"Ted, does this suit look like it was made for softball?" Barney asks, barely tearing his eyes away from his Blackberry to give Ted a derisive look.
Ted sighs and looks back out to the field where various relatives are playing a clumsy game. Ted's aunt drops a pop fly and a cousin dashes to first base, her pigtails flying out behind her.
Jim returns to the bleachers and hands Ted a beer and sits back down with a rattle of old tin. Ted and Jim look alike in the same way all second cousins do, in that they don't, actually. Jim pops open his can of beer and gives Ted a sympathetic glance.
"Hey, at least you're not saddled with-"
"If you call me Sulky McGee one more time..." Ryan snaps from over Jim's shoulder. Jim laughs and presses the cold beer against Ryan's neck and Ryan flinches away with a glare.
Ted doesn't really know what to think about Ryan. He's spent more time on his phone than Barney and at least Barney's not scowling like the whole affair is a personal affront. But Jim seems to like him, enough to bring him to a family reunion and Jim doesn't seem to be taking his less-than-enthusiastic attitude personally.
He's glad, too, that he's not the only one bringing a boyfriend for the first time. He hadn't expected Jim was going to (though he had his own ideas about Jim, and Jim admits later that he had his own about Ted) but the nervous weight that he'd been carrying for weeks lifted like nothing. They've gotten a few looks from relatives a bit further removed from the main bloodline, but for the most part the cousins are too young to care and the older people are ferverent enough in their ideal to not make a scene that Ted and Jim have been able to hang out away from the main crowd, having their own little reunion of sorts (flanked by two very bored boyfriends, of course).
Ted tells him all about Robin, and Marshall and Lily's wedding and finally getting together with Barney. Ted asks Jim about Pam, and what happened to her? And Jim says that they're better off as friends and he and Ryan have been together six months and Ted says oh that's great. The sun starts to set and the light on the softball field goes orange in the fifth inning with the Mosbys leading by one over the Bighams (with a few Halperts mixed in). Ted closes his eyes and revels in the late summer breeze.
"Ugh, Ted, someone needs to beat your aunt, this potato salad is horrible." Barney says, having momentarily abandoned his phone, a paper plate in one hand and a dangling plastic fork in the other.
There's a snort of laughter from Ryan, who doesn't look up from his phone. Jim looks over at him for a beat before turning back to Ted with a glimmer in his eye.
"Your problem, Ted," he says as he stands and goes to stand over Ryan, who looks up at him suspiciously "is that your boyfriend is too big."
He then leans down and practically scoops Ryan off of the bench, carrying him like a bride down the bleachers, with Ryan protesting the whole way.
"Halpert! Put me down- I swear! Halp- Jim. Jim! Stop it!" But Jim ignores him until Ryan's been plopped down at home base and a bat shoved into his hand. Little cousins snicker from the dugout and the pitcher, an uncle of some sort, is patiently waiting with a smirk on his face.
Ted can't hear from here but Ryan glares at Jim from beneath a batting helmet and says something and Jim grins and leans in and kisses him chastely. A kiss for luck. Jim joins his family in the dugout who cheer and clap for him.
Ted laughs at the whole thing and turns to catch Barney smiling down at him. Ted sidles up to him and leans his head on Barney's shoulder and Barney wraps an arm around Ted's shoulder - not without a look around, but it's progress.
"Alright, if I go play, will you cheer for me?" Ted asks.
"I don't have my pom-poms." Barney replies, moving his thumb in a comforting gesture across his arm.
"Oh, I think we can fix that." Ted says with a smile, his cousin Jessica is on the squad at school...