"So… are you here with someone, or just…"

Robin smiled up at the dark-haired stranger beside her at the bar. She found his awkward, uncertain manner – not to mention the fact that he hadn't used a single lame pick-up line – strangely appealing. She started to shake her head, her lips parted to respond – when suddenly, she felt an arm wrap around her shoulders in a surprisingly intimate and casual embrace.

"Yeah, she's here with someone. Get lost, loser."

Robin tried to explain, but the insecure would-be pick-up artist walked away before she could – clearly intimidated and backed down by Barney's false claim on her. Robin turned and glared at him indignantly, rolling her shoulder out from under his arm.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, Stinson?"

"Rescuing you from a tedious, boring night with a desperate loser who wouldn't have lasted ten minutes once you got him in bed. Trust me. I know these things."

Robin's eyes narrowed, and Barney was suddenly inexplicably nervous, his eyes averted self-consciously. Robin's head tilted slightly with curiosity, and a sly smile began to form on her lips.

"Barney… why did you really just do that?"

"I-I-I told you, because you're my… friend… my… bro… and… and I don't want you to… waste your time on some…"

His weak explanation died in his throat as Robin slipped nearer to him, and he felt her hand come to rest low on his hip. He stared down at the point of contact with wide eyes before looking up again, an unspoken question in his gaze.

"Why. Did you do. That."

Robin's tone was dangerously soft, her eyes intently studying his face, and suddenly Barney's mouth was dry, his hands damp and trembling as he fought to keep his tone even and patient, struggling not to betray his own uneasiness.

"I told you, Robin. You deserve… better than a loser like that, so I just thought…"

His words broke off in a stifled yelp as her hand left his hip to abruptly grip his package through the thin fabric of his suit pants. Barney felt the sharp point of fingernails behind his balls as Robin drew her hand slightly forward, and he let out a gasp of alarm, leaning back against the bar behind him, as Robin moved in closer, her body blocking the way she was touching him from anyone else's sight.

"Think about this, Barney." Robin's tone was cool and frighteningly controlled. "The next time you ruin the first chance I've had in two months – two months – to go out with a reasonably attractive, probably perfectly decent guy…"

She gave a vicious little twist of her hand, and Barney's eyes rolled back in his head for a moment as he fairly collapsed against the bar, his hands extended in front of him, not quite daring to touch her, in a wordless plea for mercy. Robin leaned in close to speak directly into his ear, her free hand running lightly through his hair in a gesture utterly at odds with the harsh grasp she had on his most vulnerable parts.

"… it'll be a lot longer than two months before you're able to use these again. Got it, Stinson?"

Barney nodded hurriedly, slumping down against the bar in relief when she finally released him with a bright, satisfied smile.

"Good. See ya."

Barney watched her go through eyes hooded with a combination of pain and lust – and found himself spiraling ever deeper into the bottomless pit that was his hopeless infatuation with Robin Scherbatsky. This just served to prove once more, in another way, how utterly out of his league she really was. A woman like that – a woman who could do that to him, both physically and metaphorically – was a woman he would not be able to forget, no matter how hard he tried.

She could have asked him, softly and meekly, without touching him – and he'd have done as she asked, regardless of the personal cost to himself.

Barney had to face it – Robin Scherbatsky had had him whipped into submission long before she'd ever touched him.