Title: How I Met Your Forger: The Wingman Edition
Fandoms: Inception / How I Met Your Mother
Pairing: Arthur/Eames
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2940
Summary: Barney reveals his big secret: what he actually does for a living. But mostly he just tells his awesome wingman story.
Notes: For [info]gabsy for her bid at [info]help_pakistan. I really loved your suggestions, and I hope this is close to what you were hoping for! <3

"Barney Stinson: Matchmaker," Barney announces as he makes his grand entrance at MacLaren's Pub.

Robin scoots over to make room for him in the booth. "What did you match, your socks?"

"Gather around, friends, for today marks a momentous occasion. It's time I told you all what I do for a living."

"You make matches?" Lily asks.

"It does explain his pyromaniac tendencies," Ted says with a nod.

"It still doesn't forgive what he did to my favorite basketball jersey," Marshall says, looking sullen.

Barney ignores them. "But you have to solemnly swear that it will never leave this table."

"Barney, we know what you do for a living. You work for Goliath National Bank! Marshall works there too, every day."

"Though to be honest I've never seen you do any actual... work," Marshall says, looking suspicious.

"GNB is just a cover," Barney hisses. "The office you've seen is not my actual office."

"But you've been in there every time I've come to see you!"

"Uh, because I see you coming on the security cameras, duh," Barney explains.

"Alright, Barney, tells us the big secret then. What do you really do?"

"Well, Lily, I'm glad you asked."


2 weeks earlier

"Listen, Mr. Saito. Just because you're my boss's boss's boss's boss's boss's boss's boss doesn't mean--"

"Mr. Stinson," Saito interrupts formidably. "Arthur and Mr. Eames are the best at what they do, and if you are as good as your superiors claim you to be, you will be able to perform this job optimally with the two of them on your team. Now. Do we have a problem?"

"Of course not, sir," Barney says automatically. "It's just I've never had any reason to work with a team before. I collaborate with one of our in-house architects and then I perform the extraction as quickly and efficiently as possible."

"You've never dealt with subconscious security," Saito points out. "Five minutes in a militarized mind and you'd be kicked out, ruining our chances and quite possibly our entire operation. I do believe you are the best man for the job, or I wouldn't be wasting my time having this conversation. Now I'm afraid there's no more room for argument. Arthur and Eames will be in town by 12 o'clock tomorrow afternoon."

Barney hangs up the phone with a sigh. "They never let me do anything I want!" he whines, leaning back in his new leather recliner and paging his secretary to bring him a glass of scotch.


"Lars!" Barney says when he sees the man coming through the doors to the lobby. He's followed by a man in an exquisite suit, which Barney is about to ask about before he is cut off by Lars' reply.

"It's Eames now, Barney. 'Lars' was just a cover for that job."

Barney laughs at the memory. He turns to the man who must be Arthur, elaborating, "My first time training with a forger. I'm meant to be blending in while I try to spot him, but I just can't help walking up to the blonde with legs up to here and asking if she wants to take a break with me upstairs, if you know what I mean."

"You should have seen the look on his face," Eames tells Arthur, who looks vaguely disapproving. The elevator dings as the doors close, and Barney puts in his key to access their exclusive floor.

"I can hardly be blamed for it! He was wearing the skimpiest dress I've ever had the pleasure of seeing, and he had huge boobs!"

Eames is shaking his head subtly back and forth, but Barney misses it because he's using his hands to estimate how huge they in fact were.

"No?" Barney says when he catches the movement. "Bigger? Eames, you're good and all, but I really don't think they were bigger."

Eames sighs and scrubs a hand over his face. "Arthur, this is Barney. And yes, he's always like this."

"Pleasure," Arthur says shortly, and Barney finally gets a good look at his suit.

"Is that a Dunhill original?"

Arthur arches an eyebrow and smiles for the first time since he walked into the building.

"Oh boy, here we go," Eames says.


It doesn't even take Barney half a day to figure it out.

Eames bickers with Arthur for the greater part of the morning about the best way to train Barney against a militarized subconscious. Eames insists that they should do it here, on the private floor of the GNB building, because it's more secure. Arthur says it should be in Barney's apartment for convenience, since it will have to happen after-hours given their current timeline.

When Eames goes with Barney to pick up lunch, Barney breaches the subject gently. "So, you want to bang the point man."

Eames chokes on his sandwich, but once he's recovered, he concedes, "I want to do more than that."

"What up," Barney says, holding his hand up for a high five.

Eames stares at it reluctantly, but Barney gives him his most convincing encouraging expression and gets the high five.

When they get back to GNB, Barney goes straight to Arthur, toting Eames behind him.

"Hey, Arthur. Arthur." Barney pauses, but Arthur keeps scribbling at his notes. "Arthur."

Arthur sighs and looks up.

"Haaaave you met Eames?"

Eames shakes him off, saying, "Stop trying to help, Barney."

Arthur shoots a confused look at Eames, who shrugs and changes the subject. "Did you eat anything?"

Arthur shakes his head. "I've just about got these notes done on the mark's fighting strategies. She takes krav maga, so that will certainly influence her projections. You should read up on these notes while I'm gone."

He's talking to Barney, but he glances over at Eames more than once. Interesting.

Barney calls one of their architects upstairs for a 'meeting' after that, eager to learn the best route for the dream. He requests Gregory by name - he's never failed Barney in the past, and he's a quick designer.

Thirty minutes later, Gregory already has a sketch of how the floor should be laid out, and which way Barney should maneuver it to escape the projections.

"But how will we not arouse suspicion from the mark if we're running up and down corridors?" Eames asks, peering at the design.

"We could challenge her to a footrace!" Barney suggests, already picturing the layout of the track.

"Or we could just make--"

"Where the hell did you come from?" Barney shrieks at Arthur, who has suddenly appeared at his side.

"I took the stairs."

"Arthur prefers not to ride elevators," Eames explains without looking up.

"Stairs are more reliable."

Barney twists around in his chair, and sure enough, there's a door along the far wall with a sign reading STAIRS and a big red EXIT sign over the top. "Huh. How long has that been there?"

Arthur ignores him and continues his earlier sentence. "We could just make it a more private location, somewhere she wouldn't expect to see many people. It would make your job all the more important," he says to Eames, "and Barney, you'll have to play some sort of service role."

"Spa weekend!" Barney declares, smiling hugely at the three of them.

Gregory frowns. "Barney, most of the time I have no idea what you're talking about."

"No, it's perfect. Eames will go in as her best friend, and I'll be the hot guy that comes in to give her the massage! Once she's all loose and horny, I'll ask her to move all her valuables to the safe before moving to the sauna."

"Where does that leave Arthur?"

"I'll be the receptionist. I need to be mobile as soon as the projections start to get suspicious. And I think, in this case, it's safest if I'm the dreamer. That way neither of you will be targeted right away."

"You're on board with this plan?" Eames asks, looking skeptical.

Arthur shrugs. "Unless you think you can't play a convincing best friend."

Barney observes Eames' chuckle and Arthur's smirk and thinks, oh, this is going to be easy. The job might go okay too.


"But you have to let me be your wingman. I have an outstanding track record! Seriously, do you want references? I've got references."

"Barney, there is nothing you can say or do that is going to convince Arthur to sleep with me."

"Challenge accepted!"

Eames laughs. "You've gotten more insufferable since that training job in Helsinki."

Barney takes it as agreement. "Eames, I've wanted to say this to you since we met on the Helsinki job. Suit up!"


The suit makes Arthur pause, and Barney's sure his work is over before it's begun, but then Arthur clears his throat and goes straight to his desk without even saying hello. Barney blames Eames for refusing to wear a tie.

He brings alcohol upstairs a few days later and leaves them alone to do 'research' for the afternoon, but Eames texts him before long to let him know that Arthur is irritated that he took off early and also refuses to drink anything in Eames' presence.

He pays more attention, after that, to when Arthur's focus seems to be most directed at Eames. With his data gathered and mentally organized, Barney orchestrates the perfect scenario. He asks Eames to summarize for the two of them what he's surmised from his observation of the mark, and right before he's about to begin, Barney hands him a popsicle.

"Barney, I don't want a popsicle. You've just asked me to give a summary."

"Hurry up, before it melts," Barney says with an encouraging nod.

As Eames rambles, occasionally gesturing with the popsicle, Barney is sure it's working. Arthur's focus is rapt on Eames, his eyes following the movement of the popsicle when it disappears into Eames' mouth. To put the cherry on top of the perfect wingman sundae, Barney leans over to Arthur and whispers, "I only had one popsicle. You should ask Eames to share next time."

Arthur looks completely non-interested as he gazes back at Barney, and the look holds as he glances back toward Eames. "I'll put all this together with what I've got so far, and we'll use it in tonight's training at Barney's place."

Eames nods, business-like, and Barney feels like he's failed them both.


Training at Barney's place means alone time with Arthur, and Barney decides to make one last effort, for Eames' sake.

Of course, training mostly means running from Arthur's angry projections after manipulating some random bit of their perceived world, so it doesn't come up very easily.

"Running isn't going to be enough. You need a paradox!" Arthur shouts, shooting down the closest group of murderous pedestrians.

"What, like a woman who can resist me?"

"No, Barney. Something that can't happen in the real world, not something that happens all the time."

The sidewalk twists suddenly, dumping the projections into the open air as Arthur and Barney stand safely on the upward side.

Barney laughs, regarding Arthur with a smile. "Did you just make a joke?"

Arthur's mouth tilts upward at the corners. "It's been known to happen."

"Arthur," Barney says sincerely, "I like you. You're good at your job, you know how to handle a gun, and most importantly, you have magnificent taste in suits. I might even go so far as to say that you're awesome. But there's one thing you lack."

Arthur raises his eyebrows obligingly, so Barney continues, "Eames, in your bed."

Arthur utters a quiet laugh, edging around the corner of a building to check for wayward projections. "I like you, Barney. You've got a good head on your shoulders, you know how to separate your work life from your personal life, and you're fiercely loyal. But despite all that, you can be really clueless."

"I don't know what you mean."

"Eames doesn't want to sleep with me."

Barney dreams up a glass of water so he can do a spit-take. Arthur is not amused.

"Eames and I worked a job together last month, a simple extraction with a mutual friend. When it was over, we went out for drinks to celebrate."

Barney arches an eyebrow. Eames had failed to mention this story.

"At the end of the night, after several shots of Crown Royale, I invited him over for the night. He turned me down."

Arthur says it so nonchalantly with a well-timed shrug that Barney can see straight through the act. He pauses in the middle of the street to study Arthur's body language, so he doesn't see the projection rounding the corner in a pickup truck.

When Arthur jerks awake a few seconds later, Barney doesn't mention their conversation.


"Hullo, Barney."

"You bastard!" Barney shouts, moving in quickly to push all of Eames' notes off his desk and onto the floor. "You don't want to sleep with him at all! You want to live together and bake cookies and stare out at your white picket fence and," he shudders, "make love."

"You got all that from 'hullo'?" Eames asks in an annoyed tone, bending down to pile up his papers and place them back on his desk.

"You used me. For domesticity." Eames gives him a nonplussed look. "Go on, admit it."

"Yes, Barney. I care for Arthur a great deal. If he'd allow me, I would take him to dinner and buy him things and maybe, if the time was right, even wear a tie. He and I are hardly ones for white picket fences, but if that's what it required, then I'd make a concerted effort." He rambles all of this off matter-of-factly as he shifts through the papers scattered over his desk, trying to regain some sense of organization. "And anyway, it didn't work, so I've hardly tarnished your resume with my ulterior motives."

"Oh, didn't it?"

Eames heaves a weary sigh and glances up at Barney. "What are you on about now?"

Barney simply nods over Eames' shoulder to where Arthur is standing, eyes wide, fingers clutching at the strap of his messenger bag.

"He took the stairs," Barney supplies helpfully.

Eames shoots him a murderous look, but when he turns back around, Arthur is striding purposefully toward him.

"Eames, you're a fucking idiot," Arthur says, fondness evident in his tone.

"Well that's not a very nice thing to say after he-- oh. Wow, that is some inventive use of tongue. Do you guys mind if I take notes?"

"Barney, much as I appreciate all your unsolicited help," Eames says, breath catching as Arthur bites at his neck, "could you kindly sod off?"

"Sure, of course. Alone time." He winks. "Got it." A pause, then he lifts both hands in the air. "Success five!"

They both turn to Barney and give him identical measuring looks. Barney nods and smiles encouragingly.

They oblige him after a moment of deliberation, and it feels like success.


The job goes off with very few hitches, in the end.

At one point, there is some far off shouting and the echo of gunfire, and the mark's best friend Tiffany looks uncharacteristically worried until Barney shoots her a look to remind her of the task at hand.

He gives Tiffany her massage first, then allows her to go ahead into the steam room while he moves on to give the mark her own massage. He's got her all buttered up and is just about to make his move when Arthur bursts into the room, looking composed but with a slightly manic look in his eye.

"I'm terribly sorry to interrupt, but we had a minor security issue and I just wanted to make sure everything was okay in here."

The mark smiles wickedly. "She's in there," she says, tilting her head at the steam room. "Don't look like that. I saw you eyeing her on our way in. Go on, I won't tell anyone."

Barney tilts his head at the steam room as well. If there's one thing that working alone all these years has taught him, it's how to improvise.


"And then I got the information - and her number - just by giving the best. Back massage. Ever."

There is a hefty pause as Barney takes a drink. He allows them a few moments to let it all sink in.

"So you're saying that you go into people's dreams--"

"--without their permission--"

"--to gather information from their subconscious?"

"Uh, yeah, that's what I said," he says, leaving the 'duh' implied.

In unison, they all burst out laughing. There is a chorus of "yeah right"s, and then Marshall motions for silence saying, "Hey, guys. Guys." He pauses. "In your dreams."

"Very funny," Barney says over their laughter. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I dreamt it. ...or did I?"

"I don't know what's more of a stretch," Ted says. "Invasive dream technology, or Barney doing something nice in the name of True Love." He laughs at his own joke. "Right?"

Nobody laughs. Lily takes Marshall's hand in her own, and Robin looks back at Barney with a small smile.

"You can ask them yourself. They're sitting at that table right back there."

He looks back at Arthur, who is smiling so hard his dimples are showing, and Eames, who looks amazed and pleased to have put that smile there. Eames catches his eye and waves shortly, and Barney tilts his glass in Eames' direction in a salute.

Ted refuses to believe it, but Barney just sits back to bask in the glow of a job well done.


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