Rating: PG I guess.
Summary: There's a theme at MacLaren's tonight, and Robin has a plan.
Spoilers: Sandcastles in the Sand, general season four plotlines. Could take place anywhere during S4, really.
Word count: 1947
Disclaimer: I don't own Barney, Robin, any of the characters, Sandcastles in the Sand or anything else to do with HIMYM.
Barney leant towards Robin. “Hundred bucks says this loser’s gonna go with something whiny. Probably Celine.”
“Please.” She picked up her beer and contemplated her options. “Five dollars, and it’s Britney all the way.”
“Guys,” said Ted, standing up. “I’m still right here.” As he made his way to the makeshift karaoke stage in the corner of the bar, Carl picked up the mic.
“Ladies and gents, Ted Mosby with Oops I Did It Again.”
Robin snorted as Barney slapped the money into her hand.
“I think I did it again…” Ted started singing and Robin put her head in her hands, snorting as she heard Barney mutter “yeah you did!”
Robin was engrossed in the girl currently on stage. Not because she was good, quite the opposite in fact. But Robin was finding that her bizarre singing voice was completely entrancing, and meant that she almost didn’t notice Lily stand up to leave the table.
“Where are you going?” Robin snapped out of her daze to see Barney staring at Lily, a stern look on his face.
Lily looked confused. “To sign up Marshall and me.”
Robin raised an eyebrow, speaking sternly. “To sing what?”
Lily looked uncomfortable and muttered the answer under her breath. She slid back into the booth, defeated, before even answering. “Don’t Go Breakin’ My-”
Robin and Barney groaned in unison. “Don’t you two ever get bored of singing the same song?”
“We have a dance!”
“Baby..” Marshall put his finger on his lips and shook his head.
They’d been in MacLarens for most of the night, and they could see Carl’s eyes starting to glaze over each time he was handed a new song request. For the last hour it had been Robin, followed by Barney, followed by Robin, followed by some guy in the corner (one time, anyway. The frosty reception he received from the Scherbatsky-Stinson corner were enough to frighten him away), followed by Barney again. Every time Robin thought about calling it a night, Barney psyched her right back up again, despite the fact Lily and Marshall had headed back to their apartment hours ago, with Ted following not long after. Barney just couldn’t say no to the lure of karaoke, and once Robin had been coaxed onto the stage, she realised how much she’d missed performing. Especially when it wasn’t the same song every time. And it wasn’t in a mall.
It wasn’t long before they were the only people left in the bar. “Okay, guys,” Carl called over. “One more, and then we’re done for tonight.”
Robin looked at Barney. He was practically sitting on his hands to stop himself from jumping up and yelling “me, me! I wanna do it!” She laughed to herself, realising how desperate he was to be the one to sing the last song of the night. “Go ahead.”
Barney tried to shrug off the gesture like a gentleman. “What? No, I mean, you should, okay, if you insist!” He was on his feet before Robin could blink.
“Hold it!” She neatened the stack of money in front of her. “I will give you everything I’ve won from you tonight, which is…” she quickly counted up. “One hundred and three dollars twenty, plus half a pack of gum-”
“I didn’t make a bet with you for gum.”
“What? Oh, right. That was Ted. He wanted to guess what you’d sing but the pansy didn’t want to bet with actual money.”
“What did he guess?”
“Luther- How did - Why would - Theodore!” he spluttered, utterly failing to finish a single thought, before finally settling on cursing Ted’s name. “I can’t believe he thinks his best friend-”
“Actually, I think Marshall-” Robin stopped short as Barney glared at her. “Sorry.”
Carl cleared his throat from across the bar. “Barney, are you up next or what?”
He turned back to Robin and nodded his head towards the money. “You were saying?”
“Right. I’ll give you everything in this pile, gum included, if you let me choose the song.”
“Oh please. Deal.”
“You have to sing the entire song.”
“Do your worst, Scherbatsky!”
Robin grinned and headed towards the karaoke machine. She whispered something into Carl’s ear and handed him a CD. Barney cocked his head as he watched the exchange with interest. She was going off book. Nice.
As Barney took the stage, Robin and her beer moved to a closer table. She folded her arms with a smirk. Right before the music started, she called out “Oh, by the way. The words on the screen are all in Japanese.” As his face fell, she grinned. “That shouldn’t be a problem for you, though. Right?”
He opened his mouth to protest at the fairness, until he was interrupted by the music starting. As the first few notes played, a grin spread across his face and he locked eyes with Robin.
“Met you at the maaaall…” he sang, trying to hold back a laugh. “Didn’t know how far I would faaaall.” He closed his eyes and began to croon, really hamming it up. “My friends said I was a fool-”
“You’re a fool!” Robin called out, laughing. Barney’s eyes snapped open and he grinned again.
“Shut up, Scherbatsky. Get your ass up here if you’re just going to-” he broke off and turned his attention back to the song. “-kicked out of schooooool…”
Robin didn’t need to be asked twice. Seeing Robin stand up, Carl tossed her a second microphone. Barney looked a little shocked that she’d actually joined him as she raised the mic to her mouth and started the next line. “Together we were gonna travel the globe,” she smiled as she stood in front of him, and composing himself, he grinned back.
“From Alberta to Ontarioooo.” They were singing together now, and Robin couldn’t help but be impressed by Barney’s singing voice. Especially the way it fitted with hers. It was far from the first time Robin had sung this as a duet, but she was both surprised and amused to discover that Barney seemed to knew exactly which lines he should sing.
As they finished the chorus, Barney leant in to Robin’s ear, his warm breath making her shiver a little. “I may have watched some live performances on YouTube. I particularly loved the duet with Corey Haim.”
That confession caused Robin to start doing a strange combination of laughing and choking. As she was too busy coughing to start the next verse, or explain the wheres and whys of that particular video, Barney took over lead singing duties.
“We used to go to the beach, back when happiness was in our reach.”
“So close,” whispered Robin.
“On our favourite bench… we’d sit and talk and you taught me French. You’re-”
Robin lowered the mic. “Taught me to french, Barney.”
“What?” He looked annoyed at the interruption. Robin was being totally unprofessional.
“You know. French kiss. Not taught me French the language. That doesn’t even make any sense!”
“Oh.” Barney stared ahead for a second before looking back over at Robin and conceding she had a point. “Okay, I guess that does make more sense.”
Carl cleared his throat, though he had to admit this was quite the showstopper to end the night. Well, despite the fact he didn’t actually know what the hell was going on with these two. “Guys?”
“Right. Sorry!” Robin called over, before leaping straight back into the song. “-when I held your hand. Eternity turns to black and white-”
“-it was the greatest week and a half of my life.”
As the bridge began, both Barney and Robin ramped it up into their very best power ballad voices. The harmonies were perfect, the timing was spot on. Despite having had no practice (or in Barney’s case, prior warning), it was quite a spectacular performance. And as the bridge ended, Barney smiled and stepped back a little and gestured to Robin to take the lead for the final chorus.
“Sandcastles in the sand.. Thought I could fly when I held your hand… sandcastles wash away… and all that’s left is some sand the next day…” Robin smiled at Barney as she sang, and Barney felt like for a few short minutes, he was the centre of Robin’s world. It was a nice feeling. Though he would never admit it. “Sandcastles may be cute-”
“I’m on the pill now!” he interrupted, grinning, and Robin burst into peals of laughter, struggling to get the last couple of lines out.
“But now all they do is remind me of you…”
“Let’s go all the way! You said it’d be okay!” He paused. “I’m sorry.”
“Sandcastles wash away.”
As the music ended, Robin stepped forward into Barney’s personal bubble. His first instinct was to step away, dodge the moment, delay any awkwardness from invading their friendship. Tonight had been as perfect as he could hope for. But he found his head and his feet had opposing ideas.
She placed one hand on his chest, and in a moment that Barney was sure that he would replay in his head for eternity and still never be able to remember it quite right, she kissed him. It was quick and gentle, slow and passionate, all at the same time. It wasn’t like anything Barney had experienced before; it was even totally different from the first time with Robin. She pressed her lips together as she pulled away, and then stepped down from the stage, collecting her beer on the way and heading back to their booth.
Barney didn’t know what to do next. After a few seconds’ pause, he handed his microphone back to Carl and followed Robin back to the booth. As he slipped in opposite her, he took a deep breath. “What was that?”
She grinned at him. “Did you like it?” Thrown slightly by the question, Barney opened his mouth to reply. He wasn’t quick enough, and Robin continued talking. “Apparently I’m big in Japan! I picked up a copy of that while I was there. Imagine my surprise when I found my own face staring back at me - I didn’t even know there was a karaoke mix of my album! - on the other side of the world. I had Ted bring it down and then I made him hide outside until you went to the bathroom.”
Barney just blinked. He opened his mouth, closed it, and blinked again. Robin looked down, but there was still a slight smile playing at the corners of her mouth. “I just…” she smiled and looked up at him. “You don’t get enough props. You’re a good guy. You get me.”
If that was a sympathy kiss, Barney thought he would rather have not had it at all. He tried to clear his throat, but it didn’t work, and a slight squeak came out instead. “Robin-”
“I like you, Barney. I’m sorry if that’s not okay. But I can’t help it.”
Aware that Carl was hovering, waiting for them to leave, Barney was trying desperately to process what Robin was saying, trying to figure out the right way to respond - if there even was a right way - and just smiled at her. He stood up and held out his hand to help her out of the booth.
“Let me walk you home.”
She smiled back at him, relief flooding through her. Her reply was quiet, coy, even. That was a side of Robin that Barney wasn’t used to, but he realised right then that he found it utterly adorable. “Barney, I just live upstairs.”
“It’s New York, Robin. Anything could happen between here and upstairs.”