An upper tier restaurant in New York City is never empty, and this one was no exception. A small strings ensemble was playing on the side of the room in front of an empty dance floor, playing trite classical arrangements. The atmosphere was subdued, like the lighting. The musicians looked bored out of their skulls, but in New York, as a musician, it was nice to have a paying position that was not in a subway station. The music helped drown out the hum of a room full of people gently talking to their dinner partners, occasionally interrupted by a peal of laughter or yelling.
Barney Stinson, however, had no one to talk to. He had had a meeting with a client at a bar close by, but as soon as he had closed the deal, he just wanted a drink.
A really good drink.
It was one of those weeksone of those years, actually. Things were still heading in the direction of increasing awesomeness, but there were some things (he could not bring himself to say Robin-things) that just did not equal the rest of his package of awesome (mental high five!).
And that is why he was sitting in a restaurant by himself. This restaurant was one of the few places around town where he could get a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label 200th Anniversary. At $350 a glass, it did not come cheap. But like anything in his life, he had to do it to the extreme. And in his pocket sat a Montecristo B. Only handed out at very select times of the year, this Cuban cigar made his mouth water. However, with New York City smoking laws as strict as they are, he had to wait for that pleasure.
His drink in hand, he swirled it, inhaling the aged premium whisky. Gods, that was a good drink. Each sip (probably worth $12) was a little bit of alcohol heaven. He relaxed into the drink, drowning out the background noise of the restaurant. Barney closed his eyes and sat in his awesomeness.
A female voice broke through his internal meditation. "Are you alone?" Barney opened his eyes to see a brunette with wavy long hair in a high-waisted black skirt and a blue silk blouse. She was tall and elegantjust what he needed.
A boyish smirk appeared on his face, making him look dashing and adorable at the same time. (He knew it did. He had practiced in the mirror.) He knew that she probably could not see his face too clearly, with the lights being dim enough to barely read a menu in, but in the off chance that she could, the smirk was worth it.
"Why, yes, I am. Would you like to have a seat?" He gestured to the seat across from him. In the dimly lit restaurant, he could not see the facial features of the women across from him, but at the moment, he did not really care.
"Thanks," she said, sitting down. Barney noticed that her top button was undone, revealing a hint of cleavage. Sometimes he liked it when the women were not quite so bimbo-ish, but a little classier. "I'm just sitting here to protect you from the hussies that can patrol a place like this," the woman said, surprising Barney by her boldness. That line sounded like something he would try.
"Do lines like that work?" Barney asked teasingly. She giggled. It was not a girly giggle, but a woman's giggle. The one that said, I may be straight-laced on the outside, but take me to bed, I can be quite a handful. (Or two. Boob high-five!)
"Well, I was waiting for my dinner companion, but she just texted me that she couldn't come. So I'm here alone. I was looking around, and you were the only other person alone that wasn't 50 years older than me. You seemed to be enjoying your drink, so I was wondering if I could join you for one."
"I'd be delighted. What would you have? It's on me, such a beautiful woman like yourself."
"What are you drinking?"
"Is it that good?"
"Only the best."
"I'll have the same then." Barney raised his glass, indicating to a waiter to bring another. A tuxedoed waiter brought over a glass and set in down in front of his table companion.
"Any other wishes?" asked the waiter formally. Barney's new companion shook her head.
"No, that will be it for the moment." The waiter bowed gently and took his leave. The woman took a sip of her drink, pausing, moving the liquid around in her mouth.
"I really enjoy a good scotch. I'll usually drink Black Label, but this one… It's oaky, yes, but there's other flavors." She took another sip, nodding her approval. "It's very good. Thank you."
"As I said, only the best." Barney smoothed his Armani suit and adjusted his Gucci tie. Tonight was not a seduction of trickery and crassness, but rather a silky, controlled display of his (for the moment) subdued awesomeness.
The two sat in comfortable silence, sipping their drinks. Soon after Barney finished his drink, the music suddenly stopped. Another ensemble was coming in to replace the bored musicians. The woman in front of him spun to face them. "Oh," she cooed. "I forgot they were playing tonight," she said breathlessly.
Anything the caused a reaction like that was worth investigation. "Who are they?"
She turned to face him again. "Only the best tango ensemble in the city." The opening strains of an Argentine tango began drifting through the room. All the conversations suddenly hushed as people listened appreciatively to the accordion and violin playing. The piano then joined in.
Barney saw his chance for the evening in front of him. "Would you like to dance?" he asked, standing up in front of her.
"But I can't tango!" she said, disappointment evident in her voice. "I really wish I could though," she continued wistfully, looking at the ensemble near the dance floor.
Barney took her glass out of her hand and placed it on the table. He took her now free hand and pulled her up gently. "Then I'll just have to teach you." Without looking back at her, he led her to the dance floor, which was still empty.
He stood at the edge of the smooth wood floor and pulled her in tightly. She was slightly shorter than him in her heels. He placed his right hand on her waist as she placed her left hand on his shoulder. Their other hands clasped together. The ensemble, seeing that they had a proper dance in front of them, began playing in earnest.
She whispered into his ear, almost moaning, "It's La Cumparsita." Her nearly sexual response to the music made Barney almost want to ravish her there on the floor.
Instead, he took his first step, indicating with a light pressure on her back where he wanted her to go. The staccato beat to the music guided his well-practiced steps. She followed him through the initial beats. As the music suddenly swelled, he took a daring side step, leading her across the dance floor.
He then pulled her close again, as the staccato beat returned, intertwining their steps on the dance floor. Their hips swiveled in opposite directions, following the sweeping violin melody. His feet followed the short beats of the accordion. As the piano played a small solo, he pulled her in close and tight, smelling her hair. She smelled like lemons and sandalwood.
With slower, more intimate steps, he gently pushed across the dance floor, stepping into slow turns and swivels. She followed him flawlessly. The song faded into another one, this one more fast paced. Comfortable with her movements, Barney dipped her down. She laughed at his daring maneuver. He pulled her in quickly again. Swivels and quicker steps followed as they danced song after song. A slower tango finally came, leaving them almost clinging onto each other.
Barney's mind left the almost trance-like feeling he had while dancing when he realized how close he was to this woman. He could feel her breathing shallowly, clutching onto him, like he was her lifeline. He was once again revisited with the desire to ravish her right there and then. When the song slowly wound to an end, he pulled her in tighter.
"Would you like to get out of here?" he whispered into her ear. Beyond the point of words, she simply nodded. They went back to grab their belongings, before heading out to grab a taxi. The lamppost outside the restaurant was dead, leaving them standing in darkness as Barney tried to hail a taxi. Finally, one noticed and pulled over.
The two dancers quickly stepped into the car. Barney gave quick directions to the driver. The woman at his side seemed to be completely oblivious to what was going on. She just stared out the window. After a few minutes of silence, she seemed to find her voice again. "Where…where did you learn to dance like that?" she asked, still facing the window.
"I took tango classes a few years ago," he answered. "There's something so raw about the tango, though. It's my favorite. It's like making love on the dance floor." Shit, did he just say that? He hoped that him saying something that forward would not scare her off. Usually, the bimbo would simper, and then try to do him, but this woman seemed a little too classy to simper at a line like that.
"You were fantastic," she stated simply. Usually, he would say something like "of course, it's me," but tonight he just sat back in silence.
The driver pulled up to the front of Barney's apartment building. He quickly paid the taxi driver and got out. A second later, the woman got out of the car. The harsh light above the entrance to the apartment was blinding after having sat so long in the dark, so they both had to block the glaring light with their hands. Grabbing her hand, Barney led her up to the elevator.
Squinting eyes and silence accompanied them up to his apartment. He quickly opened up his front door, letting them in and leaving the bright light out. She closed the door behind them, but bumped into him as he was reaching for the light switch.
"Oh, sorry," she said.
Barney paused, hand hovering over the light switch. "What did you just say?"
"Oh, I just said sorry," she said.
"But did it rhyme with Laurie?"
Barney flipped on the light switch, mental and actual.
"Robin!" he exclaimed.
"Barney?" she answered stunned. "You…how…dancing? Tango?"
Barney looked at her stunned. Amazed that he never managed to get a good look at her face the entire night. She was one of his best friends, and he did not notice it was Robin?
The same train of thought was running through her head, interrupted every once in a while with thoughts like "tango?"
The smooth veneer of Awesome came down onto Barney's face. The smirk also showed up again.
"Well, Robin. Would you like to dance another tango?" He paused dramatically. "A horizontal tango?"
She smacked him on the arm, but a smile grew on her face.