Characters belong to Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. Not me. Story line is my own.

Lily was the one to notice him first. It was a little odd, considering as they hadn't seen him for a week. Normally it would be Ted that would notice him. After all, they were brothers, wing-men, as he liked to say. She never really liked that reference. They all remembered the time Ted tried to teach Barney to drive… and the idea of him being the pilot in a fighter jet was down-right scary. But Lily had been the one to notice their missing comrade, not Ted.

"Barney?" Every looked over their shoulders when she spoke up, eyes on the door. It was silly, but the only way she could tell it was Barney was the blond hair and the suit. True, it was very rumpled… it looked slept in. But it was a suit. Ted was the one to get up, grab a chair and offer it for the very tired looking man to slump in.

"Hey, haven't seen you all week." Marshall was the one to say this, catching everyone off. They worked together. Wouldn't he have seen him at least once in a board meeting?

"Yeah, ah. It's been a long week." Something wasn't quite right with him. His eyes were down, face pale, no cheeky grin…

"You okay Barney? We haven't even had a text from you. You look terrible." Robin always was the one to say what the others didn't want to.

"I haven't slept well okay!" Lily hated it when he snapped at them. She preferred his dirty looks, his nasty mouth, his flashy magic. Anger was not something she liked from him. She had seen what his anger could do; there was a hole in the wall to prove it.

His eyes were dull. A bit shiny, like there was a weird film over them, but otherwise dull. They were such a sparkling blue, they shouldn't be so lifeless. Hadn't slept well? Obviously not.

"Shouldn't you go home and get some sleep?" Ted, voice of reason, sadly mistaken.

"I've been there all week." The waitress had passed by, handing Barney his scotch before cleaning off the table next to them. He grumbled into it, sipping before pulling a face and putting it down.

"You've been home, asleep, all week?" Lily didn't want to believe it. But with his head down, Barney nodded.

"Guys… I think I'm sick."

"You don't get sick, remember? You stop being sick and you get awesome." Robin smirked, but a look from Lily whipped it off. "What could make you sick?"

Barney shrugged. Something wasn't right, not at all.


Ted's phone rang, starting him awake and grappling for it. Who would be calling him at three in the morning?! A glance at his ID told him it was Stinson. God, if that man was stuck in some sex thing again…

"'Lo?"

There was a pause; the only sound was heavy breathing. Oh ick, please, not during sex, that's just gross.

"Ted?" Ted? Not Mosby? First name, not last, that wasn't part of the Bro Code.

"Can, um. Can you come over? Please?" It was Barney; it was his phone, his voice. But it wasn't him. Something wasn't quite what it should be.

"Sure, you need me to bring anything?"

"No, no… just, can you be here, please?"

"Yeah, I'll be right over."

Ted would have given anything to have said no. Right now, he wished he had turned his phone off. So he didn't have to see this, so he didn't have to realize just how much trouble his friend was in. Because opening the door to the overly clean apartment put him in a horror movie. The door opened, but there was no one there. Only a trail of blood from the couch to the unused kitchen. It lead to the apartment's resident, who was sitting in front of his sink in nothing but his boxers, hands holding a dish towel to the bottom half of his face; face towel and hands covered in blood. Hearing the footsteps, the blonde's eyes caught his friend's.

"You called me out here for a nose bleed?" Ted hadn't meant to sounds so mean. Hadn't meant to sound so full of hate. But he had been pulled out of bed so early in the morning, to see this.

"Ted, I think I'm going to die."

Grabbing another towel Mosby sighed and sat next to Barney, pulling his hands away carefully to see what they were up against. As soon as the pressure was pulled away gobs of blood slid from the thin nostrils, landing on the floor between Barney's knees. The new towel was put into place, Ted helping the other to stand. Leaning him over the sink they worked together to wash Barney's hands and arms clean, Ted dabbing at his friend's face.

"You're not going to die. Want to tell me how this happened?"

"I sneezed."

"Come on, who did you screw, and when did her boyfriend come in and deck you?"

The look that Barney gave him made Mosby wish he could take it back.

"I was watching the news Mosby. I turned it off, sneezed, and it started to bleed." The news? But, that was…

"Stinson, that was over half an hour ago." The bluegray eyes dropped back to the sink.

"Why do you think I woke you up?"

There was quiet, Ted thinking back to the bar. Barney had been so abnormally quiet, he was so pale… slept for a week? There was something wrong, bleeding from the nose for over thirty minutes. Sighing he let Barney at the sink, going to the suit room and pulling out the worst looking pieces of crap the man owned. There was only one of them, and boy was it hard to find. But find it he did, and only after he made sure to dig out the only pair of flip-flops the man owned (on a bet, he bought them) did he go back out. Barney hadn't moved. He still stood over the sink.

"Come on Barney, I have clothes for you. I'm taking you to the hospital. Forty minutes with a bloody nose is too long." Barney nodded. He didn't fight back? Ted didn't want to deal with this.