Written for a "Ten Sessions" Challenge at the barneyrobin LJ.
"Barney, did you know that Bill Gates is here?" Robin pushed open the door to Barney's office, but couldn't stop staring down the hall towards the conference room. Not that she should have been that surprised. Every time she visited Barney at work she saw someone she reported on in the evening news.
Tossing some paperwork aside, he stood and ushered her into the room. "Yeah, we handle some of Microsoft's interests in Asia and Africa. Which reminds me, he owes me two grand from our World Cup pool." He gestured for Robin to sit in the chair across from his and sat on the edge of his desk, facing her. "So, what brings you to my little corner of the world? I have to warn you, if this is a booty call, we'll have to be quiet. Oh, who am I kidding, there's no way we could keep quiet." He grinned down at her.
Robin rolled her eyes. "Barney, you called me and asked me to stop by."
"That's right, I did. And if you'll follow me, I'll show you why."
Curious, Robin trailed him across the hall to the boardroom. The room was dark, save the sunlight peeking through heavy curtains. She sat in the chair that Barney pulled out for her and he picked up a remote and pointed it at a projector.
The screen behind Barney lit up with a picture of them sitting at McLaren's and written across the top was: "Proposal: The Unity of Awesome".
"Barney, what is this?"
"Scherbatsky, I'm glad you asked. As you know, I'm awesome. And as you're probably also aware, you're awesome, too. What I'm proposing, is that we bring our awesomeness together."
He clicked to the next frame which read, "Rationale of Combined Awesome".
Robin got a sense of where this was going, and wanted to nip it in the bud. "Barney – "
"Just hear me out, okay?" he interrupted. "I spent a lot of time putting together this presentation."
The look on his face was so hopeful, she had no choice but to give in. "All right."
He smiled. "Great. Okay, first argument: Hotness." He clicked to the next slide which was a montage of photos of the two of them.
"Separately, you and I are ridiculously attractive. When we're next to each other, we should come with a warning. There really isn't any other couple in the world with this much combined hotness." He seemed to consider that. "Maybe Brad and Angelina, but no one else."
He gestured to a picture that Lily took of them at James's wedding. "See how your smouldering, smoky sexiness offsets my puckish, rascally charm? You can't teach that, Scherbatsky. That's inborn."
"Lots of people look good together, Barney."
"Not this good, Robin. Not this good." He clicked the remote. "Okay, second reason: Expectations. We want the same things out of a relationship, which is actually nothing at all. Neither one of us want to do the whole marriage with kids thing. We want to be free to live our own lives without being dragged down with what the old ball and chain wants to do. And we don't necessarily want to be tied to one person. If we got together, we could keep it casual indefinitely."
It was pretty obvious that he'd given this a lot of thought. And his arguments were sound, but there were other things he was ignoring. "Okay, Barney, I get what you're saying but – "
"No 'buts'. Not yet. Number three: Convenience." A map of New York City was on the screen. "We already spend approximately twenty percent of our time together. Between the bar, the apartment, the cigar club, laser tag, and the shooting range we are together on average four hours per day. Obviously there are some weeknights that we don't see each other at all, but those are off-set by Sundays when we generally spend eight to ten hours together.
"Plus, there would be added convenience for you. Observe. Nearly all of our activities occur here." He pointed to Midtown and Chelsea. "You live here." He pointed to her place in Brooklyn. "I live here." He pointed to his place on Central Park West. "And you work here," he said, pointing at her studio which was five blocks from his apartment. "Were you to accept this proposal, I think we could work out an arrangement where you could spend some evenings at my place, thereby saving yourself hours of travel time."
She had to laugh. "And where would I sleep, ye of one pillow and blanket?"
Looking straight into her eyes, he smiled sincerely, if somewhat ruefully. "Scherbatsky, for you I would buy pillows, blankets, maybe even a quilt."
Her heart did a tiny flip at that. She could handle Barney when he was being gross, or sweet, or even flirty, but this was a whole new side of him and she wasn't sure what to do with it. She'd gotten a glimpse of it on their inaugural night of bro-dom, but he'd backed off as soon as he realised she had feelings for Ted. There wasn't such a convenient excuse this time.
"Barney – "
He tutted, cutting her off. "No, no, no – I'm not done." He clicked to the next frame and then leaned in very close as he set the remote down on the table. He stared deep into her eyes and murmured, "Fourth reason: Chemistry."
It was an effort, especially with him so close that she could feel his breath on her cheek, but she kept her expression neutral. "Yeah?"
"Oh, don't even try, Robin. There's something here. You know it."
The air thickened and she began to feel dizzy. It was as though the world had closed in suddenly to the space between them and that's all there was. Barney's face was just inches from her, hovering, and suddenly it felt like she was really seeing him for the first time. Strong jaw, long lashes, slight stubble, laugh lines around his eyes, and the blue just staring back at her.
Unable to take it, she pushed away suddenly and stood up. "You're right, there's something here. We both feel it. It doesn't mean we should act on it."
She made to step around him when he gently grasped her wrist. "Wait, there's just one more benefit I didn't get to point out."
Turning to him, she sighed. "What?"
Pulling her close with wrist he still had hold of, he gently cupped the back of her neck and kissed her.
It took Robin a full three seconds to realise what was happening, and by the time she did she was already kissing him back. Before she knew it, her arms were around him and the tender kiss suddenly became much more serious. Their lips parted, his fingers threaded through her hair, and Robin felt her whole world tipping on its axis because nothing had ever felt so perfectly right.
His tongue traced her upper lip, eliciting a small moan from her, and it was then that she became aware of their soft gasps and heavy breathing. "Stop." She pushed back from him gently and he let her move back, but kept loose hands at her elbows. "We can't do this, Barney."
"We can, we were, and we should."
"It's not right, you know it. What about Ted? If we did this, he wouldn't speak to either of us ever again."
"He'd get over it."
"I'm sorry, have you met Ted? And even if he did, this would totally ruin the whole group dynamic. You know the other three wouldn't understand something like this. Besides Ted being angry, Marshall would be disappointed, and Lily would expect some grand romance. It's not worth it."
The look that flashed across Barney's face caused a pang of guilt to shoot through her. Robin forgot sometimes that, underneath the suit, was the heart of someone who had been hurt before and didn't want to get hurt again.
She grabbed his hands in hers. "And Barney, I don't want to screw up our friendship. We're bros. You're the only one who will watch UFC with me, and go to the track, and not give me The Look when I light up a cigarette. I can't lose that. If we got involved and something went wrong, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have you around anymore. You're the most awesome person I know."
He grinned. "Yeah, I am."
"And I like that I can just be me around you. I'd never want to do anything that would mess that up. So, are we good?"
For a moment she was convinced he was going to argue with her more, but instead he just nodded. "We're good." He gestured to the door and as they were leaving, she paused to kiss him on the cheek. He smiled fondly down at her and slung an arm around her shoulders as they continued down the hall towards the elevators.
"You're right about one thing, you know," she said.
"I'm right about everything, but what particular thing do you agree with?"
"We really would make an incredibly good-looking couple."
"Word up, Scherbatsky. Word up."