Author's Email: email@example.com
Author's Home Page: CosmicUniverse.net
Fandom: How I met your mother
Word count: 22 700
Chapters: 8 + epilogue
Genre: Family, friendship, angst
Characters: Barney, cast
Pairings: None (previous Barney/OFC, Barney/Robin)
Spoilers: Up to 5x17 "Of course"
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations from the TV-series "How I met your mother", created and owned by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Summary: “Apparently,” Barney said, stopping because his voice squeaked. He cleared his throat. “Apparently, I’m gonna be a dad.”
Chapter one | Chapter two | Chapter three
B E C O M I N G
Two weeks after finding out, Barney was walking home from work. It was a warm and sunny afternoon, summer arrived but the heat not stifling. After being locked in his office for the entire afternoon, he felt the need to stretch his legs.
He was enjoying the warm sun on his face – where the bruise had finally faded, after two whole weeks of looking like a kid had used all the blue, yellow, green and purple crayons on him – and checking out a few of the ladies when the store popped up in front of him.
Baby and Kid Furniture.
He’d stepped inside before he could tell his brain that this was a really, really, really bad idea.
“May I help you?”
A lady in her early fifties came up to him and he could see her sizing him up. He wondered briefly what she saw when she looked at him, but decided he didn’t care.
“I just thought I’d— look around,” he said.
He stopped half ways and only breathed the rest out, as he took in the interior of the store. It wasn’t so much a store as it was a show room, really, and an exclusive one at that. The large room was divided into half a dozen sections, each with a style of its own, and it was like looking through a window into a perfect nursery. They’d thought of every detail, from the colors of the cribs and basinets to the dressers and changing tables. There were perfect little bows and lace, the colors all soft and gentle.
The lady had apparently decided that she was good enough for her obviously pricy store.
“Is there any particular style you’d like to see?” she asked. “We have a wide assortment beyond what you see here – I’m sure we can meet your needs.”
He wondered how she could be so sure that they could meet his needs, when he had no idea what they were. He hadn’t even decided whether to be involved in the kid’s life.
He was drawn to a section where the colors were a mild green and the woods used were dark and rich. There were little carvings and paintings of fishing frogs on the side of the crib, which was made of wood and looked nice and solid. When he looked at the price tag, he was struck by the sudden thought that when his mother had him, she probably wasn’t making this much in a year. With his current salary, though, it would hardly make a dent in a month’s income.
He’d been trying to avoid thinking about it. It wasn’t working very well – even if he managed to fill his waking life with work, work and more work, and then scotch and whiskey and vodka at night, there were still those few hours when he had to stop to sleep. His dreams were plagued by babies and bellies and screaming children.
He expertly avoided the subject as soon as he was around the others. Marshall hadn’t asked out right – though he did send him enough questioning looks – and Robin pretended that the whole thing didn’t exist, but with Lily and Ted it took some skills to avoid having to talk.
He realized he was staring down at the crib, running his hand up and down the wooden side. It felt sleek beneath his fingers.
“If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, we can come to your house and give you a suggestion,” the lady tried again. “We offer solutions from start to finish.”
All he had to do was pay.
It was like with Marie. The only thing she wanted from him was child support.
“Yeah, thanks,” he said absentmindedly. “I’ll get back to you on that.”
He all but ran out of there.
The sun felt suddenly too bright when he got back outside, the air too warm. He pulled at his tie, feeling like it was choking him. He couldn’t breathe amidst all of this, amidst all the feelings and thoughts and stupid things that he shouldn’t have to handle. He didn’t know how to.
He had never planned on this. He never wanted children – mostly because children took up so much time and energy, all of which could be better spent on chasing beautiful women, but also because who the hell would want him as a father?
He had no trouble imagining Marshall as a dad. Or Ted. Really, Ted already had the whole father-voice down. Barney had been subject to that voice too many times to count over the last two weeks.
They’d do fine. They’d play catch with their sons and teach their daughters to dance – or the other way around, if their kids wished. They’d love their children in that unconditional way people talked about, and they’d sing them songs and tell them stories and when the children grew up, they wouldn’t hate their fathers.
Barney—he would screw his kids up. He knew it. He was too screwed up himself not to pass it on. He just had to hope that it wasn’t a genetic thing, because then the kid would suffer even if Barney wasn’t in his or her life.
When he found himself outside of Marie’s apartment building, he cursed himself.
But somehow he knew that he had to talk to her. He couldn’t discuss this with his friends and he obviously couldn’t make sense of anything in his head no matter how hard he tried to.
He knocked on her door, heart beating rapidly.
She opened. She was wearing glasses, which made her look smart and bookish. His gaze traveled down without meaning to and he was pretty sure both her boobs and her belly had gotten bigger since the last time he saw her.
“Barney,” she said, eyebrows rising in surprise. “Hi.”
His mouth was dry and he couldn’t find any words to say. What the hell was he doing there anyway?
She gave him a look that was almost sympathetic. “Wanna come in?”
He wasn’t sure, but he nodded anyway.
Her apartment seemed to have gotten even smaller since the last time he was there. A crib – one that looked old and well-used and nothing like the expensive stuff Barney had seen at the store – had been crammed into one of the few empty spots and a bag of tiny baby clothes stood in a corner.
She sat down on her bed. “So, you here for a particular reason?”
He stayed standing, having only barely passed the threshold so that he could close the door behind him. The apartment felt stiflingly small; he longed for the open space of his own place.
“Or maybe you just want to stand there and be silent,” she said when he still didn’t find his voice. “Well, I need to study. Whenever you’re ready to say anything, feel free to do so.”
She picked up a heavy tomb and leaned it on her stomach.
“You study law?” It wasn’t what he’d meant to say, but he noted the book with surprise.
She glanced down at the book. “Yeah. Never told you that, huh? I’m a first year.”
“Oh,” Barney said, ineloquently. “My friend’s a lawyer.”
“Good for him,” she said. She paused, looking a little amused. “Now are you ready to tell me why you’re here?”
“I don’t know.” Barney hated not knowing.
“Okay,” she said, dragging out the a and making it obvious that she found Barney just a little bit stupid. Barney found himself a little bit stupid too, so that was all right.
“I’ve been thinking about the kid,” Barney said. “The—baby.”
“And—and I don’t know if I can just be—not involved,” he said. “I mean, it’s my kid, too. And I know that you’ll probably be a great mom and I’ll probably be a sucky dad, but then there was this baby store with all these baby furniture, and there was a crib and—”
He stopped abruptly. Marie still looked amused, though it was mixed with some surprise.
“You want to be a dad?” she asked. “Really? I mean, considering how I had to hunt down the bartender at MacLaren’s just to get your name, much less your phone number, I kind of figured that you were—well, you know. A wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of guy.”
“If that’s code for awesome, then yeah, that’s me,” Barney said. “Just so you know, I’m not looking to wham you again. Once was enough. Obviously.” He gestured at her midsection.
“Gee, thanks,” Marie said, rolling her eyes. “I guess you lose your charm after you’ve had sex with a girl?”
“Don’t usually see them afterwards,” Barney muttered, making a face as he remembered Lily dragging him all over town to apologize to four of his conquests.
“But you want to be a dad?” she asked again.
Barney ran a nervous hand through his hair. “I don’t know. I mean, I’m awesome, so the kid’ll be awesome, so it’ll probably be cool to hang out.”
She snorted. “I’m not gonna give birth to a drinking buddy for you.”
He glared at her. “I’m not a moron.” Ted’s voice, telling him otherwise, echoed through his head. Really, Ted’s voice echoed through his head much too often these days.
“You sure?” she asked, faking sweetness. She stood up, not very gracefully. “Look, Barney, you don’t have to be a dad. I made the decision to keep this kid all on my own and I’m not going to force you into anything.”
Barney sighed. “I know. But I keep thinking about it.”
She went to the desk, crammed in the corner. She came back with a little square bit of thick paper.
“Want to see the photo from the ultrasound?”
His heart was suddenly beating loudly in his ears again. He knew that this was one of those moments – one of those defining moments when his life could go in one of two directions. He could either chose to shake his head and tell her no, he didn’t want to see it. Then he’d leave and never look back and in ten or fifteen or twenty years, a kid might come around and knock on his door and tell him that he was the kid’s father.
“Yeah.” He spoke in a higher pitch than usual.
The photo was black-and-white. A little figure, looking almost computer animated, was on there. It was a profile picture and Barney followed the lines of the baby’s forehead, down its tiny nose and pouty lips. The baby had its fists balled up, but he could see the outlines of tiny, not yet fully developed fingers.
When he looked up at long last, he found Marie smiling at him. “I’m going for another ultrasound in a few weeks. Do you want to come with me?”
His gaze returned to the picture, hypnotizing him.
This was the kid.
“You want me there?” he forced out through dry lips and over the sound of his heartbeat, loud in his ears.
She shrugged. “I don’t mind. A friend of mine went with me last time, but if you’re planning on getting involved, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t be there.”
Involved. Did he want to get involved?
Wasn’t he already involved?
Now that he’d seen the picture. Now that he’d returned here. Now that he thought about it every second of the day. Wasn’t he already involved? Hadn’t he been involved ever since she’d first called?
The apartment felt so tiny and crammed. He longed for air, for space.
“Hey, you want something do drink?” Marie asked. “You’re looking a bit pale.”
He wanted to give a mad laugh at that. He was going to be a dad and his reaction was that he was a little pale? If that had been all, then he’d have been pretty proud of himself.
As it was, panic was brewing inside, making him feel like he was about to explode. His heart was pounding.
At some point, she’d left because now she was back with a glass of water. Or maybe the apartment was just so small that the kitchen was right behind Barney and he hadn’t noticed. It was entirely possible.
“We should probably have some papers drawn up,” she said. “You know, about the baby. When you can have him, when I’m supposed to—”
She cocked her head to the side again. “Yeah. The baby. It’s a boy.”
His legs gave out and he slid down to the floor, his back resting against the door.
He was having a baby boy.
“Barney? You okay?”
“I just—” he breathed. He stared at the ultrasound picture which was still in his hand. That was a picture of his son.
Panic and disbelief pulsed through him. What the hell was he doing? Why was he still here? Why was he even entertaining the thought of being involved? He was Barney Stinson, bachelor extraordinaire, all legen-waitforit-dary and awesome, living the high life as it was supposed to be. There were no babies in his life plan, not since Shannon broke his heart. He didn’t have time for such silly, ordinary things. Changing diapers and listening to a baby scream – he usually just turned up the volume on his iPod whenever he met a screaming kid in a store.
But then there was the picture of the baby in his hand. A little, innocent child who was going to be born into the world without asking for it. He’d made the kid. Him and Marie. They’d created a little human being.
How could he not be a part of that?
The voice that told him he had to be a part of his son’s life sounded, again, suspiciously like Ted.
When he looked up he found Marie back on the bed, the book resting on her belly as she studied. He wondered how long he’d been sitting there. His ass was starting to hurt, so he guessed that it had been a while.
Marie looked over the rim of her glasses at him. “Oh, you’re back.”
He stood up, almost as awkward as she’d been when she’d stood up. “You’re sure you want me around?”
She smiled, quite gently. “No, not really. I don’t know you, other than from a one-night-stand, and I have no idea if you’re a good guy or a bad one. But considering that I think your suit costs like five thousand bucks and I’ve seen the inside of your apartment, I’d be really stupid to try to keep you from this baby, if you want to stick around. I’m pretty sure you can afford more and better lawyers than me.”
He sighed. He wasn’t sure whether he was a good or bad guy either and he certainly wasn’t sure that this was a good idea.
“Then I guess I’ll stick around,” he said, and it felt almost freeing to say it.
“Cool.” She had a pretty smile. Actually, all of her was pretty, just like most of Barney’s other conquests. Their son would be the cutest baby in the world.
Of course, Barney thought. The baby was going to be a Stinson. Of course he’d be cute. And awesome.
He wondered what his mom would think about it.
He took out his phone and took a photo of the ultrasound picture. Come tomorrow morning, he’d need it to believe in what he’d just decided.
“I’ll call you when I’m up for my next doctor’s appointment,” Marie said. “Okay?”
He nodded. It felt like his old self was starting to come back amidst all the shock and panic.
“See you around.”
He left, closing the door behind him. There were no elevators in her building, so he strolled down the stairs, feeling oddly calm considering the life-altering decision he’d just made.
When he got outside – the sun had fallen low on the horizon, disappearing beyond the sky scrapers – he picked his phone from his pocket.
He attached the ultrasound picture to a message to Ted.
‘My son. Celebration is in order. Suit up!’