A/N: This is my first-ever TV fic. I've only done book fandoms before, and it feels a little awkward. I probably am overrelying on dialogue, but this is just a quickie anyhow! Feedback is appreciated. Spoilers through Season 4, Episode 4, some things don't fit with what happens in Episode 5 (and probably beyond).
Ted pulled out his ringing phone and checked the caller ID.
"Hey guys, good news, it's Robin!"
His friends around the bar table all grinned as he answered it, although Lily was worried. Robin talked to them all through Skype a couple of times a week - international calls were expensive, why would she be bothering with Ted's cel? As Ted's face fell, she knew she was right to be worried.
"Are you sure? It's that bad? Really? Wow, we had no idea... Yeah, you have. Robin, why didn't you say anything sooner? ... Look, don't worry about that, I've got an extra bedroom now that Lily and Marshall are gone. I know that's a little awkward but just until you find a new place."
The grins were nowhere to be found as the other three exchanged looks of shock and confusion. Robin had only been in Japan for a month. She couldn't be planning to come home already? Ted hung up the phone and they all looked to him eagerly, awaiting news.
"Wow. So, apparently Robin is really, really unhappy with this new job. She's been pretending it was great so we wouldn't worry, but it sounds like she's basically stuck on the same Metro News One crap stories. Yesterday she was interviewing twelve-year-olds dressed as their favorite anime characters." They all winced, and Lily interrupted.
"But she's always dreamed of living in another country! Even if she's not working this job, she doesn't want to leave, does she?"
"Actually, no, she doesn't really. But she didn't check the visa requirements before she quit, and apparently she can't just go and get another job. She has three days to get out of the country. She's got a flight booked back to New York tomorrow."
"Wow, that sucks hard," Marshall said, shaking his head. "Nice of you to let her move in, dude."
"Well, it's not like I have a choice, right? What kind of person could turn away a friend when they're living alone in a two-bedroom apartment? Sure, it'll be kinda weird if either of us has anyone over, but it's just temporary. We're adults."
Lily realized that Barney had been oddly quiet the entire time. She glanced his way and saw that while the rest of them looked sullen at the news of Robin's crushed dreams, Barney looked stunned... but with just the hint of a smile. Lily realized that this cloud might have a silver lining after all and grinned to herself.
Lily answered the door to her and Marshall's new apartment to find Barney standing in the hallway. Not for long, though, as he brushed past her hurriedly and began pacing her living room.
"Talk me down, Lily!"
She watched him pace for a moment, her mouth agape. "Is... this about Robin?"
He stopped suddenly in front of her and grabbed her shoulders. "This is about Barney Stinson being in grave, grave, danger, Lily. If I can't harness the power of my awesome and take control back from these damn feelings, I may do something I will regret. When I see Robin this afternoon, I don't know what will happen. If I'm lucky, I'll look at her, realize I feel nothing and never did and all will be well. But if I look at her and see the same incredible, beautiful, intelligent, witty, cigar-smoking, laser-tag-playing angel that's been haunting my dreams for the past month..." His eyes glazed over as he stared into the distance. A quick tap on the cheek from Lily brought him back. "You see? You see what happens? I can't control myself. And if I lose control, terrible, terrible things will happen, Lily."
She took his hands from her shoulders and pushed him gently down onto the couch. "You don't know that. She may feel the same. And being in a relationship isn't as terrible as you think. I do think that maybe you could be a little... calmer, when you see her. But it's going to be okay. And if she doesn't feel the same way, at least you'll know and you can get past it"
"Not her, Lily, not her. It's not about her. Lily..." He looked at her pleadingly, "I can't lose Ted."
"Last time he de-broed me just for sleeping with her! Can you imagine what he'd do if he knew I felt this way, let alone if I went on a date with her? I can't do it, Lily, I can't risk living a broless life!"
Lily sat down in the armchair exasperatedly. "Barney, that was totally different. Sleeping with someone you can control. You can't control your feelings for her, or her feelings for you, if she has any. Ted will understand, and if he doesn't - I'll make him. But it's a good point, you should probably talk to him before you make a move. If you ever decide to make a move."
"I can't tell Ted about this!"
"He's probably going to find out eventually. If nothing else, if you keep this up I'm probably going to crack and tell Marshall, and you know Marshall can't keep anything from Ted."
"Fine. IF - and that is a big if - I ever decide to pursue Robin, I will talk to Ted first. I'm sure that must be in the bro code somewhere, clear it with your bro before you declare your love for his ex. Which means it's not going to happen, so this is all moot." His face suddenly crumbled and he began to whine, "But what do I do in the airport, Lily? When she steps through that security gate with all that shiny hair and soft skin and boobs."
Lily sighed. "Look, I'll be right there. If you look like you're about to make a fool out of yourself, I'll give you a pinch or a kick or something. If it gets really bad, claim you need to pee and get yourself together in the bathroom."
"You know I have to go in the bathroom after I get a good look at Robin, what up!"
Lily rolled her eyes and gave him a half-hearted high five.