There was something missing at MacLaren's that evening and Barney couldn't quite guess what it was. He started a few conversations with some random chicks, but he always found some excuse to leave them quickly.
So he ended up in their regular booth, with Lily, Marshall and Robin sipping beer constantly.
"No luck tonight?"
"Yeah, no... It's something else."
"Something is just not here?" Lily eyed him weirdly. He decided not to answer that.
“I think I'm going to bail.” He finished his drink and left the table.
“Tell Ted not to wait up. We're gonna stay up late and then crash at Robin's. Have a nice evening you two.”
That's when he realised that it became a routine -first, he'd spend an hour or so at MacLaren's, later he'd go up to see Ted. Only see; most of the time he was so busy with his new project that he asked Barney to wait a few minutes – usually he waited until he fell asleep on that very uncomfortable armchair. Not once he regretted it.
When Ted opened the door Barney kissed him as hard as he could.
“I missed you,” he said when he met Mosby's questioning look.
“It's not like you haven't seen me in a long time...” He gave him that warm smile Stinson secretly adored. “It was only yesterday, when I had to wake you up because you've fallen asleep here. Would you wait just five minutes? I'm nearly done with this and when I will be, I'm all yours. Beer?”
“You go to your project and I'll get it. The sooner you start, the sooner you finish.” Strangely, he wasn't even slightly annoyed with Ted having him waiting once again.
“I have something to ask you, before I'll let you fall asleep once again. There's going to be a party at my work, once we finish this project. Would you like to come with me?” There was something in his eyes that told Barney, that it took a lot from his friend to ask that question.
“Yeah, sure. Why not?” And once again he was on that armchair, observing Ted.
He liked that part, every single time he managed to find something new about him – the very annoying, yet somehow cute habit of tapping his fingernails against the table when he didn't know what to do next; the way he glanced through the window, as if looking for inspiration... Just watching him was incredible – made him feel calm, stable, like that tranquillity won't ever end. And somehow it also made him feel needed and loved. Or only in those quiet moments he realised that it was *him* who needed and loved *Ted*.
He felt his cell vibrate against his thigh.
“What is it?” Asked Ted from his desk.
*'We can't crash at Robin's, she just left with some random dude, sorry. Lily.'*
“Oh, it's just Lily, she left her purse at Robin's and can't pay for the drinks. I'll be back in a minute.” Barney kissed him quickly and, once again, he run away.