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[FIC] Fate (Part 1): HIMYM

Title: Fate (Part 1)
Rating: PG-ish for now
Pairing: Ted/Other, Barney/Robin, Lily/Marshall, Ensemble
Setting: After the Season 5 premiere, but kind of AU for everything afterwards
Word count: 1,300 give or take a few words
Summary: Going back to school was a simple decision that changed her life forever.

If there was such a thing as fate, she would definitely label her decision to go back to school as just that. Sure, at the time, it was a last resort, something that was plainly not something she was ever hoping would happen.

Growing up with two older brothers, Erin Milley was protected, which is what made her post-college years so difficult. She was the baby sister who no one would ever have the opportunity to hurt. It was as if she was the precious diamond no one could every take away. Only, eventually, she wasn’t taken away; she left on her own free will.

The decision to leave her Southern Californian hometown wasn’t something she’d been itching to do her whole life, but it had always been in the back of her head, prodding her inner-self to notice all of the flaws of staying in California her whole life. It wasn’t as if she didn’t love California, which she did (the weather, the beach, the laid back attitude...what more could anyone wish for?) but she was always a free spirit who loved new places. New York City had excitement, bright lights, four seasons and the promises of a new beginning.

So, when Erin was accepted into New York University’s freshman class her senior year of high school, she knew that’s where she wanted to go.

And, she knew exactly what she wanted to study. Architecture was not exactly a grand feature in her hometown, but in New York, architectural glory was everywhere. The Empire State Building, one of the great architectural masterpieces in the world, was right in the middle of the city and here was something about that building, the way it loomed over the skyline, that made it so soothing and breathtaking (Random Empire State Building Fact #1: There are 6,500 windows on the entire face of the building). Ever since an 8th grade trip to the Big Apple, Erin had been obsessed with the city and its buildings, dreaming of one day adding her own contribution to one of the greatest skylines in the world.

But, of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray and for Erin, it was no different. Six years out of college and the closest she’s gotten to an actual architecture firm was making copies as a receptionist for a law firm next door to an architecture firm. Everything had gone wrong once she got out of college and the once sheltered girl had to face the big bad world all alone.

Sure, she made enough to afford a small third story walk up in Manhattan with an old college friend as a roommate, but she had dreams of becoming a real architect, not one who made copies for real architects.

Technically, idea came from her dad, who, at a family get together during her mother’s birthday in June, had mentioned that it was never too late to start over. Then, everything just fell into place. Erin mulled over the idea of going to graduate school for weeks before calling her brothers up, asking them to consider helping her financially for a semester or two while she found another, better paying job (her current jobs were waiting tables at a diner in Brooklyn during the day and working at a concert venue at night).

When her father found out, he loaned her some money to help, and with his help, in addition to her brother’s loans, Erin applied for Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture. Getting accepted wasn’t exactly something she was expecting, but when the letter did come in the mail, it was as if her life was finally falling into place. No more crazy obscure dead-end jobs, no more weird sleeping schedule to keep up with her going-broke lifestyle. She was a student now and all she had to worry about was being a student. Eventually, she would create masterpieces.

Her first day of school, the 22nd first day of school she’d experienced, was interesting. Sure, most of her fellow classmates were years younger, but for the first time in a long time, Erin felt like she belonged. Everyone around her loved architecture as much as she did and it was refreshing.

College life was exactly as she had remembered it, stressful, yet still relaxing in that life in college seemed to exist in a little bubble. Everyone was incredibly interesting, but also incredibly smart. College was where Erin really thrived when she was an undergraduate, and really, going graduate school was like crawling back into an old familiar shell.

Most interesting of all were her professors. She’d expected old guys who droned on about architecture in lecture halls filled with people, but she was pleasantly surprised. Her professors were nothing like those she had when she was at NYU. They were passionate, inspiring, down-to-earth people who loved what they were doing. At least, one of them was.

On her first day, she stumbled into Architecture 101 (she had to retake some elementary courses to catch up. Six years was a long gap to not be in school) ten minutes late, with ten excuses already planned out and ready to use, only to find that her professor wasn’t there yet. She was in a small room with about thirty other people all seated with laptops open, looking around, confused.

Erin looked around warily before spotting a seat near the front of the classroom. Shuffling past her classmates, she plopped down next to a girl who looked about a few years younger. She was typing furiously on her computer, glancing every so often at the door.

Erin took out her own laptop, setting it up quietly on her desk. Suddenly, the door flew open and the edge of a poster board appeared at the doorway. Slowly, a man followed, looking flustered and out-of-breath. The poster he was holding was turned the opposite way, with the picture facing away from Erin, but she couldn’t help but be curious to what was on the other side of the giant rectangle.

“Sorry, Sorry, I went to the wrong room. It’s my first day, too.” The man appeared to be their professor. Erin was surprised; the man looked young, only a few years older than herself. He had crazy black hair and ears that stuck out endearingly. The professor scrambled down the steps of the stadium-styled seating of the room towards the front, slamming a bag down on the desk.

Immediately, everyone quieted down and stared at the man at the front of the room. The professor talked as he put down the poster board, leaning it on the desk.

“Hi, I’m really sorry, I just spent the last twenty minutes acting like a total douche in front of a large group of people who all knew I was in the wrong room. Sorry about that.” He shuffled with some papers from his bag and turned towards the class.

“So, I’m Professor Mosby and this is Architecture 101. Uh, a little bit about myself...I went to Wesleyan for undergraduate school before moving to New York to work for an architecture firm. I did that for a few years before a series of weird events led me to teach here.” He waved his arms around while he talked and Erin couldn’t help but laugh.

“Anyways, today we’re going to talk about,” Professor Mosby paused to pick up the poster board and turned it around. “the Empire State Building.”

The opposite side of the poster was a huge picture of the one building that made Erin want to be an architect in the first place. She beamed at Professor Mosby and he caught her eye, letting out a huge sigh of relief before proceeding to talk about the building (Random Empire State Building Fact #2: There are 1,860 steps from the ground level to the 102nd floor of the building).

Smiling back at Professor Mosby (was it wrong to think her professor was hot, even if he was only a few years older?) Erin decided that going back to school was definitely a good idea.

A/N: Yeah, so not really sure where I'm going with this yet, but I have a few parts in my head that will be up soon.