#~- Two -~#

It's later - maybe minutes, maybe an hour.

"So… are you gonna sneak out?" Ted whispers. All he can see of Barney is his silhouette - a shadow against deeper shadow, so he reaches over and switches on the nightlight.

"Huh?" Barney blinks confusedly. His hair is all mussed and Ted finds that he likes that. He likes that he can surprise even such a jaded soul as Barney Stinson.

"Well, that's your M.O., isn't it?" Ted explains. "Sneak out after sex?"

Barney snorts. "You call that sex? I call that jacking each other off. If you think that's sex then I pity you."

"We both came," Ted insists. "It counts."

Barney turns onto his back. "I need a beer," he grumbles, and it makes Ted smile for some reason that he doesn't quite understand. He'd never have pegged Barney as a guy who gets so grouchy after, well, whatever this is.

Ted still maintains that it definitely counts as sex. "I'll get you a beer," he says with a long-suffering sigh and disengages from Barney's tangled embrace. It's only long habit that causes him to pause and pull on a pair of shorts before making his way out of the bedroom, but two seconds later he's so glad he did.

Robin's standing in the middle of the living room.

They stare at each other for a few seconds before Robin has the good sense to look embarrassed. "Why Teddy-boy, have you got a girl in your room."

Stuttering a protest, Ted hurries over to the kitchen. "I thought you were on a date," he says angrily. He'd have totally hung the Mr Wang's takeaway menu on the doorknob otherwise.

No, scratch that, he wouldn't have done any of this at all otherwise. Barney lied to him! God damn it! Barney wanted this, all of it. He was never going to back down.

This makes Ted feel more than a little confused. He should be angry, but he's not. All he can think about is getting back into his bedroom and kicking off round two, wherever that takes them.

"You want me to give you some space for a few hours?" Robin offers, grabbing her coat.

"Well I certainly don't want you listening," Ted mutters under his breath, opening the fridge and grabbing a couple of beers. "Yeah, that would be great, thank you!" He calls out, more loudly.

Robin rolls her eyes, giving Ted a reproachful look like he could have at least texted her, and grabs her coat. "Tell me at least that she's hot?"

Ted pauses outside the bedroom door and huffs out a breath. "A little skanky. Amazing body."

Robin gives him a high five, tosses him a wink and, mercifully, leaves.

*-*-*

When Ted gets back into the bedroom, Barney's lying on his front playing with the tiny toy airplane. "You kept it," he says, grinning over his shoulder and taking a beer from Ted's outstretched hand. Then he weaves the plane up and around and down, skimming the pillow and making a rumbling engine noise in the back of his throat.

"You are so odd," Ted says, sitting down heavily on the side of the bed.

"You said I've got an amazing body!" Barney counters, visibly preening.

Ted snatches the toy plane out of Barney's fingers. "How did you know about this? It's the exact one I had when I was ten years old…"

"Oh Ted, do you really have to ask?"

Ted shakes his head as Barney makes a grab for the plane, catching his hand instead, but then Barney retaliates by brushing his thumb lightly across the inside of Ted's wrist.

"So…?" Barney wriggles his eyebrows. "You gonna let me bang ya, or what?"

Rolling over on to his side, Ted pulls off his boxers. There's something in the way that Barney just lies there sipping his beer, completely naked, utterly unashamed, that irritates the hell out of him. "What if I wanted to bang you?" Ted asks.

Barney seems to consider this. "Okay. You got any lube?" Ted shakes his head and Barney looks outraged, pulling himself up on one elbow. "Theodore, are you a virgin?"

Rather than answer, Ted simply grins, snatches the bottle out of Barney's hand and pushes him back onto the bed, moving down over his body so that his face is very close to Barney's warm skin. He traverses that landscape, the planes and dips and bony outcrops, and wonders incredulously if Barney got even an ounce of body fat on him. He gives Barney's stomach an experimental lick. "I know something else we can do," he suggests. "And it definitely counts as sex."

"Not according to our 42nd president, Mr Bill Clinton, it doesn't!"

In order to shut him up (Ted tells himself later), Ted licks a swathe across the column of Barney's dick, feeling it swell and jerk as he does so. It works, because with a gulp Barney's next words die on his lips and there's a blessed silence for the next half hour.

Silence, that is, punctuated with a little grunting.

#~- Three -~#

Ted is rudely awoken by the sound of the door to his apartment slamming. This is at about a half past one in the morning so presumably it's Robin going to work, but Ted didn't even hear her come back in.

Barney's sleeping peacefully beside him. Ted can hear his steady, even breaths; feel the rise and fall of his chest brush against his arm. They've gotten all tangled together again, with Barney's leg hooked around one of his own, and Barney's head resting on his shoulder.

Very carefully, Ted manages to slip free and gets out of bed.

Later, he'll never be able to explain exactly what he does next.

He crosses the living room to Robin's bedroom, padding almost silently on bare feet. Flipping on the light, he creeps into her room, pulling out her bedside drawer and searching it.

Eureka! He just knew Robin would have what he's looking for.

Making his way back to the bedroom, Ted turns on the light and crawls back into bed. When Barney tries his limpet act once more, Ted pushes him forcefully away, waking him. "Good news!" Ted whispers, comically loudly. "I found some lube."

"Lube?" Barney blinks and rubs his eyes.

"Lube!" Ted repeats, waving the tube and the foil-square of a condom in front of Barney's eyes.

"Scherbatsky had some?" Barney asks knowingly, his lips quirking into a smirk. "Nice!"

"You know it," Ted grins. "So, you wanna do it? Then you'll be free and clear to buy me dinner."

Barney laughs. "Theodore, I never had you down as an aggressive top. Did some hipster boy pop your cherry in college?" His arm snakes across the mattress so he can run a finger down from Ted's navel to his rapidly hardening cock. That's a surprise. Mainly the lube thing was supposed to be a fake-out - an attempt yet again to call Barney's bluff. But it seemed like Ted's body just isn't ready to quit yet.

"So, are you overcompensating, or is this just you're just intimidated by the awesomeness of my penis?" Barney asks. "That why you're so keen to grab a piece of my ass?"

"Barney," Ted says with exasperation. "You ever heard the expression 'quit while you're ahead?'"? He rips the foil with his teeth and rolls on the condom.

"I got head already!" Barney replies, but there's a tiny flicker of something in his blue eyes - something like fear.

"I won't hurt you," Ted says more gently. "I do know what I'm doing!"

"I knew it!" Barney crows triumphantly, "You've got College Bi-curious written all over you-" but the rest of his words are muffled by the pillow as Ted rolls him on to his belly and plants a trail of kisses across his shoulders.

"Shut up," Ted tells him, his teeth grazing the nape of Barney's neck, feeling the rush of power as he presses one knee into Barney's thigh, pushing his legs apart.

#~- The yes -~#

Ted leans forward across the table, lifts his tumbler of scotch, and grins at he man sitting across from him.

He says one simple word. "Yes."

Barney smiles with satisfaction and nods, clinking his own glass against Ted's, but doesn't drink from it. If anyone else in the restaurant notices that Barney is sitting a little awkwardly, that he suppresses a grimace every time he shifts in his seat, then they don't make any sign of it.

Ted knows that he gave Barney more than just a yes. He gave him something Barney's probably been wanting from him since that first moment they met in the bathroom stall at MacLaren's, nine years ago. Something that Ted didn't even know was unfinished between them seems now to be settled.

Swallowing a mouthful of warm, peaty scotch, Ted comments, "So you do realize that since you've bought me dinner you're admitting that all three times counted."

Barney snorts. "Uh, no. I bought you dinner because you're my bro, nay, my brother. It's fine to have dinner with family."

"So we didn't have to-" Ted laughs, outraged.

Barney looks down at his drink and swirls the liquid around the bottom of the glass. He smiles enigmatically. "Don't be like that. You had a good time."

"So did you."

And Ted thinks that working at GNB just might be fun. He doesn't know exactly what's going to happen, but that's the great thing about Barney Stinson. You never do. You just hold on tight and enjoy the ride.