While she would never admit it out loud, she's kind of wanted this for a while. And now, it seems unreal, they're laying next to each other – it seems by accident, but she knows she planned this, even if she can't admit that out loud either – spooning would be the proper term, and his hand is rubbing her side. They've crashed drunkenly together before, but their closeness, the hand, his hand rubbing her side, it signifies… She doesn't want to think about this too much. So she closes her eyes, and lets him rub her side, and then, only half realizing what she's doing, she takes his hand and interlaces it with hers. And they lay there, holding hands.

It would be difficult to say she knew it would come to this. But she did know. She knew it the second he abandoned his laser tag plans to come to her coworker's "lame baby shower." She suggested it to him on a whim, because she didn't want to leave him hanging, though she knew he would never accept. And then he did, because… maybe he saw this coming too. And yet, who would have thought that one-on-one time in a girly setting would really lead here?

She'd introduced him around using the alias he'd created just to infuse the "lame baby shower" with "a little awesomeness." Sipping too much champagne – the hostess insisted they drink more because she couldn't at all – and walking around with Jack Package on her arm sharing secret laughs between poker-face introductions, she'd had a surprisingly good time at the shower she considered more a work obligation than anything else. And when the shower ran late, and cabs willing to cross boroughs were never findable in this part of town and the trains to Brooklyn had virtually stopped running – or at least she told him that, he knew very little about "this thing called the 'sub-way'" – it had made sense that she would just crash at his place. It was an unusual move, but it had seemed natural. It also seemed natural they should share his bed, no point putting her out. And the spooning… She supposed that arose organically as well. There was only one pillow, after all.

"Shove over Scherbatsky," he'd said, pushing playfully against the back she'd turned to him.

"Buy more pillows," she said, wiggling backwards, holding onto her share of the pillow as she pressed her back against him.

They giggled, and bickered. Through the champagne haze, it almost felt like it always did, like they were just at MacLaren's, keeping up the witty banter. Except it wasn't exactly like it was at the bar, because she was completely conscious now. Even as the bubbly fog wrapped around her mind, her body sharply felt every sensation. The movement of his chest against her back as he talked, his breathe on her neck, and his hand, his hand which was rubbing her side. And when the witticisms finally lagged, when all the feeling became too sharp to talk through, she found his hand with hers, and laced them together. And then they were lying together – so close together – holding hands, and her mind was racing. This was the moment. The moment she had known was coming since... And it was up to her how this moment would go.

Her mind is clearing and her eyelids are drooping, and she knows it's time to make a decision. She could stay here, like this, holding his hand, or she could turn around, her front to his front, still sharing the same pillow. But would that be too much of a declaration, would it be admitting that she wants this to happen, that she's making this happen? And if she doesn't turn around, they will fall asleep as they were. And then they will wake up the next day, probably she'll wake first, with a headache, and she'll leave before he rises, and they'll never talk about holding hands again. And she will never get this opportunity again, never again feel him pressed against her, his hand methodically – surprisingly gently – massaging her side, his hand clasped with hers.

Of course, if she turns around, it'll be like screaming "I want you! Take me!" and she has never been that obvious. At least not with him. Their bond works because they never admit, never even suggest that she might want him, and that he might want her. But she does, and she hopes he does as well. She's pretty sure he does, she's pretty sure he's wanted her too, and all she has to do to find out is turn around. Yes, just turn around, face him. That doesn't necessarily mean anything. But if she's going to turn around, she needs to lay the groundwork. She needs her motives to not be obvious.

"My arm is falling asleep."

"I was falling asleep too, thanks." But his voice doesn't sound like he'd been on the verge of sleep. He sounds as awake as she feels.

She starts slowly, first just moving the arm not holding his hand. Then she begins to reposition herself. She turns a little, so that her face is pointed directly down into the pillow. She feels him let go of her hand. She hopes he doesn't take this as a chance to move. She decides she can't move any slower, and so she finishes her turn, and now she's facing him.

She keeps her eyes shut, as if she were tired, as if she were only moving to readjust her arm, but what she really wants to do is stare directly at him. She's never actually been this close to his face, and she realizes she'd like to examine it. He has a nice face, she thinks. A really nice face, good bone structure. And the lights are out, and his eyes, she can feel, are above hers, so maybe he wouldn't notice if she did open her eyes. Maybe. She convinces herself. She opens her eyes. She is staring squarely at his mouth.

Maybe this was a bad move. And yet she can't help herself now, now she's put herself in this position. Now she's brought herself too close to temptation, and now she finds, looking at his very nicely shaped mouth, she has to kiss him.

And so she does.

And it's as if he's been expecting this. And she wants to get mad at him – why did she have to make the first move if he'd been expecting this all along? did he want to embarrass her? is this embarrassing for her? – but all her angry thoughts stop when his hands wind under her arms, when his legs rather forcefully come between her own, when he sort of fluidly, as if he's not even moving, comes to be on top of her. His body is strong. She's always wondered if it would be, he looks so delicate sometimes, but his body is strong. And his mouth his soft, softer then she'd known a man's mouth could feel. And they kiss. And his hands try to get under her turtleneck.

"Geez, Scherbatsky, could you wear a tighter sweater?"

She laughs, but he's having trouble. He might still be drunker than she realized, and his hands keep fumbling in and over and around her turtleneck. She sort of wishes she'd taken him up earlier on his offer to lend her pajamas. She bets they would have been silk and easy to remove. But now she's laughing, and the laughing feels good, and he wraps his legs tighter around her, and then, quite unexpectedly, kisses her on the nose.

This move catches her off guard. She doesn't think it was drunken bad aim. She thinks it was meant to be endearing, this kiss on the nose, and so she pushes him up – just a little, not enough to really reverse the progress he's made on her sweater – and stares straight into his eyes.

"I really like you," she says, before she realizes what she's saying.

And she immediately regrets it.

His hands withdraw as he puts them on either side of her. The staring has gone on too long now.

"I mean…" she fumbles for words to make up for what she said, some kind of explanation, some excuse to get them back to how they were. "I've wanted to do this for awhile."

"Yeah," he says, but quietly. He's not laughing now. He doesn't look like he will laugh now.

"Barney…"

There's a pause, a really long pause, and suddenly the room seems so much darker, and the champagne seems so much heavier on her mind. She's having trouble keeping eye contact with him, and she's not sure if it's because he's averted his gaze, or because the dark has actually clouded thicker.

"I really like you too," he finally says, quietly. And as he says it, he lifts himself completely, and she doubts he really means it, and then, as he leaves the bed completely and exits into the bathroom, she wonders if he ever said it at all.

He's gone for what seems like hours. She readjusts her sweater and her skirt, which has been pushed up at an awkward angle, and she waits for him to come back. As she waits, she feels her eyes begin to close, and then, just as she's on the edge of sleep, he comes back.

She opens her eyes and sees him standing at the side of the bed, just out of arms reach. She knows this because she reaches for him, stretching her hand out, but it doesn't touch him, and he doesn't try to touch it.

"Come back to bed," she says, her arm just hanging in the air. She feels ridiculous, and knows she must look it as well.

"I'm gonna go sleep on the couch," he says. And then he steps further away, and then out the door, and she drops her arm.

She tries to sleep. She tries, she closes her eyes, and maybe she does doze off for seconds at a time, but her heart is racing and refuses to let her relax for too long. Her eyes hurt, and she's not sure if its from exhaustion or from rejection. Rejection. He's rejected her, it settles in.

When the clock finally reads an acceptable time, she stands and – she's still wearing her clothes from the night before – straightens herself up. She goes into his bathroom and swigs some mouthwash – not because she thinks they'll kiss again, but because she thinks minty breath is an automatic confidence boost – and then, and only reluctantly, makes her way to the living room and her only exit.

She steps quietly into the room, praying not to wake him, hoping to avoid confrontation. But he's already up, sitting on the couch, looking completely unrumpled as ever. He looks perfect. He watches her as she stands frozen on the edge of the room, but he makes no move towards her.

"Good morning," she tries to sound curt. She wills her feet to take a step forward. Her head is pounding, but her heart is even louder.

Move, she tells herself, just move, past him, past the door, past this whole thing. That's all you have to do, just move on. That's all you need to do. That's all you need.

But that's not all she needs, not anymore. Now she needs so much more, now she needs him. And it's all her fault. She should just admit it.