Disclaimer: I don't own the characters from the television shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and How I Met Your Mother.
Note: This popped into my head last summer, and it's taken me until now to get an ending in place. I figure I've done my share of answers to this challenge, but sometimes it is an easy way of bringing together two fandoms.
Kids, what I am about to tell you, is something that you're never ever going to do. It was foolish at best, and I think we passed dangerous somewhere in the middle of it. I don't even want to think about what the worst-case scenario could have been.
You're too young to know it, but sometimes when you drink a little too much, you do stupid things. Sometimes, they are extremely stupid. Other times… well, you might get lucky.
I've already told you about the pineapple incident. I still have no idea how it got there, unless I met a rabid Psych fan-girl handing out pineapples on my wanderings that night. There was also the tramp-stamp thing. But this story I'm about to tell you turned out to be a bit more serious than all the crazy stuff I’d done up until then.
It was the winter of 2010, when I woke up in a hotel bed in Las Vegas. I had no idea how I'd gotten there. My head was pounding so badly that I counted myself fortunate enough just being able to remember my own name. Minor details like transportation or occasion could wait until the timpani drums in my head decided to take a break. I was just going to lie in the nice hotel bed and not do a thing until the world resumed spinning at a normal pace again.
I'm not sure how long it took; it felt like forever, but it might just as well have been just a couple of minutes, but I noticed that there were somebody else in bed with me. With the pineapple incident coming up in conversation ever so often, I like to think that I'd learnt my lesson about just assuming that it might be Robin in bed with me.
So, I looked.
It was definitely not your Aunt Robin. Not unless she'd shrunk, and dyed her hair. I had no idea who she was, or why we were in the same bed. But why I was in Las Vegas was coming back to me.
It was all Barney's fault.
It usually is.
It was a Friday evening in February. I was hanging out at my regular place, in my usual booth – there was nothing like McLaren's, I can tell you that, kids. Things were going great at the university, and I was happily enjoying the first beer of the evening, knowing that I didn't have to work the next day. Marshall and Lily were happily planning their Valentine's Day, which normally would have been bringing me down, since there was nobody special on the horizon. Things had gone down the crapper with This year, I'd decided to take it in stride.
If I found a date, it was good. If not, well, I could probably tempt Barney and Robin into a pub-crawl or a movie marathon. Despite their going off couple-dom, they’d finally got to the point where they were alright about being in the same room without it having to be McLaren’s. And Valentine’s day, if it was possible, Barney considered to be too cheesy.
"Suit up!" Think of the devil and he’d appear.
"What am I suiting up for?"
"We're going to Las Vegas for V-day. At first I thought Paris, but that's a bit of a cliché, and I do pride myself on being much better than that. And so I came to the conclusion that Vegas would be the perfect place."
"I'm sorry, but I don't do ménage-a-trois with a former girlfriend and one of my best friends, even in Vegas. It's nice of you to ask me, though."
"Te-ed," Barney sounded exasperated. "You're not getting the picture, also, I’m your best friend. You and me, in Las Vegas. Picking up hot, single and desperate chicks. It will be the best Vagina-day ever. Did I mention they might be desperate?"
"What about Robin?" Lily asked.
"What about Robin?" Robin slid into the booth next to me.
Barney looked like he might start hyperventilating. He'd called wolf too many times with the paramedics while using pick-up lines, so I couldn't risk him actually passing out. He and Robin had reached an off-phase in their relationship a while back, but Barney was looking like he was contemplating an on-phase again. I had to do something – Barney picking up chicks in Las Vegas might be topping the strip club incident. "Robin, want to come to Vegas with us for the February 14th weekend?"
"Sure." She shrugged. "I've never been."
“Then I’ll consider it to be a part of your American education,” Barney said and gulped down some of his Scotch.
Marshall and Lily had one of their internal dialogues. "We're coming, too," Marshall said. “Lily has this thing where she wants to… uh… never mind.”
And like that, everything was getting into gear for a Valentine's day weekend in Las Vegas.
But I was still kind of woozy on the how and why I ended up in bed with the blonde.
There was drinking. I remember that. Instigated by Barney the minute the plane left New York.
“Champagne to us all,” he hailed the stewardess. I don’t know how or why, well, I do know why, but he had managed to get himself seated between Robin and myself. “It’s going to be the best V-Day ever.”
“Champagne?” Robin scoffed. “What? Are you showering us with roses next?”
Barney looked like he was considering it. “Forget it,” I whispered. “We’re in a plane.”
“True. No roses… however…”
“No magic either,” I interjected, before leaning over to whisper in his ear while Robin was caught up with the stewardess. “Do you want the damn plane landing in Nowhere, Ohio, resulting in a stay for you in a high-security prison? Because I can guarantee you that’s what’ll happen if you drag out the fiery magic tricks.”
“You’re no fun, whatsoever,” Barney pouted. “Fine.”
The rest of the trip went by in a blur of champagne, and watching Barney pretend that he wasn’t hanging onto Robin’s every word. By the time we made it to Las Vegas, I was in a pleasant buzz of not caring too much about things. Especially things like Barney organizing a suite with three bedrooms. The logistics around that, with Barney and Robin broken up, and Barney on the prowl, never stopped to concern me. This is why alcohol is the work of the devil, kids. Don’t drink.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, the blonde in my bed. I vaguely recall meeting her with some friends in the casino downstairs after we’d checked in. Large group of women, so naturally your uncle Barney had to hit on the most dangerous looking one. I ended up talking to one of the blondes.
“He’s not going to make it, is he?” I gestured in the general direction.
“Well, she might be feeling poor, or have an act of kindness, and not take him up on what he’s offering. His survival chances would go up drastically.”
“With Faith, not going there is often more prudent to survival than the experience itself. Or so I’ve been told.”
“My friend Barney, he’s the love ‘em and leave ‘em type.”
“Doesn’t matter,” the blonde shrugged. “Faith’s longest relationship to date only lasted longer than a night because the guy ended up unable to do the hot monkey dance for a while, and they had some sort of bet about doing it once he recuperated.”
“Barney’s longest relationship to date may be with the actress he hired to play his wife, so that his mother wouldn’t think that he would grow old alone.”
“That’s impressive, but I still say Faith wins.”
“Your brunette friend in the corner is looking mighty steamed. It’s not increasing Barney’s chances by a lot”
Apparently, your aunt Robin wasn’t as indifferent to your uncle Barney as we’d all assumed lately after their latest quasi-break-up. She might not have cared overly much about his regular outings with women back in New York in the last month, as there had been a tendency towards drunken knocking on her door by the end of the night, but picking up someone who looked slightly like her in Las Vegas for Valentine’s Day, was apparently out of the question.
While remembering how I’d met the blonde was fun, I was still kind of vague on the actually ending up in bed together.
The blonde next to me was waking up, and looked about as confused as I must have been looking ten minutes earlier. "Uh, who are you?"
"Ted Mosby. You?" Here was my chance to get her name cleared up.
"Buffy Summers. I'd say pleased to meet you, but I think it is pretty safe to say we met last night." She glanced around the room.
"Yeah, I remember meeting you in the lobby, with your friends. I’m not too clear on the details on how we ended up here, though.”
She wrapped the sheet tighter around herself. "There was my 30th birthday celebration… Faith insisted we’d go here, well, Las Vegas in general, not this bed, and make a splash of it.”
She shrugged with a small smile. “My birthday was in January. Now was the only time the majority of us could get away. I’ve been busy with work and classes before. My friends Willow and Xander unfortunately had to work now. And my sister Dawn is busy with finishing up her doctorate. We try to avoid celebrating on my birthday – bad things inevitably happens.”
She looked younger than 30, but whatever she said was probably true. It wasn’t often you found a woman willing to admit to turning 30.
“And you decided to come here?”
“Easy access for most of my friends, in the States. I kind of wanted to go to Monaco and play the tables there, but Faith’s not too good with the French speaking.”
“I’m pretty sure they can speak English. What with Grace Kelly, large casinos and all.”
“Well, with Faith, we try to avoid the possible international incidents that may arise if she goes abroad. Plus, not too steady with la langue française myself. I mean, I did take it in high school, but unless you’re looking to have a conversation about cows, I’m really best experienced in my native language.”
“Good to know if I ever find myself stuck at a dairy farm in France.”
“So, you’re here, why?”
“Turning the tables, very clever,” I smiled before explaining. “My friend Barney thought spending Valentine’s Day in Vegas would be fun.”
“Barney? Was he the one who was…”
“Hitting on your friend Faith? Yeah.”
“I was going to say kept shouting out words like awesome, legendary and high five.”
“That would also be Barney,” I conceded. “He’s kind of big on the catch-phrases, and the suits.”
She nodded. “So, we get why we both are in Las Vegas. But how did we end up in bed together? No offense, but I generally like to remember my groiny get-togethers. It is usually bad when I don’t.”
Kids… when your uncle Barney goes to Vegas, despite what he said about clichés and Paris… he does every single Las Vegas cliché there is in the book, and some that the book never thought about.
“Awww, come on,” Barney murmured. “It would be fun.”
We were standing in the Casino of the hotel. I’d just won a respectable sum, Barney had won a fortune… and the rest had come out pretty much even. We’d brought Buffy and her friends with us, and Barney had made quite a point of staying away from Faith when Robin was looking.
Now, he wanted to do other Vegas-y things. In retrospect, I think it was a testament to how drunk your aunt Robin was, that she decided that his proposition made sense.
“Sure. You’re all coming, right?” she addressed the rest of us. “There’s plenty of room in the limo.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Lily slurred. “It will be the most awesome Vegas souvenir, ever.”
“Getting married in Las Vegas,” Marshall said with a sense of wonder. “Who’d ever thought of it?”
I remember looking over at Buffy, Faith and some of their friends. “Sounds like a case of the more the merrier. Wanna come?”
The ride to the marriage license office was filled with more champagne, leading somehow to Buffy and myself filling out a marriage application, just for fun, in addition to Robin and Barney’s serious one.
“Hang on,” Buffy interrupted my tale. “We signed stuff while drunk? Does that even count?”
“Probably not, but it’s no big deal, unless we actually went through with it.”
Famous last words, kids. Turns out your Uncle Barney wasn’t so drunk that he did not want “A PROPER WEDDING,” with his brother and nephew in attendance, which surprised the hell out of all of us.
Some quick back and forths later (which involved drunken sobbing on Robin’s part, with the words “does this dress make me look fat, is that it?”) Buffy was the one walking up the aisle, and I was the groom waiting by the altar, with a drunken grin on my face. Marshall was my best man, and Faith had enthusiastically thrown herself into being the maid of honor, despite both Buffy and someone named Vi claimed that she had no honor.
“Hang on again,” Buffy said. “There is no way Faith would enthusiastically be anyone’s maid of honour.”
“She said something about Giles freaking out being more than enough payment for her.”
“Oh, God, Giles.”
“We went through with it,” Buffy said darkly. “Things are definitely beginning to clear up. Also, if I’m not mistaken, there should be a marriage certificate around here somewhere.”
Kids, it turns out that getting married in Las Vegas is a whole lot easier than getting divorced there.
The quickie divorce is nothing like the quickie marriage. And, as it turned out, neither Buffy nor myself were Clark County residents, nor did we intend to become it for the required six weeks period needed to get the divorce.
None of us, excluding your Uncle Marshall, a sap as always, had any thoughts towards continuing the marriage. Buffy was nice, but staying married to someone I’d only known for an afternoon seemed to need more than nice. She could have been a homicidal maniac, killing people left and right when she wasn’t celebrating her 30th birthday in Las Vegas, for all I knew. I was not up for taking that risk.
Divorce law is not exactly the same from state to state, as I’m sure Uncle Marshall has been telling you. As I was, and had been, living in New York, and as Buffy had been living in New York briefly during her moving all over the place, we decided I would start divorce proceedings in New York.
This is when having a lawyer for a best friend came in handy. We couldn’t just get a divorce in New York, no matter what Hollywood may have told you. Marshall did the research, and had us sign a separation agreement. Then, in a year, we’d be free again.
“I guess this is it,” I said as I signed the agreement.
“I guess so,” she smiled, sadly. “It was kind of fun while it lasted. After the initial panic and hangover disappeared, I mean.”
“So, what are your plans for the next year?”
She looked over at Faith, the redhead named Vi, and the rest of the motley crew. “First I have survive the trip with them without throwing either of them off the plane for mocking my marriage mishap. Then there is telling the sordid tale to Dawn, Willow, Xander and Giles. Getting a lot of wounded looks because I didn’t tell them I was getting married… Then a bit of globetrotting, I think. I have been slacking off work for a bit while I was finishing my classes, and a couple of things could do with my attention.”
“Did you get my address?”
“Yeah, I’ll send postcards. No need to beg. Grovelling is so unattractive in an estranged husband.”
I smiled. “Hey, look me up when you're in New York the next time? It might be interesting to be friends with my estranged wife.”
“Not sure when that’s going to be,” she said. “My main base in the US is going to be Cleveland, but I’ll keep the card, and see if I can stop by if the occasion arises. I do like New York.”
Things seemed to be wrapping up. “I’ll have Marshall work on the divorce as soon as he can, and let you know on e-mail once we’re officially exes.”
With a wave and a smile, she walked out of my life, followed by the large group of women all ages that she’d arrived with. I still had no explanation for why so many females, so different, yet so similar, would go to Las Vegas, or even work together, but it didn’t matter.
Over the next months, I started receiving post cards from all over the world. It started with snowy pictures from Inverness, with the text “Missing the warmth of Las Vegas. Cold, windy and wet. Buffy” on the back.
Then came Kenya, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, London, Beirut, Calcutta, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Melbourne, Buenos Aires… and I was putting them all up on the inside of my bedroom door. Robin and Lily began referring to my room as the United Nations.
On some level, I think that they would have held an intervention about it, if we hadn’t stopped having them. I was, for lack of a better term, mooning over my post cards – Googling the various places Buffy was, and sprouting very interesting pieces of information about them at McLaren’s, and I’d taken to highlighting architecture of the world in my lectures. I was pathetic, but my students seemed to be happy with the diversity.
I was so busy following my soon-to-be ex-wife’s travels, that I was not paying as much attention to the world around me. In the summer Lily begun to gain weight, especially around the middle, which should have been a great big honking clue now that I think back. And this time, there was no eating contest involved. Barney and Robin were going to Canada for the summer holidays, so he could officially meet with her family and not just trash-talk the country. I guess we all should have expected the way her father pulled out his guns on Barney by the end of the first day.
It was a rainy Monday in September, and I was preparing for the next day’s lectures when there was a knock on my apartment door.
I was not happy about being disturbed. I just wanted the lecture notes over and done with. I’d already postponed putting them together a bit too long.
It was Buffy. She was back in town, and had decided to drop in on me in the rain. She had long and interesting stories to be told, but there was one aspect I kept going back to in my mind. Finally, I just asked.
“Where did you get that yellow umbrella?”
It turns out that before going to Las Vegas with her friends, Buffy had been following various courses at Columbia for about a year, and sharing an apartment with Cindy for the duration of her time in New York.
“Wait,” I stopped her explanation. “So you were in the same room as Cindy when…?”
“You had your elegant entry into university life? Yeah. But I didn’t connect the dots until I mentioned you to Cindy in a mail. My life was kind of full last year, with work, school, friends, and all those little other things that cropped up. A professor walking into the wrong room on his first day was just a blip on the radar.”
“And the bass? Cindy said it was yours.”
“It was a gift from my friend, Oz. Before I moved in with Cindy, I’d just started learning. I was in a kind of a beginner’s band before I moved,” she shrugged. “We sucked. I still bring it with me, and I try to learn new things. I don’t suck as much anymore, but there is a long way to go before I’m any good. Anything else you wanna ask?”
I wanted to ask a million things more, but before that could happen, there was the one essential thing.
“I’m starving. Do you want to maybe grab dinner?”
It did not happen overnight, and there were plenty of hurdles in the way. But, kids, that’s the story of how I met your mother.