This is my first story for How I Met Your Mother, I've only started watching recently at the end of series four and desperately trying to catch up on boxsets now :) But the first thing I noticed about the whole show was the quite simply amazing chemistry between Robin and Barney, gutted when they broke up, and so this is my dealing with that. Not sure entirely where I'm going with this yet but thought I'd give it a try, any reviews letting me know what you thought would be very very much appreciated. This is set a few weeks after The Rough Patch, ignoring whatever else happened in the show after that. Hope you enjoy, please review!

Chapter One - Magic Number

Kids, as the cautionary tale of Aunt Robin and myself demonstrates, dating one of your closest friends can be a struggle. But, as she and your Uncle Barney demonstrated, what's even more of a struggle is breaking up with them. See, they'd convinced themselves that it was a mutual, friendly split, that they could be mature about the whole situation...

"Are we breaking up?"

"I think so." Barney sighed, his expression full of regret, "Ah crap, here comes the next part. The part where you and I can't go back to being friends."

"Well, maybe this isn't a breakup." She reasoned, almost trying to convince herself as well as him, "Maybe this is... Two friends, getting back together."

...But as it turned out, Barney had been right the first time. Now kids, everyone has different ways of dealing with a breakup, be it Uncle Marshall's sixty plus days in his sweatpants, your Aunt Lily fleeing to San Fransisco, or that one crazy time your mother and I split for a couple days, when- You know what, I'll get to that part later. Back to Barney and Robin...

Six Weeks Later

"Have you finished this page yet, Marshmallow?" Lily asked innocently, her finger holding down the page of the book between them.

"Not yet baby, just give me a second. I'm on the third to last paragraph now..."

"Seriously, you guys." Ted sighed from the couch, raising his eyebrows, "I can just about understand you wanting to read the same book at the same time, but would it be that much of a stretch to buy two copies?"

Lily looked puzzled, "But then we might not get to the same sections at the same time, and we'd end up telling each other-"

"And she's got it in the bag!" Robin swept into she and Ted's apartment, cutting Lily off mid sentence with a triumphant grin on her face, "No autographs today folks, my hand is quite sore enough - and I am not telling you why - but any gifts and cash rewards would be much appreciated."

"What are you talking about, sweetie?" Lily asked mildly, "And... Why have you got your shirt on inside out?"

Robin glanced down, "Damnit! So that guy on the subway wasn't checking out my boobs. I did wonder why he was laughing..." She dropped down on the couch next to Ted, who rolled his eyes, "I just snuck out of some guy's apartment while he was in the shower."

"Another one?"

"Robin, how many-"

"Fifteen. In one month." She grinned, "I know, right? I'm winning this one hands down."

"This... what?" Ted asked, as Marshall finally looked up from his and Lily's book, proudly announcing "Done!" Before a confused expression took over, "Wait, what's happening?"

"Robin's just come from some guy's apartment." Lily told him in hushed tones, as he raised his eyebrows.

"Another one? Dude, that's gotta be fifteen this month."

"Um... Thanks for paying that much attention, I guess." Robin furrowed her brow slightly aong with Ted and Lily before continuing, "Anyway, I was just saying I've definitely won this one."

"This what?"

"The breakup! There's no way Barney can top me here, I mean I'm on fifteen now. How many times has he hooked up now, four? Five at the most?"

Lily bit her lip as Ted raised his eyebrows at her, knowing exactly what he was trying to say.

Lil, what do we do? Do we tell her?

Ooh, I don't know, this is big. Baby, what do you think?

We have to tell her, you guys.

But Marshmallow, this whole thing's clearly affected Robin more than we thought! If she finds out, this could make her worse.

Or make her see the error of her ways. Guys, I dated this girl for a year, I know how her mind works. If we keep this from her, she'll flip when she finds out.

As Robin spoke, she could instantly tell that something was up. She may have been part of the group for the least amount of time, but she wasn't stupid enough to miss a three way telepathic conversation such as the one currently taking place between Lily, Ted and Marshall. She'd always found it kind of strange when they did that, until the first time it had happened between she and Barney.

It had been four years ago, around a month since she'd started hanging out with them, and she'd casually glanced over the table only to find, to her surprise, that she knew exactly what he was thinking by just the slightest changes in his expression. They'd always had it, this crazy connection, as much as they'd both tried to ignore it. Just as right now, Robin was trying to ignore quite how much she missed it.

"Um, guys? I said what's his magic number these days, five? Six?"

"Actually, um... One."

"One?" Robin spluttered, "No need to exaggerate for the sake of my feelings here, guys. Come on, this is Barney! Besides, I know you're lying, I've seen him at least four times with girls since we broke up."

"Yeah, but Robin-" Ted tried, before sighing as his friend, now well into the nervous, babbling, ignoring-any-other-input stage that was so Robin, cut him off.

"In fact, it was just this morning that I saw him with a girl," She reasoned, forcing herself not to admit that that had been the main reason she'd gone out and jumped the next guy she met, "They were walking across the street from me, and she had the new Marc Jacobs handbag, you know that oversized brown one with the bow? Which I've been looking for for weeks, so of course I was super jealous-"

"Yeah, Robin." Lily scoffed, "I'm sure it was the bag hanging off her arm that got you jealous, and not the fact that she had Barney Stinson hanging off the other-"

"And in fact," Robin was breathing heavily now, determinedly blanking her friends' input, "I saw him with another girl who had that bag about two and a half weeks ago, coming out of MacLaren's. I swear Barney must be getting gayer, if he's now selecting his hookups based on their choice of purse-"

"ROBIN!" It was only the conjoined, frustrated voices of Marshall, Lily and Ted that could finally silence her.

"For god's sake sweetie, you need to listen to us!" Cried an exasperated Lily, "It's all the same girl! We've been trying to tell you, Barney brought her to MacLaren's for the first time three weeks ago and they'd already been seeing each other about a week by then... You would have known about this, Robin, they come to the bar all the time but you're never there any more, you're more likely to be out in some club picking up a guy."

"So..." Robin bit her lip slightly, her eyes moving as she tried to digest what she'd just heard. Finally, she looked up at her friends, "So this girl uses the same handbag every day? God, what a-"

There was a collective sigh from Ted, Marshall and Lily as they simultaneously dropped into the seat nearest to them, hands to their heads.

"Seriously?" Ted managed, "We're sitting here telling you that Barney's been seeing the same girl for a month and that's what you picked up on?"

But it seemed they had finally managed to stun Robin into silence as she sank back into the sofa, her expression one of confusion and forlorn as she forced out, "I, um... Is she...?"

"Her name's Mary Jane." Lily provided, and was met with an "ugh" of disgust. Robin layed her head on Ted's shoulder, who wrapped an arm around her, "She's twenty eight, English, moved to New York a year ago, red hair..."

"Ugh! She sounds disgustingly lovely." Robin declared, "So what's she like?"

"Oh, a total bitch." Came the response from the other three, once again in unison and just a little too quickly to seem natural.

"Come on, you guys," Robin managed a small smile, "You don't have to do that."

"Oh, sweetie, I wanna tell you she's the spawn of Satan, I really do." Lily gushed woefully, "But she's just... Normal. And nice. Which sucks."

"It really does," Marshall agreed, but she shook her head.

"No, guys, come on." Robin detached herself from Ted and sat up, "Let's look at this objectively. What you're telling me is that Barney has dealt with this breakup in a mature way and not rushed into a hundred other girls' pants?"


"And he's met someone who he's been seeing for almost a month, who he genuinely likes, who everyone gets on with and who he could be considering something long term with?"


"And he seems calm, and happy, and doing well with pretty much every aspect of his life...?

"Yeah." Marshall told her a little guiltily.

"Ah, crap." Robin sighed, bringing a hand to her chin as her expression became one of deep thought and her eyes took on a scheming look.

"I have to put a stop to this."