nora and when she voiced her concerns, he brushed it off.

“I am not concern by Nora. That is mostly the problem.” Robin held up his stare and he sighed. “We are both in a relationship right now, we were both engaged too at some point, but all of this doesn’t matter because 3 years after we broke up and I’m still ready to hook up with you at anytime, damn the consequences, it seems.”

She didn’t know what to say, so she just bit her lower lip. He approached himself, his body warm near hers like a fire in winter. “Robin, I said it before and I say it again: we are not friends but ex-lovers and I can’t seem to move on from you and I hate it.” His eyes were dark with fire and rage, his jaw set in stone, the muscles of his neck were straining. His body was as hard as a rock, like he was fighting against himself.

The lights of black car blinded them for a moment and the driver used his klaxon to signal them. Barney grabbed her forearm, rough and demanding, used his other hand to grabbed the bag holding the dress and walked toward the cab his long step. She was stuck to follow him under the rain, her arm in pain. She could try to fight it, he would let her. But she didn’t, the anger in his eyes like she’s never seen was still unsettling her. Barney was normally vulnerable, like a little boy. This is what he was trying so hard to hide in ordinary circumstances, but that anger. She didn’t know he could feel that much anger.

In one big move, he opened the door of the car, threw the dress inside and he put her right at the door before looking at her in the eyes. She tried to speak but he cut her: “I don’t want to hate you, Scherbatsky, so for now, just go home.” He unceremoniously let go of her arm, turned around and walked away.

She sat in the car and the cabbie said: “Hi!” She looked up and saw Ranjit there, smiling at her. “Ranjit!” She said. He smiled, saying that Barney asked him to come and get her personally.

She looked out of the window and told him she wanted to go home. Barney had been a bit violent, angry and told her he might hate her, yet, he called Ranjit to please her. Leave it to him to be inconsistent.

At home, she took all of her wet clothes off the second she entered the apartment and went into the shower. She stayed for quite some time and when she got out; her skin was red from the hot water. She wrapped herself in a fluffy pink towel that Lily had bought her and she went to sit on her bed. She took the body lotion she had on her night stand and started to apply it to appease her red skin.

She stopped for her second on her right arm. Through the red skin of the hot shower, she saw the mark of his hand that was holding her forty minutes earlier. She traced them slowly, wondering if he really held her that strongly. She should be right down pissed off at him. She should call Marshall and tell him to slap Barney into the next year for that. Yet, she felt weirdly calm about it all. Barney had always been a one emotion kind of guy (the awesome emotion). He never wanted people to see anything and that’s why that seeing so much anger and frustration in him made her feel so much nearer of him. She had definitely gone crazy.

She went to bed naked, a hand on the mark on her arm that was disappearing fast. She fell asleep thinking of his kiss, his fire and the glitter on his eyelashes.

To be continued…

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