Barney looks at Robin, dressed in yoga pants and a t-shirt, her hair pulled back into a messy ponytail, sitting at home on the couch, eating a take-out burger and fries on a Saturday night. And it isn't that she doesn't still look cute in a relaxed, laid back sort of way, but Barney recognizes what this is and that's what bothers him. Robin is moping. This is just an extreme version of the sort of moping she'd done – and drawn him into – after Marshall and Lily rejected them as double dates.
Robin has given up. That's what eats away at him, because Robin Scherbatsky has no business giving up.
"Hey," he says, sitting down beside her, "how about you and me, laser tag, right now. Let's go send some sniveling pre-teen brats running back to their mammas!"
"Nah, I'm just not feeling it. It's too comfortable right where I am." She nestles further into the couch, holding her take-out bag out to Barney, offering him a fry.
He shakes his head, pushing the bag away. "Okay, okay, Scherbatsky. No laser tag. I see your point. You want relaxed, how about I treat us to scotch and a smoke in the refined comfort of the cigar bar? What could melt away the stress better than that?"
She looks slightly more tempted by that offer, but ultimately gives him the same resounding no. "I'm just gonna stay in, watch some TV. I don't feel like going out, getting dressed."
"Combing your hair?" he finishes, making a face at her.
"Shut up." And she turns on the TV, digging in her heels for the night.
Barney sighs. He wants to tell her that no man is worth giving up on herself, especially not Don. The guy was a douche. Always had been – come on, he refused to wear pants for several months on end! And he never even came close to being worthy of her awesome.
Not that any man is, himself included, but Don fell far short. So the fact that she's tying herself up in knots over his rejection gets under Barney's skin in a way he can't shake.
And he understands it, he really does. Look how he'd been three years ago when Rhonda the Man Maker didn't remember him. He's gotten laid by literally hundreds of hotties, so the opinion of one post-menopausal woman certainly shouldn't bother him. But it did. And not just bother him; it actually gave him the Yips. It was the principal of the thing. The utter dismissal. It was the idea that if this person could write you off so easily than maybe you weren't as awesome as you thought.
Barney hates the thought of Robin feeling this way. He wants to tell her she's still the greatest woman on the planet and always will be. He wants to tell her that just because Don was a jerk and a fool, it doesn't mean that other people don't appreciate and love her. He wants to tell her that one of those people is sitting next to her on the couch right now. Most of all, he wants to take her in his arms and hold her, comfort her, tell her that she might feel beaten down by life right now but it's all going to be okay, and in the meantime he's here for her, to make sure there's always a smile on that beautiful face, to make sure she always feels as awesome as she truly is.
But of course he can't say any of that. And, besides, she's already getting enough coddling from Ted. She's never going to respond to that. He and Robin are alike in a way the others can never understand. Coddling wasn't meant for people like them. They do their very best under adversity, when no one believes in them. People like the two of them respond to a challenge.
As he watches her carelessly swipe a fallen piece of hair aside – in the process rubbing salt and grease into the brunette locks that always felt like heaven brushing over his chest and certainly deserve better treatment than this – Barney determines that if Robin isn't out of this funk by the end of the week, he's going to give her just that.
He's going to set her a challenge he knows she can't refuse. And then he's going to get his Robin back.