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The Hero of MacLaren's

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Kids, the fall of 2005 was an eventful time in my life and my friends. I had just met Robin, Lily and Marshall were newly engaged and Barney was...well, Barney. But no night was more unexpected than the night Barney--wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. I should start at the beginning.

"Tomato juice?"

Marshall shook his head. "Guess again, Ted."

"Marshall, I don't know what kind of juice repels velociraptors. I don't think any juice does, and even if you're right and there is, I don't think there's going to be a velociraptor uprising anytime soon. Robot uprising, sure, but not velociraptors," I said, exasperated.

"I know what repels them," Robin said. We all looked at her. "Rapid gunfire. Pop 'em with a half dozen slugs from a Heckler & Koch G36. That'll take care of your dinosaur problem."

A look of annoyance crossed Marshall's face. "Raptors aren't zombies, Robin. They're lightning fast,-"

"And they can open doors," Lily interjected.

Robin shrugged. "So they're smart."

"So smart they'd probably sneak into your apartment, eat your dogs, and use the gun on you. Unless..."

"Unless we use what kind of juice, Marshall?" I asked.

"Grape," Barney said, sitting down at the end of the table.

"Yes!" Marshall shouted, a little too loudly. Carl the bartender gave him a warning look. "Sorry," he mumbled.

"Wait, how do you know that?" I asked.

"Uh, some of us don't want to be dino food the next time Richard Hammond and InGen screw up." He took a sip of the scotch he'd brought to the table with him. "That T-Rex made a real mess of San Diego, you know."

"It was a movie, Barney."

"Sure, Robin." He snorted derisively. "Next you'll be telling me that Voldemort isn't killing Muggles in Great Britain, or that Benjamin Franklin didn't hide billions of dollars worth of gold and artifacts somewhere in New York City." He took another sip of scotch while the rest of us stared in disbelief. "Btw, treasure hunt next week. Everyone bring a lantern and some rope."

"Those are movies, Barney."

"Sure they are, Lily," he said with a slow nod. "Sure they are."

That reminded me of something I'd been meaning to bring up. "Hey, speaking of movies-"

Robin rounded on me. "For the thousandth time, Ted, you can go see Elizabethtown on your own."

"But it's got Legolas! And--"

"No problem bro, I'll go," Barney volunteered.

"Really?"

"Sure." He turned to Marshall. "Have you got a flashlight upstairs?"

"Yeah, why?"

"It's a dark theatre. Ted's going to need someone to shine one for him while he looks for his dignity."

"Hey!" I looked at Marshall. Barney raised his hand for a high five, which Marshall returned as Lily and Robin laughed.

"That's not what I was--" I started but decided to drop it. "They're having an early premiere for Serenity on Tuesday."

"And?"

"I scored five tickets. I want you guys to come with." The others quickly agreed, even Robin, but Barney shook his head.

"Barney, it's like Ted's favorite show!" Marshall said. "You have to come and see the movie with us."

"Have to? Have to, Marshall? Like I 'have' to pay taxes, or I 'have' to have a pilot's license fly those 747s out of LaGuardia?"

Lily raised an eyebrow. "I know where I'm not catching planes from for the rest of my life."

"Barney, you're going to see Serenity. In fact, before Tuesday, you're going to watch Firefly."

"No, Ted. It's one thing to watch Star Wars, 'cause that's just awesome." He held his hand up for a high five, which I returned. "But this Firefly stuff? I wouldn't be able to look at my stormtrooper in its black, soul-less eye coverings again. Ewoks would bite me, like the one on 47th street did that time I told him to quit crying and get a suit."

"That was a child, Barney."

"Same thing. I'm going to go get another Scotch," he said, getting up.

Robin looked at Lily. "So Lily, how do you feel about the way Whedon glorifies prostitution in Firefly?"

"Say what?" Barney asked, sitting back down immediately.

"There's glorified prostitution."

"Is there any other kind?" he said, raising his right hand for a high five. "Side five!" he shouted, fiving himself with the left hand, from the side. "She's lying about the prostitution, isn't she? Man, just when--"

"Selling sex is completely legal and normal in that universe," Lily said, nodding. "She's not lying."

Barney grabbed one of the tickets off the table and stood up, looking off into the distance. "Ted," he said nobly, "I know you don't really care about Serenity, but as your bro, it is my solemn duty to make sure you watch this film, so that we can all learn to share in the advanced civilization it's set in."

So we went to an advanced showing of one of Serenity. You kids have seen it and the all the remakes they've done of it, but back then, it was still pretty underground. Anyway, there we were waiting in line together--me, Robin, your aunt Lily and uncle Marshall. Your uncle Barney was 100 feet behind us, right at the back of the line. We went inside, and waited for him to show up. He didn't show. We figured he'd changed his mind, or hooked up with some passing woman. I was upset, until my phone buzzed. "It's from Barney," I said, and we stopped to read it:

"Forget the advance screening. The Hero of Canton needs a wingman tonight. See you at MacLaren's. Legend-waitforit-"

"Barney is going to MacLaren's with Adam Baldwin?" Marshall asked, incredulous.

"Sounds like it." I was green with envy. After all, the movie was going to be in theatres for weeks, but it wasn't every evening you could hang out with one of the cast members.

"What are we waiting for?" Robin asked. "Let's go!" So we did, leaving just as the lights in the theatre began to go dim. Now, why was your uncle Barney separated from us in the first place? I'll explain.

 

By noon Tuesday, Barney had seen all eleven episodes of Firefly--in fact, he'd watched Heart of Gold another five times. When we met up at MacLaren's before the show, he...well...

"Cunning hat," Robin said as she tried to keep from laughing. The sight was...stunning. And not in a good way. Barney's pants, shirt, even his tie had been cut out of paper thin leather. He had a bright orange knitted cap on his head, a parasol in his left hand, and a couple of toy dinosaurs sticking out of his pockets.

"Is that suit made out of..."

"Soft, pliable brown leather? Why yes Marshall, it is. Note the coat," he said, turning so we could admire it."

"It's brown."

"Exactly. I had Sergei model it after Captain Reynold's coat. His wife Heloise made the hat and the umbrella. She's about to open a scrapbooking shop down on 7th. She's very crafty."

"Don't let it go to waste, Barney. Hottie at 10 o'clock," I said, pointing at a blonde sitting at the bar.

"Way to stay focused, Ted." Barney adjusted his tied and trotted up to the bar. The four of us leaned low over the table.

"He can't show up at the premiere dressed like that! What are we going to do?"

"What can we do? We wanted him to come."

"That was before he sacrificed a herd of cattle to make a single suit!" Lily said.

"Idea," said Marshall. "We knock him out, throw the suit away, and when he comes to, tell him he got mugged."

"That would require undressing him, Marshall. I don't know about you, but I don't think exchanging that suit for his birthday suit is an improvement," Robin pointed out.

"It can't be worse."

"Wait," I said, sitting back. "Why are we worrying about this? Why can't we just have some laughs and enjoy it?"

"Because we have to walk in with him."

"Oh. Right. Damnit!"

"Not necessarily," Robin said. "He's eager to get there, right?" We nodded. "So we let him get there first, well ahead of us. I'll say I forgot my purse and have to go back."

"Ooo! We can say Ted forgot his box of tissues and we have to stop and buy some in case his mascara starts to run."

"It was one time, Marshall! And Karen said it brought out the blue in my eyes!" I shouted, a little too shrilly.

Fortunately, before the pause following that statement could linger long enough to become awkward, Barney returned.

"Strike out?"

"Phone. Number," he said, holding up the napkin with one hand, and making a fist out of the other. "Bump it." I did.

Kids, in retrospect, Barney getting a girl's number while dressed like that should have been our first clue something odd was going on. But I was more worried about the suit itself, and at that instant, I had an idea. "A toast," I said, standing up. The others stood up. "To Serenity, and to Joss Whedon. May Fox never stop the signal!" As we clinked bottles, I let go of mine and it spilled all over Barney's suit. "Bro, I'm sorry," I said, not at all sorry. "It was an accident, I swear."

"Now he won't be able to wear his awesome suit to the premiere. Nice going, Ted," Marshall said.

"Not to fear," said Barney. "Behold!" He wiped the spot where I'd spilled the drink. Like magic, the beer was gone. "Liquid repelling leather," he said smugly. "It's a new process just coming out of New Mexico. Won't be available for another decade, but Sergei has a cousin who knows a scientist who knows some people with some pretty out of this world connections."

"New Mexic-" Marshall started to say, but Barney grabbed him by the shoulder.

"Guys, this premiere is going to be legend--wait for it--"

"Dary."

"Lily! I told you to wait for it!"

"Sorry, Barney. I couldn't help myself."

As we left MacLaren's, I stopped just inside the door. "Barney, I think that girl over in the corner is into you. And she looks..."

"Naughty? Yeah," he said with a knowing smirk. "You can tell by the way she's chewing on that straw, she likes it dirty. Hold the cab, Ted. This won't take a minute." Barney set off towards the corner, and I bolted out the door. Robin was getting into the cab with Lily and Marshall; I pushed her in and scrambled for the front passenger seat.

"Go, go, go! Now!"

And we left him there, terrible leather suit and all. By the time Barney caught up, the line had wrapped around the corner of the block to where we couldn't even see him in line. Anyway, we came back to MacLaren's, hoping to meet up with your uncle Barney and Adam Baldwin. But when we arrived, there was no sign of either. I ran up to the bar.

"Carl, was Barney here?"

"Yeah. He left with some dude, but gave me this note." He held out a piece of paper. I snatched it out of his hands and read it to the others.

Dear Ted, Marshall, Lily, and Robin,
Mr. Cobb and I request your presence at the corner of 14th street and 3rd, better known as the Awesome Laser Tag Arena of Awesomeness.
Awesome!
-Barney Stinson, B.A.

"B.A.?"

"Bachelor of Awesome," Marshall, Lily, and I replied in unison.

"Aren't we a little too old for laser tag?" I asked.

"Are you kidding? If Adam Baldwin is playing laser tag, we're going," Robin said. So we caught another cab, and made our way back downtown. There was another note from Barney when we arrived, saying to get on our gear and we'd see him inside. We hunted for him for nearly an hour before we were all taken out by little kids. Your Aunt Lily lasted the longest, probably because as a kindergarten teacher, she was the most prepared for their savagery. And they were savage. By the time we made it to the snack bar, Barney and Adam Baldwin were long gone, and we had yet another note. That led us to Liberty Helicopters and us chasing Barney and Adam Baldwin around New York, and a series of other near misses. By midnight, we were all exhausted when Lily read the newest note.

"This one says to catch the party boat leaving from Chelsea harbor in 20 minutes."

"Let's go," Robin said, holding a hand out for yet another cab.

"No," I said.

"What?"

"No. This is what Barney wants. For all we know, he never even showed up at screening. He just wanted to drag us out of there and make us run all over town trying to catch up with him."

"Oh my god," Marshall said. "Ted's right. This is exactly the sort of thing Barney would do."

"But what about Adam Baldwin?"

I shook my head. "Robin, he's probably not even in New York. Barney probably made him up along with the rest of this wild goose chase. Gah! How could I let him trick me like this? He's probably sitting at MacLaren's laughing his evil little head off right now."

So we took a cab back to MacLaren's, fully expecting to see Barney there at the bar, hitting on more women. But the MacLaren's was Barney-free.

"Weird. You'd think he'd be here gloating."

"You don't think we were wrong, do you? Maybe we should give him a call."

On the party boat

"So Jayne," Barney said, a Montecristo #2 cigar in hand as he leaned over the railing of The Firefly, "this little whirlwind tour of New York has been fun, but what's say we take things downtown."

Adam Baldwin turned towards Barney. "Downtown?"

"If you know what I mean."

The actor looked at his cigar, and chucked the rest of it into the harbor. He started to walk away before motioning for Barney to follow. Barney started to follow when his phone rang. It was Ted.

"Barney, where are--"

"Can't talk, Ted. Quick, phone five!" Barney slapped a palm against his phone. "Now Ted, we can catch up later on the upper deck. Stay clear of Inara, though--she's got crazy eyes."

"Wait, Barney, where are you going?"

"I'll be in my bunk, Ted," Barney said with a smirk, then closed his phone. "And it will be legendary."