Before it's too late

Summary: Barney and Robin's relationship ends
Disclaimer: I do not own HMYM or these characters
A/N: Just shy of 500 words. Dang it! Inspired by Chris Isaak's song "You don't cry" (at least that's what I think it's called).

Robin was fine after it was over. It had barely begun anyways. They slept together a few times and then things started to get weird. Lily wouldn't stop looking at them, and she swore Marshall giggled a few times at their expense.

Barney didn't seem to mind too much though. He was always smiling... He smiled a lot back then...

But he was fine.

He even said so.

It was a clean break up - he might not have given her much eye contact the next day but it had to be done.

He held her hand once... It was just an ordinary day. The whole gang was sitting down in their usual booth at McLarens. Barney next to Robin, Lily next to Marshall and Ted in the stool. There were talking and laughing and just being silly.

"I just think your entire class sounds generally messed up, Ted," Marshall had said.

"Generally Messed Up." Both Barney and Robin had said at the same time with a salute. They were so surprised they started giggling while Lily, Marshall and Ted all grunted in annoyance.

"Wow, I never realized how annoying that sounds," Ted said.

And then the conversation was moved back to some idiot student.

Barney's hand had slowly climbed onto of hers in their booth. No one saw it, he barely made acknowledgement of it except for a quick glance and a loving smile. Robin's chest filled and she really hoped no one would notice her blush.

It was silly. It was just a stupid silly gesture. But – and maybe it was the way he did it, or how he his thumb massaged her hand – that was when she knew.

And because of that, she knew she couldn't. She knew it would end badly. They all do. Even with Ted. She was lucky with Ted. She had Lily and Barney to keep her in, to be there. But this...

If – when she and Barney broke up... it would hurt. It would hurt her, it would hurt the group and it would hurt Barney. Barney who almost died trying to get to Ted. Barney who saved Lily and Marshall and their relationship when Ted was telling Marshall to call Lily a bitch. Barney who was always being teased and left out but was essential a kid inside. Barney who gave up bimboes in a heartbeat and never looked back. Barney who held her tenderly every night they spent together. Barney who cuddled up to her when they watched some stupid movie or a TV show late at night and kissed her forehead when she got tired.

Barney who was gonna get hurt.

She couldn't do that.

But... maybe... maybe if she ended it now... maybe it wouldn't hurt as much? Maybe they could still be friends and it wouldn't be so bad and Lily and Ted and Marshall wouldn't have to pick sides or anything and maybe...

It would be easier this way.