Subject: Humour, Romance, fluff
Rating: I don't understand the US lettering system, but there's nothing dirty in this!
Spoilers: None really
Disclaimer: I own nothing
A/N: I don't normally write fanfic (in fact this is my first!) but this idea had been in my head for a while and then I saw the prompt from tenshinrtaiga, "Robin agrees to marry Barney on one condition - he has to tell her what his job really is." and I just had to get this down. Sorry it's a bit long (3,300 words). Sorry I am cross-posting this from my LJ because I couldn't work out how to link it. Anyway, hope you likey.
His own words were still ringing in his ears – the proposal he’d spent so long working out, finding the right moment for, plucking up the courage to say to her – it was still hanging in the air between them, and the unreality of the situation made Barney wonder for a moment whether he’d imagined the whole thing. But no, there was the open ringbox in his hand, and he was still down on one knee, which really wasn’t good for his suit.
Robin repeated her question. “What do you do for a living, Barney? Come on! It’s not that hard.”
Ted had been right - in that first ten seconds of registering the utter shock on her face, every crazy scenario imaginable had flashed through his brain – with the sole exception of this one. No, this response had most definitely not been on his list of possible answers.
“What – the hell – does that have to do with anything??” he spluttered eventually.
“It has a lot to do with everything!” Running her hand through her hair, she sat down heavily on the bed with a sigh of frustration at her own inability to express herself better.
Slowly he got up and sat down beside her, putting the ringbox wisely out of sight. He looked into her face with some concern. “Okay. Tell me?”
There was a pause. “It’s just – “ Again the sigh and the hand through the hair, but Barney knew better than to rush her. “Why can’t you tell me this? We said no secrets, no hiding stuff this time around, and I’ve really, really been trying, and you know how hard that stuff is for me.” She looked at him and he nodded. She took another deep breath and went on. “And I know everything else there is to know about you – at least I think I do – even the really bad stuff, and I don’t love you any less because of it. I never could. So I can’t understand why you won’t tell me this one thing. I guess – I guess it hurts.” She swallowed hard. “And – and I – I really want to marry you, Barney, but I can’t be that girl who’s at a party and someone says ‘So what does your husband do?’ and I have to honestly say I don’t know! It makes me feel like some kind of dumb 1950s housewife!”
Barney was trying very hard not to smile like an idiot, but hell, she’d just said she wanted to marry him and used the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ all in the space of two sentences. “Well, you know I work at GNB”, he tried. “I mean, I don’t know exactly what you do at work all day. Does it really matter?”
“Yes, it matters!” She stood up and starting pacing agitatedly up and down. “Why do you feel like you have to keep this huge secret from me? It’s like you don’t trust me or something.”
“Um, I hate to raise a point of irony at this juncture, Robin, but I seem to recall a certain incident, ooh, around six years ago? Where a certain ex-boyfriend of yours with a bad hair-product dependency said something very similar to you regarding your aversion to a certain type of shopping destination. And you being most adamant that the secret was yours to keep and had no bearing whatsoever on your relationship with said ex-boyfriend.”
“Yeah, and look how that turned out,” said Robin. “A certain other someone wouldn’t take no for an answer and took it upon himself to expose my secret to half the world.”
“You gave your blessing for that - “
“But you know what?” She interrupted. “You were right. You and Ted both were. I felt so much better after you all found out. It was such a relief, and I felt like I could relax, knowing that you all loved me just as much in spite of it.”
Barney grinned. “Or maybe a little bit more, because of it.”
She couldn’t help returning his smile just a little. His obsession with her Robin Sparkles past was just as cute as ever. “The point is,” she said, “it proved Ted’s point about communication, although it took me a long time to figure that one out. I shouldn’t have tried to hide it from him when we were dating. Sparkles was – is – part of who I am. You proved that to me. And you once described your job as your identity. Which means, if I don’t know what it is, then I don’t really know you. And how can I possibly marry you if that’s the case?”
She’d stopped pacing. He moved closer to her. “So, if I tell you, you’ll say yes?”
She placed her hands gently against his chest and gave him a playful smile. “Maybe.”
He puffed out an enormous sigh. “Okay.” Taking her hands, he pulled her back to the edge of the bed and sat them both down. He pinned her with his most serious look. “But you have to promise not to tell the others.” She nodded. “And you must understand that my disclosing this information may put both of our lives in danger. That’s really the main reason I didn’t want to tell you, but - you’re right. We have to be in this together.”
She snorted a little. “Come on Barney, seriously, you work for a bank. Please quit trying to make it sound like it’s a cover for the CIA or something.” A thought struck her. “Oh crap, it’s not, is it?”
His eyebrow quirked up just a little and he briefly considered going with that story – but no, those days were over.
“No, it’s not,” he smiled. “Although that would have been awesome. No, the truth is – “ he sighed again. “The truth is – I’m – I’m - I’m the janitor at GNB.”
“Yeah,” he expounded. “That’s why I have so many keys. I only pretend that big office is mine. The guy who it really belongs to is a good bro of mine, and he lets me sneak in there from time to time whenever you guys come by, just so I can impress you all into thinking I have some bigshot job, but when you’re not around I slip my overalls back on over my suit and get back to sluicing the floors.” He hung his head dramatically. “But I guess it’s out now and I’ll just have to face my secret shame. Can you forgive me?” he added theatrically.
Robin folded her arms and regarded him with a quizzically raised eyebrow. “You’re the janitor?”
“Yeah.” Puppy-dog eyes.
“Yeah.” Again the head hanging in shame.
“Okay Stinson, let’s see how this measures up. You pretend that office is yours whenever we come by?”
“What about when we come by unexpectedly?” she countered.
“The guy’s out of town a lot, so I go in there most days, hang out for a bit, specially around lunchtime when I think you might drop by.”
“What about when Marshall worked there?”
“The - other guy was on leave of absence for two years?”
“What about the fact that the motivational posters on the walls could only possibly belong to you? I mean, ‘Awesomeness’?”
“Guy’s a big fan of mine,” he nodded. A sudden idea came to him and he clicked his fingers. “It’s Randy! You know Randy. It’s Randy’s office.”
“Right. And I suppose, ah, Randy tells his secretary to call you ‘Mr Stinson’ and everybody to act like you’re super important?”
“Yeah”, he agreed with a tilt of the head, straightening an imaginary tie. “What can I say? The guy worships me.”
“Okay. Moving on.” She stood up and began pacing again, this time brandishing a finger like a lawyer conducting a cross-examination. “So, if you’re ‘the janitor’” - this time she gave it air-quotes – “how can you afford this apartment?”
He nodded sagely. “Rent control.”
“How about your two 300-inch TVs shipped specially from Japan?”
“Okay. What about your suits?”
He thought for a second. “Ah – my – Mom buys them for me”, he concluded at last, not very convincingly.
“Your retired, former bookmaker, single mom, buys you dozens of Armani and hand-tailored suits costing upwards of $10,000 each.”
“She really, really loves me. And my tailor is an old boyfriend of hers!” he added brightly in a flash of inspiration.
“Dude, your tailor is Tim Gunn!” shouted Robin finally in exasperation. “Jeez, Barney! What the hell?! Enough with this! I thought this was supposed to be about you being honest with me! Seriously, I thought we’d moved past the stage of you having to tell me outright lies! I thought – “
Her voice cracked a little, and to his horror he could see actual tears in her eyes. He leapt up and seized her hands again, then cupped her chin, looking earnestly into her eyes. “Robin, I’m sorry.” Her face was still ablaze with anger. “Seriously, I’m sorry,” he repeated urgently. “Please. Sit down. I’ll tell you the truth. Really,” he added with a half-smile, at her doubtful look.
They sat on the bed once more. Barney stared down at her hands grasped in his own, trying to face the thing which he’d avoided saying all these years. God, this was tougher than he’d imagined. This was way, way harder than saying “I love you” or even proposing. Then he heard her give a little sniff, and he knew that nothing else in the world mattered except making her happy.
“Robin,” he said, looking up at her. “The truth is – that I, Barney Stinson – “
“Dude, I know your name,” she interrupted.
“Robin. Please,” he admonished. “I, Barney Stinson, am – wait for it – Goliath – wait for-“
At her severe warning glance (which was getting worryingly close to the flared-nostril look that Ted had once warned him about), he wisely moved swiftly on.
“…National Bank’s – wait for it – Chief – wait for it – Company – wait for it – Accountant. Chief Company Accountant!” he finished triumphantly with his trademark flourish of the index finger.
He looked at her expectantly, eyebrows up, smiling. There was a silence. A long silence. Then an explosion.
“FOR GOD’S SAKE, BARNEY!!! What the HELL is the matter with you??!! WHY in GOD’S NAME can’t you be honest with me just this ONCE??!!! I really, really thought you’d changed – God - I was actually going to agree to MARRY you, you son of a bitch, but you just can’t help yourself, can you? Making up stories! You have a serious problem, Stinson, do you know that?! First you’re the ‘janitor’, and now you’re an ‘accountant’?? It’s insulting, that’s what it is, it’s literally insulting to me, and frankly – “
She suddenly stopped dead when she saw his expression. Her eyes widened in disbelief.
“Oh my God,” she breathed, her hand going to her heart. “Are you – are you serious?”
His rueful little smile and tilt of the head said it all.
“You’re an accountant? Like, for real??”
“Chief Company Accountant,” Barney corrected, a little weakly. “It’s actually a very senior post –“ But he broke off because she had started to laugh. And laugh. And laugh.
“Oh my God, that is priceless!” Robin gasped. “The great Barney Stinson, ‘International Man of Mystery’, is a number-cruncher? Oh my God!!” She rolled on the bed, laughing hysterically.
“Yeah, like I said, it’s actually a very – “ More peals of laughter. Barney pursed his lips in annoyance and raised his voice a little. “I’m a member of the senior board of directors-“
Robin clutched her stomach, going “Ow, ow”.
“I went to MIT.”
“It’s an extremely responsible posi-“
Robin was wiping away tears of mirth.
“Look I’m really really important and I make a ton of money, okay?!!” he shouted petulantly. Robin’s laughter showed no sign of abating. “What’s so damn FUNNY?!” he yelled at last, genuinely annoyed now.
She tried to sober up a little. “Ah – nothing – ha – I mean – ah – oh God – um – it’s just – um – all this time, you’ve had us all thinking you were out there cooking up shady deals with undesirables in underground parking lots, or I don’t know, deep in arms talks with rogue nations or something – and the whole time, all you were doing was – was” (she tried to stop it but the laughter just came bubbling back) “was playing around with a bunch of spreadsheets!!” And she collapsed again in hysterics.
“Robin!” he hissed fiercely. “I’ll have you know there’s a lot more to it than just ‘spreadsheets’, as you put it. There are bar graphs, and –“ Okay, wrong tack, Stinson. She’s off again. He raised his voice slightly more. “I have to do financial projections for the entire company – short-, medium- and long-term – and –“
“Oh – oh –oh –“ put in Robin, still laughing, “I bet you know exactly how much GNB will spend on toilet paper in the next five years, don’t you? I bet you came up with some fancy bar graph for it, based on TP consumption figures for the last twelve months. Oh – did you write down every cent spent on toilet paper in a big black ledger? You do have a ledger, right?”
Determinedly ignoring her, he went on, “Then there are the profit and loss accounts, the –“
“Oh my God do you have an abacus?!” shrieked Robin suddenly. “Oh please tell me you have an abacus!”
Barney regarded her. “Yes, Robin, that’s right,” he said with patient sarcasm. “I have both a ledger and an abacus, because my office is located within a wormhole in the space-time continuum where it’s actually 1883. Get your head out of your ass.”
Her laughter had subsided a little now, and seeing the genuine look of hurt and irritation on his face, she dabbed at her eyes and tried to compose herself. “So this job’s a really big deal, huh?” she appealed eventually, rubbing his arm in an attempt at mollification.
“Yeah,” he replied defensively, but then his shoulders slumped a little. “Well, kinda. I guess.”
“But all that stuff about lying in court, and your life being in danger – that was just…?”
“No, that part’s actually true,” he said, brightening a little. “The thing is, I have to personally sign off on every single financial transaction that goes through GNB’s books, from billion-dollar takeovers right down to the bags of used notes left in a phone booth in Pyongyang.” Robin managed to turn a smile of amusement at the way he pronounced ‘Pyongyang’ into what she hoped looked like a smile of encouragement, and he continued. “Which makes me literally the only person who knows absolutely everything that company does – and trust me, they’re into some dodgy stuff! You do not wanna know what I know. Seriously.”
“But you haven’t actually done anything illegal personally?” she asked with some concern, before realising that made her sound like Lily. “I mean, if you have, it’s cool, I won’t say anything or judge you or –“
Barney smiled. “Well, technically, other than a bit of mild perjury, I guess I haven’t actually committed any felonies, but I do have to, let’s say, come up with some creative terminology from time to time to explain the sources of some of GNB’s income.” He looked at ner nervously. “You’re not mad, are you?”
Robin grinned. “No, I guess not. It’s kind of badass. Ooh, my boyfriend’s a badass accountant!”
Barney winced. “Do you have to say that word out loud?”
“What – ‘boyfriend’? I thought we were over that.”
“No – the other word. You know – the ‘A’ word.”
Robin laughed lightly. “Barney – I don’t get it. What’s so bad about admitting you’re an acc-“ Spotting his glare, she corrected herself. “An ‘A’-word-person? Why all the evasion all these years?”
“Do you seriously have to ask me that? Robin, for the best part of thirteen years my main raison d’etre was picking up girls, right? And girls want to be picked up by fighter pilots, surgeons, astronauts, athletes and so on. They do not want to sleep with accountants. Accountants, Robin, are not sexy.”
“Ooh, I know one who is”, she began suggestively, running her hands up his chest, but he just looked distracted and annoyed so she stopped. “Anyway,” she said, “even if that’s true, which I dispute – but even if it were, why couldn’t you tell us? We’re your friends.”
Barney scoffed. “Pfft. I’d have thought that was obvious. Exhibit A – your reaction.”
Robin looked rueful. “I only laughed because you always made out you did something so top-secret. Surely you can see why the truth looks kind of funny in the light of the way you acted?”
“Exactly,” said Barney. “And if you think it’s funny, then just imagine the field-day Ted and Marshall would have had with this little tidbit of information. Not to mention Lily would probably have used it to try and reform me by blabbing to every girl I tried to hit on. No thanks.”
“That reminds me”, smiled Robin wickedly, reaching for her phone from the nightstand, “I really have to text Lily. Oh, and Ted. I’m sure they’ll be excited to hear of this new development.”
Barney’s face fell a mile in horror. “No! Robin, you wouldn’t! Please! You promised!”
Ignoring him, she began fiddling with her phone. “Hey Ted, guess what?” she began to dictate.
“No!!” shrieked Barney in a high-pitched, strangled voice, grabbing for Robin’s phone. She lifted it out of his reach and they tussled for a moment, ending up with him sprawled across her on the bed having successfully captured her phone, only to discover she hadn’t been texting Ted at all but playing Angry Birds.
Barney pulled a face, pinning her beneath him. “Oh ha ha, Scherbatsky, very funny.”
“What?”, she laughed. “You totally deserved that. Anyway you should have had more faith in me. I promised I wouldn’t tell them and I won’t. I would never break a promise to you. Don’t you know that?” she asked, suddenly serious, her hand going to his cheek.
His eyes softened and he smiled slowly. “Talking of which,” he said slyly, “I haven’t forgotten how we got into this conversation in the first place, Scherbatsky. Have you?” She looked confused for a millisecond so he expanded. “A certain question I asked you, to which you, madam, have not yet given me a definitive answer.” He raised his eyebrows meaningfully.
She looked into his warm blue eyes and smiled broadly. “Ask me again,” she whispered.
“Ah – okay.” He sat up, felt about on the bed and found what he was looking for. He took a deep breath. “Robin Scherbatsky, will y-“ A thought occurred to him and he broke off, indicating the floor with a sideways nod of the head. “Do you want me to – um – again?”
She grinned. “No, once was enough. I know what it does to your suit.”
Barney gazed at her with awe and adoration. Seriously, this woman was perfect. And this? This wasn’t difficult at all. This was the most natural thing ever.
He began again. “Robin Scherbatsky, will you – please – marry me, and be the kind of girl who knows exactly what her husband’s embarrassingly mundane job is but pretends to people at parties that it’s something super-awesome, and then comes home and tells him that accountants are the sexiest guys on the planet? Please?” He opened up the ringbox again and showed her. “Plus, y’know, we money-men give good engagement ring, so...” He waggled his head a little, and Robin nearly exploded with love.
She put her arms around his neck.
“Barney,” she said. “Challenge accepted.”
And kissed him.