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
Chapter six | Chapter seven
B E C O M I N G
Time passed ridiculously quickly when one wanted time to stand still.
July was turning into August when Barney got the call he’d been both dreading and anticipating for the last three months, ever since The Phone Call.
“Hey, it’s Jeanne.”
Barney gulped. They’d all agreed that the only time Marie’s best friend Jeanne got to call Barney was when—
“Now?” he squeaked.
“Yeah, we’re at the hospital,” Jeanne said.
He wanted to tell her that he was stuck in a very important meeting, because he really wasn’t looking forward to being present when Marie squeezed the kid out. That wasn’t a memory of a vagina he wanted. The pictures in the pregnancy book had been more than enough.
But he wasn’t stuck in a meeting and for once, the lie lodged in his throat.
“I’ll be there.” He tried to sound confident but had a feeling that he failed spectacularly.
“Can’t wait,” Jeanne said, sarcasm lacing his voice. Barney had only met her once and they had both been struck by an instant dislike for each other.
She hung up and Barney sat staring out in the empty air.
All the stuff he’d bought and all the books he’d read – it was for this. For the kid. For his kid, his son, soon to be born.
He grabbed his phone and told his secretary, “Get me Marshall,” before hanging up. Today, he really didn’t care if he was horribly rude. His heart was pounding so loudly in his ears that he could barely hear his own voice.
It had to be a few minutes later, but it felt like both hours and seconds, when Marshall opened the door and stuck his head inside.
“You wanted me?”
Barney nodded mutely, his mouth dry.
Marshall came inside. The door fell shut softly behind him. “What’s up, dude? You’re pale as a—oh my God, is Marie in labor?”
Barney had no idea how he knew, but it was entirely possible that the panic and gripping fear were written all over his face.
He nodded, his body feeling like lead.
Marshall grinned widely. “Oh, that’s so great! Do you want me to come with you? To the hospital? That isn’t weird, right?”
Barney nodded again, barely hearing his ramble. Marshall said something about calling Lily and got out his cell phone, speaking excitedly.
Barney’s brain just kept repeating the word ‘baby’ over and over again, together with the sounds of loud alarms.
Suddenly, Marshall was beside him in a cab and they were going down the streets of New York towards the hospital. Barney had no idea how he’d gotten there – for all he was aware of the word, aliens might have taken them on their spaceship. It felt like he was in a bubble.
Then the hospital building came up ahead and reality, with all its sounds and colors and chaos crashed over him.
He turned to Marshall, gripping his arm tight. “I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t be a dad, Marshall. This isn’t me. I’m awesome and single and I’m not dad material at all!”
“I’m sure everyone feels—” Marshall started, but Barney interrupted him.
“No! I’m not everyone! I’m Barney Stinson and Barney Stinson is no one’s dad! I can’t do this. I don’t know why you’ve been telling me I can – it’s all a lie, who in their right minds would want me as their father? I can’t do it, I can’t!”
He was hyperventilating and everything around him was loud and screaming. The world outside rushed past, an impossible swirl of colors and shapes. The alarms kept ringing in his head and he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t—
The slap came unexpected.
Barney stared at Marshall, chest still heaving with quick breaths.
“That’s five,” Marshall said gently. “Now, I need you to calm down. C’mon Barney, just breathe.”
Barney stared wide-eyed at Marshall, trying to do as instructed. His cheek stung with pain, but for the first time since the Slap Bet, it was a good sort of pain. It was pain that kept him sane amidst chaos.
Marshall’s hands came up to rest on Barney’s shoulders, further grounding him.
“Now,” Marshall said, still calm, “When you’ve calmed down, we’re going to go inside. We’ll find Marie’s room and then you’ll go in there, and you’ll support her. I know you can do it. You’re going to be supportive and great and you’re going to be there when your son is born. Okay?”
Barney swallowed hard. “But what if I can’t do it?”
Marshall squeezed his shoulders reassuringly. “You can. And if you really need to take a break, we’ll be just outside. I called Lily and she’s coming her as soon as she can get her classes covered, and Ted and Robin are both coming when they get off work. We’ll all be there. But Barney, you can do this.”
Some part of Barney, in the back of his mind somewhere, protested against needing Marshall’s reassurance.
The rest of him ignored that part and reveled in the feeling of almost fatherly affection Marshall was showing.
He could do this.
If Marshall said he could, then he could do it.
He swallowed and nodded, taking a deep breath and trying to steel himself for what was coming.
Marshall paid the cabbie and they made their way to the hospital entrance. Barney noted that Marshall was walking closer than usual, maybe ready to grab him if he tried to bolt, or maybe just to be there if Barney needed it. It felt oddly comforting.
“Hi,” Marshall said to the nurse in the reception. “We’re looking for Marie North. She’s in labor.”
The nurse nodded and after checking her computer, she said, “Maternity ward, room two-ten. Down that way and to the left, there are signs.”
Marshall nodded and thanked her. Barney was glad that he didn’t have to do conversation – he was still re-learning how to breathe. His hands were shaking as he walked.
They found the maternity ward’s reception. The nurse pointed them in the direction of the room and Barney thought they found it way, way too quickly. He wasn’t ready for this.
They pushed the door open.
Barney wasn’t sure what he’d expected – Marie screaming her head off, maybe? – but it wasn’t this. She was lying calmly on a bed, small-talking with Jeanne, dressed in a hospital gown and with a monitor beeping next to her.
Both women turned when Marshall and Barney came inside.
“Hi, Marie,” Marshall said. “I’m just making sure he gets here, I’m not staying.”
Marie smiled. “I don’t mind. My crotch isn’t on display just yet.”
“Good to know,” Marshall said.
Marie looked at Barney. “Has he gone mute?”
Marshall rubbed a hand over Barney’s back and it felt a little like it was someone else’s back, not his own. Barney wondered how Marshall could be so calm, but he figured it was different when it wasn’t his kid.
“He’s just a little nervous,” Marshall said.
Jeanne rolled her eyes. “It’s not like he even needs to be here.”
“Shush,” Marie said. “He’s the baby’s father, of course he should be here.”
Barney wanted to argue that if he didn’t have to be there, then he might as well leave, but the words caught in his throat. Marshall had told him he could do this, so he would.
“How are you feeling?” Barney asked, croaking out the question.
“He speaks,” Jeanne muttered.
Marie ignored her and smiled a little at Barney. “The contractions are about five minutes apart, so it’ll be a while yet. We just thought it was better to get in here, since all of my mom’s births have gone really fast.”
“Better safe than sorry,” Marshall smiled. “How many siblings do you have?”
Suddenly, they were small talking as though the world wasn’t about to change. Barney could only stare.
Then, in the middle of one of Marshall’s stories, Marie’s face scrunched up and she forced herself to take long, deep breaths. Her hands balled into fists as she breathed. It took Barney a little longer than he wanted to admit to realize that she was having a contraction.
Marshall settled him in a chair at some point. Barney felt like he was back in the bubble, where sights and sounds were a little bit dimmed. Nothing felt quite real, until Marshall’s hand returned to his shoulder, safe and warm.
Time passed but Barney had lost the ability to understand the clock. It might have been an hour, or five. He had no idea. Marshall talked and smiled with Marie, Barney sat more or less frozen, and Jeanne read a book, ignoring them all. When a midwife came into the room to see how dilated Marie was, Marshall stood.
“Jeanne, would you like to accompany me for a cup of coffee?”
She obviously saw straight through the hint for her to leave Barney and Marie alone, and with a glare, she got out of her chair and followed Marshall out.
Barney stood up, next to Marie, as the midwife hoisted up the blankets covering Mare.
“Nine centimeters,” the midwife said after a little. “You’d better get ready.”
Barney recalled reading that ten centimeters was needed. He had no idea how a baby’s head could possibly fit through that size and he didn’t want to think for very long about it.
Then Marie grabbed his hand in a tight grip as another contraction took hold of her.
“Just breathe through it,” he said, surprising himself by the softness of his voice. “You’re doing good.”
As the contraction passed, she looked at him in surprise. “You do talk. I just thought you were going to be quiet and then pass out.”
He swallowed. “I don’t exactly know how to be helpful here.”
“What you just did was nice,” she said, smiling slightly.
“Okay.” He noted her sweaty brow and looked around for some water. He found a plastic cup on the stand next to the bed and held it out to her. “Want some?”
She drank and gave him back the cup. They were silent, but somehow there was comfort in the close proximity. They weren’t lovers, weren’t together, but they were still linked. They were on the brisk of parenthood and no matter how understanding and nice Marshall was, he wasn’t part of this. Only Marie was.
He felt useless as another contraction grabbed Marie, making her grimace. She held onto his hand again and he found he didn’t mind so much, because maybe that helped her a little and he didn’t feel quite so much like a waste of space.
Marshall kept Jeanne away, Barney noted with some satisfaction, hoping that Marie didn’t wish for her friend’s presence.
The contractions kept coming closer and closer together. At some point, the room filled with medical type people and Barney and Marie were told that Marie was dilated enough.
“We’ll start pushing with the next contraction, okay?”
Marie had her legs up and the midwife was seated between her legs. Barney wondered how much blood and gore there would be and hoped that he wouldn’t faint; that would not be awesome.
Marie nodded through gritted teeth and grabbed Barney’s hand. He suspected she’d break something before this ordeal was over, but he vowed to himself to shut up about the pain.
When she started pushing, it barely felt like he was there. He said things to her, hoped they were encouraging, hoped they helped at all, but she was screaming and squeezing his hand until there was no blood left in it. The midwife kept up a stream of encouragement as well.
There were little pauses, little tiny breaks when Marie let go slightly of his massacred hand, and then—
“Time to push again – you’re doing great, good job, just a little longer,” the midwife said.
Then they said the head was out and Barney stared down beyond the large swell of Marie’s stomach, to the area between her legs.
He could see the top of the baby’s head.
There was blood and gooey stuff on him, but—it was his son.
“All right, take a deep breath,” the midwife said, and Barney followed her instructions too, belatedly realizing that it was meant for Marie.
The midwife said something about the baby’s shoulders and Marie nodded.
“I can see him,” Barney said.
Marie glanced up at him. Her hair was plastered to her forehead, all sweaty and icky, and she was panting hard – but there was a look of wonder in her eyes nonetheless.
Then she snapped back as another contraction hit and she screamed again and again, pushing and forcing the baby out.
Barney thought he heard a wet sound, something slipping out.
The world stilled.
Marie panted hard, close to him, her breaths echoing in his ears.
And then a scream.
Tiny fists, blood-streaked body, lungs filling with air for the first time.
“Dad, would you like to cut the cord?”
The midwife was looking straight at him, holding the baby in her hands.
She was talking to him.
A nurse held out a pair of scissors to him and his hand shook violently as he took them. Each step he took towards the baby felt like it was a mile long.
A nurse told him where to cut it and he did it, although he was horribly scared that he’d hurt the baby. He didn’t dare look at the child, not yet, not—
“You have a healthy son,” the midwife said. “Congratulations.”
Barney stared at the baby.
He was covered in gore and his face was all scrunched up, and his head was almost cone shaped. His body looked more like that of a frog than that of a human, his legs drawn up to his chest and tiny arms pulled tight. There were little fingers and tiny toes, and a little nose and red lips.
The baby was swept away by a nurse to be cleaned off, weighed and measured, while Marie pushed out the placenta.
Barney felt his vision swimming and he sat down heavily on a chair.
Then the nurse came back and placed the baby – now dressed in blue with a hat on his head – atop Marie’s chest. Her hospital gown was open and the baby found the breast, little fingers almost digging into her skin.
“He likes boobs already,” Barney said faintly.
Marie chuckled tiredly, for once not irritated with him for his womanizing comments.
Barney forced himself to stand again, to come over to her side. He stared down at them, in awe and disbelief.
“You know,” he said gently after a while, “I’d expected him to be cuter.”
Marie snorted. “You expected a mini-you.”
“Can you blame me for wanting a copy of this?” He smiled at her.
“You’re so full of yourself. And he’s perfect.”
Barney bent down and kissed her forehead. He couldn’t remember doing that since Shannon, but right now it just felt right. It didn’t matter that she was sweaty – after what she’d just done, it was okay.
“You did good,” he said.
“You weren’t so bad yourself.”
The baby – their son – sighed softly and suddenly, Barney understood everything about milestones with the baby and why it was the coolest thing ever when the child smiled at its parent for the first time. Just hearing him sigh made his heart soar with pride. Barney couldn’t wait for—everything.
“We made that,” Barney said, staring. “How did we make that?”
Marie smiled slightly. “As I recall it, I was drunk and you were—”
He barely heard her jab at him; he couldn’t stop looking at his son.
“Do you want to hold him?” Marie asked when the baby had stopped feeding.
He’d held babies before, but never one so small as his son. His insecurity must have shown on his face.
“You won’t drop him,” she said.
“’course I won’t,” Barney mumbled, hoping it was true.
His hands were shaking and he wondered absently if they had stopped shaking at all since Jeanne called his office.
The little baby boy felt mostly like an unshapely lump in his arms. There was no stability anywhere and he was careful to support his head and neck as had been underlined and bolded in the books. Only a little uncomfortable, he managed to get a good hold on him, resting him in his arms.
He had a tuft of blond hair on his head just like his parents, barely visible beneath the blue hat, and his eyes were round and sky blue. He was staring and though Barney knew he couldn’t focus, he still imagined that the baby could see him.
“Hey kiddo,” he said. “I’m your dad.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Marie smile.
Barney wondered how long it would take before he truly realized that he was a dad now. He was pretty sure that he was still in shock, because it couldn’t possibly be this easy. It couldn’t just be looking down at the tiny little face with the big eyes surrounded by dark lashes, and the tiny nose, and soft pink lips—
It couldn’t be so easy to love his son, as to just look at him. There had to be more to it than that; there had to be more work, more hardship.
The baby yawned – he yawned! a part of Barney’s brain yelled triumphantly – and Barney’s heart melted just a little more.
Barney glanced at Marie, but found that at some point while he’d been engrossed in the baby, she had fallen asleep. Considering the work she’d just done, he understood that. Barney wasn’t sure he’d be able to sleep for a few days himself, though, not with all this adrenaline coursing through him.
There was a knock on the door and it opened to reveal Lily.
“Hi,” she said. “The doctor said—can we—”
She stopped, mouth open, catching sight of the bundle in Barney’s arms. The others came in after her and they came to a complete halt, just like her.
“Guys,” Barney said softly as to not wake Marie, “Meet my son.”
They walked in further and Barney met them half way, moving oh so carefully with his precious burden. His son seemed to think that it was as nice a place as any to nap, because his eyelids closed and he was asleep a moment later.
The others stared at the baby as though surprised that after all the drama, a real baby had actually been born.
“He’s adorable,” Lily squealed – quietly, but still was definitely still squealing – when she found her voice again.
Barney beamed, feeling ridiculously proud of himself. He hadn’t really done much – the production part had been good fun and after that, the only real pain he’d suffered was getting his hand nearly crushed.
He conveniently forgot all about the panic attacks and the anxiety he’d suffered.
Ted peered down at the baby. “He looks like you.”
“Really?” Barney asked. He couldn’t see any likeness, at least not yet.
“Yeah,” Marshall agreed. “The nose and the eyes.”
“He’ll be very handsome when he grows up,” Lily smiled.
Robin was the only one who stayed back a little.
Barney looked up at her. “What do you think?”
She seemed surprised about being actively drawn into the conversation, but her face softened into a smile.
“As far as kids go, I guess he’s okay,” she said.
Barney grinned. “And you know, Marshall, I was here all the way through. Gory parts and all.”
Marshall clapped his shoulder. “Good job, man.”
Then the baby pursed his lips and made a little sound and Lily and Marshall both went ‘aww’.
“Baby fever,” Barney said to Ted, still grinning.
His son felt warm in his arms, warm and safe and his in a way nothing had been in so very long. This was his son, his responsibility, his precious burden.
He hoped he wouldn’t screw up too badly. Looking around at each of his friends, he figured they’d be around to tell him if he was acting like an idiot. He had no doubt he would, although he hoped it wouldn’t happen too often.
He was surprised to realize that he felt both content and happy, standing there in the hospital room with his newborn in his arms and his friends around him. For the first time in months, he decided he loved his life.