last01standing: ([Dr Horrible] car)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title:Rules (are made to be broken)
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: HIMYM is not mine.
Summary:Being scared is for losers.
Author's note: I know the end of ‘The Window’ had a lot of people going WHAT? I had an entirely different reaction. Time Travel is cannon, bitches!

Rules (are made to be broken)

There are rules.

Of course there are rules. Time travel without rules mean the world falls apart, universe ending paradoxes... She knows this. She’s seen an almost shameful amount of Star Trek (thank you, Ted Mosby) and has read a science fiction book in the past ten years.

There are rules.

Time travel is a one-time gig. The temporal shift alters a person’s physiology so severely that it could never be replicated. Two hours in the past and then you’re yanked rudely back to the future. And coming back only worked properly if nothing major changed.

There are rules.

Rules so ingrained that the penalty for disobeying is death. Not death by any governing body but death by the universe itself. Change your own life and the original copy is erased, ripped clear out of existence. It happens more then people will admit. The time travel device could only send you within eyesight of your past self. Consequently, the procedure was deemed useless for military ventures, make it impossible to change results of most disasters but it does make it possible for middle aged yuppies to take one last glimpse at their glory years.

Marshall decides to send his younger self an order of chicken wings. Ted and his wife spend their anniversary in the past at the same restaurant where their former selves were having their first date. Lily elects to watch the birth of her son without all the pain medications.

She can only imagine what Barney would have wanted to see again. She can imagine him picking out his greatest conquest. Sometimes she pretends it would have been her. The two of them on the couch, sixteen year old Robin Sparkles serenading them with rendition after rendition of Sandcastles in the Sand.

Or maybe not. She can still practically hear his voice, can imagine himself saying something like, The present’s too awesome to live in the past. She wishes she could ask him for herself.

But, she’ll never know the answer.

She fingers the device in her hands.

It’s not that it’s been a bad life. Sure, she has a string of failed romances that date all the way back to Ted. Sure, she never made anchor on any major news network, but she’d done the globetrotting bit. She’d been a foreign correspondent. She’d done thirty hours of work on a story that got thirty seconds of air.

Her friends are all happy. But there’s a certain distance that grows between two pairs of married couples and a consummate bachelorette. The kids all call her Aunt Robin but they don’t see her more then once a week.

She doesn’t see Marshall and Lily and Ted more then once a week.


Being scared is for losers, Barney whispers in her mind. You’re not a loser, are you?

Why that night? Marshall had asked her when she’d programmed the device.

I wanted to see him again. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same if you had another trip.

Yeah, Robin, we all want to see him again, but I don’t think any of us would pick that night.

I did.

She squeezes her eyes shut. She thinks of Barney and blood and how her first thought had been for the ruined suit, her eyes unwilling to see the broken mess that was Barney’s broken body. She pulls the trigger on the device and when she opens her eyes, it’s thirty years ago and McLaren’s is McLaren’s again, not the Golden Egg Coffee Shop.

Barney is at the bar, hand on the thigh of some blonde bimbo wearing a too-tight tube top and too red lipstick. She can see his heart’s not really in it. Wonders why she hadn’t been able to see it back then.

She looks over to their usual booth. Lily and Marshall were off somewhere being married. Ted had bailed for a date with the future Mrs. Mosby and Robin sat alone, wearing one of her interview suits after consenting to being Barney’s wing man for the night. The first time she’d done those honors since they broke up for reasons she no longer remembers. It was supposed to be a signal that they both had moved on.

She tries to remember what had been happening in this Robin’s life. The downcast tilt to her eyes, the fact that her drink is white wine suggests a recent break-up. God, she was a walking cliché. Who was it this time? Harold? Don? Jeff? She can’t even remember.

Ordering a scotch, she slides into the booth across from her younger self, surveying her critically. “You know, you’re pathetic sometimes.”

Robin’s eyes dart upward, flinty and ready for a fight. “What did you just say to me?”

“A long time ago, someone told me life’s to short to waste crying like a little bitch.”

Indigence. She remembers this. Flared nostrils, a snort—Robin 101. “No one talks like that and I’m not crying.”

“I was paraphrasing, And I’ve made enough people cry in my day to pick out the signs.”

“I think you should get out of this booth.”

“Relax. I’m here to offer you some free advice.”

“Really, and what could a tired, sad sixty year old trolling the bars possibly offer me?”

She raises and eyebrow. “In about ten minutes, the blond guy in the suit is going to come over here and ask you to leave with him. It’s going to be in your best interest to say yes.”

“Barney?” Tell tale, dip of the eyes. Sip of the wine. Say what you want about Robin but she can read herself like an open book. “Like I’m ever going down that road again.”

“I’m not telling you to sleep with him. I’m not going to advise you to give him a second chance. Hell, throw a drink in his face if he tries anything, I don’t care. Just, trust me on this. Leave the bar with him tonight.”

“Why should I?”

Flash of blood. A ruined suit.

“Because if you don’t, you’re always going to regret it.”

“And you can know this how?”

She smiles at Robin and stands up with her scotch. “Goodnight, Sparkles.”

Robin’s eyes widen as she retreats to a discrete corner of the bar and waits.

The scene before her plays like a rerun. Something she’s run over so many times in her head, she knows each and every facial expression, every line. But thirty years gone and it’s never changed.

Only this time. This time....

There are rules, they’d told her. A thousand different reasons why the past cannot be altered.

Robin stands up and grabs her coat. She can’t see her face but she can tell from the tilt of his shoulders that Barney is surprised.

She tightens her hold on the scotch as they start to leave, hands nowhere near each other but shoulders bumping. She overhears the words awesome and laser tag. She thinks of infinity and choices and a million and one could have beens.

Something is tugging at her stomach, something painful and persistent and she sets down her scotch so she can follow them out.

They turn left out of the bar which is good because thirty years ago and today he’d turned right and ruined his suit. Robin raises her hand to push her way out of the bar but she doesn’t have a hand anymore. She’s disintegrating as she moves, crumpling into dusts as the universe rewrites itself around her.

Being scared is for losers, Barney whispers from the ghost of a memory. But she’s the ghost now.

There are rules. All in place to prevent things like this from happening. But rules are made to be broken even if she’s not the one who’s going to reap the benefits.

She steps out of the bar and explodes into possibilities.


(no subject)

18/1/10 05:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I feel like a horrible fan for not even knowing what the ending of "The Window" was. But this fic is awesome. I love how it's written and I love the idea behind it. Awesome.

(no subject)

24/1/10 02:14 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I had to look up the episode name too so it's not just you. =). I'm glad you liked it!

(no subject)

18/1/10 06:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Hocrap, this was amazing! I don't even know what to say other then this made me cry a little. You made everything really realistic, even with the time travel, and, as much as I hate it, I doubt they'll all be that close when everyone has their own families.

(no subject)

24/1/10 02:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Woohoo! I'm glad I could make the time travel work for you. I'm always a little apprehensive about sci-fi technical descriptions. Thank you for reading.

(no subject)

18/1/10 08:27 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Awwww very clever! I love this idea - future Robin saving present Barney's life by interfering in her own time stream. The fact that it destroys her is just so beautifully tragic.

Nice use of Marshall's time travelling in The Window.

(no subject)

24/1/10 02:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Why thank you. I'm glad you liked it.

(no subject)

18/1/10 16:14 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Ooh, spooky! I really liked the way you played with the time travel concept.

(no subject)

24/1/10 02:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Thanks for reading!

(no subject)

14/1/11 02:02 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Oooh, this is fun. I have recently embarked on a HIMYM marathon/obsession, and I found the same masterlist I went through when I was on my Cordelia/Doyle fangirling.

It's fun, triggering old memories. You're just as good as I remembered. :) And I love your Barney fics, I really, really do. Ghost stories and time travel-- God, it's like stumbling into some sort of fic-heaven. True story.

(no subject)

16/1/11 19:28 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Heh. HIMYM is good fun, yes? I like to inflict my sci fi on my few normal programmes. =)

(and any mention of Cordy Doyle gets be a bitter sweet smile. Aw.)


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July 2015

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