Author's Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Ted stared at the room, mouth slightly open.
Barney puffed up his chest in pride. “Nice, huh?”
“You do realize that the kid won’t actually be able to appreciate any of this?” Ted asked. “I mean, by the time he’s old enough to get how nice this stuff is, he’ll have grown out of it.”
“Meh,” said Barney. “I won’t have my kid sleeping in some regular, mass-produced crib.”
Ted suspected this was as far away from mass-produced as one could get.
There was a large mural on the wall, with a pond and a frog in clothes and a hat, lazily fishing. To the side, the crib stood in all its glory – all dark, shiny wood and hand-crafted paintings on the side that matched the mural. The linen in the crib was color coordinated with the rest of the room, of course, in light but earthy colors.
There was a drawer to the side, the top serving as a changing table, made of the same dark wood as the crib. A mobile with frogs hung above it, to entertain the child once it grew a little older. A beautiful rocking chair stood off to the other side, with pillows matching the linens of the crib. Really, everything matched, down to every last blanket.
It had probably cost more than Ted made in a year.
“I guess you’re ready for the baby now?” he asked.
Brief hesitation crossed Barney’s face before the mask came up and he said smoothly, “Of course.”
“So what did you do with your suits?”
Barney made a face, like Ted was dredging up painful memories. Ted followed him out into the corridor and Barney sighed.
“I hope they’ll be okay. It’s not as nice and big as before, but…” He opened the door to a wardrobe. The suits hung inside. “I had them install temperature and humidity controls. I hope they don’t suffer too much.”
Ted would never, ever understand Barney’s attachment to his suits. He could only hope that Barney would feel the same attachment to his son.
“I’m sure they’ll be all right,” Ted said soothingly, patting Barney’s back. Barney looked unconvinced. “And besides, you probably won’t want to wear suits when you have the baby here. They’re known to throw up and stuff.”
“Stuff coming out both ends,” Barney said, wrinkling his nose. “Tell me again why I’m doing this?”
“Because you want to,” Ted said, smiling slightly. He was sure that Barney did want to take care of his son, even though he was rightfully scared out of his mind at the prospect.
Barney made a sound that wasn’t quite a snort. “So, why’re you here, Mosby?”
Now Ted gave him a full smile. “Robin’s doing some taping and she needed a lot of people milling around when she does it, and she figured we could do it.”
“People milling around?” Barney asked in disbelief. “Why doesn’t she just go to, oh I don’t know, anywhere in New York?”
Ted tried to look as honest as possible. “It’s being taped on our roof. Not a lot of people up there.”
“What could she possibly tape on your roof?” Barney stared at him.
Ted shrugged. “I’ve never watched her show, so how would I know? But come on, it’s Robin. Just do it for her.”
He knew it was the right way to go when Barney sighed. “Fine. I’ll mill about like some random peasant.”
“That’s the spirit,” Ted said, dragging Barney out the door so they could get going. He did his best to keep from smiling too much – Barney would see straight through the façade if he did.
They took a cab to Ted’s place and Barney didn’t complain as much as Ted would’ve expected him to. Obviously, though the two had broken up, Barney was still willing to do pretty much anything for Robin. It was nice to see.
Ted’s phone rang when they were climbing the stairs to the apartment.
“Oh hey Lily,” he said. “Yeah, we’ll be right there. Barney took some convincing.”
“We’ll be waiting,” Lily smiled.
He glanced at Barney, who looked disinterested. Ted opened the door to the apartment and Ted had Barney climb before him up the fire escape.
It was almost deafening when the crowd jumped out.
Barney staggered back, shock on his face, nearly falling into Ted who was just climbing up the stairs.
There were balloons and music and party hats and a crowd almost too big to fit on the roof. Ted didn’t recognize half of them, but he trusted Lily and Robin to have invited all the right people and then some. Though the idea of the party had been his, he’d left the planning to the girls.
Barney turned and stared at Ted. “For me? Seriously?”
“Of course, dude,” Ted grinned. “Your birthday got kind of lost amidst all the baby stuff, but we figured you wouldn’t mind a late party.”
“But—for me?” Barney said again. He seemed to have trouble comprehending the idea that they’d do this for him.
Ted slapped his shoulder. “Yeah. For you.”
Barney turned slowly. A smile spread across his lips. “Awesome.”
Lily came over and gave Barney a long, warm hug. “Happy late birthday.”
She put a party hat on his head and he rolled his eyes. “Do I have to?”
“Yes,” Lily said and kissed his cheek.
His eyes lit up. “Can I do magic?”
“Look over there,” said Robin, sauntering over.
Ted watched as Barney’s eyes widened when he took in the stage they’d built. It wasn’t big or fancy, but it was a stage, and Ted could see the cogs turning in Barney’s head as he imagined all the tricks he could show the audience.
Don was there too and he handed Barney a glass of some colorful drink. “Happy belated birthday!”
Ted wondered when Don had gotten comfortable enough around Barney to shake his hand and small talk for a while, but that was what they did. To Ted’s knowledge, Don had been on edge around Barney since the first time they met. Obviously not anymore.
Marshall came over and handed him a beer. “Good job on getting him over here.”
“Told him it was for Robin,” Ted said, leaning back and taking a sip of the beer.
Marshall smiled and shook his head. “Those two.”
“Yeah.” He wondered sometimes why it hadn’t worked out between them. They had seemed perfect for each other – after Ted’s initial denial about, well, everything, anyway – but after a few months together, they’d grated on each other so much that there hadn’t been anything left of Barney and Robin.
When Ted had talked to Robin, she’d said it was because they were both awesome and that the awesome cancelled each other out. It seemed like far too easy an explanation to Ted. He wondered how much of the problem had been them, their friends, trying to mold them into the same couple-shape that Lily and Marshall were formed in.
He pushed the thoughts aside; this was a night for fun. A night designed especially for Barney, just so that he’d have one night without having to think about his impending fatherhood.
“I don’t get him,” Ted said.
“Barney?” Marshall asked.
“Yeah. On the one hand, he doesn’t seem to want the kid at all – he pretty much freezes whenever I ask him a question about it and then fakes some line about the awesomeness of everything. On the other hand, he’s now built the coolest nursery ever in his suit room.”
“Well,” Marshall said, “The second part is easy to get. That’s just Barney. I mean, any one of his suits costs at least three thousand dollars. He doesn’t do cheap stuff like the rest of us.”
“I wonder what he works with.”
Marshall made a face. “After seeing some of the papers lying around his office, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.”
Ted snorted. “You’re probably right.”
They gazed out at the roof. There were people dancing, laughing, talking, drinking, smiles all across the crowd. They caught glimpses of Barney as he moved between people, chatting up girls and saying hi to old friends and colleagues that Lily had invited. She’d mentioned something about swiping Barney’s phone and inviting everyone who had more than just a first name. They hoped that excluded most of Barney’s one-night-stands.
Marie hadn’t been invited. Ted liked Marie a good deal more than he’d expected to – despite what he’d said just before they’d first met Marie, he had been fully prepared to throw dislike her way if she was bitchy or rude. After all, she had waited six months to tell Barney that he was going to be a dad and that fell into the category of Things One Did Not Do.
He had to remind himself that everyone did things they shouldn’t have done. His own de-friending of Barney fell into the very same category as Marie’s not telling.
“Is it weird to think that Barney will probably be a pretty good dad?”
Marshall woke Ted from his reverie.
“Nah,” Ted said. “I mean, he’ll make mistakes, but who doesn’t? But he’ll probably try harder than any of us will.”
Marshall smiled. “I wonder if he realizes that, well, you know.”
Ted snorted. “That he already loves the kid? Of course he doesn’t. He’s Barney.”
Lily came over to them at that moment. “Hey, you two! We’re having a party here, if you hadn’t noticed. Want to join?”
“We were just talking, Lils,” Ted said.
“Talking-schmalking.” Lily waved off his words. “Let’s party!”
She grabbed his arm and dragged him along. Marshall followed them onto the impromptu dance floor in the middle of the roof where some Lady Gaga hit was going loud.
After a little while, Robin joined.
“Where’s Don?” Ted asked.
She motioned at some point to the left. “He doesn’t dance.”
Then Barney joined them as well and the five of them stood in a circle in the middle of the dance floor. Ted had never been a particularly strong dancer – most of his dance moves probably looked more like he was having a stroke – but at that moment, he didn’t want to be anywhere else. He was with his best friends and everyone was smiling happily, their arms around each other. They were young and beautiful and free and although things were on the brink of changing drastically, Ted could still take this moment and record it, to be taken out in the future to enjoy and remember.
Barney awoke with a headache the next morning.
Totally worth it.
The previous night had been legen-waitforit-dary in every way. The surprise of it – he still couldn’t believe that his friends would do that for him – and the people and the music and the fun. And then he’d gotten to do magic in front of a whole bunch of people – and they had clapped instead of rolled their eyes. He was pretty sure he had even managed to surprise his friends with his abilities and that made him grin from ear to ear, even when it hurt his head.
He dragged himself out of bed and ran a hand through his hair. Shower, then… something. Probably coffee.
He went to get a shirt from his suit room but stopped.
Not his suit room anymore.
He was still ridiculously proud of how it had turned out, even though the only thing he’d done to get it was pay. It was just that he needed it to be awesome like the rest of his apartment, while he at the same time admitted that it needed to be a little childishly cute at the same time. He thought the balance between cool and childish had been achieved.
Barney ran a hand across the soft mattress in the crib, wondering with horrified, anxious excitement what it would be like when there was a kid in the crib. When his son slept there. What would he feel? Would the icy dread that passed through him with regular intervals give way to something else? Something better? Because he was pretty sure that he wouldn’t be able to survive for the rest of his life with all this panic.
He went into the bathroom and took a shower. It felt refreshing and his head pounded a little less.
As he shaved and fixed his hair, he thought about the baby proofing the lady from the furniture store had talked about when she was there, scoping out the room.
For some reason, the lady had headed to the bathroom at some point and she’d made a disliking face at Barney’s toilet.
“What is that?”
Barney had smiled. “Patented. A toilet for a real man.”
She’d tutted. “That will not do, Mr. Stinson. You obviously have no idea of how many accidents involve toilets and children every year.”
Nor did he want to know. Barney tried to keep his face neutral.
The lady took a pamphlet from her purse. “Here. This is a pamphlet about child safety. Read it.”
Her voice had left no room for argument.
The pamphlet had said stuff about kitchen safety – and not just keeping the knives safe, but about everything from the oven being a possible death trap to the cupboards that could break a child’s fingers – and about window locks, baby monitors, and all sorts of other things that Barney had never heard about, much less installed in his precious apartment.
He figured there was still time. As far as he knew, the kid wouldn’t exactly come out of the womb walking and talking.
He had just finished dressing when the doorbell rang. The loud sound made him wince.
“Lily,” he said as he opened. “To what to I owe this early pleasure?”
“We’re taking you out for brunch,” Lily grinned and grabbed his arm.
“You know, if you’d just come ten minutes ago, you’d have enjoyed the view much more.” Barney leered at her before following her and locking the door.
“I’ve seen enough,” Lily said. “Now come on.”
As they got into the elevator, Barney had to comment. “Both a birthday party and brunch?”
Lily shrugged with a smile. “We wanted to give you some fun stuff before you disappear into fatherhood.”
“I’m still going to have time for fun,” Barney said and it was only a little bit of a question.
Lily’s replied, “Sure you are,” wasn’t as comforting as he’d hoped.
There was a cab waiting downstairs. Barney had expected Ted, Marshall and Robin to be in it, but it was empty. He shot a questioning look at Lily, but Lily ignored him. The cab took them to the café where they were eating brunch and Barney tried his best not to bug the life out of Lily on the way with questions.
He got his answer when they arrived.
Ted, Marshall and Robin had obviously been there for a while, despite the late partying the night before. They had hogged a big, round table off to one side of the room and they sat there, smiling and waiting.
The table’s décor didn’t match the rest of the restaurant’s sleek white furniture, that was for sure.
“Really?” Barney asked, eyebrows raised.
Robin took a picture of him, grinning.
“Yesterday was all about being a bachelor,” Lily said. “Today is all about becoming a father.”
“I can see that.” Barney stared a bit more.
The table was overflowing with baby stuff. There was a basket in the very middle of the table, filled to the brim with clothes in light blues and greens, and a huge heap of diapers, and bottles, and a large teddy bear that reminded Barney of Feely the Share Bear at Lily’s preschool. Spread out across the table was more stuff – toys and clothes and bottles of things that Barney didn’t have a clue of what it was for.
“Do you like it?” Marshall sounded a little too excited about all the baby stuff.
“It’s—I mean, it’s baby stuff, but—you guys,” Barney said. “You didn’t have to do this.”
Lily dragged him to sit down at the table. “Of course we did. I’m sure Marie’s had a baby shower and you needed one too.”
He stared at her. “You’re all insane.”
“Yep,” Lily said happily, sitting down opposite him, beside Marshall.
“Hope you don’t mind that we didn’t wrap all of it,” Ted said. “We liked the effect of it all on the table.”
“I especially like the part where all of this is going into your apartment,” Robin said, grinning evilly. “It just matches your doll so well.”
“It’s not a doll, it’s a Storm trooper,” Barney growled at her.
She smiled beatifically.
A waiter showed up. “If you’re ready to eat, there is a buffé ready for you.”
“Thanks,” they chorused.
A little while later, they were seated again – amidst all the baby stuff, although Lily had made sure to fold the clothes up so that no one would spill food on them – and Barney was finally downing some much-needed coffee.
They laughed and talked, Marshall cooing over little jumpsuits and tiny gloves for tiny hands.
“I mean look at them,” he said, holding a pair of blue gloves up. “Can you imagine?”
Robin leaned over to Barney and stage whispered, “I think Marshall’s catching baby fever.”
Barney snorted. “I’m sure his ovaries are tingling.”
An hour or so later, they were wrapping up, when Ted stood. “We have one more thing for you.”
Barney’s eyebrows rose. “Really? More stuff?”
“Yeah. We know you already have the crib, but we figure you’ll probably want to go outside with the baby every now and then too,” Ted said.
Out of nowhere, he produced a shiny new baby carrier. Four wheels, black, all modern-looking.
Barney stared. “You—”
“It’ll work ‘till the kid’s four years old,” Ted said excitedly, “Because you can switch out this part, and then there are all of these add-ons – there’s a cup holder and you can put the diaper bag down here and—”
Barney hadn’t a clue what he’d done to deserve friends such as these. He was pretty sure he was a bit rotten and bad and he knew he certainly didn’t get things right all the time. He had little energy to listen to people when they were sad and of the two-hundred women he’d slept with, he’d lied to more than half to get them into bed.
And yet his friends did this for him.
Ted was still talking when Barney stood up – a little shakily, but he hoped it didn’t show – and went over to hug him.
Ted stopped, finally, and Barney could feel the smile against his ear. “You’ll be a good dad, Barney.”
Barney didn’t know what to say, but hoped that Ted was right.