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stargate, DanielJackson

Fic; Love is not a victory march

Posted on 2015.09.20 at 10:57
Tags: ,
Title: Love is not a victory march
Fandom: How I Met Your Mother
Characters: Ted, Robin, Barney.
Word count: 1650
Summary: Set post-series, what happens after the finale. Written for bleodswean's prompt-a-thon, for yachiru's prompt:

Children, when was
Napoleon Bonaparte born,
asks teacher.

A thousand years ago, the children say.
A hundred years ago, the children say.
Last year, the children say.
No one knows.

Children, what did
Napoleon Bonaparte do,
asks teacher.

Won a war, the children say.
Lost a war, the children say.
No one knows.

Our butcher had a dog
called Napoleon,
says Frantisek.
The butcher used to beat him and the dog died
of hunger
a year ago.

And all the children are now sorry
for Napoleon.

- Miroslav Holub


I don’t know what to say. It hurts. They missed the point. And it hurts. But my kids are smiling cheerily, like this is a casual thing. They’re making claims that don’t make sense to me; about how I want to be with Robin. I can’t bring myself to smile but I manage to keep up their jokey parlance. Anything else might hurt them. I learned long ago to tread careful with regards to their mother’s death, and now they sweep the point so swiftly away maybe because they need to. Maybe I have missed the point. I decide I will ask Robin out. Maybe I have to, for them. Maybe they need a mother. It has been too long. I will have to tell Robin the truth of course. But we have both been alone for so long, maybe we could be alone together.

I pick up the phone. I can’t speak. Not now. I need to be outside. I can’t let the sorrow swallow me up. Not in front of them. I make something up, I slip out the door. I remember The Blue French Horn that was once synonymous with Robin and my relationship, it’s absurd, but I still like the poetry of it. I wander towards Robin’s apartment in a haze, mind clogged with swirling thought.

I understand why they found the oddity of the story. I haven’t told them one about their mother for a long time. I had promised myself I wouldn’t at all, not until they were adults or they specifically asked for one. But then I saw Penny’s face, fresh with puppy love for her new boyfriend. And I knew I had to explain. The thing that is love and the astounding joy and the unbearable pain it can cause. I didn’t say that I still, now six years after their mother’s death, feel a deep ache in my chest at her absence and I didn’t tell them that I still wake in the night wishing she was beside me. That would be cruel.

But maybe I should have kept my vow, to stop the stories. I made said vow to myself after a particularly interesting teacher-parent conference. In the months after Tracy’s death I dealt with it in the manner any story-teller like me would. I told stories about her, constantly, everything I could think of, in every detail I conceive. In the stories she was still alive, still here. The children drank in the stories, eager to hear more, I thought I was helping them too, letting them express their grief, ensuring they would remember all these details of their mother. I worried she would fade away to them, as young as they were. Now, haphazardly meandering past cars, I wonder if in a way she has. I know that’s unfair. We all have to move on. It’s no one’s fault that I have resigned myself to not.

Anyway, I digress. The stories continued, month after month. And then came the conference, where one of the teachers pulled me aside to have a word. She spoke with gentle condolences and heartfelt compassion, but also a steely firmness, and told me she knew it was hard but I wasn’t letting either of the kids move on. That their reactions were becoming unhealthy. I had been upset and confused that day. Was there a way for a young child to react healthily to their mother dying? But I spent days, thinking long and hard and realised I needed to allow both of them the space to move on.

I’m finally at Robin’s door, I ring the bell. And her head pops out the window, just like that first time. Yes, poetry is good, but also bittersweet.


*


Robin laughs as I enter her apartment, gesturing at The Blue French Horn, “It’s been a long time since I saw that. What’s up?”

We sit on the sofa and Robin offers me a glass of wine. “I told my kids the story of how I met Tracy, the long version. They misunderstood a few things.”

“Let me guess, you were telling them how you were so ridiculously insanely hung up on me right up until the moment you saw her and then your love for her caused me to entirely vanish from your heart?”

“Pretty much yeah. And they thought I wanted to ask you out.”

“And now, you’re thinking this is a good idea?”

“No, I’m thinking it’s a terrible idea. But aren’t you tired of being alone? I know I am,” I say.

A part of me can’t help a stray bitter thought. Barney, the former love of Robin’s life, is alive and well and she could be with him if she wanted. But neither Robin or Barney want that, despite the obvious love they have for each other. This was what I was trying to warn the kids about: if the person you belong with is in your life, keep them there, fight for them, for as long as you’re able. I feel the need to chastise myself for my bitterness though. We aren’t children and we don’t get to be with the people they belong with just because we belong with them. Life is complicated, the struggle is hard, it’s worth it in the end, but sometimes even the end lasts a precious little while, love must be cherished. I long ago lost hope for myself, but it’s hope for my children which keeps me going. Hope that they can find love and happiness in their future. And I have the desperate need to make sure they don’t give up when it comes their way. This is probably more my problem than theirs.   

Robin chuckles gently, “Ted, wanting a meaningless relationship, never thought I’d see the day. I think we both know better.”

I shrug, “I figured it was a long shot.”

“I think you just came here to get drunk and cry on my shoulder,” Robin says.

“You caught me,” I reply, smiling. It’s the truth, even if I didn’t realise it before. And I’m immensely grateful she doesn’t say ‘It’s been six years, you need to move on’.


*


I’m on my third slice of pizza when Robin’s cell rings.

“It’s probably just work, I’ll let it go to voice…Oh, it’s Barney. Hi Barney. Wait, calm down, and speak slowly, I can’t understand a thing you’re saying,” she pauses listening, “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

Robin hangs up, concern creasing her face, grabbing her coat she says, “There was a car crash. Ellie’s in the hospital.”

My chest constricts, Barney’s daughter has to be okay; she just has to be, “Oh God, how bad is it?”

“I don’t know, Barney wasn’t really speaking clearly.”


*


Robin and I run through the doors of the hospital room. We find Ellie sitting in a bed smiling brightly, eating a jello cup.

“You called them?” Ellie asks, rolling her eyes, “Dad completely overreacted.”

Robin, in possibly the most un-robin maternal move I’ve ever seen her make, strides over to the bed, hugs Ellie saying, “Oh baby.” 

“I’m fine mum,” Ellie replies in a whisper.

“Wait what!?” I say.  

“Wow, Ted has really good hearing,” Ellie says, digging her spoon back into her jello.

“You’re Ellie’s mother?” I ask Robin. Somewhat stunned. She gives a sheepish shrug.

“Okay, we should go over there and talk,” Barney says.

“But I want to hear!” Ellie declares.

“You should be resting,” Barney says sternly, hustling me and Robin into an adjoining room.


*


“Okay is someone going to explain?” I ask.

“You pretty much know the story already, neither of us wanted a kid, we were going to give her up for adoption, and then Barney saw her and went all mushy.”

“I did not get mushy. Shut up.”

“Oh you went big time mushy, lip wobbling, eyes tearing up and everything.”

“I can’t believe you guys.”

“Come on Ted, you must’ve known something was up, especially when I spent nine months calling the mother of my child ‘number 31’, I mean it’s okay for one night stands but that’s just tacky.”

“But why did you guys hide it all this time?”

“I didn’t want to tell you I was giving up my parental rights; I was worried you guys would judge me,” Robin says.

“You guys can be pretty judgy,” Barney adds.

“What do you mean, I don’t judge.”

“You’re judging now.”

“Because you lied! For eleven years!”

“You’ve got to admit, it’s pretty impressive that we pulled it off,” Barney says.  Then Robin and Barney proceed to do the thing where without looking at each other or giving each other any indication they’re about to do so, they execute a perfect high five.

“This is insane. You made your child lie about it!”

“We didn’t make her do anything. She enjoys it.”

“Of course she does, she’s your daughter.”

“She really is. We sure made an awesome kid.”


*


I spend a lot of time thinking over the next few days, especially about Robin and Barney and everything they’ve been through. I think about wasted opportunity. About love that never had a chance. When I text them it’s impulsive. I lure them together and lock them in a room. It may be childish but it’s a classic. And it did work for them before.

“Ted, let us out of this room!” Barney whines.

“This is ridiculous Ted!” Robin  shouts.

“Maybe we should just tell him we started sleeping together again a few months ago,” Barney says.

“No, it’s too much pressure, everyone will look at us with those ‘oh they’re back together’ gooey eyed looks.”

“Fine. While we’re here, want to force Ted listen to us have sex.”

“Sure. Why not.”

I put down the sandwich I’m eating and hurriedly leave. I smile, remembering something I’ve too long forgotten: there’s always hope. 

Comments:


Murielle
murielle at 2015-09-22 08:31 (UTC) (Link)
Okay this should totally be an episode.

I really enjoyed the way you slowly unwound the story. It started out so sad and then line by line got happier.

I am going to have to check out this series. If the episodes are written half as well as this is I will be entertained.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2015-09-22 16:38 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that's high praise, thank you so much, so glad you enjoyed :).

I would definitely recommend watching the series, it's very lighthearted and funny but also deeply meaningful and twisted and brilliant.
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