Throwing my hat in the ring with a fic to fix that disaster of a series finale. Not recommended for Ted fans, although I'll try to redeem him by the end of this story. Dedicated to Barney and Robin as portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders. Barney and Robin are too meant to be and too awesome NOT to be eternally married and overall happy together well into their nineties.
The first thing Barney Stinson was aware of was the constant BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEPing noise. He frowned, trying to place it; it wasn't his travel alarm, or his cell phone. Could it possibly be a smoke detector? He hadn't noticed one in the room last night, but...
It was morning! It was his wedding day, his and Robin's wedding day! Wherever the beeping was coming from, thank God it woke him up, because he could notbe late today of all days. No way. This was the day he and Robin would pledge their lives and love to each other forever, and he couldn't wait to see her walking down that aisle toward him.
Belatedly Barney realized his eyes were not yet open, and when he tried to open them, he found that someone had placed barbells on his eyelids. Not cool, Ted, he thought. Okay, yes, he'd had an insane amount to drink last night, but he was too awesome to be hung over on his wedding day. A couple of Red Bulls, a gallon of black coffee, and a steaming hot shower (by himself, alas) would fix him right up.
When Barney finally forced his eyes open, however, he was not in Ted's room at the Farhampton Inn. He was staring at the austere, antiseptic white walls of a hospital room. The infernal, constant BEEPING was a heartbeat monitor that was hooked up to his chest, and he was lying flat on his back in a hospital bed in one of those skimpy, no-fashion-sense-whatsoever hospital gowns. He discovered that his right arm was strapped to his chest, encased in plaster and covered with a sling.
Where was Robin, and what the hell had happened to him?
If this was Ted and Marshall's idea of a prank...
With great difficulty Barney turned his head to his right and discovered that he was wearing a neck brace, which immediately took him back to that horrible summer he spent recovering from being hit by a bus, when half the bones in his body were broken.
The sight that greeted him made his chest ache. Robin was curled into practically a fetal position into one of those uncomfortable hospital chairs pulled up right beside his bed. He could see the dried tracks of tears on her cheeks, and though her eyes were closed, he could also see that her eyelids were swollen. It looked like she had just fallen asleep...no, she had just cried herself to sleep, Barney silently corrected himself.
That did it. If this stupid prank of Ted and Marshall's had made Robin cry, then Barney was going to have set his two bros straight.
Her name came out as the barest whisper, which was when Barney realized that his mouth and throat felt like they were stuffed with cotton.
That bare whisper was enough, though. Robin instantly jolted awake when she heard Barney's hoarse under-his-breath murmur of her name, and she fell to her knees by his bed. "Barney," she said, half-sobbing. "You know who I am?"
"Of course I do," Barney rasped, his voice still that barely-there whisper. Robin sprang to her feet and fumbled for the tan plastic pitcher of ice water, splashing it all over the rolling table by the bed but still managing to get at least half the pitcher's contents into the plastic cup with the flexy straw sticking out of it. She held the cup and Barney drank deeply through the straw until he had managed to banish most of the cotton from his mouth and throat.
While Barney was drinking, the door to his room opened and Marshall and Lily entered, both looking worried and both carrying Starbucks to-go cups, though Lily's had tea in deference to her pregnancy. "He's awake?" Marshall asked hopefully. Lily, her hormones rioting because of her pregnancy, blinked back tears at the sight of Robin holding that cup of water that Barney was in the process of draining.
For the first time, Barney noticed the bags that Robin, Lily and Marshall all had under their eyes. It looked like Marshall hadn't shaved in a couple of days, and Lily's hair was almost as disheveled as Robin's entire appearance.
Barney released the straw from his lips, and Robin set the now-empty cup back on the rolling table by Barney's bed and fell to her knees once more, taking Barney's left hand in both of hers and holding on tightly. Barney looked up at her and started to try to move his right hand to touch her face, but he was thwarted by his cast, and by the fact that his arm was strapped to his chest. Marshall and Lily now stood on the left side of Barney's bed. "Barney," Robin said, her emotions still running high.
"You're Robin Scherbatsky," Barney told her. "You're my fiancée, and we're supposed to get married tonight. What the hell happened to me? At first I thought this was a prank that Ted and Marshall pulled, but clearly it's not. Where is Ted, anyway?" For Barney had noticed that Ted was not in the room with the rest of them.
Robin, Lily and Marshall all three exchanged stricken looks. "Y-you don't remember?" Robin said, her face falling like a ruined soufflé. She had to force herself not to dissolve into tears again, and Lily's crying wasn't making it any easier.
Barney sent Marshall a look of mingled fear and worry. Marshall licked his lips and said, "Barney...you and Robin are already married. The wedding was three weeks ago. You were in a hang-gliding accident four days into your honeymoon."
"We're already married?" Barney asked, shocked. He looked at Robin. He didn't remember one second of the wedding! But how could that be? How could he not remember marrying the only woman he had ever truly loved, the most awesome woman in the world, the other half of his soul and all that clichéd crap that Ted had been spouting forever but that Barney now knew had a ring of truth to it after all. And where was Ted?
Lily wiped at her eyes and sent Robin a significant look. Lily knew very well why Barney didn't remember the wedding. God knew that she and Marshall and Robin had tried to block out what Ted had done and said. Lily and Marshall had discussed this very thing back at their hotel across the street from the hospital in the long days and nights of waiting for Barney to wake up while Robin kept constant vigil at her husband's side. Lily was the one who had first suggested that if Barney had any sort of amnesia, it might be related to the wedding, or at least to what Ted had done and said before the wedding. That kind of betrayal from the man Barney considered his best friend and best bro had shocked all four of them, but it had hurt Barney deeply. Robin had been so angry at Ted for his behavior before the wedding that she hadn't even wanted to talk about him. Her first call after the accident had been to Lily and Marshall; after that, she had called James, Loretta, and Jerome. She hadn't even considered calling Ted. As far as she knew, he had moved to Chicago the day after she and Barney got married, and that was the best thing for all of them. So Robin hadn't been very receptive to Lily's theory, after Marshall had convinced her to hear Lily out earlier that very day. But now Lily's theory was turning out to be true.
Barney, meanwhile, was staring at Robin's left hand, and sure enough, a solid gold wedding ring now resided on her ring finger, behind her engagement ring. Ted was the one who had told the group, at one point during the planning and lead-up to the wedding, that the proper way for a woman to wear her rings was to wear the wedding ring first, so that the wedding ring is closer to the heart, with the engagement ring on top of it, and that was the way Robin was wearing her wedding and engagement rings now.
Barney would never forget giving Robin her engagement ring, that December night on the roof of the WWN building. But he hated that he couldn't remember marrying Robin, putting that ring on her finger and having her put her ring on his finger as they vowed in front of their family and dearest friends to love each other awesomely and forever. And as much as he had wanted to marry Robin, he truly couldn't understand why he had no memory of their wedding.
Barney looked down at his left hand then, but Robin still held his hand in both of hers, so he couldn't see his fingers. Robin, following Barney's gaze and realizing what he was looking for, released his hand, then pulled a gold chain from beneath her blouse. As she reached behind herself to unclasp the necklace, the sunlight streaming through the window caught the shiny object dangling from the gold chain, making it glint: a solid gold man's wedding ring that matched the one Robin now wore.
When Robin had the chain off, she held it up, letting the ring slide off and land in her palm. Then she slid the ring onto the third finger of Barney's left hand, kissing the ring once it was back on his finger where it belonged.
Barney flexed his fingers, and the weight of the ring on his hand felt right.
The door to Barney's room opened then, and a gray-haired male doctor entered. "Ah, Mr. Stinson. Welcome back to the land of the living," he greeted Barney.
Barney noticed the doctor's name badge then. Dr. Joseph C. Everett, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Los Angeles?" he exclaimed. "We're in L.A.?" He looked at Robin.
"After you were stable enough to travel, I wanted the best in the world to do your surgery," Robin said. She didn't look very strong now, and Barney put his hand in hers again, threading his fingers through hers. She took comfort and strength from his fingers knotted through hers, and swallowing hard, she said, "You hit a tree, Barney. Your helmet split right in two. There was swelling in your brain, and I wasn't about to have you operated on in Belize, or in Mexico. So I brought you back here to the States, and to Cedars-Sinai. That was two weeks ago. The longest two weeks of my life."
"I need to examine Mr. Stinson," Dr. Everett interjected then, "so I'm going to have to ask the rest of you to step out, and yes, that includes you, Mrs. Stinson," he said as Robin started to protest. "I'll be brief, I promise."
Robin leaned down and kissed Barney, and he brought his left hand up to cup the back of her head, responding ardently to her kiss. Just as Robin was about to get on top of Barney in the bed, Dr. Everett loudly cleared his throat, and after all the turmoil of the past three weeks, Lily and Marshall exchanged a brief look of happiness at Robin and Barney's reunion. At least Barney and Robin's marriage wouldn't end tragically.
"Mrs. Stinson," Dr. Everett said gently.
Barney and Robin reluctantly disengaged from one another. "Why don't you see if you can score a nurse's uniform?" Barney said so only Robin could hear him. Robin smiled the smile she reserved for Barney alone, quickly pecked him on the lips again, and let Marshall and Lily usher her out of the room so Dr. Everett could examine Barney.
When they were in the hall, Marshall bought Robin a cup of crappy vending machine coffee. "He looks good, don't you think?" Robin asked Lily.
"He really does," Lily said, rubbing Robin's arm soothingly.
"I'm sure he's gonna be okay," Marshall added as he handed Robin the Styrofoam cup. She took a sip and winced but forced it down.
Then she looked at the closed door to Barney's hospital room. "It looks like you were right, Lily," she said.
"I didn't want to be," Lily said sadly. "And he's asked where Ted is, which proves he doesn't remember what happened right before the wedding either."
"Maybe we shouldn't tell him," Marshall said.
Lily and Robin both looked at him incredulously. "Not tell him?" Lily said.
"I wish we could get away with that, Marshall," Robin said. "But Barney and I vowed that we would never lie to each other."
"So you're going to break his heart?" Marshall challenged.
"I'm not the one who broke his heart, Ted is the one who broke his heart!" Robin reminded Marshall angrily. But then the anger drained out of her like water out of a bathtub. "I just...How are we supposed to tell Barney that his best friend, his best bro, Ted tried to convince me to leave Barney for him only moments before our wedding?"