A ring. There was a diamond ring in Barney's t-shirt drawer. Robin remained frozen, staring down at the tiny box in her hand. She quickly ran through the list of reasons why Barney would have a ring in his dresser drawer. To initiate fake proposal sex with all the bimbos from his past life? Yes… Because he slept with a married woman one night and she left it here? Well, yes…. He had bought it a decade ago for Shannon and never used it? Actually… yes…
Robin smiled faintly, proud of herself for calmly reasoning through this instead of panicking. There were, once she thought about it, a multitude of reasons why Barney could have a diamond ring in his t-shirt drawer. And she knew for a fact that proposal to her wasn't one of them. Not now, at least. They had just talked about it and both said they weren't ready and didn't know if they ever would be. Robin slowly snapped the box shut and quietly started to re-fold the t-shirts and put them back in the drawer, needing a calming activity to quiet her thoughts.
On the other hand… Assuming Barney had this ring for completely innocent reasons… How would he react to her assuming it was for a proposal? Robin grinned wickedly. Really, he probably had done something mean to her at some point that deserved this. She jumped on the bed.
*SMACK* "Ow! What the hell, Scherbatsky?!" Barney exclaimed, rubbing his arm in pain and sitting up, glaring at his girlfriend. "There are much, much nicer ways to wake a man." Robin didn't bother joking along with him. "What the hell? What the hell?!? I should be asking you what the hell, Stinson!" Barney dropped his arm and looked at her, confused. She held up the diamond ring. "What the hell is this, Barney?!" Barney's eyes very briefly widened in panic, glancing quickly from Robin to the ring and back, and then returned to their previous drowsy state.
"Oh," he said, yawning. "That." He waived his arm. "Oh, don't worry about that, Robin. Just something James gave me when he visited a while back – apparently Mom realized that a diamond ring was hurting her chance with the men, or something equally as sordid, and passed it along to him when we were kids, him being the oldest and all…" He trailed off, then raised his eyebrows in realization. "Hey! I guess this means Mom was married at one point. Huh…" He shrugged and looked back at her. "Anyway, he didn't need it so he gave it to me when he was visiting a while back."
Robin looked down at the box and popped it open, wondering just how far she could take this conversation in order to learn where he truly stood on the whole marriage issue. She pulled the ring out and slid it on her finger. "Good. I tried it on, but it's waaaay too big for me. It's gotta be like a 10 or something – you're mom had huge fingers. My ring size is a 6."
Barney shrugged, not making eye contact, and just stared at the ring, his voice still drowsy and monotone. "Oh." He picked up the ring she had just slid off her finger and held it up to the moonlight peering through the windows and squinted, trying in vain to determine clarity. "Piece a junk," he muttered. He handed it back to Robin. "Do you think Goodwill accepts jewelry like this? Or should I just throw it away?"
Robin gasped. "Barney! Don't you want to… I don't know, save it?" He looked up. "For what? For you?" Robin's eyes widened in shock. She had been skirting around the issue, but Barney had just addressed it dead-on. She liked that about him.
Barney shook his head, instantly catching himself. "I mean, for me? I mean… Just if I were ever so insane enough to get married… to a woman who would of course have to match my level of awesome…" He took a long pause, gazing meaningfully at Robin, then dropped his gaze back down to the ring. "Then do you really think I'd give her such a shoddy excuse for a piece of jewelry? I mean, I don't mean to brag Robin, but you more than anyone, have a pretty good idea of what I make. You… Or, you know, whoever I marry… If I marry… deserves waaay better than a cheap knock-off diamond ring that my mom wore as an accessory more than a symbol of commitment." His voice started to fade the longer he kept looking at the ring now sitting on the bed.
Robin ached for him, knowing that his mom issues were just as monumental as his father issues, so she just leaned back and smiled softly. "Sounds good," she said, not pressing the issue. She picked up the remote and started flipping through the channels and found Letterman. "Wanna order a pizza? I'm sure we can find someone still open at 2 a.m." She asked, smiling at him. He snuggled against her, tossing the ring box into a nearby chair and nodded. "Sure, Scherbatsky. Only if you're done intentionally messing with my head, though," he smirked. Robin feigned innocence as she pulled out her cell phone. "C'mon, Robin, I know when you're lying. Next time you want to talk about marriage, just talk about it. Don't pull this whole stunt." Robin smiled, "Caught me. Pepperoni sound good?" Barney nodded and smiled, sinking back into the thick pillows on the bed. He twined his fingers together and put them under his head, staring at the ceiling, and made a mental note to get the ring he had bought with his winnings in Vegas resized to a size 6.
PART 23 – FINALE!
A/N: Well, this is the end... I kind of ran out of inspired ideas after this chapter and felt it would be better to have it come to a close now rather than drag it on and on with nothing really good to say. Thank you SO MUCH for reading and for all your wonderful, encouraging comments. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I'm not sure right now if I'm going to start a new fic, whether it be HIMYM or another show, right now I'm uninspired. But I'd like to write something new! Let me know, as always, your thoughts in the comments section! :)
Lily spit out her drink at Barney's comment. "You bought Robin a diamond ring?!" She exclaimed, incredulously, as Marshall hurried to clean up after her. Barney nodded, shrugging, like it was the most casual thing in the world. "Yeah, in Vegas, with my winnings."
Lily and Marshall, now satisfied that the table was clean, resumed staring at him in complete and utter disbelief. "But…. You… Hate marriage." Lily said slowly, carefully, scared to knock him back into reality.
Barney nodded again, waving his hand. "Yup. I do. And so does Robin, actually." Lily's eyes widened in confusion. "Then why….?"
Barney sighed, frustrated. Sometimes he had to explain everything. "I bought the ring, Lil, because I was upset and depressed and grasping at straws. Plus, I figured maybe Robin will one day want to get married. And when that day comes, I'll be ready."
The married couple exchanged glances as Marshall posed the next question. "But even if she wants to get married, you don't," he reminded Barney.
Barney shrugged again, taking a sip of his scotch. "True. But if Robin wants to get married, I will. End of story." Ted slipped in next to Barney at that moment, overhearing the last sentence. "Wait, what?! You'd marry Robin?" The suited man rolled his eyes. "Jeez, you guys. Of course! If Robin wants to get married, I'd marry her. But if she doesn't want to, I won't. What is so hard about this concept for you to grasp?" Ted's mouth fell open as he exchanged looks with the pair across the table. It had all taken them some time, after the Relationship Intervention, to cope with the fact that Relationship-Barney was a slightly different, less-womanizing version of his awesome-self… But having no problem with marriage? They had no idea he was that far gone.
Barney continued. "But thankfully, or unthankfully I guess, she found my mom's old ring that James had given to me when he visited. I was just planning to sell the damn thing, but she assumed I was going to propose and went off on this tirade. So…" He paused for dramatic effect; drink halfway to his lips, "I got to hear her feelings on marriage, with me, without even having to go down on bended knee. AND now I know her ring size and she hasn't even seen the ring I'm actually going to use when, and if, that day ever comes. It couldn't have worked out better if I'd planned it!" He smirked and kissed his fist, looking to the sky. "Once again, God has intervened to save my reputation… Thanks big guy."
The two men listening slumped back in the booth, satisfied that Barney was at least still a little like the man they once knew, but Lily remained critical. "Wait, so let me get this straight," she directed to Barney, setting down her beer. He raised his eyebrows, waiting. "You bought Robin a diamond ring?" He nodded. "When are you going to propose?" He shrugged. "I dunno. Maybe never… Right now, we're good. I'll probably propose when she starts bugging me to get married – if she ever does that. I'm perfectly content never marrying her, to be honest. Just have things stay the way they are." Lily just pursed her lips. "Ok, if you say so."
Barney narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "Why do you care so much, anyway?" Lily shrugged. "Nothing, it's just… You're approaching this marriage thing very casually, is all." Barney nodded. "I know." "And you're not freaking out about it?" Ted asked again, leaning in. "Good Lord, you're all Tedding out about this!" Barney laughed.
At that moment, Robin entered MacLaren's and slid into the booth. Barney smiled and gave her a quick kiss in greeting. Robin looked around at the group, who were all still very confused. "Uh… What are we talking about?" Robin asked, looking at Barney. He smirked and cocked an eyebrow, hatching a plan. "Oh, nothing… We were just talking about us getting married."
Robin's eyes widened at his bluntness. "Oh." She turned to the rest of the group, who were staring. "And… What did you say?" He shrugged, motioning at Wendy to bring Robin a drink. "Oh, just that we would get married when you wanted to… That is, if you ever want to."
Robin smiled. "Really? You're willing to just do whatever I want?" He smiled, "Yeah!" He winked at her with the eye the group couldn't see. Might as well have some fun with this otherwise pretty-serious relationship discussion, as long as they had an audience. Robin cocked an eyebrow, getting the message.
"Oh, well, good. Because, you know, I've been thinking the past few weeks that maybe marriage wouldn't be that bad." She smiled at Barney, sneaking a quick peek at their friends who sat staring in rapt attention.
"Oh, really?" Barney asked smiling, and taking her hand. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a tiny black box. Robin's face dropped in shock and her eyes widened. Lily audibly gasped, Ted said "What?" loud enough for the whole bar to hear, and Marshall yelled at Wendy "Wendy! Popcorn! Now!"
Barney smiled at their reactions, but kept his eyes focused on Robin. He slowly slid out of the booth and got down on one knee. "Wait – what!? I thought we were just joking!" She said, panicking. Barney smiled and opened the box, revealing a huge, gorgeous diamond ring. "Oh, shit," said Lily, Marshall, Ted, and Robin in total unison.
"Robin Scherbatsky," Barney started, looking up at Robin, smiling, "Will you…" He paused as he saw her panic subsiding and looked at him, tears starting to form in her eyes. "Marry me?" She cocked an eyebrow and wiped away the tears before they could form. "Are you serious, Barney? I mean, really?"
Barney smiled, "Yup." The entire bar at this point was silent and staring at the table. Robin broke into a wide smile and leaned forward and whispered something in his ear. Barney's eyes flickered for a moment and he began laughing. "If that's how you want to play it, Scherbatsky," he said, flipping the box closed, slipping it back into his jacket, and resuming his place in the booth.
After a moment of stunned silence as the entire bar watched, they both took a sip of their drinks and turned to look at their friends, acting as though nothing had even happened. "So, Ted, how's the new project coming along?" Robin asked, leaning forward to grab a handful of pretzels.
Ted just stared at her in response as Lily burst out, unable to hold it in any longer. "What'd she say?!? What'd she say!!!" Barney shrugged. "Meh," he responded, waving her off. "I thought you were weirded out with all this romantic stuff, anyway." He said pointedly. Lily and Marshall groaned in frustration as the rest of the bar, disappointed with the lack of closure, went back to their conversations.
* * * * * *
Later that night, Barney was starting to fall asleep when Robin woke him with a question. "Are you really going to ask me again?" She asked him, her arms tightening around his, wrapped around her waist. Barney yawned, struggling to stay awake. "Well, you told me to ask you again later. So… Yeah." She smiled. "What would you have done if I had said yes?" He smiled, "I probably would have put the ring on your finger," he said smartly back. She smacked him lightly. "You know what I mean." His expression softened. "Well, after that, I probably would have kissed you," he whispered softly into her ear. She turned to face him, a smile on her face. "Yeah?" He nodded. "Show me how that would have gone, exactly…"
For the next few years, a lot changed within the group but the important parts remained the same. They still met for drinks at MacLaren's – albeit less often once Lily finally caught the same baby fever Marshall had had for years and gave birth to their son and a few years later a daughter; Ted finally found "the one" and got married to her within 3 months of dating her; and Barney proposed to Robin about once a month – which Robin answered each time by whispering something in his ear. After a few years, the marriage proposals gradually slowed in frequency and eventually ceased altogether. The gang didn't even pick up on this fact until one day Lily noticed, while Robin was changing Lily's daughter's diapers, a giant rock on the news anchor's ring finger. She accusingly bought it up later that night when the gang all reunited for dinner and Robin just shrugged it off.
Barney, however, could not remain silent. "Of course we got married, Lil, what did you expect?" He said casually, passing the salad down the table to Ted's wife. Lily shrugged, surprised at how calmly they were both handling the situation. Barney groaned. "Oh, God, do I really have to explain this to you?" Marshall chimed in, "I really think you were probably going to do that anyway."
Robin cocked her eyebrow in agreement, smiling as she saw her husband mentally prepare his speech of explanation. "Ted, Marshall… My goal in life, when you were single," "I was never single," Marshall interrupted. "When you were single," Barney resumed, ignoring him, "Was to prove to you just how lame you were at all times." Ted nodded in agreement. He was familiar with this goal. "But now that you're both married," Barney continued, "I figured it was my civic duty to prove to you how lame you were in marriage," he paused to wink at Robin, "By providing for you an example of how awesome a married couple can actually be." Robin smiled back, "Just call us Mr. and Mrs. Awesome."