Title Barely Afloat
Chapter (1/1 or 2/3 depending on how you look at it!)
Author Devylish
Pairing Barney/Lily
Rating R
Words 1710
Warnings Ummm character death?, offensive language, sexual suggestions
Spoilers I think you're good if you've seen through three.
Disclaimer All publicly recognizable characters, settings, plot, etc. are the property of the creators of the TV show How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM). Any original characters, settings and plots are the property of devylish. devylish is in no way associated with the TV show HIMYM and no copyright infringement is intended. This work is an amateur fan effort and no profit is being made.
AN unbeta'd AN2 Not light-hearted AN3 conceivably a 2nd part of Not Breathing (w w w . fanfiction .net/secure/story/story_?storyid=4769010&chapter=1), but can be read as a standalone. Erh, might make a 3rd part that can be read as a standalone…..


This had never been his goal. It had never been on his radar. Never.

Some people might not believe him if they heard him say that, but, it was true. Barney the womanizer never really considered the possibility of fucking Lily Aldrin.

Oh, don't get him wrong, he teased her, he waggled his tongue lasciviously in her direction, but it was just that, 'teasing'. Playing. He did it to all women; it kept his hunting skills sharp.

But, he never really considered Lily as a viable option.

He never really thought he'd be balls deep in her warmth.

Yet, here he was. Balls. Deep. In Lily Aldrin.

And it only took Marshall's death for him to get there.

Would it be evil of him to say it was worth it?

Yeah it would be.

But, fuck… Lily was tight, and wet, and hot beneath him. And she was calling his name. Moaning Barney in a voice, a tone, he'd quickly become addicted to.

Honestly, would he wish Marshall dead, wish Lily to endure all of the pain she'd suffered at Marshall's loss, just to end up where he was?


But, knowing what he knew now, how she felt, how she sounded, how she tasted…, he would have hounded her, hunted her…, taken her from Marshall.

He wasn't completely positive how he'd ended up where he was at this moment. It wasn't like Marshall died and Lily dropped trou and spread her legs. No. She'd spent months, almost a year in darkness so deep she nearly drowned in it.

At first, he'd given her her space. He let the others pull her into their embraces and murmur their sweet condolences. But it wasn't long before they were done with their hugs and soothing words. It wasn't long before they felt they'd done all they could to help Lily Aldrin recover from the loss of her husband. It wasn't long at all. And it wasn't nearly enough.

It had surprised him that he was the only one who seemed to see the darkness that Lily was sinking in; the inky sorrow that clung to her like a second skin.

But he was.

He was the only one.

Ted, Robin, still her friends, but lost and trapped in their own worlds, stopped by with beer, and coffee, and smiles. Smiles that she faintly echoed. Plastered on her face until they walked back out the door. Leaving her alone.

I…, I stopped by with coffee and beer too. And food. Apparently, I was the only one who could see how small she was getting. She was wasting away. So yeah, I brought coffee, and beer, and food.

But, when I came, I didn't leave. I'd sit with her, my arms wrapped around her tiny frame, and I'd force her to 'be' with someone. To be in the same space with someone. To be tethered to the world, to reality. To me.

Sometimes, she seemed to want to be anchored to humanity. She would cling to me like a dream in the mornings light. Desperately, longingly.

But always chastely.

Other times, I was privy to Aldrin anger. Which was a sight to behold. The woman could be a bitch of amazing capacities; nails, claws, teeth, and screams that would put a banshee to shame. And I was the recipient of that anger. That helpless, all consuming, hatred of her life -- her present, her future, her past -- the whole fucking world. My presence at times like this was… not appreciated.

But I didn't leave. I let the blows be struck and the blood bleed; and I brought food, and drink, and I'd sit with her, my arms wrapped around her tiny frame, and I'd force her to 'be' with someone. To be with me.

But always chastely.

We did this for nearly a whole year. Her floating, barely conscious on the dark sea; me her buoy, chained to her, keeping her safe in the middle of the night.

And then, one day, it was different. Everything was different.

It was 6 or 7 at night, and I walked into Lily's place as I always did, key in lock, food and drinks in hand.

But instead of finding her curled up on the couch, or buried under a mound of bed clothes in her room, I found her walking out of the bathroom. Strappy four inch heels, small sleek green dress clinging to her lithe form, and her hair up with those little wisps gracing her shoulders.

This was a side of Aldrin I hadn't been graced by before. Kitten. Sex kitten. And I didn't quite get how it fit into her being lost and lonely without Marshall.

At least, I didn't get it immediately.

She told me she was going out. Out being to some dive bar somewhere far away from her apartment so that she wouldn't run into someone she knew. Once she got to that bar where no one would know her, she was going to find some guy. Some man, as random and as hot as possible, and she was going to take him; take him to a hotel room, or back to his place, and she was going to fuck him.

What scared me the most was the fact that she actually looked me in the eye as she described her plans for the evening; she looked me in the eye without the hint of a blush, or embarrassment. She was… detached. Removed.

I watched as she began to review the contents of her purse – condoms, lipstick, condoms, perfume, condoms….

And suddenly, I understood WHY she wanted to do what she was planning to do. Why she was dressed as she was; why she was suddenly intent upon finding someone…, anyone.

She wanted to feel again.

She wanted to feel something… anything… even if that 'something/anything' was fleeting. Even if it was disgust.

She simply wanted to feel.

I understood. But, I couldn't let her do it. Some people were built for… whoring; built for being broken and dragged under again and again and again; all for the small addictive pain that the pleasure delivered.

I, for instance, was built for it. I could use my body to touch the emotions – briefly – that everyone else lived through.

I was broken, and I knew it. But broken was all I had ever been…. It was all I knew how to do. Lily, Lily had been whole – before - and free. If I let her do this now, she'd feel again, but she'd never be whole again. She'd never be free from the specter of Marshall – and what could have been.

So I ask her.

"Does it have to be a stranger?"

She's half listening, counting condoms I think. "What?"

"Does it have to be a stranger?"

"Does what have to be a," her voice trailed off in understanding.

She looks me in the eye. She doesn't do that much anymore. Not since Marshall's death. She doesn't look at anyone in the eye that often. I don't think she likes the emptiness she sees reflected there.

I step further into the room, dropping the Chinese food and drinks on the coffee table. I keep moving until I'm standing right in front of her. Invading her space. Sharing my space.

She's staring at my neck now, her lashes long and flush against her cheeks. Pale cheeks. She still isn't eating enough.

I lift my hand to her cheek. She's warm, not unnaturally so. I look at her chest to see if she's breathing. And she is. She's alive. Barely breathing, empty, floating in a grey morass, but, she's still alive.

My thumb smoothes across her cheek -- warm, and pale, and silky -- and pauses on her bottom lip.

"Barney, what are you doing?"

"Stopping you from doing something unbelievably stupid, Aldrin."

"You can't stop me. I can't… I won't stay here, this way, any more." She looks me in the eyes again; her eyes so big and so open. They're filled with the truth. "I can't take this anymore." Her nostrils flare, and she blinks back a sudden attack of tears. "I use to feel alive. I use to want to do things. I wanted to live, and to breathe, and," her voice broke, "I don't want to do those things anymore. I can't feel anything anymore, nothing except for this kind of aching hole where my life use to be. My life with… with Mar-Marshall."

She starts to back away from me, but I grab her arms holding her in place. Unable to let her go.

"Barney, let go. You can't stop me. I refuse to sit around here anymore, alone, and empty. I'm… I'm going to do whatever it takes to – to start feeling again."

I pull her closer.

"Let go!"

"I haven't let go of you once in the past year. I'm not going to let go of you now."

She struggled against me, a kitten with claws and spitfire and shadows. "Stinson, let me the fuck go!"

I shift so that one of my hands is on the curve of her ass, just where it meets her lower back. My other hand rests at the back of her neck, cradling her head. She's closed her eyes now. And her hands are trapped between our bodies; against my chest. I can feel the pressure of her pushing against me, away from me.

"Let me help you Lily."

"You can't help me! No one can help me! Damnit, just let me go!"

"If you want to feel something with someone; feel it with me. I'll make you feel Lil. I'll make every inch of your body feel."

"We can't."

Her arms were weakening.

"Why not? If you're ready to find some anonymous stranger who, may or may not, have what it takes to make you forget…, go with a sure thing. Go with me. I swear I'll make you forget, for just a little while, about everything."

And then, suddenly, she stopped fighting me; her arms bend against my chest, her body rests pliantly against mine and she quietly gives me license to help her. License to help her breathe and float and live – for just a little while.