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 | Chapter four | Chapter five
B E C O M I N G
The clinic’s walls were light blue and the chairs hard plastic. Barney was already wishing he hadn’t decided to come along. Why would he want to be here? Everywhere he looked there were women with huge bellies. Barney had thought Marie was huge, but there were several others who put her to shame. He tried not to stare.
“North, Marie,” called a nurse.
Marie stood and Barney followed her as she headed after the nurse to one of the examination rooms. He could come up with half a dozen things to say, but he figured that all of them were likely to get him kicked out of the room, so he stayed silent as she changed behind a screen into one of the ugly, barely held together tops that the clinic provided.
A nurse – middle-aged, female, grey hair and glasses – came in. She greeted Marie and then turned to Barney. “Ah, I see you’ve brought a friend.”
“He’s the baby’s father,” Marie answered blandly, as though she was talking about the weather.
The nurse smiled. “Then I hope you feel extra welcome.” She didn’t seem the least bit phased by the fact that Barney hadn’t been present at previous examinations. Was it that common for dads not to be around?
Marie got onto the examination bed. It didn’t look comfortable at all with the huge mound that was her belly.
The nurse asked her a series of questions about how she was feeling and then took measurements. Barney was zoning out and not really listening, until the nurse started coating Marie’s belly with see-through gel. The TV-screen beside the bed flickered to life and then the nurse held some device to Marie’s belly.
The ultrasound image of the baby came up, looking fuzzy and pixilated and barely recognizable at first as anything but a blob. After a while, when the nurse found some angle she liked, the picture became a little clearer.
The baby’s head, his little tiny nose and lips. Hands suspended in mid-air, each with tiny perfect fingers.
Barney forced his mouth shut.
“He’s growing very nicely,” the nurse said, smiling. She pointed at the image and explained what they were seeing but Barney barely heard her.
Seeing the ultrasound picture Marie had shown him was one thing – this took it to a whole new level. This was his kid, in real-time, alive and kicking inside that huge belly of Marie’s. He’d made this. He hadn’t meant to, hadn’t wanted to, but he still had.
He sat down heavily on the chair beside the bench.
Some part of him was screaming in fear but most of it was white noise, a sound he’d gotten used to in the last month. Despite the panic just below the surface, he felt strangely numb and peaceful.
The image of his son burned into his mind and he knew he’d never forget it.
His friends had been pestering him so much about getting to meet Marie that he finally gave in, a few weeks later. By then, she looked like she’d swallowed a beach ball. Barney wondered how it was possible that she was going to stay pregnant for a good few weeks more; she looked about to burst already.
“You want me to meet your friends?” Marie looked a little surprised.
Barney shrugged. “They want to meet you. If I let them, they’ll stop bugging me about it every second.”
“You sure know how to make a girl feel special,” she said sarcastically.
“Not sure you’re a girl anymore,” Barney said. “You’re more—ball-shaped than girl-shaped. Except the boobs.”
She glared daggers at him. “I’m pregnant.”
He grinned. “Oh, yeah, I forgot.”
They’d settled into some sort of normalcy – as much as could be achieved between two people who’s only common denominator was that they’d slept together one night and the result was going to be a baby. Barney now knew enough about her – beyond the things she’d told him, like what courses she was taking, what she was allergic to, and what her dream job was, he’d also made one of the techies at GNB compile a dossier on her. He wanted to know if she was a terrorist, or if her dad had murdered anyone. Turned out, she had nothing in her history that was any cause for concern. Even her medical file had been clean, save for a broken leg after a skiing accident when she was nine.
She’d probably try to castrate him if he told her about the dossier, so he hadn’t mentioned any of it.
Legal papers had been drawn up, detailing the child support Barney was going to pay, and how many hours per week he’d be allowed to have the baby.
That had kept him awake for many, many hours. How many hours did he want?
He’d decided to be involved in the kid’s life, but—taking care of the kid? Being solely responsible for a little baby? He’d just figured that he could be the guy who came in and taught his son how to score chicks – until Lily had, a little sourly, pointed out that that wasn’t what being a father was all about.
Apparently, being a father involved holding, burping, changing diapers, playing with, singing to and generally being there for the kid.
Barney loved his own mother dearly, but he was pretty sure that she’d never gotten the memo. He remembered being left on his own, with James as a doubtfully qualified supervisor, for days on end. And there had never been a dad to speak of.
His mother had been happy enough when she’d told him about the coming grandson, after she’d made sure that this time it was for real, rather than an actress improvising.
“No actress this time,” Barney had said and wondered how much he’d have been willing to pay for this to just be a hoax.
In the dark of night, Barney had ordered a heap of baby books. He hadn’t told anyone about it, because he was Barney Stinson and he didn’t need any books to tell him how to do stuff – other than the Bro Code that was, of course, but that wasn’t even slightly the same thing.
He’d read about birth – he wasn’t looking forward to that at all and he was pretty sure he was going to fake being stuck in a meeting when it actually happened – and about the first days, weeks, months. About little tiny babies who couldn’t do anything on their own except poop and pee. About ‘milestones’ to look forward to. He wondered if anyone had ever made such a big deal over him taking his first steps, as the book made it out to be.
He panicked at regular intervals, usually when night fell and he lay alone in his bed. What the hell had he gotten himself into? His heart would speed up to the point where he thought his heart would burst and black dots danced across his eyes.
Life had been much simpler before.
“So, what do you say?” he asked, sitting on her bed and being entirely unhelpful as she tried to clean up the messy thing that was her apartment.
“Fine. I’ll meet your friends.” She didn’t sound particularly thrilled and he wasn’t sure why, because his friends were awesome. “Can you please move so I can make my bed now?”
“Sure,” he said. “I’ll just move to the kitchen.” He took two steps to the left.
“Ha, ha,” she said, not laughing. “I know this place is small, but it’s not like I can afford anything bigger.”
“Why don’t you live on campus?” Barney asked.
She shrugged. “I lived here before I started law school and now it just seems like a lot of work to move to a dorm that’s probably even smaller.”
“I’d offer you room at my place,” he said airily, “But there isn’t any room.”
She sent him another glare. She seemed to be in a mood today. He blamed those hormones he’d read about in the pregnancy book that was hidden under his bed.
“You have a room for your suits.” She shook her head. “I’m not going to live with you even if you did have ‘enough space’. Your place and you—no thanks.”
“That wasn’t what you said the last time you were in my apartment,” Barney leered.
“You should probably get out before I remove some part of your anatomy that you’re really fond of,” Marie suggested, faking sugary sweetness.
Barney went over to the door. “See you at MacLaren’s at eight?”
She gave a put-upon sigh and nodded. He closed the door and left.
Her words about his apartment followed him as he descended the stairs and went outside. He did have a spare room for his suits. With the current predicament of a baby on the way, he realized suddenly that he’d need some place to keep the kid when it was his to watch.
He’d need furniture and stuff. He hadn’t a clue what a kid needed, but he figured that there were people who did know. The good thing about making money was that it was possible to pay others to solve his problems.
The kid furniture store looked just as expensive this time around. The same lady that had greeted him the last time welcomed him now.
He didn’t stumble over his words this time around, but handed her a business card instead.
“I need a nursery,” he said. “Baby boy. When can you come over and give me some suggestions?”
The lady smiled and he could almost see the dollar signs in her eyes.
Later that night, he sat at MacLaren’s.
“So she’s really coming?” Lily said, sounding much too excited at the prospect of meeting Marie.
“Said she would,” Barney said.
“Lilypad, you might want to calm down,” Marshall said, rubbing her back. “You’ll start hiccupping otherwise.”
“You’re practically drooling,” Ted grinned. Despite his words, however, Ted looked just as excited about meeting Marie as Lily. Barney wasn’t sure why – she was just one of his conquests. The really important person was in her belly, and they wouldn’t be able to see him, no matter how hard they tried. Barney had tried; he’d hoped he’d developed some sort of x-ray vision, but no, no such luck.
“But she’s the mother of Barney’s kid!” Lily said.
“I remember a time when Ted here offered to be pissed off at her if I wanted to,” Barney said, a little sourly. “Where’d that offer go?”
“That was before,” Ted said. “When you were, you know. All sad and unhappy.”
Barney wrinkled his nose. “The Barnacle is not ‘all sad and unhappy’.”
Lily patted his hand. “Yes, you were, sweetie.”
“Pfft. With friends like you, who needs enemies?” He glared at the others who just smiled back. Robin’s smile was more sympathetic, though, and Barney had a feeling that it wouldn’t take much for her to hate Marie, especially not if Barney asked her to.
“Pregnant lady just came in the door,” Lily said, almost jumping up and down with excitement. “Like, really, really pregnant.”
Barney turned and there she was. Marie, in all her pregnant glory. He almost didn’t recognize her, all dressed up and with makeup. Ever since she’d barged back into his life, she’d been wearing sweatpants with her hair in a ponytail and no traces of makeup.
She looked almost hot enough to jump when she was like this. Almost. If he kept his eyes at boob level, that was. It was certainly an impressive rack.
“Everyone, this is Marie,” Barney said when she came to stand by their table. “Marie, this is Ted, Robin, Marshall and Lily.” He nodded at each of them as he said their names.
“Hi,” Marie said, giving a little wave.
Ted grabbed a chair so that Marie could sit down next to Robin in the booth. Barney glanced at Lily, finding her almost hyperventilating with excitement.
Things were a little awkward at first, but then Marshall and Marie hit it off as they started talking about law and law school. Lily steered back the conversation to Barney and the baby with regular intervals but didn’t seem to mind just listening.
After an appropriate amount of time, Barney stood and headed to the bar instead. It didn’t take long before Robin joined him.
“I’m almost impressed with how not-stupid she is,” she said.
Barney glanced back at their table. “Yeah. Luck somewhere in all this crap.”
She cocked her head to the side. “I thought you were a happy dad-to-be now.”
He made a face. “Turns out, kids are a lot of work. Did you know they need supervision pretty much twenty-four/seven?”
She smiled a little. “I’ve made a point of not knowing that stuff.”
“Lucky you,” Barney said. He wished he could go back to not knowing. He wished he could go back to seven months ago, when there was no kid on the way.
“You know,” Robin said, “I think you’re feeling stuff all new parents feel.”
“I am not like everyone else,” Barney said, even though lately, he’d been feeling terribly ordinary, what with the panic attacks and fears.
She chuckled. “Sorry, my mistake.”
He took a quick breath. “You really think this is stuff everyone feels?”
“I don’t know for sure,” Robin said. “But I know I’d feel the exact same way.”
They had always been so much alike. While Ted had been on his wife-quest for the last few years, and Lily and Marshall had long since been joined together with superglue, Robin had been free and awesome. She understood the fun in Laser Tag, she could drink scotch and smoke cigars. Sure, she was Canadian, but that was really the only dent in the package – and considering that the Canada thing had led to unforgettable lyrics such as ‘I’m gonna rock your body ‘til Canada Day’, it was an acceptable flaw.
Most of all, she’d always understood him.
“I’m pretty sure you’ll be an awesome dad,” Robin said.
Somehow, when she said it, it didn’t sound like such a cliché, designed just to placate him.
He thought about responding with an ‘of course I’ll be awesome!’ but decided against it. She hadn’t said it to appease him so he wouldn’t respond with stupidity.
“Thanks,” he said instead.
They clinked their glasses together and drank in silence.