"Hey!" Lily exclaimed when Robin knocked on the door of her classroom, pleasantly surprised to see her friend. "What're you doing here?"
Robin shrugged. "Well, seeing as I have nothing better to do with my days, I figured, why not drop by and visit my best friend at work?"
Lily looked at her sympathetically. Considering how little Robin usually liked anything to do with kids, that could only mean one thing. "Interview didn't go so well, huh?"
Robin snorted. "If you can even call it an interview when the only question involved is 'So, how fast can you get naked?'"
"Robin! Ixnay on the akednay," Lily hissed in a whisper, jerking her head backwards in the direction of the kids, who were all watching them with their mouths wide open.
Robin blinked. "Right. Kids, word of advice. Never give up the job you have, no matter how crappy it is and no matter how much more awesome the foreign correspondent gig sounds. You wind up playing co-anchor to a monkey and then knocking on the door of every New York news channel you've heard of and several you haven't to take you on." They didn't blink or move, just kept staring at her. "Okay, now that is just creepy."
Lily moved hastily to her side. "Kids, this is my friend Robin. She's--"
Whatever Lily'd been about to say about Robin was got interrupted, however, by the entire class saying in comprehending unison: "Ohhhhhhhhh!"
Robin looked at Lily, and frowned. "Lily, why do your kindergartners sound like they know me? This isn't the same crop as that career day a couple of years ago, is it? They do...get promoted or whatever, right?"
One little boy's hand shot up into the air and he began to wave it around frantically. Looking a little dazed, Lily pointed to him. "Yes, Bobby?"
"Are you still having sex with Ted?" Bobby asked Robin.
Lily turned white as a sheet, Robin as red as a Campbell's Soup can. "Lily!" Robin exclaimed, horrified. "You told them?"
"I didn't, I swear!" Lily rushed to defend herself. And as they often did under similar circumstances, the words bypassed her brain to come rushing out of her mouth completely unsupervised. "I told Barney not to--"
"Barney??" If possible, Robin sounded even more horrified. "What is Barney doing talking to a room full of kindergartners about my sex life??" Her tone turned dangerous and Lily cringed.
"So, are you?" Another one of the kids--little Susie--piped up, drawing Robin's attention back to the little brats.
"No, I'm not still having s--" Robin stopped, sputtered, then gave the little girl a glare that made her shrink back almost to the point of flattening herself against the carpet. "Why am I telling you this? Why do you even care?"
Behind Robin's head, Lily was frantically making all sorts of "cease and desist" signs, from metaphorically cutting her own throat to spelling it out in sign language, but the kids ignored her.
"Because he doesn't want you to," Susie said reasonably.
Robin frowned, completely bewildered. "Why does Bobby care?"
"Not Bobby," Susie answered, sounding exasperated in a way that only a five-year-old can. "Barney!"
Robin scoffed at the idea. "Oh, please. Barney doesn't care who I sleep with!"
"He does if it's Ted," a new child, Jordan, chimed in defiantly.
"Why would he do that?"
"'Cause you and Ted used t'be in love," Susie took over again. "And now he's in love with you, he doesn't want you to be in love with Ted again."
Lily dropped her face into her hands.
This was a joke, right? Some joke Barney or Lily had put the kids up to...because they'd...somehow psychically known that she would decide to come here on a whim today. Robin laughed nervously. "Right. Barney in love; that'll be the day. Lily, tell them..."
Robin pivoted around to face her friend, but stopped mid-sentence at the miserable look of confession on Lily's face. "You're not serious."
"He's been trying to tell you..." Lily offered weakly. "But you keep thinking he's talking about Ted. Or tacos or something."
"But..." It had been a long time since Robin Scherbatsky, reporter-slash-news-anchor, had found herself at quite such a loss for words. "But he's Barney."
Barney, who had never judged her for the guns or the smoking or any of a dozen things she'd had to hide from Ted. Barney, who didn't care that she wasn't into marriage and kids, because neither was he. Barney, who held her and told her she was awesome after Simon dumped her, and pushed her to fight for a job she deserved instead of settling for one she thought she could get. Barney, who, Canadian jokes aside, might be the only one in their group who had always, unequivocally, accepted her for who she was.
Suddenly the atmosphere in Lily's bright, cheerful classroom felt close and suffocating. "I need...I'm going...get some air." And with that, she bolted.