Author's Notes: NO

Author's Notes: NO. NO NO NO. Barney and Robin are MEANT TO BE, GOD DAMNIT.

a mockery or something more sincere


At midnight Robin shows up at Barney's apartment. She doesn't really expect to find him home, but. There he is. Sitting on his couch and watching—

"Oh my God, Barney, you told me you got rid of that!"

He looks up, surprised to hear her voice. Probably more surprised that she just let herself in, because it means that she knows where he hides his keys. That's a comfort level Barney hadn't realized they'd reached.

"Well, you know. The best laid plans."

The sound of her own voice is making Robin kind of nauseous. Sandcastles in the Sand? What had she been thinking? And what was with the desk just . . . chilling out on the beach? These were questions she should have asked. These were things that would have been good to know, if only so that she could try to defend them later.

These were things that she really didn't need to be thinking about right now.

"I'm moving to Japan," she says half-wonderingly as she drops herself onto the couch next to Barney. "I'm moving. To Japan."

Barney's phone rings and he silences it quickly and without fanfare. Maybe that's the biggest tip-off, since Barney never does anything without making sure everyone is watching first.

Robin keeps her eyes focused firmly on the T.V. Sandcastles are safe.

"Well that is . . . totally awesome," Barney murmurs after a minute. The words don't have their usual pep but she appreciates the effort. "Told you that ethnic chick had nothing on you."

"Oh, she got the local job," Robin corrects, trying to laugh, trying to feel more excited about this. "They said she would appeal to the largest amount of people."

He nods expressionlessly. "It's the blue eyes," he acknowledges with a nod of his head. "Man, I once picked up this African girl who only spoke her native language . . . she had the best eyes. Best unprotected sex I ever had."

Robin's glad they're talking about this. It's better than the alternative, and—and it's comfortable. Barney's comfortable. "I don't know, Ted's brown eyes are nice," she muses, leaning her head against the back of the couch. One of Barney's arms is slung carelessly behind it and she can smell his cologne.

"Nice? Nice? Robin, that's the most insulting thing you've ever said about Ted. No man wants to be nice. That's like saying he's . . . sweet. Or cute. You might as well just say 'I'm not having sex with you' and be done with it."

She laughs. "I used to call Ted cute all the time," she admits with a little shrug. "Usually on days when I was too tired to . . . you know. I knew it made him mad." She pauses, deliberating, and then decides to say what's on her mind. "He hated it when I went out with you alone, too. But I mean, who else am I going to smoke cigars and shoot at targets with?"

Barney grins tiredly at her. "That reminds me," he says, getting up. "I have something for you. I was going to wait until there was some occasion or whatever, but . . . well, I mean. Happy Moving-To-Japan Day."

He goes to the kitchenette and pulls open a drawer. She watches him dig through it and feel something that's dangerously like tears start to fall. But Robin's been here before—her, Barney, some tissues and the T.V. She's not sure she wants to keep going in this direction.

She's not sure if she has any say in the matter either way. She hadn't meant to come here in the first place.

Barney tosses her a little box and she catches it deftly as he moves back to the couch. She slips her fingernail beneath the wrapping and tears the paper off slowly, savoring the surprise. Once it's gone, she looks at the object she's holding and laughs.

"Thanks, Barney," she whispers, holding up the cigar cutter with an inscription: 12.02.08. The date of their first annual Laser Tag Championship downtown. They'd kicked ass.

"Take that as a bro-ken of my friendship," he tells her with a smile.

The next thing Robin knows she's crying and crawling into Barney's open arms. She curls up against his chest like she had the night they'd slept together but this time—it's not going anywhere. She can tell by the way he's holding her.

She's not sure how she feels about that, and that's what scares her.

He wraps his arms around her shoulders and they lie side by side on the couch, her own voice singing quietly in the background. After a while she says, "They said I could have a few days to think it over, you know. Make a decision."

She could feel Barney shake his head. "You're taking the job, Scherbatsky," he tells her. "This is an incredible opportunity or you. You're too big for this city."

She sniffs. "Why do you say things like that?" she asks him, rolling over to finally look at him. "Sometimes you're like this totally different person."

He smiles affectionately down at her. Sometimes he's so much like himself before Sharon or Sheryl or whatever that bitch's name was that it breaks Robin's heart. "You know why," he tells her with a scolding glance. "I told Lily, Robin. You think I don't know she can't keep a secret?"

Robin shifts guiltily. "You chose the bimbos," she points out accusingly.

"Was that a mistake?"

Robin thinks about Japan. She doesn't really like sushi. She doesn't even really like Asian food. Do they sell Coronas in Japan? Will they make fun of her for calling policemen bobbies? She nestles against him. "I guess not," she mutters after a second, breathing in his after-shave. It's warm here.

Robin's not going to think about what all these means. Tomorrow she is moving to Japan. Tomorrow it won't matter, anyway. Her eyes are getting heavy, and just before she nods off she asks, "Am I another Sharon?"

Barney laughs, tightening his grip on her. Robin's afraid he might never let go. She's afraid she wouldn't mind if he didn't. "Far worse," he murmurs into her hair, kissing the top of her head just once.

"You're the first and only Robin."