So, I was watching Game Night, studying up for my other story. Anyway, I was watching Game Night and I was wondering what would have happened if Robin would've met Barney before his complete transformation. I'm fully aware that Robin probably wasn't in New York at this time, but it's AU so whatever haha. I don't really have a plan for this story. As of now, I think I'm going to leave it as a oneshot, but if you guys like it, maybe I'll add more. Let me know what you thought? Thank you!(:

Breaking-up sucked, Barney thought taking a sip of his beer. It really, really sucked. It's not like he thought Shannon was his great love. Actually, he had thought that at one point, but near the end he knew. He wasn't as stupid and oblivious as he seemed. He knew he wasn't destined to spend the rest of his life with her, but that didn't make it hurt any less. He was sick of hurting, though. So, in the two weeks since they had broken up, he transformed himself. He was no longer virgin Barney who worked in a coffee shop, wanted to join the Peace Corps, and only gave high twos. Now, he was Barney Stinson. He wore suits all the time, he had an entry level position at Altrucell, and anything less than a high five was lame.

He liked the Barney that he was becoming. The old Barney was a wimp who fell in love, which he would never do again. He didn't know exactly where 'new Barney Stinson' was headed, but he knew he wasn't going back to old Barney. He sighed and ran a hand over his head. He was still trying to get used to not having any hair, it was weird. He saw a blonde girl from across the bar who reminded him of Shannon and he let his head hit the bar with a satisfying thump. Everyone always said breaking up was hard to do, but no one ever said anything about the ache you get in your chest every time you see someone who reminds you of your ex. He hated that Shannon did this to him. He was angry that she strung him along, that she couldn't just let him go as soon as she knew it was over. Instead, he had to accidentally find out that she was moving on with a suit-wearing douche. A suit-wearing douche that he was quickly turning into. But, hey, like he said before: anything was better than old Barney.

"Rough day?" An amused feminine voice asked from his right. His head shot up and he glanced at the person who intruded his thoughts. The woman was a tall, pretty brunette that he definitely recognized from somewhere. And then it clicked, "Robin." Her eyebrows creased in confusion and she slowly nodded.

"How do you know my name?" He thought back to when he met her, two weeks ago. When everything had been totally different.

"Your total is $2.30." Barney said barely looking up from the register.

"Shit," the woman muttered. "I only have $2.00. Is there any way I could change my order?" He finally looked up at the woman and was struck for a moment by how beautiful she was. Of course he had met pretty girls before, but she was gorgeous.

"D-d-don't worry about it." He stuttered with a shy smile. He might finally be able to talk to Shannon, but he was totally hopeless when it came to other women.

"Are you sure?" She asked skeptically and he nodded. "Well, thank you…" She trailed off looking for his nametag.

"Barney," he supplied.

"Barney," she repeated with a smile. "If there's ever a way I can repay this, here's my number." She smirked quickly scribbling something down on a piece of paper.

"Actually that's my girlfriend." He pointed to Shannon and Robin shrugged.

"Nothing lasts forever." The woman said with a twinkle in her eye. Barney stopped himself from saying that his relationship with Shannon would. He barely knew this woman and if Shannon saw him flirting, at least he thought this was flirting? If Shannon caught him, he'd be dead. He was trying to decide whether to say anything else when she picked up her coffee and sauntered out of the shop. He watched her walk out and then read the paper. Robin. Her name was Robin. He wasn't sure what the reason was, maybe it was because his relationship with Shannon had been on shaky ground or maybe it was the complete confidence of this woman. But something made him stuff the paper in his pocket. He didn't throw it out, like he knew he should. He kept it.

Robin nodded in recognition. "Right, Barney." She smiled widely. "So, I guess things didn't work out?" She smirked ordering a beer and Barney sadly shook his head. "Well, that sucks but, hey, this new look is really working for you." He felt his cheeks heat up in response and Robin laughed softly. "You're not used to the attention, are you?" He shook his head.

"Shannon and I, uh, we were together for a really long time."

"What happened?" She asked curiously. "I don't mean to pry, actually I do," she flashed him a smile and he found himself smiling back. "But you didn't even want my number two weeks ago."

"She found someone else." He quickly explained. He really didn't want to talk about this now. There was a reason he had cut off contact with everyone he knew before the break-up, except for his brother.

"Some well groomed guy who wears suits?" He nodded. "If it makes you feel better, you totally won the break-up."


"Won the break-up." She explained. "There's always a winner and a loser and you, my friend, definitely won. She might have done the dumping, but she'll be sorry next time she sees you."

"I don't think so."He mumbled glaring darkly at his bottle of beer.

"You're a mess, man." Robin shook her head sadly. "You know what you need?" He looked up in interest. "Come on," she motioned to the door, already standing.

"Where are we going?" He asked as soon as they were in the cab.

"I'm going to teach you how to live." She said with a devilish smirk on her face. And it should scare him because he doesn't know anything about this woman, other than her name and how she likes her coffee. He was in a cab in New York City with some complete stranger and it felt good. He felt free. A full-blown smile, his first real smile since Shannon, took over his face and he bounced his knee in excitement. He had absolutely no idea where they were going, but he was excited.

"What is this place?" He asked wide-eyed.

"This is the cigar bar." Robin smiled leading him to two leather chairs in the center of the room. She ordered them two Monte Cristos and he didn't know what that meant, but he went with it. He held the cigar hesitantly in his hand once it came and Robin laughed. "Just try it, it won't kill you. Actually, it could eventually but one won't hurt."

He put the cigar up to his lips and took a drag. He mentally thanked James for teaching him to smoke all those years ago so, he doesn't cough and sputter like an idiot in front of Robin. He already made himself look like enough of an idiot in front of her, plus she knew him pre break-up. Not well, but still she had seen the hair and the lack of a suit. After they're done smoking their cigars and drinking scotch (which burned a lot, but he wasn't going to complain), they wandered around the city. Her arm was linked in his and he really hoped this wasn't a one night thing. Not only because Robin was completely awesome (and hot), but he really needed a friend. Suddenly, they stopped and Robin pointed to the building. "This is where I live." She explained and his eyes widened. "Ohmigod!" She quickly said holding a hand up. "I'm not inviting you up, I was just-" She broke off shaking her head. "You get it." He nodded. Robin looked at him uncertainly and he couldn't help but smile because she was treating him like a little kid all of a sudden.

"I can get my own cab." He laughed.

"Right, yeah, I know that." She turned around and started walking up the steps. She was half-way toward the door when she yelled out to him. "Hey! Do you still have my number?" He shook his head sheepishly.

"I kept it, but I threw out all of my old clothes." He explained. She skipped down the steps and right up to him fishing a business card out of her purse.

"Call me sometime, because I still have a lot left to teach you." Robin said, their hands making contact for a brief second. He couldn't help the wide smile that broke out on his face at those words because that was exactly what he had been worrying about the entire night. Robin gave him one last wave before heading into her building and he bit on his lower lip. He stepped off the curb and easily hailed a cab. He was sliding into this new persona with such ease. Confident, suit-wearing, Altrucell worker. He didn't believe in fate, not by a long shot. But something told him, that it wasn't coincidence that he ended up exactly where he was supposed to be, exactly when he was supposed to be there. If Barney had gone to any other bar on that night, the entire course of his life would have changed. He was in the right place at the right time and he would forever be thankful for that.