His first Christmas


Lily was in full Yuletide swing, turning the apartment into a Christmas haven. Ever since she was a child, she’d always loved decorating for Christmas. It was such a happy holiday, so much love going around. She hummed as she decorated the tree with all the ornaments in the boxes.

Barney, however, wasn’t singing. In fact, he looked like he was moping. His cell phone was in his hand and he was glaring at it as though it was the reason for all the problems in the world.

“Hey Barney,” said Lily. “Wanna help with the decorations?”

Barney looked up, almost blearily. He was wearing a suit – she’d learned quickly that he always wore a suit; she’d never seen him in anything else – and was sitting almost sunken into the couch. “What’s the point?”

She sat down on the side of the couch. “What’s up?”

“My Vegas flight is cancelled,” said Barney morosely.

“You were going to Vegas for Christmas?”

“Always do.” He sighed. “But now the flight is cancelled because of all the snow.”

“What about your family?”

He snorted, but said nothing. She didn’t know him well enough yet to feel she had any right to pry, so she left it at that.

“So why don’t you celebrate Christmas with us instead?” Lily wasn’t sure that the others would appreciate her inviting him, but they’d just have to suck it up. She wasn’t about to leave Barney with nowhere to go during Christmas, even if he could be extremely annoying.

Barney perked up as though she had offered him a million dollars. “Really?”

She smiled. “Of course. I’m sure Ted and Marshall won’t mind at all.”

Barney’s smile turned wide and his eyes lit up. “Then I’ll help you decorate!”

Lily’s eyebrows rose as Barney bounced off the couch. Was this really the same guy that she’d talked to thirty seconds ago?

An hour later when Ted and Marshall came home, both with snow on their shoulders and in their hair, Lily and Barney had finished decorating the apartment and were working on cookies and other sweets. Barney was even wearing a red and white apron, and there was a bit of flour on his cheek. He was flushed and grinning and talking fast – she’d never seen him act this way.

“Here, here,” said Barney, giving Ted and Marshall a heart shaped cookie each. “There’s more to come!”

He returned to the kitchen while Ted grabbed Lily’s arm and dragged her to the other end of the apartment. Marshall followed, munching on his cookie.

“Lily, is there something you want to tell us?” asked Ted, sending a frown towards the kitchen.

Lily smiled serenely. “I invited him to do Christmas with us.”

“Christm—are you insane? That’s Barney,” Ted said. “The guy who drags a different woman home each night and whom we really don’t know very well? You invited him to celebrate Christmas with us?”

“He was lonely,” said Lily. It had been a perfectly reasonable invite, after all. “And sad.”

“He doesn’t seem sad,” Marshall pointed out. “These cookies are delicious.”

Lily shrugged. “He’s been this way since I asked him. His flight got cancelled and he looked really down.”

“What was he doing here in the first place?” Ted asked.

“He came over looking for you,” Lily said. “I asked him if he wanted to wait until you got back.”

Marshall pulled her into a kiss. “You’re a good person.”

“I am, aren’t I?” Lily smiled and hugged him.

Ted was looking towards the kitchen. They could all hear Barney singing happily – and on key, which was a nice change from Lily’s off-key humming.

“Don’t you think he’s getting too happy about a simple Christmas?”

Lily wanted to say no, this is perfectly normal, but she knew it wasn’t. The switch she had seen from sad and lonely and needing-a-hug to happy and singing, just from being invited to have Christmas with some new friends – it was a little strange. Considering his lack of answer about his family, she could only imagine what kind of home he had grown up in. If he always celebrated Christmas in Vegas, then he had to be one of the thousands of people who wanted to avoid Christmas as much as possible. Gambling away every penny at a casino probably did the trick to forget what time of the year it was.

“He’s nice,” Lily said. “And there are no girls here – well, except me, and I’m taken – so we won’t have to deal with him flirting. Besides, I already bought a Christmas gift for him anyway, so why not have him here?”

Marshall shrugged. “I don’t mind. As long as he keeps making cookies. And as long as he’s okay with sleeping on the couch, because I’m not having him in my bed.”

“You don’t have to, I promise,” Lily smiled.

Ted sighed. “Fine. He can stay. But if he does the whole ‘I’m your best friend’ thing again, I’m probably gonna strangle him.”

“Nope,” said Lily. “No strangling on Christmas. You can wait until after Christmas for that. Now,” she grabbed them both by the arms, “Plaster on some smiles and play nice with the new kid. We have some cookies to taste and some presents to wrap. After all, we’re going to make this the very best Christmas ever.”

And they did – and Lily kept the memory of Barney’s shining eyes when he received her Christmas gift close to her heart. It helped a lot to remember that, when Barney was being his usual ‘awesome’ and smug self.

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