This is how it happens: it is Saturday morning, and Ted is eating waffles with strawberries and maple syrup, his laptop on the table next to him. Barney and Robin are both sleeping on the floor right outside of Robin's doorway. Every so often, one of them lets out a slight snore. Ted is clicking through friend requests on Facebook, leaving all the ones from his students in internet limbo (at least until the end of the semester).
It's the most recent one that he somehow skipped before, the one that he can't imagine he didn't notice, but it's Victoria's name and definitely Victoria's picture, and as he clicks through her profile he sees that her network's been changed back to New York, and finally, Ted sees a picture of Victoria somewhere in Germany with windblown hair, clutching a yellow umbrella.
And okay, he tells himself, it isn't the same umbrella, it probably isn't the same umbrella, but it doesn't matter because by the time that Ted is done talking to himself, he's already clicked the 'accept' button.
Somewhere in front of him, Barney turns over and mumbles.
It only takes him about thirty more seconds to find out that her relationship status is listed as single. Four minutes after that, he's sent her a text message inquiring about German cupcakes.
It only takes her two and a half minutes to respond.