Brunette... eleven o'clock: Hot little body, row of vodka-cranberries lined up in front of her on the bar, air of quiet sadness… check, check and check.

Barney approaches her blind. There's enough scotch swilling around his system to make him a little careless. Besides, it's desperation hour and anything he says will make her laugh. In fact, the more lame the line, the more successful he's likely to be. He grins at Carl, giving him a wink and misses the frown the bartender throws him. Placing a hand on the small of her back he whispers in her ear "Hey… that's a nice skirt. Can I talk you out of it?"

She turns and, damn it! It's Lily. It's Lily and she's sitting there and it's desperation hour and she's radiating loneliness and need and availability. Someone's going to come and get her. Some bad man.

(He's a bad man, but it's Lily and she's Marshall's, even if Marshall doesn't quite see it yet)

He tries to shrug it off. "Busted again!" He mutters, mock-grouchy.

"Seriously? Does that line ever work?" She says. She looks eager - too eager. And she's just so hot. And it's not like he isn't curious. But it's Lily

Part of his brain changes gear from cool to smooth. He calls her out. "For any single woman who's left alone at a bar this late in the evening, pretty much anything works…"

"Let me buy you a drink," she suggests, and he gapes before he's had a chance to check himself. She's so, so vulnerable and she has no idea what kind of game she's playing. He sits down next to her, too quickly. He's still a bit stiff. He allows himself a wince. He knows how Lily likes to mother him and he's not above using that sort of inside info in situations like these.

(Situations like these? Is her really going to do this? But… better him that some other dude, right?)

"How's the hip?" She asks with that wicked smile. She's so hot, too hot. She's like a ten. There's no way he's going to let someone else grab her.

(He could take her home and talk her out of doing this…)

"What, no witty come-back?" She asks. But what about Marshall? Barney thinks. He's almost there, almost at the edge. There will be a point when he can't pull back, when he'll be a steam train, rattling down that hill with no brakes and he can feel his ears popping right now. Her finger's on his lips and if he parts them he'd be able to draw it into his mouth and suck on it.

Something in his eyes scares her off a little because she tries to pull back but it's too late for that… far too late. He takes her wrist and holds it, fondles it, strokes it, knowing just where to touch so that she'll tingle where he wants her to. "Why Lily Aldrin… Would you look at you, showing such friendly concern…" He says. He's doing this for Marshall. He can see her melt.

If not him, then some other dude will do this to her. Someone who doesn't care about her or Marshall.

And she's just so… so…

"I think I might have left a couple of things at your place… Could I come round… sometime…?" She laughs, sweetly. She's got a kind laugh. "If I didn't outstay my welcome?"

He has to make it plain. There can't be any confusion between them. She can't say later… "Oh, I didn't realise. I thought you were just being a friend…" He doesn't want her to hide behind excuses.

So she needs to get laid? He's surprised that she hasn't done this before. Perhaps she has, in San Francisco. But he thinks he'd be able to tell. He can smell it on her.

Desperation hour.

She's smiling and she's asking him a question with her eyes. He answers it.

"There's still the twelve-hour visa…?"


She's dirtier than he thought she'd be. Ten years with the same man and she's a kindergarten teacher and you'd think that under all that she'd be all about the missionary position and cuddling. But she's got her tongue down his throat before he can even loosen his tie and she wraps her legs around his waist, heels digging into his buttocks as they make out on his sofa. She's lean and has bumps in all the right places and what she's doing with her tongue gets him hard in a second.

He lifts her up, carrying her over to the bed and dumping her down on it. She lands clumsily, rolling over on to her belly and he flips her over - she weighs nothing at all - and straddles her. She's beautiful - hair like dark chocolate tumbling over her lightly-tanned skin. He misses the red hair - burning like fire and marking her out as special. But it's easier somehow, doing this with her looking so different.

Perhaps he knew, right back when he flew to San Francisco to rescue her, perhaps he knew even then that it would come to this: her in his bed, naked and wanting him.

She wants him. She's stunning. Her body is incredible. He buries himself in it, kissing her, tasting her. She tastes like strawberries and cream and brown sugar - like sunshine and freedom. He knows what she tastes like, of course, because he woke up with a mouth full of her once.

Perhaps he knew, back then, when he let her stay at his place and make-believe that she was his wife that it would come to this: her in his bed, writhing beneath him, spreading her legs and moaning his name.

He holds her hips in both hands, holds her still and he decides… He's going to show her. He's going to show her what he can do. If he can't give her Marshall, he can at least do his best for her.

He can do at least as much as he did for Professor Lewis. He can do more. It's Lily

So he dives in, smashing through her defences because that's the only way to do it. He pressed hard with his tongue, stroking it over her swollen clit until she yelps in pain. Then he stops and lets the heat roll over her, lets her pull at him, push him back down and he takes it easy the second time, his fingers pressing into her while his tongue goes to work and she's slick, salty and sweet, delicious. He loves doing this. He loves making a woman his, sending her out of her silly little mind. Sometimes he likes to do this for hours, until she's sweat-drenched and exhausted.

But not with Lily. When he feels her shudder, her body contracting and then expanding, her breath going ragged, then slow, he moves up her body. She exhales shakily. She's crying.

It's not the first time he's seen a woman cry after she comes. It won't be the last.

Luckily, he knows what to do. He kisses her tears away, touches his lips briefly to hers, then he grabs a condom from the dresser. Tearing the wrapper with his teeth, he rolls it on, holding his erection briefly and looking down at her. She looks sad. She's at that deep, dark place where women sometimes go, where they never let him follow. But he knows how to bring them back.

So, now she's just a body, she's just a woman and he's just a man and they are no longer Lily and Barney but they are Adam and Eve and they're the first ones ever to do this, the first ones ever to discover that if that bit goes there then it makes good feelings inside. Very good feelings indeed.

He holds her again, cupping her buttocks as he thrusts into her, totally attuned to her, biting his lip to stop himself from feeling too much, too soon. He rocks her, moves her until she cries out and he concentrates hard, pushing deep inside her, there, there, she's moaning now…

He winces slightly… damn that hip… but it's good, it stops him getting carried away, allows him to focus on her

He closes his eyes; it takes every single ounce of self control not to come when she does because she's soft and warm and so tight around him and she bucks her hips like a wild animal against him but he's resolved that he's not going to let her off that easily.

So he lets her relax, just a little, just go limp and he waits for the smile to light up her face and in that instant he pushes back in, deep, hard and fast and wants to laugh at the shock on her face, the confusion. She doesn't think she likes it (they never do) but she quickly realises she does (they always do) and she's yelling at him to "fuck her hard" and he does, of course, because he's a gentleman at heart and a gentleman always obliges-


The world goes fuzzy and whites out and he chokes out her name as he ejaculates. It's not pretty or romantic or any of that crap but it feels fantastic and that's what he's all about.

It feels more than fantastic for her.

When he opens his eyes, she's got that look - the one he was aiming for. All that sadness, that desperation, that loss - it's all gone. It's all gone because he took it away. And Barney knows how quickly it can come back so he holds her close until he's sure she's half-asleep before leaving her in bed because if he gets too comfortable he thinks he might fall in love with her a little bit.

Trouble is, Lily's always got him. She's always seen the glimpses of the secret self he struggles so hard to protect. As he steps under the shower he scowls.

Stupid post-coital emotions.

But hey, at least she won't go looking for a little sumthin' sumthin' for a few days. Perhaps it's enough time for them to get her and Marshall back together.

He closes his eyes and lets the hot water wash over him. He breathes in, deep, and he can still smell her, taste her…

Damn Marshall!

When he gets back into bed, she's fast asleep.