Warning: Slash. Ridiculousness. Manly weeping. Basically this was written in a giggly caffeine rush at two a.m. while my handlers were sleeping.

Thanks to asherxslasher and lexi_samgirl for ego-stroking and petting of the neurotic author-beast.

Best Friends Forever

"Shut up, Marshall. Ted's my best friend! Tell him, Ted," Barney said, turning to the man sitting next to him in the booth.

"Yeah, sure," Ted said, not even looking up from his texting. Marshall snickered into his drink.

"Ted, I'm serious. Tell Marshall I'm your best friend," Barney said, growing increasingly frustrated and petulant.

"Uh-huh. Whatever you say, Barney," Ted said, disinterested.

"Ted, you're not taking this seriously," Barney whined. Marshall snickered again. "Oh shut up, Marshall. You already have a best friend. Now you're just being greedy."

"Just because Lily's my best friend doesn't mean I can't be Ted's best friend," Marshall said.

"That doesn't even make sense," Barney scowled.

"Look. Marriage means that Lily and I are best friends forever. Ted liking me more means I'm his best friend. That's just the way it works, bucko," Marshall said.

"Oh! You! Ted! GAaaah!" Barney said, incensed to the point that he lost the ability to form complete sentences. He glared at Marshall's stupid smug face, then got up and flounced over to the bar. Clearly he needed more alcohol in order to win this argument. He got another drink for Ted, because Ted was his best friend, not Marshall's. Also because Ted tended to like him more when they were both drunk.

He returned to the table to find Marshall nowhere in sight.

"Where'd he go?" he asked, putting Ted's drink in front of him and sliding into the seat next to him.

"Oh, Lily called. They have a couple's thing," Ted said.

"Ted, that seems like very shoddy behavior from a self-declared Best Friend," Barney pointed out.

"No, it's cool. I understand. I mean, they're married. And I know you don't really understand marriage, but that basically means that for Marshall, Lily takes precedence over everyone else," Ted said, taking a sip of his drink. Barney nodded sagely, pretending to understand. Then he stopped and thought about it.

"So, wait. Marriage means you're Best Friends Forever. Best Friends Forever trumps Best Friends," Barney said.

"I guess you could put it that way, yeah," Ted said, taking another drink.

"Interesting," Barney said, watching Ted like a hawk. He noticed that Ted was almost done with his beer. "Hey Ted, wanna do shots?"

"Um, no, not reall-" Ted started.

"Great! I'll go get us some," Barney said, slapping Ted on the shoulder and moving over to the bar.

Ted watched him go, and couldn't help but think that this sounded like the start of a very bad idea. Barney turned and grinned at him, his face lighting up with mischief and fun. Ted smiled back and mentally shrugged. What the hell. It's not like he had anything better to do tonight, anyway. The search for Mrs. Right had hit a rough patch, and he could use some mindless fun at the hands of one Barney Stinson.

What's the harm, right?

Ted woke up with a splitting, pounding, grinding headache. It felt like a raccoon had curled up inside his face and died. An,d ugh, his mouth tasted like an Ewok's ass.

He cracked an eye open and noted gratefully that he was at least in his own bedroom. He quickly closed his eye, the light serving to compound his epic hangover. Dear god, what did he do last night? He thought for a moment. Barney. Barney had definitely been there.

Ted groaned and shoved himself up from his bed. He had to take care of the taste in his mouth and drink about a gallon of water. And some tylenol and coffee, too. Definitely that.

He stumbled out to the living room and started for the bathroom, but paused when he noticed a body on the couch.

"Marshall?" he asked, squinting.

"Huh-wha?" said the body. It yawned and sat up, proving to indeed be Marshall. "Oh. Yeah. Must have fallen asleep while I was studyi-AAAAH! Barney! Put some clothes on!" Marshall shouted, covering his eyes. Ted turned around to find a very naked Barney exiting his bedroom.

"No can do, buckaroo. I've been told the proper protocol for honeymoons is to remain in one's birthday suit," Barney said, straightening an invisible tie and grinning.

"Huh?" said Ted.

"What?" said Marshall.

"Also, Marshall? I give you permission to be Ted's best friend," Barney said, "Just as long as you remember that I am now Ted's Best Friend, Forever."

"Huh?" said Marshall and Ted. Barney flashed a silver band on his ring finger, then walked over to Ted and brandished his gold one at Marshall.

"Yeah, that's right, Marshall, suck it. Best Friend Forever trumps Best Friend!" Barney said, and turned to Ted. "Marriage high five, Ted!"

"Uh..." Ted said, weakly patting Barney's palm with his own (one does not leave a Bro hanging, after all). He squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them. Yes, Barney was still naked. There was still a ring on his finger, and one on Barney's. And yes, his headache was getting worse, thank you.

"Just... to be clear... we're married?" Ted asked.

"Ted, of course we are, silly," Barney said, grinning. "Don't you remember?"

"Um, no, not really," Ted said.

"It was a lovely ceremony. Me in my suit, and you in your feather boa," Barney said.

"Feather boa?" Ted asked.

"Don't worry about it," Barney said. "Anyway, what's important now is the fact that you're not naked. Come on, Ted. Birthday suit up! If you're all the sex I'm going to get for the next fifty years, then we'd better get started."

"Uh..." Ted said.

"Come on, come on," Barney said impatiently, and started herding Ted toward the bedroom.

"I don't... understand..." Ted said, voice trailing off.

Marshall heard the door slam close behind him, and quietly uncovered his eyes. He reached for his cellphone and speed-dialed Lily, hands shaky and uncoordinated.

"Baby, please pick up. I think I'm having a nightmare, but I can't wake up. Please pick up. Please pick up," he pleaded into the phone, rocking back and forth. Incoherent moans wafted from the bedroom.

Marshall started to cry.

The End

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