"I'm not that easy," Ted says with a warm smile.

Barney stands there, raising an intrigued eyebrow. "So what do you want?"

And okay, so Ted hasn't exactly thought this one through. He's a great believer in acting on instinct, so when he'd had a kind of epiphany to Gaudi's Sagrada Familia (and where better to have an epiphany), he'd not questioned it, had just hopped in a cab and come right over to GNB.

"I want…" He pauses. What does he want?

Quite honestly, he's kind of sick of all the jokes and the barbs lately. How Marshall and Lily are acting like he and Barney are somehow made for each other (and Don's assumption that he's gay still stings). It annoyed him how Robin was so sure that it would be him who folded first in this battle of wills.

And then it pops into Ted's head, and it's perfect. "I want… you to take me to dinner!" He announces, confidently.

Giving him a strange look, Barney sits back down in his chair. "Rachel," he says. "Can you give us a minute?"

The girl drags herself up from his sofa with a teenage pout and slinks out of the office.

"And that's another thing. So not cool, dude! She's nineteen-" Ted protests, but Barney cuts him off.

"Ted, she's an intern," he says dismissively. "But that's not important right now. What's important is that you know my rule. I don't have dinner until I've had sex three times."

Ted snorts. "Really, and you can't bend that rule under these circumstances?"

"No way," Barney shakes his head.

This takes Ted a little aback. After all, Barney's objective here was surely to get the "yes" so it's almost like Barney's trying to sabotage the deal by putting more difficulties in his way. And he's infuriating! He's just sitting there watching Ted, eager to see how he'll react.

But the challenge is out there, it's on the table, and Ted can't help but remember that Robin expects him to fold. But Ted doesn't even know what folding looks like any more. Would it be to object? Or go along with this? Because... sex? With Barney? There's got to be some kind of strategy he's not seeing.

Ah, what the hell. Ted is sure he'll get it before Barney goes too far so he goes with it. "Okay," he says.

"Okay?" Barney repeats quizzically.

"Okay." Ted nods. "That's the deal. Sex three times, then dinner. Then you get the yes." That's what Barney proposed anyway. Besides, Ted doesn't think he's quite ready to give up this tussle right away. Barney hitting on him has been the most fun he's had in weeks.

"Okay," Barney nods and gets to his feet again, looking shaken. But Ted knows better than to believe this is anything other than another rouse. It's like some weird game of chicken that neither of them know how to back away from.

"Barney, you do realize that you have to have sex with me? I'm a man." Ted just wants to be clear. Just so there's no sticky legal manoeuvring.

"Yup," Barney says. "Oh, right! Do you want to do it right now?" He makes a show of looking around the room and unbuckling his belt. "I mean, we can close the blinds and there is the couch, but I can tell you now that one of the springs really digs-"

"No, not now," Ted says hurriedly. Barney's own laugh sounds distinctly nervous. Exactly how far are they going to take this? "Tonight. My place." There's no way Barney will get far in this deal if he knows Robin's listening. And when Barney backs down that means Ted wins.


"Okay," Barney says, swallowing. "You're worth it."

And god damn it, if Ted doesn't blush.

#~- One -~#

It's like the biggest game of chicken in the world, ever, and neither of them wants to back down. And Ted's a little disconcerted when he and Barney get back to his place that Robin's not there.

"Oh yeah," Barney drawls, "Didn't I tell you? She's out on a date. Would you believe Lily fixed her up with some Karate instructor?"

"So we're alone?" Ted murmurs, but Barney's already heading for his bedroom. "Hey, wait!" He calls out.


Ted can't believe Barney's doing this. This is a crazy thing. Surely he knows that? But Ted also knows Barney. After all, this is a guy who'll do anything for a bet, take things beyond the reasonable limit, beyond the extreme.

"Well," Ted feels a little helpless and it annoys him. "Shouldn't there be a little more build-up?"

"You mean foreplay?" Barney asks with a smirk. "Sure, we'll get down to that in the bedroom. The Barnacle always satisfies."

Okay, now Ted's starting to get a weirded out. Even more weirded out.

"C'mere?" Barney says, beckoning Ted to him. Ted feels his skin across his cheeks tighten and his pulse start to quicken as he moves forward, closing the distance between them in a few steps.

Barney reaches out and takes Ted by his waistband - fingers getting a firm grip on jeans and belt before he pulls him close.

Ted gulps and there's a stillness between them. He believes, he still firmly believes, that Barney's going to laugh in his face. Instead, Barney merely smiles and asks, his voice rough and ragged, "So, when you said sex, did you mean full on penetrative…?"

It's Ted that breaks away then. He hates himself but he takes a step back. His heart is pounding wildly now and his mouth is dry. This is so, so wrong, in so, so many ways.

And yet…

Barney takes a step forward, back into his space. "What's wrong, Theodore? This is what you wanted, wasn't it?"

Ted never does quite understand what happens next. He's pretty sure that Barney's hypnotised him or something, because it's really the only explanation for him kissing Barney.

He kisses Barney, one hand digging into the back of Barney's skull, holding him there. For a moment he's not even aware of anything else, because what strikes him is how lively Barney's lips are against his, how eagerly Barney opens his mouth and allows him to snake out his tongue.

It takes Ted a moment to feel the unfamiliar rasp of stubble on his cheek and come to his senses.

But in between the first crash of mouth-on-mouth and that realization, they've somehow made it to the bedroom, to the bed, and Barney's stretched out, spread out beneath him. There's one moment, maybe, when he feels Barney struggle, when he has to hold him firmly in place and silence his protests with more harsh kisses. But the longer it goes on, the better it feels.

Later, he'll say Barney put the mojo on him.

Right now, he grabs Barney's wrists and pins them to the pillow, one each side of his head. Right now, Barney's lips are a furnace and Ted takes his time exploring and teasing and plundering his mouth. That mouth, so mobile, so full of words and rules and challenges. This might be the last time Ted gets to have the upper hand against Barney Stinson's mouth.

Or maybe it'll be the first of three.

Eventually, almost as an afterthought, Ted become aware of how uncomfortably restrictive his pants are, and that there's something solid digging into his thigh. So he shifts his hips and it sends an electric current through him. He's not sure who moans - it could be Barney, it could be him, but suddenly their make out session becomes tangled and messy and he can feel Barney's hands everywhere and his own hands are everywhere. Pieces of clothing are unbuttoned and unzippered and discarded until there's just flat planes of muscle and sharp elbows and knees and nothing seems to fit quite right while at the same time working more perfectly than ever before.

Barney gasps, and Ted echoes the light exhalation with a low, needy moan. Blinking furiously, he feels fingers snake around his erection, and his own fist finds Barney's, his palm slapping against the warm, velvet-hard flesh.

Their first time is fast and furious and they make each other come way too quickly, unevenly, like it's a race. Barney sets a demanding pace but Ted doesn't back down, not even for a moment, grunting as the pleasure peaks.

Then they are left in semi darkness, limbs tangled, splayed, tingling. Ted feels sticky, dirty, and when he feels Barney's tongue trace his jawline, and maybe a little used. He can't believe he actually went through with this.

"So…" Barney whispers. "Do we have to do all three in one night, or…?"

Ted nudges him in the ribs.