Let's Dream a Future

Summary: And make it real. Barney comforts Robin after Symphony of Illumination. Barney/Robin.

A/N: I just recently got into HIMYM, and after a mega marathon covering six and a half seasons, I've become a hardcore Barney/Robin shipper and have reached the point of fanfic writing for this new (for me) fandom. So, yay for that!

It's dumb luck that he finds her there, sitting alone on a park bench at 2am, eyes red and puffy. Ted had told him she was out, Ted had admitted to being worried, but it was Barney that went on what seemed like a fruitless, wandering search around what he knew to be her favorite haunts.

Not so fruitless after all, he thinks when he finally finds her.

He stands awkwardly in front of her, hands shoved down to the depths of his pockets.

She tilts her head up to greet him, but when she meets his eyes, she quickly looks away.

He wishes she wouldn't.

"You know, you shouldn't be out here alone," he says, with a near-successful attempt at casual. "It's not safe so late at night."

She says nothing and he can't blame her after such a pathetic conversation-starter. Instead, she wipes a hand roughly across her streaming eyes.

In this instance, there's nothing he wants more than to be able to comfort this woman, but he's afraid to try. "Can I sit?" he asks tentatively.

She nods without speaking and he sits on the end of the bench, their legs just barely touching. He wants to ask what's wrong, but manages to hold back the question. He's never been good at silence or waiting, but if it's what she needs right now, he can sure as hell try.

Before he can even give the silence time to settle, however, she's pushing his arm up so she can lean in closer against his chest. He lets his arm fall back down across her shoulders and he instinctively pulls her closer.

His heart warms inside of him and he's suddenly aware of how her breathing is synced with his.

"Barney..."

Her voice doesn't sound like her own; it's too needy, too heartbreaking, and his throat nearly closes up with the pain of hearing it. "Yeah?"

"I'm sorry I didn't break up with Kevin."

Barney shrugs a bit, because he doesn't know what else to do. He feels like his heart has been broken for far too long for anything to make much of a difference now. "It's okay, Robin," he manages. "If he's what you need, I can accept that. It's...nothing to freeze out here for."

"No, no, no. That's not it," she says quickly, because he needs to understand. "I know he's not right for me...it's just..."

She turns to look at him, eyes bright with tears. He gently moves hair out of her face, and she's so in love with him, it hurts.

"Barney, what if I can't give you everything you want?"

He laughs then, so sincere it crinkles his eyes and leaves a smile on his face as he speaks. "What could I possibly want besides you?"

"Kids," she whispers.

His heart sinks into his stomach, and he hopes she doesn't see it on his face.

"The doctor said..." she tries to continue, but emotion clogs her throat. He doesn't need her to finish the sentence, but she does anyway. "I can't have kids, Barney. It's never going to happen for me."

She breaks down then, truly devastating tears soaking into the fabric of his coat.

He understands now what she's been going through, because he feels it too. She hadn't wanted kids, she'd been so sure. But now, even the possibility of such a life seems gone, and something has come undone inside of her. Inside of him, too.

The future looks so different now, but as she cries into his chest, one thing remains the same.

"Robin, listen to me," he says, and something in his voice calms her. He pats her hair as she attempts to control her shallow breathing. She sniffles into his coat, then raises her tear-filled eyes to meet his, seeking reassurance.

His voice is so enticingly soft, so gentle. "I love you, Robin, for so many reasons." he says quietly. "You're the strongest person I know, and if I've learned anything these past few years, it's that you always keep trying for your dreams."

"This isn't something I can get by working hard," she replies hopelessly.

"Hey now, if Robin Scherbatsky wants a family, she'll get one. Plain and simple." he says, and he sounds so confident that she maybe starts to believe it.

With his arm wrapped securely around her, she thinks about what she can't have and what she can have, and it's both a realization and an acceptance. No, she'll never have a baby grow inside her belly, she'll never know what it's like to have that connection with new life. But she thinks about James and Tom, and maybe she could have that, someday, if she wanted. She could be a loving mom to a child in need of one. She could.

Being with Barney somehow makes it all seem possible, tangible, wonderful.

But suddenly she is reminded that she has no claim on him now. Fear seizes her, and she needs to know.

"Did you mean it when you said you loved me?" she asks as her emotions suddenly overwhelm her. She's never been able to be vulnerable with anyone but Barney, and she's missed him so much lately, and she thinks she loves him just as much as ever.

Barney tenses slightly at the question, but the moment passes when he looks at her, and it's almost like she can see it in his eyes. There are walls around his heart and he's built them up and he's built them strong, but he's letting her in without a fight. No more games or second-guessing. This is the moment she will always, always remember.

"Robin, I meant it," he says quietly. "I love you, more than I've loved anyone else, ever. And I don't want to get all Sappy-Ted on you, but when I think about how I want my life to go...I want it to be with you. I want there to be an us, and I don't want to waste anymore time pretending differently." He pauses to kiss her forehead and she seems to relax against him.

"And kids?" she asks gently, thinking of how he'd seemed to light up at the thought of having a child, even while she had been utterly terrified.

"Someday, I hope you'll want to raise a family with me, and if that's the case, we will find a way. We can adopt, we can have that life. But for me, it's only important if we're in it together."

Suddenly the urge overwhelms her and it simply can't be helped; she kisses him, hard and uninhibited and beautiful and pure. "I love you too, Barney," she says, and she's crying again, though from joy or sadness, she isn't sure. "I never stop thinking about you and how, in a weird way, we work together..." She smiles slightly. "It's funny, you know. I never thought that I could want kids, until I thought it might be with you."

"Well, I think we've both come a long way, Scherbatsky," he smiles back.

She touches his face, so softly he thinks they could just melt together. "And we've still got so much ahead of us, don't we?"

"A lifetime," he grins.

In the past, such a word of commitment would have made Robin panic, but with Barney, she can't help but see the implications as exciting.

Barney nods at her, as though reading her thoughts. "Can we start slow and just go home for now? It's kinda cold out here."

She kisses his cheek and wipes away some tears still clinging to her eyelashes. "You're such a wuss, Stinson."

He laughs, so sincerely it crinkles his eyes and leaves him smiling once again. "Whatever, Canada."

He stands and offers her his hand. She takes it, lets him pull her to her feet, and doesn't let go. Their fingers lace naturally together, and there's a perfection to it that neither of them can explain.

And Barney knows he's done a lot of things with a lot of different women, but he'd be the first to tell you that nothing has ever felt quite so fantastic as simply holding Robin's hand.

A/N: I just love them together, I really can't help it. Reviews are much appreciated!