Barney's First Time

Author's Note: This one is a weird one for me. Pretty mature in ways that I don't generally go, but well, I rather like how it turned out. Btw, it's "very" mature, but without being graphic (about a PG13). It's definitely a 180 from anything I've ever written before, and I'm sure some of you who are used to my more sweet (even if angsty) stories might feel like this is from out of nowhere. Believe me, I feel it even more than you do.

Overall, she hit most of Barney's focus points. The ways and means of a woman out on the prowl and a woman just out on the town. The way a woman interacts with her own wingman and how to actually score with said wingman… wingwoman as the ultimate prize.

If he wanted the thrill of the chase or if he just wanted take out. If she had kids, was pushing 35 (and trying to reclaim 25), married, engaged, nuts, crazy nuts, had "issues," on drugs, smokes, or even if simply on her devil's torture chamber. He knew enough, had personally studied enough of women's habits and state of minds to see all of that. But this one was a rarity. She was nervous, still young-ish, tearing up things, ordering a drink, tasting it, and realizing that she was now stuck with an undrinkable drink.

Newly blonde, coifed, this girl was out for an adventure.

Before he could react, he grabbed his scotch as his "in," mumbled an ill-formed excuse, and sidled up next to her.

The others watched him, having long ignored such mutterings, and went back to their conversation on something Seinfeldian and boring in nature.

Barney adjusted himself, hitched up his tie, ordered a new drink for her- something more neutral than her whiskey and soda but one with a hint of male dominance.

She beamed at his attention, failing at flirting, trying too hard to be both coy and innocent. It was almost too easy, not worth the effort, he thought.

Not that he was complaining, but hedonists especially need to be wary of the absolute psychos.

Her makeup was too perfect, too third person. An easy enough occurrence in New York City where stylists were as numerous as taxis, but she had none of the other earmarks for such a lifestyle choice. She was unused to her clothes, but they were definitely not new. At least two seasons old, he figured. She would push up the sleeves, pull on the collar, re-arrange the waist line, roll her feet in uncomfortable shoes; trying to look natural in someone else's clothes and failing.

He moved in closer, allowing his body to relax to its own natural proclivities. He was on cruise control again, allowing years of practice to take over, muscle memory responses of when and where to touch, laugh, look deep into her eyes and not reveal one thing himself.

She tensed a bit, then released herself to him, wrapping her chest under his arm, pulling him closer as they went out into the night. Entering a cab, they rode in silence, she clutching at him, him still unsure of her nature. He watched the cabbie watching them through the mirror.

The twenty-three minutes that seemed so trifling when he first bought his place now crawled out along time and space- not that he hadn't had to tip extra to drivers in the past (girls puking, passing out, sobering up, losing interest, becoming belligerent, etc), but he was slowly growing ambivalent with this one.

He quickly stifled those thoughts, grabbed her wrist as they plowed out, headed up to his place. Barney smelling her hair, her neck as they went up past the doorman, up the elevator, him not having even gotten to second base yet.

Unlocking the door, he finally kissed her, or she him, guiding each other to the bedroom, he helped her with buttons he knew more about than she did; tasted strawberry chapstick with something minty in the background.

He glided her down with magician's ease when she threw out an elbow against the bed, keeping herself from submitting.

He knew it.

Elbows on the bed always revealed sobering second thoughts.

"Wait," she heaved, his mind two seconds ahead of this conversation.

"What's the problem?" he asked, adjusting to a new attack plan- "concerned friend with benefits" mode.

"N-nothing," she sighed. More hesitation. "I'm ready for this."

"Ready?" he echoed. Trying to keep up with her screwball.

She nodded.

And then it hit him.

"You're a virgin."

"No!" "I mean, y-no." She quibbled.

Barney sat up, distancing. "Why are you here?"

She lowered her eyes, "I don't know.

"Whose clothes are these?" He asked, growing wary.

"My sister's."

"Sister?"

"Chelsie."

Barney pursed his lips, trying to think if he knew any Chelsie's.

"She dated you a couple of times. Said you were good. That you would be good."

Barney felt slow. There had been a few in the past. He studied her, saw the nose, the eyebrow line, the sweep of the neckline of Chelsie the Fourth. "You want me," he finally stated, "Some random guy who dated your sister and barely remembers her. To make you not a virgin?"

She leaned in suddenly, her mouth on his.

Despite everything, all of the training and techniques he'd perfected, he pulled back. "No," he quailed. Fountains of flashbacks overloading him. Horrifying him.

"What? Am I not good enough?" She started fumbling with her shirt, unbuttoning, revealing more skin. Her lips moisting.

"What? No, it's. How old are you?"

"Twenty-four."

""24," he lowed. "No. You can't have your first time like this," he spilled out. "It's gotta be, it has to be special."

"But why?"

"Because it's not fair to you."

"It's just sex."

And for the first time ever, simply on moral grounds and principles and everything Marshall stood for, Barney declined. "It's not just sex. Not the first time. You gotta have someone you like or at least know. Someone you can think back on fondly. Not realize ten years later that you can't even remember his name."

"But," she batted her eyelashes, but the illusion was gone. She was a kid despite her age, and he was so not doing that.

"Go home. Get back into your regular clothes, wash off your sister's makeup, and find some boy before your next final to make out with while studying. And, if in six months, you can't find anyone, then come back and see me. Then I'll help you."

She beamed.

"Find someone." He corrected. "Unless it's another girl. Then you can come to my place 'ANY' time with her." A lech has to have some priorities.

She got up again, he banging his head against his headboard.

"By the way," he asked before she could slip away again. "Does Chelsie play sports?"

"Just slowpitch. She used to play fastpitch but didn't like the competition."

Barney grinned, "I'll just bet she didn't."

She left him finally, puzzled, slowly disappearing back into the night.

Barney smashed his head against the board one last time, his skull rattling as he realized that it was too hard, his ears ringing.

He needed another scotch, then realized he needed sobriety. Just for tonight.

Thoughts and feelings whorled around him. She was some random girl. He should have done her, had his way with her. Made any of her future mates pale at his comparison. But he couldn't do that. Couldn't turn her into something else. Couldn't allow himself to turn into that.

Rhonda, he knew, was pathetic on some level. He was very fond of her, but she was dull. Used up. Old even when he was just a little kid.

That wasn't his future. Wouldn't let his future be Indian casinos, debasing teenagers just because. But the alternative? Wives and kids and picking out backsplashes and PTA meetings and HMOs and HOA whores.

There had to be a third way. Ten years of being Barney. Tonight, he wouldn't be.

"Wait," he called from his window. He saw her, at the corner. She looked back up, a bit frightened, then smiled.

He met her halfway again. She on the elevator, he waiting for her.

"Forget everything I said," he stated, kissing her neck, scooping her close. "Tonight, just tonight." He mumbled, leading her back. Back to his room. "This will be special. I promise. Just one thing."

"What?"

"Tonight. Call me Barnabas."