Rating: Adult - warning - explicit sex (M/F/M - Devil's threeway), implied S&M, angst and dark, adult themes
Written for: An extremely belated response to masterful_liar 's Dark Option in Drabblethon
Summary: As Robin continues without a job, she gets more and more depressed and she developed damaging behavior that she doesn't even bother to hide from her friends. When Barney tries to help her, Ted steps in to rescue them both.
Fandom: HIMYM, Barney/Ted/Robin
Spoilers for: AU from the end of Three Days of Snow (The Possimpible never happened)
Word count: 1610 in part one
Barney will do anything for Robin. Anything. He loves her so desperately that he wouldn't even think twice. Ted knows this and the intensity of it scares him. It's killing him to watch Robin spiral downwards, dragging Barney behind in her wake.
Ted guesses most of what has happened and he knows some of it for certain. He knows exactly when it started, for instance, and sometimes he asks himself what would have happened if he and Robin had continued sleeping together. Would that have been enough to stop Robin from stepping over the edge? But then he realises that there's probably nothing he could have done.
It all started when Robin sat down across the booth from him and Barney, a bruise darkening her cheek. Lily was the first to ask about it, offering friendly sympathy. Ted paid attention with a kind-of neutral concern whereas Barney was the one who showed genuine worry.
"It was just some guy…" Robin had explained, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to let some jerk rough her up a little during sex. Later, over by the bar, Ted had overheard Barney and Robin's heated conversation as Barney pulled at the neck of her sweater, cursing as he revealed an ugly, red bite mark.
"Damn it, Robin." Barney had said. "If you're looking for something like that, why didn't you come to me? You need to be safe…"
Ted had been horrified and deeply disturbed. Unlike the rest of them, Barney hadn't judged her. Barney hadn't buried her with recrimination. And Robin hadn't turned away from him.
In the following days, there had been no more (visible) bruises.
But their body language has changed. Barney had become very gentle, very purposeful around her. And the closer they get, the more the tension seems to roll from Robin's body in waves, infecting all of them until even
Ted knows Barney, better than any of them. He stands by him as, one evening, Barney hooks up with a (very) young girl at the bar and he recognises his friend's motivation for what it is - stress relief. He wonders if Robin knows about this. He wonders if she would care if she did.
Ted wonders if Barney has even told Robin that he loves her.
He wonders how Barney gives Robin what she needs - physically, emotionally; how he stands it.
One evening, as the group jokes around, Robin teases Barney, laughs at him, and Barney doesn't rise to it or act out or draw their attention. He just looks at her, once, and her mouth snaps closed, cutting off a witty retort.
Ted wonders if Barney will punish her later.
He finds himself obsessing about it. He listens, ears straining for the sound of Robin coming home at night. She always comes back to the apartment, no matter how late. She never stays over at Barney's pace.
Barney never comes over to their apartment any more.
The dynamic of their group has shifted, and Lily and Marshall seem weirdly oblivious. Lily tells Ted that she thinks that Barney's talked Robin around; that Robin's craving for submission, for pain, was a one-time thing born out of depression - her lack of a job, a lover, any money. Ted marvels that Lily can believe that. After all, none of Robin's problems have gone away.
Ted guesses what's happening between Robin and Barney. He kind-of fantasises about it until one morning he catches a glimpse of Robin through her bedroom door as she pulls on her blouse. Her back is decorated with a criss-cross of livid red marks.
It would all come to a head that night.
She's felt it all day: That creeping numbness that starts at her extremities - her fingers, her toes - and spreads through her limbs, along her torso to take up residence in her heart. Robin's always felt emotionally remote, all her life. Now she's getting worse than ever.
When it gets bad - so bad that she has awful, horrible impulses involving razor blades and her own white expanse of skin - Robin seeks him out. It wouldn't be hard to find someone else to hurt her. She's always had a good radar for violent, brutish guys.
(She's never have suspected Barney of having a mean streak that deep. Not in a million years)
After that first time, when she had brazened it out in front of her friends (no point in trying to hide such an obvious injury) Barney had tried to talk to her. She'd brushed him away, fled the bar, fled the disgust and disapproval of her friends and he'd followed her. He's shouted at her. He'd slammed her up against the wall hard enough to bruise and crushed her lips beneath a hard, uncompromising kiss.
He'd taken charge.
Robin hadn't even realised she'd needed that.
Barney never really needed to hurt her that badly. He didn't always tie her up. He always spanked her, paddled her, held her down and fucked her dirty. When she stepped over the threshold into his fortress of an apartment, she surrendered herself utterly. It was amazing how easy he made it.
He was the best at what he did. He seemed to make a point of it. He read her so well.
He knew just how far to go, how to let the darkness out without draining her past the point of no return. He fed from her, tongue, lips, teeth, devouring her, fingers leaving marks on her inner thighs, palms leaving prints on her buttocks,
She sometimes left with bite-marks like rose-buds on her pale flesh. Sometimes.
She needs him tonight. She needs him.
And Ted locks the door, stands in front of it, refuses to let her go to him.
She's blank, remote, numb, her phone a lumpy mass in her hand. She voice dials Barney and begs him to come to her.
Ted snatches the phone away and barks down the line, angrily.
Robin runs into her bedroom and sits on the floor, back against the door. She doesn't cry, but she trembles like a junkie needing a fix. She needs this. She needs him. She needs Barney. Where is Barney?
"Ted, please…" She whispers, knowing he can't hear her. She begs him anyway.
Barney gets up in Ted's personal space. It's a face-off. It's freezing outside and he's dressed for winter - heavy coat, scarf - so he's boiling hot and filling up with rage. Ted tries to physically block him from going into Robin's room, holding out his hands placatingly, trying to calm Barney down.
Barney knows that Ted just doesn't get it.
Ted doesn't understand how impossibly hard it is to psych himself into this. To get his head into the space where it needs to be for Robin, to do what he has to do for her. He can't do it here, in this warm, friendly apartment. He can't be what Robin wants here. Can't be what she needs.
Oh god, he has to be what she needs.
Doesn't Ted get it?
Robin's bedroom door swings open suddenly, dramatically, and she appears with red-rimmed eyes, her desperation radiating outward, calling to him, pulling him in. She's shaking, sweating, visibly hollow.
"Get out of my way, Ted, or God help me-" He growls, his voice low and ominous.
Ted touches him first.
It stings, through three layers of wool and cotton.
"Take off your coat and sit down," Ted says, reaching out for Robin. And weirdly, because Ted's touching him when he slides an arm around Robin's shoulders and pulls her close, it feels like he's a conduit between them. Ted's diffusing the ticking bomb, cutting them off at the knees, leaving them gently buzzing and gasping for air. Robin's eyes meet Barney's, wide with surprise and relief.
Barney finds himself doing what he's told. It's awesome how effective Ted's "Dad" voice can be.
Ted maintains physical contact with both of them, taking Barney's coat, pulling them both close so that he can hold them together, comforting them and enveloping them. Barney wants to scream at Ted, to make him understand that it's not that easy, that a hug isn't going to fix them. But he's exhausted from fighting and following and feeding Robin's need and there's a part of him that does just want to hold her and promise her that things will get better.
They sink on to the sofa, like one, organic mass. Ted's fingers are splayed across Barney's thigh and he feels gently aroused, can see Robin's tongue running across her lips. He's still got enough sense to protest, to question this. But he can't get up, can't turn around and he physically cannot leave Robin like this with Ted. Jealousy tickles his heart, makes his stomach clench. As if sensing this, Ted begins to stroke his leg, turning to press his lips against Barney's, quickly deepening the kiss, his tongue probing.
Barney jerks away, shocked out of his lethargy.
"Ted, what?" He manages, unable to grapple with the concept of Ted coming on to him, unable to comprehend the look of interest on Robin's face.
No, he can't do this.
He absolutely can't do this.
Robin's hand reaches out, burrowing under Ted's tshirt to stroke across the flesh of his stomach.
Her expression is soft, full of wonder. He's longed to see it. Every time he's smacked her rump and thrown her on her back and fucked her brutally, holding nothing back, all he's wanted is one, gentle glance.
Barney knows that Robin wants to watch him and Ted make out.
Robin wants it. Robin, who stole his life. He's no longer the person he's supposed to be.
And it's not his decision.
But it's up to him to take action.
To be continued...